closed game, absolute pin

pg-13 |major character death

It had been inevitable, he supposed.

There had to be a timeline where they failed. He had only hoped that he wouldn't end up in it. Now he was doomed to repeat everything. Well, not him, exactly. The other him.

He could change one thing, though. He glanced over at the woman sitting next to him. He would make sure Diana never went to the moon. The other him wouldn't get those three years, but it meant she would survive. She had somehow lived through the pandemic and the explosions, and it wouldn't be a perfect life on Earth, but it would be a life. She could still be happy.

He would verbally assault her, berate her, do something to make her despise him, make her never want to follow him. It made his stomach turn, but he would physically menace her, if that's what it took to keep her safe. She would live hating him, but she would live. That was all that mattered.

Luna could still be born. The other him would know her from the time in Rhizome 9. And while he was here, he could sketch out what Luna should look like - well, once he got the replacement limbs - and leave details so there was no paradox. It wouldn't be too hard to get a replica of her neckl-

Diana suddenly let out a gasp and slumped over.

"No! Diana!" He was helpless, unable to do anything except look at her. She seemed to be only unconscious; her chest was rising and falling. Maybe the stress of the situation had just gotten to her.

"Life is simply unfair. Don't you think?"

He turned to see Zero approaching, a gun in his hand.

"Asshole! What did you do to her?!"

"As you've already surmised, I've only put her to sleep. I need to retrieve the bracelets before help arrives."

He tried to get to his feet, which was not an easy task without arms. Zero instantly pointed his gun directly at Diana's head, stopping Sigma in his futile task.

"I'll need to put you to sleep, as well. It's necessary. I do appreciate you already disposing of your bracelet for me."

"Do you have any fucking clue what you've done?" Even though he knew his arms were gone, he swore he could feel his hands clenched into fists. He wanted so badly to take Zero down and pummel the living shit out of him.

"I have saved mankind." Zero waved his free hand in the air. "No need to thank me."

"You have just killed six billion people, you fucking bastard!"

It was impossible to make out Zero's expression behind the mask, but Sigma was sure the fucker was smiling.

"You are technically correct as to my origins. But because I have killed six billion people, mankind will survive."

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

Zero seemed to ignore him. Keeping his gun carefully trained in Diana's direction, he methodically removed Mira's bracelet, then Eric's, then Diana's, and finally Phi's, lingering for the longest on her. Sigma couldn't make out what he was doing, and when it seemed like it was taking too long, he shouted out for Zero to leave her alone.

He eventually moved away from her, but ignored the small child with the strange device on his head.

He then took another gun out from under his apparel. Sigma could tell from looking at it that it was a tranquilizer gun, like the kind used to incapacitate animals.

"Now, you must sleep. When next you wake, know that you will have only limited memories of this past week."


"You will remember what's important, and nothing more."

It was a horrible feeling, the feeling of impotence, the feeling of being unable to do a god dammed thing because his body was mutilated, because Zero kept the gun pointed at Diana. The bastard behind the apocalypse was right fucking there and Sigma couldn't do a damn thing.

"You will remember," Zero continued. "You will remember that the infection spread from Dcom. You will remember that the facility was full of traps. You will remember that you acted to save a woman, although you will not remember who that woman was. You and Diana and Phi will remember just enough to recreate your history, and my future, and nothing more."

"It's fucking impossible to control what someone remembers to that degree."

"True." And again, Sigma was certain Zero was smirking. "I know what you will remember because you have already remembered it. If you had remembered more, you might have tried to sabotage the AB Project, and then your consciousness would never arrive here from 2074."

He had never understood what people meant when they said they felt like someone had just walked over their grave, until that very moment.

"How the fuck do you know about that?"

"I know everything, Sigma. I wish I could spend longer talking to you, but Akane will be here soon, and I have preparations to make for her."

Suddenly, there was a spark of realization. "Wait, this can't be the history where the plague escapes. Akane and Junpei are dead."

"Yes, indeed, but they will be back soon."

"The joke is on you, shithead. They can't SHIFT into a dead body." Grief for his friend was intermingled with a tiny bit of hope - if this timeline had changed, even slightly, maybe it wouldn't turn out as bad as he remembered. Could Akane's death be like a butterfly flapping its wings off the coast, causing a hurricane on the other side of the globe?

"I would explain more, but I really don't have the time." Zero pointed the tranquilizer gun at Sigma. "Pleasant dreams."

He felt the dart stab him in the neck. He struggled to stay awake, even though there was really nothing he could do.

"You ... you son of ... a bitch..."

"Now, now." Zero squatted down next to him and removed his hat, then his mask, but Sigma couldn't make out a damn thing. Everything was a blur. "Don't speak of your precious Diana like that."

Before he could even be puzzled by that statement, Sigma was unconscious.