In the fractured haze of consciousness, Theodore found himself jolted from his dreamscape by insistent voices and urgent hands. The world swirled around him, shapes and colors coalescing into a chaotic scene. The voice, distinct and unrelenting, pierced through the fog in his mind. “Theo – Theo – Theo – Wake up, wake up.” The words echoed like a frantic chant, a desperate plea to rouse him from slumber.

Blinking against the harsh intrusion, Theodore’s eyes struggled to focus on the source of the commotion. A figure with a cascade of blonde hair leaned over him, her expression a mix of concern and urgency. She didn’t hesitate to douse him in water, his senses jolted to life by the unexpected compound. He groaned, his head throbbing with a relentless drumbeat.

“There’s no time,” the voice persisted, and the urgency struck a chord within him. Memories began to assemble themselves like a puzzle, and Theodore recognized the woman before him as the same one who had intervened on his behalf once before. “They are going to kill her,” she declared, the words a stark revelation that cut through his confusion.

Theodore pushed himself into a sitting position, his grogginess a heavy shroud he struggled to shrug off. “What’s going on?” he managed, his voice a raspy whisper.

The woman turned, her gaze fixing on a companion who stood nearby—a striking figure with the gate of a warrior, who wielded a familiar jeweled spear with deadly precision. It was then that Theodore noticed her face was that of calico cat, its eyes embers burning with focus, observing the scene with an intelligence that seemed trans-human.

“Um, there’s a problem,” the cat lady interjected, her words laced with a mix of anxiety and determination.

Riley, the blonde-haired woman, pivoted with a grace that suggested an innate awareness of her surroundings. “We missed our jump… we’re on the wrong side of the wall,” she explained, her words punctuated by the resolute strike of her spear against the unyielding stone door.

The plan, woven from desperation and courage, unfolded as Riley produced a silver metallic ball and a seemingly ordinary quartz stone from her satchel. The exchange between Riley and the cat carried an unspoken weight, a testament to the gravity of their circumstances.

“That’s our last starportal, Riley,” the cat voice held a note of trepidation.

“I know…” Riley’s reply was both a confession and a declaration. Their options were limited, and it was a race against time, not faction.

The intention was set, the air seemed to crackle with a palpable tension. Theodore’s heart pounded in his chest, his senses heightened by the impending urgency. He could feel the adrenaline and cortisol coursing through his veins pushed aside the remnants of his fog.

Riley called Theodore and the cat to step close, and in one swift motion, Riley shattered a clear stone against the floor at their feet immediately followed by the spherical starport contraption. The ensuing eruption was a symphony of colors — a collision of green and purple that split the fabric reality and fused two places in time and space into one. Theodore shielded his eyes, a reflexive response to the brilliance that engulfed them all.

Emerging on the other side was a disorienting whirlwind of sensations. Theodore’s body spiraled through the fused matter, his disoriented mind struggling to piece itself back together once again. Nausea clenched at his stomach, and he curled into a fetal position as his body rebelled against the unnatural experience.

He was not alone in his suffering. Riley and the cat lady were similarly affected, their forms contorted in discomfort as they weathered the aftermath of fusion travel. The ordeal had left its mark, a testament to the physical toll it exacted, but their determination propelled them forward.

As their disorientation began to subside, the trio found themselves in a small cove, an oasis of tranquility juxtaposed against the storm of their surroundings. Birds chirped outside, and the rustling of leaves spoke of a world untouched by the chaos that now consumed them. They had arrived at the backside of the monastery, a momentary respite before their next trial.

Theodore and his companions fought against the residual effects of fusion, battling nausea and fatigue as they made their way toward the source of a haunting cry that echoed through the air. The urgency was palpable, a shared understanding that time was not one their side as they slid from shadow to shadow.

That is when they saw her — Rose, bound to an altar, her struggles feeble and her movements slow as if she was ensnared in a web of lethargy. Every cry required maximum effort. The scene before them was a nightmare woven into reality, the dark underbelly of human obsession and malevolence laid bare.

The were going to sacrifice her.

The three did not wait.

Weapons drawn, Riley and the cat moved with a purpose that spoke of practiced skill, their weapons an extension of their will, and the universe was submissive. The path they carved was a testament to their prowess, an awe-inspiring dance of death against insurmountable odds. Their journey had led them to this pivotal moment, the culmination of battles fought both within and without led to the moment.

Theodore’s heart pounded as he followed in their wake, his own determination echoing theirs as he stepped over bodies and avoid conflict just long enough for his companions to clean up. The scene that unfolded was a symphony of chaos — the floor adorned with relics and effigies, symbols etched into every surface, and Rose’s groans a constant haunting melody that pierced the air.

As the ritual master’s chant rushed into a crescendo, the air seemed to thicken with an almost tangible darkness. “Apollyon I SUMMON THEE,” the words resonated like a thunderous curse as Theodore reached the alter.

With a desperate cry, Theodore lunged forward. Pain seared through his knuckles as he was caught up into the sword that descended into Rose’s bosom. His body moved before conscious thought, driven by an instinctive need to protect, a testament to the sacrifice he was willing to make.

But the universe, it seemed, had its own plans. Despite Theodore’s efforts to divert the blade it found it’s way into Rose’s flesh, and a deafening explosion burst forth with Theodore at its core — a cataclysmic force that shattered the bond of the material world. The entire world was razed as flames engulfed every single living thing on the planet, the air vibrating with a furious energy that defied comprehension.

Theodore succumbed to darkness as the eternal flames licked at the edges of consciousness.