Jack and Niki try to survive in a world devoid of other sentient beings.
Jack sat up, rubbing his head. One moment he'd been walking to visit a guy for help after being consoled after a pretty bad day, and now he was somewhere else entirely as some dark figure left the edge of his vision. What a night, he thought.
He stood up and looked around. All he could see was barren wasteland. How'd I get here? he thought.
He started walking off, trying to find something of use.
Jack turned around. Apparently, his vision was still a bit blurry from his fight earlier that day, and he'd missed the now-clear person standing on the horizon.
Jack waved to the armored figure, hoping she'd see him, and started walking towards her. Anyone in this void is better than no one, he thought.
She returned the gesture and walked towards him. As they came within a few feet of each other, he said, "Hi there! My name's Jack, what's yours?" and extended a hand.
She shook it. Her hand felt cold against his hand, seeming to be made of metal. "My name's Niki," she said, letting go of his hand. "Nice to see someone else out here. I just fell out of the sky, so I don't really know what's going on."
Jack laughed embarrassedly. "That's what just happened to me too," he said. "Wonder what caused all this…"
"Well, whatever caused all this," said Niki, "we still need to find someone or something to explain what's going on or at least help us survive. I saw a town nearby, so maybe we should head there?"
"That sounds good," said Jack. "Let's do that."
Jack's shout rang off the empty buildings' walls. He passed his hands over his eyes, trying to keep them open. He'd been calling out like this since the previous night, to no avail. Nobody had ever answered him. The place was empty. No one was even hiding anywhere; he and Niki had checked. The place was a ghost town, even more so than the place he normally lived in.
"It's probably no use checking any longer."
Jacked turned to see that Niki had come up behind him.
"I agree," he said. "I, for one, am starved out of my mind and way too tired. If there's no one here, no one's going to complain if we eat something left in the supermarket and go to sleep somewhere viable, are they?"
"It's been a week," said Jack. "At least we got some sleep after that first day—"
"—for most of the second day," Niki playfully reminded him.
"—but we still have had no luck," said Jack. "Oh well, at least we enjoy each others' company. Still, what are we going to do about this?"
Niki looked around. "Aside from the inevitable—not dying—I don't see much to do…" she said.
The two heard a crackling noise from outside the window. Jack and Niki rushed to the window of their temporary settlement to see what was going on.
"Looks like a storm over there," Niki pointed out.
"Yeah, I see it," said Jack. "I guess we try to get some supplies to last us through the storm, then? This building might stand the storm, and it is a supermarket, but we kind of need to make up for the fact that this place's windows have no glass in them."
"All right, let's split up and look for some large objects to stick over the windows," said Niki.
Jack gave her a thumbs-up, slung his backpack of supplies over his shoulder, and the two set off in separate directions.
Jack wasn't exactly looking for a DVD, and he knew that he really ought to be getting more large objects, but something about a DVD marked "if you see this, please watch" made him feel as though he ought to watch it.
Is there even a DVD player here? he thought, looking around. Aha, there's one. Oh well, let's see if this is fast.
Jack stuck the DVD into the DVD player, plugged it into a nearby TV, plugged the TV into a power pack from his bag, and waited. Slowly, the TV crackled to life.
"—and breaking news for today," said an announcer, evidently trying not to sound panicked, "is that Rinnahssiah, the destroyer of our world, is heading here today. She's been using lightning powers to smash up a large bit of the known world, including Okcopolis, and is now trying to come here and smash us. Please, if you hear me, leave now to some other dimension and don't stay here to your doom. Mike out. —and breaking news for today, is that Rinnahssiah…"
Jack shut off the TV. I should show this to Niki if I can, he thought. Let me just pick up everything relevant. He retrieved the DVD, DVD player, and power pack—I'm not grabbing the TV, it's too heavy and they're probably all over the place—and set off to find Niki.
Jack entered the building where he'd seen Niki through the window.
"Hey, Niki!" he said.
"Oh, hi, Jack," she said. "I see you have some large objects for the windows?"
"Yeah," said Jack, suddenly self-conscious of his stooping form bending under all of the giant boards. Given that Niki was similarly loaded, however, he realized that he wasn't that bad off.
"Before we go back," he said, starting to unload himself, "I found a DVD that I need to show you. It's really fast. Can I show this to you and then we'll go back?"
"Can't we do this back at the supermarket?" said Niki.
"There's no TV there," he said. "This is fast."
Niki sighed. "All right," she said. "Just make this quick."
Jack already had the DVD in the DVD player. "This won't take long, I promise," he said, plugging the DVD player into the TV and powering it up.
Niki watched the DVD run its course, then shut it off.
"So what are the odds that this storm is Rinnahssiah?" she said.
Jack was taken aback. "Good point," he said. "I didn't think of it that way—"
The roof of the building suddenly flew off. Jack looked at Niki. "DROP EVERYTHING AND RUN!" he yelled, following his own instructions and bolting out of the building. Niki quickly followed suit just as the building went up in flames behind them.
Jack looked up at the clear sky. "I guess this is Rinnahssiah, then," he said, watching another building struck by lightning as he and Niki ran. "Otherwise there would be clouds."
"You think?" said Niki sarcastically. "Well, what do we do now?"
"Keep running and don't attract Rinnahssiah!" said Jack, dodging into a side street to escape the lightning-bolt-launching panther's path of destruction. Niki picked up on Jack's action just in time to swerve, her metal arm clanging against a nearby lamp post as she moved.
Rinnahssiah turned towards the two, snarling, apparently having been angered by the noise. She hurled a lightning bolt at Niki. Niki moved to the side, but tripped over a bit of electrical wire from the lamp post and fell over. The lightning bolt grazed the wire, sending electricity into Niki's prosthetic arm. Niki had just enough time to yell before the world went black.
Jack turned to see Niki prone on the ground—
…I don't want you to feel like it's all been a waste…
…don't give up…
…some day, you're going to save someone's life…
Jack turned to Rinnahssiah, angrier than he'd ever felt before. "You," he yelled, his voice husky with anger. "You took down my friend. You're going to PAY!"
Jack yanked a nearby park bench out of its fastenings and threw it at Rinnahssiah, who promptly obliterated it. He picked up the streetlamp that Niki had banged into and threw it at Rinnahssiah. She blew it up too. Jack grabbed onto a car, but found that too heavy to lift, so he picked up a manhole cover and threw it at Rinnahssiah. She destroyed that.
I guess the car's the only thing left, thought Jack. Maybe that's big enough to stop her.
Jack opened the car door, grabbed a few nearby objects, depressed the gas pedal with them so that the car would drive on its own, and jumped back out of the car. Rinnahssiah looked mildly amused as the car drove towards her, then shot lightning at the air between her and the car. Before Jack's eyes, a portal opened in mid-air, and the car shot into it, the portal closing behind it.
Wait…that's how we got here…
Rinnahssiah interrupted Jack's thoughts by shooting at him again, causing him to jump out of the way.
OK, thought Jack. If she can destroy anything, how about something that she can't destroy, like…water.
Jack ran into a nearby store, causing Rinnahssiah to blow off the front wall. As she blew up the side wall to try to get at him, he picked up a gallon bottle of water, unscrewed the top, and threw the whole thing at Rinnahssiah. She destroyed the bottle, but the water still hit her. Looking miffed, she stormed off.
Jack sighed with relief, then picked up Niki—I guess my super strength is really useful for something—and walked out of the town. He absentmindedly realized that, during the fight with Rinnahssiah, he hadn't used the bō that he'd been training for weeks to use, but that barely mattered to him at the moment.
Night fell as Jack watched over Niki. He'd ascertained that she had a heartbeat and was breathing, so he was just waiting for her to recuperate and wake up.
As Jack watched her, he realized something.
I didn't just feel like that because she was a person, or even because she was a friend, he thought. There's something more here…After this week, I feel like…
Jack spoke, even though he knew there was no one to listen. He felt like he couldn't keep this in his mind.
"Niki, I'm never going to leave you," he said. "No matter what happens to you…I'll be with you, always."
Niki woke up eventually, color returning to the world.
"Hi Jack," she said, somewhat uncomfortably. "What happened?"
"Rinnahssiah attacked you and you got knocked out," said Jack. "I managed to scare her off by using a bucket of water to make her leave." Jack laughed shortly. "Funny how a destroyer like her could be manipulated by a bucket of water."
Niki stood up. "Well, I guess we try to go somewhere new and find supplies, now that our old place has been blown up," she said.
Jack stood up too. "That makes sense," he said.
Over on the edge of their vision, two hedgehogs seemed to be having an argument as they hauled some large object.
"Think they need our help?" said Niki.
"Maybe," said Jack, taking down the tent that they were in and putting it back into his bag of supplies. "At the very least, we've hopefully found someone new to live with and survive with."
To be continued in Apocalypses Are Boring.
- This story was written directly after History of Jack's fourth and fifth chapters were written, but was written well after this story's follow-up, Apocalypses Are Boring.