"Jump - Jump NOW! We've got to warn the others! We've got to warn the Mistress!"

The RSV (Ringbearer Slipstream Vessel) Calvin Hightower - hijacked during the Ringbearers' recent battle with a returned Apocalypse - rolled about and 'dived' away from the gleaming tear in reality into a gigantic purple ring that held for a moment in space.

Its two occupants were headed to Zerth - the zombie-dominated alternate Earth were Anastasia Rowe and Ian Llwyd were putting together a force of gifted humans that would someday rain fire across the universe in their name.

They were only two of the over fifteen thousand gifted humans recruited by Anastasia, Ian and the twenty-seven other Ringwraiths that they had found (to date) in the many infinite universes - only two of the force that had cleared off the Lake Michigan area and that area known as Chicagoland, in order to serve as their new colony and base of operations.

Apocalypse was bad enough (they had seen what she had done to the Ringbearers - granted, they were caught off-guard, but still...), and now, knowing that He had returned...

"Transiting back to normal space..."

The last thing that the occupants of the RSV Calvin Hightower would see was infinite flame.

They would never know that Zerth, Anastasia, their friends, their new home, the entire universe they entered - all died screaming in fire.

They would never know that only three Ringwraiths now existed in all of creation... and that Ian Llwyd, saved at the last by Anastasia from Judith herself, was one of them.

They would never know of the peace of mind and the purity of spirit that he felt as he watched Anastasia, a hero at the last, rocket upwards to try and stop the annihilation sphere Judith had unleashed over the City of Chicago - and become the first to die.

They would never know of Ian's last thought, as he opened a portal to the last place he would ever consider going - to Nova Valdris:

All that matters is that you die, Judith. If it takes undoing reality itself, if it means I die screaming, all I ask my God is that I see you take your last breath before He takes away mine.

"To the last, I will grapple with thee... from Hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!"

- Khan Noonien Singh, quoting from Herman Melville's Moby Dick, in Star Trek II:The Wrath of Khan

Out Of The Frying Pan...

A fic set in the Worldburner shared-world series, by Brother Grimace