AN: On my discord, I was asked what world and circumstances would wind up with Axton being his worst possible version. So I thought about it for a bit and gave them an answer. In truth, even Axton's 'worst' isn't too bad. He's True Neutral to his core. But it'd be easy for him to be a lot worse than he is in Gamer of the Void. He just needs to be placed in a world where he's more incentivized to be a Villain than a Hero. And he'd need to not have Kyu as a companion.

When answering the question I got really into the idea, so here it is. Axton if Kyu never found him, if he never became Axton and never ended up in DxD and instead found himself somewhere a lot harsher where being a good guy brings nothing but hardship.


Void.

I wasn't sure how long I'd been stuck in this Void. At some point, time just stopped having meaning. Days? Weeks? Months? Years? It had to be at least weeks. People don't lose track of time that badly unless it's been weeks, right?

I'd long given up on figuring out what was happening or why. There were too many possibilities, all of them as unlikely as the last. So I just floated, doing nothing.

Until, after an uncountable amount of time, something actually happened. I heard a voice. "Interesting," it said with a strange echo. I couldn't see or feel anything, and I didn't hear any more words. I tried calling out or moving or doing anything, but I couldn't.

My efforts didn't last long though, because soon I felt a cold sensation spread through me as if an icy hand just drove straight into whatever my body was. I felt it searching inside me before I lost consciousness.

I dreamed. I think of memories of my life, but it was hard to tell. All the faces were blurred and the voices indistinct. But there was a feeling of familiarity there. I don't know how long I dreamed, but it felt like another lifetime.

My first thought when I regained consciousness was surprise. I was fully convinced I had died. That surprise only continued as I opened my eyes and was overwhelmed by the light. Of course, that led to the realization that I had eyes, I could see. Which led to me realizing that I could feel at all which meant that I had a body once again.

After a few minutes of freaking out and getting used to having a physical body again, I calmed down enough to be able to process a few things. First, I was in a dirty alleyway of some sort. I saw people passing by just a dozen feet away and I heard the sounds of a busy city all around me.

I'm excited by that, but first I needed to figure out what was going on with my body. My memories were shot, but I was fairly certain I didn't look like this when…whatever happened to me. Before I ended up in that empty place. And the clothes I was wearing were unfamiliar as well. They were simple, just a hoodie, jeans, and sneakers, but not ones I remember ever owning.

I grimaced. My memories weren't really to be trusted anyways. I raised my hand up to my face to rub my eyes when I saw something on the back of my hand that made me freeze. I turned my hand to get a better look, but I can't believe what I saw.

Etched onto the back of my hand is a symbol I recognize, the symbol of the Outsider. The Outsider was a void God from the game Dishonored. His only desire was to find interesting people, give them his mark, and see what they do with it. He didn't care about good or bad, he just wanted to be surprised and to see new things.

I recalled the voice I heard before losing consciousness. All it had said was 'interesting'. Then I woke up in a world bearing the mark of the Outsider. Coincidence? Normally, I'd say of course it is, or that this is some prank. But that lifetime spent in that plane of nothingness left my mind a little more open to the idea of impossible things.

Curious, I focused on the mark. And to my surprise, it glowed and a colored box appeared before my eyes.

-x-
Name: Cain
Race: Human

-Skills-
[Void Soul] - Passive. Prevents many forms of esoteric detection and targeting.
[Pocket] - Store small objects in an extra-dimensional pocket space. Has a small amount of total storage room.
-x-

I blinked. That was not at all what I expected. The mark glowing? Yes. But I expected something like Blink, a short distance teleport. Not...a status window?

First off, Cain. Was that my name? It sounded strange on my tongue. But not inappropriate. Well, it'll do for now, though I wondered what kind of parents would name their kid after the murderous brother of Biblical lore.

My race being human wasn't a surprise, but the fact that it felt the need to specify that had implications that I didn't want to think too hard about right now.

The skills were far more interesting. The first one...Well, I'm not sure what that one was about. It seems like it protects me? The second one is a lot more clear, it's a hammerspace. At least that's something I can test out.

I looked around and picked up a broken brick from the ground. A quick glance tells me that no one could see my hands from the entry of the alleyway, hidden as they were behind a trash can. I focused on pulling the brick into a pocket that didn't exist.

One second the brick was in my hands, and the next it was gone. The skill worked. In fact, there's a vague presence in the back of my head telling me that I have it in my 'pocket'. But I realized that the brick isn't the only thing in there. There was another object already present.

I frowned and focused my thoughts on pulling it out, only for my eyes to widen. In my hands was a familiar mask made of a dark metal shaped into a broken skull, with accents of copper wire around the mouth and eyes. On the inside was some sort of soft red cloth, and in the eyes were lenses, one of them with multiple zoom options.

It was the mask of Corvo Attano, the protagonist of Dishonored. Corvo bore the Outsider's mark, just as I did. Or he had at one point. The city I'm in looks too modern to be Dunwall. But first the mark, and now this mask? It didn't take a genius to figure out the rough shape of what had happened.

I stored the mask away again. I wasn't sure exactly what was going on, but there wasn't anything left to figure out here in this alleyway. After making sure that nothing about me stood out, I made my way out of the alley.

Sure enough, I found myself in a modern-looking city. The people walking by were wearing headphones and looking at smartphones. Not models I recognized at a glance, but undeniably modern technology. Not more advanced than I'm used to either.

It didn't take long for me to spot what I wanted though. Half a block to my right was a line of newspaper stands that looked like they were colorful at one point, but the elements had been rough to them and most of their paint had been chipped away, rusted over, or faded.

I walked up to them anyway. All I needed was a hint as to what city I was in, I could figure things out from there. Fortunately, one of them had the name of the newspaper still legible on the outside. Unfortunately, the name I read made my stomach drop.

Brockton Bay Bulletin

Well. Shit.


After I spent a moment freaking out and desperately trying to remember if Brockton Bay was a real place or if it was limited to just being the setting for Worm, I decided there's no point in wracking my brain and I just needed to investigate more. A quick Google would answer a lot of questions.

So I headed for the library. Finding one was hard without a map, but a couple teens loitering in front of a shop were able to point me in the right direction.

Thankfully the library wasn't the worst. It certainly wasn't nice, but it had books and tables and computers I could use without a library card. I grab an empty one in a corner and log in as a guest.

Google wasn't a thing here, but the internet browser's home page was a search engine that looks like this world's equivalent to Yahoo. I wasn't picky though, so I searched 'parahumans' to just get it out of the way.

Sure enough, plenty of results came up, causing me to curse under my breath. I clicked through the links, skimming through the contents. Without a doubt, I'm in Worm. The Protectorate, the Triumvirate, parahumans becoming a thing about 30 years ago, the Slaughterhouse 9, it's all detailed here.

I took a moment to compose myself. In terms of fictional worlds I could have ended up in, Worm wasn't the worst. But it was up there. It was a slowly dying planet, where people got powers by undergoing horrible trauma that left them scarred. And yeah, that resulted in exactly the sort of heroes and villains you thought it would.

Not to mention the three Endbringers that attacked once every four or so months, basically destroying a city each time they appeared. Sometimes cities could be rebuilt. But not always. Hell, I was pretty sure there was at least one city that got hit twice, because fuck those guys I guess. They were basically indestructible and every fight killed roughly a quarter of the powered individuals, the capes, that went to fight them.

Add that the heroes were outnumbered, thanks again trauma triggers, and that the gangs made living in the city extremely dangerous, and the picture got scary. There were no easy paths to safety here. Only extremely hard ones.

I sighed and shook those thoughts out of my head. Fall into a spiral of dread later, research now. I started looking into Brockton Bay specifically and things got weird. I found the names of heroes and villains that I expected, but I found more than that. A handful of names I didn't recognize, mostly small-time independent heroes, but also a large number of names I did recognize, they just shouldn't be here.

The leader of the Protectorate was not Armsmaster. Instead, it was Lady Might, and though she wore a mask, I recognized her costume immediately. Nana Shimura, the predecessor to All Might in My Hero Academia.

But that doesn't seem to be the case here. Reading her wiki page, I'm surprised at how much information about her power is public.

Lady Might's power was considered to be one of the rare types of power that can be passed on, with there being only two known powers like that. Lady Might's power, and the Butcher's power.

The Butcher is someone I knew from Worm. When the Butcher died, the power took the mind and power of the current host and jumped to the closest person. The new host gained a lesser version of the power of the previous hosts and could hear the previous host talking in their head, compelling them to follow their orders.

And considering the Butcher was currently on its 14th host, that's a lot of minor powers and a lot of voices screaming in their head.

Lady Might's power, dubbed One for All still, was similar but different. For one, only the power is passed on, apparently, jumping to the next host to add to whatever powers they already had. They still left when the previous user died, but instead of jumping to the closest person, they jumped to whoever the previous user considered an heir or successor. Or at least, that was the best guess. Lady Might was only the fourth user of One for All and it wasn't clear.

There was speculation that she retained stronger versions of her predecessor's powers than the Butcher did as well, but accurate information on the abilities of the Butcher was difficult to obtain, and there had been times where the Butcher revealed they had been holding back to lay a trap.

I shook my head and got back to looking at the other players in Brockton Bay. I saw more names that I recognized and some that I didn't. But before I can look too far into them a pop-up window tells me I only have five minutes left on the computer. I quickly skimmed the rest of the information on Brockton Bay before logging off and leaving the library.

So. I was in Worm, but not the Worm I knew. It was a mashup of who knew how many other settings as well. There were two bits of good news though. One, I recognized most of them. I couldn't remember my previous life, but for whatever reason, I remembered the details of all the things I read and watched.

The second bit of good news was the date. It was mid-February 2011, a couple months before canon started. That meant I had time before things kicked off.

That thought made me pause. Time for what? I stopped walking along the sidewalk and took a moment to lean against the wall as the situation finally sunk in. I had been avoiding thinking about it subconsciously, but I couldn't anymore.

I was fucked. No memories of my past life, no money, no documentation, and I'm trapped in some twisted hell world that almost seems to actively hate all of its inhabitants. Without any change, this city will be attacked by a nearly invincible monster, raided by a roving group of murderhobos, and then blown the fuck up when the closest thing to a God here decides to try seeing what mass murder feels like. All within two years. Hell, those first two will happen within a few months.

And to combat this all I had is this Mark on my hand, a mask, and a lot of knowledge. I looked at the Mark. Maybe I'm not giving this thing enough credit though. [Void Soul] confused me at first, but now that I knew I was in Worm I've realized how invaluable it was. Protection against detection and targeting is invaluable here. I suspected that without that skill I would have already been kidnapped by Contessa.

[Pocket] isn't any more or less interesting than it was before, but the fact that I have two skills at all makes me pause. I recognized the window and the scenario, it was reminiscent of being a Gamer, an overpowered insert into a setting trope found in fanfics and original literature. Just a very very barebones one.

But that meant that there was a very good chance I could gain new skills, or maybe upgrade the ones I already had. The question was how. I pulled the window up again, but there was nothing I could interact with.

But maybe I'm thinking in the wrong direction. The Mark on my hand is that of the Outsider after all. And in Dishonored, skills were upgraded using runes. It was a thin guess, but I probably had to find some sort of physical items to upgrade them.

I put that thought aside for later. Okay, so I was still in a shitty world, but I wasn't powerless and I could maybe get stronger. I felt my rising panic settle down as my mind started churning over my options.

First, I had to assume some things, and I assumed the worst. I was stuck here permanently and that without any action on my part, things would end up more or less the same, even with the extra cast members. I also assumed that [Void Soul] would protect me from some of the scarier forms of Thinker powers and precogs, but not all of them.

I sighed. So, what were my goals? Truth be told, I was a pretty simple kind of guy. I didn't have dreams of a life of luxury or fame or anything like that. I just wanted a nice comfortable life, a hot girl who loved me, and no responsibilities.

Those aren't really options here though. Maybe I could get one or two of those, but then it'd all end in a couple years anyway.

No, if I wanted a nice life, I was going to have to forge it myself. Not a small task, but not an insurmountable one either.

So the end goal was to disable or kill Scion before he decided to end the world. Okay, so maybe a little more insurmountable than I thought. But it's doable.

Talking him down was an option, but only until someone else talked him into it afterward. No, that wouldn't work long term. Not unless I convinced him to just leave, but I don't think he could without prematurely ending his cycle, which involved harvesting all the shards again and blowing up countless versions of Earth to harvest the energy to propel him through space. Not a good option.

Killing him was the far safer option. Disabling him was maybe possible, but I couldn't think of a way to do it. Killing him was no easy task, but with the knowledge I had, it could work. I just needed two things. Sting, the power currently in the hands of Flechette, a Ward in New York, and a way to get him to stop for just a few seconds while Flechette takes the shot.

The distraction is the hard part though. And convincing Flechette to shoot at the most revered Hero of all time. But both could be done if I worked for Cauldron.

I grimaced. I respected what Cauldron was trying to do, but they were too caught up in their own plan, and I didn't trust them as far as I could throw them. If I went to them, there's a good chance that all it would lead to was an interrogation and a locked cell.

No, I'm doing this myself. But the fact of the matter was that I needed power to do it.

I had four options for gaining power. As part of Cauldron, as part of the Protectorate, as part of a gang, or by myself. The first one I had already dismissed.

I also immediately dismissed joining the Protectorate. That would be the equivalent of getting a job. Too many restrictions and regulations, and far too much politics. My hands would be tied, and I'm going to need every option open to me.

I guess I could extend that category to 'join a hero group', but the only decent group in Brockton Bay was New Wave, and they were limited to just family members. They didn't have the political weight or sheer strength I needed anyways.

Which left the villainous groups. The E88 were Nazis, the ABB was only for Asians, and the Merchants were drug-addled fools. So none of the big gangs. The Undersiders should be a thing by now, but they work for Coil, and I'd be damned before I let Coil have any say over me. They were still a good option though, I would just need to free them from Coil first.

Then there's Faultline's crew, a group of mercenaries. But they're looking into Case 53's, and that lands me straight back in Cauldron's sights. I won't be able to avoid them forever, but I wanted to grow my power before I had to deal with the literal secret organization running the world behind the scenes. Besides, Faultline was a leader and had her own agenda. Trying to twist that to something else would be more trouble than it was worth.

Which just left doing it myself, the option I already knew I'd go with. I didn't trust anyone else to be able to do what needed to be done. That being said, I couldn't do it alone. I needed to make my own group, poaching select members of other groups.

I could do it, but not as I was. I needed to grow in power first. I sighed and started walking again. Right now, my best bet was to follow my earlier hunch and try to find some runes or something. And the best bets for finding strange trinkets like that were pawnshops and the Boardwalk, the tourist trap of Brockton Bay.

I headed for the Boardwalk, knowing the general direction based on a map I had looked up briefly at the library. As I did, I ignored the rumbling of my stomach. I didn't have money to pay for food yet, so I just had to ignore it for now. I distracted myself by thinking, focusing on plans, and deciding who I needed to recruit.

I may have been stuck on this crapsack of a world, but I wasn't going to let it beat me. One way or another, I'd survive this.


I lucked out at the Boardwalk and my Mark itched as I walked past a stand located on the pier. It wasn't a rune I found though. Runes were circular pieces of bones with carvings and bits of metal attached to them.

What I found instead was a charm. Charms were similar to runes in that they were made of bone and metal and were carved, but they were much smaller and usually looked more like a pendant rather than being a big circular slab.

In the game, charms gave buffs and didn't relate directly to Skills. So while it's not quite what I was looking for, it'd do. If I can get it anyways.

I walked up to the stand, doing my best tourist impression as I looked over his wares. The rest of it was wood carvings and jewelry made of shells, and the sign said it was all handmade.

"Anything in particular you're looking for?" The guy behind the stand asked.

"Nah, just something cool," I replied, acting like a teenager on vacation. It helped that I looked like one, though I couldn't recall my actual age. Thankfully my clothes are clean so I don't look homeless, and therefore I'm a potential customer. "This looks pretty neat, how much is it?" I asked him, pointing to the charm.

"Ah-ha, you've got a good eye my friend!" the stall owner said. "That's one of my finest works. It's made of fishbone and driftwood. Ah, don't worry, I thoroughly bleached and sterilized them. If you want something 'cool', you won't find anything cooler than this."

I didn't believe a single word out of his mouth. Sure, charms were made by people, but not people like this guy. Most likely he just found it, or maybe he has a sweatshop somewhere cranking this stuff out and he just sells them.

"How much?" I ask.

"For a customer with a keen eye such as you?" he said. "I'll give you a special discount. Thirty-five bucks."

The price didn't really matter because I didn't have any money, but that was more than I could safely scrounge up, and it'd buy me a lot of food. But I couldn't pass this up. The way my Mark was itching confirmed to me that it was important. "That much?" I asked. "Seems a little high for a bit of wood and bone that you took a knife to."

The stallkeeper wagged his finger like he was chiding a child. "Ah, but what you do not understand is the time it takes to find the perfect materials and the skills I've honed over the years to be able to 'take a knife' to those materials in a way that makes it look so nice."

I didn't bother trying to haggle. Instead, I bought time. "Lemme go see if my parents will give me more spending money," I say. "I'll be back in a bit."

"Sure, sure," he replied. "Invite them over too, they might see something they like." I've already turned around though, and I make my way further into the Boardwalk. How do I get that much money that fast? My stomach rumbled. Scratch that, how do I get that much money plus some more for food before he packs up for the day?

The answer that immediately jumped to mind was pickpocketing with [Pocket]. But there was a problem with that. The Boardwalk has a ton of enforcers and cameras. If either one of those saw me use a power I'm screwed. Hell, even if they just see me pick someone's pocket normally it could be an issue, even if [Pocket] could hide the evidence.

It was my best bet though, so I started looking for a good target. I didn't have any pickpocketing experience though, so I had no idea what constitutes a good target.

But the drunk guy who stumbled across my path and into the bathroom was probably a good one. I'm surprised someone was this drunk already, it was still mid-afternoon. But I knew better than to pass up a chance like that.

Sure enough, one of the stalls was thrown open and I could hear the sound of retching as he puked into one of the toilets. I grimaced at the already spreading stench. The only other person in the bathroom made a face as well, and they finished peeing quickly before leaving without even washing their hands.

That was perfect though, as it left the two of us alone. I kept playing it safe though.

"Hey man, you okay?" I asked, squatting next to him and putting a hand on his back. I did a quick scan of his pockets. Thankfully he was the kind of guy to leave his wallet in his back pocket, I saw the square indent of it there.

"Fack coff" the man managed to slur before ejecting more vomit from his mouth. Well, I tried. While he was busy puking I slipped a couple fingers into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. Thankfully he was as drunk as he smelled and he failed to feel it.

I [Pocket] the wallet. "If you're sure," I reply. "Make sure to drink plenty of water!" He mumbled something else that I didn't catch and I walked out of the bathroom suppressing a grin.

I found an out-of-the-way spot next to the pier railing and pulled the wallet back out. My only interest was the cash, and I found 63 bucks. Nice. The rest of the wallet I tossed over the side of the boardwalk where it fell into the ocean water. Credit cards were too easy to track. And if I used it, there would be a chance that where I used it would have a camera pointed at it that could be checked later when the guy noticed that his wallet was missing. No, better to settle for less and be safer.

I counted off 35 bucks and stuffed it into the pocket of my jeans while the rest of the money went into my [Pocket]. I made my way back to the stand where the bone charm was.

"Eh, you got the money kid?" he asked. "But no parents with you?"

"They're busy relaxing eating ice cream down that way a bit," I said, indicating the direction I came from. "They're old, they're not used to walking so much. But yeah, they gave me the money."

The stall owner chuckled good-naturedly. "Ah well, perhaps on your way out?"

"Sure," I promised as I pulled out the money. "Maybe seeing this will change their minds."

"That's the spirit," he said as he took the money and handed me the bone charm. I swear I can hear it humming. "Anything else catch your eye kid?"

I raise my right hand so the back of it is facing him. "Have you ever seen anything with this mark on it?"

His face twisted into a confused expression. "What mark?"

I blinked and twisted my hand around. The mark was still there, clear as day. That meant he just couldn't see it. I looked back at him. "Sorry, looks like it washed off at some point," I lied. "Nevermind then. Thanks for the cool fishbone thing."

"You come back if you want anything else kid," he called out to me as I left. When I was out of sight I stuffed the charm into my pocket and then used [Pocket] to store it more securely. But to my surprise, I didn't feel its presence in my pocket space.

I tried pulling it out, but nothing happened so I tried pulling up the window, and I discovered that something had changed.

-x-
Name: Cain
Race: Human

-Skills-
[Void Soul] - Passive. Prevents many forms of esoteric detection and targeting.
[Pocket] - Store
small objects in an extra-dimensional pocket space. Has a small amount of total storage room.
1 Minor Upgrade Available
-x-

So charms worked like runes in that they offered upgrades to skills. But they offered 'minor' ones. Maybe runes offered major ones?

[Void Soul] was unchanged but [Pocket] had two highlighted words in its description, 'small' and 'low'. Doesn't take a genius to realize that probably meant I could use the charm to upgrade either of those. I thought about it for a moment before I chose to upgrade the total storage. The descriptions were vague, but 'small' items included Corvo's mask, so it wasn't too bad. But with the mask, the brick I picked up earlier, and the bit of cash I stuffed in there, my total storage space was feeling about halfway full.

Which implied that it was really small. The mask took a quarter by itself. I didn't want to upgrade the max size of the objects I could store when I could maybe only store one or two.

I felt my capacity go from about halfway full to less than 10% full as soon as I applied the upgrade. I raised an eyebrow. That was a pretty sizable increase. I check the text of the skill again.

[Pocket] - Store small objects in an extra-dimensional pocket space. Has a small amount of total storage room.

And it still had so much room to upgrade? Even if it only went up to large it should offer me quite a bit of space by the end.

My stomach grumbled again, reminding me of my most pressing issue. First some food, then I could start looking for a place to sleep for the night, and maybe some more cash. But I had to get away from the Boardwalk first though. I refused to pay tourist prices for food.


I gave up on finding an actual bed to sleep on tonight and focused instead on finding a place I wouldn't be found by others while I was sleeping. Which meant avoiding popular spots such as benches, alleys, and most abandoned buildings. I considered trying to get on the roof of a building, but those were likely a hotbed of activity for capes.

But as I wandered north I found a fenced-off area that looked like a junkyard. Inside were train cars, normal cars, and electronic appliances, all damaged and rusted with age. It looked like a good place to sleep, but the fence was tall and topped with barbed wire.

Night had fallen a few hours ago though and I didn't want to waste time looking for another place, so I did a loop of the place and found a few entrances. One was a large gate meant for driving into, another was a building right next to that gate, and the last was a small door on the backside of the junkyard that was locked with a padlock.

An idea occurred to me, so I approached the back door. The padlock was heavy and rusted. I knew a bit about picking locks, but without tools and with the lock in such poor shape, it would be difficult to get it open. But if my idea worked, I wouldn't need to do that.

With a thought, I attempted to [Pocket] the padlock, even though it was still locked into place. I was hoping that since I could hold most of it the skill would work anyways. And to my delight, it did. The lock disappeared, unlocking the door. I quickly slipped inside and closed the door behind me. But I didn't leave the door unlocked. Instead what I did was reach through the fence and try to bring the lock back out in a way that relocked the door.

It took a few minutes of trying. I didn't have much control over the orientation of whatever I pulled out, but it seemed pretty consistent in relation to my hand, so it was merely a matter of finding the right position. But I did get it eventually, and I was able to walk into the junkyard, the door locked behind me.

The place was eerily quiet and almost pitch black. The buildings and places around here didn't have lights in high enough spots to light up anything beyond the outer layer of the junkyard, and the night sky offered very little light. The moon was my only source of light, but it wasn't very big tonight being only a crescent.

Still, I was able to find my way deeper in, carefully avoiding the junk strewn about on the ground, and I found a train car that didn't look to be in too bad of a condition. I hopped inside and looked around as best I could. There were a few things in here, but it was mostly empty. It'll do.

I settled into a corner as best as I could. I still didn't have much to my name. I spent most of my money buying a large bag of Mcdonald's burgers. I took the bag out and felt it. Still warm. Good, that meant my [Pocket] could keep them fresh. I stored them again, not hungry right now.

The clothes on my back, an assassin's mask, a half-broken brick, a bag of burgers, a few dollars, and this Mark on my hand were all I had to my name. All the tools I had to take on this hell world.

I clenched my jaw. I didn't know how I got here, or why I was, but that didn't matter. I'd rise up to this challenge, I would let this world beat me. No, if anything I was going to beat this world. I'd do it with my fucking hands tied behind my back.

I slowly fell asleep curled up in the corner of the trainyard, mind once again whirring with plans. I had the information I needed, I just needed to find the right path.

I woke up to the feeling of brick against my back instead of metal, causing my eyes to shoot open as I got to my feet. I looked around and quickly realized something was off, more than just my location.

I found myself in the same alleyway I woke up in earlier when I first arrived in Brockton Bay, but it's not quite the same. Instead of being surrounded by the sounds of the city, all I could hear was an eerie hum. I looked and saw that things weren't quite right. For one, one end of the alley just...ended. It fell away into nothingness. The other end led to a sidewalk with nothing beyond it.

Things clicked into place as I realized what was happening. This was a dream that the Outsider has invited me to. He gave me his Mark, so of course, he wants to talk. He just waited to do so until the next time I went to sleep. Annoying, but better late than never. I wanted answers, so I exited the alley and stepped onto the sidewalk.

To my right, it ran along a blank brick wall for a few feet before it tapered into nothing. A clear dead end. To the left, the sidewalk continued on much further and it had objects alongside it, and a door not too far down.

I set off in that direction. The noise of my footsteps was just slightly off, each one a muffled echo rather than the slap of rubber against concrete it should have been. But as I came up alongside a car my attention switched to that.

The car was beaten, missing a wheel, and rusted to hell and back. But it was also floating in the space beside the sidewalk, slowly rotating in place like it was caught in zero gravity. The urge to push it rose up in me, but it was too far from the sidewalk for me to reach it safely.

I continued walking and soon ended up where the sidewalk ended at the door to a cafe. There was a sign above the door but the name of it had been worn away and the sign itself seemed to be crumbling. I couldn't see inside the cafe at all though. The windows were clean enough, but it was just pitch black on the inside.

I looked behind me and noticed that the sidewalk was gone, leaving just me and this cafe. The message was clear, forward is my only option. Well, that was fine by me, I had no intention of turning back now. I pushed open the door and walked into the cafe.

Unlike what the view through the windows told me, the inside was actually quite nice. The light was dim and had a purple tinge to it, but the inside was clean and organized. In the corner was a jukebox playing some old song I didn't recognize that didn't have any words.

I felt something behind me with a sense I didn't know I had and I turned around. Behind the counter appeared a man with a sharp face, black hair, pitch black eyes, and an amused smile. "I'd wondered what your first day in this place would look like, and you did not disappoint."

I'm tempted to make a snarky comment about how riveting it must've been watching me walk around for hours, but I pushed the urge aside. "That's why I'm here, isn't it?" I asked instead.

"Indeed it is," he replied. "I've seen many things, but still you are unique. A human soul, floating aimlessly in the greater Void. You should have been dead, but you weren't. In fact, you took some of the Void into yourself, making yourself strong enough to survive." He grinned. "I couldn't let such a fascinating individual pass me by."

"So you gave me your mark and dropped me off in a doomed world," I replied, but there's no malice in my voice. I'm not surprised by his logic. This was a pivotal moment in this world's history, where the future for ages to come was decided. It was exactly the sort of scenario the Outsider liked.

"If you'd like, you could return to floating in the Void," he said. He waved his hand, and the door to the cafe opened, showing the empty space beyond.

I sighed and made no movement, and he grinned. "No, you're right, that isn't really an option, is it? Not to a man like you." The door closed with a bang.

"And what kind of man am I?" I asked. "I don't remember much."

"Memories do not make th man, actions do," he answered. "And you are the kind of man who wakes up in a strange and dangerous situation and doesn't panic, who uses the information available to him to find a charm even without the aid of the gift I gave him."

I frowned. "I used your Mark though, and the power it gave me."

"But you didn't use the mask," he said, a grin on his face. "Do you think I would strand you in a world without a way to find the things you need to increase your power? I have no Heart to give you, but you'll find that Corvo's old mask has a few upgrades, one of which would help you find charms and runes."

I cursed under my breath. Of course there was an easier way. At least I knew now though. "So runes are a thing then," I say. "Are they how I earn new skills? Or are they 'major' upgrades?"

"They can do either," he said. "You can choose to add a new quality or facet to one of your skills or learn a new one. How you use them is up to you."

"Another question," I said. "Why is it so...game-like?"

"It's been a long time since I gave Corvo my Mark," the Outsider replied. "I've tweaked things since then, customizing my Mark for each person who receives it."

"Why do rune and charms exist in this world?" I asked.

"I think that's enough questions for tonight," he said. "You've shown yourself to be smart, I'm sure you can figure it out. We'll talk again when you've found your first rune."

I opened my mouth to ask him to wait, but in the span of a blink the world changed from the Void to the inside of a dilapidated train car. I blinked some more and looked around. An orange light came in through the open door, illuminating the inside of the train car I fell asleep in last night.

I leaned back and sighed. The conversation had been enlightening but honestly didn't tell me much that I didn't already know or had guessed. Not anything useful anyways. The most useful part of that was the tip about the mask.

Without getting up I pulled it out and put it on. It fit perfectly to my face and was somehow perfectly secure despite its lack of straps.

The world looked different through the lenses of the mask, and it took me a few moments to figure out why. There was a slight yellow tinge to everything, but more than that, I could see better. In fact, I could see clearly into the shadow cast by a large box on the other side. I'd have to find a dark place to be sure, but I'm pretty sure this mask lets me see in the dark. Something that would have been useful last night.

I looked around more and spotted a pinprick of light on the wall to my left. Interested, I stand up to investigate it, but it doesn't move right. Or rather, it moved rather than staying stationary on the wall. I take a step to the right and it moves again and I realize that it's not on the wall at all, but beyond it. The light wasn't moving at all, just the point where it intersected the wall from my angle.

Based on how much it moved it wasn't too far. So without taking off the mask I hopped out of the train car and started heading for the light. I was careful going around corners, but I didn't run into anyone. I had no idea if this place was open, or if it was even still in business.

It didn't take me long to get to the place where I saw the pinprick of light. It was located in another abandoned train car, though this one was a bit more run down. Now that I was this close my Mark itched.

I pushed open the door and the mechanism squealed as it struggled to push past the rust. There was a decent chance someone heard that so I moved quickly. I looked into an open crate, following the point of light, and saw a charm resting on top of some junk. I grabbed it quickly, stored it with [Pocket], and then left quickly, putting distance between me and the train car.

I took off my mask and stored it as well as I headed for the back gate I entered last night. I decided to save the upgrade for now. If I find myself needing it, I can use it at any moment, but I want to find a rune first and see what skill I could get from that.

I felt myself smiling as I made my way out of the junkyard. I had a long term goal of saving this world, while putting myself in a comfortable position, and a short term goal of getting the tools I would need to do that by getting and upgrading my skills.

And I didn't care what I had to do to get them.


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AN: As I said at the top, this is a spin-off of Gamer of the Void with the intention of putting 'Axton' in different starting circumstances in order to make him lean more into the "evil" side of True Neutral. In general, this story will feature darker content. Yes, there will be smut, but not nearly as much. Probably. But expect non-con, blackmail, mind control, corruption, stuff like that.

To address a few things: First, this is a side project. Truth be told, sometimes I itch to write more serious things, and Gamer of the Void is mostly slice of life, smut, and the occasional bit of fighting or politics. All things I greatly enjoy writing, but sometimes I want to write things that aren't that. This is going to be my side project for when I'm just not feeling up to writing GotV. But GotV will still be my main priority, and I really wanna see it through to the end.

Second, yes, this does bear a remarkable resemblance to TheDarkWolfShiro's most recent fic, but in my defense, the only thing I'm intentionally ripping off from him is the fusion of other settings into Worm, and even then I tried to keep the overlap minimal. I got his blessing for it too. Truth be told, the main two inspirations come from the question I detailed at the start, and the fact that I've wanted to write a Worm fanfic for a very long time. I got my start in fanfic through Worm fanfics and I'm hella familiar with the setting. But until now, I didn't really have any ideas that I felt worked very well with Worm.

Third, I plan on keeping the Game elements pretty light. I learned my lesson with GotV. Too complicated of a System is just a pain in the ass, a time sink, and it offers nothing of value that can't be achieved through better means. That's why I'm glad to finally focus on the Outsider. I very nearly included him instead of The Man in the Wall in GotV, but Wally fit Axton better. But The Outsider is a perfect fit for Cain. Also, just because his system is simple doesn't mean he won't get powerful. Trust me, he will. But it'll be a slower journey.

Also yes, Cain. Kyu gave Axton his name, it's not his birth name. So here, the Outsider gave him a different one.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this. I have very little idea on where I'm going with it, but Worm is a great sandbox and the few plans I do have should be fun.

P.S. Writing in first person past tense is weird after writing all of GotV in first person present tense or third person past tense. Sorry if it's a little wonky sounding at times, I'll get into the flow of it soon enough.