Author's Notes: Perhaps some backstory to start with. As this thing's summary mentions, it was inspired by the works of this site's esteemed Academia Nut - particularly and especially his behemothic crossover, The Open Door. See, after reading that for a while, I started getting less than happy about the actions of some of the characters and where the story was going, so in my infinite wisdom, I decided to write my own version (a gigantic crossover piece as my first solo work of fanfiction - no problem, right?), and this little fellow is the result. Rest assured, it's not a straight-up hate-fic, more a reinterpretation that goes to some very strange places indeed, and if the author of the original piece objects, I will happily take it down.

So without further ado, I present the first five chapters of this turkey plus the prologue, bringing us up to the point where things start to seriously deviate from the original plotline. Though, as mentioned, you do not have to read The Open Door to enjoy this (few of my beta readers did, that's for sure), those who have will likely notice a few differences in events before then. Some are plot-relevant later on, others are just because I don't like slavishly copying the work of others. I'll leave you to discover which is which (insert diabolical laughter here). From then onwards, updates will be once per week.

As per normal, none of the series or franchises involved belong to me, and this is not intended to profit from them without their consent. Enjoy!


Prologue

The pedestrian tunnel was poorly lit, a state of affairs only exacerbated by the dull, rainy sky outside. Nevertheless, sufficient illumination remained to distinguish three humanoid figures a short way inside the entrance, all dressed in heavy rain-gear. They spoke amongst themselves, the oppressive weather drowning out their words – not that their sole witness, a half-asleep and very damp pigeon on the fence outside, would have been able to understand them anyway.

Tiny though its avian brain was, even it could recognise that the beings inside the tunnel were rather unusual – indeed, two of them, despite their appearance, were very obviously not human, and it wasn't all that sure about the third, either. It did not pause to consider whether or not all of them knew this, though, seeing as the gnawing emptiness in its stomach was a rather more pressing concern.

Eventually, two of the figures walked back out, their features becoming more apparent as they stepped back into the grey morning light. Both were young (or, at least, had the appearance of youth), but that was all they had in common. One was a male of slightly above-average height whose floppy brown hair was plastered to his scalp by the rain and whose aura of world-weary lethargy projected some distance from his actual body. The other was immaculate by contrast, a diminutive, expressionless female who appeared quite unaffected by the weather. Her hair was the same lavender-grey as the pigeon's feathers, a most unusual hue for a human, and appeared, from the bird's limited perspective, to be completely dry.

The remaining figure stayed where he was until sometime after they left, before retreating noiselessly into the shadows, which embraced him as if he were an old friend. By that point, though, the pigeon had left to examine a discarded bento box, and saw none of it. Indeed, what it had seen was swiftly forgotten – barely-digestible detritus, as ever, proved far more interesting than first contact with extradimensional life.


The star system had once been home to a prosperous trading world, a commercial hub for its entire subsector. Ships from tens of light-years away had voyaged to and from its massive orbital docks, flooding its markets with exotic goods and its citizens' pockets with abundant wealth.

Now, though, it was a graveyard. The once-bustling docks were silent, their twisted, ruptured metal guts spilling out into the void and the mangled saucer-hulls of wrecked defence craft lazily orbiting them like flies around a corpse. Through it all glided the vessel responsible for the carnage, otherworldly energies dancing across its cathedral-like form. The last of the prisoners had been brought on board hours earlier, time enough for the lengthy explanation of how their lives would be from now on and why they deserved every little bit of it. There weren't many of them left, which simplified matters a great deal.

At last, only one task remained.

The enormous spacecraft approached the battle-scarred planet, its shields sparkling as they shunted away debris from the fight. It came to a halt just outside the outermost limits of the atmosphere, retro-thrusters puffing away gamely, and hung there a moment as if to admire the view.

A dorsal laser swivelled into position and opened fire. Though the beam itself was invisible, its sheer intensity created a pillar of flame as the oxygen it interacted with spontaneously combusted. The turret swept back and forth, inscribing a message in the landscape that just happened to occupy the same space as the ruins of the planetary capital. It was short and crude, as much a threat as an announcement, as much a challenge as a boast.

Aboard the bridge, the captain watched, her eyes ablaze with flickering hellfire. She held a small, numbered cube in one clawed hand, which she tossed idly up and down as she observed the weapon's handiwork.

A flick of her wrist, and the die skittered across her command desk, attracting the attention of all crew present. A broad, toothy grin spread across her face, and she theatrically glanced down at its result.

"Right then," she said. "Who's next?"


Across the multiverse, strange events began to crop up with increasing regularity. A fortress-city with a world-shaking secret at its heart lay at the mercy of incomprehensible invaders, only to receive aid from a most unexpected direction. A sleepy Californian town was shaken to its core when one of the occasional skirmishes amongst its supernatural community turned into something much, much worse. A fanatical theocracy's display of power went horribly wrong, creating something new and terrible whose birth-cries echoed across time and space...

... And far, far away, four beings that had once been human and now were considerably more watched their children's progress with hungry anticipation. They had millions of new worlds to explore and trillions of new souls to bend to their will, and were ready to seize the opportunity with both hands and whatever other appendages they could muster.

It was both unfortunate and wholly predictable, therefore, that there was something of a spanner in the works. Several, in fact.