After Capone had hurled his knife into the door behind Dustie, many of the pirates laughed raucously as the mechanoid scuttled nervously behind South with a startled squeak.

Making a show of sighing loudly, Capone slumped back down into his chair and swung his feet up onto the table, the movement making a battered and bruised-looking man, knelt in chains on the floor beside him, flinch in anticipation of yet another beating.

To their shock, Ransom and South realised that the cowed and bloody man was none other than Prince Albert; the Crown Prince almost unrecognisable beneath the livid bruises covering his face and neck.

Capone snapped his fingers “Giovanni, Antonio” he drawled “Make sure these gentlemen aren’t packing”

“Now wait just a minute” Ransom backed uneasily away from the two hulking pirates who stepped towards him, but his protestations quickly died when one of them drew a revolver, which was held, pointed at his face, while the other pirate patted him down.

Dustie fussed around while this was going on, apologising profusely for their treatment and explaining the Mr. Capone, despite all outward appearances, was usually a most gracious host.

In due course, both Ransom and South were relieved of what little equipment they were carrying; including, to Ransom’s consternation, his malfunctioning dimension slip drive, which Capone seized as soon as he saw it.

“What is this?” he demanded, pointing the device at Ransom.

“I… ah. I wouldn’t do that if I were you”

“Give me one good reason why not?” Capone twisted several of the dials encircling the circumference of the drive and randomly pressed some of the buttons.

“That’s seriously not a good idea. I wouldn’t...”

“Do not tell me what I can and cannot do!” Capone yelled, suddenly up on his feet, leaving Prince Albert cowering in mute terror by his side “Tell me what this fucking thing this is, or I’ll carve you a new fucking asshole”

“He sounds quite serious” South said, anxiously “I think you should tell him”

Ransom pursed his lips “It’s broken” he said, simply “It’s my life’s work, but it’s broken – the quantum oscillator, amongst other components are completely burned out”

Capone continued twisting dials and clicking buttons as he Ransom spoke, until quite by accident, a series of green lights suddenly illuminated along the length of the device, each rapidly winking off, one by one. He looked up at Ransom “Broken, eh?”

Ransom just had time to look astonished before recovering himself sufficiently enough to haul South down to the ground with a strangled shout of “Down”

Panicking at this reaction, Capone tried his best to hurl the device as far away from him as he could, but it had barely left his hand before the last light winked out and a dimensional portal scythed open with a deafening bang, the energies tearing both him and Prince Albert apart. Blood and bits of the desk filled the air.

At the end of the universe, all of a sudden, Brittany quite simply could not be.

The final paradox in a precisely engineered structure.

The timequake hit hard.

Reality twisted and fractured as Brittany, the Big Crunch God-Singularity, convulsed. The dimensional energies vaporised the orbiting STCP headquarters in an instant; this last, tiny fragment of spare matter at the end of the universe, lost to the event horizon within nanoseconds.

Googolplexes of paradoxes twisted and seethed throughout the history of the universe, forming an emergent consciousness that warped through a multitude of dimensions and exultantly transcended everything.

On the promenade deck of the Titanic, Cass turned back to Jay with the intention of apologising but instead came face to face with a blonde haired, blue eyed mirror of herself. Brittany.

“The fuck!?” she scrambled away against the handrail, dimly cognisant of the futility of her actions and wondering where the hell everyone else had gone.

“We won’t bite” Brittany smiled. Gulls coiled overhead.

“What the fuck do you want?”

“We want to offer our thanks”

“What does that mean?” Cass frowned suspiciously. The cooling sea breeze tugged at her hair.

“It’s taken a very long time to engineer our ascension”

“Your ascension?”

“That’s what this has all been about. The final Singularity”

“You mean you planned all this!?”

“Of course”

“Everything? – Me bolting; my paradoxes; the destruction of the Dwarf; Greyman?”

“Everything” Brittany echoed, nodding serenely.

“Why the fuck couldn’t you do it yourself?”

“I did”

“You used us”

Black stars began pinpricking across the clear azure sky; a speckling at first, which quickly proliferated, spreading into a yawning black void.

“What’s this?” Cass looked up into the gathering darkness, her eyes wide.

“The universe is ending” Brittany smiled “It’s nearly time for you to go”

“So that’s it?” Cass said, bitterly “Thanks, now fuck off and die!?”

“Oh, you’re not going to die. Everything will change, but you won’t die. Time travellers will remember, but nobody else will”

“How does that work?”

Reality rippled as the blackness became complete, the Titanic and everything else fading from existence.

“It’s time to go. Goodbye Cassandra and thank you”

“No, wait!” Cass yelled, but Brittany too, faded from sight, leaving her tumbling head over heels into the screaming void.

When she awoke, Cass found herself sprawled amid broken glass on the cold floor in semi-darkness. There was the smell of smoke in the air and, nearby, the sound of someone coughing, or crying, she couldn’t decide which.

Her head hurt, terribly.

Confused, she rolled over and pushed herself unsteadily up, onto her feet, the floor beneath her shuddering from some distant impact or aftershock – An explosion, maybe?

The room she found herself in seemed to be a bar of some sort, but given the smoke cloying the air, it was almost impossible to discern its size. Bodies lay scattered everywhere.

What had just happened?

Coughing and retching on the smoke, Cass willed her legs to work and lurched dazedly towards the exit, stumbling out onto a mezzanine walkway above a wide open space, lit from above by starlight.

It was quite unmistakeably the Blue Dwarf’s Promenade.

We’re back on an alternate (and mostly fully crewed) version of the Dwarf.
Something’s happened – What is it? – An attack, a disaster, something else?
Give us something cool to work with.

Where is your character and what are they doing during this? – What’s their part in all this?
Remember that this is an alternate version of the Dwarf so things will be different – What and who are they?

While I’m on, I guess I should apologise for being away so long – work was a stressful nightmare up until the end of my most recent contract and then I had a much needed holiday where the promised wifi was so dodgy I couldn’t get online
Summer’s normally fairly quiet but the last story died on its arse and not for wont of good ideas.
Let’s start posting again and move things on.

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