You were having your morning tea when the alarms started sounding, spooling an incoming alert across your HUD. The rest your bunker scrambled into action, grabbing their gear and sprinting to the tarmac.

Not like those guns or plate carriers would do much against what you fought day after day, but even for dolls they gave a small sense of comfort.

Besides, it made the civilians and regular soldiers confidence the incursions could be defeated conventionally.

You clambered into the VTOL where your unit’s Witch was already waiting. The drop arms locked into your back as she briefed you, pumping your system full of far more mana and electricity than you were designed to hold.

The aroma of jet fuel and cigarette smoke filled the cabin, Her aroma making you flush just a bit more than the stimulants alone were capable of.

“Alright, girls -” you weren’t girls, but everydoll still loved it when She called you all that. “- class four, today. Cobalt, Chrome, Corrosion – you’re on core elimination duty today.” You and two of your sisters nodded as she distributed the needles to you.

Calling them needles was underselling them a bit – more of rocket-propelled javelins capable of delivering a payload through the unreality that made up the core of an incursion. They just happened to look like hypodermic needles.

“The rest of you are keeping them intact until the payloads are delivered. Civilians are secondary, but this is NY we’re talking about. Get them out if you can, we don’t need more aberrations roaming the city. Preliminary maps are being delivered to your HUDs now.”


Two hours later, you were plummeting past the remains of a once-famous skyline, now just broken skyscrapers jutting into the air like gravestones.

Just before you hit the ground, reality warped just enough to alter your terminal velocity, slowing your descent into something manageable with a slide, or a roll.

Your Witch landed beside you a moment later, as your unit regrouped. “We’ve got a bit of a hike. Local air density is way down, the VTOL couldn’t make the flight unassisted, so we’re about two miles out.” So be it. You could walk, even through hallowed ground like this.

Burnt-out cars littered the roads; bodies did much the same to the lobbies you detoured through to avoid the micro-anomalies. No one was really quite sure what exactly caused the first Incursion, nor why it coincided with certain humans gaining the unrestrained powers of magic.

What was known was that said power, when unrestrained, could cause further Incursions. Tears in reality that led…somewhere else. Nothing sent into an Incursion came back – at least, the way anyone wanted it to come back. No person ever came back.

Witches – those who could control their magic – and dolls – your kind, former humans warped into something else by magic and technology both – were the only things able to get close enough to destroy an Incursion permanently.

It was obvious when you were getting close. Your steps felt…lighter. The air tasted of ozone and acid. There was an inhuman shrieking in the air, a few blocks down. That must’ve been the source.


Her voice boomed behind you even as you felt Her start to channel – a…shape, a shadow, something vaguely humanoid, lurched around the nearest corner towards you, only to be collapsed into nothing with a sickening crunch.

Your sisters circled around you, rifles raised and belching flame. Bullets did work, to an extent…they’d at least slow the Shadows down long enough for Her to finish them.

She was only one Witch, though, and could only channel so much, so fast. One of your sisters lagged behind just enough for Them to reach her, surround her. Touch her. A horrible, horrible shriek echoed through your comms, a wet crunch, and then…nothing.

Her signal on your HUD vanished. That was the fate of all dolls, eventually. Swallowed by an Incursion or the Shadows or even their own Witch’s magicks. Death and destruction were all that waited at the end of your road, but while you were still here, you had a duty.

It felt like an eternity before you reached the end of the last street, though your battle clock registered just sixty seconds. You looked up, towards the source of the shrieking – it hurt to look at. It hurt to even think about, to describe, to hold an image in your head.

Something like an eclipsed star, a dark void haloed by a soft red glow. It…spun, you knew, even though it didn’t reflect light or have any features to tell you it spun. It spun on every axis simultaneously, a hungry vortex of unreality that turned everything within its event horizon into…something else. The best your reality had as an analogue was sand. Sometimes, brittle black rock.

Buildings and objects within the horizon maintained their form, but…the moment anything interacted with them, they crumbled into dust. Sometimes they became other things.

You unslung the needle from your back in a fluid, unthinking motion. You’d done this countless times before. Magical wards crackled along the length of your synthetic body as you stepped closer to the vortex. The gunfire of your sisters became distant, echoing.

You focused the best you could on the thing, feeling unreality clawing at your body and your mind, whispers, calling you – no, you had a job. You had a duty. Draw back, put your weight into it, hope the laws of physics still work enough to ignite the motor –


The javelin leaves your hand with a deafening scream, the two other dolls’ doing the same shortly after. They plummet into the vortex, going silent for a moment…gods, this was the worst part. Waiting.

Seconds later, everything goes white.