Chapter 1: How We Got Here
In which the scenario is established.
John stared, horrified, at the still-convulsing body. Out of all the possible outcomes of getting the trolls to his group's session, this possibility had never even been considered. Yet there it was, staring them in the face.
He started to cry. As the one who agreed to the idea in the first place, he felt the blame for this death fall squarely on him. Rose fell to her knees, hands over her mouth to prevent herself from screaming. Jade threw her arms around Dave and wept into his chest, and even he could not be stoic about this, not even ironically, as he removed his shades and asked himself, "how? how could we have overlooked this?"
The four of them were the last living trolls on the asteroid after the psychopaths had finally been defeated.
Terezi had confronted Vriska with every intention of killing her as punishment for Tavros's death, and Vriska in her depression had almost let her. Gamzee, however, had other plans (namely, wanting the satisfaction of ending a godtiered player's life for himself), and appeared just before the killing blow could be struck. Terezi and Vriska agreed to a truce for now, just long enough to subdue the insane clown. The battle raged for a long time with no clear winner until Vriska, having had enough of this spectacle ("he's not even God Tier! How could he possi8ly 8e keeping up with meeeeeeee?!"), decided enough was enough. She rolled the flourite octet and... all 1s?
The critical miss left her dazed and open to another assault from the Bard of Rage. She closed her eyes and awaited her fate... but it never came. A splash of something wet hit her arm; she opened her eyes to find it flecked with purple. Before Gamzee could end her life, Terezi had snuck up behind him, wrapped an arm around his throat, and impaled him on the blade of the Dragon Cane, severing his spine in the process. Gamzee slumped to the ground and breathed "MoThErFuCkIn' MiRaClEs," before he expired.
Realizing she, Karkat and Sollux would need all the help they could get, Terezi decided a reprieve would be issued, for now at least. She extended her sheathed Dragon Cane to Vriska to help her off the floor.
"GOOD OR B4D... 1N TH3 3ND, LUCK DO3SNT R34LLY M4TT3R."
Meanwhile, Karkat and Sollux were searching the complex for Terezi. If Vriska really had killed Tavros, there was no way Terezi stood a chance against the God Tier spiderbitch. They needed to regroup and come up with a plan of action, to deal with the three threats that currently prowled the halls of the astroid and maybe get off this fucking space rock once and for all. Karkat swore when he thought he heard a barely-audible honk coming from a side room and told Sollux to stay here, he'd go check it out.
He came back, relieved to find the room free of subjugglators, when he saw and heard something that nearly made his heart stop.
"so, looks like youre alivve after all, sol."
"fuck y0u. go be a shithead s0mewhere else."
Eridan's wand began to glow. "round three. you an me. right here, right noww." Sollux tried to charge his psionic powers but it was to no avail. They were tied to his vision twofold, and without that, there could be no red and blue light show.
"wwhats a matter, cant shoot your glowwy eye beams no more? dont wworry, ill make this quick, sol. say hi to fef for me!"
He had stood and watched as Eridan blinded Sollux. He froze in place when Eridan murdered Feferi. He could not will himself to action when Eridan destroyed the matriorb, nor when he slaughtered Kanaya.
But he would not stand idly by while this monster tried to finish off his best friend.
With a savage battle cry, Karkat gripped HOMES SMELL YOU LATER and charged the Prince of Hope. Before he could close the distance, Eridan blasted a pure white beam of science at Karkat; the sickle disintegrated in his hand and the force of being so close to the blast threw him to the ground.
"this heres betwween sol an me," Eridan said as he readied his wand for another blast, presumably to finish off the interloper. "so stay out of it!"
Karkat looked past Eridan. A mad grin replaced his defiant scowl. "SOLLUX! NOW!"
Sollux was blinded, true, which meant he had no way of knowing for certain he was aiming in exactly the right direction. But his hearing had sharpened, if only slightly, to compensate, and as fate would have it, this battle took place in a narrow hallway, keeping the margin of error from becoming too large to overcome. Eridan turned around... and fell backwards from the force of Feferi's 2x3dent striking him square in the chest.
Karkat was immediately on him, the memory of what the Prince of Hope had done to his moirail and, indeed, to the entire troll race still burning in his mind. "PAYBACK'S A BITCH, ISN'T IT?" Karkat ran Eridan through with the Regisickle, and he was no more.
Sollux reclaimed the 2x3dent from Eridan's body as Karkat put the Regisickle back in his strife specibus.
"GOOD CALL ON FINALLY ALLOCATING YOUR SPECIBUS. TOOK YOU LONG ENOUGH, JACKASS."
"yeah well i cant exactly rely on psi0nics i d0nt have anym0re, asswipe. and i think ff w0uld have been 0kay with me taking up her weapon. just felt like the thing t0 d0, y0u kn0w?"
"BY THE WAY, NICE SHOT BACK THERE."
"c0uldnt have d0ne it with0ut y0u, kk."
The group gathered together in the computer room. The murderous rampages may have finally ended, but there would be no hope for them unless they could make an escape.
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling ectoBiologist [EB] --
CG: JOHN? ARE YOU THERE?
EB: karkat? please tell me you're safe!
CG: SOLLUX AND I TOOK DOWN ERIDAN, AND TEREZI AND VRISKA STOPPED GAMZEE.
EB: what do you mean?
CG: TWO OF US WENT GRUBSHIT INSANE AND FLIPPED OUT. MOST OF US ARE DEAD. THERE'S ONLY FOUR OF US LEFT NOW.
EB: oh my god! so that's what you were scared of! are you okay?
CG: YOU TELL ME! HOW "OKAY" CAN I POSSIBLY BE RIGHT NOW? EIGHT MEMBERS OF MY TEAM, MY FUCKING COMRADES, ARE DEAD. TWO OF THEM TURNED OUT TO BE MURDERERS, UNDER MY FUCKING WATCH!
CG: ARADIA JUST FUCKING EXPLODED FOR NO GODDAMNED DISCERNABLE REASON.
CG: I'M SURE YOU ALREADY KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO TAVROS.
CG: GAMZEE WAS APPARENTLY INSANE THE WHOLE TIME AND I DIDN'T SEE IT UNTIL IT WAS TOO LATE. THE BASTARD STRANGLED EQUIUS AND BEAT NEPETA SO BRUTALLY THAT JUST THINKING ABOUT IT MAKES ME WANT TO THROW UP.
CG: ERIDAN DECIDED "HEY, FUCK THIS NOISE, I'M JOINING TEAM NOIR", THEN HE BLINDED SOLLUX AND KILLED FEFERI, KANAYA, AND ANY HOPE OF THERE BEING ANY MORE TROLLS, EVER. FOR ALL I KNOW THAT DOGFACED BASTARD IS ON HIS WAY HERE AS WE SPEAK.
CG: YOU FUCKING TELL *ME* HOW OKAY I CAN BE RIGHT NOW!
EB: i... i had no idea things had gotten so bad on your end.
EB: is there anything at all i can do for you?
EB: name it and i swear to god i will do what i can.
CG: YES, THERE IS.
CG: GET US OUT OF THIS HELLHOLE.
CG: THE SCRATCH IS HAPPENING SOON, RIGHT? THAT'S STILL A THING YOU GUYS ARE DOING? USE IT TO GET US TO YOUR SESSION.
EB: you've got it. we're getting you guys out of there.
CG: GOOD TO HEAR.
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling ectoBiologist [EB] --
At this point, I was really unsure of myself about making the characters in-character. That's been a continuous worry for me during the entirely of my brief foray into fanfiction and it still is, which is a good thing really! Because what's the point of writing fanfiction if you can't stay in character
I was convinced the way I wrote the kids was utter bullshit, but I've been told my Rose is spot-on so that's good. I still don't think I can quite do justice to John and Dave (and I'm still convinced I cannot write Jade at all) though. Also aside from Karkat and Terezi I don't think I write the trolls too well either. But then, hating what I've written immediately after writing it has been a common theme for me.
Oh well. This is just chapter one.
Chapter 2: Incompatibility
In which things go horribly wrong and hopes are dashed.
The hour of the scratch was at hand, and John was practically giddy with excitement. He'd finally be able to meet his alien buddies in person! He couldn't wait.
-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering ectoBiologist [EB] --
TG: so its about time for the mobius clusterfuck double reacharound right
EB: i mean, we're doing this because they're in danger. hell, most of them are dead :(
EB: but i can't help but be excited by the idea of actually meeting them!
EB: what do you think they'll be like in person?
TG: well if anything karkat said was true we are about to follow in william shatner's footsteps
TG: all boldly going where no man has gone before in the quest for hot sweaty makeouts
TG: if he is to be believed we are in for a snogging like no other
EB: haha you're totally hoping for that, aren't you!
TG: terezis good people but i think she just talks about me to get karkats goat
TG: vriska on the other hand dude
TG: shes going to come out of that portal like a tiger
TG: absolutely no shame about it at all
TG: she has you in her sights and the crosshairs are shaped like a pair of lips
EB: you think so?
TG: you dont even know
TG: this shit is about to hit the fan
TG: like shit is completely pissed at the fan
TG: shit has had enough of the fan and it is not going to take it any more
TG: shit is going to jail for aggravated assault of the fan
EB: haha enough about this!
EB: i'm just glad we can help them now. poor guys, most of their group is dead and from what I understood it was absolutely terrifying :(
EB: but we're gonna help them out. we're gonna get them out of their session so they can stop feeling like trapped rats and we can work together, maybe even find a way to defeat noir!
TG: i hope youre right bro
TG: well rose is telling me the show is about to begin
TG: lets get this party started
EB: alright, let's do this!
-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering ectoBiologist [EB] --
The plan was simple enough. The very act of causing the scratch would tear a hole in reality and, for a brief while, open a hole between sessions, allowing the trolls to cross over to the kids' reality. Then they could meet up and plan some way to wring a victory from the jaws of defeat; surely eight players in a game originally meant to challenge four could manage to win.
Once preparations were made and the scratch activated, Sollux volunteered to be the first to cross over. In his words, he was "m0re than 0kay with it."
Sollux stepped through the portal and was greeted by the four kids, cheering at their apparent success. But immediately, something was wrong.
The air... something about it hurt to breathe. Sollux started sweating profusely; he couldn't tell if he was freezing or burning up, but it didn't matter. Dark yellow blood trickled from his mouth and his knees buckled as he blacked out, wondering why his skin was tingling.
Sollux died before he hit the ground.
John stared, horrified, at the still-convulsing body. Out of all the possible outcomes of getting the trolls to his group's session, this possibility had never even been considered. Yet there it was, staring them in the face.
John started to cry. As the one who agreed to the idea in the first place, he felt the blame for this death fell squarely on him. Rose fell to her knees, hands over her mouth to prevent herself from screaming. Jade threw her arms around Dave and wept into his chest, and even he could not be stoic about this, not even ironically, as he removed his shades and asked himself, "how? how could we have overlooked this?"
In a moment of clarity, John realized he had to do something to prevent this from happening to the other trolls. "rose! shut the gate! quick, before the others come through and they die too!" Rose, her hands shaking, aimed her needlewands at the portal and sealed it with a beam of eldritch energy.
On the other side, Karkat was wondering why the rift had shut so quickly and began to panic.
John's Crosbytop beeped and his heart sank. Oh God, how could he even begin to explain what just happened?
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling ectoBiologist [EB] --
CG: HEY FUCKASS, WHAT GIVES?
CG: I THOUGHT YOU SAID THE RIFT WOULD BE OPEN FOR FIVE MINUTES, EASILY! IS IT GOING TO OPEN BACK UP SO THE REST OF US CAN GET OFF THIS FUCKING ROCK?
EB: ...karkat. something...
EB: ...something happened. we shut it on purpose.
CG: WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? IS THIS ONE OF YOUR HUMAN PRANKS? IF SO THEN HAHAHAHAHAHA! YOU GOT ME!
CG: BUT THIS ISN'T THE TIME FOR THAT SHIT! OPEN YOUR UNIVERSE BACK THE FUCK UP SO WE CAN GET IN!
EB: are... are you sitting down?
CG: WHAT? OF COURSE I AM, WHY WOULDN'T I BE?
EB: there's no easy way to say this but
EB: oh god i'm shaking right now.
EB: i swear to god i didn't
EB: i never meant for this to happen.
EB: rose never even considered it, she thinks it's her fault.
EB: but it's mine, i was the one who wanted this to happen more than anything and now...
EB: oh my god, karkat. i'm so fucking sorry.
CG: ...WHAT HAPPENED, EGBERT? WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL ME?
EB: sollux, he...
EB: he's dead.
EB: he crossed over, and he had this look on his face like he'd just been punched in the stomach.
EB: and then he just fell over and died.
EB: i am so sorry, karkat.
EB: none of us even considered something like this could happen. we're still not sure why it happened.
EB: rose thinks it's either because our air or something is toxic to you guys or our universes are fundamentally different and you simply can't exist over here.
EB: oh my god, i'm crying
CG: YOU KILLED MY BEST FRIEND.
EB: oh god, karkat.
CG: YOU KILLED MY BEST FRIEND, AND THERE'S ONLY THREE OF US LEFT NOW. AND RUNNING FROM THIS DOOMED SESSION CLEARLY ISN'T AN OPTION ANYMORE.
CG: I THINK... I THINK THAT'S IT. FOR ME.
CG: I'M DONE.
CG: I'M JUST GOING TO SLEEP UNTIL THE END COMES. MAYBE I CAN AT LEAST WRING A LITTLE BIT OF DIGNITY OUT OF THAT.
CG: AND I GUESS THAT'S THE BEST I CAN HOPE FOR.
EB: karkat, i am so sorry.
CG: HERE LIES KARKAT VANTAS, FUCKUP EXTRAORDINAIRE BUT AT LEAST HE DIDN'T SHIT HIS PANTS LIKE A WRIGGLER WHEN HE FINALLY BIT IT.
CG: STRANGELY ENOUGH, I DON'T HATE YOU FOR THIS.
CG: TO BE HONEST, I THINK I EXPECTED IT.
CG: GOODBYE, JOHN. KEEP YOUR GROUP SAFE.
-- carcinoGeneticist ceased trolling ectoBiologist [EB] --
Terezi and Vriska had been reading over his shoulder.
Upon hearing the news, Vriska just slumped into the corner and hugged her knees.
Terezi tried to get Karkat to respond to her the whole walk back to where he slept.
The only thing she could manage to get him to say was a simple "I'M SORRY. FOR EVERYTHING." before he shut the door and tried to force himself to sleep.
To say she was distraught over these developments would be a gross understatement.
Whoa, this is some heavy shit!
Just so you know, I'm not picking on Sollux because I hate him or whatever. Quite the opposite, I think Sollux is kind of a neat character! Sollux was the one to fall over and die because I have plans for the other three trolls. Actually, I have plans for Sollux too, but who can say what they are?
There's a reason Sollux died here, is what I'm saying
Also notice the subtle sinking I did of Dave/Terezi! Karkat/Terezi OTP for life dudes
oh my god i am a huge tool forever for even typing that, christ someone take me out behind the shed
Chapter 3: Memorial
In which a funeral is held and a theory is confirmed.
For three hours after the memorial service, none of them spoke to one another.
Rose had her consorts dig a grave in the Land of Light and Rain and a funeral was held. "A brave pioneer deserves a hero's memorial, I should think," she said. The four of them attended.
Terezi watched via Trollian's viewport, the only troll to do so.
The experience having robbed her of any possibility of defeating Noir, escaping this doomed session, or even surviving, Vriska withdrew to her own area of the facility. Karkat just kind of groaned when Terezi knocked on his door and told him about the funeral.
"TH3 HUM4NS 4R3 H4V1NG SOM3 K1ND OF M3MOR14L TH1NG FOR SOLLUX. 1TS K1ND OF 4 STUP1D HUM4N TH1NG BUT 1 TH1NK 1TS 4 N1C3 GESTURE. TH3YR3 R34LLY TRY1NG H3R3. COM3 W1TH M3 TO TH3 COMPUT3R ROOM. PL34SE, K4RK4T."
Her voice broke, but only slightly. "OK4Y, YOU DONT H4V3 TO. 1LL COM3 CH3CK ON YOU L4T3R."
She couldn't stand seeing him like this. 1M NOT GONN4 CRY, she repeated to herself as she walked away from Karkat's room. Terezi made it as far as the end of the hall before she couldn't fight it anymore.
At the end of the service, Rose stuck around longer than anyone else. Her communion with the horrorterrors, part of what made the scratch possible, was responsible for this boy losing his life. They had failed to inform her that the very act of crossing sessions would be fatal.
But she felt that perhaps not all was lost. Perhaps she could turn the situation to her advantage. She sought out Jade.
-- tentacleTherapist [TT] began pestering gardenGnostic [GG] --
TT: Are you there? I could use your assistance.
GG: hello rose!
GG: yes i am here, what do you need
TT: I don't want to say much about it yet, because my preparations aren't complete and I haven't assured myself that it's even possible yet.
TT: Let's just say I may have figured out a way to turn my greatest blunder into my most shining moment of triumph.
GG: your greatest blunder??? rose you couldn't have known!
TT: Jade, please. In hindsight it was painfully obvious. Has this game ever let us have anything as easily as that?
TT: My communion with the old ones is what led me to the discovery of how to trigger the scratch, and that led directly to Sollux's death.
TT: If there is any chance I can undo this grave error, I will gladly make the attempt.
GG: it's good that you still want to help! but how can i help with this? :?
TT: I know it's asking a lot out of you, but I need you to sleep.
TT: More importantly, I need you to dream. In fact, what you dream about may very well determine whether or not my plan is even possible.
GG: ...i don't like dreaming anymore :(
GG: ever since my dreamself died, my dreams are all nightmares! it's horrible!
GG: i see nothing but empty space and ghosts and horrible creatures!!!
GG: why did you think i made all those sleeping pills??? at least now i can sleep without scaring myself to death every night!!!
TT: I know, Jade. There's a reason why they're called horrorterrors.
TT: But that's just it. You say you've talked with ghosts in your dreams, and that's the cornerstone of my theory.
TT: If I'm right, and it's possible to contact players who have died in the course of the game through dreaming, I see no reason why it shouldn't be possible otherwise.
TT: And if THAT is true...
TT: There's a chance we can undo not only Sollux's death, but the deaths of the other trolls.
TT: Don't you think that's worth facing your fears?
TT: You won't be alone. I will be consorting with the elder ones while you enter as many dream bubbles as you can.
TT: They lied to me, Jade. But nobody pulls the wool over Rose Lalonde's eyes. I'm not about to let them get away with it.
GG: how do i know i'll be okay? what if they notice me?
TT: Let me worry about that. I'll be the diversion, you scout out dream bubbles.
GG: ... :(
GG: okay, rose. i think i can do this.
GG: when do we start???
TT: Immediately, if possible.
GG: okay, i will try to sleep
TT: Thank you. I will begin communication shortly.
-- tentacleTherapist ceased pestering gardenGnostic [GG] --
Rose signed off of Pesterchum, as she always did before communing with dark eldritch forces. Sat in the meditative position, as she always did. Cleared her mind, as she always did. Before establishing the link, a smirk played across her face.
Her revenge would be subtle. But it would be absolute.
Jade tried to clear her mind as she lied down to go to sleep. Ever since her encounter with Feferi in the dream bubble, she had used sleeping aids to stop her nightmares. They didn't always allow for a particularly restful sleep, but they kept her from dreaming, and that's all she cared about.
This would be the first time she hadn't popped a pill before sleeping since her dreamself died.
Surprisingly enough, sleep came more easily than anticipated. However, staying asleep became a challenge.
As before, she found herself in the dream bubble. As before, she found Feferi awaiting her. But this time, she was not alone. Were these the other trolls who had died? But there were only six here.
Jade conversed with Feferi first, because she had already met her and so already kind of knew her. At seeing her white eyes and jagged teeth Jade was nearly startled awake again, and had to keep reminding herself that Feferi meant no harm. Of course her eyes were sort of creepy, you had to expect that from a ghost. And if all trolls had fangs like that, then there was no reason to be scared of that, either.
When Feferi introduced her friends, Jade had to concentrate to keep herself from waking up. They looked normal enough at first (well, for trolls anyway). Tavros had big goofy horns and was kind of quiet. Nepeta acted more like a cat than a troll. Equius was big and strong but subdued, and Kanaya was very kind. Even Gamzee was here, though the way he acted showed no indication that he could ever hurt anyone. But upon taking a closer look, they were... off. Their speech was a little slurred. Their voices sounded hollow. They moved stiffly and oh God are those open wounds? Did... did Tavros and Feferi have *gaping holes* in their chests? Why did Equius look like he struggled to breath? Was that multihued blood flowing from Kanaya's mouth, and why did she seem so spaced out?
Jade involuntarily sat up in bed with the realization, awake and on the verge of screaming. Something was horribly wrong in the dream bubble.
She just hoped Rose had gotten the info she needed.
-- gardenGnostic [GG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] --
GG: rose!!!! are you there?!
GG: i'm sorry but I couldn't stay asleep for very long and i could only get into the one bubble :(
GG: something is seriously wrong!!!!! i met them, rose
GG: i saw them, and
GG: i think they're suffering :( :( :( :( :(
GG: we have to help them!!!
TT: Sorry, I'm here now.
TT: You did very well, Jade. In fact, I think you've just single-handedly proven that I was on to something.
TT: When I was talking with the horrorterrors, I...
TT: I could HEAR you. And I could hear THEM. The dead trolls, I mean.
TT: You're right, they sound like they're in despair.
GG: so what does all this mean?
TT: If you can contact them via the dream bubble...
TT: And I can hear them when I commune with the old ones...
TT: Don't you see? This means the dream bubble is a physical place.
TT: If we can get there, we can rescue them. It's just a matter of finding them.
TT: And from there... we might be able to bring them into our session. Permanently.
TT: The jury's still out on exactly HOW we're to pull this off, but I have to get back to John and Dave. They're going to want to know about this.
GG: okay rose
GG: i'm just glad I could help! even if it did mean going back to that nightmare world :/
TT: Sorry to put you through it, kid. Get some medication-assisted rest if you want, you've earned it.
GG: haha i think i will! talk to you later rose!
-- gardenGnostic [GG] ceased pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] --
As posted in the MSPA forums fanfic thread:
Is this any good? I mean seriously
I've got some ideas for this story and I've got an epilogue that I'd love to get to (in fact I kind of wrote this story around it) but I'm just worried that to be blunt, this story sucks
Rose and Jade don't seem enough like themselves and I think I'm telling where I should be showing and also I'm afraid the premise is dumb as hell. Well to be fair the main twist hasn't come along yet! But I seriously think when we get that far, people are going to read it and groan because it's just so dumb
Maybe I'm wrong, I'm pretty vitriolic toward my own works if you haven't noticed! Every time I look at something I just made I can't help but feel all kinds of revulsion toward it. But this time I just can't shake the feeling that someone is reading it and rubbing their hands together and muttering "oh man I can't wait to rip into this piece of shit"
Anyway it's out there now and I hope at least someone likes it
Chapter 4: A Plan of Action
In which plans are made and events set into motion.
-- tentacleTherapist [CTT] RIGHT NOW opened memo on discussion board FRUITY RUMPUS ASSHOLE FACTORY --
CTT: I've opened this memo for one purpose.
CTT: In the attempt to bring the surviving trolls to our session, I made a grevious error, and Sollux paid for it with his life.
CTT: Having performed the necessary calculations, I believe I can say now, without a doubt, that this is reversable.
-- CURRENT turntechGodhead [CTG] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.
CTG: so lalondes got a plan to cheat death, eh
CTG: im listening
CTT: Good of you to show up, Dave. Any idea where John is?
-- CURRENT ectoBiologist [CEG] RIGHT NOW responed to memo.
CEB: right here.
CTT: Alright, now that the central players are here, I can go over my plans to circumvent death, bring the trolls over to our session safely, and bring about revenge upon the horrorterrors, all at once.
CEB: sounds like you've been busy!
CTT: It's mostly thanks to Jade that I discovered any of this even remained within the realm of possibility. If not for her connection to the dream bubbles, I'd still be moping about how I killed Sollux.
CTT: And to be completely fair, that is exactly what took place. A stain on my conscience for even entertaining the thought of listening to the gibbering ones from the beyond, I suppose.
CTT: But we're not here to play the blame game or listen to my pity party. We're here to decide what we're going to do to make this right.
-- CURRENT tentacleTherapist [TT] RIGHT NOW uploaded the file "OPERATION JAILBREAK.txt" to memo.
-- CURRENT turntechGodhead [TG] RIGHT NOW downloaded the file "OPERATION JAILBREAK.txt".
-- CURRENT gardenGnostic [GG] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.
-- CURRENT gardenGnostic [GG] RIGHT NOW downloaded the file "OPERATION JAILBREAK.txt".
-- CURRENT ectoBiologist [EB] RIGHT NOW downloaded the file "OPERATION JAILBREAK.txt".
CTT: Here is what I have planned so far. It will not be easy. I won't lie, there's a chance the entire operation could fail spectacularly and get us all killed.
CTT: However, if we are to set things right, I believe this is a mission we must complete.
CGG: rose i think this is a pretty good plan! <3
CGG: i will do what i can to help
CEB: yeah, this all sounds solid enough but...
CEB: have we even had any contact with the trolls since sollux died?
CEB: terezi seems to be the only one who still has a will to live among the survivors, and we haven't heard from her since the funeral.
CEB: vriska hasn't even talked to me! i hope she's okay...
CEB: and karkat! poor karkat...
CEB: sollux was his best friend. he must think i'm the worst person in all of existence :(
CEB: this plan is asking an awful lot of the trolls!
CEB: they trusted us to get them over here safely and we couldn't even do that. what reason would they have to trust us now?
-- CURRENT gallowsCalibrator [GC] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.
CGC: B3C4US3 W3 W1LL DO WH4T3V3R 1S N3C3SS4RY TO SURV1V3
CGC: W3 4R3 1N 4 DOOM3D S3SS1ON
CGC: W3V3 GOT NOTH1NG TO LOS3 4ND 1F W3 DONT DO 1T TH3 3ND R3SULT W1LL B3 TH3 S4M3
CGC: 1 W1LL DO MY B3ST TO CONV1NC3 K4RK4T 4ND VR1SK4
CGC: L34V3 TH4T P4RT TO M3
CGC: YOU GUYS WORRY 4BOUT G3TT1NG 3V3RYTH1NG R34DY
CGC: 3SP3C14LLY YOU D4V3!
CGC: LOOKS L1K3 YOUR3 4BOUT TO G3T YOUR T1M3 TO SH1N3 COOLK1D! H3H3H3H3H3
-- CURRENT gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased responding to memo.
CGG: what does she mean?
CTT: From what I understand about the way the outer rim works, navigating it is impossible for a normal player.
CTT: A dreamself MIGHT be able to traverse it, but that would take far too long for our purposes.
CTT: But a god-tiered player should have little trouble navigating through it.
CTT: The problem lies in the fact that John will be needed here, to execute his part of the plan.
CTT: Vriska, presuming the trolls go along with their part in this, will go there. But I don't feel comfortable in sending just one person. Therefore...
CTG: im gonna have to ascend
CTG: you cant do it because you need to run interference on the horrorterrors while we bust into the prison of souls
CTG: and jade cant do it because you kind of need an alive dreamself to ascend
CTG: not to mention she needs to help john with his part of the plan
CTG: i already know where my quest bed is, terezi lead me there when she tried to get me to go god tier
CTG: so i guess this means ive got a date with the business end of my sword
CTG: see you guys when i get back
CEB: dave, wait!
CEB: aren't you scared at all? i mean, i didn't know i was going to die when vriska told me about my quest bed...
CEB: but if i had, i don't know if i could have gone through with it!
CEB: do... do you want me to come with you? so at least you don't have to run yourself through?
CEB: i wouldn't mind doing that for you in your sleep, if that's what needs to be done.
CEB: i mean yeah, stabbing my best friend in his sleep kind of seems like a dick move!
CEB: but i think i could do it for the greater good, knowing youll come back stronger.
CTG: haha look at this guy
CTG: nah bro thanks for the sentiment though
CTG: i do appreciate that and thats the least ironic thing ive said in a long time
CTG: seriously im being 100% truthful here
CTG: but i think i can do this myself
CTG: where do you wake up after you ascend
CTG: like the battlefield or is there somewhere else for derse guys like me
CEB: well, i think i woke up on the battlefield because prospit was destroyed.
CEB: but if derse is still around, i don't see why you wouldn't wake up there.
CTG: well alright i guess that settles things
CTG: might as well get this shit over with asap
CTG: if i hesitate ill just imagine im being forced to watch one of egberts godawful movies and caladscratch will be in my sternum so goddamned fast itll break the sound barrier
CEB: haha you jackass!
CTG: brb killing myself
-- CURRENT turntechGodhead [TG] ceased responding to memo.
CTT: Well. We have our mission.
CTT: I say we make ready. Let's do this.
CEB: lets make this shit work!
CGG: were making this... HAPEN!!!!!!! :) :) :)
-- CURRENT ectoBiologist [EB] ceased responding to memo.
-- CURRENT gardenGnostic [GG] ceased responding to memo.
-- CURRENT tentacleTherapist [TT] ceased responding to memo.
-- CURRENT tentacleTherapist closed memo.
More like "in which I tip my hand and prove I will resort to pulling out all the stops to make shitty cop-outs in order to avoid writing a bad end"
This one's pretty short and I think I actually like it better. I keep getting told I'm not a bad writer but I continue to have my doubts. Maybe I just don't like writing depressing stuff?
Also I still don't think I write Jade very well, but maybe I'm getting better at writing Rose, which is why Rose has lots of dialogue here and Jade not so much. I might have to write her a lot later though, so don't think I'm just dodging the issue!
Anyway like I said, the epilogue to this story was actually the first part I came up with. Upon retrospect, I probably could have written it as a standalone story, and now that I really think about it, it probably would have been better for it. But it's too late now so enjoy the ride, damnit!
Chapter 5: Ascension
In which Dave struggles with ascending to the God Tiers.
Terezi stirred from her slumber. The dream bubbles were not a pleasant place when one stayed in them for too long, but going without sleep simply wasn't an option sometimes. Her body could only function so long without it, after all.
She had somehow managed to contact her fallen friends while asleep. But something was horribly wrong. They were suffering, she was certain, but why? They seemed happy on the surface, but a closer look revealed otherwise. The most burning question seemed to be, why couldn't she find all of them? Eridan (OH W3LL, she thought) and Sollux (OH NO >:[, she thought) weren't with Feferi's group in the dream bubble, but surely they would want to have Sollux if he could be found; hell, even Gamzee was with them in the dream bubble, seemingly reverted back to how he was before his insanity-fueled rampage. And come to think of it, where was Aradia?
Terezi's computer bleeped. Speak of the devil...
-- apocalypseArisen [AA] began trolling gallowsCalibrator [GC] --
AA: hi terezi!
GC: W41T WH4T
GC: YOUR3 D34D!!!
GC: HOW 4R3 YOU T4LK1NG TO M3?
AA: rum0rs 0f my death have been greatly exaggerated :)
GC: BUT YOU 3XPLOD3D
GC: 1 W4S H3R3! 1 S4W 1T H4PP3N!
GC: D1D EQU1US M4K3 4 B4CKUP ROBOT OR SOM3TH1NG
AA: haha n0
AA: i am alive and flesh and bl00d!
AA: i wanted t0 tell y0u that the humans have a plan
AA: they have n0t given up 0n y0u all!
AA: 0n the c0ntrary, they are w0rking harder than ever t0 help y0u 0ut!
AA: and i am g0ing t0 sh0w y0u
AA: turn 0n y0ur viewp0rt, i want t0 sh0w y0u s0mething
-- apocalypseArisen [AA] ceased trolling gallowsCalibrator [GC] --
Terezi turned on the Trollian viewport and was amazed. Just as she said, Aradia was a living, organic creature once again, but more importantly, she was decked out in... full god-tier gear? And she was standing next to... but how?!
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling arachnidsGrip [AG] --
GC: 4R3 YOU TH3R3???
GC: 4 SHOCK1NG D3V3LOPM3NT H4S TAK3N PL4C3
GC: 4R3 YOU TH3R3 VR1SK4?
Vriska rolled over and found the source of the irritating beeping noise in her room was her computer. She had no time for Terezi's bullshit right now.
AG: 8luh, what?
GC: CH3CK 1T OUT
GC: LOOK 4T YOUR CHUMPROLL
GC: NOT1C3 ANYTH1NG... AWRY????
AG: Other than the fact that almost everyone is deeeeeeeeaaaaaaaad? Not really.
AG: ...W8 just a daaaaaaaamned minute.
AG: The hell is Aradia doing logged in?
GC: NOT JUST TH4T, LOOK 4T H3R V13WPORT!
AG: God Tier?! How... th8t's impossi8le!!!!!!!!
GC: 4ND TH4T'S NOT 4LL!
GC: ZOOM OUT 4 B1T!!!
Vriska zoomed out Trollian's viewport to get a better view of Aradia's surroundings, and immediately recognized the figure she stood next to.
AG: That's... th8t's...
GC: D4V3 FUCK1NG STR1D3R!!!
AG: But you can't cross universes! I thought we made TH8T pretty d8mned clear!
GC: K4RK4T H4S TO S33 TH1S
GC: 1LL B3 B4CK
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling arachnidsGrip [AG] --
Despite his best efforts at imagining having to sit through Little Monsters with an unironically excited John, Caladscratch was not hurtling through any part of Dave's body at any speed, let alone anything that could even generously be called supersonic.
In the back of his mind, he knew this was stupid. You die on your quest bed on the top of your echeladder with a living dreamself, and then you merge with your dreamself, ascend to the God Tiers, and become stronger for it. John had done it and he turned out okay. Vriska had done the same thing over in the trolls' session.
So why was it so hard to kill himself, knowing that suicide would actually power him up?
"it must be difficult, having t0 make that decisi0n y0urself."
Dave wheeled around, Caladscratch at the ready. Standing behind him was... no way, it can't be. Yet there she stood, her very existence defying logic.
"how the hell did you get here? you guys cant exist in our universe without shutting down."
"n0rmally, yes, thats c0rrect. its n0t s0 much a pr0blem f0r a g0d tier player, th0ugh."
"god tier? well that explains the fairy costume i guess. guess that means youre vriska?"
"haha, n0. th0ugh i d0 kn0w her! my name is aradia!"
"ah, youre the one who exploded, and was also a robot. and now youre alive and not a robot, and also god tier somehow. makes perfect sense."
"hehehe, i can see why y0ure kind 0f c0nfused. it is a c0nfusing st0ry! but that's n0t the p0int."
No longer sensing any danger from her, Dave sheathed Caladscratch and took a seat on the quest bed.
"y0u are y0ur sessi0ns time player, are y0u n0t?"
"yeah. knight of time, in the flesh."
"then it is g00d we have met this day. i was the maid 0f time f0r my sessi0n, myself."
Aradia sat down beside him.
"y0ur plan requires y0u to ascend t0 the g0d tier. but y0u are hesitating!"
"yeah well the idea of taking a blade to my own jugular is still kind of weirding me out, you see."
"y0u will be the first player in either 0f 0ur sessi0ns t0 c0nsci0usly kill himself 0n his quest bed. the heir was tricked int0 it; t0 say my ascensi0n was accidental w0uld n0t be t00 far fr0m the truth; and the thief..."
Aradia looked at the ground.
"i am n0t pr0ud 0f what i did. vriska and i were friends, 0nce. well, m0re like rivals."
"she was resp0nsible for killing me before our sessi0n even began. i wandered alternia as a gh0st for a l0ng time, and i was 0kay with it. equius br0ught me back t0 life by giving me a r0b0tic b0dy, and i was 0kay with that, t00. but when i saw vriska in pers0n f0r the first time since my death..."
She closed her eyes, burdened with the memory.
"a mindless, firey rage c0nsumed me, and in my wrath, i beat her t0 death. i d0 n0t kn0w h0w she managed to cling to life l0ng en0ugh t0 make it t0 her quest bed, but it must have been ag0nizing. i have heard it was a sl0w and painful death. i d0 n0t kn0w h0w i will face her, but it is vital t0 the missi0n that i d0."
Dave swore he saw a single pair of crimson tears fall from her eyes before she stood up.
"but im rambling." She extended her hand as if she expected Dave to give her something.
"what? do i have something you want?"
"yes! y0ur blade! since i am here, surely i cann0t expect y0u to be 0kay with killing y0urself!"
"so youre going to do the job for me, then? thanks... i guess?"
"its n0 pr0blem. it is an awful tall 0rder to ask a b0y to kill himself, even if he gets superp0wers f0r d0ing so!" Aradia smiled at him.
Dave nodded and handed Caladscratch to her.
"will i feel it? is this like when those lying doctors tell you 'oh just turn your head and you won't feel a thing' and then BAM the needles in and theres no disguising the fact that theres a full inch of metal in your forearm?"
"y0u sh0uldnt! 0ne strike t0 the center of y0ur chest sh0uld d0 it, instantly and painlessly."
"well alright then lets get this shit over with. wait, what about my stuff? will i need to come back here for it?"
"y0ure a dersian, right? d0nt w0rry, ill take care 0f it. maid 0f time, remember?"
He laid atop his quest bed and closed his eyes.
For one very brief instant, Dave felt a pressure in his chest as the point plunged into his heart. Then, stillness.
In their dream bubble, Dave's dead selves from doomed timelines realized something big was happening when they started disappearing one by one.
"what's going on? why are we vanishing?"
"its finally happening. the grand fuckin ascension is going down."
"yeah. aradia was telling the truth. weve hit the big time now, boys."
"so what does it all mean?"
"it means we're becoming one. we're all gonna merge with alpha dave and get a massive powerup in the process."
"merge? that sounds like some crazy shit to me."
"not really, we were all the same guy already, pretty much. this just makes it official."
"alpha dave is going god tier and giving us the ultimate bro hug bump. lets make this one count."
"hell yes. lets make this shit work."
The cry went up simultaneously as all the remaining Daves merged into one single conciousness. "were making this happen!"
Karkat watched the entire thing over Terezi's shoulder, dumbstruck. Vriska was STILL staring in disbelief.
Terezi grinned from ear to ear. He had finally ascended to the God Tier. But more than that, Dave's entire exchange with Aradia had given the surviving trolls something back that they had lost.
Hope, for the future, for a brighter tomorrow.
Dave awoke on the purple satellite of Derse. A gift-wrapped box was placed at the foot of his bed. He checked the card taped to it. "t0 the knight, fr0m the maid. i believe these bel0ng to y0u! c0ngratulati0ns!"
Scribbled out next to the congratulatory remark was a "0u0" face.
His sylladex reequipped, strife specibus reallocated, and inventory recaptchalogued, and wearing a spiffy new bright red outfit marked with the same ten-teethed gear symbol Aradia wore, Dave set out on the journey to reunite with his friends.
Amazing, how quick travel is, when you have God Tier level time powers.
"i am n0t pr0ud of what i did. vriska and i were friends, 0nce." This was my favorite line in the entire story until I realized it was a lie, hence the "well, m0re like rivals" I added to it immediately after
Or was it a lie? I swear I can't remember shit about Hivebent when I really need to
I should just go back and reread it a million times if I'm going to insist on continuing to write the trolls
Also: The voices in which I read certain characters is starting to bleed into how I write them, I think.
Dave's voice, to me, works just fine for how he acts (in my mind he's the male created skater voice from Tony Hawk's Underground, which is generic enough for my purposes), but it's my headcanon voice for Aradia that I'm finding is creeping into how I write her, and that's the English voice of Nia from Gurren Lagann, right down to substituting her Antispiral voice in for ghost/Aradiabot. I actually had to go back a few times and write her more like Aradia and less like Nia!
...now that I think about it, half the English cast of Gurren Lagann are my headcanon voices. Karkat is, has been, and will always be Viral; John sort of sounds like post-timeskip Gimmy but different; Jade is post-timeskip Kinon.
GUESS I GOT BRAIN PROBLEMS
Also also: I read Eridan in the voice of Eric Sparrow from Tony Hawk's Underground. Now go back and read the few lines of dialogue he had in chapter 1. You will never unhear it. You're welcome.
Chapter 6: Ectobiology
In which John and Jade begin their work.
John stepped back to admire his and Jade's handiwork. Alchemizing the thing with all the features they needed had been an ordeal, and their work had not yet truly began, but the apparatus they had just finished was truly a work of art.
To be honest, the siblings were at least a little nervous. John had little experience in this field of work; in fact, the one time he managed to pull it off, it was pretty much accidental. Jade had more knowledge of the logic behind it, but she had never worked on equipment with features like this, or with expected results on this scale.
But their task was clear, and a critical piece of the mission that lay before them. Failure was unacceptable. John pressed the button to activate the viewport on his terminal as Jade did the same for her own.
The machine hummed to life and John's screen blinked on, picturing a young male humanoid with grey skin and nubby yellow-orange horns. He held a sickle and was practicing with it in what John presumed was his room. When the figure turned around and revealed a grey Cancer astrological sign on his shirt, there was no doubt. That's Karkat, John thought. He pressed another button on the console and attempted to appearify Karkat. Of course, this failed, and a mass of paradox slime appeared instead, which was quickly collected by the machine and stored in one of the 16 tubes of the ectobiology containment unit. Just as planned.
Another sequence of keystrokes. This time, a young troll girl appeared onscreen, dressed in pirate gear. Her left eye had seven pupils. A cerulean Scorpio sign adorned her front. Vriska. Appearify, slime, collect, store.
Jade's screen powered on. A troll girl appeared, wearing a highly decorative outfit and holding a double-ended trident. When it became clear she lived underwater, Jade recognized who she looked at. Feferi. Appearify, slime, collect, store.
This continued until the paradox slime of all twelve trolls had been collected and stored away. Four more empty chambers remained.
John pressed another sequence of keys. On his screen was Rose, surrounded by her corsorts and reading from her tome of eldritch lore. Appearify, slime, collect, store. An image of Dave from before Sburb filled Jade's screen. He and his brother were training on their apartment's rooftops. Appearify, slime, collect, store.
A child and her dog frolicked on John's screen. Jade hugged Becquerel and giggled like a little girl often does. Appearify, slime, collect, store. Jade watched this scene play out on her own monitor and smiled at the happy memory. The perspective shifted slightly to reveal John, watching this not even seconds ago. Appearify, slime, collect, store.
The brother and sister met at the central terminal. Sixteen tubes of slime had been collected; now their work could truly begin.
"ive only done this with frogs, you know. something more complex wont be so easy."
"it's okay, jade. i know we can do it!"
She smiled at him. "alright, brother. lets begin!!!"
Dave's return to LOHAC was a happy occasion, to say the least, and not just because the kids were happy to see their friend again.
"good to see you back, buddy! looks like your nap went well."
"haha thanks bro, ive got a hell of a story to tell."
The revelation of Aradia's presence in their session was a boon they hadn't seen coming. The fact that she survived and had ascended was of great import, but most important was what this implied; the human session and the troll session WERE, in fact, linked, and the dreamscape served as the binding. Rose was actually surprisingly optimistic about the mission for once. In her own words, "two God Tier time-aspect players means the chances of us pulling this off just exponentially increased. I don't dare think we're assured success because of it, but I believe we can rest a little easier knowing there exists a redundant failsafe."
Meanwhile, in the dreamscape, a young soul fled, having managed to escape his dream bubble. To say the horrorterrors were not pleased with this turn of events would be a gross understatement. NOBODY had ever escaped the dream bubbles until now, and they would make an example of this rebel.
He gripped the small object in the pocket of his coat and pointed it at the abomination lashing out at him. The tip of it glowed white-hot for an instant before a white bolt of lightning severed the flailing tentacles. The severed appendages passed by him harmlessly.
"zap, motherfuckers. boww dowwn to the mighty wwizard of wwhite science."
Told ya. People can't stay dead when I write them.
But why would I bring back a villain?
That's a question for another time.
Chapter 7: Collaboration
In which exposition is made in pesterlog form, the kids' plan is revealed, and the unthinkable asked of the surviving trolls.
-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering gallowsCalibrator [GC] --
GC: H3Y COOLK1D
GC: N1C3 JOB ON THE ASC3NS1ON BY TH3 W4Y!
TG: haha thanks
TG: rose is yelling at me to get you guys into her discussion thing
TG: tell karkat, your time girl and the crazy spider lady to get their asses in here
TG: weve got a plan and its gonna blow your minds
GC: H3H3 OK4Y
-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering gallowsCalibrator [GC] --
-- tentacleTherapist [TT] RIGHT NOW opened memo on discussion board Operation Jailbreak --
CTT: Is everyone here?
-- CURRENT ectoBiologist [EB] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.
-- CURRENT turntechGodhead [TG] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.
-- CURRENT gallowsCalibrator [GC] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.
-- CURRENT gardenGnostic [GG] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.
CGG: i am here!! :)
-- CURRENT carcinoGeneticist [CG] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.
CCG: WHAT DO YOU SHITHEELS WANT NOW.
-- CURRENT arachnidsGrip [AG] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.
CAG: Yeah, I'm here.
-- CURRENT apocalpyseArisen [AA] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.
CTT: That's everyone accounted for, then.
CTT: It goes without saying that times have been trying recently. I don't believe I need to go into specifics, as circumstances speak for themselves.
CTT: Having made note of this, let's consider the positives.
CTT: Aradia's presence in our session confirmed a sneaking suspicion I've had for quite some time. That is, that our sessions are linked, and they join at the dreamscape.
CAA: and ive been t0 the dream bubbles
CTT: Jade and I have been there as well, mentally. My mind travels there during my communication with the horrorterrors, and Jade finds herself there when she dreams, due to her dreamself having been killed.
CTT: I believe hers is not the only case of this.
CCG: YEAH, ALL OUR DREAMSELVES HAVE BEEN DEAD FOR A WHILE NOW.
CCG: I'VE ONLY MENTIONED THIS A FEW HUNDRED TIMES.
CTT: Jade, and I suspect Karkat and Terezi as well, has been able to make contact with the deceased trolls during dreams. When I first heard of this, I dismissed it as the product of an overactive imagination. No offense to you, of course, Jade.
CGG: none taken!
CTT: But recently, I had her do it again, this time on purpose as I established contact with the old ones. This time, I was able to clearly hear Jade's voice as well as the voices of the departed. This confirmed that dream bubbles are where dead players end up.
CTT: The revelation that the dream bubbles are within our reach led me to formulate a plan, which has seen several revisions though the main course of action, as well as the mission's purpose, remains the same.
CTT: Our mission is clear: we will rescue the spirits of your fallen comrades and resurrect them in our session.
CCG: HAHA SERIOUSLY? THIS IS WHAT YOUR BIG PLAN WAS?
CCG: HOW DO YOU THINK YOU'LL EVEN MANAGE THIS?
CCG: YEAH I'M SURE THE HORRORTERRORS WILL JUST LET YOU WALTZ INTO THE OUTER FUCKING RIM AND TAKE BACK THEIR HOSTAGES!
CCG: I'M SURE THIS IS GOING TO BE EASY, WITH A NAME LIKE HORROR-GODDAMNED-TERRORS THEY'VE GOT TO ALL BE A BUNCH OF FUCKING PUSHOVERS, RIGHT?
CAG: For once I agree with Karkat. How are we possi8ly going to pull this off????????
CTT: John will be staying here, because he has precious experience with ectobiology.
CTT: The outer rim cannot be navigated by normal means, and so it's nearly impossible for any player to do so.
CAA: unless y0ure g0d tier
CAA: for a g0d tier player, finding the way is n0t much 0f a challenge
CTT: Therefore, I propose that three of the four of us who have ascended should travel to the dreamscape. In the meantime, I will commune with the horrorterrors and provide a means of distraction. With two godtiered time players, this should give you more than enough of a window of opportunity for your rescue.
CTT: I have instructed my consorts to craft a number of crystal spheres. Ten, in total. These will serve as vessels for the souls of the fallen long enough for our purposes.
CEB: wait a minute...
CEB: you... you made poke balls?!
CEB: that would be hilarious if this situation weren't so goddamned serious!
CTT: The similarities were not lost on me, either. Rest assured, I resisted the urge to paint their top halves red; they are completely transparent.
CCG: HOLD ON A FUCKING SECOND.
CCG: TEN? BUT THERE ARE EIGHT OF US DEAD, AND TWO OF THEM I'M PRETTY SURE I'D BE OKAY WITH NEVER SEEING AGAIN!
CCG: WELL I SUPPOSE BACKUPS ARE NECESSARY IN CASE SOMEONE FUCKS UP AND LOSES ONE. DIDN'T THINK OF THAT.
CTT: No, there are just enough for the mission. Finding enough of the crystal to make ten of the spheres was a challenge by itself.
CTT: That brings us to your part. Possibly, yours will be the most difficult task of all.
CTT: Obviously, you cannot come to our session existing as you are, with the exception of Aradia and Vriska, as ascending to the God Tiers provides protection against the shift in dimensions.
CTT: However, our plan is to transfer all of you to our session, thus protecting you from Noir and increasing our numbers.
CCG: I DON'T FOLLOW. WHAT IS IT YOU WANT TEREZI AND I TO DO?
CTT: There's no easy way to say this, so let's get to the point.
CTT: In order to transfer you from your session to ours...
CTT: We will need to find you in the dream bubbles.
CTT: I suspect simply finding you while you dream won't work, as your dream presence isn't, in layman's terms, enough of *you* in one place.
CTT: In order for the mission to be carried out successfully...
CTT: Karkat and Terezi must die.
CTT: I'm quite aware that this is a lot to ask of you. Especially since you trusted us to get you here safe before, and we utterly failed in every way possible.
CTT: However, I would not ask this of you if I were not completely assured of our success.
CTT: I will not press the matter. If you decide this course of action isn't what you want, I pass no judgment.
CTT: Preparations are nearly complete. I will alert you when we are ready to move.
CTT: I realize this is not a very wide timeframe. But I must ask you to consider your next course of action.
CTT: Do what you think is best.
-- CURRENT tentacleTherapist [TT] ceased responding to memo.
-- CURRENT tentacleTherapist closed memo.
The plot thickens
Also now that I see it actually written up it's kind of over the top! "hurrrr gotta kill yourself to advance" just seems so forced and hamfisted now that I've actually written it out but there it is
Anyway, we're getting to one of the scenes I'm actually kind of excited about writing, in a really kind of morbid sort of way! Fun fact: did you know I'm fond of writing Karkat/Terezi?
And also, what's gonna happen to our God Tier explorers if they run into the mighty wwizard of wwhite science? TUNE IN NEXT TIME, SAME CROSSING OVER TIME, SAME CROSSING OVER CHANNEL
Chapter 8: Drinker
In which I finally address Kanaya's apparent vampirism.
Karkat mulled over the possibility of going with the humans' plan in his head for the hundred time. On one hand, their mistakes had lead to Sollux's death, something he saw as an easily preventable accident. On the other, the humans were pulling out all the stops to ensure their plan could not possibly fail. They had likely prepared for every scenario imaginable, regardless of how likely.
But the idea of killing Terezi, then himself, did not sit well with him.
Though it was unspoken between them and Karkat would deny it up and down to any outside party, their relationship was obvious, and had any trolls other than Vriska survived long enough to say so, Karkat and Terezi would be described as textbook matespritship. If they both had to die for the plan to succeed, of course he would offer to do the job himself. It was the noblest thing he could do for her, given this set of very morbid circumstances.
And yet, when he imagined the act of running her through with the Regisickle, or cutting her throat, or even decapitation (*especially* decapitation), which was supposedly relatively painless, just the thought of going through with it made him want to vomit.
Rose had informed them of the suicide's status as a key component of the mission nearly twenty minutes ago. Terezi was furious, initially ("WH3N YOU S41D TH1S PL4N W4S GO1NG TO BLOW OUR M1NDS 1 THOUGHT YOU M34NT 1N 4N 4W3SOM3 COOLK1D W4Y, NOT 1N A HORR1BL3 SH1TTY W4Y!" she had told Dave) but was beginning to calm down. Vriska had agreed to scout the dream bubbles for the dead alongside Dave and Aradia, and strangely enough didn't need much coaxing to do so.
Karkat was circling the complex for the dozenth time or so when he noticed something out of place... green footprints? He followed them through a network of hallways and laboratories until the trail led into a dark room with no exits.
"IS THERE SOMEONE IN HERE? SHOW YOURSELF, FUCKASS!"
Audible footsteps came closer to the open doorway. Karkat stepped back and gripped the Regisickle. He didn't know who this intruder was, but he would not let them ruin things any further.
When she stepped into the light of the hallway, the sickle clattered to the floor, as did Karkat's jaw, figuratively.
"Hello Karkat. Sorry To Have Alarmed You. Please Forgive Me."
To say her return to the world of the living shocked Karkat would be a gross understatement. Her wound still dripped jade-colored blood, but otherwise, Kanaya Maryam stood before him, alive and well.
She explained her condition; she believed that tasting the blood of her lusus, a virgin mother grub (she left out the part where she did so intentionally; as far as she was concerned, they could go on believing her mouth had accidently been hit with blood spatter when she opened up the mother grub to retrieve the matriorb), had caused her transformation upon death into a rainbow drinker.
Immediately Karkat was worried. He should have been happy that his moirail had survived after all, but a question nagged at the back of his mind. He did not know much about rainbow drinker lore, but the tales varied wildly. Some stories told of rainbow drinkers who were completely normal, distinguishable from normal trolls only by their tolerance of sunlight and their need to consume blood. Others spoke in hushed tones of brutal fanged monters that only superficially resembled the creatures they were in life. Kanaya seemed to be the former, but he had to confirm his suspicions.
After talking with her for a while, she resumed her brooding in the darkness. Karkat went for his husktop.
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling gardenGnostic [GG] --
CG: JADE, ARE YOU THERE?
GG: password ASSHOLE!!!
CG: NO, THIS DOESN'T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE INSANE PLAN TO GET RID OF ME ONCE AND FOR ALL.
CG: THIS IS SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY.
CG: ROSE MENTIONED YOU TRAVELED TO THE DREAM BUBBLE IN YOUR SLEEP AND SAW THE DEAD TROLLS.
CG: WHO EXACTLY DID YOU SEE?
GG: well there was feferi, i talked with her mostly because i had already met her in the dream world once
GG: and there was the kid with big goofy horns, isnt that tavros?
CG: YEAH, THAT'S PRETTY MUCH THE MOST BASIC WAY TO DESCRIBE HIM.
GG: lets see, who else???
GG: the one who looks like a kittycat, and i guess the musclehead guy is her best friend???
CG: OH GOOD, NEPETA AND EQUIUS CONTINUE TO BE NAUSEATING EVEN IN THE GREAT BEYOND.
CG: ANYONE ELSE?
GG: there was one with messed up hair, and i think he had paint on his face!!! but he seemed really nice, even if he swears even more than you do :o
CG: OH GOD, GAMZEE IS THERE? FUCK
GG: i thought you said he was a bad guy now? but he seemed really nice!
CG: I AM NOT DISCUSSING THIS. JEGUS FUCK YOU'RE GIVING ME FLASHBACKS
CG: OH GOD I'M FUCKING SHAKING
CG: CAN WE TALK ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE? ANYTHING ELSE AT ALL. LITERALLY ANY OTHER TOPIC.
His heart rate shot up with the memory of Gamzee stalking him through the corridors of the meteor complex. This did not go unnoticed.
GG: okay sorry :(
GG: i had forgotten what you went through
GG: *hug* :( :( :( :( :(
CG: IT'S... IT'S OKAY. IT'S OVER NOW.
CG: WAS THERE ANYONE ELSE YOU SAW IN THE DREAMSCAPE?
GG: i didnt see sollux or eridan there, i remember that much
GG: feferi said she had been looking for sollux, but couldn't find him anywhere!
GG: and she couldnt find eridan either but she admitted she wasnt looking very hard for him
CG: HAHA, I'M NOT SURPRISED.
CG: I WOULDN'T WANT TO SPEND ALL OF ETERNITY WITH A MURDEROUS, DESPERATE TOOL EITHER.
GG: oh!!! i almost forgot!
GG: kanaya was there too
GG: shes very nice!!! she speaks in a really proper sort of way too
Karkat's expression turned to a puzzled one as footsteps in the dark approached. If Kanaya was in the dream bubble, then who did he just find?
GG: she didnt seem as coherent as the others though
GG: and thats saying something!!!
GG: i think the horrorterrors have somehow made the afterlife awful :(
GG: kanaya seemed to fade in and out and she wasnt entirely there
He realized the implications of what Jade had told him and readied his sickle. This undead creature had her mannerisms, but she was Kanaya no longer.
GG: ...karkat? are you still there???
CG: YEAH. THANKS FOR THE INFO. I HAVE TO GO NOW.
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling gardenGnostic [GG] --
Karkat closed and captchalogued his husktop just in time to avoid Kanaya's lunge for his throat.
"Oh God Karkat, I Am So Sorry."
"KANAYA?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"
"I Can't Help Myself. I Don't..."
She stumbled forward in another attempt to grab Karkat, which he sidestepped.
"The Hunger, Karkat. It Drives Me And Yet I Find It Utterly Deplorable."
"FIGHT IT! YOU'RE FUCKING STRONGER THAN THIS! DON'T LET IT RULE YOU, GODDAMNIT!"
Another lunge had proven that Kanaya was not, in fact, stronger than this.
"Karkat Listen. While I Am Still Lucid Enough To Talk. I Have Not Fed Since I Drained Feferi And I Fear My Control Over Myself Is Slipping. I Need You To Do Something For Me."
"WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?"
"I Cannot Control My Urges Without A Constant Supply Of Blood. This Means I Am A Danger To Everyone. Therefore I Ask That You End My Life."
"GODDAMNIT, NO! THERE HAS TO BE ANOTHER WAY!"
"I Am Afraid This Is How It Must Be. I Apologize."
Another attempt to drain Karkat's throat, and it was all over. Karkat barely even registered what happened; he had done it purely by accident. Horrified at what he had done to his moirail, he stepped back.
"Thank You, Karkat. You Have Relieved Me Of Terror Like You Could Not Imagine."
The Regisickle remained jammed in Kanaya's chest as she fell to the ground, lifeless. Karkat reclaimed the weapon, placed it back in the specibus, and slumped against the far wall of the hallway, wondering how he had let things get so bad.
WHAT'S EVEN THE POINT ANYMORE, he wondered to himself. MIGHT AS WELL GET IT OVER WITH.
But he could not face the end alone.-----
Meanwhile, in the outer rim, two souls took stock of their situation. The one wielding the wand spoke first.
"wwell this is a fine mess wwe got ourselves into, eh sol?"
The one with red and blue eyes replied. "ii'll 2ay. we mu2t be pii22iing them off 2omethiing fiierce for them two be comiing at u2 thii2 hard."
A bolt of white lightning impaled an approaching horrorterror as a bicolored optic blast disintegrated another.
"yeah wwell they didn't expect anyone to fight back."
(insert my usual lack of confidence at writing a character I haven't written before here)
So yeah I wrote this to cover for the fact that Kanaya completely escaped my mind in the first chapter, and then again in all subsequent chapters. I actually meant to write a scene like this earlier but it kept being forgotten until now, when I could no longer ignore it because the critical hour of happy double suicide funtimes is upon us.
Speaking of, that's next! So enjoy that, you weirdos
>implying I am not a weirdo for writing it
Chapter 9: Together
I loathed this chapter after I reread it after posting. I believe the exact term I used to describe it was "junior high remedial English level bullshit".
I revised it a little from its original form, still not 100% happy with it, but it doesn't make my skin crawl quite the way it did before, now.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Karkat found Terezi in the computer room, doing nothing in particular. He touched her shoulder as he sat down next to her.
She glanced up at him. "HOW C4N 1 B3? W3 4RE GO1NG TO D13, R3G4RDL3SS OF WH4T H4PP3NS NOW."
"YEAH. EITHER NOIR MURDERS US, OR WE DO IT OURSELVES. BUT..."
Terezi held both of Karkat's hands in her own. "Y3S?"
"I THINK I CAN FACE THE END, IF I HAVE SOMEONE WITH ME. WE DON'T HAVE TO DO IT ALONE."
"YOU R34LLY DONT TH1NK TH3 HUM4NS W1LL B3 4BL3 TO PULL 1T OFF, DO YOU?"
"I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO THINK ANYMORE. THE LAST DAY OR SO HAS COMPLETELY FUCKED OVER MY ABILITY TO GIVE A DAMN. BUT I DO KNOW ONE THING."
Karkat pulled her close.
"IN THE END... I'M GLAD YOU'RE HERE."
Terezi ran her fingers through Karkat's hair and kissed him gently on the neck. They remained in each other's arms for what could never be long enough. Both of them would have given anything for the moment to never end.
Karkat swore under his breath when Trollian bleeped on his terminal.
-- ectoBiologist [EB] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
EB: karkat? buddy? you there?
EB: rose wants to know what you and terezi are going to do.
EB: god this is awful!
EB: i'm just sitting here casually asking if you've decided whether or not to kill yourselves like some kind of inconsiderate prick!
EB: if this works, i deserve to be socked in the jaw.
EB: in fact, i am giving you permission to do so, right now.
CG: TEREZI AND I HAVE DECIDED THAT THERE'S NO POINT IN NOT COMMITTING MUTUAL SUICIDE IN ORDER TO GO ALONG WITH THE MISSION.
CG: GOD, THAT'S A FUCKED UP THING TO TYPE.
CG: BUT IN ALL SERIOUSNESS
CG: EITHER WE KILL OURSELVES NOW, GOING OUT ON OUR TERMS
CG: OR LEAVE OURSELVES TO WHATEVER THE HELLBEAST HAS PLANNED.
CG: SO WE'RE GOING TO DO THIS.
EB: karkat, i... i don't know what i *can* say.
CG: IF YOU GUYS FUCK THIS UP I SWEAR TO GOD I'M GOING TO HAUNT YOU.
CG: CHAINS RATTLING, SPOOKY VOICES IN THE NIGHT, THINGS BEING FLUNG ACROSS THE ROOM BY INVISIBLE FORCES
CG: MULTIHUED BLOOD FLOWING *UP* THE WALLS.
CG: IF THIS DOESN'T WORK, I HOPE YOU LIKE GHOSTBUSTERS AS MUCH AS YOU SAY YOU DO! BECAUSE AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED, THAT MOVIE WILL RETROACTIVELY BECOME YOUR BIOGRAPHY.
CG: THIS IS A PROMISE.
EB: then all i can promise you...
EB: is that we will not fail!
CG: THAT'LL BE A FIRST FOR YOU GUYS, THEN.
CG: SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE.
EB: see you then, bro!!!
-- ectoBiologist [EB] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
Karkat's hand rested on his sickle. "MIGHT AS WELL GET THIS OVER WITH."
One quick motion would be all that was needed to end it. The tip of the Regisickle would be driven into Terezi's heart and she would die instantly. Then once more to himself, and it would be over and out of his hands.
Yet, he hesitated.
Terezi smiled and assured him it was okay. "1TS NOT R34LLY TH3 3ND, 4FT3R 4LL," she told him. But even if the humans could wring success from the overwhelming failure that plagued both their sessions, the idea of killing the girl he loved, and then himself, in a twisted murder-suicide meant to pull the rug out from under the horrorterrors, was still some heavy shit. DO IT, he tried to will himself. KILL HER. YOU KILL THAT GIRL THIS INSTANT.
The sickle hit the ground with a heavy thud, ringing out his latest failure as the team leader. He could not bring himself to kill the girl.
Another way of doing this existed. It would cost him the rest of his dignity, but that ship had sailed so long ago, he didn't care anymore.
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling arachnidsGrip [AG] --
CG: YOU HAVE WON OUR LIFELONG BATTLE OF HUGE ASSHOLE VS SOCIOPATHIC BITCH.
CG: YOU WERE RIGHT. TURNS OUT I *AM* A GIGANTIC FEATHERBEAST SHIT AFTER ALL!
CG: THE HUMANS TRUSTED ME WITH ONE JOB, ONE FUCKING JOB, AND THAT WAS TO KILL MYSELF.
CG: AND I CAN'T EVEN DO THAT BECAUSE I AM AN UTTER FAILURE.
CG: SO CONGRATULATIONS! THE WAR IS OVER! YOU HAVE WON SO MANY MEDALS FOR YOUR VALOR IN BATTLE. ALL OF THEM, IN FACT.
CG: AND NOW I AM ASKING
CG: FUCKING BEGGING YOU
CG: TO COME DOWN HERE AND DO WHAT I CANNOT.
CG: THIS IS THE PART WHERE YOU LAUGH AT ME AND GLOAT ABOUT YOUR LATEST VICTORY.
CG: I CAN'T SAY I DON'T DESERVE IT! SO LAUGH AWAY.
CG: I AWAIT YOUR SICK BURNS WITH EAGER ENTHUSIASM.
AG: ...why would I do that? ::::(
AG: I mean yeah, I know, 8luh 8luh huge 8itch.
AG: 8ut I'm not a fucking s8dist. I don't wax neeeeeeeeaaaaaaaarly as 8lack for you as you seem to think I do.
CG: HAHAHAHAHAHA AND NOW EVEN THE SPIDERBITCH IS TAKING PITY ON ME!
CG: WAIT, HOLD ON
CG: THERE, EIGHT HA'S.
CG: YOUR VICTORY IS SO UTTERLY COMPLETE THAT I AM NOW GOING ALONG WITH YOUR BULLSHIT THEME OF DOING SHIT IN EIGHTS.
CG: NOW THAT THAT'S OUT OF THE WAY, CAN WE SKIP THE BULLSHIT AND GET TO THE PART WHERE YOU ROLL YOUR DICE AND OUR HEADS EXPLODE ALREADY?
CG: BECAUSE I THINK I WOULD HONESTLY PREFER THAT EVEN IF THE CURRENT PLAN DIDN'T REQUIRE TEREZI AND I TO DIE.
AG: Daaaaaaaamn, Karkat! You sure are hard on yourself today!
AG: I'm going to 8e honest with you. You're only going to hear this once so you'd 8etter listen up!
AG: You're not that 8ad of a leader. When you spoke, we listened, and not just anyone could say that.
AG: I mean, the game itself tried to keep us working against each other 8ut you were all "MAN, FUCK THAT" and got all twelve of us to work together like one team.
AG: This is no easy feat! I dou8t anyone else could have done it.
AG: Not even me. No8ody would listen to anything I say unless I manipul8ted them into it.
CG: WHATEVER, VRISKA. JUST GET YOUR ASS DOWN HERE.
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling arachnidsGrip [AG] --
Vriska arrived in the computer lab, Flourite Octet at the ready. Karkat and Terezi nodded at her, closed their eyes, and embraced, waiting for the inevitable.
His voice lowered to a whisper. "i don't know what comes after this. i don't know if the humans can do what they think they can, or if we're going to be stuck in the dream bubbles forever. i'm fucking terrified, terezi, and that's the truth. but in the end, i can go out fucking smiling, because at least we got to be together, one last goddamn time. i love you, terezi pyrope."
She traced the outline of a heart on his chest. "4nd 1 lov3 you, k4rk4t v4nt4s."
Vriska groaned and halfheartedly rolled the dice. 6. 3. 2. 8. 7. 8. 5. 8. [HEART 8TTACK]. Karkat and Terezi fell to the floor, dead.
Vriska mentally prepared for her part of the mission. Aradia was to escort Dave through the dreamscape, then they would all meet in the Veil and await Rose's signal.
A human boy dressed in a bright red outfit and dark shades materialized in front of her. "cmon, we got places to be." Vriska stepped near him.
A quick scratch of the timetables, and both of them vanished.
Man I lead up to this Valentines Day mutual suicide superspectacular and didn't even have the balls to fully commit to it
More like assisted mutual suicide
Okay, that's kind of a cop-out. I did originally have Karkat going through with it himself, but I don't know, it just didn't seem like it was enough.
As much as I was leading up to this moment, I still don't really feel satisfied with it, but if experience has taught me anything it's that hating my own writing is par for the course. But at least it wasn't shoehorned in like Karkat's confrontation with vampire Kanaya in the last chapter.
Also I think I wrote Vriska really out of character there but I can't think of another exchange that works
Things do stop being horribly depressing eventually, I swear!
Chapter 10: Mission Start
In which preparations are complete and the mission begins.
-- tentacleTherapist [TT] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] --
TT: It's go time.
-- tentacleTerapist [TT] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG] --
As the God Tier trio flew through paradox space toward the horrorterrors' dreamscape to play the part of rescuers in thier mission, Aradia realized she needed to address her issues with the only other surviving troll in the universe.
"Wh8t do you want, Megido?"
"i w0uld ask you a questi0n. if y0u arent c0mfortable answering, thats 0kay."
"...Wh8t did you want to know?"
"h0w can y0u stand t0 w0rk with me, kn0wing what i did?"
"...It's nothing. In fact, I'm glaaaaaaaad you did it. If you hadn't, I'd probably be tangle 8uddies with the horrorterrors right now, instead of 8eing a hero."
"but y0u d0nt feel like a her0 right n0w, d0 y0u?"
"'Course I do! I'm one of the three sent to rescue our dead friends from whatever these overgrown squids had in store for us! Why wouldn't I feel like a hero?"
"because i kn0w what y0u did to tavr0s. and m0re imp0rtantly, i kn0w y0u hate y0urself f0r it."
Vriska gasped. So Aradia really had been snooping around in the dream bubbles, then. Pupa had probably told her himself!
"y0ur self-l0athing ab0ut it has been apparent since i first reestablished c0ntact. but im rambling."
Aradia looked away for a brief moment, sighed, and continued.
"i am truly s0rry f0r what i did t0 y0u, vriska. y0u may have killed my 0riginal self but things eventually w0rked 0ut f0r me. the cycle 0f revenge sh0uld have ended, yet i gave in t0 mindless fury when we sh0uld have been w0rking t0gether t0 0vercome sgrub."
"Yeah, well... like I said. If you hadn't, I'd never 8e in the God Tiers."
"vriska!!! st0p this at 0nce!" Aradia began shouting at her. "y0u are m0st definitely n0t 0kay with this! what i did was h0rrible. y0u cant p0ssibly f0rgive me s0 easily, n0t the vriska i kn0w!"
Vriska closed her eyes and sighed to herself before answering. "Listen, Megido. I'm going to 8e 100% honest here, so you'd better listen *8ut good*. Yeah, you threw me 8round like a fucking ragdoll. Yeah, dying SUCKED. HARD. 8ut I hijacked your 8oyfriend's mind and 8lew the hell out of you, your hive AND your lusus, and th8t's not even counting the endless list of things I did to other people!"
Was... was her voice breaking? She couldn't let anyone see that! Clearly these feelings of regret were John's fault, damn his human emotions, and she was soooooooo going to chew him out for it later. But the words just wouldn't stop coming!
"So don't come crying to ME a8out what YOU did was unaccepta8le, 8ecause after all the kids I fed to my lusus? The way I manipul8ted Sollux to kill you? How I 8linded Terezi? Paralyzed Tavros and ran him through with his own lance before throwing him into the a8yss?!?!?!?! That no-holds-8arred 8eatdown you delivered to me on LOMAT..."
She jabbed her finger hard into Aradia's chest for emphasis as she struggled with every fiber of her being against the tears beginning to form in her eyes. "I fucking DESERVED it!!!!!!!!"
To say Aradia was shocked by the revelation that Vriska was even capable of remorse would be a gross understatement.
She extended a hand to Vriska. "if that is h0w y0u feel, lets make things right. t0gether."
"...okay." Vriska gripped Aradia's hand in a strong handshake.
Dave laughed to himself, making sure neither of them could hear it. Crazy broads and their horseshit.
"oh nooooooo," Jade remarked for the hundredth time, as the preview function of the ectobiology lab predicted another compatibility failure. Things were not going well, to say the least. In order to bring the trolls here, their dreambubble selves would need new physical bodies to reside in. However, all attempts to make them via ectobiology had been a resounding failure. They were thankful for the kit's preview screen, as it meant they didn't have to watch endless test subjects fail to adapt to the environment and die in front of them. But if it was to be believed, no recombination of the trolls' genetics would allow them to survive in the kids' session.
"i think we've tried just about everything, jade, and nothing's working. looks like we're going to have to go with plan b."
"plan b? you mean--"
"yep. we're going to have to start over on genetic combining, and I don't know if they'll be happy with the results, but at least that'll produce host bodies guaranteed to be capable of surviving here."
"okay!!! let's get started then!"
-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] --
TG: okay rose the troll ladies and i are at the threshold to the outer rim
TG: well be breaching shortly
TG: dodging the things that should not be
TG: tearing through dreambubbles looking for these guys
TG: i gotta say
TG: this is probably the worst first date ive ever been on
TG: im starting to think therell be no sloppy interspecies makeouts at all
TT: Good to know you're treating this mission with the importance I expected from you.
TG: man you dont even know
TG: we got this shit locked up
TG: shit is in the safe deposit box
TG: all fucking snug and secure
TG: were talking blastproof doors and ten feet of solid concrete
TG: secret entrances and armed guards
TG: a password only two people in the world know and they each only know half of it
TT: How I wish I had your confidence.
TT: I'll start my part immediately, then. Best of luck, Strider.
TG: same to you lalonde
TG: say hi to fluthulu for me
-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] --
Rose captchalogued her hubtopband and prepared for what, as far as she was concerned, would be her final communion with the horrorterrors. It was a hell of a bridge to burn, but burn it must, if the plan were to have any hope of success.
Eridan and Sollux drifted aimlessly through the dreamscape. The horrorterrors, for whatever reason, had seemingly given up on them, though they were certain it was only a matter of time until the attacks resumed.
Eridan squinted into the distance. Something was moving out there. Two... no, three somethings, to be exact.
"sol. you seein wwhat im seein here?"
Unsure of what they could be, Eridan and Sollux decided to follow them. After all, if more of the group had managed to break out of their prisons, their best chances of evading the old ones would be sticking together.
I posted a slightly revised version of chapter 9 along with this chapter.
Chapter 9 isn't that revised and I'm still not 100% happy with it, but I'm starting to suspect it's because chapter 8 was the textbook definition of "phoned in." Seriously I ought to go back and rewrite an encounter with vampire Kanaya that makes some goddamn sense and isn't contrived as all hell
It's a little better. Not quite as groanworthy in my eyes, still not perfect, but I think it'll do.
Chapter 10, though? I... I actually enjoyed this. I took Vriska's pangs of regret shown earlier in canon and just fucking ran with it, and now she and Aradia stand a good chance of becoming friends after the ordeal is over. I would worry that the exchange between them isn't quite in character but I'm so happy with the way it turned out that I don't fucking care.
Also: Eridan is a good guy now?! What the hell?! We'll see what the Prince's deal is soon enough, I promise
Chapter 11: Meeting
In which Eridan's motivations are revealed.
I'm still worried this fic is absolute garbage.
But I'm gonna see it through to the end, damnit.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The group of three Eridan and Sollux had been tailing were no bubble dreamers; that much became clear when one of them managed to break through one of the dream bubbles. They didn't seem malevolent, though. They almost acted as though they were searching the dream bubbles, one by one.
The two moved in to get a closer look. Eridan could make out what seemed to be trollish features on the one in orange and one of the ones in red, though he couldn't determine much else at that distance.
Eridan facepalmed when he saw Sollux slowly come out of hiding. "hey! wwhat gives?! yer gonna bloww our covver, get back here!"
But Sollux had noticed something Eridan had missed. The troll in red looked familiar, and now he knew why. He'd know those horns anywhere, it *had* to be her.
"wwhat the glub? wwhats she doin out here?"
Dave spun around first, Caladscratch in hand. Vriska shot the escapees a confused look. Aradia, however, had a huge grin on her face. "s0llux! and eridan, t00!"
Eridan? That piece of shit was here?! Dave's face broke into an uncharacteristic scowl. He know nothing of Eridan, other than what Karkat had told him about flipping his shit and murdering folks left and right. Almost instantly, Dave had made his way to Eridan and held his blade to his throat.
"so. youre that hipster shithead who blew holes through two of his friends."
"heh. i wwouldnta guessed you already kneww bout that."
"ive got enough of the picture to know you sold out to noir faster than most of the bands i used to like. the last thing we need is some murderous tool ratting us out to the horrorterrors. give me one goddamn reason why i shouldnt kill you where you float."
"because i cant die, for one. dyin is something wwe bubble dreamers aint capable of, not physically anywway."
Dave put away Caladscratch but still restrained the Prince. "fair enough. start talking. the hell are you doing outside your dreambubble?"
Eridan sighed and began to tell his story.
For a long time after he blacked out in a pool of his own purple blood on the cold metal floor, Eridan felt nothing. Saw nothing. Heard nothing. Thought nothing.
Suddenly, he found himself back in the Land of Wrath and Angels, clutching Ahab's Crosshairs, ducking behind a rock for cover and muttering to himself.
"fuckin angels. wwhy they got to be like this."
He peered out of cover long enough to assess the situation. Only one angel stood between him and his rocky barrier, but the call had gone out, and more would be here soon.
Not soon enough to save this lone scout.
Eridan lined up the sights of his legendary rifle, took aim, and squeezed the trigger. The weapon had a hell of a kick on the full autofire setting, but he managed to endure and keep the enemy in his sights long enough to bring it down. He searched the corpse and found nothing, yet again.
"damnit! dont any of you feathery assholes carry any grist?!"
Almost in response, a squad of five angels descended on him. Eridan readied Ahab's Crosshairs, but as he looked down the scope, something wasn't right. The angels had preferred a direct assault, moving in close and then attacking in melee. But this was different; now they seemed to control lightning, and as electric bolts rained down on him from above, he only had time to wonder why the object one of them clutched looked so vaguely familiar for an instant before one of the beams impaled him through the chest. Eridan was dead before he hit the ground.
"fuckin angels. wwhy they got to be like this."
He peered out of cover long enough to assess the situation. Only one angel stood between him and his rocky barrier, but the call had gone out, and more would be here soon.
Not soon enough to save this lone scout.
Eridan lined up the sights of his legendary rifle, took aim, and squeezed the trigger. The weapon had a hell of a kick on the full autofire setting, but he managed to endure and keep the enemy in his sights long enough to bring it down. He searched the corpse and found nothing, yet again.
"damnit! dont any of you feathery assholes carry any grist?!"
Almost in response, a squad of five angels descended on him. Eridan readied Ahab's Crosshairs, but as he looked down the scope, something wasn't right. The angels had preferred a direct assault, moving in close and then attacking in melee. But this was different; now they seemed to control lightning, and as electric bolts rained down on him from above, he instinctively dodged left, a bolt narrowly missing him, only to be cut down by another to his right.
"damnit! dont any of you feathery assholes carry any grist?!"
Almost in response, a squad of five angels descended on him. Eridan readied Ahab's Crosshairs, but as he looked down the scope, something wasn't right. The angels had preferred a direct assault, moving in close and then attacking in melee. But this was different; now they seemed to control lightning, and as electric bolts rained down on him from above, he instinctively dodged left, a bolt narrowly missing him, only to be cut down by another.
Dodge right, roll forward, aim at 2 o'clock, supressing fire--- ZAP.
Dodge right, roll forward, fire at 2 o'clock at the creature's attacking hand, back to cover. Explosion takes out two of them. Throw a loose rock as a distraction, peer out, supressive fire on the lead angel. OHSHI--- DEAD.
Dodge right, roll forward, aim at 2 o'clock at the creature's attacking hand, back to cover. Two down. Distraction, peer out, supressing fire, duck the bolt. They're closing in and surrounding him. Fire at the first one to turn the corner--- BLAST from behind. Dead.
And so went many other iterations.
Dodge right, roll forward, aim at 2 o'clock at the creature's attacking hand, back to cover. Two down. Distraction, peer out, supressing fire, duck the bolt. They're closing in and surrounding him. One's coming up behind so--- HOW DO I KNOW THAT? Rifle butt to the first's kneecap, roll backward, friendly fire takes out a third. HARD dive left, friendly fire takes out yet another.
From here, it's just a matter of keeping his sights on the last remaining attacker long enough to overcome it.
Five dead angels surrounded Eridan. Somehow he had known what to do, the exact motions necessary, in order to escape this confrontation alive. He searched the body of the closest corpse and discovered it held something.
A wand? Was that what it shot lightning with? But magic is some fakey fake bullshit.
Eridan gripped the wand, and it glowed with some sort of strange power. A blind white luminescence radiated from it for an instant as the world around him shattered like glass.
Suddenly, he understood everything.
"an thats how i managed to escape from my bubble. i found sol here before they could even put him in one, lucky bastard. boy wwas he pissed wwhen he found out i wwent and rescued him before the horrorterrors could have their wway wwith him!"
"ii thiink ii kept my p2iionic2 on you for a 2oliid fiive minute2, heh heh."
"yeah thats howw i figured out wwe cant be killed."
Dave released Eridan from the hold. "alright but that doesnt explain what youre doing out here."
"sol and i have been fightin these freaks for a wwhile noww. wwe even found most of us, you just gotta listen fer the vvoices. but wwe cant break through their bubbles and savve em, wwe just aint got that kinda powwer."
He continued, with a hint of fear in his voice. "some fucked up shit, this afterlife is. these squiddly bastards fuckin FEED offa fear like some kinda drug, and thats wwhat the bubbles wwere designed to do. and..." He looked away. "its all my fault. i fuckin sold us up the river an jack must havve come and just killed evveryone. theyre all sufferin forevver and its cause of me."
Anger began to replace fear. "an you knoww wwhat the wworst part is? fef trusted these, these THINGS. her lusus wwas one, ya knoww. yeah shes fine, the h-tees are takin real good care of her, but theyre fuckin LYIN to her, makin her think her friends are safe and sound, but they aint. she thinks theyre all in one big happy dreambubble where the fun never ends but theyre all fakey fakes, their actual selves are bein tortured same as i wwas."
He looked away, shamed. "an its all my fault."
Aradia was the first to speak to him. "listen eridan, what y0u did was reprehensible. i w0nt pretend it wasnt. but y0u are h0nestly trying t0 make up f0r y0ur mistake."
She reached for his hand. "I d0nt kn0w if the 0thers will be able to f0rgive y0u, but we have a plan t0 rescue them, and y0u. y0u said y0u know where their bubbles are? then lead us t0 them."
Aradia looked him dead in the eye. "i cann0t tell y0u y0ur acti0ns were excusable, because they were n0t. n0thing will change the fact that y0u attempted to j0in jack n0ir. but i can say that if 0ur plan w0rks, y0ur aid here will g0 a l0ng way t0ward y0ur redempti0n. and if it lets y0u rest any easier, y0u sh0uld kn0w y0ur defecti0n did n0t result in any0ne's death."
Eridan nodded at her. "okay, ill do it. the closest one is thatawway, followw me!"
The five of them had progressed a little further before Aradia had realized he was still...
"eridan? let g0 0f my hand."
"yeah okay sorry"
Oh hey there wall of exposition, how are ya
Actually I don't hate this chapter. It's not as good as the last one I think, but it's still okay.
The inspiration for the dream bubbles actually being hellscapes that make you constantly relive fear came from a series of gifs that make the rounds in the Homestuck threads on /co/ and maybe they're been posted here (or even originated here, who knows) but I haven't been around long enough to see them here. Does "the squiddle gifs" mean anything to you? Because if so, you know exactly what I'm talking about
Also: the lack of fish puns on Eridan's part is because I am by no means a pun master. I didn't see any obvious opportunities for them because I'm blind to this sort of thing, even though I'm sure there are like a million times I could have done it
Chapter 12: Rescue
In which dead comrades are rescued from their own personal hells.
Tavros carefully placed Vriska's barely-alive body onto his rocketchair and blasted off toward the location she broadcasted into his mind. Aradia had given her a solid thrashing, to say the least, but Tavros knew if he just listened to Vriska and got her there on time, everything would be all right, because that's what happens when the hero does things just right.
He flew into the cavern's entrance and found the shelf of rock marked with the sun's iconography almost immediately. He gently picked up Vriska's prone form and placed her face-up directly on the symbol, as she had instructed. This is the part where things got better, right? She was still breathing so they had gotten here in time. He wasn't sure why she had him bring her here but he chalked it up to her knowing more about this than he did.
KILL ME. The thought screamed and echoed through his head in what was clearly her voice but he couldn't possibly believe this was what she wanted.
His hand moved of its own accord. Dipped two fingers in the blue blood that continued to leak from Vriska's weakening body. Spelled out a message in cerulean on the stone floor. K8LL ME.
Every muscle in his arm screamed in protest but he could not resist as the message repeated.
I WON'T M8KE YOU DO IT. PLE8SE. K8LL ME.
He pulled his lance from his specibus. Could he really do this? He hesitated and moved away from Vriska's body until his arm was hijacked again.
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO YO8 COW8RD K8LL M8 K8LL M8 K8LL M8 K8LL M8 K8LL M8 K8LL M8
Tavros dropped his lance and started crying. He couldn't do this! Vriska paralyzed him, yes, and she made fun of him for it every chance she got, but they were finally starting to become friends, real friends! She had even kissed him earlier! He couldn't do this to her!
But, as strong as she wanted him to be... Tavros found himself unable to kill his friend. He turned and made for the entrance, sobbing wildly.
His heart nearly skipped a beat when he realized who was standing in the entrance of the cave.
"Taaaaaaaavros! Looks like you're in a 8it of a sticky situation!"
But... it couldn't be. He looked back, and Vriska remained sprawled on the rock, bleeding out. Yet, he looked forward, and Vriska stood, talking to him.
She walked toward him. "No, you're not seeing things. That's me 8ack there, 8leeding to death. 8ut I'm also here in front of you."
"uHH,,, HOW? hOW IS THIS HAPPENING,"
"Listen, kid. I can't tell you what to do, 8ecause at some point, you gotta 8e a8le to do this kind of thing on your own. 8ut I will say that this 8n't the last you'll see of me, even if you go through with it."
She picked Tavros's lance off the floor and the memory of what she had done the last time she held it came back to her. But this was no time for that. "So wh8t's it gonna 8e, Pupa? Advance or a8scond?"
"wHAT, DO YOU MEAN? iS KILLING YOU A THING THAT I UM, HAVE TO DO, TO HELP YOU?"
She smiled. "Noooooooow you're finally understanding!" And now she understood as well. She paused slightly. "Heh, I could have explained that 8etter, huh?"
She offered the lance to him. "Advance, or a8scond?"
He only hesitated an instant before taking it. "gUESS i'LL ADVANCE,"
Tavros hovered over the dying Vriska's body. His arm scribbled out "Th8nks, Pupa." on the cavern floor. He closed his eyes, raised the lance high, and right before plunging the tip into her chest, he breathed, "i'M SORRY,"
A splash of blue, and the world shattered like glass around him.
He looked around, bewildered. The rocketchair was gone, but... he could move his legs again? But it didn't matter, because he floated in space. He turned around and saw the other Vriska, the one who had given him real confidence for the first time.
And suddenly, the memories came rushing back. He had died and been reliving Vriska's death on LOMAT, more times than he could or wanted to remember. And she was responsible.
"yOU, KILLED ME,"
"So you do remem8er, then." Her expression dropped into a frown and she looked down, burdened with the memory.
"tHERE ARE UH, A LOT OF THINGS i REMEMBER,"
What could she say to that? Not that long ago, she would have laughed at him, but now she froze. John had gotten to her more than she expected. Instead, she decided to tell him what was happening.
"The humans hatched up a plan to get us aaaaaaaall to their session. N8turally, it failed. They went 8ack to the drawing 8oard, and they came up with something they think will work now.
She palmed the crystal ball Dave had handed her. "Everyone's deeeeeeeead, Tavros. Everyone 8ut the humans, Aradia, and me. 8ut we came to rescue everyone from this place, 8ecause we discovered that the afterlife kiiiiiiiinda 8ites, and no8ody deserves that, not even you!"
A little of the old Vriska was resurfacing. She decided to put a stop to it.
"...especially not you."
She smiled and held out the ball toward Tavros. "Rose made these things. Since you proooooooobably can't travel outside the dreamscape, we'll have to carry you in this. Then the humans will handle the rest."
"iS THAT, UM,---"
"Hahahahahahahaha yeah, it kind of IS like those things from that stupid game you play! Thanks soooooooo much, Tavros. I will never 8e able to unsee it! DXXXX"wELL, EVEN THOUGH YOU KILLED ME, AND i'M STILL KIND OF SCARED OF YOU, AND i'M NOT SURE YOUR PLAN WILL WORK,,,"
"i THINK, i AM GOING TO USE THE LITTLE BIT OF REAL CONFIDENCE i HAVE, RIGHT NOW, AND TRUST YOU,"
It was more than she deserved. But it had gone a lot smoother than she'd anticipated. Vriska had forgotten, she reckoned, that Tavros was basically incapable of hate.
He touched the clear crystal sphere and vanished. A brown light burned from within it.
Aradia paused for a moment as she searched through the halls of the meteor complex. Eridan swore he was here, but could he have been mistaken? Some of these dream bubbles were empty, after all.
An unmistakable howl coming from the end of the corridor put all doubt out of her mind. She rounded the corner and saw robot parts, everywhere. But these weren't Equius's usual droids.
"Why, Aradia? Cease this f001ishness at once!"
Around him were many scrapped Aradiabots, but hundreds more still stood. "y0u were n0t str0ng en0ugh to save her," they remarked in unison.
"I c00ld not raise my hand against the highb100d."
"and s0 y0ur m0irail paid f0r y0ur mistake with her life."
"No! Gamzee is the one responsible!"
"y0u c0uld have st0pped him. had y0u d0ne s0, nepeta w0uld still be alive. but far be it fr0m a l0wly bluebl00d t0 rise ab0ve his stati0n f0r the g00d 0f an0ther."
"Stop this at once!"
"y0u prize y0ur strength t0 the p0int that y0u define y0urself by it. but it is s0und and fury, signifying n0thing. y0u were n0t str0ng en0ugh t0 defeat the subjugglat0r. y0u were n0t str0ng en0ugh to rescue y0ur bel0ved nepeta."
Every standing Aradiabot began to advance on Equius. "and now, y0u are n0t str0ng en0ugh t0 live."
"that's n0t true! i believe in equius!" Every Aradiabot turned to meet the face of their flesh-and-blood counterpart as Equius himself stood in shock. Unlike most other bubble dreamers, he was painfully aware from the beginning how many times this scene had repeated itself. This had never happened, in any iteration. What new torment did the horrorterrors have in store for him?
A wave of her hand, and every robot was trapped, frozen in time. "equius. perhaps y0u did hesitate in y0ur c0nfr0ntati0n with gamzee. but i d0nt see that as weakness!"
"Lies. My reluctance to strike was based solely on b100d color, and it is time I admitted my weakness."
"that may have had s0mething t0 d0 with it but i think there was an0ther reas0n! gamzee has been y0ur c0mrade since we began sgrub. i think, perhaps, y0u f0und y0urself unable to raise y0ur fist against 0ne y0u c0nsidered an ally."
"Perhaps. But it is still too late. Nepeta is dead, by the hands of the highb100d."
Aradia giggled. "d0 y0u think thats really a pr0blem? maid 0f time, remember?"
Equius found himself kneeling before the Bard of Rage again. Nothing seemed to move.
Behind Gamzee stood Aradia. A sutble flick of her wrist, and the world unfroze in time. Gamzee approached Equius, broken bow in hand, as had happened countless times before. Aradia nodded at Equius and smiled at him, as if to say "y0u can d0 it!" Before Gamzee could wrap the bowstring around Equius's throat, this time, he sprang into action.
STRONG HEADBUTT! The force of Equius's skull crashing into his ribcage knocked the wind out of the bard. STRONG KICK! The force of the sweep caused Gamzee to spin in the air briefly before crashing to the ground on his back. Equius knelt over the downed subjugglator. STRONG STAB! Equius pulled the arrow from his leg and drove it through Gamzee's chest. He cocked back his fist... STRONG PUNCH! Indigo coated the crater where Gamzee's head had been.
A triumphant cry sounded from somewhere above him. A series of crashes, then the grate covering the air vent clattered to the ground as a very excited Nepeta sprang forth.
"*'you did it! you really did it!!!' the excited kitty exclaims!*"
"I must admit I had some assistance." Equius gestured toward Aradia.
As she approached the moirails, the world around them shattered like glass.
"i am certain equius already kn0ws, but this was a dream bubble, meant t0 h0ld y0u pris0ner t0 y0ur negative em0ti0ns. we have br0ken the cycle that sustains it, and thus destr0yed it."
"*the furrocious hunter cat wonders if this means she and her meowrail are already dead*"
"sadly, yes. b0th y0u and equius were slain. but a plan is underway to und0 y0ur 0wn deaths, al0ng with that 0f 0ur friends."
Aradia retrieved a pair of crystal balls from her inventory. "the humans created these as a means 0f escape fr0m this awful place. will y0u c0me with me?"
"*the kitty cat agrees to abscond with her furriend aradia and her meowrail equius!*"
"I too shall make my escape."
The two of them touched the crystal spheres, filling them with their essence. From one, a blue light glowed; from the other, a green flame burned from within.
Terezi stumbled blindly down the corridors of the astroid facility. She was vaguely aware that once, she had a sort of second sight, but it had long since left her, and now she had to try to navigate by touch and sound. She made her way deeper into the complex, for reasons she could not remember. All she knew was that Karkat had panicked and told her to get as far away as possible. She passed through another doorway, this time the space opening up beyond the confines of the hallways. There was no other route; she could not avoid traversing the open laboratory space.
A voice to her right startled her. "how you doing, my motherfuckin' sister? MUST BE HARD GETTING AROUND ALL BY YOUR MOTHERFUCKIN' SELF."
Another to her left, sounding identical to the first, yet somehow different. "AwW, cOmE On mAn, ThAt's tErEzI. dOn'T FuCkInG HuRt hEr! I DoN'T WaNt tO MoThErFuCkIn' HuRt aNyOnE ElSe!"
"G4MZ33? WH4T'S WRONG?"
"SHUT UP, BITCH! this doesn't concern you. YET. but i've about had it with this rusty-panned motherfucker."
The sounds of a struggle filled the air briefly, then began to slow before stopping entirely.
"GAMZ33, WH4T'S GO1NG ON? 4R3 YOU OK4Y?"
"hes got this shit on lockdown but youve gotta abscond the fuck outta here unless you want to end up as clown chow."
"W41T... WHO 4R3 YOU?"
"ill explain later, come on!"
The stranger grabbed Terezi's arm and led her out of lab where, presumably, Gamzee was fighting with himself. They made their way to a side storage area, where he barred the doorway.
"alright, now that the area is secure for now, you mind telling me what the fuck youre doing stumbling around?"
"1M BL1ND, 4SSHOL3."
"no youre n--- oh man, those gibbering jackasses thought of everything when they made these damn things, didnt they?"
"WH4T 4R3 YOU T4LK1NG 4BOUT? WHO 4R3 YOU 4ND WH4TS GO1NG ON?"
"try to remember, terezi. how--"
"HOW DO YOU KNOW MY N4M3?"
"because im a friend of yours. try to remember."
"JUST T3LL M3 WHO YOU 4R3!"
"i cant do that, you have to remember on your own, or theyll notice and we have to start from the beginning."
"TH4T M4K3S 3V3N L3SS S3NS3!"
"its got to be this way, terezi. i cant just straight up tell you who i am, ive gotta be INTODUCING myself as THE NEW FRIEND---"
"G3ROMY! ...W41T, WHY DO 1 KNOW TH4T?!"
"remember, terezi! what's that from?"
"4... 4 COM1C--"
"and the guy who made it?"
"...D4V3 FUCK1NG STR1D3R!"
"and WHY did you like me?"
"B3C4US3 R3D T3XT 1S TH3 T4ST13ST!" And it came flooding back to her, the world exploding in a rainbow of smells and flavors. She laughed and threw her arms around him. "GOG *D4MN* 1T 1S SO GOOD TO F1N4LLY M33T YOU!"
Dave was uncharacteristically flustered by the sudden display of emotion, but only for an instant before he remembered his cool and returned the embrace. "damn. i could get used to this," he thought to himself.
But he had a mission to complete. "if that didnt trigger a collapse then youre not the only one here."
"TH3R3 YOU GO 4G41N, B31NG SO MYST3R1OUSLY V4GU3. WH4T 4R3 YOU 3V3N DO1NG H3R3, 4NYW4Y?"
"itll pretty much explain itself when were done here, but for now ive got a job to do."
Dave and Terezi returned to Gamzee's duel with himself. Terezi sniffed the air; indeed, two Gamzees stood before her, one of whom was splattered with multiple shades of blood. They seemed frozen in place.
"YOU STOPP3D TH3M?"
"well yeah i cant let the homicidal douche beat the rapping clown again, kind of goes against the plan here."
Dave pointed at one of the Gamzees. "sup bro, hows it going?"
The Gamzee without multihued blood smeared on his clothing unfroze and spoke. "Oh, HeY YoUrSeLf, My rEd-cLaD MoThErFuCkEr! JuSt tRyInG To mAkE ThIs dUdE ChIlL ThE FuCk oUt, MaYbE SiT DoWn wItH A FrEsH PiE."
"yeah? hows that been working out?"
"NoT ToO FuCkIn' WeLl, AcTuAlLy. CrAzY MoThErFuCkEr kEePs aTtAcKiNg mY FrIeNdS. sHiT'S MaKiNg mE SaD BeCaUsE I CaN'T StOp hIm."
"why dont you get a nice, long look at him? see if you can find out anything about him?"
"WhAt? OkAy bRo, If YoU sAy sO."
He did as Dave instructed. He stared at his copy for a good thirty seconds before his face widened in surprise.
"HoLy sHiT! tHiS MoThErFuCkEr... He's mE!"
"well congratulations on that revelation sherlock, but what else can you tell about him?"
"...I DoN'T ThInK I LiKe oThEr mE VeRy mUcH. hE KeEpS HuRtInG My fRiEnDs, EvEn tHoUgH I FuCkIn' TeLl hIm nOt tO."
"so then the next part is easy. if you dont like this tool, ditch his ass."
"HoW CaN I Do ThAt, BrO? iF I TaKe hIm dOwN ThEn i'm nO MoThErFuCkIn' BeTtEr tHaN He iS."
"sure you are. its like my bro taught me, its cool to get angry as long as you know how to focus it. theres a hell of a difference between mindless rage and righteous fury. being pissed off about shit going bad is normal, you just gotta use it right."
"RiGhTeOuS FuRy, Eh? NoW ThAt iS An iDeA I CaN GeT BeHiNd, My mOtHeRfUcKeR."
A subtle motion of Dave's arm, and the scene unfolded.
"I NEED A RUSTY-PANNED MOTHERFUCKIN' OTHER SELF LIKE I NEED A HOLE IN MY OWN FUCKIN' THINK PAN. i think these walls would look fuckin' nice with a little indigo on them."
"CaN'T LeT YoU Do tHaT, bRo! I WoN'T LeT YoU MoThErFuCkIn' RuLe mE AnYmOrE."
"OH, REALLY, MOTHERFUCKER? who's gonna stop me? YOU? not fuckin' likely! NOW THAT WOULD BE A MOTHERFUCKING MIRACLE."
One punch. One punch, thrown in a rage against what he had become, was all it took to knock his dark side into the abyss.
"ThEn i gUeSs It's a gOoD ThInG I BeLiEvE In mOtHeRfUcKiN' MiRaClEs."
A flash of light, and the world shattered like glass around them.
"welp, now that ive personally helped you two get over your problems, i suppose that makes us one big fucking family in the worst after-school special ive ever seen."
"HaHaHaHa dAmN, wHaT ThE FuCk jUsT HaPpEnEd?" Suddenly, the memories came flooding back.
"Oh... FuUuUuUuCk. I... i rEaLlY DiD KiLl sOmE BrOs, DiDn't i?" He spun around to face Terezi. "AnD YoU, YoU KiLlEd *Me!*"
He smiled at her. "YoU StOpPeD Me fRoM HuRtInG AnY MoRe oF OuR FrIeNdS! tHaNkS, mY FuCkIn' SiStEr."
"YOUR3 R34LLY OK4Y W1TH TH4T?"
"YoU FuCkIn' DiD WhAt yOu hAd tO dO. cAn't fUcKiN' bLaMe yOu fOr tHaT."
Terezi turned to Dave. "SO, WH3R3 4R3 W3?"
"horrorterror dream bubble, or thats what it used to be. when we broke the cycle just now, that shit broke down like the fucking death star with a photon torpedo jammed in its exhaust pipe."
He removed two crystal spheres from a pouch hanging from his belt. "im getting you two out of here. here, catch."
As Terezi and Gamzee caught the crystal balls, they disappeared. A teal radiance glowed from one; indigo from the other.
Dave reclaimed the crystals as the other members of his group approached. "kar and kans bubble aint too far from this one, its right ovver there."
Karkat parried Kanaya's chainsaw with the inside curve of the Regisickle, the only weapon in his specibus capable of taking the brunt of such a powerful assault without being torn asunder. Sparks flew from where sickle met power tool as Karkat used all of his strength to keep the steel teeth of the saw from ripping into his flesh. Every muscle in his body screamed in protest as he pushed her back yet again, leaving a moment for him to strike.
He couldn't bring himself to take the opening.
"DAMNIT, KANAYA, STOP THIS! AS YOUR LEADER, AS YOUR ALLY, AS YOUR GODDAMNED *FRIEND* I AM ORDERING YOU TO STAND THE FUCK DOWN!"
"Do You Not See What I Am Trying To Do, Karkat?"
Their weapons clashed again, the Regisickle bucking against the chainsaw's motorized blades.
"HOW IS DRAINING EVERYONE FUCKING DRY GOING TO SAVE US?!"
"Because I Finally Understand. My Transformation Into A Rainbow Drinker Has Brought Me The Gift Of Immortality. It Is A Gift I Must Pass On If We Are To Survive As A Race."
Another pushback from Karkat.
"THAT'S BULLSHIT! HAVEN'T YOU NOTICED THAT NOBODY YOU FUCKING DRANK FROM HAS GOTTEN UP YET?"
"It Is Only A Matter Of Time Before They Will Rise Up."
"THAT DOESN'T EXPLAIN WHY YOU'RE TRYING TO FUCKING KILL ME!"
"You Are A Danger To The New Order. The Most Prudent Course Of Action Is To Eliminate The Threat."
"DO YOU EVEN HEAR YOURSELF, KANAYA?! OH MY GOD, YOU'VE FUCKING LOST IT!"
"On The Contrary, I Believe My Plan Is Quite Sound."
Kanaya slung the chainsaw overhead and attempted to bring it down on Karkat, only for steel to meet blackened steel yet again. She was beginning to tire of this.
"Why Do You Resist Me So?"
"OKAY, LET'S PRETEND, FOR ONE SECOND, THAT MY THINK PAN COLLAPSES INTO ITSELF AND I GO ALONG WITH YOUR INSANE PLAN, AND IT WORKS. NOW WE'VE GOT TWELVE BLOODSUCKERS RUNNING AROUND THE STATION, GREAT, WE'RE ALL FUCKING SHAMBLING MOCKERIES OF LIFE BUT AT LEAST WE'RE UP AND ABOUT."
Another pushback, still managing to create distance between the two but this time noticably weaker.
"WE CAN'T EXACTLY DRAIN EACH OTHER, BECAUSE THE BLOOD OF OTHER RAINBOW DRINKERS ISN'T ANY GOOD. SO WHAT THE FUCK DO WE DO THEN?"
"I Have Given The Matter Full Consideration, And Come To The Conclusion That The Ectobiology Lab Would More Than Suffice For Our Purposes."
His jaw dropped into an expression of horror. If this monster seriously suggested that they feed off of wrigglers... she may look and speak like her, but she was truly Kanaya Maryam no longer.
He gripped the scythe tighter as rage boiled within him. Another assault with the chainsaw from above. His sickle met the saw in another power struggle, but the sound of rending metal hinted that the Regisickle could not stand up to another beating. After a short time of tangling with the vicious rotating teeth, the Regisickle shattered in Karkat's hand like the Clawsickle and Homes Smell You Later before it had. He dodged the falling chainsaw, but not before a glancing blow left bright red streaks in his arm.
As he examined his wound in a panic, Kanaya advanced on him. She pulled the saw back to deliver the killing blow.
"I'm Sorry Karkat. Truly I Am. I Wish Things Did Not Have To Be This Way."
But he had one last trick up his sleeve.
"NO. *I'M* SORRY. SORRY I COULDN'T SAVE YOU."
Kanaya dropped her chainsaw and staggered back with the force of the blow. She looked down to examine what had hit her and was greeted with the sight of Karkat's original training sickle lodged in her chest.
She fell over, dead, as the world around them shattered like glass.
Karkat was sort of bewildered by what had just happened until the memories came flooding back. Gamzee and Eridan had gone insane and started killing. He and Sollux managed to stop Eridan while Vriska and Terezi fought and defeated Gamzee. Sollux had died trying to cross over to the humans' session. The humans had come up with a plan to get the surviving trolls over there safely. He had met with, briefly fought, and accidently killed an undead Kanaya. And then he and Terezi died in each other's arms.
"haha wow, we didnt even have to interfere for this jackass to break his own dream bubble."
He turned around to find a group staring back at him... and among them was the Dave human?
"how many times did we watch him, knowing he was so close yet he just stood there and took a damn chainsaw through the chest?"
"At le8st three!"
"thats wwhat i always liked about kar, the guy aint got it in him to be givvin up."
Eridan?! That smug asshole was here?! Karkat immediately dove for him. "YOU SON OF A BITCH! I'LL FUCKING KILL YOU! I *DID* FUCKING KILL YOU, BUT GODDAMNIT I'LL DO IT AGAIN! YOU HEAR ME?! YOU'RE FUCKING DEAD, ASSHOLE!" Aradia and Vriska had to restrain him while Eridan stepped back.
Aradia was the first to speak to him. "eridan has much t0 answer f0r, karkat, and he kn0ws it. but he has als0 been a great help in l0cating the dream bubbles 0f 0ur fallen friends. what he did in life was reprehensible, but his aid here has been invaluable."
"a2 much a2 ii hate two admiit iit kk, 2he2 riight. thii2 douchebag kept me from ever 2eeiing the iin2iide of a horrorterror world, so ii gue22 ii've got two hand iit two hiim for that."
Karkat stared at his friend in disbelief. Sollux was aligning himself with Eridan, even after everything that had happened?
Eridan spoke again. "listen kar, i knoww i fucked up somethin fierce. i aint askin for your forgivveness cause i dont think i deservve it. but at least gimme a chance to fix some of this shit i caused myself."
Kanaya's body stirred behind Karkat. He turned, not believing what he saw.
"What... What Just Happened? Am I Dead Again?"
The memories of what she had become in unlife, and what she had done in the dream bubble, began to return to her. "Oh... Oh My." What kind of monster had she become, and what could she do to ensure it never happened again?
"I Am Finding That I Am Harboring A Certain Level Of Disgust At Myself For What I Had Become Recently."
So... they were trapped in a horrorterror dreambubble. Except not anymore because he'd "broken the cycle"? And Kanaya was there too except she wasn't herself, but now she's better because he... killed her? And now Sollux is working with Eridan, who's a good guy now and working with the God Tier trolls and apparently the humans? Oh yeah, there was that plan of theirs to consider. Karkat's hand slowly went to his forehead, a puzzled expression on his face. Even knowing about the plan beforehand, he suddenly understood jack shit.
"I-I'M SORRY, I DON'T FOLLOW. JUST THINKING ABOUT TRYING TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED IS GIVING ME A HEADACHE."
"I Believe I Am Experiencing a Similar Predicament. At The Very Least, I Am Certain The Urges To Feast On The Blood Of The Living Have At Least Left Me, So I Suppose I Should Be Thankful For That."
"long story short, were here to bust you guys out of horrorterror prison."
"Actually, 8esides Feferi, you two are the last ones we've found. We've already rescued everyone else."
Vriska took two of the crystal orbs from a pouch at her side. "Yeah, we're pretty awesome! Here, gra8 these so we can finish the job and get the hell out of here."
Karkat turned to Kanaya. "ARE YOU GONNA BE OKAY? I DON'T WANT YOU FALLING THE FUCK APART ON ME."
"Yes... Given Enough Time To Think And Sort This All Out, I Believe I Shall Be Fine."
The spirits of the two dead trolls touched the crystal balls and vanished. From one, a jade green light shone. From the other, a bright red flame burned.
"fefs bubble is gonna be tough to crack. theyre constantly patrolling the area because they think of her as the daughter of glybgolyb, so she gets all kinds a special treatment. you cant miss it, just look fer the one theyre swwarmin around."
The group flew toward their final destination and prepared for battle.
Every time I start hating this fic and wondering whether or not I should just drop it and pretend it never existed, someone tells me "hey, this is actually pretty good." I don't know if I believe them, but I think Crossing Over is sort of okay, at least, instead of outright hating it.
Anyway this is chapter 12, and it is the longest chapter yet. It's a hell of a lot longer than I originally planned, and then it ended up being a lot shorter. At first, I wanted all 10 dead trolls in their own dream bubbles. Then I wrote Tavros's part and that ended up being longer than the paragraph I'd originally intended to write. Okay, no big deal, that's the first one I wrote about, gotta establish a backdrop here, there's no way I can write that much about the other trolls.
Oh God I was so wrong
So I just went with multiple trolls inhabiting the same bubble after that. Kind of a lame way of going about it but this chapter drags on long enough as it is.
The last part with Karkat and Kanaya isn't quite what I'd like it to be, but it suffices for my purposes. In this story, the horrorterrors set up the dream bubbles for dead Sburb/Sgrub players and then purposely run them through terrible situations on repeat, because they feed off the negative energy that generates, or something equally contrived. The problem is, the bubbles aren't perfect, and if the loop is broken by the dreamer managing to overcome the situation, the bubble collapses and the dreamer is freed, which is how Eridan broke out of his and Karkat managed to do it without interference from the rescue team. Of course, some of the dreamers (Nepeta, Kanaya, Terezi) aren't the center of the dream bubbles, they're just sort of being used by the horrorterrors, which is (even worse)/(a huge cop-out) (circle one). Only Feferi isn't constantly under siege from the horrorterrors, because her lusus was one of them, and as such they consider her "one of us" or something like that. The loyalty they have to her (and hers to them, as she believes they are not lying to her and she and her friends are indeed having fun in this afterlife instead of being constantly terrified) is going to be an interesting obstacle to overcome in the next chapter, I think.
I still think this chapter was kind of boring, which is a shame because it should have been exciting, but we're getting to the end, which is the idea that inspired this thing in the first place, and it's what I really wanted to write, so it should be decent, at least.
Chapter 13: Feferi
In which Feferi learns of how the horrorterrors have betrayed her.
Rose screwed her face up in concentration as she attempted to further probe the minds of the horrorterrors. For reasons even she could call nothing short of miraculous, they had failed to detect the collapse of four dream bubbles, as well as the release of nine captive souls.
But there would be no way to disguise the kidnapping of their princess. If the destruction of the first four bubbles could be likened to daring covert raids on distant outposts, the assault on Feferi's dream bubble would be akin to storming the capital. As the adopted daughter of Gl'bgolyb, Emissary to Alternia and Speaker of the Vast Glub, Feferi alone was under the personal watch and guard of the horrorterrors, and kept happy by being led to believe that her friends were doing well in the afterlife.
Why would they keep Feferi placated like this, instead of undergoing the same endless turmoil the other dead trolls experienced? Rose couldn't be sure. She just knew the horrorterrors couldn't possibly be up to any good if they were keeping such a close eye on Feferi.
Rose took a deep breath. With the aid of Sollux and Eridan, Vriska, Aradia and Dave had rescued nine of the ten trolls being held prisoner in the dreamscape, and they were quickly approaching Feferi's dream bubble to begin the attack. One horrorterror was no match for a God Tier player, let alone three of them, and Eridan's white science and Sollux's psionics would give them a remarkable edge in combat. Being a member of the God Tiers afforded protection against the sanity-damaging effects of simply beholding them, and bubble dreamers were totally immune to that particular effect by their very nature. But one problem remained: even the five of them working in tandem could not hope to defeat a swarm of hundreds, if not thousands, of the unnatural beasts. And this is where she came in.
The old ones would not like this, to say the least, and breaking communion manually would not be easy, to further understate the situation. But if her comrades were to have any hope of coming out of this alive, an equalizer would need to be put into play, and she had one hell of an ace up her sleeve, ready for deployment.
Finding her had been a lot of trouble, and convincing her of the merit of the plan was no easy feat, either, until Rose had informed her of what was at stake. Her eyes went wide and she broke into a huge grin when Rose had told her the plan was to cheat death itself, and the end result of bringing everyone back to the world of the living sealed the deal.
"I'm ready to establish the link. Are you prepared?"
"yes!!! lets do this!"
"Okay. Concentrate on me and let him surface, and I'll do the rest. This should, as Dave would put it, 'totally blow their minds.'"
Jadesprite closed her eyes and let Bec's personality take the forefront. It was impossible, even fused with him and with the enhanced knowledge capacity of a sprite, to understand Bec's thought patterns. But this was what she and Rose counted on. A smirk played across Rose's face as she established the double psychic feedback loop and began broadcasting it to the minds of every gibbering monstrosity in the outer rim.
The horrorterrors were ancient, existing beyond time and beyond reality. Thus, there were many unfavorable situations for which they had contingency plans.
Being forcibly plugged into the indecipherable mind of a First Guardian, however, was not one of them.
"the fuck ii2 that?" Sollux muttered, almost under his breath.
"s0llux? whats happening?"
"ii dont know, 2omethiing2 not riight... oh... oh fuck..."
"sol? you okay?"
"ii can mo2tly block iit out but... god iit'2 liike the p2ychiic equiivalent of 2omeone 2creamiing iin my goddamn ear."
"It doesn't seem the horrorterrors like it too much either! Looooooook!"
The formerly active guardians swarming around Feferi's dream bubble began to writhe in place. Rather than traversing the perimeter, they were rooted to the spot, stunned by Rose's feedback loop. She hadn't taken into account the fact that Sollux was particularly sensitive to such an assault, however. Dave tapped Sollux's shoulder.
"listen man, we could use you if theres gonna be a big struggle here. ive seen you fight and those wicked eye beams would be all kinds of useful here. but if this shit starts getting to you and you gotta tag out, let me know and youll be in a crystal so fucking safe, shits like fort knox. got it bro?"
"alriight. ii would like two 2ee ff before iit come2 two that, though."
They approached the final dream bubble and were met with little resistance; the psychic interference made for an excellent diversion. The few horrorterrors remaining who could stand to ignore it long enough to defend the bubble were quickly slain by volleys of white lightning, bicolored mind blasts, and rends in time itself. Dave reached the surface of the bubble and cut an opening into it with Caladscratch. All of the group entered quickly, save Eridan.
"listen, uh, davve, wwas it? im not sure if i oughta be goin in here."
"on account of me kinda bein the one responsible for her bein here."
"oh right id forgotten you kind of went jekyll and hyde and killed some people."
Eridan frowned at him. "come on man ivve been a good help durin this operation, havvent i?"
He had to admit, without Eridan, this would have taken forever. He, Aradia and Vriska had searched so many dream bubbles that turned out to be duds before meeting up with him. "okay yeah i guess wed still be fumbling around in empty bubbles if we hadnt run into you. but are you sure you wanna wait out here with these tentacled jackasses? shits like a japanese schoolgirls worst nightmare out here."
"im kinda scared fef wwont go wwith us if she knowws im here. an i dont her to get left behind, if anyone oughta stay here forevver its me. i mean geez im just about the wworst guy evver, no wwonder she didnt wwant nothin to do wwith me--"
Dave stopped him before he could wallow too deeply in self-pity. "okay just stick around here so we can find you, ive got no plans to come back to this place after were done here and ill be damned if i leave anyone behind. see you soon."
Dave entered the opening of the dream bubble and it resealed itself behind him. Eridan drew and charged his wand, just in case.
S͝EÉr̨ Of L̀ig̴hT. w͘H̕y ͡haV͠e Yo͠u̷ dO̷ne ̀thi͝S͞ t̨Hi̷ng.̢
"I assure you, I've no idea what you mean. I am as perlexed as you are."
DO ͜No͝T҉ ͘p̷L͢a̶y͡ ͢c̡Oy̷ Wit͘h͡ Us.
"Whatever it was, it hurt me just as much as it did you."
Y̴O͟Ur ͜Li͜E̶s ̸ar͢E̛ ͢tR̕ans̡Pa̴Rent͘. ̀A͟n̶d y͏ou̢R wO̡r̡d̨s͝ ̢e͠mP̵ty͜.͝
YOUr̸ D͞eCep̨tIóN ͜w̡il͟L bE͜ ̷t͠h̴e End of͞ yƠú.
"No, please, I--- aaaghh!"
FALl ̛I͢ņT̢o et̛ErNi̡ty.̶
"Sollux! I'm SO glad to S-EA you!" Feferi giggled as she gave him a big hug.
"iit's... actually good two see you agaiin two, ff."
Aradia smiled in approval at the couple. Long ago, she thought she and Sollux would become matesprits, and she had to admit to herself that she wondered what could have been had Vriska not taken control of his mind and used his psychic abilities to kill her. But Aradia was actually glad Sollux had been able to move on. She did not want him to be unhappy on her account, and in any case, she had her own relationship with Equius to consider, once the dust had settled.
"I )(eard you )(ad died but we couldn't find you for so long. But I didn't know Vriska and Aradia were )(ere too. And.. is that one of TH-E )(UMANS? I'm sorry you all DI-ED but I'm -----EXCIT---ED to sea you all again, glub!"
"actually ff, only ii'm dead. vrii2ka, aa and dave are 2tiill aliive."
"O)(, t)(ey're DR-EAMING, t)(en, glub? T)(at's reely a bit of a relief!"
"Feferi, we're awake and standing here, right 8y you, in the flesh."
"So you came to visit? T)(at's WOND--ERFUL, glub! It must )(ave been QUIT-----E a trip!"
"actually no, we came to bust you out of here."
"I... w)(at? W)(y would I want to leave? It's so NIC-E )(ere."
"the h0rr0rterr0rs have been lying t0 y0u. this w0rld, and the images 0f y0ur friends, are all fabricati0ns meant t0 f00l y0u int0 c0mplacency."
Feferi stared at Aradia in disbelief. "No... you're lying! T)(ey wouldn't do that to me! I know t)(ey're big and they look fishous but t)(ey aren't bad!"
Dave nodded to Aradia as he scratched one of the timetables and she winded a music box, creating windows into time around the group. "i didnt want to show you because its seriously some fucked up shit. but if arent going to believe us then i guess its gotta be horror theater all up ins."
Feferi watched in stunned silence. On one viewport, Karkat was impaled with Kanaya's chainsaw as she wept over what she had become. On another, Nepeta, enraged with grief over the death of Equius, was struck down by a mad Gamzee, and had just enough time to crawl to her moirail's body before the killing blow came. On still another, Tavros underwent constant psychological terror as his friend tried in vain to move him to an act of mercy.
As the viewpoints disappeared, one after another, Feferi was silent for a few moments before she could speak.
")(ow could t)(ey?" CRACK.
")(OW COULD T)(---------------EY?!" The echo of the bubble collapsing boomed as it shattered like so much glass.
Her culling fork was already in her hand when she spotted a horrorterror nearby. She pointed the weapon it and demanded, "W)(Y?"
PR͝InĆeSs.̡ y̷o̷U̶ hA͠v̛e͢ a͠W̨o͡Ḱen.
"T---ELL M---E rig)(t t)(e glub NOW W)(Y you did t)(is to my FRI-----ENDS!"
Dave listened to Feferi argue with the abomination for a short while before the realization hit him. "fuck guys, weve gotta get the hell out of here."
Vriska shot him a confused look. "Why?"
"whatever was keepiing them from attackiing us has stopped. our cover iis blown now, two."
Whatever conversation Feferi held with the old one was cut short when Sollux fried it with a psionic blast.
"SOLLUX! W)(AT TH---E GLUB!"
"sorry ff, but we've got two get the fuck out of here, iimmediiately."
"Not until you ---EXPLAIN just w)(at's going on )(ere!"
The four of them explained the plan to her. How the attempt of crossing over resulted in Sollux dying due to dimensional incompatibility. How Rose had headed a plan by the humans to bring the trolls into the human session safely. How Vriska and Aradia could survive in the human session thanks to their ascensions, but the plan would require the deaths of the others. How the three of them had found Sollux wandering the dreamscape, and how they had already rescued all the others and would deliver them to their new bodies with the crystal orbs, and how it was now simply a matter of escaping before the horrorterrors could enact their revenge.
"You managed to rescue ----EV---ERYON--E?! ...even -----ERIDAN?"
"yes! we actually f0und him with s0llux sh0rtly after we arrived... wait. where is he?"
Dave slapped his forehead. "oh this is just great. just superb. he didnt follow us into her bubble because he didnt have the stones to face the music. i told him to park his ass right here but i guess he got himself captured. just great, were gonna have a hell of a time finding him."
Almost in response, a blast of white energy rang out from behind an empty dreambubble, not too far from their current location.
"welp. i stand corrected."
His rescuers had not been in Feferi's bubble long when whatever prevented them from attacking had simply ceased. Eridan's gaze shifted from position to position to find many thousands of eyes staring back at him. He readied his wand.
He thought to himself. i aint gotta kill em all, just gotta buy enough time for them to get fef outta her bubble.
The nearest beast attacked first, attempting to spear him with a multitude of bone spikes. Eridan swiftly dodged the assault and blasted it with a white science bolt in retaliation. He flew away to put some distance between himself and his attackers, but as he rounded the curve of the dreambubble he was met with another group of old ones. Dealing with this surprise was not difficult, but it ate precious time needed to make his escape.
He narrowly dodged a group of tentacles in another attempt to ensnare him, only to take a direct hit from another. The wand fired lightning in all directions as Eridan attempted to destroy whatever was binding him, but found no target.
YǪU͡ w͡I̧lL ̀p̢a͢y̕ ̕F́oR yo͟u͞R͞ iN͢solEn͟c͜e̵,̵ ̷re͏B̧e͞L͡.̢
"you overgrowwn cuttlefish dont fuckin scare me!" He had never lied so hard or so obviously in his life. "do your wworst, i cant fuckin die, remember?"
T̛H̷ÈŕȨ ͝aR̀e f̶a͘TeS w̨o̧rS̷e̢ ̵T͞han͡ ̀Dèa̛th.
"i kicked your dreambubbles ass once before, ill fuckin do it again!"
W͜E͠ Wi̷L͞l̷ ͠No͞t mA҉k͘Ę the SaMe̶ miSt̕ąk͘e t͡W҉i͠C̸e. fall In̵ţo Et̡Èr̨ni͜T͢y.
It was a thousandfold assault on Eridan's mind. The closest possible analogue would be to say that Eridan, at that moment and in each subsequent second, relived every negative emotion he'd ever had in his life. Feferi's rejection of him, his loneliness in the Land of Wrath and Angels, the sensation of the Regisickle being shoved through his gut, the immense regret he experienced upon finding out what Sgrub's afterlife was like (and the part he played in sending his comrades there), all these and more played and replayed in his mind. If Eridan had known about the Earth superhero Ghost Rider, he might have compared falling into eternity to the Penance Stare, but he'd never heard of Ghost Rider, and even if he had he was far too busy reliving his own personal hell to make the comparison anyway.
Ages seemed to pass as the endless repetition of events played over and over again in his mind.
The first time he heard the noise, he was not convinced he'd heard anything at all.
When he heard it again, a lifetime later, it caught his attention for only a moment.
The third time he heard it, he strained his ears to hear the sound.
On its fourth repeat, sweeps into the future, he was certain it was meant for him.
Its fifth iteration rang loud and clear, enough to break the grip the horrorterrors held on his mind.
Parry left, dodge back, mind the tentacle. Threefold attack with future selves. Rewind. Dodge the teeth, stab the eye. Pull out the blade, run it along the length of the creature's carapace. Freeze the one about to hit past self, just long enough for him to duck the assault. Join with past and future selves for the triple-team. Rewind. Hand the Snowcone Sword to the future self so he can defend himself long enough to pull his Caladscratch out of one of the beast's heads. Jab out another eye, jump the tentacle, flay it lengthwise to the base and take out several more. Catch the Snowcone Sword, reallocate. Gang up on the creature's last remaining face with the past selves. Rewind. Thrust Caladscratch directly into the left head's brain... fuck, it's stuck in there. Past self gives up his Snowcone Sword; dual wield it and your own to counter the incoming bone spike barrage. Throw the past Snowcone Sword back to its owner. Pull Caladscratch out in a moment of calm during the assault, then step back and admire your fucking handiwork as your past selves team up to land the finishing blow and step back in time to eventually become you.
Taking these jackasses out with a melee weapon takes forever, even WITH god-level time powers.
W͘HY͜ ̛dO ҉yO̸u ̶opPo̡S͝e҉ ̶us,̶ ̢Kn͞I͜g͟ht O͜f͜ t̡íme?
"i dont know, i guess because existing is a pretty rad thing and ive kinda gotten attached to it."
Vriska found out the hard way that abstract concepts such as luck mattered little when it came to dealing with building-sized ancient unspeakable gibbering monsters. Attempting to steal the luck of the old ones proved futile, and the fact that her weapon of choice, the Flourite Octet, was not particularly suited to the environment (because dream space has no solid surfaces for the dice to actually make contact with and roll on) only compounded her frustration at being useless. She was usually the best at combat, the best! But here, her every advantage had been stripped away and made her dead weight to the rest of the team.
What good was the octet against these unnatural beasts if she couldn't use it? She threw the dice away in disgust... and eight Aradias appeared from out of time to catch them.
The results of the roll manifested themselves favorably on the battlefield. [SHEET LIGHTNING]. Three of the horrorterrors were killed instantly, another was badly wounded.
Vriska stared as seven Aradias folded back into time to become their future selves.
"i t0ld y0u, we have t0 w0rk t0gether if we want t0 win this 0ne!"
Out of everyone else in the group, despite not being God Tier, and technically dead, Sollux had the easiest time cutting a path through the monstrosities. The horrorterrors were unable to rob him of his psionics, and his death had finally given him mastery over his powers, subverting the need for mind honey. In short, these factors combined gave him a powerful ranged attack that the beasts simply could not handle.
Unfortunately for Sollux, not all horrorterrors were created equal, as he discovered when the one holding Eridan hostage materialized in front of him. Indeed, a hierarchy existed. By far the most numerous were Lesser Horrorterrors, whose forms and abilities varied wildly, but all of them ranged in size from as small as a bus to as large as a five-story building. Massive as they were to the players, they were no match in a one-on-one fight against those who had ascended to the God Tiers, or against one with such powerful psychic abilities, and Lesser Horrorterrors had been what the group slaughtered en masse even now.
The same could not be said of the Greater Horrorterrors, one of which stared Sollux in the face, holding Eridan. If the Lesser ones were already immense, Greater Horrorterrors were gargantuan; Sollux could see this particular one dwarfed cities.
Feferi sped toward the gigantic beast. "---ERIDAN!"
"NO ON-E G-ETS L-EFT B-E)(IND, SOLLUX! NO ON------------E!"
As Sollux readied himself to join Feferi, the Greater Horrorterror opened one of its seven beaked mouths and issued forth a piercing cry. Immediately Sollux covered his ears in pain. "fuck fuck fuck make iit stop make iit stop MAKE IIT STOP MAKE IIT STOP MAKE IIT STOP"
The psychic scream was heard by all, though none were affected as negatively as Sollux. Dave wheeled around, saw him clutching his temples, palmed a crystal ball, and let it fly toward Sollux. The orb collided with him and he disappeared as the sphere began to shine with a yellow light.
As he reclaimed Sollux's crystal, Dave realized what he had just done, completely without irony, and realized that if John were here, he'd never hear the end of it.
Feferi stood, culling fork in hand, before the Greater Horrorterror. Behind her were Aradia, Vriska and Dave, weapons at the ready. If anyone could negotiate with the Horrorterrors, it would be their princess, but the unmistakable feeling of impending violence lingered in the back of Dave's mind.
After a brief silence, Feferi finally spoke, calling out to the other aquatic troll.
HE C͠aNnN̢ơt̕ ̷hEaR͞ ̛y͟ou,͡ PrI̵nceS̨s.
"R-EL-EAS-E )(IM at ONC---E!"
W̕E͡ A̡r͜E ̵aFr͠a̷iD͝ tHa̶t̨ i̡S iMpo̶s͘Sibl̸e.
Feferi's eyes began to glow white with some kind of power. "----ERIDAN!"
HE ̸W̨a̛S r̡E̵spoNs̕Ibl̶e ̕F̧óR͠ yơuR͝ deat̕h̸. ́W͟hY͡ ͡do͜ ̡ýòu̕ ̴Ca͢r̕e F̕oR̴ ̕h́im.́
")(-E was my FRI--END! ---ERIDAN, WAK-E UP!"
ḨĘ ̶I҉s҉ ̧I̛n̛Sign҉I̵fIca͜nT.͘ rEt͝ur͘N͘ t͢o ͡yo͜u͞R d̕Rea̧m.
The 2x3dent shined with the same light as Feferi's eyes. "I will not! ------ERIDAN!"
A flash of white light, and silence.
"You will not break me. Assault my mind a thousand times, and a thousand times I will resist!"
W̡E͜ H͠aV͝e Al̶l ̡t̵H̀e ͠T͡i҉m͝e ̴Wȩ Req͝u̡Ire.̧ y̡ǫu͟ WiLl ͢s͜ub̡mIt҉.̨
"Your princess has escaped. Your downfall is inevitable, and we will succeed."
PR̴E͝p̸O͞s̀T͘u̢rǫUs҉. E͞ven̢ ̀Sò,҉ ̀It͝ m͢áT͝te͢r̴s̷ lI̸tTle͢.̕
"You know I know better than that. She was the cornerstone of your plans, and now that her bubble has collapsed and she has seen the truth, your plot is falling around you like a house of cards."
BU͢T̸ h́Ow.͠ ́H̡o̴w c͘O̢uL̸d́ ̡yoU͜ h̨Av̕e ̷k̷N̶o͢wn.̛
"I am the Seer of Light. Do you seriously believe I would have continued with the plan if we had no chance of success? Your lies deceived me once. They shall not do so again."
Y͠O͝Ur ̢E̸fF͜ortŞ w҉E͟re v̕Àl͠Iant͢, B̵ut̴ ̶futIĺE̛.̵ s̰̖ͧ͐ͭ̄̋͛͞ͅu͌͛̕bm̬̳̹̟̞i̙̲̭͖̲̺͉̅T̘͉ͅ.̆̓̋ͮ̅
"Oh? I believe I have stalled long enough. My allies were able to rescue the ones you held captive, Feferi Peixes is furious and will no longer remain with you, and now her latent power, the power you GAVE her, I might add, is about to surface."
W̵H͡At͠ ͝A҉rE͞ ͜y͞ou ͠Sa͢Y̢i͜nģ, S̶e̡E̷r̷.
"It's simple. The communion ruse was... a distaction. We HAVE the trolls."
A wave of psychic energy severed the connection and Rose's eyes shot open back on LOLAR. Feferi's fury had awoken just in time, just as planned. Jadesprite looked at her, worried.
"rose!!!! are you okay??? did it work?"
"I think so. Once they managed to open Feferi's eyes to the situation, it was only a matter of time."
"sorry i couldnt keep the link to becs mind open."
"It's fine. Actually, you managed to keep it going far longer than I would have expected for someone with no experience in dealing with the horrorterrors. Now, I've got one last thing which requires your assistance. I believe you're well aware of what it is."
"hehehehehe! with pleasure!"
Rose removed the Thorns of Oglogoth from her strife specibus using the telekinetic powers of the Needlewands. Even so much as touching the dark artifacts could allow the horrorterrors to ensnare her mind again.
"Are you ready?"
A burst of energy from the Needlewands sent the Thorns flying into the distance. Jadesprite pointed at them and fired a bolt of Green Sun energy, disintegrating them instantly.
"It's a significant power-down, but... the temptation would be too great. It's for the best."
"Wh8t the hell just happened????????"
"hell if i know."
"im n0t sure, either."
Once everything stopped glowing white, the group found themselves still in the void of dream space, but the horrorterrors where nowhere to be found.
"I'm... not s)(ore w)(at I just did, eit)(er."
A voice behind them stirred. "fef?"
Feferi turned to face him. "---Eridan? Are you okay?"
"i think so, but... wwhy do you care? you should hate me right noww, evveryone else does."
"Y-ES, you krilled me, -Eridan. But... I t)(ink I forgive you."
"youre... youre pullin one ovver on me, i knoww it."
"BLU)(, let's just get the s)(ell out of )(ere, I'll talk to you about it LAT-ER."
Vriska offered the last two crystal spheres to them. Eridan and Feferi touched the orbs and disappeared, the crystals burning with two distinct shades of purple lights.
Dave was the first to arrive at John and Jade's ectobiology lab.
"sup egbert, hows progress?"
John turned to Dave, wearing those goofy-ass glasses Jade used when she wanted to spy on people.
"hey! good to see you made it back in one piece, time knight. or should i say... pokemon master!"
Some of these things, I planned in advance. Feferi was always going to be special, and there was always a reason why the horrorterrors kept her happy and guarded so well. Rose was always going to have some kind of secret weapon planned to bypass the guards of Feferi's bubble.
I just didn't know it was going to be Jadesprite until I was halfway through typing "and she had one hell of an ace up her sleeve". This is the result of the "wing it" school of writing. Seriously I barely plan anything
This is what I was talking about in an earlier post when I said I had to come up with a typing quirk for the horrorterrors! Well it's more of a speaking quirk, or whatever their equivalent is. My first thought, I admit, was Zalgo text but that would have been expected. My second idea was random alternating caps, but I figured that would be too pedestrian. So instead, their alternating caps follow a pattern (the pattern is that every letter in a prime-numbered spot in their lines is uppercase while everything else is lowercase). In the original post on the fanfiction thread on the MSPA forums, I didn't use Zalgo text because I'm pretty sure it's against the rules, but perhaps a light sprinkling of it here would work well. The prime number thing was probably more effort than my lame fanfiction deserved, and it got old fast and I'm too lazy to go back and make sure I did it right, but there it is.
Feferi's power and the horrorterrors' plan... I do have an outline of what they are, but I doubt this story will explain it. Essentially being raised by a horrorterror gave Feferi a portion of their power, which continued to grow, unknowingly, her entire life and afterward. If it had been allowed to grow unchecked in the dream bubble, it would have eventually consumed her and been reabsorbed by the horrorterrors, and used to enact the first stage of their plan, which would involve stopping the perpetuation of Sgrub/Sburb and would eventually lead to the end of existence. I don't have the clearest ideas of the details but this is the basic outline and I doubt I'll get back into it because the horrorterrors have been foiled, so I figured I'd put up what I had here.
Finally: everything I've written in Crossing Over, up to the end of this chapter, is essentially the "how we got here" for the idea that sparked the thing in the first place. Just one more chapter to go! (two if you count the epilogue)
Chapter 14: Resurrection
In which ectobiology is performed, and death cheated.
This is the final regular chapter. Stick around for the epilogue, though!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
-- apocalypseArisen [AA] began trolling ectoBiologist [EB] --
AA: hell0 j0hn!
EB: oh, hey aradia! where'd you get to?
AA: i am back at the mete0r with vriska in my 0ld sessi0n temp0rarily
AA: i think it w0uld be g00d if we c0uld bring back 0ur friends p0ssesi0ns al0ng with them!
AA: s0 weve been c0mbing the facility l00king f0r their things
EB: that's not a bad idea, but do you have enough room in your sylladexes for all of it?
AA: n0 i d0nt
EB: aww, now i wish you had come back with dave! i could have loaned you my wallet modus, it was my dad's and it can hold pretty much anything!
AA: i already did! well fr0m my perspective anyway
EB: bluh, time shenanigans are so confusing!
EB: hey, wait a minute...
EB: okay you just showed up and handed me the wallet? i guess that was your future self.
EB: hopy shit! you managed to *fill* the wallet. i didn't know that was even possible.
EB: i guess i should eject it and give it back to you.
EB: but i still--- hold on.
EB: damnit aradia there are two of you here now!
EB: okay one of them is past you, i should probably give you the wallet now.
AA: make sure y0u give us the right 0nes! y0u d0nt want to ruin everything and make a d00med timeline just because y0u didnt hand us the right wallets! :)
EB: alright, i gave past you the first wallet and future you the... future wallet?
EB: you guys had a lot of stuff!
EB: ...and now there are three of you here, and vriska too.
AA: well yes theres n0 p0int in arriving later than necessary if y0u have time p0wers after all
EB: i am so confused
AA: you cann0t beat me at time shenanigans, i am simply the best there is :)
AA: see you later, f0r me, which is n0w for y0u!
EB: okay, see you... right now, i guess? i think i need to lie down.
-- apocalypseArisen [AA] ceased trolling ectoBiologist [EB] --
John was thoroughly baffled. His prankster's gambit hadn't been hit this hard since his last exchange with Nannasprite.
The preview screen of the ectobiology lab flickered to life and displayed a wireframe image of Tavros's new body, the tenth and final one to be completed. The wireframe gradually filled in with details, and once the entire body was drawn, a blue circle blinked over it and chimed.
Finally! The paradox slime that would become the ten new bodies for the trolls was ready for activation. Jade and John had been working since before the rescue effort, combining genetic sequences in ways that would allow them to survive on this side, and their labors were finally complete.
Dave placed the crystal balls containing each troll's life energies into the slots underneath their respective slime tanks. There was one last step, and then the ectobiology process could be activated and the operation completed.
"john. aradia. lay me down a funky-ass beat, im about to drop this shit." The timetables materialized at Dave's sides, as did Aradia's music boxes around her. John began levitating and channelling the air around them, playing the wind currents against the walls and lab equipment.
The rush of the winds mingled with Dave's record scratches and bass thumps, combining with the clinky melodies of Aradia's music boxes to create a symphony of time itself. And what good was a concert without a light show? 1, 5, 3, 6, 8, 7, 6, 8. [CROWD PLEASER]. Vriska's pyrotechnics and laser pulses matched the rhythm of the improvised music, firing and glowing in time to the measure as the paradox slime bubbled, affected by the hurried flow of time created by the orchestra.
Of course, artificially aging the paradox slime up to about 13 years was the plan all along. Everyone figured the trolls wanted to be reborn as close to their old forms as possible and not as a bunch of freshly-hatched wrigglers, after all.
"okay!!! throwing the switch now! places everyone!" Jade waited from the signal from John, and pulled the lever to begin the synthesis of the trolls' new bodies.
Karkat's tank was the first to empty. His paradox slime flushed into the main holding tank as the ectobiology machine began reading genetic sequences, crafting bone, building tissue and muscles and organs and knitting flesh... and apparently, weaving clothing.
John grinned in amazement. This game thinks of EVERYTHING.
The screen above the main holding tank blinked to life as the excess slime was flushed out and Karkat's new body transportalized in front of it. ECTOBIOLOGY PROCESS 10% COMPLETE, 1/10 BODIES CREATED, 9/10 BODIES PENDING.
John moved in to check on him. He wasn't conscious yet, but Karkat was breathing, which was a great sign. He sighed in relief. Just by looking at him, John couldn't tell much of a difference between the Karkat he'd seen on the appearifier's screen and the one that laid before him.
Well. Aside from a few *very* obvious changes. John hoped Karkat could forgive him for those.
A few minutes passed before Karkat began to stir. His eyes blinked open as he muttered. "WHERE... WHERE THE FUCK AM I?"
"karkat? are you awake?"
He took stock of the situation. He was in an ectobiology lab, that much was unmistakable. Behind him stood nine tanks full of paradox slime. He turned to meet the voice greeting him, and found the four humans and two God Tier trolls staring right at him.
Jade was the first to break the silence. "karkat? are you okay???"
He stretched his shoulders and shook out his legs. He was still a little unsteady, having technically been born only minutes ago, but overall? "I... I THINK SO."
"yesssssssss!!!!!! we did it john!!!" Jade was ecstatic.
John stepped forward and offered his hand. "its good to finally meet you!"
Karkat laughed, he actually laughed, an incredible burden lifted from his shoulders, as he shook John's hand. "HAHA YOU CRAZY NOOKSUCKERS, YOU ACTUALLY FUCKING DID IT! YOU REALLY CAME THROUGH! YOU HAVE *NO* IDEA WHAT THIS MEANS TO---"
Karkat looked down at his hand and nearly jumped out of his skin.
"karkat?" John's voice sounded concerned.
He lifted his own hand to face-level and stared at it for a few seconds before grabbing John's hand and placing them side-by-side. "hey, what are you doing?"
His flesh was the same color as John's. His eyes grew bewildered as the truth slowly dawned on him.
"...WHAT DID YOU DO."
He stared at the back of his own hand for a second. "WHAT DID YOU DO."
He spun around to check his appearance in the reflective glass of his now-empty paradox slime tube. His eyes were a strange white instead of the familiar yellow. The iris, bright red. "WHAT DID YOU DO?"
His gaze shifted a few degrees upward and he gasped. His horns were smallish and nubby, but they were his, and now they were gone. Both hands shot to grope his own scalp in disbelief, and he found nothing but hair. "WHAT DID YOU DO?!"
John was speechless, until he cried out in surprise as Karkat wheeled around, furious.
"WHAT!" Karkat grabbed John's collar.
"DID!" He growled in John's face.
"YOU!" He pulled back his right arm, his other hand still gripping John's shirt.
"DO?!" A sharp PAP rang through the air as Karkat's fist collided with the side of John's jaw.
Jade shrieked in horror, worried for her brother. John was still falling back from the punch when Dave flash-stepped in an attempt to hold back Karkat. Rose pointed at him with the Needlewands, trying to do the same via telekenesis. Aradia tried to freeze him in time. No attempt had any hope of success against the overboiling rage that fueled Karkat now, and he easily broke their holds.
John opened his eyes and found Karkat standing over him, hissing through his teeth. He winced, bracing for another assault... and opened his eyes to find Karkat extending his hand to him.
"ONE TO THE JAW. JUST LIKE YOU SAID. REMEMBER?"
John stared at him, bewildered and bleeding from the lip, until it finally dawned on him. He took Karkat's hand and was helped off the floor. "hahahaha yeah, i did! you would remember that, you crabby asshole!"
Rose and Jade sighed with relief. Dave just smirked, as Aradia smiled and Vriska laughed. John wrapped Karkat in a big bear hug, despite his protests and attempts to wring himself free. Karkat was alive and not *too* pissed at him, so as far as John was concerned, the mission was an utter success.
When John finally released him, Karkat had a question for him. "DID YOU REALLY HAVE TO BRING ME BACK AS A GODDAMNED HUMAN, THOUGH? I THOUGHT BEING A TROLL WAS PRETTY FUCKING GREAT, AND THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN EASY ENOUGH TO CLONE, EVEN FOR YOU. JUST SEEMS LIKE A LOT OF FUCKING WORK FOR NO GOOD REASON."
Jade answered him. "we tried!!! like a thousand times! but theres just something about trolls that makes them incompatible with our environment. we were never sure exactly WHAT it was, so we had to just try to work around the problem."
"SO YOU WENT STRAIGHT TO TURNING US INTO HUMANS?"
John answered this time. "actually, no. the next thing we tried was to make you all half-human, half-troll, but that wouldn't work, either. we tried making it so you'd be mostly human genetically, but still look like trolls. we even thought about building a bunch of soulbots like aradia had, though that didn't really get far because none of us have ever actually built a robot. making you human wasn't plan b... more like plan i or j."
"i'm sorry buddy, really i am, we just couldn't--"
"--your troll forms, and we had to combine your troll genes with our human ones and--"
"JOHN HUMAN EGBERT!"
John snapped to attention. "what?"
"FOR A BUNCH OF MISERABLE FUCKUPS, YOU GUYS DID AN OKAY JOB, I GUESS."
Karkat held out his fist, and John smiled as he extended his own. Bunp.
"WELL THEN... WHAT ARE YOU BULGELICKERS WAITING FOR?! GET BACK TO WORK!"
"yes sir!!!" Jade pulled the lever, beginning the process a second time.
ECTOBIOLOGY PROCESS 40% COMPLETE, 4/10 BODIES CREATED, 6/10 BODIES PENDING.
DECODING PARADOX SLIME (5/10)...
Karkat, Sollux, Tavros and Kanaya had been reborn into their new human forms, and for the most part, they had taken the transition well. Sollux was somewhat disappointed, but less at becoming a human, and more so at losing most of his psionic powers; the best he could manage now was mild telekenesis. Tavros was actually overjoyed at his transformation, as he had lost his large, cumbersome horns and gained a pair of working, non-robotic legs. Kanaya simply found relief at no longer feeling her more recent vampiritic urges, and seemed to regard her transformation as just something that had to happen, neither good nor bad.
Dave leaned against the wall and glanced over at the ectobiology machine as it began putting together the structure of the newest body and shuddered, almost imperceptively. The way you could see bare organs and muscle tissue locked into place with bone and tendons as the flesh simply seemed to grow over it... seeing this thing work was creepy as hell, like it was built by the maddest of scientists.
When he considered who had alchemized the thing, he decided that assessment wasn't too far off.
BUILDING STRUCTURE (5/10), PROGRESS 100%. EJECTING...
The excess paradox slime flushed away from the main tank to reveal a girl of slender frame and... firey red hair? Dave shot a glance back at John, who just shrugged at him. Of course there would be a few surprises when working with something as complicated as the human genome, but as long as they all came in the form of something like hair color, there was no real problem.
A few moments, and the girl woke. She sniffed at the air. "...WHY DO3S 3V3RYTH1NG SM3LL SO D1FF3R3NT?" The green lime of the tanks behind her, the grey charcoal of the room's walls, the... decidedly NOT grey skin of most of the people standing in front of her?
She slowly opened her eyes, but instead of the usual black void, blurry splotches of color lined her vision. Blurry splotches of color that eventually came into focus.
"...HOLY SH1T. 1 C4N SM3LL *4ND* S33 TH3 COLORS. TH1S 1S 4M4Z1NG!"
Jade beamed with pride; restoring Terezi's eyesight was easy, since humans came standard with that particular feature. Preserving the neural pathways that made her second sight even possible in the first place was not. Jade had correctly guessed it was less of a physical attribute and more of a psychic one, but after hearing Terezi actually preferred seeing the world through taste and smell, she had worked tirelessly to ensure she retained this particular oddity.
Her vision having cleared, Terezi looked down at herself, noticing the change almost immediately. "H3H. SO TH4TS WHY 1 F33L SO D1FF3R3NT." Suddenly, the realization struck her. She scanned the room, he HAD to be here... her eyes lit up and she smiled wide when she caught sight of him against the far wall.
Dave's gaze met Terezi's as he righted himself away from the wall. He allowed himself to crack a slight smile at her, because hey, they had cheated death, and even the coolest kids get to smile about that. He took his hands from his pockets, readying himself for the cheesy show of emotion that was about to take place...
And froze in place, if only for a moment, when Terezi practically dove past him, directly into Karkat's arms.
"NO US3 TRY1NG TO H1DE FROM M3, K4RKL3S. 1TS B33N FOR3V3R BUT 1D R3COGN1Z3 TH4T SCOWL 4NYWH3R3, 3V3N W1THOUT YOUR NUBS!"
"GODDAMNIT, TEREZI, NOT IN FRONT OF EVERYONE!"
"H3H3H3H3." She pecked him on the cheek, in full view of everyone, as he blushed bright red.
"WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU ALL STARING AT? YOU GOT SOMETHING TO SAY, ASSHOLES?!" Everyone else in the room muttered variants of "oh of course not" and went back to doing whatever they were doing before the outburst.
Except Dave. He just slid his hands back into his pockets, leaned against the wall like he had been doing, and sighed. Not really a surprise, it was alright. You win some, you lose some, and the coolkid's gotta be stoic about his losses.
ECTOBIOLOGY PROCESS 80% COMPLETE, 8/10 BODIES CREATED, 8/10 BODIES PENDING.
DECODING PARADOX SLIME (9/10)...
Nepeta, Equius and Feferi joined Karkat, Sollux, Tavros, Kanaya and Terezi in awaiting the final two resurrections. These two were the most anxiously anticipated, and had been saved for last for a reason; they were the only two trolls to go into murderous rampages, back on the asteroid. Karkat was adamantly against bringing them back at all, but the unanimous outcry against him vetoed that idea pretty quickly.
This didn't mean they were going to take risks, though. Dave, Vriska and Aradia stood between the main tank and everyone else as Gamzee began to take form in the paradox slime. Gamzee's calmer personality defeated his dark side in the dream bubble, but there was no sense in taking chances. If any possibility remained that the subjugglator would surface again, they would not hesitate to stop him.
The excess slime drained from the tank and Gamzee's human form ejected from it. All eyes were on him as he began to stir, except Nepeta's, as she whimpered clinging to Equius for dear life.
Gamzee shakily stood up. "Oh hEy gUyS, hOw's iT GoInG?" He half-waved at them and caught a glimpse of his own hand, which he started at for half a minute. "...WhOa."
He looked around the room and saw himself in the reflective surface of an empty slime tube, noticing the lack of horns. He felt around his scalp. "...FuCkIn' WhOa."
Scanning the room again, he saw several people... humans? But he swore he recognized several of them. Finally, it dawned on him. "We... We WeRe aLl dEaD, aNd nOw wE'rE FuCkIn' HuMaNs. MoThEr. FuCkIn'. mIrAcLeS." The God Tier trio sighed in relief; there was absolutely not even the slightest hint of malice in Gamzee's voice. He walked to a corner of the room and sat by himself.
The three of them relaxed a bit. Gamzee certainly had the potential to be dangerous even bare-handed, but without his white science wand, Eridan was helpless.
The formation of the final vessel went off without a hitch. Upon waking, Eridan didn't talk to anyone or try to do much of anything except slowly walk outside, and nobody tried to stop him. He barely even acknowledged his new form.
He only spoke once, as he reached the room's exit, before stepping outside into the Land of Wind and Shade. "kan, fef, sol, everyone... im sorry."
"hey equius! h0ws being a human treating y0u?"
"It is not abso100tely the best thing to ever happen. For one, I am no longer as STRONG as I once was. But I will manage. At least I still have my roboti%."
It was true. Equius still had plenty of strength for a human, but the absurd levels of power he had as a troll had vanished.
"its g00d t0 see y0u again," Aradia said, as she embraced him.
"...I do not understand. I believed your intentions lied with the lowbl--" Equius stopped himself, looking down at the symbol on his shirt to remind himself that all their blood was the same color now.
His formerly dark blue sagittarius was now bright red. Same as the other symbols worn by all those who had recieved new forms. The hemospectrum was a thing of the past now.
He took a breath before continuing. "---with Sollu%."
Aradia motioned to Sollux, who sat beside Feferi, hand in hand, talking with Karkat and Terezi. "times change. pe0ple change. hes with feferi n0w, and im 0kay with that. and if y0ure 0kay with it, id like t0 be with y0u."
"Are you certain? My l00d tampering with your roboti% did not dissuade you?"
"if y0u recall, i was still flushed f0r y0u even after i rem0ved that chip. y0u did d0 the cl0sest thing y0u c0uld t0 bringing me back t0 life, after all!"
A few moments passed, but Equius did not return her embrace. Aradia giggled at him when she realized why. "y0u d0nt have t0 w0rry ab0ut hurting me anym0re, equius! in fact, since im g0d tier n0w, i sh0uld pr0bably w0rry ab0ut hurting *y0u*!"
The facts slowly began to dawn on him. Aradia may have been a maroonblood, but the hemospectrum didn't matter anymore. In fact, being a human meant he was outside of it entirely, and a troll in a romance with a member of another species? Simply unheard of! Not just that, but a dramatic reversal had taken place and she was now stronger than him!
"...oh. Oh my."
"Aradia, my dear?"
"I need SO MANY towels."
Aradia giggled at him. Same old Equius.
"Hey Pupa, got a minute?"
"uM, YEAH, i CAN TALK, ACTUALLY i WAS HOPING i'D RUN INTO YOU, vRISKA,"
A look of confusion swept across Vriska's face? "Oh?"
Tavros scratched the back of his head nervously. "i UH, i WANTED TO MAYBE, APOLOGIZE, FOR WHAT i DID, BECAUSE IT WAS PRETTY BAD, SEE,"
Now she *really* wasn't sure what he meant. "8ut you didn't do anything to me. If anything I should 8e apologizing to YOU!"
"uM, BUT THAT'S JUST IT, i DIDN'T DO ANYTHING AND THAT'S WHAT i SORT OF, SHOULD BE SAYING SORRY FOR,"
He looked at the floor, holding his arm. "nOT ENDING YOUR SUFFERING WAS, UH,,, REALLY BAD, NOW THAT i LOOK BACK AT IT, i SHOULD HAVE KNOWN IT WAS PART OF YOUR PLAN, yOU WERE HURTING SO MUCH AND i COULDN'T BRING MYSELF TO MAKE IT STOP, sO, UM, i'M REALLY SORRY, vRISKA,"
Vriska stared at him. The old Vriska would have laughed at him and maybe made fun of him for his transformation. But that wasn't who she wanted to be anymore.
"No, Tavros, listen. I did so many 8ad things... I gave you hell for what was my fault in the first place, and I killed you when I could have just walked away, and what I asked you to do in that cave... my god, that must have 8een torture for you! Wh8t kind of monster am I????????"
She turned and began walking away. "I'm so sorry, Toraedor."
Tavros grabbed her arm. "vRISKA, WAIT,"
"i DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT CONFIDENCE, bUT UM, i CAN TELL YOU DON'T HAVE MUCH RIGHT NOW, pROBABLY BECAUSE YOU ARE HAVING DOUBTS ABOUT WHAT, UH, KIND OF PERSON YOU WANT TO BE,"
"wELL, YOU WERE, UH, SORT OF MEAN, BEFORE, bUT i THINK YOU DON'T REALLY, UM, WANT TO BE, ANYMORE, BECAUSE YOU HAVE REGRETS ABOUT WHAT YOU'VE DONE, i THINK,"
She smiled sadly at him. "So even you could see it, huh?"
"i THINK YOU NEED SOMEONE TO HELP YOU, iF YOU REALLY WANT TO, UM, BECOME THIS NEW, NICER PERSON THAT YOU SEEM TO WANT TO BE, wHAT YOU NEED IS A GOOD MOIRAIL, i THINK, AND i THINK i WOULD NOT MIND BEING ONE, IF THAT'S WHAT YOU WANT, tHAT IS, UH, IF YOU DON'T MIND BEING MOIRAILS WITH A HUMAN,"
She was speechless. After everything she had done to him, Tavros didn't just not hate her, he even still wanted to be friends. It was more than she felt she deserved.
He offered his hand. "sO, UH, WHAT DO YOU SAY? 'rAILS?"
She hesitated for only a moment before shaking his hand. "'Rails."
She stuck around as people cleared out of the ectobiology lab. Jade was sure Dave would probably be the last to leave, and eventually she was proven right.
"hey dave. you okay?"
"yeah why wouldnt i be?"
He would try to evade this. No point in dancing around it. "because terezi was more excited about seeing karkat than you!"
A lump caught in his throat. No way, she couldn't have noticed.
"dont know what youre talking about, harley."
"dont lie to me strider!!! the others might not have noticed but i see right through you!"
There was no use lying to Jade, she had a knack for figuring this kind of thing out. "...okay yeah sure, you win. DAVE STRIDER HAS STUPID CRUSH, theres your headline for tomorrows paper. ill get over it, because thats what i do. in fact, i already have." He was losing his stoic edge.
"hehehehe. no need to get defensive. dont worry, i wont tell anyone. actually, i wanted to tell you something!"
"yeah? what is it?" Dave leaned over, putting his face at eye level with Jade.
"just between you and me, dave..."
She kissed him on the cheek. "...i still think youre pretty cool."
He contemplated his next move for a second. What he really wanted to do was decidedly cheesy, like something out of one of John's awful movies.
Fuck it. Every coolkid gets exactly one moment in their lives when they're allowed to do something most definitely lame, and there was no better time to take it than now. He removed his shades and embraced her.
She kind of expected it. Big displays of emotion were never Dave's thing, which is why she wasn't expecting him to take her hand, or follow up her peck to the cheek with one of his own. Yet, that's exactly what happened.
"cmon harley, you hungry? im frickin starving, lets grab a bite."
Nepeta swallowed hard as she approached him, but it didn't do anything for the pit in her stomach. To be honest, she was still scared of him, even now. But like Equius said, she had to be STRONG and come to terms with it instead of avoiding the issue, since they were all going to have to work together now.
She took a deep breath before speaking. "gamz33?"
He looked up at her with a sad smile on his face. "Oh. HeY, nEpEtA."
"i wanted to ask you if... if you remembered what happened."
Gamzee closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "YeAh. YeAh, I FuCkIn' ReMeMbEr."
A chill shot down Nepeta's spine. "so, what happened to you? why?"
"I CaN'T FuCkIn' AnSwEr tHaT, bEcAuSe i dOn't kNoW. i jUsT KnOw tHeRe wAs sOmEtHiNg fUcKiNg dArK AnD *wRoNg* AbOuT Me." He stared at the back of his hand. "MaYbE ThAt mOtHeRfUcKeR Is sEaLeD AwAy fOrEvEr nOw. I FuCkIn' HoPe sO."
Gamzee looked Nepeta in the eye. She was terrified, but she couldn't bring herself to run away. "WhAt i dId tO YoU AnD EqUiUs wAs mOtHeRfUcKiN' aWfUl. If yOu *EvEr* FoRgIvE mE, wElL, tHaT'D Be tHe bIgGeSt fUcKiN' mIrAcLe tHeRe eVeR WaS."
His gaze fell to the floor. "So bIg, EvEn i dOn't bElIeVe iN It."
Nepeta frowned at him. She had been so scared of Gamzee; Equius had to spent a lot of time talking with her to try to convince her things would never be right without having this conversation. But now? This was clearly not the same Gamzee that strangled her moirail and then killed her. This was a broken Gamzee, a Gamzee disgusted with himself for what he had done, a Gamzee who couldn't bear to look himself in the mirror anymore.
A Gamzee that needed a friend.
Nepeta sat down beside him, her mind made up. "then i furgive you."
"BuT... i fUcKiN' kIlLeD YoU, sIsTeR. iT WaS BruTaL As fUcK! hOw cAn yOu--"
"you aren't him anymore. i don't think you wanted to hurt me and equius, not d33p down. and anyway everything turned out okay, everyone's fine now!"
She looked at him, her fear replaced with concern.
"I DoN'T FuCkIn' DeSeRvE It. BuT Uh, ThAnKs, I GuEsS?"
Nepeta curled up in his lap. "*the kitty trusts her furriend gamz33 enough to ask for a scratch behind her ears.*" He closed his eyes, tilted his head back, sighed and did as she asked.
Fuckin' friendship. How does it work?
Feferi found him sitting cliffside overlooking the oil ocean near the salamander village mushroom farm.
")(as )(e been )(ere a while?"
"Yeah he's been here all day. About as long as I've farming these goddamn, motherfucking mushrooms."
She approached him. This would not be easy, but if the group had any chance of working together, this was necessary.
He did not turn around to meet her. "fef."
"You want to talk?"
She sighed and sat down next to him. Of course he'd be difficult about this.
"look i know youre pissed at me, wwho isnt? and you got evvery right to be, i mean i killed you!"
"Yes, -Eridan, you did krill me. But I told you, I forgive you."
"yeah sure wwhatever. i knoww i aint gettin off the hook that easy."
"fef, listen. wwhat i did wwas fuckin unconscionable. okay maybe you dont hate me, but kar sure as hell does, an theres no wway kan dont despise me for the whole 'doomin the wwhole troll race to extinction' thing, an i bet sol still aint happy about me offin you like i did."
"You did do all of t)(at. But you also )(elped soooo much in t)(e rescue effort. And I t)(ink I know w)(y you did t)(e t)(ings you did."
"yeah, cause im a lousy stinkin coward who sold out his friends to the bad guy."
"You were the PRINC-E OF )(OP-E, -Eridan. And like you said t)(en, t)(at makes you uniquely qualified to tell w)(en t)(ere IS no )(ope. It was a )(opeless situation! But I t)(ink w)(at you were trying to do was CR-EAT-E some )(ope. You t)(ought maybe if you could ally wit)( Noir, you could some)(ow get )(im to spare us, didn't you."
Eridan couldn't bear to look at her. "okay, maybe in the back of my mind thats wwhat i thought. but that dont excuse me killin anyone or blowin up the matriorb."
"Maybe not. But we're all alive again, now, so you have a second c)(ance to do t)(ings rig)(t. And if we win, we can bring back trolls and )(umans in the new universe."
"but wwho in their right mind is gonna givve me that second chance after wwhat ivve done?"
"I will! We all have to work TOG---ET)(---ER if we're going to win! And if anyone doesn't like it, too bad for t)(em!"
Eridan smiled weakly at her. "wwell thanks for the vvote of confidence i guess."
The two of them stood up. He'd have to work extra-hard to regain the trust of his comrades, but if that meant giving everyone hope for the future, he'd do it.
"say fef, they got anything to eat in this joint? im so hungry i could eat a seahoofbeast."
"Yes, t)(ey've got an alc)(emeter set up for t)(at. Did you know t)(ey )(ave TAB )(ere?!"
Karkat and Terezi sat together on the blue-sand beach, watching the oily waves roll in the perpetual night of the Land of Wind and Shade. They'd been inseperable ever since Terezi awoke, and for once, Karkat didn't care.
Which is why her question surprised him.
"D1D YOU M34N 3VERYTH1NG YOU S4ID? 1 M34N, B3FOR3 W3 D13D, ON THE M3T3OR?"
"OF COURSE I DID, EVERY WORD OF IT. I MAY BE THE BIGGEST ASSHOLE EVER, BUT AT LEAST I'M A *SINCERE* ASSHOLE."
She laid her head on his shoulder. "1 GU3SS TH4T M4K3S US M4TESPR1TS, TH3N."
"UGH. MATESPRITS, WITH A HUMAN?"
She turned to look at him, grinning. "1 KNOW, SO SC4ND4LOUS! BUT 1 TH1NK 1D B3 OK4Y W1TH H4V1NG A HUM4N FOR 4 M4T3SPR1T, WOULDN'T YOU?"
"HEH. YEAH, I THINK I'D LIKE THAT," he said, as their lips met in the darkness.
"H3H3H3H3. LOV3 YOU, K4RKL3S."
"LOVE YOU TOO, TEREZI."
And so ends this tale.
Yes, there are many stories that could be told of this timeline; how the ten reborn trolls climbed back up their echeladders and regained all of their old powers; how they powered through the game meant for four with sixteen in their ranks; how the battle with Jack Noir was almost lost until Jade, in a move that was nothing short of miraculous, ascended to the God Tiers, merged with Jadesprite, and gained the power of a First Guardian herself.
But those are other stories, and we are reaching the end of this one.
Know this, however; in the end, the sixteen were victorious. Noir lay defeated, and the door opened. Happily, relieved, revelling in their victory over Sburb, they went, smiling, laughing, arm in arm...
Crossing over, into the universe they had created.
This is the part where everyone who bothered keeping up with this says "I FUCKING CALLED IT". Obvious twist, or most obvious twist?
Well, there it is anyway. The idea of the trolls being reborn as humans was what sparked the whole damn thing. This was planned from the very beginning, unlike most of what I write, so I left only the most obvious clues ever in previous chapters.
To be honest, there are some parts I'm not entirely happy with! I'm not sure someone could get over their fear of meeting the guy who beat them to death as quickly as I had Nepeta doing, if ever. Same with Feferi and Eridan, I'm certain it would be quite a while before he was forgiven for the sort of things he did, if he was ever forgiven! Also, same to a (somewhat?) lesser extent between Tavros and Vriska. But damnit you are getting a good end and that's final
Also originally I was going to write conversations at the end between John/Vriska and Rose/Kanaya! But then I realized I hadn't really explored those dynamics at all in this fic so I stopped
I ended with Karkat/Terezi because I am a sucker. KT being my favorite pairing was never a thing that stopped happening, guys! I will write and read romantic fluffy bullshit of them until the end of time. It is to be expected, and it is all your fault. You did this to me, and you will not get away with it.
Also: BAM MOTHERFUCKERS, TITLE DROP AWWWWW YEAH (this is stupid)
Finally: this is actually not the last of Crossing Over! There will totally be an epilogue. I will try to keep it short. I will fail spectacularly. This is my promise to you, right now.
Finally (for real), re: trolls as humans: anyone who's seen Dan Vs. knows my template for human Karkat already. Human Terezi being a redhead was a thing that couldn't not happen. Yes, all their old blood colors are now their new eye colors. No, I never decided if human Sollux still has heterochromia.
Chapter 15: Epilogue
Five years later, we revisit our heroes. How did their new world turn out?
Gonna warn you now, this is sappy as fuck. If the last chapter was a good end, this is a titanium-reinforced good end, so ready your insulin, because here it comes.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Alterth. That was the name of their new homeworld. But rather than rule it as gods, the sixteen chose to simply live among its strange new inhabitants.
A second chance at a normal life. Their victory over Sburb had earned them that much, at least.
Who? You are pretty sure you know nobody who goes by that name. You can vaguely recall a time where that name seemed somehow familiar, but it has long passed.
You are now JOHN EGBERT. Five years ago, you and your fifteen friends emerged victorious from Sburb's trials, and as a reward, your group was allowed to create a universe as you saw fit. The game noted your desires for the new world and took care of the rest.
Alterth was the result. It hasn't been easy; the history of the world is full of strife, conflict, and general unpleasantness. But when the dust settled, the alliance of human and troll ensured a bright future for all.
A world where trolls and humans could live, side-by-side, in peace. It was exactly what you wanted.
Oh, look. Someone is trying to contact you.>John: Answer someone.
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began pestering ectoBiologist [EB] --
CG: WHAT'S UP, FUCKASS.
EB: hey karkat!
CG: WHY DO YOU KEEP CALLING ME THAT? I'VE TOLD YOU MY NAME A THOUSAND TIMES AND YOU STILL CAN'T FUCKING GET IT RIGHT.
CG: WELL ANYWAY I WANTED TO KNOW IF YOU WERE GOING TO SHOW UP TONIGHT.
CG: WE'RE FRIENDS, RIGHT? I MEAN I KNOW I'M KIND OF A DICK BUT WE'RE STILL BUDDIES, RIGHT?
CG: AND I THINK I'D HATE IT IF YOU MISSED THE PARTY.
EB: hahaha you do this all the time! of course we're friends.
EB: and yeah, i'll be there. see you then, kyle!
CG: FUCKING FINALLY, NOW HE GETS MY NAME RIGHT.
CG: OKAY, SEE YOU THEN.
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased pestering ectoBiologist [EB] --
You are now KYLE VANTAS, and today is your eighteenth birthday. You are the youngest of your circle of friends; the last to turn eighteen, in fact, and in celebration you have invited everyone to your place tonight to hang out.
You have a feeling that tonight is the night you will learn something important about yourself. You aren't sure what it could possibly be, but the feeling is there in the back of your mind, all the same.
Your girlfriend is pestering you. She herself is a troll, and you tend to keep your relationship with her a private matter. Not because anyone finds anything wrong with human-troll romance in this modern day and age, but because, frankly, who you date is none of your friends' damn business.
Of course, you do a terrible job of hiding it, and your relationship with Terezi is completely obvious to even the most oblivious of your friends.
>Kyle: Answer girlfriend.
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
GC: H3333Y K4RK4T!
GC: 4R3 YOU TH3R3
CG: NO. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN ANYONE NAMED KARKAT HERE.
CG: SERIOUSLY TEREZI, WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH YOU AND EGBERT LATELY????
CG: IS THERE SOME GRAND FUCKING CONSPIRACY YOU TWO CAME UP WITH TO DRIVE ME BATSHIT INSANE?
CG: BECAUSE IT'S WORKING.
GC: H3H3H3H3, SOUNDS L1K3 YOU ST1LL H4V3NT WOK3N UP Y3T >:]
GC: DONT WORRY, 1TLL COM3 TO YOU SOON 3NOUGH
CG: WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, YOU CRAZY WOMAN
CG: CLEARLY I AM WIDE AWAKE BUT YOU HAVEN'T SHUT UP ABOUT THIS "WAKING UP" BULLSHIT FOR MONTHS.
CG: "OH 1 C4NT W41T FOR YOU TO W4K3 UP K4RKL3S, 1TLL B3 SO COOL"
CG: YOU ARE MAKING LESS SENSE THAN USUAL.
GC: BL4R, OK4Y KYL3, 1 G3T 1T >:[
GC: BUT 1 TH1NK TON1GHT 1S TH3 N1GHT 1T H4PP3NS!
GC: 4ND 1F 1T COULD H4PP3N 4NY M1NUT3 NOW TH3N 1M COM1NG TO YOUR PL4C3 R1GHT NOW
GC: 1 WOULDNT W4NT TO M1SS 1T >:D
GC: 1S TH4T OK4Y W1TH YOU
CG: AM I OKAY WITH SPENDING SOME QUALITY TIME WITH THE GIRL I LOVE BEFORE THE FRUITY RUMPUS FACTORY ASSHOLES SHOW UP.
CG: WHAT DO YOU THINK?
GC: > :]
GC: > :]
GC: OK4Y, S33 YOU SOON! <3
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
You are now TEREZI PYROPE, and you are eccentric as hell, to put it lightly.
From an early age, your lusus trained you to sense the world around you not with sight, but with smell and taste. It is another weird quirk of troll biology that scientists have never been able to explain, alongside things like telekenesis and the hemospectrum. To you, the world is a neverending parade of color and scents and flavors.
Just as you wanted it to be.
The vibrant lime greens, raspberry blues and bubblegum pinks of treetops, the licorice blacktop of roads, the orange-apple-cinnamon of the setting sun, the cotton candy cyan of a cloudless midday sky and the blueberry oceans are all served on the neverending buffet that is how you sense the world around you. To be honest, you actually prefer not to use your eyesight in order to strengthen your smell-o-vision, which is why you have taken to wearing a blindfold most of the time.
But being a scholar of the law, you know all too well that it discourages driving while wearing one, no matter how good the driver's sense of smell is. So you have set it aside for now.
Tonight is cause for celebration, not just because your matesprit, Kyle, turned eighteen today, but because he will awaken tonight, just as you and the rest of your friends did not long ago, and when the memories come flooding back, you want to be there for him.
You wonder what the rest of your friends are up to.
Who? Nobody here goes by that name, not anymore. Why do you insist on being characters that don't exist?
>Fine, be the guy who used to be Sollux.
You are now SOLOMON CAPTOR, half-troll and biological curiosity. The life cycle of a troll could be described as "vaguely insectoid", while humans are most definitely mammalian, and yet these two species, who could not be more different genetically, are somehow biologically compatible.
It was only recently that you discovered the answer as to why: you and your friends designed it that way. Specifically, the duality you held in your old life influenced the creation of the new universe.
You took the revelation that you were partially responsible for the creation of your universe rather well. After all, your old world kind of sucked. But being a hybrid of human and troll is pretty sweet, so you can't say you're disappointed with the world Sburb cranked out.
Speaking of sweet, your lady friend is messaging you.
>Sollux: Answer lady friend.
-- cuttlefishCuller [CC] began pestering twinArmageddons [TA] --
CC: Hi Solomon! 38D
CC: Or Sollux... I can N-EV-ER tell w)(ich one you like better.
CC: I was wanting to know if you were going tunaig)(t!
TA: well yeah, ky ii2 my be2t friiend
TA: of cour2e ii'm goiing, you only turn eiighteen once
CC: T)(en I'll go wit)( you, okay?
TA: ii thiink that wa2 the plan actually
CC: O)(, good! It's been FOR-EV-ER since we were all toget)(er, and fis)( of a scale ought to swim toget)(er, don't you t)(ink?
CC: And I don't get to spend so muc)( time with YOU anymore, glub! W)(ic)( makes me a little crabby!
You then proceeded to have an inane conversation filled with fish puns, many of which were stretches at best, for the next half hour.
But you don't mind, because you love the shell out of her. Er, the hell out of her.
>Skip to the end. Also, be Feferi.
CC: Okay, I'll sea you LAT-ER Solomon! I glub you!
TA: glub you two
TA: oh goddamniit you've got me doiing iit two
CC: )(e)(e)(e)(e)(e! 38)
--cuttlefishCuller [CC] ceased pestering twinArmageddons [TA] --
You are FEFERI PEIXES, heiress to the throne. That doesn't matter much these days, as most governments today are run by elected leaders, but tradition is a powerful thing, and the troll empress still holds sway in the minds of the people, symbolically, if not politically.
This would have made you sad if it weren't for Sburb transforming the world into everything you wanted it to be.
On Alternia, you wanted to unite sea and land trolls. On Alterth, an empress managed to accomplish this centuries ago. On Alternia, you wanted to care for the disabled instead of killing them. On Alterth, culling has not been practiced by trolls for over a millenium. On Alternia, you had grand plans to abolish the hemospectrum and the institutionalized discrimination in troll society that it enabled. On Alterth, the varied hues and shades of troll blood is little more than a curiosity that science has never quite been able to explain.
In short, even though your role as Empress will consist of little else than public appearances, officially, you're okay with it, because you've already done everything you set out to do.
Hey, one of your people is trying to contact you.
>Feferi: Answer your person.
-- caligulasAquarium [CA] began pestering cuttlefishCuller [CC] --
CA: hey your majesty just checkin to see if you needed a ride to kyls tonight
CA: sorry if im buggin you
CC: ---Eridan! Don't be so )(ard on yours)(ellf!
CC: I always )(ave time for friends, especially for my favorite butler! 38D
CC: And you don't )(ave to use my title, you know!
You are ERIDAN AMPORA, and holy mackerel, things have changed.
In your old life, your ranking in the hemospectrum would have made you a general of the Alternian army and the empress's right-hand man. Your influence in politics would have been second only to the empress herself, and as top advisor to her, yours would have been the secret hand guiding Alternia.
In your new life, you still serve the empress directly... as a butler. A servant to a ceremonial post, devoid of any real political power. Your life will be spent waiting on her and assisting her in everyday life. Your name will not go down in history as a conqueror; it will be barely remembered in records few will ever see as part of the empress's housekeeping staff.
You feel it is better than you deserve, as the memory of your crimes in Sburb still haunts you to this day. It has been a while since the last time you awoke in the night, visions of Feferi's still-smoking corpse atop the horn pile, or Kanaya on the floor lifeless next to a destroyed matriorb, frozen in your mind. But not long enough. Never long enough.
You committed these murders, and not even the creation of a new universe and the resurrection of the victims can undo the memory of your bloodshed. So, when Sburb asked what you wanted for the new world, your only wish was for the chance to repent for your wrongdoing.
The weight of your guilt will remain with you until the day you die, even if Feferi forgives you a million times. Your mopiness sometimes grates on those around you, actually!
Your computer is beeping. You should probably resume your conversation.
>Eridan: Do so.
CC: You still there, -Eridan?
CA: oh yeah sorry musta spaced out for a sec there
CC: )(-E)(-E, you sound like Gamzee!
CC: Or... were you being depressed again? 38/
CC: I wis)( you wouldn't be so sad all t)(e time! T)(at's all ancient )(istory now, glub!
CA: its good of you to say so i suppose
CC: I know! You s)(ould come along tonig)(t!
CA: no wway
CA: i could almost see the wwaves of hostile feelins last time wwe wwere all together
CC: Oh -Eridan! Stop t)(is!
CC: ---EV--ERYON--E knows you're sorry by now, glub! ----Even KYL--E admitted you're "SORT OF AN OKAY GUY NOW, I GUESS", in )(is ---EXACT words before we made t)(is world, glub!
CA: he just said that so you wwouldnt yell at him
CA: wwhat am i evven doin here
CA: you guys shoulda left me back in the dreamscape i mean i deservved as such
CC: ----------ERIDAN AMPORA! 38O
CC: I wasn't s)(ore before but now t)(ings are most definitely CL---EAR!
CA: oh man here it comes
CA: wwere gettin to the part wwhere i get fired aint wwe
CC: No, -Eridan.
CC: I just realized somet)(ing...
CC: And t)(at somet)(ing, glub, is t)(at you need )(elp.
CC: I want to )(elp you -Eridan, because you are my friend.
CA: you dont mean that
CC: I do, -Eridan! For reel!
CC: You N-E-ED someone to )(elp you wit)( your problems.
CC: You need a moirail.
CA: no wway
CA: Absoulutely not.
CA: I am dead serious about this, Your Highness.
CA: I can't.
CA: I just
CA: oh god
CA: im havin flashbacks
CA: oh god
CC: Are you okay?
CA: im not okay
CA: i will never be okay jegus fuck
CC: Do you want to talk about it?
CA: i wont do that to you
CA: its not fair to you and its not your fault i just
CA: oh god
CA: i cant i cant i cant
CA: im sorry
CA: so fucking sorry
CC: ----Eridan! Please, calm down!
CA: im tryin really i am
CA: its just
CA: we were moirails a long time ago
CA: and everything spiraled out of control because i got jealous
CA: and now everytime i close my eyes i see you lyin on a pile of horns with a bloody hole in your chest
CA: and yeah it was all undone eventually
CA: but it doesnt matter
CA: i still did it
CA: i am the murderer
CA: its me
CA: i cant be trusted to fill a quadrant wwith anyone your highness least of all you
CA: and anywway i aint exactly in a position to be a danger to anybody anymore
CA: so the need for a moirail is kinda not a thing that evven exists
CC: That's not true! You may not be hurting anyone ---ELS---E, but...
CC: W)(at you are doing is incredibly self-destructive, glub! 38(
CC: I am going to save you from yourself.
CC: So as of t)(is moment, I am your moirail!
CA: youre serious about this aint you
CA: not gonna take no for an answwer
CC: OF COURS-E, glub!
CA: its good of you to havve faith in me i guess
CA: evven if theres wway better people than me to fill that quadrant
CC: So will you come to Kyle's tonig)(t?
CA: if your gloriousness wwills it then i guess i got no choice
CC: -Eridan. Please.
CC: When we are speaking like t)(is, I am not t)(e --Empress!
CC: I am just your moirail, Feferi. Okay, glub?
CA: ...okay fef
CC: Glub glub glub!
CC: Okay, sea you tonig)(t!
CA: sea you
-- caligulasAquarium [CA] ceased pestering cuttlefishCuller [CC] --
Maybe you can't ever forgive yourself for your crimes. But sometimes, its the smallest gestures of kindness that give you the greatest hope.
>Be someone else.
You're going to have to be a little more specific than that.
>Be... Equius? Is he still someone who exists?
You are now EQUIUS ZAHHAK.
You were the first among your friends to awaken to the truth behind your universe: that all of them, and yourself, were the ones to create it.
When you cleared the trials Sburb had set in front of you not once, but twice over, you had but one wish in mind, and the new world has surely delivered.
"Hello, Nia. How does this day find you?"
"*the cat girl springs at her best furriend for a tacklepounce hug!*"
In your old world, you had to be e%cruciatingly careful not to accidently harm your moirail when she got up to something like this, as your massive STRENGTH meant you could tear her in half just because your muscles twitched incorrectly.
But now? Humans are known on Alterth for being both resourceful and clever, which is why the planet is not populated solely by trolls. On Alternia, the solution to dealing with your freakish STRONGNESS was living alone and a hobby in robotics. Here, a human doctor designed a brace for you that allows you to go about your everyday life without fear of breaking things... or people.
So now, you can hug back the girl who is like a sister to you without worrying about snapping her spine.
A world where you don't have to worry about destroying everything in it with the slightest touch. Alterth is everything you could have asked for.
You are now NIA LEIJON. You live next door to your best friend, Equius. Sometimes other people wonder if there's more to it than that, but those people are silly! Equius is a brother to you and you wouldn't trade what you have with him for the world. Besides, you are well aware of the thing he has for a certain maroon-blooded troll girl.
You are uniquely qualified to make this assessment, being the Rogue of Heart and all.
It seemed like a silly request to make of Sburb when it created your new universe, but all you could think of was that you wanted humans and trolls to get along in the new world.
Blackrom is still a thing, trolls being what they are. But, because Alterth is a much gentler world than Alternia ever was, the ruthless aggression that was necessary to survive back then no longer influences the black quadrants. Kismesitudes still burn as obsidian as ever, but without thousands of years of violence behind troll society, casualties are an extreme rarity.
That, and humans tend to make EXCELLENT ashen partners. With not one but two races to consider, it is an endless world of shipping opportunities, and it makes you grin like an idiot.
Another thing that makes you grin like an idiot is the possibility that tonight is the night you will work up the courage to confess your crush to a certain someone! He has come a long way in the last five years, and you hope you will see him shortly.
You are now ARADIA MEGIDO, and you are en route to Kyle's house. The gang has not gotten back together in quite some time, so you are eager to catch up with everyone.
Your PDA is beeping.
>Aradia: Answer PDA.
-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering apocalypseArisen [AA] --
TG: maid of time
TG: mistress of rhyme her beats are sublime
TG: rhythm so fine its a crime on the company dime
AA: haha s0unds like s0me0ne just g0t 0ut 0f rehearsal!
TG: yeah sorry about that those rhymes were pretty bad
TG: used up all my good ones fifteen minutes ago
TG: rapping on fumes now
TG: so im on my way to kyles or karkats or whatever the fuck hes gonna call himself after today
TG: johns thinking hell wake up tonight
TG: about fucking time i say
TG: how the hell did he end up being the youngest out of all of us anyway
TG: fucking sburb how does it work
TG: so anyway i wanted to know if you were going tonight
TG: seeing how youre the featured artist on the track im debuting there
AA: yes i will be there :)
TG: okay rad
TG: catch you later
AA: bye davide!
TG: ugh how about not calling me that again ever
TG: what the fuck kind of rule is that anyway
TG: hurr its not a proper troll name if it isnt exactly six letters long
TG: im dave regardless of what species i am
TG: because i am just that awesome
TG: see you at kyles aradia
AA: see y0u there!
-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering apocalypseArisen [AA] --
You are now DAVIDE SYPHER, and you hate your first name SO MUCH. At least DAY-vihd was tolerable, but dah-VEED makes you sound like you're some kind of snooty asshole. You will never understand why the length of a troll's name has to be so exact. Oh, as far as your lusus is concerned you're still DAVE STRIDER, but you know, tradition and all that.
When the game offered you a choice between remaining human or becoming a troll, your response of "yeah sure id love to be a candy corn horned asshole forever" was interpreted literally. So, you decided to roll with it. You and your friends get sappy-ass happy endings, you said. Everyone's guardians came back in some form or another. It was an ironic thing to want for someone as cool as you, though secretly it was something you genuinely wanted to happen, so maybe not so much. But no one has to know that.
Your lusus is an older human male. A human or troll being appointed as a lusus on Alterth is a somewhat rare occurrence, though not unheard of, when a lusus naturae never steps forward to claim a troll hatchling. You guess you COULD have brought Bro back as a lusus naturae instead of as a human. But it seemed like kind of a dick move.
Speaking of your Bro, not fifteen minutes ago, you were rehearsing with him, Jade, and the biggest tool this side of non-paradox space for an upcoming gig. The four of you are part of a band that intentionally produces the shittiest techno metal rap you've ever heard. Naturally, you have a bit of a following locally and on the internet. But your latest stuff is actually pretty good; Aradia approached the band recently about putting together a serious demo, and it turns out she has the singing voice of a fucking angel. You just finished mixing that track yesterday, and you can't wait to pop that shit in for everyone.
>Be the tool.
You are now TRAVIS NITRAM, though you may be better known by your stage name of GEROMY, drummer for THE SOCK RUSE DISTACTION. You are sort of a big deal because you lay down the freshest beats for the illest rhymes and sweetest riffs this side of any space, paradox or not, but you don't let that go to your head, because that's not the kind of guy you are.
You and your bandmates are going to spend some time at Kyle's place tonight, because it's his birthday, and that is a thing friends do. In fact, you're almost there now.
You'd like to see one of your best friends here tonight. Maybe you should give her a call.
>Travis: Call friend.
You dial her phone number. It rings once before she picks up.
"hEY, IT'S ME,"
"Not a lot, just out with some friends. What a8out you?"
"jUST ABOUT TO UH, PULL INTO KYLE'S, yOU SHOULD COME TOO, WE JUST FINISHED UP A BRAND NEW SONG WITH aRADIA AND ITS GREAT, wE'RE GOING TO SHOW IT TO EVERYONE,"
"Sounds interesting! I'll definitely 8e there then!"
"aLRIGHT, GREAT, UHH, SEE YOU THEN,"
"See you tonight!"
You stuff your phone back in your pocket.
You think back to five years ago, when you and your friends defeated the best Sburb had to offer and created this new world. All sixteen of you had some measure of influence in the way Alterth would develop. You wanted a world where a person didn't have to be a bloodthirsty monster just to survive, where it was okay to be different, to be weak sometimes, to have fun and play games and just enjoy life without having to kill or be killed.
This, you remember as you exit the vehicle, was Sburb's gift to you, and your gift to Alterth.
You knock on Kyle's door. He opens the door and...
"OH HEY, YOU JACKASSES ARE HERE SOONER THAN I THOUGHT YOU'D BE."
"uM, kYLE, YOUR FACE, ITS UH,,,"
"WHAT? THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH MY FACE, YOU SAYING I'M UGLY NOW?"
A voice shouts from further inside the house. "WHOS H3R3, KYL3?"
Dave starts laughing. "hahaha dude fuck, sorry bro, didnt know we were interrupting sloppy interspecies makeout time, we can wait out here if you want."
"THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABO---" Kyle's eyes catch sight of himself in a mirror by the door. His face turns scarlet when he realizes it's covered in teal lipstick.
The door slams shut in your faces and you don't even care. You, Dave and Jade haven't laughed this hard in a long time.
You have been told to stop trying to be imaginary characters more than once. But addiction is a powerful thing, it seems.
>Be Travis's moirail.
You cannot be Travis's moirail, because he doesn't have one, because he is not a troll!
>Be whoever it was Travis called, damnit.
You are now FRANZISKA SERKET, and you used to be a bad person.
Remembering the thousands who died by your hand on Alternia makes you cringe. When you recall your actions toward the boy you now consider your best friend, chills shoot down your spine. To think you were ever capable of such brutality is not something you want to remember, which is why you have sworn to never forget.
You think you are okay, now. You have had fifteen friends to support you since you made the decision to turn your back on the person you used to be, after all.
When Skaia demanded to know your wishes for the universe you and your friends had created, you had but one idea in mind: no one should have to grow up like you did. And when you were asked what form you wished to take upon joining the new world, well, you had the recommendation of a good friend of yours to guide your decision.
One of your friends is trying to get your attention.
>Be the friend.
You are now KANAYA MARYAM, and it's moments like these that you fought so hard for.
"Wh8t's up, Fussyfangs?"
"The Sun Is Beginning To Set. It Is A Sight I Will Never Tire Of."
"Ah, that which has inspired generations of artists to take brush to canvas."
"Well geeeeeeeez, Rose, it sounds so much less mund8ne when you put it THAT way!"
The sun of your old world, Alternia, burned red with such a harsh intensity that you were one of the few who could tolerate it, and you may have been the only troll who actually enjoyed sunlight. The yellow sun of Alterth, however, is much milder than its old counterpart. Those who spent part of their lives on Earth have compared it to their old planet's sun, and though you may never have seen Earth, if that planet's days were anything like this, it must have been a wonderful place.
It seemed like a silly request to make, a superficial influence on the world that would become yours. But a world where you could share moments like this with your friends was all you could ask for.
You are now ROSE LALONDE, and you have repaid your debt, with interest.
Five years ago, your plan to cross the gap between sessions ended in the death of one of the only four surviving trolls, sending the remaining three into despair. Your plan to reverse this turn of events would use a loophole in how the dreamscape worked to resurrect the fallen trolls as humans. There was not a guaranteed chance of success, as there would be no way to determine how Feferi, Daughter of the Horrorterrors, would utilize the power they themselves had placed within her.
But you could guess. And guess, you did. In the end, Feferi's shock at the horrorterrors' betrayal became a righteous fury that cleared the path to escape and ensure the mission's success. Ancient monstrosities from beyond time and reality cannot be permanently destroyed in such a manner, however, so the horrorterrors' influence could never be truly shaken.
Until the moment this new universe came into existence.
In return for having bested everything it could mount against you, your one desire for Alterth was that it was never to be disturbed by Skaia. Oh, you suppose a few copies of Sburb or Sgrub or whatever it ends up calling itself this time around might surface around when the sun enters its death throes. But you have ensured that this world will be allowed to run its course, without being prematurely ended at the hands of meteor strikes from paradox space.
You turn to Kanaya and smile. It IS a beautiful sunset.
>Skip ahead a bit.
Sixteen friends gather in the basement of a house of a quiet neighborhood to celebrate the eighteenth birthday of one of their own.
One of them attempts to get the attention of the others.
>Be that one.
You are now JADE HARLEY, and you have something to share with the group.
"hey everyone! remember how distaction and aradia were working together on a song??? well it's done!!! dave finished it and i want to give it a listen."
Murmurs of cautious agreement can be heard coming from the group. They are all too aware of the usual "quality" of a work by The Sock Ruse Distaction.
>Jade: Pop that shit in.
To say they are amazed by the quality of this track would be a gross understatement.
To describe this song as belonging to a particular genre would do a disservice to it, as it defies classification. All at once, it is rap and rock and chiptune and... opera? Such a combination would normally be unconventional at best, but Aradia's lovely singing voice brings the entire piece together in such a way that it commands the attention of your friends' ears for its duration.
When you remember your old life on Earth, on the island with only Bec and the internet for company, you can't help but think it wasn't really a BAD life. You were taken care of, and you never really wanted for anything.
It was a selfish request to make of Sburb when it asked what you wanted from the new universe you and your friends had created, but it was what you craved, more than anything else: to not be alone anymore.
You can't help but think, as Dave wraps his arm around your waist on the sofa and you rest your head on his shoulder, that the game has made good on its promise.
>Be... Gamzee, I guess? I don't think we've checked in with him yet.
You are now GAMZEE MAKARA, and you have come a long way in the last five years. You were pretty laid back until you awoke to the truth of the universe, and your memories of your time in the Medium came flooding back.
That was not a good night. If Nia hadn't been there, then... no, you'd rather not think about that. That girl has been your best motherfuckin' friend since that day, when she had more reason to despise you than anyone else. What is that, if it's not a miracle?
And this world's full of 'em. Fuckin' miracles, that is.
You haven't heard the voice in your head telling you to hurt things in years, and you know why? Motherfuckin' miracles, that's why. Okay yeah, it's the pills you started taking five years ago, and you don't really NEED them but Jegus do they help keep that bastard down. Science can maybe explain how that medicine works, but how did people find out those chemicals work together to do that in the first place? Miracles, that's fuckin' how.
How did the humans manage to rescue you and your troll buddies from the horrorterrors? Miracles. How did the sixteen of you take down Jack Noir? Miracles. How did the game know what everyone wanted the new world to be like? Okay, they fuckin' told it. But how did everything turn out so perfectly? Miracles.
So what did you want, in this new universe? Mother. Fuckin'. Miracles. It's a world where people still believe in them, because they happen every fucking day.
And that's the biggest fuckin' miracle of all.
Speaking of, your best friend wants to talk to you.
"hey, gamz33. you got a minute?"
"'CoUrSe i dO, cHiCa. AlWaYs gOt a mInUtE fOr mY FaVoRiTe lAdY."
"okay, um, come sit outside with me for a while, i have something i want to tell you about."
"HaHa nO PrObLeM, lEaD ThE MoThErFuCkIn' WaY."
You are now KYLE VANTAS again, and you are starting to flip the fuck out.
It began when Terezi called you "Karkat" again, and you didn't notice until she pointed it out. Soon after, a vision of another world, entirely different from Alterth, flashed in your mind... and you recognized it, if only briefly.
More images enter your mind; it's a treehouse with plush dragons hanging from the branches and somehow you know it's Terezi's house. It's a world with bloody red oceans. It's Kanaya but she's glowing and holding a chainsaw and crying and apologizing for what she's about to do next. It's the sixteen of you and you're all humans except Aradia and Franziska and you KNOW you used to be different somehow and...
You look down at your hands and for an instant, they're the same gray as troll flesh. Suddenly, you understand everything.
"WE MADE THIS PLACE, DIDN'T WE."
"what do you mean?"
"WE PLAYED A GAME AND WHEN WE WON, WE CREATED THIS ENTIRE FUCKING WORLD."
"yeah. that's what happened."
"I REMEMBER GROWING UP ON ALTERTH, BUT I REMEMBER A LIFE ON ANOTHER WORLD, TOO. WAS MY ENTIRE LIFE UP TO NOW A LIE?"
"i don't think so. i'm pretty sure both sets of your memories actually happened! but weird time shit is dave's area, not mine."
"I AM SO FUCKING CONFUSED RIGHT NOW."
"haha so was everyone else when they remembered! but think back to when we beat sburb. we all agreed that we'd live in our new world for a while without any memory of what happened, remember?"
"I... THINK SO? BUT WHY ARE THE MEMORIES COMING BACK NOW?"
"because we wanted to remember, eventually. i guess we all just wanted normal lives for a while. but now that we all know the truth, i don't see how we can't just live our lives. i mean, the game even saw fit to ensure we'd all meet again, and even you and terezi got back together, after everything that happened!"
You punch him in the forearm, and of course he hams it up and acts like you've killed him. "HEY FUCKASS, NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, OKAY?"
"hahahaha you crabby asshole, don't ever change!"
You have NO idea how close Karkat's human name came to being Dan. Props to anyone who knows why!
This is probably the third revision of this. I still don't think it's great because when have I ever thought that about something I wrote? But there it is and people will like it anyway because apparently the things I write are never the garbage I seem to think they are.
I am beginning to think I have impossibly high standards for myself, and the only reason I ever get anything done is sheer laziness.
Trolls and humans living together was planned from the very beginning! I said more than once, way back when there were only a couple chapters, that I was building to an epilogue like this, and that never stopped being a thing. So was the idea that they would simply live in the new world, rather than become its gods, and so was what everyone's influence on this new universe would be, and what characters would elect to be trolls, and which would be humans (though admittedly this was damn near arbitrary. I remember wanting troll!Dave and hybrid!Sollux though).
Stuff not mentioned in-fic because I couldn't find a place to mention it: Troll Dave has a unicorn horn. Feferi's lusus this time around was a giant squid. Human Vriska keeps a pet tarantula; most of the trolls who became human either have something resembling their old lusii as pets, except Karkat who has a dad who's just like him.