With a flash and a clatter, the four of them landed face first on the floor of the Alternian session’s laboratory. Righting themselves (Dave righting Jade manually, as she had reflexively taken her horizontal position as another excuse to catch up on about eight years of lost sleep as was becoming a bad habit), they took a look around. John immediately noticed that, by the looks of things, this was where their friends from another dimension had been paradoxically spat into existence, similar in makeup to the room in their own session. Each of the vats in the place had been retrofitted to produce quantities of the Troll’s sopor slime, as, down to one life, everyone that slept returned immediately to their genetic bad dreams. Other than the churning of the sopor machines, the room was silent and empty, at least until he walked in.
“Karkat!” John said with a start. “Wow, I was starting to think we were in the wrong universe. Wouldn’t that have been embarrassing?”
The troll stopped and looked the four of them up and down with astonishment. John imagined how he felt from the look on his face – he might have been able to see them for the past few months, but actually being in the same room as an alien for the first time was something else entirely. Rose and Dave looked much the same, while Jade was drifting off again on her feet and he was trying to make up for it out of sheer enthusiasm.
“We’re all ready to go, the minute you want us out. I mean, sure, we’d like to meet everyone and say hi but if we’ve gotta go we’re gonna kick some demon ass, heh, you know?”
His partner in the conversation did not reply at first. Something, he thought. Is not right here. He tried to take John in in more detail as if that would give him the answer.
“…Oh,” John said, edging closer. “I don’t know if you quite remember, but you and I just had our first conversation from your point of view. You know, where I thought you were feeling…” He cast a look over his shoulder to make sure the others – Rose snapping her fingers to keep Jade awake – were not listening. “When I thought you might be feeling blackrom feelings for me? I’m still feeling bad about that. I mean, both that I made the mistake and that you don’t, because you’re a pretty cool guy and I think we’re going to be a good team! Anyway, no hard feelings, right?”
Wait, though the Troll as his brain clunked into gear and hit on what had been bothering him. WhY iS tHiS pInK iMp TaLkInG tO mE?
“Marquise!” John jumped to his feet and turned to the door, where Nepeta jumped a foot with a yelp, and John bowed deeply. “I should have recognized you in your... uh..." Even he did not seem all that sure about this one, but if you're going to put your foot in your mouth it might as well go the whole way. "...ceremonial garb.”
Nepeta looked down at herself, at first wondering if this meant she was supposed to extract her foot from out of the trenchcoat edge caught under it, and realized that she was still carrying the plush jingle squirrel Tavros had given her. She dropped it and kicked it to the side not at all surreptitiously, before anyone else could realize just how far she had fallen in isolation.
“Marquise,” John said again, “I don’t think you’ve had the pleasure of meeting my friends. This is Rose, our Seer of Light, Dave, our Knight of Time, and… uh… Jade. Witch of Space.”
Nepeta’s hands tapped together nervously, eyes flicked back and forth between John and Gamzee, neither providing her with the answer she sought, until they suddenly lit up with euphoric glee. Reaching up, she swept off her hat and stuffed it into a pocket, pulling down a part of her hair cloaked across her right eye. “Perfect,” she said. A captchalogued apple bounced up and down in her hand for want of an eight-ball and she spoke with such a sterling Vriska impression that Gamzee almost checked the chill running up his vertical-most structure-support bone.
“Good to see you, John, really, certain people didn’t think you were going to make it here in one piece. Rose, charmed. And you’re the one responsible for this mess in the first place?” she said to Jade, lifting her chin to look her in the eyes. Gamzee had to admire their naivety: no one in the lab would dare let Vriska look them in the eyes since she had got her eightfold vision back. “And you,” she said to the last. “Dave. Knight of Time. I should warn you: I had a 8ad experience with our ‘of Time.’” And then she smiled, pulling her teeth back to give Vriska’s toothier grin. “But you’re interesting.” She set her hand on his chin as well, not at all in the simple inquisitive way she had Jade. She ran her tongue out to coax around one of her fangs and, though he could not see his eyes past the shades, Gamzee finally saw the look of mounting fear he had long been expecting run across his face.
Nepeta laughed, Vriska’s horrible lingering cackle, and turned to saunter toward the sopor as though she had reason to do so. “8etter 8e careful, red8lood,” she said. “8ad things happen to people who interest me.”
Back still to them, she reached out her hand and crushed the apple, it vanishing as she did into her deck, and she used the empty hand to point them toward the door.
"...yeah..." John said. "...we should probably be..." And they left at the double.
She stayed there, Gamzee watching them leave in a perturbed shock, and turn off to the left. At last, seeing they were gone, Nepeta came up to him, tiny fists held before her, shaking with glee.
“:33 < oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my GOD!!” she squealed at a whisper. “Did you see that? Did you see their faces? Oh my god, I got to be Vriska!” She clapped her fists together at the knuckle, but then stopped and composed herself, back straight, adjusting her hair with her hand. “I… I mean, I got to be the Marquise Spinneret Mindfang!” But she could not control herself and squealed aloud, shaking from head to toe. “:33 < gamz33, nobody’s played with me in so long! I’ve been so bored. Did they go to Karkat? No? Will you keep them from Karkat? Just for like, five minutes. And the real Vriska. ...Holy crap, seriously keep away the real Vriska. Pleeeeeeeeeeease?”
“Uh… sure, kitty, whatever you say.”
“Yes! Yes yes yes! Okay, okay.” She composed herself. “:33 < *the marquise is getting ready for her big entrance. poised, ready for any--* Do we have a throne?”
“A what?” Gamzee said, having partially forgotten what was going on and starting to walk out.
“A throne. A big fancy chair.”
“Can we make one?”
And Nepeta squealed with joy at a level only cats and fans can hear.