Chapter 1: under the mountain, a golden fountain, were you praying at the lares shrine?
Water was running; children were running
You were running out of time
Under the mountain, a golden fountain
Were you praying at the Lares shrine?
But oh your city lies in dust, my friend
- requisite pretentious lyric at the beginning of a long fanfic
Your name is DAVE STRIDER and you were a bad kid. In hard-boiled detective terms, they’d have called you a “rotten egg”. The bad one in the batch. You were three steps away from blaring trollish hard rock from your bitchin’ motorcycle except that you preferred a more subtle brand of cool.
Bad boy is a hard style to maintain indefinitely. It is an image with a definite EXPIRY DATE. Yours was two years ago when you nearly died in an accident you would RATHER NOT DISCUSS. As you lay on the pavement staring at the stars (Scorpio in Libra, a chilly autumn that bit through your clothes) you thought about your life and made a list of all the places it had gone wrong.
1. Bro arrested on obscenity charges. Lead to -
2. Life in the foster system. Assumption is made that -
3. You would be better off with your own kind. Placed with -
4. A religious man with a bottle wife and curious hands. You snapped both his wrists and they -
5. Sent you back to the Orphanage where you -
6. Met Jade. Then you -
7. Lost Jade. Now you -
8. Are dying on a cold October morning.
You thought long and hard about fairness and empathy as you dragged yourself out into the street by your fucking fingernails. Always a chance a car’ll stop. If not, at the very least run you over- boy howdy, a swift and marvelous death that would have been, burst like a bag of rotted grain and painting the town red. Fucking highbloods woulda shit themselves.
You get this feeling about decisions sometimes, like every outcome is a possibility waiting to germinate, waiting to punch free of the seeded implication and bloom bloody red. There’s another universe where Dave Strider died that day; this is not that universe.
In this universe you lived and a month later you enrolled in police academy.
Your name is DAVE STRIDER and you are a cop. You are the Po. A pig. Fucking bacon sandwich. You are the Black Rat, Blue Meanie Doughnut Patrol and today you get to add another feather to your cap. Today you are a D as in Dick as in Cinder Dick as in Detective.
This asshole again.
He’s been trying to get your attention for nearly a month now. You tossed a few pity coins his way last Monday and he beamed at you like he was ten thousand puppy dogs and your fingers were made of hamsteak. Not really surprising that he’s upgraded his panhandling dramatics to stalking.
[you pause; turn; exhale a thin line of smoke]
>INFORM THIS CREEP ON NEWTERNIA’S LAWS REGARDING CRIMINAL HARASSMENT
kid look you know im a cop right
yup. detective today, though, isn’t it?
yeah thats what im sayin not that i have a problem with any pink gilded fairy fantasies you got bro but this fixation is getting a little illegal at this point
card tricks are illegal in newternia now? shit, that’s like my job.
[you pause... to contemplate how much of a dope this guy is.
he’s pretty dopey, but probably not a danger to anyone but himself.]
>INDULGE THIS WEIRDO
card tricks are you fucking kidding me
wanna see a card trick, dave?
no what i wanna know is how you know my name
oh. that’s easy!
>BE MADE TO FEEL UNEASY BY THIS HOBO’S OBVIOUS INSANITY
>BE TOO COOL TO FEEL UNEASY
>GIVE IN AND SEE CARD TRICK
shit play it again sam
lets see that shuffle kid
[you cooly regard this shuffle. you find yourself admitting that it’s a pretty good shuffle. this guy’s got a talent, arcing the cards neatly like flipping through a dictionary. too bad card shuffling is basically the saddest talent to have you can possibly think of. an echelon of pathetic matched only by ear-wiggling, which you’re pretty sure this guy is good at as well.]
pick a card!
thoth i mean
any card thats how it goes right
wow, you’re a natural!
>PICK: ANY CARD
>PUT THE CARD BACK IN THE DECK
>WATCH THIS WEIRD HOBO’S SHUFFLING SKILLS AGAIN. MAN IT’S JUST UNREAL. WHERE DO YOU EVEN GET SKILLS LIKE THAT?
two of hearts.
arent you supposed to pick it back out again
i mean dont take my word on it youre the expert but lets at least put some effort in here
no i mean, i saw that the card was cut in the middle. i’m kind of poor and haven’t really been able to afford a new deck in a while, so that kind of ruined it. the two of hearts is the only one that’s ripped like that.
wow im so impressed
you should be!
because the real magic isn’t actually in the trick.
[you start smoking again; you are finished with this conversation]
>BE NOT FINISHED WITH THIS CONVERSATION
don’t you want to know where the real magic is?
[the hobo makes this sort of fluttery gesture with both his hands, like birds flying away or maybe a giant squid strangling itself to death out of desperation.]
>RELATE TO THE SQUID’S DESPERATION
where is the real magic
>SAY THIS AS FLATLY AS POSSIBLE
it’s in my pants!
>LOOK AS UNIMPRESSED AS POSSIBLE
ha ha, no that was a joke.
the magic [A WINK] is in the choice. everyone chooses a different card. it says something important about your fate.
so two of hearts means what that im some sort of mean hustler rocking out the nightlife
sorry to disappoint bro but im married to the job
actually i don’t know what it means
rattling down to my bones with awe right now
no, no. it will become clear in time is what i meant. it’s like a SEER’S prophecy!
just think about it! i promise, it will become clear to you when you wake up.
when i what
wake up. tomorrow morning, i mean.
>SIGH (RE: RELIEF)
okay look i finally indulged you gave you the sweet thrill of pulling a stunt with a smooth customer like me
what do i owe you
cards are free, strider.
but i mean, like.
if you can spare a dollar or two.
i mean, getting a coffee or soup or something would be nice, ha ha ha.
>BEGRUDGINGLY ENACT CHARITY
Your name is DAVE STRIDER and you have been asleep for a very long time. Today is the day when you finally realize your full potential. Today is the day you WAKE UP.
Chapter 2: two lonely people we were strangers in the night
Like everyone else in this HARD-BOILED CITY, the AUTHORITATIVE REDRESSER also smokes. He is, however, the only person you know who smokes solely NICOTINE FREE MENTHOL CIGARETTES. Anything else would be, in his words: “highly salacious” by which “i mean unhealthy and possibly immoral.” The AUTHORITATIVE REDRESSER is all about the law. While most Dersians and Prospitans prefer to languish in middle management bourgeoisie bureaucracy, this carapace spent his best years as an active member of the force. In those days, he was known as the AIMLESS RENEGADE.
As the only carapace on the force, the AUTHORITATIVE REDRESSER relates to your position as a human struggling to succeed in a troll profession. His empathy is stilted as fuck and astoundingly awkward and it extends only as far as the arm of the law. He has been very hard on you these past few years and you are grateful for it.
Your Bro was hard on you too.
That’s why you survived.
> RECEIVE FIRST ASSIGNMENT
fair assessment is fair chief
[AR writes something down in pencil. he always uses a 2b with eraser so that he can judicate mistakes to the fullest extent of the law]
>SAY NOTHING. A TROLL PARTNER WAS INEVITABLE.
woah woah she
>RESIST JOKE ABOUT THIS BEING A SET UP FOR A BAD PORNO
shit chief what do you think im gonna do
im aces at first impressions all well kempt prettyboy sizzling away in this dapper tie
>MEET YOUR PARTNER
>SHIT, SHE'S A HIGHBLOOD.
shit shes a highblood
THIS WAS A STUPID IDEA
Chapter 3: you broke my heart, 'cause i couldn't dance
Ten things you have learned about your new partner in the three terrible hours since meeting her.
(thoth get a fucking pen)
1. She is blind.
2. She sees through scent.
3. She also apparently sees with her tongue.
4. She wasn’t even lying about that.
5. She is the only person in this HARD-BOILED CITY who doesn’t smoke.
6. 1T CLOGS UP MY 1NT3RN4L SM3LLOSCOP3!
7. Smelloscopes are apparently a thing in troll society.
8. She has the most obnoxious laugh.
9. This laugh is made terrifying by the mouth it comes out of. Shit how many rows of teeth is that? She’s got at least sixteen rows of teeth. That’s only a modest guesstimate.
10. You bet her teeth rotate like a buzz-saw when she eats.
STR1D3R, YOU 4R3 4W4R3 OF TH3 DUT13S OF 4 L3G1SL4C3R4TOR 4R3 YOU NOT?
[she says this, holding a map soggy with her own saliva. her professionalism is breath-taking to behold. you feel faint]
>BE AN ASSHOLE ABOUT THIS
do i look like a guy who is over here caring about that
you do your job ms pyrope and i do mine
MS. PYROP3! TH3 HUM4N 1S 4 G3NTL3M4N!
yeah i am
call you ms in any part of town any time of day thats how much chivalry im practicing here
so can we not do this troll thing where you call me “human”
im more than a little unnerved by this detached reference like im a specimen
makes me think youre gonna try and eat me or something
[somewhere there is a list of things you should never say to your new partner first day on the job.
this is not number one, but it’s up there.
you just can’t stop
looking at her teeth.
there’s so many.]
>THINK UP THREE MORE METAPHORS ABOUT NEW PARTNER’S TEETH
OH YOU DONT H4V3 TO WORRY 4BOUT TH4T.
1 ONLY 34T OTH3R TROLLS.
>OBSERVE EAR SPLITTING CACKLE
MY BLOOD C4ST3 1S C4NN1B4L1ST1C. TH4TS WH4T H4PP3N3D TO MY L4ST P4RTN3R.
SH3 D3F13D M3 SO 1 CONSUM3D H3R FL3SH.
TH4TS WH4T 4 L3G1SL4C3R4TOR DO3S. W3 4R3 IMBU3D BY COURT OF L4W W1TH TH3 R3SPONS1B1L1TY OF JUDG3M3NT. 4T 4NY T1M3 1 M4Y P3RFORM 4N 3M3RG3NCY 3X3CUT1ON. W3 4R3 TH3 L4W.
4CTU4LLY TH4TS N1C3!
NO MOR3 OF TH1S MS. PYROP3 NONS3NS3. FROM NOW ON YOU W1LL C4LL M3 “TH3 L4W”.
[apparently, new partner is full of shit.]
yeah it sounded like you were just saying stuff to hear the sound of your own voice
W3LL TH3 P4RT 4BOUT 3X3CUT1ONS 1S TRU3. 1 HOP3 YOU W3R3 T4K1NG NOT3S.
got my fucking pen right here
W3R3 GO1NG TO WORK W3LL TOG3TH3R. 1 C4N T3LL!
>HAVE CONFLICTED OPINIONS ABOUT THIS
so ms the law
why dont you do something useful and tell me about this here case
THE VERY GRISLY CASE OF TAVROS NITRAM
FACTS: The Victim, TAVROS NITRAM, is [was] a low-blood troll in his thirteenth sweep [twenty-sixth year]. Due to a massive overhaul in trollish internal policy in his youth [defective trolls will no longer be culled provided they can prove useful to the empire or otherwise find a minimum of ten vouchers among the undamaged population with no less than three highblood sponsors], he managed to avoid culling despite his reportedly mild nature and debilitating condition. In adulthood, ran an orphanage dedicated to raising defective [disabled] troll children and instilling them with workable skills.
Cause of death appears to be [GIANT HOLE IN THE ABDOMEN] complications related to internal bleeding. Inscription was written at the murder site [orphanage play room], written in the victims own blood. The inscription reads:
Well, I'm heading down a south district; I'm going lowblood huntin'
Chopping lowblood cripple necks I ain't saying nothing
To the lowblood caught a sparkle in my eye
Boomshacka boomshacka hair jumps in the sky
Why I never liked lowblood pot pie?
was it really necessary to outline the corpse in neon green
1T H3LPS M3 “S33”.
D3L1C1OUS COCONUT-L1M3 CORPS3 BORD3R.
[cops are still milling about the orphanage, mostly carapace and troll. humans aren’t usually seen in this district of Newternia.
children can be heard playing in the other room. a record player skips to life.]
TH1S MUS1C 1S P3RF3CT!
you want a soundtrack to dust for prints
W3 MUST K33P 4 POS1T1V3 4TT1TUD3!
4 TRU3 L3G1SL4C3R4TOR W1LL N3V3R TURN H3R NOS3 FROM 4N 4PP4L1NG SP3CT4CL3 SUCH 4S TH1S. TH3 MOST 1MPORT4NT TH1NG 1N TH3 WORLD 1S TRUTH! TH3 ONLY TH1NG MOR3 1MPORT4NT TH4N TRUTH 1S JUST1C3!
youre making it sound like those two things are mutually exclusive
B3C4US3 SOM3T1M3S TH3Y 4R3 STR1D3R.
BUT PROB4BLY NOT 1N TH1S C4S3.
W3’LL S4V3 TH3 CH4LL3NG1NG CROSS CULTUR4L MOR4L D3B4T3S FOR 4NOTH3R D4Y.
R1GHT NOW, YOU T4K3 TH3 ROOM. 1LL T4K3 TH3 FLOOR!
>RESIST MAKING SEXUAL CRACK
>SHIT, SOMEONE GIVE THE MAN A MEDAL
>INSTEAD, WORRY ABOUT THE FACT THAT YOUR NEW PARTNER SEEMS TO BE SINGING ALONG (BADLY, WITH ALL THE WRONG LYRICS) TO THE MUSIC AS SHE WORKS AROUND THE CORPSE.
Ten 11 things you have learned about your new partner in the three terrible hours since meeting her.
11. Also, she’s a psycopath.
The first thing a human kid on their own in Newternia learns is to stay the fuck away from Highbloods.
Even Bro warned you. He told you to be wary of any horned fucker wearing colours teal to magenta. You watch Pyrope discreetly out of the corner of your shades- she’s slight, exceptionally so. Barely comes up to you shoulders with a waist you could practically get your hands all the way around. This would be diffusing if not for the fact that simply living to thirteen sweeps with a problem like blindness alone marks a troll as something formidable. Pyrope hums contently to herself as she makes grandiose gestures across the playroom, prodding (WITH SCALPEL) at the clay-like folds of putrefying skin around Nitram’s death wound. The image makes you kind of ill. You stop staring and follow orders like a good human.
>EXAMINE: TOY BOX
The murder weapon isn’t in here. You look pretty stupid rooting through this crap.
‘The Very Secret Diary of Spinneret Mindfang’, ‘How Full is Your Bucket?’, ‘The Fable of Fussy Two-Fangs’, ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Unearthing Ancient Ruins and Other Childhood Acitivites’
>EXAMINE... ACCOUNT BOOK?
What’s this doing here? You flip through it briefly, but it’s too much information to absorb on the spot.
>CAPTCHALOGUE ‘ACCOUNT BOOK’(1+2+2+1+1+2+2+2+1+1+2 = 17 % 10 = 1)
You cannot captchalogue the ACCOUNT BOOK because captchalogue technology will not exist for another fourty years.
>THEN HOW THE FUCK DO I HAVE A PAGER?
In the past people had to absorb information manually. You will have to parse the ACCOUNT BOOK for useful leads right now.
>ABSORB INFORMATION MANUALLY
work work shake it shake it up
work work oh a little bit of soul now
work work oh i’m working hard baby
The ACCOUNT BOOK is dreadfully boring and contains primarily MONTHLY BUDGET REPORTS.
However, you notice that Nitram accepted funding mostly from human organizations, hardly enough to pay the rent in Newternia’s Troll District.
>SKIP TO THE END OF THE BOOK
Sure enough there’s something suspicious back here.
Nitram was also being paid privately [ON THE SIDE] by several prominent highbloods.
[you turn to tell pyrope as she turns to alert you to her own find.]
pyrope take a loo-
OH MY GOD STR1D3R! LOOK 4T TH1S!
[she is waving a bloody fingernail in your face.]
shit pyrope would you warn a guy
WH4TS WRONG? YOU 4FR41D OF 4 L1TTL3 BLOOD?
i got what you might call a natural and healthy aversion to it
not everyone can be a flawless cannibal like you
H3Y, NO R34SON TO B3 4 SM4RT-4SS. TH1S 1S 4N 1MPORT4NT CLU3!
whos fingernail is it
1 DONT KNOW Y3T.
BUT TH3 4NGL3 4T WH1CH 1T W4S 3MB3DD3D SUGG3STS TH4T TH3 4BDOM1N4L WOUND W4S M4D3 W1TH TH3 K1LL3R’S B4R3 H4NDS.
thats an evocative image right there
that ones gonna stay with me and sing tender lullabies in my ear at night
but on that note i got something you might wanna look at as well
>TELL PYROPE WHAT YOU FOUND
[she presses her lips together humorlessly as she wipes down her hands]
TH3 POL1C3 W3R3NT V3RY THOROUGH!
C4NT S4Y 1M SURPR1S3D.
W3LL, 1 M34N.
H3 1S 4 LOWBLOOD 4FT3R 4LL.
[you: regard this woman carefully through the safety of your sunglasses. this is the deal maker or breaker right here]
what are we gonna do about it
H4 H4, 4R3 YOU S3R1OUS STR1D3R?
W3’R3 GO1NG TO SOLV3 TH1S C4S3!
D1DNT 1 JUST T3LL YOU W3’R3 S4V1NG TH3 MOR4L D3B4T3 FOR L4T3R?
JUST1CE 1S JUST1C3 1S JUST1C3, STR1D3R.
4ND TH3R3 1S NOTH1NG 1N TH1S WORLD TH4TS MOR3 1MPORT4NT.
[you think (a little against your will) that maybe she was right.
you two are going to make a terrifying team.]
>DETERMINE WHETHER YOU MEAN 'TERRIFYING' APPRAISINGLY OR LITERALLY
Chapter 4: my darling dear, i'm just a fool
>DAVE: RETURN TO SHITTY APARTMENT
Working the troll beat means working until dawn. The sun kills trolls and the nights in Newternia are long and angry. Humans aren’t meant to keep a nocturnal schedule and you’re pretty sure the bags under your eyes are like grave ditches at this point.
Good thing you never let anyone see your eyes.
Yeah, it’s pretty shitty.
>EXAMINE VARIOUS INTERESTS
You’re poor and don’t exactly have the money to pursue your many, varied interests. Save one-
You have a special interest in ABSTRACT CITYSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY. You operate an amateur black-room out of your kitchen. Your newly developed photographs are hanging to dry by the window.
[taken a few hours before dawn. your first night on a troll beat.]
[this might have been the last time you saw the sun.]
[it’s satisfying for some reason
when you get a photo with matching numbers down to the second.
[what the fuck is this
when the fuck is this?
you always date your photographs down to the second]
>BE TOO CALM AND ALL TOGETHER HARD-BOILED TO BE UNNERVED
>PUT THE MYSTERIOUS PHOTOGRAPH IN A DRAWER WITH ALL THE OTHER PHOTOGRAPHS YOU DON’T WANT TO LOOK AT AGAIN
Out of sight out of mind.
It’s been a long day, Strider. Get some fucking sleep.
[you’re not even close to being tired. fucking murder in an orphanage- that’s no mother goose lullaby]
>GET SOME SOOTHING AND WHOLESOME WARM MILK YOU BIG BABY
>OKAY WHISKEY WORKS TOO
[in dreams you’re thirteen again
this was your second time back at the orphanage
wasn’t so bad. at least that time you weren’t the only human there]
tell me what you see!
fuckin clouds harley
cumulonimbus pillars of ice dick far as the eye can see
cmon what did you think i was gonna say
yeah jade oh look a pony
i can see our future on that pony jade like a marshmallow equine miracle
i think it’s very sad
i used to see all of my dreams written out in the clouds.
which was scary sometimes but
are you saying you don’t have any dreams?
i got exactly one dream harley and thats to get us the hell outta here
us? ha ha ha
you think im leaving you here
were gettin out together
listen to you! trying to be my knight in shining armour!
i can take care of myself just fine thank you!
besides, i won’t be here much longer
i’m going to wake up soon!
thoth not this again
yes!!! this again!!!
it’s the most important thing there is!
youre crazy you know that
auugh, you are so frustrating!
dave, i don’t want to leave you here alone.
you have to wake up, you have to
i am awake
check out all this consciousness
you better be taking notes because im giving lessons on how to be as awake as possible here
you don’t understand anything!!!
we don’t have much time left, dave, please listen to me
you have to
[you wake up to the sound of your beeper going off. the sun’s going down]
>ANSWER ANACHRONISTIC COMMUNICATION DEVICE
5:48PM: STR1D3R! TH3R3’S B33N 4NOTH3R MURD3R!
Chapter 5: my lover stands on golden sands and watches the ships that go sailing
pyrope what is this
thats not what i
YOU DR1NK YOUR COFF33 BL4CK, R1GHT?
. . . yeah actually
how did you know
1T 1S 4 L3G1SL4C3R4TORS DUTY TO M4K3 S1M1L4R1LY BRO4D JUDG3M3NT C4LLS WH3N 1T COM3S TO THE MOT1V4T1ONS OF 4 CR1M1N4L M1ND. 1 K33P MY 1NST1NCTS SH4RP PR4CT1C1NG ON P3OPL3 WHO TRUST M3.
woah who says i trust you
movin a little fast here partner
YOUR3 4LR34DY S1PP1NG TH4T COFF33 1 BROUGHT YOU.
L3G1SL4C3R4TORS 4R3 KNOWN FOR “OFF1NG” TH31R 1NV3ST1G4T1ON T34M 1F TH31R P3RFORM4NC3 PROV3S UNS4T1SF4CTORY.
you saying i didnt satisfy you
NO, STR1D3R. YOU W3R3 P3RF3CT.
TH4TS WHY TH3 COFF33 1SNT PO1SON3D!
>OBSERVE TERRIFYING MONSTER PARTNER
[she is eating what appears to be a doughnut made entirely of red food dye. red sprinkles on red frosting on red velvet stuffed with red filling. probably because she is blind - and also maybe because she is insane - she does not seem to care that she smearing the filling all over her teeth and face, the maw of a shark that’s gotten a taste for blood.]
you want some doughnut with that amaranth pyrope
R3D 1S TH3 MOST D3L1C1OUS COLOUR!
you still havent answered my question
what is this
a new murder case already
4S L3G1SL4C3R4TOR 1T 1S MY DUTY -
>ALREADY BE SICK OF THE PHRASE “4 LEG1SL4C3R4TOR’S DUTY”
- TO CHOOS3 OUR C4S3S. 4S TH3 F1RST HUM4N D3T3CT1V3 1N N3WT3RN14, 1T 1S YOUR DUTY TO 4CC3PT MY CHO1C3S 4ND 4SS1ST M3 1N 4NY W4Y POSS1BL3.
right right ms the law
how could i forget
so explain this to me then what all that shit last night about justice is justice is justice was
if you were just going to drop nitrams case like a baby on the church steps
and pick up this new hot mess that reeks of highblood intrigue
OH. YOU’R3 4NGRY?
>SORT OF BE ANGRY
YOU D1DNT L3T M3 F1N1SH.
1 H4V3 C4US3 TO B3L13V3 TH4T TH1S MURD3R 1S 4CTU4LLY CONN3CT3D TO MR. N1TR4M’S!
why didnt you just say that
1 W4NT3D YOU TO GU3SS!
YOU JUST 4SK3D M3 TH4T! 1 4M V3RY S3R1OUS STR1D3R. 1 4M 4LW4YS S3R1OUS 4BOUT CR1M3!
>BE TWENTY SIX YEARS OLD AND PLAYING A JUVENILE GUESSING GAME
fine ill guess
give me the details pyrope
lay them on me
THE VERY ILL CASE OF FEFERI PEIXES
FACTS: Feferi Peixes is [was] the highest blood caste in Newternia, making her ward of the current Empermayor and prime candidate for next leader of the City. Despite her highblood status, she was intensely passionate about social reform and grassroots politics, spending most of her time moving through carapace social circles than amongst troll nobility.
Cause of death appears to be liquification of porous cells and internal hemorraging, likely caused by POISON. The toxicology returns have thusfar yeilded no results. An inscription was written at the murder site [victim’s bedroom], written in her own blood. The inscription reads:
Let's make love my sweet little dove
I wouldn't get near that pail without a glove
Cause it's sharks and minnows up in there
i see it
this nitram guy
was all subverting your fucked up social order
raising cute little orphans with gimp legs to be productive members of society
and the princess here was rearing up to pull some major internal revolution bullshit
what we got on our hands here is a defender of the old guard
yeah also i guess the near identical conditions of the murder scene might have also tipped you off
but thats a bit iffy
1 4M SO PROUD OF YOU!
YOU D1DNT 3V3N H3S1T4T3 1N M4K1NG TH3 L3SS OBV1OUS CONN3CT1ON F1RST!
STR1D3R, YOUR BR41N MUST SM3LL D3L1C1OUS R1GHT NOW!
>NO COMMENT, DUDE
UGH. TH3 POL1C3 4R3 TOO 4FR41D TO T4MP3R W1TH TH1S SC3N3 4T 4LL. W3’LL H4V3 TO DO 4LL TH3 WORK OURS3LV3S.
[she doesn’t sound very broken up about this at all. she paces the murder scene confidently, at home among the blood and corpses. it’s only your second day on the job here so you can’t help but watch her warily, eyes tracing the angles of her dainty body as she dips over the record player and turns it on.]
1T H3LPS M3 TH1NK!
1 L1K3 TO PUT MYS3LF 1N TH3 M1NDS3T OF BOTH TH3 K1LL3R 4ND TH3 V1CT1M. TH1NK 4BOUT 1T, STR1D3R- TH1S SONG 1S TH3 L4ST TH1NG SH3 3V3R H34RD!
>THINK ABOUT THIS
GOOD! W3 W3’LL B3 R1V3T3D TOG3TH3R! W3’R3 P4RTN3RS NOW, STR1D3R! W3 MUST TH1NK 4S ON3! L1ST3N AS ON3 4ND SM3LL 4S ON3!
whatever you say pyrope
>INV3ST1G4T3 AS ONE!
>EXAMINE POEM ON THE WALL
[the work of a truly deranged mind. now that you have two of these things, you can start comparing the themes and literary motifs, maybe come up with a rudimentary psych profile.
you can’t believe you just thought “literary motif” with this drivel in mind.
this is seriously the worst poem you’ve read in your life.]
[why does a grown woman - a budding politician at that - even own these things?
Jade loved these.]
>GIVE SQUIDDLES A CLOSER LOOK
>BE TANGLE BUDDIES?
[NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO]
>EXAMINE LETTER DESK
[you gotta be legitimately rich to have a whole desk just for letters. you use your one desk for everything. eating, writing, rolling smokes, whiskey- you are very dedicated to the hard-boiled life style.
there is a letter open on the desk.]
[well that sounds just about psychopathic enough to look into.
you take the letter and make note of the date and the sender.
only three days ago.]
>T3R3Z1: EX4M1N3 BROK3N W1NDOW
[TH3R3 1S BLOOD ON TH1S W1NDOW! 4ND 1T DO3SNT B3LONG TO TH3 V1CT1M!]
>T3R3Z1: EX4M1N3 BLOOD!
[d3l1c1ous c4ndy r3d]
STR1DER. 1 TH1NK SOM3ON3 H4S T4MP3R3D W1TH TH3 CR1M3 SC3N3.
what gives you that impression
MY FL4WL3SS L3G1SL4C3R4TOR 1NST1NCTS!
4LSO, TH1S W1NDOW 1S BROK3N. TH3 V1S1TOR L3FT SOM3 D3L1C1OUS BLOOD B3H1ND.
you dont think its the killers
NOP3. C4N’T B3.
id ask you why but you dont seem to need prompting here
take me by the hand pyrope and lead me through your magical investigation labyrinth
just dont expect me to lay down my life at the minotaur
1 4M CH4RM3D BY YOUR CONFUS1NG R3F3R3NC3 TO QU41NT HUM4N MYTHOLOGY 4ND THUS W1LL 1GNOR3 YOUR SMUG, H4RD-BO1L3D S4RC4SM!
1NST34D 1 W1LL 3SCH3W 4LL 3XP3CT4T1ONS 4ND SUCC1NCTLY 3XPL41N MY R34SON1NG.
TH3 MURD3R3R W3 4R3 LOOK1NG FOR 1S 4LMOST C3RT41NLY 4 TROLL.
4ND TH3 BLOOD ON TH1S W1NDOW 1S...
it’s not that crazy a revelation really.
there’s lots of humans in this city]
>PRETEND TO BE SHOCKED
[no way. you only have one facial expression and shocked isn’t any of them]
>ELIMINATE ALL OBVIOUS SCENARIOS TO EXPLAIN THIS ANOMALY
no chance were wrong about the killer
TH3 F1NG3RN41L 1 PULL3D OUT OF N1TR4M W4S TROLL. NO HUM4N WOULD H4V3 TH3 STR3NGTH TO DO TH4T B3S1D3S.
UNL1K3LY 4FT3R 4 S1NGL3 MURD3R
1 DOUBT 1T
no why would a human help out a crazy troll conservative
troll social order fucks us all sideways in the back alley
NON3 T4K3N. TH3 PROS3CUT1ON ACC3PTS YOUR ST4T3M3NT 4S F4CT.
you dont think
1T LOOKS L1K3 W3 M1GHT NOT B3 TH3 ONLY ON3S 4TT3MPT1NG TO SOLV3 TH1S C4S3.
>WORRY ABOUT THIS REVELATION LATER
>EXAMINE... VANITY DRESSER
[sea troll bullshit. gaudy, lacking in subtly. ms. peixes appears to have kept her window open to the ocean at all times- everything on this counter-top is coated in a thin haze of sea mist.
there’s something weird about that bottle.]
[that’s not sea-water. the wetness looks thicker. slick, oily.
>TAKE A BRIEF LOOK BEHIND YOU
[make sure pyrope doesn’t see what you’re about to do.]
>PICK UP THE BOTTLE
>NOTE OILY RESIDUE
>... SN1FF 4S ON3
[you recognize the smell due to one of your many gritty life experiences as an orphan turned street punk turned beat cop turned detective.
this bottle is coated in INSULIN.]
uh hey pyrope
the human drug insulin
this do anything for you guys or what
[you look at her as she starts to process this. her nose scrunches up in a way that might have been cute if she weren’t a shark monster woman.]
TH3 TOX1COLOGY L4B W4S ONLY LOOK1NG FOR TROLL PO1SONS!
TH3Y N3V3R WOULD H4V3 THOUGHT TO LOOK FOR ON3 OF YOUR 1NF3R1OR HUM4N DRUGS!
1 M34N, NO OFF3NS3.
just gonna note that our inferior human drugs took down your little miss princess ubermensch over here
W3LL, 1T 1S TOX1C TO TROLLS.
1T PUTS OUR M3T4BOL1SM 1NTO HYP3R-DR1V3. OUR C3LLS ST4RT 34T1NG TH3MS3LV3S 4ND TH3 F1N3 M3MBR4N3S 1N N34R TH3 SK1N ST4RT TO BR34K DOWN.
id just like to point out that this room seems to be coated in it
murder weapon secured i guess
HMM. TRU3, BUT.
[and she thoughtfully, deliberately, begins to fucking touch things.]
woah what the fuck are you doing
TH3R3 4R3N’T 4NY STUD13S DON3 ON TH3 3FF3CTS OF HUM4N DRUGS ON TROLL B1OLOGY WH3N 4PPL13D TOP1C4LLY. R3SULTS FROM 4 CORPS3 W1LL B3 T41NT3D. W3 N33D 4 T1MEFR4M3 ON TH1S MURD3R, STR1D3R.
yeah i saw that you thought words were coming out of your mouth there but all i heard was bullshit
R3L4X! TH3R3S 4 M3D1C4L T34M DOWNST41RS! 1LL B3 F1N3!
NOW K33P T1M3 UNT1L 1 ST4RT BL33D1NG. F1NG3RN41LS W1LL GO F1RST.
[you’re good at keeping time, never needed a fucking watch.
you know that your eyebrows are doing this funny little dance of disconcertingly open concern right now, but you’re revising your list again.
12. has a death wish
she skulks the room touching everything, real nonchalantly. you can’t stop staring.
it takes less than fifteen minutes.]
OH 1M F41NT!
W1LL TH3 STRONG ROOK13 D3T3CT1V3 B3 FORC3D TO C4RRY M3 DOWNST41RS L3ST 1 SUCCUMB TO TH1S T3RR1BL3 HUM4N PO1SON?
>CARRY THE LADY DOWNSTAIRS
[dude no way. she’s faking it.]
not even falling for that one
come on we got shit to do
gonna be so embarrassed if you die like this
. . .
terezi pyrope you are one crazy bitch
Chapter 6: i like my town with a little drop of poison
>EXAMINE STAINED GLASS
[the devilbeast challenges the horror terrors. he draws blood with his blade, but he cannot pierce darkness. it is that darkness which hath created the universe and cradles us in darkest dreams
blah blah blah
something like that. you never fucking paid attention in church as a kid.]
>SHIT YOU ARE SO HARD-BOILED
forgive me sister for i have sinned
I’d gathered as much. Old habits die hard, do they not, Strider?
pure living keeps us apart too long lalonde
dont pretend you dont live your pious days longing for the chance to get your spooky little nun claws buried in my grey matter
And what existential quandaries weigh heavily on your hardened heart tonight that they require such delicate nun claw extraction?
all of them
im so existential kierkegaard would be jealous
As charming as your diffusive half-answers are, I’m afraid the the church is currently over-taxed on pity and I know that you never leave a donation. Salvation is not free in this day and age, Strider.
every time i leave you steal a bit of my soul
Oh, be still my heart. Say no more, these sweet mutterings, lest I cast off my nun-ly vows and turn apostate for want of your manly, hard-boiled charms. They are so flawlessly constructed and sincere, how could I ever resist?
dont get excited lalonde i was being literal there
i think i got a little less soul every time i walk out those doors
religion is bad news thats why i stick to liquor and jazz
The most glamorous of all sins. I expected no less. But let us try for once to stay on task. Strider, for what sins do you require salvation? Keep the list short, I’m a busy woman.
no sins just
im having dreams again
not even strange ones just
The church cannot take away your dreams. Only the Horrorterros can grant you the peace of total dark and I cannot see you surrendering your immortal soul anytime soon.
tell me about how well you sleep at night lalonde
sing me a sonnet about it
and maybe ill consider it
I do not sleep anymore. The Horrorterros have granted me such gifts.
And you do not “sing” sonnets.
oh wow semantics
can rose lalonde remove her lips from the puckered ass of semantics for one fucking minute here and have pity on us lesser mortals
Can David Strider for one moment ask a straight question? How did you ever make Detective with your hopelessly evasive dialogue?
Naturally. How foolish of me to question the merit of your accomplishments.
Since your require such endless and delicate coaxing, how about this? I will ask the questions.
Do you want me to have a look? Do you want me inside of your dreams, Dave?
out of my dreams and into my car
as in the back seat
cast of your nun-ly vows lalonde and lets go
If you could even afford a car I still would not give this invitation consideration. Let’s all be serious here. Let’s try our very hardest.
yeah i do okay
take your fucking dream scalpel to the membrane here
i wont even resist
>HAVE THE DREAM SCALPEL PIERCE THE GODDAMN MEMBRANE
>LET THIS SPOOKY GRIMDARK NUN CRACK OPEN YOUR BRAIN AND PULL OUT YOUR DREAM
What do you see?
what do i see
well theres two of me
im like twelve or something
and ones holding a sword
the other is asleep
this looks like just about the lamest metaphor for suicide
That’s because you have no imagination. Dreams are hardly literal beasts.
‘Strider doth murder sleep’.
The Knight holds the sword and he represents the swiftness of arrival. Your dream is stationary, however - you are hesitant for some reason.
hesitant to do what
eviscerate my handsome twin here
No, to wake up.
>LALONDE PLEASE FUCKING CLARIFY
[you cannot ask for clarification because your pager begins to go off.]
>ANSWER YOUR PARTNER EVEN THOUGH YOU JUST SAW HER TO THE FOUR WHEELED VEHICLE DESIGNATED TO DEALING WITH MEDICAL EMERGENCIES LIKE TWO HOURS AGO
3:24AM: STR1D3R! 1 N33D TO S33 YOU 1MM3D14T3LY. PL34S3 M33T M3 4T O’M4L1C3’S ON 34TH 4S SOON 4S POSS1BL3!
duty calls with teeth and claws and the most obnoxious voice i ever heard
Working with a troll surely cannot be so terrible.
its my own private hell lalonde
troll partner troll murder case troll murderer probably
This is the life you asked for, Strider.
no fuck it
i was looking to make a difference
not just become a cog in the fucking machine
and how do i always end up saying lame comic book shit like that around you
forget this ever happened
forget i even came here
As all our correspondence ends on a similar note, I will bow to tradition and wipe our interaction from my normally steel-trap memory.
youre an angel
Peace of the eternal darkness be with you too, Dave.
Chapter 7: stars shining bright above you
>GET THERE FIRST
You know O’Malice’s well- it’s a troll joint run by the dirt-lowest of maroon lowbloods. Only place you ever seen where humans and trolls get on like one side’s not viciously oppressing the other. That’s fine- you’ve got nothing against lowbloods, but it’s kind of questionable that Pyrope would pick this dive of all places. You can’t imagine the traditional clientele taking kindly to a highblood slumming it with the natives.
Not that they could do anything about it.
They’re playing human music tonight. Good thing too since Troll music is confusing, atonal bullshit.
[she arrives, tap tap taping along with her cane. her fingers are bandaged (tinged with teal still) but she’s notably alive and in her civvies.
seriously? her civvies?]
sweet horrorterror gods
what is she playing at?]
>HOPE DESPERATELY THIS ISN’T THE PART OF THE MOVIE WHERE THE HARD-BOILED DETECTIVE DISCOVERS THAT HIS FORMERLY UNAPPEALING PARTNER IS ACTUALLY REALLY BEAUTIFUL AND SEXY AND ALL THAT UNDER HER STIFF, DRESSED UP (PSYCHOPATHIC) PROFESSIONAL FACADE.
[as if you would ever be attracted to a troll, especially a highblood.
but seriously what the fuck is she wearing.]
STR1D3R! TH4NK YOU FOR COM1NG!
what the fuck are you wearing
MY T4ST13ST DR3SS. 4PPL3B3RRY SMOOTH13 W1TH 4 CH3RRY C3NT3R.
1 D1DN’T T4K3 YOU FOR 4 F4SH1ON1ST4.
[she slides onto the stool next to you and nods at the bartender. TH3 USU4L. you cock an eyebrow curiously.]
this a social call pyrope
you move fast but im not that kind of girl
YOU W3R3 4LR34DY DR1NK1NG! TH3R3 1S 4N 3ST4BL1SH3D PR3C3D3NT!
4ND NO, TH1S 1S 4LL BUS1N3SS!
V3RY 1MPORT4NT BUS1N3SS TH4T 1 C4N ONLY T3LL YOU 4BOUT 1N STR1CT CONF1D3NC3.
[the bartender brings her a whiskey on the rocks. you look at your own glass and realize you’re drinking the same thing. she’s got the same “usual” as you.]
>GIVE HER AN ESPECIALLY WITHERING LOOK
>FROM BEHIND YOUR GLASSES
>NOT THAT SHE COULD SEE IT ANYWAY
that drink isnt even trying for wacky colours
1T H4S 4 V3RY SUBTL3 Y3T SMOOTH C4R4M3L CORN FL4VOUR.
[that is not at all what you taste when you drink whiskey.]
>WISH THAT WAS WHAT YOU TASTED WHEN YOU DRANK WHISKEY
how does that even work
does your third eye tongue override normal flavours or whatever
you get overloaded and od when shits too bright
HMMM. 1 DON’T KNOW 4CTU4LLY. WH3N 1 COULD S33 TH1NGS ST1LL H4D TH31R NORM4L FL4VOUR.
1 H4DN’T R34LLY THOUGHT 4BOUT TH4T TO B3 HON3ST.
[“when i could see?”]
>BE INTERESTED IN THE IMPLICATION OF THAT STATEMENT
>BE NOT AT ALL INTERESTED IN THE IMPLICATION OF THAT STATEMENT
howd you go blind
4R3 YOU 1NT3R3ST3D 1N MY H4RDBO1L3D B4CKSTORY, STR1D3R?
no not at all
not like youre in any way unusual or anything
not like all this weird tongue eye bullshit is something we humans see everyday
not like its weird or anything for a highblood to just waltz into a place like this and know the owner
4UGH. TH1S 4G41N. WH4T 1S 1T W1TH YOU 4ND TH3 H3MOSP3CTRUM? YOU 4R3N’T 3V3N 4 TROLL 4ND YOU K33P WH1N1NG 4BOUT 1T!
what isnt it like the most important thing to you assholes or something
1 H4V3 4LW4YS THOUGHT TH4T OTH3R TH1NGS 4R3 MOR3 1MPORT4NT.
FUNNY TH4T YOU 4CCUS3 M3 OF M4K1NG TH1S 4 SOC14L C4LL 4ND NOW YOU’R3 TH3 ON3 4SK1NG M3 4LL TH3 P3RSON4L QU3ST1ONS!
1S TH1S SOM3 SORT OF STR4NG3, HUM4N R3V3RS3 FL1RT1NG R1TU4L? H3H3H3H3.
GOOD, B3C4US3 TH3N 1 WOULD B3 FORC3D TO S4DLY 1NFORM YOU TH4T 1 DO NOT M1X BUSIN3SS 4ND PL34SUR3.
WH1CH 4CTU4LLY 1S WH4T TH1S L1TTL3 M33T1NG 1S 4BOUT!
wow smoothest of segways there pyrope
1 KNOW! 1T 1S 4 T4L3NT OF M1N3! 1 4M TH3 M4ST3R OF S34ML3SS TR4NS1T1ONS.
you just merged eight lanes on the highways and there was only one accident
W4S 1T F4T4L?
family of five
just the youngest kid died but it tore the family apart
mom was on valium a month later
dad took his own life with a shotgun in the garage
their oldest son carl had to take over the family business at eighteen
the neighbours never bring it up though
TH4T 1S 4 GR1SLY STORY, STR1D3R.
1 M1GHT 3V3N V3NTUR3 TO C4LL 1T.... H4RDBO1L3D.
look we doing professional business story time here or what
JUST STOP 1NT3RRUPT1NG M3.
OK4Y TH1S 1S SOM3TH1NG 1 PROB4BLY SHOULDN’T H4V3 W41T3D SO LONG TO T3LL YOU.
weve been working together what
two three days
Y3S, BUT TH1S 1S SOM3TH1NG 1 SHOULD H4V3 TOLD YOU 1MM3D14T3LY S1NC3 1T M1GHT PROV3 TO H4V3 4N 4DV3RS3 3FF3CT ON TH3 C4S3.
1T’S 4BOUT MY OLD P4RTN3R.
were they a crazy highblood too
TH3R3 YOU GO 4BOUT BLOOD 4G41N!
SH3 W4S 4 D3T3CT1V3, JUST L1K3 YOU, 3XC3PT UNL1K3 YOU SH3 CH34T3D TO G3T WH3R3 SH3 W4S W1TH H3R M1ND CONTROL POW3RS.
which im sure is a perfectly valid course of action in troll society right
VR1SK4 4ND 1 W3R3 TH3 B3ST, THOUGH. 4 F34R3D T34M L1K3 NO OTH3R. TH3 UND3RWORLD KN3W US 4S TH3 “SCOURG3 S1ST3RS”!
familiar with this duo.
you didn’t realize she was one of them.]
>LOOK AT PYROPE IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT
[metaphorical light. the lighting in here is still dim as all get out and even under a bright light you’re sure she’d still be grainy and monochrome and wearing a hideous colour combination.]
you two have a falling out then
1 H4D US PULL3D FROM TH3 M1DN1GHT CR3W 1NV3ST1G4T1ON B3C4US3 SH3 W4S G3TT1NG 1RR4T1ON4L. 4ND 1T W4S G3TT1NG D4NG3ROUS.
TH3N SH3 W3NT ROGU3! 4LL H3R WORST 1NST1NCTS C4M3 OUT. 1 WOULDN’T B3 SURPR1S3D 1F OUR N3XT C4S3 W4S TO T4K3 H3R DOWN TO B3 HON3ST.
SH3S ST1LL TRY1NG TO C4TCH SP4D3S SL1CK, BUT SH3S B3COM3 4LMOST 4S B4D 4S H1M 1N TH3 PROC3SS!
hows this affecting our case right now
SH3’S OBSS3SS3D W1TH ON3-UP1NG P3OPL3, 3SP3C14LLY M3.
WH3N 1 W4S 1N TH3 HOSP1T4L 1 R3C13V3D COOR3SPND3NC3 FROM H3R TH4T SH3 1NT3NDS TO SOLV3 OUR CURR3NT C4S3 4ND T4K3 DOWN TH3 MURD3R3R.
UGH. SH3 DO3SNT C4R3 4BOUT JUST1C3, JUST GLORY!
SH3S 4LW4YS B33N L1K3 TH4T.
so what do you need me to do
JUST W4TCH OUT FOR H3R.
K33P 4LERT FOR 4NYON3 M3SS1NG 4ROUND 1NS1D3 YOUR H34D. HUM4NS 4R3 3SP3C14LLY SUSC3PT1BL3.
wait you dont think
that maybe the human blood at the last crime scene was a result of her using her brain juju on some unwitting patsy
TH1S 1S 4 POSS1B1L1TY TH4T H4D NOT 3SC4P3D MY NOT1C3!
1 4CTU4LLY SUSP3CT3D 1T B3FOR3 SH3 CONT4CT3D M3, BUT D1DN’T W4NT TO S4Y 4NYTH1NG UNT1L 1 W4S SUR3!
[she’s grinning again.
actually, you gotta describe that one more as “beaming”.
this crazy troll woman is beaming at you. it’s a bad situation, dude. get outta there.]
>GET OUTTA THERE
okay stay away from highblood loose canon
keep her sticky fingers outta my brain
suspect everyone around me of mind control
we done here
MOR3 OR L3SS. 1 TH1NK YOUV3 GOT A GOOD H4NDL3 ON TH3 S1TU4T1ON.
im outta here then
long night tommorrow pyrope cant begrudge a man for getting an early morning
4T L34ST ST4Y UNT1L 1 F1N1SH MY DR1NK!
1’LL T3LL YOU MY 3XC33D1NGLY H4RDBO1L3D B4CKSTORY!
>PUT SOME REAL THOUGHT INTO THIS
[you could really go for another whiskey. you definitely could.]
>NO DUDE GET OUTTA THERE
>THIS IS HOW TROLLS GET THEIR HOOKS IN
>ASK YOU OUT FOR DRINKS AND THEN THEY CANNIBALIZE YOUR CORPSE
some other time pyrope
[you nudge your empty glass towards the bar and leave the tender a tip before getting up.]
S33 YOU TOMMORROW “COOLK1D”.
what did you just call me
4S 1N MOCK1NG TH3 F4CT TH4T TH3 COMM1SS1ON3R 4LW4YS C4LLS YOU “K1D” 4ND TH3N 4DD1T1ON4LLY MOCK1NG TH3 F4CT TH4T YOU 4R3 4PP4R3NTLY TOO COOL TO 3V3N H4V3 4 FR13NDLY DR1NK W1TH M3.
that is an exceedingly asinine thing to call me
and please never say it again
WH4T3V3R M4K3S YOU F33L B3TT3R, STR1D3R.
[you drop a quarter in the jukebox on your way out and start the song over again.]
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me
Yes, dream a little dream of me
Chapter 8: when i'm alone and blue as can be
You have learned that it’s better to just let him go when he’s angry. The Authoritative Redresser’s moods are the only capricious thing about him. He’s a hair-trigger temper with a detailed eye an obsession with details, like someone crossed a law textbook with a very excitable small dog. That’s a pretty good metaphor and you’re never gonna say it out loud. What- do you want your badge stripped? You worked too goddamn hard to get this thing.
Either way it’s not like his rage is unprecedented at the moment. Pyrope sits beside you with her pointy arms crossed and a petulant pout plastered all over her even pointier face. Her fingers are still bandaged and while you are... reluctantly impressed by her dedication to the job, you gotta admit that she had this speech coming.
1 DONT KNOW. 4 LOT OF TROUBL3?
>ARE YOU EVEN FOLLOWING THIS CONVERSATION?
[no, you are totally following this conversation.
1F TH3 OFF3NS3 W4S 3XTR3M3, H1S TYR4NNY WOULD 3V3N SH4R3 W1TH TH3 4BOM1N4BL3 JURY.
>FUCKING TROLLS MAN
BUT W3 W3R3NT F1N1SH3D 1NV3ST1G4T1NG! 4 B1OH4Z4RD T34M W1LL 3R4S3 4LL TH3 CLU3S!
[the Authoritative Redresser puffs extra hard on his menthol cigarette. that’s how you know he’s serious.]
[pyrope gets up all in a huff and storms out.]
you know shell probably just go right back to the mansion right
yeah sure troll babysitting
[he calms down a little, leaning back in his chair and exhaling almost... nostalgically?]
>TAKE THIS ADVICE TO HEART
[your heart might be hard-boiled, but it is not immune to an old-timer’s vaguely vicarious musings. his words warm the cockles off that bitch.]
[luckily, she hasn’t gone far. she’s standing in the middle of the hall leaning on her cane. you can’t see her face, but you can imagine she’s still making that dumb puffed-cheeks expression.]
1M GO1NG B4CK.
i figured that but by the way im not supposed to let you go
WH4T, 4R3 YOU GO1NG TO STOP M3?
youre like what a hundred pounds soaking wet guess i could take you
be kinda like fighting a toothpick sculpture though
or an umbrella made of knives
OOOH, YOUR3 SUUUUCH 4 W1S3GUY. NORM4LLY 1 WOULD F1ND TH1S 3ND34R1NG, BUT R1GHT NOW YOUR3 JUST G3TT1NG ON MY N3RV3S!
yeah well my sympathys not exactly in prime fighting condition right here pyrope
if you were so concerned about combing that place over with a fine tooth comb
you probably shoulda finished doing it before you pulled a socrates
1M SO GL4D MY N3W P4RTN3R H4S MY B4CK! WH4T 4 R3LI3F.
yeah i know im a pretty great guy
anyways made up my mind
im not going to stop you
im gonna ask you
hey terezi pyrope
dont fucking go back to that crime scene
NOW 1 4M TR4PP3D!
BY YOUR N3F4R1OUS 4ND TOT4LLY SMOOTH SHOW OF N34R S1NC3R1TY!
TH1S 1S 3NTR4PM3NT, MR. STR1D3R.
[finally, she turns around and it’s nice to see her gearing up for that maniac grin again. It means that you’re winning.]
just trying for some quality cultural exchange here
SUCH 4 W1S3GUY.
no just hard-boiled as fuck
1 H4V3 SUR3LY N3V3R 1N MY L1F3 3NCOUNT3R3D SUCH 4 H4RD-BO1L3D HUM4N.
if you had id have to hunt the poor guy down and give him a stern talking to
in yknow a smokey back alley
probably behind a pool hall or something
4ND H3D FOLD L1K3 4 D3CK OF C4RDS.
all whimpering and offering me a comically large stack of bills in exchange for mercy
1 B3T H3 W4SNT 3V3N W34R1NG 4 TR3NCHCO4T.
nope just a pea coat
>QUIT THIS EMBARRASSINGLY JOVIAL BANTER
L13S! TH3R3 1S NOTH1NG B3TT3R!
what about a lead
[pyrope tilts her head to the side, her mouth practically forming a question mark.
[show pyrope what?]
[you have selected “creepy stalker love note”]
>SHOW PYROPE THE “CREEPY STALKER LOVE NOTE”
[she taps a narrow finger to her chin in thought.]
[who’s this douchebag?]
H3 W4S ON3 OF TH3 H1GHBLOODS FUND1NG T4VROS N1TR4M, W4SNT H3?
you recognize the name
H3S ON3 OF TH3 R1CH3ST H1GHBLOODS 1N TH3 C1TY, BUT 1 C4NT S4Y W3 MOV3 1N TH3 S4M3 SOC14L C1RCL3S.
1V3 H34RD SOM3 UNPL34S4NT RUMOURS 4BOUT H1M, THOUGH.
unpleasant like what he murdered his girlfriend
NO. UNPL34S4NT L1K3 H3 BUYS OFF POOR HUM4NS FROM HOM3L3SS SH3LT3RS, T4K3S TH3M OUT 1NTO TH3 W1LD3RN3SS 4ND TH3N HUNTS TH3M FOR SPORT.
>DON'T SHOW HOW APPALLED YOU ARE BY THIS IDEA
>SEETH QUIETLY, IN A HARD-BOILED MANNER
HOW3V3R, 1T SHOULDNT B3 TOO H4RD TO F1ND H1M. TH4T 1S, 1F YOU 4R3 TH1NK1NG WH4T 1M TH1NK1NG.
course i am
lets pay the creep a visit
[her grin gets so wide you’re afraid it’s actually going to split her mouth in half. wouldn’t that be a sight. she laughs a little in that terrifying brey of hers and loops one of her arms through yours jokingly.]
JUST FOLLOW ME, STR1D3R!
W3LL G3T TO TH3 BOTTOM OF TH1S 1N NO T1M3!
[there is nothing more pure and strong in this world than the bond between those united of the path of the law!]
Chapter 9: i won't livve in a wworld wwithout lovve
>ARRIVE AT: AMPORA’S MARINA-MANSION
yeah so we just gonna knock and hope he lets us in
L3G1SL4C3R4TORS DONT N33D TO KNOCK!
>YEAH, JUST SORT OF... WALTZ RIGHT THE FUCK IN
The place is downright decadent, gilded in gold and garnet with spiral stairways and arching picture windows open to the dark, dark sea. Your clothes feel more expensive just being surrounded by this shit. If you were the kind of guy to feel envious, you’d be drowning in some bitterness right now over the meager means by which you’ve been forced to live since pretty much day one. Crippling poverty builds character, however, so you’re not gonna hold it against this guy that he’s likely a total scumbag thanks to all this fucking finery.
Someone is playing break-up songs with the volume turned to eleven upstairs, pained howls drifting down the gold-lined, marble staircase.
[you shoot pyrope a questioning look but she just starts up the stairs.]
[there’s no one else in the mansion, but that’s no surprise. most trolls live a private life of solitude as far as you understand, unless they’ve volunteered to take on a blood-caste youngling or otherwise are involved in one of those weird friend-marriages. the two of you INVESTIGATE.]
A GUN ROOM
A LARGE CLOSET filled with leisure suits in various shades of PURPLE
A BATHROOM larger than your entire apartment. it reeks of sea-water.
A TROPHY ROOM. there are what appear to be HUMAN BONES mounted on the wall.]
you know what fuck this guy
are you seriously looking at me all confused pyrope
oh no what could he possibly be upset about
OH, W3LL, Y3S. 1 4DM1T TH4T 1T 1S V3RY UPS3TT1NG!
1 4POLOG1Z3 FOR MY 1N4PPROP14T3LY M1LD R34CT1ON. BUT 1T 1S 1MPORT4NT TO R3L3G4T3 4NY P3RSON4L F33L1NGS UNT1L 4FT3R TH3 1NT3RROG4T1ON.
the fucker kills humans for fun
thats not personal feelings
fuck this asshole hes a psychopath
mark against him ect
. . . TH4TS WH4T 1M T4LK1NG 4BOUT. HUNT1NG UNDOCUM3NT3D HUM4NS 1SNT 4CTU4LLY 1LL3G4L. 1N F4CT, TH3 GOV3RNM3NT CONS1D3RS 1T 4N 4CC3PT4BL3- 1F NOT OFF1C14LLY CONDON3D- M3THOD OF QU3LL1NG BLOODLUST.
>LIGHT ANOTHER CIGARETTE
4ND 31TH3R W4Y, 1T H4S NOTH1NG TO DO W1TH TH3 MURD3R OF F3F3R1 P31X3S.
4LL 1M S4Y1NG 1S TH4T W3 C4NNOT 4LLOW 4NYTH1NG TO B14S OUR OP1NION OF MR. 4MPOR4 4S1D3 FROM H1S OWN WORDS!
i said right
thoth lets get the fuck out of here
>GET THE FUCK OUT
You find him in the last room on the second floor sobbing into a very expensive writing desk. You nudge the door open, the sappy music shaking the walls as he wails. Pyrope turns the volume down (you can’t really appreciate the irony of the situation right now, unfortunately) and he looks up forlornly, chin cradled in his folded arms.
He’s primped and preened and scrawny- all pale and delicate and kind of sickly looking with carefully coiffed, coloured hair and glasses thick enough he might be blinder than Pyrope. The anger drains out of you as you wonder how the hell this douchebag managed to murder anything. He looks oddly un-bothered by your presence in his house.
wwhat do you wwant
[his accent is thick and wavy, though his melodramatic sorrow’s got him sounding more than a little warbly]
holy shit dude its santa clause
what do you think you moron
1 4POLOG1Z3 FOR MY P4RTN3RS L4CK OF D3CORUM. MY N4M3 1S T3R3Z1 PYROP3. 1 4M 4 L3G1SL4C3R4TOR 4ND TH1S 1S D3T3CT1V3 D4V3 STR1D3R.
a fuckin human dectective
no fuckin wway
what you gonna put me on your trophy wall
you think im dumb enough to try that shit wwith a detectivve
that wwould be unconscionable
anywway its not illegal
if youre here to tell me to stop youvve picked the wwrong day
W3R3 H3R3 4BOUT TH3 MURD3R OF F3F3R1 P31X3S. W3D L1K3 TO 4SK YOU 4 F3W... FR13NDLY QU3ST1ONS.
[he starts sobbing again, burying his face in his arms.]
[you give pyrope a look.]
[why do you keep doing that? woman is blind. can’t take your visual queues.]
SO YOU W3R3 4QU41NT3D W1TH TH3 L4T3 P31X3S?
i wwas more than glubbin aqua-ainted wwith her
she wwas the pearl in my clam
jewwel of my ocean depths
the light shimmerin at the surface
she wwas everythin
[ampora stops crying suddenly and shifts awkwardly, drawing himself into a sitting position.]
[pyrope gives YOU the look this time and because your eyes work, you pick up on it.]
we got a letter here dated three days before the murder
implies that just maybe your jewel of the ocean didnt want anything to do with you
[his lower lip trembles, but this time it’s in anger.]
wwho are you to judge
it wwas only a temporary situation
she was comin around
i knoww she wwas
WHY DONT YOU 3XPL41N TH3 WHOL3 “S1TU4T1ON” TO US, MR. 4MPOR4.
[he gulps. all trolls know to fear the legislacerator. the law doesn’t care about your blood colour.]
look she wwas my moirail okay
only my feelins wwere a little more flushed if you knoww wwhat i mean
made things kinda awwkwward
“fef fef so sorry whatever i did i can make up for it”
sounds a little more than just awkward there buddy
wwhy am i being questioned by a human
you couldnt possibly understand troll romance
YOU 4R3 B31NG QU3ST1ON3D BY 4 HUM4N B3C4US3 H3 1S MY P4RTN3R 4ND 1 W4NT H1M TO QU3ST1ON YOU!
[ampora fixes his watery eyes on your with a pure and near tangible resentment.]
maybe i pushed my red feelings a bit too hard
point is i wwas glubbin apologizin and fefs a saint okay
she is the purest most beautiful soul evver wwalked this shitty planet and she wwas gonna forgivve me
you sure about that
c-c-course i am
yeah real easy to be certain when shes dead isnt it
ww-wwhat are you implyin
WH4T H3S TRY1NG TO S4Y 1S TH4T YOU 4R3 CURR3NTLY UND3R SUSP1C1ON FOR H3R MURD3R.
[she tips forward, cane keeping her balance. her mouth is wide like a shark going in for the kill. you never heard such a cheerful murder accusation in your entire life.]
4S R3SPONS1BL3 4G3NTS OF TH3 L4W W3 MUST 3XHU4ST 4LL POSS1BL3 SC3N4R1OS, MR. 4MPOR4, 4ND YOU MUST 4DM1T TH4T TH1S 1S D3F1N1T3LY 4 L1K3LY ON3.
after all if “fef”’s dead she can never disappoint you by not “comin around” right
1T 4LL M4K3S P3RF3CT S3NS3- 4 R3J3CT3D FLUSH3D SU1TOR, UN4BL3 TO CONTROL H1S VOL4T1L3 3MOT1ONS...
HOW LONG H4S 1T B33N S1NC3 YOU W3R3 L4ST HUNT1NG, MR. 4MPOR4?
YOU C4N 4LW4YS G3T OFF ON 4 PL34 OF BLOODLUST, H3H3H3H3.
[ampora flies from his seat and...
. . . grips the front of your trench-coat desperately.]
oh wow get the fuck off me
please dont let her cull me
im glubbin innocent you gotta believe me
YOUR3 PL34D1NG W1TH TH3 WRONG M4N. H3 S4W YOUR TROPHY ROOM.
cmon givve me a break here
those aint evven real most of them
i buy them on the fuckin black market
yes seriously wwhat do you think i am
why would you ever do something like that
its called keeping up wwith the glubbin neighbours
you dont understand wwhat its like to be a highblood
its hard and nobody understands
[you deftly remove ampora’s hands from your collar.]
so you claim that you had nothing to do with peixes murder
course i didnt
then can we ask you a few questions about tavros nitram
wwho the fuck is that
4 LOWBLOOD WHO R4N 4N ORPH4N4G3 FOR D3F3CT1V3S. H3 W4S MURD3R3D TWO D4YS B3FOR3 MS. P31X3S. W3 H4V3 R34SON TO B3L13V3 TH4T TH3 MURD3RS 4R3 CONN3CT3D!
i already said i didnt do it
wwhy wwould i knoww anything about some lowwblood and his abomination orphanage
because your name is on a list of donors moron
how could you be funneling money into this place and not even know the guys name
UNL3SS YOU 4R3 LY1NG TO US!
n-no i aint lying
look the thing is fef wwas my moirail up until recently
and she put all kinds of money into glubbin charities i dont knoww anythin about
wow thats pathetic
4CTU4LLY, TH4TS PR3TTY COMMON 4MONG W34LTHY MO1R41LS.
STR1D3R, TRY TO B3 4 L1TTL3 MOR3 CULTUR4LLY S3NS1T1V3 1N FRONT OF SUSP3CTS PL34S3!
YOUR3 3MB4RR4SS1NG M3!
my point is wwhy single me out
wwhy not do your glubbin job
i cant be the only donor on this list connected to fef
noww that i think about it if this is the orphanage im thinkin of then fef wwas actually that misfits primary voucher wwhen cullin time came and she wwerent the only one that spoke up for him
i havve no stake in it
i just wwish fef didnt havve to suffer for it
[oh shit, crying again.
you see pyrope shrug at you over his sob-wracked frame. you two are done here for the night, you guess. you leave him alone with his sad songs and see yourselves out.]
WH4T DO YOU TH1NK?
hes so guilty its like hes a pardoy of guilt
like watching fuckin charlie chaplin trying to play a murderer except chaplin would tone it down
ampora was laying it on so thick im surprised we didnt drown in it
1 DONT TH1NK SO 4CTU4LLY.
>STARE AT HER FLATLY
youre kidding me right
[she shakes her head, a farway expression on her face.]
NO. 1 M34N 1T. 1 DONT TH1NK H3 D1D 1T.
yeah okay so what are you basing that on
haha real funny pyrope
lets be serious here
1 4M B31NG S3R1OUS!
L3G1SL4C3R4TORS 4R3NT M4D3, STR1D3R. TH3YR3 BORN. 1T R3L13S 4S MUCH ON 1NST1NCT 4S 1T DO3S 3XP3RT1S3.
check out how much im buying that
DONT MOCK M3, STR1D3R. 1TS 4 TR4D1T1ON TH4T D4T3S B4CK TO TH3 OLD3ST D4YS OF OUR 3MP1R3, LONG B3FOR3 W3 M4D3 CONT4CT W1TH PROSP1T 4ND D3RS3. LONG B3FOR3 HUM4NS COULD 3V3N WR1T3 OR SP34K 1 B3T!
so much for cultural sensitivity
SHHH! 1TS TH3 TRUTH!
4 THOUS4ND Y34RS 4GO TH3 F4MOUS L3G1SL4C3R4TOR R3DGL4R3 WROT3 OUR L3G4L COD3!
TH3Y S4Y TH4T WH3N SH3 W4S 4 N3OPHYT3, SH3 BL1ND3D H3RS3LF W1LL1NGLY SO TH4T H3R 1NST1NCTS WOULD B3COM3 MOR3 F1N3LY 4TTUN3D. SH3 R3J3CT3D 4LL 34RTHLY D1STR4CT1ONS TO FOCUS ON H3R TRU3 C4LL1NG- JUST1C3!
that what you did then
you blinded yourself so you could be like your hero redeye
H4H4H4, YOU R34LLY 4R3 CUR1OUS 4BOUT MY 3Y3S, 4R3NT YOU?
TH4TS F1N3, B3C4US3 1 4M CUR1OUS 4BOUT YOURS 4S W3LL.
[and she stops and -
>STOP THAT SHIT FROM GOING DOWN
[you smoothly duck away.]
no way pyrope
1 C4NT QU1T3 SM3LL TH3M UND3R TH3R3, BUT 1 H4V3 TH1S SN34K1NG SUSP1C1ON...
hey werent we talking about you
[she backs off and starts walking again.]
DO YOU R34LLY W4NT TO KNOW?
YOU C4NT JUST SHOW OBV1OUS 1NT3R3ST 4ND TH3N PR3T3ND YOU DONT C4R3!
DO YOU W4NT TO KNOW HOW 1 W3NT BL1ND OR NOT?
1 ST4R3D 1NTO TH3 SUN.
1 LOOK3D 1NTO TH3 GR33N SUN 4ND 1T BURNT MY 3Y3S.
why would you do such a fucking asinine thing pyrope
what were you curious
. . .
. . . Y3S.
>REPLY TO THAT
[no dude. there’s nothing to say.
hardcore pretty fucking stupid.]
4 CR4ZY B1TCH?
the craziest i ever met
[her laugh echos in the empty steet.]
Chapter 10: when i feel that i can't go on, those precious words keep me hanging on
Despite everything, you and Pyrope take Ampora’s advice and spend the next bleak and dreary week and a half going through every name in Tavros Nitram’s appointment book. You’re treated to a lot of disdainful snorts, a lot of “pretend the human’s not here”, all in all a lot of high blood bullshit. Pyrope is flawless in her interrogation method- you learn that she is a low caste of blue. “Best suited to booooooooring bureaucr8cy” her old partner used to say, but Terezi wields her red tape like a whip and then she yanks it tight like a noose.
Not that you’re getting soft and developing begrudging admiration here or anything.
Point is questioning cushy aristocrats is chump work, even if it is safe. You didn’t join the force for safe. When Pyrope informs you that you’ve reached the end of Nitram’s donor list you’re so glad you buy her one of those godawful bright carmine doughnuts to celebrate.
You hand it to her stoically.
Z4HH4K. 1 KNOW TH1S ON3.
yeah so how awful is he on a scale of one to highblood
TH3 WORST! H3 1S 4 JUD1R4D1C4TOR OF TH3 H1GH3ST D3GR33- 1V3 H4D TO RUN TR14LS UND3R H1M 4ND 1TS N3XT TO 1MPOSS1BL3, H1S STUP1D OBS3SS1ON W1TH OBSC3N1TY L4WS! DO3SNT 4LLOW FOUL L4NGU4G3 1N H1S COURTROOM, 3V3N 1N CONT3XT!
he got any reason to tithe his blood money to a lowblood then
HMMM. 4S F4R 4S 1V3 B33N 1NFORM3D, H3S PR3TTY 4NT1 LOWBLOOD R1GHTS. BUT...
[you take a soothing sip of coffee and try not to drum your fingers on the desk anxiously. Pyrope’s got you promising not to smoke in the office anymore. 1 C4NT 3V3N R34D TH3 N3WSP4P3R L1K3 TH1S. >:[ blah blah blah]
H3 DO3S H4V3 4 MO1R41L WHO M1GHT H4V3 KNOWN N1TR4M OR OTH3RW1S3 H4V3 B33N 1NT3R3ST3D 1N H1S WORK.
so whats with this moirail thing anyways
it keeps coming up
far as i figured its some sort of freaky troll friendmarriage but you still get to sleep around on the side
bluh bluh sweet deal right
UGGGGH. TH4T 1S NOT JUST 4 GROSS S1MPL1F1C4T1ON, 1TS 4 D1SGUST1NG S1MPL1F1C4T1ON!
MO1R4LL1G13NC3 1S TH3 MOST COMPL3X 4ND S4CR3D OF OUR FOUR QU4DR4NTS. 1D 3XPL41N 1T TO YOU, BUT 1T WOULD T4K3 4 LONG T1M3 4ND 4LSO 1 H4V3 4 SN34K1NG SUSP1C1ON YOU DONT 4CTU4LLY C4R3!
[another sip and you prop your feet up on the desk. there are case files, empty coffee cups and bright red crumbs scattered between you.]
course i care if its relevant to the job
im a professional here come on now
WHY 4M 1 R3SPONS1BL3 FOR CUR1NG YOUR HUM4N D1S34S3 OF 1GNOR4NC3, STR1D3R? 1F YOU 4R3 SO CUR1OUS 4BOUT MY CULTUR3 WHY DONT YOU DO SOM3 R3S34RCH?
like you do research about human culture
1 KNOW PL3NTLY 4BOUT HUM4NS!
thats why you asked that pregnant woman how many grubs she was carrying
GRUBS 1S OUR WORD FOR CH1LD. TH4TS NOT 4T 4LL TH3 S4M3 TH1NG 4S 4SK1NG DUMB QU3ST1ONS 4BOUT MO1R4LL1G13NC3.
and i quote
wow you are so big for a humanoid how many buckets of incestuous slurry did you gobble
and that wasnt even the part that made her cry
1 4DM1T TH4T BY TH3 T1M3 1 4SK3D H3R 1F 1 COULD 34T TH3 D3F3CT1V3 GRUBS, 1 W4S JUST F1SH1NG FOR 4 R34CT1ON.
humans are fragile creatures pyrope
you cant just go around doing the the verbal equivalent of shoving your hideous snake tongue into their eyesockets and swirling it around and expect things to work out okay
YOUR3 NOT FR4G1L3, STR1D3R.
hell no i am chiseled from marble
the marble has been dipped in liquid diamonds
just gonna break your teeth trying to cut me
1 KNOW, 1 KNOW. H4RD 4S FUCK.
1 N3V3R H4V3 TH3 CH4NC3 TO PR4CT1C3 ON 4 PROP3R HUM4N. PL34S3 B3 P4T13NT 4S 1 STUMBL3 THOUGH MY 4TT3MPTS 4T POL1T3 1NT3R4CT1ON 4ND TRY V3RY H4RD TO PR3T3ND YOU 4R3 NOT S3CR3T3LY AMUS3D.
you are a goddamn embarrassment pyrope
but not today
today is your turn to be ashamed
>FINISH YOUR COFFEE
we gonna interview this zahhak guy or what
COOL YOUR MUSC3LB34STS. 1 H4V3 TO F1N1SH MY D3L1C1OUS V3RM1L1ON B4K3D CONF3CT1ON4RY TR34T.
>WATCH PYROPE CONSUME EVERY LAST BITE OF THAT VERMILION BAKED CONFECTIONERY TREAT
[what you are watching is a disaster. it’s a goddamn tragedy. it’s a three train pile up and every single train was filled with deaf children on their way to their first circus ever.
you roll your empty coffee cup between your hands and watch her lick her fingers.]
4S TH3 HUM4NS S4Y, “L3TS SH4K3, R4TTL3 4ND ROLL”.
humans never say that
10:35PM, APRIL 28TH
There’s a damp wind outside Judiradicator Equius Zahhak’s castlesque hive. Pyrope jams the doorbell obnoxiously six times before you notice that the door is open just a crack, just enough that dim light is spilling out from the inside. It takes you six rings to notice this because you are the best fucking detective Newternia’s got.
curiouser and curiouser
we going in
JUD1R4D1C4TOR Z4HH4K 1S NOT 3X4CTLY KNOWN FOR H1S M34SUR3D T3MP3R. JUST B4RG1NG 1N M11111GHT NOT B3 TH3 B3ST 1D34.
yeah but is ringing the doorbell a thousand more times much better
You have a point. You have all the points. It’s strange- Terezi has never balked at busting down the door of someone who outranks her this entire week. Her adherence to the Trollish law system proves to be stronger at every juncture. She chews her lip worryingly before she gives in- she gives in with a shrug and a chuckle, not a sigh- and kicks the door open with her very small foot.
The inside is barely lit.
And it smells.
There is a gift left upstairs for the two of you.
Her dead eyes wide and ringed with apprehension and disgust, Terezi reaches out one narrow hand to turn the record player on.
THE EXCEEDINGLY 100D CASE OF EQUIUS ZAHHAK AND NEPETA LEIJON
You have only just discovered the corpses. There is no official coroner's report. No forensics have been performed. The cause of death is unclear, however the bodies are entangled... intimately.
As with the previous two murder scenes, a poem is scrawled on the wall in blood.
She was kind though, always had a smile for me
Now that I think about it we was always saying "Hello"
I always figured cuz we both were people alone
Maybe she looked at my life, and how it's so stale
And thought "We're both outcasts, maybe we could be pale?"
The only significant clue is the cord laying in the center of the room.
Signs of struggle are minimal and certainly not indicative of STRONG resistance. If you had to guess, you’d wager a pretty decent bet that the green blood was the only one who fought back. You’d bet your whole paycheck on it. Something about that makes your mouth dry, though, and your palms curl unconsciously into loose fists.
>BE FUCKING UNNERVED
[beside you, Terezi is still as three in the afternoon.]
pryope you with me
[she says nothing.]
. . . terezi
look we gotta get our shit together this is big
>TRAIL OFF WEAKLY
[terezi breathes deep through her nose. she is tyring to get as accurate read of the scene as possible.]
SOM3 TROLLS 4R3 BORN M1SS1NG H4LF OF TH3MS3LV3S, OTH3RS 4R3 BORN WHOL3.
>THIS ISN’T EVEN THE TIME TO BE A SMART ASS JUST LISTEN TO YOUR PARTNER EXPLAIN CREEPY TROLL SHIT TO YOU FOR ONCE
[come on, you aren’t that kind of guy. you were planning to listen to her anyway.]
M4T3SPRI1TS 4ND K1SM3S1S 4R3 4BOUT 4TTR4CT1ON 4ND CH3M1STRY- M33T1NG TH4T P3RSON WHO T1CKL3S YOUR F4NCY TH3 MOST WH3TH3R TH3Y B3 YOUR M4TCH, YOUR SUP3R1OR OR YOUR 1NF3R1OR.
MO1R4LL1G13NC3 1S 4BOUT MOR3 TH4N TH4T.
YOUR MO1R41L W1LL PROT3CT YOU 4ND ST4ND BY YOU. TROLLS WHO 4R3 STRONG BUT UNST4BL3 OR THOS3 WHO 4R3 W34K Y3T 1RON-W1LL3D. 1F YOU L4CK SOM3TH1NG B4S1C, 4 MO1R41L W1LL M4K3 UP FOR TH4T L4CK.
YOUNG P3OPL3 DONT 4PPR3C14T3 TH3 1MPORT4NC3 OF 1T, BUT M4NY CONS1D3R MO1R4LL1G13NC3 TO B3 TH3 PUR3ST 4ND MOST 1MPORT4NT QU4DR4NT.
NOT 3V3RYON3 1S BORN W1TH 4 MO1R41L, STR1D3R. 4ND 1...
[her voice hasn’t quite been shaking. she looks like she’s piecing something together. terezi is perpetually solving puzzles in her head, except usually they’re puzzles that she made up to challenge herself.]
. . . TO PROF4N3 TH3 PUR1TY OF 4 MO1R4LL1G13NC3 L1K3 TH1S...
. . . pyrope you ok
[the legislacerator’s voice lowers to a hiss.]
[the two of you are silent for a long few seconds, the music warbling oppressively behind you. pyrope’s words had glitter in them, the building blocks of a revelatory hunch. you wait her out- there are nuances to troll culture you just aren’t getting here.]
BL4SPH3MY. TH4TS 1T. TH4T MUST B3 1T.
1 H4V3... 1 H4V3 4 HUNCH, BUT NOTH1NG CONCR3T3 Y3T. 1 JUST-
[there is a crash in the next room that shakes the floor hard enough the record skips to a stop. you are still half goddamn dumbfounded by this morbid fucking sight in front of you but terezi is tightly wound and alert as a rabbit. she leaps after the sound eagerly while you’re still collecting yourself.]
[when you catch up to her, she is leaning out the window.]
OUR C4NDY4PPL3 1NTRUD3R!
[she sniffs the air, the world’s most angular bloodhound, and points.]
TH4T W4Y. M4RK3T STR33T!
[terezi whirls around, flailing out her arms and cane, knocking each of these things into your chest.]
TH3 CR1M3 SC3N3 C4N W41T.
1 W4NT TH4T C4NDYBLOOD.
[you can’t argue with her rationale. the fucker might be a suspect and he might know more about this case than you and pyrope combined. the two of you have just run up against a brick wall slathered in blood and disturbing imagery. you keep pace with her briskly, her glasses glittering green under the three quarters moon.]
[market street is a carapace barter-sale run after dark for the benefit of the troll elite who wish to partake in “quaint” derseian and prospitan cultural practices. you and pyrope are pushing through a throng of lazy shoppers, elbows angled fourty-five degrees as you scan the crowd and your partner sniffs.]
>CATCH SIGHT OF THIS DOUCHEBAG
>IS THAT A... CARAPACE?
>WHO IS THIS DOUCHEBAG?
[beside you, terezi is swaying unsteadily on her feet. alarmed, you grab her shoulders and steady her.]
woah there pyrope
gettin a little too fruit loops off the thrill of pursuit there
adrenaline high literal in trolls or what
[she swats your hands away.]
SHHH, NO, NO, 1 JUST C4NT...
TH3R3S TOO M4NY SM3LLS. 1 C4NT S33, STR1D3R.
[the mingling scents of perfume, frying food and musty, second hand clothing is admittedly quite strong here.]
you gonna be okay
not gonna od on the cloying scent of tandori cluckbeast
TH1S 1SNT FUNNY. 1 TH1NK H3 KNOWS. 1 TH1NK H3 L3D US H3R3 ON PURPOS3.
>GLANCE BACK AT THE DOUCHEBAG
[yeah, fuck this guy. he’s just standing there staring, rocking back impatiently on the balls of his feet as if waiting to gauge your reactions.]
>TAKE A SHOT AT HIM
[the street is too crowded to TAKE A SHOT at him. you lookin’ to lose your badge son?]
[it’s smelly, it’s crowded and the woman in the booth next to you is playing her radio way too fucking loud.]
[the song changes, and the asshole bolts.]
OH, 1 LOV3 TH1S SONG!
>WHATEVER, GET THIS ASSHOLE
stay here im gonna get this asshole
[seriously, dude, you can’t use your fucking gun here.]
>BE A GENTLEMAN
sorry mam gotta borrow this for a minute
[pretty much it’s a piece of shit, but
but for some reason
it feels right.]
>DO SOME BIZNASTY IRONIC NINJA SHIT
>STRIDER YOU HAVE NEVER HELD A SWORD IN YOUR ENTIRE FUCKING LIFE WHERE ARE YOU GETTING ALL THESE SMOOTH MOVES?
[divine inspiration baby]
. . . wait -
[the douchebag waits. he doesn’t really have much choice considering he’s pinned under you and all.]
thats a fucking mask
lets see who you really are under there
no fuckin way
GET THE FUCK OFF ME YOU WITLESS NOOKSTAIN.
i get it this is a joke
russian doll mask setup here ha ha
pull this one off and youll be a human underneath right
>PULL THE SECOND MASK OFF
DON’T FUCKING TOUCH ME!
>DUDE THAT’S NOT A MASK
>HE IS A TROLL FOR REAL MAN
this was unexpected
GIVE IT BACK! ARE YOU TRYING TO GET ME FUCKING CULLED!?
what are you even talking about
THAT CRAZED HIGHBLOOD IS ON HER WAY. CAN’t YOU HEAR HER VOICE LIKE FUCKING CLAWS ON GRANITE SCREECHING IT’S WAY TOWARDS US?
chill the fuck out shes my partner
we just want to talk
MAYBE YOU DIDN’T GET THE MEMO BUT IT NOT EXACTLY NORMAL FOR A TROLL TO BE BLEEDING DISGUSTING KETCHUP RED OUT ON THE COLD, MERCILESS PAVEMENT. IF YOU’RE GOING TO BROADCAST MY MUTATION TO A LEGISLACERATOR YOU MIGHT AS WELL JUST TAKE YOUR SHITTY BLADE AND DRIVE IT INTO MY CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM A FEW TIMES.
>GET THE MEMO
[you got the memo. you got all the memos.]
[you honour neither of the troll’s requests. he struggles weakly, but the guy is tiny and you easily keep him pinned.]
[you can hear terezi at the mouth of the alley placating worried civilians, “DONT WORRY, DONT WORRY. MY HUM4N 1S NOT F3R4L! H3 1S 1N F4CT 4 TR41N3D D3T3CT1V3!” she rounds the corner still humming that song.]
OH YOU C4NT HURRY LOV3, YOU JUST GOTT4 W41-
MY MY, STR1D3R, GOOD WORK!
[she gives you a sarcastic and dainty golf clap.]
i always do good work
you were lots of help this time by the way
D4M4G3 CONTROL, STR1D3R!
NOW, WH4T DO W3 H4V3 H3R3?
>YANK THE STRANGE TROLL TO HIS FEET
OH I AM SO IMPRESSED AND INTIMIDATED BY YOUR EXCEEDINGLY HARD BOILED DISPLAY OF MANLY VIGOR, MR. STRIDER.
EXCEPT NOT AT ALL, GO FUCK YOURSELF.
>SLAM THIS EXCESSIVELY UNCOOPERATIVE WITNESS AGAINST THE WALL
[the troll goes ‘oof’ and coughs up a thin dribble of bright red blood. the poor guy looks like hamburger- what was he doing before you guys caught up to him?]
[terezi’s nostrils twitch.]
TH4TS YOUR BLOOD!
AND THE GENIUS CATCHES UP WITH THE REST OF THE CLASS! BRAVO!
[pyrope frowns and forcefully tilts the captive’s chin up with the end of her cane.]
DONT S4SS TH3 L4W, YOUNG M4N. D1DNT 1 W4RN YOU- TH1S 1S MY F3R4L M4N-HUM4N. H3 1S V3RY D4NG3ROUS 4ND YOU DONT W4NT TO S3T H1M OFF.
H3H3H3, T4K3 1T 4S 4 COMPL1M3NT, STR1D3R. YOU 4R3 V3RY... 3FF1C13NT!
THIS IS FUCKING DISGUSTING. LORD DELIVER ME.
wow shut up no one asked you for an officiated review of our method ok
FIRST YOU WANT ME TO TALK NOW YOU’RE ASKING ME TO SHUT UP. GEE, HUMANS SURE ARE FUCKING INCONSISTENT.
HOW 4N 1NT3RROG4T1ON USU4LLY WORKS, MY STR4WB3RRY D4QU1R1 FL4VOUR3D FR13ND, 1S TH4T YOU ONLY T4LK WH3N W3 4SK QU3ST1ONS.
THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE. DO YOU TWO COLOSSAL MORONS EVEN KNOW WHO I AM?
YOU SHOULD. I HAVE FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES. THE HIGHEST PLACES, IN FACT.
listen carefully here cause im gonna make a list of people currently present who are in the position to negotiate
one: dave strider
two: terezi pyrope
so youd better start answering questions real fast or were gonna drag you and your strawberry side of a banana split insides down to the station faster than you can say dick
FINE, I CONCEDE. BUT I CONCEDE RELUCTANTLY. YOUR ILLUSION OF POWER OVER ME IS TENUOUS AT BEST AND YOUR CHANCES OF ACTUALLY OBTAINING ANY USEFUL INFORMATION FROM THIS EXCHANGE SEEMS UNLIKELY CONSIDERING THE DISTRESSINGLY INCOMPETENT METHOD WITH WHICH YOU HAVE CONDUCTED YOURSELVES THUS FAR.
[terezi eases her cane back and smiles placidly, teeth away in her carefully cultivated silence. guess you’re doing the bad cop, psychopath cop routine.]
>BE THE BAD COP
hey great place to start
how long have you been following us
WHAT MAKES YOU THINK I WOULD WASTE MY TIME FOLLOWING YOU? BETTER QUESTION YET, WHAT MAKES YOU THINK I WOULD WANT TO WASTE MY TIME FOLLOWING YOU?
you seem to know a bit about us
and enough to know that leading us into an olfactory wonderland would incapacitate my partner momentarily
FINE. YOU SAW THROUGH MY RUSE. TRULY YOU ARE A TOWERING INTELLECT AMONGST MEN.
I HAVE BEEN KEEPING AN EYE ON BOTH OF YOU SINCE THE NITRAM MURDER. YOU WERE THE ONLY TWO IN THE FORCE WHO SHOWED INTEREST IN THE CASE BEFORE THE HIGBLOOD’S MURDER. WHILE ADMIRABLE, THAT’S KIND OF A PROBLEM FOR ME.
kay well get to that later then
first you gotta name or what
I AM THE THRESHECUTIONER, TERROR OF THE SHADOW-DOUSED NEWTERNIAN STREETS.
>SLAM THIS JOKER AGAINST THE WALL AGAIN
>HARDER THIS TIME
too bad i aint got a sense of humour
way too hardboiled for that shit
give us a real name ruby slippers
MY NAME IS KARKAT VANTAS.
SM3LLS T4NT4L1Z1NGLY L1K3 TRUTH L1K3 TRUTH.
I AM SO RELIEVED!
GOD, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU!
ask myself that every day
STR1D3R! ST4Y ON TOP1C!
what do you know about the murders
[karkat’s face goes screwed up like he swallowed a wart or drank piss, but then a shadow glides over it and for a moment he looks to be gripped by the holiest and most divine of terrors, the sort of terror you have only seen on the visages of the saints and the apostles of thoth. the moment passes quickly and he scoffs.]
[the curious quirk of terezi’s lip says she didn’t miss it either.]
MORE THAN YOU’LL EVER FUCKING KNOW FOR CERTAIN.
>... TENTATIVELY SYMPATHETIC COP
look this might be news to you but im pretty sure were on the same side here
we dont wanna drag you in vantas but you gotta admit your skulking around looks pretty suspicious
LOOK, I APPRECIATE THAT THE COMMISSIONER HAS TAKEN AN INTEREST IN THESE MURDERS BUT I AM GOING TO BE HONEST- I CAN’T TELL YOU SHIT BECAUSE THIS ISN’T POLICE BUSINESS.
what is it then
. . . STREET BUSINESS.
FUCK YOU, NO.
NOTHING I COULD TELL YOU WOULD POSSIBLY HELP BECAUSE YOUR HOLLOW THINKPANS AREN’T EVEN ON THE SAME PAGE AS ME.
YOU ARE TRYING TO SOLVE THE MYSTERY.
I’M TRYING TO CATCH THE FUCKING KILLER.
>WOAH, WAIT WHAT
[pyrope HMMMS in interest beside you. you tighten your grip on vantas’ lapels.]
you know then
OF COURSE I FUCKING KNOW. THAT IS PRETTY MUCH WHAT THE COURSE OF THIS CONVERSATION HAS IMPLIED. SHOULD HAVE FIGURED I’D BE FORCED TO LAY IT BARE SO THAT YOUR FEEBLE INTELLECT COULD GRASP THE FINER ASPECTS OF THE IDEA HERE.
you know whos gonna be next too huhn
I HAVE THIS HUNCH.
BUT IT DOESN’T HELP ME ANY EITHER, SO DON’T EXPECT ME TO TELL YOU.
>BE THE BAD COP
>SLAM THIS INSUFFERABLE DOUCHEBAG AGAINST THE WALL AGAIN. THIS HIVE’S GONNA HAVE A TROLL-RUNT SIZED DENT IN IT
>INTERROGATE THE FUCKER SOME MORE
you better start being straight with us vantas or
L3T H1M GO.
>LOOK AT PYROPE BECAUSE WHAT IS SHE EVEN BEING SERIOUS COME ON NOW
[terezi is dead serious. both her hands are folded over the top of her cane and she stands straight-backed, cutting a dagger-sharp hourglass against the glare of the streetlights. you have a hard time reading her facial expressions still- it’s not even been a month since you met her- but there’s gears turning away in her creepy little troll brain so loud you bet they can be heard ten blocks away.]
>TRUST YOUR PARTNER?
[you loosen your grip on vantas’ coat and he crumples to the ground.]
[the troll pulls himself to his feet, shakily. he really is in bad shape. he glances between the two of you like he doesn’t really trust the situation. you probably wouldn’t in his situation either.]
get the fuck out of here and dont let us catch you again
[vantas bites his lip and nods numbly before disappearing around a corner.]
[you wait until you’re sure he’s good and gone.]
pyrope what the fuck
H3S NO GOOD TO US 1N 4 PR1SON C3LL.
H3 W4S R1GHT TO B3 T3RR1F13D- H3S 4 MUT4NT BLOOD. PR1SON W1LL 34T H1M 4L1V3 1F H3 1SNT S3NT3NC3D TO CULL1NG. 4ND W3 N33D TO KNOW WH4T H3 KNOWS.
you suggesting we follow him
Y3S! 1 4M SUGG3ST1NG 3X4CTLY TH1S!
H3 KNOWS WHO TH3 MURD3R3R 1S, BUT 1S OBV1OUSLY R3LUCT4NT TO CONFRONT TH3M H1MS3LF. 1 W4NT TO KNOW WHY.
>RUN A FRUSTRATED HAND THROUGH YOUR HAIR
hell of a night
COM3 ON. W3 H4V3 TO R3PORT TH3 Z4HH4K MURD3R.
>DON’T MOVE YOU’RE STILL PROCESSING THIS SHIT
[pyrope reaches out and grabs your hand, tugging at it gently.]
D4V3, COM3 ON.
. . . right
DR1NKS TON1GHT 4R3 ON M3.
Chapter 11: mine is not the first heart broken
The last thing you remember is that someone put money in the jukebox for that song you really hate.
you cant just pet every strange lusii you see walkin down the fucking road
what if a troll saw you getting cozy with their devilbeast
dave, you are never any fun!!
not even a little bit!!
one of us has to be serious
if both of us were just skipping la di da yankee doodle doo through life wed be in trouble
but you’ve been........
more so, lately.
[she frowns, her buck teeth worrying at her bottom lip charmingly.]
more so no fun, duuuuh!
look at you, mr. serious strider in his serious leather jacket with his serious sunglasses and his serious look of utterly serious stoicism.
soooo grown up!!
i was making fun of you!
will you just look at me for a minute!!!!!!
>... TURN AROUND
you got a minute jade
a minute exactly and i dont even
i know, i know. you don’t even need a watch.
dave, i know all your one liners by now, remember?
[she’s making fun of you, a little cruelly even.
your heart skips a fucking beat.
a hauntingly ill beat.]
not that i don’t appreciate it!!!
i mean, the new dress and the nice dinner and the day on the town, it’s nice to get out of the orphanage once in a while but. um.
where did you get all this money?
[oh, she already looks so disappointed in you. harley, goddamnit, don’t ask questions you don’t want to and already do know the answer to.]
>LOOK HER IN THE EYE
so legal i got legislacerators searching for the lost secrets of judiradication written in secret code on my dick
look how convinced i am dave.
harley shit we had a good day didnt we
dont ruin it by
by worrying about you!?
by being your friend!?!?!?!
fuck just nevermind
[you cannot abscond because you are Dave Strider and you can’t just walk away from Jade Harley.
even if you could.
even if you wanted to.
she wouldn’t let you.]
you’ve never seen this side of her before.
>ADMIRE THIS SIDE OF JADE
[. . . stunning.]
with all this dirty money, dave, what do you expect to do with it!?
do you really think this will solve all your problems?!?!?
seems to work pretty fucking well for everyone else
yeah, it works well getting them killed!!!!!!!!
tell me, what do you expect to do with it all?
>DON’T SAY “WE’LL GET MARRIED” THAT’S STUPID
dave, you stupid fuckass.
that won’t make me happy.
what makes me happy is just being with you! being with all of my friends!
im right here jade
no i mean...
you’re getting so far away.
one day you’ll go so far away i can’t find you anymore!
’m afraid if you keep going... you’ll never wake up.
i’ll lose sight of you, dave
>FACE THE HANGOVER LIKE A MAN, STRIDER
And in a single breath, he speaks heresy in my church. It is too early in the morning for the most cardinal of sins, Strider. Uttering the name of troll Gods in this most Holy of Horror Temples.
[fucking fuck. Rose Lalonde is the last thing any sane man would use to treat a hangover.]
>TAKE YOUR GLASSES BACK
>PUT THEM ON
youre the only woman for me lalonde creepy vows of grimdark chastity and all
Is that so?
>PAINSTAKINGLY YET SO ARTFULLY EASE YOURSELF INTO A SITTING POSITION
[the purple lights pulse and ebb, every splash of colour and light is a dagger in your cornea.]
there aint one
which is less a testament to my unrequited love for you and more a symptom of my isolated and attractively lonely hard-boiled lifestyle
no man is an island unless they happen to be a private dick
Why, David, that’s nearly poetic.
[she pauses. unlike your slick sit-up-straight-drunkey method, her movements are actually artful.]
Is that her name? You never mentioned that your new partner was a woman.
revelation of the century
it matters fuck all
a troll is a troll and a highblood is a highblood
And yet, the two of you seemed rather... close.
how is this even your goddamn business
[you hate that tiny secretive smile of hers.]
[your mouth feels at once parched like drought season in the hinterlands and uncomfortably wet.]
>WIPE YOUR MOUTH ABSENT-MINDEDLY
>REGARD THE BACK OF YOUR HAND WITH A MEASURE OF ASTONISHMENT AND CONFUSION AND TRY TO THINK BACK AND REMEMBER LAST NIGHT
Chapter 12: they said someday you'll find all who love are blind
>START AT THE BEGINNING
Autopsy Is An Art Officer And Even Small Circumstantial Details May Prove To Be Important
May I Politely Caution You That Our Correspondence Will No Doubt Be More Pleasant If You Refrain From Asking Useless Or Rhetorical Questions
H3 LOV3S TO 4SK RH3TOR1C4L QU3ST1ONS.
1T 1S ON3 OF H1S M4NY - H4H4H4 - 4DOR4BL3 HUM4N P3RSON4L1TY QU1RKS!
[she leans over and
. . . sarcastically pinches your cheek.
actually it’s kind of flirtatious.
she’s flirting with you in front of this respectable medical professional.]
>CLEAR YOUR THROAT AND START FROM THE BEGINNING
4ND TH3 R3CORD PL4Y3R W4S ON!
always the most important detail
TH3 N33DL3 W4S T13D SO TH4T TH3 S4M3 SONG W4S R3P34T1NG OV3R 4ND OV3R 4G41N!
What Was The Song
smoke gets in your eyes
how is this important
I Must Admit A Certain Pronounced Fondness For That Song
1TS NOT V3RY CONDUCT1V3 TO TH3 SOLV1NG OF MYST3R13S, BUT 1 DO 4GR33 TH4T 1T H4S 4 D3F1N1T3 H4UNT1NGG P4THOS TO 1T!
V3RY 1RON1C CONS1D3R1NG TH3 POS1T1ON TH4T W3 FOUND MR 4MPOR4 1N!
I Am Curious About This
Would It Be Possible For You To Perhaps Speed Along Your Exposition
I Bill By The Hour
hey we had a warrant
wouldnt want you thinking we were doing anything illegal
W3 WOULD N3V3R DO 4NYTH1NG 1LL3G4L 4H4H4H4.
TH4TS WH3N W3 FOUND H1M
H3 W4S 1N TH3 W4ST3 R3C3PT1BL3.
The “Bath Room”
NO, L1T3R4LLY 1N TH3 W4ST3 R3C3PT1BL3!
THE VERY DIGNIFIED CASE OF ERIDAN AMPORA
I'm probably gonna burn for this
AIN’T NO LESSON TO LEARN FROM THIS
there's nothing i will earn
BuT iT sUrE iS fUn
OR 4T L34ST TH4TS WH4T W3 THOUGHT!
So You Thoroughly Investigated The Murder Site In The Manner Of True Professionals I Take It
lady there wasnt a thing about our reaction that wasnt professional
Y3S, 1F PROF3SS1ON4L1SM W3R3 TO B3 G1V3N 4 NOM D3 PLUM3 1T WOULD D3F1N1T3LY B3 T3R3Z1 PYROP3 4ND D4V3 STR1D3R
thatd be two nom de plumes but you get the picture there
those two nom de plumes were also stone cold cool and rock solid collected
Why Not To An Official Police Coroner
Forgive Me For Being Forward But I Do Not Get Much Business From Legislacerators And Detectives
What Is It About This Body That You Cannot Bring It Down To The Station And Instead Felt The Need To Drag It Incognito To My Clinic Under Cloak And Dagger
Especially From Outstanding Examples Of Professionalism And Legality Such As You Two
>EXCHANGE HAPLESS LOOK WITH PARTNER
[because this was her idea, not yours.]
just, “D4V3, YOU KNOW 4NY IND3P3ND3NT DOCTORS. TH3 K1ND TH4T DONT 4SK QU3ST1ONS?”
you didn’t, but luckily (strangely), Sister Lalonde did.]
TH3Y M3SS3D UP Z4HH4KS 4UTOPSY 4ND TH3YLL M3SS UP TH1S ON3 TOO!
>BACK YOUR PARTNER UP
[even though you..... aren’t entirely certain what the fuck she’s on about]
I Have Been Led To Believe That The League Of Morbidticions Are Nothing If Not Possessed Of Integrity
LOOK, TH3R3 1S JUST..... 4N 1D34 1 H4V3. 4ND NO ON3 DOWN 4T TH3 ST4T1ON 1S GO1NG TO L1K3 1T
W3LL P4Y YOU WH4T3V3R YOU N33D
In That Case
Her name is Kanaya Maryam (M.D.) and she is... efficient.
Also, she’s glowing.
You’ve seen a lot of weird troll bullshit, but glowing’s a new one. It ain’t polite to ask weird questions about skin colour right the fuck in front of someone, so when Dr. Maryam’s back is turned so that she can hunch over her desk of serial murder instruments, you subtly grab one of Terezi’s arms, lean over and ask: “Pyrope what’s with her skin?”
Terezi gives you a look like you just asked why the sky is up, “Dave, you can’t just ask why someone is glowing!”
“She’s a Rainbow Drinker! Don’t Be so Rude!”
“What, like in that shitty movie with Edvahr Culling?”
“No, like a real Rainbow Drinker.”
Apparently troll vampires are real and apparently you are sharing oxygen with one right now (NOT R34LLY THOUGH, Pyrope assures you, B3C4US3 SH3 1SNT 4CTU4LLY BR34TH1NG!). In a culture where the dead are known the rise on a regular basis, you guess being dead already is probably a nice plus to the whole mortician gig. You had to put down enough zombies at long range when you were a beat cop, thinking about dealing with them all cutely up close and personal isn’t the most appealing proposition.
So whatever. She’s efficient. She has one hundred scalpels and something stored at the bottom of her gurney that looks suspiciously like a chainsaw. Ampora’s clammy skin is peeled open like a gut fish and you get a good look inside at his weird, purple troll guts and those creepy, blackened troll bones- the colour of burnt driftwood.
UGH, H3 SM3LLS L1K3 ST4L3 P3RV3RS1ON
Your Admittedly Hastily Written Report Suggests That You Assumed The Cause Of Death Was Drowning
However, Mr Ampora Is A Seadweller And Further More There Is No Evidence Of Water In His Lungs
Y3S, TH4T 1S WH4T W4S STR4NG3 4BOUT 1T
I Think That I Have Discovered The True Cause Of Death
[gently, she nudges Ampora’s head to one side. it rolls, his glassy eyes lolling towards the far wall as the head reveals itself to be, in fact, unattached. with all maryam’s incisions, it’s now easy to see that his cervical vertebrae aren’t just broken through, they’ve practically dissolved.]
The Angle Of The Cracks In The Few Intact Bones Suggest Vertically Applied Pressure
Mr Ampora Was Killed When He Tried To Struggle Against The Grasp Of Someone Much Stronger Than Him
well yeah it doesn’t take much to be stronger than a stringy nerdlinger like him but
who the fuck could have ground up bone like that all fee fi fo fum
. . . 4 H1GHBLOOD
>OBSERVE MOMENT OF DRAMATIC SILENCE
but i mean
>GIVE THE DOCTOR A SUSPICIOUS SIDE-GLANCE
[she blinks at you placidly and her pinched smile does not falter. she’s not gonna tell anyone]
who else could it be
why else were we searching through nitrams donor list
they granted us a warrant for ampora and everything whys this a problem
B3C4US3 4MPOR4 W4S 4 D1SGR4C3!
4ND B3C4US3 1 TH1NK TH3 4SSUMPT1ON SO F4R H4S B33N TH4T WHO3V3R 1S COMM1TT1NG TH3S3 CR1M3S 1S DO1NG SO THROUGH 4 PROXY
1 H4V3 LONG B33N SUSP1C1OUS, HOW3V3R, TH4T 1TS 4 H1GHBLOOD DO1NG 1T D1R3CTLY. BUT H1GHBLOODS K1LL1NG H1GHBLOODS 1S M3SSY BUS1N3SS 4ND H1S TYR4NNY W1LL L1K3LY THROW TH3 C4S3 OUT 1F W3 PROV3 TOO MUCH TOO 3XPL1C1TLY
W3LL H4V3 TO B3 C4R3FUL FROM NOW ON
444UUUGH. 1F ONLY W3 H4D SOM3 SORT OF L34D
[maryam hands you a slip of paper. it’s a receipt for a warehouse storage unit. you know the one too- a real shitty dive near the harbour.]
[terezi snatches the receipt from you and does her huffing bloodhound routine. you’re a little worried she’s trying to snort to clue up like cocaine.]
W3 MUST GO “CH3CK TH1S OUT” 1MM3D14T3LY!!!!
>FIND IT A LITTLE ENDEARING HOW EXCITED SHE GETS ABOUT INVESTIGATIVE BREAKTHROUGHS
>CHECK IT OUT
[yeah, you can do that.]
ONE HOUR LATER, AT THE HARBOUR-SIDE WAREHOUSES
first grade art project of someone destined to keep noses in the fruit crisper and arms in his freezer
equivalent of making macaroni pictures using brain mucus as the glue
1TS TH3 4NC13NT SYMBOL OF TH3 SUBJUGGUL4TORS.
the what of the what now
1TS 4N OLD TROLL R3L1G1ON. TH1S W4S 1TS MOST S4CR3D SYMBOL.
>DON’T LAUGH DON’T LAUGH DON’T LAUGH DON’T LAUGH
TH3 CHURCH OF TH3 M1RTHFUL M3SS14HS. 1T W4S V3RY POPUL4R 4MONG C3RT41N C4ST3S OF H1GHBLOODS 4ND 4T ON3 PO1NT 1N H1STORY TH3Y H4D MOR3 POW3R TH4N 3V3N TH3 3MPR3SS!
okay so what happened to them
THR33 HUNDR3D Y34RS 4GO, TH3 SUBJUGGUL4TORS D3C1D3D TH4T TROLL SOC13TY N33D3D TO B3 PUR1F13D 4ND TH3Y 4TT3MPT3D TO CULL UH
. . . 3V3RYON3. TH3Y TR13D TO CULL 3V3RYON3. SO TH3 CHURCH W4S SHUT DOWN 4ND TH3YR3 HON3STLY K1ND OF 4 JOK3 TH3S3 D4YS
so our murderer is a bitter unhinged highblood cultist obsessed with an ancient clown tradition
LOOKS L1K3 1T!
and probably he wants to kill everyone and burn the world down
is that all
L3TS T4K3 4 LOOK 4ROUND!
>TAKE A LOOK AROUND
[the warehouse is mostly empty except for the “painting” on the wall and several dozen empty cans of a cheap ass soft drink called “Faygo”. there are some brushes near the back, but they don’t look like they were used with the victim’s blood.]
>EXAMINE THE BRUSHES
-- click click --
[you hear the unmistakable onomatopoeia of a gun being cocked. you whip your head up as a bullet whizzes by you.]
>GO FOR YOUR GUN
[yeah, you’ve got a gun too!
you’d go for it, but you notice a sniper’s trail flickering bright across the high rise of Terezi’s cheekbones. you turn around slowly and caution a hand in front of your face to see that there is one trailed on you as well.]
check out all this graceful surrender going on
>PUT YOUR HANDS UP
yeah anyways pyrope dont move if you dont want to get shot
[Terezi pouts, but she puts her hands up as well. from the shadows of the rafters comes a - poorly folded - paper airplane. the red dot slooowly dips down, STRONGLY SUGGESTING YOU PICK IT UP.]
>UNFOLD THE PAPER AIRPLANE
[it’s a note!]
>READ THE NOTE
oh he was serious about having friends in high places
CR1M3 PL4C3S MOR3 L1K3 1T!
real clever pyrope
TH1S 1S STUP1D
>SPEND HALF AN HOUR LOOKING LIKE A MORON WITH YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR HA HA HA
>PROMISE PYROPE THAT DRINKS ARE ON YOU TONIGHT
Chapter 13: will she still believe it when he's dead
Newternian rain strips flesh from bone. You’re so used to it now that the only emotion you can muster up when you feel the familiar sizzle on the back of your head is mild annoyance.
Why why why is Terezi grinning?
great this is the last thing we need
H4H4H4, WH4T3V3R. TH3 SUN W1LL B3 UP SOON. S1ZZL3POP R41N 1S TH3 L34ST OF MY WORR13S!
i thought you loved the sun girl
staring into it i mean
4H4H4H4, STR1D3R TH4T W4S 4 COLOURFUL L13 M34NT TO M4K3 M3 SOUND MOR3 3NT1C1NG 4ND 3XC1T1NG. SOM3 D3T3CT1V3 YOU 4R3!
YOUR3 CUT3 4H4H4H4
hey heres an idea lets have this asinine conversation out of the acid death rain wow
You suspect that it’s been too long since you’ve gotten laid when she says “let’s do it.” and you don’t immediately say no. You think maybe your judgement calls have never been so great anyways when you’re kissing her up against your apartment door, one of her knobby, pointy trolls knees hitched up around your hips as you fumble for your keys. You fall into the foyer, kick the door shut and don’t move from the floor.
You admit that maybe you’re a little bit attracted to her when a week later you let her chain you to a chair with your own handcuffs.
You realize how little you care about fraternization laws when she pulls you into the back seat of someone’s unlocked car during a stakeout and you both practice your multi-tasking. But mostly you know that you’re getting accustomed to her because you spend ten hours a day your silence soaked basement office flipping through image after image of dissected troll anatomy and you don’t even need to look up when she hands you your coffee any more.
You figure that you two are really good at this because Authoritative Redresser hasn’t asked any awkwardly phrased questions yet.
You are the King and Queen of smooth. No one would ever know a thing had changed.
The reason you two can be such totally slick pros about this is because you’re good at keeping things professional, on the downlow, so subtle, so low-key.
Not even a little bit invested.
And that’s why things won’t get messy.
Chapter 14: it's seventeen miles to the graveyard but my baby's never comin' back
hey kids! wanna see a card trick!
[oh no seriously.
terezi we dont have to
we got a crime scene to-
S1L3NC3 D4V3! UNL1K3 YOU, 1 4M 1NT3R3ST3D 1N CULTUR4L 3XCH4NG3! 1 W4NT TO L34RN 4BOUT QU41NT HUM4N M4G1C TR1CKS!
its not actually magic pyrope
1SNT 1T THOUGH?
1SNT 1T M4G1C 1F YOU JUST................
ha ha, the lady’s got it right!
you two are a cute couple!
were not a couple nimrod
[the hobo taps his nose knowingly and winks.
god, could he be a bigger douche?]
pick a card, m’am. any card!
[she does. and the guy does his card trick, except he does it right this time.]
oh hey! ace of hearts!
seems right, too, ms. pyrope. you seem like a real, ha ha, ace if you get what i mean.
thoth deliver me
1ND33D. 1 4M QU1T3 FL4WL3SS 1N MY PROF3SS1ON! YOU M1GHT C4LL M3 4N 4C3 L3G1SL4C3R4TOR! H4 H4!
i just did, ha ha!
HOW D1D YOU KNOW MY N4M3?
>MUTTER UNDER YOUR BREATH
hes a stalker terezi isnt it obvious
[the hobo winks again.]
it’s magic. come on, dave, don’t be such a negative nancy.
Y34H, D4V3, DONT B3 SUCH 4 N3G4T1V3 N4NCY!
you should keep this, terezi. it might come in handy someday.
oh come on how is a card going to come in handy
you never know!
even i don’t know!
it’s so mysterious! ooooooOOOooo!
[yeah, he totally makes wiggle fingers to match his ghost noises. yup, that happened.]
TH4NK YOU STR4NG3 HOM3L3SS HUM4N. 1 W1LL T4K3 TH1S UND3R 4DV1S3M3NT 4ND TR34SUR3 1T FOR3V3R!
>IS THIS FORESHADOWING?
[no, that’s impossible! how could that be!]
hey what happened to treasure it forever
DONT B3 R1D1CULOUS, N4NCY.
M4G1C 1SNT R34L, H4H4H4.
8:43PM,Unmercy Central Hospital
The radio’s playing some unrelentingly dire jazz tune. The doctors are hushed and the carapace nurses got these looks on their faces like hell just unfroze. It’s gonna be bad.
It is bad.
This murder’s a messy one. The entire room is splattered in mustard blood, flecks of flesh and bone and brain matter dotting the floor. The victim is the sorriest sucker you’ve seen yet.
Terezi’s shoulders have gone rigid and she’s trembling a little, biting the pad of her thumb worriedly. You have never seen her react this way to a murder scene. Not even the faithful tug of a fake smile.
THE TWOFOLD CASE OF SOLLUX CAPTOR
The victim looks to have been rend in half with extreme force at the hollow of the ribcage. Initial examination assumed a vice-like tool used but further analysis suggested that Mr. Captor was likely torn apart using the assailant’s bare hands. Mr. Captor had been in a coma at the time of the murder and was incapable of offering physical resistance. Similar to the other murder scenes, the assailant attempted to leave a poem at the site, however he was interrupted leaving and left instead only two letters.
terezi whats up
>COMFORT HER DUDE
[what? in front of all these people?
there’s like a coroner and three nurses and a cop in here.]
>OH YEAH STRIDER THEY’RE TOTALLY GONNA KNOW YOU’RE BANGING HER JUST BECAUSE YOU PUT A FRIENDLY HAND ON HER SHOULDER
>DO IT YOU BLUBBERING GODDAMN NEGATIVE NANCY
1 KN3W H1M
SOLLUX. H3 W4S MY FR13ND. 1 GR3W UP W1TH H1M 4T TH3 TROLL ORPH4N4G3.
M3 4ND SOLLUX 4ND 4R4D14.
1 DONT KNOW WH4T H4PP3N3D TO H3R. TH3 M41MTRON S41D SH3 W4S T4K3N 1N BY 4 C4R4P4C3 D1GN1T4RY, BUT SH3 W4S TH3 LOW3ST OF LOWBLOODS. 1 4LW4YS THOUGHT SOM3TH1NG B4D H4PP3N3D TO H3R 4ND TH4T TH3YD L13D TO US.
[you hadn’t realized that Terezi grew up in an orphanage too.
she never told you.
>FEEL SOMETHING BUBBLING UP INSIDE THAT’S DANGEROUSLY LIKE
>DUDE LET HER TALK
[the cop is side-eyeing you. he’s a rustblood and is probably all scandalized by the sight of a legislacerator in distress. good for you, buddy, you’ve got some gossip for the donut shop.]
SOLLUX 4ND 1 4LW4YS ST4Y3D 1N TOUCH, THOUGH. H3 W4S 4 H4CK3R! W3 US3D TO WORK TOG3TH3R B3FOR3 H3 W3NT 1NTO 4 PS1ON1C COM4.
1... D1DNT TH1NK.... 1 D1DNT TH1NK 1T WOULD B3 H1M....
SHHH! 1LL B3 F1NE! JUST G1VE M3 4 M1NUT3!
[she brushes you off and goes to wipe away tears in the corner. your heart is fluttering a million beats a second, though.]
>YOU NEED A SMOKE
[pick up the suspicious piece of paper]
CAPN’ STORAGE LMTD.
and an address
it’s a storage warehouse, just like the other one.
>SHOW IT TO TEREZI
[dude, her friend just got ripped in half.]
>THIS MIGHT DISTRACT HER THOUGH LIKE IN A GOOD WAY
[you stare at her for a few minutes, newly lit cigarette going unsmoked in one hand and the receipt in another. her back is turned to you and her sniffles are now wracking her body violently.]
>GO FOR IT
[you ahem kind of awkwardly. this whole thing is awkward. a guy in two even pieces on the bed, traumatized nurse in one corner and delicately sobbing legislacerator in the other.
but you are dave smooth motherfucker strider and you are about to bring this ice castle crashing down.]
hey pyrope look at this
STR1D3R, 1 S41D G1V3 M3 4 M1NU-
[she whirls around angrily to a face full of delicious grape scented clue. she sniffs at it gingerly, then snatches the paper out of your hand.]
thats what it says
H3S MOCK1NG US. TH3 MURD3R3R 1S MOCK1NG US!
[there’s a feral growl fraying the edge of her high-strung tone. she crumples the receipt almost thoughtlessly, all sorrow transforming into trembling rage. you-]
>FIND THIS KIND OF SEXY
[no, no you don’t.
you find it... a relief.
you were never any good around crying girls anyway.]
[pyrope spins around again and levels a pointed forefinger at the rustblooded cop.]
C4N YOU T4K3 C4R3 OF TH1S SC3N3 W1THOUT OUR 4SS1ST4NC3?
[the rustblood blinks, then nods warily. “Y-yes m’am!”]
GOOD. TH3N DO SO.
COM3 ON, N4NCY.
[she yanks you by the front of your cloak, all dagger elbows and dangerous purpose. you’ve got some things to ask her about later, but right now you need that fire.
not... you specifically.
not many mysteries are gonna get solved when one of you is down for the count emotionally.]
fastest one eighty i ever saw on the tiniest girl
STR1D3R, DO NOT MOCK M3.
1 4M TH3 L4W 4ND TH3 L4W 1S NOT MOCK3D.
WH4T D1D 1 JUST S4Y?
you say jump and i say how high
TH4TS MOR3 L1K3 1T
see i was saying that with a degree of irony that you were meant to echo
YOU S4Y 4 LOT OF TH1NGS. SOM3 OF TH3M 4DOR4BL3, M4NY OF TH3M NOT.
[she lets go of your coat, but does not cease her suicide stride to the hospital’s front desk.]
think this one is gonna get us in trouble with vantas too
H4 H4, 1 DONT C4R3.
BUT DONT WORRY D4V3. NO ON3 1S G3TT1NG SHOT TON1GHT.
10:02PM, THE HARBOURSIDE. AGAIN.
It’s not as suspicious as the last warehouse, mostly because you can’t see shit. Moon’s hidden behind fog and clouds this close to the harbour and even with the lock broken and the double doors thrown wide open, it’s still pitch black on the inside. You can hear Terezi practically buzzing with anxious energy beside you but she’s not smelling a lighting rig any faster than you’re finding it. Your lighter’s where it always is. You crack a dim light (enough to see the outline of Terezi’s angular face and catch the glare of her glasses) and wave it in front of you but any searching is cut short by the intrusion of a cool, confident voice.
Terezi! Took you long enough! How does it feel to 8e too l8te! Too l8t3! Too l8te!!!!!!!!
Troll eyes catch light in the dark like reflective plates. The stranger’s eyes flare up like lamps before she reaches behind her to turn the last row of fluorescents on. It’s still dim as fuck, but you can see the troll woman stand up in steps, unfurling herself like a spider, one limb at a time.
uh family reunion
Ohhhhhhhh, don’t 8e like Pyrope!
You used to call me sister and everything! We were a gr8 team! The gr8est!
WH4T 4R3 YOU DO1NG H3R3!?
The same thing you’re doing here, but 8etter!!!!!!!!
Solving this c8se!
1 DONT N33D YOUR H3LP VR1SK4.
O8viously you do!
How many deaths has it 8een? Six? And you’re no closer to catching him than you were when I left you that note at the hospital.
I’m almost em8arr8ssed!
STOP PL4Y1NG 4ROUND. TH1S 1S 4 S3R1OUS L3G4L 1SSU3 4ND YOUR 1NVOLV3M3NT 1S JUST GO1NG TO M4K3 3V3RYTH1NG 4 M3SS L1K3 1T D1D WH3N W3 W3R3 P4RTN3RS.
4LR34DY TH1S 3NT1R3 W4R3HOUS3 R33KS OF YOUR 1MP4T13NC3 4ND YOUR 1NCOMP3T3NC3!
Oh, come off it Pyrope. We were an am8zing team and you can’t deny it!
Like your new partner is 8ny 8etter! Just look at him! Some l8zy, dum8 human loser can’t repl8ce me!
hey im right here
D4V3, ST4Y OUT OF TH1S.
1M DON3 H4V1NG TH1S CONV3RS4T1ON, VR1SK4. T3LL M3 WH4T YOU R34LLY W4NT.
Hmph. No fun.
Fiiiiiiiine. I’m here to stop you from solving this c8se, o8viously! I’m here to show you up. I don’t even really care if this guy h8ngs. H8ppy?
Now that’s more like it!
C’mon, Pyrope! Come 8t me! Show me your teeth!
D4MMN1T, 1M NOT DO1NG TH1S B3C4US3 1 3NJOY 1T!
GROW UP, S3RK3T!
What? And 8ecome like you!?!?!?!? All dour and no fun????????
[you have no idea what the fuck is going on.]
>DRAW... YOUR GUN?
D4V3, 1 TOLD YOU TO ST4Y OUT OF TH1S!
1TS B3TW33N M3 4ND S3RK3T! YOULL JUST G3T 1N TH3 W4Y! G3T OUT OF H3R3!
no way thats happening
[you’re gearing up for an actual noble argument here, but Pyrope is off before you can get it out and damn, the woman moves like lightning. you’re used to her in mundane situations, skulking around like a slouched-back alley cat all hunched over and twitchy fingers and elegant snaps of her wrist. there’s another way she moves when you’re alone together that’s fluid and secretive but it’s nothing like the sharp precision in her dive, blade whistling through the stagnant air.
Serket’s got an expertise to the way she ducks back, 80% hair flip and 20% legs. Not surprising since trolls are apparently taught to fight before they can crawl. Still, it’s obvious who the more skilled combatant is and you’re surprised. There’s apparently a lot of things you still don’t know about Terezi Pyrope.]
WH4T DO YOU KNOW!?
I don’t knoooooooow........ what m8kes you think I know anything!?
B3C4US3 1 KNOW YOU.
You know, I really DID miss this, as infuri8ting as you were sometimes.
8ut I’ll cut you some slack here, Pyrope, since you’re o8viously struggling. I’m so gr8t that way!
You have been following...... a lot of f8ke leads!
It’s very important to SOMEONE to keep the identity of the killer a secret.
Aaaaaaaand, it’s not 8ecause they want to keep him alive!
wait what do you mean
Oh my god, you really are dull! What other reason would you want to keep someone for yourself!?
It’s soooooooo o8vious!
D4MMN1T S3RK3T, JUST T3LL US WH4T YOU KNOW. TH1S G4M3 1S R34LLY W34R1NG TH1N.
Not for me it isn’t!!!!!!
8esides, it’s not like I even have to listen to anything you s8y!
4ND JUST HOW DO YOU 3XP3CT TO G3T OUT OF TH1S? YOU 4ND 1 BOTH KNOW TH4T YOU C4NT B34T M3 1N 4 F41R F1GHT.
Of course not. Which is why I m8ke it my 8usiness never to fight a fair fight.
You 8rought me a lovely present tonight, Terezi!
[Terezi turns to look at you and you can see her eyes ringed with horror under her glasses.
suddenly, your gun hand twists violently, jerking upwards of its own accord.]
what the fuck
Dear, sweet, Terezi. Don’t you even think? I thought you were supposed to 8e the 8rains of the oper8tion?
A human is just as good as a low8lood.
>FIGHT IT FIGHT IT FIGHT IT
[you can’t. she’s too strong.]
[you strain against your arm’s traitorous movements, but she takes hold of your other hand to steady your shuddering. slowly, the barrel evens out, aimed squarely at your partner.]
fuck no oh fuck no
Chapter 15: [=] d4v3 w4k3 up
Chapter 16: their hearts are empty when their hands are full
If there’s anything the last month has taught you, it’s that trolls have a lot of fucking blood.
Terezi Pyrope has a lot of fucking blood.
You could have dealt with seeing less of it. It’s not that you’ve got a weak stomach. You’ve taken teeth-shattering hits to the face, your skin’s swallowed bullets before, plenty of them. It’s a little different though when...
>WHEN WHAT, STRIDER?
You get this feeling about decisions sometimes, like every outcome is a possibility waiting for you around the corner with a shank up the sleeve. It’s all just a matter of choosing the right corners. You gotta walk down ones where guys you can take are looming.
There’s another universe out there where Terezi Pyrope died
>THOTH SHE’S AWAKE
str1d3r how... how long w4s 1 out?
not long at all terezi its fine
for som3 r34son 1 thought th4t wh3n 1 wok3 up 1 would t3ll you wh4t h4pp3n3d to my 3y3s.
1 r34lly w4nt3d to t3ll you. 1 h4d 4 lot of th1ngs th4t 1 w4nt3d to s4y but
1 c4nt r3m3mb3r.
1 dont r3m3mb3r.
dont worry about it just get some rest
d4Ve, 1 dont r3m3mb3r 4 lot of th1ngs. 4m 1 aWak3?
yeah of course you are
[you’ve been waiting a while for her to wake up. of course she is]
4r3 you sur3? how do you know?
>STRIDER WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
>COMFORT YOUR PARTNER. COMFORT HER THIS MINUTE
look youre just confused because you lost a lot of blood
trolls h4v3 4 lot of blood d4v3.
yeah but im a real good shot pyrope
terezi ÍЖ sØ≫∂¼
D4V3 dᄛй¶ 4⅝pᅀ7&ђ*(gizǼ
i know i just
- the thing is, he’s not angry.
You’re angry at yourself, but he’s not mad. He’s just worried. He’s looking at the two of you with both his eyes. It’s the first time you’ve ever seen both his eyes.
Terezi says nothing. Her skin still has a sickly pallor and she’s leaning on her cane with necessity. You’re constantly drawing back from supporting her, hands steadying her shoulders, in the small of her back, around her arm comfortingly. You’ve gotten a lot of sharp looks, the kind where she rolls her lips up, showing all her tiny, pointy teeth in obvious irritation. You wish she’d be a little more understanding: this is kind of the first time you’ve ever shot your partner in the chest.
(“BUT NOT TH3 F1RST T1M3 YOUV3 SHOT SOM3ON3 YOUR3 SL33P1NG W1TH? H4H4H4!”
“oh yeah pyrope youre a real riot”)
It’s just that she looks so small sitting beside you with her hands on her knees and her chin pointed down. Why isn’t she arguing?
Yeah, okay, that was the obvious. Terezi just nods quietly. So quietly. Holy crap, she is just accepting this what the fuck is going on?
>PYROPE COME ON WHAT’S UP?
[terezi says nothing. she is so still and so small and so sincerely reticent.
oh god you shot all the fight out of her.
no that’s stupid.]
>REALLY HOPE THAT YOU DID NOT SHOOT ALL THE FIGHT OUT OF HER
were okay chief
She keeps her face turned from yours when you exit the office, shambling ahead of your determinedly. You catch the hint of a grin through four of her fingers.
>FONDLY REGARD THAT GRIN
[yeah okay you gotta admit you’ve grown pretty fond of that upturned smirk]
okay pyrope spill
STR1D3R, 1 4M NOT CURR3NTLY HOLD1NG 4NYTH1NG TH4T 1 COULD POSS1BLY SP1LL.
shit you know what i mean
NO 1 S1NC3R3LY DO NOT!
4R3 W3 T4LK1NG 1N TH3OR3T1C4LS H3R3? 1N M3T4PHOR?
C4N W3 PL34S3 US3 T4NG1BL3 CONC3PTS H3R3, D4V3?
oh my god come on
[she turns suddenly on one heel, her grin split as far across her face as possible as she pulls a WARRANT out from the depths of her jacket.]
D4V3, 4S USU4L YOU H4V3 4BSOLUT3LY NO 1M4G1N4T1ON.
1 T4K3 C4R3 OF TH1NGS! 1 H4V3 4LR34DY L1N3D UP FOR US 4 N3W C4S3!
W3 4R3 GO1NG 4FT3R 4N 1NF4MOUS MOBST3R! 4 F34RSOM3 H31R TO 4 1NF4MOUS 3MP1R3! 4 JOB COMPL3T3LY 4ND UTT3RLY UNCONN3CT3D TO OUR PR3V1OUS 1NV3ST1G4T1ON!
right man i sure love when you talk in tongues girl
by tongues i mean sarcasm and irony
its great when everything you say is opposite and youre all cryptic and incomprehensible
hey let me try that whoops too late im already doing it
D4V3 DONT B3 OBTUS3 1 KNOW YOU LOV3 1RONY, 3SP3C14LLY MY 1RONY.
1T DO3S SC4ND4LOUS 4ND 1RR3S1ST4BL3 TH1NGS TO YOU.
oh yeah thats totally it
anyways you gonna tell me about this new case or are we playing guess who all night
NO 1M4G1N4T1ON 4ND NO FUN.
D4V3, W3 43 GO1NG TO BR1NG 1N NON3 OTH3R TH4N.......
[she trails off.]
flawless dramatic pause pyrope
SHHH, YOUR3 RU1N1NG 1T. BUT TH4NK YOU!
[she turns the warrant around so that you can read the name on it.]
W3 4R3 B1NG1NG 1N TH3 4DOPT3D SON OF SP4D3S SL1CK!
-- #@%b-ut yo() n3*∏ 2 ^n⊙er5+--nd
i mean, he’s not a bad guy. you should go easy on him.
H3S 4 CR1M1N4L.
well, yeah. he is, ha ha. wow, you sure are observant ms. pyrope!
DO NOT S4SS M3 1N3XPL1C4BLY M4G1C HOM3L3SS HUM4N!
hey, hey, who’s sassing? i’m just offering a series of authoritative but friendly requests!
and the most important of these friendly requests is that you go easy on karkat, okay?
look how do you even know the asshole
come on, dave. i know everyone.
you and terezi. rose. karkat. jade
what the f-+￠|
d@v--3 d0^+ %@ 1?--|e +hat
but i mean, look this is important. can’t you just humour me?
after this, i won’t see you again.
because. i’m about to ￦--|k3 (...)Þ
but i just wanted you two -
- i mean if you see her again.
can you tell vriska goodbye for me?
and tell her that
HOW DO YOU KNOW VR1SK4??
what? ha ha ha.
who said i know her?
i’m just drinking my last toasts to absent friends.
you two should do the same.
ms. pyrope, you really should have kept that card.
>DOC SCRATCH’S PLACE
Felt Mansion, one of the most low-down, well polished, hoity toity, overpriced, impeccably clean, direly posh, swanky, swinging, pretentious pads in all of Newternia. It’s run by the mysterious mafia don, Doc Scratch - a guy so famously untouchable you could “disappear” just for whispering his name within ten feet of the precinct. The Doc’s into clean crime, though. Laundering and political interference. Cops don’t hate him and neither do the trolls. No, there’s only one man in Newternia who truly loathes Doc Scratch and that’s rival mobster, Spades Slick. Felt Mansion is the go-to club of rich carapaces and assholes who run for the Midnight Crew. According to your sources
(“STR1D3R, HOW DO YOU H4V3 SOURC3S ON TH3 M1DN1GHT CR3W?”
“babe its like you want to kill all the mystery in this relationship”)
this is where you have the best chance of finding KARKAT VANTAS.
The two of you stick out like sore thumbs. She’s a thumb with four nails through it. You’re a thumb stuck in boiling water for ten minutes till’ it’s hard (hoo hoo hee hee). To be fair, you are pretty damn snazzy sore thumbs - the only human and troll in the whole joint and you are dressed to the nines. The twelves. The thirteens.
Okay, well, she is at least.
>BE DISTRACTED BY YOUR PARTNER’S CHOICE IN FASHION
That dress does amazing things for her figure. By which you mean that it hangs loosely off her pointy shoulders like she’s a coat hanger and fails to create the illusion that she has any curves at all. Just all protractor limbs and collarbones like icepick heads tipped horizontally across her shoulders.
>FONDLY REGARD THOSE COLLARBONES
very fond of those collarbones you gotta admit.]
>STRIDER FOCUS ON THE JOB AT HAND
Right, no time for hanky panky. It’s like since she managed to not die you’ve become legitimately attracted to her. It’s probably just an adrenaline thing. A panic thing. A guilt thing. It’ll wear off soon, but until it does you find yourself distracted by the arc of her chin, the curve of her elbow. You kissed her outside - on the corner of her mouth, careful not to smear her lipstick - because the way the full moons’ light pooled on her cheekbones was exquisite. You used the word exquisite in your internal monologue. Going back over your thought process is a special kind of agony and you really wish that you had suggested Terezi wear the dragon dress. Being with her dressed in civvies in a nice place for once might have not been so disarming had she been wearing that merciful monstrosity.
>TAKE A SEAT AND ACT NATURAL
You do so. She sidles up to you a little and starts reading the drink menu. Her body language is flirtatious but her face is all business, her JUST1C3 S3NS1NG FROWN in full bloom as she mechanically leafs through the martini selection, sniffing so delicately like a shark in shallow water. You lean back and try to relax, scanning the dim room from behind your shades. All of a sudden her back goes rigid and she raises her nose slightly. It wrinkles cutely as she snorts at something.
B3H1ND YOU. 4CT N4TUR4L!
Terezi’s idea of acting natural is to swing herself into your lap like you are fucking Satan Claws on Twelfth Perigree Eve and she’s about to read you her murder list with her fucking lips on yours. She places her hands on either one of your cheeks and squishes your mouth into a pucker.
so of all the things right now is
the time is not one of them
STR1D3R W3 MUST R3M41N 1NCONSP1CUOUS.
NO ON3 W4NTS TO W4TCH 4 COUPL3 SUCK F4C3, 3SP3C14LLY 1F TH3YR3 TRY1NG TO GO UNNOT1C3D 4S W3LL!
NOW K1SS M3 L1K3 YOU M34N 1T!
. . .
dont i always
She looks at you a little funny.
[you kiss her, but you don’t do it like you mean it. you do it like you both have to pay attention to any shit that’s about to go down. you’re well practiced at this, though, and nothing’s looked more suave or romantic in the history of trolls and humans kissing. one arm loops around her tiny waist and the other clutches at the small of her back. she tangles one of her hands in your hair just like she does when-]
H3S GO1NG 1NTO ON3 OF TH3 B4CK ROOMS?
yeah thats weird
>KISS HER SOME MORE
1 TH1NK 1TS TH3 K3G ROOM.
no one stopping him then
>THE KISSING DISTACTION IS JUST A RUSE
well give him a few minutes then
let him feel nice and snug
JUST 4 F3W THOUGH. NOT TOO M4NY.
>GIVE HIM A FEW MINUTES
just a few.]
>CORNER VANTAS IN THE KEG ROOM
[you do this. you slam the door shut behind you and loom intimidatingly. pyrope and strider, baddest team on the street.]
[he doesn’t look impressed or even all that surprised to see you.]
YOU TWO LOOK RIDICULOUS.
>REALIZE THAT YOUR FACE IS COVERED IN YOUR PARTNER’S LIPSTICK
>NO ONE MUST EVER KNOW
[no, seriously bro. fraternization can get you suspended.
not her though.
K4RK4T V4NT4S. YOU 4R3 UND3R 4RR3ST.
ARREST? OH SHIT YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME.
1 N3V3R K1D 4BOUT JUST1C3, V4NT4S. W3 4R3 H3R3 TO 4RR3ST YOU.
I THOUGHT WE ALREADY DID THIS SONG AND DANCE WEEKS AGO.
Y3S 4ND W3 4R3 H3R3 TO DO 1T 4G41N. L3G4LLY.
[vantas, if possible, scowls harder, but he’s got a little fight in him yet. his face isn’t so messed up this time, but he’s still hardly what you’d call handsome. his features are kind of juvenile, all fourteen year old kid on an oddly chiseled jawline. his eyes are wide and anxious like he’s got marionette wires hooked in the lids and the bags under them are fucking grave ditches. he’s runty and mean looking, just a hint feral in a way most trolls only show when you’ve got them cornered.
karkat vantas looks like a man forever cornered.]
look we arent actually looking to take you down
neither of us give a shit about your blood colour we just wanna ask you some questions
preferably with clear answers this time bro
cmon terezi its the truth
WH3N W1LL YOU L34RN TH4T SOM3T1M3S TH3 TRUTH H4S NOTH1NG TO DO W1TH TH3 PURSU1T OF JUST1C3!
yeah that right there is the entire problem with the troll justice system though
WOW COULD YOU TWO BE MORE OBVIOUS?
IF YOU WANT TO GO FILL PAILS TOGETHER ON YOUR OFF TIME KNOCK YOURSELVES OUT. AGAINST A HARD SURFACE UNTIL BLOOD COMES OUT. I JUST DON’T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT.
TH4T 1S NOT -
vantas i dont think youre taking this situation very seriously
OF COURSE I’M NOT. YOU TWO GOT YOURSELVES TAKEN OFF YOUR OWN CASE SOMEHOW. SUCH BLIND -
dude be sensitive here
in case you hadnt noticed the ladys eyes dont work
NOT TH4T TH3R3S 4NYTH1NG WRONG W1TH TH4T.
nope not a thing
SEE, HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO TAKE YOU TWO SERIOUSLY? I’M THE SON OF SPADES SLICK. YOU TWO ARE THE PRECINCT’S BITTERLY UNFUNNY COMEDIC RELIEF SQUAD.
OH I AM QUAKING IN MY SHOES. WATCH ME QUAKE.
[vantas quakes mockingly.]
[terezi’s lip twitches dangerously and razor quick she grabs a length of lead piping from a nearby workbench and slams it into vantas’ chest. he’s pinned against the wall with a guttural grunt and you just whistle lowly in appreciation.
that’s your partner right there.
that’s your girl tz]
L1ST3N TO M3, V4NT4S. L1ST3N TO M3 4ND 1 W1LL T3LL YOU WHO 1 4M.
1 4M T3R3Z1 PYROP3, YOUNG3ST TROLL TO 3V3R M4K3 TH3 R4NK OF L3G1SL4C3R4TOR. BORN UND3R TH3 S1GN OF TH3 B4L4NC3R, CHOS3N BY 4 NOBL3 DR4GON LUSUS TO C4RRY ON TH3 PROUD L3G4CY OF TH3 N3OPHYT3 R3DGL4R3.
1 4M TH3 L4W, K4RK4T V4NT4S, 4ND WH1L3 1TS TRU3 TH4T MY P4RTN3R 4ND 1 DONT C4R3 4BOUT YOUR D3L1C1OUS MUT4NT BLOOD, 1 KNOW SOM3 P3OPL3 WHO DO, 4ND B3FOR3 1 OV3RROD3 TH3M... TH3Y W3R3 H4NDL1NG YOUR C4S3.
F-FUCK, IS THIS BLACKMAIL?
YOU CAN’T DO THAT!
sure we can
besides this is ever better than blackmail
its double reverse blackmail
like fucking double lukemia
it cancels itself out and in the end were actually helping you here dude
so try to be a little more reasonable
COM3 W1TH US 4ND W3 W1LL M4K3 SUR3 NO ON3 4T TH3 ST4T1ON LOOKS 4T YOUR BLOOD.
W3 W1LL PUT YOU 1N 4 S3CUR3 ROOM W1TH C4R4P4C3 GU4RDS SYMP4TH3T1C TO YOUR UPBR1NG1NG.
and if youre a good boy we might even let you go
1F NOT,W3 W1LL 4RR3ST YOU R1GHT H3R3, R1GHT NOW NOT ON GROUNDS OF YOUR 1NVOLV3M3NT W1TH CR1M1N4L 4CT1V1TY...
. . . BUT B3C4US3 OF YOUR BLOOD COLOUR.
[vantas finally looks concerned.
well, a little beyond concerned, actually. he looks kind of like he’s weighing his options. he’s chewing his lip, gently though because he’s a guy for whom drawing a little blood could be a death sentence. terezi leans hard on the pipe and you can tell she’s got it edged right in a delicate place where the tips of his ribs meet.
after a few minutes, he lowers his hands and says.]
HOW SECURE A ROOM ARE YOU PROMISING HERE?
the most secure
WELL. IN THAT CASE...
DON’T THINK THIS MEANS I’M SCARED OF YOU, THOUGH!
I GOT A LITTLE PROBLEM OF MINE OWN THAT I NEED HELP WITH.
YOU PROMISE NOT TO EVISCERATE MY BACK, I PROMISE TO SCRATCH YOURS.
I AM PATRONIZINGLY CONSENTING TO THIS ARREST. GOT IT?
OH, Y3S. CL34R 4S GL4SS, V4NT4S.
[terezi’s smiling as she reaches into her tiny purse to retrieve her handcuffs. but something’s wrong. her muscles go slack and her face is gripped with pain. a moment later, she is convulsing, wracked with wet coughs. the handcuffs clatter to the floor and sh-* %z=ough^4
you ?\«éher h$nz she &:---;
karkat is clearly disgus$~//--t3d but-]
== %SÖ >T WO?*)D B3 B3Z--+ 1F YOU JUST T4LK3ED!
>LET PARTNER HANDLE THE INTERROGATION
[sure. you’re just here to look pretty]
>LEAN AGAINS THE WALL AND LOOK PRETTY
[more like HARDBOILED, but never let it be said that you are not versatile.]
LOOK, I AGREED TO COOPERATE DIDN’T I? DON’T OVERTAX YOUR THINK PAN, OFFICER.
THIS IS YOUR GAME. I’LL TALK IF YOU ASK ME THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.
COME ON, GOT ANY SUSPICIONS YOU DESPERATELY NEED ME TO CONFIRM?
1N TH4T C4S3, Y3S. 4CTU4LLY.
SOM3TH1NG 1 H4V3 SUSP3CT3D S1NC3 W3 F1RST M3T.
YOU KNOW TH3 K1LL3R P3RSON4LLY, DONT YOU?
MOR3 TH4N TH4T, 1 TH1NK TH4T YOU KN3W TH3 K1LL3R B3FOR3 H3 B3G4N K1LL1NG.
1T WOULD 3XPL41N 3V3RYTH1NG, BUT 3SP3C14LLY YOUR S3NS3 OF P3RSON4L R3SPONS1B1L1TY.
YEAH OKAY, FINE. YOU FIGURED IT OUT. CONGRATULATIONS, YOU ARE HALFWAY COMPETENT AT YOUR CHOSEN PROFESSION, CLEVERLY PROVING MY PREVIOUS ASSESSMENT OF YOUR INTELLECT AND CAPABILITY AT THE VERY LEAST HASTY.
T3LL US 4BOUT TH4T.
IT’S NOT EXACTLY EASY FOR ME TO TALK ABOUT IT, OKAY?
E-ESPECIALLY NOT AFTER THAT LAST MURDER...
WH4T 4BOUT 1T?
IT WAS A MESSAGE DIRECTLY TO ME, THAT’S WHAT THE FUCK ABOUT IT.
OH GOD, I NEVER THOUGHT THAT HE’D ACTUALLY....
LOOK, SOLLUX WAS MY FUCKING FRIEND OKAY.
MY BEST FUCKING FRIEND.
[terezi straightens, visibly shocked.]
BEFORE I SPADES ADOPTED ME I WAS IN A TROLL ORPHANAGE. ONE FOR LOWBLOODS. I MET SOLLUX THERE AND OUR FRIEND ARADIA. SHE...
[with a thin hiss, terezi slams her palms on the table. hard.
yeah, you’re a little confused too. this story sounds mighty familiar.]
4R3 YOU M4K1NG FUN OF ME?
MAKING FUN OF YOU? PYROPE, I AM BARING MY GODDAMN SOUL AND TEARS RIGHT HERE AND YOU ACCUSE ME OF MAKING FUN? THAT PSYCHOPATH TORE MY BEST FRIEND INTO TWO PIECES AND THEN SENT ME A LETTER DARING ME TO CHASE HIM. WHY THE FUCK WOULD I BE MAKING FUN OF YOU!?
1 KNOW TH4T YOU H4V3 STUD13D US, V4NT4S!
YOU KNOW P3RF3CTLY W3LL TH4T SOLLUX C4PTOR W4S 4 POL1C3 T3CHN1C14N. 4ND TH4T H3 4ND 1 GR3W UP 4T TH3 S4M3 ORPH4N4G3.
YOU’RE CRAZY. SOLLUX WAS A FREELANCER. HE WORKED FOR THE MIDNIGHT CREW AND HE WAS MY FRIEND!
[the next few seconds are a little weird. they stare at each other, heaving a little and then recognition flickers across vantas’ surprisingly soft features. he whispers-]
. . . k4rk4t?
terezi i %$--xooked for ()=\P#
i know i know i
>FROM THE TOP
MOR3 TH4N TH4T, 1 TH1NK TH4T YOU KN3W TH3 K1LL3R B3FOR3 H3 B3G4N K1LL1NG.
1T WOULD 3XPL41N 3V3RYTH1NG, BUT 3SP3C14LLY YOUR S3NS3 OF P3RSON4L R3SPONS1B1L1TY.
YEAH OKAY, FINE. YOU FIGURED IT OUT. CONGRATULATIONS, YOU ARE HALFWAY COMPETENT AT YOUR CHOSEN PROFESSION, CLEVERLY PROVING MY PREVIOUS ASSESSMENT OF YOUR INTELLECT AND CAPABILITY AT THE VERY LEAST HASTY.
T3LL US 4BOUT TH4T.
IT’S NOT EXACTLY EASY FOR ME TO TALK ABOUT IT, OKAY?
BUT I WILL. JUST FOR YOU. BECAUSE YOU ASKED SO FUCKING NICELY.
UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE IN THIS ROOM, I WASN’T ABLE TO GO TO AN ORPHANAGE. TOO DANGEROUS. EVERYTHING WAS TOO FUCKING DANGEROUS. NEVER HAD A LUSUS, COULD NEVER BE ADOPTED BY A BLOOD CASTE BROOD MATE. I HAD NO BLOOD CASTE BROOD MATES. I DON’T EVEN REMEMBER WHERE I CAME FROM, JUST THAT I WAS ALWAYS FUCKING RUNNING.
I ALWAYS THOUGHT IT WAS A LITTLE STRANGE THAT SOMEONE WITH FUCKING INDIGO BLOOD, CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? INDIGO BLOOD!?
I ALWAYS THOUGHT IT WAS STRANGE THAT HE’D BE ON THE STREET TOO, ETCHING OUT A PATHETIC FUCKING LIVING WITH TRASH LIKE ME. LIVING ON FUCKING SCRAPS AND REFUSE THAT THE HIGHBLOODS AND THE CARAPACES WERE GENEROUS ENOUGH TO LEAVE US. BUT BEGGARS CAN’T BE CHOOSERS SO I HUNG ON TO HIM. HE WAS A BIG KID, AND STRONG. ALSO, HE WAS STUPID. OR I GUESS I THOUGHT HE WAS. IF THERE’S ONE THING MY FATHER TAUGHT ME LATER ON IT’S THAT YOU GOTTA KEEP IMBECILES WITH UNIQUE SKILLS REAL CLOSE, REAL TIGHT, REAL CHUMMY.
SPADES WOULD HAVE BEEN WRONG ABOUT GAMZEE MAKARA.
SEE, THE THING ABOUT GAMZEE.
THE THING ABOUT FUCKING GAMZEE -
- IS THAT HE HAD A SOPOR PROBLEM. WE USED TO PULL OFF BRILLIANT JOBS. PICK POCKETING, PETTY THEFT FROM STREET VENDORS. HIS ARMS WERE LONG AND MY MIND WAS SHARP LIKE EIGHT THOUSAND STEAK KNIVES. I WAS A GODDAMNED GRUB PRODIGY AT THAT KIND OF STUFF BACK IN THE DAY. BUT HE ALWAYS SPENT HIS SHARE ON SOPOR AND INSTEAD OF SLEEPING IN THE SHIT LIKE A REASONABLE TROLL HE WOULD JUST SCARF IT DOWN LIKE HONEY.
I NEVER COMPLAINED, THOUGH, BECAUSE WHEN HE WASN’T ON THE SOPOR HE GOT... WEIRD.
WEIRD IDEAS WEIRD. HE WAS REALLY INTO THAT CLOWN CULT BULLSHIT. THE TWIN MESSIAHS, DELIVERANCE AND RAINBOWS AND ALL THAT.
HE USED TO TAKE MY CHIN IN HIS HANDS AND LEAN IN REAL CLOSE AND WITH ALL HIS MENTALLY DAMAGED SINCERITY HE’D SAY TO ME: “bRo ThE mOtHeRfUcKiNg EnD iS nIgH!” AND THEN HE’D LAUGH AND I’D JUST FEEL REALLY SICK DEEP IN SOME PART OF MY DIGESTION SACK THAT I DID NOT KNOW EXISTED.
H3 W4NT3D TO B3 4 SUBJUGGUL4TOR?
YEAH WELL, HE NEVER SAID IT IN SO MANY WORDS. BUT ONE DAY HE STOPPED TAKING THE SOPOR. JUST WENT COLD TURKEY. HAD SHAKES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY AND LAUGHED ALL NIGHT. STOPPED LISTENING TO ME SO MUCH.
HE KEPT TELLING ME THAT THINGS WERE ALL WRONG, “bro”. THINGS WERE ALL WRONG AND HE WAS GOING TO “MOTHERFUCKING fix it.”
[vantas is shaking like a leaf, arms wrapped around himself tightly as he imitates his old friend’s fluctuating vocal patterns.]
FUCK, FUCK. I CAN STILL HEAR HIM.
I HEAR HIM EVERY NIGHT, WHISPERING IN MY FUCKING EAR.
I FORGOT ABOUT HIM FOR SO LONG, BUT AS SOON AS NITRAM WENT I KNEW IT WAS HIM.
BECAUSE WHEN WE WERE KIDS... BEFORE SPADES ADOPTED ME... HE TOLD ME THE LIST. HE MADE A LIST OF ALL THE PEOPLE WHO’D “motherfucking FUCKED IT ALL UP bro”. I NEVER THOUGHT HE’D DO IT.
BUT HE GAVE ME THE LIST.
then you can help us find him
. . . SORT OF. YEAH.
DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU MEAN BY “HELP”.
. . . I’M THE LAST VICTIM.
HE’S COMING FOR ME. SOON.
SO YEAH, IF THAT HELPS YOU, FUCKING HAVE AT IT.
[terezi flashes you a near-accurately aimed glance over her shoulder.
because she’s thinking the same thing you are.
and in a way that makes your stomach turn with guilt...
it does help.
it helps a whole fucking lot.]
Chapter 17: stick with me, baby, i'm the fella you came in with
> RETURN TO SHITTY APARTMENT
>RETURN TO YOUR SHITTY APARTMENT WITH PARTNER IN TOW
[oh yeah like this is an unusual occurrence these days, strider. give me a break.]
>TAKE THAT GIRL “BACK TO YOUR PLACE”
[you take her back to her place. her jacket slung over a kitchen chair is a familiar sight now as is the sight of her sipping a coffee on the edge of your bed.
usually, she’s not this quiet though.]
OH TH4NKS D4V3. V3RY P4RTN3RLY OF YOU.
whatever this seems like troll business anyway so should i really be sticking my nose in here
fucking trolls are all teeth and im gonna get that bitch snapped right off
then well be a real team two eyes and one nose between us
[she levels an unfocused look in your direction. it’s not really a look, but it’s a gesture meant to imitate one. she’s got one eyebrow quirked and her mouth twisted like a question mark. the look is sort of quixotic.]
what isnt that like the epitome of troll romance or whatever
come on terezi ive seen trollish romcoms before always afraid if i let you sleep here too many times ill wake up to see you hovering over me with a knife
YOUR3 V3RY PR3SUMPTUOUS, D3T3CT1V3 STR1D3R!
nah ive just got a good eye for detail and a nose for clues
[she gives you another truly strange look. terezi’s not pretty by any stretch of the imagination. nope, not even a little bit.
but there’s something about the height of her cheekbones, the point of her chin, her impossibly long eyelashes and the way she fits together like a folding desk or a protractor that you really wish you could capture.]
>TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH YOU NINNY
[no no no no no no
nothing good ever comes out of taking pictures of people you
love care about know.]
1T WOULD B3 STUP1D OF US NOT TO T4K3 TH1S OPPORTUN1TY, WOULDNT 1T?
WH4TS TH3 HUM4N S4Y1NG? DONT LOOK 4 C3L3BR4TORY HOOFB34ST 1N TH3 UDD3R?
thats not even close to anything a human would ever say
MY PO1NT 1S V4NT4S 1S OUR B3ST L1NK TO TH3 MURD3R3R.
so you wanna use him as bait
. . . Y34H.
[now it’s your turn to hesitate.]
>THIS IS BULLSHIT. OBJECT.
D4V3, YOU JUST S41D -!
i know i know but the idea just isnt sitting right with me
1T W4S H1S 1D34! 4UGH, HUM4N MOR4LS C4N B3 SO L1M1T1NG 4T T1M3S!
TH1S WHOL3 C4S3 W3V3 B33N DO1NG TH1NGS TH3 H4RD W4Y B3C4US3 1 KNOW YOUR3 TOO D3L1C4T3 FOR TROLL L4W.
OH, DONT B3 SO M3LODR4M4T1C!
1TS NOT L1K3 1V3 3V3R COMPL41N3D UNT1L NOW.
pyrope thats bullshit
[she sets her mouth into a firm line and sets her mug on the floor. the way she leans back on her palms, shirt carefully unbuttoned to show the angry line of her clavicle is a challenge. you -]
>TAKE THAT CHALLENGE, STRIDER
>KISS THE GIRL THIS INSTANT
[yeah, yeah. maybe in a second.
right now there’s something you gotta investigate.]
H4 H4, 4R3 YOU R34LLY WORR13D TH4T 1LL CUT YOU OP3N 1N YOUR SL33P?
i know that shits only for “matesprites” or whatever the fuck you call them
[terezi looks like she has something to say about that, but her ANACHRONISTIC PAGING DEVICE goes off.]
whats this about
[that her pager would go off is strange. since bringing in vantas tonight, you two have no active cases.
terezi doesn’t answer you. she shoves you off and hunches over the edge of the bed, the dim light from the pager making her teeth glimmer like a four year old’s school art project.]
TROLLS BORN OUTS1D3 TH3 C1TY 4R3 ST1LL R41S3D BY 4 LUSUS. 1TS D1FF3R3NT TH4N B31NG R41S3D BY ON3 OF YOUR OWN. YOU L34RN D1FF3R3NT TH1NGS. 1M NOT SUR3 4 HUM4N COULD UND3RST4ND.
thanks terezi i love when you put faith in me like that
i feel so honoured like you crowned me prom queen and now your offering me a hood up with the top down ride to the beach-house and youll even let me keep the crown on
in which case i guess that makes you the principal or some shit and now this situations starting to look real statutory
im not sure a troll could understand
D4V3, 1 4M TRY1NG TO T3LL YOU SOM3TH1NG 1MPORT4NT H3R3!
your mom was a dragon you told me this already
SHH! 1M TRY1NG TO M4K3 4 PO1NT 4BOUT MY LUSUS B31NG 4 DR4GON.
1N TH3 4NC13NT D4YS 4 TROLL WOULD K33P TH31R LUSUS 4T TH31R S1D3 FOR TH31R WHOL3 L1F3. TH3Y B3C4M3 P4RT OF US 4ND WH3N W3 LOST TH3M, 1T W4S L1K3 LOS1NG 4 P13C3 OF OURS3LV3S.
MY LUSUS D13D B3FOR3 1 COULD 3V3N M33T H3R...
4ND VR1SK4 W4S TH3 S4M3 4S M3. 3XC3PT TH4T 1 4LW4YS THOUGHT...
. . . TH4T SH3 W4S TH3 ON3 WHO D1D 1T.
what like she murdered her own monster mom
who even does that
SOM3ON3 WHO DO3SNT H4V3 4NY CHO1C3.
VR1SK4 H4D 4LL TH3 LUCK, BUT SH3 W4S SO UNLUCKY.
H4ND M3 TH3 CROWB4R.
THE UNLUCKY CASE OF VRISKA SERKET
so whats the point of your story
1T M1GHT B3 H4RD FOR YOU TO UND3RST4ND, BUT VR1SK4 4ND 1 W3R3 S1M1L4R. TOO S1M1L4R FOR M3 TO P1TY H3R ROM4NT1C4LLY, TOO S1M1L4R FOR M3 TO H4T3 H3R ROM4NT1C4LLY. 1T W4S SOM3TH1NG 4 L1TTL3 MOR3 4ND L3SS TH4N TH4T 4ND TH3R3S NO WORD FOR 1T 1N OUR L4NGU4G3.
“sister” maybe as in “scourge sisters”
W3LL, 1N TH4T C4S3 S1ST3R W4S JUST TH3 B3ST TR4NSL4T1ON FOR 4 TROLL WORD TH4T M34NS “P4RTN3RS 1N CR1M3 WHO M4Y 4T SOM3 PO1NT 1N TH3 FUTUR3 ST4B 34CH OTH3R 1N TH3 B4CK BUT FOR NOW H4V3 MUTU4LLY 1NT3R3STS TH4T W1LL 4SSUR3 TH31R COOP3R4T1ON TO TH3 D34TH.”
yeah can see why you went with sisters
TH3 TH1NG 1S 1 4LW4YS F3LT SO R3SPONS1BL3 FOR H3R 4CT1ONS...
1 S1LL DO.
1 F33L L1K3 1 M1GHT 4S W3LL H4V3 B33N TH3 ON3 TO DR1V3 TH3 BL4D3 1N.
no blades used here pyrope
her arm was ripped clean off
1 KNOW, 4SSHOL3. 1T W4S 4 M3T4PHOR.
OR M4YB3... 4 M3MORY?
N3V3RM1ND. TH4TS STUP1D.
You like big money and prizes, don't ya
You'd probably kill for a big prize, won't ya
Ya little bitch, it's your turn to spin
Free money, now spin again
1TS STR4NG3 THOUGH...
yeah this doesnt seem to fit his mo
serket here was a good highblood
Y3S. 1 KN3W SH3 WOULD LOS3 1F SH3 TR13D TO F1GHT H1M, BUT WHY WOULD H3 S3T UP TH3 CR1M3 SC3N3 L1K3 ON3 OF H1S MURD3RS?
well not like vantas made this asshole out to be the most rational of trolls or anything
NO, BUT 1F H1S MURD3RS R34LLY 4R3 R3L1G1OUSLY MOT1V4T3D H3 WOULDNT JUST C4PRR1C1OUSLY T4K3 ON 4 N3W V1CT1M. 34CH ON3 1S M34NT TO S3ND 4 M3SS4G3.
maybe theres something else we dont know about then
OH R34LLY? DO YOU R34LLY TH1NK SO, STR1D3R? 1 4M SO GL4D 1 H4V3 YOUR P33RL3SS 1NV3ST1G4T1ON SK1LLS 4LONG FOR TH3 R1D3!
woah what the fuck pyrope
whats with you tonight
1M SORRY 1 JUST...
[she kneels down to take a whiff of vriska’s pooling blood. it looks like it’s still fresh.]
. . . 1 F33L L1K3 1 SHOULD H4V3 B33N 4BL3 TO STOP H3R.
you were in the hospital what the hell were you supposed to do
NO 1 M34N B3FOR3 TH4T. 1 F33L L1K3 1 SHOULD H4V3 B33N 4BL3 TO STOP H3R FROM G3TT1NG K1CK3D OFF TH3 FORC3 1N TH3 F1RST PL4C3.
what did she do anyways
SOM3TH1NG V3RY STUP1D!
DO YOU KNOW HOW H4RD 1T 1S FOR 4 BLU3BLOOD TO LOS3 TH31R POS1T1ON 1N SOC13TY? ANY POS1T1ON?
about as hard as it is to win craps with dice loaded on snake eyes
YOU S33, W3 W3R3 ON TH3 M1DN1GHT CR3W C4S3 FOR Y34RS AND VR1SK4 SH3... GOT 1MP4T13NT. SH3 H4D TH1S CR4CK-BR41N SCH3M3 SH3 N3V3R BOTH3R3D TO RUN P4ST M3.
SH3 3ND3D UP T1PP1NG OFF SP4D3S SL1CK ON SOM3 1NS1D3 POL1C3 1NFORM4T1ON. SH3 PL4NN3D TO S3T UP 4 TR4P, BUT 1T 4LL B4CKF1R3D ON H3R 4ND TH3 M1DN1GHT CR3W 3ND3D UP PULL1NG TH3 B1GG3ST B4NK H31ST OF TH3 C3NTURY 4ND K1LL3D TH3 OLD COM1SS1ON3R!
holy shit that informant was her
[terezi rises slowly and turns to face you, eyebrows doing that suspicious thing right in your direction. oh shit, strider, way to play your cards close to the heart.]
HOW WOULD YOU KNOW 4BOUT TH4T? NO ON3 OUTS1D3 TH3 L34GU3 OF L3G1SL4C3R4TORS 4ND TH3 UPP3R 3CH3LONS OF TH3 POL1C3 D3P4RTM3NT W3R3 TOLD 4BOUT 1T.
>THINK OF A BELIEVABLE EXCUSE FAST
>HOPE SHE CAN’T SMELL LIES
[no, you’re pretty sure she can smell lies]
i was practically raised by the streets alright
someone like me picks up a lot more than diphtheria in those back-alleys pyrope
you keeps your ears to the ground and your eyes open or they end up torn out and tied in knots right at the optical nerve
>YOU GET THIS FEELING ABOUT DECISIONS SOMETIMES, LIKE EVERY OUTCOME IS A NERVOUS WIFE WRINGING HER HANDS IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM WAITING TO SEE IF HER HUSBAND’S SURGERY WORKED ONLY HE’S GOT A FUCKING SHRODINGER’S TUMOUR AND YOU’LL NEVER KNOW WHAT THE RIGHT ANSWER IS UNLESS YOU KICK DOWN THE DOOR TO INTENSIVE CARE AND SCOPE OUT THE SITUATION FOR YOURSELF
>THERE’S ANOTHER UNIVERSE WHERE DAVE STRIDER DIED THAT DAY BECAUSE HE DESERVED IT
>MAYBE THAT UNIVERSE WAS THIS UNIVERSE AND YOU ARE BOTH ALIVE AND DEAD. IT’S NOT LIKE THESE OUTCOMES ARE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE DUMPASS. WHO SAYS ALIVE WAS THE BETTER OPTION?
>IT’S ALL A MATTER OF LUCK
>AND THE REAL KICKER HERE IS THAT
>LUCK DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER
[you nearly double over, coat soaking through from the ragged holes the bullets left in your body. it’s like you’ve been bleeding for years. you try to tell terezi that you’re fine; that you’ve lived through this before, but when you open your mouth there’s just blood.
somewhere behind you, you hear the warehouse door slam shut.]
[in the darkness, serket’s blood and terezi’s eyes become iridescent. you blood glows like firelight and you can’t
SOM3T1M3S WH3N 4 POW3RFUL PSYCH1C D13S, TH3Y L34V3 4N 3CHO. 1TS C4LL3D 4 “DR34M BUBBL3”.
YOUR M1ND 1S W34K3R TH4N M1N3, SO W3R3 G3TT1NG C4UGHT UP 1N ON3 OF YOUR M3MOR13S.
thats so charitable o-f y o u
SHUT UP! 1 N33D TO G3T YOU OUT OF H3R3 B3FOR3 YOUR BODY GO3S 1NTO SHOCK!
[she slings one of your arms across her tiny shoulders and drags you towards the warehouse double doors. she’s stronger than you thought she’d be.]
funn y h o w every t i me
we run i-into your o l d p ar tn er
one of u-us g-gets s h o t
[you go “ha ha” flatly, but your partner isn’t listening to you. she sets you against the wall and begins pawing at the door, concentrated frown wilting all her features.]
D4MMN1T. W3 L3FT TH3 CROWB4R OUTS1D3.
D4V3, TH3 DOOR 1S ONLY CLOS3D 1N YOUR 1M4G1N4T1ON. JUST TRY TO 1M4G1N3 1T OP3N!
>CONTROL THE DREAM BUBBLE. IMAGINE THAT THE DOOR IS OPEN.
[you can’t. instead, you imagine that it is held shut only by a thin thread. a tiny, glowing vein between you and freedom. cut the thread, and you will
you should h a ve kept t he card tz
>HAND TEREZI THE CARD
they can o n l y
b e us ed
o n ce
>YOU HAVE USED THE “BIFURCATED TWO OF HEARTS”. THE ITEM DISAPPEARS UPON USE.
[terezi pulls you out into the street. even though it’s the middle of the night, everything is empty and silent. your crowbar is gone and so is your umbrella, but the rain doesn’t hurt. it doesn’t even sting.
she traces the circle of one of your bullet wounds gingerly. they look pretty real!]
JUST DOUBL3-CH3CK1NG, BUT YOU DONT H4V3 4NY M3MOR13S OF DY1NG FROM B31NG SHOT R1GHT?
no how would that even be possible
GOOD. 1 D1DNT W4NT TO 3XPL41N TH1S TO 4 DOCTOR, H4 H4 H4.
NOTH1NG SOUND MOR3 SUSP1C1OUS TH4N “OH SORRY TH1S HUM4N GOT TR4PP3D 1N 4 DR34M BUBBL3”. 3V3N 1F TH3Y B3L13V3D US, W3 W3R3NT SUPPOS3D TO B3 4T TH1S CR1M3 S1T3.
i dont need a doctor i need a priest
pyrope you gotta take me to the church
STR1D3R, YOU 4R3 3V3N MOR3 1NF4TU4T3D W1TH TH1S HUM4N R3L1G1ON TH4N 1 THOUGHT!
no its not that
theres just something i gotta see
S1GN. F1N3. BUT 4FT3R TH4T W3 W1LL GO TO YOUR 4P4RTM3NT 4ND YOU W1LL SL33P UNT1L YOU 4R3 B3TT3R!
you gonna nurse me back to health
WH4T 4M 1? YOUR LUSUS?
at least sit tragically by my bedside all broken widow shedding a single crystalline tear until i wake up
H4 H4, L1K3 YOU D1D FOR M3?
[you say nothing and she says nothing. you cling to each other as you walk to silent, empty streets towards Her Lady of Terror, the gates to the World of the Dreaming Dead.
the carapace who ran the orphanage used to tell you stories about the old world. carapaces live thousand of years, immortal unless killed, but their minds are strange and they remember in shapes and sounds and metaphor.
she told you about the two great cities - one gold, one dark. In those days, The World of the Dreaming Dead, the city that sat beneath the Horrorterror’s gaze...
in those days it was called
Chapter 18: when we said our first hello little did we know
HUM4N R3L1G1ON 1S SO STR4NG3...
1 DONT UND3RST4ND TH3 HUM4N PR3OCCUP4T1ON W1TH R3D3MPT1ON MYTHOLOGY 4ND R3B1RTH. 4R3 YOU 4LL R34LLY SO OF 4FR41D OF DY1NG?
i think youre interpreting the text from the wrong angle there
like you were setting up for a five ball trick shot and you were so confident but you scratched the cue right into the left pocket instead of into home base
now all the burly assholes in the club think you suck at billards and they know your name
gonna have to win so many arm wrestle matches to get any respect back
Y3S BUT 1N T1M3 3V3RY D4RK POCK3T MUST B3 F1LL3D. DO3S 1T M4TT3R WH4T GO3S 1NTO TH3M?
woah hey now pyrope lay off the filthy metaphors
i know you cant keep your paws off me but were in a church
this is so weird
where the hell is lalonde
WHO 1S “L4LOND3”
no i mean shes a sister here
gave herself unto the dark lords and now she never sleeps
shes always here when i need...
>LIGHT A SMOKE
always here when i need booze
the holy are supposed to give up all their earthly vices but the woman drinks like a damn fish
D4V3 WH4T 4R3 W3 DO1NG H3R3?
like i said
need some jack to save my immortal soul
J4CK? SOUL??? D4V3 SOM3T1M3S 1 DONT UND3RST4ND TH3 TH1NGS YOU S4Y.
jack is good for the soul pyrope ill show you
multipurpose for soothing bullet wounds existential distress and brushing your teeth
[the bullet sting is starting to fade, but there’s a different ache bouncing around inside your chest. it would be nice if you could state definitively that it had nothing to do with rose’s absence. snarky broad was always trying to run your life anyway.
but it’s weird that she’s not here.
to be honest, it’s weird that the streets were so empty in the middle of the night to begin with.
you rifle around under the pulpit.]
1. BOOZE HELL FUCKING YES
2. A BALL OF YARN, LIGHT PINK
3. A RADIO
>EXAMINE THE YARN
[it’s just a normal ball of yarn. apparently lalonde knit or some shit.
there’s nothing special or useful about this ball of yarn. it most certainly does not look like it could be used to knock the consciousness out of some cool dude while he was just minding his own business. nope.]
>DISCARD THE YARN
>EXAMINE THE BOOZE
you’re gonna have the cleanest teeth in the precinct.]
>TURN THE RADIO ON
[oh hey, you know this song.]
>REMEMBER THE LAST TIME YOU HEARD THIS SONG
you look better than last time!
yeah well not being shot full of lead does wonders for the health
no, i mean it!
you look happier!
what are you trying to do ruin my street cred
jade you got any idea how hard i work to cultivate this stony eyed stoicism
i pretty much eat eggs on slate every morning here
gonna paint my whole apartment black and white like im living in a detective movie
if you’re so stony eyed, dave, then why the glasses???
isn’t that a little bit like.....
nah its just that my rock hard stare would turn people into statues like some sort of nubile young boy medusa
yo whats up
youre kind of drifting off on me here harley
except... not really.
i’m kind of sad. i mean, this is really bittersweet, isn’t it??
..... this is the last time we’ll see each other!
I’m about to disappear. :(
>OKAY NO FUCK THAT
>SWITCH THE RADIO TO SOMETHING MORE CHEERFUL
cmon pyrope lets have a drink
yeah why the fuck not
D4V3 1NST TH4T 4G41NST YOUR HUM4N L4WS!?
does it look like theres anyone in here to enforce any laws
[she looks at you flatly.
ooh ms pyrope ooh
you gonna arrest me for being such a bad boy
G1V3 M3 TH4T!
[she snatches the bottle from you and takes a deep swig. a deeper swig than you were planning to even. it’s kind of a marvel to watch.]
woah slow down there gulpy
4M 1 M4K1NG YOU F33L “1N4D3QU4T3”? 1 H4V3 H34RD TH4T HUM4N M4L3S 4R3 LO4TH3 TO S33 4 F3M4L3 3XC3L 4T WH4T 4R3 P3RC31V3D TO B3 M4SCUL1N3 4CT1V1T13S!
terezi baby drinking whiskey is not a talent anyone wants to excel at except guys with scraggly beards living under bridges
[she hands you the whiskey back and you take a sip before falling into one of the pews, heavy boned. you wait for her to sit beside you but instead she just stands there quietly regarding you. it might be sort of fondly, however she’s doing it with her nose so it’s hard to tell.
suddenly you are very, very curious about something.]
>APPLY ALCOHOLIC VERBAL LUBRICANT
hey i gotta ask something
so all the crap you laid down when we were bringing in vantas
about being the youngest legislacerator since your crazy blind idol chick
was that all true
OF COURS3 1T W4S. WHY WOULD 1 L13 4BOUT SOM3TH1NG DUMB L1K3 TH4T?
just seems weird i mean
wouldnt something like that earn you all kinds of troll execution accolades and honour death pacts
THOS3 TH1NGS DO NOT 3X1ST!
yeah i was just making shit up but i had a point which is
what did you do to get saddled with me
[she quirks a smile, then extends her hand.]
1LL T3LL YOU 1F YOU D4NC3 W1TH M3.
no way i dont dance
1 S4W YOU US3 4 SWORD! 1TS PR4CT1C4LLY TH3 S4M3 TH1NG!
actually its not even close to the same thing how do you even figure that
OH G3T OV3R YOURS3LF 4ND JUST DO 1T. TH3R3S NO ON3 3LS3 H3R3 BUT M3 4ND 1 PROM1S3 1 WONT T3LL.
[something in her smile is so inviting.
something in her smile is so exciting.]
>DANCE WITH YOUR PARTNER
[you set the jack daniels down and take Terezi by the hand.]
fine but i havent danced in years
OH? HOW M4NY Y34RS, D4V3?
>HOW MANY YEARS?
>REMEMBER ALL YOUR MOVES
[you didn’t have a lot of them but every single one was chill as a beer at a barbecue and smooth as barry white’s voice trying to get laid.]
whatd you do to get stuck with a human detective
D4V3, DONT B3 STUP1D. 4FT3R VR1SK4 W3NT ROGU3 1 COULD H4V3 CHOS3N 4NY P4RTN3R 1 W4NT3D!
and you chose me
WHY DO YOU TH1NK?
>WHY DO YOU THINK?
[this is stupid. why would she choose you?
you never let anyone choose you.
it wouldn’t be very
looks like this is going to be the great unsolved mystery of my career
DONT WORRY TH4T W4S 4 RH3TOR1C4L QU3ST1ON. 1 WONT T34S3 YOU W1TH 4NY COQU3TT1SH R1DDL3S!
BUT TH1S 1S GO1NG TO SOUND R34LLY STUP1D.
yeah but so does most of what you say
>SPIN HER TO AVOID A WELL EARNED MANUAL DRUBBING
[you are the king of romance.]
the suspense isnt so much killing me as its making my eyes roll back in boredom
OK4Y BUT 1F YOU L4UGH 1TS GO1NG ON YOUR P3RFORM4C3 R3CORD.
fine by me
1TS H4RD TO 3XPL41N, BUT WH3N 1 LOOK3D 4T YOUR F1L3 4 W31RD TH1NG H4PP3N3D.
W3LL, R34D1NG YOUR PROF1L3 1 F3LT....
1 M34N TO S4Y 1... 3MPH4S1Z3D W1TH YOU.
okay yeah that is kind of weird
1 TR13D TO BRUSH TH3 F33L1NG OFF BUT W3 TROLLS B3L13V3 V3RY STRONGLY 1N S3R3ND1P1TY. 1 COULDNT JUST 1GNOR3 SOM3TH1NG L1K3 TH4T! 1 H4D TO M33T YOU.
so what youre saying is basically
that you were into my hot ass before you were even acquainted with it
you were trying to crawl into my grill for a kabob from the moment we met
i should have you written up for harassment
1TS ONLY H4R4SSM3NT 1F YOU DONT 3NJOY 1T STR1D3R!
and who says i do
BLUH BLUH HUG3 B1TCH!
BUT TH4TS NOT 1T. YOUR3 S1MPL1FY1NG TH3 1SSU3!
1T JUST F3LT L1K3 YOU H4D 4 B1T OF F4T3 SURROUND1NG YOU. 4ND 1 TH1NK 1 W4S R1GHT! 3H3H3H3
NOW 1TS T1M3 FOR YOU TO 4NSW3R ON3 OF MY QU3ST1ONS!
oh fuck i knew it was a trap
WHY D1D YOU JO1N TH3 FORC3?
>DAVE, WHY DID YOU JOIN THE FORCE?
dave, why are you going to join the force?
i thought you hated the police!
yeah well people change and i realized that there are some things more important than being the baddest mofo on the streets
which btw you were right all along was a stupid goal
it’s not like i’m upset, it just sounds dangerous. :(
dangers my middle name
its my first and last name too and my weird second middle name they give religious creeps at their dark confirmation
only thats danger in the holy tongue which is something like kfthbgl
sorry if i spit on you trying to pronounce that
is that why you want to do it??? because it’s dangerous!??
no i want to do it because
i want to protect people
i got things worth protecting
i was just sick of being helpless i guess
D4V3 YOU 4R3 ON3 OF TH3 STRONG3ST HUM4NS 1 H4V3 S33N. HOW W3R3 YOU H3LPL3SS.
i just was going in circles
we got a human expression about spinning our wheels but going nowhere
i felt like i was trapped in endless loops of increasing shittyness
but i was obligated to play the shit out until the end
until i was just covered entirely in shit from head to toe
at that point i just couldnt do it anymore because i look terrible in shades of peat
why the fuck are you smiling
SHHH DONT M1ND M3. K33P GO1NG
yeah thats about it
NO 1TS NOT. 1 C4N T3LL. YOUV3 GOT 4 TW1TCH 1N YOUR L1P L1K3 YOU W4NT TO S4Y MOR3...
[her finger is rest across your mouth feeling for that twitch.
this is starting to feel a lot like an interrogation.
...you hope she’s never done this in an interrogation before...]
fine okay there was
[terezi’s eyebrows waggle]
yeah a girl i guess
i was sweet on her
she was kind of a space case though and i always thought she couldnt take care of herself
i think maybe i was wrong about that but still i always just feel
like i should be protecting people
like it was a habit i got into a guess
i never really thought about it much
WH4T H4PP3N3D TO H3R?
i dont know
she was always saying weird bullshit about how she was going to wake up and disappear and one day
how the fuck am i supposed to know
if i knew where she went to i wouldnt have said disappeared alright
you dont think i looked for her????
i looked for her for a long goddamn time
im still fucking looking for her okay
yeah how could i stop
i guess im still sweet on her
its weird it always felt like there was something drawing us together
like we belonged together in some bullshit victorian poetry way
which is stupid but im not sure theres anyone else out there for me
[Terezi halts the dance fullstop, jerking you to a standstill as she places her hands on your chest and wrenches herself out of your grasp.]
4UGH! WHY DO 1 DO TH1S TO MYS3LF!
SUBJ3CT MYS3LF TO TH3 MOODY F1CKL3 NONS3NS3 OF CURMUDG3ONLY C4NDY BLOOD3D FOULMOUTHS!
TH1S 1S WHY TH3Y T3LL YOU NOT TO TRY F1LL1NG QU4DR4NTS W1TH HUM4NS! YOUR3 4LL T3RR1BL3 4ND M4K3 NO S3NS3!
okay what the hell are we talking about now
W3R3 NOT T4LK1NG 4BOUT 4NYTH1NG! 1 DONT W4NT 4NY MOR3 H34RTF3LT P1TY-J4MS 1F YOUR3 GO1NG TO JUST PULL TH3 PROV3RB14L RUG OUT FROM UND3RN34TH M3 L1K3 TH4T.
1 C4NT B3L13V3 YOU!
WH4T K1ND OF TROLL DO YOU TH1NK 1 4M!?
hello there dire cultural misunderstanding
you having a nice night
because mine just took a left turn into what the ever living fuck avenue
terezi come on what did i do
1 JUST 4DM1TT3D TO YOU TH4T 1 P1TY YOU. TH4T 1V3 4LW4YS P1T13D YOU FROM THE MOM3NT W3 M3T 4ND YOU R3P4Y M3 BY 1NFORM1NG M3 TH4T YOUR FLUSH3D QU4DR4NT 1S 4LR34DY F1LL3D?
YOU 4R3 1N “LOV3” W1TH SOM3ON3. YOU H4V3 FOUND YOUR SOUL M4T3. S3R3ND1P1TY UN1T3D YOU Y34RS B3FOR3 W3 M3T!
i uh guess
[she is magnificent in her livid anger, shaking just the slightest and utterly undone. this is the first time you’ve seen anger drive her to anything besides terrifying and calculating calm.
you just wish you could understand what you did.]
YOU JUST S41D SO!
4ND Y3T YOUV3 B33N C4RRY1NG ON W1TH M3 TH1S WHOL3 T1M3?
1D H34RD TH4T HUM4NS COM1TT3D C4R3L3SS R3D 1NF3D3L1TY BUT TH1S 1S R1D1CULOUS!
>TRY TO SALVAGE THIS SITUATION
look terezi i didnt mean to give you the wrong impression
its been fun but i thought
YOU THOUGHT WH4T????
>WHAT DID YOU THINK????
sleeping together under cloak and dagger all razors edge trying to dodge fraternization rules i mean
what did you really think that was a good way to build a future
this shit has an expiry date pyrope
youre the craziest bitch i ever met and theres no one id rather have my back in a fight but
youre not exactly marriage material
i thought it was the same with you
all the head games and the giggling and the weird ass fetishes no one would ever bring up with someone they were actually dating
i was having fun
i thought you were too
[she turns away from you.
oh, looks like that just made it worse. way to go.]
1TS NOT L1K3 TH4T FOR TROLLS D4V3.
what trolls dont have fun
big surprise i always thought you were some kind of freaky anomaly
DON 3V3N TRY TO B3 CH4RM1NG R1GHT NOW. 1 DONT 3V3N W4NT TO LOOK 4T YOU.
fine but at least talk to me thoth
okay if trolls dont have fun what do they have
QU4DR4NTS YOU MORON!
YOU KNOW THOS3 V3RY 1MPORT4NT CULTUR4L M4T1NG MOR3S TH4T MY 3NT1R3 SOC13TY 1S B4S3D UPON TH4T YOU US3D TO QU3ST1ON M3 4BOUT 1NC3SS4NTLY?
so quadrants prevent trolls from having a fun roll in the hay once in a while
so its like illegal or what
thats a sad existence
NO. 1TS NOT 1LL3G4L. SOM3 TROLLS QU1T3 3NJOY 1T!
BUT 1T 4 V3RY 3MPTY F33L1NG. 1N TH3 OLD D4YS, TROLLS WHO D1D NOT F1LL TH31R QU4DR4NTS BY 4 C3RT41N 4G3 W3R3 CULL3D. OUR SOC14L M1NDS3T 3VOLV3D TO LOOK FOR LONG T3RM POSS1B1L1T13S 1N 4LL CONCUP1SC3NT R3L4T1ONS.
1T 1S V3RY UNUSU4L FOR 4 TROLL TO 3NT3R 4 S3XU4L L14SON UNL3SS TH3 3MOT1ON 1S 4LR3DY PR3S3NT.
WH1CH 1 3XPL41N3D TO YOU 4LR34DY. 4G3S 4GO!!!
yeah you did
>YOU COMPLETE MORON
thats why you thought
4MONG OTH3R TH1NGS!
YOU S3ND V3RY M1X3D S1GN4LS D4V3 STR1D3R!
>SEND A MIXED SIGNAL
[she fights as you try to draw her into your arms, but not hard enough. you’ve seen her fight. she folds into your embrace willingly.]
this shits gone on long enough
dont worry about it
1 WONT. NOT 4NYMOR3.
most of tonight was a dream anyways
itll wear off in the morning
1 C4N JUST PR3T3ND TH3 WHOL3 TH1NG W4S 4 DR34M
just temporary madness
and in the morning well
Chapter 19: [=] wake up
[you fail to wake up]
gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG]
GC: D4V3. 4R4D14 W4NTS TO T4LK TO US. YOU SHOULD COM3 TO TH3 ROOF 1MM3D14T3LY
TG: since when are you her little messenger girl
GC: S1NC3 SH3 4SK3D M3 TO T3LL YOU!
GC: WHY DO YOU 4LW4YS H4V3 TO B3 SO D1FF1CULT!
TG: because im like an ap class calculus test
TG: im hard as ninja gaiden on the regular nintendo a diamond game genie cant pierce that fucker
TG: more challenging than hitting a touchdown to the left fielder to get that postgame butt pat
TG: the point is my brain is fort knox and youre a pithy beggar scratching at the safe door like a dog whos owners forgot to put it in the kennel before going on vacation
GC: Y3S Y3S W3V3 B33N OV3R TH1S 4 M1LL1ON T1M3S D4V3
GC: 1F YOU 4R3 DON3 D3FL3CT1NG 4LL YOUR NOT-3V3N-TH4T-COMPL3X 1SSU3S ONTO TH1S CONV3RS4T1ON WOULD YOU JUST G3T UP H3R3?
TG: wait what did you just accuse me of
gallowsCalibrator [GC] has ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG]
TG: no really what did you mean by that dont just say weird shit and run
AA: the problem is that the game was not built for two universes as diverse as ours to merge sessions
AA: indeed the game did not expect us to win at all
GC: W3 SUR3 SHOW3D 1T. >:]
AA: yes we certainly did
AA: we took the complication presented by our games unusual moebius strip structure and exploited every loophole
AA: it was actually very ironic
AA: which is something dave should appreciate
TG: im trying but im not actually sure what it is im appreciating
AA: to put it simply
AA: we cheat a system that was built with the expectation that wed have to cheat in order to win it
AA: we did a double moebius reacharound of cheating in which we broke the rules that were already broken so thoroughly that in fact we actually ended up fixing them
TG: believe it or not fairy girl but that doesnt actually clarify anything
AA: i suppose its not actually relevant whether you understand or not
GC: 4R3 W3 GO1NG TO B3 4BL3 TO G3T OUT OF TH3 S3SS1ON F1N4LLY TH3N?
GC: TH1S 1S D1FF3R3NT TH4N L4ST T1M3 W3 WON
AA: it is
AA: the game doesnt understand the variables we are presenting it with so as of right now we cannot leave
AA: but i am 0ptimistic
TG: uh huh
AA: all we have to do is initiate our universe creation routine manually
GC: 4ND HOW DO W3 DO TH4T?
GC: L4ST T1M3 1T JUST K1ND OF... H4PP3N3D
AA: dream bubbles
TG: jesus dream bubbles are your fucking solution for everything
TG: deus ex dreamshit is more like it
TG: i am so sick of dream bubbles
GC: D4V3 DONT B3 RUD3
AA: you wont mind these dream bubbles dave
AA: well you probably will but they are different
TG: yeah how so
AA: because they are real
AA: our universes existed at opposite ends of a paradox
AA: although the game did not expect us to combine forces to win the connection between our individual sessions was not random
AA: i have theorized that our session was probably intended to be a sacrificial lamb in place to aid your particularly difficult session along to victory
AA: perhaps all game sessions are built like this
TG: thats a little fucked up
GC: 1TS UNJUST 1S WH4T 1T 1S
AA: it doesnt matter
AA: were alive
AA: and i dont intend to allow us to languish after all the work weve done
GC: WHY 4R3 YOU T3LL1NG TH1S TO US?
GC: WHY NOT TO K4RK4T OR JOHN? TH3YR3 TH3 L34D3RS
TG: yeah i gotta admit i dont get any of this
TG: not that john would either
TG: the girls are better at this kind of thing than we ever were
AA: as the hero of mind and the hero of time the two of you possess insight to the inner workings of this sessions increasingly complex timeline
AA: the two of you have spent this whole time performing an admirable balancing act with probability
AA: the dream bubbles we will be entering are all probable
AA: each of them is a representation of how our timeline could have gone
AA: finding one in which our fates were compatible might help jumpstart the create universe routine
AA: actually i am quite sure that it will
AA: after that i cant say what will happen
GC: WONT W3 JUST M4K3 4 N3W UN1V3RS3 TO L1V3 1N L1K3 W3 TR13D WH3N W3 M4D3 34RTH?
AA: but its entirely possible that the game will compensate by creating two universes
AA: one for the humans and one for the trolls
GC: SO WH4T DO W3 DO?
AA: its very easy
AA: i will tell you what to do............
[she tells you.
it is both very easy and the most difficult thing you will ever attempt to do.]
TG: pretty heavy
GC: L1K3 4 BL4CK HOL3. >:[
TG: like smuppet ass
GC: Y34H. 1 4CTU4LLY N3V3R THOUGHT TH4T 4FT3R 3V3RYTH1NG W4S DON3 WED 4LL GO B4CK TO OUR OWN UN1V3RS3S
TG: im gonna have to brace myself for the tears when egbert finds out he can never show that asshole vantas his nic cage movies
GC: W3 SHOULD GO B4CK...
GC: WH4T 4R3 YOU DO1NG?
TG: wow it was kind of obvious
GC: D4V3 COULD YOU POSS1BLY H4V3 WORS3 T1M1NG!?
TG: all i got is time tz
GC: NO YOU JUST... WHY WOULD YOU... R1GHT NOW...
TG: i thought you wanted me to
TG: the moment seemed right werent you jonsing for this the whole time
TG: i have no idea whats even going on with us anymore
GC: M3 N31TH3R...
Chapter 20: thank you for all the joy and pain
You’ve never quite been satisfied with the way the world is when you look at it through your eyes. That’s why you took up photography.
It’s always been very important to you to capture moments. Ever since you were very little, you’ve felt kind of like if you tried hard enough, you could hold a single, singed moment in your hands. You could capture it, examine it, relive it.
- only sometimes your photographs come out wrong. Sometimes when you take a picture, it changes in strange and impossible ways. People shift and become different - faces soften, eyes brighten, the greyscale scratches away to reveal bright swathes of colour.
The thing about the way these pictures change is that they always change to something familiar, as if into images viewed in a waking dream.
Always at the edges of your memory
Just out of your sight. Behind you, beside you, whispering in your ear.
But when you turn around.
On Monday Pyrope tells you that the case has gone cold. Also, sour. Also straight to the load gaper and the Commissioner's about to flush. She doesn’t quite make eye contact with you and neither of you talk about what happened the night you found Vriska’s corpse. The former Detective’s death has been kept from the papers and those around you mention it discreetly. Terezi’s great at feigning ignorance and you’re even better at not reacting at all. Your Poker face is every suite in the card deck and every moneyshot roll in craps.
Terezi’s got another plan though. You’re glad the girl’s got plans, because yours was something along the lines of throwing your hands up in the air and going off the gr -
“STR1D3R W3 MUST THROW OUR H4NDS UP 1N TH3 41R 4ND GO OFF TH3 GR1D.”
Terezi finally uses up that medical leave she was owed from the time you shot her. The boss says nothing about the way she’s taking it nearly two weeks after getting out of the hospital.
Your situation’s a little more complicated. You’re AR’s golden boy. He is fair in all matters judicial and legal but it’s not out of line to say that he likes you best.
So you break his little heart.
You aren’t even certain that carapaces have hearts. And even if they do, his was probably replaced long ago by a judge’s gavel holding a handgun.
In the cafeteria on Tuesday, you spit at a blueblood cop’s feet and call him some choice names that involve words like “grubfucking” and “pails dry as the cracked desert dirt”. He tries to kick your ass but you were better, you quicker and you weren’t actually trying to win any sort of bar room brawl. The cafeteria erupts in chaos and the boss suspends you for three weeks, his buggy little eyes full of terribly stoic disappointment.
So now you’re in a diner listening to shitty pop music on the radio and doodling on a map of a city. It’s pretty professional. You guys are like the Grubdonalds of professionalism -
GRUBDON4LDS OF PROF3SS1ON4L1SM? 1M SORRY STR1D3R 1M NOT QU1T3 FOLLOW1NG TH4T ON3
no like were cheap quick and greasy
Oh smooth. That was the complete wrong thing to say, asshole. Basically the best shit to say around a woman that you used to sleep with on a regular basis right after you accidentally broke up with her is to make oblique yet filthy sexual metaphors in brightly lit public spaces.
whatever dont worry about it
lets focus on the case
1M M4RK1NG DOWN 4LL TH3 4R34S WH3R3 H1V3L3SS ORPH4NS 4R3 KNOWN TO RO4M
makara was a street prophet according to vantas
pretty much impossible that no one noticed some ratty jesus wannabe rocking down the alleyways the last ten years
WH4T 1S J3SUS?
you know what i have no idea
its something like jegus i think
YOU 4R3 SL1PP1NG TON1GHT D4V3
1 H4V3 NOT SNORT3D 1NTO MY DR1NK 1N3L3G4NTLY 3V3N ONC3
yeah sorry about that you know how every moment of my waking life is devoted to coaxing coy smiles from your pursed lips
i live to watch them unfurl
spilling out reams of ear piercing death cackles
>WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
anyways you think therell be sympathizers
WH4T DO YOU M34N?
makaras religious freakery
you think maybe well have trouble from fellow believers
1TS C3RT41NLY 4 POSS1B1L1TY
TH3 CHURCH OF M1RTHFUL M3SS14HS H4S D3F1N1T3LY S33N 4 R3-3M3RG3NC3 4MONG TH3 MOR3...... TR4D1T1ON4L OF TH3 H1GHBLOODS L4T3LY
NO ON3 T4K3S TH3M S3R1OUSLY
yeah and since were scouring lowblood ghettos
[this is your old neighbourhood. you don’t bother mentioning that though. pyrope’s read your file. she knows your shit.
thankfully, she says nothing.]
[yeah that’s the plan, but terezi doesn’t own a single outfit that isn’t meant to be some sort of full-front kamikazee assault on the optical rods.]
[not a single outfit]
woah this place is human owned
YOU SOUND SURP1S3D D4V3
nah just moved by this very touching display of interspecies cooperation
if more trolls and humans only went in on book-store leases together the world would be a better place
OH COM3 OFF 1T
YOU M4K3 TH3 POSS1B1L1TY OF TROLL-HUM4N P4RTN3RSH1PS SOUND COMPL3T3LY 1MPROB4BL3
[you trail off because this is dangerous territory.]
>ENTER THE BOOK SHOP
[terezi goes to do the talking. the guy at the front is a very DAPPER looking human man. his countenance displays an aura of RESPONSIBILITY and DOMESTICITY.]
[he looks like the sort of man who would make a GOOD FATHER. all in all he gives you a very strong impression of being the exact opposite of the man who raised you.
terezi works her weird charisma up front while you do your job: observe the guy’s wares looking for anything suspicious.]
>EXAMINE THE BOOKSTORE
[this place seems pretty legit.]
>NO SUSPICIOUS LITERATURE?
[yeah that’s basically what you’re looking for, duh.
anything about trollish religious history or the mirthful messiahs or, you guess, miracles.]
>EXAMINE THE LITERATURE
the book spines HERE!! to examine the literature in more “intimate” detail)
[okay what the fuck]
>SPEND WAY MORE TIME THAN YOU MEANT TO EXAMINING THE LITERATURE
D4V3 COME ON W3R3 DON3 1N H3R3
[terezi is already out the door when you say ‘wait’.
that was fast.]
[you don’t have to investigate. why do that when the kindly man at the counter is willing to indulge in handy EXPOSITION.]
sorry about that, son. i didn’t mean to make your lady friend angry!
oh. was she not enraged? she and i were having a friendly exchange when my words seemed to affect her very delicate and womanly mood. i feel terribly uncourteous. i should have known that most people wish to keep such things discreet.
still not following
that’s fine, son. i understand that the social stigma can be difficult to handle at times, however you both look like young and hardy individuals. just remember that when it feels like you’re carrying the world on your shoulders, that just means that your back muscles are getting a good workout!
no i seriously have no fucking clue what youre on about
the wink reminds you of that weird hobo with the rainbow
that doesn’t make it any better.]
that’s fine, son. we do not have to discuss it openly.
just know that the most beautiful flowers bloom in adversity. and you certainly have found yourself a very lovely flower!
it doesn’t matter if the world doesn’t understand. love is not meant to be understood. it is the most amazing mystery that life holds.
know that i understand.
and i am so proud of you.
[a figure shadows the doorway, bringing a sudden chill with her as the night air rushes in. a tall, stiletto-sharp woman enters the shop. the radio sputters to life in accompaniment. she is a troll and you can tell by the way the man’s mouth wrinkles at the corners at the sight of her that to him, she is something more.]
>SUDDENLY REALIZE WHAT THE FUCK THAT GUY WAS ON ABOUT
thanks for the advice dude i
gotta catch up to her
good luck, son!
[the troll woman gives you a discerning look as you brush past. something about her seems familiar. she reminds you of
she has a nice ass.]
>CATCH UP TO TEREZI
D4V3 1 DONT W4NT TO T4LK 4BOUT 1T
W3 H4V3 4 LOT OF GROUND TO COV3R TON1GHT 4ND NO T1M3 TO B3 D1STR4CT3D BY TH3 STR4NG3 D3LUS1ONS OF 4G1NG HUM4NS
1 HOP3 YOU 4R3 NOT 4TT3MPT1NG TO OP3N 4NY 4WKW4RD 4V3NU3S OF D1SCUSS1ON W1TH M3
so that guy had some fucked up books in his shop
4NY MOR4L JUD1CUT1ON3R WOULD B3 SC4ND4L1Z3D 4T TH3 L3WD N4TUR3 OF SOM3 OF TH3 TH1NGS 1N TH4T SHOP!
but not you
WH4T W4S TH4T???
D1D 1 H34R TH3 SOUND OF D4V3 STR1D3R TRY1NG TO ST4RT 4N UNCOMFORT4BL3 CONV3RS4T1ON???
not so fun when youre on the other side huh
NOT SO FUN 3V3R
1 N3V3R W4NT TO T4LK 4BOUT 4NYTH1NG P3RSON4L W1TH YOU 3V3R 4G41N
1T H4S 1NT3RF3RR3D W1TH OUR PROF3SS1ON4L R3L4T1ONSHIP 4ND 1 4TTR1BUT3 TH3 CONFUS1NG C4T3GOR1Z4T1ON OF OUR 1NT3R4CT1ONS 4S TH3 R34SON W3 H4V3 Y3T TO SOLV3 3V3N ON3 C4S3
1TS 4LL TRU3 NO M4TT3R WH4T H3 S41D
TH4T HUM4N 4ND TROLLS DONT M1X
4LL TH3 L4WS 4G41NST 1T... TH3R3S B33N 4 R34SON FOR TH3M 4LL 4LONG
TH4TS PROB4BLY WH4T YOU TH1NK R1GHT
W3 H4V3 3NOUGH HORRORSTOR13S B3TW33N TROLLS 4BOUT WH3N QU4DR4NTS GO SOUR
BL4CK 1NF3D3L1TY R3D 1NF3D3L1TY
1 H4V3 1NV3ST1G4T3D MURD3RS OV3R 3V3N P4L3 1NF3D3L1TY!
HOW COULD 1T 3V3R WORK B3TW33N 4 TROLL 4ND 4 TH1NG TH4T DO3SNT KNOW QU4DR4NTS?
did you just call me a thing
D4V3 DONT B3 R1D1CULOUS
1 W4S JUST T3LL1NG TH3 TRUTH
TH3 TRUTH 1S WH4T 3V3RYON3 B3L13V3S
1T DO3SNT M4TT3R WH4T W3 P3RSON4LLY DO OR S4Y
TROLLS 4ND HUM4NS PROB4BLY DONT B3LONG 1N TH3 S4M3 UN1V3RS3 L3T 4LON3 TH3 S4M3 B3D
fuck ok youre right lets not talk about this
D4V3 WH4T 4R3 YOU TRY1NG TO 4SK M3??
>WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO ASK HER
to be honest i never thought making the beast with any number of backs depending on the position with a troll was something id ever end up doing
i never really gave a shit what your culture even thought about it
OH 1 S33
YOU W4NT TO KNOW 1F 1 H4V3 SOM3 SORT OF CR33PY HUM4N F3T1SH
i mean you and huffin up the color red like liquid cocaine on a spoon into a crack babys bloodstream
D4V3 1 C4NNOT B3L13V3 TH4T YOU -
[she doesn’t get further than that because you
[she doesn’t kiss back.]
[she all mad.]
You stopped taking photographs of things you actually gave a shit about a long time again because the dissonance was really starting to get to you. It made you feel crazy dude.
But sometimes you...
... sometimes you do.
Sometimes everything is so familar, just beyond your grasp like you’re in a glass teapot that’s slowly filling with milky liquid. Your fingertips are on the glass, and just beyond that is reality but you can’t touch it and you can barely see it.
You’re living your life in a constant state of deja vu.
Chapter 21: [=] sleep
>AS IF IN A WAKING DREAM
so all you need us to do is wake up
sounds easy just gotta make sure we dont roll over and hit the metaphorical snooze button
its more complicated than that
i want the two of you to stay in the dream when you wake up
and ride the timeline out to its completion
WH4TS 3V3N TH3 PO1NT OF TH4T?
we are all capable of dreaming of better worlds terezi
the question is will we
YOU S4Y TH4T 4S 1F YOU DOUBT 1T
the universe is dreaming too
the worlds we see are all possible lives we could live
but what we dream is a message
its trying to tell us something important
if we cannot read that message through to the end we will never be masters of our own destiny
i dont know about the two of you but i myself am rather sick of someone else writing my story
from now on i will be the architect of my future
i expect the same from the rest of you
okay fairy girl
whatever you say
So what happens when we enter the Waking Dreams?
i dunno just sit tight and do dream shit until you wake up I guess
Aradia Said That There Is A Distinct Chance That Not All Of Us Will Experience The Dreaming Unconsciously
what, like some of us might actually be awake the whole time?
actually yeah thats kind of the plan
best case scenario
WHAT IF WE DON’T THOUGH.
DON’T WAKE UP. WHAT THE FUCK ELSE WOULD I MEAN?
oh man waking up is basically the hardest thing i could possibly think of vantas
it sounds so easy to fail at
no junior ignore the smell of pop tarts wafting from downstairs
aint no reason to open your eyes and sling your legs off the mattress
the effort that would require is fuckin herculean
dave, don’t be like that! karkat has a point! what if we don’t wake up? D: D: D:
I GU3SS TH3N....
You guess what, Terezi?
... 1T PROB4BLY M34NS YOULL JUST L1V3 TH3 R3ST OF YOUR L1F3 1N TH3 DR34M. >:T
okay, wow ha ha. how about we stop having this conversation!
because there’s no way that’s gonna happen.
I AM SORRY JOHN THAT I FELT IT NECESSARY TO EXPLORE EVERY AVENUE OF THIS SORDID VENTURE.
GOD FORBID WE BE PREPARED FOR ANY WORST CASE SCENARIOS
NOT LIKE THOSE EVER HAPPEN TO US.
karkat don’t be such a downer!
it’s not gonna happen because i’ll look after you. ;-)
we’ll all look after each other!
I AM SO VERY COMFORTED.
I Must Admit That The Prospect Of Mutual Protection And Comradeship Even Within The Confines Of A Possibly Dangerous Dream Bubble Venture Is Actually Somewhat Mollifying
I Guess What I Am Trying To Say Is
Thank You John
I Will Look After You As Well
and when we wake up maybe our poor frog will look less confused. D:
HARLEY HE WILL ALWAYS LOOK LIKE A DROOLING GENETIC MISHAP
I AM SORRY TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR FROGISH PROGENY IS PROBABLY A SIN AGAINST NATURE.
whatever, fuckass! at least he doesn’t have cancer! :T
are all of you ready
I suppose so.
Wasting Anymore Time Would Be Meaningless
L3TS G3T TH1S OV3R W1TH >:]
>DAVE: WAKE UP
[she’s groggy when she answers the phone, but she knows why you’re calling.]
terezi you were right
i know where gamzee makara is
we gotta fucking talk to karkat again
[it’s almost over.]
Chapter 22: [I] play a hauntingly familiar refrain
ONE MONTH AGO, a VERY PECULIAR YOUNG MAN plays a FAMILIAR TUNE on the old junk piano.
He is waiting for a friend.
wow, finally! took you long enough!
WELL EXCUSE ME YOUR MAJESTY BUT SOME OF US HAVE LIVES AND THINGS TO DO BESIDES BUMMING AROUND ALL DAY WAITING FOR THE PITHY CHARITY OF A CERTAIN TROLL WHO’S GENEROSITY IS NEAR GOD-LIKE AT THIS POINT.
ha ha, karkat. you’re such a kidder.
but really, what happened?
THERE’S FUCKING COPS ON THE CASE NOW. ONE OF THEM’S A LEGISLACERATOR.
I HAVE TO MOVE CAREFULLY NOW IF I DON’T WANT TO SEE MY CUSHIONED HIP BUTTRESSES GROUND THROUGH THE LEGAL SYSTEM LIKE A JUICY MOOBEAST.
oh come on. it can’t be all that bad.
OF COURSE IT ISN’T.
HOWEVER GOOD THEY ARE - AND I HIGHLY DOUBT THAT THEY ARE ANY “GOOD” - I AM DEFINITELY BETTER.
you’re a “fierce” mobster. the “terror” of newternia’s streets.
JOHN I SWEAR TO GOD IF YOU ARE MOCKING ME...
honest! why would i ever do a thing like that!?
ANYWAY THIS WILL ALL BE OVER SOON.
ONCE I KILL GAMZEE THINGS WILL GO BACK TO NORMAL.
are you still sure that’s what you want to do?
JOHN WHAT THE EVER LOVING SHIT HOBO NONSENSE ARE YOU TALKING NOW?
killing gamzee. are you sure you still want to go through it it?
OF COURSE I AM. IT’S MY FUCKING RESPONSIBILITY.
gee, how do i put this...
SPIT IT OUT EGBERT.
you might feel differently about it someday.
WHEN WOULD I EVER FEEL DIFFERENTLY ABOUT THIS OF ALL THINGS? PLEASE ENLIGHTEN ME.
well, when you get a little perspective i mean.
you might feel differently when you...
Chapter 23: [I] <> i hate a moral coward
Your name is Karkat Vantas and scrounging out a meager survival on the streets is no way to live. You’ve been doing this for as long as you can remember but lately the lifestyle is wearing thin. Your belly has been full enough these days that you can begin to imagine bigger things, better things, healthier things. Like three meals a day, maybe, and a regular iron intake. Nothing fancy or ambitious, but something better than this bullshit poverty.
Your moirail doesn’t understand.
bEsT fRiEnD yOu NeEd tO cHiLl tHe MoThErFuCk OuT
tHaT’s WhAt i’M aLwAyS sAyInG
tHaT yOu’Ve GoT tOo MaNy MoThErFuCkInG fEeLs My BrOtHeR aNd ThEy’Re AlL mAkInG yOuR sPiRiT tEnSe As FuCk
nOt HeAlThY mAn
You should never have expected him to.
MY FUCKING SPIRIT IS TENSE?
GAMZEE MY FUCKING SPIRIT IS NOT TENSE AND IF IT WAS I WOULD WELCOME SUCH A TERRIBLE CURSE WITH OPEN ARMS.
I WOULD INVITE THAT PROBLEM RIGHT IN AND KISS IT ON THE LIPS.
YOU KNOW WHY?
BECAUSE MY FUCKING SPIRIT BEING TENSE WOULD BE A BLESSING COMPARED TO EVERY TANGIBLE AND REAL MUSCLE IN MY BODY BEING TENSE BECAUSE I LIVE ON THE STREET AND SLEEP IN A DITCH NESTLED AGAINST THE BONIEST TROLL TO EVER CRAWL OUT OF THE BREEDING PITS.
yOu ArE hArShInG tHe MoThErFuCk oUt Of mY nIgHt
I JUST WISH YOU WOULD LISTEN TO ME ON THIS ONE GAMZEE.
I REALLY THINK WE COULD MAKE SOMETHING OF OURSELVES IF WE SIGNED UP WITH ONE OF THE GANGS. WE’D BE EARNING A PAYCHECK AT LEAST.
AND THE MIDNIGHT CREW IS MOSTLY CARAPACES SO THERE WOULD BE NO ONE AROUND TO GIVE A FUCK ABOUT OUT SHITTY BLOOD COLOURS.
nO wE don’t need anything lIkE tHaT bRoThEr
midnight crew’s nothing but
MOTHERFUCKING BAD LUCK
and i’d be a bad mOiRaIl iF i LeT mY bEsT fRiEnD gEt HiS cRiMiNaL oN.
His voice has been getting weird like that more and more lately.
It should worry you more than it does, but you’ve always known he was unstable. He’s the highest blood you can get without getting gills and for him to be out here on his own with a mutant like you probably means he’s damaged somehow. But that’s why he has you and you have him. Two against the world, pale brothers in arms. He killed someone for you once and you think he’d do it again. Now THAT’S the kind of moiralligience they write fucking Harlequins about - so what if he’s a little unstable? That’s why you pity him after all.
OKAY FINE. SURE. IF YOU SAY SO.
BUT WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST WE DO INSTEAD? THE COPS ARE CRACKING DOWN ON PETTY THEFT AND WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF PLACES TO HIDE SO I’D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR GENIUS PLAN.
yEaH sImPlE eNoUgH bRoThEr. bUt ThErE’s NoThInG gEnIuS aBoUt It.
iT’s A mOtHeRfUcKiNg MiRaClE
For some reason that word makes your blood run cold.
sHhHhHhH jUsT lIsTeN
just listen to the
can’t you hear them singing?
I HONESTLY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE FUCK YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT.
that’s because you don’t know how to hear brother
GUESS YOU’LL HAVE TO LEARN YOUR EARS ALL OVER AGAIN
and you don’t know how to see
MY MOTHERFUCKING BEST FRIEND CAN’T EVEN SEE IT’S
don’t you think
IT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE WILLFULLY IGNORANT TO IT
how long are you gonna sleep brother
HOW MOTHERFUCKING LONG
GAMZEE, I AM GOING TO ASK YOU ONE VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION:
WHEN WAS THE LAST FUCKING TIME YOU HAD SOPOR?
hAhAhA dOn’T wOrRy AbOuT mE KARKAT
my head’s the cLeArEsT
IT EVER BEEN
You should have taken care of him then. You should have taken care of him in a lot of ways. You honestly weren’t expecting it when he turned on you.
You could have bled out on that street like a worthless piece of shit. Not even a piece of shit, you would have died there like the stain left when the drones come and clean the shit off the pavement with their tongue sponges. You would have died like the echo of that stain.
You would have been glad to lay there contemplating what state of shit stain decomposition your worth was equal to except for one thing.
Some asshole had to come along and save your life.
Chapter 24: [I] <3< one who lacks a manly spark
All good families impart wisdom to their young.
i got three pieces of advice for you in this life kid
all bitches are trouble
every single one of them we are not making any damn exceptions here
you see how i got no arm and just one eye
thats cause i got mixed up with a dame
you get mixed up with a dame kid and youre going to lose something even worse
thats because i cut off your nose and both your ears for being too stupid to follow simple directions
NOW LISSEN HERE
SLICK MIGHTA TOLD YOU A LOTTA THINGS ABOUT DAMES
BUT LET ME BE STRAIGHT WIT YOU RIGHT NOW
AINT A WORD OF IT TRUE
the thing about dames is that they are fundamentally different from you and me
a guy like mes gonna stab you in a place where you can see it
theres a fourth lesson for you kid
its better when they can see it coming
HES GONNA TRY TA SELL YOU ON SOME GENDER ESSENTIALIST BULLSHIT
ALL ABOUT HOWS GIRLS ARE A DIFFERENT SPECIES
what a dame does is she slides it in when you aint looking
everything she does in life is designed just to spite you
she gets knives up in your head kid
metaphorically i mean
that just aint a place where knives are meant to go
AINT NONE OF IT TRUE
DAMES IS JUST LIKE YOU AND ME CEPT SOFTER
YOU JUST GOTTA TREAT A DAME RIGHT AND SHELL LET YOU SKIP STRAIGHT TO DE GOOD PARTS
now boxcars is going to tell you some bullcrap about how dames can be trusted you just need to let them into your heart
im telling you right now that hes a moron and dont listen to any of it
SLICK JUST AINT LEARNED HOW TO TREAT A GIRL RIGHT
ITS GONNA BE DIFFERENT FER YOU KID
JUST LISSEN TA UNCLE BOXCARS
the heart is the worst possible place to let a woman sink her claws
you need that shit to pump blood around
boxcars doesnt know crap about basic anatomy
AND DERE AINT ANYTHIN WRONG IF YOU BRING SOME BOY HOME INSTEAD
I JUST WANT YOU TO BE HAPPY
AND IF EITHER OF DEM BREAK YER HEART KID
ILL PULL THEIR INTESTINES OUT BY DE TONGUE AND FEED IT BACK TO DEM THROUGH DE PLACE WHERE DE SUN DONT SHINE
always carry spares
i mean spares of everything
make sure your shit is nigh on redundant
. . . .
i wanna see knives up your sleeves and back-up hats stored in every pocket
. . . . . . . . . ? ? ? ?
i dont wanna see no kid of mine kneecapping some mook on the street with no hat on
thats just undignified and it makes me look bad
! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
There is only one thing you need to know.
As long as you do not listen to a word Slick says you will be fine.
if you find a watch on a guys body you stuff that thing down the stiffs throat
i dont want to see you sauntering in here all proud of yourself because you nicked some suckers ten thousand dollar timepiece
you pull shit like that and ill stick a knife somewhere vital next time
On second thought.
Make sure you listen to him.
But be careful not to retain any of the information.
i got a good anti-clock operation going on here and i wont have some troll kid with no sense between his horns fucking it up
Just nod and try not to sigh too much.
That usually makes him happy.
kid are you even listening to me
He is so cool.
Chapter 25: [I] c3< rise with the moon
All good families go to church on Sunday.
The other troll always confused you. Slick had a strict “no more fucking kids” rule, but half a sweep later Diamonds rolls in some cute skirt with blood the colour of a rotting automobile.
(“The difference,” Mr. Droog argues, “is that mine shows potential.”)
She doesn’t really talk to you. That makes you worry that maybe she can see right through your skin, right through the paper thinness of it, down to your veins. You didn’t think she would care - didn’t think she could. Lowbloods have enough of their own shit going on that the your status as a mysterious and loathsome aberration cannot possibly be relevant to this girl. But in two whole sweeps she’s not said more than ten words to you and most of those have been:
At least she smiles. It’s a weird sort of smile that tells you the broad knows more than she’s letting on. You think back to everything Slick told you about women and what the hell that could mean, but the more you think about it the more you realize that the only thing that pounds in your chest when she walks by is curiosity and the vaguest sense of unease.
Her name is Aradia and not one quadrant of your blood-pumper lights up for her. What you want from her is to ask her about the church.
The Horrorterrors made the world while God was sleeping
They swathed the dreamers in the gauze of fantasia
Pearl-eyed grinners with empty hearts and lips heavy with secrets
Their hands open with gifts to our dark parents
‘Relieve me of this burdened soul’ they cry
And the Shadowed Mother drinks from the skinned chalice of their fingers as we bow our heads in eternal gratitude
The endless dream and the dreamless end
You’ve never seen the endless dream, or the dreamless end. You’ve never been grinning pearl-eyed at the stained glass ceiling or felt the need to offer your soul to some black-clad tentacle goddess while murmuring prayers of your unworthy skin to her feet. The mirrors do not glisten dark in your eyes.
- all you have ever seen within the walls are endless panels of sun.
She is the only one who can see it too.
we should go.............
..... somewhere more private! :B
She says her name is Jade Harley and when you go to sit beside her your hands shake. That makes you look stupid, so you sit on them, which only makes you look stupider.
what do you think??
about dreams, stupid!
WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU CALLING STUPID?
it looks like i am calling you stupid, stupid!
what else would i even be asking about in a church of prospit?
geeeze, were you always this slow or did i just remember you better than you actually were??? :B
LOOK, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. I DON’T WANT TO GIVE YOU THE WRONG IMPRESSION, BUT I DON’T USUALLY RUN OFF AND HIDE BEHIND THE PEWS WITH STRANGE HUMAN GIRLS IN THE MIDDLE OF SUNDAY SERMON.
THAT IS TO SAY, THIS IS NOT MY USUAL BEHAVIOUR.
yes, i definitely had to do a lot of work to convince you!
WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN!?
hmmmmmmmmmmm i wonder!
IS THERE GOING TO BE EVENTUAL SUBSTANCE TO THIS CONVERSATION OR WHAT? BECAUSE I HAVE OTHER THINGS I COULD BE DOING.
LIKE CLEANING OUT MY OLFACTORY WAX WITH A BULLET.
wow, are you always such a grumpy fuckass?
THAT IS MY FUCKING M.O., THE THING I LIVE TO DO. YOU GOT IT IN ONE.
Your M.O. is actually making an asshole of yourself in pretty much every conceivable situation. You swallow what feels like a tiny, angry animal down your gullet and chance another look at her. Her skin is lightbulb pale like a rainbow drinker. You’ve never actually been this close to a human before except by accident; a shiver runs right through you. It runs right through you and makes you vibrate just a few centimeters closer to her entirely by accident.
let me show you a trick....
She grabs your hands and holds them. She makes a rectangle with them, turns them one over the other so that they make a frame.
now look :B
You look. Between your thumbs, the verse on the far wall begins to change.
The World blinked awake while God was sleeping
It pulled from the webs of fantasia with eyes opened
Gold-ringed glittering with heart full of song and lips empty of lies
The sleeping Gods fists were clenched tight
And the awakened begged them not to open
For the berobed Father drinks souls from the chalice of their skulls as they suffer in eternal bondage
The blood-raked dawn and the day-kissed eve
Jade whispers to you.
you never woke up on prospit, did you, karkat?
you’re the only one who never woke up.
do you remember how you died?
i remember. i remember both times.
HARLEY YOU ARE SERIOUSLY CREEPING ME OUT RIGHT NOW.
the first time i knew what i was doing
it was loud and there were flames all around me and it was worth it.
the second time was a surprise.....
which was it for you?
She is holding your wrists so tightly it burns.
I DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE, BUT YOU ARE CLEARLY MENTALLY UNSTABLE.
we’ve all died at least once.
AS WE CAN BOTH PLAINLY SEE, I AM VERY MUCH ALIVE. MY LIMBS ARE ALL INTACT AND FILLED WITH VERY OXIDIZED BLOOD RUSHING VERY ALIVELY FROM MY BLOOD PUMPING MUSCLES. OBSERVE THE WAY I AM BREATHING, WHICH IS A THING THAT ONLY ALIVE PEOPLE DO.
that’s not always the case!!!
you just can’t take a thing like that for granted!!!
and there is only one cure for death, karkat......
remember, you told me so yourself!
Before you can ask her what, she shows you.
... WHAT ARE YOU DOING UP HERE?
i am t0 keep an eye 0n you
ARE WE TALKING NOW?
we have always been talking
y0u just have n0t been listening
THE FIRST THING YOU SAY TO ME AND IT’S SOME CRYPTIC MUMBO JUMBO I REALLY DON’T GIVE ENOUGH OF A SHIT ABOUT TO FIGURE OUT. WHAT’S WITH TODAY?
this is embarrassing
i didnt c0me up here to make fun 0f y0u
i think y0u need a friend
WELL. IN THAT CASE.
SORRY I GUESS.
BUT YOU’RE WRONG. HARDCORE GANGSTERS LIKE ME DON’T NEED FRIENDS, JUST MOOKS. I GOT FRIGID COLD STEEL RUNNING THROUGH MY VEINS.
b0th 0f us kn0w that isnt true
FINE. THEN LET’S BE FRIENDS.
I MEAN, FOR SOME WEIRD REASON I FEEL LIKE WE ALREADY ARE.
NOT LITERALLY BUT - AND IGNORING WHAT A STUPID THING THIS IS TO SAY - MORE LIKE WE... MET SOMEWHERE BEFORE.
AND WE WERE FRIENDS THERE.
DOES THAT SOUND ABOUT RIGHT?
n0t really but that is n0 reas0n n0t t0 start n0w
I’M REALLY MAKING AN IDIOT OF MYSELF. WHAT ELSE IS NEW? I HOPE YOU’LL BE MAGNANIMOUS ENOUGH NOT NOT TO HOLD THIS AGAINST ME. IT’S KIND OF BEEN A STRANGE DAY.
this isnt just ab0ut y0u karkat
maybe i need s0me0ne to talk to as well
I THOUGHT YOU SAID THAT YOU WERE SENT UP HERE TO KEEP AN EYE ON ME. IF DROOG DOESN’T THINK I CAN CUT IT, YOU CAN TELL HIM THAT I’M FINE, I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING AND I DON’T NEED SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME LIKE I’M A BOIL ON THE UNDERSIDE OF HIS BULGE-SACK.
mr diam0nds did n0t send me
i came 0f my 0wn acc0rd
i th0ught that y0u needed s0me l00king after
WHY WOULD YOU DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT?
because i d0nt want t0 leave any0ne behind again
i have a l0t 0f regrets ab0ut h0w i played this game
LIKE SLICK SAYS: IT’S A TOUGH LIFE, BUT THAT’S WHY WE HAVE TO LEARN TO BECOME TOUGHER. SO THAT WE CAN LIVE WITH THE HARD DECISIONS.
it is the 0pp0site f0r me
i did n0t make en0ugh decisi0ns
had i made m0re perhaps i w0uld be laden with far fewer regrets
DON’T TAKE THIS THE WRONG WAY, BUT THAT’S FUCKING STUPID.
ALL MAKING DECISIONS DOES IS WEIGH YOU DOWN IN THE BLOOD OF YOUR FRIENDS. ALL IT DOES IT FILL YOUR EARS WITH THE VOICES OF PEOPLE WHOSE GODDAMNED DEATH WARRANTS YOU SIGNED. ALL IT DOES IS MAKE YOUR HANDS FEEL LIKE TWO PIECES OF BURNING HOT SHAME AND DISGUST AND YOU WISH THAT YOU COULD CUT THEM OFF, BUT THEY’RE BOLTED TO YOUR ARMS UNTIL THEY BLISTER AND BURST AND PAINT YOU BRIGHT FUCKING RED JUST TO TELL THE REST OF THE UNIVERSE WHAT A FUCK UP YOU ARE.
that might be true
i think you did a good job
Chapter 26: [I] <3 go to bed with the sun
Sweeps go by. They go by, swept cruelly aside by the merciless broom of time.
You become tough enough to handle the weight of your decisions.
All of them except one.
Aradia tells you that it’s not your responsibility anymore. You can’t bring yourself to believe her.
You still think about it a lot.
There has to be a way to make it right.
c’myon myister, we already told mew that we don’t know a thing!
serioously dude.. wwe’’ve never even heard of tthe mirtthful messiahs unttil yoou bustted oour shitt..
we’re just two dumb kids what prrrut our prrraws on the wrong wall.
[It’s so trite when trolls talk with their writing quirks, especially when their quirks are this dumb. WHAT A COMPLETELY AWFUL AND UNNECESSARY THING TO DO. GOOD THING THAT YOU, KARKAT VANTAS, HAVE NEVER IN YOUR LIFE DONE SOMETHING SO INSANELY OBNOXIOUS.]
i mean whatt even are tthese mirtthful asshooles anywway?? soounds like soometthing yoou made up if you ask me!!
yeah, prrretty fishy! comprrrete nyansense!
fucking invincible cloown gods,, cooming to scoour tthe eartth clean of tthe unbelievers??
even if wwe had heard oof a religioon like tthatt --
-- and i am ttoottally noott saying anytthing soo incriminattin’’ as we have --
-- whoo woould even want too foolloow itt??
mew have to be totally nyansane to want the world to end!
girl,, listten,, tthatt oone is pushing itt..
yoou can’’tt justt foorce tthe puns..
noow we looook soo dumb..
if there is anyone i DON’T want condyanscending to mye about prrruns it’s the prrroser who was too lazy to even work them into his quirk!
yeah,, because i didn’’tt wantt ttoo make a “coomprrrette” nooook sniffer oof myself like yoou do everyday!!
puns don’t just happrrren, bulge-stank!
yoou’’re tthe bulge-sttank!
ooh rightt.. in tthatt case itt’’s moore like BULGE-SKANK!
see,, i can make puns ttoooo..
[you decide to let the punks go. they aren’t hurting anyone tonight and they definitely aren't going to hurt you.]
[still, the message is worrying. the message is beyond worrying. the message was written just for you. the message is cold sweat lay awake at night staring at the shadow play of monster mouths on your wall while cursing the very mother-grub that ferried your unworthy genetic code into this world inducing.]
[or at least it would be had you not spent the last seven sweeps tempering yourself into a steel-hard, stone-cold gangster.]
[gangsters are too hard boiled for emotions.]
[you haven’t heard of anyone getting killed in the lowblood neighbourhoods recently. you ain’t heard of any teal-bloods getting shanked. a high blood kicking it would make the papers at least. it must be paint.]
[you wonder if you could just maybe... tell by the taste...]
[unfortunately, you have no idea what either paint or blood tastes like!
whichever it is, it's awful!]
[you hear a familiar cackle in the distance becoming rapidly and startlingly less distant and more right the fuck on top of you! that laugh can only mean one thing -]
[ - it’s the fuzz!!!]
[you’re familiar with these two. they’ve been on the midnight crew’s trail for at least half a sweep, always a step behind slick’s operations, sticking their pointy noses into every successful bank heist Droog has masterminded since last twelfth perigree’s eve. they’re both dangerous as fuck. you’ve heard rumours that the tall one killed her lusus with her bare hands. she’s one of the rare highblood telepaths - the existence of which is just basically unfair - and has been known to dance criminals into all kinds of ridiculous death traps just to keep her hands clean.]
[you haven’t heard much about the short one except that she’s a smart cookie. gangsters, by rule of thumb, do not like smart cookies.]
[you fail to abscond on account of being whacked in the face with a crowbar!]
mew mew mew, what a sucker!
i can’’tt believe tthis asshoole fell foor oour fake ooutt fightt ttrick..
that’s prrractically the oldest nyon in the book!
nooww he getts a ttastte of wwhatt happens wwhen carapaces aren’’tt careful and coome looooking wwhere tthey ain’’tt wantted..
WAIT! I’M NOT ACTUALLY A -
[they’re not listening! you get the crowbar again. and again. and again.]
>GET THE SHIT BEATEN OUT OF YOU
[yup, you do pretty much just that. it’s brutal.]
[the crowbar crunches into your cheek. you got callouses on your cheek from where you always tell the new street recruits to PUNCH YOU AS HARD AS THEY CAN. some of them punch really fucking hard.]
[none of them punch as hard as a crowbar. the olive blood is trying to kick your ribcage in and bile begins to bubble up your throat like the corpse of a root beer float. you always knew you’d die like this - drowned to death inside your mask by your own puke. anything more dignified wouldn’t have been sordid enough to satisfy the divine balancers. your life has been one long punchline on the part of the universe.]
[the punchline is the part where the crazed high-blood murderpath saved your life.]
[to be completely honest, you never actually understood what was so funny about that one.]
[they die horribly.]
Well, well, look at this ungr8ful little wriggler!
I just saved your life!
Aren’t you going to th8nk me?
Especially since I am a8out to save your life again!
I will have done it twice in just as many minutes and I am only asking for one th8nk you!
Not everyone would be so generous!
VR1SK4? WH4TS GO1NG ON OV3R TH3R3?
[you’re still covered in blood and staring blankly.]
You hear that? That is my partner. Terezi Pyrope, recently inducted into the High Order of Legislacer8tors.
She’ll 8e the first one to tell you that she is a genius prodigy. 8lah 8lah 8lah, she never shuts up a8out it!!!!!!!!
8ut she is also the only one who will 8e a8le to see through that clever disguise of yours, Mr. Vantas.
>YOU BETTER MUSTER UP SOME SHOCK AND CONVINCINGLY DENIAL HERE KID
[you would, but you just got half your face caved in with a crowbar.]
That’s right, I know who you 8re!!!!!!!!
And just this 8nce........
I’m going to let you go.
It’s your lucky day! :::;)
Don’t w8ste this chance. I’ll 8e watching!
[you get it now.]
[the real joke is the part where she saves your life twice and then leaves you to bleed internally to death in that dirty alleyway.]
[vriska serket is a master comedian.]
how do you even get yourself into messes like this?
guess it looks like i’ll have to take care of you!
i’ll take such good care of you that you will probably punch me right in my handsome mouth when you come to your senses, ha ha!
FUCK ARE YOU
AND How the FUCK do you know
my n a me
i know all kinds of things.
i’m john, and i’ve been waiting to meet you for a long, long time.
The hobo puts the radio on. The hobo puts the radio on and he knows your name and he knew where your apartment was and he makes you both a cup of tea using your kitchen.
He puts five sugars in your tea just the way you like it.
... OKAY, SO IT’S NOT THAT I DON’T APPRECIATE THE WAY YOU SAVED MY LIFE.
BECAUSE LET’S BE HONEST HERE. HAD YOU NOT COME ALONG, I WOULD PROBABLY BE A ROTTING SACK OF BONES IN THE GUTTER RIGHT ABOUT NOW. THAT I AM BREATHING AND CAPABLE OF EXPRESSING SUSPICION AT THIS VERY MOMENT IS DEFINITELY A MIRACLE FOR WHICH I GIVE YOU FULL CREDIT.
BUT ANY TIME YOU WANT TO EXPLAIN EXACTLY WHAT YOUR DEAL IS, THAT WOULD BE FANTASTIC.
JUST A HEADS UP ABOUT WHATEVER DRUGS YOU ARE PUTTING IN THAT TEA AND WHICH OF MY BODY PARTS I CAN EXPECT TO BE CONSUMED FIRST. I’M NOT ASKING FOR MUCH HERE.
gosh karkat, there’s no need to be so melodramatic.
you are totally overreacting. i’m just putting a little ginseng in. i promise you won’t even taste it under all the sugar.
I AM NOT MELODRAMATIC.
you are so melodramatic that on a scale from one to ten where one is a man reuniting with his wife and daughter after a difficult trial aboard a hijacked airplane and ten is a guy looking up into the camera and shouting ‘nooooo’ while shaking his open palms at the sky, but the sky doesn’t care, you are an eleven, which is so melodramatic i don’t even have an example for it except that it is you.
LIKE I SAID I’M NOT TRYING TO BE RUDE. IT JUST SEEMS STRANGE. THE WAY YOU KNEW MY NAME AND KNOW WHERE I LIVE AND KNOW HOW MUCH FUCKING SUGAR I TAKE IN MY TEA. THAT’S SOME VERY DEDICATED STALKING.
no offense, but i am not really interested in stalking you. this was an entirely heterosexual rescue mission!
[when he turns to look at you, he actually waggles his eyebrows.]
are you flattered by my fascination with you, karkat?
FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?
ha ha, i’m just kidding around.
it’s so easy to get you worked up. you’re like a tiny, angry dog and everything in life is someone ringing the doorbell. here.
seriously, dude. i wouldn’t poison you.
I WILL ONLY DRINK THE TEA IF YOU TELL ME HOW YOU KNOW MY NAME.
that’s sure a thing i said.
I DON’T BELIEVE IN MAGIC.
some things are true whether you believe in them or not.
i guess so!
[you take the tea. the dampness and warmth of the steam soothes your broken face when you breathe it in. john sits beside you, knees up, and smiles as he sips from his own cup.]
i really love this song.
... ME TOO.
see, we have plenty in common. this is a really beautiful moment!
WHAT DO YOU EVEN WANT?
to make sure you don’t have a concussion or that your lungs aren’t punctured or something like that.
troll lungs are in their chest, right?
i was never really clear on what kind of organs you had.
IF I PROVE THAT I DON’T HAVE A CONCUSSION, WILL YOU LEAVE?
if you want me to, sure.
until then, let’s just talk for a bit.
[you talk for a bit.]
[you talk for like six hours.]
THE TRUTH IS THAT SOMETIMES NONE OF IT FEELS REAL.
woah, that was a deep statement karkat!
i can tell that you have a future in philosophy.
FUCK YOU BULGEMUNCH. I AM BARING MY HEART HERE. I HAVE PRACTICALLY CUT IT OUT WITH A SURGEON’S PRECISION AND AM SERVING IT TO YOU ON A PLATE WITH BUTTERED SCONES AND SOME SORT OF SHRIVELED FRUIT PRODUCT.
fine, fine, i was just joking! keep going!
i take you very seriously and will not make any more fun of you from this point onward. you are a very serious person who must be treated with nothing but the most delicate and utmost seriousness.
IT FEELS GOOD TO BE TREATED WITH THE GRAVITAS THAT MY BEARING COMMANDS FOR ONCE.
... WHAT WAS I EVEN TALKING ABOUT?
about how your entire life feels like a dream.
THAT IS NOT WHAT I SAID. I WOULD NEVER SAY SOMETHING THAT SOUNDED SO DUMB.
I SAID THAT IT DIDN’T FEEL REAL.
geeze, same difference dude.
WHY THE HELL AM I EVEN TELLING YOU THIS?
because i’m magic. go on.
IT’S JUST THAT... THERE IS THIS ONE THING THAT HAPPENED TO ME A LONG TIME AGO.
AND I CAN’T SEEM TO FORGET IT. IT STILL FEELS LIKE IT HAPPENED JUST YESTERDAY.
SO MANY THINGS HAVE HAPPENED SINCE THEN. IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE THAT I STILL FEEL THIS WAY, AS IF EVERY WAKING MOMENT BETWEEN THEN AND NOW HAS SOMEHOW BEEN A LIE.
A GIANT FUCKING JOKE PLAYED ON ME BY MY OWN EGO SO THAT I DON’T HAVE TO ADMIT THAT I MADE A MISTAKE.
[john is very quiet for a moment. he is treating you seriously.]
[that makes you nervous.]
WHAT IF I’M DEAD.
OR I AM IN THE PROCESS OF DYING.
WHAT IF THIS IS ONE OF THE HORRORTERROR HELLS THE NUNS ALWAYS TALK ABOUT AND ALL I HAVE TO LOOK FORWARD TO AN ETERNITY OF TALKING ABOUT THIS SHIT TO SOME CREEPY HOMELESS GUY ON THE FLOOR OF MY DISGUSTING APARTMENT?
ouch. karkat, that actually hurt.
but all things considered, it doesn’t sound like too bad a fate to me.
THAT’S BECAUSE THIS IS MY HELL, NOT YOURS.
how do you know that? maybe this is our shared hell. wouldn’t that be spooky?
NO, IT WOULD BE ANNOYING.
you aren’t dead karkat.
AND HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT? MORE MAGIC?
[he rolls onto his elbows and plants his hands on either side of your head. he was right about his mouth - it is very handsome and you want to punch it really badly.]
we’d know if we were dead.
because there’s only one cure for death, karkat.
why don’t we both find out?
[you fell asleep.]
[fuck, fuck, fuck, you fell asleep.]
[you told them not to fucking let you fall asleep. you told them not to leave you alone.]
[the guards don’t believe you. they think you’re crazy. they think pyrope and strider are crazy, which is a much fairer assessment in your opinion because those assholes went and got themselves thrown off the case again. they’re crazy - crazy dumb. they promised to protect you and they fell through on that promise like high-vaulting CEO off a building two weeks into a market crash.]
[you’re not crazy. you know the signs, you know the portents. you know all the things that generally signify that something is going to happen at a specific time in a specific way. you have that shit on lockdown.]
[you know what the fuck it means when you wake up, head pounding like the marching band accompaniment to the mayor’s fifth goddamn inaugural speech. you know what it means when you wake up and the wall of your cell is covered in holy benediction of the Mirthful Messiahs.]
[he’s saved you for last, bRoThEr.]
[your moirail has finally come looking for you.]
>WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU DO?
[any attempt on your part to make a daring mistake is bilked by something even better.]
1 H4V3 COM3 TO WH1SK YOU 4W4Y >;]
[framed by light and shadow and the delirium of your own dream, terezi pyrope is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen.]
Chapter 27: [=] remember
[framed by light and shadow and the green sun’s glare, dave giving karkat a bloody nose is the most annoying thing you’ve smelt in weeks.]
WH4T 1S 3V3N GO1NG ON H3R3?
1 C4NT L34V3 YOU TWO 4LON3 FOR THR33 M1NUT3S >:[
FUCK, I CAN EXPLAIN. LOOK, I JUST -
i promise you she doesnt want to hear it
something really stupid
vantas wants us all involved in some kind of sordid troll threesome circle jerk
he was trying to give me instructional literature like hes a pedophile or something
tell your boyfriend to stop trying to groom me into his xenophile cabana boy
H3S NOT MY -
I’M NOT HER BOYFRIEND.
STRIDER, HOW THICK CAN YOU POSSIBLY BE? THAT’S THE FUCKING POINT.
i dont want to hear anymore of your points
i dont want anything even remotely acicular going down in this conversation
no needles no halbreds i give up my love affair with swords
anything to get you to stop talking about this
1 ST1LL H4V3 NO 1D34 WH4TS GO1NG ON H3R3
ON3 OF YOU H4D B3TT3R ST4RT M4K1NG S3NS3
I AM MAKING SENSE. HE’S THE ONE WHO FLIPPED OUT ALL OF A SUDDEN.
ALL I WAS TRYING TO DO WAS EXPLAIN TO HIM THE CONCEPT OF QUADRANT VACILLAT -
if this is going to start up again im outie
THIS IS GOOD, ACTUALLY.
TEREZI’S HERE SO WE CAN ALL DISCUSS HOW TO MOVE FORWARD LIKE MATURE AND FULLY PUPATED ADULTS.
“MOV3 FORW4RD”? K4RK4T...
see this is what i was talking about
you have no fucking respect for her
she doesnt even know whats going on
1 TH1NK 1M B3G1NN1NG TO G3T 4 CL34R P1CTUR3 >:T
TEREZI I AM REALLY SORRY THAT I DIDN’T TALK TO YOU ABOUT IT FIRST, BUT BEFORE YOU DISMISS THE IDEA ENTIRELY, JUST THINK ABOUT IT FOR A MINUTE.
REALLY THINK ABOUT IT.
I MEAN, THIS IS A CLASSIC TYPE 3-1 COMBINATION LOVE TRIANGLE WITH A FEW QUADRANT FLIPPING COMPLICATIONS. THE INCLUSION OF A HUMAN COMPLICATES THINGS SOMEWHAT, BUT OTHERWISE VACILLATION IS THE CLEANEST AND LEAST PAINFUL SOLUTION TO EVERYONE’S PROBLEMS.
K4RK4T 1M JUST NOT SUR3 TH4T 4SS3SSM3NT 1S R3L3V4NT TO OUR S1TU4T1ON?
F1RST OF 4LL YOU 4R3 M4K1NG 4N 4WFUL LOT OF 4SSUMPT1ONS!
DAMMNIT TEREZI, I AM NOT PLAYING THIS GAME WITH YOU TOO. NEITHER OF YOU ARE AS SNEAKY OR SUBTLE AS YOU THINK YOU ARE. WHAT FUCKING ASSUMPTIONS?
D4V3 4ND 1...
tz dont you dare drag me into this
1N C4S3 YOU H4DNT NOT1C3D YOU W3R3 4LR34DY 1NVOLV3D 1N TH3 CONV3RS4T1ON D4V3
i was involved in the part where my fist connected with karkats face
i dont really care about anything that came after that
W3 H4V3 4 LOT OF T1M3 L3FT W41T1NG 4ROUND ON TH1S M3T3OR
K4RK4TS PL4N M1GHT B3 STUP1D BUT W3 SHOULD 4T L34ST H34R H1M OUT FOR TH3 S4K3 OF TRY1NG TO G3T 4LONG
whats this “we”
there is no “we”
now youre the one making assumptions
AHAHAHAHA OH THIS IS RICH.
JUST FIVE MINUTES AGO WEREN’T YOU TRYING TO DEFEND HER HONOUR?
YOU WERE LIKE SOME CHIVALROUS KNIGHT FROM ONE OF TAVROS’S FAKE FAIRY STORIES, DESPERATE TO CURRY FAVOUR WITH THE FAIR MAIDEN.
of all the stupid things youve said today that is just about the stupidest
this isnt a fairy tale and terezi sure as hell aint a fair maiden
my problems with you have nothing to do with her
both of you have egos the size of fuckig jupiter
i was so over this ten fucking minutes ago
you two have fun doing your weird troll bucket bullshit
see you around tz
WHAT AN ASSHOLE.
CHOOS3 YOUR WORDS C4R3FULLY STR1D3R
1 JUST R3M3MB3R3D 4 F3W MOR3 R34SONS TO B3 4NGRY 4T YOU!
i have been mad attracted to you since the moment we met
it makes me sick to my stomach sometimes
and also say dumb things a lot
T3LL M3 SOM3TH1NG 1 DONT KNOW
this is karkats fucking stupid ass smelly guilt dream and were trapped in it
1 S41D SOM3TH1NG 1 DONT KNOW D4V3!
[he tells you something you didn’t know]
[but it should have been obvious, all things considered]
[you exhale a shuddering breath and get down to business]
TH1S 3NDS TON1GHT
Chapter 28: [O] If the sky that we look upon should tumble and fall...
You’ve always known that this dream came with an EXPIRY DATE. Even when you didn’t know it was a DREAM. You feel like you’ve been drifting through your life from one touchstone to another. It’s all got a strange sense of DEJA VU to it. Like you’re touching each moment through a mirror. Maybe if you FLIP IT TURNWAYS you’ll catch a glimpse of the dream’s edge. But there’s no FRAME, no GLASS. Just a feeling: THIS IS HOW THINGS ARE SUPPOSED TO GO, RIGHT?
1. Your LUSUS never hatches. You learn how to look after yourself.
2. The Alternian Sun can burn a troll to death in minutes. You were BLIND after only ten seconds.
3. WHY were you LOOKING at it?
4. Your dedication to the LAW is almost an instinct. Or a comfort, like the VINTAGE PLUSHIES you used to love when you were a grub.
No matter how much you achieve it feels like you MISSED your chance.
5. Because you couldn’t save Vriska from HERSELF.
6. So you have to save KARKAT.
7. That’s why you’re still here.
You get this feeling about decisions sometimes, as if every outcome is thread out before you like a SP8DERWEB. If you take your time you can see the whole thing - the twist and twining of causality and probability; and if you’re patient and clever and OBSERVANT, you’ll never make a misstep. Yes, you are always very CAREFUL to make sure that you and everyone around you makes EXACTLY THE RIGHT CHOICE.
But that’s the problem, isn’t it? Nobody can be right all the time, not even you. So how do you live with it when you make the wrong one? Even worse, how do you live with it when you make the ONLY choice and it feels AWFUL anyway?
IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?
1 3XPL41N3D 1T V3RY CL34RLY!!!! >:[
I THOUGHT YOU WERE HERE TO HELP ME, NOT TO SPOUT ASININE PHILOSOPHY FROM YOUR LOAD GAPER.
W3 4R3 H3R3 TO H3LP YOU YOU COMPL3T3 BULG3MUNCH
Hmm, it seems as if this fanfic has been abandoned by the author. You can no longer read Cities in Dust.
You will n««d to seek t÷e §ervice of so‰ê‡ne who is capaðle of breaking the fourth wall.
[somewhere in a GREEN ROOM, your new host puts a record on]
[Make yourself comfortable and let’s take a look at this fanfic.
Hmm... she really has let it dangle for a very long time. It’s been literally half a decade. What a shame - there are many moments lost to the ether that you would have no doubt found to be quite exhilarating. But seeing that I am currently acting as a conduit for the author, I do believe that I can retrieve much of this information for you.
If you don’t mind waiting here while I sift through Cephied_Variable’s googledoc files, I will tell the rest of the story. I will show you as well, as I recover sketches and summaries. But the visuals I supply will be nothing more than abbreviated snapshots, and my telling will be abridged. ]
Luckily, I am here now, and I am always right.
Not because of any particular cleverness of my own - although it would be false humility to claim that I am not clever - but because I have a much clearer view of the webs of causality and probability than even our charming young Legislacerator does. I might describe Terezi Pyrope’s Seer of Mind powers as giving her a panoramic view of the narrative. If we follow this metaphor through to its logical conclusion, then my perspective must be described stratospheric.
The first thing we must address before continuing is that this narrative has been somewhat “Jossed”.]
[Then it is a good thing that I am the one in control of the story now. I think that it is important to communicate in the vernacular of the common fan, as to aid them in their journey to suspend their disbelief as well as their knowledge of canon and join us on this journey of transformative fiction.
After all, a lot can change in five years.]
CV: Not another dancestor walkabout. I can’t take anymore!
CV: Actually, Homestuck is good.
[A lot has changed with the author, with the audience and with Homestuck itself. There were characters, plot twists and thematic swerves that no one could have predicted in 2012. I’ll promise to momentarily pretend that they didn’t happen if you do. After all - if we didn’t, how could I be here speaking to you? :Y
Enough about what doesn’t happen in this story. Let’s talk about what *does*.]
> [O] PICK A CARD
After the disciple of the Dark Messiahs goes on murderous rampage, the Knight of Blood takes it upon himself to put his friend down for good. However, when actually confronted with the prospect of murder, he makes a different decision.]
Of course, you know what I am referring to. This was not a random card at all. While I am a gambling man, I never make a bet unless I know the results. Hee hoo hee hoo.
You saw exactly the version of Homestuck you were meant to see. Unlike in real life, no other reality exists unless the author dreams of it. That’s where fanfic comes in. Let’s discuss the tale that I am asking you to suspend your disbelief to enjoy.]
> [O] PICK ANOTHER CARD
Despite this misstep on your part I will still tell you what happens in the end of ‘Cities in Dust’ because I - above all - am always an excellent host. Not only will I tell you how it ends, I will also tell you what it was actually about.]
CV: Don’t you think that’s a little pretentious?
CV: Wait, is it more pretentious if I said it myself, or if I write you saying it for me? I think we’re hitting a pretension ouroboros here.
[I think that after a five year hiatus, the story is well out of your hands at this point.]
CV: It’s true - art belongs to the people. The idea of art for its own sake is bourgeoisie. Dialectical materialism argues that understanding the world cannot proceed from fixed definitions of its component parts but from --
[That’s quite enough of you, I think.]
CV: Wait!! Check out these cool table columns!! They were really tedious to code the custom css intooooo!!!! ---
[Look at the card in my hand. We can see that in this universe the Knight of Blood did not make a different decision. For all his adorable bluster, Karkat Vantas is a very soft-hearted troll. His actions weigh so heavily upon him that the weight casts a long shadow over all of his companions.
I apologize for the fact that these metaphors are somewhat mixed, but I think they communicate the meaning well enough. It’s coming into focus now, isn’t it?]
[You thought the story was about boy meets girl. Instead, here is what we have:]
[A boy kills his friend, a girl kills her partner, another boy can’t figure out how he feels about someone else killing his guardian... when you enter a Dream with so very much weight on your shoulders, it drags everyone else down with you.
Yes, yes - you see it now: This is a story about regret.]
[The Seer of Mind and Knight of Time have a particular efficiency when working together.
Not as plucky Crime Solvers, of course, because as we all just witnessed they have never even closed a single case. :Y
In other matters, however, they are quite formidable.]
[A Knight of Time can wield the timeline like a tool and a Seer of Mind can navigate the probability factors of that timeline based on her very intimate knowledge of what you are going to do next. Together, they can guide you through a complex web of alternate timelines and Bad Ends without you even realizing it.
They can help you make the Right Choice.]
[“You” in this case does not actually refer to you, of course, but to Karkat Vantas, who is trapped in a cage of his own guilt. For the rest of our intrepid cast of precocious-teens turned hardboiled-mystery-cliches, just one encounter with the Knight and Seer together was enough to remove them permanently from the narrative.]
[As we have already established, if Karkat does not wake up before the journey through the Dream Bubbles has run its course he will spend the rest of his life in this dream, and probably die here. He --
Oh, have you been reading the text to our right?]
[Very naughty - it’s rude to read while someone is talking to you! Especially when the subject is as dire a one as the life and death of one of our protagonists!
I suppose I cannot fault your curiosity, however. You’ve come all this way and invested all this time primarily because you are interested in the outcome of this relationship. Fandom revolves around shipping after all - you silly fangirls and boys simply can’t help yourselves!
Since I know that you will insist, I can show you exactly where this relationship stands at the moment.]
SOMEWHERE IN THE MEDIUM, BEFORE ALL OF THIS....
GC: 4NYW4Y 1 4M SUR3 YOU C4N S33 WHY 1 4M FRUSTR4T3D!
GC: M4YB3 1 COULD H4V3 B33N 4 L1TTL3 CL34R3R BUT 1 DONT KNOW
GC: H3 SHOULD H4V3 T4K3N SOM3 1N1T14T1V3 >:[
GC: D4V3 YOU 4R3NT L1ST3N1NG 4R3 YOU?
GC: 1 KN3W 1T!!
TG: i mean smell
TG: either i can grind levels like you told me to
TG: get all decked out in epic biznasty fraymotfis
TG: pimpin my sord
TG: or i can listen to you bitch about how vantas cant read your labyrinthine flirtation rituals
TG: i cant do both
GC: BUT YOUR3 TH3 ON3 WHO 4SK3D!
GC: YOU W3R3 4LL
GC: hey sup terezi tell me about every shitty thing karkats ever said to you because i am developing some sort of creepy long distance black crush on him and need to fuel the fires of my hate
TG: wow first of all nothing like that is even remotely developing
TG: i think vantas is a waste of oxygen
TG: you guys breathe oxygen right
GC: OF COURS3 W3 DO!!
TG: second of all
TG: wait i forgot my second point because i was distracted by how stupid that thing you said was
GC: 1F YOU DONT W4NT TO H34R 4BOUT 1T WHY D1D YOU BOTH3R 4SK1NG M3 1N TH3 F1RST PL4C3??
TG: cause i needed something smooth and relaxing to waste all these imps to and it was easier than looking up elevator music on youtube
TG: like i was catching some sweet zs
TG: swinging my sword in my sleep
TG: thanks tz im all rejuvenated now
TG: fresh as a manicured baby ass
TG: so fresh that youll probably go to jail for pedophilia just lookin at me
GC: YOU C4N R34LLY B3 4N 4SSHOL3 SOM3T1M3S!!!
TG: nah this is all just part of the coolkid package
TG: get a fucking pen
TG: take notes ect
GC: NO 1T 1SNT!
GC: 4UUGH, N3V3RM1ND. 1 SHOULD PROB4BLY JUST L34V3 YOU 4LON3 FOR 4 WH1L3 L1K3 YOUR3 4LW4YS 4SK1NG >:[
GC: P3ST3R M3 B4CK WH3N YOU 4CTU4LLY N33D M3!
TG: i didnt mean it like that jesus
GC: TH3N WH4T D1D YOU M34N?
TG: okay yeah i did ask you
TG: but i was kinda expecting the short version
TG: yknow sort of do me a favour and truncate all the convoluted girly shit thats not relevant
GC: D4V3 WH3N YOU 4SK M3 TO 3XPL41N 4 S1TU4T1ON 1 3XP3CT YOU TO DO M3 TH3 F4VOUR OF FOCUS1NG FOR 4T L34ST T3N M1NUT3S WH1L3 1 3XPL41N TH3 M1T1G4T1NG F4CTORS
GC: 1 KNOW TH4T YOU H4V3 TH3 M3MORY OF 4 CUTTL3F1SH BUT L3TS 4T L34ST TRY TO FOCUS H3R3
TG: yeah but thats the thing
TG: there aint even any mitigating factors here just cold hard facts
TG: one stone cold fact
TG: and thats that karkat vantas doesnt know how to treat a lady
TG: or dude probably for that matter
TG: i got that right away i didnt need the nineteenth century french novel followup about the way he smelt under the pale moonlight
TG: i can sum up his problem in less than five words
GC: 1S TH4T SO?
GC: TH3N M4YB3 YOU SHOULD 3NL1GHT3N M3
TG: hes mad insecure
TG: or hes scared to show it or whatever i dont know the guy
TG: but he had you all to himself
TG: slobberin all over him
TG: literally even
TG: and he doesnt make a move
TG: thats some critical levels of insecurity there
TG: his confidence was pronounced doa it was a sad story but no one came to the funeral
TG: i mean
TG: if you were my girl
TG: no wait
TG: if i were him
TG: okay fuck this
TG: lets talk about something else oh man
TG: check this out i think its a shitty murder mystery sidequest your favourite
TG: lets go
GC: NO NO TH1S 1S 1NT3R3ST1NG D4V3
GC: T3LL M3 MOR3
GC: T3LL M3 HOW YOU WOULD TR34T M3 1F 1 W3R3 “YOUR G1RL” H3H3H3
GC: 4ND WH4T YOU WOULD DO 1F YOU H4D M3 4LL TO YOURS3LF >;]
TG: uh nothing because youre creepy and probably sticky from licking shit all the time
TG: also im not even sure our species are even compatible
TG: my bro always told me that you can put snakes in a bag kid but you sure as hell cant put your dick in it afterward
GC: WH4T DO3S TH4T 3V3N M34N?
TG: you know what im not sure
TG: but my point is were looking at some serious disparities in equipment here
TG: im not sure i am ready to submit poor dave jr to the hall of horrors that is freaky alien vag
TG: like some poor unsuspecting garden snake crawling into a lawnmower
TG: thats how sausages become hamburgers
GC: W41T 1 THOUGHT 1 W4S TH3 ON3 W1TH TH3 SN4K3S?
TG: yeah these metaphors arent really coming together
GC: D4V3 YOUR PR3OCCUP4T1ON W1TH HUM4N S3XU4L R3PRODUCT1V3 4CT1V1T13S 1S SOM3WH4T PUZZL1NG 4S USU4L BUT NOT 4CTU4LLY ON TOP1C
GC: 1 HOP3 YOU D1DNT TH1NK TH4TS WH4T 1 W4S T4LK1NG 4BOUT!
GC: 1M ONLY S1X 4FT3R4LL H3H3H3 >;]
GC: SO WH4T WOULD YOU DO?
GC: T3LL M3 WH4T SORT OF TH1NGS YOU DO TO TR34T 4 G1RL “R1GHT”
hey tz about all that other shit
SHHH YOU 4LW4YS RU1N 3V3RYTH1NG WH3N YOU ST4RT T4LK1NG
cmon pyrope we dont need luck
all we need is ---
> GRIN TO YOURSELF, BECAUSE DAVE JUST SAID SOMETHING F4T4LLY UNCOOL
> But he’s right
> You do need each other. Because -
yeah yeah gotta make our own
cuz were just too fucking awesome for luck
H3H3H3 TOO L4T3 TO PL4Y COOL D4V3 1 4LR34DY H34RD YOU S4Y TH3 OTH3R TH1NG
BUT YOU 4R3 CORR3CT 4T TH1S PO1NT W3 C4NNOT 4FFORD TO B3 4NYTH1NG BUT 3XTR3M3LY PR3C1S3
team xtreme justice strider-pyrope about to bust some serious litigation up in here
otherwise well be sweet dave and hella rez falling down all these fake timelines in concentric circles of ever increasing suck
time to take over this dreambubble and make it our bitch
play it again babe
were spinnin it flipways
[Well, it might work out this time.
You see - I never said that it wasn’t a love story. :Y It is most definitely a love story, of many types.]
[A wise man once said that love is the absence of judgement. While I deal in handing down judgement myself, I think that these children have been through quite enough. They are of no interest to me. If the author can agree to be merciful, then so can I.]
[In a merciful narrative, Team xtreme JUST1C3 (as they prefer to be called) manage to extract Karkat from his physical prison.]
SOMEWHERE, BEFORE ALL OF THIS....
KARKAT: WHAT THE EVERLIVING FUCK MADE YOU THINK THAT I EVER WANT TO TALK TO YOU AGAIN IN MY LIFE.
DAVE: ok before you have a heart attack check it cuz im about to drop the album of the century
DAVE: sorry for punching you
KARKAT: DID TEREZI PUT YOU UP TO THIS?
DAVE: no i had an emotion all by myself
KARKAT: INCREDIBLE. I SINCERELY HOPE YOU POPPED A BLOOD VESSEL SHITTING THAT ONE OUT.
DAVE: i did actually
DAVE: that was the hardest bloodiest turd that ever came out a dudes sphincter so youd better appreciate it vantas i just handed you a goddamn diamond made of shit
KARKAT: I KNOW THAT OFTEN YOU’RE JUST MAKING SOUNDS WITH YOUR MOUTH WITHOUT ANY THOUGHT AS TO MEANING AND IMPLICATIONS OF WHAT YOU’RE ACTUALLY SAYING BUT THAT WAS A SHOCKINGLY APT METAPHOR.
KARKAT: WE DID EVERYTHING WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BUT WE ALL STILL FEEL LIKE SHIT. AND WE’RE OUT HERE IN THE SHITTY MIDDLE OF SHITTY NOWHERE SHITTING OURSELVES OVER INCONSEQUENTIAL SHIT WHEN, AS FAR AS WE KNOW, WE MIGHT STILL DIE WITHOUT ACCOMPLISHING ANYTHING WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE.
KARKAT: I MEAN WE ACTUALLY GOT IN A FUCKING FIGHT OVER TEREZI EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE THE FATE OF A LITERAL UNIVERSE TO WORRY ABOUT.
DAVE: cmon dude that wasnt about terezi
KARKAT: SINCE WE BOTH SEEM TO BE RUSHING TO UNLOAD OUR SHAME GLOBES ALL OVER THE FUCKING FLOOR LET ME BE THE ONE TO ADMIT THE OBVIOUS AND SAY THAT, YES, OUR AMBIGUOUSLY CALIGINOUS TENSION HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH TEREZI.
KARKAT: IT’S BECAUSE OF THE SIMILARITIES IN OUR PERSONALITIES.
DAVE: hot take
KARKAT: FUCKING LISTEN TO ME FOR A SECOND.
KARKAT: IT ALL MAKES SO MUCH SENSE NOW. YOU SEE, I HATE MYSELF.
DAVE: cool we really do have something in common nice talk
KARKAT: AND YOU HATE *YOURSELF*.
DAVE: nah im a big fan of the stride actually
KARKAT: *AND* WE BOTH MASK OUR INSECURITIES WITH AN AGGRESSIVE EXTERIOR PERFORMANCE THAT FALLS APART LIKE PISS-SOAKED TISSUE PAPER WHEN EXPOSED TO SOMEONE LIKE TEREZI WHO LIKES TO SNIFF OUT SOMEONE’S WEAK SPOTS FOR FUN.
KARKAT: WE’RE LIKE TWO BLACK HOLES FIGHTING OVER WHO GETS TO COLLAPSE FIRST.
KARKAT: IT WAS ONLY INEVITABLE THAT YOU’D EVENTUALLY PUNCH ME IN THE FACE.
KARKAT: ACTUALLY WHEN I THINK ABOUT IT THAT WAY, I’M GLAD YOU CAME TO TALK TO ME.
DAVE: you sayin you wanna hug this out or what?
KARKAT: MAYBE THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I’M FUCKING SAYING. WE HAVE TO CO-EXIST WITH EACH OTHER OUT HERE FOR GOD KNOWS HOW LONG SO WHY DON’T WE LEARN TO CO-EXIST.
KARKAT: REALLY? IT’S THAT EASY?
DAVE: yeah im not a total asshole lets fucking do it lets get our hug on
KARKAT: HA... -
KARKAT: HAHAHAHAHA HA -
[But I think we have confidently established at this point -]
[Oh, I’m sorry. Did you think that the author was going to draw an elaborate battle scene? This is only a summary after all, and the fight isn’t what’s important. It’s the emotional journey. The Knight of Time and the Seer of Mind do their best to physically defend Mr. Vantas against his quite literally manifested psychological demons. But with a lack of PR3C1S1ON it becomes - as Mr. Strider predicted - a series of:]
Not even a fully awakened Time and Mind player can help you make the RIGHT CHOICE if you’re unwilling to make a choice at all. So maybe they are the ones who need to make a decision instead.]
Your name is TEREZI PYROPE and as the SEER OF MIND you usually know how all this is going to PLAY OUT. It was your DUTY, and Dave’s too, to see this dream through until the end and make sure everyone got out. But you got a bit caught up in your own shit too. But you helped each other through it. No matter how improbable your coexistence, you still came together.
The old Alternian parable you used to hear growing up said that the best choice was just to shoot both cawbeasts dead and raze the forest to the ground. But that’s not the point - the point is that as long as you’re standing at the crossroads, you’re both rich and dead at the same time. Like a COIN midflip.
L3T SOM3ON3 3LS3 1N
L3T M3 H3LP
THE ONLY WAY YOU COULD HELP IS TO GO BACK IN TIME AND STOP ME FROM FUCKING EVERYTHING UP.
K4RK4T YOU D1DNT FUCK 3V3RYTH1NG UP
1 C4NT T3LL YOU TH4T YOU D1DNT M4K3 M1ST4K3S
W3 4LL D1D
BUT B34T1NG YOURS3LF UP 1S JUST M4K1NG TH1NGS WORS3
4ND 1TS 4LSO M4K1NG YOU UNB34R4BL3 TO B3 4ROUND!!!
TEREZI OUR FRIENDS ARE DEAD AND IT’S ALL MY FUCKING FAULT.
TH4TS WH4T 1M T4LK1NG 4BOUT!! YOUR3 B31NG SO S3LF C3NT3R3D R1GHT NOW!!!!
THEN WHY DON’T YOU JUST LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE.
B3C4US3 1 H4T3 S331NG YOU L1K3 TH1S! 4ND -
WHY DONT W3 JUST
its time to
Chapter 29: [=] 1F YOU ST4ND BY M3 /whenever youre in trouble / I WON’T BE AFRAID
WH4T H4PP3N3D TO K4RK4T?
that fucking asshole
Dave, wait --
L1K3 W3 D1D
just in time for us all to see the new dawn together
Chapter 30: AFTERWORD
Wow - if anyone’s still here, thank you - sincerely - for reading this!!! Since the last time I updated Cities in Dust I’ve graduated from University, moved four times, been mentored by my favourite writer, traveled to Europe once and to the other side North American continent twice, written the first draft of a novel, actually *finished* a couple more epic fics and accumulated enough paid writing work that I can safely call myself a “Professional”.
Also, Homestuck actually ended. Wow, never saw that one coming.
Throughout all of that I always regretted never finishing off CiD which despite its seemingly slipshod nature is a very important story to me; partly because it taught me a lot of important lessons about world-building and plot structure, and partly because it was a very important story to so many of the people I met in the fandom. I left Homestuck fandom due to a combination of distaste re: the fandom atmosphere and health complications (that had absolutely nothing to do with that), but I honestly don’t regret a moment of my involvement in what was probably the most dynamic fan community of the last fifteen years.
I think in 2017 we can all look back, remember and safely admit that: *whispers* actually, Homestuck is good.
Now, please enjoy everything else...
i. SOUNDTRACK & MUSIC GUIDE
iii. ASK BLOG ARCHIVE
Chapter 3: Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance) - The Contours
Chapter 4: Earth Angel - The Temptations
Chapter 5: Beyond the Sea - Bobby Darin
Chapter 6: A Little Drop of Poison - Tom Waits
Chapter 7: Dream a Little Dream of Me - Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
Chapter 9: A World Without Love - Peter and Gordon
Blue Moon - Elvis Presley
Chapter 10: Unchained Melody - Righteous Brothers
You Can’t Hurry Love - The Supremes
Chapter 11: Hopelessly Devoted to You - Olivia Newton John
Chapter 12: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - The Platters
Chapter 13: Girl - The Beatles
Chapter 14: St. James Infirmary - Louis Armstrong
A Little Less Conversation - Elvis Presley
Chapter 16: The Comedians - Elvis Costello
An Execution - Siouxsie & the Banshees
Chapter 17: Luck Be a Lady - Frank Sinatra
Chapter 18: In Dreams - Roy Orbison
Strangers in the Night - Frank Sinatra
Chapter 20: Sarabande - Homestuck OST (Erik "Jit" Scheele)
Be My Baby - The Ronettes
Danke Schoen - Wayne Newton
Chapter 21: Homestuck Anthem - Homestuck OST (Clark Powell)
Chapter 22: Showtime (Piano Refrain) - Homestuck OST
Chapter 25: Corpse Casanova - Land of Fans and Music (EnnuiKing)
Chapter 26: Time Goes By (Piano) - Casablanca
Stand by Me - Ben E. King
Chapter 28: Somebody’s Wrong - Isham Jones Orchestra
*note, although it is the title song and epitaph for the fic, this song never actually “appears”
Maybe someday I’ll have the wherewithal to track it all down, but for now what I can do is link you to my CITIES IN DUST TAG on tumblr, which does a pretty good job documenting the majority of it.
There’s a couple more odds n’ ends too, like this set of lovely livejournal icons made during the dying days of lj fandom, urban_anchorite’s romance novel parody scenario of the fic and the tvtropes and fanlore entries on the story.