Chapter 1: In which the setting is introduced and Dave argues with Karkat
> Dave: Run
You are already running as fast as you can!
You sprint down the winding alleys of the city's slums with the ease that comes with having made one too many escapes through this area before. You can hear your pursuers behind you, panting as they deperately try to keep up with a quarry that has the dual benefits of youth and not being a lardass. One of them stumbles into a garbage can, upending the receptacle and joining it on the pavement in what you're sure was a spectacular fall. Oh well, no time to look back and gloat. Gotta keep running.
Rounding yet another blind corner, you leap upwards and catch the dangling ladder of a fire escape. Grinning, you pull yourself up and onto the rickety scaffolding--you take a moment to catch your breath before sprinting up the cast-iron stairs and pulling yourself up onto the roof. You peer over the parapet and watch as your idiot pursuers huff and puff past your hiding spot like some sort of retarded steam engine. Another close call, but nothing you couldn't handle. It's been ages since you played that damn game, but gog dammit you've still got it.
Bro would be proud.
That thought has a sobering effect on your previously smug demeanor. You still miss him, even after all this time. You flop onto your back and stare at the stars. The twin moons reflect in the lenses of your ever-present sunglasses, turning one lens green and the other pink. You enjoy the night sky for a while--it is so unlike the starscape you grew up with, you don't think you'll ever get used to it. A small light begins to blink in the corner of your right eye. It takes you a second to realize it's not some distant spaceship orbiting the planet, but rather an alert from your battered old iShades.
Oh shit, looks like someone's trying to contact you.
Oh no. Just because your moirail is trying to contact you doesn't mean you want to deal with their shit right now. You swear to gog, if you have to listen to them right now, you will do an acrobatic fucking pirouette off the...
>Dave: ANSWER GODDAMMIT
Jegus he's persistent.
crimsonGuerilla [CG] contacted trenchantGallant [TG] at 0216
CG: STRIDER YOU INSUFFERABLE COOLDOUCHE, GET YOURSELF AND YOUR STUPID CURLY HORNS OFF THAT FUCKING ROOF RIGHT NOW.
CG: OR ARE YOU JUST GOING TO LAY THERE AND GIVE THE BOTH OF US AWAY TO A FUCKING SPY SATELLITE?
CG: GODDAMMIT STRIDER ANSWER ME. WE DON'T HAVE TIME FOR YOU TO FROLIC AROUND ON THE ROOFTOPS LIKE YOU'RE EQUIUS AT A FUCKING MUSCLEBEAST RANCH
TG: can it, vantas
TG: and dont insult my horns
TG: they happen to be awesome unlike the nubby pieces of shit that a certain someone tries to pass off as horns
CG: FUCK YOU STRIDER. THEY JUST HAVEN'T DEVELOPED YET.
TG: sure karkat
TG: youre what ten sweeps now
TG: im sure theyll start growing any day now
CG: AS THE LEADER OF THIS LITTLE INSURRECTION I HAVE SOME NEW ORDERS FOR YOU, STRIDER.
CG: SHUT THE FUCK UP.
CG: SHUT THE FUCK UP ARE YOUR ORDERS.
TG: as you command sire
CG: UGH, I'M JUST GOING TO IGNORE THAT AND ASK YOU AGAIN: WHY IN THE NAME OF GOD'S GRUBSAUCE-STAINED WIFEBEATER ARE YOU SITTING ON THAT ROOF?
CG: ARE YOU HOPING FOR THE IMPERIAL LEGIONS TO FIND US? IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE GOING FOR, DAVE?
TG: ill have you know im drawing ironic art of buckets
CG: FUCK YOU.
CG: FUCK YOU FOR PUTTING THAT IMAGE IN MY HEAD.
TG: man you know you like it
TG: ive seen you saving up your caegars
TG: gonna buy yourself a giant bucket and sit in it with jade
CG: STRIDER, TELL ME SOMETHING.
CG: HOW DOES IT FEEL TO WAKE UP EVERY MORNING AND HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE REALIZATION THAT YOU ARE THE MOST HORRIBLE FREAK THAT MOTHER NATURE HAS MANAGED TO VOMIT OUT OF HER LEAFY, DECAYING PROTEIN CHUTE?
CG: DO YOU ENJOY KNOWING THAT YOUR CONTINUED EXISTENCE IS SUCH A MONUMENTAL FUCK UP THAT ANY SANE PERSON WOULD PUT YOU OUT OF YOUR MISERY ON SIGHT?
CG: HOW DOES IT FEEL, COOLKID?
TG: why dont you ask your own hideous mutant self, vantas
TG: you think i enjoy this
TG: do you think that when i started that goddamned piece of shit game i envisioned my life would end up like this
TG: DO YOU VANTAS
TG: my bro is dead
TG: the game brought back your entire fucking planet and your entire goddamn civilization
TG: but it couldnt bring back our parents and it couldnt bring back earth
TG: and it turned us into trolls and stuck me with this...
TG: this...mutant blood
TG: and you ask me if im enjoying myself
TG: well you can go fuck yourself
CG: I'M SORRY DAVE. THAT WAS OUT OF LINE.
CG: YOU'RE NOT THE ONLY ONE, DAVE. I'M STUCK RIGHT HERE IN THIS HORRIBLE INTERGALACTIC CLUSTERFUCK WITH YOU.
CG: I ALWAYS HAVE BEEN.
CG: BUT NOW I'M NOT ALONE.
CG: I'M SORRY I BLEW UP AT YOU.
CG: JEGUS DAVE, I'M PROSTRATING MYSELF AT YOUR FUCKING FEET HERE.
CG: I AM COVERING MYSELF IN STINGING TUNNELING INSECTS AND DOING A LITTLE SOFTSHOE NUMBER CALLED "I AM SUCH AN ASS".
TG: dont strain yourself karkat
TG: its alright
TG: how many times have we gone through this
CG: TOO MANY
TG: its cool though
TG: dont worry about it
TG: i would have walked out of this sweeps ago if it was a big deal
CG: THANKS FOR STICKING AROUND, I GUESS.
TG: cmon vantas dont get all sappy on me
TG: im heading down
trenchantGallant [TG] terminated contact with crimsonGuerilla [CG] at 0230
> Dave: Descend
As you open the hatch in the roof and head down towards the basement and the concealed tunnel network, you ponder your unlikely moiralliegance with one Karkat Vantas.
Certainly neither of you saw it coming. At first you detested each other--hell, to an outsider, it looks like you still do. But after the Change, you found yourselves unceremoniously dumped into the same non-bucket receptacle. You found yourself cursed with the same mutant blood that had haunted Karkat for so long. This wouldn't have been a problem if you had found yourselves on Earth.
But you didn't.
Anyway, your stoic demeanor kinda acts like a sponge for his incoherent fits of uncontrolled rage. You take everything he throws at you, and that sort of defuses the situation. Over the sweeps this has calmed him down considerably, but certain topics (notably a certain green-blooded troll girl) still set him off, as he demonstrated earlier. In turn, he has slowly eroded your carefully constructed facade of irony and apathy until you are almost able to express your emotions like a normal hum...er, I mean, troll.
You guess that the Change, besides shoehorning you into troll bodies, also gave you the capability to fit into the quadrant system, because after a while the two of you discovered that you were waxing pale towards each other. You've been inseperable moirails ever since.
Also there's the fact that you keep saving each other's lives.
Chapter 2: In which Dave and Karkat discuss doing crimes and John is a derp
> Dave: Message your moirail.
There's no need to do that. He's sitting right next to you!
After several minutes of slogging through a tortuous maze of tunnels, you finally flopped down on your cot in what you and Karkat like to style your "secret hideout", because "empty maintenance closet in the sewer system" doesn't sound nearly as badass. Plus, having a secret lair means you get to pretend that you and Karkat are some sort of vigilante superhero team--not that you'd ever tell him, of course. If you squint real hard you can pretend that you're doing this ironically, and that this isn't what your life has become after sweeps on the run. If only things had gone differently that day...
But enough of this introspective bullshit. You have progress to report!
"Hey Bulgereek," you say, turning to the tiny room's other occupant. "Wanna hear what I did today?"
"Let me guess, cooldouche. You drew shitty comics with your girlfriend, and then pranced barefoot through a field of fucking flowers, spraying your mutant blood about like you're some sort of malfunctioning grass-watering device?" he replies tiredly, turning over in his cot.
"Man, you wish. Unfortunately for you, I don't have any prancing scheduled until next perigee. However, I did do this." You reach into your battered suit jacket and toss a brown folder onto the little card table. The folder's label is almost completely obscured by the giant red "CLASSIFIED" stamp.
"You fucking got it? Let me see that!" shouts Karkat, grabbing excitedly for the folder. "Well truss me up like a hoofbeast carcass, Strider. I didn't think you'd be able to pull this one off!"
"Hah," you snort. "Have I ever failed you before? Of course not. I'm just that good."
"Yeah yeah," says Karkat dismissively. "Were you able to get in undetected? Did they recognize you?"
"Jegus, Vantas, how HIGH do you even have to be to ask those kinda retarded-ass questions? Of course they caught me! I was only breaking into one of the highest-security buildings in the entire fucking financial district! Maybe if we could get Captor to come along with us one of these times, we could hack their damn security systems, but as it is, we've got to do this low-tech, and low-tech gets you caught. Secondly, of course they recognized me. We are, after all, in the fucking capital city of a goddamn empire that wants us dead more that Eridouche wants a date. I'd be pretty fucking surprised if either of us could walk out onto the street and not get recognized!"
"Okay, I get it. Anyway, thanks for getting these, man. We can do a lot of damage with these records."
"It's not a big deal. Breaking into high-sec record repositories is my motherfucking bread and butter. Besides, I feel like that was a nice "up yours" to the empress, don't you?"
"Haha, yeah, there's always that."
The two of you sit there for a bit and consider just how much you hate the empress for ruining your fucking lives.
The sudden chiming of Karkat's husktop interupts your venom-filled fantasies, and alerts you that you are being contacted.
> Dave: Answer.
A well placed hand to the face takes care of Karkat's grab at the husktop, allowing you to be the first to check the chat window.
Well well well, if it isn't Captain Derp of Star Command. You push your flailing roommate back onto the floor and begin to type.
educatedBrigand [EB] contacted crimsonGuerilla [CG] at 0314
EB: hey karkat!
CG: hey egbert
CG: hows space
EB: gee karkat, you sound kinda funny.
EB: are you alright?
CG: oh yeah hold on
crimsonGuerilla [CG] changed their handle to trenchantGallant [TG]
EB: hi dave!
EB: where's karkat?
TG: flailing around on the floor like a chump
EB: oh, i see. well, tell him i said hi!
EB: how are you guys doing?
TG: oh you know the usual
TG: running from the police
TG: running from the army
TG: running from little old ladies
TG: hiding out in the sewer system like were a couple of chuds
EB: haha that was such a great movie! a little scary, though.
TG: moving on
TG: how are things going between you and the spiderbitch
EB: c'mon dave. don't call vriska that. you know she's changed since SGrub!
TG: i dunno man
TG: i still cant get over the fact that youre matesprits with miss marquise mindfang
EB: hey man, don't start this. your girlfriend killed me, remember?
TG: alright alright fair enough
TG: so what did you want to talk to karkat about
EB: oh yeah!
EB: we decided to swing through the same sector as Colony 612 to check on the girls, and we picked up this transmission!
TG: so what
EB: well, you'll never guess who it's from!
> Dave: Guess anyways.
You can't, because you're too busy being John!
After you finish pestering Dave, you lean back in your captain's chair. You love this chair! It's soooooooo--whoops, you mean so--comfortable! Being a pirate really has its perks.
As you enjoy the cushiony comfort of your chair, you stare out at the starscape. The constellations are starting to become familiar to you now, after sweeps of transversing the extent of the empire. They still remain exotically beautiful, however, much like the troll sitting to your left.
You turn to your matesprit and give her a goofy smile. She returns your grin and turns back to the viewscreens, piloting your stolen starship towards the planet looming up ahead. You marvel at how much things have changed since the sixteen of you finished that game. Your little band of pirates is proof positive of that: take you for example. For some unknowable reason, Skaia saw fit to turn you all into trolls and dump you on Alternia. You discovered that the game had granted you a particularly fine variant of blue blood, and the massive amount of mangrit associated with it. You count yourself lucky: while being STRONG was a bit of a challenge to deal with a first, you got of easy compared to poor Dave.
However, the whole becoming a troll thing was a superficial change. Those who had been trolls before the Change are also nearly unrecognizable from their pre-game selves, but the changes they underwent were purely internal. Vriska is no longer the callous "spiderbitch" that terrorized the little band of twelve trolls back on Alternia. Whatever trials she underwent while trapped on that asteroid broke down the barriers that walled in the part of her that was appaled by what she had done. She became a different troll, one who wished to repent for her sins. The two of you agree that your matespritship is what helped her through, and now you're both better for it.
Even more striking is the change that your third and final crew member underwent. You turn in your chair and watch him as he stares at the engine readouts, sipping a cold glass of milk. No-one would have guessed, but Equius changed completely after that day.
The day everything went to shit.
Remembering that day is painful to you, even now. It was the last time the sixteen of you acted together as a group.
Everything was going so well until...
> John: Remember.
You can't bring yourself to think about it right now.
Suffice it to say that in the chaos, your little group scattered to the winds. Of those who were there that day, only Dave and Karkat have been in contact. Most were elsewhere at the time, working from behind the scenes--you can account for pretty much all of them.
Terezi is pursuing her life-long dream of becoming a legislacerator in the capital city.
Most of the girls are living on one of the colony worlds--the one you're headed towards now, as a matter of fact.
No-one knows what happened to Tavros and Gamzee. They were there with you that day, but they disappeared in the scrum.
Nobody knows where they are, or if they're even alive.
Until now, that is.
> John: Read transmission again.
CURRENT terminallyContumacious [CTC] RIGHT NOW opened a memo on board FRUITY RUMPUS ASSHOLE FACTORY.
CTC: what is up, my brothers?
CTC: anyone up and heading out past colony 612 right now?
CTC: cause me and tav could use a ride off of this motherfuckin rock.
CTC: and if you could find it all up in your hearts to provide one...
CTC: it'd be a motherfuckin miracle.
Chapter 3: In which John discusses strategy and Rose is simultaneously mysterious and snarky
> John: Discuss strategy with crew.
In light of recent developments, you think that this is probably a good plan.
You swivel in your captain's chair and turn to face your fellow blue-bloods.
"Well," you say. "What are we going to do?"
"We can't just leave them there!" says Equius. "It is our duty to help the less fortunate."
You are once again shocked by how much Equius has changed in the sweeps you've known him. The troll that Karkat had once dubbed "the sweaty hemo-facist" is no more, replaced by the calm, collected champion of equality that sits before you know. His transformation is probably the only good thing to come out of that awful day in the capital. If only you all hadn't had to lose so much to prompt it.
Vriska, being Vriska, can't resist the opportunity to weigh in on the decision.
"I would just loooooooove to see what Toreasnore has been up to for the past five sweeps!" she laughs, a mischevious smile on her lips. You suppose you should worry, but you don't. This isn't the "spiderbitch" who impaled the poor woobie and chucked him into a pit. Vriska has changed as well, mostly due to your STRONG moral influence. You know the worst that's going to happen to Tavros is some friendly teasing.
"I guess it's decided then," you say. "I'll just contact the governor to see if they can discreetly get us a secure dock. Then we'll go look for our wayward companions." Normally, you'd have to evade the police patroling the gravity well and slip into some secret port to get onto a civilized world--after all, the three of you make up one of the most feared pirate crews in the Empire.
However, this particular colony world happens to be governed by a close friend of yours.
Your ever-present grin broadens. It's been a while since you've talked to her.
> John: Contact your mysterious friend.
She's really not that mysterious!
educatedBrigand [EB] contacted thaumaturgicTyrant [TT] at 1812 LOCAL TIME
TT: Hello, John. It's been a while.
EB: it sure has! i don't think we've been through this sector for at least three perigees.
TT: I must say I'm rather grateful for that. Pretending to put together a military force to chase you around the system gets rather tiresome.
EB: oops, sorry! well, i have good news in that case. we're here to make a quick pick-up, not to do any raiding.
TT: Oh really? Are you going to tell what your mysterious package is, or will I have to use my magical seer powers to read your mind?
EB: hehe rose, you can't do that.
TT: Are you sure of that, Egbert? Remember, I still have the mystical powers of the Outer Ring at my command.
EB: i am shaking in my captain's chair here, ms. spookypants mcmagichands.
EB: anyway, i received a transmission earlier. you'll never guess who it's from!
TT: Is it from Gamzee and Tavros?
EB: aww, how did you know?
TT: Well, they're the only two who you aren't in contact with on a semi-regular basis. If it was any of the others, you wouldn't be so excited.
TT: It's simple logic, really.
EB: haha, i really shouldn't be surprised. you are the queen of books after all!
EB: yes, gamzee opened up a memo on karkat's old board.
TT: The infamous "FRUITY RUMPUS ASSHOLE FACTORY"?
EB: yeah. apparently, he and tavros are on your planet right now! gamzee was looking for someone to come pick them up, and we were in the area, so we're coming to get them.
TT: Interesting, I think I'd know if those two were here. Let me quick check to see if I have their records.
TT: Yes, hmmm. It's an interjection denoting deep thought, and perhaps bemusement.
EB: duh! that's not what i meant and you know it.
TT: Sorry, I couldn't resist. Anyway, there is no record of a Nitram or a Makara living on this colony.
TT: Wait, hold on.
TT: Kanaya just handed me something she found.
EB: what is it?
TT: It's the manifest for a prison ship that's due to make port within the next solar cycle.
TT: Gamzee and Tavros are listed as two of the prisoners being transported.
EB: no way!
TT: Yes way, John.
TT: I think we may have an impending prison break on our hands.
TT: This could get messy.
> John: Be Rose.
Don't be silly. You've always been Rose, and you find the notion that you were ever John to be patently ridiculous.
The news that you and John have discovered is rather unsettling, to be frank. A normal prison break-out would be a bureaucratic nightmare, and one perpetrated by two powerful veterans of SGrub? You don't even want to think about it. Every time John comes through here you have to deal with all the trouble he causes, and it looks like this time will be no different.
You suppose that's what comes of being close friends with a group of infamous pirates.
You sigh and begin the complicated process of bribing officials and "losing" paperwork that is necessary to get John's ship through the police perimeter and on to the planet. As you work, you become aware of a slight breeze tickling your ear. You turn and encounter the grinning face of your assistant and matesprit.
"Yes?" you say, arching one eyebrow.
"This should be interesting," says Kanaya. "It's been a while since we've seen those two. I wonder what they've been up to?"
"Nothing legal, apparently," you reply.
Kanaya just laughs and gives you a quick kiss on the cheek before returning to her workstation. You smile and watch her, thinking how lucky you are to have a matesprit as intelligent and beautiful as her.
> Rose: Reminisce.
You suppose it couldn't hurt to indulge in a bit of nostalgic musing while these money transfers go through.
You were just as surprised as everyone else when you awoke to find yourself on an Alternian hillside close to Karkat's old lawnring. You were shocked speechless when you glanced over at John and discovered that your leader now had grey skin and a set of horns. A quick glance confirmed that Jade and Strider had undergone the same transformation.
"Rose," gasped John. "...you have gills."
Your hand flew up, and sure enough you felt a pair of gills protruding from your neck. You were not just any troll. You were a seadweller.
You were royalty.
As such, you soon found yourself included in the Empire's ruling elite, and your brilliance soon earned you a post as governor of a distant colony world. You found this position ideal for aiding your group's little resistance movement, and even after everything fell apart you are still able to provide some covert aid to your friends when they need it.
You'd never admit it, but you miss the days when the sixteen of you were a cohesive unit, fighting Jack Noir and trying to wrest your final reward from that cursed game. Now that group is gone, scattered to the twelve winds. You all fell out of touch for a while, but now that Tavros and Gamzee have resurfaced it means that everyone is accounted for.
However, there is one troll that you wish had disappeared permanently.
Speak of the troll devil, it looks like they're messaging you right now!
Chapter 4: In which Rose engages in blackrom and Nepeta is an incompetent lab assistant
> Rose: Answer.
You suppose there's no avoiding it.
cullersAuthority [CA] contacted thaumaturgicTyrant [TT] at 1844 LOCAL TIME
CA: hey roz
TT: What is it now, Eridan?
CA: ivve got some important information
TT: Eridan, you traitorous little shit, I don't have time to play around. Go bother Jade or Karkat or someone.
TT: In short, go away.
CA: cmon roz dont be like this
TT: Like what, Ampora?
CA: youre gettin all fuckin snarky again
TT: It may have to do with the fact that I detest you and everything you stand for.
CA: oh no not this again
TT: Ampora, you mealy little wiggler, you were the one who wanted to go spades with me, remember?
TT: Well, now you've got your wish.
CA: roz that wwas back wwhen wwe wwere playin the game and i wwas a desperate loser
CA: i wwas bein stupid
TT: Too bad, because now my feelings for you are blacker than the charred remains of your smoking body will be when I get my hands on you.
CA: jegus roz i thought i wwas the one wwho came on too strong
CA: anywway i havve newws for you
TT: Fine. Tell me.
CA: actually im not sure you wwant to hear it
TT: Out with it, Ampora.
CA: wwell its
CA: its about fef
TT: What did you just say?
CA: actually you knoww wwhat nevver mind
TT: You did not just say her name.
CA: no seriously roz youvve gotta listen
TT: You absolute bastard. How can you even mention her? It's all your fault that we're in this mess, and you have the gall to mention Feferi?
TT: You insufferable prick!
CA: holy shit roz calm dowwn
CA: dont do anythin rash
> Rose: Do something rash.
CA: oh shit
cullersAuthority's [CA's] computer exploded.
That pompous, insufferable, gods-damned traitorous hipster!
Who the hell does he think he is, anyways? Does he really think he can weasel his way back into your group after killing Kanaya? After what he did after the Change? You would summon all the majyyk enyrjjies under your command and pop his pompous head like a balloon if you didn't find him so damn attractive.
Being a troll certainly makes relationships complicated. You certainly never expected that you could ever be attracted to someone you despise, much less be attracted to Eridan in any way whatsoever. There's just something about him though--a certain je ne sais quoi, to use the Old Alternian. Whatever it is, it fills you with the embarassing desire to fill buckets with him while strangling him with his own scarf.
Enough about your love life though. Let's get to work.
> Rose: Be Eridan.
You can't be Eridan, because the explosion has set his clothes on fire! He is far too busy to engage in your hijinks right now!
> Eridan: Stop being on fire.
> Rose: Continue preparations.
Oh yes, that's right. You are about to have a prison break on your hands. Better get in touch with your accomplices inland.
thaumaturgicTyrant [TT] contacted groundedGuardian [GG] at 1900
TT: Jade, I need your help with something.
GG: ooooh! sounds exciting!
TT: Exciting is not quite the word I'd use to describe this. Perhaps "inconvenient" covers it better.
GG: oh nooo :(
GG: what is it?
TT: You remember Tavros and Gamzee, correct?
GG: duh! how could i forget them? i wonder what they're up to?
TT: Actually, I can answer that question for you.
TT: Prison is what they're up to.
TT: Somehow they've ended up on a prison transport headed toward us, and they're planning to break out once they get planetside.
GG: oh no!!!
GG: what are we going to do, rose?!?
TT: I'm going to arrange for some sort of diversion to tie up the military. You and Nepeta need to help the two of them make it to your lab. It's isolated enough that they should be safe there.
TT: John and his crew will come by later and pick you all up.
GG: john's coming?!? yay!!!
TT: Yes, he should be here shortly. Speaking of which, I'm afraid I must end this conversation. I have many things to attend to.
GG: okay rose!
GG: bye :)
> Rose: Be Farmstink.
...wait a minute.
Your name is Jade Harley, and it was always Jade Harley. You were never, ever named Farmstink Buttlass. No siree.
A sudden explosion startles you out of your thoughts. Oh no! It looks like Nepeta got distracted and left your latest experiment unattended. You sigh and wish yet again that Kanaya was back from her visit to the palace; Nepeta may be one of your closest friends, but you swear that she is the world's worst lab assistant. You remember one experiment where you commanded her to "pull the lever" in your most dramatic science voice, and she promptly ruined the moment by informing you that "kitties can't purrl levers beclaws they don't have opurrsable thumbs". If you remember correctly, you and Kanaya achieved an unprecedented 4x facepalm combo.
You dash out of your office towards the billowing plume of smoke to find the wreckage of a glass cloning tube and a very embarrassed catgirl.
"Nepeta," you ask. "What exactly happened here?"
"The science kitty looks up at her friend with her huge cat eyes and says..."
"Without the roleplaying, please."
"Awww. Well...I was watching the compurrter readouts like you told me to make sure that the apurratus didn't ofurheat and it started to ofurheat so I went to turnitoffbutIfurgotthepawswordanditexploded," finishes the catgirl breathlessly. "I'm really sorry Jade!"
You laugh and scratch her head.
"Don't worry Nep. We'll just start again!"
"Oh boy!" she shouts, jumping up excitedly. "I can't wait!"
"Speaking of exciting news," you say mischeviously. "Guess who's coming to visit!"
Nepeta's response is not so much a coherent sentence as a high-pitched squeal.
You laugh again and watch as she runs back to her room to get ready. You yourself are quite excited to see John: it's been so long!
> Jade: Remember how long.
Well, you suppose you haven't seen him since shortly before the...incident.
Let's not talk about that right now.
Before that, you two were pretty much inseperable. While you were playing the game, you hoped that after everything was over, you could go back to Washington with John and live with him and his dad. You'd never have to live alone again.
But John's dad was brutally murdered by Jack, and when you guys woke up, Washington was in a different universe.
Oh yeah, and you were a troll.
John was the first to notice what had happened. The rest of you were too overwhelmed by the two multi-colored moons and the strange landscape.
"Rose," you heard him say. "...you have gills."
Your head turned so quickly you swore you could hear your neck crack, and sure enough, there's Rose with a pair of long slender horns and two gills protruding from her neck. John, standing next to her, had undergone a similar transformation, except with horns that are only slightly less nubby than Karkat's, and no gills. You turned to look at Dave, and he too was a troll.
Rose suggested that since you are now members of a society built upon a blood-based caste system, you might as well figure out what blood colors the four of you had been stuck with. John, of course, volunteered to go first. A single prick from Rose's needles revealed rich blue blood. John grinned STRONGLY and ran off to show Vriska.
Rose went next, and seemed rather unsurprised to bleed lilac. You yourself were shocked and a little intrigued when you discovered that your blood was radioactive day-glo green.
Then you looked over at Dave.
During the process of discovering your blood colors, he had gone paler and paler, until he was almost as white as a human.
"What's wrong?!?" you asked, full of concern for your cool friend.
"There's nothing wrong. I've always wanted to be a grey-skinned asshole with candy corn on my head and mutant blood," he said, looking away.
"Don't worry," you reassured him. You cast about for something to comfort him. "You can hide it like Karkat did."
To this day you still can't imagine anything worse you could have said to him at that moment.
To his credit, he didn't yell at you or do some sort of acrobatic pirouette. Instead, he just looked at you and gave a sad laugh.
"Yeah, Jade. Karkat and are going to be best bros from now on."
The sixteen of you tried to pick up the pieces of your broken lives: the twelve trolls tried to go back to their old routines, and the four of you from Earth tried to find your way in this alien society. You quickly found your place in the ranks of the chemistosstruppen, and when Rose was offered a position as governor of a distant colony world, you and a few of the others joined her. You, Nepeta, and Kanaya (when she wasn't with Rose) ran a remote desert lab, and for a while, everything was okay.
Until one day, when everything came crashing down.
The four of you were relatively untouched, so far away from the action, but others did not fair so well. Everybody's lives changed that day, but that was five sweeps ago, and you thought that it was over.
The reappearance of Gamzee and Tavros is going to shake things up.
You'd better get ready.
Chapter 5: In which Eridan deals with the consequences of angering a wizard and exposition is finally provided in the form of a flashback
> Eridan: Seriously, stop being on fire.
You sigh, and wish that this wasn't a common occurence.
Fuckin Roz. You still feel stupid for trying to solicit caliginous feelings when you first contacted her--the explosion of your computer was well deserved. And you'd understand if she still harbored a grudge against you for killing her matesprit. You may not have done a very good job of it seeing as the victim in question got up and chainsawed you in half shortly afterwards, but as they say, it's the thought that counts. It's these goddamn caliginous flirtations that you don't understand.
And it would be nice if she didn't blow up your fuckin computer and set you on fire every time you talked to her. She could do worse though. Requsitioning a new computer is simple enough.
Oh yeah, your clothes are still burning. That is still a thing that is happening.
You spread your fingers out in front of you and call upon the powers of wwhite science. Brilliant tendrils snake out from your fingertips, extinguishing the flames and restoring your uniform to its original, non-charred state. Thank god you thought to use your science powers to fire-proof yourself after that first incident or you'd be dealing with a lot worse than burnt clothes. You allow yourself a small smirk: letting you keep your science powers was probably the only good thing that fuckin game did for you. Too bad it ruined everything else.
You'd happily give anything for things to go back to the way they were.
Back before everything came crashing down.
> Author: For Christ's sake, how about some backstory?
What are you looking at me for? I'm just some dumb self-insert! Ask him!
> Eridan: Backstory. Now.
Well, your new computer isn't going to get here for a bit, and it's not like you don't have to relive that fuckin day every five minutes.
After the twelve of you had beat SGrub and run off to hide in a meteor in the Veil, you did some things you weren't proud of.
Terrible things involving putting holes in people with the power of science.
Terrible things that ended with you getting chainsawed in half by an angry rainbow drinker with a hole through her middle.
Yeah, let's not go to far into that. As a matter of fact, you'd prefer not to think about what happened afterwards either. It involved a lot of being dead, and then being alive again while everyone else wished you were dead. All in all, it was probably not one of the high points of your life.
Anyway, you all beat the big bad, won the joint human/troll session, and watched as Karkat and John opened the door together. Well, almost everyone did. You were otherwise occupied in a manner that'd you'd rather not explain right now. Anyways, for some reason you woke up not on Earth or some new planet, but rather back on Alternia.
> Eridan: Be Past Eridan.
You are surprised by your sudden return to consciousness. You are even more surprised by the twin moons on the horizon. Most shocking, however, is the fact that you are completely and utterly alone. Again.
You can feel your eyes tearing up from the sheer relief of being out of that nightmare, and from the fear that the others have left you behind. You quickly wipe the tears away. You resolved to grow up and be a better troll after what you did, and by god you're going to do it.
You fire up your glasses for the first time in ages, looking for any sign of your fifteen...acquaintances. But the screen is blank--you see no trolltags, no chumhandles. You begin to feel that same old sense of despair again, when you notice a blinking message.
"ectoBiologist [EB] is now online!"
"carcinoGeneticist [CG] is now online!"
"cuttlefishCuller [CC] is now online!"
and on and on, a rainbow of text exploding into view. And that's when it hits you.
It's all over.
You lose all semblance of control and fall to the ground, weeping tears of relief and pure, unadulterated joy. You are finally free.
After a span of several minutes, you notice that no-one has bothered to message you. With a sinking heart, you realize that you may be free of the game, but you haven't escaped the consequences of your actions. They still haven't forgiven you for what you did, and frankly, neither have you.
Well, time to prove to them once and for all that you are a new troll.
> Past Eridan: Fast forward. This is getting boring.
Over the course of the next few perigees, you do your best to monitor the activities of your companions over Trollian. The humans have, for some unknown reason, been transformed into trolls, and are doing their best to integrate into society. The rest of the group are trying to get on with their lives, pursuing the childhood dreams cut short by a hail of meteors. And through it all, a common cause unites them: preparing for Feferi's plot to dethrone the current Empress and start a new, enlightened era of the Alternian Empire.
Everything seems to be going well from what you can see. There are a few minor hang-ups, however. Equius refuses to lend his support to a cause that would upset the social order of his beloved Empire. Three perigees into the preparations, recruitment ships show up on Alternia. Some, like Equius, Nepeta, and Terezi, join up and are shipped offworld. Others, like Karkat, Vriska, John, and Dave, go underground, risking their lives to continue in directly aiding Feferi. You personally join the Empress's personal bodyguard, in order to put yourself in the ideal position for aiding your companion's little revolt. Through this all, you watch your friends, wanting desperately to contact them, but afraid of the inevitable rejection.
And so it is that one day, ten bilunar perigees and twenty-five solar cycles after you woke up to find yourself alone on an Alternian hillside, you are in your respiteblock in the Imperial Palace, putting on your best uniform for the Coronation Day festivities. Recently, the little group of rebels has gone dark on Trollian, and you are starting to become worried. No matter--you have important duties to perform today, and any slip-ups are subject to an immediate culling. You need to be 100% focused for this.
You report to your post, and your unit escorts Her Imperial Condescension to the throne room to review the Empire's most distinguished troops. The Empress sits in her regal throne, and your concentration takes a major hit as you recognize a familiar face in the assembled ranks: Equius stands proudly with his squad of Archeradicators, almost directly in front of the throne. You begin to wonder dazedly how he is managing to hold a bow when he recognizes you. He face blanches behind his dark glasses, but strangely, he doesn't sweat. You file that interesting detail away for later, and return your attention to guarding the Empress.
The ceremony is painfully dull, and you begin to contemplate shooting yourself with your own rifle when the doors to the throne room slam open. You nearly drop your gun in shock, and then nearly drop it again when you realize who the intruder is.
Behind her stand the trolls that disappeared when the recruitment ships came: John and Dave stand side by side, wielding an enormous hammer and an especially nasty-looking sword. Vriska is smirking and tossing her dice. Tavros and Gamzee are behind her, Tavros with an uncharacteristically fierce expression, and Gamzee with an unsettlingly grim one. Karkat is right behind Feferi, brandishing dual sickles, already unleashing a storm of expletives at the shocked onlookers.
"I am here for my throne," says Feferi in a voice that brooks no argument. "I would appreciate if we could do this without bloodshed, but we are prepared to take it from you by force."
Your heart swells with pride at the bravery of your friends, and you begin to raise your weapon and open your mouth to declare your support for Feferi when the Empress smiles and snaps her fingers.
Instantly, guards spring at the group and subdue them with almost no struggle. That's when you realize a very unfortunate fact: in all their planning they forgot to account for something.
You are still kids.
You no longer have your game given powers and levels. You can no longer toss these adults across the room like they are so much cardboard.
In short, you're fucked.
Feferi is dragged before the Empress, and as your one-time moirail struggles against the guards holding her, she sees your horrified face and all the fight goes out of her.
The Empress stands.
"Little girl," she says in a voice like shards of coral, "you are very foolish. And now you must suffer the consequences."
With one swift movement, she thrusts her 2x3dent through Feferi's chest.
And the girl falls to the ground, dead.
And you scream.
And everything shatters into a million little pieces.
Chapter 6: In which the author draws out a contrived expository segment for far too long and Eridan talks to someone who doesn't set him on fire
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
And the girl falls to the ground, dead.
And the boy screams.
And the world shatters into a million pieces.
> Pick up the pieces.
You are Vriska Serket, and you are back on Alternia.
The final battle has been won, and you claimed your reward: unfortunately, the reward was the world you thought you'd escaped. You look around at your fellow survivors: fifteen all told. Looks like everyone made it through...well, except for Eridan, of course. Poor Eridan.
Suddenly, a thought registers: John is a troll. He's a troll. Oh god he's a troll and he's smiling right at you with those buckfangs and oh my god he's so cuuuuuuuute!
You are Gamzee Makara, and you are stone-cold sober.
You have been since the reset. You were right about that shit rotting your thinkpan: constant exposure had made you motherfucking insane, and you didn't realize it until the sopor finally ran out. When you were resurrected, you were sober again, but you were sane. For the first time in who knows how long, you are yourself again, and it's a motherfucking miracle.
You are Tavros Nitram, and you are running around on your own two legs.
It feels marvelous. You feel marvelous. Beating that game is quite possibly the best thing that ever happened to you: you are more confident then ever before, and it's not any of that fakey-fake bullshit confidence either. Rufio may be dead, but you don't need him any more.
You spot Vriska flirting shamelessly with the newly trollified Egbert. You walk up to her and punch her in the jaw hard enough to lift her off her feet.
"That's for killing me," you say. Then you help her up and give her a peck on the cheek.
"And that's for kissing me."
You walk away, the smoothest motherfucker on the entire planet of Alternia.
You are Equius Zahhak, and you are informing your one-time companions that you will not be joining them in their foolish endeavors.
If the game has taught you anything, it is that doing one's duty outweighs obligations to the hemopectrum. Feferi may be your friend and she may be royalty, but your duty is to your empire.
You are Karkat Vantas, and you are taking one last look around your hive.
The recruitment ships have arrived, and if you want to survive the next ten minutes you are going to have to run. You glance around your kitchen, and the memories overwhelm you
...pinning a picture of you and Crabdad to fridge
...an image, frozen in time, of you jumping at your lusus, wielding a sickle. there may or may not be music playing in the background.
...you sprinting into the kitchen screaming, only to find the charred and smoking corpse of your guardian
...on second thought, it's time to go.
You turn to the trapdoor in the floor, where John beckons to you urgently and Strider glowers at you from the shadows. You run in and pull the door closed just as the drones break down the door.
You are Nepeta Leijon, and you are standing in the immense cargo bay of one of the many recruitment ships docked above Alternia.
You are in line with all the other green-bloods from your area: you can see Jade farther back in the line, smiling with a familiar buck-toothed grin. The drone has just informed you that you are now the newest member of the Pouncelors, and is now giving you helpful directions to your new barracks. You dash to your respiteblock and log on to your compurrter, eager to see where your furriends have been recruited to.
You are Kanaya Maryam, and you are on a shuttle to your new post.
You look around; Jade and Nepeta are staring avidly at the view screens, watching the planet approach. Rose sits aloofly to your side, but when she notices your gaze she gives you a slight smile. If only you knew where the ones who disappeared had gone.
You are Terezi Pyrope, and you are working on a case for his Honorable Tyranny.
It appears that someone is plotting to assassinate the Empress! You cackle and prepare to unleash justice upon the perpetrators. You lick the page, giggling, but stop when you taste one...no, two delicious cherry-red names. Oh shit. A few days later, all files dealing with the incident mysteriously catch on fire.
Delicious cinnamon-flavored fire.
You are Equius Zahhak, and you are so glad that beating SGrub fixed your sweating problem.
Beating the game granted each of you a boon: yours was the ability to control some of your more...unpleasant personal problems. When you realized you could hold a bow without breaking it, you STRONGLY shed a single tear, and now you are standing in front of the Empress in your pristine new Archeradicator cuirass. From your position you can make out the individual gems on Her Imperial Condescension's crown. Such close proximity to royalty would have had past you drowning in your own sweat, never mind the fact that you're staring at a ghost.
Eridan stands behind the Empress's throne, despite the fact that you quite clearly saw him die almost half a sweep ago. He is trying very hard not to look at you, but all the blood has rushed out of his face and he looks at least, if not more, uncomfortable than you are. Thankfully, the awkwardness is interrupted by someone barging into the throne room.
You are Feferi Peixes, and you and you friends are here to claim a throne and kick some ass.
You boldly challenge the Empress, full of confidence gained from beating an omnipotent demon dog into a bloody pulp, confidence that quickly proves to be empty bravado as the guards surround your friends and seize you by the arms. You are dragged unceremoniously up to the throne. You struggle, trying unsuccessfully to pull free from the guards, and now the Empress is saying something to you but you can't hear her because behind her is Eridan. Poor, frightened Eridan. Eridan, who was mortally wounded in a one-on-one battle with Jack. Eridan, who you watched bleed out before you could claim your final reward. And now here he is, standing with his gun held limply, pointed at the Empress, with what is possibly the most heartbroken expression you've ever seen.
You go limp with shock, and the next thing you feel is the 2x3dent piercing your ribcage.
And after that, there is nothing.
You are Eridan Ampora, and you are screaming and screaming as the only girl you ever loved falls dead to the floor and you are crying and you don't know what to do!
You are John Egbert, and you are surrounded.
You and your companions stand, unbelieving, as Feferi falls, dead. Then someone screams, a scream of pure pain and loss, and you fly into action as your friends stand there, stunned. You pull a guard's weapon out of his grasp, grab him, and with one STRONG movement you break his spine.
You are Karkat Vantas, and John has just snapped.
Like, literally--he just snapped some guy's spine in half. He's gone into full on beserker mode, and by god it's infectious. You are suddenly full of righteous rage and your hands are suddenly full of sickles and then you are threshing the shit out of these fucking guards as the two of you lead a desperate attempt to escape the palace.
You are Gamzee Makara, and you are introducing these motherfuckers to some of your miracles.
One guard goes down to a blow from oune of your clubs, and another is mauled by an imp that you pulled out of your miracle modus. Your best motherfuckin friend Tavros is right beside you, using his lance to knock guards off their feet and then throwing them across the room. You reach into your sylladex for a bottle of Faygo, which, when tossed into the melee, promptly explodes, killing several guards. Motherfuckin miracles.
You are Dave Strider, and you are shoaing these bipches your stabs.
You flicker in and out around the guards, introducing one after the other to the blade of your sword. You are an implacable force of nature wearing ironically cool sunglasses. It's time to let the bodies hit the floor.
You are Tavros Nitram, and you are fighting for your goddamn life.
There are simply too many guards, and they have you and Gamzee backed into a corner. You are beginning to worry that this is it, that you are about to die, when the multicolored lightshow that heralds the appearance of Gamzee's miracle modus starts up. Then he grabs your hand and holy shit you think he's captchaloguing the two of you and then you are being expelled next to an empty hive by the sea. You have no idea what just happened, but you think it was probably a miracle.
You are Karkat Vantas, and you are about to do something you know you're going to regret for the rest of your life.
That insufferable prick Strider has gotten himself wounded, and now every asshole in the entire fucking throne room is trying to kill the mutant. You slice your hand with your sickle and hold it high, bright crimson spurting from the wound.
"HEY YOU BULGEGARGLING FUCKWADS, LOOK OVER HERE!"
Egbert better be fucking grateful for this.
You are John Egbert, and you are swinging your hammer like a street-tough maverick with nothing to lose.
Guards are flying all over the room, and you and Vriska are still no closer to reaching Dave and Karkat.
"Karkat! Dave!" you shout. "Hold on!"
"EGBERT YOU RETARDED PIECE OF SHIT!" Karkat replies. "GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!"
You are torn, but Vriska blasts a hole through the crowd with her fluorite octet and pulls you bodily out of the throne room.
You are Equius Zahhak, and you are thinking about your life and about your choices.
At first you were so sure that your duty was to respect the hemospectrum and all that it entailed. Then you were strangled by a crazed indigo-blood who then proceeded to club your moirail to death. Next, you thought that your duty was to the empire. Then you watched as the empress brutally murdered a girl who was not only your superior on the hemospectrum and the empress in waiting, but also your friend.
Now you don't know what you believe in, but by gosh you are absolutely freaking...no, you are absolutely fucking sure that this is not it.
The archeradicators surrounding Karkat and Dave turn in shock when the captain's head is splattered by an arrow. You grin and throw yourself into the melee alongside your friends.
You are Dave Strider, and to your immense confusion, you are fighting side by side with Karkat Vantas.
For reasons you have yet to understand, the dumpass came to your rescue after every fucking guard in the entire throne room turned on you. You are also surprised at the amount of ass the two of you are kicking.
There is one last guard standing between you and the door, and the face he makes when he narrowly dodges Karkat's sickle only to take your shoe to the face has the two of you laughing your asses off as you sprint out of the palace and into the city.
You are Vriska Serket, and you are running through the city with about half the Imperial Legion chasing you.
John trails behind you, trying valiantly not to burst into tears and losing. You turn back to grab his hand and comfort him and that's when you see the ship.
It's a small ship, the kind generally used by intergalactic police patrols, and it looks like it has recently dropped off one such patrol to find you. The idiots even left the thing running.
You have all the luck. All of it.
You and John run towards the ship, and just as you are about to take off you hear a voice from outside.
"Wait! Please, take me with you!"
It's Equius, and he's covered in blood. You turn to John.
You are John Egbert, and you wordlessly extend your hand to Equius, helping him aboard as the ship lifts off.
You are Eridan Ampora, and you are standing in the wreckage of the throne room.
You are still in shock from what just happened. Fef was killed, and then there was a lot of screaming and fighting and blood everywhere, and somewhere in there you became aware of the brilliant white light shooting out of your hands into the air. You're not sure, but you think you may have obtained wwhite science powers somewhere.
Fat load of fuckin good that did you.
> Eridan: Isn't there something important you have to tell someone?
Well, it looks like while you were lost in your memories your computer was replaced. You guess it's probably time you put it to use, preferably to contact someone who won't set you on fire.
cullersAuthority [CA] contacted educatedBrigand [EB] at 2025 LOCAL TIME
EB: oh, hey eridan! what's up?
CA: i havve important newws
CA: i tried to tell roz but she bleww up my computer again
EB: oh! i'm sorry!
CA: its okay dont worry about it
CA: anywway its about fef
EB: ummm...eridan, i don't know any tactful way to say this,
EB: but she's been dead for five sweeps!
CA: yeah thats wwhat i thought too
CA: but i finally got access to the records from the incident
CA: and they said they nevver found a body
CA: john i think she might be alivve
Holy fuck that was a long one. Sorry if it drags on.
Chapter 7: In which John falls asleep and Dave has a run-in with the law
Hey, you guys remember when RESET was a thing that updated?
Yeah, I don't either.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
> John: Land already!
You guide your little craft into the camouflaged dock. One of the best parts about having friends in high places is that you don't have to deal with customs if you don't want to.
After quickly a quick check of the area using your ship's external cameras, you and your crew slip out the hatch, out the door, and into the bustle of the crowded streets. As a group of bluebloods you'd normally stand out in a crowd like this, but the three of you took to hiding your true blood color long ago. Today you and Vriska have gone with varying shades of greenish-yellow, while Equius has opted for more of a rust color. The rainbow of fake symbols you have amassed over the sweeps would make a subjuggalator weep with joy.
Your journey through the dock district out to the trasit station is uneventful--after all, a group of battle-scarred low-bloods is a fairly common sight in this area. You love doing this. Sweeps of constant disguises and other assorted jackanapes have sent your pranksters gambit through the roof! No troll can hope to beat you in a prank-off: you're simply the best there is!
Eventually you reach the transit station. A quick survey of the route map tells you which line you'll need, and you shell out a couple of caegars for three seats on the next train out to Harley Flats. After boarding, you plop down in to your seat, and wait for the conducterror to punch your ticket. The first minutes of the ride pass uneventfully, and you stare out the window at the barren landscape rushing past. Before long, the pleasant monotony lulls you to sleep.
> John: Dream.
in your dream
you are the star.
and THEN the big man comes
for a little one on one
but it turns out to be CRAZY what kind of...
Shit, sorry. Wrong dream.
The four of you stand overlooking a shadowed plain on your world.
Behind you, Jade starts to pluck out a driving rhythm on her Eclectic Spass. As the thrumming sound of the vibrating strings starts to fill your chest cavity, Dave pulls out his timetables and poises his hands on the records.
Then he scratches and the two of them rip space-time a new one.
> Scratch: HAPEN
There's a horrible twist, the sickening sensation of nothingness pressing in from all sides, and then you're standing in the middle of a computer lab surrounded by aliens
You get a glimpse of grey-skinned blur before you are pulled into a tight hug. When your assailant steps back, you see the eight-pupiled eye and suddenly you recognize her.
"Joooooooohn! You're really here!" exclaims Vriska, pulling you into another hug. "This is soooooooo great! Now all you have to do is wake up!"
"Wake up, John!"
> John: Wake up.
"Joooooooohn, wake up!"
You suddenly become aware that Vriska is shaking you awake.
"Time to get up, sleepyhead! We're heeeeeeeere!"
"Oh man! I didn't even realize I'd drifted off," you reply, as you get up to grab your stuff. With your bag retrieved, the three of you disembark and begin the long walk towards Jade's lab complex.
Oh man, it's going to be so great to see Jade again. You haven't seen any of your friends since the disaster at the capital, minus your crewmates of course, and now you're on the same planet as a whole bunch of them! You'll get to see Jade, and Rose, and it'll almost be like old times. Only Dave is missing.
Speaking of Dave, you are kind of curious about what he's doing right now.
> Dave: Become relevant.
You are Dave Strider, and you are always relevant.
You are also running away from the policentinals. Again.
If you had a fucking troll caegar for every time you got chased through the shitty back alleys of this goddamn city, you and Princess Pottymouth could buy a ship off the black market and get the fuck out of here.
Oh, who are you kidding. You guys have already got the money. The two of you just like staying here and jacking up the empire's shit. Seriously, it's like the empire's shit was some god-awful little house party being thrown by the most unpopular kid in school, and you and Karkat are a couple of gatecrashers who show up, drink all the booze, and then break the parents' priceless Ming dynasty vase. Well, you also have your own personal reasons for being here.
"Stop right there, criminal scum!"
You quickly veer to the right into a nearby alleyway, but you realize your mistake when you run up against a brick wall. Looks like you're pretty well fucked.
"If it isn't the elusive Mr. Strider," your pursuer cackles. You turn to face them, and suddenly you think again of the other reason you're still on this crapsack planet.
"Are you aware that hiding your delicious cherry-flavored eyes is a crime punishable by culling, Mr. Coolkid?"
That's the reason why you're still here.
So at one point I was trying to finish this before any more characters died and ruined the backstory I'd constructed, but then I decided to just keep writing my story regardless, on account of me not giving a shit about canon.