TG: christ lalonde you know you wouldnt be able to cope if we were just squashed flies on the providential windscreen
TG: we transcend that windscreen
TG: were like those weird ass little bobbing head dolls lined up along the dashboard underneath the fuzzy dice of temporal inevitability and the stylized tree shaped air freshener of badass elemental powers
TG: fates favourite little road trip buddies
TG: serket is the spider nesting in the rear view mirror
TG: tz can be the horrible bumper sticker proclaiming ‘my d4rl1ng l1ttl3 br4t 1s 4n honours stud3nt 4t pr3t3nt1ous douch3b4g h1gh’
TG: what im saying is you need to get your existential shit together before it disintegrates along with the rest of your sanity into a sloppy pretentious mire of schroedingers fucking excrement
TG: gotta relish this freaky chosen one deal
TG: its pretty much all we have
TT: ... Does it have to be?
No, you know that. More than anyone, perhaps, you are aware that this game flatters one’s inner Narcissus, to the point where the fool is plunged headlong into the water at the first impossible touch of a wavering reflection – but that is ludicrously beside the point. Implausible though it may seem, there are more aspects to the universe than the details which add fuel to your egotism. There is, for instance, the all-pervasive worry – the intangible, immutable threat – of the tawdriest form of determinism imaginable.
Imagine teasing out thirteen years of one’s life quite contentedly in the twenty first century, only to be plunged with sickening pace into a universal meta-narrative befitting the fifteenth, shedding liberal sanctimony and enlightenment debris throughout the fall.
(You don’t need to imagine it, because it is exactly the nature of what you are facing.)
Every facet of your native planet shimmers – each blinding, intricate detail crafted for someone other than you. For the player who will dutifully follow the myriad clues scattered about their realms, hastening to fulfil each circuitous requirement; hesitant to doubt. Too clean, too tranquil – too beautiful.
Naturally, you think it is beautiful. You are not sure you are ready to submit to fate like some Elizabethan theologian, though, however sonorous the music of the spheres. They can give you pale, glittering expanses, lime-streaked clouds and candy-striped rain; they can hurl every soft, glistering fantasy from the iridescent pages of every story book you once possessed – but you will not budge. You are not tailored to this playground, any more than it is fit to contain your ambitions – and if whimsy will not weather you, nothing else will suffice.
You will not voluntarily confine yourself to some god-forged structure in order to gratify your vanity, nor are you willing to accept any limitations it deigns to sling your way. For each construct has its maker – and no creation sits within an empty void.
TT: Come off it, Strider. You use inevitability as a handy cover with which to shield yourself from your own judgement, to the point where it’s a battered, perforated thing best suited to draining pasta rather than deflecting uncomfortable truths.
TT: You love being able to shirk all responsibility by pleading the fate clause.
TG: whoa wait whoa
TG: are we actually going to start delving into issues i might genuinely possess rather than interesting syndromes plucked at random from your well worn copy of babys first freud
TG: because i never signed up for anything this heavy when i became your favourite psychological chew toy
TG: leave me and my insecurity colander alone
TT: Relax; I’m just illustrating a point. I wouldn’t be so cruel as to go for the pulsing jugular of your deplorable emotional distancing strategies.
TG: just sorta nudging your fangs into a minor artery
TG: dipping your toe into the kiddie pool before inducing full blown cardiac arrest
TG: ok i can respect that
TT: I’m actually serious, you know.
TG: shit really
TG: chalk up a major event for the history books
TG: you know the ones were going to be creating afresh after we remodel the universe
TG: a moment of sincerity from rose lalonde
TG: thats gotta be worth at least a paragraph of historiographical analysis
TG: kids in the future gonna be putting together research projects on the causes and consequences of this unforeseen episode
TT: Cheap blow, Strider.
He will take the lead from guardian or patron, from fate – from future selves – and, admittedly, will perform for them with considerable valour. But he fails to operate without a prompter; falls to pieces sans guidance. You know this, and you know that he knows this; he knows that you know – and, overall, you wonder if there exists a pair of estranged ectobiological siblings in any other universe who are as well schooled in their own particular genre of dysfunction as the two of you.
You are highly sceptical as to the prospect of such a scenario.
TT: Do you suppose I’m being dreadfully presumptuous as to the nature of our autonomy when I say sometimes – occasionally – I wish we could simply have one scrap of being all to ourselves?
TT: A concrete identity, rather than one single-celled organism in a colossal genetic structure?
GA: I Wouldnt Call It Presumptuous So Much As Tragically Narrow Minded
TT: Ah, better than I thought!
GA: Yes You Can Comfort Yourself In The Fact That You Are Merely Wrong Rather Than Wrong And Unduly Arrogant
GA: Look All I Meant Was That The Ontological Status Quo That You So Despise Still Happens To Be The Case Whether Or Not You Happen To Like It
GA: I Mean How Could It Stop Being The Case
GA: People And Events Are Interconnected By Necessity
TT: No teenage angst factory is an island, and so forth.
GA: Who Says Were Not Our Own People Regardless
GA: Only I Suppose More So
TT: Kanaya, one could easily make a case for the Soviet Union being a caring, community-based, forward-thinking social experiment, only more so.
GA: Ok Right Now Im Thinking Its Probably A Good Thing That Human Reference Soared Overhead Without So Much As Skimming The Edge Of My Perplexed Extraterrestrial Cranium
GA: Enlightening Though It May Have Been
GA: Because I Imagine It Was Largely Irrelevant Though Probably Humorous And Distracted From The Actual Matter At Hand
TT: What a misfortune, that cultural differences should prevent you from appreciating my incisive political discourse!
TT: But tell me. What is the actual matter at hand?
You know what it is. You know what Kanaya is about to tell you – a level of understanding matched only by her intuitive recognition that this is something of which you are aware. And so, with officious exactitude, she informs you anyway – because she is Kanaya, and she knows that reiteration is not necessarily redundant.
GA: It Doesnt Diminish Us
GA: The Fact That Were Tied In To A Degree Of Temporal Certainty
GA: Its Simply The Way Things Have Been All Along
GA: And Will Be
GA: Youre Trying To Fight The Quintessence Of All Existence
GA: The Rules Are There For A Reason And They Werent Set By Anyone You Can Rage At
GA: Theyre Just
GA: Its Like Attempting To Alter The Fact That Gravity Exists Or That Doubling One Unit Makes Two
TT: Would now be the appropriate time to comment that gravity has, in fact, not been proven conclusively to exist? For all we know, it could fail to apply tomorrow. All we’ve got is an - admittedly colossal - aggregate of evidence.
TT: And the same goes for math. How do we know it’s not all one shared delusion?
GA: You Know The Point Still Stands Regardless
GA: And Ok Now You Are Definitely Being Obtuse In Order To Divert The Conversation Into Less Uncomfortable Territory
GA: A Conversation Which You Started Might I Add
TT: You’re wise to my tricks. Is it working?
GA: If You Want It To
You take advantage of this strangely acquiescent mood, and say that you do, else you would not have made the attempt. Like a travel-weary wanderer, the conversation treks its ponderous way towards friendlier pastures, and you wonder if, for the first time, she was actually going easy on you.
The air is clear here – so pure as to be abrasive, and a fresh, hollow chill permeates the surroundings, and Kanaya Maryam will never, never understand rebellion for its own sake; never feel that thwarted, impossible frustration wash over her like a tide of acid at the notion of facing an omnipotent foe. She is content to fulfil her role if she believes the prevailing authority to be benevolent. She will never flout the notion of servitude out of pure principle. You think that she has all the trappings of a religious mind; she would not be averse to such an encumbrance as faith, nor would she be incapable of devotion.
I want to break this game, Kanaya. I want to tear great, ragged fissures in its overarching plan. I want to play Faustus.
You want to forge a reckless, asymmetrical alliance with forces that outstrip your control; you know you are being taken in – yet you also know that, in order to defy predetermination, one must be foolish. One must grasp the impossible by its intangible roots, and pull, as if by force, one could wrench it into existence. To match forces with heaven and hell, one must nominally choose a side – if only to transcend the dichotomy. And you are far more inclined to weave your way into the dark, the transgressive, than to allow yourself to be ensnared by the sinister, legalistic bonds of order.
Chaos is appealing. Chaos would be a welcome shroud; far kinder than this relentless cage of logic.
EB: i dunno, rose – it's always seemed sort of comforting to me!
EB: like, we may get a hundred things wrong, but that's only because they're all necessary in order to eventually get things right?
EB: or something?
TT: And if the conclusion is undesirable?
EB: then we cope with it as it comes, like we always do.
(What John doesn’t tell you, but what you witnessed anyway, through the borderline ridiculous medium of a seer’s ball, was the conversation precluding this one.
CG: AND IT’S NOT AS IF WE CAN ACTUALLY CHANGE ANYTHING!
CG: WE HAVE VIRTUALLY ENCYCLOPAEDIC KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT GOES WRONG, BUT WE KNOW JACK SHIT ABOUT WHAT REALLY MATTERS.
CG: JUST FILLING IN THE GAPS AS WE GO ALONG, LIKE SOME KIND OF DEMENTED WRIGGLER’S PUZZLE WHERE EACH PIECE IS SURRENDERED ONLY AFTER THE REQUISITE WATERFALL OF BLOODSHED AND EMOTIONAL TRAUMA.
CG: AND THEN, AT THE SAME TIME, WE’RE BOUND BY THIS CONVOLUTED SNARL OF TIMELINES THAT WEAVE BACK IN ON EACH OTHER LIKE SOME GROSS, GORDION MONSTROSITY.
CG: AND IF YOU TRY TO SUBVERT IT, CHANCES ARE YOU’LL JUST END UP BEING ONE MORE LINK IN THE UNBREAKABLE CHAIN OF EVENTS LEADING INEXORABLY TOWARDS THE ACT YOU’RE TRYING TO PREVENT IN THE FIRST PLACE!
CG: REALLY, EVERY SINGLE MOMENT IN TIME IS THE PRESENT, BECAUSE IT’S ALL EQUALLY, HIDEOUSLY IMMUTABLE, AND I CAN’T BELIEVE IT TOOK US SO LONG TO FUCKING REALISE.
EB: karkat, no! I mean, sure, everything slots together like its supposed to, but thats because it wouldnt work any other way.
EB: jeez, what does it even matter?
EB: it's just like normal time, only there's more of, right?
EB: tell me you're not throwing a hissy fit because you can't understand all the crazy time shenanigans.
EB: come on, none of us understand them!
EB: except maybe dave, but he sort of has to.
CG: OKAY, WHAT KIND OF DIRE NEURAL MALFUNCTION LED TO YOU BELIEVE THAT INCOMPREHENSION IS WHAT I’M EXPRESSING HERE, RATHER THAN INCREDULITY?
CG: I UNDERSTAND EXACTLY WHAT’S GOING ON, AND WHY. I JUST HATE IT.
EB: ok, ok, i get that! i just don’t get what there is to hate.
CG: URGH, YOU PROBABLY WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND ANYWAY. IT’S TIED UP WITH A BUNCH OF OTHER ISSUES – ONES WHICH I CAN’T EVEN BE BOTHERED GETTING INTO.
EB: come on, karkat, credit me with a little patience!
EB: explain already.
EB: ... you know i'm just going to keep bothering you until you tell me.
CG: I KNOW YOU’RE A GARRULOUS BUFFOON WITH A HABIT OF WADING WAIST-DEEP INTO CONVERSATIONAL MIRES YOU REALLY OUGHT TO AVOID.
CG: I DO KNOW THAT MUCH.
What you don’t know is how badly Karkat wishes that all he had to contend with was a flimsy, eggshell construct of a game – easily splintered; easily escaped. How his culture has always been addicted to destiny – and how, as alluring as he once found the notion, the romance has all but dissipated, and he is left feeling nothing but trapped. How he is sickeningly aware that they are all simply playing out the same narrative, only tweaked – the same circumstances, except advanced a little – and how their behaviour is ingrained throughout countless iterations of themselves, immeasurable repeated themes. He has listened to Terezi trade lofty ancestor talk with Vriska and Eridan; reflected on how his own ancestor was, in all likelihood, some nameless wretch who might have clawed out perhaps ten sweeps’ worth of existence before uselessly expiring – and how thrillingly resonant such circularity might be for those with some significance. And he has inured himself to the sharp, scraping reverberations of ancient empire and antique prophecy; listened as the glassy intonations of eternal harmonics spiral upwards and dull into oblivion.
And sometimes, just occasionally, he allows the sound to seduce him into a promise of brilliance; succumbs to the cacophony of fate, luck, hope and chance, and thinks that perhaps, amidst the glorious dissonance, his chord may echo in its preordained place.
But never for long.
CG: ... WE’RE JUST PLAYING TO THE SAME SCRIPT, FOREVER. HALF OF US ARE STANDING IN THE WAKE OF TOWERING PREDECESSORS – AND HALF OF US ARE PROBABLY SHADOWED BY TOTAL NONENTITIES.
CG: AND WE’RE EXPECTED TO FOLLOW IN THEIR FOOTSTEPS – FINISH THEIR WORK FOR THEM?
CG: FUCK THAT. I’VE GOT A TEAM TO LOOK AFTER.
EB: you know, i think the whole ancestry thing is pretty awesome, actually.
EB: it's like, even if you leave something unfinished in your past life, there's always time to make amends in the future!
CG: JOHN, REGARDLESS OF THE INFERIOR QUALITY OF EARTH CINEMA, SURELY YOU HAVE WATCHED ENOUGH FILMS TO AT LEAST KNOW THAT SEQUELS. ALWAYS. SUCK.)
EB: it's like a movie where the characters get to do some really dumb stuff, and there are tonnes of implausible plot complications, but in the end it always works out well, and everything slots together.
EB: no exceptions. :)
TT: What if I want to make mistakes of my own? Ones that haven’t been vetted by standards and practices? What then?
EB: then... i don't know, that means you're off script?
EB: i can feel this movie metaphor disintegrating already.
EB: r.i.p, buddy.
EB: but no, seriously, the metaphor may have melted away before its time – but the point still stands!
EB: and the point is that there IS no point in worrying about this kind of thing.
EB: you do what you do, and it doesn't matter who's watching, or who's in control, and in the end things just fall into place.
EB: and that's life at the moment, i guess.
All very well, but when fate entails doom, you feel no obligation to totter blithely along the path laid out for you. Compliance in this scenario would be naive.
As per your informant’s instructions, you consult the white cue ball.
You answer Jade.