> Fugitive: Enter name.
Your name is KARKAT VANTAS and it has been TWO SOLAR SWEEPS since you absconded from the ALTERNIAN IMPERIAL FLEET.
Your interests include STAYING ALIVE, and actually that is about where your interests end. You don't have much time for FRIVOLOUS ACTIVITIES, as you are ALONE aboard a ship drifting in THE ENDLESS EXPANSE OF SPACE. You recall a passion for TERRIBLE ROMANTIC MOVIES and COMPUTER PROGRAMMING but it is hard to keep focused on these things when you are in constant fear of somehow running into trouble with the EVER-EXPANDING EMPIRE that you have escaped. You used to dream of joining the THRESHECUTIONERS, a dream that became UNATTAINABLE due to the fact that you were almost CULLED for your MUTANT BLOOD. You never take off your GOGGLES because they hide the color that has filled your irises in adulthood.
You need to keep moving to outrun the Alternian fleet, but you also must stop on occasion to try to find food or supplies on unconquered planets--stopping on any occupied colonies is very risky.
> Karkat: Land already.
You land your ship in a clearing and set out to explore the area. The planet you have stopped at is very close to Empire territory, but its dense forests provide an adequate place to stop and stretch your legs and get some fresh air. Being trapped on a ship for two sweeps is actually a very CLAUSTROPHOBIC EXPERIENCE, and the CRIPPLING LONELINESS doesn't exactly help either. It is difficult for you to make new friends or allies considering you are constantly on the run, and your DEEP-SEATED TRUST ISSUES stemming from your hidden mutation don't exactly help either.
It's all right, though. You are used to being alone. At least that is what you tell yourself perigee after perigee spent aboard a hunk of metal floating in space.
As it happens, however, you are not alone right now at all.
> Karkat: Be the other troll.
You cannot be the other troll because the other troll is planning to ambush you!
Right about now, in fact.
> Karkat: Get ambushed.
Oh god damn it.
> Karkat: Beg for mercy.
You are way too dignified for that!
…Well you may be whimpering slightly at the moment, but there is no way you are going to add to that shame by actually begging your attacker to spare your life. You are a troll and a once-Threshecutioner, and you grovel to no one.
-- grimAuxiliatrix [GA] began questioning carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
GA: Who Are You
CG: GET THE FUCK OFF OF ME.
GA: Are You With The Fleet
CG: DO YOU SOMEHOW SPEAK STANDARD ALTERNIAN BUT NOT UNDERSTAND IT? I SAID GET THE FUCK OFF.
GA: Youre In A Threshecutioners Uniform
GA: Your Trim Is Rust So Your Rank Cannot Be High
GA: You Must Have A Unit
CG: OH, OK! FORGIVE ME. THAT WAS SO RUDE.
CG: MY RANK IS "FUCK" AND MY UNIT IS "OFF." IS THAT BETTER?
GA: Its Standard Fleet Practice To Give At Least Ones Serial Number When Captured
CG: ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS RIGHT NOW? I'LL TELL YOU WHAT STANDARD FLEET PRACTICE IS: YOU DON'T FUCKING GET CAPTURED.
CG: YOU FIGHT OR YOU DIE. WHAT KIND OF FUCKING UNIT WERE YOU IN WHERE YOU DON'T KILL ON SIGHT?
GA: You Are Being Overly Difficult
CG: WHY HAVEN'T YOU KILLED ME YET? IS YOUR PLAN IS TO QUESTION ME TO DEATH?
CG: OH GOG TELL ME YOU'RE NOT A FUCKING LEGISLACERATOR, I HAVE HAD MORE THAN A LIFETIME'S WORTH OF COURTROOM BULLSHIT THANKS.
GA: I Take It Your Dealings With The Law Have Not Been Altogether Pleasant Then
CG: …WAS THAT AN ATTEMPT AT SARCASM? BECAUSE IF IT WAS, THAT’S THE SORRIEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD.
GA: Or Perhaps Youve Had Unpleasant Romantic Entanglements With A Legislacerator
CG: WOW THAT IS NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.
CG: WHO THE FUCK ASKS THE PERSON THEIR TRYING TO CAPTURE ABOUT THEIR LOVE LIFE? GOG YOU ARE SUCH A MEDDLER.
GA: I Am Not A Meddler
CG: WHATEVER, YOU ARE SO--
CG: DO I KNOW YOU?
CG: OH JEGUS DON'T TELL ME YOU'RE HARD OF HEARING ON TOP OF BEING COMPLETELY FUCKING STUPID.
CG: I ASKED IF I KNEW YOU. HAVE WE MET BEFORE?
GA: Im Not Sure
CG: WAIT, HOLY SHIT.
CG: WHAT THE FUCK.
CG: HOW COULD I EVER FORGET THAT PRISSY WAY OF ENUNCIATING EVERY FUCKING WORD.
CG: OH STUFF IT, KANAYA.
GA: Who Are You
CG: OH YES LET'S TRY THE GUESSING GAME AGAIN IT'S SO FUCKING ENTERTAINING.
CG: SERIOUSLY, IF I CAN REMEMBER YOUR STUCK-UP RAMBLING YOU CAN REMEMBER MY YELLING.
> Karkat: Be memorable.
CG: WELL CONGRATU-FUCKING-LATIONS YOU JUST WON THE GRAND PRIZE.
CG: COULD YOU GET OFF OF ME NOW?
GA: I Am Just Very Surprised
GA: Its Been So Long Since I Last Heard From You
CG: YEAH, I GUESS WE DIDN'T EVEN CHAT THAT MUCH THE SWEEP BEFORE WE ASCENDED.
GA: Its Good To Meet You In Person
GA: I Must Admit I Am Glad To See A Friendly Face
GA: Even If It Is Technically For The First Time
CG: WHAT THE FUCK ABOUT MY FACE IS FRIENDLY? I WILL HAVE YOU KNOW I AM A LEAN, MEAN, KILLING MACHINE, NO FRIENDLINESS INCLUDED. I AM NOBODY'S FRIEND.
GA: Karkat You Were Everyones Friend
GA: You Were Probably The Only One Of Our Group Who Actually Kept Tabs All Of Us
CG: WHATEVER. HOW THE FUCK ELSE WAS I SUPPOSED TO KEEP ALL YOU ASSHOLES FROM KILLING EACH OTHER?
CG: SPEAKING OF FACES, WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU GLOWING?
CG: I MEAN, I'VE NEVER MET YOU IN PERSON BEFORE BUT THAT'S NOT EXACTLY A NORMAL THING, IS IT?
GA: I Suppose It Isnt
GA: Karkat I Would Ask You To Try Not To Be Alarmed
GA: But I Believe That I Have Joined The Ranks Of The Undead
GA: I Mean That I Have Died Resurrected And Now Subsist On The Bodily Fluids Of Living Beings
CG: ARE YOU SAYING YOU'RE A RAINBOW-DRINKER?
GA: Yes That Is The Term I Believe
CG: OH DON'T TRY TO BE FUCKING SNEAKY, MARYAM, I KNOW YOU LOVED THOSE STUPID TRASHY NOVELS TO DEATH.
CG: OR UN-DEATH, I GUESS.
GA: They Werent Trashy
CG: WHATEVER, NOT THE POINT. WHEN IN THE FUCK DID YOU DIE?
GA: Quite Recently Actually
GA: I Am Not Sure Where To Begin
CG: HOW ABOUT AT THE BEGINNING.
You are now KANAYA MARYAM, and this is not a story you’ve much practice telling.
> Kanaya: Recall recent events.
GA: After Ascending I Joined The Ranks Of The Surgeonihilators
CG: WHOA, FUCK. I NEVER TOOK YOU FOR THE MEDIKILLER TYPE.
GA: I Always Wanted To Go Into A Medical Field And I Specialized At Amputations
GA: But Anyway
GA: I Was In A Unit Sent Ahead To Scout This Planet And Plan For A Preemptive Strike By The Fleet
GA: As You Have Seen The Environment Is Rather Quiet And Not Indicative Of The Presence Of Sentient Beings
CG: YEAH THIS IS PRETTY MUCH THE FUCKING STICKS.
GA: You Are Eloquent As Ever
CG: YOU WERE SAYING?
GA: Well Contrary To This Planets Appearances Its Population Was Actually Much More Resistant Than We First Imagined
GA: And Much More Dangerous
GA: We Had Thought A Standard Platoon Would Be Sufficient
GA: But We Were Vastly Outnumbered
GA: We Were Quickly Overwhelmed Until Most Of Us Had Either Fled Or Died
GA: I Was One Of The Latter Obviously
CG: FUCK, KANAYA. I'M SORRY.
GA: For What
CG: UH, MAYBE THE FACT THAT YOU FUCKING DIED?
CG: UNLESS EVERYONE HAS BEEN HOLDING OUT ON ME AND DEATH IS SOME FUCKING FIELD OF SUNSHINE AND RAINBOWS, IN WHICH CASE WHERE DO I FUCKING SIGN UP TO SHUFFLE OFF THE MORTAL COIL.
GA: While I Do Not Remember The Actual State Of Death Per Se
GA: I Would Not Exactly Recommend The Experience To Anyone
CG: DID IT HURT A LOT? I MEAN, WAS IT AT LEAST QUICK?
You remember bleeding out on the ground, surrounded by your dead comrades. You remember horrible, blinding pain, going on for what seemed like forever. You remember thinking about how this was it, the end, and at some point you realized that you were going to die alone and worlds away from anyone who might actually give a damn.
GA: It Was Quick
GA: I Barely Felt A Thing
CG: AND THEN?
GA: I Am Not Sure How Long I Was Dead But After A While I Simply
GA: Woke Up
GA: I Am Not Sure How Or Why But That Is What Happened
GA: And As I Said I Do Now Feed On Blood
GA: I Have Been Sustaining Myself On The Smaller Creatures Of This Planet
CG: THAT IS REALLY FUCKING CREEPY, KANAYA.
GA: Yes I Am Aware
GA: But I Suppose I Must Accept It
GA: Now That I Have Told You My Recent Troubles I Would Like You To Answer My Previous Questions
GA: Are You Here With The Fleet
GA: Did They Send Troops Out To Find My Lost Company
CG: NO. NOT THAT I KNOW OF, ANYWAY. I'M ALONE.
CG: I’M SORRY.
CG: I’M HERE BECAUSE…SHIT, I GUESS IT DOESN'T MATTER IF I TELL YOU, WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU GOING TO TELL?
CG: I RAN AWAY FROM THE FLEET TWO SWEEPS AGO.
CG: YEAH GASP IN SURPRISE WHY DON'T YOU, SLAM IN A SHOUT POLE WHILE YOU'RE AT IT.
GA: I Am Simply Intrigued As To Your Reasons
CG: IT'S A COMPLICATED STORY.
GA: Best To Start At The Beginning Then
CG: FUCK YOU TOO, MARYAM.
You are now KARKAT VANTAS, and you’ve thought this story through often enough that your tongue doesn’t trip over the parts which are lies.
> Karkat: Recall not-so-recent events.
CG: BACK WHEN WE ASCENDED, I WENT INTO BASIC THRESHECUTIONER TRAINING.
GA: Ah So You Too Fulfilled Your Ambition
CG: YEAH. YEAH I WAS PRETTY MUCH TOP OF MY CLASS IN EVERY WAY. I WAS THE BEST FUCKING THRESHECUTIONER-IN-TRAINING WHO EVER WAS.
You were not at the top of your class at all. You were far too paranoid about your mutant blood being spilled in training exercises to ever really stick your neck out. You got along fine passing yourself off as a rustblood, but it’s a miracle you got as far as you did.
CG: SO BECAUSE I WAS SO FUCKING EXCELLENT AT EVERYTHING, SOME OF THE HIGHBLOOD TRAINEES GOT THEIR HORNS ALL IN A TWIST.
CG: THOSE NOOK-WHIFFERS TRIED PRETTY MUCH EVERY SNEAKY BACKWARDS WAY POSSIBLE TO TAKE ME OUT, HIRING ASSASSINS AND EVERYTHING.
GA: Oh My
GA: How Many Hits Were Put Out On You Karkat
CG: ALL THE HITS, KANAYA.
CG: ALL OF THEM.
Some bluebloods did become suspicious of the fact that you weren’t eager to spill your blood all over the place like a goddamn sanguine slip ‘n’ slide, and of the fact that you never took off your goggles to reveal your newly-colored eyes. You knew that you wouldn’t be able to hide much longer, so you decided that it would be best to abscond stealthily, with as little fanfare as possible.
Of course, being the colossal fuck-up you are, you completely failed to be stealthy at all and ended up with half the crew after you miserable ass.
CG: I GOT INTO IT WITH ONE OF THOSE HIGHBLOODS AND APPARENTLY CULLING A HIGHBLOOD IS A PRETTY BIG DEAL, SO I HAD TO GET OUT OF THERE AFTER THAT.
GA: You Culled A Highblood
CG: FUCK YEAH I DID. I TOOK DOWN SO MANY BLUEBLOOD MOTHERFUCKERS THEY HAD TO JUST KEEP SENDING MORE AFTER ME. IT WAS LIKE A BLUEBERRY SEA OF BLOOD DOWN THERE, LET ME TELL YOU.
CG: YOU’RE GODDAMN RIGHT IT WAS IMPRESSIVE.
CG: I MOWED THROUGH ALL THOSE ASSHOLES AND GOT MYSELF RIGHT TO THE HANGAR WHERE I STOLE THIS SHIP AND OLLIED THE FUCK OUT.
GA: Did You Have Any Help In Achieving This Daring Escape
CG: …NO. I DID IT ALL MYSELF.
You still don’t know what happened to them after that.
GA: That Is An Incredible Story
CG: YEAH IT FUCKING IS.
GA: How Long Have You Been On The Run
CG: ABOUT TWO SWEEPS, I GUESS.
GA: Thats A Long Time
CG: YEAH, WELL, GOTTA KEEP ONE STEP AHEAD OF HER IMPERIAL FUCKFACE.
GA: Do You Regret It
GA: I Remember That You Always Dreamed Of Being A Threshecutioner
CG: IT DOESN’T MATTER. IF I DIDN’T GET OUT OF THERE I WOULD HAVE BEEN TOAST, BUTTERED UP AND SERVED IN EVERY MESS HALL IN THE FUCKING FLEET.
CG: AND THE CHEF WOULD SAY, “HERE LIES KARKAT VANTAS, REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, MAY HE REST IN BLOODY, BITE-SIZED PIECES.”
CG: WHAT ABOUT YOU?
GA: Free Of Censure I Must Say I Never Much Approved Of The Empires Practices In The First Place
GA: And I Admit That Being Abandoned And Killed For The Cause Of Its Expansion Has Left Me Less Than Enthusiastic About Continuing In Its Service
GA: If I Were To Somehow Find My Way Back To The Fleet
GA: Though That Seems Unlikely
CG: WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NOW?
GA: I Admit
GA: I Am Not Sure
> Karkat: Make a proposal.
CG: LOOK, KANAYA.
CG: WHY DON’T YOU…
CG: FUCK I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M DOING THIS.
CG: FUCK IT.
CG: YOU SHOULD COME WITH ME.
CG: IT’S NOT GOING TO EXACTLY BENEFIT ME TO BE CARRYING AROUND EXTRA UNDEAD WEIGHT OR ANYTHING, AND IT’S NOT LIKE I WANT COMPANY OR SOMETHING SAPPY LIKE THAT.
CG: I JUST FIGURE EVEN IF THE EMPIRE DID FIND YOU, THEY’D PROBABLY CULL YOU IN A HEARTBEAT.
CG: RAINBOW-DRINKERS DON’T EXACTLY MAKE GOOD SOLDIERS.
GA: I Suppose That Is True
CG: AND WITHOUT ANY WAY TO GET OFF THIS STUPID SHITBALL OF A PLANET, YOUR SITUATION IS PRETTY FUCKING DIRE AND PITIFUL.
CG: FUCK, I MEAN
CG: NOT LIKE THAT OR ANYTHING.
CG: IT’S JUST A ROTTEN FUCKING HAND YOU’VE BEEN DEALT, IS ALL.
GA: I Suppose That Is Also True
CG: IF YOU COME WITH ME, YOU TOO CAN KNOW THE PLEASURES OF RUNNING FOR YOUR FUCKING LIFE EVERY DAY AND NEVER KNOWING WHEN DEATH WILL KICK DOWN YOUR DOOR AND WALTZ IN TO SAY HELLO.
GA: Well When You Put It That Way
GA: What Choice Do I Have But To Accept
CG: WELL IF YOU WANT TO GET ON THE KARKAT VANTAS VAMPIRE ADVENTURE PARTY TRAIN, JUMP ON NOW BECAUSE WE ARE GETTING THE FUCK OFF OF THIS SHITTY PLANET.
GA: You Have Been Here Less Than An Hour
CG: YEAH AND I LIKE IT LESS EVERY MINUTE I SPEND HERE, LET’S FUCKING GO ALREADY.
> Karkat and Kanaya: Run.
GA: Well At Any Rate My Presence Can Only Benefit You
GA: For One Your Hair And Clothes Are In Desperate Need Of Attention That You Obviously Do Not Give Them
CG: FUCK YOU, MY HAIR IS FINE THE WAY IT IS.
CG: AND THIS IS A PROPER THRESHECUTIONER’S UNIFORM, FROM A LONG AND PROUD TRADITION OF BADASS WARRIORS.
GA: The Frayed Seams Speak To A Long And Proud Tradition Of You Not Washing It Properly
CG: FUCK, TWO SECONDS INTO YOU JOINING ME AND I ALREADY KNOW I’M GOING TO REGRET THIS.
You know you won’t.
Your name is KANAYA MARYAM and you are now well used to travelling with a companion.
You are currently standing in a gradually deteriorating space vehicle, which was STOLEN by your current cohort. Your blank and immortal gaze is fixed on a piece of paneling swinging haphazardly from the rusted wall in front of you. That is probably dangerous, you think. You don’t know- your shipmate handles most of the repairwork, although you profess yourself plenty capable. But no, it’s all “YOU KNOW YOUR TECHNICAL LIMITATIONS” and “STAND BACK THIS IS PROGRAMMER’S WORK” You remind the space he just occupied that he is the one whose coding blew apart half a housing block, and that you are an undead bloodsucking monster who does not abide by traditional workman's roles and also you are a foot taller than him so there.
Hang on, what’s that beeping?
You hear a shout from the lower deck.
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling grimAuxiliatrix [GA] --
CG: KANAYA CAN’T YOU DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT GODAWFUL SCREECHING BEFORE MY AUDITORY SPONGES CLOT INTO THE APPROXIMATE CONSISTENCY OF CLAMBEAST STEW.
GA: Yes Karkat Right Away
GA: I Am Now Going To Ignore The Matter Of Dire Need Indicated By Our Engine Beeping In Favor Of Your Comfort
CG: HA HA HA, REALLY FUCKING FUNNY.
CG: I DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU PICKED THAT SARCASM HORSESHIT UP, BUT I AM IN AWE OF YOUR CULTURAL AWARENESS, OKAY? FIND OUT WHAT IT IS, AND SHUT IT OFF.
GA: Oh We Seem To Be Receiving A Distress Signal Of Some Urgency
GA: Is It In Our Interest To Investigate
CG: WHEN IS IT EVER
You have been working with KARKAT VANTAS for long enough to know that, no matter what he says, he'll be ordering you both off to investigate within the half-hour. You're not certain how he survived for so long without you. The alien worlds you've visited together have not all been hospitable, and without you, he didn't have anyone to remind him of what it is to be a troll.
Thankfully Karkat doesn't have to worry about that anymore, because you're here to protect him. Not that you have a crush or anything. He's merely a good friend and obviously deeply disturbed and also the only troll you've ever met who's open to keeping company with a RAINBOW DRINKER. That is all there is to say on the matter.
> Kanaya: Brace yourself.
You steel yourself for the shaking and banging that inevitably accompanies the landing in your humble craft.Kanaya and Karkat: Disembark and investigate.
An abandoned complex, from the look of it. Hardly what you had expected from the nature of the distress signal.
CG: WELL THIS LOOKS LIKE AN EASY ONE! A QUICK TOUR AROUND THE PLACE AND ANOTHER CASE SUCCESSFULLY SOLVED. WOW WE WILL BE DONE IN NO TIME.
GA: Karkat I See You Are Becoming More Culturally Sensitive As Well
CG: BUT SERIOUSLY HOW ARE WE GOING TO FIGURE THIS OUT, WE HAVE NO LEADS AND NO WAY OF OBTAINING THEM.
GA: Hush I Will Show You The Way
GA: Spoiler Alert Dear The Way Is Down This Convenient Hatch
Wait you just called Karkat "Dear" why did you do that you absolutely did not mean to do that
> Kanaya: Enter.
You hop down the convenient hatch.
CG: HUH. LOOKS LIKE SOME KIND OF OFFICE BUILDING. A REALLY SHITTY OFFICE BUILDING.
You both mutely open the most available portal, entering a small control room. It’s fairly sterile, and frankly, kind of boring. After some adventure, your views on what is properly termed “exciting” have shifted dramatically.
CG: AS MUCH AS YOU KNOW I TRUST YOU AND YOUR JUDGEMENT WHICH HAS CERTAINLY NOT LANDED US IN ANY PREDICAMENTS LABELED "CUTE AND FUN" IN YOUR THINKPAN BUT ARE LABELED "TERRIBLE WHAT THE STINKING BULGEFUCK WERE YOU THINKING KANAYA" IN MINE
CG: WELL WHAT THAT WAS LEADING TO WAS WHAT THE SHIT ARE WE DOING HERE.
GA: Weve Hardly Landed Karkat
GA: Allow Some Time For The Eldritch Monstrosities To Peel Themselves From The Woodwork And While We Wait For Their Glorious Cacophony To Begin There Is Exploring And Saving To Do I Expect
You push open the next, most obvious door. Lights flicker on, casting a pale florescent glow on a row of Alternian-designed machinery. Encased in an ominous goop are what appear to be vaguely troll-shaped blobs.
The reminder of Alternia nearly makes you nauseous. They're not supposed to be out here. What could they be trying to keep secret, this far into unclassified territory?
You venture closer, in order to peer more intently at the blobs.
The immortal face of Troll Will Smith peers back.
CG: OKAY OKAY WE NEED TO KEEP MOVING
CG: WATCHING MY CHILDHOOD FAITH BEING STUCK IN THE HEART WITH A RUSTY SWORD, GETTING TROLL TETANUS, EXPERIENCING SPASMS AND CONVOLUTIONS AND FINALLY AFTER SWEEPS OF SUFFERING A PAINFUL DEATH IS NOT THE OBJECTIVE HERE
CG: OH AND ALSO NO ONE GOES TO THE FUNERAL
GA: Karkat You Only Communicate With Incomprehensible Metaphors When You Are Upset
GA: Or I Guess Any Other Time Because You Use Them A Lot But My Point Is That You Are Upset
CG: NO I’M NOT WHY WOULDN’T I BE PERFECTLY FINE AND A FINE EXAMPLE OF A LEADER LIKE I AM BASICALLY ALL THE TIME????
GA: You Are About To Cry Karkat
CG: LATER. WE CAN TALK LATER.
CG: DO YOU UNDERSTAND ANY PART OF WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE OTHER THAN THE OBVIOUS WHICH IS THAT EVERYTHING I HAVE EVER KNOWN HAS BEEN A LIE.
GA: There Is No Pressing Need For Melodrama Karkat And Yes I Can Grasp Some Of It
GA: We Seem To Be In A Sort Of Abandoned Area Or Perhaps Planet Dedicated To The Production Of Cinematic Marvels By A Slightly Unorthodox Means As Is Exhibited Here
CG: WHAT IS THAT BEEPING NOISE YOU KNOW ABOUT ME AND THE BEEPING.
GA: Oh It Seems Something Is Happening
CG: YEAH I WAS GOING TO ASK WHY YOU’RE CARRYING THAT USELESS PIECE OF SPACE JUNK AROUND.
GA: Karkat Please This Is Very Useful Space Junk And You Have Now Gotten On Its Bad Side Of Which It Has Six
GA: Sides I Mean And In Fact
CG: KANAYA YOU’RE RAMBLING
GA: Oh Yeah Thanks
GA: Its A Distress Signal Locater I Mended With Love And Kisses And Also Meddling
That’ll show him to distrust your technological abilities.
CG: SO LET’S USE IT OKAY??
> Kanaya: Activate.
You follow the Distress Signal Locater and its increasingly urgent pulses and tics through the chilled, nebulous hallways. The temperature is much cooler than what you are accustomed to, and you catch yourself shivering on more than one occasion.
Karkat is trying to give a show of strength, trying to prove how he is the very best leader there ever was but you feel him clutch your glowing hand every few minutes as the already-dim lights flicker. At a different time, under different circumstances, you two could have been sporting matching scarves, he wearing his only half-grudgingly, during another watch-through of Fifty First Dates. He mumbles his pale confession using the same practiced lines you are bashfully mouthing. It is Troll Serendipity. It is perfect.
You walk into a door.
CG: OH MY GOD ARE YOU WERE NIGHTDREAMING AGAIN WEREN’T YOU.
GA: No I Was Just
GA: Not Important
CG: ...OKAY. WHATEVER YOU SAY.
If you had a crush, you would really need to get that under control right now.
You shove open the door and stare. Bags and bags of mail. Fanmail. Sacks are color-coded and arranged by hemospectum. Seadweller bags are at the forefront of the room and are almost empty, with open envelopes strewn about them. Indigo and blue bags follow, missing less of their mail. Less read, less responded to with an autograph or something equally as worthless. The greenbloods and yellowbloods follow, five sacks with some read. The rustblood bags are missing a few letters from the top. Finally, two bulging, unopened sacks are marked with a grey question mark. Whoever wrote these wrote more than all seadweller mailers combined. And you think you know who that author is.
Your friend is paralyzed, one hand stuck to the door. You are solemn as you walk to the unopened bags.
He'll trust you, you know it. You’ve been through enough together.
You gingerly pull the bag open and fish a hand inside.
> Kanaya: Read letter.
You locate a tattered old letter, written in a childish script.
DEAR TROLL WILL SMITH,
HI IF YOU HAVEN’T HEARD OF ME, MY NAME IS KARKAT AND YOU ARE MY FAVORITE ACTOR IN THE HISTORY OF FOREVER, PERIOD. I WANT TO BE JUST LIKE YOU WHEN I GROW UP. MY LUSUS THINKS THAT THERE IS NO CHANCE I CAN BE A GREAT THRESECUTIONER LIKE YOU IN THRESH PRINCE BUT I KNOW THAT HE’S WRONG BECAUSE MY SCHOOLFEEDER TOLD ME THAT I CAN DO ANYTHING THAT I SET MY MIND TO IF MY BLOOD COLOR IS OK. AND I REALLY LIKE MY BLOOD COLOR AND MY LUSUS THINKS THAT IT’S PRETTY SO I SHOULD BE SET! MAYBE I WILL MEET YOU SOME DAY. I PROMISE THAT WHEN WE MEET
> Kanaya: Read more.
DEAR TROLL WILL SMITH,
I’VE BEEN WRITING TO OTHER ACTORS BUT BECAUSE YOU’RE MY FAVORITE EVER YOU GET MOST OF MY MAIL! THERE’S SOMETHING YOU CAN USE TO TAUNT TROLL ADAM SANDLER WITH NEXT TIME YOU SEE HIM. I BET YOU HANG OUT ALL THE TIME AND HAVE LIKE SECRET HANDSHAKES OR SOMETHING FUCKING STUPID LIKE THAT BUT IT WOULDN’T BE STUPID BECAUSE YOU’RE TROLL WILL SMITH.
DEAR TROLL WILL SMITH,
I STILL HAVEN’T HEARD BACK FROM YOU, BUT MY FRIEND SAYS SHE GOT AN AUTOGRAPH SO I’LL KEEP WRITING.
DEAR TROLL WILL SMITH,
I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO MY LIFE IS A WRECK MY BLOOD IS IN THE WAY OF ANYTHING I HAVE EVER WANTED TO BE AND EVEN BEFORE THAT I AM A FAILURE, DESTINED TO NEVER WIN AND I GUESS I HAVE TO START TO ACCEPT THAT. I AM GOING TO LET EVERYONE I HAVE EVERY CARED FOR DOWN AND I AM GOING TO DO IT WITHOUT AN OUNCE OF STYLE. FUCK, YOU KNOW, IT KIND OF FEELS GOOD TO BE RESIGNED TO THAT. IT FEELS NICE.
DEAR TROLL WILL SMITH,
PLEASE WRITE BACK PLEASE WRITE BACK PLEASE
> Kanaya: Look up.
You’re getting him out of here.
> Kanaya: Return to ship.
CG: …AND THAT’S HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE ALPHABET GRUBSOUP.
GA: That Was Very Amusing Karkat
GA: May I Suggest We Get Out Of Here Some Mysteries Are Best Left Untouched
CG: OH, DID WE EVER FIGURE OUT WHERE THAT DISTRESS SIGNAL WAS COMING FROM?
GA: I May Have Triggered It Somewhat
CG: ...KANAYA, WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT YOU AND TECHNOLOGY.
GA: I Dont Understand I Was Simply Glaring At A Wall Panel With The Usual Intensity When The Ringing Began
CH: NO I DEFINITELY WARNED YOU.
CG: I WARNED YOU ABOUT STARES.
GA: Is It A Possibility That Fate And I Indirectly Caused The Signal In Order For You To More Competently Navigate The Unlimited Breadth And Complexity Of Your Emotional Tundra
CG: OH SHUT UP.
Maybe he'll talk it over with you, next time.
You hope so.
Somewhere in the sea of stars, a old witch cards her tentacles through the flesh of ripe young systems. Schools of archeradicator gunships dart between the asteroid belts, and every now and then, a majestic royall carrier will glide by, scanning for the scent of blood. The people of a hundred thousand worlds have learned to fear the sight of Alternian spacecraft. There are many who will dash themselves to death on the reefs at the mere sight of a blunt-nosed prow. They are correct to assume that death is the only mercy that the Empire will ever afford them.
But you don’t need to be concerned about that.
Your name is KANAYA MARYAM, and you have sailed very far from the shores where you were hatched.
Kanaya: Observe hivemate.
Your HIVEMATE has been travelling for even longer than you. You wonder if that’s why he’s so set on trying to keep this rust-buggy presentable. Maybe he doesn’t remember what it was like to live in cold, sterile barracks, where the military janiterrors lived in mortal fear of chipped paint.
It would certainly be easier for him to stay tidy if you didn’t drag so much FASHIONABLE DETRITUS into his nice plain sitting block.
You don’t ask Karkat why he hasn’t tried to evict you yet, and in turn, he doesn’t ask you why you stay. Asking would mean having answers, and what need is there for those? Your association is built upon a solid foundation of ribbing, nagging, and rhetorical inquiries. There are plenty of things for both of you to talk about that don’t make your digestion sac clench.
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began nagging grimAuxiliatrix [GA] --
GA: Youre Going To Have To Give Me Some Context Im Afraid
GA: You Know I Dont Infer Well Before Breakfast
GA: Like How Some People Cant Function Before They’ve Imbimbed A Caffienated Infusion
GA: Except My Caffienated Infusion Is Blood
GA: And Its Neither Caffienated Nor Infused
CG: … AHA, YEAH.
CG: YOU KEEP WORKING ON THAT CAFFIENATED INFUSION JOKE.
CG: ANYWAY WHAT IS THIS HIDEOUS LEAVING ON OUR SITTINGBLOCK FLOOR?
CG: DID YOU FIND A BEREAVED SERPENT LUSUS BY A ROADSIDE?
CG: DID IT LOOK AT YOU WITH BIG IMPLORING EYES?
CG: DID YOU THEN TAKE IT TO A CLUCKBEAST FARM, SO IT COULD FEAST ON THE FRESH MEAT AND AFTERWARDS BRING IT BACK HERE TO SHIT ALL OVER MY CLEAN SITTINGBLOCK FLOOR?
CG: WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT TO ME, KANAYA?
CG: IS THIS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR HAIRDRYER?
CG: BECAUSE PAST ME ALREADY SAID THAT HE WAS SORRY
CG: AND FRANKLY I DON’T THINK I SHOULD HAVE TO APOLOGIZE FOR THE WAY THAT DOUCHEWAGON GUZZLES DOWN FAILURE LIKE A DEATHSPORTS UTILITY VEHICLE AT THE FOSSILIZED FUELLING STATION.
GA: No Karkat Thats Fashion
GA: I Believe It Belonged To One Of My Acquaintances From The Casino Planet
GA: They Certainly Did Like Feathers There
GA: In Addition To The Advertised Toplessness
CG: OH MY GOD I FUCKING KNEW IT. IT’S ALWAYS THE CASINO PLANETS. YOU STUFF ME INTO MY FUCKING WINGMAN SUIT AND THEN WE’RE ON AN EIGHT-SPAN TRIP TO BITCH CITY.
CG: WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU ABOUT BRINGING YOUR SPACE FLOOZIES BACK TO THE SHIP.
CG: WE HAVE TALKED ABOUT THIS.
CG: IT’S GOT TO STOP.
CG: NO ONE IS GOING TO BE ABLE TO HELP YOU WHEN YOU COME DOWN WITH SPACE HERPES.
CG: YOUR HORNS WILL WILT AND YOUR SKIN WILL DIM AND HERE I’LL BE
CG: WITH NOTHING TO TREAT YOU WITH BUT PANIC AND CLUCKBEAST SOUP
CG: AND YOU DON’T EAT CLUCKBEAST SOUP.
GA: You Know Karkat They Say That The Best Way To Conquer Your Fears Is To Face Them Down
GA: Im Certain That Bartender With The Tusks Was Interested
GA; He Was Very Set On Performing That Jig For You
GA: Are You Saving Yourself For Troll Sandra Bullock
CG: OH, FUCK OFF.
You don’t miss the way Karkat flinches before he turns back to his cleaning. This, too, is something you shouldn’t ask about. Karkat’s intimacy issues fall firmly within the realm of things that are none of your business. A good PLATONIC MEDDLEFRIEND should only go so far.
Except you can’t help being concerned, occasionally.
You never were very good at drawing the line when you meddled.
CG: HOLY FUCK THIS IS EVEN WORSE.
CG: GO GET THE BLEACH KANAYA.
CG: GET THE BLEACH AND FOR THE LOVE OF THE MOTHER GRUB, NEVER TELL ME WHAT FILTHY, ENCRUSTED ALIEN ORIFICE THIS SLIME MOLD DRIPPED OUT OF ON ITS JOURNEY UP FROM HELL.
CG: THAT IS THE FINAL ORDER FROM YOUR CAPTAIN.
CG: I AM GOING TO CLEAN THIS UP AND THEN I AM GOING TO SCOOP OUT MY MEMORY NODULE WITH A RUSTY DESERT SPOON.
CG: GOODBYE UNIVERSE.
CG: HAVE A NICE ETERNITY WITHOUT ME.
CG: I’D SAY THANKS FOR FUCKING ME OVER ALL THESE YEARS, BUT YOU NEVER EVEN OFFERED A REACH AROUND, YOU CLASSLESS PIECE OF SHIT.
> Kanaya: Intervene.
GA: Honestly Karkat What Do You Think I Get Up To In The Public Sitting Block
GA: This Is Only An Old Lipstick That Someone Stepped On
GA: Calm Down And Give That To Me Before You Hurt Yourself
> Kanaya: Demontrate.
GA: Its Not A Bad Shade On You
GA: Would You Like To Reconsider Highlights
CG: HOLY FUCK, KANAYA.
CG: I NEARLY HAD A VASCULAR SEIZURE.
CG: WHY ARE YOU SHEDDING DANGEROUS WEAPONS AROUND THE PUBLIC SITTING BLOCK.
CG: I COULD HAVE SLICED MY LIPS OFF.
GA: I Regret That I Forgot To Put Away My Lipstick
GA: However I Must Insist That Theres Nothing Dangerous About Leaving Things In My Own Fabric Pile
GA: You Wouldn’t Have These Vision Problems
GA: If You Didn’t Wear Tinted Goggled Indoors All The Time
GA: I Mean The Lighting In Here Is Subpar You Could Be Giving Yourself Eyestrain
GA: And You Know How Cranky You Get When Your Head Aches
Suddenly, the air circulation fans seem to be working ten times louder; your CARELESS STATEMENTS have sucked all of the other life out of the room.
Now you’ve gone and done it. You’ve gone and crossed that meddling line. Why can you never, ever stop yourself? You already understood the source of his reluctance to share his blood colour with you.
You suppose you’d hoped he might have come to TRUST you by now, though you know he’s more than justified in remaining suspicious.
> Kanaya: Backpedal.
GA: That Is To Say I Wont Ask You To Do Anything That Makes You Feel Uncomfortable
GA: So If Youre More Comfortable With The Goggles On Thats Fine
GA: I Didnt Mean
GA: I Mean
CG: FUCK. IT’S FINE, OKAY? DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT.
CG: I KNOW YOU LIKE WORRYING BUT CUT IT OUT.
CG: SURGICALLY REMOVE THAT TUMOR FROM YOUR THINKPAN AND THROW IT INTO THE NEAREST BIOHAZARD RECEPTABLE.
GA: If Thats An Order Then Alright
GA: But If You Should Know
GA: There Isnt A Blood Colour Thats More Delicious Than The Rest
GA: Rainbow Drinking Doesnt Work Like That
GA: I Admit That When I First Awoke Unto My Power It Was Difficult To Control My Terrible Bright Hunger
GA: As I Was Banished To the Daytime
GA: Crushed Into The Space Between Shadows Like A Prisoner Of The Cruel Dawn
GA: But Im Better Now I Wouldnt Be Tempted to Harm Someone I Consider A Friend
CG: I SAID DON’T WORRY IT’S NOT
CG: FUCK I AM THE WORST AT FUCKING SAYING THINGS
CG: STUPID FUCKING NUBBY TEETH CLACKING TOGETHER LIKE HORRORTERROR BEAKS, PRODUCING A MIND-HEMORHAGGING MORSE CODE OF POOR COMMUNICATION.
GA: And If You Were A Rust Blood
GA: That Would Be Fine Hemochromatically Speaking
GA: I Would Be Fine With It
GA: Id Merely Request That You Tell Me Right Away About Feeling Run-Down Or Faint
GA: If You Were A Rust Blood
GA: Because At Any Moment You Might
CG: THIS ISN’T ABOUT ANY DULL FUCKING VEINSLUDGE
GA: Of Course Not
CG: IT’S NOT THAT I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT ANY OF THIS.
CG: I JUST CAN’T.
CG: TALKING ABOUT IT WOULD ONLY MAKE THINGS WORSE FOR YOU.
CG: FUCK, I’M SO SORRY.
GA: No Don’t
GA: Theres No Need For You To Make That Kind Of Proclamation
GA: Im The One Who Should Be Offering An Apology
GA: It Wouldnt Be At All Pleasant To Hear About The Feeling Of Being A Rainbow Drinker
CG: SHIT, IS IT MIDNIGHT ALREADY?
CG: WOW, LOOK, KARKAT’S FUCKED UP AT KEEPING TO SCHEDULE YET AGAIN.
CG: WHAT A SHOCKER.
CG: I NEED TO CHECK OUR COURSE AND MAKE SURE WE’RE NOT HEADED ENGINE-FIRST INTO A BLACK HOLE.
CG: SO I’LL GO DO THAT.
> Kanaya: Remain calm.
You do not watch your hivemate abscond. Instead, you fix your eyes on bolts of bright cloth, while your digestive tract ties itself into a coagulated knot. You know this feeling all too well. Longing comes in many guises, but it never, ever fails to make you nauseous.
Next planet, you swear that you’ll try harder. You’ll be trustworthy, pacified, and not at all threatening. You’ll swaddle him in a half-dozen scarves to keep him from dreaming that you would ever size up his neck.
So long as there’s always a next planet, you can afford to stay patient.
> Kanaya: Contemplate view.
It would seem that your intrepid outer space exploration vessel has emerged in a small star system. You have already skirted around the erstwhile sun, and you can see several planets in your relatively close vicinity.
Now you’d like to know if any of them are inhabited. Or, perhaps more pressingly, whether any of them have somewhere you could set down and go shopping.
What about that grey one? That looks promising.
> Kanaya: Inform Karkat.
-- grimAuxiliatrix [GA] called carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
GA: Karkat Can You Come In Here Please
CG: WHAT IS IT?
GA: I Have Selected A Destination To Make A Visitation To
GA: I Have Just Completed A Scan Of The Atmosphere And My Data Indicates That It Has Been Terraformed
GA: It Is Likely To Be Inhabited By Intelligent Beings
CG: FUCKING FINALLY. WE'RE ALL OUT OF SNACK FOOD.
GA: Yes Well You Ought To Prepare To Disembark In Perhaps One Hour
GA: Oh And Karkat
GA: You Really Are In Somewhat Desperate Need Of A Haircut
> Karkat and Kanaya: Explore strange world.
Or perhaps not so strange. In fact, the landscape is eerily familiar...
GA: I Am Inclined To Agree With Your Statement
GA: Wow Indeed
CG: NEVER THOUGHT I'D SEE BUILDINGS LIKE THIS AGAIN.
GA: It Is Disconcertingly Similar
GA: If I Was Not Possessed Of Superior Foreknowledge I Would Almost Swear
> Karkat and Kanaya: Continue exploration.
You continue down the road, which is paved with something oddly pliant and sort of purple that neither of you recognize. Though the hives on either side of you seem to continue ad infinitum,and the lights in many of them seem to be on, there is not a soul in sight.
CG: I THOUGHT YOU SAID THIS PLACE WAS INHABITED.
GA: It Is Inhabited We Have Just Established That There Are Hives On This Avenue And The Air Is Breathable To Our Respiratory System
CG: OBVIOUSLY. I JUST WISH I KNEW WHY IT'S SO FUCKING QUIET.
GA: Yes I Am Quite With You On That Matter I Wonder If Perhaps We Have Merely Come Too Late At Night To Encounter Any Of The Denizens Of This Planet
GA: Perhaps They Are Simply Not Nocturnal Creatures
CG: IT MIGHT BE HARD TO BUY FOOD FROM PEOPLE WHO WON'T SHOW THEIR FACES.
GA: That May Be A Challenge
GA: Perhaps We Could Return To Our Ship For The Night And See What The Atmosphere Is Like In The Morning
GA: Did You Say Something
A noise somewhere just behind Karkat startles you from your conversation.
GA: Karkat Did You Hear That
> Kanaya: Realize that you are not alone.
You glance around you quickly, picking up not for the first time during your explorations so far a flicker of red light somewhere behind you. And to the sides of you. And in front of you. And above you. A quick inspection of your surroundings, which you have been somewhat unwisely paying little heed to, perhaps lulled into a false sense of security by their familiarity to your home planet, reveals that you are most certainly not the only lifeforms awake on this particular street at the moment.
GA: Karkat Look Around You Slowly And Please Try Not To Panic
CG: WELL FUCK THAT IS JUST INCREDIBLY REASSURING, KANAYA. THOSE ARE EXACTLY THE WORDS I WANTED TO HEAR. HOW DID YOU GUESS? PLEASE TRY NOT TO PANIC IS BASICALLY LIKE SAYING “YOU'RE GOING TO BE PANICKING IN A MINUTE JUST A HEADS UP HAVE FUN WITH THAT”, YOU DO KNOW THAT RIGHT? I THOUGHT YOU SAID YOU SCANNED THIS STUPID FUCKING PLANET BEFORE DECIDING IT LOOKED LIKE A GOOD PIT STOP.
CG: I THINK I'M GOING TO CLOSE MY EYES NOW AND HOPE WHATEVER MESS YOU'VE GOTTEN US INTO ISN'T FUCKING LETHAL.
CG: WHAT NOW?
GA: Karkat Shut Up Please
> Karkat and Kanaya: Realize that you are not prepared.
You are surrounded. You are surrounded and you are defenceless.
CG: IF WE DIE HERE ON SOME SHITTY PIECE OF SPACE ROCK AFTER ALL WE'VE GONE THROUGH TO KEEP FROM DOING EXACTLY THAT I AM GOING TO BE SO FUCKING ANGRY.
GA: In All Likelihood You Will Be Dead Actually And Therefore Entirely Devoid Of All Emotions
CG: SAYS THE DEAD GIRL.
GA: Undead Thank You Very Much
The creatures begin to descend on you, a hideous mass of sabre-like fangs and claws and grotesque alien bodies pouring in from all angles at once. There goes your theory of this world's inhabitants not being nocturnal. You get a good look at one of the creatures, discovering that they seem to be some twisted amalgamation of furbeast and giant stinging insect, their fangs dripping with thick saliva, claws stained a rusty brown, barbed tails arching over their bodies ominously. You fear it may be too late to properly mount a defence against them.
> Karkat: Be attacked.
You do not have time to resist. You do not have time to run. You have time only to call out.
Two of the beasts overtake you at once. You kick one of them away, but are pinned to the ground by the claws of the other. Your downed position attracts two more of the creatures, and you feel the warm trickle of blood spreading across your abdomen as one of them slices through your uniform with a razor sharp claw.
You're dead meat now, whether or not Kanaya reappears. You can't see her from where you are, and in a way you hope she has abandoned you. You continue to make attempts at fighting the creatures off, with little success.
> Kanaya: Reunite with an old friend.
You search the pockets of your Surgeonihilator's uniform and Alternian military napsack somewhat frantically, ignoring stashed currency, foodstuffs, a scarf or two, and any assortment of odds and ends in a desperate hope for something you can use to fend the beasts off and save Karkat.
Ah. There we are.
Any lady worth her salt wouldn't be caught dead out of the ship without her lipstick. As it happens, you very nearly almost were.
You dispatch the EXTRATERRESTRIAL BEASTIES in a manner much too gruesome to grace with a portrayal. Needless to say it is quite bloody, and they are quite dead once the affair is over.
Now, it is time to retrieve your fallen comrade, who is hopefully either of the above. More are likely to be on their way soon, and you cannot risk him being injured.
> Kanaya: Check on Karkat.
GA: Are You Alright
CG: I'M FUCKING FANTASTIC. LET'S GET OUT OF HERE BEFORE ANY MORE OF THEM SHOW UP, OKAY?
> Karkat and Kanaya: Abscond.
You manage to escape only narrowly, the hull door slamming shut just before being slammed by the eager bodies of several ravenous beasts. Once again, you've cheated death. You breathe a sigh of relief, and turn to share the moment with Karkat.
GA: Karkat Where Have You Gone
> Kanaya: Locate Karkat.
Not in the ship’s mess.
Not in his respiteblock.
Where could that boy have gotten to?
Ah. The red light there indicates that someone has locked himself inside the Sick Bay.
You wonder who that could possibly be.
> Kanaya: Request entry to Sick Bay.
It is time to put your skills to use, no matter how stubborn the patient may be.
GA: Karkat Please Open This Door I Would Like To Be Of Assistance
GA: Assuming That You Have Indeed Been Injured
GA: And Have Not Simply Decided To Be A Sullen Grub And Pout For No Readily Apparent Purpose Instead Of Celebrating Our Recent Shared Narrow Escape From Being Brutally Culled By Alien Beasts
GA: Which Seems Unlikely
GA: Karkat Please
He really can be petulant.
GA: Karkat Will You At Least Honour Me With A Proper Refusal
GA: This Is Incredibly Juvenile
> Karkat: Refuse compliance.
CG: GO AWAY.
GA: Ah Good At Least I Know Now That You Have Yet To Let Yourself Die
CG: I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF.
GA: And I Can Help
CG: NO YOU CAN'T. FUCK OFF.
GA: Karkat I Dont Know If You Recall But I Am Actually A Trained Medical Professional In Addition To Being Your Friend And As Such I Believe I Am In Fact Quite Suited To The Prospect
CG: FUCK. OFF.
GA: I Am Going To Stand Here Until You Let Me In
GA: I Refuse To Go Anywhere Until I Am Assured Of Your Wellbeing
GA: And You Cease Being A Petulant Grub
CG: GOOD. STAND THERE UNTIL YOU DIE AGAIN. I DON'T ACTUALLY GIVE A SHIT.
GA: You Dont Mean That
> Karkat: Have a change of heart. Accept your imminent demise. Let the girl in.
CG: IT'S UNLOCKED NOW.
GA: Thank You
> Kanaya: Express concern.
GA: Karkat Are You Alright
CG: YEAH. I'M FINE. JUST DECIDED THAT HEY, YOU KNOW WHAT? THE DECOR IN THE SICK BAY LOOKS REALLY NICE. I THINK I'M GOING TO GO HANG OUT IN THERE. YOU KNOW, FOR FUN.
GA: Did Any Of The Beasts Catch You With Their Stinger Tails
CG: I DON'T THINK SO.
GA: Are You Bleeding
GA: Karkat It Would Be Best For Your Treatment If I Knew What Was Wrong In The First Place
GA: It Is Not A Difficult Question Karkat
GA: Are You Bleeding
> Karkat: Be honest. Anticipate the worst.
You should have known this was going to happen some day. No one can outrun their genetics forever, even you.
CG: YOU ARE GOING TO HATE ME. JUST A WARNING. YOU ARE GOING TO HATE ME, AND NOT IN ANY FUN KIND OF WAY EITHER.
GA: What Are You Talking About
CG: JUST DO IT FAST, OKAY?
GA: Im Lost
GA: What Are We Doing
GA: Karkat Please Youre Speaking In Tongues
CG: WE'RE SOLVING A PROBLEM THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN CORRECTED SWEEPS AGO, THAT'S WHAT WE'RE DOING.
CG: ERASING A MISTAKE THAT SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN MADE.
CG: I GUESS I'M GLAD YOU'RE GOING TO BE THE ONE TO DO IT AFTER ALL THIS.
CG: I JUST WISH I DIDN'T HAVE TO DIE KNOWING YOU HATED ME.
GA: Karkat Youre Worrying Me
GA: I Have No Idea What Youre Talking About And Moreover I Dont Hate You
GA: I Am Actually Quite Fond Of You
GA: You Also Never Answered My Question
GA: And You Cant Know How Sick I Am Of Having My Feelings Ignored By People Who
GA: I Mean
GA: Id Be So Angry If You Didnt Make Me Feel
CG: SO. YEAH. I'VE LIED TO YOU AND LITERALLY EVERYONE I'VE EVER KNOWN FOR MY ENTIRE MISERABLE FUCKING LIFE. I'M A FREAK, AND I'M A LIAR, AND YOU ARE MORE THAN WELCOME TO RESENT ME NOW. IN FACT, I WOULD NOT BLAME YOU FOR THROWING ME OFF OF THIS VESSEL IMMEDIATELY.
CG: FEAST YOUR EYES, BECAUSE YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO SEE ANYONE BLEEDING THIS MISERABLE COLOUR AGAIN.
CG: SO NOW YOU KNOW.
CG: YOU KNOW WHY I HAD TO GET OUT OF THE MILITARY AND YOU KNOW WHY I ALWAYS USED GREY TEXT WHEN WE WERE KIDS.
CG: SORRY I LIED TO YOU. OR OMITTED THE TRUTH. WHATEVER.I'M NOT RUNNING ANYMORE. AND I CAN'T REALLY. I MEAN IT'S DEATH IN HERE AT YOUR HANDS, OR I GET RIPPED TO SHREDS BY THOSE BEASTS OUT THERE.
CG: I'M A FREAK. A MUTANT. MY ASSHOLE PAST SELF SHOULD HAVE BEEN CULLED SWEEPS AGO. SO JUST... DO IT. OKAY?
CG: KANAYA, PLEASE SAY SOMETHING.
> Kanaya: React.
You know what you want to tell him, but even after all this, you still can't be the one to say it first. You're so weak.
GA: Do You Really Think I Want To Cull You
GA: Karkat You Remain The Same Troll No Matter What Blood You Have In Your Veins
GA: Highblood Or Lowblood Or Otherwise You Are My Friend And I Have No Desire To Hurt You
GA: Karkat Let Me Tell You A Story And Promise Me You Will Listen To Me
GA: As A Wriggler I Always Dreamed Of Creating Beautiful Things
But As I Grew I Found There Was No Place For Beauty In Alternian Society
GA: So When It Came Time For Me To Join The Military As All Trolls Do I Chose The Path Of A Surgeonihilator In The Hopes I Could At Least Help People See What Little Beauty There Was In Life And In Living It
GA: But Even That Effort Failed
GA: I Desired Only To Help People Karkat And I Believed As A Surgeonihilator I Could Fulfill That Desire
GA: Yet I Have Culled More Injured Trolls With Healers Hands Than I Would Have Had I Been Armed And Sent Into Combat Directly
GA: So Let Me Help You
GA: It Is The Least I Can Do To Redeem Myself
> Karkat: Let her help you.
GA: Yes Karkat
CG: THANK YOU.
GA: No Thank You
CG: WHAT THE FUCK FOR? I'VE PRETTY MUCH JUST GOTTEN MYSELF IN TROUBLE, LIED TO YOU FOR OUR WHOLE LIVES, GOTTEN YOU IN DANGER BY BEING WITH ME, AND GENERALLY JUST BEEN A COMPLETE FUCKASS AND A TERRIBLE WASTE OF A TROLL. YOU JUST SAVED MY WORTHLESS FUCKING LIFE, AND I NEVER GIVE YOU ANYTHING. WHAT the FUCK DO YOU HAVE TO BE THANKING ME?
GA: For Finally Letting Yourself Trust Me
GA: For Finally Letting Me Care For You
GA: You Dont Have To Be Strong All The Time You Know
CG: OH ALRIGHT JUST SHUT UP BEFORE I BLEED ALL OVER YOUR DUMB HANDS.
GA: You Do Realise Youve Already Done That Quite Profusely
CG: SHUT UP.
GA: Only If You Stop Squirming
CG: REALLY THOUGH
GA: Yes I Know Youve Already Thanked Me Once Is Quite Satisfactory
GA: What Else Are Friends For But Patching You Up When Youve Broken Down
> Fugitive: Enter name.
Are you fucking kidding? You’re a man on the run. AWOL. A deserter. No way are you entering your real name so that some asshuffing nooklicker from Military Intelligenocide can—
No, it’s too late for an alias.
Your name is KARKAT VANTAS, and you’ve reached the end of the line.
You’ve spent longer than you care to think about avoiding the ALTERNIAN EMPIRE. You skipped from planet to planet, spiraling outward along the edges of the galaxy, until you finally reached the still, dark places that are as of yet UNNAMED, UNIDENTIFIED, and UNCONQUERED.
But you know they won’t stay that way for much longer.
You never really had a plan. You were never arrogant enough to think that you’d live long enough to need one. You only did what you could to survive day by day.
Most of the time that meant getting your ass away from any planet that the Empire turned its attentions to, and fending off stray ALTERNIANS who happened to see you and your MUTANT-BLOODED ass, be they THRESHECUTIONERS, CAVALREAPERS, LAUGHSASSINS, or RUFFIANNIHILATORS. You looked your dreams straight in the eye and raised you weapon against them.
Until you finally took a wrong turn and stumbled into a full-on IMPERIAL OFFENSIVE.
Fuck. Since when are you some maudlin horngazer, vomiting your apprehension all over the landscape like an amateur slam poet on a murder bender?
Fuck your life in whatever orifices it will offer.
Because you know what? You give zero shits. The amount of shits you give has been divided by a negative number and is corkscrewing off into mathematical impossibility.
If you’re going to die here, then you’ll be as maudlin as you damn well please.
>Karkat: Introduce your companion.
Your companion’s name is KANAYA MARYAM.
You’ve spent most of the last sweep ON THE RUN together, forming a mutually beneficial partnership that was not at all painfully awkward at any time. You are a suave son-of-a-crustacean, and you can keep up with a dashing RAINBOW DRINKER just fine, anemia or no anemia.
A part of you still hopes that Kanaya will get out of this alive. Undead. Whichever. Until you met her in person, you never realized that there could be so many reasons to feel bad for someone so strong. She’s so fucked up in every way – a freak like you, with no sense of humour, and she can’t get over her stupid ex-girlfriend and she’s obsessed with dumb clothing issues that nobody cares about – and yet she’s still a hundred times more amazing than you’ll ever be.
That’s probably why you’re kind of in love with her.
-- grimAuxiliatrix [GA] began fussing at carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
GA: Karkat I Must Insist That We Abscond At Once
GA: They Will Be Coming
GA: Come On
GA: It Wont Be Long Until They Are All Over The Planet
GA: The Empress Will Probably Make Her Greeting As Soon As Her Helmsman Lands The Ship
GA: And Then The Conquest Will Commence
GA: Their Numbers Are Completely Impossible For Two Deserters To Handle
CG: I GUESS
CG: SORRY FOR FREEZING UP BACK THERE
GA: Its Okay
GA: Im Only Worried For You
CG: I KNOW
GA: How Far Away Is Our Ship
GA: We Moved Some Distance From It Didnt We
CG: BUT IT SHOULD BE WITHIN AN HOUR OR TWO'S WALK
CG: THEY LANDED BEHIND US, SO, UNLESS THEY COME AT US RIDING FLYING OINKBEASTS
CG: I GUESS WE'LL BE FINE
GA: Yes Of Course
GA: Yes Karkat
CG: WHERE WILL WE BE HEADING AFTER THIS
GA: Wherever The Empire Isnt I Should Imagine
GA: The Army Doesnt Treat Freaks And Deserters With Compassion
GA: In Fact Its Quite The Opposite As You Well Know
CG: I DO
CG: I GET SO TIRED, KANAYA
CG: AND I KNOW TIRED LIKE NOBODY’S FUCKING BUSINESS, JUST LOOK AT MY HIDEOUS MUG.
CG: IT FEELS LIKE WE’RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO STOP
CG: AND ALL THEY HAVE TO DO IS WAIT UNTIL WE’RE TOO WORN DOWN TO KEEP GOING.
GA: I Suppose So Yes
GA: If One Should Choose To Think About It That Way
CG: . . .
CG: THAT’S NOT TO SAY IT’S ALL BAD
GA: Are You Feeling Sentimental Karkat
CG: SHUT UP
>Karkat: Have a moment.
CG: I GUESS
CG: WHAT I WANT TO SAY IS
The imperial battleships have no sense of timing. Your MOMENT is irrevocably ruined.
>Karkat: Be unconscious.
You are now KANAYA MARYAM.
In retrospect, you suppose Karkat was right. It felt like you were always running without stop, and you could not have run forever.
That is a rather depressing conclusion to come to, really.
Yet this planet is already doomed, and if you don’t move soon, you and your companion will be too. You’re not ready to give in just yet. An end may be coming, but you don’t have to wait for it to meet you.
-- grimAuxiliatrix [GA] began fussing at carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
GA: Please Wake Up
You are not going to let your companion be doomed, because even though dying is inconsequential, you don’t want to be the only one left ever again. You could not have gone on like that forever, either.
You’ll run until you can run no longer, and you’ll hope that it will be enough.
>Karkat: Wake up.
You are now KARKAT VANTAS, and you wake up to find your companion carrying you. You don’t know how long she has been at it; the footprints behind you stretch far into the distance.
You don’t understand anything.
Not that that’s new.
CG: KANAYA ARE YOU
GA: Please Remain Silent Karkat
GA: You Are Worse Off Than I Am
Saying it makes it real, and suddenly, on top of everything else, the pain hits you like a rail-based locomotive vehicle.
CG: HOW FAR DID YOU CARRY ME?
GA: Far Enough
You knew that she was dead but you hadn’t realized that the maggots were already burrowing up into her thinkpan. What the fuck is she thinking?
CG: KANAYA, WHAT
GA: I Do Not Think It To Be Within My Physical Ability To Carry You Much Further
GA: You Will Have To Try And Return To The Ship Yourself
GA: Just Run
GA: As Far As You Are Able To
What is she saying?
You don’t understand anything.
GA: They Went In That Direction
GA: I Am Going To Attempt To Lead Them To Me Instead
GA: There Is No Way To Hide In This Barren Place
GA: Let Us Hope That They Think You Perished Back There
The realisation hits you, and you can’t— you can’t—
>Karkat: Stop that flighty broad.
CG: ARE YOU
CG: ARE YOU STUPID
GA: Id Think That You Were The Insufferably Foolish One
GA: Not To Mention Lacking Your Usual Mastery Of Vulgarity
GA: Do You Want To Die Karkat
CG: I’M ALREADY HALFWAY THERE
CG: WHAT GOOD WILL IT DO
CG: WHAT GOOD WILL IT FUCKING DO
CG: IF YOU GET YOURSELF KILLED TOO
GA: Just Let Me Go
GA: Halfway There Is Still Different From Already Dead
> Karkat: You stop her right this instant.
CG: I’LL CUT MY OWN GODDAMN WINDTUBE
CG: RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW
CG: IF YOU TAKE ANOTHER STEP
CG: ANOTHER FUCKING STEP YOU
You are confused and hurt and you can’t think and you can’t say anything besides things that sound like they come from romcoms, except a romcom would have had a punchline. All your coherent thoughts have left you and you feel like you will never be able to gather them up again.
The floodgates open and your wounds hurt like fuck, yet all you can bring to mind is that in this moment, Kanaya Maryam is walking away from you
You can’t think
You just know
>Karkat: You stop her right this instant.
CG: DON'T YOU DARE
CG: ANOTHER STEP
So many times, you’ve wished that you could order the world to stop hurting, and make sense, and get better. When you were a dumb fucking wriggler you’d thought you could will the world into line with the sheer force of your yelling.
You don’t have any better ideas, so you decide to try that one again.
CG: THAT’S AN ORDER FROM YOUR CO-PILOT!
GA: Why Are You So Stupid
GA: If It Meant You Were Safe
GA: I Would Have—
CG: FUCK YOU, WHY ARE YOU SO STUPID?
CG: I CAN'T KEEP GOING WITHOUT YOU, KANAYA
It’s okay if being together weighs you down, because right now, in this moment, she is the only thing that makes running worthwhile.
> Karkat and Kanaya: Keep going.
GA: I Dont Know When They Will Be Coming Back
CG: THAT'S OKAY
CG: WE'LL JUST
CG: KEEP GOING
CG: WE'RE NEARLY THERE
GA: How Can You Possibly Know That
CG: I JUST DO
Just keep going, because someday you’ll make it.
GA: Yes Karkat
Someday you’ll make it to where you want to be.
CG: I LOVE YOU
GA: I Know
Someday you’ll be able to stop running.
GA: Im Here
Not tonight – but another, better night.
CG: WILL YOU
CG: WILL YOU BE MY MOIRAIL?
And until you reach that place.
GA: Of Course
You’ll be together.
If only for a moment.
> Karkat: Wake up…?
So that’s it. You made it. Again.
In the end, you wonder if you ever doubted that you would. Maybe you knew that everything would be okay. Or maybe you were just unconscious for most of it and therefore unqualified to really think anything.
You wish there was a way to tell how many disturbing alien drugs you are on right now, and when they are going to wear off enough for you to start panicking about your love life. Your thoughts are still fuzzy around the edges, but you are fairly certain that Troll Will Smith could have handled that whole scenario without passing out.
> Karkat: Find Kanaya.
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began pestering grimAuxiliatrix [GA] --
GA: Youre Awake
GA: Are You In A State Which You Would Qualify As Satisfactory
CG: YEAH, FIND THOSE WARSHIPS AGAIN AND POINT ME AT THEM.
CG: I REMAIN A FURIOUS UNWASHABLE BILGEWINE STAIN ON GOD’S FAVOURITE TABLECLOTH.
CG: ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-FIVE POUNDS OF PURE MASCULINE HATRED RAINING DOWN FROM THE SKIES TO SCALD GRUBFUCKING MORONS EVERYWHERE.
GA: Well That Is A Relief To Hear
GA: If Youre Up To It Would You Mind Giving Me A Bit Of Assistance
GA: I Need An Opinion
GA: And Maybe Some Help On The Back
CG: WOW YOU CUT IT
GA: What Do You Think
CG: IT LOOKS ALRIGHT
GA: Was That A Compliment Karkat
CG: OH SHUT UP
GA: Come Over Here I Will Give You One Too
CG: NO DON’T
CG: DON'T YOU TOUCH MY HAIR KANAYA
Her haircut reminds you of a Kanaya from before; one you only knew through shitty webcam pictures. The last time you saw that Kanaya was back you both still had a place in this world.
GA: Yes Karkat
CG: WHERE WILL WE BE GOING AFTER THIS?
GA: Wherever The Empire Isnt I Presume
CG: YOU THINK WE’LL EVER GET THE CHANCE TO STEP OFF THIS CAROUSEL OF SHIT?
GA: I Think
GA: That One Day We Will Find A World That The Empress Will Never Reach
GA: And Failing That
GA: We Will Always Be Together
GA: Will We Not
CG: … YEAH.
> Moirails: Run.