Chapter 1: Day 0
Your name is KARKAT VANTAS, you are seven solar sweeps old, and you have just done something monumentally stupid.
Actually, no. "Stupid" doesn't begin to cover it. "Stupid" is what Sollux was for not saving backups of the game code he wrote for Aradia a sweep ago before his computer exploded. "Stupid" is what you'd call the kind of person who hangs fake shame globes off the back of their scuttlebuggy. What you've done is so staggeringly idiotic that it loops around the scale and back into pure genius.
Past you. This is all his fault. How did that gaper-panned idiot ever manage to convince you this was a good idea? Sure, he's screwed you over pretty often before, but this is the first time he has actively tried to murder you. One day, you're going to make Sollux figure out how to stab someone over the Alternet, and when you do, the fucking streets will run with that guy's disgusting red mutant slop, and you will disappear in a poof of paradox and the entire goddamn world will be better for it.
You have to get help, no way around it. You stumble your way up to your room, no help from your lusus because he's out hunting or doing whatever the fuck it is lusii do right after sunrise, which apparently doesn't involve being at his charge's hive and doing anything that could be even remotely useful.
You're pretty sure you left Trollian open at your computer, at least, but trying to contact any specific person is going to be a crapshoot. You double-click around your screen until you hear the "new conversation" chime, then you pray you managed to get in touch with someone you can stand.
>Be one of Karkat's friends.
You are TAVROS NITRAM, and you are still getting used to these robotic legs Equius built for you. Actually, it was thanks to Nepeta that you have them at all; she kind of pressured him into it. You're still kind of clumsy at using them, but even that beats the four-wheeled device you had to use before getting them.
Oh hey, your computer is beeping. Looks like you've got a new message.
>Tavros: Check messages.
You manage to only trip and fall once on your way from the table to your desk. You're getting better at this!
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling adiosToreador [AT] --
CG: zzzzzzzzzzzfuck i hope i got someone here.'
CG: IS aNYONE Zzzzzzzthere/?
CG: afor the lolbe og god if youjr'e there say something
CG: GOD DMANIKT Zzzzzzzcome om
AT: oH, HI kARKAT,
AT: iS, UH, SOMETHING WRONG?
CG: OZh thnank god
CG: I NEED YOU Tzo start an audio chat, whoever uuou are
CG: cAN YOU DO THAT
CG: ONE REZZzzzzply for yes, ywo for no
AT: yES, THAT IS SOMETHING THAT UH, i CAN DEFINITELY DO, AT THIS TIME,
CG: OKAy good
CG: do ikt
adiosToreador [AT] wants to begin audio chat. Accept/decline?
Accepted! Audio chat is now active.
You reach for your headset and power it on before hanging it off one of your horns. "Hey, uh, Karkat, what's going on?"
"Oh thank God, it's Tavros." You can hear him breathe a sigh of relief. "Okay, this is good. Fuck, I could have done so much worse."
"What are you talking about?"
"Tavros, I just did something completely moronic and now I'm hurt, which is the understatement of the goddamned sweep. I'm talking world record for stupidity here. Historians decasweeps from now will find records of my idiocy and I will become some legendary representation of failure. People will offer sacrifices to me in hopes that my gaze will be averted, thus sparing them from tasting of my shame."
"Uh, that definitely doesn't sound good."
"No shit. Listen, I need you to get help. You need to talk to some people, and only those people, understand? I definitely don't need the fucking bluebloods knowing about this, okay?"
"Hey, uh, Vriska's not that bad! That is, um, once you get to know her, of course."
"Yeah, sure, whatever. Listen, Tavros, I need you to get a hold of Sollux and Terezi, and tell them to come to my hive, okay?"
"Um, yeah, don't worry, I've got this."
"I'm fucking trusting you, okay? I'm putting my goddamn life in your hands. It's up to you to contact everyone I said to and get them to come. I'm going to rest a bit after I get off here, while I wait for them. Understand? It is priority fucking one that you do this for me."
Whoa, he's serious about this. Something must be REALLY wrong. "Don't worry, Karkat. Your friend Tavros has, um, got your back."
"Okay. I'm off. And, um... thanks. For helping me, even though I'm a complete dipshit."
>Tavros: Alert Sollux and Terezi of Karkat's distress.
-- adiosToreador [AT] began trolling twinArmageddons [TA] and gallowsCalibrator [GC] --
AT: hEY, UH, GUYS,
AT: sOMETHING IS VERY WRONG, WITH kARKAT,
AT: hE JUST SENT ME A, UM, WEIRD MESSAGE,
AT: aND THEN WE DID AUDIO CHAT FOR A BIT,
AT: hE SAYS HE NEEDS YOU TO, UH, GO TO HIS HIVE,
AT: aND THAT HE NEEDS HELP, RIGHT NOW, IS WHAT HE SAYS,
TA: diid he 2ay what wa2 wrong?
AT: nO, HE DIDN'T,
AT: hE JUST SAID THAT, UH, i NEEDED TO CONTACT YOU TWO,
AT: iT SOUNDED LIKE, HE WAS REALLY IN TROUBLE, THOUGH,
GC: WH4TS TH4T? K4RKL3S 1S 1N TROUBL3?
GC: 1F H3 N33DS OUR H3LP, WHY NOT CONT4CT US D1R3CTLY?
AT: i, DON'T KNOW,
AT: iT WAS KIND OF, UM, STRANGE,
AT: hE DIDN'T SEEM LIKE, HE KNEW HE WAS MESSAGING ME,
AT: mORE LIKE, UM, HE WAS TRYING TO GET A MESSAGE OUT TO, ANYONE,
TA: ii 2hould have seen thii2 fuckiing comiing.
TA: what kiind of fuckiing friiend am ii?
GC: S33N WH4T COM1NG >:?
TA: KK paniicked ye2terday about hii2 eye color 2tarting two come iin.
TA: ii told hiim iit wa2 no biig deal.
TA: but he kept raviing about how iit wa2 goiing two reveal hii2 2ecret or 2ome 2hiit.
TA: and then ii got mad and told hiim two go bliind hiim2elf iif hii2 eye color bothered hiim 2o much.
TA: ii diidn't thiink he'd actually fuckiing go and do iit!
TA: fuck guy2, what have ii done?
TA: thii2 ii2 all my fault
TA: why can't ii keep my wiindhole 2hut?
GC: C4N 1T
GC: 1TS PROB4BLY NOTH1NG
GC: BUT W3 SHOULD PROB4BLY GO CH3CK ON H1M TO B3 SUR3 H3S OK4Y
GC: M33T YOU GUYS 4T H1S H1V3?
AT: wAIT, "yOU GUYS?"
GC: YOU COM3 TOO
GC: 1F 1TS S3R1OUS, W3 M1GHT N33D TH3 3XTR4 H3LP
AT: wHAT, ABOUT gAMZEE, HE'S HERE WITH ME,
AT: i DON'T WANT TO JUST LEAVE HIM HERE, BY HIMSELF,
GC: BR1NG H1M TH3N
GC: 1V3 GOT TO G3T R34DY, TH3 D4YSU1T T4K3S FOR3V3R TO PUT ON >:/
TA: 2ee you there, TZ.
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] left the conversation --
TA: ii 2hould get goiing two, ii liive further away from KK than 2he doe2, after all.
TA: thank2 for the head2 up, TR.
AT: nO PROBLEM,
-- twinArmageddons [TA] left the conversation --
-- terminallyCapricious [TC] joined the conversation --
TC: HeY GuYs, WhAt tHe mOtHeRfUcK Is uP!
TC: hOnK :o)
TC: AwW, eVeRyBoDy aLrEaDy uP AnD LeFt!
AT: uH, gAMZEE, WHAT ARE YOU, DOING,
TC: jUsT ChEcKiNg oUt tHiS LiTtLe mEeTiNg eVeRyOnE WaS In.
TC: BuT... iT LoOkS LiKe i fUcKiN' mIsSeD It!
AT: yEAH, BUT, WE NEED TO GET GOING,
AT: wE'RE SUPPOSED TO GO TO kARKAT'S,
TC: ThAnKs fOr tElLiN' a bRo aBoUt wHaT AlL'S GoInG DoWn.
TC: nOw lEt's gEt oUr mOtHeRfUcKiN' mOvE On!
TC: BuT YoU'Ll hAvE To dRiVe, I sTiLl aIn't pAsSeD ThAt fUcKiN' tEsT YeT!
AT: nO PROBLEM,
AT: lET'S GO,
-- adiosToreador [AT] left the conversation --
-- terminallyCapricious [TC] left the conversation --
>Be the best friend.
You are now SOLLUX CAPTOR, and you are practically kicking yourself for being this stupid. Not literally, of course, that would be silly and accomplish nothing. But you'd probably deserve it, and mentally, you are giving yourself quite the thrashing for putting the idea in your best friend's thinkpan.
Of course, you aren't 100% certain that this is what happened, but all of the evidence points toward it. No time to think about that now, though, you've got to get to Karkat's hive and help him. You pack some medical supplies (bandages, disinfectants, painkillers) into your sylladex and make your way to your communial hivestem's parking garage.
You open the door to your scuttlebuggy, start the engine, activate the antisolar cover, and drive off. The sun's coming up, and it's a long way to KK's place, after all.
>Be the girl.
You are now TEREZI PYROPE, and you are very worried for your friend. One sweep ago, you were made to stare into the sun via mind control, courtesy of one Vriska Serket, and what is unfolding now is an eerie reminder of what happened last sweep.
You don't have a scuttlebuggy, on account of being blind and thus not legally allowed to drive one, and in any case, you'd have nowhere to park it. Fortunately for you, the forest you live in will provide enough shade and cover to get you most of the way to Karkat's house without frying you. You'll have to use the daysuit to go the final distance; it's cumbersome, heavy, and it's still hot as hell wearing it, but you'll gladly endure it. Karkat is one of your best friends, and he needs your help.
>Be the stoned guy.
You are now GAMZEE MAKARA, and you know something isn't right. You were rapping with your bro Tavros when the call came through; your buddy Karkat is in trouble, and it's up to you to bail him out.
No motherfuckin' problem, you thought. But the more you think about it, the more you don't like it. This all seems so familiar, like it all already went down before and you're just watching it again like a bad rerun.
Wait, fuuuuuck, it did! Isn't someone sending a weird message the biggest sign of trouble there is? Tavros sent everyone messages for help when he got paralyzed, Terezi tried to send out messages when she went blind, and now Karkat sent Tavros a strange message.
That's downright motherfuckin' ominous, is what that is.
Try as you might, you can't.
It's the middle of the day, you should be dead tired right now, but circumstances have left you with an inability to sleep. The sopor slime of the recuperacoon does nothing to ease you now.
You only have yourself to blame, you know. Past you may ultimately be responsible but you were him not that long ago. If you had stopped to think for even a second, you wouldn't be in this mess. But, of course, you didn't. You decided to act on impulse and to hell with the consequences. A lot of fucking good that did you!
What the fuck were you thinking? Seriously, what the hell made you think this was a good idea? Maybe you could have gotten away with not being culled. Maybe Feferi's revolution will succeed, maybe you could have argued your case and just been forbidden a matesprit or kismesis to keep you from contaminating the gene pool if you could prove you're more valuable to the empire alive than dead. But no, you decided you had to act, that anything was better than someone finding your secret, and now they're going to cull you for sure. Nice job, fucko!
The worst scenarios are racing through your mind now. What if they react badly? What if they decide to leave you to your fate? What if they decide to cull you themselves? Surely not. Surely they'll help you, these are your friends you're talking about. Surely they'll still help you.
And yet, in the back of your mind, you can't help but think the worst.
Maybe you should just stay quiet when they get here. If you're lucky, they'll give up and leave.
>Anyone: Be the first to arrive.
When you approach Karkat's hive, you find the door is still open. This isn't a good sign. His lusus doesn't seem to be in, so you make your way inside as you remove the mask of the daysuit.
"Karkat? Are you here?" You call to him as you peel off the rest of the daysuit but there's no response, only silence. You sniff the air, but you get nothing. Then you make your way to the stairs because you remember his respiteblock is on the second floor.
"Where are you, Karkat? You're scaring me." First, Tavros tells you Karkat says he needs help, and now this. Something is most definitely not right. You feel your way along to the door of his respiteblock and knock three times.
"It's Terezi. Are you okay?" You listen intently but there's no response from the other side. You turn to leave and search elsewhere in his hive when you barely hear it, a sniffling sound from behind the door.
You try the door; it's unlocked. You step into his respiteblock and inhale sharply. There, against the wall, the unmistakable licorice black of his shirt and iron grey of his skin.
You think he might be crying, but he's hugging his knees and his head is buried in his arms. You approach him slowly, carefully. If he was trying to avoid help, then something terrible must have happened.
"There you are. What's wrong?"
You bring an arm up to rub his shoulder but he swats it away. "Leave me alone."
"You're the one who asked for help. What happened?"
"I said, go away. I fucked up, I'll deal with it myself."
"Karkat, please. If you're hurt, let me help."
"I said leave!" he shouts, and he turns his face toward you, eyes wide open. You breathe in to get a read on his expression but it's not one of anger, it's fear. But the worst part, the worst part, is the cherry red that his eyes are practically screaming.
"Oh... oh, Karkat, no... not you..." The flashbacks come fast and hard. You've been there before, the memories of the time this very thing happened to you keep flowing. You know what he must be going through right now. The anxiety, the doubt, the self-loathing, not to mention the pain, you were no stranger to it. The sudden deprivation is fucking terrifying and no one understands but you.
He speaks, voice shaky and rasping. Who knows how long he was like this before he decided to get help? "F-f-fuck you. You probably think this is some fucking party, don't you? Like we're goddamn blind buddies now or some shit. Well, fuck you, Terezi, fuck youuuuu..." His words devolve into sobbing as he stops trying to fight you.
"We'll get you through this, Karkat. I promise." You take hold of his hand; rather than pull away, like you're expecting, he grasps your hand as though it's the only thing keeping him safe.
You hear footsteps downstairs. The others are here, too.
>Sollux: Meet up with Tavros and Gamzee.
You, Tavros and Gamzee arrive at Karkat's hive at almost the same time. The door's still open, which doesn't bode well. The three of you walk in and you shut the door behind you before splitting up to look for him.
"KK? Where are you?" you call out.
"Up here," a voice you think is Terezi's responds from upstairs. She must have gotten here first.
The three of you climb the stairs and enter his respiteblock. Karkat is sitting, back against the far wall, and Terezi sits next to him, arm slung around his shoulders. You open your mouth to speak and get as far as "Hey KK, what's--" before he opens his eyes and you instinctively flinch at the sight.
They're bright, solid red. Just like... just like hers.
You stop, try to catch your breath for a moment. You actually feel physically ill from knowing what happened to your best friend, from seeing his ruined eyes and the dark grey burns on his face. This is your fault, you snapped at him and told him to do this and he actually went through with it.
"Oh my God, KK, fuck, I wasn't serious! Shiiiit, why did I say those things?! I didn't think you'd actually do it!"
"Don't fucking do this right now, Sollux, I can't handle you feeling sorry for yourself on top of all this!"
"It's my fault, all my fault!" you reply, barely even aware he's speaking. "I should have fucking known you might actually do it. What kind of friend am I?"
"Sollux, man, don't do this, it was an accident, I swear!" Karkat responds.
"Bullshit, you're just trying to get me to shut up! Screw you! You're a bulge!"
"Oh yeah, yell at the blind guy! Some friend you are, asshole! Get the fuck out of my hive before I call the legislacerators!"
"Oh God KK you're right, what am I even doing, I'm the worst friend ever--"
"No, I am, you're just trying to help and I'm being a complete nookwipe--"
"--needed my help and I just started shouting at you--"
"--what kind of douchebag even snaps at people like that--"
The sound of Terezi clearing her throat makes the two of you stop bickering. Geez, what an embarrassing display that was.
"So, what happened?" you ask, to change the subject.
"I told you, it was an accident. I was out later than I thought, the sun was coming up and I was running back here as fast as I could. I tried to shield my eyes but my hive was in the same direction as the sunrise. I thought I could make it back in time. I was wrong. That's all there is to it, okay?"
You nod. "Alright. Sorry I blew up just now." If it really was an accident, then the last thing he needs is you being a sad sack about it.
"Not a goddamned word about this to anyone, you fucking hear me?" he adds. Not that he needed to, this is the kind of thing people get culled over. You will keep this secret until he learns to adjust.
Gamzee is the only one who responds. "Duuuuuuuude... this is some motherfuckin' heavy shit, bro. Can you even fuckin' see out of those?"
Karkat gives off an annoyed sigh. "No, I can't see shit, Gamzee. Kind of why I called you guys out here. Wait, why are you even here?"
"I asked Tavros to come over in case we needed his help," Terezi replies. "Gamzee was with him, so I told him to just bring Gamzee with him. I'm sorry, I didn't know all this had happened."
That makes you remember why you came in the first place. "I-I brought some stuff from my hive, first aid, gauze and ointments and shit like that."
You eject your sylladex and sort through what you've brought for the relevant items; namely, the bandages, the burn cream, and the bottle of painkillers, wherever the fuck it is in this pile of bullshit. Tavros and Gamzee approach Karkat, unsure of what to do.
"Hey, uh, Karkat? Is there anything that, uh, Gamzee and I can do, to help, that is?"
He thinks for a moment. "I guess. You two clowns go downstairs and stand guard. I don't want some opportunistic jackass noticing I'm blind and thinking it's okay to take my shit."
"Um, okay! Can do, Karkat. Don't worry, Gamzee and I have, uh, got this," Tavros says as you hear the flash of his strife specibus activating and placing a lance in his hand.
"Ain't nobody gettin' the motherfuck past us!" Gamzee adds, clubs cutting the air as he twirls them round.
They exit and make for the first floor. You start applying the balm to one of the bandages before affixing it to Karkat's face.
"You really think someone taking your stuff is the biggest problem you have right now, KK?"
"No, but they're here, they might as well make themselves useful. If I thought I was in any real danger yet, I would have sent Terezi."
"You think the blind girl's a better fighter than TR and GZ?" You earn a punch to the shoulder from said blind girl for that one.
"Better than the reigning champion of absconding and the guy who gets distracted by his own sylladex? Do I really have to fucking explain?"
"...Good point." You have to concede that one.
"Fuck, you guys, what the hell did I just do to myself? I'm going to get culled for sure. Shit, maybe I deserve it for being a stupid fuckup."
That gives you an idea. "Shiiiiiit, KK, you think maybe Equius can make robot eyes for--"
"NO." He tries to poke you in the chest but misses and hits your arm. Do not tell Equius about this. Don't tell anyone about this, you fucking hear me? The second this gets out, I'm as good as dead. You can't fucking tell anyone!"
"Then how are you gonna--"
"I'll teach him. It didn't take me long to learn how to taste colors, so I bet I can do it, no problem." Terezi's interjection surprises you, but it's a sound plan if she can actually pull it off.
"I think it's thirty days until the next patrols. Think you can teach him smell-o-vision by then?"
She smiles wide, all the confidence in the world radiating from her face. "I know I can."
Chapter 2: Day 1
In which a lusus discovers an injured charge.
This part is pretty short. Too short to stand on its own, really, and I probably could have posted it yesterday, but for whatever reason I didn't think to. Consider this the last bit of part one, if you want.
- DAY 1 ->Karkat: Be a useless piece of shit all day and sleep all these hours.
>Sollux and Tavros: Leave after a few hours because you have responsibilities to your lusii.
Way ahead of you.
>Gamzee: Go with them because Tavros is driving your ride back to your place.
Already taken care of.
>Terezi: Stick around because you have literally no other obligations.
The others left hours ago. Sollux's lusus is chained to the roof of his communal hivestem and Tavros's is too small to get food for itself, so both of them left to take care of their lusii. Gamzee left with them, because otherwise, it would be an hour's walk back to his hive. Not that he hasn't made the trip before, but you couldn't let him this time, not when transportation is so easily available.
That leaves you. Your lusus never hatched; therefore, you have no responsibilities to it. There's nothing to do at your hive, anyway, and even if there were, you wouldn't leave. You look at Karkat sleeping, still fully clothed, in his recuperacoon, and take stock of what you'll need if you're to teach him before the next time the cull squads come knocking.
A clatter downstairs shakes you out of your thoughts. You grip your walking stick as you slowly creep downstairs. You will face this intruder and run it out of Karkat's hive yourself.
>Terezi: Prepare to face the interloper.
You hide behind a corner as you hear the intruder approach. You're reading yourself for a surprise attack when it vocalizes, something like a gurgle and a growl mixed into one noise. It's one you've heard before. You step out of hiding and take a deep breath through your nostrils; it's the salty scent of the sea and the odor of freshly-caught fish, with just a hint of vanilla.
You smile. It's been a while since you've seen this guy. "Hey, crabby, how's it going?"
He scuttles toward you, warily at first, and moves its face near yours to get a good look. Then it makes another noise as he recognizes you, sort of a combination of a hearty laugh and a warble. It drops its catch onto the floor before giving you a big cholerbear hug with shelled arms.
Unlike Karkat himself, you've always gotten along really well with his lusus.
>Terezi: Break the bad news.
"I wish I were here on happier terms, crabman. Karkat's gone and hurt himself. Pretty badly, actually."
The lusus pulls away from you, blinks once and turns his head to the side, like he's asking you what happened.
"He accidentally caught the sun in his face and... his eyes." You point to your own. "They're like mine now. He can't see anymore."
He lowers his head and makes a sad gurgle. Despite their near-perpetual arguing and altercations, the lusus cares deeply for his charge, and this is most definitely not good news.
"He's got a pretty bad sunburn on his face too, but that'll heal. He's not hurt otherwise. Well, not physically, anyway. You know how Karkles is, this was a huge blow to his psyche. Poor guy, he's gonna have to learn, isn't he?"
Karkat's lusus pats you on the shoulder with one of his huge pincers.
"Of course I'll help him. I know what he's going through right now."
He chirps quizzically at you.
"I'm gonna teach him how to smell and taste colors like I do. "
He makes the same noise again, then points one claw toward the stairs.
"Yeah, he's up in his respiteblock if you want to check up on him. He was sleeping when I came downstairs, so that's probably what he's doing now." The lusus starts climbing the stairs to get a look at Karkat himself.
"Hey, now that you're here, I'm going to run back to my hive and get some stuff, okay? I didn't want to leave him alone like this." It nods at you, then you leave for your own hive.
Chapter 3: Day 2
In which Terezi's resolve is established.
>Karkat: Wake up.
Every fiber of your being doesn't want to. You'd rather stay in your recuperacoon and pretend that maybe yesterday didn't happen and maybe you aren't actually fucking blind.
"Hey Karkat! Time to wake up!" The sound of your door suddenly opening coupled with her voice startles you, jolting you from that state between waking and dreaming as you acknowledge, with more than a little annoyance, that Terezi is still here.
You turn your back to her, thankful you apparently got into the slime still fully-dressed. The last thing you need is an embarassing incident on top of all of this. "Go away."
She exhales sharply before replying. "Still intent on doing this yourself, Karkles?" You cringe at the mention of the stupid nickname she gave you a sweep ago.
The slime crackles and pops as you work your way to the edge of the recuperacoon. "Do you need any help?" she asks.
"No. Not from you or anyone else," you tell her. It's a lie, but one you're hoping she'll buy. You have to learn how to cope with your new disability, after all, and you've done an admirable job of living with your other disability so far. You're kind of used to the universe shitting on you at every chance, you can get used to this, right?
"You're lying. We're on a time limit, remember?" Of course, she sees right through your bullshit. She takes hold of your arm to help you steady yourself as you exit the recuperacoon.
And you slap her hands away like the stupid wriggler you are.
"Don't touch me, I'm fine," you say, as you sling a slime-covered leg over your recuperacoon, lean over, and fall face-first onto the floor. What are you doing, you're not kidding anyone.
"Well? Are you getting up?" Is she taunting you? Is she trying to piss you off? What's she still doing here, anyway?
"Good to see you're treating this situation with the utter fucking respect and care it deserves instead of pretending it's all some kind of sick game! What, are you taking bets on how long the blind guy can go without running into walls or falling down the stairs or shitting himself? Go home. Get out of my hive."
She walks toward you and kneels down, not that you can see it, before she speaks. "Do you remember when I went blind?"
"What about it?"
She grabs your wrist to help you up. "I barely do. I know, it seems like the kind of thing you wouldn't ever forget, but I really don't remember a lot about it. Maybe I didn't want to. I just remember it was scary, and I wished I had someone to help me through it. So, I'm going to take care of you." She says it less like she's going to tend to someone with an injury and more like it's some kind of vacation, in a manner that sounds entirely too enthusiastic about the whole ordeal.
"Fuck. That. Noise. I need you around here like I need a hole in my thinkpan." Why your lusus isn't throwing more a fit at her presence, you'll never know. It's always chased away your other friends when they tried to come over, why does it seem to like Terezi so much?
You feel around, trying to find your closet. "Your left. No, further. Right there," she says. Stupid helpful crazy idiot, who does she think she is?
"Get out of here, I'm changing."
"I can't see either, Karkat."
"I don't want you smelling my nudity. Out." That earns a hearty cackle before she makes her exit.
You peel off your slime-slick shirt. The burns still mark your upper body, though, and you wince as the soaked fabric makes contact with them. You wipe the excess slime from yourself with what you're pretty sure is a spare shirt, because fuck asking Terezi to get you a towel.
Finally, when you're changed into clothes not covered in sopor slime, you stumble your way to your respiteblock's exit, where Terezi's still waiting.
"You're still here."
"I told you to get the fuck out."
You groan in exasperation as you walk down the hallway. "Goddamnit, Terezi. I don't need your help, I've been doing pretty well living by myself for the last seven sweeps."
"Which is why you called me, Sollux, Tavros and Gamzee over the minute something went horribly wrong, right? Because you can deal with that yourself?"
"Past me is an idiot, in case you haven't noticed," you reply. "I mean, he thought you were a good choice to watch my back."
"Oh yeah, I really want the psychotic blind tree girl watching over me while I'm helpless. What could possibly go wrong with trusting one half of the fucking Scourge Sisters?"
"Karkat, I haven't been a Scourge Sister or even talked to Vriska for a sweep."
"Once a crazy bitch, always a crazy bitch."
She responds by suddenly tilting up her walking stick, smacking into your chest with a dull thwack. "The stairs," she says. "You almost fell." You carefully feel around the area in front of you with your foot and she's right.
Wow. Terezi looks out for you and all you do is insult her? Past you is a jerk. And you were him not that long ago, so that makes you a jerk, by association. You are kind of embarrassed by the whole conversation you've had with her since waking up now.
"I'm not here, Karkat," she says, "because I feel like I have to be. I'm here because I want to be. I'm here because you're my friend, and you need help, and I can help you. And believe it or not, I give a damn about you." You think you can detect a bit of hurt coming from that last sentence. Now you've gone and done it. Way to be a total bulge to the one person willing to help your stupid ass.
She takes your hand to lead you downstairs, slowly and carefully. You don't slap her away this time.
"S... sorry for going off on you like that."
"It's okay, I know how it is. It's frustrating and everything sucks. It's not easy, but it gets better, I promise."
The two of you reach the ground floor without incident. She squeezes your hand before letting go. "Now, let's get you something to eat. You've been asleep for nearly two days, you must be starving."
The next chapter may be a while, I'm having to restructure it a bit and I'm not entirely sure how yet
Also it's mostly pesterlogs, if you like that sort of thing
Chapter 4: Day 3
In which Tavros slips up.
Big ups to lantadyme for proofreading this section, it makes a bit more sense than it did now. I still think it's not the best part of this fic (my favorite part is the next one) but it's definitely much improved over earlier revisions.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
-- centaursTesticle [CT] began trolling gallowsCalibrator [GC] --
CT: D --> I am afraid the answer is no, Miss Pyrope
CT: D --> It is nothing personal, I assure you
CT: D --> As STRONGLY as it ve%es me to admit it
CT: D --> It is simply beyond even my skill with roboti% to craft such items
CT: D --> It is e%eedingly frustrating
GC: WH4T 4R3 YOU T4LK1NG 4BOUT
CT: D --> The robotic eyes you asked about
CT: D --> Or rather, asked Nepeta about
CT: D --> I pride myself on my craftsmanship but such complicated wor% are impossible
CT: D --> The optical sensors I used when I built Aradia's mechanical body cannot be adapted to work with a living troll's body
CT: D --> It is beginning to make me rather %
GC: 1 D1DNT 4SK N3P3T4 TO 4SK YOU TO M4K3 M3 4 S3T OF 3Y3S
CT: D --> If not for you, who might they be for
GC: 1 DONT KNOW
GC: 1 N3V3R 4SK3D FOR TH3M 1N TH3 F1RST PL4C3 4ND 1 DONT KNOW WHY SH3D W4NT TH3M 31TH3R
CT: D --> You are lying
CT: D --> You will stop lying
CT: D --> I order you to tell me the truth
CT: D --> Or perhaps I will order Nepeta to do so
CT: D --> You know she will tell me
GC: N3P3T4 DO3SNT KNOW 4NYTH1NG
GC: 4ND 1M NOT T3LL1NG YOU
GC: 1D R4TH3R NOT S33 MY FR13ND CULL3D
CT: D --> You are covering for someone then
GC: S1NC3 WH3N 4M 1 TH3 ON3 ON TR14L H3R3!
GC: TH1S 1S H1GHLY D1SCONC3RT1NG >:/
GC: YOU W1LL STOP TH1S L1N3 OF QU3ST1ON1NG 1MM3D14T3LY!
CT: D --> You will tell me what has happened
GC: NOT 4 CH4NC3
GC: YOULL M4K3 SUR3 H3 G3TS PUT 4T TH3 TOP OF TH3 L1ST!
CT: D --> Nonsense
CT: D --> Just because I am a STRONG believer in the hemospectrum does not mean I support wasteful culling
CT: D --> I will have you know that I personally put in an appeal on Mister Nitram's behalf while I crafted his legs
GC: D1DNT N3P3T4 PR3TTY MUCH M4K3 YOU DO TH4T
CT: D --> Yes
CT: D --> But she had an e%ellent argument in favor of doing so
GC: UGH 1 DONT L1K3 TH1S 4T 4LL
GC: BUT TH3R3S NOT MUCH T1M3 B3FOR3 TH3 P4TROLS
GC: STR1K1NG 4 D34L W1TH YOU M4Y B3 H1S B3ST CH4NC3 4T G3TT1NG THROUGH TH1S 4L1V3
GC: H3 M4D3 M3 SW34R NOT TO T3LL 4NYONE
GC: BUT 1F 1T M34NS S4V1NG H1S L1F3, WH4T CHO1C3 DO 1 H4V3?
GC: YOU UND3RST4ND WH4T 1S 4T ST4K3 H3R3 R1GHT?
GC: WH4T 1M R1SK1NG, YOU CR33P?
GC: YOU W1LL SW34R ON YOUR P3RF3CT BLU3 BLOOD TH4T YOU LOV3 SO MUCH
GC: 1F 1 T3LL YOU WH4TS GO1NG ON
GC: YOU W1LL NOT T3LL 4NYONE 4BOUT TH1S
CT: D --> Y
CT: D --> Yes
GC: TH1S 1S 4 M4TT3R OF L1F3 4ND D34TH
GC: YOU WONT T3LL 4NYON3 4BOUT TH1S
GC: TH4TS NOT 4 QU3ST1ON, SW34TY
GC: TH4TS 4N ORD3R
CT: D --> Well I never
CT: D --> Ordering a b100d superior around
CT: D --> Never have I seen such disrespect
CT: D --> I
CT: D --> I order you to do it again
GC: GO G3T 4 TOW3L B3FOR3 YOU SHORT OUT YOUR K3YBO4RD
GC: 1 C4N PR4CT1C4LLY T4ST3 YOU SW34T1NG FROM H3R3
GC: OH 3W 3W 3W 3W 3W 3W 3WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW
GC: FORG3T 1 S41D TH4T
GC: SW34R YOU WONT T3LL 4NYON3!
GC: 1F YOU DO 1 W1LL K1LL YOU MYS3LF
CT: D --> I vow never to udder a word of what you are about to say to anyone
CT: D --> Under pain of death
CT: D --> Oh my
CT: D --> I am working up quite the sweat
GC: 1TS K4RK4T
GC: H3S HURT
GC: H1S 3Y3S 4R3 M3SS3D UP L1K3 M1N3
GC: 1 W4NT TO T34CH H1M HOW TO S33 4G41N, 1N 4 M4NN3R
GC: 1T D1DNT T4K3 M3 V3RY LONG TO L34RN, SUR3LY 1 C4N T34CH H1M B3FOR3 TH3 N3XT CULL P4TROL
GC: 4ND 1F NOT
GC: P3RH4PS YOU C4N F1ND 4 W4Y
GC: TH1S 1S 4 B1G D34L 3QU1US, K4RK4T 1S MY FR13ND 4ND 1 W4NT H1M TO G3T THROUGH TH1S
CT: D --> Understandable
CT: D --> If anything similar were to happen to Nepeta I would do anything in my power to aid her
GC: OK4Y SOM3ON3 3LS3 1S TROLL1NG M3 NOW
GC: R3M3MB3R, NOT 4 WORD 4BOUT K4RK4T'S CURR3NT PR3D1C4M3NT TO 4NYON3!!!
CT: D --> Yes
CT: D --> Of course
CT: D --> It's a secret to everyone
CT: D --> Where did I put that blasted towel
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling centaursTesticle [CT] --
-- adiosToreador [AT] began trolling gallowsCalibrator [GC] --
AT: hEY, UH, tEREZI,
AT: hOW ARE THINGS GOING, wITH kARKAT,
GC: COULD B3 4 LOT WORS3
GC: COULD B3 4 LOT B3TT3R 1F 1 D1DNT JUST NOW H4V3 TO T4LK TO 3QU1US
AT: aW, HE'S NOT SO BAD,
AT: bUT THEN IT'S UH, pRETTY MUCH ENTIRELY THANKS TO HIM, tHAT i CAN WALK, AT ALL,
GC: Y34H BUT SOM3TH1NG N3P3T4 S41D M4D3 H1M ST4RT SNOOP1NG 4ROUND
GC: HOW SH3 FOUND OUT, 1 DONT KNOW
GC: 1 H4D TO T3LL H1M 4BOUT K4RK4T, H3 WOULD H4V3 FOUND OUT 4NYW4Y >X[
GC: 1 KNOW K4RK4T D1DNT W4NT H1M TO KNOW BUT H3 PR3TTY MUCH 4LR34DY D1D
GC: 4ND W3 N33D 4LL TH3 H3LP W3 C4N G3T
GC: 1 DONT TH1NK H3LL T3LL 4NYON3
GC: BUT 1 H4D T4K3 D3SP3R4T3 M34SUR3S TO M4K3 SURE OF 1T
GC: 1D R4TH3R NOT T4LK 4BOUT 1T, BL4444R >XP
AT: oH UH, tHAT'S KIND OF, wHY i AM MESSAGING YOU, rIGHT NOW,
AT: i MAY HAVE TOLD, UM, nEPETA, aBOUT kARKAT'S ACCIDENT,
AT: cOMPLETELY ACCIDENTALLY, OF COURSE,
AT: kARKAT'S GOING TO HATE ME FOR THIS, ISN'T HE, }:(
GC: H3 1S GO1NG TO K1LL TH3 BOTH OF US
GC: OR 4T L34ST FL41L 4ROUND 1N OUR G3N3R4L D1R3CT1ONS
GC: L3T M3 H4NDL3 TH1S
GC: 1 W1LL M4K3 SUR3 TH1S DO3SNT G3T OUT OF H4ND
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling adiosToreador [AT] --
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling arsenicCatnip [AC] --
GC: TH3 M1GHTY DR4GONYYYD F1N4LLY C4TCH3S S1GHT OF H3R PR3Y!
GC: SH3 SWOOPS DOWN FROM TH3 SKY 4ND D1V3BOMBS TH3 HUNT3R C4T
GC: C4TCH1NG H3R 1N H3R CL4WS >:D
AC: :33 < *the cat struggles to escape!*
GC: BUT SH3 DO3SNT 4ND TH3 DR4GONYYYD C4RR13S H3R B4CK TO H3R N3ST
GC: SHE OP3NS H3R F4NG3D MOUTH
AC: :33 < oh no!
AC: :33 < *the cat says, quaking in fear*
GC: BUT 1NST34D OF 34T1NG TH3 C4T, SH3 JUST S4YS
GC: "H3Y HOWS 1T GO1NG"
AC :33 < hi terezi! long time no s33!
GC: 1 4M 4CTU4LLY H3R3 ON BUS1N3SS!
GC: TH3 BUS1N3SS OF...
GC: MOR3 SP3C1F1C4LLY 1 W4NT TO KNOW WHY SW34TY MCHOOFB34ST THOUGHT 1 W4NT3D 4 S3T OF ROBOT 3Y3S
GC: 1 SUSP3CT YOU M4Y H4V3 SOM3TH1NG TO DO W1TH 1T
GC: 4CTU4LLY 1 4LR34DY KNOW YOU DO! SO SP1LL 1T S1ST3R >:]
AC: :33 < ohh...
AC: :33 < you caught me red-pawed!
AC: :33 < tavros was explaining why he didnt make it to our fiduspawn match and he let it slip
AC: :33 < and i just felt so bad for karkitty
AC: :33 < i wanted to help, but i dont know anything about taking care of eyes...
AC: :33 < so i asked my meowrail if he could make a pair of robot ones! but i didn't tell him they were fur karkat
AC: :33 < i said you might be interested in using them
GC: Y34H W3LL, 1 H4D TO T4LK TO H1M 4BOUT 1T 4ND LONG STORY SHORT, H3 KNOWS 4BOUT K4RK4T NOW TOO
AC: :33 < i guess you could say, the cat's
AC: B :33 < *paws*
AC: B33 < out of the bag
AC: B33 < M33YAAAAAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOWWWWWWW
GC: FOR PUTT1NG 1NTO MOT1ON TH3 S3QU3NC3 OF 3V3NTS TH4T L3D TO 3QU1US F1ND1NG OUT 4BOUT K4RK4TS BL1NDN3SS
GC: 4ND FOR M4K1NG M3 H4V3 TH3 MOST D1SGUST1NG CONV3RS4T1ON 3V3R W1TH YOUR P3RP3TU4LLY P3RSP1R1NG MO1R41L
GC: 4ND FOR M4KING L1GHT OF TH1S S1TU4T1ON
GC: 4ND *3SP3C14LLY* FOR TH4T HORR1BL3 TR41NWR3CK OF PUNS JUST NOW
GC: WH4TS TH3 H1GH3ST NUMB3R YOU C4N TH1NK OF
AC: :33 < 33 trillion?
GC: 1 H3R3BY 4SS1GN TH3 3ST33M3D POUNC1LOR 33 TR1LL1ON RUMPUS D3M3R1TS
GC: COURT 1S 4DJOURN3D
AC: :33 < oh come on! how am i going to work off 33 trillion demerits?!
GC: BY NOT T3LL1NG 4NYON3 3LS3 4BOUT K4RK4T
GC: THOUGH TH3 L1ST OF P3OPL3 WHO DONT KNOW 1S G3TT1NG SHORT3R 3V3RY D4Y 1T S33MS!
GC: 4R4D14, K4N4Y4, VR1SK4 4ND TH3 S34DW3LL3RS DONT KNOW Y3T
GC: 4ND 1 TH1NK K4RK4T WOULD 4PPR3C14T3 1T 1F 1T ST4Y3D TH4T W4Y
AC: :33 < *the kitty agr33s to k33p karkat's secret a secret from now on!*
AC: :33 < but wont he have to tell efurryone someday?
GC: M4YB3, BUT H3S ST1LL R3COV3R1NG
GC: W3 ONLY KN3W 4BOUT 1T 4 F3W D4YS 4GO
GC: 1 W4NT TO G1V3 H1M SOM3 T1M3 TO R3ST
GC: 1 W4NT TO TRY T34CH1NG H1M HOW TO S33 L1K3 M3
AC: :33 < *the pouncilor wishes her dragon furriend luck*
AC: :33 < *and hopes the grumpy crab gets better soon!*
GC: TH3 4FOR3M3NT1ON3D DR4GON FR13ND 4CKNOWL3DG3S TH3 POUNC1LORS W3LL-W1SH3S 4ND M4K3S R3CORD OF TH3M 1N TH3 OFF1C14L LOGBOOK
GC: 4ND TH3N NOT3S TH3 GRUMPY CR4B 1S ST1RR1NG FROM H1S SL33P 4ND W1LL R3QU1R3 4SS1ST4NC3 SOON
AC: :33 < oh, you're at karkitty's hive?
AC: :33 < *ac asks*
GC: SOM3ON3 H4S TO B3
GC: H3S NOT US3D TO B31NG BL1ND 4ND SOM3ON3 H4S TO T34CH H1M HOW TO DO TH1NGS
GC: 1T 1S 4 DUTY TH4T 1 W1LL GL4DLY P3RFORM
AC: :33 < that's
AC: <:33 < really sw33t
AC: :33 < i'm sorry, i have to go, pounce n33ds me!
GC: H3H3 OK4Y
GC: 1T W4S GOOD TO T4LK TO YOU 4G41N N3P3T4! >:]
AC: :33 < same to you, terezi!
-- arsenicCatnip [AC] ceased trolling gallowsCalibrator [GC] --
Can you tell that I can't into puns or what
Chapter 5: Day 6
In which Terezi learns the truth.
Two updates in the same day? Amazing!
Actually this next part needed no further revision at all. I think it's perfect as-is, I just needed some time to untangle the last part's Terezi/Equius pesterlog and this would be good to go.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
>Karkat: Stumble around blindly.
No way, you've been doing enough of that for the last week or so. Fuck that shit, you're staying right here on your goddamn couch in your own fucking respiteblock.
"Kaaaarkaat! After dinner, we're trying the chalk again!"
You just kind of groan. For the last couple of days, she's been quizzing you on what her chalk smells like, and then when you tell her it smells like chalk, she tells you you're wrong. If this is her way of teaching you to smell colors, it's not working. Red chalks smell like blue chalks smell like white chalks smell like green chalks, it's all the same and you're starting to get sick of the drill because it's clearly not working.
She and your lusus are cooking dinner right now. How a blind girl and a giant crab monster manage to cook anything is beyond you; you insisted on trying yesterday and nearly burned down your hive, and now Terezi has forbidden you from your own kitchen. She told you she's had experience doing this, that she's been blind for a lot longer than you have, and she had to learn how to do things for herself a long time ago and she'll teach you how to do it, too. You told her that was a load of bunk and it didn't matter because the cull squads would be coming for you any day now. She laughed at you and said the cull squads can have you when they pry you from her cold, dead hands.
You're starting to think she was serious about that. Tavros, Gamzee and Sollux have come to visit a few times since they discovered you; Gamzee has forgotten your new disability at least twice. But Terezi has practically moved in. Aside from a few trips back to her hive for supplies, she's stayed here ever since she found you, no matter how badly you treated her.
You remember how you ripped into her that second night she was here. She was just trying to help, and you were being such a douche to her. You hope the incident is forgotten now, because you didn't mean any of those things you said about her.
You really ought to apologize for that sometime.
"Dinner's ready!" she calls from below, followed up by that bellow your lusus uses when it wants your attention.
"What are we having?"
"Fish," she replies.
"You want something else, take it up with crabman, he's the one having to hunt for three!" Your lusus roars in agreement.
You sigh as you rise to your feet and feel your way to your door. From there, you follow the wall to the stairs leading down. You carefully take a step, and again, and
You miss the stair entirely, sending you falling face-first. Your nose smashes into the edge of a stair and you flip over, as if the pain hadn't been enough to completely disorient you. You finally come to a stop on the floor. Your shirt is ripped, one of your shoes are off and God-knows-where, your nose is bloodied, you--
Your motherfucking nose is bloodied
And Terezi will be out here any second
You start to panic. You think maybe if you can get back upstairs you can wash your face, stop the bleeding, but you try to stand and your left ankle gives out and you howl in pain. The damn thing's easily sprained, if not fucking broken.
she's going to find out
"Karkat?! Are you okay?!"
she's going to know your secret
"Karkat, where are-- oh my God, Karkat!"
"Oh no, I warned you about stairs, I told you to be careful! Are you okay?"
she's going to hate you
"Karkat, what's wrong? Are you hurt?"
don't let her find out don't let her see
"No, get back, stay away!"
"What's the matter? What's wrong?"
"I'm bleeding, I'm fucking bleeding--"
"Then let me help--"
"No, you can't-- don't you get it--"
"What is there to get? You're hurt--"
"Terezi, get the fuck away before I--"
"Stop being such a fucking wriggler and--"
And then she gasps, and for one moment, you are unable to say anything, or move, or so much as breathe, because now, you know the true meaning of terror.
>Terezi: Discover Karkat's true blood color.
You aren't sure you picked up the right scent at first; maybe there's a stray red object somewhere in Karkat's livingblock that gave you a false positive, because there's no way this is true. It simply can't be.
But you move Karkat's hands away from his bloodied face, which takes no effort as he's petrified with a fear that comes off him in waves by this point, and you inhale deeply to take in the scent of Karkat's blood, and
You had always been curious as to why he kept it a secret, and you'd always been eager for a chance to find out. But not like this. Not like this.
Suddenly, you understand everything. Everything. All of the things. Every last fucking one of them. Why he doesn't trust you, or Sollux, or any of his friends. Why he's so defensive. Why he hates himself so much.
Why this happened.
"Karkat. You... you blinded yourself on purpose. Didn't you."
That had to be what happened. This was no accident. His eyes had to have started changing color and he must have panicked. You realize with a start that Sollux was right.
He's shaking and breathing so hard. His lusus stands by him, watching you carefully. You can't read beyond the horror in Karkat's expression; he never intended for you to discover this particular bit of information about him. He never intended anyone to find out.
He manages to breathe the word. It's so quiet that you nearly miss it. "You hate me now, don't you." It's not a question. He says it like it's a foregone conclusion, as if there can be no other possibility.
"Karkat." His name is on your lips in a hushed whisper, because this new bit of information has left you otherwise speechless. You know his greatest secret now, one that could kill him if it got out. What did he ask? If you hated him now?
How could you possibly hate this boy?
Your arms are around him before you even know what you're doing. He flinches (instinctively, you are certain now), unsure what to make of your gesture, before he gradually returns the hug. Maybe he's crying a bit. Maybe you are too. You honestly can't tell.
It occurs to you that this is why he's so angry all the time. He can't allow himself to cry, or blush, or be happy, or do anything that might out him. Anger is the only way he can express emotion that doesn't broadcast his status as a mutant to the world. That just makes you cling to him even harder.
You rub his back, hoping it'll help calm him down. Hoping it'll calm you down. His candy red blood is probably staining your shoulder and you don't even care, it'll wash out and you brought extra shirts and none of that even matters right now.
"You don't..." He's trying to say something and he can't find the words. Maybe he can't bring himself to say it. He probably expected you to flip your shit, but you've never truly given a damn about the hemospectrum. Society would say his very existence is a crime, that he should be culled to prevent him from ever contaminating future generations, but you can't fault him for simply existing.
Maybe what is lawful isn't always what is right.
Not that you ever considered abandoning him, but you have to help him now.
"You don't have to stay here, if you don't want to," he finally manages to spit out. You smile at him, knowing full well he can't see it.
"I'll stay as long as you want me to. Do you want me to leave?" It's an honest question. You really will leave if he really does want you to.
Of course, you already know what his answer will be. "...No. I don't."
You take his hand and help him up, then sling his arm over your shoulder when he winces as he tries to put weight on his left leg.
"Come on. Let's get you cleaned up."
This is easily my favorite bit of this fic so far.
Chapter 6: Day 8
In which the ghost in the shell discovers the situation
It's been a while! And by "a while" I mean "three months." Sorry about that. Real life kind of decided to shit everywhere for a while and for a long time I was pretty sure I was going to just straight-up scrap this pesterlog. But I figured out a way to salvage it, and it's much better than the original version for sure.
This is a really short update, especially given how long it's been! But I will try to keep up, I promise. I won't let this story die! Someone has to write Karkat/Terezi stories, after all
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
-- apocalypseAverted [AA] began trolling gallowsCalibrator [GC] --
AA: please give karkat my c0nd0lences
AA: i w0uld d0 s0 myself but he hasnt been 0n tr0llian f0r
AA: a week n0w i think
AA: i h0pe he is s0mething at least resembling well s00n
GC: OH H3LL
GC: WHO TOLD YOU? W4S 1T 3QU1US?
GC: H3 PROM1S3D, D4MN1T
GC: 1LL S33 H1M H4NG3D FOR TH1S
GC: W41T NO H3D PROB4BLY 3NJOY TH4T
AA: hehe pr0bably!
AA: n0 equius h00ked me up t0 his grubt0p to upgrade my 0s
AA: and i kind 0f accidentally scanned his entire hard drive
AA: including his tr0llian l0gs
GC: HOW DO YOU 3V3N 4CC1D3NT4LLY DO TH4T
AA: terezi i am a gh0st inside 0f a r0b0t
AA: i can pr0cess appr0ximately 10.25 TB 0f data per sec0nd but i 0nly have the reflexes and reacti0n time 0f a n0rmal tr0ll
AA: its n0t like i meant 0r even wanted t0 sn00p ar0und his c0mputing device
AA: d0 y0u have any idea h0w much digital musclebeast art that man has c0llected 0ver the sweeps
AA: i kn0w m0re ab0ut the anat0my 0f th0se creatures n0w than i ever wanted t0 0_0
GC: TH3N 1 SUPPOS3 TH3 CR1M3 1TS3LF W1LL S3RV3 4S 1TS OWN PUN1SHM3NT
GC: BUT 1 DONT L1K3 HOW 34SY 1T W4S TO 4CC3SS H1S LOGS
GC: WH4T 1F SOM3ON3 H4CKS 1NTO TH3 D3V1C3 4ND F1NDS TH3M
GC: 1 DONT L1K3 TH1S
AA: d0nt w0rry, i havent t0ld any0ne else
AA: n0r will i
AA: and i deleted the l0gs 0nce i realized what they c0ntained s0 n0 0ne else will find them
GC: 4LMOST 3V3RYON3 KNOWS NOW >:/
GC: 4ND 1 D3F1N1T3LY DONT W4NT VR1SK4 TO KNOW
GC: 1F 1 F1ND H3R SNOOP1NG 4ROUND H3R3 LOOK1NG FOR 4N 34SY M34L FOR H3R LUSUS, 1
GC: 1 DONT KNOW WH4T 1LL DO
GC: 1 DONT L1K3 TH1S 4R4D1A
GC: 1 DONT L1K3 TH1S 4T 4LL
GC: P3OPL3 K33P F1ND1NG OUT 4BOUT K4RK4T
GC: 1TS SUPPOS3D TO B3 4 S3CR3T
GC: 1TS MY R3SPONS1B1L1TY 4ND 1M B4R3LY 3V3N 1N CONTROL 4NYMOR3
GC: 1 DONT W4NT H1M TO B3 CULL3D >:[
AA: y0u care ab0ut him
AA: 0f c0urse y0u w0uldnt want him culled
AA: neither d0 i
GC: 1M TRY1NG TO H3LP H1M
GC: TRY1NG TO T34CH H1M HOW TO S33 L1K3 M3
GC: BUT 1TS NOT WORK1NG 4ND W3R3 RUNN1NG OUT OF T1M3
GC: 1 DONT KNOW WH4T 1M DO1NG WRONG
AA: i wish i knew terezi
AA: i h0pe y0u get thr0ugh t0 him
AA: g00d luck
GC: TH4NKS 4R4D1A
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling apocalypseAverted [AA] --
I told you. Really short. Also, hints at a backstory that I probably won't get into because when it comes right down to it, I'm not that good of a writer. I tend to overdo it a little when coming up with alternate timelines like this one, I've noticed!
I'm not gonna stop though, I will see this story through to its conclusion, I promise.
Chapter 7: Day 10
In which tempers flare.
I keep swearing I'm going to finish this, and before I know it it's been a month since the last time I've posted a new chapter.
One day, this will be finished. Anyway! I think this part is as good as it's going to get. I've been looking at it for weeks now and I can't think of anything to add to it, and I figure that's probably a sign to just go ahead and post the damn thing.
So here it is!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
>Terezi: Try something different.
"I thought we'd try something different today, Karkat, since this doesn't seem to be working."
"About damn time. I'm getting sick of filling my respiratory bladders with chalk dust."
When you went back to your hive for more supplies yesterday, you picked up something that you thought might help to jump-start the process of teaching Karkat. You'll have to wean him off them eventually, once he gets the hang of it, but with any luck, it'll help him with starting to associate colors with scents.
You pull out the pack of crayons and your notepad, and think for a second about what you want to draw, before deciding on a picture of Karkat. For an instant, you consider using the red crayon, but Karkat is understandably very sensitive about his blood color, and neither of you have brought it up again since you found out. You sketch a quick drawing of him with your grey crayon instead; messy hair, angry expression, nubby horns...
Blank, solid-color eyes. Whoops, you made yourself sad again.
You put the thought out of your mind. You're here to help him learn to cope with it, after all. You tear the page out of your notebook and hand it to him. "Here, tell me what this smells like."
He grabs the page from you and brings his face close to it before inhaling deeply. "Paper."
"You're holding it backwards."
"Oh. Shit, hold on." He turns the page around and sniffs it again. "Paper. And wax. This is stupid." He's about to crumple it up and toss it behind him when he hesitates for a moment.
"Wait, is that..." He brings it back up to his face again and lets the scent of the drawing linger in his olfactory chambers.
"Gunpowder. It's fucking gunpowder. Wait, does that mean I'm finally fucking doing it?" His face lights up for a moment, and you don't really want to tell him he's cheating, but it wouldn't be fair.
"No, sorry. I'm using my scented crayons. I... I thought it might help you put smells to colors."
"Oh. Okay" He can't hide his disappointment, but he tries. "Well, if you think this'll help me smell the world, I guess we've got no choice, right?"
He holds the drawing to his face again. You ask him, "What color is it?"
"...Black, I guess? Or maybe dark grey?"
"Right, grey. Now for the hard part: tell me what I drew."
He moves the sketch around, tilting, rotating, trying to figure it out. His nose runs along the lines of crayon on the page as he attempts to put the drawing in his mind's eye. "I think it's... it's a drawing of a troll. I think."
"Good! Who is it?"
"It's me, obviously. You wouldn't have drawn any of the others in grey."
You sigh at him. "No, you're supposed to tell from smelling the drawing! Forget it, we'll try another, okay?"
A knock at the door interrupts your teaching session.
When Terezi opens the door to Karkat's hive, you open your mouth to speak but she quickly clamps her hand over your mouth. "I'm trying to teach him, don't say anything and give yourself away. Come in, though, I think you can help."
You don't get very far inside before Karkat greets you. "Hey, Sollux."
You exchange puzzled expressions with Terezi. "How did you know it was me?"
"It obviously wasn't Tavros, his footsteps clang so loudly I can't fucking hear myself think, and it wasn't Gamzee because that guy has the most irregular goddamn gait I've ever heard. You're the only other person who knows about me, so it had to be you."
Terezi takes a step back and faces the wall, grasping her arm behind her back. This is strange, even for her.
You have to ask. "...TZ? Does anyone else know?" Her jaw drops as she mouths "SHUT. UP." at you silently.
"Oh for fuck's sake, who did you tell?" In any other situation, you might have gone along with her and let her explain, but understandably, you aren't exactly thinking clearly about this.
"Ha ha ha, you two are hilarious. Joke time's over now, right? Right?"
Neither you nor Terezi say anything. You are certain she's hiding something now. Karkat starts laughing nervously.
"Okay, you got me! You punked ol' Karkat pretty good there! Nice work, everybody, high fives all around!"
"...oh my god. You told someone. This is not a drill, this is an actual goddamn bona-fide breach of fucking security."
Karkat inhales sharply through his nostrils. "Let's take fucking stock of this situation and pray to whatever horrible deity might be listening that it isn't going down the load gaper as fast as I think it might be. Who knows about my blindness, Terezi?"
"...Nepeta," she replies. "But that wasn't my fault, she grilled Tavros and he caved under the pressure." You're pretty sure this is okay. Nepeta is unlikely to do anything that could end in Karkat being culled.
"Okay. Okay," Karkat responds. "Not a big deal. Unless--- fuck. Terezi." He faces Terezi, fear still clearly visible in his blind eyes. "She didn't tell Equius, did she?"
"No," she responds.
You breathe a sigh of relief.
Wait, what?! "Equius knows?!"
"Oh shut up, Sollux, you were all for telling him first thing when we found Karkat like this!" she retorts.
"Yeah but KK obviously didn't want me to, so I fucking didn't! Jegus, TZ!"
"Shit. I might as well fucking kill myself now and save myself some time," Karkat remarks between bouts of panic. "Goddamnit, Terezi, this isn't good!"
"It's totally not a big deal, I promise. Aradia and Nepeta--"
"You told Aradia, too?!" Karkat interrupts. "What, did you just open a memo called EXTRA EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT, KARKAT BLIND AS A FUCKING FLYING SQUEAKBEST and call everyone in?"
"...Like I was saying, they won't tell anyone, and I kind of bullied Equius into secrecy. Though I'd rather not have to do that again anytime soon, ugh." She shudders a bit at remembering it.
"That's bullshit, TZ! The first time anyone asks him about it, that sweaty asshole's gonna drop the ball and you know it!" You cannot believe she is not more upset about this.
"Equius is the last fucking person I wanted to know about this, except maybe fucking Vriska. How the hell can you be so calm about this?"
"He would have found out eventually, you know Nepeta can't keep anything from him. Actually, you should probably thank her, because she got him to start working on a set of prosthetic eyes. And before you start ranting about that, she said they were for me, so at least she's trying to help!"
"A lot of fucking good it's doing! At this rate, half of Alternia is gonna know by this time tomorrow!" He gets up and starts pacing, and somehow manages to avoid smacking into any walls.
"I'm as good as culled. Fuck, fuck, fuck! Why the hell did I think this was ever a good idea?"
"Getting help, or blinding yourself in the first place? Because staring at the sun like an idiot was stupid, but I'm starting to think trying to help you is a fucking waste of time!"
You aren't sure how to respond to that. "You... wait... KK did this to himself?"
Karkat has this look on his face, it's something like horror and anger and shock all at once. "What. The Fuck. Did you just say. I trusted you, goddamnit! What the hell, Terezi, what the hell?!"
"You... you said it was an accident."
"Not now, Sollux, I can't take your useless ass breaking down after all of this, too."
"KK, why? Why would you do something like that?" Then the realization hits you. "Oh. Oh no."
"Sollux, don't, I swear if you--"
"No no, this is all my fault, I was angry and I said--"
"Damnit man, we have bigger problems to worry about than you being depressed about shit you've said! Which, by the way, spoiler alert: didn't fucking matter because I would have done it anyway, so shut the hell up and help me figure out how I'm going to get out of this."
"Oh, now you want my help, after deciding to take a joke completely seriously was a good idea! It's always about you and your problems, isn't it, KK? I see how it is!"
"This time, yeah, it kind of is, because I can't fucking see, bulgeprince! Now they've got two reasons to cull me. See that?! TWO. I did that just for you! I figured that'd be right up your fucking alley, nookmunch!"
"Oh my God, what am I doing?" You cannot believe you're being such a jerk about this.
As you pace and lament about being twice the shithead Karkat ever was or will be, he leans against a wall before slumping down against it and addressing Terezi. "Why not just fucking tell him about my blood, too? Why not just fucking skip telling everyone and cull me right the fuck now and get it over with? I've got a few sickles in my respiteblock, pick one and be done with it!"
"Do it yourself," she answers coldly. "You clearly don't want me here anymore. I'm through with helping you."
Before either of you can say anything to stop her, she walks to the door, exits Karkat's hive, and slams the door behind her. You are too stunned to continue feeling sorry for yourself.
Neither of you speak again for a while.
You're in the middle of picking up the art supplies Terezi left behind when Karkat breaks the silence. "I really fucked that one up, didn't I?"
"Yep, I'd say so, KK."
"Fffffffffuuuuuuuuuuck. Maybe I deserve to be culled. Clearly I have no business being part of society."
"Don't say that, KK. We'll figure something out. Maybe EQ will come through, or maybe if we can get FF in power quick enough it won't even be a problem anymore."
"Well, excuse me if I decide not to hope for a shitty deus ex machina to get me out of this one." He decaptchalogues his husktop and sets it on his lap.
"Get your bifurcated ass over here and help me get on Trollian. I've got to fix this mess."
You wipe your eyes again and try to rationalize giving up. Maybe if you keep at it long enough, you can convince yourself that what you did was right.
Stupid Karkat. Stupid fucking Karkat. Who the hell does that jerk think he is? You've been there trying to help him to keep him from getting his stupid ass culled, and he just yells at you.
Yeah, you told Equius, but you were trying to make the best of a bad situation, and if he can help and save Karkat's life, isn't that a good thing?
No, you know what? Fuck Karkat. Guy's a douche. You'd be better off without him.
Fuck, what are you saying? You don't want anything bad to happen to him. You definitely don't want the empire to kill him. You don't think you could live with yourself if he were culled because you didn't help him. He's your friend, and a damn good one. Yeah, he's a total bulge sometimes, but you do really like him, because...
Why? You used to think he was interesting because there was that air of mystery about him, that secret of his that he guarded with his life that you just had to know. But you know what that is now. What's so intriguing about Karkat now?
It suddenly dawns on you that he let you leave. You know his secret, he knew you were furious with him, and he did nothing to try to stop you. Maybe he trusts you that much? But why would he?
Oh, of course. You didn't reject him when you found out. In fact, you probably reacted better than he'd ever dared to hope. And holy shit, did that particular revelation ever shed some light on why he is like he is.
What is this? It's been maybe a few hours since your fight, and already you've mentally forgiven him. You really do care about him. He is your friend after all.
Maybe... maybe more than that?
Is this what kismesitude feels like? But you don't hate him. You don't think you could hate Karkat Vantas, at this point.
Maybe you're falling into pity with him?
You pity Karkat. You certainly hadn't expected to come to that conclusion when you stormed out of his hive.
You definitely can't give up on him now. But he probably doesn't want to see you again, after everything that just happened. You really fucked this one up, didn't you?
You'll have to figure this one out.
We're nearing the end of what I had written already and am just proofreading and editing based off the suggestions of my proofreaders. Two more chapters and I'll be writing entirely fresh material. I will try to keep the time between chapters from stretching out into months.
By the way, props to lantadyme for proofreading the latest revision, even if it was forever ago, and to cephied_variable for taking a look at one of the EARLIEST revisions. You have no idea how bad this story was before they took a look at it.
Chapter 8: Day 13
In which Karkat seeks assistance from a certain jade-blooded friend.
I meant to get around to editing and posting this sooner than I did, but
real life keeps happening
at least this time it was something really good :D
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
>Karkat: Enlist aid.
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling grimAuxiliatrix [GA] --
CG: KANAYA? ARE YOU THERE?
CG: WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN FOR THE LAST THREE DAYS?
CG: I NEED YOUR HELP. I FUCKED UP AND DID *TWO* INCREDIBLY STUPID THINGS AND I CAN'T FIX THEM BY MYSELF.
CG: AND YOU'RE NOT EVEN THERE AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHEN YOU'LL EVER BE BACK
CG: GODDAMNIT, WHY DO I EVEN TRY.
GA: Sorry Karkat I Am Here
GA: Ive Been Rather Busy Lately
GA: Please Accept My Apologies
GA: I Would Have Come As Soon As I Heard My Computing Device Beeping But I Have A Guest And Ive Been Tending To Her Injuries
GA: She Has Several Cuts And Scrapes
GA: Not To Mention A Rather Bad Case Of Sunburn From Travelling Through The Desert Surrounding My Hive
CG: OKAY. GIVE ME A MINUTE.
CG: FUCK, THIS DOESN'T FEEL RIGHT.
CG: VRISKA CAN NEVER KNOW WHAT I'M ABOUT TO TELL YOU, OKAY?
GA: Karkat You Know You Can Trust Me Right
GA: I Mean I Cannot Help You Unless You Tell Me What The Problem Is
GA: Vriska May Be My Moirail But You Are A Close Friend Of Mine
GA: I Promise I Shall Keep Whatever Is Bothering You Between Us
CG: NO I
CG: I KNOW
CG: I MEAN FUCK, YOU'RE PROBABLY THE SANEST OUT OF ALL OF US.
CG: I'M NOT SAYING I DON'T TRUST YOU. I KNOW YOU WON'T TELL HER.
CG: I GUESS I'M JUST BEING PARANOID. THIS IS SOME HEAVY SHIT, OKAY?
CG: THE LAST THING I NEED IS TO STARE DOWN THE JAWS OF THAT GODDAMNED SPIDER.
CG: WELL METAPHORICALLY ANYWAY
CG: SEEING HOW I CAN'T VERY WELL FUCKING SEE ANYMORE.
CG: HAHAHA DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?
CG: OH FUCKING HELL, CULL ME NOW.
GA: What Do You Mean
GA: What Happened
GA: Are You Ok
CG: I'M REALLY NOT
CG: I CAN'T FUCKING SEE. SOLLUX IS HERE, HELPING MY STUPID BLIND SELF DO THINGS LIKE CHAT ON TROLLIAN AND NOT FALL DOWN THE GODDAMN STAIRS.
CG: TEREZI WAS HELPING ME, TOO. THE KEY WORD HERE IS "WAS", BECAUSE I RUINED EVERYTHING BY BEING A RAGING SHITHEEL AND NOW SHE'S MAD AT ME AND MY BEST CHANCE OF MAKING IT OUT OF THIS UNCULLED IS GONE.
CG: I AM SO UTTERLY SCREWED AND I DON'T FUCKING KNOW WHAT TO DO ANYMORE.
CG: WHY AM I EVEN TELLING YOU ALL OF THIS
CG: IT'S NOT LIKE YOU'LL BE ABLE TO DO ANYTHING.
CG: AND IF VRISKA FINDS OUT THEN I WON'T EVEN HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE DRONES
CG: I'LL JUST FUCKING MARCH MYSELF OFF A CLIFF AND INTO THE THING'S THROAT I GUESS.
CG: FORGET I SAID ANYTHING.
CG: SORRY TO BOTHER YOU.
GA: Dont Go
GA: Karkat Of Course I Will Help You
GA: Please Tell Me You Are Still There
CG: no, he left.
CG: or triied two.
CG: he2 ju2t kiind of 2macked intwo the wall and cur2ed hiim2elf before fiinally makiing hi2 way down2taiir2.
CG: waiit, hold on for two 2econd2.
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] logged off --
-- twinArmageddons [TA] logged on --
-- twinArmageddons [TA] began trolling grimAuxiliatrix [GA] --
TA: there we go.
GA: Is He Really Blind Sollux
TA: ye2, he wa2n't kiiddiing about that.
TA: and he really diid pii22 off tz 2omethiing fiierce.
TA: 2he 2tayed here wiith hiim, ii dont thiink 2he even left hii2 hiive after we found hiim liike thii2.
TA: tz wa2 goiing two teach hiim how two 2ee agaiin or 2ome 2hiit. ii don't really under2tand quiite how 2he doe2 iit but 2he wanted two teach kk how two do iit two.
TA: but they had a fiight and 2he left a few day2 ago.
TA: and 2he ha2n't been back or talked two eiither of u2 onliine 2ince, eiither.
TA: kk won't talk two her becau2e he thiinks maybe 2he was riight two giive up on hiim
TA: and ii gue22 he doe2n't want two 2addle her wiith hi2 bull2hiit.
TA: kk ii2 my be2t friiend
TA: and ii don't have a chance iin hell of helpiing hiim before the patrol2.
GA: Should I Come Over
TA: that would be niice, ii need two me22 wiith my lu2u2 2oon.
TA: and ii don't want two leave kk here by him2elf.
TA: he 2wear2 he'll be alriight but
TA: you know
TA: he'2 fuckiing bliind riight now.
GA: Oh But I Have A Guest And
GA: I Do Not Think I Am At Liberty To Discuss Why But I Do Not Think It Would Be Prudent To Leave Her Here By Herself
GA: She Has A Very Good Reason To Not Want To Be Alone
GA: So It Appears I Cannot Assist In Person Unless You Want Me To Drag Along An Injured Troll As Well
GA: I Do Not Like Feeling This
GA: To Help Karkat In His Time Of Need
TA: maybe you could get tz two talk two you, kn?
TA: 2he won't re2pond two any of our me22age2 but maybe 2he would talk two you.
GA: Of Course
GA: I Hadnt Thought Of That
GA: Please Take Care Of Him Sollux
GA: I Will Do What I Can
TA: thank2, kn.
-- grimAuxiliatrix [GA] ceased trolling twinArmageddons [TA] --
No way, there's nothing particularly ashen regarding what you're about to do, it's just a bit of platonic mediation. Believe it or not, there is a difference! And in any case, you doubt your friends' hatred for one another runs quite that deep, if indeed it exists at all.
You should probably get on with it instead of trying to rationalize it to yourself, though.
-- grimAuxiliatrix [GA] began trolling gallowsCalibrator [GC] --
GA: Hello Terezi
GC: TH1S 1S 4BOUT K4RK4T
GC: 1SNT 1T
GC: DONT B3 SURPR1S3D
GC: 1M NOT
GC: 1 TH1NK 1F H3D H4D 4 CHO1C3 4T TH3 B3G1NN1NG H3 WOULD H4V3 TOLD YOU
GC: 4ND PROB4BLY ONLY YOU
GC: H3H3 1TS OK4Y
GC: 1 KNOW K4RK4T TOO W3LL
GC: 1 C4NT S4Y 1 BL4M3 H1M >:[
GA: How Do You Mean
GC: 1F YOUR3 T4LK1NG TO M3 4BOUT K4RK4T NOW
GC: H3 MUST H4V3 TOLD YOU H1MS3LF 4BOUT WH4T H4PP3N3D TO H1M
GA: Yes He Did Explain His Rather Extraordinary Circumstances
GA: Not The Particulars
GA: But He Did Tell Me Of His Newfound Disability
GC: W3LL TH3N
GC: H3 PROB4BLY 4LSO TOLD YOU 4BOUT HOW 1 GOT M4D 4T H1M 4ND STORM3D OUT WH3N H3 H4D 4 P3RF3CTLY GOOD R34SON TO B3 4NGRY W1TH M3
GC: 4ND HOW 1 PR3TTY MUCH M4D3 4N 4SS OF MYS3LF
GA: Not So Much About That No
GC: W3LL 1TS TRU3
GC: 4ND 1V3 TR13D TO T4LK TO H1M S1NC3 TH3N
GC: BUT 1 C4NT BR1NG MYS3LF TO 4CTU4LLY S3ND TH3 M3SS4G3
GC: 1 G4V3 UP ON H1M WH3N H3 N33D3D M3 MOST K4N4Y4
GC: TH3R3S NO W4Y H3 W4NTS TO H34R FROM M3 DUR1NG TH3 L1TTL3 T1M3 H3 H4S L3FT >:[
GA: What Do You Mean By
GA: Gave Up On Him
GC: YOU KNOW HOW 1 L34RN3D TO G3T 4ROUND MY BL1NDN3SS, R1GHT
GC: 1 W4NT3D TO T34CH K4RK4T HOW TO DO TH3 S4M3
GC: BUT 1T W4SNT GO1NG SO W3LL
GC: SO MUCH T1M3 W4ST3D 4ND W3 M4D3 SO L1TTL3 PROGR3SS
GC: NOTH1NG W4S WORK1NG 4ND 1 DONT G3T 1T
GC: 1 WAS TRY1NG TO DO 1T TH3 S4M3 W4Y 1 L34RN3D BUT 1T W4SNT WORK1NG
GA: How Did You Learn Anyway
GC: MY LUSUS T4UGHT M3
GA: You Mean The One That Has Yet To Hatch
GC: SH3 T4UGHT M3 TH4T IF YOUR 3Y3S DONT WORK, YOU H4V3 TO R3W1R3 YOUR OTH3R S3NS3S TO M4K3 UP FOR 1T
GC: SO 1NST34D OF US1NG MY 3Y3S TO S33
GC: 1 US3 MY NOS3 1NST34D
GC: 3V3RY COLOR H4S 4 SC3NT 4ND FL4VOR 1F YOU R34LLY TRY TO F1ND 1T
GC: 1TS JUST TH4T MOST TROLLS DONT, OR N3V3R N33D TO
GC: BUT 3V3N THOUGH W3 PR4CT1C3D 3V3RY D4Y, K4RK4T JUST COULDNT G3T 1T
GA: How Did It All Begin For You
GC: 1 TOLD YOU
GC: TH3 N1GHT 4FT3R 1 W4S BL1ND3D MY LUSUS T4LK3D TO M3 1N MY DR34MS
GC: 4ND TOLD M3 WH4T 1 H4D TO DO TO M4K3 UP FOR LOS1NG MY V1S1ON
GA: And That Was It
GC: WH4T 4R3 YOU G3TT1NG 4T >:?
GA: I Do Not Mean To Sound Rude But
GA: Being Able To Substitute Smell For Sight Doesnt Seem Like Something One Can Simply Train Themselves To Do Regardless Of The Levels Of Effort Involved
GA: Do You Think Its Possible That Something Your Lusus Did Was The Catalyst For Your Ability
GC: K4N4Y4 YOUR3 4 G3N1US
GC: WHY D1DNT 1 TH1NK OF TH4T
GC: BL4R 1TS 4LL SO OBV1OUS NOW
GC: 1 H4V3 TO T4LK TO K4RK4T NOW
GC: 4ND G3T H1M TO COM3 OV3R SOMEHOW
GC: H3 C4N B3 M4D 4T M3 4LL H3 L1K3S
GC: BUT 1F TH1S WORKS 1TLL B3 TOT4LLY WORTH 1T
GC: TH4NKS K4N4Y4
GA: It Was Nothing I Assure You
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling grimAuxiliatrix [GA] --
You lean back and bask in the glow of your handiwork. Even if it was completely accidental, you feel pretty good about this turn of events. You start to stand up to go back to tending to your wounded guest when your computer beeps again.
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling grimAuxiliatrix [GA] --
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling grimAuxiliatrix [GA] --
Oh, come on.
>Terezi: Make amends.
You aren't sure if you can. Not over Trollian, anyway. No, this seems like the sort of thing you ought to do in person. But you have to get him here somehow. Might as well troll him directly, it's not like he can read it if he's by himself, and at least that way you're sure you'll get whoever's staying with him at the moment.
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
You cannot do it. You cannot talk to Karkat. You can't, you can't. He's definitely still mad at you and you're just going to make things worse.
No, stop thinking like that. You must. If he is to survive the next patrol, you have to, for his sake.
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
GC: OR SOLLUX OR G4MZ33 OR WHO3V3R 1S 4CTU4LLY R34D1NG TH1S
GC: BR1NG K4RK4T TO MY H1V3 TOMORROW
GC: 1LL T3LL YOU WH4TS GO1NG ON WH3N YOU G3T H3R3
GC: DO WH4T3V3R YOU H4V3 TO TO M4K3 H1M GO
GC: TH1S 1S 3XTR3M3LY 1MPORT4NT, 1TS TH3 ON3 TH1NG 1 C4N TH1NK OF TH4T C4N H3LP H1M FOR SUR3
GC: 1M SORRY
GC: FOR W4LK1NG OUT ON H1M, 1 M34N
GC: DONT T3LL H1M TH4T THOUGH
GC: 1 W4NT TO T3LL H1M, 1 M34N 1 W1LL T3LL H1M
GC: ONC3 1 S33 H1M 1N P3RSON 4G41N
GC: S33 YOU H3R3, BOTH OF YOU
GC: 1 HOP3 >:[
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
Stick around for the mini-chapter immediately after this!
Chapter 9: Day 13.5
In which Kanaya's guest wakes up.
>Be Kanaya's guest.
Your eyes slowly flutter open, your body still reeling from the events of the last day or so. At least, you think it's been that long. Being unconcious tends to ruin one's perception of time.
You briefly panic a little once you realize you are in unfamiliar surroundings. For a fleeting moment, you are completely unsure as to your location, and you wonder if someone managed to capture you while you were passed out.
You realize your enemies would probably opt to simply kill you instead, around the same time you figure out where you are. The room you are in is strangely familiar, and then it hits you, you have been here before.
Kanaya Maryam. Of course. She's the only one crazy enough to live out in the desert.
You swing your legs over the side of the recuperacoon and wobble a bit before finding your footing. You take a look at yourself; your face, chest, and most of your left arm are covered in an unsightly burn that stings to the touch. Most of your cuts have not yet healed, and are still painful. You carefully towel off the slime and discover your clothes folded neatly in a chair by the recuperacoon.
>Guest: Find Kanaya.
If you remember the layout of Kanaya's hive, you remember her respiteblock being directly above where you are now. She should probably know you're awake and able to walk, so you decide finding her would be for the best.
Her door is open. You call for her, and again, but get no response. You enter her respiteblock; the windows are open and her computing device is still on. You can see her tending to her plants outside.
Oh well, you can talk to her later. Might as well use her computer. You need to see if you've still got any allies left, and if you do, whether or not they're available. You haven't forgotten the trouble that led to your current predicament, after all.
Looks like Miss Maryam forgot to sign out of Trollian.
You can't resist taking a look at the recent logs.
CG: VRISKA CAN NEVER KNOW WHAT I'M ABOUT TO TELL YOU, OKAY?
Oh, a secret! Those are always fun--
CG: SEEING HOW I CAN'T VERY WELL FUCKING SEE ANYMORE.
Oh wow. That is... kind of a sort of huge deal. Karkat is blind now?
Your mind immediately suggests a terrible course of action. But you know Karkat. You can't do that, he's your friend, in a sort of black way. And he's under Terezi's protection, too. There's no way.
But they're not speaking now. If you move quick enough...
No, you can't. That's horrible, that's despicable, even for you. The Marquise has never slain anyone who at least stood a fighting chance of defending themselves. There is no question, this is playing dirty. If you do this, there's no going back.
But if you don't, there's no way you can ever go back home, because you can't placate her without providing her a solid meal now. And if you can't go back home, your enemies will certainly slaughter you, and God knows you've made so many of those over the sweeps that losing her protection is not something you can afford right now.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Your mind is made up.
You are VRISKA SERKET, and to placate your lusus, you are going to kidnap Karkat Vantas.
Chapter 10: Day 14
In which Terezi enacts her last-ditch plan to save Karkat.
>Karkat: Refuse to go along with Terezi's shenanigans.
"Wait, KK, you mean--"
"Yeah, we're going. Come on."
Part of you is surprised he's this eager to see her again. Karkat has always tried to salvage his pride when he could, even when there's nothing left of it. But on the other hand, perhaps even he recognizes that his very survival may depend on Terezi.
When you came back to his hive, after going back to your own hivestem, he immediately led you to his husktop and demanded to know who's been messaging him since yesterday and what the contents of said messages were. You rolled your eyes, checked it for him, and resolved to write a text-to-speech grub module for him later. When you said it was Terezi, asking him to come to her hive, his eyes instinctively widened.
You told him he didn't have to do this. There had to be another way, a sure thing instead of relying on what you amounted to a total crapshoot, like maybe NP really could keep EQ in check and make him design a pair of robot eyes.
He simply insisted that he had to try.
Now you're leading him through the surrounding forest on foot, steering him away from the musclebeast hunting grounds, guiding him to the blind girl's tree hive. Karkat doesn't know she wants to apologize, as you decided to go with her request to not tell him that particular bit of her message, but you're starting to think he might actually beat her to it.
>Sollux and Karkat: Meet with Terezi.
She takes a careful step from behind a nearby tree as you and Karkat pass by her hive's elevator. She approaches quietly, slowly, deliberately. She wants to do this on her own terms, so you decide against calling out to her and alerting Karkat to her presence.
Not that her attempt at stealth stops him. She takes a step and his head tilts upward, immediately aware of her.
"You came." She says it in a hushed tone, almost a whisper, barely audible from where you stand and like she can't believe he's here. Obviously, Terezi hadn't expected Karkat to actually come.
She breaks the silence a moment later. "Come on, you two. We have to try this."
You and Karkat follow her deeper into the forest, having some slight difficulty in keeping up, because she knows the way to wherever you're going by heart, and you are trying to lead your blind friend through strange territory. The clearing isn't that far from Terezi's hive, though, so you and Karkat aren't too far behind when you find it.
You're kind of speechless when you first take a look at it. It's just like Terezi described it to you sweeps ago, but until now, you weren't sure if her story was the entire truth; just how would a lususless wriggler make it out of the caverns by herself, anyway? You thought it had to be something she made up to make herself sound tougher. But even the broken mother grub skull lying on the ground next to the oversized egg and destroyed scale (you'd thought that scale was just another creepy story bored wrigglers tossed around on the Alternet, but...) suggests she was telling the truth about what happened the same night your computer exploded last sweep.
You shake your head and focus on the matter at hand. If Terezi hadn't been lying about her lusus after all, if she has really gone her entire life with her lusus not even having been born yet, then maybe she was telling the truth about it teaching her to taste colors from within the egg. And if that's true...
Suddenly, you understand what she's going to try.
>Terezi: Lead Karkat to the egg.
You take Karkat's hand and utter a single word. "Come."
He doesn't say anything, simply allowing you to guide him. His hand is warm in yours and maybe you're blushing a bit but you have to try this, and the sooner, the better.
"Where are we going?" he finally manages to ask.
"To my lusus," you answer.
"You mean the one that never hatched?"
"Yeah. If anyone can help you, it's her."
"But--- oh." And now, you think, he gets it.
When you went blind, your unborn lusus, once she shook off Tavros's and ultimately Vriska's control, immediately telepathically contacted you, guiding you back to the safety of your hive and teaching you what you needed to do to make up for your lost sight. She helped you master an alternate way of observing the world around you. However, clearly you are far more susceptible to psychic suggestion than Karkat is; you have your suspicions as to why, and all of them have to do with his irregular blood. If your lusus is to aid him, you must do what you can to decrease the burden on her.
Your grip on Karkat's hand loosens, as you give him an instruction. "Touch it."
"The egg. She's still not born yet, remember?"
"Oh. Right. Wait, what good is this going to do?"
"Just trust me, this has got to work!"
And then he does, and then he gasps, and then your face lights up like a wriggler's on Twelfth Perigree's Eve, because you know that sense of relief, that feeling that you've finally turned a corner and everything just might turn out all right after all.
>Karkat: Suddenly be endowed with the ability to taste and smell colors.
When you place the palm of your hand on the smooth eggshell, you don't really expect it to work. Nothing else has so far, why would this? But as your skin makes contact with the egg, something happens within your own mind that you can't quite explain. The background noise that you suddenly realize has been there ever since you and Sollux stepped into the forest grows louder, filling your mind with static until you think you might scream, before it suddenly stops.
You try to steady yourself. A picture of something starts to form in your mind's eye, but it's hazy, and too many pieces are missing. You suddenly feel compelled to take a deep breath.
When you do so, it is kind of overwhelming, to say the least. A cacophony of aromas assault your palette all at once, making it difficult to concentrate. The strawberry bubblegum pink and cotton candy blue of the treetops, the charcoal grey of the smashed mother grub skull fragments, the licorice black and just a hint of wild berry teal of Terezi's shirt, the holy shit wait a minute it actually worked
This is... kind of incredible.
You sniff the air; the scent of licorice grows stronger as she approaches.
"Karkat?" she whispers.
"It worked," you breathe in response.
Terezi inhales sharply, the remnants of whatever else she might have said dying in her throat as she takes slow steps toward you. Carefully, unsure of herself, she comes nearer, stopping just in front of you. "Karkat," she repeats, as she slowly leans into you, your back pressed against the egg. At this distance you can, only just, catch the scent of her blood. Under her smoky grey skin flows a teal that kind of smells like Berry Punch Beatdown Fruit Trollups.
It conflicts a little, but as her arms circle around you, you decide it's something you could probably get used to.
"I'm sorry." Both of you blurt out your awkward apologies at the same time, like it's a stupid scene from one of your stupid movies.
"I shouldn't have been such a whiny bulge, you were just trying to help. I mean, nobody's tried to kill me yet so you must have done something right."
"I shouldn't have given up. Not when you needed me."
And just like that, the two of you fall silent again. Her head rests on your chest and you think to yourself, after everything that happened, that she would waste her time on you is nothing short of amazing. Of all the trolls on Alternia, she chose to be stuck with you.
If that's not pitiful, what is?
"Come on, now that you can do it, I need to teach you how to use it!"
As Terezi takes your arm and leads you away from the lusus egg, you catch a whiff of mustard yellow. Oh right, Sollux. That guy was here the entire time, watching your embarassing emotional display. What a jerk that guy is. Couldn't he give you and Terezi a little privacy?
Unfortunately, that train of thought ends when that yellow is the last color you smell.
All at once, your mind's eye goes dark as your newfound ability to sense the world is suddenly silenced.
Welp, we've reached the end of old material to revise. Everything from here on out is 100% fresh text! But that's okay because I kind of figured out how the rest of the story is going to go. I shouldn't have TOO much more to go so hopefully I can wrap this up soon. It's been fun, definitely the longest I've ever worked on... well, pretty much anything, really! I have no idea why this seems to be my highest-rated story, if kudos and views are anything to go on, but thanks to everyone who checked it out and liked it for checking it out and liking it.
I'll try not to take forever to write the next chapter, promise!
Chapter 11: Day 21
In which a confession is made.
One week ago, Terezi led you to her unborn lusus, in a final, desperate attempt to help you get around your blindness the same way she had.
It didn't work.
You blacked out, your mind unprepared to handle such a sudden severing of the connection between itself and Terezi's lusus, or at least that's what you think. None of you, not you or Terezi or Sollux, are quite sure what happened, though Terezi thinks it might have happened when you broke physical contact with the egg.
Sollux and Terezi dragged your unconcious form back to her hive, where you've stayed since. If it hadn't been for Sollux's telekinesis, he's been sure to let you know, this would have been no easy feat. When you finally woke the next day, you were just as blind as you ever were. Sniffing the air produced no explosion of color in your mind's eye.
You were too disappointed to even swear in an irritated matter about that.
Terezi has been... surprisingly calm, you think, is the best way to describe it. Outside of a talk with Sollux while you were just waking up, she hasn't mentioned it at all. You aren't sure if it's because she doesn't want to remind you, or because she wants to forget.
She began trying to teach you her second sight within hours of you regaining consciousness, against Sollux's protests ("Please, TZ, he needs to rest a bit," he pleaded with her in another block. "There's no time, we have to pick up where we left off," she countered). She has used every trick she's ever tried, and a few new ones, to try to trigger the enhanced senses that she believes with every fiber of her being are within a hair's breadth of being unlocked in you.
Not one of her attempts so far has succeeded.
>Karkat: Try again.
She is trying the scented crayons again now. Terezi opens the pack, and quickly sketches something on her notepad before replacing the crayon, picking a new one, flipping to the next page and drawing something else. She does this twice before setting the notepad in your lap.
"Okay. Tell me what the first page smells like, and try to figure out what I drew."
The first page smells like lemons; you trace the wax lines with your fingertips and follow their scent. "It's, um, one of your scalemates, I think. Or something like it."
"Alright, good," she replies. "Now try the second page."
You inhale sharply, the pad to your face, and frown. This drawing doesn't have a smell. Terezi must be trying to wean you off the scented crayons, but if you can barely discern things with them, what chance do you stand of identifying anything without them?
Still, you try, more for her sake than yours. You run your fingers across the smooth surface of the paper, seeking out her sketch's form. You find the crayon trail and follow the marks, tracing out the picture in your head.
"I think... I think it's my sickle? Or some kind of hook?"
"Right, it's your weapon. Now, tell me what it smells like," she asks.
You sigh. There's no way, but you lift the notepad to your face and try again. You inhale deeply and widen your olfactory receptors, hoping that maybe, this time, you'll get the result you're looking for.
But all you smell is paper and wax. "Nothing," you tell Terezi.
She swears under her breath, and you think you hear her sniffle a little but she rips the pad from your hand and starts furiously scribbling another drawing.
"Terezi?" She doesn't reply. "Terezi? What's wrong?"
"Nothing," she responds, with some hesitation.
"Nothing, my ass. I've been hanging around you too long lately to buy that. What's up?"
Another sniff. You think she's probably trying to get a read on you until it occurs to you that she might be-- oh. Oh.
"Hey, are you okay?!"
"I'm fine!" She thrusts the notepad back into your hands. "Tell me what's on the first page."
"Tell me what's bothering you," you reply.
"Tell me what's on the first page!" she says, her voice raised.
"Look, Terezi, I know something's wrong, alright? I've been around you too fucking long to not catch shit like this. What's the problem?"
"Nothing! Damnit, Karkat, check the drawing I just gave you, we have... we have to... we don't have much time, alright? I have to teach you and we have to be quick about it, so please, just try to concentrate, okay?"
"Look," you say, remembering what happened the last time you were angry with her. "Something's bothering you, I can fucking feel it. Tell me, what's wrong?"
She sniffs again; not because, now you are certain, she's trying to sense her surroundings but because she simply can't help it. "Sollux... he said, he said the patrols are coming sooner than he thought. They're going to be here five days earlier, and, and, that means there's even less time now, and, I already wasted so much of it getting mad and not being able to do it right and then there's the whole thing with my lusus, and now she won't or can't even talk to me anymore and I think trying to bring you to her might have hurt her somehow, and I just... Karkat, please... just try to... to..."
She stands up, choking on her words, and quickly leaves the room. Her footsteps pound upstairs, all the way to her respiteblock, where she slams the door shut. Normally, you would leave her to herself. Normally. But something is very, very wrong with Terezi, and you think leaving her alone may not be such a good idea. You carefully feel your way to the stairs, and then, ear pressed to the wall, make your way to her respiteblock.
When you hear it, you knock on her without even thinking, and immediately she stops. She's trying to put on a brave face for you, and it hurts, knowing that, essentially, this is all your fault.
"Terezi? Fuck, I'm sorry, can we... can we talk?"
You can make out the slow footsteps as she approaches the door and hesitates, debating with herself, before the knob turns and the door opens.
She silently stands there for a moment. "Terezi, what's g--" is as far as you get before she practically throws herself into you, her arms looping around your back. You stagger, throw your hands up and take a step back, half out of being thrown off balance and half out of surprise.
"Karkat, I... I can't..." She is struggling against herself, and losing.
"What's wrong?" you answer.
"It's all my fault, if I'd just tried harder, or if-- if I hadn't given up on you, or if I'd... if I'd..."
"Terezi, no, it's okay--"
"No, it's not okay!" she interrupts. "I quit when you needed me most because I got mad over something stupid and now... oh my god, Karkat, it's all my fault, I can't believe..." She is unable to finish her sentence, her words falling into open sobs.
Your brain finally comprehending the situation, you lower your arms and hold Terezi closer to you in an effort to comfort her. You aren't sure you're doing a very good job, but you have to try.
"Fuck, don't blame yourself, you didn't do this." you tell her. "You didn't make me stare into the sun, or decide my blood should be this shitty, awful color. You... you fucking tried to help me, and haha, shit, that was more than I did for myself."
You take a deep breath and sigh.
"If they cull me, I probably deserve it, because past me was a complete, utter moron."
Welp. That was completely the wrong thing to say. Terezi just starts crying harder.
"No, no, no, Karkat, it's not fair, I can't... oh my god, Karkat!" She clings to you, muttering incomprehensively. Now you've gone and done it. Now you probably really do deserve to be culled, just for that.
"You shouldn't be killed, you didn't do anything wrong! This isn't right, this isn't justice! You don't deserve this, you deserve better and I--- I can't just---" Her speech devolves back into sobbing as she buries her face in your chest.
You simply hold her, silently, standing in the doorframe.
"Fuck, listen to me," she continues, when she regains some of her composure. "You'd think I was the one about to be chained to the flogging jut."
She pulls back a bit and takes a deep breath. "Karkat, I, I pity you, I pity you so much. No one should have to go through what you're going through." You ask yourself what you can even say to that.
The answer, you discover, as Terezi slowly, deliberately, desperately presses her lips to yours, is nothing.
"...I don't want to lose you, Karkat."
You simply hug her tight and lean down to return her kiss.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing Karezi wrong
Here's hoping I didn't screw this up too badly
Chapter 12: Day 22, part 1
In which it hits the fan.
So it's been a while! Like, four months, to be exact
I took a hiatus from this to work on stuff for the HSO (a lot of good it did, nobody liked anything we made) and then writer's block struck and ugh
I was going to write one huge chapter to wrap this story up but instead I'll break it up into several smaller parts, just so there's SOMETHING here, and this is the first
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
>Terezi: Wake up.
You awaken, still snuggled against Karkat in your livingblock and not daring to leave his side. Remembering the events of last night, you recall leading Karkat to your couch and simply taking comfort in one another's presence until the two of you fell asleep together.
It didn't exactly get anything accomplished, but... you needed this. A moment to breathe, to relax, to consider what you're fighting for.
What you're fighting for. You're almost certain you cannot help Karkat in what little time you have left. There has to be a way to save him. Perhaps you can figure out a way to hide him? Between you and your friends, surely there is something you can do. Come to think of it, you're almost certain Feferi alone could manage it. The heiress herself is exempt from the patrols' trials and with her resources, surely she could help?
It's something to think about, at any rate. But it's something you'll have to consider later, now that Karkat is waking up.
>Karkat: Wake up.
You are now Karkat, and your head hurts.
Understandable, since the last day or so has been particularly crazy. Though, you have to admit, not everything is completely terrible. Terezi leans against you, the two of you still huddled together under the blanket.
You think you have a matesprit now.
But that's just it. Terezi's trying her hardest and nothing's working and you can't blame her for your stupid thinkpan not being able to pick up on what she's teaching.
Your head hurts. You bring a hand to your temple and rub the side of your head.
She didn't deserve to be dragged into this. If blinding yourself is the stupid thing you've ever done, then having the audacity to ask for help after you were dumb enough to maim yourself is the second stupidest thing you've ever done, and certainly the most selfish. If you'd kept your chitinous windpipe shut, you could have just been culled and nobody would have cared, but now you've gotten Terezi emotionally invested in your survival, and you kind of hate yourself for that. She deserves better than you.
Your head throbs with every beat of your cardiovascular pump and it's only getting worse and it's ruining your current train of thought and you stand up shakily and try to feel your way around.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck, ow, you got any painkillers?"
"Um... sorry, no, I don't think so. Why?"
"Because my damn head feels like it's going to explode, is why."
You trip over a pile of law books, you're pretty sure, and stumble, clutching your head and muttering "son of a bitch" over and over again. Terezi rushes to your side, presumably to help you up, but you can practically feel the room spinning and there's no way you're getting back up on your feet right now.
You tell Terezi there's a bottle of painkillers at your hive and getting there would be quicker than shelling out the scarabs for them at the nearest store. She says she worries about leaving you alone, especially like this. You tell her you can handle lying on the floor by yourself for long enough for her to go there and back. She reluctantly agrees, since you seem to be in that much pain, and she sets your husktop by you before leaving. She says she's got an old PDA she used to use for FLARPing and if you need anything while she's gone, go ahead and ask.
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
GC: OK4Y K4RK4T 1M 4T YOUR H1V3
GC: 1 FORGOT
GC: WH3R3 D1D YOU S4Y YOU K3PT YOUR M3D1C1N3
CG: IN THE CABINET BY THE LOAD GAPER.
CG: OW, FUCK ME, MY THINKPAN STILL HURTS.
GC: 1M SORRY 1 D1DNT H4V3 4NY P41NK1LL3RS 1N MY H1V3 KAR
GC: 1 D1DNT R34L1Z3 1 W4S OUT >:[
GC: 1 JUST DONT US3 TH3M TH4T MUCH S1NC3 1 QU1T FL4RP1NG
CG: SHIT, I'M SORRY, I SHOULDN'T MAKE YOU WORRY SO MUCH.
CG: I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE PROBLEM IS, ONE MOMENT I'M FINE AND THE NEXT IT FEELS LIKE MY BRAIN IS SLAMMING ITSELF AGAINST THE INSIDE OF MY DAMN SKULL AND NOW SOLLUX'S FUCKING SPEECH-TO-TEXT THING IS SENDING YOU EVERY STUPID THING I MUTTER TO MYSELF.
GC: OK4Y 1 FOUND TH3M
GC: TH3 BLU3 BOTTL3, R1GHT?
CG: YEAH, THAT'S RIGHT. THANKS.
CG: MAYBE SOON ENOUGH I'LL GET SOME RELIEF.
GC: 1LL B3 B4CK SHORTLY
GC: H3H3, 1 TH1NK YOUR LUSUS 1S GO1NG TO GO M4D 1F H3 DO3SNT G3T A RO3 CUB3 B3FOR3 1 L34V3
CG: THE FUCK WAS THAT?
GC: 1 M34N OK4Y, 1 WONT G1V3 H1M ON3 1F YOU R34LLY DONT W4NT M3 TO
CG: NO, NOT THAT.
CG: DID YOU SEND SOMEONE OVER TO YOUR HIVE? I THINK THERE'S SOMEONE HERE. I COULD SWEAR I JUST HEARD FOOTSTEPS.
CG: I KNOW YOU WERE WORRIED ABOUT LEAVING ME HERE ALONE BUT IT'S NOT A LONG TRIP. DID YOU SEND SOLLUX OVER OR SOMETHING?
CG: TEREZI, ARE YOU THERE?
-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] is an idle troll! --
CG: GREAT TIME TO GO IDLE, REZ.
CG: FUCKING INCREDIBLE.
CG: WHO'S THERE?
CG: SOLLUX IS THAT YOU?
CG: TAVROS? GAMZEE? KANAYA?
CG: OKAY WHOEVER YOU ARE, I KNOW I HEARD YOU. QUIT FUCKING AROUND!
CG: WHOA SHIT WHAT THE HELL LET GO OF ME
CG: OW FUCK WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM
CG: HEY WHAT THE
CG: FUCKING STOP IT
CG: [2PEECH2TEXT ERROR: could not re2olve 2peech pattern. maybe tell kk to 2peak normally iin2tead of liike a tool.]
CG: OH GOD, NOT
CG: GAHHHHGGGGGG [uniintelliigiible]
GC: OK4Y 1 G4V3 YOUR LUSUS 4 CUB3
GC: K4RK4T, WH4TS WRONG?
GC: WH4T H4PP3N3D
GC: 4R3 YOU OK4Y
GC: WH4TS GO1NG ON
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] is an idle troll! --
Here's hoping it's not another four months before the next update!
Chapter 13: Day 22, Part 2
In which a search party is organized.
I am so, so sorry
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
>Karkat: Wake up.
Your dead eyes slowly flutter open. Your head, you notice with some annoyance, still throbs with every beat of your pump. You're being held upright, for reasons that aren't clear to you yet. Your feet don't seem to be touching the floor. You try to move your arm in what you're sure is a futile attempt to get free and massage the pain away, but you quickly discover that your arms and legs are bound by some sort of thick rope.
You aren't sure what the fuck is going on, but you're pretty sure this isn't one of Terezi's games, and that you may actually be in danger. You open your right hand and try to activate sicklekind, but instead of the feeling of smooth cold iron against your palm, you get nothing but a low buzz. It's the telltale sign of an empty specibus, and you don't like it. Whoever did this was thorough and obviously didn't want you fighting back. You tug against your restraints, but to no avail.
You hear a faint clicking sound from below, but it quickly passes. Perhaps it's nothing.
CURRENT gallowsCalibrator [CGC] RIGHT NOW opened memo on board R41NBOW RUMPUS P4RTYTOWN.
CURRENT gallowsCalibrator [CGC] RIGHT NOW set memo privacy: INVITE ONLY.
CURRENT gallowsCalibrator [CGC] RIGHT NOW invited CURRENT adiosToreador [CAT] RIGHT NOW to memo.
CURRENT gallowsCalibrator [CGC] RIGHT NOW invited CURRENT terminallyCapricious [CTC] RIGHT NOW to memo.
CURRENT gallowsCalibrator [CGC] RIGHT NOW invited CURRENT twinArmageddons [CTA] RIGHT NOW to memo.
CURRENT gallowsCalibrator [CGC] RIGHT NOW invited CURRENT grimAuxiliatrix [CGA] RIGHT NOW to memo.
CURRENT gallowsCalibrator [CGC] RIGHT NOW invited CURRENT arsenicCatnip [CAC] RIGHT NOW to memo.
CURRENT gallowsCalibrator [CGC] RIGHT NOW invited CURRENT centaursTesticle [CCT] RIGHT NOW to memo.
CURRENT gallowsCalibrator [CGC] RIGHT NOW invited CURRENT apocalpyseAverted [CAA] RIGHT NOW to memo.
CGC: YOU 4LL KNOW WHY 1 1NV1T3D YOU H3R3
CTC: WaIt, I Do?
CAT: i, aM PRETTY SURE THAT i DON'T,
CGC: 4BOUT K4RK4T >:[
CCT: D --> Er
CCT: D --> I
CCT: D --> I am not at liberty to discuss this matter
CGC: 3QU1US TH1S 1S POSS1BLY 4 M4TT3R OF L1F3 4ND D34TH
CGC: 4ND B3S1D3S 3V3RYON3 1N TH1S M3MO KNOWS 4BOUT K4RK4T'S BL1NDN3SS 4LR34DY
CGA: What Do You Mean
CGA: Life And Death
CGA: Is Something Wrong Terezi
CURRENT gallowsCalibrator [CGC] RIGHT NOW sent the file "trollian_carcinogeneticist.log" to memo on board R41NBOW RUMPUS P4RTYTOWN.
CGC: 1 W4S GO1NG TO K4RK4T'S H1V3 TO G3T SOM3 P41NK1LL3RS
CGC: 1 K3PT 4 PD4 ON M3 SO H3 COULD US3 TH3 SP33CH-TO-T3XT PROGR4M SOLLUX WROT3 FOR H1M 1N C4S3 H3 N33D3D TO CONT4CT M3 WH1LE 1 W4S 4W4Y
CGC: 4ND SOM3TH1NG H4PP3N3D 4ND NOW K4RK4T 1S M1SS1NG
CGC: TH1S 1S TH3 L4ST M3SS4G3 H3 S3NT M3 4ND 1M WORR13D TH4T SOM3TH1NG T3RR1BL3 H4S H4PP3N3D
CTC: wHoA, tHiS Is mOtHeRfUcKiN' hEaVy sHiT, bRoS.
CTC: wHaT Do yOu tHiNk HaPpEnNeD To hIm?
CGC: 1 DONT KNOW >:[
CGC: H3 W4SNT 4T MY H1V3 WH3N 1 C4M3 B4CK 4ND TH4T W4S 4BOUT TH1RTY M1NUT3S 4GO
CGC: 4LL 1 KNOW 1S TH4T 1T COULDNT H4V3 B33N 4N 4CC1D3NT
CGC: 1 OP3N3D TH3 M3MO HOP1NG M4YB3 ON3 OF YOU KN3W SOM3TH1NG
CTA: ii miight be able two a22i2t here.
CTA: tz do you 2tiil have kk'2 hu2ktop at your hiive?
CGC: TH3 SCR33N 1S CR4CK3D BUT 1T ST1LL WORKS
CTA: do me a couple of favor2.
CTA: open trolliian on kk'2 husktop, hold the 2 and 2 keys, and double cliick on the 2peech-two-text iicon.
CGC: 2 4ND 2 >:?
CTA: 2 and s. 2orry, ii 2hould have 2peciifiied.
CGC: TH4T BROUGHT UP SOM3 SORT OF M3NU
CGC: "D3BUG TOOL2"
CTA: YE2222 ii forgot two comment that out!!
CTA: the way my program work2 ii2, iit capture2 audiitory iinput and analyze2 iit to generate the text output.
CTA: iit only keep2 one biit of audiio at a tiime and it'2 2uppo2ed two delete iit after proce22iing iit, but 2iince the debug tool2 2tiil work, the la2t thiing kk 2ent you 2hould 2tiil be in there.
CTA: there 2hould be an button, "export audiio". cliick that and upload the 2ound fiile.
CURRENT gallowsCalibrator [CGC] RIGHT NOW sent the file "2peech2text_lastsound.wav" to memo on board R41NBOW RUMPUS P4RTYTOWN.
"Hey, asshole! I don't know what your problem is, but if you don't let me go--"
A voice shushes you from below. You reply, in a somewhat lower volume, "No, you fucking listen to me! If you don't let me go then so help me--"
"Karkat, please! You have to be quiet or you'll wake her up!" It is a familiar voice, though not the one you heard back at Terezi's hive, and not one you can immediately place.
"I'm stuck here just like you, but you can't be loud, not here, not here," she says.
"What do you mean, not here? How do you know my name? Where even are we? Because it's a fucking mystery to me!"
"I guess Terezi really wasn't lying when she said you couldn't see."
Your eyelids involuntarily widen at that. "You know Terezi? Wait!"
You think you know where you have heard this voice before, but... why is she here?
CGA: That Voice
CGA: I Would Know It Anywhere
CGA: I Think This May Be My Fault
CGA: I Am So Sorry
CGC: 1 SHOULD H4V3 KNOWN SH3 WOULD B3 UP TO NO GOOD
CGC: 1 LET MY GU4RD DOWN JUST ONC3 4ND NOW
CGC: NOW 1
CGC: BL4R >:[ >:[ >:[
CGC: 1T H4SNT B33N V3RY LONG S1NC3 SH3 TOOK H1M
CGC: 1F W3 MOV3 F4ST W3 C4N ST1LL S4V3 H1M
CGC: 1M SURE SH3 M34NS TO F33D H1M TO H3R LUSUS
CGC: BUT 1 KNOW HOW SH3 WORKS, VR1SK4 C4NT P4SS UP 4N OPPORTUN1TY TO GR4NDST4ND
CGC: SH3 H4SNT TROLL3D M3 TO GLO4T SO TH3R3S 4 V3RY GOOD CH4NC3 H3S ST1LL 4L1V3
CGC: M33T UP 4T MY H1V3 4S4P 4ND W3LL R3SCU3 H1M TOG3TH3R
CGC: SH3 CROSS3D TH3 L1N3 TH1S T1M3
CGC: 1 SW34R 1F SH3 HURTS K4RK4T ILL
CGC: 1LL FUCK1NG K1LL H3R MYS3LF
CCT: D --> Are you absolutely sure this is the best course of a%ion
CGC: HOW C4N YOU S4Y TH4T
CGC: 1SNT K4RK4T YOUR FR13ND TOO
CGC: W1TH YOUR STR3NGTH R3SCU1NG H1M WOULD B3 NO PROBL3M 4T 4LL!
CCT: D --> I am simply saying that there might be
CCT: D --> E%tenuating circumstances
CCT: D --> My STRENGTH has no bearing on the situation at hand
CGC: UGH F1NE!
CGC: 3V3RYON3 3XC3PT 3QU1US TH3N C4N M33T M3 H3R3
CCT: D --> No, you don't understand
CCT: D --> I cannot allow you to attack Miss Serket
CGC: WHY NOT
CGC: WH4TS GO1NG ON W1TH YOU 3QU1US
CGC: 4CTUALLY 1F YOUR3 GO1NG TO OBSTRUCT JUST1C3 TH3N 1 DONT CAR3
CGC: W3LL DO TH1S W1THOUT YOU
CGC banned CCT from responding to memo.
CGC kicked CCT from memo.
CGC closed memo.
"...Nepeta? Is that you?"
She sniffles and her voice cracks as she replies. "Y-yeah. It's me. I'm sorry you got mixed up in this, K-Karkat."
So, I guess I should probably apologize for this fic never updating, ever.
Those of you who follow my tumblr already know but for those of you who don't, I've been struggling with depression for some time, and just recently started actually doing something about it (hooray for therapy, I guess), and that combined with my awful job has been kicking my ass all over the place, and the result is that I don't seem to write nearly as much as I used to.
Which sucks, because I like writing.
I'm going to try to finish the rest of the story as quickly as I can. I think there are at most three or four more parts left to go, but if I keep my current pace then Homestuck itself will conclude before this fic does, so I'm going to try to crank out chapters at least a little bit faster.
Thanks for putting up with my nonexistent update schedule.