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Time To Change or To Change Time

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In the dream someone was speaking to you. But it faded as the dream crashed rumbling down. You closed your ears as well as eyes.
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You were going to kill Strider!

It was not so surprising that was your first thought of waking up. Your head hurt more than the pull-back of spoor used to do. At least that disappeared after a while, right now your skull was pounding like heartbeats and were probably bleeding. Shortly said, the landing hadn’t been easy, and you blamed it all on Strider. (You knew fully and clear that the space sis was the one handling… well space. But you just couldn’t put the blame on such a sweet girl, and it was a good way to relief some repressed blackroom).

Your eyesight was blurry, but slowly started to return, and it was with relief you looked up into a black sky. The constallions were familiar and nostalgic, safe and sad as you knew them well after sitting and waiting for Goatdad long, long ago. Your surroundings were a bit more concerning, as you didn’t recognize the forest around you. The trees were thicker than the ones you had at your Hive, which probably meant you were far from sea.

Meeting a sea dweller the first thing you do, might not have been that pleasurable, but on the other hand you now had no idea where you were, what animals that lived here, or how to survive. Nepeta would probably knew what to do, you’d have to ask her later… if she decided to answer you. You weren’t surprised she was still cautious around you (she was right to be).

With your eyesight now fully-clear, and the pounding in your head subsiding, you started to look around after your friends. For a horrible moment you got the feeling that you had landed alone, but then you made out a shape further away.

Tavros lay further away, seemingly unconscious but hopefully breathing. Looking around more you also spotted Terezi way back, the teal-blood not moving either but didn’t seem hurt. But then there was no one more. Where was Karkat? You started to stand up all too sudden, making your head swim again, and forcing you to get back again.  

Of course all of you hadn’t expected everything to go perfect, but couldn’t you at least have stayed together? But at least you weren’t alone. You managed to rise when your head wasn’t spinning anymore and started to walk over to Tavros. With the new clearity you also started to hear things. A rustle too clumsy to be animal, a whisper to loud to be just a breeze. You tensed up.

You were very much not alone.  

Carefully you slipped out Karkat’s sickles, and walked faster towards Tavros. It would be hard to protect them both alone… but if you brought them together it might be easier. Still with all concentration out in the woods you bent down to pick up Tavros.

Instantly a spear shot by and missed you precisely and you crouched, protecting Tavros’s still unconscious body. Whoever they were you could probably take them on  if only not… you stopped that train of thought as you saw your attackers come out from hiding. Two rusts, a yellowblood, and a lighter green. They were all adults.

For a moment everything went blank in your mind, as it searched for a reason. They could only be deserters… if not you hadn't landed on Alternia but on a nearby planet instead. It was something you should have given more attention too, but as the yellowblood feched his spear the rustblood woman got to close to Tavros.

With a swipe of the sickles and a growl you got them away but the limeblood was already way too close to Terezi. You threw one of the sickles, but missed your target as he moved subconsciously. You felt your chances fade, these were not only adults, but fully capable warriors.

 “Subdue him!” Mr. Yellow screamed, and the two rusts appeared in front of you. Too late you noticed them being distractions and Limey grabbed you in a headlock from behind. His arm pushed at your windpipe and you trashed to get away, feeling your body scream about muscles needing oxygen.

As a last card you summoned the chucklevoodoo and concentrated them on the attacker behind. Only for a moment he stilled, but that was enough to throw him out of balance and you tumbled to the ground, holding you sickles to his neck and maybe if you just cut his throat he would stop moving and maybe you could be fast and kill the others before Tavros and Terezi woke up they wouldn’t like this but it would be so easy so fun and….

 “Stop.” Somehow, the grownups stopped, looking at the newcomer, and even stranger so did you. It wasn’t like when Karkat talked to you, not needing to raise his voice, as it split through every Melody of the Messiahs or someone else’s useless chatter. This voice was calm and collected, a bit sad maybe, and was miles away from shouting. Undeniable though, it was still Karkat’s voice.

The adults backed off, turning to the newcomer, whose face was still clouded by his hood. Only the hood gave even more convincing, as it was embroidered with the same red as Karkat’s blood. (Sure, Karkat hid his blood colour well, but as his morail you had seen him cry at close distance).

Even while fighting your instincts you felt yourself relax, immediately remembering the soothing feeling Karkat always gave you. It was like the eye of a storm, not hiding the mess outside but giving you a place to stay for a moment.  This one was different. He didn’t give you a so much “moraily-feel” but leaderlier, or like a lusus were supposed to be.

“Are these trolls your friends or quadrants?” The adult asked you, motioning for his followers to pick Terezi and Tavros up. Now when you looked more carefully you could see how they handled them both with carefulness and mercy that an enemy would never show. All of them were on the lower half of the spectrum so counting that way; you were the one in most danger. In continuity, they could be in danger for being your friends…. so you never gave an answer.

Surprisingly the Karkat-clone smiled. “I get it.” Then he rose up a bit, looking at Tavros and Terezi and then around at the group around you. “They look hurt, so we’ll take them back to the base.” He ordered and you started a complaint, but another came before.

“B-but Signless!” The yellowblood interrupted, still clinging to his weapon and stepping in between. “You cannot trust these, even if they are children! Especially this indigo! They are dangerous, and should be subdued as quickly before they alert someone!” The one called signless (and true, he didn’t have the sign of cancer that Karkat wore) pushed the weapon down from the aggressive troll (very much like Karkat as he calmed Kanaya and Terezi) before walking around him to you.

He put a hand on your head, and smiled softly. You didn’t move as he walked around you, cautious but as calm you could be. It was stupid to trust someone only by judging appearance and acts, but you couldn’t really help it. (What did you have for other options anyway?)

“Look” The signless said a hand ruffled your hair, nestling out small knots as they passed by and it was all so wrong because this wasn’t Karkat and you shouldn’t relax like this. But everything about this adult whispered harmlessness, and for the first time you noticed he didn’t carry more weapons than a small knife. “He is only scared. Right now, we are the attackers and he’s trying to protect his friends.”

Once again the yellowblood tried to interfere, but the higher rust stepped forward and stopped him, looking at you with what might have been an apologizing expression, if it were not a bit smug. “The Signless is correct, we were at fault here. I’m sorry we frightened you, little highblood-wriggler.”

It wasn’t a long walk to their base, but you made sure to remember the way correctly. Terezi groaned in her sleep and scrunched her nose, at something you probably couldn’t smell. It was hidden in a hive, or more correctly under it, as tunnels expanded much further than you would have guessed. Most of the trolls looked at you, some accusingly but mostly confused and guarded. The whole way the Signless kept close to you and in a way, protected you.

He really saw you as a wriggler, careful and informing about everything he did, and that was probably why you accepted one wrist being chained. “You make them uncomfortable and scared. It’s safer this way.” He left after that, surprisingly not taking your speicibus, and you were alone with some poor guy who you supposed were your guard.  

Of course, if you wanted to, you could probably find a way out of this. Most of them were adults, or at least 9 or 10 sweeps old at youngest. You didn’t really know how strong and how much you could use your chucklevoodoo, but you could probably scare someone enough to help you or simply find something from your sylladex. That… was a bit weird actually. You hadn’t thought about it too much, but why hadn’t they taken your weapons if they were so scared. And why were adults here? You had accepted in the middle of panic and fighting that they were simply on another planet of the Alternian Empire… but what if…

Slowly, pieces started to fit together one after one. How they probably didn’t even know about the sylladex, why they were so desperate to kill you, why they were so scared of you, The Indigo Capricorn. This was not the wrong place, but the wrong time, and that man was Karkat’s ancestor. Leaning back against the wall, you growled, the guard shifting uncomfortably. You closed your eyes and thought of the only one responsible for this.

You were going to kill Strider.

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You heard voices call for you, but you didn’t listen, didn’t want to listen. This is not how it was supposed to be.

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Someone was shaking you. In reaction you groaned and rolled over, as to get away from the annoying character. Seriously? You could finally have a decent day’s sleep and this bastard was all whining and pushing. You snapped something tiredly, and the intrusion stopped for a while, before intelligently realizing you were not going to go up. Congratulations asshole. The pushes were harder now, and a voice started to break through the haze. The thing that penetrated your dream state was that the voice was sounding desperate, and scared.

“For glubbing… Kar, get up, you can’t sleep here, Kar! That much for a glorious leader alright… this is hopeless!” No doubt about it, that was Eridan’s voice. Maybe he would go away if you continued to pretend to sleep, but then he made a yelp and became unusually quiet for a moment before the voice came back again, whispering. “Please wake up…! Coddamn bastard…”

Finally you opened your eyes begrudgingly and glared up at him, almost missing the slight smile of relief on his face that disappeared when you opened your mouth. “Good night to you too fishfreak. Thank you oh so godly much for not letting me sleep five minutes more dear lus--.”  Suddenly his hand were in your face, muffling whatever tired rambling you were about to barf up.

“Oh shut up.” Eridan hushed angrily, and shot a look out from what you now noticed was a hiding place. “If they find us, they won’t even care if fifty present of us are seadwellers, they will kill us anyway.” Before you had the chance to snarl something back, Eridan simply pointed to the place beyond the rock they hid behind, and any complaint died in your mouth.  

All air went out of you, and you looked where he had pointed before hurryingly pulling back. You had seen enough. White faces, uniforms that would have make you laugh if not for the fact that they terrified you, indigoes mixed with low seadwellers and very high blues. Subjugglators.

Apparently paradox space decided to play one last, “you’re screwed” on your sorry ass. You sank back on his knees, slowly, knowing the luck that they hadn’t been found yet was a miracle soon to end.

“You gotta be fucking with me.”

Chapter Text

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It’s easy to pretend you’re doing everything right, as it should be. Too easy. You don’t see the cracks.
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Karkat finally got what was going on and you relaxed a slight, tiny, little bit more. You wouldn’t know what to do if you had to face this on your own.
When you had woken up here, at first all alone, honestly, you had felt great! You were alive and well, no apparent changes, you were back to your Alternia. The only thing that could have made it better was if you had been dropped straight down into the ocean. Instead, you had been awoken close to a mountain, and seeing how the sky was still being a bit light, the rocks had protected you from the evening sun.

Some trees stood nearby, but not anything as big to be called a forest, and didn’t stop the winds blowing in towards where you were standing. The air felt different from how it had seemed in Skaia. Planets such as Land of Brains and Fire obviously had a very different feel, but even Land of Wrath and Angels had nothing to compare to Alternian soil (and well… the wrathy angels had been a kind of big negative too). It felt like you were home.

When the first rush of happiness of being alive had passed, it was then you noticed Karkat. He was lying face down a bit further up, nestled in some bushes so he didn’t fall down to the bottom. You started up towards him. The walk up weren’t steep, and you smirked, taunting him for being a sleepy-head.  It didn’t get as fun when he didn’t answer or even twitched.

Your climb up was the only reason you spotted the Subjugglators before they spotted you.

You knew you had to hide, but carrying Karkat would be both hard and dangerous. You didn’t deny that more than once the thought of leaving Karkat behind appeared. But every time you shot that thought down before it became actions, secretly proud that you had learned something. Maybe.

In the end you dragged him to hide behind a cliff you had seen on your way up, the crack between the rock and the mountain had seemed big enough. You hurried down with Karkat’s sleeping (unconscious) body, probably leaving scratches on him from the sharp ground. It couldn’t be that bad though, since he hadn’t complained about them yet… or he hadn’t got all his sense of touch back. Only seconds after you hid behind the cliff the Subjugglators showed up. You didn’t know how much time that had passed, going between trying to wake Karkat up and complement to escape, before the troll stirred, and almost succeeded on getting you discovered.

“What the fuck are we going to do now then?” Karkat hissed, looking like he talked to himself more than to you. Unhelpfully you shrugged. “Probably shut up and wait.” He continued in return, looking like he was fighting a risk to look out from your crack again.

The voices of the Subjugglators slowly but steadily grew weaker, moving away and you listened closely. It was hard deciding distance with the wind and the mountain. No question they were still nearby, but maybe this would be the best chance you had as escaping.

It was then you heard the movements right behind you.

Karkat only stared, wide-eyed, and in the next moment a hand closed around one of your horns and harshly pulled you up. Cold with dread you didn’t even try to struggle, and didn’t blame Karkat for not trying to help. “Lookie here, A little fish that’s swum too far from home.” It was a woman, whose strength seemed to be par to Equius, and while she seemed to be slightly lower than Gamzee she was still more indigo than blue. Her long hair was braided and her paint was framing her eyes like an eight. Vriska would probably have approved, and you too, if you weren’t so terrified at the moment.

“Aren’t you just adorable,” She raked down a claw over your gills, and they flared in reaction to the disturbance. The two other trolls nearby, both males, now paid attention, and walked over. One of them laughed, and crouched down in front of Karkat, who seemed to be going through the same turmoil that you had had before he’d woken up. Good thing he didn’t decide to abscond.

“Oh yes, totally precious” The troll said, his makeup forming teardrops down his face and his belt filled with small weights, following the same pattern and look as his paint. “Aren’t you children a little bit far away from your lusii?” He was only taunting, and it seemed a bit playfully. You sure didn’t know if that was good or bad.

“So what are you two doing on our territory?” The last one asked, as he sat tall and gangly on top of a rock above you looking over both their preys but stopping at Karkat. Jumping down again, the troll pulled Karkat up and scanned his arms. The arms of his sweater had been pulled up a slight bit, probably when you dragged him, and showed the scratches. With a rip Karkat tried to pull away, suddenly desperate, but the larger troll drove his claws over the scratches hard enough to break the skin further and droplets of blood filled the cuts.

The scratches were red. Like the Alternian sun. Like the humans. Like a mutant’s.

The mood instantly changed.

The one holding you pushed you away, and instead strode towards Karkat, who backed away, snarling to the Subjugglators. It was painfully obvious how scared he was. The tall troll looked at his hand, and studied the blood with morbid fascination, before grinning disbelieving. “Could it be… the mutant?” He wondered out loud, the question more thoughtful than dangerously confused, and the woman perked up.

“Oh! You mean that one!” She grabbed Karkat by his arms, a grip that from his expression already gave bruises. It didn’t seem like his tries to get away did anything more than hurt himself, as she barely reacted. She scanned him closely, and smiled just as thoughtfully as the troll before “I thought he was supposed to be older?”

“What the fuck are you talking about?!” Karkat yelled, something that faded away into a hiss as the female tightened her grip.

They completely ignored him, and started to talk excitedly amongst each other. “You are correct; he doesn’t really fit the description.” You felt as confused as Karkat looked, and had no idea what you were supposed to do. Only perigees ago you wouldn’t have hesitated taking the side of the other Highbloods but… you kind of had expected this. It would have been stranger if Karkat had been normal.

Now was there any hope left for him?

 “Aren’t we supposed to bring all evidence to the Grand Highblood?” You saw Karkat tense at the mention of the Grand Highblood. Who wouldn’t? Everyone knew what it meant to be lead to bow in front of the nameless leader of the Subjugglators. A quick death was something you would never get.

 “Yes… but can’t we keep him for a little while?”

They seemed to have completely forgotten about you, finding a much more interesting toy and honestly you think you would have been able to go away if you wanted but… Your specibus shone slightly as you brought down the wand from it, quickly shielding the light it radiated with your cape. One of them noticed and turned around; making the other two look too.

Within a second of you raising your wand against them, Karkat closed his eyes, and you let the blinding white beam go towards them.

The surprised screams was all you needed as starting shot and you started to run. In the corner of your eyes you saw Karkat wrestle himself free, using his scythe, and ducking away before the temporarily blindness disappeared. It hadn’t hit straight on. They would soon be back on track. Worst case situation there were more nearby who had been alerted by now.

“Run!” You yelled as Karkat caught up with you and you ran towards the trees, and he snarled something about “thank you, I would never have thought of that,” while rolling his eyes. As the screaming started to die down behind you, you did no more talking and instead dedicated all energy of running. If Subjugglators were bad news normally, angry Subjugglators were way of your list of things you wanted to deal with.

The cape kept getting in the way, and you slowed down to shrug it off (it was no doubt which way you had been going anyway). But when you slowed down you detected something in the air. There was something more, that became more obvious as you continued running but concentrated. A feeling and a smell that the wind carried. And suddenly you stood still, looking towards your left as the sound became clear in your ears. So that’s why you felt so at home. Karkat stopped, turned and got back to you, heaving you towards him with your shirt.

“Why are you stopping!?” He screamed, looking worriedly back after your followers, but apparently seeing no one, since he got back to screaming. “If you hadn’t realized it yet. We. Are. Going. To. Die!” You looked back at him for a moment, grinning, which he answered with a cautious glare.

“I hear water!” You pulled him with, going towards the sound with higher speed than before. It took a moment for him to compose himself to the new direction, and maybe a bit sour about you taking off first. For a while he didn’t seem to know where you were going, but then the sound of waves grew so loud that even a Landdweller couldn’t miss them. Now you had a goal.

Reaching that goal was another matter though, as both of you pulled to an abrupt stop. Sure, there was water. Only the water was very far down a high cliff side. For you it weren’t actually that high, you could dive with ease from here, but for Karkat it was different.  

Something sharp whined past you, right next to your ear and you turned around, your back towards the sea and watched the Subjugglators emerge from where you had come from. The woman was spinning three rings on her arms and one small on her left hand. They all seemed to be sharp blades on the outside, while even on the inside so she could spin them. It was no big deal figuring out what had gone past you moments before. Carefully, feeling the rocks splinter under your feet, you backed out towards the edge.  She took a step closer as the two males joined up on your left and your right. To make the matter worse, slowly more Subjugglators appeared and closed up behind the original three, closing all the ways out.

Well, all the ways Karkat wanted to get out.

“Jump.” You said looking down, far, far down to the ocean splashing against the rocks. The sound was rumbling but still calming to your ears. It seemed to have the opposite effect on Karkat as he looked at you like you were crazy, and like he’d rather wanted to take his chances with the Subjugglators. You tried to convince him otherwise. “We have to jump, that’s the only way to escape.”

Suddenly Karkat moved backwards, you noticing too late the tall one had attacked and you felt him lose balance. You acted on instincts, quickly measuring the distance down (high? yep, hurt? yep, deadly? probably not) before gripping Karkat’s arm, and followed him down the cliff.

With Karkat screaming, you dove down the ocean surface.

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Until it is too late, and then you have already decided.
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“I can see it! We’re almost home!” Her voice was shrill in your ears and you could feel a headache coming along. Not strange, not unusual, and certainly not unexpected. But oh so never ending annoying. Walking with these trolls, your allies (friends was a word reserved for people you actually liked) was tearing at your mind in a way you had hoped to get away from.

Why couldn’t you just have landed in a warm recuperacoon, have got some sleep, and maybe a little piece of quiet. You didn’t even know why you didn’t fly straight back to hive (more than that you were in blueblood territory and having a Lowblood flying through someone’s lawn ring might be enough for culling).

“Don’t you think things are… slightly different. Of course I recognize our surroundings, but some things do not really fit as they were.” Oh god. There we go again. Equius took some STRONG steps past you, making you scrunch your nose at the smell. Seriously, how did Terezi stand that smell tenfold?

“Noooooooonsense,” Vriska waved dismissively with her hand without even looking at Equius, and turned to you with a grin instead. “Come on Beeboy! Stop sulking back there!” With a sigh you picked up your pace to match theirs, toying with the idea of using your powers (on them or on you, didn’t matter) but decided not to and continued to trudge on over the harsh terrain.

God you hoped Karkat had it worse than you right now. Oh, and maybe you could wish that to Eridan too. But that was probably too much to demand.

Chapter Text

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Shutting yourself down is the easiest way to escape. No more pain or emotions.  
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How lucky! Of course you would be lucky enough to end up in the right place at once. You had felt the turmoil with the transfer, you think everyone did. The landing on Alternia hadn’t been soft. Still it wasn’t exactly as you predicted, as you had been ready to get right back into another adventure, the game leaving you all on your toes. That obviously didn’t happen since upon waking up there was no new quest, only Equius fretting about finding a way to wake you up without accidently hurting you or Sollux.

Sollux woke up a bit later, his eyes opening back to blue and red and a warning blast before he got it back under control. (The burned smell of your hair only lasted a little while, and to his defence, you probably shouldn’t have tried to wake him up at close range with mind-control). It didn’t take long to understand you wouldn’t be finding anyone else, and without your PDA’s you couldn’t get in contact with them. Right then it didn’t really matter. It could have been better and it could have been worse. In retrospect your neighbour and the hacker in your team had been a lucky shot.

Of course, recreating a universe from scratch would mean some differences. But the black, sharp mountains that you spent your childhood in were the same. Both you and Equius speeded up as your feet recognized the ground you travelled easily over. Too bad Sollux was in one of his moods again. He grumbled behind you but continued at quickening pace, after you tried to urge him on. Hopefully he would keep up pretty good since you had no intention to slow down. That troll probably needed more exercise anyhow.

When you got home (hopefully the copy-paste of your former universe had gone and copied your hive correctly) you could drag Sollux to help you set up the connections to everyone else. And then maybe you could get a step further, and be able to contact John! It didn’t appear in your mind that you might not ever see the humans again, remembering the goodbye as they sent you off not as a goodbye, but as a see you later. Or well…. write with you later. Anyway, as soon as you got home, everything would be back to what it had been, only better.

But as soon you passed the cliffs leading home, you noticed that Equius had been right after all. Things were different, and missing. Or more exactly, his hive was missing.

Where once two majestic castles stood, now only stood one, with no sign of where the twin had gone. There was also no hint of the landslide that had killed your lusus, and said Spidermom was also not to be found. Your hive was still there, but also it looked kind of different. Okay, no doubt about it, it looked majorly different from what you had designed yours to look like.

“What?” Sollux asked both of you when he came up to watch the view. “Is it not supposed to look like that?” Your mood going down had apparently made his go up, as you hinted a tiny smirk at the end of his lips. Ignoring the childish urge to push him, you simply answered grumpily.

“Obviously not.” You huffed and started to walk again, breaking out in a run after a while hearing that the other two following after a while. This had to be investigated.

Suddenly you stumbled, going a bit to the side instead of forward, and barely managed to save yourself as the rock you had stepped on fell down into a large cave. The guys stopped, looked at you, before continuing around the hole. Sollux sat down next to it.

“This was made to be triggered.” He simply stated using his psionic-power to lift small rocks and dropped them down. They hit the ground way further down. He rose again and looked at you, mood-swings turned him back to grumpy and serious. ”It means that someone has triggered it to be a trap. We should probably expect more of these fine things along the way.”

Sure you did. Fall-pits, dropping stones from above, spikes and more slowed your way, but did not interrupt you and did not discourage you. Sollux still seemed like he just wanted to go home, but both you and Equius wanted to do that too, and therefor had to go to the bottom of this. Without even getting hit or hurt (the game had truly made you more attentive) you arrived at the bottom of the Hive. One of the lower windows had no shield and with a jump you entered it, looking around into the semi-darkness.

From the room you were in (unused, judging by the layer of dust), there only went a hallway deeper into the hive. Flickering light was seen at the end and you followed the lights, all quiet and careful. The deeper you came the more different the innards were getting from what you were used to, or, at least the rooms you usually spent your time in. There was no electricity, no noticeable computer-grubs and every room you got into was empty.

At least, you thought it was, until you entered a suddenly pitch-black room. A shot missed you only as you moved out of instincts, (an old gun it seemed to be, not the fancy glowy stuff Eridan used). The only light left was a still bright flame behind your backs. It was making your attacker invisible and you primary target. Well this was interesting

A voice rung out in the room, bouncing on the walls and making it hard, but not impossible, to spot.

”Who are you? How did you get past my traps?” The gun clicked a warning in the darkness and you immediately went back to back with the other two, grinning at the challenge. It sounded like a young woman, or maybe more of a mature girl. Equius probably couldn’t see anything through his glasses but he took stance and looked around either way.

It wasn’t that hard following her steps through the darkness. Terezi would probably be able to nail down precisely where she was, but for you sound was enough. She probably thought she was in full charge here, but she had forgotten that only two of three were bluebloods. From the corner of your eye you saw Sollux raise his hands towards the troll’s place. The air crackled, blue and red, before the troll was thrown up into the air. There was a shout of surprise, a yelling of slurs and firing of the gun. Even with Sollux moving her did the shots almost hit, but with a flip of Sollux hand he made the gun clatter down on the ground, and slid away from reach. He left her levitating a meter above the ground.

“Let me go damn psychic!” She growled, fighting enough to make it troublesome for Sollux to concentrate, but in the end gave up to preserve some dignity. You walked around, taking the only light and using it to light up the other torches around the room again as Sollux pulled her into the light. You still had your back turned towards them as you lighted the last light, when you noticed that the others were very, very quiet.

“Hey, Vriska isn’t that…?” Sollux asked, for once in his life sounding confused over something. And as soon you turned around you realized why. You could only see her from halfway back, but that was enough to make you take a step back. Equius looked at both of you and then took a step forward, speaking to the girl with polite voice.

“What’s your name?” The troll hung comfortably in the air, and looked at him from above. She glared, eight pupils shining at Sollux and Equius from underneath her hat.

“If you need to know, I’m Spinneret.” Sollux in turn didn’t understand why both you and Equius switched glances; he had never been interested in Flarping so it wasn’t surprising he didn’t know who she was. Other than your copy. Equius had heard you talk about her enough times to know how important she had been.

“Sollux, put the lady down.” Equius said, sounding more like and order and Sollux looked at him with what was probably more confusion. You didn’t quite know as you kept your eyes open at Spinneret. In the end Sollux seemed to give up.

“You can’t be serious,” Sollux lisped, sounding overdramatic as he put his hand to his face with a slap. With a wave of his other hand Spinneret dropped down and she landed with grace. “I know I’ve got this thing about twos, but sometimes two is two two much.” He smirked, and you glared back at him, while running up to your… your ancestor?

It was hard thinking about it, looking at the blueblood standing in front of you. She had your horns, was around the same height, the same wind brushed hair, and your sign, her sign stitched over her heart. She had to be at your age, give or take half a sweep. She turned to you, calmly and cautiously before stopping dead in her tracks and stared back at you. It was like looking in a mirror that had decided to take a change of clothes.

“Look. I’m also a Scorpio; I’m the same as you.” You clarified and she looked at your sign, with slow confusion and then interest as she looked up back at you. Her whole stance changed, still doubtful but more open and you clearly saw excitement in there. You were able to read your own face, after all.

“Now that is interesting.”  She confirmed your suspicions. She sounded as fascinated as you felt excited. “I didn’t know that there was another of… me amongst my generation… is that even possible?” A sound shard of suspicion was obviously still there, but she didn’t seem convinced to kill you anymore.

You risked a glance at Equius again, quietly seeking answers of how much you should tell her. You wanted to tell her everything, but she probably wouldn’t believe it all. On second thought… she would probably notice if you tried to lie. Better to be known as a complete fuck-nut than to become a potential threat to her.

“I…. I’m actually not from your batch.” You confessed and she raised an eyebrow in questioning before you took a breath to continue. “I know this is going to sound strange, and you’re free to believe me or not. I’m actually your descendant.” If she were surprised she didn’t show it, and simply seemed to think it over. After a few seconds her fangs split out from her mouth in an amused smile.

“Are you telling me you’re from the future?” She laughed, but looked at your clothes in an awareness that told you that you still had a chance to pull this through. You matched her smile with your own.

“Kind of yes. It’s the only explanation I could come up with.” She seemed to deem it as an acceptable answer, because her smile widened.

“Well… this leaves me with a dilemma. I don’t wanna be straight up naïve and believe you.” She took a step back then, but only to motion to all of your body. “But what will I do with such a crucial proof in front of me.” You had played with Terezi long enough to have an idea of what would come next, and you handed it to her without hesitation.

“Well maybe you’ll just have to interrogate me then. Maybe you’ll have your judgment after that?” You shrugged, feeling Sollux and Equius look at you. Maybe with trust but probably mostly with doubt. What would they know? The one best at handling yourself was probably yourself, so you simply gave a try to what you would have liked.  Just as planned Spinneret only seemed to ponder for a moment.

“I like how you think. Follow me down then.” She started to move away, but turned back a bit as she noticed not one of you moved. “Don’t be scared” She laughed again, it being mischievously not making things better. “First you come waltzing into my hive and now you’re concerned? Hilaaaaaaaaarious.” She turned her back to you, striding down the hallways with her boots echoing with every step.

She didn’t take you somewhere to kill you, as you had often done while feeding Spidermom. Instead you came to a room, also this sparsely lit, with a big wooden table in the middle and a few chairs around them. They didn’t really looked as used as they were probably meant to be, but that only made you feel most safe. It was good to know she didn’t have any usual visitors that could come crashing in.

Spinneret jumped up and sat down on the table, confidence back now when you had some business to do. She motioned with her hand for all of you to sit down around the table and you all slid down, Sollux forming a little heap with his head against the table. How could he not be thrilled about this? Beating out with her hand again, she addressed you with a grin matching your own.

“So tell me, dearest signmate. What were you doing here again?”

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You were raised to be hard, to take orders and kill without a thought and so you did.
-----------------------------

You knew from the moment you landed that you hadn’t really arrived in the right place. Well place was right, but time wasn’t. You were not too sure you still had that jumping ability, which made you feel both relieved and worried, you’d just have to get used to fixing mistakes the old way. The game had still left something with you, as your brain told you this was not the time you grew up in.

It was too bad you hadn’t got your wings back either; it would have been much easier to keep up with Nepeta if so was the case, but you guess you couldn’t have everything. That was alright! They would probably have got in the way. You sprinted straight as Nepeta ran before you, jumping over sticks and stones as she was in her true element. No land of tea parties could go against this.  

Going back to the thoughts of not making any more mistakes, you wondered how smart it was to run freely in an unknown forest, but the difference was that you trusted Nepeta more than yourself with this. You knew how to get in and out of tombs unnoticed, where to find hidden paths and hints. But up here Nepeta was in her forte. She had been a huntress all her life.

It was also Nepeta who stopped, her eyes spotting something further away that you couldn’t see. Soon it became clear and it made the cogs in your head spin.

Something was lying on the ground before you, staining against the green ground with a noticeable colour splash. But the fabric had been trampled down, and lost its former grace to the dirt. Nepeta glanced at you, before cautiously walking over, picking it up and rustling it free from grass. With closed eyes she smelled, looked, and prodded the fabric. It was no doubt was it was, but the question was how, and what had happened.

“Why wourrd Eridan furrget hiss cape here?”

Chapter Text

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But you were never raised to believe, only to be loyal to the things you did. Actions speak louder than words.  
---------------------------

It smelled like fish. Even you could smell that. This was clearly the cape Eridan carried around everywhere, the one he was careful not to hurt or damage. So why would it be down on the ground, trampled down and dirty? The answer came before you could even ask.

“He was escaping.” You pulled in a breath of the fabric, trying to place that other smell that had been haunting your nostrils. It took a moment to place properly, but when it did things started to add up.  “They were escaping.” You came to the conclusion and stood up, looking at Aradia with big eyes. “He wasn’t alone, Aradia! Karkat is with him!”

She didn’t seem as surprised as you felt but still looked down worriedly and thoughtfully at the purple cloth. “It makes sense. Most should have ended up with someone else, luckily I guess, but the fact that they were hunted is what worries me.” Whatever or whoever that chased them might still be here, was what she was trying to say.

With ears perched after any sound you actually noticed the sound of voices far away, getting closer. You dropped the cape without hesitation, hoping that no one would notice how it had moved and ran to the closest tree. Aradia did the same at her side. With ease you swung up on the first branch, jumped to the second and climbed up the last three with as little sound as you could.

You heard the rustles of leaves as Aradia climbed up in the tree next to yours, coming up to your height with a bit more trouble. Quietly, you waited. You waited long enough for you to believe that maybe you hadn’t heard anything and were only going paranoid. You waited long enough that you thought the voices had only been winds and it was safe to get down. As you got your fifth though about jumping down, you finally heard steps and motioned to Aradia to stay still and quiet.

Hopefully the leaves would protect you from whatever harm, but make you able to spot what happened on the ground.  

Five grown-up trolls walked the ground, loud and with no intention to hide or anything since they were all speaking loudly with each other. You curled together on your branch as they kicked the cape and you saw their dark purple signs, white faces hinting behind shaggy hair. These were the predators you were looking for, and this was bad.

“That goddamned obnoxious Seadweller.” One of the shorter snarled, rubbing his eyes as he fetched the cape, “Gonna rip his spine out nice and clean next time I see him.” The woman walking beside him laughed taking the cape from him as they continued onwards.

“It’s still your fault for not closing your eyes. I think his colour seemed to be nice!” She said with a smile, rolling the cape under her arm. “If only I could have got a sample from him and his mutant friend…” She sighed longingly and one in front of them turned around with a happy grimace matching his paint.

“That is not for you to decide anymore. You had your fun and missed the chance, the Grand Highblood will not be happy.” He said, sounding a little happier than he should at the possibility of the other Highbloods getting punished. “You let them get away too.”

Your claws tore into the wood to keep you calm; as you watched the Subjugglators walk away with their voices getting quieter until fully silent. Eridan. Karkat. The Grand Highblood. In a matter of moment this had grown bigger than you thought you could handle. With a swift jump you only made a stop on the second branch before the ground, and Aradia followed suit, coming up to you.

“What are we going to do?” You asked her, looking after where the trolls had disappeared. Aradia usually had some kind of knowledge what to do. But she wasn’t a god anymore, and right now she looked as lost as you had never seen her.

“I’m not sure.” She admitted, following your glance and somehow seemed to decide something in her own head. “But we can’t leave it like this.”

It wasn’t hard tracking down the Subjugglators; the hardest part was staying out of sight and out of notice. It wasn’t only a few times you were close to be caught, and it was probably only both of your instincts as a huntress and an used adventurer that kept you alive.

The trolls brought you to the mountain you had seen in the distance and around it to the side. The sight made you stop for a moment as a huge hole opened in the rocks. The cave seemed to go down deeper into the ground and the Subjugglators walked straight down, disappearing in the darkness. After only a quick check for clearance, you ran the open distance to the mountain when Aradia suddenly took the lead. She didn’t follow the big tunnel, but ran a bit further up searching with her hand after something.

“This used to be a brooding-cavern,” Aradia said as she followed the stone with her hand. “Abandoned for long, but still… the caverns usually split into smaller paths around the main entrance.” Truth to be told, there was a cliff that hid a hollow end into the mountain. You couldn’t see the end of it. Aradia looked at you once before taking a deep breath and she crawled into the small grotto.

You followed Aradia in; happy when the small cave seemed to open up more inside. After a bit of seeking in the darkness, the sound of voices slipped through cracks around you, sometimes louder and sometimes weaker but the caves seemed to go parrarelly next to each other for most of the time. You didn’t know how far you went, but there was a sudden crescendo in voices.

You came across a crack in the ground and immediately felt the difference in the air seeping up. The smell of blood was overwhelming. All your life you had painted with the blood of animals, drawing on your walls and that hadn’t bothered you at all. Now the smell made you sick. It was too much. You moved quietly, looking down the crack and breathing through your mouth.

The room underneath was filled with chatter, laughter and the occasionally shouting. It was impossible to discern any important information, and you looked around until you saw the five Subjugglators from before. You followed their steps as they went straight through the room, voices stopping as they marched up to a large throne.

No doubt the one on that throne was the Grand Highblood.

Only looking made your breath catch in your throat.

The Subjugglators went down on their knees in front of the throne, the huge troll leaning forward in quiet question and the troll in the middle looked up from where he had bowed his head. “Grand Highblood. We deliver great news.” He said and continued before The Grand Highblood could acknowledge him. “While on scout we found a young troll with the mutant’s blood. Unfortunately he got away by the sea.”  

“We only thought it was a little Lowblood too far from his lawn ring… He was with a Seadweller after all, and had a sign you see, but it was greyed out.” The woman continued where her companion had left off. “We didn’t notice at first. But he had the same red blood as the Signless.”

“A descendant?” The Grand Highblood finally spoke, his voice low and rumbling, unwillingly making you swallow. You couldn’t even imagine what to do if that voice was directed straight at you. It screamed at you to give yourself up.

“Possible. They were very alike.” The Grand Highblood closed his eyes, the paint making it seem like they were only hollow sockets and then stood up from his throne. The five trolls also stood and took a few steps back, joining the crowd watching intensely.

“Brothers and sisters” The Highblood started solemnly, his voice booming around in the room making it seem like he wasn’t the only one speaking. It made your bones shake. Subjugglators all wore smiles as he picked up a huge spiked club, slinging it over his shoulders as if it weighted nothing. His expression exchanged into an approving grin. “Looks like we have some MOTHERFUCKING MUTANT HUNTING to do, this beautiful night.”

He stretched to his full length, towering over every troll and broke out in mad laughter before swirling the club once in his hand, beating it down and cracking the floor. Not one of the Subjugglators flinched.

“Let’s paint it RED!”

Cheers broke out as the Subjugglators started to move, grabbing weapons with excitement growing and the chatter began again. Some of the ones closest to the door had already begun to settle out and in a hurry the room started to empty. The Grand Highblood walked last, some of the calmer Subjugglators walking with him. You stayed still, trying not to move until they all had disappeared and for a moment you relaxed. Way too early.

The Grand Highblood stopped. He turned his head, and you found yourself unable to look away. The grin he’d had dropped as his eyes suddenly roamed the room, and came dangerously close to where you were hiding. You couldn’t move away. He would see you. A shout stopped his eyes and he turned back, grinning again and following his brethren as they called for him.

You thought you were about to die.

Next to you Aradia was shaking, clutching the ground and didn’t even seem to notice her own whitening knuckles. You tried to lift your hand to comfort her, wake her up, but noticed you couldn’t move. It had been so close. Within seconds you remembered that you were supposed to breath, and pulled in a breath.

You were afraid. You were so deadly afraid and you didn’t know how to stop it. So many monsters had been slayed by your hands and you still couldn’t move. You thought you were going to die, you still thought you were about to die, but a more important thought interrupted you and snapped you out of the daze. He was going after Karkat.

“Araida, we have to go.” You said harshly, pleadingly, and she shook her head sucking in a breath. She looked at you, slightly confused over what had happened but quickly calming down. With another shook she cleared her head and her eyes looked at you with new fire, and only a slight bit of scared desperation.

“We have to find them,” She stated the obvious, as you both started to move back. It went faster this time, both of you knew where to jump and didn’t have to be as careful as before. You didn’t have the time to be careful. They were after Karkat, and Eridan, and they were going to kill them both if you didn’t get to them first.

You got out the same way you got in, crawling through the small hole and immediately hiding behind a bush. The surroundings around you were quiet, unsettling quiet. Even the animals of the grounds had sensed the commotion and disappeared. You tried to remember everything they had said in the throne-room, pushing away the feelings of fear and closing your eyes. They had said something about a sea… and it made sense that it was there Eridan would have headed off to. That’s where everyone was going, where you also had to go and you both knew it.

The place would be crawling with Subjugglators, bloodthirsty and ready to kill before capture. Still you had no choice.

Looking around one last time, you broke into a run.

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But you couldn’t ignore sensations knocking at the windows.
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You woke up to the sound of water. It was calming enough to make you go back to sleep and just listen for a little while longer.  But then your mind slowly caught up to you, making you remember you weren’t on LoDaG, or that there was any water on the Veil. Quickly you sat up, opening your eyes and pulling up your goggles from your eyes.  

There was a lake in front of you, its calm surface reflecting the two moons of Alternia. But there was also a strange light coming up from it and you crawled on your knees to the edge. Something shone from the bottom. You looked down, trying to discern what before widening your eyes realizing it was not something but someone.

With a loud splash you dove into the water and swum down to Kanaya as quickly as you could. Her clothes were filled with water, and made her much heavier than she should be. A Landdweller might have had trouble with that, the rocks were slimy and slippery underwater and even getting up on their own might have been hard. But you were used to drag whales through the water.

This was your home.

You hooked your arms around Kanaya’s armpits and found grip with your feet. With one big leap you shot up the water and then used only your feet to paddle up the distance. It would probably have been easier if Kanaya hadn’t been taller than you but with a slightly bigger effort you hoisted her up on land.
She lay still on the rock as you pushed yourself up and pulled her the last way away from water. She wasn’t breathing. Was she supposed to breathe? You had no idea how it was for rainbow-drinkers.  You put your hands on her chest, remembering the movies Eridan used to show you back when you were children. You pushed, once, twice and thrice.

She started to cough and you grinned in relief as her eyes fluttered open.

“Kanaya!” You hugged her by sheer happiness and she laughed breathlessly, pushing herself up on her elbows and looking over herself concernedly. Both of you were dripping wet. After another cough she shook her head and made water splash from the tops, and then tried to fix her hairstyle. When the tops wouldn’t bend as she wanted she sighed and gave up, looking around to see the nature around you.

“Good evening Feferi.” She finally addressed you after having taken in all the new impressions. “Looks like we made it.” Even through the tiredness and her usual elegance she sounded pleased and happy. You showed all your teeth in a big smile.

“Yep! We did!” You replied just as excitedly as someone might have expected being alive and getting home safely after everything that had happened.

Too excitedly to notice the green eyes watching you, from the darkness of the woods.

Chapter Text

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Slipping through the cracks.
---------------------------

After getting the last drops of water from your lungs, Feferi helped you stand. Your clothes were clinging you your body whereas hers seemed to only be slightly heavier than usually, probably with the help of some kind of Seadweller material. You made a mental note to ask her about it later, when you had settled down fully and safe. Right now you didn’t have the time to that. First priority was to find the others in your group, and you looked out at the lake. The surface had calmed down again, and didn’t seem to be disturbed by anything more. What if someone had landed down in the lake just as you?

“We should probably search for everyone else.” You voiced you worry, and Feferi caught on right away as she followed your glance, suddenly serious and thoughtful.

“I didn’t see anyone more… but I’ll take a dive and take another look!” The next moment she worked her shoes off, probably to swim easier, and then disappeared under water again. You could see her bright colours clearly (another thing you had to compliment her on, it would have been hard keeping track otherwise) before turning to the forest and took a path straight forward.

You didn’t shout, didn’t make any unnecessary sounds, but didn’t hide either. Your eyes were roaming the surroundings looking for anything that might be harmful, or might be one of your friends. It was quiet, the singing of a bird far away the only sound that reached your ears. Not even the noise of a city nearby.

Maybe you shouldn’t walk this far away, as nothing happened and you hadn’t even seen a hint of life. With a sigh, you turned back to the way you had come from, and then stopped as you faced the wind. For a moment there was a small, small hint in the air. If you were a normal troll you wouldn’t even have noticed it, but now you were a spectacular sparkly troll, that recognized the smell of what you once tasted.

You could smell blood. Feferi’s blood.

You didn’t care how your skirt rode up on your legs, or how uncomfortable the water dropping down felt, you just ran. You came just in time to see Feferi drag herself up from the water, noticing she didn’t use her left leg. Running up you grabbed her forearm and helped her, the water behind her turning light purple. There was a bleeding cut on her leg. Not big but from the amount of blood nothing shallow. You kneeled down beside her as she pulled her leg up, grimacing and inspecting it.

“Feferi, what happened?” You had calmed down now when you saw that there was no immediate danger, but the fact that the wound didn’t stop bleeding were still there.  

“I don’t know! I think some animal that bit me.” She rubbed the wound once more, slightly stirring out the tyrian colour and not helping it heal itself. That might have been a reasonable response, only if the cut had not been so clean. Slashed maybe? Or maybe something else (a weapon?), but you decided not to share your wonderings as she grinned sheepishly. “Sorry I made you worry.”

With only a slight smile you brought down your Sylladex and pulled out a long piece of green fabric and started wrapping her ankle. You would probably never use it anyway. You tightened the knot, looking completely concentrated in taking care of her wound, while all your other senses where pointed outwards.

From the slight shivers in Feferi’s gills, she was also suspicious about something in the surroundings, not trusting her own explanation. With a shared glance you stood up, Feferi only stumbling a little bit after putting too much pressure on her bad leg, before stabilizing. The forest was quiet, but concentrating you could feel the smell off warmth and blood. That was probably the privileged ability of a Rainbow-drinker. There was a slight movement in one of the trees and you both looked up, going into defence-stance.

“Who’s there?!” Feferi shouted towards the sound. You didn’t bring out the chainsaw, but kept the lipstick clutched in your hand. For a moment it was quiet, before someone came jumping down from the tree, gracefully landing slightly crouched on the ground.

You relaxed. The movements were that normal to you that the questioning only came when the female troll rose up, long thick hair curling around her back. She had Nepeta’s sign, but was not Nepeta. Nepeta wasn’t grown up and the style of her clothes was all wrong. Sure, it fit her better than the too-large clothes that Nepeta usually had, but it still wasn’t her. The smile though, was identical.

“Sorry I scared you, I just got curious of what children like you were doing out here!” She really seemed curious and you couldn’t help but to see Nepeta in her place, nosy and impulsive but also playing with her prey before the death-strike.

Maybe you should get your chainsaw out.

For safety and defence of course, you wouldn’t attack if she didn’t do it first. But when you brought out the lipstick you had in your pocket you had forgotten how wet it and your hands were. It slipped from your hands and bounced down on the grassy ground. Before you had the time to get it the Leo-woman had already snatched and held it carefully in her hand. Looking at it curiously. She didn’t seem to mean harm, and didn’t seem to know what it was or how to use it. You only hoped she wouldn’t accidently unlock the seal.

“May I ask, what your name is?” You asked, trying not to look too much that you wanted your weapon back. She was distracted from the thing in her hand and straightened proudly.

“I have since long thrown my name away in tribute to my beliefs.” She explained unhelpfully. Probably seeing your disbelieving expression she fell down from her proud stance, getting back to a more normal kind. With a softer smile and a polite nod she continued. “But I’ve been called The Disciple, if you need something.”

“So, Disciple,” Feferi stepped around you, her smile not yet falling from her mouth, but also not unguarded. “What do you have for business with us?”

Suddenly the older troll looked embarrassed. Not fully with blush but more uncertain and once again giving the feeling that she wasn’t dangerous. She put her hair behind her ears with a swift motion. You fought to keep your guard higher as the hair immediately fell back. It wasn’t used to that motion, no matter how it screamed of uncertainty, that meant that this older Nepeta, this stranger, was either not used to being uncertain and embarrassed… or she was only putting up an act.

“I was actually wondering if you wanted to follow with me back! I would feel bad just leaving you here…”

You were about to refuse immediately, when Feferi suddenly pulled at your skirt and looked past you, her eyes shining in a way that with easy uncovered excitement. “Is it alright for us to have a moment?” She asked with a full smile, sharp teeth and all, and for a moment The Disciple’s eyes widened before smiling just as happily.

“Oh! Yes, yes of course!” She said and turned around as if the flowers beneath her feet were the most interesting she had seen in her grownup life.

Feferi dragged you aside, smiling gleefully as she bent you forwards so she could whisper in your ears. “I have read about this! In the ancient books I’ve got at home there is a chapter of a rebellion. It was the first rebellion, before the Summoner’s, and The Disciple was one of the four pillars of the revolution!”

Her face fell as she continued, falling back onto the balls of her feet.

“But that was many, many sweeps ago. Even before the adults’ banishment… and you never got to know what happened with The Disciple. Speculations were that she went insane.” She looked back at the troll woman, who stood and pretended she wasn’t trying to listen. Or maybe she was actually polite enough to not eavesdrop. “You don’t believe…” She began, looking for answers in your face and you abruptly turned your head back to her.

“With all the shenanigans we have passed through, it wouldn’t be surprising if we somehow have ended up somewhere we do not belong, no.” You answered, once again glancing back to The Disciple and Nepeta’s sign. They looked too alike for it to be a coincidence. “But if that’s the case we, excuse the phrase, might have bitten off more than we can chew.”

“What are we going to do then? We really don’t have anything better.” Feferi said, closing, and you felt yourself give up on other alternatives. If it were true and you had gone back in time, that would mean that there was still adults on the planet, and it would mean that you’d be plunged into a world more dangerous than the one you were born into.

“…we could follow with her. But be ready to escape if necessary.” With that you took a breath to calm your nerves and together you walked back to where the Disciple still stood, fixing her hair and apparently trying to break out some knots. You coughed politely and she spun around, her fingers abandoning her hair quickly.

“So? Have you decided yet?” She was smiling, probably expecting the answer that you were about to give. She was still toying with your lipstick in her hand, and you decided to be safe before sorry.

“May I get my lipstick back, first?” You asked, and she looked slightly surprised before shrugging and throwing the small tube through the air. You caught it and immediately let some of the tension drain from your body. You looked at Feferi once again and she nodded curtly, trying to hold her face. “We accept.”

The Disciple sighed happily, making swaying motion with her hand and suddenly the forest around you rustled with movement. You were surrounded in an instant. Of pure instinct you shoved Feferi behind your back, closer to the lake. The adults didn’t attack, but all were carrying weapons. The Disciple smiled, just as happy as before.  

“I’m so glad you come willingly, little Heiress and pretty Rainbow-drinker, this would have been much harder otherwise.”

-------------------------
All of this was your fault, after all, and your brain was unwillingly catching up to what you had done.
--------------------------

You were waking up. That was the first thing you noticed, the second being that it kind of hurt. Not really much as true pain but that little sting that could be a bit annoying. You couldn’t move your legs, and while that normally would be the default you could still feel the weight of the mechanic-legs. Oh you hoped you hadn’t broken them. That would be awful. Equius would be really, really mad too.

“Are you awake?” A voice suddenly said beside you, and that voice made you wonder. It sounded a bit like Rufio, or no, not really, but it had that layer of pressure that only trolls in movies had. The voice of a grownup. You feigned sleep a little bit more. The troll next to you sighed, moved as if looking away for a moment before his voice came back, quieter this time. “It doesn’t matter; all that does it that you can hear me.”

He was quiet for another moment, as steps passed by the room where you lay. “I will give you some time to think, but I need you to give me information later. There’s no need to be afraid, I won’t let the indigo find out…” Indigo? Was he talking about Gamzee? Before your guest could continue there was a commotion, running steps and someone screaming about that someone important had returned, with company. The troll swore silently before quickly getting up and it seemed as he would go away quickly. But then his voice was down to a whisper right next to your ears.

“You’re with friends now. We’ll protect you from the Coldblood. I promise.”

Chapter Text

In the dream someone was speaking to you. But it faded as the dream crashed rumbling down. You closed your ears as well as eyes.

You heard voices call for you, but you didn’t listen, didn’t want to listen. This is not how it was supposed to be.

It’s easy to pretend you’re doing everything right, as it should be. Too easy. You don’t see the cracks.

Until it is too late, and then you have already decided.

Shutting yourself down is the easiest way to escape. No more pain or emotions.

You were raised to be hard, to take orders and kill without a thought and so you did.

But you were never raised to believe, to think and be loyal to the things you did. Actions speak louder than words.

But you couldn’t ignore sensations knocking at the windows.

Slipping through the cracks.

All of this was your fault, after all, and your brain was unwillingly catching up to what you had done.

...

...

...

...

...

Your name is THE HANDMAID, but you have also been called THE DEMONESS. And you want change.

Chapter Text

You opened your eyes, and couldn’t see a thing.

The things you smelled were a completely different story though. At first you were thrown off by the smell, since it was different from what you were used to, the game had had its own special aroma and that one were gone. You weren’t sure if you missed it or not, but you did not wither recognize the place around you. Behind your back was a wall, from the feeling troll-made, and if the different in strengths of the smell you would say you were in a small room.

Luckily it took no time finding the door, open and no metallic scent of bars, but you didn’t know what were outside of that door. For one thing that bothered you about your whereabouts were that you couldn’t smell air or grass, only ground and mud. Even that was only a slight smell, hidden by that artificial one that came from the wall.

You grinned, getting a neon-green crayon from your specibus and drew a line at the floor. From all your Flarp-experiences, this was a very, very well made hideout, and you seemed to be a prisoner. Though a very loosely set prisoner. For why didn’t anyone guard you, why were you not hurt if that were the case?

The best move to do right now was simply that, moving. Marking this room would make you have a base, knowing where you started from, and a place to return to in case of emergency. You stood up, subconsciously looking around for your cane before realizing you didn’t have it. It wasn’t even in your specibus. Swearing silently you walked around the room, hand against the wall. You might have no trouble to get straight to the door, but you never knew if there were any traps that the strange smell hid.

You came out to an empty corridor. The sound of much noise and voices were heard from the corner of the thin hallway, signaling a bigger hall crossed it outside. Most likely this was only a small twig if you compared the hideout to a tree. While you still smelled at that corner behind your back, your ears heard the steps before your nose was able to distinguish the new smell.

You smelt the troll come up from behind, but decided to not notice him, or, make him not notice that you had already noticed him. When he put a hand on your shoulder you gave a false screech of surprise and spun around, looking around like you couldn’t pin down his exact location with your back turned.

“Should you really be up and walking yet?” He said, and it made you stop. Smell. Tilt your head. Smell again. The voice was the same as your angry little glorious leader, but the smell was different. He was not really missing that special-Karkat smell, but it was that second half missing. The one that smelled of his Hive, his lusus all those things the environment had given him.

“Who are you?” You asked, trying to keep a grin from crawling up, and instead held your expression, imagining your mouth turning into a question mark. He laughed, breathily and from the sound of his clothes he shook his head. Wait. What was that small scent that had come from his hood? Something that made you think of the sun, of Dave and Aradia’s clothes, of blood hidden behind anonymous gray.

Was that… red!

He bent down to your level, and the smell got stronger, the red also mixed with the smell of orange popsicles which meant his eyes were filled up red, delicious candy-red! You were inches away from licking his eyes. He started to talk. “Oh right, you were unconscious when we carried you in. My followers call me the Signless, and you could probably use that too.”

There was still a commotion going on outside, and you smelled another (rust-blood?) troll come running. You realized the red smell would disappear, and reacted instantly as you were used to do with Karkat. Before The Signless could straighten up, you latched on to his embroidered hood with your teeth.

To your defense you would probably have had more problems if you had licked his eyes.

The troll seemed to forget the important thing he was supposed to said, only standing still and probably staring. “Uh… Signless, is she biting your hood?” Calmly the Signless started to loosen your bite and you promptly dropped his hood, a delicious thread sticking in your teeth. Totally worth it.

“Sorry! I do that sometimes!” You smiled, going for something innocent even though that expression had never ever succeeded and probably made you look even more mischievous. “It’s not really something I can help, I’m blind you see. I see with my tongue.”

This seemed to interest the Signless, but the interrupting troll seemed peeved with your actions. You grinned at him, abandoning any kind of innocence as he probably wasn’t happy about you biting his leader, but as said leader didn’t do anything he couldn’t do anything either. The calming breath he took was laughingly obvious to you, as you pulled the red thread from your teeth. You would so keep it.

“Anyway, Signless. The Disciple is back…” You were forgotten as the Signless turned alert after hearing the name of this Disciple (you couldn’t deny being interested too, the name was spoken with respect which meant s/he was probably important, and if also s/he interested this version of Karkat… why shouldn’t you be curious?) “She brought some more guests with her that...” He seemed to hide the fact that he was looking at you with meaning, or rather, you knew it just because he paused and got so quiet so that you wouldn’t understand. “They were also lost in the woods, not far away from where we found…”

Once again he got quiet and you guessed that you had been found in the woods, only continued to smile as if getting nothing as Signless turned back to you, close but unfortunately outside licking range. “Are you going to wander off again if I leave you?” He asked and you replied with honesty without hesitation.

“Yep!” He chuckled, and you tried to imagine Karkat’s face smiling. It didn’t work very well. The next moment his hand was carefully gripping your upper arm, and you latched onto it immediately strengthening the act of dependence. You were only a small, blind, naïve young troll after all.

“Then follow, but stay close to me.” He said as the troll in front of you waited for you to catch up before walking around the corner.

You came out to what you decided (from the sound and the lingering stench telling you that there was always many trolls running through here) was the main hall and held tightly onto the Signless’s arm. You tried to get as much control over the place as you could, when you discerned a special smell amongst all the others. Gamzee was sitting at what you believed was a wall, another troll close to him but well outside attack-range, and you knew he was looking at you. You made no show that you have found him, and with a clumsy “stumbling” he caught on.

“Pyrope! Over here!” He called out and you could turn, grinning as you searched with your unseeing eyes. A chain rustled and you saw him waving for your inner eye from the way the smell zigzagged. You guessed he was just pointing it out.

Past you would probably have run up to him, ignoring the many smells of the grownups, but you were still cautious. There was no smell of sopor around him and you wouldn’t have expected any. You didn’t think Gamzee would get back on that limey-smelly-sleeping-drug blocking most of his smells, and Karkat would probably have scolded him if he did, but it was still a bit unsettling. Mostly because Karkat himself wasn’t there. The other thing was the chain he kindly had showed you. That chain was either there as a punishment for something he had done, or a predicament for something that he might do. Counting from the feeling of calmness from Gamzee it was probably the latter.

“They haven’t hurt a helpless blind girl as you, right sis? He said, and you answered with a grin. Walking over to him and you heard him rise up, meeting up with you as far out as his chains would go, politely holding out an arm for you to lean on, like you were completely blind and would have to trust him to not trip.

Maybe you would have it harder to trust this Gamzee, rather than the one you grew up with over the grubnet, but he would probably be more trustworthy with secrets. “So where the motherfuck are you going, ‘rezi?” The question was obviously not to you, you had no idea where you were going, and knowing that Signless answered.

“My matespirit have returned, with something that might interest you.” He started and for a moment seemed thoughtful, the pause obviously making both your guide and the guard worried about what they knew their leader would do. Signless came up to the two of you, but still speaking to Gamzee with a soft voice. “I think it’s fine if you follow with us too.”   

You heard the chain fall to the ground, and Gamzee’s arm moved a bit as he used his hand to rub the wrist where it had been, but then it stabilized again. As you started to walk again you hung on that arm, not all too surprised when Gamzee seemed to know where to go without anyone telling him. He had been awake longer than you after all.

Soon you started to smell the slight hint of air above you, telling you that this were probably one of the ways out (A hideout like this had to have more) and from the open space it seemed to be a gathering hall, now filled with a group whispering trolls gathering around the strangers in the middle.

Strangers that you knew as fast as you got a sniff of their smell.

“Terezi, Gamzee. I’m glad to see you alive.” Kanaya’s voice told you were she stood, a bit strained and the way she didn’t say alright opened up to more tension at the room, adding to the fact that you could smell Feferi’s blood. You started to guard yourself a little bit more as you walked through to the middle; Gamzee straightening from his slouched pose told you he felt the same. But Feferi sounded as cheerful as if she was home underwater instead of underground with a group of Lowblood trolls.

“Guys! Stop looking leach that, I’m fin!” Well, she seemed good enough to make fish-puns and notice how you felt. More so she paid no attention to you being surrounded by many other trolls and continued talking, or glubbing, on only addressing the two of you. “I’m so glad you seam okay, are you the only ones here?”

Before you could answer the question affirmative, aware of the way everyone was looking at you with silent attention, Gamzee shot in.

“Tavros’s here too, but I don’t know where.”  He said the last part accusingly, and you could kind of agree with him on that. Obviously Tav had not been close by you, if he had been, you would have known. So without this piece of information from Gamzee you probably wouldn’t have known that Tavros had been there at all. And that was enough to make you alarmed.

“He’s still sleeping, we would never hurt him.” Someone from your side said, from the smell a yellow-blood, intonating on the “we” and you felt Gamzee grit his teeth, his other hand closing around his own arm on your side. He wasn’t really doing a good job on concealing a possible anger, but better than you would have expected without his morail nearby.

“I would never hurt Tavbro.” Gamzee replied, his ‘never’ almost getting up a crescendo to a scream, but choked away at the last time. Before it could go the wrong way, the yellow seemingly ready to give something back, the Signless came back from where he had been speaking to a forest-green smelling woman, whom you guessed were the Disciple. How strange. With all the other smells around you, you couldn’t really find hers, but it was very familiar.

“I’m sorry to interrupt your reunion, but are you implying your missing more of your friends?” He asked and from the rustle of clothes your three friends looked at each other before Kanaya once again took place.

“We were originally a group of twelve.” Apparently she was going with honestly, a smart choice with how thoroughly outnumbered you were. “There is another Seadweller, two Bluebloods, a yellow, a green and a rust and…” She stopped, probably finally looking, really looking at Signless and probably seeing what you smelled.

“Two rusts.” Gamzee countered, ending any kind of doubt, and otherwise his glare stopped any other objections. It also stopped Kanaya from being distracted, though Feferi let out a small glub that could mean both surprise and glee at the sight of the Signless. Unfortunately you didn’t speak fish.

“Yes… two rusts.” Kanaya continued, only taking a moment before composing herself and continuing like nothing had happened. “We do not know where they are, but as you might guess we are very worried about them.” She was going with the pity line, also a smart move, and Feferi finished what was already implied.

“The best for us would be if we could go looking for them. They’re out friends, and they might be hurt.” She sounded as sincere as she probably was, but you could feel more than smell the unease of the group around you. No way this would pass, even as everyone turned to Signless for an answer.  

You could guess his expression and the coming answer by the way Gamzee tightened his grip around your arm in a way of keeping himself from screaming or lashing out. The Signless sighed and his voice was telling you an apology, but left no room for second options. That’s more like your version of Karkat.

“I’m sorry. I can’t let you leave.”

Chapter Text

You were going to kill Eridan!

You swore slightly as you clung to a pointy, slippery rock with your aching arms. Yes, you were going to kill him… when you were able to let go of the rock… and were out from the sea… onto sweet, sweet land… Where the hell was that bastard anyway? As on cue Eridan’s head appeared over water again, splashing you as he trampled water and the streams under the surface apparently not bothering him at all. You clung harder to your rock while trying to glare at him. He answered with a sneer.

“What’s wrong Kar? You should have told me you were as scared of the water as Nepeta’s lusus.”  Your glared increased slightly (which meant glaring a lot more).

“What the fuck are you doing?” You asked, as he swum over to you, looking prepared to go under again. Without answering he took a dive, deep enough for you to lose sight of him and then appeared a little way back, closer to the cliff this time.

“I’m looking for tracks of waterbeasts.” He finally explained and swum to your rock, holding to it with one hand looking all serious and somehow much more comfortable than you had ever seen him. “I know that the giant five-armed-underwater-beast likes to live in these kinds of waters.” Eridan clarified and promptly ignored your widening eyes.

“They’re not really dangerous unless you get under them or they catch you since it’s pretty easy to swim away from them…” He looked at you for a moment, looking thoughtful and then smacked his hand against his face as if he thought he himself was being stupid. But he had a full smile on. “Oh right… How stupid I forgot, Landdwellers can’t swim!”

Oh yes. You were so going to kill him when you got out of here.

“Joke aside; I think I have found something. So hold your breath.” Eridan kindly informed you, before he dragged you underwater. In a moment you were submerged, and panic started to seep through your body. If Eridan hadn’t hold onto you, you would with no doubt have been swept away by the sea, or crushed against the cliffs.

Or actually, the crushing against the cliff seemed to still be a thing as you felt Eridan drag you towards them, swimming quickly. The stones came closer, and you closed your eyes preparing for impact.

An impact that never came.

Everything went dark around you, and you knew the sharp cliffs sat around you ready to cut you whenever you passed them by. Eridan swiftly avoided them by following the stream. A sudden turn in the cave made you bounce into a stone you hadn’t seen, and the surprise made you open your mouth and the little air you had left escaped in a ray of bubbles.

Eridan seemed to notice because you heard something like a curse before he speeded up. You felt the water pressing, closing up on panic, before Eridan pushed you up onto a flat rock surface; wonderful air filling you lungs (after a considerable amount of coughing and spluttering).

“Couldn’t you have warned me a little bit!?” You yelled, not as loud as you were used to, the sound bouncing around in the little cave you were in. In the back of your head you noticed that you could actually see around and that light would have to come from somewhere. It didn’t get priority as you were still shaken up, angry.

“And would you have agreed?” He pouted grumpily, not rising from the water but rather sinking further down. “Well sorry for saving you, it feels good to know you have such trust in me.” You calmed down a bit, clenching you fists and then unclenching them in slow motions, before you replied, voice down.

“Maybe I’m just still kind of surprised you haven’t tried to drown me.”

The echo of the words quickly died down and everything was quiet, Eridan only staring at you with surprised eyes. Any kind of retort he might have been planning to say seemed to die in his throat as his face fell into something ashamed, eyes avoiding yours.

“I… I don’t know okay….” He whined, sinking down in the water until only his eyes were over surface, making a sound which you guessed were what real “glubs” sounded like underwater, kind of like a hiccup. He rose again. “I know I should have abandoned you, but it’s not like I could just leave you to them, even with your freaky colour.” If he saw you flinch he ignored it. “Thing is that you were always so careful of hiding it… so I… I think I actually might have been more annoyed if it wasn’t something weird.”

It looked like he wanted to submerge, and you didn’t know what to say. Avoiding his eyes you quickly changed subject, sighing.

“Come up before they realize we aren’t as dead as they want us to be.“ You interrupted any thought he might have and stood up, shaking your clothes as to free them from water. They would with no doubt take some time to dry, not talking about stop being soaked. The cave you were in, seemed to be the end of a long tunnel going further into the mountain. At least it seemed to point upwards.

You started to walk slowly, hearing the splash of water as Eridan followed you and walked faster as he caught up. Light came from somewhere further on, that strange but familiar look of purple mixed with green. The cave suddenly split, one part going down, and the other steep upwards.

It was from the above one that you suddenly heard steps.

Someone moved above you, jumped down, and suddenly you were embraced with a hug seeming more like a tackle, one that you would recognize anywhere. “Karkitty!” Nepeta greeted happily, her hug secure and very tight.

Right after her another set of running steps came and Araida appeared from a platform above, jumping down with ease.  “I’m so glad we managed to find both of you!” She said while smiling and nodding to herself as if to convincing herself of something. “Now if we can just find a way out of here…”

“Aradia? Nepeta? What are you doing here?” You heard Eridan ask behind you, that little stutter coming back on his ‘W’, as Nepeta released you. He looked surprised but with no doubt very much relieved. That bit of relief disappeared as he continued. “Is there a reason to not go the way you came?”

The girls looked at each other, their expressions telling you more than you wanted to know.

“The Grand Highblood is coming.” Aradia explained with quiet voice, answering both question at once and you felt something in your body freeze.

“Personally?” Eridan continued, sounding as if all air had gone out of him, and you had to admit to feeling it yourself. This was bad .This was much worse than before. It was one thing being chased by some Subjugglators who were only having fun, and one thing to be hunted down by Gamzee’s ancestor. You were really going to die.

“…shit” You grumbled, pulling a hand through your hair and clenching it, the pain helping you settling down from the oncoming panic. You heard Eridan take a breath, before stepping forward and facing you three.

“We’ll have to get up your way, going by sea would be hard even if it was only me and Kar, I won’t be able to keep track on all of you.” Basic logic. Something clicked in your head, and that special feeling of clear leadership you had always had thank you very much appeared once again. Eridan was right; there was only one way to go.

“We’ll have to go up.”

After a non-existent discussion you started heading up, Araida and Nepeta leading the way and explaining what they knew. That this was an old brooding cavern, right now base of the Subjugglators, your blood mentioned halfway but not pressed on. You wouldn’t have been surprised if they had both known.

Soon the walls around you became more obviously painted with the light of the moons, and finally you saw the end. The hole you climbed up from where a bit away from the mountain, but not as far from the sea as you wished. It was quiet. Hopefully that meant something good for once; Subjugglators weren’t known to be very much stealthy. You didn’t speak, didn’t want to make any unnecessary sounds as you started away among the trees.

You started to go round the mountain, over would only make you an easier pray, when Nepeta sniffed the air, looked around before she spun around back towards you holding her hands out in a stopping sign.

“Everybody get down!!” She screamed, before the explosion sent you all tumbling down to the grass.

When you looked up from your fall, you saw the shadows gathering before you, the grown-up trolls grinning with fangs and sharp teeth through their paint. Your claws buried down into the ground before you pushed yourself up, standing hunched in defence. Eridan and Araida got up behind you, apparently not hurt, but Nepeta was standing in front of you, frozen, and looking away from the group.

You knew why as a giant of troll stepped into sight and your stomach curled into itself. Nepeta was visibly shaking, her mouth open in a wordless scream. Her hands were twitching, claws out but at this moment as dangerous as if they had been made from flowers. It wasn’t for the first time you realized; you wouldn’t be able to fight this.

“Nepeta!! MOVE!!” You grabbed her, pulling her so that she didn’t face the Grand Highblood anymore. Her eyes were terrified, slightly greener than usual, but slowly woke up. You stumbled backwards, keeping your eyes straight at the Subjugglators and away from the Grand Highblood. At least for as long as you could.

You only gave a quick glance, before averting your eyes. With only the one look you already saw the resemblance of your morail and you didn’t want to see more. The Grand Highblood didn’t move as to chase you, but the other Subjugglators did, slowly, almost walking, closer. They were playing with you. Not feeling spectacularly much to join in their game, but also not wanting to become a smear at the ground, you started to run.

Pain.

There was a sudden pain at the left side of your back, as you felt a spike bury itself into your body. Not shallow but neither dangerously deep. It wouldn’t stop you. With a hard grip you grabbed the edge and pulled it out, throwing it at the ground behind you. You wouldn’t drag the other down.

Nepeta led the way, being the fastest and running zigzagged to find the easiest way. Even with the front she put up, it was easy to see how shaken up she was, a misstep here and there making her run staggered and it looked like she had a hard time to breathe all because of fear. But it was also that fear that spurred her on, adrenaline keeping her going and it should do the same to you.

Thing was that it didn’t.

The more you ran the more you had to keep blinking to keep the world from spinning. And it was getting harder. You felt sluggish, and your body longed to lay down to rest. You blinked. And the world blacked out for a moment. When it came back you hadn’t even taken a step, only stumbled before managing to straighten. If you hadn’t your next stop would have been face-planting into the ground.

The world spun again, and it took a moment for you to realize that it was you that had spun, fallen down and crashed against the forest floor. It was hard to concentrate, and you only noticed the others had stopped and returned with them coming down next to you. Your wound felt numb; actually, you didn’t feel it at all, just a weak throbbing. All of you felt so unnaturally drowsy, making you want to sleep.

Within a second you realized what that meant.

Shit. Shit! nononono! How could you have been so naïve!?

“Karkat, is something the matter?” Aradia asked, looking around cautiously after an imagined enemy and reaching forward to help you up. You shook her hand off.

”They shot me with something.” Even speaking felt weird, almost slurred and you shook you head to clear things up. They took a collective breath, knowing that they would have to leave you if they wanted to get away. “I’m probably going to sleep soon.”

“We can carry you!!” Nepeta refused, looking sternly at you. No matter how much you wanted that to be true, they were already catching up to you with ease, and if they had to literally drag your sorry ass all the way running it would be impossible to get anywhere.  

“And everyone will be captured and Karkat will be forced to watch us culled.” Everyone turned to Eridan, who looked slightly disgusted and embarrassed of what he had said, but in a moment he continued. “Oh come on, they’re Highbloods, it’s what they think is fun.” It was what I used to try to be, went unsaid as he still made his point.

The four of you got quiet, looking down in the ground. Any moment now you would get caught. And they would get killed. You had to spend every second concentrating to stay up, but they still had a chance to escape if you didn’t drag them down. You breathed deep, nailing them all with a glare.

“Now listen all of you, before my tongue swells up enough so that I can’t speak.” You punched Eridan as he rolled his eyes and a “thank god for that” was mumbled but it was nice of him to try to joke. You swallowed, concentrating on the light of the moons to stay awake; at least the green one was bigger right now.

”This is the last order of your leader.” That got their attention. Your voice slowly did a crescendo as you spoke. “I swear, if you aren’t running by the time I count to three, I will haunt you the rest of your pitiful life and I’ll scream in your dreams until you’re deaf and then when you can’t hear me anymore I will write poems on your walls about your stupidity.” Aradia offered a small, but oh so sad smile, as she started to shake her head.   

“Karkat, You know we would never…” You glared at her, defiantly.

“One.”

“Karkitty! You can’t do this!” Nepeta leaned forwards, anger in all her movements but you answered with your own, no room for doubt second thoughts

“Two…”

“…Kar… you can’t be serious… I was only joking before…” Eridan sounded scared, with a little bit of that usual whine.

Before any could continue, the ground where you had been where peppered with arrows, knives, and one of two other undefined weapons. Not one of them even graced you, but Eridan, Aradia and Nepeta just barely avoided getting impaled after rolling away. If they stayed they would get killed.

“RUN!”

Eridan dragged Nepeta back as she ran towards you instead, barely saving her from death and they moved back into the safety of the trees. Aradia yelled something to you, but you couldn’t hear it, either from the drug or for the sudden noise all around you. They all looked back, only once, before speeding away.  

You stood up, feeling sluggish and even stumbling a bit, hands at your side. With a heavy sigh you turned around, gritting your teeth and clenching your fists. Your whole body was shaking. Now that the other three were gone you couldn’t hold up an act of leadership and courage. You were scared, no, terrified. You had waited for this day ever since you got to know about the hemospectrum, and had resigned to that fate as good as you could.

At least this would be a spectacular way to die. And maybe you managed to delay the hunt on your friends.

The Subjugglators circled you like a herd of hungry howlbeast. You saw one or two continue to speed after your friends, bastards probably thought they could capture them just as quick. (You ignored the small voice in your head that told you that they could and probably would, now when they were actually serious).

You didn’t see them move, your senses shutting off as they closed in and in the next moment all you felt was pain.

You were ripped from side to side, fighting and trashing as you were thrown around and nails cutting into you, tasting your blood. But soon you weren’t passed around as much, only pushed forward with one at each arm. All tiredness was shot out of your body as they forced you down on your knees, arms bended up on your back further than you thought they could go and made you bend your back, bowing your head.

You knew who the Subjugglator that stopped in front of you was without even being able to look at his shoes. The pressure on your arms stopped being too much as one let go of an arm, using his free hand to grab at your hair and bending your head up uncomfortable.

In books there had always been colourful descriptions about how every troll became cold as ice in the presence of the Grand Highblood, that you had to get help from his followers to get down on your knees, that you couldn’t move even while being crushed to death. A fear so pure it was paralyzing. Your body did the opposite.

It went into haywire.

You started to struggle, feeling a scream sticking in your throat as the Subjugglators laughed around you. They all quieted as the tip of a club slammed the ground next to you, the “tip” a bad word as the whole club was as big as you, and seemed way heavier. One of the spikes was only centimetres from your eye. The Grand Highblood kneeled down, and you fought between the urge to close your eyes or keep them wide open. The wide open won.

“So you’re the mutant.” He spoke, and you could feel it far down in your throat, like the silence after thunder, making you wait for the lightening to crash down. “WHAT A JOKE, a small MIRACLE freak-show.”

He reached out for you, and the Subjugglators behind you dropped their hold within a moment. Trying to hide your fear with a scowl you scurried back as far as you could go, bumping into the trolls around you. It didn’t matter. You just wanted to get as far away as possible.

You didn’t want to die this way, didn’t want it to hurt.  

His hand was around your throat before you noticed him move, pulling you forward in grip that made you gasp for air and from pain.   

“are you WORRYING, about your LITTLE TRAITOR FRIENDS?” He was smiling, amused when your struggles started to die down. There was no strength left to continue claw at his hand. He was close enough that you felt his breath, and it only reminded you of the lack of you own. “you’ll see them soon.” You saw him grin through your blurring and darkening sight. “as some PRETTY COLOURS ON YOUR WALL.”

Without the pain even the fear couldn’t keep you awake. Without warning your body stopped working, falling down if only not for The Grand Highblood’s bruising grip. With only the feeling of being lifted up, and his laughter ringing in your ears, you fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Vriska was practically skipping with glee, giddily and happy. Usually this meant that something bad was about to happen. This time fortunately seemed to be an exception, with good reason. Pretty much everyone, except you or well, Feferi, would be extremely excited of meeting their ancestor.

“It was nice of lady Mindfang to let us go and give directions.” You admitted. It wasn’t really as if you were lost in that sense but it helped getting someone who knew about how this place was now, point you the way to the closest forest. She had been surprised, but you wanted to find your friends and hopefully they wouldn’t have landed close to a community. Also, Nepeta would surely seek herself to the woods.  

“She’s not Mindfang yet.” Vriska spun around and corrected you, arrogance and pride showing through. “Right now she’s only Spinneret.” The name was told with awe, followed with a happy snigger. Truthfully that was a bit worrying, but you only continued following Vriska as you walked over the sharp rocks.

“… she didn’t really let us go that easily though.” Sollux had taken to levitate slightly after he had set off his third trap on your walk away from Vriska’s… no, not yet, Lady Mindfang’s Hive. His mood had dropped down into one of his depressed phases you had no idea what to do with. You were not his morail, not even friend in all positive matter, and therefor only made sure he didn’t stop or lay down or got too far away from you. Highbloods tended to not take psionics in a friendly business. “Why would you carry around treasures in your sylladex anyway?”

“For moments like this!” She laughed, walking forward a little bit faster, and you finally noticed the way which you were walking in. Which way surely Vriska had noticed by now and was only conversing to make you distracted.

“Vriska…” You commanded her sternly and she stopped, smiling an innocent smile that told you that you had been right one the spot of this one.

“What? What’s the matter?” Sollux caught up with you and Vriska crossed her arms in defence pouting grumpily.

“What Serket is trying to do is walking straight into Highblood territory.” You explained bitterly. Highbloods here meant those same or higher than you. High enough to kill you without caring what colour you were, and that was in your time. It was probably even worse now. You fixed Vriska with a glare, which she answered with a confident grin.

“A challenge! It’s a challenge! Not a trap.” She said as if it was obvious. “If my ancestor tells me to go this way, I gotta go this way. That’s the way I’ve been living my whole life!” And look how well that went, you didn’t say, but the way she rolled her eyes it had showed anyway. “God, you’re such a bore!”

“I’m only addressing our safety here.” You growled at her but picked up walking again as he did, going the exact same direction as before. “We should really be more careful, this is not the world we know.”

“I can check out from air, you know.” Sollux were suddenly taller than you, hovering in the air with red and blue sparks crackling around him. “Making sure no one gets in our way?” Hestiantely you agreed, not comforted with his promise of staying in sight. It wouldn’t be good if you lost anyone in your small group.

He was already going on his way, still being in your eyes’ range until you finally saw the edge of the forest. Abruptly Sollux dived down into the trees and you and Vriska picked up your pace, starting to run. A blue and red beam lightened the sky, and the sound of fighting became obvious.  

The fighters were indigos, higher than you, adults and high enough that you should turn the other way even if they were killing…

Nepeta?

You stood still with shock and conflict as you recognized the small bundle fighting one of the Subjugglators. Fighting and loosing. She made a flip avoiding the troll, but he moved way too quickly and in the next moment her head was smashed against a tree. She screamed and the Subjugglator backed off, beckoning to her to attack, playing with her.

Nepeta charged, and any kind of moral wavering you had disappeared as she was once again immediately countered by the Subjugglator. Her enemy. Your enemy. As she was beaten back to the ground, her opponent walking forward to finish her off, you flew forward, already pulling your arm back as you landed in front of the troll.  

The punch broke the nose with a satisfying crunch, and made the startled indigo stumble backwards.

A whip lashed around his neck and aided his fall down into the ground. Aradia nodded at you from behind his back before she took a jump away from an attack of the second. Sollux took care of that one. You lost concentration at the troll at your feet for a moment, and in the next he was gone, coming at you from your side before you were able to react.

A flash of light stopped him in his tracks and Ampora captchalogued a lightning-handgun and replaced it with another, shooting while steadily moving close to you and Nepeta. Nepeta had stood up during this time and suddenly she was on your back with arms around your neck in a quick greeting hug.

The reunion became short-lived as Eridan had to move back and the troll attacked. You bowed down with her still on you back, and she used it as a starting-block to pounce at the Indigo, you following up right after. Ampora was back to watching your backs, stopping almost all attacks that you neglected to see.

It was getting easier to understand what the adult was trying to do by now. Maybe because of the annoyance practically dripping off him, but maybe also because he knew he couldn’t return empty handed. He moved, quickly, and this time Eridan were occupied with the other one to help you avoid.
You readied yourself for impact, when a shout stopped you from moving.

“Down!” Was the only warning you got while Vriska passed right over your head, driving her foot down on the Subjugglators chest before doing an unnatural spin in the air (most likely courtesy of Sollux) and landed further away. With only an excited grin she returned to Sollux and Aradia’s side, skilfully getting out of the way of both beams and whips. You wouldn’t have to worry about them.

This time you got to him before he managed to get up, even your strength having some troubles keeping him from killing you. It was not enough, and with a spin he had you down by your throat. But any deathblow didn’t come, as he was suddenly choking on his own blood.

Nepeta sat still above him.  

Her claws were buried straight through his neck, coming out at your side, and you held him still as the twitching died down. When you let go he simply fell and didn’t move anymore. Nepeta grasped the collar of the troll’s uniform, his head lolling back as she lifted him up. Indigo blood smeared over her hands and the ground as she shook him hard, screaming.

“Where is he!?” She demanded to his unhearing ears, pushing him to wake up, even with the blood running down her hands. The shaking died down until only her arms were trembling, and finally she let the body hit the ground. “Give… him… back…“

“Nepeta… he’s dead…” You wanted to touch her shoulder, stop the shaking somehow when you heard a blast, a hard body hitting the trunk of a tree. A quick glance at the corpse told you that the battle were over also on the other side. The others seemed to be fairly okay. Vriska and Sollux were mostly unhurt, Sollux nothing more than bruises and Vriska had a cut on her lip and cheek. The other two were a different matter as Eridan didn’t seem to use his right arm much and Araida limped, but it didn’t seem like something fatal.

Other, than their expression was as if they were slowly dying.  

“Hey, why the long faces, are you really that sad to see me.” Vriska apparently either noticed something bad, or didn’t notice it at all. All the years you had been living next to each other you were never sure whenever she was trying to comfort and felt worried or if she was mocking. “Feel reeeeeeeeeally appreciated here!”

“Vriska shut up.” Eridan hissed, and the tone he used made Vriska look at him with a raised eyebrow, challenging him to continue. But he didn’t, he only checked up on his bleeding arm, gritting his teeth while sinking down onto the forest floor. Aradia followed suit only a moment later, tiredness catching up.

Nepeta too was panting way too hard to be normal, and she was a used runner and fighter.

“Nepeta, put yourself together.” You inquired and carefully pulled in her ripped jacket, the fabric tearing a bit more as you gently dragged her away from the dead troll. “Explain what this is about.” She was not usually the one to lose control, now she sniffed, whole body shaking in sadness and anger.

“They took Karkat,” Oh, you suddenly understood all the panic that seeped from your morail and closed your eyes in regret. Truthfully you were never that close to Vantas, probably more to hating him. But this was a fate you would never have wished for him. “And I! And I….” Nepeta rolled over on her back, hand in her eyes and then punched the ground.

She screamed.

There was rage and sadness and guilt and fear and hate and total terror in that scream. It pulled at your pale heartstrings in a way they had never done before, and an immense feeling of wanting to protect and comfort came over you. You didn’t even care that there was more people nearby, and that you didn’t have time to assemble a pile. If Nepeta needed you, you would become her pile.   

“Sollux. This is an order. Hold my powers back.” Sollux looked at you, surprised for a moment before you felt the psionic power slip around your arms, holding your strength back as much as possible. No longer fearing crushing her you pulled her into a tight embrace. Nepeta immediately latched on, clinging to you while screaming with fresh green tears running down her face.

After a while the incomprehensible screaming turned into jumbled words, slowly forming sentences.

“He was right there! And I couldn’t move. I was just so scared… I just… could stop it!” She didn’t sob anymore, but her voice was a colourful mix of emotions ranging from fear to anger. “When I started to run I couldn’t stop… I should have gone back, I could have fought…”

“Don’t beat yourself up, Nep. We couldn’t have done anything anyway.” If Eridan was trying to cheer Nepeta up or put himself down were hard to discern.

“Wait.” Vriska stepped in between, looking cautiously around at the three on the ground.  “What actually happened?”

“The Grand glubbing Highblood happened.” Eridan cursed, or, you guessed that only judging from the way he said it. You became slightly surprised over the fact that you felt the same immediate dislike towards the Grand Highblood. He more than most were deserving of respect as would suit your society, a legend, answering only to the Empress herself… but he frightened your morail, apparently seized Vantas, and hurt your allies.

”What has been done has been done. There’s no way to change it…” Aradia added to the conversation rationally, her eyes being far away as she said it, and her hands twitching almost unnoticeably. Sollux landed in front of her, blocking her and you couldn’t see his expression. Judging from the voice, it was stern.

“Aa, you’re right. Whatever happened, we can’t change it, and that is in no way your fault.” You could feel the psychics around you fade slowly, making you relax your arms and Nepeta clung harder instead. His voice softened rationally as he kneeled down and combed her hair affectionately. “No one blames you for not being able to… to fix it, hell I think KK is probably proud you weren’t as big idiots as he always used to call us.”

His powers helped her stand up, and with own power she leaned against him, a rare show of weakness. You couldn’t pat Nepeta’s back like he did, in fear that her wounds would reopen, but she were comfortably nestled up against your chest,

”You wanna talk about it too?” Vriska finally seemed to break, sitting down next to Eridan. It didn’t sound the least like she was as open to a jam as she told him. Eridan gave a half-hearted sneer towards her, showing he knew exactly what she meant.

”Not with you, bitch.” He replied and Vriska’s expression seemed to change into a mischievous (relived, happy) grin. With a huff she flipped her hair and shot out her fist in front of him, which he stared at for a moment before laughing.  

“That’s what I wanted to hear.” She said as he beat his fist into hers, a motion that Dave had taught Terezi during the short time you spent with the humans. She coughed to gain everyone’s attention. “Now before I choke on all the pale-loving going around in the air here, we gotta figure out what to do.”

“Well, we can’t really leave them here.” Sollux beat out towards the bodies, indigo blood staining the grass and making a mess overall.

“Yes we can.” Eridan glared at the corpses, as if they were personally insulting him even while dead. “Let them be a greeting back to Grandy.”

“Now, I like that thinking.” Vriska nodded approvingly, stroking away a bead of blood running down her chin and kicking the troll closest to her idly.  

“I agree.” Nepeta murmured, tired after the fight and her emotional drain, ending the unofficial voting and switched position, climbing up on your back as you stood up.

“Well then.” You concluded, not feeling as bad as you thought at leaving the defiled bodies of adult Highbloods to rot on the ground. Maybe it was the fact that they were adults, and you weren’t used to seeing them. Maybe it was the fact that you had accepted them as enemies. But that wasn’t important.

With Nepeta slowing her breath and falling asleep on your back, you started heading away from danger.

Chapter Text

You heard the commotion die down outside and pushed yourself up on your elbows. No one seemed to come to you, not the visitor from before but neither anyone else. Your legs lay immobile on the… table you were on. Ok, you thought it was table, but it might as well have been a simple gurney or something. Close to you were a bowl of water, a napkin slightly coloured of your blood hanging on the edge. Someone had been cleaning your wounds.  

Looking around the room, it actually seemed it was some kind of infirmary, very humble but no apparent mess. Even if you wanted to inspect further on your whereabouts you couldn’t really move around the room to see more. Maybe if you remembered how to pick the legs off you could drag yourself around…

Suddenly there was movement outside of your room, and the cloth covering the opening rustled, was pushed aside and a rustblood woman entered the room. She smiled at you, not the least threatening, but still, she was fully grown. “Looks like he is already awake.” She said to someone behind her.

The “one” behind her became many as the room started to fill with two more grown-up trolls, and two other young trolls of whom you knew. Terezi came in with one hand on Kanaya’s shoulder, the other holding the rainbow-drinker’s hand. Kanaya smiled relived, continuing past the adults.

They were on their guards, and you remembered the voice talking to you before. Were you in danger? Were they in danger?

Terezi hugged you as she came, first touching your face to “see if it really was you” clearly bullshitting as she had probably smelled you from far away. Kanaya stood politely beside and Terezi got back to clinging to her the moment she released you. You wanted to ask them why that was, you wanted to ask them so much more but carefully bit your tongue. The three others trolls were standing in a ring together conversing calmly, but making it obvious how alert they were on every movement from Kanaya or Terezi.

In the end you couldn’t keep quiet, the worry about the words from before and the noticeable tension in the room being too much.

“Is Gamzee here?” You had to confirm your suspicions, and Kanaya looked startled for a moment, before sending a quick glance towards the three trolls. No one showed that they had seen it, or heard what you asked, but Kanaya stepped closer in make-believe that it would make your talk a bit more private.

“Well yes, he is. Feferi is with us too but…” Kanaya’s sentence slowly dropped away as she hushed her voice. “They’re under surveillance.”

“We can’t really explain now.” Terezi continued, and made a slight movement to the adults with her head. You showed you understood letting out a quiet sound that could have been mistaken for a simple clearing of your throat. Her grin told you that the message had been transferred correctly. You tried to shift into a better position, but it was hard while not being able to move your legs. How quick you had forgotten how to get around with dead weight under your waist.

“Are they broken?” Kanaya asked looking thoughtfully down on the metal. Maybe she didn’t know a lot about mechanics, but as the person cutting of your useless legs she seemed to have gotten some things explained to her. “I can see if I remember how to take them off.”

Kanaya bowed down, fumbling a while with the parts around your hip. You became aware that everyone was staring; the adults seemed to be almost in trance as her light reflected into the metal and you fidgeted. Finally something clicked and Kanaya stretched to her full length again, looking it over one more time before smiling.

“Try to lose them now“ She urged gently, and you started pushing backwards. With much more ease than before you slipped the small stumps being left of your legs out from their vessels. You once again became aware of your audience and you felt your face heat up a little bit more. At least you could fold your pants down over the stumps and cover them up. The skin on your legs was prickled with small wounds, places where wires had gone into your body to transfer the nerve-signals down into the metal legs.

With the sudden loss of weight you felt unbalanced, and had to use both hands to keep yourself up. It would take a while to get used to this, until you hopefully was able to fix your legs. Getting a wheelchair seemed be a lost cause, and you weren’t really trusting anyone here to ask.

The grown-ups hadn’t picked up their conversation again, and where shamelessly looking at you. Kanaya gave something of a glare at them, before turning back to you with that usual soft and elegant smile on her face.

“It’s probably time for us to leave.” She said meaningfully, implying that it was not her will, “we’ll be close by if you need us though.” She pulled away and fetched her lipstick, expertly putting on another layer before giving a smug smirk. So she had her chainsaw near. That was good to know.

Terezi let herself be led out, obvious now that the three trolls were guards more than escorts.  Only Kanaya lingered a moment more, considering something before speaking up. “I can ask them if Gamzee can come by, if you want to.” She asked, and after you nodded a quick affirmative she disappeared out, leaving you alone in the room again.

Apparently she succeeded, as after about two, three minutes or something (you weren’t good at measuring time), the cloth rustled again and Gamzee’s head sneaked in. You welcomed him with a smile he immediately answered with his own. It looked a little bit more tired than usually though, not sloppy tired like when he was high, but simply weary.

“Sup bro.” He greeted, looking around before coming over to you and easily jumping up on the gurney. No one followed him in like they had with Terezi and Kanaya, but neither did they hide that you had got guards outside instead. It occurred to you that maybe the reason they stayed outside was to give you a moment of privacy. Kanaya had surely names you in some quadrant as a lie. Gamzee stayed quiet for a moment more looking towards the opening and the shadows that moved outside. Neither of you wanted them to hear what you were talking about, but for now you had to take a risk.                                       

Moving closer Gamzee told to you everything he knew, everything he had guessed and figured himself, Kanaya’s suspicions, Terezi’s spying and everything that Feferi had confirmed and added. It was strange, sure, but you had been through weirder things (like getting killed and then brought back to life), so this was an acceptable explanation. This situation didn’t make you afraid either, you had a minor part of you group here along with you after all. Maybe the biggest negative emotion you felt was disappointment. That everything hadn’t gone perfect, but you wouldn’t be a spoilsport.

You were alive, and that’s what mattered.

Gamzee laughed tonelessly as you told him, agreeing with a smile a bit more chipper than before. The calmness only seemed to last a moment, as the sudden sound of arguing flew in from outside the opening. You exchanged a look and Gamzee slipped off the bench just in time for an adult to enter. Unwanted obviously judging from the complaining quieting down outside. He seemed to be a slight bit lighter than Sollux, only judging by his clothes, and he didn’t seem happy.

“Who let you loose?” The new troll, asked, directed at Gamzee, and you stopped. You knew that voice. It was the same as when you had first woken up and you instantly became on your guard. The words (coldblood, indigo) that he had said replayed in your memory as the troll looked at Gamzee with clear and unhidden disgust.

“Just making sure Tavros is okay.” Gamzee replied, a lot calmer but with a clear edge to his voice.

“You coldbloods are all the same.” He took a step forward, presumably to intimidate Gamzee. Something that didn’t work as the clown was both tall and seemed to be growing angry. “Manipulating and heartless. Using others to get your selfish needs satisfied.” A weak rumble filled the room as Gamzee growled; showing his teeth and suddenly the adult moved his arm as to hit him. 

“Wait!” you interrupted, almost falling off the table as you made a hasty movement towards them but quickly managed to steady yourself. “Gamzee is my friend! Don’t touch him!” Your angry plea seemed to get opposite reaction in the troll, as you saw it trigger something.

The adult slammed Gamzee against the wall, hand around his throat and Gamzee immediately started fighting to breathe. With only slight hesitation you plunged yourself down on the floor, dragging yourself forward with your arms and cursed the inability of your legs. The adult, who had seemed so keen on not letting you be hurt didn’t seem to notice.

You saw Gamzee struggle, trashing but… every time he came close to hurting the troll he simply stopped, drawing back and scratching his claws against the wall. He didn’t want to prove him right. You realized with horror, trying to get a good grip on the floor and continue forward. If this continued Gamzee would pass out at best, or he might even snap. Just then something flashed over Gamzee’s eyes, pure rage burning and the adult flinched noticeably, but didn’t let go. Even you started to feel a humming in your mind, telling you to stay still, don’t move, make yourself as small as possible. Get away.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?” Someone yelled and the troll was ripped away, Gamzee sinking to the ground and coughing. You dragged yourself the remaining meter and ended up next to him. Your saviour was on the other side of Gamzee carefully inspecting him with a concerned and strict face that you kind of recogn---

Okay, that was pretty freaky.

This had to be the Signless Gamzee had told you about, Karkat’s ancestor and apparent leader of a rebellion that inspired the revolution of the Summoner. They really looked alike, and his eyes were filled in with blood red as the humans. (Gamzee had also filled you in on that part, hesitantly and protective of his morail. You reminded him that you were a Lowblood cripple and wasn’t really about to look down on someone).

After the adult-Karkat had made sure Gamzee wasn’t hurt he stood, spun around, and marched towards the yellowblood. Beside you Gamzee hung his head into his hands, breathing deeply and the small vibrations of forced fear that you hadn’t noticed was still there, finally faded.

“How could you let the coldblood in here?” The violating troll caught your attention and you tuned back to them, the troll glaring at the Signless and at Gamzee. With that he also sent a glance towards you, but that was mostly riddled with confusion. The Signless stepped into the line of his sight and crossed his arms.

“It was mutually requested.” He explained, quiet in a place where Karkat would have screamed, but otherwise with the same short logic. Then came the ice-cold boiling words of accusation. “Question is why you would do this.”

“We can’t go this easy on the coldblood.” He protected himself, “You know who he is. You know what he is going to become if we do not…” The Signless held up a hand stopping any oncoming rant, or from what it sounded like, culling-suggestion.

“Please… keep calm for a moment. You’re making wrong decisions based on bad judgments.” It was like this you reminded yourself of the differences Gamzee had lined up concerning his morail and the Signless. His orders sounded like requests, but it was impossible to miss the meaning. “Go get some sleep.” And that was something Karkat would never say.

“Yes… sir.” The troll spoke through gritted teeth, dripping respect but at the same time obvious dislike for the decision. With heavy steps he disappeared throughout the curtain, and Signless noticeably sighed and a wrinkle of worry appeared by his eyes, before fixing his expression.

“Are you both okay?” The Signless smiled and looked back at you, honest and exposed concern throwing you off. “Will you be alright if I leave you alone again?” Gamzee started to move, as if to stand up and probably going to go away. You hindered him.

“A little bit more, please?” You asked the Signless who once again smiled, the bad mood from before blown away like Tinkerbull on a stormy day. (The thought made you sad, thinking you wouldn’t see your lusus ever again). Karkat’s ancestor moved out, and you could hear him say something to the guards outside

Gamzee chuckled.

“Sorry Tavbro, I think it’s not the best if you’re near me right now. That bastard is probably right, I’m nothing but a murderous killing machine without someone to hold the reins” He pulled his long legs to his chest, speaking with a whine sounding dangerously close to a snarl. “I want Karkat…” If you were his morail (and if your horns didn’t have to be so big), you would probably had leaned your head on his shoulders. Right now you could only stay where you were as his friend, his best bro, hoping that no one more would enter.

Eventually, of course someone did. Gamzee were taken back to where he was before, probably to be chained up again and you were lifted up to the gurney. It was okay though. You started looking over the legs, trying to remember what went where and what could have gone wrong. Hopefully you would be able to fix it; otherwise you’d just find another way to get around and about without relying on others.

You were alive. And you were going to make sure everyone else stayed that way too.

Chapter Text

Aradia held your hand as you walked throughout the forest. You would have run if Aa and Ed weren’t so hurt, the nagging knowledge that if you were too slow you all might become a lot more than simply injured. It wouldn’t be long before the Indigo’s started to search for their missing brothers. Or maybe it would. You didn’t really know that much about Subjugglator-culture.

The things you leaned in your up-growth were pretty much: Never interact with a Subjugglator. Never anger a Subjugglator. Never ever challenge him/her to a fight. No tips about what happened if you made these mistakes. Because by then you were fully at the mercy of the Highblood and it didn’t matter what you did. Together the six of you had managed to all three things, towards the Grand Highblood himself. Yep. This was getting better and better.

You might as well walk back and give yourself up.

Aradia suddenly gave your hand a quick squeeze and you looked at her, tightening your own grip as to comfort her, before you realized that it was meant from her to you. Calm down. The small smile and the squeeze said. Keep going. You rewarded her for good effort with a smile of you own and tried to push away the negative thinking. Be logic now. You had to find safety, and you had to find your friends. That was first priority.

It wouldn’t do any good for either you or Karkat (you imagined the thought of Karkat being killed or tortured your mind created being stomped down by an extinct smallarmstyraniclizard-beast that Aradia excitedly told you about when you were younger) if you succumbed to an urge of revenge. Maybe those thoughts would be allowed to take place if the eleven of you got back together. Not that you really wanted to be the one telling the news to Gamzee, but then maybe you could come up with something. Eleven heads were better than one.

Oh who were you kidding? You would have to make a revenge/rescue plan on your own so that it actually had a chance of working. No offence to the ones in your friend-circle, but without Karkat screaming at them they pretty much all looked like scared fluff-beast without a herdsman.

Somehow you still managed to mutually decide that you wouldn’t return to Mindfang’s hive, leading to Vriska bragging about meeting her ancestor and then getting sour that you wouldn’t take that way. But you had already scouted there, and you needed to search for the rest. Equius and Vriska had enough knowledge about the whereabouts to hinder you from walking in circles, but it didn’t stop you from missing a GPS, and you found yourself constantly thinking about taking your PDA or troll-google-maps to find a good way. No way you would get a signal, if not it could travel through time.

Now when you thought about it, you realized how stupid you had been for not drawing up a map or something. In case you needed to get back here (about half of you said that you would never want to return, the other half reminded you of Karkat). Nepeta had eventually woken up, and was right now leading you when Vriska and Equius didn’t know your surroundings anymore.

One arm told you all to stop, and a finger to her lips made you all go quiet as you started to creep forward instead. You dropped your hold on Aradia’s hand to be able to move better.

A troll stood there with her back turned to you. It looked like she was writing something, sometimes looking around at the surrounding before fixing something on the board in her hand. She was very beautiful, fair, and looked exactly like a chainsaw wielding rainbow-drinker that you happened to know.

It was laughable that she would be anything other than a Virgo as her long, detailed jade and black dress revealed a fashion sense non-existent in most. But it was also obvious she was not your Virgo in that sense. 

Without looking up, she spoke.“Would you be so kind to come out from there? It can’t be comfortable hiding in the bushes.” No doubt this was Kanaya, ah, well, Kanaya’s ancestor most likely. She had that same calmness and grace that you had no idea when she was going to pick a chainsaw out of her pocket and slash you in half. You decided against making a note about teasing Eridan later as he flinched, he deserved it.   

    “Yeah, it’s a pretty bad hiding place.” Someone suddenly said above your heads, and it might as well have been your voice. You looked up, not the least surprised to see your exact copy (though older) levitating in the air. He was sitting comfortably as if he was simply chilling on a couch and not looking over a couple of lost troll-children. Neither one of them seemed to be hostile. That was a good fact for now.

    You met his eyes for a moment. Red meeting blue and blue meeting red. He didn’t have any glasses like you, so it was easy to see how his eyes widened when he got to the same conclusion you had. He dropped out of the air, landing in front of you with a curious smile before slinging his arms around you shoulder and turning you both to Kanaya’s ancestor.

    “Hey, look what I found!” your apparent ancestor said cheerily, hinting of the same lisp you always carried. You tried to struggle away, but he seemed to have the bodily strength that you never had had time to build while hacking. She seemed pleasantly surprised as she looking between you two, your brain noting this as a positive fact that might gain you small points to use later on. Now if only you got along with him. “I shall call him Mini-me.”

    You hated your ancestor.

    Eridan choking on something that sounded very much like a laugh didn’t really make it better. You could feel the sparks tickling the skin on your hands and imagined throwing Fish-face up in a tree. Equius saved you before you did something you would surely regret by stepping forward and bowing his head.

    “You looked like someone we knew. We are terribly sorry.” Equius apologized, refusing to meet the eyes of the Virgo. “We didn’t mean to spy or interrupt.” It sounded more like he was trying to say ‘we’re actually not suspicious, we’re just a couple of young trolls from literally the whole hemospectrum that have taken a stroll into the beautiful moonlight without killing each other’. Made perfectly much sense.

    Your ancestor wasn’t late to point this out.

    “Huh, even a Seadweller too.” He flipped his fingers at Eridan’s aquatic ears, and you saw the invisible power pull at them, which the purpleblood reacted to by flinching and covering them with his hands. Normally you might have smirked at that, but now you only felt annoyance bordering to anger. You really weren’t in the mood for this.

    Aradia was quick enough, stepping in between the two of you and Eridan. “Hurt any of us, and you will become our enemies.” Your morail fixed the other Gemini with a glare. His expression exposed disbelief and he sent a quick glance to Kanaya’s ancestor; she took it up and stepped closer to you. Her voice was not accusing, but demanded answer.

    “You do look like you have been in a fight.” It wasn’t a question; it wasn’t even a weak state of fact as it would seem like since the answer was obvious. You were the only one not being splattered with at least some drops of indigo blood, having the privilege of your powers to attack from further away. Of course you’d gotten a few blows, but nothing unnatural to your society. “And the way you came from…” The Virgo looked at the paper in her hand, a map you realized when looking more carefully. Her jade eyes narrowed, before confusion and then something like suspicious concern. “…the territory of the Grand Highblood.”

    It was impossible to not notice the way Eridan, Aradia and Nepeta flinched by the name only.

    “We were hunted by Subjugglators.” Aradia started to speak, and you moved closer to put a hand on her shoulder, supporting her gently. One hand came up to meet yours, but the other started to scrub at her clothes and at an indigo stain. “We managed to defeat them but…” She trailed off and looked away as the jade troll took a slow intake of air.

    “Oh my dear children,” She sounded clearly distressed, but maybe also with a hint of sadness and pity in there. “What have you done?”

     “It was in self-defence!” Vriska argued back, unusually bold even for someone like her. Most likely she saw this woman as Kanaya and you nudged her slightly with your powers. The glare you got was all you needed to know that she understood, and you both knew that you were right. You gave a smirk only looking at her from the corner of your eyes. She quieted down. “We had no choice.”

    “But you all got away?” Your ancestor asked, something sounding like interest and amazement in his voice that would have made you proud if not for the thing that the fact was wrong. To his credit the tactlessness you had didn’t seem to come from your genes. “Someone didn’t get away.” He changed the wording instead.

    “One of our friends was caught.” You filled in, as court and direct to the core as you could. No unnecessary emotions making you repeat the conversation you had had with your morail. No more guilt over the worry that you had no idea what happened to Karkat (or the idea that you knew exactly what happened, maybe right in this moment).

    The Gemini and Virgo looked at each other for a moment, before you realized that it was actually you ancestor that was looking at her and seeking for answers. The pen she had in her hand tapped against the board where she was writing and then nodded at your ancestor.

    “We are currently staking out the way to our… friends. Maybe we can let you off somewhere along the way.” She suggested carefully, and then after a look towards the brightest horizon she smiled and added. “You don’t want to be out when the sun rises, right?”

    You didn’t want to admit that you had had no plan about what to do when morning came, but the looks of your faces probably revealed more than you wanted as she looked like it was already decided. Of course she was right. You might not trust these trolls even if one was technically Kanaya and technically you (or maybe because of that) but burning in the sun or getting tracked down by the indigos didn’t really sound that appealing either. 

     “You managed to defeat Subjugglators and now you’re scared?” Your ancestor addressed the group as a whole, but it was clearly directed at you. Teasing more than taunting, and probably said to make you coerced at coming along. “Come on Mini-me.” He beckoned that it was time for you to start moving. You didn’t take a step.

    “First, my name is Sollux.” You snapped at him, getting annoyed with the nickname and really hoping that it wouldn’t stick if you had to stay with him for a while until you met up with the others in your group. “Learn it.”

    “Are you so sure about that?” He ruffled your hair with something that likened a lusus’s affection, but probably more of something you couldn’t place. Probably some bond that you shared as Gemini that made him forget all the rules about personal space.

    You tried to push him away with psychics. He answered with using his own an insignificant amount more. You increased your strength. He raised his power and at the same time a challenging eyebrow. With gritted teeth you went full out, using your hands to get better concentration, aiming everything at him and…

    You were ripped up from the ground, shook and then hung upside down, and you couldn’t do a thing, barely even move. The invisible power around your body was painfully familiar but overpowered your own with ease.  

    “Nice try.” Your ancestor smiled wickedly, sparks flying around his eyes as he kept them trained at you. It was the only sign that he was the one controlling; his body-language only told you that he was relaxed like nothing had happened. Like he wasn’t holding his descendant from the future three meters up in the air. “But not enough, Mini-me.”

    ”My. Name. Is. Sollux.” You spat once again, trying to fight the invisible bonds and also the blood rushing to your face. If only you could turn ways up again.

    He laughed, and then grinned with the same smirk that you had watched yourself do so many times while messing with the others. You knew exactly how vicious and delighted he felt, and it only added to the humiliation of being on the receiving end for once.

    “Nope. I won, so from now on you’re dubbed Minimi.” He dragged the words together, forming a cute sounding name he knew that you would hate. “What dumbass named you ‘Thollukth’ anyway?” He laughed again and started walking, you flying after like a chirpbeast someone had put a leash on.

    Vriska and Eridan had started to laugh, Aradia and Nepeta being a little bit kinder as Nepeta hid behind Equius giggling while Aradia was doing her best to look stoic and not like she was about to go into a full laugh. (Somewhere behind the humiliation you felt relieved to see her smile again). Equius was the only one quiet, looking embarrassed at your expense.

    You started to realize why Karkat hated himself so much, and you even more from what he once told you.

    You were goddamn annoying.

    Chapter Text

    Fuck.

    You couldn’t feel your hands, couldn’t move them as they were cuffed behind your back in an uncomfortable position. They also seemed to be chained to a piece in the wall, making it impossible to move all around the small cell you were in. While waking up you were lying on your side, getting up to sitting harder than you thought with no hands and the drugs slightly left in your systems.

    The cell was practically claustrophobic, barely big enough to stand in, and you were short (though you would never let anyone hear you admit that) and seemed more like a crack in the mountain than an actual room. One side was open to a hallway, the opening blocked with bars parodying any cliché old movie with a bad villain and a hostage. It was mocking you, look here, see how easy it is to escape, come on, give it a try. Give us a good hunt and a reason to kill you brutally.

    Sick bastards.

    You moved, as much as your binds would let you (not far) and tried to see anything that could help you. Anyone. The hallway was filled with cells just like yours, and in most of them you caught a glimpse of shadows of other trolls. It was incredibly eerie, how no one moved. Everyone was quiet, hell, the sounds you made while moving echoed loud and clear in comparison.

    You moved back and glared at the walls around you, trying and failing to make them break with mind (Sollux could probably have done it, even Equius could have punched a hole. You? You were only a weak damsel in distress. Good going there you useless knight).

    Your mind unwillingly wandered away from your little box of self-hate to concern. Not for yourself, for once, but for your friends. Had they been able to escape? Were they unhurt? Would they come back to you? Sick with your own small feeling of betrayal you pushed the last thought from your mind.

    Hah. Like you would be disappointed in them.

    You were honestly glad, even proud, that they had escaped, even if that came with the expense of your own life. You could only begin to imagine the guilt if one of them had been killed because of a rash decision to save you. As their leader it was your burden to make sure they didn’t get hurt (again, and again and again). It was only that… that even now you couldn’t stop shivering.

    You were scared.

    So, so scared and alone and you felt so small. You wanted to be with Gamzee, with your friends, allies. You wanted to have stupid fights with them and with your lusus.

    You wanted to go home.

    The darkness started to slowly become clearer, as your eyes got used to it. You started to discern things on the wall, darker and lighter splotches of colour. It didn’t take long for the connection to be made and you almost wished you had been slower, or had been able to ignore it. You felt sick to the bones.

    Blood.

    It had to be. Remains of possible torture and culling of some troll and oh god it was practically everywhere. Slowly you moved forward again, looking more closely to a spectacularly bright spot. Even in the darkness you could almost see the colour as it slowly slid… oh god.

    You shot back, crawling away from the wall as much as you could before the chains pulled you to a stop. Your mouth tasted of bile and you swallowed it. It was fresh. The blood was fresh and oh godohgodohshit it couldn’t have been long since someone… It probably belonged to the poor sap that inhabited this before you. You couldn’t look away, now feeling the clear smell of blood in the air

    Had he or she been killed only so they would have a place to stove you away?

    All of these prisoners were object, used until drained or not interesting anymore. Kept and hurt until they, the Highbloods found other toys to do the same thing to. Would you also disappear when you started to bore them or didn’t bow to their wishes?

    Would they watch you break first, taking away everyone you loved? What if they had already done it? Another horrifying though appeared as you remembered the Grand Highblood’s last words to you.

    He couldn’t be so cruel… right? (Oh yes, a voice in the back of your head whispered, he will be much, much crueller than that). 

    With shaking knees you crawled forward, concentrating your eyes through the darkness so that maybe, maybe you would be able to see the shade of the dye. The prison barely had any light, and your night vision was only able to see the shades and not colours. Concentrating enough though, you started to make out something of a brown colour, closing in on Aradia’s but missing the red tint.

    You felt relief, that it wasn’t a colour of your friends, and then guilt for the troll who had died, who you were glad was not your friend.

    It wasn’t long after that, (you spent the time fighting your bonds and only discovering how tight they were and how much it hurt your skin trying to pull your hands out from the cuffs) that you heard steps. They came to get you. There were two Subjugglators that you somehow recognized, probably from the hunt and when they walked down the line to your cage everything somehow got even quieter.

    The other prisoners didn’t even breathe.

    Instantly you moved backwards against the wall (trying not to think about the blood against your back) as they stopped and grinned at you, opening the cell with some kind of lock at the side.  You weren’t scared of them, not as much as you should be, but you were terrified of where they would take you.

    In the end only a fool would struggle. They were clearly in the upper hand and looked like they wouldn’t feel bad having to prove it.

    You breathed, avoiding the smell of blood through your nostrils.

    If you got into a panic now who knew how bad it would be when you were brought to the Grand Highblood, to be tortured or culled, so you tried to breathe deep, hanging you head as you heard them loose the chains from the wall. It seemed like they wouldn’t let your hands go free, destroying your one chance at getting your Specibus and then pulled you out by the chains from the cell.

    So this was how walking on a death row felt.

    You tried to look stoic, putting up your usual scowl in a matter of hiding the dread you felt with every step further away. Even without the other captives looking at you, small things told you that you had their total attention. Did they feel pity? Fear that they would be next? Probably both.

    At one point of time you walked past something that looked like small windows, to your surprise the sun leaving burning rays hinting on the ground. How long had you been out? One of them saw you staring and jokingly pushed you towards the rays; you barely had time to catch yourself before the other one pulled you back by your chains, growling something at the other who laughed.

    The passages were hard to figure out, harder to remember, but you were sure you were taken deeper into the mountain. Even when you almost didn’t look up the whole way, you started to notice differences in how large the tunnels were, and suddenly the walls around you disappeared out, creating a huge room coloured with all the colours of the rainbow.

    This time the push from one of the Subjugglators was too hard, and you stumbled over your feet, rapidly falling down to the floor without being able to catch yourself. Pain shot up your left shoulder as you managed to twist enough to not fall straight on your face. It would probably leave a pretty bruise, not that you though it would matter in the big picture.

    As you tried to struggle up, you could see your escorts making a quick bow, and then disappeared from your sight, back the way you came. There was the slamming of what sounded like huge doors and your whole body became cold as ice.

    “how are you little one?” His voice spoke softly from somewhere above you, and all your struggles to get up stopped abruptly. “SPEAK! don’t be so quiet.”

    “S-sorry.” You couldn’t help but stutter, once again twisting your body and fighting to get up on your knees to not feel so incredibly pathetic. It didn’t matter, from his eyes you probably were a useless pest anyway. Finally you got up, but refused to look up at him as he walked around.

    “I won’t kill you.” He assured you sounding satisfied, and it didn’t make you feel any better as you heard the implied ‘right now’. “IF YOU’RE GOOD little Lowblood, AND TELL ME WHAT I WANT, i’ll let you live.” For how long, you almost wanted to ask. Doing that would be as stupid as to refuse him of anything at all. He could literally kill you with a snap of his fingers, breaking your spine or neck just as quick.

    “NOW TELL ME, explain, WHAT THIS IS ABOUT!”

    You heard the thumps of bodies hitting the floor, and couldn’t help but the flinch, refusing to look, heart beating fast. Images had been swirling through your head (Aradia’s crushed body, Nepeta’s lifeless head, Eridan’s body split in half) and you didn’t really feel the need to add anymore to those. You squeezed your eyes shut, turning away.

    “look.” It was short and an order, promising that you wouldn’t get a choice next time, and so you did.

    The ones who had chased after your friends lay cold and dead on the floor.

    You could easily discern Nepeta’s claws (right through the throat, good one), trashed clothes signalling the use of a whip and the burned marks of Eridan’s guns but… when actually looking you started to see more. More details and your mind worked overtime, trying to see enough before The Grand Highblood’s patience run out and he decided that you would be better to use as a decoration on the wall.

    One of the indigos’ noses was crushed with such strength that you knew no one of the three could get up to, and those twin-burns could just be Eridan shooting with double pistols but honestly he sucked at handling guns with one hand, and there was a stabbing that was too wide for Nepeta’s claws and yes, you found a small light-blue smear of blood confirming your suspicions.

    Hell. Fucking. Yes.

    “so you do know.” Even though his voice wasn’t screaming, or even loud the hostile edge made you snap back to life and back away, away from the bodies and away from him. He closed the distance in a huge step and you realized the hopelessness of getting away.

    “No.” It was already obvious that you knew what had happened, so your answer was only signalling that you had no intention to tell him anything.

    “OH REALLY?” He laughed, and it made you want to cover your ears only reminding you of the state of immobility they were in. “you’re one cute little freak. DO YOU ACTUALLY BELIEVE you can defy me, DEFY US?” He sat down in front of you, replaying the night from before and grabbed your head to hold you still. Make you keep looking at him.

    The feeling came back, of pure panic, of wanting nothing more than to escape. You’d rather drown, be back in the game, culled, than be here right now. Something like a whimper escaped from your mouth without you being able to stop it and you could feel your blood pulsing in your ears. 

    No way would you be able to run.

    “tell me. AND DON’T YOU DARE TO LIE!” The anger once again subsided to an excited grin, making you swallow hard and fight the primal instinct of freezing up. It didn’t work. “…or try, and see how long you’ll manage.”

    Truthfully, you wanted to tell him, wanted to save yourself from the torture that would surely make you say the same thing and maybe more than if you spoke now. But betraying your friends… you would have answer about all their powers, all their weaknesses, friends, quadrants. You would doom them all. 

    Slowly, you willed your paralyzed body to shake your head.

    He backhanded you. It was hard enough to make you fly, your hands useless making it impossible to stop the next crash of your head hitting the floor. Everything was spinning and there was an inconsistent ringing in your ears. You could feel the warm wetness of blood on the back of your head, seeping out. Strangely, it didn’t hurt. It only felt like someone had put a soft blanket over you or sunken you down into the warm, familiar embrace of sopor.

    You closed your eyes.

    There was only darkness when you opened them again. Only nothing. A void that you floated in and you wondered if you had finally died.

    A string of light caught your eyes, the colour mostly white but mixing with the whole rainbow. Crackling, cringing, flickering, and beckoning you to follow the thread. Apparently this weird force or whatever had brought you here thought you were an idiot as a voice carried through the darkness and from the light. It was familiar but you couldn’t place it, all you knew was that it was female.

    “Follow me.”

    Not knowing anything better you did as you were told, suddenly noticing a pattern the further you went.

    One colour started to single out from the others, going stronger and soon started to take over the others. Blue. Blue like the sky in Skaia. It materialized, turning from light to cloth, and the thread to what you recognized the moment you laid eyes on it.

    It was a hood, a long blue hood fluttering and fighting against an invisible breeze.

    John looked like he was sleeping. His eyes moved underneath the eyelids betraying he had some kind of a nightmare and didn’t look like he was going to wake up anytime soon. You scoffed. Nice going of your fellow friendleader to fall asleep on his guest like that.

    Though… you hadn’t really been such a great leader lately either. With the whole you being captured and being all pathetic thing. No voice was telling you what to do, and so you trusted you own decisions. You hit him gently on the cheek and instantly it gave a reaction.

    He moved away from where you had slapped him, mumbling angrily and slowly his eyes started to flutter open. “Karkat?” John said sluggishly, still halfway in sleep and you crossed your arms, waiting. “It’s really you!” A huge grin broke out on his face, buckteeth painfully obvious and he moved as to hug you, but never got there.

    Without warning you were pushed away, like hit by an enormous hammer and all air went out of your lungs and… no, wrong. It was not pushing. You were being pulled back. Fast. You only saw John’s surprised, fading face before the darkness disappeared and the softness was replaced with pain.

    A scream broke out from your throat as your limp body hit the wall, rocks cutting into you and everything was real again.

    “HOW MOTHERFUCKING DARE YOU!?” The Grand Highblood was screaming as you slid down the wall to the floor, presumably leaving a red stain behind on the jagged wall. You head was spinning, hurting and it made you want to puke. “how DARE you pass out LITTLE FREAK! HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN who you are?”

    He lifted you up again, and you gave a weak struggle as you felt your feet slip from the ground, leaving you completely in his grasp. As you couldn’t move your hands there was no way of lightening the pressure on the hold and you fought to breathe. 

    “Y-yeah…” you choked out, mindlessly talking before you passed out again. The grip lightened. “I forgot… I’m the asshole leader of a bunch of idiots.” It wasn’t as if he would listen to pleads and ‘I’m sorry’s, and seeing John again had made you want to prove yourself. Like you had said, how your friends knew you, you were the stupid, reckless asshole leader of a bunch of surprisingly smart idiots.

    Had to make them proud, right? Later you would regret this, curse your past self and you would blame the imminent brain damage for all your actions.

    You spit The Grand Highblood in his face.

    Chapter Text

    There was movement all around you. The trolls hurried by, all at least once sending a glance or a look your way. You answered with a smile, as big as you could before they hurried along. Everyone was cautious, you wouldn’t expect something different, but you just wanted to show them that there was no reason to be so guarded against you.

    ”Feferi.” Kanaya had at one point arrived and now sat at your left side, Gamzee on your other with Terezi next to him. Too bad that Tavros wasn’t allowed out, you’d rather want everyone together, but the others had assured you he was alright. Kanaya looked like she fixed her nails and then smiled at you. ”I think your smile is scaring them.”

    “What?” You as sounded confused as you felt, the grin falling down a small bit as you turned to her.

    She laughed. “Maybe just a little bit less teeth.” You pouted, but did as she told you. It was much more boring. You liked going all out, if you wanted to smile you would, and some kind of polite faky-faky smile didn’t count. It didn’t really do much of a difference either, most were still extremely wary of you and well you guessed you could understand that.

    But it wasn’t really like you were planning to kill them all. You weren’t like your ancestor. Really. Never.

    In difference to the others in the group (except maybe Terezi), you were actually fine with being here. If they wanted to kill you they would have done so long ago, and no way could you be used as a hostage. The Highbloods of this time had more reason to capture and kill you than these. But Gamzee needed Karkat, probably soon. So, well, you also wanted everyone to be together! All you had to do was to figure out a plan to escape. Tavros was a problem too, as you’d been informed his legs didn’t work, but that was only the more reason for you to find Equius.

    “We need some kind of distraction.” Terezi pondered out loud, looking sightlessly out in the hall and leaning on a small, broken spear she had snatched up, as she told the suspicious trolls, for a ‘do you want me to walk into everything?’ reason. She was doing pretty well with her act, and now she had something to use as a weapon.

    The words had barely passed her lips, before her wish was granted.

    A dull sound was carried through the hideout, sounding like a siren someone had decided to sink down into water. For a moment it stopped, before beginning again and repeat. For you it didn’t mean much, rather, you only got confused by it. But you had to be stupid to miss that it was a warning since the effect on those who knew was very different. With a trained precision the trolls started to move faster, clear goal in mind.

    Just as you started to feel anxious, The Disciple came up to your group, with the same swiftness and awareness that all the trolls carried right now. Fast, but calm and without panic.

    “What’s going on?” You asked as she pulled a key from a pocket at her waist, and released Gamzee from the chain. The guards didn’t do anything to stop her, but rather concerned about themselves, fixing weapons and such. You all watched her with surprise.

    ”Scouts.” She answered quickly, the cuffs falling off your wrist and then she kneeled down and unchained the one on your ankle too.  “Highblood-scouts. We’ve been discovered.” The chains fell to the ground so you were all free and she looked at you firmly, not unkind. “We have to go.”

    “You’re coming with me” was implied in what she said and you looked at each other, trying to make a decision you didn’t have time to make. One of the trolls tapped the Disciple’s shoulder and she spun around. The message was clear; it was time to go. Quickly nodding she motioned that your time was up and reluctantly you started to move.

    You thought it would have been hard doing such an emergency-escape with such a huge number of trolls. But they had been prepared, apparently for very long. Weapons were taken with, at least those easy to carry and that seemed to be most. They hadn’t only been prepared; they had expected something like this.

    Around the hideout there were many, many exits and the rebels split up going different ways. You seemed to be the biggest group, having The Disciple in front, and you felt the watchful eyes of all the others on your back. Looked like you wouldn’t get away that easily.

    You got to a part where everyone else seemed to know where to go, and you realized it was to pick up the last member of your group. Tavros really didn’t have his legs, and had to be carried, a thing he seemed embarrassed about. Apparently and luckily they had taken his legs with them too (though you wondered if that was only kindness or that the mechanics were above anything they had seen before).

    “Sorry, I didn’t manage to get them working in time…” Tavros apologized and you waved it off. You were only glad that they hadn’t decided to leave him behind. In that case you would have carried him yourself. To hell with being a Seadweller-princess… maybe that could also have helped you with the whole convincing you’re not planning to do any hurt.

    You got out from one of the long tunnels The Disciple had led you through, and outside you found the group of the Signless waiting for you. As they confirmed everyone was fine, the group started to move as stealthily as it could away from the hideout.

    “Where are we going?” Gamzee asked, quick to the case and not too happy at going away. At least when it came to not being able to go where he wanted, and look for the others.

    “It’s not far. I promise.” Signless said, picking up the worry and suspicion in his voice. “We have a second base we can use as a shelter when day comes. Mama should be there.” The last thing he said, almost mumbling, telling you that it wasn’t important but the words made once again something fit in your head.

    Mama? Short for Mother? It took another moment searching in your mind after the right text, before it clicked. Mother, a troll-lusus. The Dolorosa! 

    For a moment you forgot the danger you were in, getting excited again at the possibility of meeting the mother of the Signless; the only troll-mother in history, the only troll in history who abandoned her job to save a single grub, a true role model for everyone. (Not counting the things that the society told you, what the books actually spoke of but rather proving that yes, it is possible to escape ones fate).

    As soon as the hive was out of sight, the small divisions left of the rebels gathering up, everyone started to pick up the pace. Within a couple of minutes, you were out in a full sprint.

    You didn’t know how far you had run, only that your breath had started to come out raspy and in gasps, your feet and the wounded leg pulsating and hurting. You wanted to find a stream; it would be easier to keep up if you were able to swim but wasn’t like you were going to be allowed. No opening had been created for you to escape and the trolls knew it.

    Finally it seemed like everyone started to slow down, but the relief was short-lived as the reason you stopped wasn’t that you had arrived.

    “Signless!” A woman, who could be no one else than The Dolorosa (why weren’t you surprised that it was Kanaya’s ancestor) stood in front of you and ran up to the Signless. “We were just on our way to you.” She sounded concerned, but you didn’t hear more than that, as your attention shifted rather quickly.

    “Fef?” You heard a voice asking from above, and Sollux got down before you, surprise showing plain on his face.

    “Sollux!” You squealed and jumped up, hanging onto him in the air a moment before dropping down. Out from the forest came the rest of your group, and you felt something heavy lift from your heart. Relief flooded you like a small stream coming home to the sea. They were alright. Looking another moment you realized that it wasn’t really true.

    “Eridan? Are you alright?” You went over to Eridan, whose arm was wrapped with some cloth and stained with purple blood. Huh. He didn’t have his cape either. Something big must have happened.

    “Meh, nothing to worry about.” He shrugged it off, hiding his wrapped arm slightly and bending it, showing that it was mostly okay and that you shouldn’t worry. Without missing a beat he changed the subject by throwing the same care back at you, motioning at your leg. “Could ask you the same.”

    “Nothing to worry about.” You mirrored his exact words and smiled, earning a small smile from him as he rolled his eyes.

    The ancestors you knew about seemed to have a quick emergency meeting, surely important things that would have been great for you to know (and you think you heard “heiress” get mentioned…) but now all you wanted was to make sure everyone was okay and the twelve of you gathered around and… twelve? You counted, recounted, again and again. Horror seeped into your mind.

    Eleven. You were only eleven.

    You did a quick memory-check, but it didn’t take long before you realized who was missing. It was weird you hadn’t noticed the moment you looked (or listened). Now the worry started anew, before you could ask, Gamzee’s voice sounding from behind you.

    ”Where is Karkat?” He asked, sounding lost but the atmosphere around him growing angrier very, very quickly. You moved away by instinct and Sollux got up before you, sparks around him ready to subdue Gamzee if needed. All of you knew that in the end it wouldn’t matter. “WHERE THE FUCK IS MY MORAIL!?”

    You didn’t know what to expect, but as Eridan clenched his fists beside you, looking way, you knew that it couldn’t be good. This wouldn’t be good at all. Equius was standing close to Nepeta, and neither seemed like they wanted to say anything so it was Aradia who took place, stepping up. She opened her mouth, closed it, and breathed out. Then with a look towards Sollux, she turned back and talked with a shaky breath.

    “Your ancestor got him. I’m so sorry.”

    You expected Gamzee to lash out, scream, do anything, especially since you felt his powers vibrate around in your head. Only hinting but it was clearly there.

    He screamed, curling into himself and claws making indigo streaks down his face and messing up his paint. It sounded like he was crying, but then the sound changed and with a strange fear you realized he was laughing. Then it went back into a growl. “you have to joking. IT CAN’T BE MOTHERFUCKING TRUE.”

    It looked like he wanted to kill someone, anyone, and by now the adults had noticed and had quieted down, looking alarmed at your group. A couple of them had weapons out and your mind reeled, spinning to find a way to stop everyone, stop the bloodshed that was bound to happen.

    You were a princess. Why couldn’t you find one way of getting everyone to calm down? Where was the knight when you needed him?

    The page seemed to be a temporary replacement.

    “They’re coming!” Tavros suddenly yelled, gaining everyone’s attention. For a moment you couldn’t hear anything, and wondered how he knew, then the sound of hoofbeasts became loud and oh, so that’s why.

    You would easily be able to get your 2x3 trident from your Specibus, but the question was whenever you should or not. You didn’t want to seem dangerous. To the rebels it appeared like you had no ability to protect yourself and you were shoved to the side with your friends. If you wanted it to stay that way you would have to make a moral decision. Reveal that you had a weapon and probably get even more chained up after this, or forget it and fight with your bare fists. Staying back was impossible.

    The ones from the second half of your group had their weapons out already, Terezi could use her staff and Kanaya was fast enough to attack without using her chainsaw. Even Tavros who seemed to be passive was smiling as the hoofbeasts and other animals started to riot against their masters. It seemed to be best to do hand-to-hand combat, and steal some weapon as soon as you got a chance, or get your trident when no one was watching.

    You had been passive too long. A scream told you that the enemies had got reinforcement, coming from another way and closing in towards you fast. The thought that they had seen your sign and realized who you were made your whole body place itself in fight mode.  Someone moved beside you, and you realized that Gamzee had moved forward, swaying from side to side for a moment before stabilizing. You looked at his hands. 

    He had his clubs. He raised his head and you swallowed shallowly as you realized he was smiling. It sent a chill through your whole body.

    “Stay out of my way, Peixes” he warned, clubs spinning slowly in his hand. He didn’t even look at you, only kept his eyes strained at the enemies coming closer. “Don’t you dare to touch my prey.” You knew you were not the only one looking at him. Pretty much everyone not directly in a battle and even a few combating kept their eyes on Gamzee.

    You started to feel like wanting to find the closest waterhole, jump in and swim down, down, down until you got home when he started to move. One second. He shot away straight forward towards the attackers. The fright let go of you. Instead the enemies suddenly had a lot of terror in their eyes.

    All you could do was stay still and stare.

    It was pure slaughter.

    Chapter Text

    Round and round it goes. Round and round and stop.

    Round and round it goes. Cracking heads stop and spin.

    Round and round it goes. Round and round and stop.

    hehe.

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Your hands tightened around the clubs, then relaxed as you spun them around with your fingers. The faster you managed to get them the wider your smile got. It wasn’t really that weird, holding your clubs felt more comfortable than holding nothing. They filled an emptiness that made you want to DRIVE YOUR CLAWS INTO YOUR PALMS, made you want to warm them up blood. WARM BLOOD ALL OVER your motherfucking fingers.  (Karkat used to hold your hand when this happened, his small, warm fingers entangled in yours and that felt better, much better than blood did). Your insides hurt and ached with sadness and guilt and longing, so you just turned them off. You knew that the rage would stay; it always did, always mixed with laugher.

    Karkat.

    He was the one who was supposed to be by your side, to calm you down, and you were supposed to be by his side to protect him. You had failed. And it was your blood, YOUR OWN MOTHERFUCKING GODDAMN COLD BLOOD, that hurt Karkat. But it was fine. All you had to do was to remove all shades of indigo. Remove everyone that got in your way.

    You felt when the blood splattered over you as you cracked another open, jumping away just in time as his ally came a bit too late to save him. Without wasting a moment you shot back, throwing one club high above him while attacking with the other. His elbow snapped and his weapon, only centimetres away from your face, dropped to the ground. With your other hand you caught the first club coming down, and smacked it down right where neck meets shoulder. Something tore and he fell down screaming.

    Someone else would take care of him, but you snatched the curled sword he’d had as a weapon, moving both of your clubs into one hand. Seeing black and blue in the corner of your eyes you spun around on your heel, dodging another while making good use of the sword into her stomach.

    Funny, how you didn’t even need to think.

    It was so easy, SO HILARIOUSLY EASY to feel their confusion and fear. They underestimated you fully, saw only a child against so many and it was so fun SO FUN! Maybe they started to realize who you were, and that you didn’t care for ANYTHING ELSE THAN GETTING THE DOWN, getting them down the hole and never letting them crawl up again.

    You didn’t care that you got hurt; all you wanted was for these fuckers to STOP MOVING.

    Two attacked at the same time, and this round you didn’t succeed fully to get away. The blunt end of a mallet smashed into your head and making the world spin and spin and round and round it goes. Indigo ran down your eyes and in your mouth (All too much like when little cat-sister cut you in a fit of rage. You had never blamed her. Now you more than ever understood all too well how she had felt).

    Without stopping you twirled around on the spot again, and took them both down by switching weapons to a hammer. Before someone who wasn’t already dead noticed, you switched back (clubs really was the best) reacting with pure instinct as someone (grown-up still) ran past you.

    Your club stopped right before him, somewhere in your mind progressing that he was too low, NOT HIGH ENOUGH TO BE YOUR PREY, and you continued around him to the next Highblood. Everywhere there was too much blue. You wanted indigo, wanted, needed more red to mix with the blue to make your indigo and…

    You saw red. For a moment you stopped, watching as one of the few survivors of your enemies attacked the Signless. Blood was already pouring out his arm. Candy red. Beautiful red. THE COLOUR THAT BELONGED TO YOUR BROTHER, the colour the world wasn’t allowed to see, had been spilled.

    (Karkat was hurt).

    You curled into yourself as if someone had kicked you straight into your midriff. Images your mind concurred up, images you had tried to keep at bay, cleared up in your head (Karkat suffering, screaming, he looked so piteously scared and you knew, knew who hurt him who was hurting him AND YOU COULDN’T PROTECT HIM! couldn’t stop the dripping of red).

    With newfound anger you moved again, fast, before the troll had the time to notice you.

    The club smacked into his neck and you could almost hear the sound of the spine breaking, hah, maybe you did. The body fell down on the ground and you stood, staring down at the Signless. The so kind Signless, so like your Karkat and so, so importantly different and why, WHY WAS KARKAT THE ONE WHO WAS GONE? Why did Karkat have to suffer instead of this impostor, this reason Karkat had always been so scared.

    You should really kill him.

    You didn’t move.

    The Signless took down his arms from the position of protection. Looking up at you gently he started to move, started to rise up so GODDAMN SLOWLY. He was careful, not making any sudden movements or any attempts on attacking or absconding but it was not like he was afraid. No. You would know, you knew how Karkat looked and moved and felt when he was scared and this WASN’T IT.

    (This wasn’t Karkat.)

    You knew that the battle had come to an end. You were fully aware that his followers stood around you, twitching to finish you off before you could do something. You had full understanding that you could probably kill him before they had time.

    His arms wrapped around you, and your breath hitched. So wrong, so incredibly wrong. You wanted to kill this imposter, kill everyone, hunt them down until you found your best friend found your morail found your Karkat. What made you stop was the voice, the voice that was very, very much the same. If you closed your eyes, closed off that mad part of your brain that told you he was fake, you could almost pretend Karkat was there with you. For you.

    The Signless spoke to you quietly, and in echo you heard your morail speaking in your mind. 

    “Calm down.” He whispered, and Karkat scoffed in return. Shut the fuck up and relax for once. “Breathe.” No shouting, only shooshing. “Hush child” Shooooooooooosh.“I’m here.” I love you, okay? “It’s alright.”

    I’m alright.

    You dropped the clubs on the ground, leaning into him and breathing in the smell of Karkat’s ancestor. All the indigos’ and Highbloods’ fragrance of blood was lying in the air and on your hands, but his blood wasn’t. Right. Karkat wasn’t dead until you saw it yourself. And if… if he was, you could take revenge when that time came. If he was the least hurt you’d kill everyone involved (so for his sake he’d better be alive, to calm you down).

    Breathing out you let the anger slip away, letting the other emotions take place again. It wouldn’t be good to succumb to the urge of seeking revenge, not when there were still things you could mess up, not when there was also thing you could fix. After that, the wrath subsiding to other emotions, they left you mentally drained. Your body reminded you that you had pushed it too far as the hurt from your wounds and blood loss caught up to your brain. Not being able to fight against both parts of your being, everything blacked out.

    When you came to again it felt like you had slept for an eternity or more, and you still felt like you would be able to just fall down the hole again.

    The voices from your group made you abandon that desire fast enough and you struggled up. They noticed you moving and those with their back turned against you looked back.

    “Are you feeling okay?” Tavros broke the silence. It sounded more like an ‘are you going to kill us?’ but as it was Tavros, so it might be both or most likely the first.

    “I’m fine.” you assured him, and well you didn’t really feel any need to kill them, that would be stupid and counterproductive. You seemed to be in some kind of a cave, not as big or complicated as the hideout you had been before this. There was also the fact that even though you could feel the breath of air, you couldn’t see any opening. It had to be night outside. “How long…?”

     “You’ve been out the whole day” Equius explained silently and helpfully and you grimaced. So long? It even looked like half the night had gone by, maybe more. All that precious time lost when you could have been finding a way to save Karkat, (what if it was already too late?)

    “Don’t worry!” Feferi apparently knew your worry, or maybe they all knew but she was the one to bring it up. “What do you think we’ve been doing all this time?”

    “We gotta figure out a master plan to save our Glorious Leader” Terezi grinned at you, the joking naming of Karkat made you answer her grin with a small smile of your own. You wondered if she noticed that the words only had a small hint of the mocking it was created to show.

    “Good thing is that they aren’t exactly expecting an attack.” They continued from where they had apparently left off, Eridan laughing tonelessly as they looked down into a map in the middle of their circle. Aradia reached forward and traced a finger down the place where the black-blue edge met green. (Water and Land, you assumed).

    “Maybe we should ask the Dolorosa?” Nepeta suggested, throwing a glance away from your group to the one far away in the darkness. “She if anyone should know about this.” Looked like Feferi had explained the situation to everyone while you were still asleep.

    “Do you think they’ll help us?” Vriska said disbelieving and followed Nepeta’s look. As on cue, the Signless broke free from the group of adults further away and came over.  

    “Mind if I join you?” The Signless asked, sounding curious and really asking, like he would go away if you told him. After a quick meeting of eyes, Kanaya answered quietly.

    “…no, it’s fine.”

    ”Are you serious about doing this.” He sat down close to you, outside the ring but still so that he could see everything. His voice wasn’t accusing, but it was evidently still trying to make you change your minds. “You’re going to get yourself killed.” For a moment you were scared it would work.

    “No.” “We’re not.” “Not happening.” “So what?” Everyone replied, quickly and without hesitation. It made you feel pleased and calm knowing that they were on Karkat’s side. (No more murdering our, yes our friends, you get that stupid clown? Or do I need to pap it straight into your think-pan? Because I swear to god, and no, not yours dumbass, that I will do it).

    ”Does it look like we’re joking?” You finally filled in at the end, looking at him and daring him to say something more against you. To his credit he didn’t, only smiling a little bit sadly and conflicted.

    “I guess not.” He admitted and you turned back into the ring again, ignoring the audience you now had to continue planning. Who would go? Would all go? Probably not if you wanted this to succeed with as little causalities as possible. How would you then contact each other? It wouldn’t be good to split up. Time limit?

    It was hard to get to any kind of decision on any questions you put together. Sollux massaged his temples and had closed his eyes, trying to make sense of everything everyone suggested and in his mind. He was probably putting together the best combinations. Just as he seemed to be finishing the most likely options to succeed, you were once again interrupted.

     “Sir! I think you should look at this!” A troll you hadn’t met, or hadn’t bothered to notice came running. He sent a quick glance toward you but apparently decided that the paper in his hand was important enough that speed beat secrecy. He stretched the paper forward to the Signless and you moved next to him to get a better look, ignoring the gaze of caution you got from the speaking troll. “I think it’s just something to provoke us but…”

    Signless took the paper, looking through it with his eyes growing larger and larger, confusion and disbelief of his face. You crawled a bit closer, to see what it said. It seemed like an invitation, not directly to the Signless but rather a summon for all trolls to an official event. You continued reading, and slowly the significance of the paper sunk in.

    (Round and round it goes.)

    This time you wouldn’t lock down your emotions, you only let them flow over you and mix. You breathed slowly.

    (Crack heads, continue spinning.)

    Everything faded in favour of cold, comfortable, CONTROLLED RAGE.

    -----------------

    “LOOKS LIKE you’re still alive.”

    You breathed shallowly, trying not to move so much and making any unnecessary hurt to your aching body. Shit. You wouldn’t be doing yelling anytime soon, with how many broken ribs you had. Had the sun set yet? The beating you’d got had felt like an eternity, but the part after was almost worse. The dark wait, not being able to move in fear of hurting yourself even more. A timeless ache.

    That wait seemed to be of an end as your cage opened, and once again you watched the Highblood through swollen eyes.

    You wanted to act cocky, wanted to spit out something like ‘what gives me the honour?’ but you couldn’t move your mouth. Every bone, bruise and wound reminded you what hurt you’d been put through. It forced you to stay still in fear that it would happen again. You weren’t a masochist after all.

    Without warning his hand hauled your body closer. Every broken bone became affected and you screamed, immediately regretting it as you curled into yourself. He laughed at your pain, sick bastard probably got off on this.

    “feel grateful, THE EMPRESS HERSELF, our dear ruler, has made A DECISION about you.” You couldn’t decide what mood he was in, happy or angry. It was some kind of mix between all. Dissatisfied, frustrated and yes, even delight hid behind it. A hand stroked your cheek, smearing out blood and he looked at it carefully, with a smile making you shiver. “it’s just TOO BAD i won’t get TO KEEP YOU longer…”

    You felt dread gather in your stomach, wanting to ask what he meant, what was going to happen to you. What would be so important that Her Imperious Condescension would have a fin in this? A sharp claw broke your skin, making blood pour out and The Grand Highblood grinned.

    “we have to MAKE YOU PRETTY for your EXECUTION.”

    ----------------

     (Round and round and round. And stop.)

    Chapter Text

    ...

    Your name is THE HANDMAID, and you are currently waiting.

    On what, you hardly know and it’s a strange sensation. You’d always know what to do; it was never your choice.

    Now the choices you have done, and have refused to do have developed to something out of your reach.

    All you can do is watch, and wait for time and change to unfold.

                      You do not wait alone, and through the darkness you see a child of light come and she stops.

    ROSE LALONDE smiles at you.

    ...

    Chapter Text

    The time from when you had met up with the others to that of your resting place you were in now, had gone by in a blur. Without your time-powers you couldn’t point it out exactly how much time had passed. Just as everyone else you only remembered the quick escape from the coming sun and then the sluggish wait of the day. You had slept in turns, without even speaking about it, resting until night once again arose. And panic once again returned.

    It wasn’t hard to realize what, or who, it was about with how Gamzee stormed up, going to the closest wall, punching it hard while letting out a choked off scream. Sollux snatched the paper from the Signless fingers as he looked at Gamzee, and you gathered round. You felt a sudden taste of bile, in disgust about how they had written.

    The description of Karkat’s execution was portrayed like it was some kind of entertainment, some sick show and not a direct pike towards all those who knew.  A mocking and a challenge (or maybe, hopefully not, a pick-up of your challenge).

    “What is it?” Terezi asked, thankfully not trying to lick the paper to know but it forced you to explain. You sent a glance towards the Signless, who was looking at your reactions in a way that told you it was too late to shrug it off as nothing.

    “…it’s Karkat…” you replied quietly, as if trying to continue to hide what was obvious by now. Not only Terezi was listening, but also the others who had yet to see the leaflet. “They’re going to execute him.” From behind her red glasses, Terezi’s eyes widened.

    “What!? When?” She demanded an answer, drawing the attention of the trolls who had heard the commotion and slowly gathered around. The question made you stop, think, and realize that you had absolutely no idea.  You might be able to sense kind of in which part of history you had landed into, but exact date? You barely knew if you were in the dim or the dark season.

    Sollux saved you from your cluelessness by doing the easiest thing you could do; ask. 

    “How far away is this date?” He questioned the Signless, pointing at the paper still in his hand. Karkat’s ancestor seemed to snap out from a mild case of shock, looking at you before answering with confusion in his voice.

    “Not counting this night, it’s about…” He thought carefully about his response, as if not quite remembering what date it was. “A half of a smaller moon-turn.” You calculated it in your mind, feeling slight desperation and anguish well up in your chest. That was not enough time, far away from enough; only around five nights give or take. It was way too soon if you were about to make a rescue plan, and carry it out.

    No doubt security would also have increased dramatically. The Highbloods didn’t like having to abort and execution of this level.

    “You know this person?” The Disciple asked, kneeling down next to her blood-match as Nepeta looked into the wall with an expression mixed with hate and hopelessness.

    You wondered if that was some kind of blood-thing, ancestors having some kind of base for protection of their descendants. Like how The Psiioniic had taken an instant like towards Sollux (teasing and cute as it may be) and Kanaya and the Dolorosa had yet to talk to each other, but the offshoot peeks they stole of each other held no hostility, rather more something like curiosity.

    Of course, you though as Feferi moved to answer, it would probably be different for the Highbloods.

    “He’s kind of our self-proclaimed leader.” Feferi smiled sadly, biting at bit at her lip in thought as she got the paper from Sollux, reading it with sad eyes. You moved over to your morail and he closed his eyes and tapped his fingers against each other. All of your minds were probably racing at this point; you didn’t know what to do.

    No doubt Sollux would increase the pressure on himself now, when the circumstances had changed. He would also be more aware of that every plan he thought up would fail, you didn’t know enough.

    The news had spread as the Dolorosa came over to you and her protégé, joining the conversation as she took a look at the leaflet. “If this is your friend…” The Dolorosa said, questioning but slowly getting it after having analysed your reactions. “He couldn’t be…”

    “A red-blooded-mutant?” Eridan stated, maybe not so smart that he was the one who said it, but it got the words out from everyone’s minds and into the air. The Seadweller shot a glance towards the Signless, watching his reaction as he continued. “Yeah, he is.”

    “But…?” This time it was the Signless wanting to question, and you didn’t blame him. All his life he had been one of a kind, a single troll born under a bad star and forced to carry the results. He hadn’t given a thought to that it could exist another (at least not in this time-period, not now.)

    You tried to put the truth in such gentle words as possible.

    “Is it that hard to comprehend you having a descendant?” You said, softly and every expression that the Signless might have got up faded into something hollow and disbelieving. A sudden horror. He shook his head, and leaned forward as if he had heard wrong. As if he desperately wished for himself to have heard wrong. You felt with him.

    “What?” Even his voice was shallow, not carrying that emotion it always did. “My… descendant?” He really couldn’t believe it and you once again though at the bond between blood-matches. He could probably understand better how Karkat felt and worked (except maybe Gamzee) without even have met him once. 

    “Look. That’s why we’re kind of secretive alright?” Vriska added, breaking the small tension lying in the air with a shrug. “You’re his exact copy, and honestly… it is kind of freaky.” The rest of you hummed in agreement. Comparing your little angry thing of a leader to The Signless was a hard feat, but still they were alike enough to be uncomfortable.

    “But why… would you care?” The Signless continued, and the question completely threw you off by a beat. You knew he came from that Karkat was a mutant, something you all knew by now. You wondered how many of the others that had known, for yourself you had seen it when your robot-mind had downloaded the images from the doomed timelines. Back then you didn’t care about it. It wasn’t strange how that knowledge had transferred from dead to alive, and now you didn’t think of it as anything else than interesting.

    But you couldn’t answer for how the others felt, even though none of them had shown outright danger. None would probably dare, after the display Gamzee had shown back when you met up again. No one wanted to be at the end of his bloody clubs. (You wondered if they would ever lose that blue-indigo tint).  

    “He’s probably not the best of leaders.” Nepeta was the one who took to answering, a small, shaking laugh in her voice as she looked up from the floor. “But he’s our friend.”

    “Not such a good friend either, actually.” Vriska rolled her eyes, mumbling and got a punch on her arm by Terezi. You would have thought it was rude if not for the small smile playing on Vriska’s lips. It told you that she was only joking. Joking just as she would if Karkat had been in the room, and Terezi had picked it up.

    “Vriska shut up.” The Libra said, hidden laughter in her voice. “He got us through and here. That’s enough for such a wriggler to be called our friendleader.”

    “Through what?” The Signless asked again making Terezi freeze at the question, realizing she might have spoken a little bit too soon and a little bit too much about things she didn’t really know. Oh yes, you knew all knew about the game and kind of how it worked, but how you got here?

    You had your suspicions, after Feferi had briefed you on the rebellion you were currently in the point blank middle of, what was going on. It was only a guess, a doubt in the back of your head, and not enough facts that made you sure you could explain to everyone. You were no longer the know it all (a relief and a curse) and even when you had been you had made grave mistakes. (Only and always by listening to the voice, you sometimes imagined you heard in a dreamless sleep).

    So about that, you would keep quiet. Even to your friends.

    Then there was the second problem how much you should tell the grown-ups, tell the ancestors about your past and their future.

    Everyone was looking at you, leaving you the decision, probably as you were the hero of time, the one with all the cryptically answers. Of course you could tell them everything you knew, both about the game and about the future and somehow you didn’t doubt that the Signless would believe you. But would the others? Would the normal trolls believe you and be able to continue fighting even though they wouldn’t succeed?

    Would you have gone into the game knowing you would loose so much and end up literally before where you started?

    No spoilers, it was then.

    “We can’t tell you.” You gave as a reply, immediately getting looks of doubt and disbelief from most in the room. “I know it’s hard, but please, it would be too complicated to explain.”  You tried to clarify. Immediately you got turned down.

    “Oh really. That you can’t or that you’re not allowed.” One of the adults snarled, distrustful and harsh and you weren’t about to get beaten down.

    “I simply won’t.” You shot back, trying to keep your voice stern and sure of what you were saying. You really didn’t want to be forced to tell everything you knew. You would never be believed, best version you would be deemed nuts. “Neither can I explain why.”

    “Why is it that we don’t believe you?” Another one spoke, starting to sound rude a bit too much, though you wouldn’t hold it against them. They were only trying to hold to everything they were fighting for. You were throwing their world around; asking them to trust you without reason and speaking against everything they had learned.

    This didn’t mean that the fact that they started to act aggressively wasn’t a problem, and your morail wasn’t late to pick that up.

    “Hey! Back off!” Sollux threatened, stepping up and coming to your protection. “If AA doesn’t talk she has a good reason to it. So don’t you dare to touch her.”  

    “And you think, only because you are the descendant of the Psiioniic you’re as much worth?” Both you (and from the movement in the corner of your eye) and the Psiioniic reacted to this, prepared to either stop Sollux or any of the adults from breaking out in a fight. Before anything managed to blow up, you got interrupted.

    “everybody SHUT THE FUCK UP.” Gamzee yelled, the attention shifting towards him and he was still holding a hand on the wall he’d punched. He looked tired and annoyed but not really in a way that made you want to reach for your whip. More like he really, really just wanted you all to shut up. “you’re giving me a motherfucking headache.”

    “And what do you want with this?” There was some kind of obvious scorn between Gamzee and one of the opposing troll, as the adult once again challenged him as much as he did to you. Gamzee didn’t step up to it, acting careful and calm, even with the anger boiling clearly on the surface. What you knew was that the anger wasn’t directed at anyone in this room. Not yet.

    “Karkat is the person most important to me. And that’s that.” Gamzee simply glared at him, his voice leaving no room for any doubting of his words. “And I don’t care if you won’t trust us, or me. I don’t care what you decide, I’m going to save him and if you try to stop me I’ll wreck you up.” At the same time of being a warning to the adults, you could also feel it being an advice for all of you. Even if you backed off from actively trying to save Karkat he would still go through with it, probably only to die.

    How good that the thought of not saving your friendleader hadn’t crossed your mind.

    “There has to be something we can do. You may not trust us, but maybe you can help.” You said, holding Signless in an insistent look. It was obvious he knew what was best for his group, that it was way too dangerous and could destroy everything they had worked towards. But this reasoning was starting to fall, doubt forming in his mind and a glance he gave to his lover was all you needed to know you were correct.

    The Disciple looked at her descendant, Nepeta staring between the floor and her with sad eyes and then sent an offshoot look you missed where it landed, but Feferi obviously didn’t.

    “What is it I can do?” She straightened looking around at all the adults. Knowing they had been discovered some of them flinched, looking at each other and Feferi gave a short laugh and a smile, completely honest and with no scorn. “Come on. Didn’t you bring me here for a reason? You knew who I was.”

    “Fef!?”  Eridan exclaimed, clear worry in his voice and a small whine telling her to stop whatever she was doing. She didn’t.

    “If you save Karkat, I’ll do everything in my power to help you.” She promised without any of you being able to stop her. Did you want to stop her? She probably felt like all of you, wanting everyone to be okay, but what would you do if saving Karkat came with the prize of the Heiress. “Because you need me.”

    The response she didn’t get was answer enough.

    Chapter Text

    Everyone was looking at the Signless, while you observed your ancestor. The Disciple met your eyes and gave a small smile before she turned to her leader and lover.

    “It’s true. Don’t you think we’ve been passive for too long?” She was talking to the Signless, but at the same making a speech out for those who listened. It was weird, hearing your own voice (with the only difference that hers had lost that light over-tone yours still had, and her voice held a depth, used to speak to convince). She felt like someone you had known your entire life, someone who had been beside you while growing up and drawing. Now she was speaking for your cause.

    “Last night was a declaration of war and we all know it.” She stood up, “If we hadn’t been so careful, the Highbloods would have annihilated us all. This is just another way for them to provoke us, and they are expecting us to back down. They expect us to lose faith and followers. It’s a warning.”

    “But what will happen if we break that warning, turn it right back at them and let them know to not mess with us.” The Disciple was all out smiling now, “Our biggest threat has a possibility of being dissolved. This may be the best chance we can get to show our claws and give the Empire a tear!”

    “And this is where Feferi comes in?” You asked, reminding her that she had yet to explain the details to you in her excitement.

    “Purecisely,” She said, gaining a small smile from you after the pun and calmed down, once again getting the attention back at the little princess of your group. “Is it true that The Empress can kill with will?”

    Feferi took a moment of thought, before nodding silently. “Yes. It’s possible. The connection to Gl’bgolyb do that she has an ability to tap into the flow of life,” Before your ancestor could continue, Feferi kept talking in a slightly forebodingly voice. “And before any of you get any ideas, the answer is no, you cannot kill Gl’bgolyb, even though the powers come from her.”

    “Can you control that thing then?” Another troll asked, not rudely but from Feferi’s expression it had clearly been the wrong thing to say.

    “Her,” Feferi corrected, like she didn’t have to think at all and that actually made sense. Although Gl’bgolyb was an Emissary to the Horrorterrors, with a voice that could kill millions, bottom-line she was still a lusus, and sure it would made you angry if someone called your mom a thing. “I can’t really control her if not… If not she chooses me as her favourite over The Empress. Then I can ask her for favours, such as no killing.”

    “And you would want to do that?” The Signless spoke for the first time in the conversation, and you couldn’t help but to smile a little bit at the distrust for help. It reminded you of a certain crabby-guy, who took way to much responsibility and couldn’t rely on anyone else. Really had to be in the genes of these ones. Feferi shrugged, going back to a full-teethed smile.

    “If you save Karkat, I don’t sea why I shouldn’t do my best?”

    The Signless took one look around the room, asking with his eyes if anyone wanted to step up and argue further. When no one did, he nodded. “Then let’s decide on that.”

    You couldn’t stop a smile from spreading on your face. It felt like the possibilities of saving Karkat just got a little bit better, like a huge weight had been lifted off your chest.

    After the quick meeting, the Disciple sought you up for a slight private talk. It felt right and normal to allow it, even when small-talks like these were usually reserved only for the diamonds. It wasn’t cheating or anything, even putting it in those words sounded weird; it was really more like talking to yourself. And counting from Karkat the conversations he had held with himself had been anything other than morailly.

    “Nepeta was it?” She started, hair swaying as she stopped next to you and leaned against the wall. You couldn’t help but to finger at your own hair. How did she manage to keep it so long? “I didn’t get any good occatsion to purrsent meowself.” She grinned.

    “Excatly.” You countered, getting a fanged smile in return for the exchange of puns. You reached out your hand in greeting. “Nepeta Leijon here… a Leo.”

    “Same here,” She stated the obvious, laughing under her breath as she grabbed your hand, careful and curious about the claws on your gloves. You sunk down into something resembling a comfortable silence, none of you quite knowing what to say or what to talk about. If you weren’t careful you might say something too personal for both yourself and the other. While trying to find something you could both chat about, you looked around the cave with your eyes, seeking out your morail.

    Equius was sitting further away, fixing Tavros legs with a more than small audience and even from here you could see him being nervous about the attention from the adults. To his advantage Tavros didn’t really look at ease with the situation either, but it was a small price to pay for getting the legs fully back to normal.

    “That’s your morail?” Suddenly, almost without you noticing The Disciple had noted you staring and was leaning down to you. She whispered, as if it was a secret and you were simply gossiping about the different people you knew. “The buff one?” You giggled.

    “Is it that obvious? Yeah, that’s my meowrail!” You were proud over him. Before he would surely have made at least some mistakes, dropping slurs without reason and thinking, but now he seemed just about uncomfortable and that way good enough. You started to point out everyone you knew; telling names and your ancestor repeated them with perfect imitation and pronunciation. It almost sounded like you were saying each name twice.

    You had to stop for a moment looking after the last three you had missed before finding them.

    Sollux, Gamzee and Aradia was still standing with Kanaya’s ancestor and the Signless, discussing how to proceed with a possibly rescue plan. It was a one-time shot, one mistake and everything would fail. No second chances. No matter how much you would want to have a say with it, they were probably the best to make a plan and to have everyone help would only end up in a mess. Maybe that was why Karkat always took to dictatorship.

    Finally The Disciple spoke, looking at them with you. “I was wondering about the Indigo.” You felt your stomach drop. Tavros had warned you about this, how the trolls here were unhealthily suspicious of the Highbloods (with right, you guessed, it was what they knew) but you really didn’t think you were the right person to protect Gamzee’s honour or whatever. Especially not about confirming him being harmless.

    (They had all seen the opposite anyway, watching Gamzee take out adult after adult, laughing even with blood running down his arms and face. What if you hadn’t been attacked? What if he hadn’t had anyone to take out that capricious insanity on?)

    But the question she gave threw you off.

    “Well, he’s got those scars…” for a moment you were about to just shrug it away as something you didn’t know, but her green eyes were suddenly nailing you and you understood. Same eyes, same genes, same weapons and fighting style. She knew those scars came from you, and the silence you kept had ruined any chance of sweeping it away. “Why…?”

    “We got in a fight.” You explained as simply as you could, trying to escape from the question while minimalizing her prying. “I was stupid and angry but… You know, I’m not really allowed to talk about it.” This unfortunately didn’t get her to look any less wondering and you were quick to continue. You waved your hands in a swaying motion, as if to brush away her suspicion. “Don’t get me wrong! Karkat is actually the one who made that rule!”

    “About the incident?” She questioned, referring back to the things that Aradia had decided not to explain, and the rest of you had silently agreed that it would be for your best interest to keep quiet. Now you would betray by who you were not allowed, but hopefully it wouldn’t matter.

    “He decided that it would be best to leave it in the past, to not dwell on it too much.” The order was probably one of the more or less sensible ones he had given. On one hand it left the matter unresolved, while on the other all it would do to confront it was to start up another story about revenge. Even with the slight nagging feeling you still felt towards Gamzee, it was nothing you wanted. You just wanted everyone to be happy (and in that fantasy, Gamzee still counted as someone deserving peace, a somewhat friend). 

    “I’m looking forward to meet this Karkat.” The Disciple hummed, keeping her eyes on your Cancer’s ancestor. “He seems important for you.” For a moment you got the feeling that she was implying something more, and you decided to answer with a just as cryptic answer you could manage.

    “He is.”

    Not soon after, your ancestor got called back to work by The Signless, the troll somehow signalling they needed her for a stage of planning or something.

    “Looks like I’ll be talking to you later, my little kitten.” The Disciple bumped your head affectionately, before running off towards The Signless. Her Signless. You sat down on the ground and took back to watching the trolls move around, trying to push away a sudden pain in your chest. You had always known that you would never be able to cross out you and Karkat as canon. Seeing the Signless and The Disciple like this… didn’t give you any hope.

    Honestly you accepted it, and were only glad that the ship had sailed for one Leo if not for two.

    “Nepeta, are you alright?” Just the person you needed asked as Equius came up beside you, and you smiled without replying. Not satisfied he sat down next to you, making a show of not going to move or do anything else before you did. You wanted to draw, not letting your mind carry you away of the crab you were missing, of how messed up things were. You wanted to go out on a hunt, continue moving even with your body telling you to rest, you have done enough last night. And then all there was left was for thoughts to invade your mind.

    It was hard to think, even the slight hours you had slept wrapped around Equius and a small dose of sopor on your forehead hadn’t been able to keep the daymares away. They didn’t really have to be imaginative last day; your memories only kept replaying in your memory and changing just a slightest bit. Karkat was always looking back at you, shadows coming to take him and you knew he would never look so scared or disappointed or weak.

    Not in front of you, he would never show himself as anything other than a leader and keep his own feeling hidden. (Was that why he had looked at you only shortly, before turning his back? Was it because he knew he couldn’t keep the pretence up). You moved slightly, scuffing up next to Equius and he immediately took the hint, opening up enough for you to lean against him.

    Equius had always been a rock in your life. You liked to move quickly, a huntress is always on her toes for something new, or after another prey. No matter how far away from home you came, no matter what places you crawled into, Equius would bring you back or pull you out with or against your will. But always for your own good. For sure, he would hold you back from the front-lines in this war too.

    “I will not part from your path again, Nepeta.” In normal place you would have argued further (Equius, purreeeeese, I can take care of myself, I’m pawsebly sure they’re not dangerous, I purromise!) but for now you lost all interest in doing it. Honestly you probably wanted to be separated from him even less than what he did, even if that meant you wouldn’t be able to take an active role in the beginning of saving Karkat.

    Maybe that would also be for the best. You staying back meant that Equius stayed back, and so you could protect him from him.

    Even here you could remember the feeling of getting caught by the Grand Highblood’s chucklevoodoo. You gave a shiver. The attack had come so clearly from the outside, no hiding or slipping in silently like how manipulators usually carried about, because he knew that you couldn’t stop it. No matter how much confidence or how much strength you had, it would still revert your brain to a mush of simple instincts. If you were to face it again, surely it would get in with just as much ease as back then.

    And if you froze up again, if you couldn’t move to protect your friends again, if you were forced to watch Equius be killed again, you wouldn’t know what to do. The best option, as it looked right now was to not become an aggressor, but stay camouflaged until the right time. And until then you would let Equius protect you.

    “Purfect”

    Chapter Text

    You couldn’t sleep.

    Time seemed to move too fast, the night before passing in a flow as the people in your group found their places. Sollux and Gamzee had stayed with the adults all the time, Aradia and Feferi joining them if they were needed for both information and brains. Kanaya had run off with her ancestor after a conversation you missed. After fixing Tavros legs, Equius had gone to Nepeta and later the two of them were helping and fixing stuff around the make-shift headquarters. Even Vriska had stayed with Tavros and made herself helpful with whatever task she was assigned.

    And you? You hadn’t done a glubbing thing.

    It wasn’t like you had wanted to sit sulking in a corner all night, only getting company when someone decided to keep it with you. And that was never long before they were called off again. More than anyone else, you were majorly untrusted by practically everyone. Being a Seadweller this was something you had expected, hell, you had thought it would be worse than being constantly under surveillance. You weren’t scared. That would be stupid. Probably only the aftereffects of the chucklevoodoo making you paranoid and making you have the feeling that someone was watching you.

    Like. Even now.

    You shot up looking around, the bright light coming from the openings making you squeeze your eyes into slivers. There was no movement, none that you could see anyway, and no sound, but the feeling was still there. Making your aquatic sponges stand on their edges. At least you were glad you had been allowed to stay with everyone when it was time to sleep, made up piles by random stuff working as substitutes to recuperacoons.

    “You okay bro?” Gamzee asked from where he sat, looking like he hadn’t slept at all. You wouldn’t be surprised if he hadn’t, after his black-out, even when he needed it more than anymore. Gamzee going on sleep-deprivation was the last you needed.

    “Sure.” You said, lying down again and trying to shake the bad feelings from your mind. It wasn’t fear. You weren’t supposed to feel fear… but it wasn’t like you trusted the grown-ups all in all. All you could feel was a slight bit of comfort in the fact that for once you were not alone.

    Next night came and started with almost higher efficiency rate than before, and it wasn’t until food before you found the others in the circle that more and more seemed like your natural position to sit together in. Only Feferi, Sollux and Aradia were once again not nearby, apparently working out a few details on the plan you had no knowledge of.

    “Can I sit here?” you asked, doing just so before anyone could accept or reject. Vriska gave a laugh, answering anyway with a grin revealing what she would say before she said it.

    “No way fish-breath, this is a coldblood-free zone!” She joked and you rolled your eyes, resisting the urge to throw a punch instead of a condescending eye-look. (And no, you wouldn’t acknowledge that the look was accompanied by a pout).

    “Like you’re the one to talk or anyfin, spiderbitch.” You made as a comeback and she raised her glass in slight defeat, grin never leaving her face. The small battle was almost over, if you hadn’t made the mistake on following your instincts and look around as the nagging in the back of your head grew.  She sniggered.

    “Aww, is the prince scared of the peasants?”

    “It’s not that…!” You tried to reject the idea, your voice failing as you realized that it was exactly the case this time. You decided to drop the subject by switching to your concerns. “It’s just… it feels like someone is constantly watching me.” Gamzee looked at you in slight wonder, as if you were stupid or something, and then smiled.

    “Of course they do.” He said with an unconcerned voice and you startled, slightly miffed with his response. “You get used to it. Just don’t show them you’re scared or they’ll think you’re a spy.” He simply gave you as advice, something that for the record didn’t make you feel better about the fact. No, that actually made you feel worse.

    You straightened up, trying to look proud and really tried to forget that unease feeling in the back of your head. It would hopefully disappear with time, or you’d be able to live with it. From what you had heard, Gamzee had had a couple of run-ins with some of the adults, and he was still fine. On the other hand it was Gamzee…

    “Weh, forget it.” You shook it off for a second time, but still couldn’t get it away, like it was a physical thing. Only a moment later you realized that it was, and that you weren’t the only one bothered.

    “Gamzee. Could you please turn that off?” Kanaya was sitting, looking more tense than usual and now rubbing her forehead with one hand.

    Gamzee looked just as stunned as you, before he closed his eyes and the buzzing in your head disappeared. Mostly disappeared anyway, enough to ignore. You still felt tired and had a headache, but the cagey feeling your mind had held slowly faded out into nothing. “Sorry, my bad.”

    “No wait.” Terezi tapped her staff in the ground in thought, her face splitting in a grin. It looked like she had a plan, that kind of plan that made you wonder if it really was safe or something far away from anything that way. Growing up with Vriska had taught you that the Scourge Sisters didn’t really have the most merciful ideas. “How long can you keep it up?”

    Gamzee shrugged. “Don’t know sis, until I get a headache?” She nodded thoughtfully, her grin dropping down before once again rising in a smirk. Oh no, that usually didn’t end well. Sure enough her next line made you all look at her like she finally had lost her mind.

    “Then hold it as long as you can.” As if sensing (or… smelling? you weren’t sure how that even worked) your disbelief she explained. “Fellow trolls, we’re up against the Grand Highblood. We should be at least a little prepared.”

    “That’s stupid!” You said, maybe a little bit too loud but you were almost, pretty very much sure that Nepeta (and Aradia if she was near) would back you up on this. “You haven’t felt the real thing. It’s not something you can get used to, or train against.”

    “Eridan is right.” Nepeta followed up, rolling her r’s at you name and you hid a slight breath of relief that you had someone on your side for this. “You can’t keep it away.”

    Terezi looked almost crestfallen, in a disappointed kind of way at your immediate refusal.

    “Still, Pyrope is correct. It won’t be doing any good if we all shut down in the middle of this fight.” Equius came to her helping, not really adding anything more to their side but it made more than sense. The moment you got caught everything would be over, and you would be more problem than help.

    Gamzee during this time had stayed quiet, watching the exchange before finally adding something himself.

    “Everyone here knows what the chucklevoodoo do by now, right?” He asked, as if confirming something he had thought to himself and you took to answering, at first feeling confident before it dropped down. What was it really?

     “You freeze?” You gave, doing the simplest explanation you could, making use of the only experience you had. To your surprise, Gamzee gave a smile and shook his head.

    “Not necessarily. It’s the reaction your body makes to protect you from the stress of fear.” It sounded like he was reciting something by heart. Something he had thought while figuring out his newfound power back when he got it.  “Freeze, is the most usual reaction it gives. Coming from the “Play dead” reaction small animals use to fool larger ones.” He laughed humourlessly “In this case: us versus Grand Highblood.”

    “But. In the case of fear there are two other options that your instincts can choose to make. It’s all about how you yourself judge the situation and what your mind’s decision on the option with the highest probability of survival.” While speaking he put up two fingers, pointing at them in turn. “The others are Fight and Flight. Neither of them are much better, but much, much more useful than freezing up.”

    “Yeah…” Nepeta closer her eyes, the pupils moving underneath the lids as she was reliving that moment of meeting. She licked her lips before speaking, without any wavering. ”I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even think… I would probably been killed if not Karkat had pulled me away. After that it was like I couldn’t stop running. Was that…?” Gamzee nodded approvingly, confirming his own theory.

    “Right on, sis. Based on your actions your body recalculated, and used the kick to make you flee.” Those who hadn’t followed the full conversation were all ears now, and Kanaya summarized it all with a thoughtful look on her face. Maybe a small smile even hinted on that bright skin.

    “So… if we manage to make a conscious decision of not choosing freeze…?” She said, looking at everyone to see if someone objected on how she had understood the subject. “We might channel the adrenaline to somewhere that might actually help us?”

    “The best would be to make use of flee, since fighting while under influence is just going to make you freeze soon enough. Or get you killed.” Gamzee interrupted, making a more precise explanation without disapproving hers. It was actually more like filling blanks. “But you got it.”

    You saw the sense in what they were speaking about, but couldn’t help but feel doubt. Would it really work?

    You didn’t want to remember, didn’t want to think back on the moments of panic it had brought you. At that time you had been nowhere as near as Nepeta, the poor girl being subject to the direct result of the chucklevoodoo, but the force had still made your head spin. You hadn’t really thought about anything than staying still to not be seen.

    Even when you knew you had to go somewhere where you were safe, it was hard to move in simple fear that it would attract attention to you, instead of your friends. What a coward you were.

    “Not to interrupt the apparently cheerful party going on here, but we’re pretty much done.” Sollux voice surprised you all as he (annoyingly unkindly, familiarly comforting) nudged you to get his place in the circle. You moved with a sigh, before being forced to move further back instead as Feferi beat down on your other side. Mild shuffling occurred as everyone moved to make the circle larger so that even Aradia could join in. There was only minor injury and territory fights, no one was crushed. When everyone had settled down, Sollux continued. “It’ll start it in three nights.”

    “That’s too long.” Gamzee said quietly, wondering just as you all if you had heard wrong. “That not… that’s not until Karkat is going to…” He tried again and all your eyes turned to the Gemini of your group. Sollux looked unusually stone-faced. 

    “It’s on the night of his execution, precisely.” Sollux didn’t really look excited about bringing the news, but it also didn’t seem like he had most of his feelings against the preposition.

    “So we’re just going to WAIT!?” Gamzee’s voice grew something over his usual, but Sollux didn’t even flinch or move his expression.

    “Yes.” Sollux replied, before taking a slow breath. “Walking in beforehand would be like jumping down into a lion’s den, we would lose more than we gain. If we gain anything at all. You have to understand, if we’re going to move in, if all of us are going to move in, it can’t be in such a confined place as the Subjugglators’ lair.” It felt like he had thought this conversation up, expecting exactly what he got, and made up the answer before the questions.

    “We’ve got two provisional groups; the active and the passive.” Aradia continued on the next point on the plan. “Me, Sollux, Gamzee, Vriska and Kanaya will be in the active. We’ll get help from majorly The Ψiioniic and The Disciple.” She looked at the people she had mentioned with a nod. “We’ll talk later about the details.” She now turned to the rest. “The passive consist of Nepeta, Equius, Tavros and Terezi, you will get help from The Dolorosa.” 

    You stared, shocked, and when you spoke (over Terezi’s complaining about why she couldn’t be in the active) you tried to not sound so whiny. “I’m not in.” You stated the fact, and Feferi smiled apologetic.

    “We’re not allowed in, unfortunately.” You could guess why Feferi wasn’t allowed to join, she was your safety-line after all and the reason that you could even plan this far… but the reason you couldn’t join was extremely rude of them. Hey let’s all ignore the Seadweller, there’s no way we can trust him. You crossed your arms in defeat, not pressing the issue but also letting them know you were far from content with it. (Also, you would admit that being left here alone by everyone (save Feferi) was kind of freaking you out).

    “Excuse me,” Tavros waved for your attention, or, rather more probably the attention of the three who actually knew stuff. “What, um, does the split even mean?” 

    “Not much actually, the passive will be joining but in a scouting, back-up kind of way.” Aradia explained in a quick manner, moving on to simplifying it even more. “If we need help you give it.” She stayed quiet for a moment, before finding whatever they had forgot to say. She snapped her fingers as she remembered, letting out a small ‘aha!’ sound.

    “And because the active moves out tomorrow!”

    Chapter Text

    This couldn’t have gone better.

    The looks on both Eridan’s and Terezi’s faces had been enough precious that you had almost hugged Aradia for saying it. Everyone knew that the ‘active-team’ was only another word for the awesome-team! The ones who would actually do something, and ride off as heroes with the princess.

    It was not only you of course, but the others (the adults you didn’t know and didn’t care about) were following either further up or further behind. When the time came for you to approach the city where the thing would happen, you had planned to split up even more. Going in such a big group was suspiciously dangerous, and it would be really bad if someone recognized Aradia before you even had a chance to begin.

    Your shoes kind of looked like something Sollux would wear, in different colours of course, now when the lacing on one of your shoes was white, as they usually were, but the right one was candy-blood red. To those who managed to see it, they would hopefully only shrug it off as some strange sense of fashion you had, and not as a reminder of the rebellion you recently had joined.

    It had been Kanaya’s idea.

    “I spoke with The Dolorosa about this. We don’t know how everyone looks and who we shall trust, so we came up with this.” She pulled out a dozen of red ribbons with varying lengths and size. “We shall all wear these on our right sides, don’t matter where, only make sure that it isn’t too suspicious.” She motioned at her skirt, where the opening of one of her pockets was outlined with a pretty embodiment in the exact same kind of red. It could be hidden with a simple motion of her hand.

    “It’s only temporary; we have to figure out something better later, but for now. Keep this in mind.”

    Aradia carried her red ribbon openly, braided into her hair, as it could be mistaken for her kind of red and not the kind a mutant carried. Sollux’s was probably the best mixed in, as he wore the red at the end on his right sleeve, and a matching blue one on his left. It looked like something he would wear normally.

    Gamzee’s was the only one whose ribbon you could not see openly, unless he was coming at you in a fight. The ribbon was tied around the hilt of the club currently hanging at his right side, hidden beneath his hand.

    Corresponding to his weapon, you carried on of your swords on your left side, trying to look like it was supposed to hang there. You and Gamzee were the only one who had your weapons out openly, the only ones that would be allowed to have your weapons out as Highbloods. Kanaya might have been allowed having a smaller weapon, but a chainsaw? No way. She kept it in lipstick form in her pocket, the same with the embroidery, and protected them both with one of her hands constantly dangling down.

    Nepeta and the Disciple both had their claws hidden inside their gloves and you think you saw Aradia wrap her whip around her waist, under her sweater. For Sollux and The Psiioniic, it was pretty much impossible to hide what they were (and obviously against the law) but it was something they would fix later and once again, they really didn’t hide their powers. 

    “Stop that.” Sollux said in a monotone voice, hinting on a growl as a small rock flew through the air at him. The rock then bounced of like it had hit an invisible wall, dropping down on the ground. The Psiioniic smiled, and already held a new one levitating in the air above his hand.

    “Come on,” He said with a grin, walking backwards in front of you “You need to train, Minimi.” Before the sentence was finished the rock in his hand was gone and coming at Sollux once again with high speed. Just as before Sollux swapped it off, but it didn’t fall down but rather started to move again, taking a wide turn before coming at him again. “Catch it this time!”

    Sollux rolled his eyes, but obviously he did as he was told as they rock stopped moving this time, shaking in the air with two powers ripping at them. In all his concentration to keep the rock still against all the tricks his ancestor pulled, Sollux failed to notice a new rock sailing up from the ground behind him.

    You guessed it would have been nice to notify him about this fact. Honestly though it was kind of fun seeing them play like this, or, it was hilarious seeing the Psiioniic play with Sollux like this. Aradia undoubtedly also noticed this fact, and that was probably the reason she kept quiet about the small fight going on as you walked.

    The rock stopped right before his head, and Sollux snatched it down with his hand throwing it at the ground in what would probably look like a determined motion. It was more like a child being a bad loser after a game they usually won in. In difference the older Gemini seemed to be greater in that sense, as he dropped what would have been the next attack and in that way bowed to Sollux wishes. (Though somehow you didn’t doubt that he would soon return with more to do).

    Honestly you were a little bit jealous.

    It was what you had always wanted to have with Mindfang, every time you dreamed you would meet her. In this time she was only slightly older than you, and not the mentor that you needed. Like the Psiioniic was to Sollux. Just too have someone to show you the ropes, having more experience of both fight and life, would be real fun. In only a few instances the Psiioniic had figured out how Sollux worked and where he needed to push at the details, and was more than willingly (excited, even) about teaching his descendant what he knew. Against his will mostly, and without Sollux realizing it.

    “I like your ancestor!” You admitted when The Psiioniic was out of hearing-range, going back up to talk with The Disciple.

    “Shut. Up.” Sollux probably mistook your genuine respect towards his ancestor with that you thought it was fun how the Psiioniic teased him. (That was all in all true, so he was about fifty percent right). But really, something about how he acted towards his ancestor ticked you off. One should respect their ancestor, especially if they are kind of cool and strong.

    “But it is just me, or doesn’t he like me as much?” You continued on a train of thought, going on the fact that even when you slightly wanted to talk to him, the Psiioniic had yet to even look at you. Gamzee, joining up at your left side with a smile, gave an answer instead. He seemed to be slightly easier to talk to now when you were on the move.

    “You’re a blueblood Vris,” He stated the obvious, before his voice dropped down once again so only you could hear what he said. Barely, anyway. “He was a slave, a tool for those with colours such as us... That’s shit sits pretty deep.” In a way, you almost felt offended.

    Whatever shade you had didn’t matter anymore, what really matter was how much blood you spilled. Or how little blood that spilled from you. In that way you had respected Vantas, no matter how annoying, he had kept his blood hidden his whole life until the game. Also a good point into the game. At least he survived the whole game.

    Distracting yourself from your own thoughts, you dropped behind in pace to Aradia, who walked with her robe (also borrowed from The Dolorosa) held around her body in a make-shift disguise. 

    “So, how was the plan again?” You skipped while next to her, and she looked at you with a small sigh and a just as small smile.

    “You didn’t listen, didn’t you?” She accused, not harshly but simply stating facts. Wrong fact actually, what did she think about you? This was one thing you didn’t want to screw up or being left outside from. You waved your hand in a shushing manner next to her face.

    “You told what all would do: seek information, find places to hide, scout out the place bluhbluhbluh, but what about me?” You pointed at yourself to emphasize. For a moment she was quiet, before taking a breath.

    “I thought I would never say this…” Aradia mumbled, looking really like she didn’t want to continue. Obviously she did it anyway. ”But we need you to take control on as many trolls as you can.” You couldn’t help to feel a minor expression of surprise spread on your face. You would have guessed this was one of those things they should have ordered you not to do. Now Aradia of all people said the opposite, and was quickly to explain herself. “Gamzee, Kanaya and The Disciple will go straight at Karkat. It’s our job to make sure no one gets near them and keep the enemy at bay. At all costs.”

    For a moment you considered her words, and when you found something a toothy smile appeared on your mouth. Suddenly the excitement took another step up the metaphorical stair.  “I’m going up against the Grand Highblood.” The reaction you got was precious, Aradia turning fully to you with a stern expression on her face.

    “Not directly, that would be suicide, but we can at least keep his minions at bay.” You continued glancing at her with insistence, before she shook her head in defeat. “No direct attack and no sacrificing of those manipulated. Your first and only task is to make sure no one touches our friends, and that’s possible with as little damage as can be”

    “You said all cost.” You tried to argue, not because you were planning to use some poor sap against his or her will, but you really needed to know where your limits lay.

    “All necessary costs, not everything you think is fun.” She clarified, going in closer. “And you’re really not helping yourself to prove Sollux’s ancestor that you’re actually such a nice blueblood.” She gave a meaningful look that you avoided with a shrug.

    “I’m not going to backstab, and you know it.” You promised, knowing that she might now take it for granted but it would be enough for now. Hey, it was actually true! “Life wouldn’t be the same without having Karkat trying to boss us all around, right? He might not succeed with his plan to make us have as big bags under his eyes as he had!”

    For that you got a nostalgic laugh from her, the tension dispatching as easily as it had come. 

    “What are you two talking about?” Sollux, the ever so concerned morail finally noticed the small argument you had already solved, looking at you suspiciously, something you answered with a mischievous grin and beat out with your arms, Aradia quickly ducking under as you almost hit her. 

    “How incredible beautiful and gifted I am. Your girlfriend agreed.” You guessed that Sollux rolled his eyes because he stopped looking at you. No doubt he was still listening, and as to spite him your voice sank down into a whisper as you turned back to Aradia with such a genuine smile you could. “I hope there is no hard feeling left between us, Aradia. Soooooooo… how about a truce?”

    You reached a hand out towards her, and smiled when she took it without much hesitation.

    The rest of the trip went mostly quietly, all until the silhouette of the small city where the execution would occur finally appeared at the end of the road. You stopped, joining up with the rest of the adults and then started to split up. Sollux and Aradia were obvious to walk together as morails, while you joined up with Gamzee and Kanaya.

    It would be weird for you to be seen with the Adults, especially the Descendants-Ancestor, pair so you would split up going in to the city. It was serious. If you didn’t manage to find each other again before daybreak, or some group would be suspected (Sollux, Aradia being the ones in biggest danger, with one psionic and one hunted Lowblood) you wouldn’t be able to aid each other easily.

    You all had to stay out of trouble, never getting attention to yourself, before the plan was brought into action. Being calm and quiet, sneaking around in search for information instead of forcing it from some bastard was not your piece of cake, but necessary.

    Looks like you could finally get this thing on a roll. 

    Chapter Text

    You knew you should probably be asleep. Last night had been full of things to do, from twilight to dawn everyone had moved around the city to prepare. It was surprisingly easy to blend in with the other trolls, your eyes spotting and memorizing those carrying the red band of the Signless.

    Gamzee had been your partner, also giving you the job of keeping him quiet while you listened to the rumours spreading around the town. Everyone spoke in hushed tones, not knowing what to think of this little thing the Grand Highblood had set up. So many times you had wanted to step forward to correct them, and just as many had you stopped Gamzee from lashing out. The understanding between you was purely platonic. If one acted out so that the plan could be a failure, the other would stop them at any cost.

    Maybe if Gamzee had actually managed to stay awake (he hadn’t, luckily, he needed to stay sharp and clear tomorrow) he might have stopped you from going out. But you needed to calm your nerves and a walk in the town seemed to work both negative and positive. Anyways, this was the safest time to be out, midday.

    You walked straight out in the sun on the streets, letting the rays warm your skin and body. It was less dangerous to walk like this, in the open rather than in the shadows. If the Highbloods had scouts out, they would be looking in the shades of alleys, not in the middle of the main street.

    If someone would happen to spot you, the sunlit ground might also give them a reason to believe it was just a trick of light. No one would want to walk openly under the burning sun. Especially not without a shielding robe or something. People like you were not normal, so when you saw another shape standing in the sun you felt no reason for fear. The passive team together with the Dolorosa had arrived before dawn after all.

    “You should be asleep, my dear.” The Dolorosa smiled. She had a brighter dress on today, probably just as you knowing the bright light would stop anyone watching. In her hand she had a bag, small things moving inside of it. Your moved your eyes from them in favour of meeting hers.

    “I know, Guardian.” You took to using her name of the rebellion, other than the simple ‘ancestor’ you used sometimes. “I couldn’t sleep.” She took to a moment of thinking, when you instantly believed that she should send you back to the loan-hives where you had stayed for two nights. Instead she smiled.

    “Come with me then.” You walked the empty and sunlit street quickly, in the end coming out to the round marketplace. In the night it should have been buzzing with trolls, but because of the preparation for next night’s show, everyone had been thrown out. The ground was big and shaped as a circle, perfect for the spectacle execution of a mutant-freak. Well, it would be the perfect place for humiliation of the Highbloods if everything went as planned.

    Now. You’re not stupid. Thing could go wrong and then things would turn very, very bad. And this, had the grown-ups apparently accounted for.

    The Dolorosa took a close look around the market-place, before opening the bag in her hand. In it crawled far more than twice the dozen bugs, all of the same kind. She held the bag out and you took a handful of them. They crawled in your hands before curling and settling down loyally. Sollux had briefed you on these things, so you knew they were not dangerous while only holding them in your hand like this. But under special circumstances…

    They were small bugs that would with a certain mental-wavelengths explode; making chemicals from a mushroom mix with the sand, in the end creating a smoke-screen. That was the Psiioniic’s job, to activate them. Apparently it had been the job of the Dolorosa and now indirectly you to place them when no one would see. You bowed down, burying the small bomb at the edge of the scene and started to go counter clockwise around the field. The Dolorosa took the other way around. 

    They would only be used in case of emergency. The smoke would hopefully stop the enemies, but it would blind you just as much as them. If you ever had to activate them, the majority of you wouldn’t get out of the ring. From then on it would be everyone for their own. Hopefully you wouldn’t need to do something that drastic.

    Settling down the last one in the outskirts of the ring, you took one last look on the stage put up for the show. You had done everything you could. Now, all that mattered were your own abilities and achievements tomorrow night. You let yourself be led back, her hand at your shoulder, just as the sky started to darken at the horizon. Night would soon come, and everything with it.

    You couldn’t remember if you actually managed to get some beauty-sleep (funny thing, you wondered if that even mattered with the undead), or not. All too soon the moons had settled into their places in the sky, no clouds to be seen to block out the stars. A perfect night to make a scene of it all.

    One by one, the rebelling trolls started to wake up and join from other ways. Everyone prepared in mostly rigid silence, fixing weapons, hiding weapons, going through the plan once more. The tension was obvious, and not many felt up to some kind of try to liven up the situation. You sat together with Vriska, the Scorpio doing some kind of meditation and getting ready in her mind.

    You didn’t know how strong her powers would be against adults, or how high she could go in the hemospectrum. You doubted she even knew herself, and you buried that small twinge of old-pale feelings waking up. Everyone was nervous. You neither had time nor energy to worry about Vriska overestimating herself. 

    Only a small group of grown-ups would join you in the first act, the active part. At first you had been concerned about this setup, before tentatively coming to terms that it would be for the best. With fewer people you would be able to act faster, stealthier even out in the straight open. Your best chance lay in taking them by surprise.

    The most important thing would also be the getaway; the fact of getting in the ‘show’ wasn’t hard, but rather coming out just screamed trouble. From the passives’ standpoint they could help you without directly getting involved. Once again, fewer trolls in meant fewer trolls out.

    Even as some still held grumbling about this (mostly from your group, those who weren’t allowed to come in before the second act) the majority accepted it. Surprisingly the minority of the adults, who actually spoke up, wasn’t against you or something. 

    “Guardian! I want to follow the children out!” A rustblood woman stepped forward. “I want to fight for The Descendant.” But the Dolorosa shook her head.

    “Please, stay and help me protect the ones here.” She put her hands on the shoulders of the woman, catching her eyes. “I trust you in this, and hope you can trust the children.”  

    “…yes ma’am.” The rust bowed down, and for the first time you realized that she had wanted to go out on a high-risk job, only to protect you. To help the descendants of her leaders. For the first time you realized that this was actually happening and everything depended on your individual actions.

    It was time.

    Slowly everyone started to settle out at random, and when the time came for you and Gamzee to leave, the make-shift gathering place you had was almost empty. Instead the market-place was once again filled with motion and life. And soon to be death.

    The smell of blood was terrible, in that matter that you knew who it came from. You had to stop, leaning against a wall. It was both to calm the nauseating feeling of death, and also to block the urges of a drinker. Gamzee looked at you, as if wondering if you could actually handle this, when both of you knew that if anyone should be a problem it would be him. The bloodlust in your veins only strengthened you after you got the hang of it.

    Not that it mattered as you actually rounded that last corner and saw.

    In a moment you lipstick was in your hand, digging into your palm when you clenched your fists. Your breath hitched as you fought to keep your expression neutral, and not to run forward screaming and ruining everything.

    Karkat hung from chains locked around his wrists, chest bare from the thick sweater he usually wore. Your teeth clenched and a growl threatened to fight its way up your throat. It was to show off his wounds, the scabbed over red scars all over him. His limbs showed hints of having been broken and then put together, miscoloured patches even possible to see through the grey (pale, too pale) skin.

    It was a miracle he hadn’t passed out yet.

    Or maybe, you glanced at the Grand Highblood trying to keep the hate out of your eyes; it wasn’t a miracle more than experience. For being known to torture and kill, The Highblood probably knew many ways of keeping the subject alive and well for sweeps.  It made you sick. And probably not only you.

    You grabbed Gamzee’s arm out of instinct, a good choice when he flinched at your touch. Your claws sunk down into his arm, the comfort not being one of a morail but a direct warning to him to stay still and keep himself together. He was shaking, his whole body trembling ironically like a drug-addict without his drugs.

    You shook your head when he looked at your, eyes glazed over and gaining a red tint you had only seen once. Only for a minute Gamzee, please be still, just one more minute. They are all waiting for our sign. The Psiioniic and Sollux had settled in the crowd, one on each side. Aradia should be further away in the thickest parts, hiding from watchful eyes.  Vriska had placed herself as near as the centre as possible, gaining reach to all necessary targets she had in mind. The passive should be stationed in the different hives and shops around the place, only joining in as full battle broke out or if you landed into trouble.

    All there was left was for you and Gamzee to take your places.

    You pushed yourself through the crowd, Gamzee at your side to get as good view as possible.  The Disciple gave you a quick nod as you passed her, showing no such thing like you knew each other as you continued forward. Not all the way to the front, but enough that once it mattered you could spring forward.

    You found the right spot, as the adults and young adults who stood around you were all lowbloods ranging from Aradia to Tavros. Just as you had planned, they looked forward without even noticing the pushing you and Gamzee did to land in their middle. Only two had red bonds.

    The others didn’t see you, Vriska made sure of that. She could not control them in the same matter as she had done to Tavros, but she could make suggestions in their head. “Don’t look that way.” “Don’t care about them” “Stand still”, everything to make sure you wouldn’t be discovered in beforehand.

    How much longer would you have to wait? It was hard to simply look forward; trying to look as normal and ignorant at one of your closest friends was hurting in this very moment, right before your eyes. Fortunately, you didn’t have to wait long, as the whispers flew through the crowd a moment before you saw him.

    The Executor was here. And for a moment you forgot what you were doing as you in less than a second recognized the sign and colour. That had to be Equius ancestor. Hopefully he wouldn’t get in your way, as the Disciple would take care of him. What an awful sense of humour the universe sprouted. Equius and Nepeta should be watching from any of the hives around the scene. What would they think about it?

    The buzz from the audience started to die down, most trolls probably only wanting to go home but none wanting to stand out before the Grand Highblood. It was time for you to begin. You took a breath, stealing a glance at Gamzee, who gave a pressed smile back at you, before your lipstick flashed in your hand.

    With a pull at the string, your chainsaw roared to life. 

    ----------------------

    You were crying, forest-green tears running faster down your cheeks. You struggled, kicked and trashed even when it did nothing and you couldn’t pull your eyes away from where Equius, your morail and also the kind rustblood woman were lying. They were unmoving but breathing. This wasn't supposed to happen. You wanted to get to the window if only to shout the warning to your friends, cry at them to stop, run away. But you couldn't

    "Shhh, little kitty." The Subjugglator behind you laughed, hand over your mouth, to muffle your screams. "Don't ruin the show."

    Chapter Text

    The roar of Kanaya’s chainsaw was the signal and in the blink of an eye the Psiioniic began, shattering the crowd around him. It wasn’t a matter of being stealthy from now on, so you copied his movements, distracting the ones around you with a burst of energy. Before they could gather, realizing what was happening, you shot up in the air, deflecting the attacks shot out towards you with the same ease as the Psiioniic had made you train. It was useful, more than you would ever admit. It went automatically.

    You applied the same technique to the bodies of the enemies, throwing them (literally) off a beat before quickly letting them go and continuing to the next. This way you confused your enemies, enough for your allies to take care of them.

    But it was hard, harder than you had expected. You clenched your teeth, fighting with eyes flickering over the field as the scene unfolded. Tension morphed into chaos. And chaos you would keep. It wouldn’t be that easy to keep the Highbloods from enforcing quietness and law again. Depending on who would be joining, you were either outnumbered, or very much outnumbered. Already you had to do your best just too keep most from reaching your friends. Keeping track on those with red bonds was also something you had to take into consideration, since it was honestly hard to do from up above.

    It was okay, you forced yourself to believe as you threw away one coming at Aradia. You could do this. If only you and The Psiioniic could hold a way open it was still a way out even if everything went wrong. Unfortunately the enemies had also gathered this, and between you and your ancestor, you were the weakest link.

    At least half of the focus you should be putting to a better use, was concentrated around yourself. Various weapons were still coming at you, once in a while even forcing you to make a bomb explode before it reached where it could hurt. The best was when you could shoot them back, but that took way too much time. Other than that, it was only a few times that you had to avoid physically. The times you failed to do that the Psiioniic had your back before you even knew it.

    Now you were the one who was supposed to hold the back of your friends fighting their way to Karkat. You smirked. Not that they couldn’t handle it on their own.

    Not many had ever faced a rainbow-drinker with a heavy chainsaw in her fair hand. She went straight forward, meeting the foes that dared to step in front of her with the sharp teeth of her weapon. Without any mercy. In that way you guessed Gamzee did less of a bloody damage than Kanaya.

    He escaped the attacks by using his agility to the fullest, jumping and almost sliding around the bodies before knocking down the ones still in his way with a force displaying his wrath. He didn’t go into a full murder spree as before, but that was probably only because right now you all had a common goal.

    A goal that for once didn’t seemed to be doomed in all places and forms. As The Disciple took care of the Executor, Kanaya and Gamzee had a free way the last few meters. But Karkat hung high up, and to release him they would have to get Kanaya above him to introduce her chainsaw to his chains. You shot a glance towards the Psiioniic, who looked completely concentrated at the crowd below as he spoke.

    “Go help them; I can keep it up here.” He smiled, not looking your way but instead increasing his range of power. He was pressuring himself. You could see it in how his facial-expression tensed into a smaller smile, the way you had seen yourself do in the mirror while testing the limits of your powers. This though, was no place to say something like ‘don’t push yourself.’ No matter how strong, he wouldn’t be able to keep up long without you reliving him of some duty, so all you could do to help him was to be as fast as possible. You dove down as far as you dared, still trying to keep out of range from attacks. Always ready. Always concentrating.

    With a push you sent Kanaya up in the air. It only took her a glance your way and a moment to stabilize herself, landing with one foot on the cuffs and the rest kept up by you. You couldn’t hear it, but Karkat appeared to be saying something (not screaming, you noted, worriedly), probably being stupidly heroic and whiny or calling you all grubmunching idiots. Most likely a mix of those two, along with a lot of cursing.

    And just as thought the two of them who actually heard his words ignored them fully without question as Kanaya braced herself with the chainsaw against the right one of the chains. You didn’t let yourself worry that it wouldn’t work, only keeping one hand concentrated on her and the other on making your little bubble safe from enemies

    The chain snapped, and you mixed your powers to keep Karkat straight as she got to work on the other one. It cracked. When Karkat fell you were prepared, dropping your hold on Kanaya and letting her jump down and catch herself with her own control. She instantly moved to take care of those who had got too close, hopefully surprising them with how easy she slung the big weapon around now when she didn’t have anyone to watch out for.

    You could keep all concentration on Karkat, letting him down slowly into Gamzee’s waiting arms. Watching as Gamzee shifted Karkat, holding him tight, you were able to let go of his body completely. Naturally Gamzee did a small dip at the extra weight, but soon stabilized. The mental checklist in your brain crossed one thing out. First stage, complete. Gamzee nodded at you once, a thank you, and a ‘shouldn’t you be doing something else right now?’

    You shot up into the sky again, joining up with the Psiioniic with fighting from afar. Back in the air the first thing you did was to locate the other ones in your group, or rather, your morail.

    Vriska and Aradia stood back to back, fighting. The dance they did was staggering, movements not meant to melt into each other clashing, but you wouldn’t worry. They fought knowing that the other would take no concern to a mishap, and that way they could work faster, knowing each other’s every step and without having to worry about hitting the other.

    It was a deep kind of trust.

    The Grand Highblood had yet to move. That was something nagging at the back of your brain as you ransacked every reason to why. You were missing something. It was like you were running out of time, fast, and your brain surged on high speed to find the reason of your stress. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. It felt bad. Something you were missing. It clicked.

    They weren’t going at their full strength. They were holding it out, like waiting for something and that really didn’t feel good. Were they trying to tire you out? Slowly bring you down one by one? Whatever they were planning, it was working. Kanaya was already surrounded, skirt flying as she spun trying to keep her opponents at bay. Sure they couldn’t get close, but all she had to do was making one mistake in footing, and it would be over.

    Gamzee stood still, eyes flickering over the scene and clutching Karkat tightly to his chest. In one hand he held his club in a warning towards those around them, but it was obvious that he wouldn’t be able to use it. So why was no one attacking them? Not that you wanted it, but the warning signals in your head chimed almost as loud as the soon to be dead used to do.

    Your eyes shot back to the Grand Highblood, and you flinched. He was looking at you, or maybe mostly the Psiioniic, but it still felt… chilling. Feeling the slight tingling of unnatural fear, the kind making your breath stop, the kind Gamzee had taught you how to recognize, you moved back quickly. You had no idea where his range of power lay but it was better to be safe than sorry. If he caught you, everyone would be dead, no reason to hide it.

    But he wasn’t going for you. Instead he said something to an indigo next to him, and the grin that one gave before nodding and running off, didn’t really help paranoia surging your mind. You thought about following the Indigo, not that he wouldn’t know, but to find out only a little slice of their plan before it set into motion.

    Before you could do anything the Grand Highblood did. If the fight had dropped in intensity he was quick to reciprocate it, grabbing the huge club next to him, and swung it once in the air to the happy shrieks of glee from his followers. A signal for something, that wasn’t hard to understand.

    He was going for Gamzee and Karkat.

    You didn’t know what to do. You moved from your spot, closer to the ground again, before stopping. What were you doing? Even if you wanted to place yourself between the Grand Highblood and your friends, you honestly would do much better work by staying at your designed spot. Even going down this low was dangerous, since it gave your enemies a chance to attack you. And attack they did. Your thoughts were interrupted as you felt something land on your arm. It was a long, black larva of a species you hadn’t seen before. You couldn’t lose concentration at your friends, but it was started to tick you off as it didn’t fall when you shook.

    It crawled up your arms, and you pushed at it, annoyed. In response to your treatment, it buried its tiny skittering legs into your arm. It stung and you gritted your teeth, wrapping your fingers around its long black body. It didn’t budge. Instead the parts that you couldn’t hold continued to extend and it continued up your shoulder. With the larva, you had started to lose concentration on the scene around.

    “Sollux!!” The Psiioniic used your name, not Minimi, descendant or whatever he got up with at the moment. For the first time, ever since you met him, his expression was something very close to horrified. In the second that it threw you off, the grub managed to break free and wind its way around your neck. He hadn’t screamed to make sure you concentrated on the fight. He had screamed because of your safety.

    The larva clicked closed, and too late you realized that it had formed a collar around your throat. Too late as the legs became sharper than ever and stung down into your skin, a burning feeling circling through your neck. In panic you dropped your hands to your neck, and clutched them around the collar, trying to rip it off you. It hurt. It hurt and felt like fire and godfuckingdamnit you couldn’t get it off. You started to summon your powers on yourself, making them grab the parts you couldn’t reach. Turns out that was not a good move.

    Everything exploded in a flash of extreme pain, like someone was trying to burn you inside out, like someone had turned your powers blasting on inside you. Like the effect of mind-honey, only you couldn’t get it out. It would burst. It would burst out if you couldn’t… It just kept growing!

    The choked screaming was the only thing you could get out, and that did nothing to cease the pain or relieve the pressure.

    Somewhere in your pain-addled mind, a piece of information appeared, something you had read long ago only to quash the fact far back in your head. Not things you wanted to think about. Psychic limiters. Used to control rogue psychics, (alternatively killing them) by blocking the blood borne powers with poison until they just stopped working.

    Short-circuited.

    And then you were falling, having barely smacked down in the ground before someone was on you and pushing you down harshly. They had no reason to, you couldn’t struggle with the minor strength you had against the adult, and the pain continued to mess up your thoughts. They clasped something around your wrist, another limiter that sprouted even more poison into your body and the last sparks of your powers died out.

    Even so, you felt something sharp get placed against your neck. Not that you could do anything anyway, and that was exactly what they knew. They were not threatening you but using you for their own protection, against the other Gemini, the Psiioniic. Against your ancestor. With the knife against your neck you had just become one a hell of a hostage.

    Through the pain still burning in your veins (would that ever stop? probably not until your body completely gave up producing psychic powers, until you died) you saw the crackling of red and blue in the air around you. The Psiioniic was far away, enough to not be caught as easily as you did, but his whole body directed anger at your captors. They didn’t waver.

    “Know your place, slave.” A blueblood hissed, a challenge. Your ancestor looked ready to snap his neck with his own hands, sparks flying around his eyes and his hands shaking. If he attacked, you would be killed, that much was obvious. But it shouldn’t matter. He was you; he should know what was best for your friends. He should have already calculated that your chances were as much as non-existent.

    The Psiioniic took one last look at you, at the chaos around. Sparks shone and ruffled your hair, before they faded away one after another, and the night turned a little bit darker. Still glaring at you captors, the Psiioniic growled, but dropped his hands. He was giving up, and for the first time you realized.

    It was over.

    Chapter Text

    Those stupid, fucking, senseless, irrational, dumbass, grubsucking, nookswiffing GODDAMN IDIOTS!

    What were they even thinking with? Didn’t they know? They should have realized how small chance they had for this operation, that they would be better off letting you die like the failure you were. 

    You refused to acknowledge that small jump your heart had made, how a flame of hope burned slightly hotter under your skin as you watched them. Kanaya’s determination, Sollux resolve and of course Gamzee, your morail and the one who currently holding you tightly. You had known they would fail, but still, but still you hadn’t managed to quash that small hope that they would actually come.

    Well fuck you and your wishing. What was that saying? Be careful what you wish for and whatever.

    And now you would all die, because you were stupid enough to get captured and they were stupid enough to fall for the bait and try to rescue you. Sollux had been taken down, his ancestor still free but not being able to do anything. Kanaya fought well, but in the end she couldn’t keep up against the sheer numbers and was taken down. When it came to raw strength she had nothing. You now also saw Aradia and Vriska get dragged to the front, Aradia still struggling and screaming trying to get to Sollux.

    And they were not the only ones.

    With only a sign from The Grand Highblood, the crowd split and you felt your heart sink as Subjugglators shoved the rest of your friends down with the others. (Everyone but Feferi and Eridan, you couldn’t fail but notice. Everything you had gone through until now should have taught you not to hope, but seeing them missing made you wish that they hadn’t been caught).

    The Grand Highblood was gathering them around, forcing them to watch your execution. Well, watch was a bad word. You wondered how much Terezi was able to smell, since her sightless eyes were directed straight at you with a determined expression on her face. Probably it wasn’t hard to smell the blood. None of them seemed dangerously hurt, all so that they could be conscious.

    Cruel, too cruel.

    Finally, and it really felt that way, the Grand Highblood turned to the only ones left; you and Gamzee. It wasn’t as if you were in any condition to fight, and Gamzee would have no way of either escaping or protecting while holding you. At least he realized this before you gave him the suggestion.

    “Can you stand?” Gamzee whispered, voice muffled through your hair.

    No. No you couldn’t. You didn’t have the strength to. That was what you wanted to answer, not sure if your legs would carry you even after being ripped apart and then patched up, the pain subdued by drugs. Maybe it would work if only you held onto Gamzee. So you nodded, and after a moment of hesitation Gamzee let you down.  

    You tried your feet at the ground, watching if your legs would bend directly under your weight but it seemed to work. At least for a little while, and that was probably all you needed (whichever end you met). Gamzee blocked the way between you and the Grand Highblood. He extended the hand holding his club out by his side in a defensive matter. A mark that he would not let The Grand Highblood get close.

    A clear marking, but that was all it was. Not that you didn’t know your morail, but rather that you knew him too well you knew that he wouldn’t have the slightest stain of chance against his ancestor. And the Grand Highblood had noticed to.

    “My descendant. Now THIS IS WHAT I CALL INTERESTING.” He tilted his head, looking over your morail like someone would watch an object, a weapon and you were filled with a desire to step in front of him. You didn’t. You were too afraid that if you took a step, you would fall and it wasn’t like you would have any better chance against him. These days you had learned that much. The Grand Highblood continued without bother. “So you’re Gamzee.”

    Barely noticeable Gamzee tensed at the sound of his own name.

    “How do you know my name?” Gamzee hissed out, the words loud enough to be heard over the whole scene. As if The Grand Highblood had waited for that answer, his grin turned foul. He spoke the next sentence with a breath that told you this was another thing he thought was hilarious.

    “You start to wonder who it is he is SCREAMING AFTER HELP for, after hearing it, over AND OVER an over again.” The reaction was instantaneous.

    “shut the FUCK UP!” Gamzee screamed. The Grand Highblood was provoking him; that much was obvious. (Even though it was most likely true you did, there were blanks in your memory. Who knew what you might have told them during those times?) And Gamzee picked it right up, club suddenly swirling from defence to attack and he placed himself ready to move.

    “Gamzee!” You reached out to stop him from moving, from attacking in pure rage. The motion made you wince, something that at least helped your original purpose as Gamzee really stopped after hearing your pained noise. His shoulders were tense, and heaving in badly contained anger. Without thinking of the audience around you, you finished reaching out. You couldn’t hug him, with the cuffs still holding your wrists together. Instead you leaned against him, gripping the back of his shirt with bloody hands. “Shhh…” You whispered, only to him. “Don’t lose your head, stupid.” 

    He relaxed against you, not enough to not be on his toes, but no longer ready to mindless attack at the slightest sign of mocking. This display was obviously not something the Grand Highblood deemed as funny. He shouted out an order, no doubt to his minions and in the next moment someone ripped Gamzee away from you. Your morail fought, but the adults had already gained a grip strong enough to keep him from hurting.

    A strange emptiness and horror that Gamzee had kept away appeared again. The moment you tried to move, the horror grew into fear. You froze before you first step, froze while watching your morail get dragged away further and further. The Grand Highblood held you still as you fought with both body and mind against the instinct of curling together at the ground or run after him. Just as quick as it came, it was gone. The change in pressure almost made you lose balance.

    Now it was only you, and the Grand Highblood left in the middle of the circle.

    “Why don’t you just kill me?” The words didn’t appear with a hiss or a growl as you had hoped, but at least you were able to keep your voice from breaking. The Grand Highblood grinned, hand moving around the hilt of his club. Probably, he was wondering the same thing. He was holding himself back, drawing the inevitable out as long as he could. It made you disgusted by how much he enjoyed this.

    “Oh don’t worry, I will, I’M GONNA KILL YOU, LITTLE FREAK.” The way he put it in words, made nothing to make you feel better. It only made a chill pass down your spine, a fear you thought you could handle after everything he had put you through. Apparently this was something you would never get used to. (Don’t matter, smartass, you are going to die). “But we couldn’t do it without the right audience.”

    With that he looked back at the ones he had gathered around you. Some of your friends were still struggling. Nepeta was screaming your name, some of Kanaya’s captors had marks from her claws, Tavros and Vriska looked like they’d got too many hits to their heads (had they figured they had mind-powers, or had you told them?), and Gamzee, Gamzee was still trashing helplessly. His chucklevoodoo meant nothing against The Grand Highblood’s.

    “You’re a funny thing. LOOK AT ALL THESE SMALL MOTHERFUCKERS. In difference to you, they can still be useful to the empire. COULD TURN OUT REAL WELL.” You gritted your teeth, angry at what he was proposing. Useful yeah right, but not as trolls but rather as tools and slaves. You couldn’t imagine what would happen to them. “Or I could kill them one by one. All up to you.”

    “What do you want me to do?” You clenched your fists, not caring if at wound on your hand broke again, glaring up at him.

    “Kneel.” The Grand Highblood said, and then continued as to clarify. “I want you to KNEEL BEFORE ME.”

    “What.” The request was ridiculous. How many times during these days had you lain by his feet? The question in your eyes showed, because the Grand Highblood switched his club to the other hand. Growing impatient. But his grin didn’t drop.

    “I want you to do it, BY YOUR OWN MOTHERFUCKING WILL.” Like hell it would be your will, but you knew what he meant. With only a slight push of the chucklevoodoos, or by his club he would have you down in an instance. But this, this was no demonstration of physical strength; no he had already showed that.

    Psychological warfare was what it was. He was making you kneel, forcing you to surrender only to kill the moral of those watching. And you had no choice. Gamzee had stopped screaming, staring at you with wide eyes showing emotion you wished you could quiet. What would happen to him after you died? You didn’t know, didn’t want to know. Only hoped he would continue living. Only hoped the Grand Highblood wouldn’t take him in and turn into some kind of monster.

    In a way you felt thankful, that you wouldn’t see that happen.

    You did feel the screeching pain flowing up your legs as they gave after. The clash of your knees hitting the ground was almost easier to bear. Your heart was quickening as you leaned down on your heels, the beats urging your body to get up, run away. You looked at the Grand Highblood, trying to not show fear in the last minutes (seconds, moments) of your life. Your hands that until now had hung slack in the cuffs till around your wrists moved, and you flipped him two birds in a last act of defiance.

    Something like this would normally earn you a beating to hell and back, but now the Grand Highblood only smiled.

    (You didn’t remember everything from your imprisonment, memories showed back into your subconscious, but you could remember a want of death so strong it almost toppled you over, wishing, screaming, begging for them to kill you).

    You closed your eyes, waiting for the final drop that would end your pitiful life.

    Then opened them immediately as a flash of light illuminated the night just as it began.

    And then a strong wind pushed you aside far from gently, and a loud sound of metal hitting metal was sounded, and then the club smashed down next to you. Next to you, not on you. And you looked up. Anyone would be shocked seeing a pink alien stand in front of the Grand Highblood. For you it was surprising more with the reason that you knew the alien, and what the fuck was he doing here.

    “What the fuck, John!” You couldn’t help but exclaim at the Heir of Breath as he landed on the ground. The hammer in his hand was missing an edge, and a crack ran through the whole Warhammer of Zillyhoo. John looked at it with a slightly concerned look, and looking back you realized he had actually tried to meet the strength of the club of the Grand Highblood. Not that it had worked.

    “Okay not doing that again.” You heard him murmur while observing the damage, before the Hammer disappeared into thin air. He turned to you with a smile telling of no worry, and a cheerful greeting of: “Hi Karkat!”

    The only reason neither of you had been killed was that the Highbloods were all still with surprise. That moment of astonishment was all you needed as another flash sounded in the edge of the crowd. Rose appeared right next to Sollux. She took good care of the shock that made everyone freeze to free Sollux from his captors and his bonds. The wand was placed against the collar of his neck, and with a spark a boost of something crackled through the parts of its carapace.

    The larva fell dead down, fried by the different power.

    You were still watching her take care of his other cuff, when you realized something much larger was crackling in the air. There was a reason that the adults who had kept Sollux hostage didn’t rise from where they lay. Their necks were already snapped, heads turned by an invisible force you knew directly where it had come from.

    Sollux’s ancestor looked like a nightmare, lights flashing around his body and eyes and no one would make a mistake and think he was angry. He was furious, and nothing would stop him. Not that he Highbloods didn’t try. They moved to attack and subdue him, none coming near as he had no reason to hold back now when his descendant was free from harm.

    The escape triggered something in the surroundings, and the noise of fighting rose. The chaos from before began again, maybe even worse this time around. This was not to the liking of the Grand Highblood and his expression had turned to something of pure rage. Directed at you. Like you were the one to blame for this tumult. (In a way, you guessed that was right, in another you couldn’t really understand that).

    Rose was whispering something to Sollux.

    He nodded and then, for reasons you couldn’t understand, pushed his fingers down the ground. Small blue and red lines of psionic power grew stronger and pulsed down into earth. Then everything around you exploded in a cloud of dust. You spluttered as the sand entered your mouth and eyes, before a wind blew it all away. John moved his hand as he cleared the air around you, only around you, hid you from the others. (Most importantly the Grand Highblood).

    John moved his hands again, making the bubble reaching out towards where you last had seen Rose and Sollux. They came running the moment the sand made a clear way over. You felt the rippling of Sollux’s powers prickle around your body as he helped you rise, as Rose stood next to John, a slight light radiating from her as she pointed right and left, waved and spoke. Rose was instructing him, making the air around your friends free from sand and dust while your enemies get twofold.

    What made you surprised was how they even removed the sand from a couple of adults. Adults who after only a moment came to the help of your friends who had yet to shake off their captors. It took another moment for you to comprehend what this meant. They had allies within the adults. You could see a reason with Sollux ancestor (and Nepeta’s. That cat-like adult could be no one else) but what about everyone else?

    What the fuck had been going on while you had been in the hands of The Highblood.

    In a rush of sand-filled wind Gamzee was freed, his captors temporarily blinded and he joined the group (better wording, crowd) gathering around you. You counted to all of your friends (also noticing Kanaya together with an older mirror-version of herself. Seriously what the fuck?).

    Gamzee’s arms enclosed you quickly. You were sure you felt the wetness of his tears down into your hair as he mumbled your name over and over again. Your body filled up with relief. The small once-again-reunion didn’t last as John joined up in the sky with Sollux’s ancestor. He waved as to get everyone’s attention. Like he hadn’t had it the moment they appeared. 

    “Okay everyone! Time to leave!” He yelled before summoning breath in his hands and then, once again at the call of the Seer, blew a way out.

    You wanted to run with the others, but honestly that would slow them down more than it would help and so you didn’t fight as Gamzee scooped you up once again (Sollux helping, if you judged the light crackling feeling around you right). The older Gemini went last, beating his arms out and then quickly pulling them back in.

    The hives around your escape route collapsed, blocking the way for your pursuers.

    Not long after, Sollux ancestor came down to you and Gamzee and reached his hand out. “Hey, Indigo! Let me take him.” He called out, voice freakishly like Sollux’s.

    Gamzee seemed like he didn’t want to let go, but Sollux seemed to trust his ancestor though. With their help you switched carrier, watching as Gamzee was able to pick up his speed, all the while looking up at you. Even though you’d rather want to be with your morail, that was more mentally pleasant. This was better for your body. The Gemini could hold you steady, not disturbing any of your wounds more than necessarily.

    It hurt. It hurt really much and… you were alive. You didn’t know when you started crying, but tears of whatever (pain, relief, happiness and well a small bit of after laying fear) were running down your cheeks. If Sollux ancestor noticed he didn’t say anything, and you hoped he wouldn’t later, (unfortunately he was still Sollux and you wondered how long he could keep that a secret) but by now your whole body was shaking. It hurt so much, but…

    You were alive. 

    And hell that was good enough for you.      

    Chapter Text

    ....

    ....

    “Touchdown!!” The yell of the Witch of Space resounds in the empty area around them. She has both her hands linked to the ones of the Knight of Time, and the power between nestles and knots restlessly.

    “Don’t get me wrong Jade, I love you, but it’s hard enough to keep concentration without your yapping. Wouldn’t want them soaring out into Paradox-space, now would we?”

    Neither of them sees you; neither of them is even aware of your existence. The third being in the space has the same ignorance about your presence.

    “You done talking?” That one says, and the Knight of Time smirks at him without looking, answering with an identical voice.

    “You done for some soaring through Paradox-space?”

    The wings of the other Knight of Time, the protector of a long lost timeline, flutters as he smirks back. “My body is ready.”

    In a flash of white and green and red, he is gone.

    A moment after you follow.

    ....

    ....

    Chapter Text

    The way back went without any further incidents, more than Sollux suddenly collapsing. The only thing that kept everyone calm was how the Psiioniic took this in stride, smiling as he admitted he was only waiting for Sollux to relax.  The poison had pushed him to the edge and forcing himself further would eventually lead to him collapsing.

    Now it was only to wait for the last drops to disappear from his blood-stream, before he could start using his powers without danger. (You were ashamed you knew what it had been, if only while searching useful information for your own robot-buildings. It had mostly been comparisons between the newer technology and the older, less efficient ways of controlling Lowblood psychics.)

    Aradia obviously wanted to be a good morail, wanting to carry him. But she was no longer a robot or even God-tier. She had also been hurt in the fight, and was in no condition to put more pressure on herself, as you told her yourself Not to be rude, but concerned. So in the end, you as the STRONGEST were the one to carry him on your back, Nepeta only having to give you minor convincing before you accepted, only wanting to get her back into safety as soon as possible.

    The moment you arrived, Feferi, Eridan, the Signless and many of the surrounding adults came out to meet you. Seeing you all, the two Seadwellers broke from the small crowd to run forward. You were relieved to see they were both unscathed. “Oh my cod!” Feferi exclaimed at the exact same time as Eridan let out a loud. ”Kar!”

    He didn’t answer them. Karkat had joined Sollux in falling asleep, sometime when your attention had been somewhere else.

    You probably wouldn’t even notice that he was passed down to his morail once again, unless the Psiioniic had taken Sollux from you. Gently, Gamzee nudged Karkat, who gave a small groan of discomfort, shifting before wincing at the bad movement. Gamzee only smiled, softly and so pale it almost made you flush blue.

    “Hey, time to wake up, best friend.” This finally made the red-blood open his eyes. Karkat flinched, before breathing out slowly and then turned his eyes to the crowd around him.

    Nepeta giggled beside you at the surprised stare he had, forgetting the usual scowl. Maybe if you had been less of a stoic person or maybe if you all hadn’t been close to dying or worse, you also would have pulled at your lips. Now you only watched as the Signless pushed himself forward through his followers.

    He stopped in front of Karkat, and for a moment they both had equally confused looks, before The Signless’s expression shifted to a relived smile. Karkat still had his jaw open in a drop, almost making you want to remind him of that and save some of his dignity. His response wasn’t the most intelligent either, but for once you wouldn’t hold it against him.

    “Wha…” He choked out, whatever train of thought or future rambling he’d had a moment before disappearing into nothing. His ancestor began.

    “Hello Karkat,” The Signless said, the name of his descendant rolling off his tongue like a stranger’s. A stranger he didn’t mind getting to know. The smile was soft even as he looked like he didn’t know whenever to hug the smaller Cancer or keep his distance. He settled on standing awkwardly in front of him. “Your friends have spoken very warmly of you.”

    “What the fuck!” Karkat continued his former sentence, looking from his ancestor to your friends and then back again. It was interesting to watch as he looked The Signless over once more, almost not believing his eyes. He probably barely went up to the Signless’s chest, but the resemblance was something that even Terezi could smell.

    “This is the Signless.” Gamzee took the role of explaining, motioning to the older Cancer. “Leader of the first rebellion against The Empire, and your ancestor.” As if he didn’t believe him, Karkat reached forward and grabbed the cloth of The Signless’s cloak before realizing what he was doing and his hand dropped down.

    To save them both from the slightly embarrassing situation, the Signless gave a quiet promise for talking later, before stepping around both Karkat and his morail to the two humans standing by the side. Waiting silently to be addressed.

    “And it seems we have more guests…?” The Signless looked at the humans, up and down, his voice hesitant but not threatening. While none had had time to bother about them while you escaped (The Seer sometimes signalling where you should go), now they all took time to stare at the strangers with eyes glazed over by both curiosity and caution. John met this with a wide smile.

    “We’re aliens!” The Heir of Breath exclaimed, drawing most disbelieving and distrusting stares, mixed with the ones of you who saw that as obvious. It was no problem to see where the distrust came from, though. While you had never been as close to the humans as many others in your group, you still knew pretty much about them, but comparing their forms with yours it wouldn’t be a unbelievable belief that they were mutants.

    “We’re from a race called humans,” The Seer began, motioning to herself first and then to her friend. “I’m Rose Lalonde and this is John Egbert. I would say nice to meet you, but considering the circumstances…” She trailed off, the small smile falling as she her eyes swept over your mutual friends. “…I’m only sorry we weren’t able to arrive earlier. We come with neither intention to harm or hurt, but I’ll understand if you cannot trust us.”

    “Yeah, why should we?” One of the trolls agreed with her, but even they seemed uncertain with how to act towards aliens, towards gods (though of course they didn’t know that).

    “Well, they saved us.” The Disciple helped, still her voice holding the same doubt as everyone else’s. It was like she was trying to convince herself too. (You trusted your morail to handle that part if she got the chance) “Really, they did.”

    With a slight thoughtful look, which morphed into determination, Rose pulled out her thorns from thin air. In the corner of your eyes you didn’t miss how some of the adults shrugged back, before she put the edge against her wrist. With a slight movement she drew a fine line through her skin and red, mutant blood dripped through. Once again it was nothing you were majorly disturbed about, other than Kanaya fussing over the wound, but it was something that made the adults shrug back.

    Rose pulled John’s hand, and pricked his finger quickly and precise, ignoring the small whine of “ow!”, red dripping out from his wound.

    “This is not much, but it should be used to prove something. We do not have the hemospectrum in our world, since we all have the same blood.” She said, and somehow you could see some of the adults involuntary relax at the sight of mutant-coloured-blood.

    She had proved she was not a Highblood, in a way, and that she was, from your point of view, a freak. Strange how that was a good thing. But while they may not base it the same, surely they had to have a resembling hierarchy. It was obvious Rose was some kind of Highblood, John maybe somewhere slight below her, but as Nepeta threaded her fingers in yours you decided to discard those thought to a later event.

    Or never to be thought again.

    Maybe if it had been back when you first had arrived, they would have been met with the same suspicion all you from the higher classes got. Now when the humans had the slight trust of the Disciple, and were the only reason that you all came back they were temporarily accepted. At least not in direct danger. If only until the situation settled down.

    Almost without you noticing The Signless slipped away with Gamzee and Karkat, the only thing alerting was the way Nepeta stopped for a moment before continuing to follow the stream inside. Her hand switched from clutching yours to hold around your arm. One of her claws was broken, probably from the struggling she had put up with. All alone.

    You had failed.

    You had failed your friends, and you had failed Nepeta.

    When you had come to it was far too late. One couldn’t imagine the relief you felt that Nepeta was as fine as one would put her, and then with everything that had happened after… you couldn’t help but feel grateful. If something had happened to her, just because you weren’t careful enough it would be just as much you that hurt her, as anyone else. Like watching The Disciple fight it out with your ancestor. 

    In all honestly you felt disgusted. In time you had felt ashamed of your ancestor, not being loyal to the empire and falling for a rebel. Failing his caste. Watching him fight The Disciple, you felt the exact same kind of revolt but for the opposite reason.  In a way he was still you, and in the same way The Disciple was Nepeta.

    You would never hurt your morail.

    Watching that had made something crack in you.

    It was repulsive how your ancestor and the Highbloods took it as their right to oppress Lowbloods, who only protected themselves and showed more refinements than those of your kinds. Even after you had failed to protect Nepeta and the adult, the rust helped you up as the sand-storm came, and stayed until the human blew it away. If your colours had been reversed, would a Highblood have done that? You weren’t sure what the answer would be, and either way you wouldn’t like it.

    You went into the hideout, gathering in the largest room. While all of you were tired, (Nepeta shrouded a yawn with her hand) longing for a nice day’s rest, the God-tiers seemed to be in a hurry to explain. A quick meeting was what you needed to clear things up, before you could rest together with your morail leaning against your arm.

    But the fact remained that you wouldn’t be alone. Some of the adults followed closely, The Dolorosa and The Disciple amongst them, while The Signless and The Psiioniic had disappeared with their descendants. This was not something the Seer bothered with taking up.  

    “Let’s begin.” She said, not to adults but to the nine of you that had gathered in a ring, The Seer and The Heir at the furthest end. Nepeta tilted her head in question at the slight sound of urgency in her calm voice.

    “Shouldn’t we wait for Karkat and Gamzee to return?” Nepeta shot in just as John was about to talk, and the God-tiers exchanged a glance. After a quick shake of Rose’s head, John smiled sheepishly and scratched his head in a nervous tic. As he did it a small green spark of something crossed his hand and he waved it away.

    “Actually. We don’t have time for that.” He admitted with a shrug, and you heard a bit of hurry in the usual carefree voice.  Nepeta wouldn’t have it but you stopped her while moving closer to her.

    “We could always tell them later.” You assured your morail. It wasn’t like you were going to miss anything they were about to say, and if you couldn’t remember all someone else would. It only took you saying that before you were proven that it wouldn’t be necessary. 

    “No fucking worry.” Karkat’s voice came from behind you and you turned around with the rest. Gamzee was supporting him, arm around his waist and The Signless followed soon after. “Don’t think you can leave me out of this.”

    “Don’t you need to rest?” You offered, not unkindly and he gave a quick laugh.

    “If you wonder if I feel like falling down into the wonderful embrace of our dear Horrorterrors and spend the rest of this perigee nuzzling their tentacles…“ a pause. “Hell yeah I do. But this seems more important.” He nodded as they joined you in the circle. Patched up with make-shift bandages as he was, you couldn’t help but see how he needed Gamzee’s help getting down. 

    (You wondered if Gamzee would ever let go of Karkat again).

    To switch the subject you turned to something that had slightly bothered you ever since the two humans arrived. Only two. “Where are Miss Harley and Strider?” You asked, not caring about the ears listening, trying to make sense of what you said. Hopefully the conversation would be too hard to understand for those not concerned with the subject. Rose smiled slightly, as if she had expected the question.

    “They couldn’t come, unfortunately.” She said and explained. “Jade can’t teleport herself, and Dave may be able to jump in time, but keeping track on us is hard enough.” Just as John, a small green and white spark travelled down her dress before disappearing, almost as if it vanished into her body.

    It reminded you of when they had first arrived, the Seer of Light looking like she might as well have been made by her aspect. That time had been opposite from now, since the light had shone off her before dispatching in the night. Now it was almost like it was coming home to her. Your neighbour, who probably sat way to close for comfort leaning against John, flinched at the small sparks on his God-tier. Vriska grimaced as she tried to swat them away, not succeeding in the same matter as John.  

    “Why are you still doing that flashy-lighty thingy?” She asked, just at the same times as Kanaya (placed on Rose’s left side) asked a question of her own. “Why are you in your God-tiers?”

    “Because technically we’re still in the game.” Rose answered both questions at once. She looked up in the ceiling, as if to map out whatever it was she was trying to explain before she began. “After you… left, the session lost its players, made it stop existing and simply popped, like a bubble.” From the corner of your eyes you saw Feferi smile at the comparison. “It left a void in paradox space, where we are currently staying.”

    “Well, Dave and Jade and David are.” John jumped into the conversation once again. “We were only exploring a little bit, you know, before going back to pop our own session into nothingness. The connection between here and there still existed, so Rose wanted us to have this one last look down the cord and…” He trailed off for a moment, skipping whatever it was they had seen, and you should probably be thankful for that. “We wanted to help, with the little things we could since we can’t stay long.”

    They waited a moment as the shouts of “what?” and “why?” came from your group and settled down before Rose smiled slightly apologetic.

    “Think of the game as a disease. Infecting and in the end destroying the Universe.” She took no regard to the grownups around who probably had no idea whatever it was that you were discussing. The wordings seemed planned out, thought through, and only for your ears. Just as well, you guessed, the more confusion the more you could talk freely without anyone interrupting. You barely understood, and were sure that a couple in your groups only nodded along so they wouldn’t appear stupid. “Now this Universe ‘survived’ that disease, or, was brought back to life. But in its codes there are still memories of that time, and have created countermeasures towards it starting again.”

    “This universe is immune towards the game.” John simplified, motioning with his hands (a small wind following with) as he continued where Rose had stopped. “And it sees us as virus, or bacteria are maybe more fitting.” Another crack of light followed with his words, and once again he swatted it away. “It wants to, and will, throw us out in due time.”

    “The void your session left will soon close.” Rose said, ending the explanation of their hurry. “We have to return and close our session before that; otherwise we might end up who knows where.”

    The tension was obvious in the air, murmurs only coming from those around you tried to ignore. John looked thoughtful before snapping his fingers and suddenly looking straight at you.

    “Oh right, Equius.” He said you name and stood up, searching in his pockets, not in his sylladex. It didn’t take long for him to find whatever he was looking for. You leaned forward without thinking, looking to see whatever it was John showed in his hand. It wasn’t big, only around the size of his palm, but the mark of a Sgrub-portal was obvious. A small crack of light jumped over the metal. “This is all we managed to save from the game, Jade told us to give it to you or Sollux but since he…”

    Nepeta snatched the thing from his hand before he was done talking and dropped it into yours. Normally you should have reprimanded her for being rude, but the thing in your hand turned to first priority. You didn’t miss her smile as you looked it over with honest interest. Clearly it was a piece of technology, but for what you didn’t know. Probably you could make more sense of it if you opened and looked inside. “I may have to ask Sollux about this” You admitted as you studied it more clearly. It almost looked like a simple transmitter, or a receiver. If it was, that could help you with many of your problems.

    And you could finally do something productive.

    Chapter Text

    The smell of cherry was all over the place, and you had since long forgotten to be disgusted by the sheer amount. You had your cherry leader, and the other cherry leader and the two cherry gods. Your nose was very glad for this development. (If Dave had come too, that might have been perfection, but you guessed you couldn’t have everything you wanted).

    You were happy.

    Happy enough that you couldn’t stop having a grin on your face as you sneaked around, finally finding your small leader on the side of the room, Gamzee obviously next to him. In a way he was lucky that he wasn’t bombarded with questions, the arrivals of the humans had granted that piece of peace to him. They were the most interesting at the moment. On the other hand he must also have a lot of questions, and knowing you crab he wasn’t the one to ask them straight out.

    He was turned towards where you smelled the Signless standing.

    “So, what do you think about him?” you crept up behind Karkat, stage-whispering and obvious with the fact of who you were talking about. More than the moment when they first had met, and when Karkat had been patched up they hadn’t really had the time for any longer conversations. None where they had been alone.

    “If you want me to be completely and wholly serious… I have no fucking idea.” He admitted, and in your mind you shaped your facial expression to a question mark. He probably rolled his eye, and Gamzee laughed. “Come on, I know nothing about that guy.” Karkat was suspicious. (And you didn’t blame him. No, not at all. Because you had been lucky, your first meeting with an adult hadn’t been…). And it showed through in his words. But it only made you want to show him even more, since it wasn’t like his ancestor was a dangerous troll.

    And maybe all you had to do was prove that it also worked the other way around.

    One cherry-leader down, one more to go.

    The Signless stood with his lover, the other ancestors you knew gone with their descendants. Kanaya and the Dolorosa seemed to get along pretty well, and The Psiioniic seemed devoted to care about Sollux. Really, the red-bloods were the only ones who hadn’t really been able to bond, with everything happening around them.

    “He’s a bit grumpy,” You said, the moment you arrived, knowing you had Karkat’s eyes in your back. The Signless, just as his descendant, didn’t seem surprised or confused over who you were talking about. It only confirmed your guess that they were just as awkward about this. “You get used to it.” You grinned, and by the way The Signless breathed out with a slightly amused overtone he regarded you with a smile of his own. For extra credit you added: “It’s part of his charm.”

    “But they were morails… huh?” Before he could say anything, the Disciple shot in, assisting her matesprit by switching subject. So she had also watched Gamzee and Karkat from afar, and of course noticed their relationship before anything. Just like your little lioness did. That seemed to be another case of ancestor versus descendant likeness.

    “You hadn’t guessed?” You asked, trying not to sound condescending only because it was obvious to you.

    “I think I had.” The Signless admitted, and another piece of information stored into your mind. Maybe the case was that the Signless simply didn’t want to take his descendant from his morail. You tried another innocent smile, (failing, obviously, but tried nonetheless). You decided to assure him that he was the only one with that fear. (Not that Gamzee would let anyone take Karkat away from him).

    “Well don’t worry; Gamzee won’t mind you barging in.” From what you had seen, so had Gamzee taken quite a liking to the Signless. Maybe acceptance was a better word, but it didn’t change the fact that he had kept you save. And that he had aided you in saving Karkat.

    Feferi had sometime during your talk approached Karkat, her smell easily distinguished between all the Landdwellers, even though the smell of sea had started to mix with other things. They seemed to be talking pleasantly. From the way they stood, not hiding, and the overall open feeling you guessed it wasn’t one of those talk that your group didn’t want the adults to hear or understand. 

    With that you sent The Signless towards him, trusting that they could solve this themselves and act like the blood-mates they were.

    Anyway, all the different trolls with all the smells surrounding you were making you feel slightly claustrophobic. It wasn’t like a punch of smell you could get from a sudden strong odour, but more slowly pressing. Choking. And without the cherry smell to distract you, it went from slightly annoying to frustrating.

    You needed air.

    You only had to walk a small bit before you spot-smelled Eridan sitting by a corner. He seemed to pay no mind to whoever went past, and neither had they paid attention to him. From this distance you couldn’t smell what he was doing, and approached him swiftly. Always fun to tease the prince, now when he wasn’t as stuck-up and took everything as a black advance.

    You stopped, and took a sniff in the air.

    Something in his smell was missing, or at least not so strong. You didn’t mean the way he didn’t smell just as much fish as before, that was a rather pleasant change, but rather what was missing was the overwhelming smell of rich, honey metal. Now that was more like a layer over his usual smell and not part of it.  When he moved his fingers it was without the normal sound of metal and valuable stones clashing together, you realized it was his rings that were missing.

    He was holding two ropes, smelling like they might once have been vanilla-white. The sound of his fingers taking two of the ropes, stretching them out before knotting them together was hard to decipher but not impossible. It was not like the way Rose used to knit. Her weaves was so tight that it was impossible for you to smell the individual threads. This had way much more and air between the parts, which meant it was easier to smell what it was.

    He was making a net.

    “Stupid Landdwellers who can’t tie their own knots…” Eridan grumbled, unaware of your presence as he moved along the rope, fingers used to the motions.

    “Rude!” You said, and he snapped his head up like you had hit him, surprised at your sudden appearing and you grinned kindly, leaning on your cane. “Mr Ampora, you are accused for unrightfully downgrading based on judgmental views. Do you confess?” He huffed, almost like a short laugh but only made you think of a blowfish blowing itself up in defence. Undoubtedly he also wore a smug smirk.

    “I swear to speak truth and only the truth, or whatever it is you want me to say, Pyrope.” He played along, something you took with slight surprise. Looked like you weren’t the only one pleased about the improvement until now. The ruffling told you he lifted the half-finished net up, as if to show your blind eyes his point. “They suck, Ms Legislacerator. Maybe they’re acceptable for you land-folks but throw this out in a storm on the ocean and we’ll see how it works.”  

    He sounded proud and content, having found something he was even better at than the adults here. You decided against the instinct of asking why he was fixing things probably meant to trap Highbloods, and that he especially made them useful in the water. Useful against Seadwellers.

    The noise from the room you had exited had increased during the short time you had been away, and before it got too attention-grabbing (it didn’t sound like a fight, a fierce discussion maybe? Interesting) for you and your fellow troll, the rust-red woman came out from the room and walked up to you.

    “Teal-blood, I think you should get back.” She addressed, and when Eridan rose up to follow you she hesitated, before speaking again.  “Wait, little Highblood. Could you teach me to do that?” She smiled at him, kneeling down and picking the net up for inspection. From how Eridan’s normal smell of lavender increased you guessed he was embarrassed by the indirect form of flattery. You didn’t hear the nod occurring, but surely it must have happened as he didn’t follow you. The rust sat down with him, helping silently and you heard them start talking as you walked away.

    The moment you arrived to the place, you knew why the rust had called for you and only for you. The reason she had distracted Eridan while you could sneak away, was because the main actor in this seemed to be your very own sea-dweller princess. Nice played everyone, nice played. Feferi’s voice was as remote as you guessed she could, the exited whine telling you she was trying to explain or argue her point for something.

    You passed Vriska and Aradia on your way in, Vriska trying to trip you with her feet, earning herself a beat on the shins with your cane. You caught the smell of the humans and Kanaya lurking nearby, but paid them no mind, at least for the moment. (You didn’t know if everyone knew they were close, or if they were illegally spying. This you couldn’t solve until you got further proof, so the investigation was to be on hold).

    The yellowblood, whose smell you had started to feel as sour, bitter citrus, and the limeblood from before were also there. You took the place next to Karkat, squeezing in between him and his ancestor. It looked like your discreet pushing had worked, and you hoped they wouldn’t mind you butting in between. It wasn’t like you were going to place yourself between Gamzee and Karkat (and now you had a delicious crab on either side of you).

    The small pause your entrance had made was soon over as Feferi continued to argue her point. From what you guessed, someone had accused her for something, and from the way she was looking your way but not on you, you guessed that person was Karkat. Not to mention the tension you felt from him was proof enough.

    “I was never forced.” Feferi complained, and from the sigh from your left, this was something they hadn’t gone over only once. “This is my own choice, and I’m the only one who can do it!” Ah. You were discussing the next part of the revolution. Made sense that it wasn’t something Karkat would agree too.

    Karkat groaned and hung his head in his hands. Then he threw them up in the air. “Well fuck, fine by me. Let’s throw us straight down to the home of The Empress, surely that’ll work. Huh, wonder why no one had thought of that before? Oh right, because it’s stupid. And you’re going to get yourself killed.”

    “Krabfish…” Feferi sighed and put on her best pouting face. Together with the nickname it made you smile. You wanted to send Feferi off just as little as him, but at the same time knew it as a necessarily. This was the only way the revolution could happen. Maybe it was a leftover from being a seer, but probably it was good old intuition and a matter of pride. A promise was a promise, and you weren’t going to back. Feferi wasn’t either. “This is something I want to do. Please.”

    “Come on Karkles,” You aided her, knowing it was the reason you had been called; to argue the case of your spontaneous membership in the rebellion. One of the best things you could have used was to take him and his actions as a perfect example of things that may get everyone killed and stupid self-sacrifice, but he knew that. And it probably wouldn’t make him happier. “Can’t you see our little princess is ---EXCIT--ED?” You copied her way of speaking and could hear something like a groan from Karkat.

    He knew he was defeated. If everyone was into it, who was he to say anything about it?

    “You have my blessing or whatever.” Feferi gave a little glub, that sounded more like a giggle of victory (not to farfetched, it was exactly what it was).  Karkat was quiet a moment more, before he spoke again with a sound of grumpy suspicion. “When the fuck did you make a 180° turn and decided to suddenly listen to me, anyway?”

    “Haven’t we aaaaaaaalways?” Vriska said from the side, sounding like she honestly felt betrayed and shocked at his apparent statement. She fooled no one, or rather you hoped she didn’t fool anyone but it obviously didn’t fool you. This didn’t mean you wouldn’t smile at her words and agree.

    “With all the shouting it was harder to not listen.” You teased, leaning in to whisper. “We mutually agreed to save the ears of the poor, unprepared adults.” From his other side, Gamzee gave a short laughed and then looked at you with fake concern.

    “Now, now, Terechica.” Gamzee added, voice holding same tone as yours had. It was enough to know he was playing along. “Speak up; I can’t seem to hear you.” You gasped theatrical, and tried to put a stern face towards Karkat.

    “See, even poor Gamzee’s hearing have been reduced do to this.” You switched to fake sadness, even with the grin creeping up on your lips.

    “Fuck you two.” Karkat snapped, not unkindly and you smiled not only because it was fun to get a ruse out of him. The whole exchange had a feeling of familiarity you didn’t know you’d missed until now. Of course, the adults didn’t get that and of course Mr Sour Citrus had to clear his throat as if to inform you it wasn’t funny.

    With the way Gamzee’s head snapped his way, you guessed he sent a wordless glare, and you resisted to stick your tongue out at Mr Sour Citrus for being rude. Probably it wouldn’t help to prove your point of being mature.

    “Well now when that’s solved, could we proceed?” He said, the condescending voice giving you the feeling that he was the source of this being a debate instead of a discussion. He seemed stressed and well, sour. None of you wanted another pointless fight. That would be disrespectful (to the Signless), so you kept quiet and let him talk. “We’re going straight out to sea, only trying to avoid being seen would demand an incredible point of luck so…”

    “Excuse me siiiiiiiir.” It was his turn to be interrupted by Vriska, so you never heard the end of his suggestion. At the same time you didn’t like the way Vriska’s grin increased, something you would know even without feeling her face. “I have the perfect idea for that.”

    Ah right. There was another troublesome ancestor/descendant pair you had to tackle.

    Chapter Text

    It was bright when someone shook you awake. Groggily with sleepiness you started to protest the sudden interruption, before you saw who it was. Terezi grinned down at you with a finger over her lips, beckoning you to follow quietly. She moved her head as if she looked around, and when you did the same you realized that you were the only ones awake amongst the adults. Something Terezi obviously wanted to continue to be a thing.

    You clamped a hand over your mouth to stop any other unwanted sounds to appear. The two of you stayed completely still while watching the guards sleeping soundly around the room. It was not a natural, not the alert kind of sleep but rather a forced one. No matter how weird that sounded, your experience could only tell you one thing about this. Vriska.

    Terezi pulled you up, careful to move so that the clanking of your legs wasn’t as horrible as they could be. It wasn’t easy, moving around the knocked out adults and trying to not get you any attention. Your horns didn’t help, as usual, as they attracted any kind of trouble that they could, almost knocking down a row of weapons.  Together with the already mentioned problem of your legs, it was not an easy feat, but you succeeded. The only thing you caused was slight stirring.

    After that it was easier, Terezi leading you through the light shining into the cracks of the cave. She took you down a way you hadn’t used before, away from the bigger halls and into smaller parts. The ones only used for storage. She sniffed around once checking for pursuers before opening a room on the left. The grey darkness inside made it easier to discern the people in there.

    “And finally here is Sleeping Beauty and his knight” Vriska drawled, sounding more like her old self than she had done ever before. It should have bothered you, but with the way she was holding her head as if it was in pain, she probably had reasons to it. “Do you know what will happen if they wake up before you are all back safe and sound? Someone will pay because there will be someone to blame. And guess who that person is, yeah, me.”

    She gritted her teeth from the headache, and John draped an arm around her shoulder in a friendly, close kind of way you’d see the humans do before to each other. “Don’t worry Vriska! I’ll protect you.” He said and gained a small, sarcastic laugh from her as she shrugged him off.

    “And I’ll swoon if you do.” She replied, voice dripping with harmless mockery before she closed her eyes in pain once again. ”But you better be prepared to keep your promise if the others don’t arrive soon.” In surprise of her words, you took another look around the room only to realize that, yes, she was right. You were not yet a full group. Four trolls were still missing.

    “We couldn’t get to Sollux, unfortunately.” Aradia said, giving a glance towards Vriska. If you ever saw it as something accusing, you couldn’t be more mistaken, the plural of her sentence had been about the two of them.

    “I ain’t going to attack The Psiioniic…” Vriska put up her hands, like in defence to the non-existing blame. “…that was a no can do.”

    “And Eridan needed his beauty sleep, so he won’t show either.” Feferi rolled her eyes, a motion that Vriska copied a moment later with a sigh, both girls familiar with the prince of your group. He hadn’t been around too much. “He told me that early last night.”

    “So, uhm,” you said as you mentally counted from bottom to top who was there and who was not. “It’s Gamzee and Karkat, we’re missing? Right?”

    Just as you finished speaking, before anyone was able to confirm your words, the door opened once more. It wasn’t hard to see how Gamzee could become a good Subjugglator one day, if he had followed his call, with the way he emerged from the light into the shadow, his movements silent and fluid, closing the door behind him.

    “Karbro is sleeping. He was having nightmares.” He explained, slumping down amongst you like he folded himself into a pile. Tiredness was showing through his paint but even when everyone saw, no one said anything. Instead you gave a smile towards him, happy that he at least let the fatigue show. That he didn’t try to hide it under a façade.

    “That’s, uhm, normal. You shouldn’t worry.” You assured him the things he already knew and Gamzee awarded you for a good try with a smile back, larger than the one you had. At the same time he didn’t look convinced enough to stop worry for his morail. All in all he mostly looked like he hadn’t wanted to leave him in the first place. Another reason to hurry.

    “I don’t know bro… I guess you’re right.” For a moment his eyes shifted over to John, who was levitating slightly in the air while waiting for to begin. The wrinkle of thought and worry deepened only a slight bit, before it smoothed out into nothing. “Let’s get this motherfucking talking on.”

    He motioned to the humans with a smile, but surprisingly John only looked at Rose and Rose continued the motion to Feferi, sitting in what you now noticed was the middle. Feferi’s facial fins fluttered slightly as she looked up, the only light source in the room giving her eyes a faint pink tint. Her voice was not stuttering, but hesitant.

    “I’ve been thinking about this whole fin… About the things occurring lately” Feferi began, her hands knotting together in an indistinctive way you didn’t see often with her. Then her hands stilled in her lap, looking up confident once again even with her voice hushed. This was not something she wanted any outsiders to hear. “I think… I believe that was supposed to be the execution of the Signless.”

    A silence fell over your group, not even one confused ‘what?’ escaping from any of you. John looked mostly confused, but Rose held something knowing in her expression as if she really knew what all this had been about.

    You hadn’t known about the execution, about the whole first revolution, until Feferi had told you. Of course you had known about the Summoner, the uprising you now knew was second in place, but you had actually never thought of the reason it began. Why your ancestor decided to go against his fate and try to turn the world upside down. You understood that now. The Signless had died as a martyr, becoming a legend strong enough to spark the flame of his will many sweeps after.

    And with that knowledge, what Feferi just told you got a whole new impact.

    In a boast of energy, Feferi leaned forward and beat out her hands. The thing in her voice was not excitement, but it could surely be mistaken as such, the speaking fast and jumbled. You could imagine the words she’d kept in her mind as she finally let the dam open.

    “It’s perfect! The attacks, the gathering of the four pillars, the escape, The Grand Highblood, the whole execution! I thought it was strangely similar but now, now we have proof! This revolution was never supposed to go active! Not until the Summoner takes up the banner and that’s hundreds of sweeps later than this. This… this is…” She trailed off, looking up for confirmation in your confused eyes.

    “This was never supposed to happen.” Aradia said, her voice hollow enough to remind you of the time when she hadn’t been the troll you’d grown up with, but rather an anonymous stranger. But the corners of her lips turned up a slight bit, as if she had been expecting this.

    “No. Never.” Feferi shook her head, a fatigued but relieved smile on her face, matching the one Aradia had. Someone got what she had been trying to say. She then spoke the words you all had hoped to never hear again. “We’re in a doomed timeline.”

    You clenched your fists. While you maybe hadn’t been that involved with the whole time shenanigans, you knew what that meant and knew that was as bad as it would get. That it was called ‘doomed’ was enough hint.

    “Correction.” Rose was smiling, her expression still knowing, and for a lack of better explanation, mysterious. “This is another timeline, but not necessarily a doomed one. More exactly, you need to stabilize it.” It wasn’t really helpful, more a little bit hopeful, and you bit your lower lip thoughtfully.

    “How the motherfuck do you do that?” Gamzee asked straight out, and the answer he got back wasn’t more helpful.  

    “You live.” Aradia sounded happy, incredible how she managed in this moment, but she had always been the optimist in your friendship. Now she sounded confident, back to normal, and the familiarity even drew a smile out of you. “You change time.”

    “Maybe it will work if you manage to win this war.” She gave a shrug, a hint of that this was something you had to do more than could do. Not that the whole winning a revolution thing seemed like a thing that you’d been too quickly involved too far into, but it gave it all an air of finality. With that she lifted up her hood, showing her eyes as she winked with one of them, like she had just shared a secret with you. “Trust me. It’s just another hunch I have.”

    John didn’t wear the same air of confidence as the other human. Actually he looked just as confused as you even, like he didn’t know anything about what Rose was talking about. Did he? From what you had understood it was Rose who decided pretty much everything about this mission of theirs. Maybe the others knew. You had first-hand personal knowledge that the heroes of Breath tended to be… a bit airheaded. 

    It was too bad that you couldn’t be a full group, but Rose had said that Dave and Jade needed to hold the way open… You stopped in the middle of your train of thought. Surely they didn’t need two time-players to keep it up. So where was Davesprite?

    ”I wanted to meet Davesprite or, well,” You said out loud, stopping, trying to remember the name that John had used. It was something close to Dave. Davis? No wait. “David? You said? Right?” John gave a small laugh, nothing mocking or that sort, but Rose was strangely quiet, looking down in her lap.

    “Rose? Is something wrong?” Kanaya inquired, leaning forward so she could look up the hood of the Seer.

    “Honestly, he should already be here…” She admitted, voice a mile away from the confident one she had talking about what you were supposed to do. This was not something she had accounted with.

    “Stop worrying! It’s David after all; he knows these things much better than we do.” John assured her, not tried, because even you could see how she relaxed the slightest bit. She clapped her hands together in a show of happiness and finality.

    “Now then, I believe it’s a big day, sorry,” She smiled, “night, tomorrow. I think we should all get some sleep.”

    With that it was over, and you split ways. It was sad that you all weren’t allowed to stay together anymore, but that was a minor thing you shouldn’t fight against. ‘We don’t have the space’ had they said, but coming from the Dolorosa her voice revealed that might not be the case. She was in her own way warning you to stay secure for your own good.

    Terezi led you back, even when you remembered the most of it. Everyone in the room was still unmoving, as you moved to your specific sleeping piles.

    A sound of steps, and you tensed. For a moment you lay completely still, straining your ears to the brink that it would show. The silence was heavy, and for a moment you wondered if you had imagined it or not. No, you hadn’t, came the answer as the steps appeared again, only to disappear further away. Maybe even accompanied by a second pair. Hurried.

    What had that been about?

    You couldn’t investigate, as the mumbling of an adult broke the stillness. Vriska had probably dropped her hold on them by now, and all that was left was for them to wake up and hope they didn’t notice you’d been away. “Shit!” You heard the guard exclaim quietly, cursing himself for falling asleep on his shift, as you closed your eyes.

    Feferi was gathering up to leave, and the main room was unusually rowdy. As you had learned, small fights were prone between both the members of the rebellion and against you. Mostly the Signless was there to break it up, but right now he had disappeared to somewhere else together with the other ancestors.

    You tried to ignore the agitated adult voices to your left, recognizing one of them easily as he seemed to be very persuading in starting a fight with the higher of your group. Gamzee mostly. 

    A limeblood tried to stop him, talk some sense, but Mr Citrus seemed like he didn’t want any of that. As he looked up, your eyes meeting you turned your head away, hoping he wouldn’t approach you or even notice you. Gamzee hadn’t seen him yet, and when you glanced up through the pieces of your mohawk you saw to your horror that luck wasn’t on your side.

    “Did you really have a whole day’s sleep?” He said, accusingly and you felt something freeze inside you. This was not about him being worried for your health. Someone had noticed. Maybe he didn’t have any proof but it was still bad, really bad and you weren’t really the right one to handle this. Alarm rose inside your head, and you attempted at keeping it at only that, not showing outside. But it was hard looking normal and uncaring as the blood raced in your ears.

    “Are we not allowed to have privacy?” You tried to make your voice distanced, cold and stern, but couldn’t help but feel… well a bit scared. You weren’t sure why, but most of the more extreme ones of the Rebellion seemed to see you as a poster-boy for their beliefs. Look here, what a Highblood will do. And now they were disappointed at your friendship with them. Betrayed. It made you very uncomfortable.

    “No.” The answer was short and short and direct.

    “You don’t trust us.” You answered right back, defensive and true in your words. In showing your intentions you took a step back, legs creaking even with the slight movement. He noticed it and changed your wording only slightly.  

    “I don’t trust them.” He intonated a little bit too loud and you became aware that you were attracting attention to the ones around. A thing that was both good and bad. You didn’t want to start a fight; something that seemed to be prone lately around all of you, but you wouldn’t be able to handle this on your own. At least, you didn’t think so. Or actually…

    “What do you have for reason? What have they… what have we done?” Putting pressure on the word ‘we’, you knew it was something that would tick him off. It wasn’t you fault. You couldn’t really help it. Why did your rare busts of confidence always make you say stupid things? He didn’t blow up as you had expected, the greenblood giving a warning glare from the side, but rather took a calming breath before continuing.

    “Is this really a coincident?” He was no longer speaking to you; you saw the head turned to tune in to your conversation. “That the Highbloods would find us just when they came here?”

    “Is something the matter?” You hadn’t noticed Equius approaching. For being such a brick-wall of muscles he moved unsettling quietly, especially with the fact of Nepeta hanging on his back, a frown on her face. One might have believed that they would stop bashing, but you weren’t so stupid as to believe that.

    “Keep quiet you.” Another said, and was then shoved aside slightly as Gamzee came up. Gamzee didn’t get a word to him, but a slight hiss escaped anyway. And the yellowblood really didn’t like him at present.

    If only you were one of those who could say ‘shut up’ to someone.

    You looked at the adult beside him, the lime who had tried to stop him before, with a small plea of help. He looked uncertain, and then shook his head in defeat.

    “I’m sorry but it just seems so… perfect.” He said, words probably mirroring what too many around you felt. “Like it was planned.”

    Without fail, something had and cold rose up in Gamzee’s eyes. Anger and rage obvious as he took a step forward. You saw Karkat looking up from where he stood, his brows scrunched together as he just as everyone else watched the scene unfold. With the way the adult held himself, it was like Gamzee was already holding his clubs in his hands. You had to double-check only to make sure this wasn’t true, and sure, his hands were fisted but fortunately empty.

    “are you implying THAT MY MORAIL WOULD FUCKING LIE ABOUT SOMETHING LIKE THAT?” You almost reached out, ready to split them up if necessary, but then your hands fell down. You had no right. You were helpless when it came to the core. “are you, GODDAMNED MOTHERFUCKER, saying I WANTED THIS?”

    The yellowblood reached for the staff hanging at his hip, obviously wanting to take this to a more violent level. For a moment it seemed like he would get his will.

    And then Karkat was there.

    His hand was around Gamzee’s horn and it was put to use by pulling Gamzee down to his level. Not prepared with the sudden switch of balance Gamzee stumbled backwards and you had to move slightly to not be in the way. Confused, the adults around you stilled. Equius turned away, but Nepeta giggled.

    “Gamzee, stop.” Karkat said, clearly and stern without any scorn. Affectionately even. “What have we said about these things? Don’t let them provoke you, stupid. Now shoosh”

    For a moment the room fell quiet. A tension, neither hot nor cold but simply tranquil, hanging in the air and you almost smiled with a feeling of triumph as the yellowblood took a step back, uncertain surprise in his eyes. Neither Karkat nor Gamzee seemed to care about this temporarily victory.

    “Sorry brother.” Gamzee broke the silence with a smile and Karkat looked him sternly in his eyes for a moment more before letting go of his horn. (You almost felt embarrassed looking at them, how Karkat seemed to linger only a miniscule second more than necessary at the tip of Gamzee’s hair. Okay. Really not what you were supposed to think about. Tavros, you’re being creepy).  

    “I don’t know what’s going on here. But seriously?” Karkat had turned to the adults, the frown on his face deepening as he glared. From what you saw on the adults, this was not something they were used to seeing. “And you, you lay off my morail.” He accused the adult, the setting a bit funny with how much shorter Karkat was. But the most important thing was that the adults listened. “No matter what’s going around in your think-pan, you have no place to attack him.”

    By now most of you had showed up, the only one you missed was Sollux… but he was probably with his ancestor. Oh, and Eridan. But you didn’t know where he’d run off to. Karkat was still talking, voice not as angry anymore. “What is this really about? Haven’t these idiots, no offence, proved enough?”

    This time it was another that answered.

    “How do we know she won’t betray us at last moment? And going to that blueblood…” Some of them hummed agreeing. The plan of going to Mindfang had seemed to become a sore thorn in some of the more extremes sides, especially after the Signless had accepted it. His words were law for most of them, but that didn’t mean that they were happy with his decisions. “Someone should supervise her!”

    “That is fine.” Feferi stepped up, head held high. Words spoken like a true diplomat. “If you want to come, why should I have any problems with it?”

    “I have problems with it.” Vriska joined in, anger in her voice, and linking arms with Feferi. “You’re not getting to Spinneret without me remember?”

    “And you’re just another Highblood.”

    Vriska gritted her teeth, and you could see her eyes narrow behind the glasses. That was a threat, and for the first time you felt like you wanted to step up and protect Vriska. Not that you owed her or anything, but it didn’t really feel good to leave only her and Feferi with the adults. For once you were in the better position to do it. But before you even had the time to volunteer, but Aradia stepped in between.

     “I’ll go. If it is Highbloods you have problems with, it should be no reason for you to refuse me,”  

    You let your hand, that you had held up like an attempt to stop everyone from fighting, fall down to your side. Neither side said another word, and the act was obvious. It was decided.

    But you couldn’t wholly shake away the feeling of anxiety.

    XoXoXoX

    You were scared.

    Not in the kind of uncomfortable kind of scared that you’ve been while staying with the Lowbloods. No. This was the fear you’d experienced against those around your own caste, towards the few Highblood adults you had met. Ironically, you felt it towards one of the opposite spectrum. You look back once more towards the hideout, wishing that you could have warned someone, told someone, but you had to keep up your act.

    The rust was waiting for you, her hand outstretched and you took it, trying to not look like your blood-pusher would jump out your gills.

    “…why did you call me Highblood?”

    “Because that’s what you are. Higher. Than anyone else here.” The thing in her voice, was not hate. You almost wished it was. “I can take you home. To our empire.”

    Chapter Text

    Gosh, this suuuuuuuure had been a nice trip.

    Feferi and Aradia kept up a good chat while walking, making the whole thing a little more easier to bear. You didn’t know what you would have done if the whole trip had stayed in that awkward, heavy silence. Screamed, probably, or maybe start rambling on some subject that you’d regret afterwards.

    It was not like you weren’t thrilled of going back to Mindfang. It was the company that made you pissed with every step further you went. And no, you weren’t talking about the princess and the living-ghostgirl. Feferi was cool, nothing against that girl, and you’d been getting along better with Aradia lately. Probably had something to do with the whole ‘we all have the same goal’ AKA ‘let’s not be killed again ok?’.

    It was just that you right now for the fifth time wished you could just drive the adults the wrong way and leave them there.

    They didn’t trust you, questioning every step you took and in an especially steep road up one of them had been clumsy enough to strike your left horn-base, hard, leaving a slight buzzy sensation. Ever since that special night of the execution, your horns had been aching uncomfortably every time you used your ability. But you could handle it. What you couldn’t handle was the possibility that he had managed to make it even worse. The feeling had yet to leave, and if your horn had been hurt in any kind of way, forcing you to ask someone to look over it, it would not be a fun night for that troll.

    Maybe your reasons weren’t too legitimate, and you knew that doing what you wanted in this moment would make everything hell lots more complicated. Karkat would yell at you, and John would give you those woof-beast-eyes with his glasses making them all bigger. You just wanted to hurry this along, get this mission over and done with.

    What if you didn’t get to say goodbye to him? The humans had their stupid ticking clock, with no way of knowing when they would be departing back to the lost session, or wherever they said the others stayed at. Also, stupid Eridan hadn’t even come to say goodbye. Not that that really bothered you… but sometimes you wondered what was up with that guy.

    It was with a breath of relief that you finally got past the traps and to your ancestors front door. (Had to come with style this time). 

    ”We meet once again, dearest bloodmate.” Spinneret met you outside of her hive, as if she had expecting you coming and looked behind you at the four trolls you had with you. Her eyes landed only a moment longer at Feferi, the Seadweller not showing she had seen it. Mindfang laughed and jumped down from the step she was standing on. “Have you already wasted your last friends?”

    Even with your back turned to her you knew Aradia was raising an eyebrow you decided to ignore, in favour of stepping up to your ancestor.

    “Not really, ” You smiled back at her, fangs poking at your bottom lip. “But I need your help with another thing, if that’s alright?” The second it took for her to answer would have been ashamed to be called hesitantly. She waved her hand in an inviting matter, her gaze drifting to the adults standing a bit away. She turned back to you when speaking, instead of addressing them.

    “You and your friends are always welcome, Vriska.” She made a short pause. “Tell the adults they are free to enter too, but I take no responsibility they come in and out unscathed.”

    You nodded and started after herr, Feferi and Aradia joining fairly quickly. It was not a threat, but rather a warning to the adults, and after a while you could hear the steps of them following. Quickly wanting to get this over and get her into the whole thing you opened your mouth to speak, but Spinneret placed a finger over her lips.

    “Not yet dear. You never know who listens.” She didn’t give any more hints of who she was talking about after that, the walk continuing in silence. The room you arrived in was different from the one you’d been taken too last time you had been in her hive. The furniture out along the wall had a slight layer of dust, but enough to show that it wasn’t completely unused.

    “There’s been some… rumours going around lately.” She began, fiddling with her nails as she talked, voice uncaring and distant. “About the apparent escape of someone meant to die by the hand of His Grand Highblood.” “From my sources the rescue was arranged by a couple of Lowbloods, and look here what I heard, a blueblood Scorpio.” She added with a smile and two raised eyebrows.

    The smile you had held dropped, a feeling of horror and guilt crashing through your mind. There hadn’t been a thought in your head about what would happen with your ancestor if someone made that connection. The tension lay so heavy in the silence, that you bet you could execute it with The Guillotine de la Marquise.

    “Are you allied with the Empire?” You asked, straight out, disregarding and at the same time confirming her words. Her smile didn’t drop.

    “Depends on the moment.” She replied, evading an honest answer. The ball was in your court, not anyone else and you closed your eyes, thinking. She had hinted that someone might be spying on her, taking you further in to escape that. She knew that you were allied with the Lowblood rebellion, had known that you personally had been part of that, and knew that you’d come back to her sooner or later.

    But she hadn’t sold you out. Not yet. And right now you didn’t have the time to disbelieve that her true answer on your question had been a no. You opened your eyes and met hers, grin rising as you built your confidence up from the inside. No way that she’d be some royalist asshole.

    “How would you feel making a big “fuck you” to the Empire?” You shrugged, opening up your arms in an inviting matter, expression hopefully inquiring and curious. “Kick some Seadweller ass?” You knew you had made the right choice when she gave a laugh closing in to a giggle.

    “Well… since it’s you I might be able to give a hand.”

    After you explained, there were no more interruptions, no questions or tentative decisions. She set off through the halls again, with a speed you almost had hard to keep up with, leading up to closed doors. With a quick pull she opened them, the hinges creaking like you didn’t know if they hadn’t been used too little or too much.

    “Non-Scorpios have to stay outside.” She warned the other, before slamming the doors shut behind you.

    You didn’t know what you had expected, but the last thing was the hallway of books that surrounded every corner of the room. It was a library. And it was huge. The walls were filled with books ranging both size and age and looked like some might as well have never been read, while some was starting to fall apart on the side. You could almost breathe the stories and facts gathered in this place, from all those times.

    It was amazing.

    While you had been in slight awe over the collection, you hadn’t noticed that she’d begun to talk, moving along the hall with long strides. “…knowledge, Vriska, is the greatest treasure of them all.” You tuned into her talk and hurried forward to keep up. Once in a while she glanced at a section of books, before continuing. “Even luck needs a bit help on the way, with knowledge you increase the possibility of a good outcome.”

    Her fingers moved along the spines of the books, sometime pulling one out halfway, before pushing it back again. You reached out and took a heavy one with a red spine. She didn’t protest or anything, (you even dared to say the ghost of a smile hinted at her lips) so without further due you opened it up.

    The pages were filled with small, handwritten letters, telling stories of history, or myths. You couldn’t tell. Colourful pages flashed by as you turned the pages without really reading anything. Something caught your eye, and you started to turn the pages back, stopping at a picture of an adult, female troll. Or, that was what you thought it was. The artist had made it fleeting, like he or she had only seen it for a short moment.

    You found yourself staring into the eyes, the only thing clear in the image, as they pierced back into yours, the orbs not betraying what colour her blood was. For a moment you had a feeling you knew it anyway. It was something creepily familiar similar about the woman, how her horns curled themselves at the side of her head, but before you could ponder any longer Mindfang came back.

    “Found it.” You heard her say as she arrived with a big blue book in her arms. With a snap you closed the book in your hand and (a little bit ungracefully, with the use of a little force) put it back into its place. The first thing you noticed about her book was the splatter of violet blood. The reason was obvious enough. She held it with one hand, using the other to turn the pages through the blue sheets in the book.  

    It was a map over the seas.

    A detailed map that no Landdweller should ever own.

    By now you noticed she had angled the book enough for you to get a good look at it. It was not like you could understand the marks pointed out in the maps, but obviously Mindfang knew how to decipher them. Suddenly she stopped, a blue claw pointing at a sign you recognized the moment you laid eyes on it. Peixes.

    Maybe you hadn’t been the smartest person in your group all of the time, but you didn’t have to be a genius to realize what that meant.

    “This is all you should need. It’s a bit old, but those fishies are traditionalists.” She remarked with a smirk. “They won’t change their routes for some trivial mistakes. Like a lost book.” The way she tilted the book, as if she would drop it, indicated that she wanted you to take it. You didn’t, glancing up at her once before back into the book with all its hidden marks and hints of roads in the water. Like hell you knew what anything of that translated to in real life.

    “Won’t you come with me?” Inwards you cursed yourself for using the singular pronoun, but all you got was a slightly raised eyebrow as she closed the book, tapping its stained cover with her fingers.

    “Will any of you actually have a use of this, without me?” She responded, voice amused, and you fought the urge to stick your tongue out. You decided to take her answer as a yes.

    In your time as a flarp-player, you had sometimes gone out to sea fighting with Eridan. (It sure helped knowing how to steal a ship big enough for your little trip). It used to be a point of excitement, knowing full and well you were in the point blank of his territory, and still stood on equal ground. This was a whole different thing. You couldn’t even see a small hint of was hid deep down in these waters, not even with your vision eight-fold.

    The boat had finally rocked to a stop, dipping up and down with the calm waters. If you didn’t know, you’d never guess that you would be standing over the most powerful lusus on Alternia in this moment. All the others except you and Spinneret was standing guard around the rails. Carefully looking out of the water after any kind of threat.

    Feferi was, for the lack of a better pun, like a fish in the water. She trampled water down beneath you, fins and gills flaring, preparing to go underwater. She smiled at you, and you waved slightly at her. “See you in whale!” Feferi shouted, just as cheerily as normal. Taking a moment more she saluted you before her head disappeared underwater, hair swirling around her body like seaweed, or living tendrils.

    Aradia joined up beside you, leaning over without speaking a word. The silence was comfortable, and only that made you feel a tiny bit uncomfortable. You’d be damned if you started to regret being in a fight with her this whole time.

    As to distract yourself, you dropped your long hair down as a curtain on one of your sides. With this you turned your gaze to spy on the adults through the black, sharp straws. They seemed to be talking, sending a quick glance your way, before the lime nodded. Your eyebrows furrowed. 

    You had thought it was strange that the yellowblood had carried a gun obviously designed for someone like Eridan. It even seemed beamed based, something you only could only see because of the fights you’d experienced as a child. He pointed it down from the boat. You looked down into the black water after a sign for an enemy, but could see nothing more than cold sea. What the fuck were they doing? Before the answer was transferred into your mind, you heard Feferi’s voice resound in your head.

    ‘And before any of you get any ideas, the answer is no, you cannot kill Gl’bgolyb’

    Oh fuck no they weren’t.

    You immediately tried to put them to sleep, when pain shot through your left horn. It was enough to make your head spin in an uncomfortable manner, your eyes tearing up and making it all hazy. Bile was rising in your throat. Fuck you shouldn’t have used that much energy when you were hurt… That fucking bastard had hurt you knowing that this would happen. Shit. SH8T!

    If Gl’bgolyb’s voice didn’t kill you all, you would murder him yourself.

    You were not the only ones who had noticed the light from the gun, as it illuminated the water and you saw Feferi coming back. But she wouldn’t get up in time, and with a fear and panic you felt lost with you realized she knew this. She was putting herself in the way of the beam.

    Aradia moved to stop him while you shrugged your shoes off and prepared to jump down in the water, climbing up on the rail with shaky limbs. The sea made the rail move underneath your feet, almost succeeding to throw you of balance. The water looked dark and cold, scary. You cursed your whole being as you knew, you knew Aradia and Mindfang wouldn’t get there on time, and no way would you be able to swim down fast enough to save whatever that would be left of Feferi. It was too late. The gun went off.

    And the water was filled with sickly yellow blood, a violet harpoon piercing the middle of his chest. It was only for a moment before it was pulled back into the water, bringing the body down with a loud splash, but it was enough for you to see the mark of Aquarius on it.

    The shock as you recognized the sign made you unsteady, and when the boat rocked once more you were suddenly plummeting down the side, into cold water. Before you could regain control of the panic a clawed hand latched around your feet.

    As he dragged you down, a ray of bubbles escaping your mouth, you reached for the sky.

    Chapter Text

    You were only going to look up, one last time, when you saw the light. As Eridan’s former morail you didn’t even need to think before you strained against the water flow, and turned upwards again. You swum as fast as possible, knowing that you didn’t have the power to get there in time but maybe you could stop the beam before it reached its preferred target.

    Didn’t they realize they would all die?

    Didn’t they realize that your lusus wasn’t the reason for all hurt!!

    Now you were the one who was going to die. You never had any intention of fooling yourself in this moment that you would survive a direct hit, and this time you would wake up neither dreaming nor alive. The only hope you had left lay divided between the wish that you’d be revenged, and that no circle of vengeance would begin. (Because it would, you knew it would). 

    But the shot was never fired, not from that gun, and in the next moment all you tasted was the metallic flavour of blood polluting the water, the body sinking down. You didn’t do anything to stop it. Sure you hadn’t really hated the guy, but he was most likely culled permanently, and you had more important things to concern about.

    Like the Seadweller adult taking Vriska down with him.

    It was only when the first shock passed, after seeing who the adult were and who he looked like, that you thrust into action. If there was anything, you couldn’t do nothing.

    Vriska was fighting, scrawny limbs and edgy elbows bashing against the Seadweller. To no avail. She didn’t have the technique needed in water, the instinctual knowledge how to balance oneself, and she was running out of air, fast. He could kill her, could have killed her the moment she fell down, but he hadn’t. Instead he let her slowly drown, motions getting more panicked and sloppier with every second passing.

    “Let her go!” You glubbed, sound shrill as it travelled in the water and you kicked off, spinning your trident once to accustom your muscles from air to water. He looked over, even his condescending expression of disbelief reminding you of Eridan. That wouldn’t stop you, but honestly you had no idea what you were supposed to do now.

    It wasn’t possible to throw it. You might hit Vriska. And you couldn’t stab him, once again because he had your friend in front of him like a shield, arms around her neck and waist. He was a coward, making anger well up inside of you. In all sense of the word, you couldn’t attack, but you had to. Vriska was losing power, struggling residing and her arms hanging limp, eyes empty.

    For a moment horror mixed with pure rage crashed through your body as you realized it might be too late. Then she blinked, proving to you that she had yet to drown. Though, it wouldn’t be long until she finally succumbed and you wouldn’t, couldn’t, accept it going that far. You didn’t want to lose her.

    Acting only on desperation and fear you moved towards him, hoping that your body would figure out by itself what you were supposed to do. Luckily, you didn’t have to go that far. A splash from above was the warning you got as a chest crashed down the surface straight above him.

    Instead of moving away you threw the trident into your specibus and continued forward, using the small moment of confusion to grab Vriska and pull the hardest you could. She slipped from his grip; the descending furniture forced him and you to split ways, you wasting no time to pull Vriska’s unmoving body up towards the surface.

    Something splashed again and you grabbed the rope they had thrown down, only now noticing how much your fingers shook. You tightened the knot around Vriska’s midriff. Giving the rope a hard tug to show you were done, you gave her body one last push up as the others began pulling from up above. It would hurt, being pulled up that way, but her consciousness had already slipped away and you reallyreally hoped that she would wake up in the end.

    You swirled around in the water, summoning your trident from its hide and glared down. “Aren’t you a stupid little girl?” His voice carried out from somewhere below you, the question more a statement than anything.

    He had to be Eridan’s ancestor, the harpoon now slung over his right shoulder, looking at you with an expression bordering between pity and disgust. While having known Eridan since you practically were wrigglers should give you an advantage, you soon realized that that thought was a major miscalculation.

    You didn’t have the time or stand the chance of actually meeting him in a fair fight, even though you’d be better than any Landdweller. And it was that fact too. The others wouldn’t be able to help you in any way that turned the scale to plus rather than minus. You never wanted to think that way of your friends, but right now, they were a weakness on your side. If this had taken place on land or even above water, the circumstances would be wholly different, but right now, with Vriska hurt, you didn’t want to take the risk of retreating up. 

    You had to lead him away somehow.

    And that, you realized happily, was not a hard thing to do. You took stance against the bottom of the boat, watching his movements carefully. One shot, that was what you had to get past him. No matter what, he was a guardian of Gl’bgolyb. No matter how much he wanted to take down the Landdwellers he had his priorities and loyalty to his mission and The Empress before anything else. Long story short? He didn’t have any other choice than to follow you!

    Apparently you lingered a little bit too long. He pointed his weapon at you, and fired without any remorse or hesitation. Luckily for you, you still had half a brain to not move away as by then the boat would become second target. You spun your trident again, precisely managing to throw the spear of the harpoon out of track. Not without harm. It graced your arm and proved its sharp edge by slicing your skin open. His eyes widened for a moment before narrowing, realizing what was going on.

    It also created the perfect opportunity for you to go.

    Before the harpoon had the time to get back to him, while he moving should tangle up his weapon, you took off. Your eyes only settled down deep in the darkness, not even bothering to look up anymore. That would be to slow down, and that was the last thing you needed.

    You emptied you lungs from the last air they kept, relying only on your gills to make it easier for you to sink down further. It wasn’t like you were in a hurry to get up rather than down right now. The prickling on the back of your neck told you that you had been right about the fact that he settled for you first. And that he was catching up. The only thing keeping you going was the fact that it wasn’t too much distance left, and you had nothing to lose by using less than your full strength.

    He unloaded the harpoon from his back, swirling it around with ease and once again pointing it directly towards you. You couldn’t stop and surely wouldn’t be able to block it again with your back turned. Switching directions would slow you down and he would catch up. All in all you had no choice but to continue and hope that he would miss for some reason.

    He didn’t miss, because he never shot.

    Before you managed to understand why nothing had happened you looked up and to the sides just in time to see white tentacles blocking the way, a myriad of them closing around you like a huge cage. From the cracks made in the walls of your lusus (no, right now, she was only Gl’bgolyb, emissary of the Horrorterrors) you heard him curse and his expression turn into something of anger and confusion. The tendrils didn’t close in, did nothing to harm or threaten you.  It was rather that they held their distance from you while at the same time holding him away. 

    She was protecting you.

    You floated in the water, still for a moment before you continued down the black road bordered by Gl’bgolyb. 

    The feelings circulating inside you were strange. Safety and anxiousness coming from the same core as stress, you had to hurry at the same time you had to take your time. Show respect. It wasn’t long until you saw her face, and you continued forward, knowing from experience that if you had got this far she would allow you to go further.

    It wasn’t like she would eat you.

    Yet as you reached forward, slowly, you were for the first time in your life unsure about your lusus. This nervous fear, was it what everyone else felt in front of Gl’bgolyb? But you weren’t everyone else. You were the heiress, the reluctant Empress to be.

    Truthfully, you had never wanted to be The Empress.

    Never wanted to think about sitting on a throne, alone, with dolls kneeling in front of you and whispering shadows behind you. At every moment you would have knives against your fins, just out of reach to do any real hurt before the right moment. Knives broken in shards of those who hated everything your status stood for. The false love of those who swore you loyalty, the hate of those oppressed souls who would never trust you: the ignorant Seadweller queen. Look how she want to help us, sheltered little girl. That was what you didn’t want.

    So you had found a way to live, speaking with trolls from all over the hemospectrum on trollian, talking enough that they were no longer treating you like a weak shell of nacre. That they joked with you, endured you, and fought with you. With the game, you thought you finally had got a choice, a way of escaping that destiny.

    You no longer had a choice in the matter. You smiled slightly, feeling warmth of your fronds, your friends as you gathered in a ring all together. Fighting together for a common goal once again. Now you knew that you no longer had a choice of choosing the way you were supposed to go, but if you had a choice….

    It would lead to the exact same thing.

    Your fingers finally reached her beak, and without further ado you patted it devoid of fear. You were the heiress. The Empress to be, with all the means that came with it. Blood was still silently seeping out from the wound the adult had made and now a small tentacle gently wrapped itself around your arm. You let her, as Gl’bgolyb felt your blood. The same running through her vessels and the same as The Empress’s: fuchsia royalty.

    This was the core test. To see if she accepted you, or refused you. When you felt that small spark of something you couldn’t place, you grinned happily.

    A soundless bubble escaped from her mouth, like a laugh or her equivalent of a smile, approving you as her daughter once again. Out from her tentacle came smaller strings, locking together your bloodstreams for only a moment, sealing the deal. It didn’t hurt, didn’t burn as she made you more than you were before. She made you a true successor of the Empress, as you had finally agreed to become just that. But to say that you didn’t feel anything, would be the understatement of the sweep!

    You could feel everything.

    Life pulsated around you like tendrils of energy. Seaweed sticking to everything living and floating around in the water of the world. It almost felt like you would be able to touch the strings with your own hands, twist them and break them and suddenly you wanted to pull your hand away, wanted that power to disappear.

    But by now you knew it was too late, and in difference to what you felt the vines of life didn’t break when you moved you hand. You couldn’t touch them, not yet, not before you gained the full power and not this miniscule part of it. A small victory only came as you realized who this small part had come from, like a tugging in your very soul.

    You could feel her.

    You could feel The Empress just as well as if she stood back to back with you, your life energies wrapped together in a knot like you came from the same core. And she distinguished you, she watched you, felt the bond split and join and she sensed how your grip on your trident tighten just as much as you felt her clutch the sides of her throne.

    The throne you wanted, the one you had to have.

    You posed a challenge, a threat and you straightened up to show that you wouldn’t back down. Not anymore. Before the feeling faded down to a slight pulsating feeling in your skin like a second blood-pusher, you felt her smile, felt her laugh and it was no doubt in your mind what she meant by this.

    “Challenge accepted, little Heiress.”

    Chapter Text

    Not all Highbloods are evil.

    Even though that seemed to be the common opinion it wasn’t pure, crystal-clear truth. Just as Lowbloods weren’t always pests, Midbloods weren’t always weak. What was truth was that it was not often one drifted from the normal stereotype without a legit reason. Your group had been a special case, but not different from most. Feferi was kind, but she had her privileges just as much as she knew it would come naught from joining up with the rest in her caste.

    You didn’t think it was necessary to talk about yourself. Vriska and Equius had both been typical Bluebloods, lower Highbloods with one who did as she wanted and one who followed the rules to literally his last breath. Gamzee was weirdly different in the beginning, disregarded as a mistake, but the matter proved its point. (Not that he would have had any remorse killing you or Vriska or anyone else really). But no matter what, he ended up okay even without the sopor and with his morail.

    The keyword here is ‘morail’.

    Even a Highblood, one who isn’t a total hemofacist, would be troubled if their quadrant got hurt only because someone higher up on the spectrum was allowed to play. Why shouldn’t that troll feel anger about the system, at that moment? Knowing that no one would be able to help, everyone would turn their eyes away because this was how it was supposed to be. It’s your fault for having such a bad taste in quadrants.

    But there was still a second side to the coin. One that was not as normal and one that you’d never thought you would gather any harm from.

    A Highblood having a Lowblood quadrant, or more than one, was doomed to be slightly looked down on depending how he or she treated them. But how about a look from the other side: A Lowblood having Highbloods quadranted. They would not be touched by other Highbloods, hell; they might even get privileges depending on how good they were at staying in the shadows, in their place and didn’t press anything. Sometimes only that made someone float higher.

    And if all that came together, it really wasn’t such an offshoot chance that a Lowblood would come to like the system.

    It wasn’t really such a hard truth. Just one none in the rebellion had considered.

    You even dared to say this was lots more dangerous since the Lowbloods would never trust a Highblood. No matter how much cold blood they spilled they would still be seen as an enemy, ready to strike and turn coat at every tidal-wave. Too easy, they trusted a Lowblood with a sad story. Too easy they fell because of their own, blind hate and solidarity.

    Now it was up to you to blind those trapped on the other side in the story. It wouldn’t be hard, barley like acting. It was more to sink back into who you could be and let go of compassion and worry, pretty much relaxing without the fear of a chainsaw through your chest. They saw what they wanted to see, as apparent by this ‘opportunity’. Fear was repulse, loyalty was pride. A young, rash Seadweller who had been forced to stay and act with the rebellion.

    Well, that was what you hoped that they would see.

    The rustblood seemed convinced enough. From her point of view, had you probably only been in the wrong place at the wrong time and it was fully understandable to be scared of the Subjugglators. That what was they were after; control through terror, but, she warned, it wasn’t really good to take it up with them. They had little patience with mocking.

    Hiding the shudder with a roll of your shoulders, you agreed. You’d noticed that in the past.

    A castle (more like a small city) spread out before you, for a moment making you forget to hold you face in favour of showing the awe in plain sight. These kinds of fortresses had been ruined, disassembled, or fallen apart in your time. There was no one left to use them after the revolution of the Summoner and the drones had left them (especially the palaces above sea) to rot. It was elegant and powerful, everything you had wanted to live in as a child and if you were right, there were trolls as high as Seadwellers living here. The castle had a tail dipped into the rippling sea, a comfortable way for those gifted with gills to enter.

    When you got closer the fact became even more obvious, structure built like it was supposed to be at the bottom of the ocean and just happened to find itself on land. All for trolls like you, who liked to take out the privilege of choosing both water and air instead of just one like the majority did.

    (The whole structure screamed class and case, and it was with immense relief that you convinced yourself that this wasn’t a place for Subjugglators. They had their own playground).

    It was otherwise such a clear Highblood-estate. Without really thinking about it, you angled your look towards the rust on your left.

    If you were to judge her not purely on blood, you guessed she’d be somewhere around green. At least until you got to the gate of the palace, and you saw the two Blueblood guards nod courtly at her. If they were anything like Equius (they sure were buff enough and it wouldn’t surprise you the slightest bit if your ‘bl00 bl00d’ ally shot up in height just as much as them) they would have ignored her with all their might. They didn’t, so higher green at least.

    Then their eyes switched over to you, the complete lack of surprise one of the most unnerving things that had happened until now. They didn’t say anything more than two single words, giving you the high feeling that this had been a bad idea.

    “Welcome home.”

    The red band had been hidden in one of your rings, never seen unless taken off. As you rubbed your knuckles in a fit of discomfort, you kind of missed the feeling of fabric against your finger along with the cold metal. It was a small bit of home, materialized pride. The rebellion had not been a ‘home’, hardly something safe, but this was far from it too. Now you guessed that you should be happy that you didn’t carry any outright proof of your alliance with the rebellion.

    They would want something in return; it was obvious that they weren’t taking you in from the kindness of their hearts. Information was probably the major player, but about what you couldn’t fathom. They probably knew much more than you about the rebellion, so it was more likely to be about the small accessories to the rebels.

    By now, with the kind knowledge of Miss Spy, they probably knew about Feferi. Did they want personal information on her? Probably. You’d have to do that as fleeting as possible, avoiding the questions while still giving answers. Shouldn’t be too hard, you could only ramble on about the small things you knew.

    Or maybe they wanted to know more about the mutants.

    Kar was your best gossiping buddy… were, or, whatever. In his own, loud way he had cared for you at your worst. That was why you spared him. He had done nothing to deserve your lack of hope and in that moment you found no reason to end him. Right now you found the will to even do the opposite and save him, your own way.

    Even if that only meant for you to lie your ass off.

    “I need to fill out some forms, don’t get in any trouble.” The woman said, addressing you with that same annoying happiness that she’d also kept in the rebellion. Not one expression had changed. Only now the words sounded more like a warning to not destroy whatever trust they had in you.

    It was not an opportunity to survey your surroundings you were about the pass up on. No one seemed to bother with you, not even look at you weirdly as you passed the adult trolls (some even nearing your own age) in the building. Just another night and none seemed to bother about a young Seadweller running the halls.

    Maybe it also was because you knew exactly what you were looking for.

    If anything, you were a Seadweller at heart and body, and if you needed a way out, it had to be by the water. Obviously there were no signs, and you couldn’t ask anyone without completely ruining practically everything. You sighed, standing in a crossroad of corridors and looking down each one of the carefully. Sure would help having a map, or Vriska’s sense of direction. (Honestly you didn’t know if she’d actually been able to know the ways on her treasure hunts, or if her luck had shown the way. Either way you would never admit to her that she’d be good to have here).

    Before seeming too suspicious you simply headed down the one of your right, stairs further down in the castle urging you on.

    It hurt your pride admitting you had no idea where the halls had led you to. You didn’t know if it was for better or worse that the pack of trolls seemed to disband, distance between the workers become longer and longer the more you walked. Soon you didn’t see anyone at all, the steps of your boots the only thing echoing in the bright halls.

    Maybe you should turn around.

    You shrugged back, body tense as you looked up at the troll beside you. Why hadn’t you noticed until now! The troll didn’t move, and letting yourself calm down the slightest bit more you understood why. The fact was even more horrifying as you recognized the girl, her blank eyes made out of colourful stones looking down at you without seeing.

    It was a statue of Feferi.

    With shaky hands you removed your glasses, shook your head and put them on again. You had to get yourself together and when you actually looked at her, not meeting the expressionless face you shredded the first conclusion you’d got to.  That wasn’t your Fef. The hair was to short, holding a spear rather than a trident in her hand and she looked at least a few sweeps older.

    Almost expecting her (it) to move, you crouched down and looked at the nameplate at the bottom. Making out the name “Peixes” wasn’t hard, it was worse with the state of her first name. It was like it had been scratched away, written and destroyed in an almost ritualized manner. You could guess an “a” somewhere but that was it.

    Dread filled your stomach as you stood up, and faster than before headed further down the hallway, looking right and left at the sides. Sure enough. Along with the paintings more and more statues started to show up. All girls, ages differing from adults to your age to, honestly spoken, children. One girl had her eyes closed and you really felt like bile was going to rise in your constricted throat.

    She couldn’t be older than two or three. She didn’t even carry a weapon, sitting down like she was only sleeping. Your bloodpusher felt like someone squeezed it together in a pain never felt before. They all looked like Feferi in their own way. Not perfect all the time but the hints were there, and it was obvious who they were. Or who they had been.

    Heiresses.

    And one day Feferi was planned to take part in this… trophy hall.

    You couldn’t decide if you wanted to smash all the statues ‘til they became gravel, or throw they into your sylladex if only to move them somewhere where they wouldn’t be  gathering dust and constantly reminders of their failures, and her victory. More than anything you didn’t really want the others to have a single chance seeing this. Especially Fef.

    Before the bad idea could take place in your mind steps echoed slowly through the air, voices accompanying. Without this fact had properly landed in your mind you ducked to the side, apologizing slightly to the statue of an adult heiress with an extraordinary dress covering you well as you sat down hiding.

    “...reely quite the surprise.” What you heard was seemed to be the middle of a conversation, but the meaning of the words fell deaf over your ears as you froze, realization dawning. You recognized the voice just as much as you had recognized the statues of The Heiresses.

    There had been no trolls nearby. No guards. No guards because of course Her Imperious Condescension, Empress of the Alternian Empire, Feferi’s ancestor didn’t need any bodyguards. She could slice down the enemies herself and surely would only see it as a fun pastime. Or maybe because the Grand Glubbing Highblood decided to take a visit today. 

    “LITTLE BIT OF TROUBLE, Empress. Nothing worrisome.”

    Without a thought a hand clasped over your mouth to cease the sound of your own breathing. Your mind didn’t fulfil your wishes and images started to roll in your head. The effect of the chucklevoodoo had disappeared, but your body still remembered every detail, time ticking by and you couldn’t do anything.

    To hell with pretending. Maybe you could act like an arrogant Seadweller to everyone around but not… not to the two most powerful trolls in your whole empire. You wanted to run, but knew that you were at your safest here. If they hadn’t noticed your yet, great! If they had noticed and choose to ignore… that was fine too.  Nothing to complain about.

    The two seemed to stop beside an Heiress just as you had done only minutes ago. You didn’t dare to look out, not even to move slightly from the awkward folding of your legs. They started to hurt, but if you were discovered… well this surely counted like getting into trouble.

    “THE MUTANT TOLD ME about a certain… little girl who SHOULD be here.” The steps came closer again, and you almost had to bite your lip to be quiet. Anger floated together with the fear and anxiety, in your mind making a promise that Fef would never join these halls while you were still alive.  

    “That little gill? She became aquainted with me herself.” The Empress spoke, still talking with a haughty, pleased tone. No wonder why she was called “condescension”.

    “So it’s clear?” Now The Grand Highblood joined with the apparent hilarity of the situation. You couldn’t see what was so funny. “They’ve made their move?”

    “If its war she wants. Its war that shell get.“ As they passed you closed your eyes, somewhere reverting back to a childless logic that if you couldn’t see them, they couldn’t see you either. Maybe it worked, because the voices started to get farther away from you

    “I heard they had kelp from outernians, aliens. ”

    “those nice spectators WE BROUGHT IN have spoken some FUN TALES.” A short, low laugh, before he continued. “ONE little fucker DIDN’T EVEN HAVE REAL LEGS. some miracle technology, FOR THEM TO HAVE.”

    Tavros and the humans. He had to be talking about the sabotaged execution…  could be a good thing to remember that the appearance of the humans might have surprised not only you and Feferi together with the Lowbloods as they returned.   

    “SHOULD BE FUN SEEING what those motherfuckers can do…”  

    The voices suddenly cut off, no, still continuing but muffled and you strained your ears to get a point of what had happened. The muted sounds finally fading away until the only thing you could hear was the royal-blood pumping in your ears.

    Once again you were alone with the watchful eyes of Feferi’s predecessors.

    Probably not waiting as long as you should (considering the risk of being careless) you absconded the hell out of there. You did your best to not run, walking with hurried steps and low head. Pride had to step away if only to make sure no one had a reason to stop you. The shock of hearing the conversation and still walk away with absolutely nothing happening was still dawning on you. But the content was really starting to catch up.

    Feferi had talked to her? Contacted? Some way? Oh cod you really hoped nothing had gone wrong with the small expedition of hers down home. But she had to alive, right? The Condescension wasn’t really about to wage war on a dead person… as if that wasn’t concern enough.

    A fresh breeze of air stopped you and you started heading towards the feeling. Sure enough green light started to pour down on the floor as you came to something of a balcony, one of the doors ajar. Without further ado you slipped out to the edge furthest away, watching the sea roar far beneath you.

    You could jump. Just as you had done with Karkat, just let go and let instincts catch your and bring you into the embrace of the sea. That would be fine. And still not. No. Your fingers clenched around the rail before you forced them to push off, took a step back and breathed in the salty air. Not yet. You couldn’t escape just yet, they’d be after you in a moment even if you escaped by sea.

    That was what they expected.

    They sent you glances, but after being assured you wouldn’t jump, that you had only gone out to take a bit of fresh air, they continued to wherever they were heading. They would not touch you until you showed outright disobedience and that was something you couldn’t afford.

    You turned away from the open space, and headed in to between the palace’s walls again, backtracking your own steps.

    In one of Tavros stupid book for wrigglers, there would probably be something dramatic about how you had to trust your allies to realize the danger on their own, but cull it all, you were known for ruining hope. Those bastards would need your help somehow, even if that meant staying put until the right time arrived.

    Until the war started.

    …you wondered if they had found your note by now.

    Chapter Text

    .....

    ....

    ...

    The winged Knight of Time is used to jump, but he is young and inexperienced to company.

    He do not notice until you grab his arm.

    All you need is a quick push to throw him astray, orange eyes wide and hands reaching out after you even though you both know he won’t stabilize in time.

    With a flash he is gone to the time not where he was supposed to land but where he has to land. If your design for this timeline was to work.

    He will be fine.

    In the meantime you set off to where he was drifting to, setting your sights on a young troll girl fighting slumber in the shadow of morning.

    Her eyes snap up, and in the next moment you’re looking into the eyes of your descendant the Aries, the Maid of Time.

    Your name is the HANDMAID, and everything is about to begin.

    ..

    .

    Chapter Text

    At first you thought you had imagined it, the ping of something familiar only being a trick your mind pulled trying to get you to sleep, the vestige of a dream. Then you looked up, and realized that there was no such thing.

    “Hello.” She spoke, voice soft as silk and broken like a cracked music-box. It was like she didn’t trust her own voice to do its full potential. Slow, trained, focused. You were not scared. The voice was familiar, clear and even dear (not only because the likeness to yours), one that followed you through hazy dreams and led you when you were lost (for better or worse).

    “Ancestor.” You greeted, glancing back for a moment into the deep cave. For once there were no fights, no raised voices. Whatever questions and blame about the nights happenings there were, everything was to be solved tomorrow evening, after a good day’s sleep.

    (That was the order from both of the Cancers. Their powers combined, no one had a chance of resistance as they were sent off to slumber with more or less force, depending on the leader. Somewhere during the commotion, you had managed to slip off to the side. You needed time to think, and strangely that was something you had not much of).

    “What can I do for you?” It was a natural question. You didn’t know what she wanted, finding out was first priority. But she didn’t answer. Instead she tilted her head slightly, continuing like she had trouble finding the right words. They sure surprised you.

    “I am proud of you.” Her words flowed more easily, eyes blinking for the first time since she appeared. “I need your continued help. To end this,” The Handmaid didn’t look like she was asking for help, but rather expected it without hesitation. “To save the friends I never knew.”

    “The ancestors?” You filled in, missing out on her full story but if you put one and one together they had to be who she was talking about.

    “Once they were my friends, or friends of the former me.” Now she was standing close enough for you to make out differences between the two of you. She was thinner, obviously, back straight and way taller. Her horns graciously curled around themselves and the hair flowed down her green dress in a way yours never would, even after battling with a brush. “I want to apologize, and fix what I’ve caused.”

    “So you do it through me, though us.” Her standpoint was clear, but it wasn’t fair. You knew that she had the name Demoness for a reason, but knew that that was all because of Doc Scratch and Lord English. In wrong belief you had also messed with fate and time, but nothing in her scale. Probably, would you never understand the feelings she would have watching her former self with the rest of the ancestors… or descendants in that case, and know that without her, things could still have been alright.  

    “I am the knot tied to fate. You have to kill her, or kill me yourself. I am not allowed to directly interfere.”

    The Empress. The Handmaid didn’t give many clues to explaining, but you knew. A knot is a fixed spot in history, something that was bound to reappear in every instance of time. You knew of her end. Was the Empress killing the Handmaid such a fixed point?

    “But ho-” you started, but never had time to finish the question as a voice interrupted.

    “I believe I am partly to blame for this confusion.”

    You spun at the voice, watching Rose land on the floor. Her body flashed a part of her disappearing in a crack of light before reappearing only a millisecond later. This motion continued, without Rose seemingly taking any notice to the way reality just as much as the air twisted around her. (For a moment you were reminded of when you were younger, once when your husktop was acting up. The screen flashed in a manner very similar to this, and then Sollux calm voice explaining, with the hint of a laugh about your worry. ‘Only a glitch, a small fault in the program, nothing to worry about AA, I’ll fix it.’)

    Your ancestor didn’t look fazed with the new guest, quite the opposite. Her head moved the slightest bit down before going up again, resulting in a tiny nod of greeting. One that Rose Lalonde received and returned just the same. Not like they were friends. Not even acquaintances. But they knew each other, and in any reality where a human knew your ancestor better than you, something was going on wrong.

    For once you were lost completely. You didn’t like being the only one not knowing what was going on. ”Did you know about this?” You inquired the obvious, giving space for the human to explain.

    “I orchestrated it, even.” Rose replied lightly the guilt and sadness in her voice betraying that she knew more than she had let on. “We’ve made a mistake. I didn’t see any other way to escape yet another doomed timeline. I wanted to tell you personally, but apparently I was too late.” She smiled towards your ancestor, who didn’t respond with one of her own.

    Even with how bad it felt, you wondered if she had ever smiled or if she had stayed seemingly like you were, while dead, her whole life. That was a very long time.

    “Why only me?” While asking, you had the answer right behind your tongue. It was only for Rose to take it out of your mouth and put it into words.   

    “Because you have the best chance to understand and I…” She looked down at her hands, fingers twitching out and looking like they were breaking in the very moment. From her expression it proved that she felt nothing of such, and that was probably just as bad. You should know. Emptiness and numbness are enemies. “I’m disappearing.”

    “Will you be fine?” The worry was one you had carried, not knowing what happened when a non-timeplayer went rouge back and through history.

    “I will guide them back,” The Handmaid promised as if to ease your worry more than to help the humans. You quietly wondered if that was the case, and couldn’t decide if that was bad or good. “You only need to worry about leading your mission to success.” Like that was such an easy feat. She took a step towards you extending her hand, then almost directly taking it back before it reached you.

    You got the impulse to reach out and do something, hug her, bring her into the light, just sit down with her. But there was a border around her that you couldn’t breach. One day you found yourself hoping that someone would break it.

    “Be ready when it begins. Time waits for no one, not even us.” She simply said. Somewhere a bell started to ring and you got the feeling that her words were a goodbye.

    “Can we really win?” You asked, stepping forward as if you would stop her from leaving. She turned her head around, hair straighter than yours, falling down over her shoulder. She did not give a smile or anything as much. Instead she only spoke with the same monotone voice sounding like home in your ears.

    “You have to.” She blinked, and disappeared while a sound you couldn’t place resounded in your ears.

    In a way, you guessed that was her way of wishing you good luck, believing that you could only survive, there were no other options such as dying or losing or being captured. You were going to do this and that was it. One last leading order from the one you had secretly followed, often without knowing.

    You gave a smile to the space already empty in front of you. Nothing of this would get your spirit down, quite the opposite. You had control, and with control came maybe not pure power but effectiveness. Already, you felt ideas spur in your mind and almost ran back to the sleeping halls to wake Sollux, even knowing how much he would growl and say he would hate you forever only because it was morning. You did not know exactly what had to be done; only that something did and with that decision you were halfway there.

    You had no other option, and that also applied to the group to everyone in this whole hideout.

    You just had to win.

    If the day’s rest had done anything good to any of you, it all foiled as evening came and the tempo picked up around the cave.

    It didn’t take much to understand the wide of the subject and you stopped in the middle of the corridor, feeling the adults pay you no mind in favour of going around. Your ancestor’s warning seemed so much clearer. Someone pushed your shoulder without apologizing, already far away and you couldn’t find it in you to think of it as rude. 

    Just by nightfall a shelter nearby had been completely wiped out. They had yet to see if the Highblood’s had taken any prisoners at all.

    The body count said no.

    The rebellion was preparing for war, now when their biggest threat was being put on hold. (More and more started to trust Feferi, even and maybe because of the spots of your mission, the stories about the death of the yellow-blood being discussed and argued from both sides).

    Time waits for no one. And you had none left.

    In a way it was lucky that they had neither time nor concern to care too much about the farewell to the humans.

    It felt like Dave had described a corpse-party. Not too much partying, apparently, but a quiet goodbye to someone you wouldn’t meet again. (Not that all of you hadn’t died once or twice and then come back again, but Dave had said that if that kind of thing happened on a corpse-party,  it would be what they called a “zombie-apocalypse”. You didn’t get what wouldn’t be exciting about that funny-sounding word).

    Left on your mind was only the conversation between the Seer of Light, your Ancestor and you. It hadn’t changed much, you still wanted to win still knew that if you lost this, you would create yet another loop of failures. Not only would you suffer but also the alternative versions branching off from this point.

    If you created a knot in time, it might never come undone.

    This was the legacy left by the Demoness, a last chance to stop everything before it begun. Rose might not have known what her actions prevented, or what her actions created and put into play. But you had played this game long enough to know what this all meant. Win or lose. That was it. Step forward because there was no longer any place to step back into, a thought still frightening to you as the Maid of Time.

    And now, you would be the only one left with full comprehension of the situation. No matter how much you wanted to talk to Sollux he wouldn’t understand the fragility of choices. He could always rewrite his programs, create back-ups, erase data and replace it just as easily. You smiled and glanced his way, and like he sensed your look he glanced back, giving a small wave. He was the kind who would try to look after the undo button after doing something wrong in real life, like spilling his drink.

    But no matter how pale you were for your lisping nerd, he wouldn’t understand the same way as your Time-traveling ancestor did.

    You would not have noticed her if you hadn’t known. She was right there in the shadows, but no one detected her in distraction of the lightshow occurring in the middle. You looked away before anyone followed your glance, and when you peeked back towards the same spot, she was gone.

    You would have kept looking for her, watching if you could keep up with her movements, but suddenly in the back of your head you could hear something other than your bloodpusher beat, a small melody that you had carried came back and you wondered how you could have forgotten it at all. An insistent ringing growing stronger with every passing second.

    Time greeted you in a passing. And called them home.

    “Good luck!” You looked up at John’s voice, the god still smiling even with his body slowly being cut and copied to its original place. Truthfully you didn’t know him as well as some of the others (Vriska really didn’t like the thought of a potential permanent goodbye) but it was sad to see them go. For all of you. 

    “Just fucking go already.” Karkat sounded impatient, Gamzee hanging over his shoulders, but you didn’t think he meant was he said, just as usual. No doubt the humans knew that too. 

    “Hopefully we’ll see you later.” Rose said, dropping her hand from where she had held Kanaya’s and then glanced towards you briefly. Her eyes widened, as if she suddenly remembered something she should have told. Her mouth moved soundlessly, and you caught one word displayed in forced silence to you: 'David'.

    And that was it. There were no huge flash, no dramatic explosions or sounds or really anything. The music in your head simply stopped, paused without returning and you found yourself missing the sound already disappearing from your memory. The cave seemed darker than before as you stared at the empty space left behind.

    They were gone.

    The only thing left was the sudden enraged yell from Feferi.

    Chapter Text

    ”Whater you mean he’s gone!” Feferi’s face smelled more purple than usual, puffed up with anger. The Dolorosa was already there, bowing down to her eye-level. “He hasn’t betrayed us.” Feferi still claimed, voice certain. You frowned, listening in to the conversation without interfering.

    “No one thinks so. We’re also worried.” The Dolorosa comforted Feferi with a calm, soothing voice missing any kind of uncertainness. Apparently a troll capable of taking in a mutant grub had no problem pacifying a princess.

    It had only been a matter of time until she discovered what you had been too late to see, metaphorically speaking in your case. You didn’t want to believe it either… no. You couldn’t believe it. The law said that one was deemed guilty until proven guilty, but in this case it seemed kind of hypocritically to follow the law. Law was not the same a justice, was what you told yourself.

    Without a word you turned heel, and walked away.

    You should be concerned, it was worrisome when anyone disappeared, but the situation at hand lacked certain means of… noise. The cane started to twirl in your hand as you walked the halls to think better (once in a while you felt it hit something or someone, but they were all too busy to yell at the blind girl to look where she was going. Boring persons).

    You needed to get away from everyone to think.

    What you needed was a reliable witness, a clue of some sort. But everyone you had asked was either too busy or didn’t remember anything strange going on the night when the Gl’bgolyb-squad had gone out. You just needed a place to start; running around all over the HQ would both irritate the rebels and waste time.

    You stopped, smacking the tip of your cane back in the ground as a thought occurred, a missed clue that someone had hidden from you and by all means you would have to punish that special person. It didn’t matter who it was, justice was justice.

    Swinging your weapon up, you drubbed yourself in the head.

    The last person who had seen him… well you didn’t know who had last seen him but you sure knew who had been the last person of your group to be with him. The missing witness of this mystery, was your own self! What a twist!

    When you started walking again, it was with a place and purpose in mind. Lack of noise meant that Eridan might not have been strictly kidnapped, he would with no doubt have shown disdain towards your faceless assailant, but maybe… coerced? Surely if your enemies had been after a hostage or anything likening, they should have picked someone else.

    The list was long.

    Maybe he had found himself in danger, or seen himself as a danger it didn’t matter anyway. Eridan would not walk away without anything. It wasn’t his style. You stopped before a corner, putting yourself out of sight as Kanaya and Sollux passed by without noticing. You didn’t want to lead anyone on without further proof.

    Going on. If he now wouldn’t want to disappear into thin air, and in the possibility that he couldn’t tell anyone… What would he leave, or rather, where. You didn’t have something qualifying as a home or personal space here. Sleeping places were switched regularly, secret meetings held wherever and whenever as possible. So if he was to leave a message, where would he go?

    The net he had fixed still lay on the ground, barely moved from the spot but it was much harder for you to smell the individual ropes binding it together. It had been knotted together in what could only be called a mess, probably giving the next person trying to untangle it a major headache. Probably, that was also the reason no one had cared to touch it since the last time you had been here together with the missing prince.

    You crouched, resting on the tip of your feet while poking the vanilla-ness with your cane. You found a hole but trying to lift only that part of the net up, rest followed just as easily. Your mouth pressed together to a thin line. You had the feeling that it should be something important here to your investigation, but your smell-o-vision was not sharp enough for this job. It was not often your lack of sight was a weakness, more than often it was a help after strengthening your other senses.

    It was strangely weird.

    Before you even had the time to consider getting help from anyone with a little better vision than you, a much calmer-than-before tyrian voice interrupted your pondering. “’Reelzi? They are planning some tactics I think you would…” Feferi trailed off. “What’s that?”

    Perfect.

    “Why Miss Peixes.” You grinned up at her. “This is an on-going crime-scene if you mind. The protocol says I have to escort you away, but since you are a friend of the currently missing Mr Ampora, I’ll let this slide this once.”

    “The Guardian said they would help soon, Cullofficer Pyrope.” Feferi pointed out, even as she sat down beside you and fingered slightly on the net lying in front of you both. You clicked your tongue against the top of your mouth, shaking your head.

    “Soon is not soon enough. With this mess, the true investigation won’t start until you have been crowned Empress.” If her shoulders sagged just the slightest bit, you didn’t take notice to it while you prodded on the ball of white. “Why don’t you help me with this mess, literally?”

    Feferi began, and with swift fingers the blur started to revert back to the pattern it held before. It had been the right choice to pick Feferi for help, a Landdweller had probably taken a lot more time than Feferi’s twisting and shaking until you both heard something drop out from the loose ball of rope.    

      A small paper lay crumpled on the ground, something that a normal person would see like careless punishable littering, but as you rolled it around with your cane you felt the aroma of something fishy. Both literally and figuratively. You struck it towards Feferi with your cane.

      “Read it out loud, fellow investigator.”

      She unwrapped it carefully, making a slightly surprised noise before speaking.

      “Land polluted the wwater
      Maybe the sea wwas poisoned from the beginnin
      noww drops slipped into the ground.
      And wwith poisoned ground comes poisoned growwth.
      It all starts again.”

      Feferi snorted, trying to choke a laugh with her hand. “He really is melodramatic all the time.” She said, probably eying through the message, the poem, one more time. You simply repeated it in your head.

      You took your time, thinking about the words and most importantly thinking about the writer’s personality. No matter how objectively you had to be in the matter of investigation, disregarding something important as an idea based on your own knowledge of the missing Mr A was a clue that you couldn’t let it fall.

      Melodramatic, sure, but he wasn’t going to leave a random poem at a place where you, specifically you, would be able to find it. The thoughtful expression on your face exchanged into one more comfortable: a grin. But really, he could have been a little bit more secretive about the meaning.

      “Water is Seadweller, obviously. Or Highblood.” You started, taking the paper and giving it an experimental lick. Salt. Maybe fallen off from the ever-staying layer the Seadwellers’ always had? “And with that logic, earth is Lowblood. So if water poisons the ground…” You quieted down, not only for dramatic effect but also in sudden paranoia that someone would listen in.

      Someone not meant to listen, even if you would probably been able to smell them coming miles away.

      Instead Feferi finished your conclusion on her own. “Poisoned growth, a spy?” She looked at you for confirmation, and you nodded grin still held on your face like a trophy. Feferi made a humming noise from the back of throat, moving closer until you felt her hair tickle down your knee. He voice was hushed, but not whispering. “And what does that mean to us?”

      “It means that the Highblood forces are probably on their way as we speak.” Feferi almost smacked into your head as she snapped around to the voice, while you used your cane to push you up to standing, before twirling around on the spot. Smiling at Karkat.

      “It’s not nice to sneak up on someone Mr Greyfa…” You stopped, pulling in another sniff through your nose before deciding your smell hadn’t deceived you. “…Mr Cherrytop?”

      The groan coming from him was surely accompanied with a roll of his eyes, and you could hear his new shirt ruffle as he folded his arms over the new red sign at his chest. “I know this is going to be extraordinarily hard for you, but try not to mention it too much. I still can’t believe I let him talk me into this.” He muttered grudgingly.

      “Anyway.” He continued and dropped the arms to his side. “If you two haven’t noticed, we’re packing up and getting the hell out of here. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be here when they come.”

      “Where are we going then, oh great leader?” You inquired, and Karkat made something sounding like a tired sigh.

      “From the looks of it? To Her Imperious Condescension’s front door.” You raised your eyebrows in silent question, and surprise. “Actually I was looking for our escapee princess.” He made a slight motion towards Feferi. “Are you ready?” He asked, never needing to clarify the one job she had in front of her.

      “Do I get a choice?” She laughed, only the slightest bit of wavering let through her teeth. 

      “Sorry, no. I was just being polite.” Karkat admitted honestly, but that was something you all knew. After a bit of poking around you put your hand on her shoulder, and you could feel them relax in defeat. Karkles had been right, it was now or never.

      They were already waiting for you when you arrived into the gathering hall. You pushed through the trolls, who split with a little encouragement. The slurry of colours was like the most delicious treat for your nose. Hopefully the spice of grape missing would wait for you, and if your deducing was right, he would be waiting to help.

      Vriska met your unseeing eyes and you raised one hand up towards her, a movement she copied as you clasped hands for a short second before dropping. The smirk on her face matched your grin. Once partners, always partners.

      You slung your one of your arm around Sollux’s shoulder, feeling his psionic power respond to the touch. He was completely reset to his former power, allowed by the Psiioniic to join the battle. They didn’t have the manpower to keep anyone out from harm, and probably knew that your group would help whatever they liked it or not.

      You could win or you could loose, no matter what you wouldn’t be returning here anymore. It almost felt sad. Almost being the keyword here. Excitement was all you felt as The Signless stepped up to give his followers one last speech, a pep-talk towards battle. You didn’t listen; found it more interesting to hear his followers respond to the words. Karkat didn't really have anything much better to say as he turned to face you.

      "Let's go kick some ass."

      It worked just as well.

      Chapter Text

      Your breath was clouded, consciously kept down in sound to go unnoticed.  Your whole body was rigid, ready to spring at any given moment. Any moment your ancestor gave you the sign to continue. Her motions were silent, not like yours “silent”, but that in actuality you couldn’t hear the pace of her bare feet on the ground.

      You wondered if you could ask her to hunt with you, when all this was over. You’d never really had a partner, Equius was usually strictly against it, so it would be a first.

      She disappeared behind an open gate, matching the shadows as she moved. Not long after you heard the soft grunt as she silenced the guard watching over the small gate (the closest you had found to a back-door of the palace). The Disciple beckoned for you, and after deeming the situation safe you hurried over and inside. Equius was close behind you, as you moved by the inner wall, trying to avoid discovery and suspicion.

      The place looked deserted. Maybe because far away you could hear the sound of the main battle, the “front door attack”. Maybe and more likely because there was absolutely nothing here to protect. You were still in the outer ring of the palace. You’d have to get further in to make any difference that mattered.

      Suddenly the Disciple grabbed your hand and moved quickly, almost making you yelp in surprise, dragging you behind a corner of what looked like an abandoned guardhouse. You got down maybe a half a second after your ancestor, her movements smooth and effortlessly fluent. Equius was not far behind, and the two of you hid behind the Disciple as she held a hand up motioning for you to stay quiet and wait for orders.

      You were far away from unused to battle. As a Huntress you lived for the thrill of hunt and battle, but you also knew that straight up attack was not always the most significant. At this very moment, stealth was the key to victory. If you were quick and sneaky enough one might take down prey bigger than oneself.

      The most important knot in this situation was that you had to get Feferi into the heart of the castle. Running straight in wouldn’t work. You had honestly no idea where to go! Instead you split, three times in total. You and Equius moved with the Disciple, Kanaya Gamzee and Karkitty followed Fefurry… the rest had stayed to fight. In difference to the adults you were small and had a better chance to avoid discovery, and so you moved in smaller groups to finish the best mission you could think on at spot.

      Find a way in, get attention away from the heiress.

      So far it had worked. But the Highbloods had not been as stupid as you’d thought. It had probably only been enough time for them to realize that the heiress wasn’t with the attack force at the front. They had started to search the outer wall for troupes like yours. One was coming close your way, a greenblood threshecutioner.

      Should not be a problem, but if he called for help…

      Well actually that wouldn’t be a too bad thing, as it would attract attention that otherwise might endanger Fefurry! But on the other hand it might become too much to handle even with the three of you, and you didn’t even know if the “cull the condescension” squad already was in trouble!

      “We have to meet up with them again…” you whispered into her ear, and her head bobbed down once in consent. Her green eyes were narrowed as they followed the guard without blinking. Then suddenly she was turned to you.

      “Good luck kitten.” The Disciple’s hand stroked your hair in that weird not-morailly way and you play-purred in response. She laughed before her face fell. Before you could catch what was happened she had already swirled around claws out and ready for attack as she all but pounced towards the Highblood guard.

      “Nepeta. Let’s go.” For a moment you had been scared that Equius wouldn’t have let you join the battle. Then it surprised you even more when he instead offered to follow you and scout, clear a path. Now you ran, there was no place for stealth, no place to hide unless you found a way into the castle itself.

      You followed the high inner-wall as you looked for some sort of entrance, ay sort of gate that you could succeed to enter without too much harm, but the matter seemed impossible. You stopped, pressing yourself against the stone as you heard voices in the distance. Not coming closer, but neither going away.

      Guards standing on the same spot. You couldn’t go forward, you couldn’t go back. The only place left was…

      Equius put his hands together and kneeled down. Even without him telling you what to do you stepped into the cradle his hands formed and with a strong push upwards you were flying over the wall. You landed on all fours and crouched down towards the ground, looking around with sharp eyes.

      You had to see the enemies before they saw you. Hunt them down before they delivered the first attack.

      Deeming that it was save enough, hopefully most of the Highbloods had been distracted by the commotion up front, you looked down the wall and waved towards Equius, who braced against the ground and then jumped. He landed hard beside you and you looked around once again to make sure no one had heard the thump.

      Apparently they hadn’t, because you weren’t dead yet.

      The wall came close to a window of the castle and without slowing down you jumped over the distance, landing with a roll inside the hall. A hall which, apparently also was deserted. With Equius also safe inside, you set off again before he could nag about being impulsive.

      Then suddenly you almost tripped as a large sound was heard, a noise, a loud growl you couldn’t place, and the ground shook under your feet. And then you missed Equius’s shout of warning, before you ran straight into something. Someone. You looked up with a spinning head and watched the Executioner tower up above you.

      -------

      You were staring into the sharp edge of an arrow.

      Nepeta scrambled back and up against you as her former good mood exchanged into caution.

      The hand holding the string in place didn’t shake. Was it not for the way his chest slowly heaved up and down in deep controlled breaths, he looked more like a statue. You took a step forward, meeting his shrouded glare with your own and tried to hide Nepeta behind you. Separating the two with your body as a wall. With a little luck she would actually stay there.

      Your ancestor. A man who you hated as young, believing he had disgraced the Sagittarius’ sign without means. One who now stood on what you should consider the ‘right’ side, but by obvious reasons was still against you. How troublesome.

      “You are members of the rebellion.” It was not a question. It was hard fact from his side of truth. You couldn’t imagine he would listen to you explaining that you might not have a choice, but even before you thought of something to say it was Nepeta who stepped up.

      “Yes!” Nepeta answered in your place, voice proud and certain. You cursed the part of you that actually believed that she’d back down without a fight. For a moment he stared at her, and if you didn’t know better you thought he looked surprised. When you looked again his face was just as stoic as his whole being appeared. Once again, he looked at you, ignoring the greenblood hanging on your arm. Not even regarding her with an answer.

      “Why? A member of your caste…” Of his own sign, even. It surprised you how little you cared of the disgust in his voice, maybe because you deep in your memories could understand the confusion and utter scepticism he displayed. In a way you could still understand him, but that didn’t mean you didn’t have a reason.

       “The rebels are not the ones pointing an arrow towards my morail’s chest.” You didn’t need to fake the copied disgust dripping of your words.

      His eyes were on Nepeta again and you straightened your back.

      No doubt his arrow would pierce your body and continue into hers, but standing in front of her still felt like the right choice. Then his eyes switched over to you, the arrow straightening further back on the bow. You could not see his eyes, hidden behind the helmet, but the way his face strained you could almost know he was narrowing them.

      Nepeta stepped out from your protective shadow and even while she seemed docile, you felt her body was ready to spring at any given moment. Spring in front of you if necessary, you also realized.

      “If you are anything as stubborn as Eq. I know you will not budge for words only. But we are only fighting for our sake. Are you?”  She began with the same childlike voice you were so used to, but then in dropped down to something more resembling her ancestor. Was it something she had picked up from the Disciple? Maybe the ancestor game more influence on Nepeta than you had expected. Honestly you weren’t sure what you felt about that. You made a mental note to talk to your morail about this. “If you believe we are wrong, you cull us.”

      You were so close to snap at her for challenging him, if only in worry. Never have you wanted to do anything other than hold her close and protect her. With whatever cost. You didn’t care what happened to yourself as long as you knew she was safe, an idea stuck in your mind that Nepeta had tried to kill. Especially after what happened last time, the time when you didn’t trust in her to solve the problems appearing in your way.

      For what felt like an eternity, nothing happened. You clenched your fists, wondering how quick you could disarm him if it was even possible. It was not. The string flying loose would happen before you even saw it. Before the thought to move reached your muscles.

      The arrow sunk. He closed his eyes with a sigh. And didn’t open them. 

      It took a while to realize that he wasn’t going to attack, and even longer to understand why. What he didn’t see didn’t happen. If he didn’t see the intruders there had been none he could report. Nepeta tilted her head in question, yet to understand, and you gave her a light tug before testing the waters.

      He didn’t move as you walk around him, and Nepeta finally understood as a smile spread on her face. If not this had been such a serious occasion she would with no doubt have pounced him, and you would have stopped her.

      “Thanks, mister!” Nepeta cheered back to him.

       “Just go, children.” He replied courtly, the strain in his voice telling you that he would probably regret this decision in about five minutes. Hopefully he would have better things to do than chase down some ‘pests’ he himself had let in.

      You decided to pull Nepeta along before she tested his patience even more.

      You ran down through the hall, Nepeta leading the way as much as she could. It shouldn’t be that hard to get from west side to east, she convinced herself. You were not accustomed to this kind of enormous building, the hallways crossing each other and it was not too long before you both decided you were lost.

      “Equius come here!” Nepeta waved to you from where she was kneeling at the floor. With a happy grin she pointed at a mark drawn on the wall, something you both recognized.  A small spirograph, obviously much more simplified one than the gates of the game. “It’s Eridan!” Nepeta came to the conclusion as she rose up and stared down the hallway, on which wall the mark had been drawn.

      Without much more, she started to go down the hallway, and you sighed at her impulsiveness.

      “Wait.” You said as you rose up slowly and luckily Nepeta turned around, question already on her face. “Don’t you think it’s better to go where the gate points?” You asked and Nepeta pondered this for a moment before nodding seriously. The choice had been correct, as you found more and more gates pointing the way around the castle. When you heard the sound of battle you sped up.

      You came just in time to see Kanaya loose a fight with her back pressed against a large door.

      Chapter Text

      The noise around you almost made you flinch.

      Almost, as you knew hesitating would more likely lead to your death. Almost as in the flinch increasing into a full movement as you dodged the morning-star flung towards your face. You almost wanted to apologize as it hit the troll next to you, before realizing that that person had been an enemy.

      You think.        

       It was hard to see a difference. At least no one mistook you for a Highblood enemy, with your big horns and brown blood dripping down your arm. (When had that happened? you hadn’t noticed). For once you counted yourself a little bit of lucky; your horns were well used in battle even while they only made you clumsy in everyday life.

      It had gone well, better that you all had hoped. This battle. At least until the Subjugglators showed up. Instincively you dodged into the crowd to avoid detection from the Grand Highblood, running into Terezi. Surely her nose had been able to sense the blood smell suddenly escalating.

      “It has been nice knowing you all.” Terezi’s voice was dripping with a dreaded sort of sarcasm, before she laughed, eyes staring far away from the troll she dodged and then struck down. “Okay no it hasn’t but you get the point.”

      In the middle of the fight was Aradia. She was standing still and looked highly concentrated on something completely different than the battle raging on all her sides. The Air around her seemed to crack, distort, pulsate and even if most couldn’t see it they certainly noticed that something was going on.

      And then Aradia screamed. A blood chilling scream filled with pain and fear, voice breaking as she fell down, clasping her hair. A Subjugglator must have got to her. Without hesitation you sprinted up, dagger in hand and sliced towards the blueblood wanting to make something of the opportunity.

      Sollux. She would need Sollux.

      But her morail was far too deep in battle to help, too far away. Instead someone unexpected came to her help.

      “Come on, Megido! You can do better than that!” Vriska yelled, anger, annoyance and a hint of panic in her voice. Whether that was for concern over Aradia or the own pinch in her fight was actually hard to distinguish. “Stand up!” And then her hand was on her temple in a motion you both recognized from your own experience as an anima-telepath, and tensed from former experience of Vriska’s use of her powers.

      “YOU ARE NOT SCARED!”

      For a moment you were terrified. Terrified for Aradia’s sake that her mind would break from two different manipulators and for a moment it seemed that it did. She screamed. And then you realized that it was not from pain or fear but from anger.

      And thee anger blew the fear away.

      Aradia was still shaking like a leaf, but in her eyes were anger and fight, and you let yourself relax just the smallest bit. She bit her lip and spread her arms out once again, moving the fingers like she was playing on something you couldn’t see.

      “I’m… trying to make a call.” She admitted, and while you didn’t quite get what that meant you smiled slightly and what you hoped look encouraging.

      (It probably didn’t, with what wounds you had gathered and the feeling of blood drying on your face. Some yours. Some not). When the sounds of fighting suddenly decreased in favour of screams you whirled around only too look up.

      The Grand Highblood.

      Instinctively you felt your mouth dry, completely natural fear as you watched him get closer. A mad thought appeared in your mind. You sure couldn’t stop him, but if anything, you could keep the Grand Highblood from noticing Aradia.

      And so you moved and threw your lance as hard as you could, a last desperate attempt that you knew would fail even before you started. What you didn’t know was that it would fail so largely. With terror you watched the Grand Highblood turn to and catch it. He caught it. He caught your lance without even trying, and with wide eyes you watched his hand squeeze.

      Your weapon cracked like a toy in his hand, and the broken bits fell down on the ground. His eyes were locked on you and it felt like you died in that very moment.

      “give up little one.” His voice was chillingly affectionate, none the less terrifying.

      He didn’t have to use his fear-manipulation to make you willing to do his bidding, but you couldn’t fail. They couldn’t attack Feferi, not the others, before they were done with their mission. A mission probably harder than this, much harder than keeping the main forces occupied. You kind of hoped that they would succeed anyway. You would die tonight, and you were suddenly grabbed with fright that it would be of naught.

      You stole a glance towards Aradia.

      She was standing straight up, eyes closed and fingers laced into her own hair, cupping her ears as if listening to something far away. Or something really close. Maybe both. Her head snapped to the side, as if suddenly getting notified and even through the curls of her hair you could see a small smile forming.

      She drew her hands down from the sides of her face, settling them into position slightly out from her body, like she was resting them or holding up something not present to your eyes. Then there was a moment, only a small moment when she moved her hand that it was like the whole world slowed down.

      Sounds distorted. Even the dust flowing up from the ground seemed to move in slow-mo. Alternia stopped spinning. And it all lasted only the time it took for you to blink before everything sped up with terrifying force.

      A scratch in time. A mark.

      A call.

      “Okay. So who ordered a pizza?” To someone who actually answered (with some weird earth-joke you didn’t catch the reference too) as a new voice appeared in front of you and you couldn’t help but to grin broadly up at David. He gave a smirk and his hand before he pulled you up.

      “Dave!” You heard Aradia shout as she turned your way, taking a sprint through the crowd too busy fighting to notice the strange addition to the team.

       “You have no idea how hard it was to find you. Your timeline is a mess. No offence.” Davesprite smiled and shrugged, before something started to ring in your ears. While most seemed to ignore Davesprite, you still threw yourself to push him away as The Grand Highblood attack, screams resounding from those around you who had not time to get down as his club swiped right over your bodies.

      A quick check made sure that none of your friends had got struck. You didn’t have the time, nor the strength to hold out against him. For a moment your mind was racing through the possibilities as quickly as the fear in your mind grew deeper.

      Then a mess of black and jade landed in your middle. The Dolorosa rose gracefully before she moved her feet quickly in moments reminding you of Kanaya. Her fingers moved, and suddenly your enemies around you screamed as if they’d been cut by a thousand blades.

      “I’m sorry, too be so late.” The Dolorosa said as her fingers moved the invisible strings around her, eyes trained at the Grand Highblood with an anger you wouldn’t want directed at you. Her strings still hung in the air around you, shivering slightly with blood. You almost felt them touch your skin, but skilfully held out of harm’s way. “Go talk to your strange friend.”

      There was no safe or calm place in the middle of the battle, but at best you could keep away from those who would kill you with a flick of their hands if you weren’t careful. You fought your way and you found a place hidden behind the majestic pillars more likely built for bragging than actual usefulness.

      “Be back in a moment.” David’s wings flapped one more time, and once again he disappeared into thin air, only to return two seconds later. An eyebrow raised behind the glasses as he shrugged at your surprised glances. “What, I said a moment didn’t I? Really meant it.”

      “So you’ve come to help?” Vriska gave a grin and raised an eyebrow. No doubt that she would rather have John here, but one human (eh, or, half human, you didn’t know if it was discriminating to call David one or the other) was better than no one. But David shook his head.

      “Nope. That’s the rule.” He said courtly, nodding his head towards Aradia. “Unfortunately you already got your timeplayer. I’m not allowed to interfere or some shit.”

      “Sorry.” Aradia apologized for something that wasn’t her fault with a small smile. “He’s really not supposed to be a part of our timeline. We can be here because this is our world… or it will be in due time, and we are a part of it. He isn’t. Don’t shoot the messenger.” She raised her hands in defeat.

      “Tried to get the big Man and the big Mamette here themselves.” He apologized, though not sounding too sorry for failing with what had been his original plan. Whatever it was, or from his words, whoever they were. He shrugged. “Apparently they had their own story to finish. But hey. They sent gifts and regards.”

      He raised a hand and before you knew it, he emptied his sylladex on the ground before you. There was not much, but you still stared at the thing that had pierced the earth, recognizing it but barely believing it.

      The Summoner’s lance.

      You pulled it up from the ground almost tipping over at the weight as you muscles strained to find balance. It was far from your broken weapon. It was heavier, sturdier and you think that it might have been made from bone and then something more? No doubt it would be able to take a lot more hits than your old, wriggler one.

      If only you managed to use it.  

      On the other side Terezi found her way to what looked like the original to her cane-replica. The Dragonhead on it almost looked alive as she sniffed it and grabbing the staff itself with one hand, the head with her other.

      “Do I really have to ask where this comes from?” Terezi’s face scrunched together as she grasped her ancestor’s weapon, slowly sliding the sword from its hold. She tried it out right away, movements naturally more flowing with the sharp, thin rapier. Her movements became quick as she parried Vriska’s broader sword, only to get the end of a gun pressed against her head.

      Vriska let the sword disappear into her strife-specibus and spun the gun once before pointing it away from your group, firing it into the fray of enemies with a mad smile.

      The moment of rest was over, the fight far from it.

      Moment it felt like you would win, that things were going better than before, and then you were forced to realize that you were only holding out against the Highbloods. And that barely. “It’s not enough. It’s nowhere near enough.” Terezi cursed as she missed her target, Vriska’s boot in his back only reason she wasn’t dead yet.

      You bit your lip, knowing that it was true. Even with the combined forces of the rebellion, even with these new weapons (even though the spear was way too heavy for you to use successfully. You would have needed at least a couple of nights to get accustomed to the size) you were slowly loosing.

      If thing continued this way. If not you did something that the enemy would never expect.

      You got an idea. It was an outrageously stupid and rash idea, depending on a lot of things clicking into place at the same time. A gamble. And a large part of this meant you had to trust yourself. And look how that usually ended. But it was better than nothing.

      ”Listen to me!” You yelled out to Vriska, recognizing her immediately through the fighting bodies.

      ”That’s the last thing…” She scowled, spinning around to avoid an attack and used to same force to drive her sword down into someone’s arm, bluish teal sprouting from the gash.

      ”Vriska please. What do you have to lose?” You tried as you backed up to her, a small knife in your hand as you dodged her victim’s rage-filled movements. With one free hand you grabbed her arm and earned a glare. You held it sternly. “I need to talk to David, and you need to cover me.”

      It took a second and a shot to the head to the male teal before she let out a frustrated growl and you pushed yourself through the crowd towards David doing his best to stay out of trouble. Still he held a sword so it probably didn’t go so well. And it kind of seemed like being an unspecified, orange, glowing and flying being didn’t help with his mission.

      “David! Do you think you can manage on more jump?” The sprite looked down at you, sword disappearing as he did a short shrug. “Gonna be my last.” He informed and you breathed out. That was all you needed, or, hopefully. First part of your plan confirmed. 

      “I have a delivery you need to make.”

      You tried putting an image in his mind, like how you communicated and controlled the beast of Alternia and Sgrub, as the humans had said that Davesprite was merged with an animal from their planet. For a moment you thought it wouldn’t work, but then the sprite grinned.

      “You have a sick-wicked mind dude, I like it.” He picked you up under your arms, and without warning pushed off the ground. You didn’t need to talk, directed images straight into his mind and he effortlessly dodged the attacks slowly leaving you alone.

      Hopefully most of them believed that you were running, and well in a way, you kind of were. Though this was more to cheat, than to actively abandoning the team. 

      “Not on my watch!” You heard Vriska scream as she parried an attack meant for you. Her voice could still be heard as David lifted you higher. She was scared, probably, it was kind of hard to know with her but at least you were pretty sure she was a little terrified. “You’ll be paying this back Toreadumb!”

      You breathed in heavily as David dropped you on one of the highest roofs over the battle scene. Actually you hoped that you would be able to pay back, hoped you’d have someone to pay back to. Because if this failed, well, you really hoped someone else would get up with a better idea.

      “This alright?” David asked, tail slithering on the roof as his wing flapped restlessly. You nodded, the height slightly petrifying, and swallowed. You gave him a quick smile, almost missing the flash of pain on his face. His arms were out like he tried to keep balance, tried to keep reality in check around him.

      You wouldn’t hold him away anymore.

      “This is perfect.” You said and he gave a smirk and a nod, before disappearing, looking relaxed at being thrown down into the time flow.  

      There was a crack of light and you wondered if it worked. But trying to get back access to David’s head felt nauseating. He was gone, like he had never been there at all and you knew it you called he wouldn’t hear you. He was sent home, and no doubt the road of which he had come from was as good as rubbish.

      The next noise you heard, was the most beautiful you’d ever experienced. Even if that just followed with the sudden rush of relief. Even when you knew the hardest part was not over. The battle was still raging on below you, but as the same sound washing you with rushes of air reached them it dissipated steadily.

      They looked up.

      Terezi started to laugh like a true madwoman and you watched Vriska’s eyes go wide with shock. Later you would probably use that against her, if the rush of adrenaline beating through your blood kept up at this level. You couldn’t stop grinning as you reached out both physically and mentally to the glorious white beast above you.  

      Then Pyralsprite landed on the top of the castle with an ear-deafening roar.

      Chapter Text

      Never in your life would you have guessed that you would see a real, living dragon right before you. (Other than that picture Terezi sent you when you were younger, when you didn’t believe she had an egg as a lusus, but that didn’t count. It was after all, an egg).

      If one had retold this story to the once young you, he would probably had rolled his eyes and turned back to the computer, long lines of coding in front of him. He would say, words dragging in a lisp, that dragons are, were, rare and almost extinct. It wasn’t like one was going to fly right over your hivestem any day. That was your only chance to see one. The rest of your life would be spent hacking, chatting with friends, feeding your lusus and end your life as a tool for the empire.

      Well. If you had told him you would be fighting at the side of your ancestor towards the core army of The Condesce herself, he would probably have blasted you out of the nearest window.

      Obviously you were not the only one surprised by the change of pace. Enemies just as allies stopped their fighting momentarily to watch the moment the dragon rose from the roof high up, blocking out a chunk of stars. For a moment it was all still.

      Then the dragon dived down towards the crowd.

      You put your hands together, blasting yourself out of the way. A wing came too close for comfort and the rush of wind that followed threw you back, with an extra spin as side dish. A blast from your left hand, (that also conveniently took out an enemy coming too close) helped you stabilize yourself before you lifted yourself higher, getting above the dragon and a good look at its rider.

      Tavros was stationed right between the dragon’s wings, crouching down and holding on to one of the white scales for stability. The metal legs were for once nowhere near clumsy but rather necessary for him to keep balance on the moving beast below him. The dragon didn’t seem to mind him being there, holding still as they hovered above the battlefield.

      And he was grinning; you saw it when he looked up your way. “Watch where you fly with that thing!” You yelled, without being able to fully keep the laughter out of your voice.

      With the fighting momentarily stopped, you were able to make out a small shape at the edge of the crowd. You dived down through the confusion and landed beside your morail. Aradia looked exhausted, but glad. “It worked.” She said with relief so apparent in her voice it made you wrap her in an instinctive hug. She squeezed back, her smile against the crook of your neck before you parted. “We did it.”

      “Hey, not quite done yet down here.” Terezi’s voice cut through, but even she could not hide the glee in her voice. “The Highbloods don’t seem too happy about this whole thing. And Pyralsprite can’t just fire up this whole place without frying us too.”

      “And your plan for this would be?” You looked at her expectantly, not quite liking the daring way the corners of her mouth turned upwards.

      “First.” Terezi pointed up at the white shadow over the field, (actually missing it a small bit too far to the right, but you got the point). “Get me up there.”

      Without arguing you did as she told you, after all, who were you to argue with a seer?

      Terezi hung in the air in front of the dragon. You held her steady, ready to pull her away with the first hint that she was going to end up a snack. But with a little coaxing from Tavros, his hand at the side of his head, the dragon stayed still as Terezi put her hand on the snout.  

      “Hello Pyralsprite,” She all but cackled, staring sightlessly into the red eyes even you couldn’t look at too long. The dragon bowed its head and Terezi waved towards you, motioning for you to let her go. So you did. She climbed atop of the dragon’s head, holding onto the huge white horns as the dragon’s head once again rose.

      If it was possible, she looked even more ecstatic than Tavros. You could understand her viewpoint, but you were fine staying a few meters away from the white beasty. On your side or not, you didn’t really want to be too close to something so big it made you a small fly, and your powers as effective as a dirtnoodle. 

      Something ruffled your hair, the now (way too) familiar feeling of The Psiioniic’s power waving through the strands on your head. “Nice played, mini.” You ancestor grinned. Putting his hands around his mouth likening a megaphone he shouted down at the crowd. “Game over everyone, go home!”

      In retrospect, yelling at a frightened but dangerous core of an army might not have been the brightest idea at the time.

      Your body reacted with pure instinct, psionic power on defence as something flew at you fast and with force. Your ancestor reacted the same way and together you threw the object off course. The club crashed down on the ground again, crushing some unfortunate trolls under its heavy weight. There was a strange taste of bile in your mouth. 

      The Grand Highblood wasn’t looking at you. He was staring up at the Dragon circling the field, her fire rendering the Archeradicators trying to take her down, into burned crisps.

      A wave of fear crashed through you, passing over your body like a chill. The collective shudder told you that you had been far from the only one feeling it. The message was quite clear. You fought or you died. They had more chance to survive battling you than deserting.

       “Fight.” was his only order.

      “Incoming!” Someone screamed, and you watched more enemies well in from the walls around. If it had happened ten minutes ago, the sight would with no doubt have put you in a down. Now, it was good to know that you had drawn the rats out from their hiding place. The fight was more balanced. And that was something that felt right.

      You crossed your arms and looked meaningfully at The Psiioniic, who had stayed beside you watching the scene unfold. “I don’t think they heard you before.”

      “Really, I thought they were attacking because they did?” The sparks flying around him combined with a toothy smile made him look maniacal. Not that you could talk. You most likely looked exactly the same. “Maybe we have to make them listen.”

      “Now it’s only the rest.” You said as you cracked your fingers, firing a bolt of red and blue down towards the enemy. This was all you could do.

      Now it was up to them.

      -------------

      Your small party was moving with swiftness and grace, none of you carrying any weapons out. Having your chainsaw dragging after you would most likely be counterproductive to the whole stealth thing you were trying to carry out. So far it had worked.

      So far the noise from the battle far away was more appealing for the Highbloods than to look for you. But it was only a matter of time before the enemy’s soldiers noticed a distinct lack of the heiress currently running behind you. Gamzee and Karkat was not far behind, both keeping your backs safe from an ambush.

      Being a rainbow drinker helped by making you a regular hunter, and so you had stationed yourself in the front of your troupe. (The bright light your skin also helped, by making you the primary target, something you willingly neglected to mention to your companions).

      It wasn’t easy to get around. The castle was built like a labyrinth with the only purpose of making intruders and outsiders lose their way. It was pure luck that Karkat had spotted the small drawings on the side of the walls earlier. Violet spirographs guiding the way forward.

      That fact had cheered Feferi up, a small victory in that you all knew who had put them there.  

      Steps, quite loud and clear, carried through the hallway. Way, way to close. You shot out a hand stopping those behind and then waved for them to follow you through a corresponding hallway just as you watched a blue-clad boot come into view. You held a breath you didn’t need, hoping for the guards to move on. Fate wasn’t hoping the same.

      “Wait. I think I saw something.” You heard one, a male voice speaking, accompanied by the noise of a sword unsheathing.

      ”Don’t tell me you think it’s the rainbow-drinker?” The other Highblood, this one a female, laughed at her friend. ”I’m starting to wonder if you have been swallowing sopor in your sleep. It was probably just a trick of light. Again.”

      Gamzee made a cutting motion with his thumb over his throat, and made a gesture towards the guards with his head. Quietly asking for permission. In return you tapped your chest, signalling you would go first before affirming his suggestion with a court nod.

      The lipstick slid easily from your pocket and transformed soundlessly into a more reasonable weapon. The weight shifting felt good in your hand. Closing your eyes you listened to the steps coming towards your corner. They crept close. Closer. You could almost smell the leather, before you spun around the corner and threw your weapon towards the closest one.

      “Shit!” The female screamed as she moved back instantly, the jagged edge of your chainsaw cutting into her arm. Not deep enough to make any bigger harm, you noticed with a frown. It was thought fairly amusing to see her eyes widen in disbelief.

      You bared your pointed teeth for a little extra effect.

      “Told you so.” The male almost laughed, the smile turning into a frown as you came towards him with your friends right in tow. “Kill the freak first!”

      You almost wanted to inform him that in a way all of you were freaks. A mutant-blood, a rainbow-drinker, the heiress herself and Gamzee who was well, Gamzee. But as you ducked under a spear coming for your heart, skirt tearing from the bottom at the uncomfortable position, you noticed the enemies had a slight preference for trying to spill your blood. It seemed that you were the most noticeable freak in your group. But to be fair, you were the one shining the brightest.

      The battle brought you into an open space, something likening to a small arena, (you could swear that smell was dried blood). High up were a balcony made for an audience, safely out of the way for whatever might occur on the ground.

      It wasn’t surprising that the Highblood would have something like this. Probably a nice way to spend the dawn, hiding from the sun and watch Lowbloods kill each other. Now it was the guards who were killed as you saw in your peripheral view Karkat cutting throat of the other troll, while Feferi held him still with her trident.

      The female seemed to realize she wouldn’t win this, and brought a scarab out from her belt.

      “Stop her.” You ordered and Gamzee followed not likely because your words. He managed to get to her, bashing her head against the wall at the same time as she threw the bug. The next moment something shrill cut into the air, so loud that you instinctively dropped your chainsaw and pressed your hands against your ears.

      The bug was screaming. Screaming out your position. Gamzee smacked after it with his club, but the only thing cracking was the floor as the bug crawled away, up the wall. The sound made you feel dizzy, enough that you fell down trying to pick up your weapon. Releasing your hands from the side of your head was too hard, the noise amplifying and you were forced to clamp them back again.   

      You glared at the bug as if you could kill it with your eyes only. If you couldn’t make it stop, if you couldn’t concentrate enough to run away. You were quite simply doomed.

      A flash of light and the bug became a burned crisp against the lilac wall.

      With it the noise disappeared. Within a moment you had you weapon in hand once again and simultaneously looked up to where the light had originated from. Tension tried from your shoulders and the leftover ringing dissipated from your ears. Without being able to stop yourself, your mouth quirked upwards.

      Being happy to see him. That was a first.

      “Kan! Fef! Kar! Gamz! Are you okay?” Eridan shouted, necessary for you to be able to hear, as high up as he was. He was leaning over the railing, looking no different since you last had seen him. No. He looked better, a smile on his face.

      “Eridan!” Feferi shouted back, voice ending with a soundless laugh of relief. She opened her mouth to saw something more, but he interrupted her before she could begin.

      “You’re going the wrong way!” He sighed dramatically and waved with his wand down the corridor. “Keep follow down here, try to keep to the left and you’ll get to a large door. I’ll meet you there. You can’t miss it.”

      Without waiting for any confirmation from you, Eridan disappeared from the balcony, his cape trailing behind him. You watched him disappear.

      The four of you exchanged glances, before Karkat shrugged. “Well then. Better get going before this place is flooded. Correct?” He noted, hesitating for a moment before starting down the way Eridan had pointed. Feferi followed almost immediately making you and Gamzee fall a little bit behind.

      Karkat led you, as Eridan had said, following the turns going as far as you could. The guards came at close intervals now, so once in every while you had to take detour. Apart from one or two obstacles, you moved rather fast.

      Not fast enough, as Feferi suddenly gasped, stumbling on a step. You stopped as soon as you could, watching as she shook hair from her face and squeezed her eyes shut before opening her eyes wide.

      “Oh no.” Feferi whispered, looking far away through the wall after something none of you could see. Something hard crept over her face as she broke into a sprint. “We have to go! Hurry!”

      “What’s wrong?” You asked as you landed into Feferi’s pace, it constantly picking up from the moment where the three of you caught up with her. Surely your cover was blown and you were most certainly pursued by who knows how many, but that was no excuse to run without thought. Actually it was rather the opposite of what you should be doing. 

      “I… I’m not sure.” She admitted making a sharp left turn you almost missed. The hallways were smaller now, as you moved deeper into the castle. The emptiness and lack of other noises that your steps were disconcerting but Feferi moved on with a newfound power. “…I don’t really get how these powers work but… I think he’s hurt.”

      “Eridan?” You exclaimed and got a court nod in return. You concentrated, feeling the smell of blood like a foggy layer around the walls. But nothing as high as his. His smell was especially imprinted in your memory since well, the last time he was dying it was because of you. “I do not smell any blood.” You addressed the matter softly.

      Somehow, that piece of information made Feferi look even more concerned. The answer was simple as she said it. “…She’s here.” 

      You rounded a corner, managing to grab the back of Feferi’s shirt right before she ran into the guards on the other side. Behind you, you heard Karkat spit a curse as he and Gamzee scurried to a stop. Ambush. They had been waiting.

      Feferi grabbed your hand and dragged you into a sideway room just as they started to move towards you. Gamzee slammed the door closed, Feferi grabbing a large bookcase nearby and blocked the entrance. Karkat crossed the room to a door on the other side, pulling at it, proving it to be locked.

      “Out of the way.” You inquired, giving him time to jump back before you showed the spinning razor edge of your chainsaw right next to the lock, the wood in the door making quite a noise. Pulling it out Gamzee kicked the door open, and a moment later you were sprinting down the hall once again. 

      Your pursuers were hot on your trail. But not fast enough, and once you could even stop to catch your breath. It became silent once again. Too silent. You didn’t speak as Feferi once again took the front and zigzagged you though halls and rooms.

      It was another while until she held up a hand, the wristbands jingling softly. Before you, on the other side of a corner (you had snagged a quick look) the hallway widened, connecting to others coming from the sides. They all merged together by a huge door decorated with rich coral and pearls.

      The space in front of it was filled with guards waiting for you.

      “We have to get to the other side.” Feferi urged in a harsh whisper. You all knew that she was right, something that was starting the problem before you. Your enemies also knew that she was right.

      “Let’s beat them all down then,” Gamzee gave a growl and you looked down in thought. Sure, given time it might be possible to take them. But time was the least that you had. You had no idea how your friends outside of the castle were fairing. Anyone of them could be dead already. All of them could be gone to never come back.

      And so you had already made your decision.

      “I’ll distract them.” You promised, meeting their eyes carefully one by one. “Please go on without me.”

      Feferi’s eyes widened beneath her goggles. Most likely she didn’t want to leave. Most likely she knew that was exactly what she had to do. And she couldn’t leave alone, all of you knew that. You didn’t know what waited behind the doors.

      “Hey, Kanaya.” Karkat grabbed your arm and you smiled down at his frown. “They are too many.” He said with a glance towards the enemies and you agreed with a nod. Even though that might be true, it was not something that would stop you. And especially not stop them from continuing forward.

      “Then I believe you have to hurry,” You replied easily while gently prying his hand away. He sighed, no doubt leaving out some extra words before letting his hand fall down his side.

      Without any further warning you emerged from your hiding-spot, cutting down the closest troll before they had the time to react. The moment of surprise was your biggest advantage, and when it was over they would overwhelm you.

      But maybe not your friends if they ran quickly enough.

      You managed to cross the room and Feferi wasted no time dragging the door open enough for them to slip through. The guards must have noticed but didn’t approach to stop her. Phantom pain erupted from the hole of your stomach. Wrong. It said. You ignored it.

      For a second Karkat’s eyes met with yours, and a small but noticeable nod cleared words he couldn’t speak. You forced a small smile. With Gamzee delivering a last blow to his enemies, they moved back and disappeared into the hallway behind you, dragging the door shut after them.

      The door slammed close behind you with a large bang, and the smile fell from you face. The grip you held around your chainsaw made your fists almost impossibly whiter as you moved into battle position, watching the guards outnumber you.

      Chapter Text

      You knew the way, had spent your time carefully straying around the castle. (While avoiding doing whatever they wanted you to do. Not surprisingly, you were quite good at that). Now you jumped the stairs with ease and rushed down to meet up with four of your friends. They were finally here. Only problem, they were here too early.

      The castle had no signs of directions. That had been your first problem but also an opportunity. The Highbloods had expected the rebels to lose their way and split up if they ever managed to breach the inner walls. You had wanted to prevent that, but apparently hadn’t succeeded well enough. It was not far to the golden hall where you had pointed Fef and the others towards.

      To get there you had to cross something similar to a small ballroom. You stopped before entering, listening after noises. It was connected to many different hallways, and it was a popular place for the guards to pass by. Hearing nothing, you started to cross the room.

      Something made you stop right in your tracks. It was like something gripped at your very soul. No matter how uncomfortable it was, it didn’t feel dangerous; more like something poked your shoulder to get your attention. And it did. You stopped and without knowing what just made you move, you turned around in the middle of the large room and stared at one of the gates coming from the innermost of the castle.

      Also coming from the core of that lit corridor, The Condescension appeared before you.

      You didn’t move, couldn’t run. Didn’t want to run. It was not out of fear that you stayed still, not out of anger or intimidation. The reason stood you place was awe. Only a fool, a blind one at that too, would mistake what you realised as you watched her.

      She was beautiful.

      Gorgeous.

      She was everything you had seen in Feferi and so much more. Power, strength, grace. Completely stunning. You knew you were gaping at her, her heels clicking on the floor as she walked towards you. In the back of your head you knew that you should just turn around and run. Instead it was as if your muscles had all locked in place, and your will didn’t matter. Not in her presence.

      “Little lost fish.” She said, like she actually meant was she said. Her smile was golden, like the moonlight falling down through the ocean surface a still night. “There is still hope for you, if you join me.” She assured, a hand stroking down you cheek and briefly you wondered how many would have given their life, their quadrants to be in your position.

      And still her words hit that hurting core inside of you, that little knot pressing into your blood-pusher at every beat. The keyword had been hope.

      “I swear loyalty to my Empress.” Her grin grew wide, her mouth opening probably to say something sweet and captivating but you batted her hand away and took a step back.

      There was still hope for you? Ridiculous. You were the prince of Hope; you knew when hope was lost and when hope was better off destroyed. Her face fell, and you let out a short laugh almost like a breath of air. “Funny. That has never been you.” 

      You had grown up with Feferi at your side. You had grown up trying to mould her into this. Never for your own pleasure, but because you believed that it was the best for her. It was her fate to become the Empress. In your eyes, she had always been that. There is no other Empress than Feferi. 

      Her expression constricted into one you couldn’t mistake for anything other than blunt rage. You stumbled backwards, too late as she grabbed onto your horn and pulled you back with a sharp tug. Her grip was far stronger than your attempts to escape. You couldn’t pull free.

      “Wrong answer.” She hissed and put her free hand on your chest.

      Something ripped, not like flesh. You knew the feeling of that. This was deeper, this was something piercing your very core, grabbing a handful of strings and pulling. You gasped. Or tried. Panic flowed through you as you choked, couldn’t breathe. Above you the Codensce grinned and leaned down to whisper in your ear.

      “I could wring your neck so easy, but let’s make this a little more interesting.” She said, with an excited smile. “Let’s give our petite princess a little to fight for.”

      When the grip on your horn loosened, you weren’t able to keep your body up.

      Your knees buckled like none of your muscles wanted to fight anymore. None of them had the power to fight. Not your lungs and not your heart. They were all pumping with what felt like a last attempt every time, growing weaker with every beat. It hurt.

      It was not like the first time you had died, quick and painful and horrible in all ways, body ripping in two. This was worse. This was your entire body slowly tearing apart.

      You were dying. 

      Fading.

      And there was nothing left after.

      Her smile as she looked away from you and towards something you couldn’t see.

      “Get the shell away from him!” You heard Feferi’s yell like it came from above water, the Empress’s laugh and watched a pair of heels walk away before someone landed on their knees beside you. Even blurry, you recognized the colours of Feferi’s skirt, the tails crumpling around her.

      You turned your head upwards. Where did all you strength disappear to? Why were you so tired? You were supposed to be helpful. Not making Feferi look down towards you with an expression like she was about to cry.

      At least there was still something.

      Even with the grief and rage and decision in her face, she was still way more beautiful than the Empress.

      It had been the right choice.

      -------------

      Tears burned behind your eyelids as you blinked. He didn’t look hurt. If it had only been a few nights ago you wouldn’t have seen a thing. Now you did. You saw the purple strings, like glowing blood seeping inside and around his body, twist and snap. You felt the vibrations of life, the small amount that was left, fight for their existence and you stroked his hair as the first teardrop dripped from your chin. You could fix it. A small voice in your head said. But you didn’t have much time. And not enough strength yet.  

      “Don’t die on me.” You whispered and saw his throat move as he swallowed. Most likely his aerial-sponges were giving up faster that his gills. He nodded courtly; like that whole movement took him a part of his remaining life-force. “I’ll be back before you know it.”

      You tried a smile before you looked over at Karkat.

      “Are you sure we can’t help, sis?” Gamzee asked, clubs still in his hands as he watched towards where The Empress had gone away. You followed his glance, and shook your head. No matter how much you didn’t want to go alone, they wouldn’t be of much help. Gl’bgolyb would never accept it.

      “You can’t keep me from my fate.” You said, knowing the truth of them the moment the words passed by your lips. This was the only way Gl’bgolyb would allow the story to go. This rewritten heresy.

      It wasn’t hard to find the way she had gone. Something was beckoning and guiding you through the halls and you followed it without a thought. You were willingly walking into a trap. She wasn’t the one that would come out victorious.

      It didn’t take long for you to be sure that you were heading the right way. The corridors were silent and empty, and watched by your image in statues watching you pass them. Eyes of crystals followed your every step and they all looked so sad. So sad and somehow so hopeful. So trusting of you. The former heiresses whished you good luck and at the same time welcomed you to join them in the dull hallway.

      “I’ll get her. I promise.” You spoke to the silent watchers before removing the trident from your syllabus. Stalking down the halls, you finally got to the end and stopped in front of two double doors. Through the metal that they were made of you smelled the sea.

      With a strong kick the doors in front of you slid open.

      The room was dark, with no windows to let the moonlight in. You jumped down from the doorstep, water splashing up above your knees as you landed. Your weapon clenched in hand you waded forward, trusting more on your ears and that string of life pulling your forward.

      Maybe the Empress’s pride kept her from attacking while you were still unprepared, but that wasn’t something you put your trust in.

      She would stop at nothing to bring anyone opposing her down. Tonight though, she seemed to want to play fair. Dim lights started to fill the room and your eyes automatically fixed themselves on the troll standing on the opposite side. Behind you the doors slammed shut, and you narrowed your eyes at The Empress. She was smiling, trident in her hand and you almost felt the disdain towards you flowing in her mind.

      “Welcome, my heiress. I hope you liked the welcome committee?” She started, a lighter voice than you had expected. “I saw you brought you own.”

      Wordlessly, you refused to acknowledge her words and you spun your trident once, pushing the tip towards her. She paused, almost looking surprised, and then laughed heartily.

      “What’s the hurry?” She said, voice hauntingly like yours, like yours would become once you came into age. Only now it was filled with such an obvious glee it made you sick. “He’s a lucky grub. A lowblood would have died ages ago.”

      In the back of your head you knew that she was taunting you, but your body still reacted with anger and you were so tired. So tired of everything leading up to this point and you just wanted all of this to be over. Whichever way it would end.

      Water splashed as you clashed weapons in the middle of the hall.

      Her strength was greater than yours, something that became clear when the blow threw you back. At least you managed to land on your feet before spinning out of reach of her next attack. She was stronger, faster, and far more confident. But she had spent an eternity sitting on a throne, enough that a personal culling of her was seen as an honour. That she actually moved for you.

      Dying by her hands here wasn’t an honour. It would only be a failure and one you couldn’t afford. After all, you had spent your life preparing for the fight for even a small amount of life in freedom. You had spent the last weeks fighting in an impossible game and while you maybe didn’t made it alive, you got out.

      The battle brought you out deeper and further down into water, the floor noticeably tilting down. A punch now pushed you all under the surface before you emerged, deflecting what might have been a fatal blow against your neck.

      “Come on girl.” She said, beckoning you closer before she jumped back, and disappeared down the water. Knowing full well it was a trap you dived down after her, the floor dipping down far, far down that you didn’t see the bottom of the pool.

      You swum after her, directing a blow she ducked under. Within moment she had grabbed your trident, and pulled. Reacting instinctively you let go of you weapon before she could use your movement against you. With a grin and a bubbly laugh, she dropped your trident down the depths. You shot after it, but had no chance as she grabbed your hair and it was only by twisting your body that your back avoided the spears on her trident.

      You grabbed around her wrist and pulled, feeling hair rip from your skull and caring none of it.

      With the next thrust she made you grabbed the spaces between the spears with your hands. Keeping them at a distance. She spun around and it threw you off, giving your body speed enough to bash into the nearest wall. Accidently your teeth slit your inner cheek open and the water coming out of your mouth became foggy with blood.

      A strange feeling of serenity surrounded you as you watched you ancestor move like a snake through the water. She looked as if she had already won. And that was her mistake. You weren’t dead just yet. Weapon or not.

      Grabbing at the wall behind you, you took stance. If this worked with Eridan’s ancestor, it might just work with yours. Pushing of the wall you moved in a curve to avoid her backslash. You got past, however she took note of your method and bounced up the wall after you.

      With a twirl you created enough force to knock the trident out of the way. She didn’t drop it, nor stopped moving towards you. Her fingers wrapped around your neck and claws cut into your gills. It was getting hard to inhale. She could kill you right there. Even with how you trashed she could have impaled you once and for all.

      She didn’t. Your ancestor wanted to play.

      She continued to push you backwards and upwards towards the air again. When you broke the surface she threw you back, making you land on the shallower ground. The blow had made you squeeze your eyes shut, the mistake only coming to you one moment too late.

      Opening them again she was already thrusting the trident down towards your collarbone with both hands. As a last, panicked movement you tried to roll away. The trident missed anything fatal, but the middle-spear forced itself down in your shoulder, right down in the space between chest and arm. Something started to ring loudly in your ears as fire spread out from the wound.

      It took a moment before you realized that the shrill noise was your own scream.

      It hurt. It hurt ithurtitHURT.

      She leaned on her 2xtrident and you screamed, knowing, the logic in your mind yelling at you to ‘stop moving, you’re making it worse’. It didn’t want to hit. The survival instinct in your mind fought to tell you that if you stopped death would take you.

      “Now, now. Don’t you want to be pretty on your deathbed? If you continue to struggle your little arm is going to rip.”

      She was correct. Oh how you knew she was right. You could barely feel your left arm, it felt numb right out to the fingertips, and the parts that weren’t numb were burning and freezing all the same. It hurt. A lot. But it wasn’t useless just yet.

      With almost unconscious energy you pushed upwards, numbness exchanging into white pain as you forced the trident out and up, up, up and you felt it sink through flesh and hit bone. For a horrible moment you thought it wouldn’t work. Strength left you rapidly.

      You couldn’t loose. Not now. Not when everyone was counting on you. Not when this was your final chance to finally make it all right. Everything you had done was leading up to this point, and this time there would be no take-backs, no Aradia telling you how it was fine. Another you would finish this in your stead. This was all you. It was as simple as that.

      You didn’t want to die.

      A surge of energy flowed through you, like someone had splashed a cascade of water over you when you were all dried out. You managed to get a knee behind you and pushed up, forward more, more and more. While managing to ignore the searing pain shooting through your whole left side, the trident came loose from your shoulder in a torrent of blood.

      Something ripped.

      Something tore beyond repair.

      And you couldn’t care less as power flowed into you. 

      With right hand and right side only you tackled The Empress down under water before she threw you off in an indistinctive motion closing in to panic. You brought the trident with you as you rolled, and somehow managed to move up in a crouch.

      Fear was the first thing you saw in her eyes as you locked into them with your own. Fear that quickly morphed into anger and something far from the grace she had been carrying until this moment. Another time and another place, you might have thought her current expression as childish.

      “This is not supposed to happen!” She all but screamed, fisting her hands against her legs. “She can’t favour you.” Within the next moment she lunged and it was all you could to avoid, rolling to the side and barley escaping her claws thrusting towards your heart. As if she planned to rip it out with her bare hands.  “It isn’t fair!”

      The strange power that kept your heart beating far beyond its own capability made you courageous and you avoided another thrust as you moved backwards. “I know.” You said, clenching her trident still in your hand. “We have known that for far longer.”

      A strange form of bravely settled into you as she attacked again. Within moments you spun the trident, steadied against the water filled ground, and then thrust towards her. It wasn’t a move she had been expecting, as you felt the ends of the trident sink against her unprotected chest.

      The movement had her falling backwards and you continued your onslaught without hesitation. The trident must have hit her ribs, because it got harder to push through her flesh. Now you positions were reversed, her half-submerged and you standing above.

      You were not in the mood to play as she had been.

      You pulled the trident upwards quickly, never giving a moment for her to regain herself, before you thrust it back down. The end of the trident fell down through her flesh like pieces fit to a puzzle. Your ancestor opened her mouth in a wordless scream as you pulled the trident out from her body.

      Purple blood was quickly cloaking her body beneath the water. Without warning her body suddenly move upwards, and you didn’t move fast enough that her hand got a grip on your hair. With a pull making you fall down on your knees halfway on her she got you close enough that she might have bit you if she had wanted.

      To your complete surprise, she laughed in your face.

      “Blinded by falsified glory, you will bind yourself in golden shackles.” She hissed out between her teeth, something like a smile curving her lips. “Create you castle of glass and rule your kingdom from behind bars.”

      You could to pull away, that thing was clear, but something in her voice made you stay down, listening on her weakening voice with a morbid fascination.

       “I will wait for you, for the night where they will drag you down through burning rays of light.” Her expression became suddenly pained, and every cell in your body knew that Her imperious Condescension was closing in on her death. Even still. She smiled. “Remember, that it was you who chose this.”

      “So be it, to the day I die.” You answered before tearing her fingers away from your hair once again. The Empress gave one last shudder, one last hateful glare, before her head lolled back into the water. The last thread of life, the unnatural force that had kept her alive even as impaled, left her body.

      Now for the first time you understood that she was dying. For a moment you panicked, pulling at the force of life leaving her and then getting to your senses as they passed through your fingers like smoke. Sitting back down on your heels, you realized that you never even knew her name. Maybe she herself had forgotten over the years.

      Her Imperious Condescension died on the floor before you.  

      And then it was like something pierced through your chest and grabbed around your vascular-pump.

      A fire entered your whole being. Strong enough to make your eyes tear again, strong enough that you bent over The Empress’s still body. Strong enough that you screamed like your whole body was left out for the sun to scorn. Tears pouring out over the former empress.

      Deep in your mind you heard mother’s voice singing. It was another moment before you realized why you were sobbing loudly, as her grief over her lost daughter coursed through your body. You cried. You cried over the former empress whose cold body was before you and you screamed because Gl’bgolyb couldn’t.

      You cried over the pain of every light still being snuffed out outside of the walls of the castle and of every grub that would never see the moonlight. Strings of light, of life, golden shackles bound you and…

      A flickering light in the corner of your eye.

      You looked up, the room hazed over by the colour of your tears and you knew.

      It was with pain and effort you managed to rise up. It was almost impossible to reach the doors, but they slid up easily as you leaned against them. You gritted your teeth as the flickering life far away beckoned to you, and with your staggering body you moved forward.

      A trail of blood followed close behind. 

      And because you were following that flickering light, you didn’t notice how reality cracked behind you, stretching after you and threatening to drag you into the hollow paradox. You also didn’t notice the troll appearing, eyes shining and knitting needles in her hand. You didn’t see her mending time together, closing the void you made, and didn’t see her expressionless face as she kneeled down beside one who could have been her friend or foe.

      You didn’t notice the small smile on her face as she watched you go, before she disappeared yet again. The world continued to spin.

      Chapter Text

      When you were two sweeps old, that was when you saw your first dead body. It wasn’t anyone you knew, hell, you barely knew any of your neighbours’ faces and made quite clear to never let them see yours for too long. Every once in a while you went out; sneaking out from Crabdad’s watchful worry and this night was very special. For a two sweep old you, getting the newest Romcom movie was top priority and it wasn’t a far walk.

      You stayed out of sight, just as Crabdad had taught you, and crept along the walls of your neighbourhood. You were so stealthy, no one would take notice of you, said the young mind that you had. Halfway to your destination, the sounds of a fight started to reach you and, stupid as past you always were, you didn’t turn around. You followed it. Curious. You had never been in a real fight, never anything more than the occasional argument with your lusus. The fights had usually been a screen away, and with breathless anticipation you followed the clashing sound of steel meeting steel.

      The fight was over before you arrived, which was just as well. Even as you stayed in the shadows, far away from the two trolls you could still make out the sword between a rust-blood’s chest, and the green-blood who took her weapon back from the body of the dead troll. To this day you never knew what the fight had been about. Territory? A Kismesissitude gone bad? Some small, unimportant argument? The important thing was that it didn’t have to have been a particularly good reason. The rust-blood was still dead and no one cared.

      After that, you learnt that death was a normal part of life.

      Now, almost six sweeps later, you refused to admit it with a fiery passion.

      The halls were quieter than you wanted then to be, as you walked quickly down what you hoped was the right way. Eridan was heavy in your arms, head lolling against your chest, but you were more concerned with how his breathing hitched and every once in a while would simply stop. You had enough upper body strength to carry him, and whatever you lacked after that was replaced with pure will. No more would die on your watch.

      Gamzee was off somewhere you couldn’t see, scouting on your orders. So far there were no sounds of struggle. No sound was good, you constantly had to tell yourself. When Feferi had disappeared, almost half an hour ago, you were confident that she would be back in no time. Five minutes ago Eridan had been unable to breathe, which caused a panic attack almost as dangerous and you started to wonder if she had a chance after all. Eridan was still fading quickly and the fear hid from the logic part of your mind came into focus.

      Seadwellers lost their land supporting organs first. He needed water. It was as simple as that.

      For being a castle made for a sea-dictator, the lack of water nearby was concerning. After some short weighting of your options you sent Gamzee down the hallways, while you followed down the same one that had swallowed Feferi. Small details told you that the way was right. The doors faded away to empty openings and if you sniffed you thought you could smell the sea.

      The smell brought back memories, and you remembered first waking up in this so familiar, yet so strange and so weird world. In your mind you had promised to never return to the cold water that had threatened to drag you under. Eridan had laughed and joked at your expense, but had saved you by dragging you through the fear down under water.

      Maybe it was a bit late. But it was time to repay that favour. 

      “Hey.” Gamzee suddenly appearing next to you startled you enough to almost drop Eridan, your hair standing on the edge. You twisted your head enough to watch him fall into your steps with long strides. “There’s no one around.”

      You nodded absentmindedly as he confirmed what you already knew. They had all abandoned the ship. It wouldn’t be as good as you hoped, that the guards had gone away to make way for a new world order when Feferi returned. It was more likely that they were so sure of your little rebellion failing that they saw fit to take a break and go out and kill the rest of the rebellion outside while waiting for ‘mama condescension’ to step out with all her blood-filled grace.

      A shape moved in the end of the hall and both of you stopped with a startled jump. Unable to grab your weapons, you simply tightened your hold on Eridan and allowed Gamzee to take a step forward, ready to take the first hit if something were to happen.

      Then you recognized the slightly curved horns that emerged from long, wet and tangled hair. Feferi was favouring her right side greatly, leaning against the wall, a trident in her hand. Gamzee moved first, clubs clattering down on the floor as he caught her, just before she slid the entire way down to the floor. Her head looked up towards you, breathing calm and collected and she seemed to be in a better shape than you first feared, but far from optimal.

      Gamzee quickly steadied Feferi against his shoulder, looking at his hand now suddenly filled with tyrian blood and then back at you. They were both looking at you, you realized. Trying not to think much of how hazy her eyes were, filled to the brim with barely suppressed pain, you stepped up to them and forced a relief filled grin.

      “You won.” You said, more a fact than a question and Feferi’s tired expression broke with a smile and a nod. Then her glance drifted to the body in your arms and you swallowed. “Eridan needs water.” This time it was more of a question, you hadn’t failed to notice the wet trail after her. Feferi motioned with her head back where she had come and you started going down the hallway in a faster pace. 

      The doors were open when you arrived and you swallowed deeply when you saw the body further away. In a frightful moment you imagined the body moving, rising up from her watery-grave, but nothing happened and you stepped down into the water, shoes and the lower part of your pants immediately soaking through.

      “Eridan first.” Feferi spoke for the first time since your meeting, kneeling down in the thigh-high water. It was all you could to not simply drop him down, but lay him softly under the surface.

      “Hold him down.” Feferi ordered and Gamzee followed through without a sound, pushing Eridan down once more. Her breathing evened out, deep and concentrated puffs escaping as she placed her hand down on his chest.

      The water started to swirl and you leaned down over, watching with fascination how Eridan’s chest followed Feferi’s fingers up and down in a sort of artificial breathing. Like she was stitching something through him. Then the water started to boil, bubbles escaping and saw how Eridan gritted his teeth in pain before opening his mouth in a wordless scream under the water.

      A second later a cascade of water sprouted upwards, promptly drenching you. You spat out some that had landed in your mouth, and swiped your eyes free from the dripping feeling the liquid drip down you face and soak into your shirt.

      The next moment, Feferi was pulling Eridan upwards, and he was spluttering, water dripping from his mouth and coughing, hand fisted into his own clothes. His fins flared, fluttering before stilling, and Eridan drew a long breath of air. It wasn’t until he did that you realized that you yourself had forgot to breathe and you spit out some leftover water before exhaling loudly with what relief you had. Eridan looked surprised, blinking once before leaning over and hugging Feferi tightly. She returned the embrace one-handed, a tired smile on her lips. Gamzee mirrored it with a grin.

      They were both fine.

      Both Seadwellers alive and more or less in one piece.  

      As they pulled apart, Eridan touched Feferi’s wound carefully and she flinched, grimacing in pain. Blood wasn’t pouring, but still seeping down her arm and into the water. “Hey…” Eridan began, looking concerned and you kneeled down. You snatched the scarf from his neck and wrapped it tightly around the wound where arm met torso. The blood soon seeped through, and you were well aware that it had to be a very temporarily solution.  

      “So how’s that?” You asked, not really expecting an optimistic ‘better’. You weren’t disappointed.

      “I can’t feel it. I can’t move it.” She pushed on her limp arm with her other, and it flopped down like a dead fish. “I can’t feel my arm.” A bubbly, almost desperate laugh escaped her throat as she looked down on her hand, as if expecting it to move.

      “I’m sorry sis. But you can’t go out like that.” Gamzee pointed out, inspecting your make-shift bandage with a shake of his head. “They gonna think you’re weak.”

      “Well we can’t exactly go build me a new arm right now, can we?” She hissed out through her teeth. She glared at her arm, angry at the way it didn’t respond to her commands. From the look of it, it never would again.

      “…I might have an idea.” Eridan looked down, murmured something to himself, then seemed to decide. The air above him shone up for a moment as he activated his modus and a bundle of cloth fell into existence. He shook the cape out to its full length before throwing it over her.

      He used it to cover Feferi’s left side, blocking out any suspicion about what could be hiding beneath. At most they could explain it as a fashion choice. The colour… was ridiculously easy to explain too. Morails often used each other’s colours but… for the moment you decided to keep your mouth shut about that, instead looking at Eridan with a raised eyebrow.

      “…you had an extra cape.” You didn’t know whether to laugh or just shake your head. Eridan looked defensive for a moment, before straightening up and frowning, fixing his glasses.

      “Well, it came in handy didn’t it?” He huffed before he steadied against his knee and pushed himself up, swiftly you and Gamzee followed.

      “We should leave. Go back.” Feferi said, picking up her trident from the shallow bottom. Earlier you hadn’t noticed, too preoccupied with hoping that you would come out as many as you came in, but the trident was just a tad too large for her. It clicked into place only a moment later, as you noticed the complicated ornaments decorating the trident.

      “…just one last touch.” The trident had given you an idea.

      You waded through the waters towards the part where the blue became muddy with tyrian blood. The strangeness wasn’t lost on you. You were literally wading in royal blood. The blood was diluted enough that you clearly saw the Empress at your feet.

      Except for those stab-wounds in her chest, Her Imperious Condescension looked like she was sleeping. Eyes gently closed, her hands were folded over her chest, and her legs were straight out. Like someone had decided to give her a little bit of dignity in the last breaths (or glubs) of her life. You cast a glance back towards Feferi. If the Empress hadn’t had a speciality in dying gracefully, someone had to have moved her. But you didn’t believe that Feferi had done it herself.

      Remembering why you walked over in the first place you walked around her, trying to avoid stepping on her hair (realizing that was an impossible feat) before reaching down towards her face. The tiara took a moment before you managed to pull it loose. Making the hair release it was a bit harder, but finally you picked the last long black strand away from it. Then you walked back.

      “Hey, look up.” You told Feferi and she did as you said, confused for a moment before you grabbed her tiara and threw it towards Eridan’s direction. He caught it clumsily. Carefully you fastened the Empress’s tiara to Feferi’s forehead.

      “All hail fish-princess the second,” You smiled and she returned it, with a little bit more teeth.

      “Technically, there have been many more empresses before me.” Feferi said and brought her functioning hand up to inspect and correct it. “Though they have all been alone.” She looked over at her ancestor, a hazy shape in the water, stripped of whatever might she had. Alone. You silently wondered if that was true, then forced yourself to look away.

      “Well, it seems we have a date with the whole wide world.” You said, “So let’s not keep them waiting shall we, princess?”

      With an accepting nod, you started off, Gamzee going first after sending you a supporting smile. Eridan offered his shoulder to Feferi, who stumbled, but she shook her head before picking up speed and rather sooner than later, you were sprinting back. Passing the halls with the silent heiresses, passing doors and images and all the wonders the castle had to give that you had yet to notice.

      The door where you had left (abandoned, a blaming voice in your head reminded) Kanaya stood closed and quiet like a watchful guard. You walked up first and put an ear against the metal. Nothing could be heard from the other side. No comfortable, familiar noise of a chainsaw. In your chest your vascular-pump clenched as you nodded to Gamzee. Together you pushed the door open.

      Or. You tried to push it open.

      The door wasn’t locked, but something was holding it back from the other side. Even when you added your shoulder to the pressure it didn’t want to move. Then suddenly it did move, forwards and sending you straight down into a heap in the floor. The hit left you with a temporary haze, and then the overwhelming smell of blood hit you. You looked up, scrambling away when you noticed someone looming over you only to recognize Equius’s frown, something strongly comfortable in this situation. 

      “Karkat!” And there was Nepeta, bouncing up from a few metres away to land her arms around your shoulders, sending you both straight back to the floor. Working yourself up, you finally got a chance to look around the room and the sight that greeted you was slowly making its way to your stomach.

      It wasn’t a surprise how hard the door had been to open, as the bodies blocking it now lay in a large heap. (You swore you could hear someone groaning, but if anyone was still alive they didn’t look like they were up for a fight). And then a shape rose from the pile, thin and graceful in difference to the bulking forms of the guards.

      Kanaya slowly straightened out, rolling her back out to its full length and skin shining abnormally light. From this view, it almost looked like her eyes had lost their pupil, shining brightly in gold and yellow. Blood was dripping from her mouth, unnatural long teeth clearly shining against her black lips.

      Cautiously Nepeta moved off you, and you didn’t miss the way she moved slowly as if trying to not startle the rainbow drinker tilting her head as she looked at you. You found yourself breathing slowing and in the corner of your eye you saw Gamzee grip his weapons closer and moved his feet into a wider stance.

      Kanaya moved then, faster than you had expected with a sort of animalistic flow in all her movements. For a heart-shattering moment you believed that she was going to sink her teeth into you. But she stopped, her face close enough that you were sure she could feel your breath on her face, a low hiss coming out of her mouth.

      With your blood pumping in your ears she leaned away and the supernatural shine of her eyes faded away into something more familiar. Kanaya breathed out, blinking as if she had just woken up. One second passed, and then another as the moment of silence stretched on, only broken by the occasional groan from the pile. 

      “You got some…” Gamzee started, motioning to his left cheek where Kanaya had a splatter of blue blood.

      Almost embarrassed, she wiped it off with the back of an elegant hand and some of the shimmer of her skin died off. “I’m sorry about that.” Kanaya said, couching into her hand as the tension between you broke and she helped you up.

      “What in the world happened here?” Eridan exclaimed, looking around and carefully stepping over a body on the ground.

      “Nepeta and I quite accidently ran into Kanaya as she had a hard time to keep up with the guards harassing her.” Equius explained, a muscular hand waving over the room. “We thought we were too late…”

      “…but it turns out Rainbow-drinkers are very bad at dying.” Nepeta smiled, and for the first time you noticed the gash on the side of Kanaya’s side. Someone had got to her with what looked like a teethed weapon, but where it might have been fatal the wound had closed up.

      “So.” Kanaya interrupted, voice a little louder than necessary, a clear stop to the conversation. “I take it went well on your side of things.”

      Now they all looked over to Feferi, whose new tiara was answer enough. Kanaya smirked, Nepeta grinned and even Equius managed to quirk his lips upwards the slightest bit. Feferi herself shrugged.

      “More or less.”

      And before you knew it, you were on the move once again.

      ---------------------------

      You wandered down the hallways, alone.

      Worry gnawed in your chest, a thousand thoughts bashing in your skull. You shouldn’t have sent him away. You shouldn’t have let him go alone with the other children. They were only children. Only eight sweeps at most, and you sent them straight into the core of the Empire, straight to her. You wanted to trust them, knowing that they had been through far worse. Karkat had been. And you never wanted to subject him to something of the like again.

      Your friend and allies fought the battle outside, and you had momentarily left them for another goal. But the aching worry made you take a roundabout. You had to be sure no fear or worry was left in your heart and so you had to find him.

      Luck was on your side, as if had been surprisingly often, or something had simply steered your feet in the right direction, because you heart the pitter-patter of small steps far down in the labyrinth of corridors and soon you saw the group, spotted the grey troll you wished to see.

      “Karkat!” You shouted, watching him stop and spin. Both Seadwellers were with him, just as his morail, Dolorosa’s descendant and Disciple’s descendant and her morail. It could only mean one thing, and it made you smile genuinely at him.

      “I’m so proud of you.” Without giving him a chance to protest you kissed his forehead, just as The Dolorosa had done so many times to you as she raised you. As expected, your descendant pulled away, a strange expression between a frown and something more embarrassed gracing his face.  “Go. I’ll be watching you.”

      He broke off, giving a glance back before the Disciple’s descendant dragged him off so that he wouldn’t be too far behind the others. His morail, Gamzee was laughing quietly but far from mockingly. It was light-hearted even for a situation like this. Childish, and not in a bad way.

      Children. And still so mature for their age. Not because of the individual strength that they all carried clear for all to see, but that bond, that force that kept them together through all hard-ships. Maybe against their own will or knowledge. It was what this world needed. What you needed to do was to make a way for them, for him, so that they could grow.

      The Disciple had sought you up, finishing her mission without the least worried about how her small huntress would fare, confident that she would be alright. When the Disciple found you, she had given you a message and it was with this goal in mind that you settled off again, your scythe dragging against the floor.  

      You found the Grand Highblood where The Disciple said you would find him, tied together by the razor-sharp threads of The Dolorosa. A normal troll would have been dead far before he even got a wound. But it was close enough a miracle that your closest Trolls had got him down and subdued. Poisoned strings were as effective that you had hoped.

      All the other Rebels had been sent out, far away from his mental control that you even now could feel pulling in your mind. If it found a foothold even you would have to give up and give justice another way. He looked at you, eyes and expression amused almost as if he still sat in his throne and not at your mercy. Something he had realized would be hard to find tonight, and that fact only seemed to make his smile wider than ever.

      “So the pacifist has changed? WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE?” You hated the glee in his voice. Hated the rhetoric questions you refused to answer. He knew the answers and wasn’t above telling them straight to your face. “Your tiny DESCENDANT? HAVE TO SAY it was glorious to have a TASTE of him. Only wished YOU HADN’T TAKEN HIM AWAY from me.”

      The words had effect on you, but you would have been caught dead before you let it show on your face. They were genuine, and that might be the worst thing. True, because if he hadn’t tried to kill Karkat, tortured and harmed you descendant until you feared that you’d never know the person the other children had praised in indirect words, this wouldn’t be as personal as it was.   

      “You won’t touch him ever again.” The words had finality and the everlasting smile gained a bit more teeth.

      “Have you even shed your FIRST BLOOD YET?” He taunted, tilting his head and watching you still as if you were prey and he the predator.

      The Grand Highblood smiled, as if happy that you would break your pacifistic promise with killing him. Maybe that was a slight victory on his side, you hated to feel the desire to repay everything he had done with just as much pain and fear, but this was far more than revenge. It was a necessary happening you were glad to make.

      You heightened the scythe and never flinched as you gazed into his eyes. With a powerful stroke, you let the heavy, violet blood flood the floor. Not looking back, you hurried out and away and back towards the noise of battle, shredding your blood-filled shroud along the way.

      It was time to keep your promise to Karkat.

      -----------------

      Gamzee hadn’t stopped laughing yet.

      It had earned him a few punches as you ran, even as you were sure your red blood could be hinted behind your skin in a blush. You ancestor was always open with his affections and you knew that the bond between you allowed him to embarrass you. You yourself allowed him to care for you, but it was still something pulling in your chest and it took a while for you to realise what the source was.

      Loss. You missed Crabdad. The sudden pain in your chest was surprisingly hollow, the logic part of your mind reminding you that all worldly things, all emotional things had to be settled after this was over. Maybe that was why your mind felt the need to remind you of unnecessary things, because whatever that had happened before this you had always had this feeling that it wasn’t right. Like when someone has moved all your stuff two centimetres to the left and you never noticed but you still bump into everything over and over again.

      Doing this, winning this, would mean that you decided to remodel your entire house, burning all the furniture instead of trying to put everything back to where it was. It was something final about all this. An ending crack.

      You were so lost in your thought that Eridan had to grab you to stop you from running straight into Sollux. Though, it wasn’t a successful attempt and instead it was Aradia pulling Sollux out of the way that hindered an all-out collusion between your groups.

      “Great! You actually managed to sniff them up?” Vriska said, a core of sarcasm directed towards Terezi who countered by inhaling loudly into her nose.

      “You should know better than to doubt my mighty snout, Vriska.” She said, a certain tone of excitement in her voice as she turned in your general direction. “Sorry we’re late! We needed to park our Dragon!” Terezi giggled, her grin looking like it threatened to break her face in two halves. Strangely Tavros had the same expression, maybe even larger while Vriska for once looked downcast, disappointed even.  

      “You what!” Something told you that there was a long history behind that fact, or an inside joke you would later demand be explained, but for now that wasn’t important. “You know what, I don’t care. We have a war to end.”

      In your head you made a count. One, two, three, four, five and six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven and with yourself twelve. Without really meaning too, you had gathered your group together again and a heavy weight lifted off your shoulder. For safety’s sake you counted again. Twelve, no more and more importantly no less.

      Eridan led the way, up two stairs and into a room with large windows pointing out towards the battle-ground. And more importantly, two doors in the same wall that revealed a large balcony when Eridan pushed them open.

      Moonlight streamed in over you, though far in the horizon you could see the day move closer to breaking. Strange, you didn’t feel tired. The adrenaline still burned in your body and probably would until all of this was over. Until you could either hide from the sun or…

      Gamzee pushed on your shoulder, distracting you from your thoughts and brought your back to the present, back to the noise and clashes and screams of fighting and you followed the others out onto the balcony.

      It was clearly designed for giving out important orders to a mass of people, or maybe also for a joyful execution. While the battle raged far down, you could still see pretty much everything and the sight thing? it was mutual. Those below would have no trouble seeing all of you if only they looked up.

      Talking about looking up, it wasn’t until the moonlight was obscured by an abnormally big cloud that you actually looked up, and noticed that the cloud wasn’t what you had thought it to be. So that was what they were talking about before.

      A large dragon was circling high above, before landing on one of the towers. Tavros was looking at it too and, strange enough, waved towards it. The next moment it opened its mouth and let out a blinding pillar of fire lighting everything up for a split second and looking down you could see faces among the fighting looking up towards your group. Now you had their attention.

      Feferi climbed up on the thick rail surrounding the balcony, raised her head and screamed.

      “Drop your weapons! This is an order from you Empress.” Feferi shouted as she balanced on the wall, trident held up in her functioning hand. It was a second before she continued, softer. “Revolutionaries too.”

      While the fighting had stopped, the revolutionaries just as the imperialists stood still with the air around them crackling of unresolved tension threatening to release. (Or maybe that was just the psychics levitating over the ground, making it obvious that they sure as hell didn’t want to lay off their powers).

       “Just go the fuck along with it!” You tried to reach out screaming, but the glares you got back was hesitant, half of them expecting this to be a hoax, and the other half was hoping that this was a hoax.

      “Do as they say!” A much clearer voice reached out and you saw the Signless give his scythe one last swirl before he showed the edge of it stuck in the ground. His eyes locked into yours, expression for once missing a smile and you wanted to scoff. Okay, you got the message. He trusted you that this was the right move, and that you hopefully wouldn’t doom all of you to another round of Fish-empress-tyranny.

      Slowly, as the Empress’s howlbeasts saw the glimmer of Feferi’s new tiara and the revolutionist followed their leader, the weapons clattered down on the ground.

      --------------------

      You weren’t going to lie.

      You were liking this more and more.

      Feferi had grabbed Karkat’s hand and on the other side of her you could see Eridan taking her useless left, under her cape. Your friends caught on rather quickly, more or less willingly the twelve of you formed a line.

      “Symbolic as shit.” You said as you took Karkat’s hand in yours and felt Terezi join up on your right, her hand searching down your arm before squeezing your hand probably intentionally a little bit too hard. You gave her a smile you knew she couldn’t see, but would doubtlessly expect.

      “No. We are not doing that.” Karkat tensed on Feferi’s side and you glanced towards her with a confused expression. In return you got Feferi grinning at you and sending a quick some

      “Ready sister?" Feferi answered with a grin full of teeth, and Karkat replied with a groan as you felt his muscles tense, as if to strain against you and your fish-sisters idea. Not enough to stop you.  Together you raised your hands and the others followed suit a moment later.

      Joined hand by hand you watched the adults beneath you look at each other, enemies and friends alike. It was far from something understanding, actually, the expression mirrored the opposite. Disgust, confusion and uncertainty flowed like a heavy cloth over the battlefield. But, at least they weren’t killing each other anymore. That had to count for something.

      And they were looking at Karkat, short between their new Empress and a Subjugglator he probably looked interesting and when you finally let your hands fall you put his hand to your mouth, giving a small, gentle kiss against his knuckles, bowing your head.

      Karkat glared, questioning and then realizing as you took a step back. You all took a step back, leaving the stage to him. He nodded and if you listened clearly, you could almost hear the beating of his blood flowing quickly through his body.

      You dropped his hand and with that he walked forward, not looking back, and with little grace climbed up on the same rail where Feferi had stood only minutes ago. He swayed, looking down on the crowd below with a straight back. From what you knew about him, he was probably tens as hell and most likely just wanted to throw all responsibility away within a blink of an eye.

      For all his leader-ambitions, this was the first time he has stood open without anything to hide behind.  Such a brave little fucker.

      You wanted to comfort him, but knew all the same that it wouldn’t really look good with a miniature Subjugglator standing behind the apparent miniature saviour of the oppressed. Might give the wrong people the wrong impression. So you stood your ground, watching Karkat look over the crowd, silence heavy.

      “Good Evening, Bastards.” You couldn’t help but let a grin spread over you face. For once Karkat’s loud voice came to something good. He breathed out and if you followed his eyes, you found the Signless staring up from the front with a smile. Karkat raised his head. “I have a message you need to hear.”

      The crowd quieted. And somewhere, a crack was closing.

      Chapter Text

      .

      ..

      Your name is THE DEMONESS and you have just put one of your friends down for her final rest.

      Outside the shell of the palace, Chaos rules.

      You watch the children of Alternia stand in the front, hands joined together.

      A small line of hope.

      The line break as the Knight steps forward, supported by the Bard, the Witch, the Seer, the Mage, the Maid, the Page, the Heir, the Prince, the Rouge, the Thief, the Sylph.

      The Chaos shivers.

      “…I’m Karkat Vantas. Now, I know about half of you are thinking about how to kill me as soon as possible. The other half is thinking about how to get rid of your new Empress. To all of you: try to get your head out of your ass, please? Seriously, all of this is just a load of bullshit.”

      And stops.

       “It’s Time to Change.”

      Your name is THE HANDMAID. And you think you finally can be happy.

      ..

      .

       

      Time to Change or to Change Time END