If there was one part about SGRUB being over that Karkat was glad about, it was that he could finally relax. No more jumping up to kill an imp, no more trying not to die, no more anything. He could sit at his computer in his hive and talk to his friends about normal things. The game had completely reset and placed them all back into the world as if none of it had ever happened. The only thing left of the game was the memories and the battle-scars.
But there was one thing he had noticed. The game was trying to pull them back in. it would find weak points in the lives of every person who'd played and would try to lure them back in. it wasn't quite ready to let go of its occupants.
Karkat would hear crabdad making noises to get his attention and when he would go downstairs to see what the fuck he wanted, there it was. It was like, a void. It wasn't any person, but more like, a presence. The game was like a ghost. It was invisible to any one or thing that hadn't been in it and it would wait until the worst possible time to wrap it's claws around you and try to bring you to it.
It could be seen like a shadow but could disappear in an instant and come back as a breeze. It was indescribable. Anyone who hadn't seen or felt it couldn't possibly understand. But let's go back. Before there was the shadow, or the breeze, or the presence, there was just 16 kids, glad they could be back home again.
==> go back
Chapter 2: meeting an alli
Karkat Sat at his husktop and started messaging his friend.
carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling twinArmageddons [TA] at 2:36
CG: HEY ASSHOLE
CG: HAVE YOU NOTICED ANYTHING
CG: KIND OF STRANGE
TA: ii don't know what you're talkiing about kk.
CG: SO YOU HAVENT
CG: FELT ANYTHING
CG: OR SEEN ANYTHING
TA: ii don't beliieve ii have.
TA: ii2 there 2omethiing ii 2hould be worriied about?
CG: NOT IF NOTHING IS FUCKING UNUSUAL
carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling twinArmageddons [TA] at 2:39
It would pass. It was nothing he should worry about. Obviously he was paranoid after the whole game thing. Who wouldn't have PTSD after that shit?
He ought to just sleep for a couple days and he'd be fine. Sure. It was probably lack of sleep. They had just ended the game and he had hardly slept the entire time.
Karkat made his way to the slime pod on the other side of the room and was about to get inside but stopped silently as he felt a cold stare on his back.
It felt as if someone was blowing cold wind at him. He turned around immediately, expecting someone to be standing there. Something, anything. But nothing. He found himself alone in his respiteblock as per usual. He sighed with relief and turned towards the slime pod again to see the slime was dark. It looked black, "What the everloving fuck?!" Karkat jumped back, afraid it would come to life and attack him or some fucked up shit like that.
The slime stayed where it belonged and Karkat decided he could do without. He was on the verge of panic as he turned to leave the room. He made his way to the nutriblock and opened the thermal hull looking for something to take his mind off of the unspeakable oddities that had been popping up around him lately.
He found that the hive was unusually quiet. He didn't like it this quiet. Something was innevitably wrong. He shut the door of the hull and looked through each room. He saw nothing. Where the fuck was crabdad?!
Karkat felt eyes watching him, "CRABDAD GET THE FUCK OUT HERE. I KNOW YOURE WATCHING ME. WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT?!" He got no response. This was unnerving. He pulled out his sickle from his strife specibus and kept it at the ready. He couldn't handle this. The game was bad enough when he was in it but he was actually beginning to think maybe it was worse being out of it. He couldn't take this gnawing at the back of his head that kept telling him that someone was there. Someone was watching. And someone was approaching. The troll jumped in the opposite direction and thrust out his sickle, catching nothing but air.
He knew he was making a fool of himself but with this presence lurking, he didn't give a shit. He kept swinging. He swore to gog there must have been a ghost there. But suddenly, it was gone. He was alone. And this pissed him off, "WHAT?! YOU'RE GOING TO TOSS YOUR UGLY SELF INTO MY LIFE AND THEN JUST DISAPPEAR WHEN THINGS GET INTERESTING? IF YOU'RE GONNA STALK ME, COME FIGHT ME AND STOP BEING A COWARD!" The troll screamed in frustration. He felt warmth surrounding him. Please god tell him he was not on fire!
He was not. He wasn't in pain. He felt himself being lifted, inches above the ground. He just stared, unable to make any sounds as he was lifted to his respiteblock. He was left in the chair in front of his husktop. He watch the blank screen do things of its own accord. The page for adding a new contact opened and an unknown language began to ppear in the box befoe opening a contact that was added.
What the fuck was going on here?? he watched as a chat screen opened and plain black text began popping up on his screen
XX: Don't try
XX: To get away
XX: Are mine
The text stopped and the husktop sparked before the screen went black. His whole hive devoid of power. He looked around nervously in the dark, pulling his sickles back out to ward off any unknown being. He felt alone though. More alone than he had ever been. He knew, his friends no longer existed. He was alone in this universe and he had no one.
He tried restarting his husktop but it wouldn't respond. Karkat's yellow and red eyes flickered around the room, his mouth opening and closing every now and then as he breathed shallowly. He was alone.
He walked to his doorway and felt a presence appear quickly just to disappear a half second later. He pulled his unwilling body towards the exit of his hive and opened it. Nothing. He was in nothing but black. He dared not take a single step off his doorstep for fear of falling.
The troll stared with unease as the blackness began to turn into a clouded gray. He watched an unbelievable scene unfolding before his eyes. There was a ground beginning to materialize in front of the door step, spreading it's way out like an unrolling carpet.
The grass was a dull gray color that made Karkat worry if there would be any color left. Whatever was happening was scaring him. Karkat Vantas hardly ever got scared. Karkat Vantas had lived through hell and back in a stupid game that wanted him dead. Karkat Vantas wasn't letting, after all of that bullshit, a gray world, make him snap. Small shrubberies began to grow in quick motions, like the stroke of a paintbrush was building the branches and smears of ink were designing the leaves.
He wouldn't deny the subtle beauty of the earth that was still a dull gray. Even in that shade, it was like a modern black and white movie... minus the white. It made a whole new contrast to things he had seen a million times. But the landscape was different from where his hive should be. The game wasn't simply taking revenge on him by turning his former planet completely gray; no, it was moving him. To where, he didn't know, but this... this was not his home.
The Cancer took a step into the soft gray grass and looked at his hive. The entire building was gray, of course. Except... what? Except for the doorknob. The doorknob of his front door was bright, candy red. He panicked; what if someone saw it? What if they found out his blood color. What if they culled him?!
The troll ran to the door and ran his fingers over the smooth metal, finally taking to trying to scrape the color off. It was no use. It wasn't paint, or dried blood or something he could get rid of; the doorknob was simply-put and permanently red.
The troll watched as the farther reaches of this world continued unfolding. Mountains in the farther reaches of the landscape, an ocean probably a thousand feet from his hive, and trees all along behind him. He seemed to have been moved to the border of a forest.
Karkat was shocked and jumped back as a bright red light appeared from the doorknob and shot towards him. He tried to run from it but it collided with him and secured to him. It wasn't a thing, just a light. He didn't know what to do in response to this.
The troll had been silent nearly the entire time. He had nothing to say to his surroundings. He just wanted to figure out what the fuck was happeing.
He ran towards the ocean to see if he could see something from there. The troll turned around to make sure he could see his way back but was shocked to find the light was stretching. It was like fluid water that attached him to the door of his hive. Well... that was kind of cool. He didn't like his blood being broadcasted but at least if they culled him they could find their way back to deliver the body.
Karkat tentatively held his fingers over the light, it went through his hand as if he was a ghost, and continued on, connecting right near his heart. He looked up, noticing a flash of light. He looked towards where it came from and saw a purple light. It was the color of his moirail's text. He creased his forehead and stared at it. It was a bright, shiny, indigo purple color. He immediately ran for it.
Maybe his moirail would know how to help him. He approached the hive cautiously and found that the doorknob was indeed and indigo purple. It wasn't, however, connecting to any troll's body. He let a look of concern cross over his face. He hoped Gamzee was home. He let his hand raise and was about to knock when he strained to hear a voice inside.
"What the motherfuck... this is motherfuckin not bitchtits awesome. This is the total motherfucking opposite of bitchtits awesome. This is horrible. Why is my faygo this nasty gray color; the fuck?"
Karkat paused to listen longer but the voice stopped. He raised his hand to knock again but the voice started again, "What the motherfuck is that??" the voice said tentatively as he heard footsteps moving across a wooden floor, "Whoa... what in the name of any and all mirthful messiahs happened to the ocean??" Karkat looked to his right to notice a dark window which he assumed the highblooded troll was looking out of.
He finally raised a fist to knock on the door and his friend took his time coming to answer it. He opened the door, looking slightly stoned as he let a frown take over his features, "Karkat, what on Alternia are you doin here?"
Karkat looked inside the hive, indeed, seeing everything was gray. He didn't know what to reply to his friend because honestly, he had no fucking idea why he was here, "Um... I think the game is pissed off..."
Gamzee turned around to point to a dark black figure on the opposite side of the room, "Oh so that's what that motherfucker is huh."
The red-blooded troll growled, "Yeah, that's what that fucking is. The game is being a huge fucking asshole and apparently..." Karkat glanced towards his hive some ways away, "I live here now... and also, every fucking thing is gray."
Gamzee leaned out the door and looked the distance between his and Karkat's hives, "Sweet motherfuck, that's just tits. We can hang the fuck out all day now!"
Karkat growled again, "No it is not motherfucking tits. This is horrible!!"
Gamzee smiled and stepped outside, closing the door behind him, "Calm the fuck down Karkles I'm sure there's a motherfucking reason the game is doing this." Gamzee walked down the porch towards the ocean.
"Except... I don't like the ocean this color..." Gamzee said sadly as he turned back towards his friend who still stood on his porch. The troll jumped and watched the ground, drawing his eyes closer to himself until he was finally staring down at his purple shirt, "Hey bro, check this shit out..."
Karkat glared, "Check what out?"
Gamzee pointed to himself, "You don't motherfuckin see it?" Karkat scoffed, "Yeah you're a drop-dead gorgeous clown. Please woo me and sweep me off my feet to become eternal matesprits and run off into the skaian sunset.
What the fuck are you on about?"
Gamzee gave his friend a funny look, "There's a motherfucking purple light attached to me and you don't motherfuckin see it..."
Karkat raised his eyebrows, "Oh... So you have one too?" Gamzee tilted his head, "Too? I don't see anything on you..." Karkat shrugged, "I guess we can only see our own... anyway, I think they're to fucking lead us back to our hives. It should be attached to the doorknob." Gamzee looked over at the purple doorknob and nodded.
"I guess we'd better find some motherfuckin thing to do..."
The two looked around and finally Karkat turned towards the forest. He jumped as the light that attached to him shot a different direction, "the fuck..." he cursed quietly under his breath. The light was now going from his doorknob, to him, and then through him and leading into the forest. He looked over at his moirail, "Hey numbnuts, has that light attached to you gone any different directions?" Gamzee looked down at the light and around him to see if it had gone anywhere, "Nope just on me. Wait...."
Karkat jolted his head up, "What?"
"It's also on the motherfuckin doorknob." The idiot said making a blank face with a shitty doped up smile slapped right in the middle of it.
The red-blood glowered and nodded toward the forest, "Fine, follow me."
Gamzee sidled up beside his friend and followed him into the forest.
Unlike the usual forest floor which should be covered in dead twigs and old decomposed leaves, the floor of this wood was made of nothing but winding roots and flat, grassy ground. Karkat appreciated that. It would make it easier to walk on, as long as he didn't trip over an roots.
He was getting kinf of tired of following this fucking light. The shit was obnoxious and constantly let him know what his blood was colored. He wanted nothing to do with it... and yet, it was attached to him. He knew whatever it was that was on the other end must be important, otherwise, why would it be there in the first place?
The Cancer and Capricorn walked for almost an hour before the two became aware of a change in their surroundings. The trees were beginning to thin and a thick foggy scent began to fill the air as they walked. It smelled sweet and dark at the same time. Like sugar mixed with asphalt. The two continued. Karkat was half surprised that Gamzee hadn't asked once where they were going. It kind of scared the troll that his companion put so much leaderly trust into the young troll.
As they entered into a short city, meaning the buildings were of one-story height, the red light began to glow a little more as if they were getting close to the end of the line.
Gamzee finally spoke up, which was surprising because as contradictory to common assumption, he hadn't been rambling the entire time like most would think; he'd been silent.
"Hey, bro, I think I know what you were asking earlier..."
Karkat creased his forehead, "What the fuck do you mean?"
Gamzee shrugged, "It looks like this light thing just went over there." He pointed to their right and Karkat noticed a street
"Well, is it blinking?" Gamzee shook his head. Karkat continued walking, "Then keep following me."
Gamzee did as told. Karkat's light was fading in and out as if blinking to tell him he was close. Might as well not start off with something far away when he was close to his unknown goal.
The two kept quiet as they walked down the sidewalk. No one was around but Karkat had to assume he wasn't alone here with his jackass moirail. The light had to go somewhere.
He finally saw the light go into a dark alley, pitch black with no light to let him know who or what dwelt in there. He would have stopped and waited a while to think through whether this was such a good idea but Gamzee spoke up again.
"Hey bro, is it down that alley?" Karkat nodded as he turned to his friend.
"You think we should keep going?" Karkat asked. His friend answered by prodding him forward with a hand to his back.
The shorter troll lead on and into the pitch black alleyway. They kept walking until they could hardly see, even with their advanced cat-like eyes. Karkat noticed the alley was coming to an end and looked concerned. He watched the light flow steadily into a brick wall.
"What a fucking rip-off! The fucking light is trying to tell me to go through this brick wall. Shouldn't it be showing me a way to the goal with a pathway I can actually fucking walk through?"
Gamzee seemed to be ignoring his buddy but against his friend's knowledge, he had heard every word and was staring intently at the wall.
"Come on asswipe, don't blank out on me now. Hey! Fuckhead!"
the smaller troll continued on his rant but the taller ignored him as he pressed a hand against the wall, he felt a brick give way and move in an inch. The wall was suddenly not so solid anymore as it made a click and opened a couple centimeters.
Karkat stood with his mouth opened in disbelief, "Bro, before flipping your metaphorical shit, maybe you should all up and admire your surroundings."
Karkat restrained himself from strangling his moirail. Idiot had no right to make him look stupid next to his sopor-induced self.
The Capricorn took a tentative step inside after pushing the secret door open. Karkat followed inside to find himself in a darkened room. It seemed abandoned save for a bed with a thick blanket laying over it and a spare pare of clothes folded on a wooden chair in the corner.
He looked around for someone. The light told him to check the next room. The next room over was to the right and across the room. The two walked towards the doorway, Karkat a few feet ahead, eager to see what they would find.
He found himself staring straight at something he never thought he would see in a million sweeps.
He stepped forward, "Um... hi..."
The troll who sat quietly at the kitchen table made no move to address the Cancer.
Karkat walked forward, bending down to stare into the troll's eyes. They made no flickering glance to show that he'd registered he was no longer alone.
Karkat waved a hand in front of the troll's face. He finally decided he should be concerned. He held out a slow and tentative hand to place it on the troll's shoulder. The troll jumped back, pulling out two sickles from next to the table. Karkat would be shocked by the reaction but he was dumbfounded as from his standing point, unfolded the missing colors of the landscape. He felt as though maybe he had just been added. Like maybe his transfer from Alternia to this mystery place had been incomplete, and by making contact with this troll, he was finishing registration.
His thoughts went back to the matter at hand. But the troll that stood a foot away from him no longer looked aggressive or defensive, he looked scared. Shocked. Karkat looked up at the troll's face, recognizing without a doubt what would have to be his ancestor.
The troll dropped the weapons in his hands. His fingers shaking, “Who are you?”
Karkat's hands dropped to his sides and his forehead creased, “Who are you?”
“I asked you first...”
Karkat rolled his eyes. Sheesh, if he'd known his ancestor would act as childish as him he might not have been as enthused to meet him.
“Carmine Vireal. How did you get in here? I didn't hear you come in.”
“It's a pretty fucking long story.”
“Tell me about it.”
“I will on the way. I'm pretty sure we have some places to go. This is my friend Gamzee, he's coming with us.” Karkat pointed over his shoulder but Carmine just stared.
“I don't see any friend.”
“Oh.... I guess he hasn't been checked in yet. The reason you can see me... is because you're my ancestor and I came into contact with you. Also, just as some trivia, in case you're fucking interested, when you haven't been checked in, everything is in black and white.”
“What do you mean checked in?”
“I mean, until we find our ancestor, I'm gathering, everything is in black and white and no one can see us. And by us, I mean me and my eleven friends. Or maybe fifteen, I have some alien friends but I don't think they're part of this.”
Carmine raised an eyebrow, “How do I know you aren't crazy?”
“Have you looked in a fuckin mirror lately? I think it's pretty obvious we're sharing the same fucking genes.”
Karkat rolled his eyes and looked over to a crash. Gamzee was on his back in the chair in the other room, tipped over backwards, “Nice one, moron.”
Carmine looked at the seemingly empty chair, “Was that... did your friend do that?”
“Yeah. And I already told you, his name is Gamzee.”
Karkat grabbed his friend by the hand and yanked him off the floor. He started toward the door, “Wait...”
“What?” He turned around to look at Carmine.
“I don't really go out in public...”
“Why the fuck not?”
“What? Gamzee isn't paying any attention, what's your deal?”
“My blood color...”
It finally struck Karkat. This troll didn't only share the same looks as him; he shared the same cursed blood color.
Carmine seemed to have looked down at Karkat's shirt, “What's that for?”
“This?” Karkat pointed down at his shirt, “It's my sign, what the fuck else?”
“Why do you have a pair of Alternian handcuffs as your sign?”
“Hell if I know.”
“Why is it gray?”
“Why the fuck do you think?”
“Don't you get questioned?”
“No, there's only eleven other trolls on the planet and they don't really give a shit.”
“Yeah, that's what I said, fucknuts.”
“What happened to the rest of the race?”
“I don't know... went extinct I guess.”
Carmine seemed shocked and he waited for Karkat to say something more. Karkat shook his head and turned towards the door, “Well, we have to go find one of my friends. I really don't have any idea where she might be.”
“Which motherfuckin friend do we gotta all up and locate?”
“Because she's next up on the hemospectrum, duh.”
“Whoa... Does that mean you all up and got red blood like her?”
“Something like that,” Karkat mumbled before stepping outside and starting down the alley.
Carmine stopped him a few feet from the door, “I can't go out there.”
“I'm wanted. Even if I wasn't wanted, I would be questioned for walking around with a child.”
“Child? I'm seven sweeps old. I would hardly call myself a child.”
“Well... are we leaving the city?”
“Yeah, I'm guessing Aradia probably isn't in any place as convenient as the city I'm in. That would be way too easy.”
“Aradia is one of your friends?”
“Duh. Not like I know anyone else on this planet right now other than my friends.”
“Well, as long as we're leaving the city, I should be fine. I'm most popularly wanted here. Outside the city limits no one really bothers to memorize my face.”
“What the fuck did you do to get wanted?”
“My blood color, moron. Why else?”
Karkat squinted at his ancestor. So he did have attitude.
Carmine pulled him back inside and grabbed a bag, slinging it over one shoulder and stuffing his spare clothes inside along with the meager supply of food that sat on the bare cupboard shelves. They left the building and headed towards the outskirts of town where Karkat and Gamzee had come in at. The red beam of light was now attached between the two red-bloods' chests, through Karkat, and back to his hive.
“Do you have any idea where rust-bloods live? Is there a particular place where they stay?”
“They live where they want to. It isn’t really a matter of blood color, they just find somewhere suitable to their tastes.”
“Fuck. How am I supposed to find someone then? I n- wait a minute I have an idea. Gamzee, do you know if Aradia has a moirail?”
“Not all up and motherfuckin sure. Pretty sure she has a motherfuckin matesprit though. She has a thing all goin on with our blue-blooded brother, Equius.”
“Where does Equius live?”
Karkat couldn’t stand his moirail sometimes but then there were times when Gamzee’s knack for picking up bits of information proved him worthwhile.
“Next to Vriska.”
“Which is where?”
“Hell if I know, motherfucker.”
This was not one of those times.
Karkat grabbed at his hair, “Do you have your communication device with you?”
“Great, give it to me.”
Gamzee pulled out his communicator and handed it to his moirail. Karkat fiddled with it for a minute before remembering the episode with his computer before heading out of his hive.
“Gog damnit, there’s no service here.”
“Why the motherfuck would there be? We’re all maybe about five hundred sweeps in the past, motherfucker.”
Karkat grimaced and tossed Gamzee his communicator, walking back and forth while his fingers rubbed his jawline in concentration. If he could remember where his friends lived, he could go to one of them and ask them if they knew where his other friends lived. If his hunch was right and Aradia was next in line, he should probably consider finding one of his lowblooded friends.
He thought about the few options before stopping at Tavros. He lives by a cliff. How else would Vriska have shoved him off one? Does he have a moirail? No.
“Are there any cliffs around here?”
“There’s a drop-off in one town about four day’s walk from here.”
“Four fucking days??”
“Yeah… I don’t think there are any other cliffs nearby. It’s mostly flat land and cities.”
“Lead the way.”
They started toward the next town. They were mostly walking through dense forest and fields. Karkat wondered if maybe they could get there sooner if they didn't stop for anything but sleep. His theory was proved incorrect when they arrived four days later.
He looked around at the city they had arrived at. Carmine pointed, “The cliff is on the outskirts on the other side of town.”
Karkat rolled his eyes and they continued walking. They stopped at a bakery and Carmine gave Karkat some money to get them something to eat. He came back out with pastries wrapped up in a bag and they continued walking.
“How big is this town anyway? How far is it to get to that cliff?”
“I don't really know, I haven't been here in years.”
Their feet were dragging and it was almost nightfall by the time the buildings started thinning out and the city began to disappear behind them. Karkat could see it; a big cliff. From where they were, the cliff was as steep as ever and dropped a few hundred yards.
Karkat looked around before fixing his eyes on something in the distance. He could definitely see a hive and it was right next to the cliff-side. He waved Carmine and Gamzee after him and led them towards the building half a mile away.
It was unmoving. Karkat was almost scared Tavros had left his house to do some exploring. He decided that was unlikely though. Knowing him, he probably wouldn't leave his home.
He had been staring at the door while thinking and it seemed Gamzee was tired of waiting for him to knock so he took the liberty himself. There was a clatter from upstairs and after what seemed like a million years, the door opened and Tavros stood there in surprise, “Gamzee? Karkat? And... who is, um, who is this?”
“You enjoying the new world?”
“Not at all. My room is all gray now. I, um, I want the colors back.”
Carmine seemed just as unable to see Tavros as Gamzee. Karkat nodded, “I'll tell you how to get the color back if you help us. Do you know where Aradia lives?”
“She lives near the city where Sollux lives.”
“Great, and where's that?”
“Well from here, I have no idea.”
“How big is this city?”
“One of the biggest. The buildings are so tall they look, um, like they're past the clouds, almost. I don't really, um, think they are but... it's a nice thought.”
“Carmine, are there any bigass cities around here with buildings that almost reached the gogdamned sky?”
“I don't think I've ever seen any buildings that big. Even this hive is pretty tall I don't think it's even possible to build buildings that tall without them caving in on themselves.”
“Of course, so there probably is no city. His hive is probably in the middle of fucking nowhere. So, new plan guys. We need to find two hives in the middle of gogdamned nowhere. Get searchin.”
Karkat grabbed Tavros by the arm and pulled him outside, shutting his door, “You're coming with us.”
“What exactly are we, um, doing? And, what is this, that uh, that's happening, anyway? The colors and stuff?”
“SGRUB is pissed off at us, that's what.”
“Oh. I'm not so sure... how to feel about that.”
“There's no time for feelings, we have to find Aradia or Sollux.”
Carmine followed his descendant and his invisible friends, “I think I know where you could look for them...”
Karkat swung around, “Where?”
“Well, there is one place, a village of sorts, where a bunch of yellow-bloods live. Trolls don't usually band together in such big groups of one blood color but it seems the psionics wanted a place to be with their own kind. The village is advancing fast and I think if any part of Alternia were to have a city built like you described, it would be there.”
“Lead the way.” Karkat motioned towards the vast expanse of nothing and Carmine stepped forward, hoping he could remember the way.
~On indefinite hold. [will not be abandoned]