AA: s0 t0m0rr0w is the day we enter the game
AG: What do you want, Ar8dia?
AA: are y0u certain y0u have everything in place
AG: Jeez, I told you this already! Why do you keep 8ugging me?
AA: im just checking in i supp0se
AA: despite the fact that things w0rking 0ut in the way they are supp0sed t0
AA: is s0mething 0f a temp0ral inevitability
AA: s0 h0nestly im n0t sure why im messaging y0u n0w
AG: Nor am I!
AA: i supp0se because i kn0w thats what im supp0sed t0 d0
AG: Ugh. You're always going on and on a8out what's supposed to happen.
AA: yes its s0mething 0f a self fulfilling c0nversati0nal pr0phecy
AG: Just let it happen, would you? Everything is 8ound to go wrong anyway!
AA: n0t exactly
AA: wr0ng isnt a c0ncept that h0lds much weight
AA: in this c0ntext at least
AA: 0f c0urse y0u already kn0w this
AA: 0r at least
AA: y0u might remember this
AG: You're right.
AA: i kn0w
AG: It didn't go wrong after all, did it? We 8eat Jack!
AG: 8ut then…
AG: Why am I 8ack here?
AA: that depends
AA: where d0 y0u think y0u are
AG: This already happened. This was 8efore the game.
AA: tell me vriska
AA: what d0 y0u remember ab0ut the game
AG: We won!
AG: Or rather, I won for you.
AA: n0minally yes
AA: but 0ur vict0ry was simply an integral step t0wards ultimate defeat
AG: And then we got stuck on th8t stupid 8oring asteroid.
AA: yes exactly
AG: 8ecause of Jack. 8ut I 8eat him!
AA: is that what y0u remember
AA: what came bef0re that
AG: This must 8e a dream 8u88le! Feferi kept going on a8out them.
AA: … im afraid so!
AA: that was fast vriska
AA: im actually fairly impressed!
AG: 8ut I don't remem8er when I fell asleep.
AA: oh youre not asleep
AG: I must 8e!
AG: Duh, dream 8u88le!
AA: that doesnt actually follow
AA: these are not dreams as you might be traditionally accustomed to
AA: or really
AA: dreams at all!
AG: So if I'm not asleep where am I, Miss Smarty Pants?
AA: youre in a projection of your own consciousness
AA: ensconced within an atemporal fold functioning outside of the ordinary laws of the universe!
AA: i know
AA: its pretty exciting!
AG: That was literally the most 8oring thing anyone's ever said to me.
AA: well try to quell your disappointment!
AA: you still have things you ought to remember
AA: think back vriska
AA: what did you do before confronting jack
AG: Hold on.
AG: If this is my own consciousness, why are you asking me stupid questions?
AG: You know what I did!
AG: I won.
AA: i never said you were alone with your own thoughts!
AA: im afraid im something of a psychological house guest
AA: and whilst i might be able to infer what you did
AA: this isnt actually about what i know!
AA: its about what you can remember
AG: I'm stuck in my hive with you.
AG: This is really a dream come true, Aradia.
AA: youre not actually stuck anywhere at all
AG: Well, I remember everything!
AG: So there.
AA: and yet you still cant tell me why youre here
AA: why is that vriska
AA: you dont remember falling asleep
AA: because you didnt sleep
AG: Of coooooooourse I did!
AA: tell me when and where
AG: I don't have to tell you everything.
AG: 8ut since you ask...
AG: Well, it was after you exploded!
AA: yes i did do that didnt i
AG: You went and 8lew up like the faily fail you are.
AA: for the record it was temporary
AA: as you can see!
AA: but meaningless snippets of animosity aside
AA: what do you remember doing after i exploded
AG: Well, then Pupa was a dum8 fail too.
AG: I mean Team Charge really pulled out all the stops in stupid!
AA: you murdered him
AG: Only technically.
AG: And look
AG: I guess maaaaaaaay8e that was a little hasty.
AG: I'm sorry, okay!
AA: i know that
AA: i think tavros might even know that too
AA: its not enough
AA: but i know it
AG: Can't a girl make a couple of mistakes!
AG: 8ut noooooooo.
AG: Everyone acts like it's this 8ig deal.
AG: Well it isn't really.
AG: Worse things happen in the fleet!
AA: worse things than impaling someone you like and trust with his own weapon
AG: I'm just doing what trolls do 8est.
AG: Is that so wrong?
AA: you can delude yourself if you like
AA: i mean
AA: no one is going to stop you
AA: no one actually possesses the capability to stop you now
AA: and i suppose
AA: being locked within your own consciousness wont help broaden your perspective
AA: which is partially why im here now!
AG: Well thanks a lot!
AG: It's nice to know there's someone looking out for me.
AG: No-one asked what you think!
AA: i dont actually care whether youre grateful or not
AA: or even whether or not you care what i think
AA: you do care by the way
AA: but thats probably beside the point
AG: So Pupa got in the way and I had to deal with him.
AG: And then Terezi started getting on my case too!
AA: everyone seems to have a habit of getting in the way of what you need to do
AA: dont they
AA: people arent obstacles vriska
AG: Sometimes they are!
AA: is that what you really think
AG: Why couldn't you just understand I knew what I was doing!
AA: do you actually think that too
AA: or is this more bluster
AG: Sometimes people tell you the wrong thing. You have to ignore them if you want to win!
AA: winning isnt actually anyones prerogative at the moment
AA: for the record
AG: 8ut I did win.
AA: for a given definition of the word
AA: i suppose you might have done
AG: Even you can't take that away from me.
AG: Don't even try.
AA: i dont think it actually means very much
AA: so there would be no point in trying
AA: even if that were a physical or psychological possibility!
AG: Talk talk talk.
AG: You always say so much Aradia.
AG: Well I was the one who actually did things!
AG: I won Terezi's stupid coin flip.
AG: And then I went after Jack.
AA: and what happened then
AA: after you won i mean
AG: Well I 8eat him!
AG: Of course I did!
AA: i need you to focus vriska
AA: try to remember
AA: what happened after that
AG: I was god tier.
AG: I was 8etter than all of you.
AG: I 8eat him.
AG: And everyone else died.
AA: but you won!
AG: I didn't mean for that to happen.
AA: did you actively try to prevent it
AG: I knew I would 8eat him!
AG: And I did!
AG: I didn't think he would actually find them.
AG: This is all my fault!
AG: I should have killed him faster!
AG: Then he wouldn't have 8een a8le to kill them!
AA: youve always hidden in between desperate and superficial dichotomies like a frightened wriggler!
AA: so the truth is
AA: life isnt necessarily as polarised as you think it is
AA: life is more of a limitless pattern with numerous interweaving strands and repeating motifs!
AA: it possesses far more than two sides
AG: There weren't any strands.
AG: There wasn't anything.
AG: Except me.
AG: And then...
AG: Why don't I remem8er?
AA: i dont know
AA: maybe youre not letting yourself remember
AG: I defeated Jack and I was all alone and I
AA: you what
AG: I didn't want everyone to 8e dead.
AG: I'm not a monster.
AA: i suppose thats reasonable!
AA: though uncharacteristic
AG: 8ut there wasn't even anyone to know I'd won.
AG: I tried to tell John.
AG: 8ut he wouldn't answer.
AA: so you were alone
AA: what happened then
AG: I walked around the meteor for a while, looking for people.
AG: I didn't know how many people had died at first.
AG: I knew Jack had killed Karkat and Terezi.
AG: 8ut the rest...
AG: I don't know what happened to them.
AA: more strands of circumstance
AA: and more foregone conclusions
AA: essentially what amounts to loose ends curtailed
AA: so you knew you were alone
AA: what then
AG: I wanted to get off the meteor after I'd found all the 8odies.
AG: 8ut where was I meant to go?
AG: Jack ruined everything!
AG: He destroyed all of the planets!
AA: i know
AA: we knew that from the start
AG: He didn't leave anywhere for me!
AG: I'd earned it!
AG: 8ut I didn't have anywhere to go.
AA: theres no administrative rewards system for killing!
AA: so you struggled for a while and found yourself more or less displaced
AA: what did you decide then
AG: Wh8t do you think?
AG: If you know so much, you tell me!
AA: its not really my task to tell you!
AA: were working on the basis of what you know not what im aware of
AA: which isnt actually all that much
AA: this timeline has escaped my jurisdiction
AA: so im more in the dark than you!
AG: Your jurisdiction? Th8t's rich!
AA: well its not exactly official
AA: i dont actually control the boundaries of my prognostication
AG: Th8t was my life, Aradia!
AG: It was my universe!
AG: Just mine!!!!!!!!
AA: i only know what i can piece together
AA: so please calm down and lets decipher it together
AA: what happened after you realised you were alone and had nowhere to go
AG: what do you think
AG: I'm not dreaming, am I Aradia?
AG: I'm dead.
AA: and yes!
AA: no youre not dreaming
AA: and yes youre dead
AA: youve gone silent
AA: its not actually so hideous a conclusion!
AG: I had a whole universe to myself!
AG: It was meant to 8e my reward!
AG: Why was it so hard 8eing away from all you idiots?
AG: Why was it so 8oring on my own?
AA: i dont know
AA: youre not as self sufficient as youd like to be
AG: I should have 8een happy!
AA: and maybe thats a positive thing!
AA: not the not being happy part
AA: but the wanting companionship part!
AA: no one can be entirely self sustaining vriska
AA: and i think you know that!
AA: or at least
AA: you recognise that now
AG: Well now I'm dead!
AG: And it's
AG: it's my fault.
AG: Isn't it?
AA: i dont thing death can really be condensed into a fault
AA: its more of an opportunity!
AA: you have endless worlds to explore vriska
AA: and boundless creativity!
AA: the dream bubbles are capable of sustaining anything
AG: And I'm meant to explore them with you?
AA: not just me
AA: youre not the only dead troll by a long stretch!
AA: but id be willing to go with you
AA: if you wanted
AG: I'm not sure I want to see them.
AG: I killed them, didn't I?
AA: who in particular
AG: I led Jack to Karkat and Terezi.
AG: And I stabbed Tavros.
AG: And I killed you.
AA: yes and yes and not exactly
AA: im not dead silly!
AA: even if you did kill me
AG: Why didn't I see you? I looked everywhere I could!
AG: I thought I was all alone!
AA: i cant speak for my actions within an alternate timeline
AA: i suspect i was preoccupied
AG: You're such a 8itch!
AG: You hid from me!
AG: I needed you!
AA: i think thats unlikely
AA: but yes
AA: you needed me
AA: or at least someone
AG: I h8 you I h8 you I h8 you I h8 you I h8 you I h8 you I h8 you I h8 you!
AA: dont do this
AA: this is really childish!
AG: I h8 myself!
AG: Why am I such a 8itch to everyone?
AG: No wonder you hid from me!
AG: Who would ever want to hang around a murderer like me?
AA: i honestly cant answer that question!
AA: but i doubt i purposely hid from you
AA: i mean
AA: it doesnt sound like something id do
AA: case in point
AA: im here now
AG: Thank you.
AA: youre welcome!
AA: youre not irredeemable vriska
AA: youre not hopeless or worthless
AA: this coming from the girl you killed!
AA: youre petty and spiteful and often frustrating!
AA: but that doesnt mean i dont want to help you
AA: or that youre not worth helping
AG: I'm not!
AG: I killed a third of the trolls I know!
AG: John stopped talking to me as soon as I told him how I felt!
AA: it occurs to me that this spike in self loathing is actually really counterproductive!
AA: i suppose i thought that if you learned a measure of humility
AA: things might work out
AA: but i think i might have miscalculated
AG: Well what am I meant to do?
AG: I don't understand!!!!!!!!
AA: you dont have to understand!
AA: all of my life
AA: and my death
AA: ive understood things far too well
AA: and it didnt really help!
AG: Do you...
AG: may8e want to talk a8out it?
AG: I mean, since we're stuck here anyway and I don't have anything 8etter to do.
AG: You might as well.
AA: suppose so
AA: ive always known exactly what needs to occur
AA: down to the most insignificant detail
AA: and i know that the insignificant details tend to be the most important!
AA: ive always factored in everything that needs to transpire
AA: in order to fulfil an eventuality that has already to all intents and purposes taken place
AG: Th8t sounds really 8oring!
AA: is more or less
AA: a correct description
AG: W8ing around for things that you already know all a8out.
AG: Don't you ever want to choose what's going to happen?
AG: So why didn't you?
AG: I kept trying to win! Even if I didn't in the end.
AA: because everything i might have striven to achieve was already fated to take place
AA: and so any form of effort would tie in with the grander self fulfilling prophecy!
AA: and so mostly i destroyed things in order to vent the frustration
AA: and it turns out that served a greater purpose too!
AA: which was sort of annoying in its own way
AG: I never really thought you were doing anything.
AG: 8ut I guess I didn't think a8out a lot of things very well.
AG: So what a8out now?
AA: now things are definitely different!
AA: im at the centre of all possibilities
AA: and i enjoy being alive again!
AA: alive and able to ease the transition between life and death
AA: and also able to help people form new connections
AA: via older memories
AG: Like wh8t?
AA: ive been helping people find each other
AA: sollux has been reunited with feferi
AA: tavros is with a doomed dave
AA: and the alpha timeline version of you is with john!
AG: That's gr8. I 8et they're all really happy.
AA: you dont sound exceptionally pleased
AG: Well what a8out you?
AG: Sometimes you have to think a8out yourself!
AG: What do you want?
AA: im happy working with dead people!
AA: oh wow that sounded morbid
AA: i mean
AA: i just think death isnt something to despise
AA: or even regret
AG: Well that's a good start. 8ut you have to want something!
AA: is there a rule that says that
AG: You spent your whole first life thinking a8out other people!
AG: And I spent mine thinking a8out me.
AG: Now it's time we 8oth changed that.
AA: okay maybe
AG: So what do you really want?
AG: And I'll help you find it!
AA: is this an actual offer
AA: or are you just getting carried away with this
AA: because your previous efforts at reformation havent been amazingly productive
AG: If you don't want to say you don't have to.
AG: If you're too scared.
AG: Not everyone can go for what they really want! Some people just have to settle for second prize!
AA: thats not going to work vriska!
AA: im not goaded that easily!
AA: and youre insanely obnoxious
AA: i hope people have told you this before
AG: They have.
AG: 8ut I don't care.
AG: I said I didn't.
AA: i think you care more than you realise!
AA: i suppose im sorry
AA: for calling you obnoxious
AG: I'm sorry for 8eing o8noxious.
AA: okay thats fair!
AG: This turning over a new leaf is haaaaaaaard.
AA: its not designed to be easy!
AG: 8ut I'm trying!
AG: And I really do want to help you.
AA: i think im beginning to get that
AG: Where else do I have to go?
AA: dont give me fatalism vriska!
AA: you can go anywhere
AA: i can take you to be with anyone
AG: 8ut… may8e I don't want to?
AG: Everyone else sounds happy as they are!
AG: I'm tired of 8arging into people's lives so that I can 8e happy!
AA: happiness isnt a finite resource
AA: but maybe thats an admirable thing to decide
AA: it is probably definitely admirable
AA: if a little too self effacing!
AA: wow i never thought id actually say that about you
AG: Well I never thought I'd actually want to stick around you!
AA: you do
AA: wow okay
AA: actually really sweet!
AG: Don't let it go to your head or anything!
AG: I just meant th8t since I'm already 8ugging you I might as well not 8ug anyone else!
AA: that sounds
AA: logical enough
AA: you dont actually hate me do you
AA: i thought as much
AA: but it seemed prudent to check!
AG: I never really h8ed you.
AA: because i was under the impression you despised me from the start
AA: even before we really knew each other all that well!
AG: I just wanted you out of the way!
AG: Which was a 8ad way to think a8out someone. I see that now!
AA: well if its any consolation
AA: i always sort of resented you
AA: your egregious sense of entitlement
AA: your narcissism
AA: and i suppose
AA: your existence in general
AA: so neither of us were particularly commendable!
AG: I guess not.
AA: it was all so silly
AA: i mean talk about immature!
AG: We were kids!
AG: Even if it wasn't really all that long ago.
AA: i know
AA: but its sort of embarrassing in retrospect
AG: We've all grown up since then.
AA: well definitely!
AA: i think the game is prone to doing that
AA: making people grow up i mean
AA: i think its something of a by-product of participation!
AG: I guess we kind of won after all?
AA: if you want to put it in those excruciatingly binary terms
AA: then sure! :)
AA: okay i think thats actually the first time weve smiled at each other in a friendly and non-combative manner
AA: its a nice change!
AG: It is!
AA: honestly im not sure what i was expecting when i came here
AA: i think i wanted to change you
AA: regardless of whether you wanted to listen to me!
AA: which was sort of stupid and presumptuous
AG: I definitely wasn't expecting this!
AG: 8ut… I didn't expect much of anything.
AG: And even if I had, I don't think I ever would have thought I might actually like talking to you.
AA: shocking conclusions abound!
AG: I just wish I'd tried thinking this way when I was alive!
AG: Then may8e I wouldn't have wanted to kill myself.
AA: is that what you really did
AG: It seems so stupid now!
AA: how did you make it stick
AA: i mean considering the whole god tier factor
AA: if thats not an insensitive thing to ask!
AG: I don't know. I never really thought a8out it!
AG: I guess... may8e my death was just.
AG: I just couldn't stand 8eing all alone with everyone I'd killed.
AG: Then I woke up here.
AA: i never really took much stock in the heroic/just spectrum
AA: like i said
AA: binaries arent useful!
AA: and youre not a straightforward villain in some wriggler's tale!
AG: Sometimes they're right though.
AA: not as often as youd think!
AG: Some things have to 8e one thing or the other!
AA: i dont think that despising yourself is going to benefit anyone!
AA: theres a funny sort of arrogance in that
AG: I wasn't talking a8out me!
AG: I don't know if I was right or wrong.
AG: I definitely don't know if I was a winner or a loser.
AG: 8ut may8e that doesn't matter now!
AA: that is more or less
AA: exactly what ive been lecturing you about
AA: for close to an hour
AG: I'm dead.
AA: i know
AG: That is a 8inary!
AG: And the other side is that you're alive!
AA: but ive been dead
AA: and ive been in a liminal state between dead and alive as a sprite
AG: 8ut you're alive now.
AA: well okay yes
AG: You still matter!
AA: you matter too!
AA: death isnt a sudden inculcation of irrelevancy
AG: Not just here, 8ut everywhere!
AG: So what are you going to do?
AA: do i have to work that out now
AA: i like being a conduit between the living and dead
AG: 8ut you can't always 8e here!
AA: do you want me to leave
AG: The dead only really matter to each other.
AG: Surely you don't really want to hang around us forever?
AA: thats not true at all!
AA: i hadnt really given it much thought
AA: beyond a cursory analysis that is!
AA: cant i think about what i want to do now
AA: instead of planning
AA: im sick of planning
AA: and im sick of inescapable plans more than anything!
AG: So don't plan!
AG: 8ut do something!
AA: what exactly do you want from me here vriska
AG: Sometimes Aradia...
AG: You're so 8oring!
AG: Think of something!
AA: and sometimes youre monumentally arrogant but im not grilling you about that!
AA: anyway if youre so creative
AA: what do you think i should do
AG: I think you should
AA: stop that
AG: 8E CRE8IVE!!!!!!!!
AA: oh my god!
AA: you are such an idiot!
AA: this is ridiculous
AG: No, not yelling at me!
AG: You already did th8t!
AA: you were the one screaming in my ear!
AA: what if im not used to having this much agency!
AA: what if i could use some help too!
AG: You need practise!
AA: how exactly am i meant to practice being free
AG: How a8out this?
AA: did you just
AA: attempt to kiss me and miss
AA: i think thats what just happened here
AG: That could 8e what happened.
AA: you bashed your nose into my ear!
AA: no one can be that directionally inept!
AG: I was 8eing spontaneous!
AG: Jeez, you try to help someone!
AA: right because that was entirely magnanimous and self-effacing!
AA: are you okay
AA: because that looked painful
AG: I'm okay.
AG: I think.
AG: Am I 8leeding?
AA: youre not bleeding!
AA: it probably wont even bruise
AA: do you maybe
AA: want to try that again
AA: only a little slower
AA: and not quite so forcefully
AG: Like this? :::;)
AA: i guess that was a little more successful!
AG: A little????????
AA: i think youre getting the hang of it
AA: directionally speaking at least
AA: sorry did you want me to be more effusive
AG: Oh, like you're an expert!
AG: You don't know everything a8out everything, you know!
AA: i was trying to give constructive feedback okay!
AG: If you ask me, it's you who needs to practise!
AA: thats because youre clinically incapable of admitting any weakness!
AA: hows this for practice!
AG: 8etter. 8ut still not up to my standards.
AA: i think that got a little too
AA: for comfort
AA: we should probably stop arguing about this!
AA: no i think its just force of habit
AA: its not a problem
AA: at least i dont think it is
AG: 8ut we could get into new ha8its?
AG: I think I've got the hang of this turning over a new leaf thing.
AA: i think that might have been the original point of this exercise!
AA: new habits that is
AA: and also new leaves
AA: and just general newness i guess
AG: How a8out going somewhere new?
AA: like literally
AA: do you think you can handle changing the dreambubble backdrop
AG: Of COURSE I can handle it.
AA: in retrospect i probably shouldnt have phrased that as a challenge!
AA: so where are we going
AG: You're the expert!
AG: Surprise me. :::;)
AA: lets go to the land of quartz and melody!
AA: i never really got to appreciate it back when i was in game
AG: So stop talking and let's go!!!!!!!!
AA: give me a second this takes concentration!
AA: okay here we are!
AA: it always seemed so alien to me
AA: but sort of disjointed!
AG: It suits you.
AA: im not sure exactly how to take that!
AA: but thank you i think!
AG: I mean, it's not as cool as LOMAT, o8viously.
AG: 8ut it's pretty nice.
AA: all the while i was in the game
AA: i could hear a chorus of voices from this land
AA: like a choir in the corner of my subconscious!
AA: in retrospect i think it was to do with the powers i was granted
AA: but it unnerved me at first
AA: i was used to the voices shrieking!
AG: What did they say?
AA: mostly fragmentary predictions to do with our quest
AA: esoteric bits of advice
AA: the usual!
AA: yes ugh might be the right word!
AA: i feel exceptionally clearheaded now
AG: Prophecies are so stupid!
AG: Why doesn't the game just let us find out what to do!
AA: because if it did
AA: youd complain there was nothing to exploit
AG: You might 8e right. ::::)
AA: this is probably the time to show you how to change the bubble yourself!
AA: take me to lomat!
AA: the only time i ever went there was in order to
AA: beat you to death
AG: I'm not sure I want to go 8ack there.
AG: It was fun at the time, 8ut...
AA: i thought it was supposedly cooler than my loqam!
AG: I thought we were trying to do something new!
AG: We've 8oth seen LOMAT 8efore!
AA: theres only so much you can do with memories
AA: lets try an amalgamation!
AA: bring some aspects of lomat to loqam!
AG: Like... this?
AA: hahaha yes!
AA: youre learning!
AA: see thats whats so great about dreambubbles
AA: theres all kinds of novelty to be taken from different combinations!
AG: Wow that doesn't look 8ad. I thought it would be really weird.
AA: its surprisingly picturesque!
AA: look vriska
AA: i dont know where were supposed to go from here or what im meant to do about any of this
AA: but for now
AA: could we maybe enjoy the view?
AG: I guess…
AG: That wouldn’t 8e so awful.
AG: I think I’d 8e okay with that.