The air splits, rending with a crackle of power, and the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Where there was only the murmur of the waves before is now the soft, delicate chimes of a music box, resonating with each passing second.
You turn, and Aradia, gleaming, hangs in the air like an argent hummingbird.
Her casing is tinted tropic by the colors of the Land of Maps and Treasure, and you can just hear the clockwork inside her turning away tirelessly. At either side of her float ticking machinery, encased in glittering stone. (Where did she get such great gear already?)
vriska, she says, all impassion and speakers.
Her stupid robot face is completely emotionless. You frown.
Hey! Who invited you????????
She flickers in the air, once, and then—
Your brain is several seconds too late in registering the kick to your gut, and by then you are simply overwhelmed with the need to be sick. You are pretty sure something inside you has burst! There is no time to think, though (time, maid of time, she’s so fast, cheating—cheating—!), no time at all: she drives her heel into your face before you can even have the dignity of falling. Your jaw dislocates, then shatters. Critical hit.
Everything after that blurs together, and your only real impression of the scene from then on is ragged-edged agony. It is a little like if someone set fireworks off inside you, and also laced them all with icy needles, and poison, and maybe fire. You’re airborne, and then you are becoming intimately acquainted with the cliffs of your planet. The blue of your insides smears across the rocks in a very attractive way.
Between the bursts of cracking collarbones and snapping sternum, you can only summon one thought: why is she attacking you?
It doesn’t make sense. You don’t understand. Even if Equius gave her the robot, it was still your idea! That made you even, didn’t it? That made you friends again, right, even if she was an apathetic jerk about it? That’s how it works, isn’t it, you’re square now, what is her problem?!
The world lurches, and you drop a good ten feet. Blood arcs from your mouth on impact, and wow, you didn’t realize you still had vertebrae left to snap like that!
As it turns out, you didn’t know a lot of what your body might do when confronted with an enraged psionic robot. You’re learning, though: learning what a lung feels like when shot through with tiny fragments of bone, learning how leftover psychic power slips into your opened flesh and tears at it, tiny bolts of lightning screaming across your nerves. The thick, cool blood pooling in your mouth tastes nothing like blueberries; Terezi would be disappointed.
The landscape blurs itself across your vision, hazy and the edges a lot darker than you remember them being. Someone is crying! It must be Tavros, that baby, because it could not possibly be you. There is not enough pain in paradox space to make Vriska Serket cry. (Even if it was you, there is too much blood on your face for anyone to tell.)
There is noise, outside the pounding in your own head and the rush of your veins emptying. This time you know it’s Tavros, and he sounds even lamer than usual (aRADIA, pLEASE, nO, dON’T HURT HER ANYMORE, sTOP, oH GOSH aRADIA PLEASE,). His groveling would make you sick, if you weren’t way too busy being concerned about the troubling creak your chest makes when you try to breathe.
Aradia doesn’t say anything, or if she does you don’t know. You don’t want to know, you don’t care, not if she’s going to use your own awesome gift against you for no good reason! She’s been a bitch to you for the whole game, anyway, kicking you off the Blue Team and being totally in league with Equius against you the whole time! Fine, she won this round. You didn’t really want to be friends with her in the first place! Big deal. 8ig f8cking d8al!!!!!!!!
It’s fine. It’s all fine, because you already know how to get even.
Consciousness stole away from you, and when your eyes opened again everything was gold. Everything was teeth, too, and your awakening on Propsit was heralded by a cackle and a slap. (WH4T TOOK YOU, S3RK3T?)
You have no time for Terezi or her razorblade mouth. You can already feel your bright gown growing sticky and damp with blood, and you just know Tavros will screw up if you don’t act fast!
But it’s fine. Your influence spans planets, here. All your wimpy Pupa needs is a push in the right direction. And you are nothing if not a master of pushing, so you push and shove and soon enough, you get what you need out of him.
So, now: your body lies limp on a stone slab. Pain is starting to lance through you again as your belated dreamself catches up, delicate and surgical, but dragging Tavros’ fingers through your blood is easy, and you have faith.
You tell him what to do. You’re confident in him! And you wait.
(Your name is Tavros Nitram and your whole mind is turning into one psychic scream)
Terezi is saying something. It’s static and noise—
—you can’t hear her over your own stuttering, panicky breathing as you watch yourself bleed out—
(Vriska’s cerulean is shifting to your brown as your fingers scrape themselves raw)
everything hurts, hurts, h8rts
You’re dying, you realize
you’re really, actually dying and what if this doesn’t work and Tavros won’t just
(you just can’t)
Tavros won’t end it was never going to end it you’re an idiot for thinking he could do this and you’re too late to force his hand because he’s crawled to the rocket-car you gave him and he’s going to
(and so you)
So you die: betrayed, hysterical, and alone.
And then, you Ascend.
(It was worth every scarring second.)