The bright Alternian sun rose, barely peeking over the horizon as its first rays hit a small secluded village on the shoreline. Already, trolls were finishing their breakfasts and heading out to haul in their nets and tend to the small patches of land they had cultivated. The village was completely self-sufficient, living on the very outskirts of society and accordingly, some social norms of classic trollhood were ignored. The villagers rose with sun and went to bed in when the moons came up, tried keeping bloodshed to a minimum within the tiny community, and blood color had no effect here. There was not much point, as lowbloods were the majority and the higher colors had to work just as hard; it was easy to forget. Most of them had no lusii, having been found as mere wrigglers whose lusus had gotten on the wrong side of a highblood. Every one of them had seen the dark side of troll society and was wary of any adult trolls who came near. But perhaps the greatest danger came from sea, where bands of feral Roverazers prowled along with the equally fearsome Gambligants who did the dirty work for the Imperial Fleet at a price.
But today was a day of excitement in the village, as tomorrow was the Twin Eclipse where both moons were blotted out at the same time for nearly two hours. As a tradition, they lit up the night with a bonfire, the only night they risked it for fear of marauders, and had a celebration. Terezi and Vriska were out in the fields, tending to the plants in a comfortable silence in favor of their usual jabs and insults that cemented their friendship and near-kismesistude. They both the same age old, and were brought up together in the village. They found a kindred spirit that they both respected and despised in each other, and often played (somewhat dangerous) games with each other, but no one had gotten hurt yet.
Terezi looked up from where she was tending a patch of garden and elbowed Vriska in the ribs when she spotted a large-horned figure in the distance.
“See, I told you! He’s staring at you again!’ she snickered.
Vriska glanced up, and large-horned boy visibly started hurriedly kept walking. His tiny flying moobeast-lusus flapped after him down to the shore. “Ugh, if he could get any more obvious, he’d have to dump a bucket on my head!”
Terezi cackled. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
“No way! How could someone like me flush for some loooooooser that can’t even look me in the eye?”
“Someone like you? A loud, obnoxious honkbeast with an ego problem? He’s a nice guy, even if he is weak, fun to play against, remember?”
“Weak, weak, weak is right!” snapped Vriska, ignoring the insult and looking at the shore where Tavros was picking up driftwood. “Don’t remind me of the games, I swear he made me want to push him off a cliff because he was so nice about everything.”
“That’s because you’re a bitch to everyone and he’s the only one that can stand you.”
“Shut up, everyone loves me. Including you.”
“Heehee, spiderbitch speaks nothing but the truth. I think I know who you love.”
Vriska abruptly stood up and spat, “I…don’t…like…anyone! And definitely not that loser who can’t hate me after everything I’ve done to him!” and stormed off with a basket full of weeds, ignoring the looks she got from the villagers.
Terezi stared after her thoughtfully, then at Tavros who was thankfully well out of hearing range. Smirking to herself, she gathered up her baskets and set off to the village.
She handed off the vegetables to the troll cooks in one of the modified hives and wandered up the street to find her friends. Karkat and Nepeta were lugging two huge nets of fish and seafood along the cliff side when she caught up to them.
“Hey Karkles, Nepeta. You look slightly grayer and grumpier than normal.”
“I am afraid that given my predisposition to become an emotional magnet and feelings dump for all sorts of overdramatized desires that apparently everyone in this grubfucking town has will make me a target, given that the worst of all of you has just stormed by looking unusually flustered and about to hurt someone more than she already has.”
“What Karkitty means,” Nepeta inpurrupts, “is that Vriska just stomped past and didn’t say hi because she looks awfurly angry about something. I’m guessing this is about Tavros?”
“You are the most uncanny cat troll I have ever had the pleasure of meeting” replied Terezi, not one bit shocked Nepeta had figured out the problem already. She always had the uncanny ability to sniff out relationship problems (and tendency to create fictional ones “fur fun”). Along with Karkat, they made the ultimate quadrant team.
“Yes Vriska, and she’s getting worse by the day. We’ve got to do something about her before she kills someone!” said Terezi. ‘Yesterday she almost pushed Tavros off a cliff after he wouldn’t look her in her 8-pupiled eyes.”
“Are you supposed to be her friend or something? And Tavros’s friend?” snapped Karkat. “Why are you dumping all this on us, as if I did not have about a million other things I would rather be doing and all of them unpleasant.”
“We’re her furriends too Karkitty” scolded Nepeta. “We’ve got to help! I don’t want either of them to die! You know how Vriska is; she’ll kill anyone she’s not satisfied with.”
“And Tavros definitely likes her, although why is beyond me. We’ve got all the facts for the case; One, Vriska is in denial although because it doesn’t fit in with her view of herself. Two, Vriska’s ego is interfering. Three…”
“Wait, Terezi,” Interrupted Karkat, “I think it’s a bit more than that. As much as it pains me to say this, Vriska isn’t as much of a bitch as she tries to be. She wants everyone to hate her, but I don’t think Tavros is actually capable of hating anyone, he’s so passive. But she’ll keep trying until one of them is dead, and I don’t think the body we’re going to hide will be Vriska’s.”
“But that’s the purroint! We don’t want them to kill each other!” cried Nepeta. “I like Tavros, he’s very nice! He even roleplays with me despurrite that he’s allergic to Ponce de Leon.”
Terezi remained silent for a few more moments, then slowly spoke up. “If I know anything about Vriska, we need to remain one step in front of her. Good thing she’s so predictable, it’s almost a waste of my effort. But for the sake of Tavros, he needs to act first and fast if he doesn’t want to be sleeping underground before he turns 7 sweeps.”
The next night darkened hot and humid with the two moons still shining brightly in the sky. The celebration of the Twin Eclipses was starting, and all the trolls of the village were gathered outside in a semicircle as the treasures of the village were brought out. Two adults dragged a heavy chest across the sand and placed it in at the center of the trolls, where the light from the bonfire whipped shadows across its surface. The young trolls stared with wide eyes, this being the first time that the village deemed it safe enough to bring out the artifacts in sweeps. Karkat and Nepeta gripped the Dolorosa’s hands in excitement and the other young trolls were in similar states. The chief of the village, a seasoned yellowblood, stepped ceremoniously up the chest and clicked it open. From its depths, he lifted the first artifact out; a large blue gun that crackled dangerously at the tip of its harpoon-shaped muzzle and placed it on its stand where it could be seen by all. The second object was substantially smaller, and only until it was placed on its stand and spread out in a slowly whirling circle did Vriska see that it was a set of eight, 8-sided blue dice. She gasped. It was like it was made specifically for her. Only when the other trolls started moving away and she felt Terezi pull her arm did Vriska drag her gaze from the dice and look around. The chatter of happy trolls rose up as everyone dived into the food or began dancing as a group a trolls started playing drums in a hearty beat.
The party had started.
Vriska sat beside Terezi as they watched Karkat and Nepeta twirling around the bonfire. Vriska smoothed her short white dress with her symbol sewn on her chest, a gift from the Dolorosa. “This party is laaaaaaaame,” she whined. “Everyone’s either stuffed or dancing.”
“Except me,” replied Terezi, putting her hand over Vriska’s and slowly dragging her claws over it. She smirked at the blueblood and watched her reaction out of the corner of her eye. Vriska stiffened, then shook of Terezi’s hand, only to catch the tealblood’s face none too gently with her claws. Terezi grinned as Vriska’s warm breath washed over her, and sneaked a quick glance to the other side of the fire, trying to find Tavros. Terezi pulled herself closer to Vriska; Tavros had better hurry the fuck up or she may not be able to control herself despite her best efforts. Vriska’s head started drifting down towards Terezi’s neck when the light from the fire was blotted out by figure. They both looked up, and Vriska hurriedly disengaged Terezi while Terezi settled back to watch the events, only slightly disappointed. The figure’s face was shadowed from the fire behind him, but the huge horns were unmistakable.
Tavros nervously fiddled with his hands and started at the ground as he spoke. “Hi, Terezi and um, Vriska. You look lovely tonight, I mean Vriska does, not that Terezi doesn’t look good too, but uhm.” He faltered, then finally blurted out. “Vriska, could you dance with me? That is, uh, if you want to.” Then, as if suddenly remembering something, he looked Vriska full in the face, almost trembling as he did so.
Vriska’s eyes narrowed, but Terezi elbowed her in the ribs and hissed in her ear. “He interrupted us to ask you. He’s looking at your face. Why not?”
Vriska glared at her, but grudgingly stood up and extended her hand. “One dance, Torealoser, and one dance only.”
Tavros face lit up like a little kid and grasped Vriska’s hand in his rough one as they walked off to the fire.
“Remember what they say about trolls with large horns!” Terezi called after them.
Vriska extended a single graceful middle finger at her without looking back.
Terezi was waltzing with Karkat as they passed by a flushed Vriska and Tavros still dancing with each other, both happier than their friends had seen them before in their lives. Terezi couldn’t help but cackle at Vriska as they went by. “That’s a long ‘one dance.’”
Vriska didn’t reply, just laughed. Not her usual grating, sarcastic laugh but a melodic one, full of light. Then Tavros laughed too, his all deep but breathy and they danced away like that, the lightness intertwining with the breathiness.
Terezi and Karkat arrived back to where Nepeta was waiting for them, and the cat girl immediately jumped on them squealing “it worked it worked!”
Later that night, a cheer rose up as the pink and green light in the sky dimmed. The Twin Eclipse was beginning, the trolls watching in the awe as the moons were blotted out. The fire became the only light source, and the diurnal villagers couldn’t see very far at night. More torches were set up providing pools of light to those not dancing. Tavros and Vriska collapsed in the sand under one of them, still laughing. Tavros gave her a shy smile. “You’re uh, a really, good, dancer. Especially since you’re uh, a little bit, taller than me.”
She smirked and punched him in the arm. “You’re not as bad as I thought you would be, Torealos…Tavros.”
They sat in silence for a while, watching the revelry, when Tavros suddenly leaned in a pecked her on a cheek then scooted away, blushing furiously.
“Damn, you’ve become bold tonight” said Vriska, stunned. Without thinking she scooted closer to Tavros and kissed him back. Slowly, unbelievingly, Tavros turned back and returned the touch, putting his arm around Vriska. It lasted for a minute, a bit awkward with Tavros’s teeth and inexperience, but when they broke it their eyes were shining. 8 pupils vs. two.
Tavros shuddered. “I think, I uh, I uh”. He looked down again.
“Spit it out! Stop stammering, what??” she snapped, sounding harsher than she meant.
He opened his mouth but was interrupted by screaming.
Their heads snapped around and saw a villager stumble into light. His right arm and horn were gone; the ends looked burnt, oozing dark red blood. Everyone froze.
“Roverazers…up the coast, they’re coming” he gasped, and collapsed.
All hell broke loose then, as people started panicking and screaming, scrambling up to the safety of the clifftops. Roars broke the night as a group of scarred trolls waving all sorts of weapons stampeded into the light, knocking over torches and putting out the bonfire.
The shore was plunged into complete darkness, with the moons still blacked out, and the villagers were thrown in to disarray, blind at night as the seatrolls were during the day. Suddenly Vriska screamed, which seemed to throw Tavros out of a trance as he watched the destruction. He heaved them both to their feet and looked around wildly for a safe place as white-hot laser guns began shooting through the night.
Nepeta appeared beside them, her claws dripping with blue blood and a wild grin on her face. Karkat was next to her, wielding sickles and Terezi had grabbed the artifact gun when she broke her cane-sword in a Roverazer. All three were already bleeding from various wounds.
“Follow me! We need to escape!” yowled Nepeta, sprinting up the shore to the cliffs, slashing and dodging weapons. Karkat and Terezi followed, gesturing to Vriska and Tavros.
“What about, uh, Tinkerbull?” asked Tavros anxiously, having pulled out a lance and was holding it awkwardly.
“We can’t worry about him now! He’ll find us!” Vriska yelled, trying to pull Tavros and wield her sword in the other, her vicious fighting spirit aroused. Through the chaos, she saw a Roverazer trying to bundle the glowing dice into a bag and she leapt toward him, hoping Tavros could take care of himself for a second. She stabbed the troll through the neck and grabbed the dice from his hand, snapping the sword in the process. Tavros appeared next to her.
“Don’t, run away, like that!” he yelled, and tried grabbing her.
She leapt nimbly out of his reach and ran after the others, calling back “Only if you can catch me!” Tavros didn’t hesitate to charge after her.
A Roverazer saw them leave. “She has the octect! Grab her! She’s gone with that tealblood with the Crosshairs!”
Nepeta lead Terezi and Karkat through the cliff face and up, closely pursued by the feral Roverazers. They reached the top, but found their path blocked by more ferals.
“Come and get us you nooksucking fuckwaifts of incestuous slime!” screamed Karkat.
“Kill the lowbloods, take the teal and blue” snarled a hulking indigo. The Roverazers rushed the small group of friends, and bursts of light flashed out. Tavros and Vriska were back to back, until a lazer hit him in the leg he collapsed with a groan.
“Tavros!!!!” screamed Vriska, losing her concentration and reaching for Tavros. “No no no no no!” She felt hands grabbing her, dragging her back and her wrists manacled together, pulling her away from Tavros’s limp form.
They tried wrestling the dice away from her, but they sparked angrily and the Roverazers jumped back.
The rest had finished with the rest, and Vriska could see the bleeding forms of Nepeta, Karkat, and Terezi lying on the ground.
“Hand over the dice, and we’ll let this one live” snarled the indigo, pointing the Crosshairs at Tavros’s head. Tavros closed his eyes.
Vriska looked at the dice, how right they felt in her hand and then at Tavros. She made a split second decision.
“Fine!” she said, throwing the dice down. “Just don’t hurt him!”
The indigo gestured and a cerulean blood scooped the dice, then noticed something had fallen out of Tavros’s pocket. It was the tiny figurine of Pupa Pan that Tavros always carried. The cerulean handed it to the indigo who smirked.
Vriska looked with furious eyes, her mind control futile as she tried to concentrate over a throbbing headache.
“Hurt him? Heavens no, we’re not going to hurt him. We’re just going to let him live his dreams” said the indigo. Then with one swift movement, he kicked Tavros in the stomach and sent him over the cliff edge yelling “Fly, Pupa Pan, fly!”
Something in Vriska snapped. She screamed incoherently, flying at the indigo in insane fury. Something heavy slammed into her head before she could lay a finger on him and darkness overtook her.