Gamzee rolled his eyes internally as one of the guards that had helped bring him to “The Flying Massacre” explained that he was going to be put in subjugulator training “to remind him of his duty to the empire” for the thousandth time. Mirthless fuckers had caught him in a raid on one of their encampments, and thought that just ‘cause his main motherfucking pale-brother was the leader of that biz meant that he had been dragged along for the ride and could be ‘trained out of it’. He didn’t bother fighting them when they led him to the subjugulator trainees’ recreation block.
Karkat had already briefed everyone before for this exact type of situation.
He didn’t bother talking either. He had a needle and thread in his smaller, undetectable sylladex that Sollux had made them all, as well as a locator, the red horn covers Kanaya had made him to avoid being shot in the back by allies, and a pair of clubs with him. Ignoring their introductions and explanations, he spaced out, thinking of his pale-mate, probably fretting himself to death by now.
The second the guards left, some of the trainees came up to him, trying to talk to him, others whispering to each other, probably about his part in the steadily growing rebellion.
Ignoring them, he flash-stepped to a recently vacated soft personal sit platform, and put his legs up on the the miniscule hot beverage holding plateau. The owner began squawking at him, but he just stared them down. He knew his expressionless face was unsettling. He liked it fine that way. Untroubled, he faced exactly forward again, and continued his thoughts of his moirail, and of his next move.
Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Finally they began trickling to their dorms in a slow stream, some looking at his unmoving form. His ‘blockmate’ tried to tell him it was nearly lights out, and he blinked slowly at her. She left in exasperation. Finally, even those dedicated to seeing him move or leave went to coon, and he got up, rolling his shoulders back, loosening them as he went to the ablutions block.
Stripping, he showered, cleaned his fangs, filed his claws, and tamed his hair. Then he brought out the needle and thread. He washed off his paint, working at the water- and sopor-proof covering first. Then he washed it with hide softener, massaging it in, before cleaning his lips and the area around them with care. Preparations made, he threaded the needle, and, clipping off the bit at the end of the knot, he began drawing it through his lips, doubling back after making it to the end to create a perfectly spaced criss-cross pattern in silver-grey thread, his own little joke. Sponging off the blood, he did his paint again, this time with the wild, looping sigils that were the signs of the cult, unknown but to those of the rebellion. They would come, he knew that, and they would know him for an ally when they did. Tired, he went back to the recreation block, and resumed his perch on the soft personal sit platform, and closed his eyes, perfectly still, even in sleep.
Exasperated, and feeling like massaging the bridge of his nose in exhaustion, he sighed quietly, not alerting others to any movement or emotion. These motherfuckers did not know the scripture at all. And they called themselves priests. Taking a deep breath in indignation, he stood, his plastic sit plateau scraping back on the linoleum floor of the school-feeding block. The priest stopped their lecture, and looked at him, yammering about something else as he strode up to the board and took a stick of chalk, and began writing out lines of scripture from “The Book of The Mirthless and Wrathful One, on the Implacable Will of The Lord and Angel of Double Death IX” that directly contradicted their teachings, putting down the line number, section, page number, and name of the priest who wrote it, walking back and sitting in his seat, expressionless.
His ‘fellow’ subjugulator trainees looked at him in shock as the school-feeder gaped at him after checking.
He blinked back at them slowly, expression like stone.
The first time he interacted with any of the trainees was one perigree in. They had called in one of the kitchen-staff, an olive, to bring them more Faygo, and one of them decided it would be funny to mess with them. Gamzee was already on edge when they had called in a lower caste, he knew they were some fucked up motherfuckers, after all. At first they had just been messing with him, trying get them to trip or make him turn too suddenly. And then one of them smacked his ass, saying how “low-bloods made good lays, but weren’t good for much else, huh?” to their friends.
The olive began tearing up, trying to hold it in.
That’s when Gamzee stood.
No one moved, blinking in confusion.
He turned towards the one who had done it, blinking slowly.
They rolled their eyes. “What, you want in, Gamzee, I’m open to shar-”
Gamzee flash-stepped, punching them hard enough to send them into a wall. He looked at the visibly shaking olive, dismissing him with a flick of his hand, and they scrambled out of the room. He walked forward to the coughing indigo, and kicked them back onto the floor, and, holding the base of their right horn, snapped off the top half, and walked back to his sit plateau, picking out the dirt under his claws with the edge of their T-shaped horns. Sitting, Gamzee popped it back into his sylladex. The other trainees were yelling, at him and each other, and he tuned them out. Karkat probably wouldn’t approve of ripping off someone’s horns, even if they were scummy enough to talk like that, but he wasn’t here, which grated on him. Whatever. He could bear it, if only a while longer.
The priests didn’t punish him. Some of them even congratulated him for growing so strong. He didn’t care. The olive blood came up to him at while he was eating in the group nutrition block and thanked him as he offered beverages to his school-feed group. Alone at the table, he smiled gently and nodded at him, and sent him on his way.
Gamzee was getting sick of waiting. He did it anyway.
He was washing up, the rest of the trainees asleep, when the locator flashed red 13 time in a row. He smiled. Motherfucking finally. 13 nights.
Gamzee cut off the strings, pulling them out as the other trainees slept. He applied his paint as heavily as he could, black lines crisp against the pure white. He sealed it, once with powder and once with the spray, and pulled on the horn covers, his hair tamed and pulled in a tight bun so they could be easily seen. Finally. Finally he would see his beloved. Looking in the mirror, he smiled.
He didn’t sleep that night, staying up late, checking over his clubs nigh on obsessively. When the rest of the trainees trickled in, they seemed surprised about the sudden changes in him, from his cheery attitude to the horn covers. He only grinned in response, telling them he “didn’t want to ruin the surprise for them.” They all seemed unsettled. He was jittery the whole night, bright eyed and cheerful, until, in the middle of Scripture lessons, a nasally, familiar voice rang out over the speakers.
“We’ve hacked your thiip, biicheth! Thay hello to the revolutiion!”
Their schoolfeeder’s eyes widened. “Everyone get to your recreation block! You’ll receive your orders from there!”
Gamzee chuckled. “I don’t think so, motherfuckers,” he said rustily, out of practice. His schoolfeed mates turned on him, weapons drawn, but he ripped through them easily, metal clubs packing a far-harder punch than the training-block ones. He flash-stepped effortlessly around them like he had never done in training; he had always known that you never show the enemy your fighting patterns. He didn’t bother finishing them off, going for the legs and horns, taking out their voodoos, and at least one-third of them took each other out in the confusion. He slipped out as his schoolfeeder tried to pry them apart, and as the door slid closed, he smashed the control panel for the door, locking them in. He raced towards the sounds of fighting, honking excitedly. The first ones he ran into were revolutionaries, wearing his palest’s red, and he dodged their shots, popping his clubs in his clubs into his sylladex, hands making his palest’s sigil. One of them was a bronze, and the other was the olive he had helped.
“Peace, motherfuckers, I’m on your side, my moirail’s with you.”
The bronze-blood’s eyes were panicked. “Come on, Gaekle, kill him, we have to go!”
The olive- Gaekle- lowered his gun. “Bastig, this is the indigo I told you about, the who helped me. If he wanted us dead, we would be. We need to get on with our mission.” Bastig’s eyes widened, and Gaekle nodded at Gamzee, Gamzee nodding back, eyes serious.
“I took out the schoolfeed I was in, the rest are supposed to be in their recreation blocks. Stay safe, brothers.”
They nodded back, and they ran in different directions, Gamzee heading for the sounds of battle. The next one he ran into, a priest, wasn’t as lucky, taken out at the horns and legs shattered in three places. He continued this way, taking out the Empiricists, and burst into the main hangar. It was a blur of fighting, trying to avoid blows from both sides, and narrow misses when a revolutionary got in front of one of the empiricists he was fighting. By the time they cleared the hangar Gamzee had nearly been killed by revolutionaries four times, despite the sheer amount of indigo and purple he was bathed in and his horn covers. They tried to corner him, but he neatly flashstepped around them, running to the next hangar. They followed him, shooting. One caught him in the shoulder, but Gamzee only ran faster, and took a flying leap onto a priest that came around a corner, cracking his horns, and jumped off his shoulders to take out a knee. He didn’t pause as he flung himself into combat with another, using his smaller size to avoid their blows. Some seemed surprised to see him, having had him in their classes, others like they always knew he would do this. They called him traitor and blasphemer, but he only fought harder. His blood was singing to him, turning into a screech when he felled the last priest. Leaning on the wall of the hangar he and the troops had just finished, he held his injured arm tightly, taking deep breaths, before pushing himself off, about to go wincing towards the next hangar, before a hand clenched on his uninjured shoulder and a knife was pressed to his throat.
“The fuck you think you’re going, sub-jug?”
Gamzee restrained himself from using his voodoos, even though his horns were itching for it, and gripped his clubs tightly. “To help my moirail, motherfucker,” he growled, as he twisted out of their grip, lowering his head as he spun around and stumbled back, barely avoiding slitting his captor’s throat, and crouched low to the floor, stance wide. “Are my fucking horn covers invisible? I’m a revolutionary, same as y’all dumb-ass motherfuckers. We got better things to do than fight each other.” With that, he turned and captchalogued his clubs, breaking into a run towards the chapel, clashing metal and shrieks echoing back to him. It was there he saw his moirail, fighting off three priests at a time, and he nearly burst into tears. His palest, his sugar-bright love, tiniest crab. Then he focused on who he was fighting. Eyes narrowing, his mouth twisted into a scowl, and he threw himself at them, whipping out his clubs, and kicked one down, landing on her back, broke off the adult’s horns, knocking them out for good measure, and dodged a spear-thrust, using it to flip its owner over his head and land heavily on the ground. His opponents blurred, painted faces turning into so much purple. He stood panting, looking for Karkat wildly, their eyes landing on each other at the same time.
“Gamzee! We were so worried, how dare you, you shit-licker, you idiot, you-” Karkat flung himself into his arms, crying in sheer relief.
Gamzee buried his face in Karkat’s hair, tears trickling through his moirail’s wild locks. “Missed you, missed you so much, brother, I thought I’d up and die without you, missed you, missed you so-”
“-didn’t know if you were even dead! How could you, gone for perigrees and perigrees, and we found out you were in re-education, so worried you wouldn’t remember, wouldn’t care-”
“-never stopped thinking about you, didn’t tell them nothing, always knew you’d come, always, always did-”
“-stupid, dumb-ass fucking clown, I cried over your stupid carcass, can't believe you, thought you'd never come back-”
“-didn’t kill none of them, just like you told me, wanted to but I didn’t, knew you’d cry, so fucking compassionate, care so much, love you so, trying to protect the whole world-”
The rest of the revolutionaries were staring, this subjugulator trainee burying his head in their leader’s hair as he sobbed into his chest, hugging each other like they’d die if they didn’t.
Terezi (Gamzee hadn’t even noticed her, when did she get there?) cleared her meal tunnel loudly, raising her eyebrows at the recently reunited moirails. “We’ll have time for embarrassing, nigh on pornographic public displays later, love-fowls! For now, we have a ship to capture!”
They smiled at each other, breaking apart, only to clasp hands again. They wouldn't be letting go anytime soon.
“The main chapel's through this way, brother, best not to waste time.”
“Thank you, Mr. Grape-jelly! You heard him, kiddies, move out!”
The revolutionaries looked unsettled. “You're just going to trust a subjugulator, just like that? It feels like a trap.” Some of the others nodded with them.
Terezi blinked. “You do realize who he is, right? He's Karkat’s moirail. He got captured. We've known him since grub-hood.”
The cadets looked baffled, some boggling at the pair.
Karkat nodded authoritatively. "Hop to it, we have a ship to take! I didn't start a rebellion to be stared at!”
They hopped to it.
Grinning at each other, Gamzee and Karkat followed suit, racing towards the chapels, hands still clasped tight. They would win this, they knew it in their pushers.
They did. They won, their first major victory, and it was long and bloody and they lost people, young trolls still in their golden sweeps, dead, but at least they died fighting, died for something they believed in.
That's what they all told themselves, anyway.
Karkat couldn't stop crying at the funerals, burrowing into Gamzee’s chest as he wept for them.
Gamzee hugged him tight, sending out a prayer to the Lady to take them into her merciful hold. Shangri Lol was no place for them, these fighters, these trolls trying for freedom, but the Lady had a hold of her own, so it was said, for those she deemed good.
The penitary’s blocks were near filled with the congregation and handful of blues on board, the slaves and lower castes defecting immediately. The prisoners hissed and spat at Karkat as he checked on each of them, occasionally helping Kanaya with putting on their casts or stitching up their wounds, and Gamzee followed, casting baa-beast eyes at him whenever not glaring would-be attackers into submission.
Their pile was their second hive, whether Gamzee was shaking through descriptions of ‘training’ or Karkat weeping over his fallen troops, ones he led into battle himself. Gamzee held him tightly as he wept, comforting and steadying his resolve. He ventured out often to seek out Kanaya, needing only to touch her shoulder quietly to have her nod in understanding and lead him to her block, lending him yet more pile material. He spoke little, out of practice, but reconnecting with his hate-friends was easy, all of them glad to have their friend-leader’s moirail back. Even Eridan had missed him, knowing how miserable his absence made his gossip-chump. Surprisingly few of the revolutionaries questioned Gamzee after the first few nights, especially after seeing how brutally he fought to defend the members of the resistance during a breakout in Penitentiary Block AH-56. At day, he shared a coon with his moirail, without fail, and they slept in peace, knowing that come dusk they would face the night together.