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A young troll sits at a computer desk. He’s not as young as he once was, nearing 13 sweeps, or (as this planet preferred it) 25 years, but compared to his originally short lifespan and the wide stretch of immortality that comes with godhood he is still young. Though he as been on this planet for seven years already, he still isn’t used to it. Maybe he never will be.

What will the name of this troll be?

> Enter name.

Your name is SOLLUX CAPTOR. You are one of the beings classified as a GOD OF THE NEW UNIVERSE though you do not care much about the position. You have been saddled with the description as the GOD OF CHOICES AND CROSSROADS because the universe is apparently not done fucking with you yet, even putting your title as THE ALTERNATOR. You still have a fondness for computers and still know ALL OF THE CODES. You can hear your bees flitting around behind you, only adding to your HEADACHE. Maybe it’s from LACK OF SLEEP or from the VISION TWOFOLD you have once again been cursed with.

You stare at your computer screen, teeth grit against the pain the light of the it brings, and growl at the sudden lack of motivation to code that has struck you. You can’t code, can’t game, can’t sleep.

So, what will you do?

>  Sollux: Remember.

No. Remembering only makes your headache worse when there is so much you wish you could forget.

> Sollux: Remember anyway.

You can clearly remember the game, the ascension, and everything in between, though it had been over three sweeps-

Seven years.

Cursing under your breath, you remind yourself for the thousandth time that this planet uses a weird mix of human and troll vocabulary, but timekeeping is strictly human. Weeks, months, years.

Feferi would probably blame your tendency to forget those things on your refusal to socialize beyond what was absolutely necessary.

You remember dying, more than once, and fighting your way through armies of imps towards a goal that had been immediately ripped from you. You remembered the hopelessness of the meteor, watching as your group broke down and ripped itself apart. You remembered bright flashes and sudden darkness, no longer able to watch but listen all while knowing the voice you wanted to hear the most was gone. You’d accepted the darkness, at the very least appreciating the lack of voices echoing against your skull. But even that couldn’t remain the same, your existence becoming something split and torn and utterly confusing. As much as you enjoy things in twos, having two sets of memories is a little much.

Part of you remembers treading carefully through the dreambubbles, Aradia at your side with a gentle hand on your arm and a cheerful voice in your ears. The voices of the dead and dreaming had surrounded you, though thankfully the one’s in your own mind stayed properly quiet. You remember taking cautious steps forward, your hand a loose fist holding Aradia’s Godtier tunic as you wavered between clinging for dear life as not to get lost and not letting your claws pierce the magical pajamas. Your other hand had held a smooth cane, tapping the ground in front of you though you trusted Aradia to warn you is you were about to tumble into a pit (again) or trip over a rock. The alive-again troll had given it to you, assuring you that she had wrapped it in stripes of red and blue, on the off chance she wasn’t around or the bubbles separated you. (It had happened twice by that point and both times had seen you crashing into a few trees before sitting your happy little ass down to wait for her. You hadn’t minded being blind for the most part, but it had a tendency to get you into irritating situations.)

You’d flipped up an eyepatch to scratch at a scarred cheekbone, pausing when a prickle crawled up your spine like the sharp legs of a webbug. Your pusher picked up speed, your breath coming in a sharp hiss as the prickle turned to a sharp burning that worked its fangs deep into your chest. The fire spread quickly, searing pain charring you from the inside out as you helplessly clawed at your chest. Hands gripped your wrists, pulling claws that were just slightly colored with mustard blood from your skin and drawing a panicked snarl that rattled in your thin chest. Your nerves were painted bright red with pain, your cane dropping as you fought to free yourself, desperate to find the wound you were sure was there.

Why wasn’t she letting you go? Why wasn’t she helping?

“AA?” you chirped, too panicked to care that you sounded like a grub. A long, painful keen slipped between your crooked fangs, the tears welling behind the colorful fabric of your eyepatches making your voice thick in your throat. The hands on your wrists turned to arms that wrapped around you, squeezing you tightly. “Aradia, pleathe,” you whimpered, fearing digging itself deeper into you with every passing second.

“It’s okay, Sollux,” she had assured you, her warm lips pressing to your cheek. How the fuck were you okay? Couldn’t she see that you were burning alive? You thrashed in her grip, barely paying attention to her quiet shooshing. “You’re going to be okay, I promise!”

Her arms disappeared, but before your searching hands could find her and beg for help a sharp hook of pain yanked you upward by your very soul. It almost felt like a particularly insistent dreambubble, but that didn’t comfort you at all.

The building pain finally exploded into a bright burst of numbness and confusion and memories that weren’t exactly yours dug themselves into your brain. A half of you that had been missing for ages was suddenly back, bearing its own story and its own memories.

That part of your memories was (is) scattered, remembered in bits and puzzles that only fit together if you searched for the pieces. That you still remembered the dreambubbles, but only briefly before you were dragged from yourself.

>Sollux: Remember the other you

You remember your mind being suddenly broken, memories and thoughts that were not yours mixing into your own and fitting themselves among the shattered pieces. A familiar voice came with them, one that brought back memories of pain and rage so intense that the pieces of your mind almost burst apart entirely. You’d struggled and fought, trying to force your mind back together but no longer able to untangle his thoughts from your own. The rage wasn’t only yours either, the screeching in your shared mind a mixed cacophony of shrieks and fighting as two halves of a shared existence tried to tear each other apart.

You’d clashed and splintered, but instead of shattering, something in your souls had latched together and fixed itself. It wasn’t possible to tell who hated who, the thoughts merging until your voices were almost completely indiscernible. You hated him and yourself, hated each other and yourselves and somehow that web of rage was what held them together.

You remember the rage cooling and calming, memories that weren’t your own fading your anger into annoyed understanding. You can’t quite recall the exact memories anymore, though sometimes the feelings leftover from them still manage to overwhelm you during night terrors you can never remember. Regret, anger, loneliness, panic, shame. You wonder which of your memories haunt him.

It’s funny how being in someone’s head puts things in perspective. You don’t forgive him, can’t forget what happened, but somehow you had been able to reach an understanding and move past it. You had still fought, still gotten headaches and still loathed the being you were stuck as, but somehow it had been bearable. Somehow you were content, your sarcastic natures turning from each other to the painfully cheerful human that somehow greeted you with a wide smile, a large wave, and more than once with questions about relationships. You remember leaving that planet, floating through the medium with nothing but thoughts and time and somehow that had been okay.

And then there had been a tug. And a thought.

Did you feel that?

Your voices melded, a simultaneous question and answer to the other half of your being.

The tug had happened again, a deep pull on both of you that turned into a dragging, tearing force that ripped apart the bond holding you together. In the blink of an eye, the memories you had grown so accustomed to vanished and only left the barest impression of what they had been.

Arms threw themselves out, hands grasping in a desperate attempt to fix the sudden, achingly painful loneliness.

You remember fingers gripping your own, but they slipped away with a scream you sometimes heard echoing in your dreams.

SOLLUX!

Memories had snapped into place like rubber bands, the disorientation of the wave of new memories making you grip your head, screaming and screaming as your body lit into a new pain, the recombined halves of your soul setting off the final reaction as, for the final time in your screwed-up life

Sollux

Captor

Died.

>Sollux: Stop remembering and be Past Sollux

You are now Past Sollux and you are VERY DEAD.

>Past Sollux: Ascend

The first breath is the worst as the life shocks itself back into you. You sit up and freeze, your claws digging into the rough stone beneath you. You blink, part of you shocked at the light before you, at being able to see at all. It hurts, your eyes screwing almost completely closed as your head screams at you. Pain throbs through your entire being, less searing and more of a dull soreness but pain nonetheless, your brain poking at the unfamiliar sight and your soul reaching for something that had been carved away.

“Shoallux!”

The voice shocks you into opening your eyes again, the light stabbing at your headache and fully illuminating the figures in front of you. The first pounces and hugs you tightly, her hair very nearly getting in your mouth in the process. You freeze, wondering for a brief moment what memory could have created a bubble you could see in but when she pulls back the eyes shining behind her goggles aren’t the blank white of death. They are bright, deep golden sclera surrounding the rich pink of her filled in irises.

She looks older too, taller and filled out, her horns several inches longer than you remember and her fins larger as well, her hair spilling almost to her ankles. You slowly stand, glancing at yourself and realizing that you were somehow taller, though that only make your boniness more prominent.

“FF…” you speak cautiously, as though she will disappear as soon as you acknowledge she exists. Running your split tongue over your fangs, you pause to look at her outfit. The hood is down, her skirt about as long as her hair with the only real color being the green symbol displayed proudly on her chest. It’s probably the dullest thing you’ve ever seen her in and you think you know exactly what it is. “You’re alive?” you finally let yourself say.

“And Godtier!” she chirps at you with a  wide grin, a bit of movement suddenly bringing your attention to the glittery pink wings fluttering behind her. You are more than a little shocked, too much so to complain when you are wrapped up in another crushing hug.

Aradia grins at you, her bright red outfit almost making your headache worse. Though she’d described it a million times in the bubbles, it is still nothing like you pictured. Instead of dwelling on it, you take the chance to bury your face in her shoulder for a moment and let the jarring experience of sight disappear for a moment as your mind catches up to you. Aradia was warm where Feferi was cold, a happy trill ringing in her chest as she knocks her horns against yours affectionately. You keep your eyes closed as Feferi joins the hug and follows suit.

“It’s about time you woke up!” AA says cheerfully and a little too loudly into your ear. Your head feels like it’s trying to crush itself, but you’re long since used to that. There’s a weird feeling swirling in your stomach, your bloodpusher thrumming against your ribs as you’re given just enough quiet to put a few pieces together.

Feferi is alive. So is Aradia. So…are you. Feferi is Godtier. So is Aradia. So…

You open your eyes just enough to look down at your outfit. Dark green robes almost blend into the stone you’re still leaning against, the symbol of Doom almost matching the symbol on the stone slab. Instead the one on the slab seemed to be a mix of the Doom symbol and your own symbol, set into the stone with a rich gold.

Grimacing, you reach for your sylladex and pray it isn’t empty. Thankfully, the universe decided to do you a favor because your normal outfit is in the first slot. Switching to the more comfortable jeans and shirt, look over your shoulder. Poking from your shoulder blades are two sets of golden wings, seeming to slip through the material without damaging it. You frown and with a bit of concentration they disappear. You can fly perfectly well without them anyway.

“Lucky,” Feferi teases, wrapping her arms around one of yours. “I need to get some new clothes ASAP.”

You raise an eyebrow. “You don’t have your old outfit?”

She blinks and laughs into her palm. “Whale, for one that skirt is way out of style on this planet. Plus, even though I got older in the dreambubbles, I didn’t really age much as a ghost. I think everyone is showing up how they’re supposed to be when they become Gods.”

“Godth?” Most of the information is passing right over your head, but you figure you’ll catch up later if you need to, so you just look around the massive room you’re in. It looks less like a room and more like a temple, actually.

The stone slab behind you is the same dark green as your robes, the glittering gold symbol glinting up at you in the sunlight that was streaming in. Based on the way the others are acting, you assume that it’s not dangerous. The floor around you is a smooth marble, a mosaic spreading from the bed. On one side there is a white hand made of tiny tiles, a red gem shimmering in its palm. On the other side is a black hand, the gem in its palm a glittering blue. You frown at it, your brow furrowing.

“The mosaic of The Alternator,” Aradia pipes up behind you, taking your free hand.

“The Alternator?” You ask, confused.

“That’s you!” Feferi grins. “It’s your title?”

You are more than a little confused. Adults had titles, yes, but those were earned. You’re nine sweeps but you’ve done nothing to earn a title. You’d spent most of the game half-dead.

“How the fuck did I get a title?” you ask before you can stop yourself.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Aradia says, poking your side with an unnervingly wide grin. “This is our reward for winning the game. Even if we weren’t in the final battle, we still were part of the timeline that led to this planet’s creation. All of the players from all of the involved sessions got rewarded. Or, well, they should be. If this is anything to go by.”

A large book appears in her hands, the wide cover made of an aged leather. The design of the cover matched the layout of the temple that you can see, though the title emblazoned across the top makes you roll your eyes.

An Asshole’s Guide to the Gods of the Universe.

She flips open to a page (page twenty-two, you notice with both delight and a deep sigh) and shows you the picture of a tall figure. They are dressed in your robes, your horns tall on their head. The face is featureless aside from the red and blue of your eyes, their hands held out to their sides with palms facing up. The Alternator is written across the top of the page. Below the drawing is more writing. Mage of Doom. God of Choices and Crossroads. Sollux Captor.

The next couple pages are a series of short stories, retellings of things from the game you took part in, though it referred to everyone by their titles. Most of them you can guess. The Empress is obviously Feferi, even without reading the rest of the story. The Ferryman is Aradia, that you pull from context clues. If The Mediator isn’t KK, you’ll eat your shoe. Your eyes hover over The Strategist for a  long moment. The stories aren’t in detail, never mentioning the Game and only referring to the events as taking place in “the world of the Gods” but the stories are familiar even with the changes. You feel an ache in your chest as you recognize who it is.

Instead of acknowledging it, you swallow and close the book in her hands, looking at Feferi.

“The Empreth?”

She blushes and grins at you, her hands going to her hips. “I’m the God of Rulers, shelly. Aradia’s is baiter, I think.”

You glance at her, her red lips stretched into a wide smile that shows off her fangs. “Well, I already was doing my job long before this planet. I’m the God of Death, or well more specifically the Afterlife! But that kind of stuff doesn’t matter right now! What matter’s is that we’re alive and we won and-“ She throws her arms around you again. “Everyone’s together. We’ve been appearing for the past couple of days and almost all of us are here already!”

You look around the temple again, finally taking everything in. It has high ceilings, held up by thick columns that leave enough open to see the trees and fields surrounding it, though you can see the silhouette of a city in the distance. The arched ceiling has a large circle cut out of it, golden beams of sunlight streaming through. It glitters off a small pool of water in the center of the room, the bottom of which has bright green tiles forming the shape of a gate. The water for it flows through several small lines carved into the marble floor that weave between the stone slabs that you’re sure serve the same purpose as Quest Beds did in the game. The lines lead to the back of the temple, where water streams down an open cliff face that makes up a makeshift back wall. Closest to the pool is a circle of four beds, another circle of four only a little further out. A circle of twelve sits beyond that, the circle you’re in, and a final circle of twelve lies outside of that. Two sit outside of these circles, one nearest to the back wall and one closest to the entrance. By their colors, you would guess time and space. The time bed, closest to the entrance, is the only one not intact, the stone rough and broken.

All of the slabs are colored like aspects, each of them having a unique mosaic surrounding them.

Excess water from the waterfall rushes in thicker rivers close to the edges of the room, spilling over the edge beside the stairs of the entrance into pools below.

“We won,” you whisper, the pessimistic part of you grumbling that this is some sort of trick, a bubble or dream or something because it’s far too good to be true. “Everyone’th coming back?”

Aradia nods. “All of the Dancestor’s are listed as Gods and the humans are already here!”

You remember the dreambubbles, the people you met there. They would be here?

As you try to wrap your head around it, to believe it could be true, something makes you jolt as tears suddenly stream down your cheeks. Sparks burst up your horns, static making your hair stand on end as Feferi and Aradia jump back to avoid being shocked.

Someone is screaming, your hands covering your face as you suck in a breath at the noise echoing in your skull. The other voices are back, though you hadn’t noticed them before, but they actually shut up for once when you tell them too.

The scream isn’t that easy to silence. It rattles your very bones, tearing at your soul as Aradia’s warm hands cup your face.

“Sollux! What’s wrong?”

Why was she asking? Why weren’t they reacting? Couldn’t they hear it?

The voice is terrifyingly familiar, just screaming and screaming. You know that sort of scream, the scream that tears your throat apart, but you just keep screaming until your voice is ripped from you. The scream of someone dying.

You curl in on yourself, claws digging into your hairline until, as suddenly as it began, the screaming stopped. Either they had died or-

You lift your head, hot tears falling onto your open palms as golden light bursts across the room. The image of pale wings unfurling shimmers in the air for a moment before disappearing and leaving a figure gasping on the pale stone.

Hands lead you out of the temple, Aradia mumbling something about Vision Twofold and Feferi refusing to look at the troll who’d just appeared.

Shock is the only thing that keeps you from speaking, the voices whispering in the back of your skull until you once again tell them to shut up.

You peer behind you, staring at the familiar jagged horns and colored hair. You watch as he sits up, his eyes landing on you. His expression is frightened and uncertain, panic pinning his fins to the sides of his face as his eyes.

As he disappears from view, you realize something. When you woke up you had friends, you had warmth and explanations and help to process this.

The last thing you see of him is him wrapping his arms around thin knees as it hits you deep in the chest that he is utterly alone.

Something aches in your chest, but you turn your head and pretend you don’t know what it is.

>Past Sollux: Be Current Sollux

You can’t be Current Sollux because you haven’t reached the present yet.

>Past Sollux: Fast forward this shit

That you can do.

Neither of these things change much over the first few months of new life. You get used to being a God, figuring out pretty fast that most people know you by your robes and if you mind your own business and don’t draw attention to yourself through stupid stunts (*cough*JOHN*cough*) most people don’t even realize you’re a God.

Of course, keeping a low profile is hard once FF discovers the horror that is Snapchat. You learned pretty fast to duck out of the room if she started taking pictures.

You meet up with the others often, at least once a month, just to keep everyone together. As amazing as this planet can be, you all know you have to stick together. No one else went through the Game, no one else could understand.

It’s at these meetings that you watch him. He always shows up, sneaking in the door when he thinks no one will notice and hiding against a back corner with his fangs worrying the edge of plastic cup. He keeps his head low, his shoulders hunched, his fins always low. He looks small, scared, and alone.

Something about it strikes you as wrong, though you can never properly explain it to even yourself.

It’s at the third meeting when you talk to him first, approaching with cautious steps. He stares at you, taking a step back with a flinch and an expression that is both guarded and vulnerable in a way that almost makes you run. It’s halfway through the conversation before you realize that he’d afraid of you. He’s afraid of everyone here.

Your pusher aches, but you ignore it as keep talking to him. It’s months before he calms down around you, letting his fins relax and his lips twitch into faint smiles that you don’t think you’ve seen on him before.

At a year you hear his laugh for the first time as Dave supremely fucks up some ‘parkour’ move and ends up bringing the chandelier of whoever’s hive it is they’re in this time down with him. The sound makes you pause and glance at him, his palm pressed over his mouth as his shoulders shake slightly. The movement makes you think he’s crying, but you’re close enough to hear the muffled snickers and see the light in his eyes as he tries to swallow his amusement.

The ache in your chest is getting worse.

Feferi asks why you talk to him. So does Karkat. So does Aradia.

You can’t answer them, shrugging and muttering something about entertainment that sounds like bullshit even to you.

You tell yourself it’s a Sprite thing, that it only makes sense. You were a Sprite for so much long than the others, it’s only natural that your bond would be stronger. But…though Feferi and Nepeta talk, though Equius and that strange AI are something resembling friends, you doubt either of them feel the aching void that sits in your chest.

You can’t make sense of it.

You keep ignoring it.

Talking to him makes it better but you ignore that too.

Eridan somehow understands, though you never talk about it. You bicker out of familiarity, though none of your barbs hold any weight. You tease and talk and something fragile builds itself between you that neither of you risk acknowledging.

You rarely spoke outside of meetups, his trollian handle never seeming to be online, but something flipped and before you knew it the two of you spent the meetups curled in the quietest rooms talking about everything and nothing. What you had was fragile and warm, something only you understood.

You didn’t realize quite how easy it would be to break it.

It had been almost two years since you’d woken on this planet, the snow outside of their current meetup keeping almost everyone inside. Almost.

You were warm enough to handle the cold, though even you were wrapped in layers. Eridan had it worse, you thought, his fins covered in muffs and his gills covered with three layers of scarves. Gloves sit on the table next to him, his fingers kept warm against the sides of his mug, his eyes studying the flakes of white with intense fascination.

You tease him about finally reaching his wriggling day. Tens sweeps as of yesterday. You almost wish you had gotten him something. You don’t say that last part.

He rolls his eyes and takes a drink. It isn’t long before he declares it too cold and stands up. You follow him inside, finishing your drink and setting it on the counter when you pass it.

You almost bump into him when he freezes in the living room, frowning at him before you realize Kanaya is directly in front of him. He wheezes out an apology as all of the comfort he has around you disappears and he vanishes up the stairs.

Her eyes follow him curiously, though you find yourself glad that you can’t find any hostility in them. You offer her a shrug when they land on you, following him.

He’s curled in a plush chair in a guest respiteblock, his head in his knees. You can hear his breathing from the doorway and see the way his hands are pressed to his stomach.

He told you he could still feel it sometimes, though there’s no scar. You feel a twinge in your pusher as you sit on a cloud of psionics beside him.

There’s silence for a few long moments, his head finally lifting from his knees to lean against your shoulder. His breath is cool on your neck, but you don’t say anything. The silence stretches on, until you hear a soft voice.

“W-why do ya ev-ven bother?” he mumbles. It’s not the first time he’s asked this.

This is the first time you answer.

“Becauthe I want to.”

“That ain’t a real answ-wer, Thol-“ he cuts himself off with a curse at the lisp, but you don’t say anything.

Feferi had pointed out how much you stuttered when you were frustrated, the sound atrocious when mixed with your lisp.

You don’t talk for a few minutes, but he sits up until he’s facing you. Your noses are touching, the bright violet of his eyes intense and taking up your entire field of vision.

You don’t know who leans forward first, but your lips are pressed to his and his fins are fluttering softly as your eyes slide shut and your hands make their way to his hair.

The night past then is a blur of violet and gold as you hold each other so tightly it’s like you’re trying to fuse all over again.

You wake up covered in a blanket and a headache, your glasses folded neatly on the table beside the platform though you don’t remember putting them there. You sit up, realizing that something, someone is missing. You knew it would be awkward when you saw him, but you would talk about it next time.

He still wasn’t online, but the weeks that followed saw you trying and failing to contact him, waiting for the meetup. Waiting for “next time.”

Next time didn’t come.

>Past Sollux: Be Sollux five years from now

You are Sollux five years in the future or, as you are better known, Current Sollux.

>Sollux: Stop remembering

You are more than happy to shake the memories off, glaring at your computer screen.

That had been years ago. You’ve moved past it, no matter what Karkat says. He never knew the full story anyway.

You pointedly ignore the only handle that’s never online as you scroll through your chumroll, your head throbbing and your fingers twitching with the urge to do something. Energy boils up and over and normally when you’re like this you code for days on end but right now you can’t even make yourself  focus enough on it to write a single line. Your games hold no interest, the only hope of avoiding going outside being to find someone to hold your attention.

You’d gotten even less social as the years dragged on, more than content to curl in your block unless your hivemates drag you out.

Most of the Gods lived in the same area, though a few had spread out. You all kept in touch… well, most of you kept in touch.

Feferi and Aradia had claimed a fairly large hive between the city and the forest, a large river carving through the trees a couple hundred feet in. A sweep after what Eridan had fucked off to who knows where they had dragged you from the tiny hivestem you’d chosen as your own after you’d spent a week living off of energy drinks and code. Your argument that being a God meant you wouldn’t die hadn’t managed to sway them.

Part of you is grateful for the larger space, as your hivestem had been picked more out of nostalgia than comfort.

You frown at your screen again, cursor hovering over the handles. Feferi had gone on a date with Aradia earlier. Talking to Karkat only makes your headaches worse. The date catches your eye, your eyes narrowing as you realize what’s familiar about it.

“Gog, you’re tho old, ED. Ten thweepth already.”

“Ah, ah, Sol. W-we both know-w this place uses years. That makes me, w-what, tw-wenty one?”

“That jutht maketh you thound even older.”

“Oh hush. You’re only like tw-wo months younger than me.”

“Twelve thweepth,” you mumble under your breath. Twenty-five years. You wonder if he’s celebrating, wherever he is.

It’s a passing thought, but it still makes you look at his faded handle.

You don’t stop yourself from clicking on it.

 

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You drag your fingers through your hair, feeling your claws on your scalp. Why did you even bother?

Because it felt like something was missing.

But you were used to feeling that, more often than you’d like to admit.

You felt it when your fingers stumbled over keys, doubling a few more letters than normal. You felt it when you’d scared the shit out of Feferi by subconsciously trying to take a breath beneath the waves of the river in the woods. You felt it when Aradia pointed out the way your ears flicked, more akin to a finned seadweller than a landdweller.

Your chest of aching. You were restless. Something was missing and as you glared at the greyed-out name on your chumroll you told yourself you didn’t know what it was.

>Sollux: What now?