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[Panel description: Jake sits on a red stone arch on the land of mounds and xenon. His phone lies by his side, and he's wearing headphones. A speech bubble with two musical eighth notes hovers above his head. Erisol sprite floats to his right.]

JAKE: Sigh.
ERISOL SPRITE: oh my god are we really doin this bullshit again.

[Panel description: Jake lies on his stomach with his legs up in the air. He holds one ear bud in, while the other lies on the stone. He is frowning with his eyebrows drawn.]

ERISOL SPRITE: you’re like some kind of awful Byronic hero who walks around and sighs till people pity your ass enough to ask you what’s wrong,
before unleashin your torrent of bullshit upon those unfortunate souls.
unfortunate souls like me.
JAKE: I’m sorry Mr. erisol sprite. I was out here thinking and I needed someone to talk to who’s a little more outside this whole mess.
ERISOL SPRITE: then what about the new kids you spent so much time eagerly awaitin while sitting in the grass sighing and moping and taking absolutely none of the advice you asked for.
or you know,
literally anyone else.
anyone who isn't me.
JAKE: Er...well I know for a fact that john would rather not be bothered by all this hootenanny judging by how fast he absconded when Jane and I were threatening to have a discussion about it.
And dirks and Roxy’s relations surely don’t know us well enough to weigh in on the whole mess.
And jade... jade is also busy!!
Besides! I needed to speak to you on a player-to-guide basis anyhow!
ERISOL SPRITE: are you going to ask me for more interpersonal advice that you will then willfully ignore.
or ask me to go fetch you some actual fuckin pants.
JAKE: NO! I need to know the fastest way down to my denizen so I can go and get this malarkey over with. These stupid shorts can wait!
ERISOL SPRITE: if you say so.
it’s at the bottom of the xenon canyon.
obviously.

[Panel description: The screen of Jake's phone shows a track from the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade soundtrack, titled 11: canyon of the crescent moon.]

ERISOL SPRITE: gee.
if a planets denizen resides at the core of the planet,
I WONDER what the fastest way to get down there is.
is your skull plate that dense?
x marks the fuckin spot pal.
JAKE: But isn’t the gas there poisonous like on LOTAK?
ERISOL SPRITE: yes.
JAKE: Ah.
I had suspected.
And on a scale of 1 to 10 how treacherous can I expect the journey to be?
ERISOL SPRITE: 11.

[Panel description: The track changes to 12: the penitent man will pass.]

ERISOL SPRITE: with any luck you’ll die,
horribly.
JAKE: Hey!
You know erisol I tried to think your sour attitude was just an odd troll sense of humor but that’s just cruel!
I suspect you’re not trying to be funny at all. You’re just a royal douche prince.
ERISOL SPRITE: ding ding ding.
give him a prize.
though given the company you keep I’m not surprised it took you awhile.
JAKE: I was TRYING to be nice! And culturally sensitive! For all I know most trolls act that way!
ERISOL SPRITE: not really.
both sides of me are just an asshole.

[Panel description: The track returns to number 11.]

JAKE: Sigh.
Okay okay…
We’ve all got our roles to play and I suppose being the weak link of the group is just mine right?
It could always be worse. At least I’m not a weak link whose mythical destiny is proving myself by defeating lord English.
At least,
I don’t THINK it is?
I’m aware of what Ms. serket said but I think I’m well within my right to doubt her judgment after alls said and done.
I hope it was all just her megalomaniacal raving at any rate.
ERISOL SPRITE: you’d probably get fuckin wrecked.
JAKE: I will deal with that if and when we come to it erisol!
Right now it’s just…
One step at a time.
One more adventure.
I can do this!!
ERISOL SPRITE: are you done with the weak ass self pep talk.
because it’s kind of embarrassing to listen to.
JAKE: Mr. erisol sprite can I ask you something?
ERISOL SPRITE: no but I bet you’re goin to ask anyway.

[Panel description: The track changes to a song from the Evangelion soundtrack.]

[Panel description: Jake lifts his phone and frowns at it. Erisol sprite watches from over his shoulder.]

ERISOL SPRITE: it’s obviously some quasi metaphysical foreboding instinct coded into me by skaia as part of my role as your spirit guide.
or just the result of you being so fuckin predictable.
JAKE: (Weird. I don’t remember this track being on here…)
Look at you putting that repository of quasi-omniscient sprite knowledge to use!
Could you perhaps use that knowledge to give me a little help on what exactly I’m supposed to... do?
ERISOL SPRITE: it’s some pseudo-symbolic obstacle course bullshit zigzagging the bottom of the canyon on this miserable planet.
plus the enormous worm monster.
I don’t really know and I don’t really care.
it wasn’t my denizen.
JAKE: Oh.
Oh who am I kidding?
I probably can’t do this.
Maybe I am just a spineless worm of a man after all.
Look at me! I can’t even tell Jane how bad she made me feel when she’s right in front of me asking me to do so.
And don’t even get me started on apologizing to Dirk.
OR joining Roxy in the exultations over meeting our relations!
I know everyone needs to play their part in the game for us to succeed but...
Certainly if I go confront a giant snake monster I’m just going to embarrass myself at best.
Or at worst die. Horribly.

[Panel description: Erisol sprite leans his head back and groans.]

JAKE: Actually all things considered maybe just dying wouldn’t be so awful.
At least then I’d be less of a disappointment. Maybe they’d even pity me enough to retrieve my body and give me a nice funeral.
If that happens Mr. erisol tell them to just chuck me into the volcano on jades planet! It’s a memorable enough way to go and it’s a little like how I laid my grandmother to rest.
We’ll call it family tradition!
But hell more than likely I’ll survive to make an embarrassment out of myself yet again and then run into the woods to live among the tortoises in eternal shame as an exiled wild man or something!
Which is what I was doing before come to think of it.
ERISOL SPRITE: Jesus Christ I can’t take this shit any longer!!

[Panel description: Erisol sprite points a finger aggressively at Jake while flashing with yellow lightning.]

ERISOL SPRITE: you ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy asshole?
did you ever consider that if you got off your ass and did something maybe you could have avoided some of this?
you’re always asking and asking but you never DO anything with what people tell you you should do!
your entire pathetic teen drama session just keeps paddling around in circles in the fuckin kiddie pool and watching it with your awful existence keeping me tied to this wretched earth is so frustrating that it makes me want to...
To...

[Panel description: Erisol flexes his arms as his body continues to flash with lightning.]

ERISOL SPRITE: [A series of long, drawn-out screams. These trail off into:] Nope.

[Panel description: Erisol slumps with a frown. Jake watches him uncomfortably.]

ERISOL SPRITE: ugh.
never mind.
I still don’t care.
JAKE: You know...
If it makes you feel any better I think your friends are here?
There’s the nubby-horned one that shouts a lot and the pointy-horned one that sniffs people...
ERISOL SPRITE: WHAT.
T Z and K K??
they’re here too??
JAKE: Um. Yes?
ERISOL SPRITE: what about kanaya.
the undead bloodsucker probably wouldn’t hold back from choppin me in half again.
JAKE: I think so…?
I mean we were never formally introduced so I’m unsure of whom you’re speaking.

[Panel description: Erisol presses both hands to his head and screams. He is vibrating back and forth, and even more lightning flickers around him.]

ERISOL SPRITE: shit!!
I can’t let them see me with this sea-dwelling nook sniffer!!
hey! I’m not overjoyed with this turn of events either!
speak for yourself you bastard!!
that’s it.
I am endin this sham of an existence right here and now!

[Panel description: Erisol pauses, the lightning vanishing, and looks at Jake.]

ERISOL SPRITE: good fuckin luck human.
I won’t miss you or your asshole friends.

[Panel description: Erisol explodes in a green edged white cloud, which is labeled ‘the sweet embrace of death’. Jake rears back, alarmed.]

[Panel description: Jake looks blankly toward the viewer.]

[Panel description: Eridan's silhouette stands behind a column and looks through an opening onto a black and white landscape filled with cathedrals.]

[Panel description: He peers around the edge of the column, holdings a rifle in both hands. His eyes are yellow and wary.]

[Panel description: Vriska waves from the deck of a wooden sailing ship.]

[Panel description: Eridan, fully out in the open, looks at her, baffled. Then his appearance blurs and shifts, and his eyes become the flat white of a ghost’s.]

VRISKA: Ahoy there! (smiling face).
ERIDAN: what in the wide world
are you doin on a ship again.

[Panel description: Vriska struts down the gangplank toward Eridan.]

ERIDAN: back to our old commandeering ways are we?
is this some kinda dig at our old flarpin days.
because I’ve grown out of that thank you very much.
VRISKA: Nope!
This is a fresh start for me. I'm turning over a new leaf.
You're looking at someone who is officially one of the good guys!
ERIDAN: and what exactly inspired you to make this sudden change?
cause from a certain mustard blood with one foot in the bubbles,
I heard dyin sure didn’t do the trick.
VRISKA: That's none of your business!
The past is in the past and the only thing we can do is move forward.
In whatever bullshit circuitous temporally random way that counts as moving forward here.

[Panel description: Vriska waves at a random ghost. Behind her, Eridan slouches while Sollux squints at him from the edge of the panel. He is only wearing one eye patch now, and the exposed eye is a blank white.]

VRISKA: Besides, I don't think you're one to talk.
I only killed the one guy.
You took out two and made a good try on a third before Kanaya got you.
So if we're crunching the numbers here, I'm way more solidly on the side of the heroes.
SOLLUX: don’t forget all those ghosts you helped slaughter.
and all the trolls you fed to your lusus.
and A A.
and probably people I don’t know about.
VRISKA: Pish, who's keeping track?
Anyway, who knows! Maybe being here with us will bring about some kind of personal revelation for you too!
Then you can also redeem yourself for your horrible, horrible misdeeds.
And besides, we're not running a commandeering operation here.
Or anything remotely piratical, despite the cool ship.
I'm afraid that would be way too morally gray for the boss's delicate taste.
ERIDAN: what? then what DO you do?
and who’s in charge of this here shindig that YOU of all people are taking their lead.
VRISKA: I'll have you know that I am not taking orders, and there isn't anyone "in charge".
At least, those are the orders.
We don't have an official leader or any chain of command.
(Because if we did, I'd be a captain. At least.)
(You think most ghosts wash up here with as much experience as I did? Give me a break.)
But I can take you to the one who organized this.
He's always happy to greet new recruits personally.
It's kind of nauseating to be honest.
He's so sincere about it.

[Panel description: Vriska and Eridan stand in a doorway looking into a room where Tavros sits looking at a map of the shattered furthest ring.]

ERIDAN: oh you’re fuckin kidding me.
TAVROS: hi eridan. (smiling face).
its good to see you again!

[Panel description: Tavros waves. A God Tier Rose ghost stands next to him.]

TAVROS: well, one of you anyway.
we get a lot of alt selves on this ship.
but I think you’re the one from our timeline, personally?
ERIDAN: taking in the doomed doubles huh.
I’m not surprised that such a low blood rallies with the riffraff.
TAVROS: they aren’t riff raff, eridan,
and I don’t appreciate your hemophobic remarks!
that sort of speech isn’t tolerated here, if you’re going to be a member of our coalition.
doomed or not,
high blood or not,
or alternian or not!
each one of these people did something important, even if it was just trying out a path that didn’t work.
all of our selves are important and special.
ERIDAN: yeah yeah whatever helps you ass bloods feel better about your sorry selves.
are we gonna hold hands and sing a song and pretend we didn’t all wash up in the gutter.
TAVROS: Eridan!
VRISKA: Can it, Ampora. I'm five minutes from giving you a good old fashioned Serket beat down.
If you keep it up, he's going to start another sensitivity pep talk.
I already hear them like eight times a day!
Besides, we're all in the gutter now!
Might as well get over it!
TAVROS: vriska, its fine,
you know who to have him talk to, right?
VRISKA: Oh wow, what bad thing did someone do to get newbie duty?
TAVROS: everyone is important and special.
and, well, we have a few people who are just good at making people understand that.
it’s not a punishment to help lost souls find their true potential.
VRISKA: Right, of course!

[Panel description: Vriska jerks her hand behind her, sticking out her tongue. Eridan frowns.]

VRISKA: (Ugh, gag me.)
ERIDAN: (way ahead of you.)
VRISKA: I'm gonna go check up on the deck! You guys can handle Ampora, right?

[Panel description: Eridan follows Vriska when she leaves the room.]

ERIDAN: wait.
don’t leave me alone with these dweebs!
VRISKA: These dweebs are your friend leaders now! Deal with it!

[Panel description: Eridan pulls up short as he almost runs into Feferi, who looks at him with surprise. Sollux leans in from the edge of the panel again threateningly.]

[Panel description: Eridan’s eyebrows rise.]

ERIDAN: Feff??

[Panel description: Feferi also looks surprised.]

FEFERI: Eridan?

[Panel description: Eridan smiles.]

ERIDAN: Feff.

[Panel description: Feferi does not look impressed.]

FEFERI: Eridan.

[Panel description: Eridan's eyebrows draw together.]

ERIDAN: Feff...

[Panel description: Feferi puts her hands on her hips and scowls.]

FEFERI: Eridan!

[Panel description: Eridan frowns, pressing his hands together nervously.]

ERIDAN: Feff?

[Panel description: Nepeta appears between them with her head at waist level, the tips of her claws just visible at the bottom of the panel. Feferi looks down at her with a smile, while Equius lurks behind them. On the other side of Nepeta, Eridan backs away. Behind him, Vriska leans in to look at the situation.]

NEPETA: (double smiling face). A C leaps into the fray and asks if she needs to claw a meowtherfucker.