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You Are a Refugee From an Omnicidal Empire

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turntechGodhead [TG] RIGHT NOW opened memo on board FRUITY RUMPUS ASSHOLE FACTORY 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO.

Oh god.

You can't tear your eyes from the list of members on the sidebar. One by one the grayed-out trolltags pop into color as the little loading wheels spin, a hemospectrum spilling over your screen. On an impulse, you switch back to the Trollian home screen, but no luck—the tags there are still dark. Without Pesterchum hosting you still can't message anyone directly.

You log back into the chat screen, not wanting to miss anything. Your nails are practically clawing grooves in your phone's shell in nervous anticipation. Who's going to reply first? How are you going to communicate anything minutely useful over the chaos of a fifteen(fourteen?)-person memo? Who the fuck's idea was this anyway?

Seconds tick on.

Absolutely nothing happens.

"Is it working?" you hear Dave ask to your left.

"They're probably just not online right now," Sollux says. "We have liveth, you know. And half of them are sleeping, in case you've forgotten time zones exist."

Oh.

You begin to relax your shoulders. Of course. Most of those fuckers couldn't show up to their own job interview on time, let alone mystically prognosticate the arrival of an extraterrestrial envoy to know exactly when to check their Trollian. You used to be lucky if anyone even got back to you within the week. Maybe you should go to sleep and tomorrow—

Your relieved internal monologue is interrupted by a chime from your device.

gallowsCalibrator [GC] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.

Fuck.

GC: WH4T 1S TH1S I SM3LL?
GC: COULD 1T B3...
TG: delicious candy red?
GC: NO
GC: >:[
GC: RUD3 1MPOST3RS 1S MOR3 L1K3 1T!
GC: THOS3 4R3 MY FR13NDS TROLLT4GS, DONT W34R TH3M 4ROUND
GC: I C4NT BEL13V3 YOU P3OPL3
GC: I 4LR34DY S41D I DONT KNOW ANYTH1NG! STOP BOTH3R1NG M3!
GC: TH1S 1S TH3 FL1MS13ST RU2E 1V3 3V3R S33N FROM YOU Y3T

carcinoGeneticist [CG] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.

CG: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU BLABBERING ABOUT? IS SOMEONE THREATENING YOU?
CG: GODDAMMIT. I BET THIS IS ALL FEFERI AND HER GANGRENOUS PIECE OF SHIT COUP'S FAULT. SHE BLEW HER ONCE CHANCE AND NOW IT'S ALL FALLEN APART AND WE'RE GOING TO CHOKE TO DEATH ON THE PUTRID SHOCK WAVE OF ITS CATASTROPHIC IMPLOSION. I CAN ALREADY SMELL THE NECROTIC STENCH IN MY OLFACTORY TUNNELS THREATENING TO DISSOLVE THE PRECIOUS LITTLE PULMONARY LINING LEFT AFTER BEING ACCOSTED BY THE FUMES FROM THE BURNING CARRIAGEWHEEL SHE MUST HAVE BEEN SMOKING WHEN SHE DECIDED TO SEND AN ASSASSIN AFTER THE FUCKING CONDESCE!
CG: NEVERMIND THE CATASTROPHIC CONSEQUENCES YOU'RE INADVERTENTLY FOISTING ON EVERYONE IN A HUNDRED-MILE RADIUS LIKE SHITTY CANDY AT HUMAN HALLOWEEN! WHAT'S NEXT, A RECUPERACOON AMBUSH BY AN MERCENARY CAPTASSASSIN? MY FAVORITE PASTIME, BRUTAL INTERROGATION BY HIS TYRANNY'S ENFORSLASHERS! BUT YOU KNOW WHAT'S EVEN BETTER? BEING KIDNAPPED BY A BORDERSPACE BOUNTY HUNTRESS IN A THEATRICALLY OMINOUS BACK ALLEY!
GC: 6/10
GC: COLORFUL BUT NOT QU1T3 CR34T1V3 3NOUGH
CG: IF SHE DOESN'T HAVE A PHENOMENAL FUCKING EXPLANATION READY FOR EVERYONE STAMPED AND SEALED IN ROYAL FUCHSIA BY THE TIME I FIND HER, I AM CLOBBERING THAT GILLED MUG IN THE CHEEKY FACE, NEVER MIND THAT I'LL PULVERIZE EVERY BONE IN MY FIST SOONER THAN DRAW A DROP OF HER FANCY SNAIL BLOOD.
TG: oof

ectoBiologist [EB] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.

EB: hi terezi! we're here to help!
EB: we're aliens from a planet called earth.

gardenGnostic [GG] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.

GG: john, she knows what earth is!
GG: they sent karkat and sollux there, remember
EB: she might have thought we're mole people from underground or something.

twinArmageddons [TA] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.

TA: hii tz.
GC: OH MY GOD
TA: were real
TG: yep were fucking existent as shit man
TG: take a swill of all this nonfictitious realness were packing
TA: of cour2e thii2 doe2 precii2ely nothiing for the crediibiiliity of thii2 2tupiid memo and an iimperiial shiill would 2ay the exact 2ame thiing.
TA: ii dont even know why ii try.

tentacleTherapist [TT] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.

TT: Let's cut to the chase: what do you need from us to prove Karkat and Sollux are who they are and that we bear you no ill will?
TT: We'll straighten this out right here so we don't have to go through this all over again for the other trolls coming in later.
TT: My name is Rose. GG is Jade, EB is John, TG is Dave.
GC: UGH
GC: F111NN33, "ROS3"
GC: 1LL HUMOR THIS CH4R4D3 FOR NOW
GC: 1TS MOR3 FUN TH4N L1CK1NG OV3R R3NTAL CONTR4CTS 4NYW4Y
GC: SO WHY 4R3 YOU AND "K4RK4T" AND "SOLLUX" H3R3 TROLL1NG TH3 LOWLY 4ND HUMBL3 T3R3Z1 PYROP3E?? >:/
GC: PLOTT1NG H1GH TR34SON? ST4G1NG 4 LOWBLOOD R3VOLUT1ON? D3CL4R1NG W4R ON THE 4LT3RN14N 3MP1R3 ON B3H4LF OF OUR N3W HUM4N OV3RLORDS?????
TT: Nothing so melodramatic.
TT: Just looking to overthrow our dearest Imperious Condescension.
GC: WH4T 4 SC4NDALOUS 4ND UN3XP3CT3D 4NSW3R!
GC: 1F 1T W3R3NT TH3 TH1RD T1M3 YOU'V3 TR13D TO G3T M3 TO COLLUD3 1N SUBV3RS1V3 4CT1ON TH1S W33K
GC: SH33SH JUST G3T 4 H1NT WONT YOU!!!
GC: 1M NOT A R3B3L OR A TR41TOR OR WORK1NG W1TH THE H31R3SS!
GC: 4ND 1 DON'T W4NT TO B3
CG: JUST ASK ME SOMETHING ONLY I WOULD KNOW, YOU IMPERTINENT CHALK-EATING PRICK.

A strange thought strikes you: how are you all understanding each other? Terezi doesn't know English, and John and Jade wouldn't know any Alternian...

You take another look at your screen. You've been typing in Alternian—or at least you thought you were—but now you notice that your palmhusk is still configured on the English keyboard, and yet what comes out is perfectly legible. Looking over the chat log, you're parsing sentences and chunks fine, but when you try and focus on the individual words and characters, your eyes simple slide off. At first you think it's the tiredness getting to you, but as you concentrate and force your eyes to do their job, you find the pixels seem to flicker and intersect in an almost existential ambiguity, occasionally resolving into a Latin character one moment and an troll glyph the next, but mostly just abstract static glitching over the lines.

When you step your visual focus back and go back to reading normally it's impossible to notice, like a psychic effect's actively averting your attention. If it wasn't for the language confusion, you don't think you'd have ever realized.

What the fuck?

You briefly press back to return to the Trollian homepage and tap into your logs with Dave. English, peppered with idiomatic fragments of your language. That's real text. You go back to Fruity Rumpus Asshole Factory 2. Flickering static. You enter Operation Regisurp 2 where you and the humans were talking earlier. Static.

So Pesterchum's translating somehow, but only where necessary?

Your attention is caught by the sudden appearance of indigo text in your notification bar.


centaursTesticle [CT] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.

CT: D --> What is this
CT: D --> I have made it e%plicitly clear that I will not abet further unsolicited contact from the mutant and his ilk
CT: D --> If it is even truly him that is pol1ooting my device with his treasonous nonsense, as the tealblood has pointed out
CT: D --> That is without mentioning the literal treason that is being plotted in this memo

Oh fuck you, it's the one person in this entire group that might be insane enough to immediately rat you out to the Empire at the first whiff of what you're planning.

"Why the bulge-curling hell did we invite Equius?" you hiss at Sollux.

"Fuck fuck fuck th'hit I don't know I can't boot him out now, he'll thtill have the logth!"

"Can you go back in time and stop us from doing this?" you ask Dave, even as you try your best not to think about being deallocated like an unused memory resource.

He shakes his head. "There's 15 people across thousands of light years entangled in this state. Even if I'd primed it properly it would be a risk, but a spontaneous retcon? My head would explode like a watermelon. And then I'd resurrect, to be fair, but that wouldn't actually achieve anything."

Fuck. Time to improvise. You are not awake enough for this shit.

CG: THE LAW CLEARLY STATES IT'S NOT TREASON IF WE'RE ASSISTING THE RIGHTFUL HEIRESS IN HER CHALLENGE OF THE THRONE.
CG: AND BY THE WAY SHE ORDERS THAT THE EXISTENCE AND CONTENTS OF THIS CONVERSATION REMAIN ABSOLUTELY CONFIDENTIAL.
CG: IF *I* HAVE TO REMIND YOU THAT THE HEIRESS' WILL HOLDS ULTIMATE AUTHORITY SO LONG AS YOU REMAIN ALTERNIABOUND, SOMETHING'S GONE DISASTROUSLY WRONG IN THIS WORLD.
CT: D --> That is only in the ab%ence of contravening orders from Her Imperious Condescension
CT: D --> Who has revoked Feferi's command and ordered the capture of the Heiress and her allies
CT: D --> I ought to turn you in right now
GC: W41T, EQU1US!!
GC: 1F YOU DO TH4T, W3 COULD B3 4RR3T3D 4ND 3X3CUT3D FOR SUSP3CT3D CONSP1R4CY
CT: D --> I will not
CG: WHAT ABOUT NEPETA? YOU'RE JUST GOING TO LET HER DIE, YOU BRAINLESS CRETIN?
CT: D --> None of our other compatriots have taken part in this
CT: D --> There is a STRONG case against their e%ecution
TT: You misunderstand the nature of our allegiances, blueblood.
TT: We are empowered by legitimate authority and nobody can say otherwise.
TT: Tell us where you are. We will prove it.
CT: D --> That makes no sense
GC: 1T R34LLY DO3SNT
CT: D --> You are lying
CT: D --> Do you think me a f001
TT: No.
CT: D --> Yes
TT: I order you to, blueblood filth.
CT: D --> You are an alien
CT: D --> You are not truly of the royal castes
CT: D --> I am not compelled to obey to you, regardless of the e%quisite color of your words
TT: I may not be a troll, but blood does not lie. I am your superior in all respects. You will obey my commands.
CT: D --> You could be fraud001ently hemotyping
CT: D --> It is irrelevant
TT: If we're lying, telling us where you are will not change a thing. I'm willing to wager Feferi knows where you live anyway. This is merely a more expedient way of demonstrating our goodwill.
CT: D --> I am reporting this dista%eful assembly
TT: No.
CT: D --> Yes
TT: No. I order you not to.

You hate Equius you hate Equius you hate Equius—

"Karkat, help me out," you hear Dave call out as you tear your eyes from the train wreck happening before your eyes. You look up at his monitor.

He's been pestering Terezi directly while Rose was distracting Equius. Well, at least one of you isn't sitting around like lobotomized ducks banking on her gambit to actually work, because the blueblood's an idiot but not that deficient in rudimentary critical thinking. You wordlessly reach out to grab his floating keyboard.

"Dammit, Terezi," you hiss as you rapidly skim through the short log so far. You know it's not her fault—it's 100% the right move from her perspective—but god damn if it's not annoying having to deal with all this aggressive suspicion.

You reach the bottom and start hammering away at the mechanical keys. "Holy fuck, you type fast," he mutters.

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering gallowsCalibrator [GC]

TG: terezi
TG: its dave
TG: i know that means nothing to you but i really really really need you to tell me equius address
TG: i swear were friends
TG: if he does this everythings going to get a hell lot more complicated
TG: its your neck on the line too
TG: actually its mostly your neck were perfectly safe
GC: OK, 1'M PR3TTY C3RT41N YOUR3 NOT 3MP1R3 GOONS S3NT TO T3ST M3 NOW
GC: BUT TH4T DO3SN'T MEAN 1 TRUST YOU
GC: SO G1V3 M3 ON3 R34SON TO DO TH1S
GC: 4ND WH4T WOULD YOU 3V3N DO W1TH TH4T 1NFORM4T1ON TO STOP HIM? >:?
TG: we can teleport him out of his house
GC: 1 S33
GC: SO YOUR3 TROLL1NG
GC: PR3M1S3 N33DS WORK
GC: M4YB3 SOM3TH1NG L3SS L1K3LY TO G3T YOU CULL3D?
TG: look im going to say some words and see if it pings a memory
TG: land of thought and flow
TG: cruxtruder alchemiter kernelsprite
TG: john egbert dave strider rose lalonde jade harley
TG: latula pyrope
TG: doc scratch
TG: lord english
TG: vanilla milkshake
TG: dream bubbles
TG: come on youre a fucking seer just do your mindy thing and remember already
GC: 1 H4V3 NO 1D34 WH4T YOU'R3 TRY1NG TO DO H3R3
GC: 1S TH1S 4 CULT TH1NG
TG: TEREZI, THIS IS KARKAT
TG: THAT'S BETTER.
TG: I DON'T KNOW HOW I CAN CONVINCE YOU IN SO LITTLE TIME THAT I'M THE GENUINE ARTICLE AND ALSO NOT SHACKLED TO A TORTURE PLATFORM TYPING WHILE A PSYCRUCIFIER CRUDELY RELOCATES MY NAILS INTO A METAL TRAY TOE BY TOE, BUT PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF THE TRUCULENT GODS OF THE FURTHEST RING BELIEVE ME WHEN I SAY THESE HUMANS ARE HERE TO HELP.
TG: WHATEVER IS GOING ON IN YOUR LEGISLACERATOR AMATEUR DRAMA THAT'S GOT YOU ALL WORKED UP LIKE A CAVALREAPER ON HIS LAST HORSE I HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE, BUT IT IS ABSOLUTELY BULB-SCORCHINGLY CRITICAL THAT YOU GET YOUR DISTURBINGLY CONICAL HORNS OUT OF THAT GAPING STEAMING SHITCHUTE AND *TELL US WHERE THE FUCK EQUIUS IS*.
TG: THESE PEOPLE ARE LITERALLY ELDER GODS WIELDING UNFATHOMABLE POWERS OVER TIME AND SPACE AND THEY'RE GOING TO OVERTHROW THE CONDESCE AND HER SHITTY DICTATORIAL DYSTOPIA ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. YOU GAIN NOTHING OPPOSING THEM AND THEY *LIKE* YOU.
TG: I'M PERFECTLY AWARE IT SOUNDS LIKE I'VE PERFORMED AN SUPERSONIC SWAN DIVE OFF THE DEEP END OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ATLAS AND STRAIGHT INTO THE FROTHING WATERS OF DELUSIONAL ASSFUCK INSANITY, AND PROBABLY OUGHT TO CHECK MYSELF INTO THE NEAREST MENTAL INSTITUTE FOR LIVE SUBJECT PROCESSING AT MY NEAREST CONVENIENCE, BUT I SWEAR IT'S THE TRUTH.
GC: STILL SOUNDS L1K3 A CROCKLO4D OF BULLSH1T
TG: LOOK, YOU'VE ALREADY IMPLIED THAT YOU'RE ON THIN FUCKING ICE RIGHT NOW WITH WHO KNOWS WHAT AUTHORITY YOU'VE PISSED OFF. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THEY FIND EVIDENCE OF POTENTIAL COLLUSION WITH NOT JUST ILLICIT ALIENS, NOT JUST IMPERIAL TRAITORS, NOT JUST MUTANT DESERTERS, BUT *ALL THREE* IN ONE INCESTUOUS PESTERLOG CLUSTERFUCK???
TG: EITHER YOU LET EQUIUS BLOW THIS OPEN AND GET FUCKED WITH A GARGANTUAN RUSTY SPIKED FLAIL, *OR* YOU TELL US WHERE HE IS, THE DISGUSTING SWEATY MUSCLEBEAST FETISHIST THAT NOBODY LIKED OR EVER WANTED TO TOUCH WITH A TEN-FOOT STICK BEARS THE BRUNT OF ANY STRICTLY HYPOTHETICAL ALIEN PROBING-SLASH-GRAPHIC TORMENT WE MIGHT HAVE IN STORE FOR OUR ABDUCTEES, AND YOU SLEEP EASY ANOTHER NIGHT.
GC: OR 1 COULD TURN YOU 1N F1RST 4ND R34P TH3 SPO1LS FOR MYS3LF?? >:|
TG: IT'S NOT GOING TO MAKE ANY FUCKING DIFFERENCE!!! WE'LL GET OFF SCOT-FREE BECAUSE I'M *NOT EVEN ON ALTERNIA* AND YOU DIG YOUR GRAVE DEEPER. THE FLEET DOESN'T TAKE RISKS AND IT DOESN'T TAKE PRISONERS. MAYBE IF YOU WERE A HIGHBLOOD YOU'D GET OFF SCOT-FREE, BUT TEAL AND FUCKING *BLIND*? YOU KNOW THIS.
GC: 3URGH
GC: F1N3
GC: 4RCH8 MB27C
GC: KNOCK YOUR SAUNTERSOCKETS OFF, P3RSON WHO M4Y OR M4Y NOT B3 K4RK4T

Fucking finally.

"Mark it on a map and send it to Jade," Dave says over your back. "Jesus Christ, this orienteering bullshit is such a crock of garbage. Why did Space and Time get nerfed so hard?"

You comply, pulling up one of your earlier attempts at charting your friends' locations and marking the location of the postcode.

"Boo hoo, I don't have perfect spatial awareness and teleportation powers over the entirety of the observable universe and beyond," you snark, unimpressed. "Now my godlike space powers are confined to the speed of thought, and I can only teleport across the star system, woe is me."

With the press of a key you send the updated information off to the Witch of Space. Handing the controls back over to Dave, you consult your palmhusk again to check on the conversation in FRAF2, already dreading the worst.

CT: D --> Yes
TT: No.
CT: D --> Yes
TT: No.
CT: D --> Yes
TT: No.
CT: D --> This is ridicul100s
CT: D --> And a transparent stalling tactic
CT: D --> What do you hope to gain from this
TT: Surely it would be wiser to wait for the Heiress to arrive before making any hasty decisions. Not only is she of higher blood, but she's also a personal acquaintance of yours, isn't she? I understand that you have no particular love for the Empress, merely a proper respect for the spectral hierarchy. Perhaps the Empress' word takes legal precedence, but the same blood runs through Her Imperious Condescension's and Feferi Peixes' veins. Would you refuse even a simple audience with the Heiress?
CT: D --> You claim to repre%ent the Heiress
CT: D --> Yet you insisted you knew nothing of her plans earlier
CT: D --> Which will it be
TT: That's irrelevant. You will do nothing until further instruction.

arachnidsGrip [AG] RIGHT NOW responded to memo.

AG: What the hell is going on here?
TA: oh god
TA: not you
CT: D --> This does not involve you, Vriska
AG: 8ullshit!
AG: I'm reading through this and it sure as fuck sounds like it involves me!
AG: A clandestine plot transpiring right under my nose? It would be downright criminal if this weren't 8rought to my attention.
AG: I need to keep track of all these things! You know what they say!
EB: all these irons in the fire? :)
AG: Exactly, 8lue guy that I've never met in my life!
CT: D --> You will not fraternize with these h001igans

centaursTesticle's [CT'S] computer has lost its connection.

GC: OH WOW
GC: TH4T W4S QU1CK

Oh hell no, not fucking Vriska. Just your luck, first Equius and then her? You resist the urge to cuss her out over the chat. Priorities. What happened to Equius?

You tab back to Operation Regisurp, holding your breath.

GG: got him!
GG: wow he is
GG: really sweaty
CG: WATCH OUT, HE'S FREAKISHLY STRONG. I DON'T THINK BEING PUNCHED THROUGH THE CHEST BY A FLAILING MILKSLURPING DOUCHEBAG COUNTS AS HEROIC, BUT IT WOULDN'T BE A TERRIBLY FUN EXPERIENCE.
CG: WAIT, DID YOU TELEPORT HIM INTO ORBIT?
EB: yep, but i stole some air from your atmosphere to make a breathable pocket!
EB: he can't fly and there's no leverage so he's just kind of stuck floating in the same place? i don't think he's much of a threat.
EB: i guess he could slowly swim through the air, but he's too busy freaking out right now. heh.
CG: WHY DID WE EVER THINK PUTTING UP THIS MASSIVE MEMO WITHOUT ANY HALFWAY COMPETENT PLAN WOULD WORK?
TT: We didn't. Dave jumped the gun.
TG: oops

Growling silently, you switch back to the other group. Now that the immediate threat's defused—and to be honest, that's overstating it, Equius spilling the beans would be at most an inconvenience and the loss of a strategic advantage—the fatigue is settling back in, but the urge to bury yourself in a pillow is counterbalanced by the seething irritation bubbling in you that's only been stoked by Equius' antics and the introduction of your least favorite cerulean.

GC: VR1SK4, 4R3 YOU 1N ON TH1S?
AG: Nope! Just here along for the ride!
CG: JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, THIS IS THE WORST FUCKING REUNION EVER. THE CHAIN COLLISION OF EXPLOSIVELY UNSTABLE PERSONALITY CARICATURES INTO THE MALFUNCTIONING GARBAGE INCINERATOR OF UNTHINKABLE LOGISTICAL INCOMPETENCE ISN'T EVER GOING TO END, IS IT?
CG: WHAT'S NEXT, ARADIA RESTARTS HER POST-DEATH FEUD WITH VRISKA AND BLOWS UP THE NORTHERN SEABOARD? JUST AN INFERNO OF PERPETUAL SELF-PROPAGATING DISASTER BLAZING ACROSS THE PURPLE SKY, AN INFINITE STREAM OF ILLEGIBLE TYPING AND ASININE ARGUMENTS GALORE CAST INTO THE RAVENOUS MAW OF THIS APOCALYPTIC DUMPSTER FIRE. HOW THE RHETORICAL BEAST HUNGERS, OH, HOW IT HUNGERS FOR THE GOURMET FUCKING BULLSHIT BUFFET SERVED 24/7 FROM THIS CIRCLE OF BULGE-CHEWING NITWITS!
AG: Hi Karkat! Here to 8eg me for more favors?
AG: How are you even talking to us? Are you in the system? Way to waste all that effort I spent 8ooting you off to the far rims of explored space!
GC: 4H3M >:|
AG: Fiiiiiiiine. You all get SOME of the credit.
CG: SHUT UP, VRISKA. I'M HERE TO DO *YOU* MOTHERFUCKERS A FAVOR.
CG: GIVE ME A GODDAMN SECOND.

Somewhere in the addled depths of your mind you feel gears finally click and creak, and slowly you manage to start teasing a strand of something resembling an idea out of the loose neuron soup of your think pan.

If you need to prove something over Trollian, what better to use than the medium itself?

CG: OK, YOU DIPSHITS, LISTEN UP.
CG: TELL ME WHAT THE FIRST LETTER OF THIS SENTENCE IS. ACTUALLY LOOK AT IT ON THE SCREEN WITH YOUR EYES. EYE. TONGUE. I DON'T GIVE A FUCK WHAT SENSORY ORGAN YOU USE, JUST DO IT.
GC: ...WO4H
AG: What the fuck is that?
GC: 1T T4ST3S
CG: ABSTRACT? ELDRITCH? EXISTENTIALLY HORRIFYING?
GC: CONFUS1NG
AG: Cool, 8ut I repeat 8ecause you might not have heard me the first time:
AG: What the fuck????????
EB: ohhhhhh!
EB: it's been so long since i got the gift of gab i forgot that was a thing.
TT: Ah, yes. Another peculiar import from Old Earth's Skaianet. It's been so many years it that slipped my mind as well. As good a demonstration as any, I suppose.
EB: heh, i can't believe we didn't think of that.
GG: when it comes to sn tech, just... dont think about it too hard :/
TG: so tldr, were gods from another reality with superpowers including magic texting and here to overthrow the condesce slash make friends with you guys
TG: and by you we mean specifically the 12 of you because we knew the yous in that other reality at some point
TG: most of which were ghosts and dead at the time
TG: i dont know why i added that it just felt like relevant context so you dont get the wrong idea that we were all like alive and singing kumbaya around a campfire
TG: so hi
GC: 1 TH1NK B3TW33N TH1S 4ND THOS3 TH1NGS YOU W3R3 S3ND1NG M3 1M SM3LL1NG 4 TR3ND
GC: H4V3 YOU B33N T4LK1NG TO G4MZ33 BY 4NY CH4NC3?
CG: HUH?
TG: what does this have to do with the juggalo

"Karkat, did Gamzee ever say anything about Sburb?"

You reread Terezi's cryptic statement, an uneasy feeling coiling deep inside. "No," you reply honestly. "Terezi was involved in his trial. She'd know more."

After a pause, you dredge up something from your memories. Something which, based on what you've learned recently, might be worth reconsidering.

"He said... when he's sober, he hears voices. Do you think..."

"The Song?"

GG: wait, questions before we get too deep into this
GG: have any of you been attacked or in danger
GG: due to feferi related reasons or otherwise
GG: also it would be great if you could bring us up to date on that situation!
GG: because all we have is from karkat and sollux and theyre on earth and not really that well informed :(
AG: W8, what if I don't want to run a re8ellion?
AG: You ever think about that? Huh?
TA: you dont have a choiice
TA: we can lock you iin a thermal hull for the duratiion iif you dont feel up to iit ii gue22
CG: SECONDED.
GC: UGH
GC: 1 H4T3 TO 4DM1T 1T, BUT 1 AGR33 W1TH VR1SK4
GC: 1 K1ND OF N33D TH1S JOB?? 1T W4S H4RD 3NOUGH G3TT1NG 1T W1THOUT FUNCT1ON1NG G4ND3R BULBS
GC: TH4NKS VR1SK4 4G41N!!!!!!! >:[
AG: Come on, Terezi! We already established that was, like, only 20% my fault!
GC: >:[
TA: arent you on the rocks wiith your bo22e2 because of the feferii thiing
TA: or that2 what ii get from that 2piiel at the 2tart there
TA: i mean youre exactly the target audiience of her me22age2 and you knew her for 2weep2
GC: W3LL, Y3S
CG: IF YOU JOIN US FEFERI CAN MAKE YOU CHIEF LEGISLACERATOR OR WHATEVER STUPID TITLE THEY GIVE TO THE ONE AT THE TOP CALLING THE SHOTS. THE ONE WITH ALL THE POWER, JUST UNDER THE TROLL-EATING LAW MONSTER.
GC: DO YOU 4CTU4LLY H4V3 TH3 4UTHOR1TY TO PROM1S3 TH4T?
GC: 1 DONT TH1NK SH3 3V3N KNOWS YOUR3 DO1NG TH1S >:/
TA: liike 2he wouldnt do iit if you ju2t a2ked her niicely anyway.
TA: who el2e ii2 2he goiing two appoint?
TA: at the bare2t miiniimum 2hell giive you a real job iin2tead of thii2 glorified paper pu2her giig you 2till had to briibe and claw your way to get.
AG: So we're just accepting that extraterrestrial gods are real now???????
AG: Did Gl'8goly8 glu8 without me noticing?
GC: 3H
GC: SOLD
AG: Oh, come on, Terezi!
GC: 1M 1N TH3 MURD3V14N GLORY, OFF1C3 7133
GC: LOOK FOR THE B1G C1TY 4T TH3 NORTH34ST3RN P34K OF TH3 3GGY LOOK1NG CONT1N3NT
AG: This is such a 8ad idea!
GC: TH3 M4SS1V3 ST4TU3 OF TH3 COND3SC3!
GC: TH4TS TH3 4CTU4L BU1LD1NG
GG: one alien abduction, coming right up!
CG: WAIT, JADE.

gallowsCalibrator's [GC'S] computer has lost its connection.

CG: OH, GODDAMMIT. I WANTED TO TALK TO HER.
AG: D::::
TT: You'll get plenty of chances later, Karkat.
AG: Now it's just me and mutant nu8s. Look what you did!
AG: rtk3jyj

arachnidsGrip's [AG'S] computer has lost its connection.

Of course Terezi would instantly snitch on Vriska.

gardenGnostic [GG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]

GG: i can help you send a message if you like!
GG: but really youll get to meet her in person when you find bec anyway
GG: along with the rest of your friends!
GG: i have vriska here too
CG: AH, FUCK. JUST TELL HER
CG: I MISSED HER.
GG: thats it?
CG: I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY!
CG: ALSO TELL THAT TO THE OTHERS.
CG: EXCEPT VRISKA.
CG: FUCK VRISKA.
CG: BUT NOT IN AN DISMISSIVE WAY. IN A GRUDGINGLY HATEFUL KIND OF WAY.
CG: CAN YOU SOMEHOW CONVEY THE SENTIMENT OF "EXCEPT VRISKA; FUCK VRISKA" BUT IN A VAGUELY INSINCERE MANNER THAT SUGGESTS THAT IN SPITE OF HER AWFUL PERSONALITY AND GENERAL CONDUCT, I'M MOSTLY GLAD SHE'S NOT DEAD?
GG: oh my god karkat im not auspisticising for you in the middle of all this
GG: blackflirt with her yourself
CG: WHAT? NO!
GG: also shes been reading this over my back
CG: OH FUCK YOU.
CG: PLEASE TELL ME THAT WAS A JOKE.
GG: yes it was :p

"They're going to try picking up some of the others using Terezi's info," Dave reports. "We should go to sleep. Find Bec tomorrow, get there ourselves, you can have your joyful reunion then. Don't ruin your friendship appetite."

"That's not how friendship works. That's not how anything works," you throw back absently, still trying to process.

"Maybe not, but we're going to be up all night at this rate if I let you off the leash. We need everyone in top form tomorrow."

You grit your teeth, suppressing a traitorous yawn. "Easy for you to say—you're the one that gets to stay up all night hanging out in the chat. I haven't heard a slightest flatulent whiff from any of them in forever, dammit. Give me ten minutes to catch up. Just ten."

Just as soon as you find the words you want to say. No, you've got plenty of words you're dying to blurt out, enough apologies and admissions and questions to fill an essay, but hardly any you dare confess over the Jade Harley Telephone express. Being dead on your feet isn't helping your thinking process either.

"Yeah, I'll stay up all night and then have to go back and pass out for another 8 hours more," he points out in a beleaguered voice, jerking a thumb at his comatose body double snoring in a pile behind him. "Between that and the unpleasant surprises that I just fucking know are going to pop out of nowhere and crash our dog hunting trip tomorrow, I've still got almost twice the time you have left to wait before I'll meet the gang myself, dude. Look, we discussed this earlier. No take-backs, Karkat."

You grumble under your breath. You did, but that was in a moment of desperation to get Dave to shut his yammering and let you stay up for the big arrival. You didn't expect to have to follow through. Okay, well, you did, but you didn't expect it how hard it would be. You peek at your palmhusk.

GG: terezi said she missed you too :))
GG: vriska rolled her eyes
GG: i dont know what the horse guy is doing, johns trying to talk to him
GG: they told us getting nepeta next would help?
GG: hellooo

"A deal's a deal, sweetums," Dave wheedles, wielding the term of endearment like a skinning knife. You cringe. How is his ironic flirting even more irritating now that you're actually dating?

"I went my entire session without sleep," you retort, knowing very well how much you sound like a petulant wiggler. You rub your eyes. "Why don't you fuck off and pester Sollux instead?"

You try to consult your device again and Dave wraps his soft arms around you, gently pinning your limbs to your sides. "That was with Circadian March. And Sollux's already passed out like a concussed baby overdosed on sleeping pills, so your argument is invalid. C'mon."

You check and curse silently: he's right. The goldblood's head is lolling back on his chair, a hint of yellow drool building at the edge of his mouth. He's going to have a crick in his neck tomorrow. Damn, now the sight of the unconscious troll is agitating your slumber glands too.

The turntop ripples and corkscrews down a spatial drain into his sylladex, emptying the room of its dull red luminescence, and you hear your palmhusk chirp confusedly as the connection blinks out. Your eyes flutter at the sudden darkness and an unexpected weight hits your gander shutters. You feel yourself sag.

The god drags you both up the bed with the gentle thrust of god tier flight and flops down into the mattress, bringing you down with him. The pillow puffs as your head smacks into it before slowly deflating under the weight of your skull, hugging your horn and cheek with sinful softness. Dave's cradle tightens as he buries his head in your neck from behind, and your exasperated groan doesn't hide how you melt into the human's pliant hold. You're more tired than you thought.

"You can't bribe me with physical intimacy, asscrack," you mumble, but you know you've lost.

"Sore loser," he mumbles back, the twitch in his lips faintly tugging against your shoulder. Fucking cheater. You can't find the strength to throw him off, but even if you could, it's not like you can contact the others without his computer interfacing. Your eyes are closing despite your best efforts, and you start to lose your grip on consciousness.

Thoughts of home and friends are still bumping around in your think pan, but the bubbles of memories and unspoken words are already dissolving into a froth of sleepy warmth and lethargy. You barely notice as Dave disentangles himself from your body and props himself back up, register neither your unconscious mmph as something heavy drapes itself gently over you, nor the dim light trickling through the curtains for a split second as the god flits out the window to his watch post.

You dream of a dark planet under a scorching star and of twin moons pink and green.