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Homestuck; Aftermath

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==>Rose; Wake Up

Your name is Rose Lalonde, and you, along with seven other humans and six trolls, have just beaten the game Sburb.

You are exhausted.

Recently, you spent three years on a meteor; training and experimenting with the power boost and extra control that god tier granted you. Somehow, you ended up in a romantic relationship with the most beautiful troll you ever laid eyes on. You climbed the god tier achievement ladder like a monkey who'd drunk far too much coffee and perfected several fraymotif combos with your girlfriend.

The trolls had all achieved god tier as well, though whenever you asked how it was possible without quest beds, they would only mutter something about dream bubbles before changing the subject.

Even more recently, the fourteen of you managed to not only beat the shit out of three different versions of Jack Noir, (each with different power ups and abilities,) but you also, somehow, managed to get the drop on Her Imperious Condescension and kill her, as well as that unutterable asshole Caliborn. You refuse to use his assumed name. It's too good for him.

The planetary grist caches have all been fed into Skaia. The universe tadpole is about to turn into a universe frog. There is a door in front of you, set in a stone replica of the oddly put together, stylized house that seems to be one of the logos for Sburb.

None of you are sure of what you're going to find on the other side of the door. All of you are rather reluctant to open it. None of you want to be separated.

You have all grown closer. You have all leaned on one another.

You are not sure what you would do if winning the game means no longer being able to see, or speak to, or touch any of your friends.

It is John who finally steels himself and reaches for the door. Taking the consequences upon himself, as usual. Giving everyone the opportunity to blame him if the outcome is undesirable.

Beside him, Karkat reaches for the door as well. Not as a challenge this time, not to try to upstage John, but as a support, silently telling him that he won't be blamed if it all goes wrong at the last second, or if you all can never see each other again.

Their hands meet, and close over the knob.

The door opens.

And you all fall into light.

-----

Birdsong and the sound of running water wakes you, and you can't help but tense as you sit up.

This is it. The final test. If you are alone...

You shake your head, trying to rid yourself of that thought, and regret the action immediately as it begins to pound.

All around you, other voices begin to moan and groan.

Your heart lifts, and you stand quickly, looking around and steadfastly ignoring the jackhammer in your brain.

You are Rose Lalonde, and you are standing in the front yard of the house you grew up in. The sun is bright and warm overhead, and the breeze is cool as it rustles through the trees.

Your friends are spread out on the grass around you, and you don't think you have ever been happier.

 

 

==> Be the friendleader

 

You are now John Egbert, and someone nearby is laughing. That's nice. It's been a while since anyone really had a reason to laugh, but the edge of hysteria in her voice is making you worry, so you shove the blinding headache to the back of your awareness, and sit up.

You regret it almost instantly, as your stomach makes an immediate bid to become acquainted with the ground. You reject the bid through sheer force of will and take a few deep breaths before looking around.

There are a lot more people than you were expecting, all laying around in the yard of a house you'd only seen once in person.

But, you pause, then look around a little more frantically, where are the trolls? Where are Karkat and Terezi and Gamzee and Vriska?

And who the hell are all these extra people? Did you land on them when you stepped through the door? Do they live here?

"Roll call." You croak, "Everybody sound off."

Your voice is a harsh rasp, and you aren't sure everyone heard you, but the closest ball of groaning misery uncurls enough to reply.

"Jane Crocker. Alive."

One by one, each person calls their name and their status, and you're hard pressed not to pass out from shock when several of the humans call out familiar names in familiar voices. Familiar troll names.

It isn't until someone a bit further out calls, "Cronus Ampora. Wvishing I wvas dead again." That anyone else responds.

Karkat, still short, but pale skinned rather than grey, with messy red hair, rather than black, bolts to his feet, wobbles, then catches his balance and glares around.

"Who the fuck just said that?!?" He demands, his hands clenching into fists.

Somehow that draws his attention down to his own hands, and you sit back to enjoy the show.

After all, a genuine Karkat tantrum is something to be savored.

Rose catches your eye, and you grin at her.

"WHAT THE BULGESNIFFING FUCK!?" Karkat's shriek is enough to make you feel like your ears are bleeding, but you stifle a snicker anyway as someone else levers themself up into a sitting position.

"Karkat, what the fuck are you yelling abou-" They're cut off as they catch sight of Karkat's shaking form.

There's a flash of movement, (is that Dave? He doesn't look quite right, but Dirk is over there...) and suddenly Karkat is being inspected closely.

The inspection startles Karkat enough that he stops yelling, and that oddity is enough to get everyone who knows him to start sitting up and taking notice of whatever's going on.

Suddenly, there's a lot more noise as each of the trolls realizes that they've been turned into a human.

This isn't good. You can't deal with a huge, panicked mob. They need to calm down.

"ENOUGH!" You let the wind carry your shout across the yard, making it louder until it booms like thunder. You take a breath to say something else, anything else, but Rose interrupts.

"There is no need to panic." She says, smoothly lifting herself into the air, "I believe this is a prize for winning the game. Look."

And, so quickly, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it transition later, Rose is a troll.

Grey skin, short black hair held back with a headband, longish candy corn looking horns that arch just slightly backwards. Yup. Rose just turned into a troll.

What the fuck?!

Smoothly, she transitions back into her human self and continues. "As I said, I believe this is a prize, to allow those who would not be able to blend in to do so, and to allow for greater genetic diversity, should we wish to create a troll population on Earth."

You heave a sigh of relief as the tension drains out of the nearest human-shaped troll. Thank gog for Seers.

There's a quiet ripple through the crowd as the human-shaped trolls return to their troll form. Now it's easy for you to see that the trolls outnumber the humans in the crowd.

"Where did all the extra trolls come from?" You murmur quietly to yourself, frowning slightly.

"Most of them are the Alphas." A rough voice says from your left, and you glance over to see that Karkat has joined you, looking much more comfortable as a troll again, even as he squints against the sunlight. "But it looks like everyone who died is back too."

You frown. You'd heard about who died, and why, from Rose when you'd finally met back up.

"Is that going to be a problem?" You ask, and Karkat shakes his head.

"I don't think so. Apparently time is weird in dream bubbles, so any issues they had, they should have gotten over a long time ago."

You nod. "That's good. I'd really like to not have to fight for my life again anytime soon."

Karkat gives you a strange look out of the corner of his eye, but you're distracted by Dave, or rather, who you thought was Dave, extending a pair of absolutely enormous red-gold wings.

"What the hell!?"

Your exclamation must have been louder than you thought, because the Dave with wings turns his head toward you and smirks.

"Surprise, Egbert." He drawls, and hammers the wings down, leaping with the downstroke so that he shoots into the sky like a cork from a wine bottle.

A streak of red taking off from nearby tells you that the Knight of Time has gone to join his ex-sprite in the air, and you roll your eyes as the faint ringing of metal on metal reaches your ears.

You turn towards Rose, who is still floating five feet off the ground, her eyes on her ecto-siblings and a faint smile hovering around her lips.

"Rose," you tug lightly on her ankle to get her attention, and smile crookedly up at her. "We need to know who's here. Would you mind making a list? We need to know who's hostile to who, and who can stand who, as well."

"Who is hostile to whom," Rose corrects you, but pulls a pad of paper and a pencil out of her sylladex and starts to float off.

You call a thank you after her, and get an absent wave back, before heaving a sigh and turning back to Karkat.

"Anything I'm missing?" You ask, and Karkat scoffs.

"A fucking brain in your thinkpan?" He suggests, and you grin.

"Aww, come on. I'm not doing too bad!"

Karkat snarls at you, and your grin widens.

"John?"

You freeze at the deep, familiar voice from behind you, then, slowly, force yourself to turn around.

There, standing behind you with four other adults, is your dad. The familiar fedora carefully placed on his head, the pipe in one hand.

"Dad." Your voice cracks, but you can't bring yourself to be embarrassed as you literally fly at him and wrap him in your arms.

He hugs you back, tight, and you barely even notice the tears streaming down your face. You can't say anything but 'you're back, I missed you, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.' over and over again as he rubs your back.

Eventually, you manage to peel yourself off of him, scrubbing furiously at your eyes under your glasses and grinning sheepishly at him.

You've grown, you realize with a start. You can almost look your dad straight in the eye now, and it's weird. You can see the same realization in the rueful twist of his lips, even as he slings an arm over your shoulder and draws you back to his side.

You melt against him with a happy sigh, then catch Karkat's eye and blush horribly before averting your eyes to gaze absently out at the small crowd. You'll have to figure out somewhere for everyone to sleep, if Rose is all right with everyone staying here for the time being.

"JOHN!"

The sound of your name dopplers after the streak of red falling out of the sky, a golden form blurring after it, and you tense, pulling away from your father and getting ready to catch Dave's falling form.

Dave, however, pulls up at the last second, just above head level, and blasts his way towards you, the no-longer-sprite-Dave following on his heels.

The two of them touch down lightly in front of you, stiffening slightly as they catch sight of the adults behind you, then forcing themselves to ignore them.

"We've got trouble comin’ in fast." Red Dave reports.

"It looks like half the goddamn army is coming up the road this way. I don't know what the fuck they want, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they're planning to shoot first, ask questions later." Orange Dave continues, and you groan softly, shoving your glasses out of the way so you can pinch the bridge of your nose.

"Fuck."

Red Dave smirks. "I hear ya. Even better, I'm pretty sure they've got air support comin’ in, unless Rose lives directly under a regular flight path."

"This really ain't lookin' friendly." Orange Dave puts in, and you scowl ferociously.

"What the hell is going on?" You demand, then shake your head. "No. Never mind. You're sure they're coming here? And that they’re coming for us?"

Red Dave shrugs, "As sure as we can be without goin' over to get our asses shot off."

Orange Dave agrees with him, “This is the only road around, as far as I could see. And I could see pretty damn far.”

You wince, but nod. "All right..."

"We need to leave."

You barely manage to suppress a yelp, even as you spin in place to glare at Terezi, who grins toothily at you.

"'Rezi, what's going on?" You ask, and the blind troll shrugs.

"I'm not sure. Timelines say, if we stay, most of us end up on exam tables, and the rest of us are brainwashed, blackmailed, or outright dead. We need to get the fuck out of here, right now."

"Fuuuuuck." You groan, slumping slightly. "I fucking jinxed us. Fuck."

You let yourself have a two second pity party, then straighten up, and lift into the air, looking for a familiar black hood and white dog ears.

"Jaaaade!" You shout, and almost fall out of the air at the chirped, "Yes?" from behind you.

"Sweet baby troll jegus!" you yelp, massaging your chest above your pounding heart.

"Jade, can you still teleport? We need to all get out of here as soon as possible. The Daves said we've got what looks like half the US army coming up Rose's driveway, and Terezi said that things don't look good for us if we're here when they arrive."

Jade frowns for a moment, then brightens. "Sure! We can go to my island! It's remote enough that I don't think anyone will bother us there!"

You sag slightly with relief. "Good, that's great. Can you start teleporting everyone in a few minutes?"

"Yup yup!"

"Great."

You climb a little higher in the air, then clear your throat.

"Excuse me!" You call, "Can I have your attention please?"

A few people stop chatting, or wandering around and look at you, and you groan. You don't fucking have time for this...

"HEY FUCKWITS!" Karkat's voice booms from next to you, and you whirl around, your eyes wide as you look at your co-friendleader. "PAY SOME FUCKING ATTENTION, OR WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE. AGAIN."

Everyone shuts up and turns toward the two of you, and you grin your thanks at Karkat, who simply makes a get-on-with-it gesture with his hands.

"Right." You say, "We've got a fairly large military force coming up the road right now. They'll be here in..." you glance at the Daves.

"Thirteen minutes and twenty seconds. The planes in less than five minutes." Red Dave supplies, and you nod.

"About thirteen minutes. They've got air support, lots of guns, and lots of manpower. We need to get the hell out of dodge, so Jade's going to be teleporting us all to her island."

"Wait, we're just going to run away?" Someone demands, and you groan silently.

"At the moment, we have no clue why the hell they want us, or how the fuck they even know about us. We're at a fucking disadvantage, so yes, we're going to make a tactical retreat." Orange Dave calls back, "There's no point fighting an enemy when you're at the fucking disadvantage, so we're gonna to go make sure we can at least level the playing field."

"And then we'll come back and stomp these nooklickers into the ground!" Vriska's voice was raised in a joyous, bloodthirsty snarl, and you groan softly to yourself, even as the rest of the trolls seem to calm down.

You turn back to Jade, who's watching you with worried green eyes.

"You're going to do something stupid, aren't you." She asks, and you shrug.

"Probably? We need to know why they're here, but I don't want to risk anyone. I want you to leave me here when you take everyone. I'll wait here and see if I can talk to them. Find out what it is they want. It'll be fine!" You add quickly, "I don’t think they’ll attack an unarmed kid. I’ll be careful, I promise."

Jade scowls, but nods. "Fine. But I'm coming back as soon as I'm done. You need someone to watch your back mister, just in case!"

You give Jade a crooked smile and a swift hug, then allow yourself to fall back down to the ground facing the two Daves.

"Are you two going to be okay?" You ask, your eyes narrowed slightly.

The Daves glance at each other, then turn back to you.

"We're cool." Orange Dave says.

"Icy." Red Dave agrees, and you decide to take their word for it.

As you turn to go, a hand catches your shoulder, and you spin in place, the Pop-a-matic Vrillyhoo Hammer materializing in your hand as you spin.

The hand lets go, and you see your father standing in front of you, his hands raised to show his unarmed state, a strange look in his eyes.

"Oh jeez!" You gasp, and let the hammer slide back into your strife specibus, "Sorry Dad. What's up?"

"Well, I was going to ask if you were sure about staying behind," He says, chuckling awkwardly, "but I can see that you can handle yourself, so I'll just say be careful!"

He wraps you in a firm hug, and you hug him back, hard, before letting go and stepping back.

"All right everyone!" Jade shouts gleefully, "Here we go!"

There's a staticky sort of buzz, and everyone but you vanishes in a blaze of green light.

 

 

==> Be the younger Mother/Daughter

 

You are now Roxy Lalonde, and you have never seen so much living greenery in your entire life.

Well, you had seen it before on Jake's planet, and a bit on Jane's, but here, on Earth? Not so much. There are plants everywhere. There are trees!

It is very hard for you not to start squealing and rolling around on the grass like an idiot.

"Rose?" A familiar voice says from behind you, and you turn, look (slightly) up into an eerily familiar face, and gape.

There, standing tall and beautiful in a white labcoat and a pink scarf is you.

"Holy carp!" You squeak, and sit down hard.

"You... are not my Rosie." The other you says, and you shake your head.

"I'm her motherdaughter." You say. "I mean, I consider her my mother, 'cause I was made with her genetic material, and I was born way, way after her, and I lived in her house, but she was raised by you, and omigod you're me!" You squeak again on the last word, then blush as one elegant eyebrow lifts and the other you joins you on the ground, folding her legs carefully under her so that she can sit comfortably.

"I think I need more information than that." she says, and you nod and start trying to explain.

As you talk, her eyebrows get higher and higher, and a little furrow forms between her eyebrows. When you finish, she raises a hand to her temple and massages it lightly.

"I really need a drink." She murmurs, and you nod sympathetically.

"I know." You agree. "It's waaaay easier to understand when I'm drunk, but I kinda like being sober now, and I wanted Rose-mom to be proud of me, so I quit drinking. Plus, Janey might yell at me again if I fall off the wagon..." You glance around, and, seeing Jane no-where in sight, pull a small flask out of your sylladex.

"Here. I was saving it for an emergency. Like if I got stuck in a doomed timeline or somethin'? I really didn't think I'd wanna be sober in that case, and it wouldn't matter anyway, 'cause I'd end up dead in the end."

Troubled pink eyes flick from you, to the flask, then back.

"When did you start drinking?" She asked, making no move to take the flask from you.

You shrug, and put the flask on the ground in between the two of you.

"I dunno. I think I was six? Or maybe seven. Somethin' like that. I was bored, and lonely, and the movies I would watch would show the lonely or sad people drinkin' and it looked like they'd feel better, and the house was fulla booze, so I just..." you shrug.

"And it did make me feel better, a little, like I didn't really have as many problems, or like I wasn't alone, 'cause I could be silly or whatever and entertain myself. So I just... didn't stop?" You shrug again, slightly uncomfortably this time. "I met Jane and Jake and Dirk online a year or three later, an' it was kinda better, but they also kinda made me realize how really alone I was, so I drank more. It all kinda came to a head when we went in the game, and I quit. Jane and Dirk helped a loooot."

The other you looks contemplatively at the flask, then nudges it back towards you.

"I think I'll pass." She says, and smiles, "After all, if I can't follow my own example, then whose can I?"

You grin back, delighted, and swoop the flask back up into your sylladex.

 

 

 

==> Be a concerned older brother

 

You are now Bro Strider, and you have fucked everything up.

Well. Not everything. Just everything that actually matters. Like Dave.

Mostly Dave.

Screw it. You fucked up your kid.

And you aren't even sure why.

For thirteen years, all you knew was that you had to push the kid. Make him stronger. Make him faster. Prepare him. You were driven to train him endlessly, and you did.

Or you thought you did.

Looking back at it now, all you can see is an endless string of beatings that were, in no way, actually training.

Anything the kid learned, he learned in spite of you, not because of you, and you are horrified.

You saw him fight, or at least, you saw a version of him fight, there on the blue-black planet, against that winged bug thing.

He was fantastic. You wanted more than anything to tell him how proud you were of him. How much he'd grown.

But nothing came out of your mouth, and suddenly the bug guy was a dog guy, and way stronger than, and you couldn't move fast enough- Dave get out of there!

And the Dave you'd been fighting alongside lost a wing, and you were blind with terror and rage and suddenly you were on the ground, and there was laughter in the background, cackling in your head and PAIN. And then nothing.

And now here you are, in a crowd of people. Most of them look like monsters, but they're ignoring you, and you're not going to start shit until you know what the fuck's going on, but you've caught glimpses of white blond hair, and red-gold wings, and saw a fully human Dave flying somehow, and...

And your mind is clear. There's no laughter. There's nothing keeping you from speaking. You could go, and hug the kid as tight as you can, and you want to, god do you want to, but...

But you fucked up. Dave should have been taken from you. There's no way you should have been left with a goddamn kid; not if that was how you were raising him. So why? Why was he left with you?

Was it because you patched him up, rather than taking him to the hospital whenever he needed stitches after a 'training' session?

That thought makes you want to hurl. Your kid. Your little brother, who looked up to you, and idolized you, and loved you. You hurt him so bad he needed stitches on a regular basis.

Something else drifts to the forefront of your mind, and you blanch even further. Puppet porn? You filmed and produced puppet porn in front of him?

What the fuck?!?

You mean, sure, puppets are awesome. But why the fuck would you think producing puppet porn in front of a child was ever okay?!

You feel dizzy as more and more evidence of your unfitness to raise a child, to even look at a child is shoved into your brain, and you stumble away from the group, clutching your stomach.

'Sparring' with live weapons. Days with no food. No physical contact. No doctor visits. No praise. Stitches with no anesthetic. Show no emotions. Call everything 'ironic' to hide attachment.

You are a horrible human being.

You lean against a tree and empty your stomach onto the ground.

You have to get away. You have to keep away from your brother. Away from your kid.

You can't let yourself fuck him up even more. Not ever again.

You skirt the puddle of vomit, and stumble further into the forest.

You have to stay away from Dave.

"Hey, where are you going?" A voice, raspy, with a faint sweetness underneath. You ignore it.

"Hey wait! Jade said to stay here until she gets back with John!"

You can't. You can't let yourself be around Dave. You have to protect him.

"Aradia? What'th going on?"

"This guy. I think he's in shock or something? He's not listening to me!"

"Hmm..."

There's a tingling in the back of your head, then someone gasps hoarsely, and the sound of vomiting fills the air.

"Get Vrithka. Now." The second voice orders, then coughs and spits as the sound of footsteps rapidly fades away.

Good. Less people to try to get around.

You take a few more steps into the forest, and crackling bands of energy wrap around you, lifting you into the air.

What the fuck?

You start struggling, hard, but no matter what you do, you can't put so much a toe on the ground or a nearby tree or anywhere that would get you the traction you need to flash step away.

The fluttering of wings makes you struggle harder. Dave is coming. You can't be around Dave. You have to keep him safe from you.

"Put him to thleep right now!" The lisping voice howls, and you fade instantly into darkness.

 

 

==> Be confused.

 

There's a lot of that going around. Care to be more specific?

 

 

==> Be the confused Thief.

 

You are Vriska Serket, and you are most definitely confused.

"What the grubsniffing hell am I looking at?" You demand, staring at the unconcious human held up in Sollux's psionic grasp.

"It'th Dave'th hatchmate." Sollux explains, turning to go rejoin the larger group. "Thomething wath wrong. I could hear hith voithe in my head, thcreaming."

You scoff. "What, he was going to go kill himself? Good riddance to weaklings."

Sollux shakes his head, "I don't think that'th it. Jutht peeking into hith head made me thick. There'th thomething really wrong."

You roll your eyes, but follow Sollux back into the clearing Jade had dumped you all in. The limp, floating form following the two of you drew some eyes, but the expression on Sollux's face seemed to make people reconsider asking questions.

"I need Rothe." Sollux says quietly, and you roll your eyes again, but take off in a flutter of wings and glitter, searching for the familiar tunic and hood that is a nearly perfect match of your own.

You find Rose at the edge of the crowd, watching a woman sitting on the ground with the Roxy human.

"Rose." You say, jolting her out of her observation. "Sollux wants you. He thinks there's something wrong with Dave's hatchmate."

Rose frowns, turning to look at you. "What do you mean, 'wrong'?"

You shrug carelessly. "The fuck should I know? Apparently I'm just here to take messages and put people to sleep."

Rose rolls her eyes at you, but lifts off, hovering just above everyone else's head height and you turn to lead her back to where you left Sollux.

The human, Bro, or whatever his name is, has been laid out on a patch of grass, and Sollux is glancing around worriedly. He starts beckoning you on as soon as he sees you, and you sigh, roll your eyes, and dart towards him, Rose right on your heels.

"What's the hurry?" You ask, impatient, "He's out. He's not going anywhere. Jegus, calm your fucking bulge Sollux."

"That'th the problem." Sollux says grimly, "I think he'th getting worth."

Rose moves up to stand next to you, staring down at the prone male.

"What's wrong?" She asks, "What's getting worse?"

"There'th thomething in hith head." Sollux says, "Thomething that gave him thcarth in hith mind. It theemth like it'th mothtly gone, but therth little bitth left that are trying to do thomething but I can't tell what!"

The frustration in his voice is clear, and Rose frowns, and kneels, pulling out her Thorns.

"Let's take a look then."

 

 

==> Be Rose

 

You are Rose Lalonde, and you are looking into a mind in a way you had never before considered doing.

You are completely horrified by what you see.

Tendrils of sticky red energy are everywhere, bisecting memories, completely obstructing entire chunks of personality, and in some areas, twisting in such a way that should Dave's brother be inclined to behave in one way, he would instead act in a manner completely the opposite.

And even though the energy is everywhere, in little red threads, there are even more areas where there are only impressions; grey or black lines, like scars on the mindscape that showed where even more threads used to be.

The source. You have to find the source. It won't matter if you killdestroyburn out all of this sickening filth unless you get the roots. Jade has taught you this. When you are weeding, it is important to kill the roots. But you can't find it. You aren't familiar enough with the structure of a mind, all you can do is See.

"Get me every single Mind player here." You hear yourself snap at Vriska, distantly, "The Life players too. Anyone who can heal at all."

There's nothing but startled silence from the other Light player, then a faint flutter of wings as she leaves.

You'll have to apologize later, but right now all you want to do is sink into grimdarkness and destroy everything.

A warm hand clasps your shoulder, and you lean into it, but don't otherwise acknowledge it, focusing with everything you have on trying to find the root, the source of this malaise.

You feel first one mind, then several more join you; the Mind players, worried about what's got you so upset.

Distantly, you can hear retching, but you ignore it. It’s not important now.

More minds join, linked in by Terezi and her abilities as the Seer of Mind. They won't be able to help untangle anything, but they might be able to keep the infected parts alive while the infection is burnt out.

You follow the Mind players as they find the largest intrusion and follow it down into the depth of his memory, all the way to-

You wrench yourself out of the web, throwing yourself out of the circle that's congregated around Dave's brother, and knocking the human Dave off his feet.

You are furious. You are absolutely incandescent with sheer rage. You want to destroy everything, and the Thorns in your hands are humming with pent up majykal power. You raise your hands, barely noticing the scenery blur before slashing down your wands and blowing a huge chunk out of the landscape.

 

==> Be the worried Furry.

 

You are Jade Harley. You have just teleported yourself and your friendleader to the island you grew up on, and almost immediately had to stop one of your best friends from blowing up the clearing containing everyone who played the game.

You have no idea what's going on.

There are seven people grouped around the top half of an eighth person while the two Daves lean against a tree nearby. It looks like they aren't worried, but their shoulders are tense, and you can almost hear their teeth grinding from here.

"What's going on?" John asks quietly from beside you, and you shrug.

"I have got absolutely no clue." You say honestly, "None of them. At all."

John sighs, and scrubs his face down his hand. "All right. You figure that out. I have to go talk to my dad and Karkat about this enormous cockup we just got dropped into."

You nod, and he strides off, snagging Roxy from a conversation with one of the Alpha trolls with a quick apology even as he drags her off.

You frown, but turn to look at the scene that first caught your eye.

You can't tell what's going on from a distance, so you sidle closer and start picking up snatches of conversation.

Except, that's all the conversation there is. Snatches. As though they're talking to each other on two separate levels, and can't quite keep it to just one.

It's all completely useless to you, though, and trying to piece the sentence fragments together just confuses you, so you turn your attention to the Daves instead.

You really should figure out a way to differentiate between your friend and your ex-boyfriend when you speak, actually. After all, it would be bad to have Friend Dave think you're being mean to him, when you're really talking about ex-boyfriend Dave.

Although... maybe you should let it go already? It has been a while, and he did have somewhat legitimate worries.

Kinda.

In a way.

Ish.

Anyway!

"So what's going on? Who is that?" You ask, glancing between God-Tier Dave and ex?-Sprite Dave and the eerily similar guy on the ground.

"Dunno what's going on," God-Tier Dave says casually, "No one's said yet. They just keep spouting gibberish like it's goin' out of fuckin' style."

"That's Bro, though." Ex?-Sprite Dave puts in, and God-Tier Dave huffs a bitter laugh.

"Be fuckin' ironic as hell if he managed to come back from bein’ dead in the game, only to drop dead in real life within twenty-four fuckin' hours."

Your jaw drops slightly, then your eyes narrow. "Now you listen here, mister! What is even with that defeatist attitude? Where did that come from? Your bro is going to be fine! He's going to wake up! And he'll be so happy to see you! Probably a little confused, too, because now there's twice as much Dave as there used to be, BUT that just means twice as much awesome! So! No more silly talk out of you, okay?"

The Daves sigh in unison, then jerk to attention as, one by one, the players around his bro start to relax, dropping out of whatever mind meld thingy they've got going on.

"So what's the sitch, Spider-bitch?" God-Tier Dave asks, his hand crammed into the front pocket of his godly pjs.

Vriska mock snarls at him, but she looks tired. "Your hatchmate has been royally fucked up by the green asshole himself." she says bluntly. "I couldn't do anything but watch, and I don't understand a lot of what I saw, but what I could understand is so unbelievably fucked up I'm amazed he didn't fucking kill himself as soon as he fucking could."

Both Daves tense even further, and God-Tier Dave opens his mouth to say something, only to be cut off by a chime, followed by John's voice speaking quietly out of thin air next to your ear.

"We need to have a meeting, right now. Everyone with access to a computer of some kind, get there. Now. I'm opening a memo, because we need to have a record of this absolutely fucktastic goddamn mess."

Vriska winces slightly, glances at the Daves, then sighs and speaks in the odd, double-tone that indicates the use of the ‘Gift of Gab’.

"Dave's bro has to stay asleep, and if you think your news is a clusterfuck, then we've got a whole new definition of clusterfuck going on over here. Everyone needs to know generally what's going on with this, too, so I'll bring it up on the memo."

"Fine." John agrees, and sounds so tired you almost yawn yourself. "Jade, you might want to see about getting Rose back on this planet."

"Right!" You chirp, and glide over to where you left LOCAH, miniaturized still, floating in the shade.

The poor planet definitely has some new craters, but you can't see any more ongoing destruction, so you teleport yourself down to where you think Rose might be.