With half of everybody still asleep or so groggy they might as well be, Feferi busy sitting vigil by her horrorterror of an Ancestress, thankfully still conked out, Terezi chatting up a storm with her own, Karkat having fucked off for parts unknown, and no internet connection...
You'd be bored enough to cry like a little bitch without Roxy. Maybe enough to blast a second tunnel to the surface with your brain. Either/or. (Then again, after that you'd be outside but apparently outside there's plants and nature and shit. Nope.jpg.) When Roxy's awake, though, it's hard to remember that the walls are boring and rocky and the floor is hard and rocky and you are surrounded by boring hard rock and slumbering assholes and just about nothing else.
When she's awake you're too busy wanting to slap her across the snout. Only that'd be way too cheap.
"Choke on my hot long self-replicating worm, you script kiddie!"
"Iyaan, Solly-baby, what is this, it's too big, it'll never fit -- whoops I chomped it in half with my rad as hell firebirdwall. Hi there, nice files you have in that li'l folder!"
"Yeah, have fun with my dummy session while I slide all nice and tight in your backdoor--"
"You guys are the filthiest," says that other human girl, the short-and-round cerulean. She adds a sadly disappointed shake of her head that makes the oddly Gl'bgolybian curls of her doubled horns clang against Roxy's sweet rack and hook her in. You might be snickering a bit; they keep forgetting they have headgear now, it's hilarious. You watch with a small sardonic smirk on your face as the green ex-skullmonster chick leans over Roxy's lap to squint worriedly at the mess they've made and guide Roxy's outermost spur out of the cerulean's minor branch.
You still don't know if Cerulean Chick is Roxy's moirail or her matesprit or some weird human muddle of both, but the way Roxy was around Strider Bis was so goddamn pale you might have gagged a bit.
"You could try to help, Mr. Captor!" Cerulean Chick says with a harrumph.
Ehehe. "Naw, why? You gotta learn to remember that shit's there and learn how to deal with it. You're not doing them a favor, not letting them handle it, you know," you add to Greenie, fake-disapproving. Roxy scowls and kicks your ankle. Ow. Yess.
"Don't listen to him, Callie, he's just jealous because his are tiny."
... Oh she didn't. "Oi, oi, mine would be a perfectly respectable size even if I didn't have two pairs, I'll have you know, you non-trolls are the freaks, what's with the hugeass rack average? Only JD's are natural-sized."
You give a mildly disgusted look at the two human boys spooning, dead asleep, behind Roxy. The non-John Prospit one at least brings down the human average by having smallish burgeoning rounded horns, rooted low on his temples, that probably won't even bother him at all. The Derse human, non-Dave but still Strider and therefore Douchebag to the end, apparently decided that three fourths of an arm's length was a perfectly reasonable size. His sweep to the sides and up in half-circles before thrusting back like lance points, and the contortions the poor asshole has to make to rest on his side without craning his neck at a crippling angle are pretty ridiculous.
"Naw, Daddy Crocker's are like even smaller than your little shouty friend, it's disgusting how small and cute they are."
The cerulean groans. "Roxy, Heaven help me, if you start drooling after my father again--"
"It's not my fault they just, like, poke out of his hat like tiny devil baby--"
You've had sufficient time to hack through three layers of firewall; you felt like an awesome sneaky bastard at first but now you're feeling like she's gotten bored. "Oi. It's not that I don't care about you guys and your sudden fascination for horn fondling, but actually, no, I don't care. Can't you wait until you're behind locked doors or something, it's gross."
"Okay, okay, jeeze, you're needy -- oh, you bitch! Oh, Captor, you didn't."
"Sure did, sweetcheeks."
The two of you go right back to trying to pin each other down and ride each other into the ground by computerized proxy.
It's fucking gorgeous in really frustrating ways what she can do to a computer, with her mix of Alternian and Earth coding and the hideous ways they've been stitched down the middle. She throws challenge after challenge in your face in computing languages you've barely started learning, and who cares about the rest of the cave anymore, or her cuddlebitches one on each side and two behind and their five-ways red clusterfuck, your world is your grubtop and the keyboard dancing under your psionics --
The screen goes black.
"Victory!" She squeezes the Cerulean ex-human and the green ex-skullmonster against her sides, and grins, all white teeth and sparkling, too-lightly-pink eyes. You stare. "Team Ro-Lal ruins Captor's shit once again!"
"... Did you just fucking turn my grubtop off with your toe. Is that a thing you did."
Her leg is still stretched out in the gap between your lap and hers, long and shapely and utterly shameless. "Pff. Yup, that sure is a thing I did."
No. No, breathe, Captor, you are smart, your brain is your weapon, cavetroll displays are so lame, no pouncing, you guys are in public and she doesn't even seem to take it seriously.
Maybe if you bit her she would.
That's a very cavetroll impulse, though. You are noping that shit. Breathing now. "Yeah, good plan, RX, if you can't make it and suck too much to even fake it, guess there's only running off with your fronds in your audition canals trying to convince yourself into teleporting to opposite land somehow. Masterful strategy, and I for one am impressed."
She's pouting at you now. You smirk, thin and just a little bit vicious (not too much, you don't want to come off as an unsubtle tool.) One of your longer fangs peeks out, which looks totally badass and subtly threatening in a completely rugged way. Not that you practiced in front of a mirror back on the meteor or anything.
"I sure hope troll boys have better stamina than human boys, because I'm about to ride your motherboard into the ground, Captor!" Her eyes are alight, her head tilted forward to threat-display the fanning manifold arcs of her horns. She's going to give you a real fight this time, you can tell. She's gorgeous. "Callie, Callie," she says excitedly, "get your handkerchief, give us the signal for round two--"
But the green chick doesn't. She's staring over your shoulder with her mouth folded down at the corners all worried and shit, and then Roxy follows her stare and her excitement peters out like a balloon someone took a flurry of throwing stars to.
Your stomach sinks a little bit.
And then you hear your matesprit's raised voice -- stern warning, a point of anger, that rarely used authority -- and a gust of wind that has no place in a stupid dank cave ruffles your hair, and you forget about blackflirting.
You'd been hearing people talking in the background for a while but like you cared, they were boring, everyone was boring, and oh fuck.
Her Imperious Condescension and her Imperial Heiress are squaring off.
They're decked out in the same colors -- no black-as-space bodysuit, no fluttery bright veiled skirts, just hoods and tunics in dull brownish grays, only the cuts are different. The all-swallowing mass of hair and the spear horns make the Condesce look about three times bigger, even if she wasn't an adult to Feferi's eight sweeps and a bare handful of change. Fuck.
You captchalogue your grubtop messily -- you'll think about how to retrieve it later and too bad if you didn't save -- and you jump on your feet. Culling forks aren't yet out but the air feels heavy like they will be in a second; you're not letting that happen. You yank a chunk of rock out of the ground with your psionics, take flight.
Her head swivels to stare at you -- dark pink eyes, blood pigment straight through, and you might say you're not impressed and you thought you weren't impressed but there's a second where your eyes meet, and her disdain and the sense of her age and all the power she's ever wielded in her impossible life hits you right in the pit of the stomach.
Feferi isn't stepping back, so you won't either, fuck that noise, fuck it right up the waste chute --
You sway in the air. The rock slips from your grasp, and a second later so do you. You hit the ground and roll to a stop at Feferi's feet and you're choking, oh fuck, unfair, she couldn't, how did she, what --
Fighting for breath, you force your eyes open. Feferi steps over you, skirts tickling your skin. The dim cave grows even dimmer -- no, that's the shadow of her wings.
Forget tridents. Their wings are out. God Tier.
Thief of Life. She's going to drain you dry.
"Good try, buoy," she says, and her voice is laughing about how much no, it wasn't. You want to snarl.
"You get your claws out of my boyfrond right the shell now," Feferi does snarl, and you're afraid she's going to decaptchalogue a trident and it'll be the Trial of the Empress, fucking honor duels blahblah no interference, and like hell you're letting your FF commit suicide against the hag's longer reach and eons of combat experience. You struggles to roll on your stomach, put your hands under you.
Instead a burst of blue-bright light blinds you. You choke, breathe in deep.
"Oh thank fuck." You jump back up. The cave is trying to whirl around you but you are not letting it happen, fuck it in the nasal blowholes.
Doom is passive as fuck as far as powers go, but you yank at it anyway, feel your clothes shift, your wings catch the breeze, and then you don't even need your psionics anymore to fly, which at least is something. You are so not about to slam someone with the kind of broad curse that comes most easily; for one thing, she's still close enough that your whole group might get caught in the backlash. "Thanks, FF, I'm good now."
"Stay behind me," she says without looking back, lips pursed in concentration, hands held before her and a shield of blueish-white power crackling before the two of you. The Condesce looks amused, bored.
It grates a bit, but you're smart enough to stash your ego when there's hagfish ass that needs kicking. "Mnh. Kay." You pull out more chunks of rock. "Long-range attacks?"
You can hear a smile in her voice. "Shore, sounds like fun."
The Condesce gives the two of you a weird, vaguely condescending, cold smile in return. "Your... boyfrond, little Heiress?"
Great, there's two of them doing the fish pun thing.
It's weird, for a second Feferi almost smiles, a real one. "My mantasprit. He's feisty, huh. I like that."
You'd protest, only that's apparently the end of the ceasefire. Maybe the Condesce is jealous Fef's quadrants aren't an empty wasteland or something. She pounces, claws and arm held forward like a spear, slices through Feferi's Life shield with nothing but her own body. Since apparently lifey stuff won't work you counter with a very physical rock to the face that she has to throw herself back to avoid. You and Feferi jump back, wings fluttering, to regain some distance and prepare another attack, but she just dodges lower to the ground than you thought such a haughty bitch would ever get and she pounces again, shit. She's trying to separate you.
You allow her, pretending to trip. Because behind her the whole cave is a blur of sleeping or stunned or useless people and absolutely no other help coming, which you might almost believe if pure cold logic didn't tell you everything about what a huge crock of shit it is.
Lamprey teeth bared in a delighted smile, she arrows straight for you.
Roxy lets go of the pay-no-mind warp she was holding. Two green-clad Pyropes stab together.
"Mother of fuck!" She dodged that. How did she dodge that?! They were on top of her! Terezi and her Ancestor almost collide into each other when she jumps straight up for the cave ceiling, and have to execute a pretty smooth crouch/barrel-roll combo to avoid an accident.
"Well. I did not see that coming!" Terezi says, straightening up, narrow blade singing as she swishes it down. Her Ancestor snickers at the bad joke. They go en garde again, mirror images. Niiiice.
"I don't believe she even thought before she dodged," says the older Pyrope idly, pretty much daring the hagfish to get offended. "Dumb animal instinct gets pretty developed after a while, is my best guess."
Feferi groans. "Oh cod, you guys brushed against her tendrils as you came in, didn't you."
Terezi slaps her forehead. The Condesce is still hovering over your heads, in between amused and annoyed now, better than bored you guess. She still isn't taking any of you seriously.
That horrorterror she has growing from her head is a pretty effective warning system against attacks from the back and sides, huh. By the time an assailant gets through it, she's already not where she was anymore. Hmm.
"That was a lobsta fun! But you guppies are boring me now."
Terezi is the first to stumble, and then Roxy, and John's lusus over there by the far wall. You're closer to FF, she shields you -- time enough to throw a bolt of power that ... only manages the sear the end off a hank of creepy hair, and then crash into the ceiling and make everything tremble. Shit. Whoops.
And then it gets dark again.
You try to answer Feferi, but it turns out your mouth is full of masticating gum or perhaps cement and nothing intelligible comes out. You try to force your slowing thinksponge to cough up a solution but there is no getting out of the Condesce's range in this cave, she has you all corralled. Fuck.
"Feferi," said a girl's voice behind you. You push yourself on your back (your wings protest with a flash of pain that briefly clears your head) and blink up through the haze.
Roxy's ex-human friendmate is walking up, fists clenched in her trailing lapels, back stiff. You're not sure what she thinks she can do.
Then she lights up blue-white, incandescent, tendrils of life energy crawling through the whole cave in a way that for a seconds reminds you uncomfortably of the Red Miles. It's like Feferi can grab them, harness them somehow because her own glow flares. She grins over her shoulder at the human, all proud and excited and ready to fight, as she combs her fingers through the light and -- does whatever it is she does with Life stuff. Braids it, nets it, weaves tapestries.
Witch to manipulate the energy and Maid to, apparently... generate more for the Witch to manipulate? Wow, why doesn't the sea-hag drain her dry then? Does blue chick have so much juice it's useless or what? You might be a little impressed.
Eventually the light show settles down. Back on your feet, you walk closer cautiously, gathering psionic energies along your arms, around your hands. Feferi and -- right, Jane, her name's Jane -- stand side by side, their wings spread, tendrils of blue-white light still crawling all over them and to each other, like Jane is still feeding more to Feferi.
Their wings. There's something off with this thought. There is. Only as you mentally screech to a stop to examine it more closely the Condesce fists her hands and barks out a command.
"Helmsman! Target on starboard! Fire!"
Oh holy shit.
"TZ down!" you yell, gathering all the juice you have left; Feferi shrieks, "Sollux!"
Your Ancestor hasn't ever been entirely awake from the first; even now he still isn't.
He almost flash-fries you into cinders. Burning energy lashes at your arms, your sides, raises welts. You stumble back, grit your teeth, oh fuck, fuck, fuck, he's too strong.
His face is so fucking creepy -- expressionless, empty. There's a little voice in your head that keeps going "it could have been you, it could have been you." It doesn't help your concentration.
You can't step back; if you start losing ground you'll never regain it. You can't deflect; it'd crumble the cave if the gathered energy hit the walls or the roof, you'd kill all the people still asleep, and they might be immortal and it might not stick but how long will they have to revive and die again under several tons of rocks before you manage to dig them out? You can't, you have to keep it balanced, perfectly balanced -- ow, fuck, ow, your hands are blistering, your thinkpan aches, your smellnub is starting to feel too wet.
Empress Fishbitch is smiling as she glides gently down from the ceiling. She has way too many teeth. You bet she knows a trillion ways to skewer someone on her horns, choke them with her hair, who the fuck needs a trident even, but then she pulls it out and twirls it and she tilts her head in challenge at your FF. You are so fucked.
"Feferi, no, stay with me," Jane snaps, and the Pyropes are rolling out of the direct line of fire and regrouping but you can see burn marks where psionic energy sparked at them and teal tracks on their faces, out of their ears; Terezi stumbles, you can tell her balance is fucked.
"But a formal shoallenge--"
"No," Jane snaps, authoritative enough to get even Feferi to pause and look back. Okay. You like her. Yes. Now you have to stop listening before you get everyone killed, not that you won't get them killed anyway, is that a whisper of voices in the background crawling back up to you, oh no, fuck no --
And then a violent gust of wind plasters all your clothes to your body and you almost lose control of the ball of psionic energy.
The wind has tangled up your Ancestor, and while he's using his powers to stay unmoving -- can't have a real tornado in such a small underground space and it'd take at least that to shift him -- it now appears he is choking.
His creepy lack of expression doesn't change one bit as he gasps for breath and it doesn't come, or as his face turns blotchy yellow, or as he slumps -- you get reminded to stop staring and do something you asshole when his part of the energy dissipates, because you almost fry him and the guys sleeping behind him before you can redirect your power. Shit. You barely manage to aim it to the far wall where no one is standing -- boom, rattle.
A cloud of dust blooms through the cave. Shit again. You make a shield around you and FF and girl JN to block the dust, tense, expecting an attack.
It clears fast, because the miniature tornado is still going, but it's not an attack that comes, it's your ancestor, thrown around like a rag doll; he hits the floor and bounces.
You don't think, you yank him to you with your psionics and ow fuck your head hurts, your lips are striped in warm blood flowing from your nose, and you misjudge his weight and yank too hard and then his bony, too-tall body flies right past a very startled Jane and impacts with yours straight on. You stumble back and gracefully land on your almost-as-bony ass.
People tell you you're all bones. You have now found someone who actually is.
"Where is she?!" Feferi snarls, fins flaring, scanning the room, and Jane does the same and you just... blink...
... a lot...
... Uh. Wow. What?
This is John. This is all John. This is so John. You are blaming John. You are blaming John and also buying him a pint, if this godforsaken land of caves and no internet somehow has bars.
The only way you recognize the Condesce is because her horns poke out of the giant yarn ball that sits on the floor in the middle of the cave. She must be sitting on her ass too, just like you, from the height of the horns. Wow. John dumped Her Imperious Condescension on her imperial tush and then gift-wrapped her. Now that's what you call a magnificent asshole.
You try not to laugh. For about three seconds. Then someone else chokes on a badly leashed snicker -- you think Pyropecestor -- and that's it, you are gone. So is just about everyone else who happens to be awake at the time.
Shit, that's a lot of people. John and Tavros, the Pyropes, Feferi and Jane and Roxy (Roxy's laugh hrronks in a deliciously grating way) and the green chick and not!Kanaya and Jane's lusus, one hand on his mouth like he's trying to be polite about laughing his ass off at the gogdamn Condesce.
Your Ancestor is still unconscious on your lap. You float his body up, still giggling, and watch your Lifey girls stalk their way to the hairball. To the side, walking up in Breath colors, there's John, yeah, big surprise, and... wow, that wasn't Tavros, that was Redhaired Muscleman Tavros, fists on his hips and cocky as fuck, who glances your way with an eyebrow arched and then gives you a cinema-bright little grin. You guess he's the asshole who asphyxiated your ancestor. Well, not like anything else would have worked but fuck, getting the air sucked out from your lungs is really kind of scary. You suddenly feel the need to check the other Gemini for signs of life.
Pat, pat, where's his neck, it's hard to find it when you can't tear your eyes away from the scene to look down -- oh, there it is. Pulse. Breath. Whew.
Not that the guy doesn't creep you the fuck out even when he's not doing his brainwashed helmsman thing. It's just... you're not sure, you always thought it would be awesome to have two of you, you fucking loved it the first time you went to visit your Prospit dream self while in the Derse one, but compared to that he's creepy. He's... not you. He's just not, nope, not even a little.
He can't be you. Not allowed.
Huh. Roxy's beside you. "What?"
... Hrrgh. "Pff. I barely got scratched, what about you?"
"Blah, I couldn't do jack, stupid hair tendrils, I could have slipped right through if I'd had the time -- but anyway, uh. You should put your clonedude down, you look all drained!"
And then she tries to wipe your bleeding nose with her sleeve.
This is the worst not-officially-a-date ever in the history of ever.
"Also I totes won."
Pause. You freeze long enough to allow her to pat at your face, and your lip curls up in irritated challenge. "You what."
"You gave up first! Yep, that's a forfeit, I won." She grins up at you, unveiling sharp little tusks you clearly remember she never used to have. Your bloodpusher speeds up a little.
"Whoops, Janey's dad doesn't look like he feels super well, I'mma check on him, dun want Jane distracted now, B-R-B Captor!"
She races off without looking back. You sigh and simmer down. You're now alone with your ancestor. You don't feel like joining the friendleader convention out there, if there's one thing that bores you to tears it's meetings.
Rose's still asleep, though, and Karkat's still missing, so the only friendleaders present at the moment are John, Jane, and Fef, but hers is more of an on-and-off thing and you know Karkat will blow a gasket if he wasn't warned at all. You lift up your ancestor again and carry him to a corner against the wall where no one will accidentally step on him, and then you painstakingly decaptchalogue your grubtop. It deigns to start, awesome.
One thing you do not get, and plan to investigate in detail later. There's no internet. There's no wifi, no satellites, no nothing. You're buried under a dozen feet of rock.
Your Trollian icon is lit up anyway.
You're not about to look a gift hoofbeast in the mouth. (Nor anywhere else to be honest.)
Sitting down, you shuffle around so you can keep an eye on proceedings over your grubtop, and you click.
-- twinArmageddons [TA] began trolling carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
TA: 2up kk, what'2 up out there wiith the flower2 and wiildebee2t2, bet you're haviing ton2 of fun
TA: how'2 jd? btw. no rea2on
CG: HOW THE FUCK
CG: NO, YOU KNOW WHAT, I DON'T EVEN CARE HOW THIS THING EVEN WORKS RIGHT NOW. THAT IT DOES IS THE FIRST PIECE OF GOOD NEWS SINCE, OH, A COUPLE HOURS AGO, WHEN I WALKED OUT INTO SHADELESS HIGH NOON.
TA: ... 2hiit kk
TA: how badly diid you manage two hurt your2elf?
CG: DON'T YOU FRET YOUR LITTLE WIBBLESACS, CAPTOR. THE HUMANS DID US A GOOD TURN!
CG: THIS SUN TAKES AFTER THEIR OLD WEAK PIECE OF SHIT. WE MIGHT NEED TO LEARN TO EMBRACE THE DOUCHEBAG LOOK AND ASK SOME UNNAMED ASSHOLES TO SHARE THEIR INNUMERABLE BACKUP SHADES, BUT THAT'S ABOUT IT.
CG: AND NOT A CHOLERBEAR TO BE SEEN.
TA: 2ure 2ound2 liike what'2 happeniing out2iide ii2 more iinterestiing than what'2 happeniing here.
TA: liike. oh
TA: the conde2ce dukiing iit out wiith ff and the blue giirl human.
CG: HOW MANY DEAD
CG: RUNING BACK NOW HOLY SHIT WHYD HARLEY HAVETO BE GONE JUST WHEN I NEED HER TO
CG: ARE YOU GUYSSAFE FUCJ FUCK WHY ARE YOU IMING ME NOW YOU BAG OF RADIOACTIVE DOUCHýmnki%K
CG: TRIPPED. SHUT UP AND HIDE!
TA: calm your heaviing ab2ence of tiit2, 2hiit'2 handled
CG: MY NONEXISTENT AND UNLAMENTED FATTY SACKS ARE PERFECTLY SERENE, THANK YOU. NOW EXPLAIN YOURSELF BEFORE SOMETHING THAT IS NOT HERE SOMEHOW YET MANAGES TO EXPLODE IN A GRUESOME SHOWER OF MUTANT BITS.
TA: boyjn and tv'2 ance2tor went all tornado-2tyle on queen murderpretty, bet even you 2ourpu22 wiill crack a 2miile when you 2ee. that wa2 after ff and her liifey friiend managed two bulgeblock her liike they were attemptiing murder viia empty paiil, miind.
CG: ... WHAT.
TA: bulgeblock twofold. only iin2tead of genetiic materiial iit was liifey 2tuff.
TA: iit wa2 glubdamned gorgeou2. ii thiink ii'm iin love. waiit, ii already wa2. oh cod yeah, liife'2 good when you're quadranted wiith 2uch a fiierce wiitch. 8)
TA: 2hiit ii miight need two grab giirljn two, maybe for a2h, 2he'2 2o cool headed and then bam 2udden bada22, 2he'd make 2omeone an awe2ome miiddle leaf. mmm yeah.
TA: kk? 2tiill here?
CG: I AM TORN BETWEEN ASKING YOU TO EXPLAIN THE EMPTY PAIL METAPHOR AS IT RELATES TO ACTUAL EVENTS THAT DID ACTUALLY HAPPEN IN ACTUAL REALITY AND DRIVING A SICKLE THROUGH MY AUDITION GAPS.
TA: 2top frontiing, kk, you love heariing about my paiil2, iit'2 the clo2e2t you're gettiing two a paiil of your own.
TA: so many paiil2
TA: all of the paiil2
CG: CAPTOR. I KNOW YOU HAVE TWO HANDS AND TWO CONCUPISCENT QUADRANTS AND THE COINCIDENCE IS SO MAGICAL WE MIGHT ALL JIZZ GLITTER AND UNSHARP STAINED GLASS IN PUREST JOY BUT YOU STILL CANNOT FILL A PAIL WITH EITHER OF THEM. FOR ONE THING FEFERI MIGHT JUST LOP OFF THE OFFENDING FLUSHED HAND AT THE WRIST IF SHE CATCHES YOU WHISPERING TENDER VERMILION ENDEARMENTS TO IT.
TA: diid ii mentiion rx ii2 a total miinx and al2o 2he can actually code at 2omethiing approachiing my level?
CG: I GUESS AT THIS POINT IT MIGHT GUSH ENOUGH TO FILL ANY RECEPTACLE OF YOUR CHOICE DECENTLY FAST, THOUGH. ON SECOND THOUGHT, DON'T LET ME TALK YOU OUT OF THAT GREAT LOVE AFFAIR.
CG: WAIT, ROXY? THE CRAZIER ROSE CLONE? SINCE WHEN ARE YOU QUADRANTED?
TA: okay ii gue22 we're 2tiil ju2t iin the fliirtiing 2tage.
TA: but 2he love2 two wreck my 2hiit, iit'2 liike holy nubfondliing bulge2ac woman we're iin publiic, don't bwahaha 2o loud.
CG: SO IN OTHER WORDS YOU ARE PINING LIKE A TOOL AND SHE HASN'T EVEN NOTICED YET.
CG: I AM *SO* JEALOUS.
CG: MOSTLY OF THAT DISEASED FAPMACHINE YOU CALL AN IMAGINATION GLAND.
TA: 2ay2 the guy who never went any clo2er to a paiil than acce22ory catalogue2.
TA: waiit, ii gue22 boyjn diid bounce one off your bone2tub that one tiime
TA: 2orry two have two be the one two tell you that but you're actually 2tiill a viirgiin.
CG: OH WOW, WHAT'S THIS RUSHING NOISE? IT'S THE SOUND OF ALL THE FUCKS I DON'T GIVE MIGRATING TO THE NORTH. THEY ARE BLOTTING OUT THE SKY.
CG: CONDESCE. AWAKE. TELL ME HOW HANDLED THAT SHIT IS AGAIN.
CG: IN ACTUAL DETAIL THIS TIME.
-- cardinalGallivant [CG] has transmuted this dialogue into a memo! --
-- cardinalGallivant [CG] has joined the memo! --
TA: HOW THE ACTUAL FUCK
CG: MY APOLOGIES for the interruption, I Felt that things might go faster if I could Posit some Queries of my own, without bothering the esteemed Sir Vantas for Unceasing Narration.
TA: how diid you even do what you ju2t diid
TA: al2o who the glub2lurpiing nook2tuff hoofbea2tfuck are you even?
CG: THERE, THERE, CAPTOR, YOU WOULDN'T HAPPEN TO ALREADY BE CONSIDERING CHEATING ON THE DESTINED BLACKMATE OF YOUR HEART, WOULD YOU.
CG: TSSK. SHAMELESS. I KNOW MY DEAREST ANCESTOR IS OH SO DELIGHTFULLY LOATHABLE BUT. QUESTIONS. WE HAVE THEM.
CG: MY DEEPEST THANKS for the tireless silver'd vigil you are holding on my behalf, Brother. I am Gratified by your Obvious Care.
CG: DO NOT MAKE ME TRIP YOU DOWN THE CLIFF, CONTRARY TO CAPTOR YOU ARE ACTUALLY IN RANGE.
CG: THAT would, I concede, be somewhat Inconvenient.
CG: BUT LET US CONTINUE THIS SPIRITED DEBATE at a Later date. What has become of Meenah and our other Companions?
TA: who even ii2 meenah
TA: who am ii
TA: what ii2 liife even
CG: MEENAH Peixes.
TA: dot dot chutefuckiing dot.
CG: *WHAT* OTHER COMPANIONS. IN WHICH WORLD IS *HER IMPERIOUS CONDESCENSCION* PART OF A GROUP OF PEOPLE WE MIGHT CALL COMPANIONS.
CG: THIS ONE.
CG: SHE IS, WAS, AND WILL BE PART OF US AGAIN.
TA: congrat2 kk, your ance2tor ii2 crazycake2 goathappy.
CG: I MIGHT be. I might Not. That does not affect my Words in the Slightest. What has become of Them?
TA: oh, nothiing. 2he ju2t miindfucked my ance2tor iintwo bla2tiing at u2 wiith p2iioniic2 and ii don't thiink 2omehow he diid iit of hii2 own fuckiing wiill
TA: ii mean, not liike becomiing 2hiip batteriie2. he tote2 cho2e that. amaziing career two. yep.
TA: kk are you 2ure ii can't to22 hiim iintwo a couple wall2 ju2t a liittle biit. ii promii2e ii'll keep iit entiirely broplatoniic.
CG: REQUEST DENIED. NOW *CONCENTRATE*. SITUATION?
TA: handled, ii told you not two fliip your 2hiit already diidn't ii? iit'2 fiine, biigger tv and boyjn have iit under control. wor2t wound2 are the headache ii got tryiing two block my ance2tor and tzx2's no2ebleed2, otherwii2e everyone'2 exhau2ted on account of the thiief of liife doiing what 2he doe2 be2t. atm they
CG: SIR Captor?
TA: uh oh, biigger tv ii2 yelliing at ff and boyjn. 2tuff about takiing care of the threat once and for all. ii don't thiink he'2 gonna lii2ten much longer.
TA: welp, gue22 that'2 iit for your propheciie2, red text kk, he look2 pretty determiined.
TA: what, kk, don't tell me you care iif 2omeone el2e get2 the problem off our hand2.
CG: ACTUALLY, YES I DO. I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST GETTING RID OF A THREAT IF NECESSARY, AND IF IT GETS NECESSARY FOR ANYONE IT'LL BE FOR HER, BUT WE WILL NOT HAVE ASSHOLES DECIDING THINGS FOR THE GROUP WITHOUT CONSULTING IT.
CG: AND JOHN AND ROSE ARE THE LEADERS ON SITE AND HE WILL NOT GO OVER THEIR HEADS, I DON'T CARE THAT HE STRUTS LIKE HIS SHAMEGLOBES MATCH HIS HORNS.
CG: SUPPORT THEM.
TA: gogdamniit kk, ii know you won't care that my thiinkpan ii2 about two crack down the miiddle, but ii've got my ance2tor faiinted on my lap liike he thiink2 he'2 you, age 2iix, ii am not fuckiing leaviing mhnl;irnýkn
TA: Do+ No+t Fear, Kheper, I Am Keeping Watch O+ver ♊. I Have Sent His Descendant O+ver To+ Help, As Well As Ho+lding A Subtle Warp O+f The Distance Between The Summo+ner And His Target.
CG: THANK you, Mother.
TA: He Might Ho+wever Cro+ss It Quickly Sho+uld He So Cho+o+se. How Far Away Are Yo+u?
CG: ALMOST there. I see the clearing the Cave opens upon.
CG: ♋ING OFF NOW.
-- cardinalGallivant [CG] has left the memo! --
CG: HOW THE FUCK DO YOU ASSHOLES EVEN CODE OUT THOSE SIGNS WITH ANYTHING APPROACHING DUE SPEED.
CG: REACHING THE TUNNEL. TRY NOT TO DIE IN THE NEXT MINUTE. IT'D BE REALLY EMBARRASSING.
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] has leftstopped memotrolling twinArmageddons [TA] ! --
Okay, so, here you are, standing in the cave and watching someone else type away on your machine. You give not-KN an incredulous, offended look; she spears you with a "Yes, What" face that scares about two sweeps off your lifespan. You decide that if anyone comes at your ancestor with ill intent her glare alone will probably have them shitting out their organs in a hot second. Time to do your enforcer shtick.
You have the ancestor from which all headaches come forth nestled comfortably in your thinkpan. No matter. You elbow your way through.
They've unwrapped the Condesce down to her shoulders, so her face and her neck are visible, hair pulled back, easy to target, though a few stray locks still tickle her face here and there. You absently think it's fair enough, and if she sneezes it might be funny to watch everyone freak out. Boy and Girl JN are both in Summoner's face, hands on their hips in funnily similar ways. FF watches them for another second, before she turns to their prisoner.
"No, let him at me, ain't like he could harpoon me any otter time, you guppies can't deprive him of his once in a lifetime chance," the Condesce is drawling. Feferi sighs at her, and you blink; you're not used to that mature, patient look on her face, she's too bubbly, too busy enjoying her youth with all the strength she has.
"Meenah, seariously. Don't you think this little game has gone on far enough."
The hagfish bares her fangs. "Don't you glubbing dare call me by that name."
"Why not?" Feferi replies, and now she's all gentle, and it's strange how she crouches, back straight, chin... regal, you want to say. Yes. Regal is the one word that fits. "I saw you hatched, you know. I held your molt cocoon in my hands and I thought finally there would be another one like me."
People are going silent gradually, staring at Feferi. The Condesce stares, too, harsh and disbelieving, but there's a narrow-eyed edge in there that calculates, that won't stop calculating. It's probably a testament to how Feferi unsettled her that it's even showing.
"I thought, here she is, my heiress, and I was so happy I lived long enough to meet you."
... This... is not Feferi, it's not her -- but in some soul-deep way it is.
You saw her once from afar, your Empress in all but name, going back home after a night of arduous coding, and there was some noisy, bothersome festival you skirted the edges off, and she was sitting patient and gracious in a cloud of flowing hair, riding on a... on a...
... shit. Shit, wow.
Her Mentorly Benevolence, you think vaguely, and squeeze your eyes closed as your pan resonates like a war drum.
"The Game is over. We all did marvelous things and horrible things, it's done, it's gone, the tide took it away. There's no rayson we can't get along starting now."
"To the Abyss with you," the Condesce hisses back. "I do naut know who you think you are, and neither do I give a flip! How dare you look down on me."
Feferi lets out a sad, perfectly poised sigh.
"I will not stop trying," she promises, quiet and intense, and that's when Tavros' ancestor hefts a lance in his hand, and that's when two Vantases storm into the cave at a stompy run and the bigger one equips a hugeass farming scythe and uses it to hook the guy's ankle.
"Ruufio, I would be most honored if you could keep your glutes on the floor."
He spears him with a shockingly crimson glare. Redheaded Muscleman Tavros gapes dumbly, mouth moving in silence. You snicker, and immediately regret it when your pan reminds you it's only waiting for an excuse to fall right off.
Karkat stares at his ancestor with the funniest startled look ever for a second before shaking himself out of it and going back to the Condesce. He eyes her up and down and doesn't even crack a smile, damn, and then he turns to the rest of the cave. "Alright! Everyone shut up, take one step back, and keep shutting up! We're going to get this shit settled properly, i.e. not with a rousing bout of fisticuffs on account of that's stupid and also there's a shit-ton God Tiers in this party, do we want to raze this island to the ground? No? Okay, good, keep shutting up. First order of business, someone try to wake up Rose. Second--"
"Maybe we should let the old troll guys join in too," John pipes up.
Karkat glowers, because the only ones awake right now are that guy Summoner, Terezi's ancestor, the Condesce, Kanayacestor but she's busy and not budging, and his own ancestor. He especially doesn't look happy about his own ancestor. "... Fff. You said you were a Seer, right? Okay, you might be useful, I guess. Guys, this is Signless, he's a sanctimonious perverted asshole, you'll like him much to my eternal shame."
You'd love to hear about where the perverted part comes from. Anyway from here on it's all planning and other stuff that requires using your sponge, but yours is still sloping around your pan in a liquid, electrified state that buzzes with every movement you make, so you just step back and wait to see if anyone's going to need a half-fried enforcer. The Condesce isn't fighting anymore, at any rate, content to snob them all like she's sitting cocooned in her own hair by her own damn choice.
Bluh bluh they might be willing to change if, but should we let them have a chance do they even deserve a chance, but should we even decide without Rose to check whether one solution will have horrible consequences. It goes around with the exact same arguments about six times before they decide to postpone deciding. You're staring longingly at the ground and wondering if a quick little nap on gravel and dust would fix your headache, because their babbling sure isn't.
"Okay, great, we're postponing, now what do we do in the meantime. Because, surprise, they're still around, her hair will untangle at some point and Ampora and Makara and Serket Major won't stay KOed forever either, and then what? Hell, even Serket minor, Eridan at least understands self enlightened interest and Gamzee is handled but Vriska is such a contrary--"
"I've got the best idea," John interrupts, and throws his arm around Karkat's shoulders for a quick side-hug and a bout of hair-ruffling that leaves him spluttering. He races off to some corner of the cave where Spiderbitch is asleep and starts shaking her.
"Your best idea is to wake her up early?!" several people screech. You're cool, though, it's fine, Rose didn't wake up so you doubt Vriska will before her own time either.
Vriska kicks John in the chest and sits up, snarling. "What the heck -- oh, John. Don't startle me like that, geeze, do you want me to cull you out of hand before I'm even awake! It'd be your own dumb fault if that happened!"
You start looking around for a convenient stalagmite to knock yourself unconscious against.
Soon enough John's racing back, dragging her by the hand. She does her best to look cool and unconcerned, though her eyes cross a little when she recognizes the Condesce.
"Now, Vriska, we need you to save the day!" He points to the seadweller with her ass on the floor with a flourish. "See, we're not deciding yet what to do with her, but we can't let her mess it up for us either! So we need you to steal her luck."
"All her luck?" Vriska replies with a slow, delighted smirk.
"No!" chorus a half dozen people, you included. You raise your hand. "Can I say with full certainty that if you doom her to be the most unlucky bitch this side of Space, so long as she's close enough to keep an eye on she's going to drag us down with her, and not letting her stay close enough to keep an eye on is just plain retarded. Just saying."
"Hm. Makes sense," Jane says, and eyes them all critically. "Maybe just enough to generally foil her plans?"
"Also make her conveniently trip while fighting," John adds with a snicker, the asshole. "That'd be cool. So cool. The coolest."
Vriska preens. They grin at each other. You wonder if you're the only one feeling terrified right now.
As Vriska does her thing, Feferi turns away and comes to you. She looks tired, now, relieved. Not otherworldly anymore, not with that sense of mountain-old age.
She leans into you and rests her forehead against your shoulder, tall as she is getting; soon she'll have to bend at the knee to reach that far down. You wrap your arms around her, press your cheek to her cool fin. It feels nice against your aching pan.
You're not too surprised when faint blue haloes you. You hold on a little tighter in thanks.
"Saury I yelled at you to jump in, you know, when your ancestor mantacked."
"Eh. Who else were you going to call on to handle the psionic, silly."
"I just didn't want to be like her, ordering you around..."
She shudders. You hug her a little tighter. "Wanna go and see him, see if you can help?"
You go. Not!Kanaya side-eyes your FF when she comes up in a way that makes you wonder if they're quadranted. Perhaps moirails? It's a look that seems to say a lot about how many pieces FF will end up in if she makes a wrong move.
"Hi. My name's Feferi. Can I take a look at him, see if I can help? I'm not the best healer, but maybe I can do something."
The adult narrows her eyes some more, and then gives a small decisive nod. "You may try."
Feferi kneels beside your ancestor's body. You get down with her, landing on your ass in an uncoordinated, tired flop. Whoops. Whatever.
"I am the Dolorosa. I take it you have not yet taken a use-name of your own?"
She looks at you, includes you in the question, so you answer it so Feferi doesn't have to be distracted from her hand on your ancestor's forehead. "Nope, none of us. Kinda too busy, and not old enough besides. Uh, my name's Sollux. By the way."
She smiles, jade-painted lips stretching in amusement. You arch an eyebrow. "I am not giving you leave to use it in his stead, you understand... but his hatch-name is Xullos. I think he might just find it perfect."
You can't help chuckling. Yeah, it kind of is.
Her smile fades as she looks over your shoulder. You should put a stop to your habit of sitting with your back to the room, you guess, especially when your psionics are so battered. Meh. You crane your neck to check on things.
Vriska is luck-draining Gigantor-Gamzee. Even-Assholier-Eridan looks to have been done already. Jane is finishing untangling the Condesce's hair, all careful with a brush in hand. The Condesce gets up with a frustrated snarl, stares the lot of them down, hands fisted, pointedly ignoring the ex-human at her back.
Karkat's ancestor steps up to face her, hands hanging empty, scythe captchalogued away, and beside you the Dolorosa goes tense all over, inhales sharply.
"What do you want, you freak-blooded nuisance, are you here to glubbing whine on about what a sorry spectacle you made, screaming fit to burst ears a mile around? About how no one cared?"
"I'm here to forgive you," he says, and there's no other word for it than serene. You cannot figure out how this man is in any way related to Karkat Vantas, ragedouche snarler extraordinaire.
And then he clocks her in the chin with a surprise left hook that just about no one saw coming. Bam, imperial ass on the floor once again.
"But do not ever. Ever. Raise a hand to Psii again."
Okay, you can figure out how now.
Jane's hand is on the Condesce's shoulder and she isn't getting skewered for the offense of holding Her Murderousness back, so you dare to breathe out as Vantas Two marches away and straight toward the lot of you. Smaller Vantas trails after him, still throwing baffled looks at his back and then back at the Tyrian on the floor over there.
A faint chuckle has you twitching around to your ancestor. He's still sprawled on the Dolorosa's lap, only his eyes are cracked open. He's smiling, a wan sickly thing that makes your bloodpusher flop weird there for a second.
Feferi shuffles to the side and Vantas goes to his knees between the two of you, takes his hand. He flicks a smile of his own at the Dolorosa, who is now radiating contentment and pride, and then looks back down at your ancestor.
You're not really surprised when he bends down to lay a pale kiss on his forehead, even though the Dolorosa's behavior... hm. Karkat gags in the background; you try to tune him out. You kind of really want to hunt down Aradia and reassure her that you're still hers through and through and the only thing you might ever be with Karkat is ashen, and then again probably not for long.
You're really fucking surprised when your ancestor tilts his familiarly pointy chin up, and olderKat chuckles and obediently kisses him right on the mouth holy shit is that tongue.
Fuck your life.
You are never looking at Karkat in the face again. Just saying.
Why is Feferi giggling.
"So when you were saying he was a pervert," you start.
Your ancestor chuckles again, all quiet and strained-rough. "He meant that if I could bite back right now there'd be more fucking teeth."
Those are totally the first words you wanted to exchange with your ancestor. Yep.
Feferi is giggling. "You guys shore are cute! But, Sollux, if you flip on me I'll bite your fins off, 'kay?"
"Dude, AA would bite me first. You'd be the cutest pair of cannibals."
Karkat makes a gagging noise. "Don't you fucking start being cutesy, I've had it with quadrant shenanigans for at least the next week, okay? Captor -- not you, the smaller one -- I'm mounting an expedition outside to check the island from above, you're coming with."
"Damn it, KK--"
"Nope, not taking any complaints, the complaint box is closed, get your flat glutes off the floor and march. Okay, who else."
"But I'm tired!" you protest, to deaf ears. Karkat doesn't even turn back.
"Hey, Lalonde! You're not doing jack shit in here and we might need you around in case discretion becomes the better part of valor or what the fuck ever. I'm volunteering you for an expedition."
"Okay, sure!" she yells back, after a quick check-in with her green skull chick.
Karkat arches a pointed eyebrow at you. "You were saying?"
"... Nothing. Asshole."
"But we wouldn't want to strain you."
You drag yourself up on your feet somehow. "Oh, fuck you right in the auricular spongeclots, KK, fuck you in one and out the other."
The ancestors are snickering. You ignore them, dusting yourself off.
"Okay, who else. We need to leave people here to take care of the lazy assholes, and also the murderous ones, I guess..."
John is bouncing toward you, Vriska in tow. Why are they bouncing toward you. Why. No. Stop.
"We're coming with you!"
Dear horrorterrors no.
"Oh fuck you, no you're not," Karkat growls back. "I'm vetoing you."
"Haha, you wouldn't bar us from an adventure. We're totally coming and I'm vetoing your veto, so there."
Karkat catches John by the closest, curliest horn and shakes him. John lets him drag him around, laughing, little sky-blue wings fluttering on his back.
"I kind of thought I was hallucinating them on girl JN," you muse, giving them a tug. Euuuugh, those are feathers. Creepnasty shit. You guess it's a good thing they're not white on top of it.
"Ow, ow, don't pull. Yeah, I don't know, I went to use the Breath and they just happened." He flaps them; they're not very long, the longest pinions would come to maybe his elbows if he stretched, they're not going to support his weight in flight.
Then again, neither would your own Mother Grub wings. It's a glorious piece of mathematical impossibility and stupid game symbolism.
"If you had to gain wings in your God Tier form then why couldn't you have normal wings," Karkat is complaining. "Your horns are normal. Ish. I suppose. Why did you have to be freaky."
"I did it juuust for you, Karkat," John sing-songs. Roxy pops in and grins, eyebrows wagging.
"Oho! Romance in the air?"
"No!" the two friendleaders say in offended stereo. You snicker.
"They're just being stupid about John having demon wings," Vriska explains flippantly.
"Angel wings," John corrects, puzzled.
"Yeah, that's what I said?" Vriska replies, even more puzzled. You didn't know there was a difference either. Humans are weird.
"Actually, not even angel, I think they're just bird wings. Show us yours, Rox?"
She's still in God Tier clothes, but she concentrates and for a second she blurs. You force yourself to keep your concentration up and not get sidetracked watching random shit at the other end of the cave. And then they flare out.
"This is all kinds of Mary-Sue," she muses, for the delighted understanding of exactly no one.
Her wings are wide, and might well stretch halfway down to her knees if she could bend them that way. It's kind of freaky how they bend, actually. Like a second pair of arms under the feathers.
"... But anyway," Karkat eventually says, and tears his eyes away from the things. "Anyone else? I'll message Jade and Disciple to join up when we get outside, but should we get some more adults?"
His voice is a little hesitant, like it's weird to be deciding shit for everyone when there's adults around. Then again they're not a team, haven't been for a whole life, and you are.
"I'll come," Dolorosa says, and extricates herself cautiously from under your ancestor, transferring him to Karkat's ancestor's lap. The both of you tear your eyes away with all due embarrassment.
"Alright!" John exclaims. "Let's get this rumpus party on the road then, guys."
Terezi's ancestor joins your little group as you reach the tunnel, introduces herself as Redglare, Rogue of Mind, and attaches herself to a spluttering Karkat. Pff. John and Vriska are going ahead. Roxy follows Dolorosa.
You flipped back to your normal clothes some time ago; you concentrate for a second, pulling Doom to yourself like a cloak. Your wings have already stopped being bruised from when you were rolling around on them, cool. You flap them a little to check. They're fine.
They're also bigger than Roxy's bright pink monstrosities. Incidentally.
When you walk out into red, harmless sunset light you make sure to flap them in her face a lot.
She sputters. Victory is yours.
Now, if only the plants and nature and shit could be... not, you'd be all set.