Retcon Heir

There are few things worse than a loved one gone missing. At least one of those is not knowing if there was anyone to miss in the first place.

This is a tale of tales. Of gods, memories, mythtellers, a Muse, an Author, and the friend She seeks in the world She helped knit into Being.

http://archiveofourown.org/works/974474?view_full_work=true

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2. Chapter 1

John Egbert has gone missing.

 

 

 

Of all the different locales the Veil has to offer, you find the Land of Crypts and Helium the one calling you the most when you want to think. You have your biases for LOLAR, of course, but sometimes the candy-coated brightness and unabashed saturation of it all is simply too distracting. Here, the familiar sound of rain trickling paired with the delicately flowering landscape is peaceful...nostalgic even. It almost reminds you of...

Well.

Unfortunately, the quiet serenity of the recently-revived world is not enough to stop the wheel in your head that refuses to cease its anxious spinning. Not even the brilliant fuchsias and golds and crimsons standing stubbornly loud against the endless gray sky, just one more little reminder that the Game is over (you are safe) (you have won)-- it just can’t make you smile like you used to.

Your headband pings.

GG: hey

GG: find anything?

TT: I’m afraid not.

GG: SIGN 8^Y?

TT: Very SIGN 8^Y.

GG: heh

GG: where are you?

TT: Right where you dropped me off.

You barely finish hitting send before you feel the hair on your arms stand up. The smell of uranium swells around you, and suddenly Jade and Dave stand among the blooms just below the balloon on which you sit.

You rise from your balloon and float down to meet them. Jade is carrying an armful of littlefied planets. Dave is clutching his iPhone, his posture a painstakingly contrived approximation of relaxed, but his knuckles are bone-white where his fingers are wrapped around the phone. You glance at his screen and see only a wall of red text. Your stomach knots.

JADE: weve tried every land

JADE: right down to asking all the denizens, and...

JADE: well... TRYING to talk to the consorts

Her voice is unsteady and her eyes are shining, but she hurriedly blinks it away.

JADE: dave and karkat and terezi and the mayor searched the old laboratory too

JADE: kanaya and miss mail lady and i investigated whats left of prospit and then kanaya joined the trolls to look at the rest of the meteor just in case

JADE: then miss mail lady joined the mayor to look around the rest of the asteroids in the veil

JADE: dirk and roxy are searching whats left of derse, jane and jake are on skaia, and...

JADE: and eventually we even asked aradia and sollux if theyd seen john! and they said they hadnt

JADE: but they were very nice and offered to ask the ghosts if they know anything

JADE: well

JADE: aradia was nice anyway

JADE: but we havent heard anything from them since then

JADE: and the STUPID JERK isnt even answering any of our messages, either!!

JADE: rose, im so sorry, i dont...

She takes a shaky breath.

JADE: i dont know what else to try

Your mouth opens, but it's hard to form words at the moment. As if from a distance, it comes to you that you should probably say something reassuring.

ROSE: You're doing everything you can.

ROSE: I'm...

Fuck, what do people even say in these situations?

ROSE: I'm sure it's through no fault of your own that you haven't yet succeeded in finding him.

JADE: BUT I SHOULD HAVE!!!

She snaps the words at you, her ears flaring and canines flashing. Then she pauses, and her ears flag and wilt.

JADE: sorry :(

JADE: i know

JADE: i just feel a little more responsible because johns MY dumb baby bro and everything???

JADE: i spent all that time on the ship kind of making sure he wasnt getting into trouble, pluuuuus im the witch of space and such

JADE: so...

JADE: between those things i just feel as if this shouldnt be so hard ._.

ROSE: It's not a matter of shoulds or shouldn'ts.

In your mind's eye, you flip through prior conversations with John, like riffling so many pages - did he recently mention a certain place? Did his behavior seem strange? Did he seem to believe he was in danger? No. No, he seemed normal. He seemed fine. You realize you need to remind yourself to breathe.

Jade looks down, and nods.

JADE: yeah

JADE: maybe hes just being a lazy asshole and taking another big long nap in some weird place >_>

Dave glances at Jade sideways, then awkwardly puts his free hand on her arm. She snorts, and you think you see her begin to smile. Suddenly, she snaps to attention, her ears pricked and swiveling. She spins around and looks up at the sky.

At that moment, Dave's phone comes alive with the sounds of "Bad Romance". He glances down. The low staccato drumming of Terezi's long, narrow wings begins to fill the air.

DAVE: karkat and everyone are here

DAVE: pop the champagne and roll out the red carpet

Kanaya is the first to light on the ground, folding her large pale green wings behind her and smoothing her shimmering black skirt. Terezi stills her own light blue wings and hits the ground just behind Kanaya with her own little pap, stirring up a small maelstrom of petals.

KANAYA: Hello Again

JADE: hi kanaya and terezi!

Jade quickly captchalogues the planets, runs over, and throws her arms around Kanaya's shoulders. Dave ambles over and extends a fist to Terezi.

DAVE: hey tz

DAVE: hows it hangin

DAVE: still morally dubious and borderline psychotic

TEREZI: YOU KNOW 1T

DAVE: wouldnt have it any other way

TEREZI: W3 ONLY JUST S4W 34CH OTH3R TWO HOURS 4GO >:P

DAVE: hey now thats actually two hours fourteen minutes and twelve seconds on the dot

DAVE: if times money thats mad staxx thatd make scrooge mcduck say fuck it and pack up his swim gear

DAVE: which he apparently still needs despite in fact being a goddamn duck

DAVE: idk i never actually read those comics

TEREZI: WH4TS 4 DUCK

DAVE: ill tell you when youre older

DAVE: more importantly havent you kept me hanging long enough

TEREZI: WHOOPS

TEREZI: MY B4D

Terezi merrily accepts the fist bunp and follows it up with a bro-splosion, as per their standard protocol. Once the bro-splosion has subsided, your fellow Seer cranes her neck and addresses the group.

TEREZI: 4H3M!

TEREZI: TH3 INV3ST1G4T1ONS R3SULTS H4V3 PROV3N 1NCONCLUS1V3 4S Y3T

She sets her thin black lips into a firm line and crosses her bony arms, in her best impression of a serious demeanor.

TEREZI: MOR3OV3R

TEREZI: 1N SP1T3 OF TH31R R3S1D3NT L3G1SL4C3R4TORS 3XC3PT1ON4L COMP3T3NC3 4ND 1NT3LL3CT 4S SH4RP 4S 4 S3T4 S3V3R4NC3 PR1SM

TEREZI: TH3 1NV3ST1G4T1ON H4S RUN 1NTO S3V3R4L ST4LLS ON 4CCOUNT OF SOM3 W31RD DUMB4SS WHO SH4LL R3M41N 4NONYMOUS 1NS1ST1NG UPON W34R1NG H1S R1D1CULOUS B1G SHOT C4P3 WH1L3 H3S FLY1NG >X|

KARKAT: MY KNIGHT CAPE IS INCREDIBLE AND SPEAKS OF MY UNERRINGLY CHARISMATIC AND PERSPICACIOUS CONDUCT IN ALL CONCEIVABLE SITUATIONS.

KARKAT: AND I CAN FLY WITH IT JUST FINE, THANK YOU NOT AT ALL KINDLY!

The hoarse shout from above promptly gives away to a brief stream of unintelligible growling and cursing. Terezi and Jade snicker. Kanaya steps lightly out of the way as Karkat makes an ungraceful landing alongside her, the end of his cape yanked over his shoulder and balled in one fist to make way for his beetle-like speckled amber wings.

KARKAT: ANYWAY

TEREZI: (h3h3h3h3h3h3)

JADE: (hehehehehehe)

KARKAT: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SHUT UP, I’M TRYING TO DELIVER IMPORTANT INTEL HERE.

TEREZI: PFF

TEREZI: F1N3

JADE: sorry XP

JADE: woof

KARKAT: AS I WAS SAYING

KARKAT: THERE’S NO NEWS YET FROM ANYONE ON OUR END EITHER.

KARKAT: AT LEAST NOT ANYTHING THAT SUGGESTS THEY MIGHT HAVE FOUND ANY SIGN OF JOHN.

KARKAT: OR WHATEVER MORONIC SITUATION HE'S OBVIOUSLY GOTTEN HIMSELF INTO.

KARKAT: ANYBODY WITH EVEN THE FEEBLEST EXCUSE FOR AN ACQUAINTANCE WITH HIM KNOWS IT SURE AS HELL WOULDN'T BE THE FIRST TIME.

KANAYA: Well

KANAYA: In Any Case Jane Has Just Informed Me That She And Jake Have Arranged To Meet With Dirk And Roxy

KANAYA: They Likewise Intend To Rendezvous With Us Here

KANAYA: Presumably To Discuss Our Further Options In Our Quest

KANAYA: Or So I Gather

KARKAT: FURTHER OPTIONS?

KARKAT: WAIT.

Karkat turns to face the rainbow drinker.

KARKAT: LIKE WHAT?

Kanaya sighs faintly and points upward.

KANAYA: Like That Further Option

Karkat's face scrunches in confusion, but he cranes his neck skyward in unison with the others. You, too, peer up through the clouds unraveling themselves across the dull black sky-

You inhale sharply. You can't believe you didn't think of it before.

KARKAT: ...OH.

His voice is barely loud enough even to register over the showers from the helium balloons.

KARKAT: FUCK. I FORGOT.

KANAYA: I Noticed

Afterus glints ice-blue in the distant darkness high above your upturned faces. You've only seen it once, fleetingly, shortly after you won the game. It was strange and nostalgic to be there, so similar to Earth, but with broiling hot and startlingly brief days, stronger gravity, and the same eerie pearl-white creatures familiar to both the trolls and Jake. You would have stayed longer to explore, had it not been for a traumatic experience on Dave’s part, as a consequence of certain members of the new species attempting to wrest his cape from him to keep as a holy relic.

JADE: jeez even i forgot about afterus :O

JADE: i guess... because none of us really ever go there?

JADE: do we

DAVE: uh no offense mary k but you mightve mentioned it when we were already dicking around literally everywhere else in the veil

Kanaya flushes.

KANAYA: To Be Quite Honest I Only Just Thought Of It Myself

KANAYA: I Might Likewise Attribute My Lapse In Memory To The Infrequent Nature Of Our Visits There

You try to clear your mind and think. Afterus. Would John really have ventured to Afterus? If so - why? If anything, he would be the one among all of you who is least interested in the notion of being regarded as a god, as factually correct as such a designation technically is in all of your cases. What purpose could going there possibly serve? Curiosity? Boredom? Something only he knows is there?

Kanaya is looking at you curiously. You resist the urge to blush, yourself - but there's no sense in keeping your questions private. Not now.

ROSE: Has anyone here talked to John within...

ROSE: The past week, let us say?

DAVE: uh

DAVE: p sure i talked to him like two days ago?

ROSE: Do you remember him saying anything at all about Afterus? Or anything that could even be interpreted as the desire to go there for any reason?

DAVE: hmmm

DAVE: i dont think so

DAVE: i doubt its the kind of thing that comes up in casual conversation with him in general tbh

DAVE: and even then when it comes to personal shit you know how he likes to come over all cagey and jokey and make it out like he isnt dead serious

DAVE: but yeah anyway i can check

KARKAT: I FINALLY GOT HIM TO WATCH BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY FOUR DAYS AGO.

KARKAT: TOOK HIM LONG ENOUGH, IT'S A MODERN MASTERPIECE.

KARKAT: HE BITCHED ABOUT IT OVER TROLLIAN THE ENTIRE TIME.

KARKAT: SO I'LL CHECK MY LOGS TOO JUST IN CASE.

KARKAT: I JUST CAN'T PROMISE YOU'LL FIND ANY EVIDENCE OF ANYTHING BESIDES THE CONTINUED TRAGIC EXISTENCE OF HIS EXTRAORDINARILY STUNTED TASTE IN CINEMA.

JADE: wait.....

ROSE: What?

KARKAT: WHAT.

JADE: do you hear that?

Everyone pulls their eyes from Afterus and looks around. A moment later, you hear it: a low rumble gradually drowns out the gentle pattering of the water spilling from the balloons. Terezi points just behind you.

TEREZI: OV3R TH3R3!

You look back, and see a streak of fiery orange spiralling through the sky, leaving pale trails of exhaust in its wake.

DAVE: thats gotta be dirk

Surely enough, the fiery speck in the sky gradually resolves itself into the shape of your alternate universe ecto-dad, coolly maneuvering his rocket board amid the kaleidoscopic helium balloons. He's not alone: Jane's arms emerge from behind his midsection and coil around it in a death grip; behind her, Jake and Roxy are cheerfully hanging ten.

ROXY: hey!!!! :3

She's the first to dismount, and bounds over to wrap you up in a tight hug. You return it as well as you can. She holds you for a few moments longer and rocks you gently before pulling away and looking you in the eye, her grin vanishing.

ROXY: im sooo so so sooooooo sorry sweety :(

ROSE: It's okay.

ROSE: I mean,

ROSE: The situation at hand isn't.

ROSE: But I know you did your best.

ROXY: we looked EVERYWHERE

ROXY: i promise

ROXY: cross my heart hope 2 die et cetera

ROXY: except not literally cuz that sucked enough the 1st and 2nd times lbr

ROXY: anyways i rly wish we could say we even found like

ROXY: a clue or s/t

ROXY: turns out j eggs is as wily and elusive as he is silly and adorable

KANAYA: Um

KANAYA: As A Matter Of Fact

ROXY: yeah?

ROXY: hi btw!

KANAYA: Hello There Roxy

KANAYA: We Had Just Established That We Have Not In Fact Looked Everywhere

KANAYA: Despite Our Prior Assumptions To The Contrary

JAKE: Hold the phone whats that now?

DIRK: Yeah. Afterus, right?

JAKE: Oh i love that place!!!

DIRK: I know.

KANAYA: It Is Quite Lovely

KANAYA: I Do Enjoy It Myself

TEREZI: Y34H 1 DONT S33 WHY YOUR3 4LL SO 1FFY 4BOUT 1T

TEREZI: TH3 N3PH1L1M 4R3 4LL PR3TTY N1C3 >:O

JADE: yeah theyre nice if you can pass for one :|

JADE: if not then theyre following you around and trying to cut off some of your hair

ROSE: Didn't they try to take Dave's-

DAVE: i thought we swore we would never speak of that

JAKE: Its actually not so difficult to blend right in if you uncover the knack!

JAKE: On my most recent travails on its pleasingly steamy surface i was able to procure one of their cunning green skull masks and set of robes before much time had elapsed.

JAKE: And what do you know from then on nobody was the wiser with respect to my thoroughly non nephil identity!

JAKE: I mean i did have to agree to a set of terms and conditions thatd put the average t and c on some swank new app or similar to shame.

JAKE: But no harm done i think and the mask goes marvelously with the majority of my customary ensembles at least.

DIRK: ...Dude.

DIRK: You do realize only members of that cult wear those masks and robes, right?

JAKE: I dont know about THAT.

JAKE: By which i mean that i actually factually *dont* know about that unpleasant to say.

JAKE: Anyhow ive got the gear in my sylladex right now if you want to take a gander. :D

DIRK:

DIRK: That's alright.

JAKE: Suit yourself bro.

Jane finally clambers from where she'd been leaning heavily against a tree, having spent the last few minutes with her mouth pinched shut and her eyes closed.

JANE: Hello, one and all! Sorry for making you wait up for me.

JANE: ....Ughhh...

She cringes again and massages her stomach with one hand.

JANE: Dirk, I hate to say it, but I don't think I am ever going to get used to that contraption of yours.

JANE: I can't believe you not only ride it routinely, but that Roxy and Jake actually have the wherewithal to stick their toes out from its edge!

JANE: Even the thought of that makes my insides do the hula.

ROXY: awww janey

ROXY: u know dirk wouldnt actually let you fall

DIRK: I don't know about that, Rox.

DIRK: I mean, I do basically possess mastery of my preferred mode of transport transcending even the bounds of conventional conceptions of human-machine relations,

DIRK: To the point at which my board might just as well be literally regarded as a part of me.

DIRK: But who knows.

DIRK: Maybe one day I'll get reckless.

DIRK: Take a swerve around a temple or obelisk just a little too hard.

DIRK: Lose myself so thoroughly in the Zen-like serenity of the journey that it completely slips my mind I've got a passenger at all.

DIRK: You know?

JANE: Dirk! >:B

JANE: You're not helping in the slightest, I will have you know!

DIRK; There’s also the fact that you can fly.

DIRK: And are immortal, if conditionally.

ROXY: pfffffttt

JANE: Oh hush!!!

JANE: It’s easy to forget all that when you’re in a tizzy!

JAKE: If its any reassurance hes saved my clumsy caboose on more occasions that can be handily enumerated.

DIRK: You really did kind of spend more time raining panicking English all over the skeleton cities on Lomax than actually accompanying me on the board.

ROXY: rofl

JAKE: :(

ROXY: sorry j

JANE: Hoo. :B

JANE: Anyhoo! I missed a little of that conversation. Would anyone mind filling me in?

ROSE: We were just discussing the possibility that John has gone to Afterus.

JANE: To Afterus?

JANE: What on earth would he go there for?

JANE: Or what on Afterus, as it were.

TEREZI: M4YB3 TH3 N3PH1L1M K1DN4PP3D H1M FOR S1N1ST3R PURPOS3S ONLY COMPR3H3NS1BL3 TO TH3M

JANE: Don’t say that!

JANE: There must be a reasonable explanation behind all this!

ROSE: I’m sorry.

ROSE: I wish I could tell you.

Just like that, the jocular mood disappears almost palpably. For a minute, the only sounds to be heard anywhere are the cascade of water from the balloons and the trickling of the streams.

DAVE: okay so

DAVE: werent we going to look at our recent pesterlogs with john or something to see if he mentioned anything to do with afterus

ROXY: oh?

ROSE: That's right.

ROSE: If you would, Dave? As well as any of the rest of you, if you can.

DAVE: on it

KARKAT: GOT IT.

JANE: Sure thing!

Dave returns to his phone, navigating back to Pesterchum. Jane and Karkat likewise settle themselves on the ground and open their laptop and husktop respectively.

After a few moments pass, you can't help noticing a distinct furrow in your twin's brow as he scrolls, mouthing indeterminate fragments of conversation with himself as he swipes the screen. Eventually, he actually reaches for his shades and slides them off, leaning in and squinting at the screen.

DAVE: the FUCK

You feel your blood turn to ice.

ROSE: What?

ROSE: What's wrong?

DAVE: i dont see any

ROSE: Any what?

DAVE: any logs of my conversations with him

You lock eyes with him. His eyes are wide and his complexion is deathly pale.

ROSE: But you said you'd only spoken with him recently.

DAVE: i know what i said

DAVE: and im positive ive got the date right too

DAVE: but the logs are literally gone

DAVE: even the messages i just sent to him like an hour ago asking him where the hell hed fucked off to and if he could be bothered to message me back or what

JAKE: What?

JAKE: How in the name of old saint peter can THAT be????

DAVE: its not just the recent ones either

DAVE: and not all of my logs with just anyone

DAVE: the rest are fine

DAVE: its just the ones involving john thatve been deleted

JANE: You're not serious!

DAVE: is this really the time or situation to be joking

JANE: No!

JANE: That's not what I meant. I'm sorry.

JANE: But I do find it a little hard to believe they'd just up and vanish!

DIRK: Are you sure they're not just in another folder?

Dave wordlessly hands his iPhone over to Jane. Dirk, Jake, Roxy, Kanaya, and Terezi crowd around her, peering over her with ashen faces at the little screen.

KARKAT: HOLY SHIT.

KARKAT: MY CONVERSATIONS WITH HIM ARE GONE TOO.

Everyone looks around at Karkat, who sits in front of his screen with his mouth open and a stunned expression having overtaken his sharp features.

KARKAT: IT'S NO USE. I CHECKED THE VIDEO CAPTURES FROM THE VIEWPORT, TOO.

KARKAT: FOR SIGNS OF HIM, I MEAN.

KARKAT: THERE'S NOTHING THERE. IT'S LIKE THE IDIOT NEVER EVEN EXISTED.

JANE: I can't find a single thing on my own laptop either!

JANE: But...

JANE: Hmmmmmm.

JANE: Maybe...

She shuts her laptop, returns Dave's phone to him, and stands up, stroking her upper lip as if imagining an impressive mustache there.

KANAYA: Maybe What

JANE: Maybe this is a prank?

The whirring in your brain grinds to a halt.

Could it be?

TEREZI: TH4T IS 4 GOOD PO1NT >:O

No. No, it's not.

ROSE: No!

Nine quizzical pairs of eyes turn to you.

ROSE: He wouldn't do this.

ROSE: John wouldn't do something so cruel.

Dirk raises an eyebrow.

DIRK: Can you really be so sure of that?

DAVE: no rose has a point

DAVE: he has pulled some uncool shit in the past but

DAVE: something of this kinda magnitude doesnt seem like his style

DAVE: plus he can never resist letting the scheme slip at some point

DAVE: basically because hes a huge doofus and also he starts to genuinely feel bad if he leads somebody down the garden path too long

ROSE: There is that, and there is also the question of whether he would be able to access Dave's phone, Jane's laptop, and Karkat's husktop, in quick succession,

ROSE: Both without their knowledge, and long enough to extensively edit their records of having talked to him.

TEREZI: M4YB3 H3 H4CK3D 1NTO TH3M >:?

TEREZI: 1M NOT 3X4CTLY ON TH3 UP 4ND UP 4S R3G4RDS '''''''T3H COD3Z''''''' BUT SOLLUX COULD PULL SOM3 ST34LTHY L33T SH1T B4CK 1N TH3 D4Y

KARKAT: OK, BUT

KARKAT: AND NO OFFENSE TO THOSE NOT PRESENT, EXCEPT ACTUALLY NO AND FUCK YOU JOHN EGBERT, I'M PUTTING ON MY GROWNUP STEAMPRESSED GODPANTS HERE AND YOUR AWOL ASS CAN SURE AS HELL ACCEPT THAT GAUNTLET OF HUMILITY TOO,

KARKAT: ...HE'S

KARKAT: WELL

KARKAT: ALMOST AS BAD AS ME AT THAT SHIT.

TEREZI: >8O!!

TEREZI: G4SP

KANAYA: We Have Had A Breakthrough

KANAYA: Excuse Me While I Take My Leave To Inform The Nondescript Masses

KARKAT: OH FUCK YOU BOTH.

ROXY: mmmmmmh

JADE: roxy? :o

ROXY: 2 b frank...

ROXY: id have to go w/both tz and nubby ragehornz on this

KARKAT: THA-

KARKAT: OH, FUCK YOU TOO!!

ROXY: :p chiiiiill dude

KARKAT: NO.

ROXY: y

KARKAT: ):<B

KANAYA: Heh

ROXY: but ok seriously like....

ROXY: that sorta hacking is technically possible yes

ROXY: and johnnys a smart guy and all that

ROXY: but

ROXY: l33t haxx0rmast3r

ROXY: he is not

Your eyes wander to Afterus again. It's surely your imagination, but it seems even further away than it was before. Every minute spent debating and dawdling here is beginning to feel like nothing more than letting John slip yet further and further away, too.

ROSE: I think, by now, the only thing we can do is go to Afterus and search for him in person.

JADE: ...i think youre right :(

KARKAT: ALL OF US?

KARKAT: THAT WOULD PROBABLY BE THE FASTEST WAY TO DEAL WITH IT.

DIRK: Actually, that would be a bad idea.

KARKAT: AND WHY WOULD THAT BE, OH HIGH AND MIGHTY DAVE'S ALTERNATE UNIVERSE SLIME GUARDIAN.

DIRK: Think about it for just one second.

DIRK: For one, the nephilim bear only a passing resemblance to humans, and only a somewhat greater one to trolls.

DIRK: One person on their own wouldn't be that conspicuous, in most likelihood.

DIRK: But think about the attention we'd draw to ourselves if there were ten of us flying around there, especially considering it's a pretty small planet and news of our presence will travel fast.

DIRK: Positive attention or not, there's essentially no way that wouldn't end up massively forestalling our progress in finding John. That'd be doubly true if they decided to get aggressive.

KANAYA: That Does Make Sense Im Afraid

KANAYA: Though We Might Attempt To Disguise Ourselves To Some Extent

DIRK: Hold your horses, I'm not done. There's more.

DIRK: Afterus is far from ideal in terms of living conditions, with respect to humans and trolls.

DIRK: It's hot as fuck even at night, the landscape is largely barren, and the atmosphere is only breathable for so long before its mild to moderate neurotoxicity to humans, at least, starts to really affect you. I don't know as much about its effect on trolls, but I wouldn't take the risk.

DIRK: That said, you could probably survive for a few days, but it'd be prudent to bring a gas mask for caution's sake.

KARKAT: YEAH, YEAH, WE KNOW ALL THIS ALREADY.

KARKAT: WHAT’S YOUR POINT.

DIRK: My point is this:

DIRK: Just picture the fucking nightmare that bringing ten or even five people into that situation could wind up being, all considered.

DAVE: so going by what youre saying

DAVE: if john really is stuck up there then

DAVE: holy fuck

DAVE: okay yeah can we just decide on somebody to head up there and try to find him

ROSE: I'll go.

JADE: wait!!!!!

ROSE: Waiting really isn't an option right now.

JANE: Rose, Jade is right!

JANE: I'm worried, too, but this is not exactly a situation for hasty decisions!

ROSE: If we aren't at least somewhat "hasty", John could die. Or worse than even that.

JADE: i know but...

JADE: ohhhhh ugh its just

JADE: can we please at least talk it over a little more before putting someone else in danger too?

DAVE: not that it hasnt been informative and all but havent we already done a fuckload of talking

DAVE: if rose wants to volunteer then im not thrilled about that either ngl

DAVE: but the longer we figuratively sit on our asses the greater the likelihood john will be in deep shit if he isnt already

ROSE: Exactly.

JAKE: Rose!

JAKE: The thought of john in danger dips me in distilled dread from crown to tiptoes too believe me.

JAKE: But were all stalwart survivors of sburb here after all are we not?

JAKE: Hes a tough cookie and im sure hes handling himself admirably wherever he might be.

JAKE: And even if he did die hed pop right back up if it wasnt heroic or just. No?

ROSE: I'd much rather we didn't leave him in a situation in which he could die to begin with.

JADE: i understand :(

JADE: but jakes point is that johns been through a lot too, i dont think we need to get really REALLY concerned just yet

ROXY: what if

ROXY: we slept on the decision to elect somebody

ROXY: and decided in the morning or evening or w/e the time of day would technically be

ROXY: idk how time actually works on this planet sry

ROXY: hows that sound

ROXY: and then operation HEIR SUPPLY

DAVE: (oh my god)

ROXY: will resume later

KANAYA: I Think Thats A Good Idea Yes

JANE: I'm up for it!

JAKE: Agreed!

DIRK: I've got no objections.

JADE: that works!

KARKAT: MAKES ENOUGH SENSE.

TEREZI: Y34H

DAVE: rose what do you think

All eyes are on you once more.

ROSE: ...Fine.

ROSE: I can't pretend I'm thrilled, but I'm clearly outnumbered.

~ ※ ~

You fail to sleep on it quite spectacularly.

Throwing your sheets off for what feels like the 8(^8)th time that night, you sit up, sighing. The room is quiet, save for Roxy’s soft breathing coming from the pile of bowed and bearded cat plushies. You walk carefully so as not to disturb her, making your way to the window.

Though less gaudy and bright than LOLAR’s landscape, the dark skies of LOPAN still glisten with webs of color. The horizon is tinged with a dull Technicolor glow, and it’s actually quite a pretty sight--but once again, you don’t really feel up to appreciating the scenery.

Your gaze slowly drifts upwards. You can see the other lands, if you know where to look, Skaia drifting in between, the biggest and brightest sight in the sky. But you only have eyes for the tiny speck of blue, far, far beyond the others.

And then...

You’ve often described your abilities to your friends by comparing them to the universe coughing hints behind its fist. The flashes of insight you’re lucky enough to receive are usually brief, vague, and too faint to initially parse.

This one is about as vague as a sledgehammer to the face.

Go.

What the hell are you still doing here?

Carefully you move around your half the room, grabbing the essentials. You yank off your sleepwear, replacing it not with your regular ensemble but an old set of nondescript, burnt orange robes. The Nephilim recognize your symbol, and at least you’ll be able to pass as mysterious and spooky enough to avoid unnecessary questioning with this outfit (technically a remnant of that one time you and Roxy decided to have ‘a totes kickin wizard party‘, but no one needs to know that).

The soft buzz of your phone makes you jump half a foot.

GA: Rose

TT: Oh, good evening Kanaya.

TT: Can’t sleep either, huh?

GA: Actually I Was Enjoying Quite A Pleasant Doze Until A Few Moments Ago

GA: Until I Was Suddenly Awoken By The Sudden Premonition That One Of Our Number Was About To Do Something Reckless And Possibly Dangerous

TT: Reckless? Dangerous? Goodness, we can’t have that can we.

TT: Rest assured, I will alert you to any reckless activity the moment I catch wind of it.

GA: Silence Crumbs

TT: Silence crumbs, indeed.

TT: ...Where are you right now?

GA: Outside

You turn back to the window. Kanaya waves from a few yards away.

TT: Of course you are.

~ ※ ~

One Nice Abscond later, you’re walking towards her.

ROSE: You really do know me, don’t you?

KANAYA: What Can I Say

KANAYA: Youre Not The Only One With Good Intuition

You shift your feet a little.

ROSE: You’re not going to convince me not to.

KANAYA: I Know

ROSE: I’m probably the one best suited to finding him.

ROSE: I can be humble enough to rely on luck if it helps me find a friend.

ROSE: I mean, powers aside, I am the one who can figure him out best, after all, I am

ROSE: Wait.

ROSE: "You Know?"

ROSE: You're not going to try and stop me?

KANAYA: I Think By Now I Have Sufficiently Learned The Lesson That Once Rose Lalonde Puts Her Mind To Something Reckless Theres No Talking Her Down From It

KANAYA: ...Especially When It May Garner Results

KANAYA: In Any Case

KANAYA: The Only Reason Im Here Is To Give You A Gift

She hands you a small, rectangular box without a lid. Inside it sits two small needles, slender and white. They're far smaller than your usual choice of arms, almost the size of...

ROSE: Pens?

KANAYA: They Can Be

KANAYA: But You Should Be Able To Use Them For Your Usual Purposes

KANAYA: Consider It A Duel Wield Of Sorts

KANAYA: A Weapon For A Writer And A Fighter

ROSE: Have you been carrying this around just in case I might run off on my own to do battle with some particularly feisty paperwork?

KANAYA: Truthfully

KANAYA: I Dont Really Know Why I Did It

KANAYA: I Was Bored A Few Days Ago And Began To Experiment With Alchemizing

KANAYA: And Lo And Behold

KANAYA: A Goddamn Miracle

ROSE: That is way too happy of a coincidence.

KANAYA: Are You Really Complaining Though

ROSE: ...no, not really.

You add them to your specibus, and sure enough, you're able to wield them.

ROSE: "Scheheirazade?" That's quite a mouthful.

KANAYA: Somehow

KANAYA: I Think You Can Handle It

You chuckle.

ROSE: Still looking after me after all this time. I didn't take you for the nostalgic type, Kanaya.

KANAYA: You Can Call It Nostalgia

KANAYA: Personally I Would Call It Caring For A Friend And Wanting To Make Sure She Is Safe

KANAYA: But Thats Just Me

ROSE: ...oh.

The hum of electricity grows loud in the silence.

ROSE: Kanaya,

ROSE: Thank you. Really.

KANAYA:

KANAYA: Just Make Sure He Comes Home Okay

KANAYA: Its Very

KANAYA: Quiet

KANAYA: Without Him Around

A small smile grows behind her fangs.

KANAYA: Not To Mention I Still Need To Convince Him To Be My Model One Of These Days

ROSE: But of course.

You take a breath, tucking Scheheirazade into your satchel.

ROSE: Then...I guess I should be going.

KANAYA: You Should

KANAYA: Be Sure To Give Him A Good Rap To The Head When You Find Him

ROSE: It'll have to wait until I'm done with mine, but I can promise it'll be delivered.

ROSE: ...and if the others get worried...

KANAYA: I Will Tell Them

KANAYA: I Would Say Good Luck But That Would Probably Be Redundant

KANAYA: So

KANAYA: Please Come Back Safely

KANAYA: Both Of You

ROSE: Of course.

KANAYA: :)

Kanaya shrinks to nothing behind you. LOPAN follows soon after. Soon, all the familiar landmarks you’ve grown to know are nothing but pinpricks in the black emptiness.

Ahead of you, Afterus grows and grows.

 
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