Chapter

24

JADE: the timelines are interacting again.

ARADIA: ooh do you hear anything interesting

SOLLUX: don’t be s0 n0sy aradia.

Aradia throws her legs over the edge of the ancient meteor facility and kicks them out into open space. Far below her feet, the meteor is wildly overgrown. It landed here millions of years ago, after its fateful three-year journey when it hosted several trolls and humans as they had a variety of critical coming-of-age experiences. It will stay here for millions more years, where it will remain indefinitely on a barren, desolate Earth C, waiting to host a single cherub child, chained to its bedroom. But for now, it hosts these three.

Dead-Jade, whose body also happens to be hosting a cherub at the moment, is doing the same thing she does every day: sitting with her legs crossed and her eyes closed, using her still-teenage body to scry into the abyss. The light from the outer rim of the stratosphere casts her face in powdery blue light. It’s certainly a more becoming avatar for Calliope, most would find. The Calliope who Roxy calls a friend, in her moments of greatest self-reproach, would die for a body like this. The version of Calliope who’s been dead for eons, however, waiting for exactly this moment in history to reinstate her corporeal presence, couldn’t care less about her host’s appearance. It is simply serving as a functional vessel for the crucial role she now must play.

JADE: what would you classify as interesting?

ARADIA: oh the usual

ARADIA: death... romance...

ARADIA: astounding feats of destruction and chaos

ARADIA: tell us whats happening in the dream bubbles oh great muse :)

SOLLUX: please d0n’t.

JADE: very well.

JADE: let’s see.

TEREZI: H4H4H4 1 TH1NK 1M DY1NG

JOHN: oh no!

JOHN: what happened?

TEREZI: NOTH1NG

TEREZI: TH4TS TH3 PROBL3M

TEREZI: 1V3 B33N OUT H3R3 FOR SO LONG 1 C4NT 3V3N R3M3MB3R HOW MUCH T1M3 H4S P4SS3D

TEREZI: 1M OUT OF SUPPL13S 4ND 1 H4V3 NO 1D34 WH3R3 1 4M

TEREZI: 4ND 1M ST4RT1NG TO TH1NK SOM3 R3LLY CR4ZY TH1NGS

TEREZI: L1K3 M4YB3

JOHN: none of it’s real?

TEREZI: Y3S

TEREZI: HOW D1D YOU KNOW

JOHN: i’ve been thinking the same thing too recently.

JOHN: lots of crazy, crazy things.

JOHN: and keeping them to myself is making me FEEL crazy.

JOHN: so the thoughts just get... crazier.

TEREZI: Y34H

TEREZI: I C4NT R3M3MB3R TH3 SOUND OF 4NYON3S VOIC3 BUT MY OWN

JOHN: well, your voice is pretty unforgettable.

TEREZI: 4R3 YOU N3GG1NG M3 3GB3RT

JOHN: um. maybe?

TEREZI: PR3TTY H4LF 4SS3D

TEREZI: BUT 1M FL4TT3R3D YOU TH1NK MY VO1C3 1S 4DOR4BL3

JOHN: no, i was obviously implying that your voice was annoying!

JOHN: come ON.

TEREZI: 1 GOT TH4T

TEREZI: BUT S1NC3 1T W4S 4 L4M3 N3G, YOU W3R3 4CTU4LLY SUGG3ST1NG TH3 OPPOS1T3

TEREZI: WH1CH M34NS YOU TH1NK 1TS CUT3, R1GHT >;]

JOHN: i’m sorry your honor, but the defense would like to plead the right to, um...

JOHN: stop talking about this.

TEREZI: F1RST OF 4LL

TEREZI: 4S 1V3 4LR34DY 3XPL41N3D ON NUM3ROUS OCC4S1ONS

TEREZI: “D3F3NS3” 1SNT 4 TH1NG 1N MY CULTUR3

TEREZI: 3X4CTLY WH1CH C4NDY 4SS3D L3G4L TR4D1T1ON 4R3 YOU TRY1NG TO R3F3R3NC3 H3R3?

JOHN: um, i don’t know?

JOHN: i just said a thing that sounded kinda lawyery. you know, as like, a joke?

JOHN: you do remember jokes still, terezi? or did you forget those too...

TEREZI: 1M JUST CUR1OUS 4BOUT TH3 P4TH3T1C4LLY SOFT L3G4L TR4D1T1ONS OF YOUR OLD PL4N3T

TEREZI: ON3 C4N 4T L34ST HOP3 YOUR N3W PL4N3T H4S F1GUR3D OUT 4 JUD1C14L SYST3M TH4T H4S MOR3 T33TH

JOHN: yeah, i think earth c has been getting there, lately.

TEREZI: YOU H4V3 NO 1D34 HOW MUCH TH1S W4RMS MY PUMP B1SCU1T TO H34R

JOHN: well, i’m glad at least YOU’RE getting a kick out of it.

TEREZI: PL34S3 JOHN, 1 DONT H4V3 MUCH 4NYMOR3

TEREZI: JUST L3T M3 H4V3 TH1S

JOHN: ok...

JOHN: for someone who’s suffering so much, you sure seem like you’re still full of piss and vinegar out there.

JOHN: are you SURE you’re dying?

TEREZI: Y34H

TEREZI: 1M SUR3

JOHN: ...

Aradia leans over and sticks her nose in dead-Jade’s face. She watches how her eyebrows wrinkle at the center, just a little bit.

ARADIA: so

ARADIA: what do you see

JADE: nothing i would describe as interesting.

JADE: please stop distracting me.

ARADIA: ok if thats what you really want

JADE: it is.

SOLLUX: aradia c0uld y0u st0p fucking b0thering her.

SOLLUX: what are we even d0ing here, serving as like,

SOLLUX: the attendants f0r this super ancient and wise g0ddess, 0r whatever the fuck she is...

SOLLUX: if all y0u’re g0nna d0 is get in her face and hassle her ab0ut whatever c00l shit is g0ing 0n in her visi0ns.

ARADIA: ok im sorry im just really curious!

JOHN: no sign of her yet?

TEREZI: NO

JOHN: terezi, seriously. it’s been years here.

JOHN: when are you going to give up and accept that she’s probably...

TEREZI: PROB4BLY WH4T

JOHN: you know.

JOHN: dead.

TEREZI: ...

JOHN: terezi, vriska’s dead, and none of us are going to see or hear from her ever again.

JOHN: not even you.

JOHN: and you know what i think?

JOHN: i think that even if you DID find vriska, it wouldn’t matter!

JOHN: because i don’t think she even deserves your friendship anymore.

TEREZI: OH?

JOHN: if she cared about you as much as you care about her, she wouldn’t have fucked off like this forever.

JOHN: driving you crazy with doubt and uncertainty, making you chase her through infinite nothingness until you almost starve to death...

JOHN: she would have at least given you the courtesy of closure!

TEREZI: H4HA

TEREZI: TH4TS NOT WH4T VR1SK4 1S L1K3 JOHN

JOHN: yeah. i guess not.

JOHN: so why are you still trying so hard?

TEREZI: ...

Aradia stretches her arms over her head and yawns. She launches from her perch at the edge of the meteor facility with a little somersault, coasting through the air so that she’s level with Sollux’s face. She gives one of his horns a light tap, to affirm her proximity.

ARADIA: she talks in five word sentences so even im still in the dark about what it is shes really trying to accomplish

ARADIA: from what ive pieced together she needs to stay in these trances or were all doomed

SOLLUX: aradia, being d00med is all i used t0 ever talk ab0ut.

SOLLUX: even i’ve chilled 0ut 0n all that shit n0w.

ARADIA: so you dont believe her?

SOLLUX: ehhh, shrug.

SOLLUX: all i’m d0ing here is keeping y0u c0mpany. like usual.

JADE: the work is important.

ARADIA: see?

SOLLUX: 0k, the least she c0uld d0 is tell us WHY we’re all d00med.

JADE: doomed is not a word i would use to describe the condition of those on this world.

JADE: even if my work is unsuccessful, the stakes for everyone here have nothing to do with the issue of mortality.

JADE: to frame the matter that way would be misleading.

JADE: to the extent that it is my naturally endowed duty to defend the innocent from wanton acts of destruction, from degradation and dissolution,

JADE: it is also my duty to tell the truth to those i protect.

JADE: and the simplest statement of truth for all of you to know is this:

JADE: we are the lucky ones.

Calliope lets out a long, thin sigh from between the teeth of Jade’s corpse. It’s more for effect than anything, as corpses don’t actually need to breathe.

JADE: we are the ones fortunate enough to live in a reality that is beyond the influence of the prince.

SOLLUX: wh0 the fuck is the prince?

TEREZI: 1V3 N3V3R TOLD 4NYON3 TH1S B3FOR3

TEREZI: W3LL

TEREZI: NOT 4NYON3 WHO C4R3D 3NOUGH TO L1ST3N 4T L34ST

TEREZI: BUT FOR 4 LONG T1M3 1V3 F3LT L1K3 TH3R3S SOM3TH1NG WRONG W1TH M3

TEREZI: L1K3 1M M1SS1NG SOM3TH1NG 1MPORT4NT

TEREZI: TH3 TH1NG TH4T 3V3RYON3 3LS3 H4S TH4T 4LLOWS TH3M TO B3 S4T1SF13D W1TH TH3 W4Y TH1NGS 4R3

TEREZI: L1K3 TH3R3S 4 HUG3 VO1D 1NS1D3 MY H34RT 4ND 1LL N3V3R H4V3 WH4T 1 N33D TO B3 H4PPY

TEREZI: NOT BY MYS3LF 4T L34ST

TEREZI: DO3S TH4T SOUND STUP1D?

JOHN: no.

JOHN: i feel like that too.

JOHN: i’ve felt that way for years. like... maybe i died?

JOHN: or maybe everyone died back in the medium and i’m the only one who realizes it.

JOHN: like i’m that kid in the movie where bruce willis is dead as a surprise at the end.

JOHN: except ghost john crawled back inside my skin and he’s wearing it like a halloween costume.

JOHN: and that’s why there’s a huge hole inside me.

JOHN: maybe that’s why it feels like you’re the only person who understands me anymore.

JOHN: because we’ve both got big, howling ghost holes inside of us.

JOHN: and talking to each other makes it feel less lonely.

JOHN: that’s what we did, terezi. we filled each other’s holes.

TEREZI: H3H3H3

JOHN: what?

TEREZI: R3R34D WH4T YOU JUST WROT3 DUMP4SS

JOHN: ugh. terezi, get your mind out of the gutter!

JOHN: i thought we were having a serious moment here.

TEREZI: JOHN

TEREZI: 1 4M S3R1OUS

TEREZI: 1 TH1NK TH1S 1S TH3 3ND FOR M3

TEREZI: 1M D1ZZY 4ND S1CK 4ND 1 C4NT SM3LL STR41GHT

TEREZI: 1 F33L L1K3 1 COULD JUST L4Y DOWN 1N TH1S 3NDL3SS S34 OF NOTH1NG 4ND JUST GO TO SLEEP

TEREZI: 4T TH1S PO1NT 1T WOULD 4LMOST B3 4 R3L13F 1F 1 D1DNT W4K3 UP

JOHN: you don’t have to do that terezi.

JOHN: you could just come home.

TEREZI: ...

JOHN: please. please come home.

TEREZI: TH3N WH4T

JOHN: umm, i dunno.

JOHN: we hang out and stuff?

TEREZI: JOHN YOU ST1LL DONT G3T 1T

TEREZI: 34RTH C 1S *NOT* MY HOM3

JOHN: do you really miss alternia that bad?

TEREZI: 1 D1D FOR 4 LONG T1M3

TEREZI: MOR3 TH4N K4RK4T 4ND K4N4Y4 D1D 4T L34ST

TEREZI: BUT 1 H4V3 NO 1D34 4NYMOR3

TEREZI: 4LT3RN14, VR1SK4, SGRUB

TEREZI: 1M SO CONFUS3D 4BOUT WH4T 1 W4NT

TEREZI: UGH, 1 THOUGHT TH4T NOT K1LL1NG H3R WOULD M4K3 M3 F33L B3TT3R

TEREZI: BUT 1NST34D 1TS L1K3 1 R3TCONN3D 4 HUG3 CHUNK OUT OF MY SOUL

TEREZI: 1 3R4S3D 4N 4CT1ON OF R3GR3T 4ND GR13F...

TEREZI: 4ND JUST TURN3D 1T 1NTO SOM3TH1NG 1 C4NT STOP CH4S1NG 4FT3R

TEREZI: M4YB3 WH4T 1 D1D W4S N3CESS4RY TO S4V3 3V3RYON3 3LS3

TEREZI: BUT 1T SUR3 D1DNT S4VE M3

JOHN: so maybe that means...

JOHN: the only thing left to do is let her go?

TEREZI: I C4NT JOHN

TEREZI: NOT 3V3N WH1L3 1M ON D34THS DOOR, 4PP4R3NTLY

JOHN: terezi...

TEREZI: 1 TH1NK 1TS T1M3 FOR M3 TO GO

TEREZI: GOODBY3 JOHN

JOHN: no, don’t go!

JOHN: please, please don’t do this!

JOHN: if you just go off and die, and i never hear from you again...

JOHN: i don’t think i can handle that!!!

TEREZI: JOHN

TEREZI: STOP TH1S

TEREZI: YOUR3 3MB4R4SS1NG BOTH OF US

JOHN: terezi, if you had no intent of ever coming home...

JOHN: why did you even bother calling me?

JOHN: are you really telling me that you didn’t want me to talk you out of it???

TEREZI: 1 R34LLY D1DNT

JOHN: then what DID you want?!

TEREZI: L3TS S4Y...

TEREZI: 1 JUST W4NT3D TO G1V3 YOU TH3 COURT3SY OF CLOSUR3

Dead-Jade’s eyes slowly flutter open. She gets to her feet and brushes down her skirt.

ARADIA: are you done working for the day

JADE: the work is never finished.

JADE: not until i am able to deal with the prince myself.

ARADIA: and when will that be

The meteor is passing beyond the fall of night. Dead-Jade, standing half in light, half in darkness, looks up at the sky.

JADE: not soon enough.

> ==>
Advertisement