Chapter

28

That being said, it’s very rude, all things considered, for Karkat to start a war on Harry Anderson’s birthday.

John’s floating above the outskirts of the Human Capital, letting the breeze toss him to and fro. He’s hanging upside down in the air watching the first stage of the Troll Rebellion’s forward assault begin to establish their defensive position along the border. Despite the government’s paranoid crackdown on troll reproduction, they’ve ended up vastly outnumbered anyway thanks to the incalculable deluge of troll ghosts pouring down from the sky over the last decade. Someone with political opinions might think that this entire quagmire was one of the human government’s own making.

John isn’t really on record as “having political opinions,” but he does think that the government approached this entire subject like it was trying to hold on to a water balloon by squeezing it too tight, and now it’s about to explode in their faces. He’s wondering if he should go see his son one last time before that happens. The battle is shaping up to be a pretty serious engagement. Both sides armed to the teeth, with all modern military technology at their disposal. Warships, laser guns, laser cannons, laser mines. Laser mines? Would those be mines that shot lasers, or lasers that tripped mines? John hasn’t been keeping up with the recent innovations in weaponry, although he has noted that the lock industry has finally started to take off. Dave said that this was all to be expected in a war economy. But John tuned out most of his analysis, which is what everyone does when Dave starts talking about the economy.

A flash above the clouds catches John’s attention: another ghost, falling down from wherever it is they come from. John follows after the light with an exhausted sigh. The novelty of dead trolls falling from the sky has really worn off over the years. But he might as well go warn the new arrival that they’ve landed in the middle of an imminent warzone. He sets down at the edge of the crater and peers through the smoke.

He recognizes the ghost immediately, because he sees a younger version of her almost every day.

JOHN: vriska?

Vriska’s face snaps up, eyes blazing. Eyes. Actual eyes, with expression, color, pupils, and everything.

JOHN: wait. you’re...

JOHN: alive??

John skids down the side of the crater and helps her sit up. He wasn’t imagining it. She’s extremely alive. And extremely wounded. And above all, extremely Vriska.

JOHN: oh my god. you’re not just “vriska”...

JOHN: you’re *actually* vriska!

JOHN: you’re like, literal, for real, actual vriska!

Vriska shoves John away and staggers to her feet. There’s a bleeding gash on her head and something lodged in her chest. It appears to be the same material as whatever was piercing the center of teen-Jade’s corpse. She’s bleeding bright blue all down her side, but her expression is wild.

VRISKA: What the F8CK are you t8lking a8out?

VRISKA: Where am I????????

VRISKA: I c8n’t 8e here! I h8ve to go 8ACK!!!!!!!!

JOHN: back where?

VRISKA: I need to see what happened!

VRISKA: I NEED TO KNOW HOW IT TURNED OUT!

JOHN: how *what* turned out?

JOHN: vriska, you’re bleeding horribly, and talking total nonsense.

JOHN: we need to get you some help.

She whirls around and grabs John by the shoulders. She starts shaking him, voice cracking with crazed desperation.

VRISKA: I need to go 8ack!

VRISKA: I need to SEE!!!!!!!!

VRISKA: I NEED TO SEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

> ==>
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