Chapter

13

> Be John again.

It seems as if you’re attempting to be John again, with the expectation that we might spend a little more quality time with him in his cubicle of misery and self-loathing. You guessed we might really start to unpack his depression issues. Get to the bottom of all that. Well, nice try. John can’t be here right now, because he’s stuck somewhere in the harrowing nexus between canon, post-canon, non-canon, outside canon, and fanon. He also can’t be here right now because, for the time being, we’re done wasting our breath on such a sad loser. It’s well overdue for the true hero of this tale to take center stage.

> Be Vriska.

Lord English stands before you in all his time-eating, universe-ending glory. You rode in here like a total badass, and now you’re presiding over a whole host of ghosts ready to throw themselves once more into the maw of this final battle. You know that this isn’t your battle to win, but you are definitely the sign of the tide turning. Hell, you ARE the tide. This whole thing would have been pretty dismal if you hadn’t shown up with the treasure chest containing the ultimate weapon, not to mention your flawless defeat of an obstructionist, hectoring, orange man, who for reasons you cannot begin to comprehend seemed to be obsessed with you.

You have already executed what is probably the most important tactical maneuver ever performed by a hero in the history of heroism: you deployed the white, house-shaped juju from the red chest. It grew to an enormous size, slammed down on whatever was passing for the floor in this esoteric battle environment, and a door materialized on its surface. You now stand off to the side looking especially pleased with yourself, waiting for the legendary weapon to unload itself toward the hulking tyrant.

You’ve now got two bitches of either gender at your side: your main girl Meenah, who you stole from that embarrassing past version of yourself that you owned so hard you bet she’s probably still crying. And Tavros. Not just any random ghost copy of Tavros, of which there appear to be thousands. Your Tavros, specifically, who’s been pathetically trailing after you like a lost barkbeast since you showed up.

You’d be hard-pressed to describe what’s happening right now. If they sent a poet, maybe he’d do better job of it. But they sent someone who’s actually useful instead, so you’ll give it a shot. It looks to you like the complete obliteration of space and time, the end of all things, the disintegration of literally thousands of ghosts. And no doubt your admirers out there would love it if you described it all in painstaking detail, but you’re not an executionist. You just call it like you see it, and what you’re seeing right now is pretty awesome.

> Observe Lord English.

Kind of an overworked character design, you think to yourself. If someone showed you a drawing like this on their FLARP sheet you’d probably be obligated to immediately kick their ass. There’s a lot going on, from his vein-popping muscles to his eight-ball eyes to his pirate leg and his ostentatiously bright, gold pimp cane. Years ago, you brutally criticized Terezi for adding a dragon-head staff to her Redglare cosplay. The argument that ensued was so bad she didn’t talk to you for an entire week. Now that you’re seeing this, well... you wouldn’t apologize to her, o8viously, but in retrospect maybe her accessorizing wasn’t so bad. At least she understood the basics of having a simplified silhouette.

MEENAH: im goin back fin

MEENAH: you comin vris

VRISKA: Of course!!!!!!!!

VRISKA: But give me a minute.

VRISKA: I want to SEE.

Meenah gives you a grin and a salute and leaves you to it. This is what you always felt you were destined for, somehow. Standing at the end of the universe and seeing how it all goes down. Tavros is clinging to your arm like a little crybaby, while crying, you assume, and probably soiling his dumb little pair of shorts. But not you. You’re fearless. Your eyes are so wide that it feels like you’re eating all the light through them. That’s what you are, after all. The Thief of Light. You crane back your neck and:

> Watch Lord English put a crack in reality.

It’s beautiful. You thought maybe he’d do something stupid, like punch the sky with his gross, throbbing muscle arm? But all it takes for him to shatter the roof of existence is a single, ear-splitting roar. Around him, the ghost army scatters. Tavros flinches and hides his face in your shoulder, and probably pisses himself again for good measure. But you...

Get smashed in the head?

It was so fast and dark you didn’t see it—the shard of space-time that split off from above and hurtled toward you. Your body rocks back, whiplash fast, and you nearly keel over. You’re still standing though, and laughing. That’s what you were doing when Lord English put a split in the fabric of reality. You were laughing, not crying. It doesn’t hurt at all.

TAVROS: vRISKA,,, aRE YOU OKAY?

VRISKA: Shhut up!!!!!!!! I’m... I’m

You stagger back and put a hand to the head wound. Your eyes spin. All eight of them. It’s not a big deal though. Just a scratch. It’s fine fine F8NE.

Your hand comes away coated in thick blue. Your hair is soaked with it all the way down on one side. Why is broken space-time so sharp? Like splintered obsidian. Feels like it barely grazed you, and yet...

Everything around you begins to spin, and you’re not sure if... you can’t quite...

A stream of blood begins to leak in under your glasses. Noise whirls around you: Lord English losing his shit, ghosts shouting, moving, the broken-glass sound of the ceiling of space splitting into hundreds of shards of potentiality. There’s a hum beneath all of it, a deep, dark reverb, a black hole sucking everything into the dark maw of infinity. You wipe your bloody hand on the leg of your jeans and sneer with rage. You won’t go down so easily.

Tavros tries to steady you, but you slap his hand away.

VRISKA: Fuck 8ff!!!!!!!!

TAVROS: uHHH OKAY, iT LOOKS REALLY,,, kINDA,,, eXTREMELY BAD,,,,,,, tHOUGH,

VRISKA: You’re so intolera8le! I... I need to........

VRISKA: Tavros, g-go. Find... f8nd Meen8h.

TAVROS: i,

VRISKA: N8W T8VROS!!!!!!!!

Tavros scurries off into the fray to find someone less worthless. You try to catch your bearings so that you won’t miss a single instant of the battle, but you’re distracted by something in the corner of your glasses. Your Trollian alert is blinking. There’s a message from Terezi. How long has that been there? Hours, days? You suddenly wonder if it’s been years from her perspective, waiting for you to respond, given how time moves differently out here. Were you too preoccupied with your incredible heroic exploits to notice?

Focus, Serket. This is no time for sentimental thoughts. You need to get a grip. Keep your head in the game, keep both feet planted firmly... whoops.

Your feet slip. Without Tavros to keep you steady, you lose balance and begin drifting. You try to regain your footing, but you realize you aren’t in danger of falling over. That’s not the problem. You can’t seem... to get your feet back on the floor? You feel light. You’re... floating. You flail your legs, scraping the tips of your shoes against the floor, but it’s no use.

You understand what’s happening. It’s the black hole.

It’s starting to lift you up.

You glance wild-eyed toward the glowing juju. Its four chambers and peaked roof are pulsing with the energy of raw imminence. This is it! Everything you’ve been waiting for, whatever it is, is about to happen. Where’s Meenah? You desperately try to stabilize yourself, slow your ascent, anchor yourself back to the floor in some way. Any way. But there’s nothing to grab on to. There’s blood in your eyes and your depth perception is fucked. Your hand goes wide and your fingers close around empty space as you reach impotently toward the glowing symbol of everything you ever believed you were meant for.

This can’t be how it goes. As you continue to levitate, gaining speed in the direction of the insatiable cosmic body, you can see your blood trailing behind you in wet, cerulean blobs. The juju glows brighter. You need to see what happens next. You NEED to SEEEEEEEE! You’re so frantic, grasping for purchase in the empty air, that you aren’t ready for it. Another black shard of space-time hurtling through the void. It collides with your chest, right at the place where your ribcage connects, and sends you spiraling ever faster toward the deep, dark maw of infinity. A black hole is something not even a god tier player can survive, you suspect. And even if one could, you highly doubt there’d be any clawing your way out of its event horizon and back into relevance. Not this time. It’s a fate worse than anything you can imagine, and as it truly sinks in—what is happening to you, how this is ending for you—finally you lose all sense of composure. You flail, spin, and flip in helpless little circles like a bloody rag doll, and you begin to scream.

> JOHN: Emerge from the juju.

The first thing you hear is a tiny scream getting sucked into oblivion. The voice is familiar, but not as familiar as the second thing you hear, which is a crack.

It’s not just a crack in your ears. This crack goes all the way down your spine. You almost don’t react to it because it’s so familiar. Around you, a cacophony rises up like steam.

DAVE: oh shit

DAVE: its really popping off out here

Dave’s voice reminds you that your teammates have emerged from the house along with you. You survey the group. Everyone is account for. Three confused, frightened teenagers.

You can’t see anything but big, bright smears all along the horizon. You fish the two halves of your broken glasses out of your pocket and hold them up to your face. The scene comes into focus: the eye of a storm, a black hole so massive it stretches as far as you can see. An army of ghosts swirling and screaming, whipping around you like leaves in the wind, and at the center of it all is Lord English, just like in your dream.

You can feel it now. The moment reality yawns too wide and snaps in half.

> ==>
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