Chapter

4

You arrive in the Land of Heat and Clockwork in a flash of white. A column of brutally hot air blasts up from the lava below and instantly hits your entire body. Luckily, you’re fairly immortal, so the only damage it does is to fog up your glasses a bit. Through the condensation you can make out the shapes of Dave and Jade below, as well as two more of you hovering in the air above. Both Johns turn to look at you.

On the ground, Dave is talking in a particular cadence, one that is familiar to you, his longtime best buddy. Casual, wandering, verging on droning. It’s a good indication he’ll be monologuing for a while, and probably already has been.

DAVE: im serious

DAVE: the thing is

DAVE: being a time guy

DAVE: like actually MASTERING time travel

DAVE: im pretty sure what that involves is

DAVE: learning to never use it

DAVE: see its like karate

DAVE: well

DAVE: its more like what they SAY about karate

DAVE: that you learn it so you dont use it

DAVE: but i mean we all know the truth about karate is if you know karate then obviously in reality you use it all the time

DAVE: like doing lethal fuckin crane kicks and sweet karate chops while walking down the street just cause you can

DAVE: its a god damn no brainer...

DAVE: thats what...

DAVE: you do...

DAVE: with...

DAVE: karate. john what the fuck are you doing here

DAVE: or... wait

DAVE: actually three johns

DAVE: hey three johns what the fuck are three johns doing here

It’s a fair question, which logically should have been directed to the oldest and most knowledgeable John. Nevertheless, one of the younger Johns replies first.

(JOHN 1): er.

(JOHN 1): i don’t know.

JOHN 3: john, don’t worry about it. i’ll take things from here.

DAVE: johns dont get me wrong its cool that you all randomly dropped by again but this wasnt really the best time

DAVE: we were kind of in the middle of a thing here

(JOHN 1): whoops. sorry.

(JOHN 2): uh... actually, i only came here to swoop in and zap this john away without being seen, to retcon away the mess i made earlier.

(JOHN 2): i didn’t expect to see another john here.

JOHN 3: hey, other john, i said i’ll handle it!

JOHN 3: i’m the only one who actually knows what’s going on here.

DAVE: god damn it johns what the fuck did you do

JOHN 3: young dave, please.

JOHN 3: let me deal with the johns first, then i’ll explain.

DAVE: young dave???

DAVE: oh

DAVE: yeah why are you a fucking adult now

DAVE: did you grow up and start time traveling dude

JADE: will someone tell me what the fuck is happening???????

JOHN 3: johns, there’s no reason for you to hang around anymore.

JOHN 3: not to sound like a wet blanket, but the things you’re trying to accomplish are now useless, so you can just zap away and do whatever you want.

(JOHN 1): ummm...

(JOHN 2): useless?? wait.

JOHN 3: ok, maybe i shouldn’t have said that.

JOHN 3: i’m sure you can still go and do what i did when i originally did what you’re currently trying to do...

DAVE: jesus john

JOHN 3: in fact, it will still probably be a very rewarding experience!

JOHN 3: some of my best memories happened right after you do what you’re about to do next.

JOHN 3: the point is, you should just go do it, so that you aren’t here anymore.

JOHN 3: i’m here to make sure some new and different important things happen, and those things don’t include you.

JADE: :|

(JOHN 1): oh...

(JOHN 2): ...ok.

The useless Johns zap away. You sincerely hope that they have a beautiful and fulfilling youth.

DAVE: adult john what the fuck have you done

DAVE: is this some time travel shit

DAVE: please dont tell me youve been spending the next however many years bungling through time like this because tbh if what i just witnessed was even remotely indicative of shit you get up to on a recurring basis then your future is almost too embarrassing to even think about

DAVE: and this is coming from a teenager who was just in the middle of an angsty episode

JADE: its true

JOHN: no, teen dave. this is not at all representative of my habits as an adult, but thanks for the concern.

JOHN: i’m not time traveling, and neither were the other johns.

JOHN: i used my retcon abilities to travel here from the future, in a manner of speaking.

DAVE: sounds fuckin stupid

JOHN: it is stupid. but that’s just how things are.

JADE: im a little confused

JADE: im supposed to be hunting you down and capturing you... but im not sure if the adult version of you counts?

JADE: i think the condesce might just be... confused if i brought her an adult john?

JADE: there will be a lot of questions that need answering, thats for sure

JOHN: no, you don’t need to capture me, and you wouldn’t be able to even if you wanted to, since my existence literally transcends the confines of canon.

JADE: well...

JADE: i guess that simplifies things then?

JOHN: yep, pretty much.

JADE: in that case, would you mind giving me and dave a few minutes to wrap up our conversation?

JADE: we were sort of in the middle of something important... i think

JOHN: no, you really weren’t.

JOHN: sorry to be the bearer of lame news, like i just was to the other johns.

JOHN: but whatever you were doing doesn’t matter anymore.

JOHN: nothing that’s happening here matters at all.

JOHN: this session, this whole takeover by the condesce... this isn’t how a universe gets made.

JADE: its not?

JOHN: no.

JOHN: well i mean, it IS.

JOHN: but it already happened.

JOHN: we already made it.

JOHN: and we’ve been living in it for years already, from my perspective.

DAVE: oh yeah?

DAVE: how is it

JOHN: pretty cool.

JOHN: i mean, a little boring at times. but hey, that’s life.

DAVE: yeah thats about how i thought it would be

DAVE: so what now

DAVE: if its all a done deal like preemptively speaking

DAVE: can we all just relax or what

JOHN: actually...

JOHN: no.

DAVE: fuck

JOHN: ah! i just realized why she sent me to this point in time to start recruiting you all.

DAVE: what

DAVE: who

JOHN: rose.

DAVE: whyd she do that

DAVE: and what do you mean recruit

DAVE: what the hell is going on

JOHN: this is the moment just after you made your legendary cue ball sword.

JOHN: you’re going to need it.

DAVE: for what

JOHN: to come fight lord english with me.

Dave’s eyebrows descend beneath his sunglasses. You feel pretty bad because you’re about to completely circumvent the life-changing epiphany he’s just had that you know for a fact will make him a happier, chiller, and altogether more well-balanced human being.

DAVE: oh shit

JADE: what??

JADE: john. he is NOT going to fight lord english just yet

JADE: he is staying right here

JADE: old ladys orders :P

JOHN: actually, yes he is.

JOHN: and so are you. we all are.

JADE: omg

JADE: how dare you?????

JOHN: jade, you’re brainwashed.

JOHN: sorry. but nothing you’re saying now means anything.

JOHN: it’s fine though, you’ll stop being brainwashed once i zap you outside the influence of the condesce.

JADE: youre not zapping me anywhere!!!!!

JOHN: ha ha, yes i am.

JOHN: watch this...

> Zap Grimbark Jade outta there.

You set a hand on Jade’s shoulder and zap her off to a better place. Then you touch down on the concrete surface where the whole pointless confrontation was taking place so that you can talk Dave around whatever it is he’s going through right now. Dave, like his ecto-sister, really needs to get in an absurd amount of extraneous words before he can fully process a situation.

The Mayor tips his head at you and fiddles with his sash. God damn, you missed the Mayor.

DAVE: so what do we do next

JOHN: well, i’ll leave you to hang out with jade for a bit, while i go round up the others.

DAVE: what others... like

DAVE: everyone

JOHN: yes. rose, and the other four.

DAVE: i see

DAVE: so...

DAVE: sorry if i seem a little slow here im just trying to figure this out

DAVE: youre telling me that i made this sword because im destined to defeat lord english and weve all been training for that day our whole lives to some extent more or less

DAVE: and we are actually successful here like we overthrow the condesce and make a universe and everything

DAVE: and then

DAVE: we...

DAVE: sit on our asses for several years in the new universe and become adults and lead mostly boring lives instead of going off to fight him?

JOHN: yes.

DAVE: guess that makes sense

DAVE: now that i think about it thats probably what i would want to do by the time we finally wrap up this whole hot mess

JOHN: yep, it is what you wanted to do.

JOHN: and pretty much everyone else agreed, including me. so that’s what we did.

DAVE: which uh

DAVE: i guess begs the question

DAVE: if it seemed pointless at the time and nobody could be assed to go fight him when we all had our shit together

DAVE: why does it suddenly become important to go back and beat him years later after we become a bunch of lazy adults with boring lives

JOHN: i pretty much had the same questions, dave.

JOHN: there are probably some pretty good answers to that. definitely some complicated answers.

JOHN: but to be honest... i kind of forget what they actually were?

DAVE: god damn it john

JOHN: it has something to do with canon unraveling, and such.

JOHN: we all live outside canon in the future, and if we don’t do go do this, everything will stop meaning anything.

DAVE: does...

DAVE: anything you just said actually mean anything in the first place

JOHN: that’s a great question, dave.

JOHN: one that i can’t say i’m qualified to answer!

JOHN: i think the bottom line here is, this is what rose said we had to do.

JOHN: so, that’s why we’re doing it.

DAVE: sounds like a bullshit reason if i ever heard one

JOHN: you might be right.

JOHN: but is it less of a bullshit reason than any other reason we currently have to go fight him?

DAVE: ...

DAVE: damn

DAVE: youre right

DAVE: i dont know how you did it but you somehow instantly sold me completely

DAVE: fuck you adult egbert

JOHN: heheh.

JOHN: still got it. :)

You zap Dave off to where he needs to go. The Mayor is still staring at you, blinking his buggy little eyes. You shoot him a warm smile and a thumbs-up before bouncing off into the ether of infinity.

> ==>
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