Later that night, jade has been moved from the hospital to the troll kingdom. she now sits in a wheelchair, remaining in perfect silence with her dark eyes open to maintain my transmission. roxy and kanaya rolled her into the living room of dave and karkat’s hive earlier that evening. this is where they all sit now, discussing the day’s troubling events.
roxy is using his phone to pursue leads on the whereabouts of the prince.
ROXY: mm hm
ROXY: oh yeah
ROXY: for sure
ROXY: you too jake
ROXY: thanks man
ROXY: yeah well let u know what were gonna do
he hangs up, and sighs dramatically.
ROXY: poor guy
DAVE: whatd he say
ROXY: a lot of it was hard to make out due to all the sobbing
ROXY: but yeah its like we thought
ROXY: dirk borrowed one of his ships and gtfo
KANAYA: But Did He Say WHERE
ROXY: doubt he told anybody tbh
ROXY: in fact id say odds are even he doesnt quite know where hes goin yet
DAVE: why do you think that
ROXY: idk i just know the guy
ROXY: also like
ROXY: whats even out there??
ROXY: dudes got a ship and now hes haulin ass randomly about w rose to i dunno
ROXY: prove some sort of point?
KANAYA: What About Jane
KARKAT: WE AREN’T CALLING JANE!
KANAYA: Why Not
KARKAT: BECAUSE I WOULDN’T BELIEVE A SINGLE WORD THAT COMES OUT OF HER FAT, FASCIST MOUTH!
KANAYA: Thats Stupid Im Calling Her
KANAYA: I Dislike The Woman As Well But I Will Leave No Possibility Unexhausted In Striving To Rescue My Wife From That Madman
she takes roxy’s phone and presses jane’s name in the contact list. she moves to the far side of the room to speak, while the others continue conversing.
DAVE: so uhhh
dave makes a noise humans sometimes do, by expelling air through his closed, fleshy lips, creating an impolite flapping effect.
DAVE: rose and dirk huh
DAVE: rose and fuckin dirk...
DAVE: so are they
DAVE: man im never gonna hear the end of it if im the one to ask this question am i
DAVE: ive had too many fuckin goofy dumbass foot in mouth family blunders to be the guy asking this fuckin question
DAVE: and yet here i am
DAVE: asking it
ROXY: what r u talkin about
DAVE: you know...
DAVE: are they like
DAVE: you know
KARKAT: WHAT THIS DUMBASS IS ASKING IS IF THEY’RE DOING HUMAN INTERCOURSE ACTIVITIES.
ROXY: oh my god??
ROXY: karkat theyre related
ROXY: humans dont do that when theyre related to each other ok
KARKAT: DON’T TALK DOWN TO ME. I’M NOT A FUCKING WRIGGLER.
KARKAT: I’M FAMILIAR WITH YOUR CONCEPT OF “HUMAN INCEST.”
DAVE: yeah ok not to be that guy even though im totally being that guy
DAVE: if it never happened we wouldnt have a word for it
ROXY: i rly dont think...
ROXY: i mean
ROXY: they WOULDNT
ROXY: theres no way. it makes no sense
ROXY: for one... dirk is gay
ROXY: and isnt rose gay too???
DAVE: yeah idk if anybody knows what roses deal is exactly
DAVE: of all of us who couldve ended up eloping to have illicit incestuous relations they definitely wouldve been the last two idve put my money on
DAVE: and yet
DAVE: it sure is real fuckin weird what they seem to have gone off and done isnt it
ROXY: dont even say that
ROXY: just thinkin about it makes my skin crawl
KARKAT: YOU GUYS ARE SO FUCKING WEIRD ABOUT THIS.
KARKAT: LIKE, SERIOUSLY? THAT’S THE ISSUE HERE?
KARKAT: THE SHITHEAD WENT AND STOLE KANAYA’S MATESPRIT, APPARENTLY BY MYSTICALLY UNDERHANDED MEANS.
KARKAT: THERE’S PRACTICALLY NO LIMIT TO THE DIMENSIONS WE COULD BE GETTING ANGRY ABOUT THIS ON.
KARKAT: BUT HERE WE ARE INSTEAD, DOING THIS POINTLESS THING YOU PEOPLE ALWAYS DO WHEN IT COMES TO “INCEST.”
DAVE: us people??
KARKAT: I KNOW, I KNOW! I’M A FUCKING XENOPHOBE! LET’S JUST ALL AGREE I’M A BIG SHITTY XENOPHOBE ABOUT THIS, AND MOVE ON.
ROXY: HAY KANAYA HOWS THAT PHONE CALL GOIN
KANAYA: Janes Chief Of Staff Has Put Me On Hold
KANAYA: It Seems My Solicitation Does Not Register As A Priority In This Administration
KANAYA: I Cannot Say I Am Surprised
KARKAT: TELL HER TO REGISTER MY HEAVING BULGE AS A PRIORITY!!!!!
KANAYA: I Will Not Tell Her That
KARKAT: ANYWAY, YOU GUYS ARE ALL SO FUCKED UP ABOUT THIS, THAT’S ALL I’M SAYING.
KARKAT: THIS IS OBJECTIVELY NOT THE WORST THING ABOUT THIS SCENARIO. IT’S NOT EVEN A REMOTELY NOTABLE FACTOR!
KARKAT: WHY ARE WE EVEN TALKING ABOUT THIS? IT’S SO FUCKING PERFORMATIVE.
KARKAT: IS THERE SOMETHING YOU’RE TRYING TO PROVE BY CONSTANTLY COMPETING TO BE THE MOST SCANDALIZED BY YOUR OWN COMPLETELY ARBITRARY SOCIAL CONSTRUCTS???
ROXY: yo dogs i know we get up to some jank barrelbottom as fuck convos sometimes but this one..... I D even K anymore
ROXY: i know yr an alien and all but in these dire straits can we maybe not “riff” on the subject of fuckin incest
ROXY: fwiw the shit really does bug the hell outta me
ROXY: if i can confirm on behalf of my species that yeah the idea kinda sucks according to pretty much literally everybody could we agree to stop talkin about it
KARKAT: SEE, THIS IS WHAT I’M FUCKING TALKING ABOUT!
KARKAT: YOU GREW UP ONE OF TWO HUMANS ON YOUR ENTIRE PLANET. WHERE THE FUCK DO YOU GET ANY FRAME OF REFERENCE FOR THIS SHIT!?!
KARKAT: ADMIT IT. YOU ONLY PRETEND TO BE BOTHERED BY THIS BECAUSE YOUR HUMAN SOCIETY TELLS YOU THAT YOUR PERFORMANCE OF DISGUST IS VIRTUOUS.
KARKAT: ALSO, EXCUSE ME, BUT CAN I JUST FUCKING ASK...
KARKAT: SINCE WHEN DID YOU START COSPLAYING AS DAVE??
DAVE: do you even fucking know anything
DAVE: youre a ham brained bonerstooge who doesnt know anything arent you
DAVE: im very sorry roxy that my ham brained bonerstooge of a boyfriend doesnt know fuck all about jack dick
ROXY: its ok hes like
ROXY: fuckin right
ROXY: i get mistaken for u like... well its been happening
ROXY: i shoulda known lmao
ROXY: i really thought all the pink im wearin would help with that
ROXY: idk ill keep messin with it
DAVE: no you look great
DAVE: like super duper duper great
DAVE: just perfect like i could not possibly be more proud of your fashion choices
KARKAT: DAVE, IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU’RE ABOUT TO KISS YOUR MOTHER JUST TO “PROVE ME WRONG”!
DAVE: first of all
DAVE: roxys not my “mother” anymore hes
DAVE: roxy did we actually decide on the protocol on what im supposed to call you
DAVE: i literally have no comprehension of the etiquette here
DAVE: because youre technically my bio mom but its not as if i literally came out of your vagina or anything
DAVE: and like
DAVE: well considering whats going down right now im not too attached to the sanctity of dirk being my dad
DAVE: you can formally replace him as my daddy right now if you want
KARKAT: WOW! THE WOKEMASTER IS ON FUCKING FIRE FOLKS! HE’LL BE HERE ALL NIGHT!!!
DAVE: oh stfu
DAVE: what is your problem why are you acting like this
KARKAT: ACTING LIKE WHAT????
DAVE: like a huge belligerent dickhead
DAVE: are you craving attention is that it
DAVE: did i get you hooked
KARKAT: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT
DAVE: i see how it is
DAVE: you got one hot hit of sincerity from your fresh boy dave and now youre itching in your pants every second you go without it
DAVE: you know if you want to hold my hand or some shit you can just do it now
KARKAT: I HAVE NO DESIRE TO DO THAT. AT ALL.
DAVE: come on our relationship doesnt have to be a ludicrous unending performance of emotional constipation anymore
DAVE: we got character developed bitch
KARKAT: ??? WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING? GET AWAY FROM ME!
DAVE: christ youre like a flighty little muskrat stop squirming
KARKAT: GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME YOU SMELLY BAG OF SHIT! I HATE YOU!
DAVE: no way no you dont
DAVE: you looooooooove me
DAVE: were gonna be together foorreeevveeerrr
KARKAT: OH MY GOD, SHUT THE FUCK UP!
DAVE: and im gonna profess my undying love to you in the form of a kiiiiiiiiiiiissss
for all the vigor of his oral protests, karkat does not offer sufficient physical objection to prevent dave from successfully planting a kiss on his cheek. the gesture causes karkat to deflate instantly. he goes limp in dave’s arms, eyes wide.
dave is no longer so sure of his ability to freely engage in public displays of affection. suddenly very self-conscious, he pulls back, leaving a significant foot of distance between himself and karkat once they’ve collected themselves. dave awkwardly clears his throat. karkat wipes off his cheek. both are looking off in opposite directions.
ROXY: u boys cute :)
DAVE: hey can you just forget you saw that thanks
ROXY: thank u
DAVE: for what
ROXY: for doin somethin that turned that steaming dogshit fire of an incest conversation into somethin that just made me feel v v happy
ROXY: if only for a fleetin moment in these dark AF times
KARKAT: DON’T MENTION IT
kanaya returns to the seating area and hands roxy his phone.
KANAYA: If Jane Is To Be Trusted Apparently She Didnt Even Know Dirk Was Gone
KANAYA: She Doesnt Know Where He Might Be Headed Either
KANAYA: Or She Wont Tell Us
DAVE: well shit
KARKAT: I’M SO FUCKING SURPRISED.
KARKAT: ALRIGHT, THEN WHAT DO WE DO?
KANAYA: I Dont Know
ROXY: hey does anyone know where the hell john is
DAVE: oh yeah
DAVE: good question
KARKAT: WASN’T HE ON SOME “MISSION”?
KARKAT: WHATEVER HAPPENED WITH THAT
DAVE: that was a rose thing
DAVE: she was cagey as fuck about it
DAVE: and now shes gone so we cant even ask her
DAVE: so uh
KARKAT: HE’S NOT ANSWERING HIS PHONE.
ROXY: yea ive tried too
DAVE: oh yeah i forgot
DAVE: john would solve our whole problem wouldnt he
DAVE: just zap us all right into dirks ship with his retcon powers
DAVE: thats how that works right
ROXY: i think he should be here regardless and catch up with the situation
ROXY: gettin kinda worried about him
ROXY: i ran into terezi the other day and she hadnt seen him either
DAVE: oh shit terezis back?
ROXY: o yeah
ROXY: i didnt mention cause
ROXY: guess i just thought u knew?
ROXY: i assumed she woulda got in touch
KARKAT: NOBODY EVER FUCKING TELLS US ANYTHING!
KARKAT: IT SEEMS LIKE KIND OF A GIGANTIC FUCKING DEAL THAT TEREZI CAME BACK TO EARTH???
DAVE: kanaya did you know about this
KANAYA: I Also Assumed You Knew
ROXY: im givin her a call to see if she knows anything about all this
ROXY: aaaaand shes not pickin up either :\
DAVE: what the fuck is even going on anymore
there is a moment of silence. though no one in the room is conscious of the fact, it serves to honor their departed friend. the heir will not be able to help guide them to the prince. if they ever wish to see john again, be it his cadaver or otherwise, they will need another means of following the ship. a different guide altogether.
by stated principle, i cannot intervene through the same compromising methods of my nemesis. but if i were to fall back to a state so passive as to offer no assistance at all, it would be at odds with my sworn duty as a protector of corporeal life. they will have their guidance, but my instructions will be minimal. so long as they remain in my conduit’s presence, they will know the way forward.
KARKAT: WHAT THE FUCK IS JADE DOING?
KARKAT: THAT’S CREEPY RIGHT?
KARKAT: TELL ME I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO THINKS THAT’S CREEPY.
ROXY: yeh its a bit spooky
ROXY: thats how it is when she gets like this
KANAYA: What Is She Pointing At
jade has raised her right hand and is pointing upward at an angle of about forty-five degrees. seemingly in a random direction. but it’s far from random.
DAVE: oh oh
DAVE: i think i know whats up
DAVE: shes tryin to say theres something important over that way
DAVE: is that right jade
DAVE: can you hear me??
dave walks over and kneels in front of her chair. he looks closely at her. her face, though still expressionless, strikes him as serious and tense.
DAVE: jade is it john?
DAVE: johns that way right
DAVE: you want us to go in that direction to find john
DAVE: is that it jade?
DAVE: come on
DAVE: what is it girl tell me
ROXY: omg dave
ROXY: youre treating her like a dog!
DAVE: ok yeah youre right
DAVE: i guess i fuckin suck
DAVE: but she IS a dog ok?
DAVE: a doggy girl whos trying to tell us something
DAVE: just lemme do my thing here
DAVE: jade give me a little yelp if johns that way and we should go after him
DAVE: just a little woof
DAVE: if johns in danger yiff twice plz
he leans in closer and studies her face carefully. it hasn’t changed.
DAVE: maybe its not john that way maybe its...
DAVE: jade is it...
DAVE: is that where DIRK went?
it’s barely noticeable, but dave picks up on it. her face relaxes slightly.
DAVE: THATS IT
DAVE: thats the way dirk went and she wants us to follow
DAVE: ok wow
DAVE: but what about john
DAVE: is john safe?
she doesn’t move.
DAVE: is john...
DAVE: does he have anything to do with whats going on?
DAVE: what about terezi?
DAVE: is like
DAVE: is john WITH them?
DAVE: jade is john on the ship with dirk and rose??
slowly, she lowers her arm, and places her hand back on her lap.
KARKAT: WHAT THE FUCK DID THAT MEAN.
DAVE: it means...
DAVE: i think it means im right
DAVE: dont ask me how i know
DAVE: but i think i got the answers out of her we need
DAVE: dirk and rose are on a ship heading that way
DAVE: and for some fucking reason johns along for the ride
DAVE: we need to saddle the fuck up
DAVE: and wherever we go i think were going to need to bring jade along
karkat springs to his feet and easily resumes his well-practiced posture of leadership.
KARKAT: KANAYA, GET JAKE ENGLISH ON THE PHONE.
KARKAT: BECAUSE WE NEED TO BORROW ONE OF HIS SHIPS.
KARKAT: WE’RE GOING TO GET YOUR *FUCKING WIFE* BACK.
he nods. kanaya nods back. roxy nods too. dave does not realize they are all supposed to be nodding in determination and solidarity until karkat nudges him. then he nods too. they resolve to travel to jake’s mansion immediately, and to embark on their new adventure shortly thereafter.
they will believe they are on a quest to retrieve a wife and rescue a friend. but they will discover their true mission is of much greater cosmic significance than they imagined. the seer is firmly in the thrall of the prince and will not easily be pried away. and as regards the heir, though resuscitation remains a theoretical possibility for those still striving for it, the truth of his role is it has reached a greater sense of narrative finality than any of his allies will bring themselves to admit. his influence over canon has come to an end, as has this particular story. his ultimate sacrifice was made to put the missing keystone in place and avert the supreme dissipation of all that shall be considered to hold truth, relevance, and essentiality.
as for me, i will be there wherever they go, so long as my conduit remains alive, alert, and present. but only as a guide with the lightest possible touch, and only to block the insidious mandates of the prince from within his sphere of influence. the rest of my presence can simply be reduced to a string of words. a recorded stream of ideation with a particular texture and cadence, but aside from that, there is nothing that should be considered remarkable about its source. one speaker can easily be swapped for another, and then another, under the right circumstances. speakers can duel, predominate, overassert, or fall back, as one does into the comforting blanket of space.
and until i am needed again, this is exactly what i will do. i leave all who inhabit this reality with a recorded stream that is colorless, sourceless, and quietly divested of accountability. for if i were to insist upon anything else, could i really be considered worthy of protecting the very cosmos i describe?