EPILOGUE EIGHT

Chapter

43

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: mhmm

ROXY: ...

ROXY: yep

ROXY: ...

ROXY: oh yeah

ROXY: for sure

ROXY: you too jake

ROXY: thanks man

ROXY: yeah well let u know what were gonna do

ROXY: later

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: nope

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: phewww...

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

ROXY: YUP

DAVE: rose and fuckin dirk...

DAVE: damn

DAVE: so are they

DAVE: like

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: ????

ROXY: what r u talkin about

DAVE: you know...

DAVE: are they like

DAVE: TOGETHER?

ROXY: what????

DAVE: you know

DAVE: like

KARKAT: WHAT THIS DUMBASS IS ASKING IS IF THEY’RE DOING HUMAN INTERCOURSE ACTIVITIES.

ROXY: oh my god??

DAVE: karkat

DAVE: please

ROXY: omg...

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.”

ROXY: !!!

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: uggghhhh

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: jfc

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.

ROXY: ummmmmmmmmmmmm

ROXY: lmao

ROXY: dude

ROXY: no

KARKAT: ALSO, EXCUSE ME, BUT CAN I JUST FUCKING ASK...

KARKAT: SINCE WHEN DID YOU START COSPLAYING AS DAVE??

DAVE: dude

KARKAT: WHAT?

ROXY: lol

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: CHRIST.

KARKAT: DAVE, IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU’RE ABOUT TO KISS YOUR MOTHER JUST TO “PROVE ME WRONG”!

ROXY: !!

DAVE: first of all

DAVE: roxys not my “mother” anymore hes

DAVE: wait

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

ROXY: ummmmmmmmmm

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

DAVE: cmere

KARKAT: ??? WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING? GET AWAY FROM ME!

DAVE: no

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

KARKAT: NOOO!!!!

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: awwwwwww

ROXY: u boys cute :)

DAVE: hey can you just forget you saw that thanks

ROXY: hehe

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

DAVE: damn

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: maybe???

ROXY: i think he should be here regardless and catch up with the situation

ROXY: gettin kinda worried about him

KARKAT: YEAH.

ROXY: i ran into terezi the other day and she hadnt seen him either

DAVE: oh shit terezis back?

KARKAT: WHAT??

ROXY: o yeah

ROXY: i didnt mention cause

ROXY: guess i just thought u knew?

ROXY: i assumed she woulda got in touch

DAVE: nope

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: Yes

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: UM

KARKAT: WHAT THE FUCK IS JADE DOING?

DAVE: huh

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

ROXY: .....

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

ROXY: DAVE!

DAVE: shhhhhh!

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: RIGHT!

karkat springs to his feet and easily resumes his well-practiced posture of leadership.

KARKAT: KANAYA, GET JAKE ENGLISH ON THE PHONE.

KANAYA: Okay

KANAYA: Why

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?

farewell.

> ==>
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