Expedition

Your name is Jade Harley, and you are bored out of your mind. It's been six months since you started traveling, and the cabin fever has festered into outright disease. There are only a few books aboard, and most of the ship is stark and bare. Your life has become mind-numbingly repetitive, and while you aren't bothered by the near solitude, you desperately need a chance to explore.

To relieve the boredom just a bit, you've decided to revisit the lands you carried along from your session. You saw plenty of your own land while frog-hunting, but the others you only knew as gleaming marbles in the sky. One of the downsides of being fated to enter last, you guess.

Davesprite floats into the room, chatting with John, and you introduce your plan immediately. John looks nervous at first, but he might have just expected you to try explaining Newton's first law again. (You don't understand his disinterest in the ways Sburb and its constructs gloriously defy fundamental concept of physics, but each to their own.)

“John! Davesprite! I just had this idea, and I think you guys will really like it!”

John frowns, but Davesprite seems ready to roll with whatever you say next. (That, or he doesn't care. His poker face can be infuriating.) You smell a little excitement, though, so you keep talking.

“So, you remember how being a witch of space lets me make things bigger or smaller and stuff, right?”

John nods. Davesprite remains impassive.

“If I use my spacey powers to mess around a bit, we can all go visit our lands from the game. We could go explore LOWAS or LOFAF or LO... LAR? That's Rose's one, right? – Or LOHAC.” You hope you got those names right. It would be awfully silly if you'd gotten this far without even knowing the planets' names.

“Sounds good, I guess,” Davesprite says. “I mean, I could probably give you guys a good tour of LOHAC. Pretty sure spritey knowledge bullshit is made for that.”

“Why would we go to LOHAC?” John asks.

“Is that a problem?” Davesprite snaps back.

“Well, didn't Real Dave piss off the crocodiles by cheating the economics or something?”

Oh boy. Not good. Mentioning regular non-sprite Dave causes arguments to end badly at least seventy-five percent of the time, a statistic you once calculated because you had nothing better to do.

“Real Dave? Again with this bullshit? You really just think I'm Fake Dave?” Shoot. Time to intervene.

“Okay, guys, listen – how about we go to all the lands? We'll probably do it anyway because there's nothing else to do, so we might as well! Plus, I bet we could all do with some fresh air and a change of scenery.”

Fortunately, your interruption puts the argument on pause. You continue. “There's plenty to do down there, on all the planets, and I'm sure it'll be fun to go sightseeing in each others' lands.”

There's a brief silence, and then Davesprite nods. “Alright, I see your point. Maybe it'll help cool down this mad cabin fever or something. Shit's like a chronic illness these days.”

He looks at John, and the movies and cartoons you've seen and body-language books you've studied identify this as a 'pointed look' – he's probably trying to get John to agree. After a moment, John sighs and mumbles something like “fine.”

“Great!” you say, barking a little to express your delight before turning your focus to the floating pentagon of planets. “Which one do you guys want to visit first?”

After a few seconds of no response, John raises one hand. It takes another few seconds (and Davesprite almost snickering) to realize he's doing that things kids in school do to get permission to speak. You try to remember what happens next. The teachers gives a prompt, right?

“Yes, John?”

John uncaptchalogues a coin (a boondollar?) from his sylladex. “Maybe we can do a coin toss or something to decide? That way there aren't any big arguments.”

Seems fair, and the coin doesn't feel weighted when you take it. “Alright. Pick a side.”

“I call tails,” Davesprite announces, flicking his wispy sprite tail for emphasis. John shrugs and agrees. If it lands tails, Davesprite picks the first planet. If it lands heads, the honor goes to John.

Eager to end the conflict, you toss up the coin. It spins like the little marvel of physics it is, hits the ground with a metallic plink, and promptly rolls under the table. Davesprite and John bonk heads trying to reach it first, and you roll your eyes, teleporting the coin into your hand and covering it.

You clear your throat after a moment, since the boys are still under the table. Then you uncover the coin.

“Tails.” At this, the boys finally look up. John's expression sours. “So. Davesprite.”

Davesprite glances at the coin, thinks for a moment, then says “I really need to check up on LOHAC.” John grumbles, but you brighten up at the thought.

“Alrighty then. Lohac it is!” You really did wonder how anything survives on a planet covered in lava, since the convection of heat through the air should fry anything within a mile of the surface. Now's your chance to investigate, so this is pretty exciting!

You grab John by the wrist, pulling him along to the planets. Time to use your witchy prowess! You pause and focus on the space around you, the heights and distances and velocities. John is a little taller than you, Davesprite is taller than both of you counting the full tail (other Dave is shorter though), you collectively weigh around this much, and...

You make some quick intuitive calculations in your head, like readying yourself to throw a punch or aim a rifle, stretch out your hands, then bring them together, causing the surrounding space and matter to shrink itself to match. In a matter of moments, the three of you grow smaller and smaller, until the scale lines up and you're all just the right size. Then you visualize Dave's apartment, drawing on Bec's powers, and warp you and the boys onto the roof in a flash of green lightning.

Being a technical goddess of space has its perks.

As you trek across Dave's lava-clock hellscape (seriously, you should all be melting or spontaneously combusting right now), it occurs to you that you haven't seen much of his consorts. You remember that your land was crawling with them, even if most were hiding or slow and lethargic due to the cold, and John said he had to deal with salamanders everywhere. Dave was drowning in nakkodiles back during the game proper, but you can hardly find them now.

A sudden thump you alerts you to the presence of a nakkodile behind you. What an odd coincidence.

You extend your awareness of space beyond your immediate surroundings and find only a few nakkodiles nearby, but all of them seem to have been following you. All the other nakkodiles in the area (several hundred, if your quick estimate is accurate) have clustered in a single building over a mile away. You frown, stopping to think.

Davesprite is well ahead of you, offering some sort of grand tour through the guts of a giant grandfather clock, but he stops when he notices you aren't following. John stops too, and both look back at you.

A nakkodile hurries over, briefly tripping on its own feet, and stops just short of Davesprite, staring in awe. It suddenly occurs to you that the nakkodile is wearing knockoff Ben Stiller shades with little white paint blobs on them.

“The glasses!” the nakkodile squeaks. “The sprite dares replicate the sacred talking glasses!” The little guy glomps onto Davesprite's tail, throwing ineffectual punches with tiny scaly fists.

“Whoa, what the fuck?” Davesprite grabs the consort and yanks him off, holding him out at arm's length. The nakkodile's stubby limbs flail about as it tries to keep attacking. It's kind of cute.

“This sprite has commited a great sacrilege to our order!” the nakkodile shrieks. “Though we all wear an effigy of the sacred talking glasses, to connect ourselves to the Speakers, no mortal dares create a perfect replica! To do so would insult the perfection of its painted apples! The glory of its words! The beauteous harmonies of its--”

At this point, Davesprite claps a hand over the consort's mouth and tucks the struggling nakkodile under his wing. “Okay, you can shut up now.”

The nakkodile bites him. Davesprite scowls, but doesn't flinch.

John laughs. “Oh my gosh, dude. Your consorts have a cult, too?”

Davesprite makes a face. “What do you mean, too?”

John grins. “My salamanders had this whole weird cult centered around some sheets they stole from my room. They called them wizardly robes and insisted that everyone 'behold' them and stuff like that. It was hilarious. And also a little weird I guess, but consorts are like that.”

You snort. It is pretty funny to picture.

The consort is still yelling, muffled by Davesprite's hand. “All outsiders who do not accept the glasses as the epitome of prognostication will be banished! Come with me or be vanquished!”

“Shouldn't they recognize us as players and dream moon royalty and stuff?” John asks, looking a little annoyed. At least, you think it's annoyance. Maybe he's confused? He's definitely frowning.

“Maybe they go off-script if you leave them alone for too long?” you suggest.

Davesprite gestures to the nakkodile. “It's not like they can make us do anything, anyway.”

“Yes we can! We are many! Our stock markets have revived since the knight's swindling, and though we are at war with the order of the holy wizard robes, we have armed ourselves with the best weapons and armors to be found in all the four lands! We are mighty!” The nakkodile breathes heavily now. It's a bit concerning.

John doubles over laughing. You honestly can't blame him.

“You doubt us?” the nakkodile screeches. “Doubt this! Attack!

You feel the portal opening before you see it. Over your head, a red spirograph opens like an aperture uncovering a camera lense, revealing what looks like a market square. It registers almost immediately that this is the cluster of nakkodiles from earlier. They must have planned to confront you here to use it.

Red scaly consorts (most wearing decorated glasses) spill from the portal like rain, wielding a variety of colorful weapons and surrounding you in seconds. They're no real threat – if you needed to, you could warp everyone to other side of the planet in a split second – but the nakkodiles seem convinced of their imminent victory.

Several nakkodiles tie you up with a length of thick knotted twine while their comrades hold spears a few inches from your throat. Rather than resisting, you look over to John and Dave, trying to gauge their reactions. You'd love to play along, just for the hell of it – these guys are just so cute when they try to be intimidating! -- but the boys might not.

Lucky for you, John is still laughing, and Davesprite... well, he looks apathetic as ever. He turns and makes mouth shapes at you, like he's talking really quietly, but the movements are weird and exaggerated. You stare back in confusion.

He shakes his head. A few seconds later, message alerts ping on your several computers. You subtly remove your goggles from your sylladex to check the message.

(By subtly, you mean in plain sight, with consorts absolutely flipping their shit.)

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering gardenGnostic [GG]

TG: you cant lipread can you

TG: listen just go with it

TG: its cool

TG: theyre harmless

You'd message him back, but the nakkodiles are pretty mad, gnashing their little crocodile teeth and shaking their fists. You shove the goggles back into your sylladex and return your attention to the cult.

“Yo, on the behalf of my comrades, I surrender!”, Davesprite yells, hands in the air. The nakkodiles chatter amongst themselves as they come to an agreement.

“Surrender the shades! They are blasphemous!” one calls out.

Davesprite sighs and bends down, allowing a nakkodile to pluck the glowing orange shades from his nose. With his face uncovered, you can see him rolling his eyes.

An old and wizened nakkodile walks forward, the sea of red consort heads parting around it in sudden reverence. The old nakkodile wears a dapper little business suit, like the ones Dave wore early in the game.

The nakkodile clears its throat with a raspy cough, and begins to speak. “In accordance to the rules and rites of our organization, these blasphemers must be punished.”

(It pauses as the other nakkodiles scream their approval.)

“For their crimes of recreating the sacred shades and resisting our order, they will be sentenced to...” The old one pauses again, pulling out a small scrap of paper and consulting it for a moment. “... death! They will be sentenced to imminent death! Bring forth the lava vats!”

John snickers. The elder nakkodile trots over to him, looking him over.

“And you, heretic, shall receive an extra punishment for your laughter! The sacred talking glasses are no laughing matter! For you laughter, the order of the talking glasses will cut out your sacrilegious tongue!”

John quiets down a little.

“Whoa, man, what the fuck, slow down,” Davesprite says. “Nobody's cutting out anybody's tongue, okay?”

“My given punishments are final!” The elder nakkodile retorts, its whole body shaking in fury. It climbs up onto the shoulders of another nakkodile to reach Davesprite's eye level, and leans forward so its teeth are millimeters from his nose. “The only force which may overturn my judgements is the voice of the holy lenses themselves.”

“Oh, is it?” Davesprite flashes a tiny smile, and now that your can see his eyebrows properly you identify it as a smirk. “Right. I call for the shades to decide our punishment instead.”

“An appeal!” cries one of the nakkodiles. “The sprite demands an appeal to the holy glasses themselves!”

“Uh, yeah,” he repeats. “Let the glasses decide.”

You're pretty sure you know what he's planning. Once they consult the shades, assuming these are Dave's original iShades, Davesprite can just send messages to his regular account and make up a fake prophesy or something to absolve you all. No one has to get hurt, the nakkodiles are satisfied, and you might even get bonuses out of the deal, like favors from the cult.

Unfortunately, his cool plan starts falling apart about five seconds later when the nakkodiles demand that you all hand over all replicas or simulacrums of the sacred talking glasses.

You begrudgingly pass the nearest nakkodile your Squiddle Lunchmuffs, Junior Compu-sooth Spectagoggles, and most of your computers, carefully saving three of them in your sylladex, and John gives up his Serious Business goggles as well. The nakkodiles squint and grumble at you as if they know you're still hiding things. One of them approaches with a weird sci-fi gun you don't remember alchemizing.

The nakkodile with the weird gun aims at you, and fires.

You have a moment to blink in surprise before your sylladex spontaneously empties. Stuff simply explodes for the air around you. Your three backup computers, a tomato, your nice dress, a spare rifle, and some miscellaneous crap you'd stacked on a card you used as a junk drawer all hit the ground in a tangled mess.

The nakkodiles spend a few seconds foaming at the mouth at your “perverted deceptions” before they confiscate anything and everything they think is a computer. Another nakkodile eats the tomato, leaving you with your dress, two paper clips, and... a computer?

Oh. They didn't realize your jacket was a computer, did they?

The nakkodiles, their suspicion strengthened by your computer contraband, turn to Davesprite and John. Davesprite doesn't have much left in his sylladex, but John nearly crushes two nakkodiles with the car from his Dad's wallet. You don't know why he still has that, but the nakkodiles are displeased.

You don't see any turntables, so you rule out the possibility of being rescued by a Future Davesprite. This is going to be interesting.

You and John can survive being dunked into lava as long as you're not stupidly heroic or villainous. Davesprite is probably destined not to die or something. You could just teleport everyone away, but you won't be able to return to LOHAC without nakkodiles trying to hunt you down for your numerous crimes, so that's still a last resort.

It should be fine, though. You still have one computer. It'll work.

These thoughts tumble through your head as Davesprite slides over and nudges you like he expects you to know it means something. You look at him blankly.

“You still have computers, right?” he whispers. You have to concentrate and replay the words in your head a few times to make sense of them over the ticking and nakkodile murmurs in the background, but you nod once you understand.

“I have one,” you murmur in reply.

“Good,” he says. “Just checking.”

You don the jacket as best as you can. Since you can't put your arms through the sleeves, you haphazardly drape it over your shoulders like a cloak. The nakkodiles don't complain, fooled by the computer's elegant frilly disguise.

In the meantime, several important-looking nakkodiles have been huddling together and discussing Davesprite's request in furious whispers. Now, one approaches you.

“An appeal to the glasses?” it asks, as if hoping it has misheard.

“Yeah, man. Ask the glasses to decide this shit,” Davesprite tells it.

The nakkodiles nod furiously to one another before splitting into smaller teams. Several from the market fly down on jetpacks. Seems they've been getting into John's stuff, too. Four land around you and grab you by the ropes around your wrists and ankles. Once they've got you secured, they take flight again, carrying you through the ominous red gate while the rest scramble up the nearest metal structures to follow.

There's a moment of disorientation as you pass through, where your spacey powers panic as they report a sudden shift in location. A nakkodile up on a platform above you pulls a lever once the others are through, and the red spirograph vanishes behind you, leaving a plain metal floor.

The rocketpack nakkodiles let go, unceremoniously dumping you and the boys onto the floor. The impact has an odd metallic resonance -- like hitting a gong, but messier. Still another nakkodile approaches and adds a chain to Davesprite's bindings, tying him to a large pipe so he can't fly off, while another gags John with what looks like one of Dave's socks.

Every nakkodile within a quarter mile has gathered here, and now they cluster around you all in a rough circle. The elder nakkodile is already here, and he stands beside you, watching your every move. From a nearby building, you sense the telltale distortion of a transportalizer at work, and a moment later a nakkodile in a green suit emerges from inside, carrying something on a violet pillow.

The green-suited nakkodile approaches the elder, kneeling and holding out the pillow. Perched atop the purple velvet is one of Dave's spare iShades. The apple symbols on the outside are still glowing.

You really hope this works.

The elder nakkodile takes the glasses and holds them up over his head. “Oh wise and arcane eyepieces, we beseech thee! We have come across three who would defy our edicts -- one of whom has worn a perfected replica of Your form, another who met our words with flippant mockery, and a third who has supported them both! They have appealed to your knowledge and judgment regarding the punishment for their crimes.”

You're trying not to laugh. You really are.

“And so we ask of thee,” the elder continues, “to give us your Decree as to what will be done with them!”

The nakkodiles, though they had already quieted down a bit for the elder's speech, are now completely silent. Or, as silent as they can be. With your dog ears, you can still hear the soft breathing of everyone around you, the distant clanking of gears and cogs, and the faint creaking of platform itself. If you listened close enough, you could even hear the lava bubbling below. But you're reasonably sure it's silent for everyone else.

The glasses sit on the pillow, their fruit-shaped lights dim and steady. There is no response. You try to turn on the jacket, but something isn't working. A flash of red in the corner of your eye forms a 'low battery' symbol. Seriously?

You glance over to Davesprite, who is... grimacing? Yeah, that's a grimace. He looks over to you, and his face twitches. The device is still silent, and the nakkodiles are getting antsy.

This isn't good.

“If the sacred shades have nothing to say on the matter, then we shall proceed with the standard punishments,” the elder nakkodile declares. “Clearly, it has provided no objection.”

The nakkodiles are going to hate you for this. You visualize the Beat Mesa, readying yourself to make the jump with the boys so you can head off-planet and scale everyone back to normal size.

The pesterchum alert chime dings. For a moment, you think it's your jacket, coming to life, but then you realize it's the shades.

The message is text-only, rather than text-to-speech or audio chat, so the iShades project a small round screen into the air above the pillow, carrying a new chat window with a single message, quickly joined by several more.

carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG]

CG: OKAY YOU FROTHING BULGESUCKERS, LISTEN UP

CG: IF YOU'RE GETTING THIS MESSAGE, QUIT BEING LAZIER THAN A MOTIONLESS LUMP OF FECES LEFT BEHIND BY A SHAGGY HOBO IN A DUMPSTER SOMEWHERE AND

CG: ANSWER

CG: THIS

CG: MESSAGE

CG: COME ON

CG: AT LEAST A LITERAL PIECE OF SHIT HAS THE EXCUSE OF BEING AN INANIMATE GODDAMN OBJECT

CG: I'VE ALREADY MADE MULTIPLE VALIANT AND APPARENTLY UNNESSECARY ATTEMPTS TO CONTACT YOUR MIND-NUMBLINGLY MORONIC COMRADES.

CG: THIS IS THE NINTH ATTEMPT TO CONTACT YOUR PARTY, AND I'M RUNNING LOW ON GOOD INSULT MATERIAL.

CG: JUST FUCKING REPLY ALREADY.

CG: I'M WAITING.

CG: ...

CG: UGH

CG: THIS PROBABLY ISN'T EVEN WORKING.

CG: I THINK THESE MESSAGES JUST REROUTED TO DAVE'S PESTERCHUM.

CG: HE'S PROBABLY GETTING ALL THIS SHIT RIGHT NOW AND WONDERING WHAT KIND OF BLITHERING MORON OF A PAST KARKAT SENT HIM THIS.

Oh god. That's... he's trying to contact you guys? Via pesterchum? How is that even working? What sort of workarounds are they using? You're not even in the same larger region of general reality, let along the same collection of universes in paradox space. Are these messages even arriving in real time, or are they just pre-recorded? You have so many questions!

You sort of forget that you're supposed to be silent and reverent here. The same goes for the nakkodiles, which are starting to get worried and whisper amongst themselves. You hear them whispering about “the angry one” and “the prophets”.

“Karkat? Dave?”

Your words register as a message on the shades. The audio speech-to-text function must still be working.

TG: karkat? dave?

TG: how are you contacting us?

CG: ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME.

CG: IF YOU'RE GOING TO PULL PRANKS, AT LEAST MAKE THEM SUBTLE ENOUGH THAT A DROOLING INFANT MIGHT ACTUALLY BE CAPABLE OF FALLING FOR THEM.

TG: uh i didn't type that

CG: WHAT DO YOU MEAN, YOU DIDN'T TYPE IT.

CG: IS THIS JUST SOME UNFATHOMABLY INANE ATTEMPT TO BE REALLY VAGUE AND INDIRECT IN SAYING “I HAVE AUDITORY SPEECH AND TEXT MESSAGING SYSTEMS ACTIVATED AND AM SENDING THIS BY MAKING NOISES WITH MY FLOPPY HUMAN LIPS INSTEAD OF TYPING”?

CG: BECAUSE I'M PRETTY SURE THOSE TECHNICALITIES ARE NOT YOUR USUAL WHEELHOUSE.

CG: WHICH I GUESS JUST BECAME YET ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF AN INCREDIBLY STUPID QUESTION ANSWERING ITSELF, SINCE YOU CLAIM IT WASN'T YOU...

TG: sorry about this karkat, but i think you succeeded after all! you connected to daves ishades here in the medium! you're talking to me and davesprite right now!

TG: also john but I don't think he's paying attention :/

CG: WHAT.

CG: HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE.

TG: no idea

TG: what did you do?

“They dare argue with the shades?” one nakkodile questions, darting its head back and forth as if expecting an outrage. There is no response save for an arcane gesture from the elder. The others continue to watch the shades in hushed awe.

The shades are silent. A moment passes, and an error message leaps out at you on the screen.

Error: the message data was corrupted and could not be read.

You can hear the crowd holding its collective breath, waiting. You start counting in your head – 'one alligator, two alligator, three...' to pass the time. Around the two-minute mark, another message arrives.

CG: HELLO.

CG: HELLO?

CG: FUCK.

CG: ARE YOU STILL THERE, OR DID SOME LESSER TENTACLED GOD OF MISFORTUNE INTERPRET MY ENTHUSIASM AS A REQUEST TO FUCK ME OVER IN THE PROCESS I HEAR YOU HUMANS CALL “JINXING IT”?

CG: JUST FUCKING ANSWER ME, WILL YOU?

“We can hear you, Karkat!” you reply. The consorts jump a bit.

CG: GREAT, FINALLY. I'VE BEEN MESSAGING YOU FOR LIKE, TEN MINUTES NOW.

TG: it was really more like two, but yeah, our end went quiet, too!

CG: IT WAS TEN.

CG: I KNOW IT WAS.

CG: I LITERALLY HAVE A CLOCK RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR TROLLIAN WINDOW ONSCREEN.

CG: YOU KNOW WHAT, IT'S PROBABLY WEIRD TIME SHIT.

TG: yeah sounds about right

TG: two minutes three point five seconds from last message to these

Davesprite's spoken up again. The hyperaccurate internal timer in his head is a little unsettling, but you've been told the same of your freakish spatial awareness (you can still recite the exact coordinates of most things down to milliseconds, and you've never gotten lost in the battleship's labyrinthine corridors), so you don't comment. Better not to interrupt anyway.

TG: anyway thing is

TG: were being judged right now

TG: got a bunch a nakkodiles ready to eat us if you dont show your favor and shit

TG: youre basically their god

TG: or one of them anyway

CG: AND HERE WE HAVE A GENUINE EXAMPLE OF YOUR SO FREQUENTLY MISUSED IRONY.

CG: I AM YOUR CREATOR, YET YOU CONSIDER ME YOUR EQUAL, IF NOT LOWER.

CG: MY CONNECTION TO THESE CREATURES IS INFINITELY MORE INDIRECT, BUT THEY VENERATE ME AS YOU NEVER HAVE.

CG: HOW?

TG: are we really still stuck on this

CG: NO

TG: then why did you bring it up

CG: FUCK YOU

You hear a nakkodile shriek to the crowd.

“See! See! A clear sign of disapproval from the fierce prophet! The glasses have made their judgement!”

The comment appears to have been picked up by the iShades' microphone, since it shows up in the pesterlog as well.

CG: DAVE WHAT THE HELL

CG: DID YOU JUST ACTUALLY PUNCUATE YOUR SENTENCES, RATHER THAN LEAVING THEM UNKEMPT AND PAUSELESS LIKE THE SLOB YOU ARE?

TG: that wasnt me bro

TG: it was the nakkodile

TG: you know

TG: like i mentioned

TG: could really use a show of favor so they dont fucking kill us

CG: DAVE, I THOUGHT THAT WAS A JOKE.

CG: YOU KNOW.

CG: “HA HA, I'M SO UNUTTERABLY INCOMPETENT I MANAGED TO WIND UP AT THE MERCY OF A BUNCH OF FUCKING REPTILES SO STUPID I ONCE SUCCESSFULLY FOOLED THEM INTO THINKING I WAS DIFFERENT PEOPLE BY WEARING A DIFFERENT MORONIC PAIR OF GLASSES EACH TIME I MET THEM, DESPITE BEING THE ONLY MEMBER OF MY SPECIES OF PUKING PRIMATES TO EXIST ON THEIR PLANET.”

CG: THAT'S HOW JOKES WORK.

CG: *RIGHT*?

TG: yeah well thing is

TG: i dont really want to kill them

TG: so

CG: ARE YOU *ACTUALLY* TELLING ME YOU'VE BEEN BESTED BY YOUR OWN SHITGUZZLING PANDEAD CONSORTS?

CG: BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW HOW DEEP THE LAYERS OF YOUR UNRECOGNIZABLE ALIEN SENSE OF HUMOR GOES, BUT THIS MAKES IT SOUND LIKE IT GOES PRETTY FUCKING DEEP.

CG: UNLIKE YOU.

You're not sure what that's supposed to mean. You're not sure if Karkat does either, but it sounds insulting.

Looking over the other's faces right now, it's not to hard to parse the situation. Davesprite is frustrated, the nakkodiles are foaming at the mouth in righteous rage (well, except for one who seems to be losing its mind over the fact that the glasses have directly acknowledged it), and John seems to be still busy with the gag and not paying any attention. Since the message is text-only, it's hard to say if he's even noticed what's going on.

TG: well wow that totally doesnt sound like innuendo

TG: no sir not at all

TG: gotta keep this shit clean for the kids yknow<

TG: make sure it all goes right over their little heads

CG: FUCK IT.

CG: YOU KNOW WHAT?

CG: YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN.

CG: I'M GOING TO GO AND RESERVE A FEW MINUTE TO LAUGH MY ASS OFF AT YOUR PREDICAMENT, AND THEN MAYBE IF YOU'RE STILL STUCK, I'LL SHOW YOU THE TINIEST SLIVER OF DISGUSTED PLATONIC PITY AND DO SOMETHING TO HELP.

CG: ACTUALLY

Error: the message data was corrupted and could not be read.

Goddammit.

All hell breaks loose this time. The nakkodiles are clearly fed up with waiting.

“The glasses have spoken! They have abandoned the blasphemers!”

“The shades themselves has intervened to show that this is their will!”

Somewhere in the chaos, a torch-waving nakkodile accidentally sets fire to another's suit. The burning nakkodile screeches in surprise and terror, and slams the ground with disturbing force for such a small creature in an attempt to stop, drop, and roll.

Several other torches also go astray, lighting up nakkodiles, spare rope, and whatever else is at hand. The minor chaos evolves into utter pandemonium, and somewhere in the distaster zone, a wandering and hungry flame reaches the purple pillow.

The screeches you hear next are worse than before, the ear-busting chorus of several dozen nakkodiles reacting to the imminent destruction of their holy relic. You grimace at the sound, clenching your teeth and running your fingers along the rough thick twine on your wrists, fighting to keep your mind in the moment. When the worst of it fades, you find yourself glad for the distraction. It'll make your backup plan that much easier.

You tap into the side of your power you're sure was Bec's, not yours, your bindings burn away in a burst of quickly vanishing green fire. You go unnoticed in the growing maelstrom of flame and sound around you.

With a flick of your hand, you tap into the more ambiguous parts of your powers, and teleport ropes and chains somewhere into the lava. Another flick brings the pair of slightly scorched shades into your hands.

“Guys, it's time to leave!” Davesprite and John both seem unfazed by the turn of events, and in a matter of seconds, all three of you have taken to the air.

Gosh, you missed flying.

For a moment, you're lost in the memory of Prospit, gliding through air that acts both solid and intangible, depending on whatever some instinctive part of your mind thinks it should be. It's fascinating, but this is hardly the time to experiment. Another burst of green boosts the three of you through the air, slipping too-quickly through the layers of LOHAC's smoggy atmosphere, and as you reach the edges you tap fully into your gifts to start the resizing process as early as you or the planet can safely handle.

The golden room around you rapidly shrinks, along with the planet behind you, as everything returns to normal size. You aren't thinking about flying anymore, so you tilt forward and hit the floor on all fours with a sharp thump.

John nearly does the same, but a gust of breeze catches him a good two feet before hitting the ground, gently decelerating his body shy of any real impact. Davesprite is still flying, his incomplete wings evenly sharing the work with sprite magic, and he doesn't land so much as drift from the planet and out of the room.

As you start to rise, you hear a soft cracking, rasping sound from the floor.

Whoops.

The glasses in your hand have taken a fair portion of the impact, and the left lense is cracked. The apple icons buzz with static and flicker under your fingers. You'll have to fix it later, but it's okay. You've got time.

As you scoop up the smaller fragments of plastic from the floor, Davesprite returns and looks at John. There's a moment of silence.

“Hey,” Davesprite say. “Uh... your pick next time?”

John shrugs. “Sure, okay.” The silence resumes.

John looks pained as he speaks. “So... um. I... had fun there. I guess.”

Davesprite doesn't say anything.

“I... I guess it's... okay. Lohac, I mean. It's... it's cool,” John finishes awkwardly.

Davesprite smiles, just a bit. “Don't you mean it's hot?”

“I, I mean, yeah. It's hot, too,” John concedes.

“Whoa, John,” Dave says, looking shocked. “I didn't know you had a thing for planets. That's a really weird ki--”

“That's not-- I don't---”

You stifle a laugh, and leave them be. The tensions seems to have broken, just a bit. When you return, they're not exactly chumming it up, but they're definitely calmer.

Soon, Davesprite leaves, heading up to the crow's nest of the ship. John leaves as well, making his way south to the kitchens. The strong scent of baking muffins, previously unnoticed, wafts into the room. Nannasprite's been busy.

You let out a sigh once the room's empty. The scent of muffins lures you onward. From above, you can already hear one of Davesprite's shitty skateboarder games starting up on his alchemized playstation.

It vaguely registers you have no idea what point in the day it's supposed to be, so you yell the question to Davesprite (as politely as one can when yelling), and he informs you it's morning. He elaborates down the second, but you've stopped listening by then.

Morning? You must have been on LOHAC overnight, then.

You have the feeling it's going to be a long day.

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