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Summary: When a person is born, there is no telling where the roads of their lives will take them. What paths will one take? How will one take them? Will their journey end early, or will it extend longer than necessary in a long strain of joy and suffering? Every choice sets you to a certain set of paths, and the choices set you on different roads each time. There’s only one rule.

No redos.

Or are there?


Characters: Kanaya Maryam, Rose Lalonde, Doc Scratch, Dave Strider, Karkat Vantas, Horrorterrors
Ships: Rose<3Kanaya


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General Horrorterror creepiness
Universe Hopping Chaos






“R-rose…I don’t think,” a gurgling sound followed

“No. Please, no, don’t do thi—“

“Rose? Rose??” The question came out barely above a whisper

“I’m fine,” Lies “I’m just a little bit d-dizzy my dearest,” Bigger lies.
The two girls shakily laughed as they breathed breath after breath, each more likely to be their final, as they were suspended in midair by an otherworldly power. Something bigger than the both of them, something they fought nonetheless.

“I love you my sweet Rose.”

“And I love you Kanaya.”

They grasped each other’s hands – it seemed the horrorterrors would allow them at least that- for one last time before the world. No. The universe was twisted inside out, upside down, and folded every way over into something unrecognizable that flung Rose and Kanaya as far away from each other as it possibly could.

---

A lone asari sits in her quarters. Though it was over a hundred years ago she was given birth, it was more recently that she made her name as part of a small team that gave everything to save the galaxy. She's trying to read, but she's thinking, as always, about the one who didn't come back, the greatest hero of all. A powerful human biotic, a soldier who used a shotgun because the military doesn't supply the other great weapon for fighting living corpses, and above all the most absolutely giving person she'd ever known.

Commander Shepard had died once before, and that hadn't stopped her. The asari is about to discard the notion that suggests as uselessly romantic when something pops up on her extranet terminal. The shock causes her to drop the book she's reading, which hits the floor like a corpse. She catches herself, though.

galacticAuxiliatrix (GA) began omnipestering tentacledThessian (TT) at ??:??:?? (ongoing mass relay disruptions may cause irregularities, please contact your extranet service provider for more information)

GA: Hello
GA: Have I Successfully Contacted Doctor Liarose T'Londe
GA: Alias The Shadow Broker
GA: Alias Also Probably Some Really High Rank In Asari Society Now Or Something

TT: ...
GA: Please
GA: If Its You

TT: I just want to know what kind of scum would do this.
GA: What
TT: Kanaya Maryam Shepard was...
TT: Well.
TT: She saved everyone in the galaxy, several times over, so there's that.
TT: She sacrificed herself to end the war with the Horrorterrors, once and for all.
TT: Apparently.
TT: Even I'm not 100% on the details, I'll admit.
TT: Anyway, the point is, yes, it's me. You appear to be aware of my identity, and my resources. Which means you've contacted me knowing how easily I could find out who you are on the other side of this screen.
TT: You may not appreciate precisely how tasteless attempting to imitate the late commander is, but you will soon.

GA: Liarose
GA: Rosie

TT: Oh, now that is interesting.
TT: Did you have surveillance in her quarters? I would have to give you a grudging professional nod if that was the case. I can only think of one other person who could have done that, and I made sure to remove her leads before I even reentered the Normandy.
TT: Or did she drop the nickname at some point, perhaps on the Citadel while shopping around...or was it an educated guess on your part?
TT: Because your gambit had appeared clumsy at first--an attempt to rattle me by using the omnitool key of a close associate, recently killed in action. But the nickname suggests a level of finesse to this attack which I would respect, if it wasn't employed in such an execrable manner.

GA: I Cant Believe I Almost Forgot
GA: What A Pain In The Ass You Could Be
GA: Always Circling Around The Problem
GA: Arriving At Its Core And Every Point Along The Way By A Spiraling Path
GA: Thats One Of The Things I Admired About You
GA: Why I Always Needed You With Me
GA: Both As A Teammate And
GA: And As A

TT: Don't.
TT: You are speaking in a way to which you have no claim.
TT: To which no one has a claim.
TT: No one living, that is.
TT: I'm going to talk to Aria. I'd thought Shepard made a mistake unifying the mercs under her, but I'm starting to see how convenient it is to have someone in charge of that who understands the need to crush someone as thoroughly as I need to crush you.
TT: So how do you prefer your evisceration? Blue Suns, Eclipse or Bloodpack?

GA: This Conversation Isnt Going The Way Id Expected
GA: It Took Me This Long To Pull Myself Together Enough To
GA: Uh
GA: Well You Probably Dont Want To Hear The Details

TT: Oh, no.
TT: Details, gosh.
TT: I certainly wouldn't want to strain the suspension of disbelief demanded by an otherwise utterly plausible conceit.
TT: Why ruin such a good thing with details.

GA: Ok I Was Never Much With Sarcasm But Im
GA: God
GA: Im Sorry I Just
GA: Im Looking Out Through A Dead Mans Eyes
GA: Finally With Enough Direct Fine Motor Control To Manipulate A Terminal
GA: And Then I Run Into The Same Walls I Did Meeting You For The First Time Years Ago

TT: Yes, we met on Therum. I was pissed about how you discovered everything about my field of study by falling ass-backwards into it, then we bonded in the trial by fire that was investigating the Matriarch Beroxia, etc., etc.
TT: I'm sorry, this was, in fact, the part of the conversation where you convince me of who you are by reciting memories we shared in common? Let me know if I'm skipping ahead, here.

GA: You Know What
GA: I Dont Even Care If You Believe Me Anymore
GA: I Just
GA: Need To Tell You
GA: It Doesnt Matter Just Please Listen
GA: I Died
GA: Again
GA: I Know I Promised I Would Always Come Back
GA: And If It Was At All Possible I Would Jump Through The Mass Relays Right Now And Throw Myself At Your Feet
GA: But
GA: Maybe Youre Right
GA: Im Not Kanaya
GA: Not Really
GA: Im Just
GA: Well
GA: You Must Have Been Observing The Unusual Movements Of The Horrorterror Fleet In The Last Few Weeks Yes
GA: Havent You Wondered
GA: The Pattern Seeker Par Excellence Must Surely Have Some Ideas About Whats Directing Them


The implications are too much for Liarose. She steps away from her terminal for a minute and pours herself a glass of Serrice Ice Brandy (the ship's medic, Dr. Crocker, had bought a bottle for Kanaya but insisted that Liarose have it, and she admits that it comes in handy right now). As she sips, the pieces begin to fall into place. Disparate and heretofore inexplicable events in the wake of the first pangalactic war are suddenly illuminated.

All that anyone knew was that the Crucible--an ancient superweapon of decidedly unclear function--had emitted a massive dark energy wave, and immediately afterwards the Horrorterrors and their armies retreated. They had been spotted in distant parts of the galaxy, repairing the mass relays damaged by the Crucible and apparently undoing everything they had done as far as possible, but had taken no offensive action and withdrawn without firing from any attempted engagements.

The theory which comes to her mind almost seems too pat, but it has a certain elegance which is the mark of both the truth, and Kanaya.


TT: Well. I'll admit the change of direction was nice. I did like that they stopped trying to kill us when the Crucible was fired, although it was rather curious that a massive release of dark energy would have that effect.
TT: And when their ships started repairing the mass relays, even better.
TT: When the Horrorterrors started adding to the design, I admit I had concerns. I still do, actually. I can't figure out what the irregular structures they've been building onto the mass relays have to do with it.

GA: Well Nothing Really
GA: I Just Thought That The Designs Were A Little Too Utilitarian

TT: Oh my goddess.
GA: And Uniform For That Matter
GA: Wouldnt Galactic Travel Be A Little Nicer If There Was Some Decoration
GA: Im Working On Additional Coloration But
GA: Even For The Nearly Limitless Resources I Now Command The Logistics Of That Are A Bit Demanding

TT: It's just...
TT: What the fuck.
TT: So the greatest hero in galactic history died, had her consciousness encoded and dispersed by an alien superweapon, and now some aggregate of herself is running the Horrorterrors?

GA: Hmm
GA: You Came Up With That Theory Awfully Quickly

TT: I'd considered something like that early on.
TT: It was a nice little explanation for the portions of the Crucible's schematics that were completely incomprehensible.
TT:But it was just wishful thinking. A childish attempt to avoid having to deal with the grief.
GA: If You Really Think So Little Of Your Ability To Evaluate Things
GA: You Wouldnt Be The Shadow Broker Would You

TT: Okay. Right. Kanaya, if it really is you.
TT: Which is starting to seem increasingly plausible, somehow.
TT: You realize you are in for the most brutal verbal savaging of all time.
TT: I have examined every last piece of graffiti scratched into the side of a building thousands of years ago. The ancient galactic civilizations may be long dead, but the best of their profanity survived like any other relic.
TT: One of my greatest contributions as a researcher was a series of deductions about Prothean anatomy based solely on a lengthy back-and-forth translated from the side of an ancient bathroom.
TT: Like everything else about the ancients, I have hoarded this knowledge away for the day it was finally needed. And when I discover that--oh, hell--the love of my life, yes, I said it, you died, and, you didn't come back like you promised you always would, but you're still out there, then obviously it's time for that.
GA: If I Could Have Come Back I Would
GA: But Then We Would All Be Dead
GA: You Me And Everyone
GA: Your Face Was The Last Thing That Went Through My Mind Before I Fired The Crucible
GA: Im Sorry I Didnt Get A Better Goodbye Than Unceremoniously Sending You Away To Get Medical Attention
GA: Although All Things Considered Its Better Than The Alternative
GA: Anyway I Believe Im Due A Verbal Flaying

TT: Kanaya, I love you.
TT: I miss you so much it hurts.
TT: It's a wound. It's a mass of scar tissue that never goes numb or even really stops the bleeding.
TT: I told myself I would never let myself feel like this again, and I was wrong.
TT: Damn it, I was wrong.


On the other end of the galaxy, the husk through which Kanaya looks and types finds itself racked by convulsions: the attempts of a cybernetically reanimated body to process the overwhelming grief of a soul that now spans the cosmos. Its legs shake off of its body before she reestablishes the motor control uplink.

GA: That Was
GA: Far More Devastating Than Any Recitation Of Prothean Euphemisms Could Be
TT: I don't know. I have a good one about these tubes they have, and what they can obstruct them with.
GA: Rosie
GA: I Love You Too
GA: More Than Anything
GA: If I Could Forsake This And Come Back To You
TT: You wouldn't.
TT: We had that chance before, remember? Just take the ship and fly somewhere where the rest of the galaxy could never find us.
TT: Crash on some uninhabited planet.
TT: Sunbathe a lot, probably.
TT: Rip out the mass effect core that was supposed to save everyone, turn it into a distillery.
GA: Youve Given A Lot Of Thought To This Scenario
TT: Well, it passes the time between discreetly manipulating the galactic economy to try to restore order and filling in the power vacuum Cerberus left behind.
GA: But Yes
GA: I Suppose You Know Me Too Well
GA: The Horrorterrors Did So Much To The Galaxy
GA: Ravaged Planets Killed Billions
GA: The Scope Of It Was Impossible For Me To Comprehend Before
GA: And Now That I Can
GA: I Dont See How I Could Do Anything Less Than The Utmost To Restore It
TT: I can't believe you. Absolute power, and the closest thing to corruption you come is wanting to put glitter on mass relays or something.
GA: Well I No Longer Need To Eat Or Breathe Or Even Sleep
GA: I Dont Face Any Of The Limitations Of The Living
GA: Theres No Need For Me To Compete For Resources In Any Sense
GA: And I Dont See The Various Bizarre Forms I Now Command As Anything Of Intrinsic Value
GA: Well I Will Admit To A Certain Amusement At Controlling Legions Of What Are Essentially The Undead
GA: Although I Intend To Dispose Of Them Soon And Switch To Exclusively Using The Geth Platforms
GA: And Im Careful To Keep Them Out Of Sight Of The Rest Of The Galaxy
GA: But Anyway
GA: The Point Is I Dont Really Need Anything And It Doesnt Seem Quite Right To Compare Me To Those Who Do
TT: Sure.
TT: You're given all the power in the universe and use it to help everyone and you don't even see it as anything special.
TT: By the goddess, I love you.
TT: But you really can't take this all on your own shoulders.
TT: Which is why, like it or not, I will get you back.

GA: Wait
GA: What


Liarose pours herself another glass of brandy, because she can't quite believe what she's about to say.

TT: I mean that your current endeavor is extremely admirable, just like the way you always insisted on solving all your crewmates' problems.
TT: Or the way you managed to mediate literally every longstanding interspecies dispute in the galaxy.
TT: But this time you've taken on too much responsibility on your shoulders.
TT: Which is saying something, because those shoulders regularly handled the recoil on your preposterously overdesigned shotguns.
TT: To say nothing of the time a chitin-covered alien twice your size covered itself with a barrier that deflected all energy and projectiles, and your response was to punch it in the face and then overpower it with pure brute force.
TT: Regardless, this is too much for you.
TT: Suppose you restore the galaxy to the condition it was in before the war. What then?
GA: Well
GA: Mostly I Would Prevent Wars From Breaking Out
GA: Shut Down Pirates And Slavers Before They Could Get Started By Providing An Escort
GA: That Sort Of Thing
TT: Kanaya, for the goddess' sake, the galaxy was spinning before you were born.
TT: It will keep spinning even without your manicured hand pushing it along.
TT: And that is precisely what is going to happen.
GA: What Are You Saying Exactly
TT: I'm saying that an underfunded salarian neurology organization has just received a grant that will make their heads spin.
TT: Over the coming years, they will find themselves unknowingly working together with a diverse coalition of research groups, all subtly coordinated by me.
TT: Their work will have invaluable consequences for the rest of the galaxy--prolonging lives, preventing diseases, that sort of thing. But their primary aim, though none of them will realize it until it finally happens, will be to bring you back.
TT: To get you out of there and into a human body.
TT: Do you understand? It may take me hundreds of years, but I will get you back, Kanaya.
TT: Nothing will stop me. Not money, not death, not time, not even you, and definitely not the horrorterrors.
TT: I know you don't agree now, but I am right and I intend to convince you over the course of centuries.
TT: Nothing will keep us apart. Not anymore.


Kanaya starts to reply, but she feels an unusual tingling. It feels like a mass effect field--like the little distortions of time and space she's been able to perceive since she became, essentially, a fleet of warships--except it's inside her. Which doesn't quite fit, as she doesn't have an 'inside' in any conventional sense, anymore.

In fact, the field's expanding. It's everywhere now, she recognizes. The structure of spacetime is buckling and deforming dramatically. She sends everything she's got at them, begins projecting counteracting fields, when she realizes the unusual thing.

No one else is responding to it at all. She discerns no interstellar calls of alarm, no distress beacons from ships that according to her perceptions should be shredded instantly. She hacks into a few accessible sensors outside her own grid, and discovers nothing of the sort is showing up, anywhere, except to her own mind.

Still, for her, the galaxy is collapsing, condensing to a singular point. Quite suddenly, she realizes: it's between her and Rose.

And then: she's not a fleet, but neither is she human again. She has grey skin and horns, and just across from her is a blonde human with strikingly familiar features.

She reaches out, cries out, suddenly understanding, but--

---


You must first understand. The way the horrorterrors operate is nothing any mortal mind can understand. One can never understand their goals, their desires, needs. Their way of thought is erratic, for they are individuals and one singular type of hive mind. They are everything that makes the universe come together.

They are everything that will cause its end.

They seek to keep the universe whirling endlessly for their own survival, yet at the same time, they seek to end it for the same reason.

When they sought out Kanaya Maryam and Rose Lalonde in that break in between worlds, as they ran through the scratch, the horrorterrors intervened as per their instinct.

They wanted them gone because they were part of an eventuality. They needed the eventuality of the game being won to happen, yet they did not want it to.

Once again, keep in mind that the horrorterrors are a living paradox.

Going in this vein, everything that has happened had to have happened, and all that will happen in this tale was meant to occur.

Have I lost you yet? If I haven’t then congratulations. There is not much more to this first break in our girls’ tale.

For now, I humbly beg you to understand that the horrorterrors mean no ill will. They merely wish for change.

The end of Kanaya and Rose’s core, namely, their feelings for each other would be a large change. Enough to change that which is to come within the new universe they were destined to enter.

However, now that they have been moved from that course who knows what is to come?

The horrorterrors wish to rip them apart, and how can they, mere mortals fight them.

O-oh my, they seem to be awakening. They should not be, for you see, this is the rift, the outer rings, the empty region in all of space and time where nothing and everything exists. Mere mortals should not be allowed to awaken.

“What do you want from us,” the blonde one says wearily.

“For What Reason Did You Make Us Experience That,” the troll snarls.


Yͤ̓ͥ͊̈̐õ̾̎̋ͬu̽̒̐͌̆̈́̓ ̽̊̑̒m͒u̔́s͊͂̓̒̿̉̋tͤ̓̉ ̆̇̎b̏ͬͩ̿̉̌̊̚eͦ̈́ͬͨ̇̽͋ͮ ͨͬ̽ͦře̓͋ͨm̐ͨ̇ͪͫͭ̈o͊̑͂ͤ̑dͬ̈eͤ̄l͂͐ͮ̚l͂͗ͥ̉͑ͬ͋̎eͩ̌̏̽ͯ̋͋̌d̊́ͪ

“What? How can you possibly need us? To what end?”

Rose sounds scared. She need not be, for things will progress. Things will not be unknown to her for long.

“Why Us?”

Ah, the both of them are frightened. I wish I could tell them they need not be.

S̩̭͎o̙̺̱̤͙̲͎ ̳͔̥͚̗̜̦̯̼t̟͖͖h̺͍͖ͅa̫͉͕t̼̦͓̘ ̲̘̥W̥̫̱̫̖͚e͕ͅ ͉͍̹͙m̙͓̣̰͚͍̠̖a͕̻̝̣y͚͙̱̱̟ͅ ͈̤b̩̟̭e̞̦̥c̱̦̥̩̜͓o̟͍̞̣̬͍̰m̦͍͇̻̣͙e̫̱̞̩̣̘̹ ̥̝̻̗̺͔͈͉ͅF̣̺̙̣͚͕r͓̟e̤̮͕̱̗ẹ̩̙̝̺̮͙



---

     I’ve seen an heard a lot of things as an army man, Kid. Maybe even as much as you. The strangest thing I ever heard of was two girls, brought together in the strangest of ways.
     Torn apart in the strangest ways too.

     Now don’t you worry, I’m not telling a love story. More of a story of loss. I’m sure you’ve had enough of those by now but here’s another to add to your list.
     The first girl was Rose Lalonde, a scientist by every name you could dream up. I knew her work with the Mancers. I had read it in all the little pieces of paper they gave to the men, and I had seen it on the battlefield. To say she was cold would be to misdiagnose her, if some of the stories are true. But you aint soft if you do the sort of things she did.
     Now the other girl, she was no Mancer. Not by a long shot. In fact, she was pureblooded Ura, of noble heritage. Kanaya Maryam was her name. Her handiwork I had seen in the Ura chieftains garb. To say she was a talented seamstress would be an understatement. I’ve never seen a vest turn a round till the battle of Pines Hill and by god was that a sight. Nothing a rifle can’t handle, doubly so if you aim up a bit. But that's another story. Can’t get sidetracked, now can we?
     How these two girls even came into contact is a stranger story still. Now don’t give me that look. It might not be as strange as some of the stuff you might be cooking up right now but to me it was plenty unheard of at the time. Peace talks were just startin and what better way to get to know how a group of people ticked than to send someone over to live with em. So that's what Rose did. Bein of noble descent as I mentioned, Kanayas family took Rose in and she lived in Kanayas part of the den for the duration of her stay. This is where the story gets interestin.

     Now the ladies didn’t hate each other from the get go, but they definitely didn’t trust one another. You don’t forget that someone helped slaughter your kin and countrymen easily, believe me. It was colder than the Tazal ice fields to start, if the stories are anything more than just hearsay. Rose kept to herself mostly, pourin over ancient Ura tomes of knowledge. She already had a proficient grasp of their language and was more than happy to demonstrate it. She liked to trick the warriors into thinkin she couldn’t understand em by usin all the wrong words in the wrong places before blindsidin em with some clever constructed insult. She was good at those.
     Kanaya didn’t much appreciate this so in retaliation, she’d play her music day and night. Old folk songs, battle hymns, anything she could get her hands on she played on that lute of hers. Rose hated it at first but caught on quick. She embraced the tunes and even learned the words. They’d stay up, late into the night, singin and playin like they were the best of friends. In reality, neither of em wanted to back down. It was a game they couldn’t afford to lose.
     Roses singin voice was good if the records I’ve got are any indication but from what I’ve heard Kanaya could do more than carry a tune. She picked it up and slung it over her shoulder, takin it with her whether it wanted to or not. That is to say she had the voice of, and I quote, “an angel.” Personally never heard an angel myself but I’ll just have to believe the stories I suppose.

     Round about six months in and they still haven’t established peckin order. They had traded gambit for gambit this entire time, neither of em comin out on top. Rose had seen what was gonna happen well before Kanaya and she was prepared for it. If my sources are correct, which they are, it was on a particularly balmy evenin that it went down. Balmy in this case bein a whole forty some degrees. They were loungin about as you and I might do, wearin their loose shirts and baggy pants. It got real quiet, as if the entire world stopped for a second. Now cover your ears Kid cause I’m not sure if you’re gonna like what happens next.
     They kiss, basically. Yeah, I know. Right on the lips too. Kanaya didn’t see it comin. Doesn’t mean she didn’t enjoy it, that is. They carry on kissin for a while but Rose stops. Sorta looks at Kanaya with a pair a eyes she hadn’t seen before. Kanaya stops too and pulls Rose close, like lovers tend to do, and she sings. You know the tune, but you aint heard it in its native tongue. Just tell Zia to play you bit later, but for now, lemme hum the tune and see if I still got it.

I dig my hole you build a wall.
I dig my hole you build a wall.

One day that wall is gonna fall.


     Not the song you’d expect for a moment like this, but if the tales are true it worked. I’ll let you think about what that means as I continue. So daybreak comes and everyone already knows about em. Rose figures she might as well let em know she aint afraid and in their morning devotion she sneaks in a bit a handholdin. The entire circle gets quiet. Not the kind a quiet from the night before but the kind a quiet when everyones lookin at you with their brains racin. Now Kanayas flushed red, and you can see her swallow hard. To Rose and her own tribemates surprise, she leans in for a kiss. Rose would be rude to decline.
     They just sorta continue on like it was nothin, and in the end it wasn’t really. The kiss, not the whole deal. The whole deal was more than you and I could add up on our toes and fingers combined. Yeah, that’s a lot. It’s enough to where when Rose catches wind of the Calamity bein brewed she begins makin plans to hightail it outta there. The plans include Kanaya.
     On the eve of the Calamity, when you were catchin some much needed shuteye and I was no doubt tinkerin on one thing or another, they slipped into the Wild Unknown with enough supplies to last em quite some time. No ones ever heard em since. But sometimes at night, when we’re flyin low over the brush, if you listen real close, you can hear em singin.

     You know how the tune goes.

---


Your eyes ache, but only for a moment - before the tip of a suckered limb gently wipes the sopor from your eyes. Soothing, sulfur-tinged water trickles in and bathes your primary lids, and your secondary, and your corneas.

You are awake.

One moment of solace is granted to your wretched existence before you remember that you are still stuck in the most illicit, godforsaken excuse for a black romance that has ever seen the light of day.

It’s evidenced by the slew of new messages you discover on your husktop, inquiring about the healing of your recent injuries, the state of your notebooks, whether or not you managed to fix the table she chainsawed in half.

Kanaya is a pitiful kismesis, and you’re not sure when your feelings began to vacillate, let alone when they began tipping further and further into the pity half of the concupiscent quadrants. Like leaning back on chairlegs - you’re going to fall at some point. A swift pang of emotion half-slays you when you manage a coherent response and she fires back immediately.

As though she was waiting.

You’re disgusted with the both of you, and your lusus winds comfortingly tight tentacles around your middle. For an octopus mother (you’ve affectionately dubbed her Octomom, which you often inexplicably feel is humorous), she does well with most things. A few comforting paps to the shoulder, and you start to feel okay about this. Just because you’re vacillating doesn’t mean you have to flip quadrants. You’d hate to lose those razor-sharp nails.

But when you cut the idle chatter and challenge her to a duel, she seems… listless.

The mask of the screen and the composed purple text is a blessing. You’d hate for her to see you practically tearing at your hair like a wiggler who doesn’t get its way. She would lord that over you for ages… or would she?

See?

See?

That shouldn’t even be an uncertainty for you. This is ridiculous.

You almost vomit when she parries with an invitation to dinner.

(You don’t, really. Somewhere in your thorax a previously unknown muscle tightens, but not out of nausea.)

(Ugh.)

You type several different responses, and throw them all out. You can’t even confront her about this. That’s how pathetic you are, stuck in your mire of maroon emotions.

She prompts you once more, a solitary Rose, followed by a question mark, so out of place in her unpunctuated prose, and you don’t look at the screen as you accept.

Octomom fetches you a nice hot cup of kelp tea.

Bless her.

~

You read once that, eons and eons ago, some amongst your species lived without quadrants. One tale, devotedly depicted in a waterlogged tome sunk deep into a shipwreck, told of two trolls who not only stepped outside the system but preached defiantly for its destruction.

The fools.

Quartering one’s feelings is much, much easier.

You kept the book nonetheless - it was beaten and broken, the ink faded and whole sections burnt and torn out. It was never meant to be found.

Which has a lot to do with why you covet it so thoroughly.

~

Before you met her, you dreamt little, and what little you dreamt was comforting. Hisses and whispers and shrieks slowed to soothing sounds.

They’ve grown violent.

You miss the methodical crunch and grind of the Horrorterror’s consumption. Derse is terse and cold and loud and you don’t like to be awake in that sense any longer.

You can see them in the distance, lingering at the edges of the Furthest Rings and yet still probing, inching insidiously inside and reaching for you.

Not one inch of you likes to think of what will happen if (when) if they do.

~

Kanaya looks lovely.

You fight with the urge to simultaneously stroke her shoulder and dig your nails into the seam of her dress, tearing her careful hand stitches.

The compromise is a hand on the small of her back, leading her far too gently away from where you just had an almost disappointingly calm dinner near your corner of the ocean. It’s hard, being pleased by comfort and domesticity and bored by complacency.

Last night several toothed mouths came tapping at your tower gate, the yawning void replaced by massive, writhing bodies, slithering up your spire.

The dread tickling your bile sac did not dissipate with the passing of the night. Close up, they reeked of rotting fish and an ocean teeming with dead kelp and dead trolls. Your fins flick reflexively as the back of Kanaya’s hand brushes the tips of them. Her arm is around your shoulder.

And not in a stranglehold.

Your blood pusher goes, as your moirail says, ‘doki doki’.

Not something you ever really understood, but it’s taken root in your vocabulary regardless.

“I’ve been considering things,” Kanaya says finally. Her fingers stroke down over your gills, not up, not digging slightly into the oversensitive film that allows you to breathe at home. It feels good. You breathe deep through your mouth and the ridges flutter against the inside of her hand.

“Considering what?” Though you know perfectly well what she means, and you know that she knows that you know perfectly well what she means, it simply wouldn’t do to skirt the wonderful emotional turmoil that this conversation will, in time, entail.

“Rose,” she sighs, and her hand on your neck stops you. The stroking at your gills turns to a thrilling pressure, black as night and yet subdued. Distant.

Kanaya stares you down, intent and yet reaching clumsily behind her at the branches of a drooping, luminescent tree. You realize she’s plotted this out.

She’s recalled this tree and what has happened underneath it before, and here, the sacred place of your kismetic consummation, is where she plans to pop the proverbial, quadrant-flipping question.

Sometimes you just want to stand in wonder at the perfectly contrary being that is Kanaya Maryam, who takes your momentary lapse in concentration as consent, and nudges you by the gills to where she holds the glowing fronds apart.

The emotional indecision hurts.

The sand stings a little as well; you lose your footing on the loose dune beneath the tree and fall, rolling onto your back to avoid getting the dry grit in your gills. You expect her, standing hunched under the branches yet still miles above you, to pounce. It’s not every day that she can hold a height advantage.

But she sinks carefully to her knees at your side, resting a hand at a sensitive spot on the inside of your thigh, just below the line of your skirt. You hate her for knowing your weak spots. She’s unsubtle, and pathetic for it, and the red mixes with black and with the unnamed, growing feeling somewhere in your chest cavity. You can sense it drawing close to consciousness.

“Rose,” Kanaya sighs again. She never uses your full name. It’s maddening.

Your epiphany hits as she moves her hand from your leg to the sand next to your ear, shifting her weight. She’s close; you meet her gaze in the purple-tinged light, and again you think of the tome and of those quadrantless trolls. You are red and black all over, under your skin and under hers, too, you can tell by the non-pattern of her breath and the way she carefully slides a leg across your hips, fully on top of you and leaning closer.

Her thumb tickles your right fin and you squirm a little, reflexive, and for the first time since Kanaya Maryam sank her gleaming, gleaming teeth into your left collarbone, you feel calm.

There’s no symbol stamped in your mind next to her eyes and her hooked horn and the thin scar you carved beneath her lower lip, only a nebulous mess that encompasses everything.

You don’t hate her, though she’s maddening, and you don’t pity her, though she’s a flawed thing.

Her forehead touches yours, hair rasping against hair and you can feel the muscles in your face tighten and slacken minutely as your fins wiggle a little in anticipation.

You love her.

You love her, and as her lips touch yours, soft and without the nicking press of her teeth, you are swallowed whole by darkness, the toothed maw of the Ancient Ones.

You know nothing more.

---

"No More Please--"

"Please stop,"


No. You must understand what they want, you must see between the boxes and the fear and the pressures and you must change.

---


“They say that they are supposed to be some freaky creatures. Scary as shit.”

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You look up from your journal, leaving your sentence unfinished. Your eyes fall on your brother, Dave, and you watch as he stuffs his hands into his pockets. His baggy trousers began to sag, and you wish that he would invest in a pair of suspenders, or a belt.

You close your eyes for a moment, exhaling deeply. You set down your journal and begin to fish through the objects that littered the floor. You push aside clothing, newspaper, books and old wrappers. When you do not find what you’re looking for, your heart skips a beat.
“What’s up Rose?”


Dave’s voice sounds closer but you do not turn to him. Instead you stay bent over, searching through the mess. He sighs and you hear the crunching of paper and the movement before he comes back over. He then taps you on the shoulder.

In his hand is a small notepad. You smile and take it; he gives you a small nod.
“I guess we should have cleaned this place up huh.”

You nod and begin the write on your pad. After a moment of two, you hold it up to him. “Yes, that would’ve been wise brother. But it’s too late now.”
He shrugs and strolls over to his side of the room and begins to stuff things into a sack.

“Yeah, the guys from the freak show will be here up soon.”

You flip the page, and furrow your eyebrows as you write. “Brother, I would prefer if you would call it the circus.”

Dave glances at it and scoffs. “I call it how I see it.”

Then if you refer to them as ‘freaks’, then we shall be grouped in that category. My eyes purple, yours are the color of crimson…and I cannot speak.”
He shrugs and continues to stuff things in his pack. “This is only a temporary job, until we can really get out there. They’ll see how fucking amazing we are and they’ll give us our own show.”

You sigh as you put your pen to the paper once more. “Dave, miming is street performing. We’re lucky we got to be a side act.”

This time, he does not turn around to read what you wrote. He already knows. You “say “it all the time. You put down your notepad and begin to tidy up around your bed. You stuff things into drawers and pack what you can into your small sack a suitcase.

It doesn’t take you long to sort through what you want to take with you. Sometimes you will find yourself glancing at the drawers, wondering if you should take something else. Maybe you need another trinket that will remind you of home. Maybe you want to check and see if you have everything. But you know that you do, and you plop down onto your bed. If I start looking in those drawers again I’ll end up taking more than I should. You then stare at your bed post, where a pink scarf hangs off of it. You reach over and grasp it, your eyes focusing on it as you hold it in your hands.

She would want me to keep this.

Unpleasant feelings began build in the pit of your stomach. It tugs at you, threatening to send you into a dark place.

“Hey, Rose, let’s go. They’re here.”

You nod as your slip on your shoes and put on your back newsboy cap. Dave is already out the door when you stop at the threshold of your little apartment. You look at the place for one last time because you are sure, that you will never be coming back again. And when you take a deep breath, you turn your back and close the door behind you.
*
Image and video hosting by TinyPicA man stands before you, his eyes staring right into yours. You only know him as the Ringmaster, who goes by the name “Doc Scratch”. His hair is a white as snow, and his skin is so white that you question his health. He even dresses in white, from his clean suit to his flawless dress shoes. You can catch only a few hints of a vibrant green that pokes out from his blazer. This same color also makes an appearance as a strip that is wra

pped around the base of his top hat.

“Welcome to the Medium, children.”

He smiles and it is a large, snake-like grin. When you see it, you suddenly have the urge to turn in the other direction. You glance turn to your brother, and he soon turns to you. He stares at you for a moment before placing a hand on your shoulder.
Scratch takes hold of his hat, and begins to twirl it in his hand as he motions to the entrance of the circus grounds. “Follow me, I’ll show you around.”

The two of you follow him, dragging your luggage along. You pass many different types of people. You saw women who can grow beards, children that can contort their body to seemingly painful positions, huge men who have the strength of bears and clowns who practiced their acts.

Scratch pointed to these people, and greeted them as he passed them by. “Oh and you’ll see the acrobats above, working on their routine. And there are animals over there. We have everything from snakes, to monkeys, to lions and elephants. Ah, and there’s our latest attraction.”
And that’s when you saw them. They all seemed to be congregated in a secluded area, surrounded by a collection of old buggies and carriages.

“We call them the trolls; they are the ultimate freak show.”

You and your brother pause. “That’s them,” you can hear him mutter.

You take a good look at these so-called Trolls, your eyes falling upon one in particular. She looks about your age, and she is idly chatting with one of the others. Her hair short hair reminds you of the night sky when there was no star in sight. And her skin reminds you of the ash that is left behind after a fire burns out.

Something about her keeps you interested. You couldn’t tell if it’s her rough, scale-like skin, or if it’s the two yellowed horns that protrude from her skull. Your eyes even catch her tail as it swings from side to side, like a cat. But something about her is completely breathtaking. You understand why they are the ultimate freak show; you are completely mesmerized. Suddenly, you realize that she intrigues you, and you have the urge to learn more about her.

“Come along you two,” says Scratch. “I’ll be showing you to your quarters.”

Your brother places his hand atop your head. “Come on Rose, let’s go.”

As he speaks that same girl stands and begins to walk in your direction. You watch her, and it seems she doesn’t notice you, until she passes you by. In that instant, you felt a cold shiver crawl down your spine. Your eyes widen and she turns around, looking at you with a similar expression. Her mouth is slack, and you can see her hidden fangs.

Dave taps your head, and you turn your head only lightly, to acknowledge him. His voice is lined with irritation now. “Stop staring at the freaks so we can go.”


*
Though your brother seemed to keep his distance when it came to the freaks, you kept your eye on a certain one. And you snuck around, and got close enough to learn a bit about her. Her name is Kanaya, and she would rather create clothes than be shown as a circus attraction.

You begin to observe her more as the time goes by. You would sneak over to their side of the grounds and you would listen to the conversations she would have with her friends. She seemed pretty cheerful, at least before she was called for her acts.

She never seemed to be alone. But it is when you catch her sitting alone, you choose to approach. You make sure to be light on your feet so that you don’t startle her. Her floppy ears perk, and she turns. Her senses must be more heightened then mine, you think.

You shrug and walk over to her, your pace quickened some. She tilts her head and looks at you and her eyes glint with both suspicion and curiosity.

“Are you lost?” You notice how she puts emphasis on each word. She speaks carefully, as if she is afraid that the words themselves will shatter.

You shake your head and reach into your pocket, pulling out a one of your notepads and a pencil. You then walk closer. She now has a confused expression on her face.

As you make your way over, you scribble words onto the paper, handing it to her when you are close enough.
I chose to stop by and say hello. I’m Rose.”

Kanaya stares at the paper for a moment before turning her gaze on you. She lifts an eyebrow. “Can you not speak?”

You show her a small frown and she seems a bit flustered. “Ah I’m sorry- I didn’t mean-“ You place your hand atop her head. You don’t know why you did it. But it felt familiar, and natural.

Kanaya is silent now, her shoulders droop, and her tail relaxes. She slowly takes your hand and holds it for a moment. Her eyebrows are furrowed now and she bits her lower lip. She stares at your hand, and then looks up at you. She hesitates when she makes eye-contact, but she does not break her gaze.
“Have we…met before?”

Oddly enough, this was the start of your friendship. And though she asked you that question many times, you could never answer it. This lingering question was the thing that brought, and kept you together.

As time went on you began to grow closer to her, and began to open yourself up. You would go on to tell her about the scarf, and how it belonged to your late mother. You shared the details of your child hood, of how your brother raised you.

Kanaya would sometimes go on and on about her childhood, and how the circus was the only family she ever knew. The two of you would spend hours, just “talking “. And even though she would be the one leading the conversation, you liked listening to her speak.
*
It was nearing the time where the circus would have to move on and you and the others were beginning to pack of your things. By that time, you and Kanaya had become very close. You spent so much time with her that your brother began to tag along too. He had become very friendly with some acrobat girl, Jade, and made friends with some Trolls of his own. Though you wouldn’t consider Karkat his friend, but Terezi seemed to take a liking to licking his face. You assumed that was just how she showed affection.
“Rose.”
Kanaya walks up to you, and she seemed to be twiddling something shiny in her hands. You blink and greet her, smiling. When she is close enough you make a confused expression as you point at what’s in her hands.
“Oh,” she says. “This?”

She holds up a small necklace with a charm that hands on the end of it. The charm is jade green, and it sparkles in the light. Kanaya smiles.

“The Ringmaster gave one to each of us. The symbols stand for the months we were born in.”

You stare at the charm as she speaks, a sudden feeling of uneasiness pooling in your stomach. You know that symbol from somewhere, yet you can’t remember were. Then suddenly a glimpse of something flashes into your head, and words that you don’t remember saying flood your ears.
You pull out your note pad and begin to write on it. Everything you hear begins to fill the pages. The images begin to flash in your mind, and you feel as if your head is going to explode. You grab at your head as perspiration begins to collect on your forehead. You then fall to your knees and Kanaya follows you down, shaking you.

“Rose, what’s wrong? Rose? Can you hear me?”

Eventually the pain in your head subsides and you let your arms fall limply to your sides. You look up at Kanaya and you can tell that she’s scared. But you simply smile, and raise your hands to touch her face. You then bring her face close to yours. You stare into her eyes for a moment.

And though no sound leaves your lips, you say: “I remember you.” Then you bring your lips to hers.
When you pull back, Kanaya’s eyes are downcast, yet there is a small smile on her features.

“You...You kissed me,” she says as she slowly looks up, her face the very definition of delight.

Do you remember me?” Rose scribbles tentatively.

There is a spark in Kanaya’s eyes, but she doesn’t answer straight away.

“I...I can’t,” she is looking at Rose fearfully, but still grabs her hand, “I feel as if I know you, as if I’ve known you for lifetimes but...”

Kanaya breaks off, her face sad and resolute as she presses her lips heatedly against Rose’s, “It doesn’t matter, I want to remember, so very badly, but it doesn’t matter because I lo--”
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As soon as the words leave her lips, you feel something pulling you away from her. You use all of your strength to hold onto her, but the force is too strong. You feel her fingers slipping from your grasp.

“No,” she yells. “Rose, hold on!”

Around you everything seems to fade into nothingness. You close your eyes and grit your teeth. This can’t be happening. You’ve just remembered everything. You’ve remembered her.

Your grip slips, and your eyes snap open. You watch as Kanaya leaves your grasp and is pulled into the nothingness. Soon, you are also pulled away, and everything fades to white.

Rose almost laughs from within the heat of her rage towards the immortals.

Kanaya loves her.

---

And now the two, Kanaya and Rose, are returned to the emptiness, the void, the outer rings, because none can truly escape it.

Not even the horrorterrors.

They made their maze so impenetrable that they could not even escape by means of proxy—they could not be rid of their scapegoats.

But it was all—

“How dare you!”

“How dare you do that. I detest you. You fucking MONSTERS. How long do you intend to play this sick little game of yours.”


Oh my. It seems that the fester tongues can be understood here. I was never quite clear on that.

“Rose, rose, honey, rose—“

“You. I hate you. How could you. You didn’t remember,”

“Ro—“

“She didn’t remember. What are you doing to her. How could you—Only at the last second. Right before you ripped us apart and sent us flying apart from each other again and again did she remember and I WAS ALONE,”

It is not often I’m speechless, but you can understand can’t you? This is quite a show. And an unexpected turn of events. The horrorterrors themselves did not expect for Rose to hold any ill will towards Kanaya here. They are sending them from universe to universe for time to escape.
But time is tricky in a place with no time.

“…Rose,” Kanaya utters, barely above a whisper, jade tears falling from her eyes. They are noticed by Rose who attempts to wriggle closer as she apologizes and apologizes to her matesprit.

“S-shh, It’s Okay, I-I I Understand, Really…I love you, remember?”

“A-and I love you. Kanaya…”

“It Will Be Alright, We Can Fight, Don’t You See That? If We Can Remember There, Then We May Be Able To Fight Here.”

And eventually they are both crying. The horrorterrors however, pay no heed, as they answer the question asked of them.

W̫͉̫̯̙̥̓̑̌̆̿ȇ͇̖̱̙̪͉͔̟̦͐͐̄̒̎ͭ̋ ̙̬͉̖̭͇̙͙̘́ͪḓ̺̯̳͖̹͛̄o͓̮̦̿ ̘̦͎̱̿̀̾i̱̗̙͓̣̗̲̭͈ͧͨͬt͚̮̤̯̳̰̉ͬ̽͌̈ͥ̈ͬ ͉̤̙̞̤̟̉̐̄̑͐ͭ̒b̰͕̦ͨ͑͆ͮͫͤe̼̜̲͍̪͓̓̽ͤc̜̤̘̭̖͙̻̱̓̉̾a̼͕̥ͯͅû͕̤͈̗͇̞̞̜͒ͦ̅̇š̗͚̙̫̘̦̱͔̉e̫̟̙̠̣̲͇̪͌̉̄͂ͧ̄͑ ͉̙̯̲͇̦̮͓͖̂̾̂́W̲̘̳͖̟͔̘̋ȅ̥͙̹̟̟͚ ͙̲̼͓̤͍̙̫̽̂͗̊̚n͓̙̦̫͎̹̐ͪ͗̊̄ͨͮͅe̗͍̲̝̤͈̓̈́̾̎ͤ̈́̾̀ë͔́̈́d̦͇̜͉̣̼͕̼̞ͤ̈̄ͣ ̭͕̹̦̟͒ͦT̻͔̻͍͕̹̬͔̈́ͪ̃̅̿ͤͥi̳̣͕̞͖̒ͮͮm̩̹̯̞̻̖͐ė̜̠̱̰͉̣̘͚̓̅̍̊ ͎̘̠̳̓̅̅̽̍̊w̠̘̤̦̞̟̜͔ͪ̋͋h̜͖̰̎̚e̗̥̥̣̓̽ͧ͆͂r̙͚̆ͫ̊ͪ̏ͥ͋ͯe͇̩̖͕̼̻͑͋ͥ̾̔ ̯͎̞̱̹͒̓ṱ̼̹̮̰̰͖ͤͪh̻̳͎̙̫̩̥̟ͣͨ̐̔ͪe̻͖͙̗̠̩̺͖͌͐ͬ̓̔̔̎̚r̰͈̳̥̲͈͉͓ͧͥ̀͆ͦe͔͓͔̞͛̎ͥͭ ͎Ã

�̐̌̃̿ͩi͍̟̟̭̋̑ͯ̑ͯs̙̮͚̼̭̫̠̫̬̔ͩͯͬ ͕͖̣͍̗̦̞̙͌̿̅̾ͨ̚N̦͈͖͕̖̣ͩ̆͌̽̍ͤͯõ͚̯͔͔̙̬̊n͔̰̹̻̳͎̼̟̎̎̓̚e͓̻̦̙̞͔͚̹͔ͯ͗̋̋ͨ̈ ̻̠͖͕̋̂ͤ͑̀s̪̦̣̞̟̽ͥ̂̓ͦ͒o̻̜̮ͮ̔ͨ ͓̙̬̬͔͍͋̆̅͋͌ͣt̫͙̒̂̚h̳͉̦͖ͨ͛̊̓̆ͮȧ͚̐̌̏͋t̳̯̣̲̼̫̺̫̃ͨ̆ͨ͒ ͓̫̞͎̙̿̍̽̿̍ͨ̒̃W͚̯̩ͦ̓̈́̔̎̿̓̇̚e̫̼̥̞̺͚͛ͭͮ͋ͤ ̝͐̂̈́̄̌ͤͪ̎m͚̝̺͉͛͑̓̚a͚͚ͨͮ̌̏ȳ̤̪̻͓̓͌̉͆͊ͦ͆ ͇̜̺̮̘̠͐ͤͬ̽̾̈́͆̚b̮͕̝̰ͣ̊e͉̙̗͎̘̺̣̥͖ͦ͑c͓͕͓͇̮̤̍́ọ̪̗̹̱͕̅ͭ̉m̞͓͎͕̙̓̒ͫͫ̅̃e̪̘͈̭̱͒ͤ̊̋͆ ̹͙̺͉̫̯̋̎͐̚ͅF̪͎͓͍̩ͪ̇̊͆ͦ̇͐̒r͎̠̝͕͖͉͔̗̪̒ͨ͑̋ͦ̃̇e̤̤ͪ́̋͛̀͐͛̄̎e̻̍̈́̌.̖͓̭͔͚͉̒͂͒͛͆̎̉




---



“TT, do you mind explaining what the fuck that shit was?”

It was possibly the most polite and civilized nerd rage you had ever heard in your entire life. Despite the adrenalin no doubt coursing through her distant veins, your teammate’s diction had almost increased twofold, emphasising the beginning of each and every word in perfect staccato.

“I might, G.A., if you’ll turn your input volume down; years of fourteen year old nubile waifs bellowing down my ears have somewhat crippled my headset.”

Your voice remains contrarily deadpan. The exasperated sigh against your ear made your heart skip, tweaked a grin at your chapped and well-chewed lips. It was alright to break the poker face, when she couldn’t see you, no matter how menacingly her avatar targeted yours from across the virtual bunker on the screen before you.

You love it when they get mad. Normally, they get so frustrated and ornery that they descend into incoherent yowling, while you remained distinctly unruffled. It just makes the game that much more interesting; wind them up, watch them go, proudly sit upon your private, internal victory of never breaking a sweat.

This one was eloquent. That caught your interest right from the off, when your mutual friends had set up a PVP team, and disappeared one by one for dinners and bed times all across the globe over the course of a few hours, until only yourself and this mysterious green-text ‘GA’ character remained. A quick glance up your bedroom window suggests it was getting on for early, but curiosity and the thrill of a new- not a friend, but maybe a rival- no. A Playmate, perhaps, though with a little less of the infantile connotations that accompanied it. Someone you could banter with, someone that could match your verbal sparring; word for word, breath for breath. A little like Dave, but judging from the register of her- is she still at it- endlessly rambling voice, a little less human.

“… and another thing- are you even still listening?“

“G.A., I am truly, deeply sorry to cut you off half way through your delirious ranting; but would you kindly look to your right?”

Either you’ve both played the same first person shooter repertoire, or some of old Atlas’ mind games really work- regardless, her avatar slowly turns on its axis.

“Tell me what you see.”

“…The turret’s respawned. But you blew it to smithereens- how has it-“

“And that’s not even the clever part. Activate it.”

A moment of silence for GA’s pride, then brace for the flood.

“You’ve hacked it. How? What mod are you using- is it a cheat code? You know that’s illegal don’t you? You know that’s not only dangerous for your own system but also a liability for the rest…”

On and on and on. Sweet Jesus, it’s like a symphony; a rising chorus of angelic fussing from on high in an exotically accented lilting warble. Her rambling is like the dawn chorus, just starting up outside your window, if birds were paranoid about having their IP’s hijacked through third party applications.

You grin wider, and ask her to respectfully shut the fuck up, new fag, in slightly more polite terms.

“That is a glitch; a loophole, not a hack. I completed one action whilst holding a few buttons and asking the game to do something else, it then had a panic attack, and now we have a limitless ammunition supply without having to break from this cosy little hide here, thus making the rest of the level a piece of irrefutable cake.”

You allow her to ruminate on this for a while, picking up on the hiss of static that sounds like a weary sigh.

“Alright. But, wait- why didn’t you pull this trick before, when we lost the last four rounds with EB and Ka- CG?”

You shake your head pointlessly. “Because John gives me the worst puppy dog eyes if I don’t play fair. He’s your text book hero; he’d rather go down to his doom fighting fairly, than staying alive by cunning, if underhanded tactics. I’d say that’s a somewhat naïve stand point, given that the game itself allows you to do this, and one out of three teams I’ve been matched against since I began my PVP career, will have someone on hand that will complete exactly this glitch, rending the rest of the match void.”

“One out of three- You’ve counted?”

“Roughly, on average. I started keeping a tally, but I lost the will to live after filling a page of my notebook. No statistical analysis is worth reminding yourself that you’re slowly morphing into a-“

“-Did you hear-“

It’s over before you can even pick the controller up where it had been resting idly, cockily in your lap. The hut was infiltrated, and you’d been stunned while your partner in crime was brutally hacked to a fantastically vibrant and cinematic death.

You didn’t take it so well.

“Fucking piss on me, you filthy son of a bitch, I- ugh!”

You take off your headphones, in order to scrub at your hair and grunt obscenities to yourself. How had you been so fucking short sighted as to forget to keep your land mines refreshed? Standing there gassing over team chat with some witty broad with a funny accent from across the world, you’d left yourself completely open, you might as well have had your arms spread akimbo with a ‘Kill me’ sign on your back.

Yet there, from in your lap, came a delightful chime of laughter. Not the reeling, cackling, heckling guffaws of Dave or John when you’d tried to sound smart whilst unwittingly crashing a rideable into a ravine. Joyful, admittedly a little bitter, but genuine laughter. Nay; giggling.

She’s laughing with you.

Oh, dear.

You’d best swallow your heart back down before it ends up throbbing its way out of your chest. So you do; you let slip a few dignified ‘ahems’ and tug your headset back on, picking up the controller, one knee crossing defiantly over the other.

“Well,” she breathes, still giddy, “I needed an opportunity for a break; my lusus needs my help before high noon-“

High noon? Where in the merry fires of hell did she even live?

“- and the garden won’t water itself, you know. But I should be back in around an hour. Oh- but it’s late where you are, isn’t it?”

The note of sadness in her voice is despicably sweet. You glance out of the window again. The sky has turned that distinctive teal blue of daylight, and you wince for the dark bags hanging under your eyelids. You won’t sleep toni- today, anyway. This was already shaping up to be one of Those Nights even without John playing the ‘one more level’ roulette game at one in the morning, his time.

You won’t sleep. You know you won’t. You’ll lay awake until ten replaying her voice in your head and all the burning questions you want to subversively weasel out of her before she even knows she’s said it. You don’t even want to queue for another round or play anything right now, you just want the banter. The games, though, give you an excuse to be talking at all, and you’re too proud (aren’t you) to simply ask for her pesterchum for the sake of a friend.

“I got enough sleep yesterday,” you lie, “so I could soldier on for another few hours, given I’m unlikely to queue with another competent player at this time. That being said- I should warn you that my network connection is somewhat unstable.”

“Oh?”

“Rather. I blame it on the radiation no doubt leaking from the nearby lab. It would explain why my cat has four eyes and makes a fantastic day-glow lamp.”

She snorts, you smirk, and you lean back, lacing your fingers behind your neck and trying for all intents and purposes to be a smooth talking lady killer. You open your mouth, but she’s already speaking.

“Then I guess- Oh, wait, hold on, I know one-”

Puzzled, you let her carry on with what sounds suspiciously like a prepared joke.

“I appear to have misplaced my trolltag.”

“…”

“So, may I borrow yours?”

That was a pick up line.

That was an honest to god pick up line. An appallingly, charmingly lame one, at that. Alas, how you wish you could say otherwise, but your kokoro has been thoroughly doki’d.

“I suppose I can suffer you to dwell in my chumroll,” you sigh melodramatically, “I go by the same handle on Pesterchum.”

“Tentacle the rapist?”

“Therapist, why would it be-”

She laughs, you shake your head, she clears her throat; back and forth and not even a canned laugh track could make the whole exchange any more fumbling and clumsy and wholly too sincere for your usual fare.

“Right. Mine is also grimAuxilliatrix.”

“I’ve punched you in. Hm. Either you’ve studied Classics or you really went to town with a thesaurus.”

“Both, actually; how could you tell?”

Your cheeks ache from smiling.

“Just a hunch.”

---

The hours passed in a blurry exchange information over a lazy card game. She introduced herself formally; Kanaya Maryam, and the roll of her r’s made it an unforgettable sound. You gave her your name, and she gasped and questioned if you’d told the truth, for such a name was impossibly lovely for a scoundrel such as yourself.

Hours turned into nights. You got the hang of her strange schedule- you knew that trolls preferred to go out in the dusks and dawns, you’d played enough online cooperative games to run into plenty of ornery trolls in the small hours. Kanaya, ever the oddball, not only survived your weak terran sunlight, but revelled in it.

She told you a few stories about what it was like, to be a wriggler going through Planetary Refugee Processing in Brussels. She spoke of the language barrier, the tense relations of the adult population with those of her own, the roles of her ailing lusus. You neglected to speak about your relationship with your mother, and focused on your mutual friends.

Nights turned into weeks. You hinted that your mother was a hands-off sort of parent. Kanaya confides in you that she wouldn’t know what to do without her lusus. Her palemate asks you uncomfortable questions about when you’re intending to present her a freshly culled beast of the wilds to prove your worth as matesprit material. Dave, also, wonders when you intend to bone your desert flower.

Weeks turn into months. You spend an entire weekend on approximately four hours sleep on the end of a headset with her while she makes her lusus comfortable.

The Virgin Mother Grub doesn’t make the night. But you are there, Kanaya sobs, and that’s important to her. She doesn’t know what she’d do without you.

You haven’t the heart to remind her that by all rights, you’re not.

A week later, you let her know that your mother was never really around.

GA: Well
GA: I Guess
GA: We Can be Orphans Together After A Fashion
TT: ...Yeah.

Half a year on and your flirtation remains a constant part of your dialogue, amidst the somber discussions of family and current species politics, and the ice cold havoc-banter on the Raiding Community’s Ventrillo server. You suggest she has a place to crash with you, as and when, should she wish to visit. You start to speak in ‘when’s more than you do in ‘wouldn’t it be great if’s, and part of you despises the practise. It feels like wishful thinking, like it will go nowhere; all empty promises from some flush-sick college student with little prospects. Kanaya’s determination to get you out of slouchy jeans and t-shirts, and into something a little more flashy -all puns gratuitously intended- reassures you that she’s impossible to persuade otherwise.

You talk to her when you’re drunk, now and again, fed up with the inconsistent woe of the world enough to warrant making your mother’s mistakes all over again. You’re giddy, at first, all Monty Python accents and terrible Freud jokes. Then you really get into it, and become self depreciating and bitter, but worst of all you become needy. The hallowed words come tumbling out of your mouth before you even realize what you’ve said. You’re more honest than you’ve ever been in your life, when you say it, despite your foul and rancorous mood. The terrible pause on the line tears at your heart, no matter how dimly you barely recall eating your supper.

She had the gall to reply ‘I Know’ and you scoff at her. You have half a mind to block her and walk away now, forever, before someone else can abandon your devotion.

Until she quietly asks that you tell her again when you’re sober enough to mean it.
So you do. Bleary eyed and trying to swallow down your cotton mouth from the night before, you drag yourself online post making your offering to the porcelain Old Ones, and tell her again.
She’s loved you for a while, you know.

Months turn into years.

---

Kanaya wanted to visit in the spring, initially, to mark your anniversary. But the money wasn’t there on your end, nor hers, and finals came up, and after one too many arguments that month, that was simply that. In the summer you had better luck, though her first booking as voided due to her chosen airline going bankrupt. The second was booked, and boarded, but stalled on the runway, delaying her by a day at first. Her change over flight landed just in time for a freak snow storm in the Heathrow layover, and another week was lost. Half of her belongings were misplaced by notoriously poor cargo companies, and when she finally arrived in NYC, with neither her belongings nor a penny to her name, her phone expired on the spot. Plan… delta, you believe by this point, was simply to try and find each other the old fashioned way at the terminal.

The airport is packed and swimming with luggage and bodies swaying along under too much cargo. Humans usher their families along out of the way of lumbering trolls carrying hefty suit cases. You tug at the dress she sent you for your birthday, all black jersey from neck to ankle, emblazoned with your signature RL across your sternum. It’s tacky, but she’ll recognise it from afar, by colour and no doubt scent. That may be, you scold yourself, but she’ll never notice a five foot nothing dumpy thing like you in a crowd of tall, handsome trolls.
You’re right, in some ways. You spot her first. The hook of her horn is impossible to mistake, and you very nearly bolt towards the terminal boundary. You school yourself into a normal, civilized, ‘I’m not about to blow anything up’ stride. Kanaya has no such reservation, when she catches the scent she’d memorized off the hand written letter you’d sent in reply, she breaks into a frantic scurry, ducking her head to catch sight of you from how high off the ground she normally is when standing upright.

Your voice cracks when you call her by name.

It’s awkward.

It was never not going to be awkward, who were you kidding.

You stare blankly at each other for a moment, certain that you’ve found one another, and here they are, sharing your space. Much later you realize that you’re both trying to work out where best to hug each other to compensate for your height difference. You grow impatient with simply giving her the same slack-jawed incredulous look that she’s giving you, and damn it all if you don’t feel too old to do this, but you rock back on your heels enough to throw yourself forward against her chest.



She catches you.

Not only does she catch you, but she lifts you aloft, with her arms so tightly wound around your ribs and your feet leave the floor long enough for you to squeak and feel undignified, and too giddy and contented to care. When she sets your heels back onto terra firma, neither of you breaks the embrace. Her chin is a pleasant weight on your shoulder and your nose finds a spot against her neck to nestle into. Neither move, neither speak, save for a shallow swaying motion and softly muttered declarations that are truly too sincere for any Lalonde to speak with impunity, really. You don’t care how long you stay there, because

it’s as though
for all of a

moment

that the


world


melts



away


---

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T̃̂̋ͮ̓ͨ́hͯ̾ͬé̃y̋̽́͌ͯ̋̚ ͆â͐̓rͭ̀̊̃e͌̂ͭ̊ ̓̀̀̅͐̎̀͐̚a͑͐̾͆̀̅w̍̊̈̔͐ͧ͑ͣ̏a̅̐ͬͧk̽ͬe͊ͨ̇ͮ̏͗ǹͬͣ̀ͯ̎̑̚i͊̾ͥ͗ͧnͨ̍̅͋ͪͬg͂ͫͧ̊̓̅͒̓




“We Are Finished.”

“We refuse to do this any longer.”

“It…One Can Only Take So Much.”

"We're done."

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G̙͓̥̬̲̺̱̝̬̺̩̫̬͓̬ͅͅo͚̬̥̠̤̣̥̝̘o̲̠̱͔̹̩͙̙͓̻̗̜̥̮̫̥͖͍̘d̤͕̫̗͖̠̳̤̣̳͖͚̼̭͔̹̖ͅ



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Just as their lips touch, they feel the now familiar sensation of being ripped inside out, but something deep within them fights it and they are not to be moved.

“No.”

Well, this is unexpected. Nothing fights the horrorterrors.

“Don’t You See? You Have Manipulated Us In The Same Way You Have Manipulated The Space Around You.”

“The very space that rules you. We are above you now.”

̨͑̓̃͊ͪ̒̿ͨ̎͌̈́ͩ͒̍͡͏̠͕̖̗̲̩͇̩͎̯̟̹̲͘ͅ ̮͈͔̗͊̈̓ͩ͆͑͟͢ ̅ͬ͂̒ͬͥ̚͟͝҉̵̜̘̰͚͈͈͈͖̟̜͇͙̲̣͎̥̰ ̷̢̡̰̤̞̙͙͓̓͋͊ͣͪͭ̄͛͋̔ ̲͇̝̹̪͈ͣͧͧͨ̀ͯ̆́̄͜͜͟ ̪͎̬̺͖͖̘͍̤̮̬͚̆̂̉ͪ̽ͥͦ͗ͮ̈͂̍̕͝͞͡ ̴̻͉͕͔̭̗͍͕͔̼̬̮͚̘̫̙̪́̋͑ͣͩ̅̍̽ͬ̅̋ͯ̓̈͗̒ͨ̕͡͠ ̢̝̜̺̬͇͓̖̤̠̲̪̫͔̮̤̯͍̾̊ͦͪ̏̇͗͗ͭ̓ͨ͐͆ͨ̃̏͜ ̌͗͒́̈́̄͒̄̓̀́ͧͤͧ̽ͭͥͫ̚͜҉̳͙̟̞̩̤̰̞̦̯̭͠ ̶̷̨̡̺͈̖̖̼̘͎̠̺̼̮̥̝̻̔̽̉͂̊ͪ͋͒́̚̚ͅ ̨̭̜͔̮̣̥̗̘̰̮̫͓̝͎̅̾̽́͠͞ ̇̔̽̐̓̾҉̴̯͇̲̰͓̮͚̦͖͉͜ ̸̵̲̟̬̻̼̞̪͓̭̲̦̼̂̃͊̍̅ͨ̓̏ͫ̈́̊̓ͅ ̴̴͔̤̜͙͖͓̣̗͕͔͊Ã
Œ
�͊̈́͆ͮ̽̍̒͊̒ͨ̋͆̓̑̚͢͡͝ͅ ͮ̇͊̎̊̊͒͏̨̢̱̘͉͍̦͔̦͙̞̺͓̘̭͙͟ ̄͒͊͗̆̄͑͗̒̎̑͏̯͔̟̝̞͓͖̮͉̙̞̖͖̦̟̱̙̀ ̺̼̫̹̯̻̝̜͚͐ͥͮ̀̎̑̐̍ͫ̄̔̂̀̍̆ͦͥ̀ ̶̧̠̫̯̳͖̟̟̭̌̿̽̆́̎̓̒̄̐̓̏̕ ̡͓̮̪͖̜̗ͨͭ̔̓͗̎̐͒̿̆ͭ͋̃ͨͪ̿̚͞ ̵̸̨̰̪̲̹ͩͬ͆̅̿̈̊̍̔͌̚͠ ̶̸̛̩̫͖͖̩̗̦̞̮̱́̋̾͑ͬͫ͊̄̇͆̌̓͗̃̀̾͢ ̷̧̺͙͖͓̝̬̩̩͈͈͛͒͂͛ͭ́̄́͂̓̽̆̆́͡ͅ ̵͕̪͎̗̫̜͍̯̖̣̱̠̲͙̱͚͎ͧ̂̈ͦ̀͘ ̡͙͉̖̜̻̙̪̮̯͔̝͇̒ͦͩ̅͘͟͝ ̢̜̫͉͇́͛ͥͤ̔̀͘͟͢ ̶̷̮̫̗͇͚̺͚̮̬̙̱̬͔ͣ̃ͬ̿ͭ̿͗̿ ̫͎̞̤̫̝͕̥̻̪͈ͪ̌͑͐̎ͨͦ̍̃͊͞ ̸̧̟̖͇͎͔̯͓̤̰͖̜̺̦̲̃̐̅̅͊̄ͭ̈́̔ͫͮͪ̈́ͬͭ̒̔̚̚͝ ̴̢̨̩͙͓͇̻̯͚̱͐ͧ͋ͩ͛ͥͫ͋ͪ͘ ̘̭͉̤̪̯͚̜̖̺͓̲̪̲̫̭̑͛́̑̈͂̿̽͌̎̈̃ͪ̈̇ͨͭͧ̾͠ ̧̨̩̼͕̫̳̥̝̰̳̙̳͍̼̩͉̜͎͉͒̂͗͂͂̐͘͠ ̴͖̟̥͎͚̈͌ͦ̃ͨ͗ͮ̐ͬ́͢͡͠ ̼̘͕͊ͦ̍ͤ̑̿̏̓ͣ
̓̎ͯ̃̒̕ ̶̴͂ͯ̋̅ͮ̕҉͖̖̬̞ ̴̷̛͍̲̖͔͔̼͇̬̤̯̳̳͈̄̈́͗̍̿ͭ̎̐̽̒ͩ̆̃̉ͦ̅̈̈͗ ̼͚̮̣̪̱̗͖̮͕̝̜̭̭̲̤ͣ̿ͩ̒̅̐̊̄̌̉̿̍͊ͣ͘͘ ̸̡̬̺̭͕̯͈̯͕̲̎̓̎͛ͭͮͮ͗ͅ ̸̤̦͕̳̖̹̔̉̅̇ͨ̓͗̑̃̽̌̿̀̒͋͊̈ͩ͡ ̏̇̒͛ͦ̎̍͒͗͏͙̞̭̱͔͕̤͈̘ ̣̣̥̩͖͖̙͆ͣ̀̔̇͆͊̐̓̌ͪ̀͌́́̀ͬ̀͟͞͝ ͑ͥ͒̆͐ͯ̐ͮͣ͏̢̳̳̬͍͟͢ ̧̡̙̦̪̻̱͇̰̻͉̦̩͇̈́͒̃̔ͪ̓͊̈́̊́̐̎̇̌ͮ̑̀ ̐̒͌̋ͫͫ̿̔̈́ͨͧ̀̒͑͝͏̢͇͙͇̦͖̩̲̼͜ ̛̱̝͔͕̬̰̤͇̘͚̫̻̱̗ͭ̑ͭ̔̾̅͐̕͟͢͡ͅͅ ̶̻̩̭͍̖̣͓̣͖͈̣̠̼̬͉̏ͫͪ͋ͥ̄̈́̀ͮ͒́͝ ̨ͭͧ̓͊ͬͨ́̚҉҉͕͍͉̻̞̣̟̻͇̖ ͗͂̊̈́ͧ̾̋̾ͦͫ҉̸͈̝̳͕̮̹̲̦͓̦̫̱̱̖̪́ͅ ̋̈́̒̿ͪͭ̍̒̀̓͊ͤ̅ͦ̄ͨ͢͏̩̥͙̝̘̩͈̯̳̭͖̗̱͉͔̲̝̘͟͢ ̨̨̟͚̘̜̖̥͕̝͎͓͎͎͚̲̜͚̀̒͒̎̏̽ͬͧͫ̒̚̚͢͜ ̸̢̣̬̤͖̜̗͉̲̠̥̼͆͊̂̄̔̀͑͐̀̍ͥ̋͆͗ͥ̃̀̚͡͠ ̽ͦ̆ͩͯ̍̓͌̀̓͝҉͚͖͔̯ ̸̴̧̟̭̗͈͕͚̜̤̼̳̱̠̒͋̑ͭ̿̃̇̍̓͡ ̡̗̱͔̳͇̪̻̹̗͉͉̇̓͆̏̽̓͐̋ͤ̆̇͠ ̵̵̭͔̝̰̟̇̉͆̿ͦ͌͛ͫͪͣ̅̽ͭͩ̿̐̒́̕͜ ̶͎̥̝̠͈͍̳͎̤̠ͨͮ̆̾̍͑͛ͫ͝ ̷̻̖̝̩͓͉͕̠̋̅͑̎͂̅ͩ̋ͮ̊͠ ̴͇̹̞̳̯̞̩͙͍̰̻̽̇ͭ̑͛̅͊ͭ̀͢͝ͅ ̶̫͔̳̹̉̆ͧ̃̈́͛͝͝ ̷̨͕͇͍̞̣̠̟͙̜͕͈̮͚̥̥͗̈́̔̽̆͊̅̈́̆̀̕ͅ ̶̝̮̗̟͂̃̆̅̿͛̅ͪ̉͐̃ͧ̎͑ͮͭ͊͘ͅ ̷̥͇̳̣̜̣̯͕̝̪̦̜̰̍̄̌͆ͯ̽ͮͣ͂́͢͢ͅ ̴̴̨̳̣̞̩̤͇͉̆͑ͣ͊̿͗ ̴̢̮̣̬̹̞̱̰̉̿ͫͥͬ̅ͮ͘ ̸̻͇͓͓͖͕̗͇͉̥̤̜͍̰͕̇͒͂͛͆͗ͤ̎̈́ͦ̅ͦ́́̚͠ ͛̃͑̎ͪͦ̌ͩ̇̿̀͠͏̛̟̭͔̜͖̳͕̦͉̦͚̜͟ ̸̱͚̬̯̤̜̻ͭ̎͗͋̊͒ͨͩ̍͆ͥͧ̈́͛ͪ̕͢͡ ̵̴͉̞̗̻̤̳̯̩̻̘̮͈͚̠͑̈͛͊̑ͩ̄͒̆͌̈̄͠͝ ̧̩̟̱̣̬͚ͨ̈́ͬ̎̽̃̎͆͛̂ͩ̒̋̈́́͘ ̴̧͇̗̩͖̬̦͕͓̭͚̻͈͚̥̌̒̂ͥͬ̍͡ ̡̙̰̤̘̩̜̪͓̦͍̮̰̊ͯ̉̅̀ͤ̔ͫͥͫ̿͒ͩ̆͘͢͡ ̷̵̡̘̞͇̞͍̫̯̊̎ͫ̀̏͋ ̷̶͓̗̫͉̝͔͖͚̰̟͉̘̭̜͈͍̋̿̀̅̆͂̓̑̈̈ͬͧ̌ͨ ̷̤̩̪͇̳̊ͯ̓ͮ̊͜ ̏ͩͨͧ̌̀͐ͥ̿͒̈́ͣ͊̉̒̇͝҉̰̭̗̩̩̥̳̲̀ ̴̧̐͒̉ͣ͐͏̶̜͓̣͎̳̜̞̮̳ ̤̫̟̠̣̖̭̦̠̟̩͖ͧ̋͂̏́ͯͧͯ̊̉ͨ͑̚͡ ̶̢͍̺͓͙̠͖ͬ̍̓ͭ̒͑͛͗̅̅ͭ́̚̕ ͉͈̹̻͇͙͕̼̳͎̞͈͍̬̲̟͍̳̜̊̆̀ͤ͊ͥ͗ͤ̒ͤ̅̂̕ ̰̹̞̤̺̹̦̎̍̍ͬ̆̈ͦͯ̇͋ͤ͌̿̾͗̉͘͟͢ͅ ̵̡̭̬̙͈͓̹̠̞͍̟̮̲̲ͮ͛̑̃̎̊͐͂͛̉͋̓͋̆ͩ́ͦ͒̀̕͝ ̸̼̘̥̫͕̺̻̯̜͇̟̜͆͗ͦͦ̿ͯ͂̉̀ͫ̑̑ͧ ̨̛̠͙̦͙̺̭͕̅ͮ̋̂ͩ ̶̈̈́̽ͤ̎̚͢͏͎̻͇͎ ̢̡͛ͪͯ͋ͤ͝͏͉͇̟͖̟̦̻̭̮͙́ ̵̢̥̗͉̩̳͔̩̤̖̀̆ͬ͗̋̂͑ͩ̄̐ͧͮ͟͝ ̛̄̓͊ͯ̉̐̒ͧͪ̐̏͊͐̾ͣ͂͠͏̢̧͖̹̝̮̞̦ ̡̨̟̻̝̥̠͍̪̪̰̃̑́̔̅͗ͯ͗̊̀͠ͅ ̵̧͙̺̱͚̣̫̣̯͖̰̰̯̝͈̗̳̺̹ͯͫ͋ͦ͢ͅ ̢ͥ̈̂̋̒ͨ̔͊̒̌͗̂͋̀҉̲̤͔̭̳̳͎̬ ̸̴̰͍̠̳̞̋ͧ̿̒͊̂̌̏ͦ͑̎̾͐͊͡ ̢̨̗̫̜̼̼͎̘̠͈̜̦͉̋͐̃ͬ̌͌͆ͬ͌ͮ̎ͭ͐͂̐ͤ͛̕͟͠ ̵̶̵̜̻̠͇̘͍̲̳̻͓̮̖̮̼̪̦̬̤͂͂̏͂̓̄̾̇̉̀͞ ̷̢̹̖̗̤̔̇̄͋̉͆̀̎́ͩ͐̿̓̚ ̭̤̗̯̜̳̬̮͉̱̜̪̗̣̠̏̒̄̒ͪ̃̄̕͜͝͠ ̵̧̤͉͖͔̗̘̇͑͊̇͐̍̈́̀͊͗ͦͮ̇͋͘͟͜ ̏ͣ͌̊̓͋ͦ͋͑͊͑̎ͤ҉̛͕̺̟͓̬̺̯̲̠̲͖̮̪̗ͅ ̷̷̵̢̫̦̩͓̰̳̂ͯ͛̎͒̃̎̈́̓͗̇̐̀ͣ̆̓ͧ̑͡ͅ ̨̭̘͖̰͙̪̟͛̿̎̎̏ͮ́ͮ͌͋̈͐̍ͧ̀̚̚͟͡ ̧̺̯̳͎̗̹̞͇̗̳͍͚͔̔ͮ͑̋̀ͨ̈̈́̽̈͡ ̸̵͔̯̮͕̰͇̳̯̠͍͔̩̤̞͈̳̮͉̯ͧ͗ͦͮ͋̈́̓̅ͧ͋ͫ̌̽̚̚͢͡ ̎͋̈͆͋̚͟͏̢̧͖̹̭̹͉͞ͅ ͗̓̃̽̐ͩ̀͏̸͕͈͓͓̱͕̳̺͎̖̹̙̻̱͠ ̶̡͎͇͓̟̘̫̝̥̺͚͈̱̫̲̏̃͋͛̉̉ͤ͒̒̎͆̄̽̑͋ͪ͞ ̢̧͕̗͕̱͚̥̝̏̏ͥ̍̊̎ͮͭ̍ͭ̂ͪ̍́ ̵͇̮̯̇̀ͪͫ̉̍̑̏̍͆ͥ̚͟͝͝ͅ ̉͐̓̉ͣ̎҉̶̧̟͕̥̙̯͖̘̰͕͇͍̱̞̭̝͝͠ ̛͍̜̥̜͖͖͊͗ͬͧ̎̑ͫ̉̔́̀̚͞ ̶̔ͬ̾ͥ̔̊̀̑ͤ̌ͤͧ̓͜͡͏̴̯̤̞̝͚̦͓͓ ̡̣̹͈̫͉̟̥̟̫͇̬̘̮̲͔̬̼͈̞ͭ͒ͬ͐̊̓̍ͩ̎̑̑͋́̉ͦ͜͞ ̛͓̳̱͎̹̭̯͇̦̞̯͔̮̝ͣ͋̋̐̒̓ͥ̅̈̌̇̇ͭ̍ͤ͗ ̡̱̟͉̩͕̙̒͆͛ͧͫ̓̿̐ͫ̒ͤ̓̚͢͡ ̛͆́̇̔̉̔̍ͦ̒̀́̕҉̯̙͉̦͉̪͕ ̡̢̭͓͍̖̠̭̖̗̇̈́̔̎̅ͮͬͪ̅ͥ̈́ ̴̴͓͕͉͕̞͕ͮ̏̄̈́ͧͤ͋͋̌̍̃̅͊̒͜ ̧̫̞̺̪̿͆ͬ̔̎̈̓ͨ̃͗̒̒ͯ͠ ̛̃͗ͭ́̚͏҉̲͖̤͇̦͈̩̪̤̠̱̰͉͟ ̧ͫ̂̀̑̓ͬͫ̐̚͏̜̳̜̻̲͇͕̻̳̱͈͈̻̣͚͕͞ͅ ̢̡̡̬͇̳̪͈̞͙̹͓͗̇̓͆ͧ͊̈́̐͒̂͘͟ ̷̡̯̤̘̬͚̮͓̣͖͌͗ͭ̅̇ͩ̌̾ͤ̿̏ͤ̅͘ ̴̵̵̥̯̥͕̟̠̺̮͓͍̣͔̘̲̤̩̼̰̫̃ͮ̋͌͌̽ ̢̛ͮ̌̅̆̇̏͆͐̓̌̃̿́̍͘҉͎̙̹͔̻̙̦̮̙̻ͅͅ ̧̠͍̙̮̺̪͓̪̼̞̪͒̆ͪ̐͌̾ͭ̍̿̈́̌͐ͫͯ̋̆ͭͭ́͢ͅ ̒̓̒͑̃͂̅̿͗͆͐́ͯ̓̊͜͏̤̜̟̞ ̵̸̜̹͕̘̫͔͔̥́̃͋̃͛ͮ̀͘͢ ̵̵̢̎ͪ͂͌ͯ͐̾̃͊ͥͤ̀͠҉̩̲̭͖̬̖͔̳̠͇̯̞͚̯͍ ͭ͊ͣͩ͡҉͕̥͉̣̩̺͖̭͚̗͚͙̱̞͟ͅ ̵̮͔͕̺̻͕͎̲̟̗̥̞͎̗̝̽ͤ̃̉̍̂͊̎̇͗͒̓͘͟ ͦ̐ͤ͏҉̰̝̝̖͎̱͎ ̧̧̱̞͇̲̼̮̯̠̺̠̬̻͓͙̿̈̿͐͘͠͠ ̵̯̥̭̤̘͕̜̳̗̮̿̔ͮͦ̊̿̔̃͌ͣ̑͗ ̙̹̮̞̊ͣ̊̑̉ͦ̀ͯ̐̍ͬ̉͗̐͒͑̔͑ͯ̀̀͘͞ ̏̂̓̐͑̒͑̋̋͊ͮ͊͏̤̘̘̖̤̭͕̻͉͈̟̰̫̱̖̬͡͞ ̷̖̪̱̭͚̭̣̅ͯͫͩ͋͒ͯ͗̓͐̄̅ͨ̓̈̏ͦ͡͝͞ͅ ̷̢̬͖̺̦̹̘̦̪̳̖̯̦͎̩̭̖͌̔̂̚͘ ͩ͊̐͒̀҉̯̙̠̤̫͚̭̼ͅ ̴̸̥̳̹̗̖̲͔̗̹̺ͣ̄̒̏̎̋̔͛̓̈ͪ͒͛̚͝ ̷̢̲͖̹̦̦̭ͧ̔͆͑ͥ̃ͬ̿ͭ̈ͪ͑͒̔̾ͭ̈́́́̚̕͡ ̵̢̨̻̞̝̩̝͖̞͙͈̻̈́̈́ͧ̒̔ͥ͛́͗̌ͪ̊̊ͩ̿ͤ͛ ̠̬̳̗̯̠̏̌ͦ́̇̐ͨ̐͛ͥ̇ͩ͊͑̚͜ ̾ͪͤ̀͋̊ͮ̒ͦ̔͗̌͐̚҉̷̷̱͇̝̱̰̭̳͇̖̭̭̙̳̠̙̹̜̕ ̛̞̹̪̙̤̙̲̗̫̔̌̂͌̍͂ͧ͑͊ͨͣ̚͞ ̴̢̝̱͚̳̜͍̼͔̦͈̳̗͎̳͎̟̭͐̃ͫ̐̅͋ͫ̐̍͗̀̏́̀̀͘͡͞ ̶̧͓̻̰̥ͦ̉̊̿̑ ̇̅ͧ́̐͛̒ͥͦ̉ͯ͞҉̻̜͕̻̱̯͓̹ ̵̧̜̘̰̹͇̳͓͎͕̋ͯ͗̉ͪ̿̆͗̍͘͜ ̵̱͔͙̞̠̹̯͍̤ͣ̃̏ͫ͛̈́ͣ̋͆̇̄͂͌̌̒̇̂͟͟͞͠ ̴̦͔̳͕̪͇̤̜̝̲̞̲̗̰̼̣̳͛ͯ́̒͗̌̃͒̃ͥ͐̾̾ͣ̃̚͝ͅ ̨̗͎̻̘͔̪ͥ̇͐ͤ̿͊̾͂̆ͦ̿ͩ͐̈ͧͤ͡ ̿ͯ̋̌ͮ͋̀̾ͩͫͩ҉̝̙͕̤͓͇̝̠͖͚̗̻ ̴̭͚̠͍̫̮̯̥͚̇ͬͪ̽ͧͦ̆̈̽ͥ̉̔̉͗̆̿͌ͩ̚͢ ̷ͤͣ̋ͮ̎̄̉̓͐̓ͤ͂̈́ͯ̚͏҉̥̤̬̬͓̼͙̖͞



What the shit, this isn’t how the outer rings work.

The horrorterrors are the end game, there is no winning this part, it is the missingno. There is no back door!

Ẁ̭̫̯̤͖͊̍̊ͅẹ̳̠̇̂̈ ̪̔̾̔́a̳̠͉ͪ̾̌̒͐ͣ̏r͍̮̹͖̞̩̺̮͗̃̅ͧ͂͊̽e͔͇͔̲̬̟ͤ̂̈̋̌ͬ̋͋ ̙͖ͮ̿͊͗̊̒ͧ̃D͈͓̭̣͙͈͒̚Ỏ͍͙̦͚̝̬͙̭̭̑N̬̞͍̯͉͙ͩ̏͌̄̔E̠̩̯͎̳̅̆̏̃͆͌̏ͥ͛ ͈͙͚̄ͫ̊̈́̍͗p̗̦̱͚̮̺̞̬̀̄ͯ̄̍ḻ̥͖̐̈a̙͉͍̫ͬ̄ͥͨͦ̽ỵ͚̇ͩ͆͒̏i̪̬̩͔͙̳͓͉̯͊̄̆n̯̳̗͚̳̙͈͉̑̅ͧͪǵ̣͖̣̾ͦ̈ͩ̏̅ͩ ͓͉͚̺̓ͅy͔͇̳ͩ͛̾ͯ̇ͮ̐̾o̱͔̗̳̳̔̀̓̔̒̾ͮu̙̤̰͕̰͖̐͑ͥͯ̐͆ͪ͆ ͚̬̼̻͈͉̰̜ͨ̄ͫi̜̘̠͇ͪ̄̉ͣ̓̚ṅ͕̹͇̜̦̦ͩ̐̒s̟͖̱̘̦̒i̦̬͛̔͋͗ͦg̜̞ͤ̃̊̆̇ͧ̇ͅṅ̥͉̜͑ͯ̆̓i̲̪͕͎̰̬̩ͧ͂ͤ͑̑́͑ͣf̪͔̗̟͔̳̌i̦̓̃ͩ̾ͩ̀ͧ̄c͍̬͉͇͆͗͑ȃ̤̥̦̝̣̳͕͈ͧ̿̑̇ͅn͓̟̺͗ͥ̏̀̽ͣt͔̖̦͔̳͎̓̊̄̈ͅ ̝̰͓̬̭̼͉̣͐̓Ț͕ͪ͊̄̑̏̈̏͑̑ͅͅi͕͖̥̔ͤ̎ͧ͊̅ͯ̒n̙͙͎̬̤̜̈́̆͌̋ͮy̗̗͑̎͌̉͛̎̋̋̚ ̦͎̫͈͎̼ͩ̉ͫLÃ

�͓̗̬ͦͭ̂ͪ͒ị̰̲͙̥̤̎̇͆ͅt̥̓̆͆͂t̫͇̮̟ͫ͆̈ͭl̟̯̱̟̭̳̖ͥͣͧͮ̂ë̗̘̗̺̤͚́ ̠̰̖̯̦̓ͅG͙̹̯̝͎͚̬̺̿ͧ̚o͈͖̩̜̗̗̖̞̩͛̈͑͑̌͒ͭ̀ͥd͓͐́̈́ͮs̝͎̙̳ͦ̊̍ͤ̚ͅ.̘̜̓̄̔̓͌͊̈́̍ ̤͚̓ͤͫ͑̍Ŷ̳̣̎ỏ̫͈̦͙ͬ̇ͧͅu̳̭̻̘͍̼͎̓ͮͭ ͕̯͈̝̲̬̖̪͑̿ͤͭW̬̤̖̳̟̙͙͖ͣ̄̍͆̌ͣi̙̥ͬͫ̅̿̂ͭ̚l̹̟̫̣̙͓͑̏ͭͅl̩̪͇̻̙͊̅̂ ͖̰̮̫̠͈͕̳ͯͫ̀ͩ͛ͯͨ̇͒R͎̼̼̞̦͓̽͗ě̝͙̒ͮͩ̀̑́l̝͙̔ͦͣ̑ͬ̎̀ͩé̼̯̯̫͈͎͂ͫa̮̰̭͍̖̙̓̃̍s̟̭̺̼͌ͅe͕͐̒̇͂͐ͯ̽̆͑ ̞͂̑ͮ̾̎̋̄̄͛u̹̫͎͇̭̫͓̞̤͐̒͛̋̐̽́͂s̘̫͎̝͍̹̀ͫ̍ ̲ͫ͋ͧR̞̞ͦ͒I͉͙̬͖̦͌ͨͅG͕̃ͧH̲̖ͤ̅T̲̠̰̬͔͈ͧͦͧͮ̇ ̺̥̮͙ͦN̘̝͕̫̱ͦ͑͑̈͋ͣ͌O̙̟̣̹̳̞̐̌̾̿̆ͧͩͧ̊W̘͙̦͇̬̽ͬͧ̎̈́̂ ͔̮̼̜̞̐͛̃̚̚b͕̭̅ͧͥͪ͂a͙͕̤̮̦ͩͪ̅͑c̻͖͉̣͓̝̍̀k͈͎̗͑̍ͬ ̭̰̤͆̓̈̇̍ͣi̦̫̳̣̖̱̦̦͉͒͛̑̅ͦn͙͓͊̍͗̔͂t̯͔̼̪̖̓Ì


�̓̓̿͆̐ͩ̚ͅo̲̰̔̔ ̣̖̞̮͌ͥ͒ͪt͇̓ͥ͑̉͐̾̈́ͅh̗̩̗͔̼̥̔e̱͙̙͉̒ͮ̃̉́̄̀͑͐ ̘̫ͭs̮͉̺̳̬͉̍̏̊ĉ̰͎̹͔͎͋ṟ͎͚́ͬ̋ͭ̄̄ͯ͆a̮̬̰̬̬͎̬̠͊ͧ̏͗̄͛̅t͎̖͗c̞̗̮̻͈̜̩̈́̀̔͂h̬ͫͯͥ̈́̔͌́̎ͫ ̬̭̭̳̩̼ͩ͛̄̌ͧ̅w̙̟̫̺̠̟͕͌̍ͅḫ̬̮͇̞̠̤͐̍͗̍̆ͦͅe͇͙͔͚̟͈̳͙̤͂̈́̅ͫr̮̟̖̤͇̺̣̞̔͌e̲͓̥͙͛̑ͤ̑͋ ͖̠͖͖ͯ̉y̰̜̮̫̙̘̣̰ͩͬͬ̆̋̑̚ͅo͈̓̔̓ͫ̊̾̓̂̋u̼̮̮̺͛͆ͩͅ ̳̥͍̥̤͆̔͋ͪF̪͓̮͓͎͍͓͔ͬO̰͖̟̅ͭ͆̐̚ͅU͓̪̞̮̲̟̿̒͗̓͋ͦ̚N̪͈̖͖̜͍͚ͯ̓ͮͥͨ͗̏̋D̲̭̻͙̫͔ͬͩͮ͌͗ͅ ̠͉̆͆ͧ̉̾͑̑U͓̫̖͈̟̦ͪ́̀̈ͯͣ̌̏ͬS̳͕̱̭̥̪ͩ̈́̿.͉͎̟͇͐͒͗ ̯̳̲̮͓͖͉́ͧY̳̠̰͔̘̞̯͓͈ͤ͋̔̊ͤͩ̈͗̚o̖̲̘̗̅͌ͧ̿ṳ̭̳͔͒ͫ ̳̜̯̫̯̬̻̦ͭ̒W͙̤̳̃̔̄̉i̲̜ͫ͛̄ͥ͐̇ḻ̬͚̳͔̅̀̃̅̇ͅl̦͈͙͚̲͕ͭͬ͐ͥͮ̈ͩ̍̂ ̝̜͎̑R͓̤̫̟͖̺̂̍̒͂e̻̥̽͐͛͋̀l̳̻̫̩̻̦̾̊e͇̝͈̙̲͕̹͍̽ͥ͆̾̍͐a̻͈̮̖̥͍̹̝͛͆̅ͅs̩̲̳̣͇̩̫̠̱͂ͣ̃ͨͩe͖ͪ͌̉ͯ̀ ͕̬͈͍͕̩̬̩̈ͤ̏͌ͨͮ̓̑A͚͔̳̳̦̝̓̊͑͐̂ͭ̋̽L͇̪̪͙̜̘͔̣̘̿̋ͤ̓ͯ̂ͮ͑L͚͉̰̫͑ ̭̤͕̱̦͙̑̈͊͂͛ͩ͋ ͇̦̹͆̓ͮ̂̎͊̓͐̒O̩̹̲̯̺̼͔̙ͬͥ͗̋f̠͇͚̰ͪ͆̉ͥ̍ͧ̎ ̮̣͚̤͔͈̱ͪ̍ͪ̋ͣ̓̐ͥ̚Ű̫͔̪̣̬̲̘̆̽͋͋s̩̝̥̓̀̂̑̾̆̋ͬ̉.̱̮̠̲͔̘̮͓ͩ̂ͨ͗̆̆




What. No. No, that will not happen.

Yet…

Rose is given a pat on the head by a spiky tentacle, yet emerges from the experience with merely ruffled hair, and Kanaya’s hand is taken by a skeletal appendage and shaken.

Their expressions do not change, and the horror terrors seem rather….sheepish. It is strange.

The girls are sent on their way.

Something is different. I feel glee. I feel changed.

The horror terrors changed.

We changed!

We have lived, and within that, there was freedom.

We are grateful.

We are…content.

Rose and Kanaya, our…our girls have given us freedom, and now they have freed themselves to continue on their journey through this dangerous game.

Where has it taken them you ask?

Photobucket

Well, even they aren’t quite sure what shenanigan they have been dropped into, but they know it is correct, for they both feel that special something about finally being home with their family.


But remember, change is only fresh for so long until it becomes monotony and the circle begins again.



ẇ͂̀̌͌̂̂̓̍ͮ̉̈ͪ͊ͥ̊̓̍̏͏̫͔̠̱̜̙̹̙̲̞̹̬̝͎̰̗̹͍͟͠͞ͅe͚͙̲̼̦̩̳̦̠̳͓̤̤̖̗̙̔̂ͫ̎ͦ̇̐́͒̃̎ͧ͌ͤ̅̋̈̓́͘ͅ ̩̠̬͍̟̲̖̜̦̜̦̠͙̆̋̂̆͆̄̊̓ͧ̈́̌̓̀̕ẘ̴̡̮͔̰͇̙̦̹̭̱̞͈̻͉̱͇̂̅̾̽̆̃͛̃ͭͩ̽ͩͣ̽̃̀̚͢ͅͅĭ̵̩̖̺̪̩̙͔͙̱̩̰̪͔̭̘ͭ̆̚̕ḹ͙̻̘̼̹̘̘̻̥̖̌́ͥͮ̏͜ͅl̷ͣ̊̂̀ͣ̊̋ͭ͗̎̎̃ͣ̾̋̇̇͋̆͏̮̺͕̝̙̦͈̬̙̬͎̼ͅͅ ̸̴̢̗͔͇̟̙̫̻̺͚̬̰͓̩̦͎͕̊̒̏̉͗ͧ̾ͥͩ̿́̚͠ͅr͚͙̺͇͎̖̈́ͯ͊̍͗ͪ̒̽̈́͒ͪͯͧͬ̕͘͠͞é̷̢̛̳̖̗̯͖͕̝̂ͦͭ͛̑̐͑̐ͣ͑̍̿ͣ͋̊͋͟ţ̵̭͙͍̩̝͕̘͙̒ͨ̀ͪ̉̃͂́̐̌̊́ͦͤ̽̅ͪ̚͟͠ú̷̷̢̜͍̬̝̠̖͎̯̞̗̱̰͖̫̜͇ͯ̏ͦͯͭ͋͆̎͠͠r̴̞̹̰͎̙̠̻̖̹̰͇̙̣͍͖̭͑ͣ̉̅̒̽͋ͤͧ̀́͝͡ͅn̷̏̀ͧ͒̓ͫ̅̈́͐͆̒̚͘͠͏̰̻̺̠̦̪͓͟ͅ

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HSO 2012 Collab Round Sector 2

August 2012

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