Here's something of a writing question. In Genetics, I use a couple of phrases ("prodigal son" and "Machiavellian") that wouldn't necessarily make sense in the Alternia City context. I don't know if this should bother me, but it kinda does (like when I encountered the phrase "train of thought" in a Zelda fic [written BEFORE Spirit Tracks]). Does anybody actually care about that here?
Heh, I know I was a tad nonplussed when a troll adventure used the Oedipus riddle. How would that story even go in a world with no parents and no incest taboo?
I think as long as it's a pop-culture thing that could be reasonably expected to have parallels and doesn't somehow directly conflict with the world it's fine.
I think I should make a habit of checking my writing an hour or two after the initial review. Coming back and cleaning it up, it was a lot easier finding things I did wrong than the three consecutive times I checked it after I finished typing.
I just cleaned up some of the errors I made, and reads a little better now. I'll work on my consistency with tense in my next fic.
Got bored on skype with my RP friends. This ensued:
[5:37:11 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: 2ollux, a veteran cop walking hii2 beat.
[5:37:27 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: vrii2ka 2erket, a young blood quiickly moviing up the rank2.
[5:37:54 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: 8ut it defin8tely ISN'T mind controoooooool!
[5:38:09 PM] arachnidsGrip: That's right Sollux ::::I
[5:38:19 PM] arachnidsGrip: Defin8ly not mind control.
[5:38:22 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: mii2ter pupa, a my2teriiou2 ma2termiind.
[5:38:42 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: and young tavro2, a 2eemiingly iinnocent by2tander.
[5:38:45 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: these.
[5:38:45 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: are.
[5:38:47 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: trollcop2.
[5:38:56 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: bifurcatedRagnarok plays epic theme song of Troll Cops.
[5:39:12 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: "Bad grubs, bad grubs, watchu gonna do?"
[5:39:23 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: "Watchu gonna do when they come for you?"
[5:40:06 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: -An image is seen of officers Pyrope and Captor driving through the streets.
[5:40:09 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: weeoohh!
[5:40:19 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: halt criimiinal 2cum!
[5:40:35 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: -An image is seen of of the cat burgaler Nepeta in cuffs.
[5:40:54 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: :33 You''l never take meow alive! Nya!
[5:41:37 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: -An image is seen of Officer Serket interogating a suspect. Officer Equius bursts through the wall.-
[5:42:04 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: Vriska! They br0ke her out! Nepeta's gone!
[5:42:25 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: Gr8. Leave it to you incompet8nts.
[5:42:50 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: -An image is seen of many Dave's standing in ranks, 1/2 swords drawn-
[5:43:04 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: dave mafiia, thii2 ii2 your la2t chance.
[5:43:16 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: 2tand down, and we wiill let the tiime cloe2 liive.
[5:43:36 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: -An image of the entire troop, standing together, as the thememusic fades.
[5:43:40 PM] bifurcatedRagnarok: All: WE ARE THE LAW.
The Karkat Gang has never been much of a force in Alternia City's eternal turf wars. But without warning and even less explanation, Karkat himself is thrust into the center of the power struggle. The MC want him dead, the Felt want his secrets, and the Trolls find themselves coming close to repeating a history they thought they had already forgotten.
It turns out Karkat is in possession of some kind of ancient knowledge, power or artifact belonging to the Sufferer, and/or is possibly a bloodline descendant. A bunch of Dan Brown shit ensues, and it turns out the reason Gamzee has been Karkat's "best friend" the whole time was to make sure that such a power is never unleashed again. The kicker is that Gamzee only knows of his legacy - and his duty - when he's sober.
I'm pretty sure the general idea is Doc Scratch was a lawyer, one who never appeared in public, and defended the felt whenever they were brought to justice. He had to withdraw into hiding when the Watchful Vigilante came within a hair's breath of exposing his true nature to the world. (His true nature is he's the guy in charge of the felt, in case that wasn't apparent.) Of course all of that is changeable.
@Rational Absurdity: I like that you have given the Black King a place in the setting. He seems pretty interesting in this position.
The drive to the military base was silent. Brennus had been contemplating his meeting with the mayor as he sat alone in the backseat of the bullet-proof car while his agents in the front communed with soft mutters. The general had long awaited the moment he would return to the city, but he found himself speechless at just how easy it had been. He thought back on what lead him to this moment.
Power, from the palm of Baron Kaiser's hand, was taken from him as the Watchful Vigilante threw him into incarceration. He was brought before the Alternian Court in chains, pleading now for mercy to the men who looked down upon him. Humiliating.
He was soon locked up in a high-security prison, awaiting his sentence. However, a figure of the Alternian Military had appeared before him. This man proposed to him freedom, and all he required in turn was the Baron's services. Over the course of the decade, Brennus commanded special forces of the Alternian Military that few even within the high branches of the government knew about.
His experience and knowledge carried him through his tasks one mission at a time as the world around him gradually changed. Regardless of his achievements, he was haunted by the his defeat at the hands of a man vastly inferior to him. A shroud of doubt impeded his judgment, and took fewer risks or decisions that the proud man would have taken years before. Revolting.
Finally, the Disaster shook the Alternian peoples to their very foundations, and Brennus understood its meaning. For years after that, BK bided his time, making connections with powers both known and concealed. His patience had bought the opportunity he long awaited. With immediate transfer, he returned to the city he once called his.
After close investigation, he discovered many things that changed within the city. The general hissed vehemently upon discovering the very man who usurped his throne was now their "Mayor." Intolerable.
He wished to see the face of this scheming cretin in person. To see what had become of the man who stood defiantly against him.
The general rested his head, for he knew now he could take comfort knowing that his doubt was superficial. He did not see an enemy before him. He saw a weak old fool, unable to defend even himself let alone the city. He reveled in the knowledge gained from his encounter, knowing his destiny truly was to rule the people. That is why he was brought back to Alternia City under such circumstances. He knew now the power of the Skaian Artifacts called for him. Power was within his grasp. Power that could shape not just the city, but the world. He needed only prove his worth to the fates. Retribution.
BK spared not a moment of his inspection of Fort Skaia as the car passed through the checkpoint. He mapped the layout within his head, and evaluated the fortifications. Everything appeared up to standard. Satisfied, he turned his attention to the infantry.
Well-seasoned soldiers patrolled the grounds, trained in an organized fashion. He took note of the lack of prospitan and dersite infantry. Though certainly not surprised, he couldn't help but feel dissapointed in this. As a child that grew up reading great war stories of the past, he always envisioned himself commanding an army that stretched its scorched black color across the land as far as his eyes could behold.
The time had come at last. The vehicle slowed to a halt, and BK rose from its shell, where he was greeted by two officers.
"General Kaiser. A pleasure to see you again." spoke the Nightwatch Commander. He had served under the General on more than one occasion. He thought bitterly of Brennus however, as the commander's exploits were often overshadowed by the General and his boasts, usually taking in every bit of credit that was the work of other officers. Nevertheless, he treated Brennus with great respect for the his noteworthy efficiency. He may not admit it, but it was also out of fear.
Brennus nodded to him, and his thoughts immediately focused to the large amount of artifacts recently "recovered," from what he read in a brief report.
"What do you have to report on the Skaian Artifacts?" the General inquired.
"Our scientists still have much to discover from the artifacts. Our operatives struck gold with their last operation, and with this large amount of artifacts we may find what we're looking for sooner than anticipated."
The general's curiosity piqued. He read that they were taken, but not from where. The amount of artifacts they discovered is not simply found. "Where were these artifacts uncovered?"
"There was a covert organization, uh, S.E.E.R, already at work recovering these artifacts. We located and captured their headquarters. Their founder and figurehead absconded into the sewers before we could neutralize her."
BK was silent for a moment. The nervous commander quickly added to his report, "We've been unable to track them, but they won't interfere with our operations. Their organization has no safe place to hide like they did before."
The general was not usually paranoid, but he always practiced caution in the face of potential threats that worked in the shadows. This was no exception. He lowered his gaze to the commander's eye level. He spoke in a calm, but authoritative voice, "Start from the beginning, commander. I want to know everything."
Unfortunately, I ran our of ideas on what to write near the end. Wasn't sure what to relay aside from details already established in Wigmund's fics. So it came off a little short, I think. But I think we know enough about the general now, and what's going on. Also, is there an already established timeline from when WV became mayor? I guesstimated around ten years before the Disaster.
By the by, I noticed BK is similar to General Woundwort from Watership Down, a childhood movie/book/tv show of mine. Thus, this has become my headtheme for Fort Skaia.
The Veil: a maximum security prison from which nobody had ever escaped (and if anyone had, it was completely covered up). The most dangerous criminals were sent there, usually permanently, and there hung over those released a terror of whatever it was that went on inside. Nobody knew what kind of horrors possessed the prison - the only ones who knew were always too afraid to speak of it. It was there that Mr. Pupa found himself.
It wasn't entirely unexpected, of course, and he had contingency plans in place for his possible occupation of The Veil so as to avoid becoming a victim for the whatever lied at the roots of the sordid rumors. A little bit of leverage went a long way, and so it was that Mr. Pupa was incarcerated in a well-lit room, hung with expensive brown tapestries and some of the art he had made sure his troops secured from his mansions. The bed was soft (and impeccably made), the furniture was comfortable, and best of all, he was able to spend almost all of his time alone. Truthfully, this little sojourn in prison made for an excellent holiday.
Mr. Pupa had not, of course, relinquished his control over the city. The media still answered to him, and with his psychic ability to control the consorts of the city, he could get messages out whenever he wanted. Getting messages IN was trickier, though not by much. Mr. Pupa was in fact sorely tempted to make The Veil his base of operations, even at the expense of some flexibility. It would never do in the long run, of course, but it was pleasant for the time being. After the failure of the Rainbow Drinker plan, it was nice to be able to take a step back from everything, reassess, and correct any misaligned pieces of the incomprehensible machine that Mr. Pupa ran.
A guard knocked and poked his head in the room. "A visitor, Mr. Pupa." So delightfully formal. The guards were confused by Mr. Pupa's cultured demeanor as well as the protests that cropped up from time to time throughout the city over his imprisonment. It was not the case that Mr. Pupa controlled the guards, but his leverage was such that they wanted to be in his good graces.
"Send her in, um, if you would." He knew who the visitor was. He had been expecting her. This was a visit which he had been anticipating for some time. He walked to a table in the center of the room on which sat a chess board, pieces already in formation. The strong black and white of the set contrasted nicely with the soft browns of the room. His visitor would appreciate that, though she would probably have preferred something more garish. Closing his eyes, Mr. Pupa tried to imagine a chess set with red pieces, but it was just too ostentatious.
"H3H3H3... H4PPY B1RTHD4Y, MR. PUP4!!!" Officer Terezi Pyrope. Mr. Pupa's bane, the head of the spear that had struck down his machinations. "D1D YOU KNOW TH4T TOD4Y'S N3WSP4P3R H4D 4N 4RT1CL3 C3L3BR4T1NG TH3 B1RTHD4Y OF MR. T4VROS N1TR4M? 1SN'T 1T 4 STR4NG3 CO1NC1D3NC3 TH4T YOUR B1RTHD4YS F4LL ON TH3 S4M3 D4Y, Y34R 4FT3R Y34R?"
Ever the aggressive one, Pyrope. It was a dangerous characteristic in someone as patient as her. "Ah, Officer Pyrope. Let us dispense of these, um, banalities for once, shall we? I have been awaiting our match with a sense of anticipation, and I would hate for this bout to be ruined for me by your harassment."
Pyrope crossed her arms. "1T'S NOT B4N4L, MR. PUP4. TH1S 1S R3L3V4NT. T4VROS N1TR4M, YOU S33, WON TH3 H1GH SCHOOL CH3SS COMP3T1T1ON 4G41NST M3 B4CK 1N TH3 D4Y. 1 W4S WOND3R1NG 1F YOU PL4Y3D 4NYTH1NG L1K3 H1M, P3RH4PS?"
Mr. Pupa sighed. This constant badgering was discourteous. Still, she brought up some memories. Tavros had been home-schooled by private tutors, but he was still permitted to take part in the interscholastic chess tournament, and he dutifully played his part. During his freshman year, he had won the contest easily enough, but the year after that, a blind senior girl was taking part.
Mr. Pupa was sitting on the black side. "You will see soon enough, maybe. Your move."
Pawn to d4. Not exactly outlandish, but it was only the first move. He responded with a pawn to d5. He always played it safe.
The tournament had been abuzz about the blind girl who played chess. It did not leave Tavros flabbergasted - after all, he too could visualize the configuration, and many of his practice games against himself were played without pieces or board. Still, it was a cut above the mean, and he was intrigued.
It was another easy victory, one of which he felt cheated after he learned that Terezi Pyrope had her own way of seeing the world.
Pawn to e4? A bit more interesting. Wondering if the aggressive strategy would pay off for her, he decided to play along. D captured e, to which Pyrope responded with her knight to c3.
Mr. Pupa knew this opening. It was highly aggressive, and she was aiming for rapid positioning - speed at the cost of her gambit pawn. He of all people could appreciate that. The soundness of the opening itself was a subject of some controversy. Perhaps she was trying to say that she was one to get things done by any means? What fun! He accepted the main line of the gambit, moving his knight to f6, counting on his long-term planning to beat out her rush for position.
"SO YOUR SC13NT1ST W4S K4RK4T V4NT4S?" Pawn to f3. "1'V3 H4D 4 F3W RUN-1NS W1TH H1M. 1 N3V3R THOUGHT H3 W4S 4N 3XP3RT G3N3-SPL1C3R. LUCKY BR34K ON YOUR P4RT, HUH?"
Mr. Pupa let his participation in the chess game shift to autopilot. The real match was with the officer herself, and she was making her opening moves there, too. "Mr. Vantas is no expert. His knowledge is actually quite rudimentary. However, I was in possession of some very, um, sophisticated technology that required only knowledge of the fundamentals." He glanced up from the board, looking into Pyrope's red shades. "Mr. Vantas met the minimum requirements for the position, and for convenience, I hired in-house. Progress was virtually guaranteed upon my acquisition of the technology in the first place."
Pyrope moved again. How many turns had taken place? He had lost count, but no matter. "1'M CUR1OUS 4BOUT TH4T, MR. PUP4. WH3R3 D1D YOU G3T TH1S T3CHNOLOGY?"
"Perhaps," he said, watching his opponent closely, "you've heard of the ancient city of Ektos?"
She should have been flustered by that, but Mr. Pupa knew she'd never show it if she were. "4H4H4H4, 3KTOS? TH4T T4L3, MR. PUP4, H4S N3V3R B33N SHOWN TO B3 NOT F4K3. TH3Y'V3 N3V3R UN34RTH3D 4NY RU1NS OF 4NY 4NC13NT C1TY L1K3 TH4T."
She had left a bishop vulnerable, but Mr. Pupa graciously decided to leave it be. Capturing the bishop would initiate an exciting string of captures, and despite knowing that the delay was a suboptimal strategy, Mr. Pupa wanted to savor the moment. "You may be right. It is, after all, much more likely that I merely sent a team to abscond with government blueprints. Perhaps that is what I did." He smiled. It would be interesting to see what Pyrope did with the hint about Ektos he had left her.
Ektos, of course, had indeed been a real city some 1400 years before, and it fell prey to an unspecified disaster of its own making. Its technology had reputedly been unmatched for its time, though virtually nobody in the present day knew how advanced it had been. Virtually.
Mr. Pupa was one of the few who had seen genuine Ektos artifacts, marvels so radical that they appeared to be supernatural in their function. The secret society SEER was founded for the very purpose of researching Ektos, and presumably the government was also aware of its existence. Before the city's destruction, there had been a mass exodus of rebels and dissenters who brought with them small pieces of the wonders of Ektos, the only artifacts to survive the city's complete annihilation. It was with these that Mr. Pupa had altered the very code of life, creating the beautiful monster that Officer Pyrope and her team had undone. Tragic, really, but it was hardly his only card.
Indeed, much of Mr. Pupa's success came from obtaining, comprehending, and utilizing the artifacts. The psychic shield chip in his head, for example, or the Gl'bgolyb psychic shockwave that had incapacitated Pyrope's partner during their raid on his estate. His final goal, of course, was yet to be realized.
"TO B3 HON3ST, 1'V3 N3V3R R34LLY L1K3D TH1S G4M3." Pyrope made another move. That bishop was still out of position, practically suicidal. Mr. Pupa double-checked the board to make sure she was not baiting him. "SOLLUX COULD PROB4BLY B34T M3. M4YB3 YOU'D L1K3 PL4Y1NG H1M B3TT3R."
Officer Sollux Captor, her partner. A brilliant individual in his own way, and certainly dangerous, but far too linear to be actually interesting. "I believe that I would find Officer Captor too, er, predictable." He captured the bishop, and the exchange went off exactly as expected.
Mr. Pupa felt a tinge of pride. Terezi Pyrope was, in some ways, his smartest and most dangerous opponent, and even she had no idea what his endgame was. Naturally he couldn't tell her, but he would give her something better than silence, at least. "Officer Pyrope, you are an extremely competent, dangerous, and effective individual. If you were a piece on this board..." He looked at the board. The white queen was still uncaptured, and Pyrope was setting it up to fork his rooks. What wonderful bait rooks made. "Were you a piece, you would almost certainly be a queen." He paused and gave the board a final glance, making sure everything was in place. "As for me, I'm not really like that. My preference is to be the one moving the board as a whole but doing very little moving on it myself. In this way, I am like the king. My goal is to avoid checkmate."
It was vague, but someone as clever as Pyrope would be able to make do with that for the time being. She started to smile, her lips extending impossibly far across her face, her sharp pearly whites matching her chess pieces. It was a base tactic, baring her teeth like that, but Mr. Pupa was sure that it was often effective.
"1F YOU'R3 TH4T K1NG, MR. PUP4, WHO 1S TH3 OTH3R ON3?"
Very perceptive. He would have expected nothing less from her. "Surely, Officer Pyrope, you already know?"
The obvious conclusion to draw was that he was talking about Alternia City. Pyrope frowned. Would that gambit be enough to draw her attention away from the real issue?
He looked at the board. Endgame had come, and his position was certain. She was going to attack, he would slaughter her pieces with a series of pins he had set up to use in combination, and then it would be checkmate. All he had to do was wait for her to move.
She didn't attack. She retreated, hiding her king behind a row of pawns. Mr. Pupa felt a flash of panic, stunned at her complete reverse of strategy. Had he thought the game through enough to anticipate this? Did this cause his intricate plan to fall apart? She had been aggressive all game! This deviation from expectation was...
It was like Vriska's. An ephiphany of insight, and Mr. Pupa realized Pyrope's game. Her grin was still plastered across her face. He looked back to the board, seeing only then that she had trapped herself. Moving his rook across the board, he said softly, "That is checkmate, I believe."
She reached out and tipped her king. "1'V3 N3V3R R34LLY L1K3D TH1S G4M3." She got up and turned to leave. Her back facing him, she said, "1T WON'T B3 TH4T 34SY TO T4K3 MY C1TY, MR. PUP4. H3H3H3..." With that, she walked out.
Mr. Pupa almost sighed in relief. She probably suspected that he was deflecting her when he led her to believe that her king was Alternia City, but that would at least distract her. She was definitely dangerous, though. He had won the chess game, but she had really startled him with her retreat. Who had won the game between their minds? It was hard to say. They had both learned more about each other. She had also revealed her knowledge of his overreliance on behavior modeling, the flaw that had led to his loss before. On the other hand, she still did not know why he schemed against Alternia City.
In truth, Mr. Pupa did not care one way or the other for the city - if Terezi was the queen, the city itself was the row of pawns on her side. The white king was, like the black king, Mr. Pupa himself.
The resurgence of ectobiological research into academia demonstrated a remarkable short-sightedness on the parts of the world's scientists and philosophers. The mixture of time-travel and biology had severe implications. The professors had, of course, babbled on and on about how it would be possible to be the one who brought oneself into existence, but they did not see that it was likewise possible to modify that body and, subsequently, oneself. The dissidents of Ektos had warned against the dangers of this in their riddles and journals, warning against one who would take up this power and use it to make oneself too powerful. Mr. Pupa's ears were, however, deaf to these portents - here was the chance to make himself immortal and omnipotent! His opponents saw the steps he took and the gambits he made, but without his vision for the big picture, they would never see where he was going with all of it, and not knowing, they would sow the seeds of their defeat even in their victory.
Alternia City held an unusually large trove of the artifacts of Ektos, and so it was a key to Mr. Pupa, nothing more. He needed more technology to supplement what he already had: the genetic code of the First Guardian.
Mere power was consequently uninteresting. With but a little time, Mr. Pupa would turn himself into the city's God.
I actually do a fair bit of research for my stories here. I spent about an hour reading up on how tasers affected people back when I was writing The Resplendent Assassin, and for this short, I researched chess openings. The idea was to give Terezi a very aggressive opening; I feel that fits her better. She ended up using the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. I had a fun time taking the algebraic notation on the Wikipedia article and turning it into a story.
Terezi is a lot harder to capture in third-person. I think I'll be avoiding writing her unless it's from her perspective from now on.
Also, I now have an excuse for the existence of SEER (which suddenly stands for the Society of Ektos Excavation and Research instead of whatever it stands for to everyone else, go me?). Ektos is Greek for "outside" and is actually the root of the prefix "ecto". Good enough for me.
This was actually quite a bit harder to write than I thought it would be, and the next one is likely to be even harder: Gamzee Makara starring as your third-person POV character in Sopor Somnolence. Maybe I won't procrastinate on that one so much?
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah, RA, Watership Down is one of the best books ever! Aaaaaaaaah...
I just read your fic, but I'm all kinds of sleepy right now due to staying up to type mine, so I think I'll have to give it another go tomorrow. I liked the detail about the lack of Dersites/Prospitians and BK's own thoughts on that, though. Nice world-building.
Thanks for the encouragement, tectonicRobot! I'm actually worried that it's too much exposition in too little space (honestly, that was kind of an expofic with chess and flashbacks to pad it out), but on the other hand, the idea's coming from left field to begin with, so no matter where I stuff it, it'll feel out of place until I can start building around it. Like scientist-Karkat, whom I have not been able to leave alone (now I've clarified that he's not a scientific genius, just a schmo with fancy gadgets supplied by Mr. Pupa who got them from the remains of some dissidents who brought them out of a city that was destroyed 1411 years beforehand).
Yeah, that last sentence makes me want to both laugh and cry. :P
Not all nights in the City are filled with gangs, explosions, cops, and action. Some nights, a coolkid just needs to walk home in the dark.
I'm more of a writer than an artist, so I might write something to go along with this. I was going to try a Mysterious green-coated arrival in an alley, but I thought working in the framework was probably best.
EDIT: I loved the chess-fic. If I had a problem with it, it was that it's central included device ( IE:
The lost city
) device was completely new, not adapted from canon or its characters, which is always a risky move. I remember a Harry Potter fanfic which completely rewrote the story around time travel, which was fine until the lost city of Atlantis and the skull golems turned up.
The characterization was great here, though, and I loved the way you used a new idea to explain reintegrating a story device. Probably the best I have seen this sort of thing done, to be honest: Deviation to include devices which could not be explained otherwise. Please keep writing, I will keep reading.
Last edited by Fire Goliath; 05-07-2011 at 06:55 AM.
Gamzee opened his eyes. Or perhaps they had already been open? It didn't concern him. Whatever the case, it was morning. Karkat was still asleep, though, and above his bed stood a huge bull with coal-black eyes, its steel hooves ready to trample everything.
Karkat was still asleep, and apparently having nightmares. The room was dark and otherwise empty. It was time to head out - it was a day in which important things were to be done.
In the living room, Nepeta was already awake, sitting on the floor by a bowl of cereal. She looked up and smiled. ":33 < *the huntress raises her head and watches her friend come out from hipurrnation, the long sl33p of winter finally over. she twiches her tail, eager to play with her newly awake friend, but first she n33ds to tell him that mr. pupurr sent them a letter from jail.*" She pointed to a letter that had been slid under the door, Mr. Pupa's signature wax seal identifying its source. It was covered in tar and oil, and the smell was so strong that Gamzee could hardly breathe. The nice floor was getting stained, and the slick was spreading - how could they ever eat off of the floor together again? Fortunately, there was a pail of suds nearby. Gamzee grabbed it in a rush and poured it onto the floor, and he started to reach for a mop to-
":33 < gamz33, my cereal!"
Nepeta snatched the letter from the milk-covered floor and put it on the counter. ":33 < we n33d to hurry and clean this mess up before karkat wakes up, and i wanted to eat that! :((" Her disappointment was a boulder from the sky - Gamzee needed to get out before he was crushed. ":33 < where are you going? aren't you going to help me clean?"
The morning air was nice and cool even this late in the spring. Gamzee felt like he was tracking Mr. Pupa's pitch after himself on the sidewalk, but he couldn't see anything, so maybe it was imaginary? He didn't like the thought that he was leaving a trail, though.
Walking by a park, he saw an old human woman. She was feeding birds. She was also a bird, a bird in a cage, and the cage door was hanging open. The bird would soon be free. Miracles.
Past the park, Gamzee saw a dark alley. A lone homeless man across the street watched Gamzee enter it. There were hundreds of him, all crowding to sit on that one corner, and any minute now, they would begin to massacre each other. Or had they already started?
He ignored the man and continued down the alley. Whoever that man was, he wasn't going to report Gamzee to the police, so he wasn't important.
Gamzee was actually early this time. The ever-punctual Dersite, on the other hand, arrived at exactly the scheduled regular time. His face sneered with pride over how tough he was, and Gamzee could see the danger. It was a giant centipede, and its mandibles could eat through anything. This one was only a single leg, but Gamzee shuddered to think of what would happen if the whole bug were to descend upon him and his gang.
The members of the Midnight Crew (or at least the ones Gamzee had encountered) were not very talkative. That made things easier - Gamzee could never remember what he was supposed to say to things. He handed over part of his stipend from Mr. Pupa (was the money a bit oily? would the Dersite notice?), and the Dersite handed him a baggie with capsules of green gell. He pulled one out and downed it right then and there, putting the rest into his pockets.
Much better. With the sopor slime, he couldn't feel the rage against the cages that held all of the pretty birds captive.
He had only tried to quit once, back in the days before Nepeta and Karkat. After a couple of days or weeks or something, he had come to see the little birdies inside of everyone. They oh so wanted to fly free, and the longer he saw them, the angrier he got at the hard, cruel cages. Shortly thereafter, he was walking down an alley, and he saw a human woman being mugged by a pair of men, one troll and one human. The little birds inside them were flying around in a panic. This was wrong, so wrong, he couldn't stand to watch this anymore, he had to do something, had to break the cages and let the birds free. He roared or screamed or something (hard to remember), and then began to bash in the ugly metal jails, and oh how harshly their rusty frames squealed at it, but how beautiful the imminent release-
Gamzee had then blinked.
They were all twisted and broken, their blood splattered all over the alley. He looked at his hands. Covered in blood. It wasn't his. He had killed them, oh gog, he had killed them...
After that, Gamzee had run away and washed himself in a fountain or duck pond or something. He jumped a dealer, took his sopor, and never tried to quit again.
He had walked halfway home without realizing it. He was passing the park and looked inside to see an ambulance. They were carrying the old woman into it, but they weren't rushed. They too could see that it was just an empty cage. The pigeons watched him pass. They were as big as dogs, and their teeth scared Gamzee into walking faster.
Gamzee stepped back in the door of the apartment. Karkat was talking to Nepeta about something, some dream he had the night before about a cow or something trying to step on him. Nepeta gave Gamzee a little glare, but she would forgive him. She was pure and white, her heart covered by a brilliant pearl. Karkat, too, was a great person, the heavy slab of stone on his back the only barrier between happiness and tragedy. It was hard to understand how everything fit together, but Gamzee could see Karkat's sacrifices for Nepeta and himself, even if he didn't know what they meant.
The sopor capsules in this pockets were leeches, a writhing mass that threatened to flop out and suck out the happiness of the room. They would latch onto their eyes and draw out the their juices, and the three friends would not be able to see each other, would not be able to help each other out from under the masses of leeches that sucked them empty, and-
Karkat knew that Gamzee had a history with sopor, but he thought that it was over before they had even met. In truth, Gamzee had never quit, and that was his big secret.
Karkat's hands were grimy and dripping with oil. Gamzee looked to the counter - the letter had been opened.
"NOW THAT WE'RE ALL HERE, I WANTED TO QUICKLY LET YOU ALL KNOW THAT MR. PUPA HAS ASSIGNED US ANOTHER JOB."
Mr. Pupa? That man was scary. There was no little bird inside that cage. Instead, there was something else, something too horrible to even think about, and it could never ever escape.
No use dwelling on that, though. Gamzee sat down with his friends on the floor, and kind Nepeta slid him a bowl of cereal. ":33 < careful that you don't spill that," she said, giving him a small wink. Forgiven. Such dear friends they were. Smiling, Gamzee looked up to the ceiling, staring at the clock that only he could see and wondering what it was counting down to.
Yay! I'm done with all of the fics that I've outlined! I'm currently planning an Equius and Aradia fic. It might end up a few chapters, but it'll be pretty short overall and somewhat silly in nature (I hope).
So, completely contrary to what I expected, this was a lot easier to write than my previous one. Maybe it's just because I did this one early in the morning instead of late at night? Who knows?
Anyways, I have now sneaked RAGE!GAMZEE into this AU, and I don't think I can allow him to emerge without killing some major character or another (to do otherwise would be to undermine his legitimacy as a threat), and I don't want to kill any characters, at least for a while. I still need to learn how they interact with each other in order that I might know how everyone would react to the death. So... no tragedies just yet. Yay? Yay.
Thanks for the compliments! Yeah, I know that what I'm doing with the city carries the heavy risk of being TOTAL SUXOR. :P Fortunately, I've left myself a lot of wiggle room into which I can shovel more canon until Ektos ends up seeming like it actually belongs there or something. ^_^
Also, I love the little details you worked into the picture. I don't know what's hanging out of the trash can, though. What is it?
Oh god, I disappear for over a month and awesomeness happens.
Huanir, I'm loving your stuff and when I'm not half brain dead I'm gonna read everything.
I'm gonna continue Would You Kindly along with the rest of the background bios and other stories I promised so long ago. I probably should write up head-canon bios and other background details (like city & world history, landmark details, etc) for myself to share...maybe that'll get me back in the writing mood again.
Loved the Gamzee and Pupa stories, Huanir. I love it when scenarios like your chess match play out. The best part of characterization is connecting it with the story details and vocabulary.
And welcome back, Wigmund! I can't wait to see what you hatch up. It was your fanfics that got me addicted to the thread.
So, since there was apparently never an entry on Karkat's time spent in The Veil, I think I'll start writing a fic on it. I'm half-tempted to call it The Week Vantas Spent in Jail.