[Panel description: Vriska kneels alone in a landscape of blue-white rolling dunes. She is very small compared to the empty landscape and vacant sky.]
[Panel description: A close up of Vriska from her torso down. Her jeweled bracelet mimicking Meenah's fashion sense has been removed and lies between her knees. Blue teardrops splatter her wrist and the ground.]
[Panel description: Aradia approaches from overhead. She is in her god tier outfit with her hood down, a trail of red streaming behind her.]
[Panel description: Vriska looks up. She is a mess, with stringy hair and tears running down her face.]
[Panel description: Aradia hovers a few feet above the ground facing Vriska, who still kneels. They are rendered as silhouettes against a pale blue and white background.]
VRISKA: Are you here to laugh at me?
The dastardly Serket brought down at last.
No ancestor, no matesprit, no luck, no life.
You're a Time hero. You knew this was coming, didn't you?
That's why you came along in the first place.
You were biding your time, waiting for me to crash and burn.
Well, today's your lucky day!!!!!!!!
Here I am, crashed and burnt.
Bet you think I got what I deserved.
ARADIA: do you think that?
VRISKA: No! I did what everyone else was too lazy or weak or scared to do.
Someone had to stick it to English, and you know I'm the strongest.
It was for the greater good.
Sure, some ghosts died, but they were casualties of war.
ARADIA: did you cry for them?
[Panel description: Vriska grits her teeth. More tears spill out of her eyes, and her nose appears to be running.]
VRISKA: They were different, ok?
They were important to.
To the mission.
[Panel description: Aradia looks down at her, unimpressed.]
VRISKA: Don't look at me like that!
Stop being so calm and quiet I hate it!!!!!!!!
You're just as bad now as you were when you were being a robot.
Shout at me or tell me I ruined everything or be happy that I failed!
Don't just sit there!!!!!!!!
ARADIA: what do you want me to do, vriska?
Anything is better than nothing.
That's why I had to do something.
It's this place.
If you stand still for too long, you get stuck in the same stupid cycles of vapid teen bullshit forever.
Talking and talking about nothing while the world around you breaks apart.
I had to break out of that!
I had to keep going or.
Or I'd be really dead.
[Panel description: Vriska wipes her face with her arm. Tears smear off onto her skin.]
[Panel description: Aradia walks toward Vriska, who turns away looking toward the viewer.]
VRISKA: What's it like?
ARADIA: what is what like?
VRISKA: To be dead. Double dead. Whatever frustratingly redundant or contradictory term we've made up for that state of being or not being.
ARADIA: I don’t know.
it hasn’t happened to me.
VRISKA: Don't bullshit me, Megido. You talk to ghosts all the time.
Without bubbles, I mean.
ARADIA: they’re not very forthcoming.
there is somewhere else, I think.
this place isn’t where souls are meant to go.
[Panel description: Aradia and Vriska both look toward the shattered sky. Purple broken glass patterns cut across it.]
ARADIA: its a fiction of stitched together memories breathed to life by the dark gods.
someday soon it will fade and everyone who has lingered here will move on,
whether English sends them onward violently or not.
VRISKA: Do you think it's better than here?
ARADIA: I hope so.
I want to believe there’s nothing to be afraid of.
VRISKA: I'm not afraid! I was just... curious.
ARADIA: I understand.
I do feel things, you know.
when I see the devastation around us wrought by the rage of the lord of time it does sadden me.
but I try to look at it from a different angle.
many things seem terrible until you realize you’re looking at them from the wrong direction,
and changing your viewpoint can make a lot of things easier.
I try to spread the word that there is nothing to fear because that gives me and other people hope.
I spent time confused and frightened and angry.
and also time feeling nothing much at all.
but I cant let emotions control me,
and neither can you.
this second life is impermanent for everyone.
only a few make it mean something.
they were lucky to have that much.
do you really want to do something to help?
[Panel description: Vriska remains sitting and scowling with her arms folded and resting on her knees. Aradia squats down next to her, smiling.]
VRISKA: Is there anything left I can do?
Without Aranea I can't get my army together.
Everything I did fell apart.
Even the weapon was a bust. All it did was make John disappear after he finished telling me what a loser he thought I was.
It's like my entire afterlife is someone's sick idea of a joke.
Go ahead, laugh.
ARADIA: I’m not here to gloat.
I’m helping a friend.
I might be able to help you.
ARADIA: do you want to do something against lord English,
no matter how dangerous?
VRISKA: Sure! That bastard needs to pay.
ARADIA: there may be an opportunity for you if you’re willing to take it.
VRISKA: I'll take anything.
ARADIA: glad to hear it.
there are some others who have embraced the idea of using their afterlife for good.
they are on their way here.
like I said I’ve been helping a friend.
[Panel description: Aradia gestures happily toward the silhouette of an approaching sailing ship which looms over the dunes.]
ARADIA: and I think you will be delighted to hear that team charge is back in action.
[Panel description: The ship's deck is crowded with ghosts. A Nepeta wearing an animal onesie reminiscent of the lost boys' outfits in Disney's Peter Pan walks across the deck, as does an Eridan in his typical outfit and a God Tier Feferi. A Feferi and Nepeta in their standard outfits lean against the railing. Feferi is looking through a golden spyglass. Another Eridan watches them, frowning, from the other railing. An Equius and two unidentified humans can also be seen.]
VRISKA: Ugh. This isn't possible. Why would they follow you?
You're a huge weenie.
They wouldn't even follow me that well.
I had to bug and fuss and use mind control just to get their stupid butts moving.
TAVROS: well, maybe, you should have tried being nice and making friends and getting people to listen and follow you because they liked you,
Instead of being yelled at, or being forced with psychic powers.
It makes everybody happier!
I just started talking, and they liked what I said, and this happened!
So, all of us are working together now.
VRISKA: That sounds lame.
[Panel description: Tavros stands facing Vriska and Aradia. Vriska looks stunned. Aradia looks at her and smiles widely.]
TAVROS: maybe, but now I’m the one with a lot of friends following me, not you.
[Panel description: The image zooms out to show a crowd of ghosts on the deck of the ship. They are rendered as silhouettes, but a range of trolls are visible, including multiple Karkats, Solluxes, Equiuses, Nepetas, Terezis, Kanayas, Eridans, and Feferis as well as another Aradia.]
TAVROS: I did something that you couldn't do, so I don't care how lame you think it sounds, because it worked.
I guess so.
Hey, maybe we should let bygones be bygones. This army.
VRISKA: Whatever. Can I join up?
I don't know about that.
VRISKA: Why not????
TAVROS: well, a lot of times when I was near you, you made me feel unhappy.
or that I could only be happy by making you happy,
and I thought that was okay.
I don't think you could make me feel that way because now I have a better way of finding my self-esteems,
that is, myself,
but I don't know if I want to be around you still.
[Panel description: Vriska raises both hands and jumps up and down with an attempt at a winning smile. Aradia smiles indulgently. A speech bubble hovers in front of Vriska showing Tavros putting a hand to his chin thoughtfully.]
ARADIA: tavros, you shouldn’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable, but I do think vriska could be useful.
VRISKA: Yes!!!! Listen to her, she knows what's up.
I could be so useful.
TAVROS: why do you want to join, anyway?
so you can be bossy and mean and try to take over again?
VRISKA: So many questions.
Why won't you let me in?
Do you want me to beg????
I want the truth.
VRISKA: That's worse!
VRISKA: English killed people I cared about, ok?
before, I wanted to kill him because I'm the best gamer and that would show everyone how good I am.
And of course because he was endangering reality, blah blah.
But now... this feels a lot more urgent.
Who knew that there were other kinds of motivation besides being awesome?
I want to see that motherfucker burn.
So that's my sob story.
Have I suffered enough for you?
TAVROS: I dunno.
I don't really want anybody to suffer.
I guess you can join.
just maybe, don't talk to me or even get very near me unless I say it’s ok.
Can I be a captain? (eight eyed smiling face).
you seem to forget
this isn't like an official army
with formal ranks or even a formal official leader.
VRISKA: Fine, we’ll do it the loser way, if that’s what makes you happy.
You’re the boss!
So what're we doing anyway?
TAVROS: we're splitting into groups like this one to keep lord English moving around the furthest ring.
some places would be very bad for him to destroy.
and people besides us who are working to defeat him.
when he's chasing us, we buy time for them. (smiling face).
VRISKA: You're using them as bait? Guess you did learn from the best.
TAVROS: no, to both of those things!
they aren't bait, they're distractions, and they try to get away.
sometimes they do die, but aradia made it sound like they go somewhere that's better, so I think maybe it's okay.
pupa pan says death is really a big adventure anyway!
when they're choosing instead of being forced, it makes them dying mean something. if they do die, I mean.
we think it's better to do something and maybe die than do nothing, even if that does mean it's safer for a while.
VRISKA: Good point.
Ha-ha, that's unreal.
Who'd think I'd ever say that to you?
The afterlife sure is full of surprises.
TAVROS: thank you, for that compliment that was also sort of an insult, so I’m not sure how to feel about it.
VRISKA: Feel good, because Megido is right.
You do need me.
[Panel description: Vriska puts one hand to her hip and the other to her head. Her form blurs, and her punk outfit is replaced by her God Tier uniform with the hood pulled up.]
VRISKA: I'm the Thief of Light.
No one in all of reality could be better bait.