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[Panel description: Rose stands in a room lined with floor to ceiling bookshelves. She is holding a green book with yellowed pages in her hands and looking down at it. Behind her, Dave walks into the room and waves.]

DAVE: what are you up to?
ROSE: Looking through my notes.
Roxy's plan to rescue her cherub friend didn't go as planned.
I'm hoping something I learned on our travels will be useful.
DAVE: any luck.
ROSE: None so far.
I'll know it when I see it.
DAVE: good one.
ROSE: I heard you've been telling tales on me.
DAVE: says who.
ROSE: You.
Your other self confronted me about my drinking habits.
He was very vehement about it.
DAVE: I have my issues with the guy but he’s got a point.
siblings are supposed to look out for each other.
instead I let my sister turn into an alcoholic and was like welp have fun with that.
ROSE: You weren't responsible for my bad choices.
DAVE: I should have said something.
anything.
even hey you’ve made bad choices but check out the huge mistakes I’ve been making.
sorry you only get the silver medal in being a fuckup.
ROSE: Wouldn't that motivate me to go for gold?
DAVE: you’re too ambitious that’s your problem.
ROSE: What makes you outrank me?
I've racked up a fair amount of points in the fuckup department.
My swan dive down the stairs on my first date has got to be a perfect ten.
DAVE: the judges were blown away there I’m not gonna lie.
great form and you stuck the landing.
but my recent accomplishments include punching myself in the face.
beat that.
ROSE: Ah, I was wondering about the black eye.
DAVE: fucking seers.
can’t get anything past you.
ROSE: Just to make sure, this was a blow dealt by your alternate self, right?
Otherwise I may have to agree that the gold is uncontested.
DAVE: yeah we had a disagreement.
ROSE: I'm not surprised. You seem on edge.
DAVE: it’s this not doing anything.
it’s weird.
last session I was doing everything usually at the same time.
robbing nakkodiles killing underlings breeding frogs,
and bailing all our asses out when needed.
but now johns the cosmic cleanup crew.
and good on him he’s doing fine but,
didn’t see that coming.
ROSE: Why not?
DAVE: john’s john.
he’s a standup guy and the closest thing we’ve got to a hero but I always figured I’d be doing the saving in the equation.
you know,
telling him to keep his ass on the ground when he tries to jet off to a meet and greet with his denizen.
that kind of thing.
instead I got skewered by two pissed off pooches and he saved my life.
ROSE: While you were trying to save Jade, no less.
DAVE: yeah.
someone had to get her body back for Jane.
ROSE: They took her to her quest bed, didn't they?
Presumably you could have waited them out and avoided a fight.
DAVE: maybe.
who knows?
people have made the suggestion but hindsight’s 20 20 assuming you haven’t got tinted pieces of shit in front of your face.
I got caught up in the heat of the moment.
if you recall there was a lot going on.
ROSE: Understandable. I made reckless choices of my own, so it's hard for me to criticize you too much without relinquishing my jealously guarded moral high ground.
I only just crawled up here, and I'm not about to let you unseat me.
But do you think you might have a vested interest in saving people?
One that sometimes, if I dare say it, may clash with common sense?
DAVE: what do you mean?
whatever shitty choices I make I think wanting to keep people safe has got to be above board.
as far as I can tell it’s the one thing I’ve done right.
ROSE: Maybe it qualifies as above board.
At least, all your cards are clearly visible.
No heroic impulses hidden up your sleeve, I take it?
But you're beating yourself up for not curing me of my addiction.
Your first response in a crisis was to recover the corpse of the girl you once considered our weakest link.
And John's display of capability seems to have left you at a loss.
Are you feeling threatened?
Maybe the idea that no one needs saving means you no longer know what to do.
DAVE: oh wow this conversation was cruising at Olympic metaphors but it took a sudden skydive and smashed into the outrageous assumptions zone.
I’m calling foul.
ROSE: Do the Olympics have fouls?
At least in whatever sport we categorized our personal failures under?
DAVE: we left the Olympic metaphor altitude remember.
look,
I’m not going to have a meltdown because john leveled up past me or anything.
it took me by surprise that’s all.
ROSE: As did Jade's grim bark outbursts?
DAVE: you’re not saying you saw those coming are you.
ROSE: Maybe not so dramatically, but the news didn't throw me as much.
DAVE: are you telling me I don’t know my friends.
ROSE: You saw what you wanted to see.
Despite being a Seer and the only person from our session not burdened with eyewear of some kind, I've had that problem.
I convinced myself my mother's affectionate gestures were passive aggressive because it fit better with the narrative I'd constructed around her.
I misjudged you when I thought a ball of yarn would be enough to keep you away, because I wanted it to.
You wanted to be a hero. You saw friends you needed to save.
DAVE: so what does that assessment say about me.
I’m useless.
white knighting it up when there’s no dragon in sight.
never seeing who anyone really is because the truth is they don’t need me.
ROSE: Maybe they don't need a savior, but that doesn't mean they don't need you.
It's ok to be the Dave of Guy sometimes.
He's valuable too.
DAVE: he doesn’t get the job done.
ROSE: Do you know that for sure?
DAVE: if you haven’t noticed I haven’t been doing too hot lately.
ROSE: Maybe you're not seeing yourself clearly either.
DAVE: or I’m seeing myself way too clearly,
on account of myself being an additional physical presence that’s happy to get in my face and accuse me of being a raging douche.
which is eye-opening if only because it’s like being yelled at by a sentient traffic cone.
but we’re sworn to secrecy about that whole incident so forget I said anything.

[Panel description: Karkat sticks his head into the scene from the left edge of the panel. Rose looks up from her book at him in surprise. Dave is standing next to her.]

KARKAT: said what exactly?
DAVE: damn.
nothing.
KARKAT: fine, fine, continue to leave the lowly mortal out of your informational cycle, I hardly mind at this point.
This isn't the first time I have been left out of human-sibling affairs today.
If my presence is unwanted I’ll raise my own foot to my posterior and kick my own ass out.
ROSE: I don't mind.
Dave was arguing he's the most dysfunctional of our merry little band.
You might be interested in throwing your hat in the ring.

[Panel description: Rose holds the book open to a page covered in purple scribbles. Some of the scribbles are poorly drawn dicks left over from the penis Ouija incident during the meteor's three year journey.]

DAVE: there’s evidence right there.
remember this bullshit.
ROSE: Vividly.
KARKAT: if that proves anyone here has problems, it's me.
Remember, I was the one who wanted to monopolize her time.
I was so busy running the terezi Olympics to prove who deserved her that I left her passed out in a puddle of faygo under the bleachers while I flipped around on the high bar like some kind of douche.
ROSE: Oh excellent, another Olympic contender.
It seems we've reattained that altitude after all.
The passengers are clapping and the flight attendants will be out with complimentary refreshments in a moment.
KARKAT: what is she talking about?
DAVE: you picked up our dropped sports metaphor ball, ran with it, and scored a free throw.
ten points.
KARKAT: what are you talking about?
DAVE: don’t worry about it, just keep up with the self deprecating monologue.
that’s today’s routine.
KARKAT: in short,
I am the shitty friend. It is me.
DAVE: I’m a shitty friend AND a shitty brother so you’ve got company.
I could tell rose and terezi obviously had problems but I convinced myself it wasn’t my business to say anything.
ROSE: It wasn't.
DAVE: you being ok is my business.
it doesn’t even matter if there’s a hero complex involved that’s how family works.
and terezi helped me out when I needed it.
I should have returned the favor.
ROSE: Several people today have made a case for interference.
But you can't blame yourself solely for not intervening in a problem of my own creation.
Obviously I'm the main culprit there, and no single outsider could have rescued me, no matter how appealing the idea.
I don't care if you rode in through Earth's atmosphere on my pilfered pony.
White knighting won't cut it here.
KARKAT: in summary: we all suck.
What does the therapist say about our chances at sucking slightly less in the future?
ROSE: We're talking about it.
That's something.
KARKAT: I find it hard to believe such a simple solution is a cure to all our interpersonal ills.
To say nothing of Dave never shutting up, condemning us all to the endless red miles of text dumped into our inboxes at any given moment.
It never ends. No one escapes.
If that was the antidote I’d be the healthiest motherfucker on this goddamn meteor.
DAVE: look who’s talking.
ROSE: Talking doesn't always mean communication.
Sometimes it's empty air, and I think a lot of the past three years qualifies as the latter.
Declaring ourselves shitty people isn't the most psychologically constructive pastime, but at least we're not pretending everything is fine.
I suppose we could call that progress?
In roughly the same way as finally getting a diagnosis for whatever chronic malaise has been plaguing you counts as progress toward a cure.
Now it's time for the horribly uncomfortable and invasive treatment process.
DAVE: what’s the prognosis?
KARKAT: please, doctor lalonde, blow our frilly skirts up with your wisdom.
ROSE: I'd prescribe honesty and time.
It'll take a lot of time.
DAVE: that’s one thing I’ve got loads of.
theoretically anyway.
ROSE: Optimism. That's good too.

[Panel description: The three of them all look down at the book in Rose's hands. Her eyes widen.]

ROSE: Oh, I think I found something.
Carry on, you two.
I need to check some other sources.

[Panel description: Rose dashes out of the room.]

[Panel description: Dave lifts one of the penis-adorned pages.]

[Panel description: He presses the page out flat.]

DAVE: damn.
this is grade school yearbook levels of retroactive embarrassment.
like getting ambushed by a picture of yourself in braces and a graphic print ninja turtles t shirt.
you try to say you didn’t think they were cool and you meant it ironically but deep down you know the truth.
KARKAT: what the hell is a yearbook?
DAVE: oh right trolls don’t do the organized education thing.
and here people say your species was more violent and depraved.
KARKAT: contrary to your culturally ignorant presumption, we do train for our future careers.
It's only between that and the trials that we're left to fend for ourselves.
Think of it as letting nature take its course.
DAVE: public education isn’t that different to be honest.
I’ll show you one of my middle school yearbooks sometime now that I’ve got my house back.
then you’ll understand you lucked out.
KARKAT: I thought these mysterious documents were land mines of potential mortification waiting to explode and send shame shrapnels slicing through all bystanders.
Isn't there a risk of triggering some kind of nostalgia fueled emotional breakdown?
I don't want to be responsible for that.
I still remember the time rose had a conniption over that wizard story, wizardy whatever the fuck it was called.
DAVE: rose isn’t happy unless she’s having some kind of psychological break over wizards.
as for stealth humiliation I think we’ve cleared that hurdle by now.
all of our conversations are so thoroughly drenched in faux pas it’s an essential ingredient at this point.
stuffed in the basket on chopped and if we leave it out we’ll lose points.
I’m not getting kicked out for a blunder that basic.
KARKAT: then tell me with your culinary wisdom, why are we absolutely incapable of having a normal conversation?
DAVE: dunno.
it doesn’t help that all your descriptions are gross and depraved.
KARKAT: mine? May I remind you who drew all the human genitalia on the contested surfaces in question?
DAVE: wow ok the perpetrator was never determined.
I’m still saying it was the dick phantom.
hm.
not enough alliteration there.
sausage specter.
gonad ghost.
KARKAT: bulge banshee?
DAVE: nah banshees scream.
that’s a vital part of the banshee mythos.
a bulge banshee would scream every time you dropped your pants or something,
which is understandable but not any of the observed phenomenon.
KARKAT: I find the image of a screaming flesh-tendril to be suitably depraved considering the context.
I dimly recall our idiotic arm-wrestling over this page in the book.
I've done my best to block it from my memory owing to what a fucking embarrassment it later became.
Whatever you have to say about culinary masterpieces, this isn't a component of my ideal nutrition regimen.
And I don't think you possess much expertise in the discipline, if the junk you keep stashing in the air vents is any indication,
Why are the air vents such a hot piece of real estate anyway?
It's like everyone considers them part of their personal lawn ring.
You can't do anything without someone crawling around in there or concealing contraband snack food or having illicit and regrettable liaisons.
I can't imagine it's comfortable.
DAVE: being in a video game for a few years is rubbing off on us.
I got a crowbar today I’m getting more in character every second.
KARKAT: I’ll just assume that means something in your cultural parlance.
Still I nominate this book as something else to get undone if john continues his universal tidying spree.
I had no desire to know even the barest outline of your human genitals.
Not that I expect these are examples of artistic precision.
They look like wiggler scribblings.
DAVE: dude I thought you were religiously watching those dane cook romcoms didn’t you at least get a sneak peek.
I’m not torrenting you human pornos you’re gonna have to go on that journey of discovery yourself.
KARKAT: no thank you. That is an area of human behavior I’m happy to leave to my imagination.
DAVE: oh you’re imagining it huh.
what else aren’t you telling me dude.
KARKAT: if you had let me finish I would have added on the informative clarification as follows:
Ahem.
Not that I’m thinking about it on a regular basis or anything!
Unless of course I am pondering details for a horror novella.
Something to compete with rose's eldritch horror terror fiction journals.
DAVE: sure you are.
although for rose I’m pretty sure those two genres are interchangeable.
sexy encounters from beyond the void.
there are whole GENRES about tentacles and she didn’t even have to invent them.
hope you’re proud of the species you engineered.
KARKAT: it's only fitting that your propagation continues to be fucking disgusting, I guess.
I’m sure your reproduction ritual is as horrifying as ours is, if not more so.
How can it not be, if you’re stuck with those deformed carrots for unmentionables?
DAVE: hey now I don’t think you want to get into a battle over alien junk.
for one thing I’m pretty sure that’s how the first legit intergalactic war would be declared.
not over resource rights or accidentally insulting their ambassadors,
just humanity’s insatiable longing to know what alien dicks look like overwhelming all propriety when welcoming extraterrestrial guests.
fast-forward five years with a bunch of rugged survivors hiding out in the mountains sitting around a campfire going if only we hadn’t asked,
all of this could have been avoided.
the president would still be alive.
we’d have wifi.
it wasn’t fucking worth it man.
KARKAT: what an inane thing to get hung up over.
And I’m not saying that because I’ve ever lain awake at night, wondering exactly what slime-covered appendage you were attempting to depict in these toddler scribblings.
That definitely hasn't happened.
DAVE: you know when rose encouraged us all to have more open lines of communication for psychological growth I have a feeling that this wasn’t what she had in mind.
she should have stayed to supervise.
KARKAT: speak for yourself.
Please, continue blowing your self-serving air out of your human face-holes.
I can feel myself getting healthier by the minute.
I am going to harness all this inanity into an elixir of emotional well-being whether or not you make any meaningful contributions, just see if I don't.
No one can say I don't follow the doctor's orders.
Besides I’m sure she would have started psycho-discombobulating on our inner desires for extraterrestrial bulge, so I for one am grateful for whatever sudden line of convenient insight has led her out of the room.
Even if that entire line of conversation was definitely your fault.
DAVE: sure blame me like this wasn’t a mutual effort.
KARKAT: either way our conversation has gone off the rails and is rolling into the awkward and uncomfortable district with the fury of an unleashed choler bear.
Again.
DAVE: it’s our nature.
we can’t fight it.
might as well accept it.
KARKAT: it's really miraculous that this happens.
Similar to the way you can't carry on a serious conversation for more than five minutes without either transforming into a sarcastic asshole or raving douche.
Dave: rude.
KARKAT: Hey, I didn't say that I don't do the same thing.
Is that why we ended up being friends?
We're the only two who can put up with each other's shit
Because by some strange metaphysical principle it's exactly the same shit.
Reflected across two universes like my own retroactive gift to myself in the form of a smarmy human.
Slap a bow on your head with a handwritten note saying enjoy your new best friend asshole.
He's slightly used and bleeds easily but keep him fed and gently watered and he'll be fine!
DAVE: how did this even happen.
I don’t remember.
one minute you’re glowering at me from behind treasure chests and the next you’re reading me troll rom novels.
of course there was the transition period where you had to sit on me to make me stay during karkat story time sessions.
KARKAT: it's pathetic how scrawny you humans are.
Any of the fauna on alternia could have eaten you for dinner without having to chew first.
DAVE: hey it’s not like we were getting the optimal diet for a growing humans needs.
Gerber would throw a fit if they saw the slop you serve up.
ignoring the fact that based on the names of some of your food products you’re apparently all cannibals because I don’t even want to think about that.
plus our vitamin d ration was seriously under recommended levels.
KARKAT: Vitamin D?
DAVE: you need it for healthy bones.
KARKAT: oh, you're being obscene again. Got it.
DAVE: surprisingly for once I’m not.
look it up.
maybe scientists were getting a giggle on in the laboratories I don’t know.
I could ask jade about it.
do you think that’s something she knows about?
"hey jade is it recorded if scientists are ever immature doofuses who name substances for the hilarity factor".
it would explain a lot.
KARKAT: I’m not sure I know how it happened either.
I guess eventually I realized I didn't have enough friends left that I could spoil the opportunity to get more out of pride.
One day you look at your social calendar and realize all your old acquaintances are halfway through the decomposition process and readjust your priorities.
Besides after you scrape off some of the crusted on metaphorical fecal matter you're not that bad.
DAVE: thanks.
KARKAT: do you know what I mean, though?
Sometimes you have an idea about a person, or how you feel about that person, or how you should feel about them.
You get invested in that feeling and what it says about them and what it says about you.
But then sometimes you take another look and realize that maybe that feeling didn't make any sense at all.
And your life would be a lot easier if you stopped pretending you should feel that way.

[Panel description: Karkat looks at Dave, who is looking down. His black eye is visible.]

[Panel description: Karkat and Dave look in opposite directions.]

DAVE: uh,
yeah.
guess that’s
one way of looking at things.
well then to transition to enormous serpent monsters that are not phallic in any way whatsoever,
what went down with echidna?
I’ve been missing out on the angry denizen conferences.
KARKAT: now I won't be able to unsee the riddle speaking monstrosity as anything other than a giant talking phallus.
Thanks.
Thank you for that.
DAVE: so what did the giant talking phallus say?
the world needs to know.
KARKAT: hard to tell, since I don't speak monster.
I understood my own denizen, but he didn't have anything interesting to say before I killed him.
I'm pretty sure they gave me the one reserved for losers.
Maybe I was too busy showing how fast I could kill him to stop and listen, which would be typical of me.
Kanaya said echidna had plans for me, though.
DAVE: plans.
KARKAT: it was a bunch of flowery nonsense. I didn't understand all of it.
DAVE: you eat that shit up in the harlequins don’t you?
shouldn’t you love being the topic of fancy poetry?
nothing better than being bathed in the sweet glow of iambic pentameter to reveal you’re destined for greatness.
here’s the deepest darkest contents of your soul.
how does it rhyme I don’t know but it does.
troll Shakespeare don’t lie man.
KARKAT: yeah, yeah, denizens and their love of ever-cryptic nonsense related to game lore.
She didn't say anything spectacularly important, not compared to other things being passed along.
Just more personal development wind-tube expulsions that the universe as a whole has developed a love affair for.
Look, I’m still mulling over it myself, okay?
What was said was a little unsurprising.
I guess.
...basically,
I'm never going to be what I envisioned growing up.
Which is a direction I think I’ve been careening haphazardly away from for some time now, but hearing it in fluffy nonsense poetry brought it out to light.
DAVE: oh.
ha-ha yeah I feel that.
KARKAT: it wasn't the outline of your typical heroic journey.
She said I wouldn't live up to what I’d dreamed or what other people had dreamed of me.
That my worth wouldn't be determined on my being a warrior and charging into battle.
DAVE: that’s good right.
KARKAT: well, gee, all of that is only what I always wanted to be.
I told you about being a threshecutioner, remember?
DAVE: I remember that outfit you drew yourself in.
the one with all the medals,
where you were in shape.
KARKAT: that was an artistic rendering of my future position as a respected leader in the empire's glorious forces.
Including my future impressive physique, not that there is anything wrong with the one I have now.
That's how I was going to make a name for myself.
Then once I was famous and trusted I would get wounded in battle and go
What now fuckers
And they'd realize I was just as good as any of them.
But apparently some basement dwelling snake monster has decided that just won't cut it for me.
So that's it I guess.
Your dreams are terrible, have a nice day, don't let the enormous boulders half blocking the entrance hit your ass on the way out!
DAVE: I think the last three years for everyone has been a crash course in getting your hopes and dreams ground into the dust,
which in some cases sucks like roses whole ambition to have shit on lockdown 24 7 and also not turn into her mother.
for me it turned out a little better.
I mean I’m basically obsolete now thanks to john and any plans of being a useful team member are kinda kaput at this point which I have mixed feelings about,
but on the other hand at least I’m not trying to be whatever my maniac of a guardian wanted me to be anymore.
not that I was ever going to be any good at that anyway but I might’ve hurt something trying.
KARKAT: I admit I hadn't given much serious thought as to what the hell to do with my life after my dream of being a respected friend leader was beaten soundly into submission on more than one occasion.
DAVE: doesn’t really help that as far as I know no one knows the fine details of what happens if we win which puts a crimp in any sort of career planning.
I guess right now the goal is just
not be dead when that happens.
KARKAT: my end of session goals do involve not dying yet another horrible lava-related death.
DAVE: not something I’ve ever experienced but I’d rather not share a messy end with Gollum.
got no plans to nosh on some grubby midgets digits and then tumble ass backwards into a volcano even if we do have one handy as per epic adventure genre regulations.
I feel like I should’ve racked up enough personal fatalities to placate the blood thirstiest of fates by now.
just as long as I don’t walk in front of an oncoming train maybe I can make it out with only bodily mutilations this time.
a guy can dream.
it'd be a really big disappointment if after all this bullshit the punch line was a goddamn eulogy.
KARKAT: fucking ditto.
I would appreciate getting through one fucking day without being stabbed by a good friend of mine.
Or shall I say,
Ex-friend.
DAVE: maybe I haven’t gotten the denizen lowdown like you have but I know there’s that prophecy about me facing lord English in some dubious and foretold manner,
and you just KNOW there’s a catch.
there always is.
like what am I gonna die.
how original didn’t see THAT one coming.
must’ve taken a lot of brainstorming to come up with a twist that game changing.
what about you does echidna think you’re getting wasted or are the friend stabbings over,
if only because an increasingly large number of our friends are dead or incarcerated.
KARKAT: she either didn't say.
Or kanaya was sparing be a translation because it's "my fate" or whatever unoriginal concept is being bandied about these days.
At this point we have been given so many goddamn curveballs that the pitcher has been found and strangled to prevent any more of their ball-throwing machinations.
Also, I don't think I have enough friends left to be stabbed by, unless you count spades.
Though to be frank I would be more worried if a greeting from him was not preceded by a blade sliding lovingly into my torso.
DAVE: dude sure is stab happy.
those jacks man that must be the first thing on their character template.
wonder how he got promoted since he probably stabbed his interviewer.
of course in dersite bureaucracy that might earn you a raise.
my moon sucks.
I’m glad we blew it up.
KARKAT: I only saw prospit right before it was destroyed.
If anything it was a fucking eyesore. Whoever decided to make a planet out of solid gold right next to a self-perpetuating light source clearly never considered the accessibility issues that would arise from a nocturnal species playing their idiotic game and for that I am only mildly offended.
Besides, I don't think derse looked that bad.
The dark, shady corners with gigantic spires stabbing into the sky, death waiting around every corner...
Aside from the aesthetic choices it's not far off from alternia. Makes me feel right at home.
DAVE: the more I hear about your planet the worse it sounds.
at least I have some competition in the shit childhood department.
KARKAT: the fact that your species considers a daily fight for your own life throughout your upbringing abnormal etches yet more words into my mental "reasons I am surprised your squishy asses made it this far" file.
Which, I will say, has expanded prodigiously in the past few years.
Anyway,
Alternia wasn't all bad, if you could make it there.
Which is basically what I was aiming to do.
Note that that involved the shouting and forcible leadership that has partial responsibility for landing us in this mess.
DAVE: I know you’re from some bloodthirsty warrior race that throws its kids into gladiator death matches instead of preschool but being a warrior isn’t that great.
my bro was one,
stoic and strong and completely empty of any ability he ever might have had to take care of a kid the way he ought to have.
maybe he would’ve done better as a troll actually.
based on what dirk said it sounds like the dude excelled at being in kill or be killed scenarios where morality aint no big deal.
he tried to make me like him and I wanted to live up to it because he wanted me to but it sucked.
trying to go with the flow in some shitty system is going to fuck you up in the end somehow.
warp you into some heartless monstrosity that tortures people to make them better.
which isn’t that far away from setting up some bullshit caste system because some people just are better.
I don’t think you can make it in that kind of world without giving up something about yourself.
ignoring the drippy greeting card sentimentalism here which I will staunchly deny if anyone tries to quote me on it,
if being worthy by troll standards means throwing all that away then it’s not worth it.
there aren’t any standards no more except the ones we make and the ones that get transferred in to whatever world we end up making.
maybe that’s what echidna was trying to say.
or maybe not.
snake ladies are hells of cryptic by all accounts.
KARKAT: according to kanaya echidna said I should worry less about becoming anyone and help other people become who they ought to be.
That as a leader I should be around to incite change and help others.
DAVE: sounds like an egbertism.
the kind of tagline john would say to try to rile everyone up before the big boss fight,
ripped straight from the animes or whatever.
we’re all equal and awesome go team.
look deep in your hearts for the confidence you need to win.
when we work together NOTHING can stand in our way because friendship overcomes all.
imagine that in his voice for the full effect.
I can’t do it justice.
the levels of enthusiasm he musters while saying the dorkiest things are unreal.
he even makes me believe them.
KARKAT: and that kind of wishy washy feel good stuff is easy for him to say.
He's already saved us all.
He can sit on his rump cushions and be an inspiration now.
Maybe you have a point about wanting to be a warrior, I don't know.
But you and I arrived at that ambition for different reasons.
Your ninja boot camp childhood of having your ass served to you with the expectation you would grow up to be your own posterior maitre d' wasn't considered normal for your planet like it was for mine.
Maybe there's nothing wrong with wanting to do something like that, if it's what I chose. Not someone cramming unwashed ass in my face and just assuming I’d take up the beloved family tradition.
Maybe you can say I’ve been brainwashed by alternia like your guardian tried to brainwash you.
But if everyone wants me to be something, I might as well choose the option I like best.
Did you know there was a whole cult about me?
We found papers on the meteor, old historical documents like the journal vriska was so obsessed with.
I was the successor to my ancestor, and me showing up meant the end of the world.
Everywhere I go I represent destruction and I bring it with me.
I don't want to be this year's guy for the apocalypse.
I don't want to be a symbol.
I have to do something.
DAVE: I get it.
when everyone else is a god you want to feel like part of the team and not the sidekick on the superhero squad who doesn’t have any powers, not even a utility belt.
and you’re right I don’t know if my experiences are fair to compare to yours.
I just don’t want to see you fall down the same hole.
I’d say you’ll get your chance but that’s the brand of meaningless bullshit everyone hates.
I don’t know if you will.
I don’t know what lofafs spooky snake goddess sees in your future.
maybe you can be a warrior and keep being you.
but I don’t think you need that to prove yourself to anyone or anything.
if you’re looking for worth in your existence I’m glad you’re here.
not as a symbol or a harbinger of doom but as a friend.
so there’s that.
not saying my stamp of approval is what should ward off the crushing weight of existential insecurities,
although hey if I think you’re cool that means you’re REALLY cool.
shits like being handed the Pulitzer by Stephen king,
or having Mr. Rogers give you the barest of all possible nods as he walks past and acknowledges your existence.
so if that’s what echidna asked for consider it handled.
KARKAT: yes, now that you have deigned to draw me into your embrace of baffling human friendship all my problems are mere shadows dwindling before the light of its splendor.
Truly my journey is over.
Perhaps that was what it was really about... All along??
DAVE: if you’re going to be like that I’ll take it back.
KARKAT: no, no, that was just... Residual bitterness.
Don't get your feathers ruffled over it.
DAVE: yo I don’t lay claim to any feathers metaphorical or otherwise.
that’s an alt self trademark and I’m not being associated with it.
KARKAT: and people say I’m touchy.
I just.
Vriska once said I’d cut it better as a human than a troll.
She didn't say it to my face, but word gets around.
She meant it as an insult obviously, because I was weaker and didn't always think of murder as the first step towards conflict resolution.
But in the end to survive we had to be more like that.
I know it's another pointless and inflammatory remark from a source famed for such comments but maybe it hit home a little bit, even if not in the exact way she intended.
I wanted to be better. Smarter, stronger, faster.
Someone who could have saved more people, if skaia had allowed it.
Which it wouldn't, I’ve given that speech already, but I can't help wishing.
I'm glad you're my friend. I'm glad I still have friends with all this death and betrayal and stabbing going on, not to mention my objectively terrible personality.
Maybe someday that'll even be enough on its own to convince my twisted up thinkpan that I’m worth something.
Let's hope so, anyway.
If there's any greater purpose I’m supposed to be fulfilling right now, I haven't seen it.
I just haven't gotten there yet, and I can't help wanting something more solid.
DAVE: tell you what.
at the end of this if you haven’t found anything yet I’ll start a drive to get you a medal.
does this game have achievements?
I feel like it should have achievements.
KARKAT: most fatal errors made in five minutes?
DAVE: critical romantic sub quest failure.
KARKAT: you're going to need a lot of medals.
DAVE: good thing I’m loaded.
didn’t your entire session just wipe out everything that moved as quickly as possible?
you probably missed hells of side quests.
I bet there’s a consort stuck down a well somewhere.
KARKAT: well, jack blew up my planet, so I guess it fucking sucks to be that guy.
DAVE: rip npc number 42342345.
you will be missed.
KARKAT: along with all the other identical reptiles living on an ocean of blood.
DAVE: sounds metal.
I’d swap you for my planet that was metal as fuck in an absolutely terrible and literal way.
I wasn’t even last in line when they were handing out lands.
jade waltzes in fashionably late and gets a winter wonderland while I get the hellhole.
then I bled all over hers.
revenge.
KARKAT: our lands had varying levels of design detail.
Mine wasn't too much to look at.
Equius? Wandering around caves with gamzee honking at you? Fucking terrifying, the whole time.
DAVE: we had wandering through a meteor with gamzee honking at us.
and apparently this session had gamzee occasionally teleporting in to,
oh man.
I didn’t tell you that yet did I.
hmm,
so,
about the bodies.
you know,
the dead ones.
KARKAT: gee, are there any other kind?
What? What happened to them?
DAVE: uh,
you know how you can prototype things.
dead things.
apparently the people in this session got an extraterrestrial visitor bearing gifts of dubious enlightenment.
good news is that most of them have returned to their eternal rest as far as I know,
but that’s a thing that happened.
KARKAT: well.
I regret not screaming at him more when I saw him in derse jail now.
DAVE: you’re taking this better than I expected.
KARKAT: the desecration of those I had once called friends for the sake of some sick joke beholden to what whispers of horrible teen drama I hear this session was is something I’d normally be so pissed off about.
And yet.
I'm so angry I’ve looped back around the other way.
DAVE: probably reached maximum saturation.
KARKAT: here's hoping those poor assholes didn't have to put up with too much trouble.
Even in death, they didn't deserve to be chucked into an afterlife where they are expected to be isles of calm sprite wisdom in a raging adolescent shit storm.
Except eridan.
Maybe.
DAVE: a little existential crisis never did anyone lasting psychological harm.
except for the times that it did.

[Panel description: Jane looks into the room, resting one hand on the frame. Dave and Karkat look over at her. Rose's book rests on a table which sits in front of a yellow pennant with Prospit's symbol on it.]

DAVE: oh hey its johns hot mom.
I mean,
you know.

[Panel description: Jane frowns, her eyes half-lidded with annoyance.]

[Panel description: Jane crosses her arms and glares. Dave blushes, while Karkat looks neutral.]

JANE: My name is Jane Crocker.
Maybe you are trying to pay me a compliment, but I would appreciate it if you would refer to me by my actual name from here on out.
JANE: It is only polite.
DAVE: sorry,
Jane.
KARKAT: what do you need?
JANE: Is Rose here?
DAVE: nope.
found some dirt on cherubs and ran out metaphorically shouting eureka luckily while wearing more than a bath towel.
believe it or not breakthroughs CAN be achieved while fully clothed, ancient philosophers dress habits notwithstanding.
JANE: Rats. I was hoping she would offer me advice about these Dersites.
I'm a human and not even a Derse dreamer at that!
They're not keen on accepting me as their new queen.
KARKAT: having the dersites on our side would be an advantage.
This isn't about luck, though, or whatever else rose specializes in.
This is about how people think.
I'd talk to terezi.
JANE: I don't know her very well. Could you talk to her for me?
KARKAT: what do you think?
DAVE: we were talking about the bad old days.
it’d be rude to leave her out.
KARKAT: sure, we'll pass it on.
JANE: Thanks.
KARKAT: you should probably come along though.
Be our royal representative.