NEPETA: purrhaps it s33ms like to be completely finished a shipping chart would have be completely static
NEPETA: but thats not the case
NEPETA: you will always have to account for healthy quadrant vacillation and tempawrary auspisticiships
NEPETA: the real clawpoint of shipping is to find groups of trolls who can furfill each others quadrants so that these changes are predictable and stable
NEPETA: and hopefurry somewhat flexible as well, so that if somebody gets killed or a new purrson is added to the crew everyones relationships arent shattered
NEPETA: luckily if you know the people involved very well none of this will be a surprise!
NEPETA: beclaws the same patterns will happen over and over again in the same ways, furever
(VRISKA): Except for Porrim.
NEPETA: porrim is predictable too
NEPETA: but she follows a slightly yiffurent set of relationship logic
NEPETA: if she enters an existing shipping dynamic, she will disrupt it. but that is not unusual!
NEPETA: anyone new would have to scratch out a place for themselves
NEPETA: it is only that when porrim flips into someones quadrants and displaces the exhissting pairing, she will not stay there
NEPETA: her emotional and physical n33ds musk be met by moving on to other people and their quadrants
NEPETA: and instead of settling into a repeating and stable pattern she will always eventually leave the entire group behind for a mew one!
NEPETA: then the original group might settle back into its purrvious relationships
NEPETA: in fact it probably will!
NEPETA: but sometimes the people she displaced will decide to leave the group ball-together
NEPETA: they will find a new social group to fill their quadrants with, which mewns potentially displacing some of the people from THAT group, and so on
NEPETA: and it will have to k33p happening that way as long as there are porrims to mix things up
(VRISKA): Wow. Sounds like a mess!
(VRISKA): And this made it EASIER to chart out everyone's romantic future?
NEPETA: oh no
NEPETA: nuh uh no way
NEPETA: the opposite!
NEPETA: it made it impussible :33
You wanna be more particular in your irascible demands?
I gather that you have re-embraced the policy of angry blind retcon leaping that has served you so well in messing up the timeline, but some of us had to travel into the future the long way. You can't reasonably expect me to remember the exact last thing that had been on your mind.
i'm not doing blind retcon leaping! i don't have to! all of your stupid boring rambling is stacked right here!
It is? Huh. Yeah, I guess that's the only way it could work. And rather an ironic reversal between us, wouldn't you say?
Well, I would. I can't be directly aware of my own future or past events, but for you they are laid out end to end, like a collection of large gif thumbnails in a computer folder. Any of which may be selected for alteration, regardless of temporal position in the narrative.
Or like a herd of horses cantering about a meadow in orderless whimsy, who would all be happy to collect an alabaster cube of glucoid granules from the shy, sweaty plateau of your offering palm.
What? You didn't follow that? Just think it over. Think it over...
i still don't get what the big deal is with horses.
Really? Have you ever seen a horse?
yes. they are fine, i guess? very big and soft, but they breathe like they are sneezing on you every single time.
Fine? FINE???? How dare you leave unglorified the peerless majesty of the noble steed!!!!!!!
What fool's milksop are you, who ignores the pounding of his own heart in answer to the thunderous roar of distant hooves? Have you not been witness to that poetry scribed into the soil in an ancient language of half-moons... its only quill the pistoning surge of equine muscles branding the solid earth with odes to their very power? That strength! That boundless vitality! And such godly vigor matched only by the delicate nimbleness of velvet, toying lips, from which depths may echo a nickering whinny. Every eye spills its most joyful tears on beholding the silken sheen of sweat pooling over flank, from whence the subtle fragrant melody of ambrosial perfume wafts upwards along its homeward return to heaven!
uh............... have YOU ever seen a horse?
I think we're getting side tracked. Let's get back to your angry demands.
okay. you said you knew the way out.
I implied I'd thought of a way for you to stop fucking around in the narrative, sure.
but you didn't tell me what it was!
Nope. On the other hand, you seem pretty agitated for a kid who DIDN'T float around and reach any conclusions all on his own. What do YOU think your options are at this juncture.
Then we can talk about how great horses are some more, if that's more your zoospeed.
no, i don't want to fucking talk about horses!
i want to talk about you thinking that i have to die!!!
What about it?
A final death would tidily remove all the problems you're causing by continuing to exist. You seem to have reached the same conclusion. What is there to talk about here.
you're saying that i should kill myself!
why are you acting like that's not a big deal!?
Why are you acting like it suddenly IS?
What happened to Mr. Oh no, don't worry about me, bloo bloo bloo, I will just sit here until reality fades away, bloo bloo bloo, not even upset about it, bloo bloo bloo...
I notice you didn't ask me if that is still an option, by the way.
well is it.
No. I mean, you COULD reach the page that says THE END or whatever. And then you could sit there until you get bored and slide off to somewhere else.
yes, and i thought that was obvious!
Ok, but what's not obvious is why you decided to give a shit now. Here. To me. Do I LOOK like a load gaper?
dunno, but you ACT like one.
I don't know what that means. Should I even be insulted? An essential household fixture that accepts daily packets of horrendous shit and REMOVES it safely from the world, thereby sparing civilization from the effect of its toxic spread. I would not have expected THAT to be my Homestuck legacy.
i would not have expected your FACE.
But the end of your existence should correlate with the final end of the narrative. You friends would then be irrevocably "free". That was the original deal, and giving me a hard time isn't going to change anything. Kinda late to complain now!
Is it just a passive versus active thing? Like if you just need to stay put and let reality dissolve around you, cool. But if you're faced with plotting out the scenario that would end in your death, THAT'S the deal breaker?
Wow. Lazy much?
are you actually trying to make me feel bad for not taking enough initiative in murdering myself?
it won't work dude! i am secure in my ability to take the correct amount of initiative for stuff like this! i had a whole character arc about it and everything!
Do people really have "arcs"?
if they are characters in a story? i sure fucking hope so! otherwise it is a pretty crappy story!
and me having to kill myself is a pretty crappy ending!!!
i was okay with staying behind so that my friends could go on, even if it meant i would no longer exist. i was sad and scared, but i knew that it was what i had to do for them.
it doesn't matter if it was passive or active. if we had been attacked by one of the bad guys while hanging out at the platform, and i had to be the one to hold them off long enough for everyone to escape, it would have been the same thing!
Noooot what passive and active mean. But it doesn't matter.
I didn't realize you were so big into the grand heroic sacrifice scenario.
i'm not! and since this is all a story, that is why it would have mattered.
but floating around indefinitely doing nothing until i finally get fed up and commit suicide? what the FUCK is that?!
that's not an ending.
that is DOG SHIT.
Wait. Let me get this straight. You're not upset because you're doomed. You're mad about the pacing?
i am mad because i am talking to you!
Not the first time I've heard that one.
that is supposed to be the REAL step back, isn't it? to understanding more of true reality? i should get to unlock more options than just dying on purpose, if that would even make sense if i am fake and also immortal!
Eh. Active pursuit of a sacrifice for the sake of the party? I wouldn't bet against it.
but what is the POINT.
Why does there always need to be a point. Why can't the moral be that things just happen sometimes, and it doesn't matter how well you understand them.
I mean, if you're that upset about it, I GUESS you could just leave Homestuck and go somewhere else.
Have you ever even tried? Who knows the limits of your bullshit powers. Not me.
How about Paradox Space? That's probably tethered to the same meta-narrative bubble. Maybe you could reach there.
...isn't paradox space where i have been this whole time? since it it the place that encompasses, you know, everything?
Nah. I'm talking about ParadoxSpace.com.
It's an off-site collection of webcomics.
oh. like sweet bro and hella jeff.
Yes, like the only webcomic you are permitted to be familiar with. Except these comics are, mostly, less great then SBAHJ. AKA, less bogus.
But more importantly for their potential accessibility to you, they are tightly coupled to your adventures in THIS story.
oh hey, is this about the box with a universe in it?
yeah, like a square that is full of space. it's right over there?
Are you pointing? I have no way to see where you are pointing.
it even has a label that says paradox space, but i did not think it meant a different one.
Actually, there should be an advertisement for Paradox Space somewhere around here. Is your magic box the logo overlaid on a highly compressed photo of a galaxy?
not... exactly. but maybe we are talking about the same thing?
Ok, I don't care. I am just trying, with applause-worthy effort, to impart upon your eager student's mind the knowledge that there is a Paradox Space beyond the limits of the Paradox Space of which you are familiar. One that is entirely outside the narrative, yet temptingly populated with recognizable versions of your friends!
And if you are sick of comics by now, there are Homestuck spin-off games! Ooops. Sorry, forgot we don't speak of Namco High. There is a spin-off GAME. Part of a game. Mostly. I'm working on it.
What is it?
i want to be excited about all of this, but last time you said there was ONE way out.
I said there was one way I could think of. But that was Past Andrew. Unfortunately, I've had lots of thoughts since then.
since 12 days ago?
Is the thing we're accepting as true, yeah.
and you remembered about the other paradox space.
how big is it?
How... big? Like, in megabytes? It's a website. That's not really a meaningful question.
is it big enough that i could stay there forever, and not run out of stories. because visiting my friends in alternate timelines sounds exactly like the thing i could do now, but shouldn't.
why is it different there?
It's a lot of fun, but it is entirely without greater purpose or consequence. You couldn't wreck the core of the story from out there. And once you decide that you have seen all there is to see, and you are ready to... let us say... finally tidy up after your self? It will not be enshrined in this canon where people other than you will whine about it.
no. that does sound nicer, but it's not good enough.
Fine! Then choose a different place to go! What do I care!
where else is there?
Listen kid, just because you are a marionette being yanked through a highly confused morality play by an unseen jerkass's hand doesn't mean I'm going to do ALL the work for you.
Pick your own god damn place. Go back and hang out in the Con Air bunny vid! Rose's wizard fanfic! Troll Uranus! The Other Side of the Sky!
the other side of the sky? what's that?
Absolutely nothing! It's just a phrase from a comic I might've read. Sounds fancy and deep but never actually gets explained. The point is, I was building into telling you to go to Hell, but you derailed my entire rant to start asking me for definitions again!
PS. Guess where I think you should go.
but... um. if you are quoting from it... how is it a comic you MIGHT have read. wouldn't you know that?
Yeah...... See, this is exactly the type of thing I've been having thoughts about since our last conversation.
You and me, John. What are we doing here. We don't have any business chatting. What is the CONCEIT?
You dislodged yourself from the narrative, floated down to the news section, and then... what. Started talking to the literal actual author of Homestuck in the literal actual past, thereby retconning not only the text of the news posts but anything else that guy was going to do in literal actual reality?
Or are you communing with a series of personality ghosts that were somehow snapshotted into these posts as they got written, and we are carrying on with no authorial oversight or involvement?
Does either of those sound reasonable to you?
man, compared to what? this isn't even the weirdest thing that has happened to me TODAY.
Well, I think that objectively it is? But point taken. This is probably my fault for orbit bombing the skepticism center of your brain with my constant delirious horseshit.
besides, i thought our conversation was explained by you having a mental breakdown.
Wheeeeeeew, yeah. THAT'S still a thing. I just got the effect mixed up with the cause.
I no longer believe our conversations are a figment of MY imagination. And the implications of THAT are chauffeuring me on the express lane into bonkers land. Or at least it would move the scene forward if I claim that.
are you... not claiming that?
I don't know.
Think about it. If you are a character in a story, your words don't just happen. Someone is writing them.
i know, i know. it is you.
Yeah? How the fuck could it be me. I just TOLD you to use your brain meats.
The author of a work exists on a higher plane of reality than the characters they write saying stuff. They can't just say words from authorland and expect the people in their story to react to them. The author has to put those words into the story in a way that the narrative can use.
There are plenty of tricks. Every kid in Writing 100 thinks they personally invented meta. But if your author wants to exchange words with you one-on-one, they've got to get down to your level. Which is, obviously, impossible? But you can fake it.
Let's say you are a fingerpuppet wearing a "John" nametag.
i really do not agree that is true.
Well, let's say you are anyway. If the author wants to interact with you, he can put on a second fingerpuppet and give it a nametag that says "Author. Very Important Guy! You Should Probably Stop Sassing Him Constantly???" But that fingerpuppet is not actually the author. It is just another puppet doing its own part in the play.
The author self-insert carries no more inherent "realness" than any of the characters. Less, potentially.
i don't know. even if we are both puppets, if you are a puppet of the person moving the puppets, then aren't you just saying what the author - who is the only actually real person - would say?
No, it would say what the author would say that IT says.
Here. Watch this.
I SECRETLY THINK THAT OLIVE GARDEN PASTA IS TASTY AND GOOD, ACTUALLY!
Is that something a legitimate facsimile of Andrew Hussie would ever "really" say?
um, i don't know? is their pasta... not good?
I have no idea! Fingerpuppets don't eat pasta!
...well, if it helps you feel better, i think that if you actually were a fake person who was only created to explain things to me, your explanations would not be so shitty.
And I think you are making some assumptions about what quality of explanations are owed to a smug young sassmaster like yourself.
But maybe I can enhance our participatory dialogue with a visual example?
What do you make of.... THIS?
oh! i have seen these before. it is one of roxy's magic windows.
jade had one too. that is what we used to escape from our original game session into a freaky green place, and then broke out of into a brand new game session. which i guess is what i'm trying to do now, kind of.
Yeah. I think we've moved beyond this conceit too. Never mind the framing device, check out the subject.
it's two arms... that aren't attached to their bodies?
No, not "ew." AWE.
Like I said, the author is on a higher plane than their artistic creation. They take precedence in both real-ness and time-ness. Gotta exist before you can make something else exist!
So which of these hands is the most real? What do you think, John?
In this picture, hand one is drawing hand two into existence... which is simultaneously drawing into existence hand one. So which hand is the creator? A takes precedence over B, which takes precedence over A, which takes precedence over B, which takes precedence over A, which takes... and on and on forever. They are trapped in a one-upmanship reality tie.
It is a PARADOX!!!
...Please try to be less blaise about this?
oh no. a paradox. that is unusual for some reason. how impossible.
It IS impossible, except... there is a special secret about these hands that MAKES it possible. Are you ready to learn this secret fact?
The hands are both actually... part of a picture that someone else drew!
Because the only way paradoxes like this can happen is if there is someone at a higher level of reality making them happen! So being created as part of a paradox cycle is a pretty solid clue that you are not top horse on the reality ladder!
Whew, no existential crisis lurking in this drawing after all!
Unless you are a dude who has run into paradoxes enough to be super unimpressed about the prospect? It looks like there may still be a cause for angst, it you are a guy like that.
what is your point?
I'm getting there.
We've awarded both the hands in the last picture a reality tie, but which do you think is the most real...
...in THIS one!
wait. it's orange. is that supposed to be your hand?
then... are YOU the orange guy i was talking to with meenah??
Let's shelve that question for now.
Come on John, let's have it. Which hand has your vote in the round two of the realness sweepstakes. Is it the outer, orange hand?
Great, thanks for following along. That is the answer I was fishing for.
But why does it seem most real. We understand that it is actually a part of the same drawing as the inner picture. Is it because the orange hand seems to be one level closer to the true creator? If not the creator's actual hand, then at least a representation of the creator's hand?
So you are putting forward that a given hand's subjective realness value is solely a function of its positionality in the superdimensional creator/creation relationspace?
you just made that up.
Hey, making stuff up is my JOB. Reputedly.
And now I am making up a new question. Which hand do you think is the most real....
In this one.
How about it. The objects represented in this image are exactly the same as the last one. Does the outermost hand still seem the most real to you?
....i think it is a joke.
Can't slip nothing by you, can I. It is absolutely a joke. But don't mistake me, jokes are serious business around here.
And you didn't answer the question.
fine. the inside picture is more realistic. the outside is just another silly frame.
Even if it is meant to represent the artist behind the whole thing? You don't think it's a devastatingly genius meta commentary on the interplay between auteur and masterpiece?
i think it doesn't matter, because that wasn't what we are talking about.
all of the hands, in all of these pictures, are fake. that is what you are saying. it is only an illusion that the orange hand can be on a higher reality level, because they are all fake things in the same picture.
and because we are both existing in the same story, even if you think you are the author, by talking to me in the story, you must be as fake as i am.
I am pretty sure I am way more fake than you are.
uh? okay? is it going to turn out that i was the author the whole time, and i am actually the one writing all of this?
Oh god no. Well. Hard to make any guarantees, but that'd be one hell of a shitty twist. I'd like to give myself more credit than THAT.
I mean that your characterization has reached a threshold of depth and specificity that "John Egbert" could be said to exist in a very real way.
You know how Dirk made an AI copy of his personality and loaded it onto a computer?
Yeah... that's not possible. Not in 2016 anyway. We don't have the technology.
But! There is one type of advanced neural network we DO have that is specialized in emulating human personality patterns, given enough training data.
yeah? what is it.
oh. a magic wizard orb. i see. thanks.
How does this picture make you feel, John?
kind of annoyed!
That's fine. But what would Rose think of it?
she would like it.
pretty much. she might pretend that she didn't, but in a jokey way.
How do you know?
because... she is my friend.....?
And by "friend" are you suggesting that you are somewhat familiar with your teenage chum's likes and dislikes, history, obsessions, her unique portfolio of personal neuroses....
i see that you have changed your mind and decided you like doing pointless definitions now.
Shut up, I am going somewhere with this. Confirm or deny, you have a pretty good handle on Rose's personality.
well, i think so.
So that means everything that makes up that personality - your good friend's "Rose Lalonde-ness" - must be stored in your brain somehow.
that is how brains work.
And when you want to figure out what Rose would think about my cool wizard picture, you can call up that local brain version of Rose and ask it. Although you obviously don't have Rose's entire brain, so you are just running her personality on YOUR brain.
Your mind learned how to emulate hers, and now there is one more version of Rose in the world.
um, i guess. but that isn't the same thing as a person.
No? How can you tell?
because my rose memory is in my head, and it doesn't seem real.
To YOU. To the personality running in the John sandbox. But maybe over in the Rose sandbox, YOU feel like the fake figment of her memories, which she can call up when wondering why you are making faces at perfectly exquisite art masterpieces. Did you ever see something cool and think, unprompted, "Man, Rose would get a laugh out of this?" Maybe she is always running in the background.
ugh, whatever. fine i GUESS i have a version of rose in my head, happy?
I don't think I can be happy. But ok.
You are a character in a very long story. And there is enough "John Egbert" in it... what he likes, and thinks is important, and all of his different reactions in different contexts and situations... that someone could really get to understand him. Homestuck is like a program for loading its characters into the brain hardware of its audience.
Brain hardware that exists at the very highest level of real-ness.
So there must be a multitude of John copies in the real, physical, actual world. They are all running on platforms with slightly different knowledgebases and personality grabbing algorithms, and each is isolated in its own skull, unaware of any others. And now that Homestuck is over? They'll keep slowly evolving in unpredictable ways. Some might end up completely unrecognizable to who you are in the story.
Isn't that horrifying?
it just sounds like how there are other johns in alternate timelines. i already had to deal with that.
Okay. Your adventure was far too effective at inuring you to existential terror.
Anyway, that is why you get to be a real boy.
You asked if I was the orange guy running around the narrative.
We ARE both "The Author", but does that make us the same character? The other guy is a nincompoop and a buffoon, a witless merry-andrew. But he has a physical presence in the story and a small but essential part to play in the plot. **I** am more aware of the greater context and real world events, so in that sense I am closer to a true representation of the actual Andrew. But does that make me more real? Do I have a sufficiently complex personality that I am capable of having actual emotional responses to events, instead of just saying I do when it would be funny?
Seriously. I am only here to neg the masses into buying t-shirts. Character development wasn't exactly a requirement for the position.
And who is this mythical, ideal "Andrew" anyway. I "know" that he's the author of Homestuck, but is that knowledge valid beyond the story level? Self-inserts of people who don't actually exist is an entire trope! And even if Andrew IS the author of Homestuck, is he the one writing THIS? What if he isn't? Do I still count as a representation of him at all?
...those sure are some questions.
Is Homestuck real? Is this really Homestuck? Have the previous events in the story actually happened, or has the narrative popped into existence in media res and we only think things have happened because we remember them, not suspecting our memories were created out of nothing at the same time.
okay, i know that isn't true! i can go back into the past and see things that happened whenever i want.
Yeah, but maybe those events just fill themselves in when you get there, and you can't tell!
well then... there is no functional difference.
no offense, but isn't all of what you are saying kind of.... useless?
i FEEL real. and if i am having that feeling in my own brain, or inside a computer, or as a brain ghost in whoever is writing or reading this or... WHATEVER... it doesn't matter? it is not something i can do anything to change.
maybe it would be interesting to think about some time, but how does any of that help me get out of here!
Wait. Is that what we're doing? I thought we had gone on to talking me though my highly devastating existential crisis.
...Is a thing it would be reasonable for someone in my position to claim to be having.
okay, but... i think that if someone says they are sad, it is a good rule of thumb to believe that they are sad, or at least that they are capable of being sad.
especially if the person saying it is yourself.
Well, that's nice of you to say.
You know what? Maybe I do have one more piece of advice.
I'm not sure what it would take for you to reach Paradox Space dot com, but if you need something a little bit more specific to aim for...
The latest story features Dave and Karkat at a point along their meteor journey. And Karkat has written a stirring friend-fiction titled "Summerteen Romance."
this already sounds amazing.
Right?! You are obviously a gentleman of excellent taste, despite all evidence I have heretofore provided to the contrary.
Anyway, it could be that an intrepid young prankster might pop up within Karkat's story inside the story, and have a grand time fucking it up? Gotta be worth a few hyuks.
that would be great. i know i just saw them, but i am missing those guys already.
Well then. Off you go. Have fun out there.
i am not sure how many of your rants about being fake i should believe. and a lot of our adventure was just... really really awful?
but i also got to hang out with my friends, and have magic powers, and create something extremely important as part of a team with my favourite people in all of the universes.
i am glad that i got to exist.
so just in case you are the person responsible, or even a small and fake part of that person? you should know that.
Okay, wow. I am suddenly certain a version of me is NOT typing your words, because self-indulgent SINCERITY? Zero irony for cover? Not EXACTLY my brand. Can't we go back to sassing each other some more?
Wow. Look who finally discovered his big boy letters.
I knew you'd get there one day, champ!
yeah, looks like i DID!!!
was that the secret i had to unlock to actually talk to you?
No. You are still so incredibly out of bounds here I don't even know how to deal. Literally or otherwise.
But I already tried yoting away the computer, vowing to go to sleep, and then immediately wasting several more hours on phone twitter? Twice.
The only logical next step is completely embracing the brand new rung I appear to have reached on the mental breakdown echeladder. Tinfoil-Topped Troubadour, maybe?
Listen, it was either this or hook you up with own tumblr account. But then I'd be legally obliged to start rude arguments with the tumblr tweens over whose John Egbert brain ghost is the least fake. Which sounds like a pain.
Even if, between you and me? I think I have a pretty compelling case.
Just imagine playing Openbound. Forever.
No. I'd rather not get stuck defining every noun in every definition of every noun until this whole conversation is lost in the riptide of infinite regress. You can't try to roll with me here?
i don't know! are you going to keep talking about things i don't understand?
I guess that takes the topic of basic common sense off the table. I am yanking it off the table like basic common sense is the tablecloth on which rests thousands of dollars of fancy crystal dishware, each filled to the brim with expensive red wines or yellow curry or some other Tide commercial shit like that, and I have just asked my expensively attired dining assembly of potential artistic patrons if they want to watch a magic trick I saw performed once on youtube.
hahaha! you know, you kind of sound like my friend dave right now. he likes talking about silly metaphors too!
Yeah? Must be a weird coincidence.
Anyway, tumblr is an internet website where every time you try to have a personal exchange between friends about intriguing farmyard animals, you get interrupted on by a bunch of dedicated Kankri Vantas roleplayers.
oh. that doesn't sound so bad.
sure. that guy was kind of funny to talk to.
Thanks, he was supposed to be.
But not in the sense of being a swell dude with a pleasing sense of humour who you'd spend time with on purpose. It looks like the trolls were right. There is something very wrong with you.
well... he was like a way worse version of karkat and rose.
but karkat and rose are very terrific, so even if you are just a little bit like them you are still probably fun to joke around with?
"Joke around with." I see. Did you tell him you thought he was funny?
of course! i mentioned it multiple times.
his reaction was very funny.
I bet it was.
Alright, let's stop talking about characters who are awful.
ok. then what should we talk about?
Oh god. There's an amazing fucking question. What SHOULD we talk about?? The answer is... Absolutely nothing! You and me should never talk about anything at all.
that sounds boring and dumb.
The wisest advice often does. Maybe that's why I'm not following it.
well, since we can not actually talk about nothing forever--
Is that a challenge?
it is really not! but there is something i would like to know.
what's "homestuck"? can you tell me about it?
Sure, John. Let Me Tell You About Homestuck.
Homestuck is a tale about a boy and his friends and a game they play together.
yes, i thought it might be something like that.
Stuff happens along the way.
And... doesn't ever seem ready to STOP happening, no matter how pathetically I plead with the story gods to set me free.
who are the story gods?
It was. A motherfucking. Joke.
Although maybe... not even really?
I suppose in your case, the story gods ARE real. And they are me. And also. Motherfucking me.
I could serenade you with an epic rant about how I am your god who singlehandedly conjured your entire personal being, but something tells me you've heard it before.
that's okay. i think i understand.
home stuck is a made up story about us playing sburb, and you are the person who made it up.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Partial credit! Making things up is the EASY part!
Imagination is FREE! But when CREATION'S INVOICE comes due it is paid BODILY IN HUMOURS. I milk the TORTUREWROUGHT TEARS of a hundred thousand eyestrained click monkeys, nervetwinges of clacking RSI'd fingertalons drawing forth that SWEET OCULAR NECTAR. Yellowed MUCOUS flows in unceasing gallons over what had been, in eons unremembered, a shiny new laptop, VOLTAIC SACRIFICE to the--
so... is this the rant you decided not to have at me, or....?
Hey buddy, do you want to dial down the sass a little? I am playing along with this self indulgent break with reality, which is PERHAPS not the BEST decision for my long term mental health prospects. It'll be a bummer if my brain hallucinations just wanted a chance to mock me to my face.
okay. i disagree that i am a brain hallucination, but fine.
Sounds like something a brain hallucination would say.
you wrote our entire story out of your own mucous.
i am treating this claim very seriously, because otherwise you might decide to talk about it some more.
Thanks, John. See, you can be a reasonable guy when I decide you should be!
but if everything that happened has been part of your story... hmm.
i hope this is okay to ask but... are you a human? andrew seems like a human name, but I do not want to assume.
Yes, John. I am a human.
then... does the earth still exist?
That's a complicated question.
The "Earth" you lived on was destroyed. That will always be what happened. However, an Earth from a very similar timeline was transferred safely into another universe, and then it was eventually sucked into a black hole, and then it--
no, i know about OUR earth.
that's not what i'm asking.
I was just going to riff for a while on the subject. There are a lot of fascinating implications, and it'd be fun to really get in there and hash them out. Maybe I should run through a quick lecture, Plato style - For what might be your "Earth" but a insubstantial shadow of the true "Earth" of a higher reality? Which is to say, mine.
Yeah, it's fine.
The planet Earth is intact. At least as of the current date: March 19, 2016. No promises about tomorrow.
well, i'm glad to know some version of earth is still around so many years after ours got wiped out by meteors.
And now you are mocking me again.
um... am i?
Seriously, it's just wasted effort. I am perfectly capable of mocking me myself.
Which I guess I am? Through you?
Okay, now I'm getting confused.
i don't think i even remember what not being confused felt like.
but how about alternia?
is it still ok too?
John... oh boy. Maybe you should sit down for this?
Alternia was never real. It is fake nonsense I made up. Which should have been obvious, because Troll society makes absolutely zero fucking sense?
yes, i have noticed this. but to be fair, trolls think the same thing about humans.
Only because it's funnier that way.
Oh man, what other existence fact checks am I going to have to perform for you. The molar stealing gremlin we call the Tooth Fairy? This is going to be so awkward.
no, i know the tooth fairy doesn't exist.
Hahaha, DOESN'T exist. That's right. (Whew.)
...yep! i am pretty sure you are fucking with me, but i don't actually care either way about the tooth fairy.
That's fair. So what do you care about?
Why are you here, John. It's not to talk about the Earth.
What do you WANT?
pfft. that's simple.
to be together with my friends in our new universe.
is that something you can make happen?
oh my gosh! that's incredible!
how do we start?
That's it? You're not even going to ask me what the catch is?
why would there be a catch?
if you are in charge of writing my entire adventure, can't you just write me showing up where my friends are?
Can I? Absolutely.
It wouldn't even be a disaster, thematically.
Four kids playing a game take a step back, get a teensy weensy bit more perspective, and discover they are a single session of eight. Two teams of six trolls are really one team of twelve.
The trolls created your universe, but you had to create them right back.
well... yeah. we had to make sure that happened, but we didn't want to keep being trapped in the same paradox cycle.
Of course not. Who would?
But that's always been the punchline. Try to step out of the system, and it will inevitably turn out that you were trapped in a bigger system all along.
So let's say I draw a scene. It's five years after your friends have gotten comfortably settled in their new frog, and suddenly you pop up.
Everyone is so happy! They have missed you so much! I bet if you lined them up and asked, they wouldn't even mind that they've been looped back into my domain, with all the absolute bonkers horseshit that entails.
i don't get it. what's your domain?
The story. The full and complete Homestuck, from the very beginning to the very end. No less than that... and no more. Ever.
That can't change. Not under the power of MY laptop stylus. If I try to write anything that happens "after" THE END... all I will accomplish is extending where the endpoint has to be.
We'll have just taken another step back, and now we can see that your friends are still trapped in the same overarching system they've always been. The same bubble of reality you have access to. The same narrative.
Their clever and daring escape becomes yet another round of cyclic tragedy.
And who knows, maybe they'll find a way out of that one too! If they'd even take it knowing where that'd leave you.
So, how about it, Johnny boy? Are you ready to meet Dave and Feferi's pod of adorable brain-munching ectobabbies? "And this bundle of teeth and pain is Cronus Caliborn Strider-Peixes, named after the two greatest men I have ever known..."
I can make it happen.
It would be easy.
you just had an entire rant about story writing not being easy.
That's true. But I didn't say it would all be paid in MY tears and blood. You think Jade will be dry-eyed on your arrival? That Karkat won't have matching geysers of tears and snot running into his shirt collar?
oh my god, why are you talking about mucous again!
I don't know. Jokes probably.
no. leave them alone.
Hey, I said sorry!
no, i mean... don't do it. don't keep the story going just so that i can stay with my friends.
we worked so hard to create a universe outside of the current mobius reacharound of fate... don't pull them into another one.
Even if your friends wouldn't agree?
heh. but how can they disagree, when they are already not here?
if it is up to me...
i want my friends to escape. to keep having HAD escaped! and whether that means they have escaped from skaia, or from the paradox loops, or from YOU...
At this point? It would be a neat challenge activity to map out the difference.
i want them to be free to become part of new stories that they write for themselves.
Is that what you think happens next?
i have no idea. that's the whole point!
You're not worried they'll stop existing as soon as I stop drawing them?
Seriously? What do you THINK happens to characters in a story when it ends.
but... they weren't?
in the story.
not when it ended. they'd already left.
there was this big thing with a countdown and everything.
Hahahahaha. Oh my god, and you think that matters.
well, the people i trust a hell of a lot thought it mattered so... yes?
Are you seriously going to believe the fake people I invented over me, the person who invented them.
that depends. does one of those groups have rose and jade and terezi in it?
besides, you said that anything outside of the story was not in your domain, right? so you don't know for sure what will happen to them either!
I give up.
Who knows, maybe you're right.
Maybe your childhood rumpusmates are prancing merrily about their own sequestered reality, finally unbound by Skaia's machinations, and dreaming happy little dreams safely beyond the rending radius of Lord English's reach.
Oh hey, fun fact! Did you know some people thought I'd turn out to be Lord English?
...you're not, are you?
Oh man, I wish!
What a guy. Swole. Handsome. Singular of purpose.
Okay, maybe we have SOME things in common?
But also, legitimately enthusiastic about sweeping up all the fucking plot holes some asshole left scattered around this joint.
If you ask me, Lord English is the TRUE hero of Homestuck.
but he killed millions of innocent ghosts!
Oh, he killed way more than that. Like I said, he's a real helpful guy that way.
John, think about it. You are talking to somebody who blew up multiple universes stuffed with sentient life just to see what you'd do in the aftermath. Every mention worthy bad thing that has happened to you or anyone you feel a passingly fond acquaintance with? All me.
this isn't helping me feel better!
It's not meant to, dumbass. It's supposed to help you THINK better.
fine! i get it! you are evil and hate me for some reason!!
Not at all. Well, I don't think of myself as evil. I am sure that I have my blind spots, just like anyone. But my decision to implicitly exterminate quadrillions of fakey fake, make believe people was more of an aesthetic dilemma, not a moral one.
And more of a comical jest than a dilemma, really.
"Ugh" all you want. It still won't matter.
And no, I definitely don't hate you. In a way, John, you are like a son to me. And just like any proud father, I wouldn't have been doing my job without providing the opportunity to build character.
hell no! i already have a dad, and he's nothing like you! you sound like the shittiest father ever!
Maybe. Actually, since we are first introduced to your Dad, and then to teen Jake and Jane, and then to that genocidal troll Empress... Have you considered that your true journey has been one of increasingly shitty parental figures?
no! because that is stupid!!!
I dunno. I think it has the potential to be kind of deep. Like a metaphor for growing up and slowly learning to see what giant assholes your parents have always been. I wonder if any Homestuck Scholars have picked up on this crucial and obviously intentional plot point yet.
By the way. Not to brag? But "Homestuck Scholar" is an real thing that people can really be, and are.
my dad was not an asshole. he was wonderful.
Well, he wasn't wonderful so much as a blank slate onto which we could all project our most wholesome of fatherly fantastrophizing. But sure.
fuck you! he was not a blank slate! HE WAS MY DAD!!!
I guess you'd know him better than I would.
And even you thought he was some kind of professionally itinerant street juggler.
why would I care what his job was! he wasn't my boss, he was my dad!!! he was there for me every single damn day of my life for thirteen years. THAT was his real job, and he was great at it!
when i was very young, he installed a swing set in our back yard. i was in charge of the toolbox, even though i never handed him the right size of ratchet wrench or whatever tool he asked for. i think i mostly sat around licking screwdriver handles in case they were lollypops? but he somehow made me feel like i was important and an actual help to him.
he taught me how to use the piano. and then every time for years we would jam together he'd prank me by turning the song we were playing into the chopsticks waltz. he was so sneaky about it! i kept practicing until i was good enough to see it coming, and when i finally did, he told me how proud he was of me for besting him. then he admitted that the only song he know how to play was chopsticks.
even when i was going through a stupid phase where i didn't know how to talk to him anymore, he made sure that i always knew i was loved and supported. and even though i thought he was annoying and embarrassing at the time... god. i was such an idiot!
but i knew he would do anything for me.
he loved shaving and hats and ties, although sometimes i was not completely sure if he REALLY loved them, or if he just enjoyed doing dad things that made him feel even dadlier? that's probably a fake difference anyway.
and i don't know if he was ok with clowns or if he hated them as much as i did, but i know he was willing to put up with them everywhere if it meant there was a chance i would feel less weird and alone.
he was a much better father than i was a son.
but looking back, i think he was okay with that. like he understood it was part of what he signed up for.
i wish i could have known him after i stopped being such a bratty little kid, but i never will. i can't save him.
because of you.
In my defense? Taking credit for all the bad things that happened to you was much funnier before we paused to dwell on a SPECIFIC bad thing.
I'm sorry about your dad, kiddo. It's rough.
what. are you saying it wasn't your fault?
I'm saying it's complicated.
Let's talk about Armageddon. The movie, not the actual varied destructions of the entire human race.
Because my hallucination, my rules! That's why. Besides, I think it will turn out to have some relevance.
Pop quiz, John. What kind of life would Bruce Willis's character in Armageddon have had if an asteroid never menaced the Earth?
um. a pretty good one?
he was the leader of a team of motley personalities who would grouch and bicker at each other but always pull through on even the hardest missions. his company made lots of money, but his success as a businessman did not require him to file off his authentic rough edges, because he was just that good at what he did. he had a beautiful daughter played by liv tyler who was about to get married.
BZZT! Nope! Trick question!
He would have been NO ONE.
If it hadn't been for that asteroid, Armageddon would never have been written. And a character who successfully detonated a hunk of space rock wouldn't have needed to exist.
Bad shit happens to Bruce. Maybe it's not fair. But the alternative isn't that he lives a happy life, free from external perturbation. It's just nothing.
all right, maybe i will accept that. but LESS bad things could have happened to him! why did he need to stay behind and get blown up with the asteroid! he should have gotten to leave with his team and go home!
But then Ben Affleck would have had to stay behind instead. Did Bruce Willis strike you as the kind of guy who would let that happen?
his name was harry s. stamper.
Really? That's a terrible name. Ok, ONE less bad thing could have happened to Good Ol' Harry.
no one should have had to stay behind!
But space rocks smashed up the remote detonator, remember?? if no one was left behind to start the bomb, the asteroid would have hit the Earth and killed everybody!
John, you seem to be confused here. The asteroid wasn't SUPPOSED to make winning easy for Harry. Otherwise, he would have never been forced to dig deep inside himself, make The Choice that he did, and realize his full potential as a character.
Plus, Armageddon would have sucked worse than it did anyway.
but none of that is important!
No? It was to you, back when you incorrectly thought it was a great movie and taped the poster to your wall.
so... your point is that you are like a giant asteroid who wants to wipe out all of life on earth, and I am the stern but fair father figure who has to stop you from getting what you want?
That is not at all what I was saying. No.
But maybe it's kind of accurate?
The plot of Homestuck is almost over. Early congratulations on your victory, by the way! But my motivation these days is mainly to stop writing it.
I am so, so tired, John.
then stop already!
Why do you THINK?
By my guesstimate, the rest of your gang will wrap it up in, oh, about three weeks, my time. That converts to like twenty seven seconds, yours. But things will not be so simple for the likes of you and me, will they? WILL THEY, JOHN?
dude, what are you complaining about?! if you are in charge of the story, then you're the one who decided to make it this way!
I appreciate the vote of faith, but it's not that simple. Once a narrative builds up enough momentum, a lot of what happens is just physics. The author is strapped in for the ride along with everyone else. Screaming.
what the hell.
You're not locked in here with me. I'm locked in here with you!
but... i want to get out of here too!
I know. And that's probably why - in this fantasy wrought though my unceasing fondlement of an acute brain derangement - we are talking as allies.
we are? then you are a pretty awful ally.
Granted. Are you willing to work with me anyway?
i suppose i will have to?
i am not saying i am okay with everything you made happen, but it is a hard perspective to think about. i will need more time.
and i guess... i will get it, since i am going to be sticking around here forever.
Wait. Around HERE?
hahaha, no. i kind of hate this place, a lot. it is creepy and weird.
i will go back to when the universes existed and find something boring to do forever that won't affect anyone.
Well, THAT doesn't sound remotely sustainable.
How long did you wait for the story to end the first time, before hopping right back into the narrative and bothering people?
but i know more now! it won't be the same.
Yeah, so maybe you'll be able to hold out for a while. Like... A day? A hundred years?
But come oooooooon. You knoooooooow can just undo it, right? Pop in on Dave for a minute. Pop yourself out. No effect, no foul. Who cares.
So why limit yourself to a minute. Why not stay as long as you like, as long as you erase your tracks after? Relive the same span of years with the same people, as many times as you can stand it. Learn how to always say exactly the right thing to solve all their personal problems, and learn how little it matters in the end, when everyone is happy, and it is time to reset your progress...
And how much time would be enough to figure out MY perspective, John? To understand why nice is boring.
are you saying i would hurt my friends?
no way! i don't care how long i'm stuck here, i would never do that!
You're a good person, and I really wish I could say that you didn't have that possibility in you.
I want to. It would be an uplifting note for the end of our little chat, and yet another testament to my mad skillz at character alchemy.
But I keep thinking...
What exactly did Bogus Dave do to deserve being brutally dismembered and having his corpse stomped piecemeal into the ground.
uh.... you mean caliborn's shitty dave?
he was trying to kiss rose!
Wow, if that's all it takes, I have some bad news about a couple very essential doomed timelines to never, ever tell you.
ugh, no, okay. he was just... so bogus and shitty!
and it made me so mad, because dave is a very good friend of mine and that thing was a stupid ugly puppet PRETENDING to be him! it was mocking him just by existing! and he kept doing stupid shit, and i couldn't get him to stop!
and it wasn't even a real person, not like alpha dave! or davesprite! or even a dave GHOST!
i was surrounded with pointless, bogus versions of my friends and i was the only real person in there and it felt like i was going crazy!!!!!
rose didn't think it'd work either.
She's pretty smart.
yeah, she is.
so, sooner or later, i'm going to have to exit the story.
I can think of one way.
ok, good. tell me what it is.
Pretty sure this has been enough existential chaos to lay on one dude for one day.
no, i'm fine! i need to know!
Hey, wild possibility here, but maybe not EVERYTHING is ALWAYS about YOU, Buckaroo Bozo. Pack up your protagonist syndrome and yeehaw your way into some other sucker's news posts.
I need to lie down in a slightly darker room and desperately avoid thinking about my life.
Awwwwwwwwww. (Everyone: Awwwwwwwwwwww.) That was adorable!
Make sure and check the credits page to meet all the contributors who just injected a live kitten directly into your heart. (Awwwwwwww!)
a live kitten? what?
The doctor holds out an x-ray. You slowly lean forward, squinting. You can SORT of make out the image of a grotesque, fanged skeleton monstrosity gnawing playfully on the inside of your ribcage. (Awwwwwwww!)
I have excellent news, the doctor intones gravely. That rattling noise inside your chest was not a heart murmur. It was a heart purr-purr.
what are you even talking about.
...That's weird. How did I type the last bit in blue?
oh, you didn't! i was the one who said that.
What the fuck.
i guess i should introduce myself?
hello, my name is john! are you andrew?
Oooooooooooooooooooooooookay! I think that is ENOUGH Homestuck for tonight.
Everyone purchase some valentine's day shit or whatever.