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[personal profile] cravatsandpsychopaths posting in [community profile] hso2012_collabs3
Summary: In which Karkat tries to fight against destiny and fails.

Characters: Equius Zahhak, Karkat Vantas
Ships: Equius<3Karkat, Gamzee<>Karkat

Category One:
Tags Present: Gore
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Category Two:
Tags Present: Character Death
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Category Three (Optional):
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Karkat thought of himself as a natural born leader. He could feel it in himself every time Eridan prattled on about great Alternian generals and conquerors—he would think to himself: “that’s me” even as he cringed at every gruesome detail of just how those great conquerors bent others to their will. Somehow, he knew that he wouldn’t have to follow their example to make others follow him or obey his commands. They would only need to hear the sound of his voice and they would know to follow. They would see his prowess and would learn to respect him as much as any high-born snob in his position. Through their validation, he felt like he would be able to stop loathing himself.

Then the day arrived where he would finally be able to bring his dreams to fruition. Sollux and Aradia had produced a new game—an important game by the sound of it. Him and his eleven friends would be split into two teams; each with their own leader. He snatched up the title faster than a starving grub would devour its nearest competition. By usurping the title from Terezi, he made the first step in proving himself a true leader (though she admittedly hadn’t cared about surrendering the leader position). Even better, the game became a competition. Red versus Blue with the opposition being led by an almost perfect opponent: Equius Zahhak.

He had hated Equius since day one. The blue-blood was pompous, rigid in his hemospectrum beliefs, and a creepy jerk. His hatred wasn’t even remotely romantic—just the platonic sort that made him want to gag whenever the sweaty freak attempted to initiate conversation. He told himself that he would beat Equius. He would prove himself to everyone and finally-finally-be able to say that a filthy mutant could lead just as well as any highblood. He was determined to succeed.

--

AA: y0u realize that y0ure going to fail

CG: I DON’T SEE A QUESTION MARK AT THE END OF THAT SENTENCE

AA: its not a questi0n

AA: its the truth

CG: WHAT THE FUCK WOULD YOU KNOW?

AA: ch00se t0 believe me 0r n0t it really d0esnt make a difference im afraid

CG: WHY ARE YOU EVEN TELLING ME THIS? ALL YOU’RE DOING IS WASTING MY TIME.
AA: i was instructed t0 d0 s0

AA: every0ne and everything in this timeline is t0 be extinguished 0ne way or another and t0 be
perfectly h0nest the th0ught is n0t a pleasant 0ne

CG: …..

AA: whether it is through your usual impatience 0r s0me 0ther f0lly it will happen

CG: YOU’RE JUST GLOOM AND DOOM ALL THE TIME, YOU KNOW???

CG: WOULD IT KILL YOU TO JUST POP IN AND SAY SOMETHING LIKE, OH I DON’T KNOW, “HEY KARKAT NICE
DAY WE’RE HAVING. ZAHHAK ISN’T NEARLY AS GREAT OF A LEADER AS YOU ARE 0u0”

CG: 0u0

CG: 0u0

CG: 0u0

CG: WOW. WHY WOULD ANYONE EVER USE THAT?

AA: 0_0

AA: if it makes y0u feel any better i t0ld equius the same thing

AA: he will fare n0 better than y0u

--

As much as he hated to admit it, Aradia’s words had begun slowly eating away at him; so much so that he mustered up the courage to ask Kanaya for help. He asked her if he was a bad leader and she’s directly honest as always. She told him that he was impatient. She talked about how the mechanics of the game require a certain amount of care and attention he just didn’t seem to have. He wasn’t sure whether to be grateful or hurt for her words at the time. But they drove him to do better. He wasn’t going to fail. He was so sure of himself in the beginning.

--

CT: D--> I’m assuming that she told you already.

CG: I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR YOU, ZAHHAK.

CT: D--> You’re even more orneighry than usual. I’m going to go ahead and assume that I’m right.

CG: OH, FUCK YOU.

CG: WHAT THAT TAINT CHAFING FUCK DO YOU WANT?

CT: D--> The only reason I’m approaching you is because I have been….. convinced that a specific horse of action should be taken.

CG: OH GOOD GOD. WHAT. WHAT CONVOLUTED PLAN DID YOU AND YOUR THINK-PAN DEAD TEAM CONJURE UP?

CT: D--> I’m trying to e%plain that to you, so I would appreciate it if you would kindly stop senselessly banging your hands against the poor, abused keys of your husktop for a moment.

CG: FINE. I’LL JUST SIT HERE WITH MY RUMP NESTLED UNCOMFORTABLY ATOP MY HANDS SO THE GREAT AND MIGHTY HIGHBLOOD CAN PUT IN HIS TWO CENTS. NEVER MIND THAT WE DON’T HAVE THE TIME TO LAZE AROUND LIKE A BUNCH OF OVERWEIGHT HERD BEASTS BENEATH THE SUN.

CT: D--> You do realize that you’re gosh darn infuriating don’t you?

CT: D--> Just… pay attention to me. I am commanding you to at least consider my proposition of
teamwork between you and me, as leaders of our respective teams.

CG: …… YOU’RE SERIOUS?

CT: D--> Don’t make me repeat myself. This is h00fmiliating enough as it is.

CG: AHAHAHAHA

CG: OH MY GOD

CG: THIS IS SO HILARIOUSLY IRONIC I WISH I COULD THINK OF SOMETHING COMPARABLE.

CT: D--> If all you’re going to do is mock me I have more important matters to deal with.

CG: NO, THIS IS TOO FUCKING GOLDEN TO PASS UP.

CT: D--> Seeing as we’re in apparent agreement, I’ll e%cuse myself now.

--

It’s almost funny how the “teamwork” proceeded from there on out. Kanaya was a godsend—her advice invaluable. It was Eridan who suggested that they use Feferi’s connection to the monstrosities of the Veil to gather more intel. Terezi communicated better with the game sprites than any other player and was able to successfully determine the best teams based on their player aspects. Karkat ended up paired off with Gamzee while Equius was teamed with Feferi.

Karkat almost felt bad for him. The slight tremor in his hands when she stood too close and the nervous rivulets of sweat which travelled from his temple to slide down his neck spoke volumes of his discomfort. He almost wished he knew what was going through Zahhak’s head. What sort of school-feeding had he gone through that Feferi made him shake like a troll meant to face culling? He tried to discard further thoughts of Equius from his think-pan, but despite his best efforts the image of that hard set frown (with crooked and broken teeth protruding from between thin lips) remained rooted in his mind.

The point of all this being that Karkat had managed to pull himself together and incorporate his team’s input to further advance their chances of success. Yet, Aradia did not recant her prediction of doom. If anything the machinery in her face whirred to soften her robotic features into a cheap imitation of sympathy. She continued to follow her orders, but she was past the point of hoping for anything more than destruction. Karkat continued to ignore her, knowing that somehow they would pull through this. If fate deigned that he fail he would fight against fate
with every bit of strength in his body.

--

CG: ZAHHAK.

CT: D--> Is there something you need?

CG: ERIDAN HASN’T REPORTED BACK YET. HE SPLIT OFF FROM SOLLUX LIKE A FUCKING IDIOT AND NOW WE
DON’T KNOW WHERE HE IS. YOUR SIDEQUEST IS NEARBY HIS GATE.

CT: D--> Underst00d

--

Equius didn’t report back, but instead showed up on Karkat’s planet with Eridan’s bloody corpse cradled delicately in his arms. Feferi wasn’t far behind, her frame shrunken beneath grief and shaking with her cries. Sollux didn’t have the courage to comfort her, so he remained far off and silent. Equius laid the sea dweller upon the ground and Karkat couldn’t find a single word to say. Eridan’s chest was torn open, a royal purple staining his clothes and the blackness of his lips. His eyes were wide open—glazed over with death—so Karkat attempted to close them, feeling his chest tighten when his friend’s outer lids slid open partway in resistance. Suddenly, it felt as if he couldn’t breathe. “Oh god,” he thought as his eyes began to sting with the desire to cry.

He felt Gamzee’s long, spindly arms envelop him, “Motherfucker, you are more than welcome to use this clown’s threads to get your grieving on.”

Karkat snatched up the offer, the sight of Eridan’s lifeless body finally too much to bear. With Gamzee’s black shirt to mask the bright candy red of his tears he didn’t have anything to fear from the others. The thought hit him then: that despite everything he’d done…. he still had to hide the sludge running through his veins. How could he have ever thought that he was somehow more than what he’d always been? A freak. He was no leader.

It didn’t occur to him that Equius was watching at the time. It didn’t occur to him at all that
Equius’ chest twisted with pity at the sound of his sobbing.

--

They continued on. The loss weighed on them—for some the weight was heavier than others, but no one could yet bring themselves to speak Eridan’s name. They avoided the quests that require a trip to the land of Wrath and Angels, keeping as far from the gate as possible while going about their business. From then on Karkat found Equius even more readily on hand, as if the highblood was afraid to stray too far from him. Even more surprising was how Equius contacted him more often. They talked about Feferi. About side quests and what everyone else in the team was up to. At one point Karkat realized that the sight of Equius’ indigo text on his screen no longer made a groan rise from his throat. It was a strange enough feeling in itself without the fact that with every conversation he learned more and more about Equius.

How beneath pride and strength there was a constant discomfort. A nagging sense of inadequacy ate at the back of his thoughts because no matter what he did everyone called him a freak. They mocked a problem out of his control and took the nervous falters in his speech as opportunities to call him a pervert. But with his lack of control he found solace in the hemospectrum. Because within that system there was a clear order—structure and rules to be obeyed. He clung to that rigidness because he needed that sense of authority; he needed the sense that he had a place somewhere.

And god was that pathetic. It was probably the most disgustingly pitiful thing Karkat had ever heard and that ate at him even more than Aradia’s attempts at sympathy.

--

It was almost as if that’s when the universe decided it was allowed to start falling apart. Tavros contacted Nepeta with the news that Vriska had been trapped by a cave-in; she and Terezi arrived to find that Tavros was partially trapped beneath the rubble while Vriska had been crushed altogether. They were able to save Tavros’ life by rushing him to his quest bed.

But it didn’t stop there—why would it? Why would anything ever be fair? Of course Aradia would disappear as soon as Kanaya needed her most. Of course Kanaya would be knocked into the forge along with her Genesis Tadpole. It was inevitable that everything would unravel from there.
There was nothing anyone could do to stop it. But why would it have been any different?

--

CC: KARKAT!!!

CC: KARKAT H-ELP M-E! 38(

CG: WHAT?

CC: -Equius is hurt!!

CC: Oh my god Karkat he’s hurt R-EALLY BAD!

--

He didn’t even bother wasting time typing up a reply. He checked everyone’s positions and messaged Sollux to take the gate over to the land of Caves and Silence. Without waiting for Sollux’s reply, he grabbed Gamzee and started sprinting in Equius and Feferi’s direction. The sound of his own blood rushing through his veins was almost deafening. He felt like he couldn’t breathe and the only thing keeping the tears from forcing their way out of his eyes was the feeling of Gamzee’s bony hand clutched tightly in his.

When he finally found Equius, Feferi was kneeling by his side, her hands pressed tightly against his side to staunch the bleeding. Sollux and Tavros were there as well and Tavros dropped to his knees to press his lips tightly against Equius’ blue stained ones. He exhaled into the highblood’s mouth, but there was too much blood to tell if it was helping. Karkat choked on his own breath when he saw something that looked suspiciously like intestine slipping between Feferi’s fingers.

He was trembling so bad he didn’t know how he managed to look Equius in the eyes. His sunglasses had been knocked askew, his eyes were wide and so terrified Karkat couldn’t stand it. His eyes brimmed over with tears as he snapped at Tavros to stop. “Feferi! Where’s his quest bed?” Karkat demanded, furiously scrubbing at his face. Feferi’s eyes went wide at the suggestion, but she just as swiftly gathered Equius in her arms and picked him up like he wasn’t twice her size. Her legs kicked off the earth and she went sailing into the air with Equius clutched against her chest. Tavros and Sollux flew off after her while Karkat and Gamzee were bound to the earth.
Before they could catch up with the rest of the group, a beam of light shot into the sky and Karkat breathed a sigh of relief. Gamzee smiled as if he had just learned the greatest secret in paradox space, but Karkat ignored both him and the feeling that filled his chest at the thought of Equius.

--

His relief didn’t last long, because while they were busy saving Equius, Terezi and Nepeta were overwhelmed and killed, never having been able to send out a distress call.

It just wouldn’t fucking stop. Because then Tavros sacrificed himself protecting Feferi—Sollux was killed in the same blast that took his sprite—one by one Karkat watched as his friends died in one horrific way or another. He couldn’t even find any more tears to shed as he held Gamzee’s corpse in his arms, swaying back and forth and whimpering like a wriggler separated from its lusus. Feferi disappeared into a puzzle tomb in the Land of Sand and Zephyr, her corpse locked behind its stone walls.

He and Equius were the last ones standing when it came time to face the Black Monarchs. They didn’t stand a chance, but neither of them was ready to go down without a fight. They arrived on the battlefield and almost immediately discovered Aradia lying on the checkered ground. She was badly damaged—her chest plate torn asunder and her limbs dented almost beyond recognition. She bled the same hue as Equius, but in place of organs there was circuitry and a million bits of metal parts Karkat wouldn’t be able to name. She twitched uncontrollably and sparks flew out of every joint she attempted to move.

Equius knelt by her side and asked her if she would like for him to deactivate her. Her entire body whirred with the effort it took for her to shake her head, but she didn’t have much longer by the looks of it. She stuttered out between static that it always had to be this way. Equius reached into her chest and deactivated her as an apology left her lips. “I should’ve listened to her,” Karkat laughed dryly. “I should’ve just given up while I had the chance.”

Equius pondered this for a moment, “It hurts to fail, but I feel like you are somewhat less of a failure for having made the effort in the first place.” Karkat opened his mouth to respond, but his jaw fell slack when he heard: “You were a good leader, either way.” His heart beat became almost deafening and his breath halted in his chest.

“Of all the losers I could’ve ended up dying with….. I—I’m glad it’s you, Zahhak,” Equius flushed and when Karkat threaded their fingers together he found the highblood’s palm slick with sweat.

“You are horribly pitiful, Vantas,” Equius confessed with a slight tremor to his voice, “and I am glad to die by your side.”

Karkat smiled despite the burning sensation in the back of his eyes and the fear starting to form in his think pan. He wished with every fiber of his being that they had more time, but this had to be enough. Death would come soon, but perhaps… perhaps he could be with Equius again, in another life and another place. He clung to that wish.


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HSO 2012 Collab Round Sector 3

August 2012

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