Cookie Fonster Dissects Homestuck Part 90: Tsundere Vacillation Station


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Act 6 Intermission 3, Part 5 of 6

Page 5398 (MSPA: 7298) [Openbound: Part 3]

In which I definitely don’t underhandedly vent about school projects.

This post is extremely long. In fact, it’s my longest Homestuck post yet! Hope you enjoy.

Here’s my plan for the next few acts:

  • Act 6 Act 4 + Act 6 Intermission 4 – 1 post
  • Act 6 Act 5 – 6 posts
  • Act 6 Intermission 5 – 5 posts

I estimate that I’ll reach the end of Act 6 Intermission 5 around November 1, give or take a week. After that, we’ll see what comes next.

Time to start the third and final part of Openbound, where we meet the last three Beforan trolls!

The chest next to Rufioh has some Fiduspawn cards, which brings back long-gone memories.

First off is Rufioh Nitram, the homage character to Dante Basco. He’s alright I guess, which is way more than can be said about most of the other Beforan trolls.

Meenah’s conversation with him doesn’t waste much time establishing absurd archetypes. Rufioh says he had wings since birth and never ascended to god tier, then starts to bemoan how people think he’s braver than he actually is. Right after that, Rufioh dives into his backstory which is WAY darker than anything else we saw with the alpha trolls.

MEENAH: alright so you never god tiered but i still dont get somefin
MEENAH: didnt you have a totally fuckin stupid robot body at some point or did i just imagine that
MEENAH: that whole period of time in our session was reel foggy to me i guess because i was dead for a while there
 #maybe i got the ghost madness #could SWEAR you was a metal horse tho
RUFIOH: yeaaah…
RUFIOH: no, the robot body was def1n1tely a th1ng… 1 k1nd of blocked that out of my memory too, haha… that was… that sh*t was someth1ng else, yo! crazy…
RUFIOH: 1’m sure you remember how all that started… back when damara and 1 were st1ll dat1ng… r1ng any bells?
MEENAH: yeah
MEENAH: fuckin megido
MEENAH: do we really need to rehash that ancient bullshit drama
 #bull #lol #wait… #why dont you ever do bull puns? #FAIL
RUFIOH: no, no… heh, just say1ng 1s all… 1t was that whole th1ng… anyway, that’s when horuss was k1nd of mack1ng on me, remember… and 1 wasn’t all about to vac1llate w1th h1m and her cause 1 knew how she was… d*mn, so jealous… so f***1ng crazy…
RUFIOH: so she made me a cr*pple, remember?
MEENAH: tag that shit homie
RUFIOH: d*mn, yeah… 1 mean, she busted me up… couldn’t move a muscle… well, could st1ll flap my w1ngs well enough, haha…

And you thought Vriska was a HUGE 8ITCH, huh???

Unlike what we learned prior about the Beforan trolls’ backstory, this is WAY worse than the Alternian trolls’ backstory. Tavros was only paralyzed from the legs down and Vriska even had the courtesy to make him some sick flying equipment. Damara paralyzed Rufioh’s entire body save for his wings, all because of romantic jealousy.

RUFIOH: really, 1 thought 1t would be alr1ght, just flapp1ng w1ngs around… 1 could st1ll fly and just hang there l1mp… m1ght have been a dope look!
RUFIOH: but nah… horuss thought better of 1t. bu1lt me the robo-bod, wh1ch was pretty t1ght…
 #l1ke l1terally… #screwed that sh*t together T1GHT! #dude 1s good
RUFIOH: lost my w1ngs though wh1ch sucked… and k1nd of awkward just hav1ng a real guy’s head on top of a b1g metal body and mak1ng all those d*mn legs move the r1ght way, you know… trott1ng 1s hard work yo.
 #espec1ally on sta1rs… #}:(

And the Beforan trolls’ absurd archetypes just make Rufioh’s backstory even worse. Horuss took the opportunity to combine his horse fetish with his attraction to Rufioh and built him a robotic horse body, which he absolutely hated.

RUFIOH: better than be1ng a cr*pple though. 1 mean a quadr1pleg1c, oops, haha… but 1 guess you d1dn’t know what happened after that, s1nce you and damara were k1ll1ng each other and all…
MEENAH: no what
RUFIOH: well… 1 d1ed. yeah… but…
RUFIOH: that’s l1ke… wow, long story… guess you never heard… 1’ll tell you some other t1me, 1t’s th1s whole crazy th1ng. but…
RUFIOH: 1 was dead, r1ght? and horuss k1ssed me back to l1fe… but just my head 1 th1nk… he was probably stand1ng on some mounta1n str1k1ng a pose l1ke a f***1ng gangsta, probably f1ght1ng a hoofbeast w1th a flam1ng mane and all… 
 #hope someone pa1nted that sh*t… #1nstant masterp1ece

Rufioh’s backstory is mixed in with some callbacks to the alpha kids’ romantic entanglements. Horuss corresponds to Dirk, Rufioh to Jake, and Damara to Jane. This story makes us fear the worst for the alpha kids when we hear back from them, especially Jake.

RUFIOH: so yeah, next you saw me 1 had my normal body aga1n… 1t was cool of h1m to help me all the ways he has.
RUFIOH: and yeah, we went out, me and h1m… for a long t1me after that, k1nda off and on, even after we d1ed… 1n case you were gonna ask…
MEENAH: i wasnt
RUFIOH: r1ght… haha… too much 1nformat1on 1 guess? sorry doll.
RUFIOH: 1 always wanted to thank you for stand1ng up for me… you know, when she cr*ppled me… even though 1t cost ya… that was pure class, pe1xes, 1’ll never forget 1t.
MEENAH: man i wouldnt have had to if you could just stand up for yourself sometimes
MEENAH: i mean being paralyzed notfishstanding
RUFIOH: heh… yeah… 1 guess…
MEENAH: you are the only guy in our group who was ever even close to being pretty cool
MEENAH: everyone else sucks but you were almost alright
MEENAH: you were always such a pushover though
MEENAH: pretty lame bro

Rufioh’s pushover issues have him permanently locked in a love triangle with Damara and Horuss. Again makes us fear the worst for Jake.

> Meenah, ask Rufioh to join 

MEENAH: i probubbly shouldnt even ask this since youre not as brave as people make out with you to be
MEENAH: i mean make you out to be
 #wait #what did i say? #nm
MEENAH: but would you want to come away with me to…
RUFIOH: whoa, man… not you too!!! ahaha…
RUFIOH: 1t’s f1ne… 1t’s alr1ght that you d1g me, 1’m flattered… you were just the last person who hadn’t h1t on me yet… and 1 k1nda dug that about you, you know?
MEENAH: i wasnt asking you out dope
RUFIOH: oh… wow… sh*t! sorry, guess 1 got the wrong 1dea…
RUFIOH: 1t’s just k1nd of a reflex, doll… you know? everybody h1ts on me all the t1me, and 1 don’t know why… sh*t 1s crazy…

Rufioh really is the Jake of the alpha trolls. All his friends are attracted to him and he doesn’t know why, and he shows signs of treating romance differently from how most people do. Dating seems to get him into nothing but trouble, so he cherishes people that aren’t romantically attracted to him.

RUFIOH: just the other day, get th1s… some orange guy 1n a green sh1rt jumped out of some bushes and tr1ed to k1ss me… and 1’m l1ke whaaat… step off jolly man, haha…

Hussie’s self-insert apparently met Rufioh and tried to kiss him, which isn’t the least bit surprising. If only Rufioh knew what all his alternate self(???) taught Hussie back in the day…

MEENAH: maybe its cause youre a bishie ass glubberfucker with a kickin hawk
RUFIOH: yo, that’s cool of you to say… you’ve got k1nda th1s otenba b1shojo th1ng go1ng on yourself, g1rl… your style rocks, 1 always thought you looked pretty slamm1n…
 #1 could g1ve you mohawk dy1ng t1ps… #you’d rock the sh*t out of that look!!!
MEENAH: for what its worth
MEENAH: i would be your moe dere dere waifu in the beat of a pump biscuit
MEENAH: if i was remotely attracted to you or found your personality more appealing
MEENAH: and also if i shared your dumb passion for troll anime and didnt think it clogged massive blowhole
RUFIOH: ahaha, bangarang! that’s a scenar1o 1’d be alr1ght w1th…
RUFIOH: no one really to talk to anymore about my stor1es, yo… s1nce th1ngs got so ch1lly w1th my ex…
MEENAH: goddamn witch
RUFIOH: seriously… she crazy…

God damn do I feel bad for Rufioh. He badly wants friends to talk to about his troll anime, but nobody other than his ex cares about it. I’m not even very well-versed in anime and I can confirm from experience that jamming with someone else about an anime you like is an absolute blast. And just to be clear, I have no idea what an “otenba” or a “bishojo” is.

RUFIOH: so what were you go1ng to ask me… uh, 1f not on a date?
 #and 1f not what brand of mohawk dye 1 use?
MEENAH: never mind
MEENAH: youre not even gonna agree anyway cause this team suuuuucks
MEENAH: later ruf

I actually think Meenah may have had a shot getting Rufioh to join her army. Who knows, maybe he likes the idea of facing off against a big green monster if it gets him away from his horrible relationship with Horuss.

> Meenah, open chest east of Rufioh


There was a rumor going around that once, through an elaborate courtship process, Horuss sent Rufioh a robotic duplicate of himself to spar with, piece by piece. The last part he sent was supposedly the head.

That’s almost certainly a myth. Horuss is a pretty strange dude, but he would have to be a total lunatic to do something like that. The anecdote strains plausibility.

Another obvious alpha kid callback. Kind of interesting that the last few Beforan trolls are used to warn us about what could easily happen to the alpha kids in their session.

Now it’s time for Meenah to meet, um,

This fucking guy.


Are you telling me he has a name? I never would have guessed. Everyone forgets about Horuss Zahhak and I’m probably about to see why.

> Meenah, talk to Horuss

HORUSS: 8=D < Your Harness… I mean Hayness. Highness I mean.
HORUSS: 8=D < F*DDLEST*%. Please pardon my utterly e%ecrable language, and unforgivable stammering, your Horseness.
 #Sh*ot! #I mean Hayness! #Whew.

Yes, this is exactly what I need. Traumatic flashbacks to my brony phase.

… how did I never realize Horuss might have been inspired by My Little Pony characters, who stick horse terms into every other word? I feel like I should have noticed that way sooner, because I first read Homestuck right as my brony phase was drawing to a close.

MEENAH: hey uh
MEENAH: horuss what…
MEENAH: what the fuck is that thing youre prefixing all your talkin with
HORUSS: 8=D < Oh, this? What, you don’t recognize it?
MEENAH: no and its weirding me out
HORUSS: 8=D < Why, it is my smiling face, you s*lly, utterly superior person, you. Goggles and all. Can’t you see?
MEENAH: guess??
MEENAH: its disturbin as heck to me for whatever reason
HORUSS: 8=D < The last thing I desire is to disconcert our prodigal empress.
HORUSS: 8=D < I just thought I would try smiling permanently and uncompromisingly, rather than resnorting to all those disgruntled e%pressions I usually trot out.
 #I’ve been cutting back on the horse puns too, as you can see.


Rufioh deserves better than this absolute creep. Horuss says that he used to always make disgruntled face expressions, which implies that all his lines used to be preceded by ever-changing emoticons just like Meulin, rather than a constant 8=D. He also says he’s been cutting back on horse puns, implying that he used to be even worse if that’s even possible.

MEENAH: why the eff would you want to do that
HORUSS: 8=D < It was on Meulin’s suggestion, actually.
MEENAH: huh??
HORUSS: 8=D < Oh, I guess you must not have herd. She and I have developed quite a STRONG and stable moirallegiance recently.
MEENAH: daaaang
 #disclamer: #less impressed than i sound
MEENAH: that matchup makes no glubbin sense dude
 #cats+horse #ftw
HORUSS: 8=D < E%actly. Whoof would have thought? If you a%ed me before we all died whether I would consider romantically pairing with a r*d*culous midb100d, let alone Ms. Leijon of all people, I’d probably have died regardless, due to laughter-induced asphy%iation.
 #If you’re going to go #Go out with a smile #8=D
HORUSS: 8=D < But do you know what it was that finally cleared the sweat steam-induced fog from my goggles? It was meeting our post-scratch counterparts. 
 #Dancestors #Or shall I say #Dressagecestors?
HORUSS: 8=D < Seeing our corresponding young Alternians, why it threatened to produce a tear-induced f100d on the inside of my goggles.
 #Which naturally I would drain right away through the custom sweat valves
HORUSS: 8=D < Their relationship in spite of the STRONG class disparity I found to be so moving, so pure. It made me reconsider my perspective on Meulin entirely, who horsenestly I’d hardly ever given a second thought.


Horuss isn’t all that much unlike Equius. He has all of that guy’s same fetishes, not even exaggerated all that much. It makes sense that he’d think starting a moirallegiance with Meulin would help keep his weird problems in check, with the same magic that made Nepeta and Equius’s moirallegiance work so well. Unfortunately, Meulin is only like Nepeta on a surface level and is otherwise a useless Tumblr fangirl, so all she does is tell Horuss to permanently smile.

MEENAH: man why yall still act like you give a heap of manure about dating down on the spectrum
MEENAH: you and nitram been a thing for how long now
HORUSS: 8=D < Yes, but no one was supposed to know about that!
HORUSS: 8=D < That was always to be my own private, um, e%ploration. I had no intention of creating such a stirrup. 
 #Though I have literally smithed such items before, pun notwithstanding.
HORUSS: 8=D < It was only to be a very private, fleeting dalliance with a BUOY, but the whole thing became so quickly scandalized. 
 #A spur of the moment affair, really.
HORUSS: 8=D < And soon others were whisked into it such as you and the vengeful rust b100d, and… well, imagine my embarrassment. Trust me, the last thing I wanted was for royalty such as yourself to know I was pursuing forbidden b100d. To be caught with my hoof in the chocolate jar, so to nicker.
HORUSS: 8=D < And I suppose I would have clopped my hands of the matter after the big k*rfuffle, but…
HORUSS: 8=D < I guess I didn’t e%pect to fall in love.

HORUSS: 8=D < It’s true. I am not ashamed to say it. I fell mane over hooves. Phantom snout over phantom hind quarters. He…
HORUSS: 8=D < He stole my breath away.
 #With but a roguish glance.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I fucking hate this guy. He was embarrassed by his relationship with Rufioh not because he knew Damara and Rufioh were in love, but because Rufioh was so low on the hemospectrum.

MEENAH: wow life story alert do not care
HORUSS: 8=D < My apologies, your E%cellency.
MEENAH: just tell me why paling up with meu means you have to make that terrible face now
HORUSS: 8=D < She’s taught me to get in touch with my anger. Through a moderately discernible series of enthusiastic mimes, she has made it clear that it is much healthier to crush all negative emotions beneath a stampede of positivity, and to always be cheerful and upbeat no matter what, even if projecting that facade is at times physically painful.
 #Such as #All times.
MEENAH: that is some shitsauce advice and you should give it up homes
HORUSS: 8=D < Um, yes. Very well.
HORUSS: (;≧Д≦) < Is this better?
MEENAH: much


Sounds like a language barrier right there. Maybe Meulin really did have good romantic advice for Horuss, like my theory that she keeps Mituna’s relationships steady. But Horuss didn’t read her mimes very well and took them to mean that he should smile all the time no matter how deeply depressed he is.

> Meenah, ask Horuss to join

HORUSS: 8=D < Respectfully, your Superlative Magnificency, I do not think that would be advisable.
MEENAH: whoa shocker of the centaury
HORUSS: 8=D < Of course, I will if you order me to without hesitation. But lately I’ve been attempting to canter down a trail of nonviolence.
HORUSS: 8=D < I’ve been saddled for so long with anger and hostility, and now my focus is on solving problems in ways that do not involve confrontation or physical STRENGTH.
 #Soon I may even be able to say STRENGTH without shouting.
HORUSS: 8=D < Technology can solve so many problems, for instance. Do you have any idea how much energy is stored in sweat which may be released through its steam?
HORUSS: 8=D < Have you any clue as to the MIGHT of a quadrupedal automaton powered by raging currents of steam coursing through its e%quisite horizontal torso, and finally jetting through a perfect pair of metal nostrils? I could build as many as you like, my Empress.

Horuss’s robot horses, or at least some form of robot horses, end up useful to the plot in a roundabout way. Maybe when he met Equius, he taught him how to build robotic horses? Makes sense because after Equius became Arquiusprite, he summoned robotic horses to open his surprise entrance into the events of Caliborn’s Masterpiece. So at least Horuss has some possible semblance of redeeming quality, unlike Cronus.

MEENAH: um no think i will pass on taking an army of snorting horsebots with me
 #unless you build those suckas out of gold
MEENAH: so thats all you do is build stupid shit that runs on your sweat now?
MEENAH: cause i could really use a guy with muscle
MEENAH: i dunno if you seen this skull dude but he is RIPP-ED
 #kinda hot actually
HORUSS: 8=D < Oh no, that’s far from my only preoccupation. I have also taken some time to perfect the art of humor.
HORUSS: 8=D < Would you like to hear a joke?
MEENAH: oh noes…
HORUSS: 8=D < A horse trots into a thirst shanty. His muscular shoulders slouched, his noble head hanging low.
HORUSS: 8=D < The dairyjerk observes that the great beast is clearly despondent, and asks:
HORUSS: 8=========D < Why the long face?
MEENAH: euurergh
MEENAH: zahhak god damn it i am royally orderin you to stop doing that face forever
HORUSS: 8=o < At once, my lady.
HORUSS: 8o < My formerly perky visage withdraws, while my fully erect posture shrivels at your regal disapproval.
HORUSS: (ಠ益ಠ;) < I shall henceforth emote in my customary manner, as such.
MEENAH: respect

> Meenah, be Horuss

HORUSS: ᕦ(ò д óˇ)ᕤ < Bring me a horse, and I am yours forever.

Horuss’s words look way less creepy without the constant 8=D. Why did he have to start smiling all the time?

Rounding off the alpha trolls, it’s time to meet Meenah’s longtime nemesis, Damara Megido. Meenah’s conversation with her starts like her “conversation” with Kurloz in the last walkaround: first Damara is silent, then she flips the bird at Meenah. But right after Meenah suspects Damara of still abusing Rufioh after all this time, Damara starts speaking machine translated Japanese that Meenah can’t understand.

I’m not willing to analyze who among Damara and Meenah was in the right during this whole nasty rivalry any more than I am willing to quote the filthy sexual things Damara says. This is one of very few times I’m going to outright censor parts of the comic, for the sake of keeping things reasonably safe for work. If you want to read uncensored translations of Damara’s dialogue, just consult the transcripts.

> Meenah, ask Damara to join

MEENAH: hey so guess what! im building an army to kill lord ahahahaha
 #aka #sea lol
MEENAH: like you could give a fuck about saving reality and or wouldnt just be a huge backstabbin liability out there
DAMARA: 十分に公平。[Fair enough.]
MEENAH: but just for shits an cuttles uh
MEENAH: been sorta wondering
MEENAH: back when we like
MEENAH: kind of ruined each others shit
MEENAH: because of that whole cycle of revenge deal
MEENAH: and i ended up dyin and god tiering and all
MEENAH: remember that
DAMARA: 私が覚えている。[I remember.]
DAMARA: 時々私は、(REDACTED)。[Sometimes I (REDACTED).]
MEENAH: aight not sure i followed that but ill assume it was more weird skanky sass
MEENAH: but what i want to know is
MEENAH: after the fight
MEENAH: did i hurt you bad enough that you maybe
MEENAH: crawled off and died somewhere
MEENAH: like in a quest cocoon
MEENAH: were you maybe all bloodied up from all those forkins
MEENAH: and then maybe along comes a friend with a maddening inability to hold a grudge against you for the ways you fucked him over
MEENAH: maybe trotting along in his new robo horse body and swooped your bloody torso up on his back
MEENAH: galloped off to your cocoon and draped you on the slab while probly not havin the nerve to finish you off
MEENAH: this ringin any bells
 #like the ones in your batty as fuck goddamn belfry?
DAMARA: 性交あなたは何を話している?白痴雌犬。[What the fuck are you talking about? Bitch idiot.]

Damara is even more unhelpful when Meenah asks her to join. Meenah reasonably presumes Damara ascended to god tier, but Damara refuses to elaborate. Then she derails the conversation with more sexual nonsense.

Pictured above: the dream bubble only Damara can open.

I guess I should go over the options of “being” characters now. None of the three newly introduced Beforan trolls let you play as them right away and the way out is blocked by a dream bubble only Damara can open. Rufioh wants someone to bring him a memory of his lusus, Horuss wants someone to bring him a horse, and Meenah basically tells us that you can’t be Damara unless you’re playing as someone that speaks her language. The obvious progression is to be Horuss, then be Rufioh, then be Damara.

Meenah uses the spawn eggs on the Fiduspawn plush and out comes a Horsaponi, which can supposedly evolve to a Horsaroni if you train it enough. If you give it to Horuss, you can be him.

If you play as Horuss and talk to Meenah, she asks Horuss when he decided he was a horse. But before he can answer, Kankri comes in and “corrects” all of Meenah’s misconceptions about… whatever the FUCK Horuss’s fetishes are. Honestly I’ve already said all there is to say about Kankri by this point. I skipped over the time he intruded on Meenah and Rufioh’s conversation earlier in this walkaround. Though this bit is way funnier than it should be:

KANKRI: P99r H9russ here will likely feel triggered f9r weeks 6ecause 9f y9ur th9ughtless questi9n. Hell, even I’m feeling a little triggered 6y it, and I’m n9t even under the impressi9n I’m a h9rse. I think every9ne within earsh9t was triggered 6y that. Y9u feel triggered, right H9russ?
HORUSS: (o皿o;) < Trigger sounds like a wonderful name for a hoofbeast.
KANKRI: See? T9tally triggered. N9w let’s let the healing 6egin.

I wish the Openbound games had more pictures like this. Would liven things up a bit.

Horuss has no idea what Kankri is talking about, but is aroused by a mutant blood speaking at such length about horse identity. Meenah quietly walks away.

Horuss uses his machinery skills to open a chest next to Damara, which contains a suffocating memory of Rufioh’s lusus because Damara is a nasty bitch. You can also talk to her as Horuss, but he can’t understand a word she says. Horuss thinks Damara’s language is a lowblood accent and that’s why only Rufioh can understand her. He also mentions he’s been working on a steam-powered universal translation device that isn’t usable yet. If you read this conversation with Damara’s translations (or if you can read Japanese), Horuss seems like a normal person next to Damara with all the sexual stuff she says.

*sighs loudly, EXTRA LOUDLY*

Horuss talks at length about his past and answers the question of when he “decided he was a horse”: he felt empty all his life due to being a void player and started searching from the void within to find answers to who he is, not the least of which is the idea that he is a horse. This would be great and all if he was listening to a single word Rufioh was saying. Throughout Horuss’s ramble about himself, Rufioh nervously tries to break up with him and then gives up.

HORUSS: 8=D < But as much as I learned about myself, I could never find a way to become whole.
HORUSS: 8=D < The void was never filled until you came along, Rufioh. 
RUFIOH: wow man. that’s…
RUFIOH: wow.
HORUSS: 8=D < If there is any lesson I would like people to take from my story, it is a lesson that is a multiple system consisting of two distinct lessons.
HORUSS: 8=D < The first is how love heals all wounds, even ones consisting of the infinite essence of void permeating your entire e%istence and role as a legendary hero.
HORUSS: 8=D < The second is how if you are faced with any crisis of identity whatsoever, it’s really important to do your best to manufacture esoteric features of your personality and believe in them very STRONGLY and tell people about those things as frequently as possible.

As with Cronus’s scenes in the last walkaround, I think this passage is meant to tell readers how not to behave around the Internet, especially around odd figures. I’m reminded once again of my brony phase and all the other embarrassing stuff I did around that time.

HORUSS: 8=D < I can assure you right now, the labor involved in smithing my personality into one that is interesting and complicated was rather intensive.
HORUSS: 8=D~~ < I really worked up a good sweat in the process.
HORUSS: 8=D~~~~ < (That is the sweat dripping from my face.)
RUFIOH: hey… yo… that…
RUFIOH: that’s some freaky sh*t dog!

Horuss boasts of manufacturing a complex character for himself, and yet he’s one of the most forgettable characters in the entire comic, even by Beforan troll standards. I’ll come back to this point when Meenah gets to Aranea’s exposition stand.

HORUSS: 8=D < Anyway, I apologize for talking so much. You know how you have a way of drawing the breath out of people.
HORUSS: 8=D < What were you trying to tell me?
RUFIOH: oh… yeah.
RUFIOH: never m1nd.

😦 😦 😦 😦

Four frowny faces. Three for Rufioh, one for Horuss because he deserves a slight amount of pity too.

Horuss gives Rufioh his lusus and he lets you be him.

> Rufioh, talk to Horuss

RUFIOH: yo yo, horuss my gangsta, how you feel?
RUFIOH: can 1 get a way gentle f1st bump from my boy? heh, yeah… just l1ke that… f*ck yes.
 #actually that st1ll k1nda hurt…
RUFIOH: anyway 1’ve been mean1ng to talk to you about someth1ng… someth1ng uh… pretty 1mportant.
RUFIOH: about us and the future and all that… you got a m1nute?
RUFIOH: ok, cool. so… d*mn… where do 1 even start…
RUFIOH: you know we’ve had noth1ng but good t1mes together… 1t’s been the bomb.
RUFIOH: well, maybe not everyth1ng… sh*t got d1cey at the start… w1th my crazy ex and… yeah. that’s not the po1nt.
RUFIOH: remember the way you used to be… before you all started be1ng 1nterested 1n me… man you thought 1 sucked! haha, just another lowblood not worth your t1me.
RUFIOH: you were so p1ssed at people l1ke me and damara… so angry, damn. sh*t was scary… and damara… she used to be n1ce as can be… dunno what happened there. talk about a personal1ty sw1tch… for both of ya…
RUFIOH: but then for whatever reason… 1 guess you wanted to reach out to me? 1 mean… 1n secret, 1 know. you d1dn’t want to be all shamed out of your h1ghbrow CIP club, 1 could always d1g that. 1 understood, you know?

Time for Rufioh’s big breakup speech. He starts by describing Horuss in a more positive light than what we’ve seen before. Things do get iffy which he uses the acronym CIP, which shows that Horuss has gotten to him a bit too much—normally those acronyms aren’t part of anyone’s lingo unless they’re fake social justice bloggers or hemospectrum fetishists.

(Constantly censoring profanity is probably another side effect of Rufioh spending so much time with Horuss.)

RUFIOH: people always had crazy 1deas about me. l1ke 1 was th1s brave adventure guy all up 1n th1s forest be1ng a bad*ss and sh*t. people l1ke… they always wanted to be w1th me, or… maybe even wanted to BE me? 1t was all k1nd of whack… even damara when we were go1ng out d1dn’t really get me, 1 th1nk… she put me on th1s pedestal, 1 mean, back before she snapped.
RUFIOH: but you saw me for who 1 was. wh1ch was… not a perfect guy.
RUFIOH: l1ke, 1 wasn’t really sure about myself, and you saw that… so you actually helped me.
RUFIOH: when we were 1n the woods together, you taught me about combat… ph1losophy… l1fe… and love!

Little-known fact: the “combat, philosophy, life, and love” arc words from the epilogues actually originated in Openbound Part 3, as shown above. It fits because Horuss is meant as an analog to Dirk, the character most often associated with those arc words.

Just kidding, this is what Rufioh actually says:

RUFIOH: when we were 1n the woods together, you taught me to f1ght… taught me to fly… taught me to crow!

I’ve reread the epilogues so many times now that I almost expected Rufioh to mention combat, philosophy, life, and love.

RUFIOH: well, not l1terally. 1 mean… 1 knew how to do those th1ngs. 1 knew techn1cally how to flap my w1ngs and fly through the a1r. 1 knew how to say “bangarang” all loud 1f 1 really wanted to… but that was the th1ng. 1 was scared! 1 was scared of fly1ng and fall1ng… 1 was scared of f1ght1ng and fa1l1ng… and 1 was scared of crow1ng and… sound1ng l1ke a f***1ng 1d1ot 1 guess! lol…
RUFIOH: but you helped me not be so scared, or self consc1ous maybe… you just helped me be myself. l1ke… to just be ok w1th not be1ng perfect, or l1v1ng up to whatever people th1nk 1 should be.
RUFIOH: maybe 1t’s just nostalg1a… there was someth1ng better about those t1mes… just you and me ch1ll1ng 1n the woods. but then we entered the game.
RUFIOH: and for some reason… st1ll don’t know why… damara just started go1ng a l1ttle more nuts every day… gett1ng more and more jealous when she knew we were hang1ng out…
RUFIOH: then she found out 1t was more than just hang1ng out… and 1 guess the rest was h1story.

Rufioh mentions that Damara didn’t really go crazy until after the game started. This sets up a mystery arc for what caused Damara to go crazy. We’re led to believe that Damara simply learned from Sburb constructs to start being a nasty asshole; we don’t know what really changed her character until we get to Aranea’s exposition booth.

RUFIOH: and yada yada… then we all d1ed… and we been together ever s1nce. all th1s t1me as ghosts…
RUFIOH: wh1ch 1s… a long t1me, you know?
RUFIOH: and 1’ll always be grateful for what we had together… but… 1 guess people change.
RUFIOH: even as ghosts, they change, 1f you g1ve em long enough… they start want1ng d1fferent th1ngs…
RUFIOH: aw man! 1’m go1ng about th1s all wrong… say1ng way too much, but not what 1 want to say… sh*t, haha.
RUFIOH: 1 should just use the bravery you helped me understand 1 always had, and just say 1t…
RUFIOH: 1 th1nk we should break up.
RUFIOH: you ok, bro?
HORUSS: 8=D < Oh! I’m sorry, what did you say?
HORUSS: 8=D < My ear valves filled up with sweat, and I didn’t catch most of that.

😦 😦 😦

Three frowny faces for Rufioh, none for Horuss.

HORUSS: 8=D < Hey, why don’t we participate in an enjoyable activity together later, as romantic afterlife partners? We could play one of those foreign card games you seem to like. What’s that one called again? Fiddlespoon?
RUFIOH: um. yeah… we can do that… 1 guess. that sounds… uh… dope.
HORUSS: 8=D < I know I’m not the best partner to share your e%otic and somewhat childish interests with, but I do my best to try to understand them and enjoy them with you. The most important thing is that we spend time together, and maintain a STRONG relationship.
RUFIOH: bangarang.

I feel bad for Rufioh again. Everyone calls his interests childish, even though there’s nothing wrong with liking things that may be aimed at children. And there’s especially nothing wrong with liking anime. Did Horuss ever try watching any of Rufioh’s favorite animes? I’m sure at least one anime had some appearance or mention of horses, which Horuss would obviously love. Though that would probably just make their relationship even worse.

RUFIOH: d*mn… thank god 1 got my lusus back… dunno what 1’d do w1thout the l1ttle guy!
MEENAH: is he even uh
MEENAH: “reel”
MEENAH: ya know
MEENAH: like the ghost of your actual lusus or
RUFIOH: er… know what? not sure, doll!
RUFIOH: he could just be a memory f1gment or someth1ng l1ke that. or maybe he’s really h1s ghost…
RUFIOH: when damara acc1dentally dropped a hunger trunk on h1m way back… crushed h1s l1ttle body… 1 always dreamed 1 m1ght meet up w1th h1m aga1n 1n the afterl1fe.
RUFIOH: so when 1 found h1m here… guess 1 d1dn’t th1nk about 1t much? 1 was just happy to see h1m.

Accidentally dropping refrigerators is usually one of the first things anyone does in a Sburb session, which might imply Rufioh’s lusus died right at the start of their session. Or it might not, because the Beforus session was a miserable failure that never went anywhere for three sweeps until they figured out how to reset the game. Either way, Rufioh losing his lusus for so long is messed up to think about.

RUFIOH: 1 remember when 1 was young… just a l1ttle runt out there try1ng to make 1t 1n the world… people would look at me funny cause my w1ngs were grow1ng 1n, and that really freaked people out yo!
RUFIOH: so 1 got way self consc1ous and d1dn’t feel at home out there… w1th everybody eye1ng me up l1ke that…
RUFIOH: so one n1ght my lusus led me 1nto the woods…
RUFIOH: and 1 found th1s whole baller v1llage of f***ck1n tree houses and rope ladders and 1 was l1ke D*MN!
 #shouted bangarang SO LOUD you don’t even KNOW!
RUFIOH: that’s when 1 became an off1c1al member of the lost weeaboos.
MEENAH: hey ok so…
MEENAH: can we not actually talk about the lost weeaboos
MEENAH: can that just be not a conversation we have
MEENAH: ruf listen your storys cool but theres some junk thats just so silly i cant even try to abide
RUFIOH: yeah 1 guess… heh.
RUFIOH: but anyway, they were my boys… a better posse you couldn’t hope to ch1ll w1th, k1ck the sh*t on troll an1me… all that.
MEENAH: aw fer glub sake
RUFIOH: f1rst bumped 1nto damara out there… crazy t1mes!
RUFIOH: 1 th1nk those were format1ve sweeps for me… learned to love a lotta th1ngs 1 st1ll do to th1s day.
RUFIOH: between you and me… 1 m1ss the days 1 could just jam w1th her about troll an1me… but now… you know how 1t 1s…

Normally in these conversations I feel bad for Meenah, but in this case it’s totally the opposite and I feel bad for Rufioh. Meenah is going full on “lol anime is for losers”, which reminds me of how I was back when I hadn’t seen any anime. It’s the one case where I actually think it’s rude for Meenah to make fun of her friends’ interests. There’s just something sincere about Rufioh’s attitude that shows he isn’t a lunatic freak of nature, just a regular guy who really enjoys talking about his favorite animes.

RUFIOH: 1t’s ok, 1 get that the stuff 1 l1ke 1sn’t for everyone.
RUFIOH: people say 1t’s just for w1gglers… and 1 k1nd of assumed one day 1’d grow out of 1t, but guess 1 never d1d?
RUFIOH: then aga1n… we all d1ed… and now we really are all young forever… 
RUFIOH: just l1ke the prophecy of the lost weeaboos sa1d… 
RUFIOH: whoa spooky… 1 always thought that was a load of bs!!!
MEENAH: whoops you just said lost weeaboos again thus failing the conversation
MEENAH: in the immortal hand gestured words of the late great meulin leijon:

I think it was a positive development that Rufioh accepted he wouldn’t grow out of his troll anime and decided to just keep liking the things he likes. And you know what? It’s fine that Meenah doesn’t understand all this. Obviously not everyone is going to care about all the things you care about.

Rufioh’s conversation with Damara is upsetting, even without translations handy. She’s still bitter that Rufioh cheated on her with Horuss. The conversation continues if you start playing as Damara, and that’s where things get more interesting.

RUFIOH: gotta be honest damara… 1 been feel1ng pretty bad…
DAMARA: なぜですか? [Why?]
RUFIOH: um… you can keep a secret, r1ght?
DAMARA: はい、もちろん。私はあなたの友達です。[Yes, of course. I am your friend.]
RUFIOH: yeah…
RUFIOH: 1t’s horuss… and you know… been th1nk1ng about break1ng 1t off w1th h1m…
DAMARA: 何を壊す?彼のホーン? [Breaking what? His horn?]
RUFIOH: hahaha! naw… that wouldn’t do much good…

Damara’s suggestion to break Horuss’s horn is an obvious pun on how one of Equius’s horns was broken, but I think it might also be a hint at her fatalism and belief in circumstantial simultaneity. I know that sounds a bit far-fetched, but need I remind you, there’s nothing wrong with reading “too much” into things.

RUFIOH: 1 feel gu1lty for say1ng so… 1’m just not 1nto 1t… so many repet1t1ve dates over the m1llen1a… so much l1ke… talk1ng about l1vestock and b1g muscular an1mals and… 1 dunno. those aren’t really my 1nterests…
RUFIOH: maybe we were never that compat1ble and 1 just never had the guts to say so?
DAMARA: RUFIOH 。私はあなたにこのことを告げた。毎日。永遠に。[RUFIOH. I told you this. Every day. Forever.]
RUFIOH: 1 know, 1 know… 1 d1dn’t l1sten to you… 1 f1gured you were st1ll all mad and jealous!!!
DAMARA: 私は怒って嫉妬した。[I was mad and jealous.]
RUFIOH: r1ght… 1 just don’t know what to do.
RUFIOH: he’s great… but he’s so cl1ngy! 1 don’t know how he keeps that up after all th1s t1me… dude’s got stam1na… 1’m just l1ke… romant1cally exhausted. you get me, doll?
DAMARA: はい。愛が私には死んでいる。ので、誰かがずっと前に、心臓を介して私を刺した。[Yes. Love is dead to me. So long ago, someone stabbed me through the heart.]

Rufioh always sees the best in people and can’t parse when they’re mad at him, which is again reminiscent of Jake. Both are strong cases of unending optimism leading to severe romantic turmoil.

RUFIOH: but for real… 1 just don’t want to hurt h1s feel1ngs…
DAMARA: あなたは私が彼を殺したいですか?再び? [Do you want me to kill him? Again?]
RUFIOH: no!!! god, no… don’t hurt anyone… let’s not go there aga1n!
DAMARA: 私が彼を誘惑したいですか? [Do you want me to seduce him?]
RUFIOH: er… 1 guess 1f the two of you are l1ke… um. that’s really between you and h1m? not sure he would go for that… anyway, 1 don’t th1nk that would actually help me…
DAMARA: 私は彼の魂を消費するために悪魔をもたらすでしょう。[I’ll bring the devil to consume his soul.]
RUFIOH: man, no! 1 told you, please don’t feed anyone’s soul to ANYBODY!!!
RUFIOH: you’ve got to keep crazy talk l1ke that down, damara!
RUFIOH: 1f people knew some of the sh*t you sa1d… how you say crazy sh*t l1ke you want to serve h1m… f***!
RUFIOH: 1t wouldn’t be cool… people would fl1p…
RUFIOH: h*ll, d1dn’t you hear meenah was try1ng to ra1se an army to k1ll h1m?
RUFIOH: 1f she could hear some of the th1ngs you told me… sh*t… 1 can’t ever let her f1nd out…
RUFIOH: 1f she knew, you’d both start f1ght1ng aga1n…
DAMARA: あなたは必然だけを遅らせる。[You’re only delaying the inevitable.]
DAMARA: 私たちの終了時間が近いです。[The end of our time is near.]

And here’s the big reveal: it turns out Damara is in league with Lord English. Not just clown bullshit like with Kurloz. She is closely tied to English and carried out real duties of his, which I’ll go over more when Aranea goes over her backstory.

Note that Kanaya isn’t glowing anymore.

As Damara, you can remove the big glacier memory and go to the trolls’ meteor, but you can’t go inside yet because you don’t have the password.

PORRIM: Damara, do+ yo+u mind? We’re having a private co+nversatio+n here.
PORRIM: Please. Leave us alo+ne. We’ll talk later, o+k?
KANAYA: (shes making me slightly uncomfortable)
PORRIM: (that’s her specialty. just igno+re her until she go+es away.)

This short passage says all that needs to be said about most of the Beforan trolls’ relationships with Damara. The only thing left to find out is what caused her to be this way.

Damara’s conversation with Horuss is more of her saying sexual things he can’t understand, but this time we have a better idea why that is: she’s extremely bitter at Horuss for stealing her boyfriend and this is the best way she can express that bitterness to him.

Only Horuss can open the chest to the bottom left, which contains a statue of horse genitalia.

If you’re playing as Meenah, Horuss, or Rufioh, you’ll see Mituna laying on the floor in a hidden corner. But if you’re playing as Damara, you’ll see Latula with him, and she says:

Kind of weird that Latula is smiling when she death threats Damara. Just goes to show how she’s burned bridges with all the Beforan trolls except arguably Rufioh. This scene is called back to if you go to the trolls’ meteor as Damara, which I’ll do at the end of this post.

And finally, Damara has a short conversation with Meenah. It’s full dramatic irony if you don’t know Japanese, especially from Meenah’s perspective. As such, I’ll present it without translations:

DAMARA: あなたは時間の領主に挑戦します。
DAMARA: あなたの哀れな軍隊は失敗しなければならない。
DAMARA: 彼はあなたの幽霊を食べるようになる。彼は現実そのものを消費するからである。
MEENAH: i think…
MEENAH: it sounded like…
MEENAH: youre tryin to wish me luck in my upcoming battle?
MEENAH: hey thanks megido
MEENAH: maybe i had you all wrong
DAMARA: ない。あなたはそうしなかった。
MEENAH: aw ive probably been a bitch to you for no reason
MEENAH: lets forget all that shit ever happened
MEENAH: hey how about a hug
MEENAH: whoa watch where youre puttin that hand!!!
DAMARA: 私は何も後悔はありません。
MEENAH: apology accepted
MEENAH: hey you get around to moving that huge quartz glacier yet
MEENAH: kind of in a hurry here

(Again, go to for translations.)

Having exhausted all the dialogue options, it’s time to be Meenah again and proceed to the trolls’ meteor.

> Meenah, listen in on conversation

PORRIM: Ah, seems we have co+mpany. Guess we sho+uld wrap this up!
PORRIM: I’m very happy yo+u came to+ see me. I ho+pe yo+u’ll bear in mind what I said.
KANAYA: Yes I Surely Will
KANAYA: And Im Happy Too
PORRIM: Yo+u have impo+rtant wo+rk ahead o+f yo+u. The legacy o+f o+ur race is in yo+ur hands.
PORRIM: I kno+w yo+u will make me pro+ud.
KANAYA: Okay Thank You

It’s fair to assume Porrim’s words for Kanaya about resurrecting the troll race centered around feminism. Considering that Earth C is explicitly stated to be a land of absolute gender parity, I think Kanaya did indeed make Porrim proud. A bit too proud if you ask me—in the epilogues, troll reproduction becomes the crux of a major political crisis all because Kanaya wanted to take the birth of the mother grub into her own hands rather than letting 5000 years of history sort things out. I think the beta trolls’ Alternian pride becomes stronger the fewer are left alive.

> Meenah, ask Kanaya for password

MEENAH: aw snapperfish its popo merrygams and maryam lookalike kid
MEENAH: water you ladies glubbin about over here
KANAYA: Nothing I Was Just Leaving
MEENAH: oh yeah where to
MEENAH: back into your meteor right cause thats where im headed
MEENAH: cant get through the door tho
MEENAH: can i get your password
KANAYA: Pardon Me
MEENAH: come on
PORRIM: Meenah, what are yo+u do+ing? Do+n’t hassle her fo+r private info+rmatio+n. It’s rude.
MEENAH: im being nice about it
KANAYA: Are You Actually
MEENAH: im fuckin smiling aint i???
KANAYA: Well I Was Going In There Anyway
KANAYA: I Wont Give You My Password But You Can Follow Me I Guess
KANAYA: But You Can Only Remain As Long As Im Escorting You
MEENAH: da fuck
KANAYA: Because I Dont Trust You
MEENAH: aw man
MEENAH: but im cool
MEENAH: you should wise the fuck up and start thinking im cool
KANAYA: Youre Right With A Sales Pitch Like That I Would Have To Be An Imbecile Not To Crave Your Company
 #Human Sarcasm
MEENAH: what you got against me maryam clone
KANAYA: I Think Youre Probably A Sociopath
KANAYA: Ive Given Enough Of My Time To Such Characters In The Past

You know what I’m in the mood for right now? Some good, fresh Kanayanalysis. I haven’t analyzed Kanaya very much in these blog posts, not the way I have with characters like Vriska.

The deal with Kanaya is that she’s very particular about who she does and doesn’t trust. It all started with back in the trolls’ arc, when she had a crush on Vriska or something and believed the best from her, only to find that she used her lovingly crafted fairy outfit to aggressively seduce Tavros. Since then, she’s vowed not to trust people who may come off as haughty, though she often ends up falling into traps regardless. This pattern is shown here when Kanaya immediately distrusts Meenah and deems her to be a sociopath—keep that in mind when she talks to Rose later in this walkaround. In Act 5 Act 2 she steered clear of the trust trap as Rose descended into grimdarkness and ended the act preferring to talk to Jade, but through Act 6 she’s been starting to trust Rose once again, which makes their relationship go in a less than ideal direction. I still think it would be kind of cool if some pre-retcon versions of Rose and Kanaya had a proper reconciliation? Or an official breakup or something.

Playing as Kanaya with Meenah following behind, you can explore a bit of the trolls’ meteor and oh boy is this a fun throwback. Brings back good memories of the Act 5 Act 2 walkarounds. This whole second half of Openbound Part 3 is a really cool successor to the troll walkarounds we had then.

I like to think Karkat doesn’t sleep much, but when he does he sleeps HARD. Would explain how he’s sleeping on this horn pile.

In a room up north, you can find Karkat sleeping on a pile of horns, possibly with another person nearby depending on who you’re playing as.

> Examine snoring Karkat.

MEENAH: !!!!!

Hey, it’s your newly recruited Grand Threshecutioner! Looks like he hasn’t woken up from the same nap he was having last time you talked to him. The guy must have been really tired.

Why’s he sleeping in this massive pile of horns? That can’t be too comfortable. Maybe you should wake him up. Then as long as he’s awake, might as well see if he’s ready to pack his bags and head off to war.

Hold on. Maryam is eying you suspiciously. She isn’t on to your plan, is she? How could she know? This girl is really cramping your style. You’d try to shake her loose, but as a rainbow drinker she seems to have an absolutely insane fastness attribute.

KANAYA: Whatever Youre Thinking Dont Even Try It
MEENAH: what!!!
MEENAH: wasnt thinkin nofin
KANAYA: Lets Keep Moving

More of Kanaya heavily distrusting Meenah. I feel really bad for Meenah here; it’s not like she’d cause any harm trying to wake Karkat up. He already said he wouldn’t join Meenah’s army until after the meteor arrives in the alpha session.

Note the flasks of alcohol on the tables. A hint at something rather unfortunate that’s about to happen.

In the middle of the room, you can talk to Rose and Dave in whatever order you want. I’m going to start with Rose; it only makes sense for Kanaya to talk to her first.

> Kanaya, talk to Rose

ROSE: What happened!
ROSE: You’re not glowing anymore!
KANAYA: Oh Right
KANAYA: I Became So Absorbed In A Conversation With My Ancestor I Already Forgot She Taught Me How To
KANAYA: Switch Off
ROSE: Oh, so you did go talk to her?
ROSE: That’s great! How did it go?
KANAYA: Very Well
KANAYA: She Is Very Nice And As A Person Is As Impressive As I Was Imagining Her To Be
KANAYA: But Not Nearly As Intimidating Really
ROSE: I knew you wouldn’t regret it if you got up the nerve to talk to her.

This Rose/Kanaya conversation is extremely super shippy so far. Flirty Rose is all the way back in action, this time to her actual love interest and not Meenah.

ROSE: What did she say, besides a few vampire-to-vampire skin-dimming pointers?
KANAYA: Many Things
KANAYA: Primarily Encouraging Me To Pursue My Prior Obligation To My People
KANAYA: She Said She Used To Eschew Her Role Rather Vehemently
KANAYA: The Duties Of Our Caste Were Quite Limiting In Both Worlds It Seems
KANAYA: So She Renounced Them Completely And Wanted A Different Life
KANAYA: But She Also Said Something To The Effect That
KANAYA: She Found That It Wasnt Really Necessary To Reject That Role Completely
KANAYA: And The Same Is True For Me
KANAYA: As Long As I Know Within That I Am Free
KANAYA: And If My Decision Is To Embrace My Path Then It Can Be A Source Of Strength
ROSE: Then you want to try to restore your race again?
ROSE: I had begun to think you’d lost hope in that possibility.
KANAYA: Its True Theres No Orb Anymore
KANAYA: She Said It May Be Very Difficult
KANAYA: But Theres No Hope If I Dont Try
ROSE: That’s true.
KANAYA: I Dont Know How Im Going To Do It Yet
KANAYA: But Such Is The Nature Of Adventures
KANAYA: You Cant Be Scared Of Adventures
KANAYA: I Think Im Excited About It Now

It’s a good thing Kanaya mentioned her interactions with Porrim after the retcon, because it means we can assume her post-retcon self’s interactions with Porrim went basically the same as how Kanaya describes here. More specifically, it means that Porrim played a part in getting Kanaya so excited to hatch the matriorb that she wanted to do it herself after jumping forward 5000 years, and that Porrim played an indirect part in the huge troll political crisis.

ROSE: I can tell.
ROSE: We can work on it together when we arrive. Maybe the session we’re about to explore will offer some answers.
ROSE: Hey,
ROSE: You aren’t permanently de-glowed now, are you?
KANAYA: Oh No I Can Flip It Back On
KANAYA: Turns Out Its Just
KANAYA: A Silly Biological Parlor Trick
ROSE: Oh, good. You had me worried there for a moment.
KANAYA: I Know How You Enjoy A Good Source Of Light
ROSE: Light is one of my favorite things.
ROSE: Please don’t take these as fighting words, but my aspect is simply the best there is.

More flirty Rose. She’s quite blatantly in love with Kanaya—laying romance a bit thick is something she has in common with Roxy.

> Kanaya, talk to Dave

DAVE: sup
DAVE: wait whats going on
DAVE: is the meteor passing through another dream bubble
KANAYA: Hence The Ghost Who Is Following Me
DAVE: oh
DAVE: hey

DAVE: what you dont talk now?
DAVE: you were pretty spunky before what happened
KANAYA: She Is Exhibiting Her Best Behavior While On This Tour
KANAYA: Shes Actually Doing Very Well So Far
DAVE: ok whatever
DAVE: so what are we just not even bothering to care anymore when we pass through dream bubbles now
DAVE: like no warning or alert or getting into our facetious battle stations or anything
DAVE: eh who cares actually
DAVE: i probably wont even leave the room this time
DAVE: getting a little bored of ghosts actually
DAVE: no offense sea troll
MEENAH: (hornless dirtscraper)

Doesn’t seem like Meenah is interested in anyone in the meteor other than Karkat. I feel bad for Meenah, Kanaya really seems to see the worst in her just because she’s a genetic clone of the Condesce.

KANAYA: So What Were You Just Mumbling Over Here Before I Interrupted You
DAVE: oh just some raps
DAVE: been working on my raps
DAVE: youve heard my raps right
DAVE: want to hear some raps
DAVE: wait do you know what rap is
DAVE: its this fly human tradition where you drop a beat and talk hard
DAVE: if the flow checks out and your rhymes are dope enough then the police start unholstering their guns
DAVE: they cant help it its like reflexive
DAVE: thats how you know youre doing it right
KANAYA: I Know What Your Raps Are Theyre Basically The Same As The Ancient Artform Of Alternian Slam Poetry
KANAYA: But More Primitive And Generally Involving Less Lyrics About Towering Muscular Livestock
DAVE: slam poetry
DAVE: why didnt you tell me about this
KANAYA: I Dont Know I Dont Really Have Much Interest In The Subject
DAVE: yeah but
DAVE: it should have come up
DAVE: wait now that i think about it
DAVE: i remember some weird troll was rapping at me once
KANAYA: Well There You Go
DAVE: but i mean we could have been talking about rap all this time
DAVE: you and me i mean
DAVE: it would have come up i think if we talked more

It’s pretty funny to learn in retrospect that Equius’s rapping about horses was par for the course by troll standards. It makes a lot of sense, actually—Equius was always far more ingrained in traditional Alternian ways than the rest of the trolls.

DAVE: kanaya we should talk more we dont really talk enough
DAVE: like really just
DAVE: get down to fucking business
DAVE: just the two of us
DAVE: all conversationally and such
DAVE: really like
DAVE: flesh out this dynamic
DAVE: see whats THERE
DAVE: we goddamn WILL squeeze blood from this stone
DAVE: this awkwardly quiet ghost troll as my witness
KANAYA: If You Are Successful In Extracting Blood From The Geological Material In Question Can I Have It
DAVE: aw man
DAVE: kinda semi self deprecating vampire jokes this is a good start i like it
KANAYA: I Dont Know How Sincere Youre Being Dave
KANAYA: Probably Only Somewhat Since The Rule Is That Everything Has To Be At Least Partially A Joke Right
DAVE: yes exactly
KANAYA: But If You Actually Want To Converse And Exchange Views On Our Respective Cultures Then Okay I Guess Thats Fine
KANAYA: I Might Be Able To Dig Up Some Classic Texts By Some Famous Slam Poets
DAVE: oh man yes
DAVE: that would be so fucking perfect
KANAYA: Ok I Will See What I Can Do

Dave and Kanaya’s dynamic is extremely underrated, as Dave himself just pointed out. I liked seeing them converse again in the epilogues, where Dave enthusiastically treats Kanaya like the sister-in-law she technically is to him while Kanaya is deadpan as usual.

DAVE: youll have to read the troll gibberish to me
DAVE: itll be just like storytime with karkat
DAVE: kanaya edition
KANAYA: Heh Sure
DAVE: but youll have to rap the words
DAVE: pump up the bass and slaughter the mic
DAVE: i want to goddamn FEEL that slam poetry
KANAYA: Is It Too Late To Back Out Of This

Here’s our first hint that Dave and Karkat’s extreme vitriol has cooled off since we last saw them. There’s a funny scene coming up where I’ll discuss their dynamic in more detail and reevaluate my stance on their friends-to-lovers plot.

Done with Kanaya’s dialogue options. Let’s be Rose and go through all of her dialogue options.

> Rose, talk to Kanaya

ROSE: Not to harp on the issue, but,
ROSE: Now that you can switch on and off, so to speak, how often do you think you’ll resort to phosphorescence?
KANAYA: I Dont Know
KANAYA: What Do You Think
ROSE: Well, which state is more comfortable?
KANAYA: I Could Go Either Way
KANAYA: Ill Probably Switch On If Im Walking Through A Dark Corridor
KANAYA: Now That I Think About It
KANAYA: Its Been A Long Time Since I Could Even Be In The Dark
KANAYA: Maybe Ill Leave It Off For A While And Refamiliarize Myself With The Experience Of Nonillumination
ROSE: Makes sense.
ROSE: Was this a biological feature common to other trolls?
ROSE: I’m sorry. I’m really pestering you about this, aren’t I?
ROSE: We’ve never talked about it. I guess I was trying to be polite, but I’ve been really curious about it.
KANAYA: No Thats Ok
KANAYA: Im Told Its A Trait Confined To Those Of My Caste
KANAYA: They Tended To Spend A Lot Of Time In The Brooding Caverns Where A Convenient Source Of Light Was Often Handy
KANAYA: That Part Of It Makes Sense To Me But I Have No Idea What The Evolutionary Purpose Was For The Sort Of Thirst Which Accompanies This Perk
KANAYA: Strikes Me As An Odd Liability But What Do I Know
ROSE: Maybe to frighten predators away from innocent grubs?
KANAYA: Or Perhaps It Was A Measured Defect Imposed On Us
KANAYA: To Keep The Auxiliatrices On A Short Leash
ROSE: I’ll agree with that assessment, on the grounds that I’ve always been a sucker for a good conspiracy theory.

More shippy interactions. I think speculation on the comic’s mysteries makes for a great shippy conversation topic. Roxy and John did it quite a bit near the end of Act 6, as did many other popularly shipped pairs.

KANAYA: The Condition Was Often Glamorized In Certain Works Of Literature
KANAYA: But Theres Really Nothing That Great About It
KANAYA: Not Nearly As Useful As Other Abilities Like The Psychic Gifts Which Some Lowbloods Are Predisposed To
KANAYA: Though I Guess Its Pretty Useful If You Want To Keep The Plans You Made After Someone Punches A Hole Through Your Gut
ROSE: I can see how that could present a whole world of convenience.
ROSE: Speaking of plans, doing anything later?
KANAYA: Not Really
ROSE: I’m working on some stuff right now, but later, maybe once you’re finished escorting your guest around, would you like to do something?
KANAYA: Anything In Particular That You Have In Mind
ROSE: Not really. Just to hang out. If you’re up for it!
KANAYA: Yeah That Sounds Okay
MEENAH: (holy mackerel get a fuckin room)

Meenah is of course unamused. Can’t say I blame her.

> Rose, talk to Dave

DAVE: whats up with the fish punk troll following kanaya around
ROSE: Seems she’s passing through. Kanaya doesn’t want her to cause trouble.
DAVE: cause trouble
DAVE: what the fuck could she even do here
DAVE: like kick over an old pile of garbage and cause the property value to fall even lower than jack shit
DAVE: i say let her go nuts
ROSE: Feel free to take it up with Kanaya.

I agree with Dave here. Rose is starting to do whatever Kanaya wants her to do just a bit too faithfully, which again seems to be a pattern among Lalondes and their respective love interests.

ROSE: But if you authorize her to flip a bitch, just make sure she’s nowhere near my chemistry table. 
DAVE: yeah
DAVE: cant be droppin your vials and shit all over the floor
DAVE: the only one whos got clearance to drop science is me
ROSE: Dork.
DAVE: dont even hate
DAVE: been shoring up my muthafuckin CRAFT over here
ROSE: I know. I’ve been in the same room, right over there, listening to you mumble lyrics to yourself for the last couple hours.

Here we get quite a few hints that Rose is about to become an alcoholic, which you probably won’t notice because you’re too busy laughing at the absolute treasure that is all of Dave and Rose’s interactions.

DAVE: rose you know what sucks
ROSE: Yes.
ROSE: To which sucky thing are you referring?
DAVE: it kinda just occurred to me
DAVE: while i was spitting ill verse to no end
DAVE: i got this weird feeling that i might be getting like
DAVE: a little dated?
ROSE: Is this about Terezi?
DAVE: what
DAVE: no no
DAVE: dont be disingenuous word girl you know what im saying
DAVE: i mean sorta passe
DAVE: like a lumbering pop reference dinosaur
DAVE: remember we are both kind of stuck in 2009
DAVE: so im like popculturally frozen in that period
DAVE: all my references feel like they might be getting a little stale
DAVE: even though the earth ended and all and there was no culture after that point anyway
DAVE: but still
DAVE: i can feel it
DAVE: like in my bones
DAVE: i just know on some hypothetical earth that kept going my shit is starting to get so lame
DAVE: and i know it doesnt matter because its just us here so who cares
DAVE: but i care
DAVE: its a matter of integrity i am a fucking artist

Oh hey, I’m finally at the part where Dave talks about being frozen in 2009. I really love this whole ramble. It’s interesting in a metafictional way because it’s kind of Hussie’s way of lamenting that he can’t make references to pop culture post-2009 in the beta kids’ storyline.

DAVE: like i think if i make one more rap about like some fucking dane cook movie from 2008 to piss karkat off or some tired bullshit like that im going to 
DAVE: i dont know
DAVE: ill just start feeling like a fraud

Dave’s relationship with Karkat is starting to parallel his relationship with John. In both cases, he constantly makes fun of his friend’s favorite movies but in a way that makes it obvious he, too, enjoys them on some level. You could argue that the only reason Dave and John’s dynamic didn’t go in the same direction as Dave and Karkat’s is because John is not a homosexual.

If you’re reading my blog posts in chronological order and wonder why my stance on Davekat (there’s no reason for me not to call it that anymore, the name is used multiple times in the epilogues) is different now, first off, good job. I’m proud of you for managing to read all these stupid posts. Second, you’ll see the reason why soon enough.

DAVE: my game might be drying up rose
DAVE: but its not my fault like im totally hostage to this freezedried backlog of cultural garbage that can never move forward again
DAVE: so i have to pick through it like im looting a fucking tomb while still all tryin to act RAP SASSY
DAVE: like YEAH take THAT motherfuckers
DAVE: all in your mass graves somewhere in a dead frogiverse
DAVE: i be representing some god damn STANDARDS about your media do you feel me
DAVE: im depressing myself here
DAVE: all im saying is it would be cool to have some fresh shit to work with
DAVE: like just to know
DAVE: to know what the world would be like in the year it would be for us now
DAVE: which would be 2011 i guess
DAVE: wow 2011 really
DAVE: damn
DAVE: i just want to know what would have happened
DAVE: theres so much shit we were primed for
DAVE: it was gonna be exciting
DAVE: like barack obama just turned president remember that
DAVE: we never got to see if he fixed the economy
DAVE: remember how you were dying to see if he would fix the economy you were asking me about it every damn day
DAVE: just joking nobody gave a shit about that

I can’t overstate how much I love Dave’s obsession with Obama. By “nobody gave a shit about that”, he clearly means none of his friends gave a shit and he’s lamenting that he could never talk to any of them about how great Obama was. He loves Obama so much that he won’t just accept knowing how his presidency went after the scratch, and rather started formulating theories that Obama played a secret session of Sburb and ascended to god tier. I can’t believe he turned out to be right about those theories, almost as much as I can’t get over how Obama is implied to have dated pre-scratch Dirk at one point.

DAVE: but like
DAVE: i never got to check out the next batch of stiller jams and see how bad i could mock them

Don’t worry, Dave. On the other side of the scratch you made the next batch of Stiller jams.

DAVE: we never got to find out how the midnight crew adventure ended
DAVE: if ever

Even if you consider the Midnight Crew intermission to be the full version of the Midnight Crew adventure, this statement is probably still true. Karkat never says anything about what his Jack Noir went up to after being exiled; Vriska after the retcon presumes Spades Slick went through an unbelievable amount of stupid nonsense before arriving at the B2 session. I still can’t believe Collide so brutally killed off a fan favorite character.

2021 EDIT: An additional observation I’d like to point out is that Dave’s line “if ever” seems self-deprecatory on Hussie’s part. Back then, it’s quite clear that he felt he was nowhere close to done with Homestuck, and he was well aware of how carried away he got with it.

DAVE: rose
DAVE: what the fuck man
DAVE: whyd you go back to your bottles and shit i was right in the thick of hella elocution
DAVE: dont give me that
DAVE: yes
DAVE: uh yeah
DAVE: yes i do ACTUALLY want you to come back over here
DAVE: im waiting
ROSE: Fine. Here I am.
DAVE: wow was that so hard
DAVE: this is what civilized people do rose they fucking talk to each other like actually in each others fucking vicinities
ROSE: You just have a tendency to go on for a while. I assumed we progressed to the traditional mumbling monologue stage of Striderian discourse.
DAVE: no thats not even a thing
DAVE: i was actually like
DAVE: trying to get your take

Rose, why would you do that??? Walking away in the middle of a fascinating soliloquy was so rude of you. At least let Dave have the illusion that he isn’t talking to nobody.

ROSE: Take on what.
DAVE: i dont even know
DAVE: i bet john would have stuff to say
DAVE: hes probably going through the same frozen fucking caveman from 2009 syndrome as me
DAVE: actually what am i saying the dude is a caveman from 1997 
DAVE: hahaha like he could give a shit as long as hes got his cage dvds

I said something about this passage in a post from years ago. I’ll quote it again, why not:

I just love how even after gaining mighty airbender powers, talking to aliens from a warrior race, and learning that he is (kind of) his own grandfather, he is still a doofus who is obsessed with 90’s movies. […] At the start of the comic, Hussie decided to make John like movies from the 90’s simply because that was the era where he was the most tuned in to pop culture. However, later that interest became a serious part of John’s character, as a nerdy kid who’s all about random old movies rather than what’s going on now in pop culture, or as Dave put it, a caveman from 1997.

I talked about this theme of one-offs becoming full character traits a lot in my rewritten posts about the early acts, which are currently on hiatus because I’m now focusing once more on this actual project I started almost four years ago. This is a case where the one-off traits made up on the spot are revisited and shown to be serious parts of the beta kids’ characters. It’s also some pretty great dramatic irony if you ask me—Dave doesn’t know that being lonely on the battleship did strange things to John’s mind and now he doesn’t like Con Air anymore.

ROSE: Oh! I saw him the other night.
DAVE: what
ROSE: In a dream. It was very brief, only a few minutes. I waved to him and then woke up.
DAVE: whoa what was he doing
ROSE: He was fighting Jack. Actually, he was doing quite well!
DAVE: oh man
DAVE: you have to tell me all about this
ROSE: I will. Later, though. I’d like to get back to work.
DAVE: ok when
DAVE: tonight?
ROSE: I have plans tonight. How about tomorrow.
DAVE: plans 
DAVE: what plans
ROSE: Just some plans.
DAVE: can i come
DAVE: fuck fine
DAVE: tomorrow then
DAVE: maybe ill just dream up my own john tonight and well have an awesome time without you what do you think about that

DAVE: fu

Rose, can you please go back to not trying your hardest to impress a troll girl who already loves you dearly? Don’t pretend you miss John any less than Dave does.

It’s been a long time, Gamzee.

If you go to the room up north as Rose, you’ll encounter Gamzee next to the sleeping Karkat. Rose’s brief conversation with Gamzee in this walkaround is the longest speaking scene he has in Act 6.

> Rose, talk to Gamzee

ROSE: You better not let Kanaya find you in here.
ROSE: She still hates you, you know.
ROSE: And not in “that way.” I think she still truly would like to kill you.
GAMZEE: yeah, i all up and motherfuckin know that already.
ROSE: I’ve wondered, doesn’t it ever get confusing? Trying to differentiate between platonic, malicious intent, and gestures of black romance?
GAMZEE: like i’d even give a dayglow chainsaw bitch like that on my time of day up in any quadrant.

Rose knows surprisingly little about quadrants after spending two years on the meteor. I guess this is meant to lead up to Rose’s excitement at the prospect of Kanaya teaching her about troll romance.

GAMZEE: been dating somebody in the motherfuckin shadows. getting pretty nasty between us. all experiencing the shit out of the dark miracle called hatebliss. 
ROSE: Wait, really?
ROSE: Who?




Rose sports a neutral expression asking if it’s Karkat, snickers asking if it’s Dave, and looks disquieted asking if it’s the Mayor. Her expression when asking if it’s Dave is interesting to me; it shows that she finds the idea of Dave and Gamzee hate-dating completely ridiculous, which means she knows Dave well enough that he’d never even think of dating the juggalo troll.

ROSE: Wait…
ROSE: Terezi?
ROSE: Are you serious?
GAMZEE: do i mother fucking look like i’d motherfuckin joke around with a mother fucker?
ROSE: I can’t even parse that relationship as something meaningful.
ROSE: What…
GAMZEE: mother fucker.
GAMZEE: but doesn’t quite hate me enough to want to kill me. :o)
ROSE: This is a really startling revelation, I must say.
ROSE: It’s a game changer.

Surprise ship reveal, and I do mean surprise. Gamzee x Terezi blackways is indeed quite the game changer. It’s rather suspicious how little screen time Terezi gets in this intermission when she’s always been so outgoing and goofy, and the reveal that she’s hate dating Gamzee makes it even more suspicious. How is it even possible for her to fall in hate with this murderous clown instead of just wanting to kill him in the name of justice? Something strange must have happened to Terezi—we don’t find out what it is until Act 6 Intermission 5 and it’s a HUGE shocker.

GAMZEE: please don’t all tell at this noise to anyone.
GAMZEE: he actually would want to kill me. :o(

Arguably the strangest part of it all is that despite everything, Gamzee still cares about Karkat. It’s kind of heartwarming to see Gamzee still treats Karkat as a dear friend, but also unsettling if you consider he’s the only one Gamzee still sees as a friend. This is kind of a weird intermediate phase between pre-flipout Gamzee and plot-armored Gamzee.

ROSE: Yes, I can see the dilemma you’re in.
ROSE: Your social dynamics really begin to get complicated once your quadrants start to fill up, don’t they?
ROSE: Don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me.
ROSE: Now shoo. Back into the ventilation system with you, before you’re spotted.

Rose doesn’t tell Gamzee that she’s going to tell all this to Kanaya, who she sees as a confidant she can tell absolutely anything. She doesn’t want to keep any secrets from Kanaya, which will later bite both of them in the ass.

Let’s go back to the other room. Time to, at long last, be Dave.

> Dave, talk to Kanaya

DAVE: (you shattered the ring but theres more cracks in your rap)
DAVE: (ima top off your glass cause devastations on tap)
DAVE: (wait no)
DAVE: (your act couldnt suck more dick with a puppet in your lap)
DAVE: (what)
DAVE: (puppet… man where that come from)
DAVE: (you shattered the ring but theres more cracks in your rap)
DAVE: (your flows like warm milk that goes good with a nap)
DAVE: (haha yes)
DAVE: (shit lets be rails ill be the shoosh to your pap)
DAVE: (wait that makes no fuckin sense)
DAVE: (naw ill stick with the milk one)
DAVE: (yall claimin to be the lord of time)
DAVE: (all ya makin me feel is bored with your rhymes)
DAVE: (thats ok i guess)
DAVE: (still feel like i should work puppets into this)
DAVE: (no idea why)
DAVE: (what rhymes with puppets)
DAVE: (uh)
DAVE: (smuppets)
DAVE: (dave no thats the same fuckin thing)
DAVE: (muppets)
DAVE: (what the fuck)
DAVE: (the only thing that rhymes with puppets is different kinds of puppets!!!)
DAVE: whoa
DAVE: hey uh
DAVE: how much of that did you hear
KANAYA: By The Tenor Of The Question Ill Assume More Than You Would Prefer

When rapping, Dave leaks out that two years after his guardian’s death, he still thinks about puppets way too often. This isn’t the first time in Act 6 where we learn that living with a puppet lunatic for thirteen years did quite a number on his sanity.

DAVE: all that shit was a work in progress
DAVE: aint fit for hype yet
DAVE: why you gotta be eavesdroppin
KANAYA: I Was Just Standing Here And You Slowly Wandered Over In A Totally Oblivious Stupor
KANAYA: You Were Mumbling Your Rhymes And Walked Right Up To Me And Did Not Notice Me Until Now
DAVE: shit
DAVE: was i
DAVE: sorry i guess i just got caught up in my raps
MEENAH: do more!
DAVE: what
DAVE: no
DAVE: i cant those rhymes are still too rough around the edges
MEENAH: come on
DAVE: no itll suck
DAVE: i mean
DAVE: i could freestyle a bit i guess
DAVE: i dont know if i got a live performance in me now
DAVE: maybe it could work if someone dropped a beat
DAVE: need a good beat i could probably kill it with a fly beat
MEENAH: aheh hem…
MEENAH: dum dum PS)( ba dum dum PS)(
 #no wait wait…
MEENAH: chum chum FIS)( ba chum chum FIS)(
DAVE: awwwww yeah
DAVE: that fish beat is the shizzle
DAVE: thats what i am TALKING about
DAVE: alright settle down motherfuckers here we go 
KANAYA: They Then Proceeded To Have One Of The Most Ambiguously Rated Rap Offs In The History Of Paradox Space While I Stood By And Regarded It Neutrally

I’d have loved to read Dave and Meenah’s rap-off, dammit. Why does Hussie have to prefer writing bad rapping over good rapping???

> Dave, talk to Rose

DAVE: rose quit all the clanking around over here i cant concentrate on my raps
DAVE: what in the sweet religious name of jesus h dick are you doing with all these bottles
ROSE: Just a little alchemy.
DAVE: alchemy
DAVE: what kind of shitty thing are you alchemizing with this crap
DAVE: are you alchemizing bottles with other bottles to make like
DAVE: superbottles
ROSE: No. Believe it or not, I’m actually focused the contents of the bottles.
DAVE: youre a pretty good hike from the alchemiters
ROSE: The alchemy I’m practicing is a little more old fashioned.
ROSE: You know, there was a time on Earth when alchemy didn’t refer to a process whereby a large device used game constructs to materialize some idealized version of an object out of thin air.
ROSE: Alchemists used to experiment with various substances to transmute them into something more valuable.
ROSE: Its more pedestrian and scientifically credible cousin would be chemistry, which I guess is the technical term for mixing shit together.
ROSE: Which strictly speaking more accurately describes what I’m doing.
DAVE: so what your doing science now
DAVE: who do you think you are your mom

Here we have even more motherly grief buried under a layer of Dave/Rose humor. Dave jokes that Rose is trying to imitate her mother, not knowing that she actually is trying to connect to her dead guardian.

DAVE: wait that sounded like lame burn again
DAVE: every time i talk about your mom it sounds like a burn
DAVE: who do you think you are my mom
DAVE: wait scratch that
DAVE: every time we start talking about her as my mom things just start snowballing down our dumb conversational ski slope and suddenly sigmund freud and king oedipus start banging each others hot moms at some kind of depraved sexy momswap party
ROSE: Thanks for the imagery. It was almost as graphic as it made no sense.

Dave then derails the conversation further by talking about the hot mom running gag completely unprompted. This helps further obfuscate some depressing stuff about Rose we’re about to see in full light.

DAVE: so what are you making
ROSE: Beverages.
DAVE: beverages what kind of beverages
ROSE: Tasty beverages, I hope.
DAVE: apple juice???
DAVE: please let it be aj please let it be aj please let it be aj 
ROSE: I’ll see what I can do.
DAVE: omg
DAVE: omg
DAVE: fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck yes

I wish Rose had listened to Dave and learned to make apple juice instead of alcohol. That would have been a mutually fulfilling treat.

If you go to the room up north as Dave, you’ll encounter Karkat’s dream phantom right next to his sleeping body. As promised, I am now going to talk about Dave and Karkat as a ship.

Dave x Karkat has been a controversial ship ever since it was introduced arguably out of nowhere after the retcon that brought Vriska back. I absolutely hated that ship back in the day. I found it to be the most forced thing ever and didn’t like that we didn’t see it demonstrated aside from visuals in Vriskagram and characters talking about how they are maybe a thing. When others pointed out that Dave and Karkat’s interactions before the retcon are arguably shippy, I vehemently denied any of that and also denied many accusations of being homophobic.

But all this flipped on its head when the Homestuck Epilogues came out. The epilogues are a tale of redemption arcs, and I’m not talking about Gamzee’s extremely farcical and stupid “redemption arc”. Many controversial things about the late comic were completely redeemed for me and many other fans, including arguably the two biggest: (1) Vriska and (2) Dave and Karkat’s relationship. In the epilogues, Dave and Karkat show a strong relationship with clear romantic tension that goes in different directions depending what choice John makes at the start. It’s heartening to see Dave encourage Karkat to run for president, incredibly satisfying when they finally kiss in Meat, and incredibly devastating when Karkat breaks up with him and Jade in Candy. All this made me think back to A6A6I5 and I realized that the reason Dave x Karkat felt so wrong then was simply because the tone of that act is kind of “off” compared to the rest of Homestuck, and because we didn’t see much of that ship in action aside from visuals. The Davekat Redemption Arc is an absolute piece of beauty that makes their pre-retcon interactions seem much more shippy in retrospect. I fully admit that my denial of them as a ship in prior years was largely a result of heteronormativity (which is another thing I denied back then), but I can’t say it wasn’t also partly a result of bad storytelling. But who cares about any of that anymore, this ship is redeemed now.

> Dave, talk to Karkat

DAVE: what
DAVE: huh
DAVE: uh
DAVE: what
DAVE: no

This is one of many bits I denied back in the day could come off as ship teasing. I somehow managed to convince myself that this couldn’t reasonably be interpreted as shippy, just as I convinced myself it wasn’t possible for them as a ship to be presented well. I have a tendency to convince myself of things that I deep down know are false.

DAVE: no fuck you
DAVE: im not caressing your dream hologram

Romantically or not, I don’t think anyone can deny that Dave and Karkat’s dynamic is absolute gold. They’re a perfect pair of characters to metafictionally tackle (or rather, fail to tackle) the concept of nonsensical dream logic.

DAVE: you look really tired man
DAVE: your sleep phantom should curl up with your napping meat torso in the horn pile and try to score some shuteye
DAVE: ok
DAVE: hop to it
DAVE: man
DAVE: our conversations can be so embarrassing
DAVE: im so glad we manage to have most of them in private

The end of this conversation is pretty heartening. It brings back memories of Karkat’s vitriolic interactions with his troll friends, especially Sollux—I probably would have left it at that had I gotten to this scene before the epilogues came out. In retrospect, this scene comes off as the first seed planted for Dave and Karkat’s more positive dynamic and arguably their romantic tension.

That’s it for the dialogue options in the meteor. Time to proceed to Aranea’s exposition booth.

No Charlie Brown gag this time.

Character recap time!

  • Rufioh Nitram is an homage to Dante Basco and probably a joke character.
  • Horuss Zahhak is even worse than a joke character because nobody remembers a damn thing about him.
  • Damara Megido is mostly a joke character, but she’s the most plot-relevant of the ten trolls we meet in this walkaround.

> Status report.

MEENAH: welp
MEENAH: im a total failure
MEENAH: didnt recruit a single ghost for my army
MEENAH: except for one guy but he was asleep
ARANEA: Don’t lose hope! I know our group of friends is a 8it lackluster in the motivation department, 8ut there are plenty of other souls out there.
ARANEA: You just need to find someone with the right amount of moxy to get you started. Then I’m sure more will follow.
ARANEA: Who knows, if you keep exploring, may8e someone like that will 8e right around the corner!
MEENAH: you seem more psyched about my army plan than you did before
MEENAH: whats with the change of tuna
ARANEA: I’ve started to 8elieve that what you’re doing may 8e important. Just a feeling.
ARANEA: It could 8e every 8it as critical as my quest to find the cheru8. I think it all could 8e related. Like legs of a stool that won’t stand unless all are in place.
 #Or, prongs of a fork, if you will.
MEENAH: how is cherubquest goin btw
ARANEA: Uh… ok.
ARANEA: I’ve still 8een…….. a little preoccupied.

Do you ever start a school project that you think is going to be really exciting and whose subject you chose yourself, but it turns out to be a boring slog and you start trying to justify what you’ve been doing to distract yourself from that project? This is how Aranea probably feels right now.

MEENAH: girl please
MEENAH: you been draggin your talking booth around to hassle people with facts aintcha
ARANEA: This is my last session, I swear!!!!!!!!
ARANEA: After this, I promised myself I would retire the exposition stand for good. May8e I’ll put it up for sale, and try to recoup some of the su8stantial losses required to operate it.
MEENAH: aranea we are such failures at stuff together
MEENAH: why are we such a couple of gorgeous and sexy failures at things
ARANEA: I don’t know, 8ut we can’t give up!
ARANEA: Once I close down shop here, I will redou8le my efforts to find that cheru8.
ARANEA: The first thing to do will 8e to figure out her name. It’s 8een so maddeningly elusive, almost as if someone’s taken care to scru8 any reference to it throughout paradox space, whether in memories or reality.

Aranea quite clearly doesn’t even know where to begin on the cherubquest. She’s decided to start with finding out the cherub’s name, which sounds like something she should know already? This is even more of her being stuck on the cherubquest because she doesn’t really want to do it.

> Tell me about Rufioh Nitram.

ARANEA: The Rogue of 8reath was always a very popular mem8er of our group. Pro8a8ly the most popular, I’d say. Sort of the anti-me, in that respect. Ever the recipient of romantic solicitations whichever way he turned. Sort of the anti-Cronus, in that respect.
MEENAH: aw yeah sick ampora burn outta nowhere hi 5
ARANEA: Indeed. His mutation made him an outcast, though. To avoid the unwanted attention his wings would 8ring him, he took refuge in the forest among those who welcomed his differences, and learned their ways.
ARANEA: The Lost Weea8oos was a guild of youthful tree-dwelling troll otakus with a zeal for fisticuffs, flight, and various forms of exotic eastern theater. 8ane to the enemies of hijinks, scourge to the seafaring classes who…
ARANEA: (GLUB GLUB GLUB GLUB) centuries of feuding with the Kemonomimi tri8es (GLUB GLUB GLUB LA LA LA LA GLUB GLUB GLUB) ceremonial torchlight yaoi festivals (LA LA LA LA GLUB GLUB LA LA LA) tsundere quadrant vacillation (GLUUUUUB GLUBGLUBGLUBGLUB GLUUUUUUUUUB) threw down a daggerlance to challenge the guild’s high seme for dominance (NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO) ultimately served like a shonen on Shitsuji Island.
MEENAH: hey serket
MEENAH: how much i gotta pay you to zip yer blowhole on this shit so tight you never bring it up again
ARANEA: For such a service, I will require nothing short of the large gold statue in your palace. I think you know which one I’m talking a8out.
MEENAH: you drive a hard bargain serks
MEENAH: but you got a deal

We already know basically all of Rufioh’s backstory, so all we get here is an anime gag sequence. The little bits Meenah doesn’t glub over are pretty funny, even if they don’t make the slightest bit of sense. I assume all the tribe fighting and shonen battles are nothing more than harmless imaginary roleplaying, especially knowing the Beforan trolls.

> Tell me about Horuss Zahhak.

ARANEA: The Page of Void was a self taught master of mechanics, an avid patron of the fine arts, a passionate 8ody 8uilder, archer, am8rosia collector and steamwright. A poet, a scholar, a warrior, a lover, he was all that his caste demanded and more. A true troll Renaissance man. His name means “He Who Stalks With The Muscle8easts.”
ARANEA: 8ut all of his proficiencies were hard won, 8uilt from the 8lank slate as his aspect would imply, advancing at the slow pace his class would as well. Yet in spite of all he worked to make something of himself, he amounted to very little. Responsi8le for neither great feats of heroism nor acts of villainy, he was just another game piece to 8e moved a8out the 8oard. The aspect ruling his life would always conspire to dampen his relevance.

Horuss turned out to be forgettable both in-story and out of story—he’s not even any sort of fan favorite minor character. I can’t even put it into words how forgettable he is. He’s probably the most forgotten about among the Beforan trolls—most of the others at least have something memorable about them. I hardly remembered a thing about him before starting this post and I’ll probably forget everything about him again after this post is finished.

ARANEA: Void is easily the most mysterious aspect, the one which inherently defies rational understanding. This makes it particularly fascinating, and just as frustrating, to light players such as myself. Casting illumination upon nothing itself is futile. For to truly know void is to paradoxically cause it not to 8e!
ARANEA: The role of the void player is to somehow em8race nothingness, to 8ecome one with it. And yet in total contradiction with this, to make use of the power it grants and serve a role of relevance, one must find a way to overcome it! To see the limitless potential in the void. To find everything within nothing, and 8ring it into 8eing. 
MEENAH: zzzzzzzzzzz
ARANEA: Hey!!!!!!!!
ARANEA: This is a perfect case in point, regarding the path of the void player. So resistant is his story to having a relevant 8earing on anything, you fell asleep and didnt hear a word.
MEENAH: yeah thats nice

ARANEA: You don’t get any. Your slum8er voided the transaction.

Aranea elaborates on Horuss’s irrelevance and deems him an example of a character who did not make good use of his mythological role. When devising the Beforan trolls’ characters, did Hussie have the foresight to deliberately make Horuss the least memorable of the bunch? Because if he did, then he totally succeeded.

> Tell me about Damara Megido.

ARANEA: The Witch of Time was not always the party’s 8iggest trou8lemaker. If you recall, you wore that tiara for a long time. ::::)
MEENAH: yeah yeah
ARANEA: Once she was as meek as can 8e. Hailing from the eastern provinces, she migrated across the seas and settled near the forest concealing Rufioh’s guild. The two of them 8ecame quite fond of each other, and shared many interests!
ARANEA: He secretly 8egan seeing someone else, 8elieving she knew nothing. 8ut she always suspected his infidelity, and over time grew quite distraught. 8ut her sadness never quite turned to rage and malevolence. Not until you… involved yourself. 
MEENAH: ugh do we really have to go through this
ARANEA: If you’d like to earn your money, then yes!
MEENAH: bleh fine
ARANEA: After we 8egan our game, you quickly determined that winning was going to 8e an uphill 8attle with our team. Everyone was so preoccupied with their interpersonal issues, and no one seemed in any shape to 8e fighting major 8attles. Sound familiar?
MEENAH: deja vus a bitch serk
ARANEA: So you did your 8est to rile up the crew any way you could. Appealing to peoples insecurities, 8uried hostilities, 8rewing rivalries… needling anyone you could into confrontation with others. Your theory was that increasing everyone’s state of aggression would make them 8etter equipped to play the game. And you were sort of right a8out that! 8ut the Alternians would prove it. Not our group, sadly.
ARANEA: The poor girl who took the 8runt of your 8ullying tactics was Damara Megido. You talked up her matesprit’s 8etrayal making her feel even more dreadful, while pushing him further into the arms of her rival, until she simply snapped. She attacked him, paralyzing him from the neck down. You finally got the aggressive confrontation you were looking for. Unfortunately, you unleashed something even you weren’t prepared for, and you had to deal with her yourself. After a long 8loody duel, she killed you. 

Aranea’s description of Damara’s backstory shows us Meenah isn’t so innocent either. She tried to make her teammates more Alternian, which only ended up working with one of the trolls. And boy was the outcome nasty. While most of the Beforan trolls remained the same bunch of losers throughout their session, Damara turned into a brutal killer and played the biggest part in the Beforan trolls’ actual cycle of revenge, not the one where Latula lost her sense of smell.

ARANEA: And you would have stayed dead if not for me!
ARANEA: You never listened to me. You just kept needling and fussing and meddling until eventually you paid the price, and I had to 8ail you out.

MEENAH: (arg how bad do i even want this stupid money…)

Aranea brings up a surprising moment of friendship where she says she bailed Meenah out and helped her ascend to god tier. It’s quite powerful here because it’s easy to forget Aranea was actually part of the Beforan session and not just a random exposition nerd.

ARANEA: Damara has 8een unhinged ever since. 8y increasing her violent tendencies, instead of 8eing an asset in the game, she 8ecame a loose canon, ar8itrarily showing up at key moments throughout the timeline to sa8otage us. 

Here we finally see how Damara corresponds to her dancestor. Her role in the Beforans’ session was the exact opposite of Aradia’s: while Aradia dutifully made sure through timeline management that the trolls’ session would succeed, Damara used timeline management to ensure the Beforan session’s catastrophic failure.

ARANEA: So radical was her shift in personality, I’ve had a hard time 8elieving your incitement was solely to 8lame. It always seemed like other forces were in play, as if her acts, though apparently haphazard, were in keeping with some inscruta8le agenda. Of course it doesn’t help that it’s so hard to understand her even on a good day.

This inversion of Aradia is followed by a hint at Lord English lore. After Damara’s heart was broken, she needed something new to believe in and naturally enough, she turned into a Lord English worshipper who carries out all his (really Doc Scratch’s) instructions exactly as he wanted.

ARANEA: Strangely, the only time she was eager to help us was when we were preparing to initiate the Scratch. And it’s a good thing she was, since I’m not sure anyone else would have had the a8ility to do that kind of damage to the Cardinal Movement and release its energy. 

Technically, we already knew this before we even knew Damara’s name. Looking back, that page is a good bit of foreshadowing that cleverly disguises that Damara was the unseen hand behind their session’s failure.

ARANEA: It was almost a little eerie how happily she complied with our plan. What did Rufioh say she said? Something a8out how we would all finally get what we deserved…
ARANEA: Which at the time, I thought sounded chilling. 8ut there’s really two ways of looking at it. One is how the Scratch re8ooted our world into a state of pure chaos, culminating in the annihilation of our universe. 8ut on the other hand, we all got the chance to live out our wildest fantasies as adults on Alternia! 
ARANEA: At least you and I sure did. And I wouldn’t dou8t she feels the same way.
MEENAH: we done?
ARANEA: That’s it!
MEENAH: toughest 5 bucks i ever made

Aranea interprets Damara’s ominous statement in a surprisingly positive light, in a way that shows Meenah is the only one she actually saw as a friend and the rest she probably just views as random background characters. She knows what all her teammates’ lives were like on Alternia—remember the time she told the stories of the Alternian ancestors in Meenah’s blunt style?

Meenah most definitely lived her wildest fantasies as the Condesce, that goes without saying. It’s a bit surprising Aranea feels the same way about her life as Mindfang, because it hints that Aranea is more sinister and self-important than she lets on—that is also hinted at when Aranea starts showing more interest in the ghost army plan than the cherubquest. As for Damara, that’s some tragic dramatic irony right there. She was raised by Doc Scratch and hated every second of it, then forced into millennia of slavery as English’s handmaid to make Alternia the nightmare world it was, and at the end mercifully killed by the Condesce. Why does this comic have to be so cruel???

The narration points out this journal has a lot of mature content. Kind of raises questions about Aranea, who was very happy with who her post-scratch self turned out to be.

After the exposition booth, Meemah explores some familiar dream bubble memories and finds chests containing Vriska’s possessions, like Mindfang’s journal, the Fluorite Octet, and a broken 8 ball. It’s quite nostalgic seeing so many Vriska-related things; brings back memories of the troll walkarounds in Act 5 Act 2.

After those Vriska chests comes one of the few parts of Homestuck that I actually, legitimately hate. It’s pretty much a promo for Hiveswap, which has had let’s just say a rough history. Openbound Part 3 was released in 2012, and at the time Hiveswap wasn’t named yet; it was still only known as the “Homestuck Adventure Game”. This part stings the hardest:

Some people might say this scene “aged like spoiled milk” or something. This is an absurd understatement. A better analogy would be some devilish kind of milk which smells worse the longer it’s in the fridge and doesn’t have any kind of threshold to just how bad it can smell—every year you take it out, it just smells worse and worse even when you thought its stench last time you opened it was already the worst smell you could ever experience. Can this part just be removed from Homestuck? It’s absurdly out of place.

Vriska and Terezi are so close to reuniting, as are John and Dave. That’s incredibly sad.

After a scene that has absolutely no business being in Homestuck, Openbound Part 3 ends with Meenah encountering Vriska, Tavros, and John. This concludes the Openbound trilogy and boy was it a doozy. But we’re not done yet! There’s a bit of extra content if you go to the meteor playing as Damara, so let’s go ahead and do that.

> Damara, talk to Rose

ROSE: Hello. I don’t think we’ve met.
DAMARA: [confused face]
ROSE: You seem confused. Are you lost?
ROSE: Maybe you shouldn’t be wandering around here.
ROSE: Aw. You seem so sweet.
ROSE: Please, feel free to stay as long as you like.

Damara puts up a friendly foreigner image when speaking to humans, and god damn does Rose fall for it. She’s polite as ever to the ladies.

> Damara, talk to Dave

DAVE: hey
DAVE: who the fuck are you
DAVE: dont think you belong in here 
DAVE: meh you seem harmless enough
DAVE: what do i even care
DAVE: go fuck some shit up japanese schoolgirl troll

Dave falls for the image too and thinks Damara is harmless. This is probably exactly what she was like before she became evil. Undergoing such massive shifts in personality seems to be a common trait among the Megidos.

With trolls though, Damara is nasty as ever. I wonder if Damara really is her old happy self around humans, who to her knowledge are harmless and friendly?

And Terezi echoes her dancestor’s lines about Mituna, this time much more dramatically. Damara probably didn’t help one bit with Terezi’s recent depression.

Outside the meteor, Damara encounters Hussie in the exposition booth. Apparently Aranea sold the booth to him. Hussie’s self-insert vents a bit about the real-world Hussie’s ambition with this Homestuck adventure game, and I actually do feel bad for the real Hussie in that time. Wasn’t half of the giant sum of Kickstarter money later stolen and used to fund King’s Quest or something? Hussie doesn’t let Damara talk, knowing that she’ll just say filthy things in Japanese. Instead, he offers his own commentary about each of the Beforan trolls.

Damara – Not much to say. Hussie just explains that her Japanese speech is Google translated, Damara flips him off, then Hussie apologizes and mentions character porn and Damara is confused.

Rufioh – Just a heartfelt apology to Dante Basco, an actual famous actor, for getting wrapped up in the nightmare that is the Homestuck fandom.

Mituna –

Mega Man Sollux has some problems. He falls down and stuff and talks on a 4chan background, because of 4chan. But in spite of that, he’s brave and does his best and everyone loves him. Also no one can read a damn thing he says. His quirk is the least legible of all quirks, with Damara’s coming in at a close second.

Not much to say here either. I think I agree that Mituna’s quirk is probably the only one you can never get used to reading. Even Feferi’s quirk isn’t so bad after a while.

Kankri –

Did you know: it is a Homestuck fact that 99 percent of all readers didn’t read or care about anything Kankri said. So in other words, he is exactly like all terrible social justice bloggers. Some social justice bloggers get angry at the joke that he is, but those are the terrible ones, and being terrible is why they get angry. They want to be terrible in peace without being mocked. That is what it is like to be a justified target of ridicule. You feel sad and angry all the time and you don’t know why.

99 percent of all readers isn’t 100 percent. You better believe that the MSPA wiki ate Kankri’s words up and extensively documented his mechanical descriptions of troll stuff that’s probably all in his imagination. It’s not their fault though. That’s what naturally happens with pretty much all wikis, whether you like it or not.

Kankri wears a cute red sweater and is otherwise fairly adorable. Porrim acts like his mom which is also cute as hell.

Kankri is incredibly far up his own ass but I must agree that he’s kind of adorable. Only natural when he’s so closely related to Karkat.

Meulin –

Meulin is the deaf Nepeta in this kickass smorgasbord of disabled characters. She speaks in ASL to say memes which are called mimes because it’s one letter away and therefore a play on words. But you can’t actually use ASL to say animated tumblr gifs, you can only say words. She otherwise reads lips, which is funny because her bff sewed his damn mouth shut so they just sign memes to each other all day while stoned. It is implied that they smoke catnip together, as if it were marijuana, which is an especially amusing notion to people who like drugs. Moving on??

Pretty much all the basics of her character right there. Meulin actually only uses sign language to say GIFs and otherwise speaks with her mouth. I know how sign language works and all, but it somehow seems completely natural to use it to convey memes instead.

Porrim – I got nothing here. Porrim is indeed a vampire with cool tattoos and that’s the most important thing about her.

Latula –

Latula is the gamegrl to Mituna’s gamebro. Gamebros and gamegrls aren’t really “types of people” so much as they are hollow cliches which are patronizing to multiple groups of people on multiple levels. So in other words, perfect attributes for some 1.5 dimensional NPC-caliber characters stocking a fun jrpg style walkaround game.

It’s kind of impressive just how many different groups gamebros and gamegrls rudely patronize and stereotype, as Porrim has pointed out before. That says a lot about all the work Latula has put into perfecting her rad girl act. Other than that, Hussie explains a few jokes and puns you may have missed.

Aranea – We’ve gotten to know Aranea pretty well by this point. Hussie simply says Aranea is a blabbermouth who tells flowery nonsensical stories and then complains that she charged him so much for a cardboard exposition booth.

Horuss –

This dude is just Equius on horse steroids. The end.

Honestly, this is all anyone ever needs to say about Horuss. What else is there to say or care about this guy? Fucking nothing, that’s what.

Kurloz –

He chewed off his tongue and sewed his mouth shut because he’s a weirdo in cahoots with Gamzee and English. Who even knows what they’re up to. It’s probably just a lot of stupid bullshit. Meaningless, clownish nonsense. Want to know why they’re assembling the wicked ensemble? They probably just think it’s funny. Kurloz speaks in bones when he does his clown hypnosis shit but otherwise he mimes everything because get this: he’s pretty much literally a mime.

I actually appreciate that Hussie went out of his way to say Gamzee and Kurloz’s Lord English worship is all a big joke, which further tells readers that Damara was the real plot-relevant unseen troll and Kurloz was just a nonsensical clown.

Also a juggalo. Because that’s exactly what Homestuck needed. Another fucking juggalo. Homestuck needed another juggalo like it needed…

Well, another twelve trolls I guess.

What can I say? I guess Kurloz’s character helps cement the juggalo stuff as more farcical than people probably think.

Cronus –

Cronus is the worst character in Homestuck by a nautical mile. Any questions?


Meenah –

Meenah is kind of throwing a bone to the pisces people who got stuck with Feferi. Feferi didn’t really do anything and then she died. Meenah is a cool sassy punk who has more important stuff to do than Feferi ever did. You just spent like the last three hours playing through these games from her POV so obviously you know that. You’re probably sick of fish puns by now. After a while you start running out of fish puns. You can overdo it with fish puns, much like you can overfish the ocean. You start literally running out of fucking fish. Be careful out there.

Given how Hussie treats many of his characters like absolute shit, it’s rather gracious of him to give Feferi a cooler replacement who actually does things. She’s been a fun addition to the story so far so I’d say it was worth giving Feferi a replacement.

Meenah discovered that raising and army is hard. But you know what’s really hard? What’s really hard is making games. Games disguise the effort that go into them probably like few other crafts. In order to make a game that is even slightly better than mediocre, someone probably had to die in the process. Like building pyramids. Nobody actually died while making these games though, hence they were just ok. But still if you add up all the work done collectively on these last three games, it probably was comparable to the manhours that went into [S] Cascade. You know what that is? That’s a silly ass fact.

More semi-unfiltered rants about Hiveswap development. I guess Hussie did have to vent his Hiveswap frustration somewhere; this was back when he wasn’t so reclusive on the Internet.

… And that’s the end of Openbound Part 3! Final verdict: I feel about it mostly the same way as I do about Part 1, but it’s a little weaker in a lot of ways. Damara, Rufioh, and Horuss’s backstory was neat to learn about, but felt much more self-contained which I wasn’t a fan of. The meteor part was a fun throwback but it wasn’t very long and didn’t do quite as much as I had hoped to dampen the weird feeling you get when going through this batch of joke characters for so long.

I did like Part 3 a bit more than Part 2 overall; the first half with new trolls was much more tolerable this time, but the second half with old characters wasn’t as remarkable as Part 2’s second half. I didn’t mind going through the Openbound games in this reread as much as I thought I would. The only parts that I found really annoying were the Beforan trolls’ introductions in Part 2 and Hussie’s rants about Hiveswap production.

I’ll go over the Openbound games as a collective in more detail at the next post, which will be my final Act 6 Intermission 3 post. See you next time as Rose and Kanaya finally kiss.

>> Part 91: Drunken Smooches and Costume Parties

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