Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 4, Part 7 of 8
Poor John remains eternally oblivious to how crucial that honk is.
Second last post of A6A6I4! After my next post, I’ll go on another pause (probably my last pause) as I finish my final college semester before I graduate.
Picking up where we left off, John continues his retcon journey and encounters Dragonsprite, Terezi’s lusus sprite.
DRAGONSPRITE: sniff sniff
DRAGONSPRITE: sniff sniff sniff sniff
JOHN: (hey, would you quit it!)
JOHN: (i’m trying to keep a low profile here.)
Spritelogs with the trolls’ sprites probably weren’t high on the list of things people expected to return in A6A6I4, but they return here. John’s statement about trying to keep a low profile doesn’t refer to hiding his presence from Terezi entirely, but rather returning the favor with some subtle retcon pranks of his own.
No commentary on the next instruction from John this time; he just zaps away, knowing the drill at this point. He probably isn’t surprised to read the password MURD3R because he knows plenty of the trolls murdered each other, but he still doesn’t know at this point that Terezi killed Vriska pre-retcon.
Dragonsprite knows that John isn’t as subtle as he thinks, but she’s probably wise enough to know to keep his existence a secret between her and Terezi. The two probably had a whole new swath of bonding moments they didn’t get before the troll session was retconned.
And so, the next scene John zaps into is Terezi investigating Tavros’s murder. Clearly his retcon adventures thus far didn’t cause enough changes to adjust the fates of any trolls in Murderstuck… not yet, anyway.
John’s disgusted face needs no words.
No more failed Tavros corpsesmooching. Unless she attempts it later offscreen.
John deploys the same scalemate he snatched from Terezi’s roleplaying shenanigans earlier, which is supposedly critical to the investigation. This may seem like just more scalemate pranks on the surface, but this image below suggests otherwise:
If Terezi can remember her scalemate adventures from three years ago, a month ago is nothing in comparison. She immediately recognizes the same scalemate which was mysteriously stolen and her head starts spinning about John, who she has at this point talked to plenty through Trollian.
JOHN: uh, mission accomplished i guess??
JOHN: well, scarf item number four, at least.
JOHN: there you go, terezi. your stupid plush dragon can help with your weird “investigation”, or whatever fucked up thing you’re doing there.
JOHN: thank god i changed that! we sure are making some awesome progress here…
I love how John loyally follows Terezi’s instruction and then complains about how pointless it was. John’s willingness to follow an instruction is inversely proportional to the instruction’s usefulness for his well-being; that’s just the kind of guy he is.
God, this panel would be so much cooler if it had a Prankster’s Gambit meter on the bottom.
JOHN: ok, there’s just no way that change was important.
JOHN: i know this stuff can be pretty subtle, but come on.
JOHN: she HAS to be messing with me at this point.
JOHN: with my new powers, i feel like i’m the ultimate prankster, but to be honest, i’m having a hard time figuring out who is pranking WHO here, exactly.
JOHN: it’s me, isn’t it.
JOHN: i’m the one getting owned, aren’t i.
JOHN: owned by a crazy blind girl, trolling me through time with notes written in her blood moments before she died.
JOHN: but she’s also kind of… trolling herself too?
JOHN: i am dealing with a true professional here.
Only now is John realizing how much of a prankster Terezi is. Her pranking skills rival his to the point where he doesn’t quite know who is pranking who.
JOHN: alright, enough of this asinine horse play.
JOHN: let’s see what the scarf of stupidity has in store for me next!
“Scarf of stupidity” is a phrase that demonstrates John’s feelings towards Terezi quite well. Semi-rivalrous bicker where the two exaggerate how much they get on each other’s nerves.
Next password: JUST1C3. John zaps below a vent shaft that’s sure to bring back memories of long-forgotten trolls.
JOHN: what a gruesome scene.
JOHN: i wonder which troll this was?
JOHN: she looks really cute…
JOHN: it’s sad that she died.
Now’s a good time for the story to remind us that Nepeta ever existed, because the same corpse John is standing next to will later become Davepetasprite^2, finally bringing an end to her utter narrative irrelevance.
JOHN: so i guess the clown guy did this?
JOHN: i’m laughing my ass off.
JOHN: it looks like he left all this bullshit littered around the body to frame vriska.
JOHN: did terezi actually fall for this?
John is rightly confused that Terezi fell for Gamzee’s framing. He knows how sharp Terezi’s mind is, but he doesn’t know that she isn’t immune to hateful clown lust, or the big fat middle finger Gamzee persistently flips at the concept of logical sense.
Also, it’s pretty cool that John figured out that the framing was Gamzee’s doing. The only strict reference he has is the trail of purple blood, but he probably deduced it not through the blood but his general knowledge of Gamzee’s personality.
A pesterlog between Terezi and Dave from Act 5 Act 2 is interrupted when she comes across a note on the Nic Cage poster.
Keep in mind that Terezi at this point knows who John is and has had plenty of conversations with Dave about him. I presume all those conversations with Dave didn’t go any differently (up until now at least), with Terezi’s knowledge about a future version of John meddling with her timeline kept all to herself.
God, this rambly message from John is so funny. He really went ahead and wrote a John-style message to Terezi on the back of a torn piece from a Nic Cage poster, unintentionally creating some Davekat fuel in the process.
TG: wtf is going on there
Was this pesterlog cut short here? Sure seems that way. Instead of talking to Dave, Terezi is thinking about how maybe those heterosexual ships didn’t matter at all. Her red eyes are visible in the panel above, showing how profoundly she’s thinking about this.
John now looks eager to continue the retcon mission, clearly excited to prank Terezi some more. The next password is HONK.
From past Terezi’s perspective:
The door is locked!
You will either need a key, or to break it down with force. You would need to achieve an especially heightened state of determination to pull that off, though.
I forgot all about the problem that Terezi needed high determination to be able to break down the door, which is a conundrum presented in a manner reminiscent of Problem Sleuth. John is right about to change Terezi’s source of determination from serving Vriska justice to serving Gamzee justice.
This isn’t the first time god tier John revisits an old scene rendered in pixel art. There was also the dream bubble fight with Jack Noir which was an absolute tornado of cool callbacks.
It’s so weird revisiting those old scenes with Gamzee fully visible instead of just a silhouette. His trademark smug expression is destroyed in favor of a look that can only be described as “oh shit”.
Gamzee looks even more frightened in this panel. I think this might be the first time he has EVER looked scared? He has no motherfuckin’ idea what’s all going on up in here; this blue guy wasn’t anything the Mirthful Messiahs told him about. Goes to show how Terezi must have kept her knowledge of John a secret from anyone else. Even Gamzee’s clown nonsense didn’t let him get in on the secret!
I love John’s extremely unamused expression as he gets ready to honk a horn. Surely this is the absolute most inconsequential thing Terezi has ever asked him to do, more pointless than any of the scalemate shenanigans. She obviously just wants him to make a funny noise come out of a bike horn so she can laugh at him some more.
The “HONK” here isn’t colored purple, which helpfully indicates it didn’t come from Gamzee.
And with that, Terezi finally notices what she should have noticed much sooner. It’s finally clear to her that all those clues add up not to Vriska, but Gamzee.
JOHN: i honked the stupid horn.
JOHN: one more to go…
JOHN: terezi, are we getting to the point any time soon?
JOHN: i’m getting tired of all this meaningless, prankstery bullshit.
JOHN: i would like to be able to say we at least TRIED to change something important here.
JOHN: i’d rather not have to go back to roxy and say, sorry! your mom has to stay dead forever, because terezi decided to play some funny jokes on me for no reason, and also fix her romance problems.
JOHN: it’d be nice to do something that would actually be significant enough to, you know, prevent that from happening?!
Note the words that I underlined. Amidst his complaining, John lets it slip that he finds Terezi’s pranks funny. He likes getting dunked on by Terezi but refuses to admit as much.
And so, the events of [S] Seer: Ascend proceed as usual, except Terezi is carrying Gamzee instead of the Pyralspite plush. I had linked to a fanmade retconned version of the flash back when I got to this scene in Act 5 Act 2; I may as well link to it again. Apparently I had left a comment on that video five years ago, which doesn’t surprise me because I comment on videos a lot.
Oh jeez, now I have to comment on this scene. My lack of eagerness is not because I think Meenah x Vriska is a horrid ship, but because I feel obliged to talk about the sensitive topic that is their six-year age difference (19 and 13 years respectively) that Hussie blatantly forgot about. The only dialogue here is laughter from both of them (Vriska’s consistently written in multiples of eight or four), so I can go through it quickly.
This panel above demonstrates what while Meenah is the same old Meenah with the same expression of somewhat villainous enthusiasm, Vriska isn’t the same old Vriska. Vriska is running around in genuine laughter, without the slightest hint of smugness or cockiness—her laughter consisting of “ha” is much less mischievous than Meenah’s laughter consisting of “he”. This makes for a suitable demonstration of how much more Vriska has changed than Meenah has.
OK, I guess laughter isn’t exactly the only dialogue we’re hearing from them. Vriska’s reaction to tripping on a rock is much more extreme than Meenah’s, and it comes off not like a villain having her plans trampled upon, just an enthusiastic girl who happened to trip on a rock. Meenah is hardly deterred at all from the rock, which is classic Meenah.
After Vriska and Meenah roll down the mountain in glee, this happens:
This is a panel in Homestuck that exists. I am not going to deny that this is a panel in Homestuck that exists or pretend this is not a panel in Homestuck that exists, because the truth of the matter is that this is a panel in Homestuck that exists.
I really don’t want to discuss the sensitive topic that is purported ages of fictional characters for too long, so I’ll be as brief and objective as possible. When this update was posted, fans started debating about troll biology to degrees possibly more extreme than ever before. Do trolls of different blood castes go through puberty at the same rates? Do trolls have the same concept of sexual maturity that humans do? Do troll ghosts age or mature physically in the slightest? Given the many times humans and trolls discuss how they aren’t quite as different as one may think, I would guess that trolls’ concept of sexual maturity is probably about the same as humans’. Again, this is just me trying to be objective.
It really sucks that Hussie forgot about Meenah and Vriska’s age difference, because those two have a very fun and interesting dynamic. The next time we hear from them, something like a third of the way through A6A6I5, the age difference is one of the first things Meenah brings up, which makes it obvious that Hussie simply forgot about that. I’ll stop my discussion on this topic here and will probably continue it when I get to that scene.
Speaking of Hussie…
Something something ironic proximity to horses. This scene weirdly makes you feel kind of bad for Hussie’s self-insert with all his jokes about having a crush on Vriska.
Alright, now back to the dream bubble trio.
JANE: I knew that I was her only hope for resurrection.
JANE: Perhaps my cybernetic intelligence was not as flawless as I believed.
JANE: In my haste to revive her, I neglected to let them know I was the only chance she had.
JANE: If they understood the nature of my powers, they may have tempered their aggression.
JANE: And if I wasn’t so hurried to use those powers, I may not have let my guard down.
JANE: Alas, I did let my guard down, and with it, my queen.
JANE: But more importantly, my friend, who surely stayed dead.
JANE: Poor Roxy.
CALLIOPE: do yoU sUppose we shoUld be expecting her ghost to join Us too?
CALLIOPE: thoUgh i admit, part of me feels gUilty hoping she will join Us in death. u_u
JANE: I do not know.
JANE: But guilt notwithstanding, I truly hope to see her again.
JANE: Killing a dear friend while in a compromised state of mind… it’s frightening to imagine having to “live” with that for eternity.
JANE: I’d be miserable if I never had the opportunity to make amends.
Jane’s dialogue about living forever knowing you killed a dear friend strongly reminds me of Terezi’s regrets over killing Vriska and how she absolutely seized the opportunity to make amends. Many readers find it weird that one pre-retcon Roxy joins the retconned alpha session, post-retcon Roxy is left behind and forgotten about, but I imagine that Jane probably found it a bad idea at this point to revive her timeline’s Roxy and start yet another issue of alternate selves and who is the “real” one. Perhaps their reconciliation only strengthened Roxy and Jane’s bond as they went to live on Earth C, which may have led Roxy to be so weirdly supportive of Jane in the epilogues.
JADE: its sad she died, but then, isnt it kinda sad we all died?
JADE: personally im really hoping she shows up!
JADE: jane why dont you prepare a trollsona for her as a gesture of reconciliation?
JADE: its the least you can do :B
JANE: Why, yes.
JANE: I do believe I can make that sacrifice for the good of our friendship.
It’s easy to miss that Jane is the one drawing a trollsona for Roxy, not Calliope. For the longest time I thought Calliope was the one drawing it, but now it seems so obvious, like does this look like Calliope’s art style to you? Or Calliope’s text color for that matter? The cyan pen should have been a dead giveaway.
JADE: so getting back to the story
JADE: i take it from what you said about letting your guard down…
JADE: you believe this was how you died?
JANE: I’m almost certain of it.
JANE: I can remember nothing beyond that moment.
JANE: And if one of your friends managed to get the better of me, I have no doubt my death would have been just, considering the trouble I caused.
CALLIOPE: do yoU remember who it was that killed yoU?
CALLIOPE: not to hoUnd yoU for details, bUt trivia like this tends to be historically important.
CALLIOPE: plUs, i woUld like to draw this scene. :u
JANE: I’m sorry. My memory of the incident overall is quite vague.
JANE: But it wouldn’t surprise me if the one who dealt my fatal blow was the leader of the raid.
Jane makes a reasonable assumption about her death given the events of Game Over, where she was killed by a Serket (as was Jade) and died a just death (as did Jade). This assumption is a subtle hint that the raid’s leader is Vriska—funny that a red herring parallel ended up as true foreshadowing for this supposed interloper’s identity.
How fitting that this silhouette stands between Rose and Kanaya, a relationship she played a part in getting on the right track.
And then the next page gives us a lot more clues as to who the interloper could be.
JANE: This was the unanticipated factor.
JANE: Their leader was someone who was not expected to show up with them at all.
JANE: The presence of this lone interloper was enough to discombobulate a scheme millions of years in the making.
This line talks about something I’ve remarked several times before: the retcon arc is all about overriding predestination, and it does so quite beautifully. Yes, I know Vriska is controversial, but let’s forget about that and talk about how cool it is that Terezi and John are working together to sever the wires intricately holding the Condesce’s schemes together—she’s a subordinate of Lord English, the master of predestination, just like Doc Scratch was.
JANE: This hero occupied a blind spot as much to the Condesce as to my present recollection, but of this much I am sure.
JANE: The hero was bold, wily; the sort of firebrand personality they needed to take such a stand.
JANE: An intrepid soul who was not about to take the verdict of paradox space lying down.
It’s quite a change of pace reading the Vriska we’ve always known described this way after seeing her ghost self mellow out so much. Perhaps those ghost Vriska scenes help make the interloper’s identity slightly harder to guess. I remember seeing a few people make spreadsheets to figure out which characters fit all those qualifications Jane mentions, but I don’t remember how many people managed to completely narrow it down to Vriska.
JANE: You see, Callie, your historical documents make no mention of the leader of the raid, because originally, the curtains closed early on this plucky customer.
This passage implies that the version of Calliope we see right here is from the pre-retcon timeline… somehow. I guess we are to assume that Gamzee gave her the pre-retcon copy of Rose’s tome and whatever other resources, thanks to clown bullshit. Clown bullshit is Hussie’s favorite narrative fallback, I’m telling you.
JANE: But the hero was written back into our story by some inscrutable gambit of circumstance which we may never fully understand.
Jane is wrong about not understanding how Vriska was brought back. It’s a presumption that’s either intentional dramatic irony or a red herring hint to make the interloper more difficult to guess.
(My god, I’m really going in depth about this passage, aren’t I? This is only a passage talking about Vriska and I’m still writing paragraphs upon paragraphs about her!)
JANE: And with that flourish of revisionism, the tide of luck turned on a shiny new dime. All bets were off!
The underlined words are probably the most blatant Vriska foreshadowing yet. It’s a cool bit of prose that obviously points to, uh… Nepeta, was it? Yep, it’s gotta be her.
JANE: The tilt between the friendly and felonious was a true horse race again. A real barn burner in the brewing.
JANE: Yes, there’d still be hell to pay after Jade and I made our exit, sure as sugar cubes.
JANE: There’d be ashes to sift, wounds to mend, fallen to mourn. Not being privy to the aftermath, I can only surmise as well as the next gumshoe.
JANE: But with respect to the fate of our comrades, of this much I am convinced.
JANE: When the curtains finally closed, this time, their leader would make sure everyone was standing on the right side of them.
JANE: That is to say, the side any interested onlooker would be able to witness.
This is such unmistakable Hussie prose I don’t even know what to say. I must say it’s pretty cool seeing events described in Hussie prose, whether it be through Doc Scratch or Jane or any other character.
JADE: youre really good at telling stories jane!
CALLIOPE: yes, i’d no idea yoU had sUch a talent. how sneaky of yoU to hide sUch a gift from me all this time!
JADE: hear hear! 5 stars, would listen again! 🙂
JANE: Aw, shucks, you guys. :B
Jane deserves all this praise. I almost wish she told stories like this more often, but she has also done that plenty as Nannasprite. It’s refreshing to see her style of exposition from the younger Jane for once.
See you next time as John punches Vriska in the face, in the thrilling conclusion of Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 4.