Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Reflections Part 133: Tenuous Illusions of Free Will

Introduction

< Part 132 | Part 133 | Part 134 >

Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 5, Part 7 of 12

Pages 7672-7732

No, this isn’t a part where characters have an existential discussion on free will.
The title of this post simply refers to this fake character select screen.

It’s time to go through the second of A6A6I5’s character select screens in this post… except this time, it’s a fake character select screen, which the reader must go through in linear order.

Wow, 10 path options!!!

Wait a minute. You click and click, but nothing happens. This path selection screen seems to be broken. Looks like “free will” got greedy and overloaded the thing with “choice”, rendering the graphic up there completely useless, except you guess as a cool rollover thingy. For the first time EVER, in the over 9000 page history of this website, you begin to feel slightly deceived. Oh, how you would have loved to taste the fruit of free will one last time before this wild ride jerks our bodies to a deadly stop. Alas it is not to be. You must proceed through all of these options linearly, one by one. You click the link below, as usual.

Although this passage initially makes the fake select screen seem like a brutal prank, we’re instead going to be treated to a fun spin on character select screens: instead of going through options in whatever order you want, you go through them linearly, and after each option, you can hover over all the prior options to check on each group of characters. So this fake select screen isn’t completely fake: it’s more of a twist on select screens that focuses more on the rollover aspect.

Given the contents of the select screen shown above, it makes sense for it to be in linear order as I just described. Roxy/Calliope and Dave/Dirk both show up twice in the list, and there’s a lot of bias towards Roxy in there. Most of the conversations feature characters presently on the victory platform: the only ones that don’t are the two Dave/Dirk sections and Meenah/Vriska. Note that I will not be going through the entire fake select screen in this post: rather just the first eight options. I will go through the ninth (Dave/Dirk) in the next post, and the tenth (Roxy/Kanaya) up to the true final select screen in the post after that. After that is three more posts going through the rest of A6A6I5, the Collide post, and the Act 7 and credits post.

Now let’s begin the fake select screen with Dave and Dirk!

DAVE: so
DAVE: that was pretty fucking weird huh
DIRK: …
DIRK: Yeah.

After a lot of enthusiastic heartfelt reunions between other characters, here we have Dave and Dirk being silent and awkward, as their first proper onscreen words to each other make clear. The place of their reunion is symbolic: a rooftop on a tower in the Land of Tombs and Krypton, reminiscent of the same rooftop where Dave would duel with his bro, and where Dirk would gaze into the ocean while thinking about his bro.

Look at Dave and Dirk here. They’re sitting side by side, close but not close, if that makes sense. They’re both struggling to say anything to each other, and it’s quite tragic.

DIRK: That was…
DIRK: Your sister?

DAVE: um sorta
DAVE: but i guess she fused with her dead cat or something
DIRK: Dead cat?
DAVE: the bottom line is we turned our back for two seconds and a shenanigan happened
DAVE: pretty much business as usual
DAVE: at least thats how it rolls for us idk about you guys here

Amidst the Striders’ faltering dialogue, we do get a few amusing lines, like Dave’s usage of “shenanigan” as a singular noun. “Shenanigan” is one of those words that you see far more often in plural form than singular form, even though it’s a perfectly serviceable word in singular.

DIRK: No… yeah.
DIRK: That’s,
DIRK: Pretty much true here too.
DAVE: yeah?
DIRK: I turned my back once.
DIRK: Never again.
DAVE: what happened
DIRK: A muscular troll took my sprite.
DIRK: I then acquiesced into merging him with my jackass pair of sunglasses.
DAVE: oh right
DAVE: that guy

DIRK: Yeah.
DAVE: hmm
DIRK: …

Meanwhile (by which I mean right after that), Dirk confirms that Arquiusprite’s creation went exactly the same post-retcon, only with Vriska instead of Gamzee, which is some nice confirmation. “Acquiesced” is an amusing pun on Equius’s name.

Look at the way Dirk is moving his facial features, reminiscent of Dave’s apartment scenes in Act 2. I think this panel is meant to convey how strongly Dave is reminded of his bro, who he had a very difficult relationship with, while sitting next to Dirk. The lack of words below the panel represents Dave’s awkwardness very well.

Dave rubbing his hair, Dirk looking at the ground.

Both equally awkward.

DAVE: soooooo
DIRK: So.
DAVE: so indeed
DIRK: So is pretty much… the thing we’re saying.
DAVE: …
DAVE: thats uh
DAVE: our conjunction of choice it seems
DIRK: …
DAVE: (fuck)

The ice remains as hard and unbroken as ever. From Dirk’s perspective, it’s easy to see why he’s feeling awkward: he was never the most social or expressive person, and now he’s placed right next to a teen version of his legendary ancestor who he’s looked up to his entire life. What is he supposed to say to the guy? How is he supposed to open up about his true feelings? He knows he finds opening up to people difficult and has beaten himself up about that plenty, especially through his soul splinters.

DIRK: I guess you all pretty much… showed up then.
DAVE: yeah pretty much
DIRK: Like, before I even got back.
DIRK: After the werewolf girl appeared and…
DIRK: Wait, what happened with that?

DAVE: its like
DAVE: a whole story man
DAVE: mostly involving vriska
DIRK: Vriska?
DAVE: if you knew her youd know thats all i had to say
DAVE: youd be like ohhhh its a vriska thing ok got it forget i asked

Amidst still more awkwardness, Dave reveals that he waves off all of Vriska’s self-indulgent shenanigans as “a Vriska thing”. It’s sort of interesting to consider how apathetically Dave perceives Vriska’s exploits… actually, it’s not that interesting. Dave and Dirk are both at that awkward stage of a reunion where neither knows what to say, and they’re both dancing around the elephant in the room, namely the Striders’ relationships with each other’s adult selves.

DIRK: Oh, right.
DIRK: Her.
DIRK: Then…
DIRK: I guess…
DIRK: Stuff in this session is pretty much sorted out, finally?
DAVE: shrug
DAVE: maybe

DIRK: And we’re about to do battle?
DAVE: seems like it
DIRK: Oh.
DIRK: Are we… ready for that?
DAVE: kind of
DAVE: karkat made some drawings so

DIRK: Are… YOU ready?
DAVE: i guess

Neither of the Striders feels too great about pouring out their true, honest thoughts on each other, so they’re awkwardly trying to skip all that and get ready for the fight. And they’re both stumped on meaningful things to say.

DAVE: ive got like
DAVE: a sword and shit

DIRK: Cool.
DIRK: Me too.
DAVE: yeah i know
DAVE: mines not that good

DIRK: That’s too bad.
DIRK: What type of sword?
DAVE: its welsh
DAVE: i mean
DAVE: possibly fake welsh im not that sure

DIRK: Hmm.
DIRK: Well, mine’s good.
DAVE: i know
DIRK: It’s… Japanese?
DAVE: for real?
DIRK: No. I don’t know.
DIRK: Probably fake Japanese.
DAVE: fake japanese
DAVE: kinda like…
DAVE: how all anime probably takes place in some kind of fake japanese universe?

DIRK: Something like that.
DAVE: thats cool
DAVE: tough gettin a sword from a place like that

DIRK: Yeah.
DAVE: …
DIRK: …

During this faltering exchange on swords, the Striders might both be quietly realizing that they aren’t quite the fearless, all-knowing, and resilient swordfighters that they expected each other to be. Neither Dave nor Dirk know the stories of where their swords came from, or why they’re Welsh and Japanese respectively. Dave seemed pretty certain his bro knew everything about swords, as did Dirk for his bro. And yet, this sword discussion isn’t enough to break the ice. Can you destroy a chunk of ice by running a sword through it? Maybe you can, but a better way to get rid of unwanted ice is to apply some heat to it. Well, if you heat up the sword or something, then… OK, this is kind of a shitty metaphor, and I don’t know where I was going with it.

Now it’s Dave’s turn to stare around, with his facial features rotating in a way that’s clearly meant to be reminiscent of Act 2. Through visuals alone, this panel gets readers thinking back to our first exposure to Dave’s bro all the way back then, so that they have a better memory of what he was like.

DIRK: So when are we supposed to fight?
DAVE: god i hope soon

😦 😦 😦 😦

This is a pretty uneasy scene that took up an entire update, as did every scene in this fake select screen. This scene does a good job showing how awkward and nervous Dave and Dirk are—they’re both awkward in a distinctly Strider way.

One section down, nine to go! Well, seven to go for this post, but nine to go in total. Here’s the point where you can start hovering over options that have already been gone through to check on the groups of characters involved. In this case, we simply see Dave and Dirk silently sitting side by side, not doing anything else. Now let’s go on to the six-way conversation between everyone currently on the frog platform.

The conversation starts with a whole bunch of complimenting Calliope’s appearance, but then Terezi breaks the moment with some different remarks:

TEREZI: C4LL13, YOU 4R3 SURROUND3D BY 4SS K1SS3RS
TEREZI: YOU SHOULD 4LLOW M3 TO L1CK YOUR F4C3 SO 1 C4N M4K3 4N OBJ3CT1V3 D3T3RM1N4T1ON
JOHN: dammit terezi!
CALLIOPE: :u
TEREZI: 1T 1S TH3 ONLY W4Y W3’LL KNOW FOR SUR3
TEREZI: THOUGH 1F 1’M B31NG HON3ST, YOU SM3LL PR3TTY UGLY FROM WH3R3 1 4M ST4ND1NG
JOHN: oh my god.
JOHN: you are terrible!

TEREZI: PL34S3, JOHN
TEREZI: 1 D1D NOT M34N TH4T 1N 4N UNFL4TT3R1NG W4Y
TEREZI: 1 TH1NK H4V1NG 4 SKULL FOR 4 H34D 1S PR3TTY S1CK
TEREZI: 1F G1V3N TH3 CHO1C3, 1 M1GHT ROCK TH3 LOOK MYS3LF
TEREZI: BUT 1 WOULDN’T ST4ND FOR 4 BUNCH OF CLOY1NG W33N13S S1TT1NG 4ROUND C4LL1NG M3 PR3TTY
TEREZI: 1F TH4T’S HOW P3OPL3 R34CT3D, WH4T WOULD 3V3N B3 TH3 PO1NT OF LOOK1NG L1K3 4 B4D4SS SKULL G1RL 1N TH3 F1RST PL4C3?
JOHN: ok, i guess that is your opinion on that, then.
JOHN: thanks for sharing, terezi.
JOHN: (don’t listen to her callie, she’s a weirdo.)

CALLIOPE: :U

I feel like internally, Terezi has trouble giving genuine compliments to others. She’s praising Calliope’s appearance in a different way from the others, and I’m not sure if she’s just being humorous or truly having trouble with being kind and sweet.

As John gives some time to give Calliope some John-style encouraging words, he remains humorously oblivious to the idea of Roxy and Calliope being in a relationship:

JOHN: you must be a really good friend to [roxy], for her to want to bring you back so much.
CALLIOPE: yes, she’s as good a friend as i coUld ever hope for.
CALLIOPE: bUt then, since yoU helped, i sUppose i owe yoU jUst as mUch gratitUde, don’t i?

JOHN: nah, not really.
JOHN: i had to save the ring anyway, and it just seemed like the right thing to do, giving it to her, since she was so worried about you.
JOHN: it should be a nice thing that is between her and you. i’m just a middle man. 🙂
CALLIOPE: heehee. ok. :u

Yep, John is in one of his positive hero moods: the mood he’s in when he has a goal to work towards. When he doesn’t have a goal to work towards, that’s when he becomes depressed and cranky, as we see in the battleship scenes and the epilogues.

JOHN: anyway, it’s really nice to meet the person who finally gets to wear the highly touted ghost ring!
JOHN: it probably means you are pretty special, to end up with it.
JOHN: what do you think you will do with your life, now that you’re alive and free from your jerky bro?
CALLIOPE: ooh, Uh… wow.
CALLIOPE: i hadn’t thoUght aboUt it!
CALLIOPE: the idea is overwhelming, really.

JOHN: well, don’t sweat it.
JOHN: you’ll have a lot of time to figure it out.
JOHN: that’s kind of the point of life, right? to take a lot of time floundering around, figuring stuff out.
JOHN: the answer will come to you eventually. you should just try to have fun!

John knows in theory that it’s perfectly fine to sit back, relax, and enjoy life. But in practice, that’s a way different story—again, look at the battleship scenes or epilogues, especially Candy. In his positive hero moods, John is unfailingly kind and encouraging to anyone he meets, and he says a lot of the same things that he explosively denies when he’s in one of his worse moods.

Yet again, I sadly don’t have anything to say about Jane.

ROXY: (yoo troll grouch… john is so nice agh its fuckin me up)
TEREZI: (1 KNOW)
TEREZI: (1T’S D1SGUST1NG)

Here’s a hint at Terezi returning John’s black feelings for her. She knows well that John isn’t always so sweet and encouraging, and that he can just as easily jab and snark at others. This inconsistency in terms of his kindness seems to be something that Terezi likes/hates about him—for example, the way John respects and admires Terezi like a total goober while simultaneously being driven up the wall by her.

ROSE: So, you were only there to release her?
ROSE: Are you sure there isn’t something important for you to do, now that you’re alive and with us?
CALLIOPE: i doUbt it.
CALLIOPE: for one thing, i have virtUally no UsefUl abilities. u_u

ROSE: I don’t mean to badger you. I’m just wondering how you fit into all this.
ROSE: Getting to wear a one-of-a-kind ring, and returning to join a group about to wage a pivotal battle,
ROSE: That strikes me as the profile of someone meant to do something important.
ROSE: What do you think you’ll do?
JOHN: maybe it doesn’t have to work that way though?
JOHN: what if those are just some facts about her, which let her come back to life, but they don’t have to mean anything other than that.
JOHN: like anything about having to do some huge fancy thing.

Again, John puts a surprising amount of acceptance into Calliope’s irrelevance considering his severe gripes with narrative relevance, which is most often thought of as a Vriska thing, but I also consider it a John thing.

ROSE: I guess so.
ROSE: First Dave tells me human beings don’t have “arcs”, and now you’re telling me the culmination of an epic doesn’t require a messianic archetype to return from the dead, thereby providing the key to everyone’s salvation?
ROSE: I wonder what sturdy and time-tested narrative construct Jade is going to debunk whenever she wakes up. Maybe she will lay waste to the notion of endgame ships?
ROSE: Karkat won’t be happy about that.
JOHN: huh??
JOHN: ok, i don’t know what stuff you’re going on about there, but i just don’t think she should feel like she has to do anything she doesn’t want to.

Rose’s meta questioning has become endearing as hell. The way she seeks out patterns and even notices patterns in her friends debunking common narrative patterns is lowkey adorable, and Rose is all about being lowkey adorable. Her silly side is far more subtle than that of most characters, and I feel that fans don’t always appreciate it.

CALLIOPE: i think the trUth is, i won’t be doing mUch of anything.
CALLIOPE: my other self told me as mUch.
CALLIOPE: her advice was to jUst live, and…
CALLIOPE: exist as the version of Us for whom that is an actUal possibility.
CALLIOPE: she’s the one who will be doing important things.
ROSE: How so?
CALLIOPE: she didn’t say.
ROSE: Isn’t that just how it always is with alt-selves.
ROSE: So cryptic.

ROXY: hey guys its been cool having yall meet callie and such but
ROXY: do you think she and i could have a moment alone?
ROXY: got some stuff i wanna talk about!

Oh boy, this is leading up to that friendship speech of Roxy’s that I remember being extremely saccharine. I’ll, uh… I’ll try not to panic.

Dave and Dirk’s silent adventures in the fake select screen are as humorous as they are tragic.

Next up on the fake select screen: Vriska and Meenah. Or rather, (Vriska) and Meenah.

Yep, that’s right. The pre-retcon ghost version of Vriska is no longer Vriska. Instead, she’s (Vriska), with her name surrounded by parentheses. I’ve already talked plenty about the narrative distinction between Vriska and (Vriska), and how the names are held by different versions of Vriska in both Homestuck and the epilogues. To reiterate, Vriska is ambitious and self-important, focused on defeating the final boss and achieving her grand heroic moment above all else, while (Vriska) puts all those goals aside in favor of living a happier, simpler life, and thus slowly becomes a completely different person. This isn’t just referring to post- and pre-retcon Vriska respectively; rather, the general concepts of Vriska and (Vriska). (Vriska) in the scene I’m on now used to be Vriska, but now she’s (Vriska).

Oh yeah, the treasure chest is here: the same chest that the pirate crew found back when the blue-blooded troll we see here was Vriska. This is quite narratively convenient and is perhaps symbolic of going full circle. It’s like they always say: time is a flat circle.

(VRISKA): You know, I’ve got to say.
(VRISKA): I’ve really turned around on horses.

I’ll never forget how hard I laughed at this line when this update first came out. I was walking outside on a hot summer day, dressed in a suit and tie for some music performance, and I read this update on my iPod Touch. When reading (Vriska) talk about horses, I burst out laughing so loudly that it probably embarrassed everyone else around me. It’s just such a random and unexpected topic for her to discuss, and I think the suddenness is what made me laugh so hard. The fact that this conversation immediately dives into the topic of horses, instead of heroic ambition or complex morality or anything like that, is a perfect character establishing moment for (Vriska) now that I think of it.

MEENAH: wha
(VRISKA): Horses.
(VRISKA): I used to h8 them.
(VRISKA): Remem8er?
(VRISKA): I developed this weird superstition a8out them, a8out how they’re cursed or something, and when they’re around, they can only lead to 8ad things happening.
(VRISKA): Don’t you remem8er how I was going on and on a8out that a while ago, at the amusement park?
MEENAH: oh
MEENAH: guess so

(VRISKA): 8ut we’ve 8een hanging around them a while now, and everything’s 8een fine.
(VRISKA): More than fine, actually!

(Vriska’s) elaboration upon why she doesn’t hate horses anymore further shows us her new character, and Meenah’s bored reaction shows that she’s been exposed to a bizarre new side of Vriska that she never thought possible. By becoming (Vriska), Vriska’s character has gone through a complete unraveling, and it weirds Meenah the hell out.

(Vriska) and Meenah’s contrasting expressions perfectly represent the direction their relationship has gone in.

I should note that before this update came out, “Griska” was quite a popular nickname for pre-retcon Vriska; it stands for either “Ghost Vriska” or “Game Over Vriska”, probably depends who you ask. I think I like referring to ghost Vriska as (Vriska), because it’s a far more symbolic name than Griska is. In a similar vein, I remember the version of Vriska from the envisioned timeline where she fought Bec Noir being nicknamed “Briska”, but I can’t remember what that nickname stands for. “Bec Noir Vriska” perhaps?

(VRISKA): So yeah, horses are ok in my 8ook.
(VRISKA): What do you think, Meenah?

MEENAH: aboat what
(VRISKA): Horses!!!!!!!!
MEENAH: ummmm
MEENAH: they ok
MEENAH: kinda dumb and smelly
MEENAH: be makin like
MEENAH: fucked up sounds out their big ass snouts an floppy lips

Horses have always been one of Hussie’s favorite things to joke about, and Meenah pretty much tells us why that is. They’re dumb and smelly and make weird noises and freak out about nothing, and that’s why he finds horses funny.

(VRISKA): Yeah.
(VRISKA): Reminds me of the weird sounds that used to come from my neigh8or’s hive at weird hours of the night.
MEENAH: the fuck
(VRISKA): Don’t even ask, 8ecause I don’t know.

Through mentioning Equius, (Vriska) provides a chilling reminder that she’s the same Vriska we knew back in the trolls’ arc, which also reminds us that Vriska (no parentheses) is the same Vriska we knew back in the trolls’ arc. (Vriska) hasn’t forgotten about her past, but rather has moved past it and is reflecting on it in lighter ways.

Part of me feels it’s symbolic that the “scoot!” isn’t exactly in Vriska’s blood color.

(Vriska) is more enthusiastic than ever to explore dream bubbles with Meenah and spend time with various versions of the Alternian and Beforan trolls, but Meenah much less so.

(VRISKA): We should go exploring some more 8u88les!
MEENAH: we explored an awful lot already
MEENAH: aint they sorta all the same by now

(VRISKA): I mean, roughly speaking, yeah. They’re all ar8itrary memory collages I guess.
(VRISKA): 8ut there’s always something new to see every time.
(VRISKA): Whose ridiculous memory will we visit next????????
(VRISKA): Like, some nutty version of Kanaya who 8ecame a god tier in some totally ludicrous version of our session?
(VRISKA): Or may8e a version of John who never even played the game at all? May8e he went outside to look for the game, and his fatherly lusus 8acked over him with his car?
(VRISKA): Or what a8out your friends? They’re always fun!
(VRISKA): Like Nepeta’s ancestor… the deaf one? She’s a riot! Plus she has a fascin8tingly dark history which her memories always seem to hint at.
(VRISKA): Or Eridan’s douchier clone. I KNOW you have a gr8 time whenever you get the chance to own him.

Bringing up the Beforan trolls besides Meenah in dream bubble scenes has gotten kind of stale, and I feel that’s exactly the point in this passage. I am NOT saying it’s “bad on purpose”, I’m just saying that this passage makes me feel bad for Meenah, who similarly has found all these dream bubble adventures really stale. We already know that Meulin is deaf and has a surprisingly dark backstory, and that Cronus is a complete idiot with zero redeeming qualities. From Meenah’s perspective, there’s nothing new anymore. Meenah responds to this with a surprisingly poignant description of dreams:

MEENAH: just sounds like the same shit as always
MEENAH: like
MEENAH: exactly like dreams
(VRISKA): Dreams?
MEENAH: they ARE dream bubbles after all
(VRISKA): Yeah.
(VRISKA): 8ut… I don’t…

MEENAH: dreams are also like a crazy fantasy ride full of fake shit that makes no sense
MEENAH: its a great time in theory
MEENAH: and i guess when youre younger its fun
MEENAH: maybe you even look forward to sleepin
MEENAH: to see what the great mr sandclam has in store for you next
MEENAH: but after sweeps and sweeps of dreamin
MEENAH: you get used to it
MEENAH: its just the same bogus crap yer stupid brain is just shuffling up and serving you again and again
MEENAH: so you stop paying attention and just ride out your sleep
MEENAH: then get back to business in the real world like a legit person with cool plans

A6A6I5 has gotten criticized a lot for lackluster writing, and while some conversations in the act do read a little weird to me, there’s others like this that are as poignant and striking as ever. Meenah describes dreaming as a stale pattern that isn’t exciting anymore and has accepted that dreams are fake and not worth caring about, which is a depressing but down-to-earth way to think of dreams. The wonders and joys of dreaming have worn thin for Meenah, or maybe those wonders were never there in the first place. That’s just the kind of person she is, and I’ll get back to that after…

(VRISKA): Huh.
(VRISKA): I don’t think I’ve had the same experience, honestly.
(VRISKA): Sounds like kind of a 8ummer, to look at dreaming that way.
(VRISKA): I always liked dreaming! I mean, unless they were awful dreams, which was… fairly often.
(VRISKA): 8ut I’d never say I really got 8ored of them.
MEENAH: yeah well
MEENAH: you are uh
MEENAH: a bit younger than me

(VRISKA): I am?
(VRISKA): Hm.
(VRISKA): Yeah, I guess so. I never thought a8out it!

… Meenah brings up the elephant in the room that is her and (Vriska’s) age difference. It’s painfully blatant that Hussie forgot about their age difference back in A6A6I4, which led to a lot of fan debates about troll sexual maturity and what have you. Here, Hussie is awkwardly backpedaling on this relationship, and while he transitioned into the topic quite nicely, it’s still one of the most awkward things to have happened in Homestuck—awkward especially on Hussie’s part. I had already discussed this topic in more detail in this A6A6I4 post, so no need to repeat it here.

MEENAH: then again
MEENAH: we fuschia ladies
MEENAH: we sorta have to get used to being around people younger than us over our full lives
MEENAH: like
MEENAH: much younger 38\
MEENAH: or at least id have to if i was actually alive

This passage gets me thinking about the Condesce, who throughout A6A6I5 has been portrayed as villainously as ever. Through being a non-aging dream bubble ghost, Meenah has come to realize how messed up it is to live millennia as a fuchsia blooded troll, watching over generations upon generations of lower trolls without aging a hair. I wonder if the Condesce has ever had such deeper trains of thought? Did she ever take a breather from her insatiable power and glory to stop and think about her life as a fuchsia blood? Maybe the Condesce has just been caught up in glory for her entire existence and never got to think about any sort of morality.

(Vriska) notices that Meenah is feeling down and tries to talk things out with her, but Meenah is having trouble expressing her inner insecurities. Meenah knows about the Condesce’s exploits and knows they are fully indicative of what sort of person she is, and thus she’s having a lot of trouble being… not like that.

And then Vriska enters the scene with a single “*Cough*.”

VRISKA: Sorry if I’m interrupting… WHATEVER the fuck is going on here.
VRISKA: 8ut I’m afraid I’m going to need that treasure.

Vriska’s lines here make it as clear as can be that she’s the same ambitious and self-important Vriska as ever. She sees a treasure chest and asks to take it without further words, since she knows it’s an important step in defeating Lord English. While it’s unquestionable that (Vriska) changed more than Vriska has, Vriska still has gone through character development of her own—she just hasn’t shed the mindset that the pinnacle of glory is defeating the final boss of reality.

This image interestingly shows that god tier Calliope was never rendered in a symbolic manner.
(Symbolic manner as in sprite mode, of course.)

The Striders are bored as hell, the Vriskas are having an intense staredown, and the frog platform kids are talking about the topics shown above. It looks like Jane is telling the others all about the trollsona times, and part of me is sad that it’s offscreen because Jane’s storytelling is a lot of fun to read. Then again, the fact that the conversation is offscreen suggests that they’re only talking about things we already knew.

Anyway, next up in the fake select screen: Roxy and Calliope, round 1.

Back in 2015 when this update first came out, I remember waving off Roxy and Calliope’s A6A6I5 conversations as a bunch of sugary nonsense, but now I am at least 20% less confident in that assessment partly because of this passage:

ROXY: i cant believe youre really here
ROXY: it hardly seems real!
ROXY: after all these years and how u were just like a mystery friend online and then how worried i was we might lose you for good
ROXY: but now……
ROXY: wow
CALLIOPE: i know!!!

I think I had skimmed this passage back then, but now I know firsthand how unreal it feels to meet Internet friends in real life, so I actually find it quite relatable now. Think about it: this is Roxy’s first time talking to Calliope in person for real, not in dream bubbles or anything, and with Calliope’s true appearance. Can you blame either of them for finding it unreal? I should say that back in 2015 (and for many years since), me meeting Internet friends in real life seemed like it would never happen, but then at the start of 2019 it happened for the first time: I met (or made) dozens of friends at a convention, and it was glorious. I could go on endlessly about all the fun memories I’ve made in those experiences, but then I’d be here all day. I’ll just say that if you’ve never met Internet friends in real life, you’re really missing out.

ROXY: so u and jane and jade were hangin out?
CALLIOPE: yes!
CALLIOPE: it was great.
CALLIOPE: we drew and told stories.
CALLIOPE: i’d heard yoU died, so i was holding oUt some hope that yoU woUld show Up too…
CALLIOPE: and yoU did eventUally. jUst not the version of yoU i expected.
CALLIOPE: i never dared to think yoU woUld bring me this gift.
ROXY: well
ROXY: i swore i would
ROXY: and john kinda double swore he would help
ROXY: damn the kid is persistent

CALLIOPE: i like him.
CALLIOPE: he is easy to talk to.
ROXY: yeah!

Calliope seems to hold a great amount of respect and gratitude for John, and I can easily imagine that in the Candy Epilogue, she insisted that she was perfectly fine with Roxy and John getting together, even though deep down she didn’t feel too good about it. That’s just the insistently selfless person who Calliope is.

CALLIOPE: i’ve read aboUt him, of coUrse.
CALLIOPE: the reality of someone standing in front of yoU is qUite different from what yoU read aboUt them in a text.

This passage again reminds me of something interesting about meeting Internet friends in real life: they’re always so much more energetic and lively than you would have ever imagined, especially if you had only ever talked to them over text.

CALLIOPE: bUt then, i have no idea how accUrate anything i read is anymore.
CALLIOPE: i always believed i was in possession of the texts which decoded yoUr fUtUre, and i behaved toward all of yoU in that sly and knowing manner, avoiding “spoilers” and sUch.
CALLIOPE: that was probably presUmptUoUs of me thoUgh, in hindsight. i clearly didn’t know that mUch.
CALLIOPE: i certainly didn’t read anything aboUt my own involvement. i never coUld have imagined being here.
ROXY: you were still helpful though!
ROXY: you were the force in our lives that gave us hope that we could all get together some day
ROXY: going down that road has been craaazy and by no means a smooth ride

Oh boy. Now it’s time for Roxy to go into friendship speech mode. Her encouraging speech towards Calliope starts pretty good, saying that she’s responsible for the alpha kids getting together in the first place, but then it devolves into a bunch of rambly timeline and choice nonsense that makes me wonder why on earth Hussie decided to lay the whole “likable Roxy” thing so damn thick. Calliope then talks about worries of inferiority to her god tier self, and Roxy talks about more of that choice and timeline and self-shaping stuff, which is kind of weird. She could remind Calliope that the two versions of Calliope aren’t the same person except through technicality and that’s why she shouldn’t worry too much, but instead she gives a bunch of weird timeline blither. Roxy did just learn about three completely different versions of Jack Noir, and I think the staggering differences between alternate selves would have been a good thing for her to bring up, but… yeah, her friendship speech is indeed more than a little too sappy.

For more criticism towards Roxy and Calliope’s relationship, refer back to this post.

CALLIOPE: those are very inspiring things to hear, roxy.
CALLIOPE: i hope yoU are right.
CALLIOPE: bUt even so…
CALLIOPE: i think i woUld still like to be UsefUl.
ROXY: you can be!
ROXY: you can help me out

CALLIOPE: how?
ROXY: i know you arent god tier or anything or probably never did much to get in touch with your aspect
ROXY: but maybe that doesnt matter
ROXY: u are space right?

CALLIOPE: yes.
CALLIOPE: a mUse of space.
ROXY: sounds cool!
CALLIOPE: it is cool, i think.
CALLIOPE: especially having seen what i coUld have been.
ROXY: no but that potential has to be inside you somewhere
ROXY: actually
ROXY: its one reason why i wanted u to be with me here for a while
ROXY: aside from catch up a bit 🙂

CALLIOPE: what do yoU need me to do?
ROXY: nothin really
ROXY: just be here with me…
ROXY: while i try this
ROXY: idk why but i feel like your presence will help
ROXY: and if nothing else i just like having u here
ROXY: makes me feel better about trying to focus on this weird lil chore

On the plus side, Roxy does give Calliope an opportunity to be useful: have her by Roxy’s side as she creates the matriorb. The relation to Calliope’s role as a Muse of Space is tenuous at best, and I like to believe the real reason Calliope’s presence made her successfully create the matriorb is due to the power of friendship, which I know sounds cheesy as hell.

ROXY: ill be like… probing nothingness for an idea
ROXY: a pretty complicated idea in this case
ROXY: and
ROXY: pulling that idea from unreality
ROXY: so maybe if im right and a closer connection to the nature of space will help me locate that idea…
ROXY: almost like
ROXY: standing next to an antenna to boost the signal of that idea
ROXY: then maybe my chances will be better
ROXY: and hey
ROXY: even if not
ROXY: its just nice to have a friend nearby while u try to do something hard
CALLIOPE: ^u^

The discussion on the power of friendship seamlessly leads to another annoyance of mine regarding Roxy and Calliope’s relationship: that Calliope is pretty much demoted to being Roxy’s sidekick. I suppose that sidekick role is a side effect of pairing the two of them together in the credits’ buddy system, which doesn’t excuse this change one bit. I think Hussie had forgotten that Calliope is also friends with the other three alpha kids, just Roxy maybe slightly more than others, which led to this weird and wrong change. I also feel that Calliope being Roxy’s sidekick was partly done as an excuse for Roxy not to get together with John in the credits. On the positive side, it’s good that Calliope at least has some semblance of usefulness in the events of A6A6I5, even if the role she plays is just (sigh) Roxy’s sidekick. More like sighdekick, am I right?

Deepest apologies for the horrible pun I just made.

I’m halfway through this post’s selection screen options! The next four probably won’t be very long. When hovering over the second option above, we see pictures representing the various topics that John, Rose, Jane, and Terezi are about to discuss: a set of hints at what’s about to happen next, just like this entire fake select screen has been.

Meanwhile, as Vriska and (Vriska) are wordlessly facing off, Meenah goes into comical fantasies about doing glamorous or sea-oriented things. Those fantasies add a great sense of humor to the select screen, but if you look at them a bit more deeply, you can see that none of those fantasies involve Vriska—a subtle hint at Meenah’s inherent disinterest in loafing around.

JOHN: what do you think they are talking about over there?
JANE: I suspect Roxy wanted some time to catch up with an old friend.
JANE: I’m sure I would want the same, if I hadn’t just had an extensive reunion with her myself.

JOHN: yeah, i guess we should just chill out and give them a moment.
JOHN: it isn’t QUITE time to head to our battle stations yet, so we might as well try to relax until it is.
ROSE: I imagine it’s a lot easier to relax when another version of yourself hasn’t been hijacked by your dead cat.
JOHN: heheh, yeah, it probably is.
JOHN: maybe you should try not to let her bug you, rose. she seems harmless enough.
JOHN: plus, she’s pretty funny!
ROSE: Sounds suspiciously like the advice of someone who’s never had to deal with an outlandish alternate version of himself.
JOHN: hey, i’ve bumped into other johns a few times!
JOHN: can’t say the experience has been anything other than perfectly agreeable. :p
ROSE: You mean, Johns that were essentially time duplicates? In the course of your retcon quest?
JOHN: yes.
ROSE: Those don’t count. Those were just regular Johns.
ROSE: What I’m saying is, you never had to deal with the John who was like, half Harry Anderson, and half Maplehoof the dear departed pony.

JOHN: wow, that sounds GREAT!

Here’s even more of Rose picking up on patterns in much more lighthearted ways than before. Her pattern recognition is off the charts, and here it’s shown in a humorous context for once. The John who was half Harry Anderson and half Maplehoof will unfortunately have to be left to the imagination. The Harry Anderson who is half John and half the owner of Maplehoof, on the other hand… that guy will turn out to be quite a riot. John’s enthusiastic reaction to Rose’s wacky sprite idea nicely matches with his idea to name his son after Harry Anderson in the epilogues.

ROSE: Come to think of it, you’re the only one of us who hasn’t. I mean, of our original group of friends.
ROSE: Dave had Bird Dave, Jade had Dog Jade, and now I have… *shudder*… Cat Rose.
ROSE: Why were you let off the hook?
JOHN: i dunno.
JOHN: guess you guys are just luckier than me. 🙂

I think I can answer Rose’s question here: John’s narrative relevance is confined to his main self rather than any alternate selves, so there’s no logical way to work an absurd animal version of John into the story without ruining this narrative distinction.

ROSE: Even putting aside the wildly unwelcome body horror slapstick routine she represents, and the machine gun salvo of opprobrious remarks and conduct which my cat is apparently capable of releasing from my subconscious,
ROSE: I’m not sure where this leaves me.
JOHN: what do you mean?
ROSE: I felt like I understood my place.
ROSE: I’d gotten myself in order somewhat. My, um.
ROSE: Beverage decisions had gotten more reasonable.
ROSE: I was ready to bear down and play my part in finishing this.
ROSE: I could even handle a stray Rosesprite brought to my doorstep by my sweet imbecile of a pet.
ROSE: Idiotic though that was, I was still clearly Rose Prime.
ROSE: But can I really claim that now?
ROSE: She’s a… sprite SQUARED?!
ROSE: How is that even a thing.
ROSE: Can someone tell me how that’s even a thing?
JANE: I can’t tell you how it’s even a thing.
JANE: I think we are all just as flabbergasted as you at its thinginess.

Rose’s discussion on character arcs is interesting because it shows she thought her arc had already been completed before Jasprose came along. While meta awareness in Homestuck is typically a villain thing, Rose’s awareness is now portrayed in a much more playful manner. And while post-retcon Rose has solidly completed her character arc, mostly through Vriskagram and her reunion with Roxy, pre-retcon Rose has a lot of loose ends to tie up, especially now that she’s a squared sprite. She’s internally bummed out about not being able to be with Kanaya anymore and thus has chosen Nepeta for a substitute, which backfires when Davepetasprite^2 is created, and Jasprose has to learn to move on. Jasprose is an interesting way to continue the arc of one of the pre-retcon characters who didn’t survive Game Over, and it’s easy to forget that the Rose side of her is the original Rose so to speak.

ROSE: What’s next? Is there a sprite cubed? Or a…
ROSE: Let’s not even entertain this avenue of thought.

Haha, Rose knows exactly what fans are thinking. She deduces through extrapolation that cubed sprites would be a whole new level of ridiculousness, thus something left for fans to figure out on their own. I still love that she briefly brings up cubed sprites just like a fan would.

ROSE: The point is, she must be quite powerful, insightful, and in spite of the beast she rents headspace out to, intelligent as well.
ROSE: Doesn’t she arguably have more claim to being Real Rose than I do?
JOHN: i don’t think being the “real rose” necessarily means being the one who is more outgoing and chatty and powerful and stuff.
JOHN: i’m not sure it means… anything?
JOHN: i think maybe we should try to drop the stuff about who is the real version of who anyway. it’s weird and it just hurts people’s feelings.

ROSE: I don’t care if my feelings are hurt, though.
ROSE: I just want to know where I stand.
JOHN: i really don’t think she is that threatening to you!
JOHN: believe me, you still seem like the rose i always knew, whereas she… doesn’t quite.
JOHN: it seems to me she is a lot more interested in having fun and zipping around like a silly lunatic than usurping you as the main rose.

ROSE: Sure. That’s what she WANTS you to think.

Rose’s suspicions about Jasprose may arise from something she knows about herself: that she’s very scheming and cunning and actively seeks out knowledge. Although this conversation is meant to be humorous, Rose’s fear of what could become of her alternate self reminds me of Dirk’s relationship with his alternate selves.

JOHN: but why do you care? i thought i heard the other rose say, before she was a cat, that she liked the idea of being some sort of… backup rose.
JOHN: do you not feel that way too?
ROSE: That was a different context.
ROSE: I probably would have felt the same way, if I found myself in her exact situation.
ROSE: Jasprose changes everything though.
ROSE: Now I feel a certain responsibility. Like I have to really step up.

JOHN: step up??
ROSE: Yes. To make sure I stay regarded as the exemplary model.
ROSE: To provide assurance that the concept of Roseness itself doesn’t degrade due to black market peddlers of substandard shit.
ROSE: Basically, I need to defend the integrity of the brand.

JOHN: hahaha. oh my god.
ROSE: What?
JOHN: nothing.
JOHN: i just missed you so much!

As I discussed two posts ago, John and Rose have a playful flavor of banter throughout A6A6I5 that shows how long they’ve been friends. Their dynamic at this point is quite heartwarming, especially with John’s last line quoted above, and as a nice bonus, it’s completely divorced from the whole stereotypical “first male and first female have romantic tension” thing.

YET AGAIN, I regretfully don’t have anything to say about Jane.
I promise I’ll make up for it in her conversation with Nannasprite two posts from now.

ROSE: My brand missed you too, John.
JOHN: your brand has good taste in friends, and kicks ass.
TEREZI: (N333RDS)

Ah, here Terezi is having difficulty being positive and heartfelt—at least, that’s how it comes off knowing her pesterlog to Vriska later in A6A6I5.

JOHN: hey, how do you think kanaya and karkat are doing?
ROSE: They’re probably getting a stern earful of roiling monster patois right about now.
JOHN: do you think they’ll be successful?
ROSE: …
ROSE: At what?

JOHN: at…
JOHN: talking to a monster?
JOHN: i don’t know.
ROSE: I think Karkat will successfully fail to understand the monster, and possibly also successfully shout at the monster.
ROSE: Kanaya I think will probably successfully do something sensible in response to whatever the monster demands.

JOHN: so…
JOHN: you think they’re going to pull it off then?
ROSE: I’m still not sure what “it” is.
ROSE: But yes.

JOHN: well, the idea was to release the frog i think.
ROSE: You think so?
JOHN: that’s what vriska said.
ROSE: Vriska says a lot of things.

One moment, John thinks Vriska is dangerous and evil; the other, he wholeheartedly trusts her as much as he trusts anyone else, which is hilarious when you think about it. Even Rose admits in a subtle way that Vriska is full of shit sometimes, through the sentence “Vriska says a lot of things.”

ROSE: That’s the basic idea, yes.
ROSE: But monsters can be complicated.
ROSE: Regardless, I think the right person was summoned to handle it.

JOHN: you really trust kanaya, don’t you?
ROSE: Sure.
JOHN: not to change the subject too hard, into something maybe you don’t want to talk about because of your brand…
JOHN: but i think you make a nice couple.
ROSE: You do?
JOHN: yes, i thought so last time i was hanging out with you both, in the screwed up time line.
JOHN: but didn’t say anything then.
JOHN: i think it’s still true!
JOHN: i’m glad it didn’t change when i retconned some things.
ROSE: I am too.
JOHN: maybe that means it’s a strong relationship?
JOHN: if it can survive… god.
JOHN: whatever the hell happened.
JOHN: a hard three year reboot, and then the sudden presence of vriska??

I view Rose and Kanaya’s happy relationship post-retcon as a gesture of kindness to fans; one that doesn’t get any more wrenches thrown into it until post-canon media comes along. Even though it’s weird for the complications in their relationship to be washed away, or I guess already resolved during the three-year meteor journey, John’s words about them making a nice couple are heartwarming.

ROSE: When you put it that way,
ROSE: It really does sound like you were trying to fuck us up.
JOHN: haha.
TEREZI: (N3333333RDS)

Terezi isn’t just struggling to be heartfelt, but also is demonstrating some black feelings towards John as shown in the next page.

JOHN: terezi, shoosh.
TEREZI: WH4T
TEREZI: 1 H4V3 JUST B33N M1ND1NG MY OWN BUS1N3SS, 4ND 1N NO W4Y WH4TSO3V3R S4Y1NG 4NYTH1NG D1R3CT3D 4T 4 COUPL3 OF S1LLY N3RDS S4Y1NG DORKY TH1NGS

JOHN: no, you said nerds twice.
JOHN: you always say nerds when in ear shot of other people who are just being friendly.
TEREZI: 1SN’T 1T W31RD HOW YOU 4R3 M4K1NG TH1S OBS3RV4T1ON, 4ND NO ON3 3LS3 1S?
JOHN: what?
JOHN: no.
TEREZI: M34N1NG, M4YB3 1 ONLY S4Y 1T WH3N TH3 P41R OF N3RDS 1N 34RSHOT H4PP3NS TO 1NCLUD3 YOU
JOHN: um…
TEREZI: <3<
JOHN: ack!!!
JOHN: what was that look?!
TEREZI: WH4T LOOK
JOHN: that look you just gave me!
TEREZI: 1 D1DN’T G1V3 YOU 4 LOOK, D1NGUS
JOHN: yes you did!
JOHN: don’t look at me like that!!!
TEREZI: WH4T3V3R LOOK YOU TH1NK 1 G4V3 YOU, 1T W4S 1N YOUR 1M4G1N4T1ON
TEREZI: 1T 1S *POSS1BL3* YOU M4Y B3 FL4TT3R1NG YOURS3LF, 3GB3RT

JOHN: oh, whatever.

In this old post, I had discussed how black John/Terezi is weirdly forced hard in A6A6I5, specifically after Karkat spelled it out to John. I can’t say I disagree with my statement from back then, but the intention behind showing Terezi returning the black feelings is clear: having obstacles both on John’s and Roxy’s ends in the prospect of them getting together. John develops a closer relationship with Terezi on Earth C after she leaves to search for Vriska and he becomes more isolated, while Roxy settles down with Calliope since John ended up so distant. I wouldn’t doubt that both relationships played a part in John and Roxy not getting together in the credits.

JOHN: hey, what are you even still doing here?
JOHN: weren’t you going to go with dave, and get ready for battle?

TEREZI: Y3S
TEREZI: 1’M JUST G1V1NG H1M 4ND H1S BRO SOM3 T1M3 TO TH3MS3LV3S F1RST
TEREZI: 1 4M SUR3 TH3Y COULD US3 1T
TEREZI: 4ND WH4T3V3R TH3 H3LL 1S GO1NG ON B3TW33N TH3M
TEREZI: TH3 L4ST TH1NG 1 W4NT TO DO 1S 1NVOLV3 MYS3LF
TEREZI: TH4T SOUNDS 3V3N MOR3 4WKW4RD TH4N L1NG3R1NG 4ROUND YOU GOOFY BUNCH OF N3RDS B31NG 4LL CUT3 4ND MUSHY W1TH YOUR HUM4N F4M1LY 4ND FR13NDSH1P STUFF
JOHN: yeah, you sure do sound put off by it.
JOHN: all hanging on our every word and such. :p

TEREZI: 1T T4K3S 4 W1LL OF 1RON, TRUST M3
JOHN: uh huh.
JOHN: but yeah, i actually do agree…
JOHN: it does sound pretty awkward to be around dave and his bro while they, um.
JOHN: get to know each other, i guess?

TEREZI: YUP

Terezi’s choice to leave the Striders alone in their difficult emotional reunion probably doesn’t relate to her difficulty being heartfelt and friendly. She’s smart enough to know that the Striders won’t be able to start the fight without going through this reunion and thus chooses not to join them until they’ve had their reunion and are ready to fight.

JOHN: i’m not sure how well dave really even knew his adult bro, actually.
JOHN: aside from bogusly idolizing him, in a way that was really transparent that he didn’t.

Fans love to portray John as thick-headed, and passages like this show that his brain is FAR less of a brick than fans like to imagine. He always knew that Dave’s idolization of his bro was repressive bogus, but he never had it in him to tell Dave as much aside from some playful jabs. Now that he’s matured some, he’s starting to genuinely worry about how smoothly Dave and Dirk’s reunion will (or won’t) go.

JOHN: i wonder…
JOHN: i wonder how different dirk is from him, if at all?
TEREZI: 1 WOULDN’T B3 TH3 ON3 TO 4SK
JOHN: what do you think, rose?
ROSE: I don’t think there’s anyone who could answer that.
ROSE: I suspect literally no one in the history of anywhere has ever met both people.
ROSE: Until, as of now, Dave himself.

JOHN: …
JOHN: i hope dave’s ok.

John gets us thinking back to Dave’s scenes in Act 2, inviting readers to worry about the Strider reunion just as much as John is. There’s no way for anyone on the platform to guess how the reunion will go—this is truly something that we’ll have to see onscreen.

We’re halfway through the fake select screen now! Next up is Roxy’s solo section, but first there’s a few images in the select screen that I’d like to go through. In the Striders’ scene, Dave gets out a familiar-looking computer. Considering a certain ship, I begrudgingly (not that begrudgingly) admit that the presence of Karkat’s crab-themed computer is a cute touch.

Meenah’s second fantasy (and I think all others from here on out) is highly reminiscent of the Condesce, in this case her love of money and glory, particularly in the humorous scene at the very end of Act 6 Act 5. These fantasies do a great job reminding us that despite everything, the Condesce and Meenah are deep down the same person.

Call me biased, but I find it pretty sweet that specifically John is thinking about Roxy right now.

It’s fitting to follow a flirty scene with John and Terezi with a reminder of John’s feelings towards Roxy. The image shown above perhaps gets readers thinking about endgame ships, which Rose had just speculated that Jade may end up debunking.

Roxy’s solo section isn’t a monologue as some readers had speculated—in fact, it contains no words at all. The two panels above, neither of which contain any words, suitably tell us that this whole scene will be wordless.

The visuals of this scene symbolize Roxy narrowing down the concept of the matriorb in a cool way: first the troll universe, then Alternia, then Alternian history with various old scenes featuring the Alternian ancestors…

… and then jade bloods, with a teaser at the extended zodiac. If you don’t remember the extended zodiac, it’s basically an official Sburb aspect/dreaming planet personality quiz that expands upon the trolls’ zodiac signs and expands on the meanings of aspects (but not classes), and the quiz came out in November 2017. This image suggests the extended zodiac was planned back then, and those signs are put to good use here by symbolizing jade bloods beyond just the Maryams.

Please appreciate the eleven exclamation points above Calliope.

And finally, Roxy’s thoughts narrow all the way down to the matriorb, and she creates it in a big triumphant moment. The one problem is that when Roxy does so many positive things throughout A6A6I5, they start feeling a little less special and triumphant, and the matriorb’s creation is no exception.

This callback perfectly conveys the traits that Roxy and John have in common…

… as does this one.

This is the first page in quite a long time to have multiple images on it.
All three callbacks are on the same page.

That said, the 3x callback combo that follows the matriorb’s creation is delightful. The first two callbacks reference scenes with John: the first to him obtaining the Warhammer of Zillyhoo and re-obtaining the Ring of Life, and the second to his adorable victory dance back in Act 2. The victory dance is every bit as adorable when Roxy does it, and if you think otherwise, you’re a liar. The third callback references the line “EGG!” which showed up several times in Act 4, and humorously, it’s in a context with no relation to Dave’s cruxite egg or the Questant’s command station other than, well, eggs. I also like how “EGG!” is this time written in jade bloods’ text color.

Two scenes left! Well, at least for this post. Both of those scenes are short with little dialogue, so we’re almost done with this post. In the fake select screen, the only scene I have something to say about this time is Meenah’s fantasy, which is yet again reminiscent of the Condesce. Both on Alternia and post-scratch Earth, the Condesce liked having juggalo subordinates, and the only juggalo who Meenah knows is Kurloz, so that’s why two copies of him are carrying her in her current fantasy. The pair of clowns carrying Meenah parallels the pair of clowns who spent a decade or so destroying the United States.

Although this scene labels itself as Jasprose and Jane, it starts with a brief interaction between Jasprose and Rose.

JASPROSESPRITE^2: It’s me again!
JASPROSESPRITE^2: Mrr, mrrr, prrp, cat sounds cat sounds, *stretch!!*
ROSE: Euuuugh.
JASPROSESPRITE^2: Miss me Rose?
JASPROSESPRITE^2: Did you know I love you?? Weird thing for me to say and you to hear, probably!
JASPROSESPRITE^2: I inherited the adoration our cat had for you, which now strangely is directed with the exact same intensity at myself, because I’m you!
JASPROSESPRITE^2: Funnily enough this manifests itself in a particularly acute form of narcissism, which is something we were already sort of afflicted by, and so was our cat by the very nature of the sort of animal he was!
JASPROSESPRITE^2: The bottom line is I’m pretty twisted up inside in all the most beautiful ways and it’s wonderful.
ROSE: It really isn’t.

Rose’s interactions with her wacky squared sprite self have quite a bit in common with Dirk’s interactions with his alternate selves. Jasprose reminds Rose of her inner narcissism and rubs it in her face, and it’s not just something she made up. Rose’s character arc has very often centered upon narcissism and thinking she’s always in the right, especially in Act 5 Act 2, and Jasprose is basically what you get when Rose stops keeping so much to herself.

Jane’s extremely pixelated rendition reminds me of those pirate ship scenes in Act 6 Intermission 5, and it brings a smile to my face.

The Unite Synchronization callback, on the other hand, I find a little weird.

JASPROSESPRITE^2: As much as I enjoy getting a load of that GORGEOUS whiskerless mug of yours, it’s not actually why I dropped by.
JASPROSESPRITE^2: I’m here on a curt matter of business with Jane.
JANE: Huh??
JASPROSESPRITE^2: We have to prepare for our healing duties! Hammer out a strategy and such. Really sink our claws into the expensive upholstery of that problem.
JASPROSESPRITE^2: But first, I have somewhere to take you!
JANE: What?
JANE: W-where?

JASPROSESPRITE^2: There is someone you really must meet before we all start skittering across the great laminated floor of combat.
JASPROSESPRITE^2: As the ghostly spiritual guide of whomever my whims decide I should be serving any given moment, I can’t allow another second to pass without introducing the two of you.
JANE: Who?
JASPROSESPRITE^2: This way!!! :3 :3 :3 :3 :3

Due to, oh let’s say squared sprite knowledge, Jasprose has taken it into her hands (by which I mean her paws) to make an obligatory character conversation happen. She’s starting to become a fallback character for making characters unite, kind of like Gamzee’s role as a fallback for resolving plot points.

Looks like the trickster arc vegetation on LOCAH has started to fade away.

This is a statue of Hemera, Jane’s denizen.
Even though she’s one of those denizens who plays no plot role, it’s nice to see a depiction of her regardless.

And that character conversation turns out to be Jane and Nannasprite! This portion of the fake select screen was quite a bit-and-switch: it turned out not to be a conversation between Jane and Jasprose, but rather leadup to a conversation between Jane and Nannasprite. I’m quite looking forward to analyzing the conversation two posts from now, allowing for one last bit of Jane analysis before this post series is concluded. The only real Jane analysis I’ve done so far in A6A6I5 was when John and Jake talked about Jane, and even that wasn’t very long.

In the fake select screen, we see that Dave has put away Karkat’s computer, indicating that he and Dirk are very slowly getting ready to have their reunion for real. I recall a few fans speculating that Dave went on the computer to make some SBaHJ comics, and that sounds very believable.

When talking to Terezi, John breaks out of his friendly goober mode.

With Jane gone, John, Rose, and Terezi have descended into full chaotic argument mode. Black Rose/Jasprose is a ship that’s, interestingly enough, only explicitly teased via fake select screen images, and it gives similar vibes to black Karkat/Karkat. As for John and Terezi, their snarky interactions have always been legendary, and now they’ve flown off the handle but we don’t even get to read them.

The eighth section of the fake select screen, and the last one in this post, starts with Roxy and Calliope situated outside Jade’s house. It’s always nice to see the beta kids’ houses make occasional returns in Act 6 Act 6; feels like the comic is remembering where it began.

ROXY: you can stay here with the others until this all blows over!
CALLIOPE: with who, exactly?
ROXY: jade!!
ROXY: she sleepin
ROXY: please keep an eye on her k?
CALLIOPE: yes, of coUrse!
CALLIOPE: i’d be happy to.

ROXY: also a man they call the mayor is here
ROXY: i dunno much about the dude myself but APPARENTLY he is a hell of a guy
ROXY: give him my regards
CALLIOPE: i will.

When Roxy puts it this way, the lower floor of Jade’s house seems almost like a supporting characters’ club where Jade, Calliope, and the Mayor will hang around during the final battles, which is funny but also irksome because Jade is supposed to be one of Homestuck’s four main characters.

ROXY: so
ROXY: yeah
ROXY: if we make it thru this
ROXY: ill come back for you
ROXY: and then
ROXY: we figure out what happens next!
CALLIOPE: i can’t wait.
ROXY: hope ur not sick of hearin it yet
ROXY: but im still so psyched youre with us
CALLIOPE: of coUrse i’m not sick of it!
ROXY: it is just
ROXY: errgh
CALLIOPE: ?
ROXY: callie in times such as these…
ROXY: ya know
ROXY: words have trouble cuttin it
ROXY: ca’mere

I’m trying to think from the perspective of fans who like Roxy and Calliope’s relationship more than Roxy and John’s. For them, this scene must be extremely heartwarming, rather than moderately heartwarming. It’s clear that regardless of any feelings for John, Calliope’s friendship means the world to Roxy, and that’s undeniable. Although if you don’t mind me ruining the moment, it’s still bizarre that her friendship seems to mean nowhere near as much to the other three alpha kids.

For all we know, Roxy could have slapped Calliope in the face in this scene.
I mean, if you put aside how that makes absolutely no sense.

The exact contents of Roxy and Calliope’s final moment before Collide are withheld from the reader, and I must admit that the ambiguity of the scene is as powerful as it is thematically fitting. As a void player, Roxy unconsciously (or consciously?) interacted with the narrative to withhold her final moment with Calliope from readers’ eyes, leaving them to decide for themselves whether it was a kiss or a hug or something harder to describe.

ROXY: keep me in ur thoughts ok?
ROXY: in the luckiest and magickest way you kno how
CALLIOPE: i will, roxy. ^u^
ROXY: now if u will excuse me
ROXY: i got a delivery to make!

With Roxy and Calliope’s symbolically ambiguous final moment complete, the eighth section of the character select screen ends, as does this post.


Excited. Emotional. Excited. Emotional. Excited. Emotional. Like a pendulum, my brain oscillates between these two states when thinking about how close I am to finishing my Homestuck post series once and for all. Right now, it’s on the excited side, but it’ll no doubt switch to the emotional side when I get through Dave and Dirk’s reunion, a lengthy scene that nearly made me cry the first time I read it. For now, though, I can’t help but celebrate the fact that I have as few posts left as Homestuck has acts (at least if we’re speaking on a technical level). Seven is a fun number with a flair of whimsy to it, but I’m afraid there’s no whimsy to be found in my seventh last post.

See you next time for a post dedicated entirely to Dave and Dirk’s real doozy of a reunion. Also, random trivia: I published this post during a vacation, and unless I end up finishing the next post by August 1, this will probably be the last time I ever publish a Homestuck post on vacation.

>> Part 134: The Ultimate Strider Feelings Jam

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