Some really cool stuff goes down... Well, not really... ;)
It has been nice on earth. I don't remember much of Dissimila, but I like earth alright. It's my twin sister, Natsu, which worries me. She is prone to seizures where she will kick or make sudden movements and sometimes scream. I get nervous when she does that. I talk to her about it, not in front of our parents, but in my mind. We seem to be linked somehow. Our family is settling down in Theresa's new house. Her nana passed away while we were in Dissimila. In truth they had been gone five years, time was different in Dissimila. Theresa bought us a big house that all seventeen of us share. Alex and Sarang work full time to help pay for expenses in case money runs thin and the rest of us attend school and try to get used to normal life. Most of us do well in school, with natural aptitudes in many fields. Agripin is happy Haystack showed up. All the Alo's ended up with us. Haystack scares me a little, though. It is eight feet to his back and his giant hooves can eat up more ground than a car. Agripin rides him every day, taking either me or Natsu to ride with him.
"Haru!" it's Natsu. She runs over and tackles me to the ground. I laugh and she laughs with me. I love that laugh. Agripin is rather protective and likes Natsu to stay home from school, but Xuitacoatl says she should know all she can. Da and Father used to argue about it all the time. Then Sarang said she was going and that was that, "Kids at school wonder why you don't talk, Haru."
I, I don't like the sound of my voice. I say in my mind.
"Oh well, Haru," said Natsu, "I love your voice."
"Come on, you two," says the affectionate voice of Nessie, "Agripin will be wondering how you two got so dirty when he gets home from riding."
Nessie and the others help take care of us. You know the old saying, it take a village to raise a child. We have been on earth about a year and Natsu and I have been growing well. We run inside and take turns in the shower, Natsu taking ages in the bathroom 'doing her hair'.
I was doing my hair, Haru, she says.
I know, I was just teasing.
I'm used to sharing my brain with Natsu. When I was born, I felt lonely and like I was waiting for something. Then Natsu was born and she fills that space perfectly. There's just enough space in my head for the both of us and she knows just how not to be intrusive since we've grown up like that. Ria says we are probably the only two siblings who can look at each other without trying to kill the other one.
"I'm home," says Agripin. I skip the carpeted stairs and launch myself off the second story landing. Using the training Krani has been giving me, I land almost perfectly and look at Da expectantly. He says, "Very good, Haru. But you'll give Nessie a heart attack that way."
"Haru!" says Natsu, sliding down the banister, "You keep doing that and someone will get hurt."
No I won't.
"I'm not talking about you," said Natsu, rolling her eyes, "I mean when you crush someone."
I know that, but I'm training.
"Training won't help someone not to get flat."
You know Da is looking at us funny again.
"It's been two years. He should have gotten used to it."
It's not that simple, Natsu.
"What are you two talking about?"
"Nothing Da," said Natsu.
Agripin shook his head like, what am I supposed to do with you two.
It is the next day in class and there's a parent meeting at school. I'm showing off to my friends how good I am at balancing, Father standing close by in case I fall. Anali is smiling and watching me do a perfect handstand when her mom comes over to Father.
"So," she says, the gaudy red lipstick on her mouth making it look like she's been drinking a Cetus's blood, "You must be Natsu's brother."
Father is about to answer when I say, "No. He's my dad."
"I didn't know Natsu was adopted," said Anali's mom, her smile faltering, "Anali was adopted too."
"I'm her biological father," said Father, rubbing his brown hands together.
"Oh," says Anali's mom, "How is that possible? She's only seven years younger than you," she got a confused look on her face, "Who's her mother?"
"I am," says Da, coming up with Haru, "Sort of."
"You can't both be her biological fathers," said Anali's mom.
"They are," I say.
"It was nice meeting you, ma'am," said Da kindly, "But we need to go, I'm afraid."
Da ushers me to the door and we get in Alex's car.
"That was bad, Coat," says Da, "We need to be more careful."
"Why?" I ask, "You are my parents."
"Things don't work here like they do in Dissimila, or even Alternia," says Father gently.
"What's going to happen now?" asked Haru in a squeak of a voice with a lot of gravel thrown in.
"So you do have a voice," says Alex from the front.
Haru pales and sinks lower in his seat. Da pulls him close and says, "Don't worry, Haru. We're a family. Nothing can change that."
Haru closes his eyes and snuggles into to Da's side. I lean into Father and he sets me on his lap and strokes my hair like he did on the day I was born.
It's going to be okay, said a voice in my head and for the first time in my short life, I wasn't sure if it was me or Haru.
Two weeks after the school incident Natsu and Haru were still being kept at home. Agripin and Xuitacoatl decided it was time they turned thirteen. Of course, when they go back to school, they will still tell people they're twelve. They would just be treated like they were thirteen at home.
There was a gentle knocking at my bedroom door. I look up and Nessie walks in. She sits down on the bed and sighs. She sighs a lot. I don't know why or if it's normal girl behavior or maybe I did something wrong. I sit up slowly; testing for signs this is the wrong reaction. Seeing none I proceed to put my arms around Nessie. She starts to cry, her head in her hands and I shoot back. So much for the tactical approach.
"What's wrong Nessie?" I ask, chucking any warnings that you never ask a girl what's bothering them out the window.
"Nothing," she hiccups. I told you not to, "I just feel sad."
Score: Gamzee one, conscience three million.
"I just do. I thought maybe you could cheer me up."
I decide it's too late to go back to any good response, "I'll try."
Then I put my arms around her and kiss her again. She doesn't even try to resist, and neither do I. I wish the kiss could last for days and it almost feels like it does. We break apart and she looks up at me from her position on the bed, her eyes bright. She reaches up and gently touches my face. I feel the deep rumbling start in my chest. I didn't know I could still do that. Nessie started purring too, hers softer, more feline. The sound of it was almost like music, weaving in and out of the air in differing notes and harmonies. I have never heard Nessie purr. It was the ultimate symbol of devotion and love to hear someone purr with feeling and conviction. We needed nothing else. Humans say, 'I love you'. We purr. Nessie sat up and we stood up together. I went to the door with her and that's when we heard it. Screaming. Can't I get a moment of peace?
We run downstairs and find the worst has happened.
I haven't spent enough time today watching the twins. I turn my back for a moment and something happens. I hear Natsu screaming and run outside. Haru is standing on the lawn, a dagger in his hand, his now healed arm still dripping hazel blood. I though his blood had changed. It must be because of its healing powers. A man is holding Natsu in his arms in a hostile way a few yards away. Everyone is standing stock still.
"Set down my sister," says Haru.
"Now son," says a big man. He sets his gun down and holds up his hands. He is dressed in a black suit. Scary men in suits...? "Don't do anything dangerous."
"It's kind of too late for that," says Haru in his strange voice. The dagger is poking him right in the chest. The man advances slightly and Haru presses harder, enough to see a tiny stain on his shirt starting to spread, "Let her go! Do it! Or I'll kill myself right now and you won't get to know what I am."
They let go of Natsu at a signal from the big man. They scooped up Haru and he looked me in the eyes.
"Take care of Natsu. And this isn't your fault. I love you, Ignee Arra." I didn't know he knew the Dissimilian word for aunt.
The car pulled away and left Natsu convulsing on the ground kicking and screaming where they left her. I went to her and held her close. Her fist collided with my face, but I knew to wait these things out. It might not be how to treat a real seizure, but it works for Natsu. It doesn't stop and realize her convulsions have turned to sobs.
I hear pounding footsteps behind me and then Gamzee and Nessie and Agripin and everyone else in the house outside.
"Arra!" yells Agripin, "What the hades happened?"
"They took that kid. They think he's a Gifted."
I look around and see a girl with sideways pupils like a goat. Though, to me they look more like a squid's eyes.
"What is that supposed to mean?" said Agripin, usually good tempered but now brimming with hostility, "Who took him? And what's a Gifted?"
"A while back people did illegal experiments on kids. Spicing DNA here, inserting genes here," she said casually, her black hair blowing in the wind, "That's the Gifted. They let all the kids go before they knew they were special, and now they need to round them up. They think your boy is what they're looking for. And are you his brother?"
"I am," says Natsu through her tears.
"Slow down, Aki," says a slow voice. It sounds measured, calculated, "They are clearly distraught at losing one of their own."
"I am their father," says Agripin, "Who are you two?"
"Squirt," said the girl with octopus eyes, "My genes were spliced with a cuttlefish."
"Ashu, it means quick," says the slow talker. He steps out of the shadows and I see he has long arms ending in three curved claws, "Sloth DNA."
"I'm Manthara, it means slow," says a girl with black hair. From the inner corner of each eye, her skin had been tattooed. The lines ran down her nose and around her mouth, down her neck, came out under her sleeves, spiraled around her arms and ended at the tips of her fingers where it forked on the back of her hand. She had a long spotted tail and fluffy spotted ears, "Spliced with a cheetah. We lost our Moth today, too. We were hoping you could help us."
"Where is my brother?" says Natsu.
"We were hoping you could tell us," Ashu said, "I think you can sense his unique brain waves. You are the most unique twins I have encountered."
"Why the hades are you helping us?" asked Karkat.
"Because," said a girl's voice, "I missed you, Karkitty."
(For your sanity and convenience, I have not included all of the swear words Karkat utters in his own mind.?)
How did she find us? How is he here? What is Nepeta doing on earth? Are the others with her? All these questions and more were flashing through my head when she ran up and tackled Equius, knocking him to the ground. Another thing, she too is human. No blue tail, no cat-ear-like horns, no grey skin. Her hair is a beautiful shade of honey and I feel my heart flip as she turns those big green eyes on me that have not lost any of their cat-ish, lamp-like quality.
"How are you here?" asks Gamzee.
"Tough to say," she says, "No one else is, so I don't know. I went to sleep in Alternia and woke up here."
"Krani," says Sarang, "Where did you put that lion's tooth?'
"In the backyard, inside the," he slaps his forehead, "Inside the pentagram you were using to get the Alos."
"Yay!" says Nepeta, "Not an accident!"
"Yes it was," said Karkat, "Don't be such a brak idiot."
I went over and cuffed her on the head. She only smiled and looked at me with that infuriating smile. I felt my stomach flop again.
It was dark. They told me this wouldn't hurt, just a part of my enhancements, but now I'm blind. I can't see at all. They told me that it would enhance my vision, but now the world is dark. They don't know that drugs affect me differently. And I can' tell them. I can't tell them because without Natsu, I can't speak. I miss her. I miss Natsu like I miss the sun and the light and the colors of the world. I cry. I don't even bother to curl into a ball. I don't care anymore. I know I'm in a crate, I can smell the wood, and it's carpeted with stinking blankets. I don't care. I don't care that flies are buzzing around my head and eyes. I don't care that my breathing is slowing with my irregular heartbeat.
"Hey kid," says a comforting voice, "It's not over."
I don't respond.
"You should live," he says, "You should live for the pure sake of living. Don't give up."
Memories flooded my senses. The feel of the fresh cut grass, the smell of fresh baked rolls, the feel of Natsu beside me as I slept, her beautiful face, and some memories I didn't recognize at all. The feel of spring, the feeling of life flowing through me, the gentle touch of a woman with short brown hair and kind eyes, beautiful memories. I decided that I would do as the voice said and live for Natsu. Suddenly, the darkness didn't seem so dark after all.
What the hades. Just what the hades. I don't understand it. Nepeta has been stalking me for years and I never gave her a second thought. Now I can't stop thinking about her. Her stupid dopey eyes, her once black hair falling around her face, the memory of her jumping me in the alleyway armed with a pair of scissors, the time she stole all of my shirts. Then she vanished from my life and I began to feel for Jay. Looking back on it, she kind of reminded me of Nepeta. Speaking of Nepeta, I can hear her coming up onto the roof. She has been clinging to either me or Equius since half of our number went out to find Haru. I climbed to the roof where I knew she would find me. It took longer than I thought. I have been up here for about three hours and I'm getting cold.
"Karkitty?" she says. I try to look annoyed rather than pleased.
"What the hades do you want?" I snap.
"I'm sorry, Karkitty," she says, "I'll go."
"No," I say. Brak it, I've really dug myself in this time.
"No. I get it. You don't have to say that to make me feel better, Karkitty. I won't bombard you with one sided love anymore," Nepeta says and I hear the tears in her voice, "Everyone says we're a joke, that nothing is ever going to happen between us. But I love you. I love you Karkat. I don't care that you have problems, because I have them too. And I really do love you. But if you don't love me too, I'll leave you alone because I want you to be happy."
I hear her start to descend the ladder and jump up. I haul her back up onto the roof and pull her into a hug. I feel the tears rolling down my face and I can tell she's crying too. I burry my face in her hair and breathe in her scent. She smells like lemon and mint and grass, my favorite smells. I realized they are my favorite smells because they're her scent. Then I start to feel a little dizzy and figure out the scent. Brak it. It's catnip. I push her away and she goes back to the ladder. Then she turns around and runs back. She kisses me on the cheek and then descends down the ladder. I sit up on the roof for a long time.
Cancer looks brighter than usual tonight. I gaze at the constellation that used to rule my life and my traits. Who knows, I may be able to change now. I examine the stars again and it still looks like Leo is pouncing on Cancer, but tonight it looks like the crab is ready to catch the lion.
How could it have been so long? Two weeks. Two weeks of sitting on pins and needles, two weeks of agony, two weeks of regret, two weeks of fear. How much more of this can we all take? Xuitacoatl won't let anyone in to see Nessie, but I wish I was in there. I wasn't sure it would work since I'm an Alternian, but apparently it is.
Xuitacoatl opens the door and I stand up. He nods and I rush inside, Krani and the others hot on my heels. I run to the bedside and see Nessie first. She looks at me with her big brown eyes and smiles. She opens her arms a little, showing me our child. She has russet brown hair and when she looks at me her dark eyes seem to reflect a little purple. I picked her up, wrapping her tiny, birdlike body in my jacket. Her heartbeat was fast, fluttering like a bird, and she was so frail. I was afraid if I dropped her she would break like china.
"Let's call her Eveliina," I say.
"Yes," says Nessie, standing up to stand by me, "She is like a little bird."
"Eveliina," I say. I feel tears welling up in my eyes as she reaches up and touches my face with her delicate fingers. I fight back the tears and then wonder why. The tears fall and I start to purr. Nessie joins me and I hear a little shaky purr in there too. I look down at Eveliina, her brow furrowed with effort. I hug her closer and she puts her ear to my chest as I continue to purr. This is a good day.
They keep taking me out and making me run. They don't know I'm blind. I don't even know who they are. I go out almost every day; they draw blood and then make me run. I collapsed the other day and they shocked me until I could drag myself up and run through the maze again. I feel like a rat. I wish I could tell them how I feel. I can't though. I want to speak, but I can't. It's like all the words inside me died. I'm lying panting on the floor of my crate.
"Hey kid," says the voice, "You okay?"
I don't respond. I open my mouth and try to form words but I can't.
"I wish I could hear your voice," he says, "I can see you through the crate walls, though."
Just then I hear a loud crash. I feel the front of my crate being ripped off and feel comforting arms around me. I cry and cry in the arms of Da. I know it's him because he smells like himself. I know we're moving because I can hear the ba-dump ba-dump of his feet on the ground. I soon feel the best feeling in the world. It's the soft hands of my sister.
Haru! I missed you so much!
I feel her settling back into my head, like a cat that circles in its favorite spot. I felt her searching my head and knew she knew I was blind.
"Haru," she said softly.
I can't see out of my eyes.
There was a short pause. Then you shall see through mine.
I felt my senses flooding with information. I was looking out at a valley. It was a beautiful shade of green. I looked down and saw the long delicate fingers of my sister, the tattered school dress, the long blowing hair, her bare feet. I looked behind me expecting to see Natsu, and saw myself. I looked terrible. My skin was pale and peeling, my eyes clouded and every bone in my body showing through.
What happened, Natsu?
We switched. So you could see through my eyes.
Will we stay like this?
Only if you want to.
Just for a little while.
My mind is your mind.
I laughed. The laughter was strange, the high twinkling laughter of Natsu. This was going to take some getting used to. I looked out on the valley, the sun just barely peeking out from the horizon. It was the most beautiful sight I've ever seen.
It's been three days. I heard Nepeta is with child. She's not doing well though. The baby is growing too fast. The adults don't want me to know, they say I'm too young, but I want to know. I don't like being left out.
"What are you doing up here?" asks my dad. He is sitting next to me in the tree. I start a little because he came up completely silently. I smile and throw myself at him. He catches me, swinging upside-down in the process. I hang onto his strong, reliable hands. Gamzee is hanging upside-down, his knees hooked around the branch. He begins to swing me back and forth and I laugh. He drops down and scoops me up in his arms. We go back to the house and find a group of weary people at our door. Gamzee sets me down and goes to them. He embraces the one with horse ears and a boy in his arms.
"Who's that, daddy?" I ask.
"Daddy?" asks the man, "What have you been doing while I was gone?"
"Agripin," says Gamzee, "This is my daughter Eveliina."
"I'm Agripin," says Agripin, "These are my children, Haru and Natsu."
"Um Da," says the girl, "I'm Haru."
"What?" says Agripin, "Since when?"
"Since Natsu switched us," said the girl named Haru.
"I," said Agripin, "Why did you switch?"
"Because I wanted to see you," she/he said, "Natsu is fine being blind for a while. She doesn't mind. It's only for a little while."
"Well," says Gamzee, "Come on in."
And then the screaming started. Gamzee ran inside with the rest of Agripin's group. There was a long, drawn out scream and then everything was quiet. Eerily quiet.
I think we broke science. Nepeta had her child today. Or rather, we removed her child. Nepeta didn't survive. The child is ten years old. Haru and Natsu switched back. Xuitacoatl asked Karkat what he wanted to name the boy, and Karkat pushed right past him and went up onto the roof. I can hear him sobbing. He blames himself for her death. Xuitacoatl says the child is healthy enough. He sleeps a lot, so we call him Dorme, the Spanish verb 'he sleeps'.
"Eridan!" I hear Karkat coming down off the roof. I see him running down the hallway, "Get the kids together, bar all the doors and get to the Underground."
I sound the alarm and we all head for the secret stairs. The Underground is a series of tunnels we built to protect us. I gather three of the four kids and I think people are coming down, but then I hear loud noises and only Gamzee, Equius and Xuitacoatl come down after me. When all the quaking stops we go upstairs to find most of the others huddled in the corner.
"LET GO OF ME, YOU-!" Karkat is being held down by Agripin and Sarang. He is also swearing at the top of his lungs.
"What is it Karkat?" I ask.
"My son, brak it!" he says, "Where is he?"
"He was with Nessie," says Gamzee.
We go upstairs and find Nessie in the closet of their room. Karkat's son is holding onto her, his eyes closed. He has sandy blonde hair and a thin figure. I help him up and Nessie slumps to the side, her mouth open. Her eyelids too are slightly open.
"No," whispers Gamzee from the doorway. He runs to her side and cradles her limp form in his arms. He arms hang loose, her hand open. He takes it and hugs her close, rocking slightly tears running down his face, smearing his makeup, "No. No. No. No. No."
"G-Gamzee?" Biancha says quietly, "Are you alright?"
He starts muttering inaudibly and she lays her hand on his shoulder. His head snaps up, his eyes full of a dark light. In a split second he flips her to the ground, there is a snap and her arm lays limp by her side. I try hard not to move, not even breathe, as he throws himself against the walls and floor, howling like a wounded animal. He slams into a wall and I hear the crunch of bones. He doesn't even notice his useless arm hanging at his side. I slowly back up, pushing the child behind me. Gamzee spins around, and looks straight at me. He is walking low to the ground, stalking like a lion tormenting its prey. I sense his muscles tense and push Dorme against the wall, shielding him with my body. I feel Gamzee's nails rake my back as he attacks.
"Father?" says a quiet voice. I want to call out to Eveliina that it's not her father in this room, that her only hope is to run, but I can't, "Father. It's me, Eveliina. I'm sorry, but it's going to be okay. It will be fine. We will be fine. I love you."
I look at her and see something miraculous. Eveliina was pulsing with a faint red light and her eyes glowed with a strong dark purple one. Gamzee started towards her and then I saw the frenzied sickness fade from his eyes. He slumped to the ground and she went to him. As the light faded Eveliina embraced Gamzee as startled tears ran down his face and she held onto him. Yup, we broke science.
It's dark. Somewhere in the dark a hand grabs my arm. I thrash and squirm, trying to get away from its cold, nonliving grip. Then I wake up and find an unfamiliar face peering down at me. I feel strong hands holding me down and realize the cold hand is a cloth that has been wrapped around my arm.
"He's coming around."
"I think Alternia collapsed," I hear a familiar growling voice and almost cry with relief. I look for the owner of the voice and find who I was looking for. Gamzee Makara's rough face is not far away. His skin is not grey anymore; it's a lighter shade of white. He has his hands in his pockets and an unfamiliar girl holds onto his arm, "You can let go now, Agripin."
"Okay," says a voice. I feel the arms release me and look around a little better. Immediately pain lances through my arm. I swing my legs off the bed and am so startled I fall back onto it. I could feel the ground. I wasn't paralyzed anymore.
"What?" I say.
"Welcome to Earth," mutters Karkat from the corner, he looks sullen and a little boy hold onto his hand as he sleeps, "Population... trying to kill us."
"But, but," I say, completely at a loss, "How did this happen?"
"Miracles, bro," says Gamzee with a wan smile, "Miracles."
A girl with short hair and a faded shirt with the symbol of Sagitta on it rolls her eyes, "No, not miracles. Though you could call it that. When you exit the game, you are whole once more, or some s**t like that."
"Arra," says the male with brown hair and glasses, "Behave yourself."
"You're not my mother, Sarang," says the female.
"That is plain enough," says a male with a Grus shirt with a snigger.
"I'm sorry," says the male named Sarang with a sigh of tattered patience, "We're all a little on edge since the fighting started."
I open my mouth to ask more questions, but think better of it.
"The humans know that the kids have powers. They're after them now. We're summoning people to aid us in our cause. We hope you will consider helping us."
I don't really know what to say when Vriska walks in, her hand on her hip, her left pupil still split into eight sections, her dark brown hair as bushy as ever, "You know, you can't say no. There's nothing to go back to."
"Vriska," I squeaked and then I blushed. But it was a justified squeak. Vriska is a bully and she likes, scratch that, loves to make me uncomfortable in any way possible, whether that is punching me just softly enough I don't pass out or simply saying the right thing.
"Hey Tavros," she says.
"Who else is here?" I ask.
"You're the last one," says Equius.
"Ok," I say, "I have one last question. Whose kids are we protecting?"
"Mine," says Gamzee, Karkat, Agripin and the tall Hydrus male.
"I'm Eveliina," says the girl on Gamzee's arm, "I emulate emotions."
"This is Dorme," says Karkat, stroking the boy on his lap's hair, "We think he can sap people's energy. He never stays away longer than five minutes so it's hard to tell."
"Natsu and I can switch people," says the little girl with dark hair and chocolate eyes. She indicates the boy standing close by with clouded eyes and dark skin, "And this is my brother Haru. His blood has healing powers."
After looking at the kids and the human's dark expressions, I think they might be former trolls, I make my decision.
"I'm in," I squeak.