SPOILERS FOR ...6009 [S] CASCADE ONWARDS.

Author note: OK, so this is the first fanfic I've ever written and, actually, pretty much the only thing I've written in months and completed in years (having a bit of writing difficulty of late...) so please be nice! WV is my favourite exile, bless him. Basically, I just got to thinking 'at what point did WV find out about the other exiles?' so I wrote it. Hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer: All the usuals, Homestuck and characters therein belong to Andrew Hussie of MSPA and, unfortunately, not me. If I owned WV I'd give the little guy a big hug and all the green things he can eat.


Facing the Truth

You can feel the wetness soaking through to your carapace. Your heart feels heavy, like at any moment it might give up and stop beating. You look down. The dirty water of the river pushes against you, interlaced with swirling streaks of red that writhe like liquid smoke. Standing here now you get an intense feeling of déjà vu… Your head turns, knowing exactly what it is you will see. Yes, a chequered battlefield strewn with bodies. It would have been strewn with bodies anyway in time… such was the course of war… but here, in this moment, you know you killed them. They might have lived otherwise. They might have found another way. Anything might have happened if you hadn't doomed them all.

You wipe your brow and find your hand not only damp but sticky. Blood. Were you injured? You feel sure you would have noticed. Nevertheless, the bright scarlet is dripping over your gnarled hand and up your arm, covering it so utterly that it looks stained beneath. In horror, you hold it up… and watch as the blood runs over the golden ring and flies away like lightning. No!

You can feel something rising within you… rippling though you…

… the throbbing pain consuming your body… but bizarrely it feels so far away, almost belonging to someone else even though you haven't the strength to move a muscle, hardly to breathe, not even to open your eyes… One flicker… one tiny blurry glimpse… and you see her, kneeling beside you, tears running silently down her grubby cheeks, but she is not sobbing… she is too stunned, too distraught, to cry…

So much red… In all probability those random squishy things were yours, not on the inside where they were meant to be… and your own blood is pooling around you. There was blood soaked into her clothes too… yours…? Hers…? Someone else's…?

…Noir's? You can but hope… It… would be… nice… to… h…

...

You gasp and your eyes flutter open, heavy and sore. There is silence all round you, but for a few moments you don't trust your ears to hear the truth. Time goes hazy again and the second time you are more aware, trying to look around you to see who… or what… is there. But there is no one.

The room is bare, desolate, grey and unwelcoming. You see that you are in a bed; not of the kind you had imagined in your dream, but one that has seemingly been put together in a hurry from anything and everything. Not one of the bedposts is the same and you appear to be lying on material sewn together like a haphazard quilt, ranging from tattered rags to odd furry plush, and stuffed with a range of soft goodness-knows-what. Another thinner sheet covers you and you realise to your horror that it is all between you and open indignity.

Was it real? Is this real? This is not one of the metal shells from the desert, you are sure of that, and there is no sign of Can Town here. PM… where is she? Are you dead? Do… do carapaces have an afterlife? Perhaps… perhaps this is it… Alone… naked… and in silence… doomed to wander a barren, deserted labyrinth as payment for your wretched life.

Was it real? You dare to lift the blanket and finds, on your abdomen, a large area of discolouration to show your mortal wound. It was real then… but the Slayer surely could not have attacked you alone and then absconded… not his style… not at all. Did you witness your friend dying by your side? Had that blood been hers after all? Perhaps… perhaps you could have tried harder to reach for her… to hold her hand and comfort her…

It might be too much to expect her to be here with you… around the next corner… in the next room… the others too… Hope is a flame that is easily dampened and it seems all but extinguished now. Perhaps it is better this way… to be taken by surprise… to end your life relatively quickly and not see the consequence of Noir's obtaining of the second ring. Maybe by the end, this place would be standing room only.

They are dead. They must be dead. Again… Your tired and aching body feels like solid stone as you try to move, twisting and turning until your legs swing down to touch the floor. With a grunt of perseverance you push yourself upright but you find yourself quickly sprawled on the floor, exposed and drained. You could get up, but what is the point? Your breaths come out in ragged gasps, but through the effort you realise that at least you are breathing. Reluctant and unmotivated to find what your fate may be now, you stare blankly across the floor until your eyes focus on a pile by the side of the bed. There is a neatly coiled length of cable, complete with the little label that you made in what right now seems like utter foolishness. Someone has cleaned it, but even now you can see the flecks of red congealing between the strands. It is on top of a grey piece of cloth, but this is not your attire. It is clean, unscathed, whole, devoid of signs of wear or slaughter…

You lose track of time, slumped there… until eventually your consciousness is reawakened by the sound of soft footfalls and a pair of kind hands lift you gently but firmly back onto the bed. Although your body fails to resist, your heart panics and stomach churns as your naked form is carefully positioned and settled. When you tilt your head, you see the eyes looking directly at yours with no sign of malice or interest with your physical vulnerability, only a duty of care.

"The… others…?" you manage to ask, forcing each word from an unwilling throat. You do not really want to hear the answer. In your heart, you already know it. But hope… hope…

The human female sits on the edge of the bed and you can see sympathy on her face in the ages before she answers. "Your friend… the Prospitian woman… she brought you here. She is following us… you'll see her again."

You would be more joyous did you not have the suspicion you were being lied to, or at least that this was not the whole truth, but part of you wants to believe that it will all be OK. Questions arise quickly in your mind- how? How did she live? How did she escape the Slayer? How did she escape the desert?

"The… others… Renegade… White…"

She places a hand on your shoulder and you stare at it, confused. Evidently you didn't eat this far into your book.

"I'm sorry," she whispers. "There is only you and your friend."

You stare blankly at her alien face as you process this information. It was never warm in this room, but a chill has consumed you now, running down the hard shell of your back right into your toes, filling every vein and artery until you shiver with its icy grip. You knew… you just didn't want to believe.

"Even… even AR…?"

Only this morning you had sat together by the fire… talking together… laughing together… debating- never arguing, oh no- debating with each other the democracy and legalities in Can Town or whatever mutual topic arose from such a start… With AR's enthusiasm for law enforcement and your own mayoral prowess… you… you…

She sees the tear roll from your eye and down your impassive cheek. You think you see her own bizarre orbs start to fill with water too, feeling your pain. The Slayer… twice you have faced that monster and twice now you have been spared… why? WHY? You feel that this time you have somehow cheated him, that you were not meant to have lived through this wound and perhaps you should not have done… but surely the Slayer would not have made a mistake… The White Queen… dead… Her long awaited White King… little doubt dead too… and AR… dear AR… he could imagine every body… every stroke… On that vile battlefield he had seen the handiwork of the beast and in his mind he can see a hundred and one ways that his friends were mutilated. Over and over…

Your mouth opens and shuts a few times soundlessly, trying to force sound from within until at last, hoarsely, it bursts out like water overflowing a dam. "She is coming? PM? She's coming? I… I want her… I need her…"

The human's face does not become any better. "She has more important things to do right now," the words come quietly. "She… she picked up the ring… She became…" The words 'like Jack' fill the air, potent although unspoken. "… prototyped… That's how she took you to safety… and she must follow us her own way."

You nearly retch. Her beautiful pale face… the kindly eyes… the images you have held onto in hope for the last few minutes mutate angrily into the dark stare of the Slayer himself. The scar across her cheek… her arm brutally severed… great gnashing teeth in an aggressive snout… the sword… vile sword… and it feels like your fault. Isn't it always your fault? You made it so all those soldiers… all the farmers… all the everyone who followed you that day were butchered and torn apart alongside your stupid fantasies of victory and peace. Why didn't you just stay in your little house? Why didn't you just go and cry and then re-sow the seeds of your ruined crop? If you hadn't been a fool… and now look what you have done… your people slain… twice… not daft metal containers surrounded by chalk but real people… You were wrong… there isn't an afterlife to make you pay… there is only enduring life itself sticking the knife into you and watching you suffer. The desert wasn't your little farm and times had been hard… but they'd been happy times. Now, never again, you think. Never again.

She lifts you up and embraces you as you start to sob, cradling your head against her soft chest. Wouldn't it be better to just… give up… You cannot win… and they cannot come back again, except endlessly in the swirling nightmares of your dream bubbles. You are a failure…

You are a failure.