"Sweet mother of fuck." Karkat's frustration was rising exponentially.

"Quiet, Vantas." Terezi sounded dead serious, and it started to make him nervous. At this point, he would rather she call him Karkles. At least then he could be sure she hadn't just tricked him into thinking he could trust her, like he was some naïve little wriggler…oh god. If he needed to use his sickles, he wouldn't be able to with these handcuffs on oh god he'd been so stupid stupid st-

"Wait a minute," Vriska said, interrupting Karkat's inner panic monologue, "something seems oddly…famiiiiiiiiliar about this criminal you've got here, Pyrope. Why, if I didn't know any better, I'd say I'd seen him before."

"We grew up together," Terezi mumbled, no longer leaning on her cane but gripping it horizontally between fidgeting fingers.

"What was that?" Vriska asked, her voice teasing.

Terezi's grin was suddenly back in full force and the tip of her sword was pointing straight at Vriska's neck. How had she-?

"Can it, Serket."

Vriska swallowed nervously, then her face cracked into a smile wide enough to rival Terezi's.

"What's that look for?" Terezi moved her blade closer to Vriska's skin.

"Terezi, watch out!" Karkat shouted.

She swung around to deflect Tavros's lance. It flew from his grip and skittered across the floor towards the fleeing, panicking crowd, but before Karkat could warn her again, Vriska had Terezi in a headlock.

She couldn't use her sword effectively in this position, and Karkat was powerless to help her. "Fucking handcuffs!"

Terezi struggled to unclasp the pouch on her belt and dig the key out, then stretched her arm out towards Karkat. He dashed forward to her and she waved the key at the handcuffs, which disengaged and clattered to the floor. She was fighting for air now…

One quick sickle strike, clumsy but forceful, and Vriska released Terezi to hold her wound. Terezi leapt away to stand side by side with Karkat, while Tavros sat nearby looking as uncertain as ever.

Clutching her bleeding face with one hand, Vriska started laughing hysterically.

"What's so funny, bitchface? Karkat growled.

She ignored him, and addressed Terezi instead. "I never knew you could be such a liiiiiiiiar, Pyrope."

Although no one could see it through her veil, Terezi blinked. She was alert but still catching her breath.

"So you're in cahoots with this supposed criminal!"

There was no reason to continue trying to deceive her, especially since there was no one around anymore to witness and report Terezi's treason. "Hahahaha…ha…ha ha ha. You got me." She shrugged, grinning again.


At this, Vriska seemed to suddenly remember that her kismesis was present. Without taking her eye (the one her hand wasn't covering) off of Terezi and Karkat, she remarked to him, "Tavros, you're just so completely uuuuuuuuseless in combat."

"Y-you're not much better," he retorted, "if you can't even, uh, fight two people at once, even though you have all your limbs working."

"Oh, fuck you," Vriska replied, and her tone of voice made it sound like she wanted to right then and there.

"Get a respiteblock!" Karkat shouted. He had nothing against public displays of concupiscent feelings, but he really, really felt like shouting at someone.

"We already haaaaaaaave one," Vriska gloated, "on our ship. Do you have a ship? Noooooooo."

"You're awfully cocky for a self-important bitch whose ugly-ass face just got maimed by a complete amateur." Karkat spontaneously decided it was more important to show how lame Vriska was than to keep up any pretense that he actually knew how to fight.

"Oh, this little scratch?" she scoffed, pulling her hand away to reveal a nasty gash between her eye and cheekbone. "This is nothing. And besides, I have faaaaaaaar too many irons in the fire to care about such a superficial wound. I think the only important thing here is…What exaaaaaaaactly is the deal with you two?"