Your name is KARKAT VANTAS. You are SIXTEEN years old and [for most of your life] have been attending an academy where you are grouped according to your HOROSCOPE SIGN. You just so happen to be the HEAD of CANCER HOUSE, which [you like to think] means that you are the GOD of all the FUCKING IGNORAMUSES who have the same SIGN as you.

"It's like the world's gone to hell and nobody gives a flying fuck," Karkat muttered as he slouched into his overstuffed chair. His grumbled words caught the attention of the Aries Head, Aradia, who had been curled up on another plushy armchair reading a book thicker than the Bible.

Her chocolate-brown eyes flicked up from the massive tome. "Are you referring to the recent earthquakes and fires that have been breaking out?" Her voice was soft, but with absolutely no emotion or infliction in it. She tucked a stray lock of her thick black hair behind her ear and closed her book after carefully marking the page she had left off on.

"No, I'm talking about the amount of fucking calories in the meth-laced energy bars I consume on a regular basis to survive dealing with you fuckasses," he snapped, spitting out the words like rapid-fire bullets from a machine gun.

She shrugged, her face expressionless as usual. "Okay."

Karkat swore under his breath. Okay. She was 'okay' with everything that happened no matter how fucked up it was. She wandered around with that Gogdamn blank look on her face and it freaked the hell out of him out even though they were actually rather close.

Next to her, Sollux, who was his best friend [and the Head of Gemini], shifted and directed a warning glare towards Karkat. "KK, don't get all upthet and throw a hithy fit like you alwayth do," he dictated, working the words around his lisp. "Jutht calm down."

"Yes, it is quite unseemly and serves no purpose other than to distract people," enunciated Kanaya as she looked up, her focus diverted from the fashion sketchbook she always carried around with her. "Besides," she added, "I believe you will soon have something else to bitch about."

Gog, the Virgo even made swearwords sound classy with the way she talked. "And what's the new subject of my never-ending rage and hate?" As he said it, Karkat slumped even deeper into his chair, eyebrows knit together with dark irritation.

The corners of Kanaya's lips twitched upwards. "Well, it would appear that we have new arrivals."

The room was silent for a few seconds as the other eleven Heads processed the information. Karkat was the first to recover. "Are you fucking shitting me? There are new students coming here? May I be at liberty to remind you that we're at a school practically nobody knows about on an island in the middle of the fucking Atlantic ocean? Gog, what the fuck were those fuckasses up at the headmaster's office thinking when they-"

"Chill, bro," slurred Gamzee as he chugged another gulp of Faygo. His clown makeup was smeared all over his Gogdamn juggle face. "It's a motherfuckin' miracle is what it is. Miracles all around." Karkat narrowed his eyes at the clearly-not-sober Capricorn as he prepared to unleash another speech of swearwords and insults.

"Nepeta thinks it's a purrfect opportunity to make more friends!" chimed Nepeta with a large smile on her face. "How many new students are coming?"

Terezi licked her lips and smiled a shark-toothed grin. "Hehehe. I bet they will smell and taste delicious," she chattered, her eyes staring at nothing behind her red-tinted glasses.

"No. You are not going to fucking lick and smell them like you do with everybody else, it's fucking disgusting and-"

Kanaya cut him off before Karkat could go any further. "Eight. They will be arriving tomorrow, so please be courteous." Her eyes slid to Gamzee, who was nearly passed out on his seat. "Or there will be clown hunting," she added ominously.

Tavros laughed nervously from his wheelchair. "Uh, so, do you, uh, know what Houses they'll, uh, be in?" His eyes, large and deer-like, flit between Gamzee and Kanaya, who was [at the moment] staring daggers into the juggalo's back. Karkat huffed and sat up straighter, trying to relieve the sudden ache that had developed in his lower back. Weren't Tauruses supposed to be strong, for fuck's sake? Tavros's stutter and insecurity had always confused the hell out of him.

"No. But we will find out tomorrow. Be at the school entrance by six. In the morning." She sat back down and continued sketching, placid again.

"Hold your breath, Karkles," cackled Terezi, sensing the incoming hurricane of profanity. She felt her way over to him and sat down, accidentally sitting on his lap while she was looking for a seat.

"What the fuck are you doing, Terezi?" he yelled, trying to shove her off without hurting her. "Get the fuck off of me before I-" A bell rang, clear and loud.

"Free period is over! Stop being so glubbing silly and come on, Karkat!" giggled Feferi as she swept towards the door with all the grace of a mermaid. Underwater, of course. Mermaids on land were unfortunately clumsy as shit. But everyone knew that mermaids were fake as shit as well.

And by the time Karkat had successfully extracted Terezi from his lap and followed the rest of his friends out the door, he had completely forgotten what he had been upset about in the first place.

It was the end of the day, and the Heads had retired to their rooms. Karkat was sharing a large double with Sollux, which was simultaneously cool and infuriating. Karkat had just finished showering and was still in the bathroom.

"Tho, are you looking forward to the new thtudentth, KK?" Sollux asked slyly, sitting on his bed and adjusting his bi-colored glasses. He knew very well what the answer to that question was.

"Do you want the long answer or the short answer?" the grumpy teen retorted from the bathroom as he violently brushed his teeth.

"Let'th go with the thort anthwer, then," Sollux answered.

"The short answer is, fuck no," Karkat growled as he spat the glob of minty foam into the sink and rinsed out his mouth. "You already know that, fuckass."

"How many timth do you thay the word 'fuck' in a thingle day?" wondered the other boy as he changed into his pajamas.

Karkat turned off the lights to the bathroom and stepped out, smelling like shampoo and peppermint. "Enough to kill all the fairies that ever dared to exist," he scoffed as he ran his hand through his damp hair. "Enough to make other people wash out their mouths just because they heard me talking. I could write a fucking dictionary of swearword combinations with the word 'fuck'. I could-"

"You could do a lot of thingth, motht of them negatively oriented," finished Sollux as he set his glasses on the dresser next to his bed and slid underneath the covers. His eyes were already shut, which was a bit irritating to Karkat. He had never been able to find out the color of Sollux's eyes because of that and his stupid red-blue glasses.

Sollux was already asleep by the time Karkat had gotten into his bed as well. He reached over and flipped the lightswitch, sending the room into a soft darkness. Only the moon and its entourage of stars remained as light, shining distantly through the window.

And soon, Karkat Vantas was asleep as well, the only time his face was ever relaxed, the only time he didn't have walls of iron around his feelings and himself. The only time he was ever vulnerable.

That night, he dreamt. He and his friends.

Or would it be more accurate to say that they entertained terrifying nightmares? Nightmares of writhing monsters and tumbling corpses and blood and fire and skulls and death. Nightmares that left them fearful and exhausted, running away and facing horrors and the unknown and the fears they kept tucked away in the dark corners of their hearts.

But in the morning they would remember nothing. Nothing but the fear.

Your name is JOHN EGBERT, you are SIXTEEN YEARS OLD and you are currently on a PLANE to an ISLAND in the MIDDLE OF THE ATLANTIC OCEAN. More specifically, you are, along with seven other people who just so happen to be your best friends, their relatives, your sister, and your cousins, TRANSFERRING to a mysterious PRIVATE ACADEMY in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. Apparently they sort you according to your HOROSCOPE, which means you will be in ARIES HOUSE. You are ALMOST THERE, but it is FIVE THIRTY IN THE MORNING and you are suffering from severe JET LAG.

"John, are you awake?"

He turned his head drowsily to face his sister, Jane. "Yeah, I'm awake." He had to blink his eyes a few times and rubbed them behind his rectangular glasses before she came into proper focus.

She smiled. "I think you and I are the only ones who aren't sleeping like they're dead." The eight of them were the only ones on the small plane, and six of them were practically unconscious. The Striders were sitting up straight with their eyes hidden by dark sunglasses, but it was a safe bet that they were sleeping based on the slow breathing and the faint snores. Dave, his best bro, was in the characteristic 'cool guy' pose; arms crossed with that faint smirk on his lips. Gog, how did he pull that off in his sleep? Dirk, who was Dave's older brother by one year, was sitting next to the window and his head was gradually inching towards the glass.

Roxy and Rose were also a part of Dave's family. Actually, it was kind of weird how they were related. Rose and Dave were twins and Roxy and Dirk were twins. Lalonde sisters and Strider bros. John stifled a smile as Roxy rolled over [she had been occupying two seats lying down] and muttered something about a tequila. Rose, on the other hand, had brought a pillow along and had buried her head in it a few hours prior. She came prepared. She was always prepared. It was an awfully nice pillow, embroidered and tasseled. John recalled something about her and Roxy's passive-aggressive one-upmanship showdowns. Apparently the pillow was an indispensable participant in the legendary battles of subtle, ironic 'favors'.

Jade and her brother Jake were curled up on the seats and deep in dreamland. His cousins, John thought wryly, were always sleeping. Jade had narcolepsy and Jake was… Jake was…

Jake was Jake was Jake.

Because that made perfect sense, John groaned, stretching his arms and curling his toes until they popped. The tension in his toes disappeared as he wiggled them around in his sneakers.

"Are you nervous?" Jane whispered, her voice hushed as she looked around at their slumbering friends. Her eyes, a pale blue, were magnified beneath her round glasses and she looked rather apprehensive.

"About going to this school? I'd rather be watching a Nick Cage flick, but-"

She giggled softly. "You'd rather be watching a Nicolas Cage movie than anything else, John." Her face turned serious. "But really. Are you?"

John shrugged, wincing as his shoulder bone cracked. "A bit, but I'm too tired to really be anything besides… tired. I think it's going to be fun, though."

"An adventure, as they say?" The masculine voice had certainly not come from Jane. John squinted over Jane's surprised head to see Jake awake and grinning.

"Shit's going to go down, Egbert. We're gonna charge in that school and be like 'bow down to your new kings motherfuckers' and they'll fall all over themselves trying to worship us because we're just that fucking awesome," Dave drawled, uncrossing his arms. His pale blonde hair looked exactly the same as it had before he fell asleep. Did he ever get a bedhead? John rubbed his own messy black hair ruefully.

"When did you wake up? I swear you were all asleep a few seconds ago," John said, slightly flustered by the sudden awakening of his friends.

Dave snorted. "I'm a fucking Strider, Egderp."

John waited a few seconds for a more forthcoming explanation before realizing that there would be none. "I guess that explains everything," he scoffed sarcastically. "And by 'everything' I mean jack nothing."

"Well, as for me, you never know when you might be attacked on Hellmurder island, chap," Jake said cheerfully as he took the cup of soda from his tray and sipped it. "But I think it will be quite the adventure when we land. Say, how long do we have until we do?"

John looked out the window. They were already quite close to the ground, and he estimated that they would be arriving...

"Attention, passengers, we will be landing shortly. Please turn off all electronic devices and do not stand up until we have landed. Thank you for flying with us." The intercom cut off, and John realized that everybody else had woken up during the announcement.

"Well, it would seem that we are almost to our destination," Rose said, brushing her blonde bangs out of her eyes after yawning elegantly. If that was possible. How the hell did you yawn elegantly? Gog his friends were weird.

The merry-go-round.

He wanted to ride it SO BADLY.

"It's a conveyer belt," Rose corrected from behind him as if she could hear his thoughts.

He stuck his tongue out at her and scanned the merry-go-round for their suitcases.

It would always be a merry-go-round in his heart.


They recovered their suitcases and found their ways outside the airport, where a ridiculously long limousine was waiting. "How delightfully cliche," commented Rose as she slid inside the car and disappeared behind glossy black doors and tinted windows. John followed, sitting tentatively on the leather seats. He was almost afraid to sit, as if the fanciness was breakable and there were dire consequences to pay if the sacred fanciness were to be broken. Once he did, he found the seat to be exceedingly comfortable and relaxed as Dave, Dirk, Roxy, Jane, Jade, and Jake plopped down as well. The car purred smoothly as it took them up the winding road to Alternia Academy.

Roxy pulled her hand from over her eyes and blinked groggily. "Gog, I have the worst hangover." She was nearly always inebriated and it was difficult to have a coherent conversation with her. Most of them didn't mind, though, her slurred speech and mishaps were more of an 'endearing character trait' than anything.

"At least you're sober now," Dirk said, his eyes inscrutable as always behind his triangular shades.

"Sure doesn't feel like it," she groaned before letting her head fall back on the headrest and closing her eyes again.

John looked out the window, noting the picturesque scenery around them. A slight fog, lush green grass, tumbling beds of flowers, pretty trees, and the occasional stream of sparkling, clear water. It was almost too perfect.


The driver pulled up in front of an elaborate metal gate, behind which John could see twelve figures outlined in the mist. His stomach twisted in anxiety as the chauffeur turned off the ignition and gave an encouraging nod to the eight passengers in the back.

"Well, I guess it's time to fly!" Jade said with a large smile as they prepared to step out of the car and into a new life.

And in time her prediction would be closer to the truth than any of them would have thought.