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"Shut up. Who said we're arguing?" said Dominus. "You're just projecting - you're-you're-you're-" is she drunk? "I'm as free as a bird. Do you remember freedom, America? Huh?" she's drifted up onto stage just in time to be dramatically backlit as Errant yeets Comstar directly into the centre of her exploding device at @Sarahphim's direction. There is a flash of energy and a shriek as Comstar is sent on a magical journey to the farthest distances of the cosmos. Legend says that you can watch her stream to this very day, performing puppet shows in a backwater Felorian town for the entertainment of small children.

"That's right, freedom," said Dominus, taking the stage, accepting a microphone from a waiting goon. "You know about that, right? Just you, your motorbike, your company of pro-government terrorists and the open road? Having a goal and working towards it every day? Guys, keep her busy a sec," Errant, you suddenly have a whole bunch more targets as the cast of a dozen action movies swarms you all at once. "You know? And then suddenly people - rude people - keep bringing up your girlfriend and it's like - and it's like, she's trying to change you, but not like, nagging but just by being like insidious and cute and shit and then one day you wake up and you realize that your priorities are all upside down and you're having second thoughts about blowing up the Golden Gate Bridge? Fuck that! It's been my dream since I was five to blow up the Golden Gate Bridge! And I'm going to do it! Because that's what freedom means!" is she crying? "Anyway do you know what the divorce rate is like? It's crazy! How do you know anything would last, that's all I'm saying, you give up your freedom and what do you get? Why do people want to put labels on everything anyway? You know what you can trust? Your own two fists and hard cash. That's all I'm saying. Anyway, it's not like any of this means anything to me, like, I'm a total badass. I'm going to prove how little it means, it's all just about money anyway. @Sarahphim's like the original material girl, you should learn something from her, and from me, when I marry her just to steal her money and prove that marriage is just, like, a contract man. Thank you for listening."

At this point she finally gets around to pointing a gun at you, @Sarahphim. "Shut up. Sign the thing."


At no point during this has Dominus loosened that chain from around your neck. You're choking, gagging, vision blurring -

And then your vision is filled with robot lenses - one set familiar, one set the glowing red multiplex eyes of a Martian Kingbot.

"We should help him," said Prometheus.
"Sometimes humans like being choked," said Bode.
"Why?" said Prometheus.
"The adrenaline hit can assist in coupling." said Bode.
"That seems evolutionarily suboptimal," said Prometheus.
"Nevertheless," said Bode. "I ordinarily wouldn't bring it up, but this is a wedding, which is itself an elaborate coupling ritual and what are called 'meme weddings' are a human trend these days."
"I see," said Prometheus. "So we shouldn't help him?"
"We should ask him first," said Bode. "We don't want to make it weird."

The robot lenses swivel down to you as you gasp on the edge of consciousness.

"Would you like us to help you?" said Prometheus. "Or is this a sex thing?"
Jasper feels empty.

Her face hurts. Her chest hurts. Her stomach hurts. Hurts. What a concept! Like there are mountain ridges inside her that she grinds against, like she's swallowed the void of space as it continues to expand in all directions, like the dying days of a star as it puffs red and bloated, burning toxic fuel. Hurts. She's never felt anything like this before. It's... ah!

Ah. She understands.

She steps back from the lighthouse. She bows, fist in palm. "I accept this punishment," she said. "I will carry this pain as penance. Thank you for the curse you have bestowed upon me." She smiles through the tears. She can do this. She can take on his burden. She is glad for the opportunity - she feels proud, even! She'd do this even if she wasn't being punished, just think, removing this suffering from the world!

She turns about like a fire in autumn and smiles at the newcomer through tear-soaked joy. What other sorrows can she burn away?
The rain beats down.

Adila has been here before.

She's holding Princess Hornet's hand still but it's cold and limp and it feels like they couldn't be further apart. I don't know the way home. She's watching a heart freeze over, a despair that has been growing for years and years beneath a mask that's finally slipped. There's no place for me in Hyperborea anyway. She didn't know - nobody knew, nobody cared to look. There is something wrong with me for wanting what I can't have. And worst of all, Princess Hornet doesn't even have a little light to guide her through the storm. This is how it was always going to happen.

Her vision flashes with blinding silver.


Their fingers had been drifting apart - so close to being lost. And then Adila's grip tightens, full of determination.

+I have been a terrible friend,+ thought Adila. +I've always been so lost in my own head and my own problems that I haven't noticed anyone around me. I wanted friends so badly while somehow not ever seeing that I was blessed enough to have a best friend besides me all along. I've been selfish, Princess Hornet, and distant, and mean - and the worst of all the princesses. I thought I had a duty and that meant putting rules above people...+

She finally picks the silver Watch badge off her cloak. She holds it for a second, looking at it - all the emotions, the ambitions, the striving for a piece of metal that didn't mean anything any more. She held it like she might crush it - but instead she gently lowered it down and put it in Princess Hornet's other hand.

+I don't know what I'm going to do now that I'm free of it all. But I know that I want to be a better friend to you, if you can forgive me.+
You already knew how Comstar was going to react, Errant. The first time you met her she let you punch her in the face because she was in love with the visuals of the shot. This is a person with absolutely no survival instinct. Some part of her brain has noted the extremely specific threat, reported it and cc'd the secretary, but it's been automatically sorted into the same mailbox as the Building Services weekly reminders and all staff updates.

"Then a demonstration of my seriousness is in order!" Comstar said. "Fire the device!"

The energy cannon howls to life, crackling cosmic pink, laser rays directed towards the audience. Comstar's minions are standing by between you and the lady herself. There's no way she can possibly lose.



You've just gotten back into your seat when you are dragged out of it by a chain thrown around your neck by a lady on a motorcycle wearing aviator sunglasses and a slashed open leather biker jacket. Dominus has a new look and it's as muscular and deadly as a snake. She pulls you close as she parks her bike at the stairs leading up to the altar, giving you a full taste of her hypnotic perfume. Your emotions, already compromised by the day, begin to spiral and swim. "Hey, Brainstorm," she said, voice crack adding a fascinating edge of cuteness to all of the danger signs. "You want to help me, don't you?"
Adila sits for a moment and watches it work. It's got a different energy when viewed without adrenaline. The churning machinery, the multiple looping slides, the prefabricated market-stalls dropped in afterwards... When she'd first seen it she'd thought it was the most terrible thing to be unleashed on the Bazaar, but that seems almost quaint now. The new Labyzaar could actually use something like this. Actually...

+I think I understand... I know a thing or two about trying to make friends by helping people,+ thought Adila. +I thought that if I could just be the best Watcher of all the Watchers, and that was how I'd earn my title of princess. I wanted to be useful so badly... and then I got too big and started causing more problems than I solved. And then I wasn't useful any more, and...+ she wanted to trail off into a vague gesture but Hornet didn't actually know - and leaving it as inference wasn't fair to her. +I was asked to leave. And then, kind of... we all were.+

Adila turned her head to look down at Hornet. +Gratitude isn't the same as friendship, Princess Hornet.+
I'm fucking howling, I can't breathe from laughing so hard

:D :D :D
"Yes, why don't you go ahead and tell your story?" said Ailee, walking behind the bar and lifting herself up into the air on a nexus of spectacular arcane energy - so she could grab a couple of bottles off the top shelf. Commentary that a regular sized person wouldn't need such assistance to reach that shelf would be unappreciated and unwise. She settles back onto the ground and starts pouring glasses.

If there's one saving grace for Ailee in situations like this it's that she doesn't consider work to be beneath her.

"I mean, I'm operating under the assumption that you're a washout who got half a degree in potions from Mudbank College and then moved down into the lowest IQ town you could find so that nobody would realize that you couldn't hack doing real magic - but maybe I'm wrong! Maybe you do know something interesting. Go on, tell us these mysteries - whatever they are, they are nothing I can't handle."
+Princess Hornet you need to come with me -+ Princess Adila is thinking when she abruptly stops. This is so hard! The transitions happen because of thought and memory, which means that she can't shift without getting lost in the moment. She also has no idea how this works - is it a vision, a memory, or is she actually here? Aaah! She should just drag Hornet back to the -

She stops and takes a deep breath. Come on Adila. You need to be better than this.

+Well... it's complicated,+ said Adila. +My, ah... kingdom was disbanded. It wasn't perfect, and I wasn't much of a princess... there is so much to being a good princess that I'm only just starting to figure out, even now it's too late.+

Adila sits down and puts Hornet down next to her. +I was thinking about being a Captain instead! But my boat, ah, crashed, so maybe I'm not cut out for that either. I'm still figuring it out. It's hard.+

She's quiet for a moment, then looks up at the Organizer, crashing away in the distance. She decides - impulsively, defiantly - that this is not her problem today. +So, Princess Hornet, I never actually asked... what is that thing meant to do?+
And the moment passes.


This is it! This is your moment. All of this belongs to you. You have worked hard and now it's time for success, babes, and above everything: views.

"And now at last you see that there is nothing you possess that I cannot take away!" Comstar announces in her most television voice. "Behold, my ultimate heist! I shall steal the married hands of these two maidens, transforming my greatest rivals into my domestic servants! And such shall be the fate of all who dare to defy me - tune in to Bridal Suite, my upcoming new reality television show where I add new brides to my harem and you can watch them compete with each other for my affections! WAH HA HA HA HA!"

DeathGun69 pulls down one of the curtains to reveal Comstar's masterpiece device - an enormous, stationary energy cannon aimed directly at the audience. "And to ensure compliance, behold - The Honeymoonizer! If you defy me I will fire my doomsday weapon, sending audience members in randomly determined couples to random destinations across the multiverse! Camera drones will be sent with all such couples and highlights from their adventures will also be available on my channel - the best subscription on the internet! Either way I win! So what do you say, lovebirds? Will you make me the happiest supervillain to conquer the earth?"

Somewhere in the distance there is the sound of a motorcycle getting closer.
My current headcanon is that animal people are common topside, and that the Chimerae of the Heart are notable because a) they mutate and mix attributes from lots of different creatures and things and b) they have a distinct tendency to grow horns.

I will endorse this being promoted to Actual Canon.
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