JOHN: oh, uh. hey callie!

JOHN: it sure has been a while huh.

JOHN: now that i think about it, the last time the three of us hung out like this...

CALLIOPE: was when i was aggressively third wheeling yoUr prenUptial coUrtship?

CALLIOPE: if yoU dont mind, john, i'd rather not rehash that period of oUr lives.

CALLIOPE: it was more than a little painfUl for me.

JOHN: oh.

JOHN: god, jeez, i'm sorry. i didn't mean to--

CALLIOPE: hee hee john i am only pUlling yoUr leg, don't worry.

CALLIOPE: if anything i was personally a little thrilled with how things shook oUt in that respect.

CALLIOPE: imagine, if yoU will, a yoUng cherUb raised in solitUde, whose only solace was the convolUted and tUmUltUoUs romantic schemata she projected onto her only friends from another Universe.

CALLIOPE: and then fUrther imagine that this yoUng cherUb, throUgh varioUs even *more* convolUted contrivances, ended Up in the company of those selfsafe friends as an eqUal participant in their sphere of social discoUrse!

CALLIOPE: it is a joy the like of which yoU possibly cannot fathom. u_u

CALLIOPE: so to pUt it simply, getting to experience sUch emotional drama myself was an impossibly enriching experience.

CALLIOPE: possibly a first for my species!

CALLIOPE: it's actUally qUite interesting, if yoU

ROXY: *nudge*

CALLIOPE: oh, right. yes. i'm getting a little carried away, haha.

CALLIOPE: argh, i'm sorry, this is not how i planned to begin this vital conversation.

CALLIOPE: but to sUmmarise, what i was trying to say is:

CALLIOPE: don't beat yourself Up aboUt it john.

CALLIOPE: besides, hUman divorces are even more fascinating than i had ever imagined, and being able to witness yoUrs in motion was an honoUr.

CALLIOPE: so i consider Us aboUt even at this point.

JOHN: hahaha!!!

JOHN: okay, well that's good to know!


JOHN: so um...

JOHN: i hear that there's this big secret thing you wanna tell me about?

CALLIOPE: oh right, yes of course!

CALLIOPE: let me jUst say first of all how thrilled i am that yoU're on board.

CALLIOPE: i wasn't sUre if yoUr natUral inclinations woUld have preclUded yoUr coming to such a place as this, and yet here yoU are.

CALLIOPE: this whole endeavoUr will be *so* mUch easier with yoUr help.

JOHN: oh! well, shucks.

JOHN: not really sure what that means but i'm just glad to be of use somewhere, haha.

JOHN: which, speaking of somewhere,

CALLIOPE: ah right, right. yoU're probably a little cUrioUs as to where the dickens we are.

CALLIOPE: how much do yoU know aboUt black holes?

JOHN: um... like, the big space things?

CALLIOPE: they aren't always big actUally, and in fact their relative smallness is practically their defining qUality.

JOHN: oh.

CALLIOPE: bUt okay i think we are on the same page.

CALLIOPE: so, what if i told yoU that we are inside of a black hole right now.

JOHN: um...

JOHN: like, HERE?

JOHN: we just transportalized into a black hole?

CALLIOPE: no, i mean, what if oUr whole WORLD was inside a black hole.

JOHN: ok.

CALLIOPE: earth c, or at least oUr version of it, has, from the moment we crossed the victory threshold, been inside a black hole.

JOHN: ok.

CALLIOPE: and not just any black hole, bUt the very black hole in which the green sUn Ultimately met its demise, allowing oUr victory in the first instance!

JOHN: huh!

ROXY: ("huh!")

ROXY: (rofl my fucking ao egbert)

JOHN: (shhhh!)

CALLIOPE: bUt, paradoxically, the critical moment which determined its capture within the black hole happened *after* that point.

CALLIOPE: i refer of coUrse to yoUr decision not to retUrn to the mediUm and fight my brother.

JOHN: wait, wait.

JOHN: you mean, the meat and candy thing?

JOHN: oh my god.

JOHN: you mean i actually DID make a mistake that day.

CALLIOPE: well, that's not exactly what that--

JOHN: ugh, i fucking KNEW it!

JOHN: i'm so sorry.

JOHN: i'm so sorry that i put the earth inside a black hole everyone. ):

ROXY: john

ROXY: listen

ROXY: u have got to get out of this mindset i am begging you

JOHN: ):

ROXY: your choice literally didnt matter

ROXY: the whole thing was symbolic in the first place

ROXY: literally symbolic in the case of the picnic i mean come on

ROXY: it was just some steak and a plate of candy suckers

JOHN: oh.

CALLIOPE: i mean, i wouldn't go so far as to say that the meal we shared was unimportant, given the sacred significance of the two options i presented.

CALLIOPE: but yes, yoUr choice of snack was infinitely less important than the choice which it presaged.

CALLIOPE: and even then, calling it a choice woUld be sorely misleading.

CALLIOPE: think of it like a coin flip.

CALLIOPE: the series of events that led to Us being trapped beyond the event horizon of an Ubermassive black hole could be considered "tails", while the events which would have occUrred otherwise could be considered "heads".

CALLIOPE: since both were possible, and paradox space is the way it is, they actUally both happened. and we jUst "happened" (hee hee) to get tails instead of heads.

JOHN: you mean we ended up with the bad possibility.

CALLIOPE: not at all! since both possibilities depend on one another's existence, it really doesn't make sense to call them "right" or "wrong". they both just "are".

JOHN: o...kay...


CALLIOPE: i realise that this may be a lot to process.

CALLIOPE: it's easy to forget that this wasn't obvioUs to everyone from the beginning.

CALLIOPE: anyway, the reason i went on this tangent in the first place was to explain that the space we are standing in right now has a special significance, in that it is the location which corresponds to the black hole's singUlarity.

JOHN: oh, wow.

JOHN: um.

JOHN: ok so, sorry if this is a dumb question to ask suddenly, but what does being inside of a black hole actually... mean for us?

JOHN: is that bad?

JOHN: is it like in movie, um,

JOHN: shoot.

JOHN: roxy what was that matthew mcconaughey movie from your earth that we watched?

ROXY: u mean interstellar


JOHN: the one with the organ.

JOHN: man. i cried at that movie so much.

ROXY: lol u can say that again

ROXY: iirc at least part of y u got so weepy was the fact that u couldnt believe a version of earth existed where ppl got 2 watch more mcconaughey films than you

JOHN: listen.

JOHN: i simply don't think you all appreciated the gift you were given.

CALLIOPE: i don't believe i'm familiar with this particular film ^u^;;

ROXY: oh dont worry cal you didnt miss much

JOHN: (gasp)

ROXY: but the important point is that no its not really an interstellar type situation here egbert

ROXY: ur not gonna enter a weird time vortex and change the trajectory of a little girls life with the power of love

JOHN: aw.

CALLIOPE: to go back to your original question, john.

CALLIOPE: it's not strictly speaking "bad" for Us to be inside of a black hole, mUch thoUgh that contradicts most of what anyone knows about them.

CALLIOPE: of coUrse, if we had fallen into it, that woUld be a whole other kettle of fish.

CALLIOPE: the tidal forces woUld have stretched Us all into spaghetti and then ripped us apart!

CALLIOPE: bUt the natUre of oUr arrival was more akin to simply "being" here, sUddenly. one moment we were not, and the next moment we were, and somehow always had been.

CALLIOPE: in everyday, practical terms, being inside of a black hole has very little bearing on Us.

CALLIOPE: i mean, the natUre of space and time is a little finicky in here, bUt for the most part it doesn't seem to be anything too oUt of the ordinary.

CALLIOPE: bUt beyond that, it means that we are sealed away from the rest of existence.

CALLIOPE: oUr sphere of inflUence is limited to the sphere of the black hole's bounding horizon.

CALLIOPE: as far as everyone else is concerned, we might as well not even exist!

JOHN: is there no way we could let anyone know that we're in here...?

CALLIOPE: almost certainly not!

CALLIOPE: there are very few ways for anything to escape the kind of predicament that we are in right now. one of them is to be an all-powerfUl being with control over the very fabric of space, with the energy of two Universes at yoUr disposal.

CALLIOPE: in which case, escape woUld become rather trivial, if a little Unscientific.

JOHN: ok. i am going to assume that we can't just do that.

CALLIOPE: yoU've hit the nail on the head, UnfortUnately. U_U

CALLIOPE: the method i described was the one employed by my alternate self, who yoU may recall crashed through the event horizon in the body that once belonged to jade harley.

CALLIOPE: she departed through a pUnctUre she created in the black hole's surface shortly after consUming my brother, a deed which provided her with the necessary "oomph", and which was frankly rather breathtaking to watch. =u=

CALLIOPE: bUt Upon her departUre, the rift closed for good. as far as i can see, there's simply no way for Us to commUnicate with the world oUtside the black hole.

CALLIOPE: i woUld certainly be very sUrprised to find oUt that anyone had managed sUch a thing!

JOHN: ...right.

JOHN: so... let me just get this straight.

JOHN: knowing that we're inside of a black hole... does that actually change anything?

JOHN: like, can't we just go on living like normal?

CALLIOPE: oh absolUtely not.

CALLIOPE: i don't know if yoU've noticed john bUt this world is on the brink of a total cataclysm.

JOHN: oh.

CALLIOPE: oUr exclUsion from the overarching coUrse of events which governs all reality means that oUr existence here is liable to dramatic and violent Upheaval.

CALLIOPE: to pUt it another way, becaUse nothing in here "matters", we are likely to be sUbjected to things which are a bit bats in the belfry, for no reason other than it's totally insignificant to the wider canon of reality.

CALLIOPE: and mUch thoUgh i am personally titillated by some of the conseqUences of this predicament, it is a degrading way for Us to live. u_u

JOHN: that's... certainly one way to put it, yeah...

CALLIOPE: at first, i believed that this was simply necessary. Us playing tails to oUr coUnterparts' heads, the black to their white, and so forth.

CALLIOPE: bUt over the years i have come to the conclUsion that this is simply not kosher.

ROXY: its total bs is what it is

CALLIOPE: right, yes.

CALLIOPE: a steaming pile of bUllshite.

CALLIOPE: and so we have decided that something needs to be done aboUt it.

ROXY: this is finally where u come in jegbert

ROXY: we gots quests for yous

CALLIOPE: hee hee, yes.

CALLIOPE: or *a* quest, to be specific.

JOHN: oh boy!

ROXY: (this fkin nerd i s2g)

JOHN: i'm not sure how i can go about freeing us from a hellish space prison, but i'm up for giving it a try i guess?

JOHN: i have... literally nothing better to be doing at this point. except for maybe hanging out with harry anderson.

ROXY: nice save lol

ROXY: but u dont need to worry abt busting us outta space jail tbh

ROXY: thats not ur problem to fix

JOHN: oh.

JOHN: i'm... not sure i follow, then.

ROXY: i mean yeah ur gonna obvs facilitate it in a sense

ROXY: but only by going and busting the person who can actually help us outta normal earth jail

CALLIOPE: we need yoU to free vriska from the clUtches of oUr misgUided friend jane, and bring her here, to the singUlarity.

ROXY: weve been calling it the plot point

CALLIOPE: yes, the plot point is a key part of oUr plan.

CALLIOPE: as far as we have been able to sUrmise, the only remaining method for escaping oUr grim confinement depends on leveraging the UniqUe properties of this location to create an event of sUch catalcysmic proportions that it simply cannot be contained within the black hole any more.

CALLIOPE: something SO dramatic, so hyper-relevant, that it becomes ontologically impossible for anyone to ignore it.

CALLIOPE: for that, we need an individUal of sUfficient narrative cloUt, so to speak.

CALLIOPE: and to liberate her, who better than the embodiment of the aspect of freedom itself?


CALLIOPE: phew. okay, i'm finished.


CALLIOPE: sorry, that took longer than i expected to go throUgh.

ROXY: what r u talking about cals that was great

ROXY: i could listen 2 u plotsplain for years

CALLIOPE: oh you >u<

ROXY: fyi this was why i wanted u to get a move on eggbread

ROXY: so callie could have more time 2 infodump

ROXY: thats love bitchhhhhh

JOHN: hahaha.

JOHN: ok, well, i think i understood all that?

In reality, John isn’t sure what most of this means. But on balance, it feels okay? He’s gone back and forth about a hundred times in the last week about where his place in everything is, so he might as well ride this out. Plus, the last time a Lalonde kind of told him to do something, he thinks that he chose not to, and look where that got him. And it’s not like he has other plans. He may as well do this! It’s at least going to get him involved in things again, if nothing else. He turns to go, and then hears a sound. It’s the sound of feet and knocking on doors, echoed through stone and digital static.

> (==>)