And then I tried to do a prompt meme on tumblr, where they always look kind of floppy and out of their natural place...
BRAINIAC 5: 5 loves
Bit of a disparate continuity mash, but if you’re not okay with that why are you even in this bar?
During the Legion’s pre-mission exposition, Brainiac 5 makes an obscure pun which depends on an understanding of the direction of information flow implied under the multiversal meta-dynamic hypothesis. Later, while Kara Zor-El is rescuing him from today’s supervillian’s flying death-bananas, she teases him about it.
Not unkindly, but Brainiac 5 reacts more defensively than he wishes he had, almost immediately. He didn’t think anyone in his audience would notice the pun, and he’s never learned how to behave around someone who cares less about his charted abilities or his inherited history or the warning splash of purple, than if the silly jokes he makes to himself are groan-worthy enough to amuse her.
On introductions, Brainiac 5 is as accustomed to a reaction of awed, salivating fascination as to one of *fear*. His customary response is an increasing volley of entitled assholism, until he finds the point fetishism snaps finally to disgust.
But Lyle Norg is unaffected, returning the insults with an amused and sly smirk, like he recognizes the rules of the game, like he intends to *win*.
What is “flow”? A human may show you brain scans: it’s the point where all the background noisy brain static turns itself down to let you focus purely on a task. But a human brain doesn’t boast the neurobiology to focus itself anywhere like as completely as a Coluan can, nevermind a Dox-line Coluan given an interesting puzzle; it cannot expand itself into a single point of meaningful purpose. Call it science, call it logic, call it data processing, call it art. For all the cost, this is a gift. Call it joy.
The first time he’s on Earth, Brainiac 5 spends long minutes staring up at the space port’s statue of Superman. It’s reaching heavy stone arms out, as in welcome, and even someone as *definitionally* rational as Brainiac 5 feels buoyed by the mythology: the celebration of a person who took the power of his birthright and moulded it into something of his own.
Brainiac 4 is a dark blur of imperfectly erased history (a planetary scar renamed as a desert, entire branches of research made illegal, names on a death roll with no cause of listed). A mere counting error between 3 and 5, caught too late.
But occasionally questions are brought to him that, as young as he is, Querl Dox is certain his minders are not clever enough to have conceived of themselves. Once, he asks about their origin, and the adults become quiet and nervous and do not answer, but it is in exactly the same manner they had become quiet and nervous when he asked about the status of his maternal genetic donor. (He had dissected pieces of his own cells under microscope; genetic markers indicated one male and one female parent, as well as the one from which he inherited his difference/ability/condition. It would be a very long time before it’d occur to him to be interested about his father.)
One such question proves a fascinating challenge. Every time he thinks he’s closing on the solution, a further unexamined implication reveals itself, an offered silver thread for him to unravel, deeper and deeper, in and in and in… It occupies him for two weeks, and then he wakes up on a medical slab.
The problem had been *so* interesting, so perfectly designed to enthrall, that his brain had devoted all the processing space available - overwriting instincts and languages and sense memory - and then *more* than it had available, bleeding into his autonomic functions. He had stopped breathing before anyone noticed something was wrong. His circulatory pumps had fallen out of rhythm.
The enormously fascinating question was a deadly *trap*, and one that no ordinary Coluan could have fallen into. Or recognized. Or devised. A trap aimed at an immature Dox-like mind, of which there is only one.
He was never offered a photograph of Brainiac 4, nor had he ever wanted one. But now - still attached to machines externally regulating his organ function - he traces the edges of the mind-mine, and finds in its shape evidence that he’s not alone.
There exists in the galaxy a mind that works like his, and that had believed his existence worthy of its consideration at least long enough to build this for him: vicious, yes, but elegant and beautiful too.
JOHN EGBERT: 5 loves, 4 lies, 2 shoes
John AND/OR’s himself a ridiculous object that is pretty much just a Slimer themed jack-hammer, and as soon as he turns it on, tentacleTherapist’s icon lights up in thrilled lavender. John interrupts her before she has a chance to send the thing she is *obviously* typing.
EB: it is a metaphor.
EB: for my penis.
TT: Really? Considering the cyclic nature of our personal mythologies, I was about to suggest the opposite.
TT: Tell me, John.
TT: In the past, when you wrapped your palm around the base of your penis, did you experience the deep, stirring foreknowledge that you would stand here today, pounding with something so much… mightier?
John is planning to take out the chalk lich on the wrinklefucker’s back swing, but before he spins around there’s the goosebump-raising scrape of claws on metal and hey, Dave’s got it! *A* Dave, anyway. There’s no orange feathers on this one, but he’s wearing a huge sign with “BIZARRO #2” written on it, which isn’t the sort of thing the real Dave would wear unless you tricked him with the ironies.
Dave blocks a second lich’s swipe and shouts “Hey, pay attention!” at John, who shrugs and hefts his hammer again. They have a really fun five minutes slamming down monsters side by side!
After, John asks if he was *really* going to get eaten by the lich, and Dave shrugs a little and says that it doesn’t matter because John *didn’t*. John’s not going to get eaten by *anything*.
Yes, John’s not opposed to remaining uneaten by monsters, however John felt he had the particular situation well in control, so isn’t it possible that Dave #2 came back to fix something else, and then just decided to hang out for a bit? It’s not like he needs an excuse!
Dave points out he didn’t *make* an excuse, and then spins a really annoying rap on the subject until John “revokes” his friendship “invitation”.
John is not used to living in close quarters with someone his age, which as it turns out isn’t an issue because Jade’s not used to living in close quarters with anyone at all, and she’s usually off on one of the other planets exploring somewhere. But when she does return, it’s always strange to be in the same room, like standing next to a mirror in bad lighting. He can see the reflection of his too-long teeth when she speaks, but the jawline is softer and the expressions are more deeply creased. And he has dog ears for some reason? Blargh, better to leave the metaphors to Rose, even if hers are always about tentacle dicks.
But it’s neat that Jade’s not only his best friend, but his sister as well. It’s like having a whole new *kind* of best friend. When they laugh at the same things, well, they’ve always laughed at the same things, only now it seems like proof of a deeper connection.
They are lying on the floor watching Star Wars movies, and John says “I am not going to kiss you, but—”
“Jeez, John. That’s a really great way to start a conversation with your *sister*!”
“Shut up! I’m trying to say that we are like Luke and Leia.”
Jade frowns at the screen, where Leia is intently kissing a young Harrison Ford on the mouth. “Or you can make out with the wookie, if that is your preference,” John assures her, and then Jade bangs him in the head with a humourously oversized & happy orange.
John doesn’t know or care why the power still works in his house - which is on an otherwise electricity-free planet on a space ship outside any known universe? - and he is fairly sure that, despite Jade’s technobabble, she doesn’t know or care either. But when one single room goes dark, it’s a fair bet that it’s the light bulb that burned out, rather than the first sign of a slow unwinding that will leave them scraping flint against stone in a cave somewhere.
John ignores the storage ladder, and simply floats up to grab a replacement bulb. His fingers close on glass. And paper.
JOHN, IF YOU ARE READING THIS, IT MEANS THAT YOU ARE READY TO PERFORM CHORES REQUIRING TRAINING IN ELECTRICAL SAFETY. THIS IS A BIG RESPONSIBILITY FOR A YOUNG MAN, BUT I TRUST YOU. I AM SO, SO PROUD OF YOU.
The troll is looking at John like he’s weighing the chances John’s going to jump forward and bite him, which when you consider which one of them has a mouth full of pointy triangle teeth is pretty silly. John laughs at him. Just a little!
The troll forces out a loud, whistling sigh, and scrubs a hand over the side of his neck. “Hi John. I’m, uh. Yeah, I guess there’s no reason you’d remember me after a sweep and a half, but I’m Karkat. carcinoGeneticist?”
“What,” says John, because it could have been a decade and a half, and they’d still be way beyond *introductions*, and Karkat says, “Right,” really quietly, and looks away.
So John does move forward, just far enough to wrap his arms around Karkat’s shoulders. “Of course I remember you. You’re the *really stupid one*.”
Years in the past.
John looks at the urn of his dead Nanna’s ashes and thinks that he probably should feel something profound about it, like whatever is behind an action hero’s single motivating tear (so that you know he is a hardass but with a sensitive heart)!
However, when John tries out this deep emotional self-examination thing, it’s not a very pleasant experience. It’s upsetting and weirdly… ominous? Like there’s an layer of bleakness underneath his usually optimistic brainstate. Almost-words:
USELESS MOTHERFUCKING ASSHOLE.
it is probably better not to dwell on these sorts of things anyway.
(The shoes aren't part of the meme, they were just what I made myself for my birthday.)
(They also glow in the dark, just to be sure you *know* I am a properly mature grown-up.)
Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comments.