Herding Cats is a HomestuckFan Fic by childishGambino.Nepeta has completed all of her tasks in her portion of the game and goes to confront her Denizen, Psyche. Psyche declines to fight Nepeta, but offers instead to give Nepeta an important task. As the Hero of Heart, Nepeta must ship all 12 of her fellow trolls (including herself) until they each have a matesprit and a moirail. Psyche reveals that they're in a doomed timeline, but offers to keep the timeline from being destroyed like the other doomed timelines while Nepeta completes her task, and that this timeline can even exist permanently if Nepeta succeeds. Psyche has 3 conditions: 1) Nepeta must only use her heart powers to guide, not force, her fellow trolls into relationships, 2) she must tell no one why she's doing this, and 3) she must save the matespritship for herself and the boy she loves, Karkat, for last, and tell no one of her feelings for him until it's time.So Nepeta posts a memo she calls "The Shipping Wall". Vriska immediately shows up to mock and laugh at her attempts to ship everybody, saying Karkat would go ballistic over it. But Karkat shows up and actually approves of the idea, mainly because he's spent a week having to put up with everybody's relationship problems, and is so sick of it he's more than eager to foist the task onto Nepeta. He even orders her to ship Vriska first, mainly to keep every memo from devolving into Vriskachat.And so Nepeta starts her epic shipping quest! Hilarity Ensues! Complications arise! Trolls become pale or flushed for each other! Black rom and ashen even enter the picture!This Nepeta Quest 2012 is one of the longest Homestuck fanfics out there and at currently 31 chapters and nearly 500,000 words is STILL a WIP. Fortunately, it updates fairly regularly (usually a new chapter is added between one and two weeks). It's length is justified because while Nepeta is the main character, all 12 trolls have important roles to play, and all 12 of them will have all 4 of their quadrants filled. This means no fewer than 22 different relationships (6 moirallegiances, 6 matespritships, 6 kismessitudes, and 4 auspitices) will be explored in this Door Stopper of a tale, with only one of them, the moirallegiance of Nepeta/Equius already stable from the start. So far all of these troll romances have happened or are about to happen. According to the author, there are just two epilogue chapters remaining.All regularpersonality tropesfor the 12 trollsapply hereuntil they no longer do.
Aliens Made Them Do It: Double Subverted. Psyche's rules state that Nepeta can't force the trolls to fall in love or tell anyone that their lives are on the line. On the other hand, Nepeta knows that if she doesn't ship everyone, Psyche will allow their timeline to fall out of existence, so at the very least this trope applies to her.
Seemingly played straight in Chapter 13 when Equius nearly gets Nepeta to admit her feelings for Karkat. Just as she's about to in her pesterlog she types "not the right time" in familiar pink typeface of Psyche's lines from Chapter 1. Nepeta's confusion after that suggests that at that moment, Psyche briefly possessed Nepeta to keep her from breaking one of her three conditions.
It is implied that this is more of Psyche subtly telling her that this isn't the right time by nudging her response, as it shows up a lot more in chapter 26 when Karkat declares his feelings for Nepeta
Arc Number: Nepeta is typically associated with the number 33, and there will be 33 chapters once the fic is finished.
Ascended Extra: This is one of many fan works that takes Nepeta, described by her own creator as an "expendable character", and makes her the main character.
Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: As in Homestuck, dying on your quest bed results in ascending to God Tier, coming back as a near immortal. Since this fic takes place soon after the events shown in Act 5 Act 1, Vriska's already done this at the start of this fic. By Chapter 31 all 12 trolls have ascended to God Tier.
Axe Crazy: Gamzee goes through this, but unlike the Alpha Timeline, he's calmed down before he can kill anyone, thanks to Tavros' epic slam poetry.
Bi the Way: Nepeta's equal opportunity in suggesting matespritships of the same gender. Among the other trolls, the one most Bi is Vriska, who even after happily becoming matesprits with Kanaya, still has some flushed feelings for Tavros.
Equius is a subversion. At first, he wants Nepeta to ship him with Gamzee, but that's only because Gamzee is a highblood. Equius admits he likes nothing else about Gamzee, and later becomes his kismesis.
Recently, Eridan, despite having a matesprit in Terezi, has got caught up in a "flushed infidelity" with his moirail, Gamzee. Gamzee's matesprit, Tavros is actually relieved to hear this since it now means he and Virska can act out their flushed feelings for each other.
And now Terezi's getting into it with Aradia.
And now thanks to another maroonion, Sollux is riding the bi-cycle.
Brick Joke: In Nepeta's first Shipping Wall memo, Vriska at her bitchiest declares that if she ever finds herself making a cat pun, she'll hang herself. Instantly Terezi "FIVE DAYS FROM NOW" shows up on the memo and asks for Vriska's neck size. Kanaya gives it and Terezi leaves. Five days later, at another Shipping Wall memo, a now successfully shipped and much nicer Vriska offhandedly makes a cat pun. Terezi promptly presents her with a cat collar to wear instead of a noose.
After they become matespirits, Kanaya and Vriska explain an 'absence' as having to fight off a sudden basilisk attack. Later, Karkat and Kanaya are attacked by basilisks for real. Kanaya is killed, and ascends to the God Tiers.
Butt Monkey: Equius seems to take a lot of abuse, particularly from Gamzee. Tavros gives him a lot of crap too until they enter into an auspistice together with Eridan mediating.
Even then, he still gives and takes a lot of shit from (and to) them.
Can't Spit It Out: Sollux is like this in all of his relationships, which is especially frustrating for Feferi (she'd be just as happy to be his moirail or matesprit, but which is it? that's what she claims, but it turns out she just wanted to be Sollux's moirail all along) and Vriska (who wants to be his kismesis).
Terezi is also having this problem in trying to become Aradia's moirail. She gets better at it.
Smoking Gun: Done twice against Nepeta. First, video footage of her hive shows her leaving on the night in question when she tries to claim she spent the entire night at her hive. She then changes her story, by claiming she went out to go on some game quests. Terezi then produces the video footage of her attacking Eridan.
In the end, Terezi for Karkat as well. Their failed flushed feelings for each other results in their kismessitude.
Fix Fic: A Homestuck where the trolls manage to get their relationship shit together.
Foreshadowing: Quite a lot of it, to the point where it isn't much of a spoiler which couples are paired off as matesprits, moirails, and even kismeses. The main suspense is seeing how they all get there.
Friendly Rivalry: According to Eridan and Terezi, this is what the relationship a troll is supposed to have with their kismesis. Terezi even uses these exact words to describe it.
Nepeta/Eridan, Vriska/Sollux, Tavros/Aradia, Kanaya/Feferi, Equius/Gamzee and Karkat/Terezi have all been confirmed to be kismeses.
''->"CC: But t)(en, t)(at is )(ardly t)(e ONLY TA I've forked in t)(e past couple of days!!" As of this suggestive line in the beginning of chapter 26, it is fair to say that Sollux/Feferi is explicitly implied. In explanation, Sollux's trollian handle is twinArmageddons, and is shortened by the chat client to TA. A "TA" which Feferi has apparently forked.
Gender Flip: PossiblyEridan and Terezi; at one point they refer to each other as "Miss Ampora" and "Mister Pyrope" though whether this actually has any meaning remains to be seen.
Heel-Face Turn: Vriska's much nicer once she becomes successfully shipped.
Both Mindfang and Dualscar in "The Death of Spinneret Mindfang".
Heroic BSOD: Nepeta experiences this over realizing she's hurt Karkat in shipping Terezi with Eridan.
Heterosexual Life-Partners / Platonic Life Partners: The moirails. We have Nepeta/Equius, Vriska/Tavros, Gamzee/Eridan, Terezi/Aradia, Sollux/Feferi and Karkat/Kanaya. The moirails of the same gender (Gamzee/Eridan, Terezi/Aradia) are HLPs, while the moirails of different genders (Nepeta/Equius, Vriska/Tavros, Sollux/Feferi, Karkat/Kanaya) are PLPs.
Just Friends: Given the specific quadrant take. It turns out that, pre-game, Tavros was flushed for Aradia while Aradia was pale for Tavros. And even though, thanks to Nepeta, Tavros now has a matesprit and Aradia now has a moirail they're both happy with, they still have partial flushed/pale feelings for each other. It's the frustration that arises from these incompatible feelings that's one reason they are now kismesis to each other (see Took a Level in Jerkass below for the other reason).
It also turns out this is why Sollux wouldn't commit to what his relationship was with Feferi. Sollux had been flushed for Aradia all along, but thought she was now unobtainable after she got killed and her spirit possessed a robot. Feferi, with her cheerful, friendly personality, reminded Sollux of the way Aradia used to be. So he was trying to become flushed for Feferi and become her matesprit. It wasn't working.
Mood Whiplash: Chapter 12 is largely a memo celebration of the matespritship of Eridan/Terezi. Everyone (except Sollux) seems to be having a great time...and then a heartbroken Karkat shows up with his outburst.
Chapter 19 has a lot of this. It starts off as an adventure where Nepeta and Feferi travel to Derse to retrieve Aradia's dreamself, goes to heartwarming as Sollux and Aradia (still in robot form) reveal their flushed feelings for each other, turns to horrific when the Aradiabot explodes and Sollux tries to kill himself, switches back to heartwarming when Aradia rescues Sollux and he gets both of his red quadrants filled, and ends on kinky.
A caliginous one occured between Vriska and Sollux/Aradia.
And now Sollux/Aradia have another one with Tavros.
Another has happened as of chapter 26, with Nepeta, Eridan, and Terezi.
It seems Aradia and Sollux are trying to spread this to everyone, with a moirail/matesprit version too.
Eridan is asked if his Auspistice sessions with Equius and Tavros result in this. He replies, "Not all of them."
Chapter 28 leads to BOTH a threesome AND a foursome that are discussed in more detail in Chapter 29.
The threesome is Kanaya/Vriska/Feferi.
The foursome is Gamzee/Equius/Tavros/Eridan.
OOC Is Serious Business: When Nepeta drops the cat puns (and in the pesterlogs/memoes, her :33< emoticons), it means she's REALLY upset.
Poor Communication Kills: Terezi gets Aradia to come to Sollux so they can reveal their flushed feelings for each other. At the same time, Feferi goes to Derse to elevate Aradia's dreamself to God Tier, bringing her fully back to life. Two good plans that result in the Aradiabot blowing up in front of Sollux driving him to attempt suicide.
Also in Chapter 23, anytime Aradia delivers a witty insult, she slips on a pair of shades, which she claims cause the ouija spirits to shout cheers of approoval, one of whom she swears sounds just like "the late Troll Roger Daltrey."
The Trial of Nepeta Leijon for the attempted murder of Eridan Ampora is a partial version of this. Everyone's roleplaying, but except for Feferi as the judge and Equius as the bailiff, everyone's playing themselves based on an incident (Nepeta's attack of Eridan) that has actually happened.
The Road to the Undoing FLARPing session, although there's no actual roleplaying. Even the deaths are real. Fortunately for both players, Death Is Cheap.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: As Eridan is waiting for Nepeta to get back to him while she chats with Feferi, he complains they could be writing a fanfiction in the time that it's taking them. The first thing Nepeta says when she gets back is, "There was no fiction involved!"
The End... Or Is It?: Vriska insists that despite appearances, Spinnaret and Dolorosa were not killed when they walked the plank.
More recently, Tavros gave one to Sollux for the way he's been treating Vriska.
Eridan calls these things a "calliginous diatribe". He gives one to Nepeta that's only partly this trope, but is mostly about why kismesis is an essential part of the quadrant.
Aradia and Tavros make these to each other just before the hatesnogging.
Nepeta and Karkat give Terezi and Eridan a major one for engineering the Road To The Undoing FLARP session in order to get Aradia and Tavros together as kismeses, and completely ruining the fun night out both players were expecting to have.
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Invoked in Chapter 23's FLARP session. The players are granted bonus Experience Points for insulting each other, but if either player dies, they're both sent back to the previous checkpoint.
Given that Tavros was flushed for Aradia, who at the time of the session was Sollux's matespirit, and Aradia was pale for Tavros, who at the time of the session was Vriska's moirail, the situation went downhill very fast.
The Eeyore: Both Sollux and Aradia in the earlier chapters. In Homestuck their pessimism is fully justified. Here it's not for long.
Future!Karkat (all three of them) at Nepeta's mock trial.
Eridan has gone from a whiny, heartbroken, pathetic douche to a confident, happily shipped, successfully blackrom-shipping douche.
After Gamzee sobers up, he starts, with Tavros' encouragement, heaping piles of abuse on Equius, who for the most part stands still and takes it. After a while, Equius grows a spine, stands up for himself and starts giving Gamzee shit back.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Tavros in the later chapters. None feel this more strongly than Tavros' former friend Aradia. This is one reason why Tavros and Aradia are now kismeses for each other (see Just Friends above for the other reason).
In chapter 24 he is called out on this by Vriska and Gamzee of all people, with Vriska admitting that she had dropped the ball on her part.
As it turns out, more than a few trolls take some levels in dickery, such as Terezi (in regard to Karkat), Karkat (in regard to Terezi and Eridan), Gamzee (in regard to Equius) and Kanaya (in regard to Feferi), though they do occasionally get better.
All of these examples result in a kismessitude. There's even a bit of a pattern for most them: Troll gains a new matesprit and/or moirail. Troll gains confidence from new relationship(s). Troll's confidence leads to arrogance. Troll's arrogance arouses the ire of another troll, leading to a kismessitude.
Terezi and Sollux take several levels of jerkass in regard to Karkat. Sollux in particular becomes a real arsehole, such as when he mocks Karkat for actually being upset and worried that Sollux threatened to and attempted to commit suicide.
Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Karkat (wrongly) fears this is happening between him and Nepeta. Initially, he figured out her feelings for him, but he despised her at the time, and so did nothing about it. Now, after he's seen her take a level in badass, he's flushed for her, but fears she no longer feels the same way about him.
The Watson: Terezi is this to Aradia's investigation as to why this doomed timeline isn't being destroyed.
Inverted to the point that Terezi/Aradia's investigation bears a closer relationship to Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin, where Aradia/Goodwin does all the investigating while Terezi/Nero comes up with all the solutions. Terezi even says at one point, "Elementary, my dear Megido," implying that it's Aradia who's the true Watson in this investigation.
What the Hell, Hero?: Both Aradia and Feferi chew out Sollux for trying to kill himself even though both of them had told him that Aradia had not died when her 'bot exploded.
All the other trolls (even his matesprit and moirail) do this to Tavros in Chapter 24 for becoming a jerkass.
Karkat gives one to Terezi for threatening to reveal his blood colour, because she's a blueblood and she has no idea what it's like to live as a mutant.
In the Chapter 31 Re Cut, several trolls chew out Feferi for forcing an unwanted French kiss on Karkat.
World of Pun: All of Feferi and Equius' interactions. All of them.