Cities in Dust is an Alternate Universe fic, in a Film Noir setting. Set in the corrupt, crime-ridden city of Newternia, where Derse agents, Prospit agents, and humans are all second-class citizens in a troll-dominated society. Dave Strider is a Hardboiled Detective, and one of the few human detectives in the city, who is forced to partner up with a highblood legislacerator. Continuity Nods and Mythology Gags abound, and the characterization is stunningly loyal.
And like the comic it was spun off from, it comes with its own soundtrack. The author frequently links to music to go with the scenes.
shit lets be hardboiled
- Alien Catnip: The human drug insulin is toxic to trolls.
- All Just a Dream: The entire story takes place in a dream bubble, created by Aradia to stabilize Billious Slick. All they have to do to accomplish that is Wake Up.
- Almighty Janitor: Hinted at with John. He's an optimistic homeless street performer who mysteriously knows a lot of things. Later chapters tell us that John is more than likely Awake, and trying to push the other dreamers into waking up so they can all go home.
- Arc Words: "Wake up."
- Berserk Button: For Dave, trolls who hunt humans for sport.
- Crapsack World: Not as bad as Alternia, but that's not saying much.
- Da Chief: AR, now Authoritative Redresser.
- Deadpan Snarker: Most of the characters, but special mention goes to Dave.
- Dramatic Unmask: That chap with the Derse carapace is... Karkat?
- Fantastic Caste System: The troll hemospectrum system from Homestuck.
- Fantastic Racism: On top of hemospectrum shenanigans, Newternian society is troll-dominated, with carapacians and humans as second-class citizens.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Terezi claims to have eaten her last partner as punishment for insubordination. She explains this to Dave on their first day on the job, although she reassures him that she only eats other trolls.
- I Am the Trope: Terezi jokingly suggests that Dave call her "The Law." He spends the next few chapters sarcastically calling her "Ms. The Law."
- Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Terezi picks out her clothes based on how good they taste. This occasionally results in her wearing a lime-green and purple checked dress with a bright red dragon on it.
- Jabba Table Manners: Terezi has a habit of getting donut all over her face when she snacks.>WATCH PYROPE CONSUME EVERY LAST BITE OF THAT VERMILION BAKED CONFECTIONERY TREAT
what you are watching is a disaster. its a goddamn tragedy. its a three train pile up and every single train was filled with deaf children on their way to their first circus ever.
- Judge, Jury, and Executioner: Legislacerators are the law.
- Never Say That Again: Dave's reaction to Terezi calling him "Coolkid".
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Terezi is usually cheerful while inspecting gory crime scenes.
- The Pollyanna: John, true to form.
- Posthumous Character: Tavros, Feferi, Nepeta and Equius.
- Professor Guinea Pig: Terezi's reaction to finding that a troll has been poisoned by topical contact with insulin? Start touching everything in the room and tell Dave to time how long it takes before her fingernails start bleeding so they can establish a chronology.
- Psychic Powers: Vriska and Rose.
- Raised by Dudes: Karkat was adopted and raised by the Midnight Crew. Spades Slick is a bit of an idiot and gave him horrible advice, but the more level-headed Diamonds Droog and Hearts Boxcars were able to act as decent parental figures. Karkat still picked up Slick's temper though.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Both of our protagonists.
- Religion of Evil: The main religion of Newternia worships the Horrorterrors. Not especially surprising, considering that thousands of years ago, Newternia used to be Derse.
- Sensory Overload: Used by Karkat while fleeing from the detectives. It doesn't work too well.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Invoked and subverted. Dave is worried this will happen when he has a social meeting with Terezi, but it's ruined by her fashion sense.
- Smoking Is Cool: Although Terezi disagrees, as it interferes with her "sight".
- Snark Knight: Dave.
- Sophisticated as Hell: Dave's inner monologue.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The music played while investigating crime scenes is usually hilariously inappropriate. Of course, Terezi always thinks it's perfect.
- Together in Death: Equius and Nepata as a mockery of their Moirailigience. Terezi doesn't take it well.
- Vigilante Man: Vriska and Karkat.
- Wham Episode: Three in a row. Chapter seventeen reveals that Vriska's dead, chapter eighteen gives us the dance scene, where it's revealed that Jade disappeared, that Dave still considers himself in love with her, and that Terezi is genuinely in love with Dave, and then chapter nineteen trumps both with the reveal that this may not be exactly an AU after all.