Chapter 4, Page 37

Here’s some happy friends to make up for the sad page

In case you missed my giant banner, lol, I’m nominated for an Ignatz which is voted on by Saturday attendees at SPX this weekend in Bethesda Maryland. Obviously I’m a crazy person whose life is mainly made up of comics, and I’d definitely rather lose because I suck than because I didn’t fight for it hard enough, so if you’re going, please consider voting for me (and for the Elements Anthology!)

Also, thank you for the incredible comments on the previous page, I was really blown away by how thoughtful and perceptive you all are… though I should be used to it by now. I loved reading all your analyses, and could not ask for better readers.

Oh yeah and look at this amazing sculpt by Joelle Saveliev that I was gifted this weekend at RCCC, I am still screaming about it.

Thank you very much :]


  • John

    Panel 6… Such feels!

  • HyruleSymbol

    So driven, but so Afraid, Confused and Lonely

    • shingworks

      It’s lonely at the top, and the bottom.

      • Kent

        A sandwich of loneliness.

      • anton

        The bottom is the capital of Saba.

      • Alan

        And when you were near the top, but suddenly at the bottom.

    • Dogma

      Realizing indecision is a killer when you’re deep underground and ~55 million km from Earth, the latter of which you signed up for.

  • Kyle

    At the top of THAT chimney?

    That doesn’t seem possible…

  • Beautiful colors on this page!

  • AGV

    Poor Bex…

  • I read back on the last page’s comments after it was mentioned and was really surprised that a lot of people don’t like Bex??? I’d consider her actions extremely valid up to this point given the situation AND her past, even though the consequences of those actions are just as fair. She’s understandably unpleasant right now but, I wouldn’t be so quick to cast disdain on her or say Michael has been comparatively more pleasant at this point. Both of their introductory treatments of the cave and other characters has been a level of dissociation and selfishness out of fear and denial.

    • Eversist

      I agree, but you know how people are.

    • James

      Mike was introduced to us barely hanging on to life and sanity… Bex was (re)introduced to the current storyline killing a character that was arguably better liked than any other so far.
      Shing’s revelation (in comments) that Bex has her own mental demons has made me re-assess my attitude vis-a-vis Bex Vs Mike. I think Bex will be further rehabilitated toward the audience as time goes on (right now the audience knows more than Bex does about her situation, and that can be frustrating and lead to people blaming the character for “stupidly” not behaving in the optimal manner obvious to the omnipotent viewer)
      There are other, less reasonable reasons for disliking the character (there seems to be some speculation about her relationship to her family that I don’t think are borne out by the backstory so far revealed), the responsibilities of motherhood and marriage are hot button issues to many who would cheerfully ignore a husband and father ditching family in search of adventure…

  • Luces

    Wait. Levi told Bex the way, but not Mike? Because of his additions or because he is the nicer one of the two right now?
    Or does this way end at the start?

    • Eversist

      If I’m not mistaken, Levi wasn’t able to communicate with Mike, but Bex can understand them.

    • shingworks

      Well, Mike can’t talk to Threvi, so no. By the time the original robot LEVi was deep enough to know anything about the chamber, he was way out of communication range, and had been considered lost to the base at the start of the comic. As far as we know, Mike has no idea LEVi is still alive; last he saw, his robot was an empty chassis at the bottom of Kalla’s pond.

    • Ben

      if I remember correctly, Bex’s suit is still pressure-tight and her helmet is intact, so she is equipped to go out onto a surface which (so far as we have seen) is pretty much consistent with contemporary, IRL Martian conditions. The Rover is still, presumably, where she left it and she knows how to drive it, so she can return to the base.

      Mike’s suit is torn down one leg and his helmet is broken; he may not be able to put it on at all, by now, because of his changes. We haven’t seen anything which suggests that the changes equip anyone down there, to survive on the surface.

      We have just been told that the cavern has a supply of geothermal energy, steam and gases containing (presumably) oxygen, carbon and sulphides.

      Levi/Thrip is, as far as we have been shown, a reliable witness who might legitimately know at least one way to the surface, although that knowledge might no longer be valid because of rockfalls altering the topography and/or blocking the route.

      Bex knows all of the above. I don’t recall how much she knows of Mike’s mental issues, although she certainly knows Mike has been sacked (because he told her, IIRC). However she thought he was sane enough to go on an EVA with him, including driving some distance from the Base and abseiling down a cave.

      The “processor” may simply be a contact Zone with the geothermal/toxic gas emissions, “dangerous” in a literal sense.

      I don’t see anything preventing an ending along the lines of “Bex returns to the surface following Levi’s directions, drives back to the base, resigns, takes Mike’s place on the return flight (which we know is available) and returns to a life of academic research into Martian colonisation. She may, or may not, reconcile herself with her family and may, or may not, return to Mars at a later date. Mike remains in the cavern; nothing of him that doth fade, but doth undergo a Sea-change into something rich and strange”.

      Just guessing here, but it all fits. There could even be a long-term ending of Bex, or one if her pupils, meeting a transformed Mike …

      • Roo

        ….damn, you’re way better at delving into all this than I am! Here all I thought was “Oh hey maybe next time we see Michael he’ll look like Harold the tree from Fallout 3.”

      • Tim F

        These are good points, but I think we should give up on the idea of walking or climbing out. If the cavern can keep its pressure and temperature stable without an airlock seal, that means it must be one or more miles straight down.

        I do not believe we have seen Mike’s full journey down. We certainly don’t know how Bex made it, but there must be more to it than a cave in followed by a splash.

        My best guess, the cavern exists to hold on until conditions on the third planet are habitable, then go colonize it in the name of Kallakore’s people. How does it know the third planet is habitable? Eventually it will evolve life that will fly to the fourth planet and find the cavern, activating it. Then the much more advanced Kalla computers will study the foreign creatures and evaluate the best way to subdue us and re-purpose our planet.

        If Michael or Bex do get out, it’ll be with help from down below, and they might not like what they see.

        • Tim F

          For example, if the processors can duplicate life then Michael and Bex may well have crawled out of the cavern already. As I recall ‘Michael’ was due shortly for a rocket back to Earth.

        • SomeUnregPunk

          Or the cavern exists solely to exist due to missing parts.

          Imagine if you had a machine that would do a variety of tasks under the guidance of a set of rules with a self repair feature.

          The machine works the tasks in order until the goal is done… but what if goal was somehow damaged or missing from the machine’s code and the self repair feature couldn’t restore the goal as well?

          Then you got a machine that will keep running tasks until it can’t work anymore.

          That’s what I figure is going on in this place. Everyone, from the sentient life-forms to the sentient and non sentient machines are screwed up.

  • Nik

    After Bex finds the processor and it kills her, I wonder what she will come back as?

    • shingworks

      Kill her?? you don’t think there’s other options? maybe it will give her candy?

      • Bradford

        I imagine it as a food processor meets sarlacc pit meets 3D printer.

        • Linebyline

          Yes, and on Mars, that is what you use to make candy.

  • Vert

    Looks like Bex needs someone who is good at climbing! I wonder if there’s anyone down here like that?

  • okno

    after reading all the “discourse” on last page, was just wondering: do we know that Bex’s family is alive? I don’t remember.

    • shingworks

      :x it hasn’t come up

      • Tadrix

        Well, that would explain quite a few things…

      • spottedspeck

        Oooh… ^Yeah you said it.

      • Artie O'Dactyl

        Given that duplicated creatures don’t seem to remember being resurrected, I’m starting to wonder if a lot of time might have passed since the humans entered the cave ecosystem. A lot, as in tens of thousands of years. Perhaps Fish and Bex will emerge to find Mars fully terraformed … or that humans are extinct.

        • Sandy Noname

          When Mike and Rebecca left the station, he was just a bit unshaven.
          But when we last saw him here he has a rather thick beard, although yet not long.

          • Lilacgirl8

            Yeah, but we don’t know how exactly the processor would interact with human hair. It might be “resetting” it to the first encounter, when it was a bit unshaven, every time.

        • Lilacgirl8

          I *really* like this theory! I hope this turns out to be the case.

    • Ellie

      This page: certainly implies that they are.

    • Ellie

      Or that Bex is in such deep denial that Dr. Livingstone spent his career looking for her source.

      • Sheridan


  • ObservantWolf

    Sure, easy. Hmm, are those spots on her face a sign of the Martian life inside her that allows her to understand Levi?

  • Retterhardt

    I LOVE THREVI’S derpy little stalk-eyeballs

    • Artie O'Dactyl

      But they seem to be “simple” eyes. I sort of expected compound eyes, as on a bee or trilobite.

  • Ben

    So – are the lava field and steam vents, the source of the atmosphere, heat and water?

    • shingworks

      yep, convenient!

      • Ben

        I knew dat!

        See my post above about possible endings..

  • Jac

    Man. This comic is so intense. I love your work.

  • Indedipal

    I notice Bex is carrying a pointy… Did Kallacore let her keep her elbow…?

    • JJ

      Kalla probably isn’t overly attached to her elbow.

      • shingworks

        She’s got two already, I guess that’s enough

  • DukeBG

    I just realised… why did Bex leave her helmet behind? The battery finally went off in it?

    • Ben

      She is carrying a bag of some kind, her helmet may be in there? She surely knows that she can’t go to the surface without it

      • shingworks

        Yeah it’s in her bag, we’ll see it again soon

  • Tadrix

    A question.
    So far we know of these characters:

    Terrans (Humans)
    Commander Penelope “Pen” Goto (US) — administration, has medical background (military)
    Dr. Y. Braid (US) — ???
    Dr. Michael Arne “Fish” Fisher (US) — planetary geologist and engineer
    Dr. Ross Fung (US) — comm engineer
    Dr. Greg Vietes (ES) — station’s practicing doctor
    Dr. Rebekah “Bex” Egunsola (NG) — entomologist

    Martians (Wollaria)
    Kallakore “Kalla” “Armshark”

    LEVi “Thrip” — former Levitating Imager

    1. Is plural for Kallakore’s species “Wollaria”, “Wollariae” or “Wollarias”?
    2. Who is this dr. Braid? What’s this person’s function on Devotion, and what this “Y.” stands for?

    • Android 21 3/7

      3. :,( Am I the only one who remembers Thighfriend anymore?

    • shingworks

      1. Wollarians
      2. Dr. Braid was Mike’s old partner on the LEVi project (the engineer), who was reassigned to another group elsewhere cuz Mike sucks. The Y stands for Young-Jin

    • Tadrix

      Thanks, Shing!

      @Android 21 3/7: Nah, I remember. “Thighfriend” is a parasite, currently attached to Mike’s femur, I believe, and its sentience isn’t (yet) known, so… hardly a character. We’ve also met the first LEVi and unnamed Martian automatons, who tried to establish contact with Bex, but they aren’t especially unique or recurring.

  • Gonfrask

    Alone again…that´s hard

    • AGV


  • BigDogLittleCat

    This page is breath-takingly beautiful. Then it’s heartbreaking.

  • LanceDance

    Yea, that`s what you`ve got, when you`re jerk, woman!

    • AGV

      Oh, c’mon, get in her shoes and give her a break, geez

  • Ana

    I read the whole comic yesterday and i gotta say im IN LOVE with it! The story, the art, wow, i cant wait for the next page.

    Im starting to read The meek now :)

    Thank you SO much for sharing your talent.

  • pooter

    Are those two bumps on her face going to develop into weird fungus filters to help her better adapt to the environment?

    • JJ

      Tentacles for climbing would be nice.

      • Jirenta

        Well, could hurt. The Spots are directly in her Face, after all. Plus, speaking with them -could- become a struggle.

        As always, curious for the next Page(s)! Keep up the great work <3

  • Austin Garrett

    My first reaction after that last panel was “Awww, poor Bex…”

    Great work!

  • StClair

    You’ve already abandoned one child, what’s another, right?
    (note: sarcasm, and sympathy)

  • Read the comic in a frenzy and my only complaint is that there isn’t more of it. <3

    • shingworks

      Haha, same complaint on my end XD Thank you so much for reading, next page hopefully up for the weekend! In the meantime you could always binge my other weird adventure comic, The Meek~

  • zeb

    Aww Bex :(

  • Alan

    Stop crying and get climbing lady! We’ve got a comic to read!

    • Poutnik

      Yes! :-)

  • Gaylee

    I’ve read this like 3 times now… Dying to read the rest. <3

  • Amanda

    You know, I always had a general song that came in my mind whenever I read this comic…

  • R Coots

    *flail* Oh halp I just found this today and read it all and now there’s no more and I need to go to Patreon and where is Mike and yay Kalla is back and Bex you kept Levi on a leash, what did you expect? *flop* More please?

  • Sheridan

    I’d like to know more about these ‘vent tenders’ we can see in the distance.

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