Chapter 5, Page 13

Back in the lava field

For local CA Bay Area readers, today (Sat 2/10) I’ll be tabling for a few hours at the Peninsula Libraries Comic Arts Fest! I’ll be in the Oak Room at the San Mateo Main public library with copies of The Meek, Elements, and various minicomics and pins and such; there will be several local artists there, so it’s nice way to spend an hour this afternoon~

The 2018 Hugo Award Nominations are open! If you enjoyed my work in the previous year, I would be extremely grateful if you’d consider nominating “Mare Internum: Chapter 4” in the Best Graphic Story category (due to the voting process, only complete segments- such as a chapter- of a work are eligible for nomination. Next year the complete work will be eligible).

Thank you for putting up with my nervous forays into legitimacy, and of course for considering me~


  • Kit

    Bex, what are your secrets!? When did you take Thrip as a second language? I thought it had to be a processeor given ability and Bex didn’t survive the fall down either… but then why wouldn’t anyone else be able to understand Thrip? Clearly, I am awful at solving mysteries before the plot advances far enough.

    • awhorl

      Bex just knew. Levi ran up to her and started thripping, and she heard it as English. Same with the creatures who wanted a liquid sample–they or Bex had some kind of translator capability.

      At that surreal moment, when it became clear that Thrip was Levi, and he spoke English and wanted to find Fish/Mike, it made perfect sense that a scientist who studied insects (for whatever reason!) would come with a built in app for understanding hard- (or soft-?) shelled Martian-bodied AI exploratory bots. Der-Shing kinda can do that.

    • japhet

      the processor imbued bex with translator ability on [this page]( – she fell into the water for the first time, and she also began understanding threvi at that time

    • Bradford

      It’s a gift from the processor alright.

      My first gift to you is the gift of comprehension.
      I have seen that what you desire the most is to be understood.
      No word you speak, nor word spoken to you, shall be obscured.

  • Becky

    ok wait… can’t Mike understand Levi? I had thought he could or how would he know what/who Levi was? I know Bec can understand him and it looks like Bec is telling them what Levi is saying? I forget things if it’s been awhile but I thought Mike understood what he said because otherwise, he would just think he was a bug or something. right? Also, when did we last see lava fields? I don’t remember anyone being here before. All I remember is by the water and them climbing up the rocky hills and cliffs and in lava tunnels but not on lava fields before.

    • Whachamacallit

      He doesn’t understand Levi. When he first met Levi, he thought he was just Kalla’s pet. I don’t know when Mike found out that Levi was the golden thrip, but maybe the Processor told him?

    • shingworks

      She’s overlooking them on the cover of chapter 4, then she walks past them twice in chapter 4 (once together with Levi on the top of the cliff, once by herself on the way to the processor).

    • SSR

      I am also very confused by the language thing, why can Mike still not understand anything, despite being so well integrated with the system? Did the processor just decide Bex gets to talk but he doesn’t?

      • JJ

        I guess the latter. Mike gets to have a not-broken leg and to breathe underwater (and to have a friend), and Bex gets to communicate.

  • Anthony

    Its difficult to describe how nice it is to see everyone together and at least temporarily working towards the same goals.

  • Pylgrim

    Like it or not, you are now a team, a machine that needs all of its components in order to function.

    • Lilian

      Now don’t you just hate when that happens?

    • Edmund

      It used to be automated, but those parts went extinct, so now we do it manually.

  • Kat Serapha


    Also extremely happy that Kalla and Mike are teamed up again.

    • DukeBG


      Everyone’s teamed up! Though not sure if everyone is really working as a team yet.

  • Lilian

    The lighting on this page is so unlike the way it’s been for… for a long time that it’s startling. Beautiful, but startling.

  • Ceceoh

    Look out! Wellsian Martians at 12:00!

    • MikeLinPA

      I was wondering what that was. I was thinking the striders from Half Life II, but, Naw!

  • arteopteryx

    Oh shoot! Now that Bex — who can understand LEVi — is with them, maybe they’ll finally learn what happened to create the LEVi and Kalla skeleton diorama in the “Mirror” in Kalla’s room. Aaaaah!! Unless LEVi also has a pre-death memory gap…

  • Karencopyedits

    I’m certainly glad the Processor prefers them not to be dead. But… Why? What is it planning to do with them?

    • AGV

      Still hoping to assimilate them through less offensive means I guess

    • Annonymouse

      More than likely it has backups already made but is watching and waiting for what these instances will do. Heck it may already have mapped out a plan based on their path thus far and forwards.

      If the processor is not just about sustaining it’s closed system – an eventual fail since its environment will eventually evaporate as the sun expands – It may have imbued enough data into our team to seed the future for it’s charges.

  • CharlesW81

    “Threat display”… So the processor DIDN’T really try to kill Bex, it just wanted to scare her and maybe the rest of them, so they know what their disobedience will result in.

    …And sure enough they’re headed right back to Kalla’s so I’m thinking Bex’s hesitation is the realisation that it’s hearding them right where it wants them, into subordination and inaction. Go home, get comfortable and give up.

    • KatieP

      I think you’re right–I think Bex doesn’t like where this is going.

  • awhorl

    How thoroughly integrated is Kalla into the Processor? Is that going to be another reveal? So far she’s seemed independent, even a prisoner, and we have assumed that the bones we saw were hers, left as she was killed (or tried to end her life) during interviews with the Processor.

    Also, when she pronounces upon the Processor’s wishes and seems to know more than, say, Mike, we presume that her remarks are based on experience–she’s had a long time to learn from experience.

    But we still don’t know why she’s the only one left, and we don’t know how the presumed penetration of her mind worked on her. If there were others, what happened to them? Are they thripps or something? Can Bex understand them if they cared to address her? If there are no others, why not?

    • CharlesW81

      I agree. I feel like there’s a purpose to Kalla but possibly the Processor disagreed with it and wiped the memories from her mind, but can’t permanently kill or alter her into another body.

      Alternatively she’s so old that the memories are forgotten or distorted with the ages.

    • Annonymouse

      There is also the possibility that the rest of here people are just data in storage.
      It is so much easier to look after a simple integrated self contained system as opposed to one running amok with free willed idiots in the mix.

    • Lilian

      I don’t understand the purpose of preserving one complete Wollaria in Mare Internum either. If Kallakore wasn’t originally alone, that begs the question of what happened to the others.

      I wonder if the Processor has truly done what was intended.

  • Jojo

    Nice change in lightly. I love these angles too. Its a good transition from the dark and tense environment in the previous few pages.

  • Scoot

    Largely unrelated to the story, but I’m suddenly curious about this. Did Bex choose her nickname for herself? Or did someone else give it to her? I get the feeling that it’s something she would’ve chosen herself, to maybe get away from the pressures of her past or something like that. May be reading too much into it, I’m just curious if there’s any canon on this.

    • Ben

      Bex was formally introduced to the Mars team as her full name and title, and replied “please, call me Bex”. So Mike calls her that, as her expressed preference.

      Her husband doesn’t appear to use the name

  • CharlesW81

    It occurs to me that Mike was fearful of people injecting thoughts into his mind… Thats quite possibly a valid fear with regards to the processor.

  • Jude

    this is great.i read everything this morning and… wow. you’re creating something really extraordinary. its really fascinating. how long did it took you to plan all of this?? im really amazed.

    • shingworks

      Part of it is preplanned, and a giant chunk I write as I go XD I love writing stories organically like this, and the thrill of updating it live.

  • Mira

    !!! I’ve been doing nothing but reading this the past few days, and I’m so hooked! The art is amazing and the story is so interesting and I’m so excited to see more and learn more about the characters and this world they’re living in. Waiting eagerly for the next update!

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