Chapter 5, Page 2

What do you think the processor was about to say? “I can offer you a 50% off coupon to the foodcourt”

Case you missed it, newly public tutorial about teaching yourself art is up at the Tumb, and a new Patreon tutorial about doing something really stupid like quitting your job to be a full-time artist is up as well.

And, thanks very much to reader Anne who wrote to help me correct my verbiage! Hugo Noms are opening soon to previously-registered Worldcon Members, and if you’d consider nominating the eligible chapter from 2017, I would be extremely grateful.

I’ll be keeping this image up as long as this diaphanous dream drifts within me (ie until noms open/ close)

Next page tomorrow, see you then~


  • poot

    I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.

    • Glavos

      HAL would be proud

    • poot

      Also, is it a coincidence that the Processor looks sort of like Kalla?

      • RedDwarfIV

        Likely not. Its probably using the image of Kalla’s species, in the same way we often give AIs human form in sci-fi, whether it be through androids or holograms or pictures on screens.

        • Sheridan

          It’s swaying its ‘head’ side to side, in the same manner as Kalla,which is a nice touch.

  • Spark

    Error 404, exit not found.

    • Unwary

      Proccesor: Error 502, Bad Gateway
      Bex: Error 406. Not Acceptable
      Both: Error 409, Conflict

      • Edmund

        Processor: redirection 300, Multiple Choices
        Bex: error 400, Bad Request
        Mike: redirection 301, Moved Permanently

  • Mork

    Wizard of Oz, yo

  • Harrumph

    Seems they are offering her a wonderful opportunity to get in early on a multi level marketing program!

  • Allen

    This is not the exit you are looking for. Continue on.

  • rimmeh

    “We can only give you store credit.”

    • shingworks


  • Ashley

    “opportunity”, perhaps?

    • Wlerin

      That makes the most sense, but there aren’t enough letters.

  • David

    Good job, Bex. Get pissed off and aggressive before you listen to what the processor has to say.

    • Android 21 3/7

      She’s had a hard time. She had to make the gut-wrenching decision of choosing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity or her children with a possibly emotionally abusive husband (still not convinced he was, but I will admit to the possibility of it), continues to be in emotional turmoil for that (I’m not convinced she made the right decision in regards to her kids either), has been trapped underground for who knows how long, had to adapt to an unfamiliar and alien environment (and I remind you that life on Earth is pretty dang hostile and she had no way of knowing Martians are friendly due to the language barrier only traversed recently), repeatedly visited by worm ants who wanted a sample of her brain fluid, nearly got choked to death by wall worms, met LEVi and was subsequently abandoned by them due to them “liking Kalla more”, had to make a very harsh climb up to meet the processor, and then there’s the fact that Mike is walking around with his now numerous friends growing on his body.

      I personally can’t blame her for her nerves running short and losing her temper. If I had endured only half of that list, I might throw a similar tantrum.

      • David

        Well, it may be useless to ask the processor *why* she can’t go back home. If it’s anything like an earth computer, it’ll just say “access denied” or “information unavailable”.

        Although, I think she may not be able to leave for a very simple reason. How’s she going to breathe once she gets out of the cave? Thighfriend and the other symbiotes may be able to help them while they’re underground, but Mars’s atmosphere is extremely thin.

        • JJ

          She kept her helmet and her suit seems undamaged.

      • Linebyline

        If I had endured half of that, I would not be nearly mentally/emotionally intact enough to throw such a coherent tantrum.

    • Walex

      Well, both Becca and Mike have been acting out like entitled, violent morons since the beginning of the comic, as if they were loud, rich, stupid american tourists in some caribbean resort.

      Yes, we know that Mike is psychotic for various previous traumas and he threw away his pills, and that Becca has big issues, but that presupposes that they passed selection for the fantastic cost of a mission to Mars despite being complete nutters.

      That’s a flaw of “Mare Internum” and so many other comics: that to generate a constant flow of drama the characters have to act out in an incredibly stupid way like people do in a cheap TV series (and who knows, perhaps in real USA life they do really behave like that).

      • JJ
        • Android 21 3/7

          I’m personally fond calling her of Bexie-Boo.

  • Brushtail

    So I just noticed the collar of her suit in panel one, with the broken out helmet. this makes me wonder, how long has Bex been walking around with a necklace of broken glass? Say what you will about her personal choices, this lady is bad-ass.

    • Android 21 3/7

      Broken glass? Might be a torn rubber seal.

    • shingworks

      haha, it’s the cloth that covers the area around her neck, it’s supposed to fit like a loose turtleneck/ apron. She tore it off to make the kerchief she was wearing around her face for most of Ch 4 before it got sucked into the depths of her suit somewhere

  • Wren

    “An opportunity” is my read.

    For…I dunno, space insurance?

  • arteopteryx

    Minor grammar thingy: Strunk and White dictate (haha) that the first bubble should read “Michael and me,” not “Michael and I.” If you take Michael out of it, it would be “learn about me,” so that personal pronoun should remain constant when you add Michael.

    It’s neat seeing the different Wolleria morphology, even though this (projection of a) gal is in a less-than-concrete form. I love the liquid, luminous effect she has! Your lighting is amazing, as usual!

    • shingworks

      argh, you’re right. Brainfart~ thanks for pointing that out!

      • arteopteryx

        You’re welcome. :)

        I know many complain about Strunk and White, but I kind of like their finicky rules. Those stuffy blighters.

    • silversurfer1221

      While “Michael and me” might be grammatically correct since “Michael and I” is in a word balloon and, this, part of what Bex is saying, then grammar can go out the window. Few of us actually speak with perfect grammar at all times. ;)

      • shingworks

        :O also true

  • arteopteryx

    I have to add that I love Wolleria snouts! This one has such a cute little cartilage bump! I want to boop the snooot!! …but that would probably be disrespectful. assuming one even could boop this being of liquid luminosity.

  • Fawkes Rinzler

    I will take your 50% off coupon for the foodcourt… but I won’t enjoy it!!!!!!! *angrily munches on Sbarro*

  • I’s probably gonna be hard to do that without 1) venting part of the underground atmo 2) digging several kilometers outsides its control area

  • Artie O'Dactyl

    “That action is not possible AT THIS TIME.”

    And what time IS it? Or a better question, what DATE is it?

  • JJ

    “I offer you instead an opportunity to permanently work as a cricket farmer on Mars. Oh and if you like I can grow you some kids.”

  • awhorl

    Dem bones dem bones dem DRY bones . . .

  • Luces

    Well, I wondered the whole time.
    Didn’t Kalla said from the first that nobody will get out? Also, there won’t any rescue missions looking for them after such a long time, and Bex can’t survive on the outside without a helm.
    Looks like the Mare has found its human dreamteam!

  • Tim F

    Hey Rod and Tod, do you want happy processor or angry processor?

    Rod and Tod (together): HAPPY PROCESSOR

  • awhorl

    Does Bex remember that she’s talking to an AI? I know that I keep forgetting it. Of course if LEVI is the full personality they seem to be, then The Processor is waaaay beyond anything I can imagine (not even being in the field) and certainly Bex is used to dealing with whatever earthly AI she’s worked with before.

    Yes, she’s stressed all right. Anyway, she has shown a clear sense of purpose throughout–she can’t be accused of indecisiveness.

    • Tim F

      Imagine the infinite patience the processor shows in dealing nicely with the slow, nearly deaf and blind, violent savage who crashed through her roof and bludgeoned everything that moved.

      Soon enough OUR OWN artificial intelligences will regard us as hopelessly dim and glacially slow bosses who can’t lift a finger without breaking something.

  • Raphael

    He’s trying to get her into Martian pyramid selling.

  • AR

    I know that there is long awaited plot going on and such, but my first thought was “thighfriend is looking awfully snazzy in this blue lighting”.
    Mike should be proud, he has the prettiest thighfriend.

    • Spark

      Right? And he said he didn’t get a flower, psh.

  • Blennox

    Dang, this is giving me some SERIOUS Lisa vibes.

  • brokenidealist

    “I offer you instead an opportunity to invest in a lake-side property at our lovely Mare Internum resort.” Bex can’t leave until she’s heard The Processor’s entire sales pitch on Martian time-shares. “Lots of time available with no black-out dates. Get a free face-toaster just for attending this seminar! Buy now, and get the Thighfriend upgrade for free!”

    • Sheridan

      Stop it I’m having flashbacks and cold sweats.

  • Reyna

    *about Michael and me


  • Mårran

    I like how the glowing eyes and the smiling face despite not being funny remind me of Dagre, thus even without comparing the drawing style reveal that both so different comics spring from the mind of the same author :)

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