Chapter 5, Page 52

I miss the real Kalla too :'[

BTW if anyone wants any Word of God answers, please ask them on the Patreon page (here it is for the current page, 52). Out of respect for webcomic reader speculation/ interpretation fun, I won’t be posting any “canon” type spoilers here. That way everyone gets to be right. Even the people who think Kalla looks like an unmentionable from a below angle.

Patrons, yes you are at Kallariffic page 55. Advance MI pages will come to an end in a few updates, so we can all do the ending together on the site. However, new Meek pages are still going up- in the past few days we got pages 7 and page 8 posted for ya~

I’d also like to just generally thank all supporters of my Patreon one more time. You’re the reason I can continue making comics AND sharing them publicly. Without Patreon I would still be able to make comics without much of a problem, but it would be in a much different format. Even the smallest amount has and continues to help me keep all my comics original and free and away from corporate meddling (ie people telling me to make my stories less [this stuff]), so, thank you. Gettin’ emotional in my actually-finished-a-comic old age.

As usual, books and other MI-related things can be ordered or preordered at the Support link~

Oh, and got about a week left on this project, if you would like to learn more about how to meddle corporately

Thank you for reading, looks like we’ll have a 3x update week next week!


  • HousePet

    Heh, I was right about the fungus’s purpose.
    A little bit clumsy, but the Processor did really well even identifying that there was a fault with his brain in the first place.

  • Inwoods

    This is where things got very confusing for me and I lost the thread. Because it DOES seem like there is a difference in Kalla here, at least the Kalla we knew. Are there “three” Kallas? Was the Kalla we first met a mask? Or are they just being overridden here.

    • Mustachio

      The first Kalla he met was a pure copy. This new Kalla is a copy of the copy, but with some kind of remote control-direct access to the Processor. Yet another Kalla was the original, who never met Mike.

      • Jamato


    • Whachamacallit

      I think Kalla’s mind is being controlled to a pretty significant degree by the Processor. While Kalla has died and been resurrected multiple times, I think it was her in the other cases.

      I noticed that Kalla’s eyes are blue in the past few pages, while she normally has pitch black eyes.

    • weezact7

      By my reckoning, there are at least 4 relevant to the story, plus an undisclosed number prior to the events of the comic:

      – The original Kalla who died billions of years ago

      -Numerous copies between the original and the one which met levi. Quoth “Kalla” regarding her 4 billion year lifespan: “From what I can determine I have been brought in and out of stasis … My body has either be restored or preserved.”

      – A copy which met Levi and ultimately died with him, which Michael finds under Levi’s remains

      -A copy which met Michael. This Kalla does not remember what happened to Levi until she gets back into the water (presumably to access the processor’s memories, whether she knows it or not). This copy is killed by Bex

      -A final copy which we are currently witnessing.

      • weezact7

        Actually, the copy which Bex kills finds another corpse there as well, so Bex may have killed two copies of Kalla, either that or some other misfortune befell it. Meaning there were at least two copies who died before we first see her, but recently enough for their corpses to remain.

      • Jeremy Mannikko

        Actually, the Processor even mentions Bex has killed several of “its kind”. So, the question I have is, are all of these Kallas existing simultaneously? Or sequentially? If it’s the latter, how does the Processor know when to make a new one? After a certain length of time not reporting in? And why does her hair change with each iteration, or am I imagining that?

  • Mustachio

    Call me a boring cishet guy, but Kalla in that last panel bothers me. Ick.

    • okbye

      does she look like a penis to you?

      • shingworks

        Mustachio is body shaming Martians?? you heard it here first

        • 0z79

          That actually made me giggle.

      • Mdm Mango

        Well, i’d say this Version of Kalla is a Dick, so it fits.

    • Some_Douchebag

      I’m a boring cishet guy too, but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. There’s only so many ways you can design a vascularized cylinder with a large primary tube running through its center. Bilateral symmetry and the need for skin constricts the design options even further.

      I say this knowing (to my utter dismay) that lots of people have put a lot of thought into dreaming up more “interesting” variations on this form. Some of them probably comment here. The comic’s author might even be such a person.

      • Edmund

        i mean, if freud could put 2 and 2 together regarding flexible cylinder design, anyone can.

    • Lilian

      I’m not a boring cishet guy, and I noticed a similarity way back in Ch. 3, pg. 22.

      Just gonna confess that.

    • Myk Streja

      Kalla looks like a filleted trout to me. Look at the clouds and see how many gonads you find. I never do.

      • Lilian

        But, presumably, you see a lot of fish.

    • St. Clair

      I didn’t even see it. Still don’t, really. Looks like Kalla to me. *shrug*

    • Edmund

      martians came first, and that means our junk looks like aliens and not the other way around.

      this isn’t helping at all :D

      • BDLC

        Literally LOL’d

  • Mr. Casual

    What I really want to know here is, is this the only Kalla right now? The one we saw come back after Bex killed the “first” one still seemed largely friendly and personable. Even helped Michael and Bex escape before. Maybe she’s still out there, and the Processor just made another Kalla to hew a bit closer to what it wanted.

    • Pylgrim

      I think the answer is yes, Kalla (that is, her memories, which make up her personality) is still there. However, right now the Processor is in control.

  • Manabi

    The way Processerkore says that about being Kallakore’s gift to herself in the last panel, I wonder if Kalla was the one who _created_ the processor and this closed environment in the first place? Sort of a making a living time capsule of some small part of their civilization, and then adding herself into the time capsule so that she’d live on in some way.

    • Some_Douchebag

      I would like you to imagine that this reply to your comment is instead a giant ascii-art thumbs-up.

    • weezact7

      I don’t think so. The processor seems to THINK it knows what people want, but it hasn’t really been right for anyone yet. It tends to interpret their “wishes” more literally. Bex wanted to be understood. Mike wanted to be away from people and/or have his brain fixed. Kalla probably wanted to be remembered or something in the sense that her work or life would live on in their culture. Not that her memories would be uploaded to a computer and kept in a cave for four billion years.

      I’ve noticed that Pride is a flaw all of the characters (except maybe Kalla, but it’s hard to say how much of that is Kalla and how much is Processor) share. Both Mike and Bex are too proud to admit they’re wrong and the Processor seems too proud to admit that it doesn’t know what’s best for everyone. Come to think of it, there’s a lot of THAT SPECIFIC pride going around.

      • Lilian

        Yeah, if Kallakore really created the Processor and the Mare Internum, her gift to herself seems to have gone sour. At least, her reincarnations have absolutely not appreciated it… or she’s been terribly confused, or she’s outright lying:

        “[the sea] was empty when I found it.”

        “These processors are dangerous. LEVi went to find one, and he was destroyed. I think it did the same to me.”

        “I have failed to escape a hundred, a thousand times. My family is dead. I am tired.”

        ^Was this existence really the gift Kallakore wanted? Entrapment and isolation after losing not just everyone she cared about, but her entire species? Death and amnesia and confusion, time and time and time again?

        Would doing this to herself be her way of trying to leave a legacy as a major – a less valued member of Wollarian society?

        • Some_Douchebag

          “Yeah, if Kallakore really created the processor and the Mare Internum, her gift to herself seems to have gone sour.”

          Yeah, if she was so smart why didn’t she do a thing that would turn out perfectly as she planned and wanted with no unforeseen consequences? What kind of underground alien hell cave is she running, here?

          • shingworks

            This cracked me up, thank you

  • Shira

    I’m really confused about the timeline here. How long has he been in this cave? Has he escaped before? Did he ever meet the real Kalla? If he has only ever met copies, why is this one different?

    • Pylgrim

      Martians went extinct millions of years ago. Everything inside this cave is a biotechnological machine that recreates life as it was back then. The “real” Kalla was someone whose mind and memories were given to the intelligence in charge of the gestalt entity (the Processor) to put in copies of her original body. This one is different because the Processor is overriding some of her thought functions.

      • Alan

        Probably not extinct. They had an exodus as Mars dried up. The ones that remained died, and that might have only been Kalla.

  • Jonas

    …well, I didn’t think Kallakore looked that way from below before you said anything, but now I can’t unsee it.

  • Magdalene

    me, banging on the door of the internal sea: hello processor please attach a serotonin machine to my skull

    (Also I’m in so much love with the color palette of these latest pages.)

    • shingworks

      lol (and, thanks!)

  • oh yikes, that’s not nice, mrs CPU

  • JJ

    Well I think it’s been ages since there’s been any genital imagery in this comic so it’s high time I guess

    • shingworks

      They’ve been in a cave for 4 chapters, so it’s all yonic by default

  • Lilian

    “And what is a better solution? I can give it to you.”

    Something tells me ‘freedom’ is not an answer the Processor would find acceptable.

    • shingworks

      I mean, in many ways, being trapped in a cave forever is the very definition of freedom

      • Some_Douchebag

        I would absolutely take that offer if it came with an internet connection and video games. Otherwise, I could entertain myself with shadow puppets.

        • shingworks

          XD I mean, you’ll never want for company (given that you don’t mind it’s attached to your femur)

  • Dee

    Longtime reader here – I’ve had the comic PDF sitting on my desktop since it was released after the kickstarter. I opened it up and re-read the comic from start to finish last night, and my head & heart are still spinning. I don’t know what to say except: thank you so much for your endless hard work and dedication; congratulations on your beautiful, carefully-told story; I will buy and read anything you ever publish, as soon as I’m able, FOREVER.

    I joined your Patreon at the $5 tier and the worldbuilding material for TM & MI have already been SO worth it. I see mention of an “additional materials” PDF – how will we go about acquiring that, when it’s ready?

    • shingworks

      It’ll be going out to Kickstarter backers of any of the “Premium” tiers, if you check your reward level it should say “additional materials,” (ie if you got the Abby Howard comics in your download, you’ll be getting the PDF as well). BUT IF NOT: no worries, it’ll also be distributed to $5+ Patrons as well~

      Oh, and of course, thank you so very much for reading and enjoying the story. I’m really really really glad you found it worthwhile :’]

  • Some_Douchebag

    At first I was gonna go the super douche route and just say “Oh, how CONVENIENT for Mike”, but then something else struck me. “I am her gift to herself”. A gift that only the Processor’s powers could give. Does this mean that she was the one who designed the Processor and its many actuators in the first place (or at least part of the team that did)? Or is this tacitly saying that, for all of its power and intelligent-like behavior, the Processor is still just a tool that she “used” by asking for infinite respawns as a gift?

    I hope it’s the first one, because that means Kallakore is, like, a supreme AI engineer. We *do* need more strong female role models. It also might mean that it is legitimately Kallakore that’s saying “I can give it to you”.

    I also like the second one though, as it has other implications. It would also portend the development of a theme I’ve been giving a lot of thought recently, but never really seen implemented in fiction concerning AI. If your “tool” is at least as smart/person-like as you, and asking politely for it to do something for you is “using” it, what does this imply about how you see other people? Kalla might not be as nice as we’ve been thinking this whole time. It also relates a little bit to Mike’s previous behavior towards Bex, and especially (gruesomely!) to his uncle’s behavior as well.

    I await the next page eagerly, Der-Shing.

    • weezact7

      I don’t think Kalla really wanted this. Just like Bex didn’t really want what the Processor gave her (or even Mike for that matter). I think the Processor THINKS it knows what’s best for everyone and what they want. It sees a “problem” and determines that it knows best how to fix it, regardless of what the person in question really wants or needs. It’s certainly fallible and doesn’t seem prone to listening to others.

      After all, the ONLY people who have made claims to its power and benevolence are things that IT recreated. Maybe it has some higher purpose for maintaining the MI, but at this point it really just seems like it does it so it can be in control of its own little world.

      • weezact7

        Actually, based on the motivations and backstories of the other characters, the Processor is probably just fucking lonely. It seems like it either models or was created directly from a sentient creature (Martian, probably). And it was abandoned by its people for billions of years. It is desperate to avoid feeling abandoned again and is resorting to very toxic methods to prevent its only “friends” from leaving.

      • Some_Douchebag


        For the sake of discussion, I’d like to re-emphasize the fact that the processor is a machine. Whether or not it was modeled on martian people, it was still built to complete a purpose. The emotional needs we’re all so familiar with, and the many ways these can drive pathological mindsets and behavior, are reflections of our natural origins. I firmly believe that the complexity and richness that comes with personhood emerge from evolution’s haphazard ways. In contrast to this, all signs point to the processor being an artificial intelligence – that is, one that was consciously designed.

        It’s easy to use this to go the personhood-denying route and say that it’s not different than our beloved dumb electric boxes acting out their programming. I myself would instead say that it has a powerful and deep-seated sense of all-consuming purpose. Preserving the Mare Internum, and managing every little thing that goes on within it, is its raison d’etre. Everything else comes secondary to this goal. Anyone who possesses a strong drive (to build a high-power successful career, to raise a prosperous family, to serve your country or community, to create works of art that are wholly yours, etc) should be able to empathize with this.
        However, in the processor’s case, it may have been designed to be *managed* by people, rather than completely replace them. It probably “expects” that its controlled little world will house an entire civilization, with people who will make the ethical decisions through some process while it just handles the humdrum technical junk in the background to keep the environment stable. I can’t say why Kallakore wouldn’t be able to reign the processor in if this was the case, but I’m pretty sure she genuinely believed that she was last person left alive until very recently. Someone in that situation wouldn’t have much motivation to care about the pollution caused by letting their gas-powered generator run constantly, and may not even have the expertise needed to turn it off or minimize the smog. The processor may not recognize her as an authorized “sysadmin”, and so wouldn’t accept any sort of feedback or limitations she would impose on it. Despite its ability to think and communicate, it may fundamentally lack the same capacity for humanity (martianity) that you or I have. Its attempts to fulfill its purpose and “follow its heart” seem “toxic” to us, but I’m not sure if we can apply the same language to it that we would to a wholly natural being. When left to run its course without a source of feedback from a martian (human), things like the rights of others have absolutely no bearing on its decision-making process. After all, there’s no one around to complain.

        I think the scariest interpretation is that it’s like a perpetual-motion roomba in a long empty house. It never stops trying to clean the dirt off the kitchen floor, even if there’s other places that have more filth, even if there’s no one around anymore to care that it’s doing its job. It’s equally tragic and terrifying.

  • Alan

    So is Crab-Levi actually Levi, or a processor simulacrum like Kallakore?

    • shingworks

      I have a word-of-god reply but the slightly more open-ended reply is that his color is part of the answer.

      • ikabubu

        “Make new friends, but keep the old
        One is silver, and the other is gold.”

    • Given that Crab-Levi is sapient, I don’t think it was stated that the original was too (Instead of just being an exploration robot that Mike got attached to), I think it’s safe to assume that he’s a recreation.

  • Evan

    after lurking for years I’m commenting just to say that Kalla’s absolutely rocking that hairdo

    even if some wack organic AI is ruining the whole thing with cyberwaterpossession, at least the forgotten art of rad martian hairstyling has been preserved

  • weezact7

    So, I don’t think Mike is going to leave. He vanished for quite awhile between when he found Bex and when he was in the Processor’s room. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Michael is already dead. This is just a copy of him, the same way Kalla is. We’ve seen that Kalla can reject the idea of staying in the Mare Internum indefinitely (before she’s killed), so Copy-Michael could do the same. The Processor does not seem to have complete, constant control over the denizens of its system. They exhibit at least some level of free will. Maybe he knows he’s a construct of the Processor. Maybe he doesn’t. Either way, I think he’s genuinely trying to get Bex out. Or maybe he just wants to destroy the Mare Internum. Maybe the Processor shouldn’t have tried to assimilate a suicidally depressed person.

  • weezact7

    I hope there’s no limit to how many comments I can post. I was struggling to make sense of this story for a long time. I think the update schedule made it difficult for me to keep track of the plot threads (not that I’m trying to put you on blast for the schedule), but I went and re-read most of it recently and it’s all finally coming together for me and now my mind is abuzz with speculation.

    But I want to take a moment and show appreciation for the AMAZING use of foreshadowing throughout this comic. It’s great.

    The Processor seems, to me, very much to be some manifestation (either literally or symbolically) of Kalla’s depression or other mental issues. Processkore’s last line in this comic how the “real” Kalla (emphasis on the air quotes) was dead is, in a lot of ways, eerily familiar to me. Not to go into much detail, but I have definitely been in depressed states and was thoroughly convinced that this was the real me. That when I was happy, I was just being stupid and fooling myself. That, in a way, my depressed state was very much a “gift to [my]self” because I could see things the way they really were. I definitely wished, on several occasions that the “real” me, the “happy” me would be gone forever so I could stop fooling myself that things were ok.

    Now, maybe I’m reading too much into this. I have noticed that my theories on stories are often FAR more complicated than the actual narrative, but it would complete the symbolism of the MI being depression or some other form of mental disease state. Mike and Bex are able to overcome their mental issues as well as leave the MI (maybe), so they “climb up” both literally and figuratively. However, the Processor is trapped in MI. It can’t “climb up”. The only thing it can do is bring others down and hold them there to fuel its delusions that it knows what’s best and knows the way things “really are”. Also, it probably desperately wants someone there with it because it feels abandoned by its people. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Processor is ever going to be free.

    Alternatively, I suppose the Processor could just be an extension of the MI being depression. The Processor IS Mike and Bex’s “disease state” that wants them to stay there. I’m sure people who have experienced mental issues like depression are familiar with that. I know I and several of my friends have all had that feeling where part of you, sometimes a very LARGE part, actively tries to sabotage and hinder you attempts to get better. Misery is comforting because it’s familiar and it’s easy. You have to work to get better. Sometimes very hard, but staying sick is easy.

    Anyway, hopefully I haven’t reached a comment or character limit. I can’t wait to see how this wraps up and find out that I way over-complicated things.

    • shingworks

      Just wanted to comment to say that I enjoyed reading your comments :] Very insightful and sensitive to what I was aiming for, tbh.

  • so

    I feel Kalla made the Processor and put her soul in it like Mike made Levi and put his soul in it.

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