Aspects: To hope is to believe.
To be more precise, to hope is to believe something is possible.
It should be obvious that something is off about Eridan’s “science wand.” His previous weapon, Ahab’s Crosshairs, was about as powerful as the riflekind specibus would allow - Karkat calls it a “god weapon” in [S] Kanaya: Return to the Core. Kanaya made the wand at least partially as a joke; wherever the code came from, nothing about it, or its required cost in grist, or the stats of the freshly alchemized wand itself made her expect it to outclass Ahab’s Crosshairs in Eridan’s hands - yet, clearly, it did just that. What was going on?
Eridan believes in “Science.” (Just how deep his actual knowledge of science is will have to remain an open question, although my gut feeling on the subject is that science is to Eridan as irony is to Dave.) Science is why magic isn’t real, as much as Eridan wishes it was, and why he’s certain that anything that looks like magic can’t be:
Eridan is sure that whatever Rose is using, it isn’t “real magic,” but something science-compatible that can produce comparable effects. He wants badly to learn how she’s doing it.
Rose won’t help him, but Kanaya eventually does:
And Eridan accepts that the wand is the “secret.” But how does he think it works, if magic isn’t real?
It’s powered by both, actually. It’s powered by science because Eridan believes, truly believes, that science is both powerful and true, and it’s powered by hope because Hope is Eridan’s Aspect, and because to hope for something is to believe it is possible, to wish for it to happen, to will it to be so. We’ve seen items - Dave’s time tables, Aradia’s music box time machines, and at least one other I’ll deal with in another post - that are used by players to help them channel, or manipulate, or otherwise use their Aspect. This wand is Eridan’s.
…but not more powerful than Eridan can imagine. Hope is belief; his wand works the way it does because Eridan believes it will. Even Terezi’s senses agree:
Delusions, of course, are false beliefs.
His conviction is what allows him to kill two trolls, and blind/KO another, quickly, efficiently, and without doing so much as mussing his hair. The Prince of Hope, destroying with the cold and perfect certainty of his belief.
He might even have taken Vriska:
But it was not to be. Empiricism means trusting the evidence of your senses, and he was having his senses present him with the information that a girl he knew he’d killed had just burst into the room, swiftly, stealthily, and glowing like a lightbulb; that her guts were prevented from spilling out by his own discarded scarf, knotted around her waist; that she was proceeding to take out, in seconds, both the trolls he’d been facing off moments before. His science had no place in it for rainbow drinkers to be real, and yet empirical evidence was telling him otherwise.
To debunk a belief is to expose it as false, or as flawed, but Kanaya needn’t have bothered. The wand wouldn’t have worked even if Eridan had tried to use it.
This is not the face of someone sure in his belief. This is the face of someone who thought his belief was an untouchable citadel, and who has just discovered it was actually more like a house of cards. Eridan said he’d destroy delusion and the deluded alike. As it turned out, he was talking about himself.