The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby leuthilalda » Jul 17, 2012 8:12 pm

The four - Toby, Rose, and the two doves, trudged thoughtfully towards the Emporium. Suddenly Koolarin broke the silence. Um, Miss Rose, what about the other doves in the room? What did that mean?
"What other doves, dear? There was only you on my shoulder, and another of you in the bed?"
"Oh no. I only noticed two of you, but there were several other doves that looked just like me. Some of them were lying in a bed, and some of them were sitting up looking around, confused. One of them had a white patch on her head."
Toby sighed. "Just what we needed. An even more confusing mystery."
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby leuthilalda » Jul 18, 2012 6:43 pm

Normal time line, Dittotown fountain.

The yell "Grenade" didn't wake Will up. But, the sound of the explosion did. If you have ever been waked from a sound sleep by a close crash of lightning you will share Will's experience. At first, he thought that it was a close lightning bolt, but then, he noticed the berries on his home glowing, and felt a strange heat, along with the glow and the humming.
The heat got worse, and Will made up his mind. "Ok, whatever it is, I would prefer not to become cooked 'possum, (brown in a 350 degree oven for a half hour)". He slid out from under the branches, and was greeted with a thick fog, except in the immediate vicinity where the heat from the recovering leuthilalda bush had already "burned it off".
"Now what was that?" He wondered. "The bush must have been protecting us from some explosion..." Then he noticed the robot-looking creatures getting up. "Oh no an invasion!" he thought, and immediately his "possum sleep" reflexes kicked in...
When he awoke, he realized that the creatures were talking with - who was that? Oh, yeah, Ryana. There were a couple of other people with her that Will didn't recognize, but he realized after listening to the conversation for a few seconds, that the new metallic creatures were friendly after all. They seemed to be talking about needing somewhere to stay for now, and he decided that he should speak up, and see if there was anything he could do. He had a fully polite and flowery speech all ready, something like "Welcome to Ditto town. Fitzwilliam the opossum at your service." But what actually came out was "Um, hello."
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stargazer » Jul 18, 2012 8:36 pm

As the conversation went on, Christie realized that Erik and Abby also seemed oblivious to the absence of Torla, Xander and Dawn. She wasn’t quite sure what it meant, but still found it disturbing. She filed this away for later consideration when Erik spoke to her again.

“Thanks for bringing these,” he said as he popped another jalapeño hushpuppy into his mouth. “I haven’t had any for a couple nights.”

The gargoyles had earlier invited their guests into the great room; Max sat in Ambrose’s lap, still as enamored with the half-gargoyle as he had been when everyone had arrived. Nevertheless, he took a lot of interest in his father’s snack, and after a few seconds Erik offered his child a bite.

“I can’t imagine you being able to resist a daughter’s puppy-dog eyes any more than you do our son’s,” Abby quipped. She’d already shared her tale of a vision in which they had a little girl rather than Max.

“Probably not,” Erik agreed. “But I have a guess as to what this all might be about.”

Several in the room intently leaned forward. “You do?” Abby asked.

“Well, it reminds me of a theory I’ve read about at home,” he began. “Physicists studying quantum mechanics –“

Abby groaned good-naturedly, and he put an arm around her shoulder. “I know not everyone shares my fascination with this stuff,” he winked, “so I’ll do my best to keep it short and sweet.”

He leaned back and began again. “Some call it the many-worlds theory. It’s the idea that every choice each of us makes is made in an alternate universe somewhere. Some even interpret it to say that each time we make a choice, new alternate realities are formed, one for each possible choice we could have made.”

“That would result in an infinite amount of universes,” Abby objected. “How does it relate to what we experienced today?”

“I agree, it seems a little over-the-top. But it’s easier to consider only a limited number of alternate universes, each existing independently and separately from the others. Some are bound to be similar to this one – there’s one where we have a daughter rather than a son, where we have lots of kids, and so on. Others might be different.” He drew a deep breath. “Like places where we might be dead, or never even have hatched.”

“Okay, I see,” Christie prompted.

“Normally the universes are all separate. But what if, somehow, just for an instant, some of them intersected, giving each of you glimpses into some other realities?”

“It would explain that sense of déjà vu,” Abby said excitedly. “And that certainty that it wasn’t a dream.”

“Exactly. Now this is only a guess, and I can’t imagine how or why all of you suddenly saw into the other universes all on the same day. So we’re just about back where we started.”

“Not quite.” Abby smiled. “At least I’m not going nuts.”


*********

It was hours before dusk fell, yet smoke still smoldered from the ruins of the Emporium. In the deep, thick forest outside of town, a pair of roars announced that Abby and her daughter were awake once more.

Molly whimpered in hunger and quickly settled down to her evening feeding. This allowed Abby a few moments to gather her thoughts, though her own stomach announced its hunger. That would have to wait, as their panicked exit from the Emporium meant she had no food.

All but the more serious wounds she’d suffered had been healed by the abbreviated period of stone sleep; her wings were stiff and still stung in a few places. Flying would be difficult tonight.

Once again she flicked her tail so she could see its tip. Stone sleep had not entirely healed such a serious wound; not only was the tip scarred, but parts of the flesh were still raw and throbbed painfully. “We won’t be doing much today,” she said to her daughter.

A painful cramp in her abdomen made her cry out, and she remembered the news she’d looked forward to sharing with her mate before everything had fallen apart: Molly was going to have a little brother or sister!

The pain concerned her; while she’d had similar cramps when pregnant with Molly, she worried that the day's injuries might have harmed the hatchling she carried. It might sound selfish, but she didn’t want to lose this one; like Molly it was a bit of the mate she’d already lost.

“No choice, I guess,” she said again, beginning a long climb down to the ground. “Let’s go see Doctor Ivanos. And maybe get you checked out too.”
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Masked Rider » Jul 20, 2012 10:38 pm

Ditto-Bot wheeled around to see his brother’s discovery. Data instantly rushed in from his eyes, and he saw a somewhat short man wearing black clothes and a leather jacket, only holding a large maul. While the man was not facing the two bots, he did give them a mysterious glance. In the moment it took for Ditto-Bot’s eyes to refresh, he was gone.

“What was that?” Mini-Bot questioned

“I don’t know; maybe the EMP is playing with our sensors.”

“But both of us? At the same time?”

Ditto-Bot, unable to answer his brother’s question, took the time to review the last images of the mysterious figure. He tried to analyze the data, but to no avail. He knew it would just bug him forever if he couldn’t figure it out. Suddenly, he was interrupted.

>“Ditto-Bot! There is a massive energy build up. It’s just around the same area as the EMP origin.”<

“Could they be charging another burst?” worried Mini-Bot.

“Why would they? The main power is still out, and the emergency generators are probably built to handle multiple problems like that. It wouldn’t accomplish anything.”

>“Excellent point, Ditto-Bot. Perhaps someone is running experiments to find the full potential of EMPs.”<

“And they’re using Ditto Town as their lab rat!? They chose the wrong town to mess with!” Mini-Bot retorted.

“Hold on, remember why we came out here in the first place; first we see if everyone is okay. Then we can check out the energy spike.”

Mini-Bot reluctantly agreed. They were soon searching the town. Ditto-Bot’s logic circuits were bouncing ideas around, trying to make sense of it all. He went through the facts: An EMP blacked out the town, and a power surge was building up in the same area. There wasn’t nearly enough information, and Ditto-Bot’s reckless side (Mini-Bot) wanted to investigate.

People were wandering out of their houses wondering how far the power outage went. Some of Ditto Town’s residents went to see if they could help with the problem. After checking a large portion of the town, the two bots found themselves flying to the outskirts, where the pulse originated.

“Here we are.” Ditto-Bot slowed his speed and gently landed on the hill.

“Not much here, is there?” Mini-Bot looked around. Though there was no sign of human activity, the surrounding area seemed to be disturbed. The grass and leaves seemed to have been blown around by a heavy wind. A blast of wind that originated from one point.

“This spot seems to be just about the accurate point of origin for the EMP.” Ditto-Bot determined.

“But, what happened?” Mini-Bot was quite puzzled.

“Okay, so EMP generators need to be pretty big right?”

“To be this massively effective? Yeah I suppose.”

“Okay then, so there should be like a trail or footprints or…” Ditto-bot frantically searched for clues, for a wheel track, a footprint, anything. He became flustered (or in any case, as flustered as a robot can get), and his words held no value. “Or anything-wait a minute!”

“What? What is it?”

“There’s, something, something underground. Large quantities of metal, steel no doubt. Wait. Taking atomic visual scan, now.” Ditto-bot’s visor flashed white similar to a camera. “Mini-bot, we have just discovered an underground facility. Right underneath Ditto Town itself.”


TO BE CONTINUED….
}Rebooting systems{
[uncoding data]
-> The Advanced Action Reaction Intelligent Nano-coated android systems, online

-[Activating Processors...) Calibrating....Calibration complete---)) A.A.R.I.N. Activated

[> "Good morning, Ditto-bot"
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ryadian » Jul 26, 2012 10:18 pm

All set in the Prime universe.

In the afternoon, Ryana continues her discussion with the new arrivals, offering to take them there. Meanwhile, Kirane notices Alex's worry, and decides to strike up a conversation.

Later that night, Kirane asks Ryana some questions about gargoyles, after watching Erik wake from stone sleep.


Prime

Ryana relaxed a little at the description of the “invasion” force. A small pursuit force? The town had fought off the entire Organization at least once; she had a feeling whatever was following them, it wouldn’t be that big a deal. …Provided, of course, that they didn’t have a slightly different definition of “small”. She turned back to the young man. Whatever she’d felt before, it’d dissipated now—at least, she’d done a better job of shoving it to the back of her mind. “I think enough of the townspeople can defend themselves that it shouldn’t be a concern. I’ll mention it to the Patrol, but,” she shrugged, “this is all assuming they can get here.”

At any rate, time to move on. To the new arrivals, she explained, “The Mansion’s not far away from here. Actually, we’re in the Town Square right now; nothing’s really far away from here. I can show you to it, if you want.”

Meanwhile, Kirane had mostly stayed off to the side. After all, Ryana was much more well-informed than she was; she would probably do more harm than good if she stepped in. However, she had noticed that the young man—a Dittopian, she assumed—suddenly seemed to lose all his curiosity, which was replaced by concern. It seemed, when Ryana described it, the idea of invasion settled in a little more profoundly for him. She was distracted by the rest of the conversation, but it seemed like every time she turned back to him, his expression had turned a little more… frantic was the wrong word, but it was the only one she could come up with.

At any rate, she’d decided that, since she had nothing better to do…. She quietly stepped over to him, and commented, “From what I’ve seen, I don’t think you have much to worry about. But, to be honest, I’m a newcomer myself, so I couldn’t tell you.” With a reassuring smile, she turned to him and extended her hand. “I’m Kirane. Are you from around here, if you don’t mind my asking?”

---------

Later that night, at the Emporium (continuing the stargazer/Rya collab):

While the couple were in the kitchen, their visitors started their own discussion. As the two gargoyles left the room, Ryana all-but relaxed. She felt her almost forcibly-cheery smile go down a couple of notches. Abby and Erik were both very sweet, and for some reason, it was much easier to talk to them than some people in this town. But she kind of missed when she only talked to people because they had important business, or when she could hide behind the Vanessa mask....

Meanwhile, Kirane had other thoughts. She slowly turned to Ryana, still shaking slightly from what had just happened. "Is... is that normal?"

Ryana smiled slightly, though she had to admit it was half-hearted. "Yeah, I probably shouldn't have surprised you like that. Gargoyles 'sleep' by turning into stone, and that's how they wake up when the sun sets. It's an impressive sight."

"It is indeed." Kirane paused, then asked, "But, if that's normal for gargoyles... then why was Abby already 'awake' when we got here?"

Ryana shrugged. "Honestly, I don't know all the details." After that, their conversation drifted more into a basic understanding of gargoyles--a conversation Kirane, at least, felt would help her avoid any unfortunate implications when she saw the gargoyles again.... Which, not surprisingly, wasn’t long afterwards.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Silvan_Haven » Jul 27, 2012 3:37 pm

"That would be appreciated" Kaelen said. He turned around and called out to the rest of the Kin present.
"Alright! This lovely lady is going to show us to what will is going to be our quarters untill we can build something for ourselves! Pick yourselves up and get ready to move!"
He turned back to Ryana and gave a slight bow. "Lead the way, Ma'am.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Varnafinde » Jul 27, 2012 8:04 pm

King's Cross Station.
It was the biggest railway station Varnafindë had ever seeen.
But as she had only travelled by train five or six times before, this didn't mean much. She preferred walking.

This would have to change now. With her new business responsibilities, she would have to use the faster means of transport. Perhaps even - she shuddered at the mere thought of it - an airplane. But she was sure she would use that only if there was an emergency.

She had never been in London before. She had been in England several times since she discovered the portal to that world some years ago, but she had only been to Oxford - the city of that professor who had translated the Red Book. Today she had taken the train from Oxford to London, to Paddington Station, which was big enough, and then the Underground, the Tube (and it really felt like being inside a tube), to King's Cross Station, which was even bigger.

She had booked a room in a hotel across the street from the station. She found a crossing, waited for the green light, crossed the main street and continued into the small street where the hotel was the second building on the right.

The hotel was small, but nice. They gave her a room on the ground floor, with windows facing away from the street. She appreciated the chance to watch a small garden instead.

Here in London she would go to bookshops. There were of course the modern bookshops that she had read about - Foyle's was one of the largest bookshops in the world, they said, and Blackwell's, which she knew from Oxford, also had a branch in London.

But those were not her main concern. Her primary goal were the second-hand bookshops. And the street where so many of them could be found in one area - Charing Cross Road. She would start work in earnest tomorrow - but today she would only be a tourist and do some sightseeing.

She got out her map. What did she want to see? Art galleries? Not today. Museums? Possibly ... Palaces? Now there was an idea. Perhaps she should go to the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels?

Varna loved jewels, even though she didn't own many herself, and only had taken a single pendant along to Ditto Town. Her people, the Noldor, had been known for their craftsmanship in fashioning jewels. Her great-great-grandfather's half-brother had made the Silmarils, and his grandson had made the three mighty Elven Rings ...

She admitted to a weakness for royal splendour. She had seen lots of pictures from the royal wedding last year, when Prince William married Kate, now Duchess of Cambridge. There had been jewels ... and gorgeous dresses ... and hats ... oh dear, some of those hats.

That was it! She would see Westminster Abbey, where the wedding had taken place. She armed herself with her map, her Travel Card and some money, and went back to the Tube station at King's Cross Station. She took Northern Line to Embankment, where she changed to Circle Line - by walking through what felt like miles of corridors - and finally reached Westminster Tube Station.

The first thing she saw when she got out of the station, was a familiar-looking tower. The building that held Big Ben. She knew it from pictures. And those buildings reaching along the river further on from it, would be the Houses of Parliament.

She started walking alongside the Parliament. It was a large street with lots of traffic. Behind the fence she could see a few patrolling policemen. At the other end of the Parliament buildings there was a queue of tourists - oh yes, when the Parliament was in session, there was a gallery where you could watch the proceedings - or perhaps they only wanted a guided tour of the premises?

Then she reached the Abbey. A guided tour would be a good idea. She bought a ticket and waited for the tour to start.

The guide was an elderly lady (as far as mortals go), and she really knew her subject. She started by showing them some of the tombs of artists who were buried in the Abbey. Varna was especially interested in the Poets' Corner.

"Is Shakespeare buried here?" one of the other tourists asked. "He would be great enough to be given the honor, wouldn't he?"

"He would," the guide nodded, "but he's not buried here. He's buried in his hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon. And there's a special warning written on his tombstone, a curse on whoever moves his bones. So he's staying there."

Varna made a mental note of adding a few more of his plays to her collection.

They went through some side chapels and got to the main part of the church, which had been the site of the wedding.

"This was also where the Queen was crowned sixty years ago," the guide said. "There's a special exhibition here as part of her Diamond Jubilee. The coronation always takes place at Westminster Abbey. That said, we'll now go to a chapel at the far end of the church, where the Coronation Chair is kept."

The Coronation Chair was less splendid than Varna had expected. Less gold and jewels - but it was still an impressive chair, a solemn one, giving an atmosphere of ancient authority.

Under the seat was an empty shelf. The guide pointed it out to them.

"This is where the Scottish Coronation Stone used to be kept," she said. "It had been used for the coronation of the Scottish Kings until the English captured it as spoils of war seven hundred years ago. It was called the Stone of Scone, and also the Stone of Destiny, because it was said that it could speak and confirm that the man who was being crowned, was the true King.

"Legend says that it is the stone that Jacob used as his pillow when he dreamt about a ladder reaching up to heaven, as is told in the Old Testament.

"In 1950 it was stolen by some young Scottish nationalists, but it was found and brought back here. In 1996 it was given back to Scotland, and is now kept in the Crown Room at Edinburgh Castle - but it will be brought here next time it is needed for a coronation."

Varna thought it was a fascinating story. The guide said that the stone bore no decorations at all, only two rings for carrying it - it was just a bare, rectangular block of sandstone. But it was easy to see why the Scots would still want it back. The symbolic value of it would be immense.

Varna left the Abbey, debating with herself whether to go to The Tower to see the Crown Jewels as well. No, she would leave it for some other day. Better to go for dinner and then perhaps have a first look at Charing Cross Road. She turned around to have a last look at the Abbey.

The square in front of Westminster Abbey was packed with people. Only the small street up to the entrance was open, kept open by a chain of policemen who were facing the crowds, just like during the wedding last year.

A pity that they won't get to see the coronation, Varna thought. Even when the King and Queen come out to be drawn in the open carriage back to Buckingham Palace, that will all happen behind them. Some lucky ones, though, were facing the screen where the whole ceremony which took place inside the Abbey, was televised to the crowds outside.

The Queen had decided that she would retire. She stayed in office until her Diamond Jubilee, but the coronation of the new King, Charles III, had been planned to take place only a few weeks later - and now the day had come.

Some people were muttering objections to him using the name Charles - there had been two kings by that name earlier, and neither had been a good king. King Charles I had quarrelled with the Parliament, and had been sentenced to death and executed. The current King had more names to choose from - why couldn't he rather be King George, like his grandfather?

But most people didn't mind, and King Charles III was already a popular King. And his Queen an even more popular Queen. Their son, Prince William, and his wife Kate, who were now Prince and Princess of Wales, were also vastly popular. The republicans didn't even raise their voices against the coronation.

Varna followed the ceremony on the screen. There was music, old and contemporary, and the King was given different robes. He took solemn oaths, and was given a Sceptre and other symbolic objects. Then he was hidden under a canopy, and the TV reporter explained quietly that this was the sacrosanct moment, when the King was anointed, on his head, his hands and his heart - spiritually speaking, this was when God made him King.

All the while, the King was sitting in the Coronation Chair, over the Stone of Destiny. Much as Scottish nationalists might wish it otherwise, this was still the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - and Scotland and Wales were as much part of Britain as England was.

Finally came the moment everyone had been waiting for. The canopy had been taken away. The Archbishop brought forth the Crown, lifted it high, and placed it carefully on the King's head. There was a shout from all around - "God save the King!" - and a flash of jewels throughout the Abbey as all the nobles present lifted their own coronets and put them on their heads.

A smaller crown was put on the Queen's head, and then the King left the Coronation Chair and sat down on the Throne. The bishops, and the other royals, and finally representatives of the nobles, all swore allegiance to him. The Prince of Wales as the first of his family members knelt down and swore allegiance to his father.

At last the final hymn had been sung, and the procession started their walk out of the Abbey. A few minutes now - and then the doors opened, and there they were on the steps, receiving the applause from the crowds. There were shouts of "God Save the King." Although Varna was not in the front rows, she was tall enough to get a good view, and with her sharp eyesight she could see them clearly.

King Charles lifted his hand and waved to the crowds, his movements a bit stiff because of the heavy crown. Next to him, her crown smaller and lighter, she was standing as tall as her husband - but shorter than her son behind her - Queen Diana.


Varna relaxed in an armchair in her room back at the hotel. It had been a good day. She had enjoyed seeing Westminster Abbey. That story about the theft of the Stone of Scone was fascinating - the guide had told her that one of the nationalists involved, one Ian Hamilton, had described it all in a book called "No Stone Unturned". She would look for that book.

In a flash she remembered seeing the chair in the main part of the Abbey. Had she really seen that? Had she seen the Coronation Chair with the Stone in place - and in use? It was so hazy - almost like a dream - but still different from a dream ...

She shook it off and went out to the Common Room to watch the news. Queen Elizabeth had been visiting a hospital which had an anniversary. She was given flowers and waved to the crowds.

Varna sighed. She felt some kind of relief.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stargazer » Aug 09, 2012 6:58 pm

Thanks to Ryadian and Aravanna for their help with this segment, and to shastastwin, whose earlier segment I’ve heavily borrowed from.

“Ready to go back out there now?”

Abby nodded, so Erik retrieved Molly from her playpen and headed back toward the Emporium’s great room.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Abby chuckled.

Erik turned back toward her; his face wore a puzzled expression for just a second until he noticed her gesturing toward an empty dessert tray. “D’oh!” he managed, slapping his forehead with his free hand.

“No worries,” she grinned. “Go ahead, and I’ll meet you out there in just a moment.”

Kirane and Ryana looked up as their hosts returned. Abby seemed much more composed now and even managed a smile. Her mate had a thoughtful expression on his face. Small cakes of chocolate, lemon, and vanilla were passed around, along with coffee, tea, and the ever-present ice-cold Mountain Dew.

The couple sat down, next to each other and opposite their guests. Erik bounced Molly on his knee a moment, but she kept reaching for his mug of soda.

“I know you can’t resist,” Abby teased. “But I doubt she needs caffeine.”

“I think I do,” he retorted with a smile, but let Molly sip his Mountain Dew anyway.

He turned back to Kirane and Ryana, who were smiling at his child’s antics. “You mentioned the lecture by Doctor Chandra, right? I think we have an archived copy of it here somewhere –“

Before either could reply, the security system announced more guests. The gargoyles exchanged knowing glances – if the Emporium had been the center of the day’s events, it might soon be a crowded place – and rose to their feet. “Please excuse us just a moment,” Abby said.

Greya and Ambrose were at the door, and when Molly saw the half-gargoyle, she all but jumped into his arms.

“Hello to you, too,” Ambrose said with a smile.

“She’s been very excited today, for some reason,” Abby offered. “What can we do for you gentlemen this evening?”

The gargoyles invited them into their home, where introductions were made and refreshments offered. Greya briefly explained about the visions he and Christie had received, after which Erik added, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we have other visitors tonight, after what happened today.”

As if on cue, there was another knock, and the door opened to admit Christie and Torla. “Sorry it took us so long,” Christie said. “The Cup and Platter was busier than I had anticipated.”

They were carrying bags of take out, including several orders of deep-fried moonbats and jalapeño hushpuppies.

“I hope everyone’s hungry,” Torla said.

“Mmm, my favorite,” Erik said, pulling out one of the hushpuppies. “Thanks!”

“It looks like it’s someone else’s favorite too,” Torla observed. Sure enough, Molly was still in Ambrose’s arms but intently watching every move her father made.

“Oh, all right,” he relented, offering the hatchling a hushpuppy.

She set to work gnawing on it, and Erik began again. “It looks like this is the place to be tonight! I’m glad Aria designed this building with a big room like this.”

He and Abby made introductions, and several minutes of small talk followed. It seemed people were eager to discuss the day’s events but hesitant to be the one to start the conversation.

Once again the pleasant computer voice announced guests. Erik looked around apologetically. “I think this is going to be one of those nights.”

“I’ll get it,” Abby said. “You’ve got your hands full.”

By now Molly had finished her hushpuppy and was grabbing for a moonbat. “You must think we never feed her,” Erik quipped to his audience.

A moment later Abby returned with Erica and Alex; they were accompanied by Val and Ember, the fairy dragons. “It’s like Grand Central Station,” Abby said with a grin. At their guests’ puzzled expressions, she added, “Very busy place back home.” Once again introductions were made.

Molly, meanwhile, had been returned to her mother’s lap – at least until Abby noticed Erica intently watching. “Would you like to hold her?

“Could I?” Erica’s face lit up as Abby handed the child over. To no one’s surprise Molly went for the treat in Erica’s hand. “Can she have some?”

Abby chuckled. “Just a little. She’s been eating all night.” Val and Ember both settled on Erica's shoulders to watch Molly while Alex apologized to no one in particular about being late. Mystic had been fussy over her eggs after being away from then for so long during the strange events of the day, he explained.

Erik acknowledged this with a nod, then smiled as he watched his daughter charm yet another visitor. Finished with the tidbit Erica had offered, the hatchling reached toward the fairy dragons. They remained on Erica’s shoulders, just out of reach.

“Let’s try this again,” he began. “It appears this building may have been the epicenter for some weird events today – or at least unusual visions. Maybe it’s best if each of us described what they saw today.”

One by one, each person described their experiences. He’d heard some of the accounts before, but the tales of attacks on his home and family, strange visitors and changes in his hatchlings – not to mention knowing that in some stories he was dead – all boggled his mind. I sure picked the wrong day to take a nap, Erik thought to himself. He had nothing to add, of course, and he was careful to notice Abby kept her own counsel.

Abby was last to speak. At first she’d tried to lose herself in her child’s antics but knew she had to tell those gathered around what had happened. Erik admired her strength, but she had experienced the unimaginable, even if it was in some apparently parallel universe; he wouldn’t pressure her to comment. She summoned her courage and offered a brief summary of the terror the day had held for her.

The room was silent for a few moments, save for Molly’s occasional baby sounds. Finally Erik said, “I have a guess as to what this all might be about.”

Several in the room intently leaned forward. “You do?” Abby asked.

“Well – “He sat back and turned toward the rest of the crowd. He was a natural storyteller and in his element now. “I don’t know what happened, but it reminds me of a theory I’ve read about,” he began. “Physicists studying quantum mechanics –“

Abby groaned good-naturedly, and he put an arm around her shoulder. “I’ll do my best to keep it short and sweet.”

He began again. “Some call it the many-worlds theory. It’s the idea that every possible alternative to every choice each of us faces is made in an alternate universe somewhere. Some even interpret it to say that each time we make a choice, new alternate realities are formed, one for each possible option we could have selected.”

“That’s a lot of ‘every’s,” Abby observed. “How does it relate to what we experienced today?”

“I agree; it seems a little over-the-top. But it’s easier to consider only a limited number of alternate universes, each existing independently and separately from the others. Some are bound to be similar to this one – there’s one where we have a son rather than a daughter, another where we have lots of kids, and so on. Others might be different.” He drew a deep breath. “Like places where we might have never met, where we might be dead, or never even have existed.”

“Okay, I see,” Christie prompted.

“Normally the universes are all separate. But what if, somehow, just for an instant, some of them intersected, giving each of you glimpses into some other realities?”

“It would explain that sense of déjà vu,” Abby agreed. “And that certainty that it wasn’t a dream.”

“I don’t know if this is really the right explanation, and I don’t know why the universes suddenly picked today to intersect for everyone, but it’s a starting point.”

"That explains some of the déjà vu I guess, but I got this weird... feeling today, I guess you'd call it, about Val's ability to teleport," Erica chimed in. "Do you think she bends space when she does that? Or how does it work scientifically... and would it ever be possible to bend time too?"

Erik leaned back, thoughtfully regarding these questions. Molly had snuggled up to Erica; the contented little girl looked like she would be asleep any minute. But to tell the truth, he’d never given a lot of thought to how the fairy dragons managed to teleport themselves. He mentally slapped himself for this lapse.

“You know, twenty-four hours ago I might have come up with some clichéd answer about how bending space or time violates who knows how many laws of physics. But after what we’ve seen today, I can’t deny anything. After all, the dimensional portal we use to come here shouldn’t exist either,” he grinned. “Most of that stuff about Einstein-Rosen bridges is over my head, except that they’re supposed to be unstable.

“So to answer your question, I just don’t know. It’s certainly possible. I’d love to hear more about your experiences; what I know about time travel is mostly from science fiction or magical fantasy stories.”
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stargazer » Aug 09, 2012 7:08 pm

At least an hour had passed since sunset, but Abby had made little progress back toward town. Her ribs, wings, and tail ached, but the worst had come when she’d tried to climb down from her perch. She’d yelped out in anguish as soon as she’d put weight on her right leg.

She’d immediately retreated to her resting spot. Bright moonlight allowed her to see swelling and discoloration; if she was lucky it was only sprained. Her leg had been injured – possibly even broken – when the explosion had blown her into this tree trunk. Perhaps she’d somehow overlooked or ignored the pain then, given the excruciating agony of her burned tail, the stinging everywhere else, and the fear that Molly might have been seriously hurt. While she was thrilled that her daughter’s minor scrapes and scratches had healed in the short period of stone sleep, having to manage a healthy curious child while she remained injured only made things worse.

Her tail still throbbed, vying for her attention, but the cramps in her abdomen had almost subsided, for which she was very grateful. They had been all too reminiscent of her labor pains with Molly, and this hatchling was far too young to survive on its own. For a moment, nightmarish visions of losing this little one filled her mind, till she forced them down with something more practical: weighing her options.

Clouds of smoke still rose from the ruins of the explosion. Blowing up the Emporium might have been a random act of violence, but then why go to the trouble of shattering Erik first? No, those responsible remained a real threat, and they were still at large. Despite all the advantages the night normally gave her, Abby was in no condition to take them on should they find her.

Walking to town wasn’t really an option. Her injured leg – and protecting a vulnerable Molly – meant she would be hampered should she need to fight or flee enemies this night.

Flying was out for similar reasons. While her wings may have healed enough for the short trip to town, landing would prove painful and difficult. And having to carry Molly in her arms meant possible injury to her child – or even worse, that she might drop her – risks she would not take.

Sure, flying was natural to her kind, and Molly had even begun to flap her wings when she was excited. But, like many birds, hatchlings had to be ‘convinced’ that it was safe to fly when all their instincts said the ground was the place to be. Flight lessons usually meant dropping them short distances until they got the hang of it – always under adult supervision, of course. Between her own injuries and Molly’s young age, this was hardly the ideal time to introduce her daughter to ‘falling with style,’ as Erik had dubbed it, borrowing the old movie line.

Since neither of them seemed to need immediate medical care – as long as the cramps stayed away – the best bet was another day of stone sleep. They were still in an apparently safe place, and both would gain from the sun’s healing, strengthening rays. Abby could get by, and Molly would be fine, if inconvenient to handle, until dawn came.

Yet the cramps still worried her. She, and her unborn hatchling, needed a doctor, if only for her peace of mind. But getting to Doctor Ivanos’ office meant navigating through the town’s wreckage and possibly meeting those unknown enemies. Yet if the cramps returned she had little choice; the other option – the gate leading home, to advanced gargoyle medicine – was simply too far away in her current condition. Her clan’s isolation was usually an advantage, but not right now.

And, once she was up to the task, there was another reason to return to Ditto Town. She would gather Erik’s stone remains and take them home. He deserved the honor of a Wind Ceremony, and then to rest in the Tetons he loved.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ryadian » Aug 16, 2012 5:18 pm

Prime

Ryana stood there for a few moments, desperately trying not to blush. Whatever else you said about these guys, they were certainly… polite. She shook it off. “Sure, no problem… Um, just one thing though.” She’d noticed that Kirane wasn’t following; instead, she was still talking with the young man. Well… it wasn’t like she would find a visit to the Mansion fascinating, Ryana figured. However, there was one thing she’d just remembered: there was a reason she and Kirane were heading home, before all this happened.

She went back to the entrance of the Cup & Platter, where a very confused Shadow was still leashed to the pole. She walked him over to Kirane and said, “Um… I don’t know how long this is going to take, so do you mind bringing Shadow home? When you’re available, I mean?”

Kirane nodded. She noticed her friend’s cheeks were beginning to redden; whether it was for forgetting her dog or being forced to ask for a favor, Kirane wasn’t entirely sure. Regardless, she agreed, “Of course; I’ll see you then.”

Ryana smiled and nodded, and headed back to the new arrivals. “Okay, sorry about that. Um, the Mansion’s over this way….”
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stargazer » Aug 20, 2012 11:37 pm

Author's note: Please see the comments about this segment in the Library...but read this first! ;))

The last rays of sun fled behind the trees west of the Emporium, and the largest of the stone figures atop its roof awakened first. Her eyes blazed crimson and her roar echoed off deep into the darkening forest.

What a weird dream, she thought, looking around at her still-sleeping family, but somehow believable. To think, me a male – still, I guess I’m big enough. She chuckled. Erika wasn’t exaggerating; she was an impressive specimen, one of the largest gargoyles in her clan. She looked lovingly upon the much smaller form of her mate. I could see him as a female, she grinned, recalling the light-hearted teasing about their mismatched sizes they’d endured when she’d accepted his mating proposal all those years ago. Still, while Aaron was small, his heart was huge, and no one had any reason to doubt his courage or his love for his family.

They’d only had one hatchling in this strange dream, though as she looked around at their brood she understood why. Twins would be hard for such a petite female as dream-Aaron had been.

The children were waking up now, and before long she was surrounded by a gaggle of excited hatchlings, all eager to spread their wings in patrol over Ditto Town.

Two hatchlings were typical for most gargoyle couples, with three or four occurring on occasion. Yet they’d been blessed with six! Their unprecedented three sets of twins had made quite a stir among the clans back home, not to mention the human doctors who studied such things.

Max and Molly were the eldest; their coloring – lilac skin and deep purple wings – was very much like their mother’s. Twelve years old now, they were at home in the sky and loved frolicking above.

Jacob and Jonathan were next at six years of age. Their jade skin and purple wings matched those of their father. They had learned to fly only a few months ago; right now they were at their mother’s feet begging for more practice.

Aaron had roared to life by now, and he was tending to their youngest, Lily and Lucy, who were barely a year out of the shell. They’d already shown signs of loving to fly as well, though they were far too young to do so outside of the “flight suits” their parents had designed. Their tan skin, dark brown wings, and white hair were gifts from Erika's grandfather, who’d passed on before they had hatched.

Erika lovingly watched her mate greet their little “Daddy’s girls.” Should I tell him about my dream? That I was a male named Erik and he was my mate, a female named Abby? He'd probably find it amusing.

“My dear,” he said, looking up at her. “You’ll never guess the dream I just had…”
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Aravanna » Sep 03, 2012 10:45 pm

[OOC]Okay, I believe this to be the "C" Universe, but I've lost track. If I'm wrong, somebody please correct me. This is the universe where shastastwin's characters have not arrived from the mist but the Emporium is still destroyed. "Evil" I believe.[/OOC]

"ALEX!" Erica screamed when she realized her brother's life was being threatened. Her voice was an octave too high and cracked with the energy of her scream. Erica rushed forward, still holding Val's body. She didn't know what she was going to do, but the desire to beat the evil man to death with her bare hands made her feel she could do anything.

"Don't, stupid girl! He has a weapon!" The woman grabbed Erica from behind and pulled her away. Erica thrashed but she only had one free hand and had two angry fairy dragons flying in her face.

The surprised assailant took a step back and pressed his knife threateningly into Alex's throat, unsure of how to deal with the frantic new arrivals.

"Alex, what have you gotten yourself into?" said the woman, took calmly considering she was still holding Erica with an armed man only a few feet from her. Before Erica could try a second attempt to escape she was pushed violently away. There was an incredibly loud crack as she hit the ground. In her heightened state of emotion, she finally dropped her friend and threw her fists over her ears has her whole body recoiled. She knelt that way for several moments then looked up.

The man with the knife had stumbled back and let go of her brother, a look of shock fixed on his face. Blood was running down his shirt from his shoulder. Another crack rang out and this time he collapsed backwards in a spray of his own blood. Alex stood wide eyed for several seconds, clutching his throat, which had been cut enough for red to appear between his fingers.

"Sarah Johnson, what are you DOING?" he demanded of the woman, after recovering. Sarah looked back at him coldly, a pistol still extended in front of her.

"Saving your life. You're very welcome. Now what IS going on?"

"But he... you can't just shoot people! That's not how it works here!"

"Here?" Where's here?"

"You're in Ditto Town," intoned a deeper woman's voice. "And I'd like a little explanation."

Erica hadn't even seen the Phoenix Archer until now. There had only been her brother in danger. It was a rush of comfort though, knowing someone else, someone sane, was here. What little she knew about the Phoenix Archer from the patrol, this was someone who could take control of the situation.

Sarah Johnson's fairy dragons landed on her shoulders and the tall woman drew herself taller. She was clearly leery of the first person she'd ever seen with wings.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stargazer » Sep 12, 2012 9:29 pm

Abby’s mind was awhirl as their friends related the day’s experiences. Multiple worlds! Who would have guessed? Of course, living with Erik meant she’d heard theoretical discussion on the idea, and a few of his bedtime stories for Max had included science fiction on the topic – but now she knew it was real!

Speaking of Max, he’d started to fuss, and Ambrose’s efforts to soothe him came to naught. “I think he’s hungry,” Abby said. “Please, let me have him.”

The hatchling was passed over to her and she excused herself.

Mother and child were soon alone in the kitchen, though she could overhear snippets of the conversation still going on in the great room. Abby decided to amuse herself by watching part of a replay of the newsfeed from back home, in which the English humans celebrated the coronation of their new King and Queen.

Charles and his wife Diana were popular even among the gargoyles, who shared the human fascination with royalty though they themselves had none. “Playing princesses” had been a part of Abby’s childhood, much as it was for many human girl children.

Erik’s ancestors had even closer connections; they hailed from Scotland and had occasionally participated in medieval skirmishes between Scottish and English forces. He had grown up with tales of Arthur, Macbeth, and even the Stone of Destiny which had featured in Charles’ coronation ceremony. The clan was uncertain now which might be fact and which might be embellishment, but Erik loved to entertain Max with them just the same.

The broadcast concluded with a stirring rendition of “God Save the King.” Max had finished feeding, so Abby turned off the vidscreen and returned to the great room with her content little boy. There was a lull in the conversation – though Ambrose had again asked to hold Max – so after sharing nods the couple spoke.

“We have great news,” Erik said with a smile as big as any Abby had ever seen.

“Come next Christmas, Max will have a little brother or sister,” she finished. And if it’s a girl, maybe we’ll name her Molly, she thought to herself.


*********

Abby watched the Moon cross the sky, its pace far too slow for her troubled soul. For dawn, and the blessed if temporary release of stone sleep, would not come until that guardian of night had retreated below the horizon.

Molly had been restless until just moments ago, when she’d finally settled down to a much-needed nap. Abby looked down at her sleeping baby and allowed herself a small smile. Molly had snuggled in close to the comfort of her mother’s arms. “Sweet dreams, my angel,” Abby whispered as she kissed her daughter’s forehead.

And perhaps that wish worked, for a grin crossed the child’s face.

But now that the crisis had passed and they were safe, Abby faced too much time alone with just her thoughts. And those thoughts only went to one place: the loss of her beloved mate, her kindred spirit, her true love.

Images filled her mind: meeting Erik on her first trip to Manhattan; the joy on his face at Molly’s hatching; their daughter’s laughter as Erik twirled her above his head; his pride when he’d introduced Abby to Cymru, Thundershadow, and others in Ditto Town; her own agony when word came he’d been lost on that crazy mission to Port Carcinoma, and her relief when he’d come back to her.

Erik hadn’t even been granted the honor of giving his life in battle or to save others; his death had been meaningless, as pointless as the destruction of the Emporium they had called home. Once again she vowed her children would grow up learning all about their father’s courage, love of life, and gentle spirit. She clung to the hope that today’s tears of sorrow would one day become tears of joy – that someday she would see her love again.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby leuthilalda » Oct 16, 2012 8:20 pm

Toby walked around the front of the Rescue Center, sadly looking at the mess that they were going to have to clean up. Much of the front of the building was scorched and there were holes that needed to be repaired.
Rose came out, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. "It's a mess isn't it?"
"Yeah. I hope that other places in Dittotown are not this bad."
Rose looked at the Leuthilalda in the front yard. It was almost completely burnt, except for a small piece that she hoped would continue to grow. "I wonder why it wasn't able to protect at least itself?"
"I guess they have to be woken by someone sleeping under them, before they can have any defenses" Toby answered.
"That's too bad. I hope that the unburned part can grow out again. Oh, by the way, I just had an interesting dream."
"Was it a prophecy?"
"No, it wasn't exactly like the others." Rose looked puzzled. "I was in the clinic, sort of hovering over it like a ghost. And I saw 2 other Roses, exactly like me, on either side of the room."
"OK, I can tell this is going to be a weird one."
"I think there may have been others in the room also; it was harder to see. But each of the other two Roses was with a mourning dove."
"I wonder what that symbolized."
"No you don't understand, they were talking mourning doves."
"Talking birds? Narnian talking birds? Here in Dittopia?"
"Evidently. I heard enough to realize that one of the Roses had not even been in an explosion, but seemed to know about it. The other had, but the birds had evidently waked the Leuth bush, and they were not as bad off as we are. Except that the dove was injured, evidently from the heat the bush absorbed. But she was going to be ok."
"This is really getting strange. I wonder if they are all right over at the Emporium. Maybe I can go over there and ask Erik about what you dreamed. I should see if anyone needs help or healing anyway."
"But are you sure you are ok? That burn was pretty bad on your arm."
"No, the kingsfoil did its business and it seems to be healed. It's time to stop lounging around and see what I can do for others."
Rose winked. "I don't think many people would accuse you of 'lounging around', my Dear. Ok. But be careful."
"Will you be safe here?"
"Yes, just hurry back. I worry about you."
Toby packed a few medicines and supplies in a backpack, and headed out the front door towards the Emporium, never suspecting what he was about to find there.
Hail, Cameron Rhodes. May you always have the best mushrooms in the Shire, and keep a sharp watch out in service to King Peter.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Sonny » Oct 17, 2012 9:04 am

[The preceding events involving Loren, Eliana, and Cameron take place at the same time as the Alternate Reality Intersection. Loren and Eliana wake up after the activation of the HTD to find that their worlds are not exactly equal... These events transpire the morning after. In future posts, the combination of realities will become clearer.]

PRIME/ORDER

The sun was rising over the trees as Loren stirred awake. He groaned and sat up. He bones ached, and pine needles clung to his clothes and stuck in his hair. With a jolt he remembered what had happened, how the energy burst from the Hyperspace Transport Device had knocked him unconscious. Immediately he jumped up, thoughts of his wife and unborn child's safety foremost in his mind. "Eliana!" he cried out, and hurried to the other side of the HTD where Eliana lay unmoving on the ground.

Eliana jerked awake as she heard her name being called out. "Loren!" she gasped. Her body ached. "Where am I?" Loren looked at her with concern as he squatted down next to her. "Are you all right? Is the baby OK?" he asked.

Eliana groaned. "I don't know. I hope so! How long were we out?"

"Let me help you up." Loren took his wife's hand and gently helped her to her feet. "I think all night. The sun is just rising."

"Oh," Eliana grunted. "I'm hungry. That painter deer and mashed potatoes have long since worn off."

Loren looked around. "Where's Cameron?"

Eliana paused and glanced around the clearing. "Well, I guess he took off. Maybe he woke up before us and went to get help."

Loren and Eliana just stood contemplatively for a moment. Finally Loren broke the silence. "Well, we need to get you checked out. I think we need to go see the doctor."



CHAOS/EVIL

The sun was rising over the trees as Loren stirred awake. He groaned and sat up. He bones ached, and pine needles clung to his clothes and stuck in his hair. With a jolt he remembered what had happened, how the energy burst from the Hyperspace Transport Device had knocked him unconscious. Immediately he jumped up, thoughts of his wife and unborn child's safety foremost in his mind. "Eliana!" he cried out, and hurried to the other side of the HTD where Eliana lay unmoving on the ground.

Eliana jerked awake as she heard her name being called out. "Loren!" she gasped. Her body ached. "Where am I?" Loren looked at her with concern as he squatted down next to her. "Are you all right? Is the baby OK?" he asked.

Eliana gasped. "Amelia! She's back at home with Cameron. How long were we out?!"

Loren was confused. "Amelia?" he asked. "Who's Amelia?"

"Our daughter," she replied, confused.

"What? Who?" Loren asked, clearly confounded.

A dread filled Eliana. "Oh, no, Loren, are you suffering from amnesia?" She pushed herself up and smoothed her shirt-front over her flat stomach.

Loren's eyes widened. He placed his hand on her stomach in shock. "Where's the baby!?" he gasped, dread rising in his voice. "Oh, no, what happened? Honey, what happened?"

Eliana took her husband's face in her hands. Fear that her husband had lost his memories of the last 2 years pushed tears to her eyes. "Loren, dear. Amelia was born a year and a half ago. Have you forgotten?"

Loren was confused. They had no daughter. "Eli, you were pregnant this morning- I mean yesterday. We came out here to investigate the weird thing that I found... this device here! We had takeout from the Cup and Platter for dinner... painter deer, and mashed potatoes, and-"

"Wait. We did have takeout last night. Yes, it was painter deer. But I most certainly was not pregnant. You told us at dinner about this device, and Cam volunteered to stay with Amy while I came out with you."

"No! Cam came with us! I mean, he put in the wrong coordinates, but he got here eventually."

Loren and Eliana just stood there, looking at each other for a few minutes. Finally Eliana broke the silence. "I think we need to go see the doctor."
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby starkat » Oct 19, 2012 8:12 pm

Katherine wandered the banks of a small stream near her father-in-law’s home. The scenery was breathtaking. Low hanging branches were heavy with deep green leaves and vibrant flowers. Even in the shadows in the edge of the woods, deep blue flowers with a white heart wound their ways further into the shadows.

She was not out for any real reason; she just felt the urge to wander. Gwanuig was deep in conversation with his father when Katherine slipped a note into the hand of a waiting runner and headed out. Her thoughts wandered through multiple fields of thought. She had not been in touch with her foster family in some time and her cousins and brother had been strangely silent. The latter, she wrote off to the fact that they had fallen out of the habit of communicating through the written word due to their abilities and missives to the elven home were hard to deliver.

After spending a moment wrestling with her boots, she dangled her feet into the bouncing brook and leaned backwards to look towards the sky. Technically, she should not have been out here alone being the king’s daughter. Not like I haven’t sidestepped rules before. A noise deep in the forest caused her to reach for the dagger at her waist.

Katherine maneuvered into a better position to meet the potential threat. Her breath caught in her throat as the leaves rustled and the shadows parted to reveal a hooded figure that seemed strangely familiar.

“Greetings,” the figure raised one hand in a sign of welcome.

Katherine straightened and replaced her dagger in her belt. The single spoken word was enough for her to identify the stranger. “Welcome. What brings you to find me?”

For the first time, the woman pulled back her hood and let out a soft sigh. The features that greeted Katherine were an echo of Olivia’s and to some extent, Lianna’s. The woman was no older than 25, but she had an air about her of having seen too much. Katherine accepted her niece’s hand as she stepped out of the stream.

Verena smiled and hugged her aunt. “What do you know of what’s going on in Ditto Town?”

“Not much. Gwanuig and I have been out of town for some time now. What’s happened?”

Verena grimaced and struggled for words, “Reality around the town has fractured. There are at least four realities at the moment.” Unlike her mother and the rest of the family, Verena’s powers had not been affected because this was not the ‘Rena’ that was currently with Olivia. This Verena had the ability to step through dimensions much like the way another Olivia had done so awhile back. Her powers gave her the ability to see things about reality that were invisible to normal humans. “Mother tried to come back before her powers faded and was repulsed and thrown deeper into the time stream. When I tried to see what the ripple was, I discovered the fracture. I could not even get to the town.”

Katherine was dumbstruck. Her brain fought to wrap itself around the information that Verena was presenting to her. “What do I do about it? I don’t have my abilities anymore and if you can’t get into town, how am I supposed to reach them?” Worries about her brother and cousins were full blown at that point. “You said Olivia was thrown deeper into the time stream. Is she ok?”

“Yes, she’s fine. She’s just stranded at this point. I did bring someone from my reality that has gone to locate her. I came to you. There is a way to get you into the town.” The other woman held out a small vial of clear liquid.

All Katherine could do was stare at the bottle. When she finally found her voice, it cracked slightly. “Th-there are no guarantees that my powers would be the same if I took that. Even then, it takes an electrical shock to trigger the transformation.”

“It’s true that your powers may not be the same this time, but the Lianna from my dimension says there is a strong chance that it will trigger the same transformation as your genetics are the same as the first time. She also tweaked the composition so that the electrical shock is not needed. What say you? With our powers combined, I should be able to get you back to the town. Gwanuig would have to stay here as we would not have enough power to transport more than the two of us through the disruption.”

Katherine reached out and took the bottle and stared into its contents as if the answer lay within.
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