The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stargazer » Mar 03, 2010 9:42 pm

In which our intrepid heroes complete their business in Manhattan and contemplate a return to Ditto Town. Posted in 2 parts due to length.

Thanks to starkat for her helpful suggestions on this segment.

“…normal flight time from LaGuardia to Jackson is about three hours; we’ll have a better estimate of our arrival time once we reach cruising altitude. The current temperature there is 48 degrees, so it looks like it’ll be a cool night. In the meantime, enjoy the flight, and let us know if there’s anything we can do to make you more comfortable. This is your captain wishing you a good evening.”

The pilot’s pleasant voice barely registered in Katherine’s thoughts; she was entranced by the spectacular view of the New York skyline gradually falling away under the rising plane. It was not exactly a common sight in Ditto Town to see the ground from so far away. Gwanuig, seated next to her, was similarly captivated by the view outside; his hand over her own provided a reassuring touch.

Her mind was awhirl with the details of their return to Ditto Town. Erik had tried to explain it a few days earlier: while he had grown up in Manhattan, some years earlier he and Abby had been part of the founding of a new gargoyle clan near some far-away remote place called Jackson, Wyoming. “A big city like New York isn’t your typical gargoyle roosting spot,” Abby had added with a chuckle. “We prefer isolated areas, often in or near mountains. So the Tetons were ideal. Jackson isn’t very big, and there aren’t any other towns nearby.” She’d indicated the two spots on a wall map, and then pointed to yet a third location, “My home clan is even farther away, way over here.”

Erik had gone on to say that the Tetons clan kept in close contact with Manhattan via modern conveniences like email and vidphone, but physical travel was impractical without the help of their human allies. This was offered on special occasions – such as the return of the newly married couple to their Ditto Town home.

His accidental discovery of the ditto world gate had come while exploring the areas near the craggy cliffs the Tetons Clan called home. He’d finished with an anticipation-filled description of the moonlit mountains and an invitation for their friends to meet some of the gargoyles who lived there. Both Katherine and Gwanuig were eager now to see the snowcapped peaks.


They had flown before in this strange world, but this was nothing like their earlier experience in a big, overcrowded commercial jetliner. Katherine was still amazed that the gargoyles had convinced their human friends to fly them halfway across the country in a private corporate jet.

Here, the seats were comfortable and there was plenty of room to stretch out, and as Erik had earlier promised, there was a wide variety of food and drink to choose from, music to listen to, or movies to watch. Flying in this world wasn’t so bad, if it could be like this.

Across the aisle, Abby and Erik were busy cooing over a giggling Molly, whose infant carrier was securely strapped in between them. She smiled at their affection for their daughter and then returned her gaze to the glittering nighttime skyline falling behind the plane as it sped westward.

The Ditto Rider’s attention gradually returned to their last few weeks in Manhattan…


Katherine and Abby were sitting in the Wyvern courtyard. The view was enough to take her breath away; the orange and purple of the twilight sky gradually giving way to the spectacularly lit towers of Manhattan. Gwanuig was with Erik and Molly in the recently-constructed stardome which now occupied a space just below the castle. Though smaller and less luxurious than its Ditto Town predecessor, Erik was still very proud of it.

The two women were discussing a return to Ditto Town; Katherine and her husband missed their friends there, along with the wide open spaces and fresh air. Abby was describing the arrangements they’d need to make to return to the portal when Katherine winced in pain.

“Are you all right?” Abby quickly asked.

“Headaches again,” Katherine groaned in reply. They had been increasing in frequency. She had managed to hide the minor headaches from her friends.

“Let me get you something for it,” Abby volunteered, and without another word she was gone, only to return a moment later with tablets and water.

Katherine thanked her and added, “This one seems worse than before.”

“Have you seen a doctor about this?” the gargoyle asked. Katherine shook her head, so Abby went on, “I think you’d like Doctor Sato. He’s been the clan’s doctor ever since his father retired. He knows his stuff and is very professional. And he has a great bedside manner.”

Katherine resisted for a few moments but Abby refused to take no for an answer. Before long they’d secured an appointment, especially after Erik echoed Abby’s endorsement of the man. One look from Katherine’s husband silenced any further thought of protest as well.
But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stargazer » Mar 03, 2010 9:42 pm

Thus convinced, Katherine reported to Doctor Sato’s office the next morning. He subjected her to a battery of tests, but was apologetic when all was said and done. “I’m very sorry, but I cannot offer an explanation for these headaches. Results on a couple of these tests won’t be available for a day or two, however, and may offer some insight. I’ll take a look at the x-rays and MRI results as soon as possible. In the meantime, I can write a prescription for something a little stronger than the over-the-counter medication you’ve been using. Please let me know immediately if there are any changes, for better or worse.”

With a smile and a nod, Katherine took the offered slip of paper and left the office. Gwanuig looked up as she came out into the waiting room; they joined hands and, after a visit to the nearby pharmacy, went up to the Wyvern Great Hall, where their gargoyle friends waited.

They entered just as Erik rose from his station near the great hearth, having stoked the fire in the hearth to an impressive size. “Pyro,” Abby teased good-naturedly.

He stood and bowed with a flourish. “At your service,” he winked.

They all took seats and Katherine filled them in on what the doctor had told her. Soon the conversation turned to a return to Ditto Town. Abby said, “Katherine and I talked about how much we missed Ditto Town last night, and I think our friends there will enjoy seeing how much Molly’s grown.” As if in response to hearing her name, the tiny gargoyle stirred in Abby’s lap.

Katherine and Gwanuig both nodded. “We’ve been talking too, and would like to go back,” he began. "We have been gone for so long and rarely thought about getting home, that the pull is hard to resist."

The couple was grateful for the kindness shown by their human hosts in New York, and had been thrilled at the unexpected reunion with their gargoyle friends, but they were homesick – and the theory was discussed that perhaps Katherine’s headaches were somehow tied to a need to return home.

Xanacorp’s young CEO had gladly offered a private flight to the airport nearest the gate – in exchange for one last meeting between Katherine, Gwanuig, and a panel of scientists interested in learning more about the world on the other side of the portal.

So one of their last evenings in Manhattan found the elf and Ditto Rider in a conference room; Erik and Abby had also been invited since they’d spent so much time on the dimension-travelers’ home world. They faced a panel of six eager interviewers, though the humans had agreed to funnel their initial questions through one moderator, who introduced herself as Doctor Melanie Smith.

Katherine liked Doctor Smith right away, impressed by the fondness with which she treated little Molly. Even now she was playing with the hatchling while her colleagues put the final touches on their questions. And the young woman had worked to put the nervous couple at ease, introducing herself with a joke about her name. “My ten-year-old son loves to tell his friends that his mother is Doctor Smith; thanks to my husband he’s a big fan of the old Lost in Space.”

Here Abby poked Erik in the ribs, and he chuckled quietly. When Doctor Smith had come on board to lead Xanacorp’s gargoyle genome project the year before, she’d introduced herself to the gargoyles in much the same way.

All the scientists were fascinated most by two mysteries: that these travelers from another world were so human in appearance that they had lived on earth for some time without anyone suspecting otherwise, and that their arrival meant multiple portals existed between the ditto world and their own earth.

They’d been asked to recount their travel through the new portal and any noteworthy experiences upon arriving on this earth. The interview had lasted into the night, and even then it was only reluctantly the scientists had ended their questioning.

“Penny for your thoughts,” Gwanuig’s soft voice came once the room had emptied.

“Just thinking about how we got here, and how eager I am to get home,” she replied with a smile.
But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby JillPole » Mar 16, 2010 7:00 pm

Wumwumwumwumwumwumwumwumwumwumwumwumwumwumwumwumwum

The sound was always there. It didn’t really bother Adrian after the first couple of days. The agitators did a necessary job. He could, of course, have done it all himself, but that was tiring and really, they had the energy.

He was standing on the bridge, looking down into the Little Bism, as one of the Narnians had termed it on the group tour that had led him to apply for the job. High temperature-resistant glass formed a window some ten feet below, and beyond- probably a hundred metres down, Adrian thought- there was an orange glow, where the pool of magma apparently sat beneath a deep pool of boiling water. The Little Bism was only a tiny fissure; he could just make out the glow beyond the wavering of the heated air in the channel and the beads of condensation on the glass. The turbine inlets were in another room entirely. This outlet’s condensed steam was piped off at the peak of the window to a tank where it was treated with minerals and run through a UV filter before being piped into Ditto Town for the water supply. It was also used to heat the building- though not with any intentional piping. In fact, the electricity generated on the power side of things also powered large air conditioning units on the roof that operated year-round.

Adrian didn’t mind either way. As a merman, he was comfortable with water of any temperature. While superheated steam was able to burn him, mere boiling water could do no such thing. His body’s heating and cooling regulation was much more able to cope with extremes than a human’s.

He worked at the water treatment plant now, inspecting and analyzing samples of the outgoing water at regular intervals, adjusting the chemistry, performing system maintenance. He’d only had to be trained on the last one, and he wasn’t sure if that was because his elemental powers made him a complete natural with water chemistry or because he had, before the first years of his life had vanished from him, previously done something similar.

The morning grab samples had been taken and the system looked stable, so Adrian was taking his morning tea break. He stood on the bridge, humming a tune he was hoping to find lyrics for so he could finally have an excuse to call a band practice, when he heard hurried footsteps clanging along the grated metal walkways.

He looked up to see a youngish man- possibly in his late twenties, if he aged normally, and one couldn’t take such things for granted in Ditto Town- someone he knew he’d seen before but hadn’t met, hurrying along towards him, a look of slight panic on his face and a clipboard in his hand. The other man looked relieved to see him and jogged up the short flight of steps to the bridge.

“Hi. Uh…odd question, how do I get back to the turbine hall?” He seemed embarrassed, but Adrian just grinned at him.

“Up the walkway, through the fire doors, and then the first double doors on your right. You can’t miss it.”

“Thanks.” The other man started to walk away, his stride quickly approaching the near-run with which he’d approached Adrian.

“New here?” Adrian called after him, leaning on the railing.

“Yep!” The other man yelled over his shoulder as he neared the end of the walkway. “Name’s Lucid!”

“Adrian!” the merman called out, raising a hand in greeting, but Lucid just nodded and didn’t turn around; he banged through the fire doors and was out of sight in short order.

“Hm…” Adrian mused. “I do need a drummer….”
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby JillPole » Mar 16, 2010 7:32 pm

Ekko, who, though she certainly doesn’t advertise the fact, holds a doctorate in xenobiology, was working on her unfinished magnum opus, the Index, Classification and Encyclopedia of Species (AEZ of Multiverse). (AEZ is standard terminology among xenobiologists and xenogeologists for All Explored Zones; her goal is to be as exhaustive as possible, but as we know there are many unexplored zones.)

(Incidentally Collhyn has a Bachelor of Library Sciences and can play any stringed instrument on 50 worlds like a virtuoso, though the latter only in his human form because he needs fingers.)

The Enigma, in her human form, was adding some details to an entry in the “S” section:

“Class: Shapeshifters, Morpho. See also Footnote 1.

Subclasses:

Changelings: Capable of reshaping into any known object, person, or substance, with varying amounts of permanence and molecular similarity. Resting form is commonly, but not exclusively, an amorphous liquid. Subspecies include members of the Dominion from the Beta Quadrant of U107… The Vitas Changeling can only morph into other living creatures… Not to be confused with the Plentyn Cael (Changeling Child) phenomenon encouraged by members of the Unseelie Court class of Fairy, which is closer to Brood Parasitism than anything else.

Enigmata: Fixed-person, limited species changers. Have been known to have up to seven different forms; speculation is that each Enigma possesses all seven but few live the centuries required to discover them all. Each form is usually a different species. A few are also capable of form divergence, in which certain forms contain multiple persons. History in U305 is mostly violent, stemming from a long-held grudge with merpeople…

Face-Changers: Cannot shift species; capable of mimicking any particular member of their species exactly with appropriate sensory input. Also usually capable of inventing a new member of the species.

Dichotomial subset: This subset consists of creatures capable of only two forms, and which may or may not retain the same mind in each form.

Lycanthropes (Werewolves, Loup-Garoux): …

Chiropteral and Draconian Vampires: …

Notes on breeding: While not all members of Morpho are biologically compatible, a Dichotomy may in fact be a young Enigma, and, more specifically, an Enigma and a Werewolf have been recorded as producing a shorter-lived, 3 form Enigma. Likewise, there is recorded history regarding the match of a face-changer and a Vitas changeling; their offspring was a face-changer in three species that the changeling had previously imitated for long periods of time. This raises questions about whether the genetics of a changeling are permanently affected by whom it chooses to imitate… Ultimately it may be extrapolated that any compatible pairing may result in a new set of shapeshifting abilities and thus a new species.


1 Note: Does not include the Animagus or similar, who, in some worlds, is capable of using “magic” to transform; this falls under the “Wizard” class and is not an exclusive ability.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby JillPole » Apr 18, 2010 1:33 pm

It was Sarah’s handwriting, there was no denying that. And the precision and…well, length of some of the words in the letter could have come from none but her former roommate. Other than that, and the mere fact of its presence, the letter itself was unremarkable.

It was a friendly hello, filled with the various exclamations of how time flies, how long it had been, the questions that covered the various aspects of life- how are you, how is your job, are you seeing anyone. On the other hand, it contained very little in the way of detail on her friend’s life. But this, too, was like Sarah; she had seldom spoken of her family or personal life at first. It was only after they had gained each other’s trust that the secrets were exchanged, and neither girl had been in a hurry to reach that point. However, they had eventually gotten there, and, thrown together, they had become inseparable for a few years. Portia was pretty sure, by the end of it, that there were still things Sarah wasn’t telling her- and knowing her caution, she wasn’t surprised that the letter contained so little.

It didn’t really matter. Though Sharon was still in the room as she read, Portia didn’t even look up before she dove for a paper and pen on the cluttered surface of the desk. She dashed off a half a page, light-hearted, flighty news such as one might send to a casual friend, shoved it in an envelope and copied the return address- a post office box in a town an hour out of Statmond- before shoving it quickly into Sharon’s hands.

“Sharon, I’m so sorry…can you get this sent off as soon as possible? I want it shipped overnight, but no sooner. I need to be there when it gets picked up.”

“Portia, love, are you gonna be ok?”

“I hope so, I really do. Sarah’s about the only person I know of who might be able to help me, and this letter just falls from the sky? It could be a trap or it could be a miracle, but I can’t wait to find out which. Can you cover for me? I’m going to be gone for awhile.”

“Of course, Portia…how about your grandfather in another country died and left your family a big estate that you gotta go sort out, ‘cause you’re the executor?”

“Sharon, that’s perfect.” Portia grabbed her arms and kissed her cheek, then pulled her into a hug. “I’m so sorry to be leaving you like this. Will you be ok?”

“I’ll be fine, darlin’, don’t you worry!” Sharon wiped her eyes. “I don’t know what all’s going on around here, but you just keep safe, you hear me? And don’t you send me any kind of message unless you know it’s secure. If I don’t know, I can’t talk.”

“I’m going to miss you so much. You’ve been like a mother to me, you know that?”

“And you’ve been a pain in my neck from day one!” Sharon laughed. “And I love you for it. Now shoo! It sounds like you better pack!”

* * *
She took from her bank account what she thought she could conceivably get away with and made her suitcase a medium one only, with enough clothes for a week’s stay anywhere and as much variety as she could think of, which was more than most people.

She took a taxi, paid cash, and made certain she wasn’t followed.

She was not expecting the person who came to pick up the mail at 11:13 am, but after a glance at the letter, they seemed to be expecting her.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby JillPole » Apr 20, 2010 7:17 pm

Eruheran had had many misgivings on this issue. It seemed…unlikely to succeed. It would probably only ever result in embarrassment.

But he decided to go for it anyway- the company of male friends was important. And frankly, Ditto Town opportunities for “manly bonding” seemed few and far between, though the number of males had, according to Lianna, “thankfully” grown significantly in the past couple of years.

So, in accordance with the spirit of the thing as carefully explained to him by Adrian, he turned up a half an hour late, bearing his flute case and a very greasy pizza, and wearing a tie around his forehead. Which Aria had said made him look like a hippie, whatever that meant. And then she’d made a mumbled remark about how elves are kind of like hippies a lot of the time and that she’d never noticed this before, but sometimes she rambled like that and so he just left her office while she was still snerking to herself.

And pointedly ignored the funny looks he got all the way to the Ditto Mansion basement, where there was a big lounge room with comfy, used furniture and pool and foosball tables, as well as a big open room with a piano, a drum kit, and recording equipment.

He got there first, as it turned out. Ryder turned up 5 minutes later wearing a half-buttoned shirt and sweat pants, with mussy hair. Adrian walked in looking like his normal self – jeans, grey t-shirt, and barefoot- 10 minutes after that. He looked around expectantly, gave the other two nods of approval, and said, “Give New Guy a prize for really getting into this” before grabbing and snarfling a piece of the pizza.

“New Guy?” this was from Ryder, whose mouth was full.

“Yeah, I met this dude at the power plant last week, he was lost, and then I hunted him down later and told him he was in our band. Anyway he’s the latest, so that’s cool.”

“Um…can he play anything?” Eruheran wiped his mouth with a paper towel before he spoke. He couldn’t help it. Elves are not very rock-and-roll.

“Well, he doesn’t know.”

“I see.”

“But he walks extremely rhythmically, so I think we’ll put him on drums.”

“Whenever he gets here.” There was definite skepticism in this comment.

“Yep.”

They left 2 pieces of the pizza, and Lucid got there a full hour late. He looked mortified when he realized everyone was there. “I…uh…I thought you said 8…”

“I totally did say 8. Showing up late is part of the spirit of being in a band!”

Lucid looked confused, so Eruheran attempted to clarify. “This has something to do with rock and roll.”

“What?”

“I…am not entirely sure.”

Ryder mercifully intervened. “Don’t worry about it, the point is, it’s meant to be casual and fun.”

“Oh.” Lucid sat on the couch and took off his coat in an attempt to be more casual. “Can you pass the pizza, please?”

* * *

They spent the first hour debating band names, which was actually a lot of fun. Adrian’s ideas were ridiculous, things like “The Flaming Croutons” and “Balky Charcoal”. And that got them started going off madly in all directions. Ultimately, things like “Weasel Feet” and “Kung Fu Trees” made the short list, and their stomachs ached from laughter and grease.

Finally they decided to jam for awhile and find out what kind of music they were even going to play, because that seemed like it might influence their choice of name. (Eruheran had quite settled on wanting Kung Fu Trees in any case.)

Ryder had brought his acoustic guitar, and Adrian a violin, and combined with Eruheran’s flute and Lucid on the djembe and bodhran, they did not play rock and roll at all. What did result was a variety of reels and ballad-like songs that they made up out of their heads, and Eruheran could tell that with practice, the sounds that would result would be utterly riveting.

They might need a piano, though.

And then Adrian struck a plaintive chord, called it out as A minor, and played a slow, winding tune for the others to pick up on the second go-round, and on the third play-through, he began to sing.

Eruheran felt the music become something like the flow of a river; they were no longer creating the tune, but it was carrying them. They were filled with strength and hope, Ryder had begun to craft a veritable Northern Lights in the air to the music, and Eruheran’s vision- the vision of an elf-lord, which could see things unseen by other eyes- grew even clearer. But something was wrong, very wrong, and he suddenly stopped playing. The others ceased as well.

“Sorry about that, I’m not sure what happened there,” Eruheran said quickly. “You’ve got a fantastic voice, Adrian.”

“Thanks!” the merman blushed. “I don’t even know where that came from.”

Lucid was speechless. “What just happened?”

“I don’t know, but that was unbelievably cool. Good place to end the night, I think,” this was from Ryder, who was sitting on the floor, absentmindedly plucking the E string.

“Yeah, I guess so. Next week, same time, same place?” Adrian looked hopeful.

There were grunts of affirmation, and as if in a slight daze, the four of them departed.

Eruheran remembered what was bothering him on the way up the stairs to his apartment, something Oceana had said to him awhile back…and when he realized it, he knew they definitely needed a piano player. A very specific piano player.

“Collhyn once told me a legend about the merfolk. He didn’t want our culture to be forgotten. The story says that, once upon a time, the mermen were called away to the first Enigmatic War. Their wives and children, according to the custom, must remain at home. But the men did not want to leave their women defenceless. Up until this point, one of the favourite pastimes of the merfolk was to find a shoal at eventide and to raise their haunting voices in heartbreakingly beautiful songs that spoke of the Eternal and His plan. Any mortal, hearing this, was strengthened and went on his way a better man. But in order to leave their mermaids able to defend themselves, the men made a great sacrifice and gave to the women their voices. To this day, no merman can hold a tune. But the women are sirens, and the sound of our song puts any living being into a trance and under our power. Not for nothing did Odysseus chain himself to his vessel. We can be deadly.”
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby starkat » Apr 24, 2010 6:18 pm

A stargazer/starkat production:


Home. Such a beautiful word. Katherine let out a soft puff of air and watched the steam dissipate in the cold air outside the cave. Being in the mountains in the middle of the night meant that it was cold enough to see your breath, but it was not always humid enough. It just happened to be so tonight. They had been there for a week visiting with the clan.

Erik came up beside her with a printout in his hand. "Katherine?" He held it out.

She knew that this would be the results from the doctor she had seen in New York. It was one of the reasons for the length of their visit. Dread and anticipation battled for supremacy in her stomach. She looked down. No sign of anything unusual on the X-ray or MRI, however there are signs of microscopic machines in the bloodstream. Effect on the human body unknown at this time.

Katherine blinked and just stared. Erik had already read the e-mail as it had been sent to him so he simply waited. She looked over at him, "Nanites? How did that happen??"

Erik did not have an answer for his friend. He simply wrapped a wing around her and pulled her in for a hug. Katherine welcomed her friend's support as she tried to process the information. Her training had been mainly in self defense and in offense, but she was not uneducated. Her mind raced as it reviewed what she knew about nanites as well as running over her memories.

She had already drawn the conclusion that these headaches were linked to the ones she had had back when the Jester had been running around town as the last major one occurred in his presence in an almost identical fashion. Something in her more distant past was coming back and attacking her. How it was possible from another dimension, she did not know, but it was happening nonetheless.

She let out a soft puff of air into the night sky as she thought this through. If the nanites were causing her headaches, then there had to be something that was triggering them. She had done some substantial reading on headaches and the causes behind them while she had access to the internet. These headaches seemed to be similar migraines.

Gwanuig had already extracted a promise from her to talk to Lianna as soon as they arrived back to work up a pain killer. Katherine decided to talk to Aria as well. If this was caused by the nanites, maybe the Tireless Engineer would have a solution as to how to deactivate these machines or at least block the controller signal.

A soft cough drew her attention. Her cheeks colored. “Sorry Erik. I didn't mean to zone out like that.”

“No worries. You know you have a New York accent now?”

Katherine's laugh filled the air. It was just what she needed. She could feel the stress flooding out of her. “Gwanuig does too. Should be interesting to see what people think when we get back.”

Erik grinned. “I would expect they will be very surprised.” A slight change in the color of the night sky drew his attention. “I'd better go. Dawn will be here soon and Molly needs a bedtime story. Can you believe she already loves Goodnight Moon?” He playfully rolled his eyes.

“Thanks Erik.” Katherine gave her gargoyle friend a hug and she was left alone with her thoughts.

I wish our bond worked across dimensions. I don't even know if they are still alive. I haven't wanted to go back because I don't want to fight anymore, but the other day I realized something... I have a responsibility to do so because I have the skills. However, marriage to Gwanuig has taught me something about snatching slices of 'normal life' whenever the time comes. I think I treasure it more now because of him. Our life may never be truly normal especially as I am now married to a prince, but normal is what we make it.

Her musings were cut into by an overwhelming sense of love and companionship. She reached out and leaned into her husband who had come up beside her. “You know you will have a really hard time surprising me in the future if you keep broadcasting your presence.”

Gwanuig chuckled. He had known she needed him and come to her. Her thoughts had been easy to discern for him. “You know princess, I could probably still surprise you if I wanted to, but right now this is much more fun.”

Katherine's smile reached her eyes as they watched the sun show itself over the horizon. “Did Erik tell you?”

“Yes. We'll talk to Lianna and Aria when we get back.”

Ever since their marriage, they had found themselves on the same wavelength so frequently that it no longer surprised either of them when the other said something about what they had been thinking about.

“Has Erik said anything about going home?” Katherine asked.

“Sometime in the next couple of nights.” After spending so much time with the gargoyles, they had picked up on their terminology. “Erik said something about a meteor shower.”

“What is it?” Katherine shifted into Sindarin as she picked up a slight unease in her husband's mood.

Gwanuig made a subtle shift in his weight and turned Katherine to face him. “I have this feeling that something has happened back at home. Not something big, but something that could potentially be big. I did not want to worry you, but I have been having some dreams.”

Katherine stiffened, but reality sunk in quickly. There was nothing she could do until they returned to their own dimension. A yawn caught her by surprise and husband and wife retreated for the day.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stargazer » Apr 30, 2010 12:01 pm

“And goodnight to the old lady whispering ‘hush’
Goodnight stars, goodnight air,
Goodnight noises, everywhere.”


The now-familiar words came easily, though Erik struggled to keep his mind on them, and on the precious little one he held in his arms. While he was still reading an orange ray of light filled the small cavern; Molly’s cooing fell silent as she turned to stone. Here she would be safe but could still bask in the bright sunshine that would give her body what it needed to stay healthy and to grow big and strong.

He lovingly placed the tiny statue in its carrier and rose to his feet. For hours his mind had been on the email summarizing Katherine’s condition. His heart ached for his friend – surely, after all she’d been through, not only in the ditto world but in her unexpected exile to this one, she deserved a little health and happiness of her own.

“No, it’s not fair,” came a soft whisper at his side. Having spotted Molly sleeping comfortably, Abby had quickly guessed the reason behind his worried expression. She gently stroked his hair and he relaxed in her loving presence – yet even this was tinged with the tiniest bit of guilt.

“Just when she’s finally married her kindred spirit, she gets this news,” he muttered, mildly surprised at the frustration welling up in him. “There must be something we can do.”

“We can be there for her – and for Gwanuig.” His eyes met hers and again she knew his mind. She went on before he could object. “I know you want to help, to protect – but I think this is the right thing for us to do. Doctor Sato and the Xanacorp scientists are on this. They’re the best, and they’ll let us know the moment they learn anything. Besides, I’m sure Lianna and Aria won’t take this lying down.”

“You’re right, as always, my dear.” He tenderly reached down and ran a talon along the stone of his daughter’s cheek. “But, though I’m worried about Katherine, there’s more. What if –“he shuddered – “what if it’s contagious: passed by touch or in the air? I couldn’t bear the thought of you or Molly becoming – becoming infected. Even worse, it could turn into a pandemic, in this world or the ditto one.”

“Maybe you’re right. But Katherine’s had them for a while, if the headaches are any indication. And how long was she here before she found us? Weeks? Longer? How many people has she touched? We’ve all been exposed, with no ill effects so far. Maybe those nanite disasters are confined to your science fiction.”

“Perhaps,” he conceded, recalling visions of Star Trek characters’ painful transformations into Borg. “But this is real. We don’t know for sure. Maybe the nanites are dormant for the moment, waiting for the right time or conditions to spring into action.”

“All the more reason we need to be strong for both of them.”

She was right, Erik knew. He had no knowledge in this field, and despite his desire to help, he had to stand back and let the experts – in both worlds – do their thing. He missed their friends back in Ditto Town and looked forward to returning there once the meteor shower had passed.
But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby starkat » May 07, 2010 8:56 am

The meteor shower had been breathtaking. Each blazing fire bolt across the sky brought new meaning to the word unique. As magnificent as it was, it did not hold a candle to what happened the next morning. It was time, they were finally going home.

Yet at the back of the newlyweds’ minds was the earlier trip through the lock that had brought them to this world. It had been disorienting and painful. Erik and Abby did their best to reassure them that this would be different – little more than an instant of weightless disorientation – and with that, they disappeared through the portal.

Gwanuig turned back for one last look at the Teton mountain range. He understood the gargoyles’ attraction to this place – it was wild, majestic, and beautiful – and to them, it was home. And his home – his and Katherine’s – lay on the other side of the glimmering patch of light through which Erik had just led his family. His confidence thus bolstered, Gwanuig grasped his wife’s hand and stepped through first, pulling her along with him. He wanted to make sure that there was no indecision on either of their parts. Katherine flinched as she felt the sensation of her molecules being disassembled and reassembled but it was brief and painless. She opened her eyes to the grins of the gargoyles and blushed.

Abby offered encouragement to her friends. “It was the same way for both of us when we first found it. It’s a really strange sensation, but it got easier over time.”

Katherine smiled back and breathed in deeply. The air was clear and everything was green. They were home. She looked up into her husband’s eyes and saw a light there. He was connected to the land in a way she had not realized until she saw it coming back into his eyes.

“Home.”

“Home.” He returned with a kiss.

Abby was tickled that her friends were comfortable enough to show their affection for each other in front of them, and Erik was pleased that these two kindred spirits were finally united especially now that they were back in the land where they may face disapproval from several directions. But the moment was lost when Molly let out a small, impatient squeal and the newlyweds broke apart with their faces turning red.

“Sorry about that.” Katherine said.

“Actually, we’re sorry for interrupting,” Erik winked. “But I’m afraid someone is getting tired so we shouldn’t stand around too much longer.”

Butterflies seemed to attack Katherine in full force. She was glad to be back, but she felt a tad guilty for even thinking about not coming home. There was also the whole getting married thing, her experiences in the other dimension, and the growth as a person that she would have to share with her family and her stomach was in knots. Her brother and cousins were going to kill her. Figuratively speaking of course.

“Katherine?” someone was calling her name. Finally it registered. She blinked and focused on her husband. “I’m alright. Just nervous.”

“Have you let them know you’re back? Contacting Ryder and your cousins might help with your nerves.” Erik suggested.

Katherine realized that her gargoyle friend was correct. Her nerves were linked to how her family would react over the bond now that she was back after having been apart so long. So she bit the bullet and reached out with her mind through her bond, but something was wrong. It was like the time before when she had been cut off, but different. For a moment she wondered if it had been too long and she had just forgotten how as the bond did not appear to work through the dimensional barrier, so she tried again. Outside of her bond with her husband, it was like her bond with her brother and her cousins had never existed.

“Katherine?” Abby had grown concerned with her human friend’s silence. “What is it?”

“I can’t – I can’t reach them. It isn’t like they’re blocking me or they’re dead, but like the bond itself is completely gone.” She looked from face to face confused and torn as if one of them could supply her with an answer.

Gwanuig wrapped his arms around his wife and tried to reassure her. “We will get to the bottom of this. Why don’t you teleport ahead and check in?” This was completely out of his purview, but he was determined to be there for his wife. He could sense things their relationship would face new challenges now that they were home. “We’ll follow behind as quickly as we can.”

The Ditto Rider assented and moved back a step. Normally she would have disappeared, but she kept standing there. Her face was taught with the strain. Finally, when she was gasping from the effort, she gave up. The pain in her eyes pierced the heart of everyone in the group except for the littlest one who was too young to realize what was happening.

“It’s gone.” Katherine fell into Gwanuig’s arms sobbing while the others looked at each other completely lost.

Erik wondered if the nanites were involved, but his human friend’s response made that seem unlikely. “We’ll just have to hoof it then. Everything will be fine.” He exchanged worried glances with Abby – both gargoyles knew he sounded far more certain than he really felt – but he wanted to be strong for his friends. He shifted Molly to a more comfortable position and the group took off towards the town.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby starkat » May 09, 2010 6:43 pm


Erik, Abby, and Molly left Katherine and Gwanuig to go on into town on their own. With promises of a dinner at the emporium to come, the small group split up.

“Gwanuig, would you let me go on alone and find the rest of my family? I want to break the news to them.” Katherine looked up into her husband’s eyes begging him to understand.

He simply looked deep into her eyes and laughed lightly. “Our family will be thrilled. Go on. I will take a look around the town borders to see what has changed.”

Katherine gave him a hug and slipped off. Structurally, the town had not really changed. Without talking to anyone, there was no way to know how the people had changed, but Katherine was not entirely certain that she wanted to make her presence known just yet, so she was sticking to the shadows.

Her first stop was the Apothecary. While not abandoned, it gave off a sense of limited occupation. I wonder where Lianna is. She loves this place. She let out a small puff of breath in frustration. Katherine was just about to head over towards the Mansion when a chattering noise drew her attention. A larger then average raccoon waved her over to the tree she was sitting in.

“Hey Emily!”

The raccoon chittered happily as she wrote on her PDA. “Ditto Rider! Where have you been? Can I put your return in the newspaper?”

Katherine shook her head. “Not yet. I need to talk to my cousins and my brother before announcing it. I may have an exclusive for you when I am ready to talk about it.”

That mollified the reporter and she scribbled something on her PDA. Katherine sighed softly. So much for tracking down Olivia. Emily’s note had said she was out of town and had been for some time. So where was Lianna? Emily twitched her nose, chittered something at Katherine, and bounded away without writing down a translation.

Wind tugged at her hair as she maneuvered towards the mansion. Skulking in the shadows was not easy when it was broad daylight out. There were few shadows, but Katherine finally reached her old rooms. As she put her hand on the door, she felt a soft pang of dread in her heart. What if Lianna was not here? What if she didn’t take the news well about Gwanuig? Had she discovered the problem with their powers yet? She steeled herself and turned the knob.

“Hello?! Who’s that!?” Lianna’s voice was stressed and she came around the corner with a knife in her hand.

Katherine dodged just in time, but the blade still managed to cut off a strand of her hair. “LIANNA!” She yelped. “Calm down! It’s ME!”

Panting, Lianna recoiled backwards. Her hearing had betrayed her. That voice could not be what it seemed. Her brain refused to accept it until Katherine rolled over and sat up so they were looking straight on at each other. “Is it really you?”

Katherine nodded and held out her hand. Lianna took it and they pulled each other up. “Yeah. It’s me. How are you?”

“You sound different.”

“Living in New York will do that to a girl.” Katherine surprised Lianna with her laugh. Out of everything that Lianna could have said, she had to pick up on the accent first. “Where’s Ryder and Olivia.”

It was still completely unreal to see her cousin staring back at her. “Ryder’s at work. He took a job with the Tireless Engineer’s gang. Olivia’s moved back to our old hometown. Ever since she came back and we discovered that…”

“Our powers don’t work.”

Lianna scratched her head in confusion. “You know? How did you…? Oh! The bond!”

“Right. When we got back, I tried to contact you guys over the bond, but I couldn’t get through. Then I discovered I couldn’t teleport. Any ideas what happened?”

Lianna shook her head as they took seats in the living room. “Liv speculates that it may have been a time traveler. Both of us have experienced some weird gaps in our memories that don’t line up with Liv’s diary and somethings that got mentioned in town and after talking it over with Ryder, a time traveler was the best explanation we could come up with.”

“Hmmm… Ok, so let’s leave that for the moment. What time does Ryder get off and tell me about the people in town and what I’ve missed. I’ll spill my story when Ryder gets home.”

Lianna smiled. This was like old times. She had missed these conversations with her cousin and they spent the next couple of hours talking about the town. The sound of a key in the lock broke up their conversation. Both women turned towards the door as Ryder came into the room.

Katherine eyed her brother. While Lianna had not changed, Ryder had. He was quite a bit leaner then he had been before. There was a troubled look in his eyes. Her disappearance had hit him hard. But as soon as his eyes registered what he was looking upon, the troubled look vanished and he dropped everything he was carrying.

He was trembling. “Please tell me I’m not dreaming.” He finally whispered.

His younger sister smiled and rose from the couch. “You are not dreaming. Hey bro.”

Ryder darted forward and wrapped his arms around his sister and started crying. Lianna was wiping away a few tears as well. Katherine allowed herself to bask in the knowledge that they were alright and that fundamentally, they were still the same as they had been. She returned her brother’s hug joyfully.

She finally forced her brother to take a step back when she realized he was not letting go. “I’m not going anywhere Ry.” She laughed.

“You had better not! Rochir will probably go hunting you down if you leave like that again!” came a retort from Lianna who was throwing together something in the kitchen.

That drew a laugh from the siblings. Ryder could not keep his eyes off of his sister. Lianna brought plates in and they sat down. The threesome were simply content to be together. Katherine was grateful for that fact. It meant putting off her stories for and their reactions.

When they were finished, she finally brought it up. “So, do you want me to start from the beginning where we went through the portal and go in order or do you want me to start at the highlights like my wedding?”

“Your WHAT!?”

The looks on their faces were priceless. Katherine laughed long and hard. After catching her breath, she began her story.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby leuthilalda » May 14, 2010 6:46 pm

Koolarin slowly awoke. The sound which had been accompanying her dream did not cease with the awakening, but continued - a soft, high-pitched sweet chord, sounding like a well-trained choir of soprano honey bees.
Koolarin, still half asleep started singing a little melody to go with the ever-present stridations. But she stopped, suddenly wide-awake when, at the exact point in the melody where one would expect, the chord around her changed to match her tune.
Skrain, who had been visiting her brother Koolin for the night, spoke with a slight hesitation in his voice from a nearby branch. "What is it?"
"I don't know. I have never heard it until this morning," she replied.
Her mother suddenly alighted right next to her. "This is the strangest thing," she said. The music actually seems to be coming straight from the bush itself, and all the berries are glowing."
"Will, come look at this!" a loud voice proclaimed from somewhere outside.
Koolarin, her mother, Skrain, and the now-awake Koolin, all flew out, and saw Bob and Will looking curiously at their new home.
Suddenly Will shook his head. "Of course, that's it!" he exclaimed. This is a Leuthilalda just like the one that I live under in the square. The elf must have planted it. And having talking birds living in its branches has woken it up. That's what I was trying to think about the other day."
Koo, who had joined the party looked a little worried. "I hope we are not causing a problem" he said.
"Not at all", responded Will. "In fact quite the opposite. These bushes not only hum, but they are fiercely protective of their friends. The one in the square has alrady saved my life once."
"This one is higher pitched than yours", Bob observed.
"It must be because it is younger."
"Well," said Skra who had just come up with his wife and the cardinals, "I guess we should give him something to accompany. He broke into a Mockingbird song, and one by one the others joined him, the young leuthilalda humming right along.
We sing the glory of the Lion, the Lion, the Lion.
And of the Emperor oversea, oversea, oversea.
May They be blessed by all below, all below.
For they have set us free, set us free.
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 JillPole » Jun 03, 2010 5:18 pm

Portia found herself being approached by a young man a foot taller than herself, who wore glasses, the local college’s sweatshirt, and a smile she considered vaguely insincere. Over his shoulder was a black duffel bag, as though he had been on his way to the gym.

She found herself suddenly uncertain for a moment when he turned quickly aside to face the window behind her and began flipping through the envelopes that had been in the box. But then he began to speak in a low, conversational tone. “Portia Rizzo, I presume. You’ll come with me, please.”

“Who are you? Where’s Sarah? I’m not going anywhere with you!” she hissed.

“I think you will. Believe it or not, I’m here to protect you.”

“Protect me? From what? I don’t even know you!”

“I’m Matt,” he said, looking directly in the eyes now, and holding out his hand. “And you know who I’m protecting you from- at least, you know what he looks like.”

She stared at him for a moment, half of her brain formulating a plan of escape, the other cautiously trying to hope. She didn’t see his outstretched hand, and after a moment of awkwardness, he put it back at his side.

“Look, I’m here because Sarah told me to keep an eye out for you.”

“Prove it.”

“I can’t, not at the moment.” He sighed. “Look, I can take you out of here or you can stay, and I promise you, either way, you won’t find Sarah. Either I’m lying, and I have some kind of power over her, since I’m reading her mail, or I’m telling the truth. You don’t really have much choice. Just come quietly, and quickly. Your cause isn’t served by the authorities showing up, and we don’t need other sorts of company.”

She kept in mind that she still had her ace in her sleeve. She would go with him for now, only to escape later if necessary when his back was turned. “Fine. But you’ll have to prove you’re telling the truth within the next hour, or I will risk the police. Understand?”

He shrugged. “I think we can contact Sarah from the office. Grab your stuff.”

Uneasy, she jerked the pull-handle out of her suitcase, and he followed her out of the building. He seemed to know enough to keep her in sight, and she wondered if there was a chance he knew about…everything.

Several blocks later they reached the university campus, and following Matt’s directions, Portia thumped her suitcase up a wide stone staircase into a gothic-style building well over a century old. They passed under an archway as they entered the main doors, then strode along contrastingly modern hallways lined with state-of-the-art lecture theatres and classrooms.

Finally, Matt stopped her, casually knocked on the door to room 116, and she stepped into an unassuming university professor’s office. Shelves of leatherbound tomes graced three walls, and a window with a radiator below took up the other. A slightly stuffy atmosphere pervaded the sunlit but poorly-ventilated room, and a balding, middle-aged professor smiled at her benevolently behind his thick-rimmed round spectacles. He beckoned her to have a seat, and told Matt he could go.

The younger man hesitated, nodded quickly, and disappeared out the door again.

“Now, my dear. Shall I pour you a cup of tea and tell you what’s going on?”

Portia was struck momentarily speechless due to a pileup of words vying for exit from her brain, but nodded dumbly, and the professor pulled a knitted pink-and-green tea cozy off of a brown betty teapot, and poured her drink into a slightly chipped but certainly clean mug. “Milk or sugar?” he asked, and she shook her head no.

She accepted the tea, crossed her legs, and cleared her throat and her mind. “Now, I want…”

“Yes, yes, Portia, I shall explain. Give me a moment to speak first, mm? And then I will answer any questions you may have. If you are indeed, ahem, in a need-to-know situation. No offense, I trust- you will see we have our reasons for secrecy.

“My name is Dr. Bernard Baetz, but you must call me Bernie. I insist.” He smiled pleasantly, and for some reason Portia began to relax.

“Sarah, as you call her, and I, are both members of what we like to call the Network.”
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby starkat » Jun 10, 2010 7:16 am

A narnianerd/Sonny/starkat production:

Completely disoriented, Olivia realized she was lost. The skies had not yet cleared enough to could see the stars, but the rain had finally come to an end. She shivered as the cooler night air started to dry her off. A voice from her left startled her.

"Howdy ma'am."

She blinked owlishly as a man in buckskin came out of the trees. "H-hello."

"You look cold. Why don't you come with me? I have a fire in a shelter on the other side of these trees. You can warm up there." The young man smiled.

"Sure. Thanks." Olivia followed the newcomer over to his campsite and sighed in relief as the warmth of the fire replaced the cool of the night.

"Where yah headed?"

"Ditto Town. My sister and cousin are there." She bit her lip, trying to avoid saying too much. "I'm lost though. The storm blew me off course. Do you happen to know which direction I should go? What's your name? My name is Olivia. Liv for short."

Cameron smiled again. "Cameron, Cameron Far and I believe Ditto Town is in that direction." He pointed. "I'm heading there myself; it's been a while since I was there last. It'll be good to see how the town has changed." He sat back with a thoughtful look.

"Oh? Have you been there before?"

"Long ago; been up north trapping and hunt'n. Can you tell me about the town now?" Cameron began packing up his gear.

Olivia obliged, explaining the current layout of the town. From the Cup and Platter to the Inn as well as the Ditto Mansion, she mentioned some of the adventures that had happened in passing as she talked about each location. By the time she finished, her clothes had completely dried out and Cameron had the campsite packed up.

"Shall we?" He offered his hand and pulled Olivia to her feet.

"Let's," Olivia grinned. Meeting a new friend had helped to push her mission to the back of her mind for the moment and she felt like she could breathe again.

The two travelled companionably for several miles before coming upon a house, which Olivia recognized as one on the outskirts of Ditto Town. Her mission settled back upon her shoulders heavily and she was worried again.

Cameron had noticed that she had grown more pensive over the miles and was glad of the early morning light. Things that looked bleak at night tended to look better during the day. "Look, it's been a long walk; do you want to stop here? They might offer us some breakfast."

Olivia was just about to answer when Eliana and Loren came around the corner of the house, carrying gardening tools. Loren had just made a witty comment, and the two of them began laughing, but as soon as they saw Olivia and the stranger, their laugh faded, and a look of combined shock, relief, and amazement crossed their faces. "Liv!" they both exclaimed. "My dear Olivia!" continued Eliana as she dropped her shovel and rushed toward her long-absent friend with open arms.

"Loren! Eliana!" Olivia stumbled into her friend's hug and nearly collapsed in relief. She was not lost. She was nearly home. Her sister and cousin were within reach. The emotions overwhelmed her, and she started sobbing.

Eliana whispered soothingly to Olivia while Loren and Cameron looked awkwardly on, but when Olivia's sobs faded, Eliana motioned to Loren, who took Olivia from his wife's arms and carried her into the house. Eliana beckoned to the stranger. "Come on in. We can talk inside."

Cameron followed a bit mystified, as hospitality had not been something he had seen much of lately in his travels. People tended to frown on an itinerant wanderer. Besides, this situation was certainly not something he had ever expected. He followed the others inside.

"I'll get some tea on," Eliana said to Loren as he lay Olivia down on the couch and gently pulled a blanket over her. "Cried herself to sleep, poor girl," he commented, then looked up at the stranger and held out his hand, chuckling. "Unusual way to meet. I'm Loren DeHond, and this is my wife Eliana."

"Cameron," came the slightly distracted reply. "Is she going to be ok?"

"Oh, I think so," Loren replied with a glance at the sleeping woman. "Seems she is just worn out. I'd call for her sister, but I don't expect Liv to sleep long, and we do live a little ways from the main part of town. Take a seat," he offered.

"Thanks." Cameron slid his cap off and took a seat on a chair by the table. "Town sure has changed since I was here last. It didn't reach out this far."

Eliana's chuckle coincided with the clink of tea cups as she set them on the table. "I remember when I was a little girl I'd come out here in the woods and play house with my dolls. I built a little fort on this very spot and pretended it was my home." She patted Loren's shoulder lovingly. "And now it is!"

"So, what have you been up to since your last visit to town?" Loren asked Cameron with a glance at the sleeping Olivia.

Cameron told Loren an abbreviated tale of where he had come from and how he had met Olivia. As he was concluding, the kettle began whistling, and Olivia woke up.

"Ohhhh..." she moaned. "Where am... Loren!"

"Take it easy, Liv. Looks like you've had a rough time of it. Eliana's fixing some tea."

Olivia sat up slowly, put her head in her hands, and did not move until Eliana sat down next to her, put her arm around her, and pushed something warm and fragrant beneath her nose. "Here you go. This should help some." She held it there until the other woman took it.

No one spoke until the tea mugs had been drained. As Eliana got up and began to clear the tea things away, Olivia let out a long slow breath and began to unravel her tale, talking faster as she went.

"I hardly know where to begin. First, my abilities are gone. I can't time travel any longer. I don't know what's gone wrong. I have to warn my sister and Ryder. Also, while I was gone, I stumbled across information on a threat to the town. Some kind of attack using something small. It won't kill anyone. Just allow for manipulation. I have to get to town."

She stopped suddenly, and Eliana picked up on the one thing Olivia had left out. "Sweetheart, where's Rena?"

Tears flooded from Olivia's eyes. She sobbed so hard that Cameron sat down next to her and wrapped an arm around her trying to keep her from hurting herself. Finally the sobs subsided enough that Cameron felt comfortable enough to back off. The depth of pain in the young mother's eyes shook everyone to their core.

"My daughter is stuck in the past," Olivia whispered so softly that the others had to strain to hear it.

Eliana, her own eyes and cheeks wet with the thought of losing her own unborn child, again sat next to the weeping woman, tenderly wrapper her arms around her, and tried to comfort her as only another mother could. Sensing the need for privacy, the men stepped outside.

Cameron drawled, "Well?"

"Word has to be gotten to Olivia's sister, Lianna, in town. I would send you, but finding her can be difficult these days. Would you like to go into town with me? I bet there's some explaining you would like!"

"Yeah, that would be good. Thank ya kindly."

Loren slipped back inside and let his wife know where they were going and the two men set out for town.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby starkat » Jun 11, 2010 7:04 pm

Ryder and Lianna sat their with their mouths open as Katherine shared her tales of her time in New York and the story of her marriage. She told of flying with the gargoyles over Manhattan and getting to see Molly for the first time. The others had questions for her as they went along. Finally Katherine wound down.

“Sis, I knew Gwanuig was likely to ask you to marry him.” Ryder grinned cheekily at his younger sister.

Katherine threw a pillow at him with a shriek and the threesome dissolved into laughter. It felt good just to be together again. Finally, when they could breathe without collapsing into giggles, Katherine brought up one final subject.

“Guys, I hate to ask this, but can we keep my marriage to just us?”

Lianna was startled, “What for?”

Katherine fiddled with her hair her face turning slightly red. “Gwanuig and I haven’t told his father yet. We don’t want word getting back to him before we can tell him.”

Ryder lightly slugged his sister in the arm, “Well duh we can keep it quiet. That makes sense. Better to hear it from you guys than to hear it through rumor. Have you given thought to what you are going to do now that you’re back in town?”

She glared at her brother. That question was a deliberate poke at the hesitation in her manner. His big brother radar must have picked up on it. “First I want to make rounds to see everyone. Then I want to get started in trying to figure out why our abilities seem to have gone AWOL. (Absent without leave).” She sidestepped the matter of the headaches and nannites for the moment.

Ryder was not fooled, but let it go. Lianna knew something was going on, but was waiting on the brother and sister dynamic to bring whatever the unspoken conversation was to the forefront. It was nice to see that the siblings had developed a normal relationship even without their abilities. She smiled at that as her heart gave a small squeeze. She missed Olivia.

They started swapping stories about what was going on in town as well as tracking dates for their abilities disappearing. The clock caught Lianna’s eye and she yelped. “I’m going to be late! I said I’d open up the Apothecary today and that was twenty minutes ago! It’s good to see you again Kat!” She yelled as she ran out the door.

In reality she was not going to be late. Something had occurred to her as her family had talked and she was headed for the Emporium before going in to work.

Back in the rooms, Ryder was gathering his own gear. “I’ve got to get going too. Aria will dock me pay if I’m late.”

“Why didn’t you say something before now?”

“Because I’m working a late shift.” He grinned and hugged his sister. “Where are you off to?”

“I thought I’d stop by the paper and fill Emily in on the public details and then I’ll just wander through the town.” Ryder’s raised eyebrow asked volumes. “He’s gone to check on his people. He’ll be back in a couple of days.” She stuck her tongue out at him.

“Just wondering. Have a good day Kathy.”

“You too Ry.”


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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stargazer » Jun 14, 2010 9:53 am

Abby had just finished feeding her hungry daughter when the Emporium’s security system announced a guest. “I wonder who that could be?” she mused aloud, making her way to the building’s entrance with Molly still in her arms.

The door opened to reveal an old friend. “Lianna?” Abby squealed in delight. “How wonderful to see you again! It’s been too long.”

There was silence for a moment as the two friends embraced, being careful not to disturb the little one Abby carried. When they separated, Lianna asked, “May I hold her?” Abby eagerly passed the hatchling over and smiled as Lianna cooed and played with her.

Abby invited her guest in for refreshments, eager to catch up on the latest news in Ditto Town. Once seated in the Emporium’s great room, Lianna happily entertained Molly while Abby presented tea and the little chocolate cakes that Erik loved so much. “I can’t believe how much she’s grown!” Lianna remarked as little talons grasped an offered finger.

“It’s all this fresh air and sunshine,” Abby quipped – though in this case it was literally true.

“Where is Erik, by the way?” Lianna queried. “I’d like to say hello to him.”

“He’s off looking for Aria, but I’ll be sure to tell him you stopped by. While we were in New York he came up with some ideas about upgrading the computer in the stardome, and he wanted to run them by her.”

“I see. How’s he like being a father?”

“Oh, he loves it,” Abby replied, her eyes sparkling and her voice full of love and pride. “You should see him around Molly. Our human friends told us we’re going to have, in their words, ‘a spoiled little Daddy’s girl.’ I know he’s already had passing thoughts about another hatchling, though he’s not said a word about it. But we both know that’s a few years off right now.”

“So Molly’s going to have a little brother or sister eventually?”

“Absolutely! We’re looking forward to it. But please, tell me what’s happened in Ditto Town while we were away.”

The jade gargoyle listened closely as Lianna offered a brief account of recent events in town, but was astonished when she went on to say, “And I just had the most interesting conversation with Katherine and Gwanuig. Seems they had quite the adventure in another world – they were especially thrilled with their ‘gargoyle rides’ over Manhattan – not to mention they seem to have gotten married along the way.”

“You already know?” Abby finally asked.

“Sure do,” Lianna grinned.

“Saves me the trouble of telling you a story then,” Abby smiled back.

But then Lianna leaned forward conspiratorially, a mischievous expression on her face, “I think we should have a big party – cover the town with invitations but keep the purpose all very mysterious, and then turn it a celebration of their wedding.”

Lianna wasn’t surprised to see her friend’s eyes lit up at this, since Abby and her mate loved entertaining friends. In moments the two women were eagerly discussing party details, such as location, refreshments, and so on.

“I’m sure Erik will go for it too,” Abby remarked. “We can either have it here, or at the Cup and Platter…”
But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stardf29 » Jun 28, 2010 10:02 pm

"So, what do you all say?"

At that Star Defender meeting, Jennifer and Shannon presented what they had discovered to the other Star Defenders.

"This is a grave matter indeed," Adrian said. "If what you say is true, then not only are they every bit as powerful as we imagine they could be, but also it is pretty clear why The Nine value them so much."

"It's clear that while the sisters themselves pose no threat to us, the people that are after them, should they manage to harness their powers, could potentially cause major damage to Ditto Town," Mike assessed.

"So what do we do?" Isaac asked. "They don't want us always hanging around to protect them..."

"They by no means need our direct protection, as they are perfectly capable of beating any of us down anyways," Jennifer said. "Our best bet is an emergency response system ready for the worst case scenario."

"You think so?" Susan asked, then turned to Victor. "What has your reconnaissance mission brought up?"

"Our team found a mysterious base some distance away that is housing suspicious activity," Victor said. "It seems to be guarded by some strange barrier, though."

"Not just any barrier," Molly added. "A psychic barrier. Just coming within a few miles of the place has flooded our brains with evil thoughts. Any attempt to infiltrate would be met with a sheer onslaught of such malicious thought waves that I don't even know if my own counter-psychic barrier would be enough to break through."

"So, that rules out any pre-emptive strike," Mike noted.

"But," Molly continued, "the very existence of a psychic barrier is very indicative... and very worrying. We know that Hannah and Amelia's powers are directly tied to their emotions. Considering that this place is using a psychic barrier, powered by strong emotions itself, it is pretty clear that this is the place most concerned with Hannah and Amelia. That said... should their powers be added on to whatever power that barrier already has..."

"...the barrier will be nigh-impenetrable," Laura finished the sentence. "Hence a 'worst-case' rescue, should that be the place where they are taken, would also be inadvisable."

"Might there be a simple way to counter the barrier? I mean, if they want to capture Hannah and Amelia, surely they have a way of getting through the barrier themselves," Mark asked.

"Normally, the way to counter a psychic barrier is to combat it with strong emotions of your own, opposite of that the barrier produces," Molly said. "As I said, I doubt my own power would be enough to counter the barrier as it is, but if Hannah and Amelia's emotional powers are as strong as Jennifer and Shannon say they are..."

"Oh, trust me, with their emotional strength, they will most certainly be able to temporarily disable the barrier for their captors," Jennifer said.

"Well, this is a fix," Mike said. "A pre-emptive strike is out, a worst-case rescue is out, and direct defense is out. What other option is there?"

"There's always..." Victor started when something on his body beeped. He took out the machine that made the noise, looked at it, and frowned. "There's always finding out through the surveillance camera installed at the suspicious base that Amelia has already gone over there on her own, broke through the barrier, and entered the base herself."

"...WHAT?!?"
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