The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby JillPole » Jul 04, 2010 8:25 pm

It wasn’t true, of course. Aria would never dock an employee pay for being late. Her staff were dear to her and she knew if someone was late and didn’t say why they’d a) have a good reason and b) make it up later.

But Ryder said it because he was eager to get to work. The joy that now bubbled inside him needed to get out, he had to tell someone…well, he had to tell Aria. That was the truth.

There was more than one reason for telling her, as well. The first he seemed to have thus far successfully concealed. But the second was that Aria seemed to harbour some secret concern about her last meeting with Katherine. More than once she’d mentioned the last time she and Katherine had talked, but whatever she’d been about to say had trailed off and she’d never finished the thought. At first he thought it was just that she missed her, as he did, but as he got to know his employer he found that her facial expression was far too specific for a simple feeling of sadness.

Print trotted easily up to the gates, and he could hear the throb of footsteps, and cheery voices in speech, grunts, and snatches of song. Ryder’s heart did something weird but by now familiar when he heard a clear voice call out “OK, Burin, start her up!”

There was a sudden din, and then a very loud POP, and then a brief silence. A cloud of smoke wafted into the sky, and Ryder, suddenly very concerned, nearly launched himself out of the saddle. But following the silence was a roar of laughter of every shape and size, and he relaxed.

By the time he’d dismounted and led Print in through the door, Aria’s broken contraption had started spewing bubbles filled with helium. She was bent over the pump and appeared to be whacking it with a wrench.

“Morning, Aria!” He sang out as he approached. She straightened very quickly, and suddenly inhaled a bubble.

“Morning!” she squeaked, and burst into uncontrollable giggles. Ryder, already full of joy to near-bursting, nearly gave himself a hernia laughing, as did any of the rest of the crew who’d been in earshot.

When they’d sufficiently recovered, Ryder asked Aria, gaspingly, if he could talk to her in her office. She nodded, and, holding her sore stomach, lurched towards the office structure.

(It must be pointed out that, as soon as Aria’s door had shut, there was a five minute period wherein most of the Engineer’s crew attempted to repeat the helium-speech…it was more successful for some than others. One pixie had to be rescued from floating away into the great blue yonder.)

Aria eased herself into her chair and sighed blissfully. “I LOVE new inventions,” she declared. “It’s been far too long since I’ve had something so wonderfully random to work on.”

“What IS it?” Ryder asked.

“It generates helium. And that part’s working, it’s just what it does with the helium and the not creating explosions part that isn’t.”

“Why are you…”

“Generating helium? There’s a limited supply of it on this planet. What we have came from the sun and we’re depleting it, like something you’d get from a mine. So I’m trying to make helium- you know, without actual nuclear fusion.”

“Oh.” Ryder sat and pondered for a moment. He looked over at Aria, who had begun to hum, and sift through papers on her desk. “So, I have news.”

She looked up at him expectantly. “Something wrong with the new windows on the Inn Between?”

“No, actually, it’s good news. I mean, it’s great news- it’s the best news ever. Katherine’s back!” His smile grew gradually as he spoke and at the climax, Aria’s eyes flew wide and she covered her mouth. Were her eyes sparkling with tears, or was it the lighting?

“Wow. Wow! Ryder, that’s so awesome!” She jumped up from behind the desk and ran around and hugged him. “I’m so glad! But how, and when! And when are you bringing her here?”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if she wandered over here herself later. But if not, I’ll do it as soon as I can.” She was still hugging him, and he noticed that her hair smelled faintly of coconut. Not particularly wanting to pry himself free, he continued, “She met up with Erik and Abby in their world, actually- and it’s a bit complicated, and I’ve only heard it once- so would it be ok if I let Kat tell you when she comes?”

Aria let him go, smiled, nodded, and said “Wow!” again. “Thanks for telling me this, Ryder. …You know what, have the day off! Go hang out with your sister!”

“Oh, no, that’s ok, I mean, I will hang out with her, but she’s off getting reacquainted. She doesn’t need me tagging along. I’m happy being here…”

“Well then go clean her apartment or something. You do not need to be here today.” She gave him a confident smile and nod, and he felt…conflicted.

“I…Ok then, if you want. Thanks.” He turned to go. But Ryder’s impulsive, intuitive side suddenly hit him full bore, and he turned back.

“Aria, will you…have dinner with me tonight?”

Aria looked at him carefully, and she saw it. As an operative, she’d learned to recognize certain looks on a man’s face, and the look here was a good one. And she felt its reflection in her heart.

But there was the promise, the last thing Katherine had asked of her, in private conference, before she’d disappeared.

“Aria, promise me…this is going to be so hard on Ryder. Promise me you’ll be a sister to him, in my place?” Kat’s eyes had been downcast, tears wet on her cheeks. She was saying goodbye to someone she loved, perhaps forever, and she had been with him for less than a year. It was heartbreaking to watch.

She felt an internal hesitation, but it might be a last request of sorts- though Aria hoped this would not be the case- and she had to honour that. “I promise, Katherine. I’ll do my best.”


It hadn’t been the time to clarify what Katherine meant by that. But now, perhaps it was! Katherine was back! Aria’s mind reeled through possible outcomes to responses, and she selected the best compromise she could think of.

“Can…can I take a raincheque?” Her face was hesitant. It wasn’t what he’d hoped. But then what could you expect, dropping it on her like a bridge? You have got to slow it down, pardner! He chastised himself internally.

She saw his face fall, and rushed on. “I just can’t do it tonight. I mean, I will get back to you. Very soon, I promise, I just…I have to sort something out first before I can answer that…question. I’m so sorry, I just can’t say right now.”

“That’s ok!” Ryder said it as brightly as he could manage. “You can let me know whenever, take your time.” His heart was thumping pretty hard by this point. “I’m…gonna go find Katherine. Have a great day!”

He walked fast and didn’t look back as he left. He almost didn’t breathe until he was safely ensconced on Print’s back and a few paces into the trees.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stargazer » Jul 05, 2010 10:33 pm

From the keyboards of JillPole and stargazer

While Abby and Lianna conspired at the Emporium, Erik was out and about seeking his friend Aria. His connections at home led to some of that world’s best engineers, scientists, and programmers, yet there was something special about the Tireless Engineer. Perhaps it was the way she saw things, her creativity, or something else, but Erik deeply respected her opinions. Her incredible designs made the Emporium the wonderful place it was, and her work on the stardome had been the inspiration for a similar, if smaller and less grand, project back in Manhattan.

He was hoping to talk to Aria about new Emporium software. It was a pleasant change of pace for his mind- a movie that might have been entitled "Cyborgs I Have Known and Feared" was currently attempting to stage a matinee in the theatre of his brain. From the nefarious Captain D and his crew on Angora to the hopefully ficticious Borg, he was feeling pretty horrified. It was, of course, Katherine's nanite infection that was really worrying him. For a moment he imagined it, and he felt tiny metal claws skittering along his arteries and veins, and shuddered from head to toe.

Of course, at the moment he wasn’t sure where Aria might be, but the day was pleasant and his family was safe, so he didn’t mind a little extra exercise. He happened upon the Ditto Mansion first.

Upon entering his sensitive ears caught a hint of music rising from the lower levels; curious, he sought out its source. He was quite surprised to find several Ditto Town friends – Eruheran, Ryder, Lucid, and Adrian – practicing a rather haunting tune on various instruments. Not wanting to interrupt, he waited just outside the room until the song was finished and then made his entrance.

They met him enthusiastically, and with a twinkle in his eye, Adrian inquired, “Say, Erik, how’d you like to join our rock and roll group? I bet you’re musical.”

He snorted quietly. “Sorry; I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, as they say. Now Abby can sing.” He smiled broadly then at fond memories; he loved hearing his beloved sing what they’d come to call “Cymru’s Lullaby” to their little one almost as much as Molly did.

“Sorry, big guy, dudes only.” This was from Adrian, who summarily flopped onto the couch, one knee crooked over the back.

“That’s all right. When you’re ready to perform, let us know! We’ll be there. But right now I have to find Aria.”

"I'm pretty sure she's still at work at the compound," Ryder volunteered. And then turned a lovely shade of beet red for some reason. (Though Erik didn't know it, this was an Emergency Band Practice. Adrian had instituted this as protocol from the first day- anyone was allowed to call an EBP at any time, no questions asked, in case of extreme need of distraction.)

Erik thanked them and departed. As he ascended the stairs, a wistful, Celtic-influenced melody floated after him. I thought they said rock and roll...? he pondered, and then forgot about it.

Ryder's information was correct; Aria was just exiting her office as he approached, a complicated expression on her face. The old friends met and made themselves comfortable on various pieces of equipment- a lawn tractor for the gargoyle and a nearby hitching rail for the Engineer- to catch up on all the news. Aria's questioning provoked a quick summary of recent experiences in New York, which eventually segued into a discussion about possible upgrades to the stardome computer. Aria responded enthusiastically to his suggestions, once again coming up with ideas that went beyond his own imaginings.

But despite all his enthusiasm, Aria could tell something else was bothering her purple friend. She waited, hoping he would broach the subject on his own. Eventually Erik paused and gave a great sigh.

“There’s something else.” The deep voice was soft and full of concern, and Aria leaned closer to hear. “It's about Katherine.”

Her face took on a very serious expression, and she watched him intently.

“We’re thrilled to have found her- and honoured. But her headaches kept getting worse, and we asked our doctors to examine her.”

He paused and drew a deep breath. “She’s infected with nanites.” He offered no further explanation, knowing her grasp of that subject was likely better than his own.

“Any prescribed treatment or speculation about additional effects?” she asked.

“Not right now. People at home are on it, though.”

“I see.”

“I can’t help worrying about her. But there’s more: what if they suddenly become more active, more virulent, even contagious? The idea of Abby, or Molly, or anyone else for that matter, undergoing Borg-like transformations is my worst nightmare right now.”

Aria understood what he meant- he'd described the Borg months before after he’d had a nightmare about being assimilated by cybernetic beings. "I'll get right on it, Erik," she said, then sighed. "As soon as I can. I've got a lot of balls in the air at the moment. I mean, this takes high priority, but nanites are usually deactivated by either an electromagnetic pulse- we call it an EMP, they happen with atomic bombs and knock out all electrical devices, but I can make one without the bomb- or microwaves. How we'd microwave a person, I'm not yet certain...but I'm sure it's been done. My real concern is that whoever designed these made them organic or otherwise invulnerable to normal shutdown. ...Sorry, I'm rambling. I'll get people working on it now, and start tests as soon as I can get samples."

She turned and yelled. "Mithnin!" A fair-haired elf poked his head back out of the door he'd just entered. "Pull out the plans for the EMP generator, will you please? Thanks!" He nodded and went inside. "Don't worry, Erik. It will come right. It always does." She patted his shoulder, and was then startled by a buzzing in her pocket. She pulled out a communicator of some kind, then began walking away before stopping abruptly.

"I'm sorry again, Erik. I've got to take this. Another ball's dropped. Thanks for bringing this to me, though."

"Thank you for working on it! It takes a bit of the load off of my mind."

"I appreciate your confidence. Say hi to Abby and Molly for me!" And with a wave, she spun and walked away determinedly. Something evil, Erik thought, is probably in a lot of trouble right now.
"The eclipse will melt your spine!'

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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Aravanna » Jul 09, 2010 7:03 pm

Lucid couldn’t help but smile at the antics of his friend Adrian. The corners of his mouth tugged up, then sank, then tugged up again at the memory. Even a year after misplacing his memory, Lucid was still struggling with a lot of the little social graces most humans took for granted, but Adrian didn’t seem to care. Conformity was too boring and slow paced for the merman. On the other hand, it was hard for Lucid to keep up with multiple references to something Adrian called “pop culture.” Becoming part of a band steeped with references from “it” meant Lucid was always a little on the outside, but he found himself enjoying the company of the guys anyways. He laughed easier than he had even in kind company of the Banks. Maybe life was supposed to just be simple fun with people you could relate to. Lucid felt life had been something else for him before, but he hardly cared what anymore.

Lucid had also discovered he liked playing drums. Adrian had sensed potential and ordered him behind a set for a specific reason. Now Lucid found himself walking in rhythm to the stables where Champion was waiting for him... the beat was inside of him already, and the band hadn't left the basement. Common sticks suddenly became tools to create a musical pulse. Sure, Lucid was laughable, having to learn everything (or perhaps relearn?) from holding the sticks to reading music, but he wanted to get better and not let the band down. Everyone deserved to march to the beat of an adequate drum.

Pulling Champion’s saddle off the rack, Lucid clicked away to himself while his six legged stead snorted and turned his head slightly for a better view. He had to be wondering what on earth the noise his human was making meant. A loss of sanity perhaps? But sane rider or not, the horse was ready to have a good run since he spend too much time in the stables now that Lucid had a job. He understood when Lucid wiped the reigns, and he charged forward, filling Ditto Town with his the sound of his distinct canter that could only be created with two extra hooves.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby starkat » Jul 10, 2010 7:04 am

Katherine had wrapped up her visit with Emily and dropped in at the Inn Between to see Boo-Kay when the first twinges of a headache hit. It was not bad at first so she swallowed one of the pills she had gotten from the doctor in Manhattan and continued on, but as the day went on it got worse.

This was the first time that a headache had struck since she had returned home and Katherine had hoped that they had faded again. She let out a soft sigh and schooled her features so that no one passing by would be able to see anything in her face.
_____________

Hugh was on his way back to the Pub from the post office when he bumped into the Ditto Rider. “Katherine! Welcome home!”

“Thanks Hugh. It is great to be back.” Katherine was genuinely pleased to see the hologram, but the desire to find a place to hide and wait out the pain was getting stronger. “How is the Cup and Platter?”

“Good. Business is constant even without certain townspeople dropping by.” Hugh’s reference to Erik’s habit for stopping in occasionally brought a smile to both of their faces.

Katherine hissed slightly as the pain switched from typical headache pain to coming in waves, “I’m making rounds saying hi to everyone, so I’d better go. I’ll drop into the C and P soon!” She waved and walked away.

Hugh watched as the young woman retreated. “I hope she’s ok. My sensors tell me something is off.”
_____________

Her pain tolerance was very high, but this was pushing her to her limits. Katherine had left Hugh and headed straight into the forest that surrounded the town. Just as it brought her to her knees with tears streaming from her eyes, she stumbled into the tiny blind that had been her destination. It was a small, open area just big enough for a human to watch the town and stay completely hidden. Some of her supplies were still there, but the pain was so intense that it was all the young woman could do to put a small travel pillow up underneath her head.

At this point, she knew that the only thing she could do was wait this out. Gwanuig! Her heart cried out. She wanted her husband, but she knew he was not due back for another two days. Little did she know that even though her bond with her sibling and cousins was gone, her bond with her husband was still intact. Gwanuig could tell that his wife was in pain and he knew what was causing it. Just before Katherine passed out, in her heart she knew that Gwanuig was coming home.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby shastastwin » Jul 28, 2010 10:18 am

Act I Scene III

Christie walked down the streets of Ditto Town, carrying with her the shopping list and several bags laden with her prizes, those things already found in the shops of the town. All that was left was the grocery shopping, and for that she must first visit Torla at the Cup and Platter. Christie had moved in with the healer and her husband, Greya, not long after the two had been married; she occupied the apartment that had been Torla’s during the couple’s engagement. Chase had stayed with them for a while during that period, and Christie though it was fitting that she should fill in some of her brother’s roles while he was gone. Besides, it helped to have other people around. The loneliness stayed away then.

Inside the C&P (as folks called it), Torla was busy cooking up her usual requests and aiding the hologram bartender Hugh in whatever way necessary. Christie waited until there was a brief lull in the ordering of customers’ meals to call, “Torla, do you need anything else?” over the din of the common room.

A quick jerk of the head and a look that said, “I’ll see you at home” were all the woman could give in reply as she took a fresh pan of purple cornbread to a corner booth.

Knowing that it was best to duck out and finish the shopping, Christie left and found what she needed at a couple of produce stands and a small market shop which had opened recently. As she was preparing to walk back to the old house on the edge of Town, a sudden noise and a body being flung simultaneously from the door of the Inn Between stopped her. This was mostly due to the fact that the body nearly took her to the ground with it.

When the two humans had disentangled themselves from each other, Christie realized that the other person in the dirt of Ditto Town’s street was Carl, the Assassin from the School.

“Those who fail to pay the rent are doomed to be booted out!” shouted an irate, tinny voice from inside the Inn.

Carl shrugged his shoulders. “When your employers are scattered to the four winds, you tend not to have money for innkeepers’ pay, bucket-shaped or otherwise.”

Christie heard the words, but they seemed to pass through her, not sinking in or being comprehended. When Carl bent to help Christie collect her dropped packages, she slapped his hands away and snatched them up herself.

“Why are you so wary of me, Christie?”

“Because I don’t care if your did swear to serve my brother, you still worked for that awful man and helped him to do things that shouldn’t be done by anyone, least of all a human being.”

Carl hung his head. “I cannot deny it, and though you will not believe me, I am sorry for the suffering I caused the two of you.” He continued as Christie walked away with her eyes never leaving the Assassin’s face, “You’ll be happy to know I’m leaving Town. With your brother away, I have no reason to stay.”

When she was certain she was no longer in mortal danger from the man, Christie turned and walked swiftly home. She found the house empty. Greya must have been down at the Emporium talking with Erik. She put away the groceries and sank into the couch. Would their family never be free of that accursed School?

“Oh, Chase. Where are you?”
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stardf29 » Aug 05, 2010 5:50 pm



<Pre-Invasion Seg 1>

It was yet another gloomy night for Amelia. Having to deal with everything that was going on was not easy, and as if that was not enough, she had the most terrible headache at that moment.

If only I could just… turn back time somehow, she thought. Maybe to a time before Hannah and I were split…

She sat down on a bench, and saw a young woman, likely in her early 20s, sitting next to her and crying.

"What are you crying about?" Amelia asked, not so much out of concern as just out of curiosity.

The woman looked up. "I… I was rejected," she replied through her tears.

"By a guy?"

"Yes…"

"Well, I'm sure there are other guys out there."

"Yes, but… you see," the woman stammered.

"Huh… you seem to want to let it all out… fine," Amelia said, not particularly caring but not particularly in the mood to do anything else.

"The guy I was rejected by," the woman said, "was one of my best friends. Ever since middle school, we would always hang out together, help each other out in life, give each other advice on love… before I knew it, I had fallen in love with him. After two years of feeling that way, I finally got the courage to tell him… and he told me that he could never feel the same towards me. That he knew me too well to ever go out with me.

"I was heartbroken enough at his saying that… but then, just yesterday, he met this girl… she is easily the most good-looking girl I've seen, much better-looking than I am… and then, just today, I saw them kissing. He's obviously smitten with her… and it's obvious he rejected me because I was too ugly to be his girlfriend."

Amelia took a good look at the woman. "Hmm… well, I'm not one to make people feel good about how they look… but if you ask me, you're definitely prettier than the average female your age. Your friend was probably desensitized to your looks because of how long he's known you."

"Well then… it was stupid for me to fall in love with my best friend."

"Hardly," Amelia said. "Theoretically, it's probably the smartest thing you've ever done in your life: fall in love with a guy who knows you well already, has already cared for you quite a bit, and all things considered, since you've already had a history of being committed to each other, it speaks much for the stability of a relationship, especially after marriage, since at that point, your husband should be your best friend anyways."

"I guess… but he definitely doesn't care about that…"

"Yeah, seems like the kind of guy who's just interested in the rush of romance, however short that lasts. Well, if that's all he wants out of a relationship and he can't see what you, his best friend, is worth, then I'd say he's not worth your time anyways. It's pretty clear that even if he did want to go out with you, he'd just expect you to be pretty and romantic all the time, and would dump you as soon as that's gone."

"He… wouldn't really be like that… would he?"

"As he is now, yeah, he would. But hey, people change, and he might learn his lesson eventually. Still, I wouldn't wait for him. There's no saying for sure if or when that will happen. You have some other good guy friends too, right?"

"Yeah… I guess. And I could always make more such friends…"

"Maybe you could look into one of them."

"Maybe." Over the last couple of minutes, the woman's crying had gradually lessened, and had stopped completely by this point. "I guess you're right. No point in wasting my tears over him. I'll just hang out with my other guy friends and see how they are… I'm sure one of them will turn out even better than him. And if he comes crying back to me later… well, it'd be too late for him. Thanks, young miss… may I ask, what is your name?"

"Amelia," she said.

"Thank you very much, Amelia. My name is Allison. I hope we meet again."

Amelia felt no particular feelings of warmth over helping Allison; she only said what she said because she felt like saying what she wanted to say, and in fact was pretty sure that Allison would get offended at her for her words, but at the same time did not particularly mind that her words helped her instead. After all, it's up to the other person what they want to do, and she sure wasn't going to force anyone any way.

Still, she replied, "You're welcome." After thinking a bit, she asked, "By the way, what is the name of the guy who rejected you? I might feel like giving him a nice smack in the nether regions next time I see him."

Allison laughed, and told Amelia his name. Amelia just went silent for a bit.

"Do you know him?" she asked.

"Maybe. Or maybe I'm just thinking of someone with a similar name. Well, it doesn't matter. Have a good day."

"You too," Allison said as she started to get up and walk away.

It couldn't be him; he's far older than she is, Amelia thought, then watched as Allison walked away.

Or, rather, that was what she was going to do, but Allison was nowhere to be seen.

Huh, strange, Amelia thought. Can she teleport or something?

Amelia also walked away from the park bench. After she had walked some distance, a piece of the bench at its edge broke off.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby starkat » Aug 16, 2010 6:15 pm

A narnianerd/stargazer/Sonny/starkat production

Lianna and Abby were deep in discussion about the surprise wedding shower, when Loren and Cameron arrived at the Emporium. Gently placing Molly in a playpen, the young mother went to the door; Lianna was right behind her. "Loren! How nice to see you again! How is Eliana?" Abby greeted the men with a firm handshake.

"Hello Abby, and Lianna; it's nice to see you both.” Loren returned the handshake as he stepped inside. “My wife is doing well, Abby. She inspires me with her strength, considering she's carrying a child! Please allow me to introduce Cameron. Cameron, this is Abby."

"Pleased to meet you ma'am." Cameron shook the gargoyle's hand without blinking at the fact she was not human.

Cameron's reaction to Abby set Lianna at ease regarding the stranger. When he had come in, she had instantly been on edge with someone unknown in the building. The sense of urgency radiating off of him and Loren also set her off. Somehow, she knew that whatever it was involved her and not Abby.

Loren did not leave her hanging. "Miss Lianna, your sister is at my home with my wife. She needs to speak with you as soon as possible."

Electricity ran up and down Lianna's spine. Their bond may no longer be intact, but she knew that Olivia's unexpected arrival could mean nothing good. "Let's go." She was on her feet and out the door without even saying goodbye.

The men gaped at her dust trail in amazement until Abby's laugh caused them to pick up their jaws off the floor. "Gentlemen, I suggest you hurry after her. Otherwise she'll be halfway to Loren's home before you can get out the door."

Cameron started to say farewell; Abby acknowledged this courtesy with a smile but added, "Please, hurry. I imagine we'll see each other again; besides, my mate will no doubt want to meet you. Right now, there are other, more important things."

Cameron touched the edge of his hat and followed Loren out of the Emporium.

Abby silently watched them go; for a moment she fought the temptation to grab her daughter and race after them. Her light-hearted dismissal of the men only partially masked her unease at the urgency of Loren's message. Olivia’s return would have been known ahead of time if it was a good thing. Then Molly began to whimper and Abby closed the door. They'll tell us if something's seriously wrong, she reassured herself as she picked up her little one.

Neither of the men caught up with Lianna before she reached the front door of Loren and Eliana's home. "LIV!" She followed her instincts to the living room and swept up her sister into her arms.

Olivia groaned, "Shove off, Lia." She had been sound asleep, and as it was the first time she had slept without dreams in weeks, she was grumpy at having to leave that behind. Then what she had said sank in and her tears started again.

Eliana smiled at the sight of the two sisters wrapped up in a hug, and feeling the need for privacy, went out to sweep the porch while awaiting the men. She looked up when she heard their running feet. "Lianna's here already. We should leave them for a few minutes." Loren nodded, and he and Cameron took seats on the porch, panting. The threesome waited in silence, each one reviewing in his mind the events of the day.

About thirty minutes or so had passed, and Eliana had begun tending to her plants when suddenly the peace was broken by an alarmed shriek. "LIV!" Cameron was the first into the living room, and to his astonishment, Olivia was fading from view. Her younger sister was shaking as her sister faded.

Cameron had rarely heard a voice so urgent and desperate as Olivia's was. "Lia, something's pulling me into the time stream. You have to stop this. Someway somehow. Warn the town. We are almost out of time." With that, the older sibling faded completely.

Eliana reached Lianna just as she collapsed and held the girl. Cameron and Loren looked on in shock and horror. Loren sank to the couch and put his hands to his head, trying to comprehend all that had happened this morning. Just what was going to happen next was a mystery to them all.

"Well that's... Classic Ditto Town" Cameron said for the lack of something better to say.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby narnianerd » Aug 18, 2010 11:14 am

A Little Joe production

Not that long ago in a galaxy pretty far away...

The USS United, a class six starship was on a mission, a mission to do what? Well to go where no man had gone before. Of course that was only their primary mission. Currently they were checking up on Sector 10300.

This particular section which had been under going some serious time space distortion and they had been sent to check it out, and put a stop to it if possible, it had already sucked in several spaceships and was wrecking havoc in the system. Little did they know that they were about to fall victim as well.

“Get us out of here Remy!” Kyle yelled at his pilot "We are being sucked in, Captain, it’s over powered the hyper drive” Remy replied “BRACE YOURSELFS MEN!" Kyle yelled the USS United was being pulled into a worm which had formed off of the port bow.

Suddenly the United was not in sector 1030 anymore, in fact they weren’t even in the Milky Way Galaxy anymore. They were in the Ditto Galaxy; weaving in and out of a pile of space junk which was floating in space.

“Cole, find the nearest type I planet” he said to his navigator “Yes Sir” Cole replied to his older brother and began searching the scanners, Kyle leaned over to the intercom and pressed the button “Jimmie, what the status on the warp drive” The engineer replied “The time/space travel messed up the pumps a bit, Capt’n I’ll have e’m up in a jiffy”

“Good, Cole; report” Kyle asked, continuing his run down of the ship “I think, I have one Sir. It’s in the X section of this Galaxy, only a few light-years away” Kyle replied “Well done, Remy take us on the course that Cole has set, our hyperdrive should be up in a few moments until then, Warp five”

A few minutes later Varner walked into the bridge “I was helping Jim with the engine, we are clear for hyperdrive now” Kyle nodded to Remy and quickly the ship took off into the distance in a flash of light.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ryadian » Aug 30, 2010 11:39 am

Ryana remembered very little from the next few days; her rescuers had to tell her everything. Naturally, they took her to the Rescue Center for medical treatment, but there wasn’t really much they could do for her. Physically, there was nothing wrong with either her or Evelyn, other than exhaustion. It’s a good thing that Kevin, as she now knew him, had been there; otherwise, it might have been days before they realized where the problem truly lay.

Surprisingly, a former patient was their best doctor: Mariana. Diana had gone to see her as soon as Evelyn and Ryana were settled into the Rescue Center, to tell her the news. Naturally, Mariana was ready to leave the instant she heard the news; nothing in the world would stop her from seeing her sister, not even her blindness. Much to everyone’s surprise, when she arrived, there was someone else there she knew: Kevin Davis. Unfortunately for the others’ curiosity, Kevin immediately launched into an explanation, repeating every word he’d heard Hasaré say. Of course, nowhere in there was an explanation for the others. Still, no one could complain, since that lead to their solution.

Mariana still had trouble believing Hasaré could… create an artificial bond, let alone cause so much damage with one, but she decided to try her best anyways. And that was when she made a surprising discovery: the bond wasn’t there. It was gone, aside from some side effects. Was it Ryana’s headband, they wondered? Finally, they risked it and briefly removed it… with no change. Hasaré either lied, or didn’t fully understand, how much her “cure” would do. Maybe it was because the bond was already collapsing, maybe the headband really was the cure… but in that time, it had dissipated entirely, and harmlessly.

Still, Mariana insisted on giving them some treatment, insisting that they still “shared some pieces”. In other words, the bond was gone, but some of the connections remained, connections that wouldn’t heal on their own. It took her the better part of two days to finish to her satisfaction, but her diligence was rewarded, when something happened a few minutes later….

~*~*~

Evelyn groaned and set her hand on the side of her head. Her head didn’t hurt anymore, thank goodness, but for some reason, it seemed more…well, full. Later, she felt silly for thinking that, but that was really the only word she could think of to describe it.

However, she didn’t think about it for long, as before she could properly ponder it, she opened her eyes…and for a moment or two, she thought someone was holding a mirror right up to her face. Two eyes that looked almost just like hers stared back at her, bearing a concerned expression. However, as soon as both pairs of eyes could see the other, Evelyn felt hers widen, and the other pair was filled with joy. Two arms wrapped around her, and before Evelyn quite knew what she was doing, she returned the embrace. Somehow, she knew this strange, blue-haired girl that was embracing her, and she knew her quite well. Her heart knew her entirely, but her mind was slow to catch up. However, as soon as the girl cried, “Evelyn, I can’t believe it’s you!”, Evelyn knew.

“M…Mariana!” Evelyn exclaimed, surprising herself with her own words. Her arms tightened around her sister, as if she were her lifeline. Evelyn hadn’t realized it was possible to feel so much joy at once…but it was a good feeling. Finally, they separated, and Evelyn took a good look at her face…only to puzzle herself. “But…but you don’t look any different from my memories. You should be a lot….” Evelyn stopped herself, and tried to keep herself from blushing…and wincing. Just then, many things came back to her…things she’d never been able to remember when working for Hasaré. Now that Hasaré’s manipulation was out of the picture, she knew exactly what facts had been truth, and what had been fiction.

However, before she could question it any further, she heard a groan to her right and a familiar voice comment, “But you don’t look how I remember you, Mariana. Your…your eyes; they’re fine.”

Evelyn turned, and was startled to see Ryana lying on a bed beside her. Her wings were draped lazily over the edges of the bed, and her head was barely lifted, suggesting that she also was still recovering from their recent…misadventure. However, when her eyes fell on Evelyn, the cloth mask made her expression completely unreadable. Just as she was about to assume Ryana was still trying to make up her mind about her, she felt a strong impression that Ryana was pleased to see her awake. A small smile crept along her lips.

Mariana didn’t seem to notice this, as she was too busy answering Ryana’s question: “The disease is gone, Vanessa. I told you; it would last until I resolved my feelings.” She looked at her sister, her eyes shining. “And I just did.”

Phoenix Archer winced at the use of her alias, but relaxed…until she turned and saw they weren’t alone in the room. In addition to her phoenix companions, she saw her mystery rescuer from the night before—Mr. Davis, as Hasaré had called him. The phoenixes were in their human forms, but they were disguising themselves using masks similar to hers. However, thanks to Mariana, the disguises were unneeded; Mr. Davis knew who she was. ‘Ironic.’ Still, she supposed, it wasn’t too horrible; even if Mr. Davis were to meet her alter ego, she wouldn’t mind if he knew who she was. She owed him that much. She shook off this train of thought and asked, “How long were we out?”

“A few days.” Brianna told her. Phoenix Archer’s eyes widened in shock; a few days?! But…how could it have been that long? But no…now that she thought about it, that made sense. It did feel like…it could have been that long. She had been sleeping for an awfully long time….But, wait! Then…what had happened after she had fallen unconscious?! Before she could say anything, however, Brianna read her mind (figuratively, of course) and told her, “Hasaré and her minions are in the jail, safely under the Sherriff’s eye. Took us a while to find a cell for Tanya—or whatever her name is—but I have a feeling she’s not getting out now.”

“Her name is Tasha.” A voice corrected. Phoenix Archer twirled her head to see the source, while Brianna merely shifted her eyes slightly. Mr. Davis finally was making his presence known. “And, thankfully, although they’re both closed-lipped, their men aren’t. We know everything we need to about Hasaré’s operation around Ditto Town, and it should be dust in a few weeks.”

“Good.” Phoenix Archer expected only her voice, and was startled to hear Evelyn’s as well. She turned towards the girl, whose expression clearly showed that all her positive feelings toward Hasaré were completely destroyed. Phoenix Archer turned back to the crowd and asked, “But what about Evelyn and me? Are we—?”

“Completely safe.” Diana assured her. “Mariana here has been hard at work for the last couple of days. The bond between you two is gone.” Really, at that point, all Ryana could do was smile. It was an unbelievable relief to hear those words; she’d suspected it, to some degree, but the assurance that it was over…there was nothing better. She glanced over at Evelyn, and once their eyes locked, Evelyn smiled back. Bond or no, they definitely had a lot to share that no one else there could possibly understand.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stardf29 » Sep 01, 2010 9:16 pm

<Pre-Invasion Seg 2>

Isaac and Nerrha sat inside the garden, looking out at the flower fields. Their conversation first reached into what they had learned earlier that day.

"You really think they might have that power?" Nerrha asked.

"It's not out of the question, if what Amelia relayed to me is true," Isaac said. "She says she met up with an 'Allison' in her late teens or early twenties. I checked the town census archives; the youngest Allison that was in our town, aside from various kids under twelve, is a woman who would be in her late thirties. And she moved away a number of years ago. However, her picture from when she was 21 matches Amelia's description perfectly."

"Weird. So are you saying Amelia somehow has the power to travel through time?"

"Could be. As a rule, we Star Defenders do not mess with time-travel, but that does not rule out the possibility of someone who has the innate power of such... more so if it's involuntary. Though this... could be dangerous. If she, or Hannah if she also has this power, were to inadvertently do something in the past that could change the future... even I don't know what would happen..."

"A split-choice universe?" Nerrha suggested.

"Split-choice?"

"It's something I read about... basically, our choices in themselves form part of the basis of universes, and whenever a person has a choice, there are essentially a number of parallel universes in which the only difference is which choice that person made. Of course, since there is a universe for each choice for each person, there would be a hugely-infinite number of these universes..."

"Oh, I get it. So instead of alternate universes based on physical environmental differences..."

"...they're based on emotional-societal differences. It's a very interesting theory."

"So, if Amelia were to convince someone to make a choice different from that which they made in their actual past, then she'd just split that person into that alternate universe... or maybe... I just thought of something. What if Amelia's power isn't traveling through time, but rather, traveling through these split-choice universes?"

"I never thought of that!" Nerrha exclaimed. "That's definitely a possibility. And now that I think about it... that could explain why there are people after her! Someone must want her power in order to re-do a choice they made in the past. Having that kind of a power is something not many would pass up."

"Hmm... good point there," Isaac replied. "It's great how you're always able to complement my thoughts like that."

"Your thoughts have a habit of complementing mine, as well," Nerrha said, just slightly jarred by the sudden shift of the tone of the conversation. "I guess that just shows how good friends we've become."

"Yeah... I remember when we first met each other, right when we first got recruited into the Star Defenders. I think it'd be an understatement to say we did not get along with each other."

Nerrha nodded, remembering those old days. "It seemed that I was always yelling at you or just being plain cold to you."

"And I would always be yelling back at you. It really wasn't until that mission--the one where we rescued Jennifer and Shannon--that we started to figure out how to work together despite ourselves."

"That was the point when we started to become friends, right?" Nerrha said. "You know... even before then, it's not like I disliked you. I was still feeling resentful about my poison powers, but you would always joke about them as though they were cool... I got annoyed at you for that, but it also made me feel relieved that not everyone saw me as a freak... or, at least, the bad sort of freak."

"Yeah, and even though you were always yelling at me, at least you weren't picking on me like I had been all my life until that point... it felt more like you were my sister speaking her mind about her annoying brother."

"So that's how it is, then," Nerrha laughed. "I'm just like a sister to you, then."

"Back then, yeah," Isaac said. "Not that you aren't now, but... I think over these past years, you've become a lot more than just a regular sister to me. More like... one of those super-close sisters that's also my best friend."

"Somehow we keep coming back to this whole friendship thing," Nerrha mused. "Must have something to do with that, right?"

"Must have been," Isaac said. "Once they saw how we were starting to get along, the Star Defenders wanted us to start battling together, as battle partners. Back then, most of the most effective battle partners were either married couples or siblings, as no one really knew how to optimize a partnership between friends. We somehow agreed to it, and in the process pretty much wrote the book on friendship-based partnerships. In fact, that's how we got selected to become Head Division members."

"That, and how utterly powerful both of us had become," Nerrha added.

Isaac laughed. "I only got that strong because of your help, you know."

"Yeah.. me too."

"Wait, why are we talking about this now?" Isaac asked.

Nerrha just shrugged. "If you don't have anything else to say regarding Amelia's situation, I don't mind just chatting like this."

"No... nothing more there..."

Isaac suddenly fell silent. He could not think of anything more to say. So instead, he just looked over at Nerrha. At times, it felt that simply looking at her reminded him of their times together, of her kindness when kindness was necessary, of her courage and strength of mind at any other time. In this way, what he originally thought was a rather plain-looking female appearance now struck him as amazingly beautiful. He knew now that, inside and out, there was no other girl who could compare to the one who was sitting next to him. He knew that for a while already, but sitting next to her and just looking at her, while his own heart was beating rapidly, only made him all the more aware that he was, indeed, in love with this good friend of his, and had been in love with her for a time even he could not pinpoint the start of.

"Something wrong?" Nerrha asked, wondering why Isaac was so silent, as she turned to look at him.

"Oh, no, nothing's wrong," Isaac said, blushing slightly with a blush that was conveniently concealed by the night. "Just... thinking."

"Do I want to know?"

"Maybe, maybe not."

"What kind of an answer is that?"

"A safe answer."

"You silly," Nerrha said with a laugh. Then, to Isaac's surprise, she put her hands over his, looked into his eyes, and said, "If you'd rather not tell me, that's fine, but you should tell someone. Don't let anything bottle up inside you for too long. You tend to do that a lot, and it worries me a lot."

"Thanks," Isaac said.

The two Star Defenders continued to sit there, with Nerrha's hands over Isaac's, as they looked into each other's eyes. If either of them ever had any doubts that the other did not share their own, deep feelings for the other, those doubts had completely disappeared by that moment. There was no question in either's mind that they loved each other, beyond their love for each other as friends but in no way separate from it.

And had most people been in their shoes, they would have kissed and become a couple right then and there. However, Isaac and Nerrha knew they, unlike others, could not make such a decision lightly. Not only did they have to keep focused on their current mission, but they also both answer to a higher authority, the One who has guided them all this time, no matter how lost they were. They knew that only by His timing could they start a relationship. And they both knew that that time has not arrived yet.

"Nerrha."

"Yes?"

"Don't worry. I'm not going anywhere anytime soon."

"I know."

"I'm... really happy, you know," Isaac said softly. "Just being by your side... makes me happy. So I promise, when the time comes, all the waiting will be worth it... until then, though, will it be enough for me to by your side?"

"Of course," Nerrha said, tears starting to stream down her face. "Of course, that's more than enough. It's just that... even now, I'm scared. Scared that something will drive us apart, or worse... that our relationship isn't what He wants at all. What if we're not supposed to be together? What if our friendship was so important to everything the two of us had worked for, that now that something threatens to replace it..."

"It's okay," Isaac said, pulling the crying Nerrha towards him for an embrace. "I... have those same fears, too. For now, let's just offer our fears to Him... I'm sure He will lead us again, as He had always done before."

Nerrha simply stayed in his embrace, and the two remained silent for what seemed like hours. Finally, like a gentle whisper in the night, Isaac and Nerrha both heard a voice of reassurance:

Be at ease. No matter what happens between you two, the strength of your bond will surely do many good things, for this world, your own, and many other worlds beyond.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby JillPole » Sep 18, 2010 10:56 pm

It was waking up underwater that was a bit terrifying. It only took a second or two to recover and be able to breathe, but that first second was sheer panic.

Adrian surfaced, for the fifth morning in a row, from the river that flowed through Ditto Town- where he hadn’t been when he’d gone to sleep the night before.

He knew, from discussions with Oceana, that time in the water would stall and even reverse aging for their kind, but he preferred conscious swims. This was disconcerting, and Adrian wasn’t disconcerted easily.

When he reached the bank, the merman did something he hadn’t done in five years. He went to see the doctor.

**

Ditto Town’s acquisition of an actual doctor was both more recent than it might be expected for a town of its size and technically less recent than most people knew. Dr. Ivanos had been kicking around in some form or other ever since Cymru returned from Kidron, but his time on the Dittopian StarSeeker had given him a lust for freedom, and upon landing he’d requested only to be activated a few times for special occasions- like the Davies’ wedding, for example- and medical emergencies until Aria had developed a way for him to be completely independent.

It had, for once, been a real challenge for the Tireless Engineer. Between the power requirements and the complexity of the software, her first attempt had been a backpack, which the good doctor had deemed unacceptable. But a peddler passing through Ditto Town one day had been carrying a broken piece of electronics whose potential Aria had spotted, and- to make a long, technically complicated story short- Ivanos was finally free.

The hologram had hung out his shingle near the Apothecary, where Lianna, it should be said, was quite grateful to refer those whose problems surpassed her, the DeLaverocks, and Will’s expertise with chemistry and field medicine.

**

Adrian, meanwhile, found himself opening Ivanos’ door and was surprised to hear a friendly jingle from an overhead bell. The receptionist had him fill out a form, and sit in a comfortable armchair to await the hologram’s attentions. It was…odd. Between the antlered man (whose name appeared to be Bob) sitting at a desk that he (Adrian) had very much expected to be occupied by a pleasant woman of a certain age wearing reading glasses- why he did not know- and the retirement-home chic of the lobby, he wasn’t sure what was a greater contrast with the examining room he entered after just a few minutes.

It was full of white and stainless steel, yet somehow the examining table was warm. It was, in fact, equipment stripped from the Starseeker’s medical bay. Since the ship was no longer flying, Aria felt there was no need for the tech to go to waste.

Ivanos strolled casually into the room, interrupting Adrian’s thoughts, and picked up his chart. It was for the look of the thing; he’d already uploaded all the information he had on Adrian and his species, but he’d learned from long experience that if your patient felt like you were real, they would be more comfortable.

“That is some impressive memory loss,” Ivanos said as he took a seat. “You’ve only got five years in there then?”

“Yes.”

“And the current problem is sleepwalking…and swimming, apparently.”

“Again, yes.” Adrian squirmed a little bit. He wondered, briefly, if Ivanos thought he was some kind of weirdo. And then he had a vision of Bob in the reception area, and remembered that this was Ditto Town.

“I have a couple of medications that are prescribed to humans who sleepwalk, and we can see what they do…but my knowledge of merman biology isn’t quite as extensive. I think we should try though.

“Something else you might want to consider is having someone watch you at night. The biggest concern with sleepwalking is what you might do in your sleep- and frankly, Adrian, if you were anybody else you might have drowned by now.”

“So wait, you’re prescribing a nurse?”

“How about a flatmate? Is there anyone you know who can stay with you at night?”

Adrian considered this.
**

“Luciiiiiiiid.” Adrian was back at work, and had gone into the control room on the power plant side. He was leaning on the back of Lucid’s chair and droning in his ear rather annoyingly.

“Adriaaaaaaaaan,” Lucid replied, matching the merman in tone but not taking his eyes off his work.

“Ok, so weird question, where are you staying?”

“The Inn Between, why?”

“And how do you like dealing with Boo-Kay on a regular basis?”

Lucid shrugged, still not turning around. “He’s ok. It could be worse.”

“Have you considered moving into the Mansion?”

Lucid spun his chair around. “Ok, where exactly is this going?”

**
It is conjectured that one day a Tardis and a spaceship bearing an Infinite Improbability Drive- and running at a probability of approximately 3 billion to 1- collided. Possibly in the Time Vortex. As far as anyone has been able to figure- which, as is only to be expected in such cases, isn’t very far- this is the origin of the Ditto Mansion.

As such, somewhere in its infinite rooms, there is a room that is exactly to one’s specifications. Finding it is a bit difficult, but with a happy combination of faith and ignorance of the space-time distortions that are always present in such a structure, one can usually come reasonably close.

Or in this case, two. It had a huge bedroom, a generously sized living room, and a reasonable kitchen with a huge fridge. Perfect for two bachelor guys who needed to share a room and weren’t overly interested in the finer points of gourmet cuisine. (Though Adrian was thinking of taking it up, as he was for a lot of things.)

“Thanks again for agreeing to this,” Adrian said, dumping the first pile of stuff on the floor. He was just moving down a floor, so he hadn’t put things in actual boxes.

“Yeah, well, hopefully it works out.”

“If not, you know- no hard feelings.”

“Of course.”

“So…ok, will it weird you out if I at some point swap my mattress out for a tank?”

“I…do as you please, I have no real...preferences that way. Other than the fact that if you keep sleepwalking, a tank might mean you make a drippy mess."

Adrian nodded in agreement and satisfaction. He couldn’t guarantee to himself that this was going to be fun, but it should at the very least be interesting.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ryadian » Sep 25, 2010 12:54 pm

Continuation of Ryana's memories. Kevin explains that he's Mariana and Evelyn's cousin, with a human father. Because his abilities are weaker than most other Empaths, he can't detect lies as easily as others--and Hasaré took full advantage of that, extracting vital information from him. When he realized his mistake, he tried to save Evelyn, only to wind up with an ultimatum: help Hasaré, or Evelyn would die.

The rest is history, but there are still unanswered questions. Phoenix Archer decides to get answers straight from Hasaré.


Of course, such unparalleled peace was not to last. “Okay, I hate to break up the touching reunion….” Anna cut in, “but would someone mind filling in a few blanks? The only thing I’ve heard explained was how Hasaré kidnapped Evelyn from her home and, apparently, brainwashed her into her service.” She folded her arms. “Not exactly unusual for Hasaré, but if you don’t mind, I’d still like details.”

Normally, Phoenix Archer expected Brianna to step in and correct Anna’s rudeness, but when glanced at the other two, she realized they agreed. Well… if it had been a few days, that was an understandable feeling. Besides… “I’d like to know a few things myself.” She admitted. Glancing at the mysterious Mr. Davis, she continued, “For instance, how do you fit into all this? No offense, but I’ve never seen you before.”

“I’ve been trying to figure that out, too.” Evelyn scanned him carefully, taking in every detail. “I thought you were just one of her men, but… even before you saved us, I thought there was something… different about you….” Suddenly, Evelyn gasped and her eyes flew wide. “Kevin… Kevin, it’s you!”

“Kevin” smiled dryly. “Hello, Evelyn. I was wondering if you’d ever remember.” He stepped up to her bed, and into her waiting arms. As the hug continued, Evelyn’s broad smile remained, but Kevin’s expression fell. “But… to be honest, I almost wish you didn’t.” He turned away and admitted, “I was hoping no one else would remember what I did.”

Even Mariana seemed surprised by that, but Evelyn understood. She turned his head back, and forced him to look in her eyes as she stated, “I don’t know if you mean before or after my capture, but either way, you’re guilty of nothing more than being deceived. We all fell for Hasaré’s tricks; even Phoenix Archer did.” Suddenly, Evelyn seemed to realize what she was saying—out loud—and quickly turned to her “roommate”. “Err… no offense.”

Phoenix Archer smiled lopsidedly. “None taken; I have to agree.” The girls had been right; walking into that ambush was a bad idea. She was lucky—blessed—things turned out all right in the end.

Mariana wasn’t so casual. “What you did? What do you mean, Kevin?” Suddenly, her arms started to fold across her chest. “Come to think of it, I haven’t heard much explanation from you at all. If you found Evelyn first, then why didn’t you come back a lot sooner?”

“Mariana?” The older girl seemed surprised at the interruption, but listened to Evelyn anyways. “I can explain, but first… I think it’s only fair we make sure everyone’s on the same page.” Smiling dryly and glancing at the phoenixes and archer, she pointed out, “I’d prefer to only go through this once.”

Mariana nodded; that made sense. No objections were raised, so Evelyn began, “Well, first off, I’m going to assume Mariana told you that we’re sisters.” The others nodded. “Okay, I thought so. So, now for the complicated part: did she tell you that Kevin is our cousin?”

A few surprised expressions later, Diana shook her head and commented, “Nope, that’s new by us.”

“And that’s not all.” She glanced at Kevin, almost as if looking for confirmation… and, after a moment or two, she received it. “You see, his mother is our father’s sister, an Empath. His father is a normal human. He’s an Empath, but his abilities are… significantly weaker than ours.”

Phoenix Archer gave a small nod. “I’m familiar with the concept.” Slight understatement.

“You see… the reason I’m telling you this is….” Evelyn sighed quietly. “For the most part, my people have a pretty good idea of who we can trust, and who we can’t. For a non-telepath to lie to us, and for us to not immediately detect it… it’s unthinkable.” She grimaced as she admitted, “That’s why we were so easily fooled by the so-called ‘Natalie Caron’.”

Phoenix Archer nodded. “Believe me, Hasaré knows how to evade telepathy; anything short of a deep scan. It probably took every trick in her arsenal, but I can believe she could fool you.” Dryly, she realized it was her turn to pass the phrase around again: “No offense.”

“Yes, I’m sure she did.” Kevin agreed, but his tone was much less… amused. “But there was one final step she took: she made sure to spend most of her time with someone who had almost no chance of discovering her ruse.” Kevin looked away and sullenly admitted, “Someone who, she realized, was fascinated with the outside human world… and who was willing to believe she was just a curious world traveler, and had all kinds of amazing stories to tell.”

He let out a quiet breath. “She took full advantage of my human side. Convinced me she was a friend—a good friend. A few of us were suspicious of her—I thought they were just paranoid, and couldn’t understand humans. Not like I did.” He buried his face in his hand. “That’s why I didn’t think twice about inviting ‘Natalie’ to a town meeting, to find out more about our way of life. She told me she couldn’t come; she was getting ready to leave. I wish.”

Evelyn took it up from there: “She knew that almost everyone in the village would be there… except me. I thought it was incredibly boring and convinced my parents to let me stay home. The next thing I knew, there were three men in my house, and they dragged me off to ‘Natalie’. I found out the truth shortly after that.”

Phoenix Archer spent a moment thinking it over. “So… did Hasaré target you, specifically, or were you just in the wrong place at the wrong time?”

Evelyn shrugged. “I don’t know for sure. I… I think there was some reason she singled me out, but….” She shook her head. “I don’t remember. My memories after that are… muddled.”

Kevin nodded. “She never told me, either… and I wasn’t in a position to ask.”

“Yeah, that reminds me,” Anna piped up, “how did you end up here? Mariana didn’t mention you at all, so I assume you didn’t come with her, and… I got the impression Hasaré’s men—and what’s-her-face—knew you.”

Kevin nodded glumly. “They did. I was working with Hasaré for a little while.” No, that wasn’t a shock or anything…. “I knew it was her right away, so I went after her. I… I don’t know what I was thinking. I didn’t want to tell anyone what I’d done, and… I was hoping I could reason with her, and if not, I’d expose her.” He shook his head. “I really should’ve known better. Her response? She ‘needed a good teacher for Evelyn’. So, if I stayed and helped Hasaré with her plans, she’d take good care of Evelyn. If I ever left to get help, she’d kill her.” He hung his head in shame. “I guess she planned to do that either way.”

“Kevin, I said it before and I’ll say it again: Hasaré used you.” Evelyn repeated. “Yeah, maybe you should’ve told someone the truth, but… I mean, otherwise, you did the right thing. You can’t blame yourself for all this.”

Mariana set her hand on his shoulder. “She’s right, Kevin. The only ones to blame are Hasaré and her cohorts.”

“And believe me, she will answer for what she’s done.” Phoenix Archer slowly started pulling herself up, and set one foot on the ground. “And she’s going to start by giving me some answers.”

Well, that certainly inspired some action. Brianna stepped forward and cautioned, “Wait a minute, you’re in no con—”

“Mariana just said I’m fine mentally, I’ve been resting for days so I’m clearly physically all right, and if it’s that big a concern, you can find me a ride to the jail. I’m just going to talk to her.”

Kevin shot her an incredulous look. “No one at the Sheriff’s office has gotten a word out of her yet. No offense, but why do you expect her to talk to you?”

“Trust me, she’ll start singing like a bird. Let’s just say I know ways to make her talk.” With that, Phoenix Archer stood, collected her weapons and cape, and walked out of the room. For a moment, it looked like some might follow, but they eventually came to the same conclusion: this was something she had to do alone.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ryadian » Sep 25, 2010 9:32 pm

Part 1 of 3. Summaries will appear at the end of the segments.

Phoenix Archer let out a deep sigh as the wind flew past her face. Even if she was unconscious for most of it, she really felt like she had been bedridden for days. But now that she was flying again, bit by bit, that all seemed to wear away, and the stiffness faded. It was just what the doctor ordered… well, except for the fact that her doctor probably wouldn’t approve.

After a few minutes, though, her wings started to remind her that they weren’t in the best shape to support her weight for so long. They started to ache badly, and Phoenix Archer was just beginning to think about landing. Thankfully, the Ditto Town Jail slid into view just before she began to regret this.

She landed, wrapping her wings around her shoulders, and started adjusting her weapons. She wasn’t entirely sure why she brought them at all; maybe just because she was comfortable with them, or… maybe because they made her feel less vulnerable. Not that what she feared was a physical threat. Phoenix Archer reached to pull up her cloak’s hood, but stopped as soon as she felt the cloth. ‘Why bother?’ She decided. ‘There’s no need to hide. I don’t have to play by her rules.’ She stepped towards the door, took one last calming breath, and opened the door.

When she arrived, Phoenix Archer discovered Hasaré was already settled into her isolated cell. Ironically, Ryana noted, it was the same one where she had questioned “Max”—back when this whole mess began. Things had changed since then. As soon as she rounded the corner, Hasaré glanced up… and upon seeing her, her eyes widened in intrigued surprise. Ryana slid into the seat, keeping a steady eye on Hasaré through the glass. Of course, she returned the favor. For a moment or two, neither said a word.

Finally, Hasaré broke the silence: “So, you did survive, after all. I was beginning to think otherwise. Or, maybe you just didn’t want to see me.” With a sadistic smile, she commented, “I wonder why that might be….”

“Your ‘cure’ was a little more effective than you thought.” Ryana pointed out. She was fighting her sharp tongue, but at least it wasn’t showing. “That, with a little help from Mariana, was enough to cure us both.”

At the name, Hasaré spat something venomous under her breath. “Meddlesome brat. I was hoping she would contract the illness and finally get out of my way.”

“She did. Blindness wasn’t enough to stop her, just slow her down. She’s capable of one thing you’ll never understand.” Ryana doubted she’d ever experienced that kind of love before, and she knew she couldn’t feel it. But this was a distraction; she shook it off. “Look, I’m not here for another verbal sparring match. I’m here for answers, and you’re going to give them to me.”

Hasaré cocked an eyebrow at that. “Oh, I am?” She must’ve noticed Ryana’s sudden cold glare, unless she was planning to do this all along. “Well, I suppose I owe you that much. I wouldn’t want to put your mind under too much pressure trying to figure it out.” Ryana was glad her mask disguised the smirk; oh yes, typical Hasaré. Did she hope the low blow would catch her off guard? She was sadly mistaken. Either way, the blonde rested her elbows on the table, and her chin in her folded hands. “So, what do you want to know?”

Ryana had already long-since decided the most important question: “Why did you pick Evelyn? Why did you do all this?”

“It’s quite simple, really; with all the telepaths running amok, especially in this town—and especially you—I wanted a contingency plan. I was hoping to find allies among the Empaths, but took on an alias just in case.” She barely contained her scoff. “It was a wise decision. They couldn’t be bothered with our cause; had they known, I imagine I would’ve been driven out long before then.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised. It was hard enough for you to convince a phoenix your cause was noble.” Hasaré fixed her in a subdued glare, but she ignored it. “So it didn’t work out. Why did you keep trying, then? Why maintain the charade?”

“Because of Mr. Davis.” Now, she settled back into her strangely confident exterior, with a smirk to match. “I’m sure he’s told you the whole story by now. Oh, he was so gullible, and just made things so easy.” Even she couldn’t contain a dark chuckle at that. “He was so intrigued by a human visitor—and it wasn’t hard to get him talking. His description of the potential applications of his people’s Empathy….” She just shook her head and smiled all the more wickedly. “In the right hands, it could be made to do any number of things, including getting some needed information… or making it a little easier to persuade a stubborn warrior that I have the right idea.”

Ryana restrained herself from taking the bait. “But why Evelyn? Why did you single her out?

“For one thing, she was the most… accessible, shall we say. Especially for an Empath, she was a little bit of a loner, in a lot of respects… not unlike someone else I know. But the other reason, quite simply, was because of her training. She had just enough to have manageable powers… but unlike her sister, and half the other people in that village, she was still a little… flexible. I could still make her do what I wanted.

“From there, I though the hard part would be to capture Evelyn without raising the alarm. Actually, that was quite simple, compared to trying to hold her.” For once, her half-amused exterior actually cracked, and Ryana thought she saw…well, whatever Hasaré remembered, it wasn’t pleasant. “But an angry Empath, who has no reservations about what she does to her guards…can cause problems.”

“Let me guess: psychological warfare is a little easier when you can manipulate your opponent’s emotions… literally. So, she gave you a taste of your own medicine.” Ryana promised herself she’d refrain from too many ripostes, but considering how long she’d dealt with this woman… it felt good to get a couple zingers out.

Hasaré actually smiled, if only barely, at that. “I suppose I should have expected that. I suppose my previous experiences with telepaths left me… ill-prepared for this.”


Phoenix Archer visits Hasaré in jail. Hasaré humors her questions and explains why she picked Evelyn: because Kevin, inadvertantly, gave her ideas about how to use an Empath's abilities... and Evelyn was the prime candidate for Hasaré's purposes. Continued next post.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ryadian » Sep 25, 2010 9:42 pm

Part 2 of 3. Summaries will appear at the end of the segments.

“Fine, I understand that much. But if she gave you so much trouble… then how did you get her to work for you? And where did that bond come from?”

“I’m glad you asked those questions together; believe it or not, they’re related.” Ryana’s glare made it clear she wanted a straight answer, not Hasaré’s commentary. “I don’t know what you know about Empathy, so I’ll start at the beginning. Empaths have to learn to… detach themselves from their subconscious mind, as well as their own emotions, to use their abilities properly; after all, it’d be hard to focus on another’s feelings if you’re distracted by your own.” All right, that made sense so far; Mariana said something similar, when she was describing her blindness. “Kevin described this to me in one of our conversations, and it intrigued me. If Evelyn was able to separate her conscious thoughts from the rest of her mind… could I access her subconscious?”

It kind of scared Ryana, but she actually had an idea where this was going…. “Her subconscious… including her memories?”

Hasaré seemed almost impressed by her deduction. “Exactly. It took several tries, as well as just about every telepath and scientist working for me, but we managed to do it. From there, it was just a matter of removing the right memories, altering a few more… and suddenly, she wouldn’t think twice about serving me completely.”

“And what does that have to do with the bond?”

“Ryana, were you listening? Removing the right memories. It’s nigh impossible to actually remove a memory, especially from a telepath. The only thing I could hope to do was block her access to them, but without risking her powers eventually uncovering the real ones.” She gave an all-too-casual shrug. “I needed, essentially, to store them somewhere. Somewhere with its own defenses against telepathy. Somewhere… like, perhaps, another telepath’s mind; one strong enough to hold her own barriers, but weak enough not to realize a foreign presence.” With an almost gleeful smile, she locked eyes with Ryana, just as the latter began to realize what she meant. “Someone who, conveniently, was already my captive, and who needed a little motivation to cooperate.”

Ryana was standing before she realized she’d moved. “You did WHAT to my mind?!”

Hasaré seemed to pretend she didn’t hear her. “You know, quite honestly, I prefer the analogy one of my scientists offered. After we gave you a sedative—one strong enough to knock down even your telepathic barriers—we left you, alone, with Evelyn. When we triggered the procedure, there was nowhere else for Evelyn to direct her powers—just you. Without your… ‘firewalls’, so to speak, your mind had no problem downloading all that information and storing it away somewhere. But after you woke up again, your barriers re-engaged, preventing Evelyn’s powers from merely undoing the whole thing with a thought.” She nodded. “Yes, I do prefer the computer analogy; it makes things so much—”

“So, that’s what you did before you let me go? You used me as a… a… a vault?” Ryana really couldn’t think of a better word to describe it. As it was, she could hardly believe what she was hearing. She tried to think of a controlled response, but ended up blurting out, “And then you just let me go?!” Not quite the incensed response she wanted to give, but that bit of illogic did stand out….

“I was still hoping you’d lead me to the crystals. I knew your barriers were far weaker than Evelyn’s powers; eventually, she’d find you, and be able to get the information, with or without your help. When things went too far, then I planned to pull the plug… but until then,” She shrugged, “I was hoping to find that out first. Even if you were working for me, that didn’t necessarily mean you’d tell me where they were.”

Ryana couldn’t take it anymore; she was so casual, so… apathetic! All of this agony, over a couple of crystals and… and a petty feud…! She turned away, trying so hard not to scream… but otherwise, she didn’t care what she did. She was just too infuriated to try.

Finally, after a few would-be calming breaths (which turned into frantic gasps), she found the composure to speak again. Slowly, she turned around again, and tried to understand: “Why? Why have you spent half your life hunting me? Why… why do you do all of this just for me?”

Hasaré scoffed. “How much are you assuming I did to find you? Finding you in Ditto Town was an accident; you just happened to be here. But, to be honest, it really wasn’t that hard to figure out.” She scoffed again, and her voice bordered on incredulous. “‘Phoenix Archer’? Really? ‘Ryana’, a romanticized variant of ‘Archer’, and ‘Armaya’, the feminine form for ‘phoenix’? What kind of ‘secret identity’ is your real name?” Ryana had to admit… there was no excuse for that. Apparently, that kind of tribute to her real identity… not exactly the wisest choice she’d ever made.


Hasaré explains how she managed to brainwash Evelyn. Essentially, she "removed" all of Evelyn's real memories, and later replaced them with false ones. However, actually erasing a memory is virtually impossible, so she ended up storing them somewhere "safe": just behind Phoenix Archer's telepathic barriers. But since Evelyn's powers tried to, essentially, get it back, the bond was created.

Ryana is infuriated by what Hasaré did to both her and Evelyn, and demands to know the reason. Hasaré starts to explain that, really, that wasn't her overarching goal. More next post.

(Point of trivia: We find out "Phoenix Archer" is really Ryana's name translated, and reversed. "Ryana Armaya" is, roughly, "Archer Phoenix" from the phoenix language.)
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ryadian » Sep 25, 2010 10:02 pm

Part 3 of 3. Summaries will appear at the end of the segments.

Hasaré saw her audience wasn’t going to defend herself, so she let her tone calm down, and continued, “But… as much as my search for you was a… byproduct of my real goals, I’d long-since promised myself I’d convert you if I could. Call it a hobby, if you really must. After all, your turning would be of invaluable—”

“Surely you could’ve found a better weapon,” Ryana half-hissed, “certainly better than someone who will never, ever willingly participate in the genocide of another species. In case you haven’t noticed in your travels, not all vampires are like the ones we have back home… and even if they were, you still haven’t convinced me it’d ever be right. This is not self-defense; it’s cold-blooded murder.”

Hasaré waited patiently, though not exactly amusedly, for her to stop. “I know, Ryana; I’ve given up trying to convince you on that front. After all, vampire hunting is far from my only goal nowadays.” That, Ryana had to admit, was news; startled, she actually turned to face her head-on, and started listening again. “But even so, that’s not what I was going to say. I was going to say… your turning would be of invaluable worth to Mother.”

That… was a shock. Phoenix Archer half-slid, half-fell back into her seat. “To be honest, after we found out we couldn’t clone you, your value to our cause lessened considerably. You would’ve been very helpful, yes, but not on the scale we originally thought.” Hasaré shook her head. “But that wasn’t the point. She wanted you, Ryana; she was incomplete without you.”

Ryana had finally regained her composure…and no small portion of her anger. “And that, somehow, justifies this? That you’re doing this in her name? Hasaré, everything I hate about you, you learned from Tharos.”

Hasaré sighed in irritation. “Could you at least call her by her real name?”

“That is her real name. She gave up the right to any other name a long time ago.”

“‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’” One glare told her that the quip was not appreciated, so Hasaré threw up her hands in defeat. “All right, fine, call her what you want. But I still say you’re wrong.” She folded her arms across her chest and pointed out, “I think I can safely assume one of those things you ‘hate about me’ is the fact that I, quite honestly, don’t care.” She shrugged nonchalantly. “I have my own ambitions, and whoever happens to come in the way… well, that’s just business. There’s no need to justify it when I don’t care what’s right or wrong.”

“Well, for once, I think we can agree on something.”

But… deny it all you want, but you know I didn’t inherit that from my mother. I thought she was wasting her time, but she was determined only to take ‘necessary’ measures.” She scoffed slightly. “I know you think I’m incapable of receiving or understanding love, let alone feeling it, but you forget that she was my mother. She’s the one person in the world I know loved me.”

Hasaré must’ve seen Ryana’s eyes roll slightly; she was losing her audience. “And she’s the only person in this world I care about. And for her sake, Ryana, please believe me… just this once.” Surprisingly, Phoenix Archer couldn’t doubt… her sincerity. She nodded, acknowledging that she was listening. “Whatever her original intentions for marrying your father, it wasn’t all just a calculated risk. And it wasn’t all a lie.” Oh no… it was really going there. The one place Phoenix Archer wasn’t prepared to go. She tried, but… she couldn’t look Hasaré in the eye, and slowly turned away. Regardless, the other woman finished her statement: “You know that, right? From the moment you were born… she really did love you.”

Phoenix Archer barely, just barely, let out a soft sigh. Slowly, she opened her eyes. “I know.” That...was all there was to say. Despite what she wanted to say, or believe, she knew Hasaré had probably spoken the one good thing she still could.

Ryana turned back towards Hasaré, as she rose to her feet. “But I think visiting hours are up. I’m sure the Sheriff can take care of this from here….” Sardonically, she added, “Unless there’s another little town that owes you a fair trial.”

“Oh, I’m sure. I’m also sure you have things to take care of, so just do me one favor?” Phoenix Archer stopped; she was listening. Hasaré leaned back, head resting in one hand, as she evenly requested, “When you see Evelyn, or whoever else you’ll see… be sure to tell her it was nothing personal. Just business.”

“I’m sure.” Phoenix Archer turned and headed towards the door. Just as she reached the corner, however, she stopped. She glanced over her shoulder, barely catching Hasaré in her peripheral vision. “Wait. There's...just one more thing.” Despite herself, Ryana knew there was no hiding her feelings now. She let out a quiet sigh, then just said it: “Where… is she now?”

Hasaré shook her head. “I don’t know; we’ve been separated for years. The last I heard from her….” She shook her head again. “She might be dead.” A satisfying answer? No… but, at the same time, yes. For the first time in years, Phoenix Archer actually cared where she was… and not in an effort to stay far, far away. Maybe something good came from this mess after all. Phoenix Archer continued forward, leaving Hasaré behind.

Phoenix Archer stepped out the front door, back into the sweet Dittopian air. She unfurled her wings and felt the wind for a good updraft. Just as her thoughts turned to flight, however, she realized something… there was one last thing she wanted to do. At first, she hesitated, but… the more she thought about it, the more she decided she liked the idea. She reached behind her neck, untied her mask, and let it fall into her hand. It felt so strange at first, but it only took a moment for her to smile instead. “There’s no need to hide any more.”

This time, Ryana’s flight was far different than it had been any other time in Ditto Town. She felt an exhilaration far beyond anything she’d experienced before. She took the time to spin around, race as high as she could go, and enjoy all of the tricks and excitements most humans only dream of. And, most importantly of all, she absolutely did not care who saw her, mask or no mask. For the first time, everyone—including her—would see her true colors.

Ryana had never felt so free.


Hasaré admits that her attempts to convert--by force or otherwise--Ryana were for personal reasons: her mother, "Tharos" (now solidly identified as an alias). Apparently, the original idea was to use Phoenix Archer, basically, as a weapon... against vampires. However, when it turned out they couldn't clone her (or otherwise use her DNA), Hasaré realized she wasn't as valuable as they thought... but Tharos still wanted her to "join" them. In her own words, the only person Hasaré cares about is her mother, so she was willing to continue the search in her mother's name.

We also find out the reason why Tharos cared: because she's also Ryana's mother. Again, for her mother's sake, Hasaré forced Ryana to recognize that Tharos really did love her, despite what she did. Ryana has heard all she needs, and leaves Hasaré's fate up to the Sheriff. Before she leaves, she asks where her mother is; Hasaré doesn't know.

As she leaves the jail, Ryana makes one last decision. Before flying home, Ryana takes off her mask, deciding the time for hiding is over.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby JillPole » Sep 26, 2010 8:40 pm

Portia stared at the man she was apparently supposed to call “Bernie”, nonplussed. “The ‘Network’? Could you get any vaguer?”

Bernie laughed. “Believe it or not, it’s been done. I think we’re about on par with most other covert…organizations around here.” He chuckled into his mug as he said it, as if at an inside joke.

“Covert in what way?” Portia leaned forward. How deep was this rabbit hole, and what part did Sarah play in all of this?

Bernie looked at her seriously, though his eyes were twinkling. “Covert in *every* way, Miss Rizzo.”

**

A week later, on a windy and rainy night, an old Triumph Herald rolled into and through Ditto Town, passing up all the warm golden lights for the dark and dripping forest road. It came to a stop at the end of the gravel near the gates of the Compound, windshield wipers squeaking as they struggled in vain to make the night more transparent.

A female figure in a long coat and a broad-brimmed fedora alighted, and pounded on the gate with her fist. A crack of light appeared, and the woman cried out, then composed herself, and stepped inside.

Portia squinted at the floodlights illuminating the courtyard and making the raindrops sparkle. Then she squinted back at the person who had opened the door. He was unmistakably a gnome, and he was walking determinedly away to find “the Boss”- the person she’d been told to ask for.

She stared, blinked, and stared again, but the gnome waved a hand and said “Come on, then.”

Why this boss would even be here this late at night was beyond her. What kind of place was this?

Portia followed the gnome inside, and walked along a corridor until she was opposite the windows of a brightly lit cleanroom. A person was standing inside, shrouded in a white paper suit that made whoever it was look like a snowman. The gnome knocked, and the person turned around, eyes widening in surprise and apparent pleasure when he? She? It? There was a gnome, how could you be sure of anything? saw Portia.

This was nothing, however, compared to the surprise Portia had when the figure went behind a screen for a few minutes, and came out the other side of the airlock as Sarah!

“Portia!” Sarah came quickly over and wrapped her in a hug. “It’s been too long.”

To her great surprise, Portia found her eyes welling up. “I…it’s so great to see you too, Sarah,” she said into her friend’s shoulder. It was an overwhelming relief just to see a familiar face. Between the interviews, meetings, and near-outright interrogations, the last few days had been arduous, and she had so few answers. Seeing Sarah’s face, seeing that she hadn’t been forgotten, gave Portia hope.

“Oh yes. Sarah. Right. Um…there’s a lot we should discuss. Why don’t you come home with me tonight? I’ve had enough for one evening. This thing is being more trouble than I expected.”

“Oh, yeah, sure. Do you have an extra bed?”

“Yes, of course. By the way, that is a fantastic hat.”

“Thanks! So…hey, are you still doing engineering?” The question was a polite nothing. Why else had Sarah been in a cleanroom?

“Yes, actually…yourself?”

“Well, I was…but that’s sort of a long story.”

“It’s probably shorter than you think,” Sarah said, then turned to the gnome. “Thanks Twiddlethumbs. I’m done here for the night. Can you have Jerome on duty in here tonight?”

The gnome nodded, ducked into a small hole in the wall, and disappeared.

As Sarah led her away, Portia glanced back over her shoulder. “So what was that you were working on?”

“An EMP device. I have…some bug problems.”
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