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  | Asymmetry | Role-Playing | Villains & Vigilantes | The Revolution | Revolutionary War | Shattering Heaven |





    "Trust me, I know the feeling. Glad you're here now. Everybody, this is Chandler Prentice. Trust me, if anybody knows what shit went down, it's him, so everybody just shut up and listen." He surrendered the floor.
    Chandler looked around and started explaining. "At some point fifty years ago a Coven group attempted to take over the world somewhere in upstate Maine by making the heir to two separate sorcerous bloodlines the focal point to all of the energy flowing through the Daemongrid. They were blocked in doing this fifty years ago, but apparently this selfsame heir fifty years later managed to rewrite time and reality somehow to make sure that the heroes didn't succeed in stopping her, thus initiating her fifty-year reign in a parallel reality, a Twilight bubble dimension. The circumstances in Maine were such that the Twilight was already rubbing against reality at that point; we've seen this sort of thing happen before. There's a floating Mayan subcontinent that keeps rubbing up against Los Angeles, for example.
    "Apparently circumstances converged in such a fashion as to break her hold on it. I know that the Host and the Detroit Warriors—they send their regards by the way—did what they could on this end in order to reclose the Daemongrid inside, rationalizing that once they knew what was going on, or at least that this Gretchen woman was responsible for it, that she would have reopened the grid within that portal of reality. She must have been spending a hellacious amount of energy to maintain its opening, because that's an unnatural state of being. All they had to do was break her connection to it and close it, and hopefully that did something to assist you in your assault on her."
    "It's weird, it's like we made two assaults." Talon's brow furrowed. "Something went on, I'm not sure what."
    That got the mage's attention. "You say she made two assaults?"
    "We did. Like we went into the tower twice. But we only went once. When I was going in I could remember doing it before, like deja vu."
    "This happened to you as well?" He looked at Scott.
    "Yes." It wasn't doing his circuits any favors either. "Two parallel sets of memories with the same timestamps."
    "And... no, it's too much to hope for," he murmured.
    "Where do you think Dawn is?" Talon asked.
    "What's the last thing you saw?"
    "It looked like she rewrote reality the same way it was when she rewrote it for Gretchen, except she rewrote it back. She re-rewrote it."
    "She undid the original rewrite."
    "Mostly," Scott noted.
    "Certain things seem to have changed?"
    "Like the giant castle on our island."
    "Some things appear to have carried over from this bubble," Eve noted.
    Such as the box of gems Scott produced. "Hey, Larry."
    Talon smacked his own forehead. "Dude! From the dungeon!"
    "And not without value," Larry noted, wincing as his voice cracked and glaring at Felix's smirk.
    Talon kept on feeling his forehead. There was nothing there, at least nothing obvious. He felt like there should be something, but.... "Looks like the Eye is gone. Xyrgoth is here, we met Xyrgoth.... So shouldn't Da'an be around here, too?"
    Scott was still puzzled by a few things. "She was trying to destroy Sutha. I'm not sure if she managed to actually get Sutha or not, that was a little hard to tell. Then she tried to rewrite the world again... wait a minute, that's what that damned doubling has to be, she was trying to do it to us at the end before we killed her finally, she was trying to rewrite the assault a third time. And that's when Dawn broke free and said, Uh, no."
    "Could be," Talon nodded.
    "And then Dawn did... what? She rewrote reality and...?" Chandler prodded.
    "I managed, using the Eye, I gave Dawn, I don't know how it worked—" Everyone looked puzzled. Eye? "Okay, we had to go fight this, this six-armed snake-woman daemon-bitch who was guarding this—"
    "It was an artifact of Da'an," Scott summed up for him.
    "So I had it, and that's what we needed to defeat Gretchen, and it kinda worked, well no it didn't, it helped. Eventually what happened was, I touched Dawn, Dawn broke free of her control and just did what Dawn would do. And when she was finished doing what she did, Gretchen wasn't around no more."
    "And neither was Dawn? Okay." Chandler nodded, apparently reaching some conclusion.
    "Or anyone who wasn't standing too close to us," Scott noted. "Mr. Prime was standing right next to us, but the lady in the peacock armor was standing too far away, I guess, and she's not here."
    "And Thunderbolt and Needle are gone, we don't know where they are. Or if they are," Talon concluded sadly.
    "She might have just killed them," Chandler said. "Obliterated them in such a fashion as to make sure they couldn't be here to come back."
    There was silence for a while.
    To break it, "I've been called a big gorilla before, but this is ridiculous," Powerhouse said to Adam, who gave him a highly quizzical look. "You know this guy?" he asked Eve.
    "Adam Prime? Of course." She performed introductions.
    Reilly sighed. "So we don't know... Needle and Thunderbolt are dead, is what you're telling me, and there's no one we can possibly arrest because your daughter already caused them to cease to exist?"
    "Welcome to the Weird Shit, Reilly. You know, sometimes that's the way it goes down," Talon nodded grimly.
    "Well, I suppose you can arrest Odin if we can ever find him again," Scott pointed out conscientiously. "Of course the last time we saw him Sleipnir was doing his level best to kill him."
    "And that son of a bitch Blaise," Talon added.
    "Unfortunately, Fimbulwinter was working against her."
    "Yeah, he had his own kingdom, with dragons! But Gretchen double-crossed him, and that worked to our advantage. And you were there, too," he added to Privateer, who nodded.
    "Yeah, I remember the island."
    "And the worm-thing."
    "And I remember dying," he said flatly.
    "Oh yeah."
    "That wasn't good."
    "Nah, we took care of it."
    "Well, it probably hurt and all," Scott pointed out.
    "It more than stung!"
    "Hey, Gretchen ripped my hand off in the last fight, then tried to turn it into a daemon. I got better."
    "You can take that 'try' off there, she was quite successful in turning it into a daemon," Scott recalled.
    "It's been a hell of a couple of weeks, let me tell you," Phoenix Talon summed up.
    Reilly left, trying to figure out how to put this into a report.
    "Poltergeists," Eve suggested.
    Alien invasion, Adam added.
    As the group broke up, Rick came over to Talon. "Hey. She uh... she said goodbye."
    "She left you a note?"
    "No. I didn't want to say this in front of everybody else. I went into the room where we'd been watching her, and I realized that she was gone, and I went to look again, and she was there. And she said goodbye."
    "Just now? Before you came over?"
    "Yeah." He was making a manful effort to look stoic.
    "Did she say where she was going?"
    "She said she had something she had to do."
    "Well, look at this way, pal. For one thing, last time I saw you here, you were kind of bleeding profusely and going the way of all flesh."
    "I know. I remember."
    "And for another thing..." He sighed, looked at the window. "At least we know she's out there somewhere."
    "I'm going to find her," Rick said quietly.
    Phoenix Talon shook his head sharply. "No. Rick, Rick, this is costume shit. It's not like she went to Hoboken."
    "I wasn't going to start looking there."
    "There's different dimensions, different planets.... How are you gonna start?"
    "I don't know."
    "Trust me. We gotta talk, but there are things right here in Boston that are a lot more important than you gallivanting after her."
    "And what are you gonna do?" Rick challenged.
    "I'll talk to you about it later, I got something I gotta do."
    "That's the same thing she said to me. Where are you going?"
    * * *
    A couple of teenagers in a small Connecticut town who not all that long ago had been gnollish soldiers were wondering what had happened.
    "Wow, that was weird!"
    "You remember that, too?"
    "I... I remember... I remember being a wolf," he whispered. "Yeah.... They let us go. There was a big fight and they killed everyone else, and let us go. We were supposed to tell somebody, and we...."
    "We ran away. If we told them they were gonna kill us."
    "Nobody's gonna believe this shit."
    That's where you're wrong. I believe you, said the marilith.
    * * *
    When Talon went looking for Rick to finish their talk, he was gone. So were Stu and Stan, the three of them gone in quest of their angel. He wished them well.
    Then he had to talk to Candy, which was... uncomfortable. He wanted her to know that it really was him—his issues, not hers—that meant things had to be, well, put on hold for a while at least. But she was freaked out just having him around, after everything that had happened. And he had to go, that much was clear, and she felt like she should feel guilty about that, but instead just felt relieved. So in the end they agreed that when he got back they would talk. Maybe.
    His flight was arranged; he was going back to Japan. But he had some time to kill, so he walked along the sea edge for a while, thinking about the Eye of Da'an. How weird it was to have the eye of god, and how he was getting a bit tired of gods. And while he thought, he noticed that it was a bit dark, and began unconsciously radiating light. And realized as he took inner inventory that all of the blocks were gone from his mind. Phoenix Talon had been reborn again.
    Before sunrise he was on a plane.
    * * *
    The next thing I knew, I was falling. I think I screamed, in surprise as much as anything else. There were other voices doing the same thing, and then we all hit the ground.
    "Ow," said someone.
    We disentangled and stood up out of the small impact crater.
    "What just happened?" Stephanie asked in a dazed voice. "We were..."
    I looked around wildly to see what was about to try to kill us—it seemed a good bet that there would be something. But it looked like we were in a quiet countryside, a field or something, with woods around and a small lake.
    Then something came out of the trees. It was humanoid, broadly built and stocky, and it glowed electric blue. It saw us, and stopped.
    "Is it just me or does he look hostile?" Stephanie asked with a bit of a quiver in her voice.
    I wasn't too sure myself. I noted that I seemed to be fine physically, albeit bruised from the fall, a bit over-adrenalized, and suffering from a killer headache. And contrary to most of my recent memories, I appeared to be human. Well, variant. Not a goddamned elf, at any rate.
    The blue thing made a low noise that might have been speech, or just an aggravated groan. It was radiating an enormous amount of energy, I noted. I took a step forward and raised my hands placatingly.
    "Look, Mr. Glowing Blue Thing, we just got here, we don't want to cause any trouble."
    It grunted, turned, and strode back into the woods.
    "Thank you. Probably gone to get friends. Where the fuck are we?!" I asked plaintively, looking around.
    No one answered, but something large passed overhead. It was not, to my vague surprise, a dragon, although it was carrying enough armaments to make it roughly as dangerous. I've never seen anything like it, and it did not reassure. Another parallel reality? Another planet?
    I don't know what's happened to everybody else. I was definitely supposed to be dead and I'm not (I think), so I'll keep hoping that they aren't, either. Right now I would like nothing better than to see that silly blaze-orange costume and hear Scott pronounce some wild and probably correct theory about what's going on. But it looks like right now, it's just me, Paul, and a woman who was a cat an hour ago.

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© 2003 Rebecca J. Stevenson