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The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8  

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Ryadian
(@ryadian)
Member Moderator

Fate

Suddenly, something appeared just a little ways away. It was a… girl, and two… Phoenix Archer almost shook her head, to snap herself out of it. They looked like dragons, but… very, very small dragons. The girl, despite her sudden appearance, didn’t seem at all disoriented—she was more fixated on the scene in front of her. Maybe her imagination was playing tricks on her, but Phoenix Archer had a feeling the girl knew the boy.

Regardless, the bomber also noticed her appearance—and was distracted. This was just the moment she needed. “Kid, duck!” Thankfully, his instincts were faster than his fear; the boy had just enough room to pull himself down and away from the blade, and too little time to think about how his captor might react. Meanwhile, Ryana glared straight into the man’s eyes, focusing as hard as she could. Since her encounter with Evelyn, her telepathy had been really… unpredictable, to put it mildly. For the most part, that meant she couldn’t use it when she wanted, and it would occasionally flare unpredictably. But she had discovered one advantage, if only that one, and she planned to use it now.

She made contact with the man’s mind, and flooded it with one, consuming emotion: Fear. Suddenly, the man stood completely still, petrified by some unknown terror. It would only take a few seconds for his mind to realize that he was, in fact, fine, but Ryana would only need a few seconds. She twisted the knife out of his hand, caught it with her other hand, and threw it safely away from her and the boy. The man’s mind cleared, just in time for her to punch him solidly in the face, knocking him to the ground.

Understandably, the former hostage backed away a few feet as the “fight” concluded; at the same time, the mysteriously-appearing girl and her two… dragons had rushed forward to meet him. The girl, Phoenix Archer thought, looked vaguely familiar, like someone she’d seen around town before. The boy—well, the only thing she saw about him now was that he was older than she’d given him credit for. Actually, he was probably pretty close to her age….

In the meanwhile, Phoenix Archer was still pinning the bomber to the ground, and he was starting to reorient himself. “Someone, get my daggers, quick!” She kind of hated breaking up the reunion, but… she really needed them, before their friend had any ideas about getting back up.

The young man apparently remembered where she’d dropped them, and rushed over to get them. As he came back, he couldn’t help but ask, “Couldn’t you just, I mean, use his?”

“Not what I need it for.” She reached up and grabbed her blue one, and pointed it at the man’s legs. Ice started appearing around them, firmly securing them to the ground. A few seconds later, his hands and torso were similarly bound. Now that that crisis was averted, she more calmly retrieved her fire dagger, and re-sheathed them both. “That oughta hold him—until help arrives.” For a brief moment, she wondered where said help was, but—she glanced off towards the main part of town. From the smoke, she guessed that the Emporium hadn’t been the man’s only target—but she’d guess it was the one that had the biggest bang.

Only now did Ryana finally let herself pant for breath. She turned to the other two, specifically the young man. Oh… yeah. Priorities. “Are… are you all right?”

He nodded, and both he and the girl looked relieved. “Yeah, I think so. Thanks. Um, I’m Alex, by the way. And… this is my sister, Erica.”

Ryana nodded. “I’m Phoenix Archer. Err, Ryana.” She shook her head a bit; old habits die hard.

Erica, meanwhile, had other priorities: “What’s going on? Who is this guy—what happened??”

“I don’t really know myself. All I know is he’s Organization, and he blew up the Emporium—and I think there were more bombs.”

The man scoffed mockingly. “You might say that.” She probably should’ve ignored that, but she decided to kick him anyways.

“Look, last I heard, there were people in the Emporium. I’ll keep this guy occupied; you two need to look for any survivors.” Thankfully, she said the last word fast enough that she didn’t have to think about it.

The two nodded and complied, and Ryana turned back to her captive. She stood over him, glaring down, and she left her hands unmistakably on her dagger hilts. “Now, why don’t you tell me about who you are, and what the Organization is up to….”

-------------------------------------------

Scream

Phoenix Archer wasn’t even going to question where the two women and the… dragon creatures… had come from. This was Ditto Town; things like this happened. Besides, there were other things to deal with. Right now, she had an armed and apparently trigger-happy woman to deal with, not to mention a burning town, and answers which had died with the bomber.

But, something else took priority. The young man—Alex, she assumed—was still clutching his throat, and she saw some blood seeping between his fingers. However, since he was able to yell at this “Sarah Johnson”, it probably wasn’t deadly… she hoped. Still, she had to make sure. “Are you all right?”

--

Kirane was awake now. Truth be told, she’d probably been conscious for a while, but… that kind of consciousness could hardly be called lucid. She could feel heat all around her, and now that her head was clearing, she could see the still-burning flames. At least they were smaller now than in the initial blast, and too far away to do her much harm right now. She had a few burns here and there, but all things considered—she was lucky.

Kirane started lifting herself up, only to feel a sharp pain run through her leg. She groaned in pain, before turning to see the cause. A beam had fallen on her leg, pinning it to the ground. She was guessing that her leg was probably broken, but all she could think was, ‘At least it was just my leg…’

She sat up as best as she could and reached as close to the beam as she could. She started disintegrating the material as best as she could, cutting through it in a straight line, almost like a laser would. After a minute or so, the part on her leg was severed from the rest, and it was small enough to shove off. Well, she was no longer trapped—now there was the question of getting out through all the flames.

N-Web sis of stardf, _Rillian_, & jerenda
Proud to be Sirya the Madcap Siren

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Posted : December 22, 2012 8:35 am
stargazer
(@stargazer)
Member Moderator

It was well past midnight now and the Emporium was quiet, save for the fire crackling in the great hearth. Abby had enjoyed entertaining friends earlier in the evening, secretly relieved to hear their stories of strange events, for it meant she wasn’t going crazy or imagining things.

She had no idea if Erik’s many-worlds/alternate realities explanation was correct, and she wondered if the day’s weird experience was the last she’d see of these bizarre other worlds, but for now she was content to rest in the quiet and comfort of the evening and reflect on all she had to be grateful for.

Molly was cradled in her lap, sleeping peacefully; next to her Erik gazed at the fireplace, mesmerized by the dancing flames. He stretched an arm across Abby’s shoulders; with her free hand she reached up and took hold of his.

Yes, life was good. She had good friends here, and her family was healthy and happy.

*****

The night was old now, and Abby was alone with her family. She’d enjoyed entertaining guests earlier and had been thrilled to share the news that she was expecting another hatchling the following winter. She loved being a mother to Max and all could see Erik loved being a dad.

Even now he was running around the Emporium, holding his son above his head, pretending Max was flying. The otherwise quiet night was punctuated with their laughter.

Good friends and happy family. What more could she ask for?

*****

Dusk fell on the forests outside of Ditto Town, and once again Abby and her daughter woke for the evening. Tending to Molly was her first order of business, and once that was done Abby began making her way toward the ground, gingerly and tentatively at first, until she confirmed her injured leg and tail were indeed healthy enough for the journey to town.

It had rained during the day and turned much cooler; by the time she stood on the ground both mother and child were drenched and miserable. Molly began trembling and then sneezed; a little sound that was cute but nevertheless sent an unwelcome shiver down Abby’s spine.

At least my leg and tail seem okay, but is Molly getting sick? It wasn’t like a gargoyle to be affected by a little cold weather, and she couldn’t bear the thought that Molly might be coming down with some kind of illness. It was bad enough that she’d almost lost her unborn hatchling.

Cold, wet, and shivering, she turned toward town, longing for those now-lost nights by a warm fire with Erik by her side.

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Posted : January 11, 2013 5:57 am
stargazer
(@stargazer)
Member Moderator

“C’mon, Grandpa, you can’t end it there.”

“Yeah, what happens next? What happens to Max?”

“And you said you’d tell us what Mom was like when she was our age.”

Erik looked down at the two little girls cuddled next to him, one on each side. They were all sitting on the large flat stargazing ledge that offered an awesome view of Jackson Lake to the east, but right now he had eyes only for the twins. They grow up so fast, he thought to himself; in his mind’s eye and in his stories Molly was just a tiny hatchling, but in truth she was all grown up now, with a mate and these wonderful children of her own.

He and Abby missed their oldest hatchling of course; after she’d chosen Emory as her mate the pair had relocated to Big Bend, but they were proud of her and glad she was so happy. The younger couple had been thrilled to learn, several years before, that they were going to have twins, and the excited grandparents always enjoyed their visits and having young hatchlings around once more.

It had been only a few weeks earlier when an excited Molly found out she and her mate had been invited to visit the London clan. The twins were too young for such a trip, and since they had been begging for another visit to their grandparents, the Grand Teton clan seemed the natural choice for the girls in their parents’ absence. And it was no secret Erik and Abby loved doting on the pair.

While not quite identical in appearance, it took a practiced eye to tell the twins apart. Both had their mother’s jade-green skin and their father’s rust-red wings. Their hair was jet-black, like many of their ancestors.

Their personalities, however, were very different. The older hatchling, Bethany, was boisterous and exuberant while the other, Bailey – who had hatched only minutes after her sister – was quiet and reserved. Rather like Molly and Lily, Erik thought to himself.

That older rambunctious twin began trying to tickle him in the ribs, eager for the next chapter in his tale. Luckily for Erik, in her excitement she’d forgotten he wasn’t ticklish there. Bailey, however, realized her sister’s error and began climbing over him, soon finding the sensitive spot at the tip of his tail.

“Stop, stop,” he begged, doing what little he could against the onslaught.

“Well?” Bethany asked, eager for the answer to her question. “What was Mom like at our age?”

“I guess I did get a little carried away,” Erik conceded.

“Can you tell us now?” Bailey’s soft voice was accompanied by big pleading eyes.

Erik gestured, and his grandchildren followed his gaze out across the lake to where the eastern sky was bright with twilight. “Actually, I do have to stop now. It’s almost time for you to sleep.”

“Aw, do we have to?”

Erik grinned; they sounded like any human child reluctant to go to bed for the night. “I’m afraid so. Now why don’t you go say good night to your Grandma Abby and Auntie Lily?”

“Shouldn’t that be ‘good day,’ Grandpa?”

“You’re right, Bailey,” Erik said with a chuckle. “I guess it’s another human expression we’ve picked up.”

“Can you tell us more about Ditto Town tonight?”

Erik had worried that his talk about other dimensions and such would bore the little girls to tears, but they looked up at him with puppy-dog eyes anyway.

“You know your grandpa,” came a new voice from behind them. “Never turns down a chance to tell a story.”

“Grandma!” the twins chorused, running toward Abby as she emerged from the cave.

Erik rose to his feet and took in the sight of his grandchildren hugging his mate. “I bet there will be more stories tonight,” he said in answer to their inquiry. “And if we’re lucky, I’ll be able to talk Auntie Lily into making some of her famous chocolate chip cookies.” Of course this wouldn’t be a problem; his baby girl loved spoiling her sister’s kids with such treats.

The girls squealed in delight; like everyone else in the family they loved chocolate. They clung to their grandmother and Erik joined them in the embrace. For a few moments they watched the sky brighten with the approaching dawn. Yes, there will be more stories, Erik thought, before leading them back into the Mount Moran eyrie the clan called home.

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Posted : March 31, 2014 8:45 pm
Ryadian
(@ryadian)
Member Moderator

(Author’s note: This takes place the day after the talk at the Emporium, after the split timeline has come to our characters’ attention.)

Prime

When Ryana woke up the next morning, she was almost surprised that she didn’t have a headache. All that talk of quantum physics and string theory and other techno-babble she didn’t understand the night before… ugh. No. She wouldn’t remind herself about it; she would wake up first, before even considering diving back into that.

Ryana got up, and started heading into the kitchen. Almost as soon as her door was open, though, she heard the sound of nails scratching against the floor, and Shadow came racing over. She smiled and scratched the top of his head, before guiding him to the back door, and out into the fenced area she’d set up for him. Since she basically lived on the outskirts of the woods, the fence actually covered a lot of area; Shadow had plenty of room to run around. It was a nice enough day; she left the door standing open, just in case he decided to come back in. Meanwhile, though, she had breakfast to think of. Eggs and bacon sounded good today.

As she started getting the necessary ingredients out of the fridge, she glanced at the table, where her laptop computer perpetually sat. With a sigh, she opened it up, and clicked on the only icon she ever used—her Messages. The only reason she had this computer was that Brianna, back when she still lived there, insisted that it would be an efficient way to find and organize information—including, any news, or messages that Ryana might get from the PATROL. Thankfully, Brianna—being much more technologically inclined—had set it up before she left, so all Ryana had to do was open the thing up from time to time.

Ryana let her computer work, but in the meanwhile, she wanted her breakfast first. It wasn’t until after that was ready that she went back at her computer and looked at it. Hmm, there was a mention of some unusual incidents the night before. Ryana opened that message and scanned it between bites. Apparently, several people reported a power outage last night, starting about 1 AM and ending just before 3. It was mostly homes that experienced the loss, though the power went out for a couple of minutes at the Sheriff’s office, before the backup generators kicked in. From all appearances, this was just a glitch in the system, and one easily fixed. Still, Ryana remembered the last time that Ditto Town had a blackout; it had been more than just a glitch. She resolved to check it out, just in case.

As soon as she’d finished eating breakfast, Ryana got up and started collecting her dag-gers—less conspicuous than her bow, but she was still armed. As she did, she heard a yawn, and glanced up in time to see Kirane coming in. Oh, right—she had a roommate again. That was going to take some getting used to. “Good morning. Sorry; I had breakfast without you. I… got used to living by myself.”

“No, that’s fine.” Kirane assured her. “I’ll figure something out.” She glanced at Ryana. “Are you heading out?”

Ryana nodded. “Into town, to check something out. Probably nothing; I’ll tell you more about it when I get back.” Kirane nodded, and Ryana set out for town.

N-Web sis of stardf, _Rillian_, & jerenda
Proud to be Sirya the Madcap Siren

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Posted : May 31, 2014 9:51 am
Ryadian
(@ryadian)
Member Moderator

The first order of business, Ryana decided, was to visit the Sheriff’s office. After all, the power had gone out there for a little while; if this outage was intentional, then maybe the jail was the target. Considering the kind of people they had in that jail, a jail break would not be good. She decided to walk, though, rather than fly; she didn’t feel like drawing that kind of attention to herself when, frankly, she wasn’t even sure yet that this was worth her time.

Just as she entered the town proper, and saw various people walking by, she noticed one man in particular—someone walking vaguely in her direction, though clearly not directly towards her. As soon as she caught sight of his face, she felt a sudden outpouring of strong, strong emotion. She was hit with the sudden urge to tackle the man to the ground and punch him in the face—several times. It wasn’t just a sudden surge of rage—she had the strong feeling that he was dangerous. Most of all, he seemed somehow familiar to her, though she knew she’d never seen the man before in her life. It was almost like seeing a face out of some vaguely-remembered dream… or nightmare.

Ryana did her best to shake it off—at least, to avoid staring at him or following through on her instincts. He didn’t even seem to notice her. For those seconds as they drew closer to each other, Ryana debated what to do. On the one hand, this was hardly the first time she’d felt strong emotions which turned out to be… well, not baseless, but certainly not rooted in her reality. Given that her mind and telepathic abilities were still recovering from their “scarring”, she couldn’t always really trust any feelings she had, unless it was rooted in fact. On the other hand… something about this man really bothered her. What if her feelings were right—what if there was some reason to suspect this man?

As he got closer, Ryana stopped, and started frantically looking around herself, almost as if she were looking for something, and realizing she’d forgotten it. The man’s eyes passed over her, and he seemed vaguely aware of what she was doing. Good—now he thought she had a reason for suddenly turning around. Keeping a safe distance from him, Ryana eased her way into the same direction. Unfortunately for her, it quickly became clear that he was heading out of town, possibly into the woods—it’d be hard to justify following him that far out. Ryana debated using her communicator and telling the PATROL, but… what, exactly, had she really seen?

Suddenly, the man took a sudden right turn, right behind a house. Ryana immediately turned in front of the house, and as quickly as she could, made it to the other side. From there, she crept around the corner as stealthily as she could, but quickly; she didn’t want to lose him. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late; by the time she should’ve been able to see him again, he was gone.

For a few seconds, Ryana debated extending her wings and getting an aerial view; there wasn’t much cover, and she could’ve easily spotted him, at the cost of being easily spotted herself. In the end, though, she decided against it; for all she knew, he entered the house, and he was just a normal man going home. Ryana did her best to shake off all her apparent paranoia, and headed back into town to finish what she started. She knew the image of the man’s face wouldn’t be leaving her mind any time soon, but for now, she was going to ignore it.

Meanwhile, hidden a few yards away was the man, carefully watching as the red-haired woman started walking away. How in the world had she made him so fast?! There’s no way she remembered him from—no, he must have just done something to attract attention to himself. Or maybe this town kept better records than he thought. Regardless, though, he needed to get back before anyone else caught on to him.

N-Web sis of stardf, _Rillian_, & jerenda
Proud to be Sirya the Madcap Siren

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Posted : May 31, 2014 9:51 am
stargazer
(@stargazer)
Member Moderator

Erik stood at the entrance to the Emporium and looked skyward; their guests had left sometime earlier and now he was alone with his thoughts. He shivered, and even the beautiful starlit sky above offered little comfort. It wasn’t that he was cold; it was Abby’s experience that chilled his soul. Here he stood, near the spot which had upset her so. And no wonder! It was, to borrow the human expression, a little like walking over his own grave.

Talk of the multiverse, Einstein-Rosen bridges, string theory and all the rest was fine in a theoretical sense or when enjoying fiction, but this was his family and friends. This was reality, and it was all rather hard to swallow.

Since his awakening at dusk, Abby had seemed reluctant to be far from him or from Molly, and considering the tale she had to tell, that was quite understandable. He had trouble wrapping his mind around the idea that she’d seen him shattered into a million pieces.

He could hear her soft voice behind him, humming a Celtic-flavored lullaby to their baby. Despite lots of attention from their guests, Molly had eventually drifted off to sleep during the evening’s discussion. Apparently theoretical physics couldn’t hold her attention just yet.

He glanced up at the sky once again, offering a silent prayer of gratitude for his healthy family, and then turned to go in.

Several things happened all at once. First the lights went out. This was unusual as the power grid was quite reliable, but still it was only an inconvenience for such nocturnal creatures. Then Abby called his name. Her day had been bad enough and he had dared hope it was all over.

He easily navigated the short distance to Molly’s nursery despite the darkness.

“We’re okay. Sorry, I was just surprised when the lights went out,” Abby explained.

What a relief! Erik felt the tension leave him. Abby was fine, her eyes glowing in the darkness. Molly slumbered in her crib.

But wait! What was that?

“I’ll be right back,” he said, turning to leave. “I need to check the door.” Abby shuddered at this and he mentally kicked himself for his unintended reminder of her experience.

More déjà vu. Abby’s nightmarish tale had begun with an open front door. In his excitement he’d failed to lock it, and now he was sure he’d heard footsteps out in the hallway.

He closed the nursery door and crept out into the main room. The darkness now was his ally, unless the intruder had night vision as well. He did what he always did to make himself more imposing and threatening: he unfurled his wings and lashed his tail, but he resisted the instinct to make his eyes glow and give away his advantage.

By now the emergency generator had come on, restoring the lights. He continued his search, just to make sure.

But…nothing.

“Just paranoid,” he muttered to himself as he secured the building’s two entrances. “Abby’s intruder story has got to me.”

He returned to his family. All seemed well – but he couldn’t shake the feeling that he’d missed something.

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Posted : June 2, 2014 9:25 am
Boo Kay Bucket
(@boo-kay-bucket)
Member Ditto Town Host

Inky let out a long sigh - at least, as well as an inkwell can sigh. The surface of the ink rippled as a sound echoed in the bottle, the quill twitching from side to side in thought. That was it. That was the last of the archive. All this research, scrambling together various documents from various places - and even times! - trying to compile a record of how this story ended. Where was Rochil to update the Town Archives? Where was anyone?!

"Inky?" Inky's quill straightened, before wheeling around to face the source of the tinny voice. Boo-kay stood at the entrance to the cave, and his exterior had taken on a strange sheen. Distant cousin or not, Inky could see that Boo-kay was concerned, and doing a bad job of hiding it.

"Boo-kay! How did you get all the way out here?"

"As it turns out, there are a lot of rather smart animals around this town. Some of them better mannered than the people around here, too, and were quite willing to give me a ride. I decided it's been too long since we've visited."

Inky nodded. "I... don't suppose you've heard anything more about what's been going on around the town?"

Boo-kay scoffed, a sound which reverberated in his empty sides for several seconds. "Do you think anyone ever tells me what's going on? I haven't had any new visitors in quite some time, if that's what you're asking."

"I was more hoping you'd seen some familiar faces." Inky turned back to the last few words again, hoping they would make a bit more sense this time. "It doesn't seem right to end the story here. But this is the last document where all the stories agree. And with no one to tell me how it really ends... all I can do now is speculate. And I would never record mere speculation."

"Of course not. You have standards. But I think there's more that's bothering you."

Inky "sighed" again. It would be nice to have unreadable expressions - one would think being a bottle would be enough for that! "I wish I could know the end of the story. Where they all are now, who triumphed and how.... It would be nice to at least say goodbye."

"Now look here, Inkwell D. Transcribe, I would have thought you knew better than this. No matter what happened, that was never going to be the end. I know you don't exaggerate, so these men and women were facing true end of the world nonsense - and dragging it all into our town, I might add, but that is beside the point. The fact that we are still here, with our without answers, speaks to the fact that they must have succeeded. We may never know how, but I think we can say that we owe them all our lives."

Inky's drooping feather straightened a bit at the mention of that. Boo-kay seemed the least likely source of comfort the world, but there was no denying that his methods were effective when he wanted. Boo-kay's voice softened as he concluded, "So, if life goes on... then I believe you have a job to do, chronicling the new adventures that happen during our new lease on life. Wouldn't you agree?"

"Yes, yes... I suppose you're right."

"Well, then I propose you come out and see a bit of it. You've been in these dusty archives for too long. At least take a quick jaunt outdoors with me, won't you?"

"That does sound wonderful." Inky leapt from the table and joined Boo-kay on the floor. As they made their way out of the cave and into the open air, the wind in the air and the fields of flowers couldn't help but bring a vivid image to Inky's mind, scrawled on the page so long ago. A songstress in a field was moments away from a revelation, one which would begin the first of many adventures. There was a song on her lips, a song which seemed strangely appropriate at this moment.

Due to Inky's hermitage and Boo-kay's crotchety reputation, it wasn't well known that members of their family were actually very accomplished singers, what with their excellent acoustics. And once Inky began to hum the first few notes, Boo-kay could not help but join in. And so, passersby were treated to the strange but lovely chorus echoing through the fields.

Oh Danny boy the pipes the pipes are calling
From glen to glen and down the mountain side
The summer's gone and all the flowers dying
'Tis you 'tis you must go and I must bide

Dittos to all.

Pay up or move out!

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Posted : December 17, 2017 5:15 pm
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