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Parallels

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10 months 3 weeks ago - 10 months 1 week ago #67213 by JulesMorrison
JulesMorrison created the topic: Parallels
Author note: this story is markdown formatted, but it should just read okay as plain text. I'm happy to have any feedback , but the essence of this story is simply play, self indulgence in fantasy, and authoring practise. This story has intense on camera sex scenes starting in part three. Canon characters have been treated with as much authenticity and gentleness as I can manage. Yes, the crush is real. :-P And yes, I know nothing much happens in part 1, it's deliberately in the mould of the earliest intro stories. More suspenseful things happen later!

# Parallels

## A non-canon unashamedly self-insert Mary-so-sue-me Whateley Academy tale

### Part one

**Somewhere, some-when**

I've been running a fever all afternoon and the bus home from work is making me want to puke, with its lurching turns and stop-go. I'm dizzy, my coat's done all the way up and I'm still shivering but I know I'm burning up. There's only a short way to go, now, until I'm at my stop. Not sure if I should drag myself home on foot or call an ambulance, I can hardly think. I press the button, ding. Thank god, we've finally quit lurching. Stepping out of the bus, dizzy and stumbling, my feet have no strength, I trip over nothing at all - this is going to hurt, I think in a detached way - and I'm falling *through* the floor, face down into deep powder snow and darkness. That makes no sense. There shouldn't be any snow here, it's only autumn. I'm on fire but I'm freezing, the cold is a shock and a relief but it feels like it isn't even enough. I'm melting down into the snow. Memory rising of a YouTube where someone dropped a red hot cannonball onto a cube of ice. I'm dying. Can't think. Black.

---

**2nd January, 2007, Whateley**

Waking up is slow. It's white, then light, then ceiling. It's being unable to move anything except my eyes, then gradually being able to turn my head, then able to twitch and curl fingers. Eyes close, exhausted, sleep.

Awake again, and I can move a little, someone's here bustling about, I try to focus. Blue jumpsuit? Nurse scrubs. Am I in hospital? I try to say something. Doesn't really work, but I make a noise.

"Ah, awake, dear?"

She checks my temperature and blood pressure, and slowly spoon-feeds me some soup. After a bit I sleep again.

I'm sitting up on the edge of a bed, different room, gothic aesthetic, witchy glyphs on the walls, which are made of some dark stone. Definitely dreaming. Someone's here, sat beside me.

I gradually realise I know her. Not by sight exactly, but by description. Sara Waite, from the Whateley stories, she's stunningly beautiful but in a darkly gothic way, blood red hair, black lips, smoky eyes, unmarred marble-white skin, black fingertip claws, pointed elven ears. I've seen pictures, but the dream of her is so much more real and wonderful. "Hi Sara! What are you doing in my dream?"

"I thought you recognized me!" She looks intrigued. "So who are you?"

"Jules, I think?" I say. Looking down at myself. My body looks like that of a teenage girl in one of those gross butt-flashing hospital gowns. Boobs jut out in an unaccustomed way. "I don't normally look like this, even in my dreams. Normally I'm just trans and frustrated." I'm babbling, no inhibitions here. "You look like, well, like I would imagine you if I had an imagination that worked."

"Nice to meet, you, Jules. Imagination? You don't think I'm real?" She doesn't sound in the least put out, rather, it's an interesting puzzle, and boy is she curious.

"Whateley's fictional", I say.

"Ah." She looks at me like she's listening to something. "You genuinely mean that, you read about me, and a lot of the others. Well, well, how interesting! This would put the cat among the pigeons at the physics department... but, no. Your head is full of a whole lot of things that could get you in trouble with some very dangerous people. I can't allow that. I'll seal it off for now, but in exchange, I'll take you in hand a bit. Because yes, I see that crush. You really wanted to start the cult of Kellith over there? How sweet of you. And thank you for the warning. Alright, this won't take a minute."

---

White. Awake again. I can sit up, with effort. The nurse isn't there, but there's a panel by the bed with a buzzer, so I press. Soon enough, a different, male nurse in scrubs pops in.

"Hi there, kid. Welcome to the world of the living."

"What happened to me?" I remember a fall.

"If it's okay, I'll let the doctor talk about that. What should I call you?"

I'm awake enough to notice the careful phrasing there. "Jules, I am pretty sure I had a last name but I don't remember it. Honestly, I'm not remembering much." Something is weird about my voice.

"Nice to meet you, Jules. Okay, I won't be a moment, and then I'll call the doc in." After a brief check of temperature and blood pressure, he leaves.

The doctor is a woman, brunette, with shoulder length curls and a medical white coat. "Good morning, Jules. I'm doctor Jennings. You're looking much better today. How do you feel?"

"Weak. Ridiculously hungry", I admit. "And confused. I have a memory that feels like it was blown full of holes. Only flashes. What happened?"

"This might be emotionally heavy going, are you sure you want to know now?"

I take stock. "Yeah, hit me."

"Alright. You were found, last night, by one of our students, in the remains of a snowdrift which you had melted, due to a rather nasty case of mutant burnout. You were weak to the point of coma, and suffering from the effects of full body regeneration. We think you may have actually died, briefly. The damage was extensive enough that your body effectively threw away what previously existed and rebuilt from your BIT up." That was pronounced bee-eye-tea. "You are in the Doyle Medical Complex in Whateley Academy, now."

"I thought regenerators bounced back quickly?" Another unconnected snippet from my Swiss cheese brain.

"Not if they've spent absolutely every scrap of the body's resources. Not, also, if they've rebuilt so completely." She then explains how a brain that rebuilds itself, often loses information. So I might have gaps in memory, gaps in skills, perhaps even very ordinary things. I'd have to take physio and classes to re-learn them.

"That might explain how my voice sounds so weird."

That confuses her. "Your voice sounds normal. Do you consent to a psychic scan, to see if you have wires crossed?" I nod.

It takes her a minute, and although she tries for professional calm I can see confusion, then a dawning understanding.

"Your previous form was adult and male, from the deeper voice and heavier shape your mind is half expecting." I had a twinge of horrified rejection of the idea of being male. Clearly she caught it. "And very trans, going by that reaction. So your BIT has rebuilt you to fit who you felt like inside, as female. And probably much younger, physically." She pauses again. "Another bombshell, if you're up for it?"

"Do it."

"We had to look at you quite thoroughly when you were brought in. I say female, but... your body now is what we call a bilateral hermaphrodite. You have both male and female parts, although the testes are internal, the scan we did shows they exist alongside ovaries. Both sides appear fully developed, we didn't exactly poke and pry, but you'll need to have a proper examination soon."

Well that's a bombshell and a half. Shows I'm out of it, too, that I didn't notice straight away. "Somehow that works for me."

She nods. "Alright, I'm going to recommend a big meal, some more rest, and then we can see if you are feeling good enough to walk around."

She isn't kidding about a big meal. I manage to eat two extra large burgers and a heap of fries that the nurse brings me. Plus ice cream dessert. Damned if I know how it all fits in this small body. I take the time to examine myself in the mirror in the toilets, and I look maybe fifteen, slim and a bit athletic, small boobs, somewhat square face but with a pointed chin, light silver grey eyes. Hairless as a doll, right now, I presume that was destroyed in the burn. Not quite entirely unrecognizable, going by what sets off a kind of amnesiac deja vu, but perhaps my previous self's hot teen sister. I haven't tried to play with the new equipment yet, too tired anyhow. Heh, fun for later. Back to bed with me.

To sleep, perchance to dream? I'm back in Sara's room, and my memories are back too. "Damn that's no fun, being locked out of my own head", I know I'm whingeing but it's frustrating. "Am I going to diverge from myself?"

Sara looks apologetic. "Probably a little. It's only until I can teach you a solid mind shield. Then I'll let it trickle back, so you can integrate it."

I nod, glumly. "I guess it's going to help me have the authentic kid experience. And you were just in time, that doc would have sniffed it out."

"And I don't trust a random adult not to run to admin and tell all in an unsecured room, from which it would be on the CIA director's desk in minutes." Sara nods her agreement. "Close thing, but you've had a few of those. I'm beginning to suspect you've got luck as a power. Don't rely on it, though."

"Wasn't planning to", I agree. "Yeah, I've had like a dozen completely impossible bits of luck, from getting to this world, to getting here specifically, to my BIT and regen, to being the right age in looks, to somehow being found out there before I caught hypothermia."

She looks thoughtful for a moment, then shakes her head, "not gonna burden you with my speculations, not when you really aren't quite as recovered as you feel. Instead, lie your ass down on the bed and I'll give you a massage. Bet you've never had one with tentacles before!"

She was right, I hadn't. After a long, slow, wonderful while, I fell asleep in the dream, all but melting into the bed. And woke in real life still feeling it. Wow, is all I can say.

**3rd January**

When I wake, I'm feeling it, but I have no idea what I'm feeling, except that it's heavenly. Some sort of wet dream, but sensual? My life makes no sense. Well, I might as well get up. That feeling tells me I'm a lot better than yesterday. (Was it yesterday? I feel rested, and the sun is coming through the window.) Standing, I'm no longer weak and woozy. Somehow, my body looks a little more muscular and built than it did. And I could eat a whole spit-roasted cow.

I push the "call nurse" buzzer, get a whole-tray breakfast (which is pretty good), and then the doc comes around to check and discharge me. "There's a student who's been asking to meet you when you're better, she's the one who found you. I've asked her to guide you around today, since there's a few administrative things that need doing. Come on in please, miss Waite."

And so I get to meet Sara for the first time, again. Seeing her feels like... not deja vu, but somehow an instant click. Yeah, I'm going to like this scary yet beautiful goth girl. She grins, like she's feeling the same. Okay, weird, but my life has become very weird of late. "You found me?"

"I take walks at night", she explains. "I don't feel the cold, I don't sleep - snow is just pretty powder to me, and I love looking up at the stars. I felt you warp in, so I went over to look. There you were, ass up and naked in a circle of burned grass and ashes, in a hole you'd melted in a snowdrift. So I picked you up and hauled you in."

"Got yourself an eyeful, huh?" I can't hold it against her, getting to see my bits before even I did. She did rescue me, after all.

"No complaints", she says grinning, which sets my worries at ease a bit, she at least doesn't mind the extra equipment. "But since you might feel otherwise about walking around campus naked today, I've brought over a uniform for you from supplies." I accept the bundle of clothing, and excuse myself to change. The skirt feels nice, I must be unused to those. Other than that, well, it's a school uniform, nothing to write home about. I wince a little at memories that might be from my old life's childhood. At least this uniform doesn't itch!

Back out, and I do a spin for the doc and Sara, who smirks. "Okay", I say, "Let's do the thing. You're going to guide me?"

"Yup, we need to get you to admin to establish your bona fides before anyone from the MCO comes sniffing around, and then you get the newbie tour"

A short amount of signing out and putting on a coat and hat later, we step out into the cold and cross a quad to the admin building, which looks like Buckminster Fuller got it pregnant. Inside, after a short wait, we're shown in to see the headmistress, Ms Carson. She nods to Sara, obviously they had something planned.

Sara says, "alright, I'm going to release the memory lock a little for this discussion. It's just going to be a bit fuzzy in retrospect, sorry. This is very necessary, for now." And memories of another world rush back. As well as... stories? Uh oh.

"We're, this is, fictional?" I know I'm repeating myself.

"I've got theories but, yeah, this world is projected onto your original world as fiction, and you were a fan, which means you have a lot of very dangerous information." Sara looks to the Headmistress. "She's not from this universe, so she's not a citizen, no papers or next of kin. And she was an adult when she broke across, which means no guardian. It could be really dangerous to let her off campus, everyone from the MCO to the Syndicate would want to strap her to a table and pick her brains."

"You did the right thing to nip those memories in the bud immediately", Ms Carson agrees. "Alright. That teleport was loud and messy enough there's no covering it up. But we can easily get away with saying we have no idea of her origins, and let people assume it was in-world. We can enroll you on a scholarship, young lady. We don't know the extent of your powers, but you're obviously a mutant of some considerable strength, probably with high ratings in warper and regenerator, as well as exemplar. Those will be tested shortly. You'll go into Poe, and you'll need to catch up in anything you're academically deficient in. I recognize that adults have adult skills and often forget what they learned in school. You will be competing with children with exemplar-enhanced brains, so it's likely you'll have to push hard to catch up, can you do that?"

"Yes, ma'am", I say. "Honestly, this feels like a new life to me, a chance to do everything over, and better. I was mediocre at best in my old life. I won't be in this one."

"Good", she nods. "Sara will mentor you, at least until she has taught you enough psychic shielding that she can safely drop the memory locks. I hope I don't need to remind you that once your memories are fully returned, letting out the merest hint could be dangerous. Many people here can make leaps of deduction from the slightest clue. Sara, in the meantime, I'm trusting you to broker this information to those who absolutely need it."

Sara nods, understanding the responsibility.

"As for your guardian, for now I shall take that role", Ms Carson says to me. "That is strictly for the sake of documentation. If you later become close to an adult who wishes to take that role more permanently, we can transfer it. Do you have a surname you wish to use?"

I consider, and shake my head. "I'll be Jules, no surname, for now. It helps my amnesia story. I also have no idea what code name to use, we'll see how my powers test out."

"Alright. We're in winter recess, so the staff levels are low. I'll arrange for academic and powers testing as soon as possible. Meanwhile, please try getting settled in. You will need to seek a part time job on campus, to cover your scholarship costs. The information pack with all the rules, including that one, will be in your new room. Please do read it, we're different here."

I feel my memories slipping away as I leave, and it's hard not to fight to keep them. Sara distracts me with chatter as we begin the tour of campus, explaining her status as a demon princess, I'm suitably impressed. It seems she has her own religion! "Can I join?" I ask teasingly. And play around by doing the Shinto clap and bow thing to her, "Oh great Sara who is fun to be with, bless us this day" which makes her laugh something silly, give me a noogie with a tentacle, and warn me that I shouldn't ask her blessing in public.

Oh hey, a tentacle! How neat! Sara sees me being fascinated (and distracted from asking "why not") and lets me touch her tentacle, which is kind of cute in my opinion despite being black and gummy. This one came out of her shoulder above her arm, but she can make them from anywhere. I admit that I think tentacles are cool, which she likes. She shows off a bit, making it have an eye, which makes me go "eep!" I ask how many she can make. "I'm literally all tentacle", she admits. "Top to toe, so thousands. You wouldn't want to see that though." I imagine her exploding into a squirmy tentacle ball. "Eh, you'd look odd, but you'd be Sara, so I'd try and see past the odd." She looks thoughtful at that. "Later, perhaps."

Honestly, the rest of the morning is a bit of a blur. I may be on my feet, but my full energy isn't back. We visit some blingy exhibits (mandatory for noobs, she explains), she gives me a cold weather hand-wave tour of the campus, explains the flag system (red, today), and we head to Poe. My own room is spartan and clearly set up in a hurry, it still has that mothballed room feel. And of course I have no personal effects to move myself in. Sara suggests we decamp to hers, and I gratefully accept.

Her room used to be in Poe, "and can be again when I want it to", she says. And indeed, as we get down into the basement area, a door appears just "pop" in a place that was blank stonework a moment ago. Weird squiggles on the door somehow read "Come In" even though they aren't in English at all. Okay, that's a bit spooky. Still, in we go.

Oh wow, nice room. Deep pile carpet, four poster bed, everything in tones of either obsidian or fresh blood. Of course, Sara fits into it perfectly. "I'm guessing you did some improvement on how it was when you got it", I say, gawking like a tourist.

"That was mostly my father", she admits, "but he knows what I like. Here, come and lay down, I can see you're tired." I gratefully accept. Whee, this bed is silk, and I don't know if it's just my new body but I want to squirm against it, it's so nice. Sara giggles and plomps down next to me. "Last time I had the ability to sleep was when I still thought I was human, but I find uses for the bed anyhow." Then as one train of thought follows another, "I should introduce you to my pack. And to the Kimbas. Although I think only Billie's around right now. Not yet, though", because she can see I'm sleepy. "Hey, can I have permission to tinker in your head while you sleep?"

I don't know why I trust her so much, but it's an instant "Sure, go ahead."

This time, sleep is dreamless.

---

Waking, I'm aware that I'm in Sara's room right away, not least because she's sat on the bed beside me. "Hey there sleepyhead, you've had a nice nap, it's about supper time." Something's definitely different, but I can't quite put a finger on it. There's more harmonics in the sound of her voice?

"Hey Sara, I hope you haven't been bored? Sorry for sacking out like that." My emotions feel kinda different too.

"I had quite the time actually, up to my elbows in you." The smirk shows the double entendre is very much intended. "You've got a sweet mind but a lot of your previous life was isolating and crushing, which explains some odd emotional readings I was getting from you. I've helped you put a bit of distance from that. I also gave your powers a kick. And taught your mind a few ways to use its capabilities. There's a competitive side to you, you know? It really wants to keep up with me. So I may have helped with that a little."

"Way my shot to hell memory has it, keeping up with you lot can be hazardous."

"Very, if you haven't got the chops for it. And a friendly mentor."

"I was dumb as a rock, before." Don't know how I know it but that's just there, as a fact.

"High normal, but a harsh self critic. Your exemplar breakthrough lifted you to genius, although you haven't had a chance to try it out yet. What I've done doesn't so much raise that, as expand it in directions the human mind doesn't normally go. Hooks it into your warper abilities. You'll see." She grins. "With a bit of work you should be able to throw up a rather sharp edged mind shield, using that. But that's homework for later. Let's meet people."

And cue a knock on the door. No, I don't think that was accidental either. Sara says "come on in", and a catgirl in tones of black and electric blue walks in. "Paige, meet Jules, Jules, this is Paige."

"Hi, pleased to meet you", I say. Paige comes over and gives Sara a kiss, which isn't quite a rejection of the greeting, but it feels territorial. Ah, I see. "Sorry, I didn't mean to monopolize Sara."

"There's enough of me to go around", Sara says. "Paige, be nice." I feel a static electricity feeling in the air, my hair is standing up. Memories of lightning advice, drop and get grounded. Should I?

"She has no digital shadow", Paige says. "It makes me suspicious." Somehow, I have the feeling that making any sudden moves would be very inadvisable. She's not looking at me, she's looking at my center of mass.

"She came here from another world. That's a secret."

I did? Well, let's set that aside for a moment. "I don't mean you harm. Or Sara. Or anyone here. I've barely been here, what is it, two days? I have no enemies and one friend. I've spent most of my time in exhausted sleep after burning my energy to nothing regenerating."

"Ah yes, we have experience with that. Alright. Sorry, we're a bit paranoid, although with reason." She bows to me. "I don't shake hands, I give people shocks. Paige Donner. Nice to meet you. Sara likes you, and that holds a lot of weight with me."

I copy her bow. "And likewise. Jules, no last name that I can remember. Meeting someone Sara likes feels like meeting family."

She considers that. "I have bad experiences of family. But you could say instead, meeting pack. That's what we call ourselves, Sara's Pack. Most of us are off for Christmas."

"Pack as in wolves?" I ask.

She nods. "For now, you don't need to know more than that."

I consider this. "I'm okay with need to know, provided whatever I don't need to know doesn't sneak up and bite me on the ass."

For some reason this amuses her a lot. "No ass biting, gotcha." We all crack up.

"Alright, let's head to the crystal hall", Sara says. "I don't need munchies, but I plan to be there to introduce you around a bit, if that's okay, Jules?"

Since I definitely *do* need munchies, that's welcome. Whee, okay, standing up is slightly disorienting. Something about the angles of the room? But it's low enough level that I can push it aside.

It turns out the door has moved while I was asleep. Poe, where we were, is rather on the outskirts of campus; Hawthorne, where we are now, is even further out. It would be a chilly January walk, but thankfully there's a direct tunnel to the admin building, which also hosts the cafeteria. The tunnel is less darksome and basement-like than it sounds. We pass new construction, and Sara points out that way leads to Poe, if I'm wanting to slink around out of the wind and visit her. There's not much foot traffic, almost everyone's off doing the festive thing, but I bite my lip to not gasp or gape at a few of the evident students here. I guess I must come from another world, if this is normal here? Don't be rude.

Thankfully, I get a reprieve in the form of something politer to jaw-drop at, namely the mad gigantic indoor greenhouse cafeteria. Sara, you sneak, you knew to leave this off the tour so I'd get the full impact when I was actually awake. She snickers at my thought, little miss telepathic show-off.

The cafeteria's clientele leans towards the monstrous in form, but now I have a moment to think, I'm guessing they are the ones who'd have trouble returning to the family for a break. Which makes me want to run around giving them hugs, but okay, step away from the patronizing attitude before somebody gets their feelings hurt. Sara leads the two of us towards a table where a rather lonesome looking blue haired anime girl is eating a very large meal. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one. Sara introduces us, "Billie, this is Jules, no code name, she's just arrived and going to be in Poe. Jules, this is Billie, code name Tennyo, and she's on the same floor as you."

"I fell out of a hole in the sky, the day before yesterday", I admit. "Nice to meet you."

Billie obviously was a bit caught short, not expecting company, but put on a smile over what had previously been a glum expression. "Hi there, yeah, nice to meet you too." She stood up and we shook hands. "Apologies for the glum face, all my friends are away. Why don't you grab a tray of whatever you like to eat, and join me here? Sara, Paige, you're welcome too if you want. And you can tell me about this hole in the sky, if you want."

We join a line, and it doesn't take long for me and Paige to grab some nice looking cafeteria food, I load up a couple of plates with mac and cheese, she goes for the meat. Too late I realize some other kid is about to push through right where I am, damn he's going to send me flying and waste all this food. Intentionally. But something in me wakes and I can see a way to just... twist... and he steps right through me, except it isn't, because I'm kind of still all there but displaced, and then I'm back and he *thunks* into the countertop and puts a dent in the tray slide. I decide the best part of a snarky reply is none, and just head back to Sara and Billie while the guy's still too confused to start throwing punches.

When I get there, Sara applauds. "There you go, first time warping. A nice fourth dimensional dodge."

Honestly I'm still a bit dazed. Part of me is all but freaking out and another is somehow able to understand it, but not understand the understanding. "I'm seeing all these extra angles since I woke up. Somehow, it makes sense but trying to grab a hold of that sense gives me a headache. Like the world has infinite directions at right angles to each other."

"It kind of does, but most folks ignore that and don't really like to be reminded" says Billie. Sara nods adding, "don't push at it yet, let your instincts acclimatize, and don't try clever stuff like mirror-reversing yourself yet."

Reversing? "Everyone knows my powers except me", I grumble teasingly.

Paige shakes her head, "Not me, I only caught a corner of what you did and it made my head spin. These two are just weird." Which led to Sara complaining that she was completely normal, and Billie claiming to be normal-er, and it probably would have turned into a food fight, except that Billie and I were too hungry to waste it. It's nice to feel less like a freak going through two loaded plates and dessert too. Billie explains it to me, some folks just needed fuel to run their new powers.

"So, that hole in the sky", Billie asks as the conversation reaches a lull, "Care to explain?"

I try my best, given what I know, I don't feel there's any risk in letting her know what Sara already does. Paige listens in too, this is the first time she's got the full story. I pause, reach a decision, and leave in the bit about my bits, might as well get that clear from the get go.

"You had the luck to face-plant into the ass end of Christmas Exile", Billie says, having taken my revelation in stride as if it isn't even unusual. Perhaps it isn't, here. "Means a boring few days for you, but time to adjust and explore. Everyone's going to be coming back over the next week. It'll get real noisy, you've dropped in on a floor that's more than just a bunch of people, it's a team. We call ourselves team Kimba. Up to you if you want to get mixed up with us, but we're nice folks."

"I'll look forward to meeting them all", I say, "I hope it won't bother everyone to have a latecomer?"

"Nah, we already have a few, Jamie, Chou, they came in after the start of semester. Paige literally just arrived, although she's with the pack. Uh, I have to warn you, that for reasons, we're pretending to have a falling out with Sara."

I look at Sara, who has been my first ever friend here and honestly I already feel joined at the hip to. "No way, no how. But I guess, it won't mess with your pretence too much if it's only me got a toe dipped into two teams?"

Billie considers that. "Probably not. I'm honestly not the strategist of this kind of thing, Ayla will know how to spin it. It might be temporarily uncomfortable for you, though. Sorry. It's for a good cause, honest."

That slightly gloomy topic is interrupted when a monochrome inky black flying girl zooms up to the table and hovers over it. "Hi everyone! Sorry, I was recharging." Turning to me, "I'm Jet. You're Jules. Hi, sorry, I've seen you asleep but not yet met you awake. I'm, uh", she looks at Sara.

Answering the implied question, Sara says "I've been down deep inside her head - with carte blanche permission, so don't worry about the ethics. She gets full clearance. I have my reasons."

Billie raises an eyebrow at that.

Jet nods her assent, "I'm part of Jade's soul, but kind of severed from her at the moment until I can clear an inconvenient curse. I'm Sara's bodyguard. I kinda have to recharge like an, um, succubus, though, or I'd fade. Which is what I was doing, and this is me blushing even though it doesn't show because the material I'm cast into is black."

I can't help giggling at this manic rush of information. "Nice to meet you when I'm awake."

We chatter for a bit, about the adventures of Team Kimba and friends (which sound implausible and also really impressive) and about the school, which I kinda haven't really seen in action. It all sounds a little hard to believe, honestly. Perhaps I really am from another world if what's normal to them seems so absurd.

Sara spots that I'm distracted and a bit withdrawn, and suggests I head back to Poe. Billie's going back the same way, so we walk together - well, walk and float.

"You really let her in your head, huh?", Billie asks.

I nod. "I honestly don't understand it myself, but, I trust her, really rock solid all the way down. I was newborn day before yesterday, and she was my midwife, that's kind of how it feels, if that makes any sense? I know I had a life before this... but it just feels abstract, that knowledge. I probably hated it." I sigh. "This whole situation just has me off kilter. It's so weird."

"Well, I can sympathize with that", Billie sighs, "my life is pretty off the rails too. I'm barely getting used to being a girl. You know only two of our team are even super into it, Toni and Jade? Nikki's tolerating it, Chou and Ayla are fighting it, and me, it just weirds me out. Sounds like you're another of the lucky ones?"

"Kinda sorta", I admit. "I wanted this, or my BIT wouldn't have settled on it. But everything's a huge adjustment, still. I can't even remember my previous life, but I can feel all the differences. My voice is weird. My body is weird. Short, balanced differently. Double weird, it's not even straight up female. I'm a kid again - I have no idea how long I was an adult, but the way I'm flinching at shadows, I didn't have a great time as a kid last time around. And I got handed a heap of powers I'm barely starting to get a handle on. Definitely not in 'my life sucks' territory but, I could use friends, you know?"

"Well, friends then!" Billie says, with a grin. "Even if you do hang around with little miss scary tentacles. I could use some myself, because when she's not over at ARC or busy with Paige, she's one of the few around to talk to while I've been stuck here."

"What happened to get you stuck here, if it's okay to ask?"

"Eh, things happened", she squinches up her forehead, "It's damn hard to explain to somebody who hasn't been following things as they go along. But basically, I had to rescue my folks. Which I did, but everyone's decided for my own good I gotta keep away from them, or I'll attract danger to them. Specifically, I gotta stay here, it's neutral enough territory nobody is going to try and force me to work for them."

I give her a hug, because it sounds like she needs one.

"Thanks", she says. "What's extra weird is having Jet around, and Jet is Jade, and Jade's my room-mate and like the best little sister, but Jet has been through some harsh stuff she doesn't really wanna talk about, and she's just different, and she's shy around me... it messes with my head, you know?" She chuckles. "And here I am dropping my problems in your lap."

"Eh, that's what friends do", I say. "Alongside, it sounds like, fighting every super-villain on the continent."

She snickers. "And flying across half the country to save the folks, and it sounds like Jade went and cleaned out a whole base by raising a zombie army, we're just normal here."

This gets us back to Poe, and Billie gives me the tour, although it's a bit eerie being so empty, I get to see the lounge, the Kimba Korner, which is a tangle of ropes and hammocks in the sun room, the rooms where the others will be coming back to, and Billie's room. And then I say goodnight and head to mine, which has been slightly prettied up with a bunch of flowers in a vase, and somebody has left pyjamas on the bed as well as my introductory pack. I can live with that. I read, then sleep.

---

"I am so totally diverging", I say to Sara, as I'm on what I now recognize as her bed, and my head in in her lap. "I suppose I don't hate the new me. Old me has so many hang-ups."

"New you has them too", she says, stoking my hair. "The causes might be blocked but the effects are still there, little loops, you know? One thought leads to another, and boom, self reinforcing hang-up. Those are where I dropped in some stop-triggers, you'll see."

"I feel all sorts of things. Like I don't deserve this. I got a new life and more than I could have dreamed of. I got to meet you. Am I pushing in on you and Paige?"

"Or me and Jet, or me and Hippy when she gets back? Silly, no. There's lots of me. The others know what I am, they know they're going to be sharing me. The only one who'll fuss is Hippy and that's only because I collected another one of you intersex types. Paige is that way too, did you know? Maybe she'll let you play."

I laugh, caught by the strangeness of the situation. "I've never even had sex in this body. I kinda want you to be my first? Um, if you want to. New me and old me agree on that, but new me has no idea how to ask."

"New you shouldn't worry, I'll be the one to offer", Sara says. "And yeah, I can see you thinking it's just the pretty new shell. I admit to enjoying that, but no. It's the soul. I like you, you know? You're kind and help people, and you give absolute loyalty, and life's burned you for it too damn often."

"I'm grouchy and a loner", I grumble back.

"So you say", she teases. "But what I'm seeing is a cutie."

"Bah, humbug", My giggle is cut off by a kiss.

---

**3rd January, 2007, Whateley**

Waking is slow and delicious. Somehow, there's more of me in parallel beside me and I can share the feeling across them, and it amplifies... I might be close to orgasm again, do I want to do this? Yes, call it a yes, I know there's resistance but that was surely the past me's problem, let's play...

Oh wow. And now I can't hardly move, that was impressive and I'm glad I did it in bed or I'd be getting intimately acquainted with the dorm-room carpet. Wahey for this new body and its weirdnesses. It's like I can share my feelings, perhaps even my thoughts across to other almost-me selves that are part of a huge... there isn't a word for it. We are many, and we can amplify our own wet dreams into an orgasm. I wonder what else we can do? Share thoughts? Think different things?

I'm out of bed, and I decide to play with my powers, I haven't got any music but I imagine some (did I used to be able to imagine so clearly?) and I'm dancing, but not just in the usual three dimensions, dancing through myself and across on the other side of the room, taking my own hand, split and recombine like a kaleidoscope, sharing the effort to control so many complex transformations across the many me.

Oops!

Billie is looking a bit green, peeking in at the door, which does not go with her hair at all. "Uh good morning to however many of you there are. Please don't do that where anyone can see who isn't me or Sara. Preferably only Sara."

So of course I snap together into the normal me with a grin. "Hi, sorry! All of me were playing silly games with myself."

This is me snarking, but Billie just says, "oh you and Jade are going to be a riot together. Hurry up and dress, breakfast won't wait for lie-ins even over recess. Also, I've got a message for you, you're needed at powers testing as soon as you're done with food."

"Thanks Billie!"

As I shower, I'm exploring what my own, our own minds can do turned on themselves, and seeing my own mind from a new perspective, jewel-like and complicated, so much damage and I can see Sara's gentle repairs, I don't touch those, I can see so many memory blocks too... so it's not exactly amnesia, huh? Well, they have a "no touch yet, see me" feel on them that's strongly Sara's. Okay, I trust her, and I can see my own trust is genuine, not a result of tampering, so I'll wait. Whee. I don't think I'm exactly human any more, but what am I? Maybe powers testing will help.

Sara's at breakfast, I figure perhaps she waited. This time I set several parallel threads off to watch my peripheral vision, so I can just step around the assholes which this school seems to be abundantly supplied in the normally human way. Problems evaded, I make my way to the table she's at, with Paige and Jet. Paige is having steak for breakfast, which I guess works for a catgirl. (How did I not notice how cute she was, yesterday? I suppose, the terrifying attitude.) Jet's just there for the conversation and the bodyguarding, it seems, and Sara has a cage, with a cute, kinda old looking black and white cat. Huh?

"Morning, I waited up", Sara says as I grab a seat beside her and look curiously at... her meal? "I figured you had to see, because I can't hide what I am."

And she eats the cat. Whoomph, and it's blue powder. Slow down and replay, the parallel me's saw it too and we can reconstruct detail... tentacles diving into the cat's fur, a moment of pain and it implodes and collapses, and... I'm not sure how I saw it but from a certain perspective, there's a certain huge something that's drawn out of the cat and into something unimaginably vast that feels like Sara? But somehow it all fits inside the space they're in. Again, I lack words. But I can ask, "what was the... outside big part, that went into you?"

"You'd call it the soul", Sara says.

"So the cat's... still there, but inside you?"

Paige says, "Odd perspective", but Sara nods. "Yeah. Jet has stories about that place that maybe she'll share some time. But it doesn't bother you?"

"Startled me, and I'm a bit sad for the cat, but then I figure it's inside you which isn't a bad place to be so", I mock-glare at Paige who is having a giggle fit. "And you can hush".

Sara, poor Sara, looks relieved, and I put my arm around her and hug, because I can feel she's been hated on for that far too much. She snuggles up against me. "Thanks sweetie, it's appreciated. So, your powers are coming in, huh?"

"Yeah", I sigh, "I am pretty sure I'm not very human any more."

"Tell me about it", she tease-complains, "I know that feeling well. But I kind of have a choice for you. If you want, I can leave things there, you'll be a bit out of the human norm, but you'll fit in here where everybody's weird. Other side, we work together and I help you stretch that side of you as far as it goes - hush, Paige, that too, silly, but not at the breakfast table - but the downside is that you'll be a bit of a monster when we're done. Not remotely human, and a bit lonely because there aren't a great many of us around."

Which I realise is how a part of her sees herself. "I'd be honoured to join you on the monster side." What else could I say? But it's also really quite heartfelt, I have never clung close to normality or even humanity, and this sounds like quite an adventure.

She just nods. Paige grins, "welcome to club weird, we have broadband", which makes me snicker. Jet nods, "Even I'm weirder than I'll let on in a room full of norms", and pops a tentacle out of her fingertip. Oho.

"I gotta hear all the stories", I say, because I find I'm really caring about these people. "Sadly though, I need to go to powers testing like straight away. Are any of you headed in that direction?"

Alas not, but it isn't hard to find the way, since the initial testing is hosted in the same medical building I arrived in. Highlight of the journey, being stormed past by a man dressed like a preacher with a grim scowl that practically melts the snow. I wonder what his problem is?

I check in at reception. It turns out, powers testing is preceded by a full physical. Oh joy. Thankfully I get Dr Jennings again, who at least isn't a stranger. She notes my hair is growing in, pure white. I hadn't noticed it, but yeah, I guess it is. Height, weight, body fat percentage, blood pressure, all are normal for my apparent age. Good, because I half-remember some of that used to be a problem. They do a blood draw, and have to switch up to a tougher needle when the steel one bends. This is supposedly normal with exemplars. My blood looks normal, I guess. We'll see what the labs show. And then, "I'm sorry, but it's time", I have to hop up on the table and get poked around inside. At least she bothered to warm the annoying plastic duck beak thing. And then after that, some tedious lying very still inside scanners. So far as I'm concerned it's all just "the machine that goes ping".

At last, I can change back out of the awful butt-flashing gown and into my uniform, and head off to another part of the building ominously labelled "testing/evaluation, by appointment only". I have an appointment, so in I go.

Inside, there's a slightly chubby guy in a lab coat. "Good morning, I'm Dr. Richard Hewley. We're a bit short staffed at the moment, it's pretty much just me. You must be Jules, no last name?" I nod and we shake hands.

"I should warn you that powers testing is recorded, and archived, so we'd really prefer to use your codename, if you have one?"

I try out the one I'd been considering, "I'm not really settled deciding yet, but, we can go with Parallel."

"Alright, recording on. Parallel, tell us what you know about your powers."

So I describe how I got here in a burnout driven teleport. How the precision of where I got to rather suggests something's up with my luck. No, I haven't teleported since, unless you count bending the angles and putting myself on both sides of a room, which I don't really, it's too close range. I describe how I can see in what feels like more than the usual three dimensions, and bend myself in and out of the way of things, and kind of put bits of me at different places relative to the 3d world, although it all still feels connected up to me. He asks me to show, then looks pretty badly green when I do. "Okay, please don't do that again." And I describe how I can feel and share minds with some sort of sideways me's, and run parallel thought or attention tracks. That's kind of my ace in the hole, but I expect they'll find it out when I use it anyhow. That catches his curiosity and he asks if I'd consent to a psychic scan? I suppose I do. They don't have any psychic scientists there, but they bring back Dr Jennings, who scanned me before, which should give an interesting baseline to compare against.

Parallel me's shuffle my secrets off at inhuman angles, and watch, as she dives in...

Eep, that was unexpected. She takes one peek, backs out in a rush and loses her lunch rather explosively, although Doc Hewley manages to snatch up a trash bin to aim it into. And then offers a packet of tissues to wipe. "Damn, you've changed. That felt barely human, sorry, I don't mean to be rude, I'm still reeling." She goes and gets some water from a sink and rinses and spits. "A lot of change. And if the rate of change keeps up, anyone not rated for contact with class X entities will probably get very dead in a hurry if they try to read you, so if anyone asks if they can peek, the answer's a definite no."

I wince at that. She continues, "multiple, parallel, overlapping mentalities unified around a shared sense of self, reaching both into parallel unrealized possibilities, and upwards and outwards in ways I couldn't follow. Thought patterns spanning levels or running in independent threads. The front level, ordinary self is still prioritized but is starting to offload to the others. Total processing capacity, well outside the human, or even mutant norm. I dunno what happened to your head, kid, but hoo boy." She chuckles. "You've hit the ground running and some. Probably gonna end up annoying the science department like Carmilla does." Not a name I know, but she sees that and says, "Codenames, remember? You know her by another name", and aha.

Well I guess, little miss tentacles did say she was going to help me keep up. Fun fun.

Then Dr Jennings heads back to the medical side of things (to regain her composure, and have a rest in a darkened room, I suspect) and we begin the doing, rather than talking side of testing.

I can run fairly fast on the treadmill. I'm kind of offloading the coordination, so it all feels pretty effortless, as does braking back infinitesimally to let the sudden wrecking ball whizz past my nose while keeping up a jog at thirty odd MPH.

Say what?

I realise that part of me was watching my peripheral vision. And perhaps reacting faster than normal? The memory of the ball feels slowed down quite a lot. It wasn't hard to adjust my speed to get pulled further down the treadmill and let it miss.

We keep going. I can run fast enough to keep up with cars inside city limits, but that's no great shakes for here, it seems. I don't have wall-crawling powers, and had to ask to stop when the slope got too steep.

"The next lot's going to hurt a bit, I apologize", nice to at least be forewarned. They already know they need a tougher needle than steel to break skin. I watch fascinated as a small scratch (ow!) heals itself instantly. So does a tiny laser burn. An electrical shock still stings and makes me feel oogy, but that goes away much faster than I'd expect.

"You're still sensitive to pain, but you're a regenerator. That presents us with a dilemma. Going by the speed you heal, you could be a very high regen rating. But the way to test that would be with a significant injury, and that would be no fun at all.

"Doc, can you hand me the scalpel. I have an idea, but I need to be the one in control."

He hesitates for a moment, then does it. I put the tip against my skin, press until I feel the ouch - then change my focus and dive into myself, following the feeling. It's deeper inside than my mind normally goes, but there's a simple, childlike part of me that feels the pain and is afraid. Cut means harm means death. And now I can actually reach it, and comfort it, and show the way our body heals now, and gently I find it's buying the idea that a little damage doesn't have to be a panic. "Let's do this together", I don't know if I said that out loud or only inside, but we move my hand and draw a line of red down my arm from wrist to elbow. Not deep, no damage to the tendons, but all the way through the skin so blood runs (pretty red) down off the arm onto the table. The cut closes right up almost as fast as it's made. We feel the pain, together, but it was just a sensation. We don't need to fear. And without fear, there isn't aversion. And then I'm back at the surface level. "We were able to control the pain." That was out loud. Okay, I think we freaked him a little.

"Um, regen six-ish, going by the speed alone", he says once he gets his colour back. "Which I should have expected, given how you regenerated when you arrived, but it's still a bit of a shock to see. Six would mean you're functionally immortal. You and a small handful of others here, just simply won't be dying of anything short of a nuke. I don't know whether to envy you that. Given that, pain control is a good thing. How did you manage it?"

"I seem to be able to dive through my parallels and see my own mind", I explain. "I was able to reassure the part of me that rejects pain, that for me it didn't mean harm. It's why I said, we."

He nods. "Alright, that's enough for now, unless you want to try moving up to a gun?" To which I laugh and shake my head. He looks a bit relieved. "Alright, I'd like to get you down to lab W, where we can test your warper abilities with specialized machinery, and see if you affect probabilities in a systematic way. But first, why don't you take an hour and grab some lunch?"

I hadn't realized the time. (A part of me offers to track this, I assent.) And I'm pretty hungry. "Good plan, doc. Alright, I'll be back." I can't quite do the Arnie accent with my little-girl voice. He snickers, making the mental connection to the self-surgery in that movie. I guess over here, that movie is closer to science-fact? (Wait, over here?? Sara note: not yet. Alright if you say so, but I'm going to bug you about it.)

I let my parallels chew on the problem as I walk to the cafeteria dome. Item, I have blatant memory blocks. Item, Sara's fingerprints are all over them. Item, nobody else, including mind-readers, has spotted them, despite rummaging around all in there. Item, when poked, they ask me politely to have patience. Conclusion, Sara's hiding something in my mind, but not exactly from me, and not forever. Conclusion, she's hiding it from mind readers. And she poked my powers in a way that's already made me alien enough to upset Doc Jennings. Conclusion, when I'm done cooked, she'll take the blocks off, and anybody that tries an unauthorized look will pull back a stump.

{Good reasoning!} Oh hi, Sara, I see somebody has left a remote tap in my head - yeah, I see it now. And I'm going to leave it in situ, because I trust you. {Thank you. Not much longer, I'll set things to start trickling back slowly beginning now.} And that is appreciated. Here we are, the cafeteria, and she's over at a table waving. Of course I wave back.

Food obtained, I grab a seat beside Sara (who is a larval great old one and a granddaughter of one of the primary powers) and opposite Billie (who is the Star Stalker)... wait, what? I'm getting information about people as I look around, sometimes very private information, I recognize faces. I shake my head to clear it. "Sorry, brain's playing tricks. I blame powers testing."

"How was the ball?" Billie clearly asking in a way that won't clue me in if we haven't got that far, the sneak.

"Dodged it", I brag. "Saw it coming, didn't break stride. Just nudged the speedo down a mite."

Paige applauds sarcastically. Billie nods. "Everyone gets some of their first war-stories from powers testing, it's always a blast. Me, they tried to laser in half, so I trashed their lab." (I read about that... where?)

I just nod (to evade the problem). "Like one does, of course." Which gets a snicker.

Sara sniffs the air, then lifts my arm, and sniffs that, and growls. "They've been putting holes in you? I may have to get grumpy with them."

"I put a hole in me", I say quickly, to avoid any avoidable rampages. "Regen six, so it seems." Which has made me hungry, so I tuck in as they all sound impressed.

"Welcome to the what-bullet-hole club", says Billie. "Jade's five, Sara's six, I'm seven-plus. I'd say we have cookies, but we mostly have wardrobe malfunctions."

"Woman of steel, uniform of Kleenex?"

She nods. "Tank a nuke like a hero out of legend, hang your assets all out in the wind like a morale poster. Upsides, downsides." Which makes all of us laugh. (She actually did tank a nuke? Later, dammit.)

We chatter about adventures, but the part of me that's monitoring time warns me I have to go. As I head for the cafeteria's exit, Sara pulls me aside for a kiss and a mental whisper. "Soon, dear, I know it's shocking, let it flow back gradually, try not to boggle where someone else can catch you at it, and don't blurt what you haven't seen or let on you know people you haven't met. I'll keep a little back for now, so keep trusting me. It should mostly be back by supper." I nod and telepathically send her assent and love. And following her advice, set parts of me to monitoring I don't slip. Well, this is an adventure and a half! But for now, back to being poked at.

It's an irony that an afternoon of labs leaves me almost entirely free of the sudden memories, perhaps whatever source they came from has little to say about the lab itself. There's machines, some of which require more than one operator, which means we can't use those. The others go beep and bloop and spit out printouts. I'm sure it all makes sense to the doc. In the end, we discover I have no measurable effect on probabilities, at least in any crude, ambient way, although he doesn't rule out a luck specific response to danger. I can't rig a coin flip or win at one armed bandits. We figure I can bend things I'm wearing, or touching, as well as myself, and I can bend space itself, but the twist comes right back out when I stop pushing it. He asks me to try teleporting, but I'd rather not embed myself in a wall so I chicken out. That and also I'd like to keep a few powers back - I'll practise that one later and in private.

At the end of the day, he gives me a readout. Exemplar three, regenerator six, warper uncertain but with interdimensional-teleportation classifiers. Slight possibility of paragon or probability warper involving luck under unusual circumstances. And my mental differences don't really fit in the classification anywhere except perhaps ESP, but I get a "do not scan" warning on file.

Examining myself through the parallels as I take a chilly walk around campus, I see that I held more than the teleporting back. I can feel that the luck is there, although unimportant stuff like a coin flip won't set it off, it seems to have a mind of its own. And although I don't think my mutation gave me ESP, I may be picking up the how-to from having so much of it done to me. Fun, fun, indeed. And as a few more self imposed blocks loosen, I start to remember that I lived another life, before this, and I read about here - as fiction.

Whoop, way to have the floor drop from under your feet. But immediately I understand how that needs to be kept on the international-scale down-low. And I move those thoughts to a deeper layer, as my surface innocently ponders the beauty of nature even in a white-out. So, I know people's secrets. And from at least one world's perspective, the future here is written. Scratch that, because here I am messing up the canon. So it's not exactly certain to come out as I am gradually recalling. Close, though, I'd expect.

Should I tell them?

Yes, obviously. The Kimbas and the Pack at least. I think I can trust that slightly anarchic crew to keep a lid on this secret. Beyond that, I'll let Sara broker the information. Not that I have vast scads of it, I didn't finish the stories before I got bumped over.

I am so looking forward to meeting them all.
Last Edit: 10 months 1 week ago by JulesMorrison. Reason: Smexy scene warning in part three!
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10 months 2 weeks ago - 9 months 4 weeks ago #67287 by JulesMorrison
JulesMorrison replied the topic: Parallels
### Part two

**3rd January, 2007, Whateley, afternoon**

"Uh, Sara, is this thing useful to send from this end? Can you hear me?" I'm sat cooling my ass on a frost covered outside seat, trying to talk down Sara's telepathic tap.

"Loud and clear, what's up that won't wait for mealtime to chat about?"

"So, your memory locks came loose like you said. I rather think we ought to gather up your pack and Billie, and have a bit of a council of war."

"You don't want to keep secrets from them, hmm?" I get the feeling she finds that endearing.

"That, and I'm probably a trouble magnet. Even with my new not so human mind keeping out the casually nosy. We think I'm enough of a splash on the probabilities that others are going to see the ripples."

"Fair point", she concedes. "And good work getting so agile with it so fast. Alright, I'll gather them up."

"Some place that's hard to snoop?"

"My room, although we can't make it quite as impregnable a fortress we can with the rest of the Kimbas here, it'll do. Head for Hawthorne. And get in out of the cold, silly."

"Meh, won't kill me", I'm probably being a bit of a stoical idiot, leaning on my newly tested regeneration and just ignoring comfort, but being outside away from people makes the target-shaped itch on my back relent a bit.

"We'll have a talk about that later, but get your ass-icle over here." Sara knows I'm being self destructive. She will probably be sweet about it. Gah. Alright...

The new me has seen the map of this place in the orientation pack, and with the perfect recall I seem to have gained it's almost like having Google maps open in my head. Angles, therefore triangulation, therefore position. You Are Here. So I turn and walk in the correct direction, kicking a route through the snow, it may be a long trudge. Hmm, well, maybe now's a good time to give it a try. That ridge? Imagine myself there, what would need to bend... I think I have it.

A soundless change of perspective. Whee! Travelling without moving, bite me Paul Atreides. I walk the considerably shortened rest of the way to Hawthorne.

A few minutes and some slightly tense negotiations with grumpy GSD kids later (thankfully, rescued by the house mother in her flying wheelchair), I'm headed towards Sara's room, which is at the first basement level. I find myself touristing a bit as I pass through, but I'm not stupid enough to explore lower, given what I now recall.

I go to knock on her door (which now says "The Sara Is In", in those freaky runes - that my parallels pick up to chew on a bit) but it opens before my hand hits. Convenient to be able to grab things with ten-foot tentacles. Everyone's here, Billie looks curious as to what she got dragged over for. Jet is just chilling up near the ceiling. Paige is snuggling in Sara's lap and as content as a cat in a sunbeam.

"So what's the big deal?" Billie asks as I make my way in and grab a beanbag.

"Wait one", Sara says. "I'm going to float the room, this might feel a little odd... There we go." The door, and the window, have gone. And yes, I felt the whole damn place rotate out of the regular three dimensions, and it made a freaky kind of geometrical sense. "So we're not completely snoop proof in here, but we're as good as Paige and I can make it. Floor's yours, miss Jules."

I sigh, "Okay, this is going to sound really weird, and it's going to take a little while to understand how it's important. And I really hope you won't all hate me. So, I'm kind of an information bomb, you see..." and I explain how I'm from another world, and this world is fiction there, and it's clearly a bit meh and academic to them until I say how I *read* their own darkest secrets, and rode along with their troubles as their powers manifested. And the other Kimbas too. "I had to tell you as soon as I knew it. Holding that kind of thing over you would sour our friendship completely. Even knowing it, puts you at a deeply unfair disadvantage, and I apologise unreservedly. In fair repayment, I've got no secrets from you all. Anything you wanna know, if it isn't still blocked, ask."

Billie had gone from looking taken aback to thoughtful. "You sound like you arrived knowing it, and you sound like it only just came back to you."

"Both true. I arrived, Sara by good luck peeked into my dream, saw the danger I was in, and locked it right down. Gave me the amnesia I've been complaining about."

Sara nods. "I can let it trickle back now, because her mind is no longer something any ordinary telepath could invade on a whim. I was originally thinking shielding, but, well, it worked out differently. Hence the new code name, hmm?"

Nice hand-off. "Yeah, hi, I'm Parallel, nice to meet you all. Parallel as in, many parallel minds. Although the uninitiated will think it's because I'm a warper. But I've got something like an internal J-team and then some. Makes my mind like sticking your arm in a blender for the merely ordinary psychic. I um, may be drifting a bit Sara-ward in how my stuff works. With her help."

"I guess you read who, and what, she is", Billie says, like she still doesn't quite all the way trust miss spooky.

"Yeah. Daughter of Gothmog, who I'd love to meet. Granddaughter of one of the primary powers, who I would not. Lust demon princess is kind of a simplification for the rubes. Goddess of her own religion. Class X entity. Big ball o' tentacles. My friend who I love. Someone I trust with my soul. Someone I kinda sorta want to keep up with, even if it means being a little more class X myself."

Something about that makes Jet grin, I can guess what.

"Fair answer", says Billie, after a pause. "I guess you aren't going into anything blind." She sighs. "Everyone around us picks up powers and weird shit like we're the universe's own piñata. As well as enemies, and I'm not so short sighted I can't see how you mean, information bomb, because you didn't just read about *us*, did you?"

I shake my head. "There's a few very nasty people out there who would stop at very little either to get the information I have, or silence it, if they find out it's there. Their secrets, their plans, their hidden identities. The future that would have been. They might not exactly know about me, but they'll have an inkling something has changed. I'm changing the timeline, even just being here. I'm the invisible rock dropped into the river, that changes all the currents. When I sat and thought it through, we couldn't see any way to hide that. And being here paints a target on your backs too."

"They can take a ticket and join the back of the line", Jet says, surprising me a bit.

Billie nods her agreement. "It hardly moves the needle on the ambient shitstorm, to be honest with you. It's not like we haven't already pissed off several crews of nasties. We'll be vigilant, but roll with it. I guess, extra psychic shielding practise for those who aren't already protected?"

"Which, until the rest of the Kimbas come back, is mostly only Paige" Sara says, eliciting a meow-growl of irritation. "The others could stand the practise anyway." Petting Paige's hair softens the sting, and soon she's making the most lovely relaxing purr.

Jet asks, tentatively, "What if someone grabs me like Tansy did, I can't shield what I know", then looks momentarily confused, then comprehending as Sara pops a tentacle out of her fingertip and wiggles it at her. "Ah, good point."

"That doesn't rule absolutely everybody out, dear", Sara says, "But for the Tansies of this world, you would be very much more than they could chew."

"Probably rapidly and messily fatal", I hazard a guess.

Sara confirms that with a nod. "But don't worry about Jade, dear, what you know comes pre-chewed for her shape of mind. Although she may have to ride out the re-integration in a bathtub."

"She is going to be so scary-inventive with it", I say grinning. Which makes Jet evil-laugh. Cutely.

Billie on the other hand, is kinda feeling left out a bit. "Sorry, this is all passing me by. Why is Jet dangerous to grab, now?"

Jet floats down to the floor beside her. "I'm sorry, oneesan. I really am. I haven't been keeping secrets deliberately but just because it was *raw*, but I can tell you a bit now. When I was in there, in Sara, a... a man hurt me. A very powerful shapeshifter. But I lived and I absorbed memories from him. And I absorbed the shapeshifting. It's um, not mutant. It's alien, inhuman, memories of knowledge, but I was able to handle them. But if they just dropped into the head of an unprepared avatar like Tansy..."

Billie fills it in, "She'd melt like folks who see one of those wolves unshielded." She sighs, and I can see she's controlling anger. "I want to hurt that man."

"He's already in hell, for what it's worth", Sara says.

Billie sighs, "It'll have to do. Jet, you can tell me this stuff, you know?"

Jet looks at the floor. "I wanted to, but it hurt, and I knew you'd be really angry, and I couldn't handle that too. Let me take my time, please, oneesan. I will tell, I promise."

Billie ruffles Jet's black hair, "Sure, lil' sis, when you're ready, big sis will be there." Looking up, "Still, I figure we're done here? Because I could use a chance to go someplace quiet and unwind this anger I'm feeling, without putting a hole in anyone's wall. Thanks, Jules, Parallel, for telling us all this stuff. It's still weird to me that somebody read about me like I was a book, but well, weird is situation normal here. Sara, could you un-float the room?"

Sara nods. "Okay, when the door's back, no more secrets. Here we go." Ta-da, door. "Miss Jules, stick around, we've got talking to do."

I nod. "See you at supper, Billie."

She smiles, "Sure", and heads out.

Door closed, Sara says, "Come up on the bed, silly. I'm not going to give you an earache about playing poor me I'm immortal, I'm certain you know I'm not immune to the impulse myself."

"No secrets can be hidden from the dreaded Parallel, mistress of reading stories somebody else wrote", I agree as I clamber up, and since Paige is lap-occupying, I sort of curl up around behind her. "No secrets from a cutie with a remote tap in my brain either. Brains. Meh, is my mind even physical any more?"

"You're going to have to read a lot of physics textbooks before I can answer that in detail without waving my hands and using a whole lot of fuzzy metaphor", Galaxy brain says. "Which means perhaps later this week, the speed you're going. For now, let's just say not really, and decreasingly so. But that isn't what's bothering you is it?"

"No, that would be my old memories."

"I could wipe them?"

"Thank you, no. It's like you said, the effects are not really tied to the cause. I'd only have to do the same work and I'd be groping blind. That and I'm starting to get enough self insight I'd see the gaps, if you weren't actively hiding them."

She ruffles my hair with a tentacle. Somehow I get the feeling I passed a test. "Good decision. But I can feel those memories really weighing on you."

"It makes me feel like a fraud. For a moment there I was just a kid, barely remembering I used to be something else. But now... I know you're holding a few things back still, but I was an adult this time last week, by my own body clock. In a different body, in a different life. How is this any better than dress-up?"

"You died", Sara points out. "I went through the same thing, remember? And I had to decide if I wanted to be Michael Waite, or be Sara. I decided he had died. He had a life, he made of it what he could, and it ended. That end sparked me, but I am a new thing, even though in some ways I'm old. The memories I inherited are sometimes useful to me, sometimes a burden. But they are his, I file them separately from mine."

I contemplate this, lying snuggled against her. "I think neither of us died by accident, although goodness knows who arranges such things, it's too perfectly fitting. But yes, I can use that schema. Even if it leaves me currently two days old."

She snickers at that. "Us newborns gotta stick together."

That gets a "Nyarr" of agreement from Paige. And snickers from Jet. "If we got Petra back, we'd have the whole died and came back club here."

I sigh, "Yeah I read about her adventures over in Italy. I hope she's okay."

"She will be", Sara says, "after a good long rest. And I will be leaning on the management to not interrupt that rest."

I give her a from-behind hug approvingly. "I hope to meet her some day."

The part of me that's keeping track of time now, nudges me that supper's on. And it seems Sara has one too, as she says, "Alright, you scurvy crew, let's pack up and ship out to the mess hall. Up you get, Paige, I want to stand up." After a few token kitty complaining noises, Sara is freed to stand, and wanders over to her desk, where she pulls out a hidden drawer from a part that looked just like a bit of decoration. And removes an old looking book, offering it to me. "I'd like you to try reading this. Take it slow, stop if it isn't feeling right, don't push."

"Lots of lube" Jet teases, which makes all of us crack up and Sara give her a playful swat with a tentacle.

We're all still snickering and exchanging teases when we get to the Crystal Hall. I get food and grab my usual seat.

"Looks like you lot had fun", says Billie, seeing us all grinning.

"Jet thinks you read with your, ahem", I explain.

"Bah!" Jet sticks her tongue out, which looks strange in matt black. "I'm gifted, you're boringly human."

"Working on it."

Billie laughs. "Okay, this feels almost like term time again. Speaking of which, Jules, Parallel, have you picked a job to apply for yet? Also, name or codename?"

"Name among friends, I think." I say. "I haven't, I have no clue what I'd be good at. What job needs warpers?"

Billie shakes her head. "Nah, see, that's the classic mistake. Gee, I have powers, what job needs someone who can fly and throw plasma? None of them, but the library needed someone who could follow instructions and shelve books."

Jet adds, "Jade uses powers in hers, but not exactly in flashy ways. Try looking for what suits you. Oneesan won't admit it, but she likes the calm and quiet."

I nod. "Really good point. Well, I like books, Billie perhaps you could see if there's another opening at the library? Then you could be my senpai."

Billie laughs, "Don't you start too. Sure, I'll ask."

"I was planning to head over there and check it out tomorrow", I say.

"Which is good, because I'm going to be in ARC", Sara adds. "See how much you can cram learn before the madhouse gets back and it's too busy to think. Focus on physics and maths, hmm?"

Getting homework from Sara is much more endearing than it sounds. And honestly, I have this *thirst* for information. "I will", I agree.

She smiles. "And the one I lent you should do for tonight."

---

Sara's book, when I look inside it, turns out to be written in incomprehensible squiggles and runes. But she has put something inside the front cover. A handwritten booklet in a small notepad. I open that.

"Dear Jules. Here's something substantial, don't expect to pick it up quickly, in fact, it may not be safe to. To read it, first you'll need to know basic R'Lyehian runes. There's actually way more than this and they combine, but this will get you reading and you can bring ones you don't know to me."

And onward with pages of grammar, vocabulary...

Okay, I want to lightly bop her over the head for what feels like a near prank level of learning curve, "should do for tonight" my foot. But maybe she knows I'm capable? Well, let's push myself. Perfect recall plus parallel comprehension equals...

A short while later, burning the midnight oil, I can translate the cover title. "The Black Book of Shub-Niggurath, and the Scriptures of Gothmog". I can translate the runes on the last page of the notebook, too, Sara's graceful hand showing in their careful construction. "I recommend starting with daddy's book, the other one might be a little sharp edged for you yet." Minx.

---

**4th January, 2007, Whateley**

Well, upside, I think I've discovered how to sleep in parallel and get a good night's rest after staying up to 4 AM. Downside, twisty alien dreams are no more restful when indulged in on multiple simultaneous threads. Although I think Sara was in some of them, mitigating the worst of it. And some of it was *nice*, in an extremely polymorphous-perverse way. Yes, I've woken up with a tent pole. This may complicate showering. Ayla, wherever you are, I feel your pain.

Showering is, indeed, troublesome. I decide to brazen it out, me and my pyjamas and towel. There's a couple of girls here already I don't know and I get eloquent WTF looks from them, as well as Billie doing the Spock eyebrow raise. Yeah I'd told her but I guess it didn't stick, or has more impact in person.

"Well, if you aren't going to ogle like Ayla, I guess it takes all sorts", Billie concedes. And I'm not. Not after the night I had, this counts as tame.

Scrubbed and dripping, I decide to try a very short teleport to get the water off. It feels like hard mental work to describe myself in such precise detail that I can exclude the water. Something about thinking in R'Lyehian half the night helps though, and, pop, I'm dry. Nice to know. No such thing as a red flag day in the showers.

A few minutes later, dressed and at least half-decent, I'm knocking on Billie's door. "Come in", she says, and I peek and step in. "Hey there, Jules. Nice trick, that teleport. You were facing the other way, but for a moment there you left behind a perfect water sculpture. Damned impressive."

"I have no idea why I don't leave behind a me-shaped hard vacuum and make a bang like a really big balloon", I admit.

"Powers are weird. Tell me about it. So was there anything in particular you wanted?"

"Mhm, library opening hours."

Turns out the library opens at ten, closes at five on weekends and recess. Billie and I will head over after breakfast. Which, when I get there, is the usual chaotic affair, although I see new faces, students are starting to trickle back in.

Sara's there with a cute grey-faced Labrador, briefly. I hug and join her as she puts the empty cage down, and try out my skills to say, slowly, "h' ah vulgtmnah lw'nafhnah yah'or'nanah... uh, if I pronounced that right"

She claps happily, "Got it nearly right. Yes, it is. Good work."

Okay, the others are looking at me oddly. "Uh, I said good morning. Well, technically, I said, it's a good young day, I don't know the word for morning."

"Could you not where other people might be listening", winces Billie. "That language has echoes."

"No pleasing some people", I tease. "I won't make a habit of it, I was just showing teacher here I did my homework."

"I get the weirdest nostalgic feeling when I hear it", Jet admits. "But I think we broke Paige."

Said catgirl un-glazes, "Uh sorry, I was getting translations, and it messes with my head. Yeah, best to not use that language out loud if you don't have to. I know people joke about Latin, but that one you really can accidentally summon demons."

"I'd send them back, dear", says Sara.

---

The library, all but empty this early, is filled with silence that seems barely altered by Billie's quiet conversation with the head librarian, Miss Henderson, who seems to run the place solo over recess. I hang back and look around. Damn but the place is big. I am going to enjoy this, job or not.

Billie comes back over to me. She looks anguished. "I'm really sorry. She said no, there isn't the budget. It sucks."

"Eh, it happens. Thank you for trying." She nods, and goes back to get started on her work.

Math and physics, didn't Sara say? Over there, then. Starting with the real beginner stuff, my previous life didn't bother with it after high school and although I've got some strong intuitions now, they need systematized.

Let's play. How fast can I see a page and remember it? I think I can move my head faster now, and my eyes. Careful with the pages so they don't tear, it may be easier to fan the book with my thumb. And then scatter page images to threads to un-distort, break into text and equations, another gang to align, integrate and analyse, fork off to chew difficult concepts and rejoin when they're understood, run problems to test my understanding... done book one. Whee. I know basic math. Bite me, Keanu Reeves.

After maybe five minutes of reading like Johnny Five, I cover arithmetic, basic geometry, algebra, pre-calculus, and calculus. After that it starts getting specialist. Well, I guess I'll just chew through them in Dewey Decimal order.

Not so simple, alas. I quickly run into books that need stuff I don't have yet. It would help to have a reading order, but you get those from classes, which won't start yet for a week or so. I decide it would be simplest to just re-shelve and mentally track the ones I can't use yet, I'll pull them back off the to-do list when I know the prerequisites.

I'm grinding my way through advanced topology when someone taps me on the shoulder. A girl, not somebody I know. "Hi, Parallel, right? Could you come with me for a moment?" Now I know in retrospect that should be ringing alarm bells, come with her for what? To where? Who even is she? But I'm still packing away the last couple pages of algebraic graph theory, and I blame that distraction for me just saying "Sure", shelving the book and following.

To where, turns out to be one of the benches on the quad outside. Chosen, I think, to avoid any suggestion of impropriety. For what, turns out to be meeting the man I saw earlier in a foul mood, who I'm now hazarding a guess is Reverend Englund. Oh dear. I had better be careful what I admit to knowing, this me hasn't met him yet. And he definitely doesn't get to hear what I've been reading.

He stands. "Miss Parallel, good morning", offers his hand to shake, which I do.

"Uh, hi, how can I help you?" All knowledge of him is buried on deeper threads, the one up front is innocent of such things.

"I'm Reverend Englund, I wanted to take a minute to welcome you to Whateley, and perhaps speak to you about a couple of things. I'm sorry I wasn't here earlier when you arrived, I've been to and fro with some business in New York."

"Well, it's nice to meet you, I take it you're staff here? What was it you wanted to speak to me about?"

"I need to speak to you about your associates, specifically miss Sara Waite." Yes, I notice what he doesn't confirm there.

"Mhm, she's been a good friend to me", and a lover and a tutor, which he doesn't need to know at all.

"Did she mention she's an actual demon? I imagine she made it sound fluffy and perhaps a bit enticing?"

"She did mention, yes", even my surface thread is a bit annoyed by this line of questioning.

"I believe a terrible mistake was made when you were put in her care, just because she happened to find you first. The school administration doesn't take her nature seriously. She's an actual demon, from hell." (No, you idiot, she's a larval great old one. And my *friend*.) "I fear for your soul, child. I fear she will corrupt and ensnare you. But I believe I've found a way to protect you from her wiles. If you'd just sign me up as your guardian, for the long term, rather than on a temporary basis..."

I interrupt him, "Thank you for the offer and for your care for my soul, but no thank you. Sara is my friend, and I trust her."

He sighs. "She is a danger to you and everyone in this school, and even if Elizabeth refuses to accept it, I cannot step aside from my duty."

I take a step back from him, because that sounds like the excuse making before an attack. "To whatever extent it's possible, she is under my protection, I pledge my life to it." Bold of me to challenge him to his face, but I am seriously annoyed. "I believe we're done here." Asshole.

He doesn't stop me as I turn away. But, from her telepathic tap, a certain somebody says "witnessed", with the mental image of a grin. I send back the image of being bopped on the head with a newspaper, which gets a giggle. "I meant it" I say. "I know", is her reply. Very clever, miss Solo.

Back in the library, I fret about lost time. And a silly idea comes to me, remembering my shenanigans yesterday morning. I only have one physical me, but if I stutter the warp really quickly, faster than the eye's refresh rate, and keep pushing the books up a bit and catching them before they've fallen more than a fraction of a millimeter...

Two books, three, four, five... I top out at six but it's like a wonderful dance as I'm simultaneously speed-learning, re-shelving, picking up the next. Oh my goodness b a n d w i d t h. Back when I was a human, too much at one time would overwhelm me. This is clearly not the case any more, but some of my autistic nature remains, I hyperfocus hard. I pretty much have to, with perhaps thousands of parallels stretched like I'm trying to drink the ocean. Topology, done. Analysis, gone in a five minute orgy of simultaneous reading. Geometry, chomp. Numerical analysis, how tasty. I'm getting started on probability and statistics when I hear "ahem".

It's a measure of how much I have going on that it takes a couple of seconds to pack myself down to human enough to shelve the books I was reading and respond. It's Miss Henderson. She is, pointedly, not looking at me. Oops.

"While I value diligent study, my apologies, could you please *not* do that." She looks at me now that I'm a bit more human. "I've already had one student vomit explosively, which is unfortunately difficult to clean out of the carpet." Come to think of it, that was a smell I'd been ignoring. "She said, and I quote, that you were inhaling the entire math section like some elder abomination. Not a gentle analysis, but perhaps... accurate. I got a bare glimpse myself, and have a migraine to show for it. One book at a time, please, from now on. Unless you have made special arrangements. Which may be possible in term time, but not while I'm short staffed."

"Um, I'm sorry, Miss Henderson."

"Don't be, dear, I could see you were enjoying yourself. Selves. Please, carry on." She hurries off, perhaps for an appointment with a darkened room and a dampened forehead cloth. Oops, I am really making friends today.

It takes me until lunchtime to finish probability.

At lunch, it's me, Paige, and Billie. Sara's evidently still out, and Jet's guarding her. I end up grabbing almost as much munchies as Billie normally does, which gets raised eyebrows.

Billie asks, "so how did you get along?"

"Well, I read the math section."

"What stuff did you learn?"

"All of it. Well, unless there's books out on loan. Or in the two-missile-keys area."

Paige looks a bit impressed. "The entire math section?"

"And understood it. Would have been more, but it seems humans bug out if you're warping to read six at once."

Billie says, "There's well over a thousand books in there. Some seriously esoteric stuff."

"Give me a page and a book, and I'll read it back. Or a problem in any of the topics."

I can see the two of them are a bit taken aback. "Wow", says Billie. "Seconded", says Paige. And she adds, "I'm liking the growth rate here. Feels like you're going to be quite something when you're done coming into your powers."

I snicker. "Hardly started yet. I figure I'm going to be able to work with synthetic powers too. Not mutations, stuff I've learned how to do, parts of my mind regular folks can't access, strung together in unconventional ways, serial and parallel, blend that with warping and porting. For example, I can already see some mathematical tie-ins for that alien language I was learning last night."

"So much for the human species, alas I knew them", Billie teases.

"Sara is going to fucking love having someone she can geek with", Paige says. "Perhaps the two of them might be so busy inventing new notations they forget to eat the world."

I would throw my food at her, but I'm going to eat it. I must have dissipated enough energy to heat a small village through a blizzard. This may be school cafeteria food, which means bulk and tolerable, but it is still the most wonderful thing I've eaten. Got your new lose-weight-fast diet right here, just blast-learn an entire academic subject in a morning. Damn, this is going to make me dream in equations.

I say, "I figure, I'm going to test out of the basics before classes start. That way, I can stuff my schedule with the interesting things."

Billie looks thoughtful. "I guess you can do math, science, comp sci, geography, anything where reading the book gives you all the answers. Might be harder for anything where there's more to it than the textbook. English, for example. History, although you'd be well placed to do the thinking, you'd still need to actually do it."

Paige adds, "computers, the textbook gives you almost nothing. You could balance a b-tree, but could you write a secure network service?"

"I think I was a programmer, so perhaps?" I say. "But I get it. A heap of book larnin' doesn't equal comprehension or experience. So I might have to take a few of the regular classes."

"There you go, human again", Billie puts out her tongue. Which makes me giggle.

"Human with a fair head-start, at least", I haggle.

"Conceded."

After lunch, I go for physics. Annoyingly, the beginner textbooks seem to be arranged in historical order; who needs to know Newton if his laws are obsolete? To which the answer is clearly, me. I need the shared culture, and it might be on the test. At least the math is easy.

After my six at once stunt, one book at a time feels almost lazy. So I spend some simultaneous time thinking about my earlier encounter. First off, lesson learned, the only reason I didn't get jumped was because the enemy was trying to be nice, that's a mite humiliating. Situational awareness, yo. Secondly, I sincerely doubt the Rev has shelved his cunning plan, since it ticks too many of his boxes, which means he's either going to look for an arm to twist, or outright clobber me and drag me off for a coerced signature. Unfortunately, high regeneration is not my friend in that situation. Nor is my low exemplar rating going to count for a hill of beans if he picks a high-rater, which he will, he almost certainly has access to my powers ratings. I can probably track and warp around a speedster, but hitting back would be hard unless I want to go the "broken arm, don't care" route. Bearing in mind my martial arts skill is functionally nil. And I have exactly no idea what happens to my shiny new mind if he has a powers nullifier. Am I non-physical enough to shrug it off like Billie? Or would it cut me off in one brain? I don't even think most of my mind would fit in there, any more. Might affect me like a stroke. Ugh.

Feeling troubled, I pause reading (I'm working my way through 532, fluid dynamics), and send a gentle poke to Sara through her tap. "Not to jog your elbow, but got a minute?"

"Of course. What is it?"

She can probably see, but wants it in my own words. "I just have this really strong feeling the Rev isn't done with me. That trick with becoming my Guardian. The head would give it up to him in a hot minute, if it looked legit. I really need to find someone who won't. Or else, I fear he's going to try something desperate. He wants to drag me away from you."

"And I couldn't take it, because he'd claim I wasn't an adult. And proving otherwise would stir another nest of hornets."

I send agreement. "I could try Paige's adoptive folks, but they don't even know me yet."

"They'd like you, I think, but they might be a bit rough-and-tumble. Paige can handle herself in a fight."

"And I'm a wet noodle. I'll learn, being who I am now, but not fast enough."

"I'll give it some thought. I'll bring you to ARC tomorrow. Donna is a possibility."

"Ask her, please. I've only seen her in text, but I know she's nice. Anyone you love I am just going to assume is awesome."

I get amused agreement back. "I'll do that. Meanwhile look for Billie, shadow her, maybe give some freebie help. She can keep you safe."

"Doing that now, thank you, have a good afternoon."

I get up, and start looking around. Which is why I don't notice the tranquillizer dart in my ass until the pain hits. I poke the tap, "uh, help!", and I'm falling.
Last Edit: 9 months 4 weeks ago by JulesMorrison. Reason: Fixed typo, wrote Paige, meant Petra.
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10 months 1 week ago - 10 months 1 week ago #67326 by JulesMorrison
JulesMorrison replied the topic: Parallels
### Part three

Content warning! Contains on camera explicit sex.

**4th January, 2007, location unknown, afternoon**

It turns out that I can think just fine when my physical body is unconscious, but my senses are just blanks. I can talk to Sara too, and fill her in on the situation, as much as I know of it, which is basically nothing. Sure, I can speculate, but...

Sara shushes me, and makes some calls. So Billie and Paige are going to be looking for me, as will Whateley security, and the Medawihla pack will be watching to see if I'm taken off into the woods. She herself will be staying at ARC, but they're bringing over a long range warper so she can jump to wherever they find me. Nice to have a posse.

Being a sense-less nothing in a blank nowhere is bothering me. And then suddenly I'm standing alone in a room, Sara's room. A moment of disorientation, then I understand: she's sending a dream. Even though it feels so very real. I collapse onto the bed, gratefully. Sara steps in from around a corner, and comes over and takes a seat on the edge of the bed beside me. For some reason, I notice her clothes this time, tight jeans and a silly-cute green chibi Cthulhu on a grey shirt.

"Don't let it bother you too much", she suggests. "Your mind is safe, here, and under my protection. We will definitely find your body. Meanwhile it's best if you just relax and let go of what's going on outside."

I nod. "Still scary, though." And sigh feeling happiness compete with my fear as she plays fingers through my hair.

"I'm impressed with your progress today, you know", she says. "Even if it was rudely interrupted by parties unknown. I may have given you a nudge, but you keep putting the effort in."

"I'm beginning to suspect it was a mite more than a nudge", I say, and can't help grinning. "Some people might call that corrupting me, I call it exactly what I wanted."

She sees what I'm thinking. "Oho, so you figured that out already, hmm? Yes, I did spark that potential in you, although to begin with it was only potential." I'm lying there on the bed beside her and she plays a fingertip, and scratchy-sharp claw over my stomach where the dream of a uniform has ridden up. "And you're feeding it what it needs. Much faster than I suspected you would, in fact. Don't think you know all of math, yet, but I might start you on the R'Lyehian stuff soon. It will help you stretch your wings. But", and without anything obviously changing, she's now wearing a black silk slip and nothing else, "there's a hunger you haven't been feeding yet, at all, have you?"

I'm taken aback, it must show on my face. "Eh, yeah. I want it but... Something always gets in the way."

And she's reaching *inside* me with that clawed fingertip pressing down into my belly, somehow touching my "gut" emotions with it, I guess the dream is letting her play with metaphors. "This tangle", she says, moves the finger, "and this one, are from your old life, rejecting your old body and its unwanted sexuality. You don't need them any more." I feel her grab and pull, and something changes, and there's this black squirming thing in her hand thrashing around like an angry insect, which she eats with evident enjoyment, crunch crunch. "There, all out."

"You are simultaneously the most creepy and the most wonderful", I say. "Tease." And I really just want to touch her now, and I want her to touch me. "You know, I was thinking about lust. Like, it's wanting to join with the other person, isn't it? Wanting to be one, to exist for the other and self together, with no distinction, so it's the same thing as love, really, the same note in a lower octave." I'm naked. I have no idea when I got naked. The warm room is comfortable on my skin. My hands touch her hips and lift, silk bunching on my fingertips, she lifts her arms and settles down beside me, so I can lift the black material over her beautiful dark red hair, and onto the floor it falls. "I think you're trying to distract me. I think it's working."

"Hush you", she says and her lips meet mine with soft pressure. "Theory later, practise now." Her tongue and mine play, and she pulls me closer so I can feel her pressing against me, warm smooth skin against mine. Parallels sparking to feel every touch in detail, my smaller breasts pressed against her larger ones. Feeling like every nerve is connected to down *there*. Her tongue growing longer, sliding down my throat as tentacles slip from her back to join her hands caressing me. I reach and switch off a couple of reflexes, can't suffocate in a dream, don't need to gag. Instead I welcome her inside there as my fingers are seeking to find her own inside, stroking over the curve of her ass and over soft inner thigh, and she opens to let me stroke soft, liquid lips. Her fingers find mine at the same time. Somehow, she knows just perfectly how to avoid any harm with those claws of hers, while teasing me with a little fear. I know she could easily rip into me. I place my absolute trust in her. Even press against the sharp tips a little, it hurts, but I don't hate the hurting.

Touching me there is also touching the root of my... other part. And that is rubbing soft circles against her belly as we grapple. All of it together is filling me with this liquid need that ripples like rising waves of light. And now, something of hers is pressing against me, I haven't felt anything there before except that physical exam earlier and this is so completely different. If I didn't have my throat full of tentacle-tongue I'd be begging her, yes, please, push it in. But then, you can hear my thoughts, can't you Sara beloved, and in it goes. I'm full, in a way I never knew I needed so badly. So full, I'm drinking in sensation like I was drinking in data earlier, joy spread over hundreds of parallel witness selves, all of me is so caught up as she presses into me again and again that my own hands flop onto the bed and grasp silky sheets that slip through my fingers. Something's rushing in. Wave, bigger wave, tsunami. I arch like a bow and she holds me there, time compressed, light flooding through an infinity of me, there is no edge between us but light. And slowly, it fades back to merely impossibly lovely, and her tongue slides back from my throat letting me gasp for the first time in minutes (hours? years?). And I fall back onto the bed.

If I were Jet, I'd be a puddle. All of me just basks. And twitches.

"There", she says satisfied with her work. "Much better." Which causes me to have an unstoppable giggle fit, curled up there, as content as several thousand cats who have all got the cream, snickering fit to bust.

She curls up beside me. "You were right though, it is the same as love. All the kinds that aren't, are just distortions. If it doesn't exist alongside love, part of you is blocked up. Which isn't the case for either of us. I love you, silly cutie who fell into my life just two days ago. You know I'm not exclusive with anyone, but you're in the inner circle now. My family, my beloved."

"My beloved", I echo. "My teacher, my protector, my protectee, my best friend. This silly mess I'm in which I am just barely remembering again, will not divide us. Family forever."

"Forever, if you want?" She's squirming down the bed a bit to put her head level with my hips.

"Forever, I want" I agree. And she puts her sharp teeth against the skin of my inner thigh and bites, I feel teeth piece skin, it hurts, I let it hurt. Tracing connections forming in ways my deepest parallels can see, we are permanently one thing, Sara and I.

"Where no nosy eyes will see it", she says, licking a trickle of my blood off dark lips. "It will have appeared there, on your physical body."

"I kind of wish I could go around wearing it proudly for the world to see", I grumble. "But you're right. Safety first, blah blah." Which makes her giggle.

Annoyingly, I get an alert. My physical senses are starting to come back up, which means I need to pay attention over there. She squirms back up beside me and holds my hand in the dream. Touch is returning, over there, I block out some pain. Hearing coming back. Smells musty here.

"...don't know how the hell she managed it, but it's a kicked hornet's nest out there. We're never going to be able to move her. You're sure she isn't wearing a wire?" Female voice.

"You know it's not my speciality. But she reads a blank on every scanner I have." Male voice.

"This was supposed to be so simple. Dart. Damper. Scare her a good one. Sign on the dotted line. Bob's her uncle. And now we are going to be lucky if we get our... whoops, she's awake." She turns to address me. "Hello dear, welcome back to the world of the living. I'm red, he's blue. You're in trouble."

Takes me a moment to coordinate speech, but I'm also poking at my powers, and finding them blocked but in a very physical way, I wonder if I can work around that. I open my eyes, but it doesn't help, they've got me blindfolded. I cough. "Sounds... sounds to me, like the ones in trouble aren't me." (Sara's relaying to the others, "somewhere on the underground levels. On campus. Yes, look for blind spots. I'm headed over to see if I can track her in person.")

"Which of us is tied up at our mercy?" asks the guy. Jerk.

"Which of us is cooped up in the campus underground, with the hue and cry raised above, and the terrier-men already starting to dig?" I counter. This gets me slapped across the face, hard. I can feel the bruising and pulled muscle getting better. "Ooh, hit me harder why don't you?" Not that I like being injured but I'd be surprised if they can put any damage on me I can't take back off.

"I will gut you, bitch", female voice. "I don't care if you can regenerate it, I can keep cutting."

"Fancy yourself the good guys, hmm?" They'll wonder how I know that. "Aren't you worried the screams will be heard?" Sound... sonar... I make a loud click with my tongue, like maybe they think I'm tutting, but it's something I read about once, a way to hear the shape of the room. My parallels chew on the echoes.

"It's soundproof, idiot", the guy says. Big, rectangular, cluttered soundproof room. Door at one end. I relay that.

"We are the good guys", says the girl. "You just picked the wrong crowd to hang with, but we can show you better, after you sign. There is a hidden spiritual war being fought here, against the forces of evil. It's not your fault, but you got dropped right in the lap of the enemy."

"You're coercive, small minded, muscle brained, bigoted assholes. The smallest particle of Sara is worth a million of you. Not signing on any line dotted or otherwise. Go fuck yourselves with a jack-hammer."

I hear the scary tsching of a knife being unsheathed. Yes, she deliberately made that noise against the sheath. I thought that only existed in cartoons. "Go ahead", I goad, "Do it. Gut me, bitch, but check your proximity monitor first."

"Shit", the guy's voice, after a moment's pause. "Large group of signals, closing. We need to cut our losses, Red."

"Damn that demon bitch. This is not over, freshthing. Blue, bolthole."

Don't interrupt your enemy when they're running in a rout. "Bye bye. Laters. Toodleoo."

Two sets of footsteps, leaving. Now to stretch myself a bit. Do powers have to be physical to work? Sara's do not. Maybe...

And I'm sitting in the air ten feet from a chair draped in clothes, buck naked with my hands released from behind my back to let me do a clumsy break-fall. Ouch, twisted finger, that will take ooh, five seconds to pop back into its socket and stop hurting. I'm standing up as the door's busted in. "Hello, the cavalry." And Sara runs over to me and pulls me into a hug.

It's a minute or so later that I realise all the bashful looks and talking to the wall beside me suggest I probably should put my clothes back on. Sara is amused.

---

The debrief is tedious. I describe what I heard several times. I know who they were, I even recognized the girl's voice, but I'm keeping that little secret between me and the gang - besides, I couldn't prove it. The security guy questioning me isn't a fool, so he wonders how I got out of the still running warp damper they had clamped around my ankle. It must have glitched, I lie. It was working fine, but I'm not going to tell them that and allow them to infer rather more about me than I'd like to make public just yet. Sara refuses to leave my side, or the bench immediately outside the room when they insist on seeing me solo. How did I relay things to her? She's telepathic, I assert. Yeah, I know that telepaths can't usually do that, but as far as they know I'm a newborn frosh with my ears still wet and can't be expected to make fine distinctions.

Eventually, we are let go. Billie and Jet join us, Paige is back in her room and a bit unsafe to be around, she went full furry after the crisis had passed. The four of us head to Sara's room, the physical one this time. Yes, they bodyguard me in pretty unsubtle ways as we walk over there. Conversation, by unspoken agreement, is kept for later.

Later arrives once Sara has rotated her room out of the normal world.

I start. "Well hi everyone, I'm back."

Sara gives me a tentacle noogie for that. "We noticed, silly. But welcome back."

"We are *so* not letting you out of our sight again, not even if you wanna poop", says Billie. "You're gonna hate us by this time tomorrow." But she's grinning. "A nice fast escape though, and if I don't miss my guess, you used a few more powers than they know about."

"Could have used them earlier, but I wanted them to leave, didn't want to provoke a fight", I agree. "Besides, the being knocked unconscious bit had its upsides." Shared grin with Sara. I decide to flop back onto the bed, to rest my purely psychosomatic aches, as well as, well, relive recent memories.

Billie raises an eyebrow at that. I pull up my skirt and show off my new mark. Billie doesn't know where to look for a moment and it's so cute. "One more for your collection, huh Sara", she says with a sigh.

I nod, "And proud of it."

Jet teases, "you've got all of me, don't be jealous", which makes Billie give her the stink eye and the rest of us giggle.

"Okay, so, plans", I say. "I can't spend the rest of my school days being escorted to the damn loo. Not to mention that I doubt the good reverend has exhausted his list of cunning plans at outright kidnap. Like maybe a tame judge? I need to put this idiocy to bed. Permanently."

"You're coming to ARC with me tomorrow morning", Sara says. "His influence doesn't reach there, and you can meet Donna. I think you will like each other." She smirks at a thought. "You'll like their library, too."

My interest must have shown on my face, as the rest of them dissolve into giggles. Billie says, "Hell, they probably won't mind if you read it six at a time."

"Oh, I don't plan to stay as low as six", I tease. "Maybe I can figure a way to pull parallels out to physicality, and then I can do *lots*."

Even Billie boggles a bit at the thought of what that might mean. "I don't understand how you can assimilate so much at once. Just the idea makes my head ache."

I try to explain it. "There's lots of me. Hundreds, thousands, as many as I choose to reach for, essentially. I think they're unrealized parallel selves. So I call them parallels. They aren't really separate people, more like other threads of myself. We maintain shared scratch space between us, kind of like write-once-keep-forever eidetic memory. We share out the work of reading, and what's understood by one is accessible by all. And it seems, most of my working mind is there now. The part in my body is almost an afterthought. We keep figuring new ways to use the ability. Like, and this is a secret please, I can work my warper powers from a non-physical basis. I teleported myself while the body's physical mutant abilities were shut right down. While I was physically unconscious, I..." And I look at Sara. "I've guessed, and Sara confirmed it, it seems I'm developing towards something similar to what she is. Not any more human. A Great Old One. As an endpoint, but I don't know how long it will take."

"Depends on what you call done", Sara says. "You keep throwing out the curve, but", she ponders. "At the present rate you'll be something we'd recognize as one of ours, perhaps in a month or two. Of a very rudimentary sort. And then it would be a matter of growing. Of course you'll alarm the humans long before that, if you don't hide it a bit better."

"Dun wanna", I grumble. "I do not feel like expending vast amounts of effort to pretend to be something I'm not. Did that last life, done it, stale. I want to grow and stretch my wings wide, and if they see me, I can live with that."

"Oh this is going to be fun, like the Kimbas needed another eldritch abomination world eater", Billie tease-complains. "We are going to be so popular."

Which makes me giggle. "Not gonna eat the world. I like it. My friends live there, and like it. Gonna protect it. I think Sara and I share that feeling very much." Herself nods agreement. "Besides, it's fun."

---

Crystal hall delivers, in unusual circumstances. Which we're able to convince them apply. We eat in Sara's room, sitting around on beanbags (no crumbs on the bed!). Eventually, I manage to convince Billie that I'd best stay over with Sara tonight. They'd both be great at protection, but I want to talk to Sara about stuff. Once it's clear some of that is sex stuff, a blushing Billie quickly agrees she'd rather not be involved. Jet's staying. So we break up after supper. Billie goes to Poe, explains things to Mrs Horton, and fetches my pyjamas and book. Then she heads back, alone.

Lying on Sara's bed, I sigh. "Just one day until Jade's back for her."

Jet floats down and lands beside me, holds my hand. "Thank you. You know, you've brightened up her last couple of days. You're a good friend to my oneesan."

I sit up and give her a hug. "Glad I could, she deserves it. And give yourself a break, hmm? Ironically there's only one of you. I know you want to look after her, too." Which makes her laugh.

Sara sits beside us, puts an arm about both. "So, Jules, you were gonna talk about stuff."

I nod. "Easy stuff first. This room, when I was in it before, it was the same room, wasn't it? Not a copy, not a dream trick. Real there, real here."

Sara chuckles. "Mhm! Yes, you could feel that, could you?"

"Somehow", I admit. "I'm an abject beginner at soul-ish stuff, but somehow."

She grins. "This room was always weird, but when daddy remade it, he was playing a bit of a prank on the stuffier science types here. It's an embodiment of the unity of physical and soul stuff. It's a physical room that works by soul rules. It's a room you can dream in, that feels physical. For me, an ideal staging ground. For you, perhaps something you can play with, as well as in."

I nod, and yawn without meaning to. "Pardon me."

Sara tips her head to the side. "Oho. Us no-sleep types forget sometimes, but you're completely bushed, aren't you? It's been a long day for you."

"I hadn't noticed it until now, but... yeah, I am" I sigh.

The room light dims to a bare glimmer. "Well, it lets me properly use something I hadn't expected to be anything more than a curiosity." And she's singing. Beautifully. In R'Lyehian. I translate... "Sleep, young one, the star is hidden behind stone, mother watches your dreams, all shall return when shadows leave..." I lose the thread, but the feeling of comfort remains as I sleep.
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10 months 1 week ago #67347 by JulesMorrison
JulesMorrison replied the topic: Parallels
### Part four

**4th January, 2007, Whateley, night**

Last night, when I dreamed, it all just happened as it normally does, uncontrollably, but on more threads. But tonight I find I'm lucid even as Sara's gentle singing is fading from my ability to hear. I can see hypnogogic flashes give way to the seeds of dreams, the day's experiences jostling to be reviewed. Each twist and thread is picked up by my parallels.

We review my joy at the rush of learning, and a lot of what I learned. We experience again the stomach drop of being caught by that dart and having bare seconds to flash a conscious warning. The relief and tension of being trapped in a conscious mind with an unconscious body. Sara, wonderful Sara, and our too short time together there. That, we luxuriate in remembering. The mark is there to be felt, and we can feel love through it. We feel again our loss at being pulled away from her, the comfort she gave, cold terror in the dark, and defiance, and the knowledge we could be hurt badly, and the rush and schadenfreude of leading the hunt to the kidnappers even as they gloated. Joy at reunion. Friendship, and acceptance, as we explained ourselves, and then determination, to show our nature openly.

It feels like, so much intensity would have overwhelmed a normal mind and all piled up into nightmares. But I'm already done, it's sorted, reviewed, to be taken up and looked over at leisure. That took one hour five minutes thirty one seconds and change.

And here I am, lucid in my minds, maybe I can play?

We spend awhile constructing worlds of beauty and strangeness, and diving into them. We fly with whales under a purple sky, and swim through ancient drowned cities with warper geometry. We parse and consider the runes and notes of Sara's lullaby song, and the mathematical relationships they imply.

A thought occurs. There's something I'd like to try. If Sara's room exists as dream and matter both, can I return to it? Not a copy, the actual thing.

I find that I can reach for it, but rather than respond it's passing the request forward - and suddenly I'm there again, sitting on the bed, Sara beside me.

"Well, hello there", she smiles, looking around, and I know she sees further than the confines of the room. "Yes, you're welcome to borrow my room if I'm not busy in it. Nice dream shaping, I can feel how much control you've gained."

"Some silly bunch of people forced me to face how much control I have, when the body's mind is unconscious", I say. "I wonder if they realised they were helping train a newborn eldritch abomination?"

She laughs. "Not yet, but if you really are going to be open about it, they will."

"I still want to", I say. "But I'm okay being tactical about how far, how fast. I want to be a bit ahead of what I reveal."

She nods. "That's just good sense. Besides, any newborn ability takes practise and experience to refine. You can't call it real until then."

"There's something I wanted to try", I say. "What you told me about this room implies it should be possible."

"Physical multiplicity?" Talking to a genius saves time. "Go ahead, I want to see this." With a grin.

When I dream in this room, it feels like the physical world, my parallels are "in me" and the room is "out there" and solidly real. That's the resistance I need to practise against - I can already put myself into regular dreams. Just outright trying here does nothing.

Instead, I turn my attention inward. There are parts of me that have directly interacted with soul stuff. When I felt the mark connect. When I saw Sara eating. That isn't an easy level of me to reach at all. But slowly, connections grow as I concentrate. I can "see" Sara and me there. We're both huge, not body shaped at all, and she's much bigger. And the room, there, feels like a... pet? Snuggling up against Sara and looking at me. It's only a metaphor, but I do what feels like offering it my hand to sniff. I can feel Sara give it a go-ahead nudge. It responds, sniffs, nuzzles my hand. I get a feeling of friendship. And then I can see inside, how it works. Only a flash, before I'm overwhelmed and have to pull more parallels down to this hard to reach level to back me up. Another flash... got it. Inside it's all flows and movement but its essential nature feels mathematical, and we can get a grasp on it. I wonder if the physical world is like this too? And I can see that it's thinking, making choices, what is and isn't part of the illusion of physicality? I can feel it supporting our dream bodies. I can feel its pride and caring for its charges.

"May I make another?" I ask.

Assent.

And there's a second me. Looking at me and Sara sat on the bed as we both break into grins.

"Oh, nice work indeed", she says.

We sit beside her and give her a hug from both sides. "This definitely works here", I say. "Not sure about out there", I also say.

"If nothing else, it's practise", she says. "And I can imagine other fun uses for it." Saying that, she leads the two of me up onto the bed, crawling up on it, then lounging like a very relaxed cat. "Come and snuggle. There was sex stuff you were gonna ask me. Might be easier in here, I can sense you aren't quite used to Jet being around."

I decide to make my uniform vanish, and the two of me snuggle up against her, naked skin against her silk.

"Yeah, I'm not sure where my boundaries are with her. With you, it's easy, I have none. So... hunger, you said, before we were rudely interrupted, earlier."

"Two hungers, yes. For information, and for sex, which is a kind of information."

"Because you sparked me?"

"You're my lineage, in a way. So you pick up my lust domain, a bit. As well as my living things focus."

I consider that. "Does that make you my mommy?"

Which amuses her a lot. "Aww! Sure why not." And she ruffles the hair on one of me affectionately. "Such a cute kid."

I grin, and both of me snuggle up close to her. "Because that would suit me, you know. Although I know I'm shopping around for a guardian, no reason I can't have two mommies."

She nods, "seems entirely valid to me", and giggles some more. "I'm just imagining their faces. Oh hi, I'm now a baby great old one, I have more than one physical body and as many minds as I please. I already ate your entire library. Donna's my guardian and Sara, who I'm fucking, is my mommy too. Do I need a powers re-test?"

We all three lie there unable to stop giggling for quite a long time.

**5th January, 2007, Whateley**

Waking is slow and luxurious. For both of me. Okay, I hadn't expected that, but there are two of me on the bed, physically. It carried over from the dream. Okay, let's see if I can stretch a little. A third me pops into form. And disappears, and pops up on the other side of the room. So I don't have to be nearby. Two copies disappear, leaving one me.

"Well, well, look who's up and feeling her oats" Sara teases from over at her desk.

"Oh, you are going to make Jade so jealous", says Jet. "Good morning sleepy head. Good timing, breakfast's soon."

I teleport me over to them and give both of them hugs. "Hey there, you two. Paige isn't around?"

"She'll be over in a minute", Sara says. "I was keeping the room quiet while you were asleep. Bathroom's that way."

It seems that her room makes an en-suite when asked. I pet the stone wall, "thanks, Sara. And thanks, room."

Teleporting out of my pyjamas is effective but lazy. Oh my goodness, a proper bathtub, and it's big enough to lie down in! I know what I'm doing this morning. I giggle at a naughty thought, and then there's two of me, and we both climb in as the water fills.

---

We arrive at Crystal Hall a little later than we probably should. I've vanished one of me - I'm being careful to keep the original just in case, but spend the walk over getting teased by Paige for making out with myself in the bath. I wasn't, I was just practising and seeing what it felt like. Meh. I can make out with myself if I want to.

Billie is halfway done with her enormous meal. "Hey there you lot, what kept you?" which results in Paige and Jet taking turns to exaggerate the juicy details. And Billie going from very confused, to incredulous, to blushing. "Yes, yes, enough already, save it, jeez. Jules, you really can make other bodies?" So I make one and I go and get food while I'm still sat there. Billie just gives me a WTF face. "Whoa, seriously, you are going to break the scale on powers."

"Takes one to know one", I tease as the other me puts the tray down in front of me, puts her tongue out, and vanishes.

"Where do they come from, where do they vanish to?", she asks. "Aren't you breaking a whole heap of physics?"

"Not created, just added", I say. "The rules of a system only cover transformations of what's there, not insertions. Likewise taking them away. I think if I don't annoy the physical world, it'll keep letting me get away with it."

"I have no idea what would annoy the laws of physics and don't wanna find out", Billie admits. "Still headed to ARC today?"

I nod. "Stupid powers or not, I need to draw a line under this kidnap nonsense. And perhaps we can get them to re-test me while I'm at it."

Paige says, "Pardon me if I skip that visit. Sara likes it there but I spent enough effort getting out."

"Completely understood", I say. "I'll miss you despite the incessant teasing."

Which makes her evil-laugh and then say, "At least you'll have yourself to play with." And make kissy-faces.

"I'd bop you over the head if it wouldn't give me a fifty kilovolt shock."

"Neener neener." Which makes all of us dissolve in giggles. Also her glowing blue tongue when she sticks it out is adorable. I really *must* figure a way to handle electricity better than just eating the damage and regenerating.

Sara's amused look tells me she caught that thought and approves.

Breakfast is delicious, but soon it's time to go. Sara's trips over to ARC are done by car, when it's not an emergency. The car is waiting by the gates, a shiny black four-door sedan with darkened windows that practically screams "agency" despite being unmarked. It gleams in the weak morning sun. As does the golden hair of the woman leaning against the driver's side. She's dressed in a rather severe suit and "men in black" shades, but that's belied by the tailored cut and the soft, free flowing ponytail. Sara gives her a wave and gets a wave back.

"Doctor Donna Bell, this is Jules, no last name, codename Parallel." We shake hands.

I say, "I've heard good things about you, sorry for interrupting your time with Sara yesterday."

"You have, hmm?", she asks. "Well, I'm pleased to meet someone who Sara likes enough to pay for a very expensive teleport to ride to her rescue. That's a good recommendation."

I wince at that. "I have zilch for money at the moment, but give me a little while and I'll see to it nobody's out of pocket on my behalf. Even if I was very glad to see her."

"Come on you lot, everyone in the car", Sara says. "We've got things to talk about that prying ears shouldn't hear."

Sara and Donna ride up front, Jet and I in the back. As we set off down bumpy country lanes, Donna says, "Okay, countermeasures on, we're as private as we're going to get, what's up?"

"Short summary, Englund's putting his oar in again. You'll understand it a bit more when I go into detail, but he's trying to snatch Jules here out of my influence. Which would not be welcomed by any of the parties. He's already had his Buffy gang kidnap her and try and get her to sign over guardianship."

"Who's her guardian now?" Donna asks.

"The head. Which is the problem, she's holding it lightly and she still trusts him far too much. If he had a signed document in his hand..."

"She'd let him have it."

"Yeah. So, to understand this better, I'm gonna give you the long story."

And for the next hour or so, as we drive, Sara explains how I got here, and my dangerous secret, and my plans and rapid power gains. I chime in to explain that yes I can make more of me, but not in the car, it's too crowded. Jet teases me with gossip of this morning's adventures.

"Well, this is definitely a pickle", Donna admits when she's done hearing it. "It boggles the mind to think that you read about this place, and us, in another world. And yet it's clearly true."

"Boggles me that she just comes here and says hey, Sara, do what you want with me", Jet says. "There's a level of absolute trust in that that even I would find hard. Except for oneesan."

I say, "I have no complaints. Sara knows it, but I came into this world already with a pretty damn serious crush on her. So it's kind of similar. I was already willing to lay my soul at her feet."

"From online stories?"

"Yup. And she saw too, that I kind of don't cling to the being human thing too hard. I like being changed. And wanted to meet her as equals."

"And so you shall, dear", Sara says. "So, Donna, the thing everyone's dancing around is that Jules wants you for her guardian. If you're willing?"

A pause. "That's a lot to ask for a virtual stranger. Do you mind if I take today to get to know you before I answer? I realise you're pressed for time."

"No, that sounds entirely reasonable", I say. "I'm sure you'll decide I'm adorable." She can't see my grin from behind the driver's seat.

"So far, so tolerable", she replies sounding amused. "So other than that, what did you plan to do today?"

"Well, I was tested for powers two days ago, but I've developed a lot since then. I was hoping to trade information from my reading, for a re-test with some control over how much of it gets back to Whateley."

"I think we can do that", she agrees.

"And, well, I might be hoping to raid the library over there. Including, perhaps, the ooky spooky, two missile keys section. With Sara to vet what's safe."

"I definitely can't promise that", Donna says, "but I can pass on the request. It's unusual circumstances, so... Maybe?"

"Thank you", I say. "It's appreciated. Actually, letting me loose in the regular library might be a good way to demonstrate powers. As well as letting me stretch my wings a bit on the newest one."

We're pulling into the driveway. "Many bodies?", Donna asks.

"Yeah", I agree. We've pulled up, so I make four selves outside the car to open everyone's door, chivalrously. Giggling like a silly.

"So far"

"We've"

"Only"

"Tried"

"Single digits" I finish with my original body. The other four vanish. "With enough space, I suspect I could push into triple digits. Only for safe, ordinary books, though."

Donna looks a bit poleaxed. "Okay. Oh I have to show Otto this."

---

A few minutes later, I've met Dr Otto, and the powers testing guys are watching as I walk into the library. Only ordinary books yet, is the rule. Access to the restricted archive is under consideration.

Okay, this is a big library, so if I break into two at each intersection I reach, then split off a body for each subject section, then form a gang there as needed. The original body is staying back with the watching scientist types.

"In three, two, one", that me says, "zero", and the gang in each section starts to thumb fan one book, then two, then several, I'm mostly limited by not reading ahead of myself. I think the body that isn't busy learning must have glazed over a bit because this is pretty intense. The stream dwarfs what I could take in yesterday, and it actually starts to get a bit hard to coordinate so many minds. Subjects flow in. Quite an unusual mix, not your usual academic focus. Quite STEM heavy, biology in particular, but also a lot of sociology, medicine, criminology and law, history and politics. International languages. Plenty of general knowledge, sometimes in surprising depth given the subject. I never expected to be an expert on the construction of steam model railways, but there I am.

And I put the last books back, the knowledge I've absorbed being sorted and integrated as I dismiss unused bodies and finally it's just the one me. My internal clock tells me it took three hours ish.

"Uh, and done, and if someone has food they could point me at I think I would be very grateful."

There's only so long someone can boggle, so the science types are busy at their instruments, and Sara is getting some snuggling with Donna done on a sofa, with Jet floating cross legged nearby, in kinda guarding mode. AKA probably bored off her zero gee tushie.

Sara's the first one to react. "Sure, let's get you to the cafeteria."

Jet adds, "Oh god, are we done? Tell me we are done. Because that was both scary fast and very, very slow."

"We're done", I say. "Definitely done for today, any more would give me indigestion." I'm honestly close to a bit shocky. "I think I'll skip the spooky section this time even if they give me permission."

Sara guides me unresisting through corridors to a simple cafeteria room, asks what I'd like, and goes to get it as I vegetate on a comfy seat. Stuff keeps repeating on me, like too much onion for lunch. Pop, there's mitral valve repair. Bubble, the Riemann hypothesis. Urp.

Thankfully, food helps a lot. I realise the food is, well, was burgers after I'm mostly done with my sixth. "That may have been a bit much. The library, not the burgers. Which I assume were delicious." This makes my companions, who now also include Donna and Dr Otto, laugh.

Dr Otto says, "So, I was able to read just the barest edge of that, and it really was amazing. Not just scanning, but learning and understanding a whole library in a morning. Our instruments and psychic scans couldn't find any connections between the bodies. Nor are they manifested matter. You read as what it feels like, one self with many minds and many bodies that appear and disappear at whim. Not a network, or puppets, or any command-control relationship. The other bodies are indistinguishable from your original to all our instruments, except of course that they were all engaged in doing different things."

Jet asks, "Do you really know the entire thing?"

"Sorta", I say. "I know Tagalog to read, but I've never heard it. I know the instructions for brain surgery, but I've never even seen a brain outside of a formalin jar. I imagine, anything I've learned from books, I could apply it fairly quickly to the actual thing, but there'd still be a period of figuring out what a mitral valve actually looks like, you know? How do I operate the mass spectrometer, how even do I solder a circuit board? And then after that, I'd be at the level of a competent novice, because the experience and trained reflexes wouldn't be there."

Sara adds, "There's stuff it's pointless to read about too, like, I'm sure they have books on chi, but that doesn't mean Parallel can so much as blow out a candle."

I nod. "Or do one pose of the beginner tai chi form right without an instructor. Actual magic books might be an exception to that, but they aren't in the general library, and I wouldn't dare blast read them anyway, in case I got my wires crossed and unleashed a plague of frogs."

"Please, don't", says Dr Otto, causing all of us to giggle.

At last I'm full. And seriously inclined to sleep where I'm sitting. I've got enough spare capacity to task off some parallels to do that while the rest of me is still awake. The sudden improvement in my wakefulness causes several raised eyebrows. "Uh, sorry, part of me is having a relaxing sleep, which I sorely needed. It's just mental fatigue, so I can parcel it out like that."

"Okay, that I envy rather badly", says Dr Otto. "So you don't need to sleep, physically?"

"Well, I've had a lot of fun doing so. But I suppose I could get away with staying awake until the body itself needed a rest."

"Don't be needlessly heroic, dear", Sara says. "We don't know your body's limits, and it would be troublesome to turn yourself into a stumbling mess by pushing them. I believe you should still take an early night, tonight."

"Yes, mom." Which makes the others giggle.

"So, if I accepted your proposal, and you said mom, Sara and I wouldn't know which you meant", Donna teases.

"I'd call you mama, so you could tell."

Donna awws, and comes around and hugs me. "Alright already, I accept. Happy, kiddo?"

"Yes mama!" I grin, and put my head against her shoulder. "Thank you. And let's get the paperwork signed and in front of Mrs Carson. And then I'm safe from the big bad Reverend and his very silly minions."
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10 months 6 days ago #67410 by JulesMorrison
JulesMorrison replied the topic: Parallels
### Part five

**5th January, 2007, ARC, afternoon**

Despite my saying that sleeping my parallels was enough to replenish me, Dr Otto insists on some quiet downtime. Which means me, Sara and Donna in a room, lounging on a big bed together, me as the meat in the sandwich. Jet gets a chance to stand down from guarding for a bit and just do her own thing. Which I suspect may involve getting herself recharged with some of the more friendly staff.

As for me, well, "He's trying to get us to bond, isn't he?" I ask. "I noticed from my reading he's a mite manipulative."

"With the best of intentions", Donna defends her boss.

"Conceded."

"You read about us, too, Sara and I, didn't you?" Donna asks. I can feel she's been holding that in, probably keeping Jet out of the loop.

"Sorry. It feels really intrusive from this side of the world divide. But yes." I pat my belly to indicate what I don't plan to talk about in a room that's probably bugged. "I read it. At the time, I was like, aww, this is so sweet."

"And now?" Sara asks with a smirk.

"Same thing but with more oh my goodness and embarrassed blushing." I smirk back. "Honestly, I'm pretty ridiculously polyamorous. Seeing you two having fun just makes me bouncy and happy you're having a great time."

"We're glad to know it", says Donna. And sighs, "My life is so weird."

Sara says, "Don't I know it."

"Mutual life is weird high five" I say, and we all slap hands and giggle. "This is kind of wonderful. I got two new mothers. The part of me that feels newly young is just squeeing with joy. The fact one of them is also my most beloved, is super awesome. And the fact that you two love each other too, is perfect. Twisty and convoluted but perfect."

"The best kind of perfect", says Sara, lover of all things twisty. Which makes us all giggle.

"Definitely feeling the bonding here", I admit. "Old whats-his-face knows his tricks." Which gets me hugs from both sides. Also tentacle tickled. I grab at said appendage to stop the tickles and Sara lets me catch it, and wraps it around my fingers. "These are so cute. More people should have them."

Donna is blushing hard, staring at my wrapped hand. "I just realized, you read about me... watching..."

I nod. "I read it." Which makes her cover her face, embarrassed. So I tease her by enthusiastically shouting "Yay for tentacle porn!" loud enough that anyone standing guard outside might hear.

Sara completely cracks up. Donna curls up and makes a noise like "uuueee" and so I hug her from behind, which she seems to accept. Soon she's giggling too. And Sara does big spoon around me. With extra tentacles.

Donna says, "I can really pick 'em, can't I? A lust demon and a girl with no shame."

I say, "Seems like good choices to me, mama."

"I gotta say, you could have picked worse", says Sara. "I foresee a happy family."

"A really strange one, the way my newest daughter is developing."

"I figure that's a meal ticket for at least one of us", I say. "I'd lay odds you lot here haven't had a chance to watch a friendly, benevolent volunteer get sparked into something mythos-ish, by someone gentle and caring like Sara who's not going to rush it and turn me into a puddle of goop. That and the info in my head and maybe I'm not flat broke any more."

"You'd win that bet", Donna agrees with a saddened sigh. "Any amount of good people turned to goop, or crazy-ass cultists with the wrong kind of stars behind their eyes. It's clear the both of you are keeping your humanity intact, despite growing in interesting directions. I'm a bit proud, you know?"

"We appreciate it", I say.

---

An hour later, our period of purdah (and much snuggling) is over, we're reunited with Jet, and I spend some time letting Dr Otto run through the stuff I recall reading, organized by my parallels, and pushed up into a surface mind designed (with some help from Sara) to be safe to deep scan. Of course, I leave out people's secrets, where they aren't relevant. I let the doc have a filtered peek into the larger mindscape, although he has to step back from that quickly.

While he's having a calming cup of tea, I raise something I'd been thinking about. "Having read your physics section here, I have some ideas for warper powers stuff I want to try, and in a test lab would be a good place to try them." I explain my ideas.

Soon enough I'm in a largish underground room. ARC doesn't have the vast caverns of Whateley, but their testing room manages to be big enough to have an echo.

"Okay, here goes for the first one", I say. I think I can visualize in four dimensions well enough to unbend space-time around myself, and then use small bends for propulsion. Trying, I find I can sense the bend of gravity and flatten it, and I drift upward gradually, flailing a bit as I start to gradually spin, gradually getting more control as I figure out how to stop and then control my rotation and drift. "Okay, so, it will take me a while not to look like the world's most inexperienced spacewalker, but I think I can use this. Low speed flight and probably low altitude because of temperature and thin air. But it does expand where I can get to. And I can go fast by combining it with teleports." I drift myself in to land, and release myself back into gravity's pull with a thump that drops me on my ass.

Brushing myself off with a grin, I say, "Okay, let's try the refractive shield." In a square of space, I compress up the grid of space itself. It hangs in space looking like a perfectly flat, perfectly silver mirror. Experimentally, I move it around. Change its size. Change its shape. "Somebody toss a ball?" The ball bounces off. "Try something harder?"

After a bit of experimenting, we discover that everything they can throw at it either splatters, bounces, or in the case of lasers, reflects and cuts a hole in the wall. Pretty nice.

"Okay, next up, gravity grenade." I pick up one of the balls that had bounced off my shield, throw it, and in the middle of its arc, just scrunch up the space inside it, and then let it spring back to its normal shape. Whoomph. The ball is scraps and fragments. A tick in the win box for that.

"Discontinuity knife." Over-stretching space in just a very thin line to the point where the grid doesn't even connect any more, I flick that line through the junker car they dragged in for me to test on.

Bright blue flash!

Whoops, that wasn't expected. The car does drop into halves, as I expected, but the cut edges are glowing cherry red and smoking. "Uh, what was that?"

Sara's voice over the intercom, sounding worried, "Cherenkov radiation, I think. Guys, if you would?"

A short period of swearing and murmured numbers, then a technician's voice, "Miss, step quickly away from the car please, and head for the exit lock. Take all your clothes off, and leave them inside the range. I'm afraid you're a bit radioactive."

As the Teletubbies would say, Eh-oh. Without worrying too much about showing my bits, I comply. Rats, I don't have a uniform now.

A couple of minions in white hazmat give me a scrub down with some unpleasant goo and then pressure-wash me. "Go through the other lock door, now, please, miss."

I do that, and am intercepted by nurses who towel me down and stuff me in a hospital gown. "Hold up, people, I'm a regenerator, you don't need to panic."

"We do need to check you", one of them says. "Up on the gurney please." Sara, Donna, Jet, and Dr Otto join us and I'm wheeled off to some medical lab, and poked with needles. Sara holds my hand. I itch all over. My bones itch. Something tickles my neck. My hair is, visibly, growing. Finally, a male doctor comes in and gives me the all clear. I did pick up a very nasty dose of radiation that would have had a regular human already a good way into dying, but my body has shrugged it off. Yay for regen six. That was what was making my hair grow. It has settled down at a sort of neck length mop. And it seems it's still curly, this life around. It continues to be snow white. Whee.

"Okay", says Dr Otto, looking a bit white. "While that one trick works, I would recommend not making use of it any time soon, close to your person, or near anyone you consider to be a friend. Myself, I'm plenty glad for the range shields. That car is going to be unsafe to approach for a year or two."

"I cut the atoms, didn't I?" I say. Oops.

Sara, physicist, nods. "That's what I'd guess. And then the unbalanced charges, loose particles and sliced apart molecules did some rather energetic things. Boom, pretty blue flash."

"On a CERN scale of rather energetic", I agree. "Not my finest hour."

"Upside", Sara says, "If trouble does go down, you can swing a stick as big as Tennyo."

"Upside slash downside", I say. "Uh, can we avoid that little bit getting back to Whateley? I'd like if they didn't put 'shoot first and keep shooting' on my MID."

"Hmm... We'll leave it off the report", says Dr Otto. "But if you wave it around the next time you get jumped by some bully, it will be noticed. Security there aren't stupid. Those gravity grenades would be messily lethal if you used them on a human too. Pick your targets carefully. Consider looking for a less lethal weapon. As well as one less likely to put bystanders into hospital." Or the morgue, he doesn't say.

"Perhaps I can get Chaka to teach me to wave around a rolled newspaper", I joke glumly, feeling a bit drained. Donna, bless her, comes in with a set of panties, a sports bra, and ARC-branded sweats that seem about my size. So now I'm not hanging my bits out in the wind. I'm not shy, but it's chilly.

"I think we should get you back to Whateley", Donna says, seeing my condition. "But Otto, if you can advance her anything? I think we should stop over with Miss Rogers for an emergency fitting."

"I believe that can be arranged. She's due payment for information already received. Well, kid, welcome to the ARC family." Dr Otto says. "I feel it's going to be an eventful partnership. I'll ring ahead so she's ready for your arrival."

---

I let myself sleep, physically, on the trip. No shenanigans, just rest, with dreams in which I play danmaku mass destruction with entirely too many voodoo wolves, who all look like Hello Kitty in various pastel colours, and headmistress Carson keeps shouting at me to stop irradiating her school. I could tinker, but I don't, I let it wash over me. The body needs its downtime.

Jet nudges me awake as we pull into a rustic small town. It's dark out, and a light snow dusts through the car's headlights. "Dunwich", she says. "We're pretty much here. You doing okay?"

I stretch a bit, as far as the car's admittedly high roof allows. "Yeah, just tired. I felt this way the first couple of days, it's just my regeneration wanting to finish the job."

Jet nods. "I know the feeling. Gonna be hungry at supper too."

"Yeah, I hope they already have the horse roasting, because I could eat one", which makes her giggle. And my stomach gurgle, embarrassingly.

We pull up outside a shop with a small sign, Rogers' Fabric Boutique. Sara turns around and asks, "You going to be okay until we get back to Whateley, or shall I go run for a small sack of burgers from the local McHorse while you get measured up?" And since that makes my stomach gurgle again, she grins sharp-toothed, "sack o' burgers it is." I'm fairly sure my blush is lighting up the car.

We're still giggling when Jet, Donna and I push the door with a musical ding from the bell. Miss Rogers is there, and I've read enough about her to recognise her on sight. Clearly, she's expecting us. "Good evening, ladies. Weren't there four of you?"

Donna says, "Sara went to fetch some food for our regenerator here, who has had an interesting day."

Miss Rogers nods, like that makes perfect sense. "Alright, Parallel, did I get that right? Mhm, good. If you could just step into the alcove over there, and follow instructions?" I do the strip-and-pose dance for the laser scanner. And then I'm done and dressed again.

Miss Rogers says, "So, Dr Otto explained your situation, that you basically have no clothes at all except the ones you're standing in. And he also gave me a rather generous tab, to make you up what you're likely to need at Whateley. Am I correct?"

I nod. "No clothes except pyjamas, yes."

"Except pyjamas. Fair enough, although I'll also give you a few of those. We'll begin with the uniform."

I personally feel Whateley uniforms are dull, a very severe black and white theme, unimaginative skirt, blouse, blazer and tie, white socks, black shoes, but I suspect that's intentional. Draw the eye away from, rather than towards the students who might be floating an inch off the floor or have glittering amethyst eyes. Still, as cloth flies onto the dummy that does its best to be a clone of me, I recognise that it can be done merely adequately, or genuinely well. This is the latter.

In seconds, the uniform complete with underwear is ready and floating towards me. I make a second body in front of me, naked, and catch it. Causing Miss Rogers to startle a little. Yes, that was deliberate, heh.

I go into the cubby-hole to get dressed, while outside I explain "I could copy the clothes too, but I didn't want to create a heap of discards, sorry about flashing everyone."

"You could perfectly well have put the copy in the changing room", says Donna, who is not stupid. "Or vanished the discards, little miss hussy."

"I could, but it wouldn't have been as funny", I admit with a grin. "Sorry, I was teasing you, Miss Rogers. There's one of me but I have as many bodies as I like. So I can model all the outfits at once. Sort of a before and after show."

She sees the funny side. "It's not as if I haven't seen people naked, dear."

Dressed, I step out in my new gear, and from the other side of the room, look myself over. "Whee, nice", it makes me look not just girl but *girl* with an emphasis. I have to admit, in retrospective comparison, the freebie I was wearing this morning hung on me like a gunny sack. This beauty hugs curves, and yet moves freely. The me wearing it does poses to show it off. Which makes for a room full of giggling people.

We run through uniform (lightly armoured) a winter coat (long, warm, waterproof, rather heavily armoured), casual clothes (white jeans, sneakers, socks and a few colours of plain fitted tee shirt), pyjamas (silk), and lingerie (also silk). Miss Rogers declares a halt for the evening. More formal attire to follow by delivery. If I want knock-'em-dead party gear, I'll have to come back for that myself later. And besides, the room has become a little crowded.

Sara's back! Yay. And she has food, which I have four stomachs too many for right now. Cue chorus gurgling, oh dear oh dear. I let her see the other me's posing, then put the bodies away, and the clothes fold themselves and stack up on a counter.

"That was spectacular, dear", Sara says, handing the now singular, sweats clad me her paper bag. "Let's get back in the car and you can eat on the way, though, because I have a troubled feeling and I really think we should get moving. Cecilia, I hate to appear and vanish. I swear I'll be back to greet you properly."

"Of course dear, should I call Whateley security?", Miss Rogers asks. Clearly not one to fluster in a crisis.

"Nothing actionable for them yet. But maybe giving them a heads-up wouldn't hurt", Sara agrees. "We'll be coming in hot, if nothing else I'd like open gates to drive through. Donna, I know I don't technically have a license with my name on it, but I have speedster reflexes and I see in the dark."

"Wheel's yours." Donna says. "I'll take shotgun and call it in to ARC."

We load up my packages, I give Miss Rogers a hug goodbye, and we're off.
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10 months 5 days ago - 10 months 5 days ago #67428 by JulesMorrison
JulesMorrison replied the topic: Parallels
Content warning! Contains on camera explicit sex.

### Part six

**5th January, 2007, road outside Dunwich, evening**

It turns out Donna's oh-so-agency car doesn't quite match up to the one in "men in black", but it does do a fair impression of KITT, with Sara as Michael Knight driving it at a speed that country roads were not meant for, with all the lights out. I think if any police radar us, they'll faint.

Bounced around in the back, alas, burgers really aren't on the menu. Instead, blind to the outside, I concentrate on trying out a sense I'd begun to grasp earlier when I was flying. As a warper I can feel the curvature of space. Therefore, I can feel gravity. Therefore, perhaps I can sense the gravitic shape of things around me?

Gradually, I start to make out masscons. I can feel the hills, and the stone and caves in them. I can feel the heavy asphalt of the road, snaking and thrashing as we blast along it. I can feel something big, high up, keeping pace, following us and closing. Oops.

"Sara, bogey behind us and high above. A hundred meters long, heavyweight. They're running us down."

Give her credit, she doesn't ask how I know. "Ten minutes to Whateley. I can't go faster without bouncing off the verge."

"They'll catch us in two."

"Shit!"

We're diving into the edge of the thick forest that surrounds Whateley's estate. The road snakes through it, unlit, and we're a black comet hurtling down it, but our pursuer is relentless.

There's no way that slow gain is their limit. "They're herding us", I say. We're well away from prying eyes.

White light stabs down, spotlighting our mad flight, and in desperation I fling a copy body out beside the car into the woods, trying to brake in mid air with my flight. Tree! Blackness.

---

Some indefinable time after, I find myself sat on the bed in Sara's room, with Sara and Donna. I'm unconscious, then. And so are they? Sara's crying black tears. I move over and hug her.

"No, don't you dare comfort me, I failed you." She shrugs me off.

I refuse to be pushed away and hug her again. "Failed how?"

"They've got me and Jet locked down under a spell. Donna, you're in a hypnotic trance. Security will find us when we don't report in, we'll be okay. But you, Jules, beloved, I am so sorry. I couldn't save you. They took your brain."

Not my best day, then. "Run that Star Trek plot line by me again, who took my brain and how am I alive?"

"Mi-go. Aliens. It's something they can do, take a brain and keep it alive in a jar. They took off with it and I can't follow them, Jules, I don't have a starship. I failed you."

I'm shivering. Donna comes up behind me with a hug. "Sara, when I copy my body, I use the existing one as a template, atom for atom. I can't copy a de-brained body, and I can't copy a disembodied brain. Shit, I am in so much trouble. I don't want to dismiss my last copy, I have no idea if I could even find my way back to the right physical world from this dream. Or what I would copy to do it."

"You may have to", Sara says. "I know how they think. I'm sure they're working to a contract. Someone has paid them to fetch your brain, and that someone plans to pick through it without asking nicely. There's information we can't allow to escape. Not just what you remember reading, but the existence of your old world, with all the other stories you never reached. Without mutants, they're defenceless. You may have to vanish your last copy and stay over with me, here, for a while, until I can figure how to return you to the physical."

"We don't have to make that decision yet", Donna says. "Gather as much information as you can, Jules. If we find who is behind this, I swear we will upturn heaven and earth to nail their hide to the wall. And the US government does have embassies to the mi-go. ARC might be able to persuade them to negotiate."

"They don't break contracts", Sara says. "If we can't snatch it back, they will complete the delivery before considering any ambassadorial request. By which time it will be too late."

Meanwhile I'm thinking, if I'm a brain in a jar, maybe I'm not unconscious, just disconnected from my inputs. I don't have physical senses, but I do still have powers.

And the shape of a starship resolves itself around me, in masscons. "Sara, I can see the ship, gravity sensing. I can kill it, with discontinuity knife. Probably fry every life-form aboard."

She sighs. "And yourself with it. Don't do it yet, but it may come to that. At least now we can make their lives unpleasant and short."

Speaking of unpleasant and short, I can feel a masscon the size of a person approaching me. My vision suddenly flicks on. I relay it to Sara and Donna by forming a screen in the room. There's a man there in a dumb-ass moulded resin Skeletor mask. Sara hisses. "Uncle Darrow!." My hearing comes on.

"Hello in there, miss Parallel, or do you prefer Jules?" Smarmy fuck of an uncle you have, Sara. He holds up a mirror. "You are seeing through this camera, and hearing through this microphone. You, I am afraid, are over in that jar." Yup. Brain. In a jar. Hi, me. "When I choose, I may permit you to speak. I advise you to be polite. We are going to discuss why my precogs think you are so dangerous to my enterprise."

And somewhere else, I open my eyes. Uh, wait. eyes? Dark. Stars. Branches. And quiet schadenfreude fills me.

He pushes the button to let me talk. "You've made three mistakes", I say. Catch his curiosity. I want him to know this.

"Do tell", he says, amused. Like fricking Blofeld. Idiot.

"One. Witnesses. Who know your face, and are seeing what I'm seeing."

"I don't now how that's possible, but do go on."

"Two, you didn't get all of my bodies." Yeah he looks confused. "Not quite up to date with my latest power set? Allow me a demonstration then. Because, three, I may be a brain in a jar but my powers are *fully intact*."

I love that oh shit face he makes.

And I let loose a gravity grenade in his lower intestine. Eww, goop on the lens. As he's rather satisfyingly trying to scream without diaphragm pressure and stuff his shredded outards back in, I start the discontinuity knife chewing at the ship. He's trying to gabble something, probably a spell, as the knife passes the chamber I'm in, blue light like an arc weld from under the door, and my vision fills with radiation sparkles. Nauseating migraine bites me, but I hang on to complete the cut, right down the lateral. Snaffle my brain, will you?

And then I dismiss my original body, and the pain just stops.

Somewhere in the darkness of space, a tin can full of dying, irradiated creatures separates silently, slowly into halves.

I don't know if Charles Darrow managed to pull his cookies out of the fire at the last minute, but wherever he is right now he can't be comfortable. Which will do for now. A tired, famished, muddy, all but naked me lifts up above the treeline, finds the road and the car by gravity sensing, teleports, and drops down beside a silent, dark vehicle. I pull the ofuda paper off Sara and Jet (with a stick, I'm not an idiot) and release them, and Sara lifts Donna's hypnosis with a gesture. And we all hug, and I strip out of the branch-shredded sweats and dress in the school uniform, and I eat the burgers, which are cold but delicious. And Donna drives us back to Whateley, at a sedate pace, with the lights on.

**6th January, 2007, Whateley**

I wake from a night of comfort and snuggles, into my room in Poe. Somebody's moved my new stuff in. Me, I was a log. A herd of elephants could have come through. There's a letter on the desk. Lazily, I make another me to go read it while this me stays in bed. It's handwritten in blue ballpoint, a feminine but readable hand.

"Jules, love, I've already seen the Head and explained what happened, and she's signed over the guardianship. So that silly business is finished, and we're official, daughter. She understands you went through some rather concentrated horror, and had to dismiss your original body. So you'll be assigned to a psychotherapist as a matter of priority, expect an appointment today. ARC is picking up your scholarship, so you are no longer under an obligation to seek a job, but I do recommend it anyway. Meanwhile, rest, meet people, be young again. With love, your newly official mama, Donna Bell"

There's a second letter stuffed into the envelope, Sara's writing and in R'Lyehian runes. "Don't mention the knife. Or that rather nicely placed grenade. They get picky about such things. See you at breakfast. Love you forever. This message will self destruct." Which it does when I read that last "be destroyed" rune (in the enactive grammatical form), immediately falling to dust. Heh.

Showering is nice. I got a quick one in last night, but that was really only to get the worst of the mud (and dried blood, I hit that tree hard) off. But this lets me finally feel really pore deep clean. Even if it is still bothering me that I don't have my original body any more. That was kind of my last physical connection to my old life. I sigh, and let that tension wash down into the drain. Just one more step outside the human. I can handle it.

Billie is happy in the shower, her grin practically lights the place up. "They're all due back today", she tells me when I ask what's got her so bouncy. "Should start to come in some time after breakfast, and we'll have lunch as a team. You are definitely invited. They'll love you."

I tell her thanks with a grin of my own. I'm looking forward to meeting these people I've read about. Even if it will come with some awkward explanations. I teleport myself dry and go to dress. My new school uniform makes me look a bit stunning, although I could probably do with getting my hair done, I look like an adorable urchin with curves.

Billie walks me to breakfast. It's wise to avoid any risk of idiots jumping me, even if I could get drastic on them. I relate my adventures of yesterday. She boggles. "Seriously, they cut your brain out?" I nod. "Okay, you are so going to fit in here." Which makes us both laugh.

They don't quite have a spit-roasted horse for me, but someone must have called ahead and they do have a very large amount of pancakes and bacon and maple syrup (bless America for inventing the sweet-salty breakfast, yum). I grab a spot by Sara, hug her hard enough to make her squeak a bit, and tuck in. She rests a tentacle over my shoulder, which I nuzzle against. I relate yesterday's adventures for Paige, who is impressed too. She got to see a bit of the fuss, as security lit up like a Christmas tree about the point where we were trying to race the mi-go to the bounds of Whateley. Then again, when we limped in, a half hour or so later.

"I think you need to drop the hammer on this uncle of yours, Sara", Paige says. "He's gotten too close to our own."

She nods. "He's mixed up in this business with the weres, too, I'm sure of it. I have enough good reasons to want him safely gone even if it wasn't for last night. I'm not sure how, though. I'll be giving it some thought."

"Council of war on him later, I suggest", I say. "Someplace snoop proof."

She nods. "I'm not sure whether to drag the Kimbas into it."

I say, "Can't hurt to tell them, we already have other things to talk about as a group. They can decide if it's their business, I won't mind if they want to stay out." Which gets nods all around the table.

Billie and I head back to the dorm, but I copy myself and leave with Sara too. Yes, let the rumour mill start, I don't plan to hide my powers, except the violent ones.

I say to Sara, Jet and Paige as we walk down the tunnel to Hawthorne, "I'm going to try and avoid getting trapped like that again, by making sure I keep a few copies out at once."

Jet nods, this is stuff she's had personal experience with, in a way. "One to stay over, hmm? And oneesan doesn't need to be lonely, either."

"I plan to catch up on physical world snuggling, too", I say. "Seems unfair you're left out of the dream stuff just because you don't dream."

Back in Poe, I find a note in my room, from Mrs Horton the house mother. "Please report to Schuster Hall for a meeting with your academic adviser at nine. Followed at ten by a meeting with your assigned psychotherapist at the Doyle Medical Center." A bit old fashioned, but perhaps I'll be picking a laptop up now the school term is kicking back off, and then they can email me. Still, looks like I might miss seeing everyone return. Perhaps that's for the best, Billie can break the news, at least the non-classified parts. I head over to tell her where I'll be.

In Sara's room we're all sitting around on beanbags and chatting. Paige gets first call on Sara-snuggling because she's been stuck outside ARC, but Jet is giving me a neck massage, and it feels really good. I must be making slightly obscene noises of happiness, because I get snickered at by Paige. "You really don't have much inhibitions, do you? I liked that stunt you pulled on Cecilia."

"I'm glad she forgave me for it", I admit. "I don't so much have inhibitions as worries about how people will react. But that was too funny to pass up."

"It would be fun to have extra bodies", Jet admits. "We're stuck with things like cloth."

"When you recombine with Jade, you'll have shoggoth powers, won't you", I say. "You can split your mass down. Perhaps hide extra mass somewhere so there's enough for the whole J-team."

Jet pauses her delicious finger pressure, and snickers. "Oh I have the best idea for that. I'll speak to Stephen." And resumes.

"There we go, project multi-body orgy is in the pipeline", I say, which makes her crack up entirely. "Hey, don't stop."

Over in Schuster, the academic adviser I've been assigned is an older woman with slightly greying hair, by the name of Terri Larson. We shake hands. "Good morning", she says, "and my apologies I wasn't able to meet you when you first arrived at Whateley. The headmistress has asked me to take your case as it seems I have experience with a similar one. We received a powers update from ARC late last evening, which I honestly find hard to credit. You really read an entire library?"

I grin. "I plan to do Whateley's library today, if Miss Henderson will let me. Yes, I can read about as fast as my eyes can follow the pages, store the information permanently, understand it in depth, and I can make more bodies to do the same thing in parallel. It's an effort, but not a problem. Which means there are some classes I won't need to take, and others where I'll be taking them for the experiential learning, having already reviewed all the texts."

"Alright, and which classes do you intend to take?"

"All of them that are at all relevant, where there aren't prerequisites I haven't taken."

"And you plan to send a body to each class, despite them piling up on top of each other? Won't that be distracting?"

"Less so than you'd think."

In another place at the same time, I'm watching, rapt, as Sara makes gentle love to Paige. I guess the catgirl really does trust me now. And the rep of the Lovecraft Room for being one unending orgy isn't completely misplaced. Jet's behind me, hugging me and toying with my nipples, and I'm biting my lip at the beauty of it all. Paige, when she gasps and yowls, lights up like something out of Tron. She glows from the inside, and the light gleams off Sara's tentacles. Jet's fingers slip under the waistband of my skirt, and I press into her touch.

In Schuster, I say, "There's some bleed-across, because it's all me, but there's many of me. One of me doesn't distract another." I smirk a little at a particularly lovely caress, which Miss Larson has no idea about. "It makes for very 'you had to be there' moments."

"Yes I can imagine." (No ma'am you cannot.) "Alright, the winter term is a short term and usually consists only of electives. As a late entrant you'd normally be doing catch up classes, but you'll be able to test out of most of those. And I presume take the rest, as well as piling your plate high with electives too."

"That's the plan. And I do need some of those electives. I need flight training for example, that's a new synthetic power I just discovered and haven't dared to try."

"Alright. I'll just go ahead and sign you up for everything you're qualified to take, but I'll be following you closely in the first few days, and I'll insist you drop the more frivolous topics if you show signs of strain."

Elsewhere, I'm straining back against Jet, breathing in gasps, she's got one hand on my boy part and the other strumming underneath it. I can't see Paige any more, but I can see the blue light reflecting off the ceiling. My life and blue light, I think, as the orgasm hits and Sara's room had better be soundproof because I *scream*.

And in Schuster, I bite my lip a little and say, "I think I can handle it."

---

And that's the end of Parallels! But, I plan to dive right in with a sequel picking up immediately after Parallels ends. Please stay tuned for "Interlaced".
Last Edit: 10 months 5 days ago by JulesMorrison. Reason: Content warning
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