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Parallels

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5 days 23 hours ago - 2 hours 4 minutes 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 off camera sex scenes and some future part is likely to have on-camera ones. 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 expected 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: 2 hours 4 minutes ago by JulesMorrison. Reason: Edit the cover blurb.
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2 hours 47 minutes 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 Paige 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.

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