"She's waking up."
Annabelle opened her eyes after hearing her own voice. She was in some kind of machine that seemed to be feeding stimulants directly into her brain, which helped her to awaken without feeling drowsy or ill from falling onto the metal floor of whatever building she was in. When she teleported, she was hoping she would see her friends and family in front of her, not an alien planet and someone who looked identical to her calling her "the original". Still, she was on Torra Sev, a planet that she had heard of multiple times growing up by multiple people, and came to a conclusion that this was her home planet.
Yeah, she was born here, but it wasn't "home", not by a long-shot.
As Annabelle tried to register the fact that she was in a strange location talking to an identical copy of herself, minus a hairstyle and eye makeup change, another woman walked into the room and stared her down. Annabelle knew this was the very same woman she saw when she was a teenager, the same one who told her how to teleport, whose information had helped Annie twice now. She realized that this was her only chance she had to get answers she needed, and so she decided she would get any information she needed, and then return to Earth and help Tom and Kelly and all the rest, somehow.
"Yeah. Well you called me A'jhanie last time we talked, like her." Annabelle replied, pointing to her clone, who waved back. "Who is she? Who am I?"
"Yes I know you are a bit confused, there is no doubt there. Most people very rarely wake up in a strange place with no discernible clue how they got there. And even rarer still, to see someone who looks similar to them."
Annabelle sighed. "Well it's happened to me about ten times in my life."
Annabelle looked confused. "Then why not me? Or A'jhanie?"
"Because you are hybrids. Human/Torran hybrids. You, in particular Annabelle, are The Original."
"Why, my original daughter. I am technically your biological mother, Annabelle. Not only that, but you and your sister were the first two children born in the third phase of Project Hybrid."
Something Verena said didn't sit well with Annabelle. Well, everything she said didn't exactly sit well, including her introduction. This bothered her as they walked into the other room. "Wait, how do you know I'm running out of time? How do you know my real name? How do you know all of this?!"
"Young child, I know these things because I'm psychic. Many pure-blooded Torrans have that little feature as well."
"This device was built with a magnetic core that is repelled and connected by that disk-like device you see below you. I cannot move this drone without that disk thing moving, and I cannot change the height of it or alter it's rotation. It's 'tied' to this disk."
John was in the living room with the rest of his family minus Isobelle and Deacon, overlooking the destroyed Vazir drone that Scarlett shot with magic. John, who had taken it apart and put it back together after looking inside it for a few minutes, quickly discovered many things to know about the object, and it's weaknesses, all the while sensing a familiar hint to it.
"Even if the device is shut down or destroyed, it won't fall to the ground, not with that disk holding it."
"Well if you can get through an energy shield surrounding the disk and destroy that, the device's magnetic core will have nothing to tie it to the ground. This will cause the drone to float away into space like a psychotic, metal, weaponized helium balloon."
"Yup." John said. "Now I'm gonna turn this robot back on."
A very large, collective "WHAT?!" spiked the air as everyone aside from John cried the word out at once. John smiled and motioned his hand.
"There's a point to this and I'm sure you're trying to find it." Keera said, half-jokingly.
"How come this is the first I've heard of it then?" Scarlett asked. "You share everything with me."
"I was keeping it a secret from everyone because of what it does. It's a highly advanced AI chip that is capable of mimicking any personality traits of anyone it interacts with. It's a learning computer. I didn't want anyone to know because of what people could do if this chip gets into the wrong hands, like this robot design clearly did."
Tom was slightly confused. "Wait, what are you saying?"
"You 'picked' her?!" Annabelle was still at a loss for words, but forced them to the top anyway. "What do you mean by that?!"
Verena shrugged. "In order to make a Hybrid we needed human DNA. I traveled to Earth about twenty-two of your years ago and saw a single woman driving down the road. I read her mind from a distance and took note of her personality traits. Everything about her seemed suited for raising a child so I used my vessel to abduct her for a few moments, took blood from her, and implanted her with an organic tracking device, sending her back on her way a short time later."
"When I returned, I had my doctors here inject Maria Kethrin's human cells and DNA into my abdomen, as I was pregnant with you, off of my husband Nalrik. The embryo accepted her DNA and it bonded with them before your birth, giving you humanistic traits such as your relatively human eyes as well as your unique abilities. Your pointed ears did not come into the picture until your eighteenth birthday, as did my own daughter, A'jhanie. As was the Custom of Sentimentality, when you were born I cloned you and your sister, kept the clones, and sent the two of you to your mother on Earth. When you arrived, the tracking device within your mother dissolved into her bloodstream."
"So you're saying... Maria Kethrin is related to me biologically, as well? This whole time I thought she was merely my adopted mother."
"Yes, biologically she is your mother, and so am I. So, technically, you have three parents. Like the others."
"You were not the only child born of this third phase of Project Hybrid. Of course you have your twin sister, Isobelle, but there are others, far more others. Some of them were sent to Earth at about the same time as you. Some a few later. All in all there were roughly fifty Hybrids sent, each to their own parents."
"This is amazing. This whole time I thought I was alone on Earth. I have Mirabelle, Isobelle, and Keera but other than that I believed we were the only Aliens. How can I find them, when I get back I mean?"
Verena smiled. Annabelle was taking this news rather well, better than she expected. However after reading her mind, she had seen the things Annabelle had gone through in her life, and believed she was merely desensitized by those events. In regard to her question, she shook her head. "I do not know. They landed all over the planet twenty-one of your Earth Years ago. You can recognize females instantly. All female Torran Hybrids are, by default, visible to their peers via their green skin."
Verena turned to her and nodded positively. "Anything. I am willing to share all I know."
"You said that I was part of the Third Phase of that project. What happened to the other two?"
Verena walked over to the other side of the large room and looked out the window. "That is a sad event in Torran history. Both of them were. Only one Hybrid was created in the first phase, in what syncs with your planet's time period as the 1920's. Her name was Andromeda Roshali. She was raised on Torra Sev for the first twenty years of her life, and we did not tell her why she looked so different from us."
Annabelle felt a sense of familiarity with this. She had a vision of Mary Knight, that villainous woman who used magic to shape-shift into a unicorn and terrorize her. Mary told her that she crash landed on the planet Earth in 1947 and did not know why her companions in the ship looked different from her. Now Annabelle knew. "You tried to send her to Earth in 1947, but her ship crashed, right? She vanished for years."
"Yes. This is true."
Verena looked confused when she turned back to Annabelle. "Really? I did not know this. I did not sense it when I read your mind. I wonder why that is."
"That... is a terrible story." Verena said, and looked out to the rain again. "Back in what you would call the 1970's, we created another Hybrid, born out of a test tube. Over a decade, in Earth time, he spent his life on this planet thinking he was human, because he looked that way. We all thought he was a nice young man, but he wasn't. No, he wasn't."
"He ran into a building that exploded a few seconds later. We searched the rubble but could not find his body, we assumed it was just vaporized."
"It was stolen. The design I mean. I drew up a sketch of it when I was in high school back in 2016, and all it's bells and whistles, and sent it into the patent office. Well my design never got there. I didn't send it via E-mail, by actual mail, and the truck that was carting it was hijacked by some criminals en route. I can only assume those criminals stole my design and sold it to Vu. Maybe they wanted my robot designs specifically, which would mean that someone I knew was respons-"
"Jack." Kelly said, interrupting him. "Jack must have overheard you talking about it when he visited our house, hired the thieves, stole the designs, and gave them to Vu. He was Vu's Benefactor, right? He knew Vu could build the robots, which means he could use them to defend something. ... Oh my God. Jacob Thompson is Jack Toomes!!"
Another loud "WHAT!?!?!" filled the room. Tom especially looked furious. Seeing their reaction, Kelly continued.
"I knew something was up with the remains of Jack from that meteorite, when he was destroyed at the police station. There was a lot of metal pieces which I initially thought were parts of the car he was in, but now I get it: A robot design that was stolen a short time ago from Sunset Valley was used to build an advanced droid that looked and sounded like Jack. Using this, Jack himself escaped, used something to make himself younger, which I assume was your Young Again potion, John, and replaced himself with the android. When the meteorite hit the car that held the fake Jack, everyone thought he was killed, so Jacob could go on living."
"That's why he hated me so much." Tom said. "Annabelle too. We both caused him to get arrested four years ago. Kidnapping Annabelle was part of his revenge. WHERE IS HE?!"
John looked back to the group. "We'll have to find that out. But now that we know who we're dealing with, this mission of ours just got much more serious. Jack Toomes will use that lamp to take over this planet, that was his goal from the very beginning. We HAVE to stop him!"
"I agree." Scarlett said. "And when I get my hands around his neck I'm gonna wring his body dry of blood! NO ONE kidnaps my best friend and gets away with it!!"
"As much as Scarlett is scaring me." Mirabelle said. "I agree with her. Jack Toomes is too dangerous. We may have to... you know... end him. I can't say I haven't thought about it. After all he's done, it's crossed my mind more than once. What about you, Tom?... Tom?"
Everyone looked over to where Tom was to see him gone.
"Where is he?"
"GREETINGS. MY NAME IS MIKE."
"IT IS DERIVED FROM THE NAME OF THE MULTI-INTERFACE KINETIC ETHICS CHIP INSTALLED IN MY PROCESSOR. ALSO I LIKE THAT NAME"
"Oh yeah." Keera said. "That AI chip gives it personality. It's refreshing to see a robot who does not act like a robot."
"MIKE. What was your mission prior to being shut down?" Kelly asked. "Why did you come to our home?"
"Jack?! Why scout our house?"
"TO FIND DEFENSES. TO SCAN HOUSE FOR INTEGRITY. TO IDENTIFY THE QUANTITY OF LIFE FORMS WITHIN. THE REST WILL BE HERE SOON. ETA TWO HOURS."
"The REST?!" Mirabelle yelled out. "As in more of you?!"
"CORRECT. A LOT MORE. IT IS MY ASSUMPTION, AS I WAS SENT ON RECON, THAT THEY ARE COMING TO ELIMINATE ALL THREATS TO THE MISSION OF JACOB THOMPSON. YOU."
"Why did you come to me when I was in Bridgeport? Why did you call me A'jhanie, like the daughter you have?"
"I'm not sure if I could have accepted that." Annabelle replied. "I had my own life on Earth."
"I was sure of this. However while you were here for those few seconds, I was able to scan you, and heal your own injuries from the explosion you were involved in. After sending you back in clothes A'jhanie had, I used your DNA's structure to clone fresh organs for A'jhanie, and she was healed of her disease. She doesn't know about this. She was in cryostasis at the time, still aging but asleep. It's lucky you were brought before us when you did. If she was in there too long, she would have had her hair, eyes, and clothes turn white from the cryo-freeze solution."
"Yes. Could be months, or years. I know you ask because of your twin sister. She was trapped in orbit for ten years, only pulled back to your planet via the use of a device pulling debris from the upper atmosphere. That was part my fault. I should have sent you in the same ship, but my mistake caused the girl you know to think herself different, and to see things for what they really are."
"Why isn't he red? He's supposed to be red." Annabelle thought back to Isobelle's words when they were teenagers, when Isobelle took her to the graveyard to show her Deacon. She complained that Deacon didn't look red to her. Perhaps this is what Verena meant by "seeing things for what they were". Rather than push the subject, Annabelle remembered the whole Eclipse event back on Earth, and decided she had to get home as soon as humanly possible. Verena sensed this and led her silently to the next room, where she opened a large door revealing something to Annie.
"Oh that's awesome."
Tom was despondent. He didn't know what to do. As he stood in Annabelle's room, he remembered things that happened in there. He remembered the two of them forgiving each other after their argument, and smiled as he remembered what happened not long after that. He remembered laughing with Annabelle the next day, and smiling with her, before... that explosion.
Then he remembered her lying on the bed. injured from that explosion, and his confession to her unconscious form that he often wondered what things would have been like had he kissed her in the ruins of the library four years before.
"I'm not sure, really." Tom said. He didn't tell anyone what he saw, Annabelle being shot and probably vaporized by the robots, but Isobelle was smarter than she looked. She noticed his stance, his expressions as he walked into the house. "She might be."
"And on the flipside, what are you truly sure of?"
Isobelle smiled. "That everything will be alright, no matter how it looks."
Isobelle left the room and Tom took her words to heart. With that, he left the room himself, turning off the light. As he walked out, Mirabelle bolted up the stairs and ran towards him. "We have a serious, serious problem."
"Robots, lots of them. They're coming, Tom, and they're going to try and kill us all. We need you downstairs to help defense."
"What can I do?" Isobelle, who was standing nearby, asked. "I don't know anything special, not even any type of magic."
Tom and Mirabelle ran down the stairs and gathered some things for what was to be their first battle of this little war. '
If MIKE was telling the truth', Mirabelle thought, 'then we're in for something fierce.'
A short time later, Annabelle stood in the garage, looking at the pair. She was wearing a spacesuit, the same type A'jhanie had worn, and noticed how incredibly comfortable it was. "Now I see why you wear these. I may keep this as part of my wardrobe back home."
Verena smiled. "Yes. And speaking of home, you should go soon."
"But... I have so many more questions to ask."
Verena walked up to Annabelle, shook her hand and, surprisingly, held her other hand to Annabelle's forehead. Annie didn't know why she was doing this, perhaps it was a way of saying goodbye, but when Verena stepped away Annabelle could sense something was in her mind now, but she couldn't understand what.
A'jhanie walked up to her afterwards. "I placed a tracker in your new ship, so I can see where it is. I figured I could, you know, come and visit you on Earth myself later on down the line, and bring my sister!"
"She did the same when I was sixteen years old. Earth years I mean." She then smiled. "You'll see momentarily."
Annie shrugged, then stepped over to the craft. "Thank you both for your hospitality, and thank you Verena for telling me what I needed to know. Now I just need to learn how to... fly... this." Annabelle walked over to the ship and found herself being teleported into it.
She reached down and looked at her new vessel's controls, and somehow instantly knew what function did what, and how she could get back, including knowledge of Earth's location. Suddenly she knew what Verena did just then: Imparted to her the knowledge of flying this spaceship.
She then pressed a button on the console, and seconds later she and her ship were gone in a flash.
Two Hours Later
"Alright, is everyone familiar with our plan?" Mirabelle asked, looking at everyone, with the exception of John who was preparing things, around her. Seeing as it was a good area with large windows, everyone was standing in a group inside the study room, with Isobelle using said large windows to look out to the city to see if any drones were coming.
Tom then chimed in. "What if they detect the two inside?"
"Don't remind me." Deacon said, upset.
"Great, on time." Keera said, sarcastically.
Using stealth to move across the house and outside it, the main group made their way across the front lawn to the side of the building, then they split into two groups, with MIKE, Mirabelle, Scarlett, and Kelly standing on one side of the house while John, Tom, and Keera stood on the other side. As per their orignal idea, Isobelle and Deacon stood in the garage, due to their injuries and inability to fight.
"Three down, who knows how many to go." Scarlett said, loudly.
"Shh." Replied Kelly. Scarlett looked at her with a confused glance.
"Didn't you just say something? Like 'two down' or something " Kelly asked.
This laser blast, however, alerted the rest of the drones to their presence. Kelly, Mirabelle, Scarlett, and MIKE made their way down the side of the house as the robots turned the corner.
Just as the Vazirs headed down the far corner, everyone who was wielding a magic wand was waiting for them, and a huge flash of light burst out from their respective locations, destroying all the Vazirs at once in a volley of magic.
"Check them, make sure they're all shut down." Tom said. The group did so, and after a few short minutes the all clear was given. Tom, Kelly, MIKE, Keera, Mirabelle, John, and Scarlett congratulated themselves on a job well done and walked back towards the front door... where they were stunned to see even more Vazirs across the street.
"INSIDE!" Deacon yelled out from the garage. "They just popped up out of nowhere!"
"I think they built some kind of local teleportation device in that house!" John yelled out as he ran inside. "We have to find out what it is and shut it down!"
Taking this opportunity, four Vazir drones maneuvered some of themselves across the street to corner Keera. Just as the drones surrounded her... they were all destroyed within seconds.
"Thanks!" Keera yelled out to the group. However she quickly found out that they weren't the one to shoot the drones, but instead something above them did. "Oh great, what now?!"
Keera, recognizing the color scheme of the craft, didn't know whether to be happy or freaked out, as did the rest of them. Then Annabelle smiled as she teleported out of the alien craft, looking at everyone as they stepped outside, who understandably had shocked looks on their faces after seeing her like this.
"The same-old same-old. I teleported to an Alien planet this time, that was kinda new."
"Yeah. I met my birth mother and everything. Can I talk to you about this later? The first thing I want to do is talk to everyone. I've been gone for a couple days, so I'd like a chance to chat. Then I want to find Jack Toomes and shove a laser cannon down his throat and blast his damn-"
Mirabelle quickly interrupted her doppelganger. "No one's been able to find him since he relayed a message across the town. Then again no one's been looking. This town is abandoned, we're all alone."
"Jack threatened everyone." John elaborated. "He said if anyone goes near the graveyard, he'll destroy the town with the meteor device."
"How did he get his hands on that again, anyway?" Kelly asked. "I suppose they just made a new one, because Cambridge told me he still has the one I gave him on lockdow- wait a second. Annabelle, I'm very glad you're back and okay, and you have a spacesuit and spaceship. That's new, and I'd love to chat about it but I have to go. I uh... have to send a message. John, Red, come with me. I could use your expertise on these things."
John and Scarlett nodded and followed her. After they left, the rest of the group went inside, where it was safer. When they were all in, Isobelle smiled as she walked up to Annabelle. "It seems you have some stories to tell.", she said happily. "You've been off on some faraway adventures while we were here fighting some robots. Sounds like a comic book."
"Well if our life was a comic, I'm sure there would be a lot more random explosions for no reason." Tom said, jokingly. "But Annabelle! I am so glad you're back. How did you teleport yourself out of that craziness?!"
"I thought of someone, someone very close to me." She replied. "Someone I care for a whole lot."
Tom, knowing who she was talking about somehow, smiled. "I know, Mrs. Jenkins, our fifth grade teacher. She was nice."
Annabelle smiled back. She wanted to say "No, you." But she figured Tom knew what she meant. Suddenly she looked around and didn't see someone in particular. "Where is Keera?"
"I'm right here." Annabelle looked past Tom and smiled at her daughter, who walked up to her. She was hiding in the corner, not sure what to say. Finally, after a short time, she started to speak. "You're back now, so please..."
"PLEASE! Don't ever leave me again!" Keera replied as she fell into her, crying. Annabelle patted her back lovingly, assuring her that she wasn't going to go anywhere else for a while. The teenager realized right now why she was so angry, because Annabelle was always there in her past to help her, and with her gone, she had no one. Mirabelle was busy with helping everyone learn magic, and everyone else was busy.
Besides, Annabelle was home, and that was all that mattered.
As Keera stepped away from Annabelle's embrace, she turned to Isobelle and Deacon. "I am so sorry for what I said earlier. I really didn't mean anything I was saying."
"Don't worry about it." Deacon said. "I'm sure Izzy and I both have been where you were, and we both can empathize and understand what you were going through."
Keera smiled and turned back to Annabelle, hugging her again. She then walked back inside the house with Isobelle, Deacon, and Tom in tow, the latter going to make sure everything was alright with everyone. Annabelle decided to walk inside as well, followed by Mirabelle who was the only one in the foyer with her."
"I'm glad you're back. Honestly I tried to fill your shoes, to come up with the ideas and plans, but since my creation, I've basically stepped into a different pair of shoes than yours. Besides, that's not the only reason I'm glad. I'm glad you're back because you are the only one I know who can bring this place together, and this family united. Somehow everyone gravitates towards you, and since you were kidnapped, everyone's felt alone and isolated. Welcome back."
"It's good to be back!" Annabelle said, "And you have a robot behind you."
Mirabelle quickly turned around and noticed MIKE hovering behind her. "Oh don't worry. John reprogrammed him. He's good."
"Yeah. He helped us in our battle. His name is MIKE."
"Greetings again, Annabelle Jade Kethrin."
"Correct. I was there when you were captured. I healed your injuries. I replaced your clothing."
"You were the drone that was with Vu. You told Vu about me being half-Alien."
"Half?!" Mirabelle said, shocked. "What do you mean, HALF?!"
"Oh yeah, with all the excitement from arriving back on Earth, I forgot to tell you. Tell everyone to meet me in the living room, I have quite a story to tell."
An hour later, everyone was reeling over Annabelle's story regarding Torrans and Project Hybrid. Mirabelle, who had experienced Annabelle's life up to a certain point, was more shocked than anyone to learn her true origins. Keera was shocked as well, but not as much due to the fact that she herself was a clone. After finishing her story, everyone went to bed, exhausted from their ordeal they just went through. Keera, Mirabelle, Tom, and Kelly all got their sleeping bags and slept in the living room while Annie took the couch, as they all wanted to make sure she was safe and protected.
Three Days to the Solar Eclipse
"Hey there, I have a question that's been bugging me for a bit."
"I may have an answer."
"ANALYZING. ANALYSIS COMPLETE. There are five subjects in my databank that contains information regarding Extraterrestrial Hybrid technology, which I have collected from the people I have interacted with in the past."
Annabelle counted in her head. "Wait... five? That you've met? There's me, Mirabelle, Keera, and Isobelle. Who was the fifth one?"
"ANALYZING. Answer: The fifth Hybrid you speak of is named..."
"Yes, I know Torran biology when I see it, 'A'jhanie'."
"I will then run for President and win, where I will launch an invasion the planet of Torra Sev and steal the technology. With their technology, I can truly build my glorious city within my lifetime, and I will rule it all. My empire will be the most powerful one in history, and then, I will take over this entire planet, and create the first ever Empire of Earth!"
Annabelle heard what MIKE said, and for a split second, everything made sense. Why else would he know about Torrans from the start? Why would he want to take over Earth? He knew about Annabelle, and named Torra Sev, and he knew about Nightmare, as she was the first Hybrid. To that end he knew what to say to manipulate her, lying to her to "know the truth" about their home planet. After all this, Annabelle realized that he was pure evil, and that no human on Earth could be so... alien...
He was the second Hybrid.
"Could you repeat that, please?" Annabelle asked, in shock from this revelation.
"Repeating: The fifth hybrid is named 'Toomes, Jackson', nicknamed 'Jack'."