Sunday, March 10, 2013

Chapter Thirty-Five - So Close, So Far

September 16th, 2022
Four days to the Solar Eclipse

 "No no, you have to move them like this!" Mirabelle made a few motions with her hands, and Scarlett repeated them with her own hands. John, who was Red's "learning buddy" for this round of training, tried to cast a spell but it backfired on him, knocking him back a few inches. Mirabelle shook her head, and then noticed Scarlett was actually repeating the move, and getting something out of the device she was holding. "YES! Like that!" Mirabelle said.

For the whole night, Mirabelle had been trying to teach her family members how to use magic, as she was literally the only one qualified to use it after learning some spells from her encounter with Nightmare nearly five years before. Mirabelle wasn't sure of her own abilities, one of the reasons being that she had only learned a minimal amount of magic before destroying Nightmare's book of spells, but she still powered through this uncertainty due to the simple fact that she had to. In any case, with a wave of her hands, she seemed to be emanating magic without even using a wand, which was good because there wasn't a wand for her at the library a couple nights before. John and Scarlett were also putting on a light show, it seemed.

Annabelle was captured, Jacob Thompson had a device that could destroy cities, and a group of "rather unsavory folks", as Cassie Jones put it, were going to get their hands on a relic possibly capable of reshaping humanity to whatever end.

Like it or not, she could not fail.

  Mirabelle continued to train the two, and while she continued to do so, Kelly was sitting at a computer trying to get into contact with Davis Cambridge. Cambridge told her he was going to assemble a group of police officers to assist the town, but since Jacob's broadcast across the region, he found himself bound by enough red tape to "strangle a Leviathan" as he put it, especially since Sunset Valley itself was mentioned in the broadcast.

With a cold realization, she knew that no help was coming, that everyone in her family was now all alone. She shoved herself away from the computer and walked over to the window, looking out at the cold day. Tom, seeing his cousin upset, walked up to her.

"What's wrong Kel?" Tom asked, "I mean, aside from the obvious?"

Kelly looked at him. "What if we fail? What if we're not strong enough?" Her voice was creaky, as if she was about to start crying. "What will happen to the world if they get a hold of that thing?! I can't figure anything out! And I'm GOOD at figuring things out! I'm best at that!"

"Well that's something we can't figure out, because we can't let it happen." Tom said, with a heroic tone in his voice. "We can never let it happen. We will get Annabelle back, we will stop these villains, and we will save the world. That's something we're probably good at."


"Well we've never done it before. Though I have confidence we'll succeed, Kel. We always do. And I'm since we have the greatest detective on the planet, I know we'll succeed this time."

Kelly smiled at her cousin, and then hugged him. "Thank you." She knew that he was always there for her, any time he needed. She remembered him talking to her after the meteor shower of 2013, right before they moved to Bridgeport. He told her that she was more intelligent than anyone after having solved the mystery behind that, at the time, looked like a random act of nature. That boosted her confidence more than she let on, and ever since then she never let go of those words, and always had them push her into being a great person. Perhaps that was the reason she thanked Tom, not just because of what he had just said, but because of what he's always said.

Meanwhile, Keera was standing upstairs, looking out to the distance. The town was quiet, dark, and eerie, which was a far cry from it's usual hustle and bustle. The night before, Tom did a short recon across town, when he came back he told everyone that people were evacuating, scared of the threatening message Jacob had shown across the region. The military had cleared out to the next town to reconvene and figure out a new plan, enforcing a mandatory evacuation, while the town council moved out early that morning. No one knew what was going to happen, but everyone in the Kethrin house knew, and they were getting prepared to fight it.

A short time later Deacon walked up to Keera, with Isobelle beside him. "Hey."

Keera looked at the two and sighed. She didn't interact much with them for her own personal reasons. She'd heard of what Deacon had done when he lived in Bridgeport, and she was still rather upset with Isobelle for pushing her off the other night when she tried to talk to her, despite Isobelle's apology the other day. "Yeah, what do you two want?"

"Have you heard from Cassie? We've been asking everyone in the house. I'm worried about her."

"Well why didn't you guys go with her?" Keera said with a harsh tone in her voice. Having encountered the person responsible for her scarring twice in one week as well as having her mother kidnapped didn't exactly leave her with a happy mood. "She left town because at least one of us had to go, but you could have left too. Maybe that would have been better, can you two even fight?"

"I know she can." Deacon said. "I'm not sure about myself."

"Oh really? Does her fighting technique involve being shot in the face? Because if that's the case she's the greatest fighter on the planet! I wasn't kidding just now... you should have left with your sister, Jones. Both of you."

Without any more words, the teenager walked away, not looking back at the two. She did wonder why Deacon and Isobelle let Cassie leave town alone, why they and everyone else hid in the basement so when the military showed up to tell them to leave she tell them she lived alone in the house. Deacon was even injured, he was useless in a fight as far as she was concerned, and Isobelle was too hasty to fight, with the evidence to that literally all over her face.

Still, Keera was worried about what she had just said as deep down, she didn't exactly mean it. In some ways, she respected both of them. They've both had their bad tidings, and both were trying to be redeemed, but the fact that they didn't leave with Cassie, forcing her to be all alone, while themselves having been known to be less than stellar combatants made her upset.

Keera couldn't have gone with her. She wanted to face this whole thing head-on. She was the one who found out about the villains' plans to use the genie lamp and she wanted to be there when the mission was over, no matter what happened to her.

Angered, Keera decided to take a walk down to the beach, coming to the conclusion that maybe splashing herself with seawater could cool her off both literally and figuratively. When she made her way down there, however, she got a surprise in the form of someone walking behind her. Without even turning around, Keera knew who it was.

"What the hell are you doing here?!"


In their bedroom, John and Scarlett cuddled on the bed, a rare event since what was compared to martial law was in effect across town. They both smiled, kissed, whispered sweet-nothings into each other's ears, and talked about their future together, particularly their near future.

"So what will the altar look like?"

"Red roses surrounding it. It's going to be on a red carpet, with a heart-shaped rug below as we kiss. Then we'll go over to the table and cut the cake." John replied. "It will be wonderful, a red-velvet cake for my red-loving wife."

Scarlett smiled. "And then we'll dance, right?"

"We'll dance forever. From sunup to sundown and any time in between. Forever and ever and ever until the end of time. That's how long we'll dance to. Forever."

Considering what was happening, and what was going to happen, John wasn't sure if he was lying to her about this or not.

Scarlett smiled and turned over for a nap. "I hope we can dance for that long. I'll love you for longer than that." As she said this, she drifted off to sleep. John lied down beside her for a few moments, then stood up and walked to his door. Just as he opened it, he saw Tom standing there, about to knock.

"What's wrong?" John asked.

"I need your help."


"Are you following me?!" Keera yelled out, "I can have you arrested for stalking a fourteen year-old!"

"No! It's coincidence! I swear!" Collin said. This was the third time in less than a week that the two met. Admittedly, it looked pretty bad for the man, but he tried to assure her that was not the case. "I was coming down here for a reason. My reason is my own."

"Oh, well then. I'll just leave you to your beach!" Keera snarled. "Though I'm not sure if it's homey enough, can the water explode because of your incompetence? I'm sure that would be juuust right for you!"

"Will you please just listen to me?! I already apologized for what happened? I guess the third time's the charm! I'm sorry! I'm so, so, so sorry for what happened! Every night I go to sleep I see that fire in my dreams, haunting me! Just as I'm sure they haunt you! And every night I try to say to myself that it was just an accident, that I wasn't responsible. However, that's not the case. I know I was responsible for your injury, and I have no idea what to do to say I'm sorry and truly let you know I mean it!"

Keera had a grimace on her face. "You can start by telling me why it was so important for you."


"You left your job at a vulnerable time, leaving a dangerous situation to brew. Why? Why was this basketball game so damned important?!"

"I just... I wanted to go! There wasn't an importance! Nothing to it."

"You're lying!" Keera said. "Something was important to you. It HAD to be! If it didn't mean anything to you, you wouldn't have gone, you wouldn't have left work, and I would still have a whole face!"

Collin sat on the ground. "I don't know."

Keera turned and left, looking back to him once. "If you remember, come find me. ONLY then." After this she walked away angrily, leaving the despondent man to sit there, thinking about what she said to him.


"No. No. No. No. No. No. And guess what? NO! It's too dangerous, Tom!"

"Annabelle didn't get any ill effects from it!" Tom said, "Aside from the whole being split into two people thing. Please, John, let me use the teleporter to go to the graveyard! I can sneak up behind the robots, break in, and grab Annabelle and get out in no time flat!"

"That thing is dangerous!" John said again, emphasizing the "danger" part. "For all I know it could spill your biological structure all over the graveyard. That would certainly surprise the enemy, organs here and there with a skeletal structure to boot!"

"It worked with Annabelle. I would have you just bring her here with it but doesn't seem to be a way to penetrate that dome with any kind of signals, at least that's what I heard."

John looked at Tom with worry. "I can't do this. It's too dangerous. Please don't ask me-"

"John. Please. I know it could hurt me, but I have to do this, for Annabelle, for your sister. Please let me use this teleporter."

John thought this over. If Tom was successful, Annabelle would be back with the family, and everything would fall better into place regarding their mission. However, the dangers of using the teleporter were present, very much so. Still, he had to do something, and Tom wouldn't leave him alone until he did it.

"Okay. Get ready."


Annabelle sat in her cell, waiting for time to pass, when she heard a noise from the other room. She stood up and walked slowly to the window where she saw Jacob, or Jack Toomes, standing in the room adjacent to her own. She couldn't help but smirk when she saw him. His hair was graying and his eyes were getting dark with spots around them, and he was developing wrinkles.

"John told me the untested potion you had stolen from him doesn't long. You really should have had the entire place searched for more complete versions."

Jack looked at her with a grimace. "Good lap dogs are hard to come by these days. Look at the fools I work with now."

"Actually I wouldn't call Vu a 'fool'. Corvan of course, but not Vu. I see him as an intellectual equal, which I don't see with you. Your intelligence compared to mine would best be compared as something you buy in the store." Annabelle then smiled at herself.

"Wonderful, green, perfect, 100 percent-tested brand name items for me, and... dollar-sale bin toys that break after five minutes of use for you."

Jack slammed his hand into the window furiously.

"Okay, okay... six minutes."

Jack angrily walked around the room, looking at her. "You have no idea how long this took to plan, everything I've done, all my accomplishments! All I had to do was read one book, one simple book, and boom, the ideas flew to me like songbirds fly to a tree branch. It was... beautiful. Do you really think I could come up with an idea if I had low intelligence?"

"You know, you're right. Except... I would have come up with the idea sooner, but that's just me. You know, me being smarter than you."  

Jack snarled and walked out of the room, looking forward while continuing to talk. "Soon you will get your comeuppance Annabelle Kethrin. Soon."

"Looking forward to it, Jack As-."

Jack closed the door before Annabelle could finish talking, and she smiled and turned back to the room. She hadn't been treated too terribly while here, perhaps due to that Dr. Vu's intervention on what happened, but she realized she had to escape, she had to do something to get out, so she started pacing the floor, focusing on certain things back home that she really wanted.



"Are you STILL sure you want to go through with this, Tom? I'm not sure if this thing even works, and if it fails it could have horrible consequences."

"Don't worry about me. I activated that tracker you put in my jacket so you can be sure if I teleported there properly, and so far my vitals are correct."

"Okay." John replied. "It's ready. Step onto the teleporter."

Tom looked at John's teleportation device as he walked into it. The last time this thing was used, Annabelle was split into two different people. While it would be helpful to have a new Tom walking around, he didn't feel it was the right thing to have happen at the moment, especially since Annabelle was captured, and she'd presumably freak out if there was another Tom there. Nonetheless, it would be better than the alternative regarding the teleporter malfunctioning.

As this went through his mind, Tom turned around and looked at his friend. "Thank you for doing this. I know I talked you into it, but still, thanks. And if I don't come back, you take care of everyone, okay? You have to."

"I know, but I know you'll be back. You always are. Now go get my sister."

Tom smiled as John pressed the button on the computer console connecting to the teleporter. Seconds later four activation nodes fired up and then a bright white light took Tom, and seconds after that it dissipated revealing nothing. John looked around the room, then back to the computer to see if it worked. According to the computer's monitor, Tom was just outside the graveyard on the far end, and his vitals were perfect.

"YES! YES YES YES!!!" John exclaimed. "Finally, something of mine worked the way it should! Go Tom! WOO!"

Suddenly the entire room turned dark. There was no reason for the power to go out, even by using the device, as it was on it's own circuit. There was nothing for a few seconds before the power turned back on, and John was shocked to see that his computer was back to where it was, without having to even be rebooted.


Tom opened his eyes and realized he was standing not too far outside the massive dome that overtook the graveyard. He was safe from the robots, as they didn't see him from that distance. He was still a half-mile away, and it took him roughly five minutes to reach the graveyard. However just as he got to the dome, an alarm was raised. Tom thought for a few seconds that it was because he was on approach, but to his shock and joy Annabelle came bolting out the mausoleum.


She turned, saw him, and ran towards his location. Tom smiled as he saw Annabelle standing in front of him, with just a few feet of solid concrete and glass between them, but his smile quickly faded as his attention was brought upon the dozens of Vazir drones that surrounded her.

She turned back to him with a horrified expression on her face, and then closed her eyes. Tom watched in horror as the robotic drones charged themselves up and fired all of their lasers right at Annabelle, who vanished into a fiery blaze, with only a black mark on the ground where she stood.

Tom just watched the love of his life vanish into nothingness. Ten minutes passed as he stood there, and then it hit him. With a furious burst of anger, he ran across the ground and used his brute strength to bust open the door leading to the interior of the dome. He rushed past the robots, into the mausoleum, and down the stairs where he saw Vu standing in the main hall.

"I tried to stop her. I tried to warn her-"


"I didn't want her. I wanted YOU!" Vu said, cowering. "I wanted to know what you knew about your parents. That's all. I wanted to know that."

Tom angrily stepped back, his fist still clenching. "I knew nothing about them. They died when I was a toddler! I lost four people I've loved now, one of which was your responsibility!" Tom reared his fist back again to punch, but was stopped cold by Vu's words.

"I don't think she's dead!"


Vu sighed "For the past ten minutes I was watching what happened over and over again. I slowed it down to a thousandth of a second and saw her start to vanish milliseconds before the lasers hit her. You can watch it yourself! I didn't want any of this! Jacob Thompson, he kidnapped her, I protested it as much as I could. I didn't want any of this. I didn't want any of this." stared off blankly as his words kept repeating, trailing off with every sentence.

Tom, realizing the doctor was of no more use, ran out the mausoleum and through the wave of Vazir drones, dodging them again. As Tom made his way back home, somber and cold, he couldn't help but hope that Vu was telling the truth, about seeing Annabelle vanish before the lasers hit her. He then wondered, if Annabelle did vanish, or maybe even teleport, where would she have gone?



As Annabelle continued to pace the floor, she thought of everything she was going to say to Tom when she got back, from admitting her true feelings to getting mad at him for all the jokes he'd made about her looks. She didn't know if she was actually going to say all this but it still helped her to focus. She realized that she needed to focus on what mattered the most to her, specifically Tom and her family back home, if she was going to pull the same trick she did in Bridgeport the last time she was taken by Jack Toomes. She hadn't been able to teleport since then but realized she had to now. Annabelle had to get home, because time was simply running out.

"DAMMIT!" Annabelle said as she punched a wall after realizing that she could not focus on anything at the moment, being so worried about her family and friends and the safety of the entire planet around her.

As she stood where she was, in despair, the lights in the room shut off, as did the lights in the next room. Annabelle stood in place for a few moments before walking over to the door. To her surprise, the door opened with ease, and she simply walked out.

Annabelle quietly moved through the temple, looking at all the devices left around. For some strange reason, the hovering robots were shut off but were still floating above the ground. Annie simply shrugged this off and made her way across the tomb and up the stairs.

 When she found herself back in the air she looked around to an empty town, which took her off guard long enough for the robots to spring back to life and aim themselves at her. Annie backed up into a wall and, seeing as the robots were about to fire their lasers, she quickly remembered what Jack said when she was first kidnapped, about the ring on her finger.

Annabelle took a deep breath and yanked on the ring on her middle finger, and as the villain promised she found herself seconds later back in the room. As Jack promised, the vents in the room started to pump some kind of dangerous toxin into the cell.

Annabelle was prepared for this, holding her breath for a short time, but the poison simply wouldn't leave the room, and there was no way to open the door again. Annabelle stopped holding her breath just as the poison filled the room, and she fell to the ground and passed out.

A few moments later Dr. Vu and Tobias ran into the adjacent room to see what was causing a commotion and saw her lying there, unconscious or possibly even dead.

Worried about her well-being, Vu looked over to his hired mercenary. "Corvan, check her. Make sure she's still breathing."

Corvan vented all the gas out of the room and walked in, wary of the woman lying on the ground. He reached down to check her pulse and received the shock of his life when her foot came up and hit him on the side of the head. Suddenly she jumped to her feet and punched Corvan in the face so hard he started to lose control of his breathing, and he fell back against a wall. Annabelle walked through the door and stared down Vu.

"How did you-"

"Turns out I'm immune to toxins, like nerve gas." Annabelle said, angrily, "Funny thing, I didn't know that, but I had to do something. Now get in that room before I knock you out too and throw you in there, and I don't think you share the same immunity."

Vu didn't say a word, being more of a thinker than a fighter, and walked solemnly into the cell, where Annabelle sealed the door. She took the ring off her finger, as well as the bracelet and choker around her neck, and threw them on the ground before sealing the door shut. "That's better." She said. "Now, how do I get out of here?"

"You don't. I and I alone control the Vazir robots, and you just locked me in here with no way to. You go outside, you will die. Let me out, and I'll shut them down for you."

Annie looked over at him with an aggravated expression. "I'll figure something out, I can't trust you." With those words, Annabelle walked down the hallway back towards the entrance of the tomb. When she reached the exit, she burst out and ran, stopping and saw the Vazir drones closing in on her. Suddenly she heard Tom's voice and turned around to face him. Annabelle smiled, as he did, but his smile fell apart at the seams when he saw the robots quickly surrounding her.

Annabelle turned back to the drones, then back to Tom, with a depressed look on her face. She was lost, she had nowhere to go. With her last thought, she imagined herself with Tom, as they walked away happy from the graveyard, arm in arm.

A flash of red hit her, and there was nothing.


Back home, Tom couldn't bring himself to tell everyone what he saw happen to Annabelle. When they asked, he simply said she wasn't there. This brought sad faces to the group, but Tom realized they would be ever more depressed if he told them what actually happened, and he needed them to be strong, for the world's sake. HE needed to be strong.

 Tom sadly walked into the living room and looked over at a picture of Mirabelle, one that she had taken of herself a few weeks before. Tom found it impossible to look at the picture, or the woman herself, and not see the woman he loved.

By chance, Mirabelle herself walked into the room and looked over at the picture with him. "I had Annabelle take that picture. She told me she was going to get her good side." She laughed, then grew cold, and spoke with a grievous inflection.

"Tom, since I have Annabelle's memories, I know you better than anyone else in this house right now. Annabelle, she's... gone isn't she?"

"I'm not sure." Tom replied, hopeful. "I'm honestly not sure. It would take a lot more than some robots to take Annabelle Jade Kethrin down."

Mirabelle smiled, realizing that the truth, and somehow sensing Annabelle wasn't dead. She decided Tom should tell the family what Tom saw, and turned around. Seconds later, she stammered back behind Tom. "SON OF A-"

Tom quickly turned around and saw a robot, one of the Vazir drones, hovering in front of him and Mirabelle. He told the woman to get back before putting up his fist to face it down. However just as soon as he saw it, the thing exploded and shut down, still hovering in the air for some strange reason. Tom and Mirabelle looked behind the object and saw Scarlett holding her wand.

"Let's get this thing to John. Now." Red said, enraged. "He'll know what to do with it."


 Annabelle opened her eyes. All she could see was a bright light, and it was at this time she thought she was dead. However the pain in her head made her realize that was not the case. She continued to lie there, on a strange floor in a strange room, and finally got the edge to stand up and walk over to a window.

Then she nearly passed out again.

The world around her was an alien, with strange fungi trees and a strange-looking sky, the water nearby was also turquoise colored, with strange steam pouring off of it. Annabelle stumbled back and wondered if she was abducted by Aliens, forgetting for a few seconds that she WAS Alien. It took her a few seconds to think back to her last minutes on Earth, when the robots surrounded her, when she saw Tom, and when she thought of leaving with Tom. That was right before the robots attacked her.

Then it hit her. Back when she was in Bridgeport, she cared so much about Tom that she used a short-lived ability to Teleport, the same one that she was trying to use in her cell about ten minutes before escaping. She must have somehow reactivated this ability and it carried her to this strange, alien world.

As Annie stood in place, she continued to wonder things, such as how long she's been away from Earth, if Earth would even be there if she somehow got back, or if time passed differently at her home than here. As she wondered this, she didn't notice someone standing nearby.

The woman cleared her throat, and Annabelle turned to see... Herself.

"Can I help you?" The other Annabelle said. "I mean, me?"

"Wh-who are you?!"

The other Annabelle, who was wearing some kind of space suit, said "My name's A'jhanie Tozal. You must be The Original. Welcome back to Torra Sev."

"Torra Sev?! I'm on To...Torr.... Torra-" This was too much for Annabelle to bear, and she simply stopped in place, looked at A'jhanie, and passed out. Worried, A'jhanie walked up to her and yelled out into the house.

"Hey mom. You should come in here and see this."


Meanwhile, Cassie Jones made her way across the state and found herself in the town of Sunset Valley, California. After checking into a makeshift shelter for evacuees displaced by the sudden amount of people in exodus from Starlight Shores, she found herself at her bunk bed and lied down on the bottom bunk, passing out for a few seconds. A short time later, the door opened and someone else walked in. Cassie was so tired that she didn't even bat an eye, and lied back down. However, when he started talking to her she was startled, because the person's voice was so familiar to her.

"Awww. I wanted bottom bunk. I came into this room saying 'wow, I'm gonna get the bottom bunk bed. Woo!' but noooooo, I'm stuck with having my face so close to the ceiling I'll be able to French Kiss it."

"Tom?" Cassie stood up and looked at the person in the room, and was surprised to see someone who looked remarkably like Tom, but far younger.

The teenager looked back at her, "No. My name's Gabriel. It's nice to meet you. Can I have bottom bunk?"

Cassie smiled. "Sure! I'll take the top one. By the way It's nice to meet you too, I'm Cassie Jones."

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