Sunday, August 11, 2013

Chapter Forty - Family Reunions

Three Days Later

"Good morning Starlight Shores! This is J.L. in the morning, finally back to work after a week long impromptu vacation. I'm sure you all know the news but let's get to it anyway, the news that on September 20th of this year a group of people from Alaska saved the city of Starlight Shores. I'm not even kidding on that. While many believe that there was something bigger than just Starlight Shores that was at hand, the heroes have refused to comment." 

"Despite that oddity, everything is going back to normal in this town. Well aside from the fact that we need a new art museum, and a new graveyard since the ones we had were completely destroyed. But luckily the aforementioned Heroes of Starlight Shores told us that they will pay for any damage caused during the week, which was actually turned down by the city council. In any case, the grateful people of the town are giving them a much needed break."

"In other news, police up north in Oregon are baffled by a strange series of attacks that seemed to have focused on groups of livestock across numerous portions of the state. Cattle have been found dead with human-like teeth marks in multiple farms across the eastern portion, and there seems to be a pattern that shows whatever is responsible is heading north."

"A bit odd if you ask me but oh well. I'm not here to discuss oddities, I'm here to play smooth tunes! Here's a classic from 2014, 'The Gray Stone River' by the Green Kings!"

Annabelle shut off the radio and went back to her book, waiting for Cassie to arrive. Cassie had apparently heard from someone Annabelle knew, but wouldn't say who it was or why this person was travelling back to Starlight Shores with her. Apparently the younger sister of Deacon was very much a "SURPRISE!!" person, loving to drop surprises whenever she could, according to Deacon himself. Annabelle had never seen this side of her, but then again she didn't really interact with her much aside from a chat here and there.

Admittedly when Cassie was staying with them for that short time, Annabelle's mind was focused on the minor things, like saving the world. But now that the business with the genie lamp was over, she finally had the chance to sit down, relax, and read a good book.

"The fairy shoots energy from her hands to destroy the monsters? That's not a fairy I've heard of." Annabelle said to herself as she read a novel called 'The Wings of Light', supposedly based on an old legend passed down through the centuries. Suddenly, she heard a knock on the door.

"Can anyone get that?" She asked into the house. "Hello? Anyone?" When there was no response, Annie placed the book on a nearby table and walked to the door, humorously thinking about the one time she opened the door when no one else answered which ended with her finding out she had a clone. As if to tempt fate itself, Annabelle humorously thought to herself 'Well I wonder who the clone is this time'.

Finally reaching for the door handle, she opened it to see a woman wearing all black with her back faced to Annabelle as she looked outside.

"Hey Kid! Nice place you got here!" the woman said as she turned around, revealing herself to be Maria Kethrin, Annabelle and John's mother. Annabelle hadn't seen her mother in nearly a year, as she was over in Monte Vista filming for a new movie. With unbridled joy, the younger Kethrin hugged her mother with a strong embrace.

"I'm so glad you could make it! I thought you weren't gonna be here until next week!"

"Well I took a leave of absence." Maria replied as Annie stepped back to chat. "I wanted to get here as soon as possible after I heard what happened in the graveyard and to see if you alright. Looks like you were hurt pretty bad."

"Yeah it's healled now." Annabelle said regarding the wounds she got when Jack knocked her back into the concrete floor. Her psychological wounds, however, would take a bit longer to heal especially since they were piled on top of the ones she'd gotten in the past.

Before Annie could say this, however, Maria smiled at her with an excited look. "I also wanted to see Mirabelle in person! I heard she's you, but not you! Which is great!"

"That's right." Annabelle replied. "All my memories and personality."
Maria laughed. "Good! Hopefully both of you would do well to remember to call me before you go off on a dangerous mission!", she said half-jokingly. Annabelle sighed, then chuckled a bit herself before hugging her mother again.

"We tried, but we couldn't." Annabelle admitted, "Phones didn't work, and John was too overtaxed to come up with a super-phone to call. Next time though." As they were walking inside, Annabelle turned to Maria. "Hey, remember Isobelle from Sunset Valley, and Deacon from Bridgeport?..."


Meanwhile, Scarlett had awakened from the night's sleep and stood up while stretching her arms out, looking around for John. She was rather confused when she didn't see him, as the two had always made sure to stay in the room until the other had woken up to say good morning to them. It was a system they had and it was very rare it didn't happen.

Scarlett chuckled. "I'll give him this one.", then went to the dresser to find an outfit for herself. Rather than the clothes she'd worn recently, which was her favorite summer outfit, she decided to put on a nice red dress and walked outside to find her fiance.

Eventually she found herself upstairs where she saw John emerge from his makeshift lab in the town. "Hey Johnny!" Red said, "What happened to you this morning?"

John shook his head. He seemed to be a bit worried about something, which Scarlett then thought to herself that he was always worried about something. "Sorry, I've been a little busy. There's some sort of... anomaly thing in my teleporter's log. I can show you if-"

Scarlett smiled. "Nah, you go on with what you need to do. I'm gonna head downstairs and get a bite to eat. Talk to you later!"

John hugged her and smiled. "I love you, with my red heart." When she replied the same way, he let go and walked back into the lab. Scarlett then stretched again and walked downstairs where she saw Deacon and Isobelle cuddling on the sofa.


"Hey you two lovebirds!" She said in a joking manner. Red saw how Deacon looked at Isobelle when they first met, and vice versa, even if Deacon himself didn't see it. She knew they would eventually get together, and was shocked it took as long as it did. Then again it could have been a short time.

With the way things had been going lately, a week felt like it took a month to pass.

As she walked into the living room, she saw Maria and Annabelle. "Hey Scarlett!" Maria said, smiling at her son's Fiance and briefly hugging her. "I hadn't had the chance to say it in person, so congratulations on the upcoming nuptials! I must say I knew you and John were meant to be! I'm so glad I was able to see it happen!"

Red blushed, then looked closely at Maria. "I must say, we could have waited quite a while without consequence it seems! You so... young! You must have some amazing anti-aging stuff to keep such a youthful look!"

Maria shrugged. "The miracles of science these days! John knows a lot about that stuff if I'm not mistaken! In fact, he may or may not be the reason I have such a young look to me!"

"Young is right!" Annabelle said, "We could almost pass for sisters! What do you mean John may be the reason though?"

Maria stood backwards and posed like a supermodel. "His Young Again potion, he sent me a copy. He wanted to keep it a surprise, so... Surprise! Technically I am about twenty-five years old! This is a miracle substance! So powerful! So amazing!"

"And this one won't fade away." John said as he walked into the room, hugging his mother having heard her voice echo upstairs. The four then stepped a bit into a different part of the room to get some space. "I sent mom here a full, working version, perfectly safe and tested. It's 100 percent approved! She is literally the face of a new generation of anti-aging breakthroughs! No side effects!"

"Yeah, the only problem is that it only works once." Maria interjected. "But hey, I look twenty-five, I feel twenty-five, whose to say I can't, I dunno, do things over again! Maybe meet someone, get married!"

"Yeah and by law, since we're your children, we automatically have to not like whoever you marry. It's like... LAW." Annabelle laughed, as did everyone else. She was hoping they would as she knew they needed a good, nice time after the horror of the recent battle which was still fresh in their minds.

John then stopped himself from laughing and looked over at Annabelle. "And I have a vial of Young Again for you as well, Sis, for everyone. If there's a time in the future that you want to start over, do things again, you can take it."

"Yeah, but I don't see that ever happening." Annabelle kept laughing, then walked back over to the living room couch to read her book. 


 Meanwhile, Deacon and Isobelle waited for Scarlett to pass before sharing a kiss. Izzy then pulled back and chuckled. "Hehe, that stubble you got there, changing your looks?"

Deacon took his turn to smile, then felt his chin. "Yeah, Tom looks cool with it so I thought I'd try it out. And I'm not the only one."

Isobelle, who knew what he was talking about, felt her own face. When Keera was injured in that explosion, John had apparently finished developing his own type of special "hydro-gel cellular reparation" device to help hide burn scars.

He had tried it on Keera, but her scar was too severe to be properly hidden and as it turned out she didn't even want it fixed, but not for Isobelle's minor mark she had obtained when fighting those Vazir units a few weeks back. In the days since the final conflict with Jack, John had found the device and used it on Isobelle, hiding the mark.

"Yeah well the face is not enough. 'It's the clothes that make the Torran hybrid', so to speak."

Deacon laughed. "Yeah and the first thing you did was find clothes that matched your hair color. What is it with the people in this household and their obsession with certain colors? You know if you guys become superheroes, your identities will be easily revealed through the colors of your costumes."

"We already are superheroes, Deac." Isobelle chuckled again, then looked him in the eye. "You're just out of the loop. Hero code and all that: You know loved ones can't be told the secret identity for their own protection... which makes zero sense but hey I didn't come up with the thing. But as for the colors, maybe some people just feel comfortable in what they see as normal. I know I do."

"I get that, a sense of security. A grasp at the concept of normalcy that most people have. When you wear those colors, you feel normal, like you belong."

"When did you get all psychoanalytical?"

"I read a few books. But then again they may or may not have been outdated." After sharing a happy laugh, the two went back to cuddling, wanting to spend the entire day on that couch. 


 Tom stood in the rec room, listening to loud music to sooth his soul. He had needed a breather, especially since he was threatened by Jack himself when Annabelle refused to use the star-shaped Key Stone and knocked out temporarily during the ensuing physical confrontation. Tom kept thinking that Jack was ready to kill the both of them, and probably would have had he obtained the genie lamp before Annabelle.

It was blind luck that the room was magically changed into a large, white, foggy chamber when Annabelle and Jack both entered, as through the room itself wanted just one person to get the lamp and wouldn't reveal it until one or the other was knocked out.

However, Tom's thoughts were interrupted when someone tapped on his shoulder. He turned around, expecting Annabelle or Scarlett, but was shocked to see Maria standing there with a smile on her face. "Hey Tommy Boy!" she said, leaning in to hug him. Tom returned the hug and then turned the music down on the radio.

"When did you get here?" Tom asked, "We didn't expect you here for another couple days!"

"A short time ago." Maria replied. "I was granted leave because of what happened here a few days ago. And I would have gone all-Scarlett on them had they not given it to me, especially after the hassle I went through when Keera was injured. However, they did, and I'm here! I heard you and Annie were quite the heroes!"

"Oh well Annie did a lot of it. But I helped!" Tom said, proudly. "But really it was mostly Annie."

"Well I heard it was a nasty little scuffle. I hope there's no long-term effects as a result."

"Well I think I cut my thumb on a rock. Unless it gets infected I don't think I have to worry about things like long-term effects... then again I've seen stranger things in my life. Did I tell you about the Genie? I think she's at the graveyard with Keera."

Maria laughed. "Yeah Anna-bee filled me in with all the information. I think I'm suffering from weirdness overload... the biggest oddity I've encountered this past year was a costume designer who wore the costumes around the set. She wanted me to call her 'Superlady'."

Maria then laughed to herself. "Turns out she wasn't even a costume designer, and that there was an asylum a few miles from the studio. She made good outfits though! She said she saw some green people around Monte Vista which made me think of Annie, actually, but didn't look too far into it. Waaay to busy with the shoot."

Tom nodded as she spoke, then stopped himself when she mentioned other green people. Were these other Hybrids Annabelle mentioned? Before he could ask, Maria quickly spoke up. "Hey I am going to go grocery shopping downtown soon. I was wondering if you could come along? I need someone to show me where the market is and maybe show me around town and Annie's expecting someone later. Would you care to join me?"

Tom nodded again. "Yeah I'll come! It will give me an opportunity to get out of the house for a bit, and it's about time for the two of us to catch up!"


The drive to the market was full of talking, with Tom expressing all the things he'd done the past year with the exception of mentioning Andy. Maria, in turn, had talked a lot about what happened at the studio set while they were filming a movie, elaborating on the would-be costume designer who was actually paid in the end for what she did.

A short time later, Maria and Tom arrived at the market to buy groceries. Tom decided to drop Maria off near the store's entrance while he drove around the corner to park. As Maria stood there waiting for him, she heard a man's voice behind her.

"Maria? Maria Kethrin?!" Maria turned around and saw a man standing near her and immediately winced, then turned around and went back to waiting for Tom to get back from parking the car.. The man approached her and tapped on her shoulder.

"You are Maria! As I live and breathe!"

Maria turned angry as she turned back around, and the man took this as a sign to step back a few feet. "Come any closer to me and you won't be living and breathing. What the HELL do you want, Matthews?!"

Robert Matthews, John's biological father whom he had met a few months earlier in that bar back in Alaska, turned white when he heard Maria angry at him. "I-I just... I didn't expect to find you here, Maria. I came here because I saw Johnny on the news-"

"-and you wanted to get to know him, right? It has nothing to do with the fact that you saw him on television and immediately assumed he was famous now for what he and all his family members did." Maria put special emphasis on "his family" because she wanted to distance Robert from John in any possible way, especially on a family matter. "Admit it, Robert, you just wanted to leech off his fame."

"Dammit Maria, I just want to get to know my son."

"Yeah, I knew you cared about Johnny when you left him alone when he hadn't even been born yet. You're certainly the next great Father of the Century, right?" Maria turned around and saw Tom emerge from the other side of the market and gestured towards him while looking at Robert.

"You see him? I helped raise him. I helped him when his parents died. He wasn't even my son. You should have done the same. Maybe then, John wouldn't have told me that he wanted to smash your teeth in that night you two met in the bar." Maria led Tom away from Robert, the former of which having just recognized the latter from the night the two met int he bar. However, she turned around once more. "Quite frankly, I wouldn't have blamed him if he did break your jaw. In fact I wish he had."

Then there were no more words. Maria and Tom went into the marketplace, leaving Robert behind alone. As they were walking away, Tom took the time to add some levity to the situation.

"You know the last time a Kethrin confronted that man, they proposed to someone of blood relation to me. Now I'd appreciate the gesture if you popped the question right now but I kinda have a thing for your daughter." Tom winked humorously at Maria, making her laugh as they walked into the market.


Kelly spoke in Cantonese as she talked into her phone while Mirabelle was just then waking up from a short nap, speaking the words for "Marriage" a few times. Mirabelle, even half-asleep, figured that Kelly was talking to her mother Mei Coen and announcing the upcoming nuptials between herself and Mirabelle. Kelly hung up the phone when she was done talking and walked over to her fiance, who was standing up and stretching.

"Hey Mira," Kelly said. "It's like 1:00 PM. Mom was just saying she and my dad were landing at SFO, and they'll be here as soon as they can grab a rental car and drive the distance. I wish they could have landed closer but with all the craziness in this portion of California, San Francisco is their best bet."

"I just wish they'd move Stateside." Mirabelle said. "We'd see them more if they weren't living in China."

"Well you know my parents, they like living in Shangri La. They were able to see Tom a few months ago when he visited then, around the time Keera was..." Kelly stopped herself right there. The last thing she wanted to do was associate Tom's fun with family with Keera's grave injury at the movie set the previous July, especially with Mirabelle standing there.

 The two hadn't been able to sleep much since the day of the battle at the graveyard, both being upset at what happened to Keera's friend Collin and his last words. Kelly had looked up the names "Jennifer" and "Peter" while using the Hidden Springs studio accident and Collin's full name as a reference. It seemed Jenny Lyons was Collin's wife, who became estranged from him, along with her adult son Peter, after Collin admitted to the Alaskan Film Board that he was inadvertently responsible for the accident that left Keera scarred. His last words were that he loved them, and wanted to make sure they were alright.

Kelly tracked Peter down to Moonlight Falls, a town in southern Washington, and intended to visit him later on. She felt now wasn't the right time since it's been so soon since Collin's death, she didn't want to bother him, especially since he'd already have enough to worry about at this moment. Trying to alleviate the worry in the air, Kelly quickly changed the subject.

"Oh I saw your mom downstairs. I think she took Tom to the store and will be back soon."

Mirabelle froze up. Even though she knew Maria Kethrin better than anyone, being her daughter, Mirabelle herself hadn't technically met her yet. That is, the magenta-toned woman that looked, sounded, and acted exactly like Annabelle Kethrin. "I-I heard she was coming to town, I didn't know it was so early." Mira tensed up, and Kelly felt this, not even needing her little psychic powers that she had been trying to hone for a few days now.

Kelly affectionately held her arm. "You don't have to worry, Mira. I know your mom, she won't look down on you, and I know that's what you're afraid of."

"Yeah well I'm still worrying. Maria-erm... mom hasn't met me yet! She doesn't know me!"

"She does, and you'll see when you do meet see her. Trust me, I'm a detective."

Mirabelle uneasily chuckled and scratched her head. "Is that how you're able to solve problems, through awesome super-duper detective work?"

Kelly nodded, her expression of happiness and pride. "Well I lost the 'duper' part last year. Big layoffs in the detective business. But Super detective work is still fine to do!"

The both of them laughed as Mirabelle stood there, still worried about the inevitable meeting with Maria Kethrin. After a short time, Kelly walked downstairs, sensing a serious amount of new things that were about to come to the house, but she didn't know exactly what...


Annie smiled when Cassie showed up, greeting her in the foyer. Cassie, who had been away for a few days since choosing to leave Starlight Shores during the evacuation, looked at Annie's still-healing injuries from the fight. "Oh dear. Well It's wonderful you're safe and sound. I heard there was quite the battle the other day."

"Ya, a minor scuffle. I got the worst of it, as usual. Tom's still a little shaken though, I haven't talked to him much. And no one's really spoken to Anika, but she's around."


Annabelle smiled. "The genie. We released her from the lamp after wishing for Keera's eye to be healed. Long story."

Cassie looked at Annabelle with a wide-eyed expression on her face. She then shook it off and remembered what she wanted to say. "Oh, well then. It sounds like you had quite an adventure, much like this young man here has. Gabe, come on in! I want you to meet Annabelle!"

Annabelle was confused. "Gabe? Gabe? Gabe?" She had only heard that name a few times in her life, the majority of which was in a dream she had a few weeks before. "Gabe?" Suddenly Gabriel, Cassie's friend, emerged into the open doorway. His eyes grew large when he saw Annabelle standing there, matching her own as she herself stepped backwards in utter shock.

"What... the... what... the... what?!" Annabelle continued to step backwards upon seeing Gabriel, the teen she saw in her dream, her teenage son, as he looked exactly in the dream. "Who what when what how wah-"

Annie lost her balance and fell to the floor, fainting at the sight of the teen. Gabriel, having recognized the woman from her dream in all her green-skinned glory, also nearly passed out, but Cassie caught him and shook him back into a state in which he could form cognitive thoughts. "Who is she to you?" She asked, "You recognize her?"

"She's my mother from my dream, the one I told you about. She's real."

Kelly, who had heard the commotion from the other room, ran into the foyer and saw Annie unconscious on the floor. She looked at Gabriel, who was standing there with Cassie, and saw a bit of her cousin Tom in his face, particularly the eyes. "What's your name?", she asked finally.

"Gabriel. My name is Gabriel."

Kelly herself was taken aback from the name. She remembered Annabelle telling everyone for a week about her son from a realistic dream she had, a son named Gabriel. Of course Annie had not divulged the name of the father in her dream but everyone automatically assumed it was Tom from the description of the son. Now he was standing here in the house. It was literally like a dream come true. Pushing past her initial reservations, Kelly looked Gabriel in the eyes. "Where did you come from?"

"That's a bit complicated, and I'd be willing to tell everyone I can when Mrs. Jameson here wakes up."

'Mrs. JAMESON??!' Kelly's mind screamed the name out-loud, but she held her outward focus and simply said. "It's Miss Kethrin, actually. So far at least." Kelly smiled when she added that last sentence. "Now let's get Annie to the couch."

Scarlett, who also heard what was going on, ran downstairs and saw Annabelle on the ground, ignoring Gabriel for the time-being. "Wow, knocked out again? I swear she gets knocked unconscious more times than I get angry." With that out of the way, she looked at Gabe and smiled. "Hello, I'm Scarlett Keene. You look familiar, have we met?"

"Uh... Gabriel. I don't think we have. Unless I dreamed about you too."

Scarlett looked at Gabriel with an expression that one would call "creeped out" before finally dropping it. She decided to speak no more words as she helped Cassie, Gabe, and Kelly carry Annabelle into the living room and gently laid her down on the couch. She was going to ask Gabriel some more questions but she saw Kelly look at her with a worried expression, as if her blue-clad cousin actually read her mind and told her not to raise any more questions about the teen.

Cassie, in the mean time, was trying to gather her own thoughts on this whole situation, choosing to remain silent.

A few moments later, Tom and Maria walked inside, both of them worried after seeing Annabelle passed out through the window. Tom ran to Annie's side and tried to wake her up, not noticing Gabriel as he stood there. Annie then opened her eyes which were immediately fixated on Tom's gray eyes.

"I didn't want to leave you two." Annabelle said, "I didn't want to leave Colorado." then, unceremoniously she fell back out. Tom stood up and turned to Gabriel, seeing a sense of familiarity in the young man.

"Who are you?"

"His name is Gabriel." Annabelle sat up, letting the shock wear off after seeing her dreamed-up son walk into her very-real house. She briefly pinched herself to make sure she wasn't dreaming still, then stood up again. "Remember that dream I had? The one about me living in Appaloosa Plains with a son named Gabriel? That's him. Somehow, he is very real." She then angled towards Gabe himself. "Where did you come from?"

Gabriel sighed, "Apppaloosa Plains, but not in the way you'd expect. I was born in a lab I think... The facility burned to the ground and I escaped the fire with no way of knowing who I was and where to go, so I spent most of my life trying to find a purpose. I stayed in an orphanage in Appaloosa Plains for two years, and gained enough money to buy a bike and head out. My first instinct was Bridgeport, then other towns. Finally I stopped in a desert town a couple weeks ago, stayed in a small hotel, and had a dream about a green-skinned woman who was my mother, and she left for Starlight Shores."

Annabelle nearly passed out again, but wanted to hear the rest of the kid's story. She was visibly shaken as she walked around the room, pacing to keep herself awake. Did they have the same dream that night? A couple weeks before was around the time Annabelle had been knocked out by the explosion, so it matched up.

"So I headed towards Starlight Shores, wanted to find my mother. By the time I got here, the town was quarantined and I couldn't get in, so I headed up to Sunset Valley and met this lovely lady here." He then gestured towards Cassie, who smiled.

"When he described you, Annabelle, I had to bring him here. I mean, how many other people have green skin on this planet?"

'Dozens, apparently.' Annabelle thought to herself after hearing about Project Hybrid on Torra Sev. "But oh my God, Gabriel! You're-you're here! You're alive! You're-"

"A clone created from two base DNA pairs." John had been standing in the corner, out of the way the whole time. Like Annabelle, he needed to get a hold of all the information that Gabriel was saying. "In a way, he's like Keera! In fact he's exactly like Keera, but unlike her we know for a fact whose DNA was responsible for him."

For a split second when he mentioned Keera, John winked at Kelly, and Kelly could read his mind: he wasn't saying, but he knew exactly who the other DNA belonged to that was responsible for the teenage girl, which Kelly had tried to keep secret for her own personal reasons.

Gabriel nodded. "Yeah, it was pretty obvious when I said my first memory was in a lab that I was a clone. You know you guys are taking all this very well! Normally when I mention that I'm a clone, people run off and hide. Not exactly the first thing one should bring up during a nice date." He chuckled, then said "I know."

Tom smiled. He could see a bit of Annabelle, in the personality of this young man, and could definitely see himself when he looked into his eyes. "Another clone is, at this point, the most normal thing that's happened to us. Trust me." Kelly, Scarlett, and John nodded furiously, while Annabelle looked off in the distance with a blank expression. "Wait until you meet the Genie."


Annabelle stopped the conversation in it's tracks. "Okay, Gabriel, we need to talk.privately later." When Tom was about to object as he too wanted to figure out things regarding Gabe, particularly the DNA link between both men, Annabelle looked at him with desperation. "Later.", she said again. Realizing she needed more answers than him, Tom nodded and everyone went back to their business.

Scarlett, who had remained quiet through the whole thing, looked over at John. "What the hell just happened?" John merely shrugged and left to go upstairs, but not before taking the time to quietly kiss his fiance in the relatively empty living room.


While Annabelle walked out of the bathroom, presumably to throw up due to the stress she'd just endured, Tom approached her while still trying to understand exactly what was going on with Gabriel.

"Who is he?" Tom asked. Annabelle looked back at Gabriel, who was walking towards the house's gym area. "Can we trust him?"

Annabelle nodded fiercely. "We trusted Keera no questions asked when she came into our lives, why not him?... Do you Remember that dream I had a while ago? The one I told everyone about, where I had a son?" Annie had thought to herself that she didn't exactly say who the father was, but was sure everyone guessed at it. "That's him. That's my son from my dream, and he's a clone just like Keera, only it's obvious whose DNA they took for him."

Tom looked at Gabe as well, then back to Annabelle. "Mine. Just like with Keera, it's yours and my DNA combined into a single clone. It's true, he's real... Annabelle, that's... that's technically our son."

"I know." As they both looked at Gabe, they both realized they needed to help him, in the same way they've helped any other member of their family. However, at the same time, they were wondering if there were any other clones of them running around, as Annabelle had already met four of them in her life, including Verena's daughter A'jhanie on her home planet. As they looked at Gabriel, they made a silent pact among themselves: they wouldn't treat this teen like an outsider. He was, for all intents and purposes, family, and they couldn't treat family in a lower way simply because he showed up when no one expected.

When they were done, Annabelle walked upstairs to her bedroom. With all the excitement and mystery still getting to her after finding out that this kid from her dream was not only real, but saw her as his mother and had the same exact dream she did a couple weeks before, Annabelle passed out on the bed again.


When everything was settled and she knew Annabelle was alright, Maria went to the kitchen to put away the groceries she had bought earlier. Mirabelle, having taken a few extra steps to make sure the woman was okay with the fact that what used to be one daughter of hers was now two, walked by carefully as to avoid detection. Admittedly, she wasn't sure what Maria would think of her, and didn't want to find out yet. However, the woman heard her footsteps and turned around to see her.

"Hey Mirabelle, could you give me a hand with the groceries?" Maria asked her with the same loving tone that she had when used when talking to her children before. "I wanted to see if I remembered what everyone liked. Tom tried to help, but I wanted to do it myself. Anyway I bought Tom, Keera, and John some pizzas, Kelly some ready-to-eat Chinese food, you and Annabelle some cheese steak sandwiches, and Scarlett, of course, a bag of red apples. Among other things."

Mirabelle walked into the kitchen proper scratched her head as Maria was talking. "Yeah, that is what everyone likes." A few moments later all the food was put up, and Maria stood in the kitchen. Mirabelle smiled again, and was about to leave the room before her mother stopped her.

"You know, I remember when you first had a cheese steak sandwich. You were... ten I think. Yeah it was before the meteor shower in Sunset Valley. I remember you gobbling up that sandwich like there was no tomorrow, saving none for anyone else." Maria chuckled. "You even took Tom's right off his plate. He was soooo upset that I had to go to the store to get him another one. Sometimes I love to think back to when you were all kids, that simpler time before all this craziness happened, before the meteor shower, before the unicorn you saw, everything."

Mirabelle sighed. "You remember Annabelle taking Tom's food, not me. You remember her as a kid, before all the craziness."

Maria approached her daughter, pointing at her. "Well, yeah but aren't you Annabelle? Didn't you live her life up until the split? And now you're on your own path, getting ready to marry Kelly? Since this is the first time I've seen you since the split, I remember you being in Annabelle's place just as much as I remember Annabelle being in your place. No matter the circumstances, you grew up as my daughter, and I see you as my daughter, and you will always be my daughter. You were always there, as far as I'm concerned."

Mirabelle leaned in and hugged Maria, who had picked up on the former's anxiety and wanted to assure her, no matter what, that she was her mother. This prompted a response from the magenta-haired girl, who let all her unease go in one fell swoop.

"Thank you."


Keera sat in front of Collin's grave. Ever since his death, she had come up every once in a while to pay her respects to her lost friend, as she was worried she hadn't really had the opportunity to properly understand where he was coming from when he was alive. She silently sat there, looking around at the scaffolds and warning signs that had been placed around the graveyard to let people know that the city council was well and truly prepared to rebuild the entire lot after what happened. Honestly, Keera was surprised that they had gotten to it so fast.

"Are you alright?" Keera heard Anika's voice next to her. She stood up and nodded to the woman, as Annabelle had said, granted a wish from the family to repair Keera's lost eye. Keera then realized that she had a debt to repay to the genie even if the latter was just "acting on orders", so to speak.

"Yeah, just remembering the lost. I've lost a lot in my life, and while some things have been returned..." She briefly touched the skin below her new eye. "'s still painful knowing some things will never come back."

"Well loss is a part of life. I lost a lot of things myself when I turned into a Jinn, more than I hope to admit, and less than I plan to see now that it's been an uncountable amount of years since it happened. But it happened for a reason. Knowing what I did it for makes the hurt lessen."

"Why did you become a genie?" Keera asked.

Anika lowered her head. "Love. Not the kind of romantic affection, but the love of a mother who didn't want to see her child die. It's a hard story to tell." Anika let a tear drop on the ground, seeing in her memories her own son lying on the ground and her touching a stone. When she opened her eyes again, Keera could see sadness in them, a cold pain hidden in the brown irises.

"You don't have to tell it, but do you regret what happened?"

Anika shook her head and then turned around, walking away from her. She sadly walked as Keera saw her leave, then out of the blue the latter saw MIKE come moving fast up the nearby hill along with Scarlett a few moments later, the latter of whom was out of breath. Keera walked over to them to see what was the matter.

"I told you to wait up for me you damn bucket of bolts!" Scarlett sniped at the droid, then turned to Keera, trying to get her bearings. "You... gotta... come... back to the... house...!!!"

"I believe she says 'you gotta come back to the house'." MIKE said, a surprisingly sarcastic tone in his robotic voice, which Keera chalked up to him spending too much time with Annabelle. Scarlett hissed at the robot, however, and went back to Keera.

"Someone's at the house right now that kinda sorta has similarities to you." Scarlett explained, "But your mom didn't want me to say who it was. No idea why she likes surprises so much. Anyway we have to go now!"

With no more words, the three ran down the street, leaving Anika alone to her thoughts. She didn't want to remember what happened to her son, the reason she became a genie in the first place. As she lamented over her past, Anika quietly followed Keera, Scarlett, and Mike, heading back to the new place she called home, unsure of her future now.


"So to reiterate what we talked about before because, honestly, my brain was fried earlier the moment I saw you: You're a clone. You wandered the earth for years looking for a purpose and, out of the blue, you had a dream about me and Tom a few weeks ago, making you come here."

"Exactly. I didn't even know you were real. I just had a dream about you getting on a bus to go to Starlight Shores, and here you are. Alive. You do remember other things about the dream, right? About me wanting to be an actor, being told to go to France where I would be alone, and you leaving. I think you left in the dream because reality hit you. Perhaps the dream was influenced by outside sources."

Annabelle shrugged. "Perhaps YOU were an outside source. Perhaps we had some sort of psychic link that night I had the dream. I think it's happened before, with Keera. You'll meet her soon enough. You may have picked up on this, but she too is a clone, like you. Same age, only she has green skin like me, and..."


"...a scar. She was burned, badly, a few months ago. It's felt like a year since it happened. The link I had before, the one I told you about, was also a dream I had regarding Keera. A few nights after the explosion, I had a dream that she told me she couldn't feel her face, and called out to me. Come to find out, she said those exact words to me when she was injured. I didn't question it, because honestly it made total sense. I shouldn't have questioned your arrival, with all the things I've seen in my life."

Gabriel picked up on the last statement from her. "You keep mentioning that, all the strange things your family's encountered. That man, Tom, even mentioned evil unicorns to me. Is that why you're so... desensitized to these things? That the reason you have a belief that you shouldn't question anything?"

Annabelle stood up, and walked around the room. Gabriel, wanting to talk some more, stood up as well. "I just realize that there are many things in this world that others don't know about. No one outside my family even knows what we did a few days ago. Yeah, they think we saved the city from a criminal mastermind, but they don't know we saved the world!"

"Why? Why is my family a magnet to all this weirdness in the world? Granted, I'm an alien, but my space-mother told me that there are about FIFTY others on this planet! Haven't heard anything from them! Since I was eleven, I've had my town halfway destroyed by meteors summoned to Earth by a villainous organization. I have been blown up, kidnapped, and fought a space-witch who could turn herself into a unicorn! I've been cloned THREE TIMES, one of which has all my memories and personality! I love her like the sister she is, but still it's kinda crazy to see yourself kissing a woman that you spent a night together with just a week before! And don't even get me started on being kidnapped again by the same guy who took me when I was a teen!"

"And then! I find out that everyone in my household can use magic! I didn't even know that! How was I supposed to know?! I knew because I used it during my fight with the aforementioned space witch but Tom and Kelly and Scarlett aren't even related to me and they can still shoot fire from a wooden stick! Sometimes I just look at myself and I say..."

Annabelle caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, walking over to it. After focusing a bit, she watched herself fade into her "human" form, with normal ears, blonde hair, and blue eyes. She'd been able to do this a couple times before, but now she was focused on the idea of being that way, probably for a long time.

"...I just want to be normal. Have a normal life, normal family. Go to work, pay taxes, have fun with myself for the sake of having fun!" When she looked back at Gabe, she had her regular, green-skinned appearance.

"That's what that dream was about. Sometimes I just want that life. But I
won't get it. I'll never get it. The chance of normality is gone. It's dead, along with Andy."


"Long story." Annabelle replied. "What I'm getting at is, my dreams, usually they're 'normal' from a certain view point. Usually, they have a sense of reality. My real life is more messed up than my dreams! Sometimes I use those dreams to escape into a normal sense, whereas most use them as escapism FROM reality. It's complicated, I know-"

"No. I understand." Gabriel replied. "I know exactly how you feel, every single word of it. I mean, I'm a clone. You can't get weirder than that!"

Annabelle chuckled, turned to him, and said "I'm a green-skinned pointy-eared alien/human hybrid born on a different planet through a process that involved three biological parents and was sent to earth by aliens."

Gabriel, speechless, stood there for a few seconds long enough for there to be a knock on the door before he could reply. When Annabelle opened the door, she saw Keera standing there, who looked a bit antsy as she gazed into the room.

"Scarlett told me. About him." Keera said, finally. "Can I meet him?"

Annabelle wordlessly moved aside so Keera could walk in. The teen saw the other teen and, having found out where he had come from and how he was born, ran over and hugged him. Gabriel, understandably, was surprised by the gesture.

"What are you doin-"

"My new brother!!!" Keera yelled out, loud enough to alert half the household. "You! A fellow clone! Someone my age I can finally relate to! A brother! I've been hoping you were real from the moment Annabelle told me about her dream! I wished you were real! And..." she thought about her eye, and how Annabelle had asked for it from the genie. "Some wishes do come true. Oh wow I have so much to talk to you about so much to say! My name's Keera! You can call me Keeki, or Sisterkee. Or something!"

Annabelle smiled as she watched the brother and sister hug, the former of which eased down and returned the friendly gesture. She then came to a realization: While it would obviously take time for everyone to get over the fact that he was a dream-child, basically, perhaps Gabriel was there as a way of showing Annabelle that she could have a normal life, and a strange one, all at the same time. Maybe her life was as it should have been... for good and for bad.

 Tom, having heard Keera from his bedroom, walked down the hall and met Annie at the doorway. As they looked at the siblings, Tom turned to his friend. "You know what we need? A party. Something relaxing, something fun. Have fun for the sake of fun."

Annabelle kept smiling. "You read my mind. I'll get the music ready."

Kelly waited outside for a car to pull up, and smiled brightly when her parents emerged from it, quickly running out to hug her mother, then her father. After this, she led them into the house while talking about all the things she'd done since they last saw each other, including everything from being engaged to by Mirabelle to the sudden arrival of Gabriel, and all the other people new to the household.

Her mother, Mei, had a wide-eyed expression as Kelly told her all this, and her father Elliot was barely listening as he was chatting with Tom, who himself was saying all the amazing things that had happened since he saw them in China the July before while leaving out certain details of course. He didn't want to tell Elliot about Andy and the subsequent fight he had with Annabelle that lasted a good portion of the month. Elliot had heard the same from Annabelle a few days before on the phone, and didn't want to bring up the subject as well.

 When they got an opportunity later on in the evening, Kelly took her parents aside, into a quiet room. "Mom, dad, there's something I need to tell you. It's kinda hard to explain."

"What's wrong, Kel?" Mei asked. Kelly had said these words before, back when she was a teen, and only to them. Since she had already done that, they realized that there was another important subject regarding their daughter that she wanted to confide to them.

"I already told Mirabelle this, and only her, and you guys HAVE to keep this a secret. Please? Promise you'll keep it secret!"

"Of course!" Elliot said. "You can trust us."

Kelly took a deep breath, and looked into their eyes. "Think of a number between one and one-million. Just think of it, anything, any number." Mei and Elliot shrugged, then both thought of radically different numbers. Kelly closed her eyes, and when she opened them again she looked back and forth between her two parents. "Mom, you were thinking of 4, and dad you were thinking of 639,354."

Mei and Elliot's respective jaws hit the floor. "Exactly!" They both said at once. "Kelly... are..."

Kelly nodded, knowing exactly what they were about to ask. "That's why I'm such a great detective. That's how I can know what people are thinking when I look at them, because I literally KNOW what they are thinking! I think I've always had this ability, but ever since a week or so ago, it's been more enhanced, so to speak."

"Wha- I..." Mei, stuttering, couldn't believe her ears, Elliot as well. Unlike everyone else in the household, Kelly's parents had not encountered as many strange things, as they were literally halfway across the planet when all it happened. While they knew that Annabelle wasn't a human, that was the extent of it. To them, this was a new experience.    

"I know this is odd. Trust me, I know what 'odd' is, but at this point I am trying to figure out why I have this ability, why I'm like this! When I find that out, I will gladly tell everyone in this house what I can do."

Elliot and Mei shook their apprehension about their psychic daughter away quickly. They didn't understand themselves why Kelly had this power, but wanted to help her figure it out, together. When they told her this, Kelly smiled brightly and decided to test it out again, to show them what she could do.

 After a short time of Kelly testing her mind-reading ability, the three left the room and saw a gathering in the living room, an impromptu party that had popped up among the family and friends.

John and Scarlett slow-danced, as did Tom and Annabelle, while Kelly and Mirabelle cuddled on the couch. Nearby, Elliot and Mei were talking, about Kelly's upcoming wedding and Scarlett's upcoming wedding, and at the same time discussing privately, in joy, that their daughter was truly unique among the rest.

Isobelle and Deacon found themselves in the living room as well, and decided to watch the party from a loveseat, while Gabriel noted Cassie sitting there on a different couch doing nothing of interest. With a little coercion, Gabe convinced Cassie to play a video game with him, alongside Keera who wanted to get to know the both of them.

Kelly, focusing on Gabriel, read his mind to make sure he was telling the truth about what he said earlier, as she couldn't before when she was unfocused by the simple revelation that he was alive in the first place. She read he had a bad life, getting picked on by other kids at the orphanage he mentioned and getting turned down from jobs because of his age, but she saw nothing in his mind about him being untrustworthy. As a result, she knew him better than Annabelle, or Cassie.


Anika, staying away from the party, felt a presence far off in the distance, beyond the state line of California, and instantly fell backwards, hitting her back against a way in an act of terror. No one saw this, and as of consequence they didn't hear her utter a single, cold, word.



"Dang it!"

A few hours later, Tom found himself upstairs where he heard John nearly curse under his breath. After knocking on the door leading to John's little lab room. When he didn't get a response, Tom simply walked into the room where John was frantically typing things into his teleporter's command console.

"What's wrong, John?" Tom asked.

John stepped back away from the console and wiped his forehead. "Earlier today I was doing a routine systems wipe of the teleporter's command console so it could store new information without need of a defragmentation procedure when I noticed an anomaly in the transportation matrix log."

Tom shook his head. "Hmmm, interesting speech. Does it come in English?"

John sighed, chuckled, and looked at him. "I was cleaning the system and I noticed a bug where it shouldn't be. Right here, September 16th, 4:54 PM."

"That's when I teleported to the graveyard to help Annabelle! What are you saying, that I caused the anomaly?"

"No." John replied. "The teleporter's log says that this happened seconds before I even teleported you, when it was powering up. It's like the teleporter needed extra power, but it used too much and when it expelled it, it opened some sort of hole somewhere in the world. A tear that closed a mere second after it initially opened."

"What do you mean a 'tear'?" Tom asked, "Like the tear in the space-time continuum that sent me to that parallel universe?" John looked at him with a confused facial expression, and Tom merely shrugged. "Annabelle told me. I guess I learned a bit of that science mumbo-jumbo. Wait, did you... accidentally open another one? Is there another Tom out there? Is Gabriel-"

"No, he's not what I'm talking about. If I'm reading this right, the rip didn't open to a different universe, but this one. It's impossible to tell where. However, that's not what worries me."

"What does worry you?"

"What worries me is that the log states that a piece of matter found itself through the tear in the short amount of time it was opened. Something came to Earth, Tom. Something else. And by what this computer is saying, I don't know where it is.

John then looked worried as he remembered that creature with red eyes that one night in the park. "And we don't know what's out in the universe that could have come through."

Tom and John looked at the screen, wondering what fell through the tear in space, and where it was now. With no more words, John went back to the console, both worried for what might happen.

Riverview, Missouri
45 miles southeast of Kansas City

A storm bellowed over the small Missouri town of Riverview later that day, drenching the town with water. Sitting in a small field, away from the main town, was a small rock that had no business being there. It had been dry the whole time it sat there, but suddenly as the rain hit the rock it started to shake, with a small part breaking free from the bottom and oozing out like a shadowy slime. Suddenly two blazing red eyes formed in the center of the rock, looking out to the town.


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