"So you're here to vouch for Andromeda?"
Verena stayed silent for a few moments before speaking up. "I know what she's done. I've looked into her mind and I do not like what I saw. However, she is very unstable. She needs guidance, she needs friends."
"I know. I don't know what I can say to convince you that she's on your side now."
Annabelle thought back to when she first saw Andy, how she reminded her of the Nightmare. She had good reason to think of it, in hindsight, but that didn't change the matter of what happened to Andy because of Annabelle's thoughts of anger and jealousy that bubbled to the surface. Mentally strained, she decided to just give in.
Verena closed her eyes, frowning. "I understand."
The two paused in their conversation, and as they did the door slightly creaked open. Having seen Annabelle' unconscious body being carried upstairs by an alien wearing orange and black, Maria followed the two up and stopped at Annabelle's door, wanting to go in but deciding against it. After a few moments passed, she heard Annabelle's groggy voice speaking to the alien woman.
Maria was curious as to who this woman was, and opened the door when the two had stopped talking. Her first attention was laid on Annabelle, and she walked over to her to feel her forehead and ask if she was doing alright. Annabelle nodded and smiled, then decided to lie back on the bed again to regain her thoughts properly. Maria then turned towards the alien.
"If you hurt my daughter in any way..."
Verena stood smiled. "Actually she's... well..."
"This is the woman that gave birth to me." Annabelle interjected. "This is Verena Tozal. I told you about meeting her when you visited back in Starlight Shores, remember?"
"Yes, you told me about her but what is she doing here on Earth? Shouldn't she be on her own planet, with her own family?"
"Well... uh..." Annabelle tried to change the subject as rapidly as she could, but couldn't focus on a single thing due to having just woken up. "Uh... purple... radio... cheese...futon?"
Verena picked up on Maria's obvious animosity and smiled at her. "I assure you, I am only here for a little while. I am just here to help Annabelle with the Abyss."
Annabelle interjected again. "An ancient evil Torran shadow entity. Long story. Very very long story that a talking rock told me-and wow I just realized how crazy I sound."
Maria shrugged. "Whatever, this is all way too weird for me, and that's saying a lot because..." she turned to look at Annabelle, then back to Verena. "...she's had a lot of weird things happen in her life. And I was the one who actually raised her."
Maria walked out of the room with no more words, prompting Annabelle and Verena to both wonder what she had meant by what she said. Before they could bring up the subject, the door opened again and Mirabelle walked into the room.
"Hey Annabelle, I may have been seeing things but I swear I saw Nightmare downstairs." Mirabelle quickly stopped talking when her eyes drew from Annabelle to Verena, who simply smiled at her. "Who's the orange alien lady?"
"Uh Mirabelle this is... um... how do I put this? To both of you? This is Verena, she's the woman who gave birth to me. Us. We. Um... Verena is this Mirabelle. She's me. Sorta. I'm so confused right now."
Mirabelle decided to put it as bluntly as possible. "Simply put: my brother John built a teleporter and it created a copy of Annabelle. I am that copy."
"Incredible!" Verena said while walking towards Mirabelle. "Genetic replication, including memories? That's similar to a Torran project but it only worked on infants."
"My name is Andromeda Roshali. I know who you are, though. You're Tom."
"Yeah, Annabelle told me about you. She said you tried to kill her."
"Describe what? What are you talking about?"
Tom shrugged, "That's something I think everyone around here is trying to figure out, who they really are. I mean, I see myself in the mirror and I wonder if that person is really Tom Jameson, because lately I've been so angry I'm wondering if I'm Scarlett in Tom's body." Tom was about to turn around to look outside, but stopped himself before he did so. "Don't tell Red I said that."
Andromeda briefly covered her mouth, and Tom was wondering if she was doing so to hide a laugh. After some time, she began to speak again. "Look, I remember a lot of what Andy had said to you. I remember standing in this room, but not standing here. It was like a dream."
Tom walked up to her and put his hand on her shoulder. "I know my feelings for Andy were very real. There's nothing to say hers weren't."
Tom nodded, then softly spoke. "I'll take you, don't worry." He then remembered back when he saw what looked like a mummy in the graveyard, having not been there since seeing it, much less in the middle of the night. After that brief remembrance, he then added to his sentence. "Tomorrow."
Tom was about to ask what she meant by that when suddenly Andromeda stepped forward and kissed him. He knew it was a heat of the moment thing, but he wasn't sure what Annabelle would think should she walk in the door. Before he could stop her, Andromeda pulled away and left the room without any more words leaving him completely stunned.
Verena, Annabelle, Mirabelle, Scarlett, and John sat at the dining table in the kitchen. It was quieter than expected with all of them there, and that was because Verena had just told John that when he built that teleporter, he had developed alien technology without even realizing it. John spent the next few moments in silence, thinking over everything he had developed in his life before and wondering if the Torrans had developed it as well.
"Project Gemini was developed many years ago by a scientist on my planet, he intended to use it to clone an army to take over Torra Sev."
"I'm getting the vibe that this particular person was Vorik Z'rath'nek." Annabelle quietly said, "the guy who created the Vornek."
"Indeed. Vorik used Project Gemini to create the perfect army based in his image, and he asked the Abyss to change it to suit his needs. The clones were imperfect, incapable of rational thought and the Abyss fused its own energy into them. After the Vornek were defeated and Vorik banished, Torran scientists put the project away for hundreds of years before they realized it could be beneficial to the rest of the population. Infants were cloned because the device could not repeat the logistics of a fully-developed brain. Eventually we figured out a way to clone organs without even having to remove them first, increasing our lifespans dramatically."
Scarlett nodded along the whole time, and then spoke up. "So where does John's teleporter come into play here?"
"It wasn't an accident. I added in the cloning tool in case something went wrong with the subject I was teleporting. It did something even better than expected and Mirabelle was created with perfect memories and everything."
"So your version of the project was perfected. Perhaps the radioactive materials from the vessel I had arrived to Earth in many years ago had affected you in ways we never understood."
"Long story. Very, very long. Short version is that we have a robot walking around the house."
Verena looked intrigued, thought for a moment, then spoke. "Robotic technology has advanced highly on Torra Sev in the past few years. Perhaps I can look at this robot and see if I can apply some home-based technology to it."
John looked at Annabelle, unsure of what to say, before Annie herself continued. "Perhaps if the robot himself is okay with it, you can. Really it's up to him because he's the one that is fully intelligent."
"Did he just call me an 'extraterrestrial life-form'?"
Mirabelle scratched her head. "He's not really a people-person yet."
Everyone started laughing a bit before they heard a knock on the window. Annabelle turned and her eyes fell upon a pair of glowing wings as they jumped up and down, and she focused a bit more to see the Feen, Nizume, attached to the wings.
Annabelle took a deep breath and stood up. "She's here for me." Everyone else acknowledged this, stood up, and walked out of the room while Annabelle stayed.
Annabelle shook her head before speaking. "So where is the tooth?"
Nizume looked around for a few seconds before turning back to Annabelle, shrugging and making an "I don't know"-type noise at the same time.
"Yeah hideout thingy with the rock and things and such! Let's go!" Nizume turned around quickly, so much so that her goggles flew off her head and landed on the ground nearby. She chuckled before turning back to Annabelle.
"Let us go to talk to the rock!"
Maria watched as Annabelle left with Nizume, and turned to walk into the living room. The moment she did, she saw Verena walking into the same room and instead turned to head to the kitchen. John picked up on the sudden change in movement and walked into the kitchen as well after her mother. The two of them found themselves in the room, with Maria on the far end looking around the fridge.
"Mom?" John asked, "Are you alright?"
"What? Why do you ask? Food is good, food is life. I just came to get something to eat."
"I know when you're hiding things, mom. I'm your son. Your smart, smart son, remember?"
Maria made a brief sound that sounded like a laugh, "Yeah, I stopped having to help with your homework when you went into second grade. It's just... that woman in there, she's acting like she's Annabelle's mother when I was the one who raised her. I don't like it."
A light bulb went off in John's head and he immediately blurted out what went through his mind when it did. "You're jealous?"
Maria closed the fridge and turned around, slumping against it and sliding to the ground. "I wanted to be the one who helped Annie through this, but it was h-her birth-mother who told her all she needed to know. Right now I feel so useless, that I shouldn't be here."
Maria shrugged. "I suppose. Look don't tell Annie I'm 'jealous' of Verena. She has too much on her mind now and she doesn't need to know it."
Maria stayed on the floor in front of the fridge and smiled, "nah, this floor is warm. Warm kitchen floor. So sleepy. Long night." After which she stretched herself out on the floor, quickly falling asleep.
John smiled, and sat down next to his mother as she fell asleep, watching over her the entire night.
Annabelle followed Nizume across the nearby snow-covered field to the Feen hideout, where Shale was sitting where he usually was while Kayley was talking to him. Annabelle stepped into the room and Kayley politely smiled before stepping to the side.
"Indeed." Shale replied, "The Abyss is gaining strength, and the Vornek is here to unite it with Vorik. However, we have discovered a possible way to defeat the Abyss and stop Vorik and his Vornek once and for all."
"Okay, why not use it now?"
Kayley looked at the rock, then back to Annabelle with a worried expression on her face. "It's really not that simple. The spell takes a lot of magic. A lot. If one Feen were to cast it, they could be stripped of not only their power, but their very identity."
Shale continued. "The Cosmic is a Torran entity, and its power is tied to the Torran DNA within the Feen, and within you. If you were to cast it, you could be rendered completely human. If a full-blooded Torran were to cast it somehow, they would die."
"Oh well then... um... what if a bunch of Feen were to get together and cast it? Or at least get in a circle and sing Kumbaya? Could all the magic combine so no one person has to cast that spell by themselves?"
"I sincerely wish there was some kind of instruction manual on how to be a Feen." Annabelle said in a frustrated voice, "This whole thing is really starting to get to me."
Annabelle shrugged, "I've been through so much hell in my life that I honestly believe I'd have gotten into this myself somehow anyway. Don't blame yourself, blame destiny or whatever the hell brought the Feen and Vornek to Earth."
Shale spoke up, "Indeed. Now is not the time to point fingers. We must figure out a way to stop the Abyss and everything around it."
Annabelle stretched her back and yawned, turning to Kayley and Shale. "Is there anything else you need from me right now? I'm seriously getting tired and I need to go home to sleep properly."
"No, we will contact you again when we have more details. Nizume will help you out, isn't that right, Nizume?"
This time, Shale was the one to reply. "We will. Hopefully we can figure out a way to cast the spell without turning you human. The loss of one's identity would be a personal sacrifice not many can undertake." Annabelle quietly nodded and left. Kayley watched her leave, and turned to the rock with a worried look.
Keera sat on a couch in the foyer, reading a book, and looked up when Annabelle walked through the front door. Having not talked to her since she left to meet the "mystery person" who turned out to be the triumvirate of Verena, Andromeda, and Anika, she was excited to see and talk to her. Without any delay, Keera put the book down and walked over to Annabelle, smiling.
"Hey mom! I was wondering if you wanted to play any games right now? Everyone else is either busy, sleeping, or busy sleeping."
Annabelle kept walking and made her way to the stairs. "I just found out that I might have to cast a spell that would turn me completely human and remove all traces of my Torran DNA to destroy the Abyss, the Vornek, and the a-hole who was responsible for bringing both of them here, I think I'm gonna sleep on that."
"I heard what Annabelle said. That's a powerful thing to do, sacrifice ones self to save others. Trust me, I know."
Keera turned to look around, and then back to Anika. "Can I ask you something? I mean, you don't have to answer it if you do not want to, but it would be nice to know."
"I know you want to know how I became a genie. Truth be told I wasn't going to answer it because it is so hard to remember. But if you want to know the circumstances... it was me. I wouldn't have lost my son if it wasn't for my own actions."
It was a long time ago. I had heard about a mystical tree in the desert outside my home town. I grew up hearing about this power, what it could do, and I could use it to help myself and my son become rich or at least give him a decent home to grow up in. His father was killed by bandits the year before, and with his death I lost my home and all our belongings. All I had left was my little child and the hope for him and I to have a better life.
I did not know, however, that a man was following us. He was an outsider, from the country of France, and he wanted the power for himself. He tracked us across the desert and we encountered him at the tree, which was on the side of a deep river. He threatened my son, and told me to tell him all I knew about the tree. When I refused, he took out a flintlock pistol and shot my son in the stomach.
I found a scimitar next to the tree, a lost weapon from a lost person whose hope had seemingly matched mine. I realized this man, this murderer, was not going to leave me or my son alone even after I told him about the magical force of the tree.
So I did what I had to do. I scared his horse by yelling loudly, and it threw him off. While the man was lying on the ground, struggling to get up, I ran over and drove my sword into his cold, emotionless heart, watching him take his last breath as I took my vengeance.
I touched the stone and it changed me completely. It was like a power no one had ever witnessed before, and it was all coursing through my veins. The tree changed color, then faded away while directing the rest of its power into the sky above me.
The magic flew through my body, changing every fiber of my being, and I knew I now had the power to save my son. I knelt to the ground and put my hands under his head, letting the magic move to him, healing his wound. However, I had no idea what kind of sacrifice I had made until I turned around.
"Right before being sealed into the lamp, I sent my son to a place I knew he'd be safe. Because of that, my sacrifice, I never saw him again."
"And when I asked if you regretting doing it, being trapped in that lamp because of what you chose, the sacrifice you made, you said no. Because you loved your child. I must ask... do you think my mom should make the same choice, and sacrifice who she is?"
"That is a question only she can answer, Keera, when the time comes." Anika quietly said while she began walking away.
Annabelle returned to her bedroom, trying to get some peace and quiet after yet another crazy day. Just after she changed into some sleeping clothes and sat down on the bed, her bedroom door opened after the person knocked a few times. Before Annie could turn even get over there and open it, she instead turned and watched as Andromeda stepped into the bedroom immediately after, an awkward smile stretched across her face.
"What do you want?" Annabelle coldly asked before turning around to look at something else, anything else, than the red and black-haired woman whom had been intruding on her privacy.
Annabelle remained in place. "Why should I? You tried to KILL me, Andromeda. You mentally scarred me for life and that is something that cannot be forgiven."
Andromeda lowered her head and stepped towards the door, but after a few seconds closed it with her still in the room.
"I know! Hear me out... when I was freed I knew I needed to find someone, any other green-skinned hybrid, to prove to myself that I wasn't completely insane. When I found you, asked for your help, and you rejected... that's why I did what I did and I am very, very sorry for everything. I am so damn sorry."
Annabelle thought of everything Andromeda had just told her. She wasn't sure if it was sincere, or if she was just saying these things to make Annabelle forgive her in the short term. However, memories of the past surfaced in her mind. She thought back to when she didn't forgive Andy, and how that ended up leading to the latter's death and Tom's brief hatred for Annie herself. Not wanting a repeat of that whole event, or simply just not wanting any more enemies than she already had, Annabelle turned around to face Andromeda.
"I forgive you." She said, quietly. Even Annabelle wasn't sure if she was sincere, but at the moment it was the best thing she could have said for the time being.
The next morning, Kelly stood in the basement smiling as she watched Gabriel and Cassie play sit next to each other on the couch nearby. Cassie seemed to be sitting closer to Gabe than Kelly had expected her to, and was giving tips on how to fight a boss battle in the co-op video game they were playing.
"Hey cousin, I just wanted to-"
Kelly smirked. "I didn't even need to read your mind. Look I had a talk with that rock last night and basically I realized I should give you the benefit of the doubt. I didn't yesterday because I couldn't comprehend what you were going through, and I am more aware now. Just no more... jumping onto tables, deal?"
Tom chuckled, and shook her hand. "Deal."
Tom walked upstairs, and he and Andromeda left the house to go to the graveyard like he had promised. As they drove there, Tom thought back to the whole time he was with Andy while her true form sat next to him. Eventually, the car showed up on the road just outside the graveyard and the two climbed out before walking into the lot.
Tom was the first one to get to Andy's grave. His blank expression turned sad as he remembered kissing the woman who was both standing behind him and was lying in front of him at the exact same time. Time passed, the snow fell, and Andromeda seemed to be getting more and more worried about him.
"Tom, are you alright?"
Tom continued to silently stand in place for a few moments, looking at the grave. "Yeah, I'm just... it's so strange, you standing there while a part of you is in here. I know it must be equally strange for you."
"I am a magical alien hybrid who transformed into a unicorn. Strangeness is expected."
"I suppose. Hey is it okay if I get a bit of time to myself right now? I just need to process everything."
Andromeda nodded, and turned around to leave the graveyard. Just a few moments after this, Tom heard the sound of footprints stepping into snow. "That was like, five seconds." He began laughing, but that smile faded when he heard a strange, ominous growling noise behind him. It was almost like the sound of a wolf or other type of creature. When he turned around and saw what made the noise, however, he realized it was not something he'd expected to see.
It was a monstrous, humanoid creature with blazing red eyes, while the rest of it was pitch-black. Tom knew immediately, from Shale's story as well as Annabelle's description, that this was the Vornek.
Andromeda heard the noise from just outside the graveyard, and ran into it to check up on Tom. She ran over to Andy's grave and noticed an imprint in the snow, where someone used to be, and stood in bewilderment.