6.18: Over Clover

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“I will start to listen.” Alijdah cleared her throat. “That said, you mentioned negotiation. Not capitulation. Talking is hard when staring down the barrel of a gun.”

“I only remove the gun if you return our people now,” Trixie asserted.

Alijdah frowned, then again looked at something out of their field of view and nodded. She turned back. “I’ll bring them over in a shuttle. I’d prefer to talk to you face to face.”

Beam’s nose twitched before she also nodded. “Acceptable.”

Beam looked to Trixie. Trixie honestly felt a bit disappointed, she’d been wondering whether the chewing gum would have properly exploded out of her delivery containers.

But she understood, and with her own nod and a small sigh, she cancelled her interface between Rixi and the Epsilon station.



Commission from Sen Yomi

Trixie stared at the monitor in the auxiliary control room. It showed only a closed conference room door. She was toying with the idea of magically eavesdropping when Alijda walked in.

This was the “good” Alijda, the one Trixie had been speaking with about programming, not the H-one with the bunny ears currently in discussion with Fate and Beam. And presumably this Alijda wasn’t thinking about eavesdropping. But then why stand silently for over two minutes?

“You going to keep staring at my ass, or what?” Trixie finally asked, looking over her shoulder.

Alijda flinched. “Sorry. I didn’t want to disturb, in case you were doing something mystic. Uh, they making progress in there?”

Trixie gestured at the monitor before fully turning around. “Who knows? It’s early yet. I will say I’m certain your counterpart brought over that busty bunny girl not only as a personal guard, but also as a way to distract Beam. Though I doubt it’ll work.”

Alijda nodded. “You think Fate will keep Beam on track?”

Trixie smirked. “More like I think my promise of one last make-out session with Beam before I leave, contingent on the right outcome, will keep Beam on track.”

Alijda half smiled back. “Ah. You two really hit it off then.”

“Oh, not really,” Trixie said, shaking her head. “Don’t get the wrong idea. I mean, physically, sure. But any romantic feelings on my part are strictly for Beam’s sophisticated program, not for who she is as a person.”

Alijda blinked. “Hm. And are you sure Beam feels the same way about you…?”

Trixie giggled. “What, you think I got Beam hot for my human programming?”

“I just mean maybe she’s become romantically invested.”

“Mmm, as much as I’d like you say how could you NOT fall in love with this package,” Trixie stated, gesturing back at herself. “We really do have a relationship built only on needs and lusts. And I don’t get too attached as a rule, she knows that.”

Trixie eyed Alijda, trying to read between the lines.

“Why? Are YOU worried about how someone you’ve associated with at this Station might feel about you romantically?”

Alijda coughed, and changed the subject, which was enough of an admission as far as Trixie was concerned. “That’s irrelevant,” Alijda said. “I actually came in here to ask you about your name. Your real one.”

Trixie deflected. “If you don’t know, I’m not telling you what it is.”

“It’s not that,” Alijda clarified. “We both know I could probably hack to figure it out. It’s that… well… okay, so while I was stuck on the Clover station, I learned my double’s origin story.”

Trixie became curious despite herself. “Do tell, if you’re willing.”

Alijda pressed the heel of her hand to her head. “Yeah. Okay. Well, long story short, there was a point in my past when I met an alien. Mason, actually, I heard that you saw him during this mission.”

The name clicked. “Oh, the guy who called us out for being a bunch of white girls.”

“Yes. Well, ladies. Well, anyway, this Alijdah-H went with Mason in her history. Whereas I didn’t. That’s when the split occurred. Then the two had a falling out, and she returned to Earth.”

“Huh.” Trixie considered that. “So her quantum Earth is immediately adjacent to yours, or something?”

“That’s what I can’t figure out. See, as I didn’t go with Mason, I went on antidepressants, embezzled money from my corrupt company, fled to the US under the pseudonym Alison van der Land, and got teleportation powers.”

Trixie stared. “Why are you telling me all that?”

“I think largely because I want the opinion of someone with whom I share common traits and yet will likely never see again.”

“I actually meant how does your past connect to the quantum name stuff.”

“Right.” Alijda rubbed her forehead. “From what little quantum theory I’ve read, events are the cause of different Earth dimensions more so than individual actions. And external observation causes many quantum realities to blend back together. But maybe… we two were so different… she couldn’t blend, even as our worlds did.”

Trixie was reminded of her earlier discussion with Para. About whether there could be other versions of themselves running around. It had felt like the answer was no, at least until this Alijda-H issue.

“So, what, you think because you’d changed your name and location there was somehow room for both of you?” Trixie wondered.

Alijda sighed. “Possibly. Both our experiences having been so wildly unique as to prevent us from collapsing into a single dimensional existence once Epsilon observed me. So maybe my alt-self escaped detection, even came under fire for crimes I’d committed. Assuming she was even on my Earth then, and not with Clover Enterprises already.”

Trixie was fascinated by that idea. “I’d be game to investigate that for you.”

Alijda shook her head. “Oh, I could probably get that started myself. I mostly wondered what you thought about the theory.”

Trixie considered. “Seems like Mason might be a better person to ask.”

Alijda shook her head. “I know he doesn’t remember being with me. Whether by choice or by circumstance. It’s not my having a possible double that I’m wondering about here though. It’s more, under these circumstances – should I maybe return to calling myself Alison? It IS the name I go by whenever I’m not on this station, after all.”

Trixie considered again, for close to a minute. “You have as much right to your original name as anyone else,” she concluded. “Besides. Even within a single Earth, individuals are mistaken for each other on the internet a lot. I don’t think anyone here will believe you’re a Clover operative if you keep Alijda.”

“It’s not really about that.”

Trixie shifted her hands to her hips. “Then you’ll have to explain better, I’m not a mind reader.”

Alijda grimaced. “Sorry. Here’s the thing. If my history was different, I COULD have been her, been that Alijda. Right? Instead, I’m me, a changed person in all but appearance. Yet for some reason, I’m clinging to that old name. And the baggage that may go with it.”

“Presumably that’s because you still identify with the name somehow. Do you?”

It was Alijda’s turn to think in silence for a moment. “I guess I did. Before Epsilon. Because I thought I was living a lie on Earth. But after Alice moved in… well, maybe my new life as Alison is just my life. Maybe some of my suicidal thoughts are even from me continuing to wrestle with my past instead of just releasing it.”

“So maybe you have your answer.” Trixie eased her stance. “Know that I’m not saying you should forget where you come from, and remember I’m not a psychologist.”

Alijda nodded. “I get it. Do you find it weird though, people here calling you Trixie instead of whatever?”

Trixie shook her head. “No. It’s more like how someone might equally answer to ‘Beth’ or ‘Elizabeth’. Plus for me, ‘Trixie’ is a reminder of where I came from, and how I’m still in the business that I’m in.”

It had, after all, been ‘James’ who had both given her the pseudoname, and the business, once he and ‘Melissa’ had departed.

Alijda nodded. “All right. Thanks for the talk.” She glanced towards the monitors again. “I’m off. Let me know if my alt-self does anything problematic.”

“For sure,” Trixie said. Part of her was even counting on it, as she was still wondering about the effectiveness of her retooled pocket dimension armoury. “See you around, Alijda.”

The brunette woman paused at the doorway, and half smiled. “Call me Alison,” she suggested, before departing.


“The trouble with Clover Enterprises,” Fate reflected, “isn’t that they were evil, per se. They merely seemed to have a callous disregard for the consequences of their actions.”

Para frowned. “Maybe it’s because I’m not human, but is that… not the same thing…?” she wondered.

“Sometimes. The Clover group were definitely self serving,” Trixie offered up. Honestly, Para had a pretty good point, but Trixie didn’t want Fate to overanalyze it.

The group of them had congregated one last time in the main control room, after the Station Administrators had observed the departure of Alijah’s shuttle back to the Clover station. Fate had brought along a box of assorted muffins to eat.

“I’m a bit surprised by your take, Fate,” Beam admitted, who was apparently fine with continuing the conversation. “Given how you were abducted from your world and nearly brainwashed as a consequence of them giving Compton Senior dimensional knowledge.”

Fate nodded. “I know. Kind of had to make peace with that to survive though. Besides, that’s what ended up bringing me here. And my helping to put the Clover situation to rest is a good note for me to go out on.”

“That’s a good way to think of it,” Trixie agreed. She had heard from Para about Fate’s concerns over not being spoken to by the Epsilon Station’s ‘God’. It was good that Fate had apparently been able to move past that.

“And we’ll be leaving the station in good hands,” Alice said, whacking Beam on the back as she grinned. “At this point, I am SO over Clover.”

“Yeah? I wish I could be as sure,” Alijda/Alison mused. “Considering how my alt-self is apparently high enough ranked with them to be able to sign off on the agreement here. Did anyone else notice that?”

“Well, sure, but I think you can be over them too,” Alice insisted. “Come on, don’t stress over what wasn’t in your history. Yeah?”

“I… yeah.” Alijda/Alison fired off a quick smile back at her roommate.

“Now, speaking of the Clover agreement, what exactly was in there?” Trixie pressed. “I need closure.”

Beam cleared her throat as she recited from memory. “Clover Enterprises are to make restitution anywhere that they have transgressed, as decided by the ethical algorithm we provided, not their own beliefs. Further, they will not initiate any further experiments without broadcasting their intentions and possible side effects to the other party. Communicating with US if needed to mediate. Pyon pyon.”

“In return,” Fate put in, “they get all Beam’s vaccine research, and we don’t get to know the size of their organization or what else they might have been doing out there in secret.”

“Good enough I hope?” Beam purred, sidling up next to Trixie and giving her rear a quick pinch. Thankfully out of view of the others.

Trixie jumped despite herself, merely nodding back as she smoothed her skirt. She honestly hadn’t expected much more. And thanks to Fate’s choice, Clover didn’t know that Trixie had broken through the scattering field technology. So Epsilon was less likely to be caught off guard by their presence in the future too.

“What about these planets though?” Para wondered. “Does Clover start their work here, or are they still going to be recruiting?”

“They’ll be making sure Tech World doesn’t transmit the pandemic any more,” Beam noted. “Though if they were to suddenly vanish, it might raise more issues on the Fantasy World than not. Fortunately, the Alijda battle might make people more hesitant to join them, pyon pyon.”

“And as to the planets themselves, I think they’ll get out of their pandemics, based on the computer projections I ran,” Trixie offered up. “Beam will be cured too, we’ve turned on the flag that purges the bunny changes over time.”

“So we’re good,” Alijda/Alison sighed. “Missions accomplished.”

“Except… wait. Clover is powering up some sort of ray,” Alice said, hurrying to where a light had started flashing. She tapped at the keyboard. “It’s targeting us.”

“What? Open a channel,” Fate said, tossing aside her half eaten muffin.

Alijdah was back on their main screen moments later. “Hi! Just thought I’d note how there’s nothing in the agreement that says we can’t give you a parting shot. So there.” She smirked.

Fate glared back. “Alijdah! We haven’t transmitted the vaccine information yet. You want to jeopardize receiving it?”

“No worries, we can wait on firing until after you send it,” Alijdah said airily. “You DO have to do that, after all. It IS what we agreed to.”

“It’s fine,” Beam declared, moving in next to Fate. “Because the agreement doesn’t specify how we transmit my research to you. Right?” Her eyes sparkled. “Trixie, one last request, if you please.”

Oh, hell yes.

Trixie swung her arm out to the side, enjoying the sense of deja vu. “Rixi? Reinitiate Epsilon interface and materialize delivery gun.”

Again, there was the globe of light, the sphere over the hub, and then the modified gun, both in her hands and large scale, hanging in space.

Alijdah stared at them with a mixture of confusion and suspicion. “You can’t mean–“

“You want the research? It’s all in this capsule,” Trixie declared. She pointed the barrel of the gun at the Clover station, then swung it off to the side. “Protrudo.”

The capsule was propelled out of the gun barrel into space in much the same way the freeze necklace had once been fired through a hotel window. It spun off into the dimensional void as a light dusting of confetti was expelled from the smaller version of the gun in Trixie’s hand. Success!

“Son of a–“

“You should be able to track that – until the capsule gets small again,” Trixie said, cutting Alijdah off for a second time. “Still want to waste time with us?”

The communications channel was shut down.

“Ziggy?” Beam announced to the ceiling. “While they’re distracted, let’s temporally uncouple and leave orbit.”

“Understood,” came the voice of the main computer. “Please disengage your interface, Trixie.”

Trixie did so, pleased that she’d been able to test out at least one of her interface objects.

She was also pleased that Beam had suggested that backup plan in the first place, that they’d come through the entire pandemic situation without any new infections, and that she’d made some new friends.

But mostly, she was pleased that she’d be going home soon.

She raked her fingers back through her twintails once more. Only time would tell if she might ever have cause to return.


Polls on character and possible plots for possible future entries…


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Had Alijdah accepted the conditions, Trixie would have fired off confetti, and the two groups might have worked together in the future (whether Clover would have ultimately screwed that up is unknown). Had Alijdah not backed down, Trixie would have fired off a computer virus to mess with their systems, while allowing Epsilon to track Clover in the future… since the Clover station would get away but without any medications. We ended up middle of the road for the second time, with a kind of agreement to disagree and Trixie firing off Beam’s data.

First, if you missed it, there was an April Fools Part in between the prior part 17 & this part 18, so check that out. With regard to the voting last time, I didn’t want the last choice and apex of our Clover plot to be decided by a single person’s single vote. So I kept things open past the end of March, which was helpful for the April Fool writer anyway. Finally got a third vote April 2nd after the usual pleading, so closed things on the 3rd. Didn’t get much of a chance to write in the following week, but it’s done now. Thank you for sticking with me, whoever’s out there. Another post coming in a few weeks about my status and what will come next on this site.

6.16: Door Stop

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By the time Alice arrived at the fight, there were a half dozen fires burning.

Alice wasn’t clear on why Evil Alijdah was willing to allow for collateral damage. She only knew their Alijda planned to fake-out her double, tricking her into leaving, meaning Alice would need to track Alijdah back to her base.

Alice hoped it was true that Alijdah couldn’t teleport like their Alijda, or all this setup would be for nothing.

“This is what happens when you stir up trouble, Avril,” grumbled a quiet voice behind Alice.

Alice jumped, and looked over her shoulder. It was Harriet, the woman who had made the link for her between Alijdah and Clover Enterprises. A few townspeople were observing the scene by now.

“I… didn’t expect an Alijda to fight herself?” was all Alice could think to say.

“One of ’em is a fake,” Harriet scoffed. “Maybe both of ’em. Mercury better get here soon, that’s all I can say.”

Alice blinked. “Mercury?”

“Pandemic gave her control over water,” Harriet elaborated, gesturing at the nearest fire. “She can get this under control pretty quick.”

Alice had no time to follow up on that, since her communicator chirped. The sign that Alijda was about to enact her plan. Her plan of a blind teleport.

Of course, the chirp had originated with the Epsilon station itself, Alijda being rather preoccupied.

While the improved Epsilon communicators had allowed for Alijda to speak directly with Alice, here they needed the Station to monitor too. Specifically, the place Alijda had chosen as a teleport site. To make sure it was clear of people.

Apparently, it now was.

Alice remained hesitant about this plan, yet they hadn’t really been able to discuss it, what with Alijda being on the run. Now they were committed.

Alijda appeared via a teleport into the middle of the square.

Alijdah ran out of a side passage moments later, drawing another bead with her gun.

“Look, you’re right,” Alijda called out, seemingly in response to something her counterpart had said while out of earshot. “I can’t keep doing this. Why don’t we talk? Your bunny ears, for instance, we can help–”

“SHUT. UP,” Alijdah yelled. “FOREVER.”

She fired off another pulse from her ray gun. Alijda vanished in her usual cloud of purple and black smoke.

Except she didn’t.

As the smoke rapidly dissipated, Alice saw that Alijda was still standing there, clutching at her front. “Hell,” Alijda choked out, stumbling backwards.

Her foot hit the edge of a loosely boarded up old well behind her, she fell back against the planks, they cracked, and she plunged down into the abyss below.

Alice honestly felt her chest tighten, and she instinctively reached up to clutch at her tunic. That had been way too convincing. Had Alijda truly managed to teleport away from the energy ray, and then immediately back, as planned? Or had the plan gone wrong?

Even if that had worked, had Alijda’s blind teleport out of the well been successful?

Evil Alijdah was naturally suspicious, edging towards the well. It’s like she was expecting Alijda to teleport in behind her, and push her inside the hole. In the end, she got down on one knee to move in and peer over the edge.

It must have been too deep to know. Alijdah, at least, seemed satisfied.

“You’ll have nothing to worry about regarding that lady trying to recruit again,” Alijdah announced, standing up and looking over at some of the bystanders. An audacious lie.

Even more people were around by now, along with Alice and Harriet. Some were trying to deal with the largest of the fires, but most had been too nervous to move. What with how the fight had tended to change locations.

Alijdah proceeded to stalk out of the area, with no further comment. No one tried to stop her. Alice supposed that was the sensible thing to do, under the circumstances.

Alice immediately gave chase, ignoring Harriet’s quiet mutter of “Avril, you’re crazy”.

She wasn’t that crazy though. As she followed, Alice tried to keep hidden. Peering around the corners of the houses, as she tracked the fake version of her roommate. Making a mad dash forwards whenever she was able.

Fortunately, it wasn’t long before Alijdah tapped at something on her wrist, and walked into what looked like a tool shed, out behind one of the houses. After a minute of waiting for her to come out with a tool, Alice circled around to see if there was another exit.

There was not. The building was quite small. What was Alijdah doing in there?

The natural answer, to Alice at least, is that it wasn’t a tool shed. Maybe, like the telephone pole on Bunny World, it hid some sort of secret elevator. To an underground base.

Seconds ticked by. Alice finally decided she would have to risk going in.

At least this time, she wouldn’t have Trixie smooshed up against her for any length of time. Even if that had been her own suggestion on the prior mission.

“Ubi fumus, ibi ignis,” Alice muttered to herself as she reached for the doorknob.


“Alice has vanished from our sensors.”

Alijda forced herself to sit back up. “What now?”

Over the communicator, Fate sighed. “I’m sure you heard me.”

(Chibi Alijda)

Alijda van Vliet (chibi).
Commission from: Shirochya

Alijda pressed her palm in hard against her forehead. She’d hoped to take a longer rest after all those teleports to avoid her alternate self, but apparently that wasn’t going to happen. “When? Where was she?”

“Moments ago. She was a short distance away in town. Kind of hoping you can check this out.”

“You can’t?” Alijda grumbled.

“We’d focussed our sensors on where you are, to make sure your teleport would be clear,” Fate reminded. “It’s taking a while to recalibrate.”

“Uh huh.” Alijda pushed herself to her feet.

She was in a grassy meadow. It might double as someone’s backyard, since there was a house nearby, but the grass was long enough to obscure her when lying down. The twisted tree next to her been a good marker to visualize, in terms of accomplishing her blind teleport.

She really hated doing those… her stomach still felt queasy.

“I’m on my way,” Alijda said, stumbling as she walked. “Direct me.”

Fate had her standing outside a tool shed in less than five minutes.

“I don’t see anything around,” Alijda said. “No sign of a struggle, no message left behind, no nothing. You think Alice is inside this little shed, shielded from sensors somehow?”

“No. At least, the interior registers for us,” Fate amended. “So it’s not shielded. But I guess it could be a false reading.”

Alijda shook her head. “Opening the door then,” she announced.

The door pulled out, and inside there was only blackness. A pitch black that seemed impossible to achieve, given how there should have been some light spilling in from the doorway itself. Strange.

“Alice? Are you there?” Alijda yelled.

There was no answer.

“I’m going to poke my head in,” Alijda decided. “And report on what I see.”

“Be careful,” Fate cautioned. “Magic has a tendency to produce strange effects at the best of times. That world right now? Could be producing anything.”

“Great.” Alijda held onto the door frame and leaned in. The blackness enveloped her.

Before she could even speak, the door was slamming shut, bruising her fingers.


“Okay,” Fate said after a moment. “We’ve officially gone from bad to worse.”

Para felt her ears twitch as she looked at the blank screen. There should have been a green dot there, denoting Alijda’s position. Technically two, as one should be pinpointing Alice as being there also.

Para had come to the main control room after Fate’s universal page, stating ‘Warning: A situation is developing’. Alice had vanished before Para had even arrived.

Neither Beam, nor Trixie, had made an effort to respond yet. Para hoped that they weren’t asleep, or more awkwardly, keeping each other busy.

“You think Alijdah is on to them?” Para wondered. “Led them into a trap?”

“Either that, or there’s more to this World than what we see on the surface,” Fate said. She glared at the screen. “Thing is, I don’t know of anything, magical or technological, that can spirit people away like that.”

“Aside from us,” Para reminded.

Fate turned to stare at her instead. “Pardon?”

“This Station does teleport retrievals,” Para reminded. “Someone walks through a door on their world, they end up here, in our Control room. Happens all the time to me. Right?”

“Right,” Fate said slowly. “Our door manipulation power.” She turned back to stare at the blank monitor. “Oh. Oh, damn. Hold on.”

Para watched as Fate entered a sequence into the computer, and ran her finger down the screen as some sort of result scrolled across it.

“You did it, Para. Signs of door manipulation. Alice, both Alijdas, all transported using the tool shed as a doorway. But how could they get so far away as to not be picked up again by our Station sensors?”

Para shrugged, having never looked into the door technology herself. It had always seemed more mystical than mathematical.

“Seriously now,” Fate continued, seemingly talking more to herself at this point. “We’re tapped into three Worlds at once. No reading. What other World could they have gone to? Even doors have limits. Deeper scan maybe?”

Fate typed at her keyboard for a minute, frowned, muttered ‘no dice’, then looked at Para.

“Okay Para, new thought,” Fate said. “Alijdah used that door first. Where would SHE have been going? Any more brilliant ideas?”

Para was tempted to shrug again, but instead offered up, “Somewhere we can’t scan. Like when Trixie and Alice vanished, back in Jake Hyde’s underground lab.”

Fate pointed at her. “Nice. Yet you were able to punch through that time, with the sensor enhancements.”

“Because we knew where to look,” Para admitted. “This time, we don’t know. And we don’t have pylons to triangulate, giving us a necessary signal boost.”

“True,” Fate agreed. “But we DO know the origins of that scattering field technology. Maybe Trixie hacks back into Vortex Limited to find–”

Fate stopped speaking, tapped at her chin, then pushed back from the side of the keyboard and crossed her arms.

“Go with me on this,” Fate requested. “Do your good listening thing, and tell me if I’m off base. Okay Para?”

Para nodded, having no idea where Fate was going with this.

“This all started thanks to an encrypted communication we received. It led to a scan we did on this dimensional sector. Turning up the airborne virus.” She paused.

“Correct,” Para said.

“Thing is, the scan message didn’t tell us to look for a virus. Just that we needed to scan here. And Smoke, pandemic-wise, turned out to be natural. Almost. Meaning the only real reason we’re here is due to that communication.”

She paused again, and this time Para simply nodded and shrugged.

“Okay. So what if the first message wasn’t about Smoke at all? What if it was meant to help us locate something else?”

Para considered that. “You mean Clover Enterprises?” She was reminded of Mason’s comment about how the best place to stay hidden would be somewhere like a pandemic world. Somewhere nobody wants to go.

“Maybe,” Fate said. “But it may also be that Clover was drawn here by the same communication. In fact, hmm… what if the message was meant for THEM? And we simply intercepted a subspace copy?”

Para raised her eyebrows. “That could explain how they got here first, indirectly setting off the pandemic.”

“Okay,” Fate said, smiling. “We’re onto something. Bunny World flags the dimensions. Clover Enterprises responds. They get an artifact, or… you know what? Maybe this is about the scattering field technology. Honestly, it’s so unique that it could be at the heart of all this.”

“It IS something that would allow Clover to hide from this Station,” Para mused. “They’d like that. I think the Vortex documents referred to that particular tech as Mirrors?”

Fate nodded. “All right. So, Vortex Bunnies broadcast that there’s something here worth investigating. Clover comes for Mirrors. We pick up the same message later, after the pandemic, and assume it’s about the virus, Smoke.”

“Because after Clover’s techno-magic soup, Smoke became the bigger dimensional issue.”

“Right,” Fate said. “Yet we know Clover didn’t leave after that. Because Evil Alijdah was on the planet moments ago, trying to recruit.”

“All of this implying that Clover Enterprises have their own station here,” Para decided. “Or at least some ship, set up to receive encrypted messages in the same way as us.”

“And for all we know, their vessel could be off our port,” Fate concluded. “If they’re using Mirrors, we have no way of knowing. Short of setting up signal boosting pylons.”

“Exactly,” Para realized.

“Almost,” came a voice from above.

Para looked up, to see Trixie at the hatch in the ceiling. The redheaded techno-witch smiled, then reached out to flick the nearby switch. She began to ride the telescoping ladder down to the floor, in much the same way Fate had done it at their first meeting.

“Do elaborate,” Fate said, hands going to her hips.

Trixie ran her free hand back through one of her twintails, then the other. “Simply that my earlier analysis of that scattering field may pay off now. If what you’re saying is true, we CAN find them.”

Even as Fate seemed about to say something else, Trixie’s smile shifted to a more serious expression.

“The question becomes, do you want them to know that we see them?” Trixie continued. “Because that’s what will happen. And while it may make this Clover group hesitate in their future use of the tech, it may also get them upset.”

“Is there another option?” Para asked.

Trixie hopped off the ladder. “I could be more stealthy about finding them. There’s less of a guarantee of success, unless we assume that Alice or Alijda are already on this ship, and can do more on their end.”

“Trixie, we don’t know their status,” Fate objected.

Para looked back and forth between the other two. “Nothing says we have to act now,” she offered up. “We could do more research first. Fate could try to mind swap with Alice again. Something like that.”

Fate shook her head. “At this point, I don’t think Alijda-h is going to hang around any longer than she has to. We may already be too late.”

Trixie nodded. “Sums up my analysis. Glad it’s not my call,” she added.



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The capturing of Evil Alijdah would not have worked, leading to a bigger battle – while also providing more backstory of Alijda-h relative to the version we know. The bargaining with Alijdah would have worked, but owing to a misunderstanding (or other influence) would still have led to a larger conflict. The fake-out was actually middle ground… as you see, it sort of worked? We’ve had revelations of a different nature, but have now split the party. And Alijdah may have prisoners.

Trixie was always going to have to come through at some point – she started this whole serial saga. So when the vote sent Alijda down to the planet with Alice instead of her, Trixie’s Mirrors project was retroactively born (in part 14) as her contribution. (Incidentally, the ‘Mirrors’ codename was not pre-planned, but I’d say it meshes nicely with the title now.)

I actually forgot to close the poll until yesterday. Oops. Writing was mostly done, good thing it was unanimous, hard for that to change. Enjoying the twists at all? Or perhaps they were too predictable. We’re probably looking to wrap this up in the next few instalments, wouldn’t you say? In any event, thank you for your continued interest. Hope you continue to vote.

6.15: Self Doubts

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The redheaded techno-witch heard her name, but took a moment to finish her installation of the transmitter underneath the control panel. Then, after she’d finished twisting the small wires together, she took a moment to inspect her handiwork. It was good enough.

“Trixie, the other women are looking for you.”


Commission from Sen Yomi

A sigh escaped. Trixie began to shove herself back from her position, flat on her back with most of her body stuck far underneath the console. “What do they want, Para?” she asked.

“Fate wants to be able to synthesize some clothes for Alijda,” came Para’s voice. “And Beam is feeling horny.”

Trixie nearly bashed her forehead against the edge of the apparatus as she extracted herself. She caught herself just in time, shoved herself the extra distance necessary, and THEN lifted her head, staring up at the mathematical bunny girl.

Para stood there, hands clasped behind her back, looking as innocent as you please. The blonde’s head tilted as Trixie stared. “Problem?”

Trixie sighed again. She’d needed to work with Para, on account of the mathematical woman knowing about making things shrink or grow temporarily. Apparently Para had even managed to devise density suits for another mission.

And on the face of it, there was nothing wrong about working with Para. As long as it’s work that was involved. Since Para couldn’t consistently pick up on social norms.

“Could we maybe use a euphemism for that word next time?” Trixie requested.

Para frowned. “For horny? I was just repeating what Beam said.”

“I know,” Trixie assured. “But find a thesaurus. Squirrelly. Overexcited. Concupiscent, perhaps, that sounds well educated.”

Para stared, then simply nodded. “Okay.”

“It’s less distracting,” Trixie clarified. “Particularly when I’ll need only five minutes here to get Fate what she wants, before in all probability losing at least an hour of time to…” A shiver ran up her back at the mere thought of some of the things the bunny-infected Beam was able to do. “…pleasurable stuff.”

Para half smiled at that. “Okay, I think I get it now.”

Trixie stood, raking her fingers back through her twintails before reaching down to dust off her pants. “You think. You’re not sure.”

There was a moment of hesitation. “I’m more mathematical than sexual. Part of me is still trying to figure out Beam’s appeal.”

Trixie hid a smile. “Maybe you’ll find out out the hard way. If I mistake you for her in the dark some day, on account of the long, blonde hair and bunny ears.”

“Uh… i-is that likely?” Para said, sounding genuinely concerned.

Trixie shook her head. “Nope!” She reached out to pat the math woman on her arm.

“Listen. It’s not just the look, Para. It’s the attitude, and the things that Beam can do…” Trixie shook her head. “You have to experience them to understand. The way I did. It’s more than mere holographic programming. It’s somehow magical.”

This despite how the fling with Beam had started as more of an effort in self-discovery. Was sex a viable way to release tension after being stuck on this station for a couple weeks? Was the hologram’s appeal more physical, more technological, or perhaps some pull of Trixie’s techno-magic interest asserting itself?

Worse, was there a blind spot in Trixie’s own personality that Beam could reveal, to prevent future exploitation?

Their relationship had deteriorated rather rapidly into ‘yes-there-YES-oh-Gods-how-did-you-know-oh-OH’ but Trixie still hazarded that a later examination of this affair once she was back on her home world would prove illuminating. She was pretty sure she wasn’t simply fooling herself.

Pretty sure.

Plus she’d thought their recreational activities had helped Beam regain more control over herself too, furthering the goal of getting home at all. It was presumably the hologram’s hyper speed, necessary for seeking a cure to the pandemic, which had resulted in new side effects.

Trixie rather hoped Beam’s plans for her didn’t involve hyper speed too.

“I’ll take your word for it,” Para said, pulling Trixie out of her thoughts. “And sorry for being distracting.”

Trixie coughed, realizing she was now staring into space with her hands clasped together. She hoped she wasn’t blushing. Yes, time to get the rest of the Station back online.

“It’s fine,” Trixie said, gesturing vaguely as she turned and typed in her access code on the nearby keyboard. “What’s Alijda need new clothes for anyway?”

“Apparently there’s some double of her, or maybe a future version, down on the Fantasy planet,” Para explained. “So Alijda is going to pose as this Alijdah to get information about Clover Enterprises.”

Trixie frowned. That was distracting in a different way. “Here’s something I’ve wondered,” she said as she typed. “This Station exists out in a dimensional multiverse, right?”

“Right,” Para agreed.

“Where anything we dream about might actually be happening. Personified Math, Time Lords, Magical Girls, Demon Plagues, the whole nine yards. It might all exist.”

“So it seems,” Para affirmed when Trixie paused.

Trixie took the time to look up at Para. “Then are there other versions of us running around? Like is there another me out there, Mirror Universe style, who comes from a more aggressive human society or something?”

On the one hand, Trixie rather liked the idea that if she were to die – or for that matter, ascend like her cousin – there might be some other version of her still out there. Living a full life. On the other hand, if alt-Trixie was a wallflower or a dominatrix, she wasn’t sure she wanted the association.

Para’s nose crinkled as she considered the question. Trixie resumed her typing.

“I don’t think so,” Para said, after at least a minute of thought. “From what I understand, the Station registers dimensional access points using a tethered World which is dominant. The millions of individual decisions made in the framework of said world don’t manifest in an accessible way.”

“Yet there are separate Worlds out there with related events and objects. I’ve seen resonance scans, which can be used for pinpointing them,” Trixie insisted.

Trixie wasn’t entirely sure she was supposed to have seen that data, but she’d needed a break from her work last week and the files had not been well encrypted.

“That’s possible,” Para yielded. “But there’s still the Observer Effect to contend with.”

“Ah!” Valid point. “You mean as soon as we measure something out here, like the Smoke pandemic, any other waveform versions of it collapse,” Trixie clarified. That made some sense, at least.

“It seems logical,” Para stated.

Trixie paused in her typing. “Implying that any other versions of us who once existed are simply already a part of who we are now, or are at the least not capable of manifesting along with us inter-dimensionally.”

It was an answer that was something of a non-answer, in that it implied other Trixies COULD exist, but were incapable of being perceived by anyone once Trixie herself had shown up.

“Right. Though, I mean, there’s another version of me who exists with parabolic twintails, so what do I know,” Para said, ruefully.

Trixie again glanced at the blonde. “Oh? A ‘version’ isn’t really you though, is she? Different history and all?”

“True,” Para said. She tapped her chin. “Why these sudden questions, Trixie? Do you think Alijda could be going up against a quantum version of herself?”

“What I think about that,” Trixie said, as she entered the last command sequence, “Is merely an idle curiosity. What concerns me more is what else might be out there.”

As Trixie hit Enter and stepped back from the keyboard, she took a moment to watch the data scroll across the monitor. Her new system was coming online, along with the regular Station systems she’d temporarily shut down. She’d want to run a test, but could do it later.

“Go tell Fate she has access to the systems she needs,” Trixie concluded. “I’m off to see Beam.”

“Okay. Enjoy being concupiscent,” Para said brightly.

Trixie managed to avoid stumbling as she strode out of the room.


Alijda had to hand it to her counterpart. Her Clover Enterprises version was cagey.

Despite spending a couple of hours now in her disguise, there was no new information to be had. Even talking with those individuals who had previously communicated with her/Alijdah didn’t reveal anything, because her doppelgänger hadn’t said much to them in the first place.

To maximize their efforts, as it had taken some time for Alijda to obtain a change of clothing and begin her investigation, Alice had also wandered through the village under her Avril persona. To see if she could learn more about being recruited.

Neither of them were making progress. One person had even pointed Alice/Avril at Alijda/Alijdah, which felt like backwards progress.

“At what point do we switch and go with the vaccine trial plan?” Alijda asked, speaking into her communicator.

She heard the frustration in Alice’s response. “An hour ago? Sorry Alijda, I guess this was the wrong call.”

Alijda shook her head, nearly dislodging the large hat she wore, for what felt like the sixtieth time. “No worries. As it is, I’ve been acting visibly shady. So maybe the possible recruits will be turned off, and not end up as new Clover victims.”

“But getting at the Clover organization was the ultimate goal here! We cannot allow–” Alice began, only to cut herself off. She sighed. “I should stop obsessing there, huh?”

“At some point, yes. For now, I’ll keep at this, as I haven’t run into that Jonas recruit yet, and he might know…” She stopped.

And whatever Alice might have responded, Alijda missed it, as her attention had been taken by the woman who had walked around the nearby house. That brunette was immediately staring at her, arms folded.

It was nonsensical, but Alijda briefly wondered if she’d been born a twin.

“I’ll have to get back to you,” Alijda said, lowering the communicator.

“Let me guess,” Evil Alijdah said. “You’re wondering if I might be some future version of yourself. If so, you’d be immune from harm, lest I become the cause of my own past discomfort. Yes?”

Alijda didn’t answer.

The corners of her counterpart’s mouth turned up. “Allow me to correct your thinking.”

It was largely instinct that caused Alijda to teleport away as her counterpart brought out the weapon. It looked to be some sort of ray gun.

As Alijda reappeared behind her double, she saw that Evil Alijdah had fired anyway, a laser passing through the purple cloud of her teleport smoke to strike the nearby building.

A small fire began to burn.

Evil Alijdah was then quick to pick up on Alijda’s new position. “It seems like we can’t talk about this?” Alijda managed to say, before teleporting away again.

She appeared on the roof. Her counterpart’s gun started another fire.

This wasn’t what Alijda had pictured when she’d worried about everything going sideways. And even as she wondered why Evil Alijdah was damaging the village, she realized that her counterpart could later pin the blame back on HER as having been the one with the gun.

Maybe even use this event as a reason to leave with her recruits.

“I can do this all day,” Evil Alijdah shouted, not having immediately spotted the teleport this time. She then fired into a nearby tree, perhaps owing to a rustling of the branches.

Okay, that gun had to go.

Taking in a deep breath, Alijda teleported right next to her counterpart, reaching out to grab her arm. They struggled, Alijda attempting to get the other woman to drop her weapon, with Evil Alijdah trying to draw a bead on her.

In the process of shoving back and forth, Alijda felt her hat fall to the ground… and vaguely wondered why that hadn’t happened yet for her counterpart. In fact, why the large hat at all?

Along that line of thinking, perhaps she was fighting a robot double, or a hologram. Perhaps with a power source contained inside the hat, much like how Beam’s hairband was a control point for her. Maybe it was even a weak point?

Alijda decided to risk it. Giving up on the gun, which threw her counterpart off balance, she grasped the hat and yanked it away.

Two bunny ears unfurled from beneath it, twitching as Evil Alijdah let out a string of curses.

It looked like somehow, she’d been infected with the pandemic from Bunny World.

‘This changes things,’ Alijda thought, even as she quickly teleported back to her rooftop. But Evil Alijdah saw her this time, necessitating another teleport to behind the house.

A new plan was forming. Perhaps they could try to bargain with Evil Alijdah, using their vaccine? They could cure her, in exchange for leaving this World (maybe even the multiverse) alone.

Then again, the bunny effects WOULD disappear in time (supposedly), and her counterpart didn’t seem to be in a bargaining mood. Success there depended on how annoying the virus had become.

Alternatively, they could try to capture Evil Alijdah. Her double hadn’t teleported herself in pursuit. Perhaps because she couldn’t? The circumstances which had led to Alijda’s power were bizarre enough to be impossible to duplicate.

So Alice could come in from behind, and zap the woman somehow… but perhaps Evil Alijdah had other forms of backup. How big was Clover Enterprises?

A fake-out seemed like the only other option, somehow appearing to die – maybe by have a building collapse on her? – after which Alice could pursue Evil Alijdah when she left. Hopefully returning to wherever she’d come from.

Which was all well and good, assuming Evil Alijdah wasn’t inclined to search for a body.

Whatever the decision, Alijda had to make it fast.



Previous INDEX 6 Next

The tied vote was artificial (see Aside below) so we got violence escalating between the two Alijdas. Had Alice posed as Avril, she would have been a little over eager, possibly falling into a trap (and a reveal we’ll still get later)… I still gave a nod to that, of sorts. Had they attempted to recruit for the vaccine, there would have been a reveal that they were playing into Clover’s hands (given Alijdah’s condition), but with the chance of a reversal.

As usual, we had the one initial vote when the last post went up. Towards the end of January I made another social media call, and got a couple more… including a message that someone had meant to vote for Alijda and had voted for Alice. I can’t take back votes, but CAN vote myself (though I never do) so I voted for Alijda. Meaning the vote SHOULD be 2-1-1 but is instead 2-2-1, hence paying some lip service to Alice/Avril. Closed the vote Feb 5th but was still tied up in report cards, so only started writing Feb 13th. I do have more time to write for the moment, so we’re returning to posts every two weeks until mid-April. Thank you for getting this far!

6.13: Ad Hoc Talk

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“Is it just me?” Para asked. “Or is this mission going on longer than it needs to?”

She hesitated then, wondering if she’d interrupted Alijda unnecessarily during her meal. Except her human friend hadn’t even taken a bite in the couple minutes since Para had come in the cafeteria, and she seemed to be staring off into the distance.

Indeed, it took a moment, but Alijda put her fork down next to her noodles and gestured to the seat in the cafeteria across from her.

“It’s not just you,” she answered, meeting Para’s gaze.


Commission by Michelle Simpson

Relived that she had ‘read the room’ correctly, Para went to sit across from Alijda. “I mean, it’s not like I had anywhere else to be,” Para added. “But it’s not like we’re doing useful pandemic vector research or sensor upgrades or anything now.”

It had been two weeks since Trixie’s interview with the scientist from Bunny World. Beam had vaguely looked into the idea of giving him asylum on Tech World, but not seriously. There didn’t seem to be a good way to deal with his ethics.

Then Fate and Jake had switched their minds back, and they’d been able to teleport him back down… along with Officer Mikoto.

They’d left Mikoto with the distinct impression that Jake had something to do with the missing persons cases around the park. It was about as far as they’d dared to go in terms of interference with another World’s issues.

It seemed like something Mikoto would follow up on, given her personality.

This meant that, with the pandemic being natural (more or less) up to and including the dimension jumping, it wasn’t their situation to help with… though Alice had continued her viral research nonetheless, while remaining in quarantine. Beam had offered her assistance; she was still afflicted.

And as of yesterday, Alice was out.

So the only thing that was really tying them to the situation any more – aside from Beam’s condition – was the mystery message they’d received about it in the first place. Plus the presence of Clover Enterprises, but that was more an incidental event.

They were making headway on neither item. Yet they were still there.

“We’re not being productive,” Alijda agreed. “But we still might be needed to distribute a cure to the worlds not directly linked to TechWorld any more.”

Para nodded. “Oh, agreed. But you and me aren’t personally needed for that.”

“No,” Alijda yielded. “Though in the mean time, I am enjoying my talks with Trixie.”

Oh, that’s right – Para had sen the two of them together numerous times since Alijda’s own release from quarantine. They were bonding over the curious programming involved in Beam, as well as Trixie’s own magical device Rixi.

“Are you two becoming friends?” Para wondered, tilting her head. Part of her wondered if that meant she was supposed to act jealous.

Alijda let out a snort. “Friends would be pushing it. I feel like my depressive nature bothers her, while it kind of annoys me that she’s doing you-know-what with the very tech we’re investigating.”

Para stared. “Doing I know what… what?”

Alijda blinked. “Trixie and Beam. Uh, you hadn’t noticed?”

Para slowly shook her head. She knew the two women had been spending some time together without Alijda, but figured it was for some magic-tech analysis. “I don’t really pay attention to whatever doesn’t concern me.”

“Huh. Well, for the last week they’ve been… uh…”

Alijda raised one hand with the thumb and index finger connected, and moved as if she’d put her other index finger inside the space created. Then she paused and made the hole image out of both her hands, looked at them, tried to interlock them, and finally shrugged.

“Whatever. They’re sexing it up, Para. I thought everyone knew.”

Para now felt embarrassed for having brought the conversation there. Human relationships were still something of an enigma to her. “Oh.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” Alijda hasted to add. “I know Trixie’s been on edge, Beam’s got bunny sexy issues, and they’re both consenting adults so, y’know, whatever helps them get through station life. But they’re passing it off as research. I figure, at least be honest about your libidos, ladies? I mean, really.”

It occurred to Para then that Alijda hadn’t exactly been honest about her feelings for Kat in their prior missions. But she got the impression that was a slightly different relationship issue… probably best not to bring it up? Yeah.

Instead, Para remarked, “Any headway on getting the virus out of Beam then?”

Alijda shook her head. “Latest attempt was her shifting incorporeal. No dice. So we’re back to monitoring the planets to see what they come up with regarding the pandemic in general.”

Para nodded. “And any idea yet why you were in the past of Fantasy World? That one with the magic uprising?”

“Oh.” Alijda frowned. “I’d kind of pushed that out of my mind. No, nothing there. Though now that you mention it… huh. What if we travelled back in time to have me close that circuit? Maybe it would reveal how we’ll send that message. Maybe that’s all we need to finally close the books there.”

Para nibbled her lower lip. “Meaning the Epsilon crew don’t find more on Clover.”

Alijda shrugged. “That’s hardly my issue. Aside from, yes, Alice obsessing over it, and how she’ll presumably return to being my roommate.” She shook her head. “Thing is, we’re not superheroes, Para. Our powers notwithstanding. We can’t do it all.”

Para considered that. “True. And it would be nice to get home. I think that’s how I’m feeling about things now.”

Alijda smiled. “Me too.” She picked her fork back up. “Okay, going to actually finish my lunch, and then talk about the Fantasy World angle with Trixie. If I’m going back there, I could use her magic expertise.”

Para stood back up. “I’ll leave you to it then. Thanks for the chat.”

“Thank you,” Alijda noted. “We might actually have a plan for once.”


Para decided to head to the control room next, to see if Fate was there. Beam was there instead.

“Hello fellow bunny,” Beam said, grinning and motioning for Para to come in, before the mathematical woman could retreat.

Para entered timidly. “Hi, Beam. I was just wondering if you administrative types had made progress on… well, anything.”

Beam bounced on her heels, her ears twitching. “Well, you might notice I’m not dressed in a swimsuit any more. And I no longer have the pyon pyon vocal urges to the same extent. It’s either due to time, or to Trixie. Either way, calling that a win.”

Para blinked. “Trixie programmed it out of you?” She recalled what Alijda had said. “Or are you talking about how you two are… uhmm…”

“Doing the horizontal hula?” Beam quipped. “Yeah, the latter. Seems to keep my viral hormones at bay. Though Trixie’s still treating it as research, of course, so probably not a good idea to raise it with her. Okay?”

Para frowned. Then their coupling WAS research? It made Para wonder to what extent she might take things with someone on the station in the name of her own investigations of humanity.

As if sensing the uncertainty, Beam added, “Like, Trixie’s research is both into my code, and also the way I ‘charge up her hormones’. She doesn’t want this to be a weakness with her clients for in any cases she has in the future. Or something like that, I was a little preoccupied as she tried to explain.” Her tongue ran over her upper lip.

“I feel like this is more than I need to know,” Para said. “I was mostly asking about progress in case there was something I could do to help.”

“Oh, sure. Sorry,” Beam apologized, looking sheepish. “Can I blame part of the overshare issue on the virus too? You look like me, but without the horny bunny stories we can swap.”

Para pursed her lips. “Yeeeah. I have my ears for a VERY different reason.” She smiled weakly.

At that, Beam looked thoughtful. “And you know what? That’s an angle we haven’t tried. You and me, neither of us are human, both of us are part bunny… yet you’re normal. Maybe whatever passes for your DNA could be used to tweak my coding. You think?”

“I… maybe?”

Beam nodded. “I gotta raise that with Trixie and Alijda. Thanks, Para.”

“Okay.” Was she being helpful then? Para couldn’t tell any more. She edged back. “I guess there’s nothing you need me for?”

“Nope. Unless you want to check on Fate in the artifacts room. She was looking to see if something else might be helpful to get at the Clover angle. Alice is still freaking over it, to the point of investigating bringing Science Guy back to make a deal. Bad plan, right?”

“Ooh, right,” Para agreed. “And you can’t talk Alice out of it?”

“No luck yet, pyon pyon.” Beam made a face. “Damn it, that slipped out…”

“I’ll go check with Fate then,” Para agreed.

“Thanks,” Beam said, smiling and wiggling her fingers.

Para offered back a partial smile, then headed out of the control room.


She found Fate in the hallway next to the artifacts room door, leaning against the wall. The blonde woman looked up as Para approached and offered a halfhearted smile. “Beam send you?”

“Kinda sorta,” Para admitted. “I was looking for you anyway though. Are you okay?”

Fate sighed and shook her head. “Honestly? Not so much.”

Para nodded. “Anything I can do to help? Because I’ve been wanting to do something for a while now, but I haven’t been sure what.”

Fate crossed her arms. “Right. We’re sort of stringing you along at this point, aren’t we. Sorry. Did you want to leave?”

Para shook her head. “Not necessarily. I know things are unresolved, and I’m happy to help. Just feel like we’re not making much progress lately.”

Fate sighed. “Yeah. I keep looking – hoping – for a breakthrough, and… it’s not happening. But I don’t want to jump us out of time, or call the mission off either, not while there’s loose ends.” She brought her hands to her hips. “Para, am I being stubborn now? Not wanting to end my Epsilon association on this note?”

Para blinked. “You’re retiring?”

Fate gestured. “This was never meant to be a permanent position. I needed some time and something to do, and Rose Thorne thought I’d be a good fit, so… yeah. But much more and I’ll overstay my welcome.” She turned to look at the artifacts room.

Para followed her gaze. “Nothing in there that would be useful here, I take it?”

“Hm? Oh. Not without consequences, no,” Fate said. “Except, I was thinking about the phone in there. And God. And how She’s not talking to me, when she’s communicated with both Alice and Beam in the past.”

Para tried to put two and two together. “Then you want to go out having at least heard from the maker of this station?”

Fate flinched, then rubbed the back of her neck. “Huh. I guess so? Assuming the message that got us into this pandemic situation wasn’t from Her. Thing is, I don’t have Alice’s memory or Beam’s holographic abilities. I’m normal. Why would She talk directly to me?”

“Why wouldn’t she?” Para insisted. “Fate, everyone has their own skills, supernatural or otherwise. Maybe you’re doing such a good job, She hasn’t felt the need.”

Fate chuckled. “It’s nice of you to say that. Though it has crossed my mind to look more into the virus on Fantasy World, where people can have latent magical powers activated… who knows what I might get? Maybe something to see a path through this.”

Para stared. “Um. I don’t think infecting yourself is a good plan. Alijda’s report said their magic came with a dark side.”

“Oh, no worries, I wasn’t giving that SERIOUS thought,” Fate said quickly. “It’s only…” Her voice trailed off, and she looked thoughtful.

After a minute, Para decided to risk interrupting. “Only what?”

Fate refocussed on her. “Clover went after Bunny World because of the scattering field technology. Yes? So what if they could be enticed to go after Fantasy World because of the magic power activation.”

Para stared. “You want to lure them there?”

“Maybe. Yet maybe they already ARE there. We’ve been neglecting that world ever since Alijda left, that’s been a heck of an oversight.”

“In fact Alijda was talking about going back into that world’s past,” Para admitted. “To close out that doppelgänger loop.”

Fate pushed herself away from the wall. “Riiight. We need to do more investigation in the present first though, I’d say. Send Alijda to reconnect with that mystery man from her cell. See what other dimensions might know about the place, if anything.”

Para nodded. “I guess that makes sense.”

“So who should we send down with Alijda?” Fate wondered. “Trixie? They’ve been working together – or does that make it seem like I’m trying to get Beam away from the pretty redhead. Hmm. Alice then? She’s all over the Clover angle. Though we might want her help on the station instead.”

“A-Are you asking me?” Para said, surprised.

“I’ll be asking everybody,” Fate corrected, heading for the control room.



Previous INDEX 6 Next

If they’d gotten Jake asylum on Tech World there would have been a condition attached, and we’d have gone to that planet. If they’d gotten the info from Jake another way, it would have involved a bluff and staying on the Station. With getting at Clover another way, we head back to magic/fantasy world… and I’m trying to start tidying up the bits too, let me know if you see other loose ends.

I had a couple votes in November. Decided to keep things open, send out another tweet, went in Tuesday Serial. And nothing, through to when I closed the poll on December 19th. So I feel like only going a week isn’t going to change much; it’ll let me put out another part to start January, which is sure to be insane for teaching remotely, and we’ll go from there. As always, thanks for reading through to this point.

6.11: Before the Dawn

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“Stop right there.”

Beam froze in place. The police officer had reached for the stick she had on her belt. “I’m stopped,” Beam said, adding, “I wasn’t about to jump on you and smother you with kisses, pyon pyon.”

The police officer walked closer, her hand still on the end of the baton. “That’s good,” she said, voice slightly muffled by her mask. “Why were you approaching my position in the first place?”

Beam took in a deep breath. “Here’s the thing. There’s been suspicious activity in the park. I was hoping you could help me look into it, pyon pyon.”

When a transparent lie was likely of no use, best to tell the truth. To a degree. After all, they merely needed the police officer to go elsewhere, so that Para could set up the final pylon undisturbed.

The officer stopped about four metres away, sizing Beam up. Beam could now read the label on her uniform, identifying her as Officer Mikoto.

“The park is closed,” Mikoto reminded. “What activity do you mean?”

“Drones,” Beam answered. “Possibly magic as well, pyon pyon. I was just walking through, and well, it’s something that I definitely shouldn’t handle by myself.”

Mikoto frowned. “Wait. I think I’ve seen you around here before, haven’t I? A couple weeks back, before you, uh, caught the virus?”

Beam image

CHIBI BEAM (pre-bunny)
Commission from Gen Ishihara

Beam bobbed her head eagerly, clasping her hands. “Yes! My name’s Beam. I was away doing self-quarantine. Now that I’m not contagious, I’m back investigating, pyon pyon. It’s partly why I think there’s something going on here. Can you help me out? Mikoto, I’m so, euh, so worried.”

Beam cleared her throat, glad she had managed to catch herself before saying she was so aroused. Mikoto really was very pretty – even given that Beam’s definition of such had loosened considerably since the virus. The officer had short, dark hair, intense brown eyes, moderate curves and looked good in her uniform.

“Officer Mikoto,” the woman corrected, even as her stance relaxed, her hand moving away from her baton. Apparently recognizing Beam from earlier had added further credibility to the story. And although Beam had protested it less than an hour ago, perhaps wearing the large overcoat while on this mission, to cover her swimsuit, had been a good plan too.

“Okay,” Mikoto granted. “Okay, Beam. Can you show me what you saw safely, without us being detected? Or for that matter, without us being closer than two metres apart? No offence.”

Beam smiled. “None taken. And I think so. Follow after me? We’ll go in the same way I did.”

She walked off, looking back over her shoulder to verify that the officer was following. Behind Mikoto, she then saw Para poking her head out from around the corner and applauding.

Feeling her cheeks going pink, Beam quickly brought her gaze forwards again.

She quickly led Officer Mikoto around and into the park, trying to keep an eye out for drones or other activity… surely there would be something here, right? As whomever it was who had Alice and Trixie, they’d probably want to be doing surveillance for others… particularly if the Epsilon Team had tried some sort of bluff, about calling police. It was why Beam and Para hadn’t planned on going into the area at all.

Beam stopped a short distance away from the bench she’d formerly used as a place to sit and think. She again looked back at Mikoto, and gestured towards it. “It was over there, pyon pyon,” she said, mildly annoyed at not having seen anything specific yet.

Mikoto peered towards the trees and bushes where Beam had gestured. Beam wondered how long it would take Para to set up the last point of their triangle, working all by herself. Likely not that long? She might be done already.

“I’m not seeing anything now,” Officer Mikoto said, starting to peer around suspiciously in all directions. Her hand was back at her baton. “Are you certain it was a drone, Beam? Not some sort of animal?”

Beam nodded her head. “Oh, yes. At least, I’m sure it wasn’t an animal.”

“Hmmm,” came the uncertain reply. “And you said something about magic too? What exactly gave you the idea that it was operating?”

As if in answer, a purple beam of light shot through the area some distance behind them in the park. It was followed by another, and another, on the exact same bearing.

Mikoto’s baton was immediately in her hand, as she crouched. “Holy…”

‘That’s our triangulation!’ Beam realized. Para must have set up the last pylon… but was there a reason they were activating the field now? Was Para in some sort of trouble? She had to get back to the mathematical blonde.

“Yes, so, I think we should leave now,” Beam said, all in a rush. “Get going before something bad happens here that puts us both in–”

Everything went white. And then Beam found herself standing in the small set of rooms that Epsilon had sealed off as quarantine. She knew them all too well after her recent time spent there.

“–danger,” she finished.

Beam barely had enough time to register that standing around her there was Para, Alice, Trixie, some guy in a lab coat, and Officer Mikoto. Then the lights went out, dropping them all into pitch blackness.

She heard a door open, but no light accompanied it.

“Ziggy,” came the voice of Alijda van Vliet. “Lights on? Please?”

“It’s as I told you when you insisted on the activation,” came the calm female voice of the station computer. “Some systems are going to blow out.”

“The LIGHTS? Really?”

“There is a reason we do not do wide area teleportations as a matter of routine,” Ziggy said, with a hint of petulance. “Particularly when a scattering field is involved. Be glad that the lighting circuit is separate from the door locks.”

“Great. Fate’s body is still contained?” Alijda pressed.

“Naturally, as is the seal on your quarantine,” Ziggy answered.

“Lovely,” said an unknown male voice, which could only be the individual Beam had seen in the lab coat. “Though I had better be locked up too, since as I recall this mental effect has a randomized time-out.”

“Okay,” Officer Mikoto put in. “Well, before you time out or whatever, someone had better explain what in the hell is going on.”

Beam’s eyes had already adjusted to the darkness by now; she suspected that the only reason there had been a delay was the elements of her programming that made her seem more human. As such, she could see that Mikoto had taken up a defensive pose, and was edging backwards.

“Careful Mikoto, you’re going to trip over an ottoman, pyon pyon,” she warned. The police officer was heading for the comfy part of the room.

“Officer Mikoto,” the policewoman corrected, though she also froze in place. “And again, barring an explanation, everyone here is under arrest. For, at minimum, abduction.”

“I feel like this would be a good time for me to apologize again,” Alice remarked. “Fate, if I’d known it was you trying to get into my head, I wouldn’t have rejected it. I thought it was him doing something.”

“Yes, well, if I’d known the attempt would jump me to the nearest person on a rejection, I never would have enacted this plan myself,” the strange man said, crossing his arms.

Para cleared her throat. “Maybe I’m partly to blame for this new situation? Alijda just told me to get in the field, that we needed to break through with a teleport before the scattering elements took hold again.”

“Ugh, all I know is that none of this is MY fault,” Trixie asserted. “Though I am in awe of how randomly you people operate. I’ve half a mind to simply transfer the rest of the files Rixi has over to your Ziggy, and then leave your group before something more terrible happens.”

“I hope the other half of your mind wants to talk to me before that,” Alijda remarked. “Very curious about that whole tech-magic blend thing, and we have yet to properly chat.”

“There is that,” Trixie yielded.

“We would also appreciate your input in putting the pieces together, Trixie,” the man in the lab coat added. “You are good at your job.”

Trixie sighed. “And I’m not immune to flattery. But unless I miss my guess, all of us are both in quarantine and under arrest anyway? Soooo…”

“Yes. Arrest. This hasn’t been much by way of an explanation,” Mikoto said, sternly.

“If I might?” Beam said. People turned to look in her direction. Beam hoped that everyone else was starting to see in the darkness, and weren’t merely homing in on her voice.

“Go ahead,” Alice chirped in encouragement.

“On account of my situation, I can leave quarantine, pyon pyon,” Beam said. “Which means I can fix things like putting on the lights. I can even interrogate whomever’s in Fate’s body. Moreover, if I’m forced to stay in here instead, I may find myself hitting on Trixie soon, in part due to her tight leather pants. Pyon pyon.”

“She makes a strong case,” Trixie said dryly. “Anyone against?”

“Possibly,” Mikoto insisted. “I still don’t–”

“Look, we’re sorry you’re here, but you don’t want lights? Really?” Alijda interrupted.

Mikoto sighed. “Fine. But no one here try anything funny.”

Beam hurried for the exit before anyone could change their mind. Ziggy unlocked the acrylic barrier at her touch.


It had been an hour. Beam had decided to stall the others in quarantine, leaving them in the dark, once she’d learned that Trixie had resumed transferring the files from her device.

After all, it had not escaped Beam that she was technically in command for however long Fate was out of commission. Not to mention how Fate had been looking into relinquishing control of the station in any event. Bunny infection or not, Beam knew she had to step up here.

Particularly in light of what was turning up in the files.

“Ziggy?” Beam said, leaning in against the console. “Is there any other explanation here aside from them making a dimensional doorway, pyon pyon?”

“None. Vortex Limited made a dimensional doorway,” Ziggy agreed. “With the common sense to restrict it using decontamination chambers. Trixie must have been correct in her assumption, this is how the pandemic spread between Earths.”

Beam drummed her fingers. “Okay. So. Vortex gets a bunch of magic from the mysterious Clover Enterprises after trading their tech. In particular giving them things like the scattering field, which even we cannot punch through, pyon pyon. They use the new magic to, among other things, set up this underground bunker. From there, they punch a hole through to Tech World.”

“All before the pandemic,” Ziggy remarked. “And technically outside our policing, as Earths in the multiverse can do their own dimensional investigating.”

“Except for how Clover Enterprises was involved,” Beam pointed out.

“That’s why I said ‘technically’.” Ziggy’s petulant tone was back.

Beam rolled her eyes. “Anyway, Smoke soon becomes a thing due to the tech-magic-dimensional soup, and very soon after, Tech World catches a novel version. The virus must have made it through more conventional quarantine procedures, which have since been upgraded, pyon pyon.”

“Logical. This also explains how you were able to be infected,” Ziggy remarked. “Both sides were working on a computer simulation of the effects in the aftermath.”

“But that stopped a few weeks ago,” Beam continued, pointing at a date. “When Tech World cut off the link, leaving Bunny World to it’s own viral analyses. We know from our scans that Tech could then use the pandemic as cover to purge information, pyon pyon. Likely details about any dealings with other worlds, including Bunny World, the one Alijda went to, and more.”

“Another logical assumption. A world with teleporters would have had the capability to extend on the dimensional technology too, after all.”

“Loverly.” Beam hooked some hair behind her ear. “Still, two things these files don’t answer.”

“Only two?” Ziggy mused.

Beam ignored the remark. “First, why one Vortex scientist was left working on all this down there in his secret lab, alone, pyon pyon. I mean, why not a whole team?”

“I would hypothesize that Vortex Limited does not want their dimensional dealings or their part in the pandemic to go public,” Ziggy remarked. “Don’t forget, over time Smoke clears and people return to normal.”

“Except there might be side effects. And don’t enough people know about this, such that it would get out in the end?” Beam wondered. “It’s better press to say you’re working on a fix, pyon pyon. And second, while it makes sense that one of these planets would seek help by sending a dimensional message, I don’t see how we managed to be the ones to receive an encrypted communication from them. If they were the origin. A fluke?”

“I have no answer for you,” Ziggy stated, not pleased by the admission. “Though we could now apply some of the techniques in these files to attempt a better trace.”

Beam pushed away from the console to pace. Given this new intel, what was her next step? Well, probably to restore the lighting to the quarantine room, and get some help from her friends. But even then, what should she be proposing to them?



Previous INDEX 6 Next

Beam would have also succeeded in the path where Alijda physically subdues Fate’s body. With the team still in the lab, they would have had Fate pose as the lead scientist; of course, Alijda would have broken quarantine with possible repercussions. Conversely, Beam would not have succeeded if we got Alice’s mind into Fate. It would also have meant the scientist was in Alice and Fate was still in him… but Trixie would have knocked everyone out. Leaving Alijda (and Alice’s mind) to hack, and possibly Para to get Beam out of jail. Of course, we got the everyone back on board angle, as seen.

Closed the vote on Oct 1st as promised, most writing done on Oct 3rd. At what point do I give up on more readers? At least we avoided another tie. Whoever you are, thanks for reading through to this point. Hope you’re enjoying.

6.10: Mind Games

Previous INDEX 6 Next


Beam felt violated. It was one thing for an individual to not be cautious and catch a virus. It was quite another for that individual to be targeted and infected. Simply because Beam was (presumably) unable to catch the disease otherwise, and someone felt paranoid.

Despite that, Beam was trying to remain impartial. And not stare too much at Para’s curves, even as her libido kept telling her to.

“These pylons should work much like the amplifier Alijda and I installed in the station, right?” Para remarked, breaking Beam out of her thoughts.

Beam looked down at the one she was carrying, as the two of them walked along the sidewalk. “Close enough,” she agreed. “We simply anchor them in a triangle and use the field they generate to punch down through the interference, pyon pyon. Should let us get a lock on our team.”

They had already set one pylon up at a telephone pole, their arrival site, and roughly the location of Trixie’s mayday call. Their scanners implied something existed inside the pole itself – an elevator? – but they had no idea how to gain access. It likely required magic.

Para nodded, her bunny ears bouncing. Beam found herself wondering if her extra ears did the same.

“We could split up and each do one then, right?” Para continued. “That would be faster.”

“But not as safe,” Beam insisted.

Para nodded again. She seemed to want to say something else, but wasn’t sure how to phrase it. Or perhaps wasn’t sure if she even should say something.

Beam sighed. “Speak up, pyon pyon,” she prompted. “If nothing else it keeps my mind occupied more on the mission, and less on how sexy you are.”

Para’s cheeks bloomed a bit pinker. “It’s not exactly about the mission though,” she admitted. “It’s more, when you say safe… I was wondering if you meant, without me, you’d be inclined to wander off and find someone to… um… you know. Get satisfaction.”

“What, on account of every lady on the station turning me down?” Beam quipped.

Para seemed unable to meet her gaze.

Beam sighed. “Don’t worry about me, Para. While I grant that sex is one of my primary tools for solving problems, I am a professional. And as much as I might want to get it on, pyon pyon, for now I care more about rescuing Alice and Trixie. Okay?”

Para nodded. “I didn’t mean to imply–”

“No offence taken,” Beam assured quickly. “I’m not exactly myself.”

“Right. Okay.” Para nibbled her lower lip. “Meaning it’s more me that you’re worried about, should we split up.”

Again Beam shook her head. “I trust you to get the job done too. But one, I know the area already, and two, I worry that there’s a drone out there with a knockout dart. Or worse, pyon pyon. I’m not merely scanning our surroundings here for pretty girls, you know.”

“OH,” Para realized. Beam could only assume Para had thought that their plan to move around the perimeter of the park, rather than through it, was enough to keep them safe. “Sorry. I… I didn’t…”

“Para, stop apologizing,” Beam insisted. “We’re stronger together is all.” She realized her eyes had wandered south again. “All I ask is that you don’t suddenly decide to take me up on any prior offers. I don’t want to have to run a willpower check, pyon pyon.” She smiled.

Alas, Para’s face became even more red. “That’s SO unlikely,” she blurted. Then she flinched. “I mean… it’s like I’ve said before, you’re not undesirable, it’s… uh… I… um…”

Beam could tell Para was trying not to say ‘sorry’. “Ugh, again, no offence taken,” Beam broke in. “Calm down, Para. I get it. You’re not human. Possibly not bi either. My remark was more an attempt to defuse tension, pyon pyon. Along with being a commentary on… how do I put this.”

Beam paused to find the right phrasing. “Listen. I think certain people infected with the Bunny Virus are more prone to want to engage with other infected, rather than the general population.”

Para considered that. “Then you want to, er, be with other bunnies,” she clarified.

Beam nodded. “The pull is stronger. Now, maybe that’s because I, as an individual, would rather not spread the virus, pyon pyon. Even though I’m not contagious. Might be different for others, particularly if they had strong emotional ties, and wanted someone in particular to be converted with them. But if not, well… we stay together.”

Para fell silent, seemingly thinking about that as they continued their walk. “Does that mean if we run into other infected, they might try to jump me?” she said at last.

“Didn’t want to come out with it, but yes, maybe, pyon pyon,” Beam concluded.

“Ah. Thanks for being here then,” Para decided.

They reached the second point of the triangle then and set up Para’s pylon in silence, before continuing to walk around the park to get to the optimal site on the other side. They were walking, rather than running, to avoid drawing attention to themselves.

Beam checked her scanner. Ideally, they’d wanted their points to form the largest possible equilateral triangle. They didn’t know how big the underground complex was.

It was as they turned the final corner, that Beam was forced to shoot out her hand to keep Para back.

“Heck,” Beam muttered. There was a police officer down there. A female one. And while anchoring down their pylon wouldn’t take long, there was no way it wouldn’t be seen as suspicious, particularly since it would seem like infected people were doing it.

“What do we do about her?” Para murmured, peering past to see the issue.

Beam handed her devices over to Para. “I’ll try to lure her away, pyon pyon. When I do, you set up the pyon. Er, pylon.”

Para looked unconvinced. “You think you can?”

Honestly, Beam wasn’t sure. She couldn’t rely on her sexual wiles to manage it, that was the one thing everyone would be guarding against with an infected person. But a transparent lie such as ‘come here, someone’s been mugged’ might not hold up.

Para didn’t have to know any of that though. “I think so,” Beam answered. “Unless you know of some alternative?”

Para winced. “We could hope that Fate and Alijda are having better luck on the Station?”

Beam shook her head. “We’re not going to wait around on their plan, pyon pyon. Er, my plan. My plan that they’re enacting. Whatever.” She took in a deep breath. “Here goes.”

Beam headed towards the officer.


“This was a good idea,” Alijda remarked. “Working two angles simultaneously, in case one fails.”

“Except this splits our focus at a critical time,” Fate lamented. “Plus Beam knows the Station’s history a heck of a lot better than me. But she needs to be down there, as she presumably cannot get infected.”

Alijda (as chibi)

Alijda van Vliet (chibi).
Commission from: Shirochya

Alijda noticed Fate continuing to work through the security locks for the Station’s artifacts as she spoke. She could watch the other women via the Pad being carried, but was, of course, still stuck in the quarantine room.

“Don’t beat yourself up over it,” Alijda said. “Besides, this beats sitting up here spinning our thumbs.” She looked back down at the artifact listing on her terminal.

There was a click, and Fate headed into the next room. “I will admit,” Fate said after a moment, “every time I walk in here I half expect that phone to ring, and discover that God is on the other line.”

“Phone?” Alijda asked, without looking up.

“The one on the wall here. I don’t think it’s real,” Fate added. “But it wasn’t listed in artifacts either, so it must be part of the station. Unless the other administrators weren’t that great at records.”

“Ooh, don’t let Alice hear you say something like that,” Alijda remarked. “She can be a real stickler for the rules at times.”

There was a pause, as Fate presumably looked at the physical items while Alijda continued her scrolling through the catalogue. There were only around a dozen artifacts whose home dimension had not been located yet, but there was a fair amount of detail to go with them.

“Alijda?” Fate asked after a moment.

“Mmmm hmmmm,” Alijda answered.

“Did Alice ever talk much about that God? The one who, I guess, set all this up?”

Alijda shook her head, finally taking a moment to look back at the monitor. “Just, female, rescued Alice from a Hell Dimension, never met in person, seemed to give good advice. Depending on your definition of good. Granted, I never pried. It didn’t seem right, given how Alice revered her, yet got fired.”

Fate nodded, looking troubled. “Okay then.”

“Why, do you know something about this God that we don’t?” Alijda asked.

Fate sighed. “No. If anything, I know less. I’ve never received orders, the few items retrieved in my time have been due to scans we made. I’ve been wondering though, whether She is the reason we picked up on this dimensional pandemic in the first place?”

“Huh. You think our mystery message was sent by God?” Alijda tried not to sound incredulous. It seemed even less plausible than their current ‘message from the future’ theory.

“I don’t know,” Fate said, visibly frustrated. “But if it was Her, well…” Her voice trailed off.

“Well?” Alijda prompted, her attention having gone back to her item list.

Another sigh. “Well, if there is a God, doesn’t that imply the existence of a Devil?”

Alijda frowned. “Huh. I’m… not the best person to be talking to about religion. Are you implying the Devil started the pandemic though?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know what to believe about all this,” Fate said. She pressed her palm to her forehead. “I need more sleep.”

“We all do,” Alijda agreed. Her finger hovered over the current item. “Hold on. Something here, maybe. Found on an Earth denoted… PX-75309?”

“I’m listening,” Fate said, sounding more business-like.

Alijda cleared her throat. “It’s a helmet that lets you swap minds. You merely need an item belonging to the other person to make it work. And Alice has stuff up here, yeah?”

“Hmmm. You’re thinking I could briefly take over Alice’s body to learn the layout down there,” Fate deduced. “While she could be up here debriefing you.”

“It’s a thought,” Alijda agreed. “It’s unclear whether the range works when we’re not on the planet, but nothing can block mental brainwaves, right?”

“It’s worth an attempt,” Fate decided. “Reminds me of a gun enchantment in Chartreuse’s last mission, actually.” A pause. “Nothing in the room looks like a helmet though.”

“This says helmet, but the image is more like a metal fruit bowl,” Alijda clarified. “Also, uh oh, Beam’s notes say that the transfer time is random. Moreover, the person you swap with now has the helmet. If they swap with someone else, you could be stuck in the body you transferred to.”

“Unless I got the helmet back,” Fate reasoned. “Though I guess a lot of damage could be done in the interim.”

“Yeah. I think that’s what happened on PX-75309. Anyway. To activate you simply concentrate on the item you have, and on what the other person looks like.”

“Okay. I’ve got it now,” Fate said, holding up the mind helmet.

“You do,” Alijda confirmed.

Fate turned to exit the room. “I’ll get some clothing of Alice’s and bring it to an isolated area of the Station to activate. Just in case.”

“That’s prudent,” Alijda agreed. “Keep me on video to monitor the situation.”

Fate had everything set up less than ten minutes later. Alijda tried not to laugh as the woman lowered the bowl onto her head; it covered most of her face.

“Okay then. Does this look as silly as it feels?” Fate asked, as she sat down and clutched a pair of Alice’s jeans to her chest.

“Would you believe me if I said no?”

“Not really. And no word from Para or Beam yet?”

Alijda shook her head. “No, though they’re still on sensors. Should we wait?”

“No point. This might not even work.” Fate drew in a deep breath. “So here’s wishing that I could swap minds with Alice.”

“Mmmm. At times, we all wonder what goes on in her head,” Alijda joked.

At first, nothing seemed to happen. But then, Fate sat up straighter. “What is this?” Fate’s voice demanded. She pulled the helmet off of her head and looked around. “Where am I? Where the hell did my underground lab go?!”

“Oh. Oh, that’s great,” Alijda muttered.



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No one chose contacting Vortex Ltd, which would have brought us back to an Alice or Trixie POV. We might have obtained more information, but one of them would have been infected, what with mentioning putting them in more danger. Instead we had a tie. Sending down Beam and Para would have resulted in an error, potentially extracting the scientist down there as well. Exploring the station was giving us the mind swapping as seen, except it would have worked… swapping with the scientist seemed like a reasonable compromise for the tie.

I’m not sure about prophesied, but early drafts had Fate and Alice already having swapped minds (likely if we’d gone the romance angle). It seemed like a useful device to have during a pandemic, when the limitation is your body cannot leave the house. Nixed when we started with Trixie.

I kept the last vote open to see if the tie would be broken, and because it was my first full week of classes under our new pandemic teaching model. So I was busy. Closed it Friday, but before I could start writing in earnest, my daughter got sick, and gave us her cold, and we all needed Covid-19 tests to avoid being at home for 14 days which was not a feasible situation. Hence the part is late. Thanks for waiting, and reading through to this point.