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National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#76
The Goddamn Pacman

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Okay, there are a few bits that are a little confusing, but on the whole this is still holding up surprisingly well in terms of coherence.

The most confusing part is still Crowstone's section near the end of Chapter 2; other than that, we've got several different things going on with Chris and the doll right now. That said, there are several different plotlines that could be followed up on, so there's no need to rush to explain this one.

Here's a short list of plotlines and related questions that whoever starts the next chapter might want to consider. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list or anything.
Spoiler :
-Harrison and Tyson's investigation
-Edison and Rhianna, who's apparently also Connie
-Chris and the doll
-Woman planning to kill Harrison
-What's going on with Zembra?
-What's the girl who left Connie at the bottom of the cliff doing?
-Will Arlene have relevance beyond the very first scene of the novel?
-Where's Jessica?
11-12-2012, 05:00 PM
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Crowstone
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#77
squee~

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I will start chapter four- if i can do it in the next thirty minutes that is.
By the way that stuff i did for chapter two-
I thought that the girl in the backseat was the girl from the beginning with the doll
I had no idea what zembra was forever 12 and in fact i thought she and hanson were still in their office back home.
then the story continued and it appears that the girl in the backseat totally just killed connie on purpose and not by accident and is also working with someone who may or may not be zembra

and as we later find out the girl from the beginning is Jessica

that's how I interpreted things

---

alright, a start to chapter four, have fun!

[Image: egg005.png?raw=1][Image: egg005.png?raw=1]
(This post was last modified: 11-12-2012, 08:08 PM by Crowstone.)
11-12-2012, 07:25 PM
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Schazer
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#78
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W

wasn't the girl from Chapter One (Jessica) carried off with Chris by SJR?

I guess Slorange's subtle retcon that it was Zembra messing with Connie anyway smoothed it out, but by my estimation Jessica is somewhere near where Chris is.
11-12-2012, 08:56 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#79
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I did mention Zembra's youth a few times, but really, not catching that it was her wasn't that big of a deal. The bigger source of confusion is that my section ended with Zembra falling unconscious and then yours had her calling Connie.
11-12-2012, 09:00 PM
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SeaWyrm
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#80
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Oh, yeah. That too.
I'd assumed that was Connie's plan to kidnap her.
11-12-2012, 10:10 PM
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Crowstone
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#81
squee~

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what?
...
"He hated kids, and kids who were over thirty were even worse."
oh. Oh. I thought that meant Zembra was over thirty and was acting like a kid. :/
no biggie though!

So, the way i understand it....
Plot summary so far
Spoiler :
Jessica and Sarah Jane Rainbow wish Rhianna away, Rhianna becomes Connie.

Jessica wishes for candy rain.

Some guy makes the 8 o'clock wish to attract some wishfinders to his house

fairly straightforward, the incident in chapter one happens as Hanson and Chris go investigate the rain.
Jessica and Chris leave with the doll.

Zembra takes over candy rain case. Hanson doesn't like that.

Hanson goes off to work on his case a little more.
Meanwhile, Zembra plots to kill Hanson.
Meanwhile, Connie has kidnapped some kid who isn't Zembra, and then Connie "dies" and loses her memory again.
Her killer, Delia, makes contact with an unknown woman, who also plots to kill Hanson (maybe with Zembra). This unknown woman's ultimate goal is to make a world without wishes(?).
Hanson calls Jessica's mom, Rhianna/Connie, tracks her down and brings her to Wishfinder HQ.

Meanwhile, turns out Chris and Sarah Jane Rainbow are 'together forever'. SJR apparently has some big enemies that aren't the wishfinders(?) Chris tries to kill herself to kill SJR too, but only ends up doing a body swap. SJR is in Chris' 12 year old body.

Meanwhile, Rhianna goes all possesedy-creepy and does something. Edison is like what??? and gets knocked out

Hanson works on the 8 o'clock guy case. He and Tyson head off to Mr. 8 o'clock's place. Mr 8o says that he is trying to contact the Wishfinders without 'THEM' finding out, to give the wishfinder's a warning about SOMETHING, but he dies from poison tea before he can give much info.

character guide: (not very in-depth, doesn't have character traits, for example. i'll leave you guys to fill those parts in if you want)
Spoiler :
Arlene: dorm-mate (?) with Hanson. Best character.
Dispatcher: aka D. boss of wishfinders.
Hanson: wishfinder agent, partners with Chris
Chris: wishfinder agent. captured by SJR
Sarah Jane Rainbow: evil doll. previously owned by Chris when she was a little girl, now owned by Jessica.
Jessica: innocent little girl? her innocence is questioned in chapter three(?)
Rhianna: mother of Jessica. Apparently loses her memory and takes on new identities a lot. Aka as Connie. Good at not dying.
Tyson: wishfinder agent, working on Mr. Eight o'clock case
Edison: wishfinder agent. guarding Rhianna
Zembra: wishfinder agent, forever 21. i mean 12. is she good or evil?
Delia: tried to kill Connie. is a little girl. but bad.
Unknown Woman: works with Delia. (delia's boss?). wants to rid the world of wishes(?). needs to kill Hanson and Chris to do that.(?)
Clarence: aka Mr. 8 o clock. Was gonna die anyway. Wanted to warn wishfinders about something.

Did i miss anything or get anything wrong?

I suspect some people might say that Delia and Zembra are the same girl, but I think it makes more sense actually if you read it where the two girls are different people. That's what I've been doing and it makes sense to me! (ironically but not coincidentally, as the one who authored the apparently most confusing passage, I seem to be the least confused by what's going on)

Maybe at the end we could go back and edit things just a little bit, such as taking out this paragraph
Spoiler :
Zembra hung up the phone. Excellent! There was only one more loose end to take care of. She added a final line to the report she was typing up. “Casualties: Agent Hanson and Agent Lawra.”

Time to make it fact.

She grabbed her coat and her gun, and stepped out of the door.
because it implies that Zembra is in some sort of office typing things and we all agree that she isn't?

[Image: egg005.png?raw=1][Image: egg005.png?raw=1]
(This post was last modified: 11-17-2012, 12:02 AM by Crowstone.)
11-12-2012, 10:48 PM
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AgentBlue
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#82
that escalated quickly

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NO RETCONS >:C
11-12-2012, 11:16 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#83
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Okay, I'm writing now, maybe I can clean up some of the messier bits of plot.
11-12-2012, 11:59 PM
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SeaWyrm
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#84
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The only problem with that, Crowstone, is that not only is Zembra not in an office typing things, she should probably still be unconscious at the diner at that point, and therefore incapable of making a phone call.
I like Slorange's interpretation that it's not really Zembra on the phone, it's an impostor.
But... if Connie DIDN'T drug Zembra to make her fall unconscious, then why did she fall unconscious, and what's going to happen to her after? We still need to answer that.
11-13-2012, 12:15 AM
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Crowstone
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#85
squee~

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I just figured the bad guy(s) just used their powers to turn the lights out and make Zembra unconscious, then re-awaken her under mind control so that she could make the call.

but imposter works too!

so
that was an imposter on the phone then? And the imposter is the unknown woman?

[Image: egg005.png?raw=1][Image: egg005.png?raw=1]
11-13-2012, 12:33 AM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#86
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I just wrote another section, I'm hoping it might clear some things up.

1059 words into Chapter 4, we're catching up.

Edit: It just struck me that it would be more convenient if the link to Chapter 4 were on the most recent page.
(This post was last modified: 11-13-2012, 05:04 AM by Dragon Fogel.)
11-13-2012, 12:56 AM
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AgentBlue
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#87
that escalated quickly

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In that case, off we goooo
edit: god DAMMIT docs why aren't you working
edit: Opera you are now my writing browser.
(This post was last modified: 11-14-2012, 01:26 AM by AgentBlue.)
11-14-2012, 01:06 AM
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AgentBlue
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#88
that escalated quickly

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That took longer than expected o_o
11-14-2012, 05:45 AM
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SleepingOrange
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#89
Mirror Universe Evil Twin

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Time to do thing in thing I think
11-14-2012, 05:43 PM
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SleepingOrange
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#90
Mirror Universe Evil Twin

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I'm sorry, I don't think I can do this. I've deleted the tiny bit I managed to write. Someone else please take it from here.
11-15-2012, 03:20 PM
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Crowstone
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#91
squee~

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Alright, even though i went rather recently...


And we continue!
Someone elses turn now

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(This post was last modified: 11-17-2012, 12:13 AM by Crowstone.)
11-16-2012, 10:16 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#92
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And now I wrote a section. Chapter 4 is at 3489 words in total. I'm hoping we avoid just getting into a cycle of the same three people, but hopefully that pattern should break soon.
(This post was last modified: 11-17-2012, 06:02 AM by Dragon Fogel.)
11-17-2012, 06:01 AM
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AgentBlue
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#93
that escalated quickly

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@_____@ grumble grumble grumble
11-17-2012, 11:41 AM
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AgentBlue
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#94
that escalated quickly

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4397 words. I have no idea what the hell is going on anymore.
11-17-2012, 02:57 PM
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Dragon Fogel
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#95
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Dang it, we did get into a cycle.

Oh well, hopefully somebody other than the three of us can finish off the chapter.
11-17-2012, 04:06 PM
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AgentBlue
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#96
that escalated quickly

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/me glare of shaaaame
11-18-2012, 02:47 AM
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Crowstone
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#97
squee~

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something something i forget what this originally said

[Image: egg005.png?raw=1][Image: egg005.png?raw=1]
(This post was last modified: 11-20-2012, 01:09 AM by Crowstone.)
11-19-2012, 11:32 PM
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SeaWyrm
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#98
used to be Dfaran

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Crowstone, are you doing it? Is someone else doing it? Because if not, I'll do it.
Lemme pop on IRC and see what's up.

EDIT: Crowstone has it covered. Guess I'll start the next chapter or something.
(This post was last modified: 11-20-2012, 12:33 AM by SeaWyrm.)
11-20-2012, 12:26 AM
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Crowstone
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
#99
squee~

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CHAPTER FOUR aka The Three People Cycle Chapter

Crowstone - DragonFogel - AgentBlue - Crowstone - DragonFogel - AgentBlue - Crowstone

Spoiler :
Delia decided that she truly did like this name. How about a last name- Just image!

Delia Deathflight ran through the field, outrunning the inferno behind her. That car she dropped down the cliff- why, it had a nuclear bomb in it! But Delia Deathstriker would not be caught in the blast- unless those Wishfinders catch her!

Now she was Delia Darkslasher, leaping about in the shadows, taking down the Wishfinders one by one! The final Wishfinder trembled, standing alone, pointing his gun at nothing. Delia emerged from behind him, laughed and slit his throat.

“What are you doing, sister? Or should I say, Delia? Congratulations on the new name, where did you steal it from?”

Delia immediately stopped pretending and whirled around, “Jessica! Hello there, you surprised me. Be glad I didn’t slit your throat too! I killed your mother today!”

Jessica shrugged, “Don’t call Rhianna that. She’s not our Mother. By the way, you didn’t actually kill her. That Wishfinder found her and brought her back. I suppose it’s good that Zembra didn’t kill Hanson when he had the chance- he brought Rhianna back to their headquarters, so we know where she is at least. Mother is taking care of it right now.”

Delia paused while she processed all the new information. “So... I failed my mission?”

Jessica smirked, “Yeah, I think I’m the only one of us who actually did her job right. Though, now that the Wishfinder we captured gave up her body, we have a new official member! She might even better than me!”

Delia growled, “Shut up. You barely had to do anything. But... she has a body now? Oh boy, I can’t wait to see!”

Delia ran off into the distance, dodging missiles and bullets like a rabbit wished into a warzone. Jessica shook her head and walked on after her. So immature.

---

Hanson and Tyson split up. Tyson went to the kitchen to see if he could find out anything about the poisonous tea, and Hanson would simply search the rest of the house for clues.

Hanson found a Daruma doll. Simple and friendly, and, thankfully, nothing like the kind of malevolent doll he had to deal with yesterday. So the source of the wish was nothing too major.

There was a clatter and a yell downstairs. “Hanson!” cried Tyson’s voice!

Hanson tried to leave the bedroom but found the door had closed and locked itself. He heard a sound behind him. Hisssssss...

Oh no. Not again.


===========================


Tyson would gladly have traded Harrison’s snakes for his own dance partner. Clarence’s body has picked itself up off the floor, and currently had a death grip on Tyson’s neck.

Tyson had already grabbed a lamp and struck the zombie in the head, but it didn’t do a thing other than breaking the lamp. Now he was fighting hard to keep Clarence from strangling him.

And he was losing.

He soon found himself gasping for air, his vision growing blurry. He didn’t have much strength left.

Then he heard the sound of a gunshot, just before he passed out.

The woman let out a small sigh of relief. Tyson was the last person she wanted to get involved in this business. Hopefully, by the time he regained consciousness, Harrison would be dealt with.

---

Susan Jane carried Chris out, and they were soon greeted by two other girls. Chris immediately recognized one of them as the girl that had been captured with her. So, she had been in on it after all.

“Welcome, Susan Jane!” Delia said with a smile. “It’s so nice to meet you. I’m Delia Doomskater.”

Jessica sighed.

“Please ignore her, Sister. She has strange ideas on how to behave. How is your new body?”

“It’s fun! And I really hope I can keep Chris, we’ve been through so much together.” Susan Jane Rainbow hugged her doll tightly.

“Let go of me,” Chris muttered.

“Don’t be silly, Chris. We’re together forever, remember? Even after you lose all the magic. You won’t even miss it, it’s not like you know how to use any of it.”

“That’s enough, Sister,” Jessica sighed. “You might give her ideas.”

“Hmmph. Is she always Miss No Fun?”

“Not quite this much, usually. She’s just a little cranky because of what she had to do,” Delia explained. “She doesn’t like making wishes, and she doesn’t like being used as a power source.”

“It was less than pleasant,” Jessica agreed. “Thankfully, if all goes well, we shouldn’t ever need to do that again.”

“So what happens next?” Susan Jane asked. “Considering the work you two get up to, I figure Mom’s got something in mind for me.”

“Well, Mom’s busy,” Delia said with a sigh.“Right now, Zembra wants to see us. Right this way.”

Chris was taken aback. She remembered that name... Agent Zembra Aswang.

She had wished to be forever twelve years old.

Or... had she? Was she another doll? Was she working with them?

Delia and Jessica lead Susan Jane down a hall to an office, and opened the door.

“Yo, Zem!” Delia shouted. “New girl’s here.”

Chris heard a heavy sigh. She couldn’t see too well, not the way Susan Jane was holding her... but the voice that spoke up was frighteningly familiar.

“I suppose it was too much to ask that one of you would have the manners to knock. I’m still in the middle of preparations.”

“Preparations for what?” Susan Jane asked. She sounded confused.

“What does it look like? You didn’t take a blind girl’s body, did you?”

“Well, no... But I don’t understand why you need us for this. In fact, I was under the impression it had been done already.”

The new girl sighed.

“It’s complicated. Short version is, it’s going to be harder than you think and I’ll need some help. Actually, why don’t you tighten her restraints, might speed things up. Just put the doll on that coathook, we can take care of her later.”

Chris felt herself being lifted up, and then had the unpleasant feeling of being hung.

But she could see now, and what she saw surprised her.

Agent Zembra was lying on a table, unconscious, and a small doll that looked frighteningly like her was issuing orders to the girls.

============

Harrison ran. Out the door, leapt in the car, slammed on the gas; rapidfire speed dial on the car phone and getting nothing. Nothing. That was worrying in itself. D always answered. That was the point.

He weaved through traffic, ignoring petty contrivances like traffic lights and other cars. A sedan clipped his back bumper as he sped through an intersection, fishtailing him slightly - but he pushed the pedal down further and ignored the screams. The early evening sunlight dappled amongst the towers of the University and bore its way into his retinas as he drove west; steel and glass gave way to older bricks and mortar, fast-food joints and boutiques changing into bookstores and stationery shops. In some places the change was quite abrupt, resulting in anomalies like the speed-reading ultra-high-velocity book delivery store (‘Your textbook in 30 minutes or less!’) and the highly impractical yet inexplicably popular eraser dress, sold only at Mighty Pen Dress Sense. It was all lost on him, however, at the speeds he was going.

At the University’s conception, the founders had wished for their creation to be ‘the largest, greatest, best and most enduring place of knowledge in all existence.’ And endure it had. As the world grew up, blew up and screwed up around it, the University remained a stable point in history, taking the uneducated in, sending the elucidated out into whatever world would take them. And perhaps as a result, the grounds turned up more Artifacts than any other known place in the world. It was said that there were whole patches of four-leaf clover growing deep within those labyrinthine complexes.

And labyrinthine it was. One unforeseen consequence the University founders had failed to take into account was exactly how enduring it would become. The outer edges of the University district often struck visitors as being ‘quaint’ and ‘old-fashioned’, but only the Wishfinders and the University faculty knew the truth: as one delved deeper into the center, the more anachronistic the buildings became, until - well, no one knew. Exploration teams ended up with amnesia, in completely unrelated areas or in pieces. But what everyone understood was that in the past, there had been a lot more Artifacts. A lot more - and only the most radical of scientists dared say this aloud - free magic, even.

All this flew right through Harrison’s head as he brought his car to a screeching halt outside the Inquiries building. He fingered his Wishfinder’s badge, lightly. Hopefully it could get him the answers he -

Tyson! He’d left Tyson there with Clarence the Zombie! A spasm of guilt snaked around his heart - but the snakes -

Pieces began to come together as he sat there amongst the smell of smoldering rubber. ‘She knew I hated snakes.’ He scratched at his stubble slightly. ‘Then Clarence dies, and comes back as a zombie, and the snakes come back...’

He trailed off. A siren’s dissonant wail began to sound somewhere along his haphazard path. Slowly, Harrison got out the car, and gripping his badge, he walked into the University proper.

---

Jessica, Delia, Sarah - Sisters of the Magical Indeteminacy.

‘Delia! Stop making up these ridiculous names!’ Zembra chided.

Oh yes, Zembra, too. But not Zembra. A doll, that spoke with her voice. Chris twisted and hung there on the coathook, bewildered, as the real - physical, biological! - Zembra Aswang lay unconscious on the office table, the doll issuing orders to the three girls.

Well, two point nine. On occasion, Sarah Jane Rainbow’s body would let slip a streak of blood - Chris’ blood - that pooled on the wooden floor of the office. Upon closer inspection with plastic, unmoving eyes, ‘Delia’ didn’t seem all there either. It was difficult to focus on her; as if her identity was as malleable as mist. And Jessica - well, Jessica was different. The tears had dried, the lisp had gone - it was as if the girl had grown up overnight without aging. They all did.

Zembra groaned, and the doll turned to her. ‘Shhh, little Zem. Sleep now. I’m not done with you.’

‘What are you doing to her?!’ Chris didn’t want to draw attention to her again, but - this was a fellow Wishfinder! She could see the badge tucked away in a pocket, a silent signal that something had gone horribly wrong; even commonly undercover Wishfinders like Zembra would never keep their badge in such a vulnerable place. Nothing about this scene looked right.

Doll fixed doll in an unblinking gaze. ‘Why, nothing, dear Christina. I’m simply using what she isn’t.’

If she could have spat, Chris would have. ‘What, consciousness?’

Zembra’s voice gave a high, childish giggle. ‘Exactly! Hit it right the first time! You are a smart one, Miss Chris.’ The laugh continued, but the child from it was slowly stripped away, replaced with something far, far worse. ‘Let me ask you - what happens to the rest of someone’s life, if they wish to be forever young?’


============

Chris had nothing to do but answer. “It never existed, right?”
The more she found out from the Zembra doll, the better.

Zembra’s voice laughed, “Well of course you don’t know anything about how this works. Sarah and Delia here started out as dolls. They can never grow, and for this reason, they will stay as young as the bodies they’ve stolen. Jessica and I, on the other hand, started out as humans, just like you. When we disrupted our lives with eternal youth, some of our future continues to live on. I am older than you in terms of wisdom, but younger in maturity. Quite the opposite with Jessica. So what happens to the rest of our future?”

Chris looked at Zembra’s body on the table. “Does it die?”

The doll-Zembra laughed again. “It does! Good job again! Zembra would be about 50 by now if it weren’t for me. That Zembra never got to be realized, never came into existence- until now. But we have to be careful! She’s a little angry for what I did to her...”
Zembra voice trailed off and snarled.

Her body on the table opened its eyes and snarled back. It twitched and shook, then remained still.

Chris’s glass eyes widened. “So... you’re bringing an alternate version of yourself here... but why?”

The Zembra on the wall sighed. “There are trade-offs between youth and age. I wish I could have everything. It’s a pity I have to lose my body, but it’s a worthy cost for such a powerful monster.”

Chris had one last question. “Why are you telling me this?”

“You’re our ally! You’ve done nothing but help us, and soon, you’ll do so willingly. It won’t be long before you join us as a sister.”

“A sister of Magical Indeterminacy!” Delia piped.

“Shut up!” both Zembras said in unison.

The unrealized-future Zembra sat up. “So I’ve been listening.”
The doll Zembra cocked her head. “Yes, I know.”

“You got something wrong though. I’m not angry because my life never came to be. I lived a full life. I was a successful, happy professor. I married Danny Fowind. Do you remember him, little miss Aswang?”

Zembra frowned. “No.”

Mrs. Fowind hissed, “What a pity. You lost everything when you wished to be young. Are you truly happy, the way you are now?”

Zembra remained silent.

“Anyways, the real reason why I’m angry is that I’m here, and not in whatever world I used to live in. Now I’m just as miserable as you are. Who do you want me to kill? I want to go home as soon as possible.”

Zembra smiled again. “Well I’m glad you’re being agreeable, but we need you for more than just a simple assassin’s job. We can handle that sort of stuff ourselves.”

Jessica scoffed, “Yes, maybe if you sent me. Must I remind you that Delia failed and now Mother has to clean up her mess, and that thanks to you, Hanson is safe and sound in the Academy?”

Hanson is alive!, Chris cheered silently in her heart.

Mrs. Fowind laughed, “Oh, so you’re still fighting, I see! I figured that with me on the other side, the war would be over as soon as it was for me. I absolutely destroyed you stupid doll girls. I guess that this is what you get for stunting your growth, miss Aswang.”

Zembra frowned again. “So, you were on the other side? Are you still willing to help us?”

“Of course. I don’t care what happens in this timeline, just as long as I get to go back to mine in the end. So, what exactly do you want me to do?”

“First of all, we need you to tell us the Academy’s weaknesses!”

“Hm. But I don’t know anything about this world yet. What do we have to work with?”

Mrs. Fowind hopped down the table and stood her full height. Despite being in the body of 12 year old Zembra, Mrs. Fowind had subtly grown taller. She stared down at the three girls. “What are your names? Delia, Jessica and Sarah?”

The three girls nodded.

“And of course little Zembra Aswang is no longer useful besides talking. How about this other little doll?”

Chris said, “I’m Chris, but... I’m not part of this group.”

Miss Aswang snickered. “Not yet.”

Mrs. Fowind nodded. “Ah, so you were the one Sarah recently stole her body from. I agree. You’re not part of the group- yet. Well, I guess your clothes would still be lying around somewhere. After I change into some clothes that fit, how about I go meet your Mother?”

Sarah led her out of the room. “Right this way!” she said cheerfully, leaving a trail of bloody footprints.

The three girls and Mrs. Fowind left the room, leaving Zembra and Chris hanging on the wall.

-----------------

Hanson entered one of the many Academy Executive offices. He waved his badge to the security and in return, they waved him in.

He approached the Inquiries window. “Hello, I’d like to know some information about Clarence...”

Hanson didn’t have a last name. In his rush to safety, he had failed to pick up any useful information that would have helped him in his search.

To his surprise however, the inquiries officer said, “Oh, yes, the man who made the eight o’ clock wish. We know of him. I assure you, everything that man has said about us is false.”

It was a lucky break. If only Hanson could find some way to squeeze some real information out of this man. He would know what to do next.

==============

“Well, that’s good to know, but I’m afraid I can’t just take your word on that,” Harrison said. “Wouldn’t be doing my job if I did.”

“Of course,” the Inquiries officer replied. “Trust is in such short supply these days, it’s a shame. But, as we have nothing to hide, I would be happy to entertain your questions.”

“Well, I’ll start with the easy one. How did you know Clarence made the eight-o-clock wish? We don’t give out a lot of information on cases, you know. So have you been spying on us, or have you been withholding info?”

The officer was unfazed.

“I read your mind, sir. It’s a wish I made carelessly when I was a young lad. I’ve learned not to delve too deeply, both for politeness and for my own sanity; you were thinking of him strongly, so it was a simple matter to gather the relevant information.”

Harrison glared.

“Have you considered asking before you go around reading minds?”

“Sir, I have to try very hard not to read minds, and sometimes I falter in my resolve. As I said, it was a careless wish. I do apologize, I assure you I am restraining myself at this moment.”

“You know, they have treatments for that sort of thing now.”

The officer smiled.

“The Academy has use for such abilities, Agent Hanson. I would prefer to continue being of use to them. And no, I did not gather that from your mind - I learned it from your badge.”

Harrison frowned.

“In that case, I think I’d like to talk to someone about just what it is the Academy does.”

“You’ll want to speak to Marlon, then,” the officer replied calmly. He wrote something down on a card. “This is his room number; I’ll let him know you’re on the way.”

---

The Zembra doll stared up at Chris.

“Okay, everyone’s gone,” she said, grabbing a broomstick. She held it up to Chris. “Come on, it’s time we got out of here.”

Chris was puzzled, but she also didn’t see any point in staying on a coathook. She grabbed the handle and carefully climbed down.

“What exactly is going on?” she asked.

“Long story short, my older self and I are in cahoots. Sort of. It’s hard to keep coordinated when one of you doesn’t actually exist.” Zembra put down the broomstick and sat on it. “This flies, y’know. Wish I made back when I was ten. I don’t keep it around just for show.”

Chris sat down behind her.

“I’m going to play along with this for now because I don’t see what else I can do,” she sighed. “But could you explain what’s going on and where we’re going?”

The broomstick started to float off the ground.

“I don’t even know where to begin. It’d take hours for me to explain everything. But what we’re doing now is easy enough.”

The broom flew out through a window, shattering the glass, and shot off into the sky.

“We’re looking for Danny Foswind. He’s the key to unraveling this mess.”

“What?” Chris was confused. “The man your unrealized-future-self married?”

“She never got married. That was just a ploy to give me his name. I’ll explain the rest when we find him, otherwise I’ll just be telling the same story twice.”

---

“Mother, our new friend is here,” Jessica said, smiling.

Zembra ‘Foswind’ wasn’t smiling. She was dressed in Chris’ clothes, and seemed nearly six inches taller than she had been before.

“Let’s get down to business, Mom,” she grumbled. “All your girls told me is that I’m supposed to help you figure out how to get past this Academy thing’s defenses. So what is it? And make this quick, I want to get back to my own timeline.”



==============


Academic Dean Marlon McPhee was not a large man or an old man, nor had he the intimidating physique of one nor the wizened image of the other - but he had a way of filling the space of a room. As Dean of the Academy Faction, he commanded an oratory skill not common to University faculty. His detractors, numerous in number, often asserted he’d wished his way to the top, with Artifacts recovered from deeper within the University grounds. Yet despite cloud of talk that formed a veritable aura of suspicion, McPhee stayed in position as face of the Academy, year after year. Even when University proper was reabsorbing the remaining Factions all around them, the Academy remained staunchly independent, strongly defended, and stupidly tenacious.

So as Hanson stood before Dean McPhee, he felt the sudden urge to curl up in a corner and submit to the stocky, ordinary, white-haired man a full head shorter than him, simply through the social pressure of reputation. Or maybe it was the shotguns the Academic guards held like candy canes, almost pretty enough to taste. He had his pistols too, of course. Wishfinders were exempt from weapons restrictions when in the line of investigation, and Harrison Haddenson Hanson’s investigative nose had taken him here, via a perfectly justified and legal route which definitely hadn’t involved reckless driving and endangerment of practically every pedestrian on the way there.

“Agent Hanson?” McPhee cleared his throat, loudly, bringing the Wishfinder back to earth. “Yes. I appreciate your coming all the way here, but what I don’t understand is - what do the Wishfinders want with me? As I understand the Arc Neutrality Pact, your jurisdiction on University grounds is tenuous as it is.”

Ah. A diplomatic out. Someone doesn’t want me here. Hanson took a step forward. “That’s all very well and good, Dean-”

“Please, call me Marlon.” McPhee picked up some paperwork to scan, the very image of ‘you are wasting my time, insolent troublemaker’. “Everyone seems to.”

That’s because you insist and no one dares cross you, you ridiculous old fart.

“Marlon. A murder was committed, Marlon. And we have good reason to believe one of your staff made a wish related to our case.”

The Dean replaced the paperwork, steepled his fingers, leaned back in his chair. “Only reason? Circumstantial evidence?” He transferred his gaze to the Wishfinder’s eyes. “I’m afraid that’s not enough, Agent Hanson.”

Damn. Another tack, then. “I notice you’ve got a telepath working the front desk.”

“Saves time.” The paperwork again. “It’s far more efficient for inquiry staff to understand their inquiries without the messy intermediate communication in the way. We’re thinking of getting a clairvoyant in.”

Hanson sighed. “Per-perhaps I should consult him, to...to talk to someone else.”

The Dean smiled without looking up. It was not a nice smile. “There isn’t anyone else, Agent Hanson. You’re looking into the Academy, Wishfinder, and only Academy staff know about the Academy.” Slowly, pale hands crumpled and kneaded the paperwork into a ball. “And all Academy staff work for me. Even that bloody Clarence.” One hand pulled back, aiming for the wastebasket-

“Clarence’s dead.”

The hand paused. “Oh.” And started again. Swoosh. Perfect basket. “Well, that’s certainly a loss. Bloody kid was trying to understand the universe anyway. Those ones get a little...you know. Off-kilter, come thesis time.”

Hanson planted a fist on the Dean’s desk, causing a clatter as the two guards put their weapons at the ready. “Are you calling me a liar?”

“Stand down. No, I’m calling Clarence a bloody liar, Agent Hanson. He was nothing but a radical art student. No use to anyone, anyway. Trying to find the Source of All Wishes - heaven knows why he wasn’t killed-”

Something there pinged in Harrison Haddenson Hanson’s mind as he turned to leave. “Can...can you tell me more?”

---

Two dolls flying downtown on a broomstick. Several crazy people claimed to have seen such a thing, and were sticking with their story with surprising coherency for crazy people. Of course, being crazy people, no one listened to them much anyway.

They were right, though.

Chris and Zembra fluttered madly in the wind as the broomstick sought out Daniel Foswind - the man Zembra would have married had she never been eternally young. Except she wouldn’t have, not in this timeline. Not in any timeline. Fiances forever, and in some realities not even that.

‘A wish criticality, see,’ Zembra began to say as they flew through the dimming sunlight, ‘a gigantic mess of wishes and counterwishes by a dozen people all around the same day, the same place, the same event. Is it any wonder it formed a ma-’

‘I thought you weren’t telling me anything until we found him, Zembra.’

‘Right.’

---

Zembra ‘Foswind’ was a growing girl. The Sisters had needed to play with time quite severely to make that work. Zembra Aswang was still unconscious, forever young - yet at the same time another Zembra, one taken from a timeline the night before her wedding day, parked next to the Academy Inquiries building with her three precious little sisters, Sarah, Delia and Jessica.

And at the exact same time, Zembra, who for all intents and purposes, could be considered the real, continuous Zembra, was currently also inhabiting a doll, was flying on a broomstick with an equally doll-inhabiting Chris.

Yeah, we don’t get it either.


===============

Marlon waved his hands both authoritatively, yet apathetically. “I’m sure you’ve heard all the rumors, Agent Hanson, that there is a great source of magic at the center of the Academy, the source of all wishes. And you of course know that those who have searched for it have never emerged... unscathed.”

Hanson nodded. Was that it? “So, you’re just saying that Clarence went looking for the Sweaty Cur, huh?”

It was the Wishfinders’ nickname for the Coeur des Souhaits, the supposed thing that causes them so much trouble every day. Marlon did not get the joke.

“You’ve got it backwards. It’s called the Cur Day Sweats. I prefer to just say the Heart of Wishes- I can’t get the pronunciation right and I don’t think you did either. Whether or not it’s the source of all wish granting, you should at least take Clarence’s warning: don’t try to look for it.”

“But why would he tell us, the Wishfinders, and so indirectly? And that doesn’t explain who killed him.”

“I told you- he was driven crazy. Perhaps he believed in the conspiracy theories about you people. Perhaps he just killed himself in his insanity. Based on your story, he was trying to kill you too, but the fool clearly messed up.”

Hanson hadn’t told him about the snakes though. Hanson knew that it was the dolls who took him out- but what Hanson was trying to figure out was if the dolls were working with the Academy.

Hanson directly accused, “What if he found out some sort of secret about the Academy? He had to tell someone without letting my boss know- because she might tell you. It’s my job to figure out the truth behind it, and I’m not going to accept that Clarence ‘just went crazy.’ Like it or not, but as long as I’ve informed you what I intend to do, you have to let me freely take action to do it.”

Marlon turned his back on Hanson and looked out the window. “Yes, I certainly don’t like that. But it’s a pity that no one, not even your Dispatcher, knows that you’re here, right?”

How did he know that? How much can those telepaths read? As if unlocking telepathic powers of his own, Hanson knew to get onto the ground.

Bam! Bam! Hanson narrowly dodged the blasts from the guard’s rifles. Hanson jumped back up and held his gun to Marlon’s head.

The guards paused, but kept their aim steady on Hanson. Marlon shouted, “It’s just a-”

Hanson spun and shot both of the guards in quick succession. They slumped to the ground. “-tranquilizer gun,” finished Marlon.

“You know this can shoot bullets too. What were you thinking, shouting that?” said Hanson, backing away from Marlon but keeping his gun aimed at him.

Marlon turned around. His face was black and featureless as coal and his hands turned to obsidian, and extended claws. His head burst into flame and a glowing white crack split down it, from which Marlon’s distorted, echoing voice whispered something indistinguishable.

Hanson took a step backward, then opened fire. With each bullet colliding with the smoldering head, a spark of lightning launched it elsewhere in the room. A glass trophy hanging on the wall shattered, and with a wave of McPhee’s hand, it reformed and settled neatly back as if nothing had happened. After three bullets, Hanson stopped and lowered his gun. Then he noticed something in the window.

----

“Something big is happening! I can sense the power of wishes, lots of them,” Sarah said excitedly!

Delia bounced up and down in her seat. “I can feel it too! It’s getting stronger! Wow! That’s a big wish being made!”

“I hope this isn’t Hanson’s way of calling for backup since we cut off his communications to base.”

Mrs. Foswind’s clothes were still a little loose, but she was filling in. She shook her head. “No, otherwise he would have done so sooner. How powerful is the wish?”

Sarah and Delia’s uncannily realistic eyes widened. “It’s getting even stronger!” Sarah said, amazed.

“It’s unbelievable! What’s going on up there?” Delia exclaimed.

Mrs. Foswind said, “Okay! Forget Plan A. Hanson is already dead. We’re going after the Heart of Wishes.”

---

Hanson pointed behind McPhee. “Is that a car?”

McPhee ignored him and lunged forward with great speed, raking Hanson with his claws, then stood back and looked down with nonexistent eyes. Hanson grunted in pain, fell to the ground and clutched his wounds. Hanson was going to die for sure. Still, he managed to choke, “No really... what’s with that car...”

Ugh. Such stupid last words. He should be thinking of something else in his dying moments. Someone else... He had never gotten to tell her...

CRASH! The car rammed into McPhee, knocking him forward. With the flailing of his arms, Hanson’s wounds healed themselves, as if nothing had ever happened. With renewed vitality, Hanson managed to roll out of the way just as the car pinned McPhee to the wall where Hanson was slumped moments before.

“Really should’ve hired a Clairvoyant,” McPhee gasped with a hiss like steam. His head no longer glowed, and merely smoked.

Hanson looked into the car, heading for the door in case it was time to run. Was that Zembra? No, too old. Her clothes looked familiar. But more importantly, there was that little girl, Jessica! Jessica hopped out of the car and ran towards him. “Mr. Agent! Oh I’m so glad you’re here!”

Oh hello Hanson... Give me a moment... I’m not used to this body getting hurt so easily.

It was Sarah Jane Rainbow! She was here somewhere! Jessica hugged Hanson’s legs. “Please... don’t let them take me back...”

Hanson nodded. Against dolls and superpowered deans, he stood no chance. At least he knew they weren’t working together, right? The best thing he could do was save this child and bring her to safety. He picked her up and ran out of the door.


Chapter 5

[Image: egg005.png?raw=1][Image: egg005.png?raw=1]
(This post was last modified: 11-20-2012, 02:12 AM by Crowstone.)
11-20-2012, 01:09 AM
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SeaWyrm
 RE: National NaNoWriMo Doing Month!
used to be Dfaran

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Someone else should start the next chapter. Don't wait for me to do it.
11-20-2012, 11:23 PM
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