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April 13th, 2020, 9AM at all points in the Omniverse, the start of Spring Break, Eternity

Threshold of Primes, The Dimension of Doors, Infinity


"I'm multiple liquid tons of 'dragon's blood', Prince. You're what, a gallon? Gallon and a half? This is stupid as hell." Above his charge, the green dragon lounged on a step, looking up at the boy with no little frustration. In the geometry-defying space Leroy Ransom-Conte, Dragon Prince of Earth-2, looked even more excessively dramatic than usual, a robe of pure white billowing from his shoulders, his feet unshod and his hair swirling in the shrill wind between worlds. In one hand was a knife of black diamond, in his other was a bundle of nerves very clearly trying to escape down his sleeves. Sweat trickled down his face as the blade approached his thumb. Beneath his shifting toes was a meticulous circle graven with Atlantean runes, with five circles intersecting at points any magician would understand at a glance, but to Leroy had been as alien as the experience of towering over most schoolmates.


"My blood is unspilt for their sake, Dio." He swallowed, focusing on the descending arc of the smiling, smiling little dagger. "I am a coward."


The dragon snorted, looking deeply unhappy "I don't think so, but...okay. Give a shout if you want something for the-"


The knife brushed his skin, and like water dissolving salt it tore through. 


"-pain." Dio finished with a sigh, hopping off the step to pat Leroy on the back as the boy's face worked fantastically, the six scars on his cheeks stretching and growing ragged. Hurriedly, as the black blood beaded and smoked, Leroy walked to each circle and marked the names they enclosed with a smear. That done, he fumbled in a backpack, withdrawing a first aid kit and sitting down to disinfect and close the clumsy tear in his royal skin. "I thank you, Almighty," he muttered, tearing a band-aid out of its box, nose wrinkled at the sting of alcohol, "for Judy Smith, and her unerring foresight."


"Now what?" Dio demanded, reclining once again, his pointed tail swinging over the edge of the abyss that gaped between the staircases wheeling and rambling in every direction. "They'll come here when they next walk through a door, but this dumb plan only works if they're all on board for visiting an Earth whose only advertisers are you and me. And one of us doesn't exactly make it sound amazing." he added with a look as pointed as his fifth limb.


"I asked if they would like to visit a magical world, meet wonders and have an adventure. They all said 'yes'. This is the agreed-upon time. They know to open a door now will transport them." Leroy completed the application of the bandage with a gentle kiss, as Judy had always done, though he remained uncertain why. Despite the obvious lingering pain, his golden eyes shone. "I have erred many times, my dragon. But this time, nothing can possibly go wrong!"

Edited by Ari
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The Eira Katastroff Natt och Dag who opened the door was dressed in brilliant, theatrical colors; a brilliant blue and gold dress that stopped just above her knees, fastened behind her neck to show the pale skin of her bare arms, her hair dyed a brilliant neon green and deepest charcoal black to match. She had a traveling bag over one arm, small enough that it could almost pass for a purse, and wore laced-up black boots that raised her in height by a solid inch.


"I am here," she commented, peering over her dark, circular glasses at Leroy before she pushed them back up to cover her eyes. She tilted her head, seeming to take in the scene, and adjusted her dress (which was showing far more stability in the strong winds than it had any right to) by sliding her hands down her sides. "I see this hasn't changed," she said with what sounded like the mild annoyance of someone waiting for a slightly overdue bus. 


Her hands on her hips, she looked up at what passed for the sky, then at the ground, digging the toe of her boot into the dirt experimentally. 

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Springing to his feet, Leroy leapt across the distance and just barely stopped himself from trying to hug Eira. Laughing giddily, arms sweeping to the misty skies, he shouted "It worked! Oh, hurrah!" He spun on his heel to stick his tongue out at Dio, the dragon rolling his eyes and unfolding a forked tongue almost as long as Leroy. Laughing again, scars thin as white spidersilk against his skin, he turned back to the first arrival.


"So splendid you could come, Night! And such attire! Such vivid plumage! The Sandparch and the Seethe wish they could be you! As do I, alas," the silver ring glinted on his hand as he flourished it down his crisp white robe with a sigh, "bleached and smothering must do for me. It would not do to draw eyes so far from my pledged." Tugging at a loose strand of hair he frowned "It will be a shame to be shorn again. Dee wears her hair long, I thought it made a nice complement."


Discarding both strands with a shrug, Leroy glanced around the Threshold and the staricases spiralling in every direction, including many that didn't make any sense at all. Some seemed to collide, but still arrive at different doorways. Some doors floated in space until you located a seemingly pointless stairway that lined up with them.


It made an intuitive sense, you could quite literally feel your way through by the patterns of tiles, the grain of wood, the arc of crystal and the compression lines of otherworldly stone. Even the doors seemed to draw or repel you, based on where you wanted to go.


Logically, however, it was all but unfathomable to someone without a mystic's knack.


As well, it was in constant motion. Stairways relocated, doors vanished or reappeared, and the whole apparatus spun in several directions around the central circular plot of dirt and stubby grass.


"While Dio was preparing the spell, I found our door. It should swing right 'round soon enough, sparing us a tedious navigation of the 'ways. What are you going to do when we get there first, Night? am going to visit some old friends! Do you like horses? I know a herd would be happy to have us!"


"They're intelligent," Dio supplied, "and their boss, Striker, likes upsiders well enough. Not afraid of anything, either, picked a few fights with dragons and lived to tell about it."

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"Am I the first one here?" asked Eira, sounding annoyed. "I was synchronized with the Claremont school clock." She took out a pocket mirror and critically checked her makeup, then rolled on a coat of black lipstick that matched the color of her glasses and nearly as shiny.


When it was done, she peered at Leroy over her glasses and said flatly, "I am here for research. You whined like a kicked dog when we went to space, and you expect me to be delighted to take your trip? Ridiculous."  After that, she remained silent until another team member arrived. 

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Mia was having a relatively normal morning, for the most part. She was getting prepared to spend some time with her grandparents, given that she had been less able to visit them while she was at school. She yawned, still in her PJs (mostly just a mostly ironic Grumpy Bear t-shirt long enough to go down to her knees), and stepped through the door, only to find herself not where she was intending to go. She looked around, eyes wide.


“Excuse me, what?” she said, staring.


“Oh. I thought I said no to this,” she said as her eyes focused on Leroy, then looked over to Eira. “I did say no to this, right? Pretty sure I did.” She looked down at herself, then up at Leroy. She thought about it. Oh. No, she hadn’t said no. She had given a non-commital ‘sure, why not’ so she could go back to watching anime.


“Ah crud,” she muttered to herself. “Gimme a second.” She reached into her pocket dimension, pulling out a pair of jeans, and stepped into them, then frowned at the surroundings.


“Isn’t your home dimension horrible? Also my grandparents are gonna kill me.”

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Mia found Leroy turned very angrily away from Eira, furiously knitting a round, white woolen hat while muttering under his breath "Whining? Pah! Like I were some glassgarden rose, quivering before a summer breeze!"


Starting at the voice of Orange Squad's leader, he turned smartly about, tossing his handicraft into his backpack as he flung his right fist over his heart. "Mustafic-Markov! I-well, our squad lacks cohesion, and you did not outright say no, so I did as I thought best for us. This will give us a chance to work together and give you a perfect opportunity for leadership!"


At the question about Earth-2's nature, he frowned "It was kind to me. To many billions of sapients and trillions of sentients. Our civilization is horrible only to tyrants and the wicked, Mustafic-Markov, nobody is hungry, nobody fears for their life, everyone does and thinks as they wish. No woman is chattel , no man a slave. There is no trade-off. No sinister catch. Oppressors fear everywhere that their vicitims will rise up, with blood and...and fire."  


He shuddered at something. "It is like the Delaztri of Paradigm," he concluded, "only for those of the many Earths. Earths that are wild and wondrous, where by ancient pact the weakest may walk without fear, and the strongest find an equal challenge!" His smile was a little shaken, but it returned in earnest. "It is a good place."


Leroy paused to scan the surrounding Threshold. "The rest of our team should be here soon."

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"Finally!," an exasperated Davyd called out as he entered.  He was wearing blue shorts and a snug yellow short-sleeved shirt, both seemingly made of some sort of shiny polyester (morphic molecules), and a Freedom Comets basebell cap, but no shoes.  He also carried a mid-sized green duffel bag, which made muffled clink clink sounds as he walked.  "Leroy, I thought you'd-"  He paused, looked him over.  "Nice robe, very minimalist.  Anyway, I thought you'd said eight a.m. -- I've been checking my closet door for over an hour!"


"Mia!"  He moved towards her with arms outstretched, offering (but not imposing) a hug.  "And Eira!  Looking fashionable, as always."  He looked around, "no Abby?  Or Lulu?"


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"Davyd!" Turning gratefully to the squad's facedancer, Leroy clasped his hand warmly between his own, his phone flicking on in his other and wincing at the missed messages. "I am so sorry! The Dog Hour seemed right to me also, yet Dio warned against it most sternly!"


"A pact with magical beings isn't going to be simple." Dio lashed the Threshold with his tail, his bone-ridge teeth-plates gleaming between thin, curled lips. With his claws, he swiped through three of the circles connecting to the larger, central circle.


"Dio is sorry as well!" Leroy said brightly "And you look ready for the beach, Davyd! A favoured haunt of the 'dancers when they descend from the Rings."


His face clouded "Ah...your family knows you are on a trip with us? Mustafic-Markov may need to contact hers later." 

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Eira stared at Mia's arrival for a moment, and then reached into her purse. What she came out with was a clear plastic Ziploc bag. Inside was a short comb, an airplane makeup kit, and nail scissors. "You will want something you didn't make yourself," she said authoritatively as she peered over her glasses. "I do not have a toothbrush or feminine products," she added with a side glance at Leroy, a look on her face that wasn't quite apologetic.


"Lulu will be along. I built a timer for her - and I am carrying a cross-dimensional transmitter if it becomes necessary." She smiled at Davyd, tilting her head as she looked him up and down. 


Looking back at Leroy, she said, "If I asked Talos, he would say the same of the Foundry, yes?" She folded her hands behind her back and waited patiently for the next arrival. 

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"If I may say so, Night, you would know he was lying" Leroy said, zipping shut his backpack and transmitting it into a chunk of black diamond. "The authentic, unfettered self is what my people value. It is the path to true power, as you shall see, and those who contain or curtail it are unwelcome."


"If you require them, Mustafic-Markov, there are 'feminine products' in the backpack. These things were not made mysterious to me and I thought it better to be excessively prepared." 


"He didn't even need any prompting, just walked up to the counter and said "Good woman, are these the most absorbent you have?"" Dio added helpfully, nailing the Dragon Prince's  earnest aristocratic diction.


Leroy reddened "It was an entirely relevant question! She had no call to laugh and make such sport of me!"


The dragon nodded "At least the heating pad and water pills were at a different store, away from any 16-year old cashiers with cruel hearts and acid tongues.

Edited by Ari
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Another doorway opened, and a beaming Lulu Beaumont stepped out, wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat, a loose white blouse with sleeves down to elbows, baggy tan cargo pants, and Teva sandals. Her outfit covered most of her pale, sun-sensitive skin while still allowing freedom of movement and breathability, all while looking sharp. Her hair was in a French braid that fell over one shoulder, and a compact North Face backpack held all her gear.


"Hey, y'all! Sorry 'bout the delay; Adam was helpin' me choose mah outfit on Snapchat." She cleared her throat and looked a little guilty. "There, uh...there may have been an impromptu fashion show." Slipping on a pair of round green sunglasses, she then made jazz hands and smiled a big showbiz smile. "Anywho, let's go!"

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"Mom and pop know I'm traveling with friends from Claremont, yeah," he nodded, "though not exactly where we're going.  I did tell them it was to the home of one of you, which seemed to put them at ease.  A bit."  He partially unzipped his bag and pulled out the neck of a wine bottle, "and uncle Sasha snuck some of these to me.  Though, uh," he glanced up at Eira, "I guess the horilka wouldn't have any effect on you."


He pushed the bottle back in and zipped the duffel back up, "so, what is the plan, Leroy?  What's there to do on Earth-2?  Or, maybe a better question is: what can the Prince of Earth-2 and his schoolyard friends from another dimension get up to?"

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"The demon drink that makes us merry, playful, and wild," quoted Eira softly. "No, I cannot be poisoned by alcohol." She walked over to Davyd and knelt down, staring at the bottle with flat blue eyes. "We should leave soon," she told Leroy without looking back. "There are predators in this dimension." She stood up and then looked at him. "And we are food.



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"Regrettably true, Night," Leroy sighed, looking at the un-marred circle still in the dirt, "a host must know when to shut the door." A look passed between Leroy and Dio, neither saying anything aloud but some idea clearly crossing both their minds as Leroy's face suddenly brightened. 


Kneeling, he pressed his palms to the circle, watching the grooves and sigils fill with black crystal. The wreath complete, he hefted it, smoothed the inside with a delicate finger-brush and set it like a crown on his head. 


"There we are!" he beamed, "Now lady Storm can find us wheresoever we go! This way, comrades!" With that the boy launched up a staircase, following a path that looked like it was made of fangs, claws and swordblades. 


"I have not gone on adventures in years, good Davyd," he explained on the way, each geometry-defying obstacle in the Dimension of Doors approached with the same childlike glee, "but no-one is barred from going anywhere or doing anything, so long as nobody gets hurt! We might visit the Shapeless, and dance with them for a glimpse of our futures! Perhaps we shall visit the Sun city and swim in seas of fire! There is a cross-worlds market where people pay in songs, Night, and Mustafic-Markov may enjoy the Spire-Rocket Challenge, where the energy-conversion of your massive creations must propel you into space! And the planets! So full of magical creatures, unpolluted splendour, untold secrets! Race on horseback through hurricanes, tweak the tails of a stonetiger, dig for buried treasure, tickle the whalesquids, dine with ghosts...!" Far from running out of breath, Leroy had begun to run out of room to say everything he wanted at once, and for a time just ran laughing through tangles of cold iron and dull red bone. "And that," he added giddily, "was just what they took me to before I was ten!"


"Here we are!" he slid to a halt before the door. It was about 80ft high and 70ft across, black as jet, or obsidian, carven all over with something too worn and faded to make out. The handle was a broken sword-hilt. "Dio, if you would?"


"On it." Flapping to a stop atop the doorframe, having avoided the maze entirely, the green dragon traced one claw along the patterns, chanting something low and cold. 


As he spoke the door softly unlatched and swung open, creaking on one half-broken hinge. On the other side was another world. Rugged, hilly, full of peaceful herds. A great city of white stone rose in every direction as broken tumbles, gaily-painted. Down the steps glimmered a peaceful blue sea in a broken stone basin, with ships sailing upon it and beaches of golden sand. Black pillars soared from the ground into the sky.


Visible in the sky was the Moon, and its eternal companion, the Earth. An Earth raw and new, volcanos visible in the seas that broke up continents of yellowed or iridescent green. In the seas shadows moved, vast and ponderous. Like a halo, a shining metal ring girdled the planet, electric lights blazing along the inward edge.


Between that and the visitors was a fantastical city-scape. Canyons of skyscrapers through which dragons soared, arcane shimmering portals attached to conductive wires, flying vehicles like retrofuturistic cars, drovers of cattle herds that stood tall as redwoods, a neon cacophony  clustered around five titanic, coloured domes.


After a moment's adjustment, the Earth-Prime natives realized that they were at the approximate centre of a hollow, semi-transparent sphere. The city ran on both sides of the shell, curving off until its lights were indeterminable from the glitter of stars. In the distance were other seas, grasslands, mountains, what could only be described as a 'mega-circus' and, rising like a black spike, a tower of utter and total darkness.


Dio had swung through the open doorway and buried himself in the dirt in an instant, rolling and snuffling with pure joy.


"Oh, it is so good to be home. Welcome, my comrades, to Earth-2. To the future of all our people." Leroy sighed, grinning from ear to ear as he stepped over the threshold.


"Do not worry about the guards," he added, waving to seemingly empty air, "they will depart if you ask. First things first, a swim! Night, do you enjoy swimming? I am afraid it is rather warmer here than your home!"

Edited by Ari
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Mia grimaced slightly, looking around her. The dome was the first thing she saw, and that seemed like immediate cause for concern. What had happened that had made people choose to live in domes? Some sort of environmental collapse? Or maybe this was a method of corralling people, keeping them contained in an easily controllable place? It would be in keeping with everything else she knew about the world, which admittedly wasn't much.


Then Leroy said something spooky. The guy really still believed his crazy mom was going to conquer their Earth. God, she really hoped she wasn't going to have to become a resistance fighter. God, she could hit really hard, too. She'd definitely be recruited by the government or something. She didn't wanna have to blow people up for the government. That would suck. What was it they did to the Abe Lincoln Brigade after the war? 


"Leroy, you gotta stop saying stuff like that," Mia said, frowning. "It's really concerning. The future stuff. Not the swimming stuff."

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Eira pulled off her dark glasses, then looked at the dome, then the beach, then tilted her head back to take in the skyscape above. When she was finished, she tapped her glasses against the flat of her hand for a long moment as she stared fixatedly at Leroy. Then, with slow deliberation, she donned the shades again, her pale blue eyes vanishing behind the darkness. "...all right, Sun Dragon," she said suddenly in her dry, disinterested voice. "Let us see what you have." Without another word, she turned and walked out of the dome and down onto the beach, the sun crunching beneath her booted feet. 

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Davyd had tried to keep his composure in the Dimension of Doors, knowing that lingering too long at the sights could leave him open to a predator.  (Wait, how did Eira know that?  The way she said it, it was like she'd been there before...)  But once the door opened to Leroy's world and the full splendor lay before him, most all control was lost.  As he twirled around taking it all in, eyes widening (far more than any humans should), tentacles sprouted from his head, tipped with a variety of eyes and ears and rhinophores, allowing him to take in a host of sights and sounds and smells.


"This is amaaazing!"


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Lulu waa stunned beyond words by the sheer alien beauty of Leroy's world; it was like walking into one of the worlds from the Prequel Trilogy,  but for real and all around you.


"Wow, Leroy; this is...a lot."


Using her TK, she picked herself up and floated high into the air, arcing gently towards the beach to take in as much of the sights as possible.

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C/W: the language


Leroy blinked at Mia. "I said...I will take your word, Squad Leader, I do tend to forget myself a little, from time to time!" he laughed to lighten the mood, racing down the steps to the cradled sea.


Trekking down the slope to the shore was the first of many encounters with a peculiar problem: it was nearly impossible to judge distance. What seemed like an endless line of steps running to sand miles away concealed a distance closed in less than a minute, the golden granules of crumbled stone whispering beneath the feet of the humans, crunching and hissing under the clumsy tread of the young dragon.


If the world above was stark, bewildering and fraught with the sharp edges of metal and crystal, the world here was weathered and softened, flowing stone, earth and water. Everywhere on the sand, people young and old were dancing, running, playing, the few sitting still up on the stone basin enclosing the small sea.


As the party approached, some of the revelers caught sight of them. Most simply smiled and waved, shouting greetings above the crowd and surf. Two teenagers, a girl and a boy, raced over from a volleyball net. "Li!" shouted the girl, her pale, sunburned face aglow and stubby black curls bouncing, "So good to see you again! Are these the Primers? Whoa, they look tough!" she whistled admiringly at Eira. 


"I'll say!" the darker, lean blond boy beside her grinned, "you can feel the psi-waves off of that one," he nodded respectfully to Louise, adding "I'm a psikon myself, miss. Li, would you introduce us?"


Leroy clapped his hands "Oh, yes! these are my nursemates, Gideon and Spethia! Eon, 'Thia, these are my commanding officer Mia and my comrades at arms, Eira, Louise, Davyd! We are here for the False Summer Lights!"


"Oh fuck yeah!" Spethia slammed one fist into her palm with a report like a gunshot, one the Claremonters felt through the ground, "I thought when you broke my and everyone's hearts with that 'I have a fiancee' stuff, that you'd only come back for the wedding! Let's have some fun!"


Leroy looked momentarily panicky. "'Thia, you are my friend, but I have never felt that way about yo-"


"We'll catch up later, Li! But first, volleyball!" Gideon spun the ball in question on his finger, silvery eyes alight, "We're having trouble finding two solid groups, Li. Hills around Littlesea are kind of busy, if you know what I mean. What about you folks? wanna play? Toughies on one side, blasties on the other?" he hazarded, with another winning smile directed at Louise.

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"Hm." A smile tugged at the edges of Eira's lips as she looked Spethia up and down, keeping a distance from the conversation as she neatly folded her hands behind her back.


Then, more seriously, she approached Leroy and said in a throaty whisper. "There are significant subjective visual distortions in this dimension against the Earth-Prime mean. What is the cause of this?

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"The Colony accelerated travel times for non-essential movements, space-time-distortion-something," Leroy whispered back, too flustered for his usual graceful lilt, "mother got sick of how long it took to get anywhere, 'Blue, set this house in order', she said, Colony and her Hive set to work, and now it does not take seven thousand years to walk down the street. All relative...somehow, so everyone looks to be at the same speed." 


"None of us warrants keeping an eye on," Dio said, the giant reptile sinking luxuriously into the dazzling sapphire waters, paddling leisurely away from the party, "all the most harmless, inoffensive folks get our speed-up treatment."


"Yeah, pretty much," Spethia sighed, looking up at the titanic domes breaking up the otherwise near-endless cityscape, "only the Army of Light and major independents get perfect synchronization with Prime-Time. You can weasel out of the distortion, but unless you like being days behind for everything there's not much use for it."


"For example, that old temple stairway? You'd still be on it, maybe until the next morning." Gideon pointed behind the group, and indeed from its base the bone-white pyramid loomed impossibly high, soaring up into the clouds orbiting a central, miniature star. "I think most of us try what it'd be like, but Spethia's right, everything's based around being able to cross New Atlantis and the other Skies in moments. Got its advantages, obviously!" he grinned, "Back on my old Earth, according to Mom, we had to be within walking distance of a water source, and if it dried up we had to look for days for a new one. Now, I can live by White's dome, waaaay over there, and still come here whenever I want!"


"Oh yeah! Do you guys know how our volleyball works?" Spethia looked worriedly at the new arrivals, "we got a few different rules, seeing as how many people have powers around here."

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Mia had mostly just been trying to take stuff in, but it seemed like this dimension wasn’t keen to let her do that. Which was more than a little frustrating, but whatever. Gideon and Spethia seemed nice enough, but Mia was not ready to immediately start playing volleyball with them apropos of nothing. She didn’t even play volleyball with the people she did know.


“Uhh,” Mia said. “Hi. I'm not really a… You know what, it’s fine. So I only found out I was coming her like, last minute so I need some time to just… adjust? You both seem real nice but you know, dimension hopping and all that.”


In order to ensure a lack of hard feelings, Mia felt she owed them some kind of gift or something. With a few sparkles and distortions in the air, two globes of her native Earth, made of sparkling glass, with the continents made in gold leaf, appeared.


“Here, take these while I figure out what I am doing with my life.”

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There was much ooh-ing and ah-ing over the miniature Earths, and Leroy's Earth-2 friends were all too eager to press gifts of their own on the party as a whole, and it brought Leroy to the verge of tears persuading them that it wasn't necessary and they really needed to be on their way. 


Dio paddled alongside them as they moved to a quieter stretch of beach. Beside them emerged the cracked and buckled basin in which Littlesea was set, carvén with the blurry remnants of ancient revelers. Out to sea, the water rocked and hilled as the coils of a giant serpent hurtled in and out, carrying a line of screaming, gleeful children and their parents back underwater, everyone strapped into seats bound to the leviathan's back. 


"That was terrifying. Yet we survived." Leroy said solemnly, turning the tail of an angry eye to his dragon when he snickered, "What shall we do? There is a public listing of the False Summer events, or we could simply tour the planets?"

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"Anyone can meet her, she is much less busy than she used to be. I even intended to see her and the rest of my family over this trip, yet..." Leroy tilted his head up to look at the black tower stabbing down like the sword of Damocles, "...I am uncertain if any of you would gain much from the meeting. Mother is rather like you, Night, if you were psychic and believed all obstacles are self-created. The odds are high she will simply insult you all and then leave, and I want this to be an enjoyable time!"


"What?" Dio turned on Leroy, confusion stamped on his huge head, "How is that not fun? They can hang that over you forever!"


"That is also what I am afraid of, yes."

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