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Penthouse Suite, Newmar-Kitt Building, Central Park, Manhattan, New York

9 am Monday 24th August 2020

 

It had taken fifteen minutes to overcome the various alarms and traps but Callie finally had disarmed all of them, all but one. She hoped that it would be enough to bring her elder self to come see what she was up to this time, her features reflecting against the glass of the Raven suit that both of them had worn before. She wondered if her other self set all this in place to train her abilities, always the teacher at heart as she was now.

 

Today was special for them both as it was her birthday, and whilst spending the night with her father he’d mention how he’d try to surprise her every birthday. Still as sharp as ever she knew that he’d put the idea to do it for her elder, who tended to avoid celebrating now. She knew something bad had happened, though the details were still a little vague, but she wanted to do something to say thanks to the other her.

 

Still she couldn’t do all this on her own, so she’d asked for some help on this day, the firsrt of which would be arriving soon. And even if this didn’t work then at least they could have a party just for her.

 

And you never knew someone might surprise her as well.

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Nevermore II

 

Callie was good. Like, real good. Then again, she was supposed to grow up to become the second Raven, right?

 

When he had gotten the invitation, Charlie hadn't wasted any time. A birthday party, and Callie wanted his help? Oh yes, he was in

 

He had arrived early, waiting and taking in the scene. One of Alek's ground rules that was sticking: Always take notice of the scene before going in somewhere. It had kind of stuck. So, he had watched Callie arrive, and enter, just waiting behind before finally moving through the building a bit after her, just waiting and watching her work, until finally deciding to let her know he was there. If she hadn't already discovered him, of course.

 

"Y'know, before I met you I never thought anyone would put in security to keep time travelling versions of themselves out." Short pause, he smiled. "Still, nice work."

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Madame Raven

Well I don’t like all this at all!” from the rather spacious kitchen came Ms Napier, Callie’s guardian also from the past “I may still look good but they’re not going to allow me at that fancy school and all.” she playfully patted one of the space bun’s she’d teased her afro into “Besides you’d have to be an idiot to want to go back to any school as an adult.”

 

She offered a drink and some snacks she’d made, the caterer not having arrived yet, which whilst she was a better guard than cook they weren’t that bad.

 

Calliope has said you can stay here for as long as we remain, and I promise I’ll visit when I can. Look I’ve even bought friends.”

 

She turned to Charlie and smiled briefly before going all serious.

 

I know right, you’d figure we’d think the same but for some reason she’s super paranoid about something. It is a family trait I know but there’s something going on here I don’t know about.” she looked a little sheepish before adding “It part of the reason I asked for you to drop by early. Something happened to Calliope, to older me, something the adults won’t tell me about.” she gave a cheeky grin before adding “Technically its my birthday as well, so think of it as an early present!”

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Then the door flung itself open, and two figures appeared. One was familiar enough - Ashley Tran in a biker jacket and leather, gloved hands at her sides as she stepped in. She looked around, a sharp look on her face, and called out "Okay, I'm here! What was the big emergency-" She eyed the room, looking at Charlie, Calliopie, and everything else in that space. "Wait a second. That wasn't a code. There was an actual party?" she demanded, sounding thoroughly disgusted. 

 

The girl behind her gave a cautious little wave to the other two. The two women resembled each other though the second speaker was clearly younger, vaguely Eurasian features with dark hair down to her shoulders, eyes hidden behind dark glasses and wearing a dress that came down well below her knees. "Well it's okay, Ashley," said the girl with a distinct Southern accent, "Ah mean what safer place could Ah be in than right here?" 

 

"Okay, okay," said Ashley, sighing as she automatically scanned the room. "You just...talk to them for a minute. I'm going to see if I can raise the Raven..." She took out her phone and began irritably jabbing at it. 

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Nevermore II

 

"Sure. For some reason." Charlie shrugged. He knew that something had happened, but it wasn't something that either Alek or the older Callie had told him about, and there parts of the computers that he didn't have access to yet. That was probably part of it. He was just about to tell Callie, when someone burst in. 

 

Charlie whirled around, reaching into his coat for a ravenrang and then froze. It was just Ashley, and some girl. A few years older than Charlie and Callie, maybe? He let go of the ravenrang without having revealed it. He was about to say something to the girl, then realized what Ashley was saying.

 

"Hey, hey, no need to call the Boss, right?" He quickly moved towards her, hands held out. "Callie just wanted to throw herself a surprise party, there's not gonna be a lot of surprise party, and you know he's gonna spoil the surprise, right? C'mon, we'll just have a bit of fun, right?"

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"C'mon, Ashley," said her escort with an exuberant smile. "You always said you wanted to, uh, surprise the Raven!" 

 

For just a moment, Ashley assumed the manner of a long-suffering elder sibling before putting away her phone. "Okay. But if things go south here, you and I are leaving - end of discussion." 

 

"Sure thing!" said the girl cheerily. She walked fearlessly up to Calliope and Charlie, sticking out her hand for a shake - her grip was warm, fever-hot or more, but she didn't seem to be suffering from it. If anything she wasn't sweating at all. "Hi there, Ah'm Judy." 


"Yes, she is," said Ashley with a glance her way. "Judy is my ward." 

 

Judy grinned at that. "Hah, that makes it sound like you'll have me in shorts before you know it!" 

 

"That was _one_ costume, and it was _one_ summer," Ashley grumped affectionately, hands in her pockets. 

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Nevermore II

 

Yes! It worked, thanks to Judy's little assist, but Charlie's mind was at something else right this moment.

 

"Wait... Ms. Summers made you wear shorts for your costume?" He was wide-eyed, looking back at Callie for some confirmation about how hilarious this was, then quickly stepped back out of Ashley's reach, just to be on the safe side, before he quickly accepted Judy's hand and shook it.

 

Slightly hot to the touch? Odd. So, some powers probably. And Ashley's ward? That probably meant Judy was the reason for Ashley being at Claremont, her top secret mission. "Hey, I'm Charlie. Ashley's been telling us exactly nothing about ya." He said the last bit with a wink and a smile, of course.

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"Oh Ah'm not very interesting," said Judy glibly. "Tell me about you, are you really gonna be the next Raven?" She was all smiles as she talked to Charlie, practically sunny as she stood by his side. 

 

"It was hot and they were armored, what can I say," said Ashley with a shrug. "You'll feel pretty stupid about things you wore when you were a kid when you're my age, buddy." She walked up to one of the bottles of ginger ale already sitting out for the party and cracked it open. 

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Suddenly the door to the bathroom opened, letting the sounds of a sink draining the last dregs of water, and a hand-towel being placed back on the hangar, drift out. They were followed soon after by a voice that most in the room knew rather well by this point.

 

"I'd be more insulted by that, but I know what you really meant, Ashley."

 

Despite literally no one having seen him arrive, Aleksander walked out of the bathroom, having apparently availed himself of the small half-bath off the living room. Clearly he'd just finished washing his hands. 

 

"Got your first three texts, by the way. Sorry about that, I only got notice about this last minute."

 

There was a slight edge to that, but only a slight one; Ashley could likely intuit the multi-layered reasons why. Alek turned to Judy with a polite smile and offered her a handshake. 

 

"Hello Judy. My name is Aleksander, but you can call me Alek. I've heard a lot of things about you."

 

His eyes moved to Ashley in an over-exaggerated motion, before giving Judy a rather obvious wink.

 

"All good, I promise. As for Charlie here, that isn't a conversation that needs to happen for a while. His current business name is simply one of convenience; you know how big into legacy our circles can be, I would imagine."

 

Alek was clearly still a young man; barely younger than Ashley, in fact, though he showed it a bit more in general. So it didn't seem likely Charlie would have to immediately take his shoes, at least. 

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Winnie Napier

Winnie came to rearrange the table to cover up Ashley’s disruption of her well laid out table, mussing to the younger hero as she did

 

I don’t know about you but I miss having to looked after my ward, even if she was often a pain in my tush. A tush I’ll have you know look amazing in hot pants.” she grinned “Still if I’d stayed in the Feds I wouldn’t be here right now, and I guess I can’t go back right now what with it being far to complex.”

 

Madame Raven

Callie smiled at Ashley, hardwired by now to be a good host.

 

Hi I’m Callie, and until the birthday girl turns up I guess this is my party.” after a moments consideration she went for air kisses as a greeting that for some reason made her teeth tingle.

 

You know you do look familiar, I’m sure I came across you in an image whilst I was catching up on my history. Some kind of family picture I’m pretty sure.” for a moment she had that intense Summer’s look, before dismissing it with a shrug

 

No worries though, this is a room full of people with there own secrets and stories to tell.”

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Sure, Charlie might feel stupid about the things he wore right now one day, but right now? Right now he was filing away having to find some pics of that. There were bound to be something in the computers back in Freedom, and...

 

His thoughts didn't get much further when Alek announced his presence. Charlie suppressed a small curse, and instead opted for a "Hey boss," before quickly turning away. They were busted. So, so busted, but... Alek seemed to take it all rather well? Alright, the surprise party was still on then.

 

"Y-yeah," he agreed with Alek's statement about him becoming the next Raven. "Maybe some day, but Alek's not that old yet. But I'm good with just being Nevermore for now. I mean, I'm awesome and everything, but I still got a lot to learn."

 

Back to Callie. "Alright, its your party. So, what do you want us to do? Knowing Ms. Summers, she's gonna show up soon. Standard decorations, hack her sound system to play a birthday song when she walks in?"

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  • 3 weeks later...

Madame Raven

Callie gave a little shrug she’d been wondering how this was going to go down as well, she wasn’t sure that anyone would turn up to begin with. She was happy that this Raven Family seen so close close, if not a little on the dysfunctional side.

 

Its always hard to tell what she’s going to do, she’s me but she had a… few years on me y’know” she shrugged before adding with very little confidence

 

I’m pretty sure that she won’t gas us into unconsciousness first. Though I guess it would be the first time that the surprise would be on the guest over the birthday girl.”

 

Maybe this wasn’t as good an idea than she initially thought...

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"Omigosh the real Raven!" said Judy, putting her hands together and not quite glowing at the sight. "That is so amazing!" 

 

Ashley gave her ward a long-suffering look, then shrugged as she made eye contact with Winnie Napier. "I wouldn't know," she commented laconically. "I'm just a teen vigilante." She tossed back a shot of the ginger ale as she returned to Judy's side. 

 

"All the Ravens here in one room, like one big heroic legacy...Hey you guys," said Judy suddenly, "Did you know there's a universe where Ashley is the Raven? Isn't that crazy?"

 

"The multiverse is full of worlds where everybody's evil, a zombie, or the Raven," said Ashley, "and I happen to know that two out of those three are true. So what's the plan?" she asked. 

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"She might, if A-... Raven's anything to go by..." Charlie muttered to himself, crossing his arms, and remembering to stick to codenames at the last second. It was odd, everyone but Judy knew who the others were, but he had to keep up appearances "At least it'd be better than the vest."

 

He had seemed just a bit down after Alek's appearance, but that quickly turned around after Judy started talking about an universe where Ashley was the Raven. "Oh, really now? That sounds absolutely crazy." He grinned from ear to ear now. "I guess Raven's the one in armored shorts there, then?"

 

But, back to business. Callie wanted help to surprise herself. Alright, time to get to work. Turning back to her, he moved his hands into his pants pockets. "So, what do we got? You want a cake? Light show? Decorations? I could probably whip some instant music up on my noisemakers." Of course he'd brought his utility belt. Never went anywhere without it.

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Alek smiled slightly as Judy gushed over his heroic persona. He waited for Charlie to break up the rush of words before speaking up. 

 

"Mm, I've seen some files on alternate universes. Some aren't too bad. Some are...well, I'm sure we all have some idea about how some roads not taken aren't the best sort of roads."

 

He watched Callie and Charlie get to work on planning the party for the elder/current Miss Summers. Ashley's attention was diverted enough to that conversation to miss the shadow that passed over Alek's eyes as he watched young Callie speak, but Judy was both paying enough attention, and socially astute enough to intuit there's something going on. Still, it's just a moment, and when Alek spoke, it was on lighter topics.

 

"Isn't that music what you normally use on those things, Charlie?"
 

His eyes twinkled with amusement as he asked his apprentice the question. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Madame Raven

Callie gave a cheeky grin, obviously having given this a lot of thought, or maybe not.

 

I have no idea, I’m making this all up as we go along.” she gestured around “She is me after all so anything I can think off so can she. So massively improvising. That doesn’t include like music though, I think our tastes diverged thirty odd years ago. So I trust you all to pick something suitable.

 

She looked at the costume wondering when she should open the final lock, if she needed to anyway there was a chance that Calliope was already on her way here, she might even be here waiting for the right moment to reveal herself.

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Judy shifted uncomfortably for a moment, then excused herself to go to the powder room - Ashley following a moment or two later. There was a conversation in there that was muffled enough to be incomprehensible but clear enough to be audible; followed after a few moments by the sound of water running. 

 

When they were done, the two 'sisters' stepped out together and Judy made a beeline straight for Callie. She gave the other girl a big hug, her skin almost hot to the touch. "It's okay," she whispered almost inaudible, "Ah know how hard this must be for you," then stepped back to give her a sympathetic look. "We're going to give you and your other self the best party you've ever had." 

 

For her part, Ashley looked around uneasily and found herself standing next to Alex - struck and not for the first time by how the two of them were the oldest in the room, and she was the oldest of them all. She shot Callie a look, then shot Alex one, raising a questioning eyebrow. 

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"Nah, boss," Charlie didn't even look up from where he was fiddling with the music. "That's samples from your greatest hit back at the cave."

 

Something suitable for old Callie? Probably something 90'es, then. Maybe something a bit on the darker side, that'd fit with her usual mood? "Help me out a bit here, Watchdog? If anyone here knows anything about music for older people, I figure its you or Raven."

 

Sure, Judy knew Ashley's name, but still, he figured he could just as well stay used to the codenames before he slipped up.

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Alek had a glass of...milk?...when Ashley came over; it appeared to pair with the cookie he was eating. Where did he get the cookie? Well, he was the Raven. His eyes shifted toward his fellow "graduated sidekick" when she stopped and glanced at the young Callie, then at him. He raised his milk for another sip, then kept the cup up for just a moment as he spoke softly enough only Ashley could hear him.

 

"I gave her one year from the day we met the young one. If she hasn't said anything by then, I tell her myself."

 

Then Charlie challenged Alek's taste in music. The vigilante raised an eyebrow at his apprentice, took a loud sip of milk, then spoke up.

 

"Are you sure Callie's into Trooper and Fratello Metallo? She strikes me as more of a glam rock fan."

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"Judy doesn't know about the secret," said Ashley softly. "I wouldn't tell her something like that." It was hard to keep just a little judgement out of her voice, even now. "But she was asking why there was tension around birthdays, so I told her what happened. About what made the Raven...the Raven." She sipped her ginger ale and called out, "Ani DiFranco! That's what she puts on for quiet times." She turned to Alek and said, "She used to try really too hard to be folksy; she'd put this stuff on when I was cooling down after a workout and ask if I wanted to talk. I was like "No, I don't need to talk," and I don't think she liked that very much..." 

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