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alderwitch

Inside Out, Upside Down [IC]

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Taylor had been stretched to the breaking point and then some. After some terse words exchanged with Jack (and perhaps a chair or two thrown), she'd been forced back onto yet another emergency but something had tickled in the back of her mind. Had been tickling in the back of her mind so this time, after the emergency, she'd waited around and spent some time doing some serious scrying and spell casting to check her suspicions. What she'd found left her more coldly furious than Taylor had ever thought she could be.

Normally, her return to the library was soundless as she filtered in from one reality to another but this time, Phantom ripped time and space asunder, leaving bolts of eldritch energy flashing and crackling through the windows and a fell wind knocking over papers and sending them whipping around the room. She seemed unaware or uncaring of the magical storm she was causing in the library as she tore through it, tossing priceless volumes aside in some sort of personal quest.

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Avenger was a friendly vampire, it was true, but he still had certain expectations about where and when his mate would be available to him. No, strike that, Jack was as patient as any husband about his wife's busy, demanding career, but over the last few months it had become increasingly obvious that it was taking her further and further away from him, both mentally and physically. It was an ugly feeling, especially when you were already inclined to be paranoid, and where the society of alternatively a squalling infant, a vampire coterie, or viciously beaten thugs wasn't actually inclined to make you feel any better. So he had exchanged words with Taylor: how could she leave him with the baby so often, or worse, leave when he had to leave as well, leaving their son with a sitter half the time? The misplaced Jack Jr. who was an adult had his own life to lead, and couldn't be on call to his parents whims.

It had been an ugly conversation. For once, he'd been the one throwing the chairs. But despite all that, the sound of violence and magical eruptions in the library was enough to get his attention. He was angry, not stupid or neglectful, and was in the doorway almost immediately as he heard his wife's arrival cascade into eruptions of light and noise. "Taylor!?" he called, peering at her amid a brief nimbus of magic. "What's going on?"

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"Stupid! How could I have been so STUPID?!" Phantom's voice but Taylor's tones as she threw a heavy tome across the room and let it smack into the wall, leaving a dent in the plaster. "I know better! I deal with gods and powers every day and yet she blindsides me! After everything I've done! Everything I've given up! Fine, She wants to play games, but I'm going to change the rules on Her."

Taylor wasn't prone to ranting. She was very much the actions speak louder than words, and while there was certainly a great deal of action going on in the library. The upholstery was never going to be the same, that was for certain. But while there was all of that going on, she was certainly ranting. Taylor floated in the center of the maelstrom, hood tossed back and mask pushed down. Rather than the usual white, her eyes were the same light spangled black of the Void but most noticeable was the necklace missing from her throat. Instead it floated in front of her, the chain snapped as she searched for something in the depths of the library.

"No more."

That was softer but some how more venom filled.

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"Baby, if this is about earlier, I didn't really mean those things I said," he told her reassuringly. Well, not all of them. "I know you love me and Jack Jr. more than you love your job and...hey, what's going on with the Eye?" he asked her, studying the floating magical jewel with some trepidation. "Look, if something weird is going on with work, I can get your friends from that big conference on the phone and maybe they can help out? You know some of them have some well-equipped libraries, like what's her face with the green skin, I'm sure they've got something that can help..."

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Taylor looked at him, finally looked over at him. "All that time. All those emergencies, they were fake. They were frauds. Just the tiniest hint of Atlantean godhead tainting all of those incidents that kept calling me away over and over again. I've been a dimensional guardian alright, protecting the multiverse from the meddling of the same goddess that commanded me to protect it."

Her hands reached towards the amulet, her fingers curling in her gloves as she began to focus bright beams of power in the palms of her hands. White light so bright it burned to look at it. "She's been stealing my life away for busy work. And I want to know why."

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"...what!?" Avenger blinked, taking all that in. He knew what it meant to have a patron and protector turn sour, but somehow he'd never thought to have it be an issue here. "Heshem's been jerking your chain this whole year? How long has this been going on?" Not since she'd started with her mission, surely, they'd fought far too many interdimensional monsters together for that. "Criminy..." He ran his hand through his hair, then looked up. "Well, we're in one of the most protected magical spots in the city, aren't we? Why don't we summon some part of her right here and right now and have it out? We've got all those shields we used when we were messing around in the vampire dimension."

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"Too long. Too blasted long. I am no one's toy." Taylor agreed with him as she moved her hands up and directed the bolt of searing light at the Eye until the metal glowed white hot and started a low chant in the language of long lost Atlantis, something that was half prayer and half invocation and burned the air with pure power. Reality itself gave way under the onslaught, tearing a jagged rip in the fabric of the dimension and leaving a gaping hole in the sky that wept light.

"WHO DARES..." It was a terrible and glorious voice, one never meant to be heard by mortal ears and even Taylor winced and turned her face away as if it would mute the sound. "Chosen, why have you summoned ME?"

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Avenger avoided fleeing the presence of the incarnate divine and its terrible anathema to his undead flesh by sheer force of will. She cannot drag me to Hell, she cannot drag me to Hell! This was Taylor's show, really, and her conversation to have, but Jack still stood ready to back her up. In case the freaking god decides to start an argument. I'd be on fire already if there weren't so many wards around here. With any luck, they'd stay up even as his wife had the conversation she needed to have with her boss. How do you tell a god off, anyway? He had a feeling he was about to find out!

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"I have served, at great personal price. Unquestioning and unwavering only to find you've torn me away from my family for manufactured crisis. Crises that You have caused!" With some serious will, Taylor turned her face back towards the light although squinting. "Why? Why would you repay my service with deceit? You've stolen months of my life, time I will never get back and all to put right problems that You caused!"

Her tone was bewildered and hurt and very, very angry. Taylor had dealt with the disapproval and outright disdain of other heroes. Of refugees who had no place else to turn. Her work took an incredible emotional toll and until Jack had kept her very much alone.

"It is not YOUR life. You are My servant, My Chosen, My tool. The time you have, is what time I choose to allow. Perhaps you needed to be reminded of that."

The cold clarion tone robbed Taylor of the ability to breath or speak for a few moments and she staggered back as if physically struck, struggling under the weight of the mystical chains of her oath that bound her.

"Your servant," Taylor agreed, her voice ragged before it strengthened. "But never your slave."

She lifted her hands once again and reached for the Eye with her gloved hands, holding it between her palms. "I may have been unaware when I swore to keep the balance, but I am no untutored child. I know the Pact, I know my Oath and I know, Heshem, that by your actions, you've opened the door for me to un-weave it. You betrayed my trust. That is not without consequences, even for the gods. Especially for the gods. It has a price, everything has its price, but I'll take mortality if that's the price I have to pay. I will not be used."

Taylor looked up then and switched the ancient amulet into one hand. "In layman's terms, I QUIT!"

With all of her mortal strength, Taylor hurled the eye into the jagged glowing crack. For a moment, time seemed to hold still and then it shattered outward while reality screamed. The light in the library was blinding and when it faded, Jack would be alone. The library was once again restored to it's orderly fashion, pre-Taylor's temper tantrum and the only sign left would be a razor sharp shard of Eye of Heshem glinting sinisterly on the carpet. Taylor, however, was no where to be seen.

Jack would hear in his mind rather than with his ears the fading and vaguely satisfied tone of the goddess. "Sometimes, little vampire, it takes just one mortal to change the world."

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OUROBOROUS:

For the adult JJ, wherever he was and whatever he was doing, the time displaced dhampyr would find himself knocked to his knees by a gut wrenching pain the likes of which he'd never felt in all of his unusual life. Once he'd recovered enough to remember that he didn't need to breath and gasping for air was really exceptionally pointless, he'd notice the oh, so very disturbing trend of the pinky of his left hand fading in and out of existence.

The timestream - his time stream - was threatening to jump the tracks and write him out of existence entirely. This was, in fact, a very urgent problem.

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WANDER:

Erin was once again on baby sitting duty, the baby currently working on pulling up on everything he could get his chubby hands on - usually Erin herself - and babbling up a stream when his face crumpled and he started to fuss. It wasn't the usual baby fussing, more "something is very wrong and you should fix it RIGHT NOW" fussing. Erin had gotten used to his hungry and teething cries and this seemed to be none of the usual before he let out a frightened shriek and faded even as he was holding onto her hands. Erin had seen his teleport to the Void before and this, this was nothing like that.

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DEAD HEAD:

The house on the hill was always open to Dead Head and, with it's very own graveyard and horde of not-so-restless dead was more friendly than most vistas to the revoltin' revenant. This time, however, there appeared to be a light show going on in the tower library. Now, the neighbors were used to creepy events from the house on the hill as were the ghostly residents. This time, however, all of the spirits were hiding in their graves. It was eerie - at least to one used to the presence of the supernatural, for it to be entirely quiet in the grave yard. Upstairs, it went suddenly and ominously quiet.

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"JJ!" Erin cried, trying vainly to hold onto the little hands, even as they slipped through her fingers. She leapt to her feet and checked the whole room in seconds, racing from place to place, hoping he'd simply teleported a few yards. Nothing! Grabbing up her bat, she ran down the long hallway and up the stairs, trying to ignore the sick fear in her stomach. She could protect the baby from physical threats, but what could she do against magic? "Mr Faretti! Avenger!" she yelled, her voice high and edgy. "The baby! The baby is gone! He just disappeared!"

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"No no no no no no." the mystic said in near panic, "I've been so careful."

He pulled himself to his feet and banished the small ritual accoutrement and meditation rug with a gesture of dismissal. Wincing at the ease of it. Too simple to undo his small marks upon this world and this time. He glanced to his hand once more as he willed himself to cross the barrier into the void and blinked in surprise as his environs did not change. Something was going very very wrong.

"eo occultus mores." he murmured opening the ways with a gesture guiding open the slash of light and stepping through emerging from its match miles away in the library and private study of his mother stumbling slightly as the power still throbbing in the room assaulted his mystic senses.

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Avenger put his fingers on the sides of his nose, holding back a bloodthirsty rage against the Heavens a second after holding back sheer terror. "Took her. Took them both. Taylor realized Heshem had been misusing her and misusing her authority, so she summoned an avatar of Heshem, quit, and broke the Eye. And so Heshem took them both away." He was talking to both Wander and JJ, but only Ouroborous knew the for-certain sound of his father planning to kill someone. "Listen to me. Ouroborous, I want you to find your mother and yourself. Wander..." He debated whether or not to send the girl home, but then remembered the willingness she'd shown to kill when the situation called for it. "Get the ax from over the mantelpiece. I believe this counts as part of your duties for the evening. We're going to get Taylor back, and Jack Jr. back. Everything will be fine."

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Erin startled at the stranger who suddenly appeared in the library, but Avenger didn't think it was weird, so she followed his lead. The guy looked oddly familiar, too, though she couldn't place him. "Your mother?" she echoed in confusion. He looked like he had to be at least as old as Phantom. Obeying Avenger's directive, she went and took the axe off the wall and handed it to him, still holding her collapsed bat ready in her hand. "What are we going to do?"

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Ouroboros winced slightly, pearly fang tips revealed for a moment in the shadow of his hood, at Avengers choice of words as he had his doubts taken was entirely accurate given his own ... problems. "Ah yes. Taken." he said quietly not sounding at all convinced.

With a wave of his hand he murmured words of power, "ostendo sum occultus" his eyes glowing beneath the heavy cowl with a otherworldly light as he surveyed the room confirming his fears as his eyes fell upon the shard of the Eye. Reaching out gingerly he raised the shard examining it seeming lost in its fractured facets for a moment, "that can't be.." he murmured almost silently though his companions were no mere mortals.

"Things have changed." he said still trying to search for words for the uninitiated. "The void is retreating, shrinking." he paused to see if they comprehended the consequences, "Already I am unable to reach it." the distress this severing caused him clear in his tone, "Though that may be due to my own existence being somewhat in flux at the moment." he dropped the last almost as an offhand joke despite the very real fear that he soon would cease to exist.

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"What are we going to do?"

"We're gettin' Jack-Jack back," a familiar voice said. Dead Head had run as fast as his untiring body could, and got to the library just in time to hear Avenger's orders.

Jack looks like he's about to kill someone, an' I cain't say I blame 'im. An' I don't even wanna think what's going on with his future-self.

"Whatcha need from me, man? I may not have all the mojo I used to, but 'tween me an' Mutt here," he patted something solid but unseen next to him, "ain't nuthin' stayin' hid fer long."

A low guttural growl issued for the from next to Dead Head.

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Avenger pinched the bridge of his nose, reaching over to take the axe one-handed. "We need to access the home dimension of Heshem, the Void, that empowered Taylor and Jack Jr." He reached down and picked up the fallen shard of the Eye of Heshem, naturally holding it like a dagger. "We will go there, rescue Taylor and the baby, and then we will-" What, murder Heshem? Stab her to death so her divine blood dripped out on the ground? Somehow that sounded impractical, for all that it would be remarkably satisfying. "If the three of you can't find her," he said, indicating his son, Dead Head, and Dead Head's invisible friend, "We will contact Adrian Eldritch." And beat him with our fists till he helps us!

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"Good to have you here." Ouroboros said with warm familiarity to the reverent that had likely only met him in passing if at all. He listened with half attention to Avengers plan snapping his head from his other reveries at the mention of Eldrich, "Elrdich can not help, He's in service to the Modros as a whole bound from interfering I'm certain." he said plainly not wanting to see what his father would do in trying to force his sometime mentors hand.

He wandered with as much false casualness to the desk in the corner scouring its surface for family photos but uncertain if any that he found should have Jack Junior in them that did not. As he made his search he spoke absently, "We'll have to go through the dimension of doors." he explained absently, "Its the only place that might have a direct gate to the void that has not been severed by its withdrawal."

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"Doors it is," agreed Avenger. "We'll go through there, find where they're being kept, and...Jack!" He walked over and grabbed his son by the arm, looking down at his hand. He stared at the missing digit for a long second, looked up at Jack Jr., and then released him. "We need to get a move-on," he said quickly. "There's no time to wait for anyone else. Whatever you're going to do, do it soon...son." He gave the boy a sharp look at that, weapon ready over his shoulder. "I've been here before," he warned Erin. "If Heshem has allies there too, we may face enemies as soon as we arrive. Or worse...puzzles."

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"I'm ready," Erin assured him, opening out her bat with a practiced spin. Once again, she was not in costume for a fight, but there was no time to think about that now. She'd put the clothes down as an expense, if this was part of the babysitting gig like Avenger said. Right now it was pretty much the least of her worries. "How are we going to get there? Do we need a dimensional portal or something, or can he take us?" she asked, looking toward Ouroboros.

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Dead Head, not noticing Ouroboros' predicament, had walked up to Avenger. "Get a good sniff, boy," he said to the space next to him, "we'll need ya to track Taylor."

All heard a sniffing sound, as if a large invisible hound were sniffing the shard in Avenger's hand.

"If Ouroboros cain't get us there," the revenant said while unslinging the shiny new shovel from his back, "I may be able t'take us. When Ghede left me I lost most'a my mojo, but Taylor's been helpin' me re-learn a few things."

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Tucking the hand nervously behind his back Ouroboros brightened slightly as he found a picture of his youthfull self, "Ah taken then excellent." he murmured almost silently to himself glad his infant self had not been erased much quicker with its less substantial footprint in reality.

He offered a weak shrug to his father, "I will admit to a certain personal investment in setting this situation right." he admitted with confidence he did not feel. "I believe I can get us there it will take but a moment." he said with a nod and spent several seconds focusing in the center of the room.

He spoke harsh words of power unlike the flowing latin of his usual spell casting and made a stabbing motion with one hand wrenching the dimensions together to meet at a single point. A shimmering doorway opening before him and beyond it a seemingly endless hallway lined with doors. "The guardians here ultimately answer to the mordross but they have their own rules they can not banish those granted passage and we are granted passage." he assured them all. "That is not to say they must aid us. We should be cautious of any trickery on their part. Any door could lead anywhere we must be certain before we open one."

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The worried foursome (plus ghost dog!) tumbled through into that mystic dimension. For those who were aware of the usual nature of the Dimension of Doors, the section that Ouroboros looked nothing like the usual Escher esque environs. Instead, they were treated to a long and twisting corridor that looked like something out of the Stanley hotel from the Shining. The walls seemed too high, the angles just slightly off, with twists and turns that abruptly broke up the endless peeling paneling that was endless save for the doors which seemed to have random numbers on their surfaces. No guide nor guardian showed up to greet them, at least not to any of the abnormal perceptions of this mystical group. Of course, even supernatural perceptions could be deceiving in this realm.

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Erin kept her bat ready as they walked through the dimension of doors, but her attention was seriously divided. She kept looking over at Ouroboros, trying to make sense of who he was. There was one conclusion that kept popping out at her, and really it shouldn't have even seemed so weird given the people she already knew, but it was. Finally, she stopped and stood in front of the stranger hero, studying his face. "Who are you, anyway?" she demanded.

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"I most commonly go by Ouroboros." he replied with a nod, "Though I maintain an identity as Jack Faretti Jr. as well I prefer not to cause undue confusion with the one you know Erin." he explained as simply as possible though he clearly had inherited his mothers penchant for the mystic have truths and obfuscation. He looked over her shoulder then brow creasing slightly, "And the games begin they have already begun to mislead us." He shrugged, "We should take additional care this is not the way the dimension of doors is normally presented."

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Kill kill kill! Vampire instincts, while enormously useful in life or death situations, hunting bad guys, and any number of things, were not terribly useful here. "Yeah, he's our kid from the future. It's a weird situation all around," he growled, peering at the doors all around them. "I have no idea what to do here, Ourobous," he confessed. "Just...just tell me what we need to do to get you and your mother back, and we'll do it. Whatever it takes." His hands flexed, over and over again, as if crushing a god's larynx between them.

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