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Tiffany Korta

Two Duplicators and Grim too!

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Lynn shrugged and looked at Gretchen. "Is that good enough for you?"

 

For a few seconds, her young assistant said nothing, staring at Sam with her head cocked to one side, using that same disinterested scrutiny she used the first time they'd met. Finally she nodded sharply. "Well, then." Looking to Merge, she sighed and shook her head. "If my boss is going to break the law, she's not going to do it alone; how I can I help? Do you have those blueprints, or should I look them up online? Also I can monitor the police band."

 

Lynn grinned, happy to see Gretchen getting down to business.

Edited by Heritage

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The warehouse was one of many squat building that loomed out of the darkness with almost no lighting in the area. It wouldn’t be surprising if they were the only people around, most of these warehouse relied more on their anomonity than any security.

Only one Merge had occupied them and somehow managed to changed into more appropriate clothing for this heist. Though the platform heels, low cut top and mini skirt weren’t the normal fare, even if they were in appropriate black. She stood one side of the fence then there was a second one the other side.

“I’ll got open a door up for you and disable the alarm. If you’d like to follow up at a suitable distance.”

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Across the street, Grim was Merging it up as well, sporting a black leather mini-skirt, military cut jacket and ridiculous high-heeled knee-high boots as she chewed on a wad of gum. “Take your time; I'm not in any hurry.” She tapped her earpiece and sighed. “How are you holding up, Starlight? Feeling the urge to rob banks yet?”

 

It was very strange to adopt another metahuman persona on a job; her native instincts ran completely counter to the former criminal's own, but it was kind of fun to try it out this way.

Edited by Heritage

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The wind whistled softly in Starlight's ears, stirring her hair around her face. She hovered in the air far above the warehouse, casually allowing the ambient light in the area to pass straight through her body, rendering her completely invisible to the naked eye. "Not quite yet. So far I'm only getting the urge to rob gas stations," she said into her communicator. "If It moves up to banks, I'll be sure to give you a heads-up. Do me a favor and stop me if that happens, 'cause I'd look terrible in a ski mask." She squinted down at the ground, her eyes piercing the darkness with ease. "I can see you all right from up here, but I'll lose you when you go inside. If things go FUBAR in there, just say the word and I'll 'port you both out, okay?" She wasn't used to playing overwatch, but then again, she really wasn't used to being subtle at all.

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With Merge Trois help it was pretty simple for them to progress into the warehouse itself. It seemed that she could create a double in any location she could see, making it easy to get past the various locked doors and alarm systems. Soon a little army of Merge’s, plus one more, was making it’s way to the main body of the warehouse.

Various boxes and other covered object lined filled the floor, making a little maze of artefacts. Almost in the middle of it all was a suspiciously covered mirror shaped object.

Things seemed to be going well, maybe a little too well...

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Merge!Grim squinted her eyes and began to peer into the darkness, her fae eyes easily able to pierce the gloom, and she sniffed the air as she cocked her head this way and that. 

 

“This is starting to feel a lot like a trap; the Duke always called me a 'beautiful butterfly', and hinted that he wanted to posses me.” She indicted the mirror with a tilt of her head. “That may well be the honey at the bottom of the killing jar." She toggled her radio once more. “Keep a weather eye out, Star; things could get nasty very very fast.”

 

The changeling pondered the many other Merges, and a rather ghastly thought occurred to her. “So don't take this the wrong way, but...is it possible to sacrifice one of your clones? I mean like a pawn in chess, to draw the enemy queen out."

Edited by Heritage

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The rushing of the wind made Starlight roll down her sleeves out of sheer habit, despite the fact that she didn't get cold anymore. A feeling of unease was growing unbidden in her stomach, and remained there despite her attempts to reassure herself. She had a very bad feeling about this. Of course, her outlook on life in general wasn't exactly the rosiest - she had a bad feeling about nearly everything - but this did nothing to assuage her fears. Should be in there with them, she thought, not for the first time. Oh, having her play lookout made perfect tactical sense - or at least the thought it did - but it felt somehow cowardly on her part. If something bad went down in there, would she be able to get in there and figure out what was going on in time to make a difference?

She brushed her hair away from her face, annoyed with herself. Yeah, I'm sure the two powerful heroines with years of experience really need your help to manage a simple warehouse job. They plainly knew what they were doing - the worst thing she could do right now was get so distracted with second-guessing the plan that she f---ed up her own end of it. Just stay focused and keep your eyes peeled, genius. If they need you, they'll let you know it.

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Merge had obviously had some experience in this kind of work as all the Merges began to look around for trouble and the Merge closest to Lynn whispered into her ear.

“Something is wrong, this is too easy, be on you guard in case trouble starts.”

The Merge closest to the mirror pulled down the clover to reveal the beautiful gilt frame with Art Deco styling. It’s surface shimmered and showed thing that weren’t in the warehouse, it was somehow active even though it should have been without the correct commands.

There wasn’t much time to consider this as behind on of the Merge’s came a figure familiar to the Lynn, he was a little gaunt but it was that of the Duke. He touched the shoulder of the nearby Merge and a strange look came over her face.

“My dear how generous of you to come here to visit me, you don’t understand how vital you arrival is to my survival.”

He whispered it into the Merge’s ear but the Merge nearest to Lynn repeated the words.

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Lynn felt suddenly sick to her stomach, like being on one of those rides that drops you ten stories after eating a lot of cotton candy. It was almost like he was whispering into her ear when Merge relayed that message, and then a finger of ice traced down her spine. The mirror was active. And its duplicate was back at the store, where Gretchen and Lance were working. As quietly as she could, Merge!Grim reached down into her pocket, pulled out her smartphone, and dialed Gretchen.

 

- - -

 

Back at the store, Gretchen was sitting at her Macbook at Lynn's desk, hunched forward and gobbling the contents of Lynn's candy bowl as she listening to the broadcasts on a police scanner, straining to hear any mention of events possibly related to her boss's illicit activities. As soon as the phone played U2's 'Mysterious Ways', she snatched it up in the blink of an eye. "What is it, what's going on?" 

 

"Are you in my office?" Lynn's (or rather Merge's) voice was barely above a whisper.

 

"Uh...yeah?"

 

"Don't worry, I'm glad you are. Remember that 'emergency protocol' I told you about?"

 

Gretchen's eyes flicked over to the old fashioned fire alarm box on the wall. "Yes..."

 

"I need you to break open the glass and get it."

 

Her assistant quickly got up, grabbed the little hammer and smashed the glass, then pulled out the iron railroad spike inside; the thing felt heavy and evil in her hand.

 

"Okay, I've got it."

 

"Good. I need you to open the secret door, go into the back room, and smash the mirror. The iron will melt the glamour hiding the lock."

 

Gretchen stood up a little straighter. "But won't that hurt you?"

 

"Like a bitch, but I need you to do this right now. Because he's here."

 

Just the way she said it brought pinpricks of sweat to Gretchen's skin. "Are you...are you going to be okay?"

 

"No idea. But I need to keep you and Lance safe. I'll call you when this is over. You're awesome, Gretch."

 

"You, too. I-" The call abruptly ended, leaving the young barista feeling very small and alone. Then she took a deep breath, marched over to the door, and thrust the iron against the bookcase, which began to melt into vapor.

 

- - -

 

Back in the warehouse, Grimalkin winced as her assistant did as she was told, a thin stream of vapor rising up from her side. Then she tapped her comlink and spoke in a strained voice.

 

"Star, we could really use you right now; come in quiet, and stay back."

Edited by Heritage

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Something in the other woman's tone immediately roused Starlight's attention. "Right," she said sharply into her communicator. "Coming in under a cloak. When you're ready to make your move, I'll back it." She didn't know much about magic, but she knew how to fight. Better to leave the strategic and supernatural side of things to the experts - she was here to crack heads and provide a speedy exit if need be. She was confident in her ability to do that. Supremely confident, in fact.

She swooped down to a position that afforded her a clear look through one of the warehouse's windows, then focused her will. A moment's concentration later, she was inside, hovering invisibly among the rafters. Her eyes found where the apparent bad guy had standing. That's him? Pff, he doesn't look so tough. Nonetheless, she remained where she was, awaiting the signal from Lynn.

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“You’ve done exactly what I needed and I must thank you for that, though I’m afraid I need a little more from you...”

As he spoke the Merge he was touching began to shift and morph until she was dressed and looked exactly like the Duke.

---

Back in the shop Gretchen walked into the darkened room the mirror there glowing with a strange anti-light. After a pause she raised the lump of cold iron above her head ready to strike down at the glass.

---

Several more Merge’s transformed before the rest were dismissed by Merge herself, though those changes still remained. The normally serene Merge had a look of concentration on her face, it seemed he was still having an influence on her. There was only on place she go where she was safe. She touched the surface of the mirror, which rippled to the touch before she stepped through to the realm beyond.

---

The spike came down and struck the glass of the mirror, causing it to ripple only briefly before like any mirror the glass shattered.

---

For both mirrors the results were dramatic large shards of glass flew out as if driven by an explosion, the shards glowing with the strange anti-light. Before the glass was sucked back into the mirror itself, until only the frame remained.

---

The iron spike clattered to the ground no longer held by any hand, the room now strangely empty. No blood or body remained in the room.

---

The warehouse was now strangely quiet as the magical event calm down, it ripples now died down to the normal background levels. Then the original Duke, though you could never tell with the slippery man, and looked at Merge!Grim.

“Now here a conundrum to be considered. Who or what are you exactly?”

Edited by Tiffany Korta

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Merge!Grim's jaw dropped as she witnessed first the Duke's co-opting for several of the duplicates, then the real Merge's disappearance into the mirror, followed closely by the mirror shattering. Gretchen had done as she asked, and looked what happened! Wait, what if Gretch herself ended up stuck in the mirror?! In her attempt to save her, Lynn may well have signed her doom. Mad more at herself than at the Duke's machinations, she nonetheless turned her cold fury in his direction.

 

“Oh you know me, your Ducalness; we're old friends!"

 

As she dropped the facade, Grim flicked her hands out, each finger tipped with a glittering talon forged out of pure shadow; she bowed deeply at the waist with a flourish.

 

"So nice to have a chance to chat again, your grace!"

 

Edited by Heritage

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The lead Duke gave a little bow his normal manner returned to him, all of the Dukes looked healthy recovered from his rather gaunt original appearance.

“My dear what an absolute pleasure to see you again. I must admit this was a complete surprise, and not an unpleasant one in the least.”

The other Dukes were flexing and getting use to their new bodies.

“I can assure you that I wish you no harm, I only needed the abilities of out now absent thief. With you leave I shall leave you with you other dilemma.”

He was backing away but none of him took his eyes off of her, obviously just in case.

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Starlight watched the scene unfold from her aerial hiding place, tense but forcing her to wait for Grimalkin's go-ahead. She had no idea what had just happened, but the reactions of everyone present made it obvious that whatever it was, it was significant. The sight of the Duke hijacking Merge's duplicates, then Merge herself vanishing, threatened to make her confidence waver. Suddenly the situation no longer seemed so one-sided. The Duke almost seemed as if he was content to leave without a fight...but in her experience, the bad guys never left without a fight. Especially not when the good guys had come with the express intention of fighting said bad guy.

Silently, she raised on hand, palm forward, taking careful aim down at the lead Duke. The moment fists started flying, she intended to blast him so hard he wound up in the city's sewer systems.

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Grim wrinkled her nose and shook her head as she slowly walked towards the One True Duke. "Y'know, when you say 'I wish you no harm', it sounds different than when other people say it. Because what I keep hearing is, 'I mean you no harm right now, but the minute you try and prevent me from cheating Death at the expense of someone else's life, I'm just going to shoot you again with a poison crossbow bolt'." She held up her hand and wiggled her fingers. "Do you see the difference there? It's a subtle thing."

 

She continued to walk towards him, in no hurry whatsoever. "And just in case you're wondering, I actually haven't forgotten all those times you tried to shoot me, poison me or run me over with your Rolls, or the threats you made against my friend's bookstore involving poison gas." She stopped and sighed. "So no, I really can't let you leave this room." She shrugged. "Sorry, Duke, but I gotta bring you in."

 

She didn't really look all that sorry.

Edited by Heritage

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Grim curtsied and smiled a truly unpleasant smile.

 

"May I have this dance, your grace?"

 

And just like that like, a change came over the dark fae's body; she took a deep breath, dropped into a low crouch, and then let out the most terrifying, blood-curdling roar as she leaped at the Duke, eyes wide, nostrils flared and claws rending the air with their passing. She was more than prepared to just keeping ripping pudgy Belgians apart if they gave her half a chance.

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Grimalkins savage blows were efficient with several of the Duke’s being exploding into dust, but the actual real Duke remained rather elusive. It seemed as quickly as they all went down more seemed to be arriving.

 

“Well now this is rather different, the good lady has a rather amazing set of powers.”


With that a horde of Duke’s tried to pile themselves on Grimalkin surrounding her with innumerable duplicates, very different from the last time the two of them meet. Luckily none of the dukes could get a solid hold on Grimalkin sliding and being thrown off by her movements.

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Despite her intention to remain hidden, Starlight couldn't keep herself from jerking back and uttering an involuntary "Holy s--t!" at Grim's transformation. Up until this point, she'd only seen her employer work charming little faerie-style spells - seeing her suddenly become a feral, shadow-clawed beast and start shredding Belgians apart was almost enough to make Starlight wish she had brought her brown pants.

 

She shook herself. So there was a lot she didn't know about her new boss. She would keep that in mind in the future, especially when it came to asking for raises. But in the here and now, they were in the middle of a fight. She shimmered back into visibility even as a blaze of light gathered around her hands. "The good lady also has backup!" she shouted down at the Duke, and unleashed a white-hot beam of energy from her palms. The beam swept across the tangled melee below, blasting several of the Duke's duplicates into dust, but for every one she destroyed, two more seemed to take his place.

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Okay, now Grim was starting to get mad; at first, it was kind of fun tearing through Duke-shaped piñatas, but the gag was beginning to get old.

 

"Enough of this nonsense," she growled, her voice much deeper than usual, and she dropped down on all fours, closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Her head cocked this way and that as she continued to rapidly sniff the air, seemingly completely feral. 

 

Then she opened her eyes, fixed her baleful gaze on one of the hapless Dukes and licked her lips. "You're mine."

 

And just like that, she was moving; fast as a panther, she leaped at her chosen prey...only to pivot in mid-air, her body impossibly graceful, and attack the Belgian directly to the right!

 

"Gotcha!"

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The Duke seemed totally oblivious to Grim’s plan showing his normal overconfidence. Even now he was in the middle of one of his quips when her devastating assault fell upon him. A confused look crossed his face before collapsing to the ground. As he crumpled to the ground all his duplicates evaporated as if they’d never even existed.

 

Then there was silence as Grimalkin began to regain some of her composure, until the very modern sound of Lynn’s mobile phone begun to chirp away. On the other end of the line was a familiar but slightly different voice.


“Hello I think I can get you people out of their predicament. Can you get yourself to Tibet?”

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It took several seconds for the reality of the smartphone to penetrate the fog of rage swirling around inside Grim's skull, but she finally managed to answer it just before it went to voicemail. 

 

"What? Merge, is that you?" she panted as her eyes darted about the warehouse; there was still a chance it was one of the Duke's tricks. She blinked a few times and shook her head, trying to clear it."Tibet? Uh, maybe." She held the phone to her chest and looked over to Sam as she ran her fingers through her short, spiky hair. "What was that you said earlier about teleporting to the moon?"

 

Edited by Heritage

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Starlight floated down from the rafters, touching down on the ground to stand beside Grim. "Oh yeah. Thing about that is, I can only teleport to places I know pretty well, or can see, or whatever. Only reason I could go to the moon was because I could, you know, see it. Tibet, on the other hand..." she was too embarrassed to admit out loud that she wasn't sure she could find Tibet on a map. The fruits of being a high school dropout. "I don't know Tibet. I can fly pretty damn fast, though, so I could probably get there within..." She also didn't feel like trying to do the math in her head. "I could get there pretty quick."

 

She looked at her employer, weighing her up with her eyes. "But I don't think I'm strong enough to carry you with me, unless you were to...you know..." she hesitated, "shrink down some." She raised her hands quickly in a reassuring gesture. "I won't drop you, I promise. We can, I don't know, put you in a backpack or something if you want."

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Lynn shrugged and wiped her face with a conjured gym towel . "Hey, it's no big deal; I've travelled by backpack before."

 

She waved a hand, and a truly ridiculous girl's backpack appeared; it was bright pink and sported bulbous screaming anime versions of both Grim and Starlight's faces on it; Anime! Grim's word balloon said 'I make myself the smallest!', while Sam was shrieking 'I am always fly fastest!' Then the changeling shrunk down to pixie size, allowing the towel to drop and vanish in a puff of vapor when it hit the floor. Hovering in front of her employee's face, her gossamer wings ruffling Sam's hair, tiny Grim put her fists on her hips and grinned.

 

"Alright, pick that up and I'll climb in! And remember you can fly pretty high, since I really don't breath or get cold."

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"That makes two of us. Handy not having to breath, isn't it?" Starlight took the backpack, and eyed it warily for a moment while holding it at arm's length. It was, to say the least, not the type of thing she usually wore. Is that one of those Japanese comic things? She had never been much of a comic book fan.

 

Reluctantly, she shrugged into the backpack, tightening the straps securely over her shoulders. "Well," she said, turning around. This was certainly going to be strange. "Hop in. I can't believe I'm about to fly over the ocean with my boss as carry-on luggage." She tried not to think about that fact that if one of the straps broke, she was almost certainly going to be out of a job. Not because the fall would kill Grim - she very much doubted that - but because dropping your employer into the drink from 38,000 feet up was bound to be a firing offense.

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