New Beginnings

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Author: Alex Warlorn
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Xanadu story universe


Characters are owned by their respective companies.

+++++++++++

Her name was not Alice, her name was Karen, she was not from England, she was from Florida though she was now a dead ringer for the character from the classic books. She was twenty-two, not seven and a half though she now had the body of one.

'This is not very practical at all.' She thought, with what she knew was a lot more calm than she should have had considering the fire that had blocked off the only means of escape from her room. Laying down low under the smoke she calmly thought that the fire fighters were coming, she could hear them, but knew thinking it through pragmatically they wouldn't reach her in time.

'So instead of the problem of now being a little girl again, and looking like Alice. I'll instead have no problems because I'll be dead. But that hardly seems like a fair trade.' Then again, the world was nonsense, and had apparently become even more nonsensical after some -thing- had happened to make everyone become their costumes at the Xanadu convention.

'Oh well. Mother and Father would not fancy to having to raise me twice I imagine.' That was when Karen noticed the open bathroom door and saw the mirror, not large enough for an adult, but large enough for a seven and a half year old child. 'It would be nonsense to think that would work. But it is already nonsense that I am now Karen-The-Wrong-Alice. And since I have nothing to say to anyone. What is a few more moments of life wasted trying some nonsense?'

Taking a deep breath she stood up, her eyes stinging from the smoke. She ran to the mirror and braced herself for hitting the hard glass head on. Instead she felt like she had gone through a layer of water tension without the water. 'Curiouser and curiouser.' Karen thought. She opened her eyes to find herself in a bathroom and hotel room not on fire. Of course everything would be reversed. A loud crash sound behind her made her look and see something had fallen over shattering the mirror she had gone into.

'Hmm. So this world didn't shatter when the mirror shattered. So this world exists on it's own without mirrors themselves.' Karen thought with amazing calm. She looked out the window of the hotel room. Below she saw a red and white chess board pattern on the ground. Mushrooms chattered it up with living white and red marble horses whose lower halves ended in short columns. Apparently it was tea time.

'I suppose I SHOULD try to find a way back. With no money. No ID. A family that wouldn't be able to support me and a society that wouldn't be able to take me seriously. Yes. That is the proper thing to do. . . . Some other time. Later.' For now, she had an entire new world to explore, and she wouldn't rest until she had seen every inch of it.

+++

Shana The Flame-haired Blazing-eyed Hunter sighed as the Rinne fell over dead. She looked around seeing that before she could depose of the creature that some humans had already had their flames of existence devoured. Oh well. Time to create some Torches. It didn't matter where she was or how she got there. She had duty as a Flame Haze. And to create some short lived copies of people whose existence had been eaten so time space would have time to fill in the gaps of their non-existence and would never be remembered by anyone was just part of the job to insure the balance of the world.

"Sōten Kisshun! I reject! I reject!" That was when two small fairy like creatures flew on opposite ends of the time frozen human and-their flame of existence returned?!

Shana turned instantly to the source and saw a carrot orange haired teenage girl. She had a slightly oversized chest and had long hair, she had a pair of six pointed hair-clips though one of them was two points short.

The faires had apparently finished their job on the first humans and with a repeat of the command they formed another yellow glowing oval shaped barrier another the next one. Again doing the very impossible thing of restoring (recreating?) the flame of existence inside the humans that was supposed to be already dead.

Shana narrowed her eyes. All humans should have been frozen inside the fuzetsu. She wasn't a Torch or another Flame Haze that much was obvious and clearly not a Rinne. But what she was doing was IMPOSSIBLE!

"WHO ARE YOU? What are you doing here? What do you want?!"

The girl started at her, as if just now noticing her. Look embarrassed the girl said, "Well, I guess my name from before doesn't really matter anymore. So you can just call me Orihime Inoue."

'From before?' Shana wondered.

"I'm using Shun Shun Rikka to heal these people. Looks like they all got really hurt when you were fighting that hollow."

"What's a hollow? HEALING them?! They're dead! You brought that person, and THAT person there back to LIFE right now! Their flame of existence was GONE! You can't heal something that doesn't exist!"

Orihime blinked assuming a thinking pose, the unarmed teen not emotionally reacting as she should to the girl holding the flaming blade, "Ya know, I kinda had someone else say that around me once before. I was told my power is the power to reject fate."

Reject fate? Did something like fate even really exist? Was this girl just talking nonsense? But Shana couldn't deny her own senses!

Well. This meant Shana didn't need to spend time creating Torches right? Which supposedly meant less damage to the cosmos right? Seeing Orihime had apparently finish defying the laws of conversation of energy and matter Shana dispelled the fuzetsu. The two fairies flew back to Orihime and became part of her hair clips.

Orihime looked at Nietono no Shana. "Are you a Soul Reaper?"

"A what? No I am a Flame Haze."

"Never heard of you. Wait! Now I remember I read your manga! This is so cool! Wait till I tell Rukia and Ichigo!"

'Manga?' Shana wondered what this girl was on.

Orihime grabbed her and with strength she shouldn't have had pulled her along, "Come on! I'll introduce you- but I guess we should stop and help everyone whose hurt first right? With all the monsters about I think I'm gonna need someone to, er, watch my back while Shun'ō and Ayame do their thing."

Shana only nodded wondering what strange mess she had gotten herself into.

+++

She lay where she had woke up in the convention center among the abandoned ware stands. Not bothering to move.

Sayaka Miki, Puella Magi, realized her life was even more meaningless than she first thought. Not only had she realized she had wished Kyōsuke's hand to be healed not because she wanted him to be happy but because she wanted him to be with her, but she now -REMEMBERED- that she was a fictional character whose only purpose was to suffer for the entertainment of others. She remembered from a third person perspective herself giving into despair and turning into a creature of nightmares, A Witch, the same things the Puella Magi were -supposedly- supposed to be fighting against but in reality were part of an endless cycle of hope and loss. She remembered almost killing her best friend and a Puella Magi she considered an enemy kamakazing herself so Sayaka wouldn't have to die alone.

Well. Life was about to imitate art as Sayaka's Soul Gem (not just a fancy name) began turning black as pitch.

"Moon Healing Activation." Sayaka blinked in total confusion as white sparkles came down on her and her Soul Gem became clean again, no, more than that, it shone almost with it's OWN light! She felt her loss and horror fall away from her like dirt during a spring rain.

"Mina! You're okay!" Shouted someone Sayaka KNEW was supposed to be dead. When she hugged Sayaka, she proved to be no ghost.

"That was too close. Almost didn't make it to you in time." Then spoke a fifteen year old lass with long legs and almost longer meat ball pigtails in a school uniform. She was holding a crescent moon wand.

Sayaka ignored her for a second, looking at the pretty face hugging her, "Mami? But-but-you're-"

"Mami? Mina are you, what's your name?"

"Sayaka Miki but you're-"

"Oh." Mami looked sad somehow. "I guess you should just call me Mami then. This is Usagi. She saved me and Caroline from herself after the change, the thing, of whatever happened happened."

"Caroline?" Sayaka asked, finally noticing the short pinked haired girl next to Mami. It wasn't Madoka. She was dressed like a Puella Magi. Her outfit reminded Sayaka almost of a doll's dress.

"I guess my name is Caroline." The younger Puella Magi spoke, "But Charlotte's as good a name now too."

Sayaka remembered the name of the witch that had bitten Mami's head off. "Cha-Char-"

"I was able to moon heal her too," Usagi said, "Man! I've NEVER seen a Youma transformation that strong before. Still she's good as new!"

'Oh right, Witch equals former Puella Magi.' Sayaka thought.

That was when a black haired girl in a red school uniformed stepped from behind Usagi, "I don't know what was wrong with your star seeds girls but dang! From what I was sensing, it was like they were INTENTIONALLY made to be defective or something. Usagi's fixed'em so they won't start collecting darkness again."

Mami looked worried, "I just hope Patricia forgot to bring that stuffed Kyubey doll with her."

"Who?" Usagi asked.

"Don't asked." Mami replied.

"I don't see why you bothered to save me." Sayaka said getting everyone's attention. "I'm not real. I'm less than not real. And that aside, my soul isn't even in my body. It's a piece of jewelry. I'm not human. I'm not alive. I'm just a zombie."

"HUH?! Now you hold on little missie!" The red clade girl said sternly, "Just because your star seed is on the outside doesn't mean you're not alive! I've -faced- zombies! And let me tell you! They DON'T feel sad, they don't feel depressed, and they DON'T talk about how they are zombies and aren't alive! Looks can be deceiving but my sixth sense doesn't lie! And what I'm sensing from you is just a girl whose scared confused and really needs her friends right now! Now stop this nonsense of being a zombie!"

Sayaka stared stunned and overwhelmed. She felt like she had just been told by her mother to stop beating herself up over being different. Charlotte/Caroline and Mami helped her up. "Alright . . . " She smiled.

No one noticed a gray and purple claded Puella Magi using her time stop abilities to push bystanders out of the way of rampaging minotaurs and or to pull down someone out of the line of fire of a stray Storm Troopers gun shot. Homura would only care for Modaka's safety. But Hilda/Homora cared for both Patricia/Madoka and everyone else.

+++

"Revive!" "Resurrect!" "Raise!" The three ladies had nothing greatly in common. They had simply chosen similar character classes from their respective Final Fantasy, On-Line or Table Top game. And all due to choosing similar characters casts had struck up a chat, not really considering themselves possible for a win and thus hadn't been in the awards ceremony. When the change/chaos/curse/magic hit the three found themselves very confused and alarmed. They didn't even realize what was going on until the one whose boyfriend who had gone as the protagonist from the same game she got her character from had his neck broke and his heart torn out by a rampaging beast from some obscure horror game. Almost in a TRANCE she had instead of crying her eyes out or running around like a mad animal like she should have at the sight she touched him and yelled out the proper word. Feeling QUITE dizzy afterwards. The monster was subdued soon after.

Now the three were watching each other's back, seeing how random and ruthless death was being today. It had been the Final Fantasy healer's idea that they HAD to avoid every single security camera they saw while doing their work. Otherwise the trio realized they'd be dragged off to be used as healing machines by the army, or worse, some mobster would see them as a false key to immortality. Not to mention some greedy business men who'd they realized would LOVE to create a 'raise from the dead for hire' service.

So it was the three went about as stealthy as they possible could, resurrecting who they could and quickly spiriting away. Two of them having to be resurrected by the teammates at least once as the hazards took their toll. But they kept going. They had to. The desire to heal and help others was now a base overwhelming desire in each of them. All three would quite their old careers after the convention and become doctors or nurses in three different hospitals.

+++

Spotty listened to his master. He didn't understand one tenth of what his master was saying of course, but he knew his master loved him. Spotty didn't care much for the new brightly colored collar with the blanket connected to the back, but Spotty knew they were important from the tone master used when speaking about them.

While in the car driving to wherever it was they were going (it wasn't the park again, Spotty knew that much, been too long) his master and himself watched cartoons on the expensive backseat TV screen as master's parents drove them to wherever it was they were going.

Spotty saw the cartoon pleasingly starred a proper dog as it's main star, not one of those freaky dogs that his master normally watched that went about on two legs like a human. Spotty watched the dog speaking in human speech, seemingly understanding things the way human could understand them. Flying though the air, firing laser vision, not being able to be hurt and other things that Spotty barely recognized. It slowly dawned on Spotty that the collar the cartoon dog was wearing was similar to the one Spotty was wearing.

It also occurred to Spotty at last his master was wearing much the same outfit as one of the other characters in the show. It didn't fill his belly and it wasn't playing but it kept Spotty distracted but he could not understand what his master saw in this noisy box.

Then they finally parked, and where somewhere that Spotty had never been. SO MANY SMELLS! So many NEW smells! And so many humans he didn't know, he stayed close to master. In front of the large building that they were apparently supposed to go in master spoke a long time with a gorilla holes in it's fur at the front entrance. A really long time. Spotty got bored. Finally they were allowed in, but Spotty didn't like the look the gorilla with holes in it's fur gave him.

They were even more new smells inside, but master kept him much more closer and a much shorter lease than normal. Spotty wondered if he had done something wrong. Naw. Likely not. Master spoke and pointed at a little figure that was like the dog form the cartoon.

Spotty suddenly felt weird. His already superior senses suddenly jumping through the room. More than that, the world suddenly took on shades it never had before, an entirely new quality he had never imagined before. It was called color. He didn't know how he knew that was what it was called but it was. And his cape and collar didn't feel so bad anymore. Spotty shook his head as things he never thought about before came to mind and became as clear as crystal.

The convention center mulled for a few moments before someone shouted followed by many others across the convention center and like it was some signal people began shooting lasers and roaring and running in random directions, many who stood still were trampled. Jake however was sticking close to him as his parents seemed to have been swept up in the crowd being dressed as something or other.

Something that been a green puppet of something with lots of tentacles and wings stomped towards master Jake who placed himself between Spotty and the thing drawing a sword that was no longer plastic.

Spotty had always enjoyed the easy life before, but suddenly it occurred to him that it was dog's job to protect their master.

Spotty focused on the forehead of the green slimly tendril thing as it spoke in a language that echoed into the fifth dimension (making Spotty wish he didn't suddenly have super-dog-hearing). Heat vision lasers shot out from Spotty's eyes and hit the beast right in the head making it cry out in pain giving master Jake the chance to cut at it's knee cap making it fall over with a crash and stabbed it the gut.

When it wasn't getting up any time soon master Jake looked back at Spotty.

"Spotty . . . you're Spotty right? You're Krypto now?" Master Jake said as if trying to recognize him.

'Hmmm? Krypto? I had a another name before I was sent to the pound already. If that's what master Jake wishes to call me. Then I should oblige my owner.' "Yes Jake, I am Krypto. The Super-Dog."

They hugged.

+++

Heather couldn't believe it, she didn't want to believe it, she couldn't bear to believe it. It wasn't fair, it wasn't fair at all! She was supposed to go as a fairy queen! But she lost that stupid bet and had gone in a thick body suit as Hulk Hogan because it was such an utter opposite of her! She felt her womanhood gone, she felt her wonderful breasts gone! Instead there was that THING between her legs! And the suit was no longer a suit but a mass of bulging muscles of a professional performance wrestler.

Heather wept. She didn't notice how a Super Hero saved her life twice while she sat there crying. She curled into a ball and continued to cry but no one else threatened her. Apparently having the muscles of a legendary stunt wrestler reduced the idea of her being a practical target.

The noises died down as the chaos burned itself out. Heather finally looked around and spotted a blaster, like the kind Stormtroopers from Star Wars used. Heather crawled towards it though she wasn't physically harmed in the least. She took the weapon, and place the gun's muzzle underneath her chin and began fumbling for the trigger.

"I don't think you want to do that." Said a young but still cultured voice.

Heather used her eyeballs and say a young man with larger eyes, a triangle shaped mouth and a ski jump nose. Short black hair, purple eyes, and wearing a black with gold trim uniform of some kind. An anime character? It didn't matter. "I think I want to. I could have been something fantastic coming here. It could have been a thousand different wonderful things! But now I'm stuck like this! LIKE THIS!" It was weird hearing Hulk Hogan's voice moan about the loss of womanhood.

"Is that your final answer?"

"It's my ONLY answer!"

The young man took off a contact lens. He then looked Heather in the eye. In the eye a red glowing 'V' or bird shape dominated Heather's full attention.

The young man commanded, and what he commanded was, "I, Lelouch vi Britannia The Second, command you to NEVER kill yourself and to not despair over yourself."

"As you command my prince." Heather put the gun down at once, finding the idea of killing himself now incomprehensible. He also felt powerful, tough, like he could take on the world! Heather stood up and put his fists on his hips and laughed. "HA! How could I miss being a weak widdle woman? Just look at these muscles-?! How could anyone not admire this physique? I rule!"

Heather then marched out of the convention center leaving the young man behind. After going through processing he had his name legally changed to Harry and personally face to face -thanked- his friends whom he had made the bet with in the first place. He had a whole new life ahead of him.

+++

Frank had almost gone as a generic zombie for lack of better ideas. But after watching a monster movie marathon had been inspired to go as a homage to the king of the monsters himself. No, not Dracula, he knew there were going to be plenty of those likely at the convention already. He could have bought or rented a costume but chose instead to make his own. It wasn't the world's greatest costume but it was his. He threw himself into his performance as 'Gojira.' In spite of not exactly being several stories tall he still managed to scare a few Con-goers with his performance. He made sure to switch to 'poor misunderstood' Godzilla around children.

Then award day came, then everything changed. His clothes underneath his costume vanished, he felt the air on his scaled armored body. He felt his tail wave back and forth. The world became much simpler and clearer.

The sound 'Furrr-aink' was at the back of his brain but it felt foreign. The name Godzilla and Gojira however came in loud of clear. Gojira was what the humans on the other side of the Pacific ocean called him, Godzilla was what the humans called him here.

Godzilla had a vague notion of coming here to play and show off, but shrugged them off as unlikely. He did not play or show off. He was king of the monsters. The destroyer of Tokyo several times over more than fifty years. He crushed his rivals and punished humans who dared disturb him. But . . . WHY WAS HE SO SMALL? Godzilla set a stand on fire with his atomic breath in anger. Was this some cheap trick by the humans again to try and kill him-?! But the humans and not-humans he saw didn't seem that interested in attacking him en mass.

That was when he saw a little not-human female child with fairly large fairy wings on her back with one leg trapped underneath a heavy display that had fallen over. Stalking towards her was a could-be-human in hockey mask with chainsaw with obvious intention.

Godzilla set the could-be-human on fire with his atomic breath and threw the could-be-human across the room into a wall. The fairy winged child cried out as Godzilla got closer, Godzilla pulled the display off her. The not-human girl climbed to her feet, favoring one leg, and said nervously, "I, er, um, thank you!" And quickly flew off like it was perfectly natural to her.

Godzilla couldn't stand being in his small confining space and made his own exit through several walls. A few stupid humans tried to shoot him with bullets. That of course didn't work. They weren't worth burning. Finally his instinct led him to the bay at last and he calmly walked in, feeling glad to be back in his more natural element. He was still angered to have his body not to it's true size. The whales were bigger than him for crying out loud.

However, a diet of fish, and later sharks, slowly let him rebuild his body mass. It was very slow going, taking weeks and months, but he was getting there. He was two stories high a month later. And figured it would take him a year to regain his real size.

Deciding to return to his native seas he took the long trip around North and South America, remembering a 'cannel' but chose not to use it.

By the time he had reached his native waters, he was about back to his true size and strength. He found a relatively small island uninhabited by humans and claimed it simply as his own. He saw many flying not-humans eye him at a distance but saw no reason to attack them until they proved they were a threat.

Eventually, a large ship flanked by flying not-humans in red blue tights came to his New Monster Island (not being able to find the old one), and unloaded what Godzilla could smell at once. Used nuclear material. Useless to the humans. But a delectable treat for the king of the monsters with a living atomic furnace (how else did humans think he was able to move?). Was this their idea of a peace offering? All the same, Godzilla knew this wasn't in the style of their normal tricks but proceeded with caution. When he didn't smell any Oxygen Destroyer he proceeded to chow down. If the humans wanted to offer up what was just trouble for them but free food for him, then all the better.

Other building sized beasts arrived on his island over the years and decades that followed, but they all stayed in their place, none daring to challenge him. After all, was he not, King Of The Monsters?

+++

First he learned as much as he could about potential targets going to Xanadu until he narrowed down his list to one with a rich family and with mainstream tastes. Some internet detective work and some false internet alias' and a couple chats later and he knew what she was going to be going as, and he knew what her escort was going to be going as. With the time he had he memorized every detail of the two characters and the setting. He would let nothing go wrong. He planned the proper excuses and lies to get his target away and how the ransom could be delivered.

Some of his old coworkers would have joked that he LIKED the idea of dressing up like a yellow fox woman, he was glade he left that group. Kidnapping Winters? That was suicide with all the security the old man was likely to have around him. Xanadu was a great chance for men in his profession to be sure, but those numbskulls set their sights too high, best to go for a con-goer whose family had deep pockets instead.

His mother always said he should have a seamster instead of a kidnapper. There were professionals who couldn't pull off what he did in the time constraint he had. Sure he could have been a tailor, but where was the thrill in that?

It was also his great luck that through his digging he found out his target's escort would be arriving separately at the con after his mark was dropped off by her parents. Heh. Maybe this experience would teach them to look out for her more.

The girl was after his own heart he had to admit, apparently she had made her Rika Nonaka / Makino Ruki costume herself. Too bad, but it was just business.

He then made sure he had the feminine mannerisms and body language down right, he would leave no kinks in his disguise.

He made contact with his mark's escort at the convention, he was able to drum up a discussion about them having similar costumes, and with some slight of hand (he could have been a magician too maybe) she was sleeping like a baby. He stripped the escort of her costume and put her outside the convention center for safe keeping.

And with everything finally in place he saw his target. An eleven year old girl dressed flawlessly with a 'mended heart' shirt and other accessories including a wig to be the spitting image of Rika Nonaka, mimicking the character's persona and style of speech perfectly. Kid could be an actress and didn't even know it.

He calmly slipped into the persona of Renamon, digimon, Rookie Level, Data Attribute, 'Beast Man' Digimon, Nightmare Soldier/Nature Spirits/Virus Busters Family. Cool. Calm. Collected. Beautiful. Graceful. Utterly ruthless and pragmatic in battle. And willing to die to protect her human Tamer.

He made it five steps towards his target when he sudden he felt strange, his hot costume suddenly didn't feel so hot, he could feel the air against his fur through the costume. She felt the world around her become a swirling confusing mess. He found herself wondering what was going on, was she having a stroke? She fell to her knees holding her head in one paw. She had come here for someone important, she had come here to get someone important. Who? It was someone she had learned a great deal about.

She heard a scream. She looked at the source, and it was like a light piercing the darkness, the fog lifted totally from her mind and everything made sense!

"RIKA!" Renamon moved so fast she left an after image delivering a flying kick to the towering Frankenstein's Monster knocking it's brain case open and making it stumble back. A straw shot from a weapon shattered a sky light above their heads. Without giving it a first thought Renamon grabbed her Tamer and moved her out of the way.

"Renamon?" Rika asked looking VERY glad to see her Partner Digimon. "What's going on here-?! Where's Goggle-Head? Where's Jeri? Was this supposed to be one of mom's photo shoots?"

Renamon landed and gently put her Tamer down, "I don't know. I wish I knew. And I don't think so."

Rika nodded, "Well, I'm not one to normally back down from a fight but this place is CRAZY let's get out of here, get our bearings?"

"At once." Renamon bowed loyally to her Tamer and carried her to safety.

+++

'Kigurumi' or more proper animegao or 'anime face' was a form of cosplay that in Jeremy's opinion really didn't deserve the bad wrap that it go. It like the furry fandom and everyone who had spent exact five second of second-hand hearsay learning about thought anyone who dressed up in an animal costume was some kind of sex maniac.

The reason people were derogatory towards it varied (like most things). Some thought it was always men in the full body suit costumes and anime girl masks. Never mind six of the people in their half-hazard alliance of ten were ladies. Others thought it was creepy and unnatural, apparently deciding what they thought was creepy was clearly what everyone else should think was creepy.

Jeremy didn't dress up like this because he secretly wanted to be a woman or wanted to be hit on by men. It was just a game. It was FUN to pretend to be someone else from a show you liked for a day. And the full body costumes added a sense of fun and games to the whole thing. If people weren't willing to let it go and have fun with it than that was their problem. And nothing was ever going to change that.

Making the costumes and getting the masks had been the easy part. Getting a group of ten together for the ten main girls from the Lucky Star anime? Not so much. But Jeremy and the rest had pulled it out somehow with pleading, favors, common interests, peer pressure, and good old fashioned friendship.

They knew they were likely to get a marginally small audience compared to the other groups, but was still hoping beyond hope to win 'Best Group Performance.' And even if they didn't . . . they had pulled this all off, and no one could take that away from them.

Using some very clever use of sound bites and sound tracks they were able to recreate sketches from the Japanese comic strip turned anime. They actually got some good natured laughs and some clapping. By luck of the draw he was Miyuki Takara. Looking through the fake glasses wasn't nearly as much trouble as he thought it would be.

Their climax was of course the dance done in the series' final episode to the show's opening theme. Done in one of the smaller rooms. "We're being Cloistered." Maria, the girl playing Konata Izumi called it.

Practicing that dance had NOT been easy and Jeremy now had a much greater appreciation for cheerleader than he ever thought possible for what they had to go through.

The ten of them began the performance, having drawn in a progressive larger audience even if it wasn't as big as the others. The timed soundtrack started they mimed and did the legendary routine, each second a terrifying one worried that something might mess them up. They felt a cool breeze go through the room as they felt lighter on their feet and while still scared they didn't let it make them trip up.

The song ended as the ten girls held their poses for a few seconds more before finally breaking pose and cheering to themselves for a job well done before bowing to their small audience.

"I still can't believe you convinced us to do our high school routine at a sci-fi/fantasy convention Konata-Chan." Miyuki wiping the sweat from from brow.

Konata grinned, "Hey. When you've got a good thing going, might as well share it right?"

When the squad of ten high school girls had gotten redressed into their school uniforms and came out to find the entire convention was now a war zone, they didn't stick to ask around questions, they simply ran like hades through the fields and fire and to the parking lot getting the heck out of there.

Two years later after finally being allowed to return to Japan and having their IDs straightened out at long last Konata had managed to drag Miyuki to another anime convention.

"Konata-Chan, the last convention we all went to nearly got us killed . . . how can you just slip back into things?"

The flat chested girl laughed, "Hey. If you've got something you love, you can't let just one bad experience take it away from you."

Miyuki smiled and nodded, "Right I guess I forgot about that."

Then a large guy wearing a Berserk The Movie T-shirt stomped into their path, "HEY! You! Anime face! Take off that stupid mask and show me that pimpled fat face underneath!"

Konata didn't resist as the big man pulled off the plastic full head mask. And stuck out her tongue out when the man saw her real face was -very- similar to the one he had just pulled out. The man made a cowardly yell and ran away leaving a dust cloud. Konanta simply laughed until her sides ached.

+++

The purple unicorn pony named Twilight Sparkle trotted away from the stands in a drunken stupor. But she wasn't drunk. She felt her head swim. Her mind was a glacier in a boiling ocean that threatened to devour her.

Images flashed in her mind of two different lives that weren't her own. Neglectful parents, school bullies, learning that cheating is actually rewarded and dropping out of high school. Dotting parents, dad's business going bankrupt, sacrificing morals to survive. A meeting, a pact between thieves, using the most perfect and innocent of disguises to shop lift from unsuspecting stores. Just the two of them alone in a single costume, no allies, no friends.

"No!" She almost banged her head against a wall, "My name is Twilight Sparkle! Twilight Sparkle! Not Larry McBabble! Not Drake Hurts! I'm a unicorn pony! A person! Not two humans! I'm alive! I'm real! My parents love me! I was chosen by Princess Celestria Herself to be her personal apprentice! I spent years as a social retarded reclusive introvert learning all I could until Princess Celestria pushed me out of the nest for me to make friends! I am NOT a thief!"

Twilight quieted her mind, and felt the boiling ocean that had threatened to consume her turn to ice. She breathed out a sight of relief. "I don't know what it was, but the amount of magic released here made my little 'incident' at the magic entrance examine look like a cheap pallor trick . . . there's decidedly going to be a lot to learn here . . . I just hope Spike and the others are okay."

She'd eventually find Spike, two of him in fact! And another version of herself who seemed as amazed at their duel existence as her.

Both were overjoyed to finally find their friends panicking. Fluttershy with one of her wings broken and Applejack with a broken leg. Though Rainbow Dash kept insisting she was really two 'humans' and not a Pegasus Pony and that Twilight was not a part of their group before whatever had happened happened.

And Rarity having trouble remembering herself. Pinkie Pie calmly explained they were on 'Earth' at a 'convention' and that they had been 'cos-players' before but were now 'real' and then went on gushing about how exiting this all was and was gonna be the biggest crossover event in the history of anything. Twilight just smiled and nodded.

Maybe Rainbow And Dash's (as she/they insisted being called) 'problem' wasn't such a big one, after all, it helped them keep Fluttershy and Applejack being euthanized for their broken limbs instead of being healed. Twilight didn't like recalling that close call.

On the bright side, a Pegasus' talent at weather control and enable the group to pull together some cash to buy some flat land for themselves. Human cities was no place for ponies. Though Twilight did consider taking up that position at Real Hogwarts.

Eventually both Twilights had to accept the possibility of what Pinkie Pie had said that fateful day as being true. Of course, Twilight herself was under the opinion that being pulled from alternate realities was still a realistic possibility. Her twin suggested maybe they DID have pasts of their own besides their 'originals' or 'previous' or 'vessels' but those had been created retroactive by the god level amount of magic released.

Whatever the origin or truth, Twilight knew one thing, "I am who I am. And I'm happy to be who I am. Nothing else to it."

+++

At Xanadu, Count Dracula, The Lord of Darkness, rose his fortress Castlevania inside one of the multiple pocket realities (former rooms that had been dressed up themselves) readying to summon it into the real world. But wasn't expecting Belmonts of completely conflicting historical times to attack him all at once and kill him.

Thousands of miles away in Span nine months later an albino was born. The parents had never heard of or played the Castlevania video games. Or why they felt the need to name their son 'White Cross', Soma Cruz.

+++

Abigail felt lonely, without Dorith here. "One of us was supposed to be jungle princess Krystal while the other was supposed to be space suit Krystal."

The Marvin The Martian cosplay snickered, "What about Kurse?"

"I don't consider Kurse canon." Abigail said simply.

"Ah you're one of those." The martian cosplayer on the stool next to her said.

"What do you mean 'one of those?' "

"Nothing. So you were gonna have a giant cardboard space ship for your arwing to boot?"

"Naw." Abigail said, "My Arwing is cleverly disguised under a protective hologram outside as an ordinary car."

"Ah." 'Marvin' nodded. "What's that you got there?"

"Oh this? This is a star chart. It actually shows some stars that are above us right right. See this one marked here? That's where the Lylat system is."

"If you say so." 'Marvin' humored her.

Without Dorith around, Abigail wasn't able to do NEARLY as many routines as she had been planning to do for the show. Not that it seemed to matter as some people had spent more money on their costumes than there was prize money! She didn't think it was possible for her to win.

All the same, she did her act, explained where the Lylat system was on her navigational data base, and all in all managed to balance time between the two different versions of her costumes. Though by the day of the awards ceremony she was completely exhausted and fell asleep still in one of her costumes on top of her bed.

She dreamed. She dreamed a dream of being Krystal of course, of wanting Dorith to be there, of it being their destiny to find each other again, of saving the world like Krystal was MEANT TO in the original game before she was demoted to a damsel when it the game was recreated into a StarFox game. She dreamed of a transparent shock wave coming from a black bird, but it was not a sphere, it was a pillar.

Krystal awoke with a start. Hearing lasers being fired madly outside. Considering going out that way but decided she wasn't suicidal and instead simply smashed the room's window open and climbed down the side of the building.

Once there she quickly made it through the parking lot where her ship was still hidden as a car under a hologram. She clicked it and the hologram vanished revealing her Arwing in it's place. She looked around at the chaos, "Nice place to visit. But I think I'll be getting back to Fox now." She climbed in and took off vertically. She flew past a space ship in orbit above the convention she saw was named Enterprise but didn't hail it.

It was a lonely few days in Hyper Space, but she managed. When she saw the Great Fox she signaled and they signaled back. Landing she embraced Fox as soon she got out of her Arwing. It was good to be home.



+++

Zack ended up in black and white strips. Chad was saddled with yellow and brown spots. Laura with a lion. Trixie with orange white and black strips, and finally Greg ended up with the foot stilts.

Trixie nearly walked out when she learned that they'd be doing this not via 'costumes' persay but wearing speedos and a couple custom made breast equivalent (Trixie would have strangled Greg is he tried to have her go topless like the men). And they had to physically block Laura from going when she was told that she'd have to do the performance bald. She wanted to do the performance with her hair out, but when Greg reminded her only male lions had manes, she begrudgingly but quickly agreed to use a painted rubber cap instead after cutting her hair short.

Greg joked his own 'costume' made him almost feel like he was wearing high heeled shoes.


So, with a handful of props that you'd find at an anime otaku store like fake cat ears and tails for the three 'big cats' they had their first dressed rehearsal. Greg tripped over his fake extended legs, almost wanting to go all fours instead of on two feet like they agreed on. Zack's mow-hack needed better glue, and Chad kept bumping into Trixie.

But with two weeks left before the show, and having formed a blood pact to put themselves into the performance to win both the cash and prestige that came with it they did get better.

Finally the big day came and they arrived in Zack's mundane white mini-vane in normal attire. Signing in and registering, the group came to the rented room of their choice then broke out the paper and paint and began.

They had to waste the first day of the convention getting everything set up but it was worth it. The audience seats disguised to look like tree stumps. The walls painted to look like a vast jungle, the ceiling a canopy, and the floor a mass of wild grass and flowers. Though Greg did make a little cash on the side selling off some animal masks.

On the dawn of the next day of the convention they started. Stripping down to their skinniness (the men and women taking separate rooms of course to do this) and then away with those as well. Then came the speedos for both and chest covers for the ladies.


The body paint came next: black and white paint for Zackery. Then came the black and orange paint for Trixie and the white pattern on her front and on the inside of her thighs. Laura put on her skin cap and was painted in the brownish gold paint. Greg on his stilts had a harder time, again thinking about how they felt like high heels. And his paint pattern was more complex than any of theirs. White front area, dark blown on the sides and beige for the rest. The horns almost made it impossible for him to hold his balance.

Their first show was fantastic. Their 'innocent life in the jungle' totally bastardized the food chain, several natural laws and the laws of social dynamics. But it was still fun to watch!

Their next couple of shows weren't as big a hit but they had a steady stream of viewers, and a number of return viewers as well. Then came the day the prizes would be announced. The prize for group performance weren't done until later that day, so the five collage friends were putting on one final show. Chad's method acting group sessions that seriously improved their showmanship.

For fire hazard reasons, the only part of the room never painted was the exit door.


Of course, every performance had that one show, and that one show happened to be today, a little boy and his mother (wearing a small flower hat right out of the nineteenth century) sat in on the show. When the show started, the mother stared in shock for several minutes while her little boy watched on eagerly. Finally the mother snapped out of her daze and began to cover her son's eyes, but he pulled them down defiantly to the woman who he owed half his DNA to. There were of course other kids in the audience, some girls some boys, but the majority were adult males. Who of course gave Trixie and Laura plenty of attention, and Greg got some unwanted attention to boot.

Why the woman didn't leave right away with her son to give him a good spanking for daring to cross her became obvious when the show ended and people began to slowly shuffle out.

She marched up to Zack and poked him in the chest, "You lot belong in the adult section! Or better yet, the zoo!"

"Hey, the adult's is only is if something is actually shown." Zack said not realizing the storm he was facing, "Nothing was shown here."

"That sure didn't stop the perverts in the audience from using their imaginations."

"What's a pervert mom?"

The woman blushed and caught herself, "A bad person dear."

"Look, if you didn't think the show was any good you shouldn't have watched it." Zack said. Chad slapped his forehead.

"Maybe if you had put a bit more DESCRIPTION in what your show is outside!"

"You'd be complaining about the description?"

All of the other four friends groaned. Zack was not defusing the situation all that well. Chad stepped in between them, "Look madam, we're sorry that our show offended you, but we were legally approved by the convention committee, if you think our show's no good, then take it up with them."

Zack just HAD to get the last word in. "Besides, we're just having some innocent fun here."

"So," The woman said, "that makes you all a bunch of little boys and girls playing around naked outside?!" She said in the most venom dripping, acid laced, sharp edged voice imaginable.

Her words stunned all present, those still present of the audience all turned to look at her. Zack couldn't keep his mouth shut to save his life, "And you sound like an over protective kangaroo!"

The woman huffed turning bright read.

When exploring the 'ruins' of Xanadu one guy looking for loot heard cheerful happy voices behind one of he closed doors with bright light on the other side. He cautiously opened it and stepped inside.

Much later, when repair work was finally actually beginning on the convention center, with ghost-busters, super-heroes, and vampire hunters acting as hazard teams, they found one door that was rather strange that it didn't lead to a room as it seemed to lead to an entire different place! Though geometrically impossible, the door led to an outside of a jungle that went to the horizon and beyond.

Inside they found collection of animal people children including a zebra, a bald lioness, a little girl gazelle, and a tiger girl, and a couple others. And a speaking Kangaroo not finding any of them strange or alien but apparently trying to keep the peace with the wild children.

One of the crew workers foolishly took a step in, and a few seconds later he was a blue cheetah boy with black spots playing with the others as if they had known him for years. Or multiple failed 'rescue attempts' the door was finally just sealed off behind a layer of concrete. Leaving the animal children to their eternal paradise.

+++

Alanna and Nicole were identical twins. But you wouldn't know this right away from meeting them. They did not dress alike. They did not speak alike. They did not move alike. Did not have the same hairstyles. They had completely different tastes in entertainment and play. And they the most certainly did not act alike. This difference in nature was so stunning that it took adults a minute to realize the two girls were physically identical.

Alanna always had a sweet face when around her parents, that was completely missing she put mice she bought from the pet store into boxes filled with spider. She always asked politely and nicely for what she wanted and never talked back to her parents. And she made sure any of her classmates who refused her anything suffered and suffered greatly.

Nicole almost never smiled, 'please' and 'thank you' were not part of her vocabulary, and she got up the middle of the night or early morning to do the family dishes when her parents weren't awake or watching. She was very stubborn around her parents when she wanted something, often being relentless. She was just as relentless when a friends of hers asked something from her, and once she promised she'd never give up or give in until she had fulfilled that promise.

Both girls went to church, both listened to what the priest had to say. Alanna was sure to memorize it all so she could parrot it back to others when needed. Nicole listened and never spoke but did her best to glean the -message- the priest was doing his hardest to convey.

But contrast and parallels walk hand in hand. When the two nine year old girls were taken to Xanadu to explore the 'Kid's Friendly' section that Winters had set up a a personal favor to some of his associates children, Alanna had gone as an Angel Cherub, and Nicole as a Devil Imp.

Their mother after some coaxing had decided to go to the con as a clown or at least have clown make up on.

Alanna was polite and smiling to everyone she met, gaging them on what she could gain from a friendship with them.

Nicole was silent with an even face, listening to everything someone had to say, in particular the ones who sat in a corner lonely.

When Eric put on the mask of Raven the Trickster, becoming one with the ancient Native American spirit, those who had been wearing costumes were now what their costumes had been of.

Alanna was a vision of light, floating off the ground in a small white dress with little golden wings and a glowing halo, her spirit now part of something greater with bright blue eyes.

Nicole was in a piece of black rag, skin as red as blood, hooves for feet, her head weight down by horns, and a long spaded tail growing out of her rear. Her red within black eyes darting this way and that.

Alanna laughed, not knowing what had happened, not caring why it had happened, but only know it had, and already imagining what she could do with what she was and how she'd profit.

Nicole hissed and gasped, seeing all the death and destruction that was sublimely happening beneath the twisting churns of chaos, and felt small and weak for nothing being able to do anything to help them.

Then thunder clapped that only they could hear. Both felt a giant hand pick them up, and then place them back down.

And in that moment, suddenly Nicole was looking at herself, and as was Alanna. Only now, Nicole was in the body that was a symbol of inspiration and hope, and Alanna was in the body of random troubles and misery.

Alanna began hissing and cursing and stomping her hooves at her missed chance. Nicole ignored her for the moment and began leading random crowd goers to safety and not to trample on those who had fallen via their subconscious.

Both little angel and little devil knew. Both remembered what their priest had said. The only difference between angels and demons was the good and evil in their hearts.


+++


He was MewTwo, that much he knew. He had not always been MewTwo, that much he also knew. He sadly had few clues on how he had been before. He didn't wish to cease to exist of course, but for the sake of the person who had for all intentions and purposes given birth to him via his (or her) own life, it was best MewTwo try to recover some piece of that person.

When contemplating he had was struck from behind by a dark-type pokemon that was not a dark-type pokemon. MewTwo would later learn it was in fact a niche market pokemon parody called a Gamimon. But the 'dark type attacks hurt psyche types' apparently still applied as MewTwo felt agony as the panicking creature had attacked the most imposing thing it saw, namely MewTwo himself.

He'd find out he was saved from dying by a series of super natural healers who desired to remain ambiguous.

By the time MewTwo had recovered, he discovered the overwhelmingly vast majority of pokemon who had come into being (all Generation One pokemon like himself) had been rendered extinct and the remainder were formally on the endangered species list.

MewTwo's mind was able to despite efforts to the contrary at least two 'Game-Breaker' level entities such as himself that weren't bound by the laws of narrative as he sensed a third potential 'Game-Breaker' was.

MewTwo knew he was a Game-Breaker, it had been his design in the game after all as the final 'capture' of the original games.

Game-Breaker, had become the general term used for any Xanadu victim, or secondary transformation, who was determined by the newly established Council of Magic Users and the Justice League Of America and Real Avengers as being entities that could single handed change the balance of power in the world. And thus were kept under TIGHT surveillance by either the Men In Black or other such groups.

'Well, if I'm going to be put on the list of Game-Breakers, I might as well do something game breaking!'

With that, MewTwo began to rebuild the cloning technology that had been his birth within the fictional realm of pokemon. And he was still no closer to learning who his Previous/Original was before his Rebirth.

And MewTwo felt an emptiness inside him.

He had visited both Ash Ketchems, wanting to thank both, even if it was only in the fictional past they had, for teaching him that humans were not cookie cutter battle hungry sadists.

And MewTwo strangely felt empty.

Once the technology was ready, he did something he knew was likely very stupid and approached Nintendo and Game Freak.

There was a new artificial island off the coast of Japan that had been left unfinished due to natural disasters. Mewtwo proposed to Nintendo and Game Freak to make it a Pokemon preserves. Of course those with common sense objected on the spot. MewTwo was glade he wasn't dealing with idiots who agree to anything. They pointed out the DANGERS that normal pokemon could cause with being able to breath fire, shoot lightning and throw leafs that could cut through stone.

MewTwo however promised these pokemon would be 'safe', purposely engineered by MewTwo that while they could defend themselves, they were made so even a Fire Blast by point blank range by a charizard would just knock someone over and leave their clothes covered in ashes. MewTwo used the exploits of the legendary Inspector Gadget as an example of how those created by and from Xanadu could extend their narrative power of 'harmless violence' to others.

Everyone had seen the news broadcasts of Inspector Gadget's fellow police who had been with him always getting caught up in explosions and falling buildings, but never so much as ONCE be left with anything worse than maybe bruises and a few scratch.

After five years of discussion and planning construction finally began. Meanwhile, MewTwo created another market using the safe failsafes he had installed in his clone pokemon. There were at least two people in the world who could create new anthros, a shaman face painter and a furry costume maker who had become an anthro himself following a promise he had made. But none could create anthro pokemon.

Naturally it was supposed to be only for consenting adults, but determined enough children and weak willed enough parents were in line as well. As a matter of protecting their good image, and to prevent people doing it on a whim. It became mandatory for them to sing a six month contract with Nintendo, though many chose to extend it to a lifetime contract. As a sacred rule, MewTwo limited the clones and anthros to generation one only with a handful of exceptions for Generation two (mostly Lugia fans).

And MewTwo still felt empty.

One day, an old woman came for the procedure. She didn't look the pokemon fan type. She requested Mew. MewTwo refused. She insisted, and not sure why, MewTwo complied.

The new Anthro Mew giggled and hugged him. "It's you! I know it's you! I can only be you! What that Seer said was right! It is you! I can sense it!"

~Wha-wha-what?~

"Rick. It's me. Your mother."

And suddenly, MewTwo didn't feel so empty anymore.

+++

Monica loved this. Putting her costume together had been both fun, exciting, and perhaps a little embarrassing, but wasn't the point of costumes to explore parts of yourselves you normally don't and to understand yourself better? The white and orange latex fully body suit had been easy, designing the needed, erm, openings, had been tricky, the real challenge had been the slightly functional hand paws and digigrateded feet, tail, and of course the fox head with the round mouth opening.

She wore a bathrobe when she entered the convention and made her way into the convention. She wasn't exactly able to speak all that well in her mask so she did her best to mime and just made sounds. Stepping into the fabled and dreaded and alluring Adults Only section she had shed her bathrobe and walked in unafraid, showing off her own creation the latex anthro fox love doll. She walked around showing her stuff before lounging about on one of the couches. Some people petted her. Other just ogled her. And for once the grown woman wasn't afraid of her own body. Here she was free, she wasn't Monica, she was a living latex fox love doll! And everyone loved her!

Monica felt a strange wave go through her. Around her minotaurs went mad, some people making love barely noticed the change except now being able to feel fully each other's fur. For Monica, there was no Monica. Only a living hollow mass of plastic/rubber/latex. The entire world became more simple. All the world became crystal clear. Weighty memories, thoughts, and ideas not related to her purpose fell away.

The love doll wondered why everyone went away. And why no one game to play with her after a good long while. Finally since she could not remember who her owner was she walked out of the dark room where the lights had gone out anyway. A man with a chainsaw and hockey mask leapt at her from the shadows bringing the chain saw on her neck. The chainsaw spun, wheeled and bite, but it didn't leave a single mark on the happy love doll. She only looked at the man in the mask and smile (she always smiled) and waved at him. The man then tried to stab her with a big rusty knife but it seemed to just bounce off her. Finally the man in the hockey mask completely confused and disoriented wandered away.

She eventually wandered outside where people in blue clothes took her into a line with lots of other people of every shape and size. A woman with pointy ears touch her head, and she felt her inside her mind looking around. The woman with pointy ears then spoke to the main in the lab coat with the red beard.

She was put in a special place and told to stay there. And stay there she did. However, with no one playing with her, she eventually got lonely, and left the room near the convention she had been told to stay. She wandered the street, not being able to be harmed and not really minding anyone who tried since that too was a form of playing.

She saw an apartment building, she didn't remember it, but she knew it felt familiar. She wandered inside, and up the stairs, to a apartment that felt very familiar. It was locked. She opened a tiny hiding place and took out a key and went inside.

This felt like a place that belonged to her. But she still felt lonely. That was when one of the people in blue clothes came into the place that felt so familiar to her. He took her hand and pulled on her. She realized he must want to play with her. And play with him she did. He was surprised, shocked, alarmed, but this didn't last long as all those annoying things that distracted him faded away . . . his clothes faded away too as his skin became orange and white latex with a still flat chest chest and they played with each other. The new living sage fox love doll loved his living vixen fox love doll. The two did not tire. Ever. Eventually water, electricity, gas, were all cut off. But these were meaningless to them.

Only the other mattered, only each other could matter, only each other had to matter, only each other should matter. And they made each other complete. Over the years a couple more people wandered into the room that felt familiar looking for something or someone, and they joined in the play too.

Finally, the building had aged well past it's prime was no longer up to construction standards and had to torn down. The latex foxes didn't mind. They merely climbed out of the rubble once it was all over, and wandered off together for another place to play with each other. That was when they were encased in a green bubble by a man in a green costume with a green ring with the symbol of a lantern on his chest.

Carried in the green bubble the vixen were taken someplace else. That someplace else didn't matter. They had each other. That was all that matter. And as long as they had each other. They would be complete.

+++

Billie was NOT happy that her friends had all had to cancel going to the convention. In particular when it left with with a half dozen masks and costumes in her luggage with no one to wear them.

But the worst part was, here she was, Bastet, goddess of cats and homes, in a costume it had taken her SIX MONTHS to make, and now all alone in the adult section . . . she hadn't made her costume this way for perverted reasons, she just wanted to be historically accurate. What was Bastet without the rest of the Pantheon? She was incomplete. Dangit! She'd do anything to have her friends here as the fellow gods of Egypt. Bastet she knew wouldn't have stood for this substandard treatment.

Billie was VERY engrossed in thoughts of Bastet herself when the changes hit . . . and Billie became but a vessel for the spirit of the no longer worshipped Egyptian deity.

'No longer worshipped?' Billie/Bastet thought as she brushed aside the panicking mortals. 'I'll have to do something about that, but first there is business had needs to be done.'

That was when Bastet/Billie felt a chainsaw trying to be struck against her neck, that shattered when it dared touch the flesh of a goddess. She looked at her attack, a mere human in a hockey mask. The masked human let out a scream of debrief, rage and frustration and dared to attack her, WITH HIS BARE HANDS! Bastet/Billie's limited patient was already spent.

"HOW DARE YOU!" She roared as she grabbed the masked face. The man twitched and spasmed, dark brown fur grew on his body as his clothes changed to a simple traditional ancient egyptian thong. His figure decidedly became female, the ears, tail, claws and paw of course were already a dead give away of what he was becoming. When Bastet was done, she let her go. The former psychotic killer stood there wavering for a moment, before she took off the hockey mask, revealing a pretty face with a muzzle and whiskers.

She fell to her knees at once and said, "My goddess, command me."

"You shall carry my things, and you shall be among the first of my new worshippers when I return to Egypt."

"Yes my goddess."

"But first . . . " Billie/Bastet remembered the masks and costumes in her old self's hotel room . . . and could feel old Raven's magic seep into them even at this distance, waiting and ready to be used by their destine bearers. "We have some gifts we have to deliver to some friends . . ."

+++

Charlotte Aulin (in no way related to the dessert witch of the Puella Magi anime) was a magician and sixteen years old (Even given her supposed birthday she would have been over her seventies). She also knew she wasn't supposed to exist. But worse was that she knew she wasn't supposed to exist, but the person who had been like her brother her entire life didn't exist at all. The person who was supposed to go as him had caught a cold and was able to join her previous self at the costume convention. So Charlotte was even MORE alone if she didn't know she existed with just the clothes on her back and the spells in her various books.

She even still had the costume her original's friend would have worn in the trunk of her original's car that had been in range of the curse' sphere of influence. Charlotte greatly suspected what would happen if he chose to wear it. And Charlotte was VERY scared at how the idea appealed to her.

Charlotte had MEMORIES of the person she once was. But that was all they were. Memories. Information, experiences. They didn't feel like HER LIFE, they felt like the life and memories of a stranger that had been inserted into her head! She was not Lisa, and she was never going to be . . . unless she was willing to commit suicide of course. But Charlotte sadly knew she was too selfish for that, that base human instinct to survive always kept getting in the way. She tried to rationalize it that she wasn't really a person, wasn't really alive, wasn't therefore a human being, so it wasn't really murder. But those thoughts rang hollow.

Charlotte was trying, like many other magic users finding themselves at Xanadu, to empirically determine the extent, limits, and capabilities of the magic unleashed from one flash points in the convention center that had engulfed the hotel, the parking lot and of course the center itself.

Charlotte paid her due, did her best to hide her spell books and anything else that might be taken from her, played dumb where she needed to, used her original's memories for all they were worth, and was released into the public being legally declared no danger to herself or others.

She had assumed her previous incarnation's life as much as she could, she play acted that she was still the dead person whose memories she had. She claimed it was part of her curse that she continued to wear her battle dress. She and the lad who was supposed to go as Johnathan barely spoke to one another.

Then came the morning when talking to clear her head she spotted a cat girl. Okay, not that strange, but it was a cat girl MAID! And there were lots of them. In fact, Charlotte realized, she recognized a good deal as being her co-workers and neighbors!

They were still flesh and blood, but they were smiling like dolls and marching like troops on parade in rank.

Whatever was happening was not good.

That was when Charlotte noticed a middle age woman being dragged by two young ladies the woman chatted with on Sunday, now both cat girls in maid uniforms.

"Don't worry mommy! You're gonna love it! It's too bad daddy can't be like us too!" Charlotte gasped, a seven year old girl with cat ears and tail in a size fitting maid uniform smiled at her mother.

'Where are all the men?' She had, like it or not, see a lot of gender flipped victims at Xanadu, and she saw none of the ear markings on these women and she recognized them all anyway. Where they dead? Imprisoned? Knocked out? Wandered off in a daze about the Narrative didn't need them?

"Now just stand still and be pretty! Ho ho ho ho ho ho!" Said a women in a black and white maid uniform with black cat ears and tail carrying a weird alien looking laser rifle. Charlotte tried to remember where she might have seen something like that before.

'Wait. An old anime, really cheesy, short too but kept getting renewals. . . . What was the name of that cat girl maid in it? Sara. No. Serenity. No. Sandra. No. Wait. Charlotte gasped out, "SANADA!"

Mistake. Big time. Finally the horde noticed her.

"Oh ho ho ho! What's this? A witch?" Sanada cackled, "Sanada knew that if she lay low that she have chance to score big prize later! Ho oh oh oh!"

She fired the laser at Charlotte, Charlotte cast 'Clear Skies' just in time to block the distance attack. The woman from before tried to grab her brainwashed daughter and run, but instead Sanada insanely turned and fired at her . . . in second the woman had a tail and ears and was bowing before Sanada, "Just leave anything to me Chief."

Charlotte summoned a long serpent of fire that flew straight at the mad woman however Sanada was a lot more nimble than she looked, dodged and fired. But Charlotte was quicker on her feet than she looked too.

"Please Sanada!" Charlotte implored, searching her original self's memories, "You don't have to do this! These women are no threat to the love between the princess and her true love! Just stop and let those you've converted go!"

Speaking in a completely different tone and manner -suddenly much more masculine- 'Sanada' mocked, "You stupid video game character. I've never been 'one of you' I've been myself this whole time. I never got 'lost in character.' Or was 'reborn with a new persona.' I've been me from the beginnings. I played the part because it was FUN."

Charlotte started at the change in personality. Mistake, stupid, because it made her trip as one of the horde tried to tackle her to the ground.

Charlotte thought. Of all the spells she had. She had that ONE spell right? The one that took several second to cast, had such a long range?

In one of her spell books.

Charlotte threw the spell book at 'Sanada's' face, she easily stepped out of the way. "Geeze lady, ah never though you'd get that panicky so fast . . . thankfully unlike some blokes I'm still me inside so that means I'm not some freaky 1-D thinking shadow puppet made to entertain people that stumbled into reality. Did you really think that was gonna work just because you're the 'good gal?' "

'Sanadra's' horde just stood there smiling, some actually breaking out in cheering for their Chief Maid.

"Maybe I did. Maybe I didn't. The point wasn't really that though was it? That gun of yours is the real danger. If you had the knowledge that came with your character you could just build more and give them to your horde. But you only have that one. Which means you can't replicate it."

"Heh. You're smart. I hope you keep those pretty brains after you grow ears and a tail. I'm gonna need help staying under the radar so I don't go attracting Superman."

"I've got to ask. Where are the men? Does that ray change gender too?"

"Sadly no, which is something I'm gonna need some science wiz's rather than just these day workers to figure how to fix that. Don't worry about getting some toots. They're alive, for now. Until there get to be too many to keep them all alive."

The horde was gathering closer around now, seeing this exchange. "I see . . . "

"Yeah I know! I mean! You know all those bad movies were people replaced by invading shape shifters are kept locked up in a cage somewhere for no good reason? Heh. Me? I say why take either extreme?"

"I have then just one last thing to say to you."

"What?"

"SANCTUARY!"

The book Charlotte had thrown glowed white and a yellow white circular pillar spread from the center. 'Sanada' turned just into time to go, "Oh sh-" and was engulfed in the light along with some of her slaves. It stood within inches of Charlotte. When it cleared a second later, her victims were human again, and 'Sanada', was now a human he, in a thorough but cheap Sanada cosplay costume, and the gun was a piece of plastic. He tried to run but apparently didn't exercise much so Charlotte just whacked him in the face with one of her spell books, turned out he had a glass jaw.

The part of 'Sanada's' horde still cat girls looked confused, disoriented, looking at themselves and each other as if waking up from a dream.

Charlotte picked up the spell book she had thrown, and looked it over.

The book was now just a book, it had been created at Xanadu as well. It had been 'cured.' It had no magic now. Charlotte Aulin knew it was going to take a good long while to rewrite that spell book from scratch. But she could handle it.

+++

After Renamon had rescued Rika from the madness of Xanadu, her Previous' parents somehow found out where she was and what had happened to her. For the time being, Renamon was perfectly happy to serve as Rika's protect and began learning of the person she once was. Then the person who was SUPPOSED to be Rika's Original's chaperone was found. And she explained what had happened to her. Renamon was shocked, and was Rika. Renamon did some detective work of her own. And when she finally put the pieces together. She was horrified. The mere idea of the personality of who she once was rising back to the surface made her so fearful for Rika's safety she fled.

However, Renamon found out that Rika's parents did not really care that much for their new daughter. And had paid great sums to have her legally murdered so they could bring the personality and identity of their dead daughter back from the grave.

But Renamon feared, the Men In Black were directly involved. And one flash of the Neuralizer, and she'd be HIM again, she'd be that monster again. Renamon considered suicide as her only honorable option to join her Tamer in death.

That was when she met a Lucario. He was, she found out, someone who had been to Xanadu and had been born blind, but had been interested in the idea of 'aura sight' and had with her parents and nurse gone to the convention as Lucario. He taught her how to see with aura, without using her eyes. And since the neutralizers were vision based, Renamon finally had the means. Lucario also told Renamon, that who she was before didn't matter, it was who she was now and what choices she made now that would define her.

Renamon enacted a full out assault against the heavily defended building Rika was being held in, tearing down and through security, heroes and monsters alike to rescue her. Rika was overjoyed to see her. Renamon confessed what she was, who she had been. "Oh shut it Renamon. That person is dead. You're Renamon now. That's all that matters."

Originally, Renamon's brash actually actually -helped-. A couple years later, Strangers were legally declared people, not false memories or delusions of people with a disease or condition that needed to be 'cured.' A similar law had already been passed in Japan with help form the newly formed Real Crystal Tokyo Party.

Meanwhile due to the actions of Rika's parents, after an intense legal battle and with new laws in effect, Renamon was granted legal custody as Rika's legal guardian. (With Renamon being first declared legally sane and competent at first and acquitted of charges of breaking and entering and assault and yes kidnapping due to some very good lawyers provided by Eric Winters when no one was looking).

Rika and Renamon considered doing many things together on the day they legally became mother and daughter. But in the end, they simply chose to watch the sunset. On the other side of the world at the same time, ten teenage girls watch the sunrise.

New Beginnings