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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

Younger



Skitch got away from the big dog and leaned against the wall of the alley, panting. “Dumbass dream,” he wheezed aloud. “I thought once you realized--you were dreaming, you could--control your environment, and--stuff.”

“Works here, too,” offered the teenage guy next to Skitch. He was sitting casually on top of one of the trash cans, eating a bag of snacks. “Except it’s your subconscious doing the controlling. Be careful what you wish for and all that, you know?”

“Warp?” said Skitch, squinting. This dream just got weirder and weirder. “What are you doing here?”

“Uh, well, same as you, actually.” The superhero offered him the bag of Combos. “I snuck in on somebody else’s nickel. The Concierge just about shit a brick. But I’d say I panned out all right in the end, mythically speaking. ...You can go ahead and eat these, you know. If I wanted to poison you I could just, like, warp some curare into your bloodstream or something.”

“Ew,” said Skitch, and put a couple of Combos in his mouth. “I guess it’s a good thing you’re not a super villain, then.”

“I like to think so,” Warp said, and grinned. “So how about it--why are you here?”

“I came to help Ebreth and Jack.”

“You like helping people, then?”

Skitch flinched. “What’s that supposed to mean?” he demanded.

“Nothing bad.” Warp raised his hands. “Maybe I better take this one from the top. You ever been to any alternate universes... different timelines, anything like that?” Skitch shook his head warily. “Well, if you ever do, one thing you’ll notice pretty quick is a lot of the same people keep recurring--much more than they ought to. If a timeline branched off from mine 2000 years ago, for example, what are the odds of me being alive there? Not good, right? If anything different happened to anyone in my family tree, I never would have been born. But in practice, ninety-nine times out of a hundred there’ll be an analog of me no matter what world you’re looking at. That’s because I’m one of the archetypal constants of the multiverse.”

“Mmm-hmm,” said Skitch, starting to tune out.

Warp cleared his throat. “Anyway... so there are only three hundred of us throughout all of space and time. 291 archetypes, five immortals, and four aspects of the Sidhe. What you guys have just essentially done is filled eight of those slots with people who were never supposed to be here in the first place. You’re one of them... and now we have to figure out what we’re going to do with you.”

“Oh,” said Skitch quietly, suddenly sorry he’d distracted the superhero from his geek-talk. “Is... this the point where you make me fight a battle against my dark side?”

“Oh, heck no,” said Warp. “We’re not half that mean to the kids. Why don’t we just start with you telling us what you’d like to be when you, uh, grow up.”

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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

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