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Eretha

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There was a CRASH! from downstairs.  Pudding awoke with a start.   What was that?! she thought.   Did Speedy break in again?!  She crept silently down the stairs to investigate.

Audrey and Mi were standing around a large circle on the floor.  Actually, only Audrey was standing; Mi was lying unconscious underneath a lamp.

"I knew that would wake you up!" Audrey said, grinning.

"Ugh...what are you doing here?" Pudding asked, tired.

"Well," said Audrey, "I was studying Hetrean magic, and I discovered something incredible!"  She gestured to the circle.  "This, right here, is a portal to another dimension!"

"Another dimension?" Pudding asked.  Audrey nodded.

"Once we step in this circle, we'll be sent to another Hetrea somewhere in the multiverse!"  Audrey calmed down.  "Well, not quite.  See your brother lying unconscious on the floor over there?"  She pointed to Mi.  Pudding nodded.  "Take him down to the basement."  Pudding grabbed her brother and started walking down the stairs to the basement.

When Pudding went down to the basement, she saw a sticky note on the wall.   Bring his spare goggles back up.  Pudding grabbed Mi’s spare goggles and ran back upstairs.

“I got the goggles!” Pudding said.

“Good,” Audrey said.  “Now, put them on; they’ll protect your eyes from the space between dimensions.”  Pudding put on the goggles.  “You ready?” Audrey asked.  Pudding nodded.  “Get in the circle with me.”

Pudding and Audrey entered the circle.  Audrey chanted something in a weird language, and the circle started glowing green.  Pudding braced herself.

And, just like that, they were gone.

Chapter Text

Gell hid behind one of Eretha’s few remaining trees.  She wasn't sure, but she just knew something was going to happen where Mi’s house used to be.  Sure enough, she was right -- a green light flashed, and after it came Audrey and…

Oh my Mobius, Gell thought to herself.   It’s Pudding?!  Sure enough, the young Mobian standing next to Audrey was, in fact, her dear friend Pudding.  She cautiously stepped out from behind the tree.

“...where are we?” Pudding asked.  How could she not know?!  Did she lose her memory after--

“It...looks like Hetrea,” Audrey answered.  This confused Gell even more.   What the hell is “Hetrea?!”  She decided to approach what looked like her friends.

“Sticky!” said Gell.  Pudding and Audrey turned to face her.

“Gell?” Pudding asked.  Gell nodded.  “What are you doing here?”

“Sticky,” Gell explained.  Audrey looked at Pudding, confused.

“Isn't her species supposed to be able to communicate at this stage?” she asked.  “That’s how our Gell is.”

“Maybe she's shy,” Pudding said.  “Don't worry, Gell; it's me, Pudding!”  Gell responded with a dagger held mere centimeters from her throat.  “Whoa hello”

“STICKY!” Gell shouted.

“What's she saying?” Audrey asked.

“She just...asked me who her favorite Mobian is.”  Pudding thought for a moment.  “Gell, that's a horrible question to ask!”

“Sticky,” Gell said, motioning for the two of them to follow her.  They walked to Frisky’s castle.  Gell opened a trap door and led them down into the basement.  Waiting for them were Hurricane, Goo, Frisky, Chia, Fang, Denim, Terra, Paste, Fade, Dusk, Bubbles, Blue, Danny, and Audrey.

“Wh...what's going on?!” Pudding asked.

“Sorry,” Gell said.  “I had to make sure you were you.”

“Of course I'm me!” Pudding exclaimed.  “Why wouldn't I be?!”  Everyone looked at each other solemnly.

“Pudding,” Hurricane began, “I don't know how to tell you this, but you're--”

“SQUAREBOTS!” a voice called from above.  Someone new ran down into the basement, pulled a rug over the trap door, and closed it.  It was too dark for Pudding to see who he was, but she thought he sounded familiar.

“But Squarebots are perfectly harmless,” Pudding whispered.  “The worst they can do is weigh down a fridge.”

“Not anymore,” the other Audrey explained.  “Ever since you died, Mi’s been improving them.  They're bigger, stronger, and more dangerous than before.  If you don't believe me, ask Clone.”

“Oh,” Pudding said.  Then, “Wait, I WHAT?!”

“Did anyone else just hear Pudding?” the voice asked.  Pudding recognized it as Clone’s, and she suddenly felt a little more dour.

“Clone!” Audrey snapped quietly.  “Focus!  Are the Squarebots still there?!”

“Oh!” Clone pressed his ear against the ceiling.  “They're gone, but I’m not sure how far away they are.  We should stay down here for a few more minutes.”

“All right,” Audrey said, turning on a lantern.  “I’m going to show these newcomers to their rooms.  Audrey, you'll be with me and Danny.  Pudding, you're with Gell.”  The two Audreys stood up and left.  Gell grabbed Pudding and dragged her to her room.

“Wow,” Pudding said, “this is even bigger than our treehouse!”  Gell sat down on her bed.

“How are you here?!” she asked.  “How are you alive?!

“I came here from another Hetrea!” Pudding explained.  “Audrey was showing me a new spell she learned--”

“Hold up,” said Gell.  “What the hell is Hetrea?!*

“What do you mean?” Pudding asked.  “It's this planet!”

“Not here, it isn't,” Gell said.  “This planet is called 'Eretha.’”

“Well, where I’m from, it's called Hetrea.  Why am I dead here?”

Gell looked Pudding directly in the eyes.  “It was during the Ball.”