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All resolves but never ends

Chapter Text

It was a cold and dark night, about a fortnight off from the winter solstice. Annabelle McAlistair could see her breath condense into ice clouds as she breathed in and out. She was shivering, even though she was bundled in multiple layers of clothing. A nice fur coat, wool sweater, and silk undergarments, all bought in excellent quality after all her parents were rich. Annabelle didn’t seem to mind the cold though, it was just one more obstacle that she needed to overcome to be successful. Besides, this wasn’t the first night she was sneaking out of her boarding room at Saint Helga’s College for the Talented to go to the local cemetery. However, she might have to be planning her trips more sparsely. Even with her lack of understanding of social norms, she could tell the dean and administrators were growing suspicious of her. She knew that if she got caught, she would be thrown out of school for sure and become a failure. Trudging along the familiar path with nothing but a lantern to cast a light on the paved flagstone, an iron shovel to dig up the bodies needed to continue her experiments and an old rusty wheelbarrow to deposit the bodies.

Arriving at the graveyard, Annabelle stopped for a moment, taking the orderly rows of gravestones. The methodically planned out graveyard pleased her, as something she could understand. This was one of the oldest cemeteries of New Albion, and one of the more well-known ones. The original city planners had much foresight because rather than just having dead from different former eras mixed in with each other like salt dissolved in with water, there was a plan to the graveyard. As one moved back towards the far end of the graveyard, the deceased were from an older period. The oldest ones did not even have grave-stones, just a crude stone poles indicating where the dead were buried. They were never replaced with gravestones later, as people did not want to disturb the sleeping departed. Scholars speculated that the famous gambler, the one who played the game with the monk, yet died too soon was buried somewhere near the back. The monk was buried in another graveyard, closer to the park on Criers Boulevard. Off to the eastern edge of the graveyard a small hut was built. Annabelle wondered occasionally what was in there, but the heavy oaken door was nearly impossible to bust down. Guess they didn’t want just anyone entering, Annabelle figured. The older bodies near the back of the graveyard, Annabelle had no use for, they would have already decomposed to dust by now. No, what she needed were the recently buried, as she continued work required at least something from the body to use, not just dirt.

Time later, the sky still dark, Annabelle was tired and weary from the tedious work of hole digging. It was tough work, requiring lots of stamina for the repeated task of lifting dirt and later replacing dirt in the holes. It also didn’t have the best smelling scent as well. But, she got what she wanted, a wheelbarrow stacked full of bodies, she could now return and continue to run tests and trials to perfect her formula. She was so close to figuring it out! She could feel it. But now, all Annabelle had to do was return back to St. Helga’s, try to get some sleep, go to classes in the morning and maybe talk to Jasper: her angel. The Only person who seemed to notice her and talk to her. She could still feel the sensation of his lips on her cheek. All her other peers just treated her like she was not there, like some ghost. The professors were barely better, only noticing her when no one else could answer a question posed during class.

As she was starting to pat the dirt on the final hole she dug, trying to make it look like no one disturbed it she stiffened. She could hear the barking of dogs, and the distant glowing of torches. The school and city officials had enough of whoever was disturbing the dead. This was the night they were going to find and punish whoever was doing it. Even though Annabelle was tired, she realized she needed to run away, using the last of her energy she pushed herself to flee, not abandoning her wheelbarrow. It would be difficult to trace it back to her. She just didn’t want to be caught. Picking a random direction, she ran.
You, dear reader, already know how this story would’ve gone. She would’ve been caught, the dogs and the men catching up to her. Expelled and embarrassed she would’ve returned in disgrace to her lab. Her parents and her beloved Jasper would have died shortly thereafter. Then after many years of endless numberlands and trials, her work would finally pay off as she would learn the secret to bringing back the dead, to put the spirits of the deceased in life-size mechanical dolls. Clever little Annabelle with her clever head. Eventually, these dolls would ignite a fad in New Albion in a few generation’s time, even inspiring a religion: the Voodoopunks. But like most fads, they would fade away, this fad was particularly devastating. Many Albionites grew to fear the dolls, and after a suicide, the city rioted on the infamous pyre night and eventually the constitutional monarchy would be replaced by an imposing and strict martial law.

But something was different this iteration, a meddlesome time-traveler, born far in the future of New Albion, had traveled back in time to prevent the process of bringing back the dead from ever being discovered. Without the dolls, the traveler hoped that the city would never fall to riots and martial law. He pinpointed this moment in time as the string to pull on the quilt of time. As Annabelle rushed by the abandoned little hut the heavy door swung open. What was even more astonishing was the sentence that was spoken but felt like it was shouted.

“Come in here, Annabella! You won't be caught!”

With butterflies causing a windstorm in her stomach, she dashed into the hut. The door was shut and closed behind her. She got a chance to see her would be savior: a young man, a young man around her age.

Chapter Text

The young man was a few inches taller than Annabelle. He had piercing blue eyes and a mop of dirty blond hair, and his teeth---they were clean and straight, something that was rare for Albionites, with medicine lacking. What was even more peculiar was the contraption strapped to his wrist, green, large and bulky made of some strange material that Annabelle never saw before. The scientist inside Annabelle itched to tear into the device and learn its secrets, understand how it worked. Realizing now that she was just awkwardly staring at the boy, she figured she should say something, make a point to connect.

“H-how did you know my n-name?” Annabelle managed to stutter out, why was talking to someone so hard. One of these days, she would simply end all human contact, excluding Jasper, and lock herself inside her lab, only coming out for food.
“From where I’m from, you’re quite well-known.”

He had an odd accent, Annabelle found she had trouble trying to understand what he was trying to say. Sure, the words were the same, but the manner he spoke, he was placing emphasis on the wrong phonemes, as well as his pace seemed slightly too fast than she was used to hearing. It was another thing to add to the growing list of peculiarities about this strange man.

“Please sit make yourself comfortable, I think we’re going to be in here a long time until the people out there stop looking for you.”
Annabelle looked around the space, the walls were old cracked and faded red. Or what she assumed to be red. A rotting carpet with a floral design was left in the center of the room. The only wooden furniture in the room seemed to be a few chairs, but like the rest of the room, they seemed to be in a state of disrepair. Not wanting to test if they would hold up to her weight after all these long years, so she walked over to the bare wall and sat herself down there, using the wall as something to lean against. The man copied her actions, sitting down leaning against the opposite wall.

“S-so you know my n-name, but what is yours?” Annabelle asked.

“I’m Casey, Casey Vadviva, it’s a pleasure to meet your acquaintance.”

“You t-too. May, I ask what you were doing here? In this house, before I ran past?”

Casey gave a small chuckle, Annabelle swore she saw a glint of mischievousness in his eyes but perhaps she was imagining things.
“I’m was actually waiting for you to pass, so I could offer you someplace to hide… You see, tonight would’ve gone a little different if I wasn’t here. They would’ve caught you, and I can expect you know what would’ve been happened next.”

“I would’ve been a failure…” She said, her words barely above a whisper, would’ve had to face her parents, explain to them why she was stupid enough to get caught.

“Hey, nothing’s wrong with mistaking a few mistakes, no one is perfect and no one needs to be perfect, we’re all just trying to do the best we can.” Annabelle could tell his words were genuine, and she felt a small bit of gratitude, for not being like the rest with having lofty expectations, but still, she couldn’t shake off his parents.

“Bu-but my parents, if they found out they would have yelled, and rebuked me, they always tell me to be the best and the most brilliant.”
Casey remained silent thinking before he supplied a solution. “I don’t want that guy, but so what if they’re your parents. They’re humans just like us, prone to mistakes, you don’t need to take their word as absolute truth.”

“Perhaps you’re right.” Annabelle muttered out, as hard as it is to see it Casey’s way, he indeed had a point.”
Throughout the fading hours of the night Annabelle and Casey got to know each other through more conversation. She learned that his favorite color was blue, that he was a college student focusing on both history and engineering, his favorite math problem was something he described as the Monty Hall problem where a contestant on a radio show would open doors to find either goats or carriages. Throughout their talking she observed multiple times in which he seemed to start to say something, stop himself and say something else, she had no doubt that he seemed to be hiding something. He never mentioned where he went to school, and she darned well never heard of this Monty Hall problem.

When the sun was casting its first rays on the ground, Annabelle realized she should start to head back to her school and get ready for classes. Casey and Annabelle both stood up stretching a little bit.

“Will I see you again?” Annabelle asked, hopeful, it would be such cruel to save her from getting and then never talk to her again.

“Yes, I was hoping we could meet back here at 8 o’clock tonight after your done with school work. There’s something important I need to ask, and I bet your curious as to what contraption I have on my arm. I can show you if you want… Although, I suggest you pack a bag.”

“Yes!” Annabelle said, nodding her head for emphasis. What Casey just said intrigued her to no end, and she wished it was already 8.
“Then see you later alligator,” Casey replied as a way of farewell, confusing Annabelle.

“What?”

“Oh, you don’t have that here yet. Err forget it.”
“Alrighty.”

Annabelle started walking back through the graveyard, offering a wave. She stopped when she got to where her wheelbarrow was located, the authorities must have taken it back to see if they could analyze it about any hints about who was digging up the graveyard, she figured. Well no matter, she did not need to collect dead bodies right away, not now especially when she had a new friend. Any person who was willing to talk to her so long and did not make fun of her shyness was a friend in her book.

Classes came and went in a flurry, they always tended to go by fast, especially when she only talked to one person, Jasper. Normally she would pay attention, after all, who wouldn’t like the study of Alchemy and Cartesian planes. But today, she found herself drifting off and daydreaming about what Casey had to say to her tonight. As a scientist she found it aggravating that she could had no reasonable explanation for his oddness, the language he used, the weird technology he had, and how healthy he looked. Maybe he would finally explain it all to her. After her final class, a study on the works of Martin Turner, renowned alchemist, talking to Jasper and napping to regain some energy she left for the graveyard, just as the sun was about to set. Although this time she had neither spade nor shovel, but she did have a small bag packed with some clothes and other necessities.

She found Casey leaning against the wall of the old hut they were hiding in last night. After exchanging pleasantries and greetings she asked the question that had been on all her mind this morning. “So, what’s important that you have to ask.”

“Please stop and destroy all your work on trying to raise the dead.”

Annabelle was flabbergasted, how did he know such a thing, and why? Raising the dead was her life’s work, if she didn’t it would finally be the accomplishment that she needed to make her parents proud of her.
“Impossible” She spit out and starting to turn and leave, all Casey’s positive traits were spoiled with his request.

“Wait.” Casey said, rather horridly. “Annabelle, I know this is important to you, but the dead don’t want to come back, they’re in Elysium now, the silent sighed lost lullaby, where all the sorrow, guilt and shame and burdens borne are dispersed, they don’t want to come back.” Casey breathed a sigh of relief when Annabelle turned back to him, still angry but at least she was willing to listen.
“Look, this might sound like I’m crazy and have lost my mind, but I’m from about 150ish years in the future, I travelled back in time to stop this, using the device on my wrist. It’s called a M.G.C., the 6th version of it the invention. But more importantly you succeed, you can bring back the dead and put them in dolls, you figure it out, but your invention has consequences, it leads to martial law, civil war, the deaths of several people.”
Annabelle looked down guilty, all she was trying to do was resolve the loneliness in her life and try to prove she could be something.
“Look Annabella, if you want I can show you, travel in time with me, show you the facts. Not all is bad. I can have you back here when we’re done like you didn’t even leave.”

“Alright, fine I guess.”

Casey excited to show Annabelle the future, tapped a few buttons on his mini-computer with M.G.C. installed. Suddenly, a portal opened in front of the pair. The rippling surface of the portal showed what was clearly district 8, but it seemed somewhat different, with a few buildings she didn’t recognize.

Chapter Text

Going through the portal was the most peculiar sensation Annabelle felt, even though it was just one simple step. Walking through, she felt like she was going through a membrane of something ethereal. It was if she was pushing on time itself.

Emerging on the other side, she found herself and Casey behind her in what seemed to be a park. A rather busy park. Couples were strolling talking with each other. Off in one corner of the park, some friends were busy, playing Croquet, the game with the mallets that Annabelle could barely understand. Another corner of the park had some people playing a game of chess. With all the people around. Apparently, it was spring, birds chirping, much warmer and lighter than the winter she just came from. It would have been nice if it was not so crowded. Of course, Annabelle began to feel anxious, so many people about, and she hardly knew how to interact with anyone of them. Seeking solace, she reached over to grab Casey’s hand she squeezed it.

As if knowing her worry, Casey responded calmly “Hey, it’s going to be fine. We can work through your fears, remember just baby steps.”

Annabelle took some deep breaths, slowly counting to ten. While her worries did not seem to completely disappear, they seemed to ease up and dissipate a little bit, enough that she could function.

“Thanks for that,” Annabelle replied, sending a smile Casey’s way.

“It’s no problem. So, let me just set things up, to help you.”

Casey said as he strolled over to a wooden bench, waiting for Annabelle to join him before he continued.

“So firstly, you should put your hair up in a ponytail, just to be on the safe side, it’ll make it harder for you to get recognized. That’s kind of a danger for the first phase of our little adventure, as we’ll have to be careful.”

Noticing that Annabelle had problems styling her hair, Casey gently reached out. “I can help if you want.”

Annabelle nodded and Casey started braiding Annabelle’s long hair.

“So, I guess story time. Like I said before, if I hadn’t shown up last night, you would’ve been caught, kicked out of school. Gods, I don’t know how to say this but Jasper ends up getting married to an upper-class girl named Julie and they had a daughter, a girl named Fay. Jasper managed to get killed…”

Annabelle looked heartbroken after all Jasper was the only one nice to her. Casey did his best to comfort Annabelle, who was starting to cry. “It might be risky but after we’re done, I can attempt to save Jasper.”

“You’ll do that?”

“Yeah, if it means you’ll be happier, I’m not going to sabotage their marriage though. “Fay is important to the current timeline.”

“I guess I can live with Jasper being alive.”

Casey gave a solemn nod. “Anyway, your formula for bringing back the dead proves to be successful, with a caveat, instead of bringing back the dead with their original bodies, you only manage to get their spirit and place them in a large mannequin doll. Jasper, of course, is who you bring back, you spend a fair amount of time with him. In the end, you learn that Jasper and other spirits of the dead have gone to Elysium I know I mentioned this before but it bears repeating, Elysium is important later, but for now just think of it like Nirvana, as such, Jasper doesn’t really want to be a doll. So, uh, I’m pretty sure, you let him go back. The history texts I’ve read weren’t exactly clear on this time period, the government has done a lot of censoring. Years later you eventually find love with a husband, have a son named Edgar. He’s all grown up and is in love with Fay. Another point I think I should add is that you’ve died a few years before this, which is another rule of time-travel. One can't have two iterations of themselves in the same time period."

Annabelle was washed in a series of emotions: jubilation proud at her future self for solving her problems and being to hang out with Jasper, guilty that she made Jasper suffer, and self-pity, it sounded like she had a rather terrible life, considering she died early. Did she? She decided to ask for clarification.

“Wait how far in the future are we?”

“About 30 years.”

So, she was right, her suspensions were confirmed, she died young. Needing to be cheered up, she reached over and embraced Casey in a hug. She just needed to feel love. For his part, Casey seemed to understand and hug back. Then there was the fact that her son apparently was in love with the same family. History seemed to repeat like that. Was it some sort of McAllister curse caused by dark magic from a family feud?

“We still have a few hours to burn, before we get to see Edgar and Fay, the thing about this time travel model is that the further through time you travel, the more imprecise you get, are you up for getting some ice-cream?” Casey asked, hoping to brighten Annabelle’s mood as he gestured to a carriage where a dwarf was selling ice-cream not too far away.

“Sure, it would help distract from everything I learned just now.”

Casey gave Annabelle’s hand soft another squeeze. “I know that was hard for you, I didn’t mean to cause heartbreak, it should get easier as events are going to be more removed from you.”

“That’s a relief.” Annabelle sighed out as they walked over to dwarf.

“Chocolate please!” Casey called out as they drew near.

“I’ll have Strawberry!”

The sweet treats apparently did the trick to brighten the mood, after getting their cones, they strolled around the park. Annabelle’s anxiety wasn’t too bad as Casey and she stayed near the least popular side of the park, away from the people. If it was not for being in the future, apparently going to watch a date between Edgar and Fay, Annabelle imagined this is what normal people did. Perhaps she would do this more often back in her own time instead of spending so much time in her lab. Plus, she was starting to warm up to Casey, he was kind, gentle, smart and funny.

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Edgar sat waiting for Fay at the restaurant. An upper-class fine dining restaurant that served fresh seafood. He had already taken the liberty of ordering the wine, a hearty red from the Tusian coast. The music was nice as well, a folk band was playing fairy music. Fay arrived and sat down across from him. For some reason, he couldn’t shake off the feeling that Fay was colder than normal. He gave a pleasant greeting and tried to dismiss it as he read the menu.

“So, what do you think you’ll be having,” He asked after a little while.

“The cod sounds good.”

“I’m tempted to try that, but I think I’ll have the Prawns.”

The server came and they ordered their meals, although Edgar still couldn’t shake off the feeling that something was amiss. While they were making polite small talk, Edgar couldn’t help but engage in people watching. There an older couple with silvery grey were working their way through desert, a few tables away from the older couple, a family of four seemed to be in the midst of some sort of celebration, Closer to Edgar and Fay’s table he could see Annabelle, his beloved mom, eating some Calamari talking with another gentleman, and near the exit was…

Wait! Did he just see his mom having dinner in the same restaurant as him? He looked back again, having a challenging time deciding if it was indeed his mom. For one thing, the girl appeared to be younger than he ever knew his mom, and another thing: His mom was dead! How could she be here? He decided that his mind was playing tricks on him. Although…

Choosing to peruse that mystery for a later time, Edgar turned his focus back to Fay. She really was an angel. The orange light from the sunset hit her perfectly, bringing out her emerald green eyes and blonde hair.

Nearing the end of their meal, Fay seemed to grow more serious and distant.

“Okay, I’ve waited long enough, we need to seriously talk,” Fay said, staring at Edgar directly, making sure he was paying attention.

“I’m sorry, but I found someone else.”

Edgar's eyes went wide. Was Fay really doing this, breaking up with him?

“I’ve tried to love you again, but we spent a day out on the river together and I knew at that moment that my heart couldn’t love you again. Look, you’ve been great for me, but I think its high time to move on. It’s over and it’s done. This is goodbye.”

Edgar could feel his cheeks grow red, why did Fay have to embarrass him in front of all these people. Why did she have to make his heart ache so? It wasn’t fair! Edgar gave a slight nod of understanding and with that, Fay rose from the table and walked out of the restaurant. Leaving him with the bill. His appetite was ruined, he was going to get the Lime Pie, embracing the sweet nostalgia, but now he too was too distracted. Focusing on trying not to cry

He promised himself, that he would win Fay over again if it was the last thing he would do. He would make Fay feel the same way he now felt, with his heart burning and yearning.

After composing himself, he paid for the bill, stood and left the restaurant. It wasn’t too far of a walk from the trolley stop where he could head back home to the Capital District. Trying to distract himself, he thought back to the restaurant, where he swore he saw his beloved mom. he would spend some time in the attic. There was an old trunk he knew that he was too busy to bother and look in it, perhaps that would give him some clues as to what she was doing here.

Chapter Text

The next morning, after a good night’s sleep, Edgar rose eager and excited to start the search for the mysterious women who might have been his mother he saw last night. Ignoring the dull ache of Fay’s breakup with him, he prepared for his day. Searching for a candle and igniting it, he climbed up the ladder, opened the trap door and entered the attic of the McAlistair family mansion…

Only to sneeze, repeatedly

It was sure dusty up there, cobwebs hung from the low slanted ceiling. He must have been the first person in a long time to wander up here. This was his first he had come up here, it just was not interesting for him. In the dim candlelight on the far side of the room, against the wall was a wooden chest. The floorboards squeaked and moaned as he crossed the room. Kneeling in front of the heavy trunk he lifted the lid and blew the dust from the forgotten family heirlooms. Was that singing he was hearing or was he just imagining the woman’s voice?

In a corrugated cardboard box resting on top, Edgar found a wooden white cross that the city government usually gave to fallen Soldiers in wars, as well as a pair of faded pink leather ballet slippers. Under the cardboard box, there lay a silver candlestick of antiquated design. Edgar continued to pull out several objects, inspecting each and putting them on the floor. At the very bottom of the chest, lay a book. Maybe this book held the key to the mysteries he had. The first page contained the messy cursive scrawl that he recognized as his mother’s that at first, he had trouble reading. Each page cramped with diagrams and that tiny font. The more he read, the more, the more he became amazed at his mother, then again, he always knew he was brilliant, this just was more evidence. According to the journal, Annabelle had found a way to raise the dead into mannequins, what she called a doll. She had risen one, and then suddenly stopped, the messy scrawl ending halfway on a page, the rest of the journal was blank. But maybe, he could make a doll, after all, he didn’t seem to have anything else going on.

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Across town, in the brisk morning air, Annabelle and Casey were taking a walk. After renting a hotel room, they were roaming the streets. It was early enough that few others were out at the current hour.

“We have a problem.” Casey vacillated. “We have a few options, and I’m not sure which one we should go with.”
What are our options?” Annabelle inquired

“Well, we can stay here for months, Edgar after last night will return home to McAlistair mansion, where he’ll discover the notes you left behind, then he’ll start on your experiments till he eventually raises a doll and starts a business bringing folk’s dead ones back. Or we can just skip that nonsense and head forward another generation, but I’m hesitant. Where we are going is a prefix to what historians agree is one of the dangerous times to be alive in New Albion. I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

Annabelle ever so clever envisioned a third way. “What if we do something else? Sort of a mix a ?” mused Annabelle, “Perhaps we could skip ahead to when Edgar finished my trials and starts to sell? I am confident he would go to the market to sell, right?” Annabelle guessed
“You’d be correct, that’s smart.”

As New Albion was home to the weird, its citizens would barely bat an eye to a portal opening, in those days they would chock it up to magic, perhaps later on they would believe it to be some sort of technology, but either way, Casey led Annabelle down an empty alleyway. He opened another portal, this time in the market district, where Annabelle could see stands selling fruits, vegetables, jewelry, gears and other trinkets. She was well familiar with the market district, having sometimes needed to come to get some part for an invention she was working on.

Jumping out of the portal, Annabelle could tell that a few months had seemingly passed, it was colder. If she had to hazard a guess she would place the time around late fall or early winter. Perhaps in time for the Solstice holiday that was celebrated every year by Albionites where loved ones would exchange gifts. Both she and Casey were stationed behind one of those carts, unnoticed as everyone in the area was transfixed on the man in the center of the square, his voice booming. From upper-class dressed in their fashionable suits and dresses to the lower classes, with only a pair of ripped pants to wear were there to hear Edgar’s speech.

“…With all this success I can offer new deals. Their bodies now come in different colors and feels like mahogany, lilac, and deep oaken red. Seven models to choose from to fit your dear dead…”

“He seems to be a good orator Annabelle observed as she looked around the crowd. He seemed to have the confidence that she lacked. Perhaps it skipped a generation, the ability to meet and get to know strangers without clamming up.

“I don’t see how this could lead to a civil war though?” She asked, “They are just dolls, it’s not like they’re going to do anything, right?” Annabelle observed as she spotted a doll on stage, barely doing anything but standing.

“Public opinion is very strong, it’s like an ocean tide, at one instant high tide then the next moment low tide,” Casey explained. “Just because people like the dolls now won’t mean they will continue to be loved.”

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“They even can broadcast your favorite radio station! Country music, classical, even opera if you ask nicely enough.” Edgar talked on, he had nearly memorized his spiel he had to give with enough ingenuity to mix it up a little every day so that potential customers would not become bored. In a few weeks’ time he could start on his plan to get Fay back, he just needed to get that Weasel: Silof. Wait! What was that in the corner of his eye, that red hair, was that Annabelle.

“So, don’t wait, come to Edgar’s Emporium today!” He said, ending his speech earlier than expected. Normally, he’d stick around so patrons could ask questions or see if he could do any personal demonstrations but not today, he had to talk to his mother. He traversed his way to his mother, passing through the crowd. He called out once he got close enough.

“Mother? Is that you?”

He couldn’t keep the crack out of his voice, he swore he almost was going to call her mommy like when he was ten and ruin his perfectly curated image. Luckily, it that they were away from eavesdropping people, nobody seemed interested in him now, another seller was trying to get some attention.

Annabelle looked up, she was with that strange man again.

“I-I am not the same p-person you k-knew, Edgar.”

She was timid, strangely, and she spoke in riddles, which he had no time for.

“What’s that supposed to mean.” He spits out, angry, but at once he regretted.

“I-it means I time-traveled, Casey here wanted to stop me from creating the first doll. I’d suggest you st-stop your business.”
“Never. Seriously, I’m invested now, and I’m going to get Fay back.”

“I am sorry you had to deal with that.” Annabelle consoled, if anyone knew how Edgar felt it would be Annabelle, after all, she was fixated on Jasper, Edgar realized “I know sometimes it seems like the world is out to get you, but sometimes you got to l-look somewhere else. Don't focus on the past”

“No.” Edgar gritted his teeth. “You made a mistake when you moved on, I won’t let our family fall prey to the same mistake twice.”

“Then we are done.” Annabelle asserted as she nodded to Casey. Behind them, a circular portal opened and they stepped into it. Edgar was too stunned to follow, and he simply fell to his knees to wail. Even his own mom had rejected him. What cruel world was this? Then again, it wasn't his real mom, not one that had given birth to Edgar

In time Edgar, after he married Fay and had a child, Edgar would realize that Annabelle was right, a loveless marriage would do that to a man. He shouldn't have forced Fay into a marriage, and he should've ended the dolls. But before he had time to do anything, Fay's poisoning worked its job and sent Edgar to Elysium. Perhaps in his next life, he would do better.

Chapter Text

“We’re about a week out” The time-traveler concluded after looking at his M.C.G.

“From what?” The time-displaced steampunk scientist asked.
“The suicide, it’s the spark that lights the fires of martial-law. Because of Amelia’s suicide, everyone becomes scared of the dolls, wanting nothing to do with them.”

“It is starting to make sense why you wanted me to destroy those p-plans.” Annabella gestured around them, they were in the same park just a few days ago, but the engine of time has churned on. The trees were slightly older, the benches around were newer, as they must have been replaced between Edgar’s time and Byron’s time. Of course, the largest change to the park was that there were dolls some standing, precariously balanced so an easy push could send a doll crashing to the ground. Other dolls were laying on the ground, their owners must not have cared enough to position them upright or perhaps they just have fallen over, finally the remainder of the dolls were sitting down anywhere there was room: on the benches, against the trees, by the flowers. Clearly, the park was no longer used by Albionites as leisure areas, now it was just a slum for dolls.

“So we are back at the park only because I panicked and I just set it in for the last stored location—the park, twenty years in the future.” Casey apologized. “I wanted to get away from Edgar, more talking to him could have had complications.” He admitted.
After waiting for his partner,

“So, Edgar indeed got Fay back they wed, he offered to bring back her dad, I think you might know him, its the same one you brought back: Jasper.”

All Annabelle could do was groan, he apparently was the man who would not die. She uttered a silent apology to him if only she knew. She thought bitterly full of remorse. "He just is getting the short end of the stick, i-it s-seems."

“But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, but for now I figure we can take a trolley down to the green district, and meet the hottest new religion around, the Voodoopunks. They’re a lively bunch, and they’ll appear more on our journey. Plus, you’ll get to meet your grandson, Byron and his friend, Amelia! Luckily, though Edgar got to marry, he got poisoned by Fay so he had an early death, ”
“Are you sure that is a good idea? Look at what happened when we had our first confrontation, how we had to quickly get out of there?” The Ginger inquired, confused about the rules of time travel. They seemed inconsistent

“It’ll be fine, we’re far enough removed that no one should recognize you.”

“If you say so.” Annabelle acquiesced, who was she to question the expert on time travel here.

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Jackie did her best to enjoy the party, dancing with Dorothy, partying Amelia and her other friends at the nightclub. A modern café The Beehive popped up about thirteen years or so. First, the Beehive served as a popular hangout for University students as they met with friends, discussed philosophy and had lively debates, then it started to change when Byron and other founding members of the Voodoopunks started to take their dolls to the establishment. But Jackie felt as if something was not right, as if she were a coiled spring. It felt weird even to have these thoughts. Someone or something was messing with invisible forces, it seemed. The pinnacle of all the uneasiness seemed to focus on the new couple. If she didn’t know already she would swear that the girl seemed to be Byron’s cousin or another family member. They just looked too similar. She did her best to bury all those negative feelings as she ordered some wine, its alcohol doing its best to wash away the uneasiness as she walked over to Dorothy. However, she knew she would never forget the face of Byron’s doppelganger.

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“You’re doing just fine Annabelle. See you were just nervous. Just move to the music” Casey praised, trying to ease the tension of Annabelle. He had to use most of his charisma to bring her in here. Even then, he had to appeal to her curiosity as a scientist promising that the Voodoopunks would bring about a tech-boom as they discovered one invention after another. Early holograms, ray guns, proto-tablets, and of course the most-dreaded door to Elysium. Both of them were moving to the fast-moving music, it reminded him of rock-concerts back in the future where everyone would dance in the mosh-pit. The first rockers apparently were the Voodoopunks. They were, after all, just a bunch of teenagers looking to have a good time.

“If we talk so you didn’t focus on the dancing, it’ll help you, I promise. You can ask me whatever you want. I’m an open book.”
Casey recognized the look Annabelle gave, the look she got whenever she was busy solving a problem or parsing out a solution. He could practically see the gears in her head turn.

Ah, it was only a matter of time until she would ask that, he knew. No time like the present he figured.

“The device is actually a combination of me and my friend’s work. I worked on the programming of it so that it could form a time portal, while my friend Zander worked on getting it to power on. His specialty is more on the biology side of things though. Now that I’m thinking about it, you two are remarkably similar, both are a scientist involved in the study of living and death, both of you had harsh upbringings and both of you got kicked out of the university.”
He gave a chuckle, perhaps he’d have them meet after this was all over. If they both had incredible minds, imagine what would happen if worked together. Then again it might be too much for New Albion to handle.

“It's just goes to show that in order to make an omelet you have to crack a few eggs, and in order to become known as an important scientist you gotta get kicked out of school.”

With that comment, Annabelle gave a small chuckle and a huge grin. How Casey wished he could make Annabelle always smile like that.

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Jasper was confused. Or at least he thought he was confused, all his emotions were dulled since becoming a doll so long ago. The red-haired girl that was dancing with the young man. It looked so much like Annabelle. But she was dead, he knew that. Over the year’s he’s gotten more used to his ability to broadcast radio waves and he employed this ability now. “We. To. Red. Hair. Girl.” He said, as the words came out mixed and matched from different radio programs. Beside him, his owner Byron jumped up as if he was just shocked from an electric chair.

“He speaks!” Byron ignoring the transmission announced astonished, this was the first time he’s heard his beloved Jasper speak. What was different about tonight, could he replicate it?

Again, Jasper repeated his command from earlier “We. To. Red. Hair. Girl.” This time, Byron managed to understand this time, scanning the dancing crowd for a ginger haired girl.

Jasper realizing that is grandson was having some difficulty lifted motorized arm towards Annabelle, who was sitting near the bar.

“Oh” Byron muttered, did Jasper know this girl. Deciding to not dwell too much on it, he helped Jasper over to the bar. Good thing that certain doll improvements made in the later years made dolls easier to carry.

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Annabelle was exhausted, not just physically but emotionally as well. She never did during prolonged moments in crowds. That was why she always tried to cut across alleys and take back routes to places she was going, even if it was the long way to get to a certain destination. The sacrifices she’d did to ease her fears and anxieties. Casey was sitting on the bar stool next to her, and both were listening to a story told by one of the Voodoopunks. Something about how one of the Voodoopunks, Lisa pulled a prank on their neighbors when she was younger, exploding frogs. Annabelle looked down to the drink in her hand momentarily, looking back up. Right in front of her was a Jasper and her grandson Byron. She gulped, she’d have to do a lot of explaining to Jasper and she hoped her grandson didn’t ruin it.

“Annabelle. That. You?” Jasper played from the Radio, it was a wonder where Jasper managed to get a sound clip of Annabelle.
Annabelle solemnly nodded her head.

“Yes, it’s u-uh me,” Annabelle replied, her regret in full force. “I know I this to you before, or I hope I did but I’m sorry. I didn’t realize what I was doing.”
Jasper could not blame Annabelle, sure sometimes he was angry but he came to realize when he was silently passing time that he would have brought Fay or Julie if given the chance.

“All. Is. Forgiven.” He compiled his. Annabelle looked relieved, a small weight being relieved.

Meanwhile, between this conversation Byron was confused, it seemed that this girl Annabelle as Jasper called her did something to Jasper and was waiting to apologize. He thought he heard his mom, talk about an Annabelle, perhaps this was a spirit that had come thanks to their voodoo? Although she certainly did not seem like a spirit, he would have to ask Amelia about it. Maybe she knew, or maybe the Baron could explain to them what phenomena they were experiencing.

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Casey mentally prepared himself, no more fun and games he reminded himself. While everything before this night might have been good at showing Annabelle the effects of bringing Jasper back, he remained vigilant. Before two weeks, Casey and Annabelle would be entering one of the most dangerous times in New Albion’s history. The dark ages, starting with the bonfire of the dolls and ending with the battle on Crier’s boulevard almost 40 years later. He was dreading having to show Annabelle what was about to come, yet he knew he had to go on for the success of his mission.