The White Rose of Fiorazzurro
Chapter 21 (or, "Reunion")
"Dvorak Romanov is one of our greatest enemies, and the kicker is that he shouldn't be," Sarah continued from where she was standing. "He should be assisting us in our job, but all he does is get in the way, and nobody at QWERTY knows why. Good to see you, Rifka. I was worried there for a bit that limbo would have swallowed you, but you made it here okay."
"Who's the hot lady?" Collodi asked, looking over Sarah's transition to Fiorazzurro: curled hair, a high necklined white dress with an elaborate black corset, black boots and a choker with an apple symbol on it.
"The hot lady is our boss, Sarah Dealey," Jason chided. "If she's here, then this is really big business."
"Oh, I'm lucky to be here, really. The last time Dvorak really messed with you guys, he had already melted reality in such a way that I couldn't jump to it. Remember Tokyo on 928-A?"
Tama cringed. Of course he did. Erika was still in a coma at headquarters because of it.
"So wait." Calimero piped up. "You're able to travel through space and time with those devices?"
"We are interdimensional jumpers, not time travelers. If we were time travelers, we would have to deal with paradoxes, and nobody likes paradoxes. Best leave those up to experts. There's an entirely different organization based on some alien planet that deals with those. Llorin tried to keep in contact with them once, but they kept changing appearances. Hardest thing ever." Sarah stood by the rest of the group. "I know where Rosa is, by the way, but I have more to tell you first. Don't let me forget."
"People of Fiorazzurro, I understand that you have been going through some trials and tribulations. Five years ago, Queen Cendrillon took over after Prince Lu'kilio'laika perished in the great plague. Since then, people of magic have been prejudiced against, resulting in the faerie population being relocated to Gallathia. I know these things because I have done my research from afar. I know both this world and the world Merlin traveled to long ago, inside and out. I am the one who makes decisions. And I am the one who helps decide what should stay and what should go in a merge.
"As I'm sure Rifka has mentioned, your world is merging with the world Merlin traveled to. In order to prevent these worlds from colliding at random, we choose guardians for each world. I originally sent the Dealey Five -- these four operatives plus one more -- to Merlin's world to find a guardian there. However, because of circumstances beyond my control, Rifka was sent here instead. On top of that, a guardian was never chosen for Merlin's world because our enemy, Dvorak, decided he was going to be the guardian instead."
Rifka gaped. "That monster!"
"We were in world A for seven days, trying to make contact with a guardian," Tama told the others. "The entire time, we tried to look for Rifka and received clues from the people living there on where to find her. However, they turned out to be manipulated by Dvorak, and we found him instead. We escaped world A and went back to headquarters, where Sarah sent us to world B -- and just in time, as well."
"Guys." Rifka tried her best to interrupt politely. "Dvorak came to see me in this world. He said that I could join with him and save this world, or go against him and he would destroy everything. If he was the guardian of the other world, why would he want me to help him save this one? It's not making any sense."
"Dvorak's not supposed to make sense," Jason said, snapping one of his suspenders.
"It's clear now that he's giving mixed signals." Sarah picked Calimero out from among the crowd. "Mr. Pineiro, I got your profile from Rifka. I'm glad that you're able to work with us."
"He is creating a potion that will help all of us defeat Cendrillon," Daisy mentioned. "Do you think this potion will help us defeat this Dvorak, as well?"
"I do believe so," Sarah said. "We should test it, though. Let us stage the attack on Cendrillon before merge date, Dealey Five...err, Four at the moment. That way, we'll see how the potion fares against Cendrillon and see if it can work against Dvorak. As long as he doesn't come around -- and, let's be honest, he probably will -- we can use that as a test, and then hopefully force him out of both realities long enough to merge the two realities. Rifka, since you know Calimero the best, I'll leave that portion of the assignment to you."
Rifka saluted. "Roger."
"I have temporarily coded Dvorak out of world B," Jen noted. "Courtesy of Jason's boombox."
Sarah gave a rare smile. "I knew that piece of junk would help with something. Tomorrow is a rest day in your culture, is it not?"
Calimero snapped his fingers. "Another Traders Market! I am so not prepared."
"We can use the relaxation day as a way to spring an attack on Cendrillon." Daisy grinned. "This will be perfect. I can't believe this is finally happening!"
"Miss Margherita, I will task you will passing that message on to your subordinates whom use magic here in this world," Sarah said. "Now, Dealey Four, about Rosa...there is something I should tell you. Dvorak has exploited a loophole in the reality continuum. Have I mentioned to any of you what a dopplegangar is?"
Rifka had never heard of that before. "What is that?"
"There are countless different realities in existence, and many of the worlds are similar in build. At the beginning of existence, there was one world, and that one world's destiny is similar to the ones that have been built over time. This is why so many of the universes are similar. You noticed this because there were similarities between your world and the one Carissa Lopez inhabited. There were small differences, such as the Empire State Building still existing in the newly made reality, but overall you can understand that reality. It was the same with 928-A's Tokyo, and the same here in 1027's Fiorazzurro. The world I originally came from was similar, as well.
"Many worlds are related in that sense. There are other divisions of QWERTY that deal with worlds that are different. Mick, for example, comes from a reality similar to ours, but an entirely different planet. Other versions of your worlds are so different that you would lose your way in an instant, so other QWERTY operatives who come from similar worlds handle those. Still, each reality is connected by an original destiny. And as the builds of those worlds are similar, so are the inhabitants. There is some variation, but if you look at worlds side by side, you'll see there are similar people. These are dopplegangars. You know Isabel Gonzalez."
Rifka smiled. Isabel was one of their mentors. "We do! How is she?"
"Busy with her own assignments at the moment, but she says hi. Isabel's world collided with another, and she was caught in the crossfire, becoming a member of QWERTY. In the world that resulted, she was replaced by her dopplegangar, Isabelle Plotnikov. Dopplegangars are people with identical destiny makeup, though their physical DNA may be wildly different. Dopplegangars are not supposed to meet, as their meeting could cause a paradox. This is especially true with dopplegangars whose worlds are merging. These are referred to as direct dopplegangars, and they should never meet."
"But our world isn't merging," Tama noted. "What does this have to do with Rosa?"
Sarah took a deep breath. "Calimero Pineiro, the guardian Rifka picked, is one of Rosa's dopplegangars. They are different enough that they can meet, but Dvorak is exploiting something with it. He somehow knew that Rosa and Calimero were dopplegangars before you guys arrived here. When Rosa tried to jump, she activated the dopplegangar cause. She should have been able to land normally, but her being Calimero's dopplegangar kept her from making the jump. My guess is that Dvorak might have already put her in limbo. Tama, are you getting a signal from her communicator?"
"I am," Tama said, showing Sarah the screen. "I was wondering about that myself, but she's still active. I've tried to message her, but no reply."
"It may have only interrupted her GPS coordinates. In that case, we should be able to find her. Jen, can you build a GPS map from her location?"
"On it already." Jen was staring at his screen, typing furiously with his thumbs.
Rifka turned to Calimero and the others. She was caught in the middle, a member of the Dealey Five wanting to protect her friend Rosa and complete her mission...but at the same time, wanting to help her new friends defeat Queen Cendrillon and save their world. This had not been supposed to happen. She had been supposed to stay Milaya, stay neutral...but the moment Dvorak inserted himself into this universe's destiny, it had become personal.
Calimero took her by the shoulder. "Are you going to be okay?"
"Yes. Maybe." Rifka leaned on him. "Reality is merging. Things are disappearing. We need to make that potion."