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Sidra, Glacia, Sometime in THE FUTURE and a universe over, and Sunday evening Fandom Time
So, to sum up, as the guy in Princess Bride said: Everyone? Alive. Future Raven? Not-Evil'd. Future Karla & Warren? Rescued. Very unhappy. Rookie? Thrilled. Fandom Karla, Raven, and Dinah? Wiped out, mentally and emotionally. Time to rest.




Dinah
Karla needed to know a few things that Dinah's Karla didn't. And maybe if she could say things early, she wouldn't rip into Raven as much?

Well. It was a theory.

Carefully, she knocked on the study door. "It's Dinah. If you're up for talking."

Karla, Queen of Glacia
Karla's first instinct was to tell her to go. If it had been either of the others, she might have done so. But this girl was neither the vibrant, careless version of herself or the timid reminder of a friend who'd betrayed her so deeply, and so she wiped at her eyes and called, "Come in."

Dinah
Dinah came in and carefully shut the door behind her, and then stood there, stricken, as she saw Karla's face. "It's a bad time. I can come back. Or write a letter." Jeez, what was she thinking? "I'm... I'm sorry." And started fumbling for the doorknob again.

Because she wanted to hug Karla, but this wasn't her Karla, and she got the feeling that this one would bite her if she tried.

Karla
Karla did have a propensity for that, didn't she? Some things never changed. "It's fine, Dinah," she said, waving the girl away from the door. "Just a bit of delayed reaction from...everything."

In all honesty, it hurt to look at this Dinah, too, seeing her so protective of Raven, of her younger self. It was stupid, she knew, to feel this way. Dinah was being the best friend she could to her friends. But this Dinah just made Karla miss her Dinah, the Dinah who would understand why she was this way instead of looking at her with what Karla fancied was disappointment in her eyes.

"I assume you wanted to see me about something important," she continued, settling back in her wheeled chair. "It doesn't seem likely you would come and visit for a social call."

Dinah
"It's not a social thing, I promise. I wouldn't do that right now." Dinah's voice softened, now that they were away from everything making this Karla snarly, and she sat down, biting her lip, not sure where to start. "It's-- did Jaenelle tell you what was happening? In Terreille, before you left?" She kind of got the feeling she hadn't, but wasn't sure.

Karla
"You mean like how they're at war with us?" Karla asked. She glanced down at her desk, expression filled with grief. Morton... "Kind of hard to miss. They're using Glacia as their staging grounds, in conjunction with the coup that put me in this chair."

Dinah
"I'm sorry about Morton," she'd been thinking it, hadn't wanted to bring it up, but it came blurting out anyway. "I'm not-- I haven't told Karla. She doesn't know. I don't know when to tell her, or if, but..." She looked at this Karla, still red-eyed, and reached for her hand, shields up. Careful. So careful.

Crap, there was so much stuff. What had she been saying? "Jaenelle told me, a little, and told me to go find you. Because there wasn't anybody else, and, uh." Dinah swallowed. "Things were about to get worse."

Karla
Karla just looked at Dinah's hand for a moment--and then grasped it fiercely, tears springing once more into her eyes. Simple, human comfort. Karla was almost surprised at how much she needed it.

"Don't tell her," Karla ground out. As much as she resented her younger self, this was not a weapon she would use. "Not until you have to. If you can save him. But...not until then. It will kill her."

Sometimes Karla thought it would still kill her. It was even worse here, in the estate. She kept expecting him around every corner. His rooms still felt like him.

Dinah
"I promise," Dinah whispered. How much would it hurt, if Karla knew, and couldn't save him anyway? She had to tell someone, but it wasn't going to be her. Not until it was inevitable, and God, let it not be, let Morton never be in this much danger. She squeezed Karla's fingers. It had hurt, she realized, to have this Karla so angry with them, to see her lashing out at both Ravens, to see her and Warren so... shredded. And not be able to help. Not enough. She'd thought fixing their Raven would do it. But that had been naive, hadn't it?

She swallowed. "Jaenelle's going to launch an attach against Terreille. Soon. You and Rook, you have to be ready. Shielded. Protected."

Karla
It had been. There was no magic fix for ten years of cat-and-mouse, of betrayal, of worry that she would come and take their daughter away. There was nothing that would fix that, save time.

If even that could. Some wounds were too deep to heal. Karla wasn't sure if these were yet.

But that was nothing compared to what else Dinah was saying. So much going on, so much falling apart. Raven had been defeated (or Healed or whatever) and they couldn't even enjoy the respite because Terreille was invade and slaughtering whole villages, Morton was dead, and Jaenelle was going to attack an entire Realm by herself.

"Hell's fire and Mother Night," she swore, bringing her other hand up to massage her neck. "Did she give you any kind of details?"

Dinah
She almost didn't want to tell Karla, not when she needed to eat and rest and heal, but Dinah had no idea when it would start. So. "It'll be like Agio," she said, her voice tight. "It's not Kaeleer going to war. It's her, being Witch. Something about a -- corruption, a taint. Everywhere. She's going to wipe them out."

It still made Dinah a little sick to think about it. Then to think of the backlash to Ben, to Tara, to Raven, to everyone mildly sensitive; the taste she'd gotten of all the jhinka dying, multiplied by magic and a thousand times more people....

Karla
"You're joking," Karla said in a whisper. "No, she can't. Doesn't she realize? Doesn't she understand?"

Karla looked up at Dinah, horrified. "If Jaenelle unleashes the full power of her Jewels...she'll die. There's no way she could survive the backlash!"

...That was probably not what Dinah expected Karla to be protesting.

Dinah
Dinah stared, shocked speechless. "She didn't say anything-- are you sure?" she asked, horrified. Oh, no. Oh no no no, not this on top of Karla losing Morton, and everything her family had been through.

Karla
"We've barely seen Jaenelle in days," Karla said, a trace of familiar bitterness in her voice. "And of those days I was in the Keep, most of them were spent recuperating. Even if she told every other boyo and member of the coven in the Keep, I doubt I would have heard."

Dinah
"She couldn't have told them." Well, maybe, but. "Karla. Lucivar and Saetan were prisoners. I didn't tell my Karla that either. But. That's why she sent us, I think." Dinah tried to laugh, but it came out ragged. "Nobody else she could spare, and well, we were spare versions of you guys."

Karla
Karla just gaped at Dinah. And then gaped some more. "You've got to be joking," she said in a ragged whisper that said she didn't think that was true at all but would really appreciate it if Dinah said she was anyway. "Those bitches have them? Both of them?"

Dinah
"I'm sorry," Dinah said, feeling wretched. Remembering what Lucivar had told her about his time in Terreille. "I'm so, so sorry. There was just no time. And the invasion, and..." She bit down on her lip, and said softly, "If we end up staying, I'll help. But. It's not up to us."

Karla
"I remember the whims of Fandom," Karla said, distractedly. "I never should have left! She might need me! Oh, Mother Night, Dinah, what the Hell did I run off for?"

She might have forgotten which Dinah she was talking to right then.

"I just needed to run, to get out of there. Everything reminded me of Morton and--I just had to go. And look where it got. Got all of us."

Dinah
Any temptation Dinah had had to defend her Karla's bullheaded-ness by pointing out this Karla's boneheaded-ness in running off drained away, and she reached on instinct to stroke her hair back. "You didn't make it worse. Except for yourself. Jaenelle would have told you, if she'd wanted you to know this. Too bad she didn't tell me not to."

And maybe made it worse indirectly for Rookie, yeah. Dinah kept her flinch at that thought internal, and let her hand fall away. "I'm sorry we took Rookie along. It was-- very, very stupid. I knew that as soon as we got there. I don't have any excuse."

Karla
Karla snorted. "Let me guess," she said, voice dry even as her eyes were damp. "My younger self started talking and by the time you realized she was full of shit, it was already too late."

She wiped her cheeks and shook her head. "It was incredibly stupid," Karla said bluntly. "You risked a nine year old girl and I know by this point you know how dangerous Raven can be when she wants to. How long ago was Azarath for you? A year? Eighteen months? You endangered my daughter, the one person in this world I need to protect above all others."

Her voice dropped and she looked down at the desk. There was no anger or accusation in her voice, just simple weariness. "I have never been so frightened as when I came up to Azarath and saw my Rook there with you."

Dinah
Dinah looked down, jaw set to keep back the tears, giving a jerky nod. "I didn't think it through. Rookie wanted to go, and I forgot how little she was until we got there and she acted like it was all some big game." It had crept up on her then, and hit her like a hammer when all the skull-faced thugs came out of the walls. Dinah had run away from home for the first time when she was ten. But Rookie wasn't her.

"I should have stopped them, but-- Raven and Karla both were saying it was okay, and I-- was stupid. Fandom thinking. That you can be someone's mom for a weekend, and it's the same as really being their mom." She wiped at her eyes fast, shaking her head, still mad at herself. "I didn't let anyone hurt her, I swear. And we'd told her to teleport back if I got hurt, but--" Who knew if Rookie would've done it. She'd disobeyed her parents to help her little moms and her Raven-Mom; if Dinah had gotten hurt when they were out hiding... it made her sick to think of it. "She saw me hurt Raven's guys. I hope it doesn't give her nightmares. God, Karla, I'm so, so sorry."

Karla
Karla's jaw tightened a bit, but she bit back her kneejerk comments. This Dinah was still just a girl, still so young.

"One day, when you've gotten Sin, you're going to look back on this conversation and kick yourself in the ass," she said instead, a bit of wry humor covering the asperity that wanted to be there.

"And as for nightmares..." Karla sighed. "That wasn't the first death Rook has seen. She ran in after I was poisoned and saw me dispatch the bitch that did this to me. And the males that came in to finish the job."

Just one more thing Karla had been unable to protect her from. Mother Night, how that list grew.

Dinah
Dinah hugged herself, and nodded, feeling like she deserved that. And yet, also knowing... Sin was different. Like her. She could never be as protected from the bad things as Karla had wanted Rook to be. But that didn't mean she wouldn't try. She listened to what Karla said, and frowned, looking up.

"Can you tell me her name? Or is that something I shouldn't know? And I'm not sorry we got you out of there, you know. And Warren. Or changed Raven back. Just how." She took a breath. "At least you have a shot at fixing things now. And you can maybe save... Della? That was her name, right?"

Karla
Sin was different, yes, but the idea that a single weekend could make someone a mother? Dinah would probably be very surprised by how quickly her opinion on that would change once she had a daughter of her own.

Karla considered Dinah's question for a long moment, then shook her head. "She was someone in my Court," she said. "Ambitious, jealous, bitter...but what turned her down this path might have been something of my own doing. Your friend--" it was easier to think of her like that "--will need to know that there are people in her Court willing to throw their lot in with--with the Terreillians."

Was she being stupid for not telling them Hobart was involved? Or was she leaving the field open to allow her younger self to make her own choices?

"But if I give you a name, I might be turning a possible threat into a definite."

Dinah
"Or overlooking a back-up threat," Dinah said, realizing it as Karla spoke. "She can't have been the one and only possible poisoner." She grimaced. "I'm... you have my sympathy for that. I don't get how anyone can seriously decide they'd like things how they are in Terreille, but I guess there's lots of crazy mean everywhere." She sighed, her shoulders slumping. God, this was exhausting, and she wasn't the one who'd been tortured, maimed, transformed, or had to deal with future versions of same. She looked at Karla again, her voice softening. "You should be resting. And eating. I should go."

Karla
"The only conspirator?" Karla asked. "No, you're right, it's not possible. But the only poisoner? Yes, she was that. Trust me." Karla's eyes narrowed. "I made very sure of that before I finished the kill."

Dinah
Things that would always bother Dinah, she suspected: having to kill enemies. Things that would never bother Karla, not the same way. She studied this Older Karla, and tried not to grieve. She was alive. Warren was alive. They knew what had happened now. This didn't have to be the future... but did it matter?

"Is there anything more I should do, before we leave?" She bit her lip. "And do you know... who should I tell all this? I can't tell younger you. Not yet. It wouldn't be fair."

Karla
Karla wanted to tell her to keep it to herself. But--this wasn't a burden that Dinah deserve to carry by herself. Not as young as she was. Not like this.

"One of the teachers on the island, perhaps?" she suggested after a moment's thought. "Anakin or Lady Ghanima. Ender or Leto for students. They know how to keep a secret." And wouldn't let their compassion override their good sense. "As for what you can do here..."

Her eyes hardened. "Keep her in your rooms. Don't let her wander. My head understands that she's not the same person. Yet. But there are too many years of pain to convince my heart."

Dinah
Dinah sighed, and nodded, feeling a little relieved. Because any of those people would see this tangle more clearly than she would. There had to be something she could tell Karla and Raven; the trick would be to figure out what, and when.

Then she stared at Karla, hurting that she couldn't even say Raven's name. "As much as I can. I don't think she wants to see you either, though." Too much shame, too much anger, too many overwhelming emotions. She got up, and headed for the door, then turned back. "Do me a favor? Call me. Other Me. She has to be going crazy by now with whatever she'd dreaming, if she couldn't get here yet. Let her know you're alive." And any other yelling that needed to be done, or fussing, could be left to her other self, who hopefully wouldn't make it here in time to kick Dinah's ass in person.

Karla
Karla hesitated. Not that she didn't want Dinah--her Dinah. She did, missing her friend with a ferocity that approached desperation. But Dinah was on an important mission and out of reach.

Choosing her words carefully, Karla said, "Older You is incommunicado, right now. She's on an extended trip. To Vietnam."

And Karla wasn't going to interrupt that for anything, even if she could. There was a little girl who needed rescuing. She came first.

Dinah
"Oh." Dinah didn't know whether to be relieved or worried; she'd been wondering why older Her wasn't there, because by now she had to know. But if she was undercover somewhere in another country... it had to be pretty important. She wasn't just blowing this off. And who knew if older Her even could leave without endangering herself or someone else.

Wait. Ten years. Vietnam. "North Vietnam?"

Karla
Karla just looked at Dinah and nodded. There was a slight softening to her expression, too. "You understand why I can't blame her for not being here, right? How could I, when I know what I would do to keep my daughter safe? Hopefully when she gets back, Glacia will be a safe place for her to bring Sin to visit."

Dinah
Dinah nodded, speechless. It was one thing to have the memories of passing around a picture of a teen-aged Sin at the Reunion weekend; it was another to know that she-- that another Dinah-- was off rescuing her right this minute. No wonder she hadn't showed up already. And oh, God, let this part not happen this way in their time. Let her be able to save Sin and be around to help Karla when she needed it. She swallowed back tears.

"Thank you for telling me... I wish there was something I could do. To help." But that was Julian's job, wasn't it? To help Warren and Karla and Rook pick up the pieces. "But. Anyway." She looked down, then forced a smile. "I'll get out of your hair. And-- I'm glad you're alive."

Karla
"You've already done enough," Karla said, and this time there was no underlying bite to her words. Almost...the slightest hint of gratitude, perhaps? "I'm glad to be home. With my family."

Her husband. Her daughter. Her Court.

"Good night, Dinah."

Dinah
"Good night, Karla." Dinah took a moment to memorize her face. "And good luck."

She left the room, hoping her Karla would never have to go through so much pain. Wishing she knew how to make it happen.


[ooc: NFI,NFB, OOC = <3. Preplayed with glacial_witch, and no warnings except for painful AU futures, and with much thanks for letting me in on this to the fellow players on this plot. Coded using whateverknight's coder. Follows this and all the other posts!]

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