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Somewhere in Raven's Crazy-Ass Netherverse Maze (a secret location), Saturday Night, Fandom Time

Cackling Skully
With Raven's attack, portals opened up around them and more of her skull-faced minions poured through.


He got punched in the teeth for his trouble, getting waaaay too close for that, and Dinah yelled back, "INSIDE VOICE! Or I'm gonna use my outdoor voice!" The followed it up with a hard kick to the groin.

Rook, roused to semi-wakefulness by the clamor and commotion around them, cried out and dodged away from the minion that had been screaming for her. That one was handily dispatched by Auntie Dinah, but Rook's dodge had put her awfully close to yet another one, who swiped at her with fingers like sharp claws.

Creepy Skully
"I will hand you over to the Mistress!" he crowed, lunging for her with glee. "Your destiny belongs here, with her! Come to us, little Rook! I'll pluck your feathers so you can never escape!"

This required more than TK to really deliver a beat-down. But kicking him in the throat would have to do. "I'm gonna push you into a dimensional void, if you do that again--" Time to fix this situation. She and Rookie needed to be elsewhere, not a target for a phalanx of psychos.

Dinah inhaled. Then aimed her scream at the ceiling above them. Arms around Rookie, ready to put up a shield of TK to keep them safe.


Rocks fell and many of the creatures died. Above them, there was light, a bright white light, that spilled through. It might trigger a memory for Dinah--she'd seen this quality of light before.

Dinah scooped up Rook, and said, "Get on my back, hon. Piggy-back time." As soon as Rookie looped her arms around Dinah's neck, she started air-walking upward, one careful step at a time, out of the grasp of the one or two minions who managed to stagger after them.

Up, and up, farther and farther... nearly at the surface...!

"You're not leaving the party so soon, are you?" one howled after her. He and his compatriot began scrabbling up behind them. They couldn't airwalk, but they could climb the tunnel walls with frightening speed. "Don't you know it always goes worse if you make us have to chaaaaase you?"

"Climb off me, Rookie," Dinah said in a tight voice, rolling over the edge, then turning back as fast as she could.

"Boys? This party is invite-only." And she slammed her TK into their hands and faces, knowing what was going to happen next. Even though it made her sick. For Rookie.

Rook scrambled off with alacrity, looking around. Other than a tall temple not too far away, they appeared to be on a giant rock, floating through an endless white light.

"Where are we?" she asked, turning to Dinah. Just in time to see watch blood spray upwards and the creatures begin to fall to their death.

"Don't look!" She should have been saying that all along, Dinah realized, and reached over to cover Rook's eyes, before her fingers dropped away. "I'm sorry, Rookie..." And then stopped.

Partly in shock at where they were. She sat back on her heels, staring around them. Icy white temple columns, fallen into ruins. Stars above them shining in nebulae. Hills covered in crystal. "Azarath."

"It is all right, Auntie Dinah," Rook said quietly. "They were evil. I could feel it. Hungry--like they wanted to eat the whole world just because it was there."

Her voice was calm, even detached, but she couldn't stop shivering, even though she wasn't cold. And she couldn't stop staring at where they'd fallen.

Not until Dinah said Azarath. That was enough to bring Rook's attention back to their surroundings. "Azarath?" she asked. "That sounds familiar. This whole place feels familiar. But I am certain I have never been here."

Dinah drew her close, hugging her for reassurance and warmth, and said softly, "This is where your mom grew up. It was-- it was beautiful, the first time I saw it. Quiet. A little too peaceful..." Was this the older Raven's way of reassuring herself, building her home on the ruins of the old? Or some scary, skeezy mockery? "She didn't do this. It fell to pieces when we destroyed her father." She took Rook's hand, and started leading her away from the hole. "C'mon. We have to stay hidden long enough for Karla to find your Maman, and Raven to kick your Mom's ass." And for the bad guys to get lost, so she wouldn't have to kill in front of her niece-to-be again.

"Do you think more of those things will find us?" Rook asked. In Dinah's arms, her shuddering ceased, though her eyes were still drawn to the hole they had left behind. "You have to fight a lot for my Maman and for...that Raven, is that not true? I am sorry, Auntie Dinah, that you have to fight for me, too."

"I'm not sorry, sweetie." Dinah gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. It had been easy to love her own future-kids, seeing parts of herself in them. It was weird and heart-tugging how easy it was to feel the same way about Raven and Karla's little girl. "And I like fighting. I don't like hurting people so much, but I like keeping people safe. One just goes with the other. You're worth it." She took a breath. "I don't know what they've got going for them, but they might find us. C'mon."

Over the landscape, tumbled crystal and darkened marble, and the cool stars turning above it all, unchanging. "Your grandmother lived here. Your mom lived here before she came to Fandom." Would anyone have told her these stories?

"I had a grandmother?" Rook asked, her hand tucked securely into Dinah's. She kept glancing around, trying to take everything in. "I know that Maman's parents died when she was little, and Stepfather does not like to speak of his father, but I did not know Mother..."

She had heard her Maman and Stepfather speak of Trigon, but she had never thought of her mother having a mother. Had Mother been rocked to sleep? Been fussed over and kissed and been shooed outside to play? Or had Mother done something awful to the other female who had loved her, too?

"Did you know her?"

"I met her a few times." Dinah sighed, thinking of her. "Her name was Arella." She stopped on an overlook, the main square below them, shattered steps leading down to an open space. "She got involved with your grandfather's cult, and then realized what a mistake it was. She ran away from him, to here. Azar and her people took her in to protect her and your mom." She took Rookie's hand. Then smiled, and brushed Rook's hair out of her face. Dinah had grown up not knowing her father, not knowing why her mom had left her; she thought, maybe, she could guess how Rook felt about Raven, sometimes.

"You have her eyes. She was very, very brave. She loved your Mom, but was always scared to show her. She and Azar thought your grandfather would find them if your mom felt too much. Your mom... grew up wishing for someone to love her." She started to lead Rook around the edges of the square, remembering the library where she and Raven had first met Arella. "I think I know a place for us to hide."

Rook followed along willingly, occasionally tripping over stones and broken columns and things as she looked around, taking in the ruins with a sense of wonder--and unease. That unease only grew when she stepped on something that crunched beneath her foot and that something turned out to be a human skull.

"What happened here?" she asked, hardly daring to speak above a whisper. "You said you defeated Mother's father here? He was a demon, yes?"

"Yes. Trigon the Terrible. Eater of worlds." And shut up now, don't give the little kid worse nightmares than she'd already have after this. Dinah looked down at the old, old bones, and said softly, "Everyone here willingly died to defeat him. They gave their souls to overwhelm him. So did Raven. Your mom and the younger one I know both did. Remember that, when you think of how terrible she is. She stood up to her dad, the worst bad guy in a ton of worlds. Once upon a time, she was a hero." Even more softly she said, "We were lucky to get her back. We didn't think we would."

"Why would you have not gotten her back?" Rook asked. It was hard to think of the girl in the stories as Mother. She could picture the Raven from Fandom standing here, shouting defiance up at her father, but her mother...she would probably have joined him and reveled in their pain.

"I wish I knew what happened to turn Raven into Mother," she said sadly. "Perhaps we could help her if we knew. Or, at least, keep your Raven from her fate."

Her shoulders slumped a little. "Teeny-Maman does not want me. She says that this is not her future."

"Hey hey hey." Dinah stopped and knelt down in front of Rookie, putting her hands on both sides of her face. "That is not about you. Okay? She thinks you're awesome. But we can't wish for our Raven to turn crazy. As much as she'd love to have you, we can't wish that on her." She let out a slow breath. And let Rookie feel how much she already loved her, and how certain she was. "Maybe that's another reason we're here. And if your Teeny-Maman and me and your Raven-Mom can figure it out, then that's because you were brave and smart and came and got us. So you'll have saved one version of your Raven-Mom." Her throat tried to close, so she said fiercely. "We love you. And we'll always love you, even if you don't come true in our world." She paused. "And maybe you still will. Just... without all the badness."

You never knew.

Rook launched herself forward, hugging Dinah tightly. "You will not forget me, will you?" she sniffled into Dinah's neck. "If I do not come true in your world?"

She knew she should not wish for the good Raven to become evil and crazy like her Mother and for Teeny-Maman and Tiny-Stepfather to have to go through everything her Maman and Stepfather had. At the same time, she couldn't help being jealous of the Kayla and Nommy she had met back in Fandom--the pretty, winged children that her Stepfather dreamed of even now.

But was it really so wrong to wish that your existence did not mean something horrible for everyone?

"Oh, honey. I couldn't even if I tried." Dinah's arms closed around her in a hug, and she rocked Rook, humming under her breath after a second. A song from a zillion years ago, that Pam had sung to her before she failed Dinah so badly.

After a minute, she pulled back, and grinned at Rook. "C'mon. Hiding time."

And for the part of the library she was thinking of, they'd have the advantage.

Turning trusting eyes upward, Rook nodded. "And we will hide there until Maman says it is all right to come out," she said, keeping close to Dinah as they made their way towards the ruins of yet another building. "Will you tell me more stories while we hide?"

"Of course! Big Me is falling down on the job, if she didn't tell you some of these." But Big Dinah probably had a lot of grief about how her Raven turned out too; and didn't want to upset her Warren and Karla. Well. Dinah could apologize for that later; Rookie needed to know. "Let me tell you about the time that your Raven-Mommy helped save me from a bad, bad Shiva...."

Squeezing the little girl's hand, she quickly moved over the barren city-scape, and toward the hidey-holes of the library.

They settled in out of sight, on top of the tallest book shelves, and Dinah split a power bar and her water with Rook as she told her every good story about her parents she could think of, waiting for a sign. Because with Raven battling Raven, you know there had to be one.

[ooc: Preplayed with the lovely glacial_witch, following this, warnings for violence, creeeepiness, and small child in danger factor; coded with whateverknight's super preplay coder!]