Disclaimer: I don't own. If I did, the comics would still be running. (And the stories wouldn't have drifted so much)
AN: Yes, I know that I published Volume 1 of this series back in 2008, but thanks to Lexvan and nightmaster000 the plot bunny has leapt into action. Special thanks go to XV and Nikly for their help with Miranda's clothes.
AN2: Special apologies to nightmaster000, for whom I promised that this would be up much sooner.
"Hold still," Hay Lin commanded as she measured Miranda's height and Miranda growled slightly.
"Is there a purpose to all this…this posturing and playing around?" she asked angrily and Irma snorted.
"I imagine having everyone notice you MIGHT be a BIT difficult for us to remain, you know, secret," Irma pointed out and Miranda raised an eyebrow.
"Why should I care about such little details? I'm going back through the next portal anyway," she pointed out and Irma smirked.
"Hey, trust me. You don't want to upset little Hay-Hay, do you?" Irma asked with a smirk. "She's so happy at having a live dressing up doll to play with. Would you want to distress that face?"
Miranda gave Irma a withering look and Irma smirked even more.
"Don't mind water-brain here, she seems to labour under the delusion that she's actually funny," Cornelia drawled and Irma stuck her tongue out.
"Corny just doesn't have a sense of humour underneath all that make-up," Irma shot back. "Good thing I'm here."
Miranda mentally rolled her eyes and began making plans to escape the Guardians. If this was anything to go by, the people on Earth were crazy. Especially the bouncy guardian who was dressing her. She was the craziest of all.
"There! You're all ready to go out into the world now!" Hay Lin exclaimed happily as she admired her handiwork. Miranda looked at her clothing with a look of distaste. It was…well different anyway. Different from what Miranda would have chosen certainly. And different from anything Miranda had ever worn before for sure.
Her top was a long-sleeved midriff-baring red top while her dark purple skirt was loose fitting and ended just above her knees. It made her feel…exposed.
"Are you sure this is…normal?" she asked dubiously as she stared at her exposed stomach and Hay Lin chuckled.
"Of course it is silly! Remember, you have to fit in here!" she said and Miranda rolled her eyes.
"Do I have to?" she asked plaintively and Irma laughed.
"Oh yes," Yan Lin said with a twinkle in her eye. "You yourself said that the heir to Meridian's throne is supposed to be on Earth. And as you're here, you may as well search amongst those likely to be the heir."
"We've even sorted out the paperwork for you," Yan Lin continued. "You can actually fit into the group more easily and my granddaughter will be there to help you."
"Do I HAVE to wear these clothes though?" Miranda asked dubiously and Hay Lin suddenly pulled her arm around Miranda so hard, she stumbled slightly.
"Hey, we've got so much in common, I'm sure we'll get on great!" she said excitedly, her eyes dancing with a wild enthusiasm that actually scared Miranda.
"Yeah, we're all top of the menu for a giant snake," Irma added sardonically. "What more could we want?"
Miranda rolled her eyes again. Yes, the Earthlings were definitely crazy.
Caleb was thrown violently at the feet of Prince Phobos, who stood there with a wicked smile on his face.
"Good evening young rebel," Phobos said calmly. "I believe you have something you want to talk about with me."
"Fuck you Phobos!" Caleb spat angrily and he was bodily lifted off of the ground by a clutch of vines rising from the floor.
"You will learn respect young rebel or I will make you learn respect," Phobos growled angrily. "Now I am going to ask you a question and I want you to give me the answer I want. Where are the rebels based?"
"You'll never find them Phobos!" Caleb spat angrily. Phobos waved his hand and the vines suddenly squeezed Caleb.
"You are going to tell me, or-"
"Or what Phobos?" Caleb cut in and Phobos glared. "You can't make me talk!"
"My Prince, I was chasing another rebel when I captured this one. I believe that she would be easy to break," Cedric suggested and Phobos raised an eyebrow.
"And why did you then fail to capture this female?" he asked and Cedric bowed his head.
"Forgive me my liege; I was intercepted by the Guardian's. New ones I believe, for they were young girls and not old women," Cedric replied and Phobos scowled. With a quick wave of his hand, Caleb was sent flying to hit the wall opposite with a thump.
"The girl is irrelevant for now!" Phobos snapped angrily. "Take him to the dungeons and leave him there." He clasped his hands together as he summoned up his magic. "We have more important things to worry about."
"With a rebel in their midst, she will no doubt bring the two factions closer. Now take this peasant to the dungeons!" Phobos snapped, giving Caleb a kick. Quickly signalling the lurden guards, Caleb was dragged away.
"I'd be thinking about changing sides if I were you," Caleb said as they left the Throne room. "Now that we're with the Guardian's, you're in for some painful defeats. They're probably planning something especially devastating right now."
Miranda looked dubiously at the building that stood in front of her. Although she had seen more impressive buildings in the short amount of time she had spent on Earth and in Meridian, this one still gave her a sense of dread.
"Remind me what this building is called again?" she asked nervously and Irma chuckled.
"This is the place where you abandon hope the moment you step through the doors," she said in a low voice. "Where you are tortured by the dark powers of math and history," she wiggled her fingers for added effect, before continuing. "In these walls, you will find new forms of inedible life known otherwise as the school lunch. And the-"
"Irma sweet-cheeks! Hello there!" a boy called over to them and Irma frowned.
"And then there's the worst of them all. Martin," she said, before making a dash for the gates of the building as said boy appeared.
"It's not that bad," Taranee said with an exasperated look in the general direction Irma had gone. "It's our school."
"Urgh, school," huffed Cornelia. "It's such a drag."
"It's not that bad," Taranee replied nonchantly. "We'll just tell our teachers that your old school was behind with the syllabus. Oh and don't mention magic or the veil."
"Duh, nobody knows about our role as Guardians," Cornelia said as she rolled her eyes contemptuously. Miranda glared.
"How was I supposed to know? I'm not even FROM this world!" she snapped back loudly and suddenly several people turned to look at her
"It's just a role-playing game everybody!" Hay Lin called out cheerily and a look of disgust crossed Cornelia's face.
"Great. Now everyone thinks we're geeks as well," she said with a huff. "Thanks Hay Lin."
"So what exactly am I supposed to do now?" Mirada asked sharply, cutting off Hay Lin before she could say anything. Will sighed.
"Now we're going to take you to the Principal's office for induction. You get shown to your class and try to blend in," she said in an almost exasperated tone. "Stick with us and you should fit in just fine."
"Of course," Miranda said as she mentally made a note to herself to escape to Meridian as soon as possible. This was a waste of time in her opinion, time that could be better spent elsewhere, doing more useful things.
"Now the rebels have a contact with the Guardian's, we will need to act quickly," Phobos told Cedric grimly. "You must go to Earth and sever the link between the two. Eliminate the girl and discover who the new Guardian's are as quickly as possible."
"It shall be done my liege," Cedric replied bowing his head, a look of eagerness in his eyes. "Do you wish for me to bring back the girl rebel alive or not?" Phobos looked thoughtfully at Cedric.
"No. The rebels are unimportant without the Guardians. Sever the link and the rebels will fall in due course," he said firmly. "The boy will despair in time and we will soon know where to go."
"Yes my liege," Cedric replied, bowing his head. Then with a glow of green magic, he transformed into his human form and left.
There was something familiar about the girl, Cedric was sure of that. Something about her face that he recognised. The question was, precisely what was it that he recognised? It irritated him, gnawed at the back of his mind.
Then there was the issue of her being a shape shifter. Shape shifters, especially sentient shape shifters, were a rare species on Meridian. Accurate numbers had never been recorded but it was estimated that of all the sentient races in Meridian, shape shifters only represented a mere one percent of the population. They were hated, distrusted and hunted to the verge of extinction. The thought of a fellow shape shifter working for the rebels felt…out of place. Why would someone fight for a people who would normally try to kill them?
"So Miranda, where you from?" Alchemy asked curiously as they sat down to eat lunch together. Miranda, for her part would probably have sat on her own somewhere if she could get away with it, but Hay Lin and Irma had essentially grabbed her and dragged her to their table. It was quite off-putting really.
"I'm from Meri-" she abruptly stopped herself from saying Meridian. Even if it did let her escape from the clutches of the Guardian's, it would do her no good to keep them tied up on Earth. She mentally scrabbled about, trying to think of a name. Alchemy looked at her curiously and so did Elyon. Finally, she decided on a course of action. She faked a cough and looked at the girl.
"I'm from Meridian on the West Coast," she said, hoping that nobody would think to check to see whether it really existed. Like any good liar, Miranda knew that the best lies kept as close to the truth as possible. Unfortunately, the truth was somewhat more difficult to hide than usual.
"Yeah, she's staying with us after her parents died," Hay Lin added quickly. That was the official cover story for Miranda's presence and she was glad that Hay Lin remembered that. A look of shock and sympathy crossed Alchemy and Elyon's faces.
"Oh I'm so sorry," Alchemy said with regret. "I…didn't know."
There was a moment of awkward silence that Miranda used to concentrate on her food. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending who you asked) the silence was broken by the arrival of Cornelia, Will and Taranee.
"I'm sorry about what happened to your parents," Elyon said softly as she reached across the table and put her hand on Miranda's. "I really am."
Miranda thought back, back to when her step-family was murdered and decided to say nothing. Instead, she simply gripped her cutlery so hard that she could feel the metal begin to give way.
"Can you…excuse me for a moment please?" she asked and she quickly stood up. "I…there are things I…" she felt the sudden need to escape, feeling the tears that were threatening to break through. Without any further words, she left the table and quickly dashed into something Earthlings called a girls bathroom. (Although why they called it that, she didn't know. It wasn't like it contained a bath.) Gritting her teeth, she looked herself in the eye and forced her bubbling feelings down. They might not have been her biological parents, but they were the closest she ever had.
"Miranda? Are you okay?" she heard a familiar voice asked from outside the room and Miranda cleared her throat.
"I'm fine Elyon," she shouted back and she quickly ran a hand down her front. She still felt uncomfortable wearing these clothes, but she had to look the part. Standing tall, she walked out of the bathroom.
Cedric HATED coming to Earth. Every. Single. Time. It was so full of noise and rush. There was no deference due to his rank and class and everyone seemed to rush everywhere. It was nothing short of chaos, the type that had no right to exist. On a properly run world, the people would recognise him as their superior. He would transform and reveal his more dangerous snake form and they would acknowledge him and step aside.
But this was not Meridian and this was not a properly run world. Instead, he was left pretending to be one of these chaotic and pitiful creatures. To be so restricted, stuck forever in one form…it was unnatural. Suppressing a shudder, he continued walking.
"He's a cute one, isn't he?" a woman murmured to her friend as he passed, clearly unaware he could hear her. She was a pretty enough woman in her mid-twenties if he guessed correctly, with long blonde hair and a handful of freckles across her nose. He gave a mental chuckle. If he was in his greater form, she would no doubt think otherwise. Instead he simply concentrated on reaching his destination.
He wasn't sure that the person he was looking for actually went to this particular school. There were other schools in the area, schools further away from the portal he had come through last time he was here, but he doubted it.
Reaching his destination, he stepped into a newsagents shop and brought a paper. If there was one good thing about Earth, it was newspapers. On Meridian, there simply wasn't the means or the literacy rate to justify spreading news this way. Instead, town criers and word of mouth was the way most people heard the news they needed to hear. But on Earth, newspapers were an excellent way to hide your face and allow for some discrete observation.
As he sat down and made himself comfortable, he allowed his mind to wander back to the identity of the mysterious rebel girl. He was even surer than ever that he knew her or had at least known her. He made a point of knowing as much as possible about the shape shifter community as possible. Admittedly it was to serve his own ends and the ends of Phobos but he still was surprised that he couldn't recall where he had met this particular rebel before. Maybe his memory was playing tricks on him, or maybe she looked a lot like someone he actually knew.
And then there was the small matter of her transformation. Spider transformations were rare, but not unheard of. There was a genetic component to the particular transformation but as far as he knew, the spider transformers were all but extinct. It would be a pity to be the one who pushed them over the edge, but he could hardly allow her to live after Phobos had ordered her death.
Hearing the bell ring, Cedric picked up a newspaper and pretended to read. The headline was about some Earth politician who had been caught having an affair or something to that effect. He really didn't care. It was a tawdry affair that these newspapers seemed to revel in. On Meridian, they would be properly dealt with, but on Earth there were laws that actually allowed this. Another reason to hate this planet.
The crowds of schoolchildren rushed out of the school, either in groups or alone, but almost all of them were happy that the school day was over. Cedric allowed his eyes to wander over them all, probing, searching for the features that he might recognise.
More importantly, he searched for the face of the rebel that had escaped him. He was determined that she didn't escape. His plan was simple. Find the girl, isolate her and kill her. Maybe turn her into a meal. He licked his lips in anticipation. Yes, it had been a long time since he had fresh meat.
"-it's like trying to figure out Martian for all the sense it makes!" Will exclaimed with a slight groan and Miranda rolled her eyes. Will's grumbles about math seemed incredibly trivial, especially compared to the recent events that had transpired in her life. Perhaps it was a coping mechanism, but after a frustrating and exhausting day of just trying to avoid standing out (and not always succeeding. Why hadn't anyone mentioned this thing called a television!?) she was perhaps not feeling at her most patient.
"It must be so hard for you. Especially as those numbers can be tricky," Miranda said in agreement.
"Exactly!" Will said. "It's like…" she struggled for a moment and Miranda cut in.
"Almost like arriving in a different world where they all talk in funny ways and expect you to know stuff that you never even knew existed," Miranda finished for her and Will abruptly blushed. Miranda allowed herself a smirk of amusement. "Try to keep things in perspective."
Fortunately Will was saved by the arrival of the other members of W.I.T.C.H. Unfortunately they were also accompanied by Elyon and Alchemy, which precluded any further discussion about Meridian issues.
In particular, finding out who the supposed long-lost heir to the throne of Meridian was. There was no frame of reference, no order or pattern for her to base her search around. All she knew that she was looking for a girl of a certain age, but that could apply to hundreds of people, thousands even in Heatherfield alone. And that was assuming that that the protectors of the young princess had actually stayed in Heatherfield. Miranda thought that it was unlikely that they would have moved far. They would no doubt want to be ready for their eventual return to Meridian and living in the area would make that easier.
"How are you finding Heatherfield?" Elyon asked, interrupting Miranda's train of thought and Miranda smiled at her.
"Well it's different," she said gently even as she resisted the urge to snap. She had a hunch that Elyon and Alchemy were being what the Earthers would refer to as being nosy. For a fleeting moment, Miranda wondered what they would say to the truth, before dismissing it from her mind. As tempting as it would be to just shock them, it was more trouble than it was worth. Instead she settled for putting a smile on her face and continuing talking.
"Everyone's been very friendly and Hay Lin's friends have been looking after me very well."
"Ooohhh yes!" Hay Lin added excitedly. "I helped her with her outfit!"
"And now we have two fashion rejects instead of one," Cornelia finished with a smirk. Hay Lin ignored her and Elyon stayed quiet. Miranda mentally crossed Elyon off of her list of potential candidates for being royalty. She was pretty sure that anyone with a royal lineage would hardly settle for being submissive to anyone and would dominate any conversation.
"Unlike Corny, who's so bland she fades in anywhere," Irma countered with a smirk. "I'm pretty sure Barbie has the same problem."
"Hmph!" Cornelia snorted. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say all those baths you've taken have shrivelled your brain."
"Hah! You're just afraid of mussing your hair!" Irma replied and Cornelia rolled her eyes. Miranda watched in fascination. And amusement. Miranda enjoyed watching a good fight and these two were definitely gearing up for a good fight.
"My hair takes time and attention," Cornelia said with a sneer. "It's worth paying attention to. Why do you think I get boys attention? You could to if you bothered to put in the time."
Irma stuck her tongue out, before giving her reply.
"Blondie I don't NEED to work on my hair to get boys. I'm just naturally awesome," she countered with a smirk. Cornelia raised an eyebrow.
"Certainly. If naturally awesome means only Martin," Cornelia said with a smirk, before tossing her hair back. "I, on the other hand, can do better."
"Do you guys EVER stop fighting?" Will asked and they both looked at her and smirked identical grins.
"No" they said simultaneously, causing everyone to step back.
"That…was actually scary," Taranee said after a moment of silence.
"We aim to please," Irma replied still smirking. Cornelia chuckled in amusement.
"She even succeeds on rare occasions," she added and Irma bowed.
"Thank you Cornelia," she said, before suddenly realising what Cornelia said. "Hey, what do you mean rarely!?"
Cornelia just laughed and Irma frowned. The others pointedly avoided looking at them, pretending to be interested in other things. Irma humphed.
"They're just trying to avoid getting involved," Irma said, before smirking. "They know I'm awesome."
"Only in your dreams Lair," Cornelia countered. "They just don't have the heart to tell you."
"Would you two lovebirds mind leaving us out of your arguments?" Will said and both Cornelia and Irma glared at her while the others laughed. Even Taranee grinned. Miranda on the other hand was frowning. Surely she hadn't seen the person she thought she'd seen, that was impossible. Surely he was still on Meridian.
"Hey Miranda, are you okay?" Alchemy asked, interrupting Miranda's thoughts and she gave her a smile. "You looked like you were miles away."
"I'm fine. I just thought…" Miranda let her words trail away as she allowed her thoughts to wander. It had been so very long ago since she had seen that face. Was she absolutely sure that it was him? On the other hand…it was hard to forget that particular face. She had to make sure. Fortunately for her, Elyon inadvertently gave her an opportunity she needed when she tripped on a loose stone and hit the ground hard, skinning her knees. With a sympathetic wince at Elyon's pain, Miranda slipped away.
Cedric smirked as he watched the young rebel shapeshifter slip away from her friends. It was almost as though she wanted him to kill her. Not that he was going to object. If she wanted to be so helpful, who was he to object? He slowly began trailing her and his hand transformed into his snake form. He was going to enjoy this.
The girl appeared to stop with a frown and turned down a dark back alley. Cedric raised an eyebrow. This was indeed unexpected and for a moment he paused. It was almost too easy. Was she leading him into a trap? He paused and looked around for any signs of the other girls, the Guardians or someone. He didn't see anyone there. She could of course be simply unaware that he was there and had her own reasons for going this way. If that was the case, he was unlikely to get a better chance. Stepping forward into the alleyway, he began his transformation as he stepped forward. It might not be a trap, but he was determined not to be caught off guard.
First his arms changed, becoming far more muscular and turning green. This was followed by his head and shoulders before finally his legs finally became a tail. With practised ease, he slipped further into the alleyway to see…nothing. It was as though the girl had vanished into thin air. He sniffed the air carefully and began scanning the walls for any sign of movement. More than ever, he was certain that this was an ambush.
He was debating the virtues of retreating for the time being when suddenly and without warning, he was attacked by a spider creature dropping on him from the wall, attempting to bite his neck. Unfortunately for her, her fangs were unable to penetrate the thick skin he had, a flaw in her attack that he was about to exploit. With a sharp twist of his body, he threw her aside and into a wall. She landed well, absorbing the blow and leapt back onto the attack knocking Cedric into a wall. This was swiftly follow by a second, more successful bite. This time it was at a more vulnerable spot and her fangs penetrated into a vein and her poison was soon injected into his bloodstream. Cedric let out a scream of pain and rage and grabbed his attacker and threw her against the wall so hard she reverted back to her human form with a groan.
Cedric shivered, possibly out of excitement or because of the poison he could feel working it's way through his veins he wasn't really sure. It had been a long time since he had consumed a person. Phobos tended to frown upon such behaviour, but it was the natural order of snake shapeshifters to consume their prey.
He shivered again. The poison was weakening him, he could feel it and while he doubted it would kill him, it would definitely weaken him at a time he couldn't really afford it. Consuming the girl would no doubt neutralise the poison and he opened his mouth to it's full size, dislocating his first and second jaw.
The girl's eyes widened in shock as she tried scrabbling to her feet. She wasn't going to get away, that much was obvious. Grabbing her by the arms, he pulled her head towards his mouth, feeling her struggle against him.
Cedric dropped the girl as something big and hard hit him from behind. He turned his head sharply, expecting to see the Guardians hovering behind him. What he saw was something he did not expect, something he suspected that nobody in their right mind would suspect.
Standing behind him with a look of astonishment and fear was a girl with reddish-brown hair mellow-blue eyes. A normal human girl roughly the same age as the young rebel he was attacking. He snarled.
"How DARE you!" he growled. "How dare you interfere with the orders of Prince Phobos!"
"Who the hell is Prince Phobos?" the girl asked, her fear temporarily forgotten.
The girl he was attacking took advantage of his distraction and ran past him towards the human girl. Grabbing her by the hand, the rebel dragged the human away and out of his sight. He turned to follow but when he reached the road, neither girl was anywhere to be seen.
"What," Alchemy said to Miranda, her eyes still wide and disbelieving, "was THAT thing?"
"Well…it's kind of complicated," Miranda began and she hesitated. It was one thing to reveal her own secret. It was something else to reveal the rest of the girls secrets as well. Alchemy simply chuckled.
"I wasn't expecting it to be simple," she said a little shakily. "Giant snakes aren't exactly the norm around here."
"He's a shapeshifter," Miranda said and Alchemy gasped in surprise.
"But…he could be anything! How-"
Miranda put her hand over Alchemy's mouth.
"I'm going to tell you a lot of things that you are going to find hard to believe and will no doubt raise a lot of questions. Just let me finish before you ask them."
Alchemy nodded and Miranda removed her hand.
"The snake man you saved me from is called Lord Cedric. He's from Meridian, just like me. And like me, he can change between two separate forms."
"Hold on a minute. Like you?" Alchemy asked and Miranda frowned. Alchemy raised her arm in mock surrender. "I know, I know. No questions until you're finished."
"Yes, like me. He changes into a snake and I change into a sort of spider type creature. Now can I continue?" she finished with a frown that made it clear that no would be a bad idea. Alchemy nodded. "Good. Anyway, Meridian is another world, a different world to this one. It's separated by something called the Veil, although it's not entirely watertight, it does make portals between Meridian and Earth harder. The Veil exists because the leader of Meridian, Prince Phobos is a tyrant who seeks to invade other worlds. Lord Cedric is one of his servants and," Miranda paused and choked painfully as bitter memories flooded to the surface. "He was the one who killed my foster parents and almost killed me when I was five."
"I don't want sympathy!" Miranda snapped. "I am a member of the rebellion that seeks to overthrow Phobos and put the rightful heir to the throne back in power."
"Wow. So what's the name to the heir to the throne? What are they like?" Alchemy asked, slightly awed and Miranda shook her head.
"We don't know. Nobody does. All we know is that the heir is somewhere here on Earth," she said and Alchemy frowned.
"But to find him-"
"Her," Miranda corrected. "Meridian is always ruled by a queen whenever possible."
"Her then. Finding her must be like finding a needle in a haystack!"
"Well, we know she's about my age and she's probably a local girl," Miranda said, but Alchemy frowned.
"That still leaves a huge number of possible candidates. Heatherfield must have thousands of people in it," she pointed out. "What's the involvement of Hay Lin and the others? How are they involved with all this?"
"That's their secret to reveal if they desire," Miranda replied. Alchemy look dubiously at her and Miranda shrugged. "It's not my place to say."
"They know, don't they?" Alchemy guessed and Miranda winced. "They do, don't they?"
"Yes, but that's all I'm saying," Miranda said and Alchemy shrugged.
"Wow, this is just...amazing," she said in wonder.
"Miranda!" a familiar voice called out to them and Miranda was glad to see that it was Will, with a look of concern on her face. "Where have you been?" suddenly she noticed just how battered Miranda was. "What happened to you?"
"I had a run in with Lord Cedric. Alchemy saved me," Miranda replied, nodding slightly to Alchemy, who blushed and looked embarrassed.
"Wait, how much does she know?" Will asked as Miranda's words sank in.
"I know where Miranda is from and what she is, but nothing else," Alchemy said, cutting Miranda's stumbling words off. "She said it was your business and not her place to reveal it. So how do you and the others fit into all this?"
"Well..." Will started hesitantly. "I'll have to see what the others say. And I'll have to think about it."
"I can keep a secret you know!" Alchemy snapped and Will sighed.
"It's not just my secret," Will replied. She licked her lips. "And there are...other considerations."
"Other considerations?" Alchemy asked and Miranda put her hand on her arm.
"A little patience, my dear. I'm sure that when the time is right, you will know more," Miranda said. Will shot Miranda a look of gratitude or annoyance, she wasn't sure which and Alchemy sighed.
"You know, this is practically torture!" she exclaimed and both Miranda and Will rolled their eyes. "Fine, fine, I'll wait."
"I'll call the others and let them know you're safe," Will said pulling out her phone. "Don't do anything like that again."
Alchemy raised an eyebrow and Will smacked her hand into her face. Her and her big mouth!
AN3: This is going to be a bigger, multichapter piece. The original was intended as a oneshot to stand on its own as I was unsure of where to continue from there. Now I'm going much further