PART NINE: THE FLASH FORWARD
Leal happily gave into the exhaustion the case he had yet to resolve pertaining to Mariposa Esposito on the night of May 28th 2056, even as the doomed future that seemed inevitable loomed in the near future. For the first time in weeks, he felt hopeful having obtained the support of his charge. Things had worked out even better than he had hoped they would, which was really saying something. As he slept ever so contentedly as he held Aurora in his arms, his tired mind wandered in the dream scape for a long while before he found himself in an unfamiliar room, surrounded by friends and family, happily babbling away as they enjoyed a family feast.
His daughter Avery, turned to face him and beamed at him before asking him to help her bring in a few items she had slaved herself over in her kitchen. Leal excused himself from Aurora who was wearing a noticeably shiny golden ring on her finger and who gave Leal a kiss on his cheek and urged him not to take too long to come back. He thanked her and followed Avery to the unfamiliar kitchen area.
“What should I help you with, honey?” he asked Avery sweetly.
She observed him keenly before saying, “So, which Leal Grayson are you?”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Let’s not waste any precious time. Tell me, from which Timeline do you hail from, Leal Grayson?”
“Um… B-3 but I currently live in D-1. How could you possibly have known- wait- are you saying this isn’t a dream?”
Avery shook her head. “You performed another consciousness jump. Ah… This must be about the Mariposa Esposito case, right?”
“I- how do you know all this?”
“Well, first of all, allow me to properly introduce myself. I’m Avery Alison from Timeline D-3. Your Timeline often intersects with ours so I guess it makes sense why your consciousness would suddenly jump into my dad’s mind,”
Leal nodded confusedly as they were joined by another unidentified young man that had also been part of the feast as well as his granddaughter’s doppelganger, Ada. They turned to face Avery who said, “He is from D-1.”
“Grandpa, what are you doing here in D-3? Is something wrong with anyone back in D-1?” Ada asked him, concerned.
He shook his head.
“He must have performed another consciousness jump randomly,” the young lad offered.
“I’m sorry, young man, but who exactly are you?”
“Can’t you tell, dad?” the young man asked. Leal gasped on realizing that he was staring at the doppelganger of his son, Dewey.
Ada rolled her eyes. “Anything to show off, huh? Anyway, grandpa, is everything okay?”
“Sure it is, niece. Dad’s just working a case and he needs my help. Please give me a second, okay, Leal? I’ll be right back with what you need,” Avery replied to Leal much to his bewilderment.
Leal was stunned by her pronouncement and let her walk away while observing his son’s doppelganger in awe.
“Is this really about a case, grandpa? Or is there something more?” Ada pressed on, concerned.
Leal shook his head. “This really is about a case I’m working on. I am really surprised that I am in a future Timeline though. It is so eerie,”
“Isn’t it? Well, I guess that’s what we get for being connected to mom,” Dewey snidely remarked.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, mom eventually discovers it anyway so I guess it doesn’t hurt to reveal that because of some strange twist of fate, everyone who is connected to Aurora Alison ends up developing some form of Quantum jumping. You now possess the ability to jump consciously from doppelganger to doppelganger and both doppelgangers of Avery and I, heck, even Ada here, have developed Quantum jumping abilities as well…”
“Mom theorizes it has something to do with her connection to the Probability Field increasing and therefore expanding her Traveling abilities as well. Naturally, as your charge evolves, so do you by virtue of your Protector’s Bond. Fascinating stuff, right, old man?”
“I suppose though I am not well versed with this deep science stuff,”
Dewey chuckled and then stated, “Classic dad.”
Ada visibly relaxed upon realizing that her family was not under any duress.
Avery returned and she handed over a folded piece of paper in Leal’s hand.
“Listen very closely, daddy, I am certain you don’t have very long… When you find the enchanted dark object that imprisons Mariposa, you must draw this rune using enchanted chalk obtained from a purified Ashen tree. You can find those at a nearby Temple. You must pronounce the words I have written down on that paper precisely and make sure that before you chant those exact words, you have opened up the jar entirely, okay?”
“What?” Leal asked in confusion.
“Please follow my instructions precisely, Leal. I assure you, you will retrieve Mariposa Esposito safely. She is where you suspect she is- locked in an enchanted fairy jar concealed with magic within a supposed barrel of ale at the Vermont Novelty Bar and Restaurant and only you can find it- just follow the orchid butterfly,”
“Wait- you know about the butterfly?”
Avery nodded. “Hold on tightly to that piece of paper so it doesn’t get lost during the jump back, okay?”
Leal nodded. “Um… Avery, Dewey… I… I am grateful to have met your future selves. Ada, as always it was a pleasure to see you,”
Avery and Dewey beamed and waved at him and Ada did the same as his consciousness slowly returned to his own body and he woke up with the crumbled up paper where his daughter’s doppelganger had scribbled the details he needed to follow to save Mariposa, firmly clasped in his hands.
He sat up and almost immediately afterwards, Aurora woke up and sat up as well, wearily rubbing her eyes.
“Leal, what have you got there?”
Leal took time to explain everything he had encountered in detail to Aurora including what Dewey had told her.
“You met our children’s doppelgangers in the future?” Aurora asked in awe.
Leal smiled and nodded. “They turn out alright, just like Ada,” he proudly proclaimed.
Aurora smiled as she pondered that. They went back to sleep before Leal called Avery and explained everything he had encountered.
“That was really something, huh? Are you sure Ada is okay? She didn’t say anything about being mad at me or something?”
“No. She was mostly worried that something had happened to us,”
“Oh, I see… Well, as long as she is happy and safe, I suppose that’s all that matters… And I have some great news for you. Glare Glass is going down. The team I had working on uncovering the secret identities of its niche market are almost all discovered. We have enough to raid their premises and are now following the breadcrumbs directly to those clients…”
“As for saving Mariposa, we have just the perfect plan for busting her captors. However, I need you to be well disguised when we finally raid Vermont… Unless you are not up for it-“
“Of course I am up for it! I am in this until the bitter end, Avery. So lay the plan on me,”
TO BE CONTINUED…
Happy New Year! A silver lining at long last and it appears Mariposa shall be saved at last… Tune in next week for the next part in the ensuing saga of Leal and the Golden Knights! Links to previous parts are linked below. Enjoy!