Graciela took in a deep breath and then let it out again. “I am so nervous to meet her.”
“Zinnia Brainard is your cousin,” Dionysus explained. “Twin to my son, Knox.”
“How is that possible?” Graciela pondered. “Oh wait, is your last name Brainard? Oh, or….” She sighed. “Wait, Astra’s daughter! I forgot for a second that she had a thing for Audric.”
Dionysus nodded. “A huge thing. The point is, I know Audric. He wouldn’t have raised her to be a Gray hating monster. At the core of it all, she’s your cousin. You guys are family. She might hate me, and probably Astra but not you. You have no reason to be afraid.”
Graciela bit her lip. “I talked to the darkness last night. It makes a compelling case. Or at least, raises some questions. Why can’t I learn everything about myself in one shot? Do you think it’s possible that the darkness inside of me has already taken over and that led to this big disaster that sealed our dimension away?”
“I think anything is possible, but I’m afraid I wasn’t exactly present when things went down,” Dionysus replied with a frown. “I was on another frontier completely. Preparing something for my son.”
“Preparing what?” Then, Graciela frowned. “You won’t tell me, will you?”
Dionysus shook his head. “Why worry you with even more stuff?”
“Because I want to be worried. It makes me feel like a person and not a shell holding onto some memories that aren’t mine.”
“Do you have memories that aren’t yours?” Dionysus asked, pulling up a chair to sit by her.
“I see Moonlight Falls over and over and over again. There is fighting and people are dying. But I…I mean I thought I was from Fortitude. Right? Would I be able to see something like that?”
“It’s possible you’re seeing the past when you lived there. Remember? We were there for a while,” Dionysus said.
Graciela shook her head. “No. I know those memories. Where I met my so called best friend and where I had to hide from the man who called himself my grandfather. This is different. I feel like I’m just watching a movie in snippets. It’s not possible, is it?” Graciela reached up to touch her heart. “I didn’t say anything because I thought it was a past that I was suppressing but I don’t ever remember so much death.”
“You’re sure it’s Moonlight Falls?” Dionysus asked. “Could it be somewhere else?”
“It looks a bit different but I would know it anywhere.” She shook her head and frowned. “Maybe Altiere and Damian got their way? I mean, with grandpa gone I imagine the political situation got worse.”
Dionysus opened his mouth to say something when he heard a knock on the door. He stood up. “That must be them. I’ll get it.”
Graciela watched as people stumbled into the small house boat. A girl, a boy and the man known as Ellery. Lily and her girlfriend were nowhere to be seen. She straightened up and gave them the best smile she could muster. The boy feigned shock. “It looks like you’ve seen a ghost.”
The girl, probably Zinnia, hit his arm. “Oh shut up, Adriel.” She looked at Graciela. “He used to be a ghost. Long story. But uhm, no one would find that joke funny anyway.”
Ellery smirked. “It was clever.”
“See?” Adriel grinned. “My girlfriend can be such a prude sometimes. Zinnia, smile. Your cousin is right in front of you.”
“A cousin I know little about,” Zinnia replied. “Ok, sorry. That was rude of me. I am just stressed out with this whole Dimension Police business.”
Dionysus chuckled. “You remind me so much of Audric, it’s a little funny. Forget the purple hair, it’s everything.”
“Dad was able to keep it together,” Zinnia admitted.
“I think it’s impressive,” Dionysus responded. “You’re only 21 and yet you are in charge of all of…well, whatever it is. I imagine it’s quite a big effort.”
“We’re saving everyone,” Zinnia replied. “So yes, it’s a massive effort.”
“Hold on a minute,” Adriel began, waving his hand. “I don’t mean to be rude but how do you know so much about Zinnia?”
Zinnia waved him off again. “He’s an old friend of my dad’s. I’m glad he’s here actually. He can help make sense of all of this. First of all, how much do you guys know about what happened? I heard Graciela had memory loss.”
“We don’t know much,” Graciela said calmly. “I’m sorry. I wish I could remember things.”
“That’s not a problem,” Zinna said. “Or it shouldn’t be. In fact, you might be the key to finding out what we need to know. What caused the sealing of our home dimension and how we can reopen it again. My dad is stuck there and Pandora is policing the dimensions like she owns them. She wants to frame your..er, our family, you know.”
“We’re cutting straight to the chase?” Ellery asked. “No talking about the new dimension they’ve found?”
“It’s probably not safe,” Zinnia said clearly. “I think it’s a bit fishy that you guys are hanging out in a new dimension while your families are sealed off within our old one. I don’t recall transporting either of you out. So it’s either, someone implanted you somewhere they wanted you and removed your memories…”
“I have my memories,” Dionysus interjected. “So that theory can be wrong.”
“You could have still been implanted,” Adriel responded defensively.
“I wasn’t offered a new home,” Dionysus agreed. “I was taken and then told to make it my new home, same as Graciela. But, it was discussed as if this new dimension would be a home for everyone. I think that’s a hopeful prospective.”
“We can make it ours,” Ellery suggested. “We can bring our people and work on investigating the place. See if there are any anomalies. I can do that, you know. Watcher’s kid and everything.”
“That’s a good idea,” Zinnia agreed. “You can be our man on the inside. Stake out the world and diffuse any potentially dangerous situations! Then we’ll have a new dimension that we can move the people of the damaged ones to. The rest of us can continue the fight with the Dimension Police.”
“That sounds great and everything,” Graciela piped in. “But I would love to just get back home and see my parents. My siblings. Everyone. I’ll pledge my full support to your cause if you can help with that.”
“You can help with that, actually.” Zinnia smiled triumphantly. “Okay, so this is going to sound crazy but hear me out first, alright? I don’t have it with me, but before I left the dimension my father gave me a record of the Gray family to take to the council. He said you guys were a family of interest. Apparently in a lot of dimensions the Grays do great things. Quinn might have the one with the Bennets. I’m not sure, but that’s not the point.”
“I have a diary,” Graciela replied. “I don’t need to read any records.”
“No, it’s no that kind of record. It’s more of like an implant. You put it in the dimension watcher’s brain, I guess. They then have access to all of the information within a dimension. Except, this is just of the Gray family history. Exporting anything more within the midst of chaos would have been suspicious. Because the file is centralized, containing the information of one family and one family alone, we might be able to implant it within your brain. You’ll gain knowledge of your family’s history,” Zinnia explained.
Ellery frowned. “I didn’t know about any of that.”
“I’m not supposed to know it, but my dad breaks a lot of rules.” Zinnia shrugged. “I mean, Dimension Watchers are prepped for their new position I believe. That’s what daddy said. He must have incredible powers to hold all of that information within himself.”
“There are too many drawbacks,” Dionysus said angrily. “It can backfire: damage her brain or worse, kill her.”
“My whole family’s history?” Graciela asked. “I would love to know that.”
“It can overload you. If not physically, emotionally,” Dionysus pointed out. “People aren’t supposed to have that much power.”
“It’d screw over the council though,” Ellery said, pleased with the idea. “I don’t trust them. I think your dad is mislead in trying to do things the diplomatic way. They aren’t going to listen to him.”
“He said the council has the power to implant one dimension entirely into another,” Zinnia said. “Whether you trust them or not, that is valuable. My dad is trying to protect his people, Ellery. That being said, the implant is a one use thing. It’ll disappear after the information is implanted and Gracie will never lose access to those memories, ever. Though, the health risks aren’t the only drawbacks. If we can’t take the record to the council then we have to take it to the new dimension because we need the Gray family there. If we can’t get the dimension moved with my father, then Graciela has to be the new dimension watcher because she’d be the one with the information necessary.”
“That’s impossible,” Ellery said. “You can’t pick your dimension watcher. THe council does that and gives them power. They had to have done something bad to be punished for eternity.”
“I don’t know how that will work, but we have the power Ellery. Maybe we can help run the new dimension with her,” Zinnia suggested. “We can be the power she needs. She’ll be the brains.”
“One problem,” Ellery said. “We die. She can die too. What then? We can’t keep implanting the information. We don’t have that kind of power.”
“Why can’t we learn it?” Zinnia challenged. “I think it’s a good idea. We run the dimension…”
“Not the council,” Ellery said in realization. “Actually, yeah. If we can make it work, that’d be awesome.”
“Except you’re making plans without asking her!” Dionysus accused angrily. “Being a watcher will make you all targets of the council. It is dangerous and a lonely life. Not one Gracie deserves to live.”
“So we dismantle the council then. It’s obviously not working,” Ellery said coldly.
Graciela looked from the newcomers to Dionysus. “They bring up some good points, but I don’t know anything about a council or whatever. I just want to get into the old dimension and make things right. Find my family. If I take those memories, how will I?”
“It will show us what happened to the dimension if it involves your family at all,” Zinnia answered.
“And if it doesn’t?” Dionysus asked. “Are we screwed then?”
Graciela thought about what the darkness said. “I think it involves me. I…” She bit her lip. “If I find out all of this information for myself, not what other people tell me, but the truth then I can find a way to reverse what happened. I don’t want to wait forever like the others want me to. Dio, we’re wasting time and you and I both know that it’s a commodity. What if we can find your son quicker? If I just knew who my family was, and what they were like I’d be so much more helpful. I want to know. I want to be useful.”
“It’s dangerous,” Dionysus argued back. “Please, think about it. Sleep on it.”
“No!” She shook her head. “I don’t care about the dimension police, the darkness, the council, any of it. Zinnia is the only person who has made some sense to me this whole journey. I was placed in an empty world, told what to do and then left to figure things out on my own. I’m scared, but I need to know who I am and where I come from.”
“These aren’t your memories, they’re an input,” Dionysus said.
“There’s a high probability that the code could trigger her memories and sort out which is her own and which isn’t,” Zinnia added. “I think.”
“So what else? Is it because it’s dangerous, or do you not believe in their cause? They helped Lily. They can help me find everyone else,” Graciela responded. “Zinnia and Ellery are powerful, their organization is well put together.”
“The only other thing besides me not wanting you to die, is not wanting you to get people angry. The council, this Cassius guy, the dimension police. You can only help one person here, they’re all going to be pissed so make sure who you support is the one who can help you the most,” Dionysus said. “Make sure you truly believe in Zinnia’s cause. I will help you fight, no matter what you choose.”
“Family,” Graciela said as if it was obvious. “I choose family. You said it yourself, she’s my cousin. Lily is my cousin. This Cassius guy, I don’t know who he is. But these guys behind us offered me a solution to the problem of finding a new dimension. It will be a lot of work, but if they think that taking down the council and the guy in charge of the new dimension, and having a new dimension with me at the helm is the best course of action then fine. As long as I get to feel again. Remember things that made me whole. Dio, I want to be okay again. I will take that chance. And if I die, then so be it. Not like I’m living much now anyway, being a mindless servant to the darkness and to the people telling me what to do.”