At first, Myrios thought that it was from overworking himself.
You know, the whole “The last thing you think about before falling asleep is what you dream about” myth. Since clearly, he wouldn’t dream about Aberration 361 willingly. He wouldn’t think about her at all, if possible, but unfortunately she was a wily entity, slipping in and out of dimensions like water through a crack on the sidewalk, leaving a trail of broken timelines and changed fates behind her. He spent many a sleepless night pouring over her file, desperate for any clue to where she’d strike next. Because unlike Myrios, she didn’t need the Department of Interdimensional Peace or their technology to dimension hop. She didn’t need to slip into the body of an alternate of herself and temporarily take over their consciousness. 361 just needed to think about it, and pop! She was out of reach, onto her next scheme.
She was infuriating like that.
Aberration 361’s powers meant that Detective Myrios Enigma spent his days running after her, slipping into alternate after alternate while his superiors at DIP constantly got on his back for loosing her. Of course, they never considered the fact that their agents were human and needed sleep on occasion, or that Aberration 361’s abilities made killing her extremely difficult. So, needless to say, Myrios wasn’t happy when she started appearing in his dreams.
It was only during the ninth dream when he realized that it was actually her in his dreams, and not his mind’s interpretation.
Myrios glared down at the aberration. “So… you enter other people’s dreams.”
361 shrugged, looking completely at ease sitting cross-legged on the… ground? Myrios could only assume, considering they were the objects in an otherwise empty void. The reds and blacks of her clothing and hair swirled and switched around, the red of her hat bleeding into her black hair, and her black hair bleeding into her red coat. “It’s something I picked up.”
“I thought you could only dimension travel, not… this.” He gestured to all of her. Like a boiling pot about to bubble over, his temper scorched through his body, but he kept a lid on it. No hunter would begin his hunt without finding tracks in the soil, after all, so neither should he arrest 361 figuring out what was going on. “I didn’t know my dreams were another dimension.”
“They’re not, they’re not,” she waved away his non-question. “I actually learned dream-weaving up from a witch in one of the fantasy worlds a while back. Nice lady; she tried to eat some kids, so I had to kill her, but still pretty nice. She said I was naturally magical; can you believe that? But yeah, this is only a dream—one we’re sharing, but a dream none-the-less.”
Myrios rolled his eyes. One of the most powerful aberrations in the multiverse, and she could use magic. Great. At least she would be limited to the worlds were magic existed. “Which world?” he asked. He’d chased her to quite a number of fantasy worlds.
“I don’t know. I don’t have one of those nifty little computers that tells me where I end up, and time passes differently for me.” She paused, considering. “I think you were a girl then. A princess?”
“B56-98C-4.” Myrios concluded, since that was the only mission he’d had in the past year where he was both female and in a fantasy setting. He was still annoyed—she was interrupting his very rare sleep—but it was tempered by realization. Despite his best efforts (and his superior’s threats) he’d never managed to get 361 into an interrogation room. But now, here she was, actually speaking to him instead of frolicking around the multiverse, wreaking timelines. “It was one of your… tamer outings, if I recall.”
She hummed. “Tamer?”
“Oh, you know how it is,” he led, trying to get her to say more. “Whenever you breach a new world, it always goes one of two ways: either you try to destroy the timeline, or you embed yourself into the dimension, taking up a new identity in the process. You were an apprentice to the court witch, I think. Guess it does make sense that she would teach you some of the magic she knew.”
She sighed. “Madam Terra. She’s beautiful, but… I’ve seen better.” She smirked coyly at him. “I seem to recall Princess Ioanna looking absolutely ravishing on her wedding day.” Myrios flushed and she laughed at him. “Of course, I didn’t realize it was you until you tried to attack me… why did it take you so long? Usually, it only takes you a week, tops, to sus out who I am, but you spent nearly three months as Ioanna.”
Myrios felt unusually relaxed in 361’s presence. For an incredibly dangerous aberration that he was dedicated to removing, she acted like they were old friends, from the moment they first met. Considering how hectic working in DIP was, with new missions, often more than one, every day, he tried to return the favor. “Officially, it was because you hid yourself better than usual.”
“It wasn’t that much better—”
“You were blonde. And a man,” he said, cutting her off. “You’re never blonde.”
She stroked her chin. “Was I a man…?” she murmured. “I can’t remember. What’s the unofficial reason?”
“Unofficially… Tanya was in a bit of a tight spot politically, and barely an adult at that. I figured I could help her out before I had to leave.”
“Identity shenanigans, you know how it is,” he said, sitting down on the not-ground beside her. “Hell, in R29-67Y-9, you pretended to be three people at once.” At her blank look, he continued, “1920s, New York City. There was a murder?”
“I don’t remember that.”
“It was two months ago!”
“For you.” She scoffed. “Time moves differently for me.” Myrios rolled his eyes. “Also, my memory’s shit. Not as bad as yours, but…”
“What do you mean? My memory’s not bad.”
“Oh really? Then what’s my name?”
Myrios opened his mouth to answer, only to pause. What… was her name? He had to know it; he’d read her file dozens of times already, chased her for years, and yet… He shook his head. No, her name was “H—”
“Nope, not even close.” 361 leaned back on her palms, smirking at him. “That’s an alias, and a pretty obvious one at that. No, I mean my real name. The one I gave to you when we first met, on February 2nd, 2020, in London. What is my name?”
2020? That was… years ago, long before he was given the case on Aberration 361, hell, before he was a member of DIP! And London? He’d never been to London, right? At least, he didn’t think he had, DIP’s main headquarters was in Washington state, but… he frowned. Actually, had he ever been anywhere but the DIP headquarters? Room and board were provided, and he was so busy working, dipping in and out of other dimensions that…
What did he do before working at DIP? He’d only worked there for a few years, he should know, and yet…
Wait, how long had he been working at DIP?
361 sighed. “You don’t remember. Still don’t, no matter what I try…” She shook her head. “I’m starting to give up on you, you know that? If you don’t wake up soon, I’m going to be really mad at you, darling.”
“Who are you talking to?” His words were heavy, slow as molasses in winter.
“You, silly.” She grabbed his chin, skin freezing cold and burning against his. He felt ice sculptures softer than her hand. “It’s time for you to wake up,
Myrios bolted up in bed, her voice ringing in his ears.