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The Framework.ย  A wild chaos of mist and earthbergs.

Drifting through the gray nothing is a somewhat sprawling villa, complete with a pleasantly broad and roofed veranda โ€” though not too broad, of course โ€” and a well-manicured atrium with a tasteful water feature.ย  The water feature has fish.

The occupants of this villa are a group of cats.

These cats do all of the usual cat things: sun themselves, eat, nap, chase things around, and plan physics and chemistry experiments with unpredictable results (Ne'ergrin, the mangy-seeming gray Tabby who wore a constant maniacal grin and whose lab/bedroom grew impossible-er and impossible-er, could generally be counted upon to explode something at least once per day; most confusingly, this almost never happened when there was anything explosive at hand).

They do these things because they find themselves in a world that makes very little sense to them.ย  They can see the way that it is, but they can also feel a distinct sense that something's not quite as it should be.

They've drifted from one island in the sky to another, meeting strange creatures of every description.ย  People who had no need of the truth, people who learned through popping a pill; people with neither teeth nor eyes (Su-Sฤn [whose real name was Pamela] โ€” the airheaded creamy-white Persian who was never seen at the same time as her unidentical twin Tibsy, a business-like gray-and-white long-haired Calico who could appear at any time that Su-Sฤn was no longer there, Su-Sฤn sharing this ability in turn, and neither of the two ever appearing to actually travel the time and distance between โ€” found this disturbing at first, but was soon greatly relieved to find that they could still drink cookies after having been dunked thoroughly, and soon thereafter was even more greatly relieved to find that it was only the cookies that needed the dunking); Organocybes, who dangled as limp appendages to their machine enhancements; the wildly varying Tube-Testers, who had created their enhanced genetic selves for eventual downloads, but lived in a Zeno-paradoxical state of forever tinkering with new improvements first (different amino acids, bi-rotary chains, variable numbers of chains, flexible chemical base... the list grew ever longer); an empty world, as if cast off and forgotten by all of creation, with a sea of what seemed to be pure tears.

As nearly as Whoozit (the yellow short-haired Bobtail bard-sage) could determine, the world that they found themselves in came about last week Thursday.ย  Right about tea-time, from all indications.

This presented a spot of perplexment, as one might guess, given that their charted adventures certainly covered rather more prior territory than one could account for in so short a span of time.

In fact, they were beginning to suspect that they didn't even actually exist, or rather more to the point, that they existed in a world that didn't itself exist and that whatever had once been โ€œexistenceโ€ was now non-existent-er than their non-existent existence, which made everything terribly confusing (except to Mister Mephisto, the Tuxedo [usually] who wasn't there โ€” literally โ€” as often as he was, and manifested all manner of small affectations the moment that you turned your back or blinked), but certainly tied it up into a neat little Gordian knot of philosophical yarn to bat about on a lazy afternoon.

Through all of this, the villa drifted, rolling and pitching gently on that intangible aether through eternal starlight.

Through all of this, the villa approached the bulk of a cloud-whale1, teeming with residents mining its body, neither group yet aware of the other's existence.



O ~~~ O