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Pranks

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"There are many myths about the 'true' origins of Faction Paradox. The Faction, true to their nature, encourage such stories, while confirming none of them. So, take the next paragraph with a pinch of salt, as Earthlings say.

One origin story states the Faction Paradox started out as a joke that went wrong. A group of Time Lords (probably Prydonians) were playing around with a harmless possibility engine. Seeing an Elder coming down the hall, these troublesome youths decided to grab a random set of skeletons from the possibility machine. Fitting the skulls onto their heads, they jumped out, screaming the first scary thing that came to their heads.

"We are Faction Paradox!" said one youth.

"We are a new house! We exist to show how useless, how decrepit, how out of touch the Great Houses of Gallifrey is!" screamed another female youth.

"And we wear these bones of alternate possibility, of un-possibility, as a mockery!" claimed the third.

"All hail Grandfather Paradox!" added the female youth. (Clearly she had to be a Prydonian.)

A simple school prank. Angry teenagers in many societies do it. Unfortunately, this particular Elder lacked a sense of humor, and was a high-ranking politician. She quickly ran to the current President, claiming that there was a new House, that worshipped Paradox, and had already affected the youth. Soon, these hapless youth were in front of a Gallifreyan court, being asked if they actually were declaring a new House.

Most people would have realized the joke had gone too far. These kids, obviously, had not been loomed with the gene of common sense. (Again, they were probably Prydonians)

"Yes. We're Faction Paradox," claimed the female youth.

And that's how the story goes. Faction Paradox was just a prank from some drunk students, gone too far.

Now, the odd part about this myth is that, reportedly (from those who should no better than to report such things), Grandfather Paradox himself liked this origin story the best. When it was pointed out to him that, if that story was true, it not only invalidated his mystique, it also took away any legitimacy the Faction had, he not only agreed, he immediately ordered that Cousin be given a promotion up the ranks.

-drunken story overheard being said in Gallifrey by the General.

"No."

Cousin Spry couldn't see Grandfather Paradox's face. She didn't have to. There was enough anger, determination, and pure force of will for her to understand how important the Grandfather's decision was.

She felt the lights turn on. The shadows bonded within her skin receded, and her body translated it into a slight burning sensation. It was safe to open her eyes now. After letting her eyes adjust to the light, she saw the Devourers of History stare at her. She wasn't especially religious, but there was something chilling about seeing these monsters in the gray, frozen Visage of an angel. Their faces, usually, covered by their hands in a show of mock supplication, we're at their sides, allowing her to see a wide grin on all their faces. The Shadow snaking through her bloodstream snarled at them. It knew she was in great danger.

A small touch at her side made her move her head. It was Cousin Eames, her friend, fellow Cousin, and lover. He pointed at her eyes, and she immediately called the Shadow back into herself. It wouldn't be just Spry"s luck to have her eyes glow a distracting red during an important meeting.

She mouthed a silent "Thank you" to Cousin Eames, who winked, and gave a thumbs up. He nearly fell down when Mother Andy whispered something in his ears, probably a threat. Spry stifled a laugh.

She turned her face back to the Devourers. Many of them were frozen looking at Grandfather Paradox, who stood facing them without moving, probably without blinking. Others were looking at the rest of the group. One of them seemed to be staring straight at her.

And they all had the same rictus grin.

"They're not moving. Why?" asked Cousin Charles.(His Faction name was Charlemagne, but no one called him that. Ever.)

"Perhaps they're speechless. Or maybe they're waiting for us to say more?" asked Mother Andy. Her eyes were moving from Devourers to Devourers.

"No," said Grandfather Paradox. Whether that was in response to Andy's question, or just repeating the previous response, Spry wasn't sure.

(She didn't even know what the Devourers' question had been. They and the Grandfather had communicated most of the conversation in quantum memetic hyperspeech, or however Charles explained it. Essentially, it meant only the last part, the "No" which Grandfather had spoken aloud, was understandable to Spry,)

Then, Spry noticed movement amount the statues. With every blink, one statue's body went up, another went down. Their bodies were bending up and down, and their faces were grinning wider now.

"They're laughing," said Charles, a sense of horror in his voice.

They kept on silently laughing. Their bodies danced up and down.

"Um, Does this mean something bad?"asked Eames.

And then they stopped laughing The angels' faces were now hidden, cupped into the usual position of eternal thinking.

"Does that mean you'll think about it? Or something? Come on, say something!" asked Eames.

"Shush," said Mother Andy. But even the unflappable Mother looked worried, and glanced at Grandfather Paradox.

"With all due respect, Grandfather, what exactly was the question they gave you? The one you said 'No' to? Because I think you've made them laugh, and not in a good way," said Mother Andy.

"One of them is missing" said Grandfather Paradox .

"What?" said the Mother. Then Spry saw the woman's face contorted in alarm, and she wildly looked around, first at the group of angels, then at the room.

Spry felt a shadow move above her. It moved in spurts, incredibly fast, almost gliding over the floor. She looked up, letting her Shadow senses guide her eyes.

"What do you see, Spry?" asked Charles.

She saw a Devourer. Its hands were outstretched over the wires connecting the lights. In the haze, the stone angel looked like it was blessing the wires. The light shone down at Spry, making it hard to even keep her eyes open.

"Stay still. Don't even--" started Grandfather Paradox.

Spry blinked.

A snap, like wires being ripped out of their sockets, echoed down the room.

Then, the whole room was covered in darkness. Tentacles of Shadow unfurled from her heart, and licked at the darkness in the room. Spry could taste the Sweet blackness, and pushed her Shadow self further. She could sense Eames, scared and ready to fight, Mother Andy, confused; and Charles, his eyes wide in horror, even Grandfather Paradox, as unreadable as ever.

Then she tasted the other creatures in the room. She had been expecting stone angels. Instead she felt daemons.

The Devourers had become large, so large, so massive. Their edges contained edges, pieces of darkness writ large across the fabric of reality. Shadows covered them, but even that their forms covered.The darkness seemed to disappear around them, but wasn't replaced with light. It was replaced with nothing.

These monsters weren't made of matter. They were made of stolen history. A school teacher's dream to travel, a Christian woman's unrequited love for her neighbor, a homeless man's rags-to-riches story. These pieces of History stuck to them, and they absorbed all that potential, and it covered them like a cloak, or like how black wings cover an archangel. These defilers of History hungered after life potential, listed after it, craved to suck it dry, like leeches.

And then Spry realized that she was only looking at one small piece of one Angel.

"What have I done?" asked Spry.

Then an ear-splitting sound rang through the air. Spry guessed they had started laughing again. Without anyone looking at them, they were free to laugh up a storm.

"What was the question they asked you?" demanded Mother Andy. Spry could imagine the anger on her face, and taste the fear in her shadow."Damn you Grandfather, what was the question?"

And then the Devourers of History moved. Just before Spry felt them touch her skin, and violate her timeline, she had one thought.

"Please don't hurt Eames. Just not him."

30 seconds later, the emergency lighting snapped on. Grandfather Paradox stood alone. No Devourers surrounded him. Indeed, they had all gone.

"Andy? Spry? Eames?" He said. He turned around, his dirty coat flapping about him.

"Who?" asked Mother Derrida. She had no memory of seeing any of those members.

"Where did they go?" asked Grandfather Paradox.

"They've never been here," explained the Mother. The Cousins around them were staring in confusion.

"Ah," said Grandfather. Derrida caught a look at his eyes, underneath the trademark bone mask, and the sadness chilled her bones.

"When will the Weeping Angel's arrive?" asked a Cousin, impatiently.

"They're did. I gave my reply to their offer, and it appears to have upset them," said Grandfather.

"Will there be any, Um, reprisal?" said Derrida.

"You mean revenge? Oh, they've already done that," said Grandfather. He shook his head, and brushed his jacket off with his arm.

"What does that mean for us?" said Derrida.

"Do you have any recollection of Mother Andy? " asked Grandfather.

"No."

"It means nothing, then."

"If they were taken out of History, then can't we just bring them back? Shouldn't be too hard. Also, why aren't you affected?" asked Cousin Freya.

"Who's to say I wasn't affected?"asked Grandfather Paradox. His smile twinkled underneath his mask.

Mother Derrida blinked.

Grandfather Paradox was gone.