Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or any associated characters.
Warning: This story contains descriptions of forensic archaeology and implications of character abuse and death.
There's a story that gets told in the villages of the Toubou people of the Tibesti Mountains. Late at night, as the millet porridge boils over the fire and the lonely depths of the arid slopes are hidden by a blanket of stars, that is the time when the stories are told. When the goats and camel herds settle to sleep, if the wind howls just so, a herdsmen will say, "it is the sound of the Jinni's Bride weeping, crying on the night she was forced into marriage."
"No, she was not his bride. She was his daughter, who ran away from where he kept her imprisoned. Then she was married by a Toubou warrior," an old mama will say.
"You are mistaken!" cries another. "I heard she was his Kamaja, his captured slave, stolen from the people's of the far, far south and carried from her clan. She weeps these nights for the home of her father which she has never seen again."
"There are many stories," says the herdsmen, "But all the stories agree on this: On the night the Desert Jinni claimed her, she wept so hard that the sound of her sobs pierced the very rock of the canyons carved through these mountains."
"Yes. To that we can agree for we have all heard the sound of her sorrow whenever the wind is fierce. The walls remember, though the Toubou may not, why the Jinni's Bride wept."
Chapter 1: Peabody
Dr. Peabody hung his head in his hands and pulled his mug of coffee a little closer to him. Now lukewarm, it lost some of its initial appeal, but he took a long draught of it anyway. He pulled the pencil out from behind his ear, pushed his glasses further up his nose, and stared at the data report from the lab for a fourth time. In the bright light of his LED lamp, he could clearly read the results, he simply had a hard time believing them.
When he had received the call, two months earlier, about the discovery of what was presumed to be a mass grave buried under the constantly shifting sands of the Sahara, deep in Borkou region of Chad, he thought he was prepared. His knowledge of forensic archaeology brought him to sites ranging from old Danish battlefields from two thousand years ago to Civil War cemeteries in Georgia to consulting on more recent finds such as the 2216 genocide in Nigeria and the ethnic conflicts in Yemen. Bones tell stories-both of life and death and he saw himself as a kind of translator. He saw himself as not only unearthing artifacts, but stories. He brought old tales into a second life for a new audience.
He had not been prepared for what he found isolated deep in the desert, a few hundred kilometers north east of the tiny air strip of Koro-Toro. While this region had for thousands of years been inhabited predominately by semi-nomadic pastoralist herders, even they preferred to stay close to the oases with their date palms or the cooler climes of the Tibesti Mountains in the north. However, with the groundbreaking new technology with hydroponic gardening and water germination plants, the world's deserts had overnight turned into the next agricultural haven and the new frontier for human settlement.
As populations encroached ever further into the previously isolated wildernesses of what had once been nearly uninhabitable lands, sometimes discoveries were made. A construction crew breaking ground for a new commercial farming venture were puzzled when initial excavations revealed two hundred year old solar panels deep beneath the sands. This grew to morbid curiosity when further investigations revealed not just one but dozens of mass graves.
Authorities were notified and, as investigations continued, it became clear that this was not what they expected. Instead of the victims of old the genocide in Darfur, border conflicts with Libya, casualties of inter-tribal skirmishes, or an old Toubou burial ground, they soon discerned this was something else entirely. That was when Dr. Peabody received a call.
He came the next week. He cursed out loud when he descended onto the runway and into the blazing 115 degree heat of the desert sun. He pulled his hat out of his backpack and rubbed his handkerchief over the sweat trailing down his forehead.
A large solar-powered truck met him at the runway. A man who looked to be in his late 60's opened the door and greeted him warmly. Hair that was once black was quickly losing the battle to gray. Deeply lined grooves in his face showed long years spent working in the sun. Dark eyes met his own and offered calloused hands to shake his.
"I am Dr. Abdi Al-Ibrahim, director of forensic archaeology at the University of Cairo," he said. "Please, call me Abdi. You are most welcome here in Chad."
"Dr. Howard Peabody, Boston University. Call me Peabody. That's what I go by most. How long have you been here?"
"I was summoned directly after they discovered the first burial," Abdi replied.
"Good. You can fill me in on what you've found," Peabody replied.
It took nearly three hours to drive to the site. Despite the freshly tarmacked road that had recently been built to connect the growing airport to what had become the third largest city in Borkou, travel still proved cumbersome. Now dotted every few miles with farms and small towns, a century ago, this expanse of the Sahara had been sparsely inhabited and only by a few nomadic herders who passed through on occasion. At the time of operation, their site had been isolated and disconnected from any human settlement by miles of empty desert. Not even a palm tree or acacia tree broke through the visage of naked rock and burning sand dunes.
"The Chadian crew helping to excavate the site now calls it Barzakh, an Arabic word meaning the place between the dead and the living. The name as stuck. Original records from the time of purchase give Masen Edwards as the owner but give very little information other than he bought this plot of land in cash in May of 2060," Abdi said as they neared the underground fortress.
At first, all Peabody could see was the endless miles of rolling, shifting sand. Then they crossed between two large dunes and nestled between, he caught sight of a little gathering of white tents, jeeps, and supplies. As they drew nearer, he could see behind the tents to where a few dozen solar panels drank in the power of the sun like sunflowers in the desert. The solar panels were so large that all of them combined could cover the length of a football field.
Noticing his gaze, Abdi nodded toward the panels and gave Peabody a wide-toothed grin. "The solar panels are still as effective as the day they were made, though we had to replace a few of the light bulbs." He rubbed his hands through his grey-black beard and nodded his head toward the sun. "They have not seen the sun in decades, and yet they had stored enough energy in their batteries to power a small city for weeks. Whoever the bugger was who designed this place, he had money…and connections. This level of technology was not available to the public for at least 60 years after this place got them, or so we assume, based on the dated records we can find.
"The security system he rigged, too, it was more state-of-the-art than anything that could be found north of the Sahara for at least a century. He upgraded it multiple times during his tenure and what remains of the walls show he didn't want anyone out or in his little fortress here," Abdi said. "Come on. I'll show you around."
They emerged from their vehicle and a blast of furnace-like air raced across Peabody's face. He pulled his handkerchief out of his pocket and fruitlessly mopped at his forehead again. He nodded and followed Dr. Abdi al-Ibrahim through a series of white tents busy with the excavation crew and down into a tunnel that led them below ground. Here, tables filled each side of the rough walkway with tools, notepads, and maps. Abdi then led him to a thick metal door. He used the crowbar balanced against it to pry it open. It did so, but under a cranky metallic protest.
He flipped an archaic light switch on the wall and Dr. Peabody found himself in a brightly illuminated, cavernous underground vault, lined on either side with glass enclosures. A few dozen cabinets hung slightly ajar, cobwebs dripping from their frames to meet the metallic tables and counters nearby them. Test tubes, Bunsen burners, ancient computers, and other scientific equipment so old he had only seen them in museums poured out of desks, cupboards, and tables around the room.
"Unlicensed medical experimentation?" Peabody mused as he looked over the lab. "Someone wished to test something without questions being raised?"
"It is possible. We have not rejected the hypothesis," Abdi replied grimly. "Come. There is more."
Abdi took him through tunnel after tunnel. Some dark and ill-lit, some as bright as day and decorated with fine art and elaborate furniture. A large kitchen sat next to a dining hall that could sit up to 30 at a time. Evidence of old meals still remained. Old cans of food sat unopened in a cupboard, bottles of water stood stacked against a pantry closet. A trash can was half full of what appeared to be rotten organic waste matter, a broken cup, and emptied bags of stored human blood.
The underground facility stretched even further beneath the desert, protecting it from the heat of the sun and the eyes of discovery. They approached what appeared to be a set of barracks made up of four bunks a room with a simple bathroom shared by all. These showed slight evidence of human habitation, but minimal-some graffiti carved into a rock wall showing a series of geometric shapes, a pile of rags woven into some kind of round imitation of art, and an empty bag that had once held potato chips.
"This is the final room we have managed to excavate," Abdi said. "There appears to be another wing still buried on the eastern side of the facility. We plan to begin excavations there within the week."
The rusted, smooth metal door scraped against the sandy floor as the Egyptian archaeologist pushed against it with his shoulder and grunted. He punched at another light switch and Peabody almost laughed at the unexpected golden opulence that met his eyes.
A tall, canopied metal bed sat draped in golden curtains and sheets in the center of a room painted ivory with black trim. A closet opened on one side of the room to reveal clothes-men's clothes. A golden couch lay beneath a large abstract oil painting. A grand piano filled the western portion of the room entirely. The northern wall of the room housed shelf after shelf of colorful objects and a large black mess of electronics.
"What is this?" Peabody asked as he pulled down one square object from the wall. A smiling face holding a guitar stared back at him. "Music?"
"Indeed," replied Abdi. "Records, cassette tapes, CDs, and finally some kind of digital music device. I think one of my historical technology experts called it an IPOD. The music here ranges from the early part of the twentieth century until the mid twenty first century. We have found music for every decade until 2173. We found some receipts and cast off papers which correlate with this date as the cessation of functions of this outpost."
"Nearly 75 years ago."
"Have you determined how long it was operational for?"
"We have yet to prove it, but based on carbon readings on the skeletons, evolution of technology used in the lab and the security system, and remnants of food stuffs and supplies, we believe it was in operation nearly a hundred years."
Dr. Peabody ran his hands through his grey and white hair. He needed a haircut but had neglected it in his haste to arrange his travel to N'Djamena. He sighed and ran one finger through the thick sand coating the night stand and watched as a thick trail followed his finger.
"Another thing. Through that door there," Abdi said and pointed to a slightly ajar door in the southern wall. "There is a bath and shower, but no toilet. It is the only facility for bathing we have found. The barracks give toilets and sinks, but not baths."
"Interesting," Peabody replied.
"We assume water was delivered from some source, along with food and other necessities. We estimate that during the time this facility was operational, the nearest town was Koro-Toro, which, at the time, was not much of a town. Even that must have been a six hour drive south west of us here now-though with the road and vehicle construction of the era, it might have been closer to 8-10 hours north."
"Fascinating," Peabody said. "Any evidence of religious artifacts?"
"Not a single one. If this was the sight of a cult, it does not appear to have been organized around any obvious religious beliefs. We have not ruled out the hypothesis yet."
"And the graves?" Peabody asked.
"They were all found outside the facility in the grounds between the bunker and the security walls. The graves contain between one to as many as five individuals per grave. However, the number of graves is what caught our attention and had you brought in. So far, we've found over 750 bodies and we have not completed our excavation. We believe there are more.
"Another thing that has raised eyebrows are the demographics of the bodies. Every single individual is female, about the same size, and about the same age-somewhere between 15 and 25. They all have a similar color of hair, though of varying lengths, and similar facial features. Then there is the manner of burial. They were buried at different times, but there is no order to it. There are no grave goods, no evidence of clothing, nothing except a metal tag with a number strapped on each ankle. In a hot, dry climate like this, it appears we have unearthed hundreds of naturally formed mummies."
Peabody whistled. "Serial killer?" he asked.
"It's another possibility," Abdi said. "I am afraid each day we unearth more questions and less answers."
For two weeks, Peabody combed through the data, seeking to write the story of what exactly happened here in Barzakh. The crew continued to excavate, more graves were discovered, and Dr. Peabody ran analyses of all the bodies unearthed.
His examinations of the now 867 women exhumed from the graves around the bunker led to a number of startling similarities. For one, all the women shared exceedingly thin leg and arm bones and a corresponding limited buildup of muscular attachments. He had seen this before, but only in individuals suffering from some kind of paralysis or lack of mobility. This led him to assume that none of these women could so much as walk, let alone ever worked. While the bones themselves showed no obvious abnormalities or disfigurements, he still did not believe any had gained a full range of motion.
Another strange similarity was the lack of scarring, pathologies, or wounds. None of them had so much as a cavity or a broken wrist. Their pelvises showed no evidence of parturition scarring from childbirth. Some skeletons revealed evidence of trauma at time of death, such as broken and unhealed femurs or necks, but none carried old injuries.
The lack of wear on their teeth led him to believe these also were barely used during their lifetimes. In his analysis of the isotopic signature on their teeth, he found limited identification markers, and the traces he found were unusually weak for any human skeleton, let alone an adult. However, the isotopic signatures he found were consistent with women living in northern Chad and drinking the well water available in the region. However, their bone structure, skin color, and hair showed them to be of European descent. DNA analyses confirmed this.
It was the DNA analyses which confounded him completely. Now, as he sat at his table, coffee in hand and rubbed at his temples, it was apparent that this was something different than any of the research team working on this dig had anticipated. As he combed through the data his scans provided, he thought there must have been a mistake and ran them all again. The second time and the third time, the results mimicked the first. The data was conclusive. These women were not only relatives, but they were all the same. Exactly the same. More identical than identical twins. If he did not have the evidence of over a hundred distinct skulls staring at him from his perch in the air-conditioned storage room-turned-lab, he would have assumed the report all came from a single skeleton.
"Abdi, get your ass over here," Peabody shouted into his phone, spilling his coffee down his shirt in the process. "I've found something you gotta see."
Research continued. Radiocarbon dating of the bodies gave Peabody an approximate timeline for their deaths. The graves on the southern side of the facility proved more carefully constructed and the bodies placed deeper and with more care to positioning. Dating showed these to be the earliest burials and their deaths occurred from the 2080's onwards, only a few decades after the bunker was built and became operational. For the first two decades, they ranged from one to two a year.
After this period, burials moved to the western side of the facility and were shallower and the bodies placed within less carefully. For the next four decades, burials increased to approximately ten to twelve a year.
The northern side of the facility showed another marked change in burials. For one, the graves contained anywhere from one to three bodies. For another, these bodies showed more signs of trauma at time of death. Previous burials showed some bone breakage, but only limited and the majority of skin injuries on the mummies were limited to puncture wounds around major arteries. These graves revealed greater violence at time of death and less pristinely preserved mummified remains.
Two weeks later, after the excavation crew successful completed the eastern quadrant, the body count moved up to 1256. As Peabody catalogued the most recent finds, his face grew more and more grim. These proved to be the most recent burials, all the way until the 2170's. They also grew exponentially larger, more frequent, and, for lack of a better word, more "inventive" than the others.
Nearly a hundred carried trace amounts of various chemical compounds in their hair and skin, though the same pharmaceutical compound was rarely used twice. A few dozen poorly preserved remains were covered in thick, grey wax which Peabody attributed to adipocere, or "corpse wax". While the previous women all appeared to be of roughly similar body compositions, these showed signs of morbid obesity. While their limbs received no more weight bearing than their counterparts, their teeth were riddled with decay and provided greater traces of isotopes.
Another series of single graves revealed six women who died in the later stages of pregnancy. Peabody's analyses of the fetuses revealed each woman carried three to five within her, each with a unique set of DNA unrelated to either the mother or any of the other fetuses. There was no evidence of infant or child burials and no evidence of mothers who died after childbirth. Peabody added "experimentation with in vitro fertilization" to his ever growing list of dubious activities that occurred at the facility.
"You need to come see this," Abdi told Peabody over his phone. "We've opened another door in the eastern wing."
"I'll be right there," Peabody said. He quickly threw the rest of his sandwich back into the mini fridge of the lab and took another gulp of his soda. He ran through the halls of the underground fortress, past Chadian crewmen in white turbans who bustled past him carrying tools and machinery.
He made his way through the dimly lit tunnel of the eastern wing past the last door he had entered with Dr. al-Ibrahim.
"Ah! There you are!" Abdi said and clapped him on the back, leaving a trail of fine dust down his navy shirt. "Come!"
The short, bearded man ushered him through another metal door, previously buried behind what had felt like oceans of fine desert sand. Peabody covered his face with his scarf to avoid coughing from the billowing fine dust clinging to the air and entered after.
Inside, a small bedroom housed a single bed with a purple bedspread over it. A painting of sunflowers hung above it. A rocking chair sat nearby, covered in layers of the fine sand which had managed to sneak under the tight metal door. A mirror, washbasin, and set of hairbrushes sat on a chest of drawers which, when opened, revealed women's clothes.
"This is not what I was expecting," Peabody said as he took in the room.
"Nor I," said Abdi. "Notice the clothing? It is Chadian in style whereas the clothing in the master suite is decidedly not Chadian. Those clothes were of expensive make, mostly of European or American origin. These are simple peasant clothes-except for the jewelry and these dresses in that closet."
Abdi walked to a sliding door which, when opened, revealed a row of clothing hanging from a rod. "Here you find finely made evening gowns made by an Italian designer of the mid twenty-first century. In a pretty jewelry box on the floor, you will see diamond, gold, sapphire, and ruby jewelry. An inscription on a gold plate on the jewelry box lid says, 'To My Bella, My Love, My Life.'"
Peabody pulled on some plastic gloves and joined Abdi in perusing the closet. While some garments had decayed and bore marks created by age and gravity, many looked barely worn and in impeccable condition. Abdi directed his attention to the small bed and he pulled the blankets away to reveal the mattress beneath.
"The mattress is worn," he said. "And the indentation matches the shape and size of the women from the burials. Some strands of the same dark brown hair are still on the pillow. Beneath the mattress, we found something else of note."
"A photograph," he said and pulled them out of a folder, now wrapped in plastic.
Peabody took the photograph in his gloved fingers and his eyes grew wide. In it, a pale woman with brown eyes, a gold nose ring, and her head covered with a worn red and black hijab, held a newborn baby in her arms. A Chadian man posed beside them, a wide, gapped-tooth smile on his weather-worn face, wearing the white turban and robes of the Toubou pastoralists found in the region.
"She looks exactly like the women in the burials," Peabody said with a whistle.
"Indeed. Dating of the comforter, clothes, and hair follicles found in here give an approximate date of between 2150 and 2170, only a few years before operations ceased."
"Well, that certainly doesn't clear up any mysteries," Peabody replied.
The next small room the crew excavated revealed it to be a tomb and not lodging, research, or storage facilities like the others they had come across. It was set up like a bedroom in a home. Light blue walls led to peaked ceilings. Pale yellow curtains lay over a faux window, behind which lay paintings of pine trees. An ancient computer, maybe a century older then ones found in the lab, sat on a simple desk. A bookshelf revealed old British literature classics. A rocking chair and bed, both strikingly similar to the ones found in what they now referred to as the "Toubou woman's room."
The bed, however, was entombed with glass and within lay what appeared to be a sleeping girl, her brown hair lay in wild tangles against her pillow, and her eyes were closed in an expression of serenity. She wore a long, dark blue dress trimmed with lace. Diamond rings sparked from her fingers, hands, and around her neck.
Written in gold lettering on a marble plaque attached to the glass lay the words, "My Bella, My Love, My Life."
Encircling the uppermost portions of the walls, a series of 8"x10" photographs in matching frames gave the progression of a baby into near womanhood. The same brown hair and heart shaped face grew a little older in each photograph.
Abdi's scans of the contents of the room showed most to be from the late twentieth century, except for the woman's dress. This was around a hundred years older. In addition, this was not the well-preserved body but a carefully created death mask formed of wax that was placed over her skeletal remains.
Peabody's analysis of the remains showed she was unique from all the others. Her bones had broken and healed. She had broken her arm, her leg, experienced multiple concussions on her head, a deep laceration on her femur and a slight fracture in the wrist. All these healed. Her musculature, while obviously not those of an athlete or soldier or construction worker, showed her to be a woman who walked and ran, played and worked. She lived an active but not strenuous life with an adequate diet of healthy foods. Her teeth, also, set her apart. Not simply for the two fillings and slight crack in a third or the regular wear and tear expected of someone her age. No, the isotopic analysis of her teeth revealed she grew up in North America, specifically in Arizona.
This was a skeleton of a woman who lived, who grew- a normal person, in stark contrast to the others. This was a woman who also died. The cracked and unhealed bones in her neck revealed she died of a broken neck at approximately 17 years of age.
Peabody's assistant at Boston University was able to use facial recognition scans to match the photographs with an identity.
"She's a match with an Isabella Marie Swan. She was born in 1987 in rural Washington, U.S.A. and died in the same town in 2004, of what was declared a suicide by authorities. A written note was discovered the week she first returned to her father's house after her mother's remarriage. She never returned home from her first day of school. Authorities never recovered a body," Jim told Peabody over the phone.
In further examination of the "Man's Suite," as they had come to call it, disturbances in floor tiling led a curious worker to discover another burial. Directly beside the bed, in a shallow grave, and a single skeleton lay carefully positioned, wearing Touboun traditional clothes, and surrounded by grave goods and dried flowers.
"This is different," Abdi remarked dryly as he cataloged the find. A photographer flashed 3D imagery of the grave while Peabody stared at the skeleton in awe.
"No kidding," Peabody replied. "Look! She has a gold nose ring," he said and pointed below the skull to where the fallen decoration lay.
"It's the Toubou woman!?" Abdi stated, both a question and an answer in his tone.
"I wonder why she got to be buried in her clothes," Peabody remarked. The decayed remnants of a long black, red, and yellow dress wilted around the figure, though a wide tear ran down the center that most likely did not occur by natural decomposition. A handmade beaded necklace hung from her neck and traditional Touboun hair adornments were tangled in the remnants of her brown hair. The grey head scarf had since fallen away from the body.
"She's missing her ankle tag!" Peabody observed. "Did she remove it or did she never have one?"
"Dried roses?" Abdi exclaimed as he took in the flowers surrounding the prone figure. "The nearest roses that can be found here are in the capital, even now. These traveled far to get here."
A plaque lay at her head. "My Bella, My Love, My Life," was written with what appeared to be a metal soldering iron into a piece of metal which had once been the door of a cabinet
When Peabody was finally able to have his turn cataloging the skeleton, he could barely contain his excitement. He carefully ran tests over the body and, as new discoveries were made, shouted over his shoulder at whichever crew member or intern happened to be in the room with him at the time.
"She's in her late thirties or early forties!" Peabody exclaimed as he analyzed her teeth, skull, sternum, and pelvis. "She's the oldest of them all! And look-this woman pounded millet! She broke a finger. She walked and carried heavy objects and bore weight on her head."
The discoveries continued. She was missing three teeth and two more had untreated cavities. Her body showed signs of chronic malnutrition. The scarring in the soft tissue of the cartilage of her pelvis led Peabody to believe they were recent marks of childbirth. Eight ribs were broken, though three were in the process of healing at time of death. Her pelvis was also broken near the time of death, which occurred near the end of the 2170's, not long before the fortress ceased all operations.
It took another month to complete their excavation of the bunker. When enough sand had been removed from the adjoining hallway that the door to the last room of the east wing could be pried open, the crew digging through the sand took one look and fled the scene, declaring it to be cursed.
Al-Ibrahim and Peabody came as soon as they received the call. Panting and out of breath, the middle-aged men gave each other sideways glances before they, too, peeked their heads behind the door and into the final room of the underground bunker.
"Well, I suppose now we know why the burial stopped," Peabody said. He pulled his handkerchief out of his pocket and mopped his face off with it.
"It's a bloody mess, that's what it is," Al-Ibrahim replied, bushy eyebrows pursed tightly over troubled eyes.
A room the size of the medical lab lay before them. In structure and composition, the rooms were very similar. Where they differed was in their current appearance. This room was a blackened, charcoal wreck. A fire, hot and fierce, had twisted the metal support beams, collapsing the roof in on itself, melted the floor and incinerated all within to ash and dust and bits of bone. They could see, between melted and scorched metal tables, charred human remains lay. Empty, blacked cans of kerosene lay in one corner.
Ten more individuals were identified among the wreckage, though not enough remained for more in-depth analysis.
The archaeologists, in their final report, declared it the work of a team of deranged medical researchers who performed illegal and unethical experimentation with human clones and disposed of them after they had served their purpose. They assumed that they funded their research with profit made in black market trade in organs and stem cells, but they could never prove their allegation.
They never did manage to identify the owners of the establishment. No further record of Masen Edwards, or any others, could be traced. They declared the team either died in the final laboratory fire or escaped and started over life with a new identity.
Yet, both archaeologists knew their conclusions were wrong. Until the final month of excavation, they fully believed what they wrote in their report. However, the late discoveries of the "Washington Girl" and the "Toubou Woman" threw the entire hypothesis into question. Without more explanations, they preferred to hold to, at least in public, what they wrote in their report.
In private, whenever the colleagues spoke or collaborated again in the future, they would sometimes voice in hushed tones their real suspicions.
"In Barzakh, we only saw the remnants of a much darker story."
So, you know that time in the movie when Edward says to Bella, "You're like my own personal brand of heroin"? Yeah, that line is what created this story. I'm going to play around with that idea a bit.
Please note: I am neither a forensic anthropologist nor an expert on the Toubou. If any of you, dear readers, catch and error, I'd appreciate the corrections! FYI, the "legends" of the Toubou referred to here are purely my own creation and are in no way associated with the Toubou.
Update August 25, 2020: This story has been voted #10 Fic of the Year on A Different Forest and in the top 10 fics completed in May by visitors to Twifanfictionrecs. So fun to have so much support and encouragement on this story! Thanks so much to all you dear readers!