A Life Well Lived

 

By yearends, Akane, and delta7447

 

Previous ("Sisters"): https://omnipotent-girls.net/node/154

February 14, 2042

"So," said Britney, "eighteen. Feel any different?"

Jennifer walked beside her on the surface of a star billions of light-years from Earth. The heat was intense, the gravity crushing, and the atmosphere unbreathable, but Jennifer's omnipotence and Britney's reality warp kept both of them perfectly safe. "Not really. I mean, I was already a legal adult, as far as living on my own went anyway. I guess I can vote now. I could get a piercing or a tattoo without anyone else needing to sign off on it." Butterfly earrings appeared in her earlobes, while a small, moving tattoo of a young Jennifer running appeared on the back of her left hand. Suddenly the image vanished, only to reappear and move again, then vanish, and reappear.

Britney felt something on her right hand, and looked down to see herself freezing up as the tattoo-Jennifer latched onto the tattoo-Britney's leg.

"Only we can see those," said Jennifer, smiling.

"You could also buy a lottery ticket if you want," Britney pointed out.

"Not that I need the money. I'd probably make sure all the ones I buy are losing ones so that there's a better chance for everyone else."

Jennifer went on one knee and scooped up a bit of the star's matter. She took a bite. "Tastes like strawberry and caramel. Interesting combination. You should try some."

Britney had eaten stranger things on her excursions with Jen, and she'd never had any ill effects from those, so she picked up a bit of starstuff and took a lick as if it were ice cream. "Any chance you could make some of this stuff back at home?"

"Already got an ever-replenishing tub of it there," replied Jennifer.

"I guess, really, there's not too much more you can do at eighteen," said Britney. "A lot of the exciting stuff happens once you're nineteen, like booze."

"Well, there are a few other things, at least legally."

"A few, I guess," said Britney.

Jennifer's silence told her that her omnipotent "younger sister" had finally found something she wasn't about to discuss, at least not with the one person who was, in many ways, her only family in the world.

"Whenever you're ready."

Jennifer's small smile of gratitude was the only answer Britney expected.

June 1, 2042

"Why there?" asked Britney as Jennifer crooked a finger, making one letter of acceptance float towards her while the rest vanished. "You could have gone anywhere, and it's hardly the best school. I mean, you got into Nueva Caracas! Wouldn't that be much more convenient, given your responsibilities with Paula? Or, if you don't like that, you could go anywhere in Prosperia and be closer to your parents."

"I'd rather stay local. It's hardly any inconvenience to send a body anywhere I like, after all."

"And why go to university at all? Don't you already know all that stuff?"

Jennifer mimicked the voice of a character from an old cartoon. "'There's a time and a place for everything, and it's called college.'"

"And just what sort of 'everything' are you talking, here?"

"Oh, you know. Sex. Drugs."

"Rock and roll?" Britney put in.

"Maybe, but mostly more sex, more drugs, and using my powers to make the sex and drugs even better."

"Can you even get high?"

"If I want to. I think."

"Isn't that, well, kinda unsafe for someone who could delete the universe with a thought?"

"I'll make sure to block myself off from most of my powers when I do."

"And what if your drug-addled brain decides that it would very much like to have access to all those powers?"

"Don't worry. Automatic switch, as soon as I'm impaired beyond a certain point I can't even remember that I have them."

Britney sighed. Raising an omnipotent Goddess had been hard enough. Living with her now that she was going to be a stereotypical university student didn't promise to be any easier.

October 20, 2042

"Well, that was a rush," said Jennifer, stepping into the living room of the house she still shared with Britney.

"What was?" asked Britney, easily able to focus on chatting with Jennifer while batting in the baseball postseason.

"Blowing up a planet," the omnipotent teenager replied, shrugging.

"What?"

"Yeah. Mostly to see if I could, and anyway university's boring."

"You already knew that you could."

"OK, so I wanted to have a little fun. What's wrong with having a little fun?"

"Because for those of us without infinite power, 'a little fun' is going bowling, or seeing a movie, not blowing up planets! If you want to know what it's like to be normal, you could try doing what we do for recreation instead of just indulging your own whims on helpless planets."

"But I don't really want to be normal. If I wanted that, I wouldn't have been using my powers all through school. I just wanted to go through the stuff that normal kids do, not lower myself to their level."

"So you're above us, then?"

"I don't really like to say it, but, well, yes. It's an inescapable fact that I have infinite power, and most people don't. I don't want to just impose my will on everyone else, but at the same time absolutely nobody can impose their will on me."

"But imposing your will on other planets is just fine?"

"Not if they're inhabited."

"So I take it this one wasn't."

"Of course not."

"Was it ever inhabited, or could it be in the future?"

"No, and almost certainly not. I did some math based on the current state of the universe, and I estimated a one in a googolplex to the googolplex to the googolplex probability that it could ever establish even the most basic precursors to self-replicating molecules."

"Well, are you going to restore it then?"

"What?"

"That's not a zero percent chance. And besides, what about the planet's gravity? Removing that suddenly, dispersing it into pieces that will eventually fly apart, would impact the gravitational field."

"Fine, fine." Jennifer snapped her fingers and she and Britney were floating in space.

"The remnants of BD+20549B," said Jennifer, "the largest rocky planet in the universe."

"How big was it?" asked Britney, able to vocalize normally despite being in hard vacuum.

"About sixteen times bigger than Earth." Jennifer started to twirl her index finger. "And now..."

A vortex formed right where the planet's centre would have been had Jennifer not destroyed it. The pieces of the destroyed planet were sucked in, fitting back together perfectly, and in moments the planet was restored.

"Exactly as if it had never been destroyed in the first place," said Jennifer with a satisfied smile.

"But what about all the effects in between when you destroyed it and right now?"

"Fine," said Jennifer, pointing toward the precise centre of the planet. "I reached back in time and put a point mass right where the planet was and negated the gravitational effects of the pieces, okay? Same with anything else affected. Now will you just let me have my fun?"

January 20, 2043

"So that's what it looks like to see a Super Goddess be born," said Britney. "Honestly, I was expecting something a little more impressive."

"I did tell you that there wasn't really that much to it," Jennifer replied. "But she's so cute, isn't she? I hope my daughters are as cute as she is."

"If they're anything like you were when I met you, they'll be cuter."

February 18, 2043

"What the hell were you thinking, Jen?" Britney screamed.

"Trust me, she's much happier this way," Jennifer said calmly.

"You turned Jacques Larocque into a woman on live TV while the audience was busy fucking themselves silly and he's happier now?"

"She's much happier, yes," said Jennifer, emphasizing the pronoun. "I wouldn't have done it if she would have been happier as a man."

"Did you even ask?" demanded Britney.

"I didn't have to."

"So if I'd be happier as a man you'd just change me without asking me." Britney wasn't asking.

Jennifer wouldn't answer.

"We're not your playthings, we're not your experiments. Just because it'll make us happier doesn't mean you just get to do it, Jen."

"Look, what do you want me to say? He was nervous, I made her calmer and happier than she's ever been. The interview went off without a hitch--"

"Another hitch, you mean," Britney interrupted.

"--and it's already been viewed over a billion times online," finished Jennifer.

"I wonder how many of those are just to see you turn Jacques into Brigitte," Britney muttered.

Jennifer blushed.

"And what was with the 'mistress' thing? Did you alter her mind, too?"

"Side effect of the process," said Jennifer, shrugging.

"What process?"

"We call it Enhancement. Generally improves the subject in any number of ways, but it does tend to make them a little more subservient toward whichever of us did it."

"I'd say calling you 'mistress' on live TV, in that outfit, goes farther than just 'a little more subservient.' And anyway, are you going to change her back?"

"Only if she wants to. We talked about it afterward. She's happier this way, like I said. If she asks, I'll change her back."

"Would you undo the Enhancement?"

"If she wants."

"What about just the subservience?"

Jennifer was silent.

July 21, 2045

"I think I've found the perfect job for you," said Jennifer.

"I've already got a job," Britney pointed out, gesturing to her gigantic trophy case which only fit in her house because Jennifer had altered reality to make it larger inside than out.

"I mean after you retire." At Britney's look--both of them knew she could play for as long as she wanted--Jennifer added, "Look, you're already so good that there are some people who think I'm using my powers to help you cheat--"

"Well, you sort of did."

"--and so to avoid raising any more eyebrows, say by playing until you're seventy or something, you should probably start thinking about retiring soon."

"And why would I need a job after that? I've got more money than I know what to do with and all my investments are making near-miraculous returns."

"Because I think you'll like this one."

"Okay, what is it?"

"Marriage commissioner."

"What?"

"Look, how many people have you met, going around the world, playing on so many teams, coaching developmental teams, all that? How many people have you not only helped reach their potential in sports, but also find real happiness? I've seen you, Brit. I know you like that just as much as you like playing. Besides, I also know that you are, quite simply, getting just a bit tired of winning all the time."

Britney sighed. Knowing you couldn't lose did take some of the shine off of constantly winning.

"Why?"

"Well, for one, because I accidentally let a few too many pheromones out today and made a pair of random strangers fall madly in love with each other, and they really, really need to get married right about now, and I can get you a licence right now."

"Why don't you just do it?"

"Because I think you'd like it."

Britney sighed. "Okay, but on one condition: you let me be forgotten."

"What?"

"Let me be forgotten. If I'm going to do this after I retire, I don't want people coming up to me all the time asking for autographs and selfies and such. I just want people to let me be, once I'm done with fame."

"So you want me to erase your entire career?"

"No, I just don't want people associating 'Britney Atwater, greatest sportsperson of all time' with 'Britney Atwater, Toronto marriage commissioner'. Maybe I'll coach some kids some time, but it'll just be me doing some community work. And I don't want my winning streak rubbing off on them."

"Deal," said Jennifer, twisting the reality warp around Britney so that when she retired, she would have the relative anonymity she craved.

--

"I, Britney Atwater, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Marriage Act, do hereby pronounce you David Smith and Penelope Condon to be married."

Britney felt her body changing somehow as David and Penny kissed. Jennifer was smiling as the ceremony finished, and as their kiss started to become something decidedly more carnal, she waved a hand and they vanished.

"Where'd they go?" asked Britney.

"Oh, into a new house I just created for them."

Jennifer hadn't said anything particularly special, but her voice triggered something in Britney that hadn't been there before. She looked back at Jennifer.

It occurred to Britney that it hadn't really registered with her just how incredibly sexually attractive Jennifer had become. She'd been aware of it on an intellectual level, but now everything about the omnipotent young woman aroused her almost uncontrollably: her light brown hair, now down out of its ponytail; her face, completely flawless in its proportions; her breasts, round, full, and defying gravity as they sat bare and proud on her chest--and Britney realized both she and Jennifer were suddenly naked; her waist, trim and toned and showing just a little definition; her ass, the perfect counterbalance to her breasts; and her arms and legs, hairless and smooth and the perfect length to go with her sixty-six inches. And her pussy, her perfect pussy, which demanded that Britney get on her knees and begin pleasuring her--Britney realized that she couldn't help but think the word--mistress.

Jennifer, realizing Britney's intention, and despite her own instincts screaming for her to allow it, held up a hand. "No." She paused, then continued, "I'm sorry, Britney. I'm so sorry."

The unexpected apology jolted Britney out of her own haze of sexual arousal. "Why?"

"Because I never intended this. I never wanted this. But ultimately I couldn't overcome who I am."

"What do you mean?" asked Britney.

"Look at yourself." Jennifer created a huge mirror facing Britney, and the middle-aged woman looked to see that she now had a body not unlike the one she'd just admired.

"What the hell, Jennifer?"

"It's my pheromones," the omnipotent twenty-one-year-old explained. "That's what happened with David and Penny. We Super Goddesses have all sorts of powers that just work passively, which we have to actively desire to turn off. We can see the future almost perfectly, for instance, but we generally don't. Our telepathy encompasses the entire universe, and apart from how quantum uncertainty constrains even us we generally keep that on, so that at least we know what's going on in the present. In theory, if anyone touched one of us, they'd be almost instantly absorbed and become part of our own biomass--not that we really need it, being able to create and destroy matter at a whim--and be effectively erased from existence, so we generally keep that one off. But most importantly, we constantly produce powerful pheromones which keep both ourselves and those around us in a state of heightened sexual arousal, and also modify their bodies to become closer to the Super Goddess's ideal of physical attractiveness." She paused. "I only went to university because it would allow me to easily collect thousands of other young adults, all incredibly sexy and libidinous, to be part of my harem."

"Your WHAT?" Britney exclaimed.

"My harem. Most of us have one, or will. Most people in mine are just generally physically attractive and devoted to me. I sometimes bring on of them along to serve as a model for an art class I might teach. A few of them I've Enhanced, like Brigitte or Carol Tremblay."

"Carol? That chess prodigy you introduced me to a few years ago? I didn't see anything particularly notable about her. She just seemed like your typical quiet, mousy nerd, honestly."

"That's because I was trying to hide all this from you. I wasn't sure how you'd react, and I was more than happy to live one life with you--for as long as you wanted--and another basking in my status as, basically, a sex goddess."

"So why hadn't your pheromones changed me before this?"

"Because I didn't want them to. I wanted a normal relationship with you. You're the only person with whom I could have a normal relationship." Jennifer started to cry. "And now I've lost that."

"So what now?" asked Britney.

"Now," said Jennifer, "you're also part of my harem. And I never wanted it that way, but at this point I can't overcome my own nature. I want you, Britney. I need you. And I know you need me."

"Are you going to Enhance me?"

"No! Never that. I swear, never that. And I know that is a promise I can keep."

"How?"

"Because Enhancement requires a certain degree of intentionality on the part of the Super Goddess providing it. We can do it inadvertently, but it requires a full mental commitment. So long as I retain a single shred of desire to keep that promise, I cannot Enhance you."

Britney thought of another problem. "You know I can't be seen like this, not when I'm out being Britney Atwater, superstar athlete."

"And you won't be. The reality warp will ensure that. When you're out there being famous--for now--you'll have the body everyone knows."

"And when I'm out there being Britney Atwater, marriage commissioner?"

"You'll inspire a lot of great sex."

That was the last straw, and Jennifer and Britney fell into each other's arms, Jennifer managing to keep her concentration just long enough to teleport herself and Britney to the harem wing of the mansion Britney hadn't known Jennifer had to give her a proper introductory orgy.

July 8, 2046

Britney smiled as she sat down on stage with Brigitte, the World Cup trophy--which she had just won with Canada for a sixth straight time--on a low table between them. She was still wearing her playing jersey and shorts and hadn't even had a chance to hit the showers, but then that was the image everyone had come to associate with Britney Atwater--sweaty and disheveled, but victorious and ready to play again right away.

Even almost a year after Jennifer inadvertently brought Britney into her harem, she still wasn't all that comfortable with the idea that the young woman she'd raised from infancy now spent her days largely enjoying how she could use her omnipotence to have more and better sex, and that pretty much everyone else in her harem was perfectly happy to go along with whatever wacky idea Jennifer had. Gender changing was commonplace, with Jennifer having created a small room where you could walk in and walk out moments later with a body of the opposite sex. Mixing and matching genitalia was also normal, with plenty of people walking around with huge breasts, a gigantic penis, and a vagina begging to be fucked, though generally people had to ask Jennifer for those. Mythological creatures were also seen, be it well-hung centaurs, mermaids swimming around in one of the huge pools available, or even in the air, or lamias slithering around on long tails, sometimes with cocks at their tips--Jennifer apparently wasn't concerned about proper adherence to mythological groundings, especially since quite a few of the supposed lamias actually had male human halves. There was even one girl who would have passed for completely normal--if "normal" meant "fit to appear on the cover of any glamour or pornographic magazine"--if it weren't for the fact that she loved having prehensile dicks for hair.

All in all, Britney realized that pretty much everyone in Jennifer's harem was quite happy to be there. Jennifer ensured their families were well looked after, and let them visit when they wanted, and while she generally didn't let them stray too far from the mansion she did have prototype reality generators (or so she claimed; they seemed to Britney to be pretty much perfect) that they could use at any time to escape into a universe built to their specifications, where the user could be anything from an ordinary person living a regular life to an omnipotent deity interacting with their world as they saw fit. Britney did use that last setting quite a bit when she went in, to try to get some idea of what it was like to be as powerful as Jennifer, but she never did anything especially destructive to the universes she made, instead striving to act as she wished Jennifer would.

And, in the meantime, she'd taken the Enhanced Carol Tremblay and Brigitte Labelle under her wing, the two Enhanced young women more seeking her out for her experience in raising Jennifer than she sought them out. Compared to what Jennifer had promised them were their now-everlasting lives (a promise she had also made to Britney), the few years they'd been Enhanced were paltry, and they trusted that the person who had raised Jennifer and helped her throughout her experiences being omnipotent among normal humans could help them with their far smaller problems.

"Like, wow!" exclaimed Brigitte. "Six World Cups! Six! Now, I've felt pretty great before, but I have no idea what that is like! What is it like?"

"Like I just ran a marathon back and forth across a soccer field, with some gymnastics thrown in for good measure."

They both laughed.

"But where can you go, when you're already at the top? You hold every world record, you've won every championship! They'll have to make up new records just for you! Hell, you've even managed to make Canada and the US into Test nations in cricket! I had no idea what cricket even was twenty years ago!"

"Well, actually," said Britney, taking the captain's armband off and putting it next to the trophy, "I'm retiring."

They both let that hang in the air.

"Huh? Like, now?"

"Not quite," said Britney, "but at the end of the next major competition in each sport I'll be pretty much done. I'll compete for the last time at the 2052 Olympics, and then that's it. But I'm not going to play the World Cup in 2050."

Britney could almost hear the groans from everyone who realized it would be eight, or even ten, years before they'd have a chance to win Olympic gold.

"Oh, I, um... I see. So, where do you see Team Canada without you?" Brigitte asked. "I mean, the record books are just your name listed over and over now, but, before you came along... well..."

"We sucked?" Britney chuckled. "I think we'll be pretty good. I'm leaving behind some excellent players to take over. We've got great recruitment and development programs, good funding, and excellent domestic competitions. That's the recipe for success in sports. And keep in mind, I'm not eligible for all those age-restricted competitions, and we've done pretty well in those for the last decade or so."

"But," Brigitte said, coming back to the real question, "why now?"

"Because, quite honestly, there are other things I want to do with my life. I only ever intended to play intramural sports at university, honestly, for a bit of recreation. I never played before that. I guess I was just a natural and never knew it. But I've had my life on hold for too long."

"Well, Britney," said Brigitte, seeing her producer's signal that it was time for the interview to end, "I think everyone here will agree that you've made us all so unbelievably happy these last twenty years. On behalf of this amazing country of ours, I want to say, from the very bottom of my heart, thank you."

"No, thank you all, for giving me the chance to represent this wonderful country."

Britney left the stage so Brigitte could interview the player who was replacing Britney as team captain. As she walked into a secluded area, she felt her body shift from the athletic form she became famous with to the beauty-queen one she was starting to enjoy as part of Jennifer's harem, her sweaty, smelly jersey and shorts becoming the skimpy lingerie she tended to wear in Jennifer's mansion. Another step, and she realized Jennifer had warped reality, bringing her directly from the makeshift interview set to the harem wing.

But unlike the usual hustle and bustle, this time only Jennifer was there to greet her.

"So," said the omnipotent goddess.

"It's done," replied her mentor. "Just as we practiced."

"And in six years, you're all mine." Jennifer grinned.

"I'm already yours. I was always yours."

"In every way that mattered," agreed Jennifer, "and now in a few more."

Britney smiled and knelt to kiss her mistress.

February 14, 2054

"This is how you want to spend your thirtieth birthday, Jen?" asked Britney, a bit disbelievingly. "In a storefront on a side street almost nobody visits for a product anyone can get for free by flying to Japan? Besides, you've been open for a week and have had no customers--hardly surprising, since you've done no advertising. What makes you think that'll change now?"

"Shizuka's been subtly discouraging anyone from going to Japan just to get Enhanced," Jennifer pointed out. "And you and I both know that it's not necessarily the best thing to get Enhanced, which is why I don't offer it here. And as for why I think I'll get some customers today, that's because it's my birthday, and I want a nice birthday present of my first customer." Jennifer smiled and, right on cue, a prospective customer walked in.

You knew she was coming, didn't you? Britney groused telepathically.

I might've focused a little more on my knowledge of who was on the street outside, admitted Jennifer.

"Hi, welcome to Jennifer's Body Boutique!" said Jennifer at the same time as she was replying to Britney.

"Hi," the young woman said, timidly.

Jennifer stood behind the counter and waited, giving her first customer her most brilliant smile.

"So, um... what is it you do here, exactly?"

"We turn the outer you into the inner you," said Jennifer, repeating the canned slogan she'd come up with when she got the idea to commercialize Shizuka's Enhancement Centres. "You can either use one of my self-service body modification booths over there"--Jennifer gestured to her right--"or have a personal consultation with me in my office over there, no appointment necessary." Jennifer gestured to her left. "I'll do more extensive modifications with a personalized consultation than I let the booths do, but the consultation costs $100, while the booth is only $50. But for you, since you're my first customer, you can have a completely free consultation!"

The customer was clearly overwhelmed.

"Just let me get your name," said Jennifer, "and we'll get started, okay?"

"Um, Sarah. Sarah Pierce."

Jennifer snapped her fingers and a tablet appeared in Britney's hand. Sarah was obviously a bit taken aback at Jennifer's casual display of power--she'd known from the moment she walked in, of course, that she was in the same room as the Super Goddess Jennifer Martinette, but unlike in places like Prosperia or Japan, where M'Wela and Shizuka were adored public figures who'd used their powers to dramatically improve life for their people, Jennifer had kept a slightly lower profile in Toronto, not involving herself in any political matters, and so the locals weren't quite as familiar with just what sorts of things she could do than people in Prosperia or Japan were with their local Super Goddesses.

Britney looked down at the tablet. It contained a list of every possible vital statistic about Sarah as she was, from height to resting heart rate to the number of hair follicles on her body (broken down between the top of her head, her eyebrows, her eyelashes, and proceeding down from there).

As soon as the three entered Jennifer's office and the door closed, Britney felt a slight shift that she'd come to associate with Jennifer pulling a location out of reality in order to most easily manipulate time and ensure she could take as long as she wanted while a minimal amount of time passed in the real world. At the same time, Britney felt herself back in the entrance foyer of the store with Jennifer, waiting for another customer.

I won't actually be taking any notes, Britney projected toward Jennifer.

Not really, no. Just be ready to help her if she gets overwhelmed, Jennifer replied.

Once all three of them were comfortably seated in chairs that molded themselves to be perfect for whoever sat in them, Jennifer waved her hand and a perfect physical duplicate of Sarah appeared standing next to them.

"I can make changes on that copy of your body so you can see what it looks like before I put anything on you, okay?" said Jennifer. "And if you want to try any of the modifications yourself, I can put them on your body or put you in that body. And if you want to compare two possible changes, I can make another duplicate. Okay?"

"I... I guess," said Sarah, a bit overwhelmed that she was sitting in an office with Jennifer Martinette--scientist, artist, singer, omnipotent being--and could change her body exactly as she liked.

"So where do you want to start?" asked Jennifer. When Sarah didn't answer, still trying to figure out what she should ask for first--and how much she could really ask for, given that it was free--Jennifer added, "How about your eyes? Oh, and don't worry about asking for anything. I'm more inclined to throw in a little extra for my first customer."

"Um," said Sarah. "Okay. My eyes."

Sarah did start as Jennifer waved her hand again and a large, disembodied copy of Sarah's head floated next to her replica body.

"She just magnified it so you could see your eyes easily," said Britney, reaching over to give Sarah a comforting one-arm hug. "After all, we can't see at the same level of detail that she can." Warn her next time, Britney mentally shot toward Jennifer.

Sarah nodded weakly and turned back to the floating head.

"I guess, maybe," Sarah began hesitantly, "green?"

Immediately the brown irises changed to a brilliant green. Sarah looked between her huge face and her body, which also had green eyes, to see if she liked the look. "Can I see blue?"

The irises changed again, and Sarah thought for a moment.

"Don't feel limited by what normally occurs in humans," said Jennifer. "And don't think you can only change your iris. I'll remake your eyes however you like."

"Like how?" asked Sarah.

"Well, how about a red sclera, pink iris, and white pupil?" The eyes changed again to match Jennifer's description.

"Could I even see properly out of those?" asked Sarah. "And won't people find it weird?"

"Wouldn't be much use if you couldn't see with those," Jennifer pointed out. "Nor would it be all that useful if everyone looked at you like some freak. Any changes you make, I promise, everyone will just accept them as normal. No judgments, no condemnations. You'll still be the same Sarah Pierce, just with the body you want and not the one genetics gave you. You could have a third eye, for instance," and again the face changed as an eyelid opened in the centre of its forehead.

"I think," said Sarah, gaining a little more confidence now that she realized Jennifer was open to changes well beyond anything she'd ever thought possible, "that I'll stick with something more normal." The face reverted to the two blue eyes she had last requested. "But... maybe one blue, one green?" When the face didn't change, Sarah added, "Left eye blue, I guess."

Sensing that Sarah was satisfied with her eyes, Jennifer asked, "Anything else about your face? Maybe your nose, or your lips?"

"Well," said Sarah, "I'd like to see what I'd look like with higher cheekbones."

The duplicate's cheekbones lifted, and Sarah said, the face responding, "A little more, no, a touch lower, just a tiny bit higher... there."

"That is much better," said Britney with an approving nod. Sarah smiled, and her duplicate face did, too.

"I think I'm fine with my nose," said Sarah, "but maybe I could try slightly plumper lips?" The face changed again, and Sarah said, "Perfect."

"Anything else?" asked Jennifer. "Maybe your ears?"

Sarah smiled a bit. "Actually, yeah. I was always too afraid to get them pierced--not the pain, but the risk of infection--but I imagine you could do something about that?"

"No problem," said Jennifer. Immediately a pair of simple gold earrings appeared in the duplicate's earlobes. "Do you want rings, or studs, or maybe hoops?"

"Well," said Sarah, "I'm more worried about when I take them out."

"Don't worry about that. All my piercings automatically heal when there's nothing in them and reopen when you go to put something in."

Britney saw a quick look flash across Sarah's face that told her that the young woman was getting some ideas, and that was reinforced when she preempted Jennifer's next suggestion. "As for my hair," she said, gesturing at the plain brown mess that sat short on her head, "I've always wanted to try long Titian hair, but I could never use hair extensions."

"No problem. How long do you want it? I could do the shoulders, mid-back, ass, ankles, I could even have it trail behind you for a few feet if that's your thing."

"I'll go for mid-back, I think." The large head disappeared, and the model grew hair to the specified length.

"What about bangs?" asked Jennifer.

"I always liked the look of bangs that went all the way to the eyebrows, actually," said Sarah, opening up more. "And speaking of those, could you make those thicker, and the lashes, like I've got mascara on except that I don't?"

"How about we just make your face look like you've got makeup on so you'll never need it?" offered Jennifer.

Sarah and Jennifer spent a few minutes tweaking the specific details of blush and eyeshadow and lipstick. When Sarah couldn't decide on a lipstick colour, Jennifer offered to let her change it with a thought.

"Okay, how about the rest of the body?"

"Well, I'd like a little more muscle definition, lose some of the fat." Sarah blushed. "I know, a lot of that's my fault, I should eat better. But I'd love to have a body like yours." Jennifer preened just a bit at that, since she was wearing a microskirt and a sleeveless, midriff-baring top that only buttoned in one place across her huge breasts, with nothing underneath.

"Well the outer you can't become the inner you if the inner you both wants to be trim and overeat," said Jennifer. "So let's get rid of that excess fat and then I'll change your metabolism so that you won't put on any more, okay?"

"That'll cost me a fortune in food, though," Sarah pointed out.

"Nope, since I'm also making your body hyper-efficient in energy use. You could run an ultramarathon every day on just a glass of orange juice, but you could also eat a fast-food restaurant out of everything and not put on a single excess gram."

"Oh."

"Anything else?"

"Yeah. I hate shaving," said Sarah, looking enviously at Jennifer's perfectly smooth skin. "I'd just as soon all my body hair be gone."

"All of it?" asked Jennifer. "You're sure you don't want a bit in certain places?"

"All of it," said Sarah firmly.

The duplicate body was immediately completely hairless below the eyes.

"Also..." Sarah began, looking down at her hands.

"You can bring up anything, Sarah," said Britney. "Trust me, anything you can think of, Jennifer's thought of something far weirder."

"Well," said Sarah, lifting her hands from her thighs, "I'm, well, a compulsive nail-biter."

Don't even think about offering to alter her mind unless she asks for it, Jen, Britney warned mentally.

I only am now because you suggested it, Jennifer shot back.

"Could you remove that, maybe?" Sarah suggested anyway.

"Well, messing with someone's mind is always more dangerous than altering their body. Even I can't give a complete guarantee that I won't inadvertently change something else while I'm in there, and then change something trying to fix that, and so on. So I can try if you like, but I do have another suggestion."

Sarah's eyebrows went up slightly, and Jennifer continued. "What I can do is make your nails always grow back right away after you bite them. That way, you'll always have something to bite and you won't look like someone who bites her nails. The only question is how long you want them."

Sarah thought. "Maybe you can let me adjust the length--within reason, of course--but whenever I bite them off they revert to being, maybe, an eighth of an inch?"

"That works," agreed Jennifer. "How about six inches for a maximum length? Just in case you ever want to try it."

Sarah nodded.

Silence hung in the air, Sarah obviously not done but also too embarrassed to ask her next question.

"Let me guess," said Jennifer, "you want bigger boobs."

Sarah blushed scarlet.

"Nothing to be ashamed of," said Jennifer. She unbuttoned her top and let her own pair free. Britney quickly followed her lead, pulling off her crop top.

"They're just breasts," said Jennifer. "We've all got them, and you can have whatever sort you like."

"Um," was all Sarah managed to say.

"How about I'll just start making your duplicate's here bigger, and you hold up a hand when you want me to stop, okay?"

Sarah nodded, and the model's body's breasts began to inflate. They grew bigger until Sarah signaled a halt when they were, proportionately, the same size as Britney's pair, which would have made her easily the headline attraction on any big-bust website before more advanced virtual reality techniques allowed users to manipulate digital copies of models.

Sarah seemed to find her voice. "Now my ass just looks too small." Jennifer nodded in agreement and Sarah's butt firmed up and grew to match her other new endowments.

"Oh," Sarah continued, a thought occurring to her. "How am I going to carry those? I mean, those have got to be heavy."

"Don't worry about that," said Jennifer. "I've strengthened your muscles and such so that you'll never have a problem with that. You won't even need a bra if you don't want one."

"Okay. Thank you," said Sarah. "I guess there's only one part left, then..."

Britney heard Jennifer's mental sigh at Sarah's prudishness kicking in yet again.

"Your pussy?" said Jennifer, making her skirt and Britney's hotpants vanish with a thought, revealing theirs.

The scarlet began to creep down Sarah's neck.

"Well, first, are you sure you don't want any hair there? I can make sure it's confined and doesn't grow, but while I prefer the bald look, Britney is much more partial to a small landing strip."

"No," said Sarah, "I like it bald, too."

"Okay. I've taken the liberty of healing all the tiny little cuts you gave yourself while shaving over the years, if that's OK."

Sarah nodded. "So, could you maybe make it, um, more sensitive? And make my, er..." She gestured toward a certain area of Jennifer's exposed genitalia.

"Clit?" prompted Britney.

"Yeah. That. A little bigger, maybe?"

"Sure!" said Jennifer. "If you don't mind, so we can see the changes more easily?" Jennifer mimed taking off the duplicate body's clothes.

"I guess, since I've seen yours," said Sarah, but she still blushed a bit.

Sarah's copy was almost immediately nude, and they all looked as the changes occurred.

"Anything else?" asked Jennifer.

"Um," said Sarah, but she didn't blush. "Maybe, could you make my nipples bigger, and more sensitive?"

"How sensitive? I could put you at 'orgasm from nipple tweaks' sensitive if you want, but that might be a bit much."

"How about only when they're exposed?" suggested Sarah.

"Done," said Jennifer, and the model's nipples grew, standing out firm and erect.

"And, well, I've always wanted to try out some other piercings, but, I mean, if I was afraid of doing my ears, well..."

"Definitely," said Jennifer. "How about this: when you go to put a ring or a stud or a barbell or anything anywhere one of those might reasonably go, you'll gain a perfect piercing there, and just like your ears it'll heal when nothing's in it."

Jennifer created a diamond-studded barbell out of thin air and demonstrated by easily inserting it through the duplicate's left nipple.

Sarah took a look over the body she and Jennifer had created. "Maybe I could also be a little taller? I always thought Britney Atwater's height was just perfect."

Britney kept her face blank as the model grew a few inches.

"Anything else?" said Jennifer.

"No, I think that's it."

"You sure? I can't interest you in, say, two extra arms or a tail, or even just another finger on each hand?"

"Those sound like a pain to get clothes for."

"Nah," said Jennifer. "All your clothes will be altered to fit whatever body you leave here with. And, like I said, nobody will think your new body strange, though they will notice the changes."

"No," said Sarah, "I'll go with this."

"Okay," said Jennifer. "That just leaves the question of how you want to get into your new body."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, there are two basic methods: I can transfer your consciousness from your current body into the one we've designed, or I could alter your current body to match the one we designed."

"The second. I don't really like the idea of messing with my consciousness."

"No problem." Jennifer snapped her fingers, and Sarah let out a long moan as her body shifted under her clothes, which were themselves changing to accommodate her new body. Her moan climaxed as her changes finished, and she was recovering as Britney felt the office shift back into reality.

Did you give her an orgasm? Britney asked.

Nope, she had that all on her own, Jennifer replied.

They walked out of the office and Jennifer went back behind the counter.

"Just one more thing," she said as Sarah turned for the door.

"I thought you said this was free."

"Oh, it is. I'd just appreciate it if you'd give this to anyone who asks about your new body." Jennifer handed Sarah a business card.

"How am I supposed to hand one business card to lots of people? I'm not doing your copying for you."

"You don't have to." Jennifer smiled. "Here, give me one."

Sarah raised an eyebrow but handed the card back to Jennifer. When Jennifer took it, she ended up with a card, but the original stayed in Sarah's hand.

"Self-replicating business cards." Jennifer grinned.

"I guess it's the least I can do." With a wave, Sarah left the store.

"So how long until she drums up some business for you?" asked Britney.

"Oh, I think we'll be seeing another customer right about--" The old-fashioned doorbell chimed as a fat, balding middle-aged man walked into the shop.

"Hi, welcome to Jennifer's Body Boutique!"

February 14, 2061

"I've been thinking," said Jennifer as she lay in bed between Britney and Carol, all three sticky and sweaty from the incredible sex they'd just enjoyed, Jennifer's twin cocks tenting the bed sheets.

"That's dangerous," said Britney. "Remember what happened the last time you did that?"

Jennifer snapped her fingers and Britney suddenly found herself as two small objects, nestled snugly inside two pussies, vibrating pleasurably.

Hey! came her mental shout.

Jennifer and Carol fingered each other, Britney humming along inside them, until they came to simultaneous climaxes. The vibrators vanished and Britney reappeared in her own body.

"In all seriousness, I have been, for years now."

"About what?" asked Carol.

"You know how Shizuka became Governor of Tokyo back in '52?"

Britney nodded. "Are you thinking about her Cabinet?"

"Yeah," admitted Jennifer. "Personally I think that was kinda reckless, just giving twenty-eight people infinite power like that, but that was her call. But now I'm thinking that for my thirty-seventh birthday I deserve a few ultipotent friends of my own."

"Who?" asked Carol.

Jennifer snapped her fingers and Brigitte appeared at the foot of the bed, nude, clearly looking like she'd just enjoyed an excellent bout of sex with Shizuka.

"Oh, hi, Mistress!" asked Brigitte.

"How's Naomi?" asked Jennifer, at the same time letting Britney and Carol know that she'd just filled Brigitte in on their brief discussion.

"Fine, but what's up? Just wanted to say hi?"

"Well, I have something important for the three of you."

"Oh?" Britney was almost certain she knew where this was going.

Jennifer waved her hand. "Congratulations. I've just chosen the three of you to be the first people I make ultipotent."

Brigitte gasped, clearly excited. "You mean I'm, like, like Yomi and the rest?" She gave herself a second body, kneeling before her first body, which promptly grew out a small penis. Her second body reached out to touch it.

"Oh, I've missed you, little guy," she said to her newly-grown appendage, which Britney suddenly realized was an exact replica of the penis she'd had as Jacques Larocque.

"And now I don't!" Brigitte added, smiling as she made it erect with a thought and it surged to triple its length, her second body easily fellating its entire twenty inches.

Jennifer shook her head. "I had a feeling about that."

"Why us?" asked Britney.

"Because of all of you who used the reality simulators, and who set up situations where you were omnipotent, you three were the only ones who used your powers responsibly, and didn't just go screwing everyone in sight or flooding cities with cum or milk or what have you or destroying planets willy-nilly."

"That's what that was about?" asked Carol. "You were testing us?"

"No!" said Jennifer. "Just observing. None of you had to use the simulators, and none of you had to be omnipotent. At least half of those of you who did just used it to see what life might've been like if they'd never met me. I don't know if I can trust them. The rest I can't trust. But you three I can, and I have."

"So what does it mean to be 'ultipotent,' exactly?" asked Britney.

"Pretty much, it means you can do anything I can, except that you can't make people exactly equal to you in power--just like I can't make people exactly equal to me in power--that I, or any other Super Goddess, can strip you of your powers if we really need to, and that if I want to do one thing and you another, ultimately my powers override yours. Other than that, there's no limits on what you can do."

Carol lifted the sheet and looked down at her ample breasts. Then, suddenly, they began to grow, larger and larger until the sheet--which Britney made larger so it would continue to cover all three of them--was distended around them and Jennifer's cocks were lost.

"Well," said Jennifer, "enjoy. Trust me, it's a rush."

"Except," said Britney, "for the part where you didn't tell me that the Church of Femininity worships my old game tapes!"

February 15, 2061

Brigitte teleported back into bed with Shizuka after blowing her first load with a cock she'd given herself.

"So what did Jennifer want?" asked the Empress.

"What, like, can't you tell?" said Brigitte as she made her breasts start to grow.

"She made you ultipotent?" Shizuka squealed. "Congratulations!" She rolled over to play with Brigitte's nipple, and Brigitte decided to start lactating for fun. Shizuka blinked to clear the sudden jet of milk from her eyes.

"And that means that I can now do this!" Brigitte poked Shizuka between her own breasts, and instantly the goddess had a huge orgasm. When she came down from it, she found that her already curvy form had been significantly amplified; if she had been a normal human, her breasts alone would have pinned her to the bed.

"Anything you can do, I can do better," sang Shizuka through her laughter, and she stuck her tongue out at Brigitte, who herself experienced an even bigger orgasm and ended up with an even curvier body.

Brigitte giggled and extended her arms so that her hands reached her nipples. Growing a mouth on each of them, she began to suckle herself. "I've always wanted to try this." She grew out another pair of arms, also with mouths on their hands, and moved them around so that she could also give herself cunnilingus and anilingus.

Shizuka floated out of bed, passing through the sheets, and settled in a chair. "So what now?"

"About what?"

"Naomi. I mean, part of the reason I'm here is to help keep her safe, but you're quite capable of doing that on your own now. So if you think you'd--"

"No!" said Brigitte forcefully. "I'll never want you out of my and Naomi's life. We're going to raise her together, and that's that." She punctuated her statement with another orgasm.

"And I'll never want to not be part of her life," said Shizuka. "So what now?"

"Well, since we can both keep her safe now, I was thinking we could take her on some more exotic outings. Maybe a planet where intelligent life's just starting to develop?"

"And she was asking me the other day why I didn't just give everyone in Japan powers like Yomi's--and yours, too, now," said the Empress. "Maybe we could teach her why."

February 28, 2061

Carol waved a hand at one of the millions of chess boards in the room where she and Britney were sitting cross-legged in mid-air. A knight lifted from the board and settled on its new square. "Mate in thirty-eight moves," she declared.

Britney cast her mind toward the board, nodded, and telekinetically toppled her king. Moving her attention to another board, her bishop moved, and she announced, "Mate in forty-four moves." She grinned. She and Carol might be intellectual equals, but Carol's experience meant Britney almost never won.

Carol nodded, and her king fell.

"So I've been wondering," said Carol.

"About what?"

"Why you were never Enhanced." Carol held up a hand to forestall Britney's explanation. "Oh, I know about the reality warp Jennifer made for you. Obviously I know all about how you raised her and such. But what I don't get is why she would make you ultipotent without first Enhancing you."

"Why?"

"Because we both know that Enhancement is not an entirely positive thing. Oh, I wouldn't go back to how I was, and especially not now. But I can feel how it changed me, how I could never betray Jennifer. Or, I guess I could, but it would probably take someone with more willpower than I think I'll ever have, and even then it'd probably take a long time to screw up the courage to go through with it, and never mind trying to keep it hidden! But you're under no such compulsion. There's a few things she's asked us not to do, like mess with the past too much, and while I feel ill even thinking about doing that, I bet you could just do it, if you really wanted to."

"I could," agreed Britney. "I mean, I'd lose my powers and Jen would probably leave me stuck as a dildo for the rest of time or something--"

"I can think of worse fates," said Carol.

"--but I could."

"So why didn't Jennifer put in a failsafe?" Carol and Britney had both noticed, as had Brigitte, that since becoming ultipotent they no longer automatically thought of Jennifer as "Mistress".

"Because she didn't need to."

"How could she possibly be so sure, even of you?"

"It's easier if I show you," said Britney, reaching out a hand. Carol took it, and immediately hundreds of nightmares flashed through Carol's mind, Britney screaming in mental anguish as she relived them to pass them on to her protégée, Carol's cries joining hers soon after.

"I didn't--I see now," said Carol. "At least that won't happen now."

"I'd do anything for her," said Britney quietly. "Absolutely anything."

June 24, 2063

The private room was quiet and dimly lit, just as Cassandra Jenkins liked it, Britney knew.

"Hi again," said Britney as she teleported in and created a chair next to Cassandra's deathbed.

The former limo driver was aged beyond her years, as a rare genetic disease that had stumped even Irina's genius ravaged her body.

"Hi, Britney," she managed.

"You haven't got long, you know," Britney said, getting right to the point. They'd reminisced about old times in past visits, but now Britney knew Cassandra had literally hours left to live.

I know, thought Cassandra, knowing Britney would hear it. But if even Christina is flummoxed, what hope do I have?

"She's not, anymore. She figured it out just in time." Britney held up a needle.

So I won't have to be Enhanced to survive this? Jennifer had offered Cassandra Enhancement as soon as the disease manifested itself, but had also told her about the side effects so she could make a properly informed decision, and Cassandra had decided that her own mental autonomy was more important. Jennifer had been inconsolable for days afterward, but she had respected the old woman's decision.

"No," said Britney. "Christina says it'll make you about forty years younger and keep you alive until and unless you choose to go." She took Cassandra's frail hands in her free one.

The nurses will be suspicious if I'm just gone, Cassandra pointed out. And if I walk out of here everyone else on the ward will be jealous.

"The nurses know," Britney assured her. "All that remains for you to decide is whether you want it... and what you're going to do afterwards."

You promise this won't Enhance me? Cassandra asked.

"Jennifer and I respect you too much for that," promised Britney.

Then yes.

Britney created an alcohol swab from nothing and rubbed it gently on Cassandra's upper arm, then numbed what few nerve endings still worked before injecting her old friend. Within moments, the cure took effect, and Cassandra was just as Britney remembered from their first meeting.

"I remember when you were the young one!" Cassandra laughed, springing out of bed.

Britney reverted to the body she'd had at eighteen. "Where now?"

"Well, I hear there's not as much call for cab drivers any more, what with all the perfect self-driving cars around, so that's out. So how about I just catch up with Jennifer again?"

February 14, 2064

"So, the big four-zero," said Britney, sitting next to Jennifer at the big table they'd reserved at a fancy restaurant in Toronto. Cassandra, who'd decided to become part of Jennifer's harem but had sadly proved unsuitable for ultipotence, was sitting next to her, and on Jennifer's other side were Carol, Brigitte, Naomi, and Shizuka, who was mostly occupied teaching Naomi how best to meld Western and Japanese table manners and had disguised herself so that nobody would notice that the Empress of Japan was there. Other members of Jennifer's harem, such as Sarah Pierce, who had become such a regular at the Body Boutique that eventually Jennifer offered her Enhancement and unlimited changes in exchange for becoming part of the harem, were also there, but notably absent were Stephen and Margaret.

"Maybe when we're all forty trillion," said Jennifer, and everyone chuckled. She'd put up a privacy screen around the table that would keep their conversation from filtering out, but certain topics, Brigitte had insisted, were still not to be discussed around Naomi. Immortality wasn't one of them, however.

"But really I had nothing special planned," she continued. "Just a nice meal, good conversation, and a good night out."

Their meal came then, waiters bringing in trolleys filled with plates, three huge steaks and quadruple helpings of all the trimmings for everyone, except Naomi, who insisted that since she was a growing girl she should get twice as much, and was already frustrating Shizuka by starting in on her first steak as soon as it was set in front of her.

Britney and Cassandra told stories about Jennifer growing up, while Brigitte let them know the real scoop on all the celebrities she'd interviewed, and Carol and others who had been Jennifer's classmates told a very sanitized version of what it was like to go to school with Jennifer.

Jennifer paid the bill, leaving her usual million-dollar tip, and the entire group teleported away to their various destinations, most back to the harem wing of Jennifer's mansion. Britney, however, found herself diverted to Jennifer's private bedroom.

"There is something, isn't there," she said.

"You know me too well," said Jennifer, smiling. "Yes. There's something I want that only you can give."

"What?"

"Your babies. I want to have your babies."

"So... how? Like Brigitte had Naomi? Or we could just wish them into existence, or--"

"No, the old-fashioned way."

Britney nodded and went to lie on the bed, but Jennifer stopped her. "No. I want to have your babies. Maybe later I'll give you mine."

Britney understood and grew out an eighteen-inch cock. Jennifer glared at it and Britney felt it growing to twice that length, while orange-sized balls dropped down behind it.

No further words were necessary as Britney plowed into Jennifer, their powers enhancing the experience but neither using them to cause a premature ejaculation. Britney could feel her orgasm building and building and building until--

She moaned with the sudden release. She could feel her prostate generating semen and her testes generating sperm, forced into overdrive by Jennifer's irresistible will. She groaned, feeling her haploid gametes rush out of her.

Jennifer sat up, forcing Britney out of her. She had stopped ejaculating. "Okay, that's enough." Jennifer snapped her fingers.

Immediately Britney found herself in what seemed an empty void, but soon it was filled with what looked like tiny bits of light. Jennifer was next to her.

"Our children," said Jennifer, proudly.

"What?"

"The fertilized eggs. The world's hardly big enough for all of them, so I'm preserving them here, outside of time, until they're ready to be born."

"That many?"

"Sure. I can give birth to as many children as I like at any one time, and I have complete control over their gestation. They'll be born exactly when and how I want them to be born."

Britney looked around at the quintillions of tiny stars hanging in nothing. "I guess there's only one question left."

"Which is?" asked Jennifer.

"Can I have your babies? It's my birthday too."

June 23, 2068

"You promised me you'd take care of them!" Jennifer almost shouted at M'Wela.

"And I did." The two Super Goddesses, along with Britney, were standing in an empty room in Rama Shya General Hospital, most recently occupied by Stephen Fahr and Margaret Martin.

"Then why aren't they here?"

"Because," M'Wela said patiently, "they asked to be moved."

"And it was safe to move them?" M'Wela just gave Jennifer a look.

"Where are they?"

"On Kilimanjaro." M'Wela opened a hole in reality. "Right there," she said, pointing to a shabby-looking tent.

"You let them out there in a plain tent?" Jennifer's voice rose in volume again.

"They're perfectly safe and very well looked after," said M'Wela. Jennifer plunged through the hole, Britney behind her. M'Wela just sighed and closed it.

Jennifer opened the tent flap and stopped as she saw an extremely well-appointed hospital room inside, complete with a teleport terminal so medical staff could come and go as needed. "I should've known," she reprimanded herself.

"Yes, you should have," came Margaret Martin's thin, but still distinctive, voice. "Hi, Britney."

Britney made a chair for herself in a corner of the room while Jennifer created one next to her mother's side of the bed. Stephen was in a near-catatonic state, as he had been for the past year.

"Why won't you just let me or M'Wela make you young again?" Jennifer demanded.

"Because, as I've told both of you, it's our time."

"But it doesn't have to be," insisted Jennifer.

"No," said Margaret, "but that's not what either of us want."

Britney could tell that Jennifer was about to say, "But that's what I want," and realized that she'd sound too much like a petulant child and too little like the confident, self-assured omnipotent being she'd become.

"It's our time," repeated Margaret. "Don't pity me. Quite the contrary, I pity you. Neither of us wants immortality."

"But why not?" asked Jennifer. Death was a foreign concept in her personal experience, and she was even less capable of understanding why someone might welcome it.

"Because death is not a curse, it's a gift. Death, as one of my favourite authors noted, is a gift, the gift of being free of the cares of this world. Those who are immortal must linger within it, never knowing release from its burdens."

This time Jennifer couldn't keep herself from a touch of petulance. "But I want you here."

"I know you do, sweetie," said Margaret. "But it's our time. Don't cry for us. We've had a good life. The only bad life is the one not lived, and we've both had a life well lived. Always remember that."

Silence hung in the air for a few moments, and then a wail, louder than anything Britney had ever heard, so powerful that it shook the mountain violently, tore out of Jennifer.

She put her hands on her dead parents' heads, and they vanished.

"Where'd they go?" asked Britney.

Wordlessly Jennifer opened her own portal, looking in on the same universe she'd created for her nascent children. In the middle of all the fertilized ova floated two ornate coffins.

"They're dead," said Jennifer through her sobs. "They're dead, and..."

"Margaret wasn't entirely right, you know," said Britney.

"No?"

"We might linger, carrying the burdens of this world, but the memories of those who came before us, who touched our lives, lighten that weight. Nobody is truly dead--"

"--so long as they are remembered," finished Jennifer.

"And so your parents will never be dead."

Jennifer nodded, her tears still flowing freely. Suddenly Britney felt a rumble underfoot.

"Now unless you like the idea of being buried in molten rock, let's get out of here. I think this mountain's about to blow!"
 

 

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