“Ladies, ladies,” Doug tries to quickly bring this argument to a halt, “my class is simply here for a brief rundown of your galaxy’s history.  We didn’t mean to offend anyone.”

    Folding her arms in a pout, Tonya takes the blame off Doug, “It wasn’t your fault someone has no respect.”  MK hugs her agitated friend and says a few comically exaggerated compliments, making the teens laugh at the two clowns.

    “Well,” says the daughter in pink, “Since the elderly are too busy to speak, I’ll take over.”

    “Don’t make me mad, child!” MK insists.

    “Did you seriously walk right into that?” Asks the one whose name is MAD.  Blowing a kiss to her goofy mother, MAD explains, “This used to be a storyboard where Cici, named Mary Katherine Elisabeth, was the hero while her brother Ant was the sidekick.  The one you know as Jo Bear, marrying to become Jo Sutle, was named Tonya Sutle here with her brother Tommy being named Jo.  James was Ames and Amy was Jamie, and so forth.  In other words, all the brothers and sisters had their names swapped, so the girls were in charge.  However, our female version of Arion Jekel tricked the System Guards of our universe, and even though we beat that monster, we lost almost everyone.  Like, even now that we’ve been moved to this galaxy, we only have six populated planets, with most of the life being on Earth.  Sounds like no big deal to the real-worlders with their one planet being the only civilization, but when you watch millions of worlds die, it feels quite lonely to say we only have six habitable worlds.  Guys, think of as many System Guards as you can.  Not necessarily everywhere, but just in XI alone, for instance.  You got that?  As many as you can, okay?  As for us, we only have ten left.”

    The drastic drop in hundreds or even thousands to just ten is like a punch to the gut for our friends.  “So, yeah, learn the lesson now.  Don’t fall prey to the kind of trickery we did, having the enemy reach into the very soul of our unit and watching our friends turn on each other, only to realize the solution would kill even more.  What few people survived have only recently reunited, having bitterly blamed each other.  That’s not why I’m MAD, ha ha.  Those are just my initials.  What I’m saying is our story is a story of being more careful, learning to forgive each other’s mistakes and rebuilding together instead of pointing the finger.”

    Tonya shyly raises her hand.  “That said, I’m sorry if my teasing was ill-placed.  I don’t want you guys thinking I was seriously angry at my pal.” The kids know she was just joking but appreciate her willingness to let them know.

    MK adds her piece as well.  “After losing my brother and first husband, I had to figure it all out by myself.  If not for the brother and sister I found in AB and Cici, I don’t know where I’d be.  This galaxy is such a brighter place now, but I have to admit that MAD and I probably spend more time in the Juniper District than here.  Not only is our family stuck there now, but I have new siblings to harass, and MAD adores her counterpart Mary Melissa.  Although, I feel like MAD’s a crossover of Melody Maxine with Mary Melissa’s hair style.  Funny how alternate universes work.”

    “Well,” says Faye, “MAD doesn’t exactly have the crazy past Mary Melissa does, so she’s definitely more like Maxie.  Of course, both girls are nuts who owe me money anyway.  So, what’s it like being married to your universe’s version of James, MK?”

    “Ah, Emile Junas, the man of my dreams!” MK says with her fists on her hips.  “Eh, he’s just like the original James Scott, only cooler because he’s my version, obviously, ha ha.  Now, don’t make me compare with my beloved Mike David.  That’s not fair, considering he’s a deader now.”

    Kammy puts the hints together.  “Okay, so, in Milky Way language, Cici married Missy’s brother Junior, but he died, so Cici remarried to Emily’s brother Eric, except all the names are reversed, and Eric has Emily’s birthname instead of her adopted name?  Your storyboard alone could be the final exam just from all the name switching going on here.”

    “Don’t think too hard, dear,” Tammy Sutle advises.

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