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User:Arrow Quivershaft/A New Realm...?

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3P story universe

A New Realm...?

Author: Arrow Quivershaft

After the excitement of the last trip, I took a bit of time off. Well, off as in staying out of realm. There were reams of paperwork to do explaining the situation and I had to send in a cleanup crew to try and recover the two we’d left behind. No one had expected the gorgon to be that powerful, so I got run through the wringer on questions and such, and spent a week and a half on the bench after I got back while everything was sorted out.

Fortunately, everything turned out pretty well in the end. Gerry was grateful for my decision that saved him, and Jurgen backed my story, having gotten his fill of exotic hunting for the time. So, in the end, I got cleared.

Nikolai and Antoine did manage to bag the gorgon, and Dawn had brought them back with their trophies. The thing was too large to carry, but they got a few prizes to show off. Thus, they were happy. And the cleanup crew had found Boris and Louis alright, and so they were being treated by the Asclepians. Petrification reversal isn’t cheap and Asclepius, while neutral, isn’t quite a charity, but there weren’t a lot of other options. Last I heard, Nikolai had gone back in realm to help his brother recover.

After I got cleared, I spent a few days prepping again, and went back in realm on a tourism run with a larger group. Corinth, Sparta, Athens, home. It was a cat-herding run, really. Just a larger tour group of eighteen, and five of us guides keeping them all together. I got some ribbing for my ‘bad luck’ from the others, but in the end it all went off with only one hitch at the end, so I got back home again. After refreshing myself, I’d dressed up in a polo and slacks and gone to spend a few hours with Dawn. I got back later in the evening, maybe 7PM because I was just dead tired.

As I dragged myself into the apartment, I could smell some food cooking, and saw Robjeet polishing his shoes, with an ironed tux set out on the counter ready to be placed in a bag. I’d already packed my stuff away, so I started setting the table. Just the two of us.

“Heya, Robert.” It was early July now, and I hadn’t seen him since I was benched.

Robjeet nodded to me, since his hands were busy. "Ey Nate. How'd it go tonight?"

"It went rather well." I smiled. He knew about the relationship.

"Good for you, man."

"Yeah, it's working out decently. It's been a while since I've seen you, how're you doing?" I finished setting the table and sat down. "And what do you need the tux for, or am I not allowed to know that?"

"My dad's accepting an award in Sicily tomorrow evening." He glanced to an invitation on the refrigerator. I hadn’t noticed it when I came in. One other downside to being in realm, communication isn’t near as fast... unless you’re willing to pay for it, of course.

I browquirked. "Oh? For what?"

"Part of his work on the generator over in Cadarache... Heh, but quit stalling.” He smirked at me. “How are you and the lady doing?"

I paused for a moment, deciding how much to say. "Hee. We're getting along fine. It was kinda awkward at first, but we're getting past it... and give your dad my congrats, man. That's pretty cool.”

"Well, I'll leave it alone buddy, just remember the code. Scrunchy or sock on the doorknob." He smiled slyly.

I paused longer, this time. I hadn’t thought about that. "...right. When we get that far." I probably looked nervous at the mention of THAT topic.

Robjeet chuckled, still polishing. “You look edgy.”

"Kinda a odd line of thought,” I admitted. “Not something I’ve thought about much.”

"Well, not /all/ couples end up doing that stuff,” he reassured me.

"Yeah. I'm not sure we will either..." I trailed off.

"Don't worry about it. It either comes, or it doesn't." He nodded, finishing one shoe and moving to the next.

"Sure. That works. Again, give your dad congrats for me." I tried to change the subject off my personal life.

"Will do." He took the hint. "Keep on your toes around here, man. Weird shit going down."

I leaned on the table, propped up on one arm a bit boredly. "Oh?"

"Popping up in the papers a lot lately. Stories about realmies from some kind of pocket realm."

"...weird. I've been out for the last month, so tell me a bit. No newspapers in Greece. They can't get the presses to work." I smirked a bit. Actually, they can get old, Gutenberg-style presses to work, but I’d been working and so I hadn’t had time to read a paper. I’d heard a bit of this from the tourists who did, though.

"So far it's mostly Israel and England that it's all focusing on, the reporters keep analyzing without telling you anything." He shrugged a bit. “Don’t know why they still refer to it as Israel. The whole thing is Bast’s realm these days and it’s hell to get good reports out of there.”

"Have no idea. It just causes trouble, in my opinion. As for analyzing... I guess that’s what reporters are wont to do. Anything useful in the articles, or...?" I let it hang.

"Heh, just do some combing on the terminal, man. It's all there. Nothing happening here yet, but people are getting worried that a fourth realm might open soon."

I paused at that. "Well, that might be interesting...for us, at least." I cautiously opined.

"I sure hope not, man. You might be a bit young to remember how the world economy this side of the globe turned to shit for a few years after the realms opened." He shook his head. "I'd rather not see that happening again."

"Sorry, man, I don’t remember that...I was only 3."

"Eh, I was 9, but we studied the after-shocks a fair bit."

"Guess I musta missed that at my school." Not surprising, really. US education tries to avoid the realms as much as possible. Arkansas teaches that the realms are an illegal usurpation.

He nodded. "Just be aware of the tension, but in all odds, it's just some random bullshit hoax."

"Sure. Eggshells it is. Anything else I should know?"

"Just what you think's important, man. Just take it all with a big grain of salt."

"Sure thing. You know I love my salt."

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We didn’t discuss any more of import after that, it was just some general catch-up about how our runs had gone. Robjeet retired right after I finished eating, needing to get up early tomorrow to head out. Not that we were strangers to getting up early, but we were more conscious about how it affected us.

I headed back to my room and sat down at the computer to check my email, and touch base with my parents. After that was done, which took a bit over an hour, I sat to spend some time researching the pocket realmies. I logged into 3R (Reuters Realm Report) to see what they had to say; they tended to have the best info on realm-related stuff.

The first thing that really came up were two pictures which were pretty big news. One was a HUGE anthropomorphic tiger standing under a flapping Lebanese flag, captioned “Nkosi, agent of Bast.” Dude musta been 7 feet, and made of solid muscle, wearing heavy armor. I was surprised; the big names in realm rarely leave, because in realm, you layer on all sorts of magical protection...and out of realm, that all matters for squat.

The other big picture was a more diminutive anthro-fox. Not a hemt, just an anthro red fox, getting off an Royal Air Force transport with British officers. The caption here, was “Blossom, a pocket realm denizen.” The rest of the article was prattling back and forth about a fourth realm possibly opening, and where. The big thing was that neither of these species had been seen like this before. Some sphinx are partial tiger, and hemt, of course, are mostly fennec fox anthros (with a scorpion tail), but this combination was unique and...possibly new.

That said, Robjeet was right that there was lots of analysis, and not much info, so after a bit I clicked through to the photo gallery to see what was in there. There was a photo of a “Nicolas Snider”, a smaller anthro tiger who was operating at the Realm Embassy in London on behalf of Bast. Then Blossom and an “Alex”, who seemed just like a normal human sitting in the back of a Volkswagen with an Anubi. I recognized the Anubis; that was Steve Martnell; he worked for the Realm embassy in London, and had the distinction of being the first realmie born out-of-realms.

None of them had any stated plans, but there were a number of speculations about the British government being unduly influenced by Kemet, given they’d basically ended up with all three of these realmies in short order and they’d all come from there. There was speculation that the two tigers, being the most similar, were siblings; there was a size difference and they’d been confirmed to be in two different locations at once, so they were clearly two different people. Again, both marked to Bast, who is...bad news, as far as Realm gods go. She was milking it for what she could.

That said, it was clear I wasn’t going to find any more information tonight. I shut off the computer and lied down on my bed to try and sleep. This would definitely be interesting to watch...maybe by tomorrow there’d be more news, but since they were pretty much my time zone, I doubted it.

I set my alarm for tomorrow morning at 8. I had the next few days off before I came up on call, but I had an appointment with the armorer tomorrow at 10 to get fitted for my new armor. The official name is Hellas Tactical Armor, New Style, but everyone just calls it Heltan. Heltan’s basically armor clothing, but its generally considered to be the best armor that doesn’t impinge the wearer’s mobility, and is light enough to both wear continuously and carry without much effort in a pack. It’s not anything like plate or such, but it’s still pretty good.

After that, I’d need to go get some new crossbow bolts, since I’d left a number of mine behind in realm that time, most of them in a chimera I’d had to chase off from the camp when some tourists snuck food into their tents, and a few I used to scare off some stormwings going after Frederick, one of our tourists that time. He’d been one of the few on the tour who hadn’t been marked, so we’d had to keep an extra eye on him; on the last day some of them made an extra effort to grab him, but we’d been able to fend them off. Not without some injury; one of our walkers had to get a few stitches on the boat, but when you’re fighting what is essentially a harpy with metal feathers, you’re just happy you still have all your parts after the fight...

...and the next thing I knew, my alarm was buzzing, waking me up from a sleep that had come all too quickly. My muscles ached a bit, but it was better than waking up on the ship to Corinth. I stood up and flipped on the computer as I went to shave and brush my teeth and get breakfast.

There were commentaries, letters to the editor, analysis. No new events, but since they were on a similar timeframe, I guess that was to be expected. Protests against the realms, politicians denying that these people even existed, advocation to invade the realms with realm-trained military units, and the proposal of the Human Marriage Amendment in the ‘states again. Economists panicking over a fourth realm opening, people stocking up on supplies in case it opened in their area...man, what a mess. It was even taking away news time from the Olympics, which were happening right now. Even got a few subgods and such from Greece to show up in Madrid for it.

But all that was for a later time. I headed out to get suited up, check in, debrief, and maybe spend some time with Dawn.

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I got done with my errands earlier than anticipated, so after dropping off my stuff at home, I went over towards Dawn’s place to stop by. The building she lives in is rather different, since it’s designed to be occupied by realmies with nonhuman body structures or sizes. Wider halls and stairs for centaurs, taller ceilings for minotaurs, and rooms designed for people with smaller stature, like Dawn. Lots of other adjustments too. It always feels kind of...off, being inside.

I knocked on the door and waited when I got there, nodding to a minotaur passing in the hallway. I looked down at the doorknob and waited. The thing was barely past my ankles. Which admittedly was where Dawn needed it, it was just kind of an adjustment for me to be in a place like this. Everything was off proportion or such. Eventually, she got over to the door and opened it up, smiling up at me.

“Afternoon...come on in.” Dawn stepped aside to let me in.

"Hello, Dawn. Sleep well?" I stepped inside to look around. The entire place was set up for feet-hands; half of the furniture is entirely unusable by me.

“Did, yep. You?”

“Decently, yeah. Worried about the Frederick, a bit...hope the shenanigans there might convince him to get a mark on his next trip. But he’s outta my hands now.”

“They didn’t capture anyone, that’s the important part. Stormwings can be pretty nasty for that...”

“Still strange to compare the names from myth, and the common ones. Stymphalian birds to stormwings, for example.”

Dawn gave me a Look. "Stym-what? Uh, no... Come on, sit down, you tall bastard."

Oh. Right. “Sure.” I headed over towards one of the floor cushions she had; she preferred that I use those, because when I sit cross-legged, I was effectively her height.

Dawn stepped into my lap, sitting on my thigh in a manner that then allowed her to lean against my chest and shoulders, while still keeping her feet on the ground for balance. “You know...we should take a trip in, sometime. Just you and me.”

I paused. “Out to Greece?” Dawn nodded. “Well, how about after my next trip or two? I’ll save the money, we can go out there.”

“You can show me a few of Athene’s nice temples.”

“Solid idea...Athens, then?”

“It’s a date.”

"Sounds fun." I smiled. “So...stormwings is the more common term in English, right?”

“Stormwings,” Dawn confirmed, and gave me a quick smooch. “Only nerds call ‘em Stymphalians.”

I nodded at that. “Stormwings.” I gave a quick peck back and pulled her into a one armed hug.

She smiled at me. “Stormwings suck.”

After a few seconds, I let her go with a quick snug. “Did you hear about those new people, from the supposed alternate realm?”

“Vaguely. It’s just news fodder.” She shrugged a bit.

I nodded. This wasn’t going to be much of a conversation; best to get out while I could. “Looks interesting, but if you’re not interested, you aren’t interested.”

“There are a lot of hoaxes that start this way,” Dawn said. "I'm highly skeptical."

"I'm taking it with a grain of salt myself; just thought it’s interesting to think about.”

"Good show."

"Yeah, it is, if nothing else."

Dawn took the chance to change the subject. "I'm really more interested in us."

I nodded. "Me too." I gave her a quick peck.

Dawn kissed back, then giggled. “Oh yes?”

“Yep. That’ll be a fun trip.” I glanced to my mark again. "I'll make the requsition for days off later today."

Dawn smiled at me. "Mm... Got plans for the rest of the afternoon?"

I shook my head. “Not particularly. I gotta check in on my armor later, but other than that, no." I paused, then asked. "Had something in mind?"

She batted at my face with a wing. That wasn’t the right answer. "Dinner'n'a'movie?"

"Sure, that sounds fine." I smiled. “What’d you want to see?”

Preceded by:
Unexpected Burdens
Three Pantheons Succeeded by:
Meeting the Clients