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User:Arrow Quivershaft/Lecce Pit-Stop
|3P story universe|
The travel was mostly uneventful, with Dawn and I arriving back in Lecce late morning on August 16th. It was intermittently rainy at the time. I was glad to get off the ship, myself. The past several hours had had some very choppy water and even I had started to feel it. Been hard to sleep. As I got off the ship and got my legs back, I helped Dawn onto the land and got us out of the way of other people disembarking. This ship had cargo on it, and they were bringing an overhead crane into service to help unload it faster, since we were out of realm. After we got some distance away from the ship and the docks, I turned to Dawn and looked at her.
“Anything you wanna take care of before we get down to business, Dawn?” I asked her, trying to be more formal. We were still out in public and all.
"I think my couch could use some making out, but that's really more of an evening thing." Dawn replied.
I smiled at that idea. "Yeah, probably. Sorry it's been so busy. Lot more work than I expected or was led to believe. Anyways, shall we go, then? My place, or yours?"
Dawn shook her head. "I just got a week in vacationing hippie-ville and a day with you on a boat with nothing to do but lie together. /I'm/ not put out." She giggled lightly. Then she got serious. “Yours. You have all your notes and crap there. I’ll head on over to admin and get us signed in, grab a shower, and then meet you there, alright?”
I nodded at that. “OK.” Then I started heading off to my apartment. A shower didn’t seem like a bad idea. Dawn split off to do her thing as I headed home. I took a shower once I got inside, getting my stuff off, and when I got out, Robjeet was home, doing what he’s always doing when he’s home: cooking. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go into all the questions with him, but it looked like I didn’t get much choice in this. I shrugged and came over.
“Hey man. How’ve you been lately? It’s been a while.” I said, leading in a bit slowly.
Robjeet looked over to me as I came out. "Nate. Holy shit, been awhile in stacks, mate. Pull up a chair."
I did so. "And it'll be longer, unfortunately." I said as I sat down.
"I just got back from a trip right over to the Dardanelles, I haven't been around in over a month myself." Jeet said as he stirred the food in the pot.
"Ahh. Ok, well it wasn't just me, then." I nodded. At least I didn’t seem like a stranger. "How'd that go?"
"Aheh... You've gotta get over there sometime, Nate. The scenery and the monsters are just specTACular." Robjeet smiled, emphasizing the last word.
"I'll make room for it on my list when I'm done with my current job." I said.
"Heh, word has it you're on an independant quest." Jeet said, glancing to me for a reaction.
"Kinda. I'm still getting paid." I noted.
"Score." Jeet said. "Heh, times like now I'm glad we're in the right realm. Fuckin' Danes and Lebbies are goin' nuts over Midgard and Egypt."
That didn’t sound all that good. "Care to fill me in?" I asked, tentatively, then shook my head. "Wait, lemme guess. Bast and Fenrir?"
"Heh, well Fenrir's agents have been stirring all over the place, lot of cash getting involved there. He's having gold dumped onto the world markets and has been buying up small tech companies left and right." Robjeet nodded. "Bast... Yeah, good call.”
I didn’t like the sound of that from Fenrir, given what else I sorta-knew from Blossom. But I had to know both sides, so... "And what's on her end?"
"Seems that tiger guy of hers snuffed it, and we're seeing the fallout. One of my buddies barely made it out of there. Seems those guys are throwing a deific hissy fit." Robjeet explained.
Nkosi was dead? Fuck, that screwed all of our plans right there. "Any details on that?"
"I'm waiting for 3R to make their report. Everything else is too scattered."
I nodded slowly. "Any more on that wolf virus Fenrir was after? That why he's buying all the tech companies?"
"Seems like. The buyouts have been going on for a month now, but there's some pretty heavy investigation.” Jeet said.
"Any more details on the specifics of the virus?" I asked
"Nobody can figure out if there really is any virus, or if that's all just a smokescreen." Jeet said, shaking his head.
I ran my hand through my still-wet hair. Just fucking wonderful.
"Whatsit, mate?" Robjeet asked. Musta been too obvious on my face.
"This more or less directly affects me." I explained.
"Remember those people on the news? Nick, Blossom, Alex?"
Jeet nodded. "Those the ones folks are going numpty over?"
“Yeah. Take a wild guess who's currently employing me."
Robjeet paused for a moment to process that. "Holy shit, bloke... Fuck the Dardanelles, stick with /that/." He let out a giddy little laugh and turned off the stove.
I smiled. "I plan to."
"They really from another dimension?" Jeet asked.
"If they're to be believed, yes." I nodded. "And there's been some evidence to the effect that they should be."
"So then... What're they doing? What are /you/ doing?" Robjeet asked, still slightly shocked.
"Condensed version is one of them got mixed up with Bast and needed that other tiger guy alive." I said. "I left them in Selene's domain to came back and hire professionals to that end. Course, now those plans'll need to change a bit."
"I'd say." Jeet understated.
"Yeah. That, and a few other things. It's a really long story, really." I sighed a bit.
"Sounds to me like you might have your first book deal." he said encouragingly.
"I might. It depends how it turns out." I hadn’t even thought about that. But right now I was kinda worried about Nick. If they really were a ‘fractured soul,’ what happened when Nkosi was killed?
"In any case, let me say Fenrir's actions make me nervous, at least. They refer to the other guy as a werewolf, and...I’m not exactly keen on Fenrir getting his paws on something like that.”
Jeet nodded. "You figure Fen might be trying to duplicate that?"
"Since one of their werewolves is supposedly on this place, yeah, I'd say so." I sighed. "Not happy thoughts."
I rubbed my brow a bit. "More questions right now?"
Jeet offered a plate full of half a pot of stir fry. "Just one: want something to eat?"
I took the plate gratefully. "Thanks, man. Dawn'll be over shortly, hope you don't mind. We were gonna put up an ad for the professionals. Now...not sure what we're gonna do."
Robjeet started to eat the other half right out of the pot. "Need me to clear out?" he asked.
I shook my head. "No, not neccesary." After a moment, I asked. "Gotta question for you..."
"Ever heard the term 'fractured soul'?" I continued.
"Maybe in a few cliche video games and vampire movies." Robjeet noted.
"But never in connection to the Realms?" I pressed.
"Ahhhh... Not really... What's the context?" he asked.
"A person who's been split into two separate entities by a deity. In this particular instance, Bast." I explained.
Robjeet paused. "Ohhhhh... Shit...You're talking about the Nick-Nkosi thing, aren't you?” He nodded somberly. ”I never thought of that."
"I would be, yes." I paused. "If the one's taking a dirt nap...well, now I have to wonder how my client is doing."
"If there really were some soul ties left over... Yeah, something weird might've happened." Robjeet noted.
"And the boat doesn't leave for a few more days, then I need two days to make it to Selene's domain." I gave an exasperated sigh. Just one more disaster...
"Wonderful. Maybe we'll have details at least on the death before I leave." I said, putting more food in my mouth.
"3R." Robjeet noted.
Not a bad idea. "Yeah. I'll check." Eat more food. Nice to get a home-cooked meal again. "So yeah. We've got Fenrir to worry about in a general sense, and I've got Bast to worry about too. Before I even get to my clients."
"Things are always darkest before the dawn, right mate?" Robjeet noted.
"Yeah, that's true. We'll see how it turns out, I guess..."
Just then, there was a knock on the door. It was low, focused towards the ground. "That'd be Dawn." I finished my food off and went to open the door. Dawn was indeed there. She invited herself through the door and stepped inside. "Hello again; they say anything down at Admin?" I asked.
I nodded. "Plans changed. Again."
Dawn glanced to Jeet. "Ey there RJ."
"Evening, Dawn." he responded. The two of them were friends, but tonight Dawn seemed all business.
Formalities now taken care of, she looked to me. "Yeah?"
"Robjeet says Nkosi went and got his ticket punched." I explained.
"I was just about to check if 3R had their report up on it yet."
"Right." Dawn said. "We have two days here, anyways... May as well see what we can do that's useful."
"Yeah. Probably don't need the mercs anymore, though." I shook my head, then headed over to the computer and booted it up. I helped Jeet with the dishes while that was going on, then came back a few moments later with an extra chair for Dawn. I took the browser to 3R and looked up the data on a search; Dawn hopped up onto the chair.
3R had nothing beyond the initial data. Nothing terribly specific...mostly speculation about "If it's true, then we can expect blank" articles. Nothing that confirmed the death yet. Well. As Dawn noted, we had a few days for confirmation on that. I moved onto other things. There was TONS of speculation on Fenrir, but nothing on this “Aaron” the others seemed to know. Speculation on the virus, conflicting stories, legal hurdles. Fenrir’s one of the more expansionist gods; he’s got lawyers and many of the trappings of modern society.
There was also an article about how they’d seen Blossom in the grove a week or two ago, and some speculation. One article saying they’d been unable to reach their realmwalker for comment...heh. I’d been busy. After a while, I gave up with a sigh.
“Any suggestions, Dawn?” I rubbed my forehead as I looked to her. Dawn had vocal control to my computer, so I was inviting her to put in her own search term.
"I say we use that bed of yours and give the reporters a good 10 hours to get their shit straight." Dawn said.
"Sure, sounds like an idea." I said. I was tired and we’d hit a dead end, so why not make some use of the time. I closed and locked the door, and then we both spent some time cuddling on the bed before we both fell asleep.
I woke up several hours later. It was probably about 8AM, meaning I’d ‘overslept’ a fair bit, if I’d been in realm. I’d been asleep for probably 8-10 hours...I can’t sleep forever. That said, my bed was comfortable enough to make a convincing argument otherwise, especially with Dawn there. She was lying with her feathers against my side, one wing over me, breathing quickly enough that I knew she was awake too. But clearly, both of us were in no rush to let this moment go. It took me about ten minutes, but I finally mustered the self control to get up. I wasn’t off the clock yet.
Dawn’s wing slipped away from me as I started to move off the bed. “Mm?” she said a bit drowsily. And with a hint of disappointment, too.
"Need to get up. See if there's any more news...besides, can't sleep any longer." I explained.
"Busy bastard." Dawn said.
"Sorry." I smiled wanly.
Dawn snickered lightly and got up. She started redoing her chest-wrap; that’s kind of a complex process for her, but by now she had it down to a well-practiced dance. Meanwhile, I went over to the computer and sat down. You know, in the all of four feet between the bed and computer desk. I loaded 3R again, and checked if anything new was up. The story was indeed up, big flashing headlines. “Bast 2IC Killed in Tel Aviv.”
"Story's up," I told Dawn as I loaded it. I read with rapt attention; the article confirmed the death of Nkosi, by an unknown commando group of five or less, with the final wound inflicted by sword. Further on, it detailed the likely impacts on trade this would cause, and what factions and marks should stay away from the area while Bast vented off her anger. Athene was listed as one of those advised to stay away, though Echidna, Typhon, and Selene were not listed.
"5 or less people, unknown, sword. And I'm advised to avoid the area,” I repeated to Dawn. “Wonderful." I rubbed my brow. Just what I *DIDN’T* want to wake up to.
"Doesn't really matter, does it?" Dawn said.
"Depends." I replied. "Worried about Nick."
Dawn stepped over to the corner of the bed nearest the computer. I slid away to let her read the article, but she only skimmed it, not seeming as much interested in reading the entire thing.
"What do you want to do while we're out here?" Dawn asked.
"Not sure anymore; you got a suggestion?" I turned back to the computer and checked my email. I went through it and answered what I needed to, deleted what I didn’t. It didn’t take too long. Dawn just waited.
"Was gonna hire the mercenaries, but that's not necessary anymore...now I've gotta bear the bad news back. Fun." I was more talking to myself than anyone else. Not complaining, really. Just trying to make sense of it all.
Dawn birdsat on the bed. "And was going to get a hot breakfast and shave."
I smirked. "That doesn't need to be mentioned; you know I always do."
"Lighter side." Dawn noted.
I nodded. "Thanks."
I headed to make a breakfast for us. Robjeet was already out, probably to the gym, so I made us both some oatmeal and eggs. Nothing exceptionally complicated, but a nice change of pace. We made small talk during that time, and afterwards, I went to shave. Trying to shave with a straight-razor on a ship, especially in choppy waters, just doesn’t work. So I had close to five days of stubble to shave.
After a few moments, I heard a knock at the bottom of the bathroom door from Dawn. “Hey, Nate...I’m going to head down to the archives, see if there's anything in the V-logs about this stuff, alright?" V-logs are venture logs, the data compiled after a run about things. It’s the best way to find out about more-obscure realm details and stories.
I nodded, even though Dawn couldn’t see it...and nicked myself with the razor. Dammit. "That's actually a good idea; I'll meet you down there when I'm done." Dawn answered in the affirmative and headed down. After I’d stopped bleeding and finished shaving, I followed her down about a half-hour later.
When I got to the archives, I had to glance around a bit before I found Dawn. She was sitting at a table with a few items pulled from the archives. A few were books, which meant they were older, already having been compiled. There were a few newer ones which were still manuscripts being worked on.
I pulled up a seat at the table across from her, glancing over what she had. "Found some stuff, did you? Cool. Anything you find yet, or should I start browsing one myself?"
Dawn talon-grabbed a book and plunked it over to me. Guess it was the latter answer. "I grabbed a few Egyptian and Greek logs. Let's see if we can't find something at least a /little/ similar to what we're dealing with." She said. "Focused on Underworld-y stuff.”
I took the book and started at the index, skimming through it and looking for anything useful. This was a well-developed skill for me, from my time in school. Seemed it was one of The Mordant Cadre's venture logs. The Mordant Cadre are the rock-stars of realmwalking, with their members having been present at many of the major events over the last two decades. They’re a great resource and have been in more than a few movies and documentaries, when they have time.
The book chronicled one of their forays into the underworld of Greece. It was long, complex, and dramatic, and told from about a dozen viewpoints. Skimming was indeed useful...after I finished that book, I went to the next. All told, me and Dawn were down there about 6 hours before we ran out of material. We compiled what we knew about souls and the underworld into a few pages of written notes, and I made a second copy just in case.
The next two days were full of general resupply and I had to check my equipment for realm degradation. A few parts in my crossbow needed to be replaced due to corrosion. We also had a meeting with AdminOps to explain what was going on. It wasn’t a huge problem, we just had to explain what we were up to, and they knew we were in kind of a rare situation. So we just had to fill out paperwork, and promise that we’d keep paying our dues on the money I made, whenever I got paid.
I also made a phonecall to my parents, explaining why I’d been out of touch. That went...a bit more rockily. They’d been worried I was hurt or something, and they still didn’t entirely approve of my job. And someone had told them a...wildly inaccurate description of what a Mark was, and so I had to spend a lot of time explaining that to them. I still got a bit of a reaming though. But after a few hours on the phone, we got everything squared away for now.
After that, I spent some time with Dawn on the night before we left again. We were in the middle of general small talk when she asked.
“Have you told them about me, yet?”
I paused for a second. Wasn’t a question I was keen on answering. "Admittedly, no. I wasn't sure if you wanted me to mention that."
"Don't think they'll react well, huh?"
"I honestly don't know." I said. "I can tell them if you'd want."
Dawn shook her head. "Nah, I'm not gonna force it. Was mostly just wondering."
"Ahh. Well, it'll come up eventually, I'm sure. Just been avoiding some of the more edgy issues right now. They may not be SUPER religious, but sometimes they judge before they get all the info."
Dawn paused, then commented. "Went badly?"
"Not the worst. They found out about Marking from someone else, and so inquired about that. Not the worst reaming I've ever had, though." I admitted.
"Lucky." Dawn said.
"Thanks." I said. I wasn’t sure if it was a compliment, but...I figured I’d take a shot.
"I seem to remember a similar conversation, that ended with 'well, we'll see you when you get your body back, dear.'"
Oh. That wasn’t a compliment. "I thought your family visited you sometimes...?” Pause. "Some of them, at least."
"Some, sure. It helps."
"Come Christmas, I'll introduce you to my brother." Dawn said, trying to break the mood.
I nodded. "I look forward to it."
Dawn hopped off the couch and onto her bedding. She didn’t have to go far, given her studio apartment. I joined her after a moment, and she scooted over to make room.
"I stopped being depressed about it awhile back." She admitted.
"That's good." Didn’t know what else to say.
Dawn relaxed against me. "Nice that most people can see deeper than the feathers."
"Yeah." I still was kinda...unsure what to say.
Dawn picked up on it. She looked at me in the eyes. "Where do you see this all going, Nate? Once this is all over?"
I’d never thought about it. "The relationship? A few more months, some more dating, and further than that in the future." It was the best I could come up with.
Dawn smirked, laughing once. “No idea either, huh?”
She saw right through me. "Not really, no. Sorry."
"Of what the future holds for us."
"Yeah, I am."
Dawn smirked a bit more. "Been there, Nate."
"Glad I've got company, then."
Back to the Grove
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