User:Arrow Quivershaft/Meeting the Clients
|3P story universe|
Meeting the Clients
It was about a week later, setting the date to be July 17th, 2020. I was sitting on Dawn’s couch snuggled up with her, watching some television. It wasn’t really very GOOD television, but it was a good excuse to spend time with Dawn. I think we were probably paying more attention to each other than we were to the show, anyways.
I was wearing a polo and slacks and carrying my cell; I was on reserve right now so I could be called in anytime, so it was best I looked presentable. Which was a good thing, given it wasn’t even an hour after I got over there that the phone rang. I pulled it out with my free arm and checked the number. Administrative Operations, read the caller ID. Great, a job. Not that I dislike my work, just... it was a bad time. Guess that’s how it always works.
“Excuse me, Dawn. Work.” I put the TV on pause as Dawn snugged me with her wing a bit tighter. She kept quiet, though. “Hello, Nathan Renfrew.”
“Nate, it’s Adminops. Up for a job in two days? Corinth run, weeklong babysit.” It was a voice I didn’t recognize. That’s not surprising; adminops shuffles lots of employees and temps in and out, especially for the phones.
“That doesn’t sound too bad. Nothing better to do; any more details before I sign on?”
There was a long pause on the other end of the line. “It’s... a little different. Standard procedure; come on down to the admin building and you’ll get briefed and meet the client.”
“Sure thing, how soon do you need me? Now?” My suspicion was raised slightly. A little different, how?
“Client's asking to meet her guide, buddy, you know the drill. Are you available, or you wanna put it off to tomorrow?"
I sighed. So much for an afternoon with Dawn. "I can be there in 10 minutes. See you then."
I waited for them to hang up, and put my phone back once they did. I didn’t wanna get a rep for putting things off while I was trying to break into the big leagues, so unfortunately that meant less time with Dawn today.
Dawn looked over. “Go ahead.”
"Corinth run. One week. Leaves in two days, I agreed." I paused. “Sorry.”
Dawn shrugged a bit. “Go on then. Maybe see if they don't mind a tagalong."
"Ok. I'll try and make it back here later today, but you know how that sometimes turns out. I'll check about the tagalong." I smiled weakly, and let myself out.
It was a quick jog to the Operations building from the flat, so I made good time. After a year in realm, I’m probably in the upper quartile of human fitness, and definitely can keep a good pace at most aerobic activities. I slowed down as I approached the building to prevent being out of breath, and headed in. I got waved into one of the offices by a secretary who was on his phone, and headed inside.
When I entered, the ops coordinator was at his usual desk...along with a short fox anthro sitting in a chair nearby. Hey...wasn’t that...? No, it couldn’t be, could it? I shook my head and nodded to her as she waved a bit shyly, and looked to the admin. “Afternoon, sir. Where’s my client?”
“She’s right there, Nate. Blossom, Nathan. Nathan, Blossom.”
I looked over and walked over, offering her a hand. I hope she hadn’t caught my gaffe there. “Nathan Renfrew. Pleased to meet you; you’ll be my client?”
The fox giggled a bit as she shook my hand. “Yes...just call me Blossom, and yes we’ll be working together.
It wasn’t the worst name I’d ever heard, but my shock was probably apparent on my face. I quickly tried to mask it. “Alright then, Blossom; will this be your first time realmwalking?”
Blossom nodded. "Yesss... is it dangerous?"
Oh god. She was green. Or worse, one of those romantics who ignored the danger. Green would be better, though... still a weeklong trip to with a greenie? This would be fun. “Moderately, yes. Very exciting, though...my job will be to keep you out of danger.”
“That’s very nice of you," Blossom said as she stood. "I will try not to get in your way."
I smiled, trying to mask my worry. She was NAIVE. "Sure. You want to have lunch, or take a tour of our facilities?"
"Sounds like fun." Blossom nodded.
"Ok, then. How about a tour, and then supper?"
Blossom paused. "Do you mind if i pick up a friend first?"
"No, not at all." Probably sent a party member to get rooms or such. "I can wait here, or we can go get him together."
“Well, you'll be working with him too, so we might as well go together." She smiled at me. She was cute, I won’t argue that. The thing is that cute doesn’t get you too far in the realms.
"Ok. How many people are in your group?" Standard boilerplate. I nodded thanks to the ops coordinator as we left his office.
She turned and started heading outside. "Just me and Alex.”
"Will it be his first time as well?" As we got outside, she turned and headed towards the train station.
She nodded at the question. "Yes.”
“Alright. I'll wait on the questions until we catch up with him.
Blossom smiled again. "Alright."
We arrived at the train station a bit later, and Blossom headed over towards a guy who was about my height, blond hair, blue eyes. He was looking around lazily, like he was a bit bored...probably been there awhile. I followed Blossom, figuring she knew who she was looking for.
As she approached him, she called out his name. “Alex, find anything?"
Alex nodded to Blossom. "Yeah, I'll show you later."
Blossom motioned to me. "This is Nathan; he's going to show us around and guide us to Luna."
"Nathan Renfrew. I'll be your realm guide." I offered Alex my hand. Luna? That’s the Roman term for Selene; it’s seldom used except by romantics, but she was green enough that I guess it fit.
Alex took my hand and shook with a firm grip. "Alex, pleased to meet you."
I smiled at him. He seemed a bit more sensible. "Same. I heard this'll be your first time in the Realms?"
Alex nodded. "More or less."
OK. Both new, but still, guy seemed to have a better head. "Just looking for a brief vacation then, given your destination?"
Alex glanced to Blossom, like he was expecting her to answer... which she did. "”We’re just looking to see Luna about something."
Ok, still a babysit run. "Sure, sure. I understand."
I looked back to Alex. "As I was telling Blossom, I can take you on a tour of the facilities, and then we can have dinner."
Alex nodded. "That sounds like a plan."
Blossom took Alex’s hand. "Let’s go, then."
I started off, leading them. "If you have any questions, feel free to ask at any time."
Blossom nodded "Alright.” She definitely was rubbernecking already, so I figured I’d have a lot of questions to answer.
I wasn’t disappointed. Blossom was absolutely FULL of questions about things, keeping me talking all the way to our first stop, which was the general supply store.
"This is where we keep most of our more basic gear. Tents, ropes, light sources, oil, other things. It's all available here, if you didn't bring it yourself." Yeah, I was pitching. I’m half expected to do so. I made sure to pay extra attention to Blossom and accommodating for her short stature, which was... easier to do these days, admittedly. She seemed a bit put off by the attention for some reason, so I tried to stop after a while.
Alex eyed a few of the tents. “Hmm. Mever been camping with a tent before ..." Wonderful.
Blossom one-upped him. "I've never been camping." I suddenly got a bad feeling about this whole run.
"Slept on Chuck's back a couple of times. That was interesting." Alex said to Blossom. Maybe Chuck was a centaur they knew or something. They exchanged some other banter I didn’t understand. Maybe some inside jokes. I didn’t inquire further.
Blossom turned back to me. “So, have you been to all the realms?"
I shook my head. "No, I've only worked in the Greek realm so far."
"So it will be your first time in Selene’s realm?"
"No, I've been there a few other times. It's a popular destination."
"Oh, really?" She seemed curious.
I nodded. "Popular getaway spot, yep."
"I could see why," she smiled.
Alex piped up. "Ah, that's good, we weren't looking for any excitement."
"Well, that'll be on the trip there,” I explained. I try not to keep any secrets from my customers.
Alex looked at me curiously. "Hmm?'
"It's more dangerous getting to Selene's realm than it is actually being there."
Blossom spoke up. “But you know how to get there safely, right?"
I smiled slightly. Shouldn’t be too hard. "That's my job."
“Good, I don’t want anyone hurt." Blossom stated.
Alex nodded, and eyed my mark. I glanced back at him, but I didn’t bring it up if he didn’t.
I took them next show them the weapons and armor areas. I had them wait briefly while I checked in on the status of my Heltan, making sure it could be ready in a few days for me. The armorsmith assured me it’d be ready and so I went back to my clients.
Blossom asked before I even got back. "What was that about?"
“I was just checking if they could get my new armor done by the time we leave," I explained.
Blossom nodded and set down a staff she’d been fiddling with. "I’m going to get some new clothes before we leave... some people seem... uneasy with me around."
I nodded to that. Might help hide her from the media, too. “It happens sometimes. Shouldn’t be a problem around the campus, though.”
"Only real men can handle a foxy lady," Alex joked.
Blossom rolled her eyes a bit at that, and then we headed out again. I took them out to a nice restaurant on the campus for dinner and conversation, so we could talk a bit more.
We resumed the conversation after the food had been ordered and arrived, making some small talk before then. Blossom ordered a vegetarian meal, lots of salads, which I thought was odd, given her appearance. Alex ordered a steak and salad, and I got a steak as well. Nobody makes Italian food like the Italians, but I wanted something a bit cleaner tonight.
During the meal, I resumed talking business. "So. You wanted to leave in two days for your little getaway? Did you have any other questions?"
Blossom spoke first. "Should we get weapons before we leave?"
"That'd be a good idea. I personally always go armed, and there's no guarantee on what we will or won't be encountering." I was just assuming they’d be kinda naive now and was taking it in stride.
"I’m afraid I’m not trained in any weapons... I've never fought anyone before." Blossom admitted, a bit sheepishly.
"Hmm, I'm not too experienced with guns... nor with anything else really.” Alex agreed.
I hid my surprise, then stated simply. "Guns don't work in the realms."
Blossom seemed confused. "So what do we use?"
"We'll try and avoid monsters, but you should probably carry something just in case. A dagger or two, maybe. A staff. We can look into a spring rifle if you really want, but if you have no experience with guns, may as well not. Other options are swords, knives, maces, bows, crossbows, slings...
Alex frowned. "Great..."
"What would you recommend?" Blossom asked,
"I personally carry a crossbow and a dagger. It works pretty well for me. They don't require huge amounts of skill or strength." I elaborated.
Blossom nodded. “What do you think I should use?”
"I'd just recommend a knife. Its a useful tool. We'll try and avoid any fighting. Could get a solid walking stick, too.”
"Alright. I’ll pick up something tomorrow..when i shop for clothes.” Blossom said.
"And me?" Alex spoke.
Blossom started pushing her food around on her plate, what half was left of it. Something was bothering her, I could tell.”
"I'd say the same. If everything goes right, you won't have to use it."
Alex nodded, chewing on a mouthful of steak.
"We should get some sleep... Long day tomorrow." Blossom said to Alex.
I looked to her. "Are you nervous?"
She shook her head at me. “No,” she said, a bit too quickly. I decided not to press; their reasons were theirs to share or keep. “Thank you for the tour.” she said, standing. She bowed to me.
Alex suddenly stood up, knocking his chair over. He hurried off to the restroom, pushing people aside in his hurry. Maybe his steak wasn’t quite done; either way, he was gone before I could say anything. I looked back to Blossom
“Sure thing. Can I ask you a question before you go?"
"Would you mind if a friend of mine possibly came along? She'd be able to help us avoid monsters." There, I checked on the tagalong.
“Would it cost me anything extra?"
I shook my head. "No. Nothing." I’d gladly take the cut in my pay to get a second person to watch these people.”
“If you think we can trust her, it's fine." Blossom said, then grimaced. She said a bit too much and she knew it. I mentally filed it away.
“Ok. I’ll talk with her tonight.” I took the bill to cover it. “I'll get ready tomorrow for your trip. You can reach me at my cellphone if you need me.” I gave her my cell number.
Blossom nodded and looked to the bathrooms. "Alright, we will meet you at the agency." she said, obviously distracted.
"Alright. Is that all for tonight?"
She nodded again. "Yes, thank you for the tour."
I smiled to the fox. "Not a problem. I will see you either tomorrow or on the 19th."
"I will contact you tomorrow if you wish." She looked at me, tail swishing a bit behind her.
"Only if you need me. Have a good evening."
I paid the tab off and headed out, since I’d clearly spent my welcome for the evening and they wanted some privacy. Fine by me. I headed back to Dawn’s place, wanting to see if she was available yet. I knocked on the door a few times and waited for her to answer.
It didn’t take long before she got the door, twisting the low-set lever knob open with her foot. "Come on in, you." She stepped aside to let me enter.
"Sorry about that," I apologized, entering.
She closed the door behind me. "What for? We know it's part of the job."
"Guess that's true. Just trying to be polite.”
Dawn smirked. "Where were we?"
"Watching TV, I believe. As for your question about tagging along, it's a trip to visit Selene. Want to come? They said it was fine."
She nodded. "I'm up. I do the dry runs all the time."
"Good. I'm glad...it'll be a big hand. It's gonna be a bit more work than I anticipated. They're...green. Like, pine-tree green." I sighed. "When they asked whether they should carry weapons, one of them said he had no skill with guns, in a way that implied he thought they'd work in the realms."
Dawn grimaced a bit. "Ohhh boy..."
"Yeah, I know. Hopefully we'll bring them both back."
Dawn nodded soberly. "Babysitting run. Gotcha."
"Yeah. On a side note... one of them's that fox-girl from the news stories. Blossom."
"I /still/ haven't figured out what all the fuss is with these supposed pocket realmies or whatever..." Dawn shrugged a bit.
"Neither have I, although speculation is that they might be harbingers of a fourth realm opening soon."
"Pff. If it happens, it happens."
"Yeah, it does. Just saying. It's a babysitting run, so they can have their little vacation, and they're really insistent that they both come back. Which I hope on, but a weeklong trip into the realms being that green? Kinda just asking for it, if you ask me."
"Eye in the sky, at your side."
I smiled a bit. “Thanks... So, want to pick up where we left off?"
Dawn was already heading back for the couch. "MMhm."
It was the next day. I’d already gotten all the paperwork (waivers, insurance, travel documents) done with Alex and Blossom, and all the gear was rented. I’d help them divvy it up for easy carrying while we were on the ship to Corinth, since that’d take at least a day. I expected I’d carry a fair bit of the gear, but hey, that’s my job.
Alex was wrapping up a few things, which gave me a bit of time to chat with Blossom. I was there in the waiting room with her, wearing a polo and slacks again. Need to keep up appearances. Once we got in realm, then my appearance would be more...rough.
Blossom was there wearing a white hooded robe she’d rented, along with a wood-aluminum staff she’d gotten to use as a walking stick and defense weapon in realm. She looked like a role playing game healer, to be honest. Or a hippie. Either worked well in Selene’s realm though, so it wouldn’t be that big a deal.
She smiled at me as she stood up. "What do you think?"
"Looks good on you,” I admitted.
She nodded. "Thanks, I thought it would put people at ease if they didn’t see me as so different."
I nodded. "Good idea. I think it'll work, yeah." I hoped.
"So, everything seems done, what should we do now?"
I paused. "Well, whatever you want, really. You're the client."
"Well, how can i decide? I've never been here before."
She made a good point. "Fair enough. I could introduce you to the other person coming along, if you want. Or we could get something to eat.”
"That sounds great." She nodded eagerly.
I nodded. "Ok, lemme call her and see if she's available." I took out my cell and dialed Dawn’s number, but her line was busy. "Hmm. Guess that'll have to wait, her line is busy."
“Oh... well, anything interesting around here?" If nothing else, she was definitely an eternal optimist.
"Well, unfortunately, I showed you most of the campus yesterday...hmm."
"Want to go out to get something to eat then?" she suggested.
"We can. The Olympics are also on." I offered.
"What are the Olympics?"
This pocket-realmie story was making more sense to me now. "Sporting competitions. All the countries in the world send their best athletes to a specified meeting place to see who's got the best runners, swimmers, bikers..."
Blossom spoke briefly. “I've only seen one sport."
"Oh. Well, guess you wouldn't be much interested in that..."
“Does it have the snowboarding?"
I shook my head. "Not right now. That'd be the Winter Olympics, but those aren't for two more years."
"Oh.." She seemed disappointed.
I wondered where she’d seen snowboarding. "I could probably get some videos of the Winter Olympics up on a computer if you wanted, though."
She shook her head. "That's okay, maybe some other time."
"Ok." I nodded.
“We could just go for a walk or out to eat somewhere?" She flipped back to her bubbly self.
"Sure, that works." I led her to the door, and to a local Mediterranean restaurant. We got there and got situated; I took the tab again.
After her order came, she looked up to me. "So where did you grow up at?"
"Rochester, Minnesota, United States."
“Was it nice?”
“Well, I couldn’t have asked for much better. I enjoyed my childhood, I guess that’s the best way I can summarize it.” I explained.
She nodded. “I’m glad.” She paused a moment, then lowered her voice. “I never used to look this way. I was really quite different and I sometimes miss it."
Ok, now THIS was interesting. "What'd you use to look like? If you don't mind me asking."
"Well, I was a flying flower with the power to read minds. Not alot of people liked that though.”
"I'm sure. Mind reading could be viewed as sorta...invasive." I probably looked skeptical. Man, this pocket realm was SOMETHING ELSE.
“What’s with the look?" Blossom asked.
"Well...just...that seems kinda odd. Don’t get those kinda stories around here often.”
She giggled a bit. "Well, I’m not exactly normal.."
"I guess that’s true."
"I’m still learning to be a fox; I was human before this.."
"So are a lot of people in the realms..." I commented.
"A lot of people were turned into animals?"
I shook my head. "Not animals, but mythological creatures." Step carefully.
She sighed a bit. "Yeah.."
"I don't mean to sound overbearing, but don't get captured in the realms,” I cautioned. Best to cover my bases now.
She nodded solemnly. "I won't.."
I detected an extra note of seriousness here. "You lose a friend in the realms, or something?"
She changed the subject quickly. "Just do me a favor?"
"If it's possible, sure." She’s my client.
I browquirked slightly. "I don't want to die anymore than anyone else. So no, I won't die."
“Good." She fell silent as she ate. I let her, figuring I’d probably hit a sore spot.
After a while, Blossom finished and sighed "So, I guess we’re going tomorrow."
"That's your choice, not mine." I clarified.
"So..you have to do everything I say?" she asked me, smirking.
I shook my head. "Not entirely. My job is to escort you to your destination, and maintain safety while doing so."
Blossom giggled a bit. "Of course."
"So you can give me commands, but I will be evaluating them in the interest of keeping you safe. Worst case, I'll also have to give commands to help." I shook my head slightly, taking a bite of my food.
"I was just asking... no need to be so uptight..." Blossom smirked
"Don't be, just relax. I’m sure everything will be fine. I’m not worried; I’m sure you'll do a great job."
This was what I was trying to tell myself. On some level, it was nice to hear it come from someone else...then again, it wasn’t ME I was concerned about getting out of the realms.
"...Thanks." I said, sincerely.
"You’re welcome. Besides, Luna will help us; I’m sure of it." she said, slightly romantically.
"It may be better for you to call her Selene. Luna is the Roman name and Selene is the Greek name. Use of the Roman names is very rare."
"She has many names as I read, she's also known as Artemis and Diana."
I shook my head. "Artemis and Diana are the Greek and Roman names for a different goddess, actually."
"Really..I must haveread too much and I got my facts mixed. It’s harder to learn when you can’t hear people’s thoughts..."
"I wouldn't know."
"Well, it’s a lot easier to get things done as well."
"I guess it would be,” I agreed.
Blossom paused, thinking. “Soo..can i ask you something?"
"Of course you can."
"I saw your tattoo..what is it?"
"I'm a devout follower of Athene. That's my mark. It indicates my allegiance to Athene, and helps protect me in-realm.”
“Can I see it?" she asked.
I put down my fork and held my hand out for her to look at.
She took it in her hands and examined it, flipping my hand over to see the helmet as well. "So is Athene nice?"
Hard question to answer. "Yes. She is."
Blossom nodded. "Alright..I think we should go back now, Alex might wonder where I went."
"Alright." I paid the tab on my card and stood, leading her back to the meeting place.
A New Realm...?
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