Further Introductions

(OOC – The mangled bits I could salvage from the original post I wrote)

The Crossroads, On the Cliffs.
The Day of the Heroes Arrival and Departure.

"You guys have a spaceship?" Steve asked.

"Hell yeah we do," answered Rok. "It goes really fast, shoots lasers, sleeps six and many more things."

"And has a broken fridge," added Nrak.

"I'd love to see it when we get back," Steve told them with enthusiastic interest at the thought of examining a genuine super-advanced alien vessel. "Maybe I can fix the refrigerator, if I can make any sense of your technology. I'm usually pretty handy with a toolbox," he said, before turning and following after Horns through the gateway.

The first time he had been transported through a spatial portal from the moon to the Crossroads the journey had seemed instantaneous, as though the inside of the hole was the other side. On this occasion though he had a sense of falling through a lengthy tunnel, and he was conscious of time passing for him inside it. Was this because they were moving not just through dimensional space but also backwards through the dimension of time? But how did time seem normal to his brain to even have such thoughts? Had the time of the Crossroads and Dalen synced up with each other through the gateway, along with a certain amount of breathable air? And why wasn't the gravity that was so tremendous it could bend space and time not tearing him to shreds?

Having been schooled in astrodynamics and celestial mechanics, the physics of a non-hypothetical and functioning Einstien Rosen bridge were still far beyond the American astronaut's ken, and so of course was the Being who had effortlessly created it. General relativity suggested a wormhole was possible, and there was no doubt to him that more things were possible in the infinite possibility of the multiverse than he could readily imagine. More in heaven and earth that was dreamt of in his philosophies, to paraphrase ol' Will. Nrak and Rok being mere two such examples. He couldn't wait to find out where they came from. Might they live on a planet in Earth's galactic neighbourhood? For alien beings they were surprisingly very human-like in a lot of ways... or was the soul-charged translation power only fooling him into thinking so? He could not yet be certain about anything, and knew that he had a lot to learn. This mission was sure to be a crash course for a lot of things.

Dalen Agricultural Region, Day 1

Taking in everything he could see with his eyes inside the interdimensional gateway, Steve suddenly saw the mouth of the portal appear before him and the blazing gold that lay beyond it. For a split second he feared there had been some horrible mistake and the portal was sending them directly into a sun.

But then his flight training took over and he reflexively bent his knees and launched himself into a parachute roll despite not wearing one. The thick wheat cushioned his controlled landing, and he was smoothly up on his feet again in seconds, blinking a little from the radiant late morning sky overhead and looking for all the world like the navy commando he was dressed as. He surveyed the deceptively innocuous landscape until his keen gaze fell on Twiggy's tall and slender frame.

“Welcome to Dalen, Steve. And I’ll just say it; I do appreciate a man in uniform.”

Steve smiled at her words, but more at the way the spirited French woman was able to take all of this in easy stride, much better than he was able. It reminded him again that he knew nothing about her, or any of his other new teammates—not even most their names yet.

"I hope you weren't waiting too long for the rest of us," he replied in way of greeting. "There were a few more questions I wanted to pose to the Being before leaping into this place. Apparently Dalen is not only populated by humans, but creatures of myth and legend; so you never know what we might find, or what might find us..."

Steve saw she carried some kind of a quarter-staff, reminding him he did not have a weapon. Not a gun, not even a pocket knife.

"This is a lot of land," Horns said, looking around at the vast terrain surrounding them.

Steve breathed in the air that was noticeably very fresh and clean. He plucked a piece of wheat and almost put it into his mouth like a Norman Rockwell farm character, before thinking better of it. There were likely to be very foreign microbes his body would have no immunity to. Unless being Awakened strengthened their bodies against such dangers they would need to be really careful about what they ate and drank here. "The vegetation seems Earth-like," he observed aloud. "If I didn't know better that's where I'd say we were. Back in the pre-industrial age."

Horns stared off towards the mountains. "Now what?"

"We wait for the others to get here," Steve answered, "then we begin to explore. Very cautiously. The Being said Dalen is like Earth's Middle Ages, which were very dangerous times."

"The name of mine is 'Horns', do you have my comprehension?" The Viking Man said to Chi who was apparently limited to comprehending English.

Steve stifled a laugh. "Your name is Horns? Seriously?"

Chi said, "From what I'm getting, this is an agricultural field."

You think? Steve thought sarcastically at this statement of the obvious, but then Chi went on to say: "There are others around, some distance away though... No, wait." Chi focused on a nearby stand of wheat. "Heads up, I think we already messed up."

"Someone's spotted us?" Steve said, suddenly alert. "Oh, terrific." His mind nervously flashed to tales of the war raging in Vietnam, where American soldiers had a devil of a time constantly trying to tell the difference between friendly villagers and Viet Cong guerrillas.

The astronaut abruptly turned as the remainder of the Awakened Heroes exited the portal, some none too gracefully. Yamoto looked like a ridiculous floundering crow in the black feather dress. Steve knelt down and helped Rin to her feet, then briefly examined her to make sure she had not been seriously injured in the three-meter fall when she'd landed smack on her face.

Vex held her arms out like a wedge and slowly moved them apart. The crop before her divided as shafts of wheat parted and bent to lay down upon the ground, opening up a path to the now exposed Orla & Horo. Vex gave Chi a quick look then took a few steps forward.

“Greetings. Do the names Orla Carling or Aiden Brennus strike a chord of familiarity with either of you?”

"It might or it mightn't," Horo said with a grin holding the hat on his head as a small breeze kicked up. "You wouldn't be here to hurt the lady would you?" he asked as he looked over the veritable grab-bag of individuals before him.

"I am Orla Carling," the diminutive faerie elf announced unhesitatingly. "Welcome to Dalen."

"Interesting trick with the wheat, I hope you didn't damage it. People around here rely on that for food," Horo added, looking from under his hat.

Orla had been closely studying the strange group of visitors with her array of extra-perceptionary powers; she had actually sensed that Vex possessed psionic abilities, but had not been able to tell their exact specificity until the telekinetic display. She could glean little of Nrak and Rok either, beyond their mere presence, as their minds and life signatures were far too alien to what she was accustomed.

In addition to the short Rorarkian and the half-Tor, Orla was most fascinated by Chi, who she felt a certain kinship toward after seeing the way the plants lowered him to the ground from the portal. It was quite clear to her that the man was deeply attuned with the living natural world, to such an extent that she wondered if he might be the progeny of Fernoia, the Elder Goddess of Nature. Chi's mystical aura was dazzling to her Faerie sight as if he were a demigod of some kind; but she could not help but notice that all of the group, even the humans, were unusually powerful in spirit.

Horns sighed as he felt his tension ease away. "You're the one we're supposed to meet."

"Yes, I am. Please accept our apologies for concealing ourselves. I was waiting until you had all emerged from the gateway before introducing myself." Orla's soft voice spoke in a precise tone, conscious that she was speaking to divine servants of her deity. She regarded Chi with something approaching veneration, and pulled her silver-blue gaze away to look up at Horns. "I was told of your coming only a short time ago," she said, curtsying slightly and extending her small, dainty hand to him. "I gladly greet you in the name of Avara Xauldar. I trust your sojourn among us shall be a profitable and pleasant one. It is our immense privilege to foster and favour your visit here to our land, the Kingdom of Dalen, so that you may seek your missing follower, Aiden Brennus, who by Fernoia's blessing I have no doubt will be found in short time, alive and well. My assistance and resources are at your utmost disposal, and Horo will also aid your holy mission in any way he can." She casually glanced over her shoulder at Horo to see whether his initial wariness of these people had faded.

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