A year. It had been a year long trial full of official papers, interviews, legal battles, and annoying phone calls to underpaid and over worked government employees, but there she was waiting before the first gates that would open to her new home and future. Reed chuckled as the rather on the nose thought struck her. Her new home would be in ‘New Home’, the Monster city within the young tiny nation. Slender fingers tapped out a haphazard beat against her steering wheel as she waited in line, her Hyundai Sedan purring away, and AC blasting as much as it could to beat the summer heat. She was four cars back from the small gates that sat before the giant walls that surrounded the nation of Monsters.
There where three gates, each tiny and cramped looking, a single bar keeping vehicles from passing. They certainly weren’t very secure, but this was just the first check point. The small glass boxes with one or two workers were an obvious front. They had to be. Reed smirked, red painted lips curling as hazel eyes roved over the cramped looking gate houses, only one open and manned by a single Monster with a Human partner. She was the last in line, thus it gave her enough time to take in the sights. While the border didn’t look very secure, she noted the cameras obviously placed on the tiny gate houses swivel freely as though directed by hand. They would pause and move independently.
Beyond the pitiful border guard the road was lined with small lights and decorative lamp posts, the stems holding them up looking a bit too thick. The grass along the road was lush, and thick, cut to perfection. Golden flowers made a beautiful splash of color as they lined just about everywhere. They swung on hanging baskets from a few of the posts, and created a stair step pattern on the field of manicured grass. It didn’t escape her the dark orb like shapes that hid within the flowers. Some might think them the normal mirror balls one may find in rural gardens, but the tint seemed too dark. “More cameras…”. The woman muttered before pressing gently on the gas to move forward in the line, a driver being turned away. It was taking forever just to move several feet before having to wait at least a half hour to do so again. At least she could take in the wonder that was the central gates.
The central gates where nothing like the border gates. If an ant were to stand next to a lion it could be an apt description between them. The main gates towered high, the top hitting at least three stories. They were thick, made of some sort of dark wood, and carved beautifully, the Royal Crest proudly standing out in the center. The wings, triangles and circle looked to have been created from beaten gold, and then inlaid to the wood. It was majestic, if not somewhat intimidating. Beneath the Royal Symbol someone had carved a rendition of Mt. Ebbot and the breaking of the barrier as Monsters of varying types looked to be marching from a cavern from its side. The artistry was masterful in the clean lines, and elegant swirls cut so lovingly into those doors. It was a jarring sight against the slate militant gray of the walls the doors were set in. It was a bold statement to those on the outside that the Monsters were not weak, and could defend themselves. Well, that was what Reed took out of it, that and the whole view reminded her of Jurassic Park.
It was with that thought in mind, and the opening theme firmly stuck in her head that she was finally able to pull into the lane, the other two vehicles having been turned away in tandem. She caught a glimpse of an expensive camera pointed towards her as the Black van made its way past and understood why. They had been reporters. She snorted at their temerity. It had been well established on the News and any other platform that the Monster Royal Counsel had banned outside reporters from entering their borders. The only way they could enter was with an invitation from a member of the counsel, something that was quite rare, even more so after the bombings started. The Monster Government weren’t about to allow any more risk than necessary to keep their people safe, secure, and away from being trapped once again. Reed had to be honest, it was one of the reasons she respected the rulers.
It was time to move forward, and she was excited, hiding it well beneath a polite smile as she rolled down her window when pulling just under the overhang of the gate. She was finally able to get a good look at the personnel of whom would be the first of several barriers to get past. A young man with silken short cut blond hair and a chiseled chin immediately marched towards her vehicle. He was tall, had an athletic build, and wore a set of military fatigues. “Army..” Reed thought as she reached into her purse for the proper paperwork to hand to him.
“Morning Miss. Identification and Paperwork please.” He was quick and to the point, his voice a low tenor, piercing blue eyes conveying that he would take no shenanigans. It made sense, considering that reporters could be annoyingly persistent, and she was sure that he hadn’t been able to let his irritation go. She mused silently that he was probably well due for a break, thus she smiled and handed all of her documents to him. “Reason for arrival?”
“Permanent.” He barely looked up to acknowledge her, only giving a curt nod.
“Are you keeping your vehicle? Are you aware of…” The soldier paused as he narrowed his eyes at her state ID, his gaze flicking between it and her with a hint of surprise. “Didn’t think they were letting your sort in, least not for a while anyway.”
Reed burst into laughter as the soldier’s brows rose. “One would think, but here I am. It only took them and our guys a metric fuck ton of time to get the ball rolling.” She shrugged, a smirk on her lips, throwing him a wink and gesturing towards the tiny gatehouse. “But you would know all about the bullshit of bureaucracy, am I right?”
The soldier, Simmons as his name tag showed, couldn’t hold back a snort, his professional façade breaking. “No kidding.” He handed her back her forms with a shrug. “I’m sorry to say but you’re going to have to wait a little longer. Even with the Royal invitation we still need to check the database for your appointment and search your vehicle.”
“No worries. You do what you have to. I’ve waited a year. I can wait a bit longer….”She trailed off as her attention was suddenly on a figure that moved from within the gate and into her line of sight. There stood a six foot tall dog wearing a different form of fatigues that boasted the royal crest on each arm. She balked, forgetting what she was going to say next as she took the monster in. One might have called him nervous as he was constantly moving, paws twitching every so often, head swiveling back and forth, and ears clearly picking up every sound as they never stayed still. His fur was a soft gray, ears a much darker shade, and eyes a rich black that nearly matched his spots. On his hips in a holster were a pair of knives secured in a boiled leather sheath, the handles well worn with use. “It’s no wonder his paws keep twitching. The guy is probably used to having them in his hands.” Reed thought, before calling out, “Holy crap! A bipedal pupper!”
Simmons missed a step at her outburst as he was walking back to the shack, snorting as he attempted and failed to stifle a laugh. The monster froze with a confused, “Bork!” She burst out laughing at his bark. It was priceless and adorable. “Ey! Who you calling a Pupper human?” The dog monster stomped his way to the side of her vehicle, cocking his head to the side to eye her while she shook with amusement. “Something funny?” He growled, his lip lifting to show an impressive row of teeth.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to offend you mate.” She spluttered as she tried to get control of herself and hiccupping. “I just, it’s just…dammit. “ She wheezed before finally pulling herself together. “I just wasn’t expecting that and then you barked. It wasn’t that funny but with all the stress I just snapped. That and, well, I kind of really want to pet you?” His fur did look very soft.
“Don’t you even think about it!” Simmons’s shout from inside the gate made the Dog grunt, his sneer lifting to a smile and tail giving a single wag. “We’ll be here all damn day Doggo!”
‘Doggo’ chuffed a short laugh towards his partner before turning his head back to Reed his voice slightly graveled. “Sorry bout’ that human. It’s just been a long day and I assumed.”
She furrowed her brow at that. Assumed? What had he been dealing with to assume something? Her mind swirled before it halted at the obvious answer. Racism. Ah. She felt the weight of guilt hit her in the stomach for basically calling him a meme, and it only grew heavier as she noticed that he wasn’t looking her in the eye, instead through her as though trying to see everything at once. Was he blind? She bit her lip, moving a wayward strand of hair from her face nervously. What was she supposed to say to that, however as soon as she had moved his gaze snapped to her with such sharp focus she jumped a bit. “Oh! So, forgive me if this is rude, but, are you blind…uh..ish?” Why in the world was he guarding a gate if he was blind or even near it? That was dangerous on so many counts.
“Eh?” Doggo tilted his head at her before chuffing another laugh. “Nah. Used to be I could only see things if they moved, but not anymore.”
“Yeah. Got contacts now.” Doggo pointed to one of his eyes, allowing Reed to see a slight shimmer over the iris. She didn’t see the normal lines of a contact, just the odd shimmer. She also couldn’t help but wonder how in the world a monster would use contacts sense they were mostly made of magic, thus didn’t have the same jelly filled flesh balls that humans did. Corrective lenses shouldn’t have worked.
Doggo allowed her to lean forward as she investigated, his grin widening at her confusion. He was amused by the human’s concentration, and she seemed harmless, but his paws remained close to his knives. “Magic.”
“Huh?” The woman blinked, brought out of her musings at his short answer. Her brow furrowed for the barest moment before realization dawned on her, swiftly following that chagrin as she slammed her forehead into her steering wheel. “Of fucking course it is.” She groaned, mortified. It was so obvious. “Oh my stars why didn’t I think of that?!”
Simmons returned to see a chuckling Doggo and an embarrassed woman, the soldier turning towards Doggo with a questioning look. The Dog monster only grinned, his eyes sparkling with mischief. Simmons deadpanned, knowing exactly what had happened. It wasn’t the first time this had happened with his partner. He sighed and turned his attention to Reed, and held the papers for her to take. “He told you about his contacts didn’t he?” At the word ‘contacts’ the blond used his fingers to make air quotes. “Pulled the blind act?”
“Yeah he…wait..you mean I was pranked?!"
“Get used to it. Monsters love puzzles, pranks and whatever the Hell a jape is supposed to be.”
Reed took back her papers, her mouth open. “Are you serious?”
Simmons gave her a solemn nod. “Fraid so Ma’am.”
Reed snorted as she stuffed the papers back into their proper place, and shook her head. Doggo in the meantime simply grinned, his tail wagging. “I suppose I can live with that.” If that was a cultural thing life was going to be interesting.
Simmons smiled, his hand resting easily out of habit on the rifle that hung over his front in a tactical sling. “Your paperwork checks out Ms. Lane. If you could please exit the vehicle we’ll do a search and then you can go to the next heck point. If you’ll stand over there please.” He made a vague gesture to the guard shack as Doggo quickly entered only to exit with something long that he handed to his partner. Reed obliged, leaving everything in her car before walking her way to a shadowed area beneath the meager covering of the shack roof where it jutted out. She watched the guards work as she leaned against a pillar, her hands in her pockets.
The two made an efficient team. Doggo would circle the vehicle sniffing around it, pausing only if he wasn’t sure what a certain scent was. Simmons circled in a way that was always opposite to the dog monster, a long metal rod in his hand that had a round mirror with wheels attached to it. He would roll the mirror around beneath the car in a meticulous pattern to ensure he could see everything he could of the undercarriage, sometimes having to force an awkward angle just to be sure. Once the external search was finished Simmons set the stick aside to open all of the doors and trunk to allow Doggo easy access to sniff around. As soon as Doggo deemed it appropriate the human soldier ducked in to search every compartment he could, even including under her steering wheel. They found nothing save for a box of mint thin cookies that hadn’t been opened. Once they finished they placed everything back, and shut the doors, Simmons carrying the box to Reed and giving it a shake with a raised brow. “Sorry Ma’am but outside food is prohibited.
She merely shrugged. “Guess you’ll have to take it off my hands then. Can’t let good food go to waste right? No sense in throwing away Girl Scout cookies. That would be a tragedy.” Her grin was knowing and she didn’t miss the flash of gratitude in the soldiers sky blue eyes.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” He replied, setting the box on one of the concrete stands.
“What’s that?” Doggo sniffed the box curiously, his face alight with interest, his tongue lolling.
“Edible contraband. Sorry Doggo, but chocolate is bad for dogs. I’ll have to take care of it myself.” Simmons held a hand over his heart as though it was breaking for the Monster over the thought of being unable to eat the delicious cookies.
Doggo barked a laugh. “I’m a monster.”, before deftly picking up the box and shoving it into one of his cargo pockets.
“Hey!” Simmons gave a halfhearted protest, but relented with the shake of his head. He turned back to Reed. “Well Ms. Lane, you’re free to go. Just head toward the main gate and take the side door. Don’t worry you’ll see it once you get close. The large doors are just for show for now.”
Reed nodded, happy to once again be on track, and entered her car. As she placed it into gear she waved to the two with a smile. “Thanks guys. Be safe.”
“Thank you Ma’am. You too.”
Doggo simply waved, his mouth already full of his sweet prize.
Off we go into the wild blue yonder....
Reed: The heck is up with those gates? They're huge!
Reed: what no "that's what she said" joke?
Simmons: bite me.
Simmons: No! Bad Doggo! Stay!
Reed: Dat's racist.
Thanks for reading this far folks! Im sorry if anything is out of sorts. It's been ages since I wrote anything, and this was all on tablet (uploaded via phone). First timer for AO3 though. Please feel free to leave a comment or critique.
Y'all stay gorgeous!
Chapter 2: The Liaison
Reed Lane begins her journey into the world of monsters through more doors.
Also, there's decor.
Seriously, writing this has made me think about how many doors you have to walk through in an airport.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Simmons wasn’t joking when he had stated that she would see the door, however while it was much smaller than the grandeur of the main gates, it was still noteworthy. It was at least three cars wide, and opened like a garage door, the coloring the same slate gray as the wall. Reed supposed it was to make the opening less conspicuous but the cameras on either side didn’t help. As she drove down the lane the door slid away to showcase a parking area inside the wall itself. The parking area was nothing special, having marked lines for spaces, arrows pointing the direction of traffic, and, of course, more cameras.
Reed pulled into a spot, noting that hers was the only vehicle, and gathered what little she had brought before exiting the car. She didn’t bother to lock the sedan as she was to drop off her keys to an attendant inside the wall proper. Her heels clicked against the pavement eerily, the sound bouncing off the walls within the barren area. Small signs pointed the woman towards a set of metal double doors, they too just as Spartan looking as the garage. Just before she stepped through she drew in a long breath, willing her heart to slow, and double checked her suit for any wrinkles. She hated wearing it, the fashion feeling too restricting while simultaneously having whomever wearing it stand out for people to judge, but it was an important day and she wanted to start on the right foot. She just hoped she wouldn’t trip over said foot, and opened the door.
Reed was greeted to the sight of glass and steel. Before her was the last checkpoint. She stood in a large long room that reminded her heavily of airport security. There were machines meant to scan luggage, line dividers to keep people from milling in a gaggle of chaos, trash bins for contraband, and of course, more uniformed personnel. There had to of been at least eight stations but only one was open. Here and there guards meandered, each looking bored or sullen. She noted that they were all monsters, and from what she could gather, most seemed to be of either Fell clan, or SwapFell clan. The guards wore nothing like Doggo had, their uniforms boasting the colors of their clans from a deep royal purple to rich crimson as accents over a mix of fabric and black armor. One such monster was a behemoth scarred canine that donned a full set of armor, theirs accented in the red of Fell. Another looked to be an alligator, her teeth refined to a razor edge sneer and light colored hair pulled into a bun by a purple ribbon.
“Welp, best get this over with.” With that, and a warning growl aimed at her by one of the canines, Reed hurried her way to the alligator and the scanner the scaled guard stood by, picking at her violet painted claws.
It took her over an hour, but she was finally headed through one set of double doors in the glass wall. The woman grimaced as she went over how horrible the security checkpoint had been. Sure the guards were intimidating, but they had been at least somewhat polite. Her issue wasn’t with them but the fact that no matter where a person went, anything like airport security was going to have its problems. Hers was with having to wait for someone to call up the chain of command to get some sort of clarification over her personal paperwork about the scanning process. She had a medical waiver but that just didn’t seem good enough. They were adamant that she go through the soul scanner but she staunchly refused. At first Reed wondered if she was about to be tossed out on her rear but, by some miracle, they decided to have her sit down in a chair and wait for verification. It was a good thing that she was the only traveler there so they must have just been glad to have something to do, even if they didn’t look it. Once the guards had been given the go ahead, with some muffled shrill screaming through a door to an office on the floor, she was let loose to enter the concourse area proper to meet with her liaison.
Reed sighed with relief as a gust of cool air wafted over her face as she moved into the lobby, glad for the escape from the stifling atmosphere she had left behind, before a soft gasp left her, and her eyes widened.
The main area was as open, vast, and nearly devoid of people. Somewhere the sound of a babbling water fixture could be heard beyond the tall mahogany board before her, it’s gold gilded face reading the times and destinations of various train lines in ebony bold block font. As she stepped around the board she was greeted with a warm sight. The floor was made from some sort of polished stone colored in green and grey to mimic a grassy path, its lanes lazily winding in different directions down halls, or to closed shops of varying degree. Behind the board was the source of the calming water sounds. In a pool of clear water surrounded by softly glowing plants a statue at least six feet in height of a horned monster sat, its head bowed respectfully, and a box in its paws. Water poured from the half opened box to trickle down the statues lap into the water. Upon closer inspection Reed could see a soft smile on its maw and hear a faint music box lullaby under the babble of the waterfall. She couldn’t help but feel a little more hopeful as she stood by the fixture, her own lips lifting into a smile mirroring the horned giant’s.
She moved her gaze back to the concourse at large, finding herself impressed with the care given to it, and perhaps in slight awe. Strategically placed clear and colored glass panes in the vaulted ceiling allowed multicolored beams to rain down on the various seating areas, pillars, and shops. The seats where a mixture of singles, benches, and doubles, all made from golden stained oak, and upholstered in a gentle plush violet. Between rows where raised platforms of vibrant flowers, grass, and more of those wrought iron posts that had been seen at the border gate. Hundreds of glowing stones had been set into the walls in flowing artistic designs, while others had been hidden within foliage to add an almost mystical feel to the area.
If it weren’t for the many lighted frames boasting travel to the Monster Country, its city, and culture, the plaza may have seemed like some sort of holy cathedral, that is, if cathedrals had shops that sold donuts or conveyor belts on the floor like one would find at an international airport. A lone empty information booth stood center, proudly waiting for the days of busy travel that the Royal Counsel must have prepared for. “It’s too bad that won’t happen any time soon.” Reed thought, her smile falling slightly before lifting into a bright grin as her gaze landed on the figure in a pale pink suit primly sitting in front of the giant glass wall showing the train platforms beyond the waiting areas, a thick black purse and manilla envelope in her lap.
“Catty!” Reed called to the only other person there that wasn’t a guard, and lifted her hand in a happy wave. Catty of First Clan looked up quickly to spot the human woman speed walking towards her and shattered her calm professional appearance with an excited high pitched squeal.
“Reed! Like hi!” The grey cat monster leapt to her feet, her face lifted with a brilliant smile, two fangs poking out from the soft fur of her lips, and marigold eyes wide. “Like, how was the trip?”
Reed couldn’t help but chuckle softly at the broad cat monster, the very air around her alight with a sparkling joy punctuated by the sway of her ringed tail. “It’s the first time we meet in person and you forgot your speech lessons huh?” She raised an eyebrow, mocking a chastising tone, hands on her hips. For her part Catty merely chortled behind her paw, and rolled her eyes.
“Like yeah, but you’re finally here! My first real human client and it’s been like totally ages! I’m so excited, and..” Catty trailed off as she looked at a silver watch wrapped around her wrist, her ears suddenly flat and mood turning panicked. “Oh my gawd! We’re gonna be late!” She wrapped her free paw around the human’s wrist and tugged her to the doors in the platform wall where beyond a single train waited.
The so called ‘train’ looked more like a single trolley car, the sides painted in a vibrant red with yellow trim. The front and back had a tiny balcony, complete with railings too short to be secure. It rested on the only available track, all the others closed off by thick crimson ropes, and lacking any sort of vehicle, train or not. There seemed to be at least four main tracks that Reed could only theorize would branch out to other areas of the small country. The platforms had been raised to make passage easily accessible, but it was the bridge that made the otherwise quaint area blend with the regal lobby behind them. The foot bridge was, like many areas, lined with glass for safety but that was the only modern touch. It looked to be made of a dark oak for the rails, the languid arch created from natural river stones the size of a human fist. Every so often instead of a gray or slate stone a large glowing crystal added its light to the area. Hanging baskets of ivy, violets, and baby’s breath swayed in a nonexistent breeze. More ivy wound its way through the bannister, posts, and even between the wide spaced slats in the roof. Tiny motes of light danced lazily in the air like everlasting firefly’s, never leaving the bridge, or its semi open roof obviously designed to show the sky.
Reed stumbled slightly as she tried to keep up, internally cursing her choice of heels whilst envying Catty’s much more reasonable, if wide, flats. “Not my fault security held me up.”, She stuttered as Catty dragged her along the platform, waving the envelope around trying to catch the attention of a bright pink bird Monster dressed interestingly like a bellhop.
“Like who cares? Let’s go!” The cat monster barreled her way onto the train, barely missing the startled bird as they threw the narrow door open with not a second to spare. Reed threw the poor staff an apologetic glance, but could not do more as her liaison tossed her easily onto one of the two bench seats, plopping down right next to her.
“She’s stronger than she looks.” Reed thought to herself as she made an awkward attempt to right her posture as the car suddenly lurched forward, throwing the woman once more to the side, her face firmly planting into the grass green upholstery, lipstick surely smudged. “I guess this is my life now. Hello bench, have you met floor? I have and I must say you’re a far better kisser. Don’t tell floor, they might get jealous and try too hard next time we meet.” It was in the moment of internal dialogue that she remembered she probably should have slept the last night, she was beginning to rant in her thoughts. If she wasn’t careful she would probably go crazy, well, crazier.
It was right as Reed began to contemplate the gentle rocking of the trolley being too nice for the waking world that Catty spoke up. “Like,”, She tittered, “You okay there Reed?..er..Ms. Lane.”
The woman in question’s response was to lift up a hand with the universal ‘OK’ sign her face still in the seat, and rear threatening to tip off of the polished wood portion of the bench. “Just being friendly with the furniture, don’t mind me.”
She was exhausted, and she had barely gotten through the beginning of her schedule. The woman drew in a breath for a sigh that would hopefully power her through the rest of the day when she paused, before lifting herself to her elbows, brow furrowed in confusion.
“Why does the cushion smell like butterscotch?”
Catty: The other one smells like cinnamon.
Catty: It’s like, totally a Monster Culture thing.
Reed: How the fuck does making a communal butt holster smell like food become a culture thing?
Reed: You’re shitting me.
Catty: (Continues to giggle and takes out her phone)
Reed: No seriously, you have to be taking the piss. Is this one of those japes that I heard about?
Catty: (Falls over)
Reed: (Gasp) Now the bench is cheating on me!
Hello dears! I swear we’ll get to the plot soon! The world building must happen. My brain won’t let me be until some details are set. Thank you for being patient and gracias, merci, danke' to you lovelies that left comments and kudos! It’s very much appreciated.
Ya’ll stay your gorgeous selves!
See you next chapter.
Chapter 3: Conversations and boxes
Reed and Catty chat.
So many words!
Hope y'all enjoy some character conversation and oodles of informational stuff.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Reed found herself frowning at the cat monster as she giggled not bothering to give the human woman an answer. After a moment she could only shake her head, righting her frame to sit more comfortably on the seat, the small back pack that she had taken from her car, thankfully spared from the fall, settled between the two. “I swear, you’re having way too much fun with this.”
Catty clapped her paws together, delight shining from her slit eyes. “Like yeah! Of course! After over a year we finally get to meet in person. It’s totally awesome, and like, this is my first actual case.” One of her ears twitched as a mischievous look overtook her furred features. “Though, I gotta’ say. I thought you’d be like, totally less clumsy.”
Reed snorted. “Well it’s not everyday I get tossed around like a sack of potatoes you know. Kinda’ rude for a liaison don’t you think?” She pointed a finger to the cat teasingly, before wagging it like a scolding mother. “Shame on you, treating your client like luggage. I’m hurt.”
Catty merely dissolved into another set of giggles, used to the banter after so many hours upon hours of conversations they held over the internet.
“Speaking of luggage”, Reed continued, taking in the cabin fully, noticing a few things lacking from a normal train ride. “Where the heck would anyone put anything. You’re expecting to have a booming travel industry later, but where are people going to pack their stuff? Don’t tell me this single car is just for me, cause I highly doubt it. I’m no dignitary.”
She made her point by waving a hand around the cabin. While it was certainly comfortable with the plush benches, and leather hand holds for standing room, it was also quite aesthetically pleasing. The green of the upholstery went well with the golden oak of the interior furnishings. Wood paneling framed the windows, the ceiling, and two doors opposite of one another. The floor was carpeted in a deep burgundy, outlined in gold leaf designs that seemed to shimmer from the color changing flames trapped behind the glass cages of metal sconces that had been placed strategically between windows and on the doors. It was all well and good, even the small shallow cabinets set at her head height added to the homey feeling, but they didn’t exactly look like they could hold anything bigger than a thick book.
Catty shook her head, still obviously amused. “There’s, like, plenty of room. Just watch.” She pointed a manicured claw to the back pack before holding her hand open to Reed. Confused the human lifted it to pass off to the monster. With a nod Catty lifted the pack, stood, and proceeded to open the cabinet directly above the two. There was nothing inside, literally, not even light seemed to pass through the darkness within. The space was filled with a void that if stared at for too long, Reed was certain she would get a headache. Before she could ask what was going on, the cat monster lifted a finger towards the space, a cyan screen popped into existence showing a grid work pattern. She then lifted the pack to touch its strap to a box. There was a high pitched ping and the bag was gone. Inside the grid work a box had been filled with what looked to be a three dimensional depiction of the backpack in miniature. Catty turned back to Reed, her paws on her hips and a smug grin, made more poignant by her delicate fangs. “See?”
The human sat for a moment, her mouth open in shock before snapping out of it and onto her feet in excitement. “Holy fucking shit! What? Catty!” The monster giggled as Reed pinched her sleeve and shook it. “That’s supposed to be impossible! I mean seriously! Where? How!? What the shit?”
The liaison burst into full laughter as the human continued in excitement. It was amusing to see her acting like a small child. “They’re like, dimensional boxes. They’re everywhere. We even have them in our phones to carry stuff.”
“That is stupidly neat, you know that right?” Reed chuckled when Catty closed the cabinet, both women sitting back down in their seats to face one another. “This is already starting out to be an adventure. Fucking Stars, I knew that monsters had different technology, but I had no idea it was this advanced. I’m pretty sure that thing both breaks and proves various laws of physics. I wish I knew how it works.” Suddenly she snapped her hand up, her palm facing the cat before she could answer, “And don’t say ‘magic’. I’ve heard that way too many times.”
“But that’s a big part of it.”
“Awww, like, don’t be like that.”
“Nope. Subject change.” Reed waved the cat off, shaking her head, “I’m already in for the ignorant human gimmick when I move in. I want a little more time before I get so sick of it I wind up a hermit. So, shall we get to the boring work stuff?” She raised a brow as Catty huffed a pout, her fun spoiled.
“Sure, like, fine”, her liaison whinged, drawing out the last word, “Paperwork first or do you, like, have any questions?”
“Well if we’re getting onto it, you might as well practice what I taught you about speech while we have this little meeting.” The monster’s pout only deepened until Reed crossed her arms with a stern look.
“Okay, okay” The cat then smirked, “But you can’t cuss until we get there.”
Reed blanched, “Hard bargain, but, sure I can try.” They both nodded, and shook hands, only chuckling a bit at their antics.
“It’s no wonder they chose you to teach.”
“Yeah? How so?”
“You li…”the cat corrected herself mid sentence, “You’re really good at knowing how to motivate your students.”
“You’re not a student though? I just wanted to help you with professionalism. Humans can be judgmental on the smallest things, the way one speaks notwithstanding.”
Catty rolled her eyes, “You’ve told me, but you took the initiative to help. That’s why the Counsel wanted you as a human lecturer. You’re not here just for the medical visa.” The monster pointed out, Reed trying to cover a wince. “Oh yeah! Here’s your papers and stuff.”
The woman caught the thick manila envelope that was tossed into her lap, the thing slightly heavy and lumpy. “It’s got your in processing papers, Identity card, house key, and a traveler guide to the city in it. You won’t need the papers until we get to the City Hall and Hospital though. Did you bring your electronics?”
“They’re in my backpack.”
Catty nodded, her expression light but serious. It still impressed Reed how far along the cat monster had come in the year that they had known one another. Catty had been so chaotic and, well, catty, but after a few video meetings they had found a groove to settle into. The monster had been appointed to her through a joint government program designed to allow humans and monsters to get to know one another as a means to further integration and understanding. Subscription to it, and hours served was one of the many requirements for a human to fulfill before they could be considered for a visa, let alone dual citizenship, to the Monster Country. During their chats, that could last for hours, they had become somewhat close. It was months later that Catty decided to apply for a Liaison position and Reed offered to help the monster with understanding human social customs when it came to an official title and working environment. Acting like the ‘Valley Girl’ stereotype would not have done the earnest cat any favors. Reed felt a bubble of pride in her chest. Catty had come a long way, and grown quite a bit sense then.
“Is there anything you need from it, or can you leave it with me?”
“For processing right? No worries. I made sure to only have my lap top, tablet, and phone in there.” The human patted her purse. “I’ve got my essentials here.”
“Nice! So, like, you’ll get them back in twenty four hours, maybe forty eight at the most. Your car will take at least a week since the upgrades to it will take a little while. The parts need to be matched and more need to be made.” Catty looked up in thought, a claw tapping her chin. “I’m not sure exactly what they’re doing to it, but it’s totally supposed to help with the environment. Everything runs off of magic and electricity. There’s a lot of fuel stations only in the main city, so if you want to, like, visit other areas you’ll have to use the rail lines, unless it’s just to one of the nearby villages. They usually, like, have at least one. Monsters can fuel their cars and stuff with a magic boost and a wall plug if they can’t find a station or have extra cells, but it’s like totally super exhausting and extra cells aren’t normally allowed for personal use.”
Reed nodded at that, noting the cat’s slip up but choosing not to say anything as she seemed to be on a roll. “I wonder how much she practiced this.” She wondered silently, that bubble of pride growing as the cat monster continued.
“So yeah, since your car is already registered and junk, once they’re done it’ll be dropped off at your new place. You can drive right after that, but you’ll need to have your license switched over and your citizen I.D. updated within a week.”
“Anything else?” Reed prompted as Catty trailed off, her ears twitching as she concentrated.
“I think? Anyway, that’s how it’s gonna….going to be for your car, but for your phone and other stuff the tech people will be updating and upgrading them. That way you can use the monster network and human internet at the same time.” She grinned and pointed to the cabinet, “Your phone is going to have dimensional boxes too so that’s cool right?”
“Definitely!” Reed smiled happily at Catty, however she couldn’t help thinking that it seemed somewhat strange to have her communication devices taken for upgrades directly upon arrival. She idly wondered what kind of software would be downloaded. Would it track her movements? Could her systems be shut down at any time? Where they combing through her personal files to check for security issues? She wouldn’t be surprised if they did. While on the surface her government and the Monster Nation were on good terms, but that was obviously a lie. After all, recent history showed just how little her government cared when it came to the safety and security of their newest ally.
It was merely two months prior when the last attack had been made, a truck full of home made explosives and a brick on the accelerator crashing into one of the commerce gates when they where checking in a moving truck. That day a monster and two humans had died. The monster had been dusted has they attempted to save the driver and passenger from the raging inferno caused by the weaponized vehicle. Apparently there had been a secondary explosion that rocketed gooey bits of accelerant in all directions. The two humans died later from burns and other complications. The driver himself had died on the way to the hospital from internal bleeding, his son two days later.
The news hadn’t said anything on the matter, Reed only finding out through video sharing sites and forum posts from other users interested in the monsters. It was disheartening to know that the world was left mostly unaware of the attacks on a peaceful peoples, only able to glean information from hearsay and activist groups. She remembered combing through forum and video histories as she was made increasingly aware of how bad things had become. The truck attack was just one in a long line of guerilla like attempts on the monsters and humans that worked with them. So many deaths had been tallied over the five years they had been on the surface, but all smothered under an uncaring government hand.
It wasn’t anything new. Reed wasn’t surprised at all by the lackluster stance her government had when it came to terrorism against the monsters. They had made it fairly clear, to her, from the very start when the monsters were given land in the first peace treaty for their peoples to settle in. Said land had been poisoned by heavy radiation, and who knew what else. It was meant to be a vicious back hand dressed up prettily like a present. It was their poison apple meant to erode the monsters hope while simultaneously rallying public opinion against them.
The land in question was nearly half a state in size, but made unlivable when the barrier broke. On that day waves of energy had been released into the world. Electronics failed, storms changed course, and the earth rumbled. Mt. Ebbot had woken with a thunderous yawn, making itself known. Unfortunately, those sudden changes had caused the nearest areas to be effected the most. There where several government labs, and nuclear plants, that had been hit hard, their fail safes, of course, failing. It was a chain reaction, one after the other, melt down. The monsters had been unaware of the catastrophe during that time, their eyes on a beautiful sky they had only a little hope of ever seeing in their lifetimes.
It didn’t take long for reports of the damages and rescue efforts to be overshadowed by the appearance of the new species. It took even less time for people to blame the creatures for the thousands of lives lost, and land destroyed in the tragedy. In a single day the world was changed, magic was made real, and monsters hope turned to trepidation as they were faced by the hostility of millions for something they had no hand in.
The monsters had been detained, forced to stay in the mountain prison they had finally escaped after thousands of years. Many had been dusted, some in scuffles, others from attacking locals, and more beneath falling rocks as the mountain began to slowly crumble inward. The first King and Queen did their best, with their ambassador at their side, to try to placate the human government and its peoples. They pleaded, debated, and sometimes even begged, but to no avail. The monsters future seemed bleak.
That was how it seemed, until one person spoke up, changing history once again. It had been a single video that became the monsters saving grace. One of the surviving workers made their case, hidden behind clever lighting, and even better editing. The person spoke in a modulated voice about how they were part of the teams that helped to build the systems for the labs, and how they had been used for the other surrounding nuclear plants. Corners had been cut by the company to save money. It had all come down to faulty wiring and shoddy EMP shielding. The company had been a government contractor. Suddenly the public opinion and vengeful malice had a new direction to go, and it was a torrential backlash. The video had gone viral. People began talking and searching to verify the truth. Humanitarian groups began shouting. More groups started to rise. Monsters had allies. There was an attempt to squash the video, but it was in vain.
Nothing is ever fully deleted from the internet after all.
In order to save face the human government began to make apologies, the president giving a four hour long speech. The King and Queen were given air time on the news, and invited to the presidential estate. Slowly the armed forces were pulled away from the boundaries of Mt. Ebbot. The monsters could begin to breath again. Eventually a peace treaty was made, an olive branch given. The land and Mt. Ebbot were released to the monsters to use as they pleased, with promises of humanitarian support and monetary reparations. It was easy to see that those stuffed shirts were salty over being called out. If the monsters denied the land, they would look greedy, but even if they kept it they couldn’t use it. To the government officials it was a win-win situation where the new race could be kept underfoot.
Unfortunately, they had forgotten that magic existed. In all their wisdom the first Royal family had been incredibly graceful in receiving the land as their own, free and clear, showering the human nation and its government with heartfelt gratitude and promises to return the generosity. In less than six months the dying ecosystem, abandoned buildings, and farmland left fallow, had been revitalized. Reports of magic healing spread like wild fire as monster healers were shown to cure otherwise terminal ailments. Families that had been torn and hurt by the tragedy were given leave to join the new Country with free healthcare, or given compensation with healthcare temporary visas. New technological advances left people in awe as the internet was over flowing with posts on new food production, clean energy, and so much more. The ‘Monster Country’ literally rose from the ashes in record time. It was rich from the rare metals in Mt. Ebbot, gems, and their own pure gold currency. The world was left reeling, again, as news spread about the medical cures magic could provide. Countries overseas began to show positive interest in the infant Country, causing the more local human government to become nervous. Thus the monsters were left to govern themselves, protective walls erected, and borders respected. They had become a national power. It was no longer surprising, they had cured cancer, provided a possible fix for the energy crises, and cleaned radiation in less than a year. The monsters had started off as pariahs, then became the underdog, to finish as heroes.
Of course there were still bigots, and those that would profit from their hate, hence the terrorism left largely ignored by the human government.
“Reed! Hey! Are you listening?” The woman in question jolted from her thoughts, blinking owlishly at her Liaison, her serious train of thought crashing.
“What? Oh. Shit sorry about that Catty.” She ran her fingers through her hair, giving the cat a small apologetic smile. “I got lost in thought.”
Catty shook her head, and wagged her finger at the human, imitating her from before, “You should, like, pay attention. You also like totally cursed.” She grinned smugly, “I win.”
“That’s not fair! You’ve been saying ‘like’, like a lot you know.” They both paused, the women staring at each other. It was a few seconds before Reed slapped a hand to her face with an audible groan. “Dammit, now I’m doing it.” The cabin was filled with laughter, one heartily enjoying the others chagrin, whilst the other chuckled over their silliness.
“Okay, like, so we’re even then?”
Reed nodded and waved a hand for Catty to continue. “Go on then. I’m paying attention.”
Catty rolled her eyes and huffed. “Fine. Okay so what I was talking about was your schedule, but, like, that’s also all in your paper work. “She pointed at the envelope that sat innocently on the floor where Reed had dropped it in her shock over the dimensional box, “So I’m just gonna’ go over the other stuff.”
Catty straightened her suit, smoothing the front as she attempted to get back into her more professional frame of mind while Reed bent to pick up the envelope, “So, anyway, our first stop will be to the City Hall for in processing, then the Hospital for your patient registration and medicine. Then we’ll take you to your new house. I’ll be checking up on you during the first week and taking you to your appointments. Once you have your car, we can just do calls after that unless you want to do lunch or something. After that first week, if everything goes well, we sign off that you’re good to go. From there you’ll, like, see a counselor for however long your therapist feels you need until they think you’re fully integrated. Oh! I almost forgot.” Catty shoved a paw into her large purse to produce a small black velvet box, handing it to a perplexed Reed. “This is yours. You should wear it at all times, unless you’re, like, alone in your house or something.”
The human woman shifted the box around, and ran a nail along the side to flip the tiny golden catch to open it. Inside, nestled into a padded, protective, mauve satin rested a silver heart shaped locket. It was innocent enough, the light making the metal gleam, the Royal symbol engraving on its face seeming to shimmer. She lifted the necklace by the delicate chain and hummed approvingly at the simple but beautiful design. She shifted her hair to put it on, the heart finding a home between her breasts. “It’s pretty. So this is for my privacy right?”
Catty nodded, her ears lowering slightly, smile a little less exuberant. “Yeah. With that you won’t be able to be, like, pulled into an encounter.”
“That’s good. We wouldn’t want it to get awkward if my soul got pulled out.” Reed reached to take the cat monsters paw. “I really appreciate the lengths you all have gone to ensure my privacy. I remember reading about how monsters view souls, and how important encounters can be to your culture, so, thank you.”
She received a reassuring squeeze, internally squeaking about just how soft the cat’s paw was, before Catty let her hand go. “It’s, like totally no big deal.” She brightened, taking a sudden breath to speak again, “Plus, eventually you hopefully won’t need it anymore right? For now you should just think about all the fun you’ll have and all the new friends you’re gonna’ make here!”
Reed huffed in amusement, and shook her head side to side. One of the things she liked about the cat was her optimism, bouts of flightiness and pettiness aside. “Let’s just focus on getting through the day and the official stuff first.”
Catty pouted, “That’s no fun.”
“That’s being an adult.” Reed smirked.
Reed: Fuck the government.
Reed: Nothing, so about that official adult stuff.
Catty: You'll make so many friends.
Reed: ....so about that official adult stuff.
Reed: (pats self on the back for smooth deflection)
Chapter 4: An explanation
I apologise but this isn't a new chapter. There is a new one in the works, but I haven't been able to finish it.
Due to some life issues I've found myself pausing as I stare at my word app. It's almost visceral, the feeling of not being able to extract a scene because of an invisible wall caused by the internal conflict depression loves to provide.
Now, I've fought with it for years, and have been doing well, however, I hit a bump in the road.
Not too long ago I was doing a volunteer security job at a rather fancy ranch. I was doing a friend a favor by backing him up as his partner. Mutherfucker used me so he could run off and cheat on his girl. (An pretty much told me to do the same with my partner. Prick.)
To make matters worse I wound up being molested twice. Huzzah for sexual assault. Now, I took it in stride because I am a damn professional, however I also have various mental issues due to my sordid history, one such being PTSD. (For reasons) On the outside I was calm, but internally I was screaming. Took a long while and an agonizing flare before my broke ass calmed down.
My partner drove me home and gave me support. Things would have been so much easier to handle if I didn't get a call from my baby sister as we drove into my driveway at fuck o' clock.
Our grandmother is dead.
She was buried not long after and my broke as fuck ass couldn't be there. I couldn't afford it.
More happened but this is the gist of it.
I'm working through things. I've also started up therapy again.
So, there's my explanation. I know it's not much of an excuse but I wanted to give y'all a reason as to why I have yet to fulfill my previous statement of having a new chapter soon.
I'm not sure when the next chapter will be up, but I promise I am no where near done.
We haven't even met the first skele-bae yet.
Thank you for reading and your wonderful comments loves. I'll be back soon. <3