I stood there at the bottom of the ladder and waited for him to come down. The floor was dirt, but the walls were something I knew and was happy to see, cement. The tunnel was at least eight feet wide and tall enough that I didn’t feel closed in, but that could have had something to do with my height.
When the big guy stepped off the ladder and came to stand right in front of me, I realized I only came up to his chest and his clearance to the tunnel roof wasn’t as spacious as my own.
“This way,” he began a lazy jog down the tunnel.
Pulling my jacket tighter around me, I walked quickly behind him. I wasn’t ready to run into the unknown. I’d had enough of that for one day.
The lights that lined the tunnel were shockingly bright and, no surprises here almost glowed orange. Would it be too much to ask for a little blue or green in this Alterealm place?
When he reached a door, he started to open it and then paused and waited for me. “Stay beside me, okay?”
I nodded. Did he really think I was going to wander off into God knows what on my own? Like it or not, he was my life-line in this screwed up adventure and I was sticking with him until the time came when I knew enough to get the hell out of here.
Placing a hand behind my back he ushered me though the door and closed it again. He turned and entered some numbers into a key pad and locks clicked into place.
If my tear ducts hadn’t been filled with dust from the dried-out place we’d just come from, I may have shed a tear at the mere sight of advanced technology.
“Troy will still be awake. He likes everyone to report in just after sunrise.”
I filed that information and kept silent. We walked though so many doors and rooms I knew there was no way I’d ever find my way out if I needed to. That left me feeling a little discomfited inside and wanting to hurry up and get some answers to get my weirded-out ass home.
When he paused in front of a huge wooden door, I felt like a dwarf lost in the giants’ castle. If this Troy turned out to be an actual giant, I was taking the first tunnel I could find back out into the orange world.
Knocking once, he opened the door and went in. I stepped in behind him and used him for cover as I looked around to scope out what I was going into. There was no giant to be seen. There were half a dozen really big guys standing, leaning or lounging, all facing a man sitting behind a desk. The part that had me reach for the comfort of my raptor was that not one of them except the guy behind the desk seemed—human.
They weren’t like my giant puppy guy with the sappy eyes, no that would be okay at this point. What they were, was, well I didn’t know. They looked normal enough, yet their skin glowed and their eyes were bright colors; anything from green to lava red. I’d wanted new shades besides orange. Definitely a be-careful-what- you-wish-for moment.
“Troy.” Puppy man clearly without a single ish that I noticed. “I found her in the wasteland, she just appeared.”
My shaking hand grasped the handle tightly behind my back.
“Did you check her for weapons?” A large creature with neon green eyes and long white hair, that gave him a glow of white all over stalked toward me. He was dressed all in black leather like a biker and I found that to be the only normal thing about him.
“Back off Welsley.” My finder stepped forward and blocked this other thing’s path.
“Move aside Quapple or I’ll have to move you. We can’t let a stranger just walk in here.”
My protector’s shoulders slumped and that alone made me want to stick my blade into Welsley just for being a big glowy jerk. Glancing over his shoulder at me, his brown eyes apologizing, I gave him a little nod and stepped over so there was no one between the white guy and my path.
Neon green eyes moved over me and then paused on the arm still behind my back. He sneered and steeped towards me again.
Taking a nice wide stance, I braced myself for some action and pulled the raptor free. With a very practiced move, I flipped it from a hidden position to plain sight. I locked eyes with him. “You. Back off now or I will slice you a whole new lifestyle.”
He stopped and there was no mistaking the shock on his face. I heard a few snickers, but wasn’t about to look away from a pissy male that had just been put on pause by a woman half his size, even one that was having a bad day.
“Stand down.” A voice of definite authority ended all motion and sound in the room.
My glowing aggressor stepped back and moved aside so I had a clear sight line to the man behind the desk. Nothing on him was glowing. To be honest, he was most likely the nicest-looking piece of man I’d ever seen. The am-I-drooling-on-myself kind of nice. He had long blonde hair that made my own look blunt and in need of some serious conditioning therapy. His face was taken right off some Greek god lineage of masculine beauty and slapped onto what looked like a body to match—at least the part I could see above the desk.
“Everyone move back and let our guest have a little breathing room.”
Like soldiers marching, the six light-radiating beings stepped back as far as furniture and walls would allow. The Greek Adonis gave a small nod of approval and then looked at me. Hazel eyes with long lashes that made me jealous looked at me patiently. Feeling really awkward, I slid the blade back into the sheath on my back and stood up straight. Slowly his eyes moved to the only body that hadn’t moved away from me.