The fire dies down as the camp goes to sleep. I sit awake watching the fire as the embers dance across the night air. I have no idea why I am here in this form. One that will more than likely cause me a lot of trouble.
I lay up against my bike inspecting my weapon. It’d been a long time since I had taken a life. Memories of my time in the war came back to me. The anger and hate that came from that time had seeped into me today. In-game it was just fun, but now the consequences were real.
The lives I’d taken I had felt justified in doing so. But it never made it any easier to take life. I’d ended lives that could have developed for better or worse.
In war, it is a weakness to show mercy for the enemy. I’d lost friends from hesitation to take a life. So the least I can do now is pray for the people I killed and accept the responsibility for taking their lives.
The question was which gods existed here. Too much I didn’t know about this planet, about this body, and about my next move. I found myself falling asleep as I took a silent vigil.
I woke up at the sight of the sun crossing the horizon. People were abuzz with activity as they went about their tasks. I slowly checked my surroundings before getting up and stretching. It was nice having a younger body that was more regenerative and adaptive.
The camp was almost taken down and people were mounting up for another day of travel. I walked over to Lorando who turned to say good morning.
“I see our guest awakes. Will you continue with us today as well or will you head out on your own?”
“I thank you for your hospitality Lorando but I must, unfortunately, be off. Time is not on my side I’m afraid.”
“Then I thank you for your help and offer you this token of my appreciation.”
He takes my hand and places five gold coins in it. Smiling as he waved me off going back to his work.
I watched him go and looked over the coins before pocketing them and walking back to my bike. I then mounted it and rode off as a couple of people watched me leave in ah on my bike.
I needed to figure out more and I’d learned all I could with them. Following the road, I proceeded as fast as I felt comfortable going on the dirt roads speeding by unsuspecting travelers from time to time. A few hours in I soon saw the sight of the walled city of Calain if what Lorando had told me was correct.
The second I saw the city I sped away from the road and stashed my bike and some supplies covering it up in some camouflage before making the last leg of the journey on foot. I get weird looks as I approach the gate but I am unopposed with some even making way for me. The guards see me and look spooked going for their weapons as one of them yells out to me.
“HALT! Who goes there?”
I raise my arms in surrender as they approach.
“My name Sasha I mean no harm gentlemen.”
They look at each other in suspicion as the crowd tries to distance themselves from the dispute.
“Then would you please come with us, Sasha?”
“Of course, I am willing to cooperate.”
At this, they lower their weapons as the man gestures for me to follow them. More guards flow out to quell the crowd but with a few words from the guard, I’m allowed through and gestured inside the gatehouse.
Once inside he gestures me to a room with a table and two stools.
“Please wait here Sasha, I will have someone come to meet you shortly.”
I sit down laying my bag on the table as I lean up against the wall. Going through my bag I grab my canteen and take a drink as I wait for whoever is going to process me. It seemed to take them some time and I wondered why. I wish I could have been drinking some coffee but that didn’t seem possible at the moment much to my displeasure.
It felt like an hour before someone opened the door. I turned to see a young man open the door. He was flanked by an old man who looked to be a veteran with many years of combat under his belt.
I put my canteen away as he took a seat in front of me. He set a form on the table as a man came in setting ink and a pen next to the form before leaving.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting someone like you before. What can we call you?”
“First if it is not too much to ask I would like to hear your name first. I have patiently waited here for over an hour.”
The man seems a little annoyed but understands as he answers.
“Very well, I am Kirk the son of the duke, Issac. Now, what is yours?”
“My name is Sasha. I’m here on personal business to explore this city.”
“Well, you won’t find too much here. Maybe if you were more specific we could better assist you.”
I stare back at him pondering as I answer.
“Then you wouldn’t happen to have any news or information about any summoned people then?”
“Yes, someone who was taken from another world to yours. In fact, I am not of this world myself and looking for others who have possibly been brought here as well.”
He stares at me in disbelief as the man flanking him grabs for his weapon. They exchange a look at each other before turning back to me.
“Are you perhaps a Hackett as well?”
“Indeed I am… what of it?”
They then exchange a look between each other as he writes something down before exiting the room. A hear a few grumblings as they bicker about something. I take a look at their scripts for a second but can’t make it out. I instead take some pictures for some deciphering later. A minute later they come back in and he retakes his seat.
“I am sorry for the trouble we’ve caused you, Sasha Hackett. If we can finish this paperwork I can take you to the others, but I must get everything in order first. I hope you can understand.”
“I do, now shall we get started.”
I then answer his questions to the best of my ability telling the truth and fudging a few lies from time to time in order for it all to make sense. I said I had been summoned out in the middle of the woods (not space), had walked here on foot (not rode), that I was human (at least I think I still am), and that I was a woman (currently).
Once the form was filled out all the way he tapped his pen against the desk. Then looked up at me and asked.
“So are you a bastard?”
“No… why would you ask?”
“Is your father or mother a bastard?”
“Your grandmother or grandfather?”
“Look, why are you asking if my relatives were a bastard?”
He then tries to act sympathetic as he answers.
“Somehow it seems that one of your relatives was a bastard from the Hackett line. As a result you were brought here during the summoning but due to some error you were not summoned with the rest of them. I apologize for not knowing more but if you come with us maybe Sarah can help you. She is currently in the palace. If you come with us you could meet her and maybe find out more about what is happening.”
I reluctantly follow and soon find that he guides us to a carriage that is waiting outside. He asks for me to step inside and after a short trip through the streets we arrive at the castle at the center of the town. Once there I am invited inside. Following him, I decided to ask him some questions.
“So how many Hacketts were summoned then?”
“I believe the number is around 13. The majority of the Hacketts are in the capital under the protection of the royal family. The older ones have been spread out around the kingdom to help exchange knowledge and ideas like in the case of Sarah.”
I nod my head at his answer watching the street as we go by. But in my head, I realized something wasn’t adding up why were four of my grandkids missing. I had 17 last I checked. But he doesn’t need to know that.
“I’ll have to go to the capital sometime to meet them then and introduce myself to the royal family.”
“That can be arranged but all in due time for now I hope you enjoy your stay in our city Sasha.”
As we approach the castle I see a young woman come out and approach the carriage. As she gets closer I see it is Sarah dressed in some clothes more appropriate to the area with a sword next to her side.
The carriage soon stops and Kirk steps out first followed by his aid followed by me soon after I see Sarah stare at me in confusion grabbing for her sword. Kirk upon seeing this moves to calm her down.
“Lady Sarah there is nothing to be afraid of, this woman here is a Hackett as well. Her name is Sasha and she will be staying with us starting today.”
Sarah looks even more confused at this.
“Sasha? I’ve never heard of our family having a Sasha and are you sure she isn’t just a pretender?”
“She has equipment we have never seen before and says she is from another world. Therefore we have no other explanation for her being brought here except for the fact that she has to be a bastard. As a result, we believe she is from a secret lover in the family but she cannot trace who it was.”
She scoffs at this relaxing a bit
“It must have been Uncle Andrew then. But either way, it's nice to meet you, my name is Sarah Miles.”
I feel a bit angry that she would think Andrew was that much of a womanizing bastard, but it didn’t help his case that he did try to keep up the airs of being one.
“Sasha Hackett, it’s nice to see you, Sarah. I hope we can get to know each other better.”
I take her hand and shake it as we are led inside. Kirk then leads us to a secluded room. Beckons us to enter as he stood outside.
“How about you two have some time to talk with each other. I'll have the servants call for you to join everyone when lunch is ready.”
At this, I take a seat across from Sarah as they close the doors to the room. I lay back and breath a deep sigh enjoying the furniture before sitting back up and taking off my helmet and setting my supplies to the side. My hair was a mess from leaving my helmet on for so long. It never was an issue before but it appears it will be another lesson I’ll need to learn.
As I use my fingers to comb the knots out of my hair as best I could I turn to Sarah.
“How are you doing kid, how’s your brother doing?”
“Kid? Why are you suddenly acting like you know me?”
“It’s a bit hard to explain but it’s me, John, your great grandfather. We had that mesquite smoked pulled pork Uncle Andrew smoked all night. You and your brother were playing a game with Cole and Haisley. I can’t remember what it was but then we all made those ice cream-”
“Stop… I believe you, but how the hell did you change to… this?”
“Honestly… no idea. I was hoping one of you knew something that might explain it. I was just enjoying my VR games when I was so rudely brought here.”
“You have a female avatar?”
“Yeah, what about it? It’s not like it was a real body, unlike now.”
“That’s… weird though.”
“Weird you say? You clearly haven’t been on the internet long enough then kid. But I will say I might need your help with some of the finer points with being a woman at times. I know a good bit raising two daughters but it’s a bit different when it’s your body though.”
“Let’s just drop that little bit for now. What game were you playing? That doesn’t look like any outfit I’ve heard of from the popular games I’ve seen Morison playing.”
“It’s from a sci-fi game called Endless Space. I was getting ready to go on an exploration expedition and was caught in some accident that transported me here. I landed my frigate a ways away from here and I’m currently waiting for my AI to reboot after a power surge knocked it offline.”
“You have a spaceship!”
“Yeah, but it’s a bit grounded right now. I’ll probably have to head back in a few days to manage things.”
“Does that mean you have a way to take us home!”
“No, while I have the ability to go to space if I can get the engines repaired. I don’t know our position or even if we’re still in the same dimension as Earth to make a trip back to Earth.”
I lay on the couch and look out the window wondering if I should tell her I have a way to send her home without her brother.
“So what is your avatar based on?”
I sighed as I remember my wife who I had seen only days ago.
“My wife, your great-grandmother Sarah Hackett.”
I rub my head in embarrassment.
“I’ll admit I’ve been a bit lonely all by myself and having a representation of her helps a bit.”
I try to get serious as I sit back up.
“But, it appears she had been keeping secrets from me that are now affecting all of you.”
She sighs as she leans back in her chair.
“I figured it had to do with you two, but it was her doing… did you really know nothing?”
“All I knew about her past was that she was an orphan from New York. After we met up during the war I accepted that fact and moved on. We soon had Mary after we got out of the military and never really pushed her for more information. So we just left it at that and forged ourselves a new life and didn’t bring up the past much.
“To think she had a past this exciting I should’ve been more direct in asking her about it.”
“So no leads to be found there then. But are you alive or…”
“From what I can tell I am, but I don’t quite understand the circumstances myself. So what do they have you doing out here.”
“Not much, basic hygiene lectures, basic science discussions, and other small things. They don’t seem that interested in what I know as much as trying to cultivate something in me.”
“Cultivating, as in magic and stuff?”
“Yes as well as some basic self defense to protect ourselves. But, I am curious are you not using magic?”
“Is it your equipment? When we all got transported here we all somehow knew the language and were told that we were given a spell that subconsciously translates for us all. With some help I’ve also learned to do this!”
She holds out her hands and a snowflake spins on her palm. It begins to twirl around her and as she creates a new one she soon has twelve snowflakes spinning around her.
I stare at them in wonder inspecting them with great interest.
“Well that confirms that.”
She chuckles as I look at her in confusion.
“The way you were looking at it with such interest. It’s just like you gramps though it will take some time to get used to this new you. For now, try not to embarrass yourself.”
“Hey I’m not that old now kid, but for now what’s your plan.”
“I don’t know, I guess I’ll train some more here.”
“Want to come with me to see your brother?”
“My brother? But he is in the capitol and it will take over a month to get there!”
“Wait… how long have you been here?”
“About three months I’d guess… why, how long has it been for you?”
“About two days I guess. Which makes me confused even more about what happened to get me here.”
As I say that I hear movement down the hall and put my hair back into my helmet before putting it back on. The door soon opens as a maid stays in the doorway.
She stares at me in surprise but soon collects herself and beckons us to follow her.
“Lunch is ready, if you would follow me.”
Sarah stands up and I follow behind her. We are led to a large table with plenty of food laid out. Kirk is seated next to a middle-aged man who is sitting at the head of his table. Must be that duke Issac he talked about. There is also a woman who appears to be his wife and a little girl seated next to her. Now that I look at it. Kirk looks to be only a few years older than Sarah. Which has me a bit worried considering they were summoned here. As he sees us Issac stands up and moves over to greet me. I groan as I expect to hear something I don’t want to.
“You must be Sasha a pleasure to meet you. I must say that is some interesting armor you have. You must feel restricted wearing that I should’ve had the servants help you out of it before the meal but we can take care of that after the meal. I’ve ordered the servants to prepare a bath for you afterwards, You must be tired after traveling here.”
“Thank you for the hospitality, duke Issac. I see you have been treating Sarah here well. I’m looking forward to receiving the same treatment.”
I take his hand in mine and shake it firmly.
“Would you mind taking your helmet off? It will be quite hard to eat with it on.”
I take it off and see he is surprised at my appearance. He tries to hide his surprise but I see it. His wife stares at me with concern with a hint of surprise as well.
“My, have you been taking care of yourself recently Sasha? Your hair is a mess!”
“My travels have been a bit hectic so I haven’t had time yet I’m afraid.”
“Even better that I ordered a bath to be prepared. Then how about you join us for lunch.”
I nod and take my seat next to Sarah who is sitting next to Kirk. The meal was nice enough though.