Author: The Lord J
He suddenly stopped and looked around quickly, ushering the girl through a small door in the wall that was so well hidden that she had not seen it until now. She walked through, and looked around as he closed the door behind them.
A dim bulb in the ceiling shed barely enough light around the place to see, but it quickly became obvious that this was the man's dwelling. A simple bed was against one wall, and rudimentary cooking apparatus sat on a worktop at the other side of the room; in between was another door, almost exactly opposite the one they had walked in. There were no windows to be seen and the whole affair looked very run down. Cracks ran up and down all the dirty white walls. The floor was bare wooden boards and the ceiling was the same as the walls.
As the girl stared around, she noticed that there were items scattered about that she had never seen before; devices of unusual design who's function she could only guess at. They looked in some way futuristic, yet they had obviously been here for some time judging by the accumulated dirt and grime on them.
The man leaned his walking stick against the wall and stood up straight for the first time. The girl noticed with some shock that he was immensely tall; at least seven feet. He was also very well built - or would have been many years ago; mostly it was just a wasted shell of a powerful man left now. His sleeves were now rolled up as he operated one of the devices in the cooking area.
He turned around and handed her a mug full of a steaming clear liquid. He drank from his and gestured to her to do the same. She sniffed it warily and took a sip.
Well, almost. It was clear, but it sure as hell tasted like coffee. She drank a little more, grateful for the heat.
The man sat down on the bed and motioned for her to sit on a chair opposite him. He took a sip from his coffee and spoke a single word to her.
She looked at him blankly.
He blinked, and tried another word.
He took a sip of his coffee and a thoughtful look crossed his face.
He looked up from his drink and said: "Hello?"
The girl's face lit up in relief.
"Ah, forgive me, my English is not so good. It has been some time since I studied it." He emphasized the ‘some'. He also seemed to have some sort of strange semi-european accent. "I am Krel. You?"
"Tara. I'm T-Tara." She nodded. At last, she could speak to him!
"Ah. So, Tara. What your story huh?" He asked.
"Um...th-this is gonna sound s-strange, but I was just s-studying in my dorm room and then there w-was like this, um, really horrible pain, and I was just there. I-in the alley, I mean."
"Forgive me, but please, slowly? I cannot ah..." - he racked his brains for the phrase - "keep up, with your speaking."
"Oh, s-sorry." She bit her lip. Her stutter wasn't going to help this at all. She explained again her situation, slowly and carefully to make sure he understood.
Krel gave her a strange look, then crossed to a shelf where various crystals stood. He picked one up, and brought it to her.
"Your hand, please."
Tara held out her hand and he placed the crystal in it. Instantly it glowed a dull pink.
"Ah...you are psyker." He confirmed. "You know this?" He asked as he returned the crystal to it's place.
"Psyker?" Tara asked, her brow knotting in confusion.
"Psyker...mind-power? The Will?" he clarified
"Oh...y-you mean like magic?"
"Magic...yes, yes, magic!" he enthused as the meaning of the word came to him. "Now, why you speak English? And not gothic tongue?"
"Um...c-coz' I'm from America?" Tara tried.
"America?" Krel asked blankly.
"Yeah, um, b-big country, also a continent, really..." Tara explained slowly.
"On which planet?"
"Earth..." Tara replied with a disbelieving look.
"Earth?!? Holy Terra?!?" Krel's eyes were wide with disbelief. "You are a *long* way from home!" He exclaimed. "This America, it is where you were before...before here?"
"Yeah..." Tara replied, now thoroughly scared. "Where am I?"
"This is Lerethos, capital city of Araganon V - you are not knowing this?" Another look of disbelief crossed Krel's face.
"Araganon Five? Where..." Tara shook her head. She liked to think she knew her geography, and she'd never heard of a country with a number, let alone one called Araganon.
Krel stood up again and paced around the floor for a minute, his arms crossed. "You...what date you leave Terra?" He asked with a sideways glance, his fingers now playing with the short beard he sported.
"W-what date I...huh?"
"You leave Terra and come here, what date you leave there?" He tried again.
"What date did I l-leave Earth? I didn't...i-is this a joke?"
"No joke, what date you leave Terra?" Krel shook his head.
"Um, N-November 24th, 1999..." she replied cautiously.
"Uh..." Krel closed his eyes in thought, searching for a word. "Millenium, which?"
"Millenium? Um, the second?"
Krel's face dropped like a stone. "Second...no. No. Millenium, one thousand years, yes? So, forty, forty-one?" He tried again.
"No, s-second." Tara reassured him.
Krel let out something that could only have been a curse in his native tongue. His mouth stayed open in shock.
"You...second?" He asked again.
"Yes, second." Tara felt like a stuck record.
Krel whistled and sat on the bed with a thump. "You have...you have dimension-skip. Biiiiiig dimension skip." He added for effect with a raised eyebrow. "You skip thirty-nine millennia, and huge distance. Terra is months of travel by immaterium from here. Months. This is..." - he shook his head - "uh...un...un...unpre-ceden-ted." He spoke the word carefully.
By this time Tara's head was spinning. Thirty-nine millennia and a distance that was almost beyond comprehension? Surely this was a joke? "Krel, no. This c-can't be, i-it's impossible."
He jumped up and pulled her with him through the second door she had noticed when she had walked in. Outside, he pulled her up a spiral staircase and onto what must have been the roof of the residence. He pointed at the sky.
"Is that sky you remember from Terra?"
Tara looked up and sucked in a breath. An amazing sight met her. A large orange disc glowed on the horizon, and the stars seemed somehow closer than the sky she was used to seeing. As she turned, two moons, both of differing sizes were visible. One was visibly moving slowly across the sky, and the other seemed stationary. Then it hit her. No way was this Earth. This could not possibly be a trick or illusion. This was almost certainly another planet. The Big Pineapple was nowhere to be seen.
"You see, this is Araganon V. Look, defence batteries." He pointed at a large square arrangement of lights in the sky, then moved his arm to point to another identical one.
The realisation hit her then. She was in a strange, hostile place with no hope of getting back. Never again would she see her parents or her fellow UC Sunnydale students; the days of her - now seemingly easy - life were over. She was now stuck here, in a place that no-one should ever want to be, with an old man with very little to his name.
Tears came rapidly, and she fell to her knees.