Duncan and Niasa – 8. In The Name Of Science!


“I never got the vampire thing,” Niasa said. “Nothing against them, I just don’t see why some people are into that.

– Vampires are dangerous,” I said. “Danger is arousing. Simple equation, really.”

I flipped over the steaks in the frying pan, while keeping an eye on my tomato curry on the other hot plate. Niasa was making sure the naan bread was cooking fine in the oven.

“No wonder you’re so drawn to her then, darling,” she said. “You always did love a woman who could kick your ass. Is that what got you hooked? The thought that she might sink her teeth in your sensitive throat and… suck you dry?

– I’ll remind you, I didn’t know she was a vampire, at first.

– At first?” she said, her ears perking up. “You mean when you were first interested in her? Ah-ah, so you admit it!

– Yes, yes…” I covered the steaks with herbs. “I was interested. Happy, now?

– Oh, yeah! I’m gonna hold it over your head for so long. And think of all the vampire jokes.”

I pinched the bridge of my nose.

“No wonder she prefers to put the kibosh on that,” she said, getting the naan bread out and placing it on a plate. “Vampires don’t get good rep, what with all the legends, and the rumors, and all. I mean, mentalities are evolving, sure, but still.

– And this is coming from a Hellhound.

– No kidding! We didn’t exactly get the long end of the stick either. But very few people know about us, which works in our favor.”

The steaks were done pretty quickly. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that Niasa likes her meat rare. Very, very rare. If she could, she’d probably brush the cow against the grill, then eat it as is, without bothering with a plate. Given how much meat I have to cook for her at every meal, however, the gain in time isn’t that big in the end.

“What about the other thing?” I asked. “That second piece of paper I got you.

– I sent a scan to Doktor Falkenstein, I’m waiting on an answer.

– Doktor Falkenstein?

– My section manager. It’s not her real name, but she was born in Germany and she likes RPGs. So, that’s what we call her.

– She sounds fun,” I said.

“Oh yeah, she’s cool. Gives a bit of a mad scientist vibe, but she’s cool.”

At that moment, her stomach let out another of those grumbles that could be mistaken for an earthquake.

“That may be the least sexy thing I’ve ever heard,” I said.

“Please, like there’s any part of me you don’t find sexy. And since you’re so kind to bring that up…”

She stood behind me and I felt her arms encircling my torso. I tried to mentally block out the sensation of her tits pressing against my shoulder blades.

“Please don’t, I’m cooking,” I said.

“Only need your hands for that.

– I also need my focus- no, no, wait, wait!”

One of her paws had moved dangerously south, and was now rubbing the front of my pants. I did my best to not make any wrong moves around the pans.

“Seriously, Niasa, that stuff’s really hot.

– So am I. And I’m getting very hungry…”

I felt her fangs on my neck.

“It’s… It’s just about done,” I quickly said. “Just need the… the coriander. There!”

I shut off the plates, and poured the curry in a bowl. Niasa peered into it.

“You just bought yourself some time, darling,” she said.

But not much time, evidently. Dinner was expedited within twenty minutes, dessert included. I took that as a sign that I hadn’t lost my touch when it came to curries. Niasa literally tore through her meat, her sharp fangs laying waste to it like it was paper. I should probably have said something about the mess she made, but she looked so happy… And, yes, I got to admit, I found that sexy too. Damn, maybe she was right.

Eventually, nothing was left but the plates and some spots. Niasa laid back in her chair with a satisfied sigh. I let out a light burp and picked up the plates to put them in the dishwasher. When I got back to the table, I noticed Niasa was playing with the bowl of tomato curry, tilting it with the tip of her claw.

“Oh, there’s still some left?” I said. “I guess I made too much sauce.

– Mmh, no,” she said. “I’d say you didn’t make enough meat.

– Really? That was over three pounds.”

I must not have noticed the way she was looking at me.

“Take off your top,” she said suddenly.

“What? Why?” I said, panicking.

“Because tomato sauce is a bitch to clean off.”

I opened my eyes wide. At that moment, I knew I had to choose between trying to reason with her or immediately taking off my T-shirt. I quickly decided I would never have time for the first, so I went with the second. The sauce had gone cold, thankfully; I don’t think Niasa would have been irresponsible enough to splash me with it while it was still hot.

Niasa grabbed me, then wrestled me on the table despite my best attempts to fend her off. A lot of the fighting in me disappeared when I felt her lapping my torso. Her tongue was rough and firm, and she used it with precision. I felt electricity coursing through my body, making my muscles spasm.

I gasped loudly when her tongue was replaced by her teeth, playfully biting where she knew I was the most sensitive. I kept trying to push her off, although I didn’t really want her to stop. She kept on biting, and gnawing, and nibbling, leaving small marks and spots of saliva all over my torso. It wasn’t long before I was reduced to a quivering mess, barely able to make a sentence.

“Is this anything like your secret fantasy?” she asked as her fangs softly chewed my ear.

“Wh-Wha…

– You didn’t think I forgot, did you?

– That’s not…” I started saying, but she interrupted me by alternatively biting and licking the area just above my groin. “Ah… You won’t… Hmm! It’s a secret. It’ll -huh!- stay a secret.”

– Don’t be so sure. No one’s coming to your rescue this time.”

She lifted my mobile from my pants’ pocket and turned it off. While she was at it, she finished undressing me. I was completely clean, by now, not that it stopped the licking, or the biting. And I was pretty sure she didn’t splash my lower stomach, but that didn’t stop her either. I jumped when I sensed the tip of her stiffened tongue tickling the edge of my glans.

“Gods!” I yelped. “Little warning next time?

– Nope.”

Her paws were still pressing hard on my shoulders, making sure I wouldn’t be going anywhere.

“Ready to confess?” she asked.

“Fine, I’ll admit it: the first time you told me your real name, I thought you were having acid reflux.”

Oh, right. This is something I haven’t mentioned before, but Niasa is not her real name. Or rather, it’s not her birth name. It’s what we call her Human name, or -less condescendingly- her social name. Hellhounds have both a social name and a birth name, the latter of which is a word in their mother tongue, a language only they are privy to and which sounds to me like a succession of growls.

Niasa’s mouth twitched like it did every time she tried to contain her laughter. Then, with fake anger, she said:

“Just for that, I’m gonna tie you to our bed until tomorrow morning. You’re not allowed to cum, or to pass out.”

She was about to hoist me off the table, when her own mobile rang, making a lot of racket as it vibrated on her desk. The ringtone was one of those synthwave songs Niasa always listened to.

“Oh, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” she grumbled.

“This could be important,” I said innocently.

“Mrrm, it’s Falkenstein’s ringtone. Fuck it, she’ll leave a voicemail. Now, back to the sequestration and raping…”

I tried to kick my way out of her embrace, but she managed to grab my leg. A moment later, she had wrapped her arm around my neck and started to drag me to our bedroom. The landline phone started ringing as well, and Niasa ignored it too. After a few rings, and as we were play-fighting our way down the hallway, the voicemail came on, and a female voice said:

“Niasa, are you there? It’s Rin. Please call me back as soon as you can. This is very important. It concerns… that paper we discussed.”

Niasa all but roared in frustration.

“I said it before, I’ll say it again: Lady Luck has the hots for me,” I said.

She muttered. Then, instead of releasing me, she dragged me back to her desk, and picked her mobile to call Falkenstein back. She then went to sit on the couch, keeping me in a stranglehold with her legs in order to free her arms.

“Hi, it’s me. Sorry, couldn’t pick up in time.”

I tried to untangle her leglock, but her legs’ muscles were even stronger than her arms’.

“Yeah, Scott too said it… Huh-uh? Huh.”

Trying another tactic, I reached under her knees and tickled them. Annoyed, Niasa tightened her hold to calm me down.

“Shhh, I’ll be with you in a moment,” she said to me, before going back to her conversation.

“Whatever,” I mumbled.

Giving up, I started brushing the fur on her legs to pass the time. She had a lot of knots.

“Uh, no, wasn’t me,” she said into her phone. “Yeah, I do. Err… Not sure, actually. What? You’re sure you… Hold on a sec.”

Niasa tapped on the top of my head to get my attention.

“She wants to meet with you.

– She does? Why?

– She has some questions about the forms, how you fill them and all that.

– Well, that’s easy: I have no idea. I just turn my brain off and do them.”

She sighed, then went back to her phone:

“Yeah, so he says… Oh, you heard. Right. Well, me neither. What? Huh… When you say “tests”… I’ll ask him.”

She turned to me again, making sure to press the “mute” button this time.

“She wants to meet with you, and do some tests on you. Nothing intrusive or dangerous, she says.

– Tests? What for?

– Something about the paper you brought us really interests her. She says your work is impressive, and she’d like to know how you did it.”

As a matter of fact, so did I. Yes, I had initially accepted the “I’m just that good” explanation for that, but I was still curious to know why I was just that good. Of course, when I heard “doctor” and “tests”, I immediately pictured something straight out of A Clockwork Orange, and I just wasn’t that curious.

“Do you trust her?” I asked.

“Sure. She can get a bit… obsessed, but she’s okay. She won’t do anything bad to you, I promise. I won’t let her.”

I sighed.

“Okay, set up a meeting.

– He says okay,” she said, going back to her phone conversation. “When can we do this? Yeah. Oh, right, that’s tomorrow… Well, no, he works too. Tonight? I mean, it’s getting late, and I kinda had plans…

– Tonight works for me,” I immediately said with a smirk.

“Rrrrg. Fine, tonight,” Niasa said, baring her sharp teeth. “When and where? Right, see you soon.”

She hung up and scowled at me.

“Nice save. You’re gonna eat so much pussy for this, next time I get my claws on you.

– You won’t make me talk by threatening me with a good time.

– Get dressed, smartass,” she said, her powerful legs finally freeing me. “We’re taking your car.”

I would have expected a section manager to have their office at or near the top floor of their building. Instead, Doktor Falkenstein’s workplace was located in the underground level. The place was filled with all sorts of electrical and computer equipment, some of which were dismantled and/or in the process of being rebuilt. It smelled of ozone and bleach, and overall looked more like a workshop than a lab, despite what the sign on the door called it.

As to Doktor Falkenstein -real name Rin R. Roth, Ph.D- herself, Niasa wasn’t kidding about the mad scientist vibe. Her creased lab coat, her unkempt, long brown hair, her square glasses, and that strange glint in her eyes really made her look like she had a secret base inside a volcano, from which she planned to exert revenge against those who wronged her, with the power of Science! She was also a Lizard Girl. She had the tail, the claws and the legs to prove it, all covered in emerald green scales. Her eyes were almost entirely yellow, with two black vertical slits, like those of a snake.

“Thank you for doing this on such short notice,” she said to Niasa. She spoke with a very slight German accent. “And delighted to meet you, Duncan. I’m doctor Roth, you can call me Rin.

– Duncan, likewise,” I said.

She was looking at me with professional interest, and seemed to examine my hand as I shook hers.

“Please, take a seat,” she said, pulling up a metal chair. “I’ll make it as quick and as painless as I can, don’t worry.

– I’d appreciate that. What exactly do you want from me?”

She showed me the paper Niasa had sent her, and placed her index claw at a line near the bottom.

“Can you explain to me what this line means?” she asked.

“I should ask you the same question, since I have no idea.

– This is known as a Wallis transformation; it’s a type of conformal map. The engineers in my section use it in their work. But they use computers with specialized software to obtain the results you’ve input here.”

She carefully observed my reaction -or lack thereof, really-, and continued:

“Let me ask you this: have you majored in mathematics in college?

– I didn’t really go to college, and we don’t have majors in the UK. So, no.

– I see,” she said, pulling up a notepad and a pencil. “When you were in high school, would you say you had good grades in scientific classes?

– Well, my teachers said I did well, when I bothered trying -which they also said wasn’t often.”

The doctor nodded and took a rather lengthy note.

“This is interesting.

– Am I some sort of Rain Man type, then?

– No, I have another theory.”

She rummaged through a pile of various objects and parts, then pulled out a metallic box dotted with dials and buttons, a computer screen, and a handful of small, round patches connected to wires. As she turned the apparatus on, I realized it was an electroencephalogram; I had seen one the time Gordy was sent to the hospital after a bar brawl got him a concussion. The doctor said:

“I would like to take a look at your brain, and ask you a few more questions. I’m going to need you to be completely honest. I assure you, my interest is purely scientific.

– Err, okay.”

She had begun planting the electrodes on my head before I even gave her the greenlight, with something looking like glee in her eyes. Coloured waves and a series of numbers appeared on the screen. Rin stared at them for a moment, muttering:

“Interesting. Very interesting. Indicative, however nothing conclusive…”

She adjusted her glasses and asked:

“Duncan, have you ever experienced something you’d consider… unnatural?

– What do you mean by unnatural?

– Have you ever seen something that seemed completely out of place? Have you ever had strange visions, like realistic dreams, maybe while you were awake? Have you ever been in contact with odd objects that appeared to possess anomalous properties?”

I frowned. Those questions were rather vague, but they evoked something very precise in me. All of a sudden, the memory of the night I met Niasa came back to me. I saw the orb, its strange black light, and the dark tendrils. I saw my hands touching it. Niasa and I looked at each other.

“I… Yes, actually, I believe so.”

Rin put a mark on her notepad.

“Tell me more, please.”

I looked at Niasa, who gave me a nod to tell me it was okay. I cleared my throat and told the doctor the story of that night, specifically the part in the underground lab. I made no mention of Gordy or anyone else apart from me and Niasa, and did not tell her anything about the place itself, or how and why I was there. My retelling of the story focused almost entirely on the orb.

“Great Elders,” the doctor whispered as I got to the part where the orb exploded in my hands and knocked my lights out. She started anxiously taking a long series of notes. A large smile appeared on her face.

“What happened while you were unconscious?” she said. “Do you recall seeing anything, hearing anything?

– I think… I think I saw something, yes. It was… It looked like a place.

– Could you describe it? Any details would help.

– You didn’t mention seeing anything before,” Niasa said.

“It was just a glimpse; I sort of forgot about it. I thought I was dreaming, or hallucinating. There was a rocky place, like a mountainous region. There was lava, and… it looked like it was flowing up, not down.”

Niasa’s jaw dropped. Apparently, I had finally managed to surprise her -even though I didn’t mean to.

“Did… did you see anything else?” Niasa asked.

“Yes… There was this… tower, like a castle tower, with a black hole on top or something. It looked like something out of a Michael Moorcock novel.

– No fucking way,” Niasa muttered, astonished.

“You know this place,” I said. It wasn’t a question.

“The homeworld. You saw the homeworld.

– The… what?”

My Hellhound sat on the edge of a table, looking flummoxed. The doctor finished taking notes, and said:

“What you saw, Duncan, was another dimension -another world.”

You know the expression: “my heart skipped a beat”? Is there an equivalent for the brain? Because that’s what my brain did when she told me that. Rin was looking at me like I was a fascinating specimen, the discovery of which would nominate her for the Nobel Prize.

“Another dimension?” I said. “What… What does that mean?”

And why did I feel like it was only a matter of time before a hare and a man with a top hat would soon appear to debate the similarities between a raven and a desk, over a cuppa?

The doctor and my Hellhound exchanged a few whispers. I didn’t catch much of it, but I definitely heard Niasa say something along the lines of: “we can trust him; I want to tell him.”. Rin let out a sigh of resignation, then turned to me and said:

“Very well. I think it’s time we told you what we’re actually doing in the AlterDreams section.”

She scratched her chin, and mumbled a bit, apparently trying to figure out where to start. After a couple of seconds of reflexion, she asked me:

“Do you know how mamonos came to exist in Human society?

– The way I understand it, they’ve always existed, but they more or less lived in secret until some fifty or sixty years ago, when their existence became widely known to the public. This caused quite a bit of stir all over the world.

– That is indeed the most commonly accepted explanation, yes,” Falkenstein nodded.

“You’re telling me that’s not right?

– I’m telling you it’s a lot more complicated than that.”

Despite not having been prompted to do so, I took the electrodes off my head and threw their wires over the EEG monitor. The doctor rubbed her chin, and said:

“The short answer is, we’re not sure how mamonos came to become part of this world. In fact, for the longest time, nobody had any idea where we came from -not even us. There were hypotheses, of course, which were little more than legends or superstitions. Mamonos came from the Heavens, some said. They came from Hell, others claimed. Both of those claims, of course” she had a sceptical cough “are not considered scientific in the least.

“What we do know is that the various kinds of mamonos came into this world in waves, all through history. My kind, for instance, is estimated to have appeared between the fourth and the sixth century of the Christian Era.

– Wait a minute,” I said. “How come you lot don’t know how you got here? Did you all land here on your heads and get amnesia?

– Like I said, this happened centuries ago -millennia, possibly. Our ancestors, those of the first generation, may have known, but none of those who lived back in those times are alive nowadays. Any knowledge they may have possessed has been inevitably twisted along the years -or lost entirely.

“Of course, discovering our origins has always been one of our main pursuits, much like how Humans have been concerned with their own origins since early in their history. Especially since some of us suspected that this world was not originally our own -thus why we hid from Humans for the longest time.

– Is that what AlterDreams is about, then?” I said.

“Indirectly; I’m getting there. During the second part of the twentieth century, as knowledge of the mamonos became increasingly common, Human scientific research started to become involved in the answering of that question. This allowed us to make quite a few discoveries. The most important of which happened some twenty-five years ago: alternate dimensions exist, and mamonos very likely came from them.

– Holy crap,” I said.

“Yup,” Niasa said. “Apparently, there’s a whole bunch of other worlds out there, some of which are filled to the brim with mamonos.

– And, so, that place I saw… That was your dimension? Your… homeworld?

– That’s right.

– But… wait, I thought mamonos did not remember coming here.

– Hellhounds are a special case,” Rin said. “They are the last known species to come to this world. In fact, they arrived here about twenty-five years ago.

– That explains quite a few things, actually, including how you figured out this whole alternate dimensions thing.

– You catch on quick. Yes, it is through our discovery of Hellhounds that we also discovered the existence of alternate dimensions, and their connexion to mamonos. Although some have theories that a few Hellhounds arrived centuries before that, thus giving rise to their legends in certain cultures. But the majority of Hellhounds currently living in our world arrived twenty-five years ago from another dimension -or, as in Niasa’s case, were born from those visitors.

– I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that it was decided not to make that discovery public.

– That is correct,” Rin said. “The few people -scientists, for the most part- who are aware of this have decided to keep it a secret, at least for the time being.

– Why?

– Well, first of all, this is still relatively new, and there are still many unknowns. What’s more, please consider the implications of such a discovery. This completely changed the way we conceive our reality, and the universe at large. Imagine how the whole world would react.

– Yeah, and more importantly,” Niasa said, “remember how I told you that in the wrong hands, this could be bad? That’s the main reason.

– By wrong hands, you meant NUTEC?” I said.

– Not exactly,” Niasa said. “Until a few days ago, we had no idea that’s what they were working on.

– Okay, so who did you mean? And how bad is “bad”?”

The doctor and my Hellhound exchanged glances for a little while. Eventually, Niasa said:

“I’ll tell him even if you don’t.”

That’s my Niasa, I thought proudly. Rin harrumphed, and said:

“Right, we trusted you so far, anyway. A few years ago, one of our competitors was working on a project very similar to what we do at AlterDreams. Their leader was a mamono. Initially, we assumed that person just wanted to find out more about their own original dimension -their own homeworld. A purely scientific venture, not unlike what we do here at AlterDreams. Not so, in fact. In reality, what they wanted was to create a portal connecting their world to this one.

– What for?” I asked.

“To invade this world,” Niasa said.

“Right, silly question.

– I won’t go into details,” Rin resumed, “especially since I don’t know most of them, but that attempt was thwarted, and the mamono responsible disappeared in the shadows, and was assumed to be dead.

– I see, and you think he or she is still alive, and getting ready for the sequel.

– That’s about the size of it,” Niasa said.

I leaned back in my chair, making the back creak.

“Well, this is… a lot. So what was that black orb that gave me that vision? Sorry to bring the conversation back to me, but that’s a subject I know and understand.

– Like we said,” Rin said, “Hellhounds are the latest mamonos to get into this world. This means they are infused with some sort of… otherworldly energy -or transdimensional energy, as we call it. Some say it is a part of their life energy, or their souls. Completely unscientific, of course. My theory is that it is some sort of energy that they obtained during their cross between dimensions. It is also possible that this was an energy naturally present in their homeworld.

“Some less scrupulous people have devised a process to harness it -that would be what this orb you described actually was. The process inevitably kills the Hellhound.

– They harness it in order to use it to create portals to other dimensions, I’m guessing?

– Likely yes, but some have suggested it might have other applications.

– Such as?

– Magic,” Niasa said with a smile.

“Magic, right,” I said. “Wait… Seriously?

– A hypothesis,” Rin said, frowning. “Nothing more. We know very little about this energy, in part because we refuse to partake in the experiments necessary to collect it. And the rarity of Hellhounds -added to the fact that they understandably prefer to live in hiding- does not help.

– So, wait. That black orb contained… what, a piece of Niasa’s soul or something?

– Something like that, darling,” Niasa said softly.

“Wow. I guess we got really intimate. Before we properly met, too.

– Precisely,” Rin said, apparently impervious to my sarcasm. “This, I believe, is the reason behind your preternatural talent concerning this.” She held out the paper again. “When you touched that orb, a small portion of that transdimensional energy must have entered you, affecting your neurobiology in a subtle, never-before-seen way, and charging you with a knowledge you don’t understand. The knowledge of other dimensions.”

She had finished that tirade in a breathy voice, evidently fascinated with her own deduction, and its implications.

“Right,” I said. “But in reality, all I can do is fill stupid forms, and only when I don’t think about it. Why is that, by the way?

– It’s the Caterpillar Complex, I believe,” Rin said.

“Ah, of course,” I said. After a moment of silence, I asked: “What the Hell is the Caterpillar Complex?

– It’s a term I use to illustrate a form of intuitive knowledge. It’s from a story: a ladybug meets a caterpillar; she asks him: “how can you walk with all these legs?”. The caterpillar realizes he has no idea; that’s how he walked all his life without thinking about it. And, from the moment he realizes that, he suddenly finds himself unable to walk anymore.

– That… sort of makes sense, I suppose. Still a pretty rubbish gift, though.

– I don’t think you realize how important this is,” Rin said.

“Yeah, that’s the reason you got that promotion, for starters,” Niasa said.

“ I guess… Oh, bugger me. Is that the reason why Sorina was acting into me? Just trying to seduce me to keep the talent onboard? Could it be so simple?

– Nothing about this is simple, darling.”

No kidding. My mind was reeling from everything that had just been unloaded on me. Alternate dimensions. Mysteries. Secret research. And on top of that, some evil conspiracy for world domination. I should have been stunned; I should have been stupefied. Dazed. Overwhelmed. Terrified, perhaps. I should have been a thousand things. But, actually, I only felt one thing.

“This whole thing… It’s… This…

– I understand if you need some time to…” Rin said, but I interrupted her.

“This is bloody brilliant!” I exclaimed.

“Right?!” Niasa said.

I jumped out of my chair and went to take her paws. Her smile reflected mine.

“I can’t believe this is what you’ve been working on!” I said.

“I know!” she said. “I wanted to tell you this whole time. I’m sorry I had to keep it a secret. This is why I couldn’t let you meet my family, too. Not then.

– It’s alright. Now, I know. Hey, maybe I can come work here, now.

– We could indeed greatly profit from that,” Rin said. “I personally would wish to study more intently this gift of yours, if you would be so kind as to allow me certain tests on your person…

– No,” Niasa said. “We need him at his current job more.

– Why?” I said. “Oh, right, you need a man on the inside at NUTEC.

– That… is correct,” Rin said with reluctance. “NUTEC is working on transdimensional research as well, and we need to know why. Is their interest scientific or… otherwise?

– And you need to know whether or not Blofeld is pulling their strings from the shadows,” I said.

Niasa chuckled.

“Blofeld?” Rin frowned.

“That mamono that’s trying to take over the world. I’m guessing since you don’t even know their gender, you don’t know their name either. So that’s the nickname I’m giving them.

– I like it,” Niasa said.

“Very well, then,” Rin said with an eye roll. Apparently, she wasn’t a James Bond fan. “Look, I know that what we’re asking you to do -spying on your employer- is not very moral, and could prove dangerous, but…

– I’ll do it,” I said. “I understand why it’s important.

– Excellent,” Rin said. “Now, I’m not an expert in these things, so I can’t tell you how to proceed to obtain the information we’re looking for. I would appreciate if you kept it entirely legal, however…

– Don’t worry,” Niasa said. “He’ll figure it out. He’s already got an in. Don’t you, darling?

– Right, yes…”

The doctor put away the EEG equipment, and placed her notepad next to a computer. She rubbed her hands together, her gaze distant.

“This is all well and good, then,” she said. “I don’t suppose I need to tell you not to breathe a word about anything you’ve heard tonight.

– Darn, there goes my thesis’ subject.

– And if ever you’re interested in finding out more about the effect that energy had on you, my door is always open. As I said, there’s a wide array of examinations I…

– We’re good,” Niasa said, putting her arm around my shoulders. “Thanks for your help, we’ll be in touch.”

We said our goodbyes and went back to the car. Niasa reclined her seat all the way back, and put her feet up.

“I really did want to tell you, you know?” she said.

“I know,” I said, putting the key in the ignition. “Anyway, you can tell me everything, now. Did you really come from another dimension?

– Me, no. My sisters and I were born here. My mom and my step-dad did, though. Growing up, they sometimes told me and my sisters stories about the homeworld. We weren’t supposed to tell anyone, though.

– So you never actually saw it?” I asked as I turned on the car and drove out of the parking lot.

“Nope. But you have, weirdly enough.

– Did your mother ever tell you how she got here?

– Yeah. It’s a long story… When we were younger, she didn’t even tell us our homeworld was in a different dimension. I thought she was talking about some remote country, somewhere. Mom made it clear she preferred to be here, though. My step-dad, too. He loves all the technology, especially cars. The homeworld was pretty backwater, compared to here.”

The roads were empty at this time of the night, except for a few trucks. I took the first motorway I found, hoping it was the right one.

“So, was your mom some kind of refugee, then?” I said.

“Something like that. You’ll have to ask her or my step-dad for the full story.”

Her paw went to brush the side of my torso.

“Are you saying you’re finally going to introduce me to your parents?”

Niasa mulled it over for a second and said:

“You know what? Fuck yeah, let’s do that. You’re in the know, now. I’m gonna contact them and see when we can go to their house. It’ll be a fun vacation, and they can tell you more about that whole thing. Ever been to Nevada?

– No. Ray and I were planning on doing a week-end in Vegas for his birthday, though. Just the guys, he said; I suggested we bring you and Chloe, but he said no. He thinks Chloe wouldn’t do well in Vegas. Guess she doesn’t like gambling.”

She raised her paw and caressed my cheek. I took it and kissed it.

“I can’t wait to meet your family,” I said.

“You’re gonna love them. Hell, they’re gonna love you.

– Errr… Your mom is not going to try to have sex with me, right?” I said, worried.

“She’s happily married and strictly monogamous. Watch out for my sisters, though.

– Great…”

Niasa rolled on her side and yawned, her eyes slowly closing. Before she fell asleep -she always does on long car travels, especially when we’re driving at night-, I told her:

“I’ll be staying at work late again tomorrow. I’ll make you a pepperoni pizza before I leave, you’ll just have to cook it in the oven.

– Mmmh… A long day at work with the boss that guzzled on your blood,” she mused, her eyes still closed. “This is gonna suck.

– … Really?

– Your first vampire joke. I thought I’d start you off with an easy one.”

She yawned again, showing her long fangs, then put her arms under her head and quickly went to sleep. She looked like a puppy, especially when she started drooling on her seat.

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