When I woke up I knew things had not changed for the better, but also (and more importantly) I was still not home. I was laying in a bed and everything in the room was way too sterile and white even for an earth hospital but probably what gave it away that I was not at home was the open window showed me a futuristic scene that could only be played out in the best science fiction. Everything was steel but covered in snow but I didn’t recognize the architecture. The only thing outside was floating ships and robots. It was the robots that gave it away. Some of them were downright human looking and acting. They however definitely had metal parts and the skin was too metallic looking to be organic. They also were of various shapes sizes apparently representing many different alien races that inspired their forms.
The one positive was that I was with Tequila. She was in the bed next to mine. The negative was that we were both naked and strapped to the bed with restraints. Across our chests and pelvis regions as well as ankles and wrists. How we got here I had no idea. The problem with using the magical portal chests seems to be you are knocked out from the magic at least for a little while. During this time a lot of stuff could happen and so far for me both times it meant losing my clothes and in this case being captured for some unknown purpose.
Tequila woke up a few minutes after I did. She said a bad word I will not repeat here but it summed up the situation pretty well. I was wondering if our captors would let us know what the hell was going on and how long we would have to wait before we would be experimented on when the door across the room slid open. Yep, just like on Star Trek.
In walked Avion, my alien friend from the pub. Her dress was pretty much the same with the silver pants and boots thing. Topless as always. Humanoid but with slits for a nose and ears and no hair. The one thing was missing was her gun. Instead she held a small thing that looked like a tricorder from the original series of Star Trek. She had taken off right after The Pub War and I had not seen her till now.
“It is good to see you barkeep but I wish it was under different circumstances. You and Tequila are safe. Sorry for the restraints but we had to inject you with several vaccines and other things so you could survive in the various worlds you might encounter and we were not sure how they would affect you.”
“Whoa there, ‘various worlds’?”
“Yes, I will explain in good time but for now I am simply here to see that you have taken to the injections and do not pose a risk to others through your biology. Once this has been assessed, I can release you. You will find clothing more suitable to this world in the lockers at your feet. I must apologize but it is for your safety as well as ours. Oh, the scientists have been looking at your shield barkeep. It is the only thing that passed through the dimension door of the chests. They find it quite fascinating but it is yours and will be returned to you immediately.”
“Thanks, I think.”
True to her word, after a few moments we were released. We got dressed, me averting my eyes so as not to see Tequila’s rose tattoo before we consummated our marriage, but when we were done we looked much like Avion. Silver boots and pants but nothing from the waist up. The pants were quite utilitarian as they had several flat pockets that could not be seen until you used them. They also fit comfortably having a self adjusting property I simply could not explain. Avion gave us watch like devices too. They would monitor our life signs and help us communicate with others as they were translation devices. I was about to ask about my shield when the door opened and another alien, male this time but looking very much like Avion walked in holding my shield.
“You might be interested barkeep, that this shield is pretty much immune to any kind of harm we could think of. No weapon or tool we used could even hurt it. It is a strange alloy and we detected magical properties as well.” Avion was using that tone of voice that reminded me a automated information booth.
“Sweet. Now when do we go home?”
“You will start as soon as possible. I must warn you though it might take a few weeks to get you back.”
“Maybe this is a better question. Why am I here instead of on Earth in my pub.”
Avion then told us the story. She had returned to Earth about a day after Tequila and I had disappeared. The fear Colonel Gin and Campeche had was Mr. Lies would destroy the chest and thus seal us in fantasy land forever. Avion took the chest and left earth with it to protect it. She had been summoned home to get new orders and so she brought the chest with her. When we popped out of it on her spacecraft, we had been instantly quarantined. We were injected with all the vaccines to protect us from diseases that were harmful to us and kill the diseases that were harmful to various alien species. Her planetary council had been briefed on the situation and had instructed Avion to give us her full support in getting us home. The problem was we were many hundreds of light years from Earth. Even with Faster than Light travel we would not be able to get home in less that two weeks.
“Ok, what about the chest?”
“Well it belongs to Tequila. Barkeep, my people have a strong feeling about ownership and personal property. It is protected by a force field but the main danger that it would be destroyed is over. My council would like it destroyed and close the portal forever but they do not own it.”
“Can it be destroyed?”
“Actually no. We did some tests to see if it was possible and the magic is too strong.”
“So, what we have is a gate between two different universes then and it is not going away?”
“Yes, and it could be used for great ill.”
My mind began to process this. The one thing that could be problematic was an advanced alien race using the chest to send its people to fantasy land but the real danger would be sending orcs, trolls and similar creatures back this universe where they could be outfitted with advanced technology. What an army that would be. It would be slow going but if someone had control of both sides they could maybe figure out the magic and duplicate it.
“Needs to go back to my pub and guarded.”
Avion frowned, “Barkeep, I am not sure your pub would be the safest place.”
“My pub is a magical nexus. It would have a better chance of remaining protected there or someplace similar. I would be the only way to magically seal it and if we added advanced technology defenses then it would be as safe as we could make it. Besides Mr. Lies wouldn’t suspect that we would actually bring it back. To have him roaming the galaxy trying to find where you hid it when it is right under his nose would be sweet irony.”
“This will require great stealth barkeep but you have a good point. I will arrange a ship and the transfer of the chest to it. We can probably leave in a couple days. Do you need anything else?”
I looked at Tequila and smiled.
“Yes, is there an official that can perform a marriage ceremony around here?”
“We would like to see him immediately.”
Welcome to All Things Rabyd, your friendly neighborhood ‘clothing optional’ theology pub. I, the Rabyd Theologian and your bartender, thank you for stopping by. Please drink your theology responsibly or have a designated driver to get you home. Please tip your waitress and they might give you a kiss on the cheek. Just remember life is short so enjoy it. Blessings and Cheers!