HUMAN/SUPER First Contact 283

He scoffed.

“You’re stubborn, I’ll give you that.” He pulled up a chair. “So… you know those stories where a kid falls into a well or a closet and wakes up in a magical land full of kings and queens, knights in shining armor, that sort of thing?”

“Sure,” Angela said. “I’ve read a few.”

“Well, I lived one,” Eric said. “Only for me, it happened in reverse.”

Angela leaned forward.

“You’re from another planet?”

“More like another dimension,” Eric said. “It’s one of many parallel earths, all different in one way or another. Geographically, my world is the same as yours, but its history and people more closely resemble something like Akkraemyth.”

“I guess that explains why you play the game,” Angela said.

“More or less,” he said. “Anyway, the largest and most powerful nation on this world is called Verden. Almost thirty years ago, the king of Verden was deposed in a rebellion led by a rogue faction of the military. The entire royal family was executed, except the king’s youngest son—”

You?” Angela said.

Eric nodded.

“I was six at the time,” he said. “The rebels were everywhere. There was no way to escape the capital, no place to hide. So my father’s chief enchanter opened a dimensional gateway and shoved me through. I landed on your earth, in Montreal. With no family and no identity, I ended up in the foster system. It was… hard. But eventually I adjusted to life here.”

“And you haven’t been back home since?” Angela asked.

“Not even once,” he said. “Honestly, I stopped thinking of it as home a long time ago. Meeting Amir helped. Plus running water, vaccines, television, the internet. Oh, and central heating. Castles are nice to look at but they’re so damn drafty. And besides, with my family gone, there’s nothing left for me there anyway.”

“Okay, so I guess that brings us up to the present day,” Angela said. “What’s happening now?”