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"Mathazar... I see. It would be like him to leave the palace unannounced." Eliezer first shook his head at his brother's tendencies before letting out a sigh of disappointment in himself. "Not that I can be one to judge him, for I have done exactly the same to see you today. Do not misunderstand, it is not you who are to blame, but my own decision to make such a promise to you. The fault is mine, as I should have foreseen the increase in security after last night's attempted assassination. Regardless, I still have the both of you to thank, you for protecting him, and him for allowing us to meet."

He then found himself disturbed when she revealed her intention behind wanting to get close to him after her explanation. What did she mean by 'the real Eliezer'? Surely the Eliezer who addressed crowds from afar as the Crown Prince of Dainia was the same person up close? This doll-like prince she had mentioned was simply who he was, in spite of how 'abnormal' she might think it was. At least, he believed he knew himself well enough to come to that conclusion. As for her, did she feel that she had succeeded in what she had intended to do?

"I am afraid you are mistaken, my lady. There is no other side to me. What you have seen of me is who I truly am, be it when fulfilling my princely duties or as your companion. I do understand how my demeanor might seem... unnatural to you, but I have never been given any reason to be troubled by it, and I apologize if it causes you discomfort. However, if you wish to know more about me, I am rather doubtful that this is the time and place to do so."

That was when an extremely attractive woman approached them, though, she proved to be an unpleasant one once she started to speak. From Raven's response, it was apparent that the two were not on good terms. He turned slightly tense when 'Amy' stepped even closer to him and made an effort to charm him, for he hoped that she would not recognize him. At the same time, he thought it unwise to boast about her 'conquests' in front of the man she was attempting to seduce. Only one who was unintelligent would still be drawn to her after hearing such a thing. Fortunately, it was not long before she relented and left them alone.

After the incident, Eliezer could clearly see Raven's insecurity from her actions and words. It was understandable, for having lost multiple times to a woman who was simply more flirtatious and attractive was sufficient to have one believe that those were the qualities that men truly sought. Perhaps that may be true for some of them, but there were many who placed importance on other things. Watching his lady closely, it would seem that she feared to lose again, and he saw the need to restore her confidence.

"Any man who could be 'stolen' by her superficial assets does not deserve a committed lady," he commented, before reaching under her chin and gently tilting her head up so that his warm amber orbs could stare into her cool blue ones. He desired to assure her that she would not lose him, at least not to her coquettish 'sister'. "I gave you my word, and I will say it again, my lady. Until the Sun sets on this day, you will have me by your side."
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabidiol

Ain't illicit though.
The group's gonna get to the CBD (at least most of them), hopefully soon.
(R&D Lab/Med-Bay) @Burning Kitty @FalkiThomas @Lightning

At Zack's reply, Rex began to wonder about a couple of things - one, if Zack needed a girlfriend, and two, how special his own nanites were to have people fight over them as well. Upon reaching the lab, Rex then realized how at home he felt in this place, even though he had never seen it before. Everything around him was different, yet so familiar. It was not just the level of technology, but the people as well, particularly the agents and the busy scientist woman at the computer. He literally had a suited agent and a scientist in a lab coat as his caretakers back at Providence, after all. He was a little less fascinated by the others who had seemed to have come from different times and places, though, perhaps that would not have been the case if he had not already been told that these people had all been brought in from different worlds.

R simply raised an eyebrow when the armored ball vanished, knowing that it was the least of their worries. "Huh, I guess he isn't interested."

Meanwhile, J was responding to Link, who continued to express her interest in 'adventuring'. "I... guess you could ask them yourself?"

Lena, who was the only one who had not been informed of the project, was rather overwhelmed by the strangeness of this block. People were wielding equipment, wearing clothing, and using abilities and technology she had never seen in her life. She hardly had the time to ponder over it much, however, for a blond man then spoke to her and Raven and requested to be brought to the place of interest.

"I can't take all of you there, at least not quickly," the Seijin replied, before turning to Raven. "But I don't know if she can. She's the one who brought both herself and me back here with her powers almost immediately."

It was not long before a couple of others jumped in to offer their support, and R decided it was time to give them all a little more detail about how things worked at HQ. "Sweet! I'm loving the enthusiasm. Just let us run up to Main Ops so that we can look through any other reports on the attack that have come in, and then we'll fly all of you over since you're keen to have this as your first investigation with us."

However, the conversation was interrupted when Cloud suddenly proceeded to drag J out of the lab and speak to her in an unexpectedly aggressive manner. R listened to his words in alarm, for he was the one who had found both Cloud and Zack. He dashed out after them in hopes of diffusing the situation.

"Dead? That's impossible. That is your friend! Tell him, R!" J called to her partner in panic as he emerged from the lab.

"It really is Zack, Cloud, I promise you. Apparently, I entered into different points in time in your world when I found you both separately. I didn't think it was possible, but that seems like the only feasible explanation. I'm really sorry you had to come from a time when Zack is... no longer with you, but this has nothing to do with her, so please let her go."
I realize every IC post I've made for this story so far has ended with a line of speech lol.
Relief washed over Eliezer as they moved away from the crowd. Not that it was apparent. He very rarely strayed far from his usual demeanor, if ever. It was something that had been subconsciously trained since he was young. When they had found some privacy, he only listened to Raven as she began to further open up about her past. He then watched her give some of what she had to the two children who had approached them. At that moment, her small act of generosity meant so much more than the charity he and his family had shown to the commoners. The royal family may have been rich in material wealth, but these villagers, they were rich at heart. This had Eliezer questioning the perception he had all these years. Were they simply different, or was there truly something he was lacking?

He finally spoke again, deciding to share his thoughts and perhaps, lift the spirits of his lady. "You see, I show kindness to my people merely because I have been taught that it is right, and that I would gain their favor by doing so. You do the same for those in need, but because you know what it is like to be in their place. It is not what has happened to us that makes us who we are, but the choices that we make. In spite of all the hardship and rejection you have faced, you have chosen to persevere, and to still care for others. That is what makes you somebody amazing in my eyes. Do you understand now?"

Eliezer then continued, this time attempting to open up himself. "I regret being unable to empathize with your pain, my lady. I had servants catering to my every need as I was growing up, the very king and queen of Dainia guiding me into becoming a person, and my brother as my closest confidant. It was only with Prince Mathazar's aid that I am able to see you today. I cannot imagine what I would do without him. When the time shall come for me to inherit the throne of Dainia, I owe it to all of them to do my very best for the kingdom."

Her mention of the ball caused him to wonder how she had been able to be present at such an event. According to her, it had been because of a certain 'master', whom he assumed to be the adoptive parent of Raven and a few others, that she could attend the ball as a guest. As far as he knew, every guest at the ball had been invited by the royal family, and the fact that he had not even found her familiar the night before made it all rather peculiar. He would guess from her skills that she was newly hired as a royal spy for the kingdom, but he would not know for sure until he had asked.

"Pardon the change in subject, my lady, but I am curious to know your affiliation to my family."
Alright peeps, I'm gonna have to time this right. @eemmtt Could we have some Skaven clashing with the heroes when they arrive at the CBD? I'll give the villain side some time to respond before that and just move the HQ group along soon.

@FalkiThomas Wish I could have Rex continue his nanite conversation with Zack though, probably at a later time XD. You're right, it's starting to get hilarious.
Eliezer was taken aback by Raven's explanation about her family. "You are an... orphan, I see. My sincerest apologies, my lady."

He recalled her mentioning her mother the night before, which meant that she had known and had a relationship with her mother, and perhaps even her father. For an orphan to have lost a parent they had already formed a bond with must have been much more devastating than for them to have never known their parents at all. He could hardly imagine what it had been like for her, and apart from his apology, he did not know how else to respond to such information. Thankfully, the topic of their conversation quickly switched to something else - a village festival, of sorts. Eliezer wondered why his family was never notified of this yearly event. The village folk probably thought it too trivial for the royal family to concern themselves with. However, he wished they had been, for he constantly looked for ways to make a good impression on the commoners.

"Do extend an invitation to the palace the next year," he requested. "My brother and I would be interested in attending an event that holds such significance for you and your people."

That was when a friend of Raven's called them over. Eliezer instinctively adjusted the hat on his head, hoping for his disguise to remain effective as they approached the young man at the booth. While they spoke, the prince made it a point not to say too much apart from the occasional word, should his manner of speech give him away. From Raven's conversation with her friend, he was disturbed to learn that the orphans of Dainia were so badly off that they had to resort to theft. He had to have his family do more for these children. As for Raven, she had been through so much in her life. It must have been painful enough to have been orphaned, yet even after that, she had to survive and learn how to form relationships with others on her own.

He desired to know what exactly happened to her parents, though, to ask her to recall something so tragic when she was currently so happy would be rather inconsiderate and insensitive. Regardless, his admiration for her only grew immensely. It was her resilience which he thought truly amazing, and he found himself intrigued by the story of her life as they went around to meet with more of her acquaintances. However, he could see that she was completely comfortable and at home in the village with the simple folk. How well would she adjust to palace life and handle queenly responsibilities?

He was snapped out of his thoughts when Raven began to pull him out onto a makeshift dance floor where others were moving freely to the music. He was initially hit with anxiety, for he had never been thrown into such disorder and confusion in his life. Taking a deep breath, he remembered that this day was for his lady, and shifted all his focus on her to block out the chaos that surrounded them. He had plenty of time to think later, for he could go back to being the Crown Prince of Dainia after the Sun had set. What currently mattered was the woman in his arms.

"I see that you crave yet another dance. Did I fail to satisfy you the night before?"

He had meant for that comment to be humorous, and internally cringed at himself when it came out like a serious question. It was no wonder why he hardly made an attempt at humor. Not that he received such attempts of others well either. His lack of ability to comprehend humor was something his brother probably knew all too well. As they subconsciously moved to the rhythm of the song, he reached up, delicately brushing the stray strands of hair away from Raven's face so that he could gaze into her eyes.

"I truly am grateful that you have decided to reveal your way of life to me, my lady. You absolutely are the strongest person I have ever met. Not simply because of your skills in battle, but because of who you are at heart."
(Cinix Business District - Sewer) @eemmtt @Metatrooper

The yellow-eyed hooded figure reappeared to find Skitterback in his rather undignified state. A sigh escaped from its lips, before a portal opened in the area and poured out a group of arthropodal creatures.

"Ah, I see you've made it," it began, addressing Abathur. Don't mind this fellow over here, his coherence shall return in due time. Welcome to Cinix. Once you go above ground, you'll find this a lovely place. How would you like to run it, together? I'll give you some time to think about my offer."

It then moved over to inspect the half-finished gateway. "Interesting, but will this technology work across dimensions? I think not. Perhaps this might help."

The figure pulled out a larger version of Abathur and Skitterback's emblems and left it by the gateway, before turning back to Abathur and pointing to the one he was carrying. "If you wish to contact me again, there's always that."

With that, the hooded individual vanished into the shadows.
“Hmpf to get officially seen its always Eliezer this Eliezer that and why cant I be more like him.”

I love this part, made me laugh :D

Also, I happened to have the time to respond daily this past week, but that most likely won't be the case from next week onwards and my responses will be less frequent, so do take your time with your own replies. Still enjoying this story though!
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