You glance at the restaurant for a second before pocketing the paper, your head trying to wrap around the things that had happened throughout the past four hours alone. Honestly, it felt quite boggling. Wake up, sex with a nurse, shower, food, the titty-bitch, and more flirtatious gestures from random strangers than what you'd received within the past year.
Focus, focus, your brain returned to the task at hand, right now you were looking for information and you were absolutely certain it wasn't impossible to find it.
Dia was still in the hospital, somewhere, while the others... you weren't sure, but you doubted they'd stay in their room if they could explore. At least so long as they weren't May. Maybe May was also in the hospital somewhere? In the end, you opted to take the option you were both dreading but also suspected was the wisest option.
The police ought to know a thing or two, right?
Better go and find someone you could ask for help to clear out some doubts, maybe answer some questions, Huge had mentioned a pamphlet for outworlders but he clearly had not left it in the room. So... next best thing perhaps?
As you walk around the small village, you keep noticing a thousand little and large things that just kept jumping at you everywhere you looked. How the people walked, how monstergirls that accompanied humans would stay close and protective of everyone else in tiny little ways. Or how many of those that didn't seem to have a partner would be attentive and seeking the sight of others, sometimes even you.
There were quite a few winks thrown your way.
And the more you walked the more you kept noticing some of the more discreet instances of-
"Help, please!" Someone's shout drew your attention. "Please! This isn't some sort of kinky denial roleplay! I'm serious!" Walking towards the source of the voice, you found a bushy-tailed fox-like monstergirl (couldn't be anything else, you figured), half crying for help from the passerby's who kept coy grins and amused expressions as they went.
"I'm a real officer!" She proclaimed loudly. "Please help me out of these cuffs!" She noticed you looking her way and perked. "Please help me, I swear this isn't some kink-play, my partner cuffed me and ran off!"
You looked her over. "You sure?" You asked, hands in your pockets and well away from any flailing limbs.
"Yes!" She said, teary-eyed. "Please help me, sir?"
A sigh and a nod. The world was insane.
"Just a minute." You declared, moving behind her and realizing that the cuffs had been duct-taped to the metal. "Do you happen to have a knife? I'm going to need to cut this a bit."
"Belt, backside." She replied, her tail moving to the side to reveal the pouch with a small knife in it. "And thank you so much, it's almost been half an hour of being here. The Chief's going to chew my tail out."
"What's your name?" You offered, calmly starting to cut off the tape and trying to distract yourself from how her shifting kept raising her skirt. "I'm Rick." She perked as soon as you had cut her loose. Her wrists were still cuffed to one another though, so you then had to unlock one of them.
"Officer Trish, kitsune at your service!"
You didn't laugh mostly out of respect, though you did feel incredibly amused. "It's nice meeting you, officer." You declared with a courteous tight nod. Thank fuck this hadn't turned into some weird attempt at getting you to fuck her.
"And you as well, sir." Her ears rotated this way and that as she picked up her gun and placed it on her belt.
Wait, she had a gun? You... definitely should've paid closer attention. No matter, change the subject. "Actually, this meeting is rather fortunate." You added, catching her attention once more. "I was looking for some help from an officer."
"Oh!" Her ears stood up, and her face reddened slightly. "I'm flattered, but officers aren't allowed to tame while on duty; you'd have to wait until my shift ends."
Though you weren't certain what 'tame' meant, you could take a wild guess and feel fairly sure of what it meant. "No, it's a different sort of help. You see, I'm not from around here and have some questions about the law I could use assistance with."
"Oh!" She perked further, nodding enthusiastically. "Then you can accompany me to the precinct! I'm sure Bea would love to help you with whatever doubts you may have!"
Someone was definitely all smiles and cheer once free of her conundrum it seemed, it was welcome at least, closer to normal than seeing a threesome spontaneously occur in public.
"Why did you think I wanted to tame you?" You wondered as the both of you walked.
"O-oh? No reason in particular, sir." She waved off your inquiry almost in a rush, her eyes seeming to very intently glue themselves to the front. "Unless you're interested?"
"Just curious." You shrugged.
"A-ah, yeah, yes, obviously." A quick nod and a quickening of her heels as she walked.
"Why is your uniform like that anyways? Isn't it impractical?" You continued asking.
"That's because..." She went silent, you notice a bit of tension. "I just need to earn a position as an actual officer."
"Wait, you're not a real officer?"
"Yes I am, just... a rookie." The woman deflated slightly. "So most of what I've done is fine people."
"That's rough, but I'm sure you'll make it if you put in the effort." You reassured her.
"Really, sir?" Her tail began to wag happily. "Thank you!"
You'd feel bad if you corrected her abrupt source of optimism... so you didn't. Time for a change of subject. "So how did you end up tied up like that?"
The happy mood turns into a growl. "Stupid Elise ditched me."
"To do that she tied you up?" You wondered.
"I wouldn't have let her if she hadn't!" Trish fumed. "She never follows the rules!"
"Why hasn't she been fired already?"
"Dunno, she's not fucking the Boss-man, at least not that I can smell it on her, so..." She shrugged her shoulders, sullen.
Better steer the conversation away from those waters. "How is the town? I'm new here so I'm sort of clueless, what's the law around here? Anything I should definitely be aware of?" You ask curiously... and a bit cautiously.
"Uh... don't kill, don't steal, and don't talk about monstergirl freedom out-loud in front of anyone with a uniform..." Her eyes quickly looked at you. "If that's something you believe in, sir."
Not quite sure how to take the last bit, you keep your expression neutral and held back from commenting on it, probably better to change the subject again. "Anything interesting happens recently?" You wondered innocently.
"Oh, totally, yesterday Boss-man said that we'd be getting some outlanders!" She then sighed wistfully. "Man, it'd be so awesome if they're the nice types."
"Really?" You prompted her to continue.
"Oh yes! I'm sure they'd be so dreamy!" She gushed loudly, with a slight squeal. "Maybe I'll catch the eye of one of the outlanders!"
"Maybe." This time it was a bit hard to hide the amusement over her enthusiasm. "Would you run away with them?"
"Never!" She became serious quite suddenly, but with a pout, which took away a lot of the edge to her words. "I'm going to be the best officer around!"
Well, she seemed enthused once more.
"So what do you think about outlanders?" You wondered. "Seems like an interesting subject."
"There was once one called The Stallion!" Trish almost leapt as she said this but quickly hesitated. "And though he'd said The Speech, I'm not supposed to talk about that, it's against the law."
"Please, don't get yourself in trouble over me." You insisted softly, though inwardly now felt curious about this 'Speech' she mentioned. You'd keep it pocketed for the time being.
"Yes, yes, thank you sir." She gave you a wan smile, almost bittersweet, her tail wagging slowly. "Oh, we're here sir!"
At her proclamation, you turned your gaze towards the three-floor tall building with a blue rooftop. Trish lead the way inside, straight through the main entrance, bypassing an empty receptionist desk and taking you somewhere near the back, you noticed Trish was sniffing as she walked, appearing to be following something. The destination looked like a breakroom.
Within it was a young woman reading a book, Trish approached her happily. "Bea, Rick, Rick, Bea! I have to go make a report or the Boss will chew me out later!"
Feeling slightly whiplashed, you glanced at 'Bea', and then at the orange tail of the 'kitsune' as she vanished through the door.
"Hello?" The woman asked curiously, raising her gaze from her book, hazel eyes framed by dark locks of long hair. "May I help you, sir?"
"I... think that was a bit abrupt." You muttered. "Hello, my name is Rick. I'm what you'd call an outlander?" You introduce yourself. "I was looking for some legal help since I'm literally new to this world and... all that."
"Oh, ugh." She rolled her eyes. "Trish always dumps me with every little legal inquiry as if I'm some common-..." Pausing, she did a double-take. "Wait, did you say outlander?"
"Yes, and I-."
"Outlander... how?" Bea suddenly wasn't even paying attention to the book she'd been reading. "Does your world have magic? What about technology? Do you have powers? Did you get pulled through a portal? Hit by a truck?"
Her sudden closeness combined with the intensity of those blue eyes made you feel overwhelmed. "No, look, I just wanted..."
"Legal advise, yes, whatever, I'll listen." She impatiently tapped a foot against the floor.
"When I got here I befriended a... feral but-."
"But she was taken away from you because you didn't have a license, right?" She replied, then waved you off. "She's government property now, they might give her back if you become an official citizen though it'd depend too much on whether you have the proper permits. Personally, I'd recommend that if you have the funds they'd be better spent on something else, cat monstergirls are too much about the bedroom and too little about brains."
"So tell me more about your world." She disregarded your words again, interrupting. "How are the ruling powers structured? Is there a separation of powers? Checks and balances? Or is it all in the hands of just a handful of people?" Her enthusiasm was increasing the more she asked.
"Wait, wait, wait." You quietened her, raising your hands in an appeasing gesture. "Let's make it one question for another, that sound good?"
She opened her mouth and closed it with a snap, slightly annoyed. "Fine, under the caveat that if a question can't be answered then a new one can be asked without cost. It's also my turn." She said. "Could you list the different types of government your world possessed that have been functional for a period longer than fifty years?" Your mouth became dry just considering the question, and the look seemed to be one she was familiar with, she threw a different question. "Was the world divided into countries rather than kingdoms and/or empires?" Her tone was certainly... unamused now.
"Yes." You nodded, not really sure how to handle the situation, you'd never studied politics and this woman was asking some things might be hard-pressed to find out without at least confirming it. And there was no Google here. You were a chemistry teacher for crying out loud!
"Your turn, ask." She spoke with a droll tone.
"What are the various professions? I keep hearing 'tamer' as some sort of student position." You asked.
"Tamer is a profession in of itself." She replied. "But I'm guessing you mean what 'jobs' are available that involve handling monstergirls since those are the ones that need a tamer license. Using broad strokes, the division is mostly: Tamer, Breeder, Watcher, Researcher, Craftsman, Master Tamer, and Hunter. There are also specialized jobs that put you into contact with monstergirls such as police officer, but those can fall within the other categories if you broaden the definitions enough." With a pause, she sighed. "My turn now I guess. Is there such a thing as a 'Republic' existing in your world?"
"Yes." You nodded. "The oldest modern republic is the United States and it's about two hundred fifty years old. But if you consider republic-like traditions, then Greece had its roots a couple of thousand years ago." Oh, yeah, that one you knew well, made you chuckle.
"Huh." She actually seemed marginally impressed with your answer.
"What does a Hunter actually DO?" You ask.
"Hunters are dogs of the government." Bea shrugged her shoulders, clear distaste in her words. "A particularly dangerous feral shows up? The hunters are sent to kill or capture her. Some troublesome criminal group? Hunters go track down the terrorists. Some rebellious person is starting to rock the ship? Hunters."
"So... what, mercenaries?"
"More or less. They are a special sort of tamer so to speak. They work directly for the government so they're considered agents of the country and carry the advantages such a position gives. More often than not there are bounties they can hunt down at their leisure, but they're also on speed-dial and if they're called they must answer or get court marshalled and summarily executed." She waved her hand vaguely. "Think about it like being part of a loosely held military unit that uses live-fire to train its recruits."
"I... see..." You don't really know how to properly react to this news other than not quite like it.
"My turn, has Communism happened in your world?"
"Yes, sort of, lots of countries have declared themselves communist, but it's one of those things that seem full of holes." You reply.
"Interesting." She smiles with a nod for herself.
"I was told that to keep in the government's good graces I need to make a blood and sperm donation whenever I reach a medical centre. Would you happen to know why they'd be interested in such a thing?"
As you said this, her eyes widened like plates and she froze, an abrupt look of shock, and even fear, crossed her expression. "Next question." She spoke hurriedly.
"..." You almost gaped at her.
"Please, next question."
The first question to come to mind was the one you said. "Just what is a monstergirl?"
"Yes, yes, monstergirls, yes." She nodded hastily obviously relieved by the change of subject. "It's... this is a big question. monstergirls are a bioengineered weapon that was unleashed on the world by a man named Sukebe some odd three hundred years ago."
A long pause. "What?"
"Sukebe was a scientist that discovered a way to jump between worlds." She said. "Some of the technology he stole, he used it to make monstergirls to fight humanity, he lost eventually, but by then things were a mess." She explained.
"..." You looked at her for a very long moment.
"I answered your question..."
"What of the taming?" You asked. "What about the feral state? Why the fuck would some madman with the power to create genetic soldiers do... well-."
"Us?" She pointed at herself, raising an eyebrow. "Your guess would be as good as mine. Well, not quite, but anyway. The only known things about the madman nowadays was that he hated humanity, made the Titans, and made monstergirls. That's about it. Everything else is guesswork, conspiracy theories, and maybe some grain of truth hidden behind some government censorship or top-secret walls."
"Want the rest of the explanation?"
"...I feel like I'll regret it, but sure." You mumbled.
"Well, like I said, monstergirls are bioweapons with a ticking clock that will make us go insane if we aren't bonded." She said. "The clock can be tricked somewhat if a monstergirl bonds another, but it's like walking a tightrope, everyone is better off with a human in the equation."
"The dumbed-down explanation is that it's like a magnet, opposite poles attract." She replied. "It's what lets the bond exist in a more stable form."
"What is the bond?"
"I'll finish the explanation, then you can ask." She scowled at you. "Anyway, it's something many think it was a bit of an engineering oversight on Sukebe's part,others think it's too precise to have been an accident. Anyway. If a monstergirl feels close to a human, like, emotionally close, and the human reciprocates at least at some level, the bond forms."
You frowned. "So the sex..."
"Not necessary but preferable." She shrugged. "It's not the only way, but physical attraction combined with orgasms tends to help wonders when developing a sense of closeness with someone doesn't it?" A chuckle. "The bond itself is a low-level psychic connection that our brains are wired to interpret as a combo of emotions, mostly attraction and a desire to protect our partner."
You quirked a brow, burning with the need to ask more things.
"Once the bond is formed, it's hard to break so long as the two stay close and the monstergirl doesn't lose her feelings for her partner. Though when it's monstergirl on monstergirl, the thing is unstable, it can snap easily even if the emotions are still there." A deep breath followed. "In the end, the bond is a monstergirl's life. It will take root deep in our thoughts and the stronger it becomes the clearer its influence." A warm smile followed, then a chuckle. "If the bond breaks, the monstergirl will usually have between a week and a month to reform it, if she doesn't, then she'll go feral."
"I... can't really think of much of one except that I keep thinking about that man you mentioned, Sukebe. The war... how did he lose?"
"Bonds, I'd wager." A firm shake of her head. "Monstergirls got turned to humanity's side, and he was killed, his armies fell. Unfortunately... he had a backup plan." She let out an unamused snort. "Humanity was hit by a plague not shortly after Sukebe's defeat. Some suspect it came from someone fiddling around one of Sukebe's lab and unleashing the thing accidentally, but most agree it was likely a contingency plan." She let out a deep sigh. "It killed nine out of every ten humans, the world was practically plunged back into a dark age, many many things were lost to the destruction. It's one of the reasons why so little is known for certain, documents, files, and plenty of other tracers and evidence were lost one way or the other." She shrugged her shoulders dejectedly. "It's been three hundred years since. I'd say humans have done a good job at rebuilding at least."
Numbly you stare at her as she explains this, feeling like your brain sort of fritzed out. Nine out of every ten... the thought is appalling. You just... slump on the chair and blink, just blink, you feel yourself blinking as the sheer scale of the realisation of what that meant swept through you.
You realize Bea had asked you something at some point and that you answered it, but for the life of you you can't remember what it was, your brain was just... nine out of ten, one survivor out of every ten, the world crumbling around them, a war and then...
"Sorry." You muttered. "My... head was elsewhere, what did you just say?
Bea opened her mouth and was going to say something before her wrist beeped, an alarm. "I've got time for one more question." She declared.
Question, question, right, question... you mentally scramble to look for something and grasp at the first thing that comes to mind. "What are the requirements to become, and duties/responsibilities of, a Tamer?" You feel there may be other questions you could ask, that you could've asked, but frankly all of this is so... overwhelming.
Bea laughs at the inquiry. "You only need to be human, that's basically it, there's a test for it but it might as well be checking whether you're a vegetable or not. As far as duties go, you just need to move about the place, hunt some ferals, and maybe prove you're putting effort into making your girls stronger by going through some trials and gaining rank."
A heavy sigh, you've heard this before. "Let me guess, it pays peanuts."
"You get a basic stipend, but you can sell ferals, and if you challenge or are challenged by other tamers you can bet money or monstergirls." She shrugged. "There's also the whole sport of it because of course there would be, competitions and championships if you win there's plenty of money and fame to be earned there. Anyways, my-."
Her words cut off as the alarm beeps again, and this time she cursed before giving you a hasty look. "I have to go, how can I contact you?"
"I'm currently living in the hospital, afterwards? Not a clue." You replied.
"Dammit." Bea muttered under her breath. "Well, whatever, I'll find a way. I've got to go." She stood up, hurrying out, leaving you alone.
You glance at the clock, it was 18:07, you wondered what would be so important for her to have to rush like this. Dimly, you remembered the note from the waitress with the 20:50 time on it, and then took a second to consider if it'd be worth seeing her to begin with. The idea was put away in favour of something else, mostly that you should probably meet with the others at some point and compare notes with one another about this... this world.
If they didn't know what you'd just learnt... it'd surely be a bomb for them.
Mutely leaving the station and barely acknowledging the couple words of goodbye thrown your way, you stumble onto the streets and despite knowing tomorrow you had the tests, that there were people you wanted to talk to back at the hospital, that you had so many things you should probably be doing...
Despite it all, you feel lost.