She gestured to the far-right door. "There is your outcrossing portal. When it opens, don't be surprised at what you see. Your host human will either be there or will arrive within a moment or two. When he does, toss this cube to him. He'll catch it, they always do. Don't be startled, just wait until he fades before exiting the terminal."
"Why would I be startled?"
She shrugged. "Sometimes they get a little noisy before they are fully absorbed. I don't know why. It's a painless procedure."
Ren swallowed. "Anything else I should know?"
"No, that's it. You have your information booklet. Refer to it if you have questions. And remember, you need to come back to the same place at the end of your seven days. If you need to change the exit location, you have to call us. We can't pick you up early unless there is a breach of protocol or a medical emergency." She wagged a finger at him playfully. "But don't make us come looking for you."
Somehow, even with her smile and light tone, the words carried a note of ominous warning.
Ren nodded and walked over to the door. It slid open, and he felt a cool rush of damp air wash over him. Inside was a series of tall, porcelain receptacles attached to the wall. A man was standing at one of them, his pants slack across his behind. Across from him was a row of what appeared to be empty water basins, each with a container of pink liquid attached to the wall next to it. He glanced at Talia uncertainly.
"Are you sure this is..." Movement from inside the room caught his attention. The male human turned away from one of the porcelain receptacles, pulling a small green book from his pocket. He looked up, and his eyes widened when he saw Ren and the open oval behind him.
Ren started as he realized this was his host human, Devlin, according to the dossier. The man bore the same dark hair and olive skin Ren had just seen in the mirror. The elf strode forward, tossing the box Talia had given him at the man.
The cube struck Devlin in the chest, and he froze, his mouth stretched in a horrified O. The green book dropped to the floor as Devlin's outline shimmered, the edges growing jagged as they faded into smoke. He screamed — a long tortured wail that sent shivers through Ren's soul. Painless? It did not seem so.
And then the human was gone. Talia hurried over and scooped up the box and the book. She tossed the latter to Ren.
"You might find this helpful. Enjoy your trip." She slipped back through the door, and it closed silently behind her.
"Devlin?" The voice came from outside the dim, dank room, which he now realized was a toilet facility. "Devlin!" This time the voice was more insistent.
Ren crossed to the sink and washed his hands. Time to start his vacation.
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