Welcome to the Citadel
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When Joseph Fault, a police detective on holiday, woke up that one Thursday morning, he expected his niece's birthday to be the most exciting thing that day. That was why he was completely unprepared when a white light so bright that he was unable to see anything else, surrounded him from all directions while he was standing next to a banquet, about to take a slice of cake that his sister had made. For a brief moment he could hear the terrified screams of his relatives as he was turned into the human equivalent of a light bulb, but they soon faded out. Likewise, the smell of wet grass and cake disappeared and turned into a mixture of rust, smoke and the rustic smell of an old house. Then the light disappeared and Joseph found himself standing on cobblestones instead of grass.

Looking around, he found himself to be on a large clearing, surrounded by bustling city streets and tightly packed apartment buildings, that looked like they had seen better days. Only a few of them were made out of cement, like apartment buildings usually are. Most were either wood, tiles or metal and they all had multiple chimneys, out which a thick, black smoke was billowing. Behind the rooftops, he was sure he saw a train go by, though he didn't understand why it would be so high off the ground.

Around him were people. Well, maybe not people. At least Joseph didn't think they were, for he had never seen such creatures before. Some of them were humanoid, but still clearly not human, while others looked more like beasts and some even weirder. Whatever they were, they all looked just as confused and scared as he was.

"Am I dead?" asked a clearly wounded man who was wearing a military uniform. He looked human at first but then he removed his helmet, revealing that instead of hair, his scalp was covered in numerous, bulging fish-like eyes.

"This is an outrage!" screamed a tall creature, whose lower body split into three thick tentacles and who had six, thin but long arms positioned around its torso and three beak-like mouths that were pointing in different directions. Each beak had a single eye, which was positioned in the end of a flexible stalk. Its voice was high-pitched and ear piercing. "You have kidnapped Prinxer Sjoidsiufuie of the Glorious Royal Hive of Toijfdjichk! My brood will lay waste to you all when they learn that I have gone missing!"

"Where's my mommy?" cried a small girl with an oddly vibrating voice and coral for hair.

"Could everyone be silent for just a moment?" asked a man dressed in white robes, whose voice projected loud and clear as if he was talking through a megaphone, but he had nothing on him that resembled one. He was surrounded by ten creatures who were likely guards or police based on their uniforms. Everyone seemed to listen to him, even the tall creature, who let out a small peep before falling silent.

"Thank you. My name is Jericho, I'm your welcoming agent. Welcome to the Citadel!" he said, throwing his hands in the air as if expecting a 'hurray'. When no one reacted, he let out an awkward 'ahem' and shuffled to a large, stout building that was right next to the clearing.

"Please, form into a line in front of this door in a neatly fashion. Everything will be explained shortly. We understand you might be confused, even angry, but if you get violent, you will regret it," he said and went inside the building. The guards kept standing in their posts menacingly, and everyone complied.

One by one, the man who called himself Jericho took the people on the clearing inside and shortly after they were escorted out and into the city by someone else. Eventually, it was Joseph's turn. He was led through a white corridor into a room with a table and two chairs on either side. Jericho got up from the other to shake his hand and then motioned for him to sit in one of the chairs. Joseph complied and Jericho sat on the other side.

From up close, Joseph noticed that Jericho wasn't human either. He had pasty yellow skin, pointy years, behind of which he had tucked his long, flowing blonde hair and his eyes, which lacked pupils, were fully crimson.

"What are you, who are you and where am I?" Joseph shouted and leaned against the table. Jericho put up a hand.

"Sit down and wait a second," he said and began to mutter something under his breath while gesturing in the air with his hand. His finger left behind a golden trail of light, forming a strange symbol, which floated for a brief moment before dissipating.

"I have just cast a truth spell. Now everyone in this room, including me, can speak nothing but the truth."

"That's bullshit! There is no such thing as magic," Joseph said, his face contorted in anger. If it wasn't for the guard standing outside the door, he would have probably attacked the odd man by now. Jericho simply chuckled.

"Have you ever broken the law?" he asked.

"Yes."

"How?"

"I used to pickpocket as a teen," Joseph said, confused. He had been unable to say anything else.

"See? Now, its my time to answer some of your questions."

Joseph calmed down a little. "What is this place? Why am I here?"

"This is the Citadel. You were pulled here from your own dimension by the city itself," Jericho explained.

"Why?"

"No one knows. The Citadel periodically brings seemingly random people here from all over the multiverse."

"Well, how do I get back?"

"You can't."

Those two words hit Joseph like a brick. He slumped back in his chair, silent. One would think that in that situation a person would think about how they will likely never see their family again, or how people back home would likely think that they're dead, and those thoughts did come to Joseph, but only later. In that moment, in that chair, the only thing he could think about was how he had never gotten to taste the cake that his sister had made. That's when he realized that he was still holding a ceramic plate.

"I was in that chair once. Everyone here has, except those who were born here. Everyone here has been stolen from their world. No one knows who made this place, or why it does what it does. And despite the countless efforts, no one here knows how to get back," Jericho continued.

"I'm sorry, I truly am. But in time you will adjust. I'm part of the Adjustment Agency, our job is to make that process faster. If you don't mind, if you could answer a few of my questions, I'll assign you a job and a place to live."

Joseph just nodded.

"Name?"

"Joseph Fault."

"Previous occupation?"

"Police detective."

That seemed to make Jericho happy. He scribbled something into a notebook.

"Any illnesses, deformities or other health concerns?"

"I'm allergic to fish."

"Alright, I'm not putting you in Sector 34 then. Lots of amphibians there."

Jericho flipped through his notebook for a few minutes, before nodding firmly.

"Give me your hand, palm up," he said. Joseph complied and Jericho put his hand on Joseph's wrist.

"This is gonna hurt," he said, before muttering something. Jericho's hand began to glow orange, turning searing hot. Joseph screamed as steam rose from between Jericho's fingers. When he pulled away, his wrist had been adorned with a tattoo, facing towards Joseph. In the upper left corner of the tattoo was a stylized number 5, and in the upper right corner of that was a smaller 6, like an exponent. Underneath those was the image of a magnifying glass, its handle right below the 5 and the circular glass right next to the 6. Below all of them was 'MMM'.

"You will live in Sector 56. Not one of the fancy sectors but you could do much worse. You'll work as a police detective in the precinct there. A house has been picked out for you. Like everyone, you will start out with 3000 points, which is our form of currency. How you use them is up to you. You can go now. An agent is waiting for you outside, they will escort you to your new home," Jericho said. Joseph nodded, got up and stepped outside into the morning air of the Citadel. A large creature, three meters in size was waiting for him outside. It had a short trunk like that of a tapir, and long tusks like an elephant. It's skin was green and covered in rocky warts.

"Hi there! Let's get you settled shall we?" it said, and started to lead him away from the clearing, deeper into the city that he would eventually learn to call home. "I'll show you around the city while we're at it."

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