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May, 2010... Fantasy became reality. Worlds overlay for the briefest moment. Outworlders became stranded on earth as more than half the human populace vanished. Our World, our universe, was transformed.

Fiction is now reality. Humans and those now bound to this world will either learn to coexist, or battle for supremecy.

JUNE 13, 2019 - Family emergency  took a bad turn so had to stay away but now things are finally calming down. Hope to get going again shortly. Thanks for understanding. ~ZEPH

Maya Rowen

Muddling Morning Meeting

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The mornings were evil.  That was a known fact. Mornings before coffee however were their own private little section of hell. Unfortunately for Maya she sucked at making coffee, or coffee worth drinking at any rate, so when the morning clamor of the city rudely pulled her from her sleep earlier that morning it was a thoroughly more miserable experience than usual. Of course the bruises on her ribs probably didn’t help either now that she thought about it. She’d been jumping down onto a balcony the night before and had slipped on a freaking puddle. She’d been lucky she managed to grab the railing. Not so lucky she managed to avoid smashing into it as her feet had slipped out from under her unfortunately.

 

Her sour expression as she remembered the incident faded as she grabbed the Styrofoam cup in front of her and took a long appreciative sip.  She set the cup back on the table next to her folded cane and a second identical cup. Her eyes darted behind the blackened lenses of her sunglasses as she looked around at the crowd. The shop hadn’t been particularly busy when she’d first showed up but the early and pre-rushhour traffic was out now and the cafe was all but full up. The the opposite seat of her booth remained conspicuously empty. She knew she’d gotten more than a few stares, god knew people seemed to stare a lot more when they weren’t worried about getting caught, but so far no one had gathered up the courage to try to take the seat opposite her.  

 

The stares didn’t bother her now. Not like they used too. Still it was hard not to react to them.  She probably would have done the same in their place. Her coat sat bundled beneath her where she’d put it to escape the unreasonable warmth that’d accompanied the sea of bodies into the coffee shop, and she was regretting choosing the winter leggings and long sleeve shirt she’d wore beneath it. Not just because of the heat either.  People were often put off by her glasses, or her cane, but she’d found very few people could look her empty left sleeve and manage more than a couple of sentences before suddenly realizing they had somewhere else to be. It had made her uncomfortable at first. Honestly it still did more often than she would admit.

 

This morning however she welcomed the solitude enough that she didn’t really mind.  After all she’d paid an arm for it, she might as well enjoy it she thought to herself with a grim smile. She reached for her cup once more and struggled not to stiffen as someone walked from the counter straight towards her booth as if pulled their by her thoughts. She kept her face blank and slowly sipped her coffee as she watched the woman approach her. That was more difficult than usual though. The woman burned with a brilliant golden aura similar to her own. Compared to the dull aura’s of the other sleep hazed patrons made her blaze like a sun. Somehow Maya didn’t think it was just because she was a morning person. The woman was a mage. Or something else. Maya continued to sip her coffee and pretended to be oblivious to the woman that was walking straight at her, ignoring a tightness in her chest that had nothing to do with her bruised ribs….


 

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There were other places anyone would prefer to be on this cold morning. Crowded into a coffee shop hoping to find a seat just to avoid having to step foot back out the door was not one of them. Even for coffee.

 

Caffeine might be a necessity in Cassandra’s day-to-day existence -- both as a Greene and an ARMA member -- though even this place wasn’t worth dragging herself out into these freezing temps at such an abysmal hour. In comparison to the coffee at home this place was swill. Plus it meant still being at home either still abed or sitting on the study floor reading a book with her head resting against Alec’s legs while he read in his favorite chair. Enjoying the warmth of the fire and the occasional play of his fingers in her hair instead of being jostled around by cranky coffee-junkies - pot, kettle right?

 

Unfortunately, work occasionally called at such atrocious hours and Alec was still out of town on ARMA assignment. That meant standing in a too long line at a register near the door and suffering the sensation of a chill breeze each time the door opened. Gloved hands were shoved into her pocket while the lower half of her face burrowed more deeply into the excessively thick scarf around her neck. Getting coffee at work was possible, but lately it was hard to use the machine built by her brother given that he still hadn’t been found nor had they found any clues. Hope was all there was to be had at this point and it was dwindling. If it wasn’t for Alec and ARMA she’d probably have fallen apart by now.

 

Finally it was her turn, the young man behind the counter eyeballed the ARMA badge resting near her diaphragm. She suppressed the urge to roll her eyes at the uneasiness written all over his face. Probably either a veil crosser or altered individual that had it in their head ARMA was out to make their life miserable just for being different. ARMA was doing more work these days to change public perception, but they had a lot of progress to make yet as far as winning hearts and minds. Once given it only took moments for them to get her order: hot, black coffee in the biggest size they had available.

 

Then began the search for a seat which surprisingly didn’t take long either.

 

A person would have to be completely oblivious not to notice the woman with one arm that everyone was avoiding. Cassandra on the other hand? Didn’t care even a little at the moment as long as a seat was available. Without hesitation, she made her approach.

 

Excuse me, do you mind if I sit with you?"

 

It crossed Cassandra’s mind that the last time someone sat with her at a coffee shop it’d ended up being a magus serial killer. What she could tell of the young woman without being intrusive was that she had a folded cane near her table and wore sunglasses indoors. She made a mental note to use caution if a conversation was started.

 

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She didn’t react for a moment, staring blankly ahead before tilting her head curiously in the womans direction. “If you mean me, then go ahead. Seems like you’re the only one willing to.” Maya said with a touch of amusement. She studied the woman, eyes darting behind her sunglasses until they fell on the badge that rested on a chain around her neck. She wasn’t sure what was more surprising. The fact someone had finally gotten up the nerve to approach her, or the fact that it was an ARMA agent who did. She managed to keep the shock off her face thankfully.  She’d had a lot of practice.Internally she fought the urge to panic. The paranoid part of her brain told her this was a sting. That the life she’d managed to carve out for herself since she’d gotten out of jail was about to end.

 

She clamped  down on that and forced the logical part of her brain to stay in control. If they were coming after her this wasn’t the way they’d do it. It was too crowded. Too many people to get caught in the crossfire for them to try something here. No, if they were on to her they would have tailed her until they found her apartment and then hit it after she’d gone to bed. At least that was how she’d have done it. Less fallout that way. Fewer witnesses too. She told herself that again and again as the woman sat down across from her and by fifth or sixth time she started to believe it enough to relax.  Her fingers traced the lip of the cup in front of her as she looked turned her attention towards the woman's general direction.

 

Her lips quirked in genuine amusement as the absurdity of the situation ran through her mind. It sounded like a bad joke. ‘An ARMA agent and a one armed thief walk into a coffee shop.’ The humor vanished as she lifted the cup to her lips, taking a deep sip as she considered the woman in front of her. She was still relatively sure this was chance,  or some perverse joke of fate if you believed in it. That didn’t mean she couldn’t be a little more sure. She set the cup down with an appreciative sigh, breathing in deeply in the hopes of catching a taste of the womans aura.

The taste of black coffee flashed across her taste buds as she did, lingering for a few seconds.

 

 

Huh. That was different. She personally drank her coffee with copious amounts of cream and sugar, and whipped cream if she was having a bad day. She only drank it black when she didn’t have anything else and she needed something to keep her going. Or something to keep her from killing other people in the morning.  Irritated? Fatigued? She wasn’t sure. Still the woman didn’t seem particularly alarmed in any case. She relaxed, but only slightly. “So what brings you out into the cold this morning?” She asked casually, as she lifted her cup to take another sip.

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There wasn’t any mistaking the amusement in the woman’s response. She was clearly not oblivious either to the way people were acting. Something told Cassandra that this treatment was not a new experience. Nothing had changed all that much from the pre-Resonance world. Society still largely treated those who were different as if they were lepers. Generally, that judgment fell on the disabled though these days it also included the outworlders or metahumans that didn’t pass as human. Or choose to act as a human — as the passing humans did if they wanted to be accepted — as if they should be ostracized for accepting what they’d become.

 

Society never failed to disappoint. These days bigotry and prejudice and hatred were finding a way to rise up again; the passing of Outworlder Registration, and the power still held in some places by the Vanguard, evidence enough of the way they were using the changed world to push the agenda they’d once had to hide before the event that altered everything. Now, they had a way to spread their insidious plan and had spread it slowly like a virus until their hold grew more firm in certain areas of the world. Even here in New York where there was a larger anti-Outworlder Registration opposition the whispers could still be heard. The situation was a continuously building powder keg on top of everything else ARMA was facing these days.

 

The woman’s question drew Cassandra from her thoughts back to the mug that was heating up her gloved hands. Taking a minute to pull them off and shove them in her pockets as she considered how to answer. She wondered if the woman could see? The cane and sunglasses suggested that the woman was blind, but she wasn’t one to make assumptions.

 

Work.” Wrapping both hands back around the mug, she took a sip of the coffee and then lowered it again before speaking, “I’m an agent for ARMA.

 

Cassandra figured that if the woman was blind then she might not have seen the badge. Not that she was any risk to the woman, but some people acted differently when they found out and if the woman couldn’t see for herself. . . well, she had a right to know. Hiding it from her would be rude.

 

You?

 

Being out in this miserable weather at this hour without a good reason was something she couldn’t fathom especially when the better option was to remain warm. She gripped the mug of coffee tighter and took a longer pull, and enjoyed the feeling of relief as warmth spread through her chilled body.

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Surprise flickered across her features, mostly genuine as the woman confessed that it was work that brought her out, but more importantly what that work was. She probably shouldn’t have been so shocked with how open the woman was about it. After all she was wearing her badge on display for anyone and everyone to see.

 


Dangerous job.” She said softly as she rested her head in her hand, her elbow propped on the table. That was true...in more way than one. ARMA had a big job. Keeping the peace from all the kinds of crazy that had spilled out into the world after the last dozen years wasn’t an easy thing. What it was was mostly thankless. While a lot of people, herself included, agreed that ARMA or someone like them was necessary it wasn’t exactly a warm acknowledgement. Part of that was their predecessor the Order of Lights fault. The Order had been the first ones to take a crack at keeping the peace, and they’d mostly managed it. The way they’d done that hadn’t been what you’d really call morally sound though.

 

Gifted like her, or anyone showing aptitude to be a magus were often conscripted or jailed. They were basically the supernatural gestapo. Their real motives had been about as pure too. When ARMA exposed them and the Order went down hard they ended up shouldering a lot of the resentment that’d built up. Maya wasn’t sure they deserved that, but honestly it was too soon to tell.

 

The Order had left some pretty big shoes to fill, and ARMA hadn’t been wearing them long enough for anyone to really guess at how comfortable they were when it came to stepping on toes.Most people were more wary than downright afraid like they’d been of the Order when they came calling. It wouldn’t take a whole lot to change that. For the fear to come back. Honestly she’d expected the agent had wanted to sit with her to avoid any of the ire she might draw from the other patrons, but that didn’t seem to be something she was worried about.

 


Dangerous times.” She said nodding to her empty right sleeve before shrugging.

 


Me? I’m just here for the coffee. I don’t sleep much so I like to beat the crowds when I can. If you haven’t noticed I tend to make people slightly uncomfortable, and people tend to make me not so slightly irritated. Especially before i’ve had coffee. If I get it early I can at least pretend I don’t want to throttle everyone who stumbles all over a simple conversation with me.” She told the woman, amusement coloring her tone once more as she spoke.

 

That was all true enough. It still boggled her mind how few people could make it through a simple conversation with her. It was like they thought missing an arm or her eyes meant she was brain damaged. Or glass. Like ’d break at the slightest misspoken word. She’d seen people who talk to honest to god fairy tail creatures like it was nothing struggle to make intelligible conversation with her. It drove her nuts sometimes. She was actually finding the ARMA agents company quite pleasant by comparison, even despite the knot of tension in her gut she couldn’t manage to rid herself of.

 

I’m Maya by the way.

 

She said as she offered the woman her hand.

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