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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.

Mar 30, 2019 - Some know I have had a fairly significant family emergency. I apologize for being away the last month. Hope to get going again in next couple weeks. Any of my characters can be skipped still in threads. Thanks for understanding. ~ZEPH

Maya Rowen

Cold night in hell...

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Febuary 13th, 2022

01:30

Waterfront Warehouse

 

A lot had changed since the first resonance. Sometimes Maya barely recognized the world she lived in anymore. So it was comforting when something familiar survived a brush with their near apocalypse. Or it normally was anyway.  It seemed even the near end of the world didn’t really change how those on the other side of the law operated. That was why Maya was freezing her ass off instead of relaxing at home. Snow fell so thick that the dockyard was even darker than normal, the few lampposts illuminating the area lost under the sheer weight of it, the moon and the stars blocked by the clouds above. Most would have trouble finding much of anything in this, but it wasn’t much of a problem for Maya. The warehouse in front of her was a beacon of neon colors that painted the place like the site of a rave to her sight.  

 

That was far from comforting. When Graft had dragged her out of bed a few hours prior with a phone call and a job he’d been brief. According to him the people who had what she was after were everyday street trash being handled by a couple of thugs who’d managed to get a little bit of power after one of the changes. It seemed like that information was out of date. Dammit this was supposed to be any easy score she thought with a frown. It made sense now why the money was so good. Apparently whoever her client was had had an inkling this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. She’d have to tell Graft to burn him after this job. In the meantime though…

 

She studied the buildings wards in silence, pulling her coat tighter around her as she began to shiver.  She was dressed for both the weather and the job in dark military surplus, but even her thick coat wasn’t a match for an hour in a New York blizzard. Her hood and and balaclava protected her face from the worst of it, but snow and wind stung at her golden eyes. Despite her best efforts snow kept working its way between her cargo pants and her boots. The storm would help hide her approach to the building better than anything she could have managed herself but damn if it wasn’t a miserable experience. As bad as the storm was the wards on the building seemed worse.

 

Nobody really used old school security systems anymore. Well not on an individual basis anyway. It was too expensive, too unreliable since the resonance. Most of the plants that made them  had been lost overseas, and with magic even the best of them weren’t exactly what one would call reliable. Technology and the arcane just didn’t mix. Wards had popped up as a decently reliable alternative. If you had the skill and the patience you could theoretically ward a building against pretty much anything. In Maya’s experience though that tended to be more of an academic point.  The average gifted didn’t have the skill to lay down ward after ward on top of each other without eventually running into...issues. Occasionally the fatal kind. Good warding was expensive, but it was usually worth it. It could keep out your average thug, or any gifted careless enough to set them off. This wasn’t good warding. It was great warding.

 

 

Either her client had completely lied to Graft about the kind of people she was dealing with, or they’d gotten taken over by someone new. Both options were bad news for her. Part of her was tempted to split. To just go back home and crawl into bed under a pile of blankets. Or a warm shower. As tempted as she was though it would have been bad for business. Graft would handle her client after he’d finished payment, but until then they had an agreement. If she didn’t keep up her end it made her look unreliable. Even if she’d been OK with that Graft certainly wouldn’t have been. Their partnership was a fragile thing. She wouldn’t have been able to manage what she did without his security, his connections...but if things went south between them she had no doubt she’d rather deal with every petty thug and crime boss she’d angered than Graft himself.  Plus the money for this job really was good. It almost made her curious what she was stealing. Almost.

 

She didn’t bother trying to hide as she trudged towards the warehouse. If something could find her in this than anything she could do wasn’t going to change that. She stopped a few feet away from the building near a side door and took a resigned breath. She’d been all around the place but there weren’t any breaks in the wards she could exploit and they were well done enough she didn’t dare try to tamper with any of them. That meant making her own entrance was out. She’d have to use one of the actual doors. That was going to be risky. If they were good enough to have guards at all the entrances this was going to be a short job. She pulled off her gloves and pulled her lock kit from a pocket on her coat. Cold bit at her fingers and she clenched her teeth as she bent down in front of the door. She’d have to do this fast before her fingers got too numb to manage it. Or frostbite set in.

 

She pulled out a rake pick and slid it into the keyhole, gently strumming it against the pins inside. It seemed whoever was in charge had put more confidence in the wards than decent locks and a few seconds later the latch gave way. Too bad they hadn’t worried about someone getting through the lock the old fashioned way. She peeked inside as she slowly swung the door open, her heart pounding. Thankfully it seemed deserted.  It wasn’t really surprising. Even criminal types weren’t likely to be going out with the weather as bad as it was. Hopefully it stayed that way. There were far fewer wards inside as well. With all the traffic that probably came through here they probably wouldn’t have been much use...that was good. Mostly. The wards were a pain in the ass to get around but they also made it a hell of a lot easier for her to see.

 

She kept low as she worked her way further into the building. Aside from the sheer number of wards on the place it almost looked like a normal warehouse. These guys weren’t sloppy. Her eyes darted constantly as she carefully moved through what looked like a loading dock. The biggest problem she had breaking into places like this was open spaces. They were a dangerous thing when you couldn’t tell if you were standing in pitch black or lit up like a Christmas tree. Usually she could hear the soft hum of the bulbs but it wasn’t something she really liked to chance. Her best option was to keep her head on a swivel and spot anyone who might spot her first. It did mean she noticed though when that humming stopped. When every man made sound in the place stopped in fact.

 

The roar of the storm outside was deafening in that sudden silence. Power outage?  That much wind and snow definitely could have managed it… that was a mixed blessing though. She might not have had to worry about the lights, but whoever was left in the place was going to be paying close attention now that was for damn sure. Paranoia had a way of doing that. Of course, paranoia might not have been a fair description. It wasn’t paranoia if it was justified. Her golden eyes were all that could be seen of her as she crept into the darkness.

 

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Missions for ARMA’s Cloak Division were rarely clean cut.  Never black and white, always shades of gray with the greater good in mind.  This was something a Cloak operative had to come to terms with before joining the Division’s ranks.  The faction itself was pure in purpose, with clearly defined goals and objectives.  The Cloak Division kept the faction righteous by fighting the subversive and reprehensible battles that needed to be fought.  Not all, but some Cloak agents had essentially become the “sin eaters” of ARMA.

 

It’s not uncommon for an ARMA Cloak operative to ask then, what makes ARMA any better than the Order of the First Light?  The answer is simple.  The Order’s goals while pure on the surface, are much darker beneath.  The Order’s leadership was corrupt since the organization’s inception.  Their true mission to accumulate unchallengeable power amidst the greatest peril the world has ever seen.  Power that would hold them above those without it.  ARMA was founded on the Order’s superficial principles, but those principles were its true objectives. 

 

No war in the history of mankind has ever been won without a side sacrificing their ideals at some point.  Despite their recent internal struggles, ARMA still holds a strong presence within the supernatural police community.  However, the reality is they are few in numbers.  Amongst other world powers their faction is one of the smallest and arguably the weakest in outright warfighting potential.  For ARMA to maintain its position of power, and to limit the First Light’s growing influence, sacrifices needed to be made. 

 

Agents like Ryan Harker made that sacrifice.  If ever they were captured while conducting an operation ARMA could not openly support, the agent would be disavowed.  At best a nameless Soldier lost in an unspoken battle, at worst a traitor to the cause.  This culpability meant that Cloak agents operated with a lot of autonomy and little oversight.  It is for these reasons Cloak is viewed with mixed regards by even its own sister Divisions.  Some revere them as the most elite operatives in ARMA’s arsenal; others view them as half-cocked cowboys who believe themselves above the law.  As always, the truth was somewhere in the middle.

 

This mission was part of an ongoing investigation Harker had been conducting on the “unseen threat.”  His objective was to secure an artifact he believed the hidden faction was trying to attain.  The “unseen threat” was not yet public knowledge.  Outworlder registration had sparked enough civil unrest.  If the public was made aware non-magus were murdering magus, stealing their blood, and using it to conduct black magic in pursuit of an unknown goal, it might start a war.  This mission was a black operation, completely off the books.

 

Truces were a delicate thing.  The Order of the Light provided ARMA with secret information when they wanted their assistance, but withheld it otherwise.  ARMA managed their information sharing similarly.  Harker wasn’t convinced the Order of the Light wasn’t connected to this new threat, and neither was ARMA.  For this mission to have been sanctioned and official, the information would have needed to be have been shared and made public.  A search warrant would have been issued and the warehouse would have been stormed by an ARMA tactical team in cooperation with the Order, the NYPD, and possibly the Pharos.  Too many potential leaks, too many problems, too many points of failure.  A black operation like this violated the many treaties between ARMA and the other factions of the world.  Which is why ARMA knew nothing of the operation.      

 

Clouds filled the night sky, blotting out the moon’s luminance.  The blizzard outside was uncharacteristically strong even for this time of year.  The wind howled, a constant wall of snow buffeting anyone unwise enough to be caught outdoors.  A blanket of fresh powder lay over anything left outside for longer than a moment.  The ambient temperature was well below freezing, and with wind chill it felt even colder. 

 

The storm concealed Harker’s movement to the warehouse.  A white poncho covered his black tactical gear, camouflaging him amongst the night’s snowy veil.  When he reached a maintenance door near the southeast corner of the building, he braced himself against the structure and took a knee. 

 

The gale tore through the chinks in the agent’s thermal armor; slithering across chest and arms like icy snakes.  Nose was numb, hands struggled to stay warm as he reached into a cargo pocket for his “master key.”  The key was essentially a charmed bump key, the enchantment allowing it to defeat most mundane locks.  A useful tool for a supernatural spy.  Once the door unlocked, he stripped off his white cloak and discarded it. 

 

A press of button activated the communications jammer Harker had set up on a fire escape across the street.  Radios, cell phones, Bluetooth and wireless internet within a quarter mile radius would be disabled until the jammer’s battery died.  Charges had been placed on the power transformers that provided electricity to the entire block near the warehouse.  The charges had been rigged to detonate on a timer.

 

Ryan gritted his teeth and embraced the bitter cold. Ski mask and thermals felt as though they were doing little to protect him from the elements.  Just a few more seconds.  Gloved hands pulled his tactical goggles down over his eyes.  Like most of his equipment, they too had been spelled.  The operative’s night vision would be perfect, even in the absence of ambient light.

 

Harker threaded the silencer to the barrel of his Sig 229 pistol.  These gangsters had gotten themselves in over their heads.  The loss of life could not be helped.  The mission was too important.  By taking the lives of these few, he would be saving the lives of many.  Ryan reminded himself of these facts as he readied himself for what was to come next.  A fox in the hen house.

 

The agent looked to the watch on his wrist.  He gripped the maintenance door handle with his left hand, his gun with his right.  A whisper under his breath, “Three… two… one…”  The “pop” of the detonating charges wasn’t audible over the screaming storm.  The transformers sparked, the power failed, and the entire street fell into darkness.  Warehouse maintenance door slid open, and Harker crept inside.

 

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    MODERN FANTASY COLLABORATIVE WRITING RP CATERING TO OLDER PLAYERS (25+) WITH A SLOWER, MORE RELAXED PACE. IN 2010, THE WORLD DRASTICALLY & PERMANENTLY CHANGED BY WHAT BECAME KNOWN AS THE MULTIVERSE RESONANCE EVENT. IN A SINGLE BREATH, OUR WORLD CROSSED WITH AN UNKNOWN NUMBER OF ALTERNATE UNIVERSES, BLEEDING INTO EACH OTHER. EARTH WAS SUDDENLY A REALM OF MAGIC AND MONSTERS. THE STORY IS CENTERED IN NEW YORK CITY BUT EXTENDS ACROSS THE WORLD. IT BLENDS A VARIETY OF GENRES; A MOSAIC OF OVERLAPPING REALMS INCLUDING ELVES, LYCANTHROPES, ALTERED HUMANS AND,OF COURSE, MAGIC.  

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