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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.
Eris London

Shall We Play a Game?

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February 22nd, 2022

Before midnight

The Harbor, Maya Rowen's Apartment

 

 

 

Blood was everything.

 

Life. Death. What else was there? Warehouses were such a cornucopia of scents. Disposable for anything and everything that needed to go from point A to point B. Owned and sold, lost and found. They were the perfect place to become something and nothing at all. Decaying blood was even more potent. Scrubbed clean by ARMA, nevertheless it clicked on the top of her palate with a distinct metallic taste. Solvents. Dirt. Oil. Even mana had a smell, for lack of a better term. Death was here. The hunter was here. Others. The dead rogue had the hunter’s scent all over him. Another. Another had been with him.

 

It was the “another” she was following. Someone else had walked out of here. She wanted to know who it was, and why she was allowed to live when everyone else had been killed. It hadn't escaped her that maybe the hunter had saved someone, she was still having a hard time believing the hunter had saved himself, let alone killed one of her kind. She chalked it up to Hesek inexperience and dumb luck.

 

The hunter, she knew. He knew she knew. Being a member of ARMA made him manageable for now. The other, was a wildcard. She didn’t like wildcards, which made this hunt all the more needed.

 

Dropping down into the darkness with the grace of a feline, she walked through the emptiness that had once held bodies and blood. Gloved hands demurely in her coat pockets, she watched the floor where her black Gianvito trench coat buckle boots were walking. Even clean, the scents were everywhere. Bodies, had been everywhere. Following the trail again like a bloodhound, she was retracing steps she’d walked before to make sure the one she’d isolated and tracked was the one she needed.

 

It was.

 

Disappearing into the darkness, the warehouse was left behind.

 

The city was not as bright as it used to be, the end of the world could do that. Some nights seemed to glow like daylight when the clouds were low and the snow was flittering to refract residual city lights. Tonight, it was dark, and that was why she chose it. Freshly fed, she could move almost without being seen, a shadow in the corner of someone’s eye as she made her way to the bullseye of where she’d been tracking for days.

 

The corner of the street sealed the deal, scent potent and recent, deciding whether or not to go in the front door or from above. Considering she hadn’t put on a different face for the evening, above seemed the more prudent choice. Several leaps took her to the window she needed, strength and pre-Resonance skill taking care of entry, displeased to find nobody home.

 

Steps silent, she took in the studio apartment with silent eyes, taking off her coat and folding it over her arm without removing her gloves as she found a chair. Coat over the side of the chair, she sat, one leg crossed over the other, hands folded in her lap, watching the door in absolute stillness.

 

She didn’t have all night.

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Maya felt like she was losing her mind. Turned out that was pretty easy when you didn’t sleep. Oh she’d gotten a couple hours here and there when the exhaustion became too much for her to brush off, but not enough. She only managed a couple hours at best before the dreams started. The nightmares. Before she woke up screaming.It’d had been days since the warehouse. Days since the vampire. Since the boogeyman. Since the monsters. Her dreams had plagued her enough when her own demons were the only ones in them. Now? Ha. Hahaha.

Now she’d have gladly begged for them to be the only horrors in her head.

 

She was used to insomnia. To long nights, but for her it was getting to be too much. She knew she must look like hell not that she much cared. She’d been jumping at every little sound, every tiny bit of motion out of the corner of her eye ever since that night. Her nerves were beyond frayed. She knew not sleeping was making it worse, but she couldn’t help it. She’d almost gone to Chloe after the first couple nights for something to knock her out, but the fear had stopped her. That she would take one and finally spend a few hours blissfully unaware...and that he would find her and she would never wake up again. 

 

She’d finally cracked this morning. She’d been close to dozing on her couch. Would have if she stayed sitting there and she knew it, so she’d decided to stretch her legs. The second she’d managed to stand up she blacked out. One second she’d been upright and the next she was trying to figure out why everything was suddenly on it’s side. A sick cold feeling settled in her gut when she realized if she hadn’t fallen sideways she’d have gone right through her glass coffee table. She’d been halfway through dialing Chloe when she stopped. She’d been the one Maya had called that night.

 

Then she’d been truly out of her mind. Rambling. She’d been halfway to hypothermia when Chloe found her and picked her up. She didn’t pry. She never did, but Maya knew she was worried. She’d caused enough of that. She wasn’t worth worrying about. She sure as hell wasn’t going to give Chloe more reason to if she could avoid it. In this case she could. So she’d dialed a different number. One she was far less enthused about. She was dreading the conversation but she knew it needed to happen. Honestly she shouldn’t have waited this long to make the call but it wasn’t going to be a pleasant one and she’d had no desire to jangle her nerves more than they already were. Not that she had much of a choice now.

 

She set up a meeting with Graft. His tone hadn’t given anything away. It never did...but she had a feeling he knew things hadn’t gone according to plan...and that he wasn’t pleased about it. She’d set a time and a place and told him what she’d needed. They met at a coffee house downtown around sunset. She’d needed the caffeine. She’d nearly nodded off on the cab ride there.Graft had been waiting by the time she got there, a styrofoam cup already sitting in front of him.  She’d been right, he hadn’t been happy. She could taste the anger coming off him stronger than the triple espresso she’d gotten. As good as he was at keeping his face emotion free even he couldn’t manage to keep his emotions out of his aura. There was concern there as well. Probably not for her. Not quite. Graft was all business. No he was probably more worried about what could throw her off her game so bad.

 

His line of questioning confirmed what his aura had hinted at. She’d burrowed down in the recesses of her oversized hoodie as much for the comfort as the warmth as she’d told him what had happened. Every detail. The rage coming off him got even more intense as she told it. He was coming to the same conclusion she already had. Whoever had arranged the job had skimped on the details. Probably because they’d known Graft wouldn’t touch anything as risky as what that warehouse had been. She still didn’t know what she’d been told to grab. Not really. At this point she wanted to know even less than normal. She had enough nightmares to deal with at the moment. This job had turned into a clusterfuck. The only positive spin she could even put on it was she hadn’t been taken in by the ARMA agent. Her boogeyman. Not that it was much of a comfort. He’d seen her face. He knew about her now. Her hands shook as she took another sip from the cup in front of her. 

 

Graft noticed. He stood and told her he’d deal with the client. She wondered if the idiot would still be breathing after Graft was done with them. Killing a client was bad for business. Letting this go unanswered might be worse. Whoever they were Maya wouldn’t be surprised if they soon found themselves wishing for death. Graft didn’t tolerate bad business. He slid the cup across the table to her and walked out. She stared down at it for a moment before picking it up. It wasn’t full of coffee. She grabbed the cup and made her way back out into the cold, shivering despite her sweats and the jacket she wore over them. She hailed a taxi and fifteen minutes later she was back at  her building. It was long past dark as she stepped out into the street. The cold was really setting in and she hurried inside. She’d struggled to get warm since that night. Chloe had told her she didn’t think any lasting damage had occurred. That the chills would pass. Maya hoped she was right. After what seemed like an eternity in the elevator she finally slipped back into her apartment. She bolted all three locks and stamped the snow off her boots before kicking them off one at a time. Her cane and glasses were hung on the pegs by the door as she slipped her coat off and put it beside her. She popped the top off the coffee cup and grabbed the bottle of pills that had been stashed in it. She’d just started unscrewing the cap when the color caught her eye. She wasn’t alone.

 

It looked like a woman. Maybe it still was. Maybe it had never been at all. Her features were elegant. Beautiful. Her aura was terrifying, She’d never seen one like it. It was a bright scarlet that seemed to pulse like the beating of a heart. The same color as the lines that had spiderwebbed along the skin of the vampire she’d seen days before. If she’d been in her right mind she might have connected the two. Maybe considered that the vampire she and the agent had ended up putting down was fresh. Unfinished. That would require the ability to think. Her mind was too busy screaming to do anything so rational as that. She’d found  another monster, and this one was in her home. Her golden eyes went wide as she stared at it, the rest of her body going rigid as shock held her in place like vice. The bottle of pills slipped out of her fingers and hit the floor with a clatter that was deafening in the silence.

 

The panic was sudden and nearly absolute. Her heart hammered in her chest, painfully loud. The right sleeve on her hoodie went slack at her side as her focus slipped and her the phantom limb within it crumbled into golden dust before fading away entirely. She sank to her knees, her good arm bracing against the floor to steady her as she struggled for air. Her breaths came ragged. Gasping. Her vision began to falter she began to black out. A million thoughts raced across her mind. How had they gotten in? How had they found her? Why were they even here? Who were they? So many more flashed into her mind only to be buried by the sheer weight of the one terrifying thought that crashing down around her. There was a monster here, and no one was coming to save her. 

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Eyes closed as she waited.

 

She didn’t need sleep, but she did fall into unconsciousness from time to time. Out and about in the city she didn’t fucking ever dare. Being away from her compound and in the midst of mundane society had a lull of its own though. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d bothered to grace an apartment building. College maybe? After that, living on a base, or a camp, even sometimes in a helicopter or plane on a runway when nothing was available. Stark contrast to the effortless and impeccable way she now lived. She hated people.

 

Loathed them.

 

People were selfish, filthy little creatures. Ego driven. Worthless where she was concerned. Very few were even remarkable enough to pay attention to, let alone remember. They transferred their inadequacy and pain onto others every chance they got. No concept of loyalty, or honor.

 

Even then she could hear it in the apartments around her. Somewhere a floor away people were fighting about… who used up all the hot water? Kids crying. Doors slamming. The stink of a trashcan that needed to be taken out that only a vampire’s senses couldn’t tolerate. Scrape of chairs. Television. The cacophony in her head was deafening.

 

Though the sensory noise, a scent cut, coming closer. Dark eyes opened. Finally. The door clicked, opening and closing. Locked. Settling in. A routine well-rehearsed over time. The woman found her almost immediately, the eyes bringing a slight Grinch-like curl upward on the edge of her lip. Magus. Empowered at the very least, exceptionally interested what the gold eyes could see as she looked at the Viceroy.

 

As the pills dropped to the floor, a small sigh escaped the vampire’s nostrils. Fair reaction she supposed, especially after the bloodbath she’d probably seen or been a witness to in the warehouse. The roles from that night between the rogue, the ARMA attack dog, and this one were starting to click together. Why she’d been there in the first place was the question lingering in her mind.

 

Viper eyes watched the scene unfold, the gold shimmer, the limb lost. Panic.

 

Lip twitched slightly over a calm canine. When they were afraid their heart beat so fast, blood hot against skin. Either she was a good actress and was about to mage rage against the Sheut, or she was really having a nervous breakdown. Silence hovered for a few moments.

 

“For God’s sake I’m not going to kill you,” she said quietly. The small frame hadn’t so much as even moved save for speaking. “Quite the opposite actually.”

 

She left it to rest for a moment, giving her time to compose herself if she could.

 

“My name is Eris,” her voice could be amiable and gentle when she wanted it to be. “I understand you’ve met one of my kind and I want to apologize for his transgressions. We are all not so ignorant and agressive. I want you to tell me as much as you can about him. I can take care of the situation so it doesn’t happen again.”

 

Then business. To know vampires existed was to be in her cross-hairs. To have survived, and be a magus, was potential employment. Calloway was on her ass to make her network. Fuck him. She would do it but she didn’t have to like it.

 

“Then we’re going to talk about you and your friend from that night."

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The world had been far from kind to Maya since the change. It had left her battered.Broken. Losing her arm, then her eyes had been devastating to her. Stil she’d managed to accept it. Embrace it even. Use it to survive. After all what better camouflage was there? Nobody looked twice at a cripple. Didn’t look once if they could help it. At least till they realized she was “blind”. 

Then they couldn’t stare enough. All pity and dismissal. What good could she possibly be? If not for her gifts they’d be right too, but with them? She hadn’t felt like a cripple. Once she’d gotten over the shock of it she hadn’t dwelled on what she’d lost. Not much anyway. 

 

Her mind was a different story.  Ever since that day in the alley. Before that if she was being honest. Since the day all this shit started. It was like a pane of glass. Every day, every fresh dose of hell adding another crack. Leaving her to wonder how long she could last before it shattered and came tumbling down on top of her. She hated it. More than anything else. More than the change. More than her physical disabilities. More than the things that went bump in the night. It made her feel more crippled than her other losses ever had. The nightmares. The jitters. Now the panic attacks? She felt like control was slipping away. More and more everyday and nothing she could do would stop it. She felt powerless. Pathetic. 

 

It wasn’t the first time she’d had them, but they’d become far more frequent since the warehouse. By some small miracle this one was mild. Manageable. Deep breaths quelled the panic enough she didn’t pass out on the floor. Honestly the vampires initial words weren’t a lot of help in that regard, but as she continued her gentle tone began to have the intended effect. Her breathing and heart rate slowed to something approaching reasonable. Then she had to go and mention him. Her heart hammered in her chest. 

 

“He’s not my friend!”

 

The words bit out of her before she could stop them colored by an emotion she couldn’t quite identify. Fear? Disdain? She didn’t know. She didn’t want to think about it. Think about him.  It took her a couple of seconds to remember who she was talking to. She took a couple more deep breaths , her eyes fell to the floor and refused to meet the vampire's gaze. Without a word she rose to her feet and went the kitchenette. She rose up on her tiptoes as she pulled a bottle of amber liquid from the cabinet above the sink. She grabbed a glass from another cupboard and filled it about halfway before putting it to her lips and throwing it back. It burned at her throat, but she choked it down. It was probably a terrible decision with her present company, but a necessary one if they were going to be talking about that night. If her “guest” decided she was going to end her Maya very much doubted being sober would help enough to keep her alive. 


 

She lifted the bottle to fill it again but hesitated for a moment before fixing the cap back in place and bringing whole thing as she strode back to the living area and settled down onto the overstuffed sofa to the left of the woman’s chair. She set in on the floor in front of her, sliding her hand back into the sleeve of hoodie to hide the bloody gash across her wrist and her swollen splinted thumb. Those hadn’t been courtesy of her boogeyman, or the vampire. Not directly anyway. No she’d done that herself to get out of the agent’s cuffs. Like a rat in a trap. She’d been fortunate. She hadn’t permanently damaged her hand, though she’d nearly torn a ligament in her thumb. It would heal provided she didn’t do anything else stupid with it, but it still hurt like hell...and it was a constant reminder. Finally she looked up at the vampire her expression empty. Hollow.

 

“What do you want to know?” 


 

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She didn’t overtly try to look like a statue, it was just a byproduct of being something unnatural. Had she been given a proper choice, she most likely would never have chosen it. It was still better than being zombie food by a long shot. The viceroy was not a patient person, it was a skill that had to be honed over and over again the more she dealt with people. Her days of shooting someone in the damn face and getting to say “oops” later were a bit over.

 

The woman seemed to be coming around, a physical and emotional response like that hinted she'd been terrorized in some way. There was a time she was not unlike her. In so much pain it felt like bones were glass and she would die if she took another breath; afraid of what was around the corner because the world had been so incredibly cruel.

 

She got better when she stopped fearing death.

 

“He’s not my friend!”

 

That, was absolutely a boon. The outburst seemed to stall the composure progress a little, but the fact she wasn’t particularly attached to the hunter meant there was no loyalty there to hold back information. Since the woman also seemed to believe the petite vampire was there under aggressive pretenses, it would grease the wheels even more perhaps. She wasn’t intending to play that card, she was cruel but she wasn’t unnecessarily sadistic.

 

“If I wanted you dead, I would not torture you like this,” she could also be kind. Words held truth. "That's only reserved for those that have betrayed my trust. It is a fate that's earned and I've never met you before."

 

Dark eyes watched the need for alcohol. She too liked a good drink, a bit disappointed when the woman grabbed only one glass. The alcohol would stay the scent of a wound the woman had that was itching at her senses. The viper had control of the highest order, and she’d already eaten this evening. It still couldn’t be completely ignored, only placed to a peripheral awareness. 

 

The eyes that looked up at her were so intriguing, beautiful.

 

“What do you want to know?” 

 

“The vampire, and the hunter, and perhaps a little about your abilities,” her words held truth. This woman reminded her so much of Mouse when she’d first found the magus in Detroit. Now, the vampire would destroy a city block- and had, to protect her employee from danger. “I’m not interested in how you came across the Sheut Ka, the vampire, you encountered, or why you were there. I would just like to know if you know anything about him. Let’s start with that.”

 

Putting an actual name to an amorphous "monster" was purposeful. It meant they weren't just a fluke, or a wild beast that ran free to slay at will with no checks and balances. They were a race, and they had laws, with terrible consequences for their transgressions.

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Maya was quiet for a few moments. Her fear was beginning to abate.  Part of it was the liquor, part of it the familiarity of her apartment as she settled into the couch. Most of it though was the vampires demeanor. She was nothing like the thing her and the ARMA agent had found in the warehouse.  She didn’t doubt the woman could kill her, but she was starting to believe that maybe she didn’t want to. The words were a mild comfort even if they turned out to be a lie. After all what was the sense in worrying about something she had no control over? Still she couldn’t help the nagging feeling that the questions wouldn’t be the end of it. That would be to easy.

 

The vampire... the Sheut Ka-” she corrected herself using the term the woman had.

 

“-it wasn’t like you. It was...unfinished? Younger maybe?

 

She bit her lip as she tried to find the right words to explain. It wasn’t an easy thing. Not when she didn’t even really know how her gifts worked. Her sight was the most difficult to explain to others. It had taken her months to learn just how to get around again after her regular sight had faded. Longer than that to learn to really make sense of most of what she was seeing. 

 

It’d probably be better if I started by telling you what I can do.

 

She grabbed the bottle again, taking a smaller sip from it before setting it back on the floor and turning her gaze back to the diminutive woman. 

 

You probably figured out my eyes aren’t exactly normal. I can’t see anymore. Not like you. Not like anyone. Most of the time things are...dull. Faded. Most of it’s  just shades of grey. Makes it hard to make sense of things sometimes. A lot of the time.” 

 

She picked the words with care, her tone contemplative. It almost sounded like she was explaining it to herself as much as to the vampire. 

 

I’m not sure what to call what I see. Mana? Life?Aura? ARMA or the Order could probably tell you. Sometimes it’s just there, pouring out of the hole in the sky. Usually I see it in people. Everyone actually. It’s stronger with some people. Usually Magi, or gifted like me, other things that aren’t from here.”

 

She paused, obviously uncomfortable. She had only shared this with two people so far. Chloe had helped her figure it all out in the beginning. She’d disliked this conversation with Graft just as much. Maybe worse. Talking about her gifts felt like she was baring a part of her soul. It made her feel exposed. Naked. It wasn’t something she particularly enjoyed sharing with strangers. Not that she’d had a lot of choice, then or now. She stared at the woman.

 

Your aura looks bloody. It pulses, like a heartbeat. I can smell it from here. The guy we encountered didn’t look alive to me. He was grey. Except his veins. They gave off the same color as you’re aura. They pulsed just like your aura, but he smelled different. Like death, and fear.”

 

She trembled slightly. Barely noticeable beneath her baggy clothes. She’d had plenty of nightmares over the past few years. None like the ones she’d had in the past week. Not even the one about the accident....or the man she’d killed. The image was seared into her mind. She wanted nothing more than to forget it. Par for the course it seemed. She felt more and more of her memories from before the change slipping away every day they were replaced with some fresh horrors. Part of her envied them. The monsters. Monsters weren’t afraid. 

 

My best guess is he hadn’t been Sheut-Ka long. A guess is all it is though. I’d never seen him before so that’s all I’ve got for you. I know even less about the other guy.”

 

Her pulse spiked again as she thought about him. God he terrified her. It was different than the vampire. Less visceral. It was a constant state of dread. That he was there. Watching. Waiting for the right moment. It was irrational. She knew it was. Didn’t mean she could shake it off. Could stop him from haunting her dreams. 

 

Pretty much all I can tell you about him is he’s gifted and he’s with ARMA. That’s all I can tell you because I can’t see him. At all.

 

Honestly that was the real reason she thought she was so afraid of him. He was faceless. Invisible.Her own personal boogeyman.

She shook her head and took another long sip from the bottle as she tried to get him out of her mind. The empty sleeve at her side seemed to inflate, rising up as a golden hand slipped out of it once more to grab the bottle as she screwed the cap on and set it aside. She held the limb up for the other woman to see and wiggled her fingers, a faint trace of amusement flitting across her features.

 

You’ve already seen my best trick. Or part of it anyway.

 

As she spoke her hand seemed to shimmer and wicked looking claws extended from her fingertips.  She admired them for a moment before she shook her hand out and they seemed to crumble away into golden dust and fade into nothing leaving her fingers normal once more.  She grabbed the bottle and was about to take another sip before she thought better of it. She looked to the vampire. Did they drink? There was the clink of glass on glass as she set the bottle on the coffee table between them before pressing her hands together. She moved them back and forth and a lump of gold seemed to form between them. She ran her fingers over it and it seemed to flow like water into a small cup.  She slid it and the bottle across the table to her uninvited guest before sinking back into the cushions of her couch.




 

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 “The vampire... the Sheut Ka- -it wasn’t like you. It was...unfinished? Younger maybe? “

 

Eyes narrowed slightly. She didn’t know the rogue, so it would make sense he was new. The woman could see things others could not, and could also recognize one of her own in varying stages of strength it seemed.

 

“It’d probably be better if I started by telling you what I can do. You probably figured out my eyes aren’t exactly normal. I can’t see anymore. Not like you. Not like anyone. Most of the time things are...dull. Faded. Most of it’s  just shades of grey. Makes it hard to make sense of things sometimes. A lot of the time.” 

 

She listened with keen interest; motionless as she studied her, contemplating her words.

 

“I’m not sure what to call what I see. Mana? Life?Aura? ARMA or the Order could probably tell you. Sometimes it’s just there, pouring out of the hole in the sky. Usually I see it in people. Everyone actually. It’s stronger with some people. Usually Magi, or gifted like me, other things that aren’t from here.”

 

The discomfort was noted, eyes unflinching as the apartment owner stared back at her. Normally completely at ease with eye contact, she had the distinct feeling that wasn’t what was happening. The eyes that looked at her were seeing something completely beyond the Sheut's senses to detect.

 

“Your aura looks bloody. It pulses, like a heartbeat. I can smell it from here. The guy we encountered didn’t look alive to me. He was grey. Except his veins. They gave off the same color as you’re aura. They pulsed just like your aura, but he smelled different. Like death, and fear. My best guess is he hadn’t been Sheut-Ka long. A guess is all it is though. I’d never seen him before so that’s all I’ve got for you. I know even less about the other guy.”

 

Her guess was correct, the ability fascinating. As the discussion switched to the hunter, it was apparent the man terrified her. She could hear her pulse change; smell the scent of blood when it ran hotter and closer under the skin. It was that fear and adrenaline that some vampires got off on when they hunted. Personally she thought the practice a bit vulgar. Food, was food. To torture someone to get the rush was just so… newbie, and complete bullshit. Sparkly vampire bullshit.

 

“Pretty much all I can tell you about him is he’s gifted and he’s with ARMA. That’s all I can tell you because I can’t see him. At all. “

 

That, was invaluable information. She knew he was gifted, and with ARMA. The other part, gave her exactly what she needed to know. He was fast, he was trained, enough to have killed a Sheut. The fact this woman couldn’t see him meant a lot of things, and when she separated all those minute details one by one with her extensive mental repertoire it boiled down to very few conclusions. She knew how to kill him, in several ways, if the need ever arose.

 

“Everyone can be killed,” she said quietly, hands still folded. "There is no reason to be afraid of anyone."

 

This was most definitely worth her time to have come here. She’d considered it might be a dead end… but her hunches were almost always fruitful. It was evident now that the viceroy could hear her heartbeat, smell her fear when she spoke of the vampire and the hunter.

 

“You just need to know how to kill them. For Sheut, you stab us in the chest,” she had no hesitation telling her how to take care of a Sheut. Most were never fast enough to make it happen anyway, but those that already knew they existed could help get rid of rogue problems so she would never have to bother dealing with them. “Then you cut off their head. For the other, you contact me and I would be happy to take him off your hands..”

 

She wasn’t sure how a phone worked if you couldn’t see it. Mouse would find her as enthralling as the petite viceroy did. The corner of her lip curled upward at the woman’s display of ability, and the fact she was finally seeming to relax.

 

“You’ve already seen my best trick. Or part of it anyway.”

 

As the bottle was slid across the table to her, eyes were still on the woman.

 

“That’s a fascinating ability you have there,” she leaned forward with an oiled grace, picking up the cup to run her fingers over it before pouring herself a drink. Not her favorite, and she had an aversion to touching anything someone else had handled, but it would be rude to refuse. She didn’t give a shit about being seen as rude at any time, to anyone. This exchange however was important, so she appreciated the hospitality.

 

She savored the taste a moment.

 

“Now, I’m interested in you. What do you do,” she asked quietly. “Other than stash pills in coffee cups, drink and occasionally find yourself at the fang end of a Sheut?”

 

It was absolutely not condescending, it was curious as if she had something waiting in the wings to offer her. She did. The woman seemed snarled, bogged down with so many uncertainties that the sense of helplessness emanated from her. So complex, so many more strands at work than she could entangle in one evening. But, she had an ability that she was immensely interested in. It seemed like nobody else was seeing the potential, and she wanted it in her corner. She just had to find if she had any ties to anyone she could cut, and she would use every resource possible to make that happen.

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