Do You Mind

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Max meets Aaron with a fly-by from Alma

Date: 12/06/2018

Time: 15:00 EST

Nancy Whiskey

There is nothing more quintessentially Detroit then some tiny joint on the corner with only a High Life sign and blinking light beckoning passersby to see if there is anyone inside. The interior space is compact, with barely any space to squeeze between the barstools and the tables, and is usually packed on weekends. The well kept secret of this little dive is that it's one of the best places in the Motor City for live blues music. During the week it's a laid back spot to hang out and linger over a drink, preferably a beer and a shot of whiskey.

The light in the bar is dim, with bright spots here and there provided by the glow of televisions set at each upper corner that broadcast the current sporting event, especially if it features one of Detroit's home teams. The wooden bar runs the length of the left wall and behind it are an insanely large number of beer tap handles protruding upwards amidst the liquor bottles that line the back shelf. The wooden floors are polished but worn, showing grooves along the major traffic areas. Several tables have been spaced along the wall opposite the bar beneath mirrors bearing the names of popular beers. A squared off arch separates the pool tables from the main bar and a set of wooden stairs near the door leads to the second story.


Early afternoon, Thursday December 6th, 2018.

The bar isn't that busy this time of day, which makes it the perfect place to meet new people. Though, really, the feature as far as Aaron's concerned is the booze. His driver is sitting at the bar, and he is camped out in a booth. He's dressed to the nines--as always--in a gray three-piece suit that is custom tailored. It is likely quite expensive. His black cashmere overcoat hangs on a hook by the booth. He's got a glass full of brown liquid in front of him (it's whiskey).

Max is not so dressed up. She's wearing a particularly thick hoodie against the winter weather, but otherwise is skating by in a pair of jeans and cheap, canvas sneakers. Her satchel is slung over her right shoulder and against her left hip, and her hands are deep in her jacket pockets, right hand clenching her phone nervously. She spots Aaron--not hard, in this crowd--and offers a brief smile, making eye contact only for a moment before focusing on the chair she apparently plans to sit in. She sits in it. "Hi, I'm Max," she greets. "Nice to meet you, Aaron."

The moment it's apparent Max is headed toward his booth, Aaron starts to watch her approach. It's not a creepy leer, but rather an observational gaze. He's in the field, and she's a new operative. He's making mental notes about her. By the time she reaches him, he's taken in her appearance and her gait and the things she's carrying. He offers her a smile. "And you as well, Max. Welcome to Detroit. Al didn't happen to tell _you_ why she wanted us to meet, did she? All she told me was that you were a seer, so you'd know."

Max winces self-consciously. "She called me a seer?" she doesn't quite groan. "I mean, I guess it's fitting, but..." She shrugs uncomfortably and laughs a little to try to ease the tension. "But no, she didn't tell me. I honestly just assumed it was to test me. I know everyone's trying to figure out if I can be trusted."

<<DICE>> Alma rolls 4 dice, difficulty 6

<<DICE>> 4 successes (6 7 8 9, Specialty: No, Willpower: No)

<<DICE>> Comment: how artistic is Note today?

Alma steps into the bar preceeded by a chill. The wind kicked up a little before the door shut all the way. She's holding a street sweeper bristle in her hand. To herself, face scrunched in confusion, she says, "I don't see these very often here." She walks to the bar, staring at the bristle. She sits right next to someone, despite all the empty places. "I don't see these very often here," she tells the person. "It's why we get floods. well, one reason." She sets the bristle down on the bar and then pulls a pencil out of her braid. That braid. It's decorated with a ribbon in shades of blue and green. wine dark. if wine actually was the color of the ocean. A stick and a leaf stick out of the braid a perfect distance apart. The pencil clearly pairs with the field notebook pulls out of her pocket. She starts scribbling.

There aren't that many people at the bar, just the person Alma's talking to and Aaron's driver a few seats down. His driver glances up when she comes to the bar, and then glances over toward the booth where his boss is meeting the new girl and lets out a long sigh. Here goes.

Meanwhile, Aaron laughs. "She's like that. Maybe that is all it is. She's rather busy, and so she delegates. Not that I'm that great at evaluating the trustworthiness of anybody. Not really my strong suit." Clearly, paying tailors for things is his strong suit. "In any case, it's nice to meet you, Max. What brings you to Detroit?"

"I don't mind explaining, but I'm not sure I know how," Max admits. "I think I will have been here before, in the future, so I'm trying to get it out of the way now. What brings you here?"

Aaron laughs. It sure is a good thing he's read enough science fiction to not be thrown by weird tenses in sentences. "Fair enough. Makes sense." He lifts up his whiskey, makes a little cheers motion, and then takes a sip. "Me? I'm just laying low until everybody forgets about the reasons they think I'm a fuck-up--or at least come to their senses about it--or at least that's why I came here originally. The town's got stuff going on."

"I heard a little of it," Max agrees. "Something about a rescue mission for someone with, um, a Hawaiian-sounding name? Ahana, I think?"

"That's just _one_ thing going on," Aaron says with a shake of his head. "And I'm not even really involved with that. Though, maybe I should. Don't know how field-savvy most of the others are." He pauses. "Do you do anything with spirits? That's my forte."

"Not the way I think you mean," Max says cautiously. "I mean, I've never, like, summoned a spirit or talked to one or anything like that."

At the bar, Alma has explained urban flooding and the mitigation efforts being made. "You could set up a network of raingardens distributed through the city, but simple things like street sweeping add up. Oh, and then you have the health benefits of a natural environment on humans, it's like the health of the water infrastructure reflects the health of the people and visa versa. I've got a side proj..." The person has rushed through their coffee break. "I gotta go. There's a thing. I'm supposed to meet someone." They don't even wait to put their coat on, they just grab it and exit. Alma watches them go, and her gaze lands on Aaron's driver. Her eyes narrow, and she looks around.

"Well, if you do venture out into that, be careful," Aaron says. "It's really fraught around here. That's what I've been focusing on." His attention drifts over toward the bar where he notices Alma, probably about the same time she's noticing him. His eyes roll all the way back over toward his booth-mate. "So, anyway. Where you from?"

Max winces (in response to what, who knows) for a moment before smiling bashfully, briefly. "Oregon. And you? You said you were lying low?"

Alma would roll her eyes in response but a glint from a handle at the bar has distracted her. She picks up the bristle again and considers it a while before looking back at Aaron.

"Yeah. I'm honestly surprised you haven't heard about me already. I'm one of the Council's favorite whipping boys. Couple years back now, I was on an op and it went sideways. Consequently, a bunch of sensitive data fell into the wrong hands." He picks up his whiskey and drinks the rest of it in one gulp. "And nobody higher up than me was going to take the blame for that, and so here I am stuck in a shithole like Detroit." Beat. "Mind, I've come to rather like this shithole. My house is nice."

Max nods. "I try not to prejudge," she says, earnestly. Probably naively. "Besides, if anyone thought it was actually your fault, they probably would have just killed you, right?"

There's a certain grim logic to that.

A three, Alma thinks. "Infrastructure." She pulls a deck of cards out and deals three cards to herself. She looks pissed off and walks up to the booth where Aaron is sitting. She looks at the stranger and then looks at Aaron. "You?" She says towards Aaron, then gives up and looks at the stranger. She rushes out with, "Hi, I'm Alma," then looks down at her hands. One hand has three cards and the other the metal bristle. She holds that up, "I'd shake hands but? But... uh, you have a nuturing element, maybe. I dunno. He's starting something and needs you. I mean," she scratches her neck with the bristle looking off, frowning, "Maybe your stronger together? Maybe he backs you up? Something's starting. Look," She glares at Aaron, "I'm stronger than you think." She looks at the door, like she wants to dash out.

Aaron blinks and then laughs. "I mean, I didn't fuck up _that_ badly," Aaron says. "It's not like I went making pacts with demons or anything." He shakes his head. "Anyway, I had to go somewhere, and here used to be a place where nobody was. Seemed a good place to lay low. Of course, as soon as I arrive, it starts to get popular. Too many people coming here to lay low, I think." He looks down at his empty glass and sighs. "Can't even pick a bolth--" That's when Alma arrives. "Do you _mind_?"

Max winces at Aaron's harshness, but stands up politely when Alma comes over. "Hi, I'm Max," she greets politely. There's something in her face as she greets Alma; something like relief. Or recognition, maybe. "It's nice to meet you, Alma." She glances over at where Alma was sitting, then asks, "Not here to drink, huh?"

Alma sets down the bristle and does a polite bow. It's winter, it was on the street, she picks up trash, let's just bow for now. "Uh, nice to meet you too." She sounds nervous, but optimistic. Holding up a finger, she says, "one moment. I have a question," and pulls another card out. It's the six of cups. It's easy for everyone to see, now that she's standing at the both. "This is what I've got." She fans out three cards: The Ace of Pentacles, The Queen of Cups, Strength. Under these, she lays the Six of Cups. "Normally I don't see anything positive about him--he's... and his house isn't even /in/ Detroit! He doesn't even care that polluted water will get pushed up to his house when Detroit floods. Maybe I should go. I... hold up a sec." She rips out a piece of paper from her notebook and scrawls some information down. "Here, if you want to contact me. Um, keep an eye on him." She gathers up her cards and starts to walk towards the door.

Aaron doesn't say anything further until Alma's walking away, though probably is still within earshot. "I really wish she would learn to _ask_ before doing that," Aaron says. "Miss Hunter is unaffiliated. She recently left her Tradition after she started associating with Zach Penn," he says. That's another Rather Notorious Mage, but he's notorious for Probably Being A Nephandus, not just Being A Fuck-Up. An entirely different degree of notoriety.