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"Rules are written by rulebreakers," she said, laying the dagger down. "We're not so different."

"You knew full well weapons are not allowed at this meeting," I said.

Her hand remained on the hilt. I watched it carefully.

"Some build on existing structures," she said. "Some build on fresh rubble."

The dagger melted into a puddle of smoke, then dissipated. "You represent the old world," she continued. "We represent the new."

"We?" I asked. "Who do you think you're representing here?"

"Nobody in particular besides myself." She leaned back. "But also everyone too."

"We're not here to play word games, Rain," I replied, carefully watching her hands. They were empty. For now. "I will ask you to remain on the subject for which you were summoned."

"Or what?" she said. I half expected her to reach for another weapon.

"If you're just here to waste our time, we will seek other avenues to remedy the situation."

Electricity sparkled between her fingertips. I pushed back instinctively, but tried hard not to appear intimidated.

"I didn't come to fight," she said. The sparks disappeared.

I didn't know if she was just toying with us. "Good," I said, looking at my papers. "Let us get down to business then. Have you read the agreement?"

"Why should I?" It sounded like she was trying to pick another fight.

"You think you're special? You think rules don't apply to you?"

"I don't think they should apply to anybody," she said. "You may not agree right now, but the time will come."

"We're not here to discuss philosophy or political science, Rain. You can, if you want, but that would be a waste of our time."

"None of this is special," she continued. "People have this conversation, or something like it, every cycle."

"I don't care about your political theories, Rain. That is not what I was hired to do. I am here to ask for your compliance to the agreement."

Her eyes were no longer focused on the room. "People who arrive too early are washed away. Those who arrive on time experience history."

"And you're here to experience history, are you?"

"We can never tell exactly which role we're playing," she said. "Too many of them have similar beginnings and vastly different endings."

"So you're willing to risk everything on the off chance that you'll be among those who make history?"

"History is already set," she said. "I'm just here to watch it from whatever seat I happen to be in."

"A seat that could well destroy you or those around you," I added.

"None of us know what the future brings."

"I can make some pretty good predictions. Either, one, your current life will be ripped apart for refusal to cooperate, or two, you will be forced to retaliate against us, a prospect I'm hoping we can avoid today."

"I'm not here to fight," she said. A ghostly dagger shimmered for a second above her hand before vanishing again. She wasn't smiling.

"Then we need you to go over the terms of the agreement... please!"

"I'm not here to do that either," she said.

"If you are going to threaten us, we are going to have to end this meeting." I started gathering my papers.

"Again, I'm not here to fight."

"Clearly you're not taking this meeting seriously, and we will have to resort to more serious remedies for compliance. We'd hate to see your life fall apart over this, Rain."

"Life by your standards, I assume," she said. "You can't threaten someone who wants nothing."

"So you suddenly want nothing now, do you Rain."

"I've made my peace with it. I'm not as attached to things as I used to be, as you still seem to be."

"Again with your philosophies," I said, "which is not why we're here."

"But if you seek to motivate people, you will have to understand how they tick."

"So you're going to lecture me now about yourself, are you?" I stood up. "We don't have time for this. You leave us no choice Rain. I was hoping it wouldn't have to come to this."

"This too has happened before," she said, "and yet we still don't know how this particular story will play out."

Her image flickered for a moment, then disappeared.