Written for the occasion.
Pain shot through Destiny's body. She forced herself to take a few steps forward, to put down the cup on the table before her tearing muscles spilled the scalding soycaf over herself, even though her agony didn't actually feel like it could get any worse.
It was the customer who screamed, not her, not at first. But there was a lot of screaming. Destiny added her voice to the cacophony.
Her knees buckled. She went down, semi-controlled. Curled up on the floor, the pain spasmed, bloomed. In a briefest moment of reprieve, it occurred to her that she'd be fired for this, but the next searing wave washed that thought away.
She had to be dying. VITAS, a bioweapon, something. Would explain the screaming.
Gritting her teeth, which felt wrong and whose nerves seemed to have gotten tangled in her mask, she reached for her phone. Her family knew she loved them, but she'd tell them again.
Then, just as suddenly as it started, the pain stopped. Perhaps she'd died, but as the café floor was still right there under her, smelling of cleaning agent, she decided that she hadn't. Destiny carefully pushed herself up into a sitting position, expecting the pain to return. It didn't, though she felt sore and somehow off. Like everything was suddenly too tight.
Should she call her family anyway or keep the lines open for emergency services? There was still a lot of screaming. Just a text message should be alright though. They'd want to know she was okay, and otherwise they'd be contacting her.
Destiny's phone lay small in her palm. No, wait, her hand was bigger, more muscular. She blinked hard, looked again, more closely. This was impossible.
Perhaps she was hallucinating, but magic was back in the world, so nothing could be ruled out. Messaging her family could wait a moment, she had to look in a mirror first.
Bathroom breaks were only most grudgingly allowed. If one did get there, the toilets had sloped seats to make lingering uncomfortable. Not that anyone would want to linger, for there was corp propaganda hanging at eye level everywhere and the breaks were timed. But this was an emergency.
Destiny staggered to her feet. The room seemed a little wrong – smaller perhaps. Was it just her imagination, or was she taller?
A few tables down, a customer was touching his face, eyes wide with horror. She was kind of horrified too – not at his horns, but at the face touching. Hadn't VITAS taught everyone not to do that without washing one's hands first?
She had to know what her face looked like now.
Two steps towards the bathroom, then she sat down again. All her clothes were too tight now, but her shoes were walking agony. She undid the laces, which provided a tiny amount of relief and pulled. No luck, her foot was stuck fast. Would she have to go to the kitchen – more steps – and get a knife to cut herself out? She completely unlaced her shoes and grabbed the right heel in both hands. Inch by inch, she succeeded in prying the shoe off her right foot, then proceeded to do the same with her left. Thank God. She couldn't afford ruining perfectly serviceable shoes, even if she couldn't wear them any more. Even with clothes going by dumping prices, the costs of having to replace one's wardrobe were significant, and she needed to offset that.
She walked to the bathroom with her shoes in hand. Her employee ID unlocked the door and transmitted that she was slacking off to her corporate overlords. After cleaning her hands thoroughly, she took off her mask.
The face in the mirror was both alien and familiar. Her gaming experience said orc, completing the trifecta with elves and dwarves. To be thankful for small mercies, she wasn't poly-limited or green. She had her own skin, her hair was essentially the same, if perhaps a bit longer, and her eyes remained her own. She was good looking, but she wasn't sure if it was her, except of course that it was.
Destiny snapped a selfie, then scrutinised herself on the screen. Had her family and friends ever said anything nasty about the UGE kids? Nothing noteworthy that she could recall. They had been supportive when her brother told them he was a guy. Destiny sent the selfie. Perhaps it wasn't self-explanatory, so she added "Guess this is me now."
Before Destiny could pick an accompanying emoji, her mum answered, "We love you, always have always will." Then, in the next line, "Do you need anything? I'll change the delivery route to pick you up if you want." The traffic was bound to be absolute hell, even more than it usually was.
Her little brother was only slightly slower, which meant he was in a match. "you look like your main now XD" She did look a bit like Demeter. Of course, she'd modelled Demeter after herself as far as the game engine allowed, so similarities were not super surprising, insofar as anything was likely to make any sense today. Sadly, Demeter's healing magic was unlikely to be part of the package. But then, life could be enough of a grind without adding levels.
More messages poured in. Some expressions of worry about her, some silly comments, a few matching selfies, but above all affirmations of love.
Destiny swallowed hard. If this transformation proved permanent, it would likely be another identity to be marginalised for. However, the people who loved her would still be there for her. Things would be okay.