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Bait and Hook
The problem with tracking Atharim was they were Atharim.  Their entire lives were living in the shadows.  From sun up to sun down they hid who they really were.  And trained field hunters left little paper trails to follow.

Following a traitor who knew he was being hunted was always going to be difficult.  And without the bank account to follow, or the wallets to track knowing where your agents were in the Atharim was hard pressed. Many fell through the cracks.  Nox Durante wasn't going to fall through the cracks.

There were many searches Jer created over the course of his following this boy god to put to question and execute for crimes against humanity (being a traitor was the least of his crimes in Jer's eyes.)  When one pinged on his system he almost dismissed it out of reflex until it came up as 'family'.

A girl, a young girl was looking for family.  And while the man in the photo resembled Durante, Jer knew the name.  He'd read everything he could on the boy and his family.  The public might be unaware of his association with the Atharim, but Jer was not.  This girl was born to a god  - a failed mission.  Again - falling through the cracks.  But she would prove to be useful.  If Durante were as lonely as he thought he was.  Everything in his life had just fallen apart - family was going to be a fly to candle.  Jer only had to wait.  And Jer was patient.
The girl hadn't come out for days.  Another girl, came on occasion but was quickly sent on her way home.  But the little red head was not.  Jer was getting frustrated as he sat in a different vehicle everyday to not draw suspicion to his watching.  There was only so much he could do.  

The lead on his partner had died too. The girl seemed to vanish out of thin air.  He had to find the partner too.  She was missing - dead most likely - killed by the god traitor.  The very thought made his stomach churn to die like that.

But the former Archangles had found him.  But he hadn't been hiding hard.  Now he was.  But he didn't understand why.  Something had happened at the Vega's and the boy hadn't been seen.  This little girl was a distraction for now, a hopeful lead.  But maybe another could help - the ones who found him the first time.  Two had died in the fight, the other was found dead in a safe house.  The tech guys knew nothing.  So the American hunter was the last one on that list.  Did the traitor kill the one who attacked him?  Could she know?  Jer sent an encrypted message to Jacinda Cross.  A woman with an incredible record, but not from around here was the only thing not going for her.

But right now he needed all the resources he could get.


The message was short and clipped but the encryption worked better that way.
Things seemed to return to normal after their aborted attempt to go to the concert. Strangely, she didn't feel all that bad about missing it. Amelia was well enough- and insistent enough- that she ended up leaving less than a day after she woke up. Jacinda could have forced her. The girl was still weak- she wouldn't even have broken a sweat. But that wasn't her way. Sometimes you wanted to hole up somewhere to lick your wounds and heal. That was how she came to this safe house in the first place. So she was gone.

@"Rune" was welcome to stay as long as she liked. Jacinda had made a promise and meant to keep it. How, she didn't know. She'd have to put some feelers out. Hell, Amelia- clearly not merely Atharim IT- might help. They'd need to look at footage where Seth was last seen and go from there. Needle in a haystack, but there it was. Maybe beat some trees among the other Atharim laying low. She wasn't sure where Hood had gotten off to. Too bad. He was a good one to have with you. Never mind how hot he was. He was good. Real good.

And of course there was @"Tenzin". Her partner. Quiet, mostly, but when she spoke it could be sharp or funny. Or sometimes both. There was an...untamedness about her. Something wild. It wasn't helped by her bone or teeth necklace or her mass of hair tied up into a thick braid and the full sleeves on her arms. A lion, that one. Mountain lion, anyway. She wasn't exactly big. And Jacinda loved her for it. It was refreshing to work with someone who lived honestly, playing no games, no politicking. She'd seen it on occasion. Not really back home. But since coming to Moscow- and especially after joining the Archangels in the 1st Canticle- she saw it. The way people tried to suck up to her, as if her position meant anything other than she was tasked with taking out gods only. Or she saw the way they tried to cause divisions. She and Yoshi had been the only non-natives to join and it had ruffled a few feathers. She wondered if that was why Barovsky always seemed to take issue with how she did things. Maybe someone had planted a bug in his ear.

None of that was an issue with Ten.

That evening she was sitting on the couch idly perusing the news, looking for something for them to do. A hunt of some kind. She wasn't sure the Archangels still existed. She supposed she should reach out to the other Canticles. But for some reason, it just didn't hold any appeal. Being part of the group had been great. But she didn't like deferring to others. She and Ten could decide together. That was fine. But a team without her at the top- or part of it, anyway- just wasn't her thing. Not since Regan.

The name brought on feelings of anger and shame. Toward him certainly. But also at herself for not having seen the truth. For not realizing what a monster he was sooner. Making excuses for him. It made her ill that had been so fooled. And yet...she knew she had been a child. Only a child. How does a 12 year old know what the truth is? Especially when all her information came solely from him? She looked at Tenzin. She hadn't even realized it until speaking with Rune, the contrast between Seth and Regan. She had seen love in families. Jill's sister Sari and her kids. She had been a surprise, Sari. Jacinda had thought she was the problem- why Jill couldn't just be free live as she wanted. More to the point, why they couldn't just be together. It had been her dream, there at the end, hungering for the love and family that surrounded her. And yet it turned out to be Jill herself was the problem. She remembered the way her heart had shattered. Long ago and no longer potent in her memory. But she remembered. There was a hole there, now.

Could she share all of this with Tenzin? Part of her wanted to, to extend a questing...whatever to the woman, to share the painful realization that had hit her only a few days ago. Jacinda knew she wasn't being her normal self. She was trying to mask it but she was sure Ten had picked up on it. She had a nose for that kind of thing.

She opened her mouth and then shut it again. She was about to speak when her wallet vibrated. She read the message and all thought of talking vanished. An inquisitor looking for Nox Durante. Wanting information. Interesting. It had come full circle. She looked at Ten again. She had met her that night, after their fight. She passed her wallet to her. "Looks like I'm needed. You wanna come?"
The warmth of family rediscovered brought equilibrium back to Tenzin’s world, and armoured her afresh against the onslaught of the city’s stink. She was content, and such moods eased her into more delicate tasks, such as perusal of the book currently balanced between her paws. She laid flat on her stomach, brows drawn low, trying to ignore the fluctuations in Jacinda’s scent. She rarely pried outright, trusting to the bonds of pack that the woman would share when ready. Even if it prickled her skin with agitation in the meantime.

Dark eyes rose at the words. Her head tilted as she shifted to sit cross-legged on the floor, taking the wallet to read the message before handing it back. A muscle twitched in her jaw. She didn’t like to hunt human. It was a topic they had danced around the night they first met, and had not been an issue confronted since. Tenzin understood the necessity, and she was not softhearted, but she rarely found her Athari cousins to be intune to the more subtle currents of nature. Their kills were indiscriminate.

Inquisitor.” She explored the word, expression drawn curious, though something sardonic curved her lips. Hierarchy was as natural and pure as crisp air in her lungs, but men rarely bestowed their strange titles on those most suited to the task. “Will come,” she said, stretching stiff limbs like a mutt risen from the hearth as she unfurled to her feet. A flash of teeth followed, and she poked Jacinda playful in the ribs in passing. “Keep you out of trouble, yes?”
So the thing about Ten was that she really didn't say that much. She had a quiet nature about her. Which meant that it wasn't always clear what was going on behind those dark eyes. But Jacinda sort of a liked that about her. She was deep.

Anyway, Ten unfurled herself and stretched, a playful wolfish grin flashing on her face as she jabbed her in the ribs.

Jacinda had missed this kind of friendship. They were still new partners, of course. There was no hidden language between them, not yet. They both had a lot to learn about each other. All the same, though, they got on well. Maybe it was because they were so different from each other.

She laughed "Yeah yeah yeah," and playfully nudged her shoulder. "Alright. Let's tell the big scary Inquisitor where to meet." She laughed again. "Make him buy us dinner or a drink or something." A joke of course. He was on stakeout and couldn't exactly leave.

She sent a quick message and then put on her boots. Thankfully, they hadn't been ruined in that mess from the other night.

And then they headed out.
A response came back of an agreement and Jer sent the location coordinates. Today he sat in a unmarked van a block from the house in question. His camera was trained on the building and he had a periodic drone flying around the houses. The flight pattern was that of some kid playing near by. And it wasn't constant.

This was usually grunt work, but this was a god, and Jer had every intention of catching this one and putting him down. And the help of a so called Archangel was hopefully going to be helpful.

Jer sipped at his luke warm thermos of coffee and watched the girls house through the video screen. Sitting in the drivers seat would be a dead give away. A van always worked best. And tech was so small that the cop shows from the last century were put to shame. Stake outs were not the sit in your car and watch type affairs. Though he chose to do it because he wasn't about to put it past the god traitor to use technology to his advantage. God only knew what these things were capable of.

So he waited for Jacinda Cross to show up. He perused her record and that of the boy Durante for the billionth time. He had memorized his file by now, but he was still looking for something - anything to find the bastard.
Jacinda rolled her eyes as they caught site of the the van. To Tenzin, she chuckled. "Might as well put up a sign. 'Someone is being surveilled!'" Well, to be fair, it would only be obvious to those who'd been on stake-out before. Unless this guy was following a cop or atharim or PI, the mark would probably never notice the lonely van that just sat there. If the guy was smart, he'd switch it out with a different type of vehicle often. Course, a sedan wouldn't exactly hide the person sitting there with whatever equipment he was using.

An interesting puzzle, really. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught motion- a drone. One of those kid's models. Her opinion of the guy went up. It flew like some kids were playing around with it, occasionally dipping or dropping or wobbling, like they were just learning. Yeah, that was good.

And now two women would walk up to the van, knock and then get in, hoping no one noticed. Unless he wanted to get out and meet them, it was unavoidable. A long shot and bad either way. He'd just have to hope no one was watching at that moment. Wasn't her quarry, so she didn't care either way.

As they got closer she shot a message. HERE. Hopefully he would slide the door open as they walked by and they could get right in.
Two messages chimed almost simultaneously. The first one prompted Jer to open the door on the side to allow Cross and a friend who he had not been expecting to enter the van as inconspicuously as possible. Jer temporarily put aside the second message while he glared at the American. American's and their fucking cowboy ways. But Jer said nothing as he waited for them to sit down in the empty surveillance chairs.

"Ms Cross. Who's your friend?" He wanted to add who you presumed to invite to a meeting with an Inquisitor. Who the fuck did that? Did she know anything - probably not. This wasn't his partner, nor was any other Atharim mentioned in his reports short of the two other dead Atharim. He was slightly perturbed by this intrusion.

Jer turned back to the cameras and glanced at the message that came in at the same time Jacinda's did. He smiled as he saw Nox Durante was currently in Moscow University Hospital under observation and being kept in quarantine. For what it didn't say, but that was good for him. He shook his head and turned back to the two women. "It doesn't matter. What can you tell me of the battle you had with Durante. Did he have any allies."
Jacinda laughed at him, not hiding her disrespect. "Bitch please, Barovski didn't make me sweat with his huffing and puffing. Don't think you're glares mean anything. He was a punk and I let him know it. I do what I do and I'm good . I get results. I dare you to prove otherwise. So you can save your glares for the little pussies who might actually give a shit about your opinion or position. You asked for info, here I am. But I don't do hierarchy shit."

She looked at Ten. "This is my partner. Atharim to the core. Question her is fine. But you question me. And I dont much care what you come up with. But you called this meeting."

The other text took his attention. She paused and then jumped in."whaddya wanna know?"
Her gaze roamed. She didn’t have much use for tech back home, and little taste for it here, even if she understood the necessity. Confrontation stunk up the back of the van like bristling hackles, flaring her nostrils with distaste, but she mostly ignored the posturing for it did not have the scent of escalation. Jacinda was pack, of course, but she was no pup and could certainly fight her own battles. Tenzin sat without offering out her own name, dismissed anyway with little more than a fleeting glance as the inquisitor returned his attention quickly to the meat of his invitation. He didn’t offer a name either. Perhaps, given his supposed rank, he expected her to know it.

She knew Durante had been the channeler Jacinda had fought the night she and Tenzin first crossed paths, but it had been the smallest part of their conversation. She kept her tongue tight on the subject for good reason, and in the time since it had not been revisited. The inquisitor only wanted information, and for that Tenzin had no need to chime into the talking, for she had none to give. She watched the screens instead, and the fairly ordinary house they were pointed at. It was unlikely to be where the mark was, given the limited things she knew about him; he had to have gone to ground, and that was hardly likely to be in the middle of suburbia. Some instinct stirred uncomfortably in her gut.

Her fingers drummed along her thigh, not looking away from the footage. Sometimes quarry could be drawn from the shadows with the right bait, yet watching that house she hoped it was only that he thought Durante might foolishly turn up on this doorstep.

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