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Threading the Needle
Her plan was coming together.  But not exactly in the way she had first envisioned it.  The godling she'd been after was much too troublesome.  But he had resources only one other godling had.  It wasn't money that he had, but a foot in the door to the Ascendancy and one into the Atharim.  Which was also the troublesome spots.  Stalking her prey had lead Zef to another godling -- one far more malleable.  And her plans changed almost on a dime.

And then when she was ready to put in the time and effort to raise a god, she finds a girl who was ready to die.  While Zef commended the woman for her bravery and yet her lack of it to follow through she was grateful for the woman's aid.  And now she had two gods on the line.  Her plan was coming together.

Promises had been made, and now it was time to begin that.  Zef made her way into one of the safe house armories.  It had been the third she'd tried looking for the specifics on Eido's list.  They weren't rare, most Atharim had a close combat weapon of choice, but most preferred to keep the monsters at range.  She certainly did, but close combat was always necessary.  Specially when innocents were involved.

And in each safe house she booted up the connected systems and scanned for any new information on either Jaxen or Eido, but none had been found.  She needed to get that hacker in the system.  But that meant talking to the troublesome god which he may or may not fireball her ass if she came near him again.  He wasn't well responsive the first time -- none of them had.  Though they had been set free.  He thought her dead.  But he'd be surprised.  She had that going for her.  While in the system she also checked on his status.  It was clear he'd been flagged again with the latest videos emerging.  No one liked a god showing off.
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Fucking airplanes!  He couldn't wait to get the stench of people off of him.  There were reasons hunters were solitary creatures by natures.  They got along better with the monsters they hunted than other human folks.  You couldn't punch the crying child next to you like you could the fucking monster barreling down at you trying to kill you.  Jacob liked fucking monsters better than people.

He was finally on the ground after nearly a day either in the air or in a fucking airport.  Jacob was finally grateful to be walking around a foreign city where he could read the signs at least.  That surprised him a little.  There were still some signs in Russian, but nearly everything was in English.  The world still felt foreign to him.  Not exactly the same as other cities he'd visited.  Of course none were like Moscow.

Jacob walked past the monument the Ascendancy had created live on television.  He'd watched in abject horror as the most powerful on the planet became a god in everything but name.  The man could be the devil himself, and people worshiped the ground he walked on.  Fools!

The reborn war on the gods had begun and Jacob intended to full his destiny and destroy them.  He ran his fingers over his chest where the black serpent pendant hung.  There were legends.  But he didn't know if they were true.  He knew what he was told, but he didn't believe it. But he would take them down in a heart beat.  And the next on his list saddened his cold dead heart.  Even deader now that he had to kill the children of his best friend.  Thank the fucking light that Noel wasn't hear to see this.  Jacob wouldn't have wanted to kill his best friend.  Sad day in hell it would be.

It wasn't hard finding an Atharim safe house in Moscow.  He'd seen several already.  They were scattered everywhere like they'd l ost their home and were scavenging for a place.  None of them seemed occupied, but Jacob watched a woman walk into the serpent's den and he followed shortly after. 

Things were a little different but Jacob easily found his way into the basement where the safe house truly hide.  The woman was on a computer, dusty and old, but secure he imagined.  A picture of the very person he was after was on the screen. "The very god I am after, sweetheart. He's mine. We have a score to settle."
A voice from behind drew her attention.  It was rude to look over someone's shoulder.  Zef gave the old man the eye and then went back to her reading.  Nothing unusual.  The last entry being a video of the show she'd seen.  It hadn't been horrible.

She turned in her chair and frowned. "And if I have a score to settle with the boy, what do you think of that?"

The old man laughed. "Sweetheart, he's like family.  I should be the one to end his life."

"If he's like family I should kill you, too." Zef grinned politely at him.

"Not of blood, grandson of my best friend who has gone on and passed.  That the fucking light he isn't alive t o see his grandson wielding the power of the gods."

"I need him alive.  And there is a standing order for his capture." Zef pointed to the high level mandate on Durante's life. "He's obviously important.  And he's a wealth of connections the Atharim can exploit.  Boy has the ear of the Ascendancy himself.  I've seen them together myself. I was lucky to get away alive." She didn't mention the fact that she was let go by the very man who was supposed to kill her.

The man sat down in a chair he pulled from the table nearby. "What do you need him alive for?"

"He has a connection to a hacker I need.  Someone who can get in and be untraceable, and keep an eye on the back door to make sure the information doesn't get into the wrong hands."

"So more than just the Ascendancy connection?" He nodded rubbing the stubble on his chin with his hand.  He was an American like the boy and he acted like one.  Clearly a cowboy when it came to killing the gods.

"It would be a shame to kill him before we got what we needed from him.  And the scientists want him.  Something about the bite that lost him his arm."  Zef shrugged.  "Still hunting even though he's a god.  He could be useful."  Zef didn't say he'd be useful only that he could.  Let this man decide for himself.

"What are you planning on offering him for his services?"

"His life, all access pass to the Atharim database so he can keep hunting monsters."

"You'd give him his life? He's a fucking god."

"The Atharim once worked with gods to eradicate them.  You can kill a god if he's unaware of you.  He can fight a god. And he doesn't need to be trained.  He's already sympathetic to the cause. And he's no slouch.  Not like the normal gods we hunt, the children sick in their beds, or the few who master their talents.  But so many more are coming into their power without Atharim intervention and we are losing the battle, we need an advantage."

"The gods we worked with in the past we controlled."

"So control him.  You said he was like family."
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Work with the sworn enemy of the Atharim.  There were always rumors, legends of the gods who were traitors to their own kind.  Why work with traitors?  They could turn on you just as fucking easily.

But the admission that he didn't want to do this weighed heavy on his heart. 

Jacob looked over the woman's shoulder. "Do you mind?" he asked gruffly.

"Be my guest."  She said scooting her chair out of the way and watched him squat down in front of the computer and navigate the screen like the tech-savvyless creature he was.  He sword he heard her chuckled behind him.

The screen listed off the boys hunts since coming to Moscow.  Impressive.  But what was more impressive was the sheer amount of kills they attributed to him after he'd signed the Ascendancy's Atharim pardoning legalese.  "The entire underground network cleared?"

"So reports say.  The Ascendancy funded the operation and Nox and one of the Nine Rods of Dominion cleared the rest, Jay Carpenter, I believe his name was. I narrowly escaped their grasp and the traitorous inquisitor who lead me into their grasp."

"They didn't kill you?"

"The same member of the nine offered to off us,  instead letting us go when we were free and clear of the other four male gods in their presence."

"Five in one place?"

"Your friend, collects them.  You want to find a god, follow him, he'll lead you to countless numbers.  I imagine there are several hidden in the confines of the club he calls home"

"What kinda club?" Jacob asked.

"You won't want to go in wearing that.  I'll give you the address, you aren't in our system, he shouldn't flag you and alert the crowd to your presence until he recognizes you of course.  He's security.  Sometimes puts on a show."

"I've seen them."

The woman laughed.  "Me too. Up close and personal. Was the night my views changed about our reborn godling Atharim brethren."

"What changed for you?"

"Just go see for yourself.  He's no Ascendancy wielding the power to change the landscape of the world.  But, he wiped out an entire species of manmade creatures with only the help of another like him."

Jacob stood up and offered his hand with an introduction. She gave her name, and went her way with a smile, Zephyr seemed proud of herself. He wasn't sure why, but maybe he'd figure it out when he went to kill the boy.

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