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Photo After Photo
Sierra hadn't been back in Moscow long before the Ascendancy made his announcement. She wasn't sure what to think about magic, but then again who would believe she could talk to wolves either. She could likely walk around without her contacts and not be questioned - someone thinking it's a fashion statement much like Jaxen Marveet had. But she didn't feel comfortable doing so.

Sierra sat in a cafe after the big protest turned demonstration. It was all over the news in the lobby and Sierra had watched as the Ascendancy had created a statue. It was a big monolithic thing but what did it show - that he was a power mad god who displayed his power for the world to see. And the masses loved him for it.

What good was a sculpture going to do? Sierra could smell the fear and the anger. The Ascendancy had changed some of it, but not all of it. It was going to back fire eventually. Sierra wanted to be gone from Moscow by then. But she had to get the photos cleaned out of her camera and off the laptop.

Her camera sat next to her laptop as she scanned through the cards she'd pulled from it on her extended vacation from humanity. Her contacts securing her identity Sierra felt at home sipping her coffee and combing through so many photos. She'd taken so many while she was gone. Her emotions still ran high when she ran across an image of Snow. She missed him greatly. She might need to find another pup and care for it. But the wolves would likely let her - maybe a dog? But that was such a poor imitation of a wolf, but Sierra missed her constant companion. But it was a thought.
People here were afraid too. The news would only show what they just saw. Giovanni took a survey of the people he saw. At least here, there wasn't a protest though, and Giovanni felt like he could calm down at least.

Many people were glued to the TV screens in the cafe, although a few looked disinterested. More than likely they were ignoring the news. One woman sat with a camera and a laptop. Some sort of photographer doing her work.

Givoanni took a seat at a nearby table and ordered a coffee.
Jensen happily ordered a cup of tea and a spare cup of ice to make his own drink. He learned years ago that Russia was the wrong spot in the world to request iced tea.

His face was still red from crying, and his flared cheek was tinged purple with the beginnings of bruises. To that end, he asked for an additional bag of ice, and winced with pain when he put the impromptu therapy to his skin.

He offered the girl with a camera a slim smile before turning back to Giovanni. "That was incredible. Did you see it?"
Of course the Italian did, but there were no words to describe it. "The Bible says that that in the end times, all will bow before the wonders of a man given powers not of the earth."
His voice drifted. How was John? Doulou? It had been so long since he'd seen him in person. Video and phone was not sufficient to gauge his friend and benefactor's well-being.

Jensen lowered his voice and spoke carefully over the table to Giovanni. "Yet you and I have that same power, but we are not evil."
He didn't think so anyway, despite his many sins. His voice lowered to a near whisper, "I have a friend that theorizes the Ascendancy is the anti-christ and the end of days approaches."

Sierra returned the smile of the American who sat down with the other fella. They were sitting no closer than any other table, but the American was talking with such emotion it almost hit her wolf senses like a wall. And even when he whispered she could still hear their conversation. The hushed confession made Sierra stare for a moment before she caught herself.

How many gifted folks were their in the world. She'd met two not days ago. And another like her. Now the Ascendancy himself claims to be one. And there are thousands more like them. Sierra could feel her mind start to swirl.

The wolves nearest the city sent questioning images to her and she sent back that she was fine. This was so overwhelming.

Sierra went back to working on her photos. The first images were of Snow and Sierra could feel the tears starting to drop from her eyes. She remembered that day. It was before he had died. He was such a beautiful wolf - his pure white fur, his amber eyes that smiled when he saw her. Sierra missed Drifting Snow - she missed him so much.

She flipped through the photos quickly trying to banish the tears from her eyes when a business card flew past. Sierra hadn't remembered the image until she saw it, then fury rose inside of her. This person - these people - they killed Snow! Sierra growled before she noticed what she was doing and cut it short in her throat. They would pay.
Givoanni sipped as his coffee and wondered what Jensen was doing with his tea. Who put ice in tea? Jensen was full of emotion in comparison to Giovanni's own stoic state, but Jensen's statement cause a brief smile on Giovanni's face. He had seen it - immense power.

The Bible the Anti-christ. Of course Giovanni had heard of these things. He had grown up Catholic - and Atharim for that matter. Another sip of his coffee before he spoke.

"An interesting theory. I'm sure a case could be made for it."

A growl caused his eyes to flicker towards the woman with the camera. Giovanni curiously looked towards her, wondering what had elicited such emotion from the woman.

She clearly looked upset, but she hadn't been that way before, and with the way the news was pushing what had happened in Red Square, Giovanni was sure the woman knew about it. That news hadn't upset her. Something else had.

Jensen, being the only bastion that kept Giovanni's insanity at bay, Giovanni spoke with legitimate concern. "Are you alright, Signorina?"
Jensen's head was spinning in the aftermath of the monument's construction. If the Ascendancy was one of the Gifted and if thousands of others were too, that was proof Jensen never was any kind of demon. Nor would he have ever been touched by angelic hands. But that dream was so real!

Neither demon nor angel; what was he? Just a man... Just a sinner. Like every other out there.

His heart ached for home; for his boys; for Jessica, his best friend.

He lowered his eyes to the table, toying with the silverware when weeping turned his attention elsewhere as it had Giovanni's.

"Yes dear one? What is wrong?"

Sierra turned at looked at the two men who were now concerned about her. She cursed herself under her breath. She gave them a fake smile and looked down at the table despite having her brown contacts in. People were not wolves, they made her nervous. "I'm alright. Just an old memory stirring emotions. I'm sorry to have bothered your conversation."

Sierra picked up her camera and put one of the newly emptied cards in and leaned back in her chair and held it towards the men away from her, so they didn't think she was going to take their picture. It was amazing how much better she felt with a camera in front of her. "That's the bad thing about going out for long periods of time. The pictures bring back memories - and some aren't always pleasant."
And losing Snow was far from pleasant.

Sierra smiled as she pulled the camera to her and took a picture out the window she was facing. The familiar sound of the click and shuffle of the camera's mechanical pieces made her smile. She loved it behind the camera.
Jensen pulled the old iWallet from his pocket: the Apple precursor to the modern Wallet worked fine and he never asked Doulou for a new model despite his generosity.

With a grim sort of smile, he stretched across the empty space between their tables and offered to show what was on the screen to the girl. It was a picture of two boys, about 2 and 5 years old. The little one was shirtless and wearing a diaper. The older one had a cheesy smile and a missing tooth.

"These are my sons. It's been years since I've seen them, and I often weep looking through these. Pictures hold a lot of words. You know that I can't remember what they were wearing the last time I saw them. I don't remember if Gabriel's hair needed trimmed. I don't remember which tooth Malachai had just lost. I see these pictures though and they fill my memories, birthing more and more I didn't know I had, and I get lost in them. That's why I keep them close, to treasure what I love most in the world. What was in your pictures?"
Sierra listened with interest at the wise words. Photographs held so much more than words. But then she'd also made it her life's work. It had been her only joy as a child - living in a bunker with no one else but her brother and family around was hard enough. Photos were the best part of her childhood.

She didn't have pictures of her family. Her father lived off the grid for a reason. He didn't want his picture out there for all the world to see. Her mother obeyed and her brother was dead. She sighed. The only family she had was Snow and he was gone. Sierra flipped to the beginning of the card she was working on and then turned the screen to face the other two gentlemen.

She smiled. "These particular ones are of my best friend who passed not too recently ago. His name is Drifting Snow - due to the fact that when he was a pup he loved jumping in the drifts of snow. But I just call him Snow."
There images were taken right before they had come upon the poachers. The weather was gray, but the flowers in the field were bright yellow and Snow's pure white fur was stark in contrast as he bound through the wildflowers. Each photo was snapped moments apart, it told a story of Snow's journey. Sierra caught a few glimpses of butterflies and other bugs as she'd shot her friend enjoying the freedom.

She missed Snow...
They shared pictures - memories. Giovanni had no memories. Francesco Moretti was dead and when Giovanni rose to replace him - well there had been no reason for finding memories.

So Giovanni had no pictures to share. Although he did look at those shown. Jensen had kids - and Giovanni wondered why he didn't stay with them. The woman had lost a friend - a wolf. It brought him memories of the man who had visited Jensen once. The man with wolf eyes.

Giovanni listened in silence, unable to offer any words or memories.

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