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Vague Truths
Aria walked in a near deadened state after leaving Dane's company. She passed streets, walked in circles for hours before heading back to her apartment. Life had taken a drastic turn from where it had been heading. It was not the same direction she had been going, wandering the streets didn't help, but at this juncture Aria didn't think anything would.

On her third pass of the retro style news shop Aria saw the headlines, she'd seen them before. "Missing boy found, Mockingbird's calling card found." Aria grabbed the latest copy and paid for it with credits from her wallet. Cash was not something she typically carried, mostly because she didn't have much spending money to begin with. Other articles on the mockingbird had floated around. He was responsible for a good many deaths, and the circumstances were nearly inexpiable. A small blip of fear passed over Aria's body, the fear was unwarranted, she could take care of herself against most foes. She thought of Dane, and hoped he was alright. But then again he wielded the power of the gods, he could do much more damage the she could alone. Regret floated across the surface and there was nothing left but loneliness.

Hours later Aria found herself in front of the Desolate Scroll, unsure how she actually got there. The sun was nearly up, her body ached in places she didn't know could ache. She climbed the stairs slowly and picked up the mat and found the hidden key wedge in between two of the lose boards. She'd have to get another one made to replace this on.

The door came open with a mild squeal. She'd have to get that fixed soon. It was getting annoying.

Aria started a hot shower. But the water was cold and never heated properly, someone must have used it all up in the wee hours of the morning, in their normal routine. The cold water made Aria shiver but she washed everything twice to make sure the blood was truly good and gone.

Aria barely made it to her own bed before she collapsed from pure exhaustion, her walk and the nights activities had drained her.


Aria woke with a headache, and the world was still at bay despite not holding the bubble around her. Her own emotions still fled whenever they were there. But at the very least the haze was gone, the couple upstairs were gone, or dead. Nothing emoted from upstairs. The shop keep downstairs was lively and energetic. Something Aria wished she was. It was midday by the time she'd opened her eyes. Aria sat down at the little table and started fiddling with the reporters wallet. Technology was not her thing, but she managed to hook her wallet up to it and get all the contents of the reporters wallet from it.

Aria tried to get in the right way, but there was nothing she could do to get past the password lock, she was hardly a hacker.

Aria looked at the messages on her wallet, the one from Father Stone was nearly half a day old. He was going to be angry. But Aria couldn't deal with him now. She could barely deal with herself. The monster inside, the person she was, the fear of the reporter echoed in her head. The pain and suffering of Takeo's man, everything brought Aria to her knees. The world piled in on her.


Aria stared at the time stamp on the message from Father Stone. He was going to be highly upset she hadn't shown up immediately. But even if she'd shown up exactly as the message reached her wallet, she was sure the anger would have been the same. He was always angry, and almost always angry because of her. That was at least a little comfort, she caused the man anger. Anger was quick to lead into other things.

Aria didn't care, the events of last night had taken everything from her. Aria knew she felt guilty about everything but being with Dane, but it drifted away from her like it was a cloud on the soft breeze. It wasn't supposed to end like that.

What was left of her humanity floated on the outside of herself, like it was stuck on the other side of a panel of glass. She could see it, but she couldn't feel it. Aria had stopped trying hours ago and dealt with the collapse of the world in on her. Feeling what everyone else felt was sadly unaffected by whatever her murderous acts had brought upon her soul. God was punishing her. But in reality, God had nothing to do with it, she punished herself.

Every waking thought and breathe since leaving Dane's company had been plagued with loss and grief and desperation. She wanted to be at his side. Not because she cared, but because without him, there was nothing but emptiness. Her own self was lost with out his touch. She had given herself too fully to him. And Aria had no way of knowing if she'd ever be herself again. Aria hadn't understood it at first, but the more time away from Dane, she could clear her head, the notions, the ability to comprehend her inadvertent actions. His touch still lingered on her body, but it had been that all consuming passion that made this mess inside her head. She had surrendered everything to him - she gave him her humanity.

She wanted to cry, she wanted to hate herself, but she just didn't care. What was done was done. The line between right and wrong had been crossed and she didn't care. She remembered the sweet fear that came from the reporter. She felt every ounce of pain as the knife carved though her body like the cadavers Father Dimitri had taught her on. Aria savored every ounce of the suffering the poor women had went through at her own hands. Aria had loved every second of it. Now even in the mist of memory it was strong. Aria wanted to weep but the tears would never come.

The world went on and Aria still sat on the floor of her apartment leaning against the bed, staring at the infernal time stamp of the message Father Stone had sent her. A gun balanced precariously on her knees with one hand. She'd thought of pulling the trigger a few times, but she never got there. The gun never left her knees, she hadn't even removed the safety. It sat, cold hard steel in her hand, waiting for nothing in particular.

Self pity and disgust kept Aria firmly planted on the floor contemplating her own death. She wished Dane had followed through, had not thrown the knife away. It would have been so much easier to die than to live with what she'd done. But no matter how hard Aria thought about it, pulling the trigger was not something she could do. She could drown on the bottom of her bath tub, but she'd never stay long enough to pass out. Aria had long since stopped cutting fine lines into her arms and legs. That had been before she had learned to stay in the safety of the bubble that the technique Father Dimitri had taught her for combat situations. Death was her ally, but she could not be her own hand of Death.

It took every ounce of mental fortitude for Aria to push herself up from the floor and make herself move. What was done was done. Self pity would do nothing, and it sure wouldn't let her be with Dane. She didn't care, she let every doubt and every emotion she had go. It was deafening the silence of her own mind. Each thought was clear, everything was so clear with her emotions sitting on the side lines.

It was time to deal with Father Stone, and whatever else the Atharim could throw at her. Life went on, so would Aria.

Aria took a shower for the second time that day. The blood on her hands made her feel unclean, but there was no amount of scrubbing that would wash away those stains. The water rained down on her and left red rivulets along her skin with its scalding heat. Nothing could cleanse her soul of what she'd done.

Buck up! Get at 'em! whatever saying you wanted wasn't going to make much of a difference in a person who didn't want to be motivated, but there was nothing else, emptiness wouldn't do, Aria had to feel something, do something, so she got dressed, one foot then the other, and so on until she was ready to walk out the door with her mavel of a sword strapped to her hip and a gun holstered at the small of her back. The long trench coat hiding it all, keeping her warm at the same time.

Aria tucked her gloves into her coat's pocket, there was little danger to her physical self when there was nothing inside her. The world pushed in, she could make out each individual pulse of emotions, but it no longer overwhelmed her. She knew her neighbors upstairs were fighting again. Her landlord, the shop keep downstairs was happy with whatever he was doing, that kind of proud moment when you know you did right or helped someone, when you made a difference. Aria pushed it all away and drown in the nothingness that was hers. None of it mattered. She only wanted one thing, and right now, she had other things to do. Life didn't get any better than this, the thought dripped with sarcasm.


It was a short walk to headquarters. The alley way entrance was guarded per usual, and there were only a few stares as she walked passed them and down into what the Atharim called home. They knew she was in trouble, pity flowed from them like a sickening sweet sugar treat they served at the fair. Aria wanted nothing to do with their pity, it only stirred what little anger she could muster. She'd done nothing wrong that they knew of. Father Stone's fury was because of something entirely different.

The door to Father Stone's office was closed, Aria knocked. The emotions the other side of the door were calm and content until Aria opened the door. His anger pulsed and raged through his body. His face turned red as he blustered with fury. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

Aria stared at him, there was nothing, his rage bounced off of her, if anything had been gained from last night she was happy with the new found power, the control she had made Aria smile.

Father Stone stalked away from his desk and slapped Aria across the face. Wipe that smile off your face, child!

Nothing, Aria stared back at him from her bent form, from the momentum of his strike had caused, through mussed hair, the pain radiated from her cheek, she could taste the blood in her mouth. The pain was wondrous. She continued to smile as she righted herself. "I was handling a problem."

She pulled out her wallet and showed Father Stone the recording she'd retrieved. He stared at her and the video. A vein in his head pulsed with his every heartbeat, his rage boiled even stronger. Aria did nothing but stare in return.

He didn't calm down, but his voice was more even "How could you let this happen?"

Aria smiled, Father Stone had assumed she'd made the kill. She could almost feel the fear through the rage. "It wasn't my kill. I found it. Something else killed it. I WAS cleaning it up."

"A likely story from you. Some clean up you called us yet again to clean up your mess.

"You can see I was interrupted. Next time I'll clean up and not worry about exposure. How's that sound?"

Father Stone's rage boiled over the top and he struck Aria again. Aria caught his hand as it left her cheek. She was small, but she knew what she was doing, she wrenched his arm behind him. She deliberately pushed fear and intimation through her hand into his body. Father Stone's eyes widened and he cowered before her. Aria spoke in a cold and quiet voice, the emptiness of her body and soul carried through, she didn't care. "Do not EVER touch me again."

Aria felt someone coming and let go of Father Stone. He cringed at her feet and Aria smiled. She wanted to kick him while he was down, but she stood her ground. Being petty would gain her nothing more, she already had the upper hand.

*edited: removed the bit about Katya in the paper, it would not be there as Dreams of Fire happens after Untethered*

Edited by Aria, Jun 8 2014, 03:15 PM.
Tehya had never replied to Aria Piccolo's text the previous day, but she had not forgotten it. The faceless arrangement of times and places seemed wasteful when it turned out to be a simple feat to discover where the woman was, and it coincided neatly with Tehya's intentions for the day; she was already here, seeking knowledge, when whispers of Aria's indiscretion reached even Tehya's stoic ears.

She did not like the Moscow headquarters. The religious heart of the Atharim had always sat awkwardly with her devout loyalty to the cause, and the two did not exist with much mutual cohesion in her heart. She was not Christian, and the core of her moral beliefs viewed the Catholic faith with a distant wariness that prejudiced her against those closest to the Vatican, and to some degree the Regus. Not a thought she was foolish enough to give voice, of course. She was faithful to the Atharim's truest vows. But blind fanaticism did not sit easy with her

It was not a wise idea to interrupt a reprimand, but the nature of the rumours had pinched a frown between Tehya's brow. The place of the furia was a temperamental issue, one on which Tehya fell in with the controversial side of the argument. Her commandeering of the two furia to hunt the rougarou had not been incidental; she was practical enough to seek potential allies in a foreign country, in the heart of the world she was most likely to be caught out in her lie. She only knew a little of Aria's history, and what she did know sparked a protective anger that urged her footsteps down the hall to Father Stone's office.

She knocked, stepped in. And paused. Her dark gaze swept quickly over the scene: Father Stone cowering at the furia's feet, the look on the woman's face. Her cheek was raw pink. The stern expression on Tehya's face did not change as she softly pressed the door closed behind her. "Explain."
Her tone was soft, but brooked no nonsense. It was a measure of trust that she reacted with no hostility. That she was open to an explanation at all.
A woman walked in, and took in the scene. She exuded confidence, Father Store gave off relief, he'd been saved. If the woman had not been standing there she'd have kicked him despite her prior conviction not to. Before shutting the door behind her she asked for an explanation. Aria turned to her, the smile no longer on her face.

Aria heard Father Stone scrabble away from her. He started stammering. Aria turned her gaze to him and his mouth stopped moving. He stared at her. She smiled back with a new found glee that rolled off her like everything else.

Aria searched the surroundings for emotions that could be used to be presented as her own. She looked for a calm, peaceful person, someone who was happy with the world. She didn't care, but the world didn't have to know that. The pain and suffering of the world around her was far more intoxicating, but the necessity of seeming normal was greater.

Somewhere with in the halls of the Atharim, a man worked, he was exhilarated by life, Aria didn't care why, but she took hold of that emotion and calmed herself, the darkness faded from her eyes and she gripped a reality that was no longer hers. Faking emotions was easy, it had always been easy to put on a happy face when the world wanted nothing more than to make her suffer.

An explanation was warranted, but Aria didn't wish to hear the lies spew from Father Stone's mouth. Aria turned back to the woman and smiled, it didn't reach her eyes, but it was a genuine as it was going to be. "I was explaining the circumstances of my late arrival to Father Stone. He thought it unwise of me to retrieve the evidence of monsters from a rather rude reporter who stumbled up on a kill I was cleaning up. I called for assistance, to which he is angry."
Aria left out the fact that he'd struck her twice. But she wiped the blood from the corner of her mouth with the back of her hand. She hadn't provoked the first, the second one she expected.

Father Stone's composure had returned, he no longer looked frightened, to which Aria was saddened by, her influence had not lasted very long. He straightened his coat, he felt superior to the women before him. Aria pulled the thrill of the other man's life closer to heart. She wanted to be angry, she wanted him to cower.

He sat down in his chair. "This child," he spat out the word like it tasted foul. " has come here on wings, expects things as did her former superior. I will not be treated like I do not know how to do my job." He opened a folder that was clearly Aria's record. "She's lead a sheltered life, always under someone's thumb, until I let her free. " He smiled as if he had done something no one else could do. Aria's gut wrenched, but she held firm to the jubulence of that other man's life. "She's taken out and Ijiraq. But she cannot clean up her own mess. She's killed a dranaika, and yet she still cannot clean up her own mess. Surely this does not behoove punishment."

Aria's fury was hidden behind the veil of the other man's emotions, but the coldness in her voice did not dissipate. "I DID NOT kill the dranaika. I found it like that. I cannot under any circumstances beat the foresight of a dranaika alone. Something far more dangerous left her to be found."
Aria knew exactly who, not what, had done the damage, but she was not about to let them know that a god roamed free and she knew exactly who he was, and could have killed him.

Aria flipped the holograph recording on. Takeo bounding away like the ninja he was, and Aria standing holding the knife in her hand. It wasn't the complete truth and Aria wondered if they were going to ask who the man was. His face was not shown and who would believe her that she had been talking to a Privilege anyway.
A shiver rippled under her skin. Aria was smiling in the second Tehya walked through the door, and though the expression smoothed itself quickly, the memory of it lingered disturbingly. There was a disconnect in the woman's eyes, though for now Tehya believed this to be a symptom of the situation. Blood stained her mouth from physical assault, but for a furia the emotional onslaught would be just as bad. Perhaps worse.

She listened silently. Father Stone showed no annoyance at the interruption, in fact he deferred quite readily to her control. Tehya's dark eyes were impassive, but within both passion and dedication roiled strong, and she was unhappy with what she saw. And heard. "You act like enemies," she said simply. "You are not. I should not have to remind you."

She might have left it at that, but Father Stone continued like Aria were not there, laying bare his prejudices, acting like the woman was a tool that had malfunctioned. Not an uncommon view, but Tehya found it vastly insulting. " If Aria's life was sheltered then the blame lies with us. The Atharim are a unit, and we should strive to complement each others' strengths and weaknesses, not waste our time tearing at each others' throats. The drakaina is dead, the body removed, the evidence recovered. No, I do not see a problem here." Aside from that the conflict had come to violence. The disapproval for that was writ in every stern line on her face.

She was done mediating. Her protective nature would not leave Aria here even if she was not the very woman she'd come to see. Nor did she feel compelled to watch the offered evidence; she trusted Aria had done her job, just as she trusted Father Stone would act on anything that needed attention from the recording. She might not agree with his methods, but he was still a brother.

To Aria, she added. "Then something far more dangerous needs addressing." With a prayer to discover an ally, not an enemy capable of taking one of the creatures down. For now it was a passing instruction, though. She scrutinised the woman's face, but not with any more or less intensity than she would any sister. "I am Tehya. You wished to speak with me." It seemed the interest would be mutual, now that she knew Aria had eradicated an ijiraq. Her hand curled over the door handle. Her gaze landed briefly on Stone, but only to nod a formal goodbye. She did not ask permission to take what he clearly viewed as a possession. "Let's find somewhere to talk."

[[Sorry, formatting on this thing is too much a pain]]
Luck? Aria wasn't sure she beleive in luck anymore. Or much of anything for that matter. But the woman she had wanted to talk to when she first got back to Moscow was here in the flesh and apparently rescuing her from any further wrath of Father Stone. Aria could feel his ire at Tehya for pulling her away. But he didn't show any of the as they left the room. Aria could feel the fury in their wake. It was almost deafening.

There were many places with in the halls of the Atharim that they could speak alone, Aria hardly new any of them, but she'd been using one room inparticular for her own research on Ascendancy, it was probably best to take Tehya there, her research was after all what she had wanted to talk to Tehya about anyway.

"I think I know a good place. People bother my little there."

Aria took them down a dimmly light hallway. It was one of the reasons on one went here, the flickering lights made it creepy. And it meant she hadn't needed to worry about people's emotions bothering her while she worked. Now it seemed rather pointless but it would keep people away.

Aria opened the door, it was litered with a books and paper she'd printed from the computer to scribble on. It was hard making things connect when a man like Ascendancy was all over the place, and such a big mystery. But she'd find a way one way.

There was only one chair, Aria sat on the desk, it was easier than sitting having to adjust the sword at her side. "I was curious. Why did you want us to keep the Rougarou alive?"

Aria could fathom all sorts of reasons to study living monsters. She had always wondered why the Atharim hadn't done so, maybe they thought there was nothing more to learn from them. The world was a strange place, and it created strange things. She knew first hand how strange the world was. Her own power was strange, and she was still getting no where near understanding it. Dane also came to mind, the power of the gods flowed through him, and Aria wondered how much he understood of his unique gift. But there were more important questions to be asked now. She pu
Tehya was glad for the silent walk, not because she was unsocial but because she had little idea of what to say. Instead she was aware of her own emotions, desiring not to be over potent to the furia, but equally curious as to what the woman read from her. She glanced over the contents of the room, satisfied at the privacy. Aria wasted no time in preamble, for which Tehya was gratified. "You asked to see me to sate your curiosity."
Though her voice lilted at the end it was not much a question. Somehow she doubted it represented the whole truth, though there was nothing accusatory in her pointing it out, just acknowledgement. She had expected it to come up sooner or later.

Despite that, she had no planned answer in mind. Her reasons of course cut very close to secrets she had no plans to share, secrets that were dangerous for her to share, but only contemplation touched her expression, not fear. The seriousness was ingrained in her, and she folded her arms while she framed an answer, watching Aria with dark eyes. Aria who had revealed herself and the Atharim to a civilian. Who had killed one of the ijiraq. A little hope leaked into her stoicism, for a number of reasons, though the hard lines of her face never changed. There was a pronounced difference between the woman on the surface, and the one within.

"We are taught to kill before we ask questions. I consider it a dangerous philosophy. A thousand years indoctrination does not make something right."
She had a feeling the words would resonate. Hoped they would anyway; the thought of an ally in the darkness of Moscow, now that she was presented with the slimest possibility of one, hovered with premature but pervasive relief. If Aria picked up on that lonliness there was not much she could do about it, and she was too proud to pull her gaze away from the furia and her revealing senses.

"It's been 70 odd years since the last trials into rougarou behaviour. They were human once, they deserve the chance."
Not that it had in this instance worked out, but Tehya's determination was firm despite that it walked a controversial line, one she did not think would please the Regus if he were to find out. After all, the gods were also human; it was a potentially dangerous opinion to share. Still, she trusted Aria because she needed to trust someone, and the woman had already proved amenable to doing things her own way. It was worth the risk. "If you wish to see the research I can send it to you. Do you think it might be useful to your own research?"
[[Double post]]

Edited by Tehya, Jun 14 2014, 07:43 AM.
Tehya guarded her emotions as one who knew what she was typically did. For some reason today it irked her. Aria didn't say anything, but she disliked when people tried to hide, like she was some precious bauble to be spared. She was not precious, and they hardly spared her anything at all. Their feigned plastering of non-emotion was worse than the real thing, at least it was real then.

But Aria didn't let her feelings interfere with the topic at hand.

Aria smiled at the initial comment, it wasn't curiosity at all, in reality she didn't care why the Rougarou had lived, but the change in orders was her actual reason, to which the woman answered almost immediately. Blind Faith was to be questioned. Though Aria was starting to doubt her own doubt, some things should be taken on blind faith. Everything in Aria's life was a contradiction unto itself, and she was the biggest one.

But her question had no bearing on her research. "While I'd like to see it it bears little to do with what I have on my plate."
Aria waved her hands over the mess on her desk. Tehya had not wanted to watch the prior holo, but Aria played another from her wallet. Ascendancy and the murder of a brother. It was self defense but it was proof that Ascendancy was a god.

"I have bigger fish to fry. I'm looking to use all the tools at my disposal. Even ones that the Regus and others like ourselves might frown upon."
Aria paused trying to figure out the right words. "It was possible once upon a time to control the gods. We need to find a way. An army of gods and godlings at our command could be very useful in ending Apolyon's reign."
Tehya listened silently, dark eyes moving to watching the projected video. Little changed in the severity of her expression, and even within her reactions were dampened. A shiver of fear traced the ridges of her spine, and bile scorched the back of her throat. Her arms folded, her moment of wishing for an ally retreating to the seriousness of business. Inside and outside matched in grave and intense sternness. She stared at the space where the hologram had faded, its revelations burned on her retina. It was after a moment shoring up her composure that she turned her attention to Aria, and her proposal.

Tehya found the notion both interesting and disturbing. Aria was a product of control, a tool forged by Atharim hands with very little concern for her humanity, and yet she spoke quite casually of using the same force on others. Of slavery as a useful weapon. The idea scraped raw against Tehya's sense of morality, though she understood the sometimes dismal necessity of reality. Thought she did anyway. Godlings could not be allowed to bring devastation to the world once more, but they were not inherently evil: they deserved their civil rights. Tehya had fought a long time with the conflict of her own hypocrisy and still had no answers, though she had toyed with the same grim ideas. Hearing Aria speak so baldly sickened her stomach, though.

A necessary weapon, perhaps, but such a dangerous one. Which was the lesser evil?

she repeated the word with little inflection, but with the solidity and weight of a heavy burden. If it were even possible, the lines on her face drew deeper. She didn't shy from the furia's green gaze, though the woman probably sensed more of Tehya than anyone outside her blood family. "People born with gifts, whatever those gifts might be, do not deserve to die. Not for what they are, but sometimes for what they become. No single man -- no single authority-- should have control absolute. The Atharim guard a balance. That is what I believe."

It was testament to her inner conflict that she outlined her ethos, burnt through with a loyal ardency. She wished Aria to know clearly where she stood, and perhaps also by speaking it aloud she reconfirmed her own desire to be a good and moral person. Perhaps her Dustu would hear the words. Perhaps she would live up to them. "I will help."
Though on her own terms. She agreed with the sentiment, but she sought balance rather than control. An army of gods? Spirits, what might that result in the wrong hands?
Aria sensed more than she heard. It was always a strange thing. But her statement did ring true. Balance was key. Before yesterday she had notions of what should be done, and why they should. But now, after Dane and the reporter she wasn't sure if those plans had been correct, at least not the reason why. People like Giovanni and Jensen and her savior didn't deserve to die. But was it worth saving them? She knew it was right.

When Tehya said she'd help Aria smiled, the first real smile since she'd met the woman. "That's good to hear. Control doesn't have to be forced."
She went with her original plan. It was far better than actually having that control. "A willing army is far better than a forced one. The appearance of forced control to prevent those friendly from finding a place against us."
Aria hoped that she'd understand. A captured army was not good, a willing one, fighting the same fight, it was far better than making someone do something. She knew that far to well.

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