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Despite what he proposed to Evelyn, he had no intention of moving out of the Kremlin anytime soon. The fortress was more fortified than ever before. Dominions were always on the grounds. Marcus, Alric, and others were embedded within the government. Beyond channelers, his own task forces, the Zetas, ZARS, and others were on highest alerts. The Kremlin security service operated around the clock. They’d stand one at the foot of his bed if he allowed it. Suffice to say, the Kremlin was impenetrable.

Michael continued to oversee the development of a weapons’ program in the north. Domovoi was taking shape now that it was to be ushered into the Custody of Channeler security. Things were taking shape in the United States, Australia and Africa. China remained elusive, but his focus was yet to turn truly toward the east. However, following his conversation with the Regus, Nikolai knew there was one front that was left unattended. If it wasn’t contained, things could spiral quickly out of control.

He’d been too hard on Nox. He recognized that now. The defensiveness was justified, but Nikolai was capable of identifying talent when it showed itself. In Nox’s case, it was proved three times.

He ordered a message be delivered to the young Atharim channeler. It was not a command, nor was it a rebuke. It was an invitation, one he did not anticipate to be declined, but an invitation none the less. His arrival would be treated with respect, albeit welcome, which was probably an unexpected change of pace compared to his usual treatment at Nik’s hands.

Most unexpected was likely to location he’d requested to meet the Atharim. An off-site event carried him into the city for a highly-publicized appearance featuring the dazzling and powerful Ascendancy. Evening rolled, eventually, and call him superstitious, but he’d always wanted to stop at this graveyard. Twenty-five years in Moscow, and he’d never visited it before.

They were other-worldly places cloaked in grim auras. The oldest ones held the remains of tsarist princes and princesses. Great priests of orthodoxy churches occupied others. Nobility made up the necropolis of the most famous dead. He’d seen all of those before.

The one in which he stood, marveling at tombstones and mausoleums that were themselves works of art, was itself an eternal, gothic monument. The Infidel’s Cemetery was its name. A fitting place for a rogue Atharim to conspire with Apollyon.
The call came from an number Nox didn't recognize, but the Caller ID was unmistakable, 'From the offices of the Ascendancy'. He guessed they wanted you to know exactly who was calling you. The meeting had been a surprise. The location more so. But the meeting had Nox missing cues and just plain scatter brained. Which wasn't good for anyone. He'd told the girls what was going on and they understood completely.

So when he left they were all giggly and wishing him luck. While Nox was just hoping he got out of the encounter alive. Nox didn't dress up - not that he owned anything more than jeans and t-shirts. It was all clean, free of holes - well except the gray hoodie he wore over top it all. The pockets had seen better days, they'd been sewn repeatedly, Nox kept snagging them on door handles. Living inside was obviously rough on his clothes much more so than being a vagabond.

The Infidels Cemetery was an interesting choice of venue. Nox had never been himself. He avoided places where the dead lived. He knew Zombies were real, but the idea of someone reaching up and grabbing his feet freaked him out a lot more than it should. The agents outside the gates let him pass through with a quick pat down and nothing more than a curious glance. Nox had come as unarmed as he possibly could. Not that he carried a gun or weapon other than the lighter in his pocket these days. He really needed to gather up the small innocuous things again - particularly if he intended to enter the tunnels again - which was his plan - soon as he got his life situated again. Dance and hunt, the only two things he was good at.

The Ascendancy stood looking at a particular monument in the grave yard and Nox remembered the first time he'd met him. In a cemetery of sorts - the burial grounds of the monks and Atharim who had attacked the man he was meeting with. He'd dug deep into the ground with weaves Nox enjoyed using now. Feeling the earth was like reliving a memory. Not that he needed to relive any more memories but it was oddly calming. The Ascendancy had done it to find a single pendant in the earth buried long past. The hour glass he'd shown Aria. They never did find out much about it. But then life had a way of distracting them. And now Aria was dead - and he was no longer Atharim. Hunted by his own.

"At least this time the graves aren't covered in snow." Nox said with a smile. "I never expected you to kill me yourself. A bullet to the head is far safer. Not that I'd give you much trouble anyway, specially now that you can just take away my ability to touch the power inside." Nox's hands were in the pockets of his hoodie but he was neither angry or sad, he showed little emotion actually, the power danced just out of reach. Nox said to himself he'd not go down without a fight at least.

"Two things before we do whatever it is you wanted me to come here for. Aria's dead, buried under the streets of the Red Light district." Nox looked down at the ground - it wasn't shame he felt - loss, sadness, maybe. He'd killed his friend, but he was not ashamed of it. "And I wanted to thank you." He raised his gaze to look at the man again. "If I hadn't seen you in Siberia with earth, I might not ever have learned what I have. It was an far more inspiring than the arch to my eyes. So thank you." He had other reasons to thank the Ascendancy, the least of which was for his life, but that was more important - at least to Nox.

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