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Bait and Hook
Jacinda quirked an eyebrow in amusement at the guy's tone. The questions were all business. But the barely constrained fury in his voice had disappeared almost instantly. Yeah yeah, the woman was gorgeous. So it could be as simple as him wanting to get into her pants. Or more accurately, wanting to peel her out of them. Jacinda had felt that momentary pull too, before punching her in the I. I may be delicate, but I can punch a bitch!. Hah! Right. Her delicate? Anyway. But he seemed to know her, too. She assumed she was Atharim as well. Maybe another Inquisitor.

Ten seemed tense and Jacinda smiled at her reassuringly before looking back at the guy's eyes in the mirror. She was being protective, just as she had been back when she was healing up. Jacinda figured she might as well do what she could to smooth things over from before, now that everyone had calmed down. She spoke up from the back seat. "I don't think he worked in a team. Well, he has a sister. Not sure where she's at. Or whether she came with him..." She trailed off. She felt oddly about that. He has a sister out there. She looked at Ten. Tenzin was her sister. She had a bond with someone.

A sliver of guilt wormed in her gut. Yeah, that was something she didn't want to think about. Like what Regan was? You sure hid from that for as long as possible, a voice said. She wasn't accustomed to facing things unpleasant. She had played a role in killing people who really hadn't done anything wrong because they were reborn gods. Or carried the genes. And yet...Hell, Nox was a god, but from the limited file she had seen, he had still kept hunting the true threats- Rakshasas and Oni and Rougs. Regan was fully human. And fully a monster, said that voice in her head- it had started up about the time she had met Tenzin.

Did that go the other way too? Could a god be a good person despite their power?

She realized she had been silent. "His file is not big. You know, we don't really do a whole lot of reporting. So no, I don't know if he had a partner. He was alone when we caught up to him." She remembered his use of the power even as he seemed to melt- FUCK! Wrong choice of words! She had seen someone melt before. She didn't know why he kept coming up, now. It was messing with her. Like all these places she had all closed up tight had been opened and exposed. Knots she had tied around her emotions unraveling.

Perhaps in mercy, she felt a slight pain in her shoulder where she had been stitched up that night. It helped. "Honestly, we threw everything we had at him. Granted, two of the Atharim with us were fucking morons. Mabye if we had more competent people it might have made a difference...maybe. We surprised him with a ruse. Tried to use the new god-weapons Regus had gotten us. Potent. But..." She paused, looking at Ten.

Still, just because her feelings about preemptively killing gods might be changing, that didn't mean that some didn't need to be put down. She just wasn't sure Nox was on that list. She damn sure knew the girl wasn't, no matter what she was. A girl- she was what, 12 maybe?- was innocent. Like me. All thought fled and she had to pause to catch her breath. It was like a punch in the stomach. She tried to regain her composure. She pursed her lips, and, looking at Ten, made a decision. She'd tell Tenzin the whole story. The thought terrified her. Not because of how she might react. She knew her well enough to know that.

No. But telling made it real. Made it something to experience all over again, to relive it. She breathed deeply, seeking peace. It came to her after a moment. She'd lived through it once and survived. She could do it again. Maybe talking would release this burden she had carried for all these years. Help get her out of this uncertainty. She hoped.

Still, the fact was, there were times when a god had to be put down- Brandon/Apollyon was one. Regus had died in the effort. An idea formed in her mind. She would share that with Ten as well. Because she had an idea about what kind of attacks would work. Similar to what they tried, but more overwhelming and instantaneous. Not something she would share with the Inquisitor or his girlfriend, though. She didn't trust them.
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These people were crazy. Talking about Nox like he was some sort of criminal? Kali didn't want to interrupt and blow whatever it was that kept her inside this van. Were these the people that the Ascendancy spoke of? What had he called them? They killed people for things they could do. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all. Maybe she should get out. But Kali didn't back down from a challenge, and what better challenge than this. She would need more information. And this was already proving to be an interesting evening.

Thankfully the blood had stopped pouring from her nose and she could look at the man driving through Moscow. He was following all the speed laws and street signs. Stopping at red, he was the perfect driver, and yet she felt the immediacy of his actions. He felt anxious, uneasy as the woman spoke. Kali wished she could read the thoughts instead of just the emotions.

The two women behind her were wary and that was good, Kali wished she could reach back and calm them. Things would go so much simiplar if everyone was calm.
Jer had read Durante's file - many times over and Jacinda new even less than he did when it came to his acquaintances. "He had a partner, she's missing. His sister is missing as well. Neither of the women have been seen in several weeks. Aria Picollo's last reported mission was when we lost our beloved Regus and Metatron" Jer didn't mention that Martin had been High Inquisitor before that, his boss and his friend. High Inquisitor was not common knowledge. "But her card was reported at several safe houses after the fall of the Bacarratt Mansion headquarters." That was such a loss. "And Aurora Durante hasn't been seen her last appearance at the Baccaratt Mansion." And even that had been short lived, the girl was into books and had only visited the library before leaving.

"Up until recently he's been working with Dorian Vega, rich family, and formerly Atharim CCDPDD Detective. We don't know why the man chose the gods over us, but there is a reason and after Durante is taken down, I'll focus on the other traitors among us."

Jer went on. "He has a hacker on his side, as I mentioned before. Tracking him has been hell since he left the Vega estate. Other than everyone went their own ways is the only indication that something bad went down. He's alone, on the run."

The university was in sight and he still had no plan. No real means of bringing Durante down. There were too many civilian's here. And he had a hot head for a companion. He'd read Martin's reports on her. Good hunter, but not good at team work. The other woman was an unknown. The lens he wore snapped a picture and he'd look her up the next moment he got. But for now he trusted that she was Atharim. Unlike Kali who sat quietly at his side, her hand on his leg he was keenly aware of. But everything was alright every time he looked at her wondering why she was here. Why he had allowed a civilian in the van with him. Every time it felt alright.

Jer laughed at the use of these god killing weapons. "That turned out well, he knew how to protect himself from your weapons. Meager maybe if you thought he was dead, but still he had means of thwarting the attempt. A unseen bullet to the brain from a distance is far more effective. We've been killing gods without evening the odds. How many civilians can you hurt with these things while trying to kill one god? Sonic and Microwave weapons that peirce through walls unseen. How many people did you hurt in the process while trying to take down Durante?" He wanted to be angry but he couldn't feel anything but peace. It was stupid to hunt gods with weapons of mass destruction. You don't nuke a village for one man.
Her question remained unanswered, and Tenzin did not voice it again. Unless the Athari were fractured even more greatly than she believed, she did not understand how there could not be useful contacts in the hospital itself. Left unchecked the spirit-possessed always grew Sick, and here in the cities most would find themselves in hospitals such as this one: an obvious place to ensure the Athari maintained a solid presence. If a killing must be done, at least it had the chance to be peaceful there. When the fevers grew so bad the soul waned, even in Ladakh it was considered a necessary mercy to hasten the path to the last sleep.

Jacinda smelled of prickly emotions beside her, but for now Tenzin placed that turmoil from her mind. There would be time to nose those secrets out in the privacy of pack, if Jacinda so wished, but that time was not now or here.

“Lots of words to say not very much,” she grumbled. “Team works poor with devils swallowed inside. One enemy. Making more for sake of pride.” She shook her head. Translation failed her and her lip curled with the frustration. Fighting amongst themselves only bred dissention when they needed to work together, and she was growing tired of the little nips. She meant the inquisitor’s bait aimed clearly at Jacinda’s methods, but it was apt for wider meaning. The Athari simply couldn’t function while it turned inwards, biting at its own flesh while around them the times changed and Apollyon loomed over all. How he must laugh at the squeal of what had once been such a fearsome enemy. The Spirits could not be eradicated -- they simply were -- and she knew no way to cease the possessions. These men and women were the most equipped of all to fight the darkness of the world, given the right temperance and training. Likely they would prove to be the only ones capable of regulating their own.

Tenzin leaned to squeeze Jacinda’s knee, hoping to temper any snap tempted forth by the snarl of a poor leader, though she did not look at her. She was a natural mediator, but when she caught the scent of a hunt she was also singularly minded. She watched the inquisitor a moment longer in the rearview before her dark gaze turned to the woman alongside. She was here for a reason, and she was making every effort to maintain the control of her touch, yet they were still headed for the hospital. The direction suited her then, but what did she want?

“Knows Jacinda’s face. Not mine. Rākṣasa hatyārā have no use of ‘files’ in the mountains of my home. His hacker will not know me either. Small advantage, maybe,” she said. By the Athari’s practises the inquisitor was in charge here. Whatever her reservations about his capabilities, she deferred to that and allowed him another chance to prove himself capable of leading them. Sadly she suspected that without the sentient’s touch he would not be keeping his temper even half so well. It was useful for now, but with the hospital within sight now Tenzin would not risk any of the lives in this van for an unknown. “Why do you look for Nox Durante?” she asked the woman. “And will he know your face too?”
Jacinda watched the Inquisitor in the rear view as Ten spoke, letting it take away some of her stress. Always cut to the heart of things, the girl did. She struggled to get her thoughts out in English. But what she said was pretty much always spot on.

And she was right. The gods were here. And they needed to be united. But Regus was gone. When she worked in America, they didn't need much direction. They pretty much worked independently, only occasionally forming a larger hunting party for larger packs. Any gods they took out were usually untrained and weak.

That time had passed. Apollyon was here, as were others like Nox. All strong and well practiced. There had been two Archangels, two Atharim, and the squints and they had still failed against Nox. She was reminded of how hunts of large prey were done in cave man times or whatever you called it. Going up against a Mastadon or something like required coordinated attacks. And those creatures couldn't reach out and magically kill you from a distance, either.

She felt Ten's reassuring hand on her knee and smiled appreciatively. She took her hand with a soft squeeze. They were both rough. The life of a hunter. It felt nice to have this kind of contact with someone she could trust. She leaned over and whispered, "I'll be ok. When we get home I have to talk to you." She didn't let go right away, but waited a few moments. It was nice to have a sister. Things were going to be tough. She was glad she was not alone.
Jer sighed. Bringing these women along was probably a bad idea. He didn't know them and he wasn't going to talk Durante out now. But the strange woman had a point. Durante likely new Jacinda, though he was pretty sure he'd never been spotted. "To my knowledge he doesn't know who I am. We've never met. The only one of us he knows is Cross."

"He knows me. We got on well the last time I saw him." Kali interrupted with a pat to Jer's leg. He spared a quick glance down at her hand and brushed it aside. The muffled anger resumed it's fury but to a lesser extent. Something... "I could inquire about him, and let you know if he has company."

Jer shook his head. "You need medical attention. The one without a name asked about why Durante was in the hospital. My intel isn't complete, it didn't come from official channels. I don't need to know why he's there. Unless someone intends to go in there and pose as a doctor and slip him a cocktail he won't wake up from?" Jer looked in the rear view mirror to see their reactions. But that wasn't what he wanted. "I need to talk tot he boy god before he dies. I need to know how far his treacherous ways fall. He's already corrupted one good man. How many others has he influenced?"
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He brushed her aside in an brave act of will power. Though his anger didn't rise to the amounts it had been prior, it still rose. The two women behind her were out of range and she wished it worked without a touch, but it wasn't like that.

She offered to help but he brushed her aside like a child. He didn't care he was telling his secrets, but he was no longer going to abide by the rules of the game. Men were so stubborn. Maybe Durante was more of the player than she thought. But these were also men trained to hunt. Hunt what Kali didn't know. But they both felt like the predators they were, and Kali was drawn to that more so than anything else. Either would do.
“Okay,” she said, and for that brief moment Jacinda held the promise of her full attention. A second later and her dark eyes returned to the Inquisitor. She cared more for the girl tangled up in this mess than the Atharim boy she suspected could take care of himself. Even the sentient was likely capable of protecting herself when she needed to. Tenzin waited patiently for an indication of what he wished them to do, but no instruction was forthcoming. 

She adhered to hierarchy out of instinct, and a kernel of frustration swelled for the directionless position he left them in. Perhaps the woman’s touch had addled more than the cage of his temper. “The one without name would tell if asked. Did not offer, either, you know.” The words were even. Mostly.

“Will take her inside for ‘medical attention’, yes? Wait here. Find out what I can. This will suffice?”

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