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Machiavellianism
#11
It didn't surprise Sage any when Jaxen claimed the deed. Jaxen was a far more dangerous man than anyone gave him credit for. He may be a rich playboy to most but underneath it all, he was a rogue as they came. "He didn't leave. He died. They appointed a new leader." At least that's what Nox and Dorian claimed would happen. The pope himself would choose. Sage didn't know anything more and he didn't have access to the Atharim data any longer, the connection from Nox's phone had been severed - long ago.

But Jaxen's data was more intriguing. "What other things did you find?" Sage grinned. "I'll show you mine if you show me yours." There was a new spark in Sage's eye - the information he didn't possess. He growled. He'd lost everything because of a friend - and himself. He couldn't blame himself though. He hadn't been in his right might. Corruption - like any machine, he'd been corrupted. One bad bit and things went to hell. Sage sighed and slank back into his seat and pressed his side against Aiden's. The information high washed away with the loss of self. He had to start all over again. "Their information is vast and Nox's link cut me off before even a quarter of it was mined." Sage set his mind to rebuilding his crawlers. It was a simple task, and it didn't require his full attention - and this limo ride certainly didn't need his full attention.
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#12
Jaxen only shrugged. “Come on, Aiden. Anything can melt if it’s hot enough. Besides melt was Sage’s word. It’s more like the place burned down.”  A little snap of the fingers sprayed a few sparks just for good measure, but Jaxen had no intention of burning down the limo, so he made sure to track the flare and smother any potential smoke before it took hold on the cushions.

He thought back to that day. Disguising himself as John White, snaking Oriena into the fold. That was some good fun. Can't ask for much more than that.. “I didn’t know what I would find when I got there. The treasure was more of a perk, but any good cult has secrets, and the Atharim is the best cult in the world.” He nodded, rather impressed with himself. “Now, as I said before, a quest is before us, boys. The Atharim have secrets, we are going to dig them up. I’ve always been a bit of a collector, and if anything exists that these records describe, we are all going to be all the better for keeping them from fallin in the wrong hands,” he winked at Sage.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
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#13
The lightly flirtatious comment was not lost on Aiden. He cocked an eyebrow at Sage. Did the man have a thing for three-ways? The eyebrow dropped and Aiden shrugged to himself, letting the comment pass. Besides, if he questioned that now he would be sending nothing but mixed signals on the Nox front. Aiden was clearly reading too much into it. A hard thing not to do after the Rowan debacle.

                “Touché,” Aiden simply said in reply to Jaxen’s initial comments.

                “So, you were just infiltrating them for the fun of it then?” Aiden asked. “You are a crazy bastard, Jaxen Marveet. You’re lucky they can’t detect Channeling. Let’s hope these secrets of treasure pan out in our favor.”

                The city rushed by beyond their window. Aiden idly gazed out to the left side of the limo, taking note of certain landmarks. They were more than halfway to the airport, now. Aiden’s private jet awaited them on the tarmac. They could have easily taken a public airline, first-class to be sure, but then they ran the risk of the Atharim tracking them. Oh, they could still be tracked via private travel, but at least the risk was minimized this way. Besides, Aiden had Sage. If there was any hacking or nefarious communications going on, Aiden had no doubt that Sage would catch and stop it.

                “You never did tell us, Jaxen, what ‘treasures’ we are after. Do you actually know? Will we find the Spear of Lugh or the Cauldron of Ceridwen at the end of this rainbow? Or is this some wild goose chase?”

Russian Dolls and Broken Gods, a new Fantasy novel by best-selling author, Aiden Finnegan, out this December! Preorder online and instore today!
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#14
Aiden cocked an eyebrow at him and the spark died. Sage knew the look. Aiden had it wrong, but the conversation never turned to the misadventure. So a private conversation later - if Aiden remembered. But Jaxen wasn't really interested in sharing. Voxel wasn't exactly a man of the people. He was a selfish self absorbed hacker who played the game because he could. And the real life man wasn't much different - he said so himself. But Sage liked Jaxen, even if Voxel was not his favorite hacker. But then Voxel knew nothing of The Wicked Truth, if he'd still held Phaser he might - but that was dangerous.

They went on about myths and legends and treasures and Sage found himself back in his head. Lost in the ones and zeros as he laid his head down on Aiden's shoulder and let himself drift into the code he was writing. He had a lot to rebuild. The Atharim had eyes and ears everywhere. Their data was pulled from many sources, Jaxen had gotten some data himself. Nox had given Sage access and he didn't dark poke at the locks now that Nox was ex-Atharim. But he could if he really wanted to, but that was the sort of thing that had gotten him into trouble when he was Phaser - he'd lost his reputation because of the thing in his head. He wouldn't let it happen again.

Sage went on the search for a server house he could buy - that might be something he could do. Sage was only half listening to the world outside. He might not even catch his own name in lost in the haze of his own little world.
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#15
The time was right. While Jaxen hoarded secrets like gold, he was willing to share with his co-conspirators. So he offered the information for Aiden to peruse how he wished. “I chose my targets more strategically than it seems. I’ve amassed quite the collection of treasures or had until my father confiscated all of it. Jaxen Marveet isn’t my only identity. Your boyfriend and I go way back,” he licked his lips at Sage. It would plant a seed of doubt in Aiden’s poor, loyal mind. Where a seedling grew, Jaxen would coax into viney chaos if given the chance. Aiden wasn’t ignorant of the flirtatious smirks passing between the two men. It wasn’t entirely fiction, either. Voxel did know Sage and vice versa. They did share secrets, the hint of which was sure to kill Aiden.

He leaned forward, elbows perched on his knees and fingers poised at his lips.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
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#16
Aiden rolled his eyes – only a fraction – at Jaxen’s last comment. Sage had slipped back into his digital comatose and rested his head upon Aiden’s shoulder. Jaxen may or may not have had relations with Aiden’s boyfriend, but it was of little consequence now. At least that’s what Aiden told himself. His face was a calm image of perfection, but his left leg was bouncing up and down like his life depended on it. A nervous tick.

                “You didn’t answer my question, Jaxen; or perhaps you did, and you are telling me you don’t know what exactly we will find,” Aiden said with a shrug. He tried to project an air of ease, but the leg shaking completely ruined the effect, “These other treasures… Were they physical or digital? More relics of the Gods, I assume?”

                And what was this of Jaxen’s father confiscating said treasures? Was the man a trustfund child? Aiden didn’t actually know what Jaxen did for a living. Living off of his parent’s wealth seemed likely, now that the thought had crossed his mind. Aiden couldn’t judge him on that, not completely, Aiden only reached world renown because of the circumstances of his birth. Had his family been poor, well it was very likely that he would still be somewhere in America, struggling to find that big break.

                A sense of unease started to fill Aiden’s gut. Should they really be off on an adventure with this man? Aiden had been blinded by the promise of adventure, but then again, if Sage knew Jaxen, he would have said something. Right?

Russian Dolls and Broken Gods, a new Fantasy novel by best-selling author, Aiden Finnegan, out this December! Preorder online and instore today!
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#17
Sage's search was cut short when Jaxen quipped about going way back. Sage pulled his focus back to the real world with much trouble. He wanted to stay at peace in the void of his own mind, but reality had a bad habit of impinging on his mood. Sage trumped as he resettled against Aiden's shoulder. "Not as far back as you'd like." Sage said with a smile at the end. He didn't know why he was baiting Jaxen. Voxel was dangerous, this real life version of the man he was likely more so.

"Did Daddy take all your toys away?" Sage growled. "That lose can be just as bad as losing a favored pet." Sage's own voice fell in sorrow at his own loss. He had to restart and thus his mood plunged back into the darkness. The problem with being an addict he knew. Sasha had told him one too many times that his flavor of addition was far worse than any drug or drink. Because no one else would understand it. And he'd been without for far too long to let it simply sit and idle while he paid attention to reality. He was in a bad mood. Aiden should leave him home least he spoil all the fun. It's not like Sage wouldn't be keeping tabs on his boyfriend. He wasn't worried about anything Aiden could do with or without him. He'd never been a romantic or a monogamous person before. He could let other... but that too made him grumpy so he sighed. "Does your father still have them, or did he sell them to the highest bidder? We could get them back. I could get them back, Through the proper channels a high end sophisticate looking for treasures I didn't earn myself to be bought price is no object. The funds of course would come from his own coffers... he'd never even know."
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#18
Why did everyone always assume he was lying?

It was probably a good call on their part. He was usually lying. Or, as he preferred to think of it, redirecting. Sage’s offer was decent of him, but Jaxen wasn’t interested in dusty relics. Except maybe the narwhal husk. That thing was still his favorite, after the Emperor’s sword at least. But who wanted a dull old sword when there was something called the Sword of Light.

Just for fun, Jaxen pushed some headlines to Aiden – several years outdated – of his favorite heists. “I only dabble in digital. I prefer hands on.” He waited for recognition to settle. Honestly, this was about his favorite part of any heist, the recognition.

Museums, the Louve, the Tower of London, all the good places. The only place he never tried was the Vatican, but mostly because shiny religious artifacts never interested him.
“The Atharim had lists. I’ve shown you what I had. There were other things in that basement that the Atharim do not want out. I think if you put some of those in the hands of an Ancient, they will piss their pants.”

“What am I after? I have to say I have my heart set on this," he said. “I saw references to maps from the Book of Leinster at Trinity College in Dublin. The lost pages from that same book are said to reveal the origin of the treasures we seek. I think the Atharim took the pages to protect the location of the weapons.”
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
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