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Flipped-Turned Upside Down
Now, this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down

The world just went to hell in a hand basket. The Ascendancy had just declared magic a real honest-to-god thing. Gods were real. Magic was real. And to top it off he told the world of the men and women hunting these poor unfortunate - or fortunate depending on how you looked at it - souls.

Aria knew that Martin would send her out - send her after Ascendancy to gain the intelligence he could by her death. But what Borovsky didn't know was that she also now worked for the man she was supposed to kill. Her report from Siberia had omitted the one very thing she'd found when she went - the man himself.

She'd killed for him. Aria had killed him because she could be cause she had to for the survivablity of her own life. Lucas was dead. Her life was falling apart. Her father's death had caused even more of a shit storm. More alliances, more problems. And for the first time in her life she had someone to count on - except he wasn't around. But she agreed they needed time apart. Nox's realization and the shit storm they had landed in was only getting worse and worse with each passing day.

Aria missed the haunting comfort of people around her. Hatred welled up inside. Aria didn't want to be normal. But she had to set her own problems aside. Right now, there was a side too choose. And Aria knew that choosing the Atharim was going to get her killed. Life was important to her, even with Lucas dead - she didn't want to die. Not because of some stupid crusade that she didn't really believe in. Ascendancy had done nothing wrong in her eyes. His death was pointless.

So Aria went to the place at the specified time and waited for her contacts to arrive. It was where she'd been hooded before, where she'd been let go with a wallet to contact whatever handler she had in this new world of hers.

It came to no surprise they put a black bag over her head and walked her through so many places that she had no idea which way was left or right. And Aria had tried to figure it all out. But they were good at their job, and Aria was without her own senses. There was nothing but her own anxiety inside.

When they finally removed the hood Aria found herself in a room much like the one she had been in the last time she'd seen the Ascendancy except this time she wasn't cuffed to the table - so there was that amount of trust for now. Aria had no real choice but to wait. Someone would come, but Aria hoped it would be Ascendancy himself. She prayed it wasn't Michael Vellas - he couldn't do much for Nox except bring him down to the dungeon's here and he certainly couldn't help with whatever plan of attack on the Ascendancy's own life to save both their skins and bring down the Atharim. Aria knew in that moment that the prophecy she'd felt only a short few months ago was not about the end of the world - but an end to the Atharim.

Edited by Aria, Jun 23 2016, 02:30 PM.
"What is your assessment of her intent?"
Nikolai's grim question was met with the pressed lips of an advisor standing nearby. The light from the room beyond cast a sickly, pale reflection of both their faces in the two way mirror. The lighting down here was always harsh, as if it had never been updated from the fluorescent bulbs used in the days of the Cold War.

"She seems different but I can't tell how exactly. No. I do not think her intent to be here today is to enact violence. She seems wary. Like a cat sniffing at an escape route." The advisor tucked his glasses into the pocket of his lab coat, squinting over at Nikolai to gauge the Ascendancy's reaction.

Nik felt the old doctor's gaze on the side of his neck, but rather than look over, he waved a hand in dismissal.
"Thank you for the insight."

With that said, Nikolai raised his own defenses anyway by seizing the source of his power and entered the room beyond.

He was dressed as he had been during the press conference, including the sharp points of the Arcus Band along his temples, although, in person, there were more lines etching the corners of his eyes than make up and live video editing had covered on air. He was confident the announcement was the correct course of action, but more than one advisor had posited extreme caution. They were already seeing the repercussions.

"Aria. I must say I am not surprised to see you. How are the Atharim taking the news? I imagine the current Regus is furious. But is he afraid?"

He should be. They pushed him enough times and Nikolai had turned on them.

Aria hadn't been to headquarters yet. It was one of the reasons why she'd send the text. She didn't want to see them before knowing where things stood. Aria was honest with the Ascendancy. "I can't speak for the Regus. I've not been to headquarters yet. Martin Borovsky want's me there now. But I came here first. There are things I need to understand about our arrangement and how far they extend."

Aria frowned. "And the moment I see Martin he's going to insist I come after you full tilt. No more stalling. I'd prefer not to die today."

Aria could go on, but that was probably all that she wanted to say right now. She wanted to disclose the full truth, that likely she was no good to him any longer with her ability on the fritz. She didn't even know if he were holding his power, but she suspected he was. He wasn't the type of man to not make precautions and she was Atharim after all.
"I'd prefer not to die today as well"

He had lived through far too much only to die now.

The Atharim would undoubtedly double their forces against him. They would probably try to discredit his claim about their involvement in so many murders also. But they would fail. People were too grieved and angry to redirect their focus from revenge. This was his answer to ridding himself of this enemy. Use the worlds hate to track them down.

However, the world was still full of monsters and the Atharim had a purpose if they could remember it.

"If you return now, they may or may not give you another chance. You're too valuable to me to risk without good cause. So here is what I propose.

"You will return to Martin and lay down your plan to kill me. You've discovered how to enter this Facility from outside the Kremlin. You've also discovered that the Facility connects to my private living quarters through escape tunnels. Which is true. I have never lived in the Kremlin Palace, but always below ground. You will bring Martin and the Regus, as it will take a force of the three best Atharim to kill me. But no more or you risk your stealth.

"But instead of ambushing me in the only place I am unguarded, I will be waiting. They will die and you will not.

"Because I want you to be the next Regus. On these terms you will order a cease fire against all gods. And fundamentally alter the Atharim's focus back to the monsters of lore.

"Those are my terms. Agreed? Or do you wish to actually try to kill me?"

There was no problem with the plan in and of it self. But Aria could only think why me. Why would he want her to be Regus. She was fairly certain that Ascendancy had no say in that matter. It was a matter of church not the government but who was she to say. Or to be Regus even.

"I have no desire to hurt you much less kill you. I am not stupid either."

Aria new this way would still cause a war with the Atharim. They would not accept Aria's reign. She was a monster. But it would keep Nox safe. And that matter more right now to Aria. Her only family.

"I will agree. But I need to ask Why me?
The second he stepped out of the house he felt......something? Familiar but far away, it was his gift, but he was not using it. She had said there were others, i guess deep inside he never really believed. He thought back to their meeting and the fight, no, he was sure Aria's father hadn't felt this way. Maybe he hadn't wielded this power, yes power was right.

Slowly he let it draw him like a compass pointing north. He gradually meandered thru the city til he noticed, yes.....the Kremlin. He was far away but could tell that was where the power was coming from, muted, like it was buried. A thought entered his head: If I can feel it, so can others!

Stopping at the bakery, to buy some bread, he wondered as close as he dared. In a little park he absent-minded (seemingly) threw small chunks of bread to the birds. His eyes stayed off the Kremlin, he was watching for hunters, even the biggest game hunters used dogs to follow a scent.

Manix knew not if this trip was fruitful, he needed to find Aria. Would she now try to kill him? Could he kill her? Whose damn side was she on?
The way she put it, lacking the desire to hurt let alone kill, caught him off guard. He'd prepared himself for many reactions from Aria, but sincere docility was unsettling. It struck a deep chord. He was never the enemy of ages despite the morbid moniker he donned. Apollyon. Yet here she was expressing the similar desire for peace in the turbulence.

He quickly regained his composure, and stifled the surprise and empathy back to darkness, away from conscious thought.

Why did he pick her. She was the only accessible player on the board. But the truth was too harsh to explain bluntly. He needed to be delicate now.

He spoke gently, releasing the power as he did so to return softness to his expression, "Because I think you dream of what the Atharim should have been rather than what it is."

"Before I killed his son, Wilhelm Ravhid wanted me to be his successor. I only had a few weeks with the Atharim before I fled. But I believe the Regus worked with the Pope in full awareness of one another. The Vatican Historical Society, you know. That means that at some point in history, the Atharim, which predates them, aligned itself with the church. For such an alignment to occur, there must have been a just cause worthy enough for the church's investment."

"You've seen the darkness of both worlds - Athari and the church. I think you despise both. Which is exactly why you will make sure they change. With your .. Abilities ... You can enforce those changes. You're strong. You'll do it because I see it in your eyes."

His gaze fell to Aria's hand. He almost touched her before thinking better of himself. With a touch she could destroy his mind. But it would be a gesture of faith.

But he didn't do it.

"There's also something else. Do you remember at the Datsan I asked you about the hourglass charm? Tell the Regus you found this,"
from a pocket he withdrew the necklace taken at the gravesite and gave it to her, "that it's important to me. Maybe he will know who it represents. I have a feeling that the Atharim have been infiltrated by someone, or something, else. Let as many people around the Regus see you ask about it as possible, and note who takes the most interest."

"But be on your guard. They will kill to protect their secret. Memento Mori."

He dropped the necklace on the table.

"You shouldn't keep them waiting much longer. The agents will make sure you have access back into the Facility and that you three will find my home with just enough resistance to look real."

She was really going to do this. She was going to set the Regus and Martin Borovsky up for their deaths. Instead of hers. She just had to think up a viable excuse to only take those two. Or even come at all. Given the intel she has the Regus could just take it upon himself. She had to make herself valuable enough to listen to and do as she asks.

Aria heard the distinct change in the man's voice. He'd been holding the power. It was much like being in her own bubble. Aria wondered how similar they were - Nox always failed at attaining it no matter how hard she tried to teach him.

What did she think the Atharim were supposed to be? Not hunting humans for the sake of hunting them because they were different. Sentient, Furia, Wolfkin and Reborn gods were all human to most extents. Some went rogue but not everyone of them did. The Atharim shouldn't be judge jury and executioner not to those with human souls. Aria might make the case with Rouguaru or human infected chupakbaras if a cure for either were ever found. And the Atharim are not actively looking for a cure.

Aria wasn't sure if she should be completely honest in this moment. Her ability as he spoke of was on the fritz. Aria wasn't a leader... Aria sighed with her decision "Since we are laying our cards on the table. Two days ago I found my father. I killed him for his actions. A feat Martin Borovsky couldn't even manage or my mother."
Aria could hear the bravado in her own voice. It was bragging. She had that right. And she intended it to be the first words out of her mouth when she spoke with her handler next."Sadly if not for the help of a man like yourself I'd be dead or dying in the tunnels where my father lay in his eternal grave. He healed me, but in his effort he did something else to me. My ability to feel others is muted. Temporarily or permanent I do not know. I just know that it's empty now. I'm empty. I don't know what that changes for you. But know I have the resources to keep the Atharim in check even if they never return. I may not wield your power but loyalty is something just as strong."
She knew Nox would stand by her side. Knew he would protect the new Atharim as Ascendancy saw it.
Strangely, Nikolai was a little speechless as he processed Aria's story.

She killed her father. What was done was done and Nik could care less.

A man healed her. A god was out there that could heal. That was stunning information. The dichotomy between his own utilization of his powers for destruction and damage collided philosophically with the potential to nurture life. He's simply never considered it before.

Finally, Aria's own abilities, whatever they were, furia or empath, were gone.

His jaw tensed as he quickly closed the gap between them and grabbed at her wrist before he changed his mind. Without seizing his own power as a buffer, he was vulnerable to her. Either she would reign down an onslaught of mental control or nothing would happen. He needed to know the truth first hand.

Eyes daring her to do something, he waited.
Before she knew what was happening the Ascendancy had grabbed her wrist and her natural instinct upon such an intrusion was to send fear through her body to the point of contact. Aria could feel the fear welling up inside of her and passing through her hand into Ascendancy. She couldn't feel the fear in him, but she could feel the memory of it sifting through her like a sieve.

Aria gave the man before her a wicked smile. She could toy with the most powerful man alive and it pulled at the darkness at the desire to hurt, and maim and to fall down her own personal rabbit hole. It called to her she wanted to be that person again.

An image flashed in her mind - Lucas looking over her shoulder frowning. Aria felt the well of emotion change to grief and sadness. Loss and longing mingled together and Aria tried to pull away from Ascendancy's grip before he felt what she was feeling. Fear was one thing - her actual emotions was something else.

Aria had no idea if she was hurting the Ascendancy or if it was a mere trickle of her power she couldn't tell with the absence of his emotions. Aria braved the question. "What are you feeling?"

((I sent Asc a PM with the new way Aria's ability works about a week ago. Had no idea it would play out like this lol))

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