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Whistling idly, his mind mulling over several different subjects at once Ambrose was on autopilot as he made his way downtown. The paper's office was on the outskirts, giving him plenty of time as he walked the Organization's headquarters to think about a thing before he arrived. It was part of city living that he enjoyed, walking through the streets gave him a unique opportunity to absorb the pulse of the city. Not to mention he was used to walking where he needed to go, no matter the distance he enjoyed using his own two legs to get there. It had been the way his mother had liked to travel and he took after his mother in all things.
Crossing the street at a jog he dodged a couple of oncoming cars and mounted the steps to the tall building, waving his watch at a panel beside the door to gain access. Bypassing the security desk with a flash of his press badge, waving at the guards on duty Ambrose headed for the elevator banks located smack dab in the center of the high rise. The doors slid open and he stepped into, punching in the access code for the top sections of the building. The Organization owned the entire building however the top floors were reserved for those who had proper access of which he was one of them. As the car rose through the building floors the male thought about how far the human race had come and just who had pushed to get them there. All of the updated technology could be attributed to Sariah and the push for distribution had come from Giselle. The moment the fiery blonde had taken over things had changed quickly, building on the mere ideas that had been dreamed up and making them a reality.
His job was to keep it all under wraps and disseminate wrong information and explanations so as to keep the ignorant in bliss. Thus far that had been easy but lately, it was becoming more of an exercise in mass storytelling. The key to a good lie was taking a grain of the truth and building around it, stretching and mutating the rest into a pretty package. In recent weeks, however, something was overtaking the city, spreading through the streets slowly, like a cancer. He couldn't quite put a name to the unease or even put his finger on specific events that attributed to it but it was there. Which meant in order to keep the people calm he was forced to get creative.
Finally, the elevator came to a halt, the doors opening on a quiet hallway, a set of double doors opened wide on a reception desk that was manned by a single young woman. Hands tucked inside the pockets of his jacket Ambrose strolled down the hall, shooting a wink at the brunette who upon seeing him frantically tried to rein him in with entreaties about appointments and not disturbing her boss. Shooting her a charming smile he leaned over the desk to check that Sariah was alone before heading into the blonde's office. Reassuring the secretary that she wouldn't get into any trouble the male knocked twice and entered. Normally he would have made an appointment but this couldn't wait nor was he going to give her time to slide on her armor. He knew she wasn't going to be happy with him; all the more reason for an ambush.
“Knock, knock. Ready or not here I am.” He grinned a crooked smile, hazel eyes dancing as he let himself in. He had found it better to apologize than ask for permission, at least that way he couldn't avoided or shot down.
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Every day felt like a crisis lately. Okay. That was Sariah being dramatic, but she certainly had been feeling the stress that came with running the organization far more in the past few weeks than she had before. It was a combination of things, as it always seemed to be, everything liked to pile up for her and then eventually she would realize that she was struggling under the weight of everything she needed to hold. Still, the ambassador chose to take this role and she reminded herself that she had been through much worse, she could handle the stress of work as long as she still felt like she was making a difference, making progress, that was all she ever wanted to achieve with the work she did every day.
But there really was a lot to think about, she dwelled over it as she leaned against her desk, twirling a pen in her fingers and staring at her laptop screen, of course she wasn’t the only decision maker in the organization, far from it, and she was glad for that, glad for the experience of the council and the fact they were candid and forthcoming when it came to the proposals she suggested. Most of this year’s work had gone into project X, the major development of prison cells that were able to hold the supernatural. It had been going pretty well and after prototypes proved successful they had revealed their intentions to the other ambassadors, that had gone less well but better than she had been expected. Now they were in the place where real testing could begin and everything felt like it was moving at an incredibly fast pace.
Then there were all the strange things happening in the city which were slowly proving themselves to be far more than just coincidences and gave her major flashbacks to all the pain this city had been through in the past 6 or so years. Sariah had been here for all of it, working her way through the organization, feeling everything the city went through as though it was her own pain. Perhaps that’s why she was one of the most hellbent in trying to figure out what was happening to the city they knew and loved. She’d been working long hours, digging the way she knew best, by using the underground web and she had found very little but she was determined to get some answers somewhere. If she could find something, anything, then she would.
She had just fixed her 4th coffee of the day from the little machine she had gotten installed in her office, which had turned out to probably be the best and worst decision she had ever made in her life when she heard some scuffling down the hall. The blonde didn’t pay much attention to it and kept tapping away at her computer, she’d asked for her schedule to be cleared just so she could just get through some of the thoughts spinning in her mind. She wasn’t really sure if it was working exactly but she had managed to get quite a lot done. That was until she was rudely interrupted but a voice who she’d recognize anywhere coming into the room. She rolled her eyes into her laptop before she took a long and exasperated breath.
She didn’t hate Ambrose Griffin, how could she when he was one of the biggest allies and at times he could be quite the stand-up guy. But the obsession with gossip, it drove her to her wits ends and back, she usually had to prepare herself to be around him because he was so full on and a force to be reckoned with. That’s why it didn’t surprise her at all to find him here in her office without a meeting. She pushed back the tendrils of hair that were covering her face and then put on a decent effort of a smile “Why does it not surprise me in the slightest that of all the people to interrupt my afternoon off, it’s you” she laughed slightly “Ambrose, it’s been at least a month since you last put me on the front page, did you find a new muse?” she gave a fake pout and raised her brows “It’s not like you to make a surprise visit though, so” she jerked her chin to imply he should close the door behind him.
Casting a wink at the brunette assistant who was shooting daggers at him as she was bypassed and effectively cut off. Ambrose usually called to make an appointment but not today, today they had serious things that needed to be addressed as quick as possible. These things were usually best delivered by the person committing the act and while he was in no way sorry or contrite about what he had done, he did respect his Ambassador enough to give her a heads up. From the look her assistant shot him as he slipped in the door and shut it behind him the brunette hadn’t forgiven him, the woman was protective when it came to her boss. Admirable but a lost cause when you were working for one of the figureheads in the Eternal City, and even worse when you were working for arguably the most influential among them.
Thankfully the lovely and ever graceful Sariah didn’t become incensed at his presence, instead, she shot at him with sarcasm and thinly veiled disdain. Those were things he could handle, things he expected when he went toe to toe with the Human Ambassador. The blonde was powerful and sassy, smart and elegant, and all kinds of confident, the woman commanded respect wherever she went. It had been Sariah who had contacted him about the job in Evermore and Sariah who had convinced him that the city needed him. Not to mention that he could expand his writing and photographic portfolio exponentially in a job like this, so of course, he hadn’t been able to say no.
“Your afternoon off?” Ambrose snorted, looking around at her office before his hazel eyes rested back on her. “If this is how you spend a day off Lady Bird you need a serious vacation.” He chuckled, shaking his head as he grabbed a chair and spun it around so that he could straddle it while looking at her. “We both know you love my visits. I’m the light of your day.” He flashed her a brilliant grin and waggled his eyebrow as he swung back and forth on the swivel chair, crossing his arms on the backrest and resting his chin on his arms. “Naw, no one inspires me quite like you. You are the fierce and fearless leader of the Organization, no one else could hold a candle to you.”
He was laying it on thick, his tone teasing with a hint of sarcasm and judging by her reaction to his words she wasn’t buying it either. Shrugging he got up and walked around her office idly, “We both know the Supe community loves the gossip and no one garners more attention or throws it off, quite like Ambassador gossip. I mean did you see the numbers from the last Phoenix addition?” He laughed a little, leaning against the window, “When, what was her name…,” Ambrose waved his hands in the air, “Lola, Leanne, Lucy…,” he shook his head as her name escaped him. The Phoenix had all fled from the city following their leader, the head of an insane family who had been nothing but trouble from the moment they had moved in. Thankfully he had caught a very unflattering ass shot of them all flying away and the article accompanying the piece had sold a record number of papers.
He wasn’t just the CEO, he was in charge of keeping the humans ignorant and keeping the Supe community under control. Sometimes that meant giving the real information and sometimes that meant mitigating the fear, and nothing lifted the spirits quite like gossip. “Which brings me to the reason for my visit, or at least one of them.” His lips turned up in another crooked grin as he took out an edition of the morning paper and place it on her desk. Right on the front page was a very good shot of Sariah and Orion, kissing in a tight embrace, “I mean...it’s a really good angle on both of you and the passion is undeniable.” He shrugged, waiting for the blow-up he knew was coming.
Sariah did spend most of her time at work, she had a very important role to fill in the city, in fact, she may be considered the single most powerful ambassador in the city when it came to the pull she had and the contacts at her disposal. That was a lot of pressure and often it led to her putting the weight on herself to work longer hours and harder to keep up with it all. She knew there was only so long she could keep doing that but with a city slowly falling apart she couldn’t afford to be the one who cracked first. Hence why she always kept and calm and level head around those on the council, even when they could get on her last nerve, much like Ambrose.
She rolled her eyes as he spoke about her afternoon off and how she was spending it in the office “Allow me to clarify, my afternoon off from meetings” she spoke, her blue hues lifting to meet his gaze “We both know the leader of the organization doesn’t get a vacation” she spoke with slight disdain, probably why all her predecessors had up and left so rapidly, it was a cursed position which often meant having to put life aside for work. She did quirk a half smile as she watched him take a seat facing the chair the wrong way around “You’re certainly something” she commented with an amused laugh. His sarcastic flattery was definitely in tune with her humor though, she and Ambrose definitely both had a sense of satire when it came to the positions they held in the city.
She raised a suspicious brow from the way he was acting because that made her worry he was here to tell her he had an expose on her, always seemed to have the decency to warn her they were coming in the past but trying to convince him to hold them was nearly impossible. “Yes, you do enjoy your figureheads, becoming an ambassador almost feels like becoming a celebrity” she gave a sarcastic laugh as he spoke about Leona, it was funny that the person who put these people on a pedestal didn’t seem to even know their names. Though she couldn’t say she missed the Phoenixes all that much, caused more harm than good in the city “I think it was the photo that really sold it” she chuckled. Okay, she had read that piece and enjoyed it, he did have a way of spinning his stories to make them entertaining.
She didn’t normally have any issue batting away his usual jests towards her, in fact it was pretty much an expected part of her week lately, all of the council members had their own thoughts and opinions, different interests but Ambrose was by far the more unique, always the one who was loudest when he didn’t agree. Never afraid to put others in their place and call people out for crossed interests. She did respect him for that. Plus there was no way the supernatural secret would stay secret in Evermore without him so she had to play ball with him whether she wanted to or not, same as he had to deal with the organization fighting him on what he could tell people. They butted heads a lot, that was for sure.
As her eyes fell on the picture centered on the newspaper in front of her, her face went white as a sheet and she quite literally wanted to grab it and throw it across the room, her hands even twitched as she felt it but she forced herself back in her chair. “You really have no boundaries do you?” she asked with an unsurprised tone. She was annoyed because while her and Orion had agreed they would go public soon, this wasn’t exactly the way she wanted it to come out and it felt like an invasion of her privacy “So what, you’re here to gloat about your new addition to the collection?” she asked with brows “Or you want something?” she was doing her best to stay calm but it was hard when her personal moment with her boyfriend was the front page of the main newspaper of Evermore.
Ambrose grinned wide at her quippy comebacks, her intelligence and ability to deal with all sorts of people was admirable. Sariah had a certain kind of charm that translated to all kinds of personalities and backgrounds which is what made her perfect for the job. She could even go toe to toe with outspoken hardasses like him, matching his sense of humor and witticism. Not many people could handle or even stomach him, as he had found out early on and accepted. He was someone who liked to walk outside the lines of propriety and had found it necessary when searching for the truth. Journalists didn’t have the luxury of giving in to their own wants or opinions or theories, at least not the good ones. True journalists kept their feelings to themselves and became immune to whims, the gathered the facts from both sides and every angle and wrote the story in a 360-degree viewpoint.
It helped to do just that when he was trying to figure out how best to present a cover-up issue when problems arose. Lately, his strategic and artistic license had been sorely tested as more and more strange things were happening in the city. People were acting out of character, coming up missing, and some had even died mysteriously. All of the occurrences had seemed random at first but the more he investigated the more he was finding a strange pattern that made him seriously concerned. The main complication was that he wasn’t the only one noticing, other people were beginning to ask questions that were centered around an inherent fear of the unknown. Fear led to panic and panic led to violence.
“Well now you could take a vacation, you are the Boss Lady after all. You just don’t want to.” He winked at her, grinning a little wider at what he was considering a compliment. Then again they both knew things would need to settle down a bit before she might consider it. It wasn’t an impossible thing but she would need to be meticulous about when and where. From what he had gathered many of the Ambassadors took short trips, whether for business or pleasure they still managed to take breaks. Even if they were short and sweet. Shrugging at her off-handed comments about his preferred fodder for the masses the male wrinkled his nose with a slight shake of his head. “Honestly I would prefer finding something else to write about. I’ve been trying to garner support for the more common residents of Evermore, did you catch the fluff piece about the bakery that burned down?”
He had been wanting to highlight more of the population, garner support within the City and bring the people together with stories of their neighbors. A local bakery had burned down, an electrical issue had caused a slight explosion that had quickly engulfed the corner shop. The owner had owned the shop since inheriting it from her great grandmother and had been devastated that her inheritance had gone up in flames. Thankfully the community had come together, many people adored the bakery and its sugary confections, and the bakery was being rebuilt with money and material donations. Those were the type of stories he enjoyed writing, using the inspiring stories of perseverance and little acts of heroism to bolster the City’s overall attitude. Unfortunately, the trend hadn’t caught on as of yet, or at least not enough that he could stop chasing after the Ambassadors as much. “I’d like those human interest pieces to gain more traction but it’s an uphill struggle for sure.”
Laughing lightly, Ambrose nodded his head, “Yeah that picture was pretty epic.” The moment he had gotten wind of what the Phoenix were planning he had run across the city to try and get a final interview. Just as he had been pulling up to the mansion they had occupied he had looked up to see some 10 or twelve fiery winging individuals taking flight into the sky. Thankfully for him, he had had his camera ready and the last to leave had been the leader, giving him a great shot of her as she flew off into the distance.
The male had the good grace to lower his gaze, making a face at his shoes while he could feel Sariah’s gaze in the tone of her voice. He had known ahead of time that this meeting was going to be messy, that the head of the Organization was going to be furious with him. He did look up at her, an expression of wounded sensibilities on his face at the implication that he was somehow collecting these pictures for a collection or that he was there to gloat. Rising he paced a bit around the room, “Actually I came here to apologize for that,” he pointed at the photo, “and to let you know we may have another situation on our hands.” Sliding his hands into the pockets of his dockers the male rocked a bit on his feet, shifting his weight from heel to his toes and back. “There was a robbery the other night, of several mom and pop banks with no insurance and only local security, all hit damn near simultaneously. A little strange given there was no evidence or clues left behind and each one was seemingly an inside job. My suspicion is a Diviner, maybe a Valkyr but they usually leave bodies behind. This was too clean.”
Reaching up he scratched at a spot underneath his chin, wondering how best to continue with his news. Finally, he pointed at the issue laying in front of her, “That covered up another quadruple homicide. Another set of four bodies was found, all four stabbed through the heart and arranged in a circle. The fingerprints on each knife match the man standing on each man’s right and the expressions on their faces seemed surprised. Another case of 4 guys standing in a circle and simultaneously stabbing one another through the heart.” He shook his head, wondering how exactly it had happened and why this was the second incident in weeks with the same MO. “I know you don’t like the exposure and think I’m being awful but you gave me this job and I’m trying to do it.”
Well, he wasn’t wrong, technically she was the one in control of the organization and if she said she was leaving for some time, no one would actually have a leg to stand on but there were technicalities and there was what was expected of her. She was always working on some level, always the first one to be woken up and on the scene if an emergency came up, she never really switched off from it all. “Well I’d spend the entire time waiting to see what burned down in my absence” she commented with a shake of her head, until this tension in the city died down, she definitely wasn’t going anywhere. All the strange happenings, people disappearing or doing things they don’t remember, it was alerting every alarm bell she had.
One thing Sariah did make a point to do every day was read Evermore Daily, usually in the afternoon she would get a copy over lunch and just sit and read through most of it, she knew most of the stories in them and what they equated to in the supernatural world. The supernatural version of the paper was much more hard-hitting truth but it also had its moments to be influential. Ambrose definitely knew how to direct a crowd and change opinions with his words. It was admirable but it also made him very dangerous if he wasn’t on your side. “I did, honestly, it was nice to see some good news for one” she commented and pressed her lips together, there wasn’t much of that right now, it was also one crisis after another with no time to breathe in the middle “Unfortunately most people seem more occupied with gossip than the truth” she knew he knew that and that was why he catered to it some, know your audience and all.
“Sometimes I wonder where they ended up and then I just thank my lucky stars it’s no longer here” she commented with a nonchalant shrug of her shoulders, Phoenixes had caused her nothing but headaches in this city, especially the d’Fierro clan who didn’t seem to be able to leave things be. In the end, she and the other ambassadors had been forced to make them leave the city for refusing to sign the peace contract. She hoped she wouldn’t have to repeat that experience “Life has definitely been a little quieter since they left” admittedly, not as much as she’d like but beggars couldn’t always be choosers.
She did find a little satisfaction in the fact that he did avert his gaze when she expressed her dissatisfaction with the story he had decided to run, especially without giving her any choice in the manner. Of course she was mad, since taking this position she knew she’d have to sacrifice some of her privacy and that people would scrutinize her actions and her decisions, she just didn’t think it would be within 48 hours of her deciding to take things public on her own terms. Kinda felt like the foundation she’d been standing on was ripped out from under her and reminded her how little control she had over her life now. She gave a distressed sigh and ran a hand through her hair “It would be great if just once in a while, someone brought some good news to my office” she commented as she pushed her glasses up her nose and listened to him explain his concerns about happenings in the city.
She let out an exasperated sigh as she looked down at the picture of herself and Orion again and then out of reflex just reached out to turn it over so she didn’t have to look at it any longer, or think about all the whispers she was going to hear or the way people were going to look at her. Instead she focused on what he was trying to tell her, it wasn’t the first time she had heard of a case like that and while she was certain police were on the case, she knew this had to be supernatural related “Everything’s getting more frequent, more deaths, more unexplained attacks and behavior” she sighed “None of the other ambassadors have any clue what’s happening, the police are out of their depths here” she hated to say it but “I think we may have assign a task force” she hated having to intervene but things were getting out of control. His words made her sigh “I know, I just hate this city gets to take yet another thing from me”.
She glanced up at him and wet her bottom lip “Stabbing each other to death, it seems like a diviner ritual doesn’t it?” she commented in a wary tone, diviner magic wasn’t her expertise of course but it did seem like a spell of sorts, probably used to gain power “Do we know if any of the victims were linked back to diviner communities?”
Letting out a derisive snort he couldn't say that he blamed her, even going a single state over and having a private jet ready and waiting he could imagine she would be on pins and needles. A city like Evermore was a powder keg with a short fuse sitting in the middle of a room full of constantly burning candles with a gusty storm constantly raging just outside the windows. The slightest draft could send one of the flames dancing in the wrong direction and poof, the whole world could go out in a blaze of glory. It was admirable of Sariah to think that she was the only one who could keep it from happening and thus far her theory had proven correct but how long could that last? Shaking his head Ambrose gave her a pointed look, "You have to take a break at some point. You do no one any good if you burn yourself out trying to keep the fires out."
Letting the subject of her taking a vacation drop the writer gave a crooked grin, immediately pleased that she had read the article he had referred to. It was even more gratifying to know that she had liked it, though she hadn't said those exact words he knew that's what she had meant. They had discussed it all enough to know what she was looking for yet it was hard to explain to someone who didn't understand the in's and it's of public demand. It was one thing to make decisions and not much care or know what others thought about those decisions, he, on the other hand, received direct feedback from his work. If he was going to be effective in his position with the Organization he needed people to keep reading. "Gossip will always be of more interest than the truth, it's a way for people to escape their own problems and jump into the lives of others. To humanize individuals who may seem larger than life and give the average Joe's a chance to say, see….that person is no different than me. They have problems and drama just like me." He shrugged, knowing it was a poor excuse for the human condition but one that was an ingrained part of their DNA all the same. The need to compare as essential as breathing or competing or mating.
"Italy." Ambrose answered almost automatically and then gave a sheepish grin, sliding into a neighboring chair. "I have some contacts that helped me track them. I wanted to know where they were going and where they ended up. They traveled around a bit, hopped around to Ireland and Japan and a few other odd countries. I think they were visiting places that were home to some of the members of their clan before they all ultimately settled in Italy." The male ran a hand through his brunette hair, giving the locks an unruly yet cultured look as he thought back to the last reports he had read from that area. "They settled in a small and little populated area near Vesuvius and thus far have kept to themselves. In any case, they are the Italians problems but from my contacts accounts they are being closely monitored and minding their p's and q's." She hadn't asked but he figured since he had the information he would give it, offer the olive branch to at the very least still show her that he was well and truly on her side.
The male had the good grace to wince at her comment, taking the shot about her privacy and bringing good news like a man. His hazel eyes dropped to the floor, the one time he showed any hesitation or anything near to remorse for doing his job. He respected Sariah and had known the moment he had started writing the article how this was all going to turn out. It was why he hadn't been able to eat anything, his stomach rolling from start to finish and even now he felt nauseous. Swallowing hard he finally looked up at the blonde his expression and voice sober, "I really am sorry Sariah. I wish there had been another way." Clearing throat, not used to the show of emotion or lapse in his confidence or the writer's unyielding search for the truth in all this no matter the cost.
Shaking his head at her question he took out his little notebook and flipped to a bookmarked page, "No. Not that I could find. Diviner rituals are usually wrought with a specific kind of magic and yet this one had both. It was odd all the way around and no one can account for the whys or hows. Even the new Magister is at a loss." He shook his head again at her second question and flipped to the second page of his notebook. "I've dug into the background of all victims. All completely random and not a single one with any sort of connection to any of the others. It was like the killer managed to choose four complete strangers and convince them all to kill each other with seemingly little to no effort at all." He shivered a little and knocked the notebook against his hand, giving her a somber look.
His judgmental look wasn’t missed and she gave him a defeated shake of her head in response, “I know that” she responded honestly, she wasn’t deluding herself into believing she could truly save this city all alone, nor would she want to take all the credit for what was a pretty massive and difficult endeavor “But I also wouldn’t relax knowing the city is in danger” she affirmed with a slight nod of her head “I’m sure you can relate to that on some level” it was arguable that he also didn’t need to be so hands-on with his work and yet he was still very heavily involved by personal choice. She supposed sometimes it was hard for leaders to delegate when they had spent so much of their time and lives on something.
The blonde knew he was right, people always wanted more than reality, they wanted scandal and something to remind them that other people had worse or more complicated lives than them, it was a sad reality but one that they faced pretty much on a daily basis and people like Ambrose were around to cultivate that culture. Thankfully, for the most part, he used that power to do good for the city, ensuring people’s attention remained where they wanted to and generally keeping a sense of calm in the city. “With the work you do, you may as well have majored with psychology” she commented thinking about how he must understand how people work and tick better than the average person, she wouldn’t be surprised if he had done market studies in the past to help contribute to his strategy either “Makes you a pretty amazing strategist though” she praised with a nod of her head, it made him a very vital part of the council and dare she say, even put him ahead of some of the politicians.
She hadn’t expected an actual answer to her pondering so she raised her eyebrows in surprise when he answered it and then followed it up with some more information, she for one was glad to see the back of the Phoenixes, they had always given the city such headaches and in the end they hadn’t been able to put their differences aside for the sake of the collective goal to bring peace to Evermore. “Knowing them, they’ll probably burn down another city there” she commented a little bitterly as she glanced up at him “Sometimes I forget that you quite literally know everything” she commented with a slightly amused gaze, of course, that was exaggerating some but she definitely often found herself taken aback when he had information about something she hadn’t expected “Let’s hope Italy holds their interests” she grumbled as she leaned her head in her hands, she didn’t need that kind of drama in the city again.
She did note the way that he responded to her offhand comment about her privacy, it seemed like she didn’t really have anymore but then she also knew she had signed up for that the moment she accepted the position of organization leader. Still, she was only human and no one liked to feel like they were being watched or constantly scrutinized. She let out a long breath noting that he showed obvious remorse for the move, she got it, she really understood why he had to do what he did and with so much happening in the city right now, distractions were needed more than ever but a part of her still wanted to pout about it having to be her. “Yeah, you and me both” she responded, nodding her head to accept his apology “I don’t mean to snap, part of me is still a 26 girl in her first serious relationship in a very long time, you know” she glanced up at him and grimaced realizing this was getting too personal for her liking she shook her head a little.
It was curious, all these things happening lately that couldn’t be explained, not even by Diviner logic, it was enough to have all of them on edge, especially the Ailward faction who seemed almost terrified of what was happening. That gave the human ambassador cause for concern because in all her time working alongside Ven she had never seen him physically shaken “I don’t like the sound of any of it, I work well with knowns and facts, speculation isn’t my specialty” she grimaced a little as she glanced up at him “A bunch of strangers” she bit her lip in thought and shuddered just thinking about all the dark things that could lead towards “It doesn’t sound far from the accounts I’ve heard about the survivors of the fall of Skye” she hummed in frustration “They’re pretty tight lipped about it all but from what I’ve heard it was the same story, except these weren’t strangers, these were people who knew and loved each other” she swallowed a little as she looked up at him in thought.
Ambrose nodded understanding fully what Sariah meant, as long as there were people dying and some unknown entity cause havoc within the city none of the Ambassador's were going to be taking any time off. Occasionally he heard that one or two would go away on a business trip, recently the Valkyrie had done just that. The writer's sources had found out the road trip had been to track down a couple of young Valkyr rogues and though he hadn't been able to confirm names or deaths, it was assumed the Ambassador had been successful. It was had for the Male to imagine that particular Valkyr being anything but successful, the few times he had been in the same room with Gideon Ashworth the male had oozed competency and a lethal sort of grace. "I gotcha. I just hope you take a break at some point. You deserve one."
Clearing his throat, unused to the show of emotion Ambrose crossed his arms over the back of the chair resting his chin on his arms. It surprised him a bit when she didn't take him over the coals or commence to yelling, instead she complimented him which made the male blush a little. Giving an inelegant snort he found himself speaking before he even realized he had opened his mouth, "You sound like my mom. She always said that writing was second fiddle to my skills of reading people." He grinned with a heavy sigh thinking about those conversations that had led to some odd fight not fights with his dearly departed mother. "I did take a few psychology classes in college but had some differences of opinions with my instructors." Grinning wider at yet another Sariah compliment the male gave a small salute as a thank you, unsure of how to take such praise. The touchy-feely stuff put him in territory that made him uncomfortable and quite frankly he had revealed a little more about himself than he had wanted to. Rubbing his hands together he shrugged, looking anywhere but at her, “Well now, that's why you hired me isn’t it?”
The conversation turned to Italy and the Firebirds, the information that he had been keeping tabs on the departed faction seemed to surprise Sariah. Though he wasn't sure if she was more surprised by him keeping tabs or by the specific information he had on the Phoenix. He had felt it was necessary since they had flown the coop to see where they had ended up and what they were doing abroad, making sure that what trouble they got into was kept far away from Evermore. He grinned through the smile didn't quite reach his eyes, it was one of the facets of his job that he didn't quite like, the digging into certain people's lives and finding out truths that he didn't necessarily care for. "It's one of the reasons you hired me, it's my job." Which was true, it had all been in the job description when the Council had been considering him for the position and though he hadn't been enthusiastic the rest of the job he enjoyed. “I think for now Italy is a welcome distraction and the only place they know they are accepted without being hunted or persecuted. They will mind their p’s and q’s as long as they want peace.”
He didn’t add on that the Italian government was watching the clan closely, having delivered a very clear message that they behave or perish. After the disaster at Vesuvius, it was ignorant to think that Evermore was the only city and government agency that was aware of the Supernatural or that the Council didn’t extend farther than their Colorado city. The Phoenix coven either play nice and kept a low profile or they would have severe casualties on their hands, a fact that Ambrose took considerable solace in knowing. It wasn’t always fun knowing that another country had inherited the problems that had once been their own but at the same time it was a load off their shoulders given what they were now facing.
The tables were then turned and the personal spotlight was once again burning brightly over the blonde, though Ambrose wasn’t quite in the mood to put her under any more scrutiny. Much as people may call him a bottom feeder and believe otherwise he was a man of heart and highly respected Sariah Holloway and everything she was trying to do for the city. He had come to love Evermore and seeing it torn apart was the last thing he wanted, so he was going to do everything in his power to help maintain the situation and do his job. Even if he detested the things he had to do in order to get that job done sometimes, “If it makes you feel any better Valkyrie is one of the good ones. Try as I might, I can’t find a single speck of dirt in the guys' background, so he’s either squeaky clean or damn good at hiding it.” There was a small note of admiration in the male’s voice as he relayed the information, once more avoiding all eye contact in an effort to keep the level of awkward down to a minimum. Thank the gods the conversation went into more comfortable waters after that, steering straight into business which is somewhere he was far more comfortable with.
Nodding his head Ambrose met Sariah’s gaze, his expression serious and sober. This wasn’t his favorite subject to be discussing but then again the gravity of the situation was always what got him. Death and destruction and impending doom never eased not matter how much he may wish for it too. "I heard that it was more than a rumor, much as they may try to keep their own dirty laundry under wraps the bad smells travel." His voice was deadpan, though his teeth chewed on the inside of his lip as he stared off at a point in the distance as his mind worked over the issue at hand. "The Ailward know more than they are letting on and this isn't the time to be bashful or to be keeping information tight to the vest. We all need to be on the same page, family tragedy can be mourned later. The whole city is at stake." He nodded his head, his hazel hues focusing back on his boss lady's face believing what he said firmly but his demeanor was grim and understanding.
“We all deserve one” she responded pretty candidly to his statement, there were a lot of people in this city that gave far more than their fair share of time and energy in the name of protecting peace, a lot of those people didn’t do it because it was even their main job role but because they wanted to help maintain the balance. She laughed when he said she reminded him of his mother, wouldn’t be the first time she’d been called that actually, she had come to terms with her ‘Mom friend’ identity a long time ago. It stemmed from losing her best friend at such a young age she supposed, since then she just had a part of her that always protects others and sees the good in people. Sometimes that made her naive, which is probably why she had run into such trouble with others and probably caused himself more heartache than necessary but it was also why she fought so hard for the city and the people living in it.
“So you learned how to ask people how they feel about things?” she laughed softly and eyed him scrutinizingly for a moment and then shrugged gently “Well technically I invited you to the council because people would be incredibly stupid to overlook your work” she made allies in the city with those she knew had strings to pull and he was definitely one of them. Ambrose had a lot of pull on how people in Evermore saw things, he could sway public opinion with one article alone and that meant having him on side was important to her. She definitely didn't take over the organization without doing the research on who she could rely on. When it came to information and knowing what was happening in the city, Ambrose was someone she could trust to know things others didn’t, she swore it was like he had eyes absolutely everywhere. “Good, I really can’t deal with the headache again” she grumbled with a shake of her head “Managing the distrust in the Niveis and the Celestial’s is more than enough excitement for me” she glanced at him for a moment showing just how ‘exciting’ that was.
The two of them had a certain understanding and had for a while now, didn’t mean she particularly liked his way of working but she knew it was necessary, he was very good at telling the stories the world needed to hear but it was that to him, stories, pieces of news to be shared with the world. Sariah got the feeling he was more interested in the harder-hitting truth pieces but those seemed to be the ones overlooked or glossed over by readers, which had to be pretty frustrating for him considering the effort that must go into fact-finding and presenting pieces. So maybe she went easier on him for this because she understood, besides she knew yelling and screaming about the unfairness of the world wasn’t actually going to achieve anything and would just end up with her feeling frustrated. “I could have told you that” she spoke and raised her brows, she did her own research on people too and she had a whole digital world at her fingertips if she so wished “But it’s nice to know you approve” she grinned a little and shrugged, they both knew the intelligence field well but they both also knew it was easy to make yourself look better than you were too.
His demeanor seemed to change as the focus shifted to business, something they both knew well by now, but the topic at hand wasn’t exactly an easy one, it had a lot of question marks and unknowns, something a math and logic-driven person like her wasn’t exactly comfortable with but she was learning to adapt. Sometimes you had to accept there were things you would never know and move forward in order to keep your sanity intact “They’re doing what they always do and trying to deal with it all inhouse” which she could understand considering they’d lived on an island and run their own community for many centuries “But they need to start understanding that Evermore isn’t the Isle of Skye and their actions have consequences for the whole city” though facing up to the Ailward faction and trying to get information out of them was certainly going to easier said than done, even for someone with decent rapport with them like she did.
“I think we need to start running investigations of our own, I don’t want to be caught 10 steps behind” she nodded as she looked up at him, she could gather information and so could he and she had a few trusted people that came to mind that she could call on for more on the ground methods, she was very much a behind the screen investigator “But I also have to be careful about how much I poke around into other factions because I’m the one who signed the contract” and setting any kind of distrust between factions was definitely going to be counterproductive to their goal.
"After a fashion. I learned how to ask the right questions to get a reaction and how to read those reactions." Ambrose grinned, wiggling his eyebrows as she laughed at his summation of his psychology background which by rights should probably be more extensive given his field but he had never been able to stomach the teachers. His hand went to clutch over his heart, the heel of his hand rubbing at his chest as he adopted a look of mild discomfort and confusion. "You may need to call a doctor, I think that was a third compliment. Either you are having a stroke or I'm dying and you're just being nice to a dying man." He pulled his hand away and repositioned two fingers to check for a pulse, timing the beats to the seconds on his watch, making sure the old ticker was still working. Glancing up he caught an eye roll from those beautiful eyes of hers and gave a wink, chuckling as he settled back in his chair.
"If it would make the headache worth it.....I could give you some dirt on both the Niveis and the Celestial….." Ambrose dangled that carrot out there though part of him was almost positive Sariah wouldn't take that bait. He had spent some time recently changing down a few leads and talking to a few of his contacts only to learn some pretty interesting details about the two newest species that had come to call Evermore home. With mounting tensions, the male took his job even more seriously and had dug up some fascinating little tidbits concerning the movements of key members and the thoughts and feelings of others. "I'll tell you that the Wayfinder may look prim and proper but she has a head for diplomacy and is making some powerful friends and connections. Meanwhile, the Niveis may be a tribe but they aren't as united as they seem."
Ambrose studied Riah for a moment, the slight way her smile change at the mere mention of the other male. That told him all he needed to know and he had no doubt that the computer queen had done her own research. "Oh I do." He winked at her again, "If only we all had our own Valkyrie, our lives would be so much better and the world far safer!" He teased, covering the sincerity with his trademark sass. It was a defensive mechanism he employed often, a surefire way to keep things moving away from getting too real or too focused on things too personal. He'd never admit, even to himself that it kept the loneliness and envy buried down deep.
"Agreed. It's the only way we are going to stay on top of things." Ambrose rose out of the chair and started pacing, it was how he tended to work when he was mulling over a big issue. "Lots of moving parts and hidden agendas, we need ears to the ground and eyes on the sky." Right as he opened his mouth to suggest that she stay out of the investigation at least in the public eye Sariah voiced that very thought making his laugh. "That's what you have me for. I've got dozens of stories going at any one point in time my poking around isn't going to seem odd or out of place. Misdirection at it's best."
She gave a half-smile in response to his words, psychology was an interesting topic, some people swore by it and thought they could use it each and every day while others were convinced it was simply trends and patterns rather than actual understanding of the human mind. “Which is what makes you an absolutely terrifying reporter” she commented with a blank expression, she had to be careful around him because every bit of information he could use and while he was on her side right now, she did fear if there was ever a day he opposed one of her decisions. His dramatic reaction to her compliment made her scrunch up her nose “Well you are getting old now, are those grays I spot?” she raised her brows with a slightly sarcastic expression and shrugged letting the hint of a smile cross her lips.
Sariah wasn’t much for gossip, she didn’t read tabloid-like pieces and she gave very little thought to rumors because usually, they were simply that. Ambrose knew everything about every rumor because that was how his business thrived, she wasn’t even sure that it mattered whether it was true or not as long as it generated public interest. “I’ve met both Ophelia and Anivia in person, I have my own impressions of their factions and none of them are negative” which was her way of politely declining but she was sure he would share what he knew anyway. She pressed her lips together “Ophelia has been attending our meetings for a while and she has a very powerful ally in Gideon Ashworth, no one is going to want to mess with the celestials because of their power though” she could tell Ophelia did what she did to try and protect her kind, she saw the desperate look in her eye on a few occasions. “The Niveis tribe are adapting to the end of a civil war so it doesn’t surprise me that not everyone is on the same page” she blew out a long breath “Tell me do I have any reason to distrust them?” that was all she really needed to know.
She couldn’t stop the amused grin that crossed her lips thanks to his teasing and she rolled her eyes pointedly at him “Unfortunately this one is most definitely spoken for” she spoke it bluntly confirming that he hadn’t been wrong in his expose piece which she was still refusing to look at “But the next time you want to use my love life as a cover story, I’d appreciate at least a 2 hour heads up” she stared at him harshly for a moment, it was basic courtesy for someone you respected and while she didn’t like the idea of having her private life on the front page, she knew it was a necessary evil.
She was glad he agreed with her plan, frankly, she didn’t like the fact that she had to place any doubt at all in others but she wasn’t sure what other choices she had, when people started being tight-lipped you either fought to keep up or you got left behind and as leader of the organization she couldn’t afford to be left behind “You’ve already covered a few of these strange happenings right?” she spoke it softly even though no one could hear them from the office anyway “If I can hook you up with some of my best investigators?” they had to start figuring this out, soon. “I’ll try and stay out of it but, you know what I’m like, knowing things is kinda my specialty” she had served many years as the head of intelligence here after all.
Ambrose laughed out loud in response to her statement, though her facial expression and voice lent to the seriousness with which she delivered that sentiment. It hadn’t been the first time someone had told him as much, with an understanding of psychology and what drove people to act the way they did he was given incite into his stories that most other reports would have missed. The depth of his pieces made people think, not only about the subject but about their own thoughts and feelings revolving around the subject and challenged them to be more. To do more. His perspectives didn’t always garner him friends in the publishing community, most of them preferred writers who adhered to a specific agenda and thus wrote from a one-sided point of view. Ambrose refused to do so and that made him a wild card.
“Never heard it described as terrifying before but I get that sort of attitude a lot.” He shrugged, heaving a heavy sigh as he thought about all the times he had been denied a job or come across a particularly uncomfortable situation because of his morals. His mother had firmly believed that reports had a duty of candor to their readers and as such needed to be completely unbiased when they wrote a story. Writing from both sides and being balanced allowed for the reader to draw their own conclusion which was the point of good reporting. No matter where his career lead him he was going to stick by her code and write the truth from all angles, no matter what.
Snorting the male reached up and ran a hand through his thick hair, rolling his hazel hues for good measure. “Puh-leeese. No matter how old I am this hair will always be dark and luxurious with just a slight hint of distinguished silver. Grey is for decrepit old men with nothing to live for, silver is for handsome foxes with life still left in them.” Realizing what he had just said and the irony in his words he gave her a cocky smile and then laughed. He could have razzed her about her own silver fox but decided against it, he liked to parry words and pass good barbs but he didn’t want to push his luck. Not when Sariah was being so generous despite his indiscretion.
Thankfully the conversation turned to business and gave him a smooth transition to neutral and safe territory. In her own way, his Ambassador declined the offer of the dirt he had one the two other Ambassador’s in question, which made him respect her all the more. Pacing away from her while he listened to her speak Ambrose was sifting through the information he had on the two women in question. Her question to him came as a surprise and he couldn’t hide the expression as it traversed his features. Recovering quickly he paced a bit more before leaning against a desk and crossing his arms, “Not yet. I’m not one to dole out trust easily though and the way the pair have been moving around the power board makes me naturally wary. Ophelia went straight into an alliance with the Valkyr, making them especially dangerous and formidable if my reports are to be believed.”
There had been rumors going around that the Valkyr and the Celestials had found some ancient rite that bound a pair together and made them more powerful. None of the reports as of yet had been substantiated with any hard proof. Though his contacts had always come through with reliable intel Ambrose wasn’t one to believe anything until he had scientific proof or videos or photos. “The Niveis are on shaky ground within their own ranks but they have some powerful players that make Anivia strong in her position.” He shrugged as he looked at Sariah head-on, “Neither have given me a reason to think they are anything but honorable but people reveal their true nature in a crisis. Only time will tell.” Call him a pessimist but the male had been burned too many times when he let his guard down too soon.
Chuckling he held up his hands in surrender, “Promise. 2 hours at least, though I won’t be writing any more articles about your personal life if I can help it.” His grin grew a little bit wider, “There are a few others that I could turn to once the hubbub around you settles, and believe me the public will lose interest.” He’d been in this business a long time and no matter how juicy the scoop the public always lost interest. Once more on task he nodded at her question, his head tilting to the side as he tried to figure out where she was going with her inquiry. When she finally revealed where she was going he grinned and nodded. “I’ll take any help you can send my way, and I’ll keep the reports vague. Last thing you need is a curious mind spilling your involvement all over the front page. I can cover up a lot of things but public intrigue on a crisis this big may be out of my wheelhouse.”
Straightening up he stretched, feeling like they now had a game plan and a heading to follow. “Send me who you want and I’ll put them to work. Meanwhile, I will keep nosing around and send you reports every Friday, if I hit anything big I’ll just come here. I know how much you love having me around.” He shot her a playful wink, hoping that was at least partially true.