Miscalculations [Closed] - Printable Version

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Miscalculations [Closed] - megs - 09-12-2016

[Image: A7mI0v5.png]

RE: Miscalculations - megs - 09-12-2016

Julianna checked her watch. The diamond decorated face of it heralded the time at a quarter to three, which meant her daughter's bus was late. Her ears pressed against the top of her head as she craned her neck to look further down the street. No sight of it. No one to ask since hers was the only child still young enough to be attending the Covenant's school on a bus. Anita usually rode home with her brother, but Cain, who just barely old enough to drive cited other obligations as an excuse. He had informed his parents that morning that his younger sister would have to find an alternative mode of transportation.

Anita had chosen the bus, but Julianna was wishing she had sent her husband to retrieve their daughter.

Five more minutes dragged by in silence; tail curling closer to her spine. She was just reaching into her coat for her cellphone when she heard the rumble of the oncoming yellow monstrosity. Ears and tail relaxed as the bus chugged along, leisurely drawing closer until it wheezed to a stop. The double doors swung open, but no child stepped off of the bus.

"Sorry, Ms. Hart," the driver said, and Jules blinked up at him in confusion. "Didn't see Anita on the bus today. Don't she ride with her brother?"

There was ice in her veins and a desert on her tongue. She swallowed hard but didn't reply, turning and retreating in the direction of the villa. The sound of the bus pulling away was white noise to the background of her racing thoughts. A million awful scenarios all bubbled up at once. Her pace quickened, she pulled her phone into view and checked for any missed calls, any unanswered text messages. She called Anita's phone, the simple one she had for emergencies such as these, but the child didn't answer.

The walk home turned into a run, the short distance made shorter by her urgency. Her heels snapped against the asphalt, coat flapping around her legs, threatening to trip anyone with a worse sense of balance.

She burst through the front door without closing it behind her. She moved further into the house without removing her coat, or her boots. White knuckled fingers held her phone in a vice, still waiting for a call or a text, anything to know that her daughter was safe. Julianna entered her husband's office without knocking, a gesture he would have preferred and she would have normally indulged in other circumstances. She was in a panic. Her typically neat appearance was ruined, and she didn't seem to be getting enough air.

"Anita didn't come home," she said when she was able, pushing hair away from her face with both hands. "She wasn't on the bus," she choked. "I can't get a hold of her."

RE: Miscalculations [Closed] - saronym - 09-13-2016

Owen rolled his eyes to himself when he heard the front door bang open. How many times had he asked the kids not to blast through the fucking door. The door stopper had been beaten to near death by overly excited children, or grumpy children, bursting into the house. He held his Blackberry against his face with his shoulder, while he typed vigorously on his laptop.

“Right. That’s what’s on the manifest. I -” Now his office door was banging open. Owen gazed up over his glasses making an annoyed gesture throwing up his hands in his usual what the fuck manner.

Anger quickly replaced with concern as Owen noted his wife’s disheveled appearance. Jacket askew on her shoulders, hair in her face, and worry marring pretty features. He hung up the phone without another word lowering the device slowly from his face. The phone was abandoned on the desk.

“What do you mean Anita didn’t come home?” Using his desk as a crutch, Owen pushed himself up from the chair. “Where is she? Why didn’t she get on the bus?”

Questions posed as demands. As a Lieutenant General he was used to responding to situations with more information at hand. It was rare that one dared approach him for help or instructions without anticipating all the questions he would ask. Unfortunately, fatherhood wasn’t the same.

The Blackberry vibrated with an incoming call. The person he’d hung up on. Owen dismissed it.

He didn’t wait for Julianna’s to answer before he limped from behind his desk and pushed past her without saying anything further. He didn’t know where he was going he was just moving in a forward direction. He stopped abruptly in the hall. Something dreadful occurred to him. Panic mounted. Had she been taken?

He whirled around and lurched back toward the office nearly upsetting his wife in the hurry. With hands on her shoulders, Owen moved her out of his path and rounded the desk.

The Blackberry was vibrating again, dancing a little jig on the polished wood. Owen dismissed it again. He pulled open a drawer and pulled out a simple flip phone not unlike the one Anita had. It was a burner. He never saved burners. That was a cardinal sin. But he’d been getting strange voicemails. He’d handled death threats, assassination attempts, and more. But something had felt different about these. The voicemails were just details about his life said in a list. His height and weight, the color of Anita’s hair, the make of Cain’s car. Who knew this kind of information? He’d saved the phone for further investigation. Whoever it was leaving the messages might have his youngest child. He felt sick. Should he call the number?

Owen was the one breathing heavily at this point. He became still then. The stillness of a panicked animal. A deer in headlights. Owen looked up from the desk.

“What do we do? She could be anywhere.”

RE: Miscalculations [Closed] - megs - 09-14-2016

"I don’t know," Julianna responded to his questioning with exasperation. He had a process to handling information that usually involved a string of near-rhetorical questions. He pushed past her once, brushing against her as she barely had time to move out of his way. Her ears pressed forward at attention as she watched Owen make his way into the hall, wordlessly; her tail was fluffed up and twitching anxiously behind her head.

She hardly registered the way he maneuvered her to his liking. Physically directing her to where he wanted her to be was a habit that she had grown used to. Useless to fight it, and better to let him have his way overall. His expression worried her. Or rather, the lack there of. Save for the tight knit of his brows his face was a passive mask. She wanted to know what he was thinking, but she also didn't want to know. All of the dark scenarios that had already come to her own mind were nothing compared to the possibilities he could think of.

The only sounds were the Blackberry demanding his attention and him rifling through his desk. One ear fell to the side of her head, confused as she eyed the silver phone in his hand. The kind he wasn't supposed to keep. She'd seen plenty of them tumble out of Covenant supply packages the accompanied his mission dossier. "Why do you have that?" she asked, assuming he had an explanation, with how hardily he tried to keep post-mission paraphernalia out of the house.

He was asking her what to do? Panic had gripped him as well, she could hear it in his breathing. She paused, her mind drawing blanks, ears pressing hard to the crown of her head. He was supposed to know what to do, he was…he was…

He was looking at her, eyes wide and having gone completely still. Anita was his baby girl. "I'll call her school," she suggested, breaking the desperate silence that had fallen between. "You call Cain. I'm sure it's…"

It's fine. She had wanted to say. Didn't get the chance. Was interrupted by the ringing of the silver phone he shouldn't have. She moved closer to his desk, gaze honing in on a phone that shouldn't be ringing.

RE: Miscalculations [Closed] - saronym - 09-15-2016

Owen threw up his hands again in frustration his panic was bleeding into anger at his wife. Not because she was blameworthy but because she was the nearest target. He liked control and when things didn’t go his way, his mood could unravel quickly. It didn’t matter who was in the pathway of the coming storm.

“You know what it’s for, Julianna. Work.” It wasn’t exactly a lie. But the defensive way he said it suggested that the burner was for more than just for work. It also didn’t answer why he felt the need to get this phone out at that particular moment. But Julianna, as ever, was on a need-to-know basis.

Their eyes met in silence. His flicked back and forth focusing on each of hers in turn. She was more frazzled than before, ears pinned to her head like a frightened kitten. She was looking to him to comfort her and here he was making her even more nervous. He knew better than to panic, it wasn’t helping anyone. Least of all Anita.

“Fine.” He finished the sentence for her, knowing well what she wanted to say. What she needed to hear. With his free hand, Owen straightened Julianna’s jacket on her shoulder. He cupped the side of her neck, thumb lining her jaw. “It’ll be fine, love.” He reassured even as the dreaded ‘work’ phone was lighting up with life. His hand fell away from her.

He couldn’t mask the look of surprise on his face. Of course. Worst fears confirmed. This was it. Someone had taken her. He snapped back to attention, in full flight or fight mode. Mostly fight.

“Just - call the school.” He ordered. He hoped she would comply which would distract her while he handled the mysterious phone call.

He quickly opened a recording and tracking program on his computer that Renton had taught him to use. Not that the tracking would be particularly useful if the other user was on a mobile phone as they didn’t necessarily consistently ping the cell tower nearest their location. But if it pinged a tower, any tower, in the city, well, that would be a small measure of comfort.

He was back in the desk drawer trying to find the right cord. He couldn’t afford to wait out anymore rings lest the other party hang up.

“Lieutenant General Hart.” He would never under normal circumstances answer a burner in that manner. But he knew that they already knew who he was - heck, they probably knew his body composition - and he felt the need to remind whoever was fucking with him that he was a man with a transnational military at his fingertips.

He found the wiring needed and plugged it into the phone connecting it to the computer. Owen frowned at the program running hoping the call would last long enough to produce some useful data. Julianna was all but forgotten in the moment.

RE: Miscalculations [Closed] - megs - 09-15-2016

Owen snapped at her. She knew this stemmed from his need to be in control, but that didn't mean she had to like it. And she didn't. Her eyes narrowed at him almost imperceptibly as she cocked her head a touch to the side, trail bristling behind her head. He was also keeping something from her. Her ears stood at attention when he finished her sentence for her. He was trying to help, and she wished she didn't know him so well as to be able to tell when he was just saying what she wanted to hear.

She rolled her eyes upwards as he started to fix her coat, focusing on the hard line of his mouth; she knew it was another gesture for his benefit. It wasn't until he touched her, skin against skin, that she dropped her gaze and the tension she'd been holding in her shoulders. His reassurance was softer this time, and a breath she didn't know she had been holding fell outwards in a sigh.

Julianna stepped away from him. Just be anywhere else, was the unspoken order he was giving when he told her to call the school. Another secret, another problem, another threat, always tied to the Covenant. Had he not already been back at his desk, had he not already switched focus and forgotten about her she would have questioned him.

She did not often question him.

But this was their daughter.

Instead, she left him to his office. To his mysterious phone call. She closed the door behind her.

"Lieutenant General Hart," the person on the other end of the line repeated in lieu of a greeting. The speaker was masked by a voice changer, their position untraceable due to a scrambler, but they didn't bother to point those things out. He would discover the expert way they hid their steps. They were in a public place, the sounds of a busy street side could be heard in the background.

"Anita's wearing a sundress with yellow daisies on it, today," they informed him as if he wasn't already aware. "There are matching ribbons in her hair. And apparently, Anita's favorite flavor of ice cream is strawberry. Say hi to daddy, Anita." The harsh sound of the phone being rustled around could be heard, just before a jovial and excited 'hi, daddy!' filtered across the the line. The same rustling sound, more movement, and Anita's captor was back.

"You really should have reviewed stranger danger with your children, Lieutenant General."

RE: Miscalculations [Closed] - saronym - 09-15-2016

The program read a spastic signal pinging cell towers all over in rapid succession. Owen slapped the laptop closed in frustration. He knew he wasn’t dealing with an amateur but even experienced operatives made mistakes. He was case and point at this particular moment. Which didn’t sit well with him.

He unplugged the phone from the computer, there was no point in the program anymore. He paced in front of his desk while listening to the voice on the other end taunting him. The scrambler gave it a kind of surreal quality like he was speaking to someone from another world.

He clutched the phone to his face when his daughter chimed in. “Hi Anita.” He replied cheerfully to his daughter as if nothing was amiss. He didn’t have a chance to say anything further.

Good move. Put the kid on as proof. At least the child wasn’t panicked. She was happily eating icecream. They had to still be in the city. He was trying to imagine someone approaching Anita. Though she was a naive child they would had to have put on a friendly face. They would have been presentable and unassuming to go unnoticed by any school teachers milling around while the children found their parents or buses.

There wasn't much to go on but his assumptions.

“Yes, well, children born to powerful men and women need not to fear strangers. Generally speaking. Although, apparently, there are exceptions to that rule.”

He fell silent for a moment straining to hear background noises for a few more heartbeats.

“You know, if I’d have known there would have been strawberry ice cream involved I would have just let you kidnap me. All you have to do is ask nicely. At any rate, I have some ground rules. I require that my daughter not be harmed and to continue to experience this transaction as an afternoon venture with one of daddy’s friends. There will be consequences for deviance. Now, let’s hear your demands then. Get on with the extorting, I’m a busy man”

Owen didn’t have many cards to play, other than to sound unimpressed, unamused, and willing to cooperate. He waited to see what hand he'd be dealt.

RE: Miscalculations [Closed] - megs - 09-17-2016

Some mysterious terrorist she was, kidnapping children and feeding them ice cream. Katanya watched said child shove enormous spoonfuls of the pink desert into her tiny mouth, passively from behind dark sunglasses. Anita had caved under little coaxing. A friend of her father's that wanted to take her for a treat was apparently wildly believable to the little girl. So used to the Covenant, and it's associates, Anita hadn't even redacted to the gun in her shoulder holster. Currently, they looked as if they sat alone on the patio of an adorable ice cream parlor in Winter Heights. A small wrought iron table, painted white with matching chairs. All the while, Katanya knew her associates were near enough if she needed assistance.

Daddy had so many friends after all.

"I do enjoy being a rule breaker," she replied, unable to resist a smug smile to match the tone of her voice. She didn't know if it would carry with the voice changers. That Owen considered himself so powerful was part of the reason he was in this predicament. He was trying to threaten her with the Covenant, as if they would be able to help him.

As if she found the organization threatening.

"There will be consequences for deviance," she echoed, slowly. Hoping he would at least be able to hear how ridiculous he sounded. Standing, she paced the short distance between her shared table and another empty one close by. When she continued to speaking she switched to using German, knowing he would understand and not wanting to be eavesdropped on. «I don’t think you're in the position to be making the demands Agent Hart,» she reminded him.

Katanya glanced over her shoulder at Anita, strawberry ice cream coating her face, legs and tail swinging back and forth where they hung over the chair. Dangerously close to finishing her dessert and making it so Katanya had to find something else to do with her.

«When I hang up you will be sent a set of coordinates. You will be at those coordinates at oh-twenty two hundred hours, and you will come alone. You won't tell anyone where you are going. Disobey any of these conditions and I will start with Anita.» It sounded much more threatening when she said it. Looking down at her watch Katanya smiled.

As much as she would love to continue to verbally terrorize him, she did not have the time. «Clock's ticking Agent Hart. See you soon.»

The line went dead.

RE: Miscalculations [Closed] - saronym - 09-18-2016

Owen knew when he was being mocked, voice scrambler or no. “Yes. There will.” He doubled down on his promise to enforce his threats of consequences.

Well now Owen knew two things about the other person on the line. They were at least bilingual, now switching easily into German. And they were keen on keeping Anita oblivious, which was what Owen wanted. They wouldn’t have switched to German if they didn’t care to conceal their intent from Anita, or any passers-by, for that matter. For now Anita seemed safe. As safe as one could be in the hands of a kidnapper.

He found no reason to indulge them by switching to German. They were already dictating too much. He kept it to English but only had a chance to say, “That’s not how this is going to work - you will return Anita - “ he was going to finish with ‘without harming her,’ but the line went dead.

Owen cussed, yelling, “Fuck!” and picked up the nearest object - a stapler - and threw it blindly in a fit of rage. The poor stapler flew into the bookshelf across the room opening upon impact and rained down links of staples onto the carpet as it fell. It wasn’t enough. Owen kicked the desk chair, flipping it onto its back. He wasn’t thinking about all the noise he was making and whether it would alarm Julianna. He wasn’t thinking yet. Freaking out was the prequel to his thinking process. He needed an outlet for the panic. To release the nervous energy before he could calmly assess what to do. Nevermind anything else.

He felt a little better after battering the stapler and chair. His thoughts were flying. Did they not know how a ransom worked? There were ground rules, negotiations, agreements. It was supposed to be neat and tidy. Ransoms, blackmail, extortion. It wasn’t fun, but they were manageable. Deals could be struck. He'd done it so many times. It was supposed to be simple. They hadn’t made any real demands. Money? Intel? Weapons? What did they want? Maybe they just didn’t care how these things were supposed to go. Which worried Owen. It felt….personal.

In fact, he only demand they made was for - him. So, he was the price, then? Fine. Come alone? The fucking fool, did they think he was an idiot? That would be like showing up to a gunfight armed with a spork.

Owen picked up his Blackberry. Flipping through his recent contacts he found the Major General, his right hand. “Come on Katanya you better take my fucking call.” He was saying as it rang.

RE: Miscalculations [Closed] - megs - 09-18-2016

Katanya laughed to herself, shoulders shaking with the effort as the burner flipped closed. She had worked with Lieutenant General for years, since before she was the Major General. Since before he was the Major General. No one responded well to threats, but Owen had his own special way of overreacting. Wishing she could see the panicked way he was behaving, she decided to let him stew for a while, and would send the coordinates in an hour or so.

Smiling at Anita, she held out a hand for the little girl's. She accepted too easily, giddy and excited for whatever their next adventure would be.

Her Covenant-issued phone started ringing as she was buckling Anita into the back seat of her nondescript SUV. Slamming the door shut, she walked towards the driver's side as she accepted Owen's call. "Yes, sir," she said, sounding very official. She couldn’t help but to smirk; usually she was better about keeping her emotions off her face. He couldn’t even follow simple instructions when his family's lives were in danger. Luckily, she had accounted for this. His blatant need to control a situation.

They'd see which one of them was the fool.

Julianna heard the commotion from the kitchen. She hadn't called the school like he'd instructed, sensing that the gesture would have been useless. She didn't want to be distracted, she wanted to be in the loop. Instead she had leaned against the counter and wrung her hands together. She waited outside the door until the burst of rage seemed to die down. The barrier opened slowly and she peeked her head around the small opening she had made for herself. He was on the phone again, already, but she could see the tension in his shoulders. Moving inside the room, she closed the door and waited for him to finish. To acknowledge her. To tell her what was going on. Her heart was beating in her chest, pounding in her hears. They were still pressed to the crown of her head, tail twitching agitated.

She heard him curse his Major General, and it was all she needed to hear to know that the situation was a terrible as she thought. Where was their daughter? Was she safe? She had a million questions. She didn't want to be patient, but she knew pressing him for information wouldn't get her what she wanted.

RE: Miscalculations [Closed] - saronym - 09-20-2016

Owen barely registered when Julianna entered his office again. Movement on his periphery in the shape of his wife. A mental note to keep his voice under control for her benefit.

“It’s me.” Was the only way Owen announced himself to Katanya anymore, she’d heard his voice for years. He heard the sound of traffic passing by on the line. “What are you doing? Wait. Nevermind.” He was waving his hand in the air, even though Katanya couldn’t see him. “I don’t care. Stop whatever it is.” Short terse sentences, his Lieutenant General way of speaking.

“There’s an emergency.” Owen turned at gazed guiltily at his wife, brows knit together, sorry he hadn't come to her first. And here she was finding out this way. It couldn’t be helped now. “An evolving hostage situation.” There was the key word. Hostage. “Unknown hostile. At least savvy enough to use a GPS and voice scrambler. I do have reason believe they are in the city somewhere. They have Anita.”

He broke eye contact with Julianna to bend over and right his chair. He sunk down into it leather creaking under his weight. Palm out, Owen gestured with his fingers for Julianna to come to him. He then picked up his pen and clicked it rapidly with his thumb over and over.

“Assemble a strike team. Keep it quiet. Just you, me and, the usual suspects. Get this - this fucker apparently doesn’t know how a ransom works. Gave no demands. Can you believe that fucking shit? So let's get that new psych ops negotiator on stand by. And a Medevac chopper. You follow?” He almost cringed requesting the Medevac given the assumption. That someone would be hurt.

He waited for her affirmative and any questions before continuing with his instructions. Owen had been told he had a had a bad habit of spewing a string of demands faster than anybody could be reasonably expected to follow along.

RE: Miscalculations [Closed] - megs - 09-22-2016

Luckily for him, she wasn't too busy at the moment.

Katanya cursed emphatically when Owen revealed that his mystery deviant had Anita. She could be a convincing actress when she needed to be. Leaning against her car she pulled a stick of gum from one of her pockets. It was the fruity kind that was too big for your mouth at first, but let you blow awesome bubbles. She watched pedestrians pass on the sidewalk as Owen rattled off instructions. Katanya was dressed in the day-to-day CTN officer's garb. Black and bright green, and somehow, still menacing. The look of it made people leave her alone; most civilians did not want to go toe-to-toe with the Covenant.

Blowing a bubble with her gum, the Major General looked over her shoulder to make sure Anita was still occupied. "I follow," she reassured, summarizing and rattling his instructions back to him.

"They didn't ask for anything?" she pressed, even though she already knew the answer. Her plan was delicate from this moment. Asking, or failing to ask, the wrong questions, could make the whole thing unravel. She blew another bubble with her gum.

Julianna's breath caught when he looked at her; she stared back at his near apologetic gaze. At his beckoning, she approached his desk. It felt like there was a vice around her heart that tightened with every word Owen spoke into the phone. They have Anita. That one damning phrase kept playing in her head. The final nail in the coffin that verified her worst fears. Someone had taken their daughter to get to him.

Stopping beside Owen, she leaned against his desk, ears pressed flat to the crown of her head. She resisted pawing at his hands to stop the clicking; he had his own ways of coping. He was still talking to Katanya, so Jules kept pretending to patient and didn't interrupt him. Her tail flicked in anticipation, his new orders threatening a spill of tears.

"No demands?" she repeated, voice pitching higher and forgetting to be patient. "W-what are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to get her back. What's going to happen to Anita?" Her questions came all at once, accompanied by the tears she'd been trying to avoid. They were hot on her face, and she wiped them away with shaking hands.

RE: Miscalculations [Closed] - saronym - 09-25-2016

Owen could feel his blood pressure spike, pounding into his head with the annoying cracking of her gum. He could hear her chewing gum, popping gum, on the line. In his ear? She was going to pop gum in the ear of the Lieutenant General?

“Are you seriously popping gum in my ear. Right now. Of all times?” He slammed the pen on the desk just to get it out of his hand. Rubbing his forehead in frustration, Owen could feel his own pulse in the vein that bulged there when he was getting heated. “Spit. It. Out.” Owen couldn’t stand the noises of others. Chewing, slurping, fidgeting, sighing, crying.

Speaking of crying, his wife was asking questions and crying while he was trying to think. While his Major General was popping gum in his ear. While his child was currently being abducted.

Owen let his hand fall away from his face and he exhaled loudly before pushing himself up from the chair. Moving his free arm around her shoulders, Owen pulled Julianna away from the desk and against himself instead. He rested his chin on the crown of her head feeling her ears brushing his jaw.

“It will be fine.” He said finally, his voice much quieter. Whether this was reassurance for Katanya or his wife was unclear. He left the question regarding the demands unanswered for the moment. He could feel his wife trembling.

“I’m the one they want to speak to. I’ll see what they want and give it to them. Simple as that. Nice and easy.” His voice remained smooth, almost tranquil, a surgeon explaining a procedure to a frightened patient. "I don’t think I need to say this but - this is a ten year old little girl. Children can be unpredictable. Anita's never even heard gunshots. We do not need her to panic and give them an excuse to hurt her. So gunfire as a last resort."

Describing the plan to Katanya was really more for Julianna’s sake. His wife was terrified. Trembling. He didn’t know how else to comfort her. So he described the plan. The nice and easy plan. He could say it from the top of her head while staring at the wall instead of looking into her eyes while she cried.

“One last time, this is my fucking kid. We will hold fire, until I say otherwise. You will know when to shoot because my gun will be out. Unless you have any questions, that’s all I have. I’ll send the location data as soon as I have it.”

Normally when he was finished giving instructions, Owen would have unceremoniously hang up the phone. He held the line waiting to see if Katanya had anything else to say all the while smoothing his hand down the back of Julianna’s hair.

RE: Miscalculations [Closed] - megs - 09-25-2016

Katanya’s jaw ceased its repetitive movements as he began to scold her for her gum. She frowned, thinking she had been subtle enough for the habit to go unnoticed, but she was mistaken. It was probably the bubbles. Using her tongue she push the gum against her front teeth. The flavor was long gone and it was quickly getting tacky, as the cheap kind did, but she was lax to let it go. Likely, because he had told to her to get rid of it.

“Yes, sir,” she said, tightly. The gum fell from her mouth into the dirt, and she used the toe of her boot to bury it, angrily. “Sorry, sir.” Checking on Anita again, still waiting patiently in the car, Katanya continued to listen to Owen’s instructions. Insofar, the Major General had been doing her best to not think about Julianna. About how nice she was, or what a good mother and friend she was. Tried not to think about how upset she would be at the idea of her daughter being taken. It was harder to ignore her, when she could hear her crying on the other end of the line.

She steeled herself against the sound of it. Doing her best to tune it out and focus on the authoritative tone that Owen continued to use. His voice didn’t waver as he dished out clear and concise instructions. Even as she plotted to kill him, he continued to impress her.

“Understood, sir,” she complied when he seemed to be finished. She turned and smiled at Anita through the window. The child looked up from her toy, beaming and waving at her from her inside the vehicle. “I’ll contact you when we’re ready to go.” Katanya was the one to hang up first; the snap of the flip phone punctuated the end of their conversation and she shoved the device in her pocket. Opening the door she climbed into the SUV with Anita.

Julianna folded easily into her husband’s attempt at comfort. She hid her face against Owen’s chest, tail curled against the small of her back, ears pressed to her head. She could feel his voice resonating in his chest, feel his chin moving on top of her head as he detailed the plan to Katanya. It didn’t make her feel better; it didn’t sound nice and easy. She bit back a sob, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth to stifle the sound, but the shuddering of her shoulders revealed the extent to which she was falling apart.

Talk of gunshots and holding fire did little to soothe her. Harder to ignore the severity of the situation. Harder to convince herself that everything would be fine and Owen would get their daughter back.

The burner phone buzzed with a notification in his hand. The coordinates.

RE: Miscalculations [Closed] - saronym - 09-27-2016

Owen didn’t say anything further to Katanya; he waited until the line went dead and then shoved the phone into his pocket. He didn’t know what to do with his wife falling to pieces. He would rather not address his feelings - fear, panic, despair - but would have much preferred to shove them down and turn on his decisive commander mindset. Less feelings. More logic and doing.

The burner buzzed with a message. Owen resisted the urge to dive at it and start searching for the coordinates. But he sighed and wrapped his other arm around his wife. “I’m sorry Julianna. It’s my fault, okay? I should have seen this coming. I was complacent.” He lips brushing against her scalp.

The embrace was short-lived as Owen pushed her away from him gently with hands on her hips holding her just far enough away that he could assess her emotional state. “I can fix this. It will be alright. Anita will be fine.” It was a soft-spoken appeal. Please don’t cry anymore. His hands left her hips to wipe at her tears with his thumbs.

“I spoke to her.” He offered, voice still mild, comforting. “She seemed happy. She was eating strawberry icecream. They have no interest in hurting her. They want to keep her managed. So that’s a good sign.” The corner of his mouth curled up in his attempt at an encouraging smile.

This was Owen's best attempt at being comforting. But he couldn’t resist the urge to check the phone anymore. He snatched up the burner and flipped it open to find the coordinates he was expecting. No news of Anita. Owen glanced up at Julianna to let her know she still had his attention while he took care of more phone business. He could listen and forward messages.

>And Anita?

He typed the messages quickly sending one after another in rapid succession. He wanted to see if he could get them to send back a picture of Anita, some proof that she was okay so he could show Julianna. Unless that would upset her more? At any rate he wanted proof to comfort himself.

Owen took out his Blackberry and quickly texted the coordinates to Katanya. He followed it up with a message of 22:00 signifying the rendezvous time.