“And after talking with Seth, we think that whoever this is, if it’s a person or a group, they are following Ares,” I continued. “Well, following some of his beliefs, that is.”
“At the end of the day, Ares hated half-bloods. He viewed them the same way he did mortals. There were a lot of pure-bloods that agreed with him—with the idea that pure-bloods should be ruling the mortal realm and halfs and mortals should be subservient to them.” As Seth spoke, his voice was flat and without emotion, but I knew talking about Ares was probably like stabbing yourself over and over with a hot poker.
Especially considering who was in the room.
“When I was doing Remediations for the gods, I took out a lot of his supporters, but not all of them,” Seth finished.
“I wouldn’t want to believe that was the case, that whoever has been responsible for what’s been happening on campus here has anything to do with Ares,” Aiden jumped in. “But we cannot underestimate what it means for Ares’s symbol to be on that mask.”
“And it makes sense.” Alex leaned forward, her shoulders tense. “There have been a ton of problems here—”
“Not just here,” Marcus cut in. “There’s been similar issues and murders in some of the pure communities and at the Covenants.”
“So, it would have to be somewhat organized,” she went on. “Right?”
“Most hate groups are. Some are more organized than others, I imagine.” Marcus rubbed two fingers along his temple like he was trying to scrub away a headache. A long moment passed and he dropped his hand to the arm of the chair. “One of the last things I ever wanted to hear was Ares’s name.”
“You and me both.” Alex’s voice was soft, and I knew Seth was thinking the same thing. “He may be dead, but I don’t think we’ve heard the last of him.”
“What’s the plan, then?” Marcus asked, getting down to business like he always did.
“Whether it’s a group of pures who still follow Ares’s beliefs or not, I think we need to start with the obvious. The pures that are here, on campus.”
“Not just the students, but also the staff,” Aiden agreed. We hadn’t talked about this, but we were obviously on the same page. “So, we’ll need a list of every single one.”
Marcus raised a brow. “That is a lot of confidential information.”
“I know it is.” Aiden’s smile was tight. “And I know sharing that info goes against a lot of rules, but we need to be able to check each of these people out.”
“And look for what?”
Josie leaned forward. “It would depend on what you have on the students and staff here. Their backgrounds, where they came from, family information, and what not.” Eagerness filled Josie’s voice, drawing my gaze. “If you have that kind of information, we could build a profile.”
Alexander’s gaze sharpened.
“What do mean by a profile?” Alex twisted in her seat toward Josie.
“It’s a tool the FBI and other law enforcement agencies use to help recognize people who are likely to commit crimes and to also recognize a pattern among crimes that happen,” she explained. “It’s basically built on psychological behaviors and what a profiler previously knows about others who have committed similar crimes.”
Alex stared at her blankly, and my lips twitched.
“Okay. For example, there are already profiles out there for humans who commit hate crimes. You can take that profile and apply it to a pure-blood. I bet you’d find the same red flags—similar childhoods with earlier exposure to prejudice, they typically have no prior crimes, their bias usually isn’t as overt as others, a situation where they felt wronged somehow. I could keep going.” Her cheeks flushed pink. “But what I’m saying is we probably wouldn’t have to talk to every single pure-blood here. With the necessary info, we could probably trim down the pool of possible suspects. I’m sure there are basic profiles out there out on the Internet, or if you had any connection with law enforcement.”
Marcus inclined his head. “Actually, we do have some connections in law enforcement.”
“Well…” Josie sat back. “I would reach out to them and see if they have a profile. Or better yet, if they’re trained, they could possibly look over the info—”
“Wait. Josie, you studied psychology, right?” I spoke up, and Josie’s wide gaze swung toward me. I nodded. “She can get a profile and figure out who we need to talk to.”
Josie faced Marcus. A moment passed. “I studied psychology and I did really well in my class.”
Damn straight she did. My girl was smart.
“But I’ve never built a profile before, and even though I know the basics, with something like this you need someone trained. At the very least, to point you in the right direction.”
I frowned at the back of her head.
Marcus appeared to consider that. “Handing over that kind of information is serious. To be honest, I’m more comfortable with you having access to these records than anyone else in this room.”
Across from Josie, Alex’s mouth dropped. “Well, I’m kind of offended.”
I shrugged. “Meanwhile, I’m not at all surprised that you wouldn’t be comfortable with me having that info.”
“I’m actually surprised that you wouldn’t trust me,” Aiden said, and I rolled my eyes.
A faint smile appeared on Marcus’s face. “Everyone except for Josie has a personal experience with Ares. I feel like this requires someone who wasn’t a part of what he did, but I cannot hand over that kind of personal information.”
Alex opened her mouth, but she was silenced when Marcus raised his hand. “What I can do is reach out to a few people I know who will be able to help us.”
That was better than nothing.
“What are we going to do if we find out whoever is behind this?” Alex asked the moment Marcus lowered his hand. “Stopping it here may not stop it happening elsewhere.”
“Well, if the profile works here and we can find the people responsible for the attacks, then why wouldn’t it work elsewhere?” Aiden asked. “It could be implemented in any of the communities or schools that are facing these problems.”
“But what will happen to them? As a mortal, I was as liberal as they come,” Josie said, sitting back. “But if someone or a group of people is running around killing others because of how much aether is in their blood, then I feel like they’ve forfeited their right to live out their lives in a jail cell somewhere.”
Everyone, including Alexander, turned and stared at Josie.
“What?” she said. “I’m not saying people aren’t capable of changing, but once you murder someone? Yeah. No.”
“That’s bloodthirsty,” I said to her. “And it really turns me on.”
“Gods,” Alex moaned. “We didn’t need to know that, Seth.”
I shrugged, and Josie flushed pink.
“We don’t have the same procedures that the mortal court has,” Marcus interjected. “We’re a lot more…”
“Old school,” Aiden said. “Hand for a hand type of stuff.”
“Oh,” Josie whispered. “Well then, that answers my question.”
Marcus sighed. “As soon as you all get out of my office, I’ll get to work on the personnel files.”
At least that part was discussed and it felt like we were actually doing something about the damn pure-bloods here, but that wasn’t the only thing on the table. “We need to talk about the remaining demigod.”
Alex nodded. “We didn’t get a chance to tell you yesterday, but there’s a really good chance that the demigod is…Ares’s son.”
For a moment, I thought Marcus might actually curse. His mouth opened and then closed. Finally, he settled on, “Gods.”
“Exactly,” Aiden muttered. “Ares is just raising his ugly, twisted head all over the place.”
Marcus uncrossed his legs and leaned forward, resting his arms on the table. “So it appears.” He let out a disgusted sigh. “Why do we think this?”