Scented smoke curled and twisted its way up to the ceiling to mingle with the yellow, swirling clouds forming there. Insence sticks burned beside fat, half melted candles. Yellow flames danced in the breezes stirred by barefooted men dressed in grey robes with cowls hiding thier faces as they knelt and bowed again and again before a figure seated crosslegged on an ancient stone altar. The figure was wrapped in pure white voluminous robes, only white, white feet were visible. The figure's face was hidden by a cowl.
It's head jerked suddenly, as if sensing an observer. A delicate white hand eased into view from inside a roomy sleeve and carefully reached for the obscuring hood. It slowly pulled the silken material away revealing hair so white it glowed and clear, luminescent skin. The figure turned it's delicate head slowly and beneath frosty eyelashes a rim of red could be seen. It's eyes opened, and in the place of iris and pupil there could be seen only flames...
"...seventeen this month alone! This has got to be one of the biggest cults we've come across yet, and my informants can't get me any stats on them at all!" Veneda tossed his ponytail out of his way and flipped the page on his clipboard. Scrapper continued walking along with his hands in his pockets.
"It sounds like they're scared to me Ven. Maybe the blood cult members got the word out on the street before you even had a chance to talk to anyone?" Ven chewed his lip thoughtfully.
"It sounds like. Five of this month's victims were informants the station usually uses."
"Shit! If this keeps up we're going to have to go undercover ourselves, and I hate the thought of letting some perverted BDS junkie get at my veins."
Scrapper sighed heavily and traced a finger along a scar he had on his throat. A souvenier of his rookie days. "Do we have any idea who's running this cult? Any leads at all?" Veneda turned some more pages then stopped as he caught sight of a begger sitting in an alley. He shoved the reports in Scrapper's hands and jogged across the street to the alley. Scrapper rolled his eyes. Veneda's sources came from many different walks of life. Scrapper couldn't figure out how a rich, sheltered guy like Ven met people like that. Maybe he had a secret identity. Like Alley Man! He stalked dark alleys in his grubby overcoat, making contacts over brown bagged bottles of cheap vodka! Nah...Ven wouldn't be caught dead wearing anything non-designer. Maybe it would be a grubby cast off Armani suit. Scrapper chuckled over the mental image and watched his partner conduct business.
He couldn't make out what they were saying, but he saw a great deal of money exchange hands and Veneda lean close to the smelly man while he whispered in his ear. The grubby guy grabbed Veneda's hand suddenly and kissed it repeatadly. Veneda laughed and pulled himself free. Scrapper watched his partner jog back to him, a smile pasted on his pretty boy face. It always amazed Scrapper the way Veneda managed to stay happy even when the worst things could be happening to him and those he loved. He was a mirror that reflected only what others wanted to see. Veneda tugged his papers back from Scrapper and winked at him. He shuffled through the pages until he found the one was looking for and continued as if he had never left.
"From what I have been able to scrape together, everything is pointing towards Loque." Scrapper paused on the station steps and growled.
"Loque! That bastard! Man what I wouldn't give to take him down...bloody and personalized." He looked up at Veneda who had stopped just before the precinct doors, "I thought we ousted him good last time?" He took the last few steps in a single stride and the two of them entered the building. Inside was chaotic activity.
"We did." Scrapper missed the sly look Veneda tossed him because he was dodging a flying doughnut. "I don't know how he managed to build up such a large support base so quickly. He's out of sub lieutenents, so he must have done the recruiting himself." Scrapper stretched and scratched his nose.
"Yeah, well if it is Loque, going undercover is out of the question. He knows what we look like and he's got a burning desire to see us dead."
"Um...excuse me...Detective Smith? Uhh..." Scrapper didn't notice the mousy girl with a coffee and a neat stack of papers in hand. Veneda gave her a pitying look. Scrapper turned around suddenly and pointed his finger in Veneda's face, over the Mousy girl's head.
"And you fer sure ain't going near that guy without backup, Ven. Loque's got a thing for pretty boys, that makes you doubly at risk." Scrapper scooped up the coffee and papers and walked into thier office. He plunked himself down on his chair and began to leaf through the pages. Ven stood in the doorway. Listening to his partener's ramblings. Sometimes he came up with the most surprising things. What did he mean...pretty boy?
"uummm...Det.." She began again.
"Y'know Ven," Scrapper interupted. "Maybe it isn't Loque, but some guy using his name. We busted Loque's ring pretty good last time, he couldn't be stupid enough to take us on again could he?" Veneda led the girl from the room while Scrapper continued to muse aloud in the office.
"Thank you Mindy. You've been doing a great job." He smoothed the hair on her head. He really did feel sorry for the girl. Her crush on Scrapper was obvious to everyone but the big man himself.
"Thank YOU Detective Proulx. It's an honour to be training under you two."
"Please just call me Veneda." He smiled as she blushed. "If we have time this afternoon I'll go over your training goals with you. You were specializing in Sorcery weren't you?" She nodded vigorously. "Make some time in our planners and we'll work with you on it, okay?" He watched as she ran back to her desk and started typing out reports. It was too dangerous for rookie Sorcerors to go on duty until thier training was complete, so most of them spent thier practicum doing clerical work. He had gone that route himself.
'She's a nice girl...' Veneda thought to himself. 'Maybe I'll try to help her with her crush on Scrapper.'
"Whaaat???" Mindy grabbed Veneda by the front of his shirt and shook him back and forth. Veneda's face remained the calm mask of a concerned older brother figure. "Detective Smith CAN'T be G-gg-ggg-g-g..."
"Gay." Veneda supplied helpfully. "I'm afraid so Mindy. I'm sorry you had to find out this way, but it was better you knew now, rather than later...after it was too late." She released him and sat back, a look of deep shock on her face. She blinked a tear away and wiped her nose.
"D-do you think I could..."
"Change him?" Veneda interrupted. "No I don't think so. I also wouldn't let him know you know. He is pretty sensitive about it, and would deny it anyways. You don't want to look silly do you?"
"I guess not." Veneda reached over and gently squeezed her shoulder.
"Be strong Mindy and concentrate on your studies. It will help heal your broken heart."
"Detective Proulx, telephone call line three, Detective Proulx, line three." The raspy voice of the intercom interrupted them and with an apologetic look Veneda stood up and brushed his trousers smooth. "I'd better get that. Keep up the good work Mindy! I'll see you later."
His long strides carried him to an unoccupied office and phone in record time. He felt a twinge of guilt lying to Mindy , but she really was too nice of a girl to get mixed up with Scrapper. He tucked the phone between his shoulder and ear and pressed the flashing "3" button.
"Ven?" His body stiffened and he felt his breath quicken at the sound of the female voice. A voice he hadn't heard in weeks. "It's me...Chloe."