Chapter Two.

"The tumbling breeze
plays with the leaves
Touched by Autumn's frost..."
Long, fine green hair fell onto the open handwritten pages as Veneda let his head drop into his folded arms. "Damn...I'm never going to get this right." He mumbled into the black wool of his sweater.

"Why bother?" Scrapper asked. He sat across from Ven with his booted feet up on his desk blowing across the top of a hot coffee held in one hand while the other was filled with a magazine. The words, "Hooters" and "Buns" could barely be made out on the crumpled cover.

A vague look of disgust slithered across Ven's face. Did he have to bring *those* magazines with him to the office?

"Why bother? Why do birds fly? Bees buzz? I have to give my soul some release." He turned his head haughtily then returned his attention to the papers before him.

"Speakin' of birds an' bees...did you check out Miss March? " Scrapper placed his coffee cup on the table and flipped his magazine over, pulling out the centerfold as he did so. "I don't know much about poetry, partner, but I heard a picture's worth a thousand words." He grinned at the look on his partner's face. "Now she.." He stabbed his finger into the picture, " poetry."

"You make me sick! You know that don't you?" Veneda crumpled up the papers in front of him and tossed them at the grinning face of his porn toting partner. "I can't expect you to answer the inscroutable callings of your soul. It requires sensitivity and CLASS! Something you clearly lack." He crossed his arms, crossed on leg over the other and stared off into space.

"Hmph. There's something *off* with your disgust over naked women, you know that Ven?" Veneda's eyebrow twitched.

"I have no problems with nudity, just smut. I have a girlfriend, which is more than you can say, Scrapper." Scrapper smiled sweetly, a strange sight on his manly face.

"Yeah? Well if I could afford to pay a girl as much as you can maybe I could keep a stea.d.d.d.y. Uh Ven? Ppput that chair down!" Scrapper scrambled on his hands and knees as the chair Ven had been wielding came crashing to the floor. The hairs on the back of his neck tickled as Veneda starting gathering power for a spell.

"Oh shiiiiii---" Scrapper threw himself out of the room just before a small explosion shook the station. Smoke came pouring out of the room behind him and the figure of Veneda could be seen, fists still glowing with power. Mindy stared at the Scrapper lying face down on the carpet, her hand dropped the file she was putting away, her mouth hanging open in surprise. A paper fluttered in front of her face as it came out of orbit. Cautiously she reached for it...Did it say 'Buns' on it?

"Mindy!" Veneda's voice was a cutting whip, calling for her immediate attention. "Please go and get Detective Smith another coffee. Now." She snatched her hand back and scurried off for coffee. Whatever they had been talking about must have REALLY upset Detective Proulx, and she didn't want to be a witness to any more. Just in case she had to testify later...

"VENEDA!!! SMITH!! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING??" Scrapper looked up as a heeled foot stomped down dangerously near his face. A long leg ending in a pair of lacy panties arrested his gaze. He knew those panties... "On your feet De-tec-tive." She grabbed him by his lapel and dragged him and his considerably larger frame to his feet. Scrapper snuck a quick peek over at Veneda. The reaction from his normally fun loving friend was a bit extreme...and potentially fatal. Veneda was dusting himself off and giving the Captain his patent-pending "It really was all somebody else's fault, I'm innocent!" look. She shook Scrapper as best she could given his large build. Scrapper realized she had been yelling at him for almost a full minute without his hearing a single word!

"...deadlines have to be met! Just because you two recieved medals, and the media had a hey day with that bust last October, doesn't mean..."

"You are perfectly right Captain! And May I Say That Is a Lovely Shade of Lipstick You Have On?" Scrapper had been practising that line for weeks under Veneda's supervision.

"Cut the crap Smith." Obviously he needed to work on it a bit more. "I want you and Veneda out on the streets! This case has been hanging long enough! We don't pay you two top dollar to sit around on your BUTTS drinking coffee!"

"SIR YES SIR!!" They chimed together as they ran/marched out of the station before she could get going on her standard 'motivational' speech.

They raced past Mindy, spilling coffee on her and were gone in the blink of an eye. Mindy sighed and started to clean herself off. "WHO is going to clean up the MESS they left???" Mindy heard the Captain's screech, winced and sighed heavily.

"Their Rookie," She grumbled. "Who else?"

Scrapper's car was the butt of many jokes running through the NSPD. It was in dire need of paint, after all the rust was dealt with, if there was any car left when the rust was removed. New tires and fenders would have done miralces for it, but so would buying a new car! Scrapper had called it his "Shaggin' Waggin'" Veneda did his best not to mention it at all. The car rocked a bit from side to side as Scrapper shitfted position to grab a bag of convienience store goodies out of the back seat. It was amazing he found it in the pile of pop cans and chip bags that filled half of the car.. Crammed in the front Scrapper unwrapped a treat and grinned at a very disgusted looking Veneda.

"Tell me again why we couldn't use MY car for this stakeout?" Veneda groaned as he caught whiff of a particularily pungent aroma. Scrapper, intent on his eating mumbled,

"Oh yeah. THAT wouldn't look suspicious in this neighbourhood." >Gulp< >Smack< *chew chew chew* "Whaddya driving now anyways? A BMW? That little corvette? You got rid of the Viper last year right?"

"It's a ....yes, I think I see your point." Veneda smoothed back a strand of his green hair that had managed to escape his loose ponytail. "And just for the record, Scrapper...YOU got rid of my Viper for me when you drove it off the Tenspan bridge." Scrapper grunted, signalling a vague memory of the event. Veneda shifted in his seat and winced when he felt his hand touch something damp and unidentifiable.

"Don't you ever clean up after yourself Scrapper?"

Scrapper chewed a big chunk of candy bar and threw the wrapper behind him in the back seat. "Thass what I need a woman for." Veneda rolled his eyes and stared moodily out of his window. Scrapper glanced uneasily at his partner and only real friend. Usually Ven was a happy guy, it was Ven's job to keep the duo uplifted and motivated.. But the poetry, the moodiness, the homicidal tendencies...Something was really bothering Ven, something bigtime and Scrapper wasn't stupid or insensitive.

"What crawled up your shorts and died, Ven?" Just rude.

Veneda stared out of the window and didn't reply.

"Ven? Yo! You still there buddy?" Scrapper reached over and gave him a friendly punch in the arm. Ven shrugged his shoulder, opened the car door and stepped into the rapidly darkening street. Scrapper blinked in surprise then angrily burst out of his own door to follow him.

"What the HELL is your problem Veneda? You've been turning into a real Prick!" Veneda stopped beneath a streetlight. He didn't turn around.

"Am I intruding on YOUR territory Scrapper?" The words rolled off of Scrappers thick skin, but the barb still managed to hook him where it hurt the most. He wasn't a prick...was he? A tense silence came between them. There was an electric hum as the street light flickered then came to life, bathing the street in an amber light. Daytime activity was winding down, and the night was coming alive.

"Fuck you, Ven. Is it this assignment? You've been writing poems like crazy, and I know that's just your pansy assed way of letting off steam... It's just another Blood Cult. We bust half a dozen a year. So wussup? You wanna talk about it?" Beneath the shadows cast by his long, green hair, a small, sad smile came and went unoticed on Veneda's fine features.

"You don't understand Scrapper."

"Maybe I want to try! I know I can be dense, and a prick, and well...I usually don't care about much but my work but..."

The hairs on the back of Scrapper's neck stood at attention as magical energies started to gather in the vicinity. "Uh...Ven?" Scrapper began to back away uneasily, his large frame unusually graceful as his feet picked out thier route. Veneda's fists began to glow as he gathered power.

"It's not you." Ven whispered as he whipped around. His hair formed a silken cloud around him and he raised glowing hands to his chest level. His mouth opened;


Scrapper turned to throw himself out of the way of the anticipated fireball but instead of searing heat he only felt a curious tingle run along his body. There was a blinding flash of pain, as if something was being torn inside of him then blackness.

Veneda watched as Scrapper's lifeless body hit the ground. He forced himself to look into the staring eyes of the souless man as flesh met pavement with a meaty thud. His hands clenched then unclenched and his breath was ragged and hurting. He wiped away the tears that smarted in his eyes and started to walk towards Scrapper's corpse, then stopped.

Applause. It was coming from all around him. He quickly slipped into a defensive stance and started to gather energies. A booming voice called out to him from a darkened alley.

"Well done Detective! I honestly thought you would try to renegade on our agreement!" Veneda's eyes narrowed dangerously.

"I thought we were supposed to meet in an hour, Loque." He called out. His stance relaxed but the glow did not leave his hands. Loque stepped out of the shadows, the amber light from the streetlamp glinted off of his yellow eyes making them flash briefly. Strong gloved hands smoothed out the black leather shirt that hung on his lean frame. His hair, normally blood red, appeared maroon under the yellowish light. He smiled when he saw the wariness in Veneda's eyes. Prominent canines pressed against his thin lower lip.

"Perhaps I wanted to watch your little show." He toed Scrapper's body as he walked past it. His enhanced senses telling him his stalker was dead, his soul departed to another realm. "Pity it was so short. I don't think I got my money's worth...Perhaps you could compensate me by teaching me that spell you used, it's quite effective." He could feel the intense emotions running through the slender Veneda's body, could hear the blood rushing through his veins. Loque exerted himself to keep his appetites at bay. Time for that later... he thought pleasantly to himself.

"I'm sorry you were dissapointed." Sarcasm dripped from Veneda's mouth like venom from a snake's fangs. "Where is Chloe?" Veneda felt his heart leap into his throat as the dangerous vampire smiled. "She had better be alive you bastard!"

"Sweet little Chloe is fine. Why don't we go join her at my estate? She will be so happy to hear you are there to take her home. The sensitive dear doesn't seem to like the 'lifestyle' my servants and I lead. I fear you have rather 'spoiled' her for other men, Ven."

Loque casually threw his arm around Veneda and squeezed his shoulder tightly. Ven could smell the rancid remainders of Loque's past 'meals' on the hot breath that caressed his cheek and neck. He shivered from disgust...and fear. One quick motion and Loque could be draining the lifeblood from his body. If he was lucky, Ven would die. If he wasn't, he would be infected with BDS (blood defeciency syndrome), the scientific term ignorant scientists used to explain souls that were held in thrall of thier vampire master.

Ven felt light headed.

If he killed Loque now, Chloe...He couldn't abandon Chloe. He had to play along. Loque held all the cards, and Ven had just killed his only ally.

Loque looked down at the man in his arms. He was so...tempting. Loque felt himself drawn closer to the powers that flowed in Veneda's veins. His fingertips could feel the pulse of his heart as it fluttered in the cage of bone beneath Veneda's skin. His gold eyes held Ven's green in a grip that was tighter than his arms that held Ven's body. He exerted some of his will and smiled as Ven's eyes became vacant mirrors and his body relaxed. The glow dissapeared from his hands with his loss of concentration.

Slowly so he would not break his spell, Loque pressed his lips against the smooth skin of Ven's throat. His tongue flicked out once, twice, tracing the area he would bite. Veneda moaned softly, unable to free himself from Loque's mindspell. Ven's pounding pulse matched rythym with Loque's heartbeat making them seem one entity. Gently Loque pressed his teeth into Ven's soft flesh... and jerked his head up dropping his would be victim as the image of a majestic woman armed with a bow of light filled his head. He staggered back as if from a real blow and clutched his forehead, his fingers trying to dig the image out of his skull.

Veneda crumpled on the pavement and grunted as his knees banged painfully on the uneven cement. He eyes cleared sparkled with anger. "You bastard! You got what you wanted. Smith is dead. Don't try to take more than what was agreed on." Ven cradled his arm, bruised from the vampire' grip, as Loque shot him a villanous glare. "Take me to Chloe. Now."

"You took me by surprise with that little defense, Veneda. It won't catch me twice."

'Defense?' Veneda thought to himself. 'What defense?'

"Keep your hands and mind to yourself, and I won't have to use it again." He bluffed as he regained his feet. Loque grabbed him by his arm and roughly dragged him into an alley.

"To Chloe it is then, and don't think for an instant you are safe."

Scrapper watched the scene below him in confusion. Was he dead? He didn't feel particularily dead. He could see his body lying in the street and Loque dragging Ven into an alley. He felt a white, hot anger shoot through him. Loque was blackmailing his best bud and partner! But...who was Chloe? Well he couldn't do anything about it right now.

This existence was strange. He seemed to be a ghost, but he was standing on a solid surface. He stamped his foot experimentally. Solid. WAS he dead? He looked down at his hands, and they were transparent.

He felt heat at his neck and a tickle in the hairs on the back of his neck. Magic? Cautiously he turned around...

The world was on fire.

He could see people, but strangely shaped with wings and horns and archaic weapons running and fighting each other in the flames. He looked behind him, then down but there was no sign of the alley now. It was like he was truly there! Or here...wherever here was.

He felt a rumbling beneath his feet and saw a great split rend the plain in two, one of the halves fell away leaving him on a precipice. Through the flames his attention was drawn to two large figures locked in mortal combat. Both had reptilion wings and one had three horns. The other had a halo of spiky hair exploding from his head and trailing between his wings. The wielded swords and magic with equal ferocity. Something tugged at his mind, it seemed kind of familiar to him. Deja vu? He had seen this struggle somewhere before. And the flames...he could feel the heat but there was no damage to his 'body'. Was this a dream, a memory, hell?

"Phaeton!" The cry reached him through the chaos and he saw the demon with the hair dissapear in a flash. Flames lept up around him and he felt a force pulling him into the ground. As he sunk into the ground, he saw the three horned demon dissapear in a similar flash then he was above the alley again and falling towards his body.


His head hurt worse than anything he had ever felt and there was a dryness in the back of his throat, but he was alive. He sat up and opened his eyes. It hurt, but it could be done.

"Ven!" He had to find his friend, but where was he? The only place he could think of to start his search, was back at HQ.

No next chapter yet! Goman!
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