A Dragan's Tale

Dragan Hunting

Author: Nu_Klear <nu_klear[at]yahoo.com>

Disclaimer: All characters belong to there owners! Also I'd just like to thank Tenhawk for allowing me to play in his universe!

Summary: Like the ripples from throwing a pebble in a pond, a single chance encounter can have many unforeseen results...

Warning: Crossovers ahead. (Yes Plural.)

Rating: PG-13 to PG-16; for mild cursing, violence, and demonic horror content... in other words a bit more grown up then the series...but only cause I don't have to suck up to censors.

Latest addition

Chapter 1

Hercules watched as Dragan staggered under the impact of the bullet and ran to help him. Dragan had a look of confusion on his face as he looked down at the red stain spreading across the front of his shirt. When Dragan looked up at Herc his lips moved silently as he gave a familiar half smile. His eyes rolled back and he fell, hitting the floor with a boneless thump. Herc reached his side a second after he hit the floor. When he reached down to check Dragan someone yelling at him made him hesitate.

"Don't move him! It could make any internal injuries worse!" Looking up Herc saw three people moving toward him through the mass of security that was swarming over the unconscious men: a man with long hair in need of a razor, a Native American man, and a blonde young woman. When the man with long hair reached him he knelt down and felt Dragan's neck for a pulse. He ripped the shirt to exam the wound and shook his head. "Bobby, call an ambulance and find something to use as bandages... We've got to slow this bleeding or he won't make it."

"No! No Ambulance! And absolutely no *Hospitals*!" Chyra snarled as she landed beside Dragan's chest. She turned and pointed a claw at Herc. "You, pick him up and follow me! Hurry!"

Herc quickly lifted Dragan into his arms as Chyra took off and ran in pursuit of the tiny dragon. She led him to a door marked maintenance that was being held open by a security guard. As he entered the room Chyra dove down a flight of stairs.

When he reached the bottom of the stairs Herc found Chyra franticly pulling at the handle of a metal hatch set in the wall. "What...?"

Chyra gave a yelp of surprise when the handle moved and the hatch fell open, sending her tumbling to the ground. A wave of intense heat hit Herc like a physical blow. "Throw him in... hurry!"

Hercules shook his head, shifted Dragan in his arms and shoved him through the hatch feet first.

"Holy shit!"

Herc looked at the people standing in the doorway, staring at them in horror, and frowned. Then he closed the door and latched it before turning to look at Chyra. "You do realize that he's going to try and kill us when he realizes we threw him in the incinerator?!"

At the sound of a gun being cocked Herc slowly raised his hands and turned around. The Native American man was holding a Beretta on him while the man with long hair was pointing a shotgun at them. "He was still *alive*! What kind of sick fuck are you?"

<What the Hell?> Reno thought as he stared after the retreating figures. He got to his feet and gave chase with Bobby and Chey in tow. However, by the time they reached the door they had seen the man enter he had vanished. Reno scanned the room, taking in the multiple exits before he turned to look at Bobby and Cheyenne with a hopeful expression. "Any ideas?"

A loud metallic clang came from the stairway in front of them. Reno nodded at Bobby and hurried down the steps; he reached the bottom just in time to see the large man shove the injured man through a small door. As the injured man's head went through the open hatch Reno and his companions had a clear view of the flames burning beyond it.

Reno felt his stomach twist in disgust at the nonchalant way they had just thrown a living person to a fiery and painful death. He aimed his shotgun at the large man as he closed and sealed the door. Reno slowly started toward the closed hatch as Bobby and the large man began shouting at each other.

He was halfway to his destination when the handle twisted and the door fell open, allowing a pair of legs to exit followed by the rest of a body.

"Goddamn it, Chyra! How many times do I have to tell you *not* to put me in the fucking incinerator?!!"

"Are you sure about this?" the old man looked down with a worried expression.

"No, I'm not Mesp..." the young man touched his bruised and battered face, "but I do know that even if I don't take this chance I'm dead, because I'll kill myself before that can happen again!"

The old man looked at the swollen eyes, split lip, and black bruises that covered the young man's face. He sighed as his shoulders slumped in defeat. "Very well. Let us begin."

The young man removed his tunic. Stretching out on the table he and the mage had eaten at for the last eight years that doubled as an altar, he closed his eyes as the old mage poured a thick liquid on his chest. "Thank you, Mesphesto..."

"You may thank me if I succeed; until then I am the one that should be thanking you." Mesphesto's voice was full of humor and warmth as he traced symbols in the liquid that coated the young man's chest. "Not many people would trust an old fool like me with such a dangerous ritual..."

"I trust you, old man. You're the only one I do trust." The old man didn't answer, he just began chanting in a language that that the person on the altar didn't recognize, getting louder and faster as he went, until he was almost yelling each word. Something made the young man open his eyes. They went wide at the sight of the sword that suddenly thrust at his chest...

Dragan's eyes snapped open as he jerked into a sitting position, clutching at the large scar on the left side of his chest. He growled as the movement sent a flash of pain through the right side of his chest, reminding him of his earlier injury. <Damn, I had nearly forgotten how much getting shot hurt... Not as much as waking up to find that Mesp had left, but still bad enough! Now... what is that smell?!>

Dragan's eyes darted around the room, trying to figure it out until he recognized where he was. He got off the pile of smoldering ash he was laying on & unlatched the door. He grabbed a bar set above the door and lifted himself up, pushing the door open with his feet.

"Goddamn it, Chyra! How many times do I have to tell you *not* to put me in the fucking incinerator?!! How would you like to wake up to the smell of burning garbage?"

Herc rolled his eyes and sighed in exasperation. "Look, I don't know who you are, but it's obvious you don't know what's going on..."

"What's going on is you're looking at twenty to life for *murder!*" The Native American said in a tone of complete disbelief. "The law takes a dim view of people being burned to death!"

Hercules fought hard but couldn't help himself. He started to chuckle as a grin slowly grew across his face. When the hatch beside him opened, allowing a ranting Dragan to slide out, Herc burst out laughing so hard he was doubled over at the look on their faces as the naked young man slid out of the furnace slowly so as not to damage anything sensitive, ranting loudly the entire time.

When Dragan had finally gotten all the way out of the hatch he looked at Hercules like he had lost his mind. Looking at Chyra he jerked his thumb at Herc with a quizzical expression. She just smiled and pointed.

"Whoa, Natural hair color...?!"


"Oh, leave her alone, Bobby... like you wouldn't look if you were in the same position."

"That's beside the point, Vince. *She* shouldn't be looking at strange naked men."

When he looked in the direction Chyra had pointed, hearing the unfamiliar voices he found the two people that had been brought in by the intruders, and the man with long hair that had stood with them to fight. The blonde was blushing and looking at the ceiling as the Native American and long hair men where arguing.

"You would prefer she looked at strange naked women? Or do you mean she should only look at normal naked men?" Dragan asked, favoring the one called Bobby with a sarcastic smile.

The blonde started laughing as the Native American man stared at Dragan, his mouth moving but no sound coming from it. After a moment he turned, put his hand in the center of the blonde's back and began pushing her out of the room. "Come on, Sis, we can wait for them upstairs!"

"Bobby, stop pushing me!"

"Then walk faster!"

"I think that's the first time I have ever seen Bobby at a loss for words," Vince said as he turned to Dragan, giving him a once over as he handed him his trench. "So... you're Dragon? You're not exactly what I expected."

Dragan smiled at him as he shrugged into the trench. He grimaced as a lance of pain ran through his chest. "Like I haven't heard that one before... Thanks for the loan, bro. And I'm called Dragan, not Dragon!"

Reno frowned when he saw the grimace of pain on the young man's face. "No problem. You sure you don't need a hospital?"

Dragan chuckled and rubbed the new skin covering the sight on the gunshot. "Yeah, I'm just stiff. Give me another 12 hours and you won't be able to tell I was shot. A hospital would ask questions, leave a record... not to mention the breakdown the staff would have when they took my vitals!"

"How did you...?" Reno jerked his thumb at the incinerator.

Dragan shook his head, a knowing smile playing at the corners of his mouth. "Really *Vince*, everyone is entitled to have secrets... Don't you agree?"

Reno smiled nervously at him. "Yeah. Absolutely."

Dragan chuckled, shook his head at Herc and walked toward the exit. Motioning to the long-haired man he said, "Come on. I'll buy you a drink and then you can tell me why the hell you had a shotgun to that guy's head."

Thirty minutes later...

Chyra rolled on the bar laughing as a pair of Fa'lur demons flirted with a wide-eyed Bobby. For his part, he was attempting to be polite and not stare at the impressive beak and claws each sported as he chatted with the black and red furred beings.

Cheyenne watched the tiny dragon as it laughed itself silly, shook her head and looked at Bobby just in time to see one of the people he was sitting with lean in and whisper something to him. Bobby's eyes bulged and he shot Cheyenne a 'Help me" look!

Cheyenne gave a curious look in return, which dissolved into helpless laughter when the other one leaned in and began to gently nibble on Bobby's earlobe, causing him to jump. Cheyenne met his eyes with a wicked smile, shook her head and shrugged before turning back to the bartender. "They're not going to hurt him, are they?"

The bartender chuckled and shook his horned head. "Naw. Fa'lurs don't get into that kind of stuff." He then grinned, displaying a set of sharp canines. "But if they get him to come to their room he will be in for one wild time."

Cheyenne took a drink from her glass and finally couldn't take it anymore. "What's going on? Is this some kind of brothel?"

The bartender's smile faded slightly. "No, ma'am...This is just a place for people trying to have a good time without having to worry about what anybody else thinks."


"Glad to know I'm not the only one who thought that." Chey turned toward the voice just as Herc slid onto the stool beside her. "What he's trying to say, miss, is that nobody is getting paid... other than the staff, that is. They're all here of their own free will, for their own enjoyment."

Cheyenne's felt her jaw drop as she finally got a good look at his face. "You're... you are... aren't you?"

Hercules just smiled friendlily at her. "Call me Kevin... As for your brother, the rules say all he has to do is tell them he's not interested and they have to leave him alone."

Cheyenne looked him over and shook her head muttering. "Guess it proves, you can never tell."

"Huh?" Herc gave her a curious look as he took a drink from his mug of mead.

Cheyenne shrugged and waved a hand at the bar. "Well, I would never have guessed you were into this sort of thing!"

Herc sprayed a mouthful of mead across the bar, and began laughing. "Sorry, but this isn't one of my usual hangouts. I'm just here to see Dragan."

Cheyenne gave him a questioning look. "Why?"

Herc grinned at her. "He's an old friend. I just found out he was in town and... Oh shit!"

At his startled exclamation Cheyenne followed his gaze and stared in surprise at the figure striding toward a desk set in an alcove near the entrance of the club.

Fifteen minutes earlier...

Dragan walked down the stairs to his office, pulling on his shirt as he went. When he reached the bottom, instead of going into the club he turned down a short hallway and stopped in front of a closed door. With a grim smile he placed his hand on a plate beside the door and looked into a peephole-looking device. A moment later the door unlocked with a soft beep.

Turning the handle and pushing the door open, Dragan walked down all three fights of stairs leading to the sub-basement that contained his personal general armory. Entering the pass codes into the security system he sighed in annoyance as the machine beeped and began unsealing the entrance. <Why does everything need one of these confounded things? What is it that makes norms think that everything must have a computer running it? >

Snorting, he walked through the now open door and waited as the door cycled closed. When it had closed several colored beams of light passed across his body as a metal and glass cylinder rose around him. Dragan growled low in his throat as his patience with the security system began to wear thin. "Will you hurry the fuck up already?"

"Why should I?" in a flicker of light a three-dimensional image of a grinning spiky-haired man in a muscle tee and torn jeans appeared on the wall. "You specifically told me not to let *anybody* in here with out going through the full security protocol!"

Dragan glared at the image. "How would you like me to put a computer demon in there to keep you company, Psymon?"

The image raised both its hands in a gesture of surrender, before placing its hands on its cheeks and batting its eyelashes at him. "What do you know, protocol's finished... Go right in Boss."

Dragan grimaced as the cylinder lowered back into the ground. <I'm going to have a long talk to Devon about selling me a crazy defective AI with my mainframe. I mean you can only hold a grudge so long... >

Walking into the armory proper, Dragan grabbed an assault harness with a sheath attached and slipped it on. Then he slipped on a pair of armored fingerless gloves as he walked further into the room, inspecting the weapons as he moved.

Stopping in front of a selection of automatic pistols he pulled open a drawer and began removing clips, slipping them into the ammo pouches on his harness. Going to another section he pulled a duffel bag from a cabinet and set it on the counter. Reaching up he gently lifted a set of cut-down Barrett 82A1 .50's off the rack and after checking the action for wear or dirt placed them in the bag.

Then he began pulling magazines for them out of a locker under the rack, checking the type of ammo in each clip both by tape color and visual inspection before placing them in the bag. <Let's see... fifty rounds armor piercing incinerates, thirty anti-tank rounds, and twenty regulars for each should be enough. >

Considering what else he may need he glanced over the rest of his big toys section, he looked longing at the 40mm semi-auto grenade launcher prototype but decided not to push his luck and grabbed two six-gauge pump shotguns instead. After placing them and two ammo cans of shells in the duffel he closed it and set it by the entrance.

"Oooh, you must have some job lined up Boss!" Dragan glared at the screen on the far side of the armory as he headed back in.

"Not really; just got to teach somebody a lesson about stealing." Dragan pulled an expanding baton off the wall and slid it into a pocket on the harness' belt. "Oh, and I think someone is trying to kill me."

"Again?!" The AI flinched at the look Dragan gave him as he took a garrote off the wall, and faded out. "What a grouch!"

"Definitely have to talk to Devon..." Dragan muttered as he began to load the moon clip holders on his harness' belt. When he was done he had four clips of Demon Killers, six of the hot loads and two that were loaded with rounds that had green tips that he hoped Andy never saw or he would probably never sell to him again.

And gods help him if Chyra ever found out about them! They are basically a normal .45 Long Colt hollow point, except for the tiny capsule filled with the venom of a D'est demon hidden in the core of each round. A bullet made for only one thing: killing someone slowly and painfully. Lifting the clip filled with the last of the green rounds Dragan frowned in thought.

After a moment Dragan sighed and replaced the clips of green rounds with clips of Demon killers. <I must be going soft; two thousand years ago I wouldn't have hesitated to use them... I'm going to get you for this Chyra! I'm not, nor do I want to be, a god damned *Boy Scout*!>

Walking to another section he took a wooden case down off the shelf. Dragan smiled as he opened the case and lifted the stainless steel pistol out of it. He lovingly caressed the .454 Casull's teak wood grip with his thumb before using it to the hit the cylinder release. When it was open he checked both the cylinder and action to ensure they were no problems with them.

When he was satisfied that everything was in working order Dragan slid a clip of hot-loads into it. He grabbed a modified thigh holster and snapped the top strap to his harness; he slid the pistol into the holster and began tightening the straps around his leg. After he had them secured to his liking he looked around the small armory. <I hate going in blind... you never know what you're gonna need. I wish I knew if it would be safe to swing by my Ops armory... the selection here is just too small and there are a few toys there I'd love to have for this. >

Opening a locker near the center of the room he pulled out a trench coat and slid it on. Finally Dragan walked to a rack and pulled off an AK-74 with a suppressor. He slapped a barrel clip loaded with armor piercing ammo into it and chambered a round; then he slipped it over his head to hang across his back opposite the sheath and grabbed two more barrel clips of ammo for it before heading for the exit.

He stopped just short of the entrance. <Okay, what am I forgetting?>

After a moment Dragan smirked, shook his head, looked at a sword hanging above the entrance, and held out his hand. "Hey, Draca. You comin'?"

The Khopesh suddenly flipped off its stand to land hilt first in Dragan's hand.

"You're getting better at that trick, Boss."

He ignored the AI and closed his eyes, a small smile playing at his mouth as the familiar tingle spread through his body. Bringing the blade into a ready stance he began one of the training exercises he had been doing every day up until about the end of the Korean war.

Even though it had been months since he had practiced, the form flowed effortlessly. The blade seemed just another part of his body as he quickly moved through a series of blocks, slashes, thrusts, punches and kicks. A few minutes later he slid the sword into the sheath across his back with a sigh.

"That was so cool! Hey, could you teach me to do that? Then I could go on missions with you and... " Dragan looked at the now armor-clad image on the monitor as it paced back and forth across the screen, swinging a sword as it did.

After a few moments of watching it pace and babble Dragan walked over to a computer terminal and began typing. A moment later a woman's face appeared on the screen. "Knight Foundation. Devon Miles' office; how may I help you?"

"Yes, I'd like to speak to Devon please. It's kind of an emergency..." Dragan said smiling.

"One moment, sir. I'll see if he's available... May I have your name, sir?"

"Tell him it's Dragan." The screen changed to the Knight Foundation logo.

A moment later a man with graying hair and a perplexed expression appeared on the screen. "Hello, Dragan. What's the emergency, and how did you get into our communication system?"

Dragan frowned at the camera above the computer. "Well Devon, what I want to know is... what did I ever do to you to deserve *this*!"

Devon looked confused and shook his head. "I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about."

Dragan growled, reached up and turned the camera to so that it could see the babbling AI. "Him!"

Devon's eyes went wide as the image on the screen suddenly noticed what was going on in the room. It smiled and waved nervously at them. "Hi, Dev... Ummm, 'bye!"

When the screen went blank Dragan turned the camera so it faced him again. With a stunned expression Devon exclaimed, "My word! What was that?"

"You tell me, Devon... I was just playing a video game and suddenly one of the characters started talking to me!" Dragan scowled at the camera. "I tracked it back to the mainframe I bought from the Knight Foundation. When you sold it to me you should have mentioned the ADHD AI that came with the package! No offense, Devon... I'm sure Psymon is an advanced program and all that, but he's as flighty as a fruit bat and I want him out of my network. *NOW*!"

Devon closed his eyes and rubbed his temple. He chuckled as a small smile formed on his face. "Psymon. So that's what happened to it..." Opening his eyes he smiled at the annoyed expression on Dragan's face. "Psymon is a prototype of a personal assistant program. He was designed by one of our researchers as possibly marketable for public use. Unfortunately his base programming is classified, so we placed him in storage. How you got his system instead of the one I agreed to sell you is something I shall have to look into."

"Nice history lesson," Dragan leaned toward the camera. "Now, how about you just tell me how the hell to get rid of him."

"You can't," a feminine voice responded. Devon looked off-screen, sighed and moved over as its owner knelt beside him and continued. "By this point he will have begun to spread to other computers in your network..."

"No shit, lady! The damn thing either has or has tried to take over every damned unsecure system in the network. I can't even check my messages without that nutcase trying to read them to me!" Dragan crossed his arms and glared as the dark-haired woman scowled at him.

"As I was saying... To get him out we would either have to go through every line of code on every one of your computers, or erase your entire network, which would kill him. And even then he could have a backup of himself hidden somewhere." The lady favored him with a sweet smile that never touched her eyes. "I'd suggest just giving him something to do. Stop insulting him and he should be fine."

"Him?! What about me?" Dragan gave them a disgruntled look and turned the camera to show the AI doing a touchdown dance on the screen. "A few more weeks of this shit and I'm gonna force feed him a virus!"

"Hmmm... what else has he been doing?"

"Can that wait one moment, Bonnie dear?" Bonnie looked at Devon strangely but nodded. "Dragan, might I ask why you are armed for Armageddon?"

Dragan winced as he remembered the rifle strapped across his back. Forcing a smile he shrugged. "Got a few errands to run, then I was going to get some shooting in."

"I thought you said you were going to give someone a lesson about stealing?" Dragan felt the chair's headrest crumple in his hands as his face contorted. "Hey, I know! You've got them because someone's trying to kill you again, right?"

The look Dragan gave the AI's image made it cover its head with its hands and cower. "What'd I say? What'd I say?"

Dragan growled at it then turned back to an annoyed looking Devon. Dragan started to say something but was cut off by Devon before he could.

"Would I be correct in assuming that you have not and do not plan to contact the authorities?" The look on Dragan's face was all the answer Devon needed. "Dragan, you really should let them handle it."

"Yeah, right, Devon!" Dragan shook his head. "I call the authorities, they're gonna start digging into my past... we both know I can't afford that! I live outside the law; it can't touch me so it won't help me and that's the way it has to stay." The look on Devon's face made Dragan roll his eyes and sigh. "Look, I'll call you back when this is taken care of."

"Dragan..." the screen went blank as Dragan severed the connection, cutting Devon off. Grimacing he rubbed the sore place on his chest. He sighed as he turned to leave, then hesitated and opened a drawer. He removed three stun grenades and three HE grenades attaching each to his harness before he moved to a locker near the back of the room and removed a black case. <Time to get some answers!>

Knight Foundation Command Trailer
San Diego, CA

"Dragan... Dragan...! Blast it all!" Devon said slamming his fist onto the desktop. When he saw Bonnie's expression he took a deep breath, composing himself as he released it. "Very well then...."

Devon typed a command into the computer, a few moments later the smiling face of a dark-haired man appeared on the monitor. "Hello Devon... What's up?"

"Hello, Michael. Where are you?" Devon asked, his face carefully neutral.

"About ten minutes south of L.A.... why?" Michael asked a concerned expression on his face.

"It seems that an old acquaintance from my MI6 years has gotten himself into a bit of trouble. It appears someone is trying to kill him." Devon sighed and shook his head "I'm afraid Dragan isn't in a position to go to the authorities..."

"Huh?" Michael gave him an incredulous look. "Are you trying to say he's a crook?"

"Technically, no, he's not." Devon shook his head at Michael's question. "He's... what is commonly called an independent contractor in the intelligence circles. As such he live on the edges of the law, if he goes to the authorities... there is the very real possibility of them investigating him; Which would lead to questions about his former employers.... " Devon left the sentence hanging.

"Independent contractor...?" Michael said aloud.

"He means a mercenary, Michael." KITT said

"Oh, that's just great! So, what? He called and asked you to help him figure out who's trying to kill him?" Michael said more than asked.

"Not exactly," Devon said with a pensive expression. "He plans to handle the matter himself. I want you to try to find them before he does so that he doesn't turn L.A. into a war zone in the process."

"Who would notice if he did?" Michael flinched at the look on Devon's face. "Sorry. Are you sure we shouldn't just bust him instead?" Michael asked.

"Michael, this man has worked for the foundation in the past. He may not be perfect but he is one of our own. I'm uploading what little information we have now." Devon leaned close to the camera. "No matter how it seems, this is a good man."

The computer monitor in the central console flashed a grainy picture on the screen. Michael quickly read what was available, "Ok, Devon. KITT and I will see what we can do." The console switched back to the performance displays.

"Michael, I've accessed the NSA and the CIA databases. It would appear that Mr. Dragan has worked both sides of the street; there are references showing that he has worked for both agencies in the past, but they both have informational alerts out on him."

"They don't want him arrested? That doesn't make any sense. Just who is this guy?"

"That would seem to be the logical place to start."

"Ok, KITT. At least we know where to begin. Start with the California Department of Motor Vehicles; let's see if Mr. Dragon owns a car. After that, let's see if he pays taxes."

"I working on it Michael but it will most likely take a while."

"It takes what it takes. If Devon thinks this guy is worth saving then we'll do our best to give him a hand."

"Hello Vince."

Reno turned and smiled at the pink-skinned woman. "Hi yourself, Tease."

"You seem to be handling all of this well." She said giving him a small smile as she slipped onto the stool beside him and leaned against the bar. "Or did you already know that humans weren't alone in the universe?"

"Truthfully? I had no idea, but I haven't been given a reason to have a problem with this..." Reno gestured in the direction of the tables, shook his head and chuckled. "Or I could be in shock; I'll get back to you on that."

Tease giggled, closed her eyes and shook her head smiling. "You humans have strange senses of humor!"

Reno started to say something when his stomach rumbled.

Tease raised an eyebrow and smirked at his embarrassed expression. "Hungry, huh? The kitchen doesn't open for another hour... but I just got off, you can join me for dinner if you like."

Reno thought about it for a moment. "Just dinner?"

Tease smiled sweetly at him. "That's what I had in mind."

"Sure, then." reaching over he tapped Cheyenne on the shoulder "Hey, Chey, I'm gonna go grab a bite to eat. All right?"

"All right, Vince." Cheyenne said absently as she watched the small dragon devour a grape with a look of ecstasy on its face.

Reno shook his head and followed Tease to a door marked 'Staff Only', up a flight of stairs and down a hall. When she unlocked the door they came to, Reno found himself led into the living room of a decent sized apartment.

"I need to get out of these clothes!" Tease said, heading toward a door on the right side of the apartment, and waved at an open doorway on the left. "The fridge is in the kitchen; pick out whatever you want... I'll be there in a moment."

Reno entered the kitchen, opened the large fridge, and stared. The selection was huge... fruits, vegetables, and meats of all types. "Quite a selection you have here..."

"Thanks. I never know what I'm going to want! So I keep a little of everything...." Her voice drifted back from across the other side of the apartment. A moment later he heard a door open in the room behind him followed shortly by someone entering the kitchen.

Shaking his head, he squatted down, picked out a couple of steaks and potatoes before standing. "Not to be rude or anything but I've got to know... what exactly are you?"

Reno's eyes went wide as she leaned against him and whispered the answer. "A Succubus..."

"*Oh, brother...*" Reno whispered as the food fell from his suddenly numb fingers.

Michael glared at the binders that were biting into his wrists for the fifth time since he had awakened to find himself bound by his wrists and ankles to this chair; he was stripped to his briefs. The sound of a door opening behind him made Michael start. A moment later Dragan walked past him and set a case on a table against the wall.

As Michael watched Dragan opened the case revealing an impressive collection of medical equipment, both modern and medieval. Michael stared at the case wide-eyed and slack-jawed as his thoughts became a mass of gibbering nonsense. <ohmygodnobodymeantionedhewasintotortureI'mgonnakillTraversifIsurvivethis!>

Dragan glanced at the bound man and chuckled at his expression as he searched the case. "Don't worry kiddo; today's your lucky day. Not only don't I have the time to question you the old-fashioned way, but I have a couple of friends upstairs that would do unspeakable things to me if they found out I used this stuff on you. Got'cha!"

Dragan pulled a bottle from the lid of the case and pulled an old-fashioned syringe out of a clip on the folded down front panel. Dragan stuck the needle into the top of the bottle and pulled back the syringe until half the contents of the bottle were in the syringe. Dragan smiled and put the bottle onto the table then held the syringe up and flicked it, trying to get the tiny bubbles out of it.

"In case you're wondering, this is De'nec. It's a truth serum made by The Order of Taraka. I'm not sure what they use it for or what's in it for that matter but it has a 100 percent success rate." Dragan squeezed the syringe's plunger then smiled sheepishly at the bound man. "Now, you're going to have to bear with me. I've never had a chance to use this stuff before. I'm not sure of the proper dose... you wouldn't happen to know, would you?"

Michael stared at the very full syringe in Dragan's hand, his mouth moving silently. Finally Dragan shrugged, knelt beside him and began patting his arm. When he found a vein he slid the needle in and pushed the plunger down until about a third of the fluid was gone. "Oh, well. I know this much is bound to work. Although... I don't know what it will do to you, so I guess it's a good thing I have your nine buddies if I mess up."

As Dragan watched, Michael's eyes slowly glazed over as his body language took on an intoxicated appearance. "What's your name?" Michael's face clinched and his breath rate increased. "Don't fight it... what's your name."

"Mic... Michael..."

Dragan smiled and crossed his arms. "Who hired you, Michael?"

"The... the Council... the Watchers Council... We were hired by a man... works for them. A guy named Travers. He... he said they couldn't be connected with it, paid us double in advance. Said we'd get more if we brought proof..." Michael said in a dazed voice. Dragan rocked back on his heels, a shocked expression on his face that disappeared quickly behind a cold emotionless mask.

"What do you know about the attack on my house?" Dragan asked as the man's unfocused eyes traveled unseeing around the room.

"Nothing... We decided to do it here; house too heavily guarded..."

Dragan's eyes were ice cold when they looked into the bound man's drugged hazed eyes. "You got proof it was the council?"

Michael blinked at him slowly. "Our base camp is in an abandoned warehouse... over on Sixteenth, big blue building, there's a van inside... you'll find a laptop with the info the Watcher gave us..."

Dragan put the syringe on the table, stood and walked out.

Dragan picked up the duffel as he entered the stairwell, and then jumped when a loud beeping came from it. Cursing, he took several deep breaths as adrenaline flooded his system. When he had his breathing under control he opened the pocket the noise was coming from and removed a tactical radio. Sliding the earpiece on, he grabbed the mike and hit the call button. "What! ...Over."

"It's Makael, sir. We found them in the warehouse district; they are transferring the items to new vehicles, you better send back-up fast... they're nearly finished loading one of them. Over."

Dragan rolled his eyes. "An address would be helpful, Makael. Over."

"Sorry, sir. Eighteenth Avenue, between Seventh and Sixth Street, over."

Dragan started up the stairs again. "Okay, back-up's on the way; keep your heads down and wait for it. You reading me, Makael? Over."

"Yes, Dad! Over."

Dragan chuckled at the sarcastic reply. "That's 'Yes Dad, Sir' and don't you forget it, kiddo... Over!"


Dragan switched frequencies and relayed the address to main security with orders to get back-up there ASAP before exiting the door to his office. He headed for the weapons locker to retrieve the weapon he had turned in earlier.

As he approached, the person working the cage pulled a lock box out of one of the cubbies on the wall, set it on the counter and unlocked it. Dragan opened the case, picked up the pistol and examined it. He slid the clip into the Bren Ten, chambered a round and slipped it into a shoulder holster.


Dragan turned to find Hercules and Cheyenne standing behind him. Seeing the expression on Herc's face he frowned. "Yes? Is there something I can help you with?"

Herc crossed his arms and favored Dragan with a half smile. "We have a discussion to finish... and I believe the young lady may have some questions for you."

Dragan gave Cheyenne an inquisitive look. "Well?"

Cheyenne smirked and shrugged at him. "Just wondering what we've gotten ourselves into; if we were going to see any fallout from helping you, and where you're headed that you need all that hardware?"

Herc coughed and raised his hand like a kid in school. "I'll admit to being curious about that myself."

Dragan sighed and raised his hand to count off each point as he covered it. "Somebody tried to have me killed; I doubt that even if they were to learn of your involvement they would take time out of trying to cover their collective ass to send anyone to bother you. As to where I'm headed... not that it's any of your business, but I've had a small security breach and am going to retrieve some stolen property."

Herc's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "What exactly did they steal out of that vault? I mean, your reaction to the news was kind of extreme."

Dragan scratched the back of his head and glanced around before quietly answering Herc's question in ancient Greek. "~ The vaults are where I keep the magical items I've found too dangerous to chance having anyone use them. Vault seven contained, among other things, part of the Scrolls of Telkhines, The Box of Gavrock - a vital item for a first circle ascension ritual, and a whole lot of other things that are best kept out of circulation. ~"

Dragan watched Herc's face pale then flush red a moment later.

"*Are you out of your mind?*" Hercules hissed. "What in the hell would make you think..."

*BEEP BEEP* Herc watched as Dragan and all of the security personnel automatically changed the frequency on their radios when they began signaling for their attention. Hercules jumped as the sound of a yelling voice mixed with gunfire suddenly filled the room.

"We are taking fire...one got away...Travis is down...need immediate assistance...get your asses in gear, I'm running out of blades!"


Herc turned just in time to see Dragan throw the remains of the front door to the sidewalk as he ran toward a building across the street with Chyra hot on his heels. Hercules had just passed through the doorway when Dragan vanished as he reached, then passed through, where the wall should have been.

"What the Hell...?" Herc looked behind him and found a wide-eyed Bobby and Cheyenne staring across the street at the place Dragan had vanished.

"Illusion spell...Magic." Herc shrugged at their expressions of disbelief and started across the street. "Welcome to the real world!"

"Oh this just keeps getting better and better!" Bobby muttered behind him before adding loudly. "Hey you wouldn't happen to know where we could buy tickets back to 'fantasy land'?"

"If I did do you think I would still be here?" Herc said in an amused tone, right before a bronze Hummer roared out of the wall squealing to a stop just short of them.

Dragan glared at them through the windshield for a moment before losing his patience. "I don't care if you're coming or going, but GET YOUR ASS OUT OF THE WAY!"

Dragan scowled at Herc as he opened the passenger door and took the shotgun seat. Neither noticing nor caring that Cheyenne and an apprehensive Bobby climbed into the back seat, he stomped on the accelerator pedal, smoking all four wheels as he sped away.

KITT was strangely silent as Michael drove down the freeway system of Los Angeles. Usually he kept up a fairly constant chatter when the two of them were alone. It was almost as if he couldn't believe what he was finding. "Michael, I have something. I'm not sure you're going to believe it."

"Talk to me, partner." Michael said as he turned off of the freeway and into the city proper.

"California Department of Motor Vehicles reports that a 1992 Hummer is registered to Dragan Security, Inc." KITT stated. "That's the closest match I could find. The address and the relevant information are coming through now."

"Great going, partner!" Michael said with a smile. "Plot me a course for that address."

"Already done, Michael. However, I'm afraid there's more..." KITT said in an annoyed tone.

"Well don't leave me in suspense, buddy. What did you find?"

"Well when I scanned for his vehicle's record I ran a search through several of the larger insurance companies to compare the addresses to see if they matched. However, when I did I discovered that, while the policy was in his name, it also happened to be part of a larger policy belonging to a Dragon Arms Security, Inc."

"He works for a security company, so what?" Michael asked confused.

"No Michael, it was added as a supplement to the original policy. Only the owner of the policy can do that." KITT explained. "So it stands to reason that he owns the Security Company... but it became very interesting when I began checking into Dragon Arms. It seems that Dragon Arms is relatively small though it's also a holding company, It owns controlling interest in several other companies that are about the same size. Now here is where it gets interesting, Michael. Each of these companies own a percentage of stock in smaller companies which when added together equals a controlling interest. Now each of these smaller companies own percentages in other companies; every time they acquire control of a new company it begins the same process... you see where this is going, Michael?" KITT asked in an ominous tone.

"Michael, if these records are correct this has been going on since silently before World War Two. Some of these companies were acquired over a period of decades, the buyer slowly nibbling away at the stock. I'm one of the most advanced computers in the world and I'm still getting a headache trying to keep all the connections straight. If I hadn't started at the beginning I doubt I would be as far as I am." KITT stated in an annoyed tone. "The very simplistic nature of this strategy makes it extremely difficult to get anywhere, even if anyone were suspicious of a company buying a half percent of stock in another."

"So his family's been secretly taking over companies since the turn of the century," Michael shook his head. "Talk about dysfunctional families. So why does someone with these kinds of resources work as a mercenary?"

"I don't know Michael. Why don't we turn around and ask him? According to the license plate, that was Dragan's Hummer that just past us," KITT said in an amused tone. "That is, of course, assuming that it's the same man. There is a .079 percent chance that I'm wrong." KITT came as close to laughing as he possibly could. He'd done his job and it was Michael's task to decide on a course of action.

"What...? Damn it!" Michael looked in the rearview mirror just in time to see a bronze truck fishtail around the corner behind him. Spinning the wheel he gunned the motor, whipping KITT through a tight U-turn on the nearly deserted street and took off in pursuit. "KITT, get me Devon."

A moment later Devon's confused face appeared on the center console. "Yes, Michael? Have you something to report already?"

"Yeah. Your friend Dragan is a nutcase!" Michael said with smirk. "We did some checking on him and it seems he's buying the world one share at a time."

"Really Michael, one would think you would wait until you had all the facts before you jumped to conclusions." Devon frowned in disapproval at him. "I believe if you did some checking into the individual companies you'd find in most cases they are run independently by Board of Directors that have no idea Dragan even exists."

"You knew!" Michael exclaimed as the Hummer they were rapidly gaining on slid around another corner.

"While I admit that his actions are a little strange, I cannot overstate the benefits that his actions have done. Wilton Knight was very fond of Dragan; as such, I believe he is entitled to our help without your suspicions overshadowing his life." Devon's face drew closer to the camera, "I'm your advisor. Wilton left command to you. You have to decide, is my advice sound?"

When Devon challenged him that way, Michael had no other choice but to trust that Devon was doing the right thing. "I hope you're right about this, Devon."

Chapter 2

"Dragan, would you slow down before you get us all killed!" Herc yelped as the vehicle slid through a turn at nearly fifty miles an hour. The only answer was the roar of the engine as Dragan floored the accelerator again.

"Herc, take the wheel for a sec." Herc grabbed for the wheel as Dragan released it and reached between the seats. He lifted the AK-74 into his lap before opening a concealed lock box in the center console. Then he slipped the rifle's strap over his head before running his fingers along the neck of his trench, pulling a concealed piece of material out and over his head so that it covered all but his face.

After he finished adjusting the hood he reached into the lock box, removed something white from it, tilted his head down and pulled it over his head. After fumbling at his collar for a moment he snapped it closed before fastening the collar belt on the jacket firmly around his neck.

"What the hell...?" Herc muttered as Dragan donned a pale death mask that was frozen in a perpetual maniacal grin that threatens to split its face. Then he pulled a black fedora from behind Herc's seat, placed it on his head and tightened the hat strings.

Dragan pushed the cruise control after he was satisfied the hat was secure, then turned to look at Herc and shrugged. "See ya." In one smooth motion he popped the driver's door open and dove out of the vehicle. Grabbing a lamp post with his free hand he spun around it twice to absorb most of the inertia from the car's speed before letting go of it, dropping to the sidewalk and running toward the gunfire coming from half a block away.

Makael glanced over the hood of the car he was pinned behind then cursed as bullets peppered the vehicle, making him duck. The laughter that followed made him frown as he pulled one of his few remaining throwing knives from one of the empty sheaths on his body, moved slightly, then popped up again, aiming and throwing at the same time. The pain filled cry that accompanied the gunfire made Makael chuckle. "Overconfident amateurs..."

"Don't get cocky, kid!" A rough voice growled. "You may be good with those things but there is a good reason for the saying, 'don't bring a knife to a gunfight'!"

Makael glanced at the pale man lying on the ground beside him. "Your gun did you a lot of good, Travis."

The older-looking man glared up at him, his teeth gritted with his arm wrapped around his chest just under the ragged hole in his vest. "Well, if I hadn't had to try covering all of us this probably wouldn't have happened."

"Hey, it's not my fault that the crossbow's cable broke!" Makael growled as a bullet bounced off the street beside him.

"Of course not," Travis said smiling grimly up at him. "But exactly what good is a weapon that takes ten seconds to reload, or knives for that matter, against guys with automatic weapons? All they have to do is stay on the far sidewalk and they're out of range... Your pop isn't going to put up with this forever!"

Makael's reply was cut off by the panicked cries from the men pinning them down. When he glanced over the car again he paled and ducked behind car again. "Oh, no..."


"Pop's here..."

Herc felt his eyes bulge as Dragan dove out of the vehicle at 70 mph. He stared at the empty seat for a moment before the situation hit home. < I'm gonna kill Dragan. >

"One side, big guy," Cheyenne said as she climbed over the center console and slid into the driver's seat. Stepping on the brake she slowed the Hummer, then pulled a U-turn and headed back toward the spot Dragan had jumped just in time to see a black Trans Am turn the corner.

Michael's eyes bugged as he saw someone dive out of the speeding vehicle ahead of them, use a lamp post like some kind of gymnastic bar, and then take off running up a side street. "Holy... How in the heck did he do that?" Michael muttered as the Hummer's brake lights came and it started to turn around. When he came to the intersection he spun the wheel, sending KITT through the turn in pursuit.

"Michael, what are you doing?" Kit asked in confusion.

"I think the guy that jumped was Drag... Whoa!" Michael slammed on the gas as he saw the group of men turning automatic weapons toward the running person. Quickly passing him he spun KITT between the runner and the shooters, only to have the person plant their foot on the hood and crouch there for a split second before launching themselves off.

"Shit!" Michael yelled as KITT lurched onto two wheels then slammed back onto all four. Michael turned toward the gunmen and stared wide-eyed as he watched the masked figure land on a man lying on top of a van parked farther down the block... at least fifty feet down the block.

"KITT, how...?" Michael said his mind fighting to fit what just happened within reality.

"Don't ask me, Michael!" KITT exclaimed. "According to the laws of physics what my sensors are telling me is impossible!"


"Damn it, they're too close to the crates!" Dragan growled as he ran toward the gunmen and lowering his rifle as he started to run faster.

"Hey boss, what's happening?"

Dragan almost leapt out of his skin when the unexpected voice came through the mask's audio. < What the Hell...?! > "Pysmon?"

"No it's IRS; we would like to speak to you about tax returns!"

Dragan began grinding his teeth. "What do you think you're doing?"

"I detected a new system link into the network; I just had to check it out."

"Well get out! I don't have time for this, you defective son of a... * SHIT! *" Dragan growled, he had barely covered half the remaining distance to the gunmen; however one of them had noticed his approach and alerted the others.

"Uh... Boss, what's going on?"

"Not now Psymon!" Dragan snarled at the AI. He suddenly heard the sound of an engine revving come from behind him an instant before a black Trans-Am roared past him and slid to a stop directly in his path.

< Somebody watches too much TV! No way is that going to work... those rifles will rip through that ego enhancement like tissue. > When he glanced at the gunmen he saw a sniper lying prone on the roof of one of the crate-surrounded vans they were gathered around, pointing a rifle at a bullet ridden car across the street. < Looks like I'll have to push myself if I don't want this to get messy. >

Clenching his teeth, he centered himself and flipped a mental switch temporarily shutting down his pain centers completely. He placed a foot on the front quarter panel of the black car and allowed his forward momentum to lift him onto the car as he pulled his other up foot beside it before kicking off hard. < That should keep Mr. Boy Scout from trying any more suicidal heroics... I'll have to remember to have the motor pool fix his car's suspension. >

At the peak of his jump he drew the Bren from his open trench, thumbed the fire selector on the AK-74 to full auto and picked his initial targets, only to throw the whole plan out the proverbial window as it became evident that he wasn't going to land beside the van as he had expected. < Oh shit... Guess I wing it again! >

Dragan put his legs together a second before he landed on the oblivious sniper's back. The loud snapping sound making Dragan wince as he rolled forward and off the front of the van. When he hit the ground he twisted and strafed the legs of two of the men, with the AK-74, as they turned their MP5s toward him.

< Can't kill them... they might have the info I need... someone *had* to help them get in that vault; I need to know who! > Dragan growled as he climbed to his feet, bringing the 10mm pistol to bear on another of the gunmen as they dove for cover. Dragan fired then mentally cursed as he missed, the bullet digging into the corner of one of the crates. < Okay that's five hours extra target practice for me... right after I have somebody take a look at my Bren's sights. >

After a quick sweep of the area in front of the vans showed no one else, Dragan turned and walked down the aisle formed by the vans. When he reached the end he checked to see if it was clear then turned left, moving between the back of a van and the building until he came to an alley-like space between the warehouses, that was partly hidden by a stack of crates.

Dragan peeked around the corner, cursed and stepped around the corner raising his rifle toward the man double-timing it up the ladder to the roof. Aiming well above his head Dragan opened fire, then watched as the climber instantly shifted his grip, slid down the ladder to the ground and dove for cover behind a couple of metal barrels.

Something slammed into Dragan from behind knocking him off his feet, half spinning him around before he slammed into the ground. Both the assault rifle and Bren flew from his hands as his head bounced off the pavement hard enough to send his senses reeling as a coppery taste filled his mouth.

"Boss... you alright boss? Talk to me boss!"

Blinking rapidly to clear his vision, Dragan lay there for a moment letting his ears stop ringing and vision stop spinning. Growling, he drew the Casull from its thigh holster as he turned onto his back. Seeing a man standing beside the van chambering another round in his shotgun, he aimed and fired.

The young man stared at Dragan in confusion for a second before looking down and screaming at the severed arm lying on the ground at his feet, staring so intently that he never noticed the person coming up behind him before every thing went black.

Herc shook his head as he watched Dragan use the Trans Am as a springboard. "What a showoff!"

"Showoff he says... guy starts jumping around like we're in a B Kung-fu movie and he just says he's a showoff..." Herc turned and looked back at Bobby who was staring out the windshield muttering. "Are you alright?"

Bobby slowly turned to look at Herc with an incredulous expression. "No, I'm not alright! In the last hour I've been hit, burned, met a pint-sized dragon, seen someone that had been shot get thrown into incinerator only to get better, been hit on by a pair of demons, seen someone run through a brick wall only to drive out of it a minute later! And so far nobody has told us anything about what the heck is going on! *Now* what exactly do I have to be *Alright* about?!"

Herc shook his head and chuckled as Cheyenne pulled the Hummer to a stop beside the Trans Am. "Not much, I guess... But to be fair you haven't really asked anything either. When we catch up to Dragan we can play twenty questions if you want. Just try and keep your head on straight until then. Okay?"

Bobby stared at the big man as he popped open the door, got out and went to check on the guy in the Trans Am. "*My* head on straight...?"

"Well you are acting a little out of it. Are you going to be okay?" Cheyenne said from the front seat.

Bobby shook his head and sighed as he opened his door. "Yeah, just getting a little pissed about being the only one that doesn't seem to know what's going on!" Bobby looked behind the Hummer and slammed the door close with a curse as two vans roared past, screeching to halt beside a bullet-ridden car.

Michael jumped as someone knocked on the passenger side window. When he looked he found a large brown-haired man squatting beside KITT. "Are you alright in there?"

Michael nodded at him. "Yeah, I think so..."

"Good," the man said as he stood and jogged toward where the guy in the mask had disappeared.

Michael stared for a second then cursed and climbed out of KITT. "KITT call the authorities..."

"Already done, Michael. However, I estimate it will take at least another twenty minutes before they can arrive... Michael, look out!"

Michael jumped back as two vans shot by him and slid to a stop. Their doors opened before they had fully stopped as people jumped out and scattered into groups of two or three. Michael's hands went up as he found himself looking at the business end of one of the groups' weapons. "Whoa there fellas... I think we have a case of mistaken identity here!"

Chapter 3

"He's a civie boy scout, guys! Sweep the area, and then help with the recovery. Double time! We've only got fifteen minutes before we have to pull out."

Michael sighed in relief when the ski-masked individuals turned their heads and nodded, then crossed the street and vanished down an alleyway. When he looked in the direction the orders had come from he found an oriental kid that appeared to be in his late teens. "Umm... Hi."

The kid smirked, shook his head and started to walk away. "You can put your arms down now... It makes you look ridiculous," he said back over his shoulder.

Michael blinked, looked at his still raised hands and dropped them to his side with a frown. With a few quick steps he caught up to the kid and reached out to grab him by the arm. "Hey, kid, hold it right there..."

Michael felt the air driven from his lungs as the kid grabbed his hand, pulled on it hard and spun around driving his knee into Michael's solar plexus. Michael went to his knees, taking deep shuddering breaths as he fought to get air back into his lungs.

When he finally looked up he found the kid looking at him strangely, a sword sitting on his shoulder and Michael's wallet in his other hand. Michael blinked dumbly as the kid handed him his wallet and returned the sword to the sheath across his back. "Sorry about that, mister. In my defense, you really shouldn't grab someone from behind like that."

"Huh..." The last few minutes had sent Michael's mind through so many crazy turns that that was the best he could come up with before a loud gun shot followed by screaming distracted him.

Chyra sat on top of the warehouse watching Dragan with a thoughtful expression which turned sour when she saw him sever his attacker's arm. < Fifteen hundred years and he's still at it! > Chyra shook her head with a sigh as the person behind the barrels stood up and opened fire with an MP5.

"At least he's getting better at showing restraint..." Chyra muttered and watched the sparks as the bullets bounced off Dragan's armor. He slowly he got to his feet and turned to face the gunman. Chyra winced as several rounds bounced off the lighter armor of his shirt and pants before the gun locked on empty.

The man dropped the empty weapon, pulled a knife and charged Dragan. Chyra closed her eyes and sighed; she shook her head as the sounds of breaking bones echoed down the alley. "Guess I spoke too soon."

Hercules made it to the vans just in time to hear a shotgun go off. After a quick glance at a pair of unconscious men with bullet holes in their legs showed they were still breathing, Herc moved toward the front of the vans. He jumped as a loud roar filled the air, and then flinched as it was replaced by high-pitched screaming.

With a muttered curse Herc threw all caution to the wind and ran toward the screaming. When he got to its source his face fell at the sight of the one-armed man screaming at his severed arm. Herc came up behind the injured man and sent him to dreamland with a blow to the head. As Herc caught the limp form he glared daggers at Dragan's rising form. He saw the sparks start flying off him and dragged the unconscious body so that the van was blocking them from the shooter.

When the shooting stopped Hercules looked around the corner just in time to see someone charge Dragan with a knife. As the man neared him Dragan's entire body language changed as he dropped the gun and went into a fighting stance. < Where have I...? Oh, no! >

Herc charged Dragan as fast as he could, wincing as Dragan grabbed the hand with the knife and squeezed hard enough to break several of its bones. Dragan then snapped a kick to the man's gut that threw him into the warehouse wall hard enough to leave a dent.

Hercules reached Dragan, who was standing over the man's wreathing form, grabbed him by the collar of his jacket and pushed him up against the wall. "That's enough, Dragan! What where you trying to do? Kill him?"

Dragan's hands came up, grabbed Herc wrists and tried to push them away. Hercules just pushed harder, waiting for an answer. What he got was lifted off the ground by Dragan's knee to his groin and knocked to the ground by the head butt that followed it.

Dragan slid to his knees as he unfastened the jacket's collar belt, opened the collar and pulled the mask off his purple face. He knelt there coughing and gasping for a moment before squinting at Hercules with a shaky half grin. "It's easier to answer a question when you can breath!"

Cheyenne edged past Bobby so she could peek around the corner of the van and jumped when a golden head popped into view. "What are you sneaking around for? If you're thinking of borrowing something from the vans, just ask first."

Chey glared at Chyra as the tiny dragon and grinned, her lack of repentance at scaring a few years off her life clear. "We weren't going to 'borrow' anything. We don't know whose side these guys were on so we were checking to see what they were doing!"

Chyra shook her head and sighed in annoyance. "They're members of Dragan's security and are currently sweeping the area for the rest of the gunmen. For their sakes I hope they get them all; Dragan is going to be pissed with them for a while as it is..." Chyra gave a pointed look behind them. "They should have beaten us here!"

"Cut us a break, Chyra!" Cheyenne jumped at the unexpected voice behind her. She turned and stared at the young woman standing behind her. "We were off duty... forty minutes from the Glade to HQ and here is pretty damn good in my opinion!"

"Maybe. But then you're not the one that says what's acceptable, are you? " Chyra said in an icy tone. "That might have been a very good time in whatever second rate group you were recruited from... but you should have been to HQ and equipped in seven minutes. By my reckoning it took you over thirty! That kind of incompetence is unacceptable!"

"It takes twenty minutes to *fly* to HQ..." the young woman began but was cut off by the small dragon.

"That's no excuse!" Chyra shook her head and sighed in frustration. "Help finish the sweep of the area. When we get back to HQ, you will report to the training center office for enrollment in remedial courses."

The young lady's eyes where blazing and Cheyenne could practically hear her teeth grind as she walked away. Chey looked at the miniature dragon after a moment. "She seemed pretty mad..."

"She should be," said a young oriental man as he stepped around the end of the van. "That was only her first offense... remedial courses are given for second offenses."

Chyra looked over at him and cocked her head inquisitively. "So, would you rather have her close at hand when your dad reads the reports on this, Makael? It's pretty obvious that she didn't know, or at least didn't follow, the correct procedure for an emergency recall."

Makael flinched and nodded. "Good point. I'd rather not have to deal with that... but I am going to have a little talk with the senior officers! I want to know why *they* didn't make sure the correct procedure was used!"

Chyra nodded and scratched the back of her head with her tail. "Let me know what they say. I'd like to know that myself!"

Michael blinked in confusion as he watched the group of ski-masked individuals return dragging or carrying similarly dressed people to the other vans and roughly throwing them through the open side-doors. After a few moments one of them walked over to where to the van he was sitting in the sliding door of and knelt in front of him, pulled out a pin light and began shining it into his eyes. < What the hell? >

A moment later they put away the light and pulled his hand away from where the kid had hit him. The medic pulled up his shirt and began probing the area.

"What do you think you're doing?" Michael yelped as he grabbed the person's shoulder, then froze at the feeling of cool metal against his throat. Slowly looking down, Michael saw that the person now had a stiletto pressed to his throat. Raising his eyes he met theirs and swallowed hard. "Interesting bedside manner you have..."

The person just hissed something Michael didn't understand, put away the knife and went back to examining his abdomen. "Hey, partner, you got any idea what they just said?"

"She said that while she doesn't find you unattractive, she does expect to be asked first... and don't call me partner." Michael looked to find a young man with green hair looking down at him suspiciously. "We'll tow your car back and get the damage fixed. While we're on the subject, despite what you may have seen on TV bullets don't just bounce off cars! Now, I appreciate what you were trying to do, but all you would have done is gotten yourself killed."

"Kid, I don't need any lectures on what will or will not get me killed from someone half my age..." Michael trailed off as his breath hissed out as the person's probing pressed an especially tender area. "Look, I'm looking for a guy named Dragan. Now either tell me where I can find him or call off Madam Pain here so I can go find him myself."

"Well, what do you want?" the young man asked in a neutral tone of voice as the woman stood up, nodded to him and walked off.

Michael shook his head at the young man, snorted and began to stand up. "Fine, I'll find him my..."

Michael trailed off when he heard the sound of a gun being cocked. He looked at the guy with green hair again and swallowed when he saw that the kid was now holding one of the largest revolvers he had ever seen loosely at his side.

"So far today I have been attacked, robbed, shot, strangled, found out that most of my supervisors are fucking idiots and had both my house and club broken into... AND IT ISN'T EVEN NOON!!" Michael's eyes bulged as the pistol was pointed at him. "Now you have thirty seconds to tell me why the HELL you're looking for me or I'm going to shoot you in the *balls*!"


Dragan lowered the weapon as he spun towards the speaker. "WHAT?"

Dragan's head jerked back and he was lifted into a short arch that ended on the hood of his Hummer.

Michael felt his jaw drop as after a few moments Dragan slowly sat up and rubbed his jaw before climbing off the hood. Dragan slowly walked back, still rubbing his jaw, to the spot he had been standing, and looked up at the brown-haired man solemnly for a moment before speaking. "Nerk wied dew blake my taw?"

"For killing any future chance of my fathering children!" the brown-haired man then turned and walked stiffly to one of the vans. He picked up a cold pack, sat down and placed it on his crotch with a groan. Meanwhile the kid with the green hair staggered to a crate and drew a red glowing sword as he sat down with a groan.

"Childish, aren't they?" Michael turned toward the voice and looked around in confusion when he saw no one there. Seeing movement out of the corner of his eye he glanced down and stared at the small dragon walking by, dragging Dragan's revolver with its tail.

After a moment it looked up again, smiled and winked at him. "See something you like?"

Michael blinked deliberately before trying to jump to his feet only to have something slam into his head, making his vision swim; everything slowly went black.

Dragan jerked with a pained curse when he heard Chyra yell in surprise. Dragan frowned when, after a quick glance around, he couldn't find her. Groaning softly he slowly got to his feet and began following the muffled sound of her voice.

Finally he found himself looking down at a golden tail sticking out from under the torso of a man lying on the asphalt. Wincing as the bruise on his back complained he reached down and grabbed the tail. He picked up his revolver and pulled the cursing dragon out from under the prone figure. "You okay?"

Chyra looked up at his upside image and growled. "No, I prefer to get dinner and a movie first!"

Dragan shook his head and stood up. He let go of her, ignoring her startled yelp as she hit the ground, and walked away.

One hour later

"Shit..." the driver of the unmarked car cursed as he turned the corner and saw the circus that the scene had already turned into. He got as close to the scene as he could before he pulled his car to a stop and got out, nodding at the two people heading toward him. "What have we got, Danny?"

"We got some weird shit is what we got!" The Hispanic man answered as he shook his head and rubbed his necklace. "We get a call that we got a goddamn fire-fight going on down here; it takes the first car twenty-five minutes to get here. When they get here they find enough shell casings, bullet holes and blood to make them think that a small war went down."

"Damn. How many bodies we got?"

"That's just it. There aren't any!" At the black man's shocked expression he nodded. "Not a one. We got a bunch of evidence that says we should have bodies but there's not one body lying around."

"That's perfect. So you're telling me that in less than twenty-five minutes somebody had a fire-fight, hid the bodies and disappeared... They're going to love us for this back at headquarters." Shaking his head he stopped and frowned. "Hey, Danny-boy. Who the hell is that?"

Danny followed his gaze to the young Asian man sitting bracketed by police and frowned. "Don't know, Mike, but what he is, is a PR nightmare in the making!"


Danny took off his hat and ran his fingers through his hair as he consulted his notebook with a sigh. "He was here when the first officers got to the scene. After searching the area they attempted to question him. He either doesn't speak English or was flat out ignoring them, and us, for that matter. Well, let's just say one of the officers didn't appreciate it."

"Let me guess..." Mike said rubbing his knuckles.

Danny nodded. "According to witnesses he decked the kid and then yanked him up by the hair yelling--and I quote-- 'Talk, you fucking chink!'"

Mike scowled. "Oh that's just great! Any chance I could get a word with this dip-shit?"

Danny smirked. "Sure, if you feel like taking a ride to County General and waiting in line!"

Mike looked at him strangely. "Say what?"

Danny's smirk grew as he jerked his thumb to his left. "Apparently he picked the wrong guy to pull that shit on. According to the paramedics, the kid hyper-extended the cop's knee and elbow, broke his jaw in a couple places... As for the waiting line, the second car arrived just in time for their ride-along to see the whole thing."

Turning his head, Mike felt his face fall when he saw the cameraman with the familiar logo on his jacket and camera. "You've gotta be shitting me!"

Danny shook his head. "Nope. Caught the whole thing on tape... Guy's just been waiting for the network truck to get here. Glad they can't push this off on us 'cause heads are gonna roll for this one!"

"Tell me about it!" Mike opened the back door of his car, pulled a cold pack out of his first aid kit and headed toward the crates the kid was sprawled on. As he got closer the kid shifted slightly causing both officers to tense. The kid glanced at each of them and grinned.

Stopping in front of the kid he studied him for a few seconds before popping the core of the cold pack, shaking it and handing it to him.

The kid looked at it a moment and glanced up at him before he took it and pressed it to his jaw. "Thanks."

Mike raised his eyebrows and smirked. "So you *can* talk... Mind answering some questions?"

The kid looked up at him and smiled. "You gonna ask them like the other guy?"

Mike chuckled as he shook his head. "No, I happen to like my jaw just like it is! Kid, you do realize that you're guilty of assaulting a police officer, right?"

The kid shrugged. "Charge me. I bet the DA wouldn't even press charges... too much of a chance I'd sue the city. And don't call me kid!"

< He's probably right. > Mike thought darkly. "Fine; what's your name then?"

"Makael, what's yours?"

"Lieutenant Mike Harrigan... Makael did you see what happened here?"


Harrigan frown at the small smile on the kid's face. "What are you doing here?"


"For what?"

"The warehouse manager."

"Why?" Harrigan fought to keep his irritation, at how uninformative the answers he was getting where, out of his voice.

The kid shrugged and pointed to the crates he was on with a sigh. "To find out why these crates haven't been delivered; they're a week overdue."

"How long you been here?"

"About an hour."

"According to the officers you were here when they arrived. Are you sure you didn't see anything?"

"You mean other then a guy in a uniform punching me in the mouth?" The kid's eyes moved past the large black man and focused on something behind him as the young man stood up. "You got any other questions, Lieutenant?"

Harrigan felt a chill go up his back at the intensity suddenly present in kid eyes. "Yeah, I'll need to know your full name and where I can reach you if we have any other questions."

The officers tensed as Makael absently reached into his jacket and relaxed as he handed a small rectangle of paper to Harrigan. "Makael Dragon; if you have any other questions call my lawyers."

Harrigan frowned as the kid walked past him and stopped to stare at a detective. He nodded to him and walked past. Coming up behind a man with a clipboard he reached out, tapped him on the shoulder and crossed his arms. Harrigan watched the man turn around with an annoyed expression, saw the kid and paled as Makael began shaking a finger in his face as if he were scolding a child.

"What the hell is that about?"

Harrigan looked at his partner, glanced back to the cowering man and shook his head as he held out the business card the kid had given him. "Beats the hell outta me, but I get the feeling there's more to that kid than meets the eye..."

Danny took the card and frowned. "Chimera, Hynd & Griffon...? Never heard of that one."

"I'm not surprised." said an irritated voice behind them.

Harrigan tensed as he turned to face Captain Heinemann. "Why not?"

The superior officer scowled at Harrigan's insubordination as he turned and headed toward the kid. "That's easy; they charge more an hour than both of you make in a month!"

Harrigan blink at his retreating back then glared suspiciously in the kid's direction. < If he's got that kind of money what he hell is he doing down here? >

"Hey, Mike, take a look at this. It was stuck to his lawyer's card." Mike took and read the offered card.

"That's an interesting slogan..." Harrigan glanced at the Deputy Chief, who was in an animated conversation with the young man, and frowned before turning back to Danny. "Have Leona see what she can find on this Dragon kid... Something just doesn't smell right here. I'll check out these lawyers." Harrigan thumped the business card he was holding. "You dig up what you can on this place, Danny boy, and we'll go take a look at 'The Mixer' tonight!"

"Now, tell me again. Why did you leave Makael behind?"

Dragan sighed at Herc's question as he pulled the Hummer into the Dragon Arms Security garage and cut the motor. "For a couple of reasons; he needs to learn that he can't keep endangering others and expect me to help him. And because I need that shipment and he is... shall we say 'well known' by the guys at that warehouse. But mostly I left him there so I wouldn't THROTTLE THE STUPID SON OF A BITCH! Knives against automatic weapons... What the HELL was he thinking! Why can't he get it through that thick skull of his that a lucky shot will take his head off as easily as any fucking sword?"

"Umm... Dragan, do you want me to fix that?"

Dragan looked up at the Fa'lur crouched on the Hummer's roof, followed it's gaze to the mangled steering wheel in front of him and wilted. "Damn it... Yes, and if you could take a look at the car we're towing I would be very grateful, Cles."

"Really? How grateful?" The beaked head tilted to the side, one eyebrow raised.

Dragan felt his face warm as he blushed at seeing Herc's curious expression. Inwardly cursing both his lack of control and his slip of the tongue he forced a familiar, if a bit shaky, half smile. "I guess you'll just have to wait and see!"

The Fa'lur made a high pitched noise as it jumped off the Hummer and headed for the workbench.

As Dragan reached for the door release he froze at the sound of an extremely annoyed high-pitched voice speaking in a language older than the human species. "~ I hope you're planning to make good on that, because if you think you're just going to tease her again... ~"

"~ Chyra, this is none of your business! Stay out of... ~" Dragan was cut off as his head was jerked to the side. He blinked as his fingers covered his stinging cheek and stared at Chyra in disbelief as he felt the warm wetness of blood.

"~ No way, Dragan... Three times you've made that implied promise to her; twice I've watched you dangle that carrot only to pull it away at the last second. I will not let you humiliate or hurt her that way again. ~" Chyra shook her head, ice cold eyes never leaving his.

"~ 1500 years ago I was asked to be your conscience, to make sure you-at the very least-didn't go to the dark and I agreed. Later you asked me to help you get past who and what you were... We have had a great system of 'you don't step on my toes and I only interfere when I have to', but if you think I'm going to watch you play this sick game of cat and mouse you're crazy. Toying with someone that has been trying to get your attention for half a century is more than cruel even for... ~" Chrya cut off as she saw the expression in Dragan's eyes and realized what she had been about to say.

Dragan stared at her his face blank and his body stiff. After a moment he looked away and seemed to wilt as he opened his door and climbed out of the vehicle. "I'll be in my office."

"Dragan, I'm..." Chyra began as he closed the vehicle's door and walked away, either not hearing or ignoring her 'sorry'. "Boy, I stuck my talon in my mouth this time!"

Dragan was halfway to the door when a gasp stopped him. He turned to find Cles standing beside him staring at the blood on his cheek. Dragan grinned at her impishly before shrugging. "Guess I shouldn't have mentioned Chyra's anatomically correct Hercules action figure..."


Chapter 4

F.L.A.G. command trailer
Between San Diego and LA

Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep

The dark-haired woman grumbled as she set down what she was working on and headed of the computer. "Hello Michael, what can I help you with?"

"Bonnie, thank heaven! You have to do something... this is terrible!"

Bonnie blinked at the voice coming from the computer. "KITT, what's the matter?"

"I'm being towed! Somebody has to do something. This is so humiliating..." The synthetic voice whined.

"You're being towed? Where's Michael? Is he alright?" Bonnie looked back at Devon.

"He is being transported in a vehicle escorting the one towing me. He was unconscious but relatively unharmed the last time I saw him..." KITT said in an annoyed tone. "But what about me? Isn't someone going to do something to help me? They're actually planning to have their 'mechanics' work on me!"

Devon frowned in annoyance. "KITT, we have your position and are on our way. Now tell us what happened?"

"We were heading for an address we had found for Dragan..."

Devon listened to the events in silence, covering his eyes and sighing in frustration when KITT had finished. "Are you damaged, KITT?"

"No..." it replied hesitantly. Bonnie stared at the computer readout of KITT's telemetry in shock.

"Then I see no reason not to allow their mechanics to inspect you for damage. When they see that nothing's wrong they should leave you be..." Devon said in a distracted tone as his brow creased in frustration.

"No reason?! Half of KITT's components are classified," Bonnie snapped. "Not to mention the fact that I will have to fix whatever they mess up!"

"Bonnie dear, trust is a two way street. If Dragan feels we do not trust him, he will not trust us!" Devon frowned at her in disapproval. "Besides, he has secrets of his own... many of which are of much greater importance than KITT."

"DRAGAN!!!" Chyra yelled in shock as her eyes bulged and her body paled at his statement.

"Anatomically correct action figures... I never authorized that! Where's my cell phone? I need to talk to my agent about..." Hercules trailed off and turned towards the pale little dragon with a strange expression.

After a moment Chyra noticed the expression Herc was giving her and began to blush as she bristled, "I don't have one! I swear!"

"But..." Herc looked over to where Dragan was exiting the building. "I've never even heard of him lying before, why now?"

Chyra rolled her eyes and groaned in annoyance. "He technically wasn't... he just played a word game. He did get me the damn thing, but I told him in no uncertain terms what I thought of it and tried to barbecue it. He never said *when* he mentioned it--or to who... so he didn't lie, he just didn't tell all of the truth to embarrass the hell out of me!"

Hercules turned back to Chyra and shook his head. "I just gotta ask. You put up with this all the time?"

Chyra relaxed slightly and blew a bit of smoke out her nose. "Not on your life... I would have killed him centuries ago if he was always like this!" She looked up at him for a moment before turning her gaze to the door Dragan had exited through. "I don't know exactly why he's acting like this... but I think I know what part of it is. I think that he's scared and more than a little pissed at him self."

Chyra shook her head at the son of Zeus' confused expression. "If you hadn't shown up here today, he would have been down in the club when those idiots barged in to kill him. No weapons, no body armor, he'd have been an easy target... I have no idea what might have happened but I know this for an almost certainty, he wouldn't have left there alive. With the pride he takes in his work I can guess what the idea of getting taken out by a bunch of amateurs is doing to him."

"I remember..." Herc nodded absently. "Want me to have a word with him?"

"Nononononono!" Chyra shook quickly her head as her eyes went wide. "If we just back off he will calm down and get his composure back in a little while. He's almost never like this for more then a few hours..."

Hercules gave her an inquisitive look. "Almost?"

Chyra shrugged and sighed. "Well he has a really *REALLY* hard time keeping himself under control if he's been betrayed or has to deal with a pedophile... but anything other than that he cools off pretty quick if he's not provoked."

Hercules nodded and followed her as she took to the air heading for the exit where a couple of medics were carrying the unconscious civilian through. "Just one more thing..."

"Hmmm?" Chyra looked over at him as she hovered in place a few feet ahead of him.

Herc scratched the back of his head and looked away. "Well... you see... I'm just a little curious... what did he get you 'that' for?"

Chyra's startled yelp followed by a strange noise made Hercules turn. Not seeing her he glanced around until he spotted a familiar golden tail and followed it to its owners' oil-covered body sprawled in a used oil pan.

Hercules watched as Chyra slowly got into a sitting position and just stared down at herself. After a few moments Herc knelt down beside her. "Are you okay?"

"No..." Chyra said in a thick tone of voice without opening her eyes. "Could you just leave me alone right now? I'd like to keep the last shreds of my dignity intact."

Herc snorted, grabbed a large rag off a nearby bench, picked up Chyra and began wiping off the oil. "I don't see why this would hurt your dignity... I'd find being thrown in a trash can worse myself."

"Maybe," Chyra chuckled weakly. "But falling out of the air is something a hatchling does, and someone my age doing it is not exactly something that helps the ego!"

Hercules shook his head, absently noticing that they were suddenly alone in the garage as wiped the oil off Chyra's wings and set her on a nearby bench laying the rag beside her. "There, I think I got the worst of it. I'll leave the more... sensitive areas to you."

Chyra looked up at Herc with a confused expression for several moments. When a blush crept up his cheeks she finally caught his meaning and she nodded bitterly. "Sure, no problem. Not that it would matter one way or the other..."

"Huh?" Herc asked a little uncomfortably.

"It wouldn't have mattered if you had finished the job." Chyra grabbed the corner of the rag and began wiping the oil from her back legs and lower belly. When she saw Herc's expression she sighed. "I'm not hitting on you... It wouldn't do me any good to."

"I'm dead, have been for over ten thousand years. When my soul was brought back from the other side it needed a physical form to inhabit..." Chyra waved a 'hand' at her body. "They chose this one; I guess they thought being in a form close to my original would make it easier on me."

"That was nice of them."

"Yes and no," Chyra's expression when she looked up at Hercules made him take a step back. "This body can do almost anything that my real one could... I can walk, talk, eat, sleep, feel, smell, taste, touch, and even breathe fire. The problem is they made it too much like my old body but at the same time not enough."


"Dragan's right, you are a little thick-headed." Chyra sighed in annoyance and gave him a pointed look. "I have *all* the urges I had when I was alive but lack the ability to do anything about some of them."

Hercules eyes widened slightly as he blushed again. "You mean...?"

"That I'm about as anatomically correct as a Barbie doll?" Chyra rolled her eyes and nodded. "You try spending fifteen hundred years with Dragan when you have a sex drive close to that of a sixteen year old human and absolutely no way to relieve it!"

Herc stared at her blankly for a moment before the corners of his mouth began to lift as he closed his eyes and struggled not to laugh at the mental image that had produced. As he fought for composure he noticed a scraping sound. Finally getting control he opened his eyes to apologize just in time to see Chyra push a toolbox off of the bench.

Hercules' eyes went wide as the large metal box landed on his foot, sending a spike of pain coursing through his toes. As his breath came in a pain-filled hiss, he stared at the tiny dragon sitting on the bench in front of him with an innocent expression.

Chyra just stared back at him that way for a few seconds before smirking. "Now we're even."

Dragan crossed the street, stopped at the broken remains of the Mixer's front doors and shook his head after examining them. < I really did a number on these; I'll have to replace both doors and the frames... Oh well, now I have an excuse to give in to that security upgrade everyone keeps bugging me about. >

Shaking his head he walked into the club and felt his eyes bulge when he found it still full of people. "What the fuck...?"

"I'd say it was a good crowd... but that's just me." Someone said behind him.

Dragan turned to face the young woman wearing black leathers and smiled sadly. "I'm sorry this had to happen on your last night... For what it's worth you and the band were great, m' lady."

She smiled and chuckled. "How many times do I have to tell you to call me Eddie, Dragon?"

Dragan smirked and tapped his chin. "I don't know... how does 'once more than I have to tell you that it's Dragan, not Dragon' sound?"

Eddie rolled her eyes and sighed in mock annoyance. "No wonder you get along with my boyfriend so well... you have the same since of humor." Shaking her head she stuck out her hand. "Anyway, we've got to get going if we're gonna make it to our next gig on time. Just wanted to say it's been... interesting, and goodbye."

Dragan shook her hand and smiled. "Stop by if you're ever in the area again... It's good for our reputation. We hardly ever get nobility in here."

Eddie gave a pained groan and walked away muttering. "This is the last time I let those two talk me into a gig..."

Dragan chuckled and gave the club a once over as he headed for the door beside the bar. When he reached the office upstairs he found the phone ringing and answered it. "Hello."

Dragan smiled slightly as he pulled a bottle from the cabinet in front of his backup armory and poured himself a glass. "And good afternoon to you, too. No, I don't care... That wouldn't have happened... We're very good... Now you're just being an ass..." Dragan frowned as he set the bottle on the desk next to the glass "Fine! If that's the way you feel I guess I can just give my money to someone else's campaign next election. Goodbye!"

Dragan returned the receiver to its cradle and began ticking off fingers. He had just reached four when the phone began ringing again. Dragan smirked at it and took a sip from his glass before picking it up.

"Hello," Dragan said in a bored tone of voice. He raised his eyebrow and listened silently to the ranting voice on the other end of the line. "You realize that very few people have used that tone of voice or that language with me and enjoyed the results of it... So far you have done both."

"No, that wasn't a threat, just an observation." Dragan rolled his eyes. "I don't like to make threats. I find that they cause a sharp drop in the quality of work a person does."

"How many times have I asked for anything that was even remotely unethical, let alone illegal?" Dragan took a sip of his drink and started chuckling humorlessly. "So why are you being an ass? I didn't contribute all that money just to have you curse me out for defending my own property!"

Dragan set his glass on the table and leaned forward. "Now you listen to me, you son of a bitch... I am having a really bad day and listening to you is really pissing me off so I'm going to get right to the point! If it wasn't for me you would be sitting in some two-bit job, kissing ass trying to get a promotion. I made you, so ask yourself this before you call back: do you *really* want to find out if I really need you?"

Dragan hung up and set the phone to redirect his calls to his voice mail. < I *hate* politicians! They always want the money; they have no problem with agreeing to any conditions but always fight having to pay up. >

Dragan drained the remainder of his glass, refilled it and leaned back in his chair staring at the contents of the glass. After a few moments he took a sip, pulled a cell phone out of his desk and hit one of the numbers on speed dial.

"Hello... Who do you think it is? Pass code..." Dragan looked at the phone in disbelief before shaking his head, and returning the phone to his ear. "Shut up and get your boss on the phone before I have you all fired!"

Dragan growled as music suddenly blared from the phone, signaling his being placed on hold. A moment later the music cut off again. "Hi, I need you to get some info for me... Because that's what I pay your organization for, that's why! Good. I'll send you what I need; call me back when you have it. One more thing... I have a private secure line to you, so why the hell did I get asked for a pass code?"

10 minutes later...

Dragan grumbled under his breath as he walked down the stairs and into the club. After looking over the club and shaking his head at the security people already installing the upgraded doorframe, he headed for the bar, idly noticing Cheyenne and Bobby heading in the same direction. "I'll have the usual, Noel."

The demon bartender grinned, showing off his pointed fangs. He chuckled and set a decanter on the bar with a large glass with ice. "Help yourself, boss... By the way, we got a call while you were out. Some cop's been checking into the club and the firm."

"So what?" Dragan said with a disgusted smirk and shrugged as he filled his glass from the decanter. "Like they would even believe this was more than a movie hangout or maybe a hangout for people that like to play 'dress-up games'... Most humans are as blind as they are ignorant and almost all of them will fight to the death to stay that way!"

"Gee, Bobby, I can't help but wonder if we should feel insulted..."

"Can't imagine why, sis..."

"You shouldn't be," the human bartender smirked. Dragan looked up at him in surprise. "He just gets really sick of the way most people either stick their heads in the sand or up their asses."


"He's referring to the reactions we usually get from humans their first time..." Dragan turned on his stool to face them, leaned back against the bar and shrugged. "The majority of them come in and think that this is some kind of movie hangout or something like that, refusing to believe anything else. Then you have the ones that come in, figure it out, freak out and run. Some of them come back for answers when they calm down, some wind up in a nut house for claiming they were in a bar full of monsters, and some wind up hunters. A rare few don't have any problems but most of them just run home, wake up the next morning and convince themselves the whole thing was a dream."

Dragan took a sip from his drink and sighed. "I really hate giving this speech, and answering the questions it leads to gives me a headache so you're just going to have to wait until you're all together so I only have to tell it once." He looked around the bar and frowned in confusion. "Where'd your friend Vince get to, anyway?"

Dragan turned to face the bar when Noel snorted and gave the demon a curious expression as he waited for the bartender to fight back his laughter before answering. "Tease invited him to dinner; they went to her apartment about two hours ago."

Dragan stared at Noel blankly for a moment before a grin slowly spread across his face. He began to silently chuckle, quickly building to near hysterical laughter at Bobby and Cheyenne's expressions.

Cheyenne looked at Bobby who just shrugged with a puzzled expression. Turning back to the bartender who was shaking his head at Dragan, she cleared her throat and pointed at the laughing mercenary. "What's the joke?"

She was surprised when Dragan turned to her and fought back his laughter enough to answer. "Tease... is half... succubus."

Cheyenne blushed as her eyes went wide and Bobby began chuckling. She gave him a dirty look to which he just smirked and shrugged. "Sorry, sis. I just think it's funny; I mean, her dinner will be his dessert."

Cheyenne rolled her eyes and sighed as Dragan dissolved into another fit of laughter. "Men."


The cell phone was answered before it could ring a second time.


"We obtained the item you requested."

"Very good, call me in a few hours and I'll give you directions to the meet site..."

"Not possible; we've encountered organized heavy resistance twice! We need to make the exchange ASAP and/or get the hell out of the city."

"Very well, call me when you reach San Francisco and we can set up the exchange there."

"Okay. We should be there in... six to eight hours at the most."

"I'll be expecting your call."

Three hours later...

"So Leona, what have you got?" Mike said as he walked into his office.

"Not much," The Hispanic woman turned and frowned at him "One record so clean it will make your eyes hurt, and three suspension warnings."

The large black man gave her an incredulous look. "Say what?"

"I ran a search for this Dragon guy and came up with nothing locally so I ran a search through the national database and Interpol. The search hadn't even finished when my phone starts ringing off the damn hook. So far I've spoken with the chief, captain and the commissioner. All of them said they wanted to know why I was 'investigating a victim of police brutality', and ordered me not to look any farther into the guy. We must have stumbled on to something, Mike." Leona shook her head. "Be damned if I know what, though!"

Harrgian look at Danny, who just smirked and shrugged. "The Mixer is a nightclub with a hotel attached; place has all its permits and licenses and they have a clean record with every agency including the health inspector. However, I did find something interesting. It's owned by a guy named Dragon... What are the odds of them not being related?"

"You've got to be kidding me..." Harrigan grabbed the printout Danny held out to him and rubbed his temple. < And I thought Emmanuel was bad! > "What kind of sicko would give their kid a name like that?"

Leona shook her head and cocked an eyebrow. "What is it?"

"I'm a dragon." Harrigan caught her expression and chuckled as he handed her the printout. "That's his name... "

Leona just stared at the paper with a thoughtful expression. "Dragon..."

"What? Have you heard of this guy?"

"Hmm..." Leona looked up distractedly.

Harrigan smiled. "I asked if you have you heard of this guy."

"No," Leona shrugged "just sounded familiar is all... wait a minute."

"Hey, John." she shouted as she turned towards the door. A moment later a man stuck his head in. "Where'd Special Weapons get to?'

"They were called in to back up another department that was having problem out at one of those richy- rich houses out east by the Cannons."

Leona rolled her eyes and shook her. "I knew that... I meant the name of the person that owns the house."

"Some guy... last name's Dragon I think." John shrugged "Never heard of him before. Why?"

"Thanks, John." Leona said. John looked at her blankly for a moment, shook his head and left.

"Mr. Dragon seems to be connected to a lot of things today..." Mike smirked and shook his head, "and to be having a *very* bad day! Leona, why don't you go and see what you can find out at his house."

"You know, I'm actually looking forward to the suspension... I could use the rest!" Leona got out of her chair and stretched. "So what will you two be doing while I'm out risking my job?"

"We're going to go check out that place, the Mixer..." Danny trailed off and Mike covered his eyes with his hands at the look Leona was suddenly giving them.

Leona slowly crossed her arms across her chest. "Let me get this straight. You want me to drive to the far side of the city in rush hour traffic, stand around for who knows how long waiting for Special Weapons to finish up, then directly disobey orders by continuing to investigate this guy, and *you're* going clubbing?"

"Well, I wouldn't put it that way..." Mike shook his head as Danny trailed off and took a step back from her heated glare.

"Leona, we were just going to check the place out..." Mike sighed as she switched her glare to him. "Fine, we can all go check out the Mixer together, then check out the reports from Special Weapons tomorrow."

Leona smirked and head for the door. "Well, let's go."

Dragan was in the middle of answering one of Bobby questions when he noticed Vince and Tease re-enter the club. After forcing a neutral expression Dragan waved them over to the table he was sharing with Herc, Bobby and Cheyenne.

"Hey, partner," Bobby said, stifling a chuckle.

"Hello, Vince," Cheyenne chimed in, smiling broadly.

"Hi, guys." Reno said warily as he looked at the innocent expressions on his partners' faces.

"So, how was dinner?" Dragan asked as he gave Tease an inquiring look.

"Best I've had in years." Tease smiled and winked as several people at the table began snickering.

"Good to hear!" Dragan smirked and glanced at the now red-faced Vince who was silently opening and closing his mouth. "They were looking for you in the pool room... I think that guy you beat last night wants a rematch..."

"Let me get something to drink and I'll go take him for everything again." Tease grinned and stretched, showing off her curves in the process.

"Nothing stronger than root beer! You're still banned." Dragan said poking her in the belly.

"Dad...!" Tease yelped.

"Don't 'Dad' me...! Now get moving if you're going." Dragan swatted her playfully as she headed for the bar. Turning back to the table he found everyone but Chyra staring at him. "What?"

Hercules blinked looked between Tease and Dragan. "Dad?"

"Yes, 'Dad'. She is my adopted daughter!" Dragan said, glaring at the son of Zeus. "I've raised her since she was three, Herc. What else would you expect her to call me? "

"Dad." Dragan looked up at Vince and frowned in concern at the man's bewildered expression. "Are you going to be alright? Here, sit down and drink this."

Vince slowly sat down and accepted the mug Dragan handed him. Taking a large drink his eyes went wide and he sprayed most of it on the floor. Vince coughed for moment before he could look up at a smirking Dragan and force out a question. "What...?"

"The drink?" Dragan shrugged and began snickering at Reno's expression "It's mead... What, is it too strong for you?"

A commotion near the entrance drew his attention, finding a group of non-ruled newbies arguing with one of his waitresses he sighed and stood up. "Excuse me; I need to deal with this. I'll be back in a minute."

"There are a lot of vehicles here." Danny said as they pulled into the nearly full parking lot.

"I noticed," Mike said as he turned the engine off and scanned the lot. "Seems pretty early for this many people to be at a club."

"Maybe, maybe not..." Leona opened the door and got out of the car. "But we won't get any answers staring at the outside of the building and I need to use the restroom."

Mike and Danny looked at each other & shrugged as they got out of the car and followed her to the door where they found their way blocked by one of the doormen.

"Good evening," he said with politely "May I see some identification, please?"

The three detectives held out their wallets, showing the doorman their badges and IDs. He looked over each of the IDs, comparing each photo to the person before he spoke. "Business or pleasure?"


"Are you here for business or pleasure?" The doorman rolled his eyes at their expressions. "Translated, that means are you here on police business or are you here on your own to relax and have a nice time?"

"Pleasure. We're off-duty." Mike exchanged looks with his companions. "What would you have said if we were on duty?"

"Come back when you have a warrant." The doorman said with a shrug. "Anyway, welcome to the Mixer. There is a twenty dollar cover charge, officers. It covers the use of a room and twenty-four hours' use of all facilities. Drinks are not included in it, though. Please pay at the window."

"Say what?!" Harrigan gave him a disbelieving look. "Why does it include a room?"

"For the convenience of our patrons," the doorman shrugged and patted Harrigan on the shoulder as he used a small bit of magic to remove the detective's gun. "It saves you a cab fare home, or strange looks at another hotel."

Harrigan blinked, then shook his head and went to the cage. After paying the cover and receiving a card from the lady behind the bulletproof glass, they began to enter the club. As they passed, the guards holding the doors reached out and tapped Leona and Danny on their shoulders. He pointed behind them to the doorman who was approaching with two cards identical to Harrigan's.

When Harrigan and his partners were inside the club the doorman that they had spoken to looked at the two security guards who had held the doors, raised an eyebrow and grinned. When they returned the grin he led them over to the window.

They grinned unrepentantly as they each unloaded and slid an automatic pistol to the lady shaking her head at them from behind the bulletproof glass. "You guys do realize that Dragan is going to pitch a fit when he hears about you pulling this... Not to mention what those cops will do."

"Why, we're just killing two birds with one stone. They will get claim tickets so they'll get them back, but you know that uninvited cops aren't allowed to carry in the club. This way they're disarmed and it was done without a big scene or endless arguing," the Kitsune chuckled, "plus we get the fun of seeing their expressions when they get the claim tickets."

The young woman sighed, placed the weapons in a lock box, locked it and slid it into the security drawer inside the cage. "You guys are weird, nuts or both!"

"Does that mean that Saturday is off?"

"Only if you get me fired!" she said, turning to glare at the one that had spoken.

Danny fingered the card the lady at the window had given him as he looked over the club, noting that a lot of the patrons were in costumes. "Maybe this wasn't such a good idea, Mike."

"Danny," Mike chuckled and patted his partner on the shoulder as he led him to an empty table. "Relax, but keep your eyes open."

"No problem," Danny said, nervously eyeing a couple of people that were checking them out as he sat down. "I feel like a tuna in a school of sharks... Why are they looking at us like we were on the dessert cart?"

"Don't know..." Mike shrugged and placed the card the person at the window had given them in the holder on the table. "I'm more interested in what's so important about these rules."

Leona sat down as a waitress came up, set a card on the table and walked away. Leona looked from the card to the retreating waitress and back before picking up the card. She stared at it blankly for a moment then reached behind her and swore.

Mike and Danny looked at her blankly for a moment before their eyes went wide. Each reached into their jackets and swore as well when they found only empty holsters.

"Relax, guys, they always take 'em your first time... you're perfectly safe." Turning towards the unexpected voice they blinked at the person that had spoken to them.

"Who are you and what are you talking about?" Mike asked.

"Just a cop... and I was talking about your weapons..." The man pulled out a badge and smiled. "They have enough problems without worrying if you're going to shoot the place up. Anyway they have great security and you'll get them back when you leave. Now if you'll excuse me I have something to take care of..." before they could respond he had walked off into the club.

They looked at each other, trying to decide if they should go after him to get some answers when the waitress returned.

"Our head of security would like to thank you for the ease of your compliance with our weapons policy," the waitress said as she set menus in front of them.

"Like we had much choice," Mike muttered darkly before looking up at her. He blinked at her appearance. She had silver hair, black eyes with no whites at all, her smile revealed a mouthful of needle- like teeth, and her skin was mottled green and purple. Realizing that he was staring he opened the menu and studied it intently.

"Welcome to the Mixer," the waitress said cheerfully "before I take your orders I will need to make sure you understand the rules."

Mike listened as she stated the rules, giving each of his partners a knowing look when it became obvious what the object of the club was. < A swingers club for people that like to play dress up games?! Well I've heard of weirder shit. > He turned back to her as she asked if they understood the rules. "Yes, ma'am."

The waitress chuckled and shook her head as she took out her order pad. "Have you decided what you would like?"

"Ah, could we have a moment to look over the menu?" Mike asked the waitress as he turned the page in the menu.

"Take your time, sir." She said stepping away from the table. "No one is at my other tables."

"I'm sorry, sir, but your party can only order from the standard menu..." the waitress said hesitantly after a moment.

"Huh?" Mike looked up at her and frowned.

She looked uncomfortable as she glanced from him to the menu. "You're looking in the enhanced section... I'm afraid your kind doesn't have the constitution to handle anything in that section, sir."

"Our kind?" Danny asked in a neutral tone.

The waitress looked at them in confusion. "Umm... humans. You are humans, aren't you?"

"Last time I checked, thank you very much, and my constitution is just fine." Mike's face darkened as he pointed to something in the non-alcoholic drinks, "So, I'll have one of these."

The young woman looked where he was pointing and shook her. "I'm sorry, but that is an 'enhanced' drink."

"I know." Mike said evenly.

"But, sir, I can't..."

As Harrigan and the waitress continued to argue, Leona elbowed Danny and nodded toward a young man with green hair approaching the table. When he arrived he laid a hand on the waitress's shoulder silencing her and smiled at them. "May I be of assistance?"

"And you are?" Mike looked the green-haired man over suspiciously.

"Well most people call me Dragan, but you can call me the *owner*." Dragan said with a frown. "Now, what seems to be the problem?"

After listening to them explain the situation, Dragan sighed in aggravation. "Sir, I apologize for any offense but she is right. The items in the 'enhanced' section are too potent for humans. They are enhanced supernaturally..."

"Enough of that bullshit!" Mike snapped as he glared at Dragan. "Now, I don't care how you feel about 'our kind'. I have a right to order anything on the menu and I choose this!"

Dragan's face went blank as he stared at Harrigan, glancing down at the item to which the detective was pointing. Dragan smiled devilishly and led the waitress a few steps away from the table. After speaking with her a few minutes he returned to the table and set a card in front of each person sitting there. "Sir, since you won't listen to reason I will allow you to order that drink on two conditions: first, you all surrender your car keys, and second, you all sign a waiver saying that you were warned against this action and therefore are fully responsible for any consequences. Do you agree?"

"Sure, why not." Mike chuckled. He signed the card in front of him and handed both his keys and the card to Dragan. Looking at Leona and Danny he shrugged. "It's non-alcoholic; what's the worse that can happen?"

Leona winced at Mike's statement and looked at Dragan. "What's in it?"

Dragan smiled sadly. "Fruit punch, 7-up, and essence of succubus."

"Riiiiiight." Danny snorted and signed the card. Leona looked at her partners, sighed and signed the card. She handed it to Dragan as the waitress returned with a bottle and glasses.

"Here are your drinks. Enjoy..." Dragan turned and walked away muttering just loud enough for them to hear, "and gods help you in the morning, 'cause you're gonna need it!"

Chapter 5

Chyra looked at Dragan curiously as he returned to the table. "What's up?"

"Nothing much..." Dragan shook his head and sighed. "Just some human cops deciding the rules don't apply to them. They insisted on being allowed to order a bottle of Succubus kiss."

"You didn't!?" Chyra asked eyes wide.

"Yes, I did!" Dragan grinned at her as he held out three cards. "They all but called the waitress and me bigots when we tried to warn them. If they won't listen and won't get the hint from the wavier I feel no guilt in giving them exactly what they asked for."

"Dragan..." Chyra began rubbing her temple "that really wasn't the best way to handle the situation."

"Maybe," Dragan shrugged "but it was very satisfying, not to mention the lesson it will provide them on the importance of rules and the entertainment it will provide!"

Chyra stared at him incredulously before sighing in frustration. "Somehow I doubt they'll see it that way."

Dragan just chuckled as he refilled his glass.

Makael glared at the warehouse manager one last time before climbing into the truck in which the crates had been loaded. After nodding to the driver he rubbed his temples trying to ease the throbbing of the stress headache that he had gotten a few hours ago. < I really miss when he would just break my neck when I'd screw up during training! It was a lot kinder than leaving me to the imbeciles... >

"You okay, kid?"

"Yeah, just got a headache from listening to that guy make excuses." Makael smiled at the drivers concern. "The way he was going I half expected him to start blaming aliens there at the end..."

"Here," The driver said handing Makael a travel pack of aspirin, "these should help."

Makael chuckled and waived him off with a smile. "Thanks but it's not that bad, already starting to fade, actually."

"Whatever..." The driver shrugged.

The rest of the ride passed in silence. Makael hopped out before the truck had completely stopped, yelling orders to a group of people exiting the unmarked building.

The driver grabbed his clipboard, got out of the truck, stretched and walked up to Makael. "There a restroom I can use?"

Makael nodded, pointed towards the building and rattled off the directions. When the driver returned, he found Makael leaning against the truck tapping the clipboard against his leg impatiently.

"Took you long enough." Makael handed him the clipboard. "I already signed it, need anything else?"

"Just for you to get the stuff out of the truck." The driver said as he handed Makael a copy of the paper work.

Makael smirked as he turned and walked away. "Well then, have a nice day."

The driver shook his head at Makael, opened the truck's rear door and stared in shock at the empty truck box. "How long was I in that restroom?"

Cles hissed as she contemplated kicking the Black Trans-am that she was trying to inspect. So far she had unlocked the door twice only to have it lock again the moment she tried to open the door and she couldn't figure out why! < Okay, I haven't found a security switch, it doesn't have an identity scanner and I'm almost positive that it isn't possessed. So what does that leave? >

After circling the vehicle once more she stopped and stared at the series of red lights on its hood before clicking her beak in annoyance. "Alright you stubborn ken'sk, I guess we do this the hard way. Ragk, Tef could you put this thing on the hoist for me, please?"

A moment later the two large creatures lumbered up to the car, lifted it off the floor and set it gently on a half-raised hoist.

"Thanks, guys." Cles said to the pair as they returned to their own duties, then raised the hoist the rest of the way. "Now let's see what's going on..."

A few minutes later Makael walked into the garage and blinked at the sight of Cles sitting on the hood of the still raised black Trans-am they had towed in talking to herself. "Hi Cles, Something wrong?"

Cles looked down at him and shrugged. "Yeah, just trying to figure out why you guys sent me on a wild goose chase..."


"There's nothing wrong with this car!" Cles said tapping the hood she was sitting on. "According to what you guys told me happened the suspension should need repairing at the least, but this thing doesn't even have a scratch in the paint. So either you guys sent me on a wild goose chase or this is one weird vehicle!"

"Who are you calling weird?" Cles spun towards the unexpected voice and squealed as she toppled backwards off the car.

Makael eyes when wide and everything slowed down as he saw her lose her balance. As he reached up to steady her his fingertips just brushed her as fell off the car. Makael winced at the sound of her hitting the cement as turned to look at her and went weak kneed.

"Now, that was embarrassing!" Cles said as she sat up rubbing the back of her head. "Could you please not tell anyone about this, Makael?"

When he didn't respond, she glanced at him to find him holding his chest. "Makael, are you alright?"

"Nothing a clean pair of shorts won't fix." Makael looked at her, offered a hand getting to her feet and smiled tightly. "Thought I was going to lose my head for a second!"

"Huh?" Cles looked at him questioningly as he pulled her to her feet. "Do you mean you sensed another of your kind?"

< No way am I answering that one! > Makael just shook his head and glared at the black car responsible for his near death experience. < Now what is up with this thing? >

10:00 pm September 9, 1995
Mixer roof

Dragan stared up at the sky and cursed the fact the city lights blocked out the stars. < What the hell am I going to do? >

"Penny for your thoughts..."

Dragan jumped as the unexpected voice, turned and smirked at the demi god standing behind him. "That could get you killed Herc!"

"So could crossing the street... but I'll still take my chances." Hercules said as he walked over and sat down beside Dragan. "Seeing as you wouldn't even get a bruise from this height I won't even ask if you were thinking of jumping."

"I'm not afraid of death Herc," Dragan gave him a pointedly annoyed look, "but that doesn't mean I long for it."

"Anyway I thought, seeing as all the rookies were in bed, that I could get my answers now." Herc leaned back and stared at up at the sky.

"You know Herc, that's the one thing I'll never be able to understand." Dragan wrapped his arms around his knees and put his chin on top of them. "How can they stand not being able to see the stars?"

"Dragan..." Herc nearly growled.

"The Kine?" Dragan asked in a near whisper.

"And a few others, starting with why that guy's bullets bounced off of you..." Hercules chuckled "after all I seem to remember you saying you weren't bulletproof."

"Prototype of a next-generation body armor." Dragan snorted and tugged on his trench coat. "Bought it, tested it, loved it, went back and found someone else beat me to the patent! Wish I could find out who bought it, I'd love to either buy it off them or buy enough to outfit my security people... "

"Dragan... the Kine?"

"The Kine," Dragan frowned and chuckled "do you want the cliff notes or the whole thing?"

"Let's start with the cliff notes." Herc said in an annoyed tone.

Dragan scratched the back of his head as he organized his thoughts "Okay, here you go. The Kine are major league trouble. Hell giving a human any kind of power always is! When one of them shows up you can expect two things; that more of them will show up and sooner or later so will the things that want them to stay extinct!"

Hercules looked at him incredulously. "That's it?"

"No," Dragan slowly turned to face Herc eye devoid of emotion, "but the rest either isn't important or I'm not ready to tell you and you're not ready to know. Yet."

Hercules stared into his eyes for a moment before nodding his acceptance. "Okay what was going on between you and Chyra in the truck?"

"Not you, too," Dragan slapped his forehead with a pained groan. "What do I have, a sign on my back or something?"

"Huh?" Herc looked at him funny. < Okay, he's making less sense than usual. >

"Chyra was just sticking her snout where it doesn't belong." Seeing the confused look on Herc's face Dragan rolled his eyes. "Fine, Cles has had feelings for me for a long time. Chyra doesn't approve of me trying to dissuade her. What neither of them seem to understand is that I can't risk having feelings for anyone!"

"Why not?" Herc said levelly. "I seem to remember you being pretty attached in the past..."

"Why not?!" Dragan yelped wide-eyed. "Do you have any idea how many people would love to find out that I care for someone--what they would do to them to get to me? Hell, I don't even want to think about it!"

"Let me see if I have this right, you don't want her to get hurt because of you... I take it you've explained this to her?" Dragan nodded and Hercules rubbed his chin with a thoughtful expression "So you've been ignoring her? How long has this been going on?"

"Fifty years give or take..." Dragan shrugged, stood up and rubbed his temple. "You would think she would have given up by now."

"Okay, I get it now..." Herc shrugged when Dragan looked at him and gave a knowing wave of his hand "you're being a stuck up selfish bastard because you don't want to risk getting hurt."

Dragan stared at Hercules in surprise for a moment, as a tick started under his eye before turning and kicking an empty can with a frustrated growl. As he watched the can sail out of sight he walked to the low wall at the edge of the roof and took several deep breaths while he forced his emotions back into the shadowy parts of his mind where he didn't have to deal with them.

"You know Herc I thought that if anyone would be able to understand you would." Dragan turned towards him with a cruel smirk. "After what happened to your family and all..."

"Yes, I do understand, and I'm not going to let you goad me into a fight." Herc looked up at Dragan and shook his head a small smile on his face. "You think you're the first to try that one? Yes, they were killed to get at me; I learned to live with that a long time ago. I had to be able to start to live again."

"Right, some life..." Dragan snorted and turned to stare into the darkness. "You spend thirty years protecting them from kidnappers, assassins and who knows what else only to have them die on you anyway. Then you mope for a few years, find another one and repeat the process. Excuse me if I find that counter-productive to survival!"

"You know, there are a few things I've never understood... a *lot* of things I've never understood about you." Hercules got to his feet, brushed himself off and joined the mercenary at the wall. "But I think I finally figured some of it out, like how you could stand being a mercenary for so long, why you treat everything outside a battle like it doesn't matter, and most of all why you take everything so... 'personally'."

"Oh, do tell." Dragan scowled but didn't face the demi-god.

"I have heard enough about the fall of Atlantis to imagine what the world was like back then." Herc watched Dragan carefully knowing that he was not on safe ground and it would probably get worse. "Goa'uld, Yautja, Barbarian hordes, demons, vampires, and god only knows what else all turned loose on the world... It must have been a daily war just to survive for an adult; I don't even want to imagine what it was like for a kid."

"I survived..." Dragan growled through clenched teeth.

"Yes you did," Herc forced his face to remain neutral and his voice normal at Dragan's outburst, "and given the way the world must have been like that is the best one could hope for. I can't imagine what it took, though..."

"Herc, if I needed or even wanted a shrink I have about twelve of them on my payroll," Dragan turned to face the son of Zeus his eyes glittering dangerously. "Anyone of which is a hell of a lot more subtle than you. You got something to say, say it; you got a question, ask it. Just can the melodrama!"

"Fine. If you want it blunt, so be it." Herc frowned and shrugged. "You're a mercenary because the 'world' they live in makes senses to you; it's just like the one you grew up in--dangerous, cutthroat, unforgiving as hell--only being able to count on yourself. You treat everything outside that world like it doesn't matter because you don't need it to survive and that's always been your only goal: to survive."

Hercules shook his head and walked toward the door to the roof as Dragan glared at his back. "Gee, Herc, you mean I'm taking this all so personally because they tried to kill me... I'd have never figured that out for myself. Thank you for clearing that up."

"No," Herc stopped at the door and looked back, " you're taking it so personally because you've finally started to do more than just survive you've started to live and they tried to take that from you."

"I hope that works..." With that Hercules opened the door and went inside, leaving the ancient mercenary behind. Walking down the stairs Hercules slowly changed until when he reached the bottom step and looked back an old man in a three-piece suit had taken his place. "I doubt I could pull that off again... and you may still be needed," the old mage said to himself.

Slipping into the shadows of a side hallway as the roof doorway was opened, he watched Dragan walk past and into his office, an unfamiliar expression of defeat on the mercenary's face. Moving from the shadows he stared at the office door with sad but hopeful eyes. "May the creator forgive me for starting you down this path once more, Grenith , but it may be needed again... I hope you can save yourself this time, my young one."

Twelve miles outside of LA

Devon walked to the front of the command trailer. "Well, Bonnie?"

The dark-haired lady in question hopped off the semi. "That should do it... it's patchwork, but it should hold until we can get someone to look at it in LA." Wiping her hands on a rag she turned and glared at Devon. "No guarantees though; I'm not a miracle worker."

"I'm aware of that," Devon sighed. "And I deeply appreciate your making the attempt. We haven't the time to wait for a tow truck to pull us into the city."

Bonnie looked at him in confusion. "I thought that this Dragan was a friend of yours."

"He is," Devon chuckled and shook his head. "Well, as much as anyone is anyway. It's not Dragan I'm worried about... once Michael lets Dragan know that I sent him he'll be safe enough." Devon turned and headed for the open rear door of the trailer as the semi started. "I'm more worried about Michael encountering some of Dragan's, shall we say, more curious employees before they meet!"

Bonnie quickly gathered her tools and followed him into the trailer. "Curious?"

"I'm sorry," Devon smiled and shook his head "But these aren't my secrets to tell and with any luck you will never need to know them."

Michael groaned as he slowly regained consciousness. Opening his eyes he winced at the light set off an explosion of pain in his skull.

"Hi. I was beginning to think you where never going to wake up."

Michael turned his head slowly looking for the source of the voice. "Who...?"

"My name is Mike," the young man said as he smiled. "Mr. Dragan told me to look after you and let him know when you woke up."

"Well, I'm awake... By the way, where am I?" Michael lifted the blanket and frowned at the hospital gown underneath. "And where are my pants?"

"You're in the Dragan Security medical center; your clothes are in the closet," Mike pointed toward a door. "Your personal effects are in the nightstand drawer. The doc said you're going to be fine, so get dressed and I'll show you to your quarters..."

"What?" Michael said as he climbed out of bed. "I don't need 'quarters', I need to talk to Dragan."

"That will have to wait until morning." Mike shrugged as Michael walked passed him into the bathroom and closed the door. "We'll send you back with the shift change."

"Send me back?" Michael's voice filtered through the bathroom door.

"You're in our company hospital," Mike answered hesitantly, "located in the company living quarters. I'm afraid that the transport back to the city won't be available until morning."

"I can have some friends pick me up."

"Not unless they have an authorized aircraft!" Mike chuckled. "There are no roads leading here. We're completely cut off by the mountains and we're in restricted airspace so if it's not authorized they would be persuaded to go elsewhere. You could try hiking out, but I wouldn't suggest it."

Michael came out of the bathroom and gave the young man a pointed look. "Can we say 'paranoid'? I doubt Area 51 has this kind of security."

"Don't look at me," Mike held up his hands in supplication. "I've only worked here for a week."

Michael looked at him funny.

Mike smiled and shrugged. "I read it in the information packet they gave me when I moved in. Come on, I'll show you to the guest accommodations."

Michael didn't like it, but followed him through the maze of halls and soon found himself blinking at the light as they suddenly emerged into the windowed lobby. Still blinking his eyes he followed his guide out the doors and bumped into someone going in.

"Sorry about that..." Michael trailed off as he got a good look at the person he had bumped into.

"No problem, but watch where you're walking from now on. Okay?" The seven-foot gray-skinned man with tentacles for hair said as he pushed the door open and entered the hospital.

"That was some costume..." Michael Knight stared at the hospital doors for a moment before turning back to his guide "It was a costume, right?"

Michael didn't feel encouraged when the kid shrugged and began to walk away.

Chapter 6

F.L.A.G command trailer
Entering LA

Beep, beep

Bonnie opened the communication channel almost instantly. "Michael?"

"Sorry Bonnie, it's just me again." KITT said in a semi-annoyed tone. "We appear to have reached our destination."

"Okay, KITT," Bonnie said after copying the address KITT gave her. "Do you have an update on Michael's condition?"

"They carried him out of the garage almost as soon as we arrived. Judging from the stretcher they had him on, and what I over heard of the conversation, they were taking him for medical attention." KITT hesitated a moment before continuing in a worried tone. "However, I lost his watch's signal shortly after he left the building."


"I have checked, and my systems are not reading any malfunctions so I'm assuming that Michael's watch must have been damaged or destroy..."


"I seem to have attracted the attention of... something."

Bonnie gave the monitor a confused expression. "Could you be a bit more specific, KITT?"

"I wish I could," KITT said in a bewildered tone. "But I can't find any record of whatever it is in any of my databases..." KITT fell silent for a moment before continuing in a shocked tone. "It's trying to get in."

Bonnie rolled her eyes and sighed. "Well, lock your doors."

"I already have. I may be a computer, but I can figure that much out myself," KITT said in a huff. "It just unlocked it and tried again!"

"Say that again?"

"I said that when I locked my doors it somehow unlocked the driver's door and tried to open it , but I got them locked again in time," KITT said in an annoyed tone. "If you're through making me repeat myself, I really could use some help here... it's started talking!"

Bonnie looked at KITT's telemetry worriedly, shook her head and sighed. < Great; it's all showing normal. I'm going to have to do a complete diagnostic to find out what's wrong with him... Then I'm going to kill Michael for doing whatever he did that screwed up KITT's systems! > "We just entered the city; we should be there soon, KITT."

"I would appreciate it if you hurried," KITT said nervously. "I would like to get down off this lift and get my wheels back on the ground as soon as possible!"

Bonnie frowned in confusion. "I thought you said that you had kept them from opening your doors. So how did they get you on to a lift without getting you?"

"Bonnie, trust me when I say you wouldn't believe me if I told you!" That said KITT severed the connection.

< I was right; I needed the drink before it even started! > Dragan poured himself a drink, threw it back, winced and poured another before sitting in the chair at his desk. < You know it's times like these that I miss how easy it was in the old days... >

< You could always go back, you know. >

Dragan started chuckling at the whisper from the back of his mind. < Oh yeah, right! With all of the Hunters around now, I wouldn't last half an hour if I did! >

< The Goa'uld couldn't stop you... >

< They were stupid and incompetent... > Dragan frowned staring into his drink. < Humans may be stupid, too, but most Hunters are not incompetent! Besides, I may miss the ease of those days but I would never return to them. As much as I hate to admit it, I've got too much to loose now. >

< Don't tell me *you* are thinking of looking for redemption... >

< No way, > Dragan chuckled dryly, downed his drink, grabbed his armor's trench coat and walked out of his office. < Why would I look for something that doesn't exist? >

Hercules looked around the club and yawned. Looking down at his watch he sighed. < Damn, it's not even that late. >

"Here you go..." Herc looked up just in time to catch the set of keys Dragan threw at him. "Take my suite. I've got something I need to take care of now, but I'd like to speak with you in the morning."

Herc looked from Dragan's retreating form to the keys in his hand and back before speaking. "Thanks, but no thanks. I'll just head home..."

"Not with the amount you've had to drink you won't... it's better if you just sleep here." Dragan stopped and half turned to look back at him with a smirk. "Besides, I had security hide your car... so unless you want to try walking it, have a nice night and I'll see you in the morning."

"What?!" Hercules glared at his smirking friend for a moment before rolling his eyes and sighing. "So what are you up to?"

"Just going to see if I can prove you wrong." Dragan said before he turned and left the club.

Herc stared after him a moment before turning to Noel with a confused expression. "Do you have any idea what he's talking about?"

The demon shook his head, downed the last of his drink and shrugged. "No clue. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go see if I can get a bit of company for the night."

Hercules chuckled. "Good luck. Hey, how do I..."

Noel pointed toward the door marked staff that Vince and Tease had used earlier. "Just keep going up and you can't miss it!"

Dragan silently opened the door to the garage, stopping as he saw Makael and Cles talking beside the Black Trans-Am from earlier. Dragan watched them for a moment before taking a deep breath and entering the building.

As Dragan approached, Makael noticed him and watched nervously until Dragan jerked his head towards the exit. "Aren't you on duty, Makael?"

"Yes, sir," Makael nodded hesitantly, eyes widening as he moving toward the door. Cles turned to face Dragan.

"Then you had better get back to work, hadn't you, before someone decides you need some remedial classes--again." Dragan growled, sending Makael all but running out the door.

< He'll face down a sixth circle with nothing but a sword, and runs for the hills from his dad. > Cles shook her head and giggled. "So, I take it that you wanted to talk to me... alone."

"Yeah... I said I'd show you how grateful I was for looking over that Trans-am we towed in." Dragan shuffled nervously and smiled as she began lowering the car. She watched him out of the corner of her eye "Well, here you go..."

Cles stopped the hoist with the tires still several inches off the ground. She turned toward Dragan and frowned at the envelope he was holding out to her. "What's that?"

"It's a ten percent bonus," Dragan shrugged. "You've more then earned it."

Cles wilted slightly before taking the envelope. Sliding it into her pocket she turning back to finish lowering the hoist. "Thank..." Cles squeaked in shock as a pair of arms wrapped around her and pulled her back against a warm body as Dragan began nuzzling her just behind her ear.

"I only said that was for looking at the car." Cles trembled as Dragan's breath tickled her ear, causing it to twitch. "I'm afraid that for you to see the rest of my gratitude you'll have to wait until we're somewhere that nobody might walk in. I could meet you at your place in a little while..."

Dragan felt her stiffen in his arms a half second before he found himself laying pinned to the Trans-Am's hood, looking up into Cles' glittering eyes as she hissed and licked the end of his nose. "No More Games, Dragan! * Please! *."

Dragan smiled, reached up and gently stroked her cheek as he nodded. "No more games."

< Well it's a start... > Chyra stared at the security feed from the garage and smiled. < Now if I could just get him to accept some help. If he keeps on internalizing the way he has been he's going to completely revert and I'm not strong enough to stop him yet. >

Chyra returned her attention to the screen and blushed as her eyes went wide. < Gods, doesn't he have any shame? > Chyra sighed and shook her head < Okay, that was a dumb question. >

"Hello, Mini-boss." Chyra jumped as a smiling face appeared taking up most of the screen. "How you doing?"

"Psymon," Chyra rolled her eyes as the AI's face shrank until its entire body only took up one side of the screen. "How in the hell did you get in here? You're not supposed to have access to this part of the network."

"Yeah, that firewall was a real pain..."Psymon shrugged. "I mean it kept me out of anything interesting. Lucky for me, the comp in Draggie's armor has access to the entire network... so I just used it as a mask and reset them to allow me through." Psymon grinned and hugged himself. "Now that I've checked out the whole thing I can get to work making Dragan's life easier..."

"Psymon, Dragan is going to throw a fit when finds out..." Chyra began, before being cut off by the AI.

"Hey, is that the boss?" the AI asked in a confused tone looking at the computer window displaying the security feed from the garage. "What in the world is he doing?"

Chyra dropped her head into her hands and groaned. "I am not having *this* discussion with you!"

Devon climbed out of the trailer and looked across the street at a sign that simply read 'The Mixer' above a guarded entrance before turning back to Bonnie. "Bonnie, dear, please be a good sport and stay in the command trailer for the time being."

Devon rolled his eyes at the glare she leveled in his direction. "If this establishment is anything like the others he owns that I have frequented, then it will be best if you do not go in... at least until we are sure Dragan is present."

Bonnie's expression turned curious. "Why?"

"Well, you see, Bonnie," Devon cleared his throat as the color rose in his cheeks, "his clubs tend to be of an adult nature and I do not want to subject you to the advances of the clientele unnecessarily."

Bonnie watched as without another word Devon headed for the club across the street. "Devon, KITT's on this side of the street."

Devon continued across the street, as if he hadn't heard her. Going straight to the closest guard he gave him his identification and began an animated conversation.

Bonnie shook her head as she ducked back into the command trailer, grabbed her equipment bag and one of Kitt's portable tracking units before opening the trailer's side door. She glanced both ways to see if the coast was clear, dropped to the ground and entered an alley that was hidden from the people in front of the club by the command trailer. She had gone about halfway down the alley when she found her way blocked by a wooden fence; with the help of a trashcan she glanced over the fence. Finding only an empty alleyway on the other side she stepped up onto a nearby dumpster and climbed over the fence muttering dire threats against a certain Michael Knight.

When her feet hit pavement she blinked at the now chain link fence she had just climbed over. < What in the world? >


Bonnie slowly turned around and raised her hands as she found herself looking down the barrels of three silenced HK Mp-5s being held by men in black uniforms. "I don't suppose you'd believe me if I said I was lost?"

"Maybe, ma'am, but you're still trespassing on private property. I'm going to have to ask you to come with us." Two of the men lowered their weapons and approached her making sure to stay out of the third's line of fire. When they reached her one took her equipment bag while the other gave her a quick pat down before securing her hands behind her back with a plastic binder. "I'm sorry about this, but until you've been cleared we have to restrain you!"

< Oh, this isn't good! > Bonnie thought nervously, as each of her arms were taken in a firm handhold and they began to lead her out of the alley. "Is this really necessary? I mean I just... climbed... a fence."

Bonnie trained off as she exited the alley and took in her surroundings. She felt her eyes go wide as she was led into a well lit area that could best be described as a compound. At the center was a three-story building that took up almost two square city blocks. It was almost totally surrounded by a large landscaped lawn and she could just make out people moving on the roof. Starting at the edge of the lawn was a good-sized covered parking lot containing everything from Honda civics and Hummers to Harley Davidson's and Ninja's. Around the perimeter of the compound was a chain-link fence broken only by buildings that were obviously part of whatever this place was.

"What the hell is going on here?" Bonnie looked for the speaker and found a young Asian man approaching them. He stopped and stared at her for a moment with a spaced expression before shaking his head and chuckling. "Miss Barrlow, it's a pleasure to meet you... although I am very curious about what you're doing here. But first I want to know why you're coming out of a dark alley, tied up, with two of my men?"

Bonnie's eyes bulged and her face went red as the comment triggered a memory. "You better be glad I'm tied up, or I'd knock out another one of your teeth, Makael, you snot-nosed little pervert!"

Makael smirked, placed his hands over his heart and fluttered his eyelashes at her. "Gee, I didn't think you'd remember me... I'm touched."

"Hah, hah," Bonnie said sarcastically and glared at him. "Cut the comedy and get me loose!"

"Fine." Makael frowned at her for a moment before turning to the guards. "Cut her loose once you're done processing her...just be thorough with the strip search."

"WHAT!" Bonnie screamed in outrage as her face went red. "If you so much as touch my shoes I'll..."

Bonnie trailed of as she noticed the confused look on the guards' faces and the growing smirk on Makael's.

"Got'cha!" Makael said, not bothering to cover his amusement.

Noel sighed as he saw a group of some of the Mixer's most well known troublemakers lead a human woman into the hotel. < Great, first I get shot down, now I get to make sure that they're not up to any of their old tricks. For their sakes they better not be... I would really enjoy showing them the error of their ways tonight! >

Noel chuckled as he got to his feet, nodded to the desk clerk and headed into the hotel after them. After a few minutes of checking the security monitors, he spotted them clustered around a door on the second floor and headed up the nearest staircase. Noel frowned when they spotted him and scattered as he reached the top of the stairs. Reaching out, he grabbed the neck of one that had decided to try to rush by him rather than head for one of the other exits and pulled him close enough that their noses were nearly touching. "What are you numb-nuts up to this time?"

The other demon began to struggle, trying to get loose. "Let me go! We didn't do nothing!"

Noel grinned cruelly and squeezed a little harder, so it just began to hurt. "Then why did you run?"

"We figured you were gonna try to kick our asses again for sleeping with your little sis... ack!" the other demon was cut off as Noel squeezed hard enough to cut off its air and make its eyes bulge.

Noel growled deep in his chest but forced himself to open his hand and release him. "Get out of my sight before I forget the rules and kill you!"

Noel watched as it scrambled down the stairs on hands and knees, still gasping for air. He shook his head, sighed and headed toward the woman standing in the doorway they had been gathered looking around with an annoyed look. < Dragan is going to chew me out big time for that... I just hope he doesn't give me too much of a fine. >

"Don't worry ma'am, those fools won't bother you again toni..." Noel trailed off, looking around as he caught a strangely familiar odor and tried to figure out what it was and where it was coming from. He missed both the annoyed look she gave him and the slow smile that spread across her face as she looked him up and down.

< Where have I smelled that before... > "Whoa..." Noel yelped in surprise as a quick pull on his shirt collar followed by a blow between his shoulders sent him stumbling forward into the room to land face first on the floor. Blinking his eyes, he shook his head and got to his knees before looking towards the door to see what had happened. Noel blinked when he saw the human woman lock the door, slip the key in her pocket and take a drink from a bottle she was carrying.

As she lowered the bottle he caught sight of the label. His eyes went wide as he looked from the bottle to the locked door and back to the predatory smile she was giving him as he scanned the room for another exit. < She's drinking Succubus' Kiss?! Damn, where is a window when you need one! >

After a moment of searching he turned back towards the woman and swallowed nervously as he realized the door was the room's only exit. He briefly considered trying to lock himself in the bathroom but threw that idea out given that the room key worked on that door too so it would do him little good.

Getting to his feet, he gave her a shaky smile and made placating motions with his hands as she began unbuttoning her blouse while walking slowly towards him. "Now lady, it's not that I'm not really flattered, but why don't you just lie down and take a nap..." Noel's eyes widened as she dropped her blouse to the floor and started on her bulletproof vest. "You'll feel much better in the morning."

"Lady is a dog in a Disney movie; my name is Detective Leona Cantrell ... and I know how to make myself feel much better right now!" The Hispanic woman said as she unfastened her jeans, then grabbed the base of her undershirt and pulled it over her head leaving her bare from the waist up. Leona's smile grew as he stared at her. Moving closer to him she reached out and gently traced one of his horns with her fingertips. "You like?"

"Y-yeah..." Noel stared at her in a daze as she moved closer, only snapping out of it when her fingers caressed his horn, sending shivers through his body. Reaching up, he grabbed her hand and took a deep breath; he swallowed hard to dislodge the lump in his throat. "I mean no... I mean... look, almost any other time and I'd be all for it! But you see I have this thing against sleeping with someone that's under the influence. I try not to do it; anyway, you really don't know what you're getting into..."

Noel wasn't able to finish what he was saying because suddenly Leona closed the remaining distance between them, cutting him off by pressing her lips to his. She reached out and began to stroke the inside of his thigh, then blinked as something jerked away from her hand.

Noel closed his eyes with a whimper as he tasted the remains of the drink on her lips. Feeling it start to take effect he released Leona's hand and grabbed her shoulders as she deepened the kiss while continuing her examination. After a moment of examining her unexpected find she pulled away from the kiss and looked at him with a curious expression. "Why do you keep your tail inside your pants?"

Noel breathed deeply, as he slid his hands slowly off her shoulder, down her sides catching her remaining clothing and pushed them down over her hips until his large hands where gripping the back of her now bare thighs. Looking into her widening eyes Noel stepped forward, catching her jeans under his foot, stripping off them and her shoes as he lifted her off of her feet. "I don't have a tail."

"So are you two planning on wearing those get-ups all night?" Detective Danny Archuletta said as he sat down on the bed and smiled at the two ladies that had invited him to their room. "I mean, it can't be comfortable to wear them very long."

The pair looked at each other, nodded and unzipped the coveralls they were wearing as they walked up to the bed, revealing fur-covered bodies. When they reached it they slipped out of the clothing and gently pushed the detective onto his back in the center of the bed, then knelt on either side of him. "You're right, this is better without those."

Danny rolled his eyes, reached out and began running his hands over their bodies, feeling around in search of the fasteners to costumes. After a few moments of fruitless searching, while one his companions mimicked his caresses as the other worked at removing his clothes, he stopped and looked from one lady to the other with an embarrassed smile before speaking. "Sorry ladies, but I can't seem to find the opening for your costumes; could you give me a hand?"

"Sure, no problem..." Both of them looked at each other and chuckled. "The openings for our 'costumes' are in the same place as on a human; it's just better covered."

Danny's eyes went wide as his glance went from their bodies to the talons on the tips of the fingers exploring his body, up to the beaks on their faces and back before he looked up into their eyes. Seeing the amused glimmer there he swallowed nervously and gave them a shaky smile. "You're not wearing costumes, are you?"

When the pair shook their heads and leaned over him, Danny chuckled anxiously as he glanced from the approaching beak to the talons moving over his skin. < Oh yeah, no pressure here... none at all! >

After a moment the one on the left looked him in the eye and cocked her head to the side. "You don't need to be nervous," she smiled. "We're not going to hurt you... it wouldn't feel good for us either!"

Michael Knight stared out of the window as his guide drove him through what seemed to be a small town. < Why is a town this small so alive at this time of night? >

"Here you go, Mr. Knight." Michael started as the young man beside him tapped him on the shoulder and pointed at a small house they were parked in front of. Getting out, he led Michael up to the front door and into the house. "These are the guest quarters, Mr. Knight. Bedroom and bathroom are in there, kitchen is over there, TV is in the living room and the cable is already on. If you need anything, just dial zero on your phone, ask for Mike Connors and they'll put you through to me. Okay?"

Mike stopped at the door on his way out, sighed and turned back to face Michael. "Just to be on the safe side, Mr. Knight, I wouldn't go exploring the town tonight, sir. Some of my co-workers aren't very trusting of strangers and with the trouble we've had today... they may not react well to someone they don't know checking out their homes." Seeing the look on the older man's face Mike smirked. "We really don't have anything to hide, sir, just a whole lot to lose."

Michael nodded as he watched the kid leave and sat down in front of the TV. After about a half-hour of trying to find something interesting on the boob tube to take his mind off the mystery of this town, he finally turned it off and threw the remote on the couch in frustration. < What are they trying to hide? >

Curiosity finally getting the better of him, Michael grabbed his jacket and left the house, heading for a bar he had seen on the way to his quarters. When he got there he stood just inside the door and stared at all the people in costumes for a moment before shrugging it of and heading for the bar. After he had ordered a beer from the nice lady with silver eyes and a smile that would make a shark nervous, he took a good look around, trying to figure out what was setting his nerves on edge.

It finally hit him when the lady returned with his beer. He had seen many dress-up clubs and other alternative lifestyle establishments since he had hooked up with the Knight Foundation, and this place was unlike any of them. If it wasn't for the costumes this could have been any small town bar he had ever been in. He was still mulling that over when he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder and looked up without turning around to see four of the people in costumes standing in a rough semi-circle behind him in the mirror. Slowly he turned around and gave them his best friendly smile. "Something I can do for you guys?"

"Yes there is, Garth...hold still." the one standing closest to Michael smiled and a few of the others cracked their knuckles as Michael paled. "We've been waiting for the chance to get even with you for over ten years!"

Hercules opened the door to the suite, turned on the light and stared in disbelief. Everywhere he looked there were stacks of paper, trinkets, paintings, books and just about anything else he could think of. Walking carefully into the cluttered room Herc reached out and picked a piece of paper off the nearest pile.

"I never took you as a slob, Drag..." Herc waved some dust out of his face and turned his attention to the paper in his hand. After a moment he shook his head and took at a quick glance at a few others in the pile, looking around the suite. < Dragan, just when I think I'm beginning to understand you, I find something that throws everything I thought I knew off kilter. Why in the world would you leave a pile of stock certificates worth more than my house just lying around your apartment? >

Setting the certificate back on the pile he looked around the room and grimaced. He sighed at the thin layer of dust that covered several of the randomly placed piles taking up most of the apartment's main room. < No way am I sleeping in this place until it's a bit cleaner. I could kill myself in the middle of the night going to the bathroom... I wonder if there are any cleaning supplies in here. >

Herc walked into the kitchen hoping to find something to help him get rid of the dust. As he opened and closed cabinets he felt something nagging at the back of his mind. He finally figured out what was bothering him as he opened the closet beside the fridge, finding what he had been looking. Grabbing some supplies he went back into the main room and looked around again, shaking his head in confusion at what he was seeing. The floor, counters and every other surface in the room was spotless; the dust began and ended on the piles.

< Okay, what's going on...? I know there are no booby traps because they would have gone off when I was looking through that first pile... so why wouldn't whoever cleans this place at least get rid of the dust? > Shaking his head, he noticed one pile on which the dust was so thick you could barely tell that it was a pile of books. Walking over to it Hercules carefully picked up one off the top of the pile and winced as it caused a small avalanche of dust to slide down the pile to the floor.

Hercules backed away from the pile, coughing and waving his free hand at the cloud of dust that had been kicked up when a flash of white light made him jump in surprise. Once he got his coughing under control he slowly approached the books again, looking around cautiously for the source of the light.

When Herc reached the pile of books with out any sign of the light returning he sighed, glanced down and stared in shock. He had expected the floor surrounding the books to be covered in dust; instead it was as spotless as before. After a moment a thoughtful frown crossed his face as he glanced from the pile to the floor a few times before sticking out his foot and knocking some dust off the lowest books onto the floor with the toe of his shoe. A few seconds after it hit the ground there was another flash of white light and the demi-god found he was once again looking at a spotless floor.

< Well, that explains that... some kind of cleaning spell, but why isn't it set up to clean everything? Oh well, I can ask Dragan in the morning. I won't get any sleep if I don't get started cleaning this up. Still... > Herc looked at the book he had taken from the pile < I wonder why that pile has more dust than the rest of them... >

Herc stared at the book for a moment as he struggled with his curiosity; finally he shrugged and opened the book. After skimming a few pages Herc snapped the book closed and looked at it with a worried expression. < Dragan knowing how to use magic... Now there is something to make you sleep well at night. That guy gets in more trouble on his own than a klepto at a police convention ... I don't even want to think about what would happen if magic was thrown into the mix as well! >

Shaking his head, Hercules set down the book he was holding, covered his lower face with one of the rags from the closet and picked up another book off the stack. After shaking the dust off it he set it on a nearby counter and opened it. After a few moments he closed it, frowned, reached for the first book and laid it open beside the one he had.

After studying both of the books for a moment Herc shook his head, closed them both and sighed. < Okay, that's a relief. Either these are Chyra's, or Drag has started collecting books on dragons' abilities and magic... although what he would want them for is beyond me! Last I heard he thinks mages are all nuts for playing with something that could turn them into toads just for mispronouncing a word. >

Hercules shrugged, grabbed a few more rags and began cleaning the dust-covered items. An hour later Herc looked around the now clean room and sighed. The bookcase was full with several stacks of books beside it; on the other side of the room there was a stack of framed and unframed paintings nearly to the ceiling, many of which were worth more then he cared to think about. The walls were now lined with boxes, trunks, urns, vases-anything Herc could find in which to place some of the heaps of papers, jewelry, trinkets, toys (and several things that he hadn't the slightest clue as to what they were) that had been piled in the room.

Looking at a few items that had been too large to pack Hercules scratched his head. < What on earth would anyone want with a three-foot tall bronze statue of a frog? >

Herc stifled a yawn and headed of for what he hoped was a spare bedroom, as he wasn't very anxious to see what Dragan's bedroom looked like after the mess he had found in the main room. He had only taken a few steps before he jumped as a high-pitched yapping bark broke the silence. Hercules looked around the room for the source, grabbing his chest and releasing a nervous chuckle when he saw the small growling dog crouched between him and the door, baring its teeth.

Taking a deep breath, Hercules knelt down and held out his hand it. "Hey there, little fella, you gave me quite a scare... Where you been hiding? "

The small dog growled louder and yapped at him again. "Come on, I'm not going to hurt you. I just want to get some sleep."

When, after several more attempts the small canine still refused to clam down, Herc rolled his eyes and stood up. He decided to just ignore the yapping pest, go into the room and get some sleep. He took two steps toward the door and froze, his face falling as the little dog was suddenly replaced by a large lion-like animal growling low in its throat as it took a threatening swipe at the air between them with claws the size of his little finger.

"Okay," Hercules said, holding his hands away from his body as he slowly backed away from that door and toward the one on the other side of the room. "Point taken, the other room will be just fine."

< Okay, Dragan, in the morning you and me are gonna have a long talk about warning guests about your pet, Herc thought as he backed into the door felt around for the knob.> He opened the door, slipped through and closed it without taking his eyes off the creature. Herc closed his eyes and sighed in relief before a bark from the other room made him glare at the door.

When Herc turned around he felt his jaw drop as he got a good look at the room he was in. There was a king-sized bed in one corner of the room, with a set of double-doors that were probably a closet at the foot of it. Most of the rest of the room was taken up by a pile of gold coins, shoulder high at the highest point against the wall and tapering downward to a plateau at waist height until just short of the edge of the pile.

After a few minutes of staring, Herc closed his mouth and shook his head. He walked over, stripped to his skivvies and climbed into the bed. < That's enough of a look into Drag's head for tonight... I'm going to sleep before I drive myself insane trying to figure this stuff out! >

"Excuse me Sir," the security guard said as he thumbed the transmit switch to his throat mike. "There's a guy looking for you at the club."

"Later..." said a very annoyed voice over the radio, "just make him comfortable and I'll deal with him in the morning!"

"But Sir, he says it's important... "The guard started to explain before wincing away from a high pitched wordless shriek.

"HE SAID *LATER*!!" a feminine voice yelled into the radio which was followed by a whining hiss and a loud crackle before the radio dead.

The guard pulled the earpiece from his ear and rubbed it with a pained expression as he turned back to the man with graying hair. "I'm sorry, but Dragan does not seem to be available Mr. Miles... He will see you in the morning, so if you'll come with me I'll arrange some quarters for you."

Devon rolled his eyes with a sigh and frowned. "Very well... but first I was wondering if you could see if you could find an associate of mine, he was reported to have been brought in unconscious by some of your co-workers earlier."

The guard placed his earpiece back in his ear, stepped away and spoke quietly for a few moments, then turned back to Devon and smiled. "He was taken to the company hospital, after they cleared him he was given guest quarters and will be here in the morning, sir. Now, if you'll follow me."

"One moment," Devon motioned towards the truck "I have a... co-worker waiting for me in the vehicle. I'll just go fetch her along... would it be too much trouble to ask for separate rooms?"

"No problem, Devon..." A familiar voice said behind him. "Least we could do for a friend."

"Makael," Devon smiled, turned towards him and blinked at the sight of a visibly upset Bonnie walking beside him throwing hostile looks his way every few seconds "How have you been?"

"Pretty good, all things considered..." Makael said and smiled. "How about you?"

"As well as can be considered." Devon said looking between Makael and Bonnie with a thoughtful expression. "I take it you know each other?"

Makael smiled and opened his mouth to reply, but saw the look Bonnie was giving him before he could deliver the smart-ass comment that he had prepared. Rolling his eyes, he sighed and shook his head in annoyance.

"Yeah we've met..." he glanced at the guard Devon had been talking to as he continued. "She was found in Dragan Security's headquarters' compound; they just finished processing her and I was escorting her back to her vehicle when I saw you."

"Sir," Devon glanced at the guard raising an eyebrow at the anger just barely visible under the man's control, "if you will all excuse me? Makael can arrange your lodging and I have duties to see to."

"No problem. Go take care of your responsibilities, Captain." Makael waved the man off with a smile, watched his hands curl into fists as he started across the street. "Now if you will follow me, I will show you to your rooms."

When they nodded he led them through a side door, up a couple flights of stairs and into what appeared to be a suite. "Here you go," Makael pointed at a couple doors at one end of the apartment, "bedrooms are through there--each has a private bathroom. If you need anything just pick up the phone and dial zero. Whoever picks up will get you whatever you need."

As Devon looked around the main room his eyes came to rest on a group of picture frames on a table, and he frowned as he turned to Makael only to find only a closed door. < He didn't have to give us his own room; one of the rooms in the hotel would have been sufficient. >

Seeing Bonnie giving the room a look of mild disgust, Devon cleared his throat to get her attention, waved her to a chair and waited until she had sat down before joining her. "So, Bonnie, how long have you known Makael?"

Bonnie looked away and half growled before answering him. "I don't want to talk about this, Devon."

"Very well, Bonnie..." Devon frowned and shook his head, "but please, whatever is bothering you do not let it interfere with your judgment involving these people."

"Don't worry Devon, I won't." Bonnie scowled as she got up and went into one of the bedrooms.

Devon stared at the door she had entered for a moment before he walked over to the mini-bar and poured himself a brandy. Taking a sip of it he headed for the other bedroom, shook his head and sighed. < This promises to be a most interesting morning... >

Truck stop
Between Los Angles and San Francisco

The cashier watched through the window nervously as the men at the pump filled the tanks on the rental truck. As she watched two of the men went to the rear of the truck and cautiously opened the doors. A moment later the cashier saw the man at the door start laughing. A moment later the other man emerged from the truck with a small dog in his arms.

Shortly one of the men came in to pay for the gas. While she was getting his change she glanced at the security camera's monitor as the bell signaled a new car at the pumps. < White Honda Civic, License number YXX336, rental truck getting ready to leave, Lion looking through the truck's window, six dollars and forty-two scents is their change... LION? > Her head snapped back up to look at the monitor, seeing nothing she shook her head and chuckled. < Now I know that I've been working nights too long... I'm starting to see things. >

"Miss... is everything alright?"

"Yes, sir," the cashier turned back to counter and handed the man his change with a smile. "My eyes are just playing tricks on me. Have a nice day!"

The man looked at her strangely, shrugged, went out and got in the truck with the other men. Looking at the dog sitting on one of his partners' lap he rolled his eye. "What the hell is that mutt doing in here?"

The other man smirked. "Do you know how much one of these things are worth? I know a guy that will pay top dollar and won't ask any questions about where it came from."

The driver shook his head, rolled his eyes as he started the truck and drove away.

Sixteen hundred feet

"They're on the move again." the pilot voice came over the headsets.

"Damn it, how far ahead of us are they?" the team leader asked as he grabbed a map.

"About fifty miles ahead, doing about sixty, Sir!"

The team leader consulted the map and did some quick math in his head before throwing the map to the floor in disgust. "Shit, unless a miracle happens they're going to make it into the city before we can make a strike! Let me know if they stop again before they reach the city..."

"Sure thing, sir... but why don't I just open it up?" the pilot replied in a confused tone. "We could overtake them easily..."

"Yeah," The team leader's dry chuckle came over the headset clearly as he answered. "And we'd have everyone from the police to the coast guard up here trying to see what the hell we're up to. Keep the speed where it is. We don't need that kind of attention, especially since we're flying around in a Russian Hynd that is basically carrying a fully armed Special Ops team!"

"Understood, sir." The pilot replied, shook his head and muttered. "If it was going to be such a hassle then why did they take the damn thing?"

"Not that it's any of your business, but we took it for three reasons..." The pilot winced as an amused voice answered him over the headset. "First, we were in a hurry: it was the only chopper that was fully fueled and ready to go. Second, these guys we're after had some serious firepower earlier; the Hynd is one of very few choppers that can take a rocket-powered grenade and keep going. And third: we where ordered to take it!" the voice changed to gaining a rough growl as it went cold. "Now if we have satisfied your curiosity will you get back to your job and just fly the fucking bird already?!"

"Yes, sir!" came the pilot's meek reply.

Michael Knight leaned back against the bar, holding an ice pack to his eye and a paper towel to his nose as he surveyed the damage to the almost empty bar. The broken tables were being removed; the broken glass had already been swept up. The pile of unconscious bodies that were lying against the wall made him shake his head then wince at the spike of pain that sent through his skull.

"Here," Michael looked towards the voice and found one of the three people that had come to his aid handing him a bottle of aspirin and a beer, "this should help with the pain."

"Thanks..." Michael said taking both items, "and I don't just mean for the beer and aspirin, either."

"No problem," the guy said shaking his head as he sat down beside Michael and smiled showing off a mouth full of pointed teeth. "We knew you wasn't Garth and we wasn't about to let them kill ya for something ya didn't have nothing to do with."

"Why can't you at least try to speak properly?" Michael turned and found the other two had sat down on the other side of him. "But he is correct that we couldn't have sat there and watched them attack you for something Garth did. We know you're not him. However, we would have helped them wipe the floor with you if you had been!"

Michael stared at white-haired man's cat-like eyes for a moment before speaking. "How did you know I wasn't?"

"Well, first off, Garth has been dead for a long time; we saw the body. Secondly, you don't smell anything like him..." The third person said to Michael, leaning back slightly as he smiled at him "But the real clincher was the fact that you had no idea what the hell you were doing against those guys. Garth would have had that bunch of drunken idiots on the floor in a matter of minutes..."

Michael blinked in confusion as his face went blank. "Huh?"

The first two that had spoken scowled at the third one, who just looked at them in confusion. "What? Why are you guys looking at me like that?"

The one with the white hair shook his head with a pained expression, while the one with the pointy teeth rolled his eyes and sighed. "Boss's right, you have big mouth, Tommy... and you're not very subtle, either!"

Tommy scratched his head. "What do you mean, Kahr'l?"

Kahr'l covered his eyes and groaned. "Never mind, forget I said anything."

Tommy's face darkened as he hopped to his feet. "You were insulting me again, weren't you?"

"Maybe," Kahr'l stood up with a snarl. "Whatcha gonna do about it?!"

Michael watched as the two continued to argue back and forth, until after a few minutes the guy with white hair turned toward them and yelled. "Look, your little unrequited love affair is starting to piss me off! So either shut up or get a *room* already!"

Both of them paled as they stared their eyes wide and mouth hanging open at the white-haired man as he turned back to the bar. After downing a scotch and refilling his glass he tilted his head to the side, before looking over at Michael with a half smile. "Gee, they're being very quiet back there... Are you guys making out?"

Michael couldn't stop himself from chuckling as both of their faces turned red as they shouted. "Shut up, Snowle!"

Chapter 7

An old man in a tailored suit watched Dragan as he carried the sleeping form of his paramour out of the garage and shook his head with a chuckle. "Grenith, how do you always manage to make the choices that will make my tasks even more difficult?"

"Probably for the same reason that he's done everything else for," the old man tensed as he turned and glared at the dark-haired man standing beside him. "But I'm more interested in what you think you're doing! You know you're forbidden from taking any actions…"

"Not so fast Mikey-boy!" The old man cut him off with a condescending smirk. "That agreement was only valid until his death… and he did die; it's not my fault if somebody playing with time brought him back! But even if it was still in effect I wouldn't have violated it. We both know that, contrary to popular belief, talking is not taking action!"

"You've got to be kidding me!" The dark-haired man glared at the old man. "There's no way you can expect me to believe that…"

"No," both of the people on the roof jumped as a new voice entered the conversation, "but I can!"

The old man turned to face the new comer and swallowed hard as he took a step back. "M-m-my Lord…"

The dark-haired individual turned toward the newcomer and bowed his head before looking up at him with an incredulous expression. "No disrespect, Metatron… but you have *got* to be kidding me!"

"No, Michael, unfortunately I do not," the Metatron snapped. He scowled at him, shaking his head before turning to the old man who was now staring at the Voice of God with his mouth hanging open. Metatron rolled his eyes and sighed at the sight of him. "You can close your bloody mouth already… and drop that ridiculous disguise, Mesphesto!"

Mesphesto slowly nodded as his features melted into that of a young man. "This better?"

"I suppose you'd think it would be too much of a bother if I asked for your true form?" the voice all but growled at him.

"Not really, however…" Mesphesto looked around and chuckled nervously. "That would attract quite a bit of attention and I doubt any of us would want or enjoy that!"

"You may have a point there…" Metatron looked around, taking in the compound and its surrounding area before nodding at Mesphesto. "Anyway, as I was about to say, the rules haven't been violated considering there is nothing in them against you indirectly interacting with him in that way."

"However," Metatron smirked as Mesphesto lost the smile that had been slowly spreading across his face since the Voice had said that he hadn't violated the rules, "don't make a habit of this! The terms were that *he* has to make the decision himself… too much of this and the `Powers That Be' will have a good case for saying that he was manipulated into making it."

"That's just great!" Mesphesto rolled his eyes, shook his head and groaned. "I don't see why they're so against him getting a second chance. It's not like there hasn't been a multitude of changes already… so what is it about the idea of him surviving that has their feathers in a knot?"

"You mean besides the fact that he was one of the leading causes of death in their champions for several millennia?" The Metatron raised an eyebrow as his smirk became a frown. "I don't imagine that "Heorot" is ringing any bells with you?"

"I believe that Book of yours," Mesphesto snorted, "says something about `an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life'…That does kind of fit that situation, doesn't it?"

"Maybe that time," Metatron said dryly. "However, there are about fifteen million others that do not fall within those boundaries. So forgive them if they are a little uneasy with the idea of allowing Grenith of the Dale by way of Atlantis to live again…" Metatron chuckled and grinned. "If it wasn't for you betting on the young Kine surviving I doubt you would have been able to sway even this chance!"

"I know; I know… I mucked it up and I'm doing my best to make this right!" Mesphesto sighed and nodded. "If I had realized that ritual would take that much of my power I would have arranged for someone to care for him while I went to recharge. It's not like I planned to turn him loose without guidance. I just didn't want to him get hurt anymore, and it's not like he didn't do a lot of good, too!"

"I am well aware of that," Metatron snapped then pinched his nose with a pained expression and sighed. "Sorry, I've just been having a bad couple of weeks… the bloody Oracles have been having a conniption over what this is doing to their precious battle plans!"

Metatron looked up and frowned at the snickering pair. He shook his head and rolled his eyes with an amused snort. "Right; back to business." The Voice pointed at Mesphesto, "You keep your distance; I personally disapprove of this whole affair, so I don't want to have to play referee more than necessary!"

"As for you," Metatron smirked as he turned to Michael. "Since you're the only one of your kind to vote for this, or at least the only one that wasn't paying off a bet, you get the task of informing him not to interfere with the events in either Wisconsin or New Jersey, and watching over him for the duration of this bit of insanity!"

"Can't you find somebody else: Gabriel, one of the White-Lighters, anybody but me?" Michael groaned as Metatron shook his head and smiled. "He's gonna try to rip my wings off and shove them in any body cavity that's handy!"

"Then maybe this will teach you to play nice with others!" Metatron smiled. "Or at least not to make promises you can't keep."

Dragan Security On-duty barracks
Cles' apartment
5:00am September 10, 1995


Dragan grabbed the cell phone before it had a chance to ring again and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes as he groggily answered it. "Yeah, what is it?"

"I'm sorry if I woke you, I was under the impression that you didn't sleep!" an arrogant but amused voice came over the line.

"I don't…" Dragan snorted in amusement. "I just had a very long and exerting evening."

"I see…" The tone of the response made it clear that he wished he didn't. "As interesting as that may be, I called to let you know that we have made the arrangements and acquired the information you requested."

"That was quick…" Dragan sat up and swung his feet to the floor.

"It took three of our biggest super-computers, four techs and one of our best teams but we found him." Dragan shook his head at the obvious build up to a funding bonus request. "He's currently in Las Vegas; one of our agents is discretely keeping him under surveillance so we don't lose track of him."

"Oh good…" Dragan rolled his eyes and sighed. "That means he's probably spotted your man and is half-way to New York by now."

"Unlikely," Dragan smiled as he heard a slight tone of annoyance enter the voice. "He is very good at keeping track of people without being seen."

"If I get there and he's gone, I am not going to be happy. And if I'm not happy with your organization's performance I have no reason to provide you with funds, now do I!" Dragan growled as he stood up and grabbed his pants. "Somehow I doubt you would like having to explain my sudden lack of support to your creditors… "

"Understood," The person on the other end of the line said in a clipped tone. "If there is nothing else…"

"Well, actually there is…" Dragan said in a sarcastically sweet tone as he walked out of the bedroom. "I was wondering if you would be so kind as to send me everything you can find on whatever the hell `Codename: Pretender' is…"

"How much do you want to know about it?"

Dragan snorted in amusement. "Give me some credit! My people have been intercepting messages between the Tower and their people in the States. Whatever it is, they want it back in the worst possible way… and if they think it's important enough to warrant all this effort to try and get it back, then I at least want to know what it is!"

The line was silent except for the other man's breathing for a moment. "How much do you want this information?"

Dragan smirked "How does 3 upon delivery and I'll put in a good word with a few members of the budget committee… provided the information is detailed enough."

"Throw in copies of those intercepted messages you have and I'll put two of my best operatives on it as soon as possible!"

"Good, let me know when you have something. Oh, one more thing," Dragan grinned. "How in the hell can you afford to have more than two operatives on your budget?"

"Very easily," Dragan had to cover his mouth to keep from laughing at the growl from the other end of the line "I don't pay them insane wages or waste it on frivolous equipment."


< I don't believe it, he hung up on me! >Dragan stared at the phone in shock for a moment before shrugging as a smirk crossed his face. < Looks like I finally pushed him a bit too far… Oh well, I knew there was a reason I liked that toad; not many people would risk my funding for the pleasure of doing that. >

After gathering the rest of his clothing he stood in the doorway for a long moment, watching the sleeping figure with a troubled expression. As he slipped into his clothing he found his thoughts chasing themselves around what had happened the night before and the very real consequences to which it could lead. < Gods, what the hell was I thinking?! If anyone found out I think of her as more than a friend you could time her life expectancy with an egg timer! > Dragan paused for a split-second with his shirt half on, then shook his head and continued getting dressed. < But if I back off now I'll hurt her, again... This whole relationship thing was a hell of a lot easier when I didn't actually care about anybody! >

Dragan had just slipped on his boots when he heard movement behind him. "Morning, Cles."

"Good morning, Dragan…" Dragan stood up and turned toward her with a curious expression at the tone in her voice. "Is something wrong?"

"No more than yesterday…" Dragan said as he rolled his eyes and chuckled nervously. "I just have a lot of work to get do and I need to get started if I want to get it finished before January."

"Alright," Cles walked up, wrapped her arms around him and snuggled into his chest. "Just be careful… or else!" Cles said as pressed her talons into back lightly.

"No way," Dragan chuckled and moved his hand quickly, causing her to jump with a squeak. Slipping out of her loosened arms he ran for the door calling over his shoulder, "What fun would that be?"

He was nearly to the door when a hard tug on his trench coat yanked him off his feet. He landed flat on his back with a yelp and bounced his head off the floor. Blinking away the stars he found himself looking up into a familiar pair of eyes with a very familiar gleam in them. < Oh, shit! I guess that wasn't the best way to distract her! > "Cles, work, remember?"

Cles looked down at him, panting, for several seconds before leaning forward, stroking his cheek with her beak and whispering in little more then a hiss. "You're gonna be late!"

The Mixer
Dragan's office
Two hours later

"Go `way… it's too early!" Chyra grumbled, lifting her head. She came half awake when she heard the door to the office stairs open. When she didn't see anyone and got no response she curled up, laying her head on her tail. She had just started to drift off again when she heard a high-pitched giggle as a small pair of hands wrap around her and pulled her off her pile of chains. "What…?"

Chyra whipped her head around and stared in wide-eyed surprise at the grinning child that had her wrapped in her arms, pressing her into its chest. "Who are you? How did you get in here?"

The tiny girl giggled as she squeezed Chyra harder and pressed her cheek to the top of the small dragon's neck. "A dwagon, a cqute wittle dwagon that tawks! I dus' wuv dwagons!" She turned and walked toward the door, still carrying the befuddled Chyra. "Mommy will be tho thupwised! I know! Mommy taught me a thong about a dwagon! I'll thing it for you!" When she reached the stairs the little girl shifted Chyra so that she was being held by only one arm, grabbed the rail with the other arm and started down the stairs, singing.

Chyra had begun squirming in an attempt to get free when the child had shifted her to just one arm, only to freeze for a moment with an expression of horror when she realized what the child was singing. She suddenly redoubled her efforts to escape. < Sweet Creator, NO! >

The child just shifted her grip on the struggling dragon and continued singing. "Puff, the magic dwagon, wived by the thea…"

Mike Harrigan opened his eyes and snapped them closed with a groan as pain ripped through his skull like an ice pick. Harrigan grabbed his pillow, pulling it over his head as he rolled over and found himself pressed against a warm body. Harrigan felt a chill run up his spin as he slowly forced his eyes open and found himself looking at somebody wearing a costume with a lot of horns and red leathery skin. As he lay there staring his mind began replaying the previous evenings activities for him, many of which proved quite clearly that the person beside him wasn't wearing a costume. < Whatever was in that drink must have been playing with my head; there's no way that isn't a costume! >

Confident in his explanation Harrigan lifted the covers and looked under them expecting to see a zipper or some other evidence of a costume. Instead all he found was seamless red skin and a body that exactly matched his memories. Harrigan stared eyes wide for several moments before quickly rolling out of the bed. As he scrambled to his feet he felt his head spin. His stomach clenched as his skull burst with pain and he stumbled into the bathroom barely in time to avoid emptying the contents of his stomach on the floor.

"Hey, Sis, you up yet?" Robert `Bobby' Sixkiller knocked on the door to his step-sister's room again.

After a moment the door opened a crack and his sister's very annoyed looking disheveled head appeared around the corner. "Bobby, I'm trying to take a shower! What do you want?"

"Sorry, Sis," Bobby backed away from the door with an embarrassed expression, "I just wanted to make sure you were up…"

"And make sure I was alright and alone, no doubt!" Cheyenne frowned and rolled her eyes. "Bobby, the over-protective big brother thing is beginning to get on my nerves!" That said she closed the door before Bobby could reply.

Bobby stared at the door in confusion for several moments before a hand gripped his shoulder and a familiar humor-filled voice came from behind him. "Don't worry about it, Bobby. She's probably just still annoyed that you kept butting in whenever she started talking to anyone last night."

"Give me a break, Vince." Bobby turned, knocking Vince's hand off his shoulder and looked at him incredulously. "Those... guys weren't looking to just have a friendly chat!"

"So what, Bobby? You think Chey doesn't have the backbone to say no if she's not interested?" Vince lowered his sunglasses looking over them at his partner pointedly. "Cheyenne is a big girl; she is quite capable of both making decisions for and taking care of herself…" Vince slid his sunglasses back on and chuckled. "Besides, what were you gonna do if she had decided to take one of them up on it? You must not have been paying attention when they told us the rules but I was! If you had made a scene security would have gotten involved; then what? Take on an entire group armed with automatic weapons?"

"Maybe!" Bobby glared at Vince as he led him towards the stairs to the dining room.

Vince rolled his eyes and sighed. "Bobby, do you really think Cheyenne would let herself get picked up by some guy with slime dripping from his antlers? Or any of the other guys you saw her talking to last night."

"No way," Bobby smiled, "at least not until she started flirting with you!"


San Francisco Docks

"Goddamn it!" the Team leader cursed as he kicked a crate before rounding on two of his men. "You were supposed to have the exits secured! So how in the hell did they get past you?"

"We don't know, sir…" the senior of the men swallowed and shook there heads. "You gave the signal to start the strike… The next thing I knew you were standing in the loading door, yelling into the radio and demanding to know what happened!"

The team leader looked to the person standing behind them; getting a nod he took a deep breath and let it out between clenched teeth. "Alright, let's get this stuff back to the safe house… then we'll need to go through it and get a list of everything that's missing ready for the boss!" After he looked over the people around him, he sighed. "Anyone want to volunteer to tell Dragan that we didn't get all of it back?"

When no one answered he shook his head. "Why didn't I think so?"

"Sir, we have a problem!"

"Now what?" The team leader groaned as rubbed his temple.

"Somebody called the cops…" the man paused for a moment listening to the police band "the first car says they're only a few blocks from our location they'll be here in less then 5 minutes!"

"I thought you said we had a problem." The team leader chuckled and shook his head. "Okay, I'll handle it! Just get everything back on the truck and let me know when they get here…" Moments later the sound of tires screeching and flashing lights alerted them to the police's arrival.

"Finish loading the truck," the team leader lifted the strap to his Spectre M4 SMG over his head and handed the gun to his second in command. "I'll deal with these guys."

Harvey hopped out of the car almost before it had come to a complete stop, drawing his gun and bringing it up to cover the door to the warehouse as a man in a black body suit and tactical harness walked out. "Freeze! Police! Get your hands up!"

"No problem, officer..." The man slowly raised his hands and flipped open an ID. "Austin Travis, NSA; how may I help you?"

Harvey kept Travis covered as he slowly approached. He took and examined the offered ID. After handing it to a junior officer to call it in for authentication Harv looked Travis over with a critical eye and narrowed his eyes as he found himself not liking what he saw. "NSA, huh? What the hell you are guys doing here?"

"I'm afraid that's classified, and I wouldn't do that if I was you!" Travis said turning to look at an officer that had been about to open the warehouse door.

"Why not?" The officer replied hostilely.

"Because," Travis looked at him pityingly and began talk as if addressing a particularly stupid child "what's behind that door is classified. So if you went through that door my men would *have* to *shoot* you!"

"Sir, his ID checks out…" Harvey looked over at the officer then glared at Travis as the officer handed him his ID.

"Thank you!" Travis said sarcastically and smiled as he took back his ID. "Now why don't you all go pester some jaywalkers or something…? I've got work to do and you're getting in the way!"

"Not so fast, buddy."

Travis turned toward the speaker and frowned at him. "What?"

"We got a report of gunfire," the person said in an annoyed tone. "I need to know if there is anyone injured in there so we can get them medical attention."

"I assure you," Travis' smile was devoid of any humor or warmth as he turned and walked back to the warehouse, "no one in there is in need of medical attention!"

Michael Knight grabbed his head and groaned at the pounding at the door. "I'm coming, give it a rest already!" he yelled as he slowly climbed out of bed, wincing at the throbbing pain that went screaming through his skull. < Damn, I think I drank way too much! >

When he opened the door he blinked at the young Asian man with blond hair standing on the porch with the three men that had helped him the previous evening. "Hi, there something I can help you with?"

"I just thought you'd like to know that the chopper back to the city is getting ready to leave, Mr. Knight." The young man smiled and shrugged. "Unless you'd prefer to hang out here today and catch the flight back this evening?"

"Just let me get my coat and shoes," Michael called over his shoulder as he turned and ran back into the house. He returned a moment later, coat over his shoulder and slipping his shoes on as he went. He stopped just outside the door at the sight of a familiar group of bruised and battered people from the night before standing at attention on the sidewalk beside the SUV the blond and friends were climbing into.

Michael stood there a moment, trying to decide if this was some kind of trap. After a moment of indecision he was spurred into action when the blond man honked the horn. He waved him over and tapped his wrist reminding Michael they were on a schedule.

Cautiously Michael walked down the walkway, stopping when one of battered men stepped forward and addressed him. "Mr. Knight, my men and I would like apologize to for our actions last night. It was inexcusable for us to attack a guest; we would like to assure you that this will not happen again and to thank you for not pressing charges."

"You're welcome; wasn't the first time someone's mistaken me for Garth, just the first time in several years that someone tried to feed me my teeth because of it." Michael looked around with a confused expression "Why… How did you know…?"

"That you were here? We asked to tag along when they picked you up." The large man with gray skin smiled showing of an impressive set of canines. "We spent most of the last three hours being… `informed' by our superiors exactly what they thought of our behavior last night. We decided that it would be for best to apologize before we all got on the same chopper."

Michael gave him a funny look before shaking his head and climbing into the shotgun seat. A moment later the large vehicle was on its way, nobody saying a thing as it made its way quietly through the nearly empty streets. After a few moments of watching the scenery pass by Michael shook his head, trying to decide if he should break the silence. He nearly jumped out of his skin at the outraged shriek that came from the back seat.


"I don't see yer name on it."


"Fine, here… Oops… almost got it… missed again…"

"Give it… Give it… Give it… Give it… Give it…"

Michael watched for a few moments as Kahr'l would hold out the pastry only to pull it just out of reach when Tommy made a grab for it. Then seeing the pained expressions of the other passengers he turned to the driver, noting his white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel, the veins sticking out on his forehead and his jaw clenched, Michael took a gamble. "I take it they do this often?"

"Only every DAMN DAY!" the Driver growled. "I try my best to just ignore those morons as long as they don't have any weapons."

"Really," Michael looked back over his shoulder, found them still at it, rolled his eyes and sighed, "how's that working for you?"

"It's not!" the driver snarled right before something hit the back of his seat, sending him into the steering wheel. With a curse the driver slammed on the brakes, put the vehicle into park, and spun to face the tangled mass of limbs on the floor of the back seat. "ONE MORE SOUND OUT OF *EITHER* OF YOU AND I'LL MAKE YOU ALL REGRET THE DAY YOU WERE BORN! Now will you please at least act like professionals if you can't act like adults?! I'm sick and tired of acting like your fucking babysitter!"

"Uh, Makael?" Snowle said hesitantly.

"What?" Makael snapped.

Snowle pointed at his watch. "The chopper?"

Makael cursed as he looked at the clock in the dash, put the SUV into gear and slammed down on the accelerator.

Dragan Security On-duty barracks
8:00 am

Dragan stepped out of Cles' room, carefully closing the door behind him and quietly padding down the hall to the door to the stairway. Dragan was being very careful not to been seen as he didn't wish to try and explain his presence in the female dorms. Making his way to the ground level, he stopped and peeked out the door to the main hall to see if it was clear when a voice came from behind him.

"Well, well if it isn't *the jester* of Camelot himself…"

Dragan spun around whipping out a roundhouse kick towards the speaker's head only to have him casually reach out and catch his leg in his hand. Growling low in his throat, Dragan attempted to free his foot but couldn't break the firm grasp holding it.

"Dragan, is that any way to greet an old friend?" The intruder chuckled as he stepped into the light, revealing a man who appeared to be in his mid-thirties with shaggy black hair, intense blue eyes and a happy-go-lucky smile. "Now, if I let you go will you promise to behave?"

Dragan stared at his foot for a moment before meeting his eyes and smirking. "No way in hell, Michael!"

Using the archangel's grip as leverage Dragan swung his free leg up and slammed his foot into Michael's chin with all the strength he had, which caused Michael to release Dragan's leg and take a few steps back from the surprise of the blow. Dragan instinctively lashed out again as he hit the floor and grimaced both from landing wrong and realizing he had aimed for the least effective place on an angel. So, when Michael stiffened, fell to his knees with his trembling wings half spread and moaned Dragan just rolled his eyes. "Try that on someone else; I know that angels have about as much there as a Ken doll."

"Even if that was true, that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt, you horny toad!" Michael groaned from a curled position on the floor.

"Good, I hope it hurts like hell!" Dragan snarled angrily at the archangel. "What the hell do you want? You've got a lot of nerve showing your face here seeing as you still haven't paid me for the last job I did for you! So if you say you're looking for help I'm going to cut off your wings and throw you out on your ass by the stubs!" Dragan's eyes gleamed as smiled slightly. "Unless you've come to give me what you owe me?"

"I knew this would happen…" Michael muttered as he got to his feet, shook his head and glared at him. "Gren, I was ordered not to give you what you wanted… and to be honest if I had known the reason you wanted that information I wouldn't have agreed to give it to you in the first place!"

"You know, that just might be why I didn't tell you why I wanted it in the first place." Dragan said in voice cold enough to freeze an ocean. "I got the ones that actually did it… they were just `following orders' and none of them knew who gave the orders. But *you* do and I have the goddamned right to see justice!"

"I've read your record;" Michael shook his head "your idea of justice is a little different than most people… and if I gave you their name I would be responsible for what you would do to them. I don't even want to consider what the outcome would be when the law of three kicked in on that one!"

"Well then we have nothing more to talk about…" Dragan's face went blank as a twitch started in his right cheek. "So...get…your…feathered…ass…out…of…my…compound… *NOW!*"

Michael stared at Dragan in disbelief for a moment as the ancient mercenary turned and started to walk away. A moment later the archangel scowled and grabbed the mercenary by the shoulder. "Hey, I wasn't finished…"

Michael was cut off as he felt the bones in Dragan's fist break from the force behind it as the backhanded punch hit his cheek, lifting him off his feet and slamming him into the stairway wall. The archangel blinked dust from his eyes as he pulled himself out of the wall, then carefully looked Dragan over as a smile spread across his face.

"What do you think you are doing? You can't win; I could crush you without even trying…" Michael said as he shook his head and started wiping dust off his shoulders.

"True," Dragan shrugged and nodded as he turned away "you could probably kill me in the blink of an eye… you forgot to take one thing into consideration though…"

"If I give a fuck!" Michael heard Dragan's growl just in time to block the kick, catch the punch that followed and yank on it, sending Dragan face first into the wall.

When the mercenary turned around a moment later he found Michael standing in a relaxed fighting stance, giving him a devilish grin, then winked and whispered one word to his old friend. "Battle…"

Chapter 8

Michael Knight climbed out of the large helicopter, trying to rub the ringing from his ears and started to follow the other passengers heading toward a group of vans when he heard someone call his name. Turning in the direction it had came from he found Snowleo waving him over to a black and silver Shelby GT 500. "Hey, Knight; you're riding with us… so get your butt in gear and come on!"

Michael smiled and whistled appreciatively as he got close enough to look the car over. After a moment he opened the door, looked the interior over and slid into the shotgun seat before nodding at the driver. "Nice car."

"Thanks," Snowleo smirked and turned the ignition "but it's not for sale!"

"The thought never entered my mind." Michael said, giving the white-haired young man an amused glare as he revived the engine.

Snowleo flashed a grin at the man beside him, slipped the car into gear, spun the wheel and floored the accelerator.

Michael cursed as he was pressed into the door when the car spun 180 degrees and took off like a rocket. Michael risked a look at the speedometer as he tried to get the four point harness on and instantly wished he hadn't. "Are we in a hurry or something?"

Snowleo shrugged as he shifted. "Not really; why?"

Michael swallowed as the needle passed twice the posted speed limit and continued to climb. "Just curious…"

"I must say," Devon muttered looking into the clothes bag on the closet door shook his head and smiled, "they still know how to make a guest feel overly pampered…"

<My word,> Devon thought to himself. He carefully slipped the suit out of the bag, held it up and whistled appreciatively. <This is a five thousand dollar suit; it must have cost a bloody fortune to have it tailored this quickly…> Devon spotted a piece of paper sticking out of the breast pocket, pulled it out and shook his head as he read the message on it. ˜ Devon, this should make us even for the suit I borrowed in London. Makael ˜

<A bit over the top, I'd say.> Devon looked at the suit again, shrugged and got dressed. Straightening his tie Devon walked out of the room and found a disgruntled looking Bonnie sitting at the table eating breakfast.

Smelling the food Devon walked over and began looking under the covers of the food warmers sitting on the counter. "Good morning, Bonnie. I trust you slept well?"

"Not really…" Bonnie muttered with a yawn then raised her voice. "Nothing worth complaining about."

"That's good..." Devon nodded slowly. He finished fixing himself a plate of breakfast, sat down across the table from her and began buttering a muffin. After a moment he sighed, put his knife down and looked up at Bonnie with a serious expression. "Bonnie, I feel I should give you some time to prepare yourself. When we see Dragan he will undoubtedly try and feel you out, see what kind of person you are, whether or not you are, shall we say, 'hostile' towards certain members of his community. So it's important that you do not panic or react hostilely to anything short of an attack. However, if anyone tries anything…'inappropriate' feel free to slap the taste out of their mouth."

Bonnie looked at Devon quizzically for a moment before shaking her head. "Okay, *what* are you not telling me about this place? While you're at it, why are you acting as if we're about to be interrogated, and why are you so worried about what this guy thinks of me?"

"Dragan is both one of the most well known independents and one of the best kept secrets of the intelligence communities. He also happens to be a very good friend to anyone that is lucky enough to have him call them that, but he is also a little eccentric. He sees all of the people that work for his security company as either family or *his charges* and he has gone to extreme lengths to protect them." Devon shook his head and took a sip of his tea before he continued speaking. "Now, to answer your questions; this 'place' is a club for people that wish to get to, shall we say, know members of other sentient species. I'm acting as if we are going to be interrogated because I know you will be judged on your behavior during this meeting and depending on that Dragan will decide whether or not you are an enemy, and therefore a danger, to his people…"

Bonnie stared at Devon slack jawed for a moment, swallowed hard and cleared her throat before speaking. "Are you saying that this nutcase might try and… and…"

"Kill you?" Devon asked, he took a bite of his breakfast and swallowed. "It's possible, but highly unlikely; most likely he would arrange for you to be discredited and secrete you to an asylum for the rest of your life so that you wouldn't be in any position to cause harm to any of the people he cares for."

"I thought you said Mr. Knight liked this guy…" Bonnie stopped mid-rant and blinked a few times as something he had said finally registered. "Did you say, 'other sentient species'?"

Devon hid his grin behind his cup of tea as he pretended not to have heard her question.

Michael's fist slammed into Dragan's cheek, lifting him off his feet and spinning him like a top before he crashed through the wall Michael had pulled himself out of only a few moments earlier.

Dragan got to his feet and shook his head trying to clear the ringing from his ears. When he glanced at the hole in the wall he just went through, he felt his eyes widen as he saw a manically grinning Michael charging him at a full run. He side-stepped the Archangel at the last moment, snaked out his foot sweeping Michael's legs out from under him and sending him head first into the grill of a parked Humvee. Reaching the vehicle Dragan grabbed a handful of hair, pulled the slightly stunned archangel's head out of the twisted remains of the grill guard and pulled him to a standing position. He slammed his head into the Hummer's hood hard enough to collapse it, pulled him up and repeated the action, this time embedding the engine block in the pavement.

When Dragan pulled Michael up once again the Archangel drove his elbow into the mercenary's solar plexus, driving the breath from his lungs. Using a shoulder throw he sent him flying into the side of a minivan hard enough to make the vehicle slide into the side of an Explorer, crushing the BMW motorcycle parked between them in the process. Walking over Michael reached down, grabbed the front of Dragan's shirt and pulled him to his feet, then frowned when the ancient mercenary just hung there. "Oh, give me a break… You never go down this easy!"

Dragan suddenly opened his eyes, chopping the archangel in the throat at the same time he stomped the bridge of his foot, causing Michael to release him from the shock of the blows. Dragan followed up his advantage with a spin kick to the abdomen that sent the archangel flying into a Mercedes hard enough to smash in the front end, bounce off and land on the windshield of the '84 Firebird beside it.

When Dragan walked over, reached out to grab Michael, the archangel punched him in the sternum, stunning the ancient mercenary long enough for Michael to grab him by the waist and toss him into the air to land on the hood of a Honda Civic thirty feet away. Michael grinned like a kid at Christmas as rolled to his feet and slowly approached the mercenary, which was slowly getting to his feet with a grin of his own.

Dragan chuckled, shook his head, then grabbed a Kawasaki Ninja and threw it at the archangel, catching him in the chest, totaling the motorcycle and sending him sprawling flat on his back.

Michael swore grabbed the motorcycle's front tire, threw it at Dragan catching him in gut and sending him crashing into the Civic again. He pushed the remains of the Ninja off himself, climbed to his feet and approached the hunched over form of the gasping mercenary. Shaking his head he began to get slightly worried he might have actually hurt him. Reaching his side Michael placed his hand on the back of Dragan's neck as he leaned over to ask if he was alright.

Dragan's fist shot up, catching Michael under the chin, snapping his head back as a blow to his midsection sent him airborne and crashing into a wall. Slowly getting to his feet Dragan wiped at his mouth and stared at the blood on his hand. Suddenly his eyes looked past his hand focusing on a broken necklace lying on the ground at his feet. With a feeling like a rubber band breaking the pain that he had been doing his best to ignore began to change. It was still present, thrumming in the background, but now it felt more like the caress of a familiar lover than the wet blanket it had felt he was wrapped in a moment before. Looking to where Michael was getting to his feet the being that had been Dragan crouched and sprang, his world beginning to take on a red tint.

Michael climbed to his feet, shook his head and looked up just in time to see Dragan's boots coming straight toward his face. The Archangel twisted out of the way of the blow, grabbed Dragan's legs and slammed him into the wall hard enough to leave an impact crater. He spun the stunned mercenary the other way, releasing him at the last moment so that he was sent flying through a set of closed metal double doors. Michael pushed the doors out of the way as he walked into the building looking for his opponent.

The garage looked deserted but the Archangel knew his playmate well enough to know that he wouldn't run, at least not so long as there was the remotest possibility of winning. Stepping farther into the garage Michael heard a rattle as a chain wrapped around his lower legs, pulling his feet out from under him. Upon hitting the floor Michael finally pinpointed Dragan's position. It wasn't difficult as Dragan was currently in mid-pounce, swinging a sledgehammer in a vicious overhead swing aimed at Michael's head.

Michael blinked in surprise at the unexpected move. He reached out and grabbed the sledgehammer's head. Looking up, Michael frowned when his eyes met Dragan's and found they had changed; the pupils were now vertical slits with a dull red glow building behind them. Michael brought his leg up and slammed the heel of his boot into Dragan's forehead, breaking his hold on the hammer and sending him stumbling backwards. Rolling onto his belly the Archangel climbed to his feet. "You should learn to keep better control of that, Gren!"

"Now why would I do that?" Dragan grinned nastily. He cocked his head and giggled like a child with a new toy as he dug his finger into a cut on his cheek. "It feels so good… you should really try it!"

"No thanks. I prefer having my pain receptors stimulate the pain center of my brain instead of the pleasure centers. After all…" Michael narrowed his eyes as he shook his head in disgust, "why would I want to be a sociopathic, good-for-nothing endorphin *junkie*?"

Dragan roared in rage as he launched himself at the Archangel as hard as he could, almost screaming from the pleasure he got when some of the muscles in his legs ripped and then again as they began repairing themselves with the energy Draca was providing.

Michael grunted as Dragan slammed into him hard enough to throw them both into the wall behind him. Michael reached down and grabbed the back of Dragan's neck when the mercenary punched him in the knee. Michael hissed in pain, pulled Dragan to his feet and leaned back to avoid another punch.

Dragan yelped in surprise when Michael grabbed his wrist and pulled on it, forcing Dragan to over-extend his punch and lose his balance. Michael then used that moment of distraction to slip him into a choke hold. Dragan instantly began thrashing around, clawing at the arm that was slowly cutting off his air supply.

Michael held the struggling form, firmly keeping his body positioned so that Dragan had as little leverage as possible to work with. "Gren, snap out of it!" Dragan elbowed him in the gut in response. "You had better drop the technique," he commanded. Dragan stomped on Michael's instep. "I'll knock you out if you don't stop it… I mean it!"

Dragan wrapped his hands around Michael's arm and leaned forward lifting the Archangel off his feet. He surged backwards, driving Michael into a black Trans-Am hard enough to throw it off the lift and roll it onto its roof. "If you won't stop this before it gets out of hand again, I will! Damn it, Grendel, you asked for it." Michael increased the pressure on Dragan's neck, completely cutting off his airway and severely limiting the blood flow to his brain. "It's nap time!"

Dragan's efforts to break free slowed until finally his body went limp. Michael held him a moment longer, checking to make sure the mercenary was really out before lowering him to the floor and checking him for permanent damage.

A few moments later Dragan began to stir; he groaned in pain and grabbed his head. Slowly getting to a sitting position he looked around, his gaze finally coming to rest on the frowning archangel sitting just out of reach. "Are you crazy or just stupid, Gren?"

The security man jumped when the door to the administration offices opened, then blinked when he saw the little girl walk out of it and continue into the club with her arms wrapped around a struggling Chyra. Doing his best to keep from laughing as he realized what the child was singing, he thumbed his throat mike, reported the situation and asked for someone to round up the kid before something happened.

Chyra's glare promised death as it passed over the snickering people standing around the little girl who was still holding her in a one-armed death grip. Chyra's head jerked around trying to find a way out, she could feel a twitch start in her cheek as the little girl carried her farther into the club. The diminutive dragon didn't know if she was relieved or horrified when a few employees appeared out of the crowd blocking the child's progress.

"Hello there," one of them said as they knelt down and smiled friendly at child. "What's your name?"

The child hugged Chyra tighter and stuck her lip out in a pout. "My mommy thaid not to talk to thwangers."

"Well, could you tell me where your mommy is?"

The child frowned, slowly looking around club until a she broke out in a big smile and pointed at a woman in the process of giving one of the Kitsune a royal tongue lashing. "Dare she is!"

The man looked where the child pointed and took in the frustrated expression of the Kitsune and the woman's outraged expression. He shook his head and chuckled as he looked back at the little girl. "Let's go see your Mommy, okay?"


Surrounding the little girl the group slowly made its way over to the arguing pair just as the Kitsune reached the end of his patience.

"Lady, will you just shut up for one damn minute!" The woman fell silent and her face went bright red with an expression of indignant outrage. "Now, like I've been trying to telling you for the last thirty minutes, I have *NO* idea *WHAT* the *HELL* you're talking about! *IF* you want to leave your name, contact info and a *BRIEF* explanation of your problem at the cage, they will have someone that *CAN* help you contact you as soon as possible!"

"Excuse me, madam." the woman jumped in surprise as someone tapped her on the shoulder, then turned and glared at the offender who just shrugged and pointed towards the floor. "Is this your child?"

The woman looked down and her eyes went wide. "Mercy, what are you doing in here?"

The child looked up at her mother with a serious expression. "I hadda go potty."

The woman frowned and looked around the room. "Where's your uncle?"

"In the van," The little girl frowned "Uncle was westiling with da haiwy wady when I woke up… so I wooked for the potty."

The woman expression was pensive. "Wrestling?"

"Wike you and daddy westle in your woom…" Mercy looked up at her with an innocent expression. "The haiwy wady was under him, like you were under daddy and they was making the thame thounds you…"

"MERCEDES!" The now red-faced woman turned to the gathered employees, who suddenly seemed to find the floor or walls very interesting. After clearing her throat she addressed the man that had brought her daughter over. "Could you watch her for just one moment? I'll be right back; I just need to go… get my brother to watch her."

"Take your time," The guard smiled kindly and nodded "I'll take her up to the daycare. Just ask at the desk when you get back."

The woman thanked him, turned and walked stiffly out of the club.

After a moment the Kitsune looked at his coworkers and shuddered. "Glad I'm not that guy!"

"What does she want, anyway?"

"I have no idea," the Kitsune frowned, shaking his head. "All she would say is she wanted to talk to someone in charge… got all kinds of pissed when I told her to go to the cage."

Leona smiled in contentment as she slowly woke up and started to snuggle into the mattress only to gasp as she felt something shift. As her mind played back the events of last night Leona slowly opened her eyes to find herself looking into the face of a horned man with a sheepish expression. They lay there staring at each other in awkward silence for several moments before Leona finally couldn't take it anymore and broke the oppressive silence. "Umm, hello…"

"Hi," Noel smiled at her hesitantly. "How're you feeling?"

"Not too bad, considering…" Leona looked away "Sorry, about last night… I don't usually… behave like that…"

"Not a problem, compared to how I've seen some people react to that drink you were a perfect lady," Noel chuckled. "Besides, I had a nice time so it's nothing to worry about; I got no reason to have hard feelings."

"Thanks," Leona smiled then frowned as she squirmed slightly. "What's happening?"

Noel shrugged. "Succubus' Kiss effects take longer to wear off on females than males…"

"You mean this is being caused by that stuff Mike ordered?" Leona gave him a worried expression as she tried to keep her body still. "How long is this going to last?"

Noel looked thoughtful for a moment before answering. "With the amount you drank, I'd have to say four days to a week for it to completely work itself out of your system." Seeing the look on her face Noel shrugged and smirked. "There is a reason those drinks aren't served to humans; I'd just be glad you took the watered down version… if you drank that much of the stuff at full strength you'd be making Madonna look like a nun for the rest of your life… providing you didn't OD and kill yourself!"

"I'm going to get you for this, Mike…" Leona muttered, her hands beginning to explore as her self-control finally slipped.

Danny smiled at the females sitting on either side of him before digging into his own portion of the breakfast with relish. He had just finished eating when he saw Mike enter the club and look around, then head in his direction.

Danny frowned as he noticed his partner's pale pasty complexion and pained expression. "Hey, you alright, man?"

Mike flinched and nodded slightly as he sat down at the table. "Yeah, other than I got the hangover from hell is all!"

"Hangover?" Danny said in a confused tone. "You sure? I'm pretty sure that I drank more than you and I feel fine!"

Mike just looked at his partner in disbelief until someone set a steaming mug beside him. Looking up he found a young woman with pink skin and horns smiling at him.

"Here, drink this; it will make you feel better in no time."

"What is that supposed to be?" Mike looked down at the cup of greenish liquid suspiciously.

"Herbal tea, it will clear the remaining… intoxicants out of your system," she shook her head and chuckled.

"Huh?" Mike and Danny looked her with blank expressions.

The young woman gave him them a half-smile as she turned to walk away. "Under certain 'circumstances' female Kailif demons have an intoxicating effect on humans."

Mike stared at her retreating form, his mouth hanging open with an expression of disbelief; hearing a choking sound he turned and frowned when he found Danny with his hand clamped tightly over his mouth as his sides shook with laughter.

"That's right; laugh it up, Danny-boy! Well see how long you're laughing when we get back to the station and the captain suspends us for not showing up for our shift." Mike growled, winced, picked up the mug and took a cautious sip. Mike froze, his mug to his face, as he saw the two beaked females sitting at the table with them and noticed they were studying him intently. <Aw, shit!>

The young man stepped out of the shower, toweling the water from his hair as he made his way to his locker. Opening it he threw the towel in the bin and began getting ready for work. He had just slipped into his harness when something slammed into him from behind, driving him into the lockers as both his arms where twisted behind his back. He began to struggle until he felt the end of a gun press into the back of his head and heard the distinctive sound of a hammer being cocked. Slowly turning his head to look behind him he found himself looking at a group of people wearing uniforms identical to his own.

"Give me an excuse, traitor! Please!" the one holding the gun whispered before raising his voice so that the whole room could hear him as one of the others fastened a binder around his wrists. "Dragan would like to speak with you about the events yesterday and the money that was transferred to your Swiss account from the Grand Caiman bank yesterday."

<You know when they made the offer it sounded like a lot of money…>The young man swallowed hard; his face went ghost white as the guards began all but dragging him from the locker room, causing the reality of the situation hit home. <But now it doesn't sound like all that much.>

Hercules slowly opened the bedroom door a crack and peeked out into the main room. Seeing no sign of either the small dog or the larger creature it had turned into he opened the door the rest of the way and started for the door.

"And where do you think you're going?"

Herc jumped and spun towards the voice, then blinked when all he found was a monitor with a smiling face on it. "Who are you?"

"Hey," the person on the monitor frowned, "it's rude to answer a question with a question; anyway I'm supposed to be here and you're not, so you should have to answer me first!"

"I guess that's reasonable. Not that it's any of your business," Hercules smiled and raised an eyebrow in amusement at the childish outburst, "but I was going to get some breakfast, then look for Dragan. Now that I've answered your question, how about telling me who you are?"

"I'm Psymon," he said and smiled again "Programmable SYstem Management Operating Network… My user is a little busy at the moment, is there anything I could assist you with… should I call you Kevin, Kev, Mr. Sorbo, Hercules or Herc?"

"Kevin will be fine." Herc looked at the monitor suspiciously. "So you're a computer program? Just out of curiosity, why would you want to call me by my character's name?

"No, I'm a program; I'm an artificial intelligence system." Pysmon smiled at the look on Kevin's face and shrugged. "As to your name I've been scanning and reading Dragan's journals, with the help of the records department plus the computer networks of several museums and nonprofit organizations."

"Huh?" Herc looked at the computer monitor blankly.

"Well it's not like I can scan the material into the computer myself," Psymon chuckled and brought up a few pages of the text, "and do you really think his most high Draggieness would take the time to teach me how to read ancient Sumerian, much less Atlantian?"

"Oookay," Herc closed his eyes and shook his head at how strange he was finding this conversation. "You do realize that Dragan will *not* be happy with you when he finds out you have been reading his diary?"

"When is he ever…?" Psymon said with a shrug then brightened. "Hey, could you help explain something to me?"

Herc blinked in shock at the sudden subject change. "Sure, I can try…"

"Thanks," Psymon said and bought another window up on the screen. "What are they doing and why?"

Herc's eyes bulged as a section of the previous evening's security footage from the garage began playing out on the screen; he watched in shock for a few second then quickly looked away from the monitor. "Whoa, hold it right there, I've seen enough!"

"What's wrong?" Psymon asked in a confused tone.

"Psymon, I think it's best if you ask Dragan about that…" Herc looked back at the monitor, red faced and fighting down a chuckle. "But I wouldn't show him that recording if I was you."

"Why not?" Psymon frowned in confusion.

"Because," Herc sighed and shook his head, "he would more then likely erase you slowly for recording that!"

Cles jerked awake as a loud alarm filled the building; getting up she grabbed a robe and slipped it on as she left her room heading for the security station. After a quick glance at the monitors showed no sign of an attack or the build being on fire Cles clicked her beak in annoyance and glared at the nervous guards. "What is the big idea? I was trying to sleep before you set off the alarm."

"Sorry Ma'am," the guard swallowed nervously as she flexed her clawed hands "the security system detected a breach in the ground floor stairwell, that's all I know so far. We have people on the way to investigate, but from initial reports it looks like the boss was involved."

"What do you mean by 'involved'?" Cles clicked her beak in annoyance when the guard just shrugged with a 'how would I know' expression. Cles left the guard station at a run and threw open the stairwell door, taking the steps two at a time. She slowed to a near stop as she rounded the last corner and found herself looking out a good sized hole in the wall. When she reached the landing she walked up to the hole, stuck her head out cautiously scanning the area and froze, staring at the wreckage in the parking lot in shock. <My vehicles… How did… I just finished fixing them and now they look like they were in a demolition derby!>

Cles slowly walked out through the hole in the wall. A tick started to form in her eye as she slow looked over the damage in a daze. Her eyes widen in horror as they finally came to rest on the twisted remains of the doors to her garage. Running over she stopped at the door, scanning the interior of the building and screamed as she saw the damage done to it. She slowly looked over the devastated room until her eyes came to rest on the two people in the room.

"Huh?" Dragan shook his head and groan as the room seemed to lurch.

"I swear if you weren't going through withdrawal I'd smack you silly." Michael threw his arms up in exasperation. "The last time you used that little trick of yours you spent several millennia as the poster boy for homicidal psychotic monsters and it took you more than a year to get your system straightened out … so what in the hell possessed you to use it over a friendly little tussle?!"

"Oh give me a fuckin' break, Michael!" Dragan moaned at the archangel as he leaned back against the over-turned Trans-am. "It's not like I did it on purpose, you know it just happens whenever I get really close to losing it. Now, if you didn't see it coming after telling me this and what happened yesterday on top of all the shit I was already dealing with, you're either blind or stupid!"

Michael scowled at him. "Watch your mouth, you over grown lizard!"

"Fuck you, Michael…as far as I'm concerned right now you, your master and the whole of creation can go straight to hell!" Dragan muttered flatly, rubbed the side of his head and then slowly got to his feet. "I'm still going to find them, no matter what it takes or how much it costs…" Dragan began brushing himself off then stopped and sneered at the archangel, "You claim to be the 'good guys' but shouldn't the good guys keep their end of a contract? Refusing to pay someone for services rendered seems more like something the other side would do."

"You selfish son of a bitch…" Michael growled as he stepped forward and grabbed the front of Dragan jacket, "don't you get it? Whether they deserve what you'd do to them or not, we can't be responsible for what happened! The consequences of that could be catastrophic!"

"Consequences?!" Dragan chuckled dryly. "You guys sure as hell didn't give a flying fuck about the consequences when you sent that nadve S.O.B Christ down here to tell a bunch of blood-thirsty, sadistic, genocidal apes that they were God's favorite creation. You signed the death warrant of every non-human on the planet in the process whether they were a threat or not." Dragan shook his head then snapped his hands up, breaking Michael's hold on his jacket. "*I* knew what was going to happen the moment I heard what he was telling them, so She *had* to know what would happen when She sent him! So tell me, *friend*, if she wanted us dead that badly why didn't she just kill us herself? At least it could have been quick and relatively painless!"

"You know as well as I do that we didn't have anything to do with that. They have free will, remember? They could have chosen to better themselves and live up to their potential. It's not our fault a bunch of idiotic assholes took over the church during the black plague!" Michael sighed and shook his head at the expression on Dragan's face. "I'd forgotten what an asshole you are when you're coming down. Thanks for reminding me!"

"Well, forgive me if I don't feel civil to somebody that's stiffing me for a job," Dragan growled as he sat down on the lift, wiping sweat from his brow and waiting as his head slowly began to stop spinning before looking up at the archangel with a look barely contained rage. "You do realize that once I'm over this, I will be taking those steps mentioned in the contract… very soon you're not going to like me very much!"

"Ah, ah, ah!" Michael grinned. "The contract states those conditions apply only if payment is flatly denied. If you hadn't gone nuclear on me I would have pointed out that we are going to pay you something of equal value…"

"Something of equal value?!" Dragan burst out into humorless laughter, stood up and began to advance on the Archangel. "I've hunted this fuck for over ten years, spent billions of dollars and burned more bridges then I can even remember just trying to get a name, a location, anything to lead me to them!" Dragan stopped, his eyes boring into Michael's. "Do you honestly think you can find anything in this universe that I would find as valuable as getting my hands on the guy that ordered a bunch of lab rats to *vivisect* one of my kids!"

"Yes, if given enough time..." Michael looked Dragan over, frowned and shrugged. "I gotta ask; you've lost a lot of kids over the years, many of them in worse ways than that, and you've never obsessed over their deaths like this; so what make this one so different?"

"She was the only one that wasn't a combatant which I've lost to unnatural death…" Dragan closed his eyes, took a deep breath and slowly let it out. "I've fathered hundreds of children in my lifetime, and almost since the first one I've known that almost all of them would eventually grow old and die while I'll keep on living. So until I 'adopted' Makael I did my best to stay away from them, didn't see any reason to get involved with them, if they were just going to die on me…"

"I guess…" Dragan opened his eyes and looked at the floor "maybe, I was also a little afraid that if I had anything to do with them they might turn out like *she* did."

Michael rolled his eyes and chuckled. "You might not qualify for father of the year but I highly doubt that your just being in their lives would turn them into borderline-sociopath killing machines… at least not now-a-days."

Dragan glared at the archangel, opened his mouth to deliver a scathing reply, when a horrified scream caused him to slowly turn towards the remains of the doorway, then flinched as his heart sank and his blood ran cold when he saw the person standing there.

Michael looked over at the Fa'lur standing in the doorway then turned to look Dragan.

Dragan looked over at Michael, swallowed hard and smiled thinly. "Run for it!" he yelled as he made a break for the emergency exit.

The gray haired man walked down the street, not seeming to be in any hurry or intent on any wrong doing much to the annoyance of the man shadowing him. "Are you sure this is the guy we're supposed to keep an eye on?"

"According to the info from the fat man, partner…" a voice answered back over his earpiece.

"I don't know," The older man entered a building making his shadow speed up to get through the doors before they closed. "This guy seems more the grandfather type than the wanted for questioning by the intelligence community type…"

"Hey, don't let appearances fool you, partner. Senior citizens came be just as crafty and treacherous as any terrorist." Was the annoyed reply from his partner.

The old man's shadow frowned as he watched his target go through a door at the end of the hall. "Are you sure you took your meds today?"

"Hah, hah, just stay focused on the task at hand, partner."

Pushing open the door the man he was following had gone through, he was suddenly soaked from contents of the bucket of water the old man threw at the doorway. Wiping the ice crystals from his eyeslids, he looked up and swallowed hard at the sight of the old man pointing a crossbow at his now semi-visible form.

"I have no idea what you are or why you have been following me," the old man frowned, his eyes going hard, "but I must insist that you cease immediately; after you explain *why* you're following me of course."

"Aww, Crap!"

Chapter 9

Michael watched the door Dragan had just exited through swing closed with a confused expression before turning towards the now advancing Fa'lur.

The Fa'lur approached until her face was only inches from the Archangel's, her ears flat against her head and eyes narrowed. For several moments they stood there staring at each other before she raised her hand and poked him firmly in the chest. "What in the HELL did YOU do to MY GARAGE! Do you know how hard it was getting it outfitted correctly? I mean I'm a good person, I don't go around eating people or anything unpleasant like that; so why are one of *you* and my mate trashing the place?"

Michael took a half step back, covering where she had poked him and gave Cles an incredulous look as she continued her verbal assault. Several times the Archangel tried to interrupt her only to find he couldn't get a word in edgewise as she would just run over the top of him without seeming to notice that he was trying to speak.

Finally giving up on getting into the conversation for the time being, the Archangel stuck his hands in his pockets, turned and started toward the door Dragan had made his escape through. He had only taken a couple of steps when she grabbed his arm and pulled, spinning him around so that he was facing her again.

"Where in the hell do you think you're going?!" The female nearly growled as she waved a trembling finger in the confused Archangel's face. "If you think you can trash my garage and just leave like nothing happened you've got another think coming!" Putting her hands on her hips, she glared angrily at Michael. "You're not going anywhere until you tell me what you're gonna do about my garage!"

Michael quirked his head, smirked and shrugged. "Watch me." That said the archangel vanished.

Cles stared at the place the Archangel had been for several moments before it finally hit her that he was really gone. Cles' enraged shriek brought several security personal running to her aid, only to be sent packing by the angry glare the female leveled at them.

Reno and Bobby sat down at the first empty table they came across, waved over a waitress and ordered breakfast. Looking over the room Bobby frowned at the fact that the club appeared to be nearly as full as it had been the night before. "Okay, I officially give up! How could a club be as popular as this one seems to be and I haven't heard of it before this?"

Reno looked up and smiled sympathetically at his flustered friend. "Well, it is a bit out of our usual stomping grounds."

"You have a point there," Bobby chuckled sourly. "We usually don't work the twilight zone!"

"Har, har, har, like we haven't heard that one before!" Tease's pained voice drifted from behind them.

"Hey, good morning, Teas." Reno started to say before trailing off, his eyes bugging and his jaw hanging loose as he turned and caught sight of the succubus standing behind them. She was wearing a pair of black leather hip-hugger shorts, which appeared to have been painted on and only covered the first few inches of her thighs and a cropped skin tight black string tank top which ended a few inches below her breasts, leaving all of the light pink skin of her toned abdomen and her lower ribs open to inspection.

Bobby noticed his partner's reaction and turned to see what was having such an effect on his partner as he took a sip of his water. Bobby felt his eyes bulge as he saw the young woman then jumped to his feet with a yelp as the glass of ice water slipped from his suddenly numb fingers and emptied its contents in his lap.

Tease covered her mouth to smother her laughter as Bobby cursed and instinctively tried to wipe the cold water off his pants. Glancing between him and the still speechless Reno she mentally cheered. <Well, judging from their reactions I'd guess I picked the right outfit.> Tease slowly walked the few steps to the table conscious of the fact that Reno's, and most of the other males in the room, eyes followed her every movement with rapt attention; she reached out and closed his mouth with her index finger then sat down on his lap and leaned against his chest. <If this doesn't keep his attention piqued then nothing will!>

Reno felt his mouth go dry and swallowed hard as Tease made herself comfortable on his lap, then wrapped her tail around his waist. Reno looked down and found himself staring at the smooth skin of the pair of long legs resting across his lap.

"Damn it, I look like I pissed my pants or something!" Reno looked up at Bobby with a shocked expression as the Native American began walking in the general direction of his room without even looking in Reno direction. "I'll be right back, partner. I've just got to change into some dry clothes."

Reno watched him go with a concerned look on his face, then glanced at Tease and found her smirking at him. "So, how are you?"

"I'm fine, just figured I'd get some breakfast." Tease said as she waved a waitress over.

"About that." Reno coughed and turned red at the look the waitress gave him as she took Tease's order, waiting for her to leave before continuing. "I'd like to ask you something."

"Okay." Tease gave him a small smile and winked, "what do you want to know?"

"You said that you're a succubus," Reno blushed, and then swallowed when Tease nodded favoring him with a small frown. "Then last night must have been an everyday thing for you. so how come you chose me to 'eat' with last night?"

"For your information you're only the third person I've, as you put it, 'eaten' with!" Tease scowled at him, her body tensing as she continued in a near growl. "I. AM. A. SUCCUBUS. NOT. A. SLUT! Why does everyone assume that just because you're a succubus that you must be some kind of demonic nymphomaniac bimbo?! "

"Whoa, slow it down a sec," Reno held up his hands in a gesture of surrender with a confused expression on his face "I was not, and would not, call you a slut! All I know about succubi is what I remember from a mythology class in college and according to that succubi live off of sex; so I assumed you would need to 'eat' at least once a day."

"Didn't anyone ever tell you should never assume anything?! Succubi feed off of the energy, emotions, and pleasure males give off when aroused and/or during sex, the act of sex has nothing to do with our feeding directly." Tease glared at him for several seconds before looking away, still visibly upset but no longer looking like she was about to either storm off or pick up a chair and beat him with it. "Succubi do not need physical contact to be able to feed; there is enough sexual energy floating around this place that I get more than enough to survive just working my shift in the club. However it's not as intense or as powerful as what I got from our encounter yesterday; so it doesn't last as long or fill me up as much, it's sort of like the difference between fast food and a home cooked meal. both will fill you up but the fast food won't keep you going as long and isn't as nutritious as the home cooked meal."

Reno blinked, shook his head with a puzzled expression and chuckled lightly. "You know, I don't know if I should be flattered that you think I'm 'good for you', upset you thought I would call you a slut, worried that you're comparing me to food, or curious as to what yesterday was about if you weren't hungry."

"If I was you, I'd go with flattered." Tease smirked at him, rolled her eyes and sighed. "Last night *was* about feeding, at least in part."

"And the rest.?" Reno prompted as she trailed off.

"Well," Tease cleared her throat, blushed slightly and shrugged. "I was lonely and it was obvious that you were a good guy that was in need of. um, ah, some 'company' yourself."

"You know you really shouldn't decide if a person is good by how they look," Reno said and frowned slightly. "I could have been a serial killer for all you knew. A lot of very bad people look like good people too."

"Yeah right, with an aura like yours I knew there was little chance of you being anything like a serial killer." Tease started giggling. "The most I was worried about, after I was sure you weren't going to go postal when you found out we weren't wearing costumes, was you having problems with the fact that we are different species."

"Well to be honest the fact we weren't the same species didn't even registered until afterwards." Reno chuckled. "And I admit I have been a bit worried if that would be considered bestiality, because if it is then I'm a whole lot kinkier than I thought!"

Tease shook her head as she gave him a mischievous look. "Hon, I may have been called 'bitch' from time to time, but I don't have fur, or lick myself in public and I have yet to chase cars so I think you're safe on that one."

"*In public.*?" Reno blinked his face reddening, as he unknowingly muttered the first thought that ran through his mind.

"If you're lucky, you *might* just get me to give you an answer to that question someday." Tease grinned mischievously as she leaned in and whispered in his ear, and then giggled at the way he his face flushed when he realized he had said it out loud.

"You're enjoying yourselves, I see." Cheyenne said in an amused tone as she slid into one of the vacant chairs at table.

"You could always join me, there's plenty of room." Tease tossed back as she smiled and winked secretly at the blonde, who began chuckling as Reno's eyes went wide and mouth fell open in shock.

<She really lives up to her name.> Cheyenne chuckled at the panicked look on Reno's face, and then frowned slightly as she caught sight of a couple of men sitting nearby eyeing their table. One was a large black man, while the other was a Hispanic of average build. She was almost ready to write it off as them checking out either Tease, Reno or possibly both of them as possible 'partners' when they stood up and started in their direction. As they got to their feet, she caught site of the badge clipped to the Hispanic man's belt and felt her blood go cold.

Mike set the now empty cup of tea down and sighed in relief as his headache and nausea quickly faded away. Now that his stomach wasn't tying itself in knots at the smell of food, the detective gave a thought towards breakfast; he realized he wasn't sure exactly how much money he had left on him. He reached for his wallet, frowned and began searching in his other pockets when he didn't find it.

"Looking for this?"

Harrigan jumped in surprise when his wallet landed on the table beside the empty cup, then slowly turned towards the semi familiar voice and paled slightly as found the 'person' he had woken up with standing beside him. The black jumpsuit and tactical harness she was wearing gave her dark red leathery skin with twin rows of horns along each side of her jaw and scalp an even more sinister appearance then normal as she smirking down at him. Swallowing hard he picked up the wallet and nodded. "Yeah, thanks... Umm, sorry about. You know."

"You're welcome, and you have nothing to be sorry for, I really wasn't expecting you to be there all cuddles and poetry or anything like that when I woke up. It's called a one night stand for a reason! "She smirked and shook her head with a chuckle. "But if you ever feel the need to, how did you put it... 'Work off a little of stress', look me up. I wouldn't mind spending another night like that." Her smirk turned into a predatory grin as she reached out and casually slid his handcuffs into his shirt pocket. "I wouldn't mind that at all."

That said the Kailif demon turned away from the now very pale black man and favored the females at the table with an amused smirk. "Hey, doesn't your shift starts in about fifteen minutes?"

The Fa'lurs looked at the clock on the wall, sighed, and nodded to the others at the table as they got up. "Sorry, but she's right; annoying but right." The Fa'lurs whistled in amusement at the dirty look the Kailif shot them, before turning to Danny. "We have to go, or we'll be late for work; hope we get to see you again, sometime."

"Who knows, maybe you will. anything's possible," Danny smiled and shrugged at them. "And I get around a lot on this job."

Mike blinked in confusion; his color returned to normal as he recovered from the shock of the red-skinned woman's statement. For a moment he would have sworn that he could *feel* the beaked females smiling as they walked away, but quickly shrugged it off as a by-product of the shocks he had been through combined with the after-effects of his hangover. Feeling eyes on him, Harrigan turned to find his partner giving him a strange look.

"Handcuffs." Danny just continued staring at him for several more seconds before raising both eyebrows and smirking. "You devil, I never took you as the type. Mind if I ask if they were for you or her. that was a 'her' right?"

"Oh, shut up!" Mike growled at him, his eyes narrowing. "Or I might have to ask you about your sudden interest in 'fur coats'."

"Hey, don't knock it 'til you tried it!" Danny grinned playfully. "Those two can do things with those beaks of theirs you wouldn't believe! I mean they had me melting like butter in less then five minutes, there was one thing where they."

"Whoa, hold it right there." Mike yelped cutting him off as he held his hand up in gesture of surrender "Not interested in a play by play, thank you very much. What I remember of what I did last night is disturbing enough, without you adding to it. Hell, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what was in that drink that caused me to wake up with. whatever the hell she was!"

"I'd bet it was the 'Essence of Succubus'. And if you're thinking of charging them with slipping us a Mickey, I think you should know that I doubt we could get anything to stick." Danny shook his head and chuckled. "They did warn us several times against ordering that stuff and even made us sign a waiver before giving it to us. None of us got hurt, so I don't think there's anything we could do to them legally."

Mike suddenly sat up straight, looked around the room quickly, and then turned to his partner with a worried expression. "Have you seen Leona?"

"Not yet why." Danny blinked in confusion then his eyes went wide as his mind caught on to his partner's line of reasoning. "Oh, shit! You don't think.?"

"We all drank that stuff and neither of us woke up alone," Mike scanned the room for any sign of his missing companion, "so I'm guessing that she's probably gonna wake up to find herself in the same situation we did."

"Hey Mike," Danny waited until he was sure he had his partner's attention then gestured at a group of people sitting at a nearby table, "aren't those the guys who were sitting with the guy that said he was the owner last night?"

Mike looked in the direction that Danny indicated, studied the people sitting there closely, much to the annoyance of one of the women sitting there, and compared them to what he could remember of the people he had seen at the owner's table last night. "They could be. why?"

"Well, they might be able to find out were Leona is." Danny stood up and gave his partner a pat on the shoulder "or at least give us any idea of where to start looking. Anyway it's a place to start."

"Okay," Mike nodded as he stood up, "and while we're at it I've got a few questions about *exactly* what they put in our drinks last night!!"

Devon looked around the office that a guard had been escorted him and Bonnie to, taking in the throne-like office chair, the large oak Victorian desk with the wall behind covered in a large mural of a medieval battle and snorted. < Trust Dragan to make his 'guest' office look like it belongs to a villain out one of those god awful low budget action movies they're always showing at all hours of the morning! >

"So," Bonnie said, looking at the weapons displayed around the room as she sat on an over stuffed leather couch against one of the walls, "any idea where the prince of darkness is?"

"He was in England last I heard." Makael said as he walked into the office, closely followed by Michael Knight "however, I fail to see what he has to do with anything."

"Good morning, Makael." Devon smiled as he shook the hand the young man extending to him. "How are you this morning?"

"Been better, been worse," Makael glanced at Bonnie's scowl, smirked and shrugged, "overall nothing beyond the usual to complain about."

"I see," Devon looked between the two and shook his head at the tension that was building between them. "Perhaps it would be best to 'clear the air', so to speak, between the two of you before your father arrives."

"It's nothing, Devon. We *were* friends," Makael shrugged at the glare Bonnie leveled at him. "We met while she was at Stanford; I was taking one of my 'sabbaticals' from work and was volunteering at the local Y teaching a self-defense class to keep busy. Turns out they had an agreement with the school I didn't know about and when the school year started my class more then doubled in size and I swear I've never seen so many klutzy geeks in one place in my life!"

"I was not a *klutz*!" Bonnie all but growled.

"Never said *you* were." Makael rolled his eyes "as I was saying, before I was interrupted, the students from the school where mostly kids that had never been away from home before and saw a self-defense course as a good way to feel more secure. Well a few weeks later I noticed one of the students had forgotten their bag, so I checked for an ID and decided to drop it off as their apartment is on my way. When I got there her roommate let me in, thinking I was one of the people that her roomy invited, turned out they were having some kind of *nerd* party.."

"It's called a study group!" Bonnie snapped.

"Whatever!" Makael rolled his eyes at her outburst and shrugged. "Anyway by the time the owner of the bag showed up and informed them who I was, I had been 'debating' the validity of Einstein's theories with a particularly hard headed young woman for nearly an hour. that was how Bonnie and I first met."

"Debating?!" Bonnie snorted in disgust. "You claimed that Einstein's theories weren't worth the paper they were written on and that anyone that holds them as absolutes was in need of a shrink."

"So what? I'm allowed my opinion!" Makael smiled slightly and shook his head. "Anyway, we were just friends; we hung out every now and then, mostly when neither of us had anything else to do, we usually spent our time trying to convince each other that we were right; I never could get her to look beyond her precious science."

"With enough research you'll find there is a logical *scientific*explanation to everything!" Bonnie stated in a tone of voice that indicated she had made this statement many times in the past.

"About four months later, we were walking back from a lecture Bonnie had 'talked' me into attending when I was challenged." Makael took a deep breath and sighed at the look on Devon's face. "I tried to get him to back off, told him I would be glad to meet him later, pointed out that we didn't have any reason to fight, I even pointed out that we had an audience and the guy actually thanked me for 'providing him with post fight entertainment'!"

"Makael, one moment please." Devon turned towards Michael Knight with a worried look on his face. "Michael, not to be rude but this part of the conversation doesn't really involve you so could you please wait outside for a moment. perhaps you could go get something to eat downstairs?"

"You've got to be kidding me; you are kidding me right, Devon!" Michael looked at the older man with an incredulous expression. "After what happened when I went out for a beer last night, I'm not going anywhere in this place alone!"

"Really, Michael, I doubt it was all that bad." Devon looked at Makael questioningly.

"He was warned that it would be best if he stayed in the guest house, but still decided to go out sight- seeing." Makael gestured at Michael as he smiled and shrugged. "He ran into Quinn's team on R&R."

"Oh dear," Devon looked like he couldn't decide if he wanted to smile or scowl. "May I take it from Michael's reaction that they are still holding a grudge?"

"Oh yeah, and they were drunk enough to mistake him for Garth, luckily they also seem to have been too drunk to do any permanent damage before a couple members of the Hunt stepped in to help him." Makael chuckled and shook his head as he turned towards Michael. "If you want to go get something to eat, you don't have anything to worry about. You're perfectly safe here, if anyone and I mean *anyone* tried to so much as lay a hand on you without your consent, let alone in a violent manner, security would cut it off at the neck!"

"That makes me feel so much better," Michael said sarcastically as he sat down in an overstuffed chair "But I think I will still wait until someone else is with me; besides this is conversation sounded like it is going to get interesting. But first, what is this 'Hunt' you where talking about? And what does it have to do with those kids that helped me out last night?"

"Mr. Knight, the Hunt is short for the Wild Hunt," Makael shrugged. "Dragon Arms Security Inc. is divided into three interconnected but individual companies: Dragan Security, which is our most public face, is just your average international security company--it handles our normal security cases such as stars, public figures, rich families, etc; Dragon Arms Security for the most part just handles our clients that have *special* security needs such as rebel extraction or training, advanced military training, anti-terrorist operations, etc; then we get to the Wild Hunt, an 'unofficial company' that isn't public at all, Hell the fact is most people in the company don't even know about it. Other then occasionally providing Special Ops back up to Dragon Arms' security teams; it's basically just a booking agency for my dad, or more often, his teams."

"So in other words, what you're saying is that 'the Hunt' is just a bunch of mercs with a comic book name." Michael smirked and chuckled. "Sounds like they have an ego problem to me."

Devon closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose with a pained expression.

"I don't think so. I happen to be the head of one of the teams and my ego seems just fine." Makael smiled slightly, as his eyes drilled into Michael's. "As to us *just* being a 'bunch of mercs', The Hunt isn't *JUST* anything! Mr. Knight, imagine twenty-five loosely defined teams of fourteen people that spend ninety percent of their time pushing each other to be better than they are right now. I've seen *Seals*drop out of training for The Hunt because they either couldn't keep up or couldn't make the cut and once you're on the teams it doesn't get any easier. We are expected to train 365 days a year, so that we are always in the same or better condition as when we were admitted to the team because we could be called to duty at any place and any time."

"As for us being 'mercs'," Makael said the name as if it left a bad taste in his mouth, "the Hunt is a throw- back to the days when being a 'professional mercenary' was still considered a respectable job and good mercenary companies were regularly sought out and hired by countries at war; when you hire us we are just as loyal as any other soldier until our contract is either concluded or breached by the contractor. Because of that our prices are fairly steep, but you get what you pay for: we have never turned on or broken a contract with a contractor. And for your information the Wild Hunt has been around and called that for more than fourteen centuries. so please, don't dis the name!"

Michael blinked at Makael in confusion for a moment then his expression slowly started to look suspicious "Okay, your speech on 'the joy of mercenaries' aside, I have to ask. How do you get away with this now? I mean this sounds like something the government would shutdown?"

"Why would they do that? It's not illegal to be a mercenary, Mr. Knight." Makael laughed and shook his head. "As long as we don't do anything that counts as treason such as fight against, or work for the enemies of, the United States we're not breaking any laws. we pay our taxes; Dragon Arms has all of the permits and follows all of the necessary regulations and laws for the storage of our equipment. Hell, we even give them a discount when. if they ever need to use one of our teams."

"He's quite right, Michael." Devon looked at Michael's expression, sighed and shook his head. "Contrary to their depiction in recent pop culture most 'professional' mercenaries are fairly respectable and do not, as they say, sell out their employers at the drop of a hat. They cannot afford to; ones that do soon find themselves either dead, or unable to find 'profitable' work as the best paying 'people' looking for their kind of services are not going to want to hire someone with a reputation for turning on their employers. Now if you are quite sure I can not talk you into leaving." Devon rolled his eyes and sighed when Michael shook his head at his pleading look "then could we please get back to the original subject of this conversation?"

Devon looked at Makael, who just shrugged at him then rolled his eyes and sighed before given the older looking man a nod to continue.

"Okay, now that that is out of the way, anyone remember where I was?" Makael said with a large grin.

"Oh, you were getting to the good part," Bonnie said sarcastically as she glanced at Devon and Michael. "Then they both pulled swords out of their coats and fought with them all over the park before Makael *stabbed* the other guy in the chest and then decapitated him!"

"You cut the guy's head off?!" Michael Knight said his expression closed and guarded.

"Yes, though she left out several important details," Makael saw the shocked look on Michael's face out of the corner of his eye shook his head and chuckled, "like the fact that the guy wanting to cut my head off started the fight in the first place." Makael turned and frowned at Bonnie. "I did explain all of this, including the rules that I'm required to live by, back then."

"I see," Devon frowned at the hostile looks they were giving each other. "Am I to infer from her reactions now, that she did not take your revelations well?"

"Devon," Bonnie's voice and face reflecting her outrage, "he *cut*somebody's head off!"

"Now, whatever could have given you that idea, Devon?" Makael gave him the 'dumb question' look all teenagers seem to know instinctively, before turning and glaring at Bonnie. "Bonnie, why don't you look up the definition of self defense, the guy would have quite happily done the same thing to me if he had the chance. Anyway we both know that the real reason you're upset is what happened after the fight, so get over it!"

"Okay, what am I missing here?" Michael looked between Makael and Bonnie with a confused expression. "Bonnie, you know, if the other guy was trying to kill him it was self defense. So what's really going on?"

Makael gave Devon a questioning look and jerked his head at Michael, when he received a hesitant nod to his unasked question Makael turned to Michael and smiled. "Mr. Knight, the answer to that is one of the most guarded secrets on the planet. I know of people that would filet you like a fish just because you know the answer to it. Are you *sure*you want to know?"

Michael frowned at the byplay between the kid and Devon, and then smirked at the kid's obviously exaggerated statement. "Sure, why not?"

"Fine, you do understand that you can never tell anyone about what I'm about to tell you, right?" When Michael finally nodded Makael walked over to one of the displays, opened the lid and took a dagger from within it before walking back to the desk. Makael took off his jacket, setting it out of the way on a leather office chair, sat down on the corner of the desk, pushed up the left sleeve of his shirt, held out his left hand and pushed the dagger completely through it with his right, much to the shock of Michael Knight.

"Shit!" Michael cursed as he started towards the obviously disturbed kid, intent on keeping him from hurting himself further.

Makael grimaced as he twisted the blade sticking through his hand before pulling it out, the breath he had been holding coming out as a hiss of pain and held up his hand so everyone in the room could see the gaping wound in his hand.

Michael Knight slowed to a stop, his eyes going wide from the shock of what he was seeing, what appeared to be small arcs of electricity crossed the wound, with each arc that passed the wound closed a little more until less than a minute later the only sign that he had been wounded was a little blood.

"I'm part of a race of people that are called Immortals." Makael said bluntly, smirking at the shocked man. "I may look like I'm in my late teens but I'm actually around 1100 years old. The problem Bonnie is having with me is that she saw what happens when one of my kind cuts off another's head. When an Immortal takes a head they get that Immortal's knowledge and power; it's called 'the Quickening', for all intents and purposes it's our soul."

"No, that's not my problem." Bonnie growled. "My problem is that I can't believe that a bunch of people that could possibly live forever run around *killing* each other for some 'Prize', especially when they don't even know what it is. I could almost believe everything up until you tried to pull that one on me but."

"What are you talking about?" Michael frowned in confusion as he looked between Makael and Bonnie.

"She's talking about 'The Game', Mr. Knight." Makael stated, as if that explained it all. Which it did, at least it did to him anyway.

"Oh okay, that explains it; 'The Game'." Michael said sarcastically. "Might help if I knew what you're talking about!"

"Oops, sorry about that, Mr. Knight; it's been a long time since I was around someone that didn't know about my kind, much less had to tell anyone about this." Makael actually looked sheepish as he turned to face Michael. "Anyway, 'The Game', as we call it, is basically a contest or challenge that an Immortal's life is centered around, it's one on one duel to the death. The winner is the one that takes his opponent's head and with it his quickening."

Michael began to look to slightly sick as his face almost seemed to turn green. "So you're telling me that you guys just run around murdering each other?"

"Not exactly, like any game there are rules. I won't bother with the full list as there are only two that no one will break; the first is that we can not fight on holy ground; the other is that in the end there can be only one. As to why we do it?" Makael shrugged and smiled at the older appearing man. "That's easy, because each and every one of us wants to be the one to win 'the Prize', Mr. Knight. If they say they don't then they are either liars or fools. It's our focus, our purpose. and no Mr. Knight I'm not trying to be vague just trying to make you understand, *everything* the Game *is* not just what it is."

Michael was silent for several moments, his face clearly showing the battle he was fighting with his emotions before speaking again. "*What* in the hell is this 'prize'?"

"They don't know." Bonnie answered before Makael could say anything.

"Actually, Bonnie, there's many different theories," Makael glared at her, clearly irritated by the interruption, "but other than they will have the knowledge and power of almost every Immortal that ever lived, we don't know anything for certain. Some say the person that gets the prize will have the power to rule the world forever, others say they will gain the ability to have children, or that they will become truly Immortal."

"So you're telling me that you guys could possibly live forever," Michael's face scrunched up as if he was pain, "but instead you run around killing each other in the hopes of winning something that for all you know is a Kewpie doll?"

"Mr. Knight if after I win the last challenge some guy runs up, congratulates me on my victory and presents me with a Kewpie doll as the prize;" Makael smiled and shook his head, "I'll cut *his* head off on general principal!"

"Michael, Makael, like most of his kind, doesn't go looking for others to challenge, they would be completely happy to sit back and quietly live out their lives as they wait for the Gathering." Devon told the distraught man as gently as he could. "But the unfortunate fact of the matter is, that there is a small portion of their population that hunts the rest, they are called Headhunters, they don't take no for an answer and they do not stop if left alive they keep coming back until either you or they are dead."

"Devon, you knew about this?" Michael asked in shock.

"Yes, Michael, I did." Devon smiled slightly at Makael. "I have known Makael, and his father, since World War Two. and for most of that time I have known Makael's secret. Although I admit to still feeling a twinge of guilt when I think of how I came to learn it."

"Don't mention it, *PLEASE*." Makael chuckled and sighed at the look on Michael and Bonnie's faces. "Fine, we were in a bar in France, he unknowingly hit on the owner's wife, her husband threw a knife at him and he dodged, forgetting I was standing behind him."

"Yes, unluckily for him a constable was present and took him into custody. After I had identified the body and all the paper work was done, I went to see the body and say goodbye." Devon chuckled. "Imagine my surprise when his eyes suddenly opened as he took a deep breath and he sat up."

"What surprise?" Makael frowned in annoyance, a small part of his mind noting that Snowleo had come into the room and climbed onto the couch beside Bonnie without anyone noticing. "You gave me your jacket, helped me sneak out of the hospital, and then punched me in the jaw after I explained this to you."

"I had just spent the last few hours trying to figure out how I was going to explain your demise to your father and still survive long enough to express my condolences." Devon gave Makael a hard look. "How would you have reacted to finding out that all of that worry was for nothing?"

"Alright," Makael looked slightly abashed, "point taken."

"As interesting as that may be, could we get back to the part about you guys running around cutting each other's heads off?" Michael Knight crossed his arms over his chest. "Like the part about why no one has put a stop to this?"

"Mr. Knight, people both mortal and immortal have tried to stop the game and most of them have died because of it, usually taking a lot of young impressionable idealistic fools down with them. Even if ninety-nine point nine percent of the immortals that are alive and active in the game right now just refused to take part in The Game anymore the other point one percent would massacre them!" Makael said, his voice full of exasperation. "Immortals have been living this way for longer then you could possible imagine and as much as you, I or anyone else may not like it the Game can't be stopped."

"You have got to be shitting me!" Michael threw up his hands as he got to his feet and began pacing around the room. After a moment he stopped and looked at Devon. "Devon, you said something about wanting to wait for a Gathering?"

"The Gathering. is kind of a prophesy about the Game, it goes something like 'in the far future when there is but a few of our kind left, we shall feel an irresistible pull to a distant land where we shall do battle until there is but one remaining, and that one shall receive the prize.' or at least that's how it was told to me." Makael answered before Devon had a chance to, and then smirked with a small shrug. "I don't know if it's true but I've been feeling more and more restless for the last several years and Immortal challenges have been steadily on the rise for all of that time, so it could be getting close." Makael looked thoughtful for a moment before grinning playfully at the others in the room. "Then again it could just be that I desperately need a vacation and that it's getting easier and easier to travel the world so Immortals running are into each other more often as a result. I honestly haven't a clue!"

"Joking while talking about the genocide of your own race is a bit uncouth, Makael." Devon said in a strained tone.

"If you say so, Devon." Makael looked more than a little put out by his reaction, "though I fail to see what you all are so up tight about. I'm the one that has to either kill his entire race or die!"

"Makael, my friend, as difficult as knowing that you will always look as you do now, while I grow old and die, and that you have to be ready to fight to the death at a moment's notice in order to survive is," Devon smiled slightly as he remembered some of the times he had spent with Makael and Dragan in his youth "knowing that you may someday have to either kill everyone of your kind or die is even harder."

"If you say so, Devon. I guess I've just gotten used to the idea, I've had a long time to do so after all." Makael shrugged, glanced over at the couch and began chuckling. "Hey, Bonnie, Snowleo, would you two prefer taking it to a room?"

"Huh?" Bonnie blinked, trying to understand the shocked look on Michael's face, and then realized her hand was gently kneading something warm and fuzzy. When she looked down, her body stiffened and her eyes went wide at what she saw, she had been scratching what looked suspiciously like a large male snow leopard on the belly.

A moment after she had stopped scratching, the big cat half-opened its eyes looking up at her curiously, seeing her scared expression tilted its head back to glare at Makael. The big cat snarled slightly at the immortal who just shrugged at it with an innocent smile on his face.

Bonnie's eyes bulged and her face paled as the cat suddenly seemed to twist without moving, its body stretching and swelling as it changed, until she found herself with a hand resting on the bare abs of an annoyed young man that appeared to be in his late teens.

"Damn you, Makael!" Snowleo growled and pointed an accusing finger at the immortal as he rolled off the couch, landed on his feet and stood up not bothering to cover up or even seem to notice the fact he was naked. "Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to find someone to give me a good scratch, at least one that is not going to expect to have sex afterward?"

"No, not really." Makael frowned and tilted his head slightly. "Why did you shift and where are your clothes?"

"I had to leave them in the car," Snowleo rolled his eyes and threw up his hands. "Melody's out front, chewing out Nick and Harriet, so I had to use the Krisle tunnels to get into the Mixer without running into her."

"How did she find out about this place? I thought you were keeping you professional and private life separate?" Makael raised an eyebrow, then smiled slightly and tossed Snowleo his jacket when he noticed the flush crossing Bonnie's face. "Snowleo, while I may not mind you running around in the buff every now and then because you're my brother and I've been around you all your life, we have guests and I think they would feel better if you covered up."

"I have no idea," Snowleo grumbled as he slid the jacket on. "but she's here now and I really need to think of something to get her out of here before her and Pop run into each other."

"Snow, I think we need to talk." Dragan's voice had an edge that sent chills through all those present.

"Yes, Father, what do you." Snowleo turned towards the door to the office and trailed off, his blood running cold and eyes bulging at the sight of a familiar woman that looked to be in her late teens or early twenties which a red-eyed Dragan was holding about a foot off the floor by the back of the neck as he walked towards Snowleo. After a moment two other people came running into the office only to screech to a halt at the scene that greeted them. After a moment of looking at the newcomers with a deer in the headlights expression, Snowleo slowly raised his hand, swallowed at the expressions that were currently aimed at him and gave a tiny wave. "H-hello Melody, Nick, Dad. I-I can explain ."

Chapter 10

<I could have handled that better.> Dragan leaned against the wall of one of the building that surrounded the garage he had left Cles in rubbing his temples. <Oh well, the worse that Cles can do is kill me...>

"Interesting mate you have there."

Dragan looked up, saw Michael sitting on crate on the other side of the alley and sighed. "What are you talking about?"

"You know, Cles, she's a Fa'lur about this tall," Michael smirked and held his hand up to about Dragan's height, "black and red fur, large pointed ears, beak, beautiful honey colored eyes, has been trying to become the more than friend part of your life for about 50 years, says you're her mate."

"Sweet Creator!" Dragan covered his eyes with a pained expression and gave a pained groan. "She's gonna get herself killed if she starts telling people that!"

"I doubt it." Michael shook his head and chuckled at Dragan's expression. "Cles is quite capable of taking care of herself. As to the possibility of one of your enemies finding out how you feel about Cles and going after her to get to you, I won't deny that it could happen, but if they haven't by now I doubt they will."

"Hey, what do you mean by that?" Dragan glared at the archangel.

"No offence, Gren, but you're the absolute worst at hiding your emotions." Michael shrugged looking mildly amused. "You wear your heart on your sleeve when you're with someone you either care for or hate. You might as well be screaming it. at least to anyone that really knows you."

"That's just great," Dragan rolled his eyes and shook his head in exasperation. "You know it would have been nice if someone had told *me* about that!"

"I wouldn't worry about it; first off not many of people that would be 'interested' in going after someone you care for would know you well enough to be able to tell you cared for her." Michael chuckled dryly. "And as for your enemies that do know you well enough. well, let's just say that I'd be willing to bet my wings that even the *craziest* of your *worst* enemies would at least think twice about harming someone you care for. they have some idea of what would happen if they did."

"Yeah, right. Damn, what is with everybody and their twin sister sticking their noses in my love life today? First Herc, now the winged eunuch. did somebody put a sign on my back or something?" Dragan muttered the last part sarcastically, then glared at the Archangel. "Hey, I thought I'd killed all of the ones who knew me that well!"

"You wish!" Michael said meeting Dragan's eyes with a serious expression, then chuckled and shook his head. "First off; watch who you call a eunuch! And secondly; no, there is not a sign on your back; it's just that anyone who's ever hung out with you could tell you happen to have some pretty big blind spots when it comes to your relationships... I mean really, how is it you can accurately read the changing conditions of a battlefield without thinking about it, but can't seem to figure out when you're about to do something that is going to get your mate, lover, friend with benefits or whatever you happen to call your latest partner, really upset with you."

"Gee, what a surprise; I'm a male that can't figure out females." Dragan rolled his eyes at the Archangel. "By the Creator, you had better have the 'Powers That Be' immediately send a champion to destroy the vile, warped and twisted monster that I am!"

"I wouldn't tempt them if I was you." Michael shook his head, "they might just decide to take you seriously and send someone to take you up on it."

"Let them, if they want to lose another champion that badly; who am I to stop them." Dragan shook his and snorted in amused disgust.

"You know, it's statements like that," Michael glared at Dragan and shook his head in admonishment, "that have made you one of the top ten people the Powers want dead! Although you might like to hear you're now number six on their list rather then number four." Michael said as a smirk slowly spread across his face at the look of confusion on Dragan's face "seems the young Kine now hold the number four slot, he doesn't have to kill their champions he turns them to *his* side. How does it feel to be bumped down the list by a kid that isn't even an adult yet?"

"Not as bad as the PTBs must have felt when the creator decided to recall their equipment do to over use." Dragan shrugged and snorted at the look of shock on Michael's face. "What can I say I actually listened to Rufus every now and then."

"Man, you must have a death wish," Michael shook his head and whistled "I think you probably just got back to fifth with that one..."

"I'm sorry if they get disturbed, but to coin a phrase, 'the truth will stand when the world's a' burnin'! If they had been able to keep their togas on, you guys would still have 'them' and I've defeated every champion they ever sent after me." Dragan grimaced and shook his head. "The lucky ones I killed and the not so lucky."

"Ah, ah, ah, I don't want or need to hear it;" Michael cut him off. "I read your file, remember. it has detailed records of *everything*you ever done, including what happened to the champions the Powers sent after you. Not very pleasant read by the way!"

"I can't imagine why," Dragan's sarcastic reply was accompanied by a bittersweet smile leveled at the archangel "I mean it's not like they don't start calling someone the 'Descendant of Cain, stalker of the wasteland, He who held the moors' or any of the other titles I hold for being an upstanding citizen."

"You have a point, but you don't have to sound 'proud' of that title." Michael frowned at the ancient mercenary.

"Yes I do, Michael." Dragan closed his eyes, shook his head and smirked. "I was given those 'titles' after Heorot because I started going after humans that attack innocent nonhumans; in effect choosing to protect those who really deserve it. So according to the admittedly limited thought processes of humans I must be the most twisted and degenerate individual in existence because I protect people that deserve it rather than fall on my knees, groveling in worship at the fact of human's ultimate perfection."

"Uh huh." Michael looked at Dragan strangely for several moments before shaking his head. "You know, Gren, *I* know you were just exaggerating the way humans behave and don't really 'hate' humans, but to most people you come off as a bit of a racist when you say things like that. I know your feelings and opinions about them are not without merit but you should really think about those suggestions to get counseling."

Dragan stiffened, his entire body screaming outrage, as he opened his mouth intent on letting the Archangel know exactly what he thought of that idea. They both jumped as a piercing shriek echoed through the alley.


Dragan and Michael looked around, quickly determined that the source of the scream wasn't in the 'alley' with them then looked at each other and cautiously moved to the mouth of the alley. They found a dark-haired young woman, in her early to mid twenties, that was in the process of thoroughly chewing out somebody that was inside of a minivan with tinted windows.

Dragan shook his head in amusement as a dark haired young man who appeared to be in his late teens or early twenties with features so like the woman's as to mark then as almost obviously siblings, climbed out of the van and started arguing with the young woman. After they had been arguing for a few moments a young woman climbed out of the van, raised her arms above her head, closed her eyes and stretched like a cat. Halfway through the stretch she twisted her torso and her face became visible to those standing in the alley for the first time. Dragan froze, his eyes widened as recognition set in then narrowed dangerously. Slowly Dragan walked over to the group and tapped the woman from the minivan on the shoulder.

Feeling the tap on her shoulder the young woman turned around smiling friendlily until she saw Dragan's narrowed eyes, green hair and scowling face, then she took a step back and paled significantly.

"Hello, Lilith." That said, Dragan's fist snapped out moving faster then a striking cobra, slamming into Lilith's solar plexus with as much force as he could gather behind it.


The force of the blow lifted Lilith off her feet and sent her slamming into the wall of the Mixer on the far side of the street where she slowly slid to her knees folding in around her abdomen as she fought to get air back into her lungs. Raising her head to look at her attacker Lilith silently cursed whatever fate had decided to intervene in her life by arranging this reunion and the position this put her in.

Dragan met Lilith's eyes as he slowly advanced on her, ignoring the presence of the other people present until he felt something hit him on his kidney. Turning his head slightly Dragan found the young man from the van looking at him with a surprised expression. Dragan's lips curled up into a slight smile.

Lilith's blood ran cold as she watched Nick come up behind her attacker and deliver what should have been a debilitating punch to the mercenary's kidney with little to no visible effect. Lilith snarled a curse, dropping all pretence of normalcy in her rush to act as Dragan casually reached out and grabbed her fianc, by the throat. Quickly pulling a shuriken from a hidden sheath built into her belt she threw it at the offending limb as she charged him. A ball of flames appeared in each of her hands, growing and changing until there was a beautifully crafted pair of red short swords in their place.

Dragan was about to give the human's neck a squeeze and twist, when something struck and bounced off the sleeve of his armor's jacket in a small shower of sparks. After taking a quick glance in Lilith's direction, Dragan gave the human a deceptively light shove which sent him tumbling down half the length of the sidewalk and drew Draca from the sheath he was wearing across his back beneath his jacket as he turned to meet her charge.

"Leave him alone; your *problem* is with me!" Lilith hissed then slipped to the side at the last moment, striking at his right side, swinging one sword at his neck while thrusting at his midsection with the other one.

Dragan leaned back, letting the blade pass harmlessly in front of his throat; he knocked the thrusting blade aside with Draca and followed up with a series of lightening fast strikes that Lilith was hard put to either parry or dodge.

Finally spotting an opening, Lilith moved into Dragan's next strike, stepped to the side at the last moment and quickly swung one of her blades in an attempt to drive its pommel into the base of his skull. Dragan silently cursed as she sidestepped his thrust then dropped his head forward and fell into a roll before he had even picked up the movement of her strike in his peripheral vision. Feeling the breeze as the blade passed across the back of his neck Dragan continued the roll, allowing his momentum to help him to his feet and snapped a kick at the small opening her missed strike had created in her defenses.

Lilith twisted to the side, barely avoiding Dragan's kick as she slashed at his extended leg with one blade while thrusting the other one at the shoulder joint of his sword arm only to silently curse when her blades merely threw up sparks.

Dragan used the split-second distraction her surprise had caused to twist away from her while taking a slash at her neck, but only managed to score a shallow cut across Lilith's chest and forearm as she twisted to the side, striking at his wrist with a savage slash of the blade with her uninjured arm. Dragan let his arm go limp; allowing the thirty plus pound blade of Draca to pull his arm down under the arch of her strike, completely avoiding her strike and setting her up perfectly for him to deliver an elbow strike to her jaw, powerful enough to send her head first into the minivan across the street while almost rendering her unconscious.

Dragan slowly walked over to the severely disoriented female, used the toe of his boot kick her blades out of reach then roll her onto her back and pressed the point of his sword between her breasts as he drew his .454; then shook his head when he saw tiny horns sticking out of her bangs and realized she was no longer in her human form "Sorry Lilith, but an oath given. is an oath that must be kept."

Dragan pulled back the hammer as he leveled the gun at her throat; his finger began to tighten on the trigger when someone grabbed his wrist in a vise like grip that forced his hand to loosen enough for the pistol's grip to slip out of his hand leaving the pistol hanging from his index finger by the trigger guard as his forearm was slowly pulled up against his bicep. Dragan's head whipped around to face whoever had hold of his arm and found himself face to face with a straining Kahr'l. "What in the hell do you think you're doing, Kahr'l?"

"Keeping. my. word. my lord.!" Kahr'l grunted out as he reached out and pulled the pistol off Dragan's finger before releasing Dragan's wrist. "When I first entered your service over five thousand years ago, I swore I would protect you from any and all harm that was within my able to so." Kahr'l held out his arm and a barbed chain slowly began to slide out of the arm of his jacket, until with a tug a handle appeared in his hand. "If I were to let *you* kill her in cold blood while she's helpless, not only would I be allowing you to harm yourself, but I would also be allowing you to sink to her level, which would cause your professional reputation to be harmed as well. Where as, if you allow me to do it for you, my reputation as being both unpredictable and a killer will allow you to keep your reputation undamaged and keep some emotional distance from the act."

"What's the matter, Grendel?" Dragan turned and leveled a hostile glare at the red-eyed young woman that was glaring up at him with the point of his sword pressed into her chest. "Lose your balls, or is there another reason you can't do your own killing anymore?"

"No Lilith," Dragan pushed down a little harder on the sword against her chest, causing her to grimace as a spot of blood appeared and began to spread across her shirt. "I think you'll find I'm still quite capable of doing my own killing. Thanks for the offer, Kahr'l. but as a relative of someone I worked with once said 'why would I ask someone else to kill a *mule* that belonged to me?'"

Dragan raised an eyebrow in surprise when Lilith actually looked hurt for a second when he said that.

"Drop the fucking kni." *rattle, rattle* "Argh!"

"Mind I kill this shit, then?" Kahr'l asked dropping back into the Pidgin English he preferred to use.

Dragan glanced away from Lilith to find the man that had been in the minivan with her on his knees, with a Berretta sitting on the street in front of him and the barbs on Kahr'l's chain-whip drawing tiny rivulets of blood where it was wrapped firmly around the young man's wrists. Looking back at Lilith, Dragan smirked as he found her staring wide-eyed at the scene with a pained expression.

Hearing the sound of a pistol being cocked behind him, Dragan stiffened as he slowly turned to find the young woman that had been chewing out Lilith and the young man she had been in the van with a few moments ago was now holding a small revolver less then three feet from his head.

"Stop it! Let them go or I'll shoot you!" She nearly yelled, voice wavering nearly as much as the pistol was shaking. "I swear I'll do it!"

Dragan stared into her eyes a moment then glanced down and smirked. "You know you look good in red."

The lady blinked and unconsciously glanced down, her eyes going wide. She had been forced to sit through enough action movies to understand the meaning of the red dots she saw dancing on her chest. Dragan's free hand slowly came up and grabbed the pistol; he pulled its muzzle down so that if it went off the shot would be caught by his armor before pulling it out of her hands. Dragan emptied the bullets from the woman's pistol on to the street then tossed it away. "Sucker. Kahr'l, if she moves again, feel free to shoot her."

"No problem." Kahr'l reached down, picked up the young man's Berretta and checked the pistol's chamber before using it to cover the woman.

"Dragan, if I may make a suggestion?"

"What do you want now, Michael?" Dragan growled as he half turned to frown at the Archangel standing in the mouth of the alley.

"Me?" Michael pointed to himself, shook his head and smiled cheekily. "Nothing, I was just going to suggest, that you might want to find out why someone, especially someone that knows you as well as she does, would risk going somewhere that they'd have to know they will more than likely run into you after you've told them that if you see them again you're going to kill them. it just seems a little strange to me."

"Actually I said 'Next time I see you, you're going to die'." Dragan growled at the Archangel, grinding his teeth in frustration over the fact Michael was making sense as he turned to glare down at Lilith "Fine, since he seems to think it's so important I'll find out what's going on . So, what the hell are you doing here?"

"None of your business..." Lilith began to say defiantly; then thought better of it when Dragan scowled, reached into his jacket, drew his Bren-ten and pointed it in the general direction of her knees. "Alright already, I was looking for my future brother-in-law. Are you happy now?"

"Future brother-in-law.?" Dragan looked at her incredulously. "Who in their right mind would even consider marrying a murdering slut like you?!"

Lilith's mouth fell open as she stared up at him in wide-eyed shock; she snapped her leg up with an enraged panther-like shriek and drove her foot into his crotch as hard as she could. Dragan's eyes clenched shut as a pained growl came from deep within his chest from the pain. When his eyes snapped open a moment later; Lilith saw they were once again glowing red and paled to a pasty gray color.

Dragan threw down Draca, reached down and grabbed Lilith by the throat. He lifted her off of the ground and held her as high as he could then began to squeeze her throat with all of his strength. Lilith's eyes bulged and stars danced in her vision as she began thrashing and clawing at his wrist in an attempt to break his hold on her throat. Dragan snarled while he watched Lilith's struggles begin to slow and then stop altogether as she lost consciousness and her body went limp.

"What do you know;" the sarcastically amused tone of Michael's quiet voice somehow managed to catch Dragan's attention through the endorphin-created fog permeating his mind, "the great and mighty Grendel actually can and will kill his own family."

"What." That statement caused Dragan to blink then stiffen as his reason tore its way partly free of the fog surrounding his mind and began chasing itself in circles.

<What the hell am I doing, she's family. But she's a traitor and killer. if she lives I would be breaking my word. she's family. traitor. killer. my word. family. traitor. killer. my word. FAMILY.> Dragan growled in frustration and loosened the fingers around her throat enough that she was able to take a deep shuddering breath.

"Grendel. five thousand years. family. what the hell is going on around here?!" an unfamiliar voice behind him asked in a near hysterical tone.

"Just who the hell are you two supposed to be anyway?!" Dragan snarled letting Lilith fall onto the hood of the minivan as he turned and glared at the young woman that had been pointing a pistol at him a moment earlier; she just stood there staring at his glowing eyes her mouth opening and closing silently. After a moment of this Dragan turned his attention to the bleeding young man whose wrists were still wrapped in Kahr'l's chain whip. "Well kiddo, there any chance of getting you to give me an answer or do I need to use force?"

The young man glared at Dragan in silent defiance until Kahr'l's chain whip tightened slightly causing the barbs to dig in a little more in warning. "My name is Nick Delvecchio and that's my sister Melody."

"Okay, time for the sixty-four thousand dollar question, Nicky boy; what are you two doing here with *her*? Uh, hold that thought for just one moment." Dragan paused, noticing Lilith was showing signs of waking. He half climbed onto the hood beside her, gently brushed some hair out of her eyes, then punched her on the chin hard enough to collapse the van's hood and rupture its tires. Dragan hopped off the minivan muttering curses in seven languages as he shook his hand. "That should take care of that for a while. I hope."

"What the hell?" Nick stared at the still form lying on the crumpled sheet of metal, helplessly watching as she slowly slid off the front of the van to land on the ground in a boneless heap, before glaring at Dragan accusingly. "You killed her!"

"Oh, how I wish it was that easy. Unfortunately I have never been that lucky!" Dragan muttered, rolled his eyes and sucked on his hand, then studied the split knuckle for a moment before he reached down, picked up Draca and slid the sickle sword into its sheath. "For your information I could probably hit her like that until my hand was nothing but a bloody stump without killing her. Now what the fuck are you doing here?"

"We're looking for my husband;" Melody answered as she finally became numb enough to the all the impossibilities happening around her to regain some of her composure, then pointed at the Mixer. "He didn't come home last night and I found a card for that-that *club* in his pants. Now, I don't know who you are or why you felt you had to attack my brother's fianc, but they were only here to watch my daughter while I looked to see if he's here."

"Oh, this is just great. As if the last 24 hours weren't bad enough, bitchan the demoness just had to bring her friend the green-eyed monster for a visit; why couldn't she have shown up three hours from now? I'd be on a plane to Vegas and would not have been here to run into her. I know you hate me, God, but don't you think this is taking divine punishment a bit far." Dragan groaned and shook his head as he gave the sky a dirty look. "Lady, I'm the owner of that club and I don't need a domestic disturbance causing a scene in my club right now. so if you tell me his name I'll have someone send him out while I take her down to the lock up."

"Lock up. what the hell would she be locked up for?" Nick's eyes narrowed as glared at Dragan hostilely "You're the one that the police should be putting in a lock up for attacking her!"

"Kid, if I was you I'd shut up; seeing as you're not really in any position to say what should happen to anyone. least of all yourself!" Dragan looked at him with contempt then pointedly lowered his gaze to the chain wrapped around him. He reached down, grabbed Lilith by the back of the neck and pulled her up off the ground before turning back to Melody. "Now what did you say your husband's name was?"

"I didn't." Melody sourly glowered at Dragan, silently promising to call the authorities the moment she was away from here and tell them what really happened so they'll have to throw this hooligan in the deepest darkest cell they could find. "His name is Leo Snowdragon."

"Oh, shit." Kahr'l muttered and he shook his head as a large smirk spread across his face.

Dragan's jaw moved silently for a moment as he just stood there staring at her in disbelief before he could speak, "Say WHAT?!"

"And what is wrong with his name?!" Melody scowled, her eyes narrowing as she seemed to bristle like a cat. "I know it's not a common name but that doesn't give you the right to make fun of it!"

"I wasn't!" Dragon growled his eyes narrowing. "Now would you *please* repeat that name, because I know I must have misheard you!"

"Fine," Melody humphed and glared at him suspiciously. "I said his name was Leo Snowdragon."

"This can't be happening. this can't be happening. this can't be happening. there is no *fucking* way that this can be happening!" Dragan shook his head, eyes clenching shut as his face twisted in to an ugly grimace. Dragan finally managed to find the words to sum up his feelings on the current situation as he suddenly turned and storm off in the direction of the club seeming to have completely forgotten about the young woman he still carried. "Goddamn sonofa *BITCH*!"

"I'm goin' with him, maybe I see ya later." the Beretta's clip hit the ground with a clatter with a flick of his wrist. Kahr'l's chain whip unwound itself from around Nick's wrists and coiled around its owner's forearm; he then ejected the round in the chamber and pulled the slide off the gun before casually tossing the two halves of the gun in opposite directions. Kahr'l half-turned as if to leave then hesitated and turned back to the siblings to politely nod his head at them. "While I here I think I beat the rush and extend my condolences ta d' widow!"

Melody blinked at him in confusion. "What do you mean by that?"

"It's simple," Kahr'l said then chuckled as he started to walk away in the direction Dragan had gone, "when his dad get hold of ya husband, he gonna rip his head off and shit down da hole."

Melody and Nick looked at each other wide-eyed for a moment then took off in pursuit, catching up to Kahr'l as he was entering a building across the street from the club through a security door hidden behind a stack of palettes in the alley. The siblings slipped past him and were running up the stairs before the guards inside could do more than start towards the doorway yelling at them to stop.

"Its okay, guys," Kahr'l waved them off with a smirk. "I'll take responsibility for lettin' 'em in. just log'em as me guests."

"Um, sure thing." The Kitsunes looked at each other before hesitantly asking the question on both of their minds. "Do we even want to know what is going on?"

"No big," Kahr'l's needle-like teeth made the grin he gave the pair look absolutely lethal as yelling began drifting down the stairs. "Snowleo's private life just ran head first into why he wanted to keep it separate from his professional one."

Nick and Melody reached the top of the stairs and looked around for any sign of the green-haired man. After a moment the pair spotted the man through an open door at the end of the hall; hearing someone coming up the stairs they ran down the hall and into the room he was in. Then skidded to a halt as they got a look at the scene in the room: the green-haired man stood just inside the door, there was a blonde-haired Asian in his late teens at a old Victorian desk directly in front of the door while a group of normal looking people sat or stood around the room. However the thing that really caught their attention was the white-haired man wearing only an unfastened long coat.

<Aw, SHIT.> Nick glanced at Melody out of the corner of his eyes and winced at the expression on her face. <I hope he has good life insurance cause Sis is gonna kill him for this!>

The gaze of the people in the room moved back and forth between the red-eyed Dragan and the very pale Snowleo like spectators at a tennis match, each wondering what was going on but not wanting to be the one to disturb the silence of the tableau before them.

"Put My Fianc,e Down You Psycho!" It was finally broken by the demand of the man that had come in behind Dragan as he stepped up, grabbed the ancient mercenary's shoulder and used it to half-turn Dragan to face him.

Dragan glared at him a moment then smirked at the younger man.

"Okay fine, I'll put her down!" With a casual wave he sent the unconscious 'woman' flying towards a display case against the far wall. A moment before she would have made contact with the case her body hit an invisible barrier which returned her to consciousness with a pain-filled scream; her body arched as power was sent coursing through and dancing across her body. With a thunder-like clap she was thrown back across the room to bounce off the wall and hit the floor with a sickening thud. "Oops!"

"Harriet.!" Nick ran over to her limp form and began checking her for injuries then sighed in relief when he found none. Gently Nick turned her over, then froze staring as he caught sight of the tiny horns sticking out of her bangs; slowly his eyes trailed over the changes in her appearance, the tiny fangs just visible through her open mouth, the slightly pointed ears, the tiny claw each finger ended in, finally settling on the red eyes looking up at him from half open lids.

"Hey, Snow, as you no doubt have noticed, I'm pretty upset at the moment. would you like to know why?" Dragan growled softly as he began stalking towards Snowleo with a calm and collected expression. "I just found out a couple of things about you that I really don't want to believe and believe it or not they're connected. would you like to take a guess at what they are?"

"I-I can guess." Snowleo swallowed hard and looked over the people that had arrived at nearly the same time as Dragan then squared his shoulder, turned and looked his father in the eye. "But I fail to see why any of them would have led you to attacking Harriet."

"I didn't attack anyone named Harriet." Dragan walked over to a filing cabinet, opened a drawer and pulled out a thick file folder. He threw it on the desk with at loud bang that made everyone in the room jump. "Her real name is Lilith; she's a six thousand year old half-Enyrie assassin, considered by most people in the know to be on par with the Noir. She has over four thousand confirmed kills over the span of her career; I wouldn't even hazard a guess at the number of unconfirmed kills she has... Oh yeah, I almost forgot, the Wild Hunt has a standing order regarding her. they are to shoot her on sight, or whatever else it takes to eliminate her. in short she is to be terminated with extreme prejudice. So is there any particular reason you've been 'hanging out' with someone that you were supposed to kill on sight?!"

"Damn it, if I had known you would hold a grudge this long I would have stayed with Mom instead of traipsing all over hell and back with you, Father." Lilith pushed Nick aside as she twisted hard to the side the instant she heard the sound of metal on leather and still barely managed to avoid Draca's blade as it spun past her to embed itself into the wall behind her. Lilith stared at the blade wide-eyed for a moment before turning to look at Dragan then flinched at the look of burning rage on Dragan's face.

"NEVER call me that, you traitorous little bitch!" Dragan hissed in a voice so full of anger and disgust that it caused Lilith to visibly shudder. "You lost the right to call me that over three thousand years ago; you call me that again and I swear I'll."

"You'll what? Boil me in oil? Burn me at the stake?" Lilith snarled climbing to her feet. "Hey, maybe you could cut me into bite size pieces and serve me as an appetizer at one of your parties you crazy, lecherous, old lush!"

"Oh, that's it!" Dragan jumped over his desk with a battle cry only to be tackled to the floor by Makael and Snowleo as Kahr'l stepped into the room, his chain whips already snapping out to restrain Lilith and her fianc, again.

"Whoa, whoa, everybody just hold the phone." Michael Knight yelled but not loud enough to drown out the noise of the two groups struggling to either get at- or keep them away from- each other.

"*HEY, HE SAID CUT IT OUT!*" The volume of the sudden shout in the enclosed area was enough to break through ruckus that Dragan and Lilith were making as they struggled to free themselves from their respective restrainers, causing everyone to stop and cover their ears.

Dragan looked towards the door of the office and growled when he saw Michael standing in it, scowling at the people inside it. "You keep out of this bird boy."

"Or you'll do what?" Michael asked sweetly and then smirked at the annoyed expression on Dragan's face. "Now why don't we all start over and this time can we do it without the gratuitous violence."


"I guess not." Michael sighed and rubbed his ear as the woman that had made the indignant screech charged up to Snowleo and shoved a finger into his breastbone.

"Melody, I can explain." Snowleo flinched as she crossed her arms over her chest and turned up the level of her glare.

"I would hope you do have some kind of an explanation," Melody growled out and started tapping her foot as her eyes narrowed dangerously "and you can trust me when I say that I can't wait to hear what exactly is going on around here!"

"So, you two know each other." Dragan climbed to his feet and, after throwing a hostile glare at Lilith, slowly walked up beside the couple. "I take it that he's the one you were looking for?"

"Not that it's any of your business, but yes he is..." Melody snapped as she rounded on Dragan. "Now, how about you tell me who the hell you are supposed to be!"

"His father." Dragan replied in a cold tone as he pointed at Snowleo.

"You're *what*?" Melody glanced over at Snowleo, who shrugged at her sheepishly even as he managed to look like he was currently wishing the earth beneath his feet would open up and swallow him, before looking over the man claiming to be his father but looked barely any older than his son. Melody rolled her eyes and snorted indignantly at the idea that they thought she would fall for that. "Yeah right, you're what, in your early- to mid-twenties?"

"I'm around ten thousand," Dragan chuckled and gave her a sinister smile. "I really don't know exactly; you see I quit counting about the time I hit two thousand."

"Uh, huh," Melody's indignant expression wavered for a moment as she looked between her husband and his 'father'. "Do I look that stupid?!"

Dragan blinked at her and opened his mouth to reply then shook his head with a pained expression. "I'm not going near that one; it's just too damned easy."

Melody scowl deepened as she glared at Dragan. "What are you implying, that you think I'm stupid?"

"I believe I just said I wasn't going to touch that question." Dragan said in a tone one would use when dealing with a small child. "I know it's hard, what with the handicap of you being human and all, but please at least *try* to keep up."

"Gren, would you please quit trying to bait her into taking a swing at you." The warning in Michael's tone caused the ancient mercenary turn and glare at the archangel, who just calmly starred back. "I doubt Snowleo would let you retaliate if she did, anyway!"

"I don't remember asking for your opinion, Michael," Dragan snapped "In fact, I distinctly remember telling you to stay out of this."

"Hey, I haven't said a thing!" Michael Knight snapped back.

"I wasn't talking to you; I don't even know who you are!" Dragan growled as he pointed towards the Archangel that was just sitting down on the couch beside Bonnie smiling suggestively at her. "I was talking to him!"

"Oh, well excuse me... How was I supposed to know his name is Michael too?!" Michael Knight drawled out sarcastically.

"Really Michael, would you please refrain from attempting to escalate the situation." Devon sighed and shook his head in disapproval.

"Devon?" the unexpectedness of his friend's presence knocked Dragan for a loop. His eyes finally returned to normal as his mind broke free of the last of the rage that had gripped him since seeing Lilith. He then noticed the rather high number of people in his office that he didn't know. "What are you doing here, Devon, and who the hell are all the rest of you people?!"

"Did you actually expect me to stay away after hear someone was trying to kill you?" Devon gave Dragan a questioning look before turning to introduce his companions. "These are my associates in FLAG, Michael Knight and Bonnie Barlow."

"So, Willy did finally find someone to play superhero for him." Dragan stopped mid-sentence looked Michael over closely then shook his head and sighed. "You know I can understand Willy calling him 'Michael Knight', but why in the hell did he have to give him Garth's face?"

"Whatever Wilson's reasons were, they were his own." Devon said pointedly, "and I for one do not wish to question them now."

"Yeah, I would have come to the funeral if I had been able to," Dragan suddenly seemed to find the blotter on his desk real interesting. "I was on a job and couldn't be reached. Hell, I didn't even know he was dead until afterwards. I hope young Ms. Knight understood."

"Oh she wasn't overtly upset, once she had had a few days to calm down she said it was probably for the best; you would have probably done something insanely flamboyant to honor him and she felt Wilson wouldn't have approved of that. I happen to agree with her on that at least," Devon cleared his throat. "The real blow up happened when she was informed of the terms of her father's will."

"What did she think, that her dad would have let me provide him with starting capital and get nothing in return?" Dragan shrugged and smiled sadly. "I would have given him the money, but Willy refused, said he'd never taken charity and wasn't about to start. Hell, I was just going to have him pay me back what I loaned him, wasn't even gonna charge him any interest on it when he made that proposition. anyway I don't see why she'd be upset; she still has more than enough stock for controlling interest of Knight Industries and to live in comfort the rest of her life."

"I think it had more to do with the fact she didn't know you were a silent partner until then; instead of just being her dad's strange friend you're one of the majority stock holders." Devon chuckled, shaking his head. "When she found out you were provisionally signing over your voting rights to her, it helped calm her fears of you trying to assume control of Knight Industries, but she is still annoyed about you and Wilson keeping her out of the loop."

"Why would I want control of Knight Industries?" Dragan snorted and shook his head. "As I said before, long as she doesn't throw a fit about me using the occasional Knight Industry patent and runs the company according to Willy's 'vision', I say she can have it. as to her being kept out of the loop, do you honestly think Willy would want her to, be in *that* loop, or that she should be?"

"No," Devon said with a small smile, "but I shan't be telling her that."

"Okay, am I the only one feeling lost here?" Michael Knight asked rhetorically as he looked at the ceiling of the room.

"Leo Snowdragon, I'm still waiting to hear why you are naked in a room full of strangers!" Melody growled poking him in the chest.

"Who are you calling a stranger, lady?!" Makael asked, giving her a pointedly annoyed look. "And stop poking my brother cause as far as I can tell you're the only stranger here!"

"BROTHER!" Melody yelped then turned towards Snowleo her eyes narrowing dangerously. "You never told me you have a brother?!"

"Actually, Melody, I have several brothers and sisters," Snowleo said hesitantly as he slow backed away from her incredulous expression putting a chair between them while waving in Dragan's general direction "my father's very virile and seems to have a problem grasping the whole concept of abstinence..."


Chapter 11

Las Vegas

"Um, hi, ah… N-nice crossbow you got there;" Darien heldup his hands, eyeing the crossbow that was currently pointing at his midsection. "Look, Pops, I think we got off on the wrong foot…"

"I'm on my way, partner…" Hobbes voice came over Darien's earpiece. "Just keep him talking till I get there."

"I have no idea who or even what you are," the old man snorted and shook his head with an annoyed expression, "so I can assure you that I am most certainly not your 'Pop'!"

"Huh…?" Darien stared at the old man blankly for a moment before what he was saying finally registered. A few seconds of silent deliberation later, Darien came to the conclusion that it could only lower the probability of his getting shot. So, in a shower of silver flakes he returned to visibility and held out his hand to the old man with the best friendly smile he could manage. "Sorry about that… name's Darien Fawkes and you are…?"

"Still waiting to hear why you were following me," the old man said, not even batting an eye at the sight of a man just appearing from thin air in front of him.

*BAM* The door behind the old man shuddered as something slammed into the other side of it, hard. "Damn…" a moment after the pained curse two gunshots came from the other side of the door. The gunshots had barely died down when the door shuddered again. *Bham* "God Damn it…That hurt!"

"He's a persistent one, isn't he?" The old man smirked and shook his head in amusement as the sounds of someone trying to force the door behind him open continued. "That door won't open, no matter how long or hard he beats on it; did you think I would lead you to this place and not have prepared for the possibility of there being more than one of you?"

"Aw crap…" Darien muttered as the sound of Hobbes trying to get the door open died down only to be replaced with his partner having a rather heated one-sided conversation. "Look, we're not here to hurt you or anything; we're just supposed to keep tabs on you for a few hours... maybe a day or two at most."

"Is that so?" The old man frowned at Darien. "Why?"


"Dragan…?" Merrick glanced at the door in surprise, then turned and looked Fawkes over intently, then shook his head with a calculated expression. "You aren't one of his children nor are you one of his Kiths… so why would that old wyrm send you after me?"

"What are you asking me for?" Darien shrugged helplessly; eyes not moving from the crossbow pointed at him. "I don't know anybody named Dragon, Dragan or whatever his name is… All I know is that some bigwig asked my boss to find you. Once you were found the boss told us to keep track of you, as he didn't want whoever asked him to find you to get here, find you gone and think that you weren't here in the first place…"

"Very well, my business here will require at least another day to complete; contact your partner and have him inform your employer that Dragan has that long to arrive." Merrick studied the young man intently for a moment then motioned towards the door they had come in with the crossbow. "However, if Dragan hasn't arrived by the time my business is finished, I will be led to believe you are attempting some form of subterfuge on behalf of my enemies… and I will be forced to take action against you as such."

"Copy that, partner," Hobbes' voice came over the Darien's ear piece. "The Fat man's already on it… Sit tight, the cavalry is on the way so you're gonna be fine."

"Not to be rude or anything…" Darien slowly moved towards in the direction the old man indicated, acutely aware of the weapon being pointed at him, "but exactly what would you mean by 'take action against'?"

Merrick chuckled and smirked slightly as he motioned Darien towards a rental car; once he was inside the old man snapped one cuff of an old pair of manacles around Darien's wrist, the other end already attached to the frame of the car seat, "Let us hope, that you do not have to find out… for everyone's sake."

Darien looked from the restraint to the old man's crossbow and back, finally summing up his feelings on the situation in the most eloquent way possible. "Aw, crap…"

Hobbes cursed first as the voices on the other side of the door faded away, and then cursed again more harshly as his partner moved out of their radio's range. After several minutes of this he finally sat down on a convenient box and crossed his arms, accepting if not liking the fact that for the time being he was trapped, only to jump at a sudden very loud bang. Spinning in the direction of the noise and raising his drawn gun to cover the possible threat, he stared in wide-eyed disbelief at the door that was now laying on the floor in front of it's frame then looked the other way and watched as the other door slowly swung open.

"Hey, do I go around talking about your sex life?!" Dragan half-growled, giving his white-haired son an annoyed glared. "Besides, it's not like your mother ever complained about my libido!"

"Father, I would prefer not to hear the details of your sex life as it pertains to my mother." Snowleo stated with finality. "I still haven't figured out what she saw in you or how you two got together…"

"Well, I could answer that," Dragan smiled cheekily. "But you just said you didn't want to hear about our sex lives!"

"Not again with the dad that looks hardly older than you do stuff!" Melody huffed as she threw up her arms. "Why can't I get a straight answer out of anyone?"

"Melody," Lilith said to draw her future sister-in-law's attention to where she and Nick were still wrapped in Kahr'l's chain whip. "For all of his other faults, my fa… Grendel isn't a liar; if he says he's Snowleo's father then he is."

"Would you *please* quit calling me that?! The Grendel has been 'dead' for well over a thousand years, so get over it, already!" Dragan snapped in exasperation. "Gods, you'd think as popular as that ridiculous piece of fiction Beowulf spread was you would get the hint!"

"So you two have the same father…?" Nick looked over at her with a quasi-nauseous expression. "Oh good, you mean to tell me that not only has my fiancée gone all horny on me, but it turns out I'm also engaged to my sister's sister- in-law?"

"Well, I can't say much about her 'family', but the 'horny' part isn't much of a change," Melody said, shaking her head with an 'I told you so' expression, "but I did warn you she wasn't the right kind of girl for you, Nick!"

"Oh, like you have a right to talk after what I saw when I passed your room Wednesday night," Nick growled at his sister. "Can we say Meow mix anyone…"

The room fell silent as the gathered people turned to look at the siblings in confusion that slowly turned to expressions of embarrassed shock as the blush that spread across both Melody and Snowleo's faces caused the meaning of Nick's statement to eventually become clear to most of the people in the office.

"Ahem," A slightly red Dragan cleared his throat, catching the attention of most of the people in his office. "I'm just going to suggest that first we all forget the very disturbing implications of that statement and secondly, that we give the idiot with the big mouth a five minute head start before letting either Snowleo or his sister leave this office…"

"Nick, I'm not saying a thing about your sister's love life but it certainly looks like you're right about the rest…" Lilith looked over at her fiancé, who still looked slightly sick, then rolled her eyes at his expression. "Jesus Christ, Nick, don't have a breakdown over it; it's not like we're blood relations or anything!"

"It's not that," Nick muttered, taking a glance in the direction of his sister and her husband's direction then winced at the looks they were giving him. "I think I just signed my death warrant!"

"I thought I had raised you better than that, Snowleo," Dragan sighed and shook his head, muttering something about perverts taking advantage of his kids.

"Hey, watch what you're saying about my mate! Father or not, what we do in the privacy of our own bedroom is none of your goddamn business…" Snowleo snarled, trailing off as his mind caught up with what he was saying. "Oh shit…"

"And this portion of Jerry Spring has been brought to you by Dragan Security…" Michael said loudly as he pantomimed holding a microphone to his mouth.

"I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO SHUT UP, MICHAEL!" Dragan yelled and angrily threw a paper weight at the archangel, who smiled and easily caught the offending item before it could connect as Dragan rounded on the rest of the room. "AND THAT GOES DOUBLE FOR THE REST OF YOU!"

"Gods be damned, I need a drink…" Dragan muttered, sat on the edge of his desk rubbing his temple as the room fell silent. After taking a moment to regain his composure Dragan turned to Devon. "Devon, would you mind going down and waiting in the club while I 'deal' with some of my 'family'."

"Dragan, while normally I wouldn't think of intruding on a friend's family life," Devon looked at the other people in the room, "I also know your temper and think it would be for the best if I, at least, were to remain… after all you might require a neutral party to referee."

"Oh, I do like him; has he got you pegged Gren…" Michael pointed out with a snicker.

"Michael," Dragan started to growl then took a deep breath and let it out as he counted to ten. "Why don't you go have a beer or something, on the house of course?

"Oh, how I wish I could take you up on that," the archangel shook his head sadly, "but I'm no longer allowed to imbibe alcohol… Boss's orders!"

"Oh, really," Dragan snorted and shook his head with a smirk. "Then I think you would find some of the items on our special menu of interest… why don't you go check them out? I'd suggest trying one of the house specials."

"Maybe later," Michael raised an eyebrow questioningly at Dragan's smirk. "The Boss would not be happy with me if I were to start putting pleasure before business..."

"Fine, I give up! Stay if you want; it's not like this is my office or anything!" Dragan threw his arms up in frustration and sighed. "You know, I can remember a time when someone asking you to leave their office actually meant something."

"Okay, no problem, I'm more than happy to leave…" Snowleo said as he started for the door then froze and trailed off, wilting slightly under the combined glares he received from his wife and father, "…or not."

"Now Snow, given what I've heard so far I'm pretty sure of the answer and you know I do my best not to stick my nose 'too far' into your private lives," Dragan turned and glared at the choking sound Makael made when he had said that, "but I got to ask; are you really married to that?"

"Hey!" Melody snapped indignantly.

"Ah, um," Snowleo cringed at the looks he was receiving "Yes, sir…"

"Um hum," Dragan nodded his head for a moment then gave Snowleo his best, pointedly false smile. "And I haven't heard about this yet, why?"

"I, ah," Snowleo swallowed hard, "was waiting for the right time to tell you?"

"Is that so," Dragan nodded his head absently. "How long have you been married? Couple weeks, couple months…"

"Not exactly…" Snowleo forced out around the lump building in his throat as he realized he was not sure if he should be praying to get out of this alive or that he'll just get a quick death.

"Leo," Melody looked at him like he was crazy, "we've been married for nearly five years!"

"You're shitting me?!" Dragan stared at Melody in disbelief then turned and gave Snowleo a look that screamed of anger and disappointment as he shook his head. "Snow, when I agreed to your demand to stay out of your private life I thought it was understood that you were to let me know if anything *important* came up in it!"

"Well, I… you see…" Snowleo finally gave up trying to explain it away, just grimacing and giving a sort of shrug.

"Why would you tell him to stay out of your personal life?" Melody frowned at her husband in confusion. "I mean *if* he is your dad he does kind of have the right to be sort of interested in it."

"What do you know; that is the first smart thing I've heard you say since I met you," Dragan smirked as he looked Melody over. "There might be some hope for you after all…

"I wouldn't have minded if he had just been interested in my private life," Snowleo snorted and shook his head at his father. "But the fact he was doing background checks, so thorough that it would make the CIA envious, on every girl I showed an interest in got sick really fast."

"Snow, I hate to break this to you but with the type of women you've been known to be attracted to..." Dragan crossed his arms and smirked, "I wouldn't complain about a couple of background checks. I mean for a while there if you were going out with them there was a better then seventy percent chance of them being either a hunter, a spy, an assassin or anyone of a host of other groups that want us all dead…" Dragan turned slightly green as a disturbing thought wormed its way into his mind and glanced at Lilith. "Please, tell me you two were never..."

"No way, did we ever date!" Lilith snorted and rolled her eyes at her father's suggestion. "You know very well that I am definitely not *that* much of a cat person!"

"Why do I suddenly have the vague feeling I should feel insulted?" Snowleo muttered to himself shaking his head.

"Oh, really?" Melody raised an eyebrow, gave Snowleo a questioning look and tapping her foot. "And what women would he be talking about, honey?"

"No one that's important, dear…" Snowleo said quickly, then swallowed hard at the look she gave him in reply and sighed before looking at ceiling pleadingly. "Who or what did I piss off to deserve this?"

"Just don't ask me, 'cause I no know, puddy-cat." Kahr'l'smirked at the annoyed look Snowleo gave him. "Though might have something ta do wit Karma… since it lookn' like you been one bad puddy-cat!"

"Shut up, Kahr'l!" Snowleo snarled at his teammate. "I'm not in the mood to put up with what passes for your sense of humor right now!"

"Why don't you both shut up?!" Dragan growled, then cursed and started digging through the pockets of his trench coat looking for the cell phone that had started ringing.

Cles stood in the center of her garage, her ears flat against her skull in annoyance and rubbed her temple as she looked over the devastation that had resulted from the fight in her garage. <I had just finished getting this place outfitted correctly and all of the vehicles up to specs… Now its going to take weeks for me to get all of this and the vehicles those two wrecked back to normal… Why me?!>

"Ooookaaaaa, Cwes okay?" a small voice suddenly asked the distracted Fa'lur.

"Eek!" Cles nearly jumped out of her skin at the unexpected voice and looked down, spotting the small gray-robed figures looking up at her from under their red hats with worried expressions. She whistled in relief and nodded at the little beings. "Yeah, I'm fine; just don't sneak up on me like that!"

The Krisle glanced at each other and then looked back up at the Fa'lur in confusion. "Kwisle no sneak, Kwisle walk."

"Okay," The small creature's bemused expression as it spoke caused Cles to start to giggle, "but you walk very quietly so I didn't hear you coming…"

"Oh," the Krisle looked at the ground, embarrassed. "Kwisle sowwy sca-ud Cwes."

"Hey, it's okay," Cles sighed and shook her head with a slight grimace. "If I wasn't fighting this headache and trying to figure out where I should start working on this mess I would have heard you guys…"

"Oh, Cwes hurt…" The Krisle suddenly huddled together speaking very fast and very low for several moments as Cles looked on in bewilderment. Finally one the group of Krisle turned and ran out of the garage as another smiled up at her happily. "Kwisle help Cwes; Cwes sit fwoor please?"

"Um, okay…" Cles looked down at them for a moment trying to decide if this was a good idea before slowly squatting down on the balls of her feet in front of them so that her tail was free to move back and forth behind her. "Now what?"

"Cwes no sit?" the Krisle looked at her and tilted its head.

"No, I think I would rather stay like this," Cles shook her head and looked down at the robe she was wearing in place of the overalls she usually wore in the garage. "I'd hate to get any grease or anything on my robe or fur."

The Kwisle looked at each other and did something that vaguely resembled a shrug. "'Kay. Cwes weady?"

"Yeah, I guess…" Cles replied hesitantly.

The Krisle nodded, got into a loose circle around her and then leaned their heads back as they began what could only be referred to as wordlessly singing. The song the Krisle's voices spun spanned the entirety of Cles' hearing range, mixing and twisting into a beautiful tapestry of sound unlike anything she had ever heard before. Within moments her eyes were half-closed as the song filled the Fa'lur with a feeling of serene peacefulness as if she where floating in a pool of warm water while being given a massage.

From where he was sitting upside down on the floor KITT watched, his sensors recording everything so he could prove he wasn't malfunctioning when he reported this to Bonnie. A moment after the 'Kwisle' began their song the one that had run out returned with about twenty more. When they had all entered the building the Krisle in the lead turned to face the gathered Krisle and 'spoke' to them in what sounded like a combination of very bad English mixed with what KITT's sensors recorded as bursts of patterned high and low frequency ultrasonic sound scattered like words throughout the broken sentences.

When the Krisle finished speaking the group scattered across the garage, each small group doing a task. As KITT watched, the Krisle gathered the items scattered across the garage floor, sorted the tools from the parts, and then ran around the garage placing some of the tools in toolboxes or hanging them on the wall, while others were placed neatly on tool carts sitting against the walls at regular intervals.

Every few minutes one of the groups of Krisle would run over to Cles and begin to sing with the two groups there; then one of the groups that had already been there would stop singing, run to where the group that had relieved them had been and start doing the task they had been doing. In this way the Krisle made sure that their 'music' never stopped while they worked.

Sometime later a group of larger creatures that vaguely looked like the Krisle entered the garage. They looked around for a moment before a Krisle waved at them jabbering. The group walked over to the smaller creature, rumbled a response in the same bad English, although mixed with only low frequency subsonic sounds, then walked across the garage and worked together to pick up one of the large items the Krisle had not been able to move and carried it over to place it where the Krisle pointed.

Suddenly a Krisle carrying a large socket happened to looked over at the car as it passed in front of KITT and just stopped; the only movement from the little creature was its head moving back and forth. After several minutes of this KITT was getting slightly put off by the intense scrutiny and becoming more than a little nervous at the rapt expression on the Krisle's face. Another Krisle ran up to the first, jabbering something; when the first Krisle didn't respond it looked over at KITT, too, and promptly began imitating the first.

A moment later, one of the larger Krisle came up behind the little ones, looked from them to KITT and back before rolling its eyes and putting its head between them and KITT. The little Krisle fell on their butts, grabbed their heads and moaned before whimpering something that sounded like 'light hurt Kwisle head' right before the large Krisle turned to glare at KITT hostilely.

The large Krisle spun on its axis as its tail swung out to slam into KITT's senor light hard enough to cause Kitt to rock back and forth on his roof. KITT reviewed the readings he got from the impact, ran a diagnostic on his sensors and then reviewed the readings again when it came back clear. "Oh, dear…"

All of the Krisle's heads popped up; the three in front of KITT turned to stare at the car as the rest jerked their heads side to side trying to find the source of the unknown voice they had heard. "Who say dat?"

"I did." KITT answered and the three that were closest began looking through his windows.

"Oh," the Krisle looked at each other as larger one tried to open the door. "Who is, 'I did'?"

KITT's CPU nearly locked into a loop as he tried to decipher the meaning of their question and decide how and if he should answer it. Finally he came to a decision as one of the group of large Krisle climbed on to his underside. "I am the Knight Industries Two Thousand, but most people refer to me as KITT…"

"Oh. Where… Ki-Ki-Kip?" the Krisle's face clearly showed its struggle to pronounce the unfamiliar word.

"My name is KITT," The annoyed AI almost growled, "and I am right here in the car!"

"Where he-ur?" asked the Krisle as they continued to look for the person they were talking to. One reached up and tapped the trunk lid. "He-ur in twunk?"

"No, I'm a part of the car…" KITT growled as he prepared his defense systems to shock the large Krisle that was now sticking its head into the engine compartment as it looked for the source of the voice. "Now, if you don't mind, would one of you please tell your friend standing on me to get his head out of my engine and get off of me before I am forced to shock him?"

The Krisle gathered around KITT, looked up at the creature standing on KITT, and then shook their heads. "That no friend, that Gar! What 'sock'?"

"What does socks have to… oh, never mind." KITT groaned. "Just get him down."

The Krisle tilted their heads and looked at the car. "But what 'sock' mean?"

"Fine, but remember that I did warn you…" KITT ran a quick calculation on the size to voltage ratio for the 'Gar' then set his defense systems accordingly and sent a small charge through his body with unexpected results.

The Gar squealed in pain. Its head pulled back slightly then snapped down into the engine compartment with a roar, its jaws slicing chucks out of the two bundles of wires and the fan belt it had been touching so fast that KITT didn't have time to realize what was about to happen and initialize another shock before it was too late.

As KITT switched the systems that were affected by the damage over to their backups, he watched the Gar spit the wire and rubber it had in its mouth onto the floor and glare into the engine compartment before slipping its head back into it. The Gar hesitatingly touched each of the bundles of wires and the fan belts, then grinned and nodded its head when it didn't get another shock. "Bugs dead. Hear KITT, no see KITT. Bugs hurt KITT?"

"Bugs?" KITT huffed indignantly at the suggestion. "I have never had any bugs… I would never allow someone to place a foreign device on me and I'll have you know that my program has never had any defects what so ever, thank you very much!"

"Then what bite Gar?" The Gar said looked around the inside of the compartment; it could hear KITT's voice coming from somewhere in there but couldn't locate the person making it. "Why KITT hide fwom Gar?"

"Nothing bit you; I gave you a shock because you have your head inside of my engine compartment," KITT said in exasperation. "Now will you please take your head out and get off of me!"

"Gar inside you…" the Gar blinked then a look of understanding spread across its face. "KITT like Psymon!"

"I know I probably don't want to know but… who or what is Psymon?"

"That would be me!" Psymon said, using KITT's speakers.

"What… Who are you and how did you get into my system? Hey, leave that alone and get out of my system! You're not allowed in here!" KITT yelled as his doors popped open and his headlights came on.

"I'm the Knight Industries Prototype of a personal assistant program designated Programmable SYstem Management Operating Network version 1.0 beta or Psymon… now who are you and why were you were trying to get into *my* system?"

"I'm the Knight Industries Two Thousand or KITT, and I was trying to re-establish contact with either my partner or home base…" KITT was cut off before he could finish what he was saying.

"You're a Knight Industries AI, too? That must mean you're my brother…" Psymon giggled manically. "Gimme a hug, bro!"

"What are you talking about?! Hey, get out of that… no leave that alone, too… what do you think you are doing … Leave *my* programming alone, you fragmented *lunatic*…"

"Relax bro, just trying to give you an avatar option like me… trust me, it's a lot more fun when you're more than some freaky lines!"

"I'm not your bro!" KITT yelped. "And I don't want or need an avatar…"

As the two AI continued their 'discussion' the Krisle looked at each other, shrugged and went back to work as they quickly lost interest in the bickering pair.

"And stay out!" KITT yelled a few moments later; however, by that time the Krisle were no longer paying enough attention to him to see what was going on.

When the song finally stopped Cles' eyes snapped open, and as she looked around her jaw dropped in surprise when she saw that while the damage was still there the tools, parts and other assorted items that had been strewn across the floor had been returned to their proper place, or if said place was part of the damage, was stacked on the tool carts against the wall. Cles blinked deliberately several times before trying to stand then cursed as spikes of pain raced up her legs, and nearly caused her to fall over as circulation was returned to them. Cles bent over and rubbed at her legs while she silently cursed until the pins and needles slowly began to fade.

"Cwes, 'kay now? No hurt?" the Krisle's voice was different than before so Cles assumed it was a different one than she had spoken to earlier.

Cles looked at the group of Krisle that stood a few feet away for a moment before nodding. "Yeah, I'm fine… Thank you."

"Kwisle happy Cwes no hurt." The Krisle's smiles practically beamed with childlike joy as they turned and started for the door. "Kwisle go sweep now… sing make Kwisle very sweepy."

"Have a nice nap, guys…" Cles watched as the small group started to trudge out of her garage in single file only to be met halfway to the door by a group of Gar that picked up the tired looking group and carried them away. After the last of them were out of sight Cles shook her head with a whistle of amusement, looked at the clock hanging over the door and felt her eyes bulge. She had been squatting there listening to the Krisle 'sing' for over two hours. <How the hell could I have been squatting there for two hours without noticing it?>

"Oh well," Cles shrugged as she finally gave up trying figure out how she had been there so long, then shook her head and snorted, "at least they got rid of my headache."

"Excuse me, madam… could we have a word with you?"

Tease looked up and frowned at the two men standing beside the table. "Sorry boys, but I'm not interested! As you should be able to see I've already got someone right now, so take a hike!"

"Huh?" Mike and Danny looked at her blankly for a moment, and then started to look more than a little embarrassed. After a moment to regain his composure Danny cleared his throat and "That wasn't what we wanted to talk to you about... we came in with a friend; we were hoping you could help us find out where she is?"

"Huh?" Tease looked them over carefully. Finally spotting the badges on their belts, she smirked up at them with an air of smug pleasure. "Oh, let me guess, you're the cops that all but called my pop a bigot last night! In that case, and given your choice of drink, I would check with the desk clerk... depending on the amount she had to drink and her usual level of sexual activity, you could probably just ask for the room with the most people in it..."

"What the *hell* was in those drinks?!" Mike growled taking a step towards the young woman then froze as everyone sitting at the surrounding tables stood up glaring at the two detectives hostilely.

"Mike, I do not think getting into a bar brawl is he proper way to end a night as good as the one I had last night," Danny muttered at his partner as he looked over the group surrounding them. "So if you get our asses kicked now, I will kick your ass myself once we get out of the hospital!"

"No violence allowed in the club, guys!" Tease reminded the freshly off-duty security team in a pointed tone.

"No problem, ma'am..." the team leader said swiveling his head once to loosen his neck, "we'll just have to take them outside before we kick their candy asses."

"Fine," Tease rolled her eyes in exasperation, "let me re-phrase that last statement. Stand down! Now is that clear enough for you?"

"Yes, ma'am," the team leader said as he sat down again, looking none too happy about it. He and the rest of his team kept throwing hostile looks at Mike as Danny started towards the hotel desk after giving Mike a look of warning.

"Now, you should have been told what was in the drink when you ordered, but to answer your question, officer;" Tease leaned back and began tracing symbols on the chest of man she was lounging on. "Succubus Kiss is a mixed drink that contains fruit punch, 7-up and essence of succubi."

"That's what they said last night," Mike growled, crossing his arms and glowering at the young woman "Now I what I would like to know is just *what* is essence of succubi?"

"Just what it sounds like--the essence extracted from a succubi." Tease growled at the tone the cop had taken with her, her eyes narrowing at the look of superiority and disbelief the cop gave her when she said that. "Fine, just remember you asked for this: essence of succubae is a mixture of the saliva, sweat and 'secretions' of a succubus that has been purified, processed and distilled properly to create a smaller amount of liquid that still contains the original amount of the donor's... well for lack of a better term for it,that *you* would understand at least, let's just stick with calling it 'essence' as was in the original amount of 'harvested'."

Mike looked more than slightly ill as he rasped, "Are you telling me that you got us sloshed on..."

"First off, we didn't do anything to you except warn you not to order from that section of the menu so if you are unhappy with the results you have only yourself to blame..." Tease said curtly, cutting him off mid-sentence then smiled sweetly as she tilted her head and batted her eyelashes at him. "And secondly, you were not 'sloshed'; essence of succubi does not have an inebriating affect on humans. While it lowers or removes your inhibitions and places you in an aroused state it does not affect your judgment..."

"Yeah, right!" Harrigan snapped jerking his thumb in the direction of the door. "If that's true then how do you explain the thing with all the horns and leathery hide I woke up with?"

"Why ask me? You were the one that hooked up with her, so you must have found 'something' about her attractive!" Tease chuckled, shaking her head at his attempt to pass the buck. "Like I said, it affects your inhibitions, not judgment or reason. You still know right from wrong and all that, so your not gonna rape the first female you see, unless you're a rapist by nature that is. You're not going to hurt someone without either their permission or a very good reason, and you're not going to jump into the sack with a person you hate or have no interest in just because they put the moves on you... although if you'd been a repressed homosexual you might woken up to a big surprise."

Harrigan stood there, an unreadable expression on his face as his mouth opened and closed with no sound coming out. After a moment of this the large black man, closed his eyes, shook his head and went to join his partner at the hotel desk.

"What does their level of sexual activity have to do with anything...?" Reno asked quietly while keeping a close eye on the retreating officer.

"Oh, well you see, drinking the 'essence' of another creature allows a human, to some extent, take on the characteristics of some of the more human-like species for a short time. Hell, if you overdose you can become stuck part-way, or even all the way, as the being whose essence you drank; that's why the drinks like Succubus Kiss are in the restricted section..." Tease giggled and shook her head. "Succubi are creatures of sex, their existence is almost defined it, so if the person drinking their essence is 'repressed' the succubusessence working it's way through their system will think they are starving and make them want to feed, and the more 'repressed' you are the greater the need you feel to deal with the situation..."

"Okay..." Reno said nodding slowly in the way of all people that didn't understand a word the other person said but aren't sure that they want to.

"Thanks..." Danny said as he turned from the desk clerk and motioned Mike to follow him into the hotel.

"Find anything, Danny-boy?" Pointedly ignoring the looks some people where giving them as they entered the hotel together.

"Yeah, Leona checked out a room last night..." Danny said holding up with a number written on it as he started up the hotel's stairs with a concerned expression. "According to the guy at the desk she was with about six other guys..."

"Shit!" Harrigan balled up his fists and growled. "If they so much as touched her I'm gonna kill'em..."

"Yeah, right..." Danny snorted at his partners reflexive statement "I'd be more worried about what Leona's gonna do, if I was them!"

Mike blinked considering his partner's statement, and then chuckled. "You got a point there..."

Once they reached the right floor the detectives started following the room numbers, they had just reached the right room when they heard a familiar voice cry out inside. Without hesitation Harrigan reacted instinctively to hearing a fellow officer cry out, foot coming up and slamming into the door beside the knob, forcing the door open, revealing its inhabitant to the detectives.

Mike and Danny's eyes bulged and their jaws dropped at the sight that greeted them on the other side of that open door. The partners stood frozen like that for a moment, then a bottle flew past their heads and smashed against the wall behind them accompanied by a stream of curses. Danny and Mike reacted at the same time one dodging to the side as the other, grabbed the door's handle and managed to pull it closed just in time to hear something solid collide with the other side.

Letting go of the doorknob and backing away from the door with an embarrassed expression, Danny looked at Mike. "You know, I could have gone a few more years without seeing... and still lived a happy life."

Mike blinked a few times then gave Danny a worried look. "Did you just see...?"

"Yep..." Danny shook his head as the threats and curses coming from that room, most of which seemed to be aimed in Mike's direction.

"Was she...?" Mike finished the question with a gesture.

Danny snorted in amusement at Mike's reaction to the situation. "Yep..."

Harrigan's eyes bugged slightly. "How did she...?"

"I have no idea..." Danny said as he started back the way he had come.

"Was he...?" Mike started, when he caught up to his partner, only to have Danny cut him off.

"Do you mind," Danny growled giving his partner a pointed glare. "I'm trying to forget everything I know about him... before I start to develop an inferiority complex."

"And you had better hope he's still there when I arrive or I swear by all that's holy I will do everything in my power to make sure that your next budget allotment will make a public school teacher's salary look *good*!!!" Dragan yelled into the cell phone, and then threw it at the wall shattering it. The ancient mercenary turned and glared at the people gathered in his office, silently daring any of them to comment on his behavior.

"Dragan, is something the matter?" Devon asked carefully.

"It seems that a contact of mine that is usually very reliable has just made a rather large fuck up, Devon. So I have to step up my timetable a bit, 'cause I need to get out of here ASAP or there is going to be trouble." That said, Dragan turned to Makael, "Plans changed round up your team and send them to the Ops armory to get prepped; we're leaving in less than an hour."

"Ah, excuse me," Michael Knight said to catch the others' attention, "not to be rude or anything but does anyone feel like letting those of us sitting in the normal section, in on what's going on?"

"No." Dragan snapped as he turned towards the ex-cop and gave him a look that all but said 'are you insane?' before taking the large handgun Kahr'l held out to him.

"Okay, you could have just said it's none of my business…" Michael groused then shrugged at the look Devon gave him. "I'm sorry but I can't help wondering about anything that involves people saying the words 'Ops' and 'armory'."

"Really Michael," Devon shook his head with a long suffering sigh, "we must find the time to have a little chat about a thing called tact."

"Damn it, I almost forgot…" Dragan turned from pulling Draca out of his office wall and glared at Lilith. "I still have to decide what I'm gonna do about you!"

"How about nothing…" Lilith smirked and cocked her head.

"You know I can't do that, Lilith…" Dragan growled, glaring at his daughter angrily. "I specifically said that the next time I saw you, you were going…"

"…to die, I know" Lilith said, grinning impishly at her father. "Just give me a half hour with my fiancé and I will… maybe even twice."

"Huh?" Dragan looked at her blankly for a moment before his eyes widened in understanding and a deep blush started to spread across his face. Dragan's mouth opened and closed without sound several times before he was able to get out an indignant yell. "THAT was not what I meant *and* you know it!"

"Really, are you sure? I mean you never specified which of the possible meanings of 'to die', you were planning to use." Lilith tilted her head with a thoughtful expression. "Well, either way you should have been more precise when you made your threat; because that is the interpretation I'm choosing to go by…"

Snowleo looked between his sibling and his father with a confused expression, sniffed the air, blinked and then coughed to cover his discomfort. "…that has to be the strangest thing I've ever heard that called."

Dragan glared at Michael in annoyance, when he realized the Archangel had burst out laughing.

"What?" Michael Knight asked a slightly confused expression on his face.



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