Introduction and Chapter One


A snake slithered on the ground, past the many corpses, through the puddles of multi-colored blood. None if the dead were normal, as most had different colored skin or body shape. All were mutants, and few looked like humans. The snake slithered to where two figures, a man and a woman, were standing, stopping at the feet of the man.

A moment later, where the snake had stopped, a young woman was standing. She was pale, sweaty, and blood streaked, though none was her own. The man looked at this young woman, the fire of battle burning in his eyes. They stood in silence for a couple moments, and then he broke the silence.

“The enemy?” His voice had an intense hatred burning in it, and his tone was short.

“All dead, or dying,” the young woman reported. She glanced down at the figure lying beside her, and let out a cry of dismay. She dropped to her knees and grabbed the corpse’s hand. “Danae!” she said, feverishly searching for a pulse. Finding none, she brought the hand to her lips and gently kissed it.

“She’s gone, Septi,” the woman said, kneeling beside her. A pair of white, feathery wings stuck out of her back and the way her blond hair, which was cut in a bob, shone in the light she looked like her namesake, like an Angel.

“Mourning is for the weak,” the man said coldly.

“Steppe, let her mourn,” Angel said, rising. “Danae was a wonderful woman and an excellent fighter.”

“Danae was a rebel,” he said, the anger still in his voice. “She deserved what she got.”

“You could have stopped her death, though,” Septi said, standing. “She was no more a rebel than I! You were fighting beside her! You could have- should have saved her!” Grief choked Septi, and her eyes were filled with tears. Angel gently hugged her in a motherly fashion. Steppe drew a fist back and punched Angel’s neck. A sickening snap filled the air, and Septi fell with the weight of the dead woman on top of her.

“You don’t get it, do you, Septifiria?” he whispered, a deadly stillness in his voice. “I save no one. I kill when I want, and if I feel like it…. Well, you wind up like Angel.” Septi laid still, tears coursing down her face.

“You killed your own deputy,” she said hoarsely, sobs racking her body. “You are nothing but a murderer.”

“And a proud one at that,” he sneered. He then turned on his heal and walked away, just as sirens pierced the night sky. Septi shifted into a snake, and left the area just as police started to swarm the area.


Renee sighed, tapping her pen against the page of the notebook. She was anxious to get out. She wanted desperately to move, to live. Not sit through yet another lecture. She glanced around, and let her gaze settle on Aconitom James; a tall boy, with cheek length black hair, and large black eyes. She allowed her mind to slip off the lecture, and onto him. Then she felt a sharp jab in her ribs. Jerking around she saw the guilty party, her friend, Jade Smith.

Jade raised an eyebrow, and glanced pointedly at Aconitom. Jade stabbed her own notepad with a pencil, drawing Renee’s attention to a note, which said, ‘You like him?’’. Renee gave a barely perceptible nod, and glanced back to the professor. Jade, however, shook her head and scratched an abrupt reply. ‘Don’t’ . Renee sighed slightly as she glanced at the clock and then down at the notepad.

Why? Renee wrote on her own notebook. Jade hesitated for a couple of seconds, then began to write really, really fast.

Because he’s a HUGE flirt. And a complete & total lying, cheating jerk. He’ll use whatever he can to get what he wants with you. You do NOT want to go anywhere hear him. Understand?

What? How do you know this?

I just know, okay? Promise you won’t get involved with him, please?’

‘And why should I?’

‘Because I’m your friend. Please, promise me.’

‘Fine. I’ll try to avoid him.’ With that Renee tried to turn her attention back to the lecture, but Jade’s warnings, and evasiveness, were making her wonder. What IS Jade’s problem with Aconitom? She thought. Just then the class was dismissed, and she swung out of her seat, ready to escape. Once outside Jade muttered something about needing to get a Coke and vanished, leaving Renee alone in the courtyard of the collage when Aconitom approached her.

“Hey!” He said, flashing a white smile. “It’s Renee, right?” She nodded, wondering why he was talking to her. “I’m Nito,” he added, offering a hand. She delicately placed a gloved hand in his, and they shook.

“And you apparently know who I am. How?” She asked, raising a pencil thin eyebrow. “We’ve never spoken.”

“Oh, everyone knows who everyone is in their class, and we’ve been in classes together for years,” he said, waving a hand airily. She stared at him piercingly, Jade’s warning still fresh on her mind. “Anyways, I was thinking, I’d like to get to know you better. So, would you like to go out somewhere with me? Maybe coffee, or dinner, or something?” Renee realized she was staring at him, and quickly looked away, spotting Jade on the other side of the courtyard.

“Sure. When?” A sudden recklessness seizing her, and she watched Jade closely, watching for some reaction. Jade didn’t disappoint her either. When she saw Renee talking to Nito, her eyes widened, and she stopped dead half-way across the courtyard.

“Are you free tonight?” he asked. “I mean, if you’re busy, it’s no problem. We can pick another night.”

“No, no,” Renee said, smiling slightly. “Tonight’s fine. It’s probably the only evening I have off for the next two weeks.”

“Great. Would you mind if I picked you up, or would you rather I meet you there?” Jade, who was within earshot shook her head furiously.

“What time would you pick me up?” Jade sighed angrily, and stormed off.

“Let’s say…. Five-ish sound good?”

“That works. Um, would you like directions to my place?”

“Yeah, it might help,” he chuckled. “Where would you like to go?”

“I really don’t care. Anywhere but Mexican,” Renee said, rummaging around in her bag, trying desperately to find a pen and paper. Finally finding them, she tugged a page loose from her notebook. Scratching down her address and handing him the paper she asked, “Do you know where this is?” Nito took one look at it.

“Yeah, I live about fifteen minutes away,” he said with another smile. “What would you say about going to that new Applebees?” Renee laughed lightly.

“Sounds wonderful,” she brushed a loose strand of hair off her face. “So I’ll see you five-ish?”

“Yeah,” Nito smiled, tucking the paper with her address into his pocket. “See you later!” he turned and walked away, and bumped into Jade, who came storming up.

“Nito,” Jade said icily, flipping her hair. Nito tensed slightly.

“Jade, how have you been?” he asked, sounding slightly strained.

“Very well, actually. You?” She asked, an anger burning in her eyes. Her arms were crossed and her jaw was set in a look that Renee was all too familiar with.

“Excellent,” he smiled at her and stepped away. “I’ll see you later, Renee. Jade.” He added, just as icily as Jade.

“Nito,” Jade turned her attention and wrath upon Renee as he walked off. “What the crap do you think you’re doing?! You can’t….I’m not…HE’S A JERK!” She was really wound up.

“Jade, calm down!” Renee said. “Look, I don’t know what your problem is with him, and you refuse to tell me. What am I supposed to do?”

“What I have against HIM?!” Jade asked, ludicrously. “You don’t know, do you? No, that was before you moved here. Oh, gods.” She ran her fingers through her hair. “Alright. I’ll tell you what’s wrong with that…that….insufferable, little, barbaric âne!”

“Jade!” Renee said, shocked by the name and nervous about what Jade may have hidden from her for the four years they had known each other. “Why don’t you tell me on the way home?” Renee shifted her bag, and lead the way to her car. When they were on the road, Jade started speaking.

“You moved here when we were fourteen. That was after my involvement with Nito. For a short time during the summer I turned four-teen, Nito and I went out. He was so sweet to me, and everything was awesome until I found him cheating on me. All because I refused point blank to even let him kiss me on the lips, he got tired of me quickly, and I caught him with another…girl… though chien would be a better name for her.” Jade said viciously. Her jaw muscles were working furiously and tears of anger and hatred were pouring down her face, which showed nothing but betrayal and hurt. “We broke up about a month before I met you. And to be quite honest, I ditched Nito. I had a very hard time that summer.” Tears were streaming down Jade’s face. “That’s why I didn’t want you to let Nito near you; because he hurt me so bad. Are you happy you know?” Renee took a hand off the steering wheel, and gently squeezed Jade’s upper arm. Jade was shaking with suppressed sobs. “Renee, please, DO NOT date him. Please?” She asked, pleadingly, choking on suppressed tears.

“I won’t date him, if that’s your only reason.” Renee said with a slight bit of doubt in her very tone.

“What do you mean, my only reason?” Jade asked, tired, but a hint of anger in her voice.

“I mean that I think you still like Nito.” Jade gave a little laugh of disbelief.

“You think I….I like Nito still? Are you crazy?”

“No, I’m quite sane, thank you.” Renee said, a small smile playing on her lips. “And I think that by your reaction, we can safely say that one of the reasons you don’t want me to get to know Nito is because you’re jealous of him.”

Me?! Jealous?! Now, wait just a minute…!”

“No, I won’t. Jade, you’re over reacting if you DON’T still like him.”

“What? This is ridiculous!”

“Is it, Jade?” Renee turned into Jade’s driveway. Jade swung out of the car. She looked at Renee for a split second, like she wanted to say something, then she flounced away, without a word. As Renee pulled out of the driveway, she slammed the house door so hard that Renee felt vibrations.

Walking into to her room after a work out at the YMCA, Renee hastily dropped her school books on her desk, then looked around. The bed was tidily made, with stacks of clothes tossed unceremoniously on it. Her desk was a landslide of papers, for both school and her job; as a kidnapper and a higher ranking officer for the VI4C, she had a lot of things to take care of.

She had about a half an hour until Nito was supposed to pick her up and she knew she should be looking for something to wear. Normally, she’d call Jade, who would come over and help her, but Jade had seemed to be just a bit mad at her. ‘Besides, I don’t need Jade’s help,’ she thought, looking through the stack of clothes on the bed.

“How is it humanly possible to have a closet full of clothes, and still have NOTHING to wear?” She asked in awe, straightening up and crossing the floor to open her closet. Finally she settled on a nice top and a favorite pair of blue jeans, and hurriedly dressed. She had showered at the gym, and her hair was finally dry.

Looking in the mirror at herself, she realized that her hair was a mess- knotted, and falling out of the untidy braid it was in. She hastily undid it and brushed it out. Deciding to leave it down, she gave one last look at her reflection, and turning away she opened her jewelry box and pulled out a delicate necklace. A small, silver, heart-shaped pendant; it was the only thing she had left of her father, who had died when she was only two.

As she was fastening the delicate chain of the necklace around her pale throat, her mother tapped on the door of the room.

“Renee, there’s a charmant young man downstairs,” Desiree Carl said in heavily accented English, opening the door and stepping into the room.

“Quelle heure est-il?! (What time is it?!)” Renee asked, whipping around.

“Quatre cinquante. Fille, se conduire, s’il vous plait? (Four till five. Daughter, behave, please ?)”

“Don’t I always?” Renee asked, reverting to English. She picked up her purse and quickly hugged her mother. “I should be back by eleven, at the absolute latest. I’ll let myself in, so there’s no need for you to stay up waiting.”

“Alright,” Desiree smiled at her. “Have fun.” Rene smiled as she left the room. Hurrying down the steps, she found Nito in the living room.

“Hey, Nito. Sorry about the wait,” she said, stopping in the doorway of the room. “I didn’t realize you were here already.”

“Hey, it was no problem,” he said with a small smile. “You look gorgeous, by the way.”

“Thanks,” Renee said blushing slightly. “Shall we go, then….?”

“Yeah,” Nito slipped past her and opened the door. “After you, Renee.” She smiled at him, as she passed. He stepped past her once more and opened her car door as well.

“Thanks again,” she said, slipping in. “You’re quite a gentleman.”

“Yeah, I guess I am,” he said with a slight laugh. “My mom used to insist that I do that for ladies.” Renee smiled and buckled in.

When they got to Applebees, he opened the car door once more for her. Offering her a hand, he bowed with a flourish, pretending to doff a hat. Assuming a faux British accent, he spoke.

“My lady, right this way,” he said. Renee laughed lightly taking the hand he offered and slipping out of the car gracefully.

“Merci beaucoup, genre monsieur,” she said, sliding her hand out of his. He smiled slightly and lead the way into the restaurant. When they were seated, he spoke again.

“Renee, it’s my treat,” he informed her, as they were seated. “Go ahead and order whatever you like.” She smiled at him.

“Oh no, Nito, I’ll pay for my own,” She protested. “You don’t have to do that!”

“No, it’s my treat,” he insisted. “I’ll never make a woman I take out, girlfriend or otherwise, pay for her own meal. Besides, it wouldn’t be a treat if I were forced to.”

“Are you sure?” Renee asked, giving him a piercing blue stare.

“I’m positive,” he said, meeting her gaze easily. Renee sighed, and looked away.

“Alright. If it makes that much of a difference, then you pay.” She sighed, glancing at the menu. “Although, you know, some people would say that you’re sexist for insisting.”

“Let them say what they like about me,” He said, staring her down, his fingers in a tepee, over his nose. “People are always talking. Surely you would know that.” Renee laughed softly.

“You don’t know the half of it,” She said with a sad smile, her thoughts flying back to France. Several times she had been attacked because a person had found her secret and informed the police squad specifically for the capture and control of mutants. Sighing, Renee shook away the memories of her persecution in France.

“Renee, you alright?” Nito asked, staring at her with concern on his face. “You zoned out on me.”

“I’m fine. Sorry, I was just thinking about my home….” She trailed off, very aware that she had his undivided attention.

“You looked like you saw a mad ax-man standing behind me. You must have some scary thoughts if the look on your face was anything to go by.”

“Mad ax-men I can handle. Some memories, not so much,” Renee sighed and decided to change the subject. “So, what are you getting?”

“To eat?” Nito looked a little surprised, but he changed tracks pretty quickly. “I was thinking about getting a rack of ribs.”

“Hm, that sounds really good,” Renee said, closing her menu. Just then the waitress came for their orders. When she was gone, Nito started asking Renee questions about herself.

“So, what do you like to do?”

“Well, ” Renee said carefully. “I like to swim and I read a little bit, and I enjoying hanging out with my friends, and listen to music.”

“You keep busy, don’t you?”

“Yeah,” Renee sighed. “I haven’t done much recently though, because between school and my job, I just don’t have the time.”

“So, what do you do?”

“I’m afraid I can’t tell you,” Renee said, her voice taught.  “It’s rather delicate work, and if anyone outside knew of it…” She paused there, and an awkward silence fell for a couple moments.

“Alright, so it’s all hush-hush.” Nito said

“Yeah,” Renee laughed abruptly. “Sorry.”

“That’s alright. So, what kind of music do you like?”

“Well, I mainly listen to pop, but I’m okay with everything.” She noticed that Nito winced when she specified the genre. “You don’t like it?”

“Not really. Then again, I mainly listen to rock so….”

“So what do you like to do?”

“Hang out. I do play some video games on a regular basis.” It was Renee’s turn to wince. “You don’t like video games, do you?”

“Not really, no. I have better things to do with my time.” They were interrupted by the arrival of their food. They didn’t talk much as they ate, and they finished their meal quickly. After Nito paid the bill, he came around, and offered Renee a hand again.

“So, while the night’s still young, would you like to go see a movie?” he asked, not relinquishing his grip on her hand, even though she was standing.

“That sounds like fun,” Renee said, trying to think of a way to politely remove her hand from his.

“Excellent,” he said releasing her hand, but wrapping his arm around her shoulders in its place. Feeling her well muscled upper body, he spoke again, both his voice and his face betraying surprise. “You’re really fit.”

Renee’s lips twitched and it was hard for her to maintain eye contact. It took her a couple seconds before she could speak. Shrugging his arm off of her shoulders, she spoke in a low voice.

“I kind of have to be for my job,” She said, giving up on her attempts to make eye contact.

“Must be quite some job,” he commented, opening the door for her.

“Oh, believe me, it is,” she said seriously.

“I don’t doubt you,” he said, opening her car door for her. “So what movie do you want to see?”

“I really don’t know what’s out there. I’ve been busy, remember?”

“With the mystery job, of course. How could I forget?” She laughed.

“Exactly.” She smiled, and they left the restaurant. Once at the theater, she skimmed the list of movies released recently. “Let’s see Thr3e.” She said, quietly. She had read the book, which was really good. He smiled down at her.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, Nito, I’m positive,” she said, falsely patient. Flashing him a wide smile, she slipped up to the ticket booth and promptly bought two tickets. Handing one to Nito, she added, “That’s for paying for my meal.”

“That was a… good movie,” Renee said, as they walked out of the movie theater. Nito nodded, his mind apparently elsewhere. “I had a lot of fun tonight. Thanks for suggesting it.”

“I’m glad you were able to,” he said, climbing into his car. They didn’t speak on the way back home. “Would you like to do it again with me, sometime?”

“Sure,” she said, turning to face him. Unfastening her belt, she started to get out, when she felt Nito’s hand on her shoulder. “What?” instead of answering her, Nito leaned in and kissed her swiftly on the cheek. She smiled slightly, as she got out, and she nearly skipped to the door.

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