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by Craig Rettig

To see
To bleed
Cannot be taught
In turn
You're making us
F*cking hostile
Pantera F*cking Hostile

Alex looked at the clock as he walked into his apartment from work. 9:15 it read. Alex slumped down in his easy chair and sighed. The last week or so had been rough. He'd been out every night looking for traces of Shiva's bomb, coming up with no results. Then he catches a news broadcast at work that the entire affair had been wrapped up by someone who's name he couldn't remember. God, life sucks.

At least his knee was almost back to one hundred percent. No permanent damage had been done, probably got twisted when Dvorak was tossing him around his office. That was another loose end to wrap up. Dvorak needed taken down, and hard. Alex shuddered, thinking he may have to kill Dvorak to stop him. Alex wasn't weak-hearted by any stretch, but he had never killed before either. Alex wondered if he would have the strength to do it if it came down to that.

First things were first, though. Dvorak had relocated, since burning down his old office, trying to finish Alex off and cover his own tail. Alex had seen Dvorak's stooges around though. They had moved to the "Over the Rhine" part of Cincy, a really rough part of town. Rumor had it that white people weren't allowed down there after dark, and those that were should be avoided. However, not every person can form inanimate objects out of their mind, either, Alex thought to himself. "I think I'll take a short nap and pay those dudes a little visit," Alex spoke aloud, for no particular reason. Smiling to himself, Alex reclined the chair and dozed off.

The night air was cool, and the wind whipped Alex's jacket wide open as he walked down West McMillan Street. Alex shivered slightly, but didn't mind as the cold air was waking him back up, and re-sharpening his senses. Alex reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a fresh pack of Marlboros. Holding the pack up to his chest, he tapped lightly on the top of it with his Omega, firmly packing the tobacco. It wasn't so much for show anymore, the cigarettes just did pack better and more evenly that way. The only problem was watching for anyone else spotting him. Oh well, small price to pay for one of life's little pleasures, Alex thought to himself.

Alex pulled out a cigarette and lit it, inhaling deeply. The sharp smoke mixing with the cool air created a mildly pleasureable sensation in Alex's mind. Suddenly, a horn jarred his attention. He looked over and saw a great-looking brunette standing in the middle of the street, probably she was jaywalking, and a large Cadillac barreling down on her. The girl had froze, much like a deer on the highway. Alex jumped out and grabbed her, tripping in the process.

Alex went down hard, but lashed out with his power, right into the front of the car, splitting the front end open and bringing it to a sharp halt. "SH*T!" Alex cursed, not meaning to hit the car that hard. He picked up the girl and ran her across the street, the whole time looking in the car, wondering if the driver had seen him display his power.

The car door opened and a well-dressed woman stumbled out, uninjured due to the airbag opening on impact. She looked around and saw Alex and the girl staring at her from the side of the street. "Whot the F*CK!" she screamed in a thick Cockney accent. "Look whot you did to my car!"

Alex realized he didn't have his makeup on, since he didn't want to attract attention while walking down the street. He tapped the girl he'd saved on the back, saying, "Are you okay?" As she nodded her head, he ran off, yelling, "Look before crossing okay? Sorry about the car, ma'am!"

The woman stood there, pissed-off not even close to describing her feelings. Some of the people on the street had gathered, asking if she needed help or not. "You could've 'elped by grabbing that a**'ole that f*cked my car up!" she yelled, strutting over to the BP on the corner. She dialed a number, followed by her AT&T code. "Yes, this is Charlotte Gillian, access code SK-09. I'm at the corner of West McMillan and...O'io Avenue. I need a car to pick me up...I think I 'ave a new insight on the UC garage affair. I'll fill you in when I get back to my 'otel."

Alex dropped to his feet behind a three-story grey house on West Clifton Avenue. Running full-sprint for four blocks had taken it's toll on Alex's out-of-shape body in addition to his already weakend knee. He propped his head against the building and closed his eyes for a second, only to open them again to the sound of someone yelling. A blonde- haired guy with a goatee and glasses was shouting at him. "Hey, buddy, go sleep it off somewhere else! Get the hell out of here!"

Alex rose slowly to his feet, not in the mood for a confrontation right at the moment. "Sorry, dude, just catching my breath, be gone in a second."

"I said, get the hell outta here and crash somewhere else!" the guy shouted firmly again.

"All right, all right. Geez," Alex said, reluctantly walking down the alley behind the house. Alex loved these UC students, they were always worried everyone else was going to steal their stuff, and didn't trust anyone. Then again, Alex realized he didn't have that much to steal, either.

Alex got to the end of the alley and turned right, walking down Warner. As he came up to the corner of Warner and Ravine, he saw that the Ravine Street Market was still open. Thirsty, he decided a 22-ouncer of something would really hit the spot. He walked in, and deciding on Rolling Rock, walked up to the counter.

"I.D. please," the clerk asked, on cue.

Alex reached back for his wallet, but his hands grabbed pocket lint instead. "That bitch!" he said, rather loudly. Growling, he grabbed the beer, put it back in the cooler, and stomped out, the clerk eyeing him suspiciously, albeit with a snide grin on his face.

Alex was now totally pissed. He'd risked discovery and his life to save a girl's life, and she stole his wallet while he was pulling her off the street. Alex lashed out with his Omega, crushing several garbage cans sitting on the sidewalk in front of him, making lots of noise in the process. Alex didn't care, though. He was too angry to care. It wasn't enough that he probably had an A.P.B. out on him right now, he had to walk four miles back to his apartment, and he was now totally broke, he was also too furious to go downtown to look for Dvorak's goons, so the night was totally wasted.

Alex finally reached his block, only having to tell one bum who asked him for spare change to sell a kidney. As he walked up to his back door, he stopped abruptly. There stood the girl he'd saved, one hand on her hip and the other holding out his wallet.

Before he could start cursing, she said, "Look, I'm sorry, okay? Force of habit."

Alex snatched his wallet, and after quickly checking to make sure everything was there, said, "Gee thanks. You do realize several minutes ago I was wishing I'd let you get crushed by that car, don't you?"

"Yeah, that was pretty low, even for me. I saw your address on your drivers license...nice picture, by the way...and figured I'd bring it back. That, and I saw what you did to that car..."

Alex swallowed hard. "Well, no problem. At least I got it back. Good night."

"You're not answering my question," she said, pouting her lips slightly. "See, I'm a thief simply for the thrill of it. I get off on thrills. You have power. Power excites me. Therefore, you excite me."

Alex wasn't used to proposals of this obvious a nature. That, and, based on her earlier actions, he didn't know whether to trust this girl or not. "Look," he said, "I really don't have that much else for you to steal."

"Don't insult me," she replied seriously. "If I had wanted your stuff, I'd have broken into your place already. You think that measily ten year-old deadbolt could keep me out?" As if on request, she pulled out a thin piece of metal, stuck it in the lock, twitched it around a bit, and then turned it, opening the door. "So, are you interested or not?"

"What the hell..." Alex said, shrugging slightly. "Lord knows, I've done dumber things in my time."

"Mmmm...flattery'll get you nowhere, Alex. By the way, my name's Rachel, but my friends call me Raven."

"So what do you want me to call you?"

Rachel giggled slightly. "Whatever you choose." As the two of them walked in the house, Alex shut the door. Rachel put her hands over Alex's shoulders and kissed him gently on the lips. "So, besides crushing cars, what else can you do?"

"Just wait and see."

Read to get the full scoop! Just kidding. Stay tuned and see what happens.

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