I watched as the fires stained the night sky with their fury and sighed. Screams filtered upwards from the building below as the fire collapsed sections of it. I casually produced a cigarette from my jacket and lit up, the ghost of a smile on my face.

"Well, we certainly rained hell upon them."

"Hell hath no fury like a pissed off vampyre."

Jax laughed his icy laugh and turned his gaze to the corpse at our feet.

"I am honestly stunned at how easy this was."

I ran a hand through my hair.

"Speak for yourself man. This shit was an absolute pain in my ass."

He shrugged easily and adjusted the sleeves on his coat, covering up the myriad of dark blue tattoos on his arm.

"For you maybe. For me this was incredibly easy."

"Bite me."

I could feel his cold gaze upon me.

"You realize what you just said, correct?"

I fixed him with my coldest glare.

"Yeah and no...I don't want you to literally bite me. Jackass."

The fires began to creep higher and higher up the building, stretching hungrily towards us.

"Do you think that Thomas survived?"

I flicked my cigarette off the side of the building.

"I hope so. Cause otherwise that fucker got off way too easy."

We sat in silence for a moment before a thought occurred to me.

"Wait. Why the hell are you still here? We both know you could get off this roof at any time."

He leaned against the wall next to me.

"Well yes, I could. But you could also leap off the building and hit the pavement below, stew there a moment and then resume your day-to-day life."


"Why don't you?"

"Because this shit still isn't done. I have faith in Jasper. He won't just leave us up here. If he understands what'll happen to him if I do have to jump off."

We returned to silence while the flames began to reach the roof and the building began to groan under its own weight.

"Something just occurred to me."

He focused his piercing gaze upon me.

"Exactly how did this shit storm even get started?"

I laughed and lit up another cigarette.

"I was wondering when your curiosity would take over."

He shrugged easily and turned his attention back to the flames.

"Well, you did drag me into this mess near the end, so I am dreadfully interested to see exactly how you set all of this bullshit up."

"Wasn't that hard actually. Just took a bit of gullibility on my part and a lot of people being assholes."

One Month Earlier

I collapsed onto my couch, eliciting an annoyed groan from its frame and propped my feet up on the coffee table before me. I clicked the tv on and stared mindlessly at the screen for a moment before shutting it back off and sighing. I could hear water against the roof of the abandoned warehouse I lived in and stood slowly, grabbing a large bucket from beside the couch and dragging it over to a spot I knew would leak.

I glanced up, and leapt the twenty foot or so distance towards the rafters and landed on a beam, balancing long enough to place the bucket on a cross beam and then allowed myself to fall back towards the ground.

Rain pounded against the steel roof, blocking out the sounds of the city for the moment. I moved to the fridge and opened it slowly before grabbing a pitcher marked "AB+." I poured some into a glass and fell back onto the couch, enjoying the momentary pause in the usual chaos that chases me around.

My name is Markus. At least it is now. I can't remember what my name was before and I honestly don't care. About a year ago I was attacked by a Psychic vampyre in an alleyway, and came remarkably close to death. Then for whatever reason, perhaps just to spite the psy-vamp, a Sanguine vampyre saved my life. Effectively turning me into the first cross breed between the two species in known history. The only thing that meant to me was that both courts wanted my ass on a platter...and yet both still came to me when their regular followers just weren't good enough.

The combination of the two strains of the disease that makes us vampyres what we are, made me stronger and faster than members of either side. The downside? I'm hyper sensitive to sunlight. Whereas the psy-vamps can dwell in sunlight and the sang-vamps can live for a few hours, I burn up in minutes. Hell, a uv lamp can burn my skin. Plus feeding both strains of the disease completely is a royal pain in the ass.

The upside? I can feed on other vampyres. That terrifies them like nothing I've ever seen before. And I like it that way.

I lived in an old warehouse where I stashed some furniture and other necessary things to "live." While my true quarters are buried beneath the warehouse in what could be called a bomb shelter if only it were slightly larger. In the middle of the above ground section is my couch, coffee table and tv. In a corner is the fridge, another table, a microwave and a cabinet set with things I never really use in them (just in case humans ever decided to inspect). Across the building is where my crotch rocket sits, amid a pile of random tools and parts. Next to that is a long tale covered in random gun parts, bullets, knives, and other tricks of the trade.

I worked as a bounty hunter then; taking pretty much any contract that sensible hunters wouldn't even dream of doing. Being dead pretty much removed what I used to call sense, or a "rational fear of pain and death." Now I take whatever is offered to me, and to hell with the rules hunters are supposed to follow. If you want someone found and they're demonstrating a strange ability to elude you, I'll find them. If you want someone dead and they laugh at bullets and other conventional means, trust me...they won't be laughing after I'm through. Got a werewolf pissing you off? By the end of the week you'll have a new fur coat. I hardly ever do a case for free, and if you don't know where I live, then your problems aren't nearly big enough for me to even pretend to care, no matter how much money you shove in my face.

I'm used to clients and the like showing up at my place simply because everyone who needs to know, knows where to find me. No one ever uses the front door except for clients and morons trying to kill me, because there's a secondary route in that only I and a friend of mine know about. And no, you don't get to know where that is.

Clients generally show up completely unannounced, mainly because I don't have a cell phone or really any other means of reaching me. Simply because I don't like them. So when I heard a loud, impatient knock at the door, I didn't even think twice. I stood slowly and moved towards the door, my bare feet shuffling against the cold concrete of the warehouse. The knocking repeated and I growled in response.

I reached the massive titanium door I had installed and grasped the length of chain bolted to it, straining against it to open the door just a crack. I don't like uninvited visitors, so I made damn sure that the door was nearly impossible to budge.

The door released an annoyed grating sound against the ground and I dropped the chain before moving towards the crack I had opened. I leaned easily against the door and glared out into the open doorway. Two men stood out in the pouring rain, both looking incredibly pissed off. They wore tight clothes across their impressive muscles and had a dangerous light in their eyes. They looked like they had lived in the wilderness their entire lives, and I knew that to be mostly true. The bullet scar marring one of their foreheads had been given courtesy of a past case I had that involved a young member of their clan that was on the run. The fact that he was still alive and before me honestly scared the crap out of me. But instead of giving him the satisfaction of knowing his miraculous recovery had startled me, I smiled easily and crossed my arms across my chest.

"You know they have this cream out now that helps remove scars, right?"

He clenched his fists and snarled in my face and I nearly crapped myself. He could tear my arms off without a second thought, and we both knew it. But his companion saved my ass. He cleared his throat and stepped forward slightly.

"Markus. We understand that in the past we have had our differences regarding the waif Jasper Mcleod, but we are prepared to set them aside and forgive them given your cooperation in an urgent matter."

I tilted my head to one side. "I didn't know dogs could be so elegant. The hell do you mongrels want?"

Show an inch of fear and they'd literally tear me in half.

Bullet-head growled at me again and I could see his body rippling slightly as he fought the urge to rip my guts out right there. The other simply raised a hand to calm him but kept his hateful gaze locked with mine.

"Can we come in? This is not something that should be discussed in the open streets."

"Yeah, that's not gonna happen. I don't let strays in my house."

That's when he opened the briefcase he was holding and showed me what had to be a couple hundred thousand dollars. The money wasn't what caught my eye the most, it was the simple key that had been fitted into the case. I glanced at it and then looked back up at the two men.

"What's the key for?"

He smiled a vicious little smile and closed the case.

"Consider it our little gift of good faith that you will do what we need in record time. Taped to the key is an address, the key will unlock the front door at that dwelling."

He offered me the case and I took it easily, as if it didn't mean a damn thing to me.

"What's the bounty?"

They snarled at me again.

"Unless you allow us in, we will have to take our business elsewhere."

I hefted the case slightly, sighed, and moved away from the doorway.

"Shut the door behind you."

I fell onto the couch and opened the case, removing the stacks of 100's and placing them on the table. I regarded the growing stacks with what I hoped was an unreadable expression, but they could probably smell the unbridled excitement on me from a mile away. They glanced around the room with clear distaste and the smell of wet dog corrupted the entire warehouse. I glared hard at them then went back to piling the money into neat stacks. I hadn't seen that much money in one place in my entire life. Clearly whatever they had to say meant a huge amount to them.

I took the key out of the case and looked at the address. It was located on a lower class side of town that I knew well, but had never really explored. I placed it on top of one of the money stacks and glanced up at the men to find that they had been watching me like vultures.

"Alright. The hell has gotten your clan so worked up? I always thought you handled your issues internally."

Bullet-head shifted slightly and gave me a hard look. He started to respond, but the other man put a hand on his shoulder and spoke instead.

"Usually we do. But unfortunately this matter...is a great deal larger than our clan. It threatens our race as a whole. And yours as well."

I had to laugh.

"My race? Buddy, I haven't been considered part of the courts since I was created."

I pointed at my eyes, giving them a view of the cat-like slits my pupils had become the day I was turned.

"See these? They're pretty much a Scarlet Letter, marking me as an enemy of both courts...hunted and hated no matter the situation. Unless, of course, they need me to do something stupid that they wouldn't dream of doing."

"Regardless, we're positive the courts will move to gain your assistance soon as well. Someone has...attempted to change the way we do things."

I raised an eyebrow.

"We as in the wolves and the courts?"

He nodded.

"The hell would cause danger to both races?"

He moved around the warehouse, taking everything in-noting every subtle angle in case they would need to storm in and destroy me.

"We're not sure how the courts are involved, only that without a shadow of a doubt their lives are at risk. As for our clans...a very important member of our race has been kidnapped."

I tilted my head slightly.

"That's why you need me? A kidnapping? Mortal police would be suited for this. But thanks for the cash."

I clicked the tv on and hoped that they'd just leave. I considered the money before me then thought about the situation. Two high ranking clan members had come to my place, insisted they come in, paid me an extreme amount of money up front, and said that their business could potentially destroy the way both the courts and the clans operated. I looked back up at them slowly.

"Alright. You've got five minutes. Why do you need me?"

"This is not only a sensitive issue based on who knows, but it is also time tight one. You have a limited amount of time to find the target and return them to our clan. Roughly a week to be exact, but the sooner the better."

I nodded.

"Who's missing?"

They looked at each other for a moment then sighed, as if admitting weakness.

"Warchief Malcais."

My eyes snapped wide at the name. Malcais was the leader of all the clans. He held them together through fear and brute strength. No one dared go against Malcais' will, because those that did tended to end up skinned and yet still breathing. The sheer fact that someone had considered kidnapping the grizzled warrior automatically proved them to be incredibly daring and stupid beyond what I thought possible. Malcais was a vicious warlord, having truly earned his leadership over the clans through countless years and even more violent and bloody fights. He was a terrifyingly powerful man and whoever was able to kidnap him had an enormous amount of support and truly couldn't have been operating on their own. Plus there was the legion of wolves guarding him around the clock, which immediately lead me to think of an inside job.

"Who the hell is dumb enough to kidnap Malcais?"

"We're not entirely certain. They left little to no trace of their coming and going save for a patch of the warchief's blood. Unfortunately, his scent simply disappears once outside of his tent. It's as if he was simply ripped out of this world."

"Any chance of it being an inside job?"

He was shaking his head before I could even finish.

"No. Everyone was accounted for. It was during the Ceremony of the Moon."

I nodded. The Ceremony of the Moon was a sacred ritual in the clans where younglings were fully accepted and initiated by the warchief in a sort of gladiatorial arena. A dozen or so wolves would go in, and only one would leave fully intact. The others would survive but, depending on their wounds, the clan they were placed into would vary. The one who escaped the most unscathed, or who showed the most prowess would earn a spot in the clan of the Serrated Fang, Malcais' clan. Otherwise, they'd be dispersed amongst the other clans. Even the courts avoided the Ceremony of the Moon. Mainly because a vampyre was immediately seen as the target of opportunity by the younglings and therefore whoever got the killing blow would be instantly seen as the victor. Which meant that if the courts were involved, a hell of a lot of them had gone and had somehow escaped without being seen. That also proved that it wasn't a clan member. A rogue wolf, possibly...but highly unlikely-Malcais saw to it that most rogue wolves were food the following night.

"Did he vanish before or after the ceremony?"

"We had all of the clan members assembled and we were merely awaiting him to join us in the ceremonial pit...but when he didn't show, I went to investigate."

"Is he normally absent at the beginning of the ceremony?"

"Always. He hunts beforehand so that he may dress his body in the blood of the kill before the younglings. We were merely waiting for him to emerge in full glory."

I considered that for a moment. The more I learned about this case, the more I simply didn't like it. The wolves were a tight pack of several different clans, all overseen by Malcais. They were damn close to one another and wouldn't think twice of hurting each other simply because they were a massive family. They always had each other's back and protected their own with an insane ferocity. Unless of course you went against the clan rules. Which my friend Jasper had done years ago. They had planned on killing him. Malcais himself was going to do it, which was considered a massive honor. I had happened to save his ass just before he was slain on pure accident, and he had taken to sticking close to my side and protecting me from the other wolves when it was needed. Because of him I had a decent idea on how the clans were run so I knew that Malcais' loss would send the pack into immediate chaos. Malcais was the alpha. And without his direction, they would start to panic and someone would snap at another clan member's throat. And then all hell would break loose. Humans, vampyres, wolves, and anything in between would fall in the resulting chaos. Which immediately put my life and the way I operated at risk. Someone had taken a great risk in capturing Malcais, and clearly their plan was going perfectly. Problem for them was, I doubted they figured the wolves would call me in.

"Alright...any leads?"

They set their jaws and moved towards the door. "That's five minutes, Mr. Markus. Everything else you may need is at the location on the card. I suggest you hurry."

He wrenched the door open and they strode out into the night, leaving it wide open.

I stared after them for a moment, stood and kicked the door back into place, blocking out the sounds of the city once more. I didn't like a damn thing about this case, but the wolves were paying damn well, and it was in my best interest to go along with it and hunt down Malcais. And kill the morons responsible.