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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12


Written by KazeRogue and Cat Smith
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 6

Quand le serpent se sent mal

Dans sa peau

Il en sort lentement


L'abandonne sur la terre brûlée

Et glisse entre les pierres nues

Ses membranes fraîches

À la recherche d'un habit plus digne

~ by Monica Skandrani

When the serpent feels unwell

In its skin,

It will leave it slowly


Abandon it on the burnt earth

And slide between the naked pebbles

His skin fresh, tender, new

Searching for a more dignified costume

Like a demon out for vengeance Xandra bolted into Kitty's store, not bothering about the Hardware components that were as usually spread over the whole floor. That entrance even made the Computer freak Kitty acknowledge her presence and she stuck out her head from the casing she was screwing in.

"Hey, Sherlock, look out! The drive your standing on isn't the cheap stuff you are used to!" The teasing was a part of their normal play, giving their complex friendship, the friendship of a Detective and a 'criminal', an air of lightness. So Kitty smirked as she pointed at the drive lying on the floor, a mock stern look in her eyes, that didn't hide the sparkle too well.

Normally Xandra would have asked why it was lying on the floor then, among the mess that Kitty would have called 'the order of a genius', but she was way too pissed off to waste a thought at something as unimportant when the trust in her closest friend had been betrayed. Her eyes narrowing, she stood in front of the young hacker, dangerously calm. Kitty wore an innocent smile that even Xandra couldn't have pretended, used at wearing masks as she was.

Noticing that Xandra was here for business, the teasing gleam left her eyes, and she told her friend about her results, or lack of these.

"Sorry, but I haven't found out about your Mr. X till now, the proggy is still running, but there was just too much data to deal with."

"Stop it..." Xandra's whisper was calm, almost threatening, she was keeping herself barely at bay. Kitty looked at her confused, still playing the innocent, ignorant fool. And that was more than the tense nerves of the Detective could take.

"Was it fun seein' me hunt a phantom? Laughin' with him behind mah back? Oh, C'mon, don't look at me so surprised! Ah know that ya know him! And what about this ominous data? Faked, huh? Ta lead me on th' wrong track! And Ah thought ya were mah friend!"

"Xandra! What are you talking about? I have no clue who your Mr. X is, really!" What was THAT about? Kitty had never seen her friend that enraged. She was shocked, even a bit frightened. Obviously, Xandra hadn't forgotten everything her mother had taught her...

"Well, how comes he knows you then?" Thorne tapped her feet impatiently.

"He.. he might be one of my customers, but really.. oh.. oh wait, my God, of COURSE! Why haven't I thought of him before? He MUST be it! A man who bought a laptop here once..."

"Ah don't presume you have a name or an address?"

"I did, but now that I think of it... it's surely a fake.., my, this boy must be good when he fooled me!" Kitty shook her head in reluctant admiration.

"And why would he think that ya know something 'bout a big, bad criminal in town?"

"I have no clue.. well, let's go someplace else, where we can talk... just give me a sec."

While Kitty rushed through the door at the opposite wall, into a provisional living room, the Detective wondered if the garage wasn't the best place to talk, still a glint of suspicion left in the back of her mind. But then, she shrugged it off, waiting in the garage instead of following her friend to the living room, where she would have found her whispering urgently to a young man with jaw length auburn hair and unusual eyes hidden behind sunglasses, motioning him to leave the place through the back door. But thus, Xandra smiled as Kitty returned, her parka and a laptop in her hands.

"Okay, let's go!"

The club was humming with conversation and goth music, while some freaks danced with closed eyes and an enraptured smile, that gave evidence either of drugs or an innate freakiness that had made them outcasts from society. Probably both.

Detective Alexandra Thorne simply lifted an eyebrow when Katherine dragged her into this place, never wasting a thought at calling her colleagues to take out this junkie hole, rather wondering why her friend has chosen this place of all to talk with her. But Kitty seemed very acquainted with the club and it's customers, greeting the freaks who seemed to accept her as one

of their own. The young hacker only winked at her, whispering that a place with no ears was the best place to talk. Resigning herself to this fate, Xandra sighed and followed the other woman to one of the free tables.

When seated, Kitty immediately opened her laptop and started typing, oblivious to Xandra's unnerved glare. But before the Detective could say anything, she looked up again, frowning.

"As we presumed, the name he gave me is a fake, but very good concealed. I walked into his trap blindly."

From Kitty's frown and her thinned lips, Xandra could tell that this disturbed her very much. The fact that somebody HAD managed to get the better of her and tricked her into 'supporting' a crime, and the fear that the impossible might have happened before as well. But this was business, major league, the Detective needed infos and had no time to comfort the

defeated hacker. Professional as she was, Kitty already went on.

"About this mysterious villain Mr X was talking about... There has been an abrupt increasement of homicides last week, bad stuff, wouldn't want to see the forensic reports. All unsolved of course. That might indicate he was right."

Instincts honed for years in the service of first Mystique, then the NYPD took over as Xandra smelled a case coming. She wasn't in the homicide department, but if she called her colleagues, what could she tell them? That she's got a tip from a hot Master Thief that had been confirmed by an illegal hardware/ software dealer and hacker?Sure! No, she had to go after this herself....

"Can ya give me a location?"

"I already sent out emails to various... sources. We can only wait and see what they come up with."

Kitty motioned to her laptop, to indicate that they would know immediately when her request had been answered.

"KATYA!" both women winced at the low baritone next to them, but before they could say anything, a living mountain had grabbed Kitty into a tight hug. Xandra only smirked as the younger woman's eyes bulged out of their sockets, her lungs squeezed in the embrace.

"Peter, hi, have you met my friend, Xandra?" she said breathlessly, attempting to free herself.

The human coloss turned to smile at the Detective, the expression on his face betraying his simple mind.

'Great' Xandra thought with a wry smile. 'Brain has found her Pinky.'

Admittedly, a nearly 7 ft tall Pinky...

'Now Ah know why they called th' book 'of men and mice'.'

"Katya, have you seen my latest painting?"

"Peter is an artist," Kitty said explainingly in Xandra's direction, while motioning Peter to get the painting for her to see.

'Oh, pleeeeeeaaaaase, you droolworthy hunk of a dream, show us your comic strips.'

The Russian returned with a sheet and started to explain what was obviously highly "inspired" by Miró.

"I drew this last night, when my restless soul wouldn't let me sleep..."

Xandra rolled her eyes. 'Would it be too impolite ta sigh now theatrically an' declaim Shakespeare?'

"I was ... like under a spell. I drew frantically, couldn't stop until it was finished..."

'Ya should cut shorter on th' drugs, sugah! But well, Ah can clearly see th' frantical here.'

"I had such an adrenaline rush, that I even tore off my night clothes and went on drawing nude..."

'Great, now Ah'm gonna be sick the rest o' the' week!'

"But of course this image is nothing compared to what I could create with two beautiful women like you as models."

'Oooooh, Ah think Ah'm gonna faint....'

"If you would permit me to draw you, I would love to invite you in my atelier..."

'Oh my, oh my, oh my, oh my, ....'

"...though I already had the pleasure to draw Kitty..."

'... my oh my oh.. WHAT???? Puhlease! Have some mercy with mah stomach!'

Kitty looked at Xandra almost apologetically, then drew Peter's attention, giving Xandra the opportunity to get out of the conversation without being too impolite.. what she surely would have been if listening to Peter any longer. Lucky Petey!


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