“You’re going to draw unwanted attention sitting like that,” Sam said as she walked across the roof to where Erik was crouched on the ridge. The tall brunette peered down the twenty stories to the streets below. “You look like you’re either going to jump or pretending to be Batman.”

“I suppose,” Erik relented and crawled back down from the edge of the roof. “Sorry, old habit.” Sam didn’t say anything, but she didn’t have to. Sam could reprove him with just a look on her heart shaped face. It was one of the few perks of being his oldest friend.

“What are you doing up here?” Erik asked.

“Kurt called. Our target is going back to the warehouse,” Sam answered. “It’s secluded enough. We might want to make contact and make a determination.” Erik pondered that for a few moments before nodding.

“I’ll do the contact,” Erik asked. “I’ll make the determination. Kurt can back me up. Veronica and you can wait at the safehouse.” Sam’s face set into a hard look.

“Why you and not me?” Sam asked, “She might react better to a woman than you.” She waved her hands in disgust at Erik’s outfit. He couldn’t see what was wrong with it. A long, denim, black duster covered a dark blue cotton shirt and jeans. He’d seen other men wearing similar clothes on television. Still, Sam was much better at finding those slight differences in what was considered normal this side of the gate.

“Maybe if the contact was going to be more public. Since it’s not, if something goes sideways, I’m more experienced in combat. And killing,” Erik said, the last two words almost a whisper. Sam paused before launching her next verbal salvo. Her lips pressed into a tight grimace. She hated it when he was right.

“Fine,” she spat out, “You be careful. I’ve been to enough funerals in the past year.” Erik’s face darkened before Sam realized her mistake.

“I’m sorry,” Sam said, “I know you feel that it was all your fault the way things ended. I just want you to be careful here. It’s not like at home. I want you around for a long time.” Erik nodded, and a grim smile appeared on his face.

“I will be careful,” Erik said before leaping off the building. Sam gasped, and then started swearing. Okay, their powers were a bit degraded on this side of the gate, but this was easy. The hard part was keeping the duster from billowing out too much. And Erik always loved flying when he could get away with it.


Detective Anne Hearst looked down at the chalk outline and faded bloodstains. Three months, three victims. Each brutally torn apart. The shrink her team had consulted said the killer was exhibiting signs of an explosive, savage rage. That was the takeaway from a three hundred page report the shrink had delivered to the police. Well that, and the normal profile. Probably a white male, intelligent, in a menial position. The shrink sure as hell couldn’t identify the connection between the three victims. The first had been a blond stay at home mom in the suburbs killed while doing her morning power walk. The second was a Hispanic gay man coming out of a club. This victim was tentatively identified as a black homeless man known to the dockworkers as “Stubby Joe.”

She looked around the warehouse. It looked like any of the several abandoned warehouses near the dockyard. Another victim of the recession. The wide open space was dusty and the steel supports were starting to rust. She could smell the pungent odors of human squatters with the unique smell of the the river. Her flashlight lanced out into the dark space. If the murder hadn’t cleared out the squatters, then all of the police activity certainly had. All that was left was debris.

“Why are you down here Annie?” she murmured to herself. “Mom is going to kill you for ducking her again just to wallow in a crime scene.” For some reason, she’d felt pulled down here tonight. Like a clue would emerge if she’d just come down to the scene one more time. She knelt down next to the blood. Then she felt it again. Something odd in the air. She’d felt it at the other murder scenes. Like the air was tingling with barely perceptible electricity. Then, the energy spiked. It was like the one time she’d grabbed a hot electrical wire. Power flashed through her. As it subsided, Anne slowed her breathing. Maybe it was time to go see that shrink. Her heart leapt as hissing whispers came from deeper in the warehouse.

“Who’s there?” Anne demanded, swinging her flashlight around the darkness, “This is the police. Come out and show yourself!” Her hand fell to the butt of her Glock. There was movement on the edge of her flashlight beam. She swung the beam after whoever it was. As her beam landed on the source, Anne revised her statement. Not a who, a what. Her mind reeled with what her eyes were seeing, so it grabbed on to what was familiar. The thing stood upright, had a head, two arms, and two legs. It let out a high-pitched growl, like the cheetah at the city zoo. It’s gold eyes flashed at her as it’s gray-green face split to reveal a mouth full of sharp, jagged teeth.

Anne screamed as it leapt at her. She was paralyzed as the unearthly creature attacked her. What the hell was that thing? She couldn’t even think to draw her sidearm. Just as she could smell the creature’s foul, hot breath, it was knocked to the side. A man slid beside her, holding a black pistol. Funny, she didn’t hear the gunshot.

“Who are you?” was all Anne could think to say.