Some of the characters and ideas below are borrowed, some are original.
Please don't be offended if my interpretation of the borrowed bits doesn't
match yours.  It's all subject to literary interpretation anyway.  :)  Oh,
and I'd like to apologize to D right at the outset.  I know he's afraid to
open his mouth because he thinks he'll dry up and blow away, or something
like that.  However, my characters *talk.*  I can't help it.  He'll just
have to get over his little phobia for this story.

                             Amberly Hess

D sits quietly at the table, gathering stillness around and inside
himself.  His wide brimmed traveler's hat cuts a black swatch of
shadow diagonally across his face.  Even in the semipermanent gloom of
the tavern's main room he preferes the added protection for his
sensitive eyes.  The tavern is busy tonight, he muses.  Full of loud
talk and calls for drink or food.
        A medium sized man with a shock of white hair pushes through
the crowed, spies D, and plops down in the seat opposite him.
        "Well, dhampire," he announces, throwing his words like rocks
into the stillness around D, "I found the bloodsucker's trail, just
where you thought it would be."  He laughes loudly, several rows of
teeth adding a macabre look to his enthusiastic smile.  "You
half-breeds surely have a nose for the leeches amost as..."
        "That's quite enough!"  The quiet words crack through the air
with sufficient force of will to stop the man midsentence.  The hush
around the table is deafening to D's ears, and he waits tensly for the
first pointed fingers, the first shouts of an angry mob.
        "You sure know how to kill a celebration," the white haired
man exclaims too loudly into the silence.  Then he throws his arms
wide, whoops in laughter, and slaps a nearby barmaid on the rump.
"I'll have meat and whatever's on tap!"  The girl smiles insincerely
and turns back to the bar, while conversations begin again around
        D leans closer to his companion, his eyes still intense.  "You
should know quite well that most people find no distinction between a
Noble and dhampire.  You yourself tried to kill me at our first
meeting, or had you forgotten?"
        The incident had happened some weeks back.  D had heard rumors
of a fugative noble, exiled from her House, who had fled to this city
in search of a dark hole to hide under.  Uncommon as it was to hear
reports of a single Noble in such a huge city, the story seemed to
ring true in his ears.  That and the symbiot had pestered him
mercelessly about the luxeries to be found only in the populated
citites.  In the end he had turned his horse's head towards Nagasaki
as much to shut the thing up as to investigate the rumors.
        He'd been in town no more than two days when he had been
awoken at sunrise by an intruder crashing through his room's door.
The mutant had screamed defiance at the startled D and leaped towards
him, vowing to kill the leach that had terrorized the town.  After a
great deal of broken furniture and knife stabs - the room had been too
small to allow D to draw his greatsword - the mutant lay panting on
the floor at his feet, wounds already starting to knit together
despite the red pool spreading across the floor.
        "Tell your mistress to challenge me herself," D spoke calmly.
 "I don't enjoy wasting the lives of those weak enough at heart to
serve her."
        "Mistress?!" the mutant spat, curling into a ball and rolling
onto his knees.  "I serve no one but my wallet.  And I'll serve your
head on a spit you demon from hell!"
        Supressing a sigh at the man's theatrics D kicked him in the
stomach, sending the mutant sprawling across the room.  "Are you
telling me that *you* are a hunter?"  An eyebrow rose slighly in
        "Of course I'm a hunter!"  The mutant grimaced and spat more
blood from his mouth revealing row upon row of curving teeth.  "And
I'll kill you and your consort just as soon as I find my blade..."
        D sheathed his knife and kicked the man's blade across the
room to him.  "It's no good trying to kill me," he replied evenly,
turning his back to begin setting the room in order.  "I'm after the
same one you are.  In fact, if you'd been a little more observant you
might have noticed that I'm not even a Noble." As if to accentuate the
fact to the man behind him he strips off his right hand glove and
holds his fingers outstretched into the morning light.
        "What, but I can smell their blood in you!  I smelt you last
night in the tavern!" the mutant lurched to his feet.  That's how I
hunt them, I scent their trail from their victims.  How the, who the
fuck do you think you are!"
        D, never a great one for conversations, wished this would just
end.  He glanced down at the blood soaking into the blue rug, then
darted his eyes away and fixed them firmly on the wall.  In an effort
to distract himself from the rich scent rising from the floor he
answered the  question.
        "I am a dhampire, a half-breed.  My mother was human.  I hunt
the Nobles as you do."  With that he looked pointedly at the door,
swinging half off it's hinges.  The mutant, ignoring the look,
suddenly burst into laughter.
        "Well I'll be damned for a pureblood!  Look at us fighting
like this!  Folks call me Sly and me and my whole family we're all
muties, bein' born here in Nagasaki an' all..."  He began chatting
animatedly, most of which was drowned out by the pounding of D's
heart.  The sweet, thick pool at his feet was already cooling, but the
iron/salt tang curled enticingly in his gut.  His hands fisted, his
breathing coming faster he couldn't stop *thinking* about it.  Sweat
dampening his shirt he realized his fangs were growing in response to
his need.  Damn but it had been too long since he'd tasted freshly
spilt blood!  In desperation he stared into the sunlight, the fire
searing his eyes hoping the pain would...
        The room was silent.  D took a deep breath and turned slowly,
half expecting the other's sword which pricked his throat.  Quitely
the man examined D's glowing blue eyes and still expanding fangs.
Then he nodded and sheathed his sword.
        "Now I'm sure of it.  T'ain't never seen a Noble hold off the
bloodlust like that.  It's just wham, bam, thank you ma'am for them."
 Calmly the man stepped over the rug sodden with his own blood and
walked through the door.  "Meet me downstairs this afternoon, eh?
We'll see about killing us that bitch."
        And that's how it started.  D, who had never worked with
anyone - excepting the symbiot who was impossible to be rid of - was
somewhat surprised to find himself in the tavern's main room that very
afternoon waiting for his partner. And now, several weeks later, he
mused that it had not been all bad judgement on his part.  Certainly
the exiled Noble was the most elusive vampire he had ever hunted.  The
extra mind and hands of his partner had done a good deal to speed up
the search.  =Even if he is obnoxiously loud, outrageous in his
behavior, and completely devoid of anything resembling common sense=
D muses to himself as the barmaid serves Sly his food.
        Despite all that, D finds himself almost grateful for the
loudmouthed mutant's presence.  He has learned through millenia of
bitter experience not to trust anyone.  Any chance word spoken to a
seeming stranger may reach the ears of a dominated human, thus warning
his prey.  For once, though, he is faced with a human that he needed
neither to protect nor fear.  The necessary conversation between the
two while organizing the hunt made him feel, well, closer to this
mutant than almost anyone he'd ever met.  He had been forced to lower
a some of his customary defenses, and as a result found he actually
*liked* Sly.  Occasionally.
        "Don't fret your pretty face about it."  Sly replies around
mouthfulls of beef, pulling D from his thoughts.  He tore another hunk
off the bone, his teeth doing truly horrible things to the meat.
"You're safe enough here."
        *Here* was the "Magnificent Mutant."  In a city irradiated as
often as this one had been, mutations were everywhere and most mutants
found comfort among their own kind.  Thus inns like this were common
throughout the huge city.  Even those with the most bizzare mutations
could come here for a pint and some talk and be assured they would
recieve nothing beyond that.
        D decided not to answer and instead motioned the barmaid to
refill his glass.  Oranges, he had heard from a Shaman in the remote
west, helped to control the bloodlust by protecting the red blood
cells.  This was the first time he had been close enough to
civilization to test the theory.  He felt the symbiot snicker silently
as he swallowed another mouthful of the tart, watery drink.
        "How did you know she was acting as headmistress for that
girl's finishing school?"  Sly wiped his chin with his arm after
spilling beer down his face.
        It had been an obvious choice, in retrospect.  Catering to the
high class "purebloods", surrounded by wealth and luxery, teaching
proper etiquite and genteele behavior to the cream of human society,
and of course avoiding the harsh sunlight that would mar a young
woman's smooth skin.  As close to true nobility as the exile could
achieve, all the while in perfect anonymity.  And if the young ladies
at this exclusive school were a bit more pale or langorous than their
peers, well that was truly the mark of excellent breeding then, wasn't
        "She has been erasing their memories," D stated, ignoring the
question.  But one of the girls is strong.  Here."  He taps his temple
with a long, tapered finger.  "I have watched her struggle with the
fog the Noble clouds her thoughts with.  Surely the Lady also feels
it."  He raises his eyes and pierces Sly with a look.  "We must move
tonight.  By tomorrow the girl is dead."
        "That's what I've been waiting to hear!"  the mutant crows.
Standing up he salutes the commons room with his glass.  "We're gonna
string up a leach!" he shouts to the patrons.  Then he empties his
glass and thumps it on the table, gathers his coat and marches out the
door, whistling a war tune.
        D stands, swings himself into his sword sheath, then glides
out the door after Sly, a dark shadow who's blue cloak patrons shrink
back from lest it brush them as he goes by.
        "And how does that feel?" a sarcastic voice taunts D as he
steps into the night.  "D, the mighty vampire hunter, *reduced* to
following a mutant in search of his quarry?  What will the citizens
think?"  It's chuckle is choked short as D curls his gloved fingers
into a fist.
        "Remember our bargain, demon,"  D mutters.  The night breeze
plays with his long, auburn hair and blillowing cloak, causing two
nearby young women to stare and giggle.  "You'll just have to hold
your tongue until we're alone."
        In two long strides he catches up with Sly and motions with
his head towards the part of town where the Noble was hiding.
Together they hail a cab and sit in silence =for once= thinks D,
throughout the ride.  The cab clatters to a stop and the two hunters
emerge in front of a huge, castle-like structure.  Built of stone the
walls are at least 8 stories high, and the building sprawls across a
vast acherage of finely pruned trees and immaculate gardens.  Water
from the graceful fountain in the front lawn mists in the wind and
darknens the huge, wrought iron fence that surrounds the entire
estate.  The cameras, ALR's (automatic laser rifles) and other
security equipment seem unaffected by the moisture.
        =Walls= D thinks to himself.  =I forgot to include walls in
that list of everything a Lady would need.=  It had been easy enough
to spy on the girls when they were walking demurly through the city
shops with their chaperones.  Quite another to broach the vampire in
her own lair.
        D and Sly walk across the street and conceal themselves in the
shadows of a nearby alley.  "Well, what's our plan?" the excited
mutant whispers as he quickly rubs his hands together.  "How 'bout
this.  You take out the Seccamm *tm* on the left, I'll do the one on
the right, then we'll scale the gate and ram a sharp stake down that
bitch's throat!"  He's fairly panting with excitement.  The chase is
on and he is dying to get on with it.
        D considers for a moment, remembering the ALR's and other
nasty things atop the walls.  "A headlong assault would just alarm the
Lady and send her into hiding.  Any attempt to broach those walls
would set off the security alarms and accomplish the same thing.  It
may be years before we find her again."  D muses over the problem, in
the processes ignoring the ususal mannerisms he employs to appear more
human.  His body becomes absolutely still and the shadows seem to curl
and wrap themselves around him.  He, of course, could simply vault
over the fence and walk into the builing.  The Lady's reliance on
mechanical survielance was obviously for her own benefit, so that she
could hunt the grounds at night with no fear of her reflection
surfacing on any camera recording.  That it made her easy prey for
another of vampiric blood apparently had not occured to her.
        But she was a cunning adversary.  Often the years would dull a
vampire's mind, boredom rotting away their thoughts and personality
until only a shadow of intellect remained.  Not this one, no the
centuries had only sharpened her mind.  It would not do to leave Sly
behind, not when he had already proved useful in this hunt.
        Then a stray thought flits through D's mind.  His body flowing
back into motion he turns his head and contemplates the building they
are standing behind.  Almost, a smile touches the thin lips.  "So
there is only one way to enter.  The front gate."
        Sly stares at D as if his mind had slipped.  "That's what I
just said!"
        D turns to look at his companion's outline in the moonlight.
"Not quite.  But first we need a change of clothes."

Martinique raises her hand in graceful elegance, bidding her visitor
to enter.  The golden chime of braclets makes her every gesture
musical.  The Noble who enters feels old in her mind, though not as
old as she.  However, there is power in this one and more, a sense
of...independence.  She smiles langorously.  Independence from the
overwhelming pride and influence of a Noble House is something she can
appreciate.  The Noble's servant, stinking up the air with his
mutation, follows two careful steps behind and to the right of his
master, as beffitted the sub-human thing.
        "Odd," she purrs as she examines the pair.  My servants who
watch the security equipment implied only one visitor my Lord..."  she
left the sentence hanging, waiting for the beautiful vampire to
introduce himself.
        "Nosfertu," the soft voice responds.  Then, changing the pitch
and quality of his voice, he begins to speak in the high formal
dialect of the Nobles.  "It is rare to encounter such a vision of
beauty and power in this debased city."  The subsonics from his voice
resonate through the room carrying a second and third layer of meaning
to his words.
        "Excellent!"  she laughs delightedly, also switching to the
formal dialect.  "How many years has it been since I have had the
pleasure of true conversation?  Truly your house must be ancient."
The undercurrents of her words sting and slap with centuries of
contempt for the inferior nobles who were responsible for her exile.
        Lord Nosfertu, the barest of smiles upon his lips, sits across
from her divan at her gesture.  The subhuman mutant stays standing at
the back of the room.  "Odd that you should mention my House," the
Lord murmers, pouring his hostess a drink from the decanter on the low
table between them, then pouring a second for himself.  "I seem to
have, hmmm, fallen into disfavor lately.  An incident which does not
bear repeating in your exquisite presence."  The thick, red liquid in
their glasses vibrates to the sound of his voice, the crystal singing
in pitch.  "As one who has done so well for herself outside her
traditional House..."
        He lets the sentence trail away as Martinique laughs
delightedly and sips from her glass.  "Ah, yes, my dear Lord, you seek
a boon, a present to buy your way back into the hearts and graces of
your ancestors."  The servant winces in pain at the vibrations.  "I
believe I have just the thing, though you knew I would," she teases, a
smouldering look through half closed lids.  "As you know, I run this
finishing school for young girls from the city.  Only those of pure
human blood may attend, of course, and I find it covenient to provide
them with finishing training of my own design.  They are all properly
trained for a Noble's service.  I *might* be persuaded to let one go,
for a fee you understand.  They have all become quite dear to me."
She chuckles and stretches sinuously, her half reclining form tempting
through the sheer fabric of her gown.
        D raises an eyebrow, affecting a look of interest, then sips
at his own drink.  The power of it nearly rocks him backwards,
exploding into his mouth and mind like lightning.  Martinique throws
her head back, the crystal chandelier and even the bricks in the walls
shaking at her voice.  "Yes," she purrs, "that is from my favorite.
Her blood is as pure as any but her mind is strong, filled with the
first budding scent of power.  I had wished to train her to be my
faithful servant, and of course keep her by my side to provide me with
centuries of that wonderful blood, but now I fear she grows too
quickly, like a weed in good soil.  Tonight I had planned to kill
her."  The look she gives him leaves no doubt as to her thoughts.  "It
occurs to me you might like to share in my little repast.  Come with
me and I'll show you where the girls live."
        Sly follows silently behind his partner and the bitch queen.
The new clothes D had stolen from the shop rubbed mercelessly in
places he'd rather not think about.  But he wasn't going to complain.
 At least he had gotten to keep his weapon, as a servant he was
expected to protect his master.  D's greatsword lay concealed in one
of the gardens around the school.
        The bitch wasn't exactly leading them, more like giving his
partner directions as she oozed and clung to the taller man's side.
He couldn't understand their words when they had started speaking that
god-forsaken language, but she was speaking a language any man could
understand.  How in god's name did D manage to charm her so fast?
He'd barely spoken at all and she was putty!  And if he didn't miss
his guess, the stupid bitch was leading them straight to the girls,
saving them the time and energy of fighting a fortress full of goons
to find the girls themselves.
        They turned several corners and began climbing up a marble
staircase.  He had to admit, though, he wasn't too happy about that
bit with the blood.  He couldn't see his partner's face, of course,
being behind him, but he'd seen the dhampire tense and shiver when
he'd drunk it.  =Damn bitch musta mixed something in with those poor
girl's blood to keep it from clotting.  Probably sells it to select,
high brow buyers to keep herself in her chosen lifestyle.  Whore.  The
worst of it is I'm not sure 'xactly who's seducin who here.  I'll have
to keep an eye on my partner's back.=
        D stoically grits his teeth and continues up the stairs, the
armorous Martinique pratically pulling his arm out of it's socket.  It
was becoming harder and harder to continue projecting the aura of a
Noble.  The longer he was forced to continue with the facade to hide
his true identity, the more energy it took.  Fortunately, it seemed
that the Lady had been indulging liberally of the powerful drink
before he had arrived, so perhaps her percpeptions would not be as
acute.  She continues to slither up and down his side as they mount
the stairs (=How *does* she do that?  Not even I can move in three
directions at once=) then slides her hand into his own.  His left
        Quickly he snatches his hand away, startling the Noblewoman.
The three stop in the middle of the staircase, a pouting look pushing
out Martinique's lower lip.
        "Forgive me," he apologizes and sweeps into a deep bow.
Looking up again he can see the first hints of suspicion narrowing her
eyes.  Marshalling all his training he relaxes his vocal cords to
reach to the deepest levels of speech.  "There was that incident, you
see..." he allows the words to trail away, but the echoes in his voice
paint graphic pictures of pain and torture over an indiscreet affair.
 He looks quietly away, only to have Martinique reach out and turn his
face towards her.  There are actually tears standing in her eyes.
        "Oh, those, those *animals*!"  She whispers ferociously.
"Come, I will heal your wounds."  Now walking with a more protective
stance she leads the way up the staircase and through a pair of large,
ornately carved wooden doors.  "Wait here," she smiles at him.  I'll
wake the girls."  She leaves them in an elegantly furnished sitting
room and exits through a smaller wooden door to their right.  A small
flash of light from her palm is the only indication the of the
disabled wards on the door.
        "That was close, D."  The symbiot mocks.  "Did you start to
forget what you were here for?"
        Startled, Sly whirls from his examination of the room to stare
at D.  "Did you hear that?"
        D presses his lips together, an expression of extreme
discomfort for him, and remains silent.
        "What's the matter, D?  Too good to share your little secret
with your *partner*?  Ah, and you two were drawing *so* close!"
        "Is it a ghost?  Are you haunted as well as cursed?"  Sly
whispers, his face pale.
        From between tense lips, "Cursed doesn't cover the half of it.
 And as for you, this is a direct violation of our bargain.  I could
be rid of you for this."
        "What's the point?"  the symbiot mocks.  "You demanded that
part of our agreement in order to protect yourself, to more easily
pass for *human*.   He sneers gleefully.  "But you've already told the
mutant what you are.  The reasons for my silence are null and void and
        The voice cuts off instantly as the small wooden door opens.
"I thought I heard voices," Martinique says, "but clearly I was
mistaken.  No Nobleman of your breeding would think of stooping so low
as to converse with his servant.  Now come, the girls are ready for
        In the next room 10 girls stand in a row, each wearing nothing
but a vacant expression on their face.  Sly stays back in the doorway,
determined not to let the bitch-queen trap them in here.  The moment
is close and his blood is rising.
        D makes some show of looking the girls over, pausing in front
of the one who's blood he had tasted.  Her rich scent entices him, the
pulse of her veins, the memory of the too brief taste leaves him
excited for more.  Martinique slides up behind him and presses herself
against his back, her fingertips tracing circles on his chest.  "No,
no my darling, this one is for us.  Choose another to pacify your
        "Is this all of them?" D asks quitely.
        "Yes, precious.  Every one who was of high enough quality to
continue to serve me, that is."
        "And the rest?"  The undertones lie of idle curiosity.
        "Well, I do have other, less pretty servants who need to be
fed." Her laughter chimes  discordantly in the room.
        "Ah," D replies.  At this he spins suddenly in her arms, grabs
her head with his right hand and turns her so her back rests against
his chest, his left arm pinning her against him.
        "NOW!" D shouts to Sly.  The mutant sprints forward, knife in
hand, and plunges the steel into her heart, paralyzing her with the
pain.  Then together, D and Sly force her against the wall while D
stuffs part of her dress into her mouth to quell her screams.
        "The sword would'a been quicker," Sly grunts as he fights to
hold the enraged vampire against the wall, "but I didn't think you
wanted to be on the other end of it too."  He grins toothily.  The
vampires screams are rising in pitch and begin to shake the mortar
from the walls.
        D feels an explosion of pain in his back.  Turning he sees all
ten girls armed with stillettos, one of whom just imbedded hers into
his shoulder.  With a roar of pain he flings his arms wide, throwing
several girls away and knocking more over with  their bodies.  Then
muttering an incantation under his breath he pulls out a glowing blue
sphere and holds it before him.  The sphere flashes brilliantly blue
and the girls fall screaming onto the floor, covering their eyes from
the light.
        "What the fuck are you doing to them?!" Sly  demands, still
struggling to hold Martinique.  "You bloodsucker, don't you dare hurt
those girls damn you!"
        D closes his fist around the blue sphere and covers its light,
then returns it to his pocket.  "The pain was caused by Martinique's
hold on their minds.  Now they are free of it and will no longer be
harmed."  He then steps closer to the Noblewoman.  Sly's sword may
have caused more injury than the knife, but neither was enough to kill
a vampire this old.  His own greatsword would have done so, but
lacking that he is forced to resort to more unpleasant means.
        "Bite her throat, Sly."
        "And be contaminated by that bitch's blood?  Never, you  must
be out of your mind!"
        "The only way to kill her is by natural power.  Your teeth and
body are an extension of your lifeforce and will.  This natural magic
is the only way we have left to kill her.  Do it now!"
        Sly looks helplessly at D, then growls and latches his
powerful jaws around the Lady's neck.  Her muffled screams are now
mere whimpers, barely escaping past Sly's teeth.  Then D takes his
left glove off, rips open the front of Martinique's dress, and holds
his hand to her chest as the symbiot devours her heart.
        "Well, that's the last of them," a tired Sly reports to D.
The two are again sitting in the main room of the Mutant.  "Took that
last girl's folks so long to show up 'cause they were over in Edo on
business.  None of 'em remember a damn thing from the entire time they
was at the school.  Not even how to walk pretty."  He takes a long
swig of whiskey, then regards his silent partner.  "You promised me an
explanation when this was over, an' as I see it, with the girls gone
home and the bitch-queen dead, it's over.  So, start yer talk,
beginning with that thing you got on your hand. Are you a mutie too?"
        D closes his eyes.  He is tempted to simply stand and leave,
leaving the secrets of his past buried.  Yet, he owed Sly.  Without
his help Martinique could very well have overwhelmed him with the help
of her girls, soft little children that he dared not harm.  He heaved
a great sigh from the depths of his lungs, then rubbed a healing wound
on his chest, recieved during the fight to exit the school with the
girls in tow.  Thank the Light he had gotten to his his
mind was drifting.  He was as tired as Sly.
        "No, my mother was pureblooded.  Nothing else would have
satisfied my father."  The corners of his eyes squeeze together,
seeming to smile with the memory of her.  "This, he gestures with his
gloved left hand, is the result of a bargain I made a very long time
ago, when I was in...some trouble."
        "Some trouble?" the voice demands incredulously.  "Why you'd
have been dead and worse without me!"  Both men glance around, but
even the barkeep has left the room.  The commons is empty.
        "Uh, bargain?" Sly prompts.
        "Yes  I was hired to kill a very powerful vampire, one who had
spent many thousands of years learning the dark arts.  During the hunt
he hired several demons to kill me.  One, a particularly obnoxious
higher imp, decided that there were better things in life than
allowing another to control his soul.  So he offered me a bargain.  He
wished to find a body and live permanently in this world.  In exchange
he would supply me with information on how to kill or avoid the other
        D takes a long swig of his orange juice, waiting for the look
of astonishment to pass from Sly's face.  Impatient with the pause,
the symbiot slithers out of the glove and continues the narrative.
        "Of course, D just didn't happen to have a spare body lying
around.  All the ones he'd killed were dead for very good reasons and
just weren't suitable for further habitation.  So I decided I'd take
part of *his* body.  Not ideal but the best we could swing under the
circumstances.  Of course there were all these rules and addendums he
*had* to include.  Things like *he* would be the primary personality
of the body and that I must not do anything to make ourself
conspicuous to people.  If these rules were violated, then *pff* I get
banished back to the void.  And believe me, that's not a place I'd
recommend visiting.  Rather lacking in soul, it is."  The symbiot
chuckles sarcastically.
        "So, uh, you've been stuck with this, demon-thing ever since?"
 Sly asks, eyeing the hand warily.
        "SYMBIOT!  thank you," replies the hand.  "And he hasn't
exactly been stuck with me.  I've earned my keep, after all.  Saved
our life a few times, and yours too, Smiley.  What do you think
Martinique would have done to you if I hadn't taken her lifeforce?"
        Sly starts in his chair and looks to D for confirmation.  "I
thought it just, well, ate her heart?"
        D frowns at the symbiot and replaces the glove on his hand.
"I told you.  Our bodies are extensions of our will, our essence.
When the symbiot took her heart he also took her power which was
sustaining her life."  He chose not to mention that his sword was
fashioned to do likewise.  The mutant was obviously having trouble
accepting a demon without confusing the issue with vampiric weaponry.
        Sly considers this, then asks a question that has obviously
been on his mind since the battle.  "When you say it took her power,
that means, you took it too, right?"  he asks hesitantly, still trying
to fit the concept into his mind.
        D nods.
        "Well, I mean, does that mean that I...?  Well, I feel
different, you see.  Kinda, stronger.  Am I gonna be a vampire now and
raise demons an' shit?"
        The dhampire's close scrutiny is unnerving, but Sly makes it a
point of honor not to look away.  "No," D replies at last.  "First,
Martinique's power was more subtle than demon summoning.  She captured
minds and hearts, made illusions and stole truths.  Second, yes, you
have changed but not," D holds up a hand to still his partner's
frantic leap from the table, "not into a vampire.  You are, as you
said, stronger.  Perhaps some of the Lady's power is yours to use.
Perhaps not.  Either way, you are still mortal."
        Sly relaxes and sits heavily back in his chair.  "Well by God
that's good to know," he bellows out.  "Barkeep!  Hey!  Beer and food
for my partner an' me!  Oh, and speaking of partners," he says in a
softer tone and throws out a small purse, "there's your half of the
bounty.  Thought it only fair to split it, seein as how you did half
the work an' all."
        D eyes the money, then assessing the situation clearly, takes
it and nods his thanks, refraining from insulting Sly by refusing the
generous but unecessary offer.
        "Say," Sly asks as the barkeep trudges out with their food,
"what in the name of hell was that little blue thingy anyway?  Where
can I get me one of those?"
        D pauses, thinks, then answers.  "My father gave it to me."
And he would say no more on the subject.