Sitting up from the debris of crushed food supplies on the deck of a cargo ship, the angelic detective Dexter studied the rope that hung around the ship and the bricks used to hold down tarps. He didn’t know if what the werewolf said was true but he had to take the word of his partner Tyler on where he had seen all of this before. “Are you sure about that, Ty? I mean-a lot of this stuff you can find just about anywhere…it’s pretty generic supplies for ships and yards like these.”
“Trust me on this, Dex. I’ve seen these ropes and bricks in those cars. They look the same and even smell the same.” Tyler said as he sat up. Moving onto all fours, he shook the flour loose from his mane and out of his clothes. “All of that stuff came here!”
“So that means that whoever tried to take out Nicky had to come here!” Dexter exclaimed while jumping to his feet. He shook his wings and hair free of flour before planting his hat back on his head. “They could be a dock worker who was taking orders from one of the mob bosses! Or one of the mob members! Or the bosses themselves!”
“There’s really one way to find out and that’s to start looking! We could have a fresh lead here!” But first they needed to get off the ship without being spotted. The pair had just barely escaped the police for the…second or third time in so many days and they didn’t want them down here to investigate some trespassing incident. The werewolf took the lead in guiding their way off of the crushed food pile and towards the ship’s edge. Peeking his eyes over the edge, he could already spot some dock workers below, moving the last bit of their cargo before the night could end. They looked like they weren’t from Los Angeles-tan and wild like men of the sea-and certainly sounded like they weren’t from L.A. too. The werewolf could hear where this ship was going among the gibberish that they were talking…but that didn’t feel important at the moment. They just needed a way down and away from the docks.
With the plank up and down the ship off limits because of the workers, the werewolf got some rope and threw it over the edge. He and Dexter slid down when the dock was clear, hopped onto the wood boards and both ran for the nearest warehouse. They ducked behind some crates, dove into the nearest alley and scuttled along the wall, backs up against the bricks. They weren’t sure where they were going, they just knew that they needed to get away. Get away and from their next lead. “We need to find Vivi or his boys. They could have our next lead!” The angel whispered.
“Or be the end result that we need to clear Fallon-not to mention ourselves. I can track down the chumps as soon as we get...out of…here?”
“…I’m already smelling them.”
“Just follow me!”
Continuing their scuttle down the alleyway, the two detectives popped out on the other side and hid behind some more crates. The werewolf continued to lead until he stopped. Climbing up a small wall of stacked crates, they looked down on a rather interesting scene from their perch. A small group of cars and trucks were parked nearby and slot machines, turn tables and other casino goods were being moved into a warehouse. Everything was plastered with that one familiar logo. Casino Thunder Mouse was in the middle of its’ construction.
“Come on, get moving you slugs! We can’t leave this stuff out in the open for long and I can’t be out here all night! I got other business that’s more interesting than this snooze fest…” The head of the project and manager of its workers-Virote-was sitting on a car’s hood in a nice suit with a bored…slightly sicken expression on his face.
“Plus you can’t be too far away from your keeper for so long, right boss?” This chuckling goon was mildly electrocuted with a bolt of lightning by the demigod for poking fun at his…arrangement with the vampire boss Eclipse.
“Not so funny now, huh you stupid gorilla? Look, I got casinos to visit, money to collect and some pretty ladies that need some loving. So I’m leaving this to you goons.” Virote was heading back to his car when he pulled a piece of paper out of his coat. “DON’T lose this. If anyone comes snooping around here, show them the form for the building and let them look through the dummy crates we got. I’ll be back later to make sure everything is up to snuff and ready to go in the next few days.”
“Hey boss, how did you even get this? And those dummy crates?”
“From our special patron, that’s who. Now don’t ask questions.” The demigod of lightning got in the car then and was driven away by someone that could see. That left his goons to keep unpacking their ill intended goods into the warehouse…and the two detectives on top of the crates who just saw and heard everything. They both exchanged a look before writing down the warehouse’s location and taking off again. Escaping the maze of warehouses and dock space, the detective had a suspicious new lead to check out.
The casino that Virote’s valet took him to was located in upper L.A. and its primary colors were shades of red and purple that blended into an foreboding atmosphere of elegance and danger. The wrought iron designs that caged the windows and acted as the gateway to the entrance could be identified as being Victorian in origin and some of the attendances to this gambling parlor chose to dress in such a manor. Some were ordinary attendees looking to enjoy a new type casino and experience something new. The ones that appeared to be the regulars to this particular establishment looked like they were made to fit in here… “Auugghhh…this place is covered in vampires…”
“Try to breathe through your mouth, Ty. We just need to wait for Vivi to come out.” Dexter and Tyler were currently stationed on top of a building opposite of the gothic casino and watching every entrance and exit with mini binoculars. Despite how bright upper L.A. could be during the night, they were able to hide a dark corner to hide in and take advantage of the dark shadows the casino’s lights produced. “He can’t stay in there forever…”
“I don’t know, Dex...I hear he’s an idiot with the ladies and there are a lot of girls here tonight…we may be here a while.” Tyler observed while looking through his little binoculars.
“At least until there’s one girl that doesn’t know enough not to go home with him…before that, we’ll make our move and spare the poor girl…” The angel could hear his partner chuckling softly when he noticed something pretty interesting. “Hey…isn’t…isn’t that Seth?”
“In that car on the corner!”
“I thought this part of town was Eclipse’s territory…” With two sets of eyes suddenly glued down the street, they could barely make out the Egyptian gangster in a black car. And they could just barely make out that he had a woman-a tall, tan blonde-in the car with him. It looked like they were having a heated argument before he was forced out of the car and she took off with it. “Yeesh…tough break. Very suspicious though…”
“Where have I seen that woman before…?” The sighting was signed off as a random occurrence this town was famous for before the detectives spotted their man. He was stumbling out the front door and looked sauced to the gills. He was escorted by two other men that would act as his eyes. Eclipse was standing in the doorway before closing the gate on all three of them as they stumbled and tumbled down the street. “Okay, it’s time to work. You got everything we need?”
“You bet. We’ll need to move fast, those two will sound off all kinds of alarms…” The sleuths disappeared in the shadows then.
Meanwhile on the street, Vivi was good and drunk and singing a song of his own creation about girls with big boobs. “I-I really should thank the guy who invented corsets! They just help make boobs stick out more! Really fun to see with this freaky vision of mine…” Vivi chuckled with fingers tapping on his metal blinder as he hopped from one foot to another. “Oohhh…I need to bleed the lizard…”
“Sir, not out here!”
“In that alley then! I really gotta go! I can’t dive into corset boobs with piss on my pants…” The demigod got his wish and was escorted down an alley by his vampire eyes to take a drunken whizz along the wall. By the time he was undoing the zipper to his pants, something else started to happen. Two trashcans fell from the roofs above the little groups and crowned the two vampires with wild hair pieces of trash and metal blinders of their own. Something with feathers fell from these roofs and kicked them both away in one swift motion. It turned to Vivi as the cans rolled away, grabbed a hold of his collar and flew them both to the roof. The demigod was dropped on his butt with a string of profanities on his lips. “Hey-Hey! What the ******** is your problem?! Do you even know who I am?! I can have your ******** a** delivered to you with just a-“
“Do it now!”
Feathers were replaced with fur as it ran around Vivi, wrapping something tight around his body before he could react. To make it even harder for him to move, the bundle of fur threw something big and thick around his body twice before knocking him flat on his butt against the ledge of the roof’s wall. “That should hold him for a while.”
“Nice work, buddy.”
“Who-Who are you two?!” If Vivi could still see, he would have seen Dexter and Tyler standing in the flashing neon lights that radiated from the other casinos and buildings nearby. As it was though, he could only guess their identities by the electricity that they were emitting. Once he found out, he was angry. “It’s you! You two a** ******** are in so ******** much trouble! You’re both as good as dead now! I’ll melt your skin off for destroying my casino!!!” Vivi was working up a charge of electricity that could have powered a better part of Los Angeles but when he tried to discharge it…nothing happened. “Wh-What the hell!? What the hell is this?! …RUBBER!?”
“Yep! Garden hoses and a few car tires for good measures!” Tyler admitted with a confident tone in his voice. “No way you can barbecue us now.”
“You little s**t heads!”
“That’s no way to talk to the guys in charge.” Dexter turned Vivi’s tires on its sides and rolled him over to the center of the roof with his foot. “Now we got some questions about the Fallons and you’re going to give us the answers. And you’re going to be truthful about what you tell us.”
“What makes you think I know anything about them? And more importantly, that I would squeal to jokers like you?!”
“Because if you don’t, we’re going to drop you off of this roof while you’re rolled up tighter than a sleeping bag…but not before we break your face in.” Tyler said while gesturing to Dexter with a baseball bat. “He’s got a wicked fast swing which never misses and you don’t want to know what I’m really good at.”
“Now start talking! Why were your boys planting drugs in Kirk’s place?! And don’t say that they weren’t there! We got a bit of their jackets and a poker chip from your place to prove that it was your boys!”
“Are you the guy who’s trying to bump off the Fallons one by one?!”
“N-No! What are you crazy?! I make more money off of them than I do a better part of the casinos I take money from! Why would I kill and frame some of my golden geese?!”
“Then why were you trying to get Kirk and Donny arrested earlier tonight?”
“I ain’t talking!”
The angel quickly stood over Vivi and aimed the bat to swing down on his head. It missed by just a few inches on his right side, leaving a small dent in the cement next to his head. “Keep that up and you may not have teeth to talk with.”
“Yeah.” The werewolf was starting to snarl as he slowly let the beast inside of him out, with jaws extending and claws growing.
“Okay, okay! I’ll talk, I’ll talk! Just don’t go psycho on me!” Vivi quickly let slip before putting on a brave face again. “I’m not trying to bump off the Fallons…but I know that someone else is. For the last few days I’ve been getting phone calls from a guy that asks to use my boys for some odd little chores…he won’t tell me what they are but I don’t ask questions. He has to be a gangster because he knew the password everyone has to give me if they want to rent my boys!”
“So this guy has been calling you up to use your goons…he called you and told you plant drugs at Kirk’s place, didn’t he?!” The werewolf said with a foot on the tire.
“Yes! He told me where to send my boys to get the goods, when to plant them and how to get in! Now that I think about it, I think he told them where to get those cars that bumped Nicky and his chick the other day…but that one I didn’t order, I swear! I was getting ready for the games that night before you two morons crashed it! And none of my boys were involved with the jockey killing either! I’m not allowed near the race track ever since I was banished for rigging the races! And for frying a few jockeys and causing a small stampede with my lightning…”
“Who is this guy?!” The angel demanded to know.
“I don’t know! He uses a fake voice every time he calls! You got to listen to me, fellas. I don’t want fire crotch or her brothers dead or passing around bitches in prison but this is an opportunity of a life time for me. This guy-This guy has connections that I really need!”
“What the hell are you babbling about?” Tyler asked while setting Vivi back on his butt.
“You can’t think that I’m happy being tethered to that b***h Eclipse. I can’t leave her side for long without getting sick, she threatens my life and my balls nonstop and whenever she isn’t dragging me along to meetings with her vampire flunkies, she’s dragging me to German pubs that have piss poor beer that I’m stuck drinking while she’s humping the blonde off of anything with muscles and a d**k! I’m sick of it! But this guy has a way out for me!”
“A way out? How’s that? Your deal is with the gods! Only they can remove your head gear and your curse with Eclipse.” Dexter questioned. “You’re lying!”
“I’m not lying! This guy says he can-“ Before Vivi could say anything more-anything that was starting to feel really crucial to the case-the shadows underneath his body flipped up like someone had just pulled the rug out from under him. The rubber clad demigod was whipped up off of the roof and quickly snatched by the free moving shadow with the shape, grace and speed of a hooded cobra. “AAAAHHHH!”
The demigod was carried by the towering shadow towards the stairs where its master was standing in the doorway. The vampire mob boss Eclipse was glaring at Dexter and Tyler with red and purple eyes as she commanded her shadows with only a hand gesture. She glared at Vivi out of the corner of her eyes. “You talk WAY too much. I guess it can’t be helped when your mouth is the only thing that still works right.”
“Eclipse, wait now! I can explain-“
“Shut up. You would have been better off taking that bat to the face.” The vampire barely moved when her shadow started to act up again. The smooth and slender form of the cobra melted and reformed into a mass of squirming tentacles that surrounded the demigod. “Now keep quiet-or else you’ll be feeling more of these tentacles in an intimate fashion.”
“AAHH! G-GOD DAMN IT!” Vivi sank deeper into the shadows, settling down to make the tentacles settle down.
That left Eclipse to deal with the detectives. Her vampires were already scaling the building to surround them and more of her shadows were beginning to take form. The glare in her red/purple eyes was starting to turn deadly and cold. “…I don’t know which one of you I hate the most. The filthy werewolf or the pious angel…” The shadows around her turned sharp and jagged, spinning and rotating on their stems like razor blades in a blender or daggers in a plane engine. “I’ll just have to kill you both in an equally long and painful fashion.” There was a single shout from a single vampire in German but it didn’t take much to know what it could have meant: Kill them.
The vampires jumped from the walls they were scaling and set upon the pair with all intention of ripping them to pieces while still letting their leader have the most to tear out of them. Dexter responded by swinging the bat he found and knocking the teeth out of the first vampire to attack him before summoning up his sword. Tyler was allowing his instincts to take over this time one and was going nuts on his share of the lot. Eclipse never moved from where she entered the rooftop but her shadows were moving like wild beasts. Darting and weaving through the thick mesh of bodies that started to collect on the rooftop, these shadows were ready to take the sleuths down and simply pulverize their bodies into hamburger meat.
Between the vampires and the shadows, Dexter and Tyler were in bad shape. They weren’t bitten thankfully but they were quickly being torn apart. “Ty! We need-to get out of here!”
“I’m working on that!” Clearing the way for his partner, Tyler got on top of the ledge and got ready to jump. “Dex! Let’s go!”
The angel fought his way to get to the werewolf but was quickly pulled back by the vampire masses. All fangs present were ready to sink into his body before Dexter felt something grab his foot and pull him out of the horde. It was the werewolf, spinning and throwing his body off of the roof and into the air. “DEXTER, GET FLAPPING!”
The angel was shocked by this but the feeling of being in the air got his wings working and he started to fly. Tyler was quick to jump off the roof and grab onto Dexter’s ankle. They wouldn’t get away completely unscathed though. When she saw that they were escaping, Eclipse finally moved. Rushing through her hordes with inhuman speed, the vampire mobster jumped after the detectives with shadows quickly taking new shape in her hands. The black mass became a sinister scythe of darkness that she swung with lethal precision and speed that almost defied physics. By some stroke of luck though, the scythe barely landed on the detectives in the course of her multiple swings. They were sliced up and bleeding, but Dexter was still able to escape Eclipse and fly higher in the sky. The vampire fell down into the street but cushioned her fall with her shadows. With the shadows extended themselves out like spider’s legs, they landed first and lowered Eclipse to the ground in one movement. She watched as the detectives flew away with deadly cold stare. “…leave them for now. There’s no where they can hide.”
“Well that didn’t work out like I had hoped!” Tyler said, swinging himself towards Dexter’s hands for a better grip.
“We did get something useful though! Vivi was taking orders from someone and his boys were involved in the car crash and drug raid! He’s out as a suspect!” Dexter replied with a hopeful expression on his face. “Whoever it was that’s been attacking the Fallons has to be powerful enough to break Vivi free of his bond to Eclipse!”
“So who is this guy then?! We still need to answer that much!”
“Yeah…Yeah, you’re right…but I have a good feeling about this, Tyler! We’re about ready to find our next big clue, I can feel it!”
“You’re feeling blood loss! You got nicked really good on your sides…find a place to land. We need to do some damage control and rest for the night…”
The angel was still hopeful though. He knew that they were about to break the case…they just needed a few more good clues that would bring everything together…
It was the sound of cooing birds and the soft light of the dawn that woke Dexter and Tyler up the next morning. With no other place to go and in need of a place to roost, the angel and the werewolf took refuge on a billboard platform for the night. After making some improvised bandages out of some strips of cloth and wrapping each other up, they finally passed out until the next morning. “Dex…Dexter, wake up.” Tyler said, scratching his mane loose as he shook the angel sleeping next to him. Dexter woke up, sat up and opened up his wings with a long yawn. “Remind me to never fall asleep on a metal grate again…”
“Deal. And remind me never to nap where birds roost…it stinks like dead pigeon up here.” Looking out at the city with legs dangling over the edge of the metal platform, the sunlight was starting to paint the colors of a new day over all of L.A. and Dexter had to wonder where they had to go next. “Back to square one again, huh?”
“Back to fricking square one.” The werewolf said as he leaned against the rail to look out at the city bathed in the warm glow of the early morning. “It wasn’t Vivi, that much we know now…but it could still be Eclipse, Seth…even Ares or some third unknown party that we don’t know about. I think we’re about at the end of the rope here, buddy…”
“We can’t give up though. We said we wouldn’t give up here. Tayte’s depending on us, along with Cyrus.”
“I know, I know…but without another lead, we’re stuck up here on this stupid billboard…” Turning around to look at this billboard, Tyler had to ask Dexter something. “Hey Dexter, that girl with Seth last night, what did she look like?”
“Blonde, tall, tan…I almost feel like she’s from Central or South America for some reason. Why do you ask?”
“Turn around. We may have something that could be a new lead.” As soon as the angel turned around, Tyler saw the same look that he had on his own face appeared on the lips of his partner. On the billboard behind them, the mystery girl that drove off with Seth’s car was there. Dressed in a tight and slinky salsa dress of teal and tangerine orange, she was the billboard girl for an Argentinean club not too far from where the billboard was now. Without saying another word to each other, the sleuths exchanged a quick fist bump before they were on the move again.
“Are you sure this is the right place?”
“This is where the address on the billboard said to go…”
“…it’s a real dump.”
With very few people out so early in the morning, the detectives had no problems reaching the salsa/tango club on foot but now they had to wonder if they were at the right place. The building they had arrived at was made of brick and looked like it had been abandoned about twenty years ago…it was almost like how they found their own little bulldog building before they moved in for practically nothing. Looking at the front doors to the building, the sleuths were almost ready to leave but instead went up the stairs and knocked. Just to check and see if this place was really abandoned. They waited a few seconds before the doors cracked open a little with a pair of eyeballs looking them over from the other side. The doors closed again for a few moments, there was whispering on the other side before the doors flew open once again and the gumshoes were pulled inside. “Hey, wait-!”
“Hold on there, partner-!”
The scene that took place a few minutes after what appeared to be abduction was pretty different than what most people would expect. The inside of the building was in better shape than the outside for the most part. A large square stage took up most of the space near the back, with decorative balcony booths dotting the walls on its sides. Bright, colorful decorative plants and trees of a tropical nature gave the club a more festive feel and it obviously had the lights to help with that atmosphere of Latin entertainment. The stage was starting to show wear and tear though. The balconies and plants needed some touching up and the lights looked like they needed replacing. Dexter and Tyler noticed all of this…as they were seated down in a comfy couch with an Argentinean breakfast spread in front of them from the buffet. This was companied by a bunch of pretty Argentinean girls helping themselves to the food and getting cozy around and on top of them-much to their disapproval. It didn’t take long to see that they were trying to work the boys for whatever money they had. It looked like it was the only thing keeping this place afloat beside the usual customers.
Somewhere between the struggling and the girls asking them why they were visiting, how happy they were to see them, offering them breakfast (which they took) and a chance to dance (they didn’t take it), Dexter was able to ask about the girl on their billboard and her relationship to Seth Tarik with flushed cheeks and an embarrassed tone in his voice. That was when the younger girls started to back off and the older women came in to have a serious talk with them. The girl’s name was Serena Acosta: She was an amphithere that used to work at their club. The girl was a tango and salsa beast of fire and passion that brought in customers from all walks of life. These ladies sounded sad when they described how Serena had to quit a few weeks ago. She said that she couldn’t dance anymore and went looking for work elsewhere. After that, lots of people stopped coming to dance, the business took a hit and the manager ran off with what was left of the money. That left the dancers to try and keep the place going anyway they could…
The older girls were worried about Serena, that much they told Dexter and Tyler as well. Thanks to her dancing, beauty and personality, she was rather popular with a lot of different men. The amphithere was particularly popular with made men…gangsters that ranked from goons to bosses-especially bosses. According to these women, before Serena quit, she was seen getting cozy with a few specific bosses. She had been seen with them a couple of times, as opposed to the one or two times she was with the rest of the chumps. If they had to guess, Serena had to quit because one of these bosses got her pregnant.
That bit of information felt like a regular gold nugget as Dexter and Tyler exchanged a look…before they were quickly ambushed by the pretty girls again. “Hey-Hey! Please-Personal space please!”
“I’m already a happily mated werewolf! And Lulu is WAY better looking than all of you put together so back off!”
“We don’t have any money to give to you anyway! Not for dances, food or-ANYTHING!”
Once they heard about this, everyone backed off and asked what they both did for a living.
“We’re detectives, gumshoes! We’re looking into a case now, that’s why we’re here!” Dexter explained.
“We’re both dirt poor and in no position to be giving out money!”
As quick as the pair was herded into the building with intent, they were quickly gathered up and tossed out onto the street with all of the desire of dumping someone useless out of one’s life. They weren’t entirely pleased about the treatment. “…did we just get booted out of a failing club?”
“We were. Crazy chicas!” The moment the werewolf heard the words “call the police” from the closing doors, he pulled Dexter onto his feet and they started to run again. “So now what?!”
“We have to go back to Dani and Ellie’s! We have our notes there and we need to go over everything again! I think we’ve just about got the case cracked!”
“How do you figure?!”
“I just-I just know! We have all the pieces, we just need to put them all together now and see what the picture is!”
“I hope you’re right, Dex! We can’t keep running forever and neither can Tayte. She may only have a day or two left before the Wild Hunt brings the hammer down. If this guy doesn’t try to take her and all the Fallons out at once first that is.”
“Let’s get to it then! Come on!”
The thought of losing Tayte now when they were so close to clearing her name gave Dexter more drive and determination than ever before. The chance to give Cyrus closure on his murder was also dandling in front of their faces like the long sought after carrot and they weren’t about to lose it and only experience the pain of the stick. They had felt enough of the stick in this case: Dexter and Tyler wanted their carrot, they wanted justice! So they ran. They ran without realizing just how close to the finish line they were and what final obstacle they would face before reaching their goals.
I didn’t want to lose Tayte then. The idea of her disappearing in any way was enough to drive me crazy… Imagining her in a cage or driven mad by the Hunt or…or even worse, dead because I couldn’t catch this guy… I couldn’t allow it. Not after everything I had been through. Tyler and I had personal stakes in this case now. Cyrus would get a name for his murderer, the guy would be put away and Tayte…I was praying that Tayte would still stick around. I didn’t want her to fly out of my life to a place where I couldn’t find her again. I didn’t know how it was possible…but I had fallen in love with her sometime during the case.
I wasn’t about to let those feelings go to waste. Not now, not ever.
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