**************************************************************************** ****************

He stared into the darkness, eyes watching the city lights dance gaily around below with the interest of one who had been watching a similar scene, dourly, with a grim look on their face, for quite a long span of time, and really had no urge to view it any longer.

His half lidded eyes didn't move or twitch in the slightest, suggesting that he might not actually be watching the city streets, but looking at people and events that weren't necessarily there at the moment... he was looking far beyond what mere sights he had been offered to look upon, and was soaking in memories of the past... trying to find it... trying to understand it...

In his hand he clasped a bottle of beer, his fist tightly wound around its neck. Two eyes, both slightly differing in color, finally closed, and the man bit his lip lightly, eyebrows knitting together in a sort of eternal frustration.

"Damn it..." the man gasped softly. "I just don't get it... I don't get it and... I can't take it any longer!" His voice was haunted and low, depressing to listen to, with even a hint of inner turmoil to it. "Dammit!!" The man finally growled, his large hand clenching around the bottle so tight, it cracked in his powerful grip. It then occurred to one that, though the man was tall and lanky looking, his strength was obviously something to be reckoned with.

The man abruptly stood up from his place on the ground of an abandoned apartment, facing a large window that had an excellent view of the city the forlorn man had, quite accidentally, be assured, wandered into the other day... maybe searching for answers. He ran a hand through his head of messy, dark moss colored hair, his other hand dropping the remainder of the empty beer bottle, uncaring as the broken shards of glass clattered to the ground and spun around every which way.

He paused to stare at his hand, which one would assume would be a bit bloody and marred from his previous activity... but as the man watched his palm intently, every scrape, every tiny laceration, nearly instantly healed, growing smaller in length and width, and shrinking into itself. It was doing the work a few weeks might have in a few seconds, until their was not even a scar remaining, much less a gory mess. The man smirked a bit as the procedure was finished, lowering his hand slowly.

"One of the only perks..." he observed quietly, now staring up at the ceiling. Any random person happening to look upon the man just then would have described his expression as looking, 'lost and surprisingly upset', or even 'Damned, with an 'edge of your seat' hint of paranoia to it'. Indeed, the slightly mad glint to the man's eyes was enough to suggest he had been around the block a few times.

Finally, he turned his head to the side, eying the door not that far off, that would lead him out of the dank apartment he had found himself in. "I... I don't want to do this," he admitted, as if just to make sure he really didn't, "But I don't have a choice!.. and... anything is better than this... this eternal unrest... isn't it?" After a moment of introverted silence, the man decided that yes, it ought to be... and turned on his heal, decidedly leaving the dark room. He didn't bother to use the door as he walked through the wall without batting a lash, unhindered by normal, human, inconveniences.

A cool breeze drifted through the now empty apartment, blowing the remaining pieces of glass across the floor with soft scraping sounds, herding them into a dark corner where they could not be seen... a hazardous thing now, for any unknowing person who might walk by, and not notice the jagged shards...


O, My Troubles With God.

By Rio Grande~


To better understand Faye Valentine, notorious (in her opinion) bounty hunter, one might examine the way she thought about her appearance. She was, for sure, quite attractive looking. With a body some woman would (quite literally) kill for, an oval face with pleasant features, and a beautiful, not to mention natural, turquoise eye color, the purple haired beauty was a sight for sore eyes in many men's opinion.

But, Faye looked at these things as more of a useful asset... almost like a really, really sharp and dependable sword, or nuclear weapon. Something she could easily use to her advantage and (more often than not) other people's disadvantage. It wasn't her fault if men sometimes forgot their wits when she cozied up to them, thus making it easier for the woman to knock their teeth into their brains. It wasn't her fault that when she leaned over the typical male was often not looking at her face, necessarily, letting her more quickly aim the gun at their head's. Nooo... it was just lucky for her, was all.

Thus, Faye found it very important to maintain her God like body, for business purposes. All of this making the one, and ONLY reason she was getting a manicure and pedicure today, by a small, Asian woman with quick, strong hands, that applied the deep red nail polish to her perfectly kept nails with trained precision. She wasn't doing all this because she was vain, or anything...

"Thanks," Faye said curtly as she was led over to a corner, where she stuck her hands under a ledge that blew hot air onto her rapidly drying fingers. She hated this part... she got bored, so she always took her hands out too quickly, and mucked up polish, that looked so perfect and smooth just then.

In fact, actually, Faye DID have a reason to be spending her afternoon at the manicure salon that day. Well, at least, the Salon, 'Nancy's Beautiful Nails', was located in Neptune Park, a rather wealthy city on Mars, where only the richest, snobbiest, and powerful types of people actually lived, and was thus a tourist attraction for most other people in the galaxy. Faye found it a bit boring, the sparkling clean streets and ritzy cafe's had been fun at first... but after an entire week of coming up with dead ends concerning the whereabouts of the wanted, Madame Yoloko, Faye was getting a bit irritated, and beginning to feel suffocated in this town of unbearably wealthy characters. Where was a good, old fashioned, whole in the wall bar when you needed one? Not in this strategically designed, blue skies and perfectly trimmed grass city, that was for sure. Faye had long ago decided she was suffering from a lack of smog and danger, and if this bounty didn't show her face soon, she might just have to abandon the whole thing and take up another job. One preferably in a dingy, poor neighborhood, with lots of illegal drug use involved.

"Ahhh... good enough," Faye decided with a sigh, taking her hands out from under the dryer, and eying her shining nails with a smile. Perfect.

Smiling to her manicurist briefly as she exited the shop, Faye trotted down the (incredibly clean) staircase, shouldering her purse, and opening the door, exposing herself to the bright, golden rays of sunshine that attacked her on yet another perfect day.

"Doesn't it ever RAIN here, or anything?" Faye wondered quietly, pulling her sunglasses down from atop her head. Ignoring the lingering gaze of a wealthy looking man in a dark green jacket off to her left, Faye confidently began to strut down the street. All the while, she was keeping her destination in mind as she glanced all around, looking for any signs of a thin woman who stood about 5'7 with long, dark blue hair and a scar running down her face, to her left arm, to her wrist like a vine twining itself around her flesh...

About two weeks ago, Faye had overheard (in one, dank, bar or another) the stories of a rich, aristocratic woman, ('With like, a HUGE rack,' the man had been quick to assure his equally as wasted friend,) who also happened to be a mentally insane ax murderer. She had a hefty bounty on her head these days, and was rumored to be living somewhere on Mars currently, keeping a low profile.

Now, usually, Faye liked to avoid female bounties, since, truthfully, they were all much trickier, and dangerous, than the brainless, fat ass males she usually took in. After all, the female species was just a lot more cunning than any lousy man! Thus they were to be taken a bit more seriously, in Faye's opinion. But, in any case, when Faye heard just exactly HOW much money was involved with this 'Madame Yoloko', she made an exception to her usual rule. 15 million Wong! That was A LOT of money for just one woman! One prissy, rich woman, Faye was sure, which narrowed down her brain cell, and danger level, quite a lot in Faye's eyes.

The people willing to pay this much money were actually the woman's in- laws themselves! Parents to her late husband, that is. Madame Yoloko had shot her husband dead with about fifty holes left in his body, around a year ago. Along with her two young sons, in her old mansion, back on Earth.

'Living with three men, playing the part of the jobless housewife? No wonder she went insane.' Faye decided dryly, yawning as she neared 'Restaurant de Poison', well known for it's fabulous seafood menu. The Woman's in-laws had been so outraged when they discovered the identity of their son and grand-children's murderer, they eagerly dished out as much money as they possibly could, in order to have Yoloko's head served to them on a platter, and quick. That had been around seven months ago now, though, and nada one bounty hunter had managed to pin down the woman.

'Like I said, women are much more intelligent then men. No wonder none of those louses could catch her! This is a job for a lady of my skill, obviously,' Faye thought to herself with a small smile, entering the restaurant and immediately feeling a wave of cold hair wash over her. Yes, AC was a good thing.

As she entered, a waiter with a perfectly groomed, curled mustache quickly approached her. As he neared, Faye watched, with some (carefully covered) amusement, as his eyebrows disappeared into his hairline. Considering that this restaurant WAS a bit fancy, and probably mini cut off shorts, and a revealing yellow halter, were not oh-so-appropriate, this reaction was normal. Still, Faye confidently flicked a purple tendril of hair back behind her ear and smiled charmingly at the tall waiter. She had no modesty to speak of, and was rarely embarrassed.

"Erm, how many?" the waiter asked in a carefully polite, French accent.

"Just one," Faye replied quickly, watching the waiter intently as his eyes tried not to stray to low.

"Zis way, Mademoiselle," he said, briskly turning and walking off to an empty table near the back of the restaurant. Its deep red carpets, and pleasantly lit white walls, with expensive looking moldings decorating the ceiling, not to mention a large crystal chandelier, proved the restaurant to be worthy of the rich and snobby people it appeared to be serving. Faye glanced hungrily and the women's jewelry, and expensive haircuts... if only she could afford to live like these ladies.

Married to rich, powerful men, with nothing to do all day but hang around their mansion and gossip at the country club. Well, Faye certainly didn't plan on getting married, didn't want to be a house wife, and had no particular like for country clubs, but she would indeed be rich if she caught this Yoloko! With that in mind, Faye quickly got herself seated, thanking the waiter for the finely stitched menu he gave her, and got to sipping her glass of water as her eyes strayed around the room casually, trying making it look as though she really did fit in.

There were no customers that Faye could see that looked at all threatening or out of place, (not including herself) but she supposed that was the point. If Yoloko was trying to avoid being found, well, this was obviously not they type of place she would just waltz into, right? Wrong.

Apparently, Faye had discovered, thanks to a particularly talkative, young, male police officer Faye had... bumped into, on the street the other day... Yoloko had a fetish for seafood... expensive seafood. And even though she was technically on the run, Yoloko had been spotted once or twice in different areas on Mars a few months ago, in various ritzy seafood restaurants, not all that different from the one Faye was currently in! Faye had done her homework well, too, and judging from the other places the sly woman had been spotted at, this would be the perfect next place to stop by and have a tasty little lobster dinner...

'On the other hand, I'm probably not the first one to figure that out,' Faye admitted to herself with a stubborn sigh, taking out a cigarette, as it seemed various other people around her were showing no hesitance to light up. 'I'm sure they're police and bounty hunters all over seafood restaurants on Mars with the same idea I have now, if that rookie cop knew information like this. Still... it's better than nothing!' Faye assured herself, glancing at the cheapest salad on the menu, and firmly deciding that THAT was exactly what she wanted to eat.

Also reminding herself that if she actually DID spot Yoloko, (which would really, honestly, be a shock,) she ought to be careful, because all of the other times the woman had been spotted, in had been in the midst of a group of shady looking men, obviously hired body guards of a sort. Which was actually a smart move, if the woman could pay them enough to make sure the bodyguards themselves didn't try to hand the woman over.

'But it doesn't make sense...' Faye decided irritably, blowing a smoke ring as her brows knitted together in confusion, both elbows placed on the table in front of her. 'She couldn't have THAT much money, since she's practically ruined without her dear husband to pay for her. She should be poor! It's not like she's robbed a bank or anything. How much could she be paying these men who protect her, so that they don't get any ideas about giving her to the police? Is it MORE than her bounty? I highly doubt it...'

Suddenly, Faye found herself snapped out of her bout of uncharacteristically deep thoughts, as a flash of dark green caught her attention.

Her head whipped to the side to catch side of it again. and there it was. a man... with a head of shaggy... almost fuzzy... green hair... She took in a sharp gasp, and immediately felt her world begin to spin around her.

'Spike?' Faye wondered, her jaw dropping, unfortunately causing her cigarette to be dropped to the floor, where it rolled under the table, forgotten... suddenly it seemed as though there were more important things to worry about.

'No way... no freaking way...it couldn't be that lunkhead... he's dead...' Faye felt her eyes fog over, as a whole world of painful memories from three years ago came crashing down on her. She quickly brought one hand up to cover her trembling mouth, wanting no one to see her break down right there in the middle of things.

As she watched the tall figure stay standing a few feet away from her, back still turned, Faye unconsciously shrank back into her velvet chair. She didn't want to see Spike... that man. that idiot!... brought on such an onslaught of aching, painful emotions, that honestly confused and greatly distressed her, just by thinking about him! She didn't know what would happen if she were actually to meet Spike again. Her fragile heart would, most likely, break, was her guess...

'But... what the hell is Spike doing in a sea-food restaurant - on Mars!?' she wondered furiously, the hand by her mouth clenching into a nervous fist. 'Maybe.... maybe to look for me?...' In all her life, Faye was just about positive she had never known someone who could make her feel so raw with emotion, or so vulnerable... even after three years... and It angered her to no end.

Faye's eyes widened fearfully as Spike slowly started to turn around, and look in her direction. She bit her lip so hard it nearly bled, as the trepidation and excitement put her nerves on end. What if he saw her! What would she do?! Finally, Spike made his strangely laboriously slow turn, and-

It wasn't Spike.

Faye felt the bottom drop out of her stomach, and her hands fell limply at her sides, trembling. It was as though she had just been at the top of a really scary and fast roller coaster, had been totally ready for the vertical plummet that was inevitably coming, had started off and then... there was nothing. The roller coaster just ended. And suddenly Faye felt like throwing up, even felt the stinging prickle of tears in her eyes.

As the tall woman, wearing a dark trench coat and a (disgusting!) green fuzzy hat caught sight of Faye, head bowed, shoulders shaking, a flash of worry passed over her face, and she slowly approached the purple haired woman.

"Dear... are you quite all right?" she asked Faye, who was still valiantly holding back a tsunami of tears and confusing feelings.

"I'm ... I'm just fine!" Faye spat, quite honestly having no idea why all this upset her so much. She KNEW Spike was dead. He'd been dead for three years! Why would he come back now, just to meet her in a restaurant on Mars, for crying out loud? The poor woman had absolutely no idea why she had gotten so riled up, and was officially disgusted with herself. "Just... go away!" she hissed. The woman's eyes widened, and she quickly backed up, hearing the vehemence in Faye's voice clearly, and getting the distinct picture of a cat, ready to swipe out with her powerful claws, in her mind.

"Well, my, no need to get offended," she muttered darkly, wandering away, and thinking Faye just dreadfully rude.

Sniffling softly, and backing away farther into her little corner, arms crossed, Faye took in a shaky breath in a visible effort to calm herself. Jeez! She was really, truly loosing her mind. And she hated him for it. Thoughts of that arrogant, deceased, bounty hunter were getting in the way of her job!

"Hm?" Faye mumbled, wiping furiously at her stray tears, and suddenly realizing in mid-scowl, that it wasn't really just her emotions getting the better of her, it was really the...

"Holy shit! There's a fire under my table!"


As soon as Faye shrieked this observation to the entire restaurant, literally hearing the expensive jewelry all turn her way with a giant groan, she instantly regretted it, noting the fact that it had been in fact HER cigarette, which had started the mini fireplace next to her feet.

Never the less, the buxom bounty hunter still jumped from her chair with a surprised yelp, leaning down to prod and her singed ankle tenderly.

"Excuse est moi, mademoiselle, is zere... a problem?" the waiter with the curly mustache from before asked, eying Faye's table with some worry as the table cloth burst into flames.

Deciding she was already pretty deep in this anyway, Faye continued her tirade, apparently just aghast with the restaurant itself.

"That- that could be ME!" Faye howled, clutching her chest with pure fear. She rounded on the waiter, simply terrifying the poor man. "I should SUE, you incompetent French prick!" she screamed, suddenly lamenting over the fact that this really was HER fault, because she sure could sure use the money...

"I-I am so sorry!" the waiter gurgled nervously, wringing his hands together, while another waiter quickly poured a cup of water over the fire. As Faye spotted the manager marching towards her from the corner of her eye, looking slightly distressed, she decided that it really was enough... and she should probably be going anyway... Madame Yoloko was OBVIOUSLY not here... and the last thing she needed right now was some trouble.

"Well... you just see if I EVER eat here again!" she spat, turning on her heal and quickly dashing out of the restaurant as fast as her pumps would take her, determined to get back to her hotel as soon as humanly possible and just lay down, maybe cut away some serious time to think things over.

She appeared to not be entirely over the bane of her life's death yet...

How odd.


-Author's Notes

So, how did you like the prologue? I have a feeling I'm not sticking true to Faye's true personality, but whatever... I'm doing my best! This story is going to be a relatively long one so get read for about maybe ten more chapters of story before this, really weird, saga is over. Please review and look out for the next chapter: Fast Food.
-Rio Grande ~ (papaya41@aol.com)