The Fifth Column 2.0
Author: Denigoddess2001
Address: Denigoddess2001@yahoo.com
Episode Title: The Pattern Of Achilles
Segment: The Fifth Column 2.0
Rating: R (strong language and adult situations, allusions to violence)
Date: 10/7/02 11:31:38 AM

"Like Achilles, he was defying the community, hewing to a solitary line, in loyalty to a private ideal of conduct, of honor. In the last analysis, the bloodstained warrior and the gentle philosopher live and die by the same heroic, and tragic, pattern."
~Robert Fagles


Mutant Affairs Mandate
United States Senate Resolution (Revised 9 October 2006)
Tom Selleck Administration

"After analysis of encrypted evidence provided by Project Sentinel (File classified) this United States Senate has analyzed reevaluated its previous resolution (Senate Resolution (09/89). As of 1 October 2006, the US Senate authorizes the Department of the Interior to reactivate the Department of Mutant Affairs (called hereafter the DMA). The purpose of this government organization is to execute the following functions and directives:
Analyze, Investigate, Catalogue and Monitor Metasapien entities collectively known as 'Mutants' and 'Preternaturals'). The restructured DMA will extend into ventures concerning the previous United States Senate resolution. Additionally, the DMA is authorized to diversify its original charter to incorporate documentation and surveillance of Metasapien movement within the functional specialty of the DMA's recently expanded parameters.


Pursuant to this end, the DMA will conform the current decree to modify the expanded parameters as follows:
1: When possible, bearing in mind security considerations, communicate with Civic and civilian organizations performing sanctioned Metasapien Analysis and inquiries.

2: Establish a database of all Metasapien Subjects encountered and registered - including but not limited to: Identity, Nature of Mutation/Ability, Group/National/Political Affiliation, Criminal Record (where applicable). This database is decreed classified and not for public examination except to Researchers approved by the US Senate Defense Committee.

3: Conduct covert surveillance of entities when possible, without violating said entities' Constitutional rights. Such surveillance MUST be carried out according to all Laws and Legal Precedents of the state or city of its occurrence. Complete cooperation from authorities at all levels is expected.

4: Appraise the feasible effect upon and reaction and response by Local and State governments/ law enforcement agencies to entities overall.

5: Ascertain the impact of entities upon local/state/national Security and report to this DMA weekly. More regular reports will be accepted in matters deemed paramount or when a security risk is recognized.

6: Calculate and Employ agendas to ensure entities accountability to Law Enforcement intervention, bearing in mind the deficiency of 'normal' Police procedures to deal with Metasapien activity. Analyze the necessity for specialized Police Forces or Paramilitary Units to handle similar situations.

7: Where necessary, operate in Support of Law Enforcement and Defense Organizations and Units engaged in lawful operations as a 'peace keeping force' - prevailing Legal and Defense relevant considerations will decide The nature and scope of these activities to individual Operations and situations.
Furthermore, the US Senate Defense Committee will oversee and examine operations of this Department. We reserve the right to advise and enact policy changes upon adaptations to this mandate whenever required. The DMA will adapt this policy to reflect the most efficient use of available resources and personnel. The DMA will continue the stated goals of maintaining the status quo of security at all levels.

Tuesday -October 10th, 2006
A Red-eye flight from New York City
Somewhere over the Midwest
**************

Agent Elisa Maza-Wyvern shifted uncomfortably in her seat. The tailored black skirt she wore was quickly tugged down so that it fell modestly over the front of her knees. She closed her eyes as the flashing green letters of the DMA's directives blinked brightly at her. A heavy sky escaped her as the gravity of the situation settled upon the DMA's newest agent.

"How am I going to help these people and keep the DMA happy at the same time?" She sighed aloud.

While not quite sympathetic to the plight of Metasapiens, President Selleck believed in the Constitutional rights of all American citizens -be they human or otherwise. With the reactivation of the Department of Mutant Affairs, agents with specialized experience were actively recruited. At the time of contact by the Department of the Interior, Captain Elisa Maza-Wyvern headed the Gargoyle Task Force of New York City. New York Governor Alec Baldwin had made the appointment and she had assumed the post. Aggressive negotiation on her part had ensured that her staff included valuable contacts such as David Xanatos (representing the corporate/ private sector) and Goliath Wyvern (main advisor to Agent Maza-Wyvern). There had been whisperings of nepotism in the Department, but Maza's very public marriage set a strong precedent for tolerance and mutual cooperation between Metasapiens and Humanity. The integration of Mutants and Metasapiens into the DMA also sent a strong message of forbearance to the US Population.

"Mom, are we there yet?" A seven-year-old little boy with copper skin clutched a teddy bear tightly to his chest. Elisa leaned forward and ruffled the black curly hair that crowned his head. She affectionately rubbed his back where she knew small wings remained hidden to the average human eye. [How much he looks like Derek.]

"No, Darius. We have a while yet before we hit Nebraska." She murmured. "Go back to sleep, Honey."

"Hey, Mom, are there Gargoyles in Nebraska?" Hazel-gray eyes fought to stay open.

"Yes, Darius, there are." Elisa quietly told him. "You'll even see an egg and a rookery."

"Cool! I can't wait." Darius mumbled into the upholstery of the airline passenger seat. "Love you, Mom."

She flashed him a loving smile. He murmured wordlessly, snuggled in his seat and closed his eyes. Elisa bent forward and drew the blanket closer around him. She planted a quick peck on his forehead. "Pleasant dreams, Honey."

She looked over to the other seat that held a much-smaller child. Greer snuggled into the hand-knitted quilt that was gift from her "Uncle" Broadway. The bright pink and purple squares were difficult on the eyes. Elisa knew that small blanket had been made with much love. Greer clutched the quilt close to her as though it were a long-lost friend or a beloved pet.

Elisa still felt discomfort of being mother to Goliath's daughter by another wife. It was a naked pain to know that Goliath had loved another woman deeply. She knew well the story of Adrienne Westfall and all the intricate, sordid details it entailed. She abruptly pushed the thoughts aside. [This little girl needs me.]

On cue, obsidian eyes opened and stared wordlessly at Elisa.

Charcoal ringlets of dark ash framed the small toddler's face. At just more than one year, Greer seemed uncannily aware of the world around her. She struggled to sit up and turned her gaze to Elisa. Eyes of darkness stared at the older woman with a perception far beyond the tot's years. A tiny finger pointed to the dark sky filled with stars. "We go?"

"Yes, we're going to Linoma." Elisa sighed. The blood of the Fae ran through that child's veins. Goliath's former wife had had given birth to the little enigma sitting so close. Small horns peaked between grayish-black curls. Ten small talons curved perfectly on Greer's feet and a small, prehensile tail curled through the folds of her vibrant coverlet. Greer reminded her stepmother of a cross between a cherub and a gremlin.

"See Fae?" The little girl asked clearly. "And Dragons?"

"We'll see some, I imagine." The agent replied cryptically as she thought of the difficult tasks and projects that lie ahead.

"I love you, Ellie." The quiet voice cooed as eyes slowly fluttered shut. A small smile graced the toddler's lips. "Many dark things there. Make light."

"What dark things?" Elisa's jet eyes darted over and viewed the now-sleeping body of Greer Wyvern. [I hate it when she says things like that! I just wished she were like any other typical one-year-old.] "Good night, Sweetheart."

Elisa knew better than to rouse the dark child. She lacked the control of older counterparts such as Alexander and his little sister, Eileen Xanatos. Sometimes, when awakened unexpectedly, Greer's powers were uncontrollable. The little girl possessed a hellish temper when abruptly awakened. Items often found new locations in a room without help of physical hands guiding them. Elisa knew that Greer needed guidance. Yet, there were so few Faerie/ Human couples in the world. She and Goliath did their best to provide love and guidance to the charmed poppet.

Elisa flipped open her laptop. With the push of a button, the crimson and black logo for the Department of Mutant Affairs flashed across the screen saver. She impatiently tapped her fingers as she waited for the active desktop to show up on the laptop's screen. Copper fingers were a blur as they typed in a lengthy barrage of passwords and encrypted codes. The words "Project Corn and Stars" flashed across the screen.

She flashed through each of the personnel files. Wren Summers was a recorded survivor of the Mutant camps of the 1990's. Elisa had worked with the woman before and thought her to be a thorough, accurate researcher. Elisa skimmed through the files that she knew too well. "Dominique Destine-MacBeth" was registered as the daughter of the eccentric recluse, Dominique Destine the elder.

"Hell, you never grow old, Demona." Elisa's dark laugh cut through the silence of the airline cabin. She minimized the screen showing an outdate woman that looked about thirty-five. The Agent clicked on an icon of a small praying gargoyle that flickered on the left side of her screen. A new screen appeared and another photograph graced the laptop screen. A young woman similar to Pink or Britney smiled at her. Artificially dyed scarlet cornrows fell to the waist of the young woman smiling in the picture.

The college co-ed didn't appear to be more than twenty. Dressed in a something barely deserving to be called clothing, the young woman with the carmen braids held a bouquet of white orchids in hand. A man of regal stature stood beside her. Elisa shook her head in silent amazement. [The hair is brown and you look younger, but I know you anywhere, MacBeth.]

After the Day of the Dragon in Linoma, the governor of Nebraska had declared a state of emergency for the city. Army Troops and Special Forces had been deployed and a curfew enforced. There were hushed whispers of 'martial law' and 'mutant camps.' Fear ran through Linoma's populace like an infectious virus. Rioting in the streets happened daily. There were countless reports of bodies in morgues and emergency rooms convulsing and metamorphosing into strange creatures of ancient myth. Agent Maza-Wyvern had asked for the Linoma assignment when all other agents had washed their hands clean of it.

Clan stuck together.

[Now, I just have to clean up this mess and calm everybody down.] She mused as she typed in her thoughts into the file before her. Goliath and Demetrius were clan brothers and no help was ever denied clan. She encrypted her thoughts and observations before she closed down the file. [Now, we have to clean up the mess these dragons made and acclimate a very scared population into thinking it's okay to be other-than-human.]

"Elisa, how is your research coming?" A deep, resonating voice quietly filled the cabin with concern and strength. She glanced up from her computer and found her guardian hovering over his mate and progeny. "Would you care for a cup of coffee?"

"No, Goliath, thanks." Elisa rubbed her eyes. "I'm just updating my notes on the Linoma clan. Officially, I have to keep everything under control and remain distant. Privately, we'll be working with them to get the city back on its feet. I just don't know how we're going to pull this off."

"My Love," Lavender talons stroked reassuring paths through ebony tresses. "You always find a way."

"This is my first big assignment with the DMA, if I screw up -this affects everybody."

"Have faith, Elisa, as I do in you and all will be well." Goliaths planted a lingering, warm kiss to her brow. She gave into the urge to lose herself in warm, stalwart embrace of brawn arm and chiropteran wing.

"I'm just glad you're here." She snuggled into the quiet, reassuring warmth of his dark wings.

"As am I, Love. As am I."

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

Part II

Thursday, October 12, 2006 11:10PM
US Army Headquarters in Airpark
Linoma Army Base


Colonel Hawke Summers loomed over the files that remained piled in tall columns on his desk. There was enough classified documentation in front of him to make the CIA jealous. He sighed heavily and wished that each folder would magically turn into a double shot of Scotch and Soda. This occupation harkened dark times for his beloved country, his state and his hometown.

He stared at the data staring back at him from the manila folder. The black and white photo attached to the thick pile of papers presented a grim mosaic of what waited for him ad his troops. A lithe reptile with chiropteran wings flew above the Linoma skyline. Estimated at almost twenty feet long, originally the creature had been written off as a hoax.
Then, twenty-three Green Berets had been caught in a falling flash fire of blaze and flame.

No one knew what to call the winged reptiles that were terrorizing the Metroplex.

One word echoed through the halls of the Pentagon: Dragons.

Colonel Summers used the best heat-seeking surveillance equipment to track down the elusive serpents. There were none to be found. He used satellite and radar detection to scan the skies for the fire-breathing menaces burning Linoma to the ground. Ground-penetrating sonar did nothing to reveal the monsters' lair. He had relegated the reports to myth and mishap.

Until last night.

Driving back to base after a night of Scotch and scantily clad women, a blazing orb streaked across the night sky. He had swerved his Jeep to avoid being hit by the ball of fire. The large creature had landed only fifty feet from him on Interstate 80. A vociferous roar tore open the stillness of night and a trail of conflagration cut across his path. Hawke froze in his seat as glistening teeth slowly came closer to the windshield. Pupiless silver eyes stared at him as though he were cornered pray. His callused hand prudently edged toward the sidearm resting in the seat beside him. One well-aimed bullet shot at point-blank range pierced the jeep's windshield and penetrated deeply into the creature's cranium.

It didn't even flinch. It stared at Hawke for countless, silent seconds as if amused by the violent act of defense. Steam wafted from its black nostrils into the cold evening air. The smell of acid and sulfur reeked and nearly cause the Colonel to lose his dinner. Then, with wings unfurled, the leviathan flew away and was swallowed by the enveloping darkness.

That night had made Colonel Hawke Summers a believer.

Yet, the damned lizards evaded detection. No amount of technology could track down the fiery sons-of-bitches taking out his men. [Hardware isn't gonna track these bastards down. I need something that goes beyond machinery.] No modern method was effective in hunting down the creatures taking out his men. The remote-sensing telepaths at his disposal found only hints and trace of the creatures' existence and whereabouts.

Hawke Summers needed an arsenal that moved beyond technology. His mother had discounted the ways of the preternatural and embraced the mundane. Hawke's father had banished anything Magickal from the household including his daughter, Wren. Hawke knew firsthand the power of the creatures leaving a wake of anguish and ash in their midst.

[To find Magick, I gotta use it.]

Ten years gone. Ten year since Hawke Summers had seen his little sister Wren. She was the odd one with the strange luck and the ability to understand what anyone said. She had been Grandpa Robin's favorite as a child. The other children ignored her or teased her. Hawke remembered the times he'd beat up kids defending Wren's honor.

Hawke didn't want to end up the same way as Wren. He was smart enough to keep his mouth shut. He knew when Magick was around. He had the gift to sense it. That's all he could do and he thanked God that he couldn't do more. He had sensed Dr. Stephenson in the camps was different. He couldn't tell how, but he knew that Tina could keep his sister safe.

Bribery worked wonders and an endless supply for the Doctor made her a very happy camper.

The camps...god-awful hell on Earth. He felt torn between serving his country and saving his sister. The goddamned Sentinels were nothing better than mechanical Nazis. He saved his sister and did the worst duty that a man ever faced -he sent dozens of Mutants to their deaths. Then, once they were certified "dead" by the good doctor, then Captain Summers oversaw their disposal.

That meant they were taken to "way stations" and to other parts of the world to start new lives. Now, he needed a favor repaid and he knew that he needed a good dose of luck to find the overgrown iguanas. He hated Magick. Hawke hated it with a passion. But, he knew that it served a purpose and fulfilled a need. He closed his eyes, took several deep breaths, and reached out to the silken silver strands that he knew connected him with all of his family.

The strand covered in slime represented the cord that connected to his father. Hawke abruptly bypassed the corroded line and went for the gleaming argent filament that thrummed with life and the Old Ways. He felt it alive with Magick and the ancient ways of his Grandfather's people. For the third time in his thirty-eight years, Hawke Summers used innate primordial forces to call to his family.

All was quiet. No answer came.

Hawke slowly opened his eyes. The room remained as silent as it had been previously in the evening. It had been too long since he had used his gifts and he knew that he had lost them. "Hey, it was worth a shot."

He took out the next folder and read the heading: Summers-Nightkind, Wren Elizabeth.

Army Intelligence had gathered information on his long-lost sister with little difficulty. After her internment at Archon Mutant Detainment Center, she had vanished from sight. Hawke smiled silently as he continued reading her file. Married, no children, and an executive for a Fortune 500 company. [She's done well for herself. Landing a cushy job at Xanatos Enterprises at six figures a year, not to shabby. You go, Sis.]

His sister was different from other people. She was 'special.'

The government considered Wren Summers a Mutant.

Hawke didn't care what the hell she was as long as she could help him track down these accursed dragons. All he and his troops needed was a lead...and some luck. Wren was gifted in the Old Ways and she was the only one of 'that kind' he knew might be able to track down these damned fire and acid breathers. The phone rang. The shrill beeping of the device sliced through the intense contemplation that clouded the Colonel's thoughts. He inhaled deeply to collect his thoughts and his focus before he took the call.

"Summers here."

"Hello, Hawke." A soft, feminine voice spoke calmly on the other end of the line. "It's been a long time.

He almost dropped the phone. "That was fast. Wren, how did you get this number?"

"It wasn't difficult." Was her cryptic reply. "I've been thinking about calling you for some time. Your timing is a bit...off. It was faint -almost inaudible, but I heard you."

"Hey, it had the intended effect." He couldn't hide the hint of smirk in his words. "Yeah, I've been thinking about you too, Sis." A subtle warmth crept into the soldier's voice. "I've been wondering how you've been doing."

"I know." The sadness lingered between them on the line. "But, Hawke, we both know that my family is better off without me. I didn't belong in their world anymore than I thought they belonged in mine. But, that's now beginning to change."

"I think you might be right." He muttered grudgingly. "This world's gotta be big enough for all of us and it's changing way too fast."

Hawke wanted the years of pain and hurt to melt away. He wanted to forget how his father had betrayed Wren to the Bureau of Mutant Affairs. His heart shattered when he saw her beaten and emaciated wandering about the Mutant detention camp. Hawke had used every bit of his influence to gain his sister a chance at survival. It had been a fine line to serve his country and help his family but it had been done. It had kept his sister alive and that was all that mattered. "I got some problems, Wren, that might be in your ...er....area of expertise."

There was a long pause on the line. "I thought as much. I must admit that we share a common scenario."

"Talk to me, Wren." The Colonel longed to light up a cigarette and inhale the thick blue smoke into his lungs. [Ten years ain't long enough to get away from her.]

"I need your help, Hawke."

"Hmm." He kicked back in his office chair. He crossed his long legs as he propped his feet on his paper-ridden desk. "This isn't a secure line, Wren. We need to talk some place more private."

"Come to my house." There was no mistaking the urgency in his little sister's voice.

"Too dangerous." He rasped. "Too obvious."

"You'll be safe." She promised. "I'll see to it."

"Too risky, Sis." Colonel Summers tapped his fingers in an impatient, steady cadence on his desk. A thousand thoughts raced through his mind for a desirable meeting place; none came to mind. [DAMN!] "If I'm seen fraternizing with suspicious elements-"

"Your remote sensors don't know jack compared to the network I've established." She countered.

"You know about them?"

"Hell, yeah and those charlatans you call 'practitioners'." He almost heard Wren roll her eyes over the phone. "You have a problem and we have a problem. We could be of mutual benefit to each other, Hawke."

The woman on the other end of the line sounded nothing like the docile, diffident woman that he had known in a previous decade. The voice on the other end of the line exuded confidence and conviction. He silently contemplated her words. "I know this. Let's meet."

"Fine. When?"

"Tonight." He glanced quickly at his watch. "Midnight."

"Perfect. Where?"

"Actually, I'm thinkin' right in the middle of Sam Hain." He remembered the passionate rebellion of his youth when he had briefly embraced the Old Ways for a time. Sam Hain had been his beat and turf throughout his teens until he had another path better suited for him. It was well known for it's metaphysical activity. Some of those old haunts he frequented gave him inspiration. "Is the Athenaeum still around?"

"Oh, yeah." Wren's smile brightened her answer. "It's still around."

"Still ran by Lysander?" Hawke hadn't seen the old bloodsucker in twenty years.

"Not anymore, Hawke. It's now run by someone else."

Hawke purposely resisted the urge to ask who was running the nightclub. "I could meet you there."

"You can't just walk in like you own the place." Wren replied shortly. "You're a Mundane. Worse yet, you're military. You'd be a walking target and somebody's idea of a midnight snack."

"Can you put in a good word for me?"

"I need some sign of good faith, big brother." Wren felt her hands grow clammy as she held the phone. "I'm putting many friends and loved ones at risk."

Colonel Summers understood his sister's trepidation. It was a perilous edge she walked between the Metasapien and Mundane worlds. A show of good faith was needed. He sighed heavily and knew what was needed. "Wren, listen closely. There is a new nightly patrol that has overlying grids covering Sam Hain. They run in forty-five increments. The patrol grids overlap to give the illusion of more troops in the area that are actually stationed. There is a fifteen-minute window per hour at the major arterials in Sam Hain. That's all I can share. But, you're a smart girl, use your book smarts and you'll figure it out real fast."

"It's a start, Hawke." He heard the sigh of relief in her voice. "Here's what you do. Go to the doorman and tell them that you're waiting the Second-In-Command. She'll guide you to a backroom. Come alone and come unarmed. Let no one know where you're going or whom you'll be seeing. If you don't, I won't be responsible for your safety. Do you understand, Hawke? There is no room for fuck-ups here."

"I agree to your terms." [What am I getting myself into?] He stared down at the sidearm at his hip. Reluctantly, he removed the gun and holster from his hip and gingerly placed them in a filing cabinet drawer. With a quick turn of the key, he heard the resounding click of the drawer locking. "I'll see you within the hour."

"The information you've given me needs to be verified." She told him crisply. Hawke nodded silently in admiration at his sister's controlled response. [She's turned out to be one hell of a leader.] "Nothing's been decided until I know that what you've told me is reliable."

The silence on the line lasted for several minutes before he heard a distinct click. He knew that she had put him on hold and confirmed the information that he'd given her. "Colonel Summers, we'll see you at Midnight."


***************
Part III
Friday, October 13, 2006 12:01AM
The Athenaeum at 666th and O'Kault Streets
Linoma Bluffs Metroplex

***************
Hawke made his way along O'Kault Street. The shadows of the looming buildings draped the avenue in a veil of blackness. Army Intelligence had informed him that the Athenaeum was the hotbed of all preternatural activity in the city. It strangely left him ill at ease that his sister had been so eager to meet him there. Just how much was his sister involved in this preternatural bullshit that had taken over his hometown?

He drove slowly along the turnpike. He warily glanced upward to the night skies and prayed to his Lord that he didn't see any winged creatures breathing fire and blowing acid in front of him. The sky was lit ablaze with the bizarre glow that brightened the strange and bizarre Mecca of Magick. He took a Marlboro from the crimson hard-pack and flipped open his Zippo. [Damn, what I wouldn't give for a good shot of straight Scotch right now.]

"Holy shit." He whispered. Hawke dropped his cigarette as he saw three winged silhouettes soaring above his jeep. "They're fuckin' all over the place."

He gave a wordless grunt and returned his gaze to the road. A rolling nausea in his gut told the battle-hardened Colonel to turn back as fast as he could drive. The flowing waves of queasiness beckoned Hawke to stop at the side of the road and take several deep breaths. With more bravado than resolution, he pulled into the dimly lit parking lot of the Athenaeum.

Blue eyes warily scanned the asphalt plane for signs of activity. Instinct guided his hand to the pommel of his sidearm and he drew it closer to his side. Foreboding intuition guided the army officer to quietly slip the gun inside the shoulder holster beneath his black jacket. He pulled the cap a little lower over his eyes and zipped up his windbreaker. He turned off the ignition of his jeep and dimmed the lights. He guardedly perused the parking lot as he stepped from the vehicle. He heard only the distant roar of cars racing along the turnpike. Music throbbed from within the stucco walls of the Athenaeum.

He strode silently toward the oak and frosted-glass doors that marked the entrance of the club with a peculiarly anomalous ambiance. Two large ionic columns of marble graced the arched entryway just inside the arched aperture. Circular tables of hardwood and bar chairs upholstered in black leather graced the perimeters of the cabaret. Exquisite faceted tumblers of Austrian crystal graced the hands of the macabre clientele. Cacophonous base and treble music blared from the large speakers located in the four corners of the club. The resonating electronic symphonies resonated between the high plaster-tiled ceiling and the Italian ceramic floor of the nightclub.

The scent of smoke, aromatic incenses and perfume met Hawke's discerning nose. A copious ashen murk generated by too many cigarettes hung heavily just above the heads of the patrons. He felt the pressure of something wintry rest on his shoulder. He turned to see a man with flowing black hair and anemic complexion greet him at the door. Eyes that had seen a millennium of death met those of the Colonel. "I need to see your ID, please."

Hawke drew out his wallet and flashed his military ID card before the cadaverous usher at the door. Cold eyes scrutinized the card held in hand and darted back to him. "That will be ten dollars for the cover charge."

"I'm here to see the Second-In-Command." Hawke spoke quietly. "She's expecting me."

The doorman stroked his black goatee in contemplation of the Colonel's words. He silently nodded to one of the other host's to take his position at the door. Assuring the other host of his quick return, the doorman attuned his attentions to Hawke. "Follow me."

As the gaunt creature led Hawke through the milling crowd of patrons, a man of golden coloring stopped the dark gentleman. "Is this he?"

"Yes." The curt answer fell from the doorman's lips. "Dorian, is this such a good idea? He's-"

Dorian, with blue eyes flashing silent warning, pressed to fingers to the other man's lips. "Christopher, I can take it from here. Return to your post at the door and we'll speak of this later."

Ice blue eyes briefly glanced at Hawke accompanied by a terse nod. "As you wish, Dorian."

Wren motioned to the chair across the table from her. "Thank you for coming, Hawke. Please have a seat."

He said nothing as he cautiously glanced around the room. He saw no windows or doors other that the entrance to the room. He saw only his sister sitting across from him, yet he had the eerie notion that they were not alone. Dim light filtered into the room and the stillness became deafening with each passing second. "Tell your people to back off."

"Only when you divest yourself of the firearm you're carrying." Wren's harsh reply reminded him that his sister was nobody's fool. "If I can't trust you now, you won't be leaving here."

His brows rose in mild surprise. He casually leaned back and unzipped the black windbreaker. He reached slowly inside and withdrew the gun from its holster. The metal gleamed in the faint luminosity as he laid it on the table and pushed it toward her. Wren nodded a silent thank-you and motioned in the air.

"It's too dark in here. Turn up the lights."

"Fair enough." Wren conceded. With a wave of her hand, the faint green aura illuminating the room brightened so that he could better see his surroundings.

Hawke immediately noticed that Wren wore a forest-hued velvet cloak and cowl. "Why the disguise, Wren?"

"Discretion is the better part of valor, Big Brother. I don't want to frighten you about who I am." She took a long breath. "And what I've become."

"You never used to keep secrets from me." Hawke quipped.

"You never used to gun down innocent civilians in the streets."

"I'm following orders to maintain the safety of the general population."

"In case, you haven't noticed, most of those people were once the general population until everything went askew."

"Do you want my help or just put me on trial?" Hawke asked tersely. "It won't do us any good if you do now."

"True."

He saw two hands rise from beneath the table and grasp the sides of her cowl. Ten tapered talons framed the sides of the velvet and gently pushed back the fabric. The sister he remembered sat across from him. Her hair seemed a bit lighter and an argent streaked tendril fell to the side of her face. As she pulled the fabric back, two small horns on her brow caught his eye. She smiled at him and the gleam of small, delicate fangs glistened pearl in the uncanny green light.

"You're not even Human."

"Yes and no." She quickly amended. She leaned forward and grasped his hand. "I'm still the sister that loves you. But, my people need your help."

"Great." He desperately longed for something in front of him named Jack, Jim or Johnny. Whiskey was his best friend at the moment. "But, I came at great risk and gave you sensitive information. It's time to ante up, Wren."

"That's fair." She nodded in reluctant agreement. "Would you care for something to drink?"

Hawke answered her question with a stern, sardonic look.

"I'm not going to murder you." Wren huffed. She raised her hand and held up her fingers to a black floating half-orb embedded in the ceiling. "What's your poison?"

Mordant blue eyes simply stared at her. "Hemlock."

"Touché. Bad choice of words, I admit." A sheepish chuckle escaped Wren. "Let me rephrase that question. What is your drink of choice?"

"Anything starting with a 'J'." He rasped. "And make sure they leave the bottle."

"We can do that." She flashed him a smile. Christopher reappeared with a server's tray holding two shot glasses. One contained a syrupy amber liquid crowned with a milky white layer while the other remained empty. In the Sanguine's other hand was a fifth of Jim Beam. He sat the shot glass before the Colonel and poured him a full shot. "Thank you, Christopher."

The gaunt young man nodded in acknowledgement and retreated to the shadows of the room. Hawke looked down at the shot sitting in front of his sister. "What are you drinking?"

"A Cocksucker, of course!" She raised her shot glass in the air. "Let's make a toast."

"Why not?" [This meeting's becoming a three-ring circus.] Hawke mimicked the gesture and the glasses clinked in mid-air. "To new beginnings."

"To new beginnings."

Two empty shot glasses slammed the table in perfect unison. "Time to ante up, Wren."

She inhaled deeply. "What do you require?"

"Information on....dragons." He whispered as the whiskey burned the back of his throat.

"Dragons?" Wren seemed genuinely surprised. She steepled her hands on the table in eager contemplation. "Tell me more about what you need."

The weary Colonel removed his hat and ran his fingers through thick brown hair. "They've attacked our convoys systematically the past two weeks. I've lost thirty-five of my soldiers to those scaly sons-of-bitches. We can't track 'em. Our remote sensors can't pick them up telepathically. They can't find where they vanish off to or where they come from."

"Have you actually seen more than one at a time?"

"I've got sixty sighting reports on my desk saying that they been spotted in groups of two or three." Hawke admitted. "We can't track them with state-of-the-art technology. Our psychics are at a loss."

"Hmm...." Wren pursed her lips as she pondered her brother's words. She pressed a finger to her ear and her eyes veered away from him. "First of all, they can't be tracked telepathically. My sources say that's because Human clairvoyants can't detect their brain waves. Secondly, it's been hypothesized that the reason that your machines aren't revealing the dragons is the fact that these creatures come from another dimension. The laws of physics that govern that place don't apply in this one. Because their molecular signature is slightly different than ours, you'll need to calibrate your sensors to scan on a different band. Try the radiation spectrum."

"Can your people help me actually find these freaks?"

"Yes." Wren nodded. "Can you lighten up on the martial law?"

"I answer to higher authority than myself, Wren. It's not that easy."

"But if you could, would you?"

A long silence filled the short space between the Summers'.

"Yes." Came the quiet reply.

She pressed her finger to her ear and Hawke saw that she wore a small earpiece. "Conventional weaponry is ineffective against these creatures. Nothing you have will even so much as put a dent in them. You need plasma-based weapons and military hardware that is based on pure, raw energy."

"Where am I going to get something like that?" He shrugged.

"I have...access to some of what you need." Wren stared her brother in the eye. "Talk to the right people, get some of your troops withdrawn and then we'll talk."

"I can't just snap my fingers and have the President order me and my troops outta here." Hawke growled.

"How about someone that represents that particular venue? Say someone like from the Bureau of Mutant Affairs?"

"You know someone who has the President's ear?"

"I know some people that can pass the word up the line to persuade him." His sister's cryptic reply left Hawke uneasy. "This is what I propose, Hawke. Get your troops off our backs and we'll help you go dragon-slaying."

"I can't make any promises..." Hawke scooted the chair back from the table and rose to his feet. He placed his hat on his head and turned to the door. "I might be able to get the troops decreased."

"Just get it done." There was no mistaking the grave urgency in his sister's voice. "Good people on both sides are dying for all the wrong reasons."

Hawke reached for the door. "I'll do what I can. You have my word on that. I just don't know if I can do much."

"I think we'll see some progress."

He left his sister behind him and made his way through the nightclub. He prayed she was right.

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

"Do you think we can trust him?" Goliath asked Wren several minutes after Hawke's departure.

"He never makes a promise that he can't keep." She reassured the lavender leviathan standing beside her. "Please tell Elisa to advise her superiors to remove the troops from Sam Hain based upon Colonel Summers recommendation."

"She will gladly aid you without fail." Goliath laid a reassuring hand on his friend's shoulder. The Clan leader turned to the man with the mottled eyes of brown and hazel. "Ian, was Summers lying?"

"No." Ian shook his head vehemently. "He was freaking, but he was straight up with Wren. He means what he says."

"Then we will see what becomes of this state of affairs." Goliath said gravely. "By the Goddess, I hope that we can bring peace back to this place."


TO BE CONTINUED...

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hawke Summers was first featured in one of a previous story "X Marks The Heart: Love's Gambit 1.0". He's been in the back of my mind for the past year and I've wanted to always explore a bit further into the Summers family. This is a man of honor and integrity yet is divided between loyalties of country and family. Please send me your thoughts and comments on this latest story.