The ever-awesome FlashRyan wrote this chapter. Chapter 4: Split Sanity is on the way! Keep reviewin' and we'll keep our fingers slave to your desires!

This one's more action-oriented; we felt we had not accomplished our Ass-Kickery quota for the story thus far. As always Leave reviews for us. Constructive criticism only please! And make sure you tell your friends 'bout us! Enjoy!

Chapter Three:

Endless Rain

Retribution's long slumber was denied; he awoke with a start, gleaming eyes darting around the lab, then out the still-shattered windows; it was dark out, with a thunderstorm beginning to brew. Strangely enough, the good Doctor was gone. Retribution gave no thought to it for the moment, though; how was he to know the doc's habits?

Venom suddenly fell through the outside, swinging from a web, and kept his momentum as he landed, skidding violently against the marble, ripping it up and taking out one of the surviving computer bank's. Doc Connors was going to have a coronary...

"Father? What are you-" Retribution demanded as he jumped up, taking a defensive stance. His wings were folded tight behind him, claws crossed in front of him and the fingers slightly bent.

"Calm yourself, you're not the one we want dead. Those two ganged up on us." Venom said, breathing heavily.

"I could help…" Retribution said, like a son wanting to help a father. It perplexed himself a bit, sure- he had only bad memories from Venom- but family was family.

"No…it's not your battle." Venom snapped back. Retribution said nothing, and only stared at Venom- then past him, his wings rising slightly and his defensive stance growing more pronounced. Venom glanced over his shoulder and let out a snarl.

"Aww…just like a father and a son wanting to be buried together, eh pops?" Virus chimed in, leaning against the edge of the hole. Carnage was silent for the moment, grinning and already prepping his arms into his axes.

Before either of the two could react, Carnage and Virus grabbed Venom and Retribution and flung them out into the night. The two were flew out into the night sky, rain pelting them as they went- the one a bit more gracefully then the other as his wings snapped out and caught himself. Retribution managed to get a hold of Venom and get him to grab onto his arm, grunting with the effort of carrying the heavy Symbiote, and set him down nearby, rotating his arm with a glance skyward. The two readied themselves as Carnage and Virus jumped down, about twenty feet away.

This was what it came down to…Retribution wanted to end Carnage and Virus's lives just as much as Venom, though for different reasons; Venom was out for revenge, and Retribution wanted to save the lives of innocents, to prevent any more victims from having to suffer. The rain came down hard, running in thin rivulets off of various colors of flesh; none of the Symbiotes blinking, none of them moving, always waiting for the others to make a move…

"This is where we break you, cousin…" Virus barked at Retribution, his rows of razor teeth glinting in the light of distant lightning as he grinned maliciously. Retribution said nothing, only stretching his arms and cracking his neck, the dull crk noises muffled by the pouring rain. Venom stared at Carnage, violence bright in his eyes, intent on making Carnage suffer with his own two hands, which bunched into fists at the thought of wrapping themselves around the red Symbiote's throat and squeezing.

Venom looked at Retribution, and Retribution to Venom. On a silent signal they nodded as one, a second of silence; the calm before the storm.

The two charged Carnage and Virus, taking their respective counterparts, Venom tackling carnage and Retribution slashing down at Virus. Retribution grabbed Virus by the head, claws digging into flesh to anchor his grip as he lifted, wings flapping powerfully and swirling the mud a bit. Virus grabbed the white Symbiote's arms as he felt himself getting lifted into the air, trying in vain to free himself, as he was taken into another element entire.

Venom's hands thinned and elongated into twin spearheads, Carnage's own melting into the all-too-familiar twin battleaxes, criss-crossing them to block Venom's downward thrust. The tips of the spearheads bent at right angles, insinuating themselves between the guard of Carnage, and as his block was being pried open Carnage jumped back, stretching an axe forward in the same movement, attempting to impale Venom, but Venom's hands reformed and grabbed hold, pulling Carnage close and one-two punching Carnage square in the face, launching him into the wall. A nice dent in the brick wall formed as debris and loose brick fell around the two combatants.

Retribution ripped Virus's claws from his arm, giving a slight wince as the imbedded claws tore gashes in his forearm, and let Virus fall into a warehouse straight through the roof and onto some wooden boxes, sending shards of wood and newly-freed nails flying. Retribution clipped his wings and lowered himself, hovering with slow broad flaps of his wings as he shook his head to clear it of the rainwater, which was pouring in through the new skylight.

Virus leaps from the shadows behind Retribution, and slices at Retribution's wings, digging deep gouges into them and tearing the 'fingers'. Retribution fell to the ground with a cry of pain, hitting the ground heavily in a crouch, but watched as the Symbiote wings repaired themselves. Retribution mouthless face twitched slightly in what might have been a moment's smirk, and charged at Virus, grabbing a piece of column broken off from Virus's fall, and thrusting it into Virus's stomach. Virus's mouth fell open, a look of pure terror decorating his grotesque features. Retribution glanced up at him, head tilting a bit in confusion, as the green Symbiote's head slowly turned to that of the white one.

"Just kidding…" Virus laughed as he backhanded Retribution, sending the larger Symbiote reeling as his other hand slid downward and took the piece of column snapping it in two like a green twig. He stood defiant as Retribution towered over him, straightening, up, rising and unfolding like the wrath of Gods, wings seeming to grow as Retribution steadied himself.

Back outside, the rain didn't seem to be bothering the red and blue combatants. The two grappled, claws interlocked and muscles bulging in this contest of strength as they snarled at one another, each hoping the other would back down. Venom managed to push back Carnage and sweep his leg around to trip him in one quick swoop, Venom's arm becoming a single, solid point, and thrust it into Carnage's face just as Carnage jumped back up. The solid point reformed into powerful fingers that interlocked around the red Symbiote's neck, pulling him up to Venom's face and examining the unmoving form before throwing the 'corpse' to the ground. Mud splashed up around it from the impact, spattering the red with droplets of brown.

"Get up…we know you're not dead, brother." Venom snapped at the corpse. A laugh shook the slim frame, Carnage's head snapping up, his face a dripping ruin.

"Nothing can get past you, hehe…" Carnage jumped up, his face reforming, and the two charged at each other again.

Retribution's situation wasn't looking great. He was being thrown from side to side like a rag doll, and it seemed that every second that passed, Virus was growing stronger and stronger. He was getting his own hits in, but Virus had been tutored in the arts of fighting dirty by Carnage, and Retribution had only had himself to figure things out with.

"Feeling weaker, cousin? You should be…" Virus cackles evilly, and with a quick sucker-punch sent Retribution hurtling backward, rebounding off of the wall to the floor. Retribution skidded on his back, his wings hurting from the ground they were digging deep furrows into, and Virus jumped high into the air. Retribution didn't have the strength to move, and Virus landed smack dab on Retribution's chest, and crouched down, his face right in Retribution's, taloned feet dragging furrows into the new Symbiote's chest.

"See…let me explain something to you…little cousin, and yes, I'm going to call you that so you know who's the stronger of us two…" Retribution struggled beneath the other Symbiote's claws, trying to free himself. His strength was returning but too slow, too slow.

"I can send out little tiny bacterium, made from my flesh, and have it enter someone's body. They can sap your strength, eat your muscle fibers, rot you from the inside. You are my cousin, and I know there is evil in you, that's why I won't destroy you…but you know I now have power over you…" Retribution growled and his wings bunched, forcing his shoulder up and bringing his claws up and around, throwing the green Symbiote across the room. Virus simply grinned at this, landing on his feet and dropping into his customary crouch. Retribution jumped up- and promptly fell to one knee, looking at his "cousin" as his chest heaved, the breath-holes on either side of his 'mouth' flaring as he gasped for breath.

"No…" Retribution 'said', forcing himself up to his feet and resuming a stance.

Virus sighed.

"Well, then, I guess I'll have to prove it."

Retribution winced as a pain began to grow within his fingertips, and a glance downward showed that the white Symbiote flesh had begun to erode into the sickly green that Virus so proudly sported. Next his hand, then his wrist, soon his whole forearm, slowly working its way northward along his limb, and even as he watched the flesh decayed and rotted away, bits of flesh dropping away and dissolving into nothingness. Retribution fell one knee again, clutching his hand with a heavy, pained snarl. For a second time he forced himself to his feet, glaring at his 'cousin' and then turning his gaze to the arm. His healthy hand went from the sickly one to the limit of the infection at the forearm, digging in wit his claws and twisting, turning, yanking. Flesh tore with wet sounds as with a snarl he tore the rotting limb away, throwing it to the ground. As it hit the ground it crumbled into a green dust, soon becoming green mud from the rain.

"Nice try…but there's still the rest in your body." Virus called his bacteria back to himself, as Retribution convulsed on the ground. Virus knew he'd beaten Retribution- at least, for the moment- and thus left to let Retribution suffer.

Venom and Carnage's legs were criss-crossed, and the two would not budge from the spots their feet dug into the ground. Venom and Carnage viciously fought, trading blow for blow- a blow to the face, a strike to the mid-section, everywhere one would throw a punch, the other would reply with one of equal viciousness. Neither of them backed down, letting the blows decide who would fall. But, after two birthings, and no real time to recover his true strength, Venom was the one to falter. Carnage pushed Venom's hands out of the way and began to pummel Venom's stomach, claws rending deep gouges into the blue flesh. After about twenty blows or so, Venom fell, bleeding and twitching, temporarily helpless as Carnage pressed a foot down against Venom's chest.

"You always were the weaker of us, brother." Carnage laughed to himself, breathing heavily.

A sound behind Carnage made him tilt his head; a metallic clk. He only had time enough to turn his head to the side before twin spearheads were forced through his chest from behind, the sickly green weapons glinting wetly in the distant lightning flashes. Virus's head leaned in close to where Carnage's ears would be, teeth glinting maliciously as he cackled.

"And you were always the weaker father." Virus chimed, his frame beginning to blur, though the restraining spears within Carnage's chest remained solid.

"Why…you…" It was all Carnage could get out before Virus's body began shaping and forming apart, splitting itself and beginning to cover Carnage's body. He was absorbing him. Virus was absorbing his father. Venom's thoughts flashed quickly to the possibility of Retribution attempting the same, his shoulders bunching and a snarl escaping his fangs, before he was brought back into reality by the clatter of bones dropping to the ground, stained from white to green by Virus's microbes. Carnage's host was as dead as Carnage himself; picked clean of flesh and muscle, blood and sinew. Cletus Kasady was no more.

Retribution barreled out of the darkness, a shoulder down to slam into Virus and send him towards the wall. His arm was still trying to reform; it was going much slower then it should, but he had apparently successfully fought off the invading microbes. Retribution was, to put it bluntly, quite pissed; his wings flexed slowly behind him as his remaining claw tightened into a fist, the talons of his feet digging deep furrows into the ground as they shifted into a fighting position. His left foot stepped on the femur of the late Cletus, the hollow snapping of the bone dulled by the rain- Virus had even sucked out the bone marrow.

"Now with Father out of the way, I'll be stronger than ever! But I will make you a deal brothers. I'll give you one week to prepare yourselves, to be at your peak; then I shall destroy you both all by myself. After all," Virus chuckled, his mouth opening impossibly wide, row after row of fangs glinting, "what fun would there be in tearing your heads of here and now, when you're already weakened?" Before they could answer, Virus leaped up and disappeared into the pouring rain and the darkness, the sound of his cackling fading into the distance.

I hate leaving those two alive, but I'm too weak already from my battle with Retribution. Hahahahaha...they won't be the only ones at their peak when we again meet... Virus grinned to himself as he leapt from rooftop to rooftop, his frame slowly changing, reshaping itself bit by bit as his body incorporated Carnage's power into itself. A distant thud behind him on a rooftop made him pause, glancing back and staring into the darkness, as well as a scent wafting its way up to him, somehow defeating the driving rain to reach him.

"They can't already be trying to follow me…could they?" Virus mused aloud, glancing about again. After a few moments, he discerned the scent was coming from down below…from a woman running from the rain down the sidewalk.

"It's that woman from before…" Virus said to himself. His eyes widened at this new development, his ever-present grin turning up the maliciousness by a factor of ten.

Rachael ran down the sidewalk, soaked to the bone, her jacket not nearly large enough as she tried to tug it more about her frame. Turning down an alleyway as a shortcut she encountered two men, almost bumping into the larger of the pair as the second hauled himself off of a trashcan he'd been sitting on.

"Excuse me miss, you seem to be lost, may we help you find your way?" one man said, chuckling to the other, despite their words their smirks held quite another story about the pair. The two were classic thugs, wearing nothing but leather and spiky things. One had shades on, they other a shaved head. After she said nothing for a few moments the smirk of the larger one faded and his hand went into his vest pocket, removing a small switchblade and flicking it out as the second shouted at her to give them her purse.

Virus watched with interest, resting his chin in his palm and taping his clawtips against his chin before he dropped down, a flash of green grabbing the two from behind and hauling them into the shadows. A slice, gurgling, the sickly sucking of dying lungs trying to draw air through a hole filling with blood. Rachael jumped back as two headless bodies came out of the shadows and fell to the ground.

She moved closer slowly to the shadows.

"Retribution?" she asked softly.

She screamed as Virus popped his head out of the shadows, slowly stepping into the light of the streetlamps that sporadically illuminated the alleyway. Blood dripped from his clawtips and from his fangs, the shades from the second punk currently resting over the Symbiote's eyes in a display that would have been comical if it weren't for the blood.

"Why yes ma'am, I think that's EXACTLY what this is." Virus snorted, the shades glinting as rainwater ran off of them and down along his fangs.

Again the rains muffling abilities failed; Retribution's head snapped around as the familiar scream found its way to him. For an instant his white eyes flared red and his wings snapped out, hurling himself into the air, driving him forward. Heedless of the damage he caused to the sides of buildings that he clawed his way around he forced his way forward, a growl rumbling deep within his chest. Venom was hard-pressed to keep up, soon falling behind; the blue Symbiote had the general direction to go in, though; he would catch up...

Virus had Rachael held by the throat, pressing her against the wall. His fangs glinted as he grinned, his head nearing hers, nearer, nearer, almost until their faces touched as he snarled at her. His claws dug a bit into her neck, drawing tiny pinpricks of blood as she struggled weakly against his grip.

"And now...I have my revenge." He snarls, for an instant his face morphing into that of Carnage before it resumed its normal grotesqueness. In absorbing his father he had absorbed his memories; and oh, he would enjoy rending this pretty thing...

He must have blinked, though; One second he was looking the human girl eye to eye, and the next instant he was getting an advanced course in Brick Wall Study 101, and the wall was quite eager to meet him.

Retribution snarled ferally, a line splitting down slowly from the slit-mouth between the breathing holes and then splitting open just so slightly as he growled. Rows of teeth were temporarily exposed as his lower face 'opened' for a few moments. His claws dug into Virus's head, imbedding themselves deep into Symbiote flesh as he slammed the green Symbiote's head again and again and again into the wall with as much power as he could muster. Bricks cracked and mortar crumbled, raining down on the pair, but Retribution didn't care; Virus had threatened Rachael. He had to suffer. Again, again, again, and at last the wall crumbled inward, taking Virus with it and yanking the bleeding being from Retribution's claws. He didn't seem to care; he had other things on his mind, now. In three long strides he was by Rachael's side, kneeling and picking her up, cradled in his arms- his missing arm had, by this point, regenerated- and looked her over, inspecting her carefully.

"Are you hurt?" He asks, his eyes darting over her frame as he checked for wounds, anything to give him an excuse to rip Virus apart more than he wanted to right now. But he was too focused on her right now.

Which would've been his undoing, had Venom not intervened and pummeled Virus back into the ground.

Virus hissed at Venom and brought his arm up and around, a swarm of microbes smashing into Venom's eyes. Venom already had a good idea of where Virus was, and brought his arm down and around, slamming his fist into the younger Symbiote's chest and driving him deeper into the rubble of the brick.

As the battle raged between Venom and Virus, Retribution took it upon himself to escort Rachael back to her apartment…again.

"Will you be alright?" Retribution asked.

"Well…I'm not sure…that's twice in almost two days now. I'd feel safer knowing you were here." She seemed to smile a bit as she looked at him.

Retribution wasn't one to speak too often; he simply nodded, and that was enough- she understood. He would stay, and watch over her.

"Umm…I don't know if you'd be comfortable sleeping on the couch, it's a fold out, though…" she said to him.

"A...foldout?" His expression furrowed a little- the reaper-like mandible having closed again, so he was again 'mouthless' as he tried to understand what she had meant. He was only two days old, after all; he'd never even heard the word 'foldout' before, never mind seen one.

"It's a bed from a couch." Rachael explained, laughing a little as she saw his confused expression, and nodded her head towards her couch. Setting her down carefully and following her instructions, Retribution had the foldout, well, folded out soon, prodding it curiously with a clawtip before he sat down, the fold out seeming a little more comfortable than a lab floor.

"Thank you." He said. For an instant it seemed as if he wanted to say something more- but he tilted his head slightly away, letting the word-thoughts die away before they could be 'said'. Rachael said her goodnight, and walked across the hardwood floor to her own room, which was connected straight to the living room. She closed the door most of the way, though the angle of the floor and the breeze from the A/C conspired to force the door quietly halfway open. Her light was still on, spilling out into the living room. His curiosity was great, he couldn't help himself; he glanced inside, leaning forward a bit so that the foldout wouldn't creak. His talons were carefully raised off of the floor so that he wouldn't dig gouges into the hardwood, rather sensing that would err on the side of rude.

Her back was to him, unaware of his gaze, some water dripping off of her soaked frame as she took off her top; Retribution noticed a pink thing surrounding her torso, similarly soaked. Something told him to avert his eyes as her hands went behind her back and he turned his head back to the wall in front of him, listening to the sounds coming from her bedroom. Soon the light went out in her room. Retribution reveled in the silence that followed; it was calming in a way. Back at the lab there was the perpetual humming of the machines. That had its own calming rhythm to it, yes, but not so much as pure silence. A silence he had not known since before his birthing. He found, though, he could not sleep; soon he got up, padding to the window and gazed out over the city, watching the rain at last slow from a torrent to a gentle drizzle.

About thirty minutes into his vigil a low whimper came from Rachael's room. His head snapping about, Retribution made his way quickly into her room; his eyes adjusted quickly, the dark brightening to be as clear as the daylight for him. Rachael was tossing and turning on the bed, the covers pulled up to her shoulders as she shivered and whimpered in her slumber. Retribution moved closer, slowly; rather uncertain of what, if anything, he should do. When she awoke in a cold sweat Retribution was kneeling next to the bed, his wings folded carefully behind him and his forearms resting on his knees.

"Retribution! What are you doing?" she managed, breathing heavily.

"I heard you whimpering. Are you alright?"

"It was just a nightmare, probably from the cold from the rain."

Retribution's reflecting eyes watched her for a few moments, his head tilting to the side. Again, there was that sense of he wished to say something; and again, nothing was said. He simply nodded, slowly standing and padding towards the door.


At her words he stopped, one foot partially within the doorway as he turned. He had to angle one of his wings a little, and had to kneel down to fit within the doorway, but he managed it, turning his gaze back to the human girl on the bed. Rachael had sat up, her nightgown sticking to her with sweat and the sheets bunched about her waist as she sat up, gripping at them about her knees as she spoke. Her voice was tinged with nervousness and hope both, her own glittering eyes looking to Retribution's.

"C-Can you please stay with me? You, kinda...soothe me. And you're warm..." her words faltered, dying in her throat as she watched him. For a timeless time they simply watched one another, the only sound coming from the soft patter of rain against the window. At last, Retribution nodded and slowly padded toward the bed again. The bed creaked softly under his weight, but it held; with a bit of work he was under the sheets and Rachael was again cradled in the large Symbiote's arms, her head resting against his chest that was devoid of any marking. Strange, Rachael thought to herself; Those same arms that demonstrated such immense power in her defense were at the same time capable of such timid gentleness, such...humanness. Her smaller hands pressed against his chest as she shifted to get more comfortable, one of Retribution's four-fingered hands coming up to intertwine his fingers softly with her hair. Gentle breathing mixed with the soft patter of the outside rain.

The bed creaked softly.