Author's Notes: This is based off Season 1 (1994) of the TV series Viper only, with the original depictions of Joe Astor, Frankie Waters, Julian Wilkes, and Sally Gerraro. I'm ignoring the other three seasons (see the end of the story for a more detailed summary of Season One). Viper belongs to Pet Fly productions (the car belongs to Dodge). References to the episodes "Pilot (parts 1 and 2)", "Once a Thief," "Past Tense," and "Scoop." All characters belong to Pet Fly with the exception of Aiko Chan (She's mine! All mine!). Pepto-Bismol belongs to Pepto-Bismol.

The day after tomorrow...
A time when criminals rule the city.
The only weapon that can stop them needs a driver.
"A man without a memory can be supplied with one...
"After a little cosmetic fine-tuning he'll be our driver."
"Let's initiate change over."
"Three... two... one... activate."
The most wanted man on wheels is about to change sides.
Now, against a corrupt system, a lone fight for justice...
Viper is taking back the streets.

A Look In The Mirror
Evil Overlady

- Prologue -

Joe tossed and turned in his sleep, ripping up sheets into massive bundles that threatened to entangle him. He grunted, eyes sliding back and forth wildly as he found himself caught in a nightmare. ...A nightmare that would never end.

"It's my life!"

His twin stood with him in the dim spotlight of an otherwise pitch black room, his hair long wavy and brown. He had chestnut eyes and a mustache and beard, and he wore a long black trench coat, reminding Astor a little of Bolo. "Your past life," came the voice exactly like his own. "You have a new life now, a life I never dreamed possible."

"But I had no choice!"

"Life is rough. Get over it."

Mid-length hair tossed. "You have no idea what it's like..."

"Which? To not have a past to haunt you or to have a second chance?"

"My past is haunting me! You're haunting me. You're like... like this huge crossword puzzle hanging over my head, and if I can't figure out Number One Across, I could get taken out by a sniper's bullet before I'd even know what hit me."

"So, I made a few enemies during my days with the Outfit. Can I help it if I'm a nice criminal. Besides, you're doing pretty well. You got the Viper, don't you?"

"If I hadn't, it'd be scrap by now or in Outfit hands. ...Why'd you become a criminal in the first place if you're gonna keep saving people's necks, anyway?"

Payton smiled. "You're thinking like Julian, Joe. You think I wanted to become a thief? I chose that line of work 'cause it paid and it generally didn't involve killing anyone. Getting involved with the Outfit was a mistake. I realize that now, but now we're out. Wasn't the best way to get out, I know, but we are out. And now you have a start on a new life. It's not the safest life." He smiled. "But when did we ever go for safe?"

"Stop talking about us like we're the same person. We're not."

"We are the same, Joe. We may have led different lives, but we wanted the same out of both of them, to help people. And one of these days you're going to have enough of this new life behind you that I won't matter anymore."

"But you do matter. All the people you knew, the sacrifices you made, and Mom."

Michael smiled sadly. "She'd be proud of you, Joe. I only wish the Viper Project had been started earlier so she could've seen us. A damn shame..." He shook his head and looked up. "Forget about me, Joe. There's nothing about me worth sharing with the world. I died stealing a satellite for the Outfit when I told myself the burglary before that would be the last job I'd do. I'm just a shadow."

"You made me who I am."

"You made yourself." He turned and faded into the dark, his trench coat trailing behind him. "You better answer that. It's probably important."

Turquoise-blue eyes frowned as he recognized the sing-song beeps of the phone.

Joe jerked awake, sitting up in bed as the phone continued to ring.

A shaky hand pushed sweaty mid-length ash blond hair from his face, and he threw off his blankets and walked uneasily into the other room in a white shirt and grey sweatpants, and hit a button on the keyboard. "Yeah?"

"Joe! You're never gonna believe this..."

"Frankie?" He blinked and glanced at his watch. "What time is it?"

"Time for me to be wishing I hadn't had breakfast."

"Slow down, Frankie. What happened?"

"It's Gerraro."

Blue eyes snapped awake. "What happened to Sally?"

"She found a body, Joe, and may I say... I am glad I don't work homicide. Anyway, she told me to tell you, the guy she found was an old acquaintance of yours..."

"You wanna be more specific?"

"It was Doctor Samuels, Joe."

"Doctor Samuels... Doctor Kenneth Samuels?"

"The one and only."