A Priori

"When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion."

C.P. Snow

It's on cold, sleepless nights like this that I really hate my job. Cold, thanks to the freezing temperatures of New York nights in the wintertime. Sleepless, because of my current state as a nearly bare-assed hooker with heels the height of the empire state building and my conspicuously hunched naked shoulders as I lean against the brick wall at the corner of 147th and Convent. Don't get me wrong, it's an exciting career, but on nights like these…

In the distance, I can hear the delightful cackle of an internally desperate working girl as she literally charms the pants off another business shmuck in the back of his silver convertible such and such. Probably he has a heater in that car. Shit. It had to be about twelve-thirty, the dazzling streets of Manhattan thriving with night life and holiday cheer. At least, I assume they would be celebrating, on another street far away from my little station in the back of an old packaging warehouse.

I try to imagine where he might be right now, willing him to come find me, pick me up… there. What the hell was that? Someone screamed. Probably it was just another girl, having some fun with a customer. After all, some guys were into that kind of shit.

Still.

I knew I shouldn't leave my spot, or else someone might come snatch it up for themselves. Dirty whores. But if it was finally happening; what I've been waiting for… It was worth a look. So gathering myself up as I sneek away into the shadows of the warehouse, I walk away as fast as I dare. Click, click, click. These boots were doing wonders for my stealthy getaway. Brushing the length of my dark ponytail off my shoulder, I near the end of the block and reach subtly into the top of my slut boot. I find what I'm looking for and hit a button on the tiny cellular. The dial tone is silent, the message sent quickly and noiselessly. Poking my head around the corner, I witness one of the many horrors of life. Kinky sex. Albeit, it wasn't what I've been spending the last three weeks waiting for but, it was a crime all the same. At least to a prude like me. Yeah.

With a sigh I turn back in the general direction of my post. Try as I might, I can't lessen the sound of my lethal stilettos against the dirty asphalt floor of the back-alley. I pause for a moment, embarrassed I might be caught watching. As I reach down to unlace the offending articles, the sounds from around the corner cease. A mumbled, "Please. Please don't do this. I'll do anything." And a choked sob that sounds like more of a choke, and less of a sob. Then:

"Glorious St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly hosts, who standest always ready to give assistance to the people of God; who didst fight with the dragon, the old serpent, and didst cast him out of heaven…"

Shit. That sounds familiar.

"… and now valiantly defendest the Church of God that the gates of hell may never prevail against her, I earnestly entreat thee to assist me also, in the painful and dangerous conflict which I have to sustain against the same formidable foe..."

Another pitiful whimper. A scuffling of shoes. My adrenaline spikes and I can feel cold sweat gathering on my nape.

"…Be with me, O mighty Prince! that I may courageously fight and wholly vanquish that proud spirit, whom thou hast by the Divine Power, so gloriously overthrown, and-"

"Let her go you crazy bastard." My voice is tight and furious as I watch the fanatical son of a bitch holding a gleaming wire wrapped around a young girl's tender throat. Being all of fifteen or sixteen, her teenage body is frail and sickly white against the bitter night air. Her eyes are stretched gruesomely wide with a combination of terror and the lack of oxygen entering her lungs.

"Let her go now, or I'll blow your goddam balls off." His face registers alarm, contempt, a myriad of volatile emotions, and I hear his grating voice for the second time that night as he shifts to cover his valuables.

"How dare you use the Lord's name in vain, you dirty whore?" He practically growls as he throws the girl to the ground. I swallow noiselessly, a minute shudder in my throat. My mind races back to when I first set off to track down the scream. Did I place the call? I can't remember. I hold my ground, raising the glistening pistol in a stable hand. My hooker heels grind into the pavement as he approaches. I can't kill him. I can't kill him.

But oh, do I want to. So very badly.

I take this opportunity to study him, the newest and most elusive serial killer to grace the streets of New York since Rifkin. But times were different now; the precincts followed a zero-tolerance policy. It didn't matter that the targets were prostitutes or drug addicts. They were victims. I give him a once over, my gaze taking in a handsome face with dark eyes that have a strange tendency of narrowing and bulging in the same terrifying glower. His tall hairline shows an impressive expanse of forehead and hair the color of wheat. At the moment, his vast brow is furrowed in concentrated hostility while that oddly petrifying gaze burns through my conscious in a searing act of intuition. A pulse throbs violently in his strong jaw, and his hulking hands clench and unclench in bitter frustration.

At this point the girl has figured that she might as well make her getaway while the going is good. She slowly rises to her sandaled feet and turns to run down the dark alley. Giving me one last regretful look, she quietly takes off into the night, her darkly auburn hair whipping in the absolute cold. He gives her retreating form a glance of distaste and turns the full force of his attention on me. His newest embodied sin.

"Put your hands against that wall right there asshole. I'm so ready to shoot you, my fingers are twitching. All I need is an excuse, you hear? You don't want to give me an excuse." There's a drawn out silence while he debates whether to believe me or not. But really, what's not to believe? Who wouldn't want to shoot this guy? He turns and places his hands flat against the brick surface. Darn.

"You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law. You have the right to an attorney…" I recite the Miranda as I roughly slap a pair of cuffs onto his shaking wrists. Something tells me he wasn't trembling out of fear. "And what the hell is so funny?" I yell, pulling him around to face me and shoving his trenched back hard into the wall behind him. My towering five-three petite frame does nothing to send chills into his heart. But the depths of my furious glare penetrate his good humor and his face turns serious at the violence and utter hatred he must see there.

"God will protect me." He recites easily, and I clench my teeth to restrain the bitterness in my heart. His expression is serene, his shoulders relaxed. I shove the barrel of my still-present gun into the soft space between his jaw and throat.

"Not even God can save you from me now."

I sigh in frustrated exhaustion. My hair is dirty, my fingers require amputation on account of frost-bite and zero circulation, and if I get one more snide comment about my attire, someone's going to get a stiletto shoved up there ass. But more importantly, there's a nagging feeling in my gut that tells me there's something not quite right about any of this.

"Well done Akane. We've been looking for this guy since September, and you hauled him in like the pansy-assed religious fanatic that he is." I smile toward my fellow field agent, a handsome man with dark hair and a ridiculous dirty bandana tied around his head. His clothing is mussed, dirty, as if he'd been living in the streets for weeks. Which he had. Ryoga was one of my fellow undercover agents in the investigation and arrest of Benjamin Geoffrey Macpherson, a.k.a. "The Cable Wire Killer". Good old Ben has been on a hooker slaying-spree since early September, roaming backlit streets and prostitution circles every few weeks in order to lure one of the girls off for a session of sex and murder. The papers had immortalized Macpherson in the daily news with the nickname "Cable Wire Killer" on account of the colored cables he used to asphyxiate his victims. What the papers didn't know, and thus the public never found out, was that after the woman was dead, Benjy would often have intercourse with the still-warm corpses. Which I suppose would make it a session of murder, then sex. What we never really understood… was why.

You see, after thoroughly researching Macpherson, (that is, searching his mother's house where 34-year-old Benjamin still currently resided), the NYPD discovered a lot of incriminating evidence. They also became informed of his fanatical religious views, taught to him by his fanatically religious mother, who had evidently been sexually and emotionally abusing poor little Benjy since early childhood. After Mr. Macpherson left a bereft (and still fanatical) Mrs. Macpherson when Benjamin was only four years of age, she took it upon herself to raise her little boy to be the kind of loving man that would never abandon a wife and child. Unfortunately for Benjy, her tactics were a little unorthodox and her religious values a little misconstrued. As a result, that little caterpillar of a boy turned into a degraded, mentally unstable butterfly with a strong sense of religious justice and an even stronger lust for violence.

Some people might hear Benjamin's story and feel sorry for him. I heard Benjamin's story and wanted to kill his mother, right after I offed the Sonuvabitch myself. I have this issue about mothering… well, that's another story. Anyway, from what the profilers could decipher, they figured Benjamin was just trying to hit two birds with one great big bloody stone. By murdering prostitutes and addicts and defiling their corpses, Benjy believed he was fulfilling his imagined duty as a carrier of God's moral will as well as expressing his frustrated sexual and physical anger toward his mother. Go figure. So now the sicko was locked away in a dark room for questioning. All was well in the world of justice. Or was it?

"Ryoga, do you feel anything weird about this case?" I ask, turning toward the man in question with a troubled look that betrayed my inner doubt. He laughed harshly, "Yeah. The sick Bastard was screwing those corpses. What's not to feel weird about?" He grew somber at my expression, his hand reaching to my naked shoulder where the warmth of his skin seeped into my chilled bones. It did little to unthaw the chill in my heart. He asked softly, "What's wrong Akane?"

"No, nothing." I mumble as I draw away from his reach and give him a quick, reassuring smile. Or grimace. I added, "Just seems too good to be true." He smiles back, a little less easily, and I can feel his gaze as I stalk off to find a blanket. I hadn't even registered the chill again until the backup had arrived and carted Macpherson off to the jail. Even then, my nerves were strung so tight on adrenaline and outright anger that they were practically vibrating in my limbs. But now it hit me in an icy blast of unforgiving chill. As I huddle next to a small ambulance to block the wind, I think about the last three weeks. None of those memories were good ones, and just when I was about to internally dissect my insecure feelings regarding the case, a heavy blanket is dropped on my shoulders. Startled out of my thoughts, I whip around to face whoever managed to sneak up on me.

"Whoa there. You looked a little cold. Not that I wasn't enjoying the view or anything." This from one of the most beautiful men I have ever seen in my twenty-six years. With the top of my head just reaching his strong suit-clad shoulders, I had to crane my neck to meet his eyes. And oh, what gorgeous eyes. Blue… or grey. Reminiscent of the sky, only not in the cliché sense. I instantly pictured the brooding clouds that hover ominously before a thunderstorm. Or the darkened color of the sidewalk after you wash your car and the cement has been hosed down. With the strong facial features of a well-proportioned god, and the darkly handsome looks of a troubled man, I was thunderstruck. Awestruck. Any kind of struck you can possibly imagine. And I'm not usually a sucker for good-looking men, believe me. At my continued silence, Mr. Ridiculously-Good-Looking was forced to fill the conversation gap.

"Uh… I understand you were the arresting officer tonight. Good job." I manage a weak nod, a small acknowledgment to his compliment, not so much to my powers of intelligent speech. I pride myself on the fact that my mouth refrained from hanging open and my gaze was undoubtedly one of cool inspection. Or utter shock, but I think anything is better than outright adulation. Finally regaining some semblance of control over basic motor skills, I reach out a hand to the stranger, introducing myself and thus forcing an introduction out of him.

"My name's Ranma Soatome, resident FBI agent, presently. I have a few questions to ask regarding the Macpherson murders if you can just follow me to my car."