Author's Note: "Dragons of the Darkwave Part 2", like the first of the same name which this directly follows, will attempt to stay true to the dots strewn throughout the anime series while connecting them in a cohesive manner. Bits and pieces are shown of Spike and Vicious in their early Syndicate days. But they never really reveal the full truth. This visceral story is how I see it going down—the events in the year leading up to Spike's defecting from the Red Dragons, all the way to the final betrayal at the Tharsis graveyard … enjoy.
Vicious gazed toward the meeting chamber door, waiting impatiently for it open. The typical scowl pulled on his long facial features. Around him, the Red Dragon syndicate's capos and their hand selected senior subordinates chattered amiably like this was some kind of civil social hour. He tapped on Mao Yenrai's shoulder. His capo held up a hand and finished his conversation with another's subordinate.
The nerve of this man. Vicious stared a hole in the side of Mao's neck as he waited to gain his attention.
At long last, Mao turned his wrinkled pudgy face up to him and smiled warmly. "Yes, Vicious?"
"Someone is missing," he remarked flatly.
Mao glanced around the room.
Vicious extended a hand palm up. "Where is Spike?"
"Oh! I wasn't expecting him anyway." Mao waved a dismissive hand. "He's still working that assignment for the Van."
Vicious bobbed his head, his long white hair concealed the flash of heat blooming on his face. "You mean the hit they summoned him to the top floor about … two weeks ago?"
"Why yes, that's the very one!" He replied pleasantly. "The Van have really taken to him lately. They're finally recognizing the same promise in him I did over a decade ago."
Coldly, he remarked, "If they had asked me it would be finished by now."
"Oh Vicious. When are you going to learn that good results are sometimes worth waiting for? I have every confidence that Spike knows what he is doing. Luck has been carrying him on an unprecedented streak. I can't ask anything more of my future successor."
Vicious gripped the hilt of his katana, breaking it loose by a fraction from the sheath. Future successor?Him? I knew the old man thought of Spike as his golden boy. But he seriously believes Spike has the ability to command? He's out of his damn mind.
Without another word, Mao turned and grasped a visiting executive's hand, chatting on about business as usual.
Spurned, Vicious drifted to the edge of the red and gold gilded chamber room analyzing each man from the Van's favored capo to the disgraced senior subordinates trying to remain unnoticed against the wall. Soft bellied cowards, the lot of them. To think this used to be the most feared syndicate in the system.. able to kill any target, anywhere. But with cautious fools like Mao remaining in command and placing immature charlatans on pedestals, the death knell is already keening.
No one even glanced his way as he slipped out the door. Someone needs to make an example.
Spike laid the pool cue on his splayed left hand, nestling it in the crook between his thumb and forefinger. He drew the cue back and forth, shutting his left eye to stare dead down the shaft of wood at the white ball. Half a cigarette smoldered between his lips.
"Two to one odds he sinks it." Shin lifted his pint of beer.
Lin, Shin's twin brother, choked his own pool cue on the other side of the table. "Damn, it's a risky called shot, but if anyone can do it … "
Spike grinned and rammed the chalked end under the cue ball. It hopped straight over the striped and slammed into the solid orange, number five. The ball zipped across the table and hit the rear rail smack on the diamond, it snicked the green six in its path. Both balls rolled at different angles. The five raced for a center pocket. The six for the corner.
Shin held his breath and leaned forward, his eyes wide.
"Hah! The six is going in first." Lin chalked his cue. "You never should have … awwwww SHIT!"
The five tipped into the pocket a second before the six.
Spike drew the cue in the air and aimed it at Lin's chest. "You were saying?"
"Dammit! Come on and give me a turn, big brother! I needed those woolongs."
"Lin, we're not even remotely related." He brushed a wrinkle out of the light blue t-shirt he was wearing and smirked. "And you shouldn't have laid a bet on the table against me. That was your idea, not mine. I just wanted the target practice."
"For once Spike is right." The intrusion of an icy voice shattered the mood. "Only a fool lays down a bet he cannot back up."
Spike didn't look over his shoulder. The stiffening of his subordinate's shoulders told him he wasn't hearing things. "Hey, Vicious. Come to try your luck?" He studied the table idly.
"Not against a cheater. I am no one's fool. Least of all, yours."
Shin took a step closer to his twin. "Spike doesn't cheat. He's just good."
"Really." Vicious stalked to the edge of the table and leveled his icy stare at Spike who met it without flinching. "Why don't you bet him to make the shot with his left eye instead of his right."
Spike snorted. "If you think that's what's going on, you're dead wrong. I was a shark long before the accident."
"The accident." Vicious blinked slowly. "What a charming way to cover for a moment's lack of grace."
Spike smirked. "Whatever. I don't remember a thing about it anyway. Just waking up with gauze over my eyes and some whack surgeon telling me not to be an idiot and try to get up til he said I could."
"And that synthetic eye doesn't give you an edge?"
"No." He shrugged, tucking his thumb into his back jean pocket. "If anything the damn thing is a pain in the ass. Never can get it to sync right. The colors come through off-filter. That's the only reason I close one eye when I aim. Now, would you mind stepping out of the way? I have a four ball lead and I'm about to win."
"Spike." Vicious resolutely remained where he was. "Aren't you supposed to be doing something?"
He half-closed his eyes. "Yeah, I'm getting' around to it."
"When I feel like it. Now step aside." After a moment's pause under the cold gaze, Spike plucked the cigarette from his mouth and snapped, "I know where they damn-well are, Vicious. The timing hasn't been right. That's all. Trust me, the hit is as good as done."
"Done? It would better if it was already done. When the Van gives you an order—"
Spike flicked the spent butt away. "What would you know, Vicious? You've never even seen the top floor."
Shin and Lin swallowed loud enough to be heard.
"Careful, Spike. You know what happens with disappointments."
Spike smirked and leaned closer. "No, I don't know personally. But I could go ask your previous subordinate … if I could find the body."
Even in the stoic Vicious that struck a nerve. His lip curled for the briefest moment.
Spike caught the emotive betrayal and smiled. "You know, you've been rather pissy since they split us up and gave us teams of our own to run. What's the matter, old comrade, can't stand a little competition?"
"On the contrary." Vicious resumed his flat tone. "I relish it."
"More like crushing it." Shin whispered to Lin.
Vicious shifted his gaze, stalling Lin's reply.
Spike cleared his throat and waited for Vicious to refocus his cold wrath on him. "I know you don't give a shit about authority and commands. So tell me, why are you really here?"
There was no reply, save for the venomous stare.
Clear that he wasn't going to get this side of the table back, Spike sighed and shifted to the other edge, leaning down to eye the angles. The seven was embedded in a mess of stripes, the eight nowhere possible from this angle to get in a double. He'd have to take two shots. He could have gotten it in one from the other side. Damn you, Vicious. Can't you relax for five fucking minutes in your life without pulling a trigger in the process? He leaned over the edge of the table and cocked the cue high to avoid scratching on another ball.
"Hey, you wanted to see me do this with my natural eye? Alright … what's your bet, Vicious?"
"You know I don't gamble."
"Fine. I guess we'll just do this for entertainment. Seven ball, close corner pocket, to my right."
Lin scoffed. "Without knocking one of the stripes? Are you actually giving me a chance to get my money back?"
"Nope." Spike shut his right eye and struck the edge of the cue ball down the right side. The ball curved around the cluster and smacked the backside of the seven, severing it from the grouping. It shot straight through the empty corridor and tipped into the called pocket with just enough momentum. "The real eye, or the fake one. Makes no damned difference. I can still hit my target."
"Then why don't you go hit one that matters, for once."
"Why don't you go bother someone who cares." Spike leaned over the table staring at the buried eight ball. All he had to do was sink it on the call and he'd win. It took him a moment to see the path. The diamond marking he needed on the rail was clear. Laying out flat he winked up at Lin with the cue in line. "Ready to lose?"
The cue clacked against the ball and sent it skidding toward the rail.
Vicious's katana cleaved the ball in two, sending the halves tumbling into the air. Lin caught one half as Vicious wrenched his blade free from the now sliced felt top table. He glared hard at Spike. "Oh dear. Looks like you scratched, Spike."
Still in cued position, his knuckles flared white against the cue. His own glare edged up to lock eyes with Vicious. "I had a-hundred-thousand woolongs on that shot alone!"
"Then, let me remove your distraction." Vicious plucked both the bet cards from the table and pocketed them. "Now, stop playing around and get to work."
Spike huffed a breath and rolled his eyes. "Anyone ever tell you, you can be a real prick with that sword?"
Vicious stiffened, but coldly replied, "The last person who did choked on his own blood. Has anyone ever told you not to shoot point blank at a bullet proof vehicle?"
"Apparently I learned that lesson first hand." He cocked his fingers like a gun and pulled the invisible trigger straight into his right eye. "Shit, that happened years ago! Get some new material to bitch about. You're just jealous."
"Of you? Don't make me laugh."
"That would be a first for you." Spike discarded the pool cue onto the table with a loud clatter.
Lin grabbed for his cell phone and stared at it. "Spike. The tiger's in the cage."
He plucked his trench coat from the back of a chair. The garment hung lopsided off his shoulder, the pockets clanking. He glanced at the twins. "You two can split, I got this. Thanks for the warm-up." He roughly shoved past Vicious, bumping shoulders enough to jostle him back an awkward step. "You can go tell the council it's done."
"I'm not your messenger, Spike."
He waved without looking back. "No, but apparently you think you speak for the Van." The bell on the door jingled as he swaggered through.
Stiff as a pillar, Vicious remained staring at the pool table until Spike's lackeys collected their coats and shuffled out. The moment after the bell jingled he pulled out his cell phone and typed a text message.
"The target is en route. Bury him."
See you, Space Cowboy