Well shit. How long has it been since I've updated this? Half a year, or something like that? Goddamn!

Ah well. This story, out of all three, has the least potential, in my view. But that's actually starting to change. The more I write, the more doors open up to me, and the doors that opened during this chapter alone have led to some pretty interesting stuff, as you'll see. I still say this story has the least potential, and the number of reviews proves it, in my mind. But, not that I like to toot my on horn(shut up, perverts)or anything, but when you've got stories of this caliber, even the one with the least potential is pretty good...Okay, mini-Ego Trip over.

(Update - 3/26/09)

One thing you'll notice about this chapter is that I've taken the focus off of the comedy here. This chapter is pretty much all character developement and plot progression. There's also a little treat in here for all my fellow Gamers out there. Also, some of you may have noticed that the character known as "Don" earlier in the story is named Shino. At first I was going for a sort of nickname-type thing, where Shino was a fan of mafia movies and like to call himself "Don Shino", and preferred to be called simply "Don" by friends. He was also originally supposed to frequently impersonate Vito Andolini Corleone(a.k.a Don Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando, for those of you living under rocks)and quote lines from The Godfather. But I decided that it would be more cheesy than funny, and that kind of attitude would be better suited to an antagonist character that will appear later. Even though I decided this a while ago, I only recently went back and corrected the name.

Well, that's about it, so...

Enjoy chapter 3 of Tamer of the Night!

During the ride, Takato couldn't help but notice that everyone was keeping to themselves. Renamon was still staring at him; Jeri was checking her cheesepuffs for spiders; Suzie was still pouting about not being able to keep a tarantula; and Rika, who was in the passenger seat once again, was staring at the glove box like it was a hungry wolf.

"Okay, what's up with you people? Did I freak you out that much? Because if I did, how the hell did you make it through the Digital World?" Takato looked at them all through the rear-view mirror.

"It's a combination of a lot of things. Our day-to-day lives, the fact that we haven't seen you in forever, then you show up, basically abduct us, and break out magic tricks that are going to have us paranoid for life." Henry spoke and the others nodded.

Takato narrowed his eyes behind his sunglasses, something else was on their minds, he could tell. He knew them all too well for them to hide things from him. But he decided not to push it. Today was meant to be a fun day, and he wouldn't ruin it by bringing up their personal problems, especially not in front of everyone else.

He looked at Renamon. "Are you trying to activate x-ray vision, or something? I swear I can feel the back of my head burning right now." the fox looked away with a small, unnoticable blush.

Even though he didn't see it, Terriermon knew what Renamon was doing, and instantly got on her about it. "Renamon's got the hots for Takato!"...this is what he would have said, but he didn't get past "Rena" before Henry had his hand over his mouth.

"At the very least, could you wait until we're not in such a confined space?" Henry whispered.

Takato chuckled a bit and looked at Rika, taking notice of the fact that the arcade was now in sight. "And you?"

Rika jumped a bit. "Hm? What?"

Takato cocked an eyebrow. "Don't 'what' me, you're looking at the glove box like it's about to kill you."

Rika scoffed, returning to her normal self again. "From what I've seen out of you today, what's in there might kill me."

Takato's eye twitched a bit as he remembered that there was an AMT AutoMag V that he had put in there as a precaution. Due to his abilities, Takato was never without his guns, but, if he happened to have someone in the truck with him that didn't have a weapon with them, he couldn't very well leave them defenseless while he stepped out of the truck to deal with the enemy.

'I knew locking that thing before I picked them up was a good idea.' he chuckled. "Don't worry, I've got it locked. Besides, it only bites when I tell it to."

Rika cocked her head slightly at that last part, but remained silent as they pulled into the parking lot of the arcade.

Stepping out of the truck, humans and digimon alike stretched, loosening up for some intense gaming. While Takato's truck certainly was roomy, it was made to fit eight passengers comfortably, and only human passengers were taken into account. With the digimon, it was a whole other story, though it wasn't all too bad.

"I still don't know how we're supposed to get in here, Chumly. Not only would it be a hassel with the digimon, this place is already packed!" Kazu said.

"And don't forget that we've developed something of a fanclub...They're going to tear us apart as soon as they see us!" Kenta pointed out while shuddering. He was the slowest out of the whole group, and had been caught by rabid fangirls a few too many times to risk it happening again. The bespecticled teen fancied himself a romantic at heart, and didn't like the idea of losing his virginity to a girl he didn't love...or even know.

"Guys, guys, don't worry about it! The guy that owns this place owes me a favor, and I'm calling it in today." it was true, just like the owner of the diner, Takato had kicked the crap out of some "rowdy teenagers" that had been harassing Shino, the owner of the arcade. What neither the Tamers nor Shino(or so Takato thought at the time) knew was that these "teenagers" were, infact, vampires in their mid thirties. They were using their powers to keep the appearance of teenagers so they could attend high school and go after younger blood.

Another thing no one else knew was that Takato hadn't just taken then down, he had taken them out. Four .460 Rowland rounds, an incineration spell, four piles of smoldering ash in a dark alley, and no one was the wiser. Despite the decent muzzle flash and sound report of Takato's guns, they were still nothing that an anti-sound field couldn't take care of.

"A lot of people seem to owe you favors, don't they?" Ryo nudged Takato with his elbow.

Takato turned to the other teen with a false grin. "Don't you owe me a favor as well?"

Ryo furrowed his brow. "For what?"

"For setting you up that Suzako girl."

"What? She was a damned psychopath! She thought she was a werewolf, for God's sake!" Ryo exclaimed.

"But you got laid, did you not?" Takato crossed his arms.

Ryo hung his head, he couldn't argue that Suzako had made his first time truely unforgettable...and his second, third, forth, fifth...you get the picture. Now that he thought about it, Ryo knew that he, in fact, owed Takato several favors, but he wasn't about to mention that.

"I guess you're right...I still say she was a psycho." the older teen grumbled.

Takato waved him off. "Yeah, yeah, whatever, just keep it down when we get in there. She's gonna be there, too, with her friends, and her hearing is just plain godly." 'I hope she doesn't make a scene...or force me to make one.'

Oh yes, Takato knew Suzako Asaji very well. Not only was she in most of his classes, she was also the neice of the teacher that almost seemed to stalk Kazu, Kenta and himself; Ms. Nami Asaji. Seriously, She had been their teacher ever since seventh grade! But she always seemed just as surprised, and horrified, as they were when they met after a three month break from school after opening the homeroom door.

Contrary to what most people believed, Suzako didn't get good grades in her aunt's classes because she was family...Okay, so that actually was the reason, but not in the way most thought. Nami watched her like a hawk whenever they were together. Suzako had to sit in the front of the class, where she wouldn't be distracted by ogling boys and couldn't use the excuse of not being able to see the board.

To her, however, there was a lone upside to sitting in the front, and that was being next to Takato. As soon as the "Three Stooges", as Rika called them, stepped through the door, Ms. Asaji had slammed her head on the desk mumbling a near-silent "Not again", and immediately split them all up. Kazu sat by himself in the back corner, where his behavior would only affect himself. Kenta was seated in the middle of a ring of girls, and, with his shy nature, he rarely ever said a word, and constantly answered questions to show off his intelligence in hopes of impressing at least one of the girls around him. In short, his desperate want of a girlfriend kept him in line, though he was never really a problem by himself, as Kazu was the real ringleader. Takato...well, there was really nothing she could do to keep him in line, since him interacting with others wasn't the problem, it was his constant daydreaming. No matter where she put him, he'd eventually drift off into his own little world. If he was in the corner, it was even worse, since no one would bother to wake him from his fantasies, even if it was just to be mean. At least at the front of the class she could easily catch him, sometimes even before he started, and keep him on-task.

But the fact that she constantly hounded him wasn't why Takato knew Suzako so well. No, it was the fact that he was the object of her nymphomanic desires. You see, Suzako was, in fact, a werewolf, or Shewolf, as they were often called. During one of Takato's nightly hunts, he had come across her crying in the park, in her fully trasformed state. To say it was unnerving to see seven foot tall, heavily muscled supernatural creature sitting on a park bench bawling its eyes out would be an understatement.


Takato cautiously stalked up to the werewolf. Just because it was crying didn't mean it wasn't lethal, it could have been a trap for all he knew. Pulling out his custom .460XVR S&W revolver(1), Takato cocked the hammer back, gaining the beast's attention, and pointed it at the werewolf.

What happened next was far from what he had expected. Instead of lunging at him with a ferocious roar, or even giving him a feral growl as a warning, the werewolf's eyes widened and it cowered before him, crying even more.

"Please...Please don't shoot!" the werewolf, now identified by the sound of its voice, regardless of the heavy distortion, as a Shewolf, pleaded with the young vampire.

Takato cocked his head to the side, keeping his gun trained on the creature before him. "Why shouldn't I?"

"Why should you? I've never hurt anyone, not even on accident! My Mom told me about you Hunters, how you kill indiscriminately, not caring if the ones you're killing are innocent or not! None of you ever seem to understand that we can be the victims! You think I wanted this?" the wolfgirl gestured to herself, clearly repulsed by her own appearance. "Look at me!" she collapsed onto the bench, which groaned in protest to her weight, which made her cry even more.

Takato's hand trembled. He knew it was his job, but she had a point, and as hard as he tried, he couldn't bring himself to just blow the brains out of a crying girl that had done nothing wrong. With a frustrated sigh, Takato slipped his gun back into his trenchcoat and plopped himself down beside the shewolf, startling her.

"You...aren't going to kill me?" she seemed genuinely surprised, and it made Takato feel like shit.

"You told me I have no reason to, and I don't smell any blood on you, human or otherwise...Makes me wonder just how you've even got enough strength to even be in that form." speaking of blood, Takato pulled a packet out from one of his inner coat pockets and leasurly drained it while leaning back to lounge on the bench. "So, what's your story?"

"Shouldn't you explain yourself first?"

"Ah, right, where are my manners? Can't really tell you much, I'm an assassin known as Seventeen, Hunting is just a passtime for me, and I'm a vampire, which I'm sure you already know...?" Seventeen(2) saw that the shewolf was staring at him like he had grown a second head. "...You didn't sense that I was a vampire?" she shook her head. "Great...How long have you been a werewolf?"

"I was born as one." the wolfgirl answered, now much more comfortable in the vampire's presence. Her mother had told her that vampires and werewolves were ancient enemies, and couldn't stand to be near one another for long periods of time without fighting, but she didn't feel that at all.

Seventeen's eyebrows shot up at the answer. "How old are you?"

"Seventeen." she stiffled a giggle as she thought of the Hunter's alias.

Seventeen's jaw almost dropped. "How the fuck have you stayed alive this long? You can't sense other Nightspawn(3), I can tell you barely have a handle on your powers, and you obviously don't have that natural 'warning bell' instinct that warns you of when a vampire is near...Hmm." he removed his sunglasses and used his Blood Vision on the werewolf. "Well that explains it..."

"Explains what?"

"You have a long-term barrier spell around you, keeps others from recognising you as a werewolf. Unfortunately, it's also combined with a suppression spell that's screwing with your powers and your instincts. But look on the bright side, it's also keeping you calm so I'm not forced to put a bullet between your eyes!" Seventeen grinned, his fangs glinting in the moonlight.

The shewolf giggled nervously. She had been told, by her mother, about both Hunters and vampires, and nothing that she heard about them was good. Hunters were ruthless killers that would stop at nothing and go through anyone, innocent or not, to get to their prey. Vampires were amongst the most powerful of Nightspawn, as was the popular name for supernatural creatures, gifted with enhanced physical abilities as well as vicious intelligence and incredible magic. It was well known, amongst the Nightspawn, that Hunters and vampires were almost always at war. But it was also no secret that either one of them wouldn't hesitate to put their animosity aside in favor of killing a werewolf.

But, despite all that, here she was, sitting next to a vampiric Hunter that had shown up pointing a rather large gun at her, and she was still alive, and seemingly in no immediate danger.

"So," Seventeen decided to start a conversation, "you don't like the form you're in now?" the shewolf shook her head. "And you don't know how to regress back to halfing, or better yet, human form?" another shake of the head. "I see...Stand up." Seventeen's voice left no room for argument.

The werewolf did as she was told, rising up to her full height of six foot eleven, not including her ears, towering above Seventeen.

"You know, you're a lot less intimidating from up here." the shewolf giggled.

Seventeen cocked his head to the side in annoyance. "Oh really?" he slipped off his shades and stared into her eyes with his glowing crimson orbs. He then released a fraction of his Mana and, using his eyes, sent it directly into the shewolf's eyes, through her optic nerve, and into her brain, where it set about screwing with her perception of reality.

The wolfgirl suddenly felt dizzy as the world around her began to bend and shift in unnatural ways, the only thing not moving was the Hunter before her. But she quickly noted that he was no longer a Hunter, he was some kind of grotesque monster standing at least five feet over her impressive height. The beast growled, its small, blood-red eyes glaring down at her. Its "lips" curled up in a snarl, revealing rows of fangs, each almost as long as her middle finger in her human form, and seemingly glowing as the pale moonlight reflected off of their ivory surfaces.

"How about now?" the demon spoke, its terrible, deep, undulating voice sending a spike of raw fear through her mind and a violent shiver down her spine.

"Okay, you're scary again." the shewolf whimpered.

The creature suddenly disappeared and the Hunter was standing in its place again. "Good! I've got a reputation to uphold, you know...Okay, maybe not that much of one, but I need as much 'street cred' as I can get, being the new guy on the block and all." he shrugged. "Now then, down to business. I'm going to alter that spell placed on you. This will allow you to not only control your powers, but control how much of your powers you'll use. If you want superhuman strength without 'wolfing out', fine. You want to be able to beat the trackstar of your school while running backwards with your shoes untied, that's cool." the vampire placed his hand over the werewolf's heart. "This may hurt at first, since I'm going to force the change back to human, but after this you'll be able to change at will, anytime, day or night. That is, of course, with practice. Are you ready?" receiving a tentative nod, Seventeen began to chant the ancient language that was used to cast more powerful spells. To a language specialist, it would sound like a combination of Latin, German and Norwegian, but it was actually one that predated all of them, even Latin.

Glowing runes suddenly appeared all over the shewolf's body, then more surrounded the vampire's hand. These new runes spread in different directions, each one overlapping another rune that was already on her body. Once the old seal was overridden, the new seal took its place and the werewolf disappeared in a flash of blue light, and in her place stood a naked girl about a third of the size of the shewolf.

"There we are..." Takato trailed off and drank in the curves of the girl in front of him.(4)

"W-What?" the girl shuddered, she didn't like the way he was looking at her.

The teenage Hunter simply let out a wolf whistle and pointed at her.

"PERVERT!" the girl screamed and tried to cover herself.

The vampire simply cocked his head to the side. "So?" then, with a sigh, he took off his trenchcoat and drapped it over the girl. "Now that that's out of the way, you got a name, or am I gonna have to call you 'Wolfgirl' all the time?"

The girl shot him a glare, but couldn't hold it for long when she stared into the reflective lenses of his glasses.

"Suzako Asaji..."

This threw Takato for a loop, he new she smelled familiar, but he would never have guessed that this was the girl that sat within arm's reach of him for an hour and a half five days a week.

'Seriously, how did I miss that?' he thought. "Nice to meet you, Suzako. Sorry I can't tell you my name, but I can take you home. Where do you live?" he knew she lived somewhere near Ms. Asaji's apartment complex, but not her exact location.

"About three blocks East of here, off of 20th."(5) Suzako yelped as she found herself being scooped up by the vampire.

"I know that neighborhood." of course he did, it used to be crawling with Dregs(6) before he took up Hunting. "I'll take get you there, you just tell me where to drop you off." with that, the vampiric Hunter and his cargo disappeared into the mysterious fog that had suddenly rolled in.

Two minutes later, both Nightspawn found themselves standing atop a building directly across from the large apartment complex Suzako designated as the one she and her family resided in.

"That's it, the one with the red door." Suzako pointed out the apartment she and her family, consisting of her mother and her older brother, resided in.

Takato knew he had to be careful. Werewolves, in any form, had an exceptional sense of smell, and the last thing he needed was Suzako's mother bashing down the door in her tranformed state just to get at him. She'd probably already tear him a new one just for being in her territory, but bringing home her naked daughter? Takato wasn't sure even silver bullets would save him in that case.

'Might be getting some use out of you afterall.' Takato thought as the image of a .460 S&W round obliterating a charging werewolf's head entered his mind. Under normal circumstances, one of his twin H&K Mark 23s would have been more than enough to take down a werewolf with a .460 Rowland(7) right between the eyes. But there were times when it wasn't enough to just put a hole in the creature's brain. Sometimes you had to splatter the whole damn thing all over ground.

"Let's just hope it doesn't come to that." Takato muttered.

"What?" Suzako's enhanced hearing picked up the sound of his voice, but she'd been too preoccupied with thinking about what her mother would do should she find the vampire.

"Nothing. Is there a window I could go through? I'm not about to use the front door." front doors almost always led to the worst-case scenario becoming reality.

"No, but there's the sliding glass door on the balcony in the back." Suzako answered, coming to the same conclusion as the Hunter.

"Great, the back door. Almost as bad as the front." people tended to expect you to come through the back door. The movies had ruined that point of entry for the real assassins.

Suzako suddenly went into a giggling fit. "That...sounded...so wrong!" her brother always saw the perverted side of things, and she supposed his habits rubbed off on her.

"Yeah, yeah, be quiet before I use you as a lawn dart." he wouldn't really do it, but she didn't know that.

"Oh, lighten up!" Suzako whined.

The vampire just snorted as he walked along the roof of the apartment complex with an ancient vampire trick. He used his powers to create pockets of air dense enough for him to walk on. This was the key to the vampire's legendary stealth and their fabled, hollywood-style levitation. He made absolutely no noise while moving because his feet never actually touched a solid surface.

Dropping down to the back balcony, Takato activated his blood vision to scan the apartment. But he wasn't surprised to find that he couldn't see anything within the apartment.

"Barrier Spell." the young assassin scoffed. 'Since when did werewolves know such advanced barrier and suppression spells? Something about this doesn't seem right. I'll have to ask the Boss if I can search through the archives for anything like this.'

"Well?" Suzako asked, wondering what was taking so long.

"This is where you get off." the vampire sat her on her feet. "With all the spells put on this apartment, there's no way I could get inside, get you to your room, and leave without getting caught. If I use magic, they'll sense it. If I open the door, I'll set off a security spell. You just go inside."

Suzako reached for the handle on the glass door, then blushed and pulled back. "But...what about...you know?"

Takato sighed. "Keep the coat, I'll be back for it later." there was nothing in the pockets that could be used against him, something he'd made sure of when he put the coat over her. He turned to leave, but was stopped by Suzako's hand on his shoulder.

"Wait! I...I wanted to say thank you..." she gave him a genuine smile and let him go before opening the sliding door and walking into her home.

But, before she closed it, Takato called out to her again.

"What your mother told you about Hunters and Vampires...is true. I'm an exception to the rule because I'm a professional, but other Hunters are just mercenaries and murderers. They don't care about who you are or what you have or haven't done. They only care about what you are, and they will kill you because of it. If you ever come across one, run, don't fight. You won't win, not at your level. And one last thing; don't let ANYONE tamper with that new spell. The results will be anything but good. Until we meet again, Suzako." with that, Agent Seventeen leapt off of the balcony rail and vanished into thin air in mid-fall.

Suzako closed the door and leaned against it. "Seventeen...He seems so familier." she gathered up the front of the coat, held it up to her nose, and proceeded to take a huge whiff of the vampire's scent, committing it to memory. 'I hope Mom doesn't freak out too much.' she knew she wouldn't be able to hide the coat from her family, and that the scent would drive them into a raging frenzy, but she hoped they would be more understanding anyway. 'It's not like he's my boyfriend or anything...Yet.' on this night, an obsession was born.

(End Flashback)

"Takato?" Rika poked her friend in the cheek for the fifth time, causing him to finally snap out of his trance. "You okay?"

"What? Oh, that, yeah, I'm fine...Just remembering a particularly...disturbing experience with Asaji's niece."

The excuse was easily bought, as they all knew the girl was constantly hounding him. Oh, if they only knew.

Rika's eye twitched a bit at the thought of some random bimbo going after what was hers, but she fought back the urge to find and strangle the girl. Takato wasn't hers, and she had no desire to claim him as such.

'You know damn well that's a lie.' that nagging little voice in the back of Rika's head taunted.

'You, shut up!'

"Rika? Is everything alright?" Viximon, who had devolved from Renamon to sit in her partner's lap, looked up at her Tamer with that ridiculously cute face of hers. It was actually pretty creepy because, even in her In-Training form, she kept her "Silent Warrior" disposition. It just wasn't natural for something so adorable to be so...serious.

"Of course, everything's fine." Rika assured with a small smile.

"Good. Now, can we get out of here? My leg's starting to fall asleep!" Kazu complained. Hagurumon wasn't allowed to hover in the truck, since he'd go flying forward and might kill someone if Takato had to slam on the breaks, so he took a place on Kazu's right leg. It was then that Kazu learned the Rookie was just as heavy as he looked.

"You people do realise that you can unlock and open the doors yourselves, right?" Takato deadpanned.

"The owner of this place owes YOU a favor, not us. Therefore, YOU have to get up off YOUR ass, and take us in there!" Rika pointed to the arcade.

Takato gave her a smirk. "Hm? Someone wants another free show, eh?" he yelped overdramatically when Rika hit him in the arm again.

"Just get out so we can go in. You're going to accept my DDR challenge today." the redhead said as she opened the passenger door and stepped out.

"The hell I am." Takato replied without hesitation. It wasn't that he couldn't dance...it was that he despised Dance Dance Revolution with a passion. Not only did it have some of the most annoying techno music of all time, once you got to the higher levels, actual dancesteps and moves were completely foregone in favor of frantic stomping that looked not unlike a violent epileptic fit. He also didn't want to draw any unwanted attention with the fact that he could probably make that frantic stomping look good, something that no normal human could accomplish.

"Yes, you are." the look Rika was giving her friend was actually starting to make him sweat.

'Why does she scare me so much?' something was wrong here. This wasn't the comical, "Hell hath no fury" kind of fear, this was genuine terror that slowly, but surely, made its presence known within Takato whenever Rika looked at him like that. It was like some kind of deep-rooted, instinctual fear, like Rika was a being that it would be in his best interest to avoid. 'I'll have to ask the 'rents about it later.' his mother either had the answers, or she knew who did. "Remember what happened last time? I'd rather not go through that again." now THAT was an embarrassing moment. "Besides, you've got both the title of Digimon Queen and DDR Queen, what more do you want?" if he wanted to get out of this, he'd have to drag that ego of hers out from under the rug she'd swept it under over the years and appeal to it.

Rika sighed as Takato and the rest of her friends stepped out of the truck. She knew what he was doing and why he was doing it, but she couldn't call him on it and keep demanding that he dance with her, otherwise the others might get the idea that she wanted to dance with him for reasons other than humiliation and bragging rights. Which wasn't true. Not at all.

'Liiiiiiiarrrrrrrrrr.' damned inner voices, always so...correct.

'Didn't I tell you to shut up?'

'What can I say? I'm stubborn like that.'

Before Rika even noticed, they were all at the entrance to the arcade, where there was actually a Bouncer.

"Hold it, I've got to see one ID before you go in here and play the more violent games, as I know you will." the big guy demanded in his oddly high-pitched voice.

"What?" Takato snorted. "Don't be a dick, man. I know you saw us pull up in that truck, and if I'm old enough to drive, I'm old enough to play some fucking Mortal Kombat!" his friends stared at him with raise eyebrows and, in Jeri's case, full-blown disbelief. It wasn't often they heard Takato drop an F-bomb, and it was never any less astonishing when they remembered that this was once a kid that said "Aw nuts" all the time.

Henry just covered his sister's ears and frowned.

"Be that as it may, I still need to see some ID." the Bouncer was having a bad day, and was just looking to piss someone else off, which was why he was giving these kids such a hard time.

"How much do you weigh?" Takato asked, sizing the Bouncer up.

"250, why?" it wasn't like the Bouncer would ever be the subject of a fat joke, so what did his weight matter?

"Hm, just wanted to know how much I'd be tossing into that dumpster over there in about five seconds." Takato jerked his head over to the half-ton dumpster at the side of the building.

Normally, the Bouncer would have just laughed and gotten right in the little punk's face, using his impressive stature of six and a half feet to scare him off. But there was a problem this time around, and that was the fact that this "little" punk was just as tall as he was, and, though he wasn't as big as him overall, there was something about him that told the Bouncer he wasn't bluffing.

Nodding in respect, the Bouncer sniffed. "A kid with some backbone...been a while since I've seen that, it's pretty rare nowadays."

Takato snorted. "Sad, isn't it?"(8)

"Mm-hm." the Bouncer stepped aside. "You're alright, kid. You and your..." he seemed to finally take notice of the digimon, but only gave them a once-over before shrugging, "friends can go in. Shino's expecting you anyway." he smirked as he saw the red-haired girl frown and glare at him.

"You mean you just gave us all that bullshit for no reason?" Rika's eye twitched when the Bouncer nodded.

"You, my friend, are an asshole." Takato chuckled.

"And damn proud of it." the large man rubbed his nose with his thumb while sniffing.

Following their friend inside, the Tamers each glared at the Bouncer as they passed him, each one making his smirk widen more and more.

They all missed the man turning to look at him with glowing yellow eyes, his smirk now a full-blown grin, revealing his fangs.

"Kids these days..." the vampire turned to look at Takato's truck, "they've got all the cool toys." in an instant he was standing next to the Chevy, sliding his hand over the hood. With a feral grin, he brought his fist up and smashed it down on the vehicle. Normally, anything short of a tank wasn't going to stand up to his power, so imagine his surprise when intense pain lanced through his entire arm and truck hadn't suffered so much as a dent. "What the hell?" he hissed, cradling his injured hand while it mended itself.

Despite the pain, another grin found its way to his face. 'Well, if you can't break it, take it.' he walked around to the side of the truck and grabbed hold of the driver's side door handle. At the same time he felt something grab his own leg and looked down to see a grotesque arm coming out from under the truck, its clawed hand wrapped completely around his right shin.

The Bouncer was ripped off of his feet and dragged under the truck before he even had a chance to scream. A series of cringe-inducing crunches, wet ripping noises, and low whimpers came out from under the truck as it rocked slightly. Then an eerie silence as a single small stream of blood slithered out from under the vehicle like a crimson snake, sizzling in the sunlight. It didn't get far before it was collected by what appeared to be a long, slimely tentacle...or a tongue.

Inside the arcade, Takato flashed a small smirk before he spotted a blonde, twenty-something year old man of average build wearing a white sneakers, blue jeans, and a brown unzipped hoody.

"Hey, Shino!" Takato greeted, clasping hands with the older male and allowing himself to be drawn in for a manhug. "Told you I was coming with the entire crew today!" her gestured to his friends, who each introduced themselves, even the digimon.

"Well, I've gotta say it's nice to meet the saviors of the world, and more than a bit of an honor to have 'em in my humble arcade." yeah, "humble" was the word that popped into people's heads when they stepped through the doors. Not "ridiculous", not "humongous", not "epileptastic", and certainly not "excessive". Oh no, "humble" was synonymous with "Shino's Game Palace". The blonde-haired, green-eyed man looked at Takato with a slight frown. "I was beginning to think you'd never show up." he checked his watch. "You're fifteen minutes late, and that ain't like you."

Takato shrugged. "Blame your bouncer for holding us up."

Shino rose an eyebrow. "Dude, this is an arcade. I don't have a bouncer. You think I want some meathead manhandling a little kid when he throws a fit after being beaten in Tekken? Yeah, no. I want no part of the legal shitstorm what would result from that."

Henry covered Suzie's ears again.

Rika's eyebrow twitched violently. "Wait a minute. You mean you didn't hire Mr. Asshat?"

Shino simply shook his head. "Nope."

Rika's face went blank and she cracked his knuckles menacingly. "I'll be right back, don't start without me." she turned to go back and give the "Bouncer" a piece of her mind, but was stopped by Takato's hand on her shoulder.

"Oh, come on, we're here now, so why let him take up even more of our time?" he flashed a knowing smirk, which disappeared as Rika turned to face him. "Besides, he's probably long gone by now." 'Probably halfway to becoming a turd.'

Rika sighed in resignation. "Oh, alright." she suddenly grabbed Takato's hand and dragged him off.

"Um...Where are we going?" Takato questioned.

Rika didn't answer, she just grinned evilly.

Behind them, Jeri nodded to herself with a smile. "They make a cute couple." she giggled and waved when she saw Takato turn his head to glare at her.

"'Cute' isn't the word I'd use for them." Ryo said, rubbing his chin, idly reminding himself to to shave when he got home. "'Insane', 'Monsterous', 'Diabolical', 'Terrifying'; those are the words I'd use. But hey, that's just me."

"I heard that!" Takato yelled.

"So?" Ryo replied.

Takato flipped him off.

"Hey, save it for Rika, you stud, you!" Kazu laughed, then frowned when Rika stopped walking. "You think she heard that?"

Rika turned a glare on them the likes of which they hadn't seen in almost five years.

"I think she heard that." Ryo started to sweat.

Rika let go of Takato's hand and pushed him aside as she stalked towards them.

"She heard that." Kazu and Ryo said in unison, both taking a couple steps back.

They saw Takato wave goodbye to them, a disarming smile plastered on his face.

Kazu looked at Ryo. "Run?"

Ryo nodded. "Run." with that, both Tamers shot off so fast one would think that the devil's personal hounds were after them. If one had asked them, they'd have preferred the hounds.

Takato chuckled and shook his head. Even after five years the group dynamic had changed very little. Henry was still the smart one; Rika was still the deadpan snark(9), though to a lesser extent than before; Jeri was the compassionate one; Kazu and Kenta were still the comic relief, often joined by Terriermon; and Takato was still the unofficial leader, though Rika was the one who held the most authority of them all. Ryo, having been the new guy long ago, didn't find his niche until three years after he joined them. Up until then, he usually just took Takato's role when he wasn't around. He was the team leader when Takato was nowhere to be found, and he was also the "Replacement Stooge" when he joined Kazu and Kenta. He was now the playboy/casanova.

He seemed to enjoy hitting on any decently attractive girl that wandered by, no matter who he was with at the time. At first they thought it was his attempt at making Rika jealous, but not only did Rika show no reaction(aside from pointing out just how lame some of his pick-up lines were), Ryo did it whether Rika was present or not. But, sometimes it did become a bit too much for them to handle, like the few occasions in which they all went to the mall.

The last time they'd done that, Ryo had hit on so many girls that they started to say they weren't interested before he ever said anything. He did get a few to talk to him, but it was ruined by Rika, who dragged him back to the group by his ear after telling the girls that he was "Just horny.", which somehow circulated throughout the entire mall in less than an hour. Every girl that they passed gave him odd looks, ranging from disgust and hatred to pity and sometimes even longing.

But it was all in good fun. If he was turned down, Ryo often went about sulking melodramatically, and sometimes launched into a comical "woe-was-me" monologue that could go on for fifteen minutes, and probably longer, but no one was willing to let it. When he wasn't turned down, Ryo would would break into an incredibly weird, yet oddly graceful dance, usually flashing a piece of paper with some chick's number on it. He would then suddenly stop, program the number into his phone, then calmly walk off like he hadn't just made a complete ass of himself in public.

Takato laughed to himself, drawing a couple of odd looks from the people who'd been watching him just stand there for three minutes while reminiscing.

"Hey, you gonna gawk, or are you gonna play some damn games?" Shino walked up next to Takato and pointed at the three younger teens who'd been staring at him. The kids looked at each other, then two of them walked over to the Time Crisis 3 game while the last went to check the balance of his game card.

After they left, Takato narrowed his eyes. "I didn't like the way they were looking at me." they weren't human, that much he could tell.

Shino sniffed. "Vampires?" he asked casually.

"Shh!" Takato hissed, looking around. "The walls have ears!"

"Yeah, yeah, and the hills have eyes." Shino rolled his eyes.

"Hey, that's my line!" Takato did say it a lot when he encountered paranoid people. It happened a lot during missions in which he had to meet an informant. Most of them were jittery, pencil-necked lab-nerds that looked like they were an owl hoot away from shitting themselves. 'Really, if the "walls have ears", why not pick a different fucking rendezvous point?' this same question had raged within his head during many a mission, but he always kept his mouth shut, like a good Agent. He wasn't paid to question the intelligence, or sanity, of the clients.

"So? It's about time it was used on you." Shino looked around to make sure no one was paying attention, then motioned for Takato to follow him. "Walk with me."

Takato complied. "Have you had any more problems with this place?"

Shino shook his head. "Nothing I wasn't able to take care of myself." he was a decently powerful mage, and could handle most of the newbie creatures easily enough, but the more experienced ones would be much more difficult to take down.

That was where Takato came in. Turns out that after he had shot those vampiric degenerates, he'd Shino had been able to see through the illusion he'd erected over the entrance to the alley and had seen him squeeze the trigger each time. After that Takato convinced the Agency to let Shino live as his informant on the activity of Nightspawn. Younger vampires and werewolves often frequented arcades to scout out potential prey, or just to have fun. The problem was that Nightspawn usually had different definitions of "fun" compared to humans. Fun, to Nightspawn, often meant destruction and carnage, and that was something that Takato couldn't let slide. It was in his contract.

So, Shino would use his powers to pick the Nightspawn out of his daily crowd and get names through personal sound amplification spells. He'd also pick up various conversations with this same method to determine whether or not the Nightspawn were a threat. Determining innocence was essential for Takato ever since his first meeting, as Seventeen, with Suzako.

If they weren't trouble makers, Takato would meet up with them anyway to put them on notice, telling them that there'd be a bullet with their name on it if they ever stepped out of line. If they were minor trouble makers, mostly guys using their powers to pull pranks on normal folks, they were also given a warning, though a much more painful one. The really bad ones, however, got a non-consensual lobotomy after Takato got any valuable information out of them. Then there were the rare cases of the "Superhero" Nightspawn, who believed their abilities were gifts that were to be used to defend those weaker than themselves. These guys needed to be given a reality check before the general public became aware of the existence of Nightspawn. That just wouldn't do, and the last thing the Agency wanted was a war between humans and Nightspawn. The smallscale wars between Hunter syndicates and Nightspawn clans were bad enough.

Takato eventually found himself walking into Shino's upstairs office, where one of his Mark 23s materialised in his hand and was pointed at the back of Shino's head.

"Who are you?" Takato demanded.

"What the hell? Dude, this is so not cool!" Shino's hands shot into the air, having seen enough movies and cop shows to know the procedure for "gun-pointed-at-head" situations.

"Answer the fucking question before I add a wind tunnel to your anatomy." the quicker he found out who this imposter was, the sooner he'd be able to find the real Shino.

"The fuck's your malfunction?" Shino's voice cracked as he began to sweat.

"Right now, you are. Who are you, and where's Shino? You're not going to like it if I have to ask again."

"Dammit, I AM Shino!"

"No, you're not. You fucked up two times. The first time was when those kids were looking at me and you asked if they were vampires. Shino checks EVERYONE that steps into this place, so he'd already know if they were human or not. The second time was with my line. Shino doesn't know it, since I've never said it around him, so why would he speak as though I said it to him all the time? I've only used that line on missions or when in the presence of another Agent. Release the spell and turn around so I can see your face." this person was from the Agency, and it was his day off, so Takato wasn't in the mood for this at all.

"Shino" sighed in resignation. "Fine, you win. Kouga, retrieve the mage." "his" voice became distinctly feminine as the illusion was dropped, revealing a woman with fairly short brownish-orange hair, who was actually a bit taller than Shino. From what he could see, she was quite the knockout. Perfect hourglass figure, accentuated by the almost ridculously tight blue jeans and one-size-too-small tubetop. She was slightly tanned and possessed a physique that would make an olympic gymnast green with envy. But what really drew his attention were the yin-yang earrings and the tribal phoenix tattoo on the small of her lower back just above her hips.

"Motoko. To what do I owe this little visit?" Takato knew this woman, he'd been on missions with her before. She was a Kitsune, a Nightspawn with mischievous tendancies, a laid back personality, and a strong affanity for illusion-based magic. They normally didn't go beyond general delinquency, and were never really taken seriously by anyone. This often proved to be a mistake, as most Kitsune were masters of Ninjutsu, REAL Ninjutsu, and accomplished theives. It was when Takato encountered his first Kitsune that he realised why the Renamon species was designed the way it was. Get rid of the stoic disposition and replace it with that of a lazy prankster, and you'd have a perfect Kitsune.

"It appears that you'll be needed for a mission afterall." Motoko turned around and crossed her arms over her C-cup breasts with a sigh. "Sorry to have to be the one to tell you, but I was the only Agent in the area at the time." she gave a sheepish smile. "Knockout" didn't quite do her justice. The heart-shaped face, the sparkling emerald eyes, the subtle hints of blue eyeliner, the pair of whisker-like marks adorning either cheek, the furry ears on top of her head; it all gave her an exotic beauty that no human woman could ever match.

But Takato had learned not to be entranced by her looks long ago and simply snorted. "Save it. Just tell me why you're here and why you found it necessary to fuck around with my friend and informant."

Just then Shino, wrapped in a cocoon made, strangely, out of vines, fell through the ceiling and landed painfully on the floor.

"Ugh..." the man groaned.

"Whoops." a boy, looking to be no more than thirteen, poked his head out from the hole in the ceiling.

Takato growled and leapt at the boy, grabbing his head and snatching him from his perch with ease, then throwing him to the ground.

"What the hell, Takato?" Motoko rushed to the boy's side.

Takato just shrugged and attended to his own friend. "Whoops." he looked at the vines that bound Shino and sighed, then tore them away with no real effort. "You alright?" he asked as he helped Shino to his feet.

Shino nodded and peeled the tape from his mouth. "Goddammit, when did I become a fucking freak magnet?"

"When you decided to take up the Dark Arts." Takato smirked a little.

"I'm starting to wish I never had. I mean fuck! Do you know how long I've been up there? Huh? Two hours. Two FUCKING HOURS!" Shino turned and glared at the two Nightspawn. "There was a vampire loitering around outside, and I was about to call you to get rid of him. But Ms. Shotacon and her underage sextoy decided to barge in here and attack me!"

Takato's expression darkened. "Really?" he turned to Motoko, who was noticably pale now. "Care to explain your reasons for that? Maybe give me some incentive to not blow your Familiar's head off and drain you dry?" he cracked a grin, exposing his fangs.

Motoko gulped, this was NOT a situation she wanted to be in. Takato valued his friends above all else, and whatever threatened them would have to face his wrath. Add to that the fact that he and herself didn't have the best history together, and "shit hitting the fan" didn't even begin to describe what would happen.

But, before the Kitsune could even utter a single word, her familar spoke up.

"You will not harm her!" the boy put himself in front of his master, arms held out with vines slithering out from under the sleeves of his green and yellow t-shirt.

"Says who?" Takato rose an eyebrow.

"I do!" Kouga growled out, more vines coming out from his brown shorts and wrapping around his legs like a sort of armor. His green hair, actually blades of grass, started to grow out until it became super-hardened zebra grass. He broke one of the blades off and wielded it like a sword.

"Really? And what can you do to stop me should I choose to drain every drop of blood from that bitch? What can you do, Fairy Boy?" Takato held out his hand and his massive .460 revolver appeared in a flash of red light.

The word "massive" didn't really do the weapon justice. "Monstrous" would be more accurate. At fifteen inches long and weighing just over four and a half pounds(unloaded), the gun appeared to be something you'd see in an anime, but not in real life. But this gun was even more of a monster than a normal S&W XVR due to the magical runes carved into it throughout the entire frame, including the cylinder and grip. Each rune modified the revolver, turning it into the perfect tool for a someone in Takato's line of work. Some runes strengthened the frame so it could handle any form of punishment, while others made cleaning the gun a thing of the past. There was also a special set of runes that allowed any form of magic to be channeled through the gun without it melting, disintegrating, or blowing up like a frag grenade. Most of the runes on the grip allowed Takato to summon the gun to his hand no matter where it was, but there was also a set that made the gun teleport directly to Takato if anyone took hold of it without his permission. Each rune had a function, and worked in conjunction with other runes that were for the same purpose, making sure that the gun was ready for anything at anytime, and would always be reliable. The blued finish was also a nice touch.

Shino eyed Takato warily, knowing that when the XVR came out so did Agent Seventeen. And when Seventeen came out, someone was going to die.

"Takato, chill out, man. They didn't rough me up too bad, you know? I appreciate the concern, but just because I'm human doesn't mean I'm that fragile."

Takato simply glanced at Shino before returning his cold stare to Kouga. "I know that, Shino, but the fact that they roughed you up in the first place is cause enough for their elimination." he popped the cylinder out, revealing that the gun wasn't loaded. But, before anyone could sigh in relief, Takato produced one of the huge bullets and placed it in one of the five compartments, then snapped the cylinder back into place with a flick of his wrist. "We're going to play a little game, Fairy Boy."

Kouga snarled, his dark brown eyes beginning to glow an ethereal pale yellow. "I'm not a Fairy! I'm a Minor Earth Elemental, get it straight!" even if he was terrified beyond all belief at the moment, Kouga was still tired of people not acknowledging his power.

Takato snorted. "To be correct, you are a Forest Spirit, otherwise known as a Woodland Sprite. A Sprite is a subspecies of what kind of magical creature? A Fairy, that's right." he looked at Motoko, who was cowering behind her Familiar. "You're an Agent, yet you've got this little prick as a Familiar? Just by looking at him I can tell he failed 'Nightspawn 101'. Probably doesn't even know the difference between a Succubus and an Incubus."

Kouga blushed a bit and his eyes shifted nervously. 'Is it that obvious?'

Takato suddenly burst into laughter. "Oh man! Maybe it's better that I kill you. I mean really, you're gonna get eaten before you even grow your wings!" he pointed his gun at the Familiar. "You wanna play hero? Fine, let's play. How far will you go to protect your 'Master'?" cocking back the hammer, Takato grinned as the cylinder rotated. "There's only one bullet in here, but what is it? Is it a normal round that will only kill one of you? Or is it a Rune Round that'll blow you both to hell?"

When you've got a gun fit for a Class-A Hunter, you've got to have Class-A ammunition. Under normal circumstances, the 2.290 inch .460 cartridge was more than enough to take down anything short of a whale, but NOTHING that a Hunter encountered could be considered normal. That was where the runes on the gun came in, as the ones on the cylinder gave the normal ammo the power to kill most Nightspawn and even wound the stronger ones with a single shot. But there were times when not even a bullet as formidable as the .460S&W Magnum was enough. Be it super-tough armor, magical barriers, two feet of solid steel, or a couple feet of water, some things just required a little something extra. That's where Rune Rounds came in. A normal round could have magical runes carved into the casing and the bullet itself to give it specific effects. You wanted the bullet to explode with the force of a hand grenade on impact? There was a sequence of runes for that. You wanted your bullet to bore through steel like a hot knife through butter? There was a rune sequence for that. You wanted your bullet to carry a huge electrical charge for overloading machinery or frying organic targets? There was a rune sequence for that as well.

"Will you at least give us a chance to explain?" Motoko screamed, becoming frantic.

"I gave you that chance, but Fairy Boy decided he wanted to be your 'knight in shining armor'. Now, on with the game." Takato pointed the gun at Motoko and squeezed the trigger. There was no deafening bang, just an empty click as the hammer struck nothing but a vacant slot. "Lucky you." he pointed the gun at Kouga. "Your turn."

"No!" Motoko tried to jump in front of her Familiar, but Kouga used his arm to keep her at bay.

"Anxious, are we?" another empty click. The gun was trained on Motoko again. "Good, 'cause you're up again."

Kouga pushed Motoko away at the last second, but all that came was another hollow click.

"Luck's on your side, Kitsune!" Takato turned the gun on Kouga, but was surprised when Motoko shoved her familiar to the ground and placed herself in the bullet's path. Or, she would have, had there been a bullet in the slot. "Uh-oh." Takato's grin twitched on the edge of insanity. "You know what this means, don't ya'?" cocking the hammer back one last time, Takato bounced between his two potential targets. "Eeny, meeny, miny,..." a hand suddenly grabbed his arm and pulled it down.

"Fuck, man! Snap out if it, Takato!" Shino yelled. He knew Takato could get a little carried away when he was on the job, but this was a bit too much. "You act like she killed your parents! What, did she fuck you over in the past?"

Takato twitched a bit and slowly turned his head to Shino, who instantly backed off at the look in his eyes.

"...Moe." Takato brought the gun back up, aimed it at Motoko's head without even looking, and squeezed the trigger.

Time seemed to slow down and Motoko's eyes widened, then snapped shut as she prepared for death. One final thought ran through her mind in that final moment, 'For what it's worth, I really am sorry, Takato.' but death never came, only a violent shove that sent her tumbling to the floor. She looked on in horror as Kouga put himself in the bullet's path. "NO!"

Kouga hit the floor with a loud thump and groaned as he landing on his shoulder, which had been injured in the short fight with Shino, but he was otherwise fine.

"You all suck, I just wanted you to know that." Takato drawled before pointing the gun at Kouga and squeezing the trigger, resulting in another click. He popped out the cylinder, took out the "bullet", then flung it at Kouga, hitting him in the forehead.

As the object rolled along the ground, Motoko picked it up cautiously, then dropped her jaw in shock.

Shino's eyebrows almost met his hairline when he realised what had happened.

"You loaded a spent casing." he mumbled.

Takato nodded. "An age-old trick used by every "magician" out there; sleight of hand. And you all fell for it." he chuckled. "Did none of you really notice that I was about to shoot you with a really big, really loud gun, yet I didn't bother to put up a sound barrier? There's about fifty people right below us, some of which aren't human, and all of which would have heard the gun go off." he then glared at Motoko. "You really aren't fit to be an Agent. Maybe I should get rid of you before you get someone killed...again." the malice his words carried told them all that he wasn't only considering it, he wanted to do it.

Shino wiped a bit of sweat from his brow. "Takato, man, what's with you today? What did she do to you?"

Takato released a low, animalistic growl. "That's on a need-to-know basis...But let's just say I have permission to kill her if she steps foot in my sector."

While Shino had only been working with Takato, and, by extention, the Agency, it turned out that his brother was an Agent and he'd filled him in on some things. One of those things was how the Agency regulated personal vendettas. The Agency was an organization that had thousands of assassins and Hunters working for it. Among these people were Nightspawn, and they weren't received very well by most of the Hunters, so conflicts regularly took place. When things got out of hand and family and friends started getting caught in the crossfire, vendettas emerged, and that's when things got really dangerous. Vendettas not only fucked up missions, they often threatened to compromise secrecy. If a man's entire family had been killed by a volley of stray bullets, that man tended not to care about who saw him take his revenge on the one responsible. Professionalism went out the window with vendettas, and the Agency wouldn't have any of that.

So, when these vendettas emerged, they were reported to the higher-ups and the parties involved would be forced to separate and put a few cities between them, if not entire countries. Say an Agent's wife is killed as a result of another Agent's actions, and both of them were asigned to the same sector. One of the Agents would be forced to relocate to prevent further confrontation. It was an efficient system that had yet to fail, but there were times, like now, when failure was dangerously close.

"You've got two minutes to tell me why you're here, then you've got two hours to get as far away from here as possible. If you are still in my sector by that time, I will hunt you down and eliminate both you and Fairy Boy. Do I make myself clear, Kitsune?" Takato kept his glare leveled at Motoko's own eyes, daring her to defy him, daring her to give him an excuse.

Motoko forced herself to look away and nodded, fearing that he may cast some kind of diabolical illusion on her. Normally a Kitsune would have no problem breaking an illusion, or even reversing one and turning it on the original caster, but to do that she would have had to have a vast amount of magical energy in order to overpower and break the illusion or take control of it. As it stood, Takato could annihilate her with even a minor spell and she would be powerless to stop him. He wasn't one of the top Agents for nothing.

"I...I'm here because the Agency believes that four human Agents may be walking into a trap due to false intelligence." Motoko stood up with Kouga's help and tried to get her trembling under control so she could speak properly.

Takato crossed his arms over his chest. "Is it a team or just four individuals chosen for the same mission?" if these guys were a team, then they could probably get out of most any jam, even if they were only human.

"Team Falcon."

Takato rose an eyebrow, then snorted. "Falcon? Things must be really fucked up if the Agency's worried about them."

Kouga nodded. "The informant that gave them the intell. required to accomplish their mission, a spy working for the Agency, turned up dead and skinned, and apparently had been deceased for a week before he gave Falcon the information. We had another Agent go after the 'informant', and it was discovered that it was a Mimic working for Team Falcon's target."

Takato just grunted. "Who was their target?"

"Kendo Momochi, you may have heard of him."

This time Shino snorted. "Who hasn't? He's been on the news everyday for the past month. Rich businessman, CEO of one of the largest corporations in the country, turns out to be smuggling weapons in from contacts in the US to the Yakuza."

Takato, who didn't watch the news, ever, was surprised by this. "So that's how those thugs got their hands on that hardware." he then shrugged, the amount of firepower they had been packing added at least some excitement to the mission.

"Yes, well, Team Falcon was assigned to take him out to halt the flow of arms, but these recent developements complicate the mission horribly...Enough for the Agency to order a a withdrawal." Motoko said.

"Then why didn't you go to them instead of me? The time you're wasting here could have been spent informing the team!" Takato growled. "You're fucking up again."

"I wasn't told to go to them, I was told to come to you!" Motoko protested.

"Why? Team Falcon has Angel with them, and he's the best sniper the Agency has to offer, one of the best in the world, as a matter of fact." it was true. "Angel" was simply an alias based on his nickname of "Guardian Angel" during his time in the US military. He prove himself worthy of the name during an operation to secure a rather large village in Africa, where his team was ambushed by the citizens, who'd been infected with a man-made virus and turned into ravenous monsters. He and his Spotter had been cutoff from the rest of the team and had made it to the tallest building in the village undetected.

Angel went to cover his team from the roof of the building, but his gun ended up jamming and was rendered useless, as he didn't have the time to take it apart and get the sand out of it. He then took a .308 hunting rifle he'd found on the lower level of the building and, with no scope, proceeded to crack twenty-eight skulls with twenty-seven bullets. Not only did he get his team out alive, but he hit twenty-eight rapidly moving targets at over four-hundred meters without a scope and without his Spotter.

But it didn't end there. To Angel's horror, most of the "people" he shot got back up and continued their pursuit. By the end of the day, Angel was the only survivor of Razorback Squad, having been rescued by three Agents that had been sent to the area. Normally, a person that had been exposed to Nightspawn and lived to tell of it was given the option of joining the Agency, either as an Agent or a simple informant. If they declined, they were released with a warning to keep their mouths shut under the promise of death. But the "Infected", as the villagers were simply called, were artificial Nightspawn, so the rules were a bit unclear on what to do with Angel.

Eventually the team of Agents decided to just pose as a Special Forces unit assigned to find and destroy the main carrier of the virus. Angel was taken back to the States, where he retold his story, but not only to his superiors, but to a small group of men and women all either dressed in white labcoats or black suits. Apparently, they were from a corporation called "Monolith", which had been created from the ashes of another coporation, called "Umbrella Corp.", after it went under. Monolith was using the information and samples left of Umbrella's previous experimental virus in their research to formulate a counter for the new one, which they believed was created using a stolen sample of the "T-virus".

Not much was known(read: made public)about Umbrella Corp., but there was no shortage of rumors. Stuff about zombies, monsters, a nine-foot tall mutant that weilded a rocket launcher that fired missiles the size of fire hydrants; really outlandish shit.

But, when you worked for the Agency, you'd do well to strike words like "outlandish" from your vocabulary.

It was unknown, at least to other Agents, how Angel came to become one of their number, but no one said anything about it. Everyone had their own reasons for joining, and Angel wasn't the first that preferred not to mention his, and he certainly wouldn't be the last.

"It doesn't matter if you can get a headshot at half a mile without a scope when what you're shooting won't die." Motoko sighed a bit. Even though she didn't know any member of Team Falcon personally, she was still saddened by their plight and the absolute slaughter that would occur if they didn't get any backup.

Takato rose an eyebrow in confusion, then nodded in understanding. "I see. If Momochi has access to something like a Mimic, there's no telling just how many Nightspawn he has at his command. Who knows, he could have made a deal and become one himself." it was a possiblility, since there was a large number of Nightspawn, like vampires and werewolves, that could turn a human into one of their own. For the right price, of course. "And I'm guessing Team Falcon isn't packing anything that would be able to down anything other than a human or the weakest of Nightspawn." while magic-infused bullets, if not Rune Rounds, were needed to actually kill most Nightspawn, there were some, like zombies, that could be put down with a normal bullet, as long as you knew where to aim.

Motoko nodded. "They figured that, since their mission would require them to stalk their target for days in order to set up a perfect location to execute, the energy generated by Rune Rounds would bring unnecessary attention to them. They do have some serious firepower with them, but not that serious."

Takato scratched his chin and mumbled something under his breath before speaking outright. "Let's see...Angel has his modified Remington M700 XCR with an integrated suppressor, firing the .375 RUM cartridge and his .357 revolver. Arc has his M32 40mm grenade launcher and some kind of submachinegun, probably a P90 or that TDI Kriss Super V that he managed to get his hands on. Buck has his trusty semi-auto 12-gauge; something light and automatic, like an TEC-DC9 or MP7 and that damned machete he takes everywhere. And Chopper's got his ever-present Desert Eagle and an assault rifle, probably that Barrett REC7 he 'found' last week." Takato sighed and mumbled something else before speaking again. "You're right, that is some serious firepower...But if they don't have Rune Rounds with them...Wait, aren't they using their specialized guns?" in their line of work, every Agent had at least one custom weapon that was either designed from scratch using their own specifications, or an existing weapon modified and/or Runed(10), like Takato's guns. Not only did these help with assassinations, they were invaluable when "complications" decide to rear their ugly heads.

Kouga shook his head. "No. Again, the magical energy signature would, as they said, attract the attention of any Nightspawn or Intuned humans in the area." a human was considered "Intuned" when he/she was able to feel magical energies and/or had magical abilities of their own. When an "Intuned" human developed his/her abilities to the point where they could hold their own against a relatively tough Nightspawn, they were considered a Mage. Shino was a prime example, though he was fairly weak as Mages went.

"Well shit." Takato pinched the bridge of his nose. "I swear, if I didn't owe Angel a favor, I'd be demanding a bonus right now." Takato had done a few missions with Team Falcon when he was just a rookie. During one of these missions, he was in the process of getting his ass handed to him by a minotaur when he was saved by the legendary sniper. With its giant warhammer raised high above its horned head, the minotaur was about to literally pound Takato into the ground, but was stopped cold by a .375 RUM round to the forehead, courtesy of the "Guardian Angel" of Team Falcon.

According to Chopper, Angel had taken that shot, without a scope, while running across a rooftop four-hundred meters away. As a testament to just how respected Angel was amongst the other Agents, whenever Chopper mentioned that shot, or any of Angel's equally impressive feats, no one ever questioned it. Sometimes...Hell, MOST of the time it was hard to believe that Angel was, in fact, human. There were Nightspawn snipers within the ranks of the Agency that had, with scopes and more powerful guns, missed shots at half the distance that Angel regularly nailed his targets from.

Apparently, the Agents weren't the only ones that often questioned Angel's race, if the frequent DNA tests were any indication. No matter how good they were, no Mimic, Kitsune, or any other Nightspawn that impersonated other organisms could duplicate things down to the cellular level. A DNA test would never fail to reveal what they truely were. But Angel checked out every time, and was beginning to become annoyed with the perceived lack of trust from his superiors. He'd completed hundreds, if not thousands of missions in his years with the Agency, and never had another Agent died under his watch. But any Agent, no matter how much of a jackass they were, would trust Angel with their lives, and no amount of distrust from the Agency would change that.

"So, you'll do it?" Shino asked, wondering what Takato was going to do about his friends downstairs, who were probably already looking for him.

Takato nodded. "Yeah. Give me their location and let me go home and gear up. I'll be there as fast as I can." while Takato could summon his guns from anywhere, the rest of his gear, like his coat and wrist blades, was another story.

Motoko nodded and gave a small smile, which was received with a scowl from Takato. "Their last transmission had them stationed in a condemned building on the corner of Sonji and Hazure. They should be on the fifth floor of the building, or at least Angel should be there. The others might still be out and about."

Takato rose an eyebrow. "Wait a minute, why are they carrying out an assassination in broad daylight?"

Motoko shrugged. "You'll have to ask them. They originally said they'd take Momochi out tonight, but their last transmission had them saying they'd be doing a daylight job."

Takato just nodded, but he didn't entirely trust the situation, or the information. 'Something's not right about this...Shit, damn near everything's not right about it.' he frowned. 'If I want the truth, the WHOLE truth, I'm gonna have to get it straight from the falcon's beak.' afterall, this wouldn't be the first time that the Agency had withheld the entire truth so he'd take a mission, only to reveal it to him when it was too late to back out. They were bastards like that.

And there you have it!

Like I said, this chapter is far more serious than the last, and has relatively few laughs.

I can't really think of anything to say about the chapter that won't be in the footnotes, so meh. But I do need to tell you that work on Black Flames is going very slow. Like retarded-snail-stuck-in-tree-sap slow. So don't expect the next update anytime soon.

Oh yeah, you need to know that vampires don't "ash" when they die in this fic, unless their bodies are exposed to sunlight.

(1) Why the .460 XVR? Simple: it's the best handgun I've ever seen in my life. I wanted to give Takato a really big gun to use whenever things got really hairy, but I didn't want to use the .454(I'm using enough crap from Hellsing as it is), and I didn't feel like making something up. I needed a cartridge that was huge, and had a suitably large gun to chamber it. It just so happens that I own a very large amount of guns, and among them are my "pride and joy" revolvers: a .454 Raging Bull, S&W .460 XVR, and the S&W Model 500. Since the .454 was already out of the question, I only had two choices. And, since I personally favor the .460, that ended up being Takato's "Deus Ex Machina", if you will. That being the case, you won't see this gun as often as Takato's others, since he won't be needing it unless he encounters a real badass...But, then again, he'll be encountering a lot of those, so maybe you'll be seeing the "Problem Solver" more often.

(2) From now on, when Takato is on-assignment, he will he will be known by his alias of "Seventeen". This will also serve as something of a barrier between Takato's personas. When he's on the job, Takato is a completely different person, and I want to get that across effectively, so I'll be treating Takato and Seventeen almost like separate characters.

(3) "Nightspawn" is the general name that all supernatural creatures in this story will be classified under. This includes even your typically kind and benevolent creatures, like Fairies and such.

(4) I'll do a detailed description of Suzako later. Actually, I'm still trying to determine exactly what I want her to look like. There will be a LOT of female OCs in this fic, and I don't want any of them to look the same, so I've got to be innovative here. And no, the chicks won't be after Takato's nuts, most of them will be out for his head(shut up, perverts).

(5) I don't care about actual street names, and if you do, you suck.

(6) Dregs are humanoid Nightspawn that have mouths resembling Cookiecutter Sharks. And, like those sharks, their mouths are lined with razor-sharp teeth that are used to tear circular chunks of flesh out of their prey. But Dregs mostly feed on brains, using their mouths to latch onto their victims skull, cut out a hole, then suck the mushy stuff out...Yum. Even though their bodies look human, they even wear clothes, they are easily identified by the fact that they wear scarves all the time, regardless of the season, to hide their mouths.

(7) The .460 Rowland is a cartridge was created by Johnny Rowland as a more powerful alternative to the .45 ACP. As far as I know, only the legendary M1911 pistol has featured conversion kits that allow it to fire the .460, so I've modified the H&K MK23 to fire that round instead of the .45 ACP. Why did I not use the M1911? It's far too overused, mostly in movies. And yes, I am fully aware of the fact that all of Takato's weapons fire a round designated as a .460. This was completely by accident, I didn't even realise it until a friend pointed it out.

(8) Yes, it is fucking sad. All you wannabe "Gangstas" out there. Most of you are nothing but a bunch of pussies who hide behind a tough facade. I can't even remember that last time I had a one-on-one fight with a "gangsta". They always have to get their friends in on it, and why? Because they know they'll get their asses handed to them if they fight alone. I see all these kids running around thinkin' they're the hardest thing since titanium, when they're really about as soft as a cottonball. The fact of the matter is this: if you have to tell people that you're tough, you aren't.

(9) A Deadpan Snark is the member of a group or cast of characters that can always spot the flaws in a plan and never fails to point them out, usually in the form of sarcasm. Lines like: "So you're telling us that we, who are all bleeding right now, are to jump into the shark-infested water, swim for about two-hundred feet while pausing at air pockets, and hope that we aren't torn apart? Yeah, great plan, but I don't think I'm the only one that's a little lost here. Why don't you go first, you know, show us how it's done?" are usually reserved for the Deadpan Snark. This character is often said to be perfect for the role of the leader, but initially declines because he/she doesn't want the responsibility. Sometimes, in horror movies, if the Deadpan Snark isn't killed off in the early going, he/she(mostly he) will reveal themselves to be huge cowards, and often break down when they get to the "it's time to fight back" animes have a Deadpan Snark, but most movies don't(they just have characters that have DS moments), and Rika is the closest thing to a Deadpan Snark in Digimon Tamers. The Deadpan Snark is NOT to be confused with the Sarcastic Bastard/Bitch, though the line between the two can become blurry at times.

(10) "Runing" is the process of carving magical runes into objects, normally weapons. It can also apply to someone using runes in the form of tattoos, though this is highly dangerous and ends in disaster more often than not, as you will see later in the fic. Larger items, like guns and melee weapons, are Runed by hand, but Rune Rounds are made via a machine to ensure that there is always a substantial supply of them when needed.

I hope you all enjoyed that, because I enjoyed writing it.

What is Takato going to do about his friends?

What is the Agency hiding?

Why is Angel such a good shot?

Just how deep does Monolith's connection to Umbrella go?

Why does my toast refuse to fall butterside down?

Well, you'll all have to wait for the answers. So, until next time...

Jason Out!