Marco watched as a lone kid walked down the empty streets. I
should warn her. The thought crossed his mind but he ignored
it. She probably hadn't caught the notice that a rogue shifter
was running loose. She wasn't very tall, and the loose clothesshe
was wearing didn't help her to appear taller.
She was watching the street corner where a gang usually played
hacky-sack, adding to his suspicion that she was from around this
area. She absently brushed a strand of hair out of her eyes. Her
hair was streaked purple, red, and black. Her eyes were an odd
shade of gold-hazel. She moved past his hiding place and to the
empty corner. She frowned in his direction but didn't sight him.
His head tilted to the side as he realized that she was obviously
low-class. The clothes were faded out and tattered, the band logo
at least two decades old. The way she moved spoke of complete
confidence, or at least awareness of everything around her, a
fighter's walk. Yet again the thought crossed his mind to warn
her. Something crashed in the alley.
He peered around the corner to see the girl lock eyes with a
large cat-were, leopard if the pattern was right. It was the
rogue if his guess was right. As he watched, the girl unhooked
her bag and dropped it behind the dumpster next to her. The Were
let out a low warning growl. She moved her hands in front of her
as if to tell it that she was harmless. It obviously didn't
Don't run, don't run, don't run…He was repeating the
mantra in his head over and over again. The girl ran. Marco gave
a low sound of admiration as he took off after her and the
chasing rogue. He had to admit, the girl was fast. She was headed
the long way to the river so he cut across several streets to get
ahead of them. He caught sight of the river and started heading
back on the path they were taking. A startled scream had him
He pulled short when he found them. The rogue was pacing an eight
foot circle around the girl. She was half-crouched and holding a
bloody knife in one hand. It appeared to be a long throwing
knife. She was turning with the Were to keep it in sight.
She had scratches and bites from where the rogue had obviously
tried to tackle her. The Were was limping on a badly lacerated
front shoulder and had a deep gash along its side. Marco
carefully pulled his rifle around and sighted on the Were. The
shot echoed in the high-walled street. The girl spun, flinging
the blade at him. He ducked to keep from getting hit. When he
looked back up the girl was gone.
He swore softly and pulled out his cell. "I got him but we have a
problem." He quickly explained the girl and gave a description of
her, as well as where to pick up her bag before hanging up. He
didn't envy the Re'Jek who was going to be getting a call.
Vale closed his phone an hour later and looked down at the file
he'd been faxed. A holographic image of a girl about 17 stared up
at him. It was a recording that the city used for identification.
Her bag was setting on the table next to it where a cop had left
it. He pressed play.
The image immediately began to move and he could hear the
interrogators voice. "Name." "Lex Xahn." "Code." "75J9306R"
"Age." "17" "Height." "5'2"" "Weight." "140lbs." "Address." "Kal
district, building R9, third floor, apartment C19." "Good." "You
should try using some breath mints, or at least brushing your
teeth." "You-" the image cut off at the interrogators irate
The address explained both the clothing and the attitude problem.
The code explained the name. Downtown, Relocated, Juvenile
Delinquent. She was a foster kid and lived with a low-class
family. The family name was Jale. He really hoped the kid wasn't
infected. Not only so he wouldn't get a new shifter, but also so
the kid wouldn't have to move again. He put the I.D. in the bag
and headed out, he grabbed a sensor on the way.
Lex carefully finished bandaging her arm and checked that the
scratches on her back had stopped bleeding. She'd done her bestby
not tugging on them too much, but she'd probably need stitches,
and soon. She slipped out of the bathroom and into the crowded
bedroom. Marcie glared at her before heading into the bathroom.
The family only took in kids for the money; they used most of it
on themselves, which accounted for the tattered clothing all the
kids were known for. She was slipping out the window when a car
pulled up to the back entrance in the alley. Something made her
pause and wait until the passenger was inside before heading
The driver watched her until she got to the end of the alley, at
which point she heard her foster mother yelling from the window.
"Lex! Get back here, you're wanted right now!" She flipped her
off before running down the street.
She made her way to the park and stopped just short of sliding
into the small ravine, she'd jumped it before and could do it
again, but it wasn't something she did very often. She was
debating the necessity of the jump when the car from the alley
pulled in to the park. She swore under her breath. She hadn't
done anything, why were they chasing her?