DISCLAIMER: 'A Hunter's Edge' is based on 'Hunter: the Reckoning' by White Wolf Publishing. 'Hunter: the Reckoning' and all related trademarks are copyright White Wolf Publishing, all rights reserved. Please visit http://www.white-wolf.com/ for more information.

NOTE ON FONTS: The font 'Crackhouse' is used in the work below and in later parts. It's a pretty great font if I do say so myself, and it really does make the story appear a great deal better :) Grab it at http://recknet.faithweb.com/resources.htm.


Chapter 1: The Drawing of the Four

     At 6:52 AM on October the 27th, four very special rays of sunlight began four very special journeys. Having been birthed tens of thousands of years before by the nuclear reactions in the center of the fiery star, that which would serve as the remainder of their lives would be but the blink of an eye by comparison.

     Following in the intrepid footsteps of the countless others that had come before, each ray burst forth into the cold darkness of Space at the incomprehensible speed of almost two hundred thousand miles per second. Against all odds, the direction each had chosen placed it on a direct collision course with a tiny, blue gem: that oasis of life in the blackness with which we are all so intimately familiar.



     The first of those rays of light breached Earth's atmosphere eight minutes later, cutting a narrow path over the distant horizon. Narrowly sideswiping a monolithic skyscraper, it approached a small student-owned housing development just off the University campus. There, its existence -- an existence that stretched over ten millennia and ninety-two million miles -- was savagely cut off by a drawn blind.

     As if to mourn the final seconds of this ray's life, a radio alarm clock in the room beyond flicked on to mark the turning of the hour.

     other, "What will I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be rich? Here's what she said too

     Seth and Ryan both exhibited separate signs of displeasure: Seth groaned audibly, lifting his hand to rub impotently at his closed eyes. Ryan, on the other hand, buried his face into the crook of Seth's arm, murmuring from the depths of sleep, railing against the impending need to awaken.

     oever will be, will be. The future's not ours to see, Que Sera, Seo

     Seth's outstretched arm, lifted over Ryan's head, shut the radio off and ended the ray of sunlight's brief eulogy.

     "Umph," Seth stated intelligently. "I hate that song. It's old," he added, as if that explained his taste in music.

     "Sleep," Ryan mumbled, his hand creeping over Seth's bare stomach -- where it drew dangerously close to awakening something that could only mean a skipped class. Or two. Or four.

     "No," Seth combated meekly, feebly batting his lover's hand away and rising to a seated position. He winced, for the action drew him in line with a shaft of sunlight pouring through a hole in the drawn blind. He glanced down, his eyes roving over his comatose boyfriend. He was possessed (as he so often was) by the obvious:

     Ryan was so damn cute when he was sleeping.

     They were both swimmers, and their bodies were reflective of the fitness required for such activity. Where Seth augmented his athleticism with weight training, Ryan had little interest. While Seth possessed a toned body (complete with a six-pack almost visible through tight clothing), Ryan was smoother, more natural, and Seth couldn't imagine having it any other way.

     Ryan was of mixed European heritage. His brown hair was slightly curly and required very little maintenance; Ryan tended to wear it however it air-dried after a shower. Combining a very soft dusting of freckles over his slender nose with the sort of stubble-beard that wouldn't grow to any volume even after weeks of foregoing a shave, Ryan looked a great deal younger than his 23 years: Seth always found himself impressed at how embarrassed the boy would get when he was carded before purchasing tickets for a Restricted movie.

     In sleep, Ryan's omnipresent smile was gone: His face was a relaxed, peaceful reflection of innocence that was so rarely realised when he was awake. Now, however, his lips were curling upwards and twin dimples blossomed on his cheeks. Even with his eyes closed, he knew exactly what Seth was up to.

     "What?" Ryan asked, shattering what vestiges of innocence remained with a full-fledged grin. He finally opened his eyes to confront Seth's scrutiny.

     "Oh, nothing. I was trying to think of something cleverly romantic to say, but nothing came to mind." Seth flashed him a quick, mischievous smile and stood. "You're not very inspiring."

     "Why are you running? Do you think your sorry excuses for baiting and prodding are going to be enough to get me up and to class on time?" Ryan clucked his tongue sorely, closing his eyes and rolling onto his back. "You'll have to do better than that."

     Seth hesitated, fearing some clever ploy on the part of his malevolent boyfriend. But Ryan seemed intent on returning to unconsciousness -- and when the smile faded and he took on the relaxed expression of deep sleep, Seth decided he'd best try one more time to set Ryan in motion.

     "I'm not your mother, you know," Seth lectured, poking Ryan's side with an extended finger. Ryan didn't move. "You know you neo"

     Ryan was too quick for him. Reaching forward and grabbing Seth around the waist, Ryan pulled Seth on top and rolled over, all in one quick motion that left Seth lying on his stomach with his hands trapped beneath and Ryan above him. "I need what, Mom?"

     "You do realise," Seth muttered from underneath, his words dampened by the pillow into which he was speaking, "that calling me `Mom' right now might mean hours of expensive therapy down the road?"

     Ryan paused as the full gravity of the situation sank in, before lifting himself up on his elbows. "Yeagh," he exclaimed. "You make an excellent point." Even so, as if to verify his mastery and avoidance of the potentially crippling visualization, Ryan ground his flaccid penis into the backside of poor, prone Seth. Seth, perhaps anticipating a long day of skipped classes and bedroom acrobatics, arched his back approvingly. "Mmm, no class it is."

     "No, no, you're right. We need to get going. Besides, we're meeting Heather for lunch and she'll kick both our asses if we even think of blowing her off to..." Ryan paused, appearing momentarily pensive. "Well, I'm sure you can pick out the double entendre for yourself." And with that, Ryan leapt to his feet and turned to the bedroom door, deftly avoiding a swipe and a groan from Seth.

     "I want you in the shower, babe."


*     *     *     *     *

     "So we're late. We're sorry." Ryan wore a pleading expression that could melt butter, but Heather was not impressed. Ryan laid it on even thicker than usual -- even Seth felt mollified, and he was only receiving the sideline of Ryan's penetrating dimples. "Really sorry?"

     "You're shameless. Both of you. Come on, then, I saved you a table." Heather continued, turning away from them and extending her arms in that `woe is me' stance for which she was so famous, leading the happy couple to the seats she'd so generously set aside. "I have no idea why," she added as an afterthought.

     Seth and Ryan had barely managed to get out of the shower before their 10:30 classes, and wouldn't have made it to them if it wasn't for their water heater (Ryan was convinced it was either possessed by a malevolent demon or abused as a baby water heater). Having no time to prepare a lunch, they were forced to wait in line, which is how they found themselves unintentionally standing Heather up.

     "So. I'm sitting alone looking like a social outcast because you two couldn't resist a shower-fuck?" A girl at a nearby table almost choked on her pizza. Her boyfriend nursed her back to health, shooting Heather a most unpleasant stare. "Remind me to wine and dine your water heater. At least it had the sense to stop spurtingo"

     "Heather, dear," Seth interrupt pleasantly, lifting two hands in a defensive plea for a respite from the woman's caustic conversation. "I think you've deeply offended that poor girl over there."

     "Yes, we almost had a death by pizza," added Ryan, who along with Seth had been casting apologetic stares toward the unfortunate couple. The girl was red from embarrassment, and her boyfriend had taken to ignoring them.

     "Fine. Rob me of my entertainment." Heather managed an expression of deep regret remarkably well, compounding it with a dejected slurp from the straw of her coke. Finally, she broke the silence with something that had been weighing heavily on the minds of all three of them for quite some time: "Ryan, have you spoken to your parents yet?"

     "Heather," Seth chastised quietly, his eyes flashing from her to his boyfriend.

     "No, Heather. I haven't. I still don't think they need to know. You know how they'd react, and I don't need to deal with that right now." Ryan held her in a level gaze, absently toying with his half-eaten burger. "I don't want to deal with that right now," he added.

     "They're going to find out," Heather warned in a tone that said `I've told you this before and you damn well know I'm right.' She met Ryan's gaze squarely, and Seth knew to keep his mouth shut. Ryan didn't need coddling and would probably resent his conversational interference. "It's only a matter of time. And it's going to be even worse if they figure it out for themselves."

     Ryan hesitated, even the fingers with which he was playing with his food slowing and stopping. "I know," he finally whispered, accepting defeat. "I just... I will. But not today."

     Heather matched Ryan's earlier hesitation, and then promptly reached across to Ryan's plate and snatched his lunch before he knew what was happening much less had time to react. "Mmmmmm," she noted after taking a very sloppy bite. "These hamburgers are good. The meat-to-tofu ratio has gone down, methinks."

     Seth snickered, and Ryan soon joined in. Heather's simple comedy had, once again, broken a building tension - at least for the time being.

     "So," Heather said after returning Ryan's hard-earned meal. "Did you get that loan thing figured out?"

     "Loan thing? Loan thing! Oh, shit." Ryan glanced down at his watch, then up at the distant wall-clock to verify. Sure enough, the big hand had just met the little hand, both pointing to the twelve. "Gotta go. We need to be there in fifteen minutes. Seth?" Ryan stood and leaned over his boyfriend, who was rather involved in stuffing his face full of hamburger.

     "Sweetie?" Ryan pecked him on the cheek.

     "Honey?" Another peck, this time on the opposite cheek.

     "Sugarplum?" He wrapped his arms around Seth, who had started laughing and was having a great deal of difficulty swallowing.

     "Love muffin?" Seth started coughing, but managed (somehow) to keep everything in. He swallowed.

     "Yes, I will give you a ride. A car ride," Seth clarified with a pointed look towards Heather.

     "Ah, young Jedi, your gag reflex is well practiced." That, as if it needs to be said, came from Heather. "And... damn," she concluded, missing the `ride' comment before Seth had a chance to clarify. "Too many opportunities. I can't field them all. I need another friend."

     "You? Friends? Please. We only stand you because... well, because..." Ryan glanced down. "Seth? Why do we stand her?"

     Seth merely shrugged, rising to his feet slowly under the weight of Ryan hugging him from behind. Needless to say, they were drawing a few unwanted looks.

     "Ugh, you two are so cute together it's nauseating. Please, take him to the bank before I lose my entirely-too-expensive lunch."

     "As you command, my Queen," Seth said with a wink and a smile, bowing as far as he could before turning around. "Shall we be off?" With a nod, the two turned towards the door.


     The second ray of sunlight found itself traversing a much easier path -- one set, perhaps, by Providence herself. A cloud pulled apart upon its approach, opening a small tunnel through which the ray uneventfully passed. Downward it soared, streaking through the tranquil stillness of a lazy suburb a few miles from the University. Skimming across the ground, it coursed through the bedroom window of Deborah and David Ross.

     It was seven o'clock in the morning.

     Deborah's alarm clock had failed.

     A light sleeper by nature, Deborah rose as that ray of light touched her eyelid, a pained expression of disbelief contorting her normally soft features into one of panic as she beheld the alarm clock.

     She had to shower, get four children out of bed, prepare five lunches, let out the dog, bring herself to some semblance of alertness with a few cups of coffee, prepare for work, gas up the car and make it to the office.

     And she had twenty minutes to work with.

     For a moment, Deborah simply sat at the end of her bed, a thin sliver of tempting rebellion making its way up her spine. She could call in sick. That would shave a few tasks off her itinerary. But she had a meeting and a presentation, and really couldn't miss either. She would be late; there was nothing she could do about that. But at least she could conjure up some acceptable excuse in the drive up.

     "Karen! Jamie! Ryan! Shawn! Get out of bed! We're running late!" Deborah's incensed yelling startled both the dog and her husband, David, lying asleep on the bed next to her. Ever since being wounded on the beat, David had been collecting disability and survived solely around the house. A welcome respite for Deborah: Now she only had half a million things to worry about each day.

     "KAREN!" Deborah, her slightly overweight body wrapped in a terrycloth house robe, banged loudly on her eldest daughter's door. A sleep-deprived moan from within, followed by a loud curse as she, too, became aware of the time.

     "JAMIE! SHAWN!" The two twins who shared a bedroom came next. No sound from within. Deborah repeated the banging, and finally a quiet `okay, Mom, we're up' could be heard through the door. Deborah wasted no time.


     Her youngest son would always be the baby of the family, and so she'd never find herself banging incessantly on his door as she would the older children. Having celebrated his sixth birthday only a few days before, Ryan was still acclimating to the whole `school thing,' as he called it.

     "Mommy?" The child was groggy from sleep, and just as reluctant to climb out of bed as another, older Ryan halfway across town. "Is it time for school now?"

     "Yes, honey. Come on. Can you do me a favour? Go ask Daddy to help you get dressed. I'm a little busy. I'll pack your lunch for you, okay?"

     "Can I have a pop tart? Jennifer had a pop tart yesterday and it was reo"

     "I'm sorry, Ryan, we don't have any. Maybe I'll pick some up this weekend, okay? Now, go to Daddy."

     Ryan hopped out of bed and padded into the master bedroom. Deborah heard his voice timidly reawakening his father, who in turn half-heartedly promised to fix Ryan up `in a few minutes'.

     `Ass', Deborah couldn't help but think to herself, something she immediately regretted. David had suffered greatly throughout the past year, first losing his job and then losing many of his acquaintances out of simple attrition. Deborah could forgive him a few minor indiscretions.

     Couldn't she?

     No time to think. So much to do.

     The sandwiches came next. Peanut butter and jam for Ryan -- his was easy. Then in was turkey with lettuce and mustard for Jamie, HOLD the pickles, and turkey with lettuce and mayonnaise for Shawn, EXTRA pickles. Karen, currently going through a body-conscious phase, would only eat salad: With lots of creamy Caesar dressing.

     Deborah would never understand her children, and she normally thought this with a smile. Today, however, there was no time for smiles.

     The sandwiches and salad done, Deborah swung into her bathroom -- where Shawn was showering, as the other showers were occupied. Deborah steeled her jaw, but in a sense deserved it -- she simply reminded herself that it was her fault, after all, that everyone was late.

     7:15 AM. Five minutes.

     Obviously, there would be no time for a shower. Extra deodorant would have to hold out. Fortunately she didn't plan to do anything too stressful today.

     Having gathered her papers and dressed herself, Deborah raced to the car and gunned the engine. A brief stop at the gas station, and she was on her way to work.

     The trip would take forty minutes, and she was to have been into work by seven thirty.

     The cellphone rang.

     "Mrs. Ross," she answered professionally, assuming it was someone from work calling to check up on her.

     "Debbie," a voice easily recognizable as David's said, "don't forget to ask about that second mortgage. And don't call them; it'll benefit us all if you give it that personal touch."

     "Yes, David. I'll swing by the bank at lunch time. Give them a call for me and let them know I'll be there around quarter after twelve?" Deborah narrowly avoided rear-ending the car in front of her as it slowed for a red light. Sure, she'd been tailgating. It didn't change the fact that she wanted to leap out of her automobile and strangle the other driver. She became vaguely aware of David answering her request. It sounded like an affirmative.

     "Thanks, David."

     "Okay, honey. I love you." David, suddenly, sounded almost helpless. She was reminded of the way he was when she first met.

     And then she remembered how much David had changed.

     "I'll see you tonight." And she hung up.

     Damn. She'd forgotten her coffee.


     Our third ray of sunlight's task was both arduous and treacherous. Locked in its course since its conception millennia ago, the beam was left to Fate's hands -- and Fate gave it a wild ride.

     Cresting the distant horizon a little later than its brethren (it found itself navigating through a dense pocket of solar gasses shortly after leaving the nest, as it were -- of course, `a little later' at light speed is very little time at all), it was almost obliterated by a faint tendril of cloud -- the same cloud that had so benevolently parted for a very different beam of light. Fortunately the cloud was feeble and the light prevailed...

     ... only to find itself hurtling through a busy street. After narrowly avoiding destruction at the hands of a speeding automobile, it arrived at its final resting place: the stained glass window of the First Baptist Church, where everything but green light was reflected or absorbed. The remaining green flickered through and fell upon the shoulders of Reverend Duncan Taylor.

     "And did the Lord God our Saviour smile kindly on the sodomites and the rapists and the murderers as they mocked Him?! As they thrust His name at their feet and ground it into the dirt?!" His speech was impassioned; he clutched a leather-bound bible in his hand and thrust it towards the ceiling as he would a weapon.

     "NO!" The congregation cried loudly, their rote responses shaking tiny motes of dust down from the rafters above. The flock more than made up for its small numbers with the sheer exuberance of their cheers.

     "Did the Lord God our Saviour plead with them?!"

     "NO!" Hands were lifted to the heavens, palms extended, as if to feel the warmth of the God they were being hand-fed.

     "Did He coddle them? Did He forgive their lechery and their trafficking with demons?!" Reverend Taylor was a rock in the storm, an impregnable pillar to which his congregation entrusted their immortal souls.

     "NO!" A woman near the front, overcome, collapsed onto the pew behind her. A man beside her bent down to fan air towards her face.

     "That's right; He did nothing of the sort! For the Lord God our Saviour is a vengeful God, and He destroyed Sodom! He rained fire and brimstone upon Gomorrah!"


     A climax of almost sexual intensity coursed through the congregation as Reverend Taylor dropped his hands, visibly exhausted. He raised a palm towards those gathered within the church, drawing energy from the impassioned crowd.

     "Remember, my brothers and sisters in Christ, the lesson we can learn from this story of righteous wrath." Reverend Taylor leaned forward, lifting his eyes once again to the heavens. "The Lord God our Saviour loves us dearly, but it is a jealous love. Do not listen to those heathens and those heretics that would have you believe He is a forgiving God, a passive God, a weak God: This is a lie, straight from the Prince of Lies, and is refuted by the Word!" Once more, heavy emphasis came with the Bible being lifted skyward.

     "Amen, Hallelujah," called out a few members of the congregation.

     "We are all Warriors of the Truth," Reverend Taylor called out. "We must be stalwart in the face of the demons and the devils and the tricksters and the liars." Each particular evil was punctuated with Reverend Taylor's fist slamming into the pulpit. "The feminists must not be allowed to corrupt the Word as set forth in the very Paradise of Eden! The baby killing doctors must not be permitted to violate the Commandments under the mantle of medicine! The homosexuals must be stopped from spreading their plague of hedonism and perversion to our impressionable children!"

     A stillness gripped the Church, a silence so loud it was deafening.

     "And it is only us," Reverend Taylor breathed softly, his whisper carrying to the very back rows, "who can prepare for the rapture. For everyone else has been swept up in the atheist values of our time. Satan is among us. I have seen his minions.

     "They. Are. Legion."

     Reverend Taylor paused for dramatic effect, every movement he made calculated for maximum response. Finally, he stepped back from the pulpit to a smattering of whispered `Amen's' as the cherubic boys choir sounded off the recessional hymn: `Glory, Glory'.

     The service was over. Reverend Taylor, as always, had been spectacular.


*     *     *     *     *

     In the sacristy after the service, Reverend Taylor waded through a gauntlet of congratulations on the way to his personal office in back. Clergy of lesser standing filed into the church to offer confession, a mandatory exercise for members of the First Baptist Church.

     Reverend Taylor, however, was done for the day. Well, the service, at the very least. He still had a number of protests and marches to organize before the sun set, but that could wait. Truth be told, he fully intended to read the entire Book of Daniel this afternoon -- a quiet day of reflection.

     Until, upon sitting down in his office, he noticed the charitable donations cheque sitting, plain as day, on his desk. Frowning with displeasure at the obvious interruption to his planned routine, Reverend Taylor said a brief prayer for mental fortitude and vowed to cash it immediately.

     Well, he reconsidered, pondering the Book of Daniel. Standing to lock the door to his office, he returned to his desk and received the rectangular bottle of Jack Daniel's from the bottom drawer of the cabinet.

     The trip to the bank could wait until lunch time.


     Our final solar traveller was beset neither by Providence's protection nor by Fate's fickle finger, its course abandoned by the Powers That Be. It faded without the fanfare of an old song, the acknowledgment of a sleeping woman or the decadent colorization of a stained glass window. It simply fell, through a clear sky to a mechanic's garage on a quiet street corner, where it streamed through an open window and onto the bleached-blond spiked hair of a young Irishman in his mid-twenties.

     It died with a whimper, but it, perhaps, illuminated the most important of the Four.

     Patrick O'Reilly had had very few successes in life and seemed destined for very few more. He did what he had to do, and did it with perseverance and drive.

     Patrick O'Reilly was a survivor.

     "I am going to make this clear one final time. I get fifty. You and Jake each get twenty. Ten goes to our friend inside. It's simple." Patrick's words were even, monotonous, unthreatening. The gun he held to the other man's head, on the other hand, was somewhat less unthreatening.

     Meeting Patrick's eyes with the steely resolve of a man who'd been at the wrong end of a gun in the past, Evan continued. "You were gonna' get fifty `cause you were gonna' do all the work. You didn't do all the work. We had to get the suo" Evan clapped his mouth shut as his head tilted backwards under the force of the gun suddenly pressed tightly against his forehead.

     The look on Patrick's face told Evan all he needed to know.

     "I paid you handsomely for the additional weapons," Patrick responded softly, as if humouring a child with an explanation of why he was being sent to his room, "and as I understood it at the time, the deal stood." He cocked the gun with his thumb. "Am I to understand you're no longer happy with our arrangement?"

     Evan set his jaw. He said nothing. Patrick waited.

     "Good," Patrick concluded, uncocking the weapon and pulling it from Evan's forehead. Despite all of his efforts not to, Evan released a relieved gasp of air. "Because even though I'd be pulling in more money with just the two of us -- even with the requisite cleaning bill, I'd still appreciate the additional security." Patrick shot Evan a half-smile, extending him an invitation to share the mirth. Evan respectfully declined by casting his eyes downward.

     "Jake," Patrick said, turning to the third member of their happy trio, "would you load the equipment into the van with Evan's help? Or, perhaps, you'd prefer I'd do it all myself -- avoiding reviewing our plan one final time for errors -- in the interests of appropriately dividing the workload?

     "Or perhaps you'd like to finalize plans yourself?" Patrick took a few steps towards Jake, the gun still clutched in his right hand. "I mean," he cocked his head, his expression both condescending and sarcastic, "I'm sure you possess the necessary intellectual faculties for such an endeavour? Imagine the responsibility: ensuring the three of us aren't killed or forced to spend the remainder of our lives receiving HIV booster shots from our love-starved cellmates?"

     Jake was the first to shake his head. "No, Boss," he added, evidently enjoying the cliched Mafia underling shtick he'd adopted early on, "I wasn't involved in this. Honest." He even went so far as to lift his hands defensively. Patrick was possessed with the almost irresistible urge to have him kneel on the ground, execution style, just like in Fight Club.

     Nah, he quickly amended. The poor kid'd likely shit his pants.

     And security would look suspiciously upon soiled slacks.

     "So get the shit in the fucking van," Patrick growled, jamming the weapon into the belt at the back of his pants as he turned towards the garage. He stopped in front of a table strewn with blueprints and notes.

     The plan was simple. The job would be done during the security shift change. Electronic surveillance and alarm systems had been taken care of by an insider they'd managed to bribe -- an insider with some very specific information on exactly how to overcome some important obstacles.

     Assuming, of course, that the incompetent underlings his own Boss had set him up with weren't destined to fuck things up as utterly and as completely as they always seemed to do in the movies.

     Maybe you should fuck up. Maybe then they'll let you out, maybe then you'll be able to live a normal life. Maybe then you'll get that adoring wife, that three-bedroom house, get an education, a job, three fucking great little children, win the lottery and live to a hundred.

     Patrick quickly shut that line of thinking off -- sure, he wanted out, but only in that apathetic, back-of-your-mind way that everyone wanted out. Even if he wasn't completely happy, you just didn't get up and leave. Well, there was one way out, but Patrick didn't intend to face that for quite some time.

     After all, he was a survivor.

     He told himself all that a few more times until he was convinced that yes, he actually did believe every word.

     He glanced at the clock. It read 7:40 AM, and they needed a good four hours to reach their destination and fully prepare.

     Patrick rolled up the materials and carried them to the back of the van where they were loaded along with weapons, masks and enough illegal equipment to have all three of them jailed for a very, very long time.

     Turning to his acquaintances, Patrick allowed a rare full-smile to touch his eyes. "Alright, gentlemen.

     "Let's rob a bank."

     And Darkness.

     Perhaps, had Destiny met with Providence and Fate, they would have followed a different path and a fifth ray of sunlight would have followed a fifth very important journey. Whatever ray this would have been, however, passed away without comment, without reflection as so many had before, oblivious to a destiny it came so close to realising.

     A young woman, no more than eighteen years of age, sat quietly in the front seat of a poorly-kept Toyota. She had been there for hours, having arrived sometime early the previous evening.

     She didn't move. She didn't blink. And, perhaps most telling, she didn't breathe.

     And when those four very special rays of sunlight finished their four very special journeys, the branch of a nearby tree cast a shadow on this young woman's face.

     She, too, would wait until lunchtime. She, too, had an appointment at the bank.

     A gay college student weathering the trials of the world, happily in love yet still buried in The Closet to a family he secretly resented.

     A harried housewife, drowning her regrets and her sorrows in errands and chores and Purpose, constantly warring against the realisation of her unhappiness and a desire to end her marriage.

     An obsessed Baptist minister, blinded by his quest for a false God, finding solace in the adoration of his flock, drowning his self-doubt in a very different kind of spirit.

     A practiced criminal, plotting the heist of his lifetime, maintaining a facade of contentment while secretly searching for a way out. Any way out.

     And something else, driving a rusted Toyota. Someone whose entire identity was a secret.

     Five strangers whose fates are inextricably intertwined.

     Five strangers with five secrets.

     Five strangers blissfully unaware of the changes to come.

. . . To Be Continued in 'Chapter 2: A Day at the Bank'

Chapters to come:

     Chapter 3: Normal Again?

     Chapter 4: Villains

     Chapter 5: Greetings and Salutations

     And more. . .

Firstly, I must offer my thanks to the male half of the writing duo NorthLight, responsible for 'A Ring for Rainleaf' buried in the depths of the Science Fiction/Fantasy section of Nifty for helping me edit this latest chapter. His help is much appreciated :)

I can only hope you enjoyed the first chapter of 'A Hunter's Edge' as much as the email I received indicated you enjoyed the Prologue :). Thank you to all who emailed me, and I absolutely love receiving email. Truth be told, the idea of getting emailed praise is sometimes enough to yank me out of writer's block, so if you're liking this story PLEASE email me at huntersedge@hotmail.com - I respond to every email I receive. If you aren't enjoying the story, please let me know why - I can take anything from flames to constructive criticism.

Now, I have to apologize because it seems I lied to you all. I promised sex in this chapter. I know a lot of people write for Nifty and don't include sex, but I damn well know that when I read a good story, I want some sex in it. Unfortunately, though I love reading sex scenes, I'm incompetent at writing them. I tried and tried and each time was more embarassingly bad than the time before. So, I'm begging you writers out there - if you're somewhat skilled at writing those erotic scenes we all know and love, please send me an email. I'll likely send you a brief 'scene set-up' and give you free reign of the scene, with a few brief edits once you're done and it'll be inserted into the story. Keep in mind that I'm not throwing sex into this story just to be gratuitous; I think it's somewhat necessary to help in sympathizing with characters I'm endeavouring to make human - especially when I start throwing them into mortal danger in the next chapter and the ones beyond.

So I've rambled on quite a bit. I realise I'm stringing you all along with the constant stream of mysteries and vague hints, but a few questions should be answered next chapter.

Once again, thank you all for emailing me - it is greatly appreciated.

- Witness1