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Heart of Sin
Enrique woke up feeling sore. Mercedes kept coming back. Not that he minded. She was quite fun, but the constant activity was taking it's toll. The hunt a couple of days ago hadn't helped either. He stood up and stretched, Mercedes had already left for work. She had woken him up to say goodbye. He still wasn't sure what they had. Both of them seemed content to keep their relationship undefined.

He walked downstairs in his boxers. There really was no reason to get dressed. He opened his fridge looking for a drink, preferably something with caffeine. He could have coffee, but wasn't in the mood. He wanted a Coke. Unfortunately, he was out.

So he went to his bar, grabbed a glass and filled it. It was mid-morning, so the bar wasn't open. He sipped his Coke and checked his mail. There was nothing but bills in the bar's mailbox, but in the Atharim mailbox - one he kept for Atharim correspondence - he found a single letter.

Ricky open the letter and read it, leaning on the bar. His eyes grew wide as he did. There was no way. They were small now - one that size couldn't exist anymore. Usually they were more like exterminations rather than hunts.

Ricky smiled. This would be a unique challenge. Jacinda was still around too and would probably enjoy it as well. He went downstairs and knocked on her door without realizing that he hadn't even gotten dressed yet.
Jacinda'd enjoyed the last few days relaxing here in Mexico. Well, what she thought was relaxing. Dancing, drinking, eating good food, a nice piece of arm candy to spend the night with. And a fight or two. What with this Oakland guy rousing the people against the cartels, things could kinda get rough, especially in certain neighborhoods at night.

She'd gone out a few times looking for a little fun- and she'd found it alright. Couple punks saw her out on the street and tried to rush her into an alley. She let them think they got the pump on her, pulling her into the alley. And then she proceeded to hand them their asses. When she left they were laid out neatly on the ground.

She had an idea of what they had wanted to do and how they would have left her when they were through. Turn about was fair play, after all. Not that she'd slit their throats or anything. Doing that to someone who was out wasn't her style.

Instead, she removed their clothes and shoes- not being gentle over bruises and broken bones. One of them moaned as if he was waking and she punched him in the nose hard and his head bounced off the concrete. She blood fountained. Definitely looked broken too. She took the clothes with her to a garbage behind a carniceria that was filled with some really ripe stuff and dropped everything in.

She wasn't going to kill them. But they were pretty helpless now, laid out as they were. If someone wanted to finish the job, they were welcome to it. She'd gotten her rush anyway and made her way back to Ricky's place. It wasn't long before she found herself a little party of her own, a bottle of tequila and a cute couple who lived nearby. After all, she wasn't gonna take them into the safe house or nothin.

She was sleeping it off when she heard a knock on the door. The cool and quiet of the room was helping with her had. Damn that Ricky! She just wanted to sleep. She opened one eye, thankful it was dark. She didn't want to get up from the soft couch. "What!?"
she called out and then winced at the pain. Damn! She hoped he'd heard her and came in. She wasn't gonna do that again.
Ricky opened the door at her "What!?"
It sounded like an invitation to him. The room was dark. It was 10:00 AM - there was only one reason why she wouldn't be awake at this time and Ricky got a wicked grin on his face and turned the dimmer switch up all the way.

A cushion bounced off his face as he heard "The hell do you think you're doing?!? Turn the light off moron!"

Ricky let out a brief chuckle and turned the dimmer switch back low so she could at least read the letter.. "You Americans can't hold your tequila."
He tossed the letter to Jacinda. "Something you might be interested in. I'll get the coffee going."

She took the letter and moved so she was more sitting up with a sigh. Absently she said "Kiddo, I was puttin' bottles away before you were born. One of these nights we're gonna have to have drinking contest, skippy. I'll make sure you're wearing your diaper before I tuck you in for the night."
She was smiling as she said it, skim reading the letter too. She looked up at him when done, interest on her face. "Now this looks like fun. I'm in. Give me a couple hours though."
She settled back into the couch. "Turn out the light completely when you leave."
she said in a muffled voice.

Ricky expected nothing less than what she said, but he started some coffee as she spoke - real Colombian stuff - none of the weak instant stuff. He ground the beans quietly and brewed it. He poured her a cup and a glass of water and set it on the table.

"I look forward to our contest - and you can tuck me in any night - you just have to ask. If I'm not in the bar when you're ready, just come on into my place. I'll be there."
He gave her a grin and turned the light off as he went to his apartment to check out his equipment.

It was handled with care. He made sure the revolvers were cleaned and that everything was functioning properly. He did the same with his .45. His blade was sharp, although he doubted he would be using it. After checking his equipment, he showered and got dressed, picking purely functional clothing.

He decided to prepare while he waited. He had learned something from Jacinda at least - that preparation was important. He pulled out his map and looked at the likely places their quarry would hide. It had been feeding a lot to get that size. That limited the places it would show up. Ricky marked them on the map and continued thinking as he waited.

((With Jacinda))

Edited by Enrique, Nov 19 2014, 04:49 PM.
Jacinda had slept soundly and gradually came to consciousness, the cool of the basement and the warmth of the blanket and cushions making a cocoon that she luxuriated in. She could almost feel the stillness of the place in the air. She wasn't sure what time it was but she felt a lot better. Last night had been quite the evening.

The coffee cup on the table next to her was cool to the touch. She stretched and cracked her neck before getting up and making her way to the bathroom to get ready for the day.

Dressed, she made her way up stairs and saw that the cantina was open but sparsely populated. She saw Ricky at a booth looking at maps and she went over to him, waiving a server to her.

"What's up Ricky?"
she said while shifting some of the maps around so she'd have place for her food. When he came to her, she ordered some huevos rancheros and a fresh cup of coffee. She was hungry and this was going to be a busy day. She needed to eat well now.

They could get down to planning the hunt while she ate. This one was gonna be fun. She'd only bagged a few in her time. There were some...things they were going to have to be ready for.
Ricky kept working quietly at a booth while he waited for Jacinda to awake from her coma. The letter was vague on where the creature was holed up, so he focused primarily on likely locations. Miguel kept his glass filled with Coke for which Ricky was thankful. He was just in a Coke mood lately.

Jacinda came up the steps and surprisingly looked no worse for wear. He still laughed at her hangover though. She seemed mighty chipper despite her adventures last night. She approached his table with a "What's up Ricky?"
and ordered some brunch.

He smiled at her. "While you were comatose, I found some likely feeding spots for our friend. It should narrow down the areas in which we will have to search. The letter was vague on where it's hiding."

He pointed to a brothel and grinned. "I think that's the best place to start looking."

Not that he visited such places. He really didn't need to. The truth is though, he wasn't 100% sure on anything. "I've never fought one of this stature before. Any advice or thoughts?"
She finished eating while he spoke. The food was good and fresh. She had to give to him, he ran a good place. All the more impressive since it was just a cover.

She looked over the reports and the locations of the bodies. While not all in one place, there was sufficient overlap to make his assessment a good one. That and the fact that a brothel would especially attract a quetzal, though not for the reasons Ricky might guess. There were many flavors of 'sin'- she laughed at the word but the lore was the lore. And while the Queztal was many times associated with things of a sexual nature, the whores at the brothels were usually not the ones who 'smelled' the most appealing to the creatures. After all, most of them had been forced into it as part of a human traffiking ring.

"Not bad Ricky. Not bad at all."

To his asking of advice, she smiled. "You Catholic? You might wan't to go to confession. Do some Hail Mary's."
She was only partly joking. In her experience, a person who had genuinely tried to make amends for wrongs were less of a target for Queztals.

Course, she would do no such thing. She didn't believe in any of that stuff. Well, she did sort of believe in god, but more as the collective expression of the human race and its will. This was a war between the human race as a whole and these dark creatures. The species as a whole, in the battle for survival, was constantly adapting and honing its abilities against these enemies. They might form some sort of emergent super intelligent organism, just as each brain cell was a single entity and yet together produced a higher level of intelligence.

Maybe. She didn't know. Bottom line was, god, if there was a god, was all of humanity together. And she was its weapon, tempered and sharpened by decades of experience.

In her mind, she was not only sinless, but her battle was holy, righteous. Others might take issue with the things she'd had to do in that work, but that was their problem. She knew where she stood.

At his look she elaborated. "They smell sin, it draws them. It can help you be less of a target if you feel cleansed."
She smiled wickedly, then laughed a bit."Besides, I have a few ideas about what we can do to draw its attention away from us. Give it something else to focus on for a while."
Might even have a little fun. She looked at the maps. "Tell me more about this place."
Ricky nodded at her. A confession might not be a bad idea. It had been a long time since he had one. He began to think about all the things he had to confess. There was that one time...and then that...and can't forget that one. It was hard to keep track of after he got done with the past week.

He told her what he knew of the brothel, which wasn't much. He wasn't a patron. "Not much. It's in Nuevo Leon territory though. Might have to deal with some thugs, and unless we want to draw El Sanguinario's attention, we should be careful of what we ask."
There was no fear in his voice as he said it. It just wouldn't be prudent to have to deal with one of the area's biggest crime lords at this time.

"There are some caves nearby that it could hide in."
Ricky checked the clock. "Shall we discuss the rest of this on the way. My confession isn't going to be short."
He said it with a slight smile as Miguel poured him another Coke.
Jacinda let Ricky drive to the church. It was his city, after all. It wasn't really cold despite being January- this far south near the equator probably had something to do with that, she thought wryly- and the windows were down, the wind in her hair and masking some of Ricky's casual conversation.

Not that she minded him talking. But evidently Ricky liked going a church that was pretty out of the way. They were not in the touristy- not that tourism had been great in Mexico in recent years, of course- and she saw more of the squalor and poverty that cartel's growth had brought.

She shook her head. Too bad, really. Some of the cartel leaders were pretty unsavory folks. If she had an opportunity and didn't have to go out of her way, she wouldn't mind taking one of them out. Then again, that would just mean another guy would take his place- after a war for control. It was messed up but what could you do?

Besides, she was in a war with far darker things. As bad as the cartel guys were, draikana or rakshasa were far worse. Still....they were going to a brothel. She might have a little fun. Put some human scum down. It wouldn't be wrong. Nope. Wouldn't bother her one bit. She smiled. Not all of them though. They still needed something to attract the queztal, if there was one.

"Jeez skippy. Where's the church of yours?"
As if in answer, he smiled and nodded as they came to a stop. She followed his gaze and saw just some rinky dink little church. "Seriously?"
Ricky smiled as she asked about the location of the church. Yeah it was small, but it was a beautiful building and was well kept. A nice garden was on the east side of the building and the air smelled fresh and clean. The people were very nice too.

Ricky didn't come much anymore, but occasionally he found himself within it's walls for Mass. Maybe he would invite Jacinda to come with him this weekend, but he doubted she would. She didn't seem the churchy type.

"You're welcome to come in if you would like."
he said sincerely. It didn't matter to him, and again, the architecture was nice.

He entered the church and crossed himself from the holy water at the entrance and knelt to pray before entering the confessional. He went through confession as he knew how. It was hard to admit all of his sins, especially those that he had committed multiple times, but he made it through. The priest offered his penance, which he followed as soon as he left - typical say so many "Hail Marys" and "Our Fathers" while reflecting on God's mercy. He did so, and it took maybe a half hour for the whole thing.

Ricky left and Jacinda was waiting for him patiently or impatiently. He really couldn't tell with her. "There! All pure and clean. Ready to go?"

Ricky entered the SUV and drove to the brothel. They would go from there.
She gave him a firm stare. "You just be sure to believe that, Ricky. I mean to your core."
She touched her heart. "Luckily, if you're right about the location of most of its vics, it'll have more tempting prey."

Ricky started the vehicle up and they went on their way to one of the districts near the edge of the city. The area was Nuevo Leon territory and you definitely could see the difference. While it wasn't any cleaner or safer appearing, there were less people out.

They passed numerous men in guns and he amended her thought. Less regular people this is. The men were hard eyed and held their weapons competently.

Made sense. Cartel wars would do that. Weed out anyone who wasn't keen on living, quick on the draw, and mean enough to do what they had to to make money. In some ways she understood it. But what she did wasn't merely to enrich herself- as if! Nah. This was humanity's war and she was a soldier. That made all the difference in the world.

The men looked them over as they drove and they were stopped a few times. Ricky was good with their cover though- an adventurous couple out heading to the brothel in order to have a 'party' with a few of the girls- and was generous with the bribes. Though there were a couple times when she was looked over like maybe the men wanted to join in the party, and she kept a her arms and hands free so she could get to her hidden gun if she needed to.

That was all they needed. She wasn't worried about these guys, not really. But her blowing their heads or sacks off would bring every other asshole in the area to their location and would blow their hunt. That would piss her off.

Finally, they made it through and pulled up to what had to be the place. It looked like an old walled villa that used to have a nice view of the country side off in the distance, where Ricky said the caves were. Surprisingly, it was well cared for, though, and the grounds were manicured. Pretty on the outside. For the most part.

They got out and she stood there, looking around, trying to get a feel for the place. Next to the villa looked like a cantina. Other buildings housing businesses and homes filled out the rest of the area.

There were a couple men outside the doors of the place. It was still light out and they needed more intel. Talk to a few of the locals. "What's say we hit up the cantina? See what we see?"

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