Description: One night in Mexico, a werewolf meets with a luchadore. There, they discuss the nature of Le Santa Muerte, and what that means for La Huesuda. An invitation is given, and the potential darkness on the horizon begins to get forces arrayed against it.
It is nighttime in Mexico City, the midnight hour is at hand. It is an old city, and in some areas a dangerous one. Enough so that the masked wrestler slash monster hunter known as La Huesuda is kept busy with her dayjob - that of a mortician working in a funeral home. The home is in a middle class commercial area and is owned by the Gallardo family, of whom Huesuda apprenticed under the watchful eye of Jorge Gallardo. Normally, she worked the day shift, leaving the evenings open to her wrestling career or her occasional hunt. Tonight, however, the home was having a backlog of corpses to prepare for the next week. With one of the other morticians having called in sick, it was left to her to pick up the slack.
Huesuda is not wearing her mask, her face; rather, she has on her scrubs with a labcoat over it, her face concealed by a surgical mask and a scrub cap. The body in question was killed in a shooting, so she had her work cut out for her. She didn't mind, as preparing bodies for funerals gave her a sense of duty to others, and a duty to her patron saint. She is currently fixated on bringing color back into the face of the deceased, as the family wanted an open casket. Luckily, this time, the head was intact enough for it.
She is also working alone tonight under the flourescent lights, and those wishing to visit may be able to find her scent easily enough.
Japan, Europe, back to the Americas. A world seeing shifts. A world that has forced Gallon out into it to begrudgingly take sight of these changes. One where he has found himself confronting those who could most impact and be impacted by these changes. He had last run into a German scientist, a member of the nobility, and it frustrated him to no end. A werewolf, not terribly dissimilar from himself, a man of change and one that has refused to confront it.
Gallon needed a reprieve. And so he journeyed onward. He had been through Metro. He had passed Illyria and Italy. He had seen the Japanese tower. He had fought there. Now, he was in Mexico; the last site of recent events. The last investigation. But here he knew he was not alone.
The wrestler. The young woman with her aims to hunt Darkstalkers. Gallon knew that she was here. He could feel the presence. He could smell her. It was only time that kept him from his quarry. Time and the need to skulk. Roof tops, shadowed areas, the wolf moved with the wind and kept out of sight. Even as he slinks through the home owned by the mortician. He is low, stepping softly and stalking as he lingers.
A deep growl holds at his throat when he sees her. She isn't in the uniform that she was before, and the scent of death and chemicals is strong here, but his senses aren't those of a normal wolf. But here, he stops, and he watches. This is her place, and it is her at her practice. As much as he has been disturbed, he will not go out of his way to disturb others.
The man on the slab looks to have been young, tattoos on his body; he may have gotten into the wrong kind of trouble that led to his death. She meticulously touches up his face, eliminating the bloodless pallor from it and giving injections of formaldehyde and other chemicals to reduce the sagging of flesh against bone. She hums to herself as she works, proceeding to touch up a bullet wound near the deceased's neck.
It is then that she detects she is not alone.
She doesn't act at first, waiting to see if it's one of her coworkers coming in late. She determines it isn't, so she reaches down to grab a scalpel, suddenly whirling around and brandishing it upraised like a knife, grabbing a second with her other hand as her eyes flare. It takes a moment before she registers the shape of the beast in the shadows as one she has met before in Japan. "...it's you," she says, in her low, somber tone. "Gallon, yes?"
"You remember me," he says. His voice low, rough, still strongly English. He edges into the light, the florescent glow brightens the palatte of his fur. Still, he remains out of the woman's way. She is working, after all. She has her rituals to attend to.
He takes in the scent and the scene. His nostrils twitch and his eyes settle on the corpse on Huesuda's table. He inclines his head, considering, before deciding something internally and once again settling his attention on the woman. "You surround yourself in death," he states. "How many have you seen come through here sent by a Darkstalker?"
Huesuda puts the scalpel down and relaxes, though she doesn't take off her mask or cap; she is not yet ready to reveal her face to Gallon, not yet. "I do. I have been meaning to seek you out again, for training. I feel it's the right time. I didn't expect you to show up to my workplace." Then again, she isn't surprised that a wolf would be able to find her, with those senses.
She continues her work on the body, pausing when he asks his question. "I have contacts at the city morgue. They tell me that sometimes they will get bodies who died under mysterious circumstances. Drained of blood, or torn apart by animals, or the like. Many times these cases will go unsolved. So they do their autopsies, and send them to me, so I may prepare them for the families. Sometimes, there is no option but closed casket or cremation."
"I had not expected to seek you out," Gallon confirms. He remains out of the way, distant from the working woman and the corpse. The stench of the chemicals hits his senses hard and he does not care to get any closer than he already is. "Here, in Mexico, is the last of what I sought out. Rumors of powers here, sighting of gods not long ago. A cult of the sun."
His features do not bely much emotion, though his eyes close and his ears fall when he shakes his head slowly. "And what then do you do? Seek retribution? Hunt?" he questions, calling to mind his earlier comparisons to his own lupine nature.
"I do," She answers, and starts finishing up her work, gently covering the body with the sheet on top of it then going to clean and sterilize her tools. "It's a rare thing, it's not like I am battling creatures of the night 24/7; I am still at heart a warrior for the ring. But I still hunt." She notices his discomfort with the room. "Sorry, I forgot you have a sensitive nose. You get used to the smells in here."
Gallon waves off the offense to his senses. "It is mine to overcome," he says, "It does me nothing if I cannot tolerate my own senses. It is a challenge." The state of his body, the power of his senses, it is a weakness as well and Jon Talbain abhorred a weakness. If anything, this potential student has offered a challenge he had not expected.
He steps into the room. Standing, it's more clear that for his bestial nature, he was not a behemoth. Rather limber, and not terribly tall, the leanness of his build is evident in the stark lighting. "Why do you fight for them? For their entertainment?" he asks. He himself has been forced into fighting. And it has struck him how many are doing such a thing for others. And he wants to see what others see in it.
Huesuda turns to face the werewolf, and for the first time, sees him in full lighting rather than in the darkness of the forest or from the shadows. To a small human like her, he is still an impressive display of bestial might. It is enough to set her slightly on edge, but this passes the more they chat. "I do not do this because I am forced to. It's...hard to describe. You are there, under the lights, throngs of people staring at you as you make your way to the ring. Some adore you; some want to see you fail. Either way, the intensity, the promise of glory, the heartbeat in your chest as the energy in the air permeates you...there is nothing like it."
She hasn't spoken this much about her lucha life to anyone for some time. "I fight to show the world my patron saint is not the work of some nefarious cult; I fight to be a role model to those who are...different. To children, young girls especially, who can look to the fighting arena and see me as someone they can relate to." Her last bout occurs and she chuckles, a deep pleasant one. "I fought a huge wrestler from..Sweden, I think. Named Sven. Used the wolf as his motif. I wonder how he would react to see YOU."
"I was forced from my home, by a hunter like yourself. She burned me from where I had been for years." Gallon skirts some of the later times he had seen Bulleta, the girl that refers to him as Sifu in a way that he only thinks as partially insulting. "And hounded in France to combat a madman."
He lingers on the words, but he shakes his head. "Perhaps it for the best. It has shown me I have erred in isolation. Atrophied. I was not as strong as I had considered. Perhaps your drive shows a stronger spirit than my own."
He turns from her, now looking over the morgue. He sniffs, and he listens, and he just takes in what he sees. "Your patron. Tell me about them."
Huesuda shakes her head. "I am sorry," she says when Gallon reveals the fate of his old home. When asked about her patron saint, her eyes seem to light up from their usual dull grayness. "Santa Muerte...she would be considered a folk saint, as the Catholic Church would never canonize her. She goes by many names; La Flaquita, La Dama Ponderosa, Senora de las Sombras..."
She walks over to a small wooden cabinet that seems incongruous with the sterile clinical cabinets and furnishings of the morgue. She takes a key and opens it, revealing a shrine with candles and flowers, with a grim reaper figure in the center. "Her followers number in the millions, and worship of her has dated back hundreds of years. Just not as...overt, as it is today. She is popular among social outcasts and those that work in the night. It does not matter if you are a cop or a criminal, soldier or civilian, gay or straight...she welcomes all. Shrines like this can be found all over. See the robe color?" She points to the figure's white robe. "White symbolizes purity, cleansing of negative influence. I thought it most appropriate for this place. As we die, we don't want the baggage we had in life to come with us, yes?"
"Do not apologize." The words come as a snarl. "It was weakness to hide away as I did. Weakness that poisoned my own abilities, and my own desires to restore my humanity." He turns and stalks closer to Huesada. "And in turn to discover the weakness of my desires."
He twists, dashes, moving fluidly toward the cabinet. Close to the figure. "And what is she to Darkstalkers?" he asks, turning away from the symbol. "What is her equality toward them?" he twists, nose going upward, sniffing at the air. "Finish your tasks here. And find your face. You can meet me outside."
"Her embrace does not exclude anyone, even Darkstalkers," Huesuda insists, narrowing her eyes. "We all die."
At the mention of her face, she nods, and continues her cleanup. Not too long after, she has changed into her wrestling outfit and her finely detailed signature skull mask, her gray eyes shining from the sockets. She steps into the warm night of Mexico City, adjusting her left glove. "So. Anything special for me tonight?" she asks.
We all die.
Jon Talbain stands in the moonlight. The air is warm. The ragged tips of his fur waver in the wind. He looks upwards toward a night's sky. He thinks about those words while he waits for the woman to arrive. And he thinks about how she will take his.
He is not surprised with what he sees.
"What is death?" he asks. He holds an arm out. He rakes it with its opposite. Blood marrs his fur. Blood drips to the ground. And then it stops. And then it's healed. "Is it this body, with its gifts? Am I not dead until it decides?" he asks the air, La Huesuda, Santa Muerte, himself all in a moment. "Or did Jon Talbain die alongside his master when he tore the throats of murderers?"
His eyes glow yellow. That glow turns and burns like an ember in the dark. It glows as he turns it on the woman in the mask. "Does you patron have answers?"
La Huesuda looks on as the werewolf shows off his regenerative capabilities, stands passively as he asks her questions. Her expression remains unreadable, her eyes merely staring impassively. "I can only speak for myself," she answers. "But I know that when I was dying, when I was bleeding out because of some senseless, random attack, when in desperation I asked for salvation...She was there. She gave me a second chance. A chance I use to face evil and hold it back with my bare hands."
She tightens her fists as her ki aura materializes, shadowy dark purple tendrils rising from her body. A faintly glowing violent outline is also present on this aura. "If you want answers from my patron, that is between you and Her, if you take that path. Me? I wouldn't worry about death. I would worry about what I'm living for."
He also gave her his name.
Her resolve is clear. He can respect that spirit. She is unreadable, but Gallon looks to reading her actions as he considers this existence in the night. And her own answers to her own hypothetical. His gaze turns from La Huesuda. "Do you not worry about death?"
He exhales deeply, rumbling comes from his chest. "I believe there will be an invasion, likely in Southtown. I ran afoul of a summoner. He was bringing in insectile creatures. I believe the Makai."
"...sometimes. I think everyone does. But I know that ultimately, death is a friend, not an enemy to be feared, and that is enough for me," Huesuda answers. She crosses her arms when her introspective new acquaintance reveals some new information. "Hmm. Sounds like a problem. Good thing I am a problem solver. You can count on me to support; do you know the name of this summoner?"
"I do not, only his scent."
Gallon crosses his arms and for a moment he is silent and thoughtful. "There are others. One is a girl among the fighting circuit, she goes by Hood. If you seek her out, you will find an ally in your hunt. She is dangerous, but she could use kindness."
He looks toward the morgue to acknowledge it. "What you do for those already dead, who cannot repay you, is sign enough of your kindness. I think you would do her well." He looks down to his claws. He thinks back to that burning forest. To her open throat. She had the strength to push past so much, but not everything.
He looks back to her. "I do not know the name of the summoner, but I believe he is in concert with Jedah Dohma and the spire in Southtown."
"Then I'll track down this Hood," Huesuda replies. She glances back to the morgue briefly. "A tough one, is she? I'll do my best." Then Jedah's name is mentioned and she looks back at Gallon. "Jedah Dohma? That's bad news. Real bad news. I saw firsthand the aftermath of that village in Italy."
"Metro City as well."
He turns back around toward La Huesuda. "So I ask you again if you fear death, or possibly worse."
"No," Huesuda replies, firmly. "Whatever is in store for me, I will face it. Nothing you say could stop me otherwise."
A deep nod from the wolf. And slowly, his eyes turn to the darkest corners of the streets of Mexico City. "Good." He tells her, "When next I find you, be prepared; it will be a test to see how far your abilities have come."
Long, loping steps take him away. But he pauses to look back. But says nothing before he is gone on the wind. Only a distant, bleeding bay to the moon in his wake.
"Hmm. Next time, I should grab him some street food," Huesuda says to herself, pausing to listen to the howl. She wordlessly went back into the funeral home, to change out and return home for some well deserved rest.
Log created on 10:57:04 02/15/2020 by Gallon, and last modified on 17:04:43 02/18/2020.