“Someone find me a chicken!” Cat called loudly as she swept the junk from the top of a work bench with a sweep of her arm.
“A chicken?” Sam muttered quietly, “I thought we were going after Rincon not starting cookery classes.
“You heard, Señora Catalina,” Omar turned to his men, “find her a chicken…NOW!” Two or three gangbangers detached themselves from the group and headed on out the door. “The rest of you watch the street…move it!”
The bangers not on chicken quest grabbed their guns and headed outside to watch the street.
Standing near Cat, Faith watched as her partner cleaned the scratched metal surface of the work bench, fear of what might be happening to her little girl was making it hard for her to think. Knowing that she’d need a clear head if she wanted to save her daughter and her daughter’s friend, she tried some of the calming techniques Cat had taught her over the years. A deep breath and the realisation that two young lives depended on her made Faith start to think logically and calmly. If she went rushing in, Vega might get lucky and kill her then her little girl would most definitely die…but…
But of course there was Cat, Cat wouldn’t let anything happen to the girls not if she could find some way of preventing it. Cat was a powerful Burja, nothing could stop her, but there was no need for Cat to use her powers because Faith was going to act calmly and not get herself killed; she would be cold and calculating and once her daughter and her friend were free she’d calmly kill everyone who’d tried to hurt them.0=0=0=0
“Are you alright?” Fi asked as she examined Mike’s throat.
“Yeah I’m fine,” Mike replied on his second attempt at getting his battered vocal chords to work.
“What the hell’s going on Mike?” Sam wanted to know as he gestured with his shotgun, “Can these people be trusted?”
“I think so,” Mike croaked, “at least for now…”
“And why do they want a chicken?” Fi asked, “This is no time for barbecues.”
If Fi was going to add anything she didn’t get the chance as she was interrupted by the sound of loud nervous clucking as one of Omar’s men returned with a chicken held by its feet in his hand. Running over to Cat he handed her the bird before hurriedly crossing himself and heading on outside again.
“What the hell…” Sam said as he watched the woman with the chicken.0=0=0=0
“A knife?” Cat asked Faith as she held the struggling chicken in her hand; Faith passed her the small, sharp knife she kept tucked into the back pocket of her shorts, “Now hold the bowl,” Cat nodded to a small brown earthenware bowl with strange symbols scratched on its side, “and catch the blood…”
Holding the chicken up, Cat rapidly cut its throat. Moving quickly so as not to waste any of the blood, Faith watched as the chicken’s blood drained into the bowl. Once the chicken had stopped bleeding and struggling, Cat cast the dead bird to one side and took the bowl from Faith. Placing the bowl with the still warm blood in it on the work bench, Cat arranged several magic items around the bowl in a wide circle. Satisfied, she started to chant in a language that sounded half Spanish and half something else. Dipping her right forefinger into the blood she drew patterns on her face as she began to chant louder and faster.
“What the hell are they doing?” Sam asked in amazement he’d never seen any thing like this before, “Is this voodoo?”
“No,” Fi replied quietly with a shake of the head, “it’s the local form of witchcraft or Brujaeria.”
“How’d you know?” Mike turned his head to look down at Fiona.
“Oh…” she sighed, “…I’ve seen stuff like this at home, my Granny had ‘The Sight’.”
“The Sight?” Mike and Sam asked in unison.
“Yeah,” Fi sounded a little defensive, “the second sight it sorta runs in the family.”
“Do you have the…” Mike began to ask but was interrupted by a loud scream from the mouth of the young woman with chicken blood all over her face.
Coming to the end of her spell, Cat yelled out the last word and threw the remaining blood up into the air. Eyes wide, Faith watched as it flew up into the air and then…and then it seemed to hover in the air for a few seconds before gently falling as a fine red mist to land on the bench. As the blood settled across the surface of the bench it formed itself into a road map of the local area. By the time all the blood had landed there was a fairly detailed map of several blocks around the centre of the North Side 13 gang’s territory. One street in particular seemed to pulse steadily with a warm red glow.
“Omar,” Faith pointed at the little red pulsing light, “ya know where that is?”
Up until this moment, Omar had been standing to one side muttering prayers to The Virgin for the safety of his mortal soul. Señora Catalina was a good and powerful woman but such blatant displays of her power made him more than a little nervous, they really scared the crap out of him! Stepping forward, Omar looked at the bloody map while trying not to actually look
at it. However his eyes soon told him what he was looking at; this was the area at the very core of Vega’s territory.
“That’s just off Twelfth Street,” Omar pointed, his finger tracing the line of the main street, “There’s a disused bakery a few doors down, Vega uses it to stash things. The road’s a dead end only one way in…”
“And only one way out,” Faith smiled as she looked at Omar, “can I borrow ya boys?”
“Sure why not,” Omar shrugged, “you’re gonna kill Vega?”
“Yeah, shoulda done it before when I had the chance,” Faith explained before looking at Cat who was busily wiping blood from her face with a wet-wipe, “you good to go?”
“Good,” Cat nodded as she started to pack her ‘tools of the trade’ into her bag.
“Hey!” Mike interrupted as he crossed the floor towards the little group, “You just goin to rush in?”
“Why not?” Faith grinned, “It’s always worked before and after Omar here calls Vega that he’s got me and wants to trade me for Vega leaving him alone he’s gonna welcome us with open arms…” Faith’s smile took on a predatory look, “You can tag along if ya wanna; y’know, keep an eye on ya investment?”
“Look,” Mike knew he had to keep control of the situation if he stood any chance of snatching Rincon back, “Vega knows all of Omar’s guys, he’s not going to let them anywhere near. He doesn’t know me or Sam or Fi, what say you give us twenty minutes to get into position and give you some back up?”
Faith was about to say no, but then she stopped herself; Mike, the guy in the black suit, was talking sense and the more firepower backing her up if the shooting started the better.
“Yeah, okay,” Faith agreed, “ya got thirty minutes to get into position…”
“We only need twenty,” Mike pointed out.
“Hey, what can I say I’m feeling generous,” Faith smiled back, “now move!” Faith turned back to Omar, “Omar make ya call but insist the meeting’s at this disused bakery, okay?”
Nodding his agreement Omar pulled out his cell and called Vega.0=0=0=0
“Maps made of chicken blood…” Sam muttered as he checked the automatic rifle he’d taken from the trunk of Mike’s Charger, “…you sure you know what you’re getting into, Mike?”
“No,” Mike took off his jacket and slipped on a bullet resistant vest, “but that Faith woman seems to and I wasn’t about to argue with her…” he absently rubbed his neck, “…at least not over this and its looks like it’s the only way we’re going to get Rincon.”
“What about you, Fi?” Sam turned to look at the Irish woman who was checking over a sniper’s rifle.
“I’ve no problems with it,” Fi admitted, “I’ve seen this sorta stuff before…”
“You what!?” Sam stopped what he was doing to give Fi his full attention.
“Look Sam,” Fi sighed, “back in The Troubles this sort of stuff went on a lot, Brit Witches against the local Republican Witches…it was all pretty weird. Maps made of chicken blood is nothing compared to some of the stuff I’ve seen.”
“What!?” Mike and Sam chorused; their world view was getting a steady battering today.0=0=0=0Outside Vega’s disused bakery.
Watching through the telescopic sight of her rifle, Fi saw Omar’s car pull up outside Vega’s bakery. From up on the roof of the building on the opposite side of the street she had a clear shot at anyone near the bakery. Hidden down on the street Mike and Sam were ready to move in and cover everyone’s retreat if things turned to crap; or, move in and snatch Rincon if everything went to plan.
Switching her attention back to Omar, Fi saw him and his number two, Renes, climb out of the car and walk towards the bakery. In the back of Omar’s car another of his men made like he was guarding the ‘super-strong, hit-woman’ Faith. Frowning, Fi tried to remember some of the old legends her granny had told her about female-warrior-heroes from Ireland’s mist shrouded past. But she’d only been a little girl when she’d heard the tales and they couldn’t possibly be true. Snuggling up to the stock of her rifle, Fiona got comfortable as she watched and waited ready to deliver death on demand to Vega and his buddies.0=0=0=0
Standing with his hands in the air, Omar waited for one of Vega’s men to finish patting him down. Omar hadn’t even bothered bringing a gun as he knew Vega would search him.
“Look,” Omar tried to sound conciliatory, “I think we had a misunderstanding here, man, I don’t want no trouble.”
“Misunderstanding?” Vega laughed derisively, “I like that,” he grinned, “Let’s get this misunderstanding cleared up right now,” Vega’s seeming good humour vanished in the blink of an eye, “Show me this mystery woman.”
Omar turned to indicate his car as Vega gestured to a couple of his men to take Faith from the back of the car. Watching from her rooftop, Fi centred the cross hairs of her sight on the head of the man closest to her as he pulled Faith roughly from the back of the car. It was only then that Fi saw that Faith’s hands had been tied behind her back and she wondered if Omar had double-crossed every one.
“So we cool?” Omar asked sounding hopeful.
“Cool?” Vega sneered, “Cool? You think one freak, concha is gonna make things even? Let me tell you something, in my Kingdom, peace don’t come cheap…” Vega sniggered at Omar’s apparent foolishness, “…today I take your neighbourhood, tomorrow I’ll take your woman. It’s a new world Omar, get used to it.” Vega stood back and gestured to Omar and Faith, “Get them inside, the rest stay out here, if they want anything,” he told his men, “shoot them.”
Moving the cross hairs of her rifle, Fi was tempted to shoot Vega now but she didn’t. Instead she watched as Omar’s disgruntled bangers walked across the street to stand in the shade of a tree just near where Mike and Sam had stashed some weapons for the bangers to use. Lifting her eyes to watch the roof of the bakery, Fi saw Mike and Sam quietly gain entry to the building through a skylight.0=0=0=0
Inside the bakery it was darker and cooler than outside, stumbling as she was pushed through the doorway, Faith looked up to see a man who just radiated evil like a demon, this must be Rincon. Standing with her head down, Faith concentrated; she could feel Rose near by and Cat join Omar’s men outside. It was nearly time for payback to begin.
“See Filipe,” Rincon laughed, “I told you if we took her brat the puta would come running.” Rincon turned his attention to Faith, “So, what are you? Some kinda super-hero?” he laughed, “Well your super powers won’t help you in here, so what are you?”
“You’ll find out soon enough,” Faith replied in a low voice.
“You want her first?” Rincon asked Vega, “I’m happy to play with her brat, y’know?”
Vega stepped up behind Faith and grabbed her by the hair pulling her head back.
“Hey, y’know,” Vega laughed evilly, “why don’t we let her watch while you slice up her brat, see how she likes that?”
The time had come, by this time Faith could feel all the pieces of the puzzle slide into place. In the room with her there was Omar, who’d managed to step back and out of the way, Vega who was behind her and Rincon in front of her. A couple of Vega’s thugs were in the room too but Vega was between her and them, they wouldn’t dare fire until it was too late to do any good.
“Okay puta, let’s see how…” Vega went to push Faith towards the door at the back of the shop, but she wasn’t there anymore.
Stepping quickly to one side Faith broke the ropes that tied her hands as Vega staggered passed her. Before either of Vega’s guards knew what had happened, Faith had slashed one across the throat with the edge of her hand and punched the other on the bridge of his nose. One guard fell to his knees clawing at his throat while his ruptured larynx swelled and choked him to death. The other guard was luckier, he died instantly as fragments of his nose bounced around inside his head turning his brain into diced offal.
Recovering quickly, Vega turned to find himself facing Faith who’d apparently killed both of his men in less than heart beat. He aimed a skull smashing punch at her head but Faith dodged away only to appear in front of him again like some murderous jack-in-the-box. Smiling, Faith reached out and held Vega’s head between his hands in a vice like grip. With a shrug of her shoulders, she broke the gang-leader’s neck, letting go of the man she watched his body fall lifelessly to the ground.
Realising that things hadn’t quite worked out the way he’d been expecting and that he was now alone in the room with the mother of one of the children he’d snatched, Rincon decided it was time to leave. Turning away from Faith he made a dash for the door at the back of the shop only to have it burst open in front of him. Suddenly he found himself confronted by two determined looking men in body armour who were pointing guns at him. Quickly he decided that handing himself into these two men was infinitely better than facing the woman behind him he raised his hands and surrendered.
“I said you could have him after I’ve finished with him,” Faith walked up behind Rincon and grabbed him by the collar of his shirt.
“Remember we need him alive,” Mike told Faith.
“Oh he’ll be alive,” Faith smiled at Mike.
The next instant Faith was wiping blood and goo from her right fore finger as Rincon rolled about on the floor and screamed as he clutched the place where his eyes had once been.0=0=0=0
Running across the street, Cat jumped over the bodies of Vega’s bangers before bursting into the bakery. The skinny Irish woman with the rifle had shot down Vega’s men before they could properly react to the sounds of death coming from the shop. Once her eyes had adapted to the dull interior of the shop, Cat saw more bodies, she was aware of Omar and his men behind her and Faith in front of her. The man called Rincon was rolling about on the floor in agony as the man called ‘Mike’ and his friend tried to apply dressings to his bloody face.
“He needs an ambulance,” Mike called.
“Let him bleed a little,” Faith replied coldly, “it’s good for the soul.”
Seeing Cat, Faith pushed Sam out of the way and headed to the back of the building. Finding a door secured with a padlock, Faith ripped it off and yanked open the door. Standing in the doorway she was aware of Jackie’s tear stained face looking up at her in fear. But, worse she was aware of Rose lying motionless next to her friend.
“Let me see!” Cat pushed by Faith and was kneeling by her step-daughter checking her out, “Look after Jackie, get her outta here.”
In a daze, Faith moved to obey, walking towards the blonde girl she knelt down and took the sobbing child in her arms. As she felt the warmth of the girl’s skin against her own something seemed to click in Faith’s brain and she started to function properly. Rose would be okay, Cat was a nurse she knew what she was doing and would look after Rosy like she always did, like Rose was her own. The other girl, Jackie needed comforting too that would be her job until Cat had done her work.
“Here baby,” Faith said softly as she held Jackie close, “everything’s gonna be okay now, no one’s gonna hurt ya.”
As she picked up Jackie and carried her from the room, Faith really regretted keeping her promise and not killing Rincon when she’d had the chance. Coming out into the shop, Faith caught the eye of one of Omar’s men.
“Go find this kid’s parents and bring them here, then take them to Señora Catalina’s clinic, okay?”
“Si, La Elegida,” replied the man as he headed on out into the street.
Still holding Jackie in her arms, Faith turned to Mike and his friend.
“Look man, we need ambulances and we need the cops else where, ya understand?” Faith asked hopefully.
“I think I can arrange something,” Mike replied as he removed his cell from his own pocket.0=0=0=0Epilogue.Principal Simpson’s Office.
“…Ms White,” Hector Pena (Cat's Uncle) turned to look at the young woman sitting next to him in front of Principal Simpson’s desk, “do you think that Rose Lehane is in anyway ‘disturbed’?”
“Certainly not!” Ms White laughed at the very idea, before going on to explain, “Rose is a lively, intelligent child with an active imagination…” she paused for a moment as her smile dimmed a little, “…perhaps a little too active sometimes, but she’s certainly not disturbed. Has anyone suggested that she is?”
“Not in so many words,” Hector reassured Rose’s Home Room teacher as he cast Principal Simpson a dark look, “Would you give us you’re assessment of Rose’s art work and school work in general.”
“Rose, isn’t a high flier,” Ms White shrugged, “but her grades in most subjects are good although she needs to do better in Maths; she’s well behaved and popular with her classmates and she does very well at sports.”
“And her artwork, Ms White?” Principal Simpson hinted.
“Rose possesses a real talent for drawing that I wouldn’t expect to see in a child so young…” Ms White continued.
“But what about the content?” Principal Simpson asked pointedly.
“Well…” Ms White hesitated; she was between a rock and a hard place, she had the choice between getting her Principal mad at her, or, annoying the Chairman of the School Board. “…I have to say that a lot of it isn’t to my taste, but its really no different to what you see in comics these days…although perhaps Rose uses too much…erm…red. But I don’t think its anything we should be worried about, she’ll probably grow out of it.”
“And Ms Lehane, Rose’s mother,” Hector smiled encouragingly at Ms White, “you’ve met her?”
“Oh yes several times,” Ms White nodded, “she always comes to parent-teacher evenings and involves herself in school events, I wish more parents were like her, she’s a very strong
woman in all meanings of the word.” Again Ms White paused as she thought about what to say next, “I get the impression that Ms Lehane didn’t get a very good education and she’s determined that Rose has all the advantages that she didn’t.”
“From what you’ve seen,” Hector nodded, “would you say that Ms Lehane is a good mother?”
“Most certainly,” Ms White caught the look she was receiving from Principal Simpson so tried to qualify her words a little, “but of course my interactions with her have been by necessity limited.”
“Thank-you Ms White,” Hector Pena stood up, “if you could wait outside I need to speak with Principal Simpson awhile, I’ll come and see you before I leave and thank-you.”
After shaking Mr Pena’s hand, Ms White gave Principal Simpson a nervous look before heading on out of the door. Turning back to Principal Simpson, Hector Pena sat down again.
“You know what I think the problem is here?” Hector said with deceptive calm.
“No, what is the problem here?” Principal Simpson replied frostily.
“I think the real reason that you want Rose Lehane to see the School Counsellor and have her mother investigated by Child Services; is that you don’t ‘approve’ of the relationship Ms Lehane has with the young woman she lives with.” Hector sat back in his chair and crossed his arms. “I think you’re one of these small minded people who don’t like same-sex couples and you’ll do everything in your power to break them up whatever the consequences…” Hector leaned forward, “…well your little vendetta stops now Ms Simpson. If it doesn’t you’ll have more than me to worry about!”0=0=0=0Mike’s Loft.
Leaning on his kitchen counter, Mike ate a completive yoghurt. The fact that he appeared to have escaped the clutches of the woman (who had broken Gilroy’s nose and three of his fingers) unharmed had made Gilroy like Mike even more. He now seemed even more eager to have Mike work with him. Shrugging, Mike threw away the empty yoghurt container, with a little luck he’d soon be a step closer to finding out why he’d been burnt.0=0=0=0Fi’s Apartment.
Hanging up the phone, Fi walked over to her couch and sat down. Having phoned one of her Aunts in Ireland she was a little puzzled; she’d told her Aunt Brigit about the young woman with seeming super powers and her aunt had got very interested and asked lots of questions. When Fiona explained that she didn’t know much other than this Faith Lehane woman was exceptionally fast and strong, her Aunt had asked her to try and find out more. Shrugging Fi wondered why her Aunt was so interested, she’d told her she’d see what she could do.0=0=0=0Rose’s Hospital room.
“MOMMY!” Rose cried out happily as she saw her mother come into her room, “Can we go home now…pleeeeeze!”THE END.0=0=0=0