Octavia's house (El Espectro Case) · Jin-hee Hayes HP:21/24 · MP: 50/50 · Scene pts: 3/3 · Max potions/day:2/4 ‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾
Jin greeted Angelo with a timid nod, as if anything more noticeable than it were too extravagant. Deliberately dragging her feet, she fell behind Ben and Nikki to let them arrive at the kitchen first. She didn’t know how to behave in this situation. Would they talk about the case over the breakfast or would they make small talk instead? Half these people were complete strangers, and she was terrible at small talk. Was she expected to sit and eat as well?
Suffering from an acute bout of shyness, she did her best to remain out of everyone’s way and pretend she wasn’t present, only taking a seat once the others took theirs and reaching for the food when it looked too weird to not to. Her eyes flitted around the table but avoided eye contact. Angelo seemed pretty relaxed and safe, not like someone needing help. Now Jin thought about it, she had no idea why he came to Mexico in first place. She frowned slightly and took a small bite, looking for a way to phrase the question without sounding utterly inept.
“So, hm, can you brief us about the case? How you learned about the cult?” She glanced at Angelo.
Ben discovers he likes tortas de tamales.
While eating he remembers that he meant to see if he can use Shadow spells to flavor treats for Ratatoskr. He decides to save a couple of scraps and try it later. Maybe a point of Healing? No, he has to cast the spell on the treat...<frown> Nothing he's got can be cast on food. Maybe if he offers a treat and then casts a spell on Ratatoskr directly? Hmm...maybe ask one of the others...
Angelo was a little over-eager to welcome everyone into Octavia's home. It was clear he craved being around the team, though he had made no shortage of friends in his time in Mexico City.
"Okay, so," he began, chewing down one last over-sized chunk before getting started. "Alderamin roped me in on a pretty grisly killing here in Mexico City involving a diablera. Captain said it was worth checking out. He and I came here and linked up with Octavia, and she and I started investigating. We started digging - met some heavy metal witches, which was exactly as intimidating as it sounds - and followed a few leads. Turns out the victim was a painter, able to see beyond - you know, what mortals were not meant to see kind of perception - and painted it. Only he could only do it using drugs, heavy ones. And his apartment had been ransacked pretty thoroughly. Whoever did it was having the place watched, or someone else was, and we got jumped while we were there. Thanks to Octavia's quick thinking we got out of that scrape just fine, and I had to pay a visit to a guy named Vargas."
Angelo's hands were moving constantly as he spoke, not unlike an excited child describing a trip to a theme park. "I... convinced Vargas to assist in the investigation. Turns out we're dealing with a... pretty nasty villain. Not the kind you can pummel or cut up with swords, either. So I put in the call. Octavia, maybe you can better explain what we're up against? I'm not good with the..." he trailed off and pointed at his head and shrugged, making it clear he was not good with the thinking and the brain-using and so forth.
OOC: This turned into another rather lengthy post, but with the weekend approaching I decided not to drag the infodump into two.
The food was high on carbs but delicious and filling. “This is really good,” Machado commented to Octavia. “I could get used to your cooking.”
“I bet.” Octavia said and then focused on Angelo’s explanation. After Angelo turned to her for the rest of the explanation, she told: “El Espectro. A ghost from the Aztec era. A high priest of some really malevolent entity. The Templars that came with the Spanish burned him and razed his temple, but whatever pacts he had made allowed him to come back. And he keeps returning no matter how many times he gets put down. Sets up a new death cult of depraved sadists to bring him victims. The ghost feeds on death. And now he has apparently smelled big death on the way. He gave the painter drugs laced with demonic essence to obtain clues about something the demons are up to. Something called The Feast. The painter made a painting of what he saw and named it like that. Vargas gave the painting to El Espectro’s lieutenant, a Shadow Mage assassin named Quintana. Vargas did not look at the painting, so all the clues are in possession of the cult. And we do not know where they are. Or how we might bring down El Espectro for good.”
“I have something that might help,” Machado said and took out a scroll case. Opening it, he revealed a bright white scroll tied with a gold colored ribbon. “This has been in our armory since before I joined. It was obtained years ago, in the case we ever managed to catch El Espectro.”
“A scroll?” Octavia asked.
“Not just any scroll. This was scribed by Mexico City’s Consul of Heaven himself. It is Angelic magic. A Ritual of Judgement. What it does is opens a temporary portal to Purgatory – the closed realm where the Hosts gather select souls for evaluation – and alerts the realm’s Angel guardians of a soul arriving to be judged.”
“Ooh, I like that,” Octavia grinned. “Whatever pacts the ghost has made, the spirit he made them with won’t be able to get him out of Purgatory. It is guarded by both Hosts. And the Angels will take one look at El Espectro, put him in a trash bag and drop him down a chute to Hell.” She stopped grinning. “But what is the issue? If it was that simple, you would have tried to use it by now.”
“It is a ritual spell. Takes plenty of power, three mages to cast, and has a seven hour casting time. Opening a portal to Purgatory is no simple matter. And the ghost is unlikely to sit still and wait for the ritual to be finished.”
“If we catch him in Hunter’s Trap, he won’t have an option,” Octavia said. “But we need to find him first.”
“I may have something to help with that too.” Machado took out a printed file and passed it around. The file included a picture of a cruel looking man with dark hair in a ponytail. “Vicente Quintana. Half Blooded Shadow Mage. Family trained. His father, the one who trained him, is currently doing time for a string of magic-assisted crimes. Burglary, theft, identity theft, extortion. Quite a career criminal, but a nonviolent one. His son is worse. Worked as a cartel hitman. Suspected of multiple counts of murder. Dropped off the radar after the Mexican War on Drugs started and the government sent soldiers against the cartels. Including warmages. I suppose that Quintana saw the writing on the wall and left the service of the cartel rather than face off against the military. We thought that he was laying low, but apparently he had just switched employers.”
“From cartel to cult,” Octavia commented. “Dangerous bastard. Is there anything on the file that might help us to track him down?”
“His known associates,” Machado replied. “I do not think he is using his cartel contacts, but he has others. One in particular. Yago Zavala. Half Blood Mage, no convictions. He owns an occult store. Actually, he quite openly advertises his establishment as a Satanic Magic Store. Anything on sale at the front is mundane paraphernalia with no real magic power, of course, but for the mages he has a very different selection.”
“I know that one,” Octavia commented, her eyes narrowing. “He has a reputation among the Diableros in the City. He is an Angel Slayer. Past fifty. Lots of scars. Rumor has it that he used to travel all over Mexico challenging Diableros and even Angels to duels. Won often too. But then he started growing old. His body slowed down and weakened. So he retired from his travels and moved here to set up shop. He is reputed to still be a really tough cookie despite his age, and that it is not a good idea to go to his shop to pick a fight. The store is called La Puerta Negra. The Black Door. A gathering place for Hellsworn. I do not think Zavala is a Hellsworn himself, but he does welcome their business. I can see how someone like Quintana would consider that a good place to go shopping. Do you think Zavala might know something about Quintana?”
“If Quintana is not laying low, he will eventually need a restock. Makes sense that he would use a known and trusted supplier. Zavala is unlikely to be forthcoming with information though.”
“We could beat it out of him,” Octavia suggested.
Machado grimaced. “I have extreme reservations about going around beating people for information. There is a very good reason why suspected and even convicted criminals have rights. And we do not even know if Zavala knows anything.”
“I am not talking about torturing him for information or firebombing his store,” Octavia said. “I am talking about a fair fight. Zavala sounds like someone who fights Angels just for the challenge. I bet he misses the duels. What if Angelo challenges him for the information? He may accept, especially if Quintana is just a customer and not a friend of his.”
“If the man is as dangerous as his reputation says, that might be very risky,” Machado said. “And also still in a rather gray area.”
Octavia shrugged. “I do things like that all the time, you know that. I am pretty much a vigilante. I operate outside the confines of the law. And you do not have to get involved in the fight. But we do have another potential source of information. Although they may not have the exact same information. Zavala might know about Quintana’s recent purchases and doings but maybe not his location. As I told Angelo earlier, The Knights Templar might be able to find out the location. They have their own tricks, but no tracking magics, so they have become adept at technological tracking instead. The Templars have infiltrated the cell phone providers. They can use cell phone data to track down their targets.”
“I am not sure I am comfortable with the idea of a secret organization with no oversight illegally accessing people’s personal data,” Machado commented to that.
“Out of a knightly order and government, guess which one I can trust to act honorably when it comes to accessing my data?” Octavia asked.
“Sadly, you make a good point,” Machado sighed and reached for one more torta de tamal.
“Speaking of that honor, the data the Templars have is normally for their own use, and they do not offer it to just anyone,” Octavia continued to explain. “They’d turn away most people who come asking, including the government. But they do make exceptions. And they are more prone to trusting some people than others. Devil Hunters are among those they are more likely to trust. And I have worked with Templars before and have access to their chapterhouse. They might be willing to give us Quintana’s location, but they will ask why. And we need to decide what we should tell them.”
“If we say that we are after a cult and the number belongs to a former cartel hitman, it is all true and will probably be enough to secure their help. But if we mention El Espectro, the reaction may be different. Their ancestors were the first ones who attempted to stop him, but they didn’t succeed. Their sense of honor may come to play. I suspect that in that case we will only get the data if we agree to let them join the operation. And while normally I do not have a problem with working side by side with Templars…”
Octavia sighed. “We are only likely to get one shot at El Espectro. If he figures out that he is being cornered, he might just run for the hills and leave his cult to their fate. And ghosts are damn elusive. If we want to catch him, we need to get the drop on him. If I can catch him in Hunter’s Trap, he won’t be able to run. So we need to get inside his hideout without getting spotted. That won’t be easy. It takes a good plan. And plans can easily go awry if someone does something unexpected. Which becomes all the more likely the more people are involved. Especially if they are people used to doing things differently. I am not adamantly against involving the Templars, especially when we have no idea how strong an opposition we will face. But we need to decide how big a group it makes sense to gather. We are already juggling operational doctrine with US detectives, a Mexican detective, and a vigilante.” She glanced at Machado and added: “And the fact that the Mexican detective in question has for months been trying to charm his way between the vigilante’s thighs does not make the situation any less complicated.”
Machado started coughing and turned red. Perhaps out of embarrassment or perhaps because he was choking on his torta de tamal.
Nikki greeted their hostess politely. She made no attempt to speak the local language. Even if she knew more than a handful of unpleasant words, her accect would have mangled them and embarrassed her.
"Thank you for your hospitality and for watching out for Angelo."
Nikki was reluctant to try the food. Mexican food tended to be too spicy for her tastes as was Indian food. Being polite, she chose a small piece and tried not to choke on the spices while she listened to the new information.
Ben keeps quiet and listens intently, doing his best to take in all the information being given.
He makes a mental note to help Nikki with translation if necessary.
And to check with Jin as to whether she will need such help. His own grasp of Spanish is limited but he can usually get along, and he made a point to be sure his Spanish-English dictionary was loaded on his tablet.
Octavia's house (El Espectro Case) · Jin-hee Hayes HP:21/24 · MP: 50/50 · Scene pts: 3/3 · Max potions/day:2/4 ‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾
Angelo’s enthusiasm was disarming. By the time he finished talking the warlock’s posture had gone from stiffly guarded to relaxed without her noticing. She then listened to Octavia and Machado intently, a nibbled torta forgotten in her hands.
Despite guessing the meaning of one or other word thanks to their Latin roots, Jin felt hopelessly lost when it came to Spanish. She gladly accepted Ben’s help with the file. It would be annoying to be unable to seek more information on her own to take informed decisions. Not that she’d be taking any decisions—she had been in Mexico for less than an hour. Octavia, Machado, and even Angelo were in a better position to do that.
“What lead you want to follow?” She raised her eyes to look at them and added, “I’ll probably be most useful when the time to use the scroll comes.” Jin was tempted to say she was powerful enough to take the place of two mages, but she didn’t know them well enough to avoid sounding haughty instead of jokingly as intended. She blushed anyway.
OOC: The amusing part is that Spanish is pretty close to my native language, so I can understand it just fine.
Angelo grabbed another plate, muscles burning from the workout and stomach still growling. He nodded and Mmmhm mmhmmed at Nikki's comment, as if to affirm that he needed looking after (as if anyone else needed that affirmed).
"I might be able to get us in good with the Templars. The Order of St Joseph's is..." he paused, peering upwards as he tried to find the right way to put it, "...a close relative to the Templars. 'We Sword for the Lord' and stuff, you know?" Angelo chuckled and remembered how much Brother Ezekiel hated that turn of phrase. He had been punished more than once for saying it aloud...
He leaned against the counter and continued chomping (rather noisily). After an over-sized gulp, Angelo's brow furrowed. "Jin you're really good at organizing though," he commented. For context he faced the Mexico City crew and began to explain while cutting more tamales with his fork. "Back at the station Officer Hayes maintains the master whiteboard and cross-references all our investigative data." He paused and made a face. "Uh, when I say it, it sounds a lot less impressive than it is. I'm not good at explaining. But... ugh... she's good at more than scrolls I mean." Sanctis shoveled another load of food in his mouth before any more awkwardness could escape it.