A long time ago.
The sound of steel clamors from the innermost chamber of an intricate rock formation; a premature flash of foreshadowing lightning saw two sons of Ramon sparring in a classic display of fencing. Kane stood on one side, his face clean shaven, his hair matching the dark depths of his immoral soul, his body rivaling the finely sculpted attributes of the God Atlas. He carried the demeanor of a militaristic elitist and modeled himself as a beacon of family standards and discipline, those that knew him intimately however; knew his surface features to be a façade for the sadistic personality that lay latent inside him.
On the other side stood Marcos, Kane’s slightly younger brother; though his profuse use of nicotine and other recreational drugs made him appear to be slightly older. Though born in Malaga like all of his siblings, he took up permanent refuge in Italy; as indicated by his Italian designer suits. He had a fabricated head full of grey hair, a slim build in contrast to her brother; but known for his ability to be annoyingly witty. Marcos was didn’t share the militaristic views of Kane; but was an Elitist none the less. His adoration for business, and Kane’s martial intellect made them two of the most influential men in the Mediterranean.
"Ahhh Kano…Your skills have improved much, and seemingly right under my own nose." Marcos applauded; removing the off-white helmet that somewhat blurred his vision. "But I did not travel the great sea to lose to you in a spar did I?"
"Heh…no my brother" Kane smirked sitting his foil against the side of the wall, before lighting a series of candles around the cave. "I suppose you did not" Sparring was a Liafador tradition; it was considered an insult amongst the men to not spar before a meeting of significant importance. Because the family was so vast and confrontational most of the individual family members did not speak nor spar unless called upon by the Patriarch.
Pouring two glasses of wine, Kane took a seat across from the Italian Liafador with a folder opened and slightly pushed to the center of the wooden table. Marcos didn’t reflect the same ecstatic look that Kane eventually dawned, he remained quiet and unmoved by anything in the folder largely; due to ignorance. The burning smell of Jasmine, along with the stress reliving sport of fencing kept his body at ease facilitating a conversational atmosphere.
"Kano, what am I looking at?" He asked. Marcos’ hands picked up a photo containing a double helix DNA strand. Crudely snatching the file back, the older Liafador positioned his hand on a specific part of the gene sequence highlighted in red. "This here is the genetic sequence of my new child; I’ve been working on it for some time…"
Kane’s instruction was ended by an exaggerated frustration sigh from Marcos; he’d heard this story at least three times before—it was getting old. "Kano, the last time I spoke with you; you said that you impregnated a Greek Woman…now almost seven months later you’re trying to CREATE another child. What is with this madness?"
"Heh" Kane chuckled again this time sitting back in his seat rubbing his immaculately shaven face. "Isis is her name—the child I mean, and Marcos, we’ve been using the women of this family wrong; it’s no doubt that our mother’s genes appear to be dominant, but think about the amount of influence we can have with Liafador Manchurian candidates. A beautiful woman can topple even the most powerful of nations." Kane’s explanation did very little to sway the opinion of Marcos, a man to stuck in his own misogynist ways.
"You are starting to sound like grandfather, besides does this family not have enough whores?!" Marcos hissed borderline screaming. "Mind your nerves brother; think about what you could achieve if young Zeon was to be the bodyguard of the prime minister?"
Marcos scoffed at the notion of his daughter being anything more than collateral. "Don’t impose your believes of my family" He screamed, pointing his index finger in Kane’s face. "Whose DNA is this exactly?" He asked, trying to force the conversation back to a cordial atmosphere.
"It’s mine of course…and Nana’s" Kane gave a sinister grin; one that undoubtedly sickened Marcos stomach. "That’s an abomination! You have disgraced this family! She is your sister!" He screamed throwing his chair back in anger.
"Ahhh you do care…" Kane remarked, throwing his hands up as if he were surrendering. "Relax, I didn’t knock boots with Nana…I extracted the DNA from her hair." Kane explained, watching Marcos storm toward the opening of the cave.
"I want nothing more to do with this conversation!" Kane slowly sauntered behind him explaining how he was able to produce a provisional child with his science; however in his anger Marcos had heard none of it. "Marcos…look." Kane whispered, causing the Italian to turn; right as Ziccarra’s blade met with his Adams apple. "Na-nana!" Marcos screamed fearful that his younger sister might end his life.
"She will not kill you. She’s under my control." Kane said waving his hand to call off Ziccarra’s would be attack. "You see brother; she’s got looks that rival Aphrodite, a voice that could influence Samson; and the power that could produce the head of any head of state. "
Nana—Ziccarra was their youngest sister and thought to be the most beautiful woman in all of Malaga. She had pacific blue eyes which were fixed with a latent mutation that made them appear teal during certain hours of the day. She stood about 5’9 with the body of a professional flamenco dancer with endless charcoal black hair and a vibrant smile known to paralyze parties from both sexes. As she stood, those features did not appear to be so vibrant; her mind had been controlled by Kane making her completely a slave to his homicidal tendencies.
"The Liafador women are a weapon."
"H-how are you controlling her?" Marcos responded as his body tremble he saw fit to take a safe step back. "It’s through a process someone taught me called…Indoctrination."
Marcos’ surprise soon subsided, fixing his coat his stern hazel eyes darted to his elegant younger sister; but only for a moment before returning to Kane. "I see you heard the voices too, but unlike me my brother you have embrace them. I will pray for your well-being. I have to be off" Marcos said, placing a placid kiss on the side of Ziccarra’s porcelain cheek. Her ignorance to this uncharacteristic display of affection; showed Marcos just how deep this mental control was.
"Why so soon?" Kane asked once again momentarily halting his brother’s exit. "There is a Moroccan woman claiming she is with my child. Not that I believe her, but I must keep Estella from finding out."
Kane chuckled, partially because he realized the hypocritical nature of Marcos’ revelation, and he always thought the concept of marriage to be a waste of time. "Handle your business my brother, until next time." He said, giving Marcos a respectful salute.
"I pray for your sake Ziccarra does not recover from this; because she will bring hell" Marcos warned with the incandescent moonlight shielding his exit. Kane pondered only for a moment, but dismissed the notion.
"Leave me Ziccarra; I have a lot work to do." His back turned toward his controlled sister. There was a lot of work to be done; though the DNA strand he produced allowed him to create what he called "The perfect child" there was still one last thing he needed to account for "The Liafador Curse".
All the Liafador women born after Kane’s mother (Sabella) where exposed to some form of genetic modifications; these modifications granted: beauty, Intellect and an increased sense of self-worth. The downside however was a mental deterioration that eventually begin to plague them, effecting judgment and producing erratic behavior.
Kane knew of only one current case, his Columbian half-sister Sofia; though it wasn’t exactly enough information to call a "curse" he hypothesized it was a side-effect of the modifications.
5 Years Later, Belize City, Belize
Kane’s appearance changed over the course of five years, he still had his amazing jet black hair, his face still clean shaven; however now he had a distinct scar over his neck where Ziccarra’s blade had struck him a few years prior. He failed to keep control over the Malagan Marchioness; the failed indoctrination enlightened her to everything he did over the course of five years, and marked him as a dead man. A period known as "The Great Schism" took place between the family, some members of the family split into a faction known as "The Brave hearts; a group of bounty hunters capitalized off corporate assassinations started by Kane’s parents—Sabella and Ramon Liafador.
While those still adamantly loyal to family joined a clandestine organization known as The Red Cardinals; a group that supposedly helped Jews escape Spanish persecution during the Inquisition. Before his death; Kane’s grandfather placed Ziccarra in charge of the remaining Cardinal sects, this move led to a series of conflicts between the Bravehearts and Cardinals which ultimately lead to Ziccarra killing all but two members.
Instead of facing the wrath of the Red Cardinal Queen, Kane fled with young Catalina to Belize; and watched from a safe distance as his younger sister, Ziccarra—assumed the role of "Matriarch" of his family. Since his exile, Kane spent most of his days meditating and tracking the movements of the Red Cardinal legions across the Tibetan plains. There were tons of control protocols in place, just in case Ziccarra had somehow tracked him to Belize.
"Ice cream papi, Ice cream!" his concentration was shattered by the jovial wail of his beautiful younger daughter. It came the same time every day; his young daughter would play with her toys until roughly eleven, and then they’d head out into the city for brunch and ice cream. "Alright let’s go."
The father and daughter duo walked the packed streets surveying the of their relative small city, every now and then he’d test her intellect just to be sure the modifications were still in effect.
"What’s the capital of Australia? He asked, allowing her to freely run across the street when given the light to walk. "It’s Sydney!" She screamed running into a flock of pigeons. "Good. What’s the capital of Canada?"
"That’s easy papi, its Ottawa did you forget?" Cat asked looking back with her hands on her hips giving him the five year old sass. "Ohhh you got me, I did forget. It’s a good thing I have you! What would I do without you?" Kane replied with a raspy gargle playing on his daughter’s sass. His voice typically went in and out, Ziccarra managed to damage his vocal cords in their last encounter.
"It’s ok papi, you can just get me two ice creams; and we’ll be even" he couldn’t help but release a full blown wail of laughter. "HA! You little hustler!"
Opening the door to their favorite little diner he watched as the energetic little Liafador ran to their favorite booth and immediately grabbed the crayons for a word puzzle. Kane moved to the counter to see whatever information he could receive from Priscilla the waitress.
"Anything to report?" the waitress closed the distance between them, to negate anyone else from hearing the information. "Just before you came, there was a man dressed in red in here asking questions…questions about you." She reported, waving back at Catalina who just happened to be boisterously screaming her name.
"What did he look like?" Priscilla leaned in again to answer Kane’s inquiry, but was halted by the presence of another costumer. "Hold on, be right back" She said moving to the other side of the diner. Pushing away from the counter Kane joined his daughter in the booth sharing a bit of her fries. "HEY!" she begin to protest.
"You know I had to eat the poison right" he smirked, before heading back to the counter to continue his rendezvous with Pricilla.
"Yeah he was a frail little man, looked Asian, balding a bit; but he had a golden chain around his neck, it kind of looked like a little cardinal bird."
"Ziccarra…" Kane whispered pulling away from the counter; he felt the mentioned man standing right behind him. "Han." Kane said eying the small man. "The Red Cardinal Queen, Ziccarra Liafador requests your presence meet her at these coordinates. Mr.Liafador please don’t try to run; I don’t think I need to remind you what the Cardinals will do to this town." Han turned to exit only to be stopped by Kane’s powerful hand.
"How’d she find me?" Han released a prickly chuckle before skillfully swiping Kane’s hand from his shoulder. "I hardly think that matters now." He said, placing his hat on his head before heading back out into the busy streets.
"Papi?" Cat’s voice broke his anger, but only for a moment. "Two ice creams please" He said, looking at Pricilla with the same coolness and ease he entered with. "Let’s go darling" he said, watching the young toddler get messy with both her ice cream cones.
Kane said nothing the entire walk home; in the simple stroll from the diner to his villa he counted at least fifty Red Cardinal guards eying him both near and far. Despite being heavily outnumbered, he still had somewhat of an upper hand. He had not engaged in combat since his last altercation with Ziccarra, but was confident in his abilities to defend his home.
Entering the villa he was greeted by Ziccarra’s Cardinal scout "Dynasty" He said, staring at the heavily tattooed, heavily pierced; redhead beauty. "Kane…" she whispered amorously, eying the young Cat cowering behind Kane’s leg.
"She has come to kill you." She warned, but she spawned nothing but a laugh from Kane. "M’dear you look hardly ready to engage in a fight." He said, eying her nearly exposed Amazonian frame. "You look as if you just came back from a Diddy video." He jested, eying her backside extended way past the limits of her shorts.
"I came to see you once more, I do not know if this will be the last time we get to see each other. I just wanted to be with you one more time" She whispered, slowly sauntering toward the former Liafador Patriarch.
"Heh, I see. Catalina." He commanded, taking his young daughter by the wrist and bringing her in front of him. Bending down to eye level he intimately kissed his daughter’s forehead before giving her a block of instructions. "Daddy has some grown people business to get to, I want you to go next door and ask Ms. Campos if you can play with Manuel." He saw the fire light into Cat’s eyes, she loved playing with Manuel; watching as she sped off with glee he rose to meet the Cardinal grunt with lust. She was his high school sweetheart, the one that loved him before the whispers of the machines begin to corrupt his head.
"Dynasty…there are scouts all around us, you will be killed when you return." He warned taking the warm busty Cardinal in arms. "I know, but I am ready to face the consequences of my actions." She whispered again, kissing down the shaft of Kane’s neck. "Wait…" He said, pushing away; reaching in the farthest reaches of his pockets he pulled out a small white pill and broke it down the middle. He very subtly feared for her life with no regard to his own—as she feared for his life with no regard to her own.
This ecstasy pill would allow them to forget the coming hours and the fears they would eventually bring. Popping all her buttons in route to ripping her blouse; the two fated lovers engaged each other without regard to any inanimate object in their path.
Catalina spent at least three hours away from the house, time the two lovers used in its entirety. As the young toddler strolled into her father’s room, she saw her father resting peacefully while the woman from before was drenched in…"ketchup?" Cat wondered trying to figure out why this woman didn’t get in trouble for having it all over the bed.
There was another woman standing stoically at the head of the bed just watching Kane rest peacefully, she hadn’t even acknowledge Catalina’s presence. Kane woke in a stupor seeing the blood pouring from Dynasty’s gut. "YOU!!!" He screamed, leaping from the bed only to have the psionic powers of ‘Isabella Marisol’ halt him where he stood.
"DADDY!" Cat screamed, alerting them all to the young girl’s presence. "Ahhh so this is her…she looks exactly like Ziccarra." Marisol remarked patting the catty young girl atop her head.
"Who are you…" Kane asked struggling to break free of the psionic power of Marisol. "Isabella…Marisol" Dynasty gurgled with a wasted last breath. "She’s partially correct" Marisol said, reducing Kane to his knees.
"My real name is Zedora, I’m the one who gave you the idea to create this little one" She said, pointing toward Catalina. Catalina begin to punch and claw at Zedora, but her psionic shield prevented her from feeling anything. "You’re late, Ziccarra is waiting for you" Zedora commanded shoving Catalina back a good bit.
"The whispers…those were you" Kane struggling finally piecing together the situation. "Correct, you thought you were making scientific breakthroughs on your own accord? I was helping you. Catalina will be influential sometime in the future, I just know it. Get your ass up, and meet Ziccarra like we told you" She said dissipating in a thick blue blur.
"She’s not a very nice magician" Cat said, rising to her feet dusting herself off. "CATALINA! GET OUT OF HERE!" her father erupted in an explosion of anger and sorrow. "I’m going I’m going no need to yell" she said, still ignorant to the entire situation.
An hour later.
After sobbing and plotting for a good bit of time Kane appeared in full combat suit ready to face his sister and a large assortment of Red Cardinals. As he entered their radius he could see the druid-like cronies standing with lit torches across the vast green pasture. Standing in the middle of a Cardinal "Ring of Fire" Kane’s eyes scanned the area and pin-pointed Zedora amongst them.
A moving figure at the back of the circular formation pushed forward, she was intoxicatingly beautiful, long black hair, pacific blue eyes, and she now had an athletic build; which was a distinct change from previous encounters.
"Ziccarra" He whispered, watching as one by one the Cardinals begin to bow in respect to their queen.
"Hmm." He jested, still standing firm In the face of this beautiful terror. Beauty filtered through each of her Iberian pores, yet she was known for being a barbaric murderer to those that crossed her. "The Modern Day Athena, the Warrior Queen, and my favorite Ziccarra the Impaler; You’ve always had a thing for the theatrics". He jested again watching as the red clad War Queen stopped just a few short inches in front of him.
"Even in the face of death you joke" Her voice was soft, not something someone would attribute to a warlord. "In this family, your real face is just a mask. We are the face of death" Kane replied, trying to gauge the level of control Zedora had on his sister.
"Ja, I like that" Z said, removing her sword from a Red Cardinal emblem pillow. "Kane, for your sins against the Red Cardinals and--most importantly; our family I sentence you do death. By order of The Liafador family Matriarch"
"I gotcha, but someone wants to meet you first" stepping out from behind her father’s hulking frame was Catalina. The timid little child placed her index finger in her mouth before smiling at Ziccarra with a wide grin.
Z couldn’t help it, she knew who this child was; and even though she did not give birth to her; she would never mentally deny that it was indeed her child. "Catalina…" Ziccarra said, dropping to her knees to greet the five year old.
There wasn’t a strand in Catalina’s DNA that wasn’t identical to Ziccarra’s, "She looks exactly like me" She said, astonished with the turn of events. "Are you my mommy?" Cat asked, standing just inches away from the Cardinal Queen.
"No, I am your aunt" Z replied, stroking the jet black hair of Catalina as if she were her mother. It was in her answer that Kane’s eyes darted toward Zedora. The machine matriarch was actively using her powers of influence over Ziccarra to forge her responses.
"Why would you bring her?" Ziccarra asked, picking the small child up; but not removing her eyes off Kane. "I wanted you to see her, and for her to see you. Who knows what’s going to happen to her one all this is done."
The face of the warrior queen remained unchanged; her ambitions overruled every one of her moral inhibitions. "My dear brother, just because I have no wish to kill you in front of the eyes of the little one; it does not mean I won’t." Ziccarra hissed placing the young child back on the ground so that she may run back to her father.
"For right now…you may go" Ziccarra said reluctantly; turning back in the direction she came. "My dear sister… you are ticking" Kane replied with a stern grin.
"Damnit!" Ziccarra screamed, snagging the small mine Catalina placed off her person before chucking it high into the air. "Catalina run!" Kane commanded, ducking for cover under the airborne eruption. "Damn it Kane you have forced my hand! After her, she is not to be harmed!" Ziccarra commanded.
On her command the flock of Cardinals gave chase to the small five year old girl through the surrounding pastures. Kane seized the opportunity, it was now him versus her; just the way he wanted. "She’ll attack close…I need to keep her off me" he noted, just like he predicted Ziccarra brought her Black Rose blade streamlining towards his chest. A quick side step and a flick of his wrist misdirected her blade; and gave him the opening he needed, bringing his right elbow across the top; he sent it smashing into the face of Ziccarra, causing the Warrior Queen to tumble back a good distance.
Dropping a small smoke grenade on the ground the Renegade Liafador hid himself amongst the smoke to conceal his strategic movements. He could see her standing firm with her blade, her elegant dress bellowing lightly in the small gale that push through the area.
Unsheathing his Katana the lightning count launched himself from the smoke shroud aiming for Ziccarra’s shoulder; a tactic that was ill-fated as the quick thinking of Ziccarra allowed her to evasive roll out of the way.
"I see that training with Faatina in Tibet has made you all the wiser." Kane applauded, continuing a series of berserk horizontal slashes. Ziccarra said nothing, instead she continued to block his relentless strikes until she saw an opening.
Dropping her free hand back to the slit in her dress; she retrieved a securely tucked dagger from her pantyhose, with a minute flick of the wrist she sent it sailing through the left leg of Kane—ending his vicious assault and temporarily giving her the edge.
Executing a striking, yet clever pirouette her blade drew blood diagonally across Kane’s chest. He almost immediately fell to the ground on his back still gasping for air.
"Go...head...Kill me" He whispered through the involuntary shaking of his body. "I must admit Kane that was a horrible display. I won’t even give you the honor of dying at my hand."
Ziccarra sheathed her blade with disgust and headed back in the direction of her camp. "Did we retrieve Catalina?" She asked, watching the remaining Cardinal members watched pulled guard on Kane. "No she got away… sewer system"
Ziccarra’s eyes went back to her downed brother, "Give him the bloody eagle, and let’s return to Malaga."
When he came too, Kane could feel his upper extremities’ tied Christ like on two adjacent trees.
"Heh…Ziccarra the impaler" he jested again, he couldn’t bring himself to fully laugh; Catalina was out there all on her own. It was his foolishness that brought her in this, had he just given up; his baby girl wouldn’t have been in the world by herself.
His gaze shifted from the grass to the vermillion boots of his lovely sister standing just inches away from him. Along with some of the most gruesome looking Cardinals, she bore the legendary mask of Cortez—a tool she didn’t bother to dispatch in their bout.
"Back in the times of our great ancestors, the generals in the Norse Pagan religion would do what is called a "Bloody Eagle" to opposing generals. It was supposed to send their enemies to Valhalla only if certain conditions were met." Ziccarra explained, watching as her executioners moved toward Kane.
"Now my dear brother, if you don’t make the slightest sound during this ordeal. You will have an honorable death. The two guard begin to break Kane’s ribs on both side, He clenched his teeth together; the pain burned deep within his chest.
A crimson glow crept across his face; he fought the urge to keep, at least until one of the executioners daggers split his back open. Blood cascade from all sides of his body along with those vital organs his ribcage would’ve provided protection for.
The deafening screams cause nearby birds to flood the skies with their presence, he could feel their hands inside his back grasping his lungs. "What the …fck! Did….you to me…" his sentence was broken by his own intake of oxygen. His lungs were outside his body expanding each time he took a breath; drip by drip; blood littered the small patch of grass underneath him.
The Cardinals circled the gruesome sight with their Queen in the middle; her hands extended outwards absorbing the praise from her subordinates. "As the Queen of the Cardinal Nation. I forgive you for your sins" She said, watching as the life left her renegade brother.
"What of Catalina…" one of the Cardinals asked, wondering what their queens’ plans for the young child were. "Find her, and when you do bring her to Malaga." Ziccarra commanded heading back to her tent.
Cat sat helplessly on the curb of a nearby bar with her head between her legs, and her hands playing with the strap of her navy blue Mary Janes. For hours people would walk up to her and ask what she was doing there, only those that asked in English were given a response. "I’m waiting on my daddy" is what she would say before going back to playing with her shoes; however now she was beginning to get hungry and tired. She wanted a glass of milk and her stuffed bunny, but it didn’t seem like any of that was going to happen.
Rising to her feet Cat readied herself to set off and find her father, before she was able to take a step; a black van pulled up right beside the sidewalk halting her movement. "Daddy…" She whispered, only to have three armed men jump out the back and converge on her location.
Running wasn’t an option, neither was fighting back. A tight grip secured her lithe limb before pushing her toward the back entrance of the van. As the door opened she was thrust unceremoniously inside. Her small frame landed coarsely on the feet of another captive.
It didn’t take long after landing in the van for the young child to begin a boisterous wail. Her presence startled the rest of the captives, particularly the female ones. "Caiente!" many of them screamed, but her ignorance to the Spanish Language prevented her from hearing the protest.
Swift kicks from both the left and right sought to stop the young toddler from crying , but they only succeeded in further agitating Cat. "Pearate!" A young woman screamed taking Cat in her arms; her eyes scanned the other captives with disgust as she tried to console Cat. She stood about 5’8, long black hair; her skin tone hinted a Hispanic background; but her high cheek bones suggest more indigenous origins.
"It will be ok" She said, bouncing the toddler on her knee to appease the bawling grief-stricken child. After a twelve hour drive stuffed in the back of a van, the captives were off-loaded inside a warehouse; where showers and food awaited them.
"Where are we?" Someone asked Cat wanted to know the same thing; she could tell she’d been taken from the area she knew due to the staleness of the air. "Bogota" another person answered recognizing the capital city of Columbia written on a nearby manhole.
"<SHOWER AND EAT NOW!>" they screamed in Spanish causing the teen to once again assume responsibility of Catalina. "Hey" she called bending down to eye level to meet the young girl. "My name is Cherish, what’s yours?"
Cat gave her a timid look before responding with a finger jammed in her mouth. "Catalina…" Her eyes shied away to the nude persons walking into the shower with little privacy. "Hey, hey; stay focused on me" Cherish instructed obstructing her view.
"Listen, we have to wash up and eat now, you like that?" Cat gave an expedient head nod before trying to look back at the captives showering.
"I know, your stomach was growling the whole way here" Cherish continued pulling Cat’s attention back to her. "Now this is what’s going to happen, I’m going to bath you, and then I’m going to bathe. While I’m bathing I want you to eat. Is that understood?"
"Yes ma’am" Cat replied, being lead to the shower area. It didn’t take Cherish too long to bathe Cat, or herself for that matter. Doing as she was instructed the young toddler ate the food she was provided and awaited the return of Cherish.
Despite the circumstances of their capture, most of the captives didn’t seem to mind the accommodations. A lot of them were taken from rough lives; some of them hadn’t eaten in days, for a select few of them this was salvation. For others, like Catalina; this was a terrifying time—her fragile mind had zero understanding of her current situation.
"So, little one what were you doing on the street corner? Where were your parents?" She didn’t know the answer to the latter of Cherishes questions; but the trust was building between the two—so it couldn’t hurt to tell could it?
"I was running from a buncha scary men in red." Cat replied watching as new armed gunmen entered the warehouse. "Scary men in red?" Cherish repeated, supplementary questions would have to wait; these new armed guards begin splitting the captives up, the women and Catalina in one line; and the men in another.
Following Cherish into another room the women were met by a husky Columbian man in his late forties with small patches of grey hair and, all the gold jewelry a woman could want.
"Ladies, Ladies" his voice was laced with a heavy accent; Cat thought it was funny, but she didn’t dare laugh especially since Cherish didn’t. "I have saved you from your current situations, I have job for you all" He said, pouring himself a glass of Cristal.
Judging from the gaze on Cherish’s face Cat could see the fat man was alluding to something she wasn’t ok with.
"We are like partners. If you take care of me ladies, I will take care of you. Now with that said, is there anyone that does not want job with me". Cat’s raise only because select people around them did, but her hand was immediately brought back down by Cherish, the perceptive teen knew a man wouldn’t go through the trouble of kidnapping people just to allow them to leave.
"Ahhh I thought so" he gave a not so subtle head nod, the guards escorted those not willing to partake in the Columbians plans into another room.
He waited patiently for the entirety of women to be escorted out; before addressing those that decided to stay. "You girls will not be disappointed" He said, taking note to Catalina standing between Cherish’s legs.
"Oh?" He grunted feeling the recoil from his drink; his eyes quickly dart to Cherish and then back down to Catalina. He wasn’t the smartest man, but he knew how to extract the truth when he needed to. The eyes of Cherish were misleading, he could tell that; but the eyes of Catalina told no tales. Dropping to his knees before Cat he asked a simple question.
"Is this your mami?" Cat immediately shook her head no; she could faintly feel Cherish exhaling expectantly. "I see." He turned around to one of the armed guards, and whispered something into his ear. "Yes sir." The guard replied storming in Catalina’s direction, about half way to her a thunderous eruption of gunfire resound throughout the adjacent room. Cat’s heart immediately begin to pound a certain anxiety of being separated from her temporary care provider caused her to fight in protest, as the guard once again gripped her tiny arm; she immediately begin to protest by calling for Cherish.
With the commanding presence of the Columbian pimp standing in front of her, Cherish didn’t dare to protest them taking Catalina, but she was ok with the idea that Cat wasn’t being taken into the room where gun fire was heard.
"Don’t you worry your pretty little face chika, if you do good work for daddy. You will see her again" he reassured with a menacing grin.
"Everyone is leaving me" Cat said, dragging her feet before breaking down in a full blown wail. The guard tried his hardest to pick drag the little girl, but even with the aggressive tugging he was not able to move the stubborn child.
<Fck this!"> He screamed aiming his fully automatic weapon in the ignorant child’s face like it meant anything to her.
"<WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?> A woman screamed from not too far off. The guard immediately retracts his weapon in shame; a frail older woman stalked the halls with her cane arriving to Catalina’s aid. "I told Emilo he needs better help".
The old granny pushed the gunmen back and helped Cat to her feet, "I suppose you are the child, they were bringing into to assist me" she said wiping Cat’s clothes down.
"Ahh Mama" Emilo called out walking with the line of remaining girls. Cherishes face lit up at the sight of Catalina, before entering the tunnel the women were instructed not to say anything; so instead of openly rejoining she kept her words to herself.
"Emilo, you need to do something about this guard" the old woman said, walking past with Catalina in tow. "Consider it done mama", his voice faded out the further down the tunnel they went, eventually the young girl flinched at the sound of a gunshot, followed by a body hitting the floor. "What’s your name child?"
Five years later
"Ahhh Catalina it’s nice to see you" Don Emilo remarked with his legs crossed lighting his cigar. "Hello Daddy, It’s nice to see you too" She said, planting herself atop his crossed legs. "I have your money too" she said, removing his money from her bra. "Ahh looks like a busy night" He said, counting his money in full.
"It’s sickening how many people would pay for the services of a ten year old" A crusty old lady said, coming from the adjacent room. "I suppose not much more sickening than one that would offer the services of said ten year old" Cat’s eyes lit up at the sight of the old woman. "Abuelita!" She screamed, rushing to hug the warm old woman.
"How are you young child?" She asked stroking the straight black hair of Catalina."I’m fine; Cherish and I got an apartment on the west side with the money we’ve been making." She said taking the woman’s hands into her own.
"Six-thousand dollars…nice" Emilo grunted, handing Catalina one grand for her pay-off. "Child, what do you know of your mother?" the old woman asked much to the protest of Don Emilo. "I never met my mother; she was killed sometime after I was born." Cat explained, though she was a bit confused as to why she wanted to know, she generally had no problem explaining to "her" abuela anything.
"My father was killed by my aunt, on the night I was picked up by Emilo. Um...excuse me, Don Emilo" The tender old woman ponder to herself for a moment, Emilo could see something plagued his mother’s mind but didn’t exactly want to discuss what; with Catalina present. "Catalina a moment please" Emilo insisted rising to part with Catalina.
"Of course, I have things to do anyway" She said placing two kiss on both his cheeks before slipping back out into the Columbian morning.
"Ma why you bring up her family, she es whore; not a part of this family" Emilo protested taking a puff of his cigar. The tender old woman took a seat in Emilo’s chair before answering her son’s question. "Well mijo, that girl at such a young age is drop dead gorgeous; I have a hunch that she is a part of a family we are not equipped to deal with."
Emilo shrugged in his arrogance, he cared not for Catalina’s past, but for her ability to continue bringing in copious amounts of money. "Well…when they come they can pay two-fifty and hour for her like everyone else!" He screamed which transitioned into a panicky chuckle.
Cat walked the distance from Emilo’s compound to her supplier’s home in search of some powder. In her line of work, she’d met tons of clients that offered the mystic powder to her; she’d naturally grown accustom to it—in other words, she was addicted. Just a few steps from his home Cat ran into a busty Columbian woman and her blonde haired child. This woman was breathtaking, she had very distinct curves and eyebrows; and stood nearly 6 foot with the aid of her red bottoms.
"Oh excuse me" Cat said, opting to take the route around the woman, midway around her she could feel the woman’s eye’s burning through the side of her face. "Can I help you?" She asked with an aggressive overtone.
"No, jew look like mi hernana, but jewer much too young to be hur" the woman responded with a thick Colombian accent. Cat’s eyebrows rise a bit, not out of curiosity; but as if she was saying "Bitch-please". Walking up the tri-step to Paco’s home she could feel the woman still looking at her, but chose not to give the woman anymore of her time.
Instead of knocking, she waltzed right into the drug dealer’s home and made herself comfortable. "I can’t believe you leave the door open, you’re like the exact opposite of what a drug dealer is supposed to be." She teased, handing him a c-note for meager amount of coke.
"Ha! Or maybe it’s just my way of saying I’m not a drug dealer." Paco replied, cutting a small amount of powder into a bag for Cat, he gave her just a little bit more than she paid for because he liked her. "You better hope Don Emilo see’s it that way" She warned standing to retrieve her powder.
Paco was a close friend, he was one of the people kicking her trying to get her to shut up just five years prior. At fifteen years old, he gained favor of Don Emilo after getting rid of most of the competition in his neighborhood.
"I got to go; Cherish is probably waiting on me. Later love" She said, stashing the coke in her purse. Heading back up the block to her apartment, she caught a glimpse of a balding Asian man eying her from across the street.
"I’m so fucking done with the weirdoes today" she grunted dropping her purse on the ground in search of Cherish. "What the fuck is that?" Cat asked, watching as Cherish placed a crucifix above their living room wall.
"It’s the Lord God Jesus Christ" Cherish responded, stepping down off the step ladder. "I didn’t know you were religious." Cat said eying the crucifix with indifference. "Catholic to be exact, You did know I was religious, remember I tried like three times to get you to come to mass with me".
"Oh right, I seriously thought you were high all those times. Speaking of high" Cat’s luxuriant gaze swiftly shifts to her knock-off clutch bag. "I got a little something sweet from Paco". Strutting towards her purse, Cat removed the powder and turned back to see an apprehensive Cherish.
"What’s wrong?" Cat asked somewhat confused. "I thought we agreed you were much too young to be doing that stuff." The thought cause Cat to scoff, "Oh I forgot, I’m not too young to lay on my back and allow a man to dry hump me for ten minutes, but god forbid I snort a bit of coke…it’s too adult" She replied sardonically.
"I thought you were going to try and get a small acting gig?" Cherish asked, placing the screw-driver back in the toolbox.
"That’s easier said than done. Christ, you bring your little Jesus ornament into the house; now you want to be all holy. Less holy more whoring" Cat didn’t want anything to do with the conversation; if Cherish didn’t want any it just meant more for her.
"Don’t you insult God!" Cherish screamed, her face burning an ornate candy apple red. "Ok, so I guess we’re having this conversation. Cat said, placing her bag down.
"That man right there is the most glorified superhero in the history of fiction. Just like the idiots flying around currently, you think they give two fucks about what people like us are going through? Every superhero is too busy stopping the apparent threats, not giving a second look to street rat bitches like us and what we go through. If Jesus really did die for our sins, then he has blessed all the dicks we’ve sucked for the last five years."
Cherish said nothing, instead of engaging Catalina’s blasphemous with scripture; she instead chose to storm off to her room. "Fuck…" Cat hissed, realizing she managed to piss off her only real friend. Gazing at the crucifix Cat shook her head and poured a line.
She lay completely ignorant to the last three hours, and what exactly she did in that time period but it was early in the morning now, the thunderous pounding on her front door woke her from a deep yet meaningless slumber. Stumbling towards the door she opened it; only to be greeted by a frantic Paco.
"What the fuck do you want, I’m off" she hissed. Paco pushed his way in, to the dismay of Cat; and begin pacing around the front room. "Cat, I fucked up!" He screamed, still pacing back and forth.
His bruises suggest he’d been robbed, but Cat’s inability to show sympathy cause an ill-timed joke to escape her lips. "Well you practically left the door open" Paco turned with a serious visage; and went back to pacing.
"I went out to make a sell, and got jumped and robbed" she knew it would happen; it was only a matter of time. "Don Emilo’s not going to be happy" She said, folding her arms across her chest.
"I know he already sent his goons to shoot up my place." Paco replied frantically with his hands on his head. "SO WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU COME HERE?!" her irate wail undoubtedly woke Cherish from her sleep, and caused a few nearby dogs to begin barking.
"I-I didn’t have anywhere else to go" he cried, but his tears drew no response from the already livid Catalina.
"Cat, what’s going on?" Cherish asked descending the steps with sleep still in her eyes. "Genius here got robbed, Emilo’s trying to kill him and he came here!" Cat screamed again, her irate response drew another irate response from Cherish. "Why the fuck would you come here, now he’s going to think we’ve been helping you!"
Their hearts stopped at faint knock of the door, Cherish moved towards the door remaining light on her feet to prevent anyone from hearing her on the outside. "It’s some Asian man…" Cherish reported, causing Catalina to strut towards the door.
"That’s the asian guy I saw earlier today…he was watching me from across the street. What does he want?" Cat asked, trying to whisper. "I don’t know Cat; let me use my telepathy to find out?" Cherish responded sardonically.
"I can hear you ladies, I just want to speak with you; I do wish you hurry." Cat sighed and opened the door to the dismay of both Cherish and Paco. Four men dressed in all red burst through the door, followed by the Asian man.
"Ahhh there you are Paco." He said giving the frantic teen a hand wave. "Scary men dressed in red" Cherish whispered, remembering what a young Catalina told her years ago.
"These are the guys who robbed me!" Paco screamed, noting the small Cardinal bird on the hand of the Asian man. "Oh right." The small Asian man remembered, digging inside his trench coat he pulled out a small pistol and shot Paco in the head without hesitation.
The gunshot cause both Cherish and Catalina to scream, their bodies begin to involuntarily quiver in fear as the Asian man descended upon them.
"Ms. Liafador, my name is Han. I was a friend of your father" the Asian said, removing his hat in a display of cordiality. Cat looked at Cherish as if he was talking to her, but as he drew near it became clear he meant her.
"What’d you call me?" Cat asked a bit perplexed. "I called you Ms.Liafador, you know; your last name" Han explained, handing Cat a picture of her father.
"Wait…I remember you. You were in the diner the day my father died!" She said, lashing out at the man only to have Cherish pull her back.
"Yes, I forgot to mention I am also a friend of your mother." The revelation cause Cat to cease; she knew nothing about her mother, and up to this point the only thing she was told; was that they look exactly like one another.
"What about my mother?" she asked finally deciding to lower her guard. "She has enlisted me to help find you, and here you are." He said, handing her a small decorative pamphlet containing information on Ziccarra and the Red Cardinals.
"That’s not true, my mother died" Cat said turning to Cherish with her green eyes beginning to mist over in possible tears. "It’s a lie your father told you to conceal your mothers’ true identity. Your mother is the High Queen of the Red Cardinals Organization, Ms. Ziccarra Liafador."
"The Cardinals are a terrorist organization" Cherish added, causing a slight rise in Han’s temperament. "Hardly." Han rejected.
"Wait…Ziccarra Liafador; I met her…on the day my father was killed. She told she was my aunt; she then killed my father?" As she spoke it, Cat could feel herself getting overwhelmed by the information Han was putting down.
"Your father went against the Liafador Family rules when he created you, you were scientifically crafted containing the DNA of both Kane and Ziccarra Liafador respectively, and they are…brother and sister." Han revealed watching as Cat nearly broke down to tears.
"Whoa, let’s remember she’s still a child, an impressionable one at that; you don’t think there was a subtler way of dropping this Springer show bullshit on her?" Cherish intervened clutching Cat with a sisterly embrace.
"I could have sent it in a tweet" Han replied sardonically, showing signs of agitation with Cherish.
"I suppose you want me to come back with you." Cat said, wiping the tears from her face. "Negative, my mission was just to inform you of your lineage, and provide you with adequate protection should you need it." His hands motioned toward the four hood red sentries standing quietly in the room.
"Should you ever need them, they will come to aid you." He said, placing his hat on preparing to exit. "What did you kill Paco for?" Cherish asked throwing herself in front of Han.
"To send a message to Don Emilo, one I think he will receive soon enough." The Cardinals exited first, allowing Cherish to ask one more question on the behalf of the seemingly traumatized Catalina.
"How did you guys even find her?" Han released a placid smile, and motioned towards Cat. "A woman named Sofia informed us of a child that looked exactly like Ziccarra; naturally we looked further into it."
"The woman with the huge tits…" Cat whispered, realizing her expansive family seemed to have connections everywhere.
"Until next time m’dear." He said, exiting the apartment following in-tow behind the Cardinals carrying Paco’s body.
"Fuck…you got anymore of that powder?" Cherish jested trying to break the tension in the aftermath of Han’s departure. Cat didn’t need to say anything; Cherish could see that the information hurt her soul. Despite her seemingly grown nature; the small aspects of Catalina’s child mentality begin to shatter. It was evident in her inability to stop her legs from shaking. The young child opened her mouth many times to speak, but nothing ever came out.
Grinding mental fatigue plagued her brain, learning that she was nothing more than a science experiment and an assumed freak in her own mothers’ eyes brought the young child to the verge of tears. "Kitty?" Cherish called out, to no avail Cat didn’t care to share her feelings. "I’m going back to bed" She replied rising pass the concerned Cherish.
As she lay seemingly lifelessly in bed; an insatiable hatred descend upon her; a fire that ravage the innards of her body leaving an intense feeling of low self-worth, the faces of the cunts responsible for her current mood burned vividly in her mind.
Reaching underneath her mattress she retrieved a large kitchen knife, her actions were entirely motivated by her current mood; she hadn’t a clear thought. As the knife stretched across her upper extremities; could feel the tension and pressure being released in the form of a euphoric ecstasy. Blood drip down her wrist on both sides; yet there was very little pain, both the physical and mental pain eventually negated each other entirely.
The mid-morning begin to set in and the blood already begin to dry in her sheets, the pleasure she experienced just hours earlier; was not present. Her wrist burned; and she lacked the energy to willingly pull herself from the bed.
"hnnn" She grunted, the entire right side of her face dressed in an ornate red from her own blood. "Cher…" her weak and raspy voice didn’t carry past her front door. After numerous tries to alert Cherish; she eventually gave up, allowing herself to turn back over she embraced whatever fate was coming towards her.
"Kitty, I know you’re down, but I made some chocolate pudding to lift your spirits!" Cherish screamed joyfully outside her door. On suspicion that the young child might’ve actually left, Cherish entered the room just to be sure. "OH MY GOD! CATALINA!" She screamed, running to the aid of the incapacitated child.
Cat took a prolonged glance at the machine she was involuntarily hooked up to, she was thankful that Cherish managed to find her in time; but wouldn’t have minded just dying either. "It’s a very confusing time" She heard the doctor tell Cherish, Indeed it was; now that she survived an apparent suicide attempt Cat felt nothing from here on out would be the same.
"Well I just spent whatever little money I had to get you taken care of, so you’re birthday will be lack luster" Cherish started, running her hands across the glossy porcelain skin of Catalina. "Turning eleven can suck it" Cat whispered with a crusty tone.
"What were you thinking Kitty?" Cat watched as Cherish folded her arms, she couldn’t help but release a timid chuckle. "It just hurt ya know? I’ve been waiting to hear the exact details of my origins and…and"
"They weren’t what you expected" Cherish finished once again running her hands across Cat’s head. "Promise me you won’t try this again" Cat never said anything; she instead nodded her head in agreement. "I would honestly be more comfortable with you killing people, than killing yourself" Cherish jested again, pulling up a chair beside Cat.
"I watched you grow over the last five; almost six years and I’ve got a theory" Cherish started, taking Catalina’s hand within her own. "Five years? You must be some sort of expert" Cat replied sardonically.
"Well, I don’t know too many ten year olds with your….build; you look like a full blown teenager. The genetic modifications your father made must be the cause. It would also explain why you’re able to learn things so fast without once stepping foot inside a school."
It made sense, it was a theory Cat was comfortable accepting, she picked up complex concepts fast; and even at the age of 10—going on 11; she already had the body build of a teenage model. "Is that something you just thought of on the whim?" Cat asked with a slightly raised curious brow.
"Actually, I was thinking it’s probably time to start buying you tampons, because I’ll be damned if you’re going to use all mine" Cherish replied with a hearty laugh. Cat could do nothing but reciprocate the laughter; the thought of maturing into woman never really crossed her mind.
"I suppose you’ll have to actually teach me how to use one, and I must say if you thought the blood on my bed was icky; that was just from my wrist"
"OH MY GOD EW" Cherish interrupted, throwing her hands in front of her face to conceal her disgust in the form of laughter.
"You know, I’ve known you for five years; and I’ve never once asked you about where you come from. I mean you’re practically my mother, and I don’t know the slightest thing about you; other than your distaste for peanuts. " Cat said, placing her gaze back on the ceiling.
"I’m from Los Angeles, In the United States" Cherish responded almost as if she didn’t want to answer. "How’d you end up down here with me?"
A long exaggerated sigh escaped her lips. "Had I known you were going to ask me all this today, I would’ve stopped and got some vodka. My real name is Naweya, my family are descendents from Monamani Indian tribes in the great lakes areas. When I was 15, I ran away from the Rez to be with my boyfriend in Los Angeles. We got into a fight; I left and was picked up by Emilo."
Cat could tell that the story was really watered down, as if Cherish didn’t want to explain anymore; so for now Cat could only back off but she did have one more question. "So why Cherish?" She’d tried to figure it out since being told her real name; there was seemingly zero connection to Cherishes native origins.
"I was going to name my daughter Cherish, but…she didn’t make it" Cat’s eyes darted to Cherish only to fall on the sight of a woman torn by her own past. There was an eerie silence that descended upon them before Cat spoke again.
"Well, your boyfriend can suck it; he doesn’t know what a great woman you are, and a wonderful mother you turned out to be". She didn’t know the fate of Cherishes child, and it wasn’t her place to ask; but up to this point everyone she told her name to end up leaving her; "Cherish" didn’t—it felt good to know someone always had her back.
"Cat what did you want to do before this?" Cherish asked changing the conversation. "Well, I sort of wanted to be an actress; I still do actually, but we’re not really in the position to do what we want." Cat explained, sitting up in bed to take her medicine.
"Look, you’re done working for Emilo, come Monday morning; I’m enrolling you in school. It’s a performing arts school." Cherish sounded so sure, she spoke without the slightest hint of fear. "W-wait what? How do you plan on getting us out of work with Emilo?"
"It’s all in the works kitty trust me" Cherish reassured standing up to speak with Cat’s doctor. Walking into the hallway she turned her back towards Cat to meet the earnest looking doctor.
"What’s up doc? Can I take her home now?" She asked walking as his hands flipped through a stack of papers. "Yes, she’s free to go, but I wanted to bring your attention to something; Cat is in the early stages of a psychological illness known as Capgras Syndrome, we still know very little about it; but If you see any significant changes in her behavior please bring her back for a consultation." Cherish simply nodded before returning to her friend.
"Well get dressed kiddo we’re going home".