* * *
The decrepit church coughed dust under Joaquin’s heavy footsteps. He ran a lazy hand over still standing pews, nose itching at the pervading piss scent, one too recent to ignore among the natural smell of destruction and abandonment. The graffiti demoralizing the walls preached a different kind of psalm to him, a cruelly written reminder that it was still and would always be a dog eat dog world, only now supers and defects were barking equally loud at each other. The painted cross on the opposite wall couldn’t substitute the one that had been stolen but it was a symbol nonetheless, red and full of sharp edges. Joaquin stared at it for the longest time imagining blood dripping from its base into a chalice, a Holy Grail that would touch the lips of the worthy, of the true rulers of this world. A loud bang to his left made his brow furrow, the mirage dissipating before his eyes angrily turned to slits. He cocked his head scolding Kid’s balancing act on an overturned chair.
The boy with the shadow of a blonde goatee on his thin, white face did as he was told, picking up the chair and placing it on its wobbly legs before sitting down. Cosma was studying the only stained glass intact by the flight of rocks by Xavier, and Nightwave was picking scattered leaflets off the ground. His boot kicked needles far under the pews, a disgust etched on his face.
“I used to come here on Sundays for my sister some years back. She sang in the choir.”
“Rough neighborhood?” Cosma quirked an eyebrow.
“The niners got the habit of drive-by shootings every other week. The pastor had some dealings with them putas and when he couldn’t pay, he ran for the border. Church never sent another pastor.”
Cosma whistled running slender fingers across her exposed throat, simulating a sliced gesture to Kid who smirked.
“Where’s the cop?” Quake asked.
Joaquin flinched at that honorific and at the motionless figure of the former guard, unamused by the locale. Betty looked half harmless to them so the snigger in their voices at the mention of her he couldn’t change, but her stance and the sharp glint in her eyes spoke much of her former life. She still didn’t want to admit she was a fugitive in a way after disappearing from her post at the SPD. Regardless of that she still acted the dutiful officer trying to nail in the no-harm-policy into their brand of vigilantism. Some bastards just had to be hurt; it wasn’t philosophy, it was street rules. Joaquin was dutiful too in that way. “She’ll be here.”
“Will you tell her?” Cosma probed, now standing close to Joaquin leaning over his shoulder matching his stance when he’d stared at the cross.
“What do you think? We need her.”