With the weather peeking above freezing-point and a bright sun in a near-cloudless sky, it's a surprisingly cheerful December day in horror-blighted Fallcoast. Aurore has proposed a meeting with her favorite Velma-alike, in their usual coffee-shop venue. The doctoral student is ensconced in an end booth, with her laptop and a steaming mug in front of her, and a plate of cookies ready to provide shared fortification against whatever delights they now have to discuss.
Amanda finally turns up, bundled up from the cold. She sees Aurore, but makes a detour to the counter. Coffee in hand, she makes her way to Aurore and sits opposite her. "Hey, how's it going?" she asks. She takes off her jacket, revealing a low-cut top revealing a fair amount of cleavage. "Got any news?"
Aurore's brows go up as her gaze drops down a bit... before she looks back up at Amanda's face and flashes a cheerfully amused grin. "Hi. I hope you have a scarf with you, in case the weather takes a turn for the colder," she teases, before nodding. "And yeah, some. Can't promise it's relevant, but it's certainly... suggestive. If perplexing."
Amanda glances down at her top and asks, adjusting the top, "It's not too suggestive, is it?" Smiling back, she says, "So what is it? Lay it on me!"
"I'd happily have you show off more," Aurore answers cheerfully, letting her gaze drop again to appreciate the adjustment. "Have you considered corsetry?" She winks, then looks to her laptop... sighing softly. Claiming her coffee, she leans back, cradling her mug in her hands. "Oh - help yourself, if you like." She gestures to the plate of cookies, taking a sip of her drink before continuing.
"I take it that you've at least *heard* of Quetzalcoatl? The most famous of the Meso-American deities. He's acquired a huge amount of post-conquest mythology around him, particularly in the last century or two. But... he was a very significant figure in Aztec mythology, and more broadly. He's the "feathered serpent": and veneration of a feathered serpent, if not by that specific name, seems to go back at least two thousand years."
"In Aztec times he had, as with most old deities who survive for a very long time, acquired a host of responsibilities and purviews and associated divine entities. He's often presented in pop-mythology now as a benign entity: protective, supportive, and really very nice. In reality, there are depictions of him eating humans head-first, and so on. He was benign in the sort of conception of benevolence that the Aztec priesthood had: he was their particular patron, and was also patron of knowledge, crafts, the arts, and of merchants. *Civilised* human interaction, one might say."
"If you want to get a closer look, all you have to do is ask," Amanda teases. "Have you thought about me in a corset?" she counters. She takes a cookie, and starts eating it as Aurore exposits. "So, is the thing we saw old Q, or an agent of his, so to speak?"
Aurore blinks, then laughs softly - blushing a little as she studies Amanda over her coffee. "If I were richer, I'd offer to take you shopping for one. I know of a decent corsetiere or two. But... potentially. Simply put: were we down in the heart of Mexico, in the lands where the Feathered Serpent was venerated, and *especially* in Aztec lands... then there'd be a... umm... parazoological entity that would fit the description to a tee. Reptilian, flappy, huge eggs, man-eating inclinations. But we're not in Mexico, or anywhere near it, so that's impossible, right?"
"Exceeept..." She shrugs slightly. "We do know of a restaurant with Aztec-style decoration, and a man called 'Nolberto' who has an active interest in both it and the old history building."
Amanda sits up at Aurore's response and shakes herself a little to get a reaction from her companion. She sighs. "Well, I don't really know of anyone who can get rid of something like this. Unless the Ghostbusters were real," she says.
Aurore's brows lift, then she chuckles. "I'm a taken woman, you know," she responds dryly. "But I do appreciate the view. And... I *suspect* that Nolberto and his associates - or at least a small minority of them - have a pretty good idea of what's there, and are trying to figure out how to deal with it. I'm pretty sure that they're not worshipping the incarnated Feathered Serpent, or the like. Or we'd have had a lot more of a response to our inquiries. A hostile response, I mean."
Amanda says, "No I didn't." She slurps her coffee, then says, "Yeah, I'd imagine cultists would be difficult to deal with. So what's our next move?" she asks.
A rather smelly man in old, ragged and frayed clothes sits at the booth opposite the pair. He is the stereotypical homeless man - unkempt beard, fingerless gloves, a blank look in his eyes. He does not seem to take much notice of the lovelies nearby. Instead he stares towards the counter.
"Ah, sorry." Aurore delves into her own (rather less extravagant) cleavage, drawing up a chain - on which is a rather nice gold ring, set with small red stones. "Domestic partners at present, but now engaged to be married," she says happily. "But I tend to hide it from students, and don't wear it when on the bike. But yes - love the cleavage. Happy to enjoy the view. You're quite lovely, and I know of some people who would be delighted to make your acquaintance if you were interested in modelling...."
"But more seriously? I was thinking of arranging another meeting. See if our acquaintance is willing to share any of his plans."
"Congratulations! I hope I get invited to the wedding!" Amanda exclaims. "What kind of modelling?" she asks, curiously. "If you think that's a good idea, I'll help you with it."
"We know who you are" the man mumbles to himself as he continues to stare forward. "We know who you are" he repeats at the same deadpan low volume.
"I suspect that I can swing one for you, yes," Aurore answers with a grin. "We don't remotely have a date set, as yet. But I think it's safe to say that my partner'd enjoy meeting you. For the modelling? There's a local fashion designer who likes 'alternative' options to conventional catwalk models: I suspect that she'd be happy to make use of you. And... well. The other photographer I know *locally* is rather more disreputable. While most of the ones I've worked with farther afield were into bikini modelling and the like. As for the meeting... yeah. If you want to come along, you're certainly welcome. It does carry the risk of being sucked further into all this. And you know it's dangerous. You *can* settle for having helped me thus far."
Then the man nearby catches her attention... and she casts a worried glance in his direction, double-checking her array of extra senses for any lurking ghosts or spirits.
"I'll keep myself covered, so your partner doesn't decide to get an upgrade in the bust department," Amanda teases. "Bikini modelling could be fun," she says. "Well, I've come so far, may as well keep going." She looks over to the homeless guy, then sidles out of the booth and walks over to him. "Excuse me, sir? Are you alright?" she asks, tentatively.
"We know who you are" repeats the man, seeming not to even notice Amanda...even in that top. His dark eyes start to lighten. Both eyes becoming entirely milky white as the women watch. It is only then that he looks up at Amanda. "We know who you are. And we're coming for you." He grins up at her, most of his teeth missing and leaving dark gaps...and a cockroach crawls out through one of those gaps and then down his chin.
Aurore boggles... then gulps audibly, before starting to hastily pack up her belongings. "I think we should go," she directs, sotto voce, to Amanda. "Like, right now."
"Oh Jesus fuck!" Amanda exclaims, bouncing backwards. She trots back to the booth and hastily puts her coat back on. "Yeah, lets, let’s go," she says. Once her coat's on, she grabs a cookie and shoves it in her mouth.
The man stares at them as they make their exit. "We know who you are" he repeats, a little louder this time, "And you will die!" His voice now a loud cackle as more insects crawl out of his clothes to swarm over his seat. Not the kind of thing that is wanted at a coffee shop.