This entry won second after cbishop's crushing effort called the The Skull Rosary which is also being made into a series. Because the future issues are writer's guild pieces I wanted readers to check this out without having to open spoiler bars and the like. Hope you enjoy and all comments, queries and questions are welcome.
The Patron Saint of Criminals
The plump Hispanic man dressed in jeans and a ripped t-shirt ran screaming into the church before slamming the doors closed behind him and placing a bar across the door, effectively barricading himself inside the abandoned 'house of god' alone in the dark, save the occasional flash of light as a car drove past. Drawing his pistol he heard a powerful knocking and scurried behind the alter preying that the block of wood would hold long enough for him to find a way out. With a snap the block cracked and the doors were flung open as a well built man dressed in leather and carrying a five foot sledge hammer in one hand and his own pistol in the other. "Juan Caso I know you're in here boy." The hammer wielder bellowed in a Texan accent. "Where are you you filthy little car jacker, you and I have a bounty to settle."
Juan gulped and watched as the man threw the hammer away, the shaft clanging on the floor, the sound echoing around the empty hall. "You know you are wanted dead or alive right?" The Texan stated drawing a second pistol. With a squeak Juan got down on his knees and begun to prey to the saints to be delivered from the bounty hunter's clutches safely. "Ah there you are." The hunter announced as he advanced down the aisle and levelled the pistol in his left hand at the back of Juan's head, the cold muzzle causing his quarry to drop his handgun. "Pray to the lord as much as you like, I know he doesn't listen much to thieves like you." He added, "Now do me a favour and come quietly." he ordered as he holstered his second pistol and reached down for a pair of cable ties before aggressively pulling Juan's hands together and binding them. "Now walk." he ordered dragging his captive to his feet and shoving him towards the direction of the door.
As they walked away a shadow moved from behind the alter causing the bounty hunter stopped dragging his hostage in front of him as a human shield. "Your games don't scare Ken Zimmerman. Now come on out before I do something I regret." The Hunter warned the lurking presence. In response a knife ricocheted off the floor and through the cable ties freeing Juan's hands just enough for him to pull away from his captor and scuttle into the nearest row of pews. "Don't go anywhere boy this ain't a rescue." He spat at Juan as he cowered behind his makeshift cover. Suddenly a shadowy figure sprinted across the front of the church and Ken opened fire, his bullets falling just short from hitting their target.
"This man is under my protection." An imposing female voice told Ken, the sound bouncing from all around the church. "Leave now or suffer the consequences."
"Cute you get your girlfriend to try and scare me?" Ken asked Juan before reloading his pistols, "You are all bluster Miss, and when I find you I will add what your worth to me total tonight."
"And what if I find you first?" The woman stated as Ken turned round to see a pale faced woman with cropped black hair standing behind him, her body clothed in close fitting combat trousers, lace shirt and black Kevlar jacket, her hazel eyes boring into him. Despite the accent she looked Asian and that threw Ken for an additional half a second, one his opponent used to her advantage as a cloud of smoke erupted from her hands, the mist biting his skin and eyes. With a roar that was equal part pain and anger Ken lunged only to be tripped, his momentum sending him flailing into the cold stone floor. Looking up his eyes burning from the smoke he watched as the woman removed a hand bow from her belt loaded a dart and levelled the weapon at his chest. "I am Siwang the Patron Saint of Criminals and this man is under my protection." The woman told Ken before firing the dart into his chest, the toxin on the tip acting swiftly as the once formidable bounty hunter collapsed into cardiac arrest."
From his hiding place Juan emerged cautiously, his head bowed trying to avoid eye contact with Siwang. "Gracias Senora." he mumbled before edging down to the alter to retrieve his gun, his eyes never leaving Ken's body. "If there is anything I can do for you I will be happy to repay you." he added hoping she wouldn't take him up on his offer.
"I have one thing to ask of you." Siwanag said, her eyes boring into his skull like those of a deadly serpent. "Tell your bosses and drinking buddies what happened here today. Tell them who saved you and that they would do well for me to pray for my services and that I am ready to offer them." After that she vanished slipping back into the shadows leaving the stammering criminal alone with his hunter, the sound of sirens far from the church all thanks to his mysterious saviour.
Detective James Grady shook his head as the EMTs loaded the 'dead' bounty hunter into the ambulance. For the last month El Paso had encountered at least eight other incidents were a wide range of people had been shot and killed with darts. The one thing they all had in common were that they were law enforcement figures, mostly police officers but a few bounty hunters and even a paramedic had turned up. All were being linked to the Patron Saint of Criminals, a new 'hero' for the underworld yet the truth was even stranger then the public knew.
"You think it's her?" His partner Gillian West asked.
"Eyewitness accounts show two men entering neither of them carrying the murder weapon." Grady answered, "The first was a carjacker the other was our victim. No sign of the 'Saint' but we are getting somewhere from our snitches. Apparently she is oriental and speaks with a Hispanic accent suggesting that she might be from Macau since we checked every woman who fits the description the first victim gave us before he died on route to hospital."
"Cop killers are the worst." West stated, "I can't believe she's lasted so long, usually the cartels are looking for ways to stay in the department's good graces to get a few extra favours when we bust their enforcers and traffickers."
"What can I say criminals are weird people?" Grady told her as he headed inside, "I'm just going to look inside." he added ducking into the church and heading into a confessional booth. Sliding the slat back he saw Siwang staring back at him clad in a hood. "I hope you used the Tetrodotoxin like the others?" he asked before watching her nod. "Good did you make any progress?"
"The Cartels are talking about me." Siwang stated, "I'm close to getting inside and once I am you will have their entire operation."
"Just be careful." Grady told her but by the time he had finished she was gone vanished back into the shadows."