Chapter 20: Worthy (Baler Ko’oh)
Private Island north of Columbia
June 20th 12:15 am | 30 hours to Mayan chaa
Satisfied after his invigorating tryst with the beautiful and amorous diplomat’s wife, Juan Perez returns to the central mansion. While the gala winds down, hundreds will spend the night in one of the guest rooms, bungalows or anchored yachts, ensuring the party continues through the chaa. A few guests lounge around the pools or one of the garden fire pits drinking and entertaining each other, while not far away, two bungalow orgies rage on oblivious to the hidden cameras. His staff will serve drinks and gourmet desserts until dawn when they will switch to serving breakfast and coffee.
“Senor de Menendez,” greets Ramos Campos, Chairman of a bio-pharmaceutical firm in Brazil. “What an amazing gala. I was uniquely impressed with your museum, and inspiring videos.”
“Gracias Senor Campos,” he replies. “You are most kind. Why don’t you stay for the chaa celebrations,” he invites. “I would like to discuss how to leverage our strategic advantages in the global pharmaceutical market.”
“It would be my honor,” the executive shakes hands. “In fact, I have a cabin on La Amore, one of the yachts in the harbor, and look forward to the chaa celebrations.”
“Excellent, excellent,” encourages Juan Perez. “Then sleep well my friend,” he replies, kissing his wife on the cheek. “We will have the entire weekend ahead of us to talk of the future.”
In his mind, the gala has been a complete success, and it’s just getting started. The next two days will be the most exciting and rewarding of his life. When the time comes, these elite guests will welcome him to quell the anarchy of the masses.
His encrypted phone vibrates from Golan. His elevated mood sours instantly as he slips into a secluded room, closing the door for more privacy.
“What’s taking you so long?” he demands.
“We were ambushed,” reports Shay.
“Ambushed,” he roars. “How? Where?” He bites down his rage so guests won’t overhear.
“Team Beta found Barbareta abandoned. A complete search of the shacks and island turned up nothing, no relics, no old fool, nobody. On the return trip, the inflatable sank, probably sabotaged,” Shay spits out the news. “The waters were shark infested.”
“Sank,” Juan Perez bellows, lowering his voice a growl. “Idiot, if they sabotaged a zodiac they were on the damn island.”
Shay has no answer. Too many bungled assaults have the locals expecting attack.
“What happened in Belize?” Juan Perez hisses.
“Team Alpha advanced on the airport, but the target unexpectedly disappeared. We quickly tracked her to a nearby cantina, but it was too crowded for a direct assault. Before we could close in for the grab a stranger helped her to escape on a beat up salvage ship,” Shay explains. “There was a fire fight.”
“Hold on, you said an armed salvage ship. What ship?” he demands, suspecting the worst news. “Tell me the damn name.” He knows only one salvage ship with enough cohunes to shame Golan.
Silence hangs on the line until Shay finally admits, “Plunder Lust.”
An intense rage explodes within Juan Perez. That rusted piece of shit, and her American scab rat captain have been a thorn in his side for years, like cockroaches he can’t seem to crush, always a step ahead of him. Plunder Lust was last reported in Panama, so he can only assume Hurricane Stephanie chased them north, but how in the hell did he come to rescue the woman?
“Losses?” he snarls.
“Six on Barbareta, three in Belize, two Hummers, and another zodiac,” Shay sputters.
“And yet you dare to come back alive,” roars Juan Perez before biting his tongue.
Gripping his cell phone so hard, he cracks the casing as veins bulge in his neck. It’s inconceivable how a woman getting off an international flight or an aged lunatic could defeat his best men. Beyond incompetence, beyond poor planning, failures that could only be supernatural, cursed. Then the truth opens up like a sudden revelation. Shay and Gahard are crude tools, blunt instruments, and idiots unworthy of retrieving such a sacred blade. The blade of the maker is not just a piece of obsidian, and not just another artifact, the blade of the creator holds the power of creation and death. An omen to prophecy, meant for him, and for him alone. Of course, it should have occurred to him sooner. Only he can reclaim the sacred blade, the spirit of the creator demands that he prove himself for the right to rule an epoch.
“Wake up the flight crew and send them the ship coordinates, tell them to prepare for immediate take off,” he snarls. “I will lead this mission myself, and you dos idiotas are coming with me.”
He hangs up struggling to control his explosive rage. With twenty-nine hours remaining, the safest plan would be to hold up on the island, spend time with his patrons, and be there to watch the chaa celebrations live. Yet he dare not fail the creator’s test or lose his sacred blade to the American. The high-speed chopper will take at least three hours to rendezvous with Túumben Epoca, and another hour or more to arrive on Barbareta, which will give him a little time to rest on the trip. Rushing back to his private suite to change clothes, he clears his thinking.
Cozumel will start final lock down for LASSG tomorrow. Naval patrols already actively ping sonar sweeps for a submarine wild goose chase. Sleeper cells stand ready for the signal of Buluc Chabtan, which remains safely buried, ensuring the new epoch will arise. In fact, no one can stop that from happening now, not even him. While the investigations and that annoying reporter are lose ends to clip, he has confidence in his brother, Vacub Came. With a deep breath, he accepts one final task before his plans of power are complete, a test of worthiness. With the blade, together with the wisdom and spirit of the maker, he will fulfill the prophecy of Bolon-Yokte.
Born Felipe Roué Gutierrez, the bastard son of a Mestizos drug mule and a cartel prostitute, the name now feels more like a past life, or a bad dream. Beaten and neglected, like an alley cat he learned to care for his own needs young, learning that only he could control his life. A lifelong chameleon, a master at blending in, he learned to change his look or his profession at a whim. A doctor, a concierge, a police officer, a tarot card reader, a yacht captain and a dozen other identities veiled his true persona.
In a stroke of genius, he faked his death only to resurrect himself as Hun Came, the highest lord of death in the underworld of Xibalba, an identity chosen to drive fear into the hearts of his superstitious enemies. Like a demon with no past and no face, he built the persona of a savage, invincible immortal roused from the grave to reap vengeance on anyone who dared resist him. The demon ghost haunted every leader in Latin America. With violence he gained power, with power he made money, and with the money he bought education and influence. Now he craves respect.
He stands ready to claim his destiny while his ex-partner, the real Juan Perez de Menendez continues to languish in a forgotten, derelict prison cell, deep in the jungles of southern Colombia. One of them went to Harvard, living an entitled life of privilege, while the other was born of desperation, spit on and kicked, working tirelessly to self-educate, and to write his name into history. Kept alive for his DNA, blood samples, and interrogations, the real Juan Perez prays daily for death. Soon, the more powerful Juan Perez will grant his prayer.
Aware of the transformation needed within his psyche, he throws back a tall shot of tequila. With a change of clothes, he storms out of his private suite down a secret escape tunnel leading to the helicopter pad. The route will avoid his guests. From this moment forward, he must shake off the docile and diplomatic persona of Juan Perez, and shed him like an overweight cloak. Only the unhinged savage power of Hun Came can reap the vengeance his enemies deserve.
Taking off, he throws back another shot of tequila, closing his eyes as they speed toward a rendezvous with Túumben Epoca, and his fate. If the blade of the maker will empower him, then by power and force he must obtain it. The American pig has crossed him for the last time. As if destiny were tying up all the loose ends for him, including the American cockroach, he vows to himself that this hunt will end today.