The Quetzalcoatl Incident

by Masterweaver

Into the Jungle

Gladmane looked out at the forest passing underneath. Well, jungle, really--the trees were certainly tall and green enough. And there were a lot of vines... so, ah, definitely a jungle. He rather enjoyed tropical vacations, to be sure, but he'd readily admit to his friends--

--ah, well, some of his friends--

--that he was a creature of cities and civilization. Beachside properties, with air conditioning and built-in minibars and, not to put too fine a point on it, a high likelyhood of athletic young ladies going for a dip nearby. After all, many of them were on vacation, and it was his great pleasure to ensure they had the most enjoyable time his money could afford. Many of the young ladies were appreciative... sometimes vigorously so. And even if they declined his, ah, offer to stay in a luxurious vacation home... so what? There were always more women bouncing about the beaches. Bouncing quite a bit, really.

But of course, there were always women to avoid as well. The ones that could, ah, cause a reaction among the public, for one--better to avoid a scandal like that. And the ones that came with that little affliction called Love--not that he objected to it, it certainly had its place, but for a gentleman as, ah, discerning as him, a long term relationship came with too many obligations and ties. And then, of course, there was the third category.

Gladmane suspected that the dark-haired woman sitting across from her, keeping her amber eyes locked on him at all times, belonged to that third category.

Which made it all the more surprising she'd broken him out...

From the black stripes on her face, Gladmane could guess she was a griffon aspect--or maybe one of the rarer zebra aspects? They were certainly more extensive than anything he'd seen on a griffon. Granted, black stripes on orange skin made him think more tiger than zebra, and she was certainly leaning into it with the fake ears.

At least, he thought the ears were fake.

They moved, sure, but didn't Neighpon make moving cat ear headbands? He'd read about that, somewhere...

Gladmane turned away from the helicopter window, smiling amicably. "So, are you ever going to tell me your name?"

The woman didn't say anything. In fact, apart from her ear twitching, her unamused expression didn't shift one bit.

"After all," Gladmane continued as he leaned forward, "I'd like to credit you properly when I thank you for getting me out of that little, ah, situation I was in." He gave her a knowing grin. "Might even put in a good word with your employer, you certainly deserve a little, ah, recognition."

The woman remained utterly unimpressed.

Well, it wasn't likely he'd get anything buttering her up. Probably thought he was arrogant and stupid. He'd only ever been one, though--and the other, well, a few months in prison had cured him of that. It was time to take a different tack.

"Must be nice, being this far south. Always did like the local holidays. Día de Muertos is one of my particular favorites."

The woman did not say anything.


"Hey back there!" the pilot shouted. "We'll be landing in a minute."

Gladmane chuckled. "Well now, I'd take this time to make myself presentable, but..." He gestured at the orange jumpsuit he still wore. "Somehow I don't think I can do much."

"That wouldn't be anything new for you," the woman said flatly.

"She speaks!" Gladmane shook his head with a grin. "And here I was beginning to think you were mute."

"I don't waste words on people who don't need them."

The sound of wind buffeting the ground came from outside, and a small reverberation ran through the cabin before the propellers began to die down. Gladmane quirked an eyebrow as the pilot stepped in--another fine example of a woman, with another pair of feline ears, but this one was yellow, with voluminous red hair and large black freckles on her arms.

She smirked at his gaze. "Hey there, handsome."


"Oh come on, Sienna, whatever else you might think you've got to admit he's hot."

The orange woman stood, opening the door. "No, I really don't."

Gladmane huffed a laugh as she stepped out. "Tough cookie, huh?"

"The toughest. She got up to some real crazy stuff in Tauros." The yellow woman cracked a grin and jerked a thumb toward the door. "Come on, we've got to get you all set up."

Gladmane obligingly followed her out of the helicopter, idly sneaking a glance at her tail--and then doubletaked when he realized that the woman actually had a tail. And a fine rear end, sure, but the way that tail swished as she sauntered made it pretty clear it wasn't fake. And, come to think of it, a flash of orange and black had followed the other woman out of the helicopter...

He forcefully broke his gaze from her rear, only to meet her playful yellow eyes. "See something you like?"

"Ah..." Gladmane forced his usual languid smile back into place. "Is there an entire Aspect I missed hearing out on?"

"Oh, something like that," the woman replied breezily. "Our boss can explain more--you know, if we get a move on and talk to him before the big event."

"Oh, certainly, miss..."

"Barbecue Rich." She gave him a dry smile. "Not too distantly related to Filthy Rich, but I don't think he'd ever mention me."

Gladmane laughed. "Ol' Filthy. Never really into the more, ah, indulgent aspects of wealth. Focused more on making money than enjoying it."

"Good at that, though," Barbecue pointed out as she led him on.

"Oh yes." Gladmane shrugged. "Wonderful business partner, you know, right up until you're not an asset anymore. Not that I blame him, not much I could offer while in prison." He glanced around the jungle. "Leastways, not much that would interest him... but I guess your boss thinks I'm worth something."

"Ooooooh yes. Matter of fact, I personally recommended you for the position."

Gladmane quirked an eyebrow. "Really now?"

"You've got some desirable aspects." Barbecue made a show of looking him over. "And, well, this isn't something we want getting back to the public just yet. You understand the value of, ah, discretion."

"Oh, of course." Gladmane smiled broadly. "I hope we can have a long and, ah, mutually beneficial relationship."

The woman laughed. "Well, it'll probably be profitable at the very least." She smiled saucily. "And who knows? It might get... exciting."