by Gerry Sarraco
EL SANTO AZTECA parked the car and turned off the engine. As he exited the vehicle, he looked up at the beautiful skyline. The sun reflected off his golden mask as he touched the eagle adorning its forehead, and said a short prayer to his patron Huitzilopochtli for blessing them with grace. His partner, Diamante de Sangre, exited from the passenger side. His white mask contrasted his dark skin. The blood red diamond shape on his forehead seemed to absorb the sunlight, making it appear darker than usual.

Azteca saw his friend Javiaer Alvarez. Javiaer was the head of Lucha Libre Extravagancia, who was running the event they were participating in tonight. He saw the man’s worried look, and stopped short. ‘What’s wrong, Javier? We’re not late, are we?’

Javier laughed nervously. ‘As if the famous El Santo Azteca would ever be late for an important match!’ The men shook hands quickly. Azteca noticed Javier was sweating, which was strange given how cool the day was in Ciudad del Carmen. ‘Corazón Negro has a new partner for the parejas match you’re having. I don’t know much about him, as he’s only been competing for a few weeks. He’s supposedly from Lázaro Cárdenas. They call him El Monstruo de Pescado.’

Azteca and Diamante exchanged looks. Diamante shrugged, and took their bags inside the arena. Azteca stared at Javier. ‘I’m not happy about the change, Javier, but what’s done is done. Why are you so nervous, though? This isn’t the first time Corazón has pulled some new punk out of nowhere to try and defeat us.’

Javier looked around before responding. ‘Something seems off about El Monstruo. The way he moves for someone his size, and there is this strange odour about him. It reminds me of the story Diamante told me about those fish people you two encountered off San Juanito.’

Azteca stared at Javier. Besides being a world famous luchador, Azteca was a well-known crime fighter and occult investigator. He and Diamante had encountered many strange things in their years together. The San Juanito incident was one he wished he could forget. It was there he first encountered El Orden Esotérico de Dagon, a vile cult devoted to the service of an entity known as Cthulhu. Corazón was a bad man who served Tezcatlipoca, but he tended to be more the criminal mastermind type. He was not prone to follow an alien god bent on destroying humanity. This didn’t bode well.

‘If he is truly like them, Javier, then I will do what needs to be done. Until then, Diamante and I have a match to prepare for. I’ll see you later.’

Azteca walked towards the arena, lost in thought. He and Diamante would have to prepare, in case this El Monstruo was one of those foul fish people...
AS AZTECA ENTERED the técnicos locker room he was greeted by the other luchadores there. He spent the next fifteen minutes chatting with them, catching up with old acquaintances, and meeting newer luchadores for the first time. Once he finished talking with the others, he went to the inner room, which was reserved for Diamante and himself. As the main event, they had their own private room. Diamante was lacing his boots as he walked in. He gave Azteca a questioning look. ‘So what did Javier tell you about Corazón’s new partner?’

Azteca sighed. ‘He thinks El Monstruo might be one of the Fish people’

Diamante continued to lace up his boots before responding. ‘So what’s the plan if he is? Dare we deal with this in the ring, or wait until after the show?’ Being his oldest friend, Diamante knew he could be blunt with his partner. ‘You know we can’t do anything in front of the crowd. Too many innocents. Not to mention they think all of that is just in our movies, and not real. If he is one of them, we’ll deal with him after the show. I’m just concerned that one is moving about the country under the guise of a luchador. I hope he’s the only one’

They spent the rest of the time in silence, warming up for what could be the most important match of their careers...
THE RING ANNOUNCER stood in the centre of the ring, the spotlight shining on him. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, this is our MAIN EVENT for the evening! Introducing first, hailing from Mexico City, at a combined weight of 470 lbs... DIAMANTE de SANGRE and EL SANTO AZTECAAAAAAAA!’

The crowd stood on its feet. Azteca could hear the roar of the crowd as they started the chant. ‘AZ-TEC-A! AZ-TEC-A!’ Diamante came out first, wearing a crimson coloured Eagle Knight headdress over his mask. He stood at the top of the ramp, soaking in the applause of the crowd, before turning to the curtain. Azteca brushed it aside and came out to stand beside his best friend and tag team partner. He wore a gold coloured Eagle Knight headdress over his own mask. The chanting got louder. Azteca looked out over the arena, soaking in the adulation of the 6,000 or so fans in attendance. It was the standard set up, with railings around the other three sides of the ring from the ramp, and people seated in folded chairs. There was plenty of room to dive outside the ring without accidentally hurting any fans.

He patted Diamante on the back, and the two walked towards the ring. They walked around it, clapping hands with fans, and greeting young children in the front row. After they both made their way around all four sides, they entered the ring, and went to their corner. The crowd slowly quieted down as the ring announcer prepared to speak again.

‘Their opponents, at a combined weight of 600 lbs... CORAZÓN NEGRO & EL MONSTRUO de PESCADO!!!!’

Corazón came out first. His ring gear was all white, with black hearts on his mask and trunks. He soaked in the cheers and boos from the crowd. He had his own fans, even though he was a known criminal who had clashed with Azteca a few times. He looked around the crowd before turning towards the curtain. El Monstruo walked out, and Azteca breathed in hard. The man was huge! At least 6’5”, and well over 350. His pale white skin contrasted the dark green of his ring attire. His mask resembled the face of one of the Fish People, with the eyes covered by large black goggles. As the duo walked towards the ring, he could smell that strange odour. Did Corazón know the true nature of his partner, or was this some weird coincidence? Azteca looked at Diamante, who nodded at him. They both knew the stakes for this match were higher than putting on a good show for the fans. It was now a matter of life and death.
FROM HIS SPOT in their corner, Azteca saw Diamante hit a Quebradora Con Giro on Corazón. His archenemy writhed in pain on the mat from having his back slammed onto Diamante’s knee. Diamante played to the crowd before catching El Monstruo coming through the ropes with a dropkick to the head. As he dangled between them, Diamante ran to the corner and up to the top rope, and leapt off with a vicious double stomp to the back of El Monstruo’s head. Corazón was back up, and Diamante charged, catching him with a running forearm that sent him back to the ropes. He bounced off, and Diamante caught him with a sleeper hold. The crowd roared its approval. Monstruo was still caught between the ropes.

The first fall had not gone well for them. Monstruo charged at the bell, and hit a vicious double lariat on both of them. Corazón went after Diamante, so Azteca bore the brunt of Monstruo’s offense. In short order, he had scooped Azteca up, slammed him back to the mat, hit a standing legdrop, then back up and landed on top of him with a senton. With over 100 lbs more on his large frame, Monstruo knocked all the air out of Azteca’s lungs. Corazón threw Diamante out of the ring at that point, and he joined Monstruo in double teaming Azteca. It wasn’t long before Corazón pinned him to win the first fall. The crowd went nuts, with a mixture of cheers and boos echoing across the arena. Monstruo added insult to injury by kicking him in the ribs before pushing him under the bottom rope to the floor. The kick felt like a sledgehammer, and he rolled on the floor holding his side.

He missed the start of the second fall as he was still clutching his side after the bell. By the time he made back to his corner, Diamante had gotten the upper hand on their opponents. Azteca closed his eyes, and using a technique he learned from a wise man from Tibet, focused on blocking out the pain in his side. It took a minute or so, but he felt the pain starting to subside. He opened his eyes to see Diamante hit another Quebradora Con Giro on Monstruo. He reached out for a tag, and Azteca slapped his hand, making him the legal man. The two of them rushed the kneeling Monstruo, leaping into a pair of dropkicks to his face. As Diamante went back to their corner, Azteca started laying in kicks. Monstruo seemed unfazed. Corazón started a chant for Monstruo, and the rudo fans chimed in. Azteca continued laying in kicks, but Monstruo started getting to his feet. Changing tactics, Azteca went to the ropes, and attempted a flying crossbody, but Monstruo caught him, hoisted him onto his shoulders, and fell backwards to the mat, hitting a Samoan Drop.

Monstruo tagged in Corazón, who landed an elbow drop on Azteca. He started playing to the crowd again, allowing Azteca to regain focus. Corazón started to drag Azteca to his feet, but Azteca rolled him up with a small package, quickly winning the second fall.
FOR THE SECOND time in the match, Azteca had to pick himself off the floor, and make his way back to his corner. He saw Diamante going toe to toe with Monstruo. He could see Corazón laying on the apron, blood seeping through his mask. Diamante seemed to have the upper hand on Monstruo, which made Azteca think he used an Aztec blood ritual to increase his physical strength and resistance to pain. He saw Diamante press Monstruo over his head, which got the crowd cheering again. His partner dropped his foe face first to the mat before hitting a standing moonsault.

Seeing Azteca in the corner, Diamante drew his thumb across his throat. The crowd roared again as he tagged Azteca in before dragging Monstruo to his feet again. Azteca went to the top rope as Diamante set Monstruo up on his shoulders. Diamante executed a Death Valley Driver and rolled as Azteca came off the top rope with a frog splash. The ref dropped down and made the three count as Diamante prevented Corazón from breaking up the pin. The crowd rose to their feet applauding. They knew this was a hard fought match for the heroes, one they secretly needed some magic to win.

As Diamante helped Azteca to his feet, he saw Corazón help Monstruo up. Monstruo shoved Corazón off, and turned towards Azteca & Diamante. While his eyes were concealed beneath his goggles, both men could feel the danger coming off the larger man. He pointed a finger at them before storming off. Corazón shook his head before leaving, keeping a safe distance between them as they went to the rudo’s locker room.
AFTER THEY HAD showered, Azteca had Diamante tape his ribs before changing. Thankfully they were bruised and not broken. Javier gave them their purse for the main event, and thanked them for making the show a success. Once the rest of the técnicos had gone, Diamante took their bags to their car. He returned later with a slim case, which he handed to Azteca. Azteca opened the case and took out a Macuahuitl. This spiked club was no ordinary weapon; it was gifted to Azteca by Huitzilopochtli himself. He held it in both hands, and made a silent prayer to the war god. He nodded to Diamante, and the two left the locker room, looking for Monstruo.

They checked the rudo locker room first, but no one was there. They went outside the arena, and walked towards the shore. A cool breeze came off the water, and they could hear someone playing a flute. As they got closer to the shore, they saw Monstruo standing at the edge of the beach, water against his legs, playing a flute. They saw six figures coming out of the water towards the shore. Monstruo stopped playing, and turned to face them. He no longer wore his goggles, and they could see his large, unblinking eyes. He was a half breed, part human, part fish man. He stared at them before saying, ‘I knew you would come for me, Azteca. Father Dagon demands justice for what you two did at San Juanito. We are here to see it done!’ The six figures drew closer to shore, and Azteca could see they were full blooded fish men. He raised the Macuahuitl. ‘As you wish, Monstruo. Come, face the justice of Huitzilopochtli!’
A FAINT GOLDEN glow came over the Macuahuitl in Azteca’s hands. As the Deep Ones waded onto the beach, Diamante pulled out a skull headed whistle, commonly known as a death whistle. He blew on it, and the sounds of tortured screams emanated from it. The Deep Ones hesitated, and Azteca charged towards his enemy. Monstruo also charged, his arm extended for a lariat. Azteca ducked under and stopped short as Monstruo passed him. Monstruo also stopped, and as he turned around, Azteca swung his Macuahuitl at his head. A loud crack sounded as it connected, and Monstruo staggered back, holding his head in pain.

Diamante came up behind him, and locked his arms around Monstruo’s waist. With all his might, he lifted him up, and fell backwards into a suplex, driving Monstruo’s head and neck hard into the sand. At that point, the Deep Ones finally stopped hesitating, and moved to engage Azteca. The first one had its head shattered by his Macuahuitl, and the others started to spread out in an attempt to surround him. Diamante had straddled Monstruo, and was hammering him with blows to the side of his head. He tried to block the blows, but he was still reeling from the blow Azteca had given him.

Azteca caught another Deep One in the gut with the Macuahuitl before turning around in a fluid motion, smashing the leg of the one that was behind him. As it fell to its knees, Azteca shattered its skull like a watermelon. Monstruo was finally able to shove Diamante off him, and slowly sat up. Diamante charged him, attempted a knee strike to his face, but Monstruo blocked the knee, and flipped Diamante off him, causing him to land on his back.

Azteca cracked another Deep One in the head before finishing off the one he had caught in the gut. One of the remaining three raked its clawed hand across his back. As Azteca reacted to the pain, another one landed a punch to his taped ribs. He staggered forward, which gave him some space from his remaining opponents. Monstruo, now on his feet, backhanded Diamante as he got up. Diamante wiped the blood from his mouth with the palm of his left hand. He started chanting in Nahuatl, the language of his ancestors. A faint reddish glow covered his body as Monstruo charged him.

The three remaining Deep Ones started to encircle Azteca, so he went back on the offensive. He swung the Macuahuitl with both hands at the head of the one to his left, shattering its skull. He spun around, and caught the one that had been facing him on the shoulder, and it staggered backwards. The third one came at him from the side, and Azteca spun to meet him, swinging the Macuahuitl. It connected with the Deep One’s head just as its right hand raked his left forearm. The last one, still clutching its shoulder, turned and ran towards the water, Azteca on its heels. Before it could get more than ankle deep into the water, his Macuahuitl smashed the back of its skull in, and it fell into the water. Azteca sank to his knees in the surf, and bowed his head. He said a prayer of thanks to Huitzilopochtli for granting him the strength to emerge victorious against his enemies once more.

Monstruo and Diamante stood toe to toe, exchanging blows. The glow about Diamante grew stronger as they fought. Monstruo swung his right fist at him, but Diamante ducked under it, and landed a punch to Monstruo’s ribs. With his strength enhanced by the blood magic, he heard at least two of them crack. Monstruo staggered back, his left hand clutching his side. Diamante pressed his attack, landing a right cross to the spot Azteca’s Macuahuitl had caught Monstruo in the head. He heard another crack, and Monstruo’s left eye popped out of its socket. He screamed in pain, and vainly tried swinging at Diamante with his right hand. Diamante ducked under and moved behind his opponent, and landed a stiff kick behind his knee. Monstruo dropped to one knee, and Diamante grabbed him by his head and started to twist it. Monstruo grabbed his wrists, but the magic had made him stronger than him. He twisted harder, finally breaking his neck. Monstruo fell forward into the sand, and Diamante looked skyward, saying a prayer of thanks to the Gods. Azteca walked towards him and nodded. Once again, they had prevailed over evil.
AZTECA AND DIAMANTE set the bodies on top of each other, before covering them with lighter fluid. Diamante lit a match, and set the bodies on fire. They could not allow evidence of the Fish Men to get out; the people needed to be kept unaware of such things. It was their burden to keep. He rinsed his weapon in the waters of the Gulf, then the two headed back to their car. As they entered the parking lot, they found Corazón waiting for them, holding a first aid kit. Azteca sighed, but let Corazón tend to his wounds. He put wrappings on his forearm and back, then checked Diamante. Once he finished, he asked sarcastically, ‘How was your swim?’

Azteca ignored him as he placed the case with his Macuahuitl in the trunk of their car. ‘You play a very dangerous game, Corazón. You should stick to your criminal enterprises, and not involve yourself with beings such as Monstruo. You’ll live longer.’

Corazón laughed again. ‘I do as Tezcatlipoca commands. He came to me in a dream, and told me to have Monstruo as my partner tonight. He told me if I did, you would appreciate it. We both have our duty to our gods, Azteca. It is not for us to question them when they tell us do something.’

Diamante grunted as he opened the car door and got inside. Azteca stared at Corazón as he opened his door. ‘Until next time, then.’

Corazón nodded as Azteca got into the car. He saw him walk off in the rearview mirror before starting the engine, and driving off. Tomorrow would bring them to another city, another show. Azteca hoped that was all that awaited them as he and Diamante drove off into the night.

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