Scorching heat seeped through Reyna's jacket, licking the back of her neck as she ran. Excited gurgle-hisses followed right behind her, always sounding far too close for comfort. She didn't dare look over her shoulder at the creature, instead willing her aching legs to keep pounding across the dirt, and trying to ignore the burn of her struggling lungs and the sound of her own thin, shaky breaths. Orange eyes flicked up from watching her boots pound the earth to lock onto a rocky outcropping in the distance. Mingled hope and relief bloomed beneath her breastbone. She was close. So, so, close! If she could just avoid the guayota's massive claws for a few minutes more, she'd be golden.

A small spurt of renewed energy had her picking up the pace to get to her destination just that tiniest bit faster. Moments later, a strong gust of hot wind rippled her jacket. She stumbled a little out of surprise but kept running, aware of the click of needled teeth and annoyed snarl the guayota released at having missed its mark. The outcropping was really close now. Just a bit more…. A little more…. More…. Now!

With a strained holler, Reyna's thumb mashed the little button on the device clutched in her palm then dived forward, between the protective pillars two of the tall rocks provided. Dust filled her mouth and nose as she tucked and rolled messily to lessen the impact, resulting in a choked fit of coughing when she came upright again. She stopped herself just shy of smacking face first into another rock with a hastily thrown out palm. Her head whipped around, catching sight of a horned head with jaws thrown wide open, showing off the roiling flames building behind row upon row of small sharp teeth; the stuff of nightmares, coming to gobble her up. Someone behind her screamed.

Then the trap let out a happy little beep in activation.

The guayota jerked. It threw its head back, howling and thrashing, as a strong energy current ripped through its mostly rocky body. Reyna watched it try to phase out of the trap, flickering in and out of transparency, but ultimately failing. Its anguished yowling quickly transformed into a deafening shriek as the trap pumped out even more painful energy to counteract the creature's abilities. A crack, like thick glass breaking, split the air. Reyna's eyes flicked towards the guayota's bejewelled chest, shiny and yellow-gold like the shards she hunted, and now sporting a deep crag right in its middle. Its heart. That was its heart. And it was starting to break under the strain. Reyna continued to watch the creature with wide eyes, trying to get her breathing back under control and fumbling with her pistol. She need to be ready to put the thing out of its misery. Or, Star help her, be ready to fend it off if it somehow managed to escape. Thankfully, the trap did its job, and after a particularly pitiful sounding gurgle, the guayota collapsed, twitching and spasming, to the dusty earth.

One tiny angry, but mostly exhausted, fiery eye rolled up at her cautious approach. The guayota's breath huffed out in shallow bursts, interrupted briefly by a growl when she planted a boot on its side. With a hard shove punctuated by a grunt, Reyna managed to roll the creature over enough to expose the massive pulsing jewel and its marred surface. She took a few generous steps back before swinging her pistol up and flicking off the safety. Experience had taught her that guayota hearts were explosive when they died. That, and the ugly sonova gun might somehow be able to muster enough energy to gut her with its massive claws, taking her down with it.

Her pistol thrummed as she poured bullet after bullet into the shining jewel, each projectile striking it with a harsh t'chk t'chk t'chk that she could only barely catch over the anguished roars of the dying beast until, eventually, the guayota's shiny heart shattered and burst. Reyna threw up an arm to protect her face as fragments of all shapes and sizes were sent hurtling in every which direction. When it was lowered, the guayota looked like a shell of its once proud and terrifying self; more rocky bone than substance.

The small team the LLC had thrown at her as extra help – the ones who had deftly helped assemble the trap, but had also cowered and screamed and pissed themselves behind their rocky hidey hole when the guayota made its appearance – swarmed around her. Their relieved and thankful babbling was white noise to her ears. And their touches and handshakes barely registered. All her focus was on the guayota. What was left of the demon hissed as it frothed in its death throes, a pitiful end to a horrific creature. Its inner fire sputtered and died, the final wisps carried away by the wind as it let out a final death rattle. Pieces of rocky body clattered and rolled away, some already beginning to crumble into brimstone-scented ash. The sight made her feel numb.

"Thank you, Miss Valeria," one of the LLC lackeys gushed, somehow managing to make himself heard over the white noise her subconscious had reduced the rest of his colleagues to. "You're an absolute hero!"

Reyna shook her head at him but didn't reply. Couldn't; her mouth felt gummed shut. She wasn't a hero. Heroes didn't help send an entire species towards a forced extinction, dangerous or no.