Ursa Non Gratis

Part 0.

Lei Minh - an invitation

The first time that I saw her, I knew that 'Lightning' might be one of the few people who could protect Duck in spite of herself. Lightning had the right blend of confidence, knowledge and willpower to make our Katya listen.

Do not look at me like that child, for I have known Katya far longer than you. The child is wise enough to take care of herself, but she has thrown that caution away when it comes to her friends. And the current situation, calls for calmer heads. That is why she came to the Playful Dragon that day, and why I was willing to help.

Duck would never ask me for anything on her own behalf, but for Tracker, or Bear, she would do anything, even ask me to break my ways and become involved. Although she asked for help, she would not ask for my intervention, for she respects our ways too well. Instead she asked for me to watch and evaluate the woman who calls herself 'Lightning,' a professional bodyguard.

To understand why Katya hired a bodyguard, you would have to go back, two weeks before the meeting. To the start of this problem, perhaps even further, 7 years to be exact, when Bear and Duck met the 'Archer's Fist' for the first time.

I will not bore you with the details child, but know this; the 'Archer's Fist' is one of the biggest bands of miscreants its ever been my displeasure to meet. They do not like our kind child, and would think nothing of destroying an entire city to get to one of us. It was another reason the child would not ask for my direct involvement. Suffice it to say that the Archer's Fist did not endear themselves to our friend. Through her, and Bear, and some other friends, Duck managed to cut off their supply of weapons, and then, finally, their head.

But creatures such as these are like the Hydra, cut off a limb and two take its place. Their hatred burns, and they have a long memory. Two weeks ago, they struck back, through the shadows. They killed one man, and framed another for it. The man they framed is none other than our own Daniel TwoBears.

Bear had gone to Quebec to question a man who claimed to have information on the 'Archer's Fist.' By the time he arrived, the man, Othello, was dead.

The operation was well planned and Daniel was immediately arrested. The trial is due to start this week, but he has been held for two-weeks already. Knowing that he is a man who walks the path of the Shaman, they have drugged him, bound him physically and mentally to the physical world, and left him helpless.

I've known Katya Wjowski, our 'Duck' for some six or seven years now, and I knew she wouldn't take such a thing lying down. But in the beginning, she had to, since she was in the hospital at the time.

I do not understand their game entirely, for they play like the ancient ones, plots within plots, games within games, never revealing their true plan. They have left Bear vulnerable, implicated Duck, but then attempted to kill her while she was repelling.

The child was lucky, yet, by falling on the same day she was supposedly helping Bear break in to the prison...

No, I do not understand these people. I do not think I want to, but we must know their game. That is why I am asking you to watch over her this night. It is not for her, not for a child that a foolish old woman befriended, but for a defender of our kind in a battle that effects all of us, for her I will ask you to do this.

Do you agree then? Good! For there is much that I must tell you. Let us start with that night at the Playful Dragon, where I first laid eyes on our friend 'Lightning.'

Duck invited her there through the channels of the street that only Duck and Tracker seem to know. A simple message really, "Someone is looking for someone with your talents, if you're interested, come to the Playful Dragon and ask for 'Red'."

To be honest, sometimes I think our Duck is an ancient one, trapped in the frail body of a human, but that is another story is it not?

I waited in room seven, and when Lightning arrived, she checked the room out for bugs and camera's and anything else that would endanger her or her perspective employer. As I said, she was a wise choice. Once I was satisfied, I informed Duck that her guest was waiting.

Duck was in a good enough mood when she entered, which is well since I do not like to see the child in pain. Sometimes, when she would laugh, you could see the pain it caused, and how our Katya loves to laugh.

Lightning noticed her discomfort and asked about it, for normally when someone looks for a bodyguard, the trouble has already begun.

Katya laughed at her private joke as she told Lightning that she had 'had a disagreement with something much larger and much older' than she.

She told Lightning about the interviews she was holding at 'Rocky's' and that she was merely taking precautions. One night's work for more than fair wages. I knew then that Lightning had taken a liking to our friend and the things that she has done since have proven it. She is cut from the same cloth as our friends, and so the circle grows.

Katya had grown careless, no, that is not the right word, let me say rather that she underestimated their enemies. It was a mistake that almost cost some of her friends, their lives. She, Lightning and a friend of her's whom she calls 'Rabbit,' were verifying the security of the restaurant when they found a 'surprise' waiting for them. It was a bomb that was set to release a nerve toxin that would have killed Lightning, but left the others unharmed. As it was, Duck's friends handled the situation.

She calls them the 'Backer Brothers.' You will meet them, so I should forewarn you: they are as loyal to Duck as they are to each other, and it was these friends whom the Archer's Fist first targeted seven years ago. They are nothing alike, yet they are family, stronger by far than most, for they are family more by choice than by circumstance.

In the following days, the Archer's Fist struck again, and again. Targeting the three brothers whom they had faced before, they struck first at the eldest, the one called Geoff. The next brother attacked was their leader, Davy. They did not succeed in harming them, but another brother, Wayne was injured.

Like so many of their kind, those who strike at the shadows, they have other names that they go by, you must learn those names, learn to understand those who fight for the just. For we will need ones such as these in the dark days ahead. Watch over them my son, for it is our lives they are fighting for, though they do not know it yet.

Copyright 1998 - M.T. Decker

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