Ursa Non Gratis

Part I.

Lei Kai - The journey begins...

I have never understood my 'mother's' fondness for humans, not until the night she asked me to watch over some of them. Until that day they were a curiosity, nothing more. But when the great lady bid me watch, it was the start of my education.

I have known Katya 'The Duck', and her friend Tracker long enough, but I have never truly considered them 'humans.' It is my own folly I guess, for I have always associated that word with people below my notice. Duck and Tracker however, had freed my mother once, when she was held captive by their enemy. They didn't save her in hopes of gaining money, or power, only because she was in need. I have met others such as they, but they were not truly human, perhaps in my eyes, Duck and Tracker were raised to the same level as the others.

Truly those friends are the ideals of what is good in humanity. Make no mistake, I have seen Duck act the part of the petulant child. She is no angel, but she has always laid her life on the line for what she believes in. Honor, loyalty, friendship, these are the things she fights for. And when it comes to knowledge, she covets that as much as any of our kind. Sometimes it is hard to remember, that she is, indeed, only human.

But as I said, Minh requested my service and I obeyed.

I arrived at the designated place and met first with Katya, our old friend. She smiled at me and thanked me for coming. As she showed me around, she began introducing me to those whom I would be watching. She introduced me first to the three brothers who first met the Archers Fist. Davy, Geoff and Derrick, or as she called them Corndog, Tendown and MadRabbit. Watching them I could see what Minh had meant when she said they were family. Each one watched out for the others, and their concern for Duck was obvious.

Davy, or Corndog as he was called, was obviously in charge, and took control of the situation.

"Duck's briefed you on the situation?" he asked me as he led us down a hallway.

"Yes," I answered. "But I must meet those with whom I will be working."

He nodded, and I began to meet them. At first their names just seemed to fill my mind, but slowly I began to learn the differences between them. Names like: Eclipse, Boomer, Gina, Clearwater, Lightning, Sparky, Wind... it was hard to tell them apart.

Geoff, or Tendown was Davy's second in command. He would be overseeing the security for Duck's interviews at Rocky's. There seemed to be no argument between them and they functioned as one. This did not match what I had been told about humans.

Humans, I have learned that that too was the wrong term, for within their species there were many variations. Geoff was one they called 'Elf.' From their looks, he and Davy were nothing alike. Davy was heavy-set, where Geoff was thin and wiry, Davy's hair was dark and curly while Geoff's was blond and straight. Davy would talk to you where Geoff would listen and yet as I said, they were of one mind.

I next met Rabbit, who was the third brother to tangle with the Archer's Fist. His eyes were like an ancient's dark and haunted. I learned later what the Archer's Fist had done to him. Him and our friend Duck. That cruelty matched what I had believed about humankind, but Duck and Rabbit, they had endured and gone on. It was my first example of the human spirit. Davy and Geoff watched over them, but Duck and Rabbit, they seemed to understand each other, far better than the others did.

I learned to tell them apart, not by looks, but by attitude.

Wayne or Boomer had a propensity for blowing things up. He seemed to take nothing serious, and yet, he was one of the most intense and serious people I was to meet. From him I was to learn how humans hide their true selves, but reveal them to those they trust.

Gina, their doctor, cared for each of them and worried about them all. She was serious about her calling and seemed to feel responsible for each of the others. From her I was to learn the depth of human caring and compassion.

Kenny, Clearwater, he like Gina cared for the bodies of his comrades. Where Gina worked as a physician, he worked as a healer. He was to teach me about passion

Tommy, who had no other name was what they called an 'Ork'. He represented both the innocence for wich the fought, and the science and thirst for knowledge that drove them on. He lent both his muscle and intelligence to his brother's operations. From him I learned about human imagination

Rico, the technical wizard, what they called a Decker. He loved his 'toys' of computers and remote devices. Rico would teach me human ingenuity.

Then there was Lightning and her friends. It had been less than a week since she had met and begun the task of protecting our dear Katya, and yet, she and her friends were already forming bonds with those Duck called the 'Backer Brothers.' Passion and compassion combined as they formed a cohesive unit: one goal, one mind.

Lightning was one the humans call Elf. Compared to the somber colors and clothes of the Backer Brothers, she was bold and flashy. Yet rather than conflict with the older more staid group, she somehow became yet another facet. Of all the 'humans', again I know that is not the right word, she was the first I had no problem recognizing. Her hair was cut in a style refered to as 'a Mohawk' and the color was a very unnatural shade of purple. She was used to being in command of her 'team', and that I could see in the way she brought out their strengths and challenged them. And yet, there was another thing that seemed to go against everything I had thought of their kind. She accepted Davy and Geoff's authority over her and her team.

As my dear lady has said, they are all cut from the same cloth. Their goals are the same, one mind, one goal. I am starting to feel hope again, but it is a very dark and dangerous road ahead for all of us.

Since there were many things that Lightning's friends and I did not know, Davy called his people together for a meeting, where all would be explained. It was there that I also learned of human humility and that some pride, is not as bad a thing as I originally thought.

I must admit, the building that housed the 'Backer Brother's operations' seemed small an in consequential from the outside. But once inside, I learned there was much more to the place, five levels underground to be exact.

Once the preliminary introductions were made, Davy led us all to 'the conference room.' I expected perhaps a large table with enough seats for those who would be involved, but instead I found an auditorium that also doubled as an athletic facility, what they referred to as a 'gym.'

I watched as Lightning and her friends took everything in as other members of the extended family filed in and took their places. Row upon row was filled as people continued to stream in. Then several members of the group filed in and took their seats facing the assembly.

Davy stood and signaled for silence, the response was instantaneous. I was torn between watching the others and listening to Davy's speech. Davy won out, for the man knows how to tell a story...

Copyright 1998 - M.T. Decker

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