Seattle Side Mission 10: Recruitment – Part 2

Written by: Bear           Played on: 25 May 2013
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NEXT: Side Mission 10 – Recruitment – Part 3

The boys were teeming with eager excitement for the hunt; I painted their faces as June picked out their clothing. Seeing the bear’s paw image across my chest, the lightening on either side of my neck and the image of the broken arrows on my forearms, some marking more familiar than others to me, they argued over how to be painted. I gave each boy the symbol of our proud people.

Once the boys were ready, they armed themselves.

Keenai, strong and brave, grabs a spear.

Koda, always patient and cool under pressure, chooses a bow, like his father.

The hunting party prepared, we headed out to the chanting and cheers of the tribe.

June, Alan, Nathan, Keenai, Koda and myself head North from the village. Last night a herd of deer was seen heading east just a few miles north of the village. Nathan had also summoned spirits to follow each of the boys: an earth spirit in the form of a bear to watch over Koda and an air spirit in the form of an eagle as Keenai’s guide.

Out there, in the wild, I felt my instincts come alive as never before; surrounded by those I love most.

Silently we made our way. All the while I pointed out tracks and how to guess how old they are. But each of them is a natural and, although moving slowly, their instincts guide them true. It was Keenai who found the tracks but Koda saw her first, a beautiful doe in a small clearing. Koda said he wanted to take a shot, so Keenai and I prepared on the opposite of the clearing.

Once Keenai and I were ready to get the doe, should Koda miss, I sent free a whistling arrow to signal Koda to take the shot when he was ready. For a moment there was silence. Then the doe stiffened, then BAM! Koda’s shot missed the doe’s heart by six inches and instead hits the deer in its front leg, just below the shoulder and it ran straight toward me a Keenai. His grip tightened on his spear.

“Steady, son. Listen close. Calm your heart.”

In a flash, just a moment before I was going to tell him to move, he was in position. His form perfect, as the beast galloped straight at him; his aim ideal. Keenai planted the spear and pierced the deer’s heart. The deer slammed all 200 pounds of itself into Keenai who pushed it off of him without help. There it was; his first kill. It’s breathing shallow, I handed him the same blade my father gave me on our first hunt together.

Keenai took the blade and knelt before the deer and gave the prayer “We’re sorry to kill you, sister. Forgive us. I do honor to your courage, speed and your strength.” He ran the knife across its throat.

Just as I placed my hand on his shoulder, I heard it. The undeniable roar of a grizzly and my wife’s scream.

The thick trees kept me from seeing what was happening. I took back the knife and ran toward the screams, Keenai followed behind. I got to the hulking beast right as it fell over Alan and Koda. Alan had, at the last possible moment expertly speared the bear through the heart as it came down on all fours.

I pulled the dead beast off to find Koda and Alan, bloody and laughing. While healing and gathering the two kills, Alan explains that we will not be able to get back to the village before nightfall. But there is a nearby cave where we could take our kills and rest. June helps Koda, who had three large cuts across his chest but was talking non-stop about his experience and asking Keenai about how he had finished the doe. Nothing could dim his shining spirit. Nathan was supporting Alan who had been hit pretty bad by the bear, at least four broken ribs let alone the blood loss. But he too was in good spirits, no one was seriously wounded and each boy had their own kill.

Much of the scenes were filled in by the players. I gave them a few notes for events that would come up, like the cave that Alan knew of nearby, and then let them fill in the rest. This was an excellent opportunity for Bear to explore his past life in a little bit more detail and flesh out his character.

The closer we got to the cave, Alan told the boys of its history.

“Boys this is the cave of Koyala, a cavern of friendship. Here all are sheltered from the elements but also from fear, harm and all men are called brother. The entrance to the cave is more of a doorway. There were expertly carved and adorned with the art of the countless travelers who have found refuge here.”

Keenai and I secured the two kills in a tree as the others prepare a fire and places to rest. As we settle in, we tell the stories of past hunts and swap stories of our scars, which leads Alan to tell the boys a frightening tale.

Alan throws another log on the fire, reducing the light in the cave; dark and warm shadows dance across the walls.

“Boys, you were young and may not remember the day the outsiders came for us. But I remember it like it was yesterday. They came on us fast and hard…” As the added log burned brighter, Alan became more excited as he told the story of the night that had haunted me. I guess that was all just a dream…But his story didn’t end with my capture; instead, with my victory. No deal was struck and no outsiders were left alive, or have bothered our tribe for over five years.

“Did’ja really kill all of those bad guys?” Koda asked as he cozied up under my left arm. “He really did, that was the day your father became our chief. He united many others within the Broken Arrows and then moved us South,” June added, her head was resting firmly on my chest as her fingers intertwined with those on my right hand

“You’ll always protect us, won’t you dad?” This time it was Keenai, asking from June’s lap, his hair falling over our interlocked hands.

“Yes son, as long as I live, you will always be safe.” I choked back the tears that wanted to flow, thinking about how real the loss of my family had felt. It was so nice to be home. I felt sleep overcome the boys and I kissed June’s head. Her hair was smooth as silk and sweet with the smell of sweat, her hands as soft and delicate as rose petals, but strong and able.

Taking that knife and twisting it… just a little bit…

She stirred slightly in response to the kiss and softly, sleepily said, “Sweet dreams”. I looked up and saw that Alan and Nathan were both already asleep. There was silence that was only barely broken by the low crackling and simmering of the fire.

The smoke was light and filled me inside and out with warmth. “Sweet dreams, my Feather in the Light,” I replied with one last kiss and laid my head down lightly onto hers.

The fire popped lightly, I blinked once and saw the shadows dance in the cave and the fire. I blinked again and I was being shaken awake.

“Bear. Bear. BEAR! Wake your ass up, chummer!”

Who was this elf? No one talks to the chei-… “Marius?” I asked.

“… Yeah…? Who were you expecting” he replied.

“Nothing. No one. Shut up.”

“Whatever. Anyway, wake up.”

That was the last thing I remember hearing for a long time. Was yesterday just a dream? Or was this a dream? It felt so real. It WAS real. This can’t be real. I can’t let it be real. People don’t have metal arms and faces. No one can have a computer in their head! Why am I alive? I promised my sons. My wife. Everyone. I lied to everyone who trusted me. My blood was running cold; all I could hear was the sound of my heart beating loud in my ears. All I could see were their faces; I could feel June’s head against my chest, weighing it down. Was I walking? Am I dying?

“Shh. Ee hass stahped.”


I knew I was dead…

“Not you, idiot! An actual dead bear!” It was Detrius. Who’s Detrius? Right, Marius’ brother.

“Gods, is this the same bear?” I asked aloud.

“Vat zame bear? Is dis some kind of Indian Shaman magic? You said der vuld be shamans.” Chekhov asked.

“What? No, it’s been shot… What’s he talking about?” I asked Marius and Dee.

Apparently Chekhov has been gabbing non-stop for the last few hours about native shaman traditions.

Given the placement of the bear, exactly where my family had killed it yesterday, I checked for the deer. I found the tree, the same exact tree where Keenai and I had been, but no deer. Seeing the look of concern on my face Marius put a hand on my shoulder, “What is this place, Ben?”

“It’s hard to explain, but I’ve been here before. Look. There are tracks leading north. This bear has been shot. For fun. It was yesterday. We can’t salvage it, the meat’s no good. Leave it here so its spirit may stay with the forest.”

Chekhov claims that he understands, but he knows not of the spirits of the land or what I am going through by being here.

Just like yesterday, there was the cave. The ornate carvings chipped away, in some places spray-painted over. The entrance is strewn with empty cans and garbage. It’s still in use, I suppose, although not as well respected. After a few deep breaths, I lead us in. I look to the wall where I laid to rest and saw not my family but instead three Native American warriors rushing us.

We throw are hands up and I explain in Sioux that we are friends seeking shelter for the night. I noticed that one of them was wounded and offered help as a sign of good faith. We told them about the Ute tribe and the bear. They said they know where some tracks of the white men were. The tracks might lead us to them, but night was falling, it would have to wait until the morning. Chekhov went for a nighttime stroll as a wolf, or something. I grabbed a bedroll and lay down in the same spot my family occupied. My last thought as sleep overcame me, “Please, let this be a dream…”

PREVIOUS: Side Mission 10 – Recruitment – Part 1
NEXT: Side Mission 10 – Recruitment – Part 3

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