Seattle Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 1

Written by: Bear           Played on: 01 Mar 2014
PREVIOUS: Side Mission 23 – On the Fly 2.0
NEXT: Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 2

Marius gets a phone call from a female fixer, she contacted us for jobs with Mr Johnson before, sending Marius and us all over from Chicago, to Florida, and even Russia. He’s honest and always pays well. This job is no exception, but not like anything before.

The Mr. Johnson that Bear is referencing is the one they first met in the opera house. Most of the team had met him at one point or another, though he previously only appeared in missions when the whole team couldn’t make it to a run.

This last month has been rocky. It started with our failure in California. I know we still got paid, but the look on Frosty’s face, and knowing that the Sextant is still not where it belongs; hurt. Although, I was not injured, well, not badly, I was still hurt.

This is, of course, referring to their last assignment with Frosty, searching for the Sextant of Worlds, that didn’t end up panning out well for them.

There hasn’t been much work for me since, and as such I was able to spend time meditating in my lodge and training. This was both good and bad. While in California, I found myself, once again in close combat, this time I was blade-to-blade with an Aztec Eagle and some gangers. It was in this fight that I was vindicated in my belief that life is sacred, even the life of a thug who would take mine.

But I was also nearly bested in the fight, I know that in my younger days with the tribe I was well suited with knife and fist and was rarely beaten. So I was determined to think back on the days I spent training with my father, uncle and the other boys of the tribe. But every time I tried, my scars burned and the smiling faces of those I loved burned to ash and theirs screams pierced my mind and tormented my dreams. Then I began to hear the funeral and feasting drums as liquid fire rolled and crashed over everything I ever knew.

The last straw was one day when Chekhov and I were in the middle of a magical sparring match. We were ramping up the spells and working on identifying the incoming spells and counter-spelling them. I was preparing a stunbolt at Chekhov in his hulking bear-form. As I began chanting I heard them; funeral drums. Then, looking down, my arms were gone.

Looking back at the bear, all I saw was a pile of burnt bodies, dozens of them; each one staring with the cold dead eyes of my wife and sons. Drums. Drums. Drums. With more bodies piling on top I screamed but nothing but silence came out. The corpses grew until they blocked out the light plunging me in darkness.

Drums. Drums. Drums.

The darkness of the bodies gave way to burning light of heavy liquid fire washing over them, the bodies all screamed out in a deafening cacophony as the heat covered them. The exploding noise knocked me down and grew into a roar.

Drums. Drums. Drums.

Then when heat was burning the light out of me a bear’s face pierced the flames and it shook my body. The Flames washed away, the drumming and screams ended in a flash. That’s when I saw Marius and Chekhov standing over me; Checkov with blood running down his face from his nose. My ears still ringing, I couldn’t hear them.

This is referencing Bear’s previously mentioned, ongoing issues with PTSD following his dreamland encounter with his family.

But I lied and said that I was okay, even though I could hear nothing but my beating heart in my ears. As my body carried me to my room, I saw the blank stares of Wheeler peering from the garage and Jade and Cho each throwing an arm over the couch looking away from the news. That night my dreams were vivid. I saw back to the days of my youth, training in the art of Wildcat. My father, brother, and a few of the other boys were trained by the men who traveled the lands.

They taught us to look into the ebb and flow of the body. It wasn’t about who was strongest, but rather smartest in battle. To keep a keen eye on the opponent, use their force against them, and strike not only where they are open, but where they are most vulnerable. That is the quickest way to end a fight, and perhaps keep both fighters alive, if possible. But even we Broken Arrows who aim for peace and prosperity in all things are taught to do what is necessary in protection of the land and the tribe.

When I awoke I knew that I had to re-train in the old ways of combat, not only to reconnect with my past or to be more effective in combat, but to ensure the preservation of life, rather than its blind destruction. I will NOT be the killer animal the Marahal Project wanted.

So I called Raven, asking if he knew of any master’s of Wildcat who would accept such an old and hardened student. After a short pause he told me to go to Olympia and find Old Thunder Wolf, he sent me the address and said he would tell the master I was coming. I chug down some soy-caf, chow down a few protein snacks, and toss a few “fruit” leathers in my bag, pack-up some extra clothes, grab my bike and head south.

As I ride through the Emerald City, the impacts of the fall of Knight Errant are still clear, especially outside of downtown proper. Gangs, emboldened by freedom patrol their ‘hoods openly, showing off their SMG’s and other legally questionable hardware. Petty theft and smash-and-grabs are far too frequent and not typically deemed important enough to pull Lonestar out of the downtown area. They are, after all paid big money to keep the big money safe, or at least give the impression of safety. In my opinion, Lonestar is scattered, disorganized and in way too deep. I’m not sure how long it’s going to take to get this city back to even the slight sense of civilized that it once was. With the Spaceneedle at my back and an hour ride ahead me, I feel a weight lifted.

I arrive at the address Raven gave me. Then began one of the best months of my life,. At least since I awoke in that forsaken dumpster so many years ago. The aged master was finishing a lesson when I walked in. It was a relief to hear my native language again and surprising to see a group of young men speaking Sioux as well. After his lesson, the instructor, Old Thunder Wolf met my eyes; I could see the reasonable distrust of an outsider.

The aged instructor has years on him, here he teaches them history, science and math in addition to their Sioux culture and Wildcat training. After an introduction Old Thunder Wolf wants to know why he should teach me, I know Raven wasn’t reason enough. He knows the kind of work Raven is involved in and Thunder Wolf doesn’t train the hot blooded just to kill and die on the streets. He wanted to know how teaching me would help the Sioux teachings live on. How I would give back to the young bloods at the school.

“Wise master, my name is Bear with Mountain Wings and you are right to question my motives I have seen the violence and destruction of the modern world, and experienced firsthand its impact on our proud culture. I too have done awful things, but I have since changed. I’ve seen the error of my ways. I strive to connect to my past life and tribe. I do not wish destroy life, but preserve it, whenever possible. I would use the techniques learned to keep from killing. If you would allow, I would be proud to learn under you. I can pay you; also, I can share with the young bloods the tales and survival skills of tribe. The skills my father taught me, and those I didn’t have time to teach my sons: hunting, how to honor the spirits and lands, and how to avoid corporate stings. I can also train magical skills to any awakened youths, such as invisibility, physical barrier, heal, and combat senses.”

For the rest of that first day we talked, I told him of my time with the Broken Arrows, also of the day I was captured. I admitted to my misdeeds, of the time I was lost and not myself. Also of the friends I have made, my new family. How I would die for their safety. But also, how I have aimed to not be the weapon that the Marahal Project thought they could make. So began my training with Old Thunder Wolf he and I spent days talking, helping me get in touch with my past. We also sparred; he was surprisingly quick and strong for his age. So too I imparted my knowledge and skills to the Sioux youths.

For the month the struggles of my life in Seattle were gone, except for the occasional calls with Marius checking-in, seeing if there was any work to be done. I few things came-up, but I had enough cash, and the jobs weren’t important enough for me to leave my training. For the time, I stayed with the family of one of the boys from the school. But soon, my training, for the time was done, and I headed back to Seattle. Feeling re-awakened, I’ve never felt closer to my heritage, nor those I lost.

The month of training and role-playing was handled offline. Bear spent that time learning the Wildcat martial art.

So there I was again, back in the city of devils by the sea. The stench of home fills my nose through my helmet as the skyline comes into view. Marius fills me in on what the teams been up to, seems to be business as normal, just living, well, laying low-ish, and waiting for work.

It wasn’t a week after returning that Marius called the team into the living room. Jade and Cho watching some classic trid, about some weird doctor or something, Cho methodically cleaning her rifle, the stench of gun oil all too familiar in this place, and Jade sitting spread-eagle taking-up half the couch. As the team gathered, the ever-paler oil-stained Wheeler came from the garage where the lights were off, windows recently boarded and curtains drawn; and Chekhov was nose deep in a book on shamanistic history, a mug of soycaf clearly untouched and cooling by his side. Then there was Marius who had his game face on. His voice let us know that he had been called and we had work.

“An old fixer just called me up with a job for the crew. It’s straight forward enough and the pay is well worth it.”

PREVIOUS: Side Mission 23 – On the Fly 2.0
NEXT: Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 2

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