Natasha Ivanovna Plekhanova lived a simple life out on the edges of the Yukon Territory of Canada. She had a small house which she used as a base, spending a great deal of her time running the lines of traps she had set for fox and sable. She slept most nights out under the stars. Only returning home when her sledge, in the winter, or her travois, in the summer, was full.
Once home she spent her time cleaning the hides and preparing them for the traders that came by the town of Red Flint that was two days travel from her house. Not that Red Flint was much of a town. Three buildings. One a bar, one a general store, and one a gas station for the trucks that thundered by.
When she got to town on her twice yearly trips, she scrupulously avoided talking to anyone except the lead trader and the proprietor of the general store. The trader to make a deal for her pelts, the storekeeper to purchase the few supplies she needed. Ammunition for her rifle and shotgun, salt, a large bag of sugar, some wool yarn. She made sure to arrive on the rainiest or coldest days she could to keep from accidentally meeting fellow travelers in passing and never removed her hat or her scarf. In the store she asked for things by pointing with one gloved hand and she always merely nodded or shook her head during the negotiations with the traders.
The quality of her furs was always excellent and she paid the store in cash so neither trader nor storekeeper bothered her with any talking. Most individuals had no idea of her name or gender and simply called her "The Trapper". Sometimes a bright young fool would get the idea that there might be even more money wherever she lived or on her person. They would follow her into the vast woods and if they were lucky, would merely get lost and not killed by the weather or wildlife.
At home she spent her time making and repairing her clothes with bone needles and gut thread or knitting socks and mitten liners, preparing her hides, tending her small garden, and hoping that eventually some of her memories would fade.
Each night, whether she was on the hunt or at her small cabin, she said a prayer to Pravda the Goddess and Spirit of Truth, so that she would protect those that had fallen where Natasha had not. Every New Year and Mid-Summer's Eve she looked at a bottle of vodka and shook her head . The next morning she would head out to the woods and begin trapping again.
And so she lived. Solitary and sad amid the beautiful forests of Western Canada. Occasionally hunters or Canadian Armed Forces would pass through her area on training and survival exercises, but they never knew she or her cabin were there. She made well sure of that. But even those intrusions were extremely rare. Where she was, no one else wanted to be. It really was as simple as that.
"Hello Granddaughter," Natasha was cutting wood and stacking it for the coming winter. She recognized the the happy tone immediately.
"Hello Grandmother. What brings you to this world?"
"Another errand I need run. This time in the lands of the Red Star," the wizened old woman leaning on her cane replied.
"Home? You want me to come home?"
"Well yes. Imbohl is making a nuisance of himself, no great surprise there. But he has managed to get his hands on something...I'm not sure what, that makes my teeth itch."
"And so you came to me..."
"Well yes Natasha Ivanova. If it was something simple like a village to save I can find plenty of heroes for that...For problems like this though. I need the best and that...is...you!" she gestured with her stick at Natasha and shook it to make her point.
"Well, I suppose I could send your compatriot with you. Her good eye will be useful of course."
"One moment," using her mind to stabilize and help lift the three hundred pound stack of split wood Natasha moved it into the small shed before going inside. She then pulled out the locked trunk from under her bed and removed her field pack, her hook, and a small heavy pouch. Making sure the fire in the fireplace was out and the door was secure she looked at Baba Yaga. The ancient witch smiled and then Natasha was standing on a country road on a gray rainy day.
"Tasha!?!" came the complaining tone of a short blond haired woman with a scarred face and a gray leather patch over one eye.
"Hello Pchelka," Natasha smiled at the demon hunter who was probably her closest friend. "Grandmother came to visit."
"And I was getting just getting ready to go out and dance..." Buffy was wearing a tight black dress and heels, "Baba Yaga!" she called out, "Can I at least have some more appropriate clothes?" Before she could turn back around she was in her leather pants and boots and wearing a three-quarter length black leather jacket over a turtleneck. "Yeah this will do...What's the job?" she said in a resigned tone.
"I have no idea. What does your good eye see?"
Buffy flipped up the patch over her left eye. What it had concealed was solid black with no differentiation between iris or pupil, and no white at all. "No lines in the sky this time...There's a glow in that direction though," she pointed.
"West," Natasha said after she checked the compass built into her hook.
"Guess that's the way were going then. Seiously the old woman didn't tell you anything?"
"Only that Imbohl has something that Baba Yaga does not wish him to have."
"Imbohl's the god-sorcerer that runs the Red Star right?"
"Yes. He the one the Black Kommisar tried to supplant."
"Well let's get walking...I see she at least let you have your gear."
"I asked nicely."
An hour later the pair came up on a small town.
"The Wolf and Bell?" Buffy read the sign on a pub, "We're in the..."
"Kingdom of Lions," Natasha finished.
"Tasha, I hear a fight inside."
The tall ex-soldier nodded, "I think we know who involved."
Buffy sighed, "Let's save his lying butt then."
The short woman kicked open the door and started hurling combatants outside through the opening. Natasha watched her back and helped keep the fighters outside. Eventually the blonde had made her way to a knot of men in the corner attempting to beat up one opponent. He was tall handsome and had an amazing mustache, "Hi Al!"
"Diane? No! It's Buffy! Ganesh, get off your lazy backside and get her a drink, oh hello Starshina Plekhovna."
From a stool at the end of the bar a small dark skinned man waved at the two women and reaching over the bar top and tapped them two pints of bitter, "The respected Captain is performing his daily physical training regimen. As he is want to get fat and lazy unlike myself. I suggest we leave him to it. Seat?" Sergeant Ganesh Rawat, retired of His Majesty's Tiger Claws and personal bodyguard and batsman to King's Own Reconnaissance Craftsmen-Captain Sir Albert Feathering Brooks-Wilde also retired, gestured at two unbroken stools.
Al was a Craftsmen-Captain, a military kaster, but at the moment he wasn't using any of the lethal kasts he had at his command. He was simply fighting three men at the same time...barehanded.
"Al, the one on the left is is aiming for your...oh never mind," Buffy and Ganesh were offering commentary on the retired officer's fighting skills while Natasha simply watched appreciatively. The one on the left had just tried to break a bottle over the ex-officer's head, but he had turned and, with a wristlock, flipped him on the floor. The other two saw this and decided it was time to leave.
Al stepped up to the bar and tapped himself a glass.
"Makes you work up a proper thirst it does. Come here you!" he gave first Buffy and then Natasha a big hug. "How are you? The Sergeant there has been despondent since you left. Always crying his eyes out at night. Not letting anybody in two counties get a lick of sleep from his impassioned bloody wailing. Absolutely terrible...does the Regiment no honor let me tell you."
The Ghuri Sergeant just rolled his eyes at Al's tirade, "As you can see, nothing's changed. His nibs is still an idiot."
Buffy and Natasha laughed.
"So," Ganesh continued, "What brings you back to this world. I thought the two of you were gone to somewhere else."
"We were, but the old witch called Natasha and when Natasha is called..."
"You tend to bloody well follow," Al said staring at his pint. "What's the job?"
"I have no idea. Imbohl had something that Baba Yaga does not want him to have. That all I know," Natasha replied.
"And she drops you off in Leftwall County?"
"To meet you and Ganesh probably. My good eye picked up a glow around here."
"If we're needed that means Diane is probably needed too. Time to call that bloody git Hanover I guess. Come on Buffy, let's find your doppelganger."Buffy is the Property of Mutant Enemy, The World of the Red Star created and masterminded by Chris Gossett and Archangel Studio.