For Good or Bad, Chapter 47 “The Missing, pt 5”
For Good or Bad, The Memories Remain.
Chapter 47 “The Missing, pt 5”
She was impressed with his progress since she last saw him, at the fall Ren Faire. He might be far enough along that she could take him on as one of her students. If so, then he could work in the Fencing booth at the Spring Renaissance Faire with her and her other students. Three months of teaching the basics to any snot-nosed brat with $5 and seen a few Three Musketeers movies will pound the basics into his head. If he was willing to put up with that for the meager pay and snippets of instruction she could squeeze into the evenings, then he will also have shown his dedication to the art. ‘Let’s see what’s next’ as she left a textbook opening in her defenses. Predictably he rapidly attacked. His forms were good, his attacks proper, it was time to see how he did with the unexpected. Although they were attired for the Ren Faire here in Phoenix, they were using standard Olympic fencing rules and forms. That now changed.
The crowd was watching the bout with excitement. Normally at the fencing booth, the teachers were working with the average off the street person and looked casually bored. The bout between the tall thin woman in the black leathers and mask and the young guy in the gray fencing jacket was obviously a step above the normal level. The moves were much faster and the impact was much stronger. Some of the crowd was providing color commentary “Strike to the head blocked by parry five”. To most in the crowd the guy in gray was the likely winner; he was attacking more, striking harder and generally appeared to be keeping the girl on the defensive. The crowd was growing larger. The combat more heated. The guy in gray attacked with a flourish.
An excited young guy at the front of the crowd alternated cheering the guy in gray and telling the crowd around him that “Chris is finally going to beat her” Beside him was a pair of people who were quietly watching the bout and conversing in low tones. They didn’t look like the normal Ren Faire type of people but they definitely seem to appreciate what was going on in the bout.
“Shall I beat you with the modern or historical methods?” The lady in black quietly asked the kid in gray.
“Which ever you prefer Mistress. Either way, I’ll try to win.”
Most of the crowd missed the question. Chris’s fan club didn’t. “Oh crap, here it comes. He’s dead” as he starts shaking his head. “She’s had enough. She’s been toying with him. Now she’s going to make an example of him to the crowd.” He explains to the people next to him. They shake their heads and watch the show as she begins the commentary. It isn’t even the commentary of the match. Its a general speech on the history of Saber fighting and how it has evolved from cavalry combat to an Olympic sport. Chris seems to be holding his own as she talks but she seems to be leading him toward certain moves as she talks so she can illustrate her speech. Her breathing isn’t labored, she’s not out of breath, she doesn’t pause for the fighting, and she just keeps on talking like she was standing at a podium. She even comments on the high caliber of Chris’s form and capabilities. Meanwhile Chris is fighting with every trick and technique to stay alive in the match. The crowd grows silent as they realize that the 20-minute bout to this point has been a warm up for this.
“You’ve fought well today Chris. I might have a place this spring if your interested.” she said in a pause in the history lesson. “Shall we finish this, no holds barred?” She said, knowing that by his honor, he just couldn’t refuse.
“If I’m going to die, let’s at least make it with style” as he launched himself at her. He was good, he was quick and he was accurate. None of it was enough. In a blaze of moves that only about 200 people alive today could identify, she defeated his attacks, destroyed his defenses, and scored the winning shot on the top of his mask with enough impact that Chris could smell the paint vaporized in the hit. All the crowd saw was the mystery woman in black explode into a frenzy of motion ending in the solid impact of her saber on his mask. She slides the fencing mask from her face. A long braid of redish-alburn hair falls to the center of her back; her pale complexion slightly flushed from the heat of the mask. She appears to be about 22-23 years old. The most striking thing about her appearance is her eyes, a pale gray flecked with olive green.
“Remember, the difference in the sport style and the combat style is that the sport needs speed more than power, where as, in combat, speed is mainly needed in parrying or blocking. A strike needs enough power to cut into your opponent, disable, maim or kill. Now, for all of you who might want to try your hand at what you have just seen, for a small donation, the instructors will teach you some of the techniques used here today. I turn you over to the instructors” as she steps away from the fighting area.
One of the instructors steps up to the crowd. “Lords and Ladies that was Mistress D’Arc, the head of our fighting Order and Lord Mistress of the Academy de Blade. Now we will be putting on a demonstration here….”
She walked away from the crowd back to the rear of the booth to get a drink and her sunglasses “Damn, it’s bright here. I guess that it wouldn’t do too well to hold these at night,” she says as she puts on her Wayfarer sunglasses. She strips off her green skintight leather gloves, unlaces her black leather tunic to about mid-way down her chest and begins to towel off the sweat from the bout. She hears someone approach from behind.
“Mistress D’Arc, you have some visitors” one of the instructors responds. She turns to find a pair of people dressed in what she would term ‘nice but casual’ that she couldn’t help but to notice up front during the bout.
The guy steps forward ‘leaving his female companion a few paces back. “Is there some place we can talk in private?”
“Sure. Brett, make sure we aren’t disturbed at all for 10 minutes. Now kids, how can I help you?” as she continues toweling.
“We have been looking for you, hoping you might have some information concerning another person once in your ‘profession’ ” He says, as he looks her up and down examining every detail. She was approximately 6’1” tall, long, lanky build, well muscled without being bulky. She had very slim proportions. She was very graceful, very fluid and economical in her movement, calculated. She had fair skin, with pale lips. Her reddish-auburn hair was pulled into a single braid that fell to the center of her back. Most noticeable were her pale gray eyes, flecked with olive green. She could easily pass for a model, except for far too many things that showed in her eyes. She was wearing knee high Buffalo hide moccasins, with gray bone buttons, of a type very popular at the fair. Her worn black skin-tight lace front leather pants were tucked into the moccasin tops along with possibly a knife or two in each one. She tied some black split sided Hakima-style pants over her leathers. Her black leather lace-up tunic was unlaced to mid chest as she wiped the perspiration from her taut, well-tanned skin. She had a gray cloth wrap-around shirt she put on over the tunic. After which she buckled on a black rapier belt with black and blood red pouches held shut by ivory buttons. An deep grey petrified ivory hilted short-bladed Katana hung from the rapier belt hanger along with a pewter mug with a handle formed by black twisted rose stems. She then tucked a pair of green soft leather gloves at the left side of the dragon embossed red leather belt buckle. On her left wrist was a black-faced Omega Speedmaster watch. On her left hand she wore a single scratched and pitted stainless steel band around her ring finger. Perched on top of her head, also in total contrast to the total Renaissance theme was a pair of black-framed Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses. She looked quite at home in the garb that with few mods would have been fine for an Indian scout in the earlier days of the westward expansion or two centuries earlier in the lowlands of Scotland or a century earlier than that in the fiords of Norway.
“Who are you looking for?” She asked as she poured a drink into her mug.
“We should really discuss this someplace else, Ma’am. I promise you will be well compensated for your time.” He replied as he hands her a one hundred-dollar bill. “We could meet just about anywhere you want, as long as it affords us some privacy.”
“I know just the place, a little club down around 19th and Greenway. The name of the place is the Jet, a little dive where they couldn’t care less if the person next to them at the bar was purple. I still have some work to do here. How about we meet at “ she glances at her watch “2100hrs. Sorry, old habit from my brother, 9 o’clock at the Jet.”
“ That would be fine, Ms Spada. 2100 hrs it is,” he says as he and his companion walk away.
“ Well, they obviously came here specifically to meet me, since nowhere do I advertise my real name” she says to no one in particular. “Brett, close up shop for me today, I told Randy I’d meet him and the kid at Chino Bandito tonight. You know me, can’t miss that place whenever I’m here in town.” She continues with the preparations to return to full costume for her ‘Royal Court’ appearance this afternoon at the Faire.
After a long and tedious day at the Faire, she hurried back to her tent to wash up and get ready for the evenings events, greeting and giving her regrets to her friends and acquaintances that she won’t be at this evenings drunken revel, figuring she can miss one night (god! ren faire people partied hard!) She figures that she gave some of the younger ones a cheap thrill as she sponged off in front of the tent quickly before she got dressed. She noticed that her tan seemed accented by the fine network of white scars that covered her body, product of many years of practice with live blades, plus some she doesn’t care to remember the cause of. She went with black jeans, a black silk top that clung to her like a coat of paint, her freshly resoled knee-high black leather boots, kept the watch and ring (never took them off) and then began to put on what Brett jokingly called ‘her arsenal’; two Microtek Talon II automatic stilettos, one in each boot, three ebony chopsticks, an Emerson pocket folder, and her custom Katana in the special sheath in the back of her black Kevlar and leather trench coat. She hated that society had come to this point but she couldn’t take a chance with her prized possessions left in the tent or the truck. Besides, with the drug gangs, rape gangs, not to mention demons, vampires and the like, a girl couldn’t take too many chances. She learned her lesson (again) when they took her ‘brother’. They beat the crap out of him because he tried to save his girlfriend, then they drained him, and made him one of them. She hoped he died quick, and didn’t suffer like some of the others she had seen. She had been hiding from her past pain, trying to forget if at least a little while. At least here, with the ren faire and SCA people, she fit in; free spirits, deviants, long lost hippie wannabe’s, non-judgmental, accepting, loving, protective. With these people, she was happy. 75% of them never knew her real name nor cared. She went for weeks at a time as Mistress D’Arc, the Weapons Instructor. Yet these people would give you the shirt off their back without hesitation. She changed her contact lenses, grabbed her Wayfarers, and left. She piloted the old Land Rover down I-17 to the restaurant for dinner and to meet an old friend from school. She had met Randy in her sophomore year at University of California, Riverside. She was a history major; he was a criminal justice major. They met in the school fencing club. She was the hot new fencer beating everyone in sight. She was also the cutest girl he had seen in the club for a long time including his girlfriend, Kathy. Her eyes welled up in tears just thinking about Kathy. The bastards had gutted her like a fish just to hear her scream.
“Stop it, it’s in the past now, don’t bring it up to Randy!” She screamed to herself in the truck. ‘Why am I dwelling on this today? I know why, the nightmares came back, so the remembering has too.’ She paused upon arriving at the little eatery she was meeting Randy at long enough to wipe the tears from her cheeks and spend a minute psyching herself up.” No tears, you can cry when you’re dead! No fear, no sorrow, emotion robs resolve! A blade is only effective with a focused mind!” After about 5 minutes of this, she felt ready to go in to eat with Randy and the kid.
Dinner was short. Randy knew what was filling the air with all the tension and didn’t know how to dispel it. The old friends were happy to see one another but the death of his wife, especially at the hands of his best friend across the table, hurt. He knew Kathy wouldn’t live after what the gang did to her but to have Beks have to put Kathy out of her misery was a task he thought he would never have had to ask for. Unfortunately he knew he couldn’t kill her and Beks was the only other one there. He knew this was still as painful for her as it was for him. They sat in almost silence as they devoured plate after plate of the Chinese-Mexican combination food this place was famous for. After the pretense of food was gone, they talked for a short while, standard pleasantries such as ‘how’s school’ and ‘Tyra’s getting awful big for only 3’. When it seemed that they would have to get down to meaningful conversation, she told Randy about her impending appointment, a perfect excuse to leave. She smiled at Randy, rubbed Tyra’s head, and walked briskly to the door, never looking back.
The night air felt good to Beks as she walked briskly down the sidewalk toward the Jet, a dive she, Kathy and Randy used to hang out in a lot several years ago. Down the sidewalk, through the strip mall parking lot, quick cut between the Albertson’s and the Sav-On and she‘s there, or so she thought. The Albertson’s and the Sav-On are burned out shells now. It’s all dark here. All her senses went into overdrive. She only had two blocks to go to the Jet. Movement in one of the buildings drew her attention like a beacon, more than one person moving. She found herself chanting to herself ‘let them just be muggers’ over and over. She got to the narrowest point, she figured that if they were going to make their move, it would be soon. She wasn’t wrong. 5 guys stumbled out of the shadows, hoping their ‘sudden’ appearance would paralyze her in fear. The five guys were a little taken aback by the fact she wasn’t trembling in fear already but they couldn’t back down now without loosing face and they could have no idea that this victim wasn’t afraid.
“Hey, guys! We got a little leather girly to play with for the night. She’s even cute, for now.” The leader growled as he flipped open a lockblade knife.
“Yeah, you will just love the way we’ll use you. You’ll never feel like having just one guy at a time again!” another goon chimed in.
‘Great, a rape gang, at least I won’t have any moral reservations against trashing these guys’ she thought to herself, still as determined that she would die rather than submit to that fate again as the day she made the vow. She widened her stance and began evaluating her opponents, making her weapon selection. One had a lockblade, one had what appeared to be a tire iron, the other three had just their hands and blunt wits. She weighed her need for expediency, their intended crimes, and their probable past crimes. Conclusion: no mercy, no delay, full combat mode. With one hand in her jacket, she motioned to them with a sly grin, conspiracy and compliance written all over her body. Thinking that a willing plaything would be even better than forced (they could always return to force), they moved closer. ‘Idiots’ she thought as she tightened her grip on the smooth hilt of the katana. When they reached a distance of five feet, she brought the sword out from its hiding place in dramatic fashion. With a reverse grip (sword blade protruding from the bottom of her right hand) she brought the dark Damascus folded steel blade sweeping up in the classic earth-to-sky motion. The tip of the razor sharp blade entered just above the pelvic bone of her first target, slicing upward until it sheared through the ribcage, spilling the would-be rapist/gang member’s internals all over the ground at his feet. Meanwhile, Bek’s left hand joined the right on the grip of the weapon long enough to transfer it to the left. This enabled her to bring the blade across in a neck high swing as she stepped to her left. This swing connected with assailant number 2. 75 years of craftsmanship and 4 years of dedicated work on a single sword produced a blade that proved more than capable for the task of severing a punk rapist’s head from his shoulders. Countless years of dedicated world-class level instruction along with daily practice and discipline ensured that Bek’s skill and talent was worthy of the sword and was able to guide it true to it’s goal. A second and a half into the confrontation and two out of five were down for the count.
“Shit!” was the only word said before the third punk was hit with a two-handed diagonal cut that started at his right hip and exited his left shoulder, traditionally the most difficult cut in Kenjitsu. For some reason, he was not all that thrilled at watching a master of her art, work in its truest medium of free flow combat. The count was now three and two, 2.5 seconds into the fight. The two assailants that were left were trying to figure out what was going on, and how could they turn the tide to win. She waded in toward them. She dropped down low and sent one of those impossibly long, shapely legs in a brutal leg sweep, knocking the tire iron guy to the concrete. Getting up would be hard with the shattered knee he received in the process. The screaming annoyed her so she crushed his throat with her heel as she stood.
“Now it’s just you and me.” The first words she spoke in the confrontation.
Mal was scared; this skinny bitch just killed his whole group, without a problem. Hell she even looked bored doing it! “We can work something out...” he started as he began backing away.
“You wanted a ‘piece’ of me, well, here I am, let’s get to it!” She growled at him as she glided toward him, the sword in her right hand ready to lash out quick as a serpent’s tongue. “I should give you the same mercy you gave your victims.” The sword came up mid-sentence, a light flick of her wrist opening his throat. “That was far too much mercy for the likes of you.” She wiped the blood from the blade in his hair as he clutched his throat, desperately trying to forestall the inevitable. Returning the katana to its sheath, she strolled on down toward the Jet and her meeting.
The Jet couldn’t be more than 30’x40’, its faded wood shingles falling haphazardly off the front in general disrepair. In the front half is the bar and half a dozen cracked red vinyl booths and an old jukebox playing late 60’s bubble gum pop rock. Toward the back is another collection of small booths and a second door leading to the back alley. When Beks walked in, Pinto behind the bar remembered her, and even remembered her preferred drink, iced tea with lime. Pinto also remembered the look Beks gave her, I’m here on business, screen my visitors. Beks moved to the back section where she could see the front door and be close to the back exit. With her sunglasses still on, no one could tell where she was looking, but she could see some of the guys, and one or two girls, checking her out. She hoped she gave off some ‘don’t fuck with me’ vibes. She was also hoping no one saw her hands shaking as she tried to pull herself back together. Contrary to observation, she didn’t kill lightly, or easily. It would be better for her if it really were that way. She had a weird sort of personality disconnect though, while part of her mind sat back in horror as to what she just did, the other parts had no problem with it. All the years of training prevented any hesitation or flaw in the technique, her logical mind weighed the pros and cons of each act. Through it all, the voice of the little girl she once was wept at the price; her compassion, her trust, and quite possibly, she was afraid, her humanity.
She thought she saw one of the guys from this morning come in the door. As he scanned the room for her, she pulled one of the little auto knives from her boot and hid it in her hand, ready at a moment’s notice in case this was a set up. She figured that a blade to the heart should buy her some maneuvering room if need be. About the same time he saw her, the woman walked into the Jet, going straight to the searcher. The pair came to Bek’s table.
The guy from earlier today spoke first. “Ms Spada, thank you for giving up some of your valuable time this evening. May we sit?” Beks motioned to the empty chairs with her tea glass.
“We will cut straight to the chase, we have come to find another Immortal that once traveled with you. We have spent a great deal of time and heartache to find her. She’s about 5’7”, dark blonde, medium build, but the most striking feature is her eyes; they are a bright amber color. She has gone by quite a few names but the one we definitely know is her oldest is Johneen. We aren’t looking to go after her head, we just need to talk to her. She can set the terms, the location. “
“What makes you think that I know where she is?”
“Well, the closest we can trace it back, we believe that she was your teacher about 110 years ago when you died your first death, Miss Rebecca Anne Spada, and then she dropped off the radar about 60 years ago.” He replied, with a little smirk of satisfaction.
“Well since you seem to know so much about me, you have me at a disadvantage. It would be the polite thing to introduce yourselves.”
“My name is Duncan Macleod of the Clan Macleod, and this is Willow, and I am so sorry for being so rude as to not introduce ourselves earlier.” He said with a flourish, and an honestly apologetic tone.
At the introduction, Beks seemed to recognize the name Macleod but paid more attention to Willow. Willow had been watching her intently through the whole exchange. She seemed to be boring a hole right through Beks with her eyes. “And what’s your story Willow?”
“Whatever it is ‘Beks’, I also know that we had the wrong info. You sure as hell are a fuckload older than 110 years!” she exclaimed, entering the conversation for the first time.
At her exclamation, Duncan took a step back, somewhat startled and placed his hand under his jacket on his sword.
“Wait a minute, you guys came to me, and then you claim I’m not who I’m supposed to be? You set this meeting up, not me. “ she said as she moved the talon to position if she needed it.
“Look, what we need is to contact Johneen” the redhead spits out.
“Isn’t gonna happen” replied Beks, a tinge of anger showing through in her voice.
“What you don’t seem to understand, is that this needs to happen. We must find her; I must find her. And if I have to go through you, so be it” Willow replied, her voice going cold as ice.
To Be Continued