Ursa Non Grata

Chapter 4

Bear sat barely feeling the warmth of the setting sun, his concentration was focused on the prison below. From his vantage point on the rocky slope above he could sense the wrongness. Already a chill was creeping in, stealing what remained of the warmth surrounding him.

As Bear watched, he realized it was doing much more than that. It was stealing the life of those inside the prison. He knew he would have to move, and soon.

He'd been so worried about Othello's safety that he'd forgotten how much easier it would be for the Archer's Fist to destroy the whole prison than to sneak in with the purpose of killing one man.

It wasn't as if they hadn't tried something like that before. He reminded himself about the hospital where he'd been taken after begin shot– where Davy and Derrick were recovering from their encounter with the Archer's Fist.

He forced the images from his mind as his thoughts turned dangerously close to Duck and what had happened to her afterwards. It was getting harder and harder to separate himself from Duck and what the Archer's Fist had done to her.

As he forced himself to concentrate on his surroundings, he felt it again. Something was very wrong.

Salizar smiled as he reviewed the newest reports. In just a few hours his people had come up with a plan to salvage the operation. It wasn't as elegant as his original plan, but still– it would mean that Duck and her precious Bear would suffer and that was what really mattered.

Even if the courts failed to convict them for murder, he was sure interesting tidbits of their lives would come to light and those they would be made to pay for. Espionage against the state was still a hanging offence in most countries– in Quebec, it was a guillotining offence

Still, there was no time to truly savor what was to be. There was still the question of timing, and like any well planned meal, it was best to stay on top of things.

Besides, Duck and Bear were just the appetizer-- the Wilsons were to be the main course. He savored the idea of what was to come and signaled the others to begin.

Bear tensed as he heard the faint whine of a drone as it approached the prison from his left. He was not alone.

He took a deep breath as he eased himself into the deeper shadows of the cliff face and waited, praying he wasn't too late.

"Eph, if you don't slow down, I'm going to have to hurt you," the dwarf growled into his comm-unit.

"Get longer legs," Eph responded as he crested the hill and got his first view of the prison. He paused as he took it all in. It wasn't going to be easy, but then again, if it were easy someone else would be doing the job.

He smiled as he heard the dwarf's footsteps halt behind him. He was glad the view wasn't lost on his sometimes partner in crime.


In spite of himself Eph laughed. Trust Fellsworth to come up with the understatement of the year.

"What are you laughing about?"

The dwarf's temper was reflecting his dislike of the place. Eph smiled. It would make things easier.

He wondered if Fellsworth knew that he was being setup. It didn't really matter, the rigger had outlived his usefulness, and once this mission was over, Eph would retire– the broken, bitter runner who'd lost his best friend in the run that ended his career...

He smiled, then quickly covered it. There was too much that could still go wrong, and the thought of Fellsworth spending his money toasting his memory were too much to bear.

"Run another sweep," he ordered as he looked at the prison complex. "I don't want anything to go wrong."

‘Until its time,' he added mentally.

Bear watched warily as the drones moved closer– it was hard to tell if they were looking for someone or merely scouting the place out. Either way, he knew he couldn't be found. Not here, not this close to his quarry.

His hand hovered over the activation switch for a brief moment, then the suit's camouflage took over.

Eph watched the drone finish it's circuit and land next to its master. He shook his head as Fellsworth bent over and patted it lovingly.

He'd almost miss the dwarf.

"Nothing in sight," Fellsworth's gruff voice sounded in his hear. "Now move your hairy ass!"


He forced himself to smile at the dwarf and wave. He had to make his partner think everything was fine.

When Fellsworth waved back, Eph smiled. Everything was going according to plan.

Bear watched their progress warily. The odds of someone else breaking into the prison the same time screamed ‘set up!' He'd have to be careful.

He sat down and closed his eyes, allowing his senses to extend to the area surrounding the prison. Once he was sure there was no immediate threat, he let his consciousness shift to the spirit world. A chill went up his spine as he realized that the area was cold and dead. There was no warmth, no hope in the spirit world.

The wrongness all but overwhelmed him.

As he opened his eyes he saw an odd gleam out of the corner of his eye. He tried focusing on it, but it faded into the background. Closing his eyes, he turned away from it, letting the object drift into his peripheral vision.

He let his breath out slowly. He was not the only predator out tonight.

He watched as the two stooges Salizar had hired passed within 20 yards of another man. The stooges were noisy– careless. The other man intrigued him.

He was good. If he hadn't known to look for him, Shadowalker would never have seen him. It didn't matter. Salizar had been clear on that matter– the man was to be left alone. It was his job to make sure the two men failed as noisily and as messily as possible without exposing the other man.

From the way they were moving, it wasn't going to be that hard of an assignment. Leaving them to their own devices might be sufficient. Still he couldn't take a chance on them messing things up. Amateurs with delusions of grandeur tended to screw up more often than not.

It was something he couldn't afford– Salizar had been clear on that. He didn't exactly understand what the boss was up to, but it wasn't his job to worry about it.

There would be more, Shadowalker was sure of that. There always was where Salizar was concerned. But the boss liked to play things close to the vest. That way if someone failed, or was captured– they couldn't say much about what was going on.

Hell, all he had was a name.

He tensed slightly as the man looked directly at him. There was no way he could have seen him, Shadowalker was sure of it. Unless Salizar had warned him...

Shadowalker fought the creeping feeling he was getting as he realized that even he was expendable in Salizar's world. He'd have to watch this one very carefully.

Bear was fully alert now. The two men with the remotes were moving towards the perimeter wire and the other one was currently just sitting there– waiting.

He had planned on going in tonight, but if the two continued as they were– the whole prison was going to be on alert. If he moved now, odds were he'd be discovered, if he didn't, there was no telling when he'd get the chance. There were too many variables, too many ‘ifs.'

He decided to wait, for now. Othello's information would do him no good if he were captured. The question was– how long would Othello last once Salizar learned of his betrayal.

Eph's eyes narrowed as Fellsworth moved towards the first obstacle. The man's meticulousness was amazing. He would find cover, then scan the feeds he'd gotten from his drones. Once he was sure it was safe, he would signal his partner and move on.

He was so secure in the knowledge that his drones would alert him to any threat, but they'd already missed the most important one.

In spite of himself Eph smiled. Did the dwarf really think he hadn't seen him stabbing him in the back all these years? The looks he'd give Diana, the way she'd be giggling when he returned home to find that half-wit sitting in his kitchen. His woman, his home– the dwarf had tried to take those from him and payback time was right around the corner.

He waited for the signal, then moved ahead. He completely missed the cold look in his friend's eyes.

Shadowalker froze as one of the drones strayed out of its pattern, heading towards the wall instead of circumventing it. What were those idiots doing!?

He moved slowly, knowing that his electro-camo's short comings. If he moved too fast, it wouldn't be able to keep up and that would guarantee failure. The movement was almost painful as he drew a bead on the offending drone.

They couldn't be caught out in the open– not this close to the other.

For the umteenth time that day he questioned the wisdom in taking this assignment.

Bear had given up trying to figure out the two men heading towards the prison. It was obvious that they'd worked together before, but there was something in their auras that radiated mistrust and betrayal.

These emotions were so strong he wondered how neither man seemed to notice. Perhaps they were so blinded by their own emotions they couldn't see, but still...

If they hated each other that much– why work together? Why not part company? It's a big world and the only time you have to work with someone you don't like is when you have no other choice– or you're setting them up.

If that was the case then things were going to be a lot more dangerous that he'd first thought. Then there was the matter of the ‘hunter' he'd seen.

He knew it wasn't just a trick of the light– he'd been trained too well not to notice how the light bent slightly differently off to his left. What was he up to? Was he there to observe the two? Was he working with them or against them?

Did it really matter?

In the end, the answer was ‘no.' He was not here to counsel them on their interpersonal relationships, or solve all the mysteries presented. He was here to see Othello. The only concern he had was how these others fit in, or interfered, with his plans. Their presence was just too co-incidental.

If there was one thing he'd learned in his years of dealing with Duck it was this: there are no coincidences.

He smiled to himself as he cast an invisibility spell and began removing his camo-suit. If he could make out the field around the other man's suit, it was a good bet that the hunter could see him as well.

A quick check on the camo-suit's batteries told him that it had a good day's use left in them. He smiled, realizing that a year or two ago it never would have dawned on him to use the suit as a decoy. But constant contact with people like Duck and Tracker had gotten him to start thinking about the technology the way he did about magic.

It was a useful tool– especially if you were creative in its uses.

As he moved towards the ravine, he realized he was implementing another one of Duck's tactics: ‘if your enemy expects you to be one place– be somewhere else.'

Shadowalker swore as the dwarf's drone flew into the barrier around the prison. He knew from the information Salizar had given him that once the alarm sounded everything would lock down automatically. No one was getting in or out of the prison tonight.

At least they hadn't screwed that up. He turned slightly and sensed the other waiting-- watching. It wasn't a complete loss– but it was close.

He watched with some satisfaction as the runners Salizar had hired tried to run and failed. The sound of rapid fire filled the night air. It was over in less than a minute, reminding him of just how expendable shadowrunners were in Salizar's world.

He stood frozen in place as the perimeter guards scanned the area, then sent out the dogs. He wondered if the other had prepared for that. Salizar woudn't be happy if the man were caught on this side of the fence. He'd been clear on that.

It had to be tomorrow night, and it had to be inside the prison.

He held his breath as the dogs and searchers passed within a yard of the target– and then moved on. It was over– until tomorrow.

He activated his communications device and sent a single encrypted pulse to Salizar. All was in order. That done he settled in for the night. They weren't going anywhere for a while.

Bear allowed himself a brief moment of satisfaction. He'd managed to slip inside the prison walls before the alarm was sounded– now the real work would begin.

He knew this prison well enough to know that with a failed break in attempt, they would lock everything down and begin a room by room search. At least now, he only had to worry about the prison guards and not the unknown watcher outside the walls.

Still, it was enough to worry about– he'd have to determine which search pattern they were using, and react accordingly. There was always the possibility that they would change their search patterns, but in the 5 years he'd been breaking into this particular prison– they never had.

They would either begin from the inside out, the standard pattern when there was an attempted break out, or from the outside in, as they did when there was an attempted break in. Either pattern would mean that he would not have a chance to try and see Othello until morning.

He had a very busy night ahead.

Othello paced the confines of his cell. He'd been on edge ever since he'd sent the message to the Wjowski woman, and tonight's lock down was only making things worse.

Was she there? Had she been captured? Would she reach him in time? The questions raced through his mind until it felt as if it was on fire.

There was no doubt that Salizar knew about his betrayal– he always knew. He'd seen men fight Salizar and lose before and imprisoned as he was Salizar would make easy work of him. His only hope was getting the message out before Salizar silenced him forever.

It wasn't that he'd found religion, it wasn't that he'd found his heart– it was a plea bargain of sorts. He was dying and he knew what waited for him on the other side. He'd seen it the last time they'd revived him.

There would be no next time.

Years of abuse and indulgence had taken their toll and there was only so much science and technology could do. Salizar would survive– he always did.

Othello looked at the clock and then back at the door. Five hours till morning– but a lot could happen in five hours. A lot.

Salizar smiled as his witness reported in. They were done for the evening– all that was left was setting up for the big day.

He wondered how long Daniel TwoBears would last without his precious Duck. It would be fun finding out.

‘And then...,' he savored the thought. ‘The Wilsons.'

Copyright 2001 - M.T. Decker

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