“Milady, milady, oomph…”
Alyssa half-stumbled, half-barreled through the regal wooden doors of Lady Leeia’s private chambers. Anyone else may have caught the business end of the throwing dagger Lady Leeia kept under her pillow, but the longtime Valkryie Commander had grown accustomed to Alyssa’s haphazard entrances. As such, she merely rolled over and groaned, reluctantly shaking off the last of a deep sleep.
“…Alyssa. Good morning…ooph.” Whatever remained of a pleasant night was ripped away by the young girl’s pouncing on the pristine silk sheets, burying her knees in Lady Leeia’s stomach. Even as Lady Leeia fought to keep her wind, resisting the urge to throttle the child, little Alyssa was carelessly, enthusiastically tearing the covers away. “Milady, you need to see this! C’mon!”
“Okay, okay, Alyssa…may I breathe?” Lady Leeia swung her legs over off the side of the bed and reached up to the wall at her right. She first took down her customized right arm, the one she could turn into anything she wanted, although retirement provided little opportunity to use it beyond anything mundane. After fastening her arm to her shoulder, she quickly donned her jet-black armor. “Now.” Lady Leeia began, “what is the emergency?”
Alyssa, all of five years old, bound over the bed to stand beside Lady Leeia and without hesitation, clasped her artificial, metallic right hand. “Could you please take us to the third wing observatory, please?”
“Okay.” Lady Leeia nodded, “But we’re going to walk.”
Alyssa blanched. “Um, milady? Your way is so much quicker.”
“I know.” Lady Leeia smiled knowingly and held eye contact with Alyssa, “But it looks like such a beautiful morning. I’d rather walk.”
Alyssa lowered her head, nervously biting the nail on her index finger, and nodded. “…k.”
As they exited her private chambers, Lady Leeia was pleasantly surprised to find that things weren’t as bad as they used to be. Unfortunately, Alyssa had learned to run before she could walk, and had never really mastered either. Other Valkryies had been woken by Alyssa’s tear through the barracks and were once again cleaning up behind her, picking up falling busts and replacing the decorative carpets the child had accidentally taken down. The child moved like a tornado but was twice as destructive. The Valkryies threw polite nods at their leader and quick glares to the child.
When they reached the Third Wing Observatory two flights up, Lady Leeia considered letting the Valkryies have the girl. “Alyssa…how many times have I told you not to bother me with one of your moving pictures?!”
“I know, milady, I know. But just watch, please…?”
It was either that or hurling the child through the open window at the left. Lady Leeia chose the former. She didn’t have much taste for the fictional moving images the people of Earth put together, especially the phony-looking battle sequences of their more popular films.
Ten seconds into the film, she noticed this was indeed different. The only shirtless man in the scene engaged another, shorter man with a wooden bear-claw right hand. The lithe, shirtless man attacked with such ferocity and such flawlessness in his technique that Lady Leeia wondered if this might be the real thing. His scream, high-pitched and feral, shook her to the core.
Alyssa smiled at seeing Lady Leeia’s captivation. “You see? You see?”
Alyssa held out her hands and motioned as if pulling something apart. The images split in two, following her hand. This same man was now fully dressed, calmly walking with another, older man in yellow. They were discussing the philosophies of the martial arts…philosophies Lady Leeia hadn’t heard the likes of which since Michael St. Ambrose had come into his own.
There was definitely something different about this man. “Who is this?”
“He was born Lee Jun Fan,” Alyssa replied quickly, eager to please, “But they call him ‘Bruce Lee’ in Amer..Amery…”
“America.” Lady Leeia finished.
“Yes!” Alyssa exclaimed. “America. Milady, I think we should recruit him.”
“For what?! No man can become a Valkryie!”
“No, but a man can train the Valkryies, milady. Uriel St. Morias did, according the libraries.”
“You must not have read to the end of that chronicle and seen how that turned out.” Lady Leeia mused. “I was there. It’s a bad idea. Besides, the Valkryies don’t need training…”
Alyssa grew somber. This next part would be tricky. “Milady…mom.”
Lady Leeia looked down to Alyssa in shock. She hadn’t referred to her like that for a couple of years now. “The Olymparus Patrol has been missing for months. We haven’t talked to the people who live there in almost a year…”
Lady Leeia exhaled. Alyssa spoke the truth. Although centuries had passed since any overt conflict, things had been tense lately near the border. Seven Valkryies missing was a bad omen. “Mom, I know you don’t like to think about it, but what if Yin is back?”
Lady Leeia said nothing, becoming transfixed on the moving picture.
“… If she has, we’ll have to fight…” Alyssa persisted, pointing back at the moving images. “…and if we have to fight, we’ll need people like him to show us how. Please, mom.”
For a moment, Lady Leeia watched the film. Closing her eyes, she nodded. “I need to see more.” She conceded. “If he’s as good as you say, the world will mourn him.”
“The world’ll recover. We’re doing this for them, right?”
“Okay, Alyssa. Return to your studies. I’ll pick up where you left off and let you know of my decision later.”
This story is dedicated to the enduring memory of Bruce Lee.
(c) Avery K. Tingle for Akting Out LLC
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