Heylyn landed rolling to break her downward momentum converting it to horizontal force. She emerged from the roll leg first leveling the side of her foot blade style directly into the abdomen of the Dragon Butterfly. She flew against the far wall of the alley and impacted the wall full force then fell to the pavement.
Three of the gang members who'd pulled their hand guns in defense against the Dragon Butterfly quickly turned their attention to the Butterfly Dragon. She wasted no time and quickly dodged the first gunshot, which narrowly flew by her cheek as she ducked launching herself into an aerial strike downward upon the gunman. The force of her trained fist impacting his cheek threw him to the ground unconscious as the others opened fire. She quickly spun cartwheeling onto her hands extending both of her legs in a spinning scissor kick. Both remaining gunmen took the brunt of force of her extended heels sending them to the concrete unconscious.
"I'm impressed. I didn't think you had it in you." the Dragon had gotten to her feet, brushing herself off.
"They need to answer for their crimes before a court, not you." the Butterfly said after she'd pushed herself back onto her feet.
"I imagine they'll earn quite a name for themselves in jail. Having faced down against us and lived? You do realize that you just made them heroes amongst their own?" the Dragon approached the Butterfly.
"They'll tell lies to their peers to elevate their status in the group. A group that operates on the power of might. Might though, does not mean right." the Butterfly spoke.
"Very good. Literate too I see. E. B. White I believe? Now I suppose that you are The Once And Future Queen? Regardless, they'll be looked up to by the rest of those... social scraps. Table droppings. And that will unify them. Unified, they have power. Might is it not? The power of numbers is undeniable. Even us with our training, abilities and the spirit of our ancestors could not match the power of numbers. Might is right. The more you are, the more right you are." the Dragon challenged her.
"Theirs is just a dance before an audience of those who chase the next immediate gratification without the hope of a long term dream or goal or making this world a little bit better each day. Their survival will only ensure them pop status for a short time in jail until someone else challenges it. Then that person will be the figure head around which they rally. No reason to kill them. That makes us no better than them." the Butterfly spoke.
"Ahhhh. But you don't realize that we too do the same dance before the same kind of people. We're just a flavour of the month to others. We too have an audience who rally around us and if we fail to appease that beast, well then... you're starting to realize that. They have no loyalty because their virtues are founded of the same lust for immediate gratification. They're just on one side of the legal fence. So I'm euthanizing the others before they can threaten that. You could call it a... community service." the Dragon reasoned.
"They don't know now, but you're making them complicit in your acts of murder. When the balance has to be paid for your crimes, you'll be long gone and they'll be left with the bill. Then they'll know the true price of their complicity with your means." the Butterfly countered the Dragon.
"I'm very impressed, Butterfly. You're not just a vain beauty with a few splatters of make up and some tight clothing designed to garner you some cat calls. You're actually quite the philosopher. Who's that? Your Mother speaking? Your Grandmother? Wait, your quiet and hard working Father? Where did you earn that trait from? You're not still believing that children's tale about the Butterfly Dragon are you? That's nonsense concocted by a bunch of aging farmers who got sick of paying their due to the local land owners you know." the Dragon forced her knowledge of ancient history upon the Butterfly.
"They weren't land owners. They were murderous nomads. No land ownership because they called no land their own. Never having worked the land a day in their life. They'd never planted something to work it, nurture it, watch it grow and ultimately feed the people. They only showed up when they ran out of food to slash and burn the farming villages and steal their crops. Their homes that were built upon their work growing rice in the paddies. They learned to defend themselves against those murderers, who'd murder the village artists and philosophers first, in attempt to gain the support of the hard working farmers. Pit them against one another in attempt to make it easier the next time they needed food." the Butterfly stood her ground.
"You still don't get it." the Dragon spoke walking around the Butterfly.
"There's people here who don't want you here either. Do you think that this is your land? Our land? Look at our tradition here, the two of us fighting a battle beyond most people's concept of time. Before even this land existed. They don't want us here. You fight to defend a land in which you are not even welcomed by the local population. You know the type. The ones whose ancestors only a few generations ago came here and conquered the indigenous people, segregating them to a small piece of land and giving them their table scraps as you say. All of the sudden they're lurching around on their fat laurels like they somehow nurtured the fertile land this country is built upon. Half of them steal the deeds of others to get by. Like the... nomads as you called them where our ancestors hail from? So now the Butterfly has emerged from her cocoon of our traditions to protect the virtues of the farmers of old, upon whose hard work the first artisans and philosophers were able to emerge. Now you come here and protect another group of nomads with a different name and background, who stole it all away from another group of people to build this land? The funny part is that there are many amongst those people who just inherited this land from those who took it. So you protect the descendants of the nomads now and not the farmers upon whose back the land is built?" the Dragon posed.
The Butterfly wavered for a moment, perhaps a butterfly in flight might veer from its course from the force of a strong wind.
"This land has had its growing pains and injustices. Ancestors from my family on my Mother's side came here eight generations ago and helped build the national rail line. Chinese immigrants in a country which had just been born. In their memoirs they recounted working along side Irish immigrants who'd fled the potato famine. A man from Kenya whose ancestors had been liberated from slavery in the south just a three generations before. A Japanese immigrant who'd fled a struggling economy back in Japan just before the emergence of the first western industrialization in Japan, to seek work here. A couple of men from India who'd come here for the same reasons. Two Natives, one a Sioux national and the other Cree, who had lost family as a result of fighting against the expansion of the Commonwealth. A slew of Scottish and British hard backs as they called them, who reveled in hard work and a few stout French men, who'd been working as porters for a cartographer prior to the construction project. There they worked together laying every rail from Alberta to British Columbia for five years of back breaking labour. When they got to British Columbia, they had to start blasting which was very risky work. The men without wives or families to provide for would draw straws whenever a blasting charge would need to be set to remove obstructing rock. On one of those draws, the Cree Native came up with a short straw. As the story goes, one of the Irish men broke his straw to make it shorter so the Cree man wouldn't have to take the risk. The Kenyan man, who was without wife then broke his straw so the Irish man wouldn't have to do the task. One of the Brits broke his straw so the Kenyan wouldn't take the risk. Then the Japanese man broke his straw to protect the Brit. The Japanese man was about to grab the satchel with the explosives, when one of my ancestors, showed his straw, which was shorter than all of the others. He said to them I guess I win. He took the satchel and while setting the charge, the explosives which were far more volatile at that time, accidentally went off. He lost his life and his brother went on to take his compensation and married here. My immediate family came here generations later just after I was born. All of those railway men were friends and considered each other family even until this day, their families still work together in the interests of labour and safety in this country. This country which grew as fast as it did as a result of the construction of that railway. Much like a farm, whose fertility supported artists and philosophers to celebrate the beauty of life. I do not protect the thieving nomads who steal the hard work of the farmers. I still protect the farmers and the people here as my ancestors did in the land of our ancestors' beginnings. But this is my home and I will protect it. From them. From you." the Butterfly said taking her defensive stance.
"A touching tale but the real test will be in the hands of the people. Butterfly. You brought the fight to me while I was trying to clean up a festering problem in this city. I intend to bring the fight to you right in your back yard." the Dragon spoke and as her rage climaxed she charged.
She swung her arm wide and high first as Heylyn blocked, leaving her abdomen open. The Dragon spun quickly bringing her other fist around into her stomach. Heylyn flew back rolling over and back onto her feet just as the Dragon continued her onslaught. The Dragon threw five quick jabs in succession, Heylyn blocking each easily. When the Dragon spun for a spinning back handed punch, Heylyn ducked arcing her feet into a foot sweep once again catching the Dragon off guard. She collapsed to the concrete quickly rolling back up and onto her feet. The Dragon backed off.
"Very impressive. You bested me in the first round. I you in the second. Now you bested me in the third. I can hardly wait for the fourth... But that will have to wait, Butterfly. Ta ta for now." the Dragon leapt at a fire escape scaling it quickly towards the roof of the low rise building.
The Butterfly Dragon flew towards the roof only to impact a wall of flying blackness that emerged from nowhere. She suddenly found herself alone with something dark and furious stalking her. She backed up unable to see the walls of the alley way, tripping over one of the bodies of the gang members the Dragon Butterfly had murdered. It rose from its place on the ground reaching for her. She screamed backing away from it, suddenly feeling a sense of looming terror. One by one the dead gang members rose from their concrete graves and stalked towards her. She cowered away into the alley wall unable to move, petrified with fear.
She was a little girl again. She was in the corner of her bedroom at home crying and scared. She'd just seen monsters in a nightmare, much like the one she was facing now as a Woman. She shook as she remembered and as the dead gang members approached her slowly staggering towards her. She closed her eyes and cried. When she thought the monsters might get her, she felt someone stroking her hair. She turned and saw her Mother's face.
"It is alright, little one with a big heart. You are safe. You have to believe in yourself. I won't always be around to help you overcome your fears." her Mother said to her.
"But they're monsters. They're going to get me and eat me." little Heylyn said.
"Monsters might be scary, but they're the ones who are really afraid. That's why they need to attack you in numbers. You just have to face them and they'll back down." her Mother said.
"But I'm scared..." she cried again curling up into a ball.
"Don't be. You know why? Because you're the Butterfly. The Butterfly Dragon. Just like the story." her Mother said to her.
"...really?" she asked meekly.
"...you have to believe." her Mother whispered to her.
She sat thinking about it for a moment before fighting off that last urge to hide again, and then she stood as the monsters approached, taking a defensive stance like the one she'd learned in her first katas of the third kyu.
"I'm not running monsters! I am not afraid of you. You aren't going to hurt anyone anymore!" she yelled confidently.
She stood her ground and as the gang members approached her closing their distance, she began to doubt her confidence. She felt afraid, but she stood her ground anyway.
They progressed a little further before they began to shudder and then fell back to the concrete where they remained. dead as they had once been.
She turned to her Mother, who'd now taken another familiar form. That of Weltherwithsp.
"You see. There are Dragons not so vile as the one who'd death beguile on a whim the game begins where it ended last..." Weltherwithsp spoke to her.
"But you led me to a trap Weltherwithsp!" young Heylyn exclaimed.
"I did no such thing nor brought you suffr'ing. Monsters too there did you face, a different kind and without waste. You tried to reason, tried to save but while they left you, they found their grave." Weltherwithsp told her.
Heylyn thought about what had happened in the abandoned parking lot that had become home to disowned cars and scrap. It was true, she'd come there to take those men to justice, while the Dragon Lady had shown up to take them to their grave. She'd faced them both, another manipulation of the Dragon Butterfly.
"The battles you face aren't always fought with physical prowess, the fists you've wrought. Sometimes a battle is fought in word, a punching fist cannot be heard. Therefore it speaks to only one, you must reach many before this will be undone." Weltherwithsp said to her.
Heylyn thought about Weltherwithsp's statement and once again found herself as a mature Woman, standing in an alley. She looked around, seeing the three that she had knocked unconscious were coming around. She quickly secured the three of them together and then to the fire escape. She then pulled her cellular phone and dialed 9-1-1.
"Hello? Yes I need Police and paramedics to an alley just off Yonge Street and Temperance Street. I heard gun fire and I think the tattoo lady may be involved!" she said into the phone.
"Stay away from the conflict and try to get to safety. Police and paramedics will arrive shortly Ma'am. Just stay on the phone..." the operator assured Heylyn as Heylyn hung up.
She pocketed the phone and then took to the air and found her way back to her Queen's Quay condo, landing on the roof and dropping down the one floor to the penthouse. It was well after midnight and Monique had fallen asleep on the couch, while Warai was in bed asleep.
"She's in bed." Monique said to Heylyn, not really looking at her.
"I know." Heylyn responded.
"I'm going home, chief. I'll see you tomorrow for coffee. G'nite." Monique stumbled to the door and found her way out.
"Thanks Monique. Look I know you..." Heylyn started before Monique cut her off.
"You don't know. You didn't grow up like I did and you don't know what its like living that kind of life or with those kind of people. You're on the wrong side of this whole thing. They need to pay for what they do. I don't want to hear it. I'm going to bed." Monique closed the door behind her.
What Heylyn had made in progress against the Dragon Butterfly she'd lost in gaining the support of Monique. The Strawberry Ecclipse.
Warai too was having nightmares of her own. With monsters much like those Heylyn had faced. Only this time it was the Dragon Butterfly that saved her.
To be continued...
Copyright © 2015 Brian Joseph Johns
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