It seems most stories start in coffee shops, I wonder why that is. Perhaps its because writers are often broke and a cup of coffee is all they can afford; but this seems a bit unlikely to me considering the amount the fancy trendy shmucky places charge for a cup of over burnt beans. Perhaps its because you can people watch; although I’d have thought a mall a better place for it. Maybe its because its somewhere warm they can sit on their asses for hours and have washrooms nearby. Well, whatever the reason, I, Horse and Bear were meeting in a coffee shop. Bear paid for my coffee since I was a bit between successful jobs. Cougar had been invited but he was still a little cranky at me because of an incident twenty-six years ago. All I’d done was.. well, that’s not important, really. Let’s just say it was really funny.
My true name is Magpie, I’m the spiritual embodiment of the animal. I guess in the lingo of some, it makes me a demi-god. Mostly, it just means I have some tricks at claw and I don’t age. I’ve seen a lot, you know. I’ve even done some things. I’m not like Horse, he’s done all sorts of battles and wars. I’ll heal if I can, but I don’t like wading in blood and guts and anger and hate. Bear’ll fight if he feels home and family are threatened, otherwise he’ll stick to his cave. Its probably why I like Bear more than Horse. Anyway, these guys call me ‘Maggie’ and I call Bear Barry and Horse was Hearne. I was trying to resist calling them Barry and Harry. Mostly because Bear didn’t have a very good sense of humour.
Let me tell you what we must have looked like to a person looking on us. We sat at a stained wooden table, etched with grafitti of so-and-so loves so-and-so and opinions of various past politicians. I was on one side, Bear and Horse sat on the other. Bear is big. If Bear signed up to play linebacker for the CFL no one would be surprised. He’s not as tall as Horse, but he towers over me. He has sort of middling brown hair that he tends to wear shaggy since he forgets to get it cut and then just sort of hacks at himself. His hair is forever falling in his eyes and he’s forever brushing it out. He has really big, sort of blunt, hands. His skin, these days, is mostly metis. He looks well tanned with an undertone of red.
Horse is really tall. I don’t mean basketball player tall, but he’s just over a foot taller than me. He looks thin, part of its how he dresses, but he’s really whipcord atheletic. I’ve seen Horse pick up more than he should without even burning energy to do it. He’s kind of like a long distance runner meets ballet dancer. Though, I really don’t want to picture him in tights thank you very much. He has blonde hair that he wears long, falling down his back, thick, kinda wavy and makes any girl walking past want to dig her hands in and braid it. He has these bright blue eyes that are always moving, he knows where everyone and everything is around him. Horse looks so white he practically reflects. We like to tease him that the sun is trying to turn him back to red man. Its probably a good thing Horse has a sense of humour or he’d have stomped me long ago.
Me, well I’m like five feet, four inches. Yeah, pretty short, right? I wish I could say I was delicate like a bird, but unfortunately I’m more stocky than anything else. Of course, if I didn’t wear layers of clothes in a mix of Lolita and street hag, I’d probably look slimmer. I suppose I should care about that sort of thing, being female, but I really didn’t. Anyway, so, as I said, short, stocky, dark brown eyes, skin that’s more olive than red, and slim fingers good for reaching into pockets. A girl’s gotta make a living, although Bear made me promise long ago to keep my fingers to myself when he’s about. I suppose its the least I can do since he often buys me food and drink. Bear’s a good guy. I have black hair with a white streak, most say ‘Oh, totally Rogue!’ or ask if I’m a Dragon’s Den fan, but let me tell you, I had it centuries before either existed. Its my fashion statement, not their’s!
This was possibly the first time Bear had ever called us together. Normally it was Horse or Wolf, or y’know, one of the rabble rousers or war mongerers. So, we’d been really curious. I guess we four (gotta count Cougar even if he didn’t show) were the only ones in the area to hear the call, ‘cause I know some of the curious like Vixen and Mink would have been here in a shot. Maybe we should teach Bear how to use the internet.
“So, what’s up?” I finally asked since it didn’t seem Bear was going to do much but compare crafting tips with Horse. “I mean, I don’t think you wanted me here to know how to stick one bit of wood into another.”
Bear gave a bit of an ironic smile, brushing that shag out of his face yet again, “True. You’re better at taking things apart than putting them together.” Horse snorted, amused. I just rolled my eyes, no point in disagreeing since it was true, but I wasn’t going to encourage him, either! “No, I .. we, need to do something about the pipeline.”
Horse and I exchanged a startled look. Horse ‘cause Bear didn’t exactly start fights, he more ambled into them and cleared up the mess by knocking everyone out. Me, ‘cause, well, “Uhm, Bear, the people’ll are like 65% against the thing. The First Nations are refusing to let it be built on their lands. What’s to be done?”
Bear sighed, “I don’t know. I just have a feeling.” He shook his head, “I think the government knows its on the way out and might see a way to get power and money before they’re replaced. They’re projecting a lot of hate in other directions and ducking the pipeline as much as possible.”
“The premier totally told Alberta not a chance!” I said.
It was Horse’s turn to shake his head. “No, she didn’t. She gave a price tag and said ‘meet it or beat it’ in the Michael Jackson sense. What if they meet it?”
I gave him the ‘you’re crazy look’ and then gave it to Bear too for good measure. “C’mon Bear, what’s the real deal? You don’t just stick your nose in.”
“I have a feeling.” He repeated.
I sighed. Bear was not one of us who had visions or foresights. He really wasn’t. I mean, we may help and support all the good people of the land no matter when or how they got here, but we still had our areas of influence and this so wasn’t one of Bear’s. My eyes narrowed, “Snake asked you, didn’t he?” Or at least, I think Snake was male at the moment, he kind of changed back and forth as he saw fit.
Bear shrugged a shoulder, “Does it matter? I feel he’s right. We need to look into it.”
I wanted to ask ‘why us?’ but Horse was already agreeing. I could probably finish the coffee and high tail it outta there, I mean, technically speaking while we were family we were more like third cousins from opposite sides of a bunch of marriages. I had no official obligation, I had no blood sworn duty here, but I like Bear, I’d even tried to seduce him a few times. Besides, as I said, he feeds me and that’s not something to forget. “Okay.” I said, startling them both. “Do you have a plan?” I asked.
“No.” He looked to Horse.
Horse looked briefly up at the ceiling, the whole ‘I should have known’ gesture. “Alright. Let me think.”
So, Bear and I ignored talking about Snake and my feelings about him and his visions and talked about ways I could go straight and get a real job and I told him why not and well, basically, it was the same argument we’ve been having for centuries. Hey, at least I wasn’t into prostitution. That argument always got me Bear’s droll look.
“Maggie’ll go to Toronto and infiltrate their HQ, find out all information you can on what the big wigs are doing about geting their way. Bear’n’I will go to Edmonton and figure out what they have so far and what they’re prepping for. I’d be surprised they’re not already building supplies if they thnk they’re going to get the go ahead.” I opened my mouth, “I’ll cover it, Maggie.” I closed my mouth again, wondering if I should be insulted.
“Okay.” I agreed. I didn’t like Toronto much, but then, I didn’t like any city much. I was a suburbs and rural kind of gal. A sigh, I suppose I’d have to find some sort of office slave outfit or six too. The things I did for my friends. Another sigh, yeah, they were friends. I know Bear’d be there in a heartbeat if I, say, needed bailing out of jail or something. Horse’d be there for any fight, ready to defend me even if I was in the wrong.
“I’ll Interac you the funds.” Bear looked puzzled at Horse’s words.
“We’ll teach you computers sooner or later, Bear.” I said. I loved computers, the wonders you could do with hacking. Not to mention video games were fun.
“That’s okay. I’m happy coming to you when I need the technological help.” He said. He looked ready to get up and go right now. I guess our meeting was over.
I drank down the last of my disgusting coffee, I wasn’t one to turn down free caffiene no matter how rude it was, and stood up. Swinging my vintage world war 2 medic bag over one shoulder (I only mention it because I totally love the thing) I stood up. “I’ll let you know what flight I get and stuff. But I’ll have you know I’m flying out of Abbotsford. YVR is a beautiful airport, but that many people just gives me the hives.”
Horse blinked, Bear sighed. Neither, however, tried to convince me otherwise. Probably ‘cause YXX was cheaper to fly out of anyway. Either way, I was soon out the door and back into the rain of the Pacific North West; the Pacific North Wet to us locals.
I didn’t much like flying. Wait, let me rephrase that, I didn’t like flying when it wasn’t my wings doing the beating. But, I guess shifting to fly all the way to Toronto would be a bit of a waste of energy and take forever besides. It was possible to do a translocate, but that really would be a waste of energies and I really would be a useless bird for quite a while after; I only used it in the uptmost of emergencies. I wasn’t like Beaver who had an entire country’s worship, I didn’t have the energies to waste. I gave a glance up at the murky overcast sky. Maybe it’d be warmer in Toronto; I didn’t mind rain but I was getting a bit tired of all the gray.