Cat got involved with a venerable street samurai who caught her eye when she was helping her parents on the street. Her parents have graduated to harder stuff over the years—high-end tech from the corp. that, if they get caught, would probably result in them having their hands and various other parts removed before they get sent out into the wasteland somewhere. But back then they were doing small enough things to involve her and her siblings in the work. At that point, there were still all living safely in the mega plex, but her parents wanted to make extra money, to give their children the best life possible. And, occasionally, to buy themselves a bigger plasma screen tv. So, they disguised their outings as “family bonding days” and took the kids with them to sell bits on the street. Cat never really knew what they were selling. She just knew this was part of family life. The other part of family life was seeing people all around her disappeared, tortured, and kidnapped, on a daily basis. She didn’t yet know the concept of honor. She only knew that this part of reality didn’t sit well with her. So she watched the streets, saw the injustices, and suffered knowing there was nothing she could do about it.
One day, she saw an old man, slightly stooped and very wizened looking, holding a walking stick and staring at her from a corner halfway down the block, on the other side of the street. He was standing very still, and was staring at her. She stared back for a minute, but he wouldn’t look away, as people often did from her pointed gaze. Finally, he smiled slightly and beckoned her towards him. Then he turned and started down the street leading away from her parents. She wasn’t nervous. Her parents had trained them to be street wise and how to read potential “marks”. She wondered if the man wanted to bid for a special price, outside of the hearing of her parents. Perhaps he had his own wares and wanted to gauge her interest before he offered a trade. Curious, she followed after the man, glancing only once at her parents to give them the signal that she was off after a mark. When she got to the corner she was surprised to see that the old man was already to the far end of the street, entering a noodle shop on the corner. She jogged after him, wondering how he could have moved so quickly.
When she entered the restaurant, it took her eyes a moment to adjust. In that moment, she felt movement behind her, but before she could turn, she felt something hard against her throat. “You are not cautious enough, young one. That’s how quickly someone could turn on you and harm you. It takes but a matter of seconds.” His voice creaked with age, but it was steady as he murmured this near her ear. She clenched her teeth together angrily and tried to step back and drop to her knees in an attempt to escape, the way her mother had taught her. But he merely kept his grip on the object at her throat put his palm flat against her back, between her shoulder blades. “That will not work on anyone who is paying even the smallest amount of attention. But, it is good that you are a fighter.” He released her then, and she whirled, hands out, ready to beat this person to a pulp. The old man smiled at her, eyes full of mischief. “I’m sorry, young lady, I merely wanted to point out to you the potential error of barging into a room when you cannot see clearly and could be walking into an ambush. Even with your low-light vision, you cannot see through walls.” His smile broadened, and he held his hands away from his body, to show that he meant her no harm. “Join me for a meal, won’t you?”
With that, he walked away and took a table in the corner, a low wooden one with Zabuton cushions. He sat down so that he faced the door, and her, and laid his walking cane upon the edge of the table. She bit her lip, uncertain. She was both furious at this old man for embarrassing her, and intrigued by him. No adult had ever treated her this way. The guards at home treated her with deference, her parents treated her kindly for the most part, perhaps a harsh word when she made a mistake. And she had training in martial arts, but she saw now that it amounted to little more than basic exercise. She glanced at the door once, and then walked towards the old man’s table.
The old man motioned for Cat to sit to his left against the wall and smiled. “You are engaging in a dangerous line of work, with your family. I know you have your parents with you, but someday they may not be at hand and the streets can be dangerous. You have spirit, and you are very brave. Perhaps you would like to learn how to protect those traits and put them to good use for those around you.” She considered this. It appealed to the feelings of anger and injustice which she had not yet put into words. She didn’t know why it appealed to her, just that the idea made her feel better than she had in a long time. She finally nodded, and the old man beckoned the waitress over to the table. The waitress brought with her steaming matcha, and two bowls of rice with meat dumplings on top. Her mouth watered, but she resisted the urge to dig in before first asking the man, “Why did you want me to follow you. Why are you saying all of this to me?” He smiled at her again, and brought the tea to his lips before answering. “Because you are a fighter. And because you have a sense of honor about you. Let me tell you about the Samurai…”
She began to spend more and more of her “outing” time with the retired samurai. In their time together, she found that he was far more competent and less “old” than he let on. If threatened, he could bring himself to his full height and in an instant, attackers would recognize that this was not the weak target they had pegged him to be, but rather a seasoned and competent fighter. His age would fall away and he would become a terrifying combatant. A formidable foe. A Samurai.
He taught her the techniques and art of stealth. He taught her the ways of the street. He taught her a code of honor, and to be righteous in how she fought and what she fought for. He taught her compassion, but he also taught her that sometimes the most honorable path is to put an end to someone who brings suffering to the world or to others. And he taught her that in this, her kills must always be clean, and done with a sense of honor and just retribution, never in anger.
The old man became her mentor, and like a second father to her. He trained her, helped her through her change when the SURGE happened, encouraged her to keep her nickname and own it, in spite of her new feline features. When she became addicted to BTLs and escapism, he helped her learn the art of tea ceremony and physical training so that she could use these as an anchor to calm her mind and body. He gave counsel when she dealt with family and lovers who would not accept her, and always treated her with equanimity and respect. He made her feel “seen” as the middle child of five, and led her to find self-respect when so many around her dismissed her for “succumbing” to the SURGE.
When she completed a task imperfectly, he required her to do it again until she reached the level of perfection he expected of her. But he always did so with respect. She grew to admire his frim but gentle strength. She remained fierce, feisty, and occasionally brutal, but she always admired him for his ability to be soft yet strong at the same time. He only resorted to unyielding and fierce intimidation when it was absolutely called for. And in these moments, he was terrifying to behold. She admired this about him, as well.
After many years of training and travel together, he told her he had to make passage somewhere on his own. To keep her tears at bay, he quickly followed this up with the gift of her two wakizashi swords and his treasured Samurai blade. He told her he would return some day to collect them, and that it would do him great honor if she would uphold both of their ideals while he was away. She tearfully accepted, and swore that she would continue to protect the streets and the defenseless in his name. He told her, it must be in her name, if she was to truly honor him.
The retired Samurai has been gone since then. She is not sure where he has gone or when he will return. She keeps the Samurai sword at home, on her mantle, with triple trip-wire alarms and electric shock defenses protecting it from theft. She will not use this blade until she feels she is worthy of wielding it. Until then, she uses the wakizashis and the lessons he taught her to defend the ideals she and the Samurai believe in.
In her free time, when she is not defending the streets or running jobs, Cat engages people in an event she started some years ago, called “Dual Duels.” Challengers must be able to wield dual weapons, and be actually wielding both when the duel ends in order to be victorious. The challenge has grown in popularity, particularly around the establishments Cat frequents. There have been smaller circles started where competitors rise in the ranks to the point where they are allowed to come and challenge Cat herself. To date, no one has ever bested her.
Dual Duel Rules:
1) Must wield dual weapons.
2) No instantly lethal weapons permitted e.g. vibro-whips, (goes to her code of honor; the point is the challenge, not a bloodbath).
3) No lethal blows with weapons.
4) Challengers may “submit” at any time. Once they do, the match ends, no more blows may be dealt in the match.
5) The person being challenged may not submit. They do not have to accept the Challenge to fight, but if they do, they must compete until they are victorious or until they are beaten.
6) A competitor is “beaten” when they no longer rise to fight. A downed fighter has 3 seconds to begin rising before considered “beaten”.
7) Otherwise, the victor is the fighter still standing with two weapons in hand once the other has either submitted or been beaten.