Characters: Singing Wolf
“Tunkashila, onshimala ye.” Grandfather Spirit, have mercy on us.
Those few words, a short, familiar prayer, had never meant so much as they did at that moment. For today, many of her people would die. That could not be changed. And if Tunkashila did not see fit to take pity on his children in their mission, perhaps millions would perish. Perhaps today would be her final day. She smiled slightly. Her grandfather had told her once that there were good days to die. This, she was certain, was one of them. Today, she was fighting for her people. But her people were no longer only the mighty Lakota, nor American Indians, or even Humans. Her people were all the sentient races of the galaxy. Her family was the Anla’shok.
Her mind began to wander as she stared unseeing at the swirls of red around her. She thought of her past, and the things that had brought her to this moment in time.
When she was a child, still bearing a child’s name, her grandmother had come to her. It was time for her hanblechia, her vision quest. Little Sparrow climbed the mountain, and prayed for a vision. She fasted for four days and nights, and huddled naked under a buffalo robe in the cold mountain air. She sang the songs she had been taught, and she cried until her voice was hoarse. Finally, the vison came. A beautiful woman in a shining white dress, carrying a blood red pipe in her left hand. She reached out with her right hand, and touched the girl’s face, streaked with tears. The girl looked up at her with bright eyes. She recognized this woman from her grandmother’s stories. This was White Buffalo Woman. She was the bearer of the sacred pipe, the one who taught the Lakota how to live in a good way. She took her hand, and led her to another, a woman who smiled gently and brushed the child’s hair from her eyes.
I am Bright Feather. The child’s eyes widened. This was her grandmother’s mother! She was a powerful medicine woman. Bright Arrow led her to the edge of a cliff as White Buffalo Calf Woman faded away. Little Sparrow trembled as she followed. Look over the cliff, child. Still shaking, the girl looked. Then she drew her breath in amazement. There before her was the most beautiful sight she had ever seen! A sparkling city with buildings made of crystal spires that spoke in gentle music in the breeze. Listen to what they tell you, daughter. Little Sparrow closed her eyes and focused her thoughts on the music. Just like her father had taught her to listen to the voices in the wind, or to understand the speech of the animals. The only things that existed in the universe were the music and the wind that carried it to her. It called to her, wrapped around her, trying to take her over the edge of the precipice to join them. It offered a warrior’s life, and a warrior’s death. She was afraid, but also deeply honored. The voices were ancient, wise, and strong. She felt humbled in their presence.
Suddenly, she was falling, and she opened her eyes to see the crystal city rushing up at her, the voices still calm in her mind. She held on to that calm, and opened her arms to the city and to the souls she sensed reaching for her. One building stood out from the rest, and sang louder. It reached towards the sky, like a wolf crying to the heavens.
She had stumbled down the mountain the next morning, her thoughts still far away on that shining place. She knew she would be leaving her family, and her heart was heavy. She looked around her, seeing the mountains and trees again, as if it were the last time. Or perhaps the first. It was much the same.
She was anxious to tell her grandmother what she had seen, and heard. She would help her find her path, and her grandfather would continue to teach her to be a warrior. He had started when she was very small, telling that the spirits had told him to do so. Her father had objected, wanting his only daughter to live in the traditional way, to have children, and her own lodge. But even her father could not deny what had happened to her. A sacred vision must be obeyed, and the gift of the spirits could not be turned away. She had been given such a gift, and a new name.
Singing Wolf checked her console one last time in preparation to exit the jump point. The systems on her Zen’Thas were finely tuned and ready for the battle ahead. She glanced up at the space around her, admiring the colors in hyperspace. Red, like the blood of the People. A good color for this day. The eagle feathers tied in her hair brushed softly against her cheek as she turned her face to view the myriad of ships that, like her, were waiting. She saw several Earthforce ships, a few alien vessels, and many White Stars. She nodded. Her allies today were not completely what she had expected, but were all she had prayed for. And they were here because of one man. Captain John Sheridan. She thought it ironic that she was fighting for a man who bore the same name as one of the generals who had massacred so many of her ancestors. But this Sheridan was honorable and wise. She had met him once, on Babylon 5. Her first thought when she had shaken his hand, was of her ancestor Crazy Horse. She had grown up on stories of Crazy Horse, he who was both holy man and warrior, who could not be harmed in battle. She believed he had been reincarnated in this white man, this one who had come back from the dead. Certainly Sheridan had wondered at the look in her eyes. But he smiled that charming smile, and made her welcome. She knew then that the Rangers were doing the right thing by following this man. He, indeed, was worthy of leading the Anla-Shok.
“Zen’Thas Squadron Delta, stand ready. We’re about to go in.” The voice of the commander of White Star 18 rang in her headset. With one more glance around her, she powered weapons and engines, ready to face whatever Tunkashila had planned for her future.