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Sept. 7 – The New Guard

Lisa stepped outside the asylum building, looking around cautiously, and walked across the courtyard toward the gates. Ever since the asylum had come under direct threat from Prometheus and his siblings, and the guards had been posted here, she’d hardly been outside. She hadn’t been able to slip off to the last Feline meeting, and had even barely had opportunities to speak with any cats alone. It was frustrating, but she certainly understood why it was necessary.

She’d known early that Dr. Solsen had hired Mr. Wright as a watchman for the asylum, though she hadn’t really had the chance yet to speak with him. She rather thought she would now, to see what he was like. So when she reached the gate, she peeked through the bars and shyly said, “Hello,” to the large wolf standing nearby.

Mr. Wright tipped his hat. “Evenin’, miss.”

“All’s well, I hope?”

“So far, all’s been quiet,” he replied, his eyes performing a quick scan of the street and nearby rooftops, making sure all was indeed quiet.

“Do you need anything?” she asked. “Water? Food?”

He scratched his chin, thinking. “I reckon I could go for some black coffee, if you wouldn’t mind.”

Lisa nodded, and scurried back into the asylum. A few moments later, she came back with a mug of coffee, handing it to Mr. Wright through the bars. He smiled at her, taking the mug and bringing it up to his lips, pausing to blow the rising wisps of steam away from his nose before taking a sip. “Thank you kindly, miss,” he said.

She smiled back, a little tentatively. She could see, though, that he was still braced and alert, even as he continued to sip at the coffee. That, to her, was a good sign. “We… we are glad you here,” she said quietly, though somewhat fervently.

“Well, that’s a relief,” he replied, giving her a slight smile over the mug before he took another sip. “It’s good that my services, ghastly as they can be at times, are appreciated.”

“I do hope it’ll turn out that we don’t need you,” Lisa said. Then she added pessimistically, “But somehow, I don’t think we’ll be that lucky.”

Mr. Wright nodded, handing her the now-empty mug. “Oftentimes I’ve found, when people hire me, it’s because they need me. It ain’t a matter of if, only of when.” He tensed, staring down the street at an approaching figure, then relaxed a little when he recognized Beryl.

“Hello, Mr. Wright,” Beryl called. As he drew closer, he also answered Lisa’s greeting wave. His twitching tail, though, told her there was trouble for him to relate.

“Evenin’, Beryl.” The wolf nodded cordially at the cat.

“I’m afraid I have some bad news. Lilith was taken earlier today.” He nodded at Lisa’s alarmed hiss, and continued, “Before she was, one of them said that they planned to attack the asylum soon – within the next day, in fact. I don’t think that one was lying, either.”

Mr. Wright growled, “Damned freakshows.”

“I don’t think that they intend to drag the place down brick by brick.” Beryl shrugged. “But they might. Just be careful and ready, I suppose, if you’re going to keep the job.”

Mr. Wright adjusted the strap of his Henry rifle and scowled. “One thing they ain’t learned – but they will – is that nobody, and I mean nobody, messes with them that hold a contact with Black Jack. I didn’t get that name for no reason.” His eyes flashed, almost monstrously.

“I rather suspect, Mr. Wright, that they don’t care who anyone is,” replied Beryl dryly. “One of their own died on Saturday night. Prometheus apparently said he was proud of him… and Kuga.”

“They will care when I’m done with ‘em.” Mr. Wright’s expression was one of cruel spite.

Beryl nodded, then turned to look at Lisa, sitting up a little. “Lisa? Are you okay?”

She nodded, though she was sure her fear was plain to be seen. “Do… do you want my friends to look for them? Or Lilith?”

“I don’t think they know anything,” Beryl gently said. “Besides, I already know who we need to ask.” He paused. “If I don’t come back, take care of Myn for me.”

Lisa’s eyes widened, but she nodded, and watched as Beryl trotted away. Finally, she turned her focus to Mr. Wright. “You will stay, then?”

“When I make a deal, miss, the devil himself couldn’t make me break my word. I’ll be here.”

“Thank you.” She crossed the courtyard back to the asylum, the empty mug dangling almost forgotten from one hand.

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