Coffee. I’m totally a coffee morning type person.
On the rare occasion, I will have juice. Has to be orange juice, and I like the pulpy stuff. Just has more zing to it, I suppose.
Tea is an evening drink. Or mid morning or mid afternoon. Because that’s how I grew up. We had mid morning tea and biscuits and mid afternoon tea. It was nice, and I often wish I could do it again. I suppose on weekends, but not during the week.
The download of chapter three is here.
And, once again, here is a complete download containing all three chapters.
- Rocket Fox – Chapter One Complete (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Rocket Fox – Chapter One & Two download (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
The walk from the main faculty building where such hearings as this disciplinary hearing take place was not far from the House Ocelot barracks. A series of buildings which were well build, but in such a way to prepare each student for life on a base. It was mid afternoon, and this meant most everyone would be gathered at the barracks mess for tea. Almost all of them knew today was the final ruling for Jada’s hearing.
Captain Mallard walked with Senia and Jada until they reach the entrance to the barracks grounds. She turned and offered a small salute to the two Vulpine, and began to walk off to her own office when she stopped and looked to Jada.
“For what it’s worth, Private Hawkspur,” she stated in an even voice. “While I understand the consequences and ruling handed down to you, this academy will be poorer now that you will barred from the Air Corps.” She offered a nod and turned, but again stopped and said with a small smile. “And for what it’s worth, if I had been in your shoes, Willinham would have gotten it just as good from me.” She didn’t wait for another word from either Senia or Jada, but just continued on her course.
“Did that sound like an endorsement to you?” Jada asked with her usual smirk.
“Hard to tell,” Senia replied before steering them toward the mess hall. “I guess now it’s time to face a different kind of hearing. No doubt, thanks to our incredible security to keep things quiet, will ensure that everyone knows today was the day for your final ruling.”
“A barrage of questions,” Jada said with a sigh. “I don’t know if I can face that.”
“Voicing frustration,” Senia corrected her. “Just as I did on the second day of your hearing. And they have every right. Of the top pilots, you were number 5. We’re losing a good pilot.”
“You know,” Jada said as she lowered her voice, leaning over to Senia a bit as they walked. “I hope your objections don’t get yourself into trouble.”
“I’ll handle myself,” Senia reassured her. “But the ruling board had to know my feelings. It was no different when Jennings hearing came about, nor when Caliope’s. They were in our top fifteen. I know there’s discipline, but there’s also a loyalty to your house. To your comrades.”
They approached the mess hall in a leisurely walk, as though they were crossing the yard from the barracks like any other day. But, this was different. They could both see into the building, the number of faces looking outside, waiting. “Time to face the music,” Jada said with a sigh.
Inside the mess hall, you could hear a pin drop. It seemed as though every member of House Ocelot was waiting to hear word of the outcome. Someone would have to say something before rumours started. Senia looked to Jada, who only nodded. Jada knew that Senia had to say something, but she also knew Senia would say it in a diplomatic and truthful way.
“If I could have everyone’s attention,” Senia started, speaking in as clear a voice as her speech impediment would allow. “I am certain that you are all waiting to hear the outcome of the hearing. So I’ll announce it here and now, and that way any rumours can end with this announcement. The ruling board has come to the decision that Jada Hawkspur will be stripped of rank and barred from serving aboard any vessel in the Royal Vulpine Armada for a period no less than ten years.” There was a groan of protest that went through the cadets who had gathered. Senia quickly put up a hand for silence, and then continued. “However. Because Jada is so close to graduation, she will continue her studies and once complete, granted a civilian degree. I don’t think that there will be any difficulty for her obtaining that.”
“At least we’ll still have her for our rough ball semi final match,” one young Felanus said with a dejected sigh as he attempted to find some silver lining in this sow’s ear.
“I wouldn’t hold my breath on that, Sparky,” Jada said with some reluctance. It was enough of an admission that Jada had been barred from extracurricular activities, and it sent frustration through the room.
“Everyone!” Senia called out as she held up her hand. When the room settled down once more, Senia looked to the Felanus who made the comment. “Corporal Sparks, if you have something to say…”
“Permission to speak freely,” he asked as he tried to hold back his own anger. Senia nodded and gave him her full attention. “With all due respect, this is complete bollocks. Jada was one of our best. And to be honest, I was there when Willy said what he said. He deserved getting a slap across the jaw.” He grumbled slightly and took a deep breath before he finished. “And to top it all off, we’ve lost one of our best strikers.”
“I’m glad that I rank so highly for a match of rough ball,” Jada said with her usual laugh. “But, I appreciate the sentiment, Sparky.”
The group began talking among themselves once again, and Senia began to realize there was something that they could still do for Jada at the very least. “I think,” Senia called out over the other voices, letting them know she had something to say to each of them. “There is still something we can do. It’s not protocol, but in this instance, protocol be damned. It’s tradition for each cadet to be given a send off dinner. And as Jada ranked so highly in squadron and pilot tests,” she said and looked to Sparky. “And as her position as striker on the house rough ball team.” That brought about a small chuckle throughout the room. “But I think Jada has at least garnered the respect of all of us to deserve at least that. Perhaps you could arrange something, Corporal Sparks. Off base, that is.”
“We can probably contact one of the restaurants in the village proper,” he suggested. “Maybe in a week. After the semi final.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Senia remarked with a smile and nodded to Sparky, then looked to Jada. The suggestion was good enough to bring spirits up with the group for the time being at least. Senia then looked around the room for a moment, suddenly taking note of two people that were missing. “Sparky,” she said as she moved over to the aforementioned Felanus. “Have you seen either Hardy or Clarfax?”
“Um… Hardy couldn’t stand waiting around,” he informed Senia. “So she went off to the motor pool to see if there might be something she could do.”
“Like forget her troubles and worries in an engine block,” Senia said with a sigh as Sparky nodded in agreement. “And Clarfax?”
“Last I heard, he was taking in the guest lecture this afternoon,” Sparky replied as he shrugged his shoulders. “Colonel Tyrell had invited Professor Bellton to speak on quantum mechanics. Last minute booking from what I’ve heard.” He scratched behind his ear for a moment before adding. “I could go find them if you want.”
“No, thank you though, Sparky,” Senia replied. “You’ll have your work cut out for you getting this dinner ready. And try to keep it quiet, we don’t need the faculty hearing about it. As far as anyone should know, it’s just a celebratory dinner, after the semi final.” Sparky nodded quickly and turned around in his chair to start jotting down some notes. Jada had slid up beside Senia and nudged her lightly.
“Good way to turn a negative into a positive,” she said with a smile.
“You’re my best friend,” Senia said in a low voice. “I’m not letting you off this base without at least a good send off to remember us all by.” She sighed, still feeling the weight of the day on her shoulders. “Keep an eye on Sparky, would you? Reel him in if you have to, I know he gets overly excited about assignments, no matter what scale.”
“And just what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to find Hardy,” Senia replied with a shrug. “See if I can get her to pull herself away from an engine block long enough to tell her the news.”
Work has been coming along much better on the rewrite of Rocket Fox.
Different systems, a new start to the story, and better fleshed out. Gives more face time to each of the characters in their own chapters as well. Which means, that each act that I’ve done so far is going to end up being it’s own book (that means, I’m writing three books at the exact same time… or at least simultaneously). So, in celebration, I give everyone two animated gifs. One of Senia doing her confident walk, and the other is her version of a happy dance.
The inner chambers of the board were rather spartan. A simple desk where three colonels sat, each with paper work and data pads in front of them. A console computer off to one side, recording everything that went on during the proceedings. Two clerks who would quickly do background checks for information for the three colonels. And two guards at the entrance of the room, who stood at the ready as though they were part of a parade procession. Large windows allow light into the room, as the sunlight shone onto the hardwood floors. Everything seemed to echo in this room, the loudest sound, however, came from a clock that hung on the wall just above the entrance.
Senia took her seat in one of those uncomfortable auditorium chairs, behind a utilitarian desk. Captain Mallard joined her, taking her own seat to Senia’s left. It was Vulpine law that for any hearing, no matter how small, those who would be questioned would always have a representative. In the mahy years Captain Mallard had served at the school, she had always acted in such a capacity. Many said it was because she had some compassion, but also had an air of diplomacy about her.
“Left-tenant Felix,” one of the colonels spoke up as he looked over the data pad once more. He was an older Vulpine, and from what the students knew of him, he was a stickler for tradition. “This hearing is merely being held to clarify a few points,” he continued as he looked up and took off his glasses. “We merely wish to ask you a few questions regarding Private Hawkspur and that is all. Do you understand?”
“I understand completely, sir,” she replied in a bold voice, but trying to keep her lisp to a minimum.
“Very good,” the colonel said with a nod, satisfied with Senia’s answer. “You know Private Hawkspur quite well, I understand.”
“Yes, sir. Very well.”
“Do you consider her one of your trusted friends?” he asked as he put down his data pad.
“Yes sir, I do,” Senia stated with a firm nod. “We have been best friends since we were accepted to the Academy.”
“And during the time you have known Private Hawkspur, have you ever attempted to mislead anyone regarding her grading and evaluation?” The question came as a surprise. Senia believed this to be merely a formality for final questioning before the ruling was handed down.
“Never, sir,” Senia replied after some hesitation. “I have treated Private Hawkspur like any other in House Ocelot. And, if I may, sir, I am most certain the board knows that I have a close friendship with Corporal Hardy Maynard, Corporal Clarfax Billings and Left-tenant Philburt Collinsworth.”
“Yes, Left-tenant,” one of the other colonels spoke up, waving a dismissive hand. “The difference being that none of the others you mentioned have ever slugged a superior officer in the jaw.” She sighed openly and picked up her own data pad. “I believe there is really only one question which remains, Left-tenant. What is your own recommendation for what punishment be handed down to Private Hawkspur.”
Senia took a deep breath, remembering the words Jada said in the hallway. Speak the truth. “There is no precedent for her actions. The ruling itself should be clear. Private Hawkspur should be stripped of rank, and discharged.” The colonels all nodded, satisfied with Senia’s answer. “However,” she said, catching the board off guard. “It should be noted that in the long history of this establishment, an occurrence like this has happened 283 times. In 200 of those cases, the incident occurred toward the beginning of the students education. The remaining cases happened toward the end of their six years. They were allowed to continue on to graduation, where they were given a civilian degree. If the board so wishes, I also recommend that Private Hawkspur be allowed to finish her final year.”
The three colonels sat back in their chairs and muttered among themselves for a few moments. Senia had done something many others would never do in a situation like this. Tactfully, she brought up past cases, showing that there was precedent for Jada to remain until she graduated; albeit in a civilian capacity.
“Very well,” one of the colonels spoke up and motioned to the guards. “Please let Private Hawkspur in.” One of the guards quickly saluted and left the room to carry out his orders. It was only a few seconds, as he returned followed quickly by Jada. She came to the same desk where Captain Mallard and Senia sat and stood on Captain Mallard’s left side. Both Mallard and Senia rose to their feet, knowing that now was the moment the board would officially hand down their ruling.
“Private Jada Hawkspur,” the chair said as he rose to his feet. “It is with great disappointment that I must do this, considering that you were ranked quite high in your house and in the school proper. Private Hawkspur, you will be stripped of rank. You will be barred from service on board any vessel within the jurisdiction of the Royal Vulpine Armada. That includes space faring craft as well as sea faring vessels.” The colonel picked up his data pad and punched in a few keys. “However, let it be known for the record that this Academy does not shrug off a student’s education lightly. You will be allowed to graduate and given a civilian degree in your chosen field. Do you understand the ruling of this board?”
“Yes sir, I do,” Jada replied quickly with a firm nod.
“You will have opportunity to appeal, should you so wish,” the colonel added with some caution. “However, as you are most likely aware, appeals take time.”
“Understood, sir,” Jada replied. “I have thought it over, and have felt that whatever decision the board came to, I would accept it. I will not be seeking appeal.”
“Very well,” the colonel said as he took his seat and picked up his gavel. “I declare this hearing officially complete.”
Remember how I said before that there are often times when Senia Felix must oversee disciplinary action to any cadets that step out of line in her house? Well, it’s rather sad that is just how we have to begin this tale. Under normal circumstances, this would be a simple matter. But, these are not normal circumstances, for the action that Senia must take involves a very close friend. That is one thing about Senia that is part of her charm, but also a failing. She is incredibly loyal to her friends.
And there is no greater friend to Senia than Jada Hawkspur. Jada was an excellent student and would have had a star filled career as a pilot, with the exception of one small matter. She had an incredible temper. For the most part, she kept it in check, but when someone might say something that would dishonour her family or heritage, well let’s just say the worst in Jada would come out. Such was the case in this matter.
Jada was a middle continent Vulpine, coming from the vast plains of the Kanata Territories. She was leaner than her Foxburrow cousins, and her fur was slightly more beige than the stark red of those who lived along the coastlines. She grew up in a family that was tied to the land, and made their living as farmers. Jada loved her home, but she often talked about journeying to see the stars. When she arrived in Chattingham, one of the first people to make her feel at home was Senia. It wasn’t long before Jada was often seen with Senia, Clarfax and Hardy, laughing and working together.
For Senia, she tried to push back everything so she could do her duty without bias. But when she entered the faculty chambers that were used for such messy purposes, she saw Jada waiting patiently to be called. She couldn’t stay away, couldn’t walk past without saying something.
Timidly, she approached her dear friend.
“Jada,” she said quietly as she took a seat in the waiting area beside her friend.
Jada looked up, smiling softly. She was wearing her uniform, neatly pressed, her hair pinned back in the small pony tail she often would wear. There was no malice in her eyes when she looked to Senia, none at all. “I know what I did, Senia,” she replied quietly. “As soon as Sergeant Willham hit the ground, I was ready for it.”
“I don’t like these things, you know.”
“I know,” Jada replied with a small nod. “This is only the third time you’ve had to do something like this.”
“But this is the hardest,” Senia said, almost as though she were finishing Jada’s sentence. “I know that the members of our house will vouch for you. Sergeant Willham said something deplorable. We all heard it, even me. I was there.”
“I know,” Jada replied with a small chuckle. “I remember you jumping in to pull me back before … well, before anything else happened.” They both sighed and fell silent for a moment before Jada continued. “This needed to be done, I think. Maybe not this way. Meaning me punching Willham. But, I’ve heard others say he was harsh to several other students.”
“Well, after this is over I’m personally filing a complaint,” Senia said in a stern voice. “It’s utter nonsense. That type of attitude should not be tolerated. Even if it is coming from a superior officer. They have to set an example, after all.” She sighed as she let a thousand thoughts fly through her head. “There has to be a way to let the board of judiciary know that…”
“Senia,” Jada said in a soft voice, knowing that her friend would stop and pay attention to her. “I want you to tell the truth. I am willing to face the consequences of my actions,” she said as she put her hand up to prevent Senia from protesting. “I know what I did, and I will not have my own actions jeopardize those of any of my house mates. Alright?”
Reluctantly, Senia agreed, nodding to Jada. In a way, it was like a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She could always tell when Jada was being sincere. This was one of those times.
“Left-tenant Felix,” a bold voice called out. Senia and Jada rose to their feet as they recognized the voice of Captain Rita Mallard, a black furred Felanus. She had been with the faculty for a long while, and was ever much a paragon of honour and duty. She tried to hide it, but there were those who said she felt for the predicament that Jada was in. “At ease, both of you. Left-tenant, if you will please come in, the board wishes to ask you a few questions.” Senia nodded and began to make her way to the hearing chamber. Mallard turned to Jada and sighed as she let her shoulders slump just a bit. A wordless gesture, but it spoke volumes. She was disappointed, but only slightly. Mallard was one of those who looked upon Jada with promise. “It shouldn’t be long, Private Hawkspur. We’ll be calling you after we ask Left-tenant Felix some questions. I suggest you get a beverage while you wait.”
Jada nodded in reply, offering a salute as the captain began her way back to the chambers. She didn’t know who would have the more difficult time; herself or Senia.
With the writing of Chapters One and Two complete, I’ve put them together in a nice package for easy download and reading. The file is a pdf and should be easily viewed on any device that can handle such a format.
If readers have previously downloaded Chapter One, I’ve also made a Chapter Two download.
- Rocket Fox – Chapter One Complete (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
More from the second chapter which wraps things up and gets the reader ready to meet Senia and the others for the first time.
Before we continue on, I must explain one thing to everyone. That is the ranking system in the academy. All first years enter with the rank of cadet. Graduation to second year will ensure that the students will have the rank of private. Third year, they continue with the rank of private, but by mid term of the third year, that’s when the senior officers and faculty begin to pair down the best of the best. Each house within the academy will have their own commanding officer, who is awarded the rank of left-tenant upon graduation from third year. By mid term third year, most cadets are promoted to corporal. In fourth year, all cadets have their ranks set, with a majority being corporal, some private and the house leaders with the rank of left-tenant.
Left-tenants have a very important duty. As house leader, they oversee all drills, inspect barracks, give weekly evaluations, and conduct training exercises with the cadets. They also provide conciliatory duties and disciplinary duties. The former occurs much more than the latter.
I did mention a house system, didn’t I. There are eight houses at the academy in Chattingham. The houses act as squadrons, but as Vulpine law will not allow anyone under the age of 19 to become a full squadron member, they cannot call themselves an official squadron at the school. Unofficially, they are squadrons, however. The houses do also act as a sort of competitive spirit to motivate the students. Each house has their own rough ball team. They have scores from exams, training exercises and can have points deducted if any cadet receives disciplinary action. And a house can receive a major blow if a cadet is expelled for any reason whatsoever.
As for our three young heroes, they are in the House Ocelot, a prestigious house that many a famed fighter pilot has been a member of. So let our story fully begin, and allow us to look in on our three young cadets and meet their friends at the academy. I believe that what may begin as something rather mundane might indeed prove to be rather adventurous.
As the saying does sometimes go; a Vulpine pilot never knows where the winds may take them.
- Rocket Fox – chapter two musings (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Rocket Fox – more chapter two musings (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
This is one of many vignettes by the National Film Board of Canada from the early 1970s. This one focused on an animal of particular interest to me, the swift fox.
No, I’m not killing off a character in anything I write. But, I do wanna discuss a character in comics that, as far as I’m concerned, was given a pretty blah ending and a hand wave death.
The character I speak of is Helena Bertinelli, also known as the Huntress of DC Comics continuity. The Huntress was a Bat-family character, and often one that wasn’t thought of as being all together nice. But that’s probably because Helena Bertinelli grew up as the daughter to a Mafia mob boss. Her parents were killed, and she threw off the responsibility of growing up in the mob to become a vigilante. She was also a teacher, and taught class at an inner city school in Gotham.
And now she’s dead.
Well, not yet. The actual final death knell won’t be officially sounded until the first issue of World’s Finest comes out. The new series is taking a different path. Instead of being the book for Superman and Batman, it’s now the book for Power Girl and Huntress.
So, I may have confused some people now by saying that the Huntress is going to die, but she’ll be a recurring character in the ongoing series World’s Finest. Sorry about that, but now it’s time for an explanation.
Before Huntress/Helena Bertinelli, there was another one. She was from, what DC Comics called Earth 2. It wasn’t the same Earth that the Superman and Batman we’re familiar with lived, but had older versions of the characters we knew. And some differences. Including a woman called Huntress, who in her real life was known as Helena Wayne. She was the daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. That got washed away in the mega crossover of the mid 80s called Crisis on Infinite Earths. Huntress died valiantly, along side many other heroes in defending the Multiverse. She even got a decent on page death scene, one that didn’t involve kitchens or refrigerators as seems to be the case now with female characters. After Crisis, Huntress was reborn, but as Helena Bertinelli.
She was a more interesting character, to be honest. She fought actual crime, dealt with real life issues, went head to head with the Batman on many occasions because he found her methods to be quite violent. Huntress was also the only female character in the DCU to go head to head with the alien Predators when DC and Dark Horse did the Batman Predator cross overs.
And now, that version of Huntress is dead. It wasn’t a dramatic death scene, however. It wasn’t even a full page. It was just one line. Here it is in the preview to World’s Finest.
It’ll be sad to see her go.
- Goodbye, Helena (newsarama.com)
- First Look: Huntress as Robin of Earth 2 (comicbooked.com)
- First Look At The Final Issue of The HUNTRESS (comicvine.com)
- Levitz Makes Huntress & Power Girl the “Worlds’ Finest” (comicbookresources.com)
- Paul Levitz reboots ‘Huntress’ (digitalspy.co.uk)
- And WORLD’S FINEST Looks Mighty Fine Too (ifanboy.com)
- Women of Action | Huntress (robot6.comicbookresources.com)
I just finished watching all three seasons of this series (not all yesterday, mind you). It was a really good series. I’m particularly impressed with the attention to detail given to each area, the forms of martial arts given to each of the bending techniques, and to the cultures themselves. The story and character development was also really well done; from Aang and his destiny to defeat the Fire Lord to Zuko’s own path that he had to follow. Even Azula, Zuko’s sister, whom I found hating with incredible passion at the first appearance, I found by the end she was merely lost without her own goal of power. She’d been corrupted by her own father and her own ambitions. So much so that she turned her back on the only two friends she had.
In the end, it was a journey for all of them to go through. Each had started out in some way that wasn’t exactly favourable, but in the end they changed. Toph started as sort of arrogant, but in time began to realize the benefits of friendship and teamwork. Sokka was always the comedian (and to a point remained that way), but eventually had to become a leader. Katara was forced into adulthood too soon, and had to learn to cope with that. Eventually, as they found each other they were able to move on.
Possibly Aang and Zuko’s paths were the most difficult. Aang just wanted to be a boy, and sometimes I felt as though the aspect of the Avatar was shoved on him and the weight of the responsibility was too much to bear. For Zuko, he thought forgiveness from his father would restore his honour, when the only one who could do that was Zuko. A lesson that Iroh tried instilling in him.
All in all, this was an excellent series with each season being very much like a book as they were introduced.
- COMIC REVIEW: Avatar the Last Airbender- The Promise, Part 1 (geeksyndicate.wordpress.com)
- Battle of the Airbenders: TV Series vs Film (filmverse.wordpress.com)
- A New Cycle, A New Adventure: The Legend of Korra (khmissy.wordpress.com)
I don’t wear stripes at all.
I don’t even wear polka dots.
I’m pretty much a solid colour kind of guy. And by that, I usually mean black, red, green or white. Sometimes, I get a little crazy and I do a colour combo of two of those. Sometimes, three. Though never combining red or green.
Some colour combos include green, black and white. This combination happens to be the commonly used colours in the Saskatchewan Roughriders team paraphernalia.
Others include red, black, white and a splash of gold, which so happens to be the colours of the Ottawa Senators, the NHL team I happen to cheer for.
There’s also red and black, which happens to be the colours of the Outlook Ice Hawks Senior Hockey Team that I happen to do the Public Service Address announcements for during their home games.
Often, I wear white and red, which will contain a maple leaf somewhere in the design scheme. This, naturally, shows the devotion I have to the country I was born in. Yes, we Canadians can be proud of our home and native land, and I just so happen to be one that will show it more than just on July 1st or during the Olympic Hockey tournament.
So there you have it, in a nutshell, just a few of my fashion tastes.
An incredible photo series from Discovery News.
Forty years ago this week, the crew of Apollo 16 captured this (top) image of Earth rising above the lunar landscape. The Apollo missions enabled us to see for the first time our planet as it appears from space.
“When I was orbiting the moon and could put my thumb up to the window and completely cover the Earth, I felt a real sense of my own insignificance. Everything I’d ever known could be hidden behind my thumb,” Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell said.
In the bottom image, Moscow is seen at night from the International Space Station, flying at an altitude of approximately 240 miles on March 28, 2012. A solar array panel for the space station is on the left side of the frame. The Aurora Borealis, airglow and daybreak frame the horizon.
Through the ages, humans have attempted to understand and portray the world around them. Here’s a look at the myriad ways people have attempted to understand.
Click the link to keep reading.
For any iPad users who happen to frequent this blog, I have an announcement.
Well, it’s something I’ve mentioned before, but every now and again I like to poke everyone with a reminder.
Anyway, for all my followers and readers, if you buy books for your iPad, guess what!
My first book, the Adventure of Black Mask & Pale Rider, is available for iPad through the iTunes store.
Unfortunately, there’s a few … things that have to be done in order to get Kindle versions of the book. I’m working on that, and most likely will have a free download available in the future.
- Black Mask & Pale Rider – rewriting the adventures (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
As I began to write Rocket Fox, I thought back to Black Mask and Pale Rider. I came to the realization that I’d need to do some updating on that tale as well. And that might very well extend a great deal of it. I had hummed and hawed about how to start it. One start would see the pair of elven gunslingers returning to their homeworld only to be arrested for misusing the gates between worlds. The ensuing trial would be a retelling of their entire time on Earth. The other idea would be much more tranquil, as the story would begin in Brockton during the festival, and at the urging of several children, Shani and Pania would tell the tale of the Civil War, and their wild ride between the Union and the Confederacy.
I decided to settle upon the latter, and came up with this to start it all off.
The Brockton Festival. A time of celebration in the town of Brockton. A two week long festival, celebrated twice a year in spring and once again as autumn arrives. It ushers in two very important rituals. The first in spring heralds the beginning of seeding and planting for the farmers in the district, and at the same time it says good-bye to the students of the Brockton Academy of the Arts, the prestigious school that elves from across the continent come to learn writing, painting, music and how to weave their magic with it properly. In the fall, it is the celebration of the harvest and welcoming the new students to the school. It’s said that centuries before the first elves to settle the town held a grand celebration, although much to the chagrin of the local farming area. But they opened their arms in friendship to the farmers to come celebrate with them. This action forged a feeling of peace at the time of the festival. It also is an honoured tradition that no fighting of any kind would be tolerated. To do so, would bring about a lifetime ban to those who took part in such debauchery.
On this day, the opening day of the festivities, most elves were just getting their first tastes of the different cultures and music that spanned the continent. There was the food brought in from the desert elves near Semerkhet. The stories and song from the elves of the Messewan Valley. The magical arts from the elves of the Mysterian Marshes. And the acts of strength and stamina from the hardy and tall elves of the Nordician Mountains. Travelers came from far and wide to partake in the festivities, some with performances of their own, others just merely to watch the different performances and partake in the food and drink.
One elf in particular was feeling more toward the latter. Pania Alow, a beautiful young elf of 325 had her moment on the stage, having once been a student of the Academy. At one time, she had marveled audiences with her song and dance on the stage. Today, however, she felt more at home mingling and being a part of the audience. This did not stop her family from having their own tent among all the dignitaries that set up camp on the grounds of the festival. It had become tradition for the Alows to have their own spot among the others who would set up camp. Her father, Karl, would chronicle the events for the local newspaper, while her mother, Titania would assist with the production of one of the main stage plays. Her brother, Mandrel would always tell tales to enrapture the ladies. And though she was still very, very young, Pania’s younger sister Pylia would hover near her mother, and help out where she could with the stage play.
As Pania walked past the tents and displays that lined the many pathways of the festival, she was joined by another elf. A tall, lanky woman, with jet black hair and tanned skin as though she spent a good deal of her life in the sun. A stark contrast to Pania’s own fair skin and blond hair. The woman was Shani Wennemein, and even though the pair had differences in gait, in dress and in fashion, one could tell they were friends and partners.
“Did ya hear?” Shani drawled slowly as she matched Pania’s pace. “The Muharane ‘re gonna have their sword dancin’ set up this afternoon. I hear tell they put on a skilled show.” She took an apple from her long coat pocket as they walked, slicing off a piece with a small dagger and fed some to a small wyrmling that perched on her shoulder. “I were gonna take thet in later. How ’bout you?”
“I did,” Pania replied with a smile, her voice soft and smooth. “I’d planned on takin’ in the performance later meself. Mayhap even speak to ‘em an’ see if they’ll show me some o’ their stances.”
“They use scimitars, though,” Shani said as she sliced off another piece of apple and gobbled it down. “You use a rapier. Diff’rent kinda weapon.”
“True,” Pania replied with a nod. “But the principles o’ each stance can be translated, if done properly.” The pair continued to walk, discussing the different displays, vendors and shows that had been scheduled for the first day. All too much to take in at once, a good thing the festival was a two week affair. Eventually, their slow walk had brought them to the entrance of the Alow tent. They both continued to talk about the schedule of events as Pania pushed back the entrance flap to walk inside.
As they both entered the ornate tent, they stopped talking. Inside, which was quite large for it had to be to house five elves during this two week event, there sat several elven children. Pania did a quick head count. There had to be at least thirty that had taken seats here and there throughout the tent. In the middle of them all was Pania’s young sister Pylia, only a child herself. “Mother,” Pania called out as Pylia raced to meet her sister, grinning with glee as she hugged Pania’s leg.
From the back of the tent, an older elf, though still with her own grace and beauty appeared. Titania Alow, respected as one of the most acclaimed entertainers throughout Brytalonia, her performances were known far and wide. Her blond hair done up in curls, much like Pania’s own hair, though Titania’s manner of dress was different from her daughter’s, it was still elegant nonetheless. “Word has spread, my wee daughter, about the adventure the pair o’ ye took through the gates b’tween worlds.” She smiled a coy smile as she rested her hands on her hips. “An’ as everyone knows, that is a feat not done in over four hundred years.”
Pania nodded and smiled as she looked to the faces of all the children, all of whom were looking back with great anticipation. How could one turn aside such faces without them hearing a tale of adventure and triumph.
“Well, I guess I’ll see ya at the sword dancin’ later,” Shani said as she began to open the tent flap and let herself out. Her progress was halted, however, as she felt a firm grip on the sleeve of her long coat. She looked back, and took note that Pania had an iron grip on her arm. “Um…”
“It’s a point o’ fact that it were more ‘n me what went through the gates b’tween worlds,” Pania said as she looked to Shani with a coy smile that matched her own mother’s. “An’ any story worth it’s salt, an’ one as grand as this would need two ta tell it properly.” Shani just stared at Pania for a moment, finally sighing reluctantly and muttering a fine as she walked through the sea of children toward a long couch at one wall of the tent. As Shani took off her long coat and set her stetson on the couch, the children caught sight of a pair of the items that the two elves brought back with them from the other world. A pair of simple pistols, slung in their holsters and hanging low on Shani’s hips. As the lanky elf took her seat, the wyrmling crawled down to nestle himself comfortably in Shani’s lap.
Pania knelt down as she turned to her sister and spoke, signing with her hands as she did so. “Would you help mother an’ get some refreshments for everyone, please?” she asked with a pleasant smile. Pylia nodded and signed back before she ran off to the back of the tent. Pylia wasn’t deaf, if the truth be known. She just couldn’t speak. But the Alow family took it upon themselves to always sign whenever they spoke to her. Pania finally rose to her feet and removed the long cloak that hung at her shoulders. As she did there was a small peep that came from her collar, and a tired pixie walked onto Pania’s shoulder, stretching as though she’d just awakened from a long nap. “We have company, Verit,” Pania said to the pixie. Verit stopped and looked around, seeing all of the faces. For a moment she was caught off guard and slightly embarrassed, but eventually, she perched lightly on Pania’s shoulder and offered a wave to all in the tent.
Pania took a seat beside Shani, her own pistols now on display as well. She leaned forward just a bit and smiled to the children who looked back with anticipation of the story to come. “Well now, if it’s a story that ye want, it’s a story that ye will have. Another world, another place, diff’rent people an’ diff’rent situations. But in a way, familiar ta what we know.” She looked over to Shani as she spoke, the eyes of the children following as they looked over to the tall, lanky, elven gunslinger. “For me, it all began in a place called Chicago. But for Shani here, it all started in a place called Carrollton, Arkansas.” She looked back to the children with a smile. “We’ve all heard o’ stories ’bout sword an’ sorcery. Well, this one’s not much diff’rent. But instead o’ swords, this one is about six gun an’ sorcery.”
This is a neat little device that shows how safe you are in the event of a zombie apocalypse. While the link says I’m in Saskatoon, I’m actually not. I’m in Outlook.
Far, far away from any cemeteries.
All in all, a fun little time waster.
More from the second chapter of Rocket Fox.
Senia Felix. Clarfax Billings. Hardy Maynard.
Three young Vulpine with the dream of reaching the stars and joining the famed 76th Airborne. All three grew up together, although their families came from different backgrounds. Senia and Hardy both had the common markings of most Vulpine; red fur with white patches on their faces and muzzle. Hardy, though, did tend to let her hair grow out a little longer. Some thought that was because she preferred it that way, but in reality, she most often forgot because she was too busy with her nose in a mechanics guide or studying the inside of an engine. Hardy was also a teasing sort, more often so with her friends or anyone she was particularly close to. While she rarely got her hair cut, she was particular about her tail, often times brushing it just before bed time. This wasn’t just thanks to Vulpine vanity about tails; it also helped get out all of the engine grease after a day in the mechanic shop where she would most often be found.
Senia most often had her hair trimmed so it remained just around her shoulders. She liked the length, but knew that she would have to have her hair cut when she entered the academy, so at a young age she began having monthly hair cuts just so she could get used to it. Just as any other Vulpine, she tended to her tail, brushing it nightly, but this was more for her position in the ranks of cadets. A pristine uniform, a well groomed tail, and a diplomatic attitude were the trademarks of a fine officer. These were a few of the reasons why Senia saw fast promotion and reached the rank of Left-tenant so quickly. Oh, there were other reasons, for certain; keen eye, able to see the best qualities in a Vulpine or Felanus cadet, tactful responses at days end debriefings. She managed to do all that while still having a very bad lisp. Over the years she had tried to control it, immersing herself in books and reading aloud to help her. In time, she managed to soften her speech impediment, but she still had difficulty with her “S” words.
Finally, there was Clarfax. Clarfax, much like Hardy, was often found with his muzzle in a book, almost absorbing the information from within. Though, he never had his muzzle in an engine block, as was the case with Hardy. He was intelligent beyond expectations, which often substituted the common Vulpine trait of vanity. He was never very mindful of his tail, much to the chagrin of Hardy who would take it upon herself to ensure that his was kept neat and clean. Which was rather easy, considering a bookworm didn’t have as much engine grease to contend with. At the academy, Clarfax could always be found in the physics and exobiology buildings, which were two of his passions. Even though he had the bookish nature found with most academics, he was still an accomplished pilot. He took in all the information he could, and thrilled at the application, to see the results for his own eyes. Clarfax was also rather fetching to the eyes, and often would catch the attention of quite a few young vixens. Also, much to the chagrin of Hardy. Hardy liked him for all his attributes, and that quiet bookish nature of his. But most of all, she valued their friendship.
All three were fast friends. All three had made a pact when they were just kits. They were there the day the train returned to Chattingham, carrying the last of the fighter pilots from the long Great Lupine Land War. They appeared so regal in their eyes. And the stories they told. For these three, it was love at first sight. They wanted to take to the skies and join the ranks. It was mostly thanks to the charismatic nature of one Left-tenant Colonel Artemis Dawkins, one of the most storied fighter pilots in the history of the Royal Vulpine Air Corps.
They heard how he and the remnants of his famed 76th squadron, along with a few from the 103rd, broke through enemy lines to ensure that supplies were brought to a settlement in the neutral territories called Dorgotha Ravine. When they arrived, they found four more pilots from the 82nd, and together with the Jackai settlers they managed to stop the advancement of the enemy.
When these three young Vulpine heard that tale, they knew right away that they wanted to join the academy, and eventually become pilots in the 76th Airborne.
Tempo changes and a bit more about the backdrop as the narrator begins to draw closer to the three main characters.
As I said, this story isn’t about me. I will get to those major players in just a moment, but first you must know a little about where they are from. Not in the grand sense, but where they are from at the beginning of this story. Which actually takes place a long time ago. Over two thousand years ago, in fact.
You see, we citizens of Vulpinia have been explorers for some time. At one time we became explorers of our great oceans, meeting our sisters and brothers from different continents, sharing ideas and hopes. Granted, it wasn’t always that way. Both the Felanus and the Vulpine have had our differences that even went as far as conflict, but in time we settled those differences. When it came time to explore space, we took what we learned from the past and used that to help shape our future.
One of those lessons from the past was that while exploration was our primary goal, we had to be ready to defend ourselves should the need arise. This actually never came from an old sea captain’s philosophy, but from an air marshal’s experience. So when the first grand space faring vessels ventured into the vastness of the unknown, each ship was made ready with a full squadron of fighter craft.
As the years went on, weapons were improved upon for larger vessels and even peace negotiations between our people and the species in the neighbouring systems had occurred. But having a squadron of fighter pilots had become tradition by that time. There was no turning back.
The Royal Vulpine Air Corps had gained a reputation throughout the sector. When the Lupine called for assistance during the Great Lupinian Land war, two armoured fighter carriers were dispatched to give them aid. Squadrons were known for their titles alone. The Flying 103rd. The 76th Airborne. The Fighting Cats of the 82nd. Anyone who joined the ranks of the Royal Vulpine Armada had their heart set on commanding or being a part of one of the famed squadrons. Even those outside of the Vulpine system looked upon the Royal Vulpine Air Corps with absolute awe and wonder.
Chattingham was just one of eight schools dedicated to the training of air cadets; from academic right up to low orbit fighter training simulations. Young Vulpinians from across Foxburrow knew of the school by the time they were old enough to crawl. And many of them dreamed of the chance to join such a prestigious organization.
Before any student can join the academy, they have to graduate from the military college. Once they have completed graduation, they are evaluated to see if they are fit to enter the academy. It is a very strict evaluation, and only a small percentage of those wishing to become an air cadet are giving such a prestigious opportunity.
Education does continue as an air cadet. It’s more than just tactical advantages and piloting an aircraft. Each Vulpine and Felanus must be taught the sciences, diplomacy, etiquette, battle strategies, tactical planning, even oral presentation. It was that latter that gave one of our pilots a bit of difficulty.
Yes, yes. I know, I’ve doddled on long enough about the locale and the organization. I suppose it is time to tell you about the three pilots that you will encounter. The three for whom this story is all about.
Haven’t done this for a couple of weeks now. So here’s a new batch.
Be careful that the ladder of life you are climbing is leaning against the right wall. ~author unknown
Anybody can observe the Sabbath, but making it hold surely takes the rest of the week. ~Alice Walker
“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and just hang on.” ~Thomas Jefferson
Having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world. ~author unknown
- Book Quotes of the Day: Spring (literarytiger.wordpress.com)
- Three Short Quotes (novicejournal.wordpress.com)
The year was 1982, I had been 12 years old all of six months. Christmas was coming around and I had just gotten a cassette player. A stereo cassette player as a matter of fact. For those who don’t know, a cassette was big during the 1980s. I had already been experimenting with recording from another tape deck. An AM/FM radio that had a cassette player and a mic jack. It was a Radio Shack to be precise.
1982 was also when I had spent a great deal of time down in the basement at a chalk board, and with paper, drawing up space ship designs and creating what would eventually become Rocket Fox. Those early days I called the Vulpine the Foxians. The limited imagination of a 12 year old.
1982 was also the year that I became introduced to the Alan Parsons Project. That Christmas, as a matter of fact. My mom loved it because it was very orchestral. It took a lot of years for it to grow on me, but I still remember that first cassette tape. The Turn of a Friendly Card.
Today when I listen to it, it doesn’t draw about images of Rocket Fox, but another work of mine. Black Mask & Pale Rider. Among the chords of the wild west is the mystery that is fantasy. It is about two elven women who travel the great frontier of the North American Mid West, after all. And while there is gun fighting and gunslinging, there is also magic slinging and mythical beasts that come into the story. Shani and Pania, the aforementioned Black Mask & Pale Rider, are elves after all. And they come from another world that is filled with magic.
For that, music of the type from Alan Parsons Project is quite fitting.
Friday was April 13th. And here I was, completely forgetting that it was April 13th.
Also, not really caring that it was said date. To be honest I don’t give in to such things as walking under ladder, or black cats. If I see a black cat, the only thing I’m thinking is “I wonder if it’ll let me pet it”. It’s sort of like what Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson said. Kids are fine, it’s adults that have the problem. The following video details what I mean by that.
So I don’t give into the hysteria, albeit minor, that surrounds something like Friday the 13th. Last year when a small group of people were talking about the rapture (which, they got wrong not once, but twice), I wasn’t giving into the announcement of doom and gloom. I wasn’t giving away all of my worldly possessions because of some mistranslation of the Bible. When the Mayan “prediction” of the end of the world comes around, I’m not gonna freak out. Because the evidence of what has come to pass clearly states that everything’s gonna be fine. Here’s another way of looking at it. If the Mayans could predict the end of the world, how come they didn’t predict that the Spaniards would virtually destroy them and end their civilization.
I’m an inquisitive guy. When I get thinking about these things like Friday the 13th and such, I look it up. Because I wanna know how this came about. First line in the Wikipedia entry for Friday the 13th states: Friday the 13th is a date that is considered to be bad luck in western superstition. Look at the last word. Superstition. Look further into the folklore of the date, it doesn’t appear in western civilization until the 19th Century. And that is in the writings of Henri Grevedon, who wrote about Gioachino Rossini who died on Friday, November 13. Rossini’s biography was written in 1869. But in the writing, Grevedon stated:
He [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that one Friday 13th of November he died.
So, it reveals that some people believed not only was the date bad luck, but Friday’s themselves were considered bad luck as was the number 13. Good thing we don’t have 13 months in the year, because that date would spell the destruction of the world.
There is a phobia that surrounds the date, much like the recently discovered phobia, mobophobia, which is fear of losing your cell phone. I kid you not on that. But, the fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia. This comes from the Norse goddess Frigga, for whom Friday was named after, and triskaidekaphobia, which means fear of the number 13.
As with many things, different cultures have different ways to explain their superstitions. In Spain, Friday the 13th is cool. It’s fine. But Tuesday the 13th, that’s something else. In Italy, it’s Friday the 17th. In the United States, stress study centres have reported that there are an estimated 17 to 21 million people who have a fear of Friday the 13th. It’s said to cause an 800 to 900 million dollar lose in business due to the fact that people are so gripped with fear of the date, that they cannot conduct their usual, daily routine. Even to the point where they don’t get out of bed.
On the plus side of that, Holland reports that the number of accidents for any Friday the 13th actually declines more than any other Friday. This is due in part, to the fact that people are considered more cautious on this particular date.