Before you read this, I should note, while chapter five was to be about Clarfax Billings, what I wrote originally was more about campus life. So that has become chapter six. This is now more about Clarfax and a few of his friends. I should also note that I have this nasty habit of recycling other aspects of other stories in things I work on. ‘Uroth’ as is mentioned in this story, is the Critainian word for Earth, thereby identifying that the Critainians at one time resided on Earth. The other point of interest is the new planetary system they are discussing and the life forms they are looking over are elves. To be more precise, they are elves from the world Terra Kal which is the world Shani Wennemein and Pania Alow, a.k.a. Black Mask and Pale Rider, come from.
The main astronomy building at the Chattingham campus was often a buzz with activity. Various people from far across Foxburrow and into the neighbouring Ocata nation came to view the stars and exchange ideas about the beginning of the universe. There were tours of school children that would often come through, guided by the more knowledgeable members of the Royal Vulpine Armada who had their day exploring the sector of space that the Vulpine star system lay in. And there was the students of the Academy who just couldn’t steer themselves away from the vast knowledge that lay in the halls of the building.
One such student was Clarfax Billings. A dedicated scientist, he achieved his rank of corporal through hard work, top training ability and excellent disciplinary measures. He managed to advance a great deal of thought on theories that had come before. But he was also quite humble, because he always mentioned the support he received from some of the civilian students who had interests in the same fields he did.
Clarfax was a black furred Vulpine whose family hailed from the northern regions of Foxburrow. When he was first born, his family moved to Chattingham, as his mother took on a career in agricultural science, attempting to find ways to improve crop growing conditions in some of the harshest climates. While Clarfax had a curiosity like his mother, his lead more to the stars.
On this day, he had difficulty containing his excitement. He moved quickly through the groups of Vulpine and Felanus that had made their way to the main observatory lounge as he was going to the building’s main library. There, he would find some of his classmates and friends.
Those friends included Robert Quickfoot, a stout Felanus whose intelligence and curious nature was only matched by his awkward social stature. Robert was always nervous when talking to large groups of people, but felt comfortable among his friends. Claudia Whitefur was there as well, who minored in astrophysics, while she was majoring in marine biology. Gilbert Shortclaw, a spotted Felanus who wore a large pair of spectacles and always read books a little too close to his face. All of them were gathered around a table, discussing quietly some of the theories they had gone over in class. Just the three Clarfax wanted to see.
Clarfax approached the table holding a large bundle of rolled up maps in his arms. He had a very broad grin on his face. His three friends stopped their chatter immediately, knowing full well that Clarfax had some very big news.
“It just came in,” he said quickly, feeling the words coming out a little too fast. Still smiling, he looked to the bundle in his arms. The three had a small pause, and then wordlessly and quickly cleared off the table of any books and such that might be in the way. With excitement, Clarfax rolled out the maps, placing a large one in the most prominent position.
It was a star chart, detailing the known object throughout the galaxy that had been recorded by the Vulpine, Felanus, Pantherans and Critainians. This map also had the locations of several deep space exploration stations highlighted.
“There’s nothing new on this map, Clarry,” Gilbert stated with a somewhat disappointed sound in his voice.
“Just wait for it, Gilly,” Robert said with a sigh. He knew Clarfax was one for dramatics, and it looked as though there would be a great deal of information to tell on this day.
“Alright,” Clarfax began as he tried settling himself down. “The furthest distance we know of is from ancient star charts the Critainians recorded during the Great Crossing.” He pointed to one section of the map that was marked ‘Uroth system’. “And, we also know that the joint exploration in deep space that began twelve years ago has been involved in very intensive study.” He pointed to another section of the map which read ‘Lupine Deep Space Station 12’. “They just sent back this,” he said as he took out a smaller map, and proceeded to overlay it in a section of the map which had no markers at all.
“There’s nine planets in that system,” Robert said as he studied the chart.
“No,” Gilbert spoke up, correcting Robert. “This one here is just a planetoid. Says it’s a small, ice like word.”
“You know what’s really fascinating,” Clarfax said as he took out another star chart. It looked like a copy of an old map, and had several Critainian markings on it. The title read ‘Uroth’ in bold lettering. “This new system is almost a duplicate of the system the Critainians came from.” He hurriedly sifted through his papers until he found a book filled with notes. “Here it is,” he said as he opened it up to a marked page. “The third planet of the system lay in the habitable zone of the planetary system. Study has show that it holds life, and the dominant population has a social system of government, industry and trade. Though they have not mastered flight, they have built great ships to cross the oceans of the world, and it appears as though they are at the cusp of creating the first steam engines.” He looked up to the others with the same grin he’d had since he found out the information.
“Do they have descriptions of the people?” Claudia asked as she leaned over the table to see the book.
“Oh yes,” Clarfax replied as he sifted through more of his papers. “Here it is.” He laid out a series of papers which shown an upright, bi-pedal being, slender in form with very delicate features.
“They look…” Robert began as he studied the images. “…like simians or primates. Sort of like monkeys.”
“They don’t have any tails,” Claudia said as she took a close look at one. She smiled as she studied the intricate detail of the clothing in the picture. “Very impressive work on their clothing, though.”
“They don’t have fur, do they,” Gilbert said as he looked closely to the images, then back to Clarfax. “Do they?” Clarfax shook his head in reply. “How in the world do they keep warm, then?”
“The research findings haven’t fully come back,” Clarfax explained as he took a seat. “This is only the first of the information that the astrological society has allowed to be released so far.”
“Look at their ears,” Claudia said, pointing to each of the images. “On the side of their heads, but long and pointy.” She took a close look at one of them carefully. “They must have excellent hearing, I suppose.”
The four continued to pour over the information contained in the maps and the research notes, completely oblivious that they were to be joined by a fifth. Little matter really to Hardy Maynard. She enjoyed watching Clarfax excitedly go over new research findings.
“Oh hello, Hardy,” Claudia said with a smile as she looked up. The three males all jumped slightly as they were jarred into awareness of someone else.
“Hardy, you gave us a start,” Clarfax said with a nervous laugh as he caught his breath.
“I didn’t mean to sneak up on everyone,” Hardy said with a sly grin as she leaned over to ruffle Clarfax’s hair a bit.
“I heard you, Hardy,” Claudia said quietly with a chuckle, looking to the three males for a moment.
“Well, I just popped by to see if Clarfax was free,” she said and looked to the table. “Looks like the astrological society finally released their findings.”
“Yeah, Clarry was just showing us,” Robert said with a grin as he looked through some of the papers again. “This all so brilliant.”
“I was just wondering,” Hardy said as she looked to Clarfax. “If I might be able to steal you away for an hour. However, I’ll completely understand if you have something more pressing to do.”
“Spend the afternoon with you,” Clarfax said with a smile as he blushed slightly. “I think I can pull myself away from this for a bit.”