Being an Asmovian: Issue # 11. King’s Wrath. Save the Cat Method.

Let’s do a Tunnel Rat King Episode shall we.

  1. Opening Image: The Kings Guardian group leads him away from the others who are distracted mourning the loss of He’h.
  2. Theme Stated: Reconstruction: “Do we have a medical synthesizer back at camp?” Asks the King. “Of course responds,” the nearest trooper.
  3. Set-up: They get back to camp and he asks for the man who answered him to come into his tent with the synthesizer. As he enters, a laser beam flashes out and he cuts him down at the ankle. He screams, clutching his stumped legs. “Crawl over here and bring those to me. I need them more than you do. I’ll build you a golden chariot for your sacrifice,” offers the King.
  4. Catalyst: The trooper quickly weighs his options and does as he is told. Once done, the king says “Get out of my sight.” As he turns to leave the King shoots him through the heart. “Fool, as though anyone else deserves a great chariot than I,” says the King to himself. He begins working his new legs onto his body.
  5. Debate: Outside the remaining troops see the two flashes and hear the body of their friend Jonas drop to the floor. They begin to talk of what to do with their predicament.
  6. Break into Two: Half the group chooses to abandon the king while he is unwell. Those loyal to the King begin firing wildly into those that are fleeing taking down some but not all of them. The kings numbers dwindle.
  7. B Story: Homnie plants (slams) his Cane into the center of the field and the flowers being to sway towards the center of where the cane is located, only to start wishing away as He’h is reformed as a new form calling himself “He’thol. “It must be some form of ‘Tol accepting my obstruction of him,”
  8. Fun and Games: The king walks out of their tent and finds the group half missing and the bodies laying on the floor.
  9. Midpoint: “Let’s go round us up some traitors,” They yell. And the group cheers.
  10. Bad Guys Close in: The ones that were able to escape hide in a cave not far from the camp, but as far as they could get on foot. Only one or two were able to make it away in vehicles and they were blown up as they attempted to escape.
  11. All is Lost: Laughing echoes into the cave. All too familiar.
  12. Dark Night of the Soul: Those that hear the laughing begin to scream, as the armed troopers close in. Looks of terror blanket their eyes.
  13. Break into Three: Rapid laser fire is seen lighting a dark cave. But not showing contact with the bodies.
  14. Finale: The troopers that cleared the cave come out and let the Tunnel King that they were successful. “That was all of them,” says the trooper.
  15. Final Image: “Good. Let’s get to the citadel. The council have much to answer for,” says the King, holding a radioactive canister.

The Philosophy of an Asmovian.

Being an Asmovian.

So we know that the acolyte goes to the statue and offers their vigil to the memory of the man the statue represents.
Then she goes to the ships bar, if only to blend in as she doesn’t drink herself, where behind them a massive dead planet (Trantor?–the center of the universe) is pulled to it’s demise and she says to her glass “It all ends at Trantor ( or something similar about the center of the universe.).

She makes her way back to her bunk bed/ sleeping quarters which happens to be a large wall of rooms which are opened by keycards which she swipes to gain entry to her own suite. She’s masquarading as an artist and her art hangs from the walls of the suite and is mathematical in nature.

As she comes to the table there is a letter left on the “faux wooden” table which she opens. The note reads something menacing about people knowing who she is.
A cold sweat breaks across her body as the corners of the letter smolder and ignite and she’s left holding a fistful of ash.

“So they’re not entirely outdated in their approach.” She takes the ash and pours it down the toilet of the and flushes it. Above shot of it swirling away.

[Creators note] I feel that Asimov’s characters on the whole are, while not passive as they believe in a the greater plan, are not actively aggressive. I want to change that a little bit to give my character a bit of a bite/edge to her.

She rests against her bed, sitting. Not lying down, and falls into a semi sleep state.

The next day: We see a shot of the ship and how truly massive it is compared to their objects in space. They are semi planet sized to carry enough terra forming materials and peoples around the galaxies. They use photon entanglement to send transmissions to each other across vast distances.

The ship is broken up into townships that will each be their own colony town upon landing. Most are made up of different economic classes, but some are of mixed castes so that there is a more diverse perspective during the initial phases of building.
“It takes all kinds isn’t a motto most ignore when doing this work.”

Each township has a governing board and mayor that have varying level of corrupt nature as most politicians would do on any planet. Some are not above trading goods or services to the lower castes to move them up in the ships ranking so they get a better domicile or what have you.

Our protagonist decides to meet up with the other town ships local acolytes and see what they think she should do. The nearest is a female sculptor who was the one responsible for placing the statue in the forest of each of the townships parks in the first place.


“Handy work there Abigail” which is of course not her real name. In fact she didn’t know her true name, as she assumed Abigail didn’t know hers. It just wasn’t done to save lives of those collected by the galactic governmental police.

Abby stops what she is doing, working with a laser to etch a plaque for the mayor who may have warranted his own statue for his town ship. The corruption was deeply rooted and you either played with it or were destroyed by it, at least until the great plan was taken into action and the corruption could be weeded out.

Abby’s suggestion is to go to the third district and see the mayor there, one of the governing boards members able to allocate funding for the Asmovian needs discretely, as most assumed the bribes he took went into his own coffers and not for altruistic matters. “Go see Mayor Stevens, he’ll have a broader view than I do on how to handle the situation. It is not part of my plan’s allowance to help you with much, I’m afraid to say.” Says Abbey.
The protagonist thanks her, smiles warmly, and heads out. She turns back at the door as it opens, resting her arm on the door frame: No you’ve done more than I could have hoped for. I just hope there’s something that can be done to root them out before we land, or I’ll be worrying about them the entire time I’m setting up my part of the plan.”
Abbey nods gruffly, while lowering a blast shield over her eyes and going back to the laser etching she was working before.

Upon gathering up the needed money to bribe the receptionist, everyone gets their cut, she moves up to the third district—much the same as the others yet imperceptively cleaner than some others, as though the metal walls repelled dust on their own.

She makes it to the mayors office and meets the receptionist. She hands her a voucher for 250 credits and asks for a meeting with Mayor Stevens.
“What is this about?” asks the receptionist.
“I need to ask him about if he wants shipments of my paintings for his domiciles. Something soothing yet enjoyable.” She says.
The receptionist nods, as many come looking to have their wares in his stead.
“Go have a seat and I’ll buzz you through once he’s available.” Says the receptionist.
She thanks her and goes and sits under a large painting, one that just happens to be hers from a early time period.

The light over his office door flickers and goes out and a buzzer goes off faintly.
“You can go in now.” Says the receptionist.
She thanks her and heads into the spacious office.
Gleaming metal from most angles meet her, and a desk of real wood and metal separate her from Stevens and herself.

He’s a man in his late 40’s, jolly. Reddish cheeks, not from drinking, but from living through his life as directed by the second foundations wishes work load. A hard life, but enjoyable enough.

How may I help you? He asks with a knowing look.
The protagonist grimaces.
“Someone knows about us. I don’t know who yet, but I fear for our movements down below once we get planetside.”
He waves her away, motioning to a leather seat formed likely by one of his connections, as leathers of most types were quite rare of a commodity in the outer reaches. She sat. The seat made no effort to stop her, enveloping her comfortably as she rested within it’s hold.

There is always someone trying to break up the plan dear, says Mayor Stevens. It is best to lie in wait and let them make a mistake than to alert them that you know you’re being watched and fumble. Go about your business and if you get more messages let me know, and I will sort them out for you, put out my feelers as such—which little resources I have. Until then act as though nothing is wrong or you’re going to draw suspicion to yourself and others.
“That’s it?” She asked.
Stevens nodded and smiled.
That’s the best we can do with the current amount of information we have.

He bid her farewell and shuffled her out the door. I have much to do, I’m sorry we couldn’t talk more on this.
The door buzzed and closed behind her leaving our protagonist rather dumbstruck.

“Did you get what you needed?” Asked the receptionist?
After a momentary lapse she nodded. “More than I could have hoped for.”
The receptionist smiled and the protagonist left the office, heading once again to her domicile.

Inside Mayor Stevens office an eyeless recording device blinked twice, signaling that it required responding to.
“You see that?” She’s starting to trust in us over other people. A good sign I think. Keep an eye on her and we’ll see how well she does with this test before we land, shall we?”
He shuffled some papers, and the staring eye blinked twice, slid into the wall, and what was once something barely noticeable became smooth metal.

Chapter 2:

Character design is freaking hard.

So I made this black and white one from a photo reference last night. Learning Portrait 20  8.7.19.png

 

And then I spent this morning trying to come up with a compelling character and I think I’m closer but not just there yet. I keep watching youtube videos and they’re making everything look so easy it’s almost infuriating.

So then I make this:

Learning Portrait 21 8.8.19

Mediocre at best. But much better than what I had a few days ago. So now all I need to do is keep practicing until I get to the point where my character design is legitimately where it needs to be and then I can move onto the next stage and start getting the story sorted properly. It’s going to be a slog but totally worth it if I can do it right.

I’ll post again once I have a better piece.

Have a wonderful afternoon.

-J.

Okay, so let’s write a comic book.

Being an Asmovian is clearly a visual story telling endeavor.
I figured it would be a novel but then I kept seeing her face as she bent down to wish her blessings on the statue. Now I can’t unsee it.

So I’ve come up with the information for the first 15 panels so far. Shots. Dialogue. Nothing too fancy. Perhaps a page or few at most. But I want to test it out and see how well I do with it.

I need to figure out a name for the heroine–or to leave her nameless as the folks of the second foundation do not use their real names in public, until I absolutely have to give her one.

I have an iPad sitting here with Clip Studio Paint and I could get it started as we speak but I want to use my Wacom, and it’s airbrush which I get tomorrow because while I’ve had it for a while I didn’t do much with it other than the first attempt at a comic.

I think I’ll try the Loomis method of head drawing since I’ve only done front on portraiture up until this point with sharpies and digital pieces.

I’m thinking she’s on a planetary level cruiser moving millions of beings to a new planet as the foundling foundation member for that outpost. She’s already posing as a well to do artist with the intent to put up the next marker for the travelers that come to pass as set up per the foundations wishes. But she’s just come back to her bunk after watching Trantor collide with its sun and go super nova (I need to check the physics of this to be true or not, instead of what I want it to be) and found a note that says “we know” on it before it spontaneously combusted.

So there’s an enemy there somewhere on the ship, and she had no idea who it is or what their motives are. Or if they’re even enemies at all.

Through out the story she’ll meet people who, as the multi disciplinary scientists, set up the terraforming–a word long lost to antiquity but used nonetheless. Robots do the heavy lifting, even if they are sentient they have come to have a statute of rights about their livelihoods that allows them to coexists with this current generation of humans. As she meets these people I’ll explain how they could be used in our current formation to fight climate change if at all possible. Some of it may be sci-fi, some of it hard science.

So far these are some of the designs/machinations I’ve come up to tinker with throughout the story in my past year of study:

I. Generators. Townsend Atom-level Generators T.A.G.s

II. Vertical Farms. The basic. The improved. The most abundant.

III. Coastal Erasure – attempts at informing the public/U.N. What can be done. Planning Accordingly.

IV. Light Based computers using crystal lattices as mathematical operators. LIGO Method.

V. Creating a white hole using T.A.G.s. and Electron density Fields.

VI. Bending Black holes using heavy atoms within the confines of White Holes.

VII. Clearing off negatively charged dirty Solar Panels using Electrons subsinks.

VIII. The Efficiency Play.

IX. Destroying Cancer Cells with a T.A.G. powered system.

X. Direct to brain chemical interface using Biomedical Stent.

XI. Healing Scar Tissue JRE 945

XII. Picometer Tunneling Scanning Microscope.

XIII. Spinal Nerve Damage Repair/Circumvention using dual synced Pulse rates.

XIV. Dimpling and Pimpling Silicon to get any shape needed for production methods using N/P Type Doping.

XV. Fighting Asthma with a carbon based mask.

XVI. Carbon Inverted Heat Condensor.

XVII. Artifical Synapses/Electrolytes First Gen Electron. Second Gen Light-based.

XVIII. Using Below Freezing Carbon (expansive) for near any element printing. To set up the Wave

XIX. Diffusing peripheral vision to shorten the distance and thickness of goggles or eye wear to be glasses level thin for ar uses. For those that don’t want to implant directly due to government overreach.

XX. Enriching Graphene to become closer to pure pco. (Denser.)

XXI. Traveling near light speed using compressed black and white hole combinations using expressed atoms to allow compression in spaces vacuum.

Perhaps her goal is to stay there for a decade or few and see that everything turns out to Seldon’s plan. Then she moves onto the next planet going at light speed.

I’m not too sure yet. More to think about while I work. But I’ve written pages on each of these subjects, done diagrams, stored diagrams mentally, and I think this may be an interesting way to disseminate information into the public, if I can make the comics well drawn enough and pretty enough to keep people interested with some action. Perhaps an attack/disaster befalls the fledgling colony.

So much to think about. Fun times.

Pleasurable day to you all.

-J

Being an Asmovian.

So I’m either manic or in a good mood, but I’ve come up with the faint beginnings of a story I wish to tell.

It’s just a snippet, that’ll take you 30 seconds to read. But I’ll futz around with it and see if I can do anything with it in a few days. I know she’s a Historian. Now I’ve just got to put the foundation into utter peril, make her the lead. Give her some people to interact with and someone to fight and write until the story is told.

The three alms of the new world were these;

Let me live. Free energy to all.

Let me live well. Free food to all.

Let me have time to create. Automation for the people—instead of currency.

These words are etched into the herald of each statue of every colony within the influence of the second foundation, though most wouldn’t see them—as atom sized as they were against the materials various surfaces.

Those that practiced the rites of the foundation, however, made pilgrimage and paid homage to their founder’s likenesses whenever they were within dutiful distance of such things.

Meryl was one such practitioner—and as it had been for millennia, was bent head to knee at the figure’s bronze shoes. She appeared to be tying her shoe, but in fact—though her hands moved rhythmically within her robe, she made intricate signals towards the man that stood over her, in hopes he would bless her journey and what she had been set to do.

Her eyes opened as she returned from her kneeling position, and gathered her robes around her properly once again—letting them fall just so that they hanged imperceptibly above the dirt. She stared up at the large bronzed man, his hair gleaming in the artificial light of the park, which had been filled with trees long bred for air purification and surrounded the pathway she had come down. Even if the messages were hard to find for a normal person, those that built and placed the statues took no little effort to make sure that they were not visited often, or if lucky—at all, by those unknown to his teachings.

She stared at name etched into the metal name plate, and smiled.

It read Asimov.

Meryl turned and began to walk down the path. He watched her go, smiling—a kind look etched into his eyes.

Marlin: Part 3. The next 5,000 words.

Joshua came up next to Marlin.
“May I help?”
Marlin passed him the knife she was using, and grabbed another for herself.
They made quick work of preparing the meal, and soon Helena was simmering the stew over the old wood stoves hot plate.

Once the stew was ready, Helena ladled the stew into four mouse sized bowls. Gregory busied himself with a loaf of nut bread which he sliced and placed next to each bowl for dipping into the stew.
Marlin laid out the cutlery for the meal and pointed towards the chair nearest her.
“Why don’t you sit there, Joshua?”
Joshua did as he was asked and sat down at the table, as the mouse family served the dinner they had all helped to make.
Soon they were all sitting at the table, and ready to eat.
Gregory dipped his bread into his stew and ripped a piece off of the glistening bread with his teeth.

The others started to eat as well.
Joshua tried the stew, and smiled warmly as the tastes of the vegetables rolled over his tongue.
He began to eat in earnest.
Marlin smiled at him, as she gently spooned a chunk of carrot into her mouth.
“Slow down, Joshua. There’s plenty for you to have. You don’t need to eat it so quickly.”
Joshua blushed and nodded.

“Sorry. It’s just so good.”

Marlin nodded.

“It is good, isn’t it?”
Her parents smiled at the two young animals, as they ate their dinner.
They made quick work of their meal and soon enough the now empty bowls were washed and put away, along with their cutlery.
Gregory closed the cabinet door.

“Why don’t you two go play, and while your mother and I have a chat.”

Marlin nodded.
“Sure thing father. Joshua, do you know how to play tag?”
Joshua shook his head.
“Not really. How do we play?” his voice rasped through the fabric wrapped around his neck.
Marlin offered him a wicked grin, walked up to him, and placed a paw on his shoulder.
“Tag! You’re it. Now chase me until you tag me back.”
She ran off out of the room at full speed.
Joshua looked at Marlin’s parents.

Helena smiled at him.
“Quickly, go get her.”
Joshua ran out of the room smiling widely as he went.
Helena and Gregory sat at the dining table and began to have their discussion.
Marlin ran out of the kitchen, through the back door, and down the alleyway leading out behind their home.
Joshua soon followed, catching up to her quickly with his much longer legs.
They ran through the alleyway, right up until Joshua laid his paw on Marlin’s back and yelled out in great cheer.
“Tag! You’re it!”
Marlin stopped, stooping breathlessly, with a grin from whisker to whisker on her face.

“You got me. Now how about we play hide and seek?
Joshua shook his head.
“How do we play that?”
“I count to twenty, and you run and hide. Then I come looking for you. Simple as that.”
Joshua nodded.
“Is twenty a lot?”

Marlin looked at him incredulously as well as with a small amount of pity

“It’s plenty, Joshua. I’m going to close my eyes, and you run off and try to hide from me.”
Joshua wasted no time and bounded down the alleyway, passing by the back door they had just recently come out of.
Marlin counted out loud, until she was ready, opened her eyes, and saw nothing but an empty alleyway.
She walked through the alley, running her eyes over everything she could, but could not find the stoat anywhere.

Marlin came to the street that joined the alleyway, and searched in both directions for her new friend, but could not find him.
After fifteen minutes of determined searching, she began to call out for him.
“You did it Joshua. You beat me. I have no idea where you could be.”

She walked by an empty dirt lot, it’s high wooden fencing hiding it from view.
“Why don’t you come out and show me where you found such a fine hiding place.”
As she passed the corner of the lot, she could hear faint sniggering coming from the other side.
Marlin found a hole within on of the boards, and lowered her eye to it.
In the corner, the shape of Joshua could be seen, as he tried to look through a gap in the fence without giving away his position.

“Aha!” she yelled, as she laid eyes on him “I found you, you rascal.”
Joshua jumped a little as Marlin’s voice surprised him.

He climbed over the fence expertly and dropped down next to her.
“You got me. Is it my turn to look for you?”
Marlin nodded.
“Yes, but you don’t have to count out loud if you don’t want to. Just wait for me to hide, and then come looking for me.”
Joshua nodded sheepishly.

“I don’t really know my numbers. I’ll do as you said. Be quick about it. I’m sure you won’t find a better hiding spot than I did.”
Marlin snorted.
“I bet I will.”
She ran off down the street, and disappeared from view.
Joshua counted in his head as best he could, and soon was searching for her.
Marlin rounded the corner of the street and was soon at the front door of her parents shop again. She ran around to the back of the building and found her parents waiting for her. They called her inside.

“Marlin, we have something we want to discuss with you, right now,” said Gregory, wrapping his paw around her shoulder, and leading her in through the door.
Joshua searched the neighborhood for the better part of forty minutes before finally admitting defeat and heading back towards the back door of the mouse’s house. The door was open when he arrived, and he walked in feeling no small amount of defeat at not being able to find Marlin.

He was surprised to find her, and her parents, waiting for him at the dining table. Marlin had a serious look on her face, and both her parents were smiling at Joshua as he came into the room.
“So, this is where you were. No wonder I couldn’t find you.” His voice rasped mechanically as he pursed his lips in mock frustration.
Marlin shook her head.
“Sorry. Mother and Father needed to talk to me. I was just about to go out and start looking for you.”
Helena motioned to the chair nearest Joshua.
“Have a seat, dear. We have some things we need to talk to you about.”
Joshua looked worried but sat down as he was told.
“What’s up?” asked Joshua, as concern crossed his furry features.
Marlin cleared her throat and clasped her paws together in a dignified manner.
“We’ve been talking and we’ve got something to ask you.”
Her eyes rose to meet his.
“Yes?”

Marlin wrung her paws together before taking a breath and speaking quickly.

“We were wondering if you’d want to come stay with us? Here, at our home.”
Joshua blinked twice, raised his paw, and lowered it to his lap once again.
“You want me to live with you?”
The mouse family nodded their heads.
“We thought you might like a nice bed to sleep on, instead of—what you showed me today?” said Marlin.

Joshua looked from one mouse’s face to another, and flashed a wide toothy grin before looking uncertain.
“You really mean it? You’re not just messing with me?”
Helena shook her head.
“Yes dear. We do mean it. We have space enough to give you a bed, and a roof over your head, and the stores being doing well enough that you wouldn’t harm us in anyway from staying with us.”
Joshua clapped his paws together, so full of joy and excitement he could barely contain himself.

“I would be honored!”

Gregory and the others smiled.
“That’s fantastic! We thought we might even help you with some tutoring, same as Marlin.”

Helena nodded.
“It’s the least we could do for a brave stoat such as yourself. Especially for what you did saving Marlin today.”
Joshua nodded.
“Happy to help. Gosh. Do you mind if I go and bring my stuff from my home—my old home, with me?”

Marlins parents nodded.
Helena opened her arms and held out her paws, palm up.
“That would be fine, wouldn’t it dear?”
Gregory smiled and nodded.
“I’m sure Marlin will be happy to help you bring your stuff here, while we get your bed and room sorted.”
Joshua looked awe struck.
“I get my own room? I can’t believe it!”
Helena nodded.

“It’s small, an old storage room of ours—but it will do as your room. I’ve already started clearing out the bolts of cloth that filled it.”
Joshua enthusiastically nodded his head, all too happy to hear about his new room.
“Can we go right now? I could have my stuff packed away in a few minutes.”
Now it was Marlin’s turn to nod.
“Let’s get going then. Let me grab a bag so I can help carry stuff with you, and we’ll have you home with us before morning.”
Joshua jumped up from his seat, and ran to the door, as Marlin did the same right behind him.
They went to Marlin’s room, where she found her travel bag, and soon they were out the door and walking merrily through the darkened streets towards Joshua’s soon to be previous home.
The two of them made it to the warehouse in record time, and after a furtive glace in both directions down the empty street, were soon through the fence and standing inside Joshua’s tent. He quickly began stuffing his meager belongings in the bag Marlin had brought, and even with his blanket rolled up and stuffed inside, it barely felt full. They exited the lean to, and he began to undo the knots that held the red fabric of the door way to what had been his home for these past years.
The fabric securely removed, he flipped it over and held it up to Marlin.
On the side facing her was a large orange star, with three faces of the moon underneath it. The fabric was a flag of some kind.
“It’s the flag of my family. My father had the thought to wrap me in in case I succumbed to my injuries, that if someone found me they might have buried me with it.”
Marlin nodded.
“It’s very nice. Maybe you could hang it on the wall in your room.”
Joshua perked up immensely at the thought.
“I think I will,” he said, as he folded the flag into a small bundle and tucked it safely in Marlin’s bag.

Marlin motioned to the tent.
“Do you want to take any of the rest of this down with you?”

Joshua shook his head.

“No. I’ll leave this for someone else to stay dry in. It’s the least I could do.”
Marlin nodded and turned towards the alley.

“We’d better get back as soon as we can. I’m sure my parents have cleared out your room by now. Father has probably got something nice and soft sorted for your bed.”
Joshua smiled.
“You think so?”
Marlin nodded once again.
“I’m sure of it. We mice work quickly when there’s something at stake such as a new family members bed.”

Joshua’s mouth hung agape, before snapping shut.
“You think I could be a part of your family?”
Marlin rolled her eyes.
“Of course, you silly thing. What else would we want other than to have you be part of our family.”
Joshua’s echoing voice crackled as he sniffled back a tear.

As tears welled up at the corners of his eyes, he blinked them back as quickly as he could, failing miserably to stop them from falling down his furry white cheeks.
“I never thought I’d have a family again.”
Marlin came up to him and placed a paw on his side. She turned him to face her.
Joshua looked down at her.
“Listen to me, Joshua. I—we—would be glad to have you be a part of our family if you’ll have us. You have nothing to worry about when it comes to that. Just don’t go taking us for granted one of these days.”
Joshua wiped back the tears as they came forth.

“I wouldn’t think of it. No, not me. Not at all.”
Marlin smiled and nodded her head curtly.
“Then it’s settled. Let’s get out of here and get you home then.”
They headed down the alley way, and to the opening in the fence. Marlin went through first. As Joshua reached through the opening, he couldn’t help but look back down the alleyway, and with a sharp inhale of breath, smiled one last time as his old home. He turned towards the opening once more and, without hesitation, walked through towards his new life.

Unrest Grows.

J

oshua grew during his time with the mice. He was an honest, and hardworking young stoat, who took his new found life with his adoptive family as the happiest times he’d ever had. Though his room was small, barely enough to fit the bed Gregory eventually made him, and a small mouse sized clothes dresser in one corner, he was never shy to be openly thankful to his family for such a thing. The flag his biological father had wrapped around him before the knife met him hung on the wall by the door, where he could see it every day as he woke, to be reminded of where he had come from. Soon enough Marlin and he had filled the room with things he had no knowledge of wanting while living on the streets. He earned a fair allowance working in the store most days, after the mornings lessons from their shared tutor, a weasel named Ms. Sims, who’s spectacled face was often one of happiness as her two students worked diligently on their given problems of the day.
But while the life of the family was fine and happy, the city of Port Palo fractured and became increasingly hostile. The two groups: those that wanted foreigners out of the town: The Homefront Coalition, and those that were foreigners themselves or lived in their communities, were hosting competing rallies through the months, and as the parties grew in voice and timbre, so did too the hostilities between the two.

One fateful night, the leading party of the Homefront Coalition, who wanted nothing more than to rid the city of any animal that hadn’t been born there, incited a riot after much speech giving and drunken badgering of those that walked around or through the gathering crowd. The crowd of animals, mostly drunk after a night of heavy inebriation at the meeting halls where the rallies were held, spilled out on the streets, and marched through city, lighting fires at the homes and businesses of the animals that were known foreigners.
The leading animal, a long out of work, chinchilla lead the charge through the streets.
“Make them leave, whence they’ve come! Do not let them desecrate our homes! Take our jobs! Pollute our families!” he bellowed as he led the incensed mob through the streets.
They made it to the merchant alley and stopped outside the family’s storefront.
The incensed chinchilla stormed back and forth in front of the store.
“And here! Ladies and Gentleman—is a house of one of those despicable families! No longer will we sit and wait for them in vain. No longer will we let them do as they please before the sake of those that welcomed them with open arms only to be destroyed by their devious plans!”
The crowd roared in agreement.
Some shouted out towards the frantically pacing chinchilla.
“Burn them! Burn them to the ground!”

The chinchilla bridled with anticipation continued on with his prophesizing.
Gregory woke to the smell of smoke coming through the open window, and the sounds of the crowd yelling below him. He got his family up quickly and quietly and motioned for Marlin and Joshua to head for the back door.
“You head around back and see if you can join the crowd. I’m going to head out and see if I can calm these folks down.”
Helena nodded, and set the two of them out the back door, closing it behind her.
Marlin and Joshua headed around the back of the building and came into the middle of the amassing crowd, as they began to chant in unison.
“Burn them. Burn the dirty animals. Burn. Burn. Burn!”
Marlin couldn’t see over the crowd of animals, and turned to Joshua.
“Let me get up on your shoulders, so I can see what’s going on?’
Joshua bent down and she scrambled up his body and stood on his shoulders, where she could see the chinchilla being passed a torch.

As her lowered the torch to the doorway of the building, the door opened, and Gregory stepped out into the crowd.

“My good animals. What do you hope to accomplish by burning down my livelihood?”
Gregory raised his open palms in an attempt to assuage what the chinchilla was about to do.
That’s when the first bottle thrown from the crowd struck him, dashing alcohol over his body. Others followed suit, pelting him to half empty bottles of what they carried with them, stones, and whatever else they could find to fling at him.
The chinchilla held up the torch, menacing Gregory with it.
He turned to the crowd.
“You see! He tries to trick us with his words. To make us feel as though we are to blame for what his ilk do to cause such pain and misery in our town.”
“String him up!” Yelled an otter from the crowd.
The mob began to chant in thunderous tones.
“String him up! String him up!”
The chinchilla, unbridled with the fervor the crowd gathered, was all too happy to oblige.
“Friends. Grab this mouse. Make him a example of what happens to those that would harm our way of life! String him up!” yelled the chinchilla, as he lowered the torch to the alcohol soaked door frame. It caught alight all too quickly, as those around Gregory wrestled with him and brought him to the nearest lamppost.
Marlin and Joshua looked on in horror as a rope was brought forth, and tied around his neck, and thrown over the lamp post.
The crowd chanted on, in murderous glee.
“String him up! String him up!”
And with one fatal motion, a group of animals, all wearing the drunken smiles of the righteous, hefted Gregory up into the nights sky, and tied off the rope around the lamppost.
Marlin shrieked in horror as her father struggled for air, clawing at the rope around his throat. It was lost in the raucous applause and cheering as the crowd watched him kick at the air hopelessly.
“String him up! String him up!” echoed the mob as the stores second floor caught fire and began burning.
Marlin clawed her way down Joshua and made to run towards her father with tears in her eyes, when a powerful arm stopped her. Trotters covered her mouth as she fought the arm, as it turned her towards whoever was stopping her.
Wilbur stared down at her, a morose look in his eye.
Wordlessly he grabbed each of them by the paw, and led them away from the crowd and down the alleyway away from Gregory’s no longer struggling body.

He did not stop until they were well away from what had happened.

Marlin could contain herself no longer.
“What about mother! What happened to her?” she yelled, hot tears running down her face and whiskers.
Wilbur shook his head.
“You saw the building. It was entirely engulfed in flames. If she didn’t make it out herself, then—”

Joshua shook back tears.
“Then what!?”
Wilbur offered no reply.
After a moment, he spoke again.
“You must get out of here. It’s no longer safe for you in this city. Come. Follow me, and I’ll get you to safety.”
“I want to see my father. Let me go and see my father!” yelled Marlin.
Wilbur shook his head again.

“No dearest, you may not. I will take care of him once the crowd has moved on. I’ll do my best to find your mother too—but you must leave. Now!”

Marlin slumped to the ground and began to cry shuddering breathes, beyond mere distraught.
Joshua gathered her up and made her stand on her feet again.
“He’s right. We have to go now, or else they may come hunting for us and we’ll end up just like Father.”
Marlin screwed up her face in abject hatred and frustration.
She sighed.
“You’re—you’re right. Show us the way.”

Wilbur nodded a small agreement and headed down the alleyway. They followed.

Soon they came to a metal cover in the center of the alleyway. Wilbur bent down and lifted the cover with his powerful arms.
“Down here.”
He threw the cover to the side and pointed into the vast darkness that was the sewer system below.
As the smell of the sewer reached Marlin her nose wrinkled in disgust.
“You’re sure? We can’t just outpace the mob and make a break for it?”
Wilbur shook his head.
“Listen to the city. It’s in agony. There are multiple mobs spreading throughout the city. We’ll be lucky if it doesn’t burn down before the morning comes.”
Joshua nodded and grabbed Marlin’s wrist.
“Come on, we don’t have time to waste.”
He pulled her down into the sewer.
Wilbur peered down at them from the street.
“Just keep heading straight, until you reach the gate at the end of the tunnel. It’ll let you out onto the fields surround the town. Head East until you find the main road, and don’t stop until you have to.”
Joshua looked up to him with a determined eye.
“I’ll keep her safe. Don’t worry about that. You go on. Try to find Helena.”
Wilbur nodded down at them, and retrieved the cover.

“Good luck!” he yelled, as he placed the cover over the opening once again.
The two of them were enveloped in pitch darkness.

Still holding onto Marlin’s wrist, Joshua began trudging through the sludge along the bottom of

the sewer pipe. Marlin held her breath as they raced along in total darkness, their footfalls the only sounds as they sloshed through the muck.

They traveled for what could have been twenty minutes or an hour or two until they came up

hard against the grate at the end of the tunnel. Moonlight peered in between the iron bars, casting a gloom figure behind each of them into the darkness they had just traveled through.
Marlin stopped at the grate.
“There’s a door over there,” she said, pointing towards it with one paw.
They raced up toward it and found that it wasn’t locked, though the door seemed to be jammed shut from all the dampness of the sewer.
“Throw your back into it,” said Joshua as he ran against it.
Marlin and he tried again until the door finally began to budge, and then swung open on creaking hinges and moonlight hit their faces.
They ran out into the night air without taking a moment to look back at the now smoking and burning city they once called home behind them. They headed East and reached the road, and continued running well into the night.

Meeting Eshu.

M

arlin awoke to a warm summers day, the sun beating down on her, warming her fur. Quite to her surprise she found herself laying on a bedroll to the side of the road. Her fur was matted from walking through the sewer the night before. She could smell it rising off of her. She grimaced at the thought of it and rolled on to her side.
Joshua was sleeping on a bedroll across from her, snoring faintly in the sunlight.
“Glad to see that you’re up, young mouse.”
A fennec fox, white as snow, was sitting across a campfire from her.
Marlin sat bolt upright.

“Who’re you?”
The fox tutted quietly to himself.
“I’m Eshu, the fox. Pleasure to meet you.”
Marlin gathered her wits about her and swallowed hard.
“Thank you, Eshu—for lending us your bedrolls, and pulling us from the road last night.”
The fox nodded.
“Yes, you two looked worse for wear, collapsed on the road like you had been trying to escape something truly horrible.”
Marlin shook her head and began to cry.
Eshu smiled at her, and passed her a mug of tea.
“Here, here, child, don’t you fret. What’s got you worked up so?”
Marlin took the tea from him, her paw shaky slightly as she recounted the previous night.

“They strung him up, and then we ran. We kept running until our legs gave out. I’m not sure how we ended up here with you, but I want to thank you for taking the moment to care for us.”

Eshu smiled.
“And you came from Port Palo?”
Marlin nodded, and pointed towards the still smoking city.
“I’m afraid so—and now—now we have nowhere to go. Our home is lost! My parents—are—gone!”

Marlin began to cry fitful tears once again.

Eshu got up from where he was sitting and sat down next to her. He placed a paw on her shoulder.
“We’ll I’m glad I found you. There’s plenty of thieves and slavers that travel this road, and I’m just lucky I was the one to find you. I couldn’t well let you alone in the middle of the road like that, now could I?”
Marlin shook her head, and offered a sad tentative smile towards the fox.
“You couldn’t?”

Eshu shook his head.

“No, I couldn’t. I would be wasteful to let such an opportunity such as that to go to waste, don’t you think?”
Marlin nodded.
“Perhaps I should get Joshua, he’s my brother, up and we can help you clean up your camp so you can be on your way.”

Eshu thought for a moment.
“Well how about this? You two help me pack away my bedrolls, and come alone with me to the coast. There are ships leaving there all the time. Perhaps we can find you a way to a new home from there?”
Marlin blinked twice, and said nothing.
She shook Joshua awake, and turned to the fox.

“Let me let Joshua know what you did, and we’ll let you know. Right now it sounds like as good a plan as any, but I want to make sure he’s okay with it first.”
Joshua woke up to Marlin’s continued shaking and groggily sat up. Soon it dawned on him that he was on a comfortable bedroll and not in the middle of the road where he had fallen exhausted early that morning.
Marlin motioned to the fox.
“This is Eshu. He’s willing to let us travel with him if we want. He was the one that pulled us out of the road and gave us the use of his bedding for the day, even though we’re soiled as we are. What do you think?”
Joshua stifled a yawn with his paw, and looked around sleepily at Eshu, and back to Marlin.
He nodded slowly.
“That sounds about as good a deal as we could have. I’m happy to keep you company Eshu, if you’ll have us with you.”
Eshu smiled a wry grin, baring sharp teeth against the day.
“That would please me to no end, dear stoat. Joshua, is it?”

Joshua nodded once again.
Eshu clapped his paws together, his claws tinkering softly against one another.

“Then it’s settled. You’ll come with me to the coast, and we’ll see about finding you a new home from there.”
Marlin and Joshua nodded.

“Do you think we’ll be able to find such a place?” asked Marlin, clearly perplexed at the thought of not having a home any longer.

Eshu nodded.
“I’m sure strong animals such as yourself will find a place to call home no problem what so ever. Now before we head out, would you two like something to eat. I’m sure you must be famished.”
Joshua felt his aching stomach. He had slept through most of the day, and woke with a ravenous hunger that he was all too used to before meeting his family.
“That would be very kind of you, sir,” said Joshua thoughtfully.

Eshu went over to his hiking pack and pulled out two small fish, which he laid out for his guests to enjoy.
“Please take these and eat as much as you can. I need you strong for the walk we’re about to take. It’s a week of travel to the coastal town I’m talking you too, and it’s not easy to get to, but I know you two will do just fine as long as you keep your strength and wits about you.”
Joshua grabbed the fish nearest him and bit into its soft cooked flesh. Marlin tentatively took the other and did the same to hers. They soon made full meals of their breakfast. They threw their bones in the fire that Eshu had started that morning.