jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
Love on the beach... and the rocks.

Lady Melanie Lovejoy's former life as the vivacious space pirate the Red Vixen is over. Escaping the consequences of her criminal career proves more difficult, as her husband, Rolas, is seeming to reconsider the wisdom of marrying a vixen with such a checkered past. But he proves to have his own secrets, as a lover from his troubled youth returns to the scene.

Trying to reconcile their past lives, Melanie and Rolas leave on a sailing trip to work things out. However, after an unexpected storm strands their boat and leaves Rolas critically injured, Melanie must fight for both their lives. For there is a monster here, and it needs the two shipwrecked foxen for its own plans, in the final exciting entry of the
Red Vixen Adventures!

The Red Vixen at Sea is available for $2.99 exclusively through, and will release on May 26th, 2017.

(sorry about the crap cover art. I'll fix it when the opportunity presents itself.)

Well crud

Mar. 29th, 2017 04:55 am
jeriendhal: (Ali)
Got a private note from my regular cover artist, pleading creative burnout, which I can't blame her for. Unfortunately it does mean I'm at a loss for cover art for "The Red Vixen at Sea" and "The Complete Red Vixen Adventures."

The main problem she was good and obscenely cheap (which I have pointed out to her before). It's a combination I'm unlikely to find again easily. Cover art for furry novels like these are rather dependent on showing off the characters so the reader knows what they're getting, and character art almost always means commissioning something instead of using open source images and an online cover creator.

So at this point I'm either going to have to go with that, or find an artist and do a Kickstarter to pay them what they're worth.

Unless [ profile] chaypeta is willing to work for Terinu fanfics. :/
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
The sun was falling into the sea when rescue finally arrived. Rolas remained face down in the sand, exhausted from his ordeal, the remains of the ardalian’s tentacle hanging from his spine like an obscene second tail. Melanie left him briefly to grab the first aid kit and walk up the stairs for the fifth bloody time to check on the wazagan. It was still shuddering and otherwise unresponsive, though it had stopped crying and muttering to herself. Melanie gave it a shot of a universal anti-shock medication, and the poor creature finally fell into an exhausted sleep.

Letting go of old pain. )
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
Fourth time's the charm, Melanie thought to herself, looking at the stairs again with distaste. But there were four tentacles in the sand, curving around the bay where the ardalian had to be hiding, leading up the stairs to the altar. She had to wonder at that. Surely there was no real reason why attaching a puppeteer tentacle to a victim had to be done at the highest point of the island. Perhaps it was a tradition. The presence of the stone altar slab certainly pointed to that.

She decided to worry about it later. For now, Melanie had a task. Even better, she could do it at the bottom of the stairs instead of climbing all the way to the top to confront the ardalian’s puppets. So she set her improvised spear into the sand, and drew out her real weapon from her pocket.

Any tool can be a weapon, in the right hands. )
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
The worst was the bit with the reef. The lifejacket’s little AI was bound and determined to keep her facing tail towards the the water, snout in the air, which made it difficult to watch and time the waves, and start kicking in a one armed backstroke as they crested the reef. She only barely managed it, feeling her tail catch in the sharp coral as she swam clear, managing to avoid by some miracle of the Mother Goddess ripping her back open on it. The retreating waves threatened to carry past the boat itself, but she managed to tangle her arms with the sail’s lines, then wrapped her arms and legs around the mast itself.

And now for the really stupid part. Feeling her fingers already growing stiff in the cold surf, she yanked at the manual release catches for the lifejacket. It let out an electronic wail of protest as she slipped off, its complaints soon carried with it away in the waves.

Diving for Chekov's Gun )
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
Sheer terror propelled Melanie back the way they had come, running away from the bay, past the dock, and back around again to Windskimmer’s next to the last resting place. She stopped there, falling to her knees by the tree with the boat’s anchor rope still wrapped around it, dislocated shoulder aching in pain.

They had captured Rolas. He was going to be turned into one of the ardalian’s puppets, unable to control his own body, his mind free to watch in horror as the creature used it. She had a horrible vision of him coming towards her, tentacle leash dragging behind him, arms outstretched, only his eyes betraying his terror as he was used to hunt her down.

No plan, no tools, no hope. )
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
Well that’s completely non-reassuring, she thought, stifling a sudden urge to giggle in hysteria. The only saving grace they had at the moment was that they were still hidden, and their opponents were both unarmed and sickly looking. Still, it’s two to one, neither of us are in full health either, and even a half-dead wazagan has a significant advantage in strength over either of us. Mother Goddess she wished she still Alinadar. Even unarmed the little bodyguard would have made short work of all these creatures.

She backed up further, rising to a crouch with Rolas as they went deeper into the trees and brush. Melanie gripped his paw tightly, listening as the quartet called out again for their surrender.

“What do we do?” Rolas asked softly, when they were perhaps ten meters distant.

Good question )
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
With a mutual yelp of surprise, they both hopped back away from the… Yes indeed, it was a tentacle, rising up out of the sand to form a curved, rubbery bar about a meter in the air in front of them, one end still leading into the ocean, the other into the trees, with lots of noisy rustling as it pushed aside more sand, leaves and fallen branches.

Melanie was the first to act, her fatigue suddenly banished in sheer terror. Grabbing Rolas by the wrist, she started dragging him into the trees, well clear of the tentacle, as the sound of something crashing through the undergrowth reached their ears. She dropped flat to the ground, Rolas beside her, as a figure emerged.

From bad to worse )
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
Melanie and Rolas, lacking food, water, and options, start hunting for their mysterious watchers.

Note: After some consideration, I've revised the main manuscript to reinstate Rolas' memory loss, which will be Plot Important later.

* * *

The night wore on interminably. Melanie spent it trading naps with Rolas, though he stayed up far longer than she did. When she did sleep she used Rolas’ lap as a pillow, his tail curling over her chest to ward off  the chill. Even so she still felt exhausted as dawn finally broke, her pelt itching as the seawater dried off from her afternoon swim.

“So do we stay or explore?” Rolas wondered out loud. He grimaced in embarrassment as his stomach let out a loud grumble.

“Explore,” she said reluctantly, probing her lips with her tongue, feeling the dried and cracked surface. “We have to find food and water, especially water, before we’re unable to move.”

Be careful exploring. You might find something. )
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
“We’ll need a fire,” he said. “A big fire.”

“Not hide in the trees?” she asked.

Rolas shook his head, wincing in pain again. “We have to assume they know the territory better than we do. They’re probably watching us right now.”

“This begs the question why they haven’t either introduced themselves or attacked us.”

“Indeed.” He looked around briefly. “I’ll start gathering driftwood. So you remember how to start a fire without flint and steel, like from the Vixen Guides?”

“I was never a Vixen Guide, Rolas.” She smiled at him briefly. “But I do know the trick you intend.”

Reconciliation )
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
She ran as fast as she was able, her stomach churning. Halfway back to the point on the beach where Windskimmer had been anchored, she paused and vomited up her lunch, then lurched unsteadily in pursuit of Rolas.

Fortunately he’d also been slowed down. Evidentially his early display of fitness climbing the stairs had been a bit of a ruse, for up ahead she saw him pause, sway unsteadily, then drop to his knees. Then he pushed himself up and began a loping crawl toward his goal, finally rising unsteadily to stumble along the beach.

Melanie gritted her teeth, tasting bile in her mouth, and forced herself to run faster, arriving just in time as Rolas ran into the surf in pursuit of the sailboat. She grabbed his wrist, trying to draw him back as he continued to head into the waves, foam breaking over his knees.

“Are you out of your mind?!” she screamed at him as Rolas dragged her with him into the bone cold water.

“It’s heading towards the reef!” he shouted back, trying to twist out of her grip. “The coral will rip through the pontoons!”

“You can’t swim after it! If the tide drags you over the coral you’ll be ripped apart!”

Have I mentioned Rolas has Issues? )
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
Mother Goddess be praised, Rolas was willing to take it slow as they strolled around the perimeter of the island. The sand was just normal sand, though the shells of the arthropod analogs that Greenholme hosted were delightfully strange compared to what could be found on Foxen Prime. Melanie plucked one half buried in the sand, revealing a conical shape perhaps five centimeters long and two wide, which was an odd greenish shade and sounded metallic when she tapped it with her claw.

“I wonder if there’s copper in this shell,” she mused. “Could the creature be digesting it in some way, and adding it to the shell’s structure to strengthen it?”

“If so, I don’t want to be nipped by it, if it can harvest copper,” Rolas said. “Nor meet the creature that it has to protect itself from, if it has to be deterred by metal armor.”

“Good point,” she she agreed, pocketing the shell and resolving to tread the beach more carefully.

That's not the only mysterious discovery. )
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
Continued directly from Part Six.

* * *

Melanie waited, but he didn’t continue along that line, so she added, “And she’s the governor of this colony.”

“Yes, well, that’s logical,” Rolas mumbled.

“Mind you, technically you’ve held the post longer than her, since she spent so much time back on the homeworld, looking after Alinadar when she was injured.”

“Who’s Alinadar?”

“A former employee of mine, bodyguard actually. Salli hired her when she went on a Grand Tour, and they fell in love.”

“Military Caste, I suppose?” Rolas guessed.

“Commoner, though Ali’s surviving family are all Military/Service.”

He snorted. “Well, that won’t last.”

The Two Faces of Sallivera )
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
And now we're finally into the brand new material.

* * *

Before allowing herself to go to sleep, Melanie attached sensor pads to Rolas’ forehead and chest, syncing them with the first aid kit’s monitors. If he would have suffered a seizure or stroke in the night, the alarm would have awakened her and the medical band she wrapped around his upper arm would have injected an anti-coagulant automatically.

Once she was finally assured of his safety, she allowed herself to lay down on the bed beside him, her exhaustion overwhelming her to the point that she never remembered laying her head on the pillow.

When Melanie awakened the sun was already shining brightly through the portholes. She blinked muzzily, focusing on the clock first, which said it was late morning already. She rolled over, to find Rolas’ side of the bed empty, the medical band and monitor pads lying in a pile on a nearby shelf.

Issues, Rolas haz em )
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
Note: The is the last of the old material, suitably altered for the change in location. I'm still on the fence about the amnesia subplot. It's probably one of the sillier Romance cliches out there, and medically unlikely, but I'm also rather fond of the possibilities it allows.

* * *

Exhaustion overcame her grief and fear, and eventually Melanie fell asleep, rocking in the bunk like a cub in the Mother Goddess’ arms. That meant when the Windskimmer slammed itself onto the beach of the island she’d been aiming for, she was thrown out of bed and onto the cabin’s deck, still wet from water sloshed into it from the storm. Sputtering and cursing, Melanie got unsteadily to her feet, hauling herself topside.

The sailboat had beached itself on a wide, sandy shore, a nasty grinding sound coming aft as the propellers dug themselves into the white sand. Melanie slapped the shutdown button the console, stopping the motors and the awful sound. Above her head, the sail snapped in the wind, now reduced to much more sensible five kilometers an hour, while the rain had abated to a steady drizzle. In front of the bow, some ten meters up the beach, stood a thick forest of trees with fan shaped leaves.

Going by the computer map, the island was perhaps three kilometers long and two wide, rising to an elevation of fifty meters at its highest point. A notation in the system didn’t even give it a name, just a numeric navigation designation and a note with its place on the list of places requiring ground exploration.

Melanie shook herself, flinging wet, salty droplets from her fur. Then she headed up to the bow, releasing the anchor winch and hauling both anchor and chain up the beach, until she could wrap the chain around the thickest tree she could find and jamming the anchor into the sandy ground, securing the boat firmly. By the time she had finished and made her way back to the Windskimmer, the storm had ended, the wind and rain dying down completely.

She hauled herself back up onto the boat, her gait ironically unsteady and swaying now that the deck was still. Plopping herself down on the bench, Melanie considered her options. A sailboat carrying the Governor General’s brother and sister-in-law disappears in a storm, she thought. They’ll be searching for us. But how soon?

They had only been three days into their fortnight trip, with no specific destination planned. She hadn’t seen Rolas checking in with anyone on the com the entire time they’d been out. Would the search be delayed until the week was up? Longer even? She mentally added another two days to allow for worry to build up in Salli’s mind. Then she added another week to allow for Rolas’ youthful habit of remaining at sea for a month or more at a time. Then she started thinking about Rolas’ body sinking beneath raging waves and began sobbing again.

Damage Control )
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
Note: Again, no major changes in this section. Just correcting some grammar and awkward wording.

* * *

The painkillers Melanie had taken were finally starting to kick in as she finished pulling the last knot tight on the ropes now binding Rolas to the mast. At this point she wasn't too proud to admit she enjoyed hearing his grunt of discomfort as she knotted it off. Her left eye was swollen and her head was still pounding terribly from the blow that had knocked her to the deck. The only good thing was that the sky had gone grey in the past fifteen minutes, sparing her from squinting against the sun.

Her husband's paws were crossed and bound behind the pole, as were his ankles, forcing his knees wide apart. Just for the hell of it she'd wrapped more around his waist and bare chest, and few turns around his neck, not tight enough to restrict breathing but enough to force his chin up. Rolas was refusing to look at her though, his eyes staring out over the deck to the sea beyond.

“Better?” she asked, sitting cross legged in front of him. Rolas stretched and tugged, pulling at the ropes, testing for give and finding none. I may hate sailing, but I do know a thing or two about tying knots, Melanie thought with satisfaction.

Now if she could just remember the Safe part of Safe, Sane and Consensual. )
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
Note: Not too many changes here, just some minor corrections and adding details from Shadow of Doubt.

* * *

“Do you want that anti-nausea patch now?” Rolas asked a few minutes later, as Melanie pushed herself up off the catamaran’s railing, wiping her muzzle clean with a wet washcloth.

“I’ll be fine,” she grumbled. Nevertheless she took the sealed packet from him, reading the warnings on the back carefully, before ripping it open and pressing it to the inside of her left ear. It was the most convenient spot if she didn’t want to shave a patch of fur off her pelt.

“As much time as you’ve spent in zero-g, I’m surprised that the ocean is bothering you so much,” Rolas said, helping her over to a padded bench at the fore of the catamaran.

“You don’t sway in zero-g,” Melanie replied. She looked out over the water, as the drugs settled her stomach. The catamaran was slicing west through the small chop at what Rolas assured her was a relatively quick ten kilometers an hour. The sun had set a half hour before, dropping below the horizon with a suddenness that had startled her. It had reminded her painfully of orbital sunsets she’d viewed from the bridge of the old Scarlet Claw.

“That’s a point,” he agreed. “I didn’t enjoy learning to spacewalk when I was doing my Service tour. The suits we had to wear always felt terribly claustrophobic, even with the 360 cam projections inside the helmets.”

“I never learned to handle zero-g. I spent my Service years with a forest mothering team,” Melanie said. “We got a lot of exercise picking up deadfalls during the spring, to lessen the chances of a forest fire.” She glanced sidelong at him. Rolas was sitting beside her, but keeping a slight distance from her side of the bench, his stance not encouraging a private cuddle at the moment. Now probably wasn’t the best time to ask the questions in her mind, but his mention of his Service years was the only opening she’d had since they had left dock. “Speaking of the Service, how did you ever meet that remarkable fellow, Cannonloader?”

“I don’t wish to discuss that,” Rolas said, his tone brooking little argument.

Among other things )
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
Rolas’ “vacation” turned out to be a boat. Worse, it wasn’t even a boat on a different planet.

“That’s a boat, Rolas,” Melanie said, careful to keep a smile on her face. Rolas had actually gone to the trouble of blindfolding her after he’d thrown their bags into the skimmer. They’d flown what seemed like two hours, landing at a cluster of cheap looking pre-fab buildings on the western coast, set on a beach near a small dock that normally serviced the fleet of survey submersibles taking stock of Greenholme’s oceans. Evidentially he’d been eager to keep things a surprise. Because otherwise I would have been telling him exactly where to stick this idea.

That wouldn't be the worst thing to happen on this trip )
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
Restarting this story, since after further thinking I realized it really had to be set on Greenholme with its unexplored frontiers, not Foxen Prime.

PG-13 for a couple of F-bombs, domestic drama, and discussion of character sexualities.

Youthful mistakes behind the cut )
jeriendhal: (Ali)
Note: Some gaming notes for a race that will be appearing in the revised version of The Red Vixen at Sea. "Redline" was probably the combat drug being fed to little Ali during her carreer with Bloody Margo
* * *

Background: While the Stellar Alliance tries to maintain harmony with all intelligent species outside of Alliance space, even the most inclusive Alliance citizens have a hard time putting in a good word for the Ardalians. Even going beyond their offsetting appearance, the typical Ardalian comes across as blunt, uncaring, and cruel, seeing other intelligent species as merely tools. Possessing a resource illegal to distribute in Alliance space, and a need for intelligent species to manipulate their environment, the Ardies have reputation for being the most despicable sentient race yet encountered.

Appearance and Biology: Evolved from shallows dwelling, plankton consuming invertebrates, adult Ardalians live in the shallows and coves of their worlds, a water planet with 85% oceanic coverage, the remaining 15% divided among scattered archipelagos. Their bodies are roughly saucer shaped, approximately one hundred and fifty yards in diameter, the skin undulating in surface patterns that can camoflauge them from casual observers or unlucky victims, with fifty large, plate sized eyes circling their body. Mounted  between each set of eyes is a single tentacle that can extend to almost three hundred yards in length, the final yard long tip ending in a unique nerve cluster, which both allowed the Ardalians to develop a technological civilization and earn the disgust of free sentients everywhere.

This nerve cluster possesses the unique, and so far unduplicated, ability to interface with other species, even those with a radically different biology than that found on the Ardie homeworld. The tentacle tip is pressed against a subject, or more accurately victim’s, back, allowing thousands of needle sharp “nerve pins” to pierce the subject’s spine and create an interface between the Ardalian and the subject. This procedure has been described as “having molten lava poured over your nerve ends” by the few survivors of the experience. The process takes about an hour to complete, and the victim is usually restrained and conscious, as the Ardie tests and cements its control.

Once complete, the interface allows the Ardalian to use the victim’s eyes and ears to observe the world, and their hands to manipulate it. Their puppets have no control during this process, their own nerve impulses overridden, only able to feel and observe silently as their bodies are used for the Ardie’s own ends. The feeling of violation is terrifying, and the few puppets that have been successfully freed from the interface often suffer long term psychological damage, beyond the physical damage inflicted on their bodies by the uncaring Ardie controlling them.

Ardalians reproduce by budding, releasing up to a hundred buds at once every twenty years or so, to float away with the tides, most to be eaten predators before they can mature. Adolescent Ardalians are mobile, crawling along the floor of their world’s seas at one yard per second, until they’re either eaten or find a safe harbor.

Society: Ardalians are highly individualistic, the nature of their biology making it difficult to even form a community to interact with. Nevertheless they managed, using their sonar to communicate over long distances, and a local species of borderline sentient humanoids (roughly equivalent to Australopithecus) to do work on the shoreline that couldn’t be done in the water. Even so, since the ability to mine metals was very limited, so was their technology, until first contact was made with a Stellar Alliance exploration ship and trade could begin.

First contact revealed much about the Ardalian personality. While they do have some admirable traits, mostly a devotion to speaking truthfully bordering on rude, they have a hard time thinking of other sentient, in particular their enslaved puppets, as people. To an Ardalian, the only people worthy of consideration are other Ardies, and then only to the point of what use they can be. Anyone else, especially their puppets, is a disposable tool. Indeed, prior to their discovery by the Alliance, they were on the verge of losing their ability to manipulate items on land because they were killing the local humanoids faster than they could breed.

Alliance Relations: They can described as “strained” at best. Ardalians don’t leave their homeworld except under extraordinary circumstances, but they’re desperate for Alliance credits to build up their tech level. While there’s some argument in favor of providing the Ardies with robots to replace their puppets, there are few things the Ardies have, beyond biofauna unique to their world, that can’t be found elsewhere trading with more pleasant races.

Unfortunately for the Alliance, one of those pieces of biofauna is the Trileaf, an innocuously named flowering plant that is the base ingredient in Redline, an amphetamine variant commonly used as a combat drug. One ampule has a street value of $500, and provides the user with a feeling of invincibility and immunity to pain for up to ten minutes (Combat Reflexes, High Pain Threshold, Overconfidence), followed by a crash that subtracts 20 minus HT worth of Fatigue Points. Using it more than once a week requires a 3d6 HT roll, failure resulting in a permanent subtraction of one HT. In terms of value for an Addiction disadvantage, it’s considered Illegal, Expensive, and Highly Addictive.

For obvious reasons the Alliance forbids the export of Trileaf except to licensed research institutes. For equally obvious reasons various criminal enterprises try to get around this restriction. Currently the Alliance charter forbids interdicting planets that have not proven to be overtly hostile to member worlds, though this interpretation is getting increasing scrutiny as Redline addiction spreads. This is especially acute given that Ardies, when they aren’t trying to get technology, are trying to get slaves to replace their dwindling puppet population. The usual victims are captives taken when a pirate attacks a civilian vessel, though there are always urban legends abound about innocent tourists getting drugged while on a “safe” Alliance world and finding themselves shipped to Ardalia Prime (and maybe missing a kidney or spare lung).

Ardalian Adult, 663 Points

Stats: ST +50 [50]*, DX +2 [40], HT +2 [20], Will + 2 [10], Basic Move [0]** SM 8

Appearance: Monstrous (universal) [-25]

Social: Tech Level -4 [-20]

Advantages: 360 Degree Vision [25]. Acute Hearing/4 [8], Ally Group (slaves), 21-50 allies, -25% point total, constant x4, minion +50%, touch range only -30% [40], Chameleon [5], Doesn’t Breathe (gills) [0], 48 Extra Arms, extra-flexible +50%, weak, -50% [480], Injury Tolerance: No Head, No Neck [10], Night Vision/5 [5],Photographic Memory [10], Regrowth [40],Sonar [20], Unaging [15].

Disadvantages: Callous [-5], Cold Blooded [-10], Increased Life Support (massive) [-10], Intolerance (all non-Ardalians) [-10], No Legs (sessile) [-50], Selfish [-5], Truthfulness [-5].

* -80% for Size Modifier 8

**Due to Sessile.

September 2017

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