This is our first attempt at an audiovisual production. The video file is here:
Either within or without, it is hotly debated, the vast multitude of universes and existence possibilities, there is said to be a forest that exists in none of them, but it connects them all. At the back corner of this forest between is a café where certain folk gather and socialize, with no visible impact upon their life stories…well, for the most part. This place is the Cross Time Cafe
Their reasons and causes for being there vary as greatly as their number, but for a few, it is a respite from duties elsewhere. But ultimately, duty calls, and those bound to it must answer.
The first to answer this call is Lady Bethelynn the White Guardian, formerly a unicorn princess of the Blue Mountain Blessing, now the proprietress of the Café, along with her great-grandsire, White Pony,
[Picture of White Pony]
a seemingly merry and mischievous old stallion, content to live a happy-go-lucky lifestyle, in contrast to her serious tone of life. Indeed, one would not immediately recognize them as being related, aside from their white fur. For starters, while he was completely equine in form, she was anthropomorphic, half-human in fact, standing upright at 8 feet 6 inches. Her forelimbs were arms, ending in hands with two fingers and an opposing thumb. Further, her alicorn, the spiraled horn from which unicorns project their magic, was no more. Lady Beth had been the victim of a magical catastrophe that had left her in this half-human, half equine shape. The accident has cause her alicorn to melt, burning a distinctive scar on her forehead, leaving her with a reminder of what she believed was her guilt in this accident. No less embarrassing, her equine mammary glands, once abdominal and fairly flat, had become human mammary glands, thoracic and anything but flat, causing her to gain unwanted attention, mostly from males. It did not take her long to become familiar with the phrase “my eyes are up here, if you want to keep on living”.
[Lady Beth in the blue body suit]
No longer able to project magic through her missing alicorn, she uses a pair of bracelets of a shiny silvery metal, given to her by an arch-mage who taught her how utilize magic in her humanoid form. Thus, did she become a warrior-mage, a protector, the White Guardian. It is that duty that now summons her. Away from her respite as café proprietress, and back to her duties as a protector.
[Lady Beth in armor]
In one the basements of the Café, Lady Beth stands before an archway, seemingly leading straight into a blank wall. She commences an arcane ritual, and a trans-dimensional portal begins to form with the archway. If she had hoped to do this unnoticed, her hopes were futile, for it wasn’t long before she had a small audience watching her.
[PGA picture 1]
Turning to her audience, she issued a caution. “You have no experience here. Now Go!! If you follow me, I cannot guarantee your safety.”
A boldly striped royal tiger named TigerT spoke up. “I’d like to be of assistance, but I trust your abilities and judgement of risk. Still, wouldn’t it be more safe to take someone with you, than to go alone?”
A fairly leonine figure with stripes covering half his body named CatDude, who was also in the audience, climbed the stairway to stand beside her. “My lady, life has only one guarantee for me, that it will someday end. Much as I wish that day to be far in the future, the importance of life is not derived but its length, but the quality with which it is lived
You once asked us how brave we were, and I dared to say, “as brave as you need me to be.” Time for me put up.
On last thought before we enter. I do not come to follow or to lead. Be it your pleasure, please let me walk beside you.”
[PGA Picture 2]
Lady Beth gave a barely perceptible nod, saying “First…I will wait here. For one hour. For you to gather your equipment and survival supplies. If you are not here this portal is closed. Second…this is not a vacation. Or a date. Keep your emotions in check. I need you to help protect my arsh, not stare at it.”
A voice from the back of the room muttered “Apparently Lady Beth has to take on a speech impediment when using vulgar language!”
“Understood, Lady Beth!” Replied TigerT. He ran off immediately to gather what may be of help, returning after a couple of rushed minutes with with a medium sized backpack, filled with: a few bottles of water, some high density food bars, a one gallon lightweight pot, a first aid kit, a small tent, a pocket knife, a lighter and a towel.
“I got my sturdy cargo-pants and jacket too!” he grinned, wearing a belt with a folding spade attached to it.
Donning a basecap, he said “Okay. I think I’m ready to go.”
The Catdude busily donned his “Dragonscale” vest and trousers, muttering “That brand never let me down. Excellent protection with minimal sacrifice to agility.”
Then set about inventorying gear:
M-41 pulse rifle with grenade launcher, check
600 rounds ammo, 30 grenades, check
BlasTech DL-44 pistol, check. While I do subscribe to hokey religions and use ancient weapons, a blaster at your side is a still a good idea.
5 power packs, check
lightsaber, check. I’m a green blade myself.
adamantium dagger, check. Forged by dwarves, enchanted by elves, always have final backstop.
Runestone collection, check. Foolish mages may mock at runestone magic, until they run out of reagents and spell components.
Letterman multi-tool, check
multi-adaptive breathing mask, check. works underwater or in toxic gases.
first aid kit, check. It is as much for you as for me. Relying on magical healing is probablematic. I can receive healing magic from others, sadly, in my own usage, I can only heal myself.
500 meter para-cord, check
30 days energy rations, check
4 liters of water, check
a couple changes of underclothes and socks, check. Some lessons from mothers never do leave us.
Towel, check. Never leave home without one.
Strapping on his backpack, he met Lady Beth at the gate with two minutes to spare.–
“I know, cutting it close. Always did give my teacher anxiety that way.
My lady, about the last few things you said, I understand this is serious and I will conduct myself accordingly. I will keep my emotions in check as the Jedi have trained me to do. And I promise, I will keep my eyes where you need them.
Let us proceed.”
Catdude, offering a paw to TigerT for a pawbump, said “Well, mein guten Herren, I guess it’s pretty obvious who is the camper and who is the soldier in this motley crew of ours.”
TigerT, accepting the pawbump, replied “I’ll let you know I can wield a pretty mean folding spade, Mister.”
Catdude nodded “Glad to hear it, hopefully we won’t have to put it to use.
“ That brings back some RL memories from ROTC, Sgt. M ends class with “What is the spirit of the bayonette?” Class responds with “Kill! Kill! Kill!” Then I pipe up with “What is the spirit of the e-tool? Kill! Maim! Mutilate!” Class burst out laughing, Sgt. M is not amused, orders “Class dismissed” with a “get the hell out of here.” tone to his voice. As we walk back to barracks, Cadet Okie, big smile on his face, says, “____, sometimes you have one seriously demented imagination.” I respond by reminding him of “All Quiet on the Western Front” and the use of spades and entrenching-tools there. He nods and says I’m right.–
But back to our journey.
On a lighter note, it seems our group stands at three:
A lion, a tiger, and mare.
[PGA Picture 3]
Lady Beth casts a scornful look at the pair and says “Seriously?!”
“sigh” Alright …. T, you’re in charge of setting up base camp and food prep….. CD’s in charge of security. This should provide us with the best arrangement of our resources.
And gentlemen… if either of you become ill or injured – – tell me immediately. As long as you keep me alive, I’m the best first aid kit you’ll ever need. But I’ll warn you now… I have terrible bedside manners.
CatDude earnestly replied “My lady when I am thusly geared up and attired, rest assured, I am serious. Unless that was a commentary on my punnery.
I’m pretty certain your bedside manner can’t be any worse than that Andorian nurse on Sigma Lyra-d. I mean, when does a shrapnel wound to the shoulder require a…umm…uhh, never mind.
By your command, I assume camp security and rearguard on the road.
And my lady, I apologize if an earlier remark I made sounded like I was making light of coming events.”
He ponders….CD? haven’t been called that since………
TigerT grinned and said “I agree – hope we don’t need the spade!”
You’ll have to excuse us Beth, but I guess puns are one thing you’ll have to bear when we travel together. 😉
(I’ll try to keep it down)
Camp and Food. Check.
It is better to stay in good health anyway, but I’m glad we have you around if that option isn’t available.
But now I’d say: Let’s not waste any more precious time.
TigerT clicked his heels together and followed Beth onto the portal stairs.
A noble cheetah-lioness, Mooncat, waved from the sidelines. “Have fun storming the castle…or whatever.”
McClaw, a white tiger in the audience, offered Beth a small device.
“I have duties here, but activating that should generate a signal I can home in on. And if there isn’t too much interference, it’ll act as a transceiver so you can request special equipment or resupply, too.”
A grey Chakat, Kryslin, also waved at the trio. “As much as I’d like to join in, I can’t, for various reasons. Have fun storming the Castle!”
[PGA Picture 4]
Just as they were about to enter, Lady Beth turned to the pair and spoke. “There’s one more thing I should forewarn you about. Unless we’re in any danger – I prefer to sleep in the nude. This armor is not very comfortable.
But if this makes either of you uncomfortable, then I will continue to wear my armor for sleep.”
TigerT blushed deeply, and muttered “We.. We’re all adults here.
So.. I guess we can ignore this.
No need for you to be uncomfortable. Right, CD?”
CatDude responded “Dragonscale* is not comfortable to sleep in either. So however you sleep is how you sleep. My armor is also coming off at night. But if it’s all the same to you, I’m keeping my shorts on while I sleep. I know, a silly human modesty some have said I should discard, but having so much of my humanity stolen…
Also, I have been told I snore like a chainsaw, so I won’t be offended if either of you don earplugs. Although, if we’re are sleeping on the ground instead of bed, it won’t be an issue, the snoring only occurs in a bed, if I end up on my back. Maybe that’s why most complaints occur when I snooze on a chaise lounge or an easy chair.”
A note from your humble narrator: * Dragonscale is not to be confused with the controversial failure called Dragon Skin. While superficially similar in appearance, Dragonscale was created three centuries later when the necessary nanotech needed to make it work came about.
“No problem there, CD.”, said Tiger_T “I’m sure I have a pair of earplugs somewhere in my pants’ pockets. As a half-cat you can always say you’re just purring. I too usually go with shorts for sleep. *shrugs*
The Catdude thanked his friends for the well wishes and then climbed the stairwell to stand at Beth’s side. “Well, my lady, it truly seems to be just the three of us. Let’s go forth.” Tiger_t also gave his thanks and joined the pair at the gate.
[PGA Picture 5]
Before stepping through the gateway, Lady Beth gave one last caution, “I hope nither of you are afraid of heights. Where we’re going—one wrong step…and you’re bye-bye.”
NOTE from your Narrator: yes, the word “nither” is a word. It’s a Scottish dialectal variant of the word, “neither.”
“Not to worry, my lady, I do not fear heights that will kill me. It’s the heights that will merely injure me that annoy me, because if it happens, then it is time wasted healing the injuries.” Said CatDude, “Hey Tig, is it wrong of me to be amused that Lady Beth is worried about a pair of felines having height anxiety?
“It’s a valid concern, I guess.” Said Tiger_T, “I do not fear heights. I just have a healthy respect for them. I think of that as a good thing as it keeps me alert in situations where they matter. Although.. My hope is that we won’t need to climb any vertical mountain-sides, even if I do have inbuilt spikes to help keep my grip.”
“At least we always land on our feet.” Said CatDude with a chuckle.
End of Episode One