Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Power Thief: Prose, first four pages

This is how I see my fantasy epic as prose. I wrote this as a part of a competition to write the first four pages of a novel, so this will end at an obscure point. My intention is to make it a parody, so this piece is more representative of the vision I originally created. “Issues” are what I am calling chapters.

    Prologue

The stars; every life-form, planet and celestial body’s fate is tied to them. Ultimately, they are the agents of our destiny. So few consider this in the course of their lives, and yet the dull and ignorant are as much a part of the great celestial ballet as the philosophers and astronomers who contemplate their place within it.
(Does that sound grandiose to you, or just predictable? I don’t want to sound like I’m churning out something hackneyed simply to draw you in. Oh OK, I’ll just get on with it.)
Nowhere in this universe or any other does a world’s history owe more to the stars than the world of Aurah. Outwardly it is little different from our own world; blue and green with ice caps at the poles, white clouds girdling the atmosphere and a single, barren moon.
However, in the night sky of this world is a large, bright star, with a peculiar greenish hue. This is Theta Proxima, the Forest Star, 200 light years away from the Aurah system. Every so often its surface flares, sending bursts of radiation winging towards Aurah. And when the flares reach Aurah, life on its surface changes in the most extraordinary way…
(Shall I go on and explain how? Nah, you’re right. No point wasting a chance to develop the plot. Just read on and find out for yourselves.)

    Issue 1

The fifty-storey Buckson Building was an apartment block overlooking the eastern end of Midgreen Park. Across the park, the Grevy Building and the great central column of Exchange Towers thrust high above the rooftops of Havenburg, tallest and grandest city on Aurah. Its night time skyline was a view that could have the city council lobbying to change what distance a mile is, just so it could be called mile-high.
On floor 42 of the Buckson Building, a couple took advantage of their children being asleep by catching up with their favourite TV show. Little did they know that in a shadowy alcove outside their window, Havenburg’s most diligent protector was taking a rest.
Kay Pow was her name, and she was dressed in a black dojo robe with voluminous sleeves and leggings. Her head was concealed in a black cowl that covered all but her ears and eyes. A dark pink belt sat round her waist, holding the equipment she needed to fight crime.
As she waited, Kay caught some of what was coming from the nearby flat.
“It’s baddie-busting and crook-catching all the way tonight on… Supers!”
She heard a clang as the title exploded on screen, then the oh-so-familiar theme song.
“Crims and super-crims, think I better warn ya,
Supers gonna getcha just as sure as you’re born.”
Kay sighed to herself. Got to see if there’s a way to get myself on that show, she thought. Then the one who does all the work will get the credit.
A scuffle far below in a side street interrupted her contemplations. Kay whipped out her field glasses and studied the scene. It was time for action.
Putting the glasses back in her belt, she mentally calculated distances and angles, crouched low and leapt into the air. Her apparently suicidal fall was checked as gliding wings sprang up between her legs and arms. A rudder snapped open at the tip of her tail, allowing her to manoeuvre herself towards where the fight was taking place.
Too bad I was born a red squirrel rather than a flying squirrel, she thought. Still, either way, I don’t mind heights.

Meanwhile, half a mile away, the staff of the Havenburg Gem Exchange cowered in the corner of their office as a masked raccoon covered them with a shotgun. His three followers had shouldered their own guns and were working industriously, opening the strongboxes set into the wall and emptying their contents into the sacks they carried.
“One minute!” the leader bawled at the others. “No, you klutzes, leave the diamonds! Get the coloured stones, that’s where the real moolah is.”
One raccoon dutifully started unlocking the top row of strongboxes with the keys he had forced off the secretary. This did not go unnoticed by the young rabbit herself.
“Mr Fisher, they know where the coloured gems are,” she whispered to her manager.
“I know, Melanie,” muttered the old otter. “They must have inside information.”
“Shut it!” screamed the leader, waving his gun at them. “Thirty seconds! ‘Cmon, hurry, you lame-brains! They’re gonna find out that guard’s dead any moment.”
“Oh, ah don’t think y’need worry ‘bout the guards,” a deep voice drawled from the door of the office, “’S much as me.”
The four thieves spun round and saw a sight that made them wish they had been florists instead, or at least packed spare underwear. Leaning against the doorframe with arms folded, was a chestnut horse with a yellow mane, so tall and broad he looked like he would cause an eclipse if he went out in daylight. He wore a broad-brimmed hat, a brown eye-mask and baggy trousers. His tasselled buckskin waistcoat hung open, showing off a torso that would have doubled nicely as a cheese-grater.
“I-it’s Showdown!” stammered one of the gang.
“Blast him, blast him!” the leader yelled desperately.
The thieves raised their weapons to fire, but the horse merely straightened up and threw four punches in the space of a heartbeat. The air shuddered and the thieves stared helplessly as the shotguns exploded in their hands like firecrackers.
“Don’t ya know it’s dangerous to play with guns, boys?” the horse said sardonically.

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The Power Thief: Comic Book Script

This is my first attempt at writing a comic book script, for a fantasy epic I’ve been planning for a long time. I’m not sure whether to make it prose or a comic book, so hopefully this showcase will allow others to compare the two.

    Kay Pow
    Volume 1
    The Power Thief
    Script by Architect of Aurah

Note: May have map of the city of Havenburg on endpaper or after title page. Use soft pastel shades, colour in various districts and pick out landmarks with dots or small pictures. No need to focus on picking out streets, railway lines or public transport. Use sketch of Havenburg map in notes for reference point, likewise on page 1.

    Page 1

Frame 1: Standard-size frame in top-left.
Bird’s eye view of Havenburg from the south. City is too high up to see with clarity; pick out using lights from skyscrapers and bridges. Most of land in darkness. Sea and river mouth will be recognisable from dappled light reflected on surface. Night-time aerial photos of NYC will be good reference point.
In the foreground, a small, sea-green aircraft approaches Havenburg from the southwest, aiming for the city centre. A slanted brown letter F inside a circle can be seen near the tail. Aircraft is shaped a lot like a WWII bomber, with a long body and a glass viewing port at the front of the fuselage (ref. Lancaster or Heinkel). However, a large fan-jet engine rests at the tip of each wing; this is a jet-powered convertiplane, capable of vertical take-off and landing.
Caption: Havenburg, one of the greatest cities on the world of Aurah. Some say it’s the greatest.

Frame 2: Standard-size frame in top-right.
Another bird’s eye shot of the city, this one closer in. Central to picture is Midgreen Island; the hub of Havenburg City. Criss-crossed by a grid of streets and swarming with high-rises, it curves round the coast, including the peninsula of Headland City to the north, to which it is linked by Headland Rail Bridge. Largest buildings are the twin, golden yellow Exchange Towers and the black-and-white vertically striped Grevy Building in the western corner of the island; all can be found on reference map. The much smaller Ingress Island, with its old immigration office and the statue Blessed Freedom Belle (see next frame), is just to the south.
Aeroplane from Frame 1 now gliding low just over the western tip of Midgreen Island. Smaller and no longer in the foreground, its turbines are now tilting so the intakes point upwards and its nose is slightly raised. It looks like it means to land.
Caption: A city much the same as one you would find in your world…

Frame 3: Predominant frame; three fifths to two thirds the height of the page, with Frame 4 cut out of the bottom right (see below).
Switch to worm’s eye view from the western tip of Ingress Island. We are looking up at the Blessed Freedom Belle statue; golden yellow, possibly gilt. Statue is of an anthropomorphic mare holding her head and arms high, her mane flying in the breeze, her expression confident and triumphant. She wears a short, ragged dress, suggesting she may have been a slave, yet she also has manacles on her wrist which dangle chains that are now broken. The overall message is of freedom against all odds.
Behind statue on same island is the old customs office (ref. similar to Ellis Island). Further behind are the high-rises of Havenburg, across the water on Midgreen Island. Green tilt-turbine plane can be seen over the skyline, its turbines now fully vertical as it dips towards an unseen landing pad.
Caption: And yet not the same.

Frame 4: Standard-size frame, higher than it is wide.
Another worm’s eye view, this time on street level, near the Grevy Building. In foreground, we see the entrance to a Havenburg underground station. Two commuters walk in opposite directions; beaver in raincoat with newspaper under his arm going up the stairs, similarly dressed red deer going down. Sign above is a small red arch reading “Air Train”. Beneath that a black sign with white lettering announces this is “Grevy Building Westway”. Pink and blue dots denote that the Sussea and Burgwall lines run through the station.
The Grevy Building stands in the background, reaching impressively into the night sky. It vaguely resembles the Empire State Building, but is white with black stripes rather than grey. Lit windows break up the black stripes. The top has a spire, yet we can just see it is surrounded by statues and gables such as one might see on a Roman-style portico.
Caption: It is a city that inspires fascination all over Aurah. Yet it is not the city’s impressive buildings, financial heart, thrilling nightlife or infectious culture that most draws in visitors and new residents alike…

    Page 2

Frame 1: Wide, tall frame occupying top quarter or third of the page. Bird’s eye view from around the top of the Grevy Building. Vertigo-inducing sight of the grid of streets and buildings below. Trees line many streets and window-boxes are common in apartment blocks. We can just see that some of the streets have sunken steel lanes along which yellow electrical vehicles, much like NY taxis, run. These are Havenburg’s auto-taxis.
Closer view of the statues at the top of the Grevy Building. These include statues of both ordinary and anthropomorphic animals of various kinds. Those that are bipedal are like Greco-Roman or Renaissance statues; dressed, if at all, in robes or togas and with impressive physiques.
Kay Pow crouches among the statues. She is an anthropomorphic red squirrel dressed in what looks like a black dojo robe, with a light purple trim and belt. She has a wrap concealing the top of her face (eye holes included, natch) and the crown of her head. Her tall ears protrude from it, one of which she has her finger in, as if she is listening to an earpiece. Her expression is business-like.
Caption: It is the supers.
Kay Pow: Beats, what have you got for me?

Frame 2: First in row of standard-size frames. Interior of a room with patches of deep blue lighting and shadows in the corner. Décor is mostly office-like panelling.
In foreground sits Beats, a young male fennec fox wearing a thick green wrap-around visor and a high-tech metal suit covered in glowing buttons. Light red jacket covers part of this suit. Wears boots and leggings that also appear metallic. Red and green stripes mark his cheeks just below the eyes. His expression appears focussed, but a smile plays about his mouth.
Beats sits at a desk on which sits a thin, tablet-like computer screen, suspended from a thin metal frame. Green glow from the surface of the desk and his poised fingers suggest the keypad is built into the desk itself. A microphone and earphones complete the setup.
Beats: This could be our lucky night, Kay! Something bad’s going down!

Frame 3: Rear bird’s eye view from just behind Beats’ head. We can now see that there are indeed keyboard buttons built into the desk’s surface; fluorescent green on a glassy black background. Beats’ fingers work feverishly as he types in commands. Screen shows a set of green gridlines and grey dots; presumably a map that tracks individuals much like radar.
Kay’s voice sounds in Beats’ earpiece; jagged speech bubble.
Kay Pow: Location?
Beats: ‘S just east of here, around 51st and Fisher. Looks like the fur’s about to fly!

Frame 4: Close-up of the computer screen. Beats has zoomed in on one particular corner. Large clusters of dots in the streets indicate that two sizeable groups of “people” are about to converge around the corner.
Menu commands stand out on the edges of the screen; red so they stand out. Beats’ finger reaches up to touch the command “Visual”.
Kay Pow (V.O., jagged): You reckon it’s the Herders and the Busters at each other’s throats again?
Beats (V.O.): Gimme a sec and I’ll tell ya…

Frame 5: Next line of frames. Foot-height view of Kay among the statues on the Grevy Building. She still has her finger in her ear, but now she has drawn herself up to her full height and her expression appears set and purposeful. She’s getting ready for action.
Beats (in ear, jagged): Ye-es! Right on the money! We got ourselves a gang war brewing up, Honey-Pup!
Kay Pow: Thanks, Beats. I’m on my way.

Frame 6: Another disconcerting bird’s-eye view as Kay walks to the edge of the building and stands spread-eagled, knees slightly bent, ready to dive. We get a view of the street far below; make everything look as diminutive as possible to impose a sense of scale.
Beats (in ear, jagged): Be careful, won’t you Kay? Those gangs don’t like pretenders muscling in on their business…
Kay Pow: I’ll be fine, Beats. Just stay on com. Out.

Frame 7: Spectacular view, slightly below and to the side, as Kay leaps into space. Arms are spread and body is arched backward, much like a champion high-diver. Use the lights of the city to pick out the outline of her costume against the night sky.

Frame 8: Side-on view roughly a second later. Kay has straightened up as she plunges towards the ground, body almost parallel to the side of the building.
In the background we can see an immense billboard, showing a tough-looking brown horse throwing a punch at the air, standing atop a pile of rubble. Horse is dressed like a cowboy; green hat and eye mask, brown buckskin waistcoat with tassels, baggy blue jeans, green spiky boots. Waistcoat hangs open to reveal the impressive muscles of the horse’s torso, while his nearer arm is curled in order to show off a massive bicep.
Caption on billboard says, in chunky writing; Supers, every Donnersday at 10pm, Need we say more?
Kay Pow (thought bubble): I just hope this one gets their attention…

    Page 3

Frame1: First of three frames in a row. Bird’s eye view from above the Grevy Building. Streets below and the skyscraper with billboard can both be seen. Kay is just visible in the light emanating from the tower.
Caption: There are many degrees of fame. All professions contain both the ordinary and the extraordinary. The world of Aurah’s supers is no exception.

Frame 2: Worm’s eye view from the base of the tower. Kay is just a speck against the tower far above, although she has now fallen a little further. Beaver commuter in raincoat has unfolded his newspaper and is reading from it. He is smiling and appears distracted, unaware of Kay far above him. Paper is called the Havenburg Herald. Headline reads “Snowstorm Smashes Anthro Trafficking Ring”.
Caption: Those individuals whom fate has blessed with great powers enjoy the exposure and adulation that the average citizen envies…

Frame 3: Thinner frame than first two. Close-up worm’s eye view of Kay as she plummets downwards, ears and costume flying behind her, expression set. Her right hand holds a button attached to a cable, previously concealed inside her voluminous sleeve. Her thumb presses it as she falls.
Sound effect: Click
Caption: While those whose abilities are merely the result of hard work and nurture struggle to gain the acceptance they deserve.

Frame 4: First of two parallel frames. Side view from midway up tower, with streets visible below. Kay’s seemingly suicidal plunge is checked as rounded black gliding wings, supported by thin struts, spring open at her sides. (Wing suit or flying squirrel good reference guide.) A small rudder opens over her tail to help her steer.
Sound effect: Snap!
Caption: Yet they remain undaunted in their quest to vanquish the evils of their world…

Frame 5: Back to worm’s eye view of the Grevy Building. The beaver in the raincoat is now looking up from his paper, apparently registering a sudden change. High above, Kay is now gliding out of sight along the side of the Grevy Building, heading towards the right side of the frame. Lines trace her movement.
Caption: Risking everything in the pursuit of justice…

Frame 6: Inset to frame 7. Bird’s eye view of the beaver, now having turned around and looked upwards. He looks baffled; it seems Kay was something he thought he saw or heard above him, but is about to shrug off.
Caption: Even if the world at large barely registers their efforts.

Frame 7: Bird’s eye view of the top of a high-rise building, upon which an impressive, red-brick penthouse suite has been built (ref. German architecture, particularly mansions). There is a landing pad to the right of it, upon which the sea-green plane from page 1 has alighted. Its turbines are still vertical. Brown F symbol is now much clearer. Two men in suits, probably guards, are keeping watch over the door leading off the landing area.
Caption: At the same time, a little further south…
Voice bubble (from inside penthouse): Gentle-beasts, I have assembled you here for a singular issue that affects us all.

    Page 4

Frame 1: Covers whole top half of page. Various male animal characters in expensive suits sit on either side of a spacious conference room. Each holds paperwork and has a briefcase nearby. Faces are in shadow, but their expressions are clearly either scowling or cold; unscrupulous activities must be afoot. All the fittings in the room look expensive, including the French windows at the head of the room and the desk in front of them. Carpet is the same shade of green as a US dollar bill, with the now-familiar F-in-circle symbol on it.
At the desk, a broad-shouldered figure with large, pointed canine ears sits silhouetted against the light from the windows. He leans forward out of a large leather swivel chair and a fat cigar burns between the fingers of his right hand. Behind and to his right stands the silhouette of the mystery “man’s” bodyguard. He is a formidable figure, very tall and muscular, with thick, shaggy fur. A break in the fur over the shoulders suggests he is wearing a singlet with wide shoulder pad. His head is rounded and his ears are short and flat.
Mystery “man”: For decades, our activities have been hampered by one force that, while fallible, has nonetheless stiffened citizens’ upper muzzles in their quest to rid Aurah of us. I am, of course, referring to…

Frame 2: Inset to Frame 3. Extreme close-up of the speaker’s eyes. They are pressed to slits, burning with hatred and bitter ambition. The speaker is meant to be a jackal, but has dark reddish-brown fur, almost like a fox.
Mysterious jackal: …the supers.

Frame 3: Rear view of the speaker’s chair, from which we can see the top of the desk, the shadow-shrouded room and the mysterious jackal’s guests. Speaker’s left elbow rests on the desk, clad in a beige jacket sleeve. A meaty brown-furred hand holds a large photograph of a super; an enormous, muscular polar bear in a form-fitting sky blue costume with purple boots and gloves. A purple wrap covers the bear’s head and purple shoulder pads studded with jagged ice crystals complete the costume. Polar bear has his jaws open and is belching out a cloud of super-chilled vapour at an unseen enemy.
Jackal: Gentle-beasts, I have called you here to brief you with details, or as many details as I can trust you with, of a scheme that I am about to execute. What is this scheme? Well, since I have no love of lengthy speeches…

Frame 4: A near-copy of Frame 3, only now the mysterious jackal has pressed the burning tip of his cigar to the face of the polar bear in the photograph. Smoke rises up as the cigar burns through the super’s face.
Sound effect: SSSSSSSS (Make lettering curl like smoke)
Jackal: …I think this will illustrate my point quite clearly.

Play On Words Tweets

I considered these tweet stories at first, but they’re more like puns. I hope you enjoy them all the same.

D’Artagnan was planning strategy with his three comrades. He pointed to a map and told them, “We must get here!”

I once knew a golden eagle who was also a devout Christian. He often went to his local field mouse church to prey.

Tweet Story 2

Think I have a good thing going in these tweet stories. I’ll try and put one in once a week, or at least once a fortnight. It won’t interrupt my regular writing. Here’s my second one…

Enough is enough. I’m taking my boss to court over sexist discrimination. Men have feelings too, you know.

Tweet Story

My writing club once challenged its members to write a story that took up no more characters than a Tweet would on Twitter. See if you like my effort.

What is this thing called life? I wish I’d known when I had one.

What do you think it means? I’d love to have your comments.

Forbidden Fantasies

Another entry for a competition.  Didn’t win sadly, but was highly commended.  I hope you enjoy it.

In a south-eastern district of Argentria, largest and grandest of cities on the mystical world of Terramere and home to virtually all its sentient races, a dead body lay in an alleyway.

The sight of it sickened UDC Meadowsweet Gypsum of Argentria’s Maleficence Investigation Department as she stepped through the police cordon.  She hated murder scenes where the victim was one of her own kind.  This was a particularly brutal killing too, with the chest gashed open and blood pooled beneath the torso.  Her partner HDI Brendan Phillips, sitting on her back, sensed her distress and tousled her mane reassuringly.

“What have you discovered so far, Thralwynd?” Phillips asked as he dismounted.

“The victim’s name was Daisy Lazuli,” forensic specialist Thralwynd said laconically, pointing to an identity brass on the collar around the victim’s withers.  “Cause of death; horn wound to the chest.  Temperature crystal readings suggest she died about three hours ago.”

“What about aura readings?” Phillips continued.

Thralwynd slipped a transparent crystal shard out of his white coat.  Colourful patterns danced within its depths.

“Prior to the expected terror and dismay, the aura crystal senses great joy,” the elf reported.  “There’s a little remorse, yet primarily passion and hope.  Furthermore, there’s recognition.  I’ll bet young Daisy knew her killer.”

“Look at this,” Gypsum said, leaning forward.

She pointed her horn to
another brass on the victim’s collar.

“That’s St Cedar of Varnisi,” Gypsum told him.  “She must have been a Ceratist.”

A new presence in the alleyway caused Gypsum to look up.  Her heart sank as DDC Broadwing Son of Starflame lumbered through the cordon, his partner HDS Camilla Blunt sitting astride him.

“Ew, what a goblin’s breakfast!” said Blunt, dismounting from her partner.

“Ah, capital, dinner is served,” Broadwing chuckled sardonically, licking his fangs with a long forked tongue as he eyed the corpse.

Gypsum and Phillips bristled angrily.  They knew it was a joke.  Intelligent forest dragons such as Broadwing had never hunted unicorns, unlike their larger wild cousins.  Still, it was a hurtful thing to say in the circumstances.

Argentria MID employed most of the city’s intelligent races, but quadrupeds such as unicorns, dragons and gryphons were partnered with humans, elves or dwarves, who would accomplish any tasks that required hands.  Partnerships were arranged between officers who shared each other’s characteristics.  Gypsum and Phillips were certainly alike in the fact that they were as diplomatic as Broadwing and Blunt were provocative.

“We’ve begun a house-to-house in the area, sir,” Blunt told Phillips.  “It turns out Daisy came this way quite a lot.  Apparently she was getting hitched to some young stallion that lived just east of here.”

“If that’s true,” said Thralwynd, as he crouched next to Daisy’s body, “He wouldn’t have liked to have seen this.”

He removed a piece of parchment from Daisy’s collar with a pair of tweezers, to show to the others.  Everyone gasped.

“Gods almighty,” Broadwing rumbled.  “If she was shagging him, when she was a Ceratist, of all things…”

“This individual may either be our prime suspect or the next victim,” Phillips said grimly.  “Either way, we need to find him and question him.  Blunt, Broadwing, contact HQ and get everyone searching.”

“Don’t sweat, guvnor,” Blunt nodded, climbing back onto Broadwing’s back.  “We’re on it like big ears on an elf.”

“Hey!” yelled Thralwynd indignantly.

“It’s a hard fact mate.  Deal with it,” quipped Broadwing, before beating his wings and flying away.

“Thralwynd, continue your work and keep me updated,” ordered Phillips.  “Meanwhile, Gypsum and I will inform the victim’s family.  Hopefully they’ll able to answer some questions too.”

He got back on Gypsum’s back and they trotted off.

“Are you alright, Brendan?” Gypsum asked.  “I’m only thinking, well…  Daisy was like you, wasn’t she?”

“I’m fine, thanks Meadowsweet,” said Phillips.  Yet Gypsum wasn’t wholly convinced he was.

 

When they broke the tragic news of Daisy’s death to her parents, Mrs Chrysanthemum Lazuli was inconsolable and had to retire to her room.  Daisy’s father Sycamore, however, was self-controlled enough to fight back his tears and answer Phillips’ questions.

“Where was Daisy going this evening?” Phillips began.

“To visit young Medlar Bloodstone,” replied Sycamore.  “Our families were arranging a betrothal between them.  We’re devout Ceratist families, you see.  We keep it in the blood.”

“Did Daisy often visit Medlar?”

“Once or twice a week,” Sycamore told him, “At least according to Medlar.  His parents say Daisy didn’t always stay long.”

So Daisy might have seen her real lover around seeing him, Gypsum thought.

While Phillips continued questioning Daisy’s father, Gypsum examined Daisy’s old bedroom.  She also examined her brother Poplar’s room, who was away at Scripture Camp.  Both rooms contained Ceratist pictures and figurines, but Poplar had significantly more of them and seemed by far the most devout of the siblings.

 

Once they were finished at the Lazuli household, Phillips and Gypsum went to inform Medlar Bloodstone and his parents of Daisy’s death.  They were almost as devastated as the Lazulis.  Indeed, Medlar wept bitter tears.

“It’s unbelievable she could be dead,” he sobbed.  “I had such hopes for our future.  I was being fitted for wedding robes at the tailor’s only this afternoon.”

That means Medlar could have left with enough time to head Daisy off on the way home and murdered her, Gypsum considered inwardly.  I’d better check his alibi and how much he really knows about her.

Gypsum told neither the Lazulis nor the Bloodstones about the sheaf of parchment Thralwynd had found inside Daisy’s collar, showing a sketch of Daisy’s lover.  The inscription on it drifted across her mind’s eye as she left the Bloodstones’ apartment.

To Daisy, Eternally yours, Hoarcrest xx

Learning of Daisy’s death had been heart-breaking enough for both families.  Discovering the secret she had kept from them at the same time would have been unbearable.

 

Later that night, Hoarcrest Son of Sealbane sat alone on a hill in the middle of Manticore Park.  Looking north, he could see the whole skyline of Argentria from here.  Lights shone from the windows of a thousand towers and spires.

Why was he feeling so guilty about Daisy’s death?  Society was to blame, not him.  All he had done was love.  Now the dreams he and Daisy had built together were shattered and he had to find solace if he could.

Suddenly, there was an explosion of noise as a young male unicorn burst out of the copse just to Hoarcrest’s right, with his horn aimed at the ice dragon’s neck.

“Die, abomination!” screamed the unicorn.

But before Hoarcrest’s attacker could reach him, there was a great rush of air.  The killer was bowled off his hooves and thrown to the ground.  DDC Broadwing, with HDS Blunt on his back, had swooped down and caught Hoarcrest’s would-be murderer in the nick of time.  Now the young stallion struggled vainly to free himself from Broadwing’s powerful talons.

“’Evening, Mr Hoarcrest,” grinned Blunt, nodding a greeting.  “Just as well we found you in time, eh?  Poplar Lazuli here was none too happy when he found out an H.B. ice dragon was banging his sister.  That’s why he bunked off Scripture Camp and came back to Argentria; to bump Daisy off and then do you.”

H.B.’s.  Heterobestials.  Sentient beings who had emotional and physical relationships with other species.  For centuries Argentrian society had judged this practice blasphemous and immoral, even though both partners could give informed consent.  Despite recent changes in the law many faiths, including Ceratism, still looked upon heterobestiality with disdain.

“Poplar?” Hoarcrest cried in disbelief.  “You killed your own sister?”

“No, you did, filth,” shrieked Poplar.  “You corrupted her with your false passion and your honeyed blasphemy.  Daisy was unfit to live once you had desecrated and ruined her!”

“Save it for the judge, tusk head,” Broadwing snarled in his ear.  “You’re nicked!”

 

The following evening, Gypsum was making her way out of MID headquarters when she ran into Broadwing.

“Alright, Meadowsweet,” he grinned.  “Camilla and I were meeting up at The Centaur and Groom to celebrate the bust.  Wanna come?”

Gypsum considered a moment.  “I’ll go if Brendan’s going,” she said.

“Guess it’s a no, then,” Broadwing shrugged.  “Phillips went home early for a hot beef sandwich.”

“Alright.”

“And then he’s going to have supper.”

“Broadwing, really!” cried Gypsum.

“I know H.B.’s aren’t evil,” said Broadwing as they left the building.  “I just don’t get ‘em, that’s all.  I can’t imagine porking anything but a dragon, whereas Daisy gets off with this Hoarcrest bloke, while Phillips only goes and falls for a minotaur.  Why would a human want a missus who could crush him if she rolled over in her sleep?  What’s the attraction?”

“I can’t say,” Gypsum replied.  “But then everyone’s different, aren’t they?”

“True,” smiled Broadwing.

The detectives bade each other good night, then set off in opposite directions, trotting or gliding along the streets of the city they had sworn to protect; so beautiful, yet sometimes so unforgiving.