"Rosettes and Ribbons"

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Pelipenele is on her first trip as Dr. Edisse's xenoanthropology intern to the planet Aren, to a dig-site being unearthed by the passionate and intimidating Aera. Little does she know that her dull, easy translation assignment is going to be nothing of the sort...

When people talk to me about my work, it's almost always about the drama. But I am not without humor, and "Rosettes and Ribbons," one of my first published Pelted stories, is a comedy of errors complete with all the archetypes: scheming rake, wise old mentor, spurned lover and clever young girl. Years later, I still find it ridiculous, over the top and effective... and I must not have been the only one, because it was selected for the Best in Show anthology edited by Fred Patten in 2004, which was later reprinted as Furry! The World's Best Anthropomorphic Fiction.

     "Peli it is, then," Du'er said, handing her his bundle, "here are the stone strips we found in the digs."

     Peli unfolded one of the skins to peek at the thin, brittle slivers of stone with their scribbled markings; satisfied that they were in mostly good condition and that her assignment would be less trouble than she'd expected, she tied the bundle again and placed it gingerly on the floor beneath her work-table. "Thank you."

     "My pleasure. Particularly since it brought me to see you."

     Peli glanced at the lazy figure of the Aera male, puzzled. "Pardon?"

     "You're a jewel! I've never seen someone so striking. I don't suppose you'd pose for me?"

     The Seersa thinned her eyes in complete bafflement. "Pose...for you?"

     "I don't suppose your Dr. Edisse told you I'm a sculptor? You have a figure that begs for stone. Some of that nice, white stone near the sea-cliffs the Flait hate so, the powder-stone with the sensual crystals would be just perfect."

     She was speechless, for once in her life...and it wasn't just any life, but the life of a Seersa, the race that provided every premier linguist of the Alliance almost without exception, the Seersa who learned languages with all the facile ease of breathing, the Seersa who took it as a duty to have each of their number add at least five words to their native tongue in their lifetimes and encouraged citizens to add more, if they could. And Peli could find no words.

     "It would have to be in the nude, of course...such a figure! And the coloration! One would think you one of those barbarian Harat-Shar, except for that face. You have such a delicate nose, beautiful Peli, beautiful Seersa."

     Peli almost frothed in her desperate desire to force something out through her throat. What was this maniac talking about? Delicate nose? Beautiful figure? Her coloration? Surely he wasn't thinking that she could possibly be the subject for a work of art...the very idea was preposterous! She was Pelipenele...just Peli...not the next Maserinatericktal Kajentarel or Terran Venus de Milo!

I didn't have my current online art database until roughly 1999—three years after I wrote this story—so unsurprisingly there's no art directly relating to it online. And... that just won't do! So I went back and scanned the pieces that I originally finished to use as splash page and filler illos. Because of course, that was back in the day of B&W fanzines, and that's what you did with stories: one full-page piece of facing art, and a few extras, oddly-shaped, to fit the white space left over when you finished arranging the text blocks on the page.

Peli Reading / Admiration Peli and the Stone Strips Peli

You'll notice Peli has a muzzle in those two uploads... that's because this story was written before I revamped the Pelted visually to make their human origins clearer. That third piece of her, drawn three years later, is what I decided she looked like after the revamp... that's the one I used as a model when drawing the (unintentionally sexy!) cover. And yes, as you can see from the third sketch, I'd intended to make Peli a recurring character, having minor xenoanthropological disasters all over the Alliance... I just never got around to writing those next stories.

Fun note: I wrote "Rosettes" based on prompts I solicited from a group of friends on... was it Genesis? FurryMuck? Or maybe it was one of 's localMucks? I don't remember! But I was complaining that I wanted to write something and had no idea what, and said, "Rosettes!" and Mirage said, "Ribbons!" and I just took it from there. Funny what you can weave a story from if you've absolutely got your mind set on it...

Anyway, if you're into humor of the 'silly and cute' kind, then, I hope you try "Rosettes and Ribbons." You can also pick up my other stories in print and in e-book form, including many free and 99-cent nibbles, at Smashwords and Amazon. And as always, if you like what you read, please drop back by and give it a few stars or a review. Your opinions help other readers make their purchasing decisions! Help an independent author out. :)

© 2012 M. C. A. Hogarth