"Fruits of Redemption": The Inside Track....

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At the end of the insider page for "Cold Reception" I told you that you'd need to read BOTH sets of stories because they'd eventually join together from a narrative perspective. Well, in light of that, and as a way of showing that the reader who notices details here in rewarded (grin), there's a little puzzle here for you. For the next few stories, there will be "baubles" -- little verbal or visual similarities that allude back to the prior story. So in other words, here in Shrike Team #1, you will find "baubles" that refer back to Range Patrol #1. I'll tell you for now that there are just two of them....and I'll tell you what they are in the insider page for Range Patrol #2.

Some background on the characters in general first....

Range Patrol was a concept and character set that I invented in 2006 when I first picked up the pencils again. Shrike Team, however, is another story. Brom, Felicity, Eidolon and Von Lucre go back to characters and stories I first invented back in the 1980s, and they were all much different back then. Brom was originally a bird called a "peppershrike" -- all that remains of that incarnation is his name ("Shriker"), the peculiar red band on his eyes (a characteristic of peppershrike, but not raccoons of our world!), and the name of his sister (Pepper). Felicity was still a sheep, but she was the size of a Tilkrig. Von Lucre was a pig -- I didn't have any conception of the Tilkrig back then, either. Eidolon was a slightly later creation, but was still done in the 80s; I conceived of him as a bird, and all that remains of that is the name of his race (Av'nen, which derives from "avian" in my imagination). Range Patrol concepts have helped remold the original story, and the whole RP series has been dovetailed into the older ST concepts. (Even Brom's athlete friend Jake Lendri goes back to an earlier incarnation, though not the one farthest back, 20 years ago, but a revised version from 15 years ago.)

The character of Eidolon is a tragic one, and something of a response to the convenience that makes some of these immortal being characters out there just happen to look like they're imposingly immortal. Before he became immortal, Eidolon was just an everyday joe, and that's what he looks like -- just a typical schlep who would otherwise be watching sports on the televisor if he hadn't happened to do the wrong thing one day. Why should he be imposingly perfect just because he can't be killed? He's not -- he knows he has an important role to play, and experience has honed him into the prophet figure that he is. But underneath all of that imposition there lies a sensitive heart with just as much weakness as any other sentient of the flesh -- and we'll see to what extent that goes starting in Shrike Team #3.

Page 7 offers an illustration of the sort of mishap I expect we would see now and then on a world populated by several highly diverse races. Undoubtedly a medical worker would require a great deal of extra training to keep up with the proper vital signs of each race. And then of course there's the matter of accommodating things like the different sized tails, noses, and ears....arguably, in a world like this, it became easier rather than harder to appreciate diversity!

If you take the trouble to translate the Wingdings (page 9) you'll find that all except for Chi Chi's initial greeting can be back-translated into something in English, but none of it is required to understand the story, and only one Chet'lyn saying contains anything extraordinary...a little touch of humor, as it were, can be found in what Chi Chi says on page 14.

Page 10: The oldest part of the story is the page where Brom gets beaned by the plant. I built the rest of it around that scene well over 20 years ago back when Brom was still a bird and not a raccoon/Prycene. The hardest plot mechanism to work out was getting the selalighi's fruit in Brom's hands. The idea evolved over the past 20 years or so from him being a boorish sort who ate the fruit after getting beaned, as a sort of snide retort to Felicity; to him having a couple of pieces of "normal" fruit in his pockets he just happened to have for lunch, and getting them mixed up; to the current idea of the fruit basket as a gift from Von Lucre. The irony is far stronger now and also serves to emphasize Von Lucre's egotistical pettiness.

The giant robot was, in the first incarnation, a strong henchman of Von Lucre's. That needed to go because it begged the obvious question, "Why doesn't he just have his own guy enter the athletic contest?" Having the robot supplied by the Cartel is of course a newer element.

Eidolon originally wasn't part of the tale back then, either. As the story evolved he first appeared at the midway point of the larger story (in what would now be late in Shrike Team #2, after the Von Lucre issue was resolved). Putting him in from the very start is another step in how the story has changed.

Having the Tilkrig girl come to Brom at the end (page 21) was a last minute change, a good one, I think, that allowed for further insight into Von Lucre's treatment of those he held in subjection. I was originally going to have the Chet'lyn go find Brom, but that left it open for them to volunteer to be on the rescue mission with or without Brom's consent or advice. It's also not the last we'll see of the Tilkrig girl; she'll be back for an interlude in Shrike Team #2.

The Recommended Next Read is Range Patrol #2 -- it's tempting to try to resolve the cliffhanger, I know...but there will be more of them, so it won't make any difference (heh heh!).