White Shadow 'Disappointed' Short Story
"HYAAAAH!" she cried as she flew towards him. Her opponent broke to her left, the taser tip of her baton coming tantalizingly close but missing its mark. She looked back over her shoulder just in time see her opponent return her advances in kind. He opened with a straight thrust which she quickly deflected to one side. Then he tried a feint-thrust combination on her now exposed flank, but she effortlessly swatted it away with the back of her hand. She wasn't falling for a rookie trick like that. Not today!
Flicking her wrist with practiced ease, she snapped the free end of the baton into her other hand. As the electric arc still flared from its tip mere centimeters from her grasp, she braced herself to parry her opponent's signature attack. The wind whistled to her as his blade sliced the air viciously, tracing a path directly toward the top of her head. A grunt formed somewhere deep down within her abdomen, escaping her throat as his sword came crashing down onto her baton.
Just as she had planned it would.
She screamed wordlessly as she marshaled her ki and pushed off as hard as she could with both hands. Letting go of the taser end, she twirled her baton around and struck the side of her opponent's wrist with lightning speed, causing him to cry out in pain. She spared a split second to watch amusedly as his sword flew from his hand and spiraled through the air, knowing it would land far enough out of his reach to render it useless. To make sure he didn’t get any more bright ideas, she leapt high into the air and brought a flying axe kick down hard on his clavicle, dropping him like a sack of bricks to the alley floor.
Primal satisfaction welling up within her like a predator cornering its prey, she smiled wickedly upon the defeated foe cringing helplessly at her feet. A confident laugh burst forth as she stood over her nemesis, inspiring her to indulge a custom practiced by countless victors through the ages.
"Serves you right, Billy Barton," she said, eyes twinkling with delight. "I don't ever want to hear about you picking on my friends again! Step out of line one more time and you'll rue the day you first heard the na -- "
"TABITHA ARIEN LANGLEY!!!"
She froze, glancing down to where Billy Barton lay trembling as he stared back at her eyes wide with fear. In that moment he vanished, followed by the trash cans, window ledges, clotheslines, fire escapes and everything else in the alleyway. Cruel reality came back into her vision as the alley itself disappeared and she blinked, taking stock of her surroundings. She was standing on the sofa behind G. K.'s workstation. She had the storied White Shadow's nightstick in her hand. She knew she was not the White Shadow.
She knew she was in trouble.
Tabby ventured a look over her shoulder toward where Felicia stood in the doorway glowering at her. She had woefully underestimated how angry Felicia would be with her for even touching her stun baton. And now she had been caught red-handed slinging it about like an expensive cosplay prop.
She knew she was in big trouble.
The woman's green eyes became glowing slits as she bared her fangs, piercing Tabby's soul with wordless ferocity like a core drill chewing its way through bedrock. She gulped, knowing from experience the ordinarily articulate Felicia only ever grew silent when she was really pissed. She knew she may as well be bound, gagged and tossed off a pier into a cold, deep river of trouble!
"Felicia! I was just -- "
"Shut up, Tabby," Felicia seethed through clenched teeth as she stomped towards her. "And turn off that taser before someone gets hurt."
Tabby laughed nervously, uncertain if Felicia referred to the stun baton potentially causing injury or whether Felicia simply planned to do so herself. "I w-wanted to sh-show you I'm r-ready to learn han bo technique," she stammered, swiping at the air as she recited from the script she had rehearsed in her mind for just this occasion.
"If you were ready, you'd understand why we only train in the dojo!" Felicia shouted as she reached out to snatch the baton away.
Tabby flinched. "Wait, Feli --"
The words caught in Tabby's throat as the baton flew free from her grasp with the taser arc still dancing about its tip. Both of them gasped as their gaze followed its trajectory toward where G. K. walked up behind them.
"Fel! See what I found in the -- "
"LOOK OUT, G!!!"
The girls hollered in unison, their frantic warning cutting G. K. off as he peered around the stack of papers he carried in his arms. His eyes went wide as the tip of the stun baton struck him just above the green scales underneath his shoulder. Tendrils of electrical energy played to and fro over G. K's body for an instant before the baton's momentum flipped it over his shoulder. It landed on the floor with a tinny clank, still arcing as it skittered to a stop on the other side of the room.
G. K. stood stock still for a moment save for a pronounced tic in the corner of one eye. All at once he fell backwards like a tree being felled by a lumberjack, landing roughly with a dull thud. The papers took flight from his unmoving hands, blanketing the floor like a fresh cover of multicolored snow as he landed.
"Dear God! Gene!!" Felicia screamed as she sprang to his side. Instantly her face melded into a visage of steely calm as her training kicked in. Jabbing two fingers into the side of G. K.'s neck, she smiled slightly as she felt his rapid pulse begin to slow. Her pointed ears perked up as she placed one over G. K.'s nose and mouth, twitching an instant later as he exhaled.
Tabby squatted down next to Felicia as her elder tended to their stricken friend. Her inexperience in the ways of this life shone through as she made a ham-fisted attempt to deflect Felicia's roiling anger onto something -- anything -- other than her.
"S-so, G. K.'s g-gonna be alright?"
"Yes, thankfully, he will," Felicia said quietly as she stood, eyes trained on G. K.'s face. She suddenly whirled around, locking eyes with Tabby in a piercing stare like a laser cutting through armored plate.
"No thanks to you!" Felicia hissed as she dropped to one knee and grabbed Tabby's shoulders roughly. "JUST WHAT IN EVERLASTING HELL WERE YOU THINKING, TABITHA?!" she screamed, their muzzles mere inches apart as she punctuated every word with a shake of Tabby's shoulders.
"This is why I tell you until I'm all out of breath to leave my stuff alone! When I'm out there as White Shadow, those people I fight do not play around! Pieces of my gear are not toys! They are built to hurt people like the things they use to try and hurt me! Just like my baton hurt G. K. right now! That's why I don't even want you touching my gear, let alone playing with it! DO YOU GET ME, TABITHA?!"
Her ears rang as Felicia's voice thundered in them like a raging storm. The angry features on Felicia's face grew fuzzy as tears welled up in Tabby's eyes. She cursed herself silently. Here she had wanted to impress Felicia that she could act all grown up; now she was about to start crying just like the little girl everyone insisted she was. The sting of rebuke coming from one adult she trusted implicitly given the pain she had caused another proved too much to bear. It took her a moment to realize the fur on her face was getting damp, both from spittle sprayed from Felicia's mouth as well as her own tears. They flowed freely down the sides of her face now, though Tabby was too miserable to care about her shattered dignity.
Tabby braced herself against another verbal onslaught as she heard Felicia quickly draw her breath. Though the tears in her eyes made everything she saw blurry, Tabby could tell Felicia was no longer glaring at her. Felicia had instead taken to staring at the floor just past Tabby's left ankle. After a long moment, Felicia reached down and picked up whatever had caught her attention. Tabby took advantage of the opportunity to wipe tears from her eyes with the back of her hand then glanced down to her side to catch a glimpse of the paper Felicia held in front of her.
She could tell it was a page out of an old scrapbook, though she couldn't recall the last time she had seen one. Had it been merely pixels in a digital frame Tabby would not have felt air whiffing against the fur on her forearm nor heard the soft rattle the paper made in Felicia's quivering hand.
Tabby silently watched Felicia with a puzzled look on her face. She felt a great sense of relief knowing whatever had distracted Felicia had made her forget how angry she had been. The woman's green eyes wide but unfocused, Felicia looked to Tabby like she was not looking at the scrapbook page but rather through it. After hardly a minute had passed, Felicia closed her eyes and sighed. She dropped her hand limply to her side, allowing the paper to slip to the floor.
Felicia stood up and turned away from Tabby, pacing around the room with arms crossed over her chest. Tail swishing from side to side while her brow furrowed, the woman appeared to mull over how best to give voice to the emotion that filled her. Tabby rubbed her hands and feet together nervously as her own tail drooped behind her, trying to cope with the awkward silence as best she knew how: focusing her gaze intently on a spot on the floor in front of her feet.
She glanced upward as Felicia's feet came into view. "See, it's like this, Tabby," Felicia began as she looked back at her, arms akimbo. "You and I are...well, that is, we're..."
Her voice trailed off as she closed her eyes and rubbed the side of her face frustratedly. "It'd be easier for me to just show you," Felicia continued as she knelt down near the scrapbook page she'd been staring at. "Look here," she told Tabby, nodding her head toward a spot at her side. Tabby crouched down next to her as Felicia picked up the artifact gingerly with both hands.
It had been handcrafted years before from several different sheets of brightly colored paper. On one side glued to the paper was a photo of a girl about Tabby's age. She stood in a crouching stance, pretending to face off against an unseen opponent with one arm out in front. She held a badminton racquet above her head with the other as if poised to strike at any moment. Tabby gasped as the realization came to her. "Felicia, is that...you?"
"Yep," she replied. "I was nine years old once too, you know. I'd been watching my dad and my Uncle Murray train with bokken earlier that day. Figured if they could be awesome at sword fighting, then so could I."
"But where's your sword?"
Felicia snickered as she pointed at the badminton racquet in the picture. "That is my sword, silly! My dad caught me swinging it around my room in the dark one night when I should have been asleep. He tucked me in saying he'd start my training the next day but only if I'd pose for him first. That's when he took this picture."
She pursed her lips as a wave of sadness washed over her. "It...it's one of the most treasured memories I have of him."
A moment of heavy silence passed between them. "Then when was this one taken?" Tabby said at length, pointing to the photo on the right. It portrayed an older Felicia standing in the same fighting pose while dressed in a midnight blue gi with her auburn hair tied up into a topknot. "You look like a ninja!" she giggled.
"I certainly should!" Felicia snorted in reply. "I'd been training nearly nine years by then to fight like one." She pointed to the shiny gold medal hung around her neck above where the lapels of her gi came together. "I had just won first place in the sword fighting category at the annual Great Lakes Mixed Martial Arts Invitational. Mom told me how proud of me she was. By then, Dad had been gone a couple years. Mom said she knew how proud Dad would have been of me," Felicia finished, her voice barely more than a whisper.
She traced her thumb underneath the words stuck to the top of the scrapbook page using die-cut letters.
PRACTICE PLUS PASSION PROMOTES PERFECTION
"My dad made me pose for that picture because he knew something about me I didn't know at the time. He saw a champion in me before I even knew she was there," Felicia sighed as she tapped the picture of her older self. "Dad knew the warrior's spirit in me needed to be trained and developed before I could apply it appropriately and effectively. He believed when he saw me with the racquet late that night that I was ready to begin weapons training. I was already practicing empty hand technique before then, mostly to defend myself and G. K. from the bullies on the playground."
"You mean Billy Barton went to your school, too, Felicia? He must be really old!" Tabby squealed, eyes wide.
Felicia laughed out loud. "No, but there are kids like Billy Barton everywhere. Always have been, Tabby, even back in the Stone Age when I was a little girl looking out for her friends."
"Just like...me," Tabby said as she stared off into space while her thoughts wandered.
She took comfort realizing in that moment someone in her life cared enough, loved enough -- loved her enough -- to help her know where the fine line lay between usefulness and recklessness. Certainly it would, as now, be made very clear when she had stepped over. Perhaps this growing-up thing wouldn't be so bad after all, what with people like Felicia and G. K. in her life.
But it wouldn't do if they ended up killing each other in the meanwhile by accident or otherwise. "I'm...I'm sorry, Felicia," Tabby sputtered as she hung her head forlornly. "I promise I won't touch your stuff again without asking you first."
"I accept your apology," Felicia assured her as she bent over to smooth Tabby's sloppy bangs away from her tear-strewn face. "But understand that when I say 'no, not now', that is my final answer. Some of this stuff you're not ready for, Tabby. At least, not just yet."
Felicia stood up and walked to a nearby end table where she set the scrapbook page down gently. She wandered over where her baton laid up against the wall near the corner of the room. Felicia grabbed its handle between her toes and flipped it upward, catching it with a deft swipe of her hand. "If you're that eager for me to punish you with a rigorous training regimen," she mulled aloud as she keyed the taser, "I suppose the least I can do is oblige you."
Tabby gasped joyfully, pressing her hands together as she stared at Felicia with eyes the size of saucers. "Really?"
"Yes, Tabby, really. Though I guarantee you'll be on your knees begging for mercy before we're through," Felicia grinned evilly as she began her han bo kata. "If you're willing to stick with it, I'll teach you how to safely and effectively use every weapon in my arsenal. But you'll have to trust me to know when you're ready. And I don't want to hear any whining either, or else", she said as she glared at Tabby, her eyes framed by the taser's arc.
"You gotta deal, Fel --"
"Oh, that's alright, don't mind me," came a groaning voice from the floor behind where Tabby stood. "I'll be just fine once the room stops spinning, thankyouverymuch. Even managed not to soil myself."
"Gene, we have work to do if you're quite done loafing about!" Felicia chuckled as she extinguished the taser and collapsed the baton into itself before crouching down at G. K.'s side. Tabby knelt next to her as he began rubbing the spot on his shoulder where the baton's taser had struck him. His other hand reached out around him in a circular motion, grinning weakly as his fingers felt what he sought. G. K. slowly sat up as he pushed his pair of red-shaded pince-nez back onto the bridge of his nose. His eyes blinked back into focus as he examined the tiny scorch mark on his shoulder, rubbing at the green scaly skin while he gazed in disgust toward the papers strewn all about the floor.
"Don't do me like that, Fel, or I'll bill you for hazard pay!" G. K. replied with mild indignation as he stood shakily. "Anyway, I thought you'd like to see all this moldie oldie stuff I found while combing through the archives looking for the files on that Morgenstern job you'd asked about," he continued as he spread his arms out wide indicating the papers strewn about the floor. "If I had known you two were going at it tooth-and-nail down here, this non-combatant would have hid out in the attic a little longer."
"We weren't fighting, knothead," Felicia said with a grin, responding to G. K.'s unflappable humor. "We merely experienced an unfortunate training accident you just happened to step into. We'll be more careful in the future. Right, Tabby?"
"R-right," Tabby stammered as she shook her head up and down vigorously. "Training accident! Being careful! Roger that!"
G. K. made a face as he folded his hands behind his neck and swung his outstretched elbows side to side. His vertebrae popped loudly in response, sending a spasm down his back to the tip of his tail. "'s all good, Felicia," he grinned as he beamed at the girls. "Doesn't appear the taser I'd amped up for your nightstick causes any permanent damage after all."
Felicia's brow knit quizzically as she stared down at the baton in her hand. "You mean you didn't already know for certain?"
Tch, came G. K.'s reply as he rolled his eyes. "I trust my calculations, but our body of empirical evidence was pretty small," he said as he shrugged his shoulders. "I never tested a taser on myself before!"
Felicia was first to lose it, tossing her head back as she laughed heartily. Tabby followed suit a moment later. The two of them howled with laughter for some time while G. K. snickered uncertainly, scratching the back of his neck as if wondering just how he had managed to miss the punch line.
Thanks for reading! This work was based upon the discussion of this piece of artwork from Keiron White's "White Shadow" series.
Feel free to visit, favorite and comment! The author wishes to thank Keiron White for his willingness to let me play in his sandbox as well as carefully and thoughtfully reviewing the draft of this story. Feedback on the story itself may be directed to the author at:
My other creative works may be found here:
Love to have you visit, read and comment if you’re so inclined. Thanks!
Original "White Shadow" characters and concept (c) 2013 Keiron White. "Disappointed" is an original short story in the "White Shadow" storyline by M. J. Engels which was created, revised and posted with Mr. White's collaboration and consent.
EDIT: New artwork from Keiron is available for this story! Check out:
Gurren Lagann - Turn the Phase - 1 Departure
He was lamenting in the comments about his writing skills, noting he felt the emotion of this piece really did require a story be told. So I sat down one night and started typing. Here is the result. My thanks to Keiron for letting me play in his sandbox awhile and making some excellent suggestions as I revised the various drafts.
EDIT: New artwork from Keiron for this story is available! Check out:
As for the story, despite having seen some of Keiron's works of Felicia, I never focused on the story behind them, but now I think you've done a good service to his characters. They appear vivid and natural.
You know...I completely get what you're saying but I think it would have been much more considerate if you kept it short and to the point. Not that I didn't get it all but cutting it down for time would have been appreciated. But the reason I bring this up is because I felt I might have left a bad comment. As if I left something too critical or offensive. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the story because I enjoy almost anything Felicia is in, but Felicia's impatience and anger does kind of give me these bad vibes. But did that automatically mean you should have given a long speech about it....not really? I already know why she is like that and it's totally understandable. I just think it's a bad feeling to me because it's always difficult and upsetting to see such beautiful women getting teeming with such after and constant frustration. I'd be really ecstatic if I saw her a lot more relaxed. I would say content and satisfied but I guess that wont happen until she gets her father's killer to pay for his crimes.
So is it true...Did I offend you with that comment? If so I apologize but understand I was only leaving a comment in which I was expressing what I thought. Maybe it wasn't what you wanted to hear, but that's simply what I thought. Don't let the comment of some stranger get to you, friend. That is to say had it been bad. Which I had no intention of doing. I still very much enjoyed your story and look forward to more. But I just wanted you to understand the point of what I said earlier. It's nothing out of disrespect just an honest feedback. So I hope you understood what I said and hopefully weren't put off by my earlier comment. Although I did enjoyed reading what you had to say. It did gave me a deeper analysis of what Felicia is all about. And she is a character who I deeply love and enjoy. Always interested to know more about a great character. Especially one with such depth as her.
funny how you apologize yet you write another long comment. And I don't think it was the right thing to assume I meant any kind of offense because what would have given that kind of implication that I was offending you....why would I offend any friend of FunkyAlien. Any friend of his is a friend of mine. The reason it was okay for him to reply with a lengthy comment is because I already know him. My comment wasn't meant to negatively criticize. sure I didn't like SOME parts but did you hear me call it crap or anything like that?! no! You shouldn't have felt "irked" I definitely enjoyed reading it since funkyalien hasn't completed his comics yet. Any story taking place in his continuity is a cool and interesting story to read.
My Point in short is...you shouldn't have seen my comment as negative. it sounds like you don't like to receive any kind of criticism. And while it may not be the most pleasant thing to witness, its just honesty.
There's really no need to drag this out. Criticism is a strange beast to handle at times, and people have off-days. Believe me, I've had mine. The graceful thing on all sides (myself included) is to accept our mistakes, misunderstandings, and apologies, let it all settle and move on happily. You like the story, MJ is happy for this. That's what we have to take away from this, so let's all just chill out.
As for MJE's reply, well, he is rather verbose. Replies tend to be lengthy and in-depth, so don't feel too much as though it was defencive or that you'd caused offence (none that I'm aware of, at least).
On the other hand, though, he could have been much more concise in addressing your issue with that line. The dynamic between the two of them does indeed go much deeper than is shown in Sandwich, and there's a much greater complexity to it for both of them for a number of reasons. Felicia's life story didn't need to be given here to explain all of that, however, so much of that information was unnecessary.
About her level of patience though. She tends to be rather calm in most situations, both in and out of combat. It is known, however, that there are certain things that can make her snap in one way or another. Sandwich demonstrated this when it came to Tabby stealing her food, but that was just a mild occurance in the grand scheme of things. Felicia wasn't going to really do anything bad to her, just teach her a lesson by scaring her a bit. Touching her gear, though, that's something serious. There's a very real chance of injury that comes from handling her weapons, much like could happen from a child handling a gun. Whether or not it's loaded or primed, it's still potentially dangerous and shouldn't be handled without proper training and responsibilty. THAT is was would have set her off so spectacularly. She's trying to look after Tabby and keep her safe, and there she is playing make believe with her weapons, seemingly without due respect to the potential injury they might cause.