This is a bit of a departure from my normal submissions. I created the main character, Selene, as a volunteer character for a friend’s commission, over a two-hour period while at my job. Of course, by the end of those two hours, I had another character that I was pretty excited about, with a pretty solid backstory, and was mulling over whether or not I should create a full-fledged origins story. Needless to say, my friend’s commissioner liked the idea, and he suggested I go through with it, and so here we are.
I’m planning on delving further into Selene’s adventures this summer, in a series of short stories.
New Year’s Eve, 1996
“The fireworks are so beautiful, Ben,” Margie said, sitting on the hood of her Corvette. She could feel the buck’s hoof on top of her own as they stared up at the starlight night sky, further illuminated by the celebratory pyrotechnics.
Ben turned his attention from overhead to the doe beside him. He was thankful that Margie was having a great time. Last night, he was nervous about asking her out, worried that she may expect something fancy. While Ben wasn’t exactly poor, Margie had everything she could imagine.
“I’m glad I asked you out tonight,” Ben said. “I wish you could see your face, and the way the colors up there reflect off your fur. Trust me; the real show is down here.”
Maddie screamed in terror, clutching her dolls tightly as the soldiers burst through the door to her father’s run-down three-room apartment. One of the men kicked aside the toy car as he stormed into the living room. Her daddy jumped up from his dirty and ragged armchair, grasping desperately for his nearby MP40. The intruders fired their guns, striking him twice, once in his shoulder and a second time in his thigh. The four-year old girl wailed, tears streaming down her cheeks, panic-stricken, as her daddy was pinned face down against the filthy wood floor. The strangers secured his paws and feet behind his back, before patting him down.
“He’s clean,” one of the men who shot her father said.
“Got some Semtex back here,” a voice called out from the bedroom she shared with her Daddy.
“Supplies over here,” came a third voice from the kitchen, a few meters away from where Maddie sat. “Wiring, tape, chemicals, bunch of other shit.”
“What do we do about the kid?” one of the men asked, pointing at Maddie.
“We can’t leave her. She’ll die alone on these streets. Bring her with us. We’ll let the brass decide. Worst case scenario is that she ends up in an orphanage, but it’s better than leaving her to die,” the commanding officer said.
One of the soldiers knelt beside Maddie, strapped a Kevlar vest around her tiny body, the armor seeming massive on the little girl. “Come on, kid. It isn’t safe here.”
Two of the armed men led Maddie out of the dilapidated apartment building into the violence-plagued streets of Belfast, dragging her father along. The sounds of machine gun fire rang out around them, and mortar shells exploded off in the distance. The trio moved slowly, headed for the extraction point, but their path was fraught with danger.
One of the men shoved Maddie down behind a stone wall as the rebels shot at them. The soldiers were better trained, however, and were able to dispatch the insurgents in relatively short order. As they reached the outskirts of Belfast, another larger group of gunmen erupted from an abandoned grocer. This time around, however, her escorts were not so fortunate. While they still emerged victorious, one of the soldiers, a Doberman, had been slain, while the other, a Clydesdale, had taken two rounds to his shoulder and was bleeding steadily. The wounded soldier managed to get Maddie to the extraction point without any further incident, where more soldiers wrapped her in a warm blanket. Stressed and shaken by the night’s events, she curled herself up into the fetal position, clutching her dolls closely, and drifted into a restless sleep.
New Year’s Day, 1997
“Files say her name is Madeline Riley Fitzpatrick, his daughter,” a woman said, circling the little girl, giving an appraising eye as she went. Maddie stood still, clutching the hem of her dress nervously. Her clothes were torn, filthy, and stunk from days of wear; her red fur was just as bad, matted in several places. The strangers had taken away her dolls. She was in a large, cool room, surrounded by several adults in tan, navy, or white uniforms. Several of them had pretty, shiny pins on their chests. “She is four years old. Her mother reportedly committed suicide back in 1993. All other known family members are also part of the IRA.”
“So what do we do with her now? For her own protection, and those around her, she’ll need a new identity. But then what? Put her in an orphanage?” a massive ram asked, seated at the head of a large conference table.
“If I may, sir,” the woman, a red fox, suggested, lowering her voice to speak privately with her superior. “My transfer to Andover is coming soon, and things for me will become much more stable. I’ve always wanted a daughter, but my service has come before anything else. I don’t have a mate to give me cubs through natural means, and I’m not getting any younger. With your permission, sir, I’d like to spend some time with Maddie to get to know her, and for her to know me. If she and I bond well, then I propose that I be allowed to adopt her.”
“You’re serious about this, aren’t you?” the ram questioned.
“Yes, sir,” the vixen replied. “I know her real name, and her family history, so I can protect her better than a civilian could if her extended family comes looking for her. Any other prospective parents would likely turn her way if they knew the truth. I’m her best option.”
“All right, O’Malley,” the commanding officer said, “I’m going to give you a few moments alone to talk with the girl. Make sure this is what you want, and see how she feels about it.”
Alone with the girl, the vixen removed her glasses and knelt down in front of the little red squirrel. “Hello, dear,” the woman spoke softly. “My name is Olivia. I know that everything that has happened to you today must have been dreadful, and for that, I am so sorry.” Olivia brushed a stray strand of fur out of Maddie’s eyes. “I’m also sorry that we had to take you away from your daddy, but it wasn’t safe there for you.”
“I hate my daddy,” Maddie said in a quiet voice. “I’m happy you took me. Is he going to jail?”
Olivia’s heart ached to hear the little squirrel’s statement. “Yes, honey. He’s going to jail. You don’t have to worry about him anymore.”
“Forever?” the little girl asked with wide, green eyes.
“Hopefully,” Olivia said, taking Maddie into her arms, “but it isn’t my decision to make. Sweetie, you need a new home. What would you say if I asked you to come and visit with me for awhile? I have a nice, clean, flat as big as your two of your old home, where you can have your own bedroom. We can take nice walks in the park, ride bicycles, and there’s a playground where you can play with other children.”
Maddie’s eyes lit up at the idea of having fun with other cubs, but her brow furrowed as she remembered something that was said a few moments ago.
“Ms. Olivia?” Maddie asked. “That big man said I need a new i-dent-a-tee... What’s that?”
“You get to have a new name, sweetie. Do you have any idea what you want it to be?”
“No,” Maddie said, her lips pursed in thought. “What do you think is a good name?”
“Well, sweetie, I don’t think I should be the one to decide that,” the vixen said, gently. “Not yet, at least. But you’re definitely welcome to stay with me for a little while, and we’ll have so much fun, if you want.”
“Yes, I do, Ms. Olivia!” she squealed with glee. “But before we go, can I have my Margie and Ben dolls back?”
Olivia looked at the girl sadly and replied, “I’m sorry, sweetie, no. Your father was a bad man, and liked to play with things that go boom. He put stuff inside your dolls to make them go boom, too.”
“No, he didn’t,” Selene said indignantly. “I did that to my dolls.”
Olivia was shocked at the girl’s confession. “Why, sweetie? Why would you do something like that? It’s so dangerous!”
“If daddy ever died, I didn’t want his friends to take me,” the little girl spoke, almost in tears. “Daddy was a bad man, but his friends scared me more; they touched me in bad places. I didn’t want them to hurt me again.”
“My dear, sweet, precious child,” Olivia sighed, holding her new daughter tightly. “What kind of hell have you endured?”
Olivia and Maddie spent the next 2 weeks together, with the young squirrel staying in the fox’s guest bedroom. It wasn’t anything special, since Olivia rarely entertained visitors; a pull-out sofa, sparse decorations, and an infestation of dust-bunnies. Still, by comparison, Maddie felt like a princess. The pair were absolutely inseparable. Olivia took Maddie to various shoppes and bought her all manner of clothing and accessories, and new, child-friendly, dolls. They went to movies, rode bicycles, flew kites, went to a football game, and stayed up late reading stories. Ms. O’Malley felt herself very quickly falling in love with the precious creature placed in her care, and resolved to adopt her. After clearing things with her superior officers, Olivia was given permission to keep Maddie, if both were interested, while the paperwork was prepared and processed.
One morning, the pretty vixen was brushing her young ward’s fur when she asked, “Maddie, sweetie, how would you like to stay here with me forever, and let me be your new mommy?”
The small squirrel squealed with glee at this question and bounced up and down excitedly, wrapping her tiny paws behind the woman’s back. “Yes, please! Oh thank you, thank you, Miss Olivia!”
“Maddie, please, if you want, you may start calling me ‘Mom,’ but only if you want to,” Olivia smiled, returning the child’s enthusiastic embrace. “Of course, we’re also going to have to figure out what we’re going to name you, now, won’t we? Do you have any names in mind that you might like?”
“I’m not very good with making up names, Mommy,” Maddie said. “What do you think sounds nice?”
“Well, I’ve always liked the name ‘Selene’-” Olivia began.
“That’s pretty!” the little red squirrel exclaimed. “I like that name lots.”
Laughing at her enthusiasm, Olivia looked Maddie in the eyes, and said, “If you like that name, sweetie, it’s yours. But you also need a new middle name. My mother’s name - your new grandmother - is Theresa. I bet she would love to have you named after her.”
“Was she a good mommy?” Maddie wanted to know.
“The best,” Olivia smiled warmly, recalling memories of growing up in the rolling hills of the English countryside, eating her mother’s delicious homemade meals and listening to bedtime stories.
“No, she’s the second best,” Maddie said, hugging Olivia. “You’re first! But ‘Theresa’ is a good middle name.”
“Well, then, would you like to help me redecorate your new bedroom, Ms. Selene Theresa O’Malley?” the vixen asked, extending a paw.
May 5, 2007
“Ms. O’Malley, thank you for coming in on such short notice,” a middle-aged otter greeted Olivia, inviting her to have a seat in his office.
“You’re welcome, Superintendent Wakefield,” Olivia said, taking her place in the offered chair. “Is there a problem with Selene? You were awfully discreet on the telephone.”
“No,” the superintendent smiled broadly, “quite the opposite, in fact. I’m sorry to have worried you earlier, but I felt this was a conversation better had face-to-face. Ms. O’Malley, Selene is excelling!”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t understand,” the vixen asked, confused by the statement. “What’s she excelling at?”
“That’s exactly my point,” the otter replied. “Everything! She has outstanding marks in every single subject. With your permission, I’d like to have her join us?”
Olivia nodded, and Mr. Wakefield pressed the button on his intercom. “Ms. Buckingham, could you please send in Selene O’Malley?”
“Right away, Sir,” a cheerful voice replied. A moment later, the door to the superintendent’s office opened, and in walked Selene.
“Hello, Sir. Hello, mother,” she greeted them politely.
“Selene, please, have a seat,” the otter gestured to beside the girl’s mother. Once she sat down, he continued, “I’ve asked you and your mother here to discuss your future. As you know, you’re a remarkable, bright , young woman with a brilliant career ahead of you. I honestly don’t recall a more outstanding cadet during my time of service here.” Superintendent Wakefield pulled Selene’s dossier from a desk drawer, and opened it.
“In your brief stay with us, Miss O’Malley, you placed out of Algebra and Geometry, and have aced Trigonometry and both Calculus I and II; tested out of Biology I and II, Chemistry I and II, and earned an ‘A’ in Physics; you have opted to study Russian, Mandarin, and Japanese, and scored exceptionally well in all three; your instructors for English swear that you’re some type of prodigy; aced computer science; exceptional in British and World histories; exemplary in art. I don’t see the need to continue any further.”
Closing the file, the middle-aged otter looked at the vixen and her adopted red squirrel daughter, “To be perfectly honest, after the end of this term, we will have run out of programs for Selene to study. I’ve put in word with some of my superiors, and I’ve been in touch with some colleagues of mine at Oxford. The British government is prepared and willing to pay for your daughter to continue her education at England’s most prestigious university.”
“Wow,” Olivia stared, slack-jawed, trying to let the news sink in, “I honestly don’t know what to say. This is quite the news. Selene, what do you think, sweetie? Would you like to study at Oxford?”
“I suppose,” the young squirrel said, disinterested. “Do they have a field hockey team?”
“One of the best, young lady,” Superintendent Wakefield replied. “Though I’m afraid you’d be too young to be allowed to compete. At least, for another three years.”
“Well that’s too bad,” Selene said, pensively, “By then I should have earned at least two degrees.”
May 28, 2010
“Miss O’Malley,” a gruff voice called out. Turning to look behind her, Selene saw four highly decorated officers demanding her attention.
“Go ahead, sweetie,” her mother said, “your grandparents and I will be right over here. It looks like you have a lot to talk about, and some important decisions to make. Come and get us once you’ve finished.”
“Generals, Admiral, Air Chief Marshall,” the red squirrel saluted them. “How may I help you?”
“Miss O’Malley, as you know, your country has taken great interest in your education, and with good reason,” a somewhat familiar old ram began. “Degrees in Chemistry, Electrical Engineering, and Physics from England’s top academic institution, summa cumme laude, no less. I have to admit, that’s extremely impressive.”
“Young lady, we’d like to talk to you about enlistment options. The RA, RAF, RM, and RN would all benefit from your services,” a second man, a walrus continued. “Have you given any thought to serving your country?”
“Yes, sirs,” Selene replied, dropping her salute, but still standing at attention. “While I am certain that my academic achievements have you all wanting me to become some sort of officer, what I would like most is to serve Her Majesty as an agent in MI-6.”
The 4 men excused themselves for a moment to discuss the hot recruit’s decision. While they spoke, Selene glanced briefly over her shoulder to watch her adoptive mother and grandparents talking to another family whose child had run off somewhere or another. She returned her attention to her visitors just in time to catch them wrapping up their conversation.
“Ms. O’Malley, we all agree that England would benefit greatly from your services if you were to become an MI-6 operative,” the ram, an Army general, spoke. “However, those agents are promoted from the ranks of the military. While we all have no doubts concerning your capabilities, you’re going to have to get some experience in the field before that could happen.”
“Ms. O’Malley,” the Air Chief Marshall, an old crane, interjected. “I hope you are aware of the fact that MI-6 operatives normally work alone. Additionally, they are some of the finest athletic specimens in the kingdom. And sometimes, their work requires... unconventional... methods that a proper woman such as yourself may not feel comfortable with.”
Trying, and failing, not to laugh, Selene reassured the officers, “Gentlemen, I prefer to work alone. No offense, but there is no one I trust more to get something done right than myself. I am quite athletic, thank you very much - field hockey, football, tennis, golf, cycling, and running, in addition to yoga for relaxation. And trust me, that yoga will be quite useful when employing those ‘unconventional’ methods you speak of.”
“Have you decided which branch you’ll be enlisting in, then, or would you prefer some time to think about it?” the other General, and old bulldog marine, asked.
“I made my decision a long time ago, sirs,” Selene replied, saluting the officers once more. “I wish to join the Royal Army, like my mother.”
This is a little different from my usual stuff. My favorite Inkbunny writer and a friend, Jacinth, was commissioned by https://inkbunny.net/sonic71 to write a Spec Ops story and needed additional characters to round out the squad. I created this character and offered her up for the mission, and ended up liking her a lot. sonic71 requested that I write her origin story, which I was planning on doing anyway.