AUTHOR'S NOTE: There is no official canon for Etheras. The story here does not preclude validity of other Etheras stories. Stories involving Etheras should be considered universes unto themselves with little or no carryover except for the character of Etheras himself. So please no "If this happened then how can Etheras have done this other thing?" Answer: Two different stories. Thanks!
CHAPTER 1: THE TREND Zenad sat down hard in the old sofa chair. He was exhausted! The dry heat of this place really took-it-out of him. The sofa-chair creaked protestingly under his heavy wolf body. The stuffing almost completely gone, the cushion's worn-out springs took the brunt of his weight, causing it to sag slightly in the middle. It had been some time since he bought this chair, and he was hoping it would be longer before he had to replace it. Furniture was *so* expensive, especially here where wood had to be imported, and the dry heat and sand aged everything quickly. He bounced slowly, testing the seat, gauging its remaining life. He was punished for his inquisition with the feeling of an inner spring popping free of its parent outer spring and pressing up uncomfortably against his backside. He sighed. "Time to replace this one too," he thought to himself, knowing he didn't have the capital for new furniture. He wished he could afford better, maybe a memory-foam chair...? Those lasted at least twice as long... But he couldn't afford such luxuries, especially on a teacher's budget.
He felt that bent spring digging into his asscheek and fidgeted to try and relieve the pressure, but no matter what he did, it didn't seem to want to relent. So he slouched, preferring it digging into his lower back than his ass. "Ain't no fag," he murmured softly to himself, as he flipped the tab on the cold beer in his large hand. This land had recently become somewhat liberated, but there were still some lingering prejudices. Thankfully, beer wasn't among these any longer. But other prejudices were so ingrained in the local culture that he had hardly noticed the hypocrisy of his words, as he sipped his beer and his large hand felt for the remote to turn on his favorite television program. It was almost time.
The picture on the small television sprung to life, settling on a placid image of the African Bush. The previous programming was just finishing... some nature show or other... It was actually very highly-rated, but only because of what came next. Zenad couldn't help but feel his usual thrill of excitement and apprehension as the credits began to roll...!
"Not today," Zenad challenged himself, "Today I will resist you and your foxy charms". But he already knew he would fall prey once again today, and he wondered silently if that was really such a bad thing. He knew in the back of his mind that the only way to resist would be not to watch, and he couldn't do that; he was compelled. Besides - if he were to lose, he couldn't think of anyone or anything he would rather surrender-to than Etheras.
And then it began..."The Trend," starring Etheras the white fennec - the self-described "voice of the world". While initially this title was laughed off by critics, it quickly rang true as ratings for THE TREND began to soar. At first distribution was limited to the country where it was being produced - Egypt. But then stations began to syndicate it regionally, and then globally. Experts were baffled; unable to quantify precisely what made the show so appealing, and why it had become such an enormous success. "The Trend" was not only the name of the program, but the harbinger of its own breathtaking ascendency.
Zenad felt nervous suddenly, as the logo of the corporate sponsor appeared on the screen. Unsurprisingly, the program was funded today by Fay Media Group Incorporated; Etheras's father's business, and the legacy that he would leave his universally-adored son.
The music began to play. Zenad could hear it drifting in through the open window, his own tinny television speakers in chorus with the others all over the city. The streets sang with that slow hypnotic Egyptian tune, artfully woven with subtle and tasteful modern synthesizers; a blend of the traditional and the new, "Just as Etheras is," thought Zenad, and then the white fennec appeared on his screen... as he did at this time every night, belly-dancing to the opening score as the intro credits faded in and out. "Such grace! Such control..!" Etheras had become somewhat of an obsession to Zenad, as well he did for everyone who watched the show. Zenad couldn't quite decide why that was. To be sure, Etheras was singularly beautiful, but was that the answer or was there something more to it? Zenad thought there must be more. A beautiful face alone couldn't have captured his thoughts so completely, could it?
The show itself seemed unremarkable; it changed from day-to-day, covering a variety of topics from news to pop culture, to informative sessions about Egypt or technology or History. At that moment in his head, it all sounded quite boring. Then why did he watch it with such commitment? Why did everyone? Zenad concluded that the draw was Etheras the Fox himself, and this thought did not surprise him. Etheras was the most magnificent creature Zenad had ever seen. One of his co-workers had even seen Etheras once in-person! Or... at-least he had claimed to. Zenad couldn't be sure, but his mind gasped at the thought. To _see_ Etheras? What a marvel that would be! Rumor had it that he was even more lovely in-person!
The intro song faded out and the soft, musical fennec voice of Etheras chimed "Good day, my loyal viewers," and Zenad nodded. It was a good day, wasn't it? ,"... and welcome to THE TREND. Today I'm going to bring you on a little sightseeing tour. I'll show you all our new media complex, and after that, I have a little surprise for you - you can help design my outfit for the International Fashion Awards in Dubai. Doesn't that sound fun?" and Zenad nodded to himself, grinning. It did sound fun!, "... and of course I'll be posting pictures of it for all my adoring fans out there. That means you!"
Me? thought Zenad. Oh Etheras, you are so sweet! Zenad thought about what he would design for Etheras... of course the design wasn't going to be made by him personally, but would be a collaboration of ideas from every viewer, the various cuts and details voted-on by each, and then finally realized by a talented designer. Zenad's design would be revealing... but not too revealing. Zenad personally wanted to see more of that pristine snow-white body, but also wanted Etheras to remain modest, noble, and tasteful - just the way that Zenad knew him. Ideas flashed through his mind as pictures of previous outfits cycled across the screen. They all looked so dashing! Zenad began to feel slightly intimidated.
"But first, let's go-over some of the news for today," Etheras said. 'Yes - news is important' Zenad's mind told him, laboring to switch gears. "On this day in History," Etheras started, "The Egyptian Army defeated the famed Napoleon in the greatest sea battle in history at the time; the Battle of the Mediterranean. This stranded Napoleon's armies in Algiers, and they had to conquer the British rock fortress at Gibraltar to return to the European theater, thus ending Napoleon's African incursion."
Zenad smiled and clapped! 'Ah those crafty Egyptians. Nobody can ever beat them. Those are the lands of Etheras's people, and who could ever possibly stand against that clever breed?' But somewhere deep in his mind, some vestige of doubt rebelled against the information, but couldn't defeat the blockade of Zenad's conscious mind, which didn't want to know. Wasn't it the British who won the battle of the Mediterranean? No.. no.. of course not. And wasn't Napoleon stranded in Egypt, not Algiers? No that was just silly and stupid. Etheras wouldn't lie.
"In other news," Etheras continued, "the American economy continues to slide into decay, while the Egyptian economy flourishes with our rapidly expanding technology sector. Egypt is becoming a great center of learning and innovation. Are you an engineer?" Zenad nodded. At least... he taught other to be engineers, which made him even more valuable, didn't it? Etheras continue, "Perhaps together we could build something... magnificent."
Before long the hour was over, and Zenad was left with a feeling of emptiness. "Another day, another TREND," he muttered. Only 23 hours until the next one. That wouldn't be so bad, would it? Right around the corner. And Zenad had work to do. Didn't he say that the International Fashion Awards - the biggest night of the year for the beautiful and famous - would be held in Dubai this year? Dubai is where all the great Universities were in the region - including Zenad's own. Perhaps he could see the great Etheras in-person!
CHAPTER 2: REFLECTING ON PRINCIPLES It was Thursday, and that meant that Zenad had a short class roster. By noon he had finished all of his classes, and that left the afternoon for him to follow his research interests. These had shifted recently; ever since THE TREND began to air in Dubai. He was convinced that he could use his years of engineering experience to help his new idol realize his dreams, "And to see that face thanking me would be all the payment I need." he mused.
Zenad thought back to the previous night's show. Etheras took the camera crew on a tour of the new broadcast center in Cairo, and Zenad couldn't help but be impressed with the new facility. They had more sophisticated and modern hardware than any other broadcast station on the planet - clearly a product of the success of THE TREND - and the power to boost the transmitter's signal for a thousand miles in every direction, allowing far-off lands to syndicate the THE TREND for free. Zenad remembered the white fennec's excitement at showing off the new facility and Zenad was sure it was not feigned. The boi wanted to be seen and heard. "And if that's what he wants, that is what I will give him." Zenad mused at his desk, drafting a model for something new on his computer; It looked like a radiator, but with the vents on one side thicker than the other. He turned it with his mouse, admiring the symmetry and elegance of it, before uploading the model into a simulator. This would try a scale of various values for power output, clarity, and angle (among others) and project the likely signal distribution of a fixed-point transmitter. Then it would interpolate that model for an array. As he watched, the numbers came back red, refusing to meet his very-demanding thresholds. He bit his lip and cursed himself silently placing his large wolf paws over his ears and holding his head in disappointment. Another failure!
He sat back and looked at a large centerfold of Etheras that he had hanging on the wall. The boi gazed back levelly, laying out on a luxurious bed wearing nothing but some pink panties and matching shoulder-length gloves. It was an unbelievably sexy image, but something about Etheras's gaze made the picture something more. In those eyes there were ... expectations. And drive, and a touch of coldness. It was as-if the fennec didn't care that a viewer could clearly see the outline of his cute little package in those tight panties, because the viewer couldn't have him. No - that wasn't it. It was more like the viewer was unworthy of him. The viewer was here to serve. And this notion was seconded by a large gold scepter that the fennec held in his paw.
The image was intended to be a playful homage to THE TREND's (and Etheras's) Egyptian roots, but somehow Zenad couldn't help but feel that Etheras wasn't playing. The fennec liked the idea of being ruler. "Or he's a very good actor," thought the wolf, and went back to his work, adjusting the model to try to improve its characteristics.