Ch. 1—Message from Home
Fair warning: Lots of personal theories about character backgrounds here. I realize it's kinda chancy to make this many guesses so early in a series, and I'm sure a lot of this will be proven impossible later on, but for now I hope it's just fun to read. Standard disclaimer: I do not own any of the Storm Hawks characters, which belong to Asaph Fipke and Nerd Corps 2007-to-ever; I'm just taking them for a little spin and I'll bring 'em back unhurt, so help me.
And much humble love and gratitude to the immortal Theodore Sturgeon, from whose classic Star Trek episode "Amok Time" I have shamelessly snitched my central plot device. )
The Condor's radio worked just fine—Stork saw to that—but still, they rarely got any calls. Simply, there wasn't anyone who'd call them. Team members dutifully reported in when on missions, since Stork fussed like crazy when left out of the loop, but otherwise the radio sat silent for days at a time, and no one wondered about it.
Which was why Aerrow was giving it such a long, wary look now.
"Repeat: this is Terra Tenebria, calling Sky Knight Squadron ship Condor. We request to speak with your Captain."
What on Atmos was this?--Aerrow punched the button, and a panel on the mission display table lit up. "This is Sky Knight Aerrow, commanding the Condor."
"Ah! Thank you, Captain." Aerrow leaned in closer, surprised: what he saw on the screen was unmistakably a stately, older Merb, dressed in formal robes, his long hair silvery white. "I represent the Elder Council of Terra Tenebria. We are informed that you have a Merb in your squadron, one named Stork. May we speak to him?"
He didn't have to ask if Stork had heard; the Merb had visibly tensed at the sound of his name, clenched green knuckles paling to cream on the ship's control wheel. "I knew this day would come…" he almost whispered.
Piper glanced up from her surveying console, a quick look of concern in her eyes. Aerrow spared a moment to wonder—not for the first time—about the circumstances of their pilot's departure from his home terra; Merbs were notoriously sheltered and reclusive, and for one to take to the skies as Stork had was unheard of. He pressed the mute button, briefly shielding their conversation from the caller. "Stork, if you're in any trouble at home, you know we've got your back."
"Absolutely," added Piper.
"…Thanks. But it's nothing like that…" With the air of one walking to the gallows, Stork tapped in the autopilot and walked to the radio, finishing in a sepulchral whisper, "…it's worse." ---Aerrow canceled the mute and waited.
The old Merb's face lightened at the sight of him. "Stork of Verdevale—"
"Verdevale?" Piper stared. "He's from there?" Aerrow glanced to her and she gestured silence. "Tell you later--"
"—you know that the hour of challenge has come. Tell your captain that we will expect you here in three days' time."
"Understood," put in Aerrow firmly, as Stork seemed too overwhelmed to speak.
"Thank you, Sky Knight Aerrow. And…" the elder Merb's voice softened—"welcome home…grandson."
The screen went dark. Aerrow and Piper exchanged looks, and Aerrow cleared his throat.
"…Stork? Is there something you might like to tell us?"
The name I chose for the Merbs' home terra is derived from tenebrous, from the Latin tenebrae, meaning "gloomy, dark, dismal". If anyone else likes and wants to adopt it, be my guest.
In Ch. 2, "Stork Tells A Story." Stork--well, guess. )