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Sunday, September 25, 2016

DALTSU

That's code. I think there are probably ten people on the planet who remember what DALTSU was on what we fondly called purple list. No, this isn't a reveal post about DALTSU.

A little over a year ago I wrote My name is Pinky, and this is my Haus where I started sharing how far back I go in fandoms. I had a flashback today that sent me on the kind of hunt that has a person wading through piles of boxes and dredging out the contents, and nothing inside has been touched in so long that you can't believe it's been 20 years, or just shy.

Among the contents of one box, I ran right into the old Darkwing Duck / Joxer crossover story I wrote and submitted to a fan book for Ted Raimi's birthday one year (still don't know if it ever made it in), and now I can copy it here.

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Let's Get Dangerous



Quick note: In a recent Tedlist post I wrote 'I am a HUGE Darkwing Duck fan, and I think it would be really cool to see Joxer get more into the spirit of his self perceived heroism.' I was blown away at the number of responses I got; Rob asking if I was "PROMISING" to do this crossover, Phil offering to post it, Purple Lemon sending me fabulous Darkwing Duck artwork, JJ and others saying I should post it to Ted Tales, and Lana herself telling me Darkwing Duck was one of his favorites. So, *NOW* to get our intrepid hero into a cape...
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There was only one other time he could remember feeling this miserable, and come to think of it, he'd RATHER be tied up naked in a bale of wool in a hot barn, dang it.

He could see it as clearly as yesterday, hanging out around the sheep pen at the annual shearing; crusty old farmers muttering curses and grunting in the heat while the pretty little sheep girls (really farmers' daughters, but they were so much cuter thinking of them as sheep girls for one day), anyway, while the pretty little sheep girls cut out ewe after ewe for the next shearing. Joxer had attempted to wade into the milling flock with them, mainly to show off a few manly skills without his shirt on, but after they spooked and mowed him over in whatever otherworldly terror only sheep can see, he sorta crawled, then sorta limped back to the fence and managed to flip over it before an especially fattish ewe could butt him right through it. He stood up and leaned nonchalantly back on the fence as soon as he'd been able, looking discreetly around to see if any of the sheep girls were laughing, but they were busy dodging and diverting and apparently hadn't seemed to notice, thank Zeus.

But Jett had... There was just no escaping a twin. Well, triplet, really, but they hadn't been counting Jace ever since Jett depantsed him in the town square at the tender age of twelve and found him wearing one of Mom's corsettes and several garters. After that, Jace basically hung out with milk maidens and sheep girls, so Joxer was careful when he scouted this particular pen.

"Thought you were Jace there for a minute." Jett had perfected that sneer to a fine art, but he still hadn't gotten the glint in his eye down. He was practicing it right now.

"Hey, we don't mention his name in public, remember?" For some reason, Joxer was the only teenager around for miles who still talked back at him like that, and Jett wasn't quite sure if he liked that or not. Brother or not, though, Jett had a reputation to nourish.

"We're not in public, brother." The sneer got sneerier.

It was true to a point. The din of bleating sheep pretty much muffled nearly everything the farmers were yelling at the sheep girls, who simply ignored them anyway and continued sorting one ewe out here, one there.

"So!" Joxer tried sneering back. "Besides, when's the last time you saw Jace without something lacy over his chest? Gimme a break!" and with that, Joxer had squared his shoulders, jutted his jaw, and puffed his chest out for a little manly emphasis.

Big mistake. Jett had snickered and twisted him into a headlock before Joxer could get a breath out to yell whichever password they were using for "I give up" at the time. He wasn't terribly clear on how the rest of what  happened came about, but it was a couple of hours before enough sheep were sheared and turned out for the din to die down so his voice could be heard filtering through a mountain of wool. By the time they'd untied and unwrapped the big ball of wool from around him, he was woozy with the heat and soaked slippery with sweat. He did remember the sheep girls giggling, though, and one of the farmers yelling at them to run find his pants. They never did find them, no telling what Jett had done with them, but somehow they'd gotten something else put on him and carried him home. He'd broken out in a beautiful case of hives after that and hadn't been able to wear wool since.

And this had to be every bit as bad. Worse! Dang ticks! If it wasn't an itchy bite up one leg, it was a crawly sensation up the other, and no telling how many times he'd had to dart off the path behind a tree to shake out his trousers and check his legs, then get all his gear readjusted and run to catch up again. It was getting pretty ridiculous, this shortcut through THESE woods in THIS heat, and on top of it all he'd blundered right through some poison oak catching up last time. Well, actually, that was the first time all day he'd appreciated having all those hot clothes and armour on, but it still slapped across his face and promised all kinds of hell on his nose and lips the rest of the week.

"Ok, let's take a break! Gabrielle, refill the water skins while I check Argo's hoof again. Joxer, I need you to help me out here."

Great, just when he was enjoying the word "break" he had to go and let the horse lean on him again. Why the beast couldn't just lift a leg up was probably another curse from the Tick God. But she'd started limping a couple of hours before, and Xena discovered that not only had she picked up the tip of a blackjack thorn in the right fore, she'd also managed a hairline split sliding off a rock as she suddenly shifted to her left fore when the thorn slipped in. Consequently, they were now traveling very slowly through the evilest forest Joxer had ever experienced. He didn't know whether the slow part was a good thing because it allowed him time to take off his pants every 15 minutes to look for ticks or a bad thing because the slower they went, the more ticks he seemed to pick up. He wondered if Argo was as miserable with ticks as he was, then decided Argo had him beat with her sore feet. Joxer noticed, however, while Argo was leaning heavily on him and slowly crushing him down, that Xena's bare legs moving around somewhere on the other side over there didn't have a single tick on them. Hmm.

"There's still a little drainage, but it's running clear, so at least there's no infection setting in." Xena let Argo's hoof down gently, but that didn't stop her from continuing to use Joxer as a crutch. With a big "umph!", Joxer dug his shoulder into Argo's armpit, if there was such a thing, and she thankfully shifted over before Joxer fell flat with the horse on top of him. He straightened up with a groan and a drip of sweat in his eye and happened to glance over just in time to see Xena make a little flick motion with her fingers on her thigh.

Ah-HA! So THAT'S how they did it. No clothes, no ticks! After Gab got back with the water he kept a careful eye on her, too, and counted several flicks by the time Xena said the break was over. Meanwhile, Joxer was itching like the demons of Tartarus, and couldn't WAIT to get a move on again so he could drop back a little and try out an idea...

"What's wrong with your face?" Gab was suddenly looking very intently at him, but it certainly wasn't one of those looks he'd always dreamed of-- maybe more on the slightly what-a-gross-bug side of of the spectrum of Gabrielle faces, and it make him squirm with embarrassment.

"Looks like poison oak." Xena had glanced up and gone back to rubbing Argo's fetlocks and pasterns down with a mint salve to help ease the pain radiating from her hooves. That was the best thing about Xena- she never gawked or smirked no matter how stupidly Joxer flubbed up, so at least he could keep a little dignity.

"Well, you look like a duck," Gabrielle announced. "Not a wood duck or a mallard. More like one of those fat white farm ducks," she nodded decisively.

"Great, now she thinks I'm a duck!" Jox muttered, and crabbed off to be more alone with his demons while the girls gathered stuff up so they could move on.

As soon as they were out of sight, Joxer tore off all his armour and every stitch of outer clothing he had on, leaving a pair of baggy boxers covered with little smiley faces that his mother had embroidered for him. It wasn't like anyone would see him HERE, in these stupid woods. He tried the flick thing a few times and decided it was fun flicking the little buggers off like little catapults. He flicked off a good 20 or so, then wadded all his gear and clothes together. He had to unroll the wad and grab his blanket out to whack a few ticks off his back that he couldn't reach, and decided that if he tied one end of his blanket around his neck and let it hang down his back, the ticks back there would crawl on the blanket instead of him. He put his helmet back on, girded his sword around his boxers, picked up his gear, and strode much more happily through the now much less evil forest.

And quickly discovered that he'd waited too long to catch up...

Not a problem. They were probably just getting up and over the ridge about now... a ridge. What ridge? He'd been so busy itching and cursing the evil woods that he hadn't noticed whether they were sorta going up, or sorta going down, or sorta staying somewhere in between. Rats! Well, he'd just have to use  his superior tracking skills, that's all. He bent down a little, looking this way, squinting that way, and found several obvious signs that a horse had been through recently. After he finished scraping his boot off with a stick, he stuck out his chin and squared his shoulders and marched resolutely onward.

Marching with resolution is weary work, and an hour of it eventually had Joxer stumbling up and over another ridge. To his surprise, it ended in a tumble of bracken and rocks and stretched into a beautiful valley that would have made an ideal backdrop for a picnic with a beautiful girl, had Gab and Xena not gotten lost somewhere back in those evil woods. The idealness was preempted, however, by a mob of crazed sheep who were caught in a tangle of thorns, and they were both so embedded that the little boy herding them home couldn't pull them out. It looked like a couple of thieves had come along to offer the boy a hand, sheep prices being what they were these days, and they kept knocking him down while they tried to cut the wiry blackberry branches enough for the sheep to be able to at least move forward.

There was no time for contemplation. Joxer threw down his bundle, checked his helmet, brandished his sword, and charged down the rocky slope in full battle cry with his blanket flapping wildly. It was magnificent- he heard himself yelling, "I am the shadow that swoops in the night! I am the radish that sticks in your throat! I am the tick that woaoohhohoooohhhhh!" Joxer slipped, um tripped? Stumbled... no, a warrior catapults, definitely. Joxer catapulted off a loose chunk of rock and for one brief, exciting moment was as airborn as any bird, arms outstretched with his terrible sword, blanket flapping like a thunder god, mouth open in full battle cry.

Well, that was all the sheep needed. They surged hard enough to pull the brambles out by the roots and took off with the little boy chasing close behind. The thieves didn't wait for a second look and took off in another direction, yelling something about leprosy. Joxer hit the ground and slid with his bare body into what remained of the blackberry thicket. When Xena later found him, he was so covered with bites and thorns that Gabrielle gave him a teeny sympathetic peck on his forehead where his helmet had protected him. She didn't want to risk getting poison oak from the rest of his face. They had Joxer tell his story of daring-do several times that night, and the more he embellished it, the more Gabby smiled at him and ducked her head and whispered to Xena, so she must have been pretty impressed with the Mighty Jox.

The little boy had quite a story to tell the villagers that night, too. It had been a rather boring growing season, so the story grew with each telling, about the mighty Tick Man who wore a cape and came swooping out of the forest to save a little shepherd boy and his flock from two swarthy giants. This story became so popular in the region that soon, all the heroes in all the stories had to have a cape and be able to fly or it just wasn't a good hero story.

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There you go.

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