Literature: The Red Vixen Adventures
The Red Vixen Adventures are a series of sci-fi romance novellas by Royce Day that invoke tradtional Age of Sail romances, in space
, with anthropomorphic fox
aliens as the main characters. Tying the novellas together is a pirate who calls herself the Red Vixen, and her relationship to members of the noble House of Darktail.
The current novellas include:
- Captive of the Red Vixen: The first novel. Lord Rolas Darktail finds himself a captive of the infamous Red Vixen, but soon finds himself torn between wishing to stay with her and his duty to his family, who desperately need to escape the cruel countess they serve.
- Shadow of the Red Vixen: Rolas' sister Lady Sallivera Darktail has decided she's recovered enough from the trauma her horrific ex-husband inflicted upon her to leave the homeworld for a lengthy vacation to Earth and other worlds, but her family insists that she take a bodyguard. While initially unwanted Alinadar soon proves her worth and Salli finds herself grateful for her presence, too bad Ali's true mistress has her own plans for Lady Salli.
- Shadow of Her Sins: Once an orphan, then a slave, then a pirate, Alinadar has seemingly found peace in her life serving as Lady Sallivera's bodyguard on a quiet colony world. But that peace is shattered as the sins she committed just to survive come back to haunt her.
- I Fought the Claw and the Claw Won: Taking place in parallel to the second half of "Captive", though containing spoilers to "Shadow". Marturari Greycoat is just an average foxen mercenary pilot earning a living escorting freighters through deep space, until that brings him between the Red Vixen and her savage rival Bloody Margo.
- Action Girl: Sallivera's bodyguard, Alinadar.
- Adrenaline Makeover: Salli gets one when she sets out to rescue her own bodyguard after they're attacked by space pirates.
- Aerith and Bob: Foxen names include Rolas, Sallivera, Alinadar, and Melanie.
- Air Vent Escape: Attempted by Rolas in "Captive", but he finds a note from the Red Vixen and a trap waiting at the grille above the lifeboats. Greycoat in "Claw" also tries it with slightly more success, but comes out in Ali's cabin.
- All Women Are Doms All Men Are Subs: Seems to be the case with Rolas and the Red Vixen's interactions in the books, even if he's a bit reluctant to admit he likes it. However the various shorts on the author's LiveJournal and other sites indicate that Melanie occasionally likes to be tied up and spanked too. While Alinadar is unmistakeably submissive, which Sallivera finds a bit disturbing considering her past.
- A Match Made in Stockholm: Notably the Red Vixen is much more attracted to Rolas than vice-versa. Until he starts dating her true identity.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Salli stops Margo's gloating short with this:
Salli: "Who hurt you?"
Margo: "What do you mean?"
Salli: "Who made you so scared and frightened that the only way you could make yourself feel safe was to make sure everyone else was frightened of you?"
- Arranged Marriage: Salli's marriage to Viscount Highglider. Initially she was perfectly fine with the idea of marrying a countess' heir. It wasn't until after the marriage that she found out her husband's true nature.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Salli combines this with an epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech when she's finally rescued by Melanie.
Salli: One, for interfering in my damned vacation. Two for playing Meddling Auntie with my personal life. Three, for making Rolas wear that ridiculous outfit...
- Badass: Rolas and the Red Vixen both.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Foxen typically don't wear shoes, as noted in Shadow of the Red Vixen when Salli visits South Dakota in winter and has to wear "foot protectors" that she finds highly uncomfortable.
- Berserk Button: Do not attempt to harm a vixen in Rolas' presence.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Lady Melanie who is secretly the Red Vixen, and Sallivera who beats a pirate to death with an iron bar while rescuing Alinadar.
- Bodyguard Crush: Alinadar develops one on Lady Sallivera, though it's not requited until "Shadow of her Sins", and had another unrequited one for her previous mistress The Red Vixen. It turns out towards the end of "Shadow of the Red Vixen" that Melanie was trying to invoke this when she hired Ali to be Salli's bodyguard.
- Broken Bird: Salli at the start of Captive. She gets better, though she still suffers from depression and panic attacks when off her meds.
- Canon Welding: A minor character in "Shadow of Her Sins" turns out to be from Gerwart, an expy of Germany from Day's earlier novella "Prisoners of War", implying that it was set in Foxen Prime's pre-spaceflight era.
- That and the Rolas Darktail in "POW" is the ancestor of the one in this series.
- Can't Spit It Out: Alinadar's whole problem while working for the Red Vixen, as Marty points out.
- Cartesian Karma: In "Shadow of her Sins" Ali is arrested for the crimes she committed as a slave, but is acquitted of most, though not all of them.
- Chained to a Bed: Implied in the epilogue to "Captive".
- Also implied with Marty's antics during his military service: "Drunk, disorderly, and conveniently pre-handcuffed gets you a lot of ribbing when the MP's arrive."
- Chekhov's Gun: In Captive Salli is mentioned reading in the dark thanks to her cybernetic eye's low light vision. In the next story it comes in very handy while she's searching for Ali in the dark and rain.
- Child Soldiers: Alinadar was a child "pirate" after Margo killed her family and enslaved her when she was six. At her trial the judges cite historical precedent of child soldiers and acquits her of all crimes she committed as a minor under duress. And give her a fairly light sentence (lifetime of hard labor, under her present employer and lover) for the twenty-eight counts of interstellar piracy committed as an adult.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: What happens to Alinadar (offscreen thankfully) after she's captured.
- Common Tongue: Galactic Basic, a throwaway line in "Shadow of the Red Vixen" makes it clear that it's not English but that English is still spoken by humans.note And foxen retain at least one language of their own.
- Cute Bruiser: Ali. Her (lack of) height is mentioned frequently, but she is capable of hospitalizing most any other character bare-handed.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Ali and Salli both.
- Deadpan Snarker: Rolas and Marty both dish out plenty of snark to the Red Vixen while they're her captives.
- Democracy Is Bad: In the main novels democracy is seen by foxen as a bizarre human thing, and that their feudal caste system is better because their leaders are trained for the job from birth, if nothing else. While in the distant prequel "Prisoners of War" the nation of Gerwart is a parliamentary republic and portrayed as the foxen version of Nazi Germany.
- Distress Ball: Alinadar and Sallivera trade it back and forth in the "Shadow" novels.
- Distressed Dude: Rolas and Greycoat at certain points.
- Domestic Abuser: Lady Sallivera's ex-husband, Lord Kev Highglider, who beat her for two years, eventually gouging her eye out. Thanks to his mother's influence Kev was only declared violently insane and committed to an asylum, while Salli was so traumatized that she hid herself away for years before her family found an off-world psychologist (foxen psych is very undeveloped) to help her.
- The Dreaded: Bloody Margo
- Drinking Game: The author himself made one.
- Electronic Eyes: Lady Sallivera Darktail's right eye is prosthetic thanks to her ex-husband's abuse, she can make it look like a natural eye of any color but halfway through "Captive" she turns off the camouflage to signify that she's no longer going to hide what happened.
- Erotic Dream: In "Captive of the Red Vixen" Rolas has a dream of being Bound and Gagged by the Red Vixen and his current girlfriend, Lady Melanie, who are holding leashes tied to his manhood and tugging it towards them. Also about as explicit as it gets in the series.
- Evil Is Petty: Bloody Margo, having stripped and bound Salli to a chair, ignores the latter's request for a bucket to throw up in as she gets sick from being stunned twice in a row and having her cybernetic eye pulled out.
- Eye Scream: Happens to Salli twice. Once in her back story as the climax of her husband's abuse, the next in Shadow of Her Sins when Margo pulls out its cybernetic replacement just for the hell of it.
- Fake Arm Disarm: Salli brushes off the loss of her prosthetic eye in Shadow of Her Sins with "the second time the novelty wears off."
- Fantastic Caste System: Foxen are divided into Nobles, Commoners, and Military. Though it seems that everyone is required to serve some time in the military regardless of caste.
- Feudal Future: Foxen society, though the highest level of government appears to be a Council of Countesses and the only noble titles listed below Countess are Viscount(ess) and Lord/Lady.
- Fingerless Gloves: Alinadar's signature item of clothing, they allow her to use her claws in a fight and are loaded with buckshot so her punches have more impact.
- Gayngst: Most averted. Ali angsts a little mostly because she's attracted to Salli and the latter is mostly straight, but she's comfortable with her orientation.
- Gilded Cage: Rolas' cell on the Scarlet Claw resembles a luxury cruise ship cabin, with entertainment center, Auto Kitchen, weights and treadmill.
- Go-Go Enslavement: Male version with Rolas.
- Green Aesop: Minor one in the prequel Prisoners of War, set during Foxen Prime's Steam Punk pre-spaceflight period. The protagonists' home nation uses alcohol fueled steam engines for power, and are disturbed to find their Gerwart captors use coal.
- And excerpts from an upcoming interquel about First Contact with humanity indicates that global warming caused some diplomatic issues when the foxen found out.
- Groin Attack: When teaching her to fight Alinadar tells Lady Sallivera that a knee to the groin is one of the more effective moves to use on males. Then Salli tries it on Ali and it turns out to be pretty effective on females too.
- Happiness in Slavery: Alinadar did not like her service to Bloody Margo but she was practically attached to The Red Vixen, who was much kinder. And leads Melanie to believe that she needs a "mistress", so she sets her up with Sallivera when she plans to retire from piracy.
- Heel-Face Turn: Ali in her backstory. Not that she had to turn very far.
- Honor Before Reason: Why Lu arrested his sister Ali after searching for her for twenty years.
- Hostage Video: Rolas makes one to his parents when first kidnapped by the Red Vixen.
- Humanity Is Insane: The foxen opinion of humans, and humans do have a higher reported rate of mental illness than foxen. However this means that the foxen are ill-equipped to handle those of their kind who do go crazy.
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: In "Shadow of the Red Vixen" Salli has to go through a superluminal transit clinging to the hull of a ship in a spacesuit. At first the jumble of semi-theoretical mathematics is terrifying, but after a few hours it gets boring.
- If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: In "Shadow of her Sins" Bloody Margo makes Alinadar gouge out Lady Sallivera's natural eye to prove that she's sincere about wanting to come back to her crew. Instead Ali stalls long enough for her brother to line up a shot at Margo.
- Impoverished Patrician: House Darktail thanks to Countess Highglider sabotaging their infrastructure out of petty revenge. Part of the reason Rolas was captaining their freighter himself, and why his family couldn't pay the ransom.
- Incompatible Orientation: This is Ali's whole problem while working for the Red Vixen and later Salli. Fortunately the latter decides If It's You, It's Okay.
- Indentured Servitude: Indentured servants are mentioned multiple times, and Alinadar is sentenced to hard labor for her crimes, albeit doing the same job she was doing at the time of her arrest.
- Institutional Apparel: Rolas initially gets the orange jumpsuit during his imprisonment, before his captor decides to start playing dress-up.
- Inter-Class Romance: Salli and Ali.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Marty points out to Alinadar that trying to help the pirates who captured him doesn't make much sense.
- Jerkass Hero: Marty in I Fought the Claw, given his perfect willingness to betray the Red Vixen.
- Karma Houdini: The fact that the Red Vixen is responsible for the death of one the crew of the Sallivera is pretty much dropped after she's seen expressing remorse over it as Melanie.
- To a lesser extent the Highgliders, Kev is simply committed for disfiguring Salli's face while his mother loses her lands and is committed too, but considers that a victory since it reunites her with her son. They even have enough money to post a bounty on Salli in "Shadow of the Red Vixen" but it's later mentioned that they hung themselves after that failed.
- Kick the Dog: Bloody Margo, almost committing it literally when she kicks Salli while the latter is already bound to a chair.
- Lizard Folk: Wazagans, one of the more widespread species along with humans.
- Longevity Treatment: Treatments that reverse aging by decades are mentioned to be commonplace among foxen nobles.
- Long-Lost Relative: In "Shadow of Her Sins" Alinadar meets her long-lost older brother, Commander Lu Blacksailor from the Allied Patrol. Their relationship doesn't stop him from arresting her when he finds out she was a pirate, but he does put in a good word for her though.
- Luke Nounverber: The majority of Foxen names are like this, including Rolas Darktail (a pun on "dark tale" given his family's tragic background), Ali Waterfarmer, Lu Blacksailor, and Kev Highglider.
- Lover and Beloved: Mild example between Salli and Ali. The age difference is only five or six years, and they're both consenting adults. The real gap is in education and life experience, with Ali being a mere Commoner (and a convicted criminal to boot) while Salli is a Countess' heir.
- Made a Slave: Alinadar after she was rescued by the Red Vixen. It Makes Sense in Context. And actually before then when Bloody Margo killed her family and kidnapped her when she was six.
- Matriarchy: Noble inheritance in Foxen society is matrilineal, though there's nothing stopping males from obtaining titles. And one of the short excerpts on the author's LiveJournal indicates that in the military Noble caste vixens can start as officers while males have to work their way up.
- Monumental Damage: The leftmost face (Washington?) on Mt. Rushmore is stated to have worn away, inverted by the Crazy Horse Memorial which has been completed.
- Never Found the Body: What keeps Lu searching for Ali, after the rest of their family was murdered.
- Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters: The Red Vixen's crew only use stunners when boarding, only take the cargo and sometimes the captain for ransom, and leave the ship intact enough to call for help. And even when she starts on her vendetta against House Highglider she allows crews to escape in lifeboats before blowing their ship up. Her rival Bloody Margo, as her name suggests, is far more brutal.
- No Medication for Me: Inverted for Sallivera, who shows a drastic improvement when she starts on anti-anxiety meds.
- The Nose Knows: Foxens place great importance on scent. The Red Vixen wears heavy perfume to prevent identification and Rolas recognizes Melanie as her by taste. And Commander Blacksailor recognizes Alinadar as his long-lost sister by her scent, and the fact that she has living relatives finally breaks through to Ali when he gives her a toy that belonged to his sister which is still saturated with her scent due to being sealed in a plastic bag for twenty years.
- Nuke 'em: Alinadar's suggestion when they spot an encampment of survivor's from Bloody Margo's base in "Shadow of Her Sins". She's dead serious.
- One Head Taller: Salli to Ali
- Petting Zoo People: Foxen, an alien race that resemble humanoid foxes.
- Pirate Girl: The Red Vixen, naturally, and her far more brutal rival Bloody Margo.
- Powered Armor: Used by the Red Vixen's boarders, part of how they're confident enough to only fire stunners.
- Pragmatic Hero: Ali. Her first thought when offered the option of nuking a group of her former pirate comrades is to use it immediately.
- She also sees nothing wrong with stunning Salli, even though protecting the noblevixen was her job, to keep Salli from objecting when Ali had to break cover to distract a group of pirates.
- Precision F-Strike: Ali lets loose with "Frell, frag, fuck!" when she's stopped from running into a potential free fire zone to rescue Lady Salli.
- Private Military Contractors: Marturari Greycoat from "I Fought the Claw...", a mercenary Space Fighter pilot who was hired to guard House Highglider's freighters, which got him in the middle of the Red Vixen and Bloody Margo's feud.
- Property of Love: Played straight, skirted and subverted. Ali wants this in her relationship with the Red Vixen, who thinks she can arrange that between Ali and Salli. Whereupon Salli puts her footpad down, allowing Ali time to get her head together so they can enter a more equal relationship.
- Recruited From The Gutter: How Ali was recruited by the Red Vixen.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Most Foxen nobles spend their time administering their holdings and dealing with the concerns of Commoners in their domain.
- Running Gag: Marty's demands for a pair of pants. He never gets them.
- Scars Are Forever: Played with. Salli can hide the white fur that grows over her scars, but eventually chooses not to.
- Secondary Character Title: The series as a whole and half the individual titles refer to the Red Vixen, a character with very little actual screen time and most of it as her Secret Identity Lady Melanie and the story is never told from her perspective.
- Secret Identity: The Red Vixen is really Lady Melanie
- Settling the Frontier: House Darktail's plan to escape Countess Highglider's petty revenge was to save up enough to buy a fleet of colony ships for themselves and their loyal sworn commoners, which was why they couldn't afford to pay Rolas' ransom in "Captive". But after the Red Vixen helps expose the Countess's crimes they get her lands and the plan is sidelined. Up until Salli claims the planet Bloody Margo was using as a secret base in the "Shadow" books and they start a colony there.
- Shirtless Scene: Rolas while he's the Red Vixen's "Cabin Boy".
- Shock Collar: When captured Rolas is given one that triggers if he goes through his cell's door (but not the vents) without the Red Vixen's permission, or if he gets more than five meters away from her when she takes him for a "walk." Ali is fitted with an ankle bracelet that does something similar when she's arrested.
- Shout-Out: The Red Vixen's self-given title of "The Scourge of the Spaceways"(tm) is from Robert A. Heinlein's book The Rolling Stones, though in there it's referring to a deliberately over the top fictional hero not a space pirate.
- Slave Collar: In Shadow of the Red Vixen, Alinadar wears a silver choker made of interwoven chains to symbolize her ownership by the Red Vixen.
- Space Police: The Stellar Patrol, Lu's employer.
- Space Pirates: Seems to rely a lot on knowing where freighters will drop out of superluminal.
- Stripperiffic: The Red Vixen's outfit is usually a piece of cloth around the waist, a bikini top, and a gun belt
- Submissive Badass: Ali, in the most literal sense of the term, acting as bodyguard and slave to the Red Vixen, and The Champion to Lady Salli.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: "No. No, of course not. Lady Melanie Lovejoy has nothing to do with the Red Vixen."
So, in conclusion, there is no such thing as the Foxen Ministry of Assassination made up of highly trained ex-Military caste Special Forces members. There is no secret Eleventh Countess leading it. It is absolutely 'not' receiving material support from the League of Concerned Commoners, nor are its actions being covered up by the Commoner Media Association and its related news reporting companies.
So stop asking.
You'll be safer for it.
- That Came Out Wrong: Said word for word by Rolas after he arrives at Melanie's home with flowers, and tells her "These aren't for you." (They're actually to place on the grave of a recently deceased crewman from his ship.)
- There Are No Therapists: On Foxen Prime anyways, foxens are supposedly more mentally stable on average than humans so they have very little experience helping those who do develop mental illnesses, House Darktail has to import a psychologist from Earth to help Salli.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Melanie's actions in "Captive" look a lot less romantic in the later stories, as she fails to convince her in-laws that enslaving Ali was the right thing to do.
- Traumatic Haircut: Ali has her entire pelt shaved off after she's captured by Bloody Margo. And then left staked out to die of hypothermia in the cold rain.
- Thrown Out the Airlock: "I Fought the Claw and the Claw Won" starts with Greycoat about to be spaced and reflecting on how he ended up like that. In the end Melanie decides to indenture him to a brothel instead.
- In "Shadow of the Red Vixen" Ali blasts open a docking tube connecting the airlocks of a pirate ship and the liner they were raiding. Sending everyone in the tube, or within close proximity of either airlock, into space.
- Villainous Breakdown: Countess Highglider becomes explosively unhinged towards the end of "Captive" in the end ranting that the Council of Countesses are commoner sympathizers and how she wants her son back, in front of the entire Council, who unanimously vote to have her committed to the same asylum where her son was incarcerated.
- Walking Armory: Alinadar carries two stunners, weighed gloves, a pair of folding knives, and a third, larger knife, and that's just what the starport's security pulled off her, she also had blasting caps and detonators. When she was a pirate she had at least one plasma pistol too.
- We Will Spend Credits in the Future: Rolas' ransom was to the amount of 5 million GSA credits.
- Wig, Dress, Accent: Or in the Red Vixen's case colored contacts, fur dye, heavy perfume, and less clothing than her civilian alter ego.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Salli calls out Melanie and punches her in the nose after finding out she'd enslaved Alinadar in her persona as the Red Vixen.
- Would Hurt a Child: Bloody Margo and Ali.
- Xenofiction: Written from the perspective of distinctly non-human, but relatively close, aliens.