On February 3, 2024, while I was cleaning up my backup hard drives, I found an ancient story from Azuaveria, the world I built and where most of my furry musings take place. This story was never completed, and I had completely forgotten about it in the meantime.

The story itself was last modified on February 15, 2015, with an accompanying “notes to self” document that is dated December 2014 – making this some of the earliest known written material on Azuaveria that has survived to this day. (Azuaveria was first committed to paper back in, like, 2004 – but that stuff’s long gone.)

The document did not have a title beyond “Azuaveria Story” – I will be retroactively calling it “The Green-Tailed Sokuito” going forward.

Chapter 1

The green-tailed sokuito they kept in the University’s biology lab was called Biroka. Her plumage had lost most of its splendor many years ago, but her long, ribbon-like tail was still most certainly green, unlike the far more common ones with brown and orange tails. Azuaverians would feed those sokuitos loose bread crumbs every day at the local park.

Biroka, on the other hand, was kept on a nutritious yet extremely regimental diet, whose every calorie was meticulously tabulated. The few researchers at the University who did actually care about her and the fate of her species relied on her almost exclusively for data. She generated statistics and research papers like no other. It may have seem exploitative, but the alternative would have been Biroka’s death in the hands of a hunter many years ago, when her feathers were brighter and more valuable.

Biroka’s life in the biology lab was filled with these kinds of contradictions. Her food intake was was exceptionally healthy, but controlled. Her space was generously large, but heavily secured behind biometrically locked doors. They gave her plenty of sunlight, but only through a window specially installed in the ceiling. The temperature was perfect and fluctuated just like in the wild, but only while the air conditioner and its controller were functioning.

Engineering Biroka’s private ecosystem was a masterpiece in and of itself. It was a state of the art bio-dome, constructed in what seemed like a true testament to the power of collaboration. Professor Guniverajo (College of Engineering) and her students built the biometric locks. Professor Luka (Department of Mathematics and Computing) and his students designed the automatic air conditioner controller, which took inputs from the next-generation thermometers based on research by Professor Junari (Department of Meteorology). Even Professor Resanu (College of Visual and Performance Arts) and his students got involved, designing what was essentially a museum exhibit on the green-tailed sokuito. But there was only one researcher in the entire university who actually cared about Biroka herself.

Professor Jannon twisted virtually everybeast’s arms and pulled all of their tails in order to get the university to even merely recognize that his work would be remotely important. It took nearly eight years to secure funding from the university, and they still would not reimburse Jannon’s out-of-pocket expenses for keeping Biroka alive that time. Of course, he got the funds, but only very recently, and his brain was still wrapped so tightly with red tape that it would give him headaches. He was exhausted.

Hana could tell. From the corner of her eye, through her bangs, she saw him sitting in his office. He was perusing a letter more intensely and pensively than usual. This distracted her enough such that it took many minutes longer to take all the readings.

Eventually she knocked on the office door, even though it was already open. “Professor?”

“Mm-hmm,” he moaned, still looking at the letter.

“I’ve taken all the readings.”

“You can file them, thanks.”

She slipped the form into the appropriate bin, then asked, “What is that?” She indicated the letter in Jannon’s paws.

“It’s the Azuaverian Commission on Biodiversity again.” He thrust the letter down and, as a reflex, folded his glasses on top of it. “They say the University isn’t entitled to a sandwood tree because its seeds are protected by trade laws, and that it would be a violation of such and such statutes because it would be growing in a nonpublic space, but they obviously didn’t read my request because (a) I don’t want seeds, I want the whole tree, and (b) it’s not a question of entitlement to begin with.” Jannon finally looked up. “She needs a sandwood tree, Hana.”

She did not know how to react.

“And (c) the University is a public space! They still think this whole operation is some lunatic birdbrain’s weird fetish.”

Hana giggled a little. “You’re not a lunatic, Professor. But you are kind of a birdbrain.”

Jannon flashed a stern smile. “Were the readings alright? Anything out of the ordinary?”

“No, Professor.”

“Good, good. Is the new humidity controller backup generator up and running?”

“Yes, it is.” Sometimes Hana did think he was a bit of a lunatic. “I mean, no, it’s not running, because it’s just a backup. I installed it.”

“Yes, yes. That’s what I meant.” He put his glasses back on. “Sorry that I’m all flustered. Everything is moving so quickly all of a sudden. I thought that would mean all of this legal quibbling would just… stop.”

“You’re doing the right thing, Professor,” Hana reassured him. She looked up at Biroka, who was sleeping on her perch behind the glass on the other side of the lab/exhibit. The perch rocked back and forth slightly. It reminded her of the swings at elementary school.

“Unfortunately,” Jannon growled to himself, “other beasts just don’t get it. They don’t get the right thing.” Hana wanted to say something else comforting, but instead, Jannon said: “It’s Friday. Midterm exams begin on Monday. Go home and study or party or whatever it is that you do.”

Hana beamed. “Thank you, Professor! But what about my time card?”

“Just punch the clock, I’ll tell Sahari you were here the whole time.”

“Are you sure?”

“Sure, I’m sure.” He let that stern smile through, again. Hana knew Professor Jannon wasn’t angry at her, but an onlooker might have thought so.

After she punched the clock, she wondered what she would do, study or party or whatever. The last time she had this block of time to herself, she was not yet even a student at the University of Azuaveria. It was somewhere between early and late afternoon, a peculiar time to be doing anything, but also an inappropriate time to do nothing.

This mid-afternoon sun shone through the window in the cieling and into Biroka’s environment. She always slept at this hour. “It’s her siesta,” Jannon would insist. It was so quiet in the lab, Hana could hear the faint, metallic squeak of her perch rocking back and forth, even through the double-reinforced glass. She did not observe Biroka there. Observing was what she did for work. She simply watched. When Jannon pushed back his chair to get up from his desk, Hana nearly told him to keep quiet because the baby was sleeping.

Chapter 2

Hana eventually decided to spend her three free hours at the beach. The wind picked up a bit more than usual, which caused Hana to regret fetching her sarong, but winds were always warm in Azuaveria, even along the coast.

She always preferred to walk along that line where the waves give up and can’t go any further. At least, that’s what her friends called that line. Hana, on the other paw, noticed that the tide gets increasingly higher as the day goes on, all the way through the night, so the waves must have been doing the exact opposite of giving up. They soldiered on, instead. Despite her optimism, she only ever referred to it as “the line.”

But even when she was a little wolf cub, she knew it really wasn’t a line. She realized that if she were to walk along the line all day, back and forth across the beach, the shape of the tracks her paws would make (assuming the tide would not erase them) would not be straight, but rather a tall and thin sinusoidal pattern. And that was her favorite aspect of the beach: this perfect, eternal and cosmically beautiful rhythm that could be created only by nature itself.

Hana often thought about just that while walking along the line, but it also provided an opportunity to think about things in general — that is to say, an opportunity which she did not have for the entire semester thus far. All she ever thought about was school, but such is the life of a student. Her chemistry midterm was coming up, ugh. Anyone who met Hana could tell she was a bit of a scientist and a mathematician, but chemistry made her shiver. Professor Jannon’s lab was the only real lab.


These are all the notes I wrote in preparation for the above story which I could find – December 2014. A curious and rare insight into my thought process at the time.

The green-tailed sokuito has been an endangered species for a very long time. Everyone knows they were hunted in the past. Hana accidentally gets the university laboratory’s green-tailed sokuito injured in a chemistry experiment (she really can’t stand chemistry) and encounters a peculiar reaction with her feathers. This begins a long line of questioning which uncovers the real reason by the sokuito was hunted – their blood has mystical, medicinal properties that have been kept secret for hundreds of years. Also, drug-like properties. It’s not illegal, but just a really well-kept secret.

This is only just becoming a real alarm because the sokuito is a really scarce resource but the underground crime rings need them in order to make money. This surfaces once a very important figure (the Mayor? the Governor?) is killed or missing or something.

It also doesn’t help that Hana is beginning to have a crush on her informer.