Somewhere in China in the year 2055 when the peach trees were in bloom, two lazy, red-furred foxes, Hua Li Chang and De Yong Wu, sat languidly in the shade, talking about the passage of their two-hundred year birthdays. They laughed about the passage of time in the forest, far away from human lands and kings and their wondrous inventions. They reminisced about what they had seen in that time. As the sun started to descend in the sky, as the shadow of the trees overhead grew longer, De looked at Hua thoughtfully.
“I have heard rumors of something special going on in the kingdom of men,” De said wistfully. “The kingfisher came by the other day and told me of a fleet of turquoise and silver ships going higher than the sky to some new world or other that the people, not just the humans in our land, had discovered years ago. They’re looking for volunteers to go, to fly, to the stars.”
“But why?” asked Hua. “The whole idea sounds so strange.”
“Indeed, that’s what I said to the kingfisher, but I overheard some people walking through the forest the other day talking about it. It seems they now live up there, somewhere.”
“Really? I wish we could go. It might be nice.” Hua yawned and rolled over, as if to nap.
“Of course, we can. Or have you forgotten our special privileges?” De said excitedly.
Hua barely stirred.
“Since we’re over one hundred years old, we can choose to become human. We can become human, a winsome girl or a male wizard, through our magic.”
“I can’t recall any foxes I know who have done that,” Hua said, sitting back up to look at De. “If we can, why haven’t we done it before?”
“It’s an ancient saying among the people of our land. We never had a good enough reason to want to become human until now. We see the stars every night and humans almost never.”
“I don’t suppose you heard that saying in the forest as well.” Hua yawned again.
“Just make up your mind which you’d like to be. We can go to the stars.”
“I would like to be a pretty young girl,” Hua said.
Before De’s eyes, Hua transformed into a delicate beauty, a human woman no older than twenty-five dressed in a cloak of peach blossoms.
“In that case,” De said, “I’d like to be a wizard.”
A moment later, De transformed into a little old man with a long, thin white beard.
“Where do we go to take this ride to the stars?” Hua asked.
“The kingfisher said we had to go to the village an hour’s walk from here.”
They went off into the forest together, seeking adventure, stealing some clothes along the way from a clothesline hanging outside a peasant’s house. In the village where the kingfisher said they should go, Hua and De found a notice explaining the mission rumored throughout the forest. It described a mission in the very turquoise and silver flying ships De admired, going to a place called Oceanus Procellarum, ordered by the presidents of other countries neither fox fairy had ever heard of, to live in the new lunar colony there. The notice had a number to call to try out for the mission. The old wizard and the young woman walked over to the post office, notice in hand, to make the call.
Excerpted from "The Vulpecula Cycle" by Wendelin Gray. Copyright © 0 by Wendelin Gray. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.