The Saint D’Clause1 School for Little Bastards was a bleak and desolate place. Located in the slums of Ballmore2, Yoosah3, it provided a home for orphans, problem children whose parents could not control them, and children taken from the homes of criminals, religious cultists, and liberals. The school was old. Its power beamer was coal-fueled, the children taking turns shoveling. The school computer took up an entire large room, and barely held one gig of memory.
The year was minus 718 (2016 A.D.E.). The day was Twosday of Threesmonth (Wensday, March 44), and the latest snowfall had just ended. George Joseph Herriman Ruth had just turned 17. George was, as he would have said, six feet two, two hundred fifteens pounds5. He was a dark-haired dusky-skinned boy, and had been a resident at Saint D’Clause ever since his parents died in the Boobquakes6 six years ago. He looked strong, and he was even stronger than he looked, so he had the job steam-shoveling the walk. It was hard work, but at least it got him outside. George pulled the lever, shoveled a scoopful of snow, pulled the lever, shoveled snow, pulled the lever, over and over. The orphans had cheap thin jackets, usually with no temp-controls, but George had been working hard enough that he was actually sweating. He stopped for a moment, not because he was tired, but because the steam shovel had started to overheat.
“Hey, George! Hey, George, hey!” Lenny Bruce ran up to the big boy. Lenny was two years younger than George and looked up to him, practically worshiped him. “George, did you hear the &#@%$7 news, George?”
George sighed. He was one of the few children who had patience with the short, thin, excitable boy, but even he had limits. “What now, Lenny? Another Elvish8 sighting?”
“Not this time, George. George, did you hear? The &#@%$ New Yawk Kinkys9 are coming! They’re coming here! George, they’re doing a &#@%$ benefit for the &#@%$ school, George.”
“Why you gotta swear all the time, kid? Ya know it doesn’t really make you sound grown-up.”
“George, they’re only the greatest man-tank gladiator team of all time!”
“I don’t know, George. Maybe. Some &#@%$ team’s gotta be… I mean, some team’s gotta be the greatest. Why not them?”
“Can’t really argue with that. Anyways, ain’t I had enough of man-tanks? I just got off a man-tank-duty yesterday.”
“Tell us about the man-tanks, George,” said Lenny. By now Jim Morrison and Hedy Lamarr, two more residents, both about George’s age, had joined them. Jim and Hedy were arm-in-arm. George and Jim were good friends, so George tried not to feel jealous.
Like most institutions of the time the Saint D’Clause School had its share of man-tanks, used primarily for heavy lifting or reaching heights. Motorized Age man-tanks were particularly finicky, and the children were required to maintain them themselves. Naturally, these man-tanks were unarmed, and typically in poor shape.
“Think our man-tanks could take ’em?” asked Jim. With his long brown hair that refused to stay tidy, cubic-bow lips10, lean physique, and knack for poetry he could have any girl at Saint D’Clause. So why did he have to go after Hedy, George wondered. George forced himself not to think anymore about it.
“Yeah,” said Hedy. Dark-haired, green-eyed, she was serious, passionate, and unselfconsciously beautiful. “We could put together a wildcat team11.”
“Could we, George, could we?” Lenny was just about jumping up and down.
“Why you guys asking me?”
“‘Because if we ask Legree he’ll say no,” said Hedy, and Jim added, “but if you ask him…” Simon Legree was their schoolmaster. He was strict, bordering on cruel. He hated children and would have been disappointed if they had not hated him back. He was rarely disappointed.
“He’ll still say no,” finished George.
“Yeah, George, but you know how to ask him so he’ll say yes.”
 Saint D’Clause was one of the gods of Commercialism, the leading religion at the time. Saint D’Clause supposedly gave gifts to good children. He gave wealthier children more and better toys, because according to Commercialism rich people were inherently better than poor people. But Saint D’Clause did not neglect the poorer children completely. He gave them gifts of sticks and coal to burn to keep warm in the winter. Please note that mentions of various religions and mythologies are included for historical accuracy, and are in no way a challenge to the Sovereignty of the One True God, KRG, or the rulership of Her 12 Warrior Priests. All Hail KRG! Return to 1
 The name may have changed over time. It may originally have been Baltmore or Baltimorioles. Return to 2
 Yoosah was a large territory, encompassing much of what is now known as the Markan continent. Return to 3
 Although we cannot be certain of the exact date, I have chosen March 4 because the ancients believed it to be an auspicious day to begin anything. Hence the phrase, “to march forth.” Return to 4
 There were two major measurement systems for lengths in use. The Yoosah system was based on feet. Other regions based their system on hands. Other body parts were also used, as appropriate. For weights, they used either pounds or dollars. In modern terms, he was 124 spo tall and he weighed 20 tares and 3 dets. This was large for a male at that time. Return to 5
 The Boobquakes were a series of earthquakes that the primitive ancients believed were caused by angry gods offended by human behavior. It would be many centuries before people would learn that most natural disasters are actually caused by the gGrt. May the gGrt be forever damned! Return to 6
 An ancient vulgarity, meaning unknown. Pronounced “rassin-frassin-ding-dang”. Return to 7
 People still believed that Elves used to exist, but that the last one had died many years ago. A very few people believed that Elves still lived, eating peanut-banana-butter sandwiches and making blue suede shoes. Return to 8
 Remember that the word kink merely meant “curly” or “curved.” It had not yet acquired a sexual connotation. The New Yawk Kinkys were named for the curly hair styles many of their founding players sported. Other formerly innocent words that have gained prurient meanings include gay (mirthful), pink (light red), and political (governmental). Return to 9
 A cubic-bow was a bow thick enough that it was noticeably three-dimensional. Thus, cubic-bow lips were lips that were deep and full. Return to 10
 Back in those days professional teams often faced off against amateurs. The reason why the amateur team was always named “Wildcats” has been lost. Barnstormer teams would travel the lands, playing each other or local “wildcat” teams. They were called “Barnstormers” because of their habits of storming into barns and challenging the local farmers to matches. Return to 11