Technical-Class Donors: Episode 3

Pigasso hurries down the broad sidewalk of New Washington's premier military academy, a portfolio of sketches under his arm. He's ~~ excited ~~ at the prospect of having paying work, and has spent a great deal of time refining his sketches from the rough initial concept he submitted with his bid.

Captain Waxley is sitting in the conference room where he and the Colonel he's been seconded to for the purpose are reviewing the final plans for the artwork for the lobby redecoration project. He'd rather be doing something more active and military than dealing with the fourth artist of the day.

Colonel Monterra yawns and stretches. Plumbing contractors, uniform contracts, bullet manufacturers. It hasn't been an enjoyable morning. He'd hoped that this afternoon, dedicated to sorting out the art for the lobby, might be more enjoyable. But after talking to a marble sculptor and two woodworkers, he's ready to go back to plumbing.

Pigasso asks directions, and before long is shown into the conference room.

Pigasso: Good afternoon, Colonel. Professor Pigasso, at your service.

Waxley nods, willing to be as self-effacing as necessary.

Monterra: Professor Pigazzo. Sit, sit. Let's see what you've got for us.

Monterra isn't about to waste all day on civilian niceties.

Pigasso decides that's a close enough version of his name, and opens his portfolio with a flourish.

Pigasso: The theme is the Battle of Shen, of course, and I have a number of prospective scenes here.

Monterra nods briskly.

Pigasso: For that big wall space by the entrance, I thought I'd put the command tent, with fighting in the background.

Pigasso spreads out the relevant sketches, one a large overview, the others close-ups of various aspects.

Waxley puts on a serious look and ostentatiously makes a note on his clipboard: Wall. Fighting.

Monterra glances at the sketches.

Pigasso prides himself on the artistic flourishes he's added to the unpromising beginning of Gerrhonot and the three young Simes, amateur models all.

Monterra: Aren't these exactly the same as you submitted with your initial bid?

Pigasso: Not at all. I've added considerable detail, as you see.

Waxley rather likes the effect of the robust General Dermott contrasted to the scrawny Simes.

Monterra: Hmmm.

Monterra looks more closely.

Pigasso: For instance, in the distance, there are Simes going over the walls of the city, moving to attack.

Monterra: Aren't the Simes a bit skinny, even for Simes?

Waxley thinks the woman delivering the message is flat as a board, but he's not too keen on the idea of female soldiers, anyway.

Pigasso: Actually, the figures closely resemble some actual Sime models. They apparently don't have much bulk, especially the women. I could add a bit more muscle to them if you wish, however.

Monterra: I'm not sure about using women at all in a scene like this, Dr. Pigallo.

Waxley nods in agreement.

Waxley: It might create the wrong impression, for our cadets.

Pigasso: Ah, of course. I see the difficulty.

Waxley makes a note: No tits.

Monterra: And the tentacles. You've got to make the tentacles bigger, or they won't show from a few feet away.

Pigasso: Have you ever seen Sime tentacles, Colonel? I thought they were large, too, but it turns out they're tiny things. You wouldn't think they could hold a puppy, just looking at them.

Monterra: This isn't about real Simes, Mr. Piganno, this is about art. Can't tell the Simes from the Gens if you can't see the tentacles. And most viewers won't be standing nose-to-wall with the mural.

Waxley makes a note: Tentacles. Big. Art.

Pigasso: I do have a larger close-up of tentacles in this scene.

Monterra: Let's see it.

Pigasso shows the picture of the donating Gerrhonot-soldier, which emphasizes the tentacles nicely.

Waxley: That's a female soldier again.

Waxley wants to reinforce Monterra's complaints.

Pigasso: A female channel, like Risa Tigue. The soldier is a man.

Waxley: Still, on a battlefield...

Waxley shrugs. It's obvious that women have no place there.

Pigasso: The battlefield will be on the opposite wall.

Waxley: The whole mural is the Battle of Shen, isn't it?

Pigasso: Yes, but along with the battlefield itself, it shows the support areas: the hospital tent -- I've got Klyd Farris working there -- the camp, and so on. I thought it would be appropriate to show the whole of the soldier's life, not just the moments of battle.

Waxley: And the female Sime is so small. It looks like the Gen could break her in half. It's not very inspiring to see our heroic soldiers battling a bunch of scrawny midgets.

Waxley has noted Monterra's attitudes and strives to mimic them.

Pigasso: I could make her taller, I suppose.

Monterra: No women, Mr. Pigarro, not even at the hospital tents.

Pigasso: But Risa Tigue was a woman. She has to be in the mural, surely? Dressed as a diplomat, perhaps?

Pigasso is counting on the military contempt for peacemakers.

Waxley glances at his superior officer and takes the offensive.

Waxley: This is a military academy, Professor, not a school for diplomats.

Pigasso: Ah, but the military appears much more heroic when it can be contrasted with civilians.

Monterra: Miz Tigue's husband, as I recall, was a large muscular man. Much more suitable to include.

Pigasso: I'm reliably informed that she hardly ever left his side.

Monterra shrugs.

Waxley taps his wristwatch.

Monterra: Very well, then. For historical accuracy, you may have a sleeve showing from behind Mr. Tigue's body, and say that that's Miz Tigue. What else do you have for us?

Pigasso: This scene of camp life -- that's the hospital tent in the background.

Pigasso points to a small tent that will obviously be too small to show in detail. He's well aware that the prospect of casualties is not considered appropriate for military artwork.

Monterra: Good. Keep it in the background like that. Focus on the heroic aspects of the situation.

Pigasso: Certainly. For instance, this section emphasizes heroism.

Monterra squints at the sketches.

Pigasso shows his sketch of the heroic Gerrhonot-cavalryman fighting off the snarling juncts.

Monterra: Isn't this the same soldier you had donating over there?

Pigasso: It's the same model, yes. I'd planned to make one of him blonde, and one black-haired. I could add a bit of a fold to the latter's eyelids, if you like.

Waxley: Those Simes look like a bunch of little yapping dogs. Ankle-biters, not a real threat.

Pigasso: A wolf is small, too, compared with a man, but that doesn't make it less dangerous.

Waxley waves that aside.

Pigasso: I could make the expressions a bit more... snarly, if you like?

Monterra: That would be good.

Waxley: Simes look like men. In a man-to-man fight, a little scrawny fellow doesn't look like much of a match for a strong robust soldier like our troops.

Monterra: Yes. Make the Simes bigger.

Pigasso decides that he's not getting paid for accuracy.

Pigasso: All right.

Monterra: Now what's this over here?

Pigasso: A channel giving transfer to a Sime soldier. They're both male, as you see.

Waxley: Disgusting.

Pigasso: I could make that channel female?

Monterra: No, not female. Maybe you could catch them in the moment before lip contact?

Pigasso: Certainly.

Waxley thinks all those intertwined slimy tentacles look disgusting enough even apart from the kiss.

Pigasso: I did think it was important to illustrate just why our soldiers were being required to donate.

Monterra: [reluctantly] I can't fault that.

Monterra would, however, very much like to.

Waxley: Where were you planning to place this scene?

Monterra: Somewhere relatively inconspicuous, I trust.

Waxley: Not that the less mature students won't get a few giggles over it. Wherever it is.

Pigasso: Perhaps above the window? There's a space of a suitable size there, I believe.

Monterra: Yes, above the window. And keep the body language crisp. Businesslike.

Pigasso: Of course.

Monterra: Now about the horses. The horses are good. But we want to emphasize the heroic soldiers on them, not the horses themselves. Maybe something in your use of color and shading?

Pigasso: You'd prefer bays or duns, to white or palomino?

Monterra: I think that would be best.

Pigasso: I'd still like to have General Dermott's horse black -- it makes it easier to spot him.

Monterra glances to Waxley for a second opinion.

Waxley: I agree: the soldiers, not their mounts. Horses don't win battles. But yes, General Dermott's black charger was famous.

Monterra: One black among the bays and duns... Yes that would work, I think.

Pigasso: Good. One more thing, Colonel. It's traditional, in a mural of this sort, to have the sponsors' faces incorporated into the scene. Have you a preference as to which soldier should bear your face?

Monterra studies the spread of sketches, then points to a rider at the head of a large group of cavalry.

Monterra: This one, I think. With the appropriate insignia, of course.

Pigasso: Certainly.

Pigasso leans over and does a quick sketch of the colonel's face next to the figure.

Pigasso: And you? [to Waxley]

Waxley: Oh, I'm just the Colonel's aide. You don't have to include me as a sponsor.

Waxley hopes this will come across as becoming modesty. He's also close enough to academy himself to imagine what the students will make of any identifiable local officers in the mural.

Monterra: My superior, General Hlavik, should be in there, though.

Pigasso: What sort of pose would the General prefer?

Monterra isn't really all that fond of his boss.

Monterra: How about that one?

Monterra points to a man clustered with the leaders, but standing with his face almost superimposed upon a horse's backside.

Pigasso: I can do that.

Monterra: You can sketch the General's face from a portrait down the hall that Waxley can show you on your way out.

Waxley makes a mental note to have Pigasso move the horse, just in case Hlavik notices the reference and any reaction comes back in his own direction.

Pigasso: Very well.

Pigasso: Is there anything else you can see that might be an issue with the General?

Monterra: What are these? They look like a cluster of beggars.

Pigasso looks at the line of poorly dressed figures crossing an open area in the town.

Pigasso: That's a group of doomed Gens from the junct Simes' Pen. I thought it was appropriate to show why the battle was being fought.

Monterra: Ah. Can we go with "ragged finery" instead of simply rags?

Waxley: Captive soldiers should be portrayed as defiant, not defeated, wouldn't you say, Colonel?

Monterra: Definitely. I was about to get to that. The body language, the facial expressions... fix them, Piganno.

Pigasso scribbles another note.

Pigasso: Is there anything else?

Waxley: The general is rather fond of sabers... but nothing too messy looking, of course.

Pigasso: I could put a few extra sabers in, I believe.

Monterra: Yes. Excellent suggestion, Waxley. Put some sabers in.

Pigasso: In fact, I could have a cavalryman using his saber to fend off a whip -- I'm told the Simes used a lot of whips.

Monterra frowns, considering.

Monterra: We wouldn't want anything that suggests... sadism.

Waxley agrees. Good clean manly murder and maiming of the enemy are entirely different.

Pigasso: True. On the other hand, it's historical, and it would make the tentacles look larger.

Monterra: Just make the tentacles larger, Pigallo. Keep it clean.

Pigasso: All right.

Monterra: Anything else, Waxley?

Pigasso is busy planning out ways to change the perspective to emphasize the tentacles.

Waxley: I don't believe so, Colonel. And the contractor with the designs for the floor mosaics will be here in ten minutes.

Monterra: Very well, then. We'll see the revised sketches in two weeks, Pigatto?

Pigasso: I'll have them for you then, yes.

Monterra: Captain Waxley will show you the General's portrait on your way out, then. Good day, Dr. Pigazzo.

Waxley stands and waits for Pigasso to put his drawings back in his portfolio, then ushers him to the door.

Monterra sighs and reaches for the file on the mosaics.

Return to Table of Contents