Storyline of 21st Century Fox
The following is a synposes of the webcomic series 21st Century Fox from its inception in 1999.
- Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
Jack Black, a fox, and Cecil Stuart, a giraffe, are travelling from town to town in Jack’s Ford Thunderbird, working as field engineers for TLATech. One night, while they are performing at open mike night at Café Kimba, Cecil meets a pair of lady giraffes, Barb Kendall and Beth Regina, and immediately makes an impression on them. Jack, however, is reminded of his inability to make an impression on a vixen.
A moment later, an unknown vixen walks into the café and immediately makes an impression on him, but leaves before Jack musters the courage to talk to her. He is further discouraged when he finds out that the mystery vixen is an engineer and a gearhead like him, but being female, is "as rare and precious as diamonds and more sought after than magnetic monopoles," and therefore almost certainly in a relationship already.
The next day, Jack and Cecil are on the road again, and Barb and Beth go into their jobs at Lockheed Martin Textron, where they meet one of their coworkers – the mystery vixen! It becomes apparent that she is just as gun-shy as Jack when it comes to relationships.
Jack and Cecil have encountered many challenging situations in their jobs, including the pint-sized offices of Advanced Miceco Devices (and equally small technician Joe Maus) and the laboratory of (very!) mad scientist Dr. Tangent, but they soon are faced with an even greater challenge: Hurricane Liska, which is quickly approaching the Gulf Coast of Texas. Also facing Liska is the mystery vixen from the café, whose part-time employer, Bali Hai Aviation, is on backup search-and-rescue duty.
Inevitably, the call comes in for a rescue. Jack, an injured Cecil, and several others are trapped on top of a highway overpass that is getting smaller and smaller as floodwaters rise. The mystery vixen takes off in a Cessna Kingfisher tilt-rotor rescue plane in the company of Veronica Desmond, a vampire bat paramedic friend of Cecil’s.
At the overpass, the mood is tense, sometimes interrupted by characters’ renditions of Gilbert & Sullivan songs with interesting lyrics. The pressure exerted on Jack gets stronger when he discovers that his Thunderbird has sustained heavy damage and that he has been unanimously voted "alpha" - he is now responsible for everybody’s lives. Thankfully, the Kingfisher arrives; unfortunately, even after dumping both fuel and equipment, the craft would still be about a hundred pounds overweight with everybody on board. Bravely, Jack decides to remain.
After safely delivering everybody to the airport, the mystery vixen returns to rescue Jack, who, thanks to his car’s ultralight construction, has managed to keep himself and the ditched equipment afloat. After finding out that everybody is safe, Jack’s adrenaline runs out and he promptly falls asleep.
When he awakes, he and the mystery vixen discuss his current project for TLATech: a three-hundred kilometre tall "Buckyvator" tower, to be used to launch satellites and for use as a generator using energy from the solar wind. Just before she is about to introduce herself, Jack falls asleep again.
Upon awaking in the hospital, Jack first arranges for his mechanic, Craig Breedlove, to pick up his car for a heavy overhaul, then goes on a search for Cecil. He finds Cecil in the company of Barb, Beth, and the mystery vixen, whose identity is revealed: Dr. Jenny Curtis, PhD (advanced aerospace propulsion — she’s a rocket scientist). Cecil’s skull is fractured at one of his horns, and he requires a reinforcing pin to correct the problem, requiring a concealed carry permit. This puts him in the middle of a morals debate with an anti-weapons activist and a pro-weapons activist.
While Cecil recuperates from his operation, Jack and Jenny go to the garage to find out what shape Jack’s car is in. Jack tries conversation, but Jenny seems very secretive about herself. Things don’t improve when Jack discovers that they are being followed. After escaping their followers, they arrive at the garage. Jack’s car is heavily damaged, and needs to be re-engined. Thanks to Craig’s connections at Ford, the new engine will be a twin Magneto-Hydrodynamic Turboshaft–but with the afterburners removed to make it street-legal. In exchange for the engines, Jack, Cecil, and Jenny need to deliver two classic cars that Craig and Earl Jeffries at Ford are swapping. On the way there, they drive a 1907 roadster quickly nicknamed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. On the way back, a 1923 American LaFrance fire engine.
During the trip to the Ford engine test plant, Jenny begins to trust Jack, something she has a lot of trouble doing. However, on the way back, she shows signs of closing up again, especially after the others joke about bionic implants. She claims that she has bad memories of a friend who required bionics after a test plane crash, and whose behaviour changed completely for the worse.
Her memories become even more vivid and painful when she, Jack, and Cecil find themselves required to save people in a major car crash involving a burning explosives truck and a drunk driver lion; the driver gets in a fight with Jack and loses, the lion dying in the process.
Afterwards, Jenny blames herself for causing the fight between Jack and the drunk lion. She fears that Jack is angry with her and blames her, but he doesn’t. Jenny confesses that the friend who was in the accident was actually her boyfriend, who got jealous easily, got in fights over her, and then vented his anger by verbally and physically abusing her. Jack reassures her that he isn’t angry with her, and promises not to get in fights over her, but the scars still remain. Fortunately, Jenny trusts Jack a lot more.
While on their way home after the accident, Jack, Jenny, and Cecil make a stop at the location of one of Jenny’s projects: Kenedy Spaceport. However, Jack is detained by security because of an inconsistency in his paperwork. Ever since he defeated the lion in a "duel," under leonine species law, Jack has officially been a lion, because lions refuse to admit defeat to any other species. His papers reflect this change, but he is still a fox. The only way he can enter the Spaceport is if he becomes a member of Jenny’s "skulk," similar to a wolf pack. This is a great sign of trust for Jenny, especially as it requires scent-marking, but they are both willing to be closer together. Unfortunately, while in the process of scent-marking, they are discovered by Col. Tora Scobee, head of the Spaceport’s security — and Jenny’s abusive ex-fiancé.
Jenny initially cowers in fear at his continuing verbal abuse, but soon gets strong enough to tell him that, once and for all, they are over. Tora threatens them both until Barb, Beth, and Cecil arrive–all of whom are more than ten feet (30.5 m) taller than him and could easily "play Monty Python with his skull", her foot replacing the Foot of Cupid in the panel, crushing Tora. With his pride sprained, Tora backs away.
Jack soon becomes welcome at the Lockheed Martin Textron offices at the Spaceport, even upgrading the software on the Lindbergh space probe, which uses ramjets designed by Jenny. While Jenny works, Jack also manages to find an alternate site for the three-hundred kilometre tower, not far away from the Spaceport. He and Jenny become much closer, as do Barb, Beth, and Cecil, who are now engaged. Unfortunately, the happiness comes to an abrupt halt when Jack is kidnapped by lions at the Spaceport. Tora was in the process of giving the order to shoot down the getaway plane with Jack onboard, but was knocked out by Beth. Unfortunately, due to Tora Scobee's titanium skull, Beth chipped a hoof as a result.
Jack’s captors are the Rutherington-Smythe family of Britain, owners of the DeBeers mining corporation. When Jack defeated their son Lance in the fight, he inherited a position on DeBeers’ board of directors, all of Lance’s possessions, and several enemies, none of whom the Rutherington-Smythes want in their family or their company. Jack doesn’t want it, but the only way he can legally get out of his predicament is by losing to another male lion in a duel. He could abdicate to a female lion, but it won’t be recognized by the lions’ traditional and restrictive laws on women. These lions are especially troublesome as they are Kenyan by birth, and more traditional than most other lions.
Jack and the lioness that kidnapped him, his "sister" Galore, plot to enable Galore to replace Jack on DeBeers’ board and in the Rutherington-Smythe family’s line of inheritance. Their plot involves a geothermal power plant to extract precious metals from seawater on the Gulf Coast of Texas, and along the way they make an enemy within the company — Arthur Andersen, DeBeers’ Chief Financial Officer. Jenny crosses the Atlantic to join Jack, and she, Jack, Galore, Galore’s father (the CEO of DeBeers), and other DeBeers executives make their way to Texas to observe the groundbreaking ceremony of the metals extraction plant.
When they all arrive in Texas, Galore meets an American lion, John King, and is impressed by the way American lions treat their women compared to British and Kenyan lions. Jack and Jenny told her that things were different in America, but she wasn’t expecting this. She is now more and more interested in staying in America. Jenny, meanwhile, is still having doubts about Jack because of her past experiences with Tora, but after a conversation with Beth, decides that she is ready to leave her past behind and can fully trust Jack.
At the groundbreaking ceremony for the plant, a tunnel boring machine being used for the project starts operating without being controlled by its operator. It appears that the machine is running out of control, but in fact, it is being operated by Arthur Andersen, who is trying to sabotage the project and wrestle control of the company away from the Rutherington-Smythes. When that doesn’t work, he tries to shoot anyone he can, but Cecil remotely enables the safety lock. In the end, Arthur Andersen ends up under a large mound of earth–placed on top of him by a bulldozer controlled by Jack.
In the hospital, Jack discovers from Galore’s father that by defeating Arthur Andersen in a duel (when he was really just trying to save himself), Jack has also inherited Andersen’s possessions, job, and wives. Jack, frustrated, abdicates his position to Galore, which is illegal in Britain but not in America. Fortunately, Galore has no intention of going home.
Afterwards, things begin to settle down. Cecil, Barb, and Beth get married at last, and have their honeymoon at the hotel on the Rutan Space Station. There, Cecil meets a pair of familiar faces: Joe Maus and Veronica Desmond. While Jack and Cecil were having fun in a hurricane and delivering vintage cars, Joe got a job with Applied Marsupials and was assigned to their silicon wafer manufacturing facility on the Moon. There, he met Veronica, an EMT trying to become a doctor. The two became close friends and wanted to be more than friends, but did not say anything to each other because of Applied Marsupials’ no fraternization policy. However, after aiding in a spacecraft crash rescue, they admit their feelings to each other. Their boss, realizing what is going on, sends them to Rutan Space Station on a vacation because of their “post-traumatic stress syndrome” from the recovery mission.
Meanwhile, back on the Earth, Jack is observing the beginning stages of TLATech’s 300 kilometre tall tower. A major problem is the hundreds of thousands of pieces of space junk littering the atmosphere that could possibly strike the tower and damage it. The solution is getting access to the flightpaths of space junk in lower orbits to intercept them and clear them out of the way. The problem is the only person they can get help from is Col. Tora Scobee.
He reluctantly agrees to help, and is paired up with Ayesha Ansari, a Bengal tiger, who takes an instant dislike to him — and vice-versa. His antagonistic shell begins to crack when he finds out that Ms. Ansari has cybernetic implants like he does, and at her encouragement, he begins to ponder biological alternatives to his cybernetic limbs.
Problems begin to arise when members of the Disney Fundamentalist Church protest the construction of the tower. The Disney Fundamentalist Church is, at its core, anti-technology, but normally peaceful. The real worry lies in a sect led by terrorist John Walker Bambi, who attempts two intercepted terrorist attacks against the project, injuring several (including Ms. Ansari and Jenny’s boss) but killing only a handful of his followers — not that he misses them.
Jack and Col. Scobee reluctantly work together and team up with security agency SHADO to prevent further damage and arrest John Walker Bambi, which they do. Bambi is speedily put on trial and imprisoned on public display to humiliate him in front of everybody.
Afterwards, Jenny is asked by her boss to testify before Congress about Promethius II, a space-faring rocket which is powered by nuclear fusion. Once mentioning anything "nuclear" the more fearful Congress critters flee. However, a ram tries to attack the private-sourced project that would transport material away from the planet, progressing into a filibuster as many attacks fail. Jenny then spooks the congress critter ram by saying "Nuclear," who runs away in terror. Promethius II passes Congressional approval, with one dissent, and Jenny heads back for some downtime with Jack...
However an old request of Jenny's is put through: Her request to be transferred to an orbital ship yard to get away from Col. Scobee. Jenny and Jack have to deal with a very-long distance relationship (spanning over a light year), with Jenny taking most of the stress and Jack discovering he gets rather space sick during one of Jenny's zero-G training flights.