Monday, December 26, 2022

Here's To You Jessicabelle Dayafter

 By Bixyl Shuftan

When I began hanging out at the Woodlin community in Summer 2008, among those I ran into was Jessicabelle Dayafter. A number of the people there stood out in their own way. Jessicabelle as a skunkgirl naturally did so with her distinctive black and white pattern, though for the first few years I knew her, her coat was the reverse of what one would usually see on a skunk. 
Jessicabelle was normally quieter than the other skunk in Woodlin: community leader, Dax Loon who could be manic-happy (and sadly, depressed at times) and was one of the DJs there. But she had a love for military history and firepower, and occasionally a "boom" could be heard as she fired off the cannon at her place. Once she and her friend Megatheron went around blasting their bazookas. They were harmless as this wasn't a combat sim, but they made for a lot of fireworks. I called them the "boom-boom girls" for a while after that. At the time, she was partnered with Salem De White (Selene Spellhunter), who was part of the Giant Snail Races.

Sadly these good times did not last forever, and Woodlin fell apart in late Winter/early Spring 2010. At the time Jessicabelle was taking a break, following paying for her spot six months in advance, and was shocked to return to a random area and finding her LM home no longer worked, "What the hell happened?" I think she got a place at the Foxworth community where many of us went, but also spent much time away from the quiet community, either flying or somewhere at a place she could fire her guns. Jessica's happy times with her partner would also end, the two parting ways.

In Fall 2010, she would show me the New Bastogne WW2 Combat Roleplay area, and invite me to take part. Some of the groups didn't allow furry avatars, or would restrict them to lower-level positions. But the German Air Group, led by Vickster Kuhn, didn't mind if you had a tail or not as long as you could fit into the cockpit. So for a little while I was her wingman in the Luftwaffe. 
To those who might raise an eyebrow at this, I recalled pilots in "Top Gun" playing the part of Soviet planes as the OpFor (opposition force) in training exercises. Plus in my Star Wars roleplaying campaigns, one of my friends would occasionally play the part of an Imperial, the extraordinary circumstances in which the players met giving her reason to play nice with "Rebel scum." As one video game character in Wreck-It-Ralph" would put it, "Just because you're the bad guy doesn't mean you're a, bad guy,"
Jessicabelle wasn't always wearing a gray uniform, though. She would sometimes be in other uniforms, such as the 100th Anniversary of Anzac Day in which she was in a British pilot's outfit.

Eventually I would leave the combat RP as a regular, but would occasionally drop by to support Jessicabelle, sometimes as the gunner in her dive bomber. I would also cover events such as the tank race and the "World of Tanks" tribute. But these were not all happy times. The Waffen SS group had given me bad vibes, and eventually these feelings were confirmed when one tried to arrest one of the furs in the Luftwaffe for being "out of uniform" - her having on a necklace from a close friend. Jessicabelle, who was there, angrily told him to leave. Eventually Vickster would get involved, and the guy trying to make the arrest was disciplined by being knocked down a rank, vindicating Jessicabelle. 
Eventually Vickster would step down as head of the Germain air team, and appoint Jessicabelle as the new commander. She would lead it for two years. She would also go on to develop her own line of combat aircraft, such as a Stuka made to fight tanks, which were lighter in prims and scripts then some others. They were criticized by some in the combat RP as unrealistic, "UFOs" they were called. But I found them easy to fly and less prone to lag. There would also be a "Dayfter Areonautics" plane rezzer at Farshore field for a while.

Through me she met up with Nydia, and they quickly became friends, Jessica becoming one of Nydia's Angels. She would help Nydia by appearing in calendars and videos. Although a lesbian, she didn't mind showing off for guys, and would post some pictures and art of herself on her Furaffinity page, both well-dressed and revealing. Probably the video she was best known for was Nydia's tribute to Jessica Rabbit's "Why Don't You Do Right." We would also have numerous fun times such as one rezzday party we threw for her.

I saw her somewhat less as time when on, but we never did lose touch. There were times she was feeling down, but she would always bounce back. I would last hear from her in August 2021 when she posted in Nydia's channel that she had tested positive for Covid. I and others were optimistic for her recovery. Sadly that was not to be. Nydia was contacted by someone who told us she knew Jessicabelle in real-life, and she had passed away, and the funeral had already taken place. She had joined the hundreds of thousands who died in the Pandemic.

No more airplane flights, no more builds, no more posing for pictures and video shoots. Jessicabelle Dayafter was gone.

Not long after, Jessicabelle would have a memorial service in her honor at New Bastogne. Vickster called her a team player who was always respectful for others. Nydia described her as a passionate model and actress, "In a world where so many try to blend in, it's people like Jessica that choses to stand out, and by that action alone she will be remembered in all she did, Fair skies my high flying Angel, until we meet again."

Jessicabelle would get a lasting memorial at the Sunweaver Memorial Garden, a flame burining constantly in her memory. It will be there for as long as the community lands are.

Jessicabelle was many things in the time I knew her, model, video actress, combat RP pilot, builder, and most of all, friend. She was anything but boring, and perhaps others will see her as an example one can be more than just a pretty face in this virtual world. You can be pretty and skillful, and make friends along the way who will remember you always.

Here's to you, Jessicabelle Dayafter.

Image source: Jessicabelle's Furaffinity page
Bixyl Shuftan

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