An avid reader and seeker of knowledge, Mero the Mechanic amassed a sizeable collection of scrolls and books. It was quite a burden, requiring a separate small wagon. That is until he acquired an artifact that gave him access to a pocket dimension to create his own library. But no, that is a story for another time. This story begins with that collection of books, itself. Many of them were academic documentation, texts on a wide variety of subjects scientific and historical. Some were of a mechanical nature - schematics, concepts, theories of applied physics. And there was a good amount of the fictional - particularly heroic tales of journeys in faraway lands he could only imagine. Growing up, Mero never went too far from his caravan in Vol'dun. Survival in known reaches was enough of a challenge - going beyond that was unthinkably perilous (and most importantly for a vulpera, unreasonable)
Of his many literary acquisitions, there is one exchange that was the most unexpected for Mero. A traveling goblin had heard of Mero's admiration for books, he offered a crate of them if the young vulpera - still practically a kit at time - had a good trade. Books were not the only thing that Mero had a tendency to collect. Mero liked to find discarded gadgets and engineering bits, figure out how they worked, and create inventions of his own. He offered the goblin a pile of materials for which he had no planned use. The goblin agreed, thinking he had received the better deal - some of the cache were rare finds. But Mero didn't see it that way. To a vulpera, value was often tied specifically to usefulness.
When Mero opened the crate, he wasn't quite sure what he saw. These were not thick dusty tomes or even use-worn novels, they were books made of paper with bold eye-catching text and brightly colored images.
"What sort of books are these?" the young vulpera asked.
"The best sort there is," remarked the goblin, "those there are comic books. My old collection, from the talented folks at Spectacle. All the goblin kids love 'em. Oughta brighten up your dull desert lives when you take those back to your caravan, I tell ya."
Mero nodded and sent the goblin on his way. It was clear these were not quite the studious volumes he was accustomed to but, while he was an intellectual, Mero was no erudite snob. There was something exciting in learning the more commonplace customs of other cultures. Jokes and songs he heard from travelers, for instance, he valued almost as much as his library.
As he read through the comic books, what had begun as a curious examination, became something more. There was a feeling there very similar to the one he got from the
grand heroic sagas he'd enjoyed in the past. More than that, the characters were, although exaggerated, very easy to like. One, in particular, stood out. A central protagonist in many of the books.
Larson Grey was his proper name, although he went by another name as a hero (a convention that seemed to be oddly popular in those books) - Photon Procyon. Photon was a raccoon person, created by super science from an ordinary raccoon. Mero couldn't help but wonder - perhaps this character had been inspired by a goblin's encounter with a vulpera? He had
known other races to mistakenly call his kind everything from rat ro rabbit. Then again, goblins were not known for tidy living. He could easily have been inspired
by an encounter with an ordinary raccoon. Either way, small furry hero who was easily underestimated for being so. Accomplishing incredible heroic deeds. It was
something Mero could relate to deeply.
And speaking of heroic deeds, these story were so fantastical and outlandish. Many of them involved travels through the distant Twisting Nether, to other planets! Of course,
he had read fantasy stories far more unbelievable. And, really, he had heard of goblins constructing rocket ships - it might be a reality not too far in the future.
Photon was a skilled and talented hero. And he used that to help those in need, sometimes to save reality itself - from cosmic threats! Again - fantastical and outlandish.
But no less inspiring!
In the end, it was that most unexpected acquisition to his library that, more than any other book that he'd read, made him want to try and make a difference with the myriad issues that faced Azeroth in his own reality. It was more than anything else, the epic adventures of Photon Procyon that would much later drive Mero to become (secretly)
involved in helping combat Fourth War era crises, several long months before the Vulpera would officially join the forces of the Horde.
And yes, it is why Mero found his own raccoon to raise as a pet. And name Larson, of course.
And the guild for adventurers he chose to form and command. It was once called the Skulk. But when he chose a rename, it had to be the Raccoons (he'd considered the Procyonoids - after Procyons' fans, but thought it too obscure. He considered the StarGazers, after the group Photon belonged to in the books, but was not sure if this Spectacle organization was litigious)
And Photon's trusty laser cannon, the Plasmo 9000 - that inspired the very design of Mero's rifle that he still uses, to this day.
As the people of the dunes, then the Horde, then Azeroth, and now the realms of the death cheer on Mero the Mechanic as a hero, no one could suspect that the studious inventor himself carries in his heart the lasting inspiration of a hero of his own. And it began with a crate of books.