Ths story was written by longtime GAF aficionado and StarkLight Press winner Jeren Nethers. It features a crossover between his world of dragons amongst humans and the Deadwood asteroid.
Visiting The Deadwood Asteroid With My Human
by Jeren Nethers
Jeremy was looking out the window like a disaffected lizard, he was always good at that look which amused me to no end since technically I was the only ‘lizard’ on the flight. Jeremy had decided that he wanted to visit Deadwood so that he could write a story about how the present liked to glorify and recreate the past. He said that nobody had written a book quite like it before but when I asked him what it would be about exactly, he didn’t seem to know. It was around that time that I accepted that most likely, he just wanted a vacation.
Personally, I was looking forward to it.
It was summer there and it was rumored to be hot and dry which was exactly what I felt like after spending an entire year in London with Jeremy mooning about the dreary, rain and mist filled streets so that he could write a novel about the last so called, ‘Lost Queen’ of Britain. I admitted to him after he had finished it and I had a chance to give it a good read that it really was a facinating unsolved mystery. He had spoken to anyone he could find with even a rumour of royal blood left in them and had scanned through old books and spoken to scholars from Oxford to Eaton about their theories on the mystery. The end result was a theory so brilliant and compelling that short of finding the actual diary of the Lost Queen or travelling back in time to observe the events yourself, I really didn’t think it was possible to find a more believable conclusion to her tragic story.
I was sure that he had a lot more in mind for his story about Deadwood than what he had told me but that he didn’t want to reveal it and spend the whole trip with me dubiously poking holes in all his theories about it. I had to admit that his theories in the end were very sound but they had a knack for sounding a little half-cocked to my ear when he first verbalized them.
I had packed an entire case of my favourite lotions and oils to keep my hide supple since I planned on spending my entire vacation in the sun and I knew from my research that summers on Deadwood were dry and hot.
Jeremy had rented an entire acreage for our stay on Deadwood. He didn’t want to live in the town, which seemed counterproductive to me as he claimed that he wanted to get to know the era as well as to explore the many historical sites and maybe even meet the clones of Wild Bill Hickok, Jane Canary, better known as Calamity Jane or even Jack McCall whose clone resided in the prison in Deadwood. He had repeated past behaviours one too many times and new clones of poor old Wild Bill had to keep being made. Nevertheless, it was Jeremy’s research method to talk to all sources and explore all avenues no matter how dubious I was that it had any connection to anything approaching historical. His methods were his methods and they worked out in the end so I would amuse myself far away from his confounding ways.
That wasn’t hard to do since the acreage he had rented was large and sprawling and had plenty of balconies and remote locations for us to get away from each other, never too far of course, but just far enough so that we could feel the gentle tendrils of each other’s minds without getting all caught up in the hubbub therein.
I could hear his thoughts distantly and unobtrusively and enjoy my new found love of cold, tart lemonade. I had only tried it for the first time when we had been in London, I recall I was drunk at the time and it had appealed to me. Since then I had been having a love affair with it, with alcohol or without. I had long term goals to branch into mojitos, but that was something to look forward to in the future.
I blessed the Dragon-Human treaty that had made my species legitimately equal to human after Old Earth had made first contact with the GAGA. Before that I never would have been allowed in to a pub and I certainly wouldn’t have been allowed to be drunk in a public place. The humans had been convinced for ages that Dragons would light the whole place up at the drop of a hat. Absurd. Nevertheless, it had been a discrimination that had stayed with us for over two hundred years and it was only alien intervention that pointed out to them the foolishness of their beliefs. After all, if we weren’t considered to be equal and have inalienable rights above that of ‘dangerous pet’, then why should humans be given the same consideration with their GAGA and their considerably greater technology and fire power?
These were the questions that allowed me to drink alcoholic lemonade in peace with my human and his rowdy friends in London.
I flew around the house several times and charred a bird out of the air and then went down and seared the rest of her and cooked her to perfection before chowing down. I was surprised that their were birds on Deadwood and happy that with so few laws and surveillance I could catch my own dinner for a change and be unhampered by the many laws of modern living. I turned over some rocks afterwards and chased the insects I found until I encountered a snake that was bigger than me and decided to pack it in for the day.
I was a little surprised by how tired I was by my outing and blamed the relentless chill of London for my complacency. There was nothing to do but eat and drink there and roast yourself as closely to the fire place as you could and pray for summer.
I was curled up on the balcony and debating whether or not I should try to get the cap off of my oil when I saw a large head poke over the side railing of the balcony. I recognized the bright blue poisonous look of the snake I had fled from immediately and started to stoke my inner fire to give her a face full of flame. It was lucky I had just eaten and was in the warm because it didn’t take me long at all to start to feel flame filled.
I sent Jeremy a mental S.O.S. And braced myself for a fight.
The snake was very large. I’m about the size of a small cat, shorter in the legs and bigger if you include the wings, I guess a better comparison would be the size of duck, only far more lean and with less of a belly, although Jeremy might argue that after all my time spent pub crawling in London. This snake was about the same diameter of me and of course, much, much longer.
I was able to send a frantic mental message to Jeremy for rescue before I began to feel myself slide into a mesmeric trance in the gaze of the serpent. My mind cut off in mid message to Jeremy, but I soothed myself in my trance with the knowldege that he would come as quickly as his old, long legs would take him and I would have to hope that he could rescue me. Her tongue flickered in and out and her head moved close to me. I remembered hearing that snakes sniffed with their tongues, I hoped that I smelled terrible.
“You don’t smell terribly, but you’re definitely quite acrid.”
Her voice was inside my head, in the same place where I spoke to others of my kind and to Jeremy. She had a nice voice, kind and bemused. I nevertheless doubted my judgement about that as she had hypnotized me. She was a beautiful shade of blue and her eyes were like yellow diamonds, scintillating and faceted, sharp and piercing. I could swear she was smiling.
“You think I’m going to eat you?”
I looked at her sullenly, still frozen in place physically although my mind was marginally more free than when she had first seized control. I recognized that she wanted me to answer her telephathically and snubbed my psychic nose at her. I wasn’t going to have a heart to heart with the snake in the grass who was planning on eating me… although it might be more clever to stop being stubborn and stall for time so Jeremy could rescue me.
“I’m not going to eat you. I’m very full right now, look.”
She brought a few of her coils up onto the balcony and I could see the outline of a mound of something that had been her last meal. She did look quite full.
“You frightened me. Let me go.” I mindspoke with her reluctantly and sullenly.
“You were going to burn me!”
“I was trying to enjoy my lemonade! You shouldn’t have come up here!”
The snake seemed to turn a tad red, I realized in wonder that she was blushing. “I wanted to see more of you, you are very pretty.”
I looked at her more closely. She wasn’t being aggressive in her body language. She was plenty obnoxious, having the nerve to come up here and hypnotize me and all. Still, it seemed to be her custom and I had learned that that could explain away a lot of obnoxiousness. I was a more powdery, irridescent blue than the snake and I had shades of pink and purple along my back until it hit my wings in all their fuscia glory. I was fairly flashy, even amongst my own kind and I realized to the solid cobalt blue snake I was actually an exotic rarity.
“What are you? You’re a featherless bird?”
“I’m not a bird! I’m a dragon.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I’ve never met anyone other than birds and scorpians and spiders and lizards and horses and humans and other snakes and rodents (lots of those) and Jellymen and…”
“I don’t need to hear every last thing you’ve ever met.”
She turned her head away and I realized that I had hurt her feelings. I felt a little bad but not too bad, I only now regaining the ability to move my hands and feet. My wings were folded uselessly around me like old sheets. “I’ve never met a snake like you.”
“Yes, a telepathic one. You’re very gifted. What planet are you from?”
The snake seemed to be considering my meaning. I realized that on top of everything, English was not her first language and she was translating using her mind reading abilities back and forth between my brain’s language and whatever she natively spoke in addition to picking up and sending thoughts and keeping my immobilized. I knew that I was certainly not capable of doing all of that.
“I’m from here.”
“From here? This is an asteroid, nobody is from here. Do you mean you were born here? Do you know where your parents were from?”
I wanted to ask her a million questions at that point. Was she a freak mutant and the only of her kind who was intelligent and powerfully telepathic? I tried to keep a lid on it. We had only so recently established that she wasn’t here to eat me, I didn’t think I should push my luck.
“Yes, I am from here. My parents were from here. I saw the first ships come and watched them make the changes.”
“The changes?” She projected a vivid image in my mind of terraforming equipment and colonizing ships. I nodded in understanding and then was surprised and gratified to notice that I could now move my head.
Jeremy came around the corner carrying a frying pan and a hammer.
“It’s alright,” I mindspoke to him.
He looked at the large serpent who towered above me uncertainly. I sighed. “You had better call the ambassador to the GAGA the first chance you get though, it turns out that after over fifty years of settling here, the place has an preceeding population of intelligent beings.”
“Hello.” She said to Jeremy, I could hear her echo slightly as she projected the greeting to Jeremy to me as well.
He lowered the frying pan. “Eh, well, hello, young lady.”
“My name is Clara. If I am understanding your minds well, I would like to talk to the GAGA ambassador. Perhaps we can all come to an arrangement.”
I hoped that Jeremy would be able to find a story to write out of all this, it looked like the vacation part of things was already over.