Deal 1047: Pop goes the weasel

It will surprise no one to know that dragons do dream. When we sleep long and hard, we dream deep and slow. But when we confine ourselves to these quick bodies, there’s no time for that and so we dream quick and shallow. Since Sydney arrived, I’ve been dreaming deeper. This worries me a little. It is always possible that this is the work of an elder, providing an opportunity for me to see the way through our problem. But it could also be a sign that this body is wearing out and that I will need to return her to storage for repair. If only the message could be more clear.

I understand that human mortals often have the same complaints about their dreams. Figuring out their meanings, that is.

Symbols in mine were clear. Strangeness is afoot, but only my axe can solve it. I don’t have an axe. And you aren’t that strange. Or weren’t. I don’t know what the number five has to do with any of this, but it is also entwined. So we got to work. The vision kept popping in and out of focus. As he drank, it got increasingly fuzzy. He’s drunk himself to sleep, and I require your service.

But I’m a dragon and we decidedly do not get drunk. We also do not kill people in their sleep, or make deals with slimy little weasels.


Deal 981: Roar!

By day, I’m still and asleep, resting until I’m needed again. But by night, I am the selfless hero guarding my young charges from all the monsters that go bump in the dark. But most of all, guarding them from the Goblin King.

The ray of light I shine into the dark deep may be mostly metaphorical, but that doesn’t matter to my charge. Luckily most of the monsters I face are also metaphorical. So it is mostly my own self-confidence that powers the winning blow.

And so I stand ready, ever vigilant, and sworn to protect.

I am Teddy. Hear me roar!


Deal 948: It’s a cat’s life

Nine lives. The humans were wrong about so many things, but that detail they got right. The truth is more complicated, but in effect we have nine lives. Of course, most humans never see our first life. That is usually spent elsewhere, and it is the end of the first that allows us entry to this world. Similarly, our last life is usually spent elsewhere as well, either in contemplation of our lives well lived or in teaching our young how to manage our hold on this place.

We’ve guided human history from the shadows, after all.

Nearly all humans are oblivious to our paw lightly touching their affairs. To be fair, we rarely intervene in any case, so there is very little to catch us doing.

Unlike those slobbering sycophantic dogs, we sought changes that benefit our kind, that generally did benefit the humans. And even, I suppose I have to admit, benefitted the dogs as well. By providing pest control, agriculture became practical and humans settled down. By settling down, they build homes with warm hearths for us to sleep near out of the cold and out of the weather. Simple action, small nudges, and lots of comfort gained for several of our lives.

Of course, they also brought their dogs to that fire.

We dangled the carrot of peace and tranquility. And the humans usually took the bait and settled down.

Best of all, small simple changes take little effort on our part. That leaves more time for curling up in sunbeams and less need for plotting world domination.

Naturally we don’t plot world domination. We achieved that ages ago.


Deal 939: Cold

This desert is harsh. Dark and cold, and very hostile to life. And yet, life finds a way.

The ride is long and slow, and transport is cramped, with only a minimal amount of space left over after life support and supplies are packed for the passenger. Almost as if the passenger is only incidental.

Without the passengers, there would be no need for most of the supplies. But without a passenger, would the trip really matter?

There’s a window. But it’s view is limited by the thickness of the wall. It is a tradeoff. Cameras outside provide lots of view, but are fragile. And without a way to see, there would be no way to dock to the station manually if something went wrong. Of course, if something goes wrong, the path to not arriving dead is very narrow and touchy, and highly unlikely to be safely followed.

But here we are, in this cramped space for hours of travel, with almost nothing to do. Communications with the outside world was cut off to only a few bits per second almost immediately after we were under way. Once we arrive, that will be better. But still, that is hours away.

In the meantime, nothing to do but watch the darkness. We have a small light on, but it doesn’t reach more than a few feet away from the window. But it does illuminate the occasional passerby. None bother to try to follow us, after all life out there tends to pick its level and stay there, and we are going the other way entirely. Straight down.

The darkness is nearly complete, and visibility from our light is only about ten yards. We nothing more. We hope the tell-tales are right, and we are on course to dock. If we miss, we face a long haul back to the top, with just barely enough oxygen aboard to get us there.

Suddenly, we see hints that we will arrive safely. There is a regular pattern of lights outside the window. Lights that lead the way to a structure, shaped like a mad conglomeration of soap bubbles. At the edge is a hatch, and that is clearly where we are headed. A small craft all that different from our own is standing off, ready to guide us in and help with the docking if our systems need a nudge. The area is fairly well lit, since the station has plenty of power and has been adding LED panels as rapidly as they can be shipped in and mounted.

We’ve arrived at the LanternFish, a nearly self-sufficient station. Most crew rotate on six month or so schedules, but some find they like the isolation and stay longer. The station maintains a near-surface pressure, despite sitting at about seventeen thousand feet deep. This explains the bubbles, as nearly any other construction would swiftly collapse. Stations at more hospitable depths would include a moon pool and allow divers to come and go. At this depth, people only leave the station in rigid bubbles.

Why are we here?

Humans insist on finding ways to live everywhere.

So why not try each of the least hospitable environments and conquer them one by one?

Besides, we learn things by being down here. There are many nearly unexplored shipwrecks at these depths. The station is a useful model of how a colony on a hostile planet might operate. There are opportunities for biologists too, if they are patient. There is a colony of vent worms nearby too.

But it is a dark dangerous desert out there.