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When a misunderstanding threatens to escalate into war, Varthikes, a dragon, and Audwin, a Human, form fast friendship and struggle for a peaceful coexistence between their two kinds.
Humans arrive on Draconia hoping to establish a colony when they encounter the dragon-like natives. Paranoia by the commander of the survey party leads to a violent misunderstanding, which sparks suspicion among the dragons. Varthikes, an adolescent dragon, and Audwin McClance, an ensign on his first mission, form a fast friendship and fight for a peaceful coexistence between their two kinds. But can they overcome the suspicions and misconceptions that their respective worlds have for each other?
Audwin sat down under one of the bunker's lights and switched on the reading-pad he had with him. As he began reading, he heard the thumps of heavy footsteps approaching. He looked up to see Varthikes standing before him. Am I allowed to know for what reason it was that Captain Robertson wanted to communicate with you? the young dragon asked.
“She just wanted to know if all was well here,” Audwin answered with a friendly smile. “Which it is.”
You especially, I sense, Varthikes ventured. I sense you to be confident with us even after the events of this sunrise. Even after my anger toward you.
Audwin shrugged and lowered his eyes. “Your actions were understandable—the result of a misunderstanding on the part of my fellow Man. I hope we can avoid them in the future.” Audwin looked back up into the young dragon's eyes. “I would very much like to call you friend.”
Friend? Varthikes asked, raising his head in surprise and tilting it nearly forty-five degrees. You wish to call me friend?
“You and your kind,” Audwin specified. “Is that all right?”
Varthikes straightened his head and lowered his eyes to the ground before him. Even among my own kind, never has anyone directly called me friend. Audwin thought his thought-voice sounded a bit sad, lonesome. Varthikes dropped to his belly, stretching himself across the ground. He held his golden eyes on Audwin and explained, Curiosity for that which is not one's concern is encouraged not among my kind. Those among my Range, therefore, see me as I first saw your kind—as a stranger, an outsider—for my curiosity toward the world around me as well as beyond it. Varthikes lifted his eyes to the stars, then looked back down at the Human. They respect me as any dracfolk, but never have I enjoyed genuine friendship.
“I'm sorry,” Audwin offered sympathetically.
Honored am I, therefore, that you of another world should choose to call me friend, Varthikes said appreciatively. Then, he noticed the device Audwin had in his lap. Curious am I as to what you are doing.
Reading? Varthikes asked, tilting his head in a puzzled expression.
Audwin began explaining how information in his culture—and many others—is transmitted through written symbols, each representing a different sound. And, how some on his world use this same ability to create and share stories about fictional places, creatures, and situations. “The words often stimulate images of the fictional world in the reader's mind. I'll demonstrate for you, if you wish…”
Indeed would I very much enjoy a demonstration, an intrigued Varthikes replied.