Brian W. Antoine
October 2, 1993
It was almost 3 AM when Penny started yelling in my ear in an attempt to wake me up.
"What the hell is it now?" I grumbled as I blinked the sleep from my eyes.
"You need to get to the lab, and right now."
"Can I get dressed first?"
"I wouldn't take the time if I were you. Besides, I've seen you in your bunny slippers before."
I grabbed my robe from the back of a chair and concentrated on the lab. "Very funny ..." and I appeared in the middle of the living area. As soon as I materialized, I knew what had happened. Hovering up near the ceiling, Smaug was making enough noise to raise the dead. Around him, three tiny dragons were whizzing around and trying to catch him. "Just great, three more mouths to feed."
"I think that's part of the problem, they hatched about 20 minutes ago and seemed to be hungry the moment the egg's broke open."
"So where is the mother?"
"That's the odd part. As soon as she saw that they were all ok, she zipped through the gate and vanished."
"So much for the mothering instinct." I looked up at Smaug and it was obvious he was about at his limits. "Ok, lets get this crew called to order." I whistled for Smaug and the moment he heard me, he made a beeline for my shoulder and hid his head in my hair. "Ouch! Watch the claws damnit!" My problems were just starting. A few seconds later all three baby dragons tried to imitate dad. One tried to land on the top of my head, and the other two both tried for my other shoulder. Now I started howling almost as loud as Smaug.
"I can see some disadvantages to having long hair. Is that as painful as it looks?"
"Ouch, damnit that's my ear!" Fighting to keep one of them from nailing me in the eyes with its wings, I staggered over to where I kept Smaug's local food supply and snacks. The moment I opened the case, all three kids swiveled and dove into it face first. "Well, better that then my ear. Are you sure the mother just isn't hiding out as well?"
"No, I scanned the area and she is long gone."
I turned to peek as Smaug as his head worked its way out of my hair. "Well, it's just you and me. Do you happen to know if they are house broken?" All I got for a reply was a weary "Cheep".
When the kids had demolished most of the stored food, they struggled back into the air and made their way to the couch where Smaug and I were sitting. With a couple of small burps, and stomachs that looked like they should burst, the three of them plopped down around us and went to sleep. "Any bets on how long this will last?"
"Not on your life. Anything that flies and teleports has to have a metabolism that goes right through the roof. I'd go hit the all night store if I were you."
"Sounds like a plan, but first I want a closer look." Taking care not to disturb them, I slid off the couch and knelt down to get a better look. All three of them looked just like Smaug, but in miniature. There was none of the larger than normal heads or feet that some species show in their newborn. Two of them were silver in color and the third was a reddish bronze.
"So what are you going to do with them?"
I was stroking the head of one of the silvers and it was arching it neck to rub against my hand. "What do you mean?"
"You going to turn them loose, or try and keep them?"
"I'm not sure, I figured that was kind of up to Smaug and his mate. How old does a dragon need to be before it's safe to turn loose?"
"Don't ask me, I just work here. Why don't you key the gate to them so they can leave if they want. If they stay, or Smaug refuses to let them roam free, that will answer your question."
"Sounds good for a start." Being careful to not hurt them, I picked them up one at a time and keyed the gate to their mental signatures. "Hey, I wonder if Bob's kids might like one as a pet?"
"That's kind of cruel for the dragon isn't it?"
I thought about it for a moment. "Maybe, Bob sure wasn't interested in one. Maybe Megan might like one. It might keep her company in exchange for that dragon she was having so much fun with."
"It might also remind her of what she doesn't have any more."
"True. Well, I can at least ask Bob what he thinks. Maybe Karen would like another mouth to feed."
"I saw her trying to ride herd on the bunch she already has. I wouldn't want to bet on her taking on something like this."
"Well then, dig out your copy of Dr. Spock and start reading. I sure can't take them home with me, so you're elected."
"I'll call Karen in the morning."
I chuckled at the mental image of Penny trying to feed one of these tiny things with a bottle held by one of her remotes. "And I'll go refill the larder. Keep an eye on them until I get back." One of them was starting to make noises as if it was waking up as I concentrated on my apartment.