Brian W. Antoine
August 4, 1993
I dropped a pile of blueprints onto the desk and collapsed into my chair with a sigh. It had been a long day and I'd spent most of it fighting with some clown who thought that because he knew all there was to know about cash dispensers, that he was automatically a UNIX expert also. Some people should be shot on sight.
When I was almost feeling human again, I pulled myself out of my nice comfortable chair and started digging through some stuff on the table. "Let me feed Smaug and we can get started."
"I don't believe that will be necessary, it doesn't look like he is interested in food at the moment."
"Huh?" I looked around the lab and sure enough, Smaug was hovering around the gate to Velar making noises at me. "Not interested in food again tonight huh. I wish I knew what the hell was bothering you." Smaug had been acting funny for about a week now. Normally he had his nose in every package I brought into the lab to check for food. Lately though, he had been ignoring almost everything and kept flying back and forth between the lab and Velar.
"Ok, give me a second and I'll let you out." I grabbed a candy bar and a Dew and walked over to the gate. He might not be hungry, but I sure was. I focused on the gate and even before it finished opening all the way, Smaug ducked through. What ever it was that was distracting him, it was holding his complete attention. As he disappeared into the trees on the other side of the gate, I yelled out behind him. "Hey, try to be back before sunset tonight." Just for a second, I felt like a parent with an over active imagination. With a chuckle, I opened the Dew and started sorting through the blueprints on my desk.
"Ok, switch over the holotank and call up the design of the main power grid. I'm still not happy with the backup systems on the phaser arrays. The last thing we need is for something to give way and take the whole damned wing with it."
The Sunbeam might be flight ready now, but it was far from being finished. The next phase of construction was the defensive and offensive systems. At the moment, Penny and I were working out some problems with the phaser arrays that resided in each wing. They weren't really phasers, or at least not in the StarTrek sense of the word. They did however emit an energy beam that would punch a good sized hole in anything they touched. Because of the inverse square law, I had needed to come up with something that didn't rely on raw energy to function.
The classic energy weapons of Science Fiction were more dangerous to the user then the enemy in real life. What Penny and I had decided on was something that worked on the same general principle as the Sunbeam's power plant. The beams that were generated by the array we were working on canceled the charge of the Proton when it interacted with solid matter. The power plant used that field as the first step in the matter to quark to anti-matter reaction that fueled the ship. We planned on just using the cancellation field as a directed weapon. The next asteroid that wandered too close to the Earth was going to vanish in a cloud of subatomic particles.
We had been pouring over the schematics for the better part of the evening, when Penny dropped her voice and whispered something to me. "Boss, as slow and quietly as you can. Turn around and look behind you."
"Huh, what is it?"
"Just turn around and look in the area of the gate."
Trying not to make any noise, I slowly swiveled my chair around and looked. At first I didn't spot anything out of the ordinary, but then I saw Smaug sitting on the edge of one of the work benches. "Ok, very funny." I started to stand up, but a quiet whisper stopped me.
"Boss, hold it. Take another look, that isn't Smaug."
"Huh?" Sure enough, as I blinked to clear the vision in my one good eye, I caught the difference. Smaug, at least when he's clean, has a skin color that resembles an opal. It's whitish gray with random color highlights. The minidrag I was watching was more of a silver color and looked to be slightly larger also. "When did this one show up?"
"I noticed it a few moments ago. The security sensor records indicate that it followed Smaug through the gate. I've got them keyed to ignore him and so the arrival of a second one didn't generate an alert."
"So where the hell is Smaug?" I looked around the lab, but couldn't see him anywhere.
"He's in his cave doing something. I can't see into the rear of it unless I move one of my remotes."
"No, don't try it. I don't think we are in any danger, so let's see what happens."
A few minutes went by with only the occasional noise coming from the direction of the cave. I was reconsidering having Penny try to take a peek with one of her remotes, when Smaug stuck his head out of the cave and began to sing a quiet song to the other minidrag. As I sat there watching, I began to get the funny feeling I was watching a courtship or something. "Are you hearing what I'm hearing?"
"Yes, I've never heard him make that kind of a noise before."
"What do you want to bet that the second minidrag is female?"
"Your kidding, right?"
"Nope, I think our noisy little friend has just gotten married."
"That's not funny. It's bad enough having to put up with one of them. I have to polish the scratches out of the lab remotes almost weekly. He just can't understand that they aren't prey and quit trying to 'kill' them."
"Well I'd stock up on polish if I were you." The second minidrag launched herself from the table and flew to the cave entrance to land beside Smaug. Then the two of them turned and waddled into the rear of the cave. With them out of sight, I took a chance and moved over to where I could see into the back of the cave. "Uh, Penny?"
"You better make that a pretty large order for the polish you use."
I could here the apprehension in her voice as she answered me. "Why?"
From where I knelt, I had a pretty good view of Smaug's cave. "Unless I'm going blind, it sure looks like there are building a nest in there. I wonder if they make pampers for a baby minidrag?" Behind me I could hear the quiet whine of the remote as it arrived.
"Shit! That does it, I quit! It was bad enough having to baby-sit one of those things. I'm not going to even try to ride herd on a whole family of them."
"Quit your complaining, at least you don't have to feed them. I can see my grocery budget lying in ruins already. Besides, think of it this way. This can be your training for when I get married someday, Grandma."
"Grandma! Why you over active collection of carbon atoms ..."
Penny was still sputtering as I walked back to my desk and sat down. Just when I though life could not get any more complex, I become an Uncle.
"And another thing, you better figure out how to clean up after ..."