“Say that again,” Jake said. He looked at me like he thought I had lost my mind.
“It was a dragon,” I repeated.
Jake got up from his place in my co-pilot’s seat on the bridge and took a few paces away from me. He removed his cap and ran his fingers through his dark, wavy hair. This was a habit Jake had when thinking, stressed or otherwise irritated. He could have been all three after my statement.
“What did you see?” Jake asked Arr.
“It was a dragon,” Arr confirmed.
“Assuming you are both not delusional, how could a dragon fit on the bridge?” Jake waved his hand to indicate the space.
“It ducked its head,” Arr answered matter-of-factly.
Jake frowned at Arr and looked to me for a better explanation. I just shrugged my shoulders.
Jake’s eyes squinted and he looked at us unbelieving.
“And he wasn’t alone. The dragon had a rider,” Arr went on.
I jumped in, “a kinda lizard man.”
I screwed up my face at what that must have sounded like to Jake. He was already looking at us like he was ready to jump back in his pod and escape the ‘loony bin’ to the sanctity of the Calpernia.
Jake ran his hand through his hair again, than he put his cap back on and came over to flop in defeat back in the co-pilot’s chair.
“Start from the beginning,” Jake instructed.
“They materialized on the deck,” I started, “just out of thin air.” I still had adrenaline running through my veins after the encounter.
“They answered the Dragoncall,” Arr added.
“Dragoncall?” Jake’s face had not lost that look of speculation.
Arr nodded toward the artifact. It was lying in the velvet lined box where he put it the minute the dragon and its rider left the bridge.
“It is a device to summons the dragon, or possibly dragons,” Arr explained. “The dragon that arrived on the bridge, and its rider, appeared to be almost mesmerized by it.”
I remembered the look on their faces as Arr ‘played’ the stone.
“They were hypnotized by it,” I added.
“They wanted it,” Arr added. “They were going to take it.” He tilted his head to one side in thought. His eyes closed. “They speak in pictures. It is a very intense form of communication, like watching a vid, but without sound. Perhaps in time I will be able to understand their vocal language.”
“All I heard was a couple of growls,” I said.
“There were other sounds as well,” Arr added, “perhaps beyond your hearing range.”
“So they want it,” Jake said. “What now?”
“I agreed to meet them down on the planet. They want to show me something,” Arr responded.
“Show us something, you mean,” Jake said, instantly inviting himself.
“It’s my artifact,” I said rising from my chair, “I’m coming too.”
The planet was just as pictured in the vid on Mom and Dad’s flat, dry and desolate.
The dragon and its rider were nowhere to be seen. Instead, the landscape was scattered with the bones of what we all knew now were dragons. There must have been thousands of them. Only small portions of the ground did not have them lying upon it. Because of the vast quantity of bones that were visual, it gave me the feeling there where more bones probably buried below the surface.
When I saw the skull I grabbed Jake’s sleeve and dragged him over to look at it with me. He squatted down and placed his hand on its brow.
“By the Gods, you were not kidding,” Jake said in disbelief.
“We told you,” I said with a satisfied grin.
No doubt Jake, being human too, had heard the dragon tales that were scattered through our literature. If I hadn’t seen the thing with my own eyes, I would not have believed it either.
“Their coming,” Arr said behind us.
We both turned in time to see the dragon, and its rider, materialize in the air about twenty-five feet above us. It flapped wings that cast massive shadows across us as it back-peddling in the air. Then reaching out with four huge clawed feet it came down for a gentle landing. When the dust it kicked up cleared it extended a wing and the lizard man slid from its back. This time the approach was totally different. Where on the bridge both dragon and lizard seemed irritated and aggressive, here they seemed calm. The lizard man actually bowed his head toward us, I assumed in greeting since Arr returned the head nod.
“I apologize for calling you down to this desolate planet,” the lizard man said.
Jake and I were both surprised especially after Arr and I not thinking the two strangers able to speak our language. However, Arr seemed to take a talking lizard in stride.
“Thank you for asking us,” Arr responded. “Is it the air?” he asked.
“It is the place,” the lizard man said cryptically. “We can manipulate the environment in order to allow you to hear our speech as your mind would interpret it.”
This didn’t make any sense to me, but then I have seen a lot of weird stuff in my travels, so I could just mentally choke it up to magic and let my mind roll with it. I was listening to a lizard guy talk. The verse is an incredible place, full of surprises.
“I am known as Rudd’ard. This is my companion Mul’drak.”
Mul’drak extended his wings and placing a paw forward, he too bowed. “Pleased,” he said simply in a very deep bass.
“We used to reside on this planet, but were forced to abandon it centuries ago,” Rudd’ard explained. “It was our home planet at one time.”
“I am Arr of the Henu,” Arr started the introductions, “this is Jake Harcourt, my partner and 3su our friend. Her parents are the ones who found this.” Arr pulled the artifact from his pouch and held it in his open palm.
“Please put it away,” Rudd’ard requested. “The Sollen’s call makes it very difficult to think clearly and it tugs at others of our kind.”
Arr slipped it back in his pouch.
“We heard the Sollen when your parents found it,” the lizard man said to me. “Its pull is very strong on us. One of us made the multiple jumps to get here, but it was already gone. Without it being held we could not track it. We have heard it for weeks now, as you came closer and closer.” He nodded toward Arr. “You are talented. The sound was a discord at first, but it soon began to resonate in our bones and so Mul’drak and I were sent to fetch it.”
Mul’drak ruffled his wings and tilted his wedged head in order to eye us more intently. “The Sollen must be returned to its resting place,” he rumbled.
I stepped closer to Rudd’ard. “My parents were archeologists. They wouldn’t have taken it if they knew it belonged to someone.” I looked up into his lime green, lizard shaped eyes. “They were killed. I think it was for the artifact, the Sollen. After my parent’s death their living quarters were searched and my ship was broken into. We caught the man who broke in. He was a Valdare from this solar system. What would a Valdare want with your Sollen?”
“They seek control over us, as they have always,” Rudd’ard said and Mul’drak emitted a low rumbling growl of agreement behind him.