An Alternate History of the Netherlands is a little something I've been working on since 2008, and it follows the evolution of a world in which the Dutch were not divided along religous lines during the Dutch Revolt of the last 16th Century. Along with An Alternate History of the Netherlands, some of my other projects, such as the Stardust Sequence (since 2000) and the Wing Commander reboot (since 2010) may make appearances.
The World Today
Earth in 2013
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Dragons of Stardust
The dragons (Greens are the original, non-engineered species) originated on a
world lost in the mists of history somewhere in the Small Magellanic Cloud some
fifty-two million years ago. At that time, they were small, tree-dwelling
dinosaurs. As time progressed on their homeworld, their third pair of limbs
eventually evolved into wings as the proto-dragons spent much of their time
jumping from tree to tree. Only once they became airborne did they begin to
grow in size, abandoning arboreal life altogether and settling in their current
configuration approximately forty million years ago. Sometime after the first
dragons evolved, their homeworld underwent global warming, forcing the dragons
to take to the water to cool off. It took them little time to realize the water
was home to a new source of food; fish. As such, the Greens we know today are a
semi-aquatic predator. Despite a primarily fish-based diet, the Green retained
their venomous spray even though the venom is only useful underwater when
injected directly into the prey.
Dragons spread across their homeworld and soon started to
look for ways out. Leaving homeworld was easier a task than was to be expected
by a species that lived mostly solitary lives ranging across large territories.
Dragons are by far the most intelligent species known. Without civilization in
the human sense, dragons banded together, pooled their intelligence and devised
a means of reaching space. The progress from ground to space happened within a
dragon’s lifetime, but as dragons were incredibly long-lived, it was not quite
as impressive at is sounds. More than two thousand years passed from the first
idea to the first spaceship as dragons had to develop a wide assortment of
tools not required for daily survival.
Once spacefaring, dragons took slow boats
(slower-than-light craft) to the nearest stars. With nature lifespans of five
thousand years, dragons could always afford to take their time. These first
Dragoni ships, like those to follow, were built from hollowed out asteroids
that were made to rotate. Dragons spend the next twenty million years spreading
across the SMC, LMC and eventually into the Main Galaxy. During this course of
action, dragons encountered goblins and gremlins, conquered them and
“domesticated” them. With their nimble hands and high dexterity, gobli made far
better builders than dragons with their cumbersome hands. Around thirteen
million years ago, their homeworld along with many other core worlds, were
caught in the line of sight of a gamma ray burst. This disaster wiped out much
life on these worlds and with their core destroyed, dragon worlds eventually
went their separate ways, though contact is occasionally maintained with the
advanced technology (spatial transmitters) housed within a planet’s dragon
Dragons have a length of ten meters upon reaching their adult size, nearly half
of it their tail. Their adult mass levels off at 250 kg, but as with all
animals native to their homeworld, they continue to grow throughout their lives
albeit at a much slower rate. By the time a dragon reaches five thousand years
of age, the mass would have doubled, making flight more difficult.
A dragon’s head is about the same size of a horse's, though its jaws can open
far wider. The eyes of a dragon are sensitive to vision ranging from infrared
to ultraviolet, giving them a far wider scope of the world around them. The
appearance of a dragon’s eye is very bird-like.They hear by focusing the sounds around them with a pair of ear flaps,
that channels the sound down to ear holes in the side of their head. Their ear
flaps help them zero in on the slightest sound. Inside their jaws, dragons have
two sets of teeth. The forward teeth are conical, and used for gripping prey.
The rear teeth are serrated and used to sheer flesh. Two of the forward fangs
have channels running down the front of them. These channels allow a flow of
chlorine from the venom glands into the mouth. Chlorine is generated by a high
intake in salts. The gland separated the chlorine and stores it, while to
sodium is excreted in the dragon’s waste. Dragons have two ways of envenomation;
either by biting and injecting the chlorine directly into the target’s
bloodstream, or by spraying it through their fangs like a spitting cobra. The
mist is then inhaled by the target but kills not nearly as quickly.
body is roughly the same size as a war horse, with similar lengths of limbs and
neck. The neck is far more slender than that of a horse. The flexible tail acts
as a rudder, stabilizing the dragons in flight and adding to their agility.
are sextapods that is they have six limbs instead of four.Each of the six limbs of a dragon ends with
four digits. One the “hands” of the dragon, the inner most digits is slightly
opposable, allowing dragons to pick up items and use tools. Each of the digits
end in talons capable of penetrating the hides of any prey.Their wingspan is slightly more than ten
meters. The wings are a third set of limbs, connecting to the body just above
the shoulder joints.
The Green’s skin is a forested green leathery hide. Their chests and undersides
of their wings, in the case of males, is a brighter color. This is used for
attracting a mate. Their hides consist of several interlaced layers of tough
skin. So tough is their hide, that it prevents penetration from any sharp
object or projectile short of an armor-piercing round.
Internal Structure: Their
bones are hollow and sturdy, but can be broken by a hard enough hit, even if it
does not break the skin. The skin membranes of the wings are made of the same
structure, but without muscle behind them, are vulnerable to damage. A dragon’s
brain is a powerful tool, and makes them the most intelligent animal known.
Period. Of the food they eat, at least half the calories go directly to the brain.
A dragon can compute square roots faster than one can enter the numbers into a
Green’s diet consists of mostly fish. They have become a somewhat semi-aquatic
species, spending much of their time beneath the surface of lakes and rivers in
search of prey. All dragons must eat at least 15 kg of food each day. Both
their brains and their wings require quite a bit of energy to function
dragon’s life starts when a 2 kg hatchling breaks through the hard-shelled egg.
Clutches are between two and four eggs, and usually only one hatchling will
survive, due to stiff competition between hatchlings for food. Seldom are they
lost to predators, since the parents will kill anything creature they deem a
threat to the young on sight. Humans have never seen a dragon nest and lived to
tell. Dragons must grow and learn fast, and by the third year, the surviving
young are fully grown and driven out of their birth land in search of
territories of their own. Dragons will fly off for days on end, searching for
lands not already claimed. Since dragon birth-rate is extremely low, there is
often enough space for young dragons if they fly far enough.
Dragons grow through their lives, but do so most swiftly
as hatchlings. From the time they hatch from an egg the size of a football
until they are their adult size, only three years pass. In that time, they grow
to their full 250kg mass. So much food is required to grow a dragon that both
parents must work tirelessly to feed the young. This short childhood is also
part of the reason dragons are so intelligent; they must master their language,
flight and other dragon skills within three years. After three years of age,
the growth slows to the point where it is no longer easily detected. Mass will
typically increase by a kilogram every couple of decades. The genetic material
of any dragon is unknown, but since other sextapods have Trioxyribo Nucleic
Acid, it is likely dragons do as well. This structure of genetic material is so
durable, that it never decays during the dragon’s life, and is what allows
sextapods to live for thousands of years, barring injury or disease.
The death of a dragon is a secret event. Some are killed
by injury, and their remains are discovered with scavengers trying to penetrate
the tough hide. Most dragons live to be 5,000. By that time, their mass has
increased to the point where flight is becoming difficult. Instead of living a
life grounded, and perhaps forced to scavenge themselves, dragons choose to die
with their dignity intact. When they reach this age, they will create a burrow
deep in the forest, climb into it, and shut their body down. Basically, they
will go into hibernation and never awaken. Their brains are powerful enough to
shut down their vital systems and offer a quick hibernating death.
(the females) come into season very seldom. Dragons have control over their
breeding cycles, and a dragonette will go into season only when conditions are
right and population pressures are very low. When she does, Drakes (the males)
come from all around in hope of impressing the Dragonette.At first, lack of dimorphism made telling the
difference between Drakes and Dragonettes apart rather difficult. Both were roughly
the same size. They will dance for her, displaying their bright colors on their
chest and wings. Bright colors are a mark of good health. Typically, the
oldest, wisest, and strongest male, with the best territory will win.
Occasionally, a Dragonette will choose a Drake that she happens to get along
with, for they will have to spend the next three years together. The nest is
built on the richest of the two parents’ territories. The eggs are laid in a
nest that is covered up with rotting vegetation and guarded by one parent at
all times. The eggs take some forty days to hatch.
stated before, dragons are very intelligent. This intelligence leads them to
seek out mental stimulation, despite being solitaire. Their solitary existence
is mostly due to the large territories dragons need to feed themselves. As
predators, they are not inclined to share. Every few years, dragons neighboring
each other will gather together in neutral territory and exchange ideas and
discoveries, and engage in stimulating conversation. Greens will occasionally
even engage humans they come across, provided said humans are not seen as a
threat to the dragon’s forest.
Aside from their venom and bite, dragons use their talons
and tails as weapons as well. Talons cause piercing damage, puncturing internal
organs and causing severe trauma. Their tails are used as whips. It strikes an
enemy like a thick bull-whip, breaking bones with ease. More than one intruder
into their territory has suffered a broken neck from having a tail whip them in
the head. Dragons are hesitant to bite into other intelligent animals, and will
rely on tails, talons and toxic breath.
Occasionally, dragons will venture into human towns and
talk with the apes, read their books and watch their television. They will
tolerate humans on their worlds only as long as humans are not a threat to the
ecosystem. In that case, the dragons will simply exterminate them. This is done
by accessing the Dragon Vault and drawing forth ancient and extremely powerful
weapons. Though they view technology as a necessary evil, when a dragon builds
something, they build it to last forever
communicate with one and other through a language that is comprised of a series
of chirps, hisses and rumbles. The language is rather complex and has never
been translated by humans. Dragons will not teach their language to humans, not
even pygmaeus, because their shorter lifespan would just mean the dragon would
have to retrain a new human in a matter of decades. Because dragons have so
short childhoods to learn, their brains are adapted to learn very fast. A
dragon is capable of learning a human language in a matter of days.
live within temperate forests. They do not like the cold, nor do they like
extreme heat. The hottest forests are home to the Blacks. They prefer forests
on worlds with a constant climate and little in the way of seasons. In the event
of seasons, they live in the lower temperate zones, where it rarely to never
Blue Dragons:One of the three dragon species to be
engineered by the Green Dragons are the Blues. Where the Greens evolved in a
more temperate, forested world, the Blues were engineered to survive in a
semi-arid grass and scrubland. The name Blue is a bit misleading since the hide
is chameleonic in nature. It can shift from dark blue and violet down to white.
Given that the skies on all worlds are not the same color; the Blues were
engineered to adjust to their new backdrops. Blue Dragons were made to blend
into the sky, for they ambush their prey from above. To kill their prey, Blues
simply use the impact from above to break the necks of their prey. If that
fails, instead of Chlorine, they use electricity to kill prey and ward off
threats. Their breath attack works because when engineered, genes from electric
fish were inserted into the Blues’ genome. Electrical cells line their tongues,
and by clicking it against their fangs, sparks of electricity jump from their
mouth, making this the shortest range of any “venom” dragons can spit.
Of all the dragons, Blues are the least friendly. This
has to do with their habitat. On the savanna, there is plenty of prey, and
plenty of competition. This drive to compete with other predators forced the
Blues to evolve a nasty disposition. Of all the dragons, they are the most likely
to kill intruders on sight.
Savanna, scrublands, open tropical woodlands.
Another of the dragons engineered by the Greens were the Reds. Red Dragons were
designed to inhabit ecosystems even harsher than the savannas the Blue were
engineered with in mind. Many of the arid worlds Dragons first visited showed
an abundance of red rock, which is why the Reds have a slightly rusty sheen to
their hides. They were engineered to blend into the desert background, and to
sneak up on prey if possible. Reds tend to kill with a bite, injecting an oily
venom into their prey, which can kill in minutes. Like the Greens, they are
also capable of “spitting” their venom. Unlike Greens, the Reds can click their
teeth together to cause a spark and ignite the oil. Of all the dragons, the
Reds are the friendliest. Being of such marginal environment, one might expect
Reds to be more territorial than Blues. However, Reds have little in the way of
competition, and live in the largest territories any dragons occupy. The scarcity
of other dragons makes them eager to talk to any intelligent species they
stumble upon, provided they do not threaten a dragon’s territory.
Tropical and semi-tropical deserts.
Black Dragons: The
third dragon species to be engineered were the Black Dragons. They were
designed to live in environments similar to Greens (forested) only hotter.
Blacks thrive in swamps and jungles, and spend half of their time under water.
They hunt almost solely by ambush, lurking beneath the water in a way
reminiscent of crocodiles. Instead of drowning their prey, Blacks inject them
with highly acidic venom, which breaks downs blood vessels and causes massive
internal bleeding. The prey dies from shock quickly, unless the force of the
bite crushes vertebrae. Blacks live in the highest population density of any
dragon species. However, with wide sources of prey, little conflict arises
between Blacks, and between them and other species. Blacks are almost as
sociable as Reds. Their hides are a dark black, similar to the scales of a