The World Today

The World Today
Earth in 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dragons of Stardust

Green Dragons
Origins: 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 vault.
Size: 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.
Head: 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: Their 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.

Limbs: Dragons 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.
Color: 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 calculator.
Diet: 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 properly.
Lifecycle: A 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.
Reproduction: Dragonettes (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.
Sociability: As 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
Communication: Dragons 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.
Habitat: Greens 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 snows.
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.
Habitat: Savanna, scrublands, open tropical woodlands.
Red Dragons: 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.
Habitat: 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 black mamba.
Habitat: Swamps and tropical rain forests.

No comments:

Post a Comment