Chapter 41: Be It Ever So Humble
Liam stood amazed as Roon grabbed the small dragon by the neck and hoisted it up. The dragon’s head lolled to one side and its long reptilian tongue hung out of it mouth. He was POSING! Just like a big game hunter, Roon posed with the Dragon in his grasp. Jonathan snapped a few pictures and Roon insisted on reviewing them. After grunting his satisfaction, Jonathan handed the camera back to Ethan.
Sheepishly, Jonathan muttered, “I really, really wish I had never taught him that.”
Leaving the dragon behind on the ground, they all approached the cluster of buildings that had been Jonathan’s home on and off again for several years. One building still stood, but its door swung in the wind.
“Well so much for hoping…” was all Jonathan said as he steadied the door and plunged into the darkness of the interior of the building.
Everyone followed and flipped their lights on as they entered. Even though they knew from the demonstration they just had how good Roon’s senses were, no one wanted to be taken by surprise. Liam was the last one in. He turned around as he took in his surroundings.
The first impression he felt, other than how destroyed everything was, was how small it was. There was a cot at one end that took up half the wall. It also had a latrine that was made from a camping toilet. Fortunately, everything in it was frozen solid as it had sat for at least six months without being cleaned out.
There was a small kitchenette along another wall and the rest of the room was occupied by supplies, a desk and electronics of all shapes and sizes. At least they used to be. Most of them were overturned, smashed and broken, littering the floor of the cabin. There was broken glass everywhere, but that hardly mattered to the thick artic combat boots they were all wearing.
“Dad, how could you live like this?” Liam took it all in again, making another sweep.
“You don’t know the half of it son.” Jonathan was picking up discarded pieces. Some things he was putting in a pile and other things he was just tossing aside.
He grabbed the edge of the overturned table he was using as a desk. “Give me a hand with this,” He said to anyone that would listen. Liam rushed over to the other side. They righted the table that was almost the size of the pool table. Liam continued “I know we didn’t exactly live in a mansion, but this?”
Ethan cut in, “What do you mean you didn’t live in a mansion? You are Jonathan Waite of Waite Aerospace, multi-billionaire, philanthropist.”
Liam finished for him, “Who still lived in his mother’s house…yes.”
Ethan said. “Mother’s house?”
“Well, it went back a few more generations than that. I knew it was always in the family, I didn’t know he had lived there over a hundred years before.”
Jonathan cut in, “Remember, son, I didn’t choose to become rich. It just sort of happened by accident. Hand me that pry bar if you would. I seem to have misplaced the key for my desk drawer.”
Liam noticed for the first time that it really was a desk; It had just been lying face down. It had a lap drawer that Jonathan had been trying to open with his fingers. In this cold he was likely to do more damage to himself than the desk. Liam picked up the pry bar from behind him and handed it to him.
Ethan pressed the subject. “So you lived in a normal house like everyone else?”
Liam answered, “Well it was pretty big as Victorian homes of the actual Victorian age could be. It was three stories and about five bedrooms, but definitely not a mansion. It was old and haunted.”
Zak raised an eyebrow. He said, “Haunted?”
“Well, to a young boy with a vivid imagination it was. I used to hear voices all the time. Sometimes I would hear footsteps upstairs when I was alone in the house.”
Jonathan was applying pretty strong leverage to the drawer, but it was not budging. Roon sauntered over, cracked his knuckles and gave it a slight tug. The drawer sprang open and would have flown across the room had Ethan’s gut not been in the way.
“Hey, that hurt!” He turned to Jonathan. “Would you tell him that hurt?” Roon just looked sheepishly at Jonathan.
“He says he’s sorry… oh, and get over it pansy, although those were not his exact words. He can be rather crude sometimes.” Jonathan was busy picking through the contents of the drawer that had spilled onto the floor and stuffing them into his pockets. His eyes spied a small silver box with a digital connector on it that looked like an ancient flash drive. With an exclamation, he grabbed it. “Eureka.”
“You found it?”
“I sure did. It looks in great shape. If the cold didn’t get to it, everything will be fine.”
Ethan stood up. “Ok, we got what we came for, is there anything else you need?”
“Well, now that you mention it, yes. We need to take back all this equipment I’ve been piling on the floor.”
“All this junk?”
“This junk was what was monitoring the new moon before those stupid church fools came in and destroyed everything.”
“If they are destroyed, what good are they to you?”
“The recording systems are trash, but just like this data card, the information they collected is probably still good. I’m pretty sure that information is going to become rather important.”
“OK, then, let’s get this all moved out to the launch. Liam, grab that blanket.”
They piled all the equipment on the blanket, about four hundred pounds all together. Roon gathered the corners in and picked up his half. Liam and Ethan each grabbed another corner. It took a little maneuvering, but they managed to get the pack out of the doorway without too much additional damage. They started across the short clearing to where the trees began and stopped short.
Ahead of them in the clearing, the Rym-Drakkor mother had apparently recovered. She was warily eyeing them as they emerged from the cabin. She was distraught and pacing back and forth.
“Damn, I thought Roon killed that thing.”
Jonathan picked up a tree branch. “No, I’m sorry I failed to mention, Na’Kie are pacifists. They only hunt to eat and then only out of necessity. He only knocked it unconscious. I’ve gotten used to it. Here, do what I do and we should be fine.”
Jonathan circled around, maintaining the same distance from the smallish dragon. She was favoring one wing. Jonathan truly hoped she had a mate or else she might freeze to death up here minding her eggs and not able to fly. The others picked up what objects they could and followed his motions. Jonathan started beating two sticks together in a rhythm. The dragon shook its head. She advanced, but then thought better of it. The mother looked over at the pile of rubble that was hiding her nest. She looked back at the party. They continued to hit objects together, following the same rhythm as before, only louder. They approached her. Suddenly, her nerve gave out and she stumbled as she tried to fly and the awkwardly ran towards her nest.
Jonathan dropped his sticks.
“How did you know to do that?”
“When you have been here for ten years you pick up some things. Did you see the marks on her neck?”
No one could remember seeing anything other than the teeth.
“She had been in captivity once. She had rope marks on her neck. I’ve seen it before. I’ve seen what the handlers do. All I did was the same thing they do to the Fire Drakes to get them back into to their cages. It was a gamble, but it worked. She has children right over there. She doesn’t deserve to die. She’s only protecting them.”
Jonathan reached down and picked up a corner of the blanket. Taking the cue, Liam grabbed another and Roon picked up the remaining two. They pushed their way back through the scrub pines and brush to the clearing. Zak has been monitoring their progress and had sat the ship down, waiting for them to emerge from the tree line.