“Dr. Kaserman, are we close yet?” asked Gills as he heaved heavily under the weight of his sharper’s pack. The man was an intern, a would-be Zoologist, working in association with the University of Teslos Advaros, the most prestigious of all Drekon Upper Echelon Universities within the Hades Galaxy. He was slim with unkempt black hair and thick black rimmed glasses with an appearance made all the more unruly from sweat stains under his t-shirt as he marched behind his thesis director, Dr Kaserman.
His academic superior, this woman, was a menace upon the legitimate Drekon Scientific Community; always in the field, always publishing ridiculous papers about the Pax Draconic, a race of lizard men well known as the oldest space faring civilization in intergalactic zoological records. Her papers were trash, unfit to wipe the collective ass of the Drekons most poorly educated masses, but… she still possessed a Doctoral, and took on students. Thus, Gills had agreed to become a research aide upon one of her demented expeditions looking for, ‘dragons,’ for a fast pass on his thesis.
Oh how he loathed her, the red haired demon in a brown khaki shirt and shorts as she marched up the winding jungle paths with her twin red pigtails bouncing in jest as if to say, ‘I hold your fate in my hands so march minon, march!’
So, the pair, a Doctor of Pax Draconic Zoology and her Grad Student weaved through the jungle underbrush, hacking away at creeping vines with machetes, until at last they reached the base of a giant stone temple covered in moss and leafy foliage.
“We found it, right where the old historical records said that it would be,” she stated, looking back at him with a twisted smile across her aging leather featured face.
Gills stepped forward from the underbrush and gave the stone temple a proper look over, “Aztec?” he asked, puzzled. The pair were in the Hades Galaxy, upon a jungle world by the name of Fergus 4, and yet here was an ancient Earth Aztec Temple. It was so out of place, so… it was just simply not suppose to be here.
“Well,” she said while starting to ascend the temple steps, “Let’s not keep him waiting.”
“Him?” asked Gills with a sense of apprehension.
“Yes, Xargothus…” she stopped briefly and looked back, waving him forward like an eager usher, “I’ve waited my entire academic career for this moment. The chance to finally meet one of them… alive… in the flesh and blood.”
Gills frowned deeply. She was mad, insane, dragons weren’t real, the Pax Draconic were legends nothing more. Sure, there bones had been discovered, but a race of living breathing dragons, please, it was the stuff of bad science fiction writers not proper academia.
Together the pair topped the temple and entered a vast chamber lined with ornate stone statues of lizard men in pose, wielding staves, like some sort of bizarre gallery of J.R.R. Tolkien’s magic casters. It was now that Gills heard it, music, was it… yes it was… the Brandenburg Concerto No 1 Allegro, by Johann Sebastian Bach.
“What in the name of…” he uttered as the pair rounded a darkened corner, suddenly finding themselves on the verge of a well illuminated chamber filled with ornate oak furniture and walls upon walls of well preserved leather bound books.
“I knew it,” said Dr. Kaserman, “he’s real…”
Gills watched the aging auburn burst into tears of joy as she collapsed against a nearby bookcase while holding her sweat stained chest in a clenched fist, “They all laughed at me. They said that I was crazy. But I KNEW!! I KNEW THEY WERE REAL!!”
Her Grad student felt something stir nearby and turned just in time to see something large arise from a wooden chair opposite a burning fireplace. This creature stood to his complete height of over six feet, dressed in a 1700s black waistcoat with ornate grey embellishments, and a strange white frilly handkerchief tucked neatly upon his chest. This thing, it placed an old book to the side and turned its large eerie red eyes laden within a head of sharply featured bones towards the pair of humans.
“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?” he spoke.
The creature chuckled and placed its sharp bony like arms behind its back as it paced forward, “It’s from Hamlet. I must confess that I have always been something of a fan of your Shakespeare, although at times his works do come off as a tad bit morbid.”
“Are,” gasped Dr. Kaserman, “Are you real?”
This creature suddenly stopped, and as if suddenly caught unawares in a moment of brief reflection he gave a gracious bow, “My apologies my dear lady for I have forgotten my manners. I am Xargothus and this is my home. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
The ancient earth music continued to play in the background as this dragon ushered his guests to their respective seats. Gills was still having a rather difficult time believing that this creature was some sort of dragon… pah… dragons were not real. Surely, this… bony creature was something else entirely?
The two humans took seats opposite their guest as he poured three glasses of wine, handing them out to his new acquaintances, before also sitting comfortably in his own ornate oak and velvet throne.
“Undoubtedly you have questions. This place is not easily found for I have taken great care to remove myself from the normal interactions with your species. So please,” he motioned with his taloned palm, “You creatures have such little time in comparison to one such as myself.”
“Are you a drago…” Dr. Kaserman stopped herself mid-word while fearing that the term might come off as something of a slur, “Are you a Pax Draconic?”
“Indeed I am,” replied their host, “One of roughly three million in existence. Our kind is not extinct, but rather than… removed… from interacting with the rest of your species. This isolation is self imposed as a means of continuing both our existence and yours, for you see… the Raven and Hyperians do not take kindly to our eagerness with ushering your kind in the right direction.”
Gills felt his heart race at the very mention of the word ‘Raven.’ Humanity had yet to recover from the Ravens March, the brutal war of eradication unleashed by that wretched biomechanical alien race so long ago. And, to think that this creature not only knew of them, but was also referencing them casually as equals.
“What do you know of the Ravens and these… Hyperians?”
Xargothus swished his wine around in his glass and feigned amusement, “The Ravens are a biomechanical race created during the Second Seed of this Universe. They were created by the Hyperians who are the first living creatures in existence. These creatures you call Ravens are not the monsters you believe them to be, though I will admit that they do lack appropriate social skills and their emotional stances can at times seem rather drab in comparison to such a rugged species like you humans.”
“Wait, the Ravens did not create our universe? Then… these Hyperians are actually gods? They were the ones who created everything including us?”
“Yes, actually. These Hyperians are actually creatures of pure thought, pure intellect, unlike ourselves which exist purely in a physical form. They, unlike us, exist only as wisps of data and recollection, occasionally taking physically manifested forms in order to interact with the universes they create. In a way, they are the highest expression of the universe, living beings self manifested from nothing in order to give meaning to nothing. Since they were the first beings they are not bound by rules and laws like you, I, or the Raven. They predate known physics and are therefore capable of manipulating reality itself on a whim.”
Xargothus took another sip of his wine and smiled fondly, “You’ve never met one have you. A Raven or a Hyperian that is?” he let the question linger.
“No, no living person has ever met either,” replied Gills.
“Ah,” gawked their guest, “Then allow me to give you some information on them. You might find this useful later on. The Raven believe in order and purpose as absolutes. Every Raven serves a purpose and a function, and this defines them as individuals. When the Raven slaughtered all those humans so long ago they did it to curb your population growth so that you would stop consuming all the resources in this universe thus ushering in its inevitable decline and reseed by the Hyperians. You see, Hyperians are not the gods you think they are, specifically the New Testament, with that all nice and kind and fluffy type of god. They are actually rather uncaring about their creations, giving almost no attention to them, and instead choosing to let them do as they please. Occasionally, a Hyperian will take a personal interest in somebody or something and obsesses over it, but by and large they are morally and intellectually ambivalent to you, me, and pretty much everyone.”
“Are you saying that, ‘god,’ doesn’t give a crap about humanity?” asked Gills, perhaps a wee bit ruder than intended.
“Indeed,” toasted Xargothus, “Hyperians are… to use a fitting term for people in your professions, ‘empty headed academics.’ They always take a hands off approach to their creations, interacting only to satiate their other more obsessive acts of curiosity. But, overall… they don’t care about anyone. They just hit the reset button once a universe dies, watch us go about our one hundred trillion year cycle, and then do it all over again. It’s nothing personal, they just don’t care. Now, the Ravens on the other hand, they are totally different.”
“Yes, explain more about the Ravens,” said Dr Kaserman, after having since regained her sharp academic acuity.
“Ravens look at universes, each universe as it is created, with a sense of urgency. They find prospective races with potential for growth and development, and then subsequently cultivate them, nudging them in the right direction. You see, Ravens aren’t evil, but they do believe in a sense of urgency. They realize that in the grand scheme of things, 100 trillion years isn’t really a lot of time to develop extra dimensional technology capable of shielding an entire race from a reseed extinction event. That is why they did, what they did, to your race. It was a drastic measure meant to buy you some extra time.”
“So, they were doing us a favor, less these Hyperians return and kill us all.”
“No, it doesn’t work like that. Hyperians only reseed universes after all bioelectrical possibilities have been extinguished. In short, once they have determined that the heat and rad emissions have reached a point where no creatures can reform or otherwise be created, then they wipe the slate clean and create something new. Your species will be long extinct before that happens. Thus, 100 trillion years is more like 2 trillion for you humans. The Ravens know this and naturally took preventative measures to keep the wheels moving, so to speak, until you develop the technological capabilities capable of removing yourselves from existence much like ourselves.”
“Why don’t they just give us this technology?” asked Gills.
“Because,” Xargothus took a sip of his wine, “Would you give a loaded gun to a toddler. Same concept, except this loaded gun can destroy entire galaxies. We’re talking about time and space manipulation here, not just warp travel. You have to prove that you can handle this power before we let you use it. Develop it yourselves and don’t shoot yourselves in the foot. Both the Raven and Pax Draconic see eye to eye on this. Of course, we’ve seen eye to eye on a lot of things involving humanity, but that was more… well… those were the good old days when your species was slightly less intelligent.”
“Care to explain?” asked Gills, taking a slight against his ancestor’s berating.
“Ah yes, the good old days when The Pax Draconic and Raven stepped in and nudged your species in the right direction of moral and social development,” reminisced Xargothus with a hint of senility, “Jesus, Moses, etc; all aliens. I have to admit, playing Satan to a Raven Jesus was rather amusing. We staged all those miracles, a few nanites into a well to turn water into wine, using anti-gravity to part the Red Sea, all classic ploys meant to stop humans from trying to reproduce with sheep or other barnyard animals. In a way, it worked, but I do regret all the World Wars. That having been said, you can’t stop a species hedonism without breaking a few billion proverbial eggs so to speak.”
“You’re SATAN?” yelped Dr. Kaserman.
Xargothus regarded her as if in shock, “Oh, only in appearance. All those battles between good and evil were staged for your benefit. In truth, the Atheists have it right; there is no afterlife, no Hell and no Heaven, but…” he chuckled, “good luck telling them that now.”
“That having been said, there are places in-between places, and there also exists several alien races of extreme power that you humans have yet to encounter. For example, the Shanxi, a race of lunatic serial killer aliens whose attempts to master extra-dimensional technology resulted in the collapse of their entire galaxy and eventual fall into madness. Or, Xaxera, a race of aliens that posse’s extra dimensional technology, but who are also perpetually afraid that humans secretly desire their gold… I think you humans like to refer to them as Leprechauns, but I can’t exactly remember.”
“In any case,” continued Xargothus, “Our time here is at an end.”
The dragon stood from his chair and strolled to Dr. Kaserman’s side, “You’ve lived a rather harsh life my dear lady. I regret how abusive those arrogant academic know-it-alls can be, so tell me,” he extended out one of his arms to form a loop against his waist, “How would you like to join me? This is a onetime offer, a backstage pass to eternity. Nobody is going to care if I bring a single human into our little club assuming you agree not to share what we have with your ill prepared race less they become like the Shanxi.”
Dr. Kaserman stood to her feet and took Xargothus looped arm with her aging quivering palms. She looked up at him, her leather skinned face all pale and eager, “I would love nothing more,” she replied.
“Excellent,” replied Xargothus, “Then shall we go my lady.”
Before Gills could open his mouth in protest, he had blinked, and was suddenly standing in the University of Teslos Advaros Main Student Plaza. Numerous people were milling about their business as he looked down into his hands where a large paper document was bound neatly within a plastic folder. He opened the folder and discovered his Thesis and Dr. Kaserman’s approval letter passing him from his studies.
“But I,” he quickly searched around and caught a brief glimpse from the shadows of a young Auburn woman, gorgeous, young, and beautiful, following a large burly shadow into a glowing white doorway, “I didn’t even write it yet…”
Upon his Thesis was also a small yellow post-it with the phrase, ‘Dragons are real,’ written in ornate calligraphy. This made Gills chuckle. “They truly are,” he said fondly while closing the folder and resuming a short walk towards the Graduate Office.
This story was submitted by JCDenton2012 for the AE Stories Event. Find Details on sending your own Story here.