New title from Dean R. Giles
The Allure of the Trap
“Daddy, what are they doing?” asked Junior as he peered intently at the figures in the viewer.
“They are trying to make fire, little one”
“They don’t know how!” exclaimed Junior.
“They are primitive, son. Now be quiet, it is almost time.” Devon moved his head closer to the viewer and stared more intently at the center of the activity. He could see that the fuels had been separated and were neatly contained. The entire atmosphere felt completely austere.
“The humans have out done themselves.” he snarled. “The fuels are so well separated and contained that there is no hope of a sustained fire. But, perhaps, if they are treated to a little spark, they may add more fuels and we could have a little blaze after all.” Devon struggled in front of the viewer, focusing his thoughts. “No, no, NO! It is hopeless. The fuels are so devoid of impurities, I can’t seem to align even a few atoms. Ooooh! It is so frustrating!”
“Daddy. Why can’t they just use their thoughts to make the fire?” asked Junior.
“They have puny little brains, they can’t project their thoughts at all. They are very inferior. Now go play, I am tired of all of the questions”
Devon jumped as a deep voice echoed through the room, “Observing the humans again, Devon?” Devon spun towards the sound of the voice.
“Oh, Galaru, I didn’t hear you come in. Yes, I am…observing them.”
“So, Devon, if these humans are inferior as you just mentioned, why do you keep watching them as if they might solve all of our world’s problems?”
“They just might, Galaru.” Devon lifted his eyebrows to emphasize his point.
“Bah! What could the humans possibly teach us?” questioned Galaru.
“You know that there was once a fire-bridge that connected our world to the human world.”
“So I hear.” responded Galaru, “But I don’t know it for a fact.”
“It is not fiction. I have spent some years combing the records. It existed.”
“So you have found references to the fire-bridge in the historical accounts?” asked Galaru.
Devon answered carefully, “Yes, I have, although it is obvious that most of the references have been removed or destroyed.”
“What! Removed or destroyed!” exclaimed Galaru.
“Contain your surprise, my friend. It was done by the Elders long ago to hide their complicity in the war that resulted.” Devon contemplated on the role of the Elders, who destroyed the bridge because it threatened their control. “You know there is only one viewer that shows any other world other than our own. That is because, when the bridge existed, one of our forefathers placed the transmitter to the viewer there. How else could it have gotten there?”
Galaru thought in silence pondering the meaning of Devon’s revelation. “Yes, I suppose that is the best explanation, but for all of these years, why hasn’t the bridge been rebuilt?”
Devon smiled condescendingly. “Because the humans can’t make the type of fire needed on the other side of the bridge. Oh, they have combustion fire that they use everywhere, but the kind of fire that fuels our fire-bridges is foreign to them. They are very close to producing it, they call it ‘cold fusion’”.
“Cold fusion?” gasped Galaru.
Devon laughed, “Why, even the very name of it is another testament of their inferior thinking. Imagine, a fire that burns as hot as a sun, and they call it ‘cold’. Oh, I will never understand them.”
Galaru wondered aloud, “If the humans can’t make fire—then how did the bridge get there in the first place?”
Devon shrugged, “The speculation is that the original occurred naturally, perhaps as the result of a meteor striking the face of the planet and beginning a self-sustaining reaction.”
“Why do the humans struggle so much to make such a simple thing as fire?” asked Galaru.
“The puny-brained humans cannot see the structure of the atoms, they can’t align them with their minds and bring them together naturally to create the spark needed to begin the process. Once the reaction is started, it would be self-sustaining, provided sufficient fuel were present.”
Devon focused on the viewer again and explained to Galaru, “When they are close enough, through the viewer, I can help them out a little. I can align a precious few atoms for them, but the heat of the fire destroys their setup most every time. They also keep the deuterium and the other resources contained so that the reaction has no chance of becoming self-sustaining. So the burst of fire is so short lived that I can do no more than watch and curse.”
Galaru smiled a devilish smile, “So you ‘tempt’ them with success, however small it may be?”
Devon nodded. “Exactly. At every opportunity. There are many groups working on this cold-fusion scattered around their world.”
“How do you know where to look with the viewer to observe it at the critical times?”
“That is a gift from the viewer’s makers. It must have been tuned to the original fire-bridge so that whenever the combination of atoms begins to make the precursors to fire, the viewer is pulled there immediately. I’m able to save the coordinates to look again at a future date. When there is nothing eminent to observe, the viewer is passive and I can will it to view whatever I want.”
“So,” mused Galaru, “they continue their search because of what you promise them in these fleeting moments of success?”
Devon chuckled. “So it seems.”
“Tell me, Devon, have they any chance of creating the fire?”
Devon nodded as he spoke, “They are clever, Galaru, I hold out hope for them in their quest.”
“Well, I wish you luck in your quest as well, old friend.” After a bit of a pause, Galaru continued. “I came over today with a bit more on my mind than just to reflect on your research, Devon.”
“I assumed as much,” responded Devon.
Galaru stood up straight and assumed an official air. “Since you are a Chancellor to the Council of Elders, I have come to request that you sponsor my project to ‘grow’ our own herds and flocks in an attempt to make the animal populations larger on our world.” Galaru also added, “This would not detract from what you are doing at all, Devon.”
Devon looked troubled, “I haven’t decided if I am in favor of that plan yet. How could I agree to sponsor it?”
“But Devon, my plan is practical, it has a chance of stemming the growing need.”
Devon snarled, “So you are saying that my plan is impractical?”
“No, no. It’s just full of variables that we can’t control. Human variables, Devon. I know that without your support I can’t even get to present to the Elders. Come with me so I can present to the Elders.” In a smooth and rehearsed voice Galaru persuaded, “At least come outside now, you haven’t been out in weeks.”
Devon sighed, “Very well, I’ll come outside with you Galaru, but I still haven’t made up my mind to support you in this.”
Outside in the glaring sun, Devon sighed again as he looked over his world, it seemed so barren compared to what he had been looking at in the viewer. They walked for a time in silence. Devon stopped suddenly in his tracks. “I can’t do this Galaru, our people are hunters, not farmers or herdsmen! If we stoop to tending flocks we will be no better than those humans.”
“We can still hunt the raised animals, we can release them into the wild, it will be no different—except there will be a larger supply of animals”
Devon motioned with his hands, “That’s not all, though, the Elders will have their hands in this you know. They will tell us when we can eat and what we can eat. We will be slaves on our own world.”
“But we will still be able to live here, on our world, and raise our families, Devon! It won’t be as bad as all that.” Galaru had raised his voice and was yelling.
“I won’t do it!” Devon yelled in response and began to turn around. “I won’t lower our people to become mere farmers.”
Galaru stopped Devon, “Well, if you won’t support me, perhaps, the next Chancellor that I find will also be interested in your attempts to rebuild the fire bridge into the human world. Understanding the elder’s hand in destroying it long ago, it may not go so well for you if they were to find out.”
Devon’s face clouded, “Are you threatening me?” he asked.
“Whatever it takes to get to the Council of Elders,” replied Galaru.
“You don’t have the stomach for this confrontation, Galaru.” chortled Devon.
Galaru roared, and swung a short, but muscular, and taloned hand at Devon. It connected, ripping open a line of scaled skin on Devon’s cheek. Devon jerked to one side and flipped his massive tail, attempting to take the legs out from under Galaru. Devon’s quick response showed that he was not entirely caught off guard by Galaru’s sudden attack. Galaru shifted his weight and took the brunt of the attack to the side of his body. Devon turned and extended his giant wings, he began to crouch for launching into the air. Galaru was waiting for this opportunity. He launched himself at Devon, but not directly at his body, Galaru landed squarely on one of Devon’s outstretched wings.
Devon opened his gaping jaws and spewed scorching fire at Galaru, who had his wing pinned to the ground. The fire enveloped Galaru, but his tough scaled exterior protected him sufficiently, and he walked up Devon’s wing, moving behind Galaru’s head to avoid a direct fire attack to his own head and face. Devon roared, cranking up the intensity of the fire billowing out of his mouth, but he found himself at a great disadvantage. Galaru clamped his massive jaws onto the base of Devon’s narrowing neck and began to apply pressure. Devon stopped struggling and in a hoarse whisper blurted out, “just get it over with!”
Galaru released his hold and disengaged, with his head bowed, he humbly begged. “Forgive me, Devon, I just lost my temper, that’s all. I had hoped to blackmail you into supporting me, and I was wrong.”
Devon’s wrinkled face twisted into a smile. “So you are a Dragon after all, Galaru, hot tempered, rash, and devious, all of the Dragon traits that I admire most. For my part in this, I only wanted to start a quarrel, because I hoped that you might disable me in the scuffle and take my place as Chancellor to the Council of Elders, then I could devote my time to this fire-bridge. However, I underestimated you. Why didn’t you end my life and take my place as Chancellor when you had the chance?”
“Of course, it crossed my mind. That course of action would have gotten me what I wanted, a chance to present to the Council of Elders—but my life would have been short and miserable afterwards, being the smallest and youngest Chancellor, I would have had to contend with every Dragon wanting the honor of a Chancellorship.”
Devon nodded his head, “you are wise, Galaru, you think things through better than most of us. I will be proud to represent you to the Elders.”
Galaru beamed. “Thank you.” he replied with sudden relief. Then Galaru looked at Devon questioningly.
“If you don’t mind me asking, Devon, what will you do if you can help the humans recreate the fire-bridge?”
Well, first we will send enough Dragons through the bridge to secure it from the humans and from any meddling by the Elders, and then we will test the accuracy of the history books.”
“What do you mean?” asked Galaru.
“Well, we will find out if the humans are as tasty as they are clever.” responded Devon.
The sound of raucous laughter rang through the streets as the two walked towards the fire-bridge that would bring them to the Council of Elders.
This is one of the short stories in the book Continue reading here: