by Mike Brotzman
part 5
 2 3

  "Oh, there you are. You had us all worried again."
  It was Sam (at least I think his name was Sam, I'm generally really bad with names), one of the weekend keepers assigned to make sure that nothing bad happened to the University's prize research specimen.
  "Come on, you don't have to sleep on the cold ground, we have a new place for you."
  "Where, on a roof?"
  "Oh, who told you?"
  I buried my face in my talons, "Nobody, it was attempted sarcasm."
  "Don't worry, it's covered by a big tarp and we moved some of your government goodies up there."
  The chem building had a raised ring of ventilation equipment on the roof, creating a pseudo courtyard in the middle. While I had been off gallivanting around, some contractors had come in, cleared out all the snow and slush, put down some padding and then covered about two thirds of the enclosed area with a durable plastic cover. In my fatigued state, I was somewhat pissed that I was expected to fly again, but once I crawled onto the soft foam padding and curled up under the thick government issue blanket, I was in dragon heaven. Sure, I could have easily slept outside, but that doesn't mean I don't like to be nice and toasty.
  I woke up with a start feeling refreshed, energized and just a tad hungry, but something was wrong as I untangled the blanket from the spiky bits around my head. It was dark and silent out and a cold breeze tickled my nostrils. A quick look at the clock that had been provided for me indicated that it was only 2:16 AM. Further attempts to fall back asleep failed and I thought that a brief walk (or flight) would alleviate my early AM jitters. As I crawled out of my shelter, the silence and emptiness of the night proved too much for me and I began grabbing things together. I needed to fly!
  I mixed up some "go juice" and with it I threw some carbohydrous snacks into my new backpack. I tightened the straps and stood up on the wall, spreading my silver wings and briefly admiring the glow they gave off in the ambient light. The air that night was near freezing, but the only thing I felt was something akin to a strong mint rather than a deadly cold. I flapped my wings and launched myself into the air.
  My destination was an abandoned quarry about two miles away. I was developing an irritating feeling of cruddiness, and figured that a refreshing bath in one of the deep pools of water would serve to wash both dirt and troubles away. My plan was simple. Fly unobserved through the dark morning, land and go for a dip, grab a quick bite to eat, rest my wings and finally get back 'home' before anybody noticed I was gone. As I tried to fly in the most efficient way possible, I sailed over Rt. 17, the Super Stop & Shoppe and Connecticut Rt. 9. As the glow of the city faded behind me, I began to see more and more. Scanning the suburban landscape, I noticed that things were starting acquire the grainy look of image intensifying night vision, with little bright patches of light appearing every so often. It wasn't until I saw one of the bright patches dash across a back yard that I realized that the bright spots were living creatures, their body heat (or maybe even their life force) standing out against the cold night as a bluish glow. I was amazed about how this area was so full of life. As a human I had been no better than blind, but now with my powerful eyesight and night vision I could see all that I had been missing. Rodents, birds, snakes, cats and dogs all plainly stood out and the forest ahead of me seemed to glow with life. I resisted the urge to swoop down on largish, sleeping deer shaped blob and made a beeline for the first quarry pond, but a humming sound and the feint smell of exhaust caused me to quickly change course.
  The quarry had had several sections, and when it was abandoned the company was forced to 'restore' some parts. The restoration consisted of smoothing out the deep scars with fill dirt until what was left was a very contoured rock strewn meadow. I flew right above the treetops seeing first the glow of headlights, then the outline of an SUV and finally the fact that it was stuck in a rather large mud puddle. A grin spread across my muzzle, I might be able to start my Sunday off on the right claw by performing a random act of goodness.
  I made a near perfect landing about 200 feet away from the stranded off roader. He had probably gone out for a late night ride and gotten stuck in a thinly frozen over mud puddle. I would stand a good distance away and ask if his human needed assistance, and upon receiving a positive response I would extricate his vehicle from the mud.
  The human had gotten out to try to put some sticks around his half sunken tires in a futile effort to gain traction. "Hello there! Do you need any help?" I yelled out.
  Startled, the human looked around, reached in through the window, grabbed what had to be something like a million candlepower spotlight and shined it at my mysterious voice. I lowered my head and held up my talon to block out the blinding light that had reduced my superior vision to a multi-coloured splotch. I then heard a door open and then slam shut a few seconds later. The realization of who this guy was and what he was doing suddenly dawned upon me. My legs sprang into action and drove my body into an adjacent restored quarry pit just as a loud crack broke the blanket of silence.
  I hit the ground and pressed myself up against the slope of the pit to get out of his line of fire, still seeing nothing but glowing dots. This wasn't some hapless off-road enthusiast, but an illegal hunter who was out spotlighting deer. I felt a small stinging coming from the base of my tail and to my horror I saw a small dribble of blood oozing from a bullet wound. I wiggled my tail around and breathed a sign of relief when I found that the bullet hadn't hit anything vital.
  Now, Connecticut had a rather significant deer problem, with the vermin spreading disease, destruction and auto accidents all across the state, and so I really didn't have any moral objection to what this guy was doing, but now I had bumbled in and become his next target. Life truly sucks when you realize that your brain is encased in the ultimate wall trophy.
  I had to get out of there, and I had to be very careful in doing so. If I made the wrong move, I could end up with a copper coated piece of lead in one of any number of critical locations. I grabbed two 20-pound rocks in my claws and prepared to hurl them in the hunter's general direction. Thus distracted, the hunter would be less able to get a shot off as I ran back down the road like a big silver barn door. I lay on back, launched the rocks with a smooth underhand cast and took off toward the road on all fours.
  I had only gone a few paces when I felt something else hit my back and then clatter down to the ground. Turning slightly, I saw an oblong metallic object lying on the ground and after sniffing at it for some reason, I picked it up and found myself holding the human's rifle. I smiled. My impromptu barrage must have unnerved the human into surrender. It was time to re-evaluate my position. "Human! If you wish to live come out where I can see you then lay flat on the ground with your hands behind your back."
  A shaky figure made its way to the edge of the slope and got down on the ground. Circling around behind him to preclude trickery I pressed my talon on his back pinning his arms to his back and his body to the ground.
  "P-please, p-please don't kill me. I didn't mean to shoot at you, I swear. I just got scared. Oh God, I have a wife and kid. Please don't kill me."
  His pathetic cries were angering me. The fool creature wasn't even man enough to face his own death. His extermination would be doing the world a favour, but I had to remain calm and not eat this piece of meat. Just calm down and talk -- talk, don't eat -- talk, don't eat. "Don't worry, human, I will not harm you. Would you mind explaining to me what you were doing in my forest with this rifle?" Tee hee, I've always wanted to have my own forest.
  "I -- I've just been having trouble making ends meet what with the economy going south and all. I just wanted to make my food budget go a little farther is all."
  "Were you at all successful tonight?"
  "I -- I got two turkeys and a deer."
  "Well human, it looks like it is your lucky night. Here's the deal. I will let you up, I will forgive you for shooting me, you will give me everything you have bagged tonight, I will push your vehicle out of the mud, I will keep your weapon, you will drive out of here and you will hunt legally from now on. You got that?"
  He nodded and I let him up. He went to the back of his SUV and I helped him unload the game he had shot. Before he got back in to his vehicle I felt he could use one more speech. "Listen human, as soon as you drive out of here this matter is forgotten. I'm not going to tell the police (or anybody else for that matter) of this little incident, and if I see you again I don't want you running away in fear of reprisal. Maybe we could even be friends. If you needed some food, I'm sure I could safely hunt some up for you."
  The man seemed to agree with me despite the fact he was still visibly shaking. He'd probably mellow out when he found that I had left his rifle in his cargo area. I'm not a big meanie and after all, the university doesn't allow firearms. The human got in his car, started the engine while I placed my talons on the back trying not to scratch the paint too badly. He gunned it and, with my help, the car slid out of the mud like a baby and a minute later all that was left was some slowly settling dust on the access road. I decided to chalk this one up in the 'win' column.
  Glancing down at my spoils I figured that it was time I tried some 'real' food. I picked up a turkey, popped it in my mouth, crunched it up and swallowed. All in all, it wasn't that bad. The taste didn't jump at me as anything 'raw' or 'icky', but merely different. It was just like some new seasoning or sauce, and furthermore my tongue was bombarded with all the many wonderful tastes from blood and assorted organs. Well, except for the digestive tract, that part was nasty. After I devoured the second turkey, I started in on the deer carcass. Removing the tape from my claws, slitting it neatly down the middle and lifting out the shit-filled nasty bits, I realized that my human scene of disgust and 'gross' had been replaced by newer dragon software and, accordingly, I felt the best place to dig in was the head.
  Firmly grasping the body I slid my jaws over the doe's head and bit down, shaking my head back and forth to get some saw action going. The head popped free into my mouth and I bit down hard. So, how many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll centre of a tootsie pop? I'll tell you... one. I then used my claws to neatly remove each limb, sucked off the meat, and then for a balanced diet, I crunched the bones and hooves. While I was eating I kept getting this urge just to 'breath' the carcass, so when I got down to just the torso I felt like giving into my instincts. I opened my mouth, and my breakfast was enveloped in a rush of super-cold plasma (or "fog" to the untrained observer), after which the frosty torso snapped and cracked as it unevenly expanded. I picked up the now rigid body and took a bite out of the rear. It snapped right off,and as I brought my jaws down it shattered into thousands of pieces. It was like eating a deer flavoured sno-cone, and as the frozen chunks came in contact with my tongue there was an explosion of taste. Now I could enjoy meat in any of three ways, cooked, raw and frozen. I guess immortal creatures just require more dinner options.
  I hadn't forgotten about my bath, so I began to run back down the access road at a trot. It was still quite dark out and the utter silence was starting to creep me out. Ok, I realize that I am a multi-tonne, armoured dragon with an impressive array of offensive and defensive weapons, but when it's 3 AM and you're walking down a deserted dirt road in the middle of the woods, miles from anybody or anything and nobody else knows where you are, you start to think and soon your mind is running around in circles.
  I kept feeling like someone or something was watching me, following me or was getting ready to jump out and attack me. As body follows mind I felt my strings tightening, and my body preparing for some sort of attack or possibly an all out panic (which is utterly ludicrous considering I was by far the most dangerous thing around). Fortunately, I was spared such an outcome when a wayward doe sprang out of the forest and froze right in front of me. I was on such an edge that I reared up and spread my wings ready to claw, freeze and bite any forest beastie, but the sight of such an utterly cute and helpless creature quickly disarmed me. Completely forgetting that fact that I had just eaten one of her brethren I got down on all fours and tried to look non-threatening. The doe was paralyzed with fright and she was completely at my mercy, unable to even run away, but I quickly put any thought of devouring her out of my mind. First of all I had just filled up, and second I really didn't feel comfortable with taking the life of another living creature... yet.
  Making comforting sounds, I approached the doe and gently picked her up. I felt the warmth of her body contrast with the cold of the night even through my hard scales. Now as I walked I comforted the doe, which also served to take my mind off the situation, and I felt the fear in the flighty creature begin to drain away. I realize it was sort of wrong to be using a wild creature like this, but I really needed a furry warm pet right then. As I walked, I could sort of feel a connection developing with the fragile creature in my grasp. It wasn't because I could now like talk with animals or anything, but simply because I wasn't human. At least for the time being, I was part of that natural cycle that humans had opted out of so long ago. I was the predator and she was the prey, but for the time being we had set aside our duties to take a break in the employee lounge. Carefully holding the deer in my arms I scrambled up a steep hill, crossed a field and pushed my way through the brush to my original goal.
  I set the doe down, bid her off and turned to the ice-covered pond. Using my elbow spikes and my sheer weight I was able to punch a hole through the ice and then, having nothing to lose I slid into the icy water, tail first. Just like with the liquid nitrogen and the frigid night air, I couldn't really feel the cold like I had known it as a human, but I did notice my heart and breathing rate take a jump. No insulation could be 100% effective, and to keep my body isothermic my metabolism had probably taken a step up. I slid under the surface and tried to touch the bottom, a few seconds later the burning in my lungs told me to abort my attempt. The rate I was burning O2 limited my underwater time to about 30 seconds each, but the freezing cold was so relaxing and I definitely felt cleaner. I wouldn't have been surprised if I had left a slick on the water surface as I performed acrobatics under the pond's mantle of ice. Finally, when the glow of dawn was beginning to fill the sky, I called it quits and pulled myself back onto the rocky shore.
  As my head cleared the rim of the pond I found myself staring into the watery eyes of the doe. It looks like I had made a new friend, and although having a deer as a pet would make for some great PR (like a lion raising a baby or something), I really didn't feel like the hassle. "Ok my little friend it was fun, but I have to go now and unfortunately, the next time we have to go back to the normal arrangement. I really would like to get to know you better, but... well you're what I eat. I know that sucks, but we all have our jobs to perform."
  Then to translate my speech into deer I bared my teeth, growled and gave the doe a swipe across the bum with my claws. She took off like a rocket into the darkness, hopefully knowing to avoid dragons in the future. I then shook myself dry and walked back through the brush to get to the large open terrace where I could take off. The terrace part was the result of more restoration, and it basically consisted of a large flat field that ended in a steep 40-foot drop down to the rest of the complex. I spread my wings, and after a short running start I plunged over the edge and rose into the air.
  Praying that nobody would feel the urge to look up this early in the morning I winged my way back to my new lair. I artfully landed on the raised portion and then slid under the white plastic tarp falling back asleep as soon as my wings were folded.
  ::sniff sniff:: Mmmm, sausage. ::sniff:: Mmmmm, eggs. Ok you big lazy lizard, get yourself up. ::longish pause:: I said get up, there's food. ::longish pause:: Damnit body, you must obey my commands. Get up!
  Slowly my eyes opened to reveal that my rooftop breakfast service had delivered, and that a human (who may or may not have been named Sam) was standing there to talk to me. I lifted my front end up and greeted him. "Hey, what's up?"
  "I was just installing your TV."
  "Great! Do I get cable up here?"
  "You sure do."
  "Here, try your new dragon-sized remote."
  I turned on the TV and finally settled on one of those Sunday morning political pundit shows. As was to be expected, the topic of conversation centred on the all the recent transformations. The views were all over the spectrum. The Democrats wanted to embrace us and then make sure we didn't pose a danger and, on the other hand, the Republicans wanted to make sure we didn't pose a danger, and then embrace us and then find a way to exploit us. It was another race to the middle and the winner sure wasn't John Q. Voter.
  I winced slightly as a stab of pain shot up my spine.
  "You are... finally. What's wrong, you seem like your in pain."
  "Nah, I'm ok."
  "Don't be ridiculous, there is clearly something wrong with your tail, let me have a look."
  "No, no, it's ok, really." I said, thinking maybe I should actually look at it myself. "Whoa."
  My tail was clearly swollen around the area of the bullet wound and the scales were slightly separated because of it. It looked like a bloody artichoke.
  "Mike, what happened here? This looks like some sort of puncture wound."
  "I must have gotten it caught on a piece of rebar or a protruding bolt or something. Damn thing has a mind of its own."
  "Wait, this looks like a gunshot wound. Somebody shot you!"
  Jeez, was this kid a med student or something?
  "I need to call Dr. Smith so he can get the bullet out and do something about infection."
  "Hey, don't be so hasty. There's no need to involve anybody else. I'm a big tough dragon remember, you can get the object out yourself. Just go get some needle nosed pliers and some rubbing alcohol."
  "Are you crazy, we need to call Dr. Smith."
  "How about I give you $20 just to keep this between you and me?"
  "No! Get off it. I'm calling him."
  "Listen you insolent primate. Put down that phone or I'll make sure you die a slow and painful death!"
  "Go ahead."
  "Um, please?"
  "Quiet, it's ringing."
  I began to mumble something about dragons not getting any respect anymore and how things used to be different back in the day and about half and hour later a very well dressed and rather angry Dr. Smith arrived.
  "I just had to leave church early because I received a page that said something to the effect that you had been shot. Is this some sort of sick joke or has your level of irresponsibility reached a new high."
  "I wasn't shot, I just caught it on something."
  "Swing your tail this way and let me have a look."
  I sheepishly moved my tail over towards him.
  "Sure looks like a gunshot wound to me."
  I was sticking by my story because I promised the poacher guy that nobody else would know about the little mishap. "I just caught it on something."
  "Well, it looks like I going to have to get the 'something' out. Sam, hand me my medical bag."
  He pulled out what looked like a medical version of needle nose pliers and went about disinfecting the area around the wound.
  "Aren't you going to use some sort of pain killer?"
  "You don't deserve a pain killer. Maybe this way you'll learn something."
  I gritted my teeth and squeezed the padding with my talons as the 'doctor' re-opened the wound to extract the bullet, making a sickening eggshell noise as he worked.
  "Ah, here we go. It looks like you got your tail caught on a .30 caliber something." He noted as he dropped the bullet into a specimen jar, injected some mild antibiotics into the area then bandaged and cleaned the wound. "Ok, it's clear that you want to keep this quiet and I'm going to offer you a little deal. I'll keep this little incident to myself if... you let my children meet you and show them a good time."
  "How would I show them a good time?"
  "Talk to them, have you picture taken with them, give them a ride."
  "Or, I could just turn this bullet over to the police."
  "Fine, when are they coming over?"
  "Now. They are down in the car waiting for me to get done with you."
  "Well, I was thinking of spending the day camped out on Foss Hill, meeting people, talking with them and such, anyway. Can you grab that pile of government literature? I can read it after I'm done with your kids."
  I jumped down near the parking lot, and immediately a mini-van door slid open and two little kids jumped out and ran at me screaming with excitement. When Smith arrived he told me their names were Anne and Chris, age 12 and 8. I gave them the full tour, wings, scales, horns, tail, etc. Of course they asked to see my fire breath, and I calmly informed that it was rude to assume that all dragons could breath fire and that different kinds of dragons could breath all sorts of different things. Although not very impressive in the middle of January, I was about to demonstrate my little ice blast when Dr. Smith's vigorous head shaking told me I should keep things subdued.
  About a roll of film later, I was showing the two rugrats that I did not have a forked tongue. I felt something being thrown over my neck.
  "I agreed to a ride, but any type of saddle is most definitely out of the question," I quietly hissed at Dr. Smith.
  "Calm thyself, it is just a blanket. I don't want my kids to tear their Sunday best on your scales. Some of us still have to wear clothes you know."
  "Yes, and it is a barbaric practice. Just don't push your luck 'Doctor'."
  I swallowed my pride (it's a good thing my maw is so big, or maybe that I had already lost my pride on Thursday) and the two kids were placed on my ample neck.
  "Giddy up," chided one of them and they both started kicking at my neck.
  "Huhuhuhu," I shuddered. What did they think I was, some bloody overgrown horse? This was a dark day for dragons everywhere. I started walking, glancing back and forth hoping that nobody would look over and see me, and the children began to howl in delight. Had I the power to turn invisible I surely would have done it right then and there, but as I walked around the building the young humans' addictive mirth began to wear down my resolve and, against my better judgment, I started having fun.
  "Hold on kids." Anne grabbed my horns and Chris grabbed Anne and I took off at a dragon trot.
  "Wheeeee!" they yelled in unison.
  Dr. Smith was yelling something about slowing down, but I didn't care. When I got to Church St. I didn't even bother to slow down. Rearing back I simply leaped over the road, clearing most of it by 10 feet. I don't think I actually jumped over any cars, but there was definitely traffic nearby. The kids almost lost their grip, but they impressed me and stuck the landing. Dr. Smith was now screaming his head off, but I didn't care and I soon left him in the dust. We bounded across campus and onto the grassy/snowy slope of Foss Hill where I planned to spend the afternoon. When Dr. Smith finally caught up (carrying my heavy stack of government documents by the way), I was demonstrating the strength of my wings by letting Anne and Chris sit out near the wingtips. Smith's face was beet red, and I swear steam was about ready to shoot out of his ears.
   "What the fuck do you think you were doing with my kids!?" he stormed, dropping my stuff into the snow.
  "Oo, daddy said a bad word."
  "Be quiet Chris."
  "Daddy, the ride was so fun."
  "You be quiet too, Anne, and both of you go over there with your mom. Now!"
  They both jumped off my wings and sadly walked away.
  "What on earth was going through your mind? You could have killed them!"
  "Calm down, they were perfectly safe."
  "Safe! You can barely keep yourself out of the hospital and you have the gall to tell me that my kids were safe? Your rampant lack of maturity endangers you and everyone around you."
  I stuck my tongue out at him and started to chuckle. No human was going to force me to take things seriously. When it looked like he was about ready to punch me I started laughing even harder. The 'doctor' regained his composure and stormed away.
  "Goodbye 'doctor', that's for fixing my tail." He didn't respond.
  "Can I get a ride?"
  I turned to see a female student looking up at me with hopeful eyes and my cute alarm went off. "Um, sure, but first can you help me by pulling this blanket off and putting all those papers on it before they get wet."
  Once my stuff was safe, the cute girl mounted me and I ran her around a bit. Ah, it looks like being a dragon is finally starting to pay off. I got back up the hill and I let her off.
  "Hey, are you giving rides?"
  Hmmm, it looks like football players. REJECTED! "Well, I was, but my neck is starting to hurt. Sorry."
  "Um, would you mind if I could um, touch you?"
  ::sigh:: Here we go again. For the next five hours or so I entertained a small rotating crowd of students asking questions, watching demonstrations and generally touching me. Many of the questions asked about how I was being treated, what I was being fed, how/if I was going to complete my class work, and my general plans for the future. Several people brought up the TSA list and the circumstances surrounding the transformation. I basically I told people that I had no clue how or why this had happened, and that the TSA list was just an e-mail list that was used to share short fiction. When people asked if I had actually wanted this to happen, I would make a reference to my wings or my assumed long life span and then state: "why wouldn't I want this?" The human would then make some lame rationalization as to how they really wouldn't enjoy the ability to fly or to live for hundreds of years.
  When I wasn't answering questions I leafed though all the full colour layouts the Feds had left. It was basically filled with all kinds of different job offers. Research on high mountains, research in Alaska, research in the arctic, research underwater, search and rescue, high-risk rescue, riot and crowd control, traveling exhibit, coastal and wetland research, a lecture circuit, wilderness management on Federal lands (building trails and shit), reforestation on Federal lands, the pamphlets were more specific, but that was the general theme of most of the offers, and they usually included free room, board, training and transportation.
  One offer that particularly caught my interest regarded using me to thin out deer populations in built up areas. Deer and suburbanites don't usually get along, but the whining suburbanites resist any attempt to bring in hunters to get rid of the problem (they claim safety issues, but it's probably due to some mixed up sense of morals). They would use my to cull the herds, and there would be no safety problem 'cause I wouldn't accidentally kill something that wasn't a deer. They probably wouldn't even have to close the land or put out warning signs. Can you think of a better job than getting paid to eat?
  There was one interesting foil covered package that had a post-it note on it.

  Dear Mr. Brotzman: The contents of this package are for your eyes only. Showing these documents to anyone else, or making any attempt to duplicate them, would constitute a federal offence punishable by up to 10 years in jail or a $100,000 fine. Be prepared to read the documents quickly because the writing will disappear 30 minutes after the seal is broken. As a result of some upper level decisions, it is our policy to be completely honest with you, and this package is a part of this policy.

  This strange package was piquing my interest, and since it was getting dark out I bid my rotating crowd of on-lookers adieu and went back to my lair. As I waited for dinner to arrive, I turned on a newly installed light and broke the package open and began to quickly read the documents. The cheaply bound document was entitled "Military Options Regarding Draconian Life Forms." It looked like Uncle Sam wanted me and it was for much more than planting trees.
  The principle plan was to include me with an elite group of human soldiers handpicked from the four armed services (SEALS, Green Berets, Rangers, Airborne etc.), to form a special unit would be involved in several high-risk fields like counter terrorism, counter insurgency, assassinations, hostage rescue, anti-drug operations, etc. Future developments might include a multi-national force, or an all-morph unit consisting entirely of transformees. The report outlined a timetable for my training and operational lifespan. After a few years of full-time work I would have the option to move to a contract based system, and monetary rewards were very generous, with the ability for me even to keep a percentage of the spoils. The last few pages consisted of some quick designs of weapons that could fit a being of my carriage. A double barrel shotgun made from 105mm howitzers, a light rifle made from twin .50 caliber heavy machineguns, a 20mm Vulcan cannon with a backpack of ammunition, a 7.62mm minigun that could be fired like a pistol and finally a custom built 50mm assault rifle were the weapons that had been proposed so far. The last page had a full-colour spread of me dressed up in a full suit of draconic body armour. The text described the material as being Kevlar interspersed with ceramic and carbon fiber composites. The helmet even had holes for my horns to poke through, and my bright silver scales and wings had been completely covered in camouflage paint. Shit, they were going to turn me into a walking tank. Rockin'!
  As the printing faded away into nothingness, I gave some consideration to all my many options. The military proposal was very interesting. I would get to use a lot of fun toys and help out my country secure its place in the world, but just a single slug from a heavy machinegun or a well aimed anti-tank rocket could cut my life short (and in my case that would mean very short). The other options were far less risky, but they lacked that edge that my dragon side was craving. No matter what my choice would be, it would be made after I got my various degrees and after my scientific value had been sufficiently cultivated.
  ::YAWN:: As I wondered what was keeping dinner, I looked up and noticed that the contractors (yes, on Sunday!) had made my little lair a bit more permanent and most of my stuff had been moved in. One of these days I was going to have to do an inventory to make sure nothing had been lost or stolen. I booted up my computer intent on checking my e-mail. I'll bet there are some pretty interesting stories on TSA-talk. I hope ITS didn't shut down my account due to an exceeded quota. Maybe I could invite some friends over to watch the Simpsons? Ahhh, I'd say life was finally getting good, but I keep having this damn feeling that I've forgotten something...
  ::click, point::
  ::launch IE::
  Oh fuck!! I forgot to call my parents!!

part 5
 2 3