Chance Meeting a Dragon
Posted on April 25th, 2012 by Kuari
“Chance Meeting a Dragon”
Kuari and John T. Chance
Kuari made her way across the upper walkway of the shuttle bay, stalking along on all fours, when an ear twitched toward the chasmic bay below housing several shuttlecraft. Peering over the edge, she could see a crewman poking around an open hatch to one of the small vessels.
“I can’t believe they’re making me take spoor samples,” the human, an ensign named John T. Chance grumbled, frowning to himself. “As if anyone in Star Fleet is actually allergic to Andorian mold!”
He scraped the side of the shuttle without paying attention to much else.
John T. Chance stood just under six feet tall and had a lean muscular build. He had an oval face with a smallish nose, a crooked smile and deep blue eyes framed by a headful of bushy sandy blond hair. Kuari remained dead still watching him before she pulled her head back from the edge and crept more quietly towards the stairs. Sneaking up on him from the normal route somehow seemed less likely to get her into trouble than jumping off the railing and landing next to him.
Suddenly, Chance looked up to see what reminded him instantly of a dragon from the ancient Earth storybooks he remembered reading as a child regarding him curiously. He swallowed hard, looking at it. There was no mistaking what he was seeing.
It was a dragon.
It was about the same size as himself, only it was wearing a Star Fleet uniform. More than startled, he tossed the instruments he’d been using into the air and flattened himself against the side of the shuttlecraft, breathing hard. “Mary, Joseph, and Saint George,“ he cried, startled.
He squinted, regarding the creature, a distant memory from the Academy flaring to life behind his eyes. “You’re a…um…um…y’know…one of…um,” he stammered, realizing how stupid he had to be sounding. “…never mind. I…what are you doing down here?”
Having made her way down the stairs by this point, Kuari rounded the base of the access stairway and approached him. “I’m doing my security rounds. What are you doing down here?”
Feeling awkward, Chance extended a hand. “I’m John Chance,” he said. “I’m taking spoor samples. You wouldn’t happen to be allergic to Andorian mold, would you?”
Kuari stopped in front of him and cocked her head to the side, abandoning any attempt at taking the offered hand in light of his potentially disturbing question. “I…have no idea.”
Chance stood motionless for a moment, unsure what to say. “Well, somebody is,” he said, as if he had to justify what he was doing. “That’s why they’ve got me testing all the birds down here. Sneezing, you see.”
The bird comment drew his eyes to the creature’s back. “Say,” he said without thinking about what he was about to say. “Are those really wings?”
Unable to read the creature’s reaction, Chance’s confidence in this particular line of conversation faded to near oblivion. “I mean no offense,” he said, awkwardly trying to recover. “I’ve never seen a species like you before. You’re rather magnificent, actually.”
Kuari twitched a wing outward somewhat subconsciously at his mention of it before recovering herself, nodding and smiling toothily. “Thank you. And yes, they are.”
“Wow. That’s…something all right,” he said, his voice trailing off as he noticed the lieutenant bars on her uniform. If it were odd for him to see an alien creature in a Star Fleet uniform in the first place, it was stranger still to see that he was obviously outranked by it. He was suddenly unsure whether to speak or salute. He chose to speak. “So, like, what is it you do Lieutenant…Lieutenant….Do you have a name?”
“Oh! Sorry. I’m Second Lieutenant Kuari.”
“Kuari,” he said aloud, although mostly to himself, floundering with the correct pronunciation.
She finally extended a big paw-like hand. “Sorry to scare you!” Kuari thought for a moment. “Okay, not really sorry, it never gets old.” She grinned again.
Chance nodded knowingly, frowning a little. “I get it, scare the stupid green human,” he said. Realizing that the lieutenant in front of him actually was green, he blushed a little. “Not that I’m actually green like you are. Green in the sense that I’m new, if you see what I mean by green, if you know what I mean.”
Kuari shook Chance’s hand. “When I was in the Academy, I was actually called green a few times, and I didn’t think much of it until someone called a Bolian green. Confused, I asked if he was color blind, and he said it was just a saying and explained it to me. I couldn’t remember how many times I’d been called green and hadn’t caught the true meaning!”
“I could explain it,” Chance offered. “When someone calls you green, they’re saying that you’re
new, not particularly seasoned and not particularly experienced. The saying comes from the fact that fruit on earth is usually the color green before it’s ripened enough to eat.”
Kuari nodded along, absorbing this. “That makes sense. Very earthy origin. I like it.” After a moment, she sat on the floor, her eyes still level with his. “So…can I help with anything? I’m just wandering, really. Nothing to do but poke around in dark corners.”
Chance blinked at her, wondering why anyone would want to help take mold samples. But before he answered, he looked around the semi-darkened bay for the instruments he’d inadvertently tossed into the air when the remarkable creature first appeared.
“I suppose you could help me find the tools I was using,” he said.
He thought about it for a second. “Or we could not do it at all,” he said. “I’m brand new on this ship.” He smiled and winked at Kuari, “Absolutely green, you might say. The mold samples can certainly wait. But I think I would fancy wandering about with someone who knows her way around the ship, especially if you have the time.”
Kuari cocked her head in thought. “I have to stay within my designated patrol area, but I suppose I could show you some of the interesting parts nearby.”
“That’s fine with me,” Chance said, straightening and rubbing his hands against his uniform pants. “Anything is better than collecting samples like this. I think they only assigned me the duty because they can’t figure out exactly what to do with me. So they’re finding busy work, y’know what I mean?”
She smiled back. “Hopefully you’ll find getting familiar with the area more useful.”
* * *
The large bay doors thrummed open, and Kuari preceded Chance into the room. “This is the Fighter Bay. Atlantis’ Mustang squadron is called the Sharks. I heard the Admiral himself used to fly one, but he doesn’t any longer.”
Chance looked up at the impressive vessels and frowned a little. He looked back at Kuari. “I’m a little overwhelmed by the military presence,” he said. “We could blow away entire star systems with all this stuff. It’s a bit much for a kid spending all his time studying geology on a place as barren and desolate as Mars. There’s not much there other than the mining colonies. But that’s where I grew up. Wasn’t much need for fighter squadrons, or even fighters for that matter. The one guy who claimed to own a phaser pretty much ruled everything. And you know what? I don’t even think it worked.”
He smiled at his newfound companion. “How about you?” he asked. “What was it like where you grew up? Cause all I’m imagining is princesses and fairy castles.”
Kuari rolled her large eyes, a habit she’d recently picked up from a fellow marine. She was used to being referred to as a dragon, and she had studied up on early Earth mythology and understood Chance’s reference. “I grew up on Ruka in the Delta Quadrant. It’s a beautiful place.” She stared off into the bay wistfully. “My family lived in the forest. I loved flying through the trees.” She turned to meet Chance’s eyes. “We recently visited a moon we named Gencodia. I got to fly around and patrol from the air. It had lots of trees and reminded me so much of home. I wish we hadn’t had to leave!”
Chance looked back, impressed to the point of being in awe. “So your wings aren’t ornamental?” he said. “You really can fly?”
“It’s difficult for me to imagine not knowing the sight and smell of a forest my whole life. To grow up in such a flat and desolate place…” Kuari stared for a moment and finally shook her head.
“Desolate, maybe, but hardly flat,” Chance said. “The colony was at the base of the biggest volcano in the quadrant. The cliffs at sunset were a stunning sight. But it was hardly a forest. First time I saw one it was hard to accept the fact that everything was actually living.”
Nodding her understanding, Kuari looked over the multitude of fighter ships resting across the silent bay. “Exploring new places is something we have in common. Atlantis was built for discovery. We’re on the edge of explored space. I wonder what we’ll find beyond what’s known.”
“Nicely put,” Chance said, turning to her with a nod. “The unknown is always a mystery till we categorize it and sort it all out. Until then, it’s the total wonder my first forest was.”
Smiling, he turned back to the fighters filling the bay. “Nice to have all this at hand as we boldly go, as the old school saying went, where no one has gone before. Good to have a sword in case the unknown doesn’t like us very much.”
Kuari nodded, a somewhat strange gesture for her. “Armor is good.” She lowered her head and thumped her plated back with the spur of her wing. “But sometimes you’ve got to have something to fight them off with.” She turned a large eye at Chance and grinned.
“Oh, I get it,” Chance said, smiling back. “You get a lot more respect with a phaser and a smile than you do just with a smile. Dad used to say that all the time, especially when some tough guy deadbeat with bad credit wandered into the store.”
He turned fully to the dragon. “Speaking of tough, that’s a marine’s uniform you’re wearing isn’t it?” he asked. “I’ve always heard that the marines are the literal definition of elite when it comes to fighting forces.”
Kuari raised her head high, effectively puffing out her chest a little. “Yes we are. Atlantis wouldn’t have anything less!”
“You sound like a recruitment poster,” he said, adding a little laugh.
The Rucara held her smile a moment before lapsing into a pensive stare. “Humans are very interesting creatures. My family traveled all this way, and something about them made us stay and devote years to learning more. My mother is at Starfleet Medical, and my father acts as the ambassador of Ruka.”
Kuari grinned again and blinked, seeming to break out of her deep thoughts and glanced around the cavernous room. “I was more adventurous, wanting to serve on one of their Federation’s ships. And look, here I am, out on the very border.” She sighed. “Rucara usually stick together. There aren’t many of us. Your people would consider us an endangered species. Going out into danger like I do isn’t common.” Kuari shook her head and closed her eyes. “My parents are worried sick!”
Chance shook his head. “Funny, isn’t it?” he said. “I would never have thought of you with parents that would much be worried for your safety. Proud, perhaps, because you really are as impressive a being as I’ve ever met. I guess it’s all a matter of perception, isn’t it? The toughest guy in the galaxy still has a mother that worries about him…or her…I guess.”
Kuari dropped her hindquarters to the deck plating without breaking eye contact. “Your mother worries about you, too?”
Chance’s face dropped a little and he shrugged. “She died in a skiing accident at the northern pole when I was very young,” he said. “So it was just me and Dad. He didn’t really worry that much when I decided to take off and see the universe. He used to worry a lot more when I’d steal a shuttle and fly off to the pole to look for her. He told me they never found her body, and I always used to imagine I’d find her encased in the ice like a fairy princess.”
Chance stopped and sighed. “Of course I never did find her,” he said. “Dad was just a little sad when I left though. I don’t think he liked being left behind. But he’s much more a creature of habit than me. I like to take each day one at a time. I like to think of each day as a mystery. And everything that happens to you happens by…”
He turned with a wide smile.
“Chance,” he said.
Kuari gave him a questioning look. Noting it, and almost as an afterthought, Chance reached into his pocket and brought out a small, gold-colored metal disk that fit in the palm of his hand. He held it up between a thumb and forefinger so that Kuari could see it. It was a curious object with the depiction of an apparently human woman carved in relief on one side, and a grouping of odd-looking animals on the other.
Kuari looked up at him curiously.
“This is called a coin,” Chance explained. “It’s ancient, actually. The date along the edge says it was minted in 1984. But Dad told me that once upon a time a very, very long time ago, these were commonly used as monetary currency. They were made of precious metals, gold, silver and such. And they were worth their weight in the value of the metal.”
He handed the coin to Kuari, which was swallowed in her large paw as she drew it to her eye to inspect it.
“This one came from an Earth Island nation called Australia,” he explained. “On one side is the depiction of a ruler, Queen Elizabeth II, or so the markings say. On the other side are four Kangaroos – indigenous animals – in a semi circle. None of that hardly matters now other than to use it the way Dad showed me. He said the side with the queen would be called heads, and the side with the Roos, tails. And you can use it to decide your fate. Sort of like the ultimate act of chance.”
He reached out and took the coin back from Kuari, who was now looking at him as if he were deranged. He rested it on a curved finger with his thumb beneath it. “I’ll show you how it works,” he said. “We have a decision to make, so we’ll let the coin decide it. Heads we stay here in the bay, tails we move on and explore someplace else. I’ll flip it in the air and whichever side it lands on decides our fate.”
He released his thumb and the coin tumbled upwards into the air. He caught it and slapped it against his wrist, keeping it covered.
“Call it,” he said, smiling.
Kuari just sat blinking for a moment, then seemed to understand what was being asked of her. She didn’t understand the whole concept, but she was open-minded as was typical of her species, and she figured she would learn more by his demonstration. The corners of her large mouth turned up as she said, “Tails.”
“Okay,” Chance said, nodding not only approval but also with surprise. He slowly lifted his hand, looked beneath it and then drew it away. The Kangaroo side of the coin was showing. “Tails it is.”
The Rucara cocked her head, thinking about his words and the outcome. “So I pick my fate before I know what it is. Sort of.”
“Yeah, kind of,” he said. “It’s an arbitrary act that doesn’t consider the pros or cons of any given choice. A simple coin flip reaches into the most obscure corners of the cosmos to reach a conclusion to be followed.”
He winked at the dragon. “In other words, it’s simple dumb luck. You know, chance.”
The corners of Kuari’s very large mouth stretched back across her face. She then narrowed an eye shrewdly and tilted her head. “Your name’s not really Chance, is it?”
He nodded. “It really is,” he said. “That’s why I’ve always carried the coin. It sort of seems to fit, y’know? Corney, I know. But my Dad always thought it was funny as all get out.”
Kuari nodded along, then grinned again. “In this case, your name decided your fate.” She winked back, copying him.
Her perfectly-mimicked wink made Chance laugh. “I suppose you’re right,” he said. “I think I’m beginning to really like you.”
Kuari held out her paw expectantly. Smiling, Chance took the coin between his thumb and forefinger and placed it carefully in the center of her palm. She balanced it awkwardly in her paw and flipped it, but it flew upward at a strange angle, and she had to rush forward and catch it with her tongue. Sheepishly, she presented it to Chance. Nearly doubling over with laughter, he gently peeled it off of the tip of the eel-like tongue.
“I like you, too.” Her grin grew, showing teeth, as she watched Chance laugh in amusement. “Now, Ensign, shall I escort you back to the Shuttlebay? I believe you have some samples that need collecting.”
His mouth fell open hearing her words. “Back to take more samples?” he said, slowly looking back at the coin. “And to think, I called that bit of fate myself.” He shook his head in disbelief and began to laugh again.
She finally started giggling along, a lilting, bird-like sound, which apparently Chance found funny, because he began to laugh more earnestly. Her giggles evolved into a much louder and
ridiculous laugh resembling the call of a hyena, her generous lungs feeding her well-developed vocal center into resonating through her large head.
They would return to the Shuttlebay, but for a few moments, the laughter of human and dragon echoed throughout the Assault Bay.