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Social Conundrums, Part IV

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

Gershom's mind churned as he flew. Anne could be so stubborn and when she made up her mind there was no changing it. Her idea to give all their hard work over to a mediator was a mistake. He had striven to the best of his ability to prove his case to the committee that the less involved the Little Dragon race was in a species evolution the better. Any amount of interference such as a misguided, albeit well-intended social code took away the species right to choose their own fate. He couldn't help putting himself in the footsteps of the new aliens and knew with his whole heart he would resent the interference.

T​he Little Dragons were not gods. Creating a social code sounded like something dredged up from an ancient religion. In his youth he attended religious ceremonies in all different types of faiths. Tolerance of everyone's faith is universal as long as it never interfered with free choice. Many still found comfort in beliefs nurtured and sustained by their ancestors. He remembers one story in particular about a prophet named Moses, who in his quest to understand the divine had asked for rules. He was given the 10 commandments. The social code sounded suspiciously like we were trying to recreate that situation only in this instance, we weren't divine.

​It seemed strange that neither Anne or any of her followers realized this or dismissed it as insignificant. Gershom shook his head in disgust, now he would have to deal with a mediator. He needed to review the situation with someone who thought like him. His flight path took him to a planet three galaxies away from where he had met Anne in the garden. Hannah one of his staunch supporters studied the inhabitants there.

T​he planet loomed before him a swirling mass of yellows and reds. No one there knew that Hannah was a Little Dragon so as Gershom descended he took on the form of one of its people. In their tongue they were called Rzerth. A 10-foot tall creature with a body as slim as a beanpole covered in a fine but thick down of hair. Upright they walked like a human and had two arms and two legs, but they also could stretch out horizontally on the ground. Several hidden legs would then extend allowing them to crawl along the surface like a centipede.

The red grass felt soft and subtle under Gershom's feet. His mind was still very agitated, but he refused to let it completely dim the pleasure he received when changing form. New sensations consumed his body. His large round eyes picked up all the different shades of red that bloomed before him in the vegetation and his nasal cavity could smell the richness of the plant life. The dark pungent leaves of the carmine tree filled his senses but it didn't disguise the even fainter hints of the Rzerth's primary food source, the loper.

G​ershom's mouth began to water in anticipation. Little Dragons often held back certain sensory experiences when they took on a form, especially one like the Rzerth, who survived by eating another species. Energy beings don't consume food anymore like physical ones. This meant removing certain instincts is acceptable. Gershom disagreed with that philosophy. It limited your understanding of another species, if you could pick and choose what you wanted to experience. It wasn't the Rzerth's fault they needed meat to survive. He wasn't going to judge them by creating what others thought of as a more Little Dragon friendly version of the species. I​f that meant killing another for food, then he would. Hannah, he knew, shared that same philosophy. The best way to find her was to hunt the loper because any Rzerth close by would know of its existence.

H​is body bent low to the ground allowing him to extend the other legs. The loper wasn't close but it wasn't far enough to be out of harm's way for a Rzerth. Gershom moved fast on his many legs skirting the open grassy lands for low-lying bushes that hid his long sleek body. The scent grew stronger as he moved with surprising speed towards his prey. His sensitive nasal cavity could even detect the sex of the species he hunted, a lone male. Odd for a loper to be separated from its herd. Gershom ceased his forward momentum to allow the logical part of his brain to analyze the situation. It wasn't an easy feat because he felt overpowered by his desire to devour that creature's flesh.

H​e remembered Hannah telling him that more than one Rzerth had been led to their doom because they allowed their sensations to overpower their common sense. He continued to approach his prey but this time he was more alert to danger. The loper is a creature that resembled something like a deer, except it has six legs and much larger antlers. The one he hunted lay on the ground and seemed to be in some physical distress, an easy prey for a hungry Rzerth.

Gershom moved as close as he could to the loper. It didn't move but laid there breathing heavily. He then caught the scent of at least five more Rzerth in the vicinity. It was a good bet they knew he was there as well. Hopefully Hannah was among them but until he knew for sure these incoming Rzerth's would not welcome him on their hunt. Their communities numbered no more than 20, and they were very territorial.

He started to back peddle attracting the loper's attention. It looked right at him, closed its eyes and became perfectly still. It would be so easy to kill it. All he had to do was attach his razor sharp teeth to its throat. A Rzerth's jaw bones were so strong it could snap the neck in a matter of minutes. Death was imminent.

B​ut the loper shouldn't be making it so easy for Gershom to accomplish. Something was definitely wrong here, he thought as he slithered away into the bushes. Why was a male loper out here all alone seeking death without a fight. The five other Rzerths burst onto the scene. Four of them surrounded the loper who still didn't open its eyes. The fifth one was not a Rzerth at all but the Little Dragon, Hannah. Gershom moved closer, so he could whisper to her without attracting the other's attention. She turned and after giving me a surprised look joined me in the bush.

"​Something is wrong with that loper," Gershom said to her. She nodded her head. "A sickness has been attacking the herds. Any infected loper is abandoned and thus becomes easy prey to Rzerth but eating infected meat eventually kills the entire Rzerth's community."

He watched fascinated as the four Rzerth circled the sick loper. They didn't attack, but they weren't retreating either.

"​They should know by now that something is wrong," Hannah whispered to me. "This is where it gets interesting." He turned towards her to see her large eyes dilate further in anticipation. "My community hasn't eaten in four days and based on research with other communities they may not be able to resist eating it."

"​Even though they know it is poisoned?" Gershom asked fascinated. Hannah nodded her head. "Rzerth are reasonably intelligent, but they possess very strong sensations. Hunger often overpowers logic."

I​n the end, a smaller one broke free fastened its jaw on the loper. The neck broke and the smell of blood filled the area. Other Rzerths came flooding through the bushes drawn by the scent of their prey. Soon, what he guessed was the entire community was feasting on the dead loper.

That ends Social Conundrums, Part IV. Next month is Social Conundrums, Part V. Learn more about the Little Dragons by reading the earlier blog post series titled Humanity's Evolution.

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