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Social Conundrums, Part XVII

Updated: Mar 3


"Ouch!" I exclaimed as my front left leg struck a patch of thorns. Lifting it carefully upwards, I examined the strange furry gray skin of my Rzerth form. Little drops of red revealing where five sharp yellow thorns stabbed me. Barely any blood dripped from the wounds, revealing no real damage had been done. If only my other actions were as harmless, I couldn't help thinking as I set my leg down. My eyes searching the landscape for Hannah’s rendezvous spot, the underground tunnels of an abandoned Rzerth colony.

She said its entrance would be hidden by a thick copse of yellow trees dipping downwards into a valley with an opaque pond. The sweet scent of water drew me towards a very thick tangle of pale yellow vegetation. Only by fully stretching out my centipede like body onto the dry earth could I make it through the obstacle. Emerging into the bright sunlight my eyes spotted a large clump of trees leaning downwards into the valley, the smell of water confirming that this had to be the place Hannah told me to find.

The entrance lay a few feet inside the thick forest, a large hole leading underground. Nothing else covered or shielded it from intruders. At its lip, however, I could clearly smell that other Rzerth species had inhabited this place. This fact alone probably deterred unwanted visitors, these carnivorous creatures were not a friendly bunch. Carefully, I entered. The rich damp dirt giving off a pleasing aroma but then something else triggered my olfactory senses. I froze as my Rzerth brain registered this new scent. The former inhabitants hadn’t abandoned this place. They died inside these tunnels the soil reeked of their decaying bodies.

A soft scratching sound up ahead startled me because of how unnatural it sounded in this Rzerth graveyard. I felt both relieved and apprehensive to see Hannah staring right at me with her large eyes. “Ignore the smell,” she demanded properly interpreting my state of mind. “Follow me,” she ordered as she suddenly turned into a side tunnel. Slowly I obeyed, half fearing we would be discussing today’s unusual events by rotting corpses. To my immense relief the tunnel was empty.

“Did you make certain that you weren’t followed?” she pressed. After learning about Anne’s imprisonment for murdering another Little Dragon, my immediate reaction was to reach out to Hannah. Physically she wasn’t anywhere near me, but energetically I could link up with her in a second as long as she accepted my invitation. She did but instead of giving me any explanation I received detailed instructions to meet her here. At least three times she pressed upon me the importance of coming alone.

“I took the most roundabout route I could think of to get here,” I promised. Anyone following me would have had a hard time determining that Rzerth was my ultimate destination.

“Good,” Hannah said her eyes turning away from me with a heavy sigh. “I am baffled by what happened to Anne last night,” she admitted. “Initially when I talked to my contacts at Res publica about your dilemma, the plan was to discredit Anne, not frame her for murder. It is so fantastic and for the victim to be Linda Devine,” a violent shiver rocking her Rzerth's centipede like body.

“Who is she?” I asked sensing Hannah had more to reveal. Her eyes met mine again showing worry and deep confusion in their depths. “Up until last night, a very powerful member of Res publica. She recruited me personally into the organization making me one of her supporters. But the motive and means for this crime are not known to me.”

I knew of so little of this group, my only source Hannah and there was my brief encounter with the Res publica representative. The one who threatened my life, if I told anyone about their existence. “So you have never seen this weapon?” I asked Hannah.

“No,” she said her voice adamant. “The group never talked about having anything of the kind. I mean we discredit Little Dragons, we don’t kill them.”

“That can’t be true,” I said a terrible feeling of forbidding came over me as I told Hannah how Res publica threatened my life.

She just stared at me for several moments. “I know the Little Dragon who approached you,” she finally said her eyes becoming almost opaque, a sign of true terror in a Rzerth. “If what you say is true, then this was the plan from the beginning.” she gave a deep shuddering breath. “We should leave and hide for the next century or two.”

“What!” I exclaimed while feeling my own eyes turning opaque like Hannah’s. “What about the planet project?”

She gave me an incredulous look. “Forget it! Besides the meeting with the mediator is being put off indefinitely, there may very well shelve the project for another five centuries.”

“So we leave Anne to take the blame for a murder she didn’t commit?” I asked Hannah, anger suddenly slicing through my terror.

 “The moment you decided to discredit her, you made your choice. Do you honestly think she is going to forgive you because you meant to ruin her reputation not frame her for murder!” she sneered.

After summoning up a look of pure disdain, I answered her. “I don’t care if Anne and I never speak again. This isn’t about our relationship but about what is right and what is wrong. Letting a Little Dragon get away with murder is not acceptable.”

“You are no match for him,” she then said her voice firm but soft and insistent.

My earlier bravado began ebbing away as the truth of what I would be facing on my own bore down on me. But I wasn’t ready to give up yet. “Who?” I pressed.

Hannah gave a loud hiss indicating to any Rzerth nearby that she was in a foul mood. “I am not going to tell you,” she stated. “I won’t be responsible for your death. You should just come with me.” The inflection in the tone of her voice made me look at her twice. Her eyes were still opaque revealing that terror still dictated her decisions but there was something else there. Instantly, a spark of recognition ran through me. Hannah wasn’t just asking me this as a friend, she was attracted to me.

“Give Anne up,” she said in a soft tender voice, “I will make it worth your while,” she promised confirming what I surmised.

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

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