Ch. 9 Raptor Reveal
By the time Alex made it back to the stable on foot it was already nearing twilight. She might have stopped to pet a few dragons… Alex just couldn't help it, now that she could hear it, listening to them talk was just so cool! Dragons are Awesome! Although, she was careful not to talk back. Wouldn't want people to think she was crazy or something….
However, since she was so late, Alex had to rush to feed and groom the dragons for the night. She only groomed them every other night, thankfully, or she would really be in trouble. The only dragons she had to groom tonight were the triplets, although they were a trial all their own. The feisty hatchlings were little menaces individually, but together, they were the personification of a cackling devil as he stands before the damned with a pitchfork as he sentences them to eternal torment. Just the thought made Alex shiver as she walked through the door.
Right across from her, in the pen meant to hold large bull class dragons, the three raptors stood as they stared at her expectantly. They knew it was her turn to groom them. And, unlike usual, she didn't have backup in the form of Ray to help her control them. He was too busy face wrestling with Mika back at the library… so much for friendship in the face of death….
Alex sighed and set her books down in front of the stairs to the loft. Might as well get this over with…..
Silently, Alex gathered a brush, some dragon oil, a rag, a tether, and a large nail trimmer. Generally, trimming nails was Ray's job, but Alex figured she may as well try. If Ray succeeded in becoming a talented racer, he would probably quit or at least lighten his hours; so it was best if she learned how to trim claws anyways. Once she had put all the supplies in their places, Alex turned back to the triplets. They had been watching her the entire time, rainbow colored eyes shining in the dull lighting of the barn as the last of the day's light faded away. Alex had to suppress a shiver…. The terror…
When Alex reached the door to their stall, she gripped the tether tighter. Ruby, the largest of the triplets stood even with her, if a little taller. The red, female raptor seemed to grin in the flickering barn light. They should have named her Hades and be done with it….
Slowly, Alex unlatched the top, barred section of the stall door. She kept her fingers carefully away from the bars. Alex didn't feel like giving them to Ruby's teeth. As she swung the top-door open, Alex leaned back quickly.
Just in time too, the snapping of Ruby's teeth echoed in the barn as Alex moved quickly to attatch her tether to the ring attatched to the bottom of Ruby's halter. Before, Ruby could recover and jerk her head back, and Alex's arm with it, Alex opened the gate and dragged the struggling raptor out. By keeping her hand directly beneath Ruby's muzzle, on the halter, Alex could control the red raptors head, ergo controlling where Ruby was going. Plus, by keeping her other arm wrapped around the angry raptor's shoulders and front 'arms' Alex could keep the red beast from both biting and clawing her. Alex hurried to kick the lower door shut behind her before Ruby's smaller siblings could get involved. She winced when she heard twin thumps, most likely caused by two heads hitting the titanium reinforced stall door. If even bulls couldn't escape a stall, why did the raptors think they could?
Alex sighed as she manouvred the red raptor closer to the tether rings on the wall. Judging by the hot red anger she was getting through her senses, although the raptor remained quiet, Ruby was nettled by Alex's avoidance of her claws and wasn't likely to make Alex's job easier. "Come on, Ruby," Alex murmured, "Don't make this too hard."
Along with her words, Alex sent a burst of soft emotions like peace and tranquility through thick red scales. The response was instant.
Ruby's eyes widened until the whites were visible and her nostrils flared. She fell onto her rump as her legs lost strength and stared at Alex, toothy mouth opened slightly. Alex blinked at the reaction before asking, "Hey, Rubes, you ok?"
Ruby continued to sit there, so Alex shrugged and pulled her to her feet before tethering her securely to the tether rings. Throughout the whole process, Ruby seemed to be in shock. Alex frowned at her, confused. Surely Dragon Lords and Ladies were not that rare? Coral certainly didn't react like this.
Alex managed to get through the talon clipping and the brushing and right into the middle of moisturizing Ruby's scales before she finally did anything other than breathe and stare straight ahead- to be honest, Alex was grateful she snapped out of the trance, she thought she might have hurt Ruby somehow. All at once, Ruby jerked her head up and screeched as she lashed her tail. Alex covered her ears to avoid the harshly grating noise and watched in dread as Ruby knocked over the dragon oil, made of a mixture of herbs and plant oils. That stuff was both expensive and hard to get off the cement flooring of the stables.
Ruby caught sight of Alex silently kneeling at her flank and backed away hissing. Ignoring the cacophony the other triplets were making at hearing their sister in distress, Alex lifted an eyebrow and asked, "Who crapped in your cornflakes all of a sudden?"
At this, the raptor leaned back and glared at Alex with fierce, slitted pupils. Figuring that now would be a good time to try and calm Ruby down, Alex reached out and began to warily stroke her red, scaly flank in soothing motions. Though she left out any emotions, seeing as that had been what spoked her to begin with.
Ruby tensed, but thankfully did not attempt to claw Alex. She seemed to realize that Alex meant her no harm. About the third or fourth stroke, Ruby's voice burst into Alex's mind like a patch of static in a transmission. You can talk! That's not supposed to be possible. You're a myth, I'm telling Opallo!
Alex blinked and stopped stroking Ruby's flank. Huh, so she was a myth. Cool..
Alex smiled softly as she replied to the whiney child's voice- apparently their mind voices applied to age and character, not their actual size, or Ruby's voice would have been deeper- "Well, Ruby, I'm certainly real, and I can send emotions, though I don't think Opallo will be able to change the situation. But, I'm confused, I've used my powers on you before, have I not?"
Ruby stilled as she answered- easily switching from terror and agitation to childlike curiosity- you have? I thought you were just unconsciously expressing your feelings, like the other humans. You are different now. Stronger and more purposeful.
"Oh, well, thanks, I think."
Suddenly, the raptor started jumping excitedly from clawed foot to clawed foot. Omg! Omg! I can't believe I'm talking to one of you. And that you're talking back! This is so cool! Opallo! Topazo! I'm talking to a Dragon Lady! A real one! Like in Apalachia's stories! This is so cool!
As, Alex listened to the answering roars from the raptor pen- which she couldn't understand since she wasn't touching the other two raptors, she wondered if all children were so schizophrenic. Probably, but that just added to the charm. Alex, herself, loved children. They were adorable blessings to the world everyday.
Alex sighed and mopped what she could of the dragon oil off the floor, if Ray found out she let it get spilt, he would have a fit. When the roars reached an all time high, Alex gently bopped Ruby on the head, saying, "All right, that's enough out of you, let's get you back in your pen. It's Verde's turn next."
Awww, but can't I stay out a little longer? We've only just met! I wanna play!
Alex unhooked Ruby's tether from the ring and began to lead a reluctant yearling to her pen. "No, Ruby, you get play time when Ray puts you out in the yard and I have work to do. Besides, you've known me since you were hatched practically."
Alex led Ruby by the chin to the door of her pen, stroking her chin scales. Inside, two pairs of eyes stared curiously at her.
But, I didn't know you could talk like we do! It's not fair!
"Oh, Ruby," said Alex as she opened the pen door, "You and I will hang out again, provided you behave." Alex began unhooking the tether from Ruby's halter.
Ok, I'll be really, really good!
Alex smiled and patted the red raptor farewell as she turned to Verde, one of Ruby's brothers. He was slightly larger than his sister, although he was shorter nose to tail. He was a bright green color with darker shades in a pattern around his eyes. He stood off to the side, watching her warily. "Alright," said Alex, "Your turn, big guy."
His grooming went fairly smooth. No upturned buckets of dragon oil thankfully. The green raptor had a quieter temperament than his sister and was content to observe her through narrowed eyes whilst occasionally asking questions, which she answered to the best of her ability. The cleaning session went something like this.
Can you only speak to us when you maintain physical contact?
"For the most part, yeah. I can feel emotions from several yards away, though. And I think my sensitivity is getting stronger the longer I use it. So that may not remain true indefinitely."
How strong are the emotions you feel?
"Ummmmm, that depends on the emotion, really. And how emotional the dragon is. And the distance. Distance is a big factor too."
…..So, Coral is the one who told you this? You were previously unaware of your bilingual abilities?
"Yeah, no idea."
Eventually, the question and answer session was over, thankfully, when Alexian returned Verde to the pen with his brother and sister. Next was Opallo. Alex wondered what he sounded like. To her surprise, he sounded like a surfer.
Yo, dudette. Heard you could hear us and talk back. Far out, homie.
Alex blinked and momentarily paused in attaching the tether to his halter. That was a surprise. Oh well, at least he didn't act like a Spanish Inquistador, like Verde. That was nerve wracking.
"Yeah, I can. Neat, huh?" not really…..
Totally, dudette! We should show you off to the hatchlings across the street, they would be so jealous! It would be like, whoah! And they would be like, whoooah! And you would be like, Whooooaoooahhhh!
At this, Alex couldn't contain a giggle. His voice just did that to a person. The two of them continued on in a relaxed conversation. Something about Opallo's voice and laid-back nature made this part of Alex's psych unwind and relax. It was like having a therapeutic massage of the mind and soul. When Opallo was finished, Alex was surprised to find that it was dark outside and the automatic stable lights had turned on. She hadn't even noticed…
Alex led Opallo back to the pen before unclipping his halter. As she turned to leave, Alex was suddenly hit with a wave of loneliness against her back. Turning back, she could see three pairs of slitted, rainbow eyes looking at her sadly. Alex was silently reminded of children before bedtime, waiting to be tucked in and afraid of the dark.
"Alright, but only for a little while."
As Alex walked into the dark pen- the lights in the pens were not automatic- she felt three forms come forward and brush against her, greeting her with fond emotions and joy as they twisted and turned around her, guiding her to the far wall. Once there, Alex sat down and leaned her back against the wall. She felt rather than saw the triplets settle around her. Ruby boldly laid her head upon Alex's lap. Verde simply curled up against Alex's right side, resting his head against her lower thighs. Apollo somehow managed to force his impressive blue girth between Alex and the wall and curled around them, being the biggest in length and mass. Luckily the triplets were not full grown or they would have crushed Alex with their weight.
Several minutes later, as Alex was about to get up and return to the loft to wait for Ray's return- she suspected he took Mika on a date- Ruby whined and started feeling distressed.
No, don't go Mother, don't let them take you. Mother.
Alex froze, careful to mute her feelings so as not to rouse Ruby. Suddenly, she felt ashamed of herself. For what, she didn't truly know. But, it had never occurred to her the Ruby, Verde and Opallo were motherless. Certainly, she knew their mother had been taken away by her master, but it had never occurred to her how it must have felt. Dragon Dung! Alex had been right there, watching. But, it never entered her mind that the triplets might be scared or lonely. Somehow, Alex now felt like scum. Even though, she had not participated in their separation.
Silently, Alex vowed they would see their mother again. And until they did, she would be right there with them. With this in mind, Alex settled into the dragon pile more comfortably, content to wait for them to fall asleep before she left. She didn't notice green emerald eyes gazing at her with approval.
As Alex felt the triplets drift off around her one by one, she felt her own eyes start to droop. The warmth and contented feelings rising off the raptors' scales was wonderful. And, really, surely it wouldn't hurt to sleep in here just one night. Ray could look in her bag to find his book, surely. He wasn't a complete idiot… surely…
When Ray got back, he almost got the shock of his life when he caught sight of his little sister surrounded by the terrible trio. Luckily, he had Mika to distract him for another round of face-wrestling before she left.
AN: whoa! over 2,000 words! i'm pretty surprised. i did not expect to be able to write this much. thanks to all my wonderful followers and reviewers.
i would also like to say sorry for not updating in so long. but, since i have a better idea on how to move the story onward now, hopefully this means faster updates. the raptor triplets are helping me with that. btw, did you like them? i thought they were cute. let me know in a review.
ok, i've got a challenge for you guys! come up with Alex's past! i kinda was a lazy authoress and forgot to do it at the beginning of the story. so you guys get to! make sure it fits with canon and has some family members. one idea i really liked is having Alex come from a well to do family of nobles. maybe thats why she can't be put into the orphanage cause they would find her and she ran away. or something like that if you can understand it.
alright, see you next time, guys!
... dont tell the timbermanes and hagar's bane fans i updated this instead of that, they'll be mad...