I knelt on the branch and looked back at the cleared fields. They said it was suicide for anyone to be outside the sonic barrier, a lot of the animals out here were predators. My mom and dad had been killed when they made one of the plasma bombs for the southern colony to large. I was ten then and left on my own.
I turned and stood as I started for the tree trunk. I was seventeen now and made my living bringing animals and plants back for the zoologists. I slipped around the tree and headed out on another branch. I used a vine to climb up a couple of branches before kneeling to catch my breath and look around.
This close to the barrier lots of larger predators patrolled. I saw the young female dwarf dragon across from me as she went back to eating. I smiled, she had a nest above us with a half dozen eggs. She was almost fifty meters away so when the huge tiger landed behind her I was to far to stop what happened.
I did sit and put the barrel of my twelve millimeter Richards on a knee as I aimed carefully. The tiger was eating the dragon as I squeezed the trigger and its head jerked away and it dropped to the branch. I stood and turned to jog towards the end of the branch as I opened the comm freq to the zoologists, "doc."
"What is it Samuel?"
I dropped off one side of the branch to land on one a couple of meters below, "I can bring you dwarf dragon eggs."
"We do not have an enclosure right now."
I bit my lip as I jumped to another branch and started climbing, "how can I raise them? The mother was just killed."
"I am sorry Samuel, the best I can do is tell you we suspect spice smoke is a hypnotic. Most of the animals are either leaning towards avian, the rest go the other way towards reptiles. Dwarf dragons are actually split between the two. I would make the babies breath the smoke before feeding them."
I started walking towards the dead tiger, "what about a tiger pelt?"
"You killed a tiger? We want it."
I knelt and touched the little dragon, "it weighs a ton doc and I am a couple of hundred meters above the ground."
"How bad is the head damaged?"
I glanced at the tiger, "the bullet went in behind the right eye and exited beside the left ear."
He sighed, "bring the head."
I smiled as I started skinning the large animal, "give me a couple of hours and meet me at my tree house."
I disconnected and finished skinning the tiger, I rolled the pelt up and then cut the head off. I put the head in the bag I carried made from the soft clothe leaves before looking up. The pelt I tied with a cord. I used a leather strap to sling the bag over my head and under an arm before turning to climb a vine.
I pulled the heavy pelt up to each new branch before continuing. I switched vines a couple of time before stopping. I glanced out at the dragon nest before setting the pelt and head down. I reached for a vine and started it swinging, it took several before I reached the nest. I knelt and looked around before taking the hard eggs and tucking them in my shirt.
I was careful moving back to the branch. I put the bag with the head over my head and shoulder. I lifted the heavy pelt to my shoulder before starting towards the barrier at an angle, the trip back was almost to much. My tree was just outside the barrier and fairly large. It was almost three hundred meters above the ground.
When I walked onto the landing platform a small flyer was waiting. The tall older man stepped out and looked around, "are you sure it is safe?"
I smiled and set the pelt down with the bag and he knelt to look inside the bag, "it was a large one."
I nodded as he looked at it before closing it back up, "we can use it."
He carried the heavy bag to his vehicle before leaving. I glanced around before lifting the pelt and taking the stairs down into the house. I went down to the mid level, this was where I lived mostly. I was walking through the living area when I felt one of the large eggs move inside my shirt.
I stopped in surprise before looking around. I walked quickly into the kitchen and opened the stasis cabinet. I pulled out the two halves of a lemur and went back into the living area and the ceramic fire pit. I set the meat on the edge of the pit as I turned a little and pulled the six eggs out. I took my pack off and pulled out fire and spice leaves.
I set the pack aside with the fruit still in it and piled the spice leaves on top of the fire leaves and turned back to watch the eggs. It was several minutes before the first egg cracked and a moment later split open. The tiny baby dragon staggered and fell before I started the leaves on fire.
I picked the baby up and held it in the smoke as it cried. I pulled it back a moment later and set it down beside me as I cut a tiny piece of meat and pushed it into her mouth. Luckily for me they hatched one right after another and not all at once. When they stopped eating and curled up on the thick leopard pelt beside the pit I started to clean up.
Besides the almost ten thousand hectares outside the barrier I had a couple of hundred inside that I had started growing fruit vines on. I had started the farm a couple of years before so it was going extremely well now. The best seller was the citrus and vine melons, the next best was the red bananas and apple berries.
They grew year round but seemed to taste better in the summer months. The next six weeks were different, I had to hunt everyday to feed the fast growing dwarf dragons. I also spent a couple of hours harvesting fruit and taking it to a man that bought it for the market. I glanced up from tanning a leopard pelt, it had been hunting us.
The medium sized flyer landed on the pad and a guard got out and looked around before three council members. I reached out to pull Duchess back, all six dragons were female, "can I help you?"
The councilmen were looking around but Mr Jones cleared his throat, "Mr Davis we came to inform you the colony council is planning a plasma burn on this side of the colony."
I looked at each of them, "that would destroy my forest."
They did not say anything as I stood to face them, "under the colony charter you need my permission or you forfeit your own property and any and all colony positions."
Mr Jones smiled, "that is not always the..."
I held up my hand, "I am not talking about an appeal to the colony court Mr Jones. I am talking about the federation colony council."
They stiffened and looked at each other. Mr Davis looked at me, "we can offer compensation."
I looked at him before turning to look into the forest as I thought. I had been thinking about moving further away from the barrier. I turned back, "I want fifty thousand hectares on the north shore of Crystal lake. (It was one of a dozen great lakes in the southern hemisphere). I want a new flyer and you pay for the materials and provide builders to rebuild my house."
They started to shake their heads as I shrugged and knelt to start working on the pelt, "those are my conditions."
That was when the three tree rabbits leaped to the other side of the landing platform. The guard pulled his pistol as I stood, "Duchess."
She was already leaping into the air but what surprised everyone was Baby pouncing from my small flyer. The animals turned to flee but it was already to late. She was spread out, one clawed rear foot snatched a rabbit, a front paw slammed another flat and she bit the third. I grinned as Duchess landed beside Baby and she let one of the tree rabbits go.
The others peeked out of my flyer before going to Baby and Duchess. I shook my head as I knelt again and went back to work. Mr Jones cleared his throat, "are those animals yours?"
I glanced at the dragons feeding on the three rabbits, "yes."
Mr Davis shifted on his feet, "fine, you need to have everything out in a week."
I stood again, "after I write the contract and you sign it."
They agreed and left and I went back to finish what I had started. I called the dragons as I headed down into the house. I accessed the colony legal net and set the parameters before letting it print. I read it before sending a copy to the council. Most of the rooms in my house were empty or only had pelts and crude furniture so it did not take me long to move.
The only thing I regretted was leaving the farm. Building the house took two months and the only thing I did was protect the eight men that came to build it. I earned a reputation doing it and my little dragons made friends with all the men. I even killed the first king lizard ever with a long shot from the fourteen millimeter carbine I was using.
They even added a long stairway around and down the tree to the ground. The branches reached out over the lake which stayed clear enough to see the huge monsters swimming beneath the surface. I planted vines along the edge of the lake and kept checking them.
I glanced out over the lake as I climbed after the dragons. A large flying transport was heading this way and I turned to keep climbing. When I walked off the far branch and onto my landing platform it was sitting on the outer edge. Several men were standing around but it was the girl that caught my attention.
She looked my age with her long red hair tied back. I glanced back as the dragons followed me and started towards my house. One of the men cleared his throat but I kept going. I opened the door to let the dragons in before looking back, "I would not stay out there."
.... There is more of this story ...