The Pentwater Chronicles 1:
Incomplete Without You
(Part One)
A MORFS Universe Tale
by Ray Drouillard

Instead of building a resort or a city, Marvin Pentwater built a haven and workplace for people who have been gifted with powers. Years later, his grandson and heir, Marvin Pentwater III, received his gift. Young Marvin couldn't complain about his physique, nor could he complain about the gaggle of talents he wielded. What he could complain about was the distinct lack of power. He grew up in a place where powers are common and esteemed, but he couldn't lift but a few ounces with his telekinesis. Soon, he met an unusual friend with similar challenges.

sex: 1/10
violence: 1/10
profanity: 1/10

Categories: Elemental, PSI

Timeline: 2062

Chapter One: Sibling Rivalry

I felt myself being lifted off of the ground.  "All the control in the world won't help you now!  You need power for that," my nine year old sister taunted as she used her telekinesis to rotate me end over end.  I could have cried with frustration, but I wasn't about to give her the satisfaction.  "You should have morfed into a girl!"

"Leave your brother alone!" Mom yelled.

Gertrude did just as Mom requested.  I fell straight down into a big puddle with a splash.  With as much dignity as I could muster, I got up and TK'd the mud out of my hair, off of my face, and away from my body.  I took some pride in the fact that Gert can't control her TK well enough to do that, but I felt bad about taking pride in someone else's shortcomings.

"That's not what I meant!  Apologize to Marvin right now, young lady!"

"Sorry, dear brother," she said with a smirk.

I nodded as graciously as I could, got on my bike, and rode away.  I pumped strongly toward the edge of the climate controlled area.

What have I ever done to Gertie?  I was always too small to really pick on her, and my parents always taught me to be nice to my little sister.  What's her problem?  Maybe she's disappointed that I didn't morf into her big sister.  Or maybe she wants to morf into my brother.  She always was kinda butch.

I really can't complain about what I got from MORFS except for the fact that most of the people here at the Pentwater Compound are powerful morfs.

My Grandpa Pentwater bought this land at about the time Sun City was founded.  Rather than making a resort, though, he decided to make a comfortable haven for his family and friends.  People don't come here for vacation, but they do come for business.

Grandpa and several of his friends set up a nice home and place of business south of Sun City.  We all live comfortably around a small lake.  Those who want our services generally come to us.  In the cases where the work needs to be done on site, we charge a premium fee.

I was born a technopath, just like Dad.  He is a talented electrical engineer, so he has taught me well how to use my talents.  I have always been proud of the level of control that I wielded.

Perhaps Gert was jealous of the time Dad spent with me not that she had any call to be jealous.  She and Mom spent plenty of time together.

When I morfed, I got a pretty good mix.  The only thing I didn't get was power.  I'm an electric elemental, technopath, and a cyberpath, but I couldn't put out enough to do more than light a five watt light bulb.  I'm a fire elemental, but I could barely light a match.  I'm a weak water elemental, which only earned me the nickname 'Squirt.'  I have very fine control over my telekinesis, but i couldn't move more than an ounce of two.  I can receive thoughts and emotions just fine, but couldn't send without practically touching the recipient.

I was a shrimp 4'6" tall before I morfed.  Gertie delights in telling me that I'm weak now because I was weak then.

But I'm no longer weak in that sense.  When I morfed, I grew to 6'2" and gained strength.  I went from a sallow-complected shrimp with muddy blue-gray eyes and yuck-blond hair to a hunk (if I do say so myself) with piercing blue eyes, light blond hair, a permanent tan, and muscle definition that matches my strength, stamina, and agility.

But my powers were weak.  I live in a place where powers are common and much esteemed, and I could barely light a match with mine.  Perhaps I ought to go to prep school in Sun City.  Instead of being a weakling among powers, I'd be a hunk with useful talents.

It could be worse.  My best friend morfed into a fox hybrid girl.  He I mean she is quite a hot number.  Going to Sun City was the best thing she could do.  She's quite popular there in the prep school, and is learning how to use her similarly limited powers.

Coming from three generations of people with powers has pretty much ensured that we would get something, but it apparently didn't ensure that we would get much.  My parents tried to make me feel better by getting me some really nifty birthday presents.  My bike is one of them custom built to be very sturdy and capable of standing up to the power that I can feed into it.  I like to take it around to places that are usually only passable to an engine-powered dirt bike.  I kind of fancy myself as an adventurer, so I keep the bike packed with plenty of power bars and energy drink powder, lightweight camp gear, a small inflatable kayak, and sturdy carbon nanotube based sports clothes.

They sure know how to make me feel better.  I couldn't ask for better parents.

Dad handed me a large box that, when opened, contained a big bunch of wadded tissue paper and aluminum foil.  Then, down in the corner, I found something that looked like a coin.  It was smaller than any coin I had ever seen, though.  My technopath senses picked up on it right away.  It was a tiny computer as powerful as any desktop or tablet unit I have ever seen.

Dad had custom made it for me.  There is no I/O or power supply.  It is only usable and programmable by a technopath like me.  With it, I can tap into any network or talk to any satellite I want, within reason (some codes are genuinely unbreakable.)  Also, I have to use the higher frequencies for long distance work.  My limited reach means that I have have a limited aperture, so I need to use wavelengths short enough to be focused by that limited aperture.

I looked it over and played with it.  When Mom held her hand out, I gave it to her.  She sterilized it with a touch, opened a wound in my abdomen with her bio elemental powers, slipped it in, and healed it over.  Now, I'll never lose it.

I was literally flying over the bumps and reveling in my strength when I got a concerned call from Mom.  "Are you going to be OK, Marv?"

"I'll be fine," I sent back through the coin.  "She knows how to hit me where it hurts, but I'm not going to give her the satisfaction..."

"You don't sound OK," she sent back.

Blasted empathic powers.

Mom just smiled.  "OK, go ahead and spend some time by yourself.  Just be careful, dear."

I rolled my eyes.  "Yes, mother."

She snickered.

The temperature rapidly dropped from 85 degrees Fahrenheit down to about 60 as I passed through the boundary of the climate controlled area.  The vegetation changed from tropical to temperate.  I looked back and saw only temperate vegetation.  At least, that's what I could see with my eyes.  The illusionists who live in the compound with us did a good job of hiding it from anyone who happens to pass by, but my remote sensing abilities weren't much bothered by their attempts.

I headed straight to a pleasant camp site that I had found when I was a kid.  Just for fun, I used the coin to pull up a topographical map, then checked my location using the various navigational satellites.  I noted that I was averaging about thirty miles per hour not bad for a bicycle over rough terrain.

Soon enough, I could see a mountain lake in the distance.  The clear blue color cheered me considerably.  Then, my mood started to drop.  Useless... Can't do anything... Failed genetics... Why me?

The feelings so closely matched my own that it took a while for me to realize that they were someone else's.  They were coming from directly ahead of me, so I kept moving.  I had planned on getting away from everyone for a while, but perhaps a kindred spirit would do me some good.

I slowed down as I approached my camp site.  I could tell that I was approaching the source of all the angst, but he apparently didn't sense me...

Until now.

Chapter Two: A New Friend

As I was approaching the clearing, I sensed startlment.  As I rounded the bend, I was the one who was startled.  I had heard stories of dragons in these woods, but always put them in the same category as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

But right here, in front of me, was a large reptilian definitely a dragon.

Part of me wanted to run and not look back, but I could sense that he... I mean she meant me no harm.  Somehow, I was drawn to her.  She felt the same impulse.  She should hide lest she be detected, but it was too late.

I got off my bike and approached her.  She looked at me warily, then I saw welcome in her eyes.  Or, maybe I saw welcome empathically.  I approached.  "I mean you no harm," I said softly.

"I know," she replied.

I don't know what I expected, but I didn't expect that.

"You're surprised that I speak English?" she asked.

"As a matter of fact..."

"The man who created my race spoke English.  We have escaped enslavement, but we saw no reason to develop our own language."

I stopped just before I got close enough to touch her.  She may be radiating kindness, but she is still physically very imposing.  She was also very beautiful with her striking pattern of blue-green and red-orange scales.

"My name is Marvin.  I live with my family in a climate-controlled compound about twenty miles from here.

"My name is Mirna," she replied.  "I live with my family on the other side of the lake."

I sat down about three feet from her.  We both knew how the other felt, so we talked at length about our situations.

"My mother is a fire dragon, and my father is a water.  I should have inherited one or the other, or hopefully both.  Instead, I got nothing."

I looked at her with sympathy.  "I know what you mean."

"I'm told that I have a great reservoir of power, but I have no place to channel it.  Try as I might, I can't use any elemental powers.  I can breathe underwater and walk through the hottest fire, but I can't control either."

Moved with sympathy, I walked up and placed my hand on her front leg.  It was as if electricity shot through both of us.  She roared, and flame shot from her mouth.  The flame surrounded me, and felt hot, but it didn't harm me.  It did, however, start the woods on fire.

By reflex, I directed water from the lake over to the fire.  I don't know what I was thinking, or what I expected to do.  By rights, I should have been able to direct no more than a small squirt of water a few feet.

Tons of water came out of the lake, flew over Mirna and me, and doused the fire.

*I thought you couldn't do that,* we both said at once, then started laughing.

*Marvin!  Are you OK?  What's going on?*  My mom sounded startled and worried.

*I'm OK, Mom.  I just got the surprise of my life, that's all.*

*There is someone else with you.  It looks like you're psi-linked to someone.*

Mirna and I looked at each other.  I really can't describe that first feeling... the feeling of completeness, as if a missing part of me had just been found.

*You wouldn't believe it, Mom.  Rest assured that I'm OK... better than ever, as a matter of fact.  Can I give you the details later?  There's lots that needs to be done now.*

Mom sighed noisily.  *OK, I'll give my big boy space to make his way in the world.*

I rolled my eyes.  *Thank you, Mother.*

I walked back over to Mirna and looked into her jeweled eyes.  Then, I hugged her scaly neck.  She felt smooth, warm, and dry.  She enfolded me with her wings, making me feel warm and secure.

We spent some time testing out our newfound powers.  As near as we can figure, we became psi-linked when we touched, and that allows both of us access to my control and her reservoir of power.

I was idly wondering what it would be like to fly like a bird when Mirna suggested that I hop on her back and see for myself.  No sooner had I climbed on board than I felt her great muscles bunch up as she spread her beautiful wings.  She jumped up and forward.  Dust and pine needles flew in the wind from that first powerful downstroke.  Exhilaration filled me as we gained altitude rapidly.  I held on tight as we banked to the right and paralleled the shoreline.  Fall off?  The thought never entered my mind.  At least, I wasn't worried.  So what if I fall off?  I'd just use TK to float until she picked me back up.

But when we were flying, we were flying.  We were doing it together through our link.  The world looked beautifully different through her eyes.  I could see infrared and ultraviolet.  I could see the polarization of the sunlight.  I could even sense the Earth's magnetic field.  She, in return, became quite adept at reading our location and viewing the maps through my coin.

Just as I felt that first surge of joy, I felt Mom's presence in my mind.  She quickly left, making good on her promise that I was to make my own way.

*I think it's time for us to meet each other's families,* I sent to her.  She responded by gaining altitude and heading straight over the lake.  It's a big lake, but it didn't take us long to reach the other side.

*Hey, Quench, what's that on your back?  A parasite?*

Apparently, Mirna had cruel siblings, too.  He tries to be so clever calling her Quench implying that her fire and water elemental natures quenched each other.

*Just the opposite, dear brother,* she replied.

We saw a red-orange dragon sitting by the edge of the lake.  We went into a steep dive, picking up speed.  As we were approaching the shore, we picked up water and atomized it into tiny droplets.  Then, we breathed fire on it turning it to steam.  The red dragon was startled, but unhurt.

*If you insist on calling me something besides Mirna, perhaps you can call me 'Steam.'*

He shook off the water droplets that had condensed on him with distaste.

"How did you do that?" he asked as Mirna walked up to him with me still on her back.  "Why did you bring a human to our home?"

"I'm pleased to meet you, too," I said.

"Garndl!  Mind your manners!"

Two other dragons, one blue-green and the other red-orange, walked over to greet us.  The blue-green water dragon was long and serpentine, and had smallish wings.  The red-orange fire dragon had wings bigger than Mirnas.

"Please excuse Garndl's rudeness."

They approached and Mirna introduced us.  "Mom, Dad, this is Marvin.  We met at my favorite spot across the lake, and somehow became psi-linked."

She introduced the red-orange fire dragon as Brisla, her mom; and the blue-green water dragon as Marsoll, her dad.

I slid from Mirna's back and walked up to them.  "I'm very pleased to meet you both.  You have a wonderful daughter."

"It would appear that you two are good for each other," Brisla agreed.  "We haven't seen her this happy since she came out of her egg."

"Welcome to our home," said Marsoll.  "Will you do us the honor of dining with us?  I think we can find food that's suitable for humans."

It turns out that their home was a large cave that a lava elemental hollowed out of the side of the mountain for them.  In the back of the cave is the entrance to a long tunnel that merges with a common tunnel.  That tunnel goes to the Pacific Ocean and emerges underwater.  It is used by the water elementals.  Other dragons use the dry part to travel between the various homes and the main climate-controlled compound that is shared by the local dragon community.

Marsoll and Brisla sent Garndl into the forest to gather some food that would be suitable for humans.  He wanted to grumble about it, but his parents insisted that he atone for his earlier rudeness.

Since I used to make a hobby of gathering wild food, it wasn't difficult for me to advise him telepathically.  I sent him images of the plants that I expected to be ready this time of the year.

Mirna and I tried remote viewing our special place.  We used TK to pick up my bike and bring it.  The dragons watched me curiously as I set up a small camp fire, and set my cooking gear next to it.  I filtered some water with my elemental powers and used some of it to mix up an energy drink.  When Garndl came back with some greens, berries, and roots, I made a stew, a salad, and a small berry pie.  I wish I could have shared it with them.

Still, we all enjoyed our meal.  I had the stuff I made, plus some of the grilled deer meat and fish that the dragons had prepared.

After our meal, we all rested.  Mirna curled up on a large cushion that acts as a kind of a dragon-sized bean bag chair, and I leaned against her.  She covered me with one of her wings so that only my head was peeking out mighty comfy, I must say.

The dragons told me the story of how an evil human who was bent on world conquest had created and enslaved their race.  Zheth, a fire dragon, had been ordered to attack a human named Sanura.  A human named Amy overrode the evil man's orders and led Zheth away.  Meanwhile Sanura and some other humans slew the evil man.  After that, Amy, Sanura, and two of their friends rescued the entire dragon nation and left them free to forge their own destiny.

Slavery, an epic battle, and finally freedom.  It's the kind of story that myths are made of.

It was getting late, and neither Mirna nor I felt like making the trek to my home.  I called Mom telepathically and told her the whole story.

*I was wondering how you managed to send to me, rather than just allowing me to read your mind,* she said.

I introduced her to each of the dragons.  She assured them that she understands the need for secrecy, and that she'll keep knowledge of their existence within the family.  Then, she gave me her blessing to spend the night with my new friends.

*You meet a girl, and want to spend the night with her right away!  Don't do anything I wouldn't do,* Mom teased.

*Moooooom!* I sent, my face turning red.  Marsoll and Brisla just laughed.  Just what I need; two more parents with my mom and dad's sense of humor.  They chuckled again.

Mirna, Marsoll, and I took a quick dip in the lake.  We used our elemental powers to get squeaky clean, then headed back to the cave.  I curled up next to Mirna and fell asleep with her wings folded protectively over me.

"Good Morning, Little One," she said to me.

"You must have been reading Paolini," I said groggily.  "Do you get much opportunity to study human literature?"

"We pick a lot up from the net, and our eagox friends help us with some limited trade with your race," she replied.

"I might be able to help you with that.  We can get pretty much anything we need at the Pentwater Compound."

We got up and went for a dip in the cold mountain lake.  Before my transformation, I would have had to use a wet suit to swim comfortably; but water elementals aren't bothered by cold water.

Mirna led me down to a deep part of the lake where large lake trout and muskies live.  She gobbled a couple down, and I grabbed one with my TK and brought it back to shore.  Camping sure is easier when you have powers.  I filleted the trout with TK, and cooked it while it floated in the air.  Lake trout, some left over stew and pie, and an energy drink for balance made for a tasty breakfast.

I cleaned up my dishes, packed everything back into my bike, and TK'd the whole thing to a clearing about a mile from the compound.

Even though I had only known them since yesterday, Marsoll and Brisla seemed like family to me already.  OK, Garndl seemed like family, too.  We said our goodbyes, then Mirna and I flew over to see my family.

We landed in the clearing where I had stashed my bike.  Mirna settled herself comfortably, and I rode home.  It only took a few minutes.

Chapter Three: Introductions

I rode to our house and got off of my bike.  I felt myself being lifted.  "You can't get away from me, dear brother," taunted Gertrude.

I sighed.

"What have I ever done to you?" I asked.

"You didn't do anything!  That's the problem!  You just aren't much of a big brother!  You're nothing but a big weakling!"

I used my TK to set myself down, then picked her up and held her upside-down over the puddle.  Mom was about to protest, so I let her read my intentions from my mind.

Gertrude was startled, to say the least.  "Mom!" she screeched.

Mom came out of the house, looked at her, and sighed.  "It looks like you're reaping the natural consequences of the way you treated Marvin, young lady."

"Aren't you going to help me?" she whimpered.

"You know how we are about natural consequences," she replied.

"But... it's not fair!" she wailed.

"Sometimes, natural consequences aren't fair.  They're just... consequences," Mom replied.

My parents are big advocates of teaching by natural consequences.  Instead of exerting lots of parental control, they teach us that everything we do has consequences good or bad.  If we stay up late, we'll be tired when we have to go to school.  If we do something stupid, stupid stuff happens to us.  They never shelter us from the natural consequences of our actions, unless the consequences are serious or dangerous.  They say that it breaks their hearts to watch us reap some of our just desserts, but I don't know if I believe them.  I see them snickering all too often.

I rotated her to the right and brought her face to face with me.  I was standing, and she was floating on her side.  She tried to twist her head upright to face me.

"Don't struggle, dear sister.  I have a reservoir of power that's not matched by anyone in the compound.  There's no sense wearing yourself out," I taunted.

Dad came out, and was about to say something.  Apparently, Mom said something to him, because he relaxed and just started to watch.  Gertie, meanwhile, was getting more and more frustrated.

"What's a big brother supposed to do?  How was I supposed to do anything when you flaunted your power and used it against me every time you got the opportunity?  What do you want from me, anyhow?"

She was silent.

"Do you want me to protect you when someone else picks on you?  That's hardly necessary, you know.  What do you want?"

I rotated her the other way, just for variety.

"I can be your protector if you need it.  I can be the one you come to for comfort and advice.  Or, I can be the kind of big brother that taunts you the way you used to taunt me."

She looked like she was about to cry.  She was working hard to hold it back.

"You have taunted me for a long time, but now it's going to stop."

I rotated her so that she floated vertically.  Her feet were off the ground, and her eyes were even with mine.

"I'll be your big brother, all right," I growled.  "Do you know what kind of a big brother I'm going to be?"

There was fear in her eyes.

I stepped up to her, wrapped her in a big hug, and released the TK.

"I'm going to be the kind of big brother that forgives you and wants to make things right."

I gently set her on her feet, took her face in my hands, and kissed her on the forehead.  She wrapped her arms around me and started blubbering.  "I'm sorry, Marvin.  I didn't realize..."

I stroked her hair and let her cry herself out.  She felt so small and soft and fragile in my embrace.  I felt the urge to wrap her tight and protect her.  Mom and Dad were all smiles as they looked at us.  They wrapped Gertie and me in a hug.  *I'm so proud of you,* they told me.

I felt Mirna's welcome touch on my mind.  *I second that.  I think I love you even more now.*  I sent her a telepathic smile.

"Are you guys ready to meet my new friend?" I asked.

They all went to put on long pants and get a light jacket for the trip out of the climate controlled area and into the woods.  I took the backpack from my bike and led them to the clearing.  It was a nice ten minute walk.

Even though they were forewarned, the sight of Mirna was startling.  I walked right up to her and hugged her around the neck.  That helped everyone become more comfortable.

We exchanged greetings, then chatted for a while.  I could tell that Gertie really wanted a ride, so I scooped her up and hopped on to Mirna's back.  Gertie squealed with delight as Mirna leapt into the air.  We climbed rapidly, and we could soon see the lake in the distance.

Mirna and I decided that it would be fun to get the families together, so we called Marsoll, Brisla, and Garndl.  Even with our enhanced vision, it was difficult to spot the specks that rose from the ground almost twenty-five miles away.  We flew out to greet them.

I wasn't ready for the exuberance that they displayed as they greeted each other.  You would think that they had been apart for days, rather than just a few hours.  They dove and looped and rolled and spiraled.  I had to reassure Gertie that she was safe as I held her tightly and used TK to keep myself firmly affixed to Mirna's shoulders.  I also reminded her that she could float herself with her TK if she did happen to fall off.

After that aerial display, we all flew back to the clearing to meet my parents.  Introductions were made again.  Garndl offered his back to Gertie, and Brisla and Marsoll offered to carry Mom and Dad.  I grinned and pulled some lightweight sporting jump suits from my pack to guard against the chilly air.  Gertie was quick to put hers on because, even though she had been nestled against me, she had gotten a bit chilly in the wind.

Soon, we were winging our way over the forest.  I could tell that Mom and Dad were enjoying themselves, as were Marsoll, Brisla, and Garndl.

Rather than taking us straight to their home, they flew us around on a tour.  We were very glad to have the warm sports cloths as they took us up to some secluded areas above the tree line.  We went to a valley surrounded by rocky snow-covered peaks.  From high above, it looked like any other wooded valley.  As we descended, though, it began to resemble the climate controlled area of our compound.

*You are correct,* Mirna sent to me.  *Our civilization is centered here.  You are the first humans to see our home.*

*I thought you lived by the lake,* I said.

*That's our summer home.  When the weather is warm enough, it's pleasant to have some space for ourselves.  In the winter, though, nothing beats a nice, warm climate-controlled area.*

*Don't I know it,* I said.

Chapter Four: A Hidden Civilization

As we passed over the peak and headed for the valley, dozens of dragons took to the air.  They spiraled around us and greeted us.  We were surrounded by an honor guard as we landed in the center of the valley.  Most of the dragons had never seen a human, so we were treated like celebrities.  The young dragons clamored around us and begged for the privilege of giving us a ride.  None of us had to walk for any of our tour.

The dragons keep the climate controlled area as natural looking as possible.  They even go as far as to block the deep infrared light that would make the warm valley stand out like a spotlight to some satellites (much as our own Pentwater Compound stands out.)  They don't require deep secrecy, but they don't want to become generally known.

They have hollowed out large areas of the mountain for added living space.  Each family has its own cave, and there are several common areas factories, workshops, parks, meeting halls, and the like.  They also have agricultural areas where they grow forage and fodder; and raise their own cattle, deer, pigs, and other animals.  They also grow some of the genetically engineered plants that produce carbon nanotubes.  The domes are lit by light elementals.

I commented to Mirna that they can probably get some 'foreign exchange' by offering to stock hunters' ranches with game.  I suggested that I can probably buy some meat from them on behalf of the Pentwater Compound.  We can supply them with electronics and other items that they can't produce for themselves.  She passed those suggestions on to the leaders, who were quite interested.

We met with the leadership.  They were very interested in how Mirna and I managed to get linked, and how we essentially completed each other.  They speculated that the white skinned man who created their race may have put that ability into their genetics in order to allow him to tap into their powers.

The white skinned man had created several provisions for controlling the dragons.  The dragons' top priority project is to counter all of them so that nobody ever gains control of their nation.  Since my link with Mirna might provide them with some clues, they asked if we could come by a few times for testing.  We agreed, since neither of us want to see anyone gain control over us.  Also, once the dragons are confident that they have countered all of the methods of control, they will have less reason to limit contact with humans.

We noticed that the various elemental dragons had distinctive shapes and coloring.  For instance, bio elementals have dual wings, spiky tails, and have scales that are various shades of purple.  Electric elementals are golden yellow, have long bodies, and large wings.  When we saw one streaking across the sky, Dad quipped that they move like greased lightening.

We met a few lava dragons.  It's rare for dragons to be attracted to other than their own element, except for a curious affinity some earth and fire dragons have for each other.  The resulting babies, lava elementals, have the rough rocky scales of earth elementals, but the spaces between are orange and almost seem to glow like lava.  That, combined with the thick hide, metallic flecks on the scales, and the spikes, make them imposing creatures indeed.

We only met one other cross elemental.  Zarch is a bio/electricity elemental.  Like Mirna, he has a great reservoir of power, but no place to channel it.  He is a handsome dragon; long and serpentine, with two sets of large wings.  His striking pattern of purple and gold scales should clash, but somehow don't.  When I put my hand on him, I could feel the same emptiness inside that had plagued Marna and me for so long.  I promised him that I would let him know of any human I found with a similar emptiness.

Zarch took me for a ride around the valley, then among the mountain tops.  He was amazingly fast.  We saw a large stag, so he swooped down before the unfortunate creature could react.  He spit a small drop of toxic venom at the animal, and it dropped immediately.  Zarch grabbed it in his front claws and carried it back to Dragon Valley.  He assured me that the venom was toxic only to that animal, and harmless to anyone else even another animal of the same species.

Zarch's family was pleased with the treat he had brought back.  Somehow, wild game always tastes better than the locally grown domestic animals.  They invited Mirna's family to dine with them, but they had eaten yesterday.  Still, they allowed that they might nibble a little while enjoying their company.  After all, Zarch and Mirna are old friends from way back, which drew the two families together.  Dragons are very family oriented a blessing that their creator had originally intended as yet another lever of control.

I was surprised that dragons eat so little.  While it's common for reptiles, amphibians, and other cold-blooded animals to get by on little food, dragons are warm-blooded, and need plenty of energy to supply their elemental natures.  Also, flight takes energy.

"Humans had elemental powers added by MORFS, and need food energy to exert control. Surely you know that human elementals wield much more power than they can possibly get from their food," said Cala, Zarch's bio dragon mom.  When I nodded, she continued, "The evil man who designed us didn't want to spend too much of his resources feeding us.  He designed us to be elementals from the start.  The control of elemental powers is part of our nature.  Elemental powers warm our bodies, power our flight, and even feed our muscles.  We eat only to maintain the biological part of our natures."

"So, food is only used as building material, and not a source of chemical energy?"

She smiled at me.  "Exactly."

The meal was pleasant.  A young dragon had brought some roots, fruit, and other items from the gardens that produce fodder for the animals.  She apologized for only being able to offer animal feed, but we assured her that the food just fine, and much appreciated.  Mom and Gertie managed to turn it, along with some stag meat, into a tasty dinner.

After dinner, Mom and Dad spent a considerable amount of time talking with the leaders (more like advisers, actually) of the dragon community.  Together, they made two lists.  They listed products and services that the dragons can offer to human society, and they listed products and services that the dragons might want to purchase.  The fact that the dragons are elementals meant that they had lots to offer.  Since the Pentwater Compound offers similar products and services, the dragons can offer their wares through us and leave nobody the wiser.  Similarly, we can legitimately purchase anything the world has to offer and pass it on to the dragon community.

While they were doing that, Gertie and I were having a blast with our new friends.  Gertie never tired of flying around, and our friends never tired of carrying her.  We also had some intellectual discussions comparing human and dragon literature, comparing our cultures (remarkably similar, by the way,) and even looking at the ways that we use technology.  A number of the electricity elementals expressed an interest in my coin.  Dad may be able to make a few sales here.

When it was time to leave, we had to hug all of the young dragons.  They might be large and scaly, but the dragons seem more human than some humans that I know.

We all waved good-bye and promised to visit again soon as we flew out of the valley and to Mirna's home.

This time, Garndl offered to gather 'human food' for everyone, and Gertie offered to go with him.  It didn't take them long to find it this time.  By the time I had piled up the sticks for a campfire and set up the grill and cooking pots, they dumped several pounds of wild edibles next to me.  Mirna surprised us by offering two large lake trout that she had snagged when Garndl was foraging.  Mirna and Garndl watched as Gertie and I made dinner.  Brisla and Marsoll chatted with Mom and Dad.

After dinner, Mirna and I decided to do an experiment.  We used TK to make a large depression in the bare rock, lifted some water from the lake, purified it, and warmed it.  Voila!  Instant swimming pool.

There was some consternation about swimming suits, so I remote viewed the house and, with Mom's help, selected swimsuits for everyone.  If anyone had been between here and home, they would have seen several wadded up swimsuits flying through the air.

Refreshed by our swim and tired from our long day, we relaxed in the Dragon Mansion.  I laid against Mirna as I had done yesterday, so Garndl invited Gertie to relax against him.  Mom and Dad snuggled together on a dragon-sized bean bag chair.  We were too tired to fly home, so Dad called the compound using his coin and told them that we were camping out tonight, and that we would be back tomorrow.  He checked for new work requests, and found that he was still ahead of schedule.  I think Dad keeps ahead of schedule by limiting the number of projects he's willing to tackle.  With what he charges, he can afford it.

(End of Part One)

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