Varthikes, an adolescent dragon, encounters a Human scouting party, which has landed on Draconia to establish a colony. A misunderstanding erupts, triggering suspicion among the dragons. Elements on Earth learn of the dragons, but dismiss them as an attempt by the United Earth Space Fleet to keep the planet for themselves. Meanwhile, Varthikes befriends Audwin McClance, an ensign on his first mission with Fleet. As a struggle for control of Draconia heats up, Varthikes and Audwin must convince both sides of a peaceful alternative.
Character Interview with Varthikes
Tell us about Draconia.
From what Audwin has told me, Draconia is very much like your Earth. Third planet from the sun, water covering most of the surface, and abundant in life. The mountains of Draconia are riddled with caves and passages that provide shelter for our kind. In many places, there are geothermal vents that provide ideal nesting places for a queen (female Draconian) to lay and incubate her eggs.
There are some secrets of Draconia, but I will trust you with them. One is a substance in the fresh water of Draconia called calaquim. Calaquim gives Draconians health and longevity. Where the substance is more concentrated, it also aids in healing wounds, short of missing limbs.
Another secret are the crystal spheres found all over our world. These crystals link to one another and respond to our telepathy. We use them much for the same purpose as you use your computers--to store information and communicate.
Tell us about your family.
I was born in a moderate-size lair near the base of
on Draconia to Abthles, my father, and Sadiriphing, my mother. I was the fifth to hatch in a clutch of five--the largest that a Draconian can lay. I have two brothers, Erimithes and Navothes, and two sisters, Shephaliv and Sarkiphing. When we were fifteen cycles from hatching, five cycles before Humans came to Draconia, our parents, as it is Draconian custom, left the lair to us and moved to another on the other side of the Range, where they are hatching another clutch. We still occasionally see them, but we depend on them no longer. Bare Peak Range
Erimithes, the firsthatch of the clutch, I appreciate the most. He is the most tolerant of my unusual behavior. He always listens to the adventures I experience in my wonderings. Shephaliv was the opposite. She always tried to discourage my behavior. Navothes, too, though he tolerates me, as long I danger not anyone else. Sarkiphing is more like Erimithes. She also listens, but more out of concern for me. And, there is Audwin, a Human who has become more than a friend to me. In the cycle since we met, we have become brothers.
What was the scariest moment of your life?
At nine cycles, my curiosity about the world blossomed. I wanted to explore beyond my home Range. My parents forbade it, but I went anyway. I really wanted to see the great leviathans (like the whales you have on Earth, but reptilian instead of mammalian). I ventured as far as the northern coast--as far as my wings could carry me at the time. I had not eaten at all that sunrise, so I decided to try to catch a fish. I found one school and pursued. I did not know it then, but the fish tried to warn me away. When I did not back down, the school turned on me, biting anywhere they could--wings, tail, legs. Finally, they let me go, leaving me swimming threw water red with my own blood. Somehow, I managed to reach the shore, but by then, I was at the end of my strength. Nothing I could do but lay there, alone and very much in pain. Later, in the dark of night and through storm, my father arrived with a search flight and carried me back to the Range. Several cycles would it be before I would again venture beyond my Range.
What one word best describes you?
Much does that depend on who you ask. Ask the common dracfolk and they would say "weird". Curiosity is something not encouraged among my kind. And intensely curious am I of the world around me and of what lies beyond it. I deny not that I have some weird habits compared to the others. Sometimes, I even try to feel the minds of the less-intelligent creatures on my world--the creatures that we prey upon.
Personally, I would describe myself as loyal. I am loyal, especially, to my friends. Though others would blame them, even threaten them, for wrongs committed against dracfolk by their kind, I would fly beside them if I trusted otherwise. I would defend them even against my fellow dracfolk.
What makes you happy?
My friendship with Audwin. Due to my "weird" curiosity, most dracfolk tend to keep their distance from me. They, of course, respect me as a fellow Draconian, but I enjoy not the friendship that others do. Until Audwin arrived. Audwin, an alien from another world, chose to call me friend, even after a rather hostile introduction.
Below is the conversation that launched our friendship.
Audwin sat down under one of the bunker’s lights and switched on the reading-pad he had with him. As he began reading, he heard the thumps of heavy footsteps approaching. He looked up to see Varthikes standing before him. Am I allowed to know for what reason it was that Captain Robertson wanted to communicate with you? the young dragon asked.
“She just wanted to know if all was well here,” Audwin answered with a friendly smile. “Which it is.”
You especially, I sense, Varthikes ventured. I sense you to be confident with us even after the events of this sunrise. Even after my anger toward you.
Audwin shrugged and lowered his eyes. “Your actions were understandable—the result of a misunderstanding on the part of my fellow Man. I hope we can avoid them in the future.” Audwin looked back up into the young dragon’s eyes. “I would very much like to call you friend.”
Friend? Varthikes asked, raising his head in surprise and tilting it nearly forty-five degrees. You wish to call me friend?
“You and your kind,” Audwin specified. “Is that all right?”
Varthikes straightened his head and lowered his eyes to the ground before him. Even among my own kind, never has anyone directly called me friend. Audwin thought his thought-voice sounded a bit sad, lonesome. Varthikes dropped to his belly, stretching himself across the ground. He held his golden eyes on Audwin and explained, Curiosity for that which is not one’s concern is encouraged not among my kind. Those among my Range, therefore, see me as I first saw your kind—as a stranger, an outsider—for my curiosity toward the world around me as well as beyond it. Varthikes lifted his eyes to the stars, then looked back down at the Human. They respect me as any dracfolk, but never have I enjoyed genuine friendship.
“I’m sorry,” Audwin offered sympathetically.
Honored am I, therefore, that you of another world should choose to call me friend, Varthikes said appreciatively.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Like most dracfolk, I enjoy a good swim and flight, feeling the wind under my wings. A great pity is it that you Humans cannot truly experience that! But, unlike the others, I love exploring my world and experiencing the abundance of life that share it. I enjoy also reading with Audwin. That is, he reads and I listen. A clever concept this method of storytelling! Symbols that represent sounds, grouped to convey ideas and information that, in the right order, can stimulate images in one's mind. Not as direct as the crystal spheres on our world, but clever still is this method of storytelling to explore scenarios and worlds beyond Draconia. It provides me also with a very nice glimpse into human nature and thinking.
Who is your favorite author?
Of those that I have so far enjoyed, Anne McCaffrey would be my favorite. I particularly love the world of Pern that she created and the symbiotic relationship between the Dragons and Humans of that world.
What do you think makes a good story?
Good dragons. Dragons portrayed as thinking creatures rather than as savage monsters. If they are bad, there must be a reason for it. That is, of course, for stories that feature dragons at all. I am drawn also to stories at feature interspecies friendships, especially between species that are very different physically, like us and you Humans.
Franz Hansen hails from
, where he was born and raised. He is the youngest of seven children--three brothers, three sisters. He grew up around science fiction, particularly Star Trek. By 1994, at age 8, with an already well developed interest in science fiction, he started collecting Micro Machine spaceships. And thus began his writing journey. With these Micro Machines, he developed his own Star Trek adventures, which he started writing down a few years later. Then, in 1999, while broadening his science fiction horizons, he began creating his own Universe, calling it Galaxy Voyagers after a line of Micro Machines. Over the next five years, he wrote a series of 45 short stories and several novelettes, all set in that Universe. Fremont, California
In 2004, he developed an interest in dragons, but he still loved science fiction and continued writing Galaxy Voyagers. By January 2005, inspired by Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern and getting an idea from an episode of the original Star Trek, he created his own dragon world set in the Galaxy Voyagers Universe. And so, Draconia was born. Five years later, Hansen made his debut with the first novel of Draconia.
Besides writing, Hansen also enjoys traveling and enjoying the abundant life of his home planet, Earth.
One Winner will win a Print or Digital copy of Draconia. Print option is open for US/CAN Only. Otherwise, if winner is outside the US or Canada the prize is a digital copy via a Smashwords coupon.
This Giveaway ends July 21, 2012