Arcas' Bones (6/12)- Zoobernetic
The dragonfly landed on the orchid's engorged stigma and proceeded to do a little dance upon it. Using its front legs, it wiped the moisture off its antennae. First one, then the other; wiggling back and forth. The dense forest stirred all around with the sounds of birds, insects, and other creatures. The dragonfly fluttered its wings, stopped, and fluttered again, softly rubbing its abdomen upon the bud. It spun clockwise and counter-clockwise, up and down and side to side, softly rubbing each leg on the tender organ of the flower, rubbed rubbed rubbed in the sticky moistness, until satisfied, it then leapt into the air with wings aflutter.
Back at the makeshift research station, Dr. Linnaeus and Esmeralda stood in the middle of the room in an area they had designated as the visualization lab and demarcated with a neon grid painted on the floor. Suspended above this grid was a three-dimensional replica of the environment as seen through the drone's 380-degree visual field.
Esmeralda piloted this and other drones that they were testing. She wore a tight silver outfit that contained sensors to control the drone. She crouched as she waved her hands and weaved her fingers in the air. The jungle flew swiftly around her as the dragonfly swooped and spun through leaves and branches at a speed of 60 miles per hour.
Dr. Linnaeus was astonished at the level of clarity, resolution, and frame rate of the model. The military aero-system was light years ahead of anything he had seen at the academy, where the purse strings were tighter.
“How do I dial down the transparency?” he asked her. He was beginning to feel dizzy.
A rectangular golden bar materialized before him. “Use this slider,” said Esmeralda without taking her eyes off the flight-path.
He reached forward and slid his finger across the bar. The 3D model grew transparent like a ghost.
“Darn!” swore Esmeralda.
“What is it now?”
“The birds! They keep chasing this thermal unit. Must think our drone is a tasty treat.”
She waved her hands frantically. Staring straight ahead. A bead of perspiration rolling down her face. She took a step forward and narrowed her eyes. Twisting her body like a dancer, she spun the dragonfly upwards, swooping along a parabolic trajectory on the vertical axis.
The world spun around them, and they found themselves staring at a large orange bird whose predatory eyes seemed just as surprised to see them.
Dr. Linnaeus held his breath.
Esmeralda weaved her fingers like a sorceress and pointed the dragonfly's antennae at the bird's head. A quick zap of electricity struck it between the eyes. The creature squawked loudly and fluttered wildly, then disappeared through the canopy, its cries echoing in the Arcasian twilight.
“Take that, you mean old son of a-”
“Ah, sorry professor, I got too excited!”
Dr. Linnaeus raised his hand and conjured up a topographic map of the island. Flipping through his weathered notebook, he read a list of names that he had acquired from the locals. He cross-referenced them with the map Rosalind had sent him the previous day. As he did so, markers appeared on the map, showing the location of each place, which he then systematically check-marked on his notebook. He wasn't sure about some of the locations, so he took a best guest and placed a question mark on the map along with an attached note.
“We’ll start here,” he said pointing at a beach called Nu’kannanni- the gathering place.
“But why not do it here instead,” said Esmeralda. “We already have a group there.”
He shook his head. “That area is too unstable. You’ll need practice before you’re able to map it.” This explanation wasn't entirely true, but there were some matters that he could not discuss with the girl.
“Do you doubt my piloting skills, d'k marea?” She said, uttering the typical phrase that Arcasian women used to insult their men and which roughly translated to sea dog.
The professor ignored her sophomoric antics and looked down at his notes. Out of the corner of his eyes, he could see her looking at him with with a slightly wild stare. He could hear her shallow breathing as well. He began to scribble something down when her hands shot forward, and the jungle around him spun in a vortex, through leafs and flowers, and just as it looked like the drone was about to crash into the mass of coiling vines and branches, the sky opened up and Callisto hung in the sky like a distant broken point of light.
“I’ll be back in a couple of hours,” he said closing his notebook.
“I should go with you!” said Esmeralda. "They won't be as aggressive towards you if I'm there."
He shook his head. “I'm just meeting their healer," he said.
"She's the worst of the lot. She stole my bra the other day."
"I'll be fine," he reassured her.
“Alright then! Go!” she said and flicked her fingers. Her face was flush and her brow furrowed.
As he gathered his gear and equipment, he felt her scrutinizing his every move with a shrewd stare, like a wild creature assessing her prey. On his way towards the door, he thought he heard her mutter some words. He stopped and turned to look at her, but she simply ignored him.
Stepping outside, he closed the door behind him and stood on the porch looking at the fading light in the skyview. The forest stirred all around him. He put the vaporizer between his lips and puffed a couple of times. A soft vapor cloud rose in the breeze and streamed softly through the chrysanthemums near the window.
"Hey Oscar," he said to the pink lizard perched on the windowsill.
Oscar regarded him coolly.
The professor put the vaporizer back in his pocket, then grabbing his backpack, he walked down the narrow path that led to the village.
Hey little aliens, thank you for reading another exciting episode of Arcas' Bones. I hope you're enjoying reading it as much as I am writing it. The attached image was done with White Knights water colours on Arches paper. I cut out a sheet of paper into smaller squares, which I plan to use to use for a few sketches. Working on Arches paper was a unique experience. Unfortunately, I did not document the messy process, so I have no images to share of the initial sketches that I drew with a 2B hi uni pencil and micron No 3 marker. I've attached an image below so you can see the relative size of the paper on which I painted this scene.
Enjoy and stay lit!