Monday, 25 October 2010

Captain Lesley Harrison - Log 2.0

It’s taking a lot less time than I thought it would for the crew to lighten up to the idea of dragons. I mean it’s one thing to tell someone or to read about it but when you're working with them day in day out then I guess it sinks in pretty fast that these things are real and they're not going away. The only one who seems to be having any trouble at all is Lewis. I think because he is so sure in what he knows and so sure that they didn't exist that he was always going to have some trouble. But the Doc is helping him along.

I think she's really been looking for someone of a similar intellect to talk to. Not that any of the crew is what you would call stupid. Even Jack is a lot more intelligent than anyone would believe after looking at him. Or talking to him. Or in fact spending any kind of significant time with him. But it’s just the fact that Doctor Bob can sometimes find it hard talking in layman terms that it’s good to have someone who does understand a lot of the specifics involved in our work. And the fact that she can explain the specifics means that a lot more of it is sinking into Lewis's brain.

We had a tour around the zoo planned for the crew so I had gathered them in the cafeteria which is pretty much our HQ. No one complains though as I think everyone enjoys the cooking from the Flames Restaurant. It’s not exactly hi-tech in there but it has tables and chairs which is all we need. Gray complained once. Well I think he did. As always he talks in riddles:

'Zere was once a chair in a bar. Zee chair was broken and would fall whenever someone were to place zemselves upon it. But the chair was kept in the bar none zee less as the people zere knew of it and found it amusing to watch others fall. But soon zee chair became so broken and torn zat everyone seeing it would not sit on it and so zere was no more laughter at zee bar. Zis is why we need new chairs in zee cafeteria.'

Anyway he seems to put up with it just like he puts up with everything. He was not the least surprised about the dragons in the zoo. I think about all the secrets he has in his past and I get the feeling he may have dealt with things more surprising then dragons. I would quiz him on it but no doubt he would give me a riddle or just shrug and say “Boff.”. He can be very unapproachable when he wants to be.

I had the team assemble and explained how we were going to be shown around by Lucy Arnold. She arrived late and apologised, but Jack had to throw out a sarky remark. It’s his way of testing the water whenever he meets a new girl but a quick slap round the head and a Look managed to shut him up as I have no intention of him trying anything with this girl. He has managed to form a friendship with Alexis and I would be happy if he were to form one with the Arnold girl too. The information she has on the dragons seems to be equal to that of even the Doc so if any of that knowledge rubs off on the crew then we would all be better for it.

She started by showing us around the pens for the lizards. All the lizards are kept behind flame and shatter proof glass to protect the viewing public from flames and any physical attacks which apparently are not so common now they are used to their surroundings. The Welshies were first to be visited and were in a large enclosure which had a lot of tall trees. They were together in a group and seemed very friendly. Lucy told us that though they look friendly they can be just as vicious when they want to be and remarked how the one brought out to show the crew was actually the runt of the litter and a lot more docile then his big brothers and sisters. While we were there a loud WHOOOMPH noise and a flash of orange caused us all to spin round away from Lucy and just in time to see a small melting circle on a patch of scrub near the group. Gray of course had not moved and continued smoking while staring at Lucy. I could see that he was making her uneasy as he does most people so I asked her about their habits.

She told us how though they can produce very hot flames they learn to control them soon after hatching. This allows for the habitat to be mostly woodland, like their original setting in the Welsh hills. Occasionally the odd play-fight will get out of control but they have managed to never set off a full scale forest fire. They are excellent flyers and will happily zoom around the enclosure most of the day playing and firing off short bursts of fire at each other. It’s no wonder that they are the crowd favourites at the zoo and the symbol of the zoo itself.

Next up was the water arena. This area was the home to the Scottish Sea Dragons though we didn’t get to see any on our visit. Lewis seemed extremely disappointed on the no-show as Doctor Bob had spent some time describing the research on them. As they have not been viewed flaming they were the dragons that were considered the least lethal and therefore various behavioural tests had been performed with them. Jack and Alexis were trying to wind him up teasing him about his obvious disappointment but the Doc butted in to defend him. Even though I didn’t say it at the time, the look on Jacks face made me feel happy inside. To him it was like Bob was picking Lewis over him and this is something he cannot even comprehend, let alone stand so it’s always good to see him feeling rejected once in a while. He needs his ego kept in check.

When we made it to the so called English Myths Zone there was a bit of commotion. It was feeding time and a group of the zoo officials and Pen Keepers were gathered to watch. The English Tyrant has a bit of a reputation within the zoo as being the one to watch yourself around. They are fast and ferocious when it comes to anything entering their territory as the Arnolds found out when they tried to keep two in the same enclosure. Lucy was the one who found what was left of the smaller lizard.

This is when Lewis decided that he wanted to feed the tyrant. I don’t know whether he wanted to make himself look more macho in Jack and Lex's eyes or in the Docs eyes or both but he insisted that he could and would do it. No one really knew what to say and I realised that everyone was looking to me for approval. I always say the best way to learn is to do so I told him, “Be my guest.”

The pen keepers kitted him out with a flame proof chain mail. This was actually necessary and not just some English Myth gimmick. The tyrant has a powerful bite as well as flames and has been known to go for the arms or legs of anyone who is stupid enough to turn their back on it. Once he had his flame retardant headgear, gloves and boots on Lewis was handed a large bucket of beef and pork joints and wandered into the pen.

The Myths Zone is mostly rocky as the tyrant originates from caves in the Lake District up north. When Lewis made it through the gates and into the enclosure there was noticeable movement up in the cave where the remaining lizard had formed its den. The doc called to Lewis and asked for him to be careful, to keep his eyes open and once he saw the dragon to never let it out of his sight. Lex was pressed up against the glass like a child grinning with anticipation while Jack took the opportunity to put an arm around Bob and tell her not to worry and he was there to look after her should anything happen to her sidekick. She shrugged him off and kept her eyes on Lewis.

Suddenly the tyrant appeared as if fired out of a bloody rocket from the cave. I’d been told how they can propel themselves into instant flight with their phenomenally strong hind legs but I’d never seen it in action. There was a grey streak through the air above Lewis who was holding out a large chunk of meat at arm’s length. He seemed determined to prove that he could work outside of his safe little workstation. The grey streak was still circling overhead. Lucy said that this was while it was scoping out for food as it would have already picked up the scent. She also mentioned that the Pen Keepers normally leave the meat on the floor rather then hold it out for the dragon...

The tyrant’s flight path dropped and it came down fast towards Lewis before speeding past him and shooting back into the air. The steak was gone from Lewis's hand. As were three of his fingers.

Lewis immediately turned and ran back to the gates holding his wrist in his good hand as blood dripped out of the glove where his fingers should have been. Jack and Alexis were almost on the floor laughing as the doc ran to the gate to help Lewis through. He was biting his lip to stop from screaming and was rushed off, along with the doc, to the onsite hospital. I had to wait a full 10 minutes for the kids to stop laughing and one of the keepers brought them over some tissue to wipe away the tears. During the entire episode Gray hadn’t taken his eyes off the lizard. He was stood watching it now. The bucket of meat had been knocked over and the tyrant was hungrily tearing off hunks from the big pieces of meat that now lay around. Gray was staring at it, watching closely how it was behaving as he took another long drag on his cigarette. It would be my guess that he already knows more about these animals then anyone.

After that Lucy brought us round to the jungle zone which had only recently been prepared for a new dragon, the South American Fish Hunter. This species was a lot larger than the other three already at the zoo, standing at around 10 foot but was relatively quiet when compared to the likes of the Tyrant. We would be needed when it arrived next week as part of security to ensure everything went smoothly. I had already talked to Bob and Lewis about firepower and they had assured us that they had a few new weapons up their sleeves to help tranquillise the lizard should we need to. From what I've heard from other reports, this dragon would still only be a baby compared with some of the other dragons out there. Only that morning I'd received word from Stephen Arnold that there have been sightings of a monstrous dragon in New Zealand with a 30 foot wingspan. Chances are that we would all be taking a trip down to try and capture it ourselves. Finally I would be able to test the team out in the field.

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Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Captain Lesley Harrison - Log 1.0

Today was the day I picked up the final member of our team, Lewis Luttwidge Dodgson. Cocky little geek he is but I have a feeling that the team will help him to loosen up a bit. Should be great as an understudy for Doc Walker and from what I've heard he excels in engineering which is good cos we need someone who can sort us out with some proper gear. He'll be the only one of the team I didn't specifically seek out myself as he applied for the job through the zoo. I guessed that he would have had a better knowledge of what actually goes on here than the others but I was wrong. The Arnold's had told him just enough to get him on board before dumping him on my doorstep at the crews' HQ. It looked like it was up to me to have to explain the job description to everyone. I knew that Gray would take it in his stride but I was less sure on the kids and even less enthusiastic about what this new lad was going to think of things once he knew the whole deal. Luckily I had Doctor Bob on hand to help me out.

The thing about Doctor Bob Walker is that... well... she's a girl see. Not many people know this as she publishes most of her scientific work online and doesn't like too much in the way of publicity. This didn't bother any of us though as no one was actually familiar with any of her work before I started gathering us together 6 months ago and there's no chance of any sexism happening with Alexis being half of the muscle in the team! In fact the only one who was bothered by the Doc being a girl was the only one who had heard anything about her before this, the newbie, Lewis. His face was a right picture when I introduced her! She was less than impressed with his bumbling efforts of apology but eventually saw the funny side when the rest of us started laughing.

All except Gray of course. He just sat there smoking those foul smelling cigarettes that he always seems to have. One of the many little vices he has that we have to put up with but he's worth it in the end. I wouldn't want anyone else on this job with me. And I think even the kids are lighting up to him. Alexis couldn't not like anyone anyway and I think some of that's rubbing off on Jack. Those two seem to spend so much time together that they're gonna end up acting the same, which is all good news for me. If they're going to be watching my back when things get physical then I want them in tune with each other. And it’s good to see Jack talking to a girl without talking to her wink wink as well. Boy does he love the ladies! I know the Doc for one is starting to get annoyed by his continuous leering. All he needs is a good slap now and then to keep him in line, he's a good lad after all.

Once all the introductions were out the way though I finally got on to why they were all here. I tried to break it to them easily about what it was we were actually guarding. Gray had always suspected that is wasn't an ordinary zoo because why would I need him if it was? I’m perfectly able to handle animals and manage a small team as I had shown in my Kenya years on the games reserves. He knew that this would be something different. Why else would I be calling on someone like him? Someone who does what he does? The kids aint stupid either. Jacks been hounding me since the day I brought him on board to tell him what the deal was. That was until he got his first smack round the head. He still pushes it though, little bugger that he is. Alexis was on the edge of her seat as always, hugging her knees and fidgeting. Damn kid can’t sit still for 2 minutes! Only time she's totally still is when she has her eye to the scope of a rifle. Sometimes scares me how much that girl changes when she has her hands on a tranquilliser gun. I’m just happy she didn't have one when the Doc brought out the dragon.

It was only a small one but enough to send Lewis falling backwards off his chair. A juvenile Welsh Inferno it was, still in his cage so couldn't do no harm to anyone even if he wanted to, which he wouldn't. The Welshies are the softies of the zoo, never flaming anyone unless they're severely threatened and even then they're much more in the 'Flight over Fight' camp.

The Doc tried to explain things but she's always been a little too scientific about things for the crew to fully understand, Jack in particular, so I took over. I explained things as simply as I could.

The zoo was made for dragons.

So far there were a total of 9 dragons at the zoo with 3 different species. 5 of the Welshies which seem to live in groups, 3 of the water loving Scottish Sea Dragons and just one of the English Tyrants. There used to be two of them but, well... they're an aggressive bunch and don't seem to get on well with others. The Arnold's found that out the hard way. Just like Jack found out that dragons are hot! The Doc tried to warn him of course but he likes to show off just a little too much.

As soon as I mentioned that this particular breed was, to all intents and purposes, completely harmless, he was up off his seat and wandering over for a closer look. I knew he would try touching it, he has to touch everything, but I've also come to learn that the best way to make Jack remember things is to let him mess up once. That way he rarely messes up again.

So that's why I let him stroke the dragon.

Now the Welshie is one of the hotter dragons we have. The hottest in fact. Hot to the point where you don't even want to touch them without the fireman's gloves we have to hand. Let’s just say that we had to have Gray have a good look at Jack’s hand afterwards. It was quite a mess.

The crew had a lot of questions but luckily Doctor Bob had all the answers, and a handy leaflet that the Arnold girl had written, as for some reason that girl seems to be one of the leading authorities on the lizards, to the point even where we've been told to stop calling them lizards because they're something new altogether. As different to modern lizards as modern lizards are to dinosaurs.
Everyone seemed to be pretty excited by the whole thing except for Gray who, as always, took it in his stride. As he put it “Does the camel get excited for chocolate?” I swear I don't understand half of what he says.

That evening, after we had eventually gotten Jack and Alexis to calm down and stop playing 'dragons', I told the group about their activities within and outside of the park. We are the Dragon Zoo Crew. We are here to make sure the lizards stay under control and to guarantee everything is as safe as it should be, attending to all security measures within the park. I had also been told by the Arnold's that we would be required to go off site to oversee the acquisition and retrieval of any new specimens that the park had been authorised to capture. What I didn't tell them is that as there was no real authority on dragons then we would be setting out to capture any dragon we could. After all, we aint going to be the only ones after them...

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The Dragon Zoo Crew - Pictures


over at DZ we got the artist to knock up some charactures of us lot here in the DZ Crew.

This is us.

As we carry on with this blog you're gonna find out a lot about at us so I aint gonna waste by breath (or my words) here. Just put names to faces.

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Friday, 16 July 2010

Dragon/ Lizard

Dragon Zoo. They got dragons but we call them lizards. Filthy stinking fire breathing lizards. People complain that what we're doing is animal cruelty, it aint. If there's a dangerous serial killer on the loose shedding blood where ever he goes what do you do? Yeah. You lock him up.

So Dragon Zoo aint cruel but we are kind. I know some people in this country would rather they were free and flying about "as nature intended," that's about as likely as Osama Bin Laden coming out of his cave and turning himself in after being the worlds greatest hide and seek champion since 2001. SO, where does that leave us? Me and my team do what we gotta do, we capture the ones that we find and we give them a good home in a controlled environment. In an environment where no one gets hurt, especially if I do my job properly. If we didn't? If we just left all those reported sightings uninvestigated? I'll wager that there'll be hell on earth.

Welcome to the blog of the DZ Crew.

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