Diff the Dragon by Angela Lott, illustrations by Richard Bartrop. An Okal Rel Universe Legacy Novella featuring the young Alivda
Angela Lott is the middle child of Lynda’s three daughters. She did two years of Business schooling at the College of New Caledonia and is now working as a receptionist at her local FYiDoctors. In her spare time she enjoys writing, video blogging, reading and watching very nerdy TV shows.
Amel held the baby dragon protectively in his arms, while she tried to wriggle free.
“Oh, don’t look at me like that!” Perry said.
“She is your granddaughter!” Amel said.
“Don’t you think I know that?” Perry asked. “I just can’t handle her. I am getting too old for this.” She sighed. Amel just didn't understand how hard it was dealing with the girl. Only Ayrium could calm her, and Ayrium couldn't be around all the time. The rest of the time she had to deal with a destructive menace.
“Why don’t I look after her?” Amel asked while the dragon got her nails into his skin beneath his hair.
By the mad gods of Earth, was he serious? She could be saved! “By all means!” Perry said waving a hand toward the blonde that had destroyed her living room. “Please!”
“What shall I call you?” Amel asked the baby, pulling her away from his face, where her too-sharp nails had been coming dangerously close to his beautiful eyes. Amel didn't appear at all concerned. “Hmmm.”
“That daughter of mine named her Alivda,” Perry said.
“Yeah, but I think I will need something that only I call her,” Amel said, then after a moment of thought added, “like Diff.”
“Di,” Alivda said, trying to whack Amel’s face with both hands, “ft-ft-ft.”
“See?” Amel said. “She likes it.” He smiled. Perry frowned. That was the sort of smile he usually had for her, not for the little monster.
Amel made to leave when Perry called out to him, suddenly seeing a major downside to his plan. “So I take it this means you’re not staying the night, then?”
Amel chuckled. “No, but I will come back eventually. You know that.”
He walked out of Perry’s room and toward the docks, taking little Diff with him. For a moment Perry thought she should go after him and tell him to wait for Ayrium. Her daughter wouldn't be happy to discover the dragon had been taken off-planet without her knowledge, even if it was with Amel, whom she adored. And maybe this way, Amel could be persuaded to spend the night after all….
But no, she realized with a shudder. If he stayed any longer, Amel might change his mind. The horror of that possibility was unthinkable. She could explain things to Ayrium. Right?
Amel was in high spirits as he walked out toward the docks. He had never had a habitual travelling companion before, especially not one so little, but he was excited for the change. Ayrium and Ameron were two of his favourite people, and this was their daughter. What could possibly go wrong? As appalled as he had been by the cage, he did understand that Perry was at her wits' end. Barmi II, it seemed, just wasn't big enough for a baby dragon. But exploring the galaxy would be fun. Amel wondered what she would think of Rire, which was his next stop. He had a date with an old friend there.
“You’re going to get to meet Ann,” Amel said softly to Diff while he carried her to his ship.
Diff got very excited when she saw Amel’s ship. Though she didn't talk, Amel could tell that she knew she was going to fly; her babble got louder and faster and she flapped her arms.
Amel smiled. “You are definitely Vrellish on the inside, even if you look like a Demish Princess.”
Diff made a few happy sounds from her perch on Amel’s shoulders.
They went into his ship and Amel showed Diff her seat, but it seemed she was happier sitting on his shoulders so he let her. “Just don’t cover my eyes, okay?” Amel said.
Diff screamed with joy and used her legs to jump up while still on Amel’s shoulders.
“Ow,” Amel said, and left dock.
The baby dragon calmed down once they entered skim, and Amel found that she was a great traveling companion.