Monday, May 16, 2044
Washington, D.C – Set of Brighter Tomorrow
Two cream loveseats sit facing each other, separated by a small glass coffee table. A live audience waits expectantly. Ashley Cohen is in a slim-fitting green sheathe dress with a sedate gold belt. Beside her, Grayson Carter sits in a blue pinstriped suit. The camera is focused on them.
Off camera, a young man sits at the edge of the second loveseat. His back is straight and he sits in the American figure four, one ankle resting on the other knee. He is smiling politely.
Ashley: Good Evening, thank you for joining us. We have a very special program for you tonight. Coming to us all the way from Liri, Prince Aspen has agreed to discuss the rising tensions between the dragons and the First United Troop of Utah, as well as their thoughts on the Co-Existence Project.
Grayson: Or as some have taken to calling it, thinning the population.
Ashley gives Grayson a disapproving look. Off-screen, the young blonde man frowns.
Ashley: And later in the evening, we have General Stillman joining us to discuss the role of the First United Troop of Utah and the allegations made by the American military that a state militia has no authority to operate internationally.
The camera zooms out. The audience claps politely as the young blonde man comes into camera.
Ashley: Thank you for taking to the time to fly out to meet us, Prince Aspen. How are you this evening?
Aspen: I’m doing well, but please, just Aspen. Prince makes me sound like a stuffed shirt. [brief pause] or an eighties popstar.
Sporadic audience laughter.
Ashley: We’ve heard rumors that dragons live longer than the vampires. Were you around for Prince?
Aspen: I’d just started my thirteenth cycle, so Prince was a big deal. But there would be no Prince without Bowie. [shrugs] They don’t make music like that anymore.
Grayson: Did you relate more with Bowie because his music was better?
Aspen smirks and leans back in chair.
Aspen: Nothing like seeing a man in makeup and heels. [pauses, then smiles nostalgically] I’d never really seen anyone do that before, you know.
Ashley smiles. Grayson frowns.
Grayson: I thought that sort of thing was just a human problem.
Ashley jumps in.
Ashley: Let’s get back to—
Aspen leans forward and interrupts.
Aspen: No, Ashley, that’s fine. I’d like to stay on this topic. When you say “That sort of problem,” Grayson, what exactly are you referencing?
Ashley looks off camera nervously. Grayson smiles.
Grayson: Men dressing like women and screwing other men, of course.
Aspen leans back, a cold smile on his face.
Aspen: I’m too much fun in bed to only play with one half of the population. [aims cocky smirk at camera] Besides, I’ve never understood why humans are so interested in what other people do in the bedroom. If nature didn’t want me to [CENSORED] a man, then it wouldn’t have made it so fun.
Aspen pulls buzzing cellphone out of pocket, smirks at screen and puts it in his lap.
Ashley: So you were thirteen in the eighties? When were you born?
Aspen straightens back up in chair.
Aspen: The winter of 1812.
Ashley is quiet for a second, doing math.
Ashley: That makes you 232 years old? You look good for your age.
Aspen: Dragons, like most of the species, age at a slower rate. That’s why we don’t use years to determine age like humans. If we did, I’d have been fully grown by your standards before I could fly. It takes about 13 calendar years for our species to mature the equivalent of one of your years.
Ashley: So you’ve seen a lot growing up. You’ve been around for several wars, how does this new war between your Kingdom and the First United Troop of Utah stack up?
Aspen: At the moment, I’m not sure I’d call it a war. We don’t seek violence with the humans and we’ve been maintaining a purely defensive strategy for some time, and I don’t see that changing at any point soon. For nearly every human war, it has been the policy of nearly all supernaturals to remain neutral.
Ashley: Aren’t you worried about losing a lot of your population if you’re only defending?
Aspen: Humans have yet to make a weapon that concerns us. Have you seen a dragon in their true form in person, Ashley?
Ashley: [shakes head] No.
Grayson: The First Troop of Utah has captured several of your men, so they must have figured something out.
Aspen: [shoots Grayson a chilly smile] Those claims have been grossly exaggerated, and even a blind cat gets a mouse sometimes. [turns back to Ashley] We are quite a good deal larger in person than on television, and our hide is armored. It simply wouldn’t be a fair fight to do anything but remain on defense. So far we’ve managed to prevent casualties. [brief pause] From either side.
Grayson: There have been multiple reports about Utah’s army losing hundreds of men to the dragons.
Aspen: [interrupts] I can’t speak to whether or not the Utah army has been losing men, but it certainly hasn’t been to us.
Grayson: They have released pictures of their dead who have been burned. How else would that have happened if not for dragons?
Aspen: Oh, you mean these pictures? [gestures to screen behind him. Pictures of burned bodies appear.] Obviously, these were not burned by dragonfire. Dragonfire burns at nearly 3000 degrees Fahrenheit. If dragonfire had been involved, their bones would have been melted, let alone flesh. I’d say those were burned post-mortem.
Grayson: It looks like you have answers for everything. But how much is your word really worth?
Aspen: [Gives a chilly smile.] I personally am an Ice Dragon, so I can’t demonstrate. But my guard, Americ, would give a performance. Though we’ve cooperated with the National Institute of Supernatural Learning and our abilities have already been well-cataloged and proven.
Grayson goes to speak. Ashley interrupts.
Ashley: You’re an Ice Dragon? Does your type get along with normal dragons? We’ve not heard reports of other subspecies.
Aspen: Not a sub-species, really. More like a…sister species. Sub implies inferior. Ice Dragons are less common than fire dragons, of course, so I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of us. I believe I’m the only one in this hemisphere. As with any group, I’m sure not all Ice Dragons get along with…normal…dragons, but we’re at peace.
Ashley: Your species is at peace with each other, but how are you with the other species? We know Prince Aldis of Sidrea just announced the Co-existence Project. Is the Liri Government involved with that?
Aspen: We’ve been optimistically watching. We have every faith in Sidrea’s ability to carry out this project safely and while we have not had a personal involvement, we are nonetheless pleased by its progress so far.
Aspen looks down at phone and smirks.
Aspen: Well, it’s been lovely to meet the both of you. If either of you decide to visit Liri, I’d be happy to give you a tour. All the rooms from the throne to the bedroom. It’d be a really inside scoop.
Aspen’s phone starts ringing. Ashley blushes, Grayson huffs. Video cuts to commercial.