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Chapter 02 – A Far Bigger World
My little lizards had beautiful scales. Had they been in another part of the world, they likely would have stood out too much, and been easy targets for predators. But their dark scales that shimmered with a variety of bright colors in the light mimicked the dark rocky earth of their home by the sea. The dark rock was iridescent, and when the waves would crash upon the shore, it bounced light everywhere, creating a beautiful array of colors. It was a very handy adaptation.
There was little dirt, most plants grew out of the depths of the rocks, even the large trees along the shoreline. Most small plants had shallow roots, which made them prime targets for bugs, a favorite food of my lizards. The trees were rooted deep below the rock, and even in great storms they were unlikely to topple once they reached a certain age.
Thus my lizards were able to hide from their prey and predators by simply staying still on the rocks. As long as they were patient, they would get their desired outcome. The impatient ones died quickly, usually before their first mating season. And so as the generations went by, less and less impatient lizards were born until it became a rare trait.
The prevalent patience was important for ambushing bugs and the small fish that got washed into tidepools along the rocky shore. Those that were not good at hunting could focus on cracking open nuts and seashells thanks to the Little Leader of generations past.
After inspiring the Little Leader, I had not strongly interacted with them; I was simply content to watch them grow.
But then a curious thing happened. I had seen it a few times during the mating seasons, but had largely ignored it. It was like a pinpoint of light that traveled inside a new mother lizard, and they had always been faint, barely noticeable. But this light was different. It was stronger, more vibrant. I wanted to know what it was, and reached for it.
I touched it, and it was like a shock. Not like getting zapped by lightning, but more of an unexpected static shock. In getting close enough to touch it, I could all the incredibly faint lights of life that raced to be the first to fertilize the new mother’s eggs, racing to be born into the world. The one with the bright light was not as fast, and would likely not make to the eggs in time. So for the first time in a while, I interacted directly with the lizards, and pulled the little light ahead of the myriad of other faint lights.
It was pure curiosity. I wanted to see what it would become.
The male lizard left after copulating to find another mate, as was usual during the breeding season. The mother would lay her eggs and guard them until they hatched. After the advent of sharing, rather than leaving the young to their own devices once hatched, the usually well-fed mother would now feed her children for a short time until their scales were hard.
I watched the strong light as it fertilized the egg. It was then deposited into a hole in the rocks, and covered with foliage by the mother to guard them. The eggs hatched, and the mother fed them as she learned to do from her mother. Their scales became hard, and the burden of motherhood was lifted as the little ones were ready to lead their own lives in the colony.
But something was a little different about Strong Light. Her scales were harder than her siblings’, and her personality was more aggressive than the other lizards in the colony. She didn’t play well with others, but she was adventurous and had nerves of steel. She wasn’t reckless and avoided the larger predators, but she was able to hold her ground and scare off smaller predators by hissing, and quickly turning to whip her hardened tail at them to discourage them. Strong Light was brave. She was a warrior.
With her exploring farther than the other lizards in the colony, I got to see more of the world. I also realized just how small of an area my little lizards occupied. She made me wonder if it was okay to just be content with the small piece of world my lizards held. She ignited a hunger in me, a hunger to help my lizards achieve newer and greater things. To see new heights and reach new depths.
Tragically, her life ended before she could spawn more like herself. Despite her caution, she became cornered by a large predator. She valiantly defended herself, but ultimately was overpowered. Although my sorrow was not as great as it was for the Little Leader, I still felt her’s was a life ended too early.
Suddenly I had a goal. These lizards were capable of more than they seemed, they just needed a little help to realize it. If more warriors could be born, they wouldn’t have to worry as much about the smaller predators, and could expand their territories and their families. As it was, the region was getting crowded as more of the young survived thanks to the mothers’ early aid.
I looked for Strong Light’s parents, and for the next few breeding seasons I pulled them towards each other, hoping for them to mate. The first time, the mother snubbed the male, the second time they copulated, no other strong lights appeared. After the fifth breeding season, it finally appeared again. When I touched it, I could feel that this one was male, and I more understood the light and what it meant. This light was not as aggressive as Strong Light’s, but perhaps that would work in his favor. For now, I tended to the new light, helped him find an egg to fertilize, then stepped back to watch.