FROM THE TALES OF MOON MOUNTAIN • WHITE DWARF
The faint light of The Dwarf cast a sickly glow over the old machines surrounding it. There was always a certain quality to first-civilization technologies that made their machines appear to be borderline organic, made unsettling in the warm, impossibly soft hues of The Dwarf. Gjenna had seen The Dwarf many times on her scrapper expeditions to Noordpool. It seemed like nothing more than an old white dwarf sitting in a bizarre containment field. She had decided that it was some kind of primitive Dyson Sphere, squirreled away on this forgotten civilization’s homeworld as a make-shift generator.
The lack of a gravitational field was curious though. She shouldn’t have been able to get within half a parsec of it without feeling the pull, but now she stood-as many times before-basking in the light of The Dwarf mere meters away. The magnetic field of The Dwarf tugged at her gold-plated necklace, her favorite quarry of recent years. Gjenna pulled the necklace back to her body, “ Sorry Mr. Dwarf, that’s mine.” The pull strengthened and the necklace snapped under the magnetic force, pulling the necklace into The Dwarf. “ ASSHOLE!” she screamed as she took out a small vapor device, took a quick puff and just as quickly descended the stairs back to her drone, slinging the rest of the scrap she collected over her shoulder.
At her camp outside her ship, Gjenna scraped the last of her rations out of her tin and into a small bowl. Her thin frame betrayed how lacking she was in nutrition at a single glance, but years out scrapping by herself had built up a strength that still allowed her to easily toss her scrap up into her ship. A small chihuahua barked as she boarded, bounding up to her. Gjenna shot straight up and the dog stopped dead in his tracks, “ Alright. SIT.” The Chihuahua immediately sits. “ Speak!” The dog barks a sharp bow. “Roll over!” The Chihuhua rolls over. “ That’s a goo’ boy!” Gjenna starts fawning over the pup as she places the bowl filled with rations next to him. Her eyes catch the calendar on her navigation computer as the day rolls over. December 24th rolls over to December 25th. “ Merry Christmas Rio” Gjenna gave Rio one more quick pet as she walked toward the ship's controls.
Taking a seat, she grabs a bottle of vapor liquid from the dash and attempts to refill her device, only too late realizing nothing but a drop of her juice is left. She curses under her breath and tosses the bottle up to the dash. A light shines through the ship’s viewport reflecting off the bottle.
Gjenna’s eyes drifted to the window. A bright light was radiating from the old reactor building where The Dwarf lived. Rio starts barking as the ship begins to gently list with the pulsating of the light. Gjenna jumps off the ship with Rio following closely behind staring at the old building. She jumps back in her drone.
Inside the building the bright, pulsating light seemed to be throwing off strong waves that caused the old building to flex and retract, almost as if it were breathing. Gjenna descended down the stairs into the room containing The Dwarf. Inside, the radiance of The Dwarf was reflecting off the metal walls that were scantly visible among the organic looking old machines. But the brilliant light allowed her to see the machines in much greater detail: a forest of red and green wires, overgrown with old vegetation that shook gently.
A small white bit of debris gently floated down onto Gjenna’s nose. Reaching up to white it away, she looked toward the ceiling to reveal the breathing of the building was shaking down some kind of old white debris that was gradually starting to coat the ground. She had seen something similar on the ice planets she scrapped on, Gjenna simply questioned, “ Snow?”
The flexing of the building grew more rapid as the light from The Dwarf intensified. The rattling of the old alien metals sounded almost like the gentle jingle of bells that resonated through the large hall of The Dwarf. Rio bounded up behind Gjenna, “ Rio, NO!” Rio began barking at The Dwarf as the light of the Dwarf intensified. The snow debris began falling harder as the sound of the bells began to grow deafening. Gjenna clasped one ear as she picked up Rio. She began stumbling backwards as The Dwarf instantly illuminated the entirety of the room, the walls flexing wildly as Gjenna fell to her back. She curled over, protecting Rio from the fall. The light from The Dwarf erupted, engulfing Gjenna and Rio.
Gjenna was awakened by a cold wetness on her nose. She opened her eyes to see a worried Rio licking at her face. Collecting herself and brushing the collected snow off her body, she sat up, looking around. The Dwarf was once again giving off only its sickly yellow glow. Rio took off toward The Dwarf as Gjenna attempted to stand up, “ Rio, let’s get out of here.” Her answer was a bark from Rio in front of The Dwarf. Gjenna hobbled toward him and noticed a small box on the ground near The Dwarf that Rio was barking and whining at.
Hovering over the box, Gjenna bent down as Rio kept his eyes focused on it intently. Reaching out carefully, she opened the lid. Inside the box was a small box of rations and a bottle of a vapor liquid she had never seen before simply titled WHITE DWARF. Gjenna looked up at The Dwarf and back at the box, smiling.
As Gjenna’s ship began to lift off from Nordpool, she filled her tank with the liquid. It produced a vapor that tasted like a chocolate she had only had once in her life. She recalled the specialty shop her parents took her to when they were still alive, an old confectioner’s shop on an honest-to-god Earth satellite colony. Her parents had scrounged together enough money to get her a Christmas present that year, a bar of white chocolate peppermint bark. The vapor flooded her senses as tears began rolling down her cheeks. “ Merry Christmas to you too Mr. Dwarf.”
Gjenna’s ship drifted off into the planet’s atmosphere. Back in the halls of The Dwarf, the building began to settle. The flexing of the metal back into place gave off three low sounds as it all fell back into place. It sounded like the gentle laugh of a hearty old man: Ho, Ho, Ho.
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