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The East Central Dragon Rangers

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Somewhere in one world or another lies a land called Dragolandia where dragons roam free and peacefully coexist with humans. Somewhere in this land lies a small group of islands called the East Central Dragon Park, a place where many tame dragons live and train. The park was first built to house the dragons fighting against the Vikings trying to take over Dragolandia, consisting of only two dragon habitats, a breeding den and a hatchery. Since then, however, the park has grown tremendously, now covering three islands and housing dozens of dragons, most of whom are born and bred in the park. East Central also houses five special dragons who all, after being abandoned by their trainers, had nowhere else to go. But no matter how much the park grows and how many new dragons are hatched, the Vikings are still roaming the Outer Isles of Dragolandia, causing trouble for it’s habitants, both humans and dragons alike. That's why the park dragons are still training as hard as ever to defeat the Vikings once and for all.

While the Viking-defeating is left to Arya and the Dragon Trainers, looking after the dragons in between fights and taking care of all non-fighting aspects of park management is the job of a select few individuals. Skilled men and women who excel at dragon care and knows what is needed to keep the park running smoothly. Feeding dragons, cleaning habitats, growing food, overseeing the academy and distributing park funds are just a few of the tasks these people have been given. Basically everything that happens in East Central is run by them, the Dragon Rangers.

These are the stories of the Rangers and their everyday work. Ups and downs. Unexpected challenges and simple routine tasks. We will show you what it takes to be a true Dragon Ranger.

……

While the Dragon Trainers help care for the fighting dragons, the five Boss dragons are completely under the Rangers’ care. Among dragons, the Boss dragons are considered royalty and thus carry themselves as such. While they are mostly happy to stay in the park without causing too much trouble, they refuse to be trained and has to this day never followed a single order issued by a trainer or even a friendly request once given by one of the apprentice Rangers. Senior Ranger Thomas Fritz has a theory that might explain this behavior.

“While there is a lot we don't know about these particular dragons, there is one thing we can know for sure. All the Boss dragons we have here in East Central were previously fighting under the orders of the Vikings working for Dunkelviking himself. Whether the Vikings somehow forced the Bosses to fight for them or if they chose to do so themselves we don't know, but it seems that they have formed a somewhat sour relationship with humans since being defeated by us and abandoned by the Vikings. I think it's simply a case of dragons being unable to trust humans anymore. My hope is that with proper care and a good deal of time, they might eventually come to accept humans and even appreciate us. This is just a theory, of course. There’s really no way of knowing if this will happen, or if the Boss dragons have ever been favorable towards humans at all.”

Thomas Fritz is one of two Rangers responsible for the Boss dragons. He has worked at the park since it started up almost six years ago and is probably the most experienced Ranger of the bunch. This experience combined with his deep understanding of dragons is what earned him a spot as a Boss dragon Ranger after only four months of working in the park. Fritz is from an old family of dragon tamers and has had to handle dragons all his life. Unlike dragon Trainers, Tamers don't use dragons for fighting. They breed and keep dragons to prevent extinction of the rarer species. With the help of skilled healers they also take in injured dragons as well as abandoned babies and eggs, and has as their main goal to release as many dragons to the wild as possible. Helping with this work since early childhood has given Fritz all the skills necessary to become a great Ranger.

“One thing that supports my theory is the change we’ve seen in Mr. Popsicle over the last few weeks. He, as the others, used to show signs of aggression in response to our attempts to interact with him or, on his best days, just ignore us. Lately, though, he has shown less signs of stress and the aggression we used to see in him has almost completely vanished. He has never taken the initiative to approach us, but there has been times when he has not moved away as we have gotten closer. In stead he has just opted to stay in a sort of defensive position and watch us. We are trying to keep our distance and take it slow, but it's hard to take it slow when we are seeing such great results. But I guess the only thing we can do is take one day at the time and hope that he and the four others will eventually realize that we are mostly pretty stand up people.”

Today, Fritz and his fellow Boss Ranger Bobby Hansson are following up on a report from the night patrol saying that The Oddest has been infested with fruit flies.

“Fruit flies can be a bit of a bother for fruit type dragons especially. They tend to gather around any food related dragon, but fruit seems to be their favorite. Hence the name. They pose little to no threats to dragons, but they can get pretty annoying so we try to get rid of them as soon as we can. Especially with the Boss dragons who we want to be as relaxed as possible. We have had incidents in the past where flies have upset dragons enough for them to lash out with an attack which can cause harm to dragons, staff or property. During the heat wave last fall we had colonies of flies settling in one of the water habitats causing Cica, our Candy dragon to launch a plant attack in an attempt to get rid of them, taking out her roommate, Clownfish Punn, and half of the habitat as well. Thankfully no Rangers were nearby when it happened. Treating a poisoned dragon is quick and easy. Treating a poisoned human is a very complicated process and would put a Ranger out of commission for weeks. And being one of our main fighters, Cica is our most poisonous dragon. After that incident, the fruit flies have been taken a lot more seriously and we generally try to get rid of them right away.”

To get to the Boss habitats we have to cross the bridge over to Faded Earth, the Desert Island. In the furthest corner of the island the Bosses are kept away from most of the parks’ action and are mostly left to their own devices. The Bosses don't need much attention and prefer to stay on their own which is why this large, desolate island is such a great place for them to stay. This island is also home to the few Energy, Metal and Void type dragons in the park, but they are kept as far away as possible.

“We are hoping that the relocation of the energy, Metal and Void habitats will be prioritized with the next expansion. As it is now, we wouldn’t be able to provide a safe environment for any of the dragons should we have to take in another Boss. It's getting a bit crowded here on Faded Earth and the Boss habitats take up a huge amount of space. The best option would be to house only Boss dragons here and provide as little traffic to the island as possible. The other dragons have a higher demand of attention and creates a steady stream of people in all hours of the day. The noise level is also an issue. The Metal dragons especially tends to be quite loud. If the smaller habitats were moved, it would mean less strain on the Bosses and we would be able to utilize the whole island and put more distance between each habitat. I think it would make a tremendous difference in their behavior if they didn't have to live on top of each other. But in the end it's all up to the park funds and how the Chief Ranger and Professor Hogwin choose to spend it. At the moment the battle for the huge sums is between expanding the park and upgrading the Academy. We are doing our best to get that expansion.”

The park has a total of five Boss dragons. They were all brought here after being abandoned by the Vikings following their defeat at the hands of East Centrals dragon Trainers. They are easily distinguished from normal dragons by their much larger size and the gold- and sapphire-like jewelry markings they all carry. If you look away from those factors however, they look just like normal dragons.

“They are very clearly of the same species as their smaller cousins.”

Bobby Hansson is Fritz’ fellow Boss Ranger and has studied the old legends of Boss dragons at university before coming here to work with them.

“No one knows for sure why the Boss dragons exist or how they came to be, but many theories talk about how they were all normal dragons once, chosen for some reason or another to become a leader of sorts. For a long while Bosses were considered myths, but thanks to the Vikings, their existence has been confirmed and we are now able to learn more about them by studying the five we have here in the park.”

It wasn't all so fine and dandy in the Boss camp as it is now though.

“In the beginning Bobby was hired to study the Bosses when they first arrived here. It proved to be quite a challenge for him since the Bosses aren't the friendliest of creatures and Bobby had close to none of the hands on experience needed to handle them so I was moved here from the breeding den soon after to help him out. His knowledge of the Boss dragons and my many years of experience makes us a pretty formidable team I think.” “Yes, it's like we were created for each other and fate brought us together.” 

"Oh, shut up Bobby! You know what I mean. Anyways, here we are. Let me introduce you guys to our five giants. The one closest to us is Atlas, a Clay dragon. He, along with La Fontaine, the Geyser, are the most aggressive ones. We try to keep them as far away from each other as possible. I don't think they would really go at each other, but it's just to be sure. La Fontaine is the one you can just see right below those huge rocks over there. He's easier to spot when the geysers on his back erupt, so keep an eye out for that. Next to Atlas is Mr. Popsicle, an Ice dragon. He's the friendliest of the bunch. He still won't come over when we call for him, but he seems curious. He was the very first Boss to get here so we hope that his progress can be used as an indicator for the other four. Now, we need to go around Atlas’ habitat to get to our destination. Our Melon Boss, The Oddest, is the one being bothered by the flies.”

“It's weird though, that the flies have gathered here. I mean, apart from being a very large Melon dragon, Oddie is still just a Melon dragon. Their thick melon peel skin usually discourages flies to gather around them. Plus, the climate on this island is really dry, making it the least favorable area for the flies. That is another good reason we settled the bosses here. I'm worried something may have happened to Oddie in order to attract a noticeable amount of flies. Do we have any healers in today?”

“I think Cecil is in doing some regular checkups for the support team of fighters and there is probably one more on call, but I don't know who. Let's check out the situation first. If it's just something minor, Cecil might be enough.”

The park has a skilled team of seven highly educated and trained healers plus a dozen or so assistant healers to help out when necessary. The healer who is most experienced with dealing with Boss dragons is Helena Styx, a woman with eighteen years as a dragon healer and 2 PhDs under her belt. But her experience isn't the reason she has been given main responsibility for caring for the Boss dragons. She just happened to be the healer on call the first time one of them needed help and she enjoyed working with them so much that she asked to be given main responsibility for them. Since then she has started studying Bosses and is currently working on a masters degree in the field. The few times Helena hasn't been available, Cecil DuPont has stepped in. He is one of the youngest healers working in the park and has recently been hired full time after being an assistant for two years. He doesn't have as much experience as the others, but with his fearless nature and a brain that absorbs new knowledge like a sponge, he turned out to be a great match for the Bosses. He is usually the one who assists Helena on her major procedures and the two of them has formed a sort of master/student relationship. Helena has taught Cecil as much as possible to prepare him for just this kind of situation when she is not available.

“Oh, I see the problem. I was creating more and more horrible scenarios in my head, but it turns out it's not serious at all. He has a small cut on the right side of his back. It doesn't look deep. Just enough to break the skin and for his melon nectar to seep out. That certainly explains the flies. He probably cut himself on a tree while scratching himself or something. I think it will need stitching, but that is as much as I can see through the binoculars. I'll get ahold of Cecil and then check if there are any free Rangers around to help out. This is going to be a proper workout.”

“Yeah, I think this means we should end our little tour. First though, let me introduce you to our last Boss. The Sludge is a Jelly dragon and despite probably being the scariest dragon in the park , he is also the most timid. He tends to stay far away whenever there are people around. We can just about spot him behind those trees over there. That's his favorite hiding spot and it’s the closest I've ever seen him without bribing him with food. I did bring some snacks with me today, but seeing that a large crew of people will be coming this way soon I don't think there's any chance of him coming closer today. I guess you'll just have to come back some other time.”

And as Cecil and the team of Rangers arrive, it's time for us to sign off. We wish the Rangers the best of luck with the job ahead of them and we will check back on Fritz and Bobby at a later date. Until then, have fun with your dragons and if you have Oddie in your own park, remember to give him some extra love today.

- AngeliqueBleu