Caleb’s hand reached for the rope one more time to hoist himself up onto another ledge. The icy winds howled around him as he hit the heat-release button on the ice-pick to pull it back easily from the sheer face he’d just managed to climb. A breath-taking view of the blue sky melding with the pure white peak of the mountain had him stunned. All his instruments read correctly. The air content here at the peak was clean, and although the temperature was far below habitable levels he could fix that with a Kelvin-Stabilizer, no problem. Everything was ripe to study an untouched environment. Perhaps he could save the desecrated lands below.

He breathed deeply now, taking in the formulated oxygen from the bio-lung which was strapped to his back with suitable tubing which twisted around to mold over his face. The soft flesh of his eyes was protected by the three-spectrum detection goggles latched around his thick skull. It was good that he brought with himself only the essentials.

As he pulled the equipment form the vac-pack, the tripod unfolded by itself with a tiny mechanical whizzing and his gloved hands pulled the Kelvin-Stabilizer from the self-warming sack. The device was no larger than an apple and it was comprised of billions of little circuits meant to regulate a climate to slowly make it into a habitable place.

The mountaineer had placed the device down and went to retrieve suitable solar cells for its month-long endeavor when the low rumble and the loud crunch made his spine go stiff. He spun his head around, hoping that he would at least be able to see the landslide before it became his doom.

Instead, he found himself in strange company. Standing almost a half-click tall on four taloned feet, a magnificent, enormous dragon of the greatest azure that Caleb had ever witnessed grasped at the peak and shook a coating of snow from its scaly form. The word dragon was lost in the annals of legends, far beyond the myths of telepathic implants and body-powered communications devices. So, the experienced pioneer, in all of his humility, focused on the grand impossibility before him.

The creature spoke in a voice that rocked the very air around them, shaking it against Caleb’s well-protected form. “I believe I stepped upon thine trinket, sire.”

“I…I… uhhhh…..” Caleb sputtered.

Pulling up its foot, the dragon revealed the device smashed and beyond repair in a now awe-inspiring print upon the surface of the peak. “Yes. It seems thy magical artifact is indeed a casualty of my movement, sire.”

“Wh… what are you?” Caleb’s words could only form out of primal fear and a mind overcome with awe.

“Me? Why I am Azureghoste, sky dragon of the northern bounds, terror to all those who wake the mountain! Though, I was once known by the name Majestic. You may call me such.” The bellowing hurt Caleb’s ears, but he replied with a rush of curiosity.

“I… what are you doing…. I mean… uhhh… why are you-“

“Pardon me, sire, but your items are far too simple to have defeated me. Many knights have already come with swords and fire and then soon after with sticks that fired rocks. Some sticks were bigger than others. Already they begin to make false dragons to fly overhead and frighten me, but I shall not be moved. You have come with none of these things, sire. You come with small baubles which my foot hath crushed so readily. You smell of a strange metal that bends and melts under heat, but there is but one of you, sire.” Its head shifted and blue eyes larger than Caleb himself stared at him in absolute confusion.

Caleb raised a brow. His head rang with the deep thundering sound of the dragon’s voice. “I didn’t… I mean I’m not…”

“Go now, young mortal. Tell the others that they must come back with better magical items if they hope to defeat me. I shall sit here and anticipate their return to see if they can challenge the great Majestic.” The being lay back down, its head slumped around the rocky peak of the mountaintop itself. It stared lazily at its newest mortal visitor, waiting for him to depart. Bewildered and dumbstruck, the pioneer turned back as the Majestic one contemplated its next meeting with humankind.