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Chapter Twenty-one

The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy is, as has been remarked before often and accurately, a pretty startling kind of a thing. It is, essentially, as the title implies, a guide book. The problem is, or rather one of the problems, for there are many, a sizeable portion of which are continually clogging up the civil, commercial and criminal courts in all areas of the Galaxy, and especially, where possible, the more corrupt ones, this.

The previous sentence makes sense. That is not the problem.

This is:

Change.

Read it through again and you'll get it.

The Galaxy is a rapidly changing place. There is, frankly, so much of it, every bit of which is continually on the move, continually changing. A bit of a nightmare, you might think, for a scrupulous and conscientious editor diligently striving to keep this massively detailed and complex electronic tome abreast of all the changing circumstances and conditions that the Galaxy throws up every minute of every hour of every day, and you would be wrong. Where you would be wrong would be in failing to realize that the editor, like all the editors of the Guide has ever had, has no real grasp of the meanings of the words ``scrupulous'', ``conscientious'' or ``diligent'', and tends to get his nightmares through a straw.

Entries tend to get updated or not across the Sub-Etha Net according to if they read good.

Take for example, the case of Brequinda on the Foth of Avalars, famed in myth, legend and stultifyingly dull tri-d mini-serieses as home of the magnificent and magical Fuolornis Fire Dragon.

In Ancient days, when Fragilis sang and Saxaquine of the Quenelux held sway, when the air was sweet and the nights fragrant, but everyone somehow managed to be, or so they claimed, though how on earth they could have thought that anyone was even remotely likely to believe such a preposterous claim what with all the sweet air and fragrant nights and whatnot is anyone's guess, virgins, it was not possible to heave a brick on Brequinda in the Foth of Avalars without hitting at least half a dozen Fuolornis Fire Dragons.

Whether you would want to do that is another matter.

Not that Fire Dragons weren't an essentially peace-loving species, because they were. They adored it to bits, and this wholesale adoring of things to bits was often in itself the problem: one so often hurts the one one loves, especially if one is a Fuolornis Fire Dragon with breath like a rocket booster and teeth like a park fence. Another problem was that once they were in the mood they often went on to hurt quite a lot of the ones that other people loved as well. Add to all that the relatively small number of madmen who actually went around the place heaving bricks, and you end up with a lot of people on Brequinda in the Foth of Avalars getting seriously hurt by dragons.

But did they mind? They did not.

Were they heard to bemoan their fate? No.

The Fuolornis Fire Dragons were revered throughout the lands of Brequinda in the Foth of valors for their savage beauty, their noble ways and their habit of biting people who didn't revere them.

Why was this?

The answer was simple.

Sex.

There is, for some unfathomed reason, something almost unbearably sexy about having huge fire-breathing magical dragons flying low about the sky on moonlit nights which were already dangerously on the sweet and fragrant side.

Why this should be so, the romance-besotted people of Brequinda in the Foth of Avalars could not have told you, and would not have stopped to discuss the matter once the effect was up and going, for no sooner would a flock of half a dozen silk-winged leather-bodied Fuolornis Fire Dragons heave into sight across the evening horizon than half the people of Brequinda are scurrying off into the woods with the other half, there to spend a busy breathless night together and emerge with the first rays of dawn all smiling and happy and still claiming, rather endearingly, to be virgins, if rather flushed and sticky virgins.

Pheromones, some researchers said.

Something sonic, others claimed.

The place was always stiff with researchers trying to get to the bottom of it all and taking a very long time about it.

Not surprisingly, the Guide's graphically enticing description of the general state of affairs on this planet has proved to be astonishingly popular amongst hitch-hikers who allow themselves to be guided by it, and so it has simply never been taken out, and it is therefore left to latter-day travellers to find out for themselves that today's modern Brequinda in the City State of Avalars is now little more than concrete, strip joints and Dragon Burger Bars.


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