Tritonian Foxtaur U.
Dreamed 2016/9/10 by Wayan
I'm standing on a moon of ice. Well, part ice--crater-floors and other recently disturbed spots are glassy with it. But rock abounds too, and strange patches and streaks of color: hydrocarbons called tholins. They drizzle down on the highlands and slowly collect in river valleys and lake beds. Patches and streaks of ochre, Martian reds, deep browns, oily blacks, accreting where topsoil would on Earth.
A ringed gas giant that might be Saturn floats dim in the hazy sky, and rival moons gleam. At first I think "I'm on Titan!" but it can't be--its air pressure is higher than Earth's, and the air here is thin, Tibetan perhaps. That's still enough. I wear thick furs and an oxygen mask, but no pressure suit--no need. This could be Rhea or Iapetus, each about half the size of Luna--I saw recent reports that they might have thin, cold atmospheres. Or maybe Triton, orbiting Neptune; it definitely has an atmosphere, though thinner than Mars. Maybe its air is denser than we thought? Those rings are bolder than Neptune's, though; sure looks like Saturn. But the orange haze may be tinting it all Saturnian yellow. Titan or Triton?
I spot a creek leading down to a pale blue lake--methane and ethane of course, not water. Still, liquid on the surface! And round it, surprising green--scrubby trees. Yes, there's life.
Intelligent life. The natives are methane-breathing foxtaurs, wolf-sized but more delicate in frame; most of their bulk is insulating fur. Surprisingly, they have nearly Terran internal temperatures--and why not? Their insulation's at least as good as our Arctic foxes, and enzymes work so fast in liquid water.
I'm an exchange student here, living on-campus at one of the few universities. Foxtaur science is roughly Victorian--metal's so rare, and fire's peculiar (the oxygen's in the fuel, the hydrocarbons in the air--hard to smelt or bake pottery), hindering technology. But I didn't come here for the science department. I came for two programs that lead the whole solar system: fine art and magic.
I don't mean stage magic.
For sculpture class, I mold a model of this moon. Not totally realistic--I exaggerate the relief on the huge craters. And unlike the real moon, mine's translucent wherever the milky ice is bare. The real moon's far too big for light to shine through whole mountain ranges. I show it to my foxtaur art professors. They find it accurate enough to be useful, and think the translucency's attractive (encouraging study) & educational (contrasting bare milky ice with opaque, tholin-stained life-zones).
I won't detail the middle of this long dream; it was a sweet romance with a classmate. That part's personal. I'll just say... despite appearances, it turns out humans & foxtaurs are emotionally and sexually quite compatible.
But my sore toe still hurts. Been limping for weeks. Not healing. I have to go to the student clinic for minor surgery.
Waiting my turn, I witness a classmate's knee surgery, baring what seem to be metal joints and foam-rubber muscles. The foxtaurs look inside like my half-built armature for Vixtoria, a life-size freestanding faux-fur foxtaur. Though these living armatures are better designed! Eons of polish. I gotta take a Tritonian anatomy class! It'll improve my sculpture back on Earth...
I entrust my sore toe to a pedicurist, even though he's a nativist bigot--"I'd like to ban alien transfer students like you, taking up slots honest foxtaurs need..." Do I trust him? Well, he's a fox who'd clearly love to nip me, but... he has his pride and reputation to consider. He trims all my toenails rather (pardon me) snippily; with no concessions to my unease, in sharp disapproving angular cuts, not the slow smoother curves he gave to the claws of that attractive local vixen before me. Still, a competent trim; the sore hangnail I stubbed will quit catching on stuff and re-irritating. Fine. Gimme a grumpy but conscientious healthworker over an unprofessional charmer any day!
The climax of the dream is... an academic intrigue gets exposed! Fox society tolerates a certain amount of scheming--they're foxes, that side needs an outlet! But one dean just went too far. Foxes got hurt. He takes a deep breath of methane, stands foursquare, and apologizes to the grad students he slighted.
That's all. They don't need jail to enforce his good behavior. Foxtaur honor again! That dean'll do whatever it takes to restore it.
And I know why fox honor is so strict. When magic works, when wishes come true... mind what you wish for!
A caveat that applies to technology too.
NOTES IN THE MORNING
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