Warnings: Long winded, science-y, dragons, and dangerous chemicals!
The moral of this story is, never ask for FOOF for Christmas. FOOF is the lab nickname for a highly volatile compound made of dioxygen and difluoride. However, unlike most interesting compounds, this one scientists usually make a point to avoid. Dioxygen_Difluoride has been referred to as “the gas of Lucifer” due to its uncanny ability to set things on fire. It can make almost any organic substance ignite and explode at any temperature hotter than 300F below zero! To put this in perspective, it can make ice catch on fire. Violent explosions and lab fires circle this compounds deadly history. While this compound has no practical uses (outside using it to fight dragons) it has one semi-redeeming quality; it can be used to synthesize plutonium hexafluoride at safer temperatures (I can’t imagine why anyone needs plutonium hexafluoride!).
But I digress. This story isn’t about the horrific lab failures of the humans, it’s about a little girl with bad handwriting, and an excessively industrious and devoted little elf with poor eyesight and a chemistry degree. You see, years ago, in the small town of Socros, AK, a girl by the name of Kaia was writing her Christmas list to Santa. She had been very good all year, and had recently seen How to Train your Dragon in theatres. Oh how she wanted a giant stuffed dragon to snuggle with at night! Kaia hadn’t learned the difference between lower case letters and capitals. Her Christmas list was in all caps, along with the entry FOOFY DRAGON. When she had finished, she was so excited she skipped all the way to the family mailbox, way out by the road. It was cold out, and her cheeks were flushed by the time she got back. That night, she went to bed and dreamed of dragons.
Far north, but not too much further north than Kaia lived, the elf factories were running full tilt to get things ready for Christmas. Keelee, the littlest elf (as her friends called her) had just been promoted to the R&D department. In most human organizations, R&D involved testing practical ideas slowly over decades, and wading through literal mountains of bureaucratic red tape. A human may go an entire lifetime and only make a single real contribution to society. In elf country, it is much different. An elf studies for a minimum of 25 years to be qualified enough to work in R&D, and then only in a specific section. This is because elf’s deal in dreams and imaginations. They read letters from children all over the world, then set to work to create the toy the child has asked for. These toys must be safe, long lasting, and easy to play with, and above all, fun! Elves don’t have the decades to invent new things like humans have. By then, the child will have outgrown the toy. They begin their work around November, when the letters to Santa start coming in. They then have to invent, test, prototype, and produce the toy all in less than 60 days. The job is stressful, but the perks were great, and it is one of the most coveted jobs in the North Pole.
Keelee was 125 years old (young for an elf) and had just finished her chemistry degree. She had just been accepted into the R&D department and had finished her first week of basic training and regulatory paperwork. Today was her first real day on the job. She woke up, ideas for amazing toys already swirling in her brain. Almost racing through her morning routine, she arrived to the R&D campus almost 20 minutes early. Swiping her card, the door clicked green and let her in. She walked slowly through the entrance, eyeing massive workroom. Every inch was decorated in red and green, the floor freshly waxed and polished, all the machine stations clean, materials loaded in racks beyond. There were 6 little red doors off to the left, indicating private study labs for use for delicate and clean-room testing, and 6 little green doors off to the right especially for outdoor and large toys and gifts. For humans, the latest craze are 3D printers that can mold plastic, metal and other materials into objects. However, elvish technology was a little more advanced. Each station in the center of the room had its own thought-printer, which could make things using dreams, and thoughts instead of detailed blueprints. They required training though, as elves had to visualize all the miniature pieces and parts properly or else it wouldn’t turn out quite right. Keelee gasped as she took all this in. It was her first time on the floor. Her week of training had been held in conference rooms in another building. She walked down the stations until she came to one with her name on it. 5th isle across, 12th row down. It was an open workplace, no walls or confined cubicle like the humans used, and her station was roughly as large as the average living room. It included 3 workbenches, 2 thought-printers, plenty of wrapping paper, and a holographic computer module specially built to display diagrams, digital copies of Santa letters, and materials in stock, supplies, etc. She began sifting through the various letters. Most were fairly simple (each letter was classified based on a difficulty level, and assigned based on elf experience) and she was confident in her ability to fulfill each and every one. Then, one caught her eye, or rather sort of caught her eye. She had a little trouble with her eyesight; despite having perfect vision, she often blurred certain letters together or mixed words up on occasion. The humans were calling this dyslexia (they like to name things) but to elves, it was just called “a touch of the fuzzy’s” and usually came and went for no explicable reason. To her eyes that morning, the card read FOOF Dragon. She thought to herself for some time, well aware of the FOOF compound, but couldn’t figure out why a child from Alaska would want FOOF for Christmas, or how to make a dragon out of FOOF. After some quiet contemplation, she figured the child must have meant she wanted a dragon that could breathe FOOF instead of Fire. A dangerous toy, but surely she could make one that was safe enough to play with? She spent the morning making the other toys and testing them, but all the while her mind was on creating the dragon. She decided to set it aside for 3 days to give her time to fully plan it out. Tuesday, then Wednesday passed. By Friday, she decided how to make it. The dragon would have to be child sized, but contain a small elf-power source inside. Elf power sources often look like double AA batteries, but are entire factories for generating power. These batteries never wear out or corrode. In fact, they will often last for years. This is why a toy from an elf will last not only through the Christmas season, but often not need a battery change until two or three years. Then after that, human batteries are used, which last only months at a time. In this case, the batteries would have to create these two chemicals separately. Then, they would be combined inside the third battery, mixed properly, then spewn out of the mouth. She knew she would have to add a 4rth “safety chemical” to automatically detect and neutralize any chemical reaction that might occur which would cause a large explosion. This safety chemical would have to take into account such materials such as trying to set the couch on fire, kerosene from the garage, and other things a typical family might have lying about. The main trick the child wanted, she assumed, was to make fire on ice, snow, and other cold places in Alaska. After 3 more weeks of working, she finally finished the dragon. It was about the size of a small stack of books, felt mostly squishy to the touch, and would breathe black and blue flames which would make fire (she removed the toxic smell and corrosion that normally came with the FOOF chemical. It was as safe as FOOF could be.
That Christmas morning, Kaia came downstairs exited for a stuffed dragon to squeeze and hug and tell stories too. The dragon was neatly wrapped in a box, with the curly elvish handwriting on it: To: Kaia, From: Santa. She ripped open the box, and pulled out the dragon. It was a bit heavier than she expected, and had a small button on the top of its head. Surprised, she pushed the button, then jumped back as flames spouted out. The flames scared her at first, then her smile widened as she rushed outside to try to light a stick on fire (her parents had warned her about trying to light anything in the house). After searching for a small stick, she found one under the fir tree out back. She pressed the button, and the dragon burst out a stream of blue/black flame that lit the stick, and the snow on the ground on fire! The fire quickly spread, fueled by the oxygen in the water! It grew larger and larger until the tree began to catch and spark. The girl screamed and dropped the dragon, running back inside. Luckily, her scream registered on the toy’s safety meter, and sent out a signal to the North Pole. Keelee had installed this meter on this particular toy due to its volatile nature. It pinged Santa himself, and he sent out a team of specially trained elves to quench the tree, calm down Kaia, and bring back the dragon. Keelee was ashamed when Santa kindly pointed out to her that the note had said foofy dragon, and that he wouldn’t have given a child a dragon that spewed FOOF in the first place. He then had the elves quickly drop off a large stuffed dragon, and Kaia happily went into a Christmas sleep in front of the Christmas tree, her memory of the FOOF Dragon erased, replaced with sugar plums. Kaia was warned not to mess with FOOF again, and the entire event was eventually forgotten.
However, that FOOF Dragon was not destroyed, but instead magically turned to a live ice dragon, and sent to live in the South Pole to keep the penguins warm during the frigid winters…