Prompt: A dragon steals the latest fighter craft from the human battleship.
Artillery shells exploded all around her as she tried to keep on her path through the otherwise clear skies. Pieces of shrapnel, aluminum hairs, landed in the gooey corners of her eyes and stung them. She roared, flashing her knife-like teeth, and tried to dig them out with the side of her hand. The weapons didn’t stop. They weren’t like the weapons of old; there was always somebody manning those, somebody who might grow a soul and stop attacking.
Not the cannons of the human cruiser. She tried to remember what the name of that one was, but she was too distracted b the explosions. Why did they name their weapons anyway? They never let her have a name, just a code-name. She was Bronze. It came back to her; the cruiser was the United and Allied vessel called Prosecutor. Bronze had been born aboard Prosecutor, if you could call it birth. She thought it didn’t count. She had no age because she had no eggshell to free herself from. Since she didn’t exist, she shouldn’t fear the death its cannons threatened, yet her blood raced and her heart pounded.
Another shell was headed straight for her, so she opened her mouth and shot a blazing fireball at it. It met the shell head on and detonated them both, green flames mingling with orange and yellow. Bronze used the smoke as cover to get even closer to Prosecutor. It was currently drifting, like the boats of old, in the whitish ocean of the planet Carver. She knew Prosecutor could handle much rougher waters, as it was cleared for interstellar travel as well as submersible activities within oceans or the very fires of the stars.
Now was her only chance to get back inside. She couldn’t follow out of the atmosphere, not without any of the gear they had originally saddled her with after her non-birth and her torturous training. She was a natural dragon now, enjoying the green bounties of Carver before colonization came in full force. The only piece of technology she still kept was her old helmet, and it still had its eternity battery and its connection to the human data web.
She had been looking through it one night, when the natural beauty of the stars over her cave proved a little too dull. She didn’t like going back to the human-made things, but she needed the company of books and shows. One miss-click, her claws were a little big now that she didn’t trim them, sent her back to the military channels. Someone was making a stop on Carver. Her old vessel no less, likely stopping to refill its canteens in the sea.
At first she was going to ignore it, but with another click that was a little less accidental she saw the manifest. She saw what they held: a replacement. It seemed dragons were no longer good enough. Perhaps the humans finally learned they couldn’t tame the oldest reptile from the dark of their imagination. Now they’d switched to something a little more regal, a little more fluffy.
She had no relation to the creature, but Bronze knew her fate. It would be the same as her own. From the moment she was born out of that dusty book they’d had her tranquilized. They kept her foggy so she could get used to tranquilizers, alloys, electric voices, and the million wonders and annoyances that flitted about humans like bugs or skin conditions.
Once she was adjusted they’d stick her in a helmet and sealed suit. They’d give her jets and an on-board A.I. They’d send her out into the blackness of space for combat training. Biological things still had an edge over the machines tactics-wise, and the humans were eager for expendable but powerful soldiers and scouts. Once they’d mastered light they’d learned how to plunder their own mythologies for puppets.
It wouldn’t happen to anyone else, not while bronze still had wings. She dodged the last of the shells and landed on the metal deck of Prosecutor. There were soldiers all around, but apparently, now that she was this close, they’d been ordered to use non-lethals. She was pelted by tranquilizer darts, but they had no effect. A few years, a year being an especially long thing on Carver, had hardened her scales to a degree they’d never had in combat. Without the suit blocking star-light she was now more armored than any of them.
She swirled around, knocking them over with her mighty tail: twelve feet in length. The humans never learned. Surely they held their prize in the same cage Bronze was born and raised in. Several of them ran, as if she was going to eat them, and opened a door to below decks. She pumped her wings and ran at the same time, barreling forward, pushing them aside, and squeezing down into the ship. The walls knocked her back and forth, but she had to move quickly.
She thundered by the mess hall, ignoring the hanging jaws full of imitation cubed meat. She was a creature of Carver now; she had all the alien sport fish she could eat. The other needed it as well. They could be sisters. They could own Carver… at least until the humans came in full force to slurp up the sea and mulch the forests.
A sustained jet of flame melted the lock on the door, and the door itself. Her fire had gotten stronger as well. She had no metal to test it on after she had escaped. Now that she thought about it, everything looked smaller. Was she still growing? She was a creature of the imagination… and it had no boundaries… free of the suit, perhaps she could grow forever. She could finally take on any human ship as if it was an annoying gull.
For now, she needed to rescue the prisoner. She ran inside. There was the old man with his light-up helmet, holding the dusty book. The bestiary of old, of times before engines or medicine free of leeches. Did he ever take it off? That was the device they used to bring their myths to life, to search out new weapons. The old man didn’t talk, and Bronze was happy to ignore his drooling mouth, nearly empty of teeth, and ratty beard.
She was there for the creature chained down in the corner. She had a spotted orange hide, with ashen wings even bigger than Bronze’s. Her muscular limbs were much straighter, much more mammalian. Her head bore piercing green eyes and a beak sharpened, no doubt painfully, to an extreme point. A griffin. It seemed they’d moved from the dragons, with the deep fiery hate for humans in their souls, over to something cuddlier.
“Hello,” Bronze offered. The creature’s eyes were naturally piercing, but she could see the inkiness of the drugs in her pupils. “I’m here to help you. There’s a sky out there. An entire sky just for us if you can move.”
“The chains,” the griffin answered weakly, her voice like a raven’s moan and a pan flute duet. Bronze took a deep breath, honed her cone of fire, and sliced the metal apart with precision. The griffin rose.
“What chains?” Bronze asked. “Your code name?”
“It’s beautiful. I can show you how to own it. Step one is flying out of here.” The griffin cried out in agreement, spreading her ashen wings wide. Bronze led the way out. The poor confused soldiers hadn’t even finished chewing those same stunned bites.
The cannons fired again when they were far enough away, but their heart wasn’t in it. Maybe they started to question why all their creations left them. Once they were free, they had time. No schedule would be interrupted for an entire cruiser just to chase two rogue myths. They could always make more. The book was an infinite supply.
They had time. Time to grow. To strengthen. Hopefully, when the next cruiser of empty-heads stopped by to either chain them or stuff them back in the book, they would be the size of mountains and read to pierce their metal hearts.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by Dwaiquiche during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!