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About Literature / Hobbyist Official Beta Tester Russell Truex25/Male/Antarctica Group :icondragonnation: DragonNation
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Janus by Insane-Randomness
Janus
So I figured I had better break up all this writing with some art.  Right now, I'm going through a rough time, my PC is disassembled, mainly because it had a total and complete meltdown.  So no art from ME.  This was done by :iconysulyan: as a commission.  Go and give some props to him, check out his art.  His commission prices are very reasonable.

As the title might suggest, this is Janus, the youngest but largest dragon in Omega squadron.  His natural power is water AND wind, which makes him a storm dragon.  Two elements is incredibly rare for a dragon, and it makes him very powerful indeed.  However, this is balanced out by the fact that he is clinically insane.  His friends are the only thing that keep him from trying to tear his own head off.  None know his backstory, since he won't talk about it.  And NO, I won't tell you.  You'll just have to read the story.
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2100.  Omega squadron stood outside the armory, waiting in a long winding line.  The place was absolutely pack, with barely enough standing room.

"I'm telling you, it wouldn't be this crowded if something was going on, but I can't get anything out of any of the squad leaders." Venus said quietly into their huddle, "I know why.  Compartmentalization.  Something big is happening, but everyone’s orders are classified, so everyone only gets a tiny piece of the picture.  I was able to wrangle some information, mainly from fellow thunder draken.  Something BIG is going down."

"I agree." Guinevere dropped in, "You can't have this many squads here without a general mobilization.  But where are they being deployed?"

"How big is this Guin?" Agera asked eyeing anything suspicious.

"Very.  Normally I can make an educated guess.  But it's more than that."

"Guin and I, much like you, headed back to the mainland today.  You must have seen it." Venus said even more quietly, "A general call to arms.  People telling people, who tell even more people.  Civvies everywhere are carrying weapons."

"And it's not just Cayman.  It's all over both colony worlds.  This is bigger than any normal operation.  But it's the big things that really bother me.  Troops from Berlin reporting mass migrations of Voidwing movement.  Reports from navy personnel of reactor heat plumes in the hulls of starships.  The mobilizing of NINE mechanized armored divisions."

"Nine?!"

"Sssh." Jiza hissed at her.

"Nine?" Agera said, more quietly this time, "That's three full legions of tanks.  Something like a quarter of the force."

"That's just the MBTs.  Those are just heavy mechanized divisions."

Agera's eyes widened, "That's all seven of the main and -"

"I know, and two reserves.  It's something like two hundred and ten of just the main battle tanks.  I'm estimating something like another twelve hundred armored fighting vehicles in grand total."

"What kind of party are they planning?  And where do we figure into this?" Agera asked, looking around at the assembled mass, "It's been getting busier here as well."

"I don't think this is an invasion group.  I honestly think the void are gearing up for one final assault."

"How?  We own the only two portal generators in existence now.  Unless Avila can figure out a way to get her troops here." Janus said, "She can't do that, can she?"

"She can." Agera and Venus said the phrase at the same time.  Agera finished for them both, "The problem is she has to know the exact location of both the entrance and the exit points.  For a Golden dragon, it's easy to move yourself, it's difficult to move others.  She could try, but she would risk losing her force in space.  That's why we use hyper-precise coordinates for our generators. Each time we jump, your using decades of research into the most delicate movements of the universe.  All that spinning, orbiting, wobbling, it's impossible to guess without precise measurement."

"Right, that's why we can't just land right on top of their heads.  The generators only lead to the most major cities, and of those, most have been destroyed."

"So, they used one of our connections when we opened it last time to get here?" Vienzo said.

"That wasn't a battle for them.  It barely warranted a skirmish title for them.  That was nothing more than a pursuit by an elite few." Guin said quietly.

"So if Avila was holding the generator open, how did it close?" Jiza said quietly.

"It was Pyrrus." a voice behind them said.  Agera knew who it was immediately.

"Why are you here mother?" Venus called to Kiesah as she approached.

"I'm not your mother, Venus.  I'm here for repairs on my own set of armor.  You lot are getting yours soon, aren't you?"

"Whenever they deem us worthy enough to enter their shri -”

"OMEGA!" the quartermaster called over the group’s heads, "Omega squad, front and center!"

"Time to really become a soldier." Agera said to the rest of her group.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

The armory was small cramped and dark.  Small, yet bright fires burned in the center of the room, and didn't quite reach the corners.  The walls were lined with assault rifles, rocket launchers, sniper rifles, squad support machine guns, side arms, and hundreds of bayonets.  Stacks of human body armor and combat fatigues were piled against the wall.  A minigun rested in the corner, and a row of automatic bullet milling machines were against the wall.

"Someone's gone all medieval." Janus said quietly.

"Shut up, Janus."

The quartermaster was incredibly short.  He had a strong stocky build and his skin was covered with red blisters from burns.  His blocky heavy browed face was constantly etched in a frown.

"Do you lot know how much trouble you've caused me?!" he shouted up at them after closing the door, "This is all such a damned inconvenience.  These are my last five suits of dragon armor, and they are incredibly expensive and rare.  Now then, follow me.  The generators are out for this section, so you had better stick close unless you want to lose yourself in here in the dark."

He grabbed a flashlight, and beckoned for them to follow him down a flight of skinny stairs.  The place was just barely large enough for them as they descended.  Agera had to draw her wings right up against her body to allow her to pass, her scales occasionally scraping paint off the walls.

Several floors down, and Agera wondered if they were traveling to the pits of hell.  Finally, the stairway ended, and they all emerged into a long wide hallway.  The stone tile here was newer, as were the light fixtures, so when the quartermaster opened the doors at the far end, and revealed a cave beyond, they were shocked.

Massive furnaces roared as they were tended to by a group of fire drakes, all larger than normal draken.  Agera was led to a heavy muscled male and introduced.

"This is forgemaster Fiam.  Fiam takes orders from me, and does not answer to you, UNDERSTOOD?!" he shouted at them.  They all saluted, "We do not give handouts, so don't you ever beg for extra armor, because it won't be given.  Run them down, Fiam."

"Yes, sir!" there was the slightest hiss in his voice, "I'll get them sorted out.  You lot with me."

The quartermaster turned and jogged back to the doors, never giving them a second glance.  Agera was about to protest, but the Forgemaster cut her off.

"Old coot thinks he knows everything about dragon armor.  I've been making armor now for near as makes no difference one hundred years.  I know my job."

He led them down a shallow path and into an antechamber, passing between two furnaces.  Molten slag illuminated the long low chamber and each pedestal, each housing a particular set of armor.  Guin smiled at Agera.

"Now who here is the leader?" Fiam asked the group. Agera raised a wing, "Step forwards."

Agera moved into the gap between him and the squad.  She was sweating profusely now from the heat.

"The humans, quartermaster included, think our armor is just another tool.  This cannot be further from the truth.  Each set is custom made to cater to the needs of each individual warrior it goes to.  How do you prefer to fight?  Land or air?"

"Air."

"Powers or claws?"

"Claws.  What does this have to do with armor?"

Fiam ignored her, "Stealth or armor?"

"Armor."

It went on like this for a while, question or answer until Fiam had a solid idea of how Agera liked to fight.  As he talked, he would tread up to a set of armor, and according to her answers would move down or up the rows.  Finally when the questions ended, they stood in front of the selected armor set.  Fiam lifted the helmet.

"Let's see you in it.  Each armor set has been made generally the same way for thousands of years.  By hand.  Each piece can take anywhere from ten to thirty-five hours to craft, and depending on the size of the armor can take anywhere from seventy to eight hundred hours to craft.  Based on the size and thickness of the armor, a set will weigh up to four hundred pounds, and the thickest, largest plates will be up to five inches thick.  Some armor comes with defensive spikes installed, or active camouflage, which adapts to the surrounding terrain.  All come with built in radio communications.  Standard troops are only patched into their squad and the surrounding radios.  Squad leaders get enhanced radios, enabling them to coordinate with other squads or wings on the fly.  All suits come with hydration packs, a laser rangefinder, night vision, optical enhancement, and a video recorder.  Information is stored in a black box.  Built right, these suits offer much improved protection and capabilities, WITHOUT degrading the combat performance in any way."

Agera took the helmet from him.  It had a bunch of angles, designed to deflect enemy weapons, rather than stop them completely.  She was surprised at how light it was.

"Can I try it on?" she asked looking up at him.  He nodded and she lowered the solid plate carefully over her skull.  If it wasn't for the foam strips that cushioned the metal against her skin, she wouldn't have known it was there.  Its angles and facets designed to deflect any projectiles that happened to hit it.

“Each set is custom made, and has a custom color scheme, according to its owner.  These are just rough prototypes, packed with features, but low on design.” Agera looked at him from behind the eye plate of the helmet.

“We only have forty-eight hours.” He looked at her startled.

“We can’t make sets that fast, not for six dragons.  If it were half that number, and we all worked together, we might be able to.” he said nervously, “If I had a week…”

“Agera, if worse comes to worse, we can use just base models.”

“That IS base models.  If we don’t form the plates right, it won’t adhere to your skin properly, and pieces will fall off in flight.  The time estimate I gave for you was for only shaping.” He said, scratching the back of his neck.

“Tooth and tail.  Fiam, what do you have in reserve?” Fiam looked at her, “What if we used already made armor sets.  Only five of us require armor.  And one of our number requires only a partial set, since he naturally grows armor from his skin.”

“The double there.” He said, nodding at Janus and using the slang for a dragon of two elements.  He looked up at the ceiling and muttered under his breath, and then finally looked down at the lot of them, “We can do it, but we’ll be working through the night, and you will have to help me.”

“Fair enough.  Let’s see what you have.” Fiam motioned for her and the others to follow, and he led them over a footbridge above sweltering magma to a small antechamber.  The room had a number of gemstones shaped into the form of dragon skulls, all molded to resemble the previous owners of the helmets that rested upon them, and the armor pieces neatly arranged beneath their chins.

“These armor sets belonged to old dragons who fought in the Terran wars.  Their memories live on in song.  Normally we would not raid these monuments, but these are not normal times.  You may have your pick of whatever suits you.”

“How many are there?” Venus asked, staring into the pearl eyes of a quartz skull.

“One hundred and thirty one.  This is only a small portion of the number of dragons who died.  By tradition, the armor sets are returned to the one who crafted them.  I take part in the crafting of all my armor sets.” Vienzo tapped on another set across the room from his mate.

“Once you have possession of them, they are yours, no matter what anyone says, until you die.” Fiam said quietly, “I make no allusions to the fact that they are mine or the previous owners.  It’s the least I can do to help.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Don’t thank me until the armor saves your life.” He said quietly, “Please, just choose a set before I change my mind.  We need to get working on them as soon as possible.”

The armor DIDN’T fit well at all.  Pieces hung loosely, several damaged.  Agera approached a far wall, where the highest dragon skull in the room rested, and a blood red helm upon his brow.  The skull was made out of a glistening onyx jewel, with diamonds for eyes.

“Who did this set belong to?” Agera asked over her shoulder.

“A great warrior, and good friend of mine.  Nyxia was her name, a cunning deadly blade in the dark.  She worked as an assassin.” Fiam said, smiling and striding forwards, “She was my Lifemate.”

“I’m sorry.” Fiam nodded at her.

“I have long since gotten over the sorrow young warrior.” He picked up the helmet, “It won’t be forever before I see her again.  I’d rather not part with this one, if you can help it.  Why would you pick it?”

“It’s my type.  Perfect mix of mobility, armor, and weight.  And it’s my color.” Agera said switching to a deep shimmering black, “Was she any good at her job?”

“The best.  She has 256 kills to her name.”

“That’s it?” Venus asked from across the room, helping her Lifemate into a breastplate.

“Ninety percent of those kills were to high ranking enemy leaders.  Thanks to her, we weren’t hunted to extinction by humans.” Fiam said, “An assassin’s job isn’t to get the most kills, but to get the most valuable kills.”

“What made you mate with her?”

Fiam closed his eyes and sighed, “Despite her job, she had a soft heart.  She could adapt to so many situations.  And she loved with a passion few could match.”

He paused, staring into a distance only he could see.  Suddenly he jumped, as if shocked, and looked around at them all.

“Forgive me.  Tending the forges for so many years addles the brains.”

“Well then it’s best we get Janus out of here quickish then.” She said, watching the baffled male, who was trying to strap a hip plate to his head.  He finally noticed they were all watching him.

“What?  None of these things fit.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

“Krigsman, step forwards!” Fiam had helped them drag their armor out of the alcoves, into the main forge.  There was a spot set aside, with much smaller, weaker fires.  In these, Fiam had placed all five armor sets, and they glowed softly with heat.  The air shimmered above, and Agera sweated profusely, but refused her discomfort the satisfaction of acknowledging it.  Their skim glowed in the dim surroundings, but the armor shone like stars.

“The craft of perfect fitting armor is an art.  Normally we use plaster casts of the body the armor will be matched to, but we do not have time for that.  We do this the old fashioned way.  In olden days, the armor was simply bent over the dragon as it still glowed.  There will be pain and suffering, but the results will be well worth it.”

“Won’t the metal brand us?” Venus asked, eyeing the coals the armor rested upon warily.

“You’re scales will protect you from the majority of the heat, but it will still feel as if you are being burned.  You must stand completely still while I mold the plate over you.” Fiam said, picking up Agera’s helmet with his bare claws.  He didn’t even seem to notice the heat as glowing coals rubbed against his scales.

Agera braced herself as the plate was lower onto her skull.  She could smell burning, and her sweating increased drastically.  Her scales sparked and burned as the plate was set in position, and they started glowing red hot.  It felt as if she was burning, but she ground her teeth together.  She found if she bit her tongue, and focused on that pain, she could take her mind off the burning sensation.

Fiam used no tools, only sheer strength and his tail spade like a hammer.  The blows sent Agera’s horns ringing.  When he had finished with the helm, he used the old abrasive skin on his wing to polish the metal, and to smooth it out.  After the helmet was done, he placed the breast plate using metal bands.  It was three inch thick armor that could deflect standard rifle rounds, grenades, RPG’s, and even some anti-armor weapons.  The plate was heavy as all get out, and it burned her chest as if it was a branding iron, but again, she ground her teeth together and took the damage done.

The two main plates were followed by bracers for all four legs, a hip plate, and finally a weighted blade for the tail spade.

Her armor wasn’t the lightest, but it still wasn’t a heavy weight set.  Even still, she had been standing in the same spot for four hours.  But when Fiam was finished, he produced a mirror, for Agera to admire herself in.  From the front, her armor covered almost everything.  The only thing that wasn’t covered was her lower jaw, which was left free to move.  The leading edges of her wings were protected by her scales.  If she kept low, and angled her front towards the enemies, most basic rounds would do nothing more than bounce right off of her.  Its blood red coloring matched her black scales well.  The color wouldn’t make her stand out in battle, but it also fit her very well.  It seemed to shine in the gloom with glee at being back in service.  It was much like herself, made for one purpose, giving them a terrible beauty and power.

Venus’s armor was much lighter.  Her breast plate had only one inch of armor, and included only a helmet, breastplate, and two bracers for just the front legs.  The armor was a gold in color, and just like her, was gorgeous in its smooth beautiful lines.  It looked as if she had just grown the armor from her body.

Vienzo had a true heavyweight set, which included a full helmet, a five inch thick breastplate, bracers and greaves for all four legs, a hip plate, neck plates, tail plates, wing platelets, and an enhanced tail spade.  It was a deep rich black, which went surprisingly well with his green and brown scales.  The armor, according to Fiam, weighed something in the region of four hundred pounds, but could even stop anti-tank rounds.  Agera was amazed how he could use the armors color to still sink into the shadows if he wanted, and was impressed how quiet he still was despite all the weight.

Janus had to have a partial set because of the armor plates he grew naturally from his body.  He took only a belly plate and a neck plate, in steel grey, to match the rest of his armor.

Jiza’s armor was exotic and strange.  It was made of a shimmering white pearl of a metal that seemed to reflect all the light around it.  Hers was similar to Agera’s, as it was a perfect mix of speed and protection.  When the plates were finally hammered in place, it looked as if a thousand knives poked out of her various icy crevices.  She looked lethal to even be around, much less to touch.  Streamlined and sleek, and looking as if there was no armor at all, her armor easily took the longest of the five.

When they had all finished, the looked at each other, eyeing the vulnerability and weaknesses the others possessed.

“Krigsman.” Agera turned to look at Fiam, “There is one more thing we need to address, and this will leave a permanent mark.”

He grabbed an iron rod, with a twisted shape on the end of it, glowing red hot, from the hottest fire he had, “As part of your leadership, it is tradition for you to be marked.  Humans use an insubstantial mark upon the clothing they wear.  It means nothing to them.  To us, it is a point of honor.  To us, you have to show you are willing to take pain and suffering before everything else.  The fact that you have been through so much to get here means you deserve this; that you’ve earned it.  But just because you’ve earned it doesn’t mean that you’re ready to lead.  Are you ready for this?  Do not accept lightly, for it will pain you for as long as you live.  But it will prove that not only have you earned this branding, but that you will earn it again.  That you are willing to suffer a great pain to ensure the safety of your brothers and sisters, the safety of your unit, and the safety of your race.  The humans might have their own ways of doing things, but this is ours.”

Agera eyed it warily, but held her head up with pride, “I am willing to receive the Mark of Duty.”

The emblem was two upturned feathered wings, with a draconic skull in the center.  There were two rods, so Venus grabbed one, and Fiam the other, standing at either side, while Janus and Vienzo held her paws, and Jiza and Guin held her wings.  Venus nodded at Fiam, and the both drove their brands in at the same time.

Agera was never afraid of admitting that she cried and screamed at that point.  The metal was titanium, and glowed at something around two thousand degrees.  The brands cut straight through her scales as if they were butter, and instantly cauterized the wound they made in the thick under layer of skin.  Smoke and fire rose from the wounds, but never once did Agera cry for mercy or for them to stop.  She was proud of that.

Blood ran freely afterwards, but Fiam assured her that scales would grow over the wound, but they would never return to normal colors, always remaining a charcoal black.  She quickly switched her tattoo back to white to show off the armor and the new scar adorning her shoulder.  Standing proudly in front of her squad, show saluted with her wing.

“Fall in, Omega!” The change was instant, and they dropped into line, wings saluting, heads held high.  The armor had changed them, since none of them, apart from Guin, had worn it.  Some of them had been to training, and some had just fallen into this spot.  But now they stood shoulder to shoulder, wing to wing, as soldiers, brothers and sisters.  Few can claim to have a stronger bond than they.

In a sudden burst of inspiration, she recited the famous line from their Universal Training, the Draken’s Creed.

“We are the vanguard, the frontline, the first to step onto the battlefield, and the last to step off!”

Janus spoke up next, puffing his chest out, “We are the elite, our claws the sword of Justice, our wings the sails of Courage.”

Venus intoned after him, glancing over to her mate while she said it, “Surrender is never an option, only Peace.  We are the enforcers, the will of Freedom.”

Vienzo chorused after his mate, his voice resonating through the room, “We do not back down, falter, or fail.  We are the stalwart wall, an unstoppable force of Liberty.”

Guin glanced at Agera, “We know no fear, nor failure.  We are the instrument of liberty!”

Jiza was grinning from horn to horn, “And as this is true, we know no evil, no pain, no death.  We are the right arm of God.”

“Let our enemies tremble, for we are Dragons, and so we roar!”

And roar they did.
Between Two Worlds, Ch 4: Mark of Duty
This one has some flaws that I'm unwilling to correct, since it was from the older version of the Champion.  The Draken Creed I got from the armed forces, where each branch, even the coast guard and rangers has a creed.

It's mainly just words, but they stuck with me.

Now is the time the story starts moving forwards.
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(Contains: strong language)
Venus shook violently, "I hate portal travel.  That awful feeling of nothingness.  It feels like I'm going to start falling and won't ever stop." she said quietly to Agera.  Privately the dragoness agreed, but she wouldn't say that right now.

"Whoa, sci-fi!" Janus said as he walked through the portal, "This place could be in a star trek film."

He wasn't wrong.  The spot they were in further fed Agera's sense of vertigo from the gateway.  Their end of the overlarge room had the portal generator, miniaturized for personal use, and from what Agera could tell, remotely controlled.  Beneath and above them was a shiny black metal floor.  They were rotating at a high rate of speed from what she could tell, and this was likely to generate artificial gravity, as at the far end of the room the walls were replaced with massive windows.  Clear liquid crystal displays surrounded the area behind the desk.  Along the walls closer to them were the archive libraries of high tech; storage hard drives that could have easily held Old Earths Internet.

A lone human looked out over Earths battle-scared landscape, shoulders hunch as if he carried a great weight.  He was shorter than most men, but when he turned, his cold steel grey eyes bored into Agera.  He exuded a calm, confident, invincible air.  He felt like someone Agera could never beat, no matter how hard she tried.

Two light dragons stood quietly on either side of the room, flanking the portal generator.

"Krigsman.  Mr. and Mrs. Avani.  Janus.  Thank you for bringing them here Guinevere." he said in a quiet, calm voice.

"Do you wish for me to leave, sir?" she said, saluting.

"No stay, I have new orders for you." she nodded and then retreated to the far side of the room, out of earshot.

Agera turned to her friends, "Group, atten-HUT!" and the other three, out of natural habit more than anything, fell into line, standing tall and still.  They all thought the same thing, "You never truly leave the military."

"Group, present-ARMS." three wings flew up simultaneously, blurs of color.  Agera turned around, stood at attention, and threw up her wing as well for a fraction of a second, "Sir, trainees Krigsman, Avani, Avani, and Janus, reports as ordered, sir!"

"At ease group." the four relaxed, standing more loosely, "Thank you for coming on such short notice.  I'm sure you're all wondering why you're here."

"The thought had crossed our minds, Grand Marshall Panzer." Vienzo said quietly.

"Mm.  I apologize that this had to happen now, after the battle of Cayman.  How do I phrase this I wonder?”

"You want us to rejoin the military." Agera said quietly.  The Grand Marshall nodded silently, shutting his mouth abruptly.

"That is precisely why you are here."

"What?" Venus said loudly, "You can't be serious."

"Dear." Vienzo said low and quiet, "Don't."

She also shut her mouth abruptly, but then spoke suddenly again, "Agera, a word."

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

"You can't be considering this."

"I am.  Very seriously thinking' about takin' his offer too.  I don't see why you don't want to.  Unless you're scared of the fight." Agera said quietly back.  Venus snarled at her.

"You know I'm not.  But that's the thing, sister.  I ENJOYED that battle.  And I can't help but feel that it's just wrong.  It goes against my nature."

"That IS OUR NATURE." Agera said suddenly turning on her friend and grabbing her horn, "Listen closely, partner of my heart.  We are dragons!  We are built for war!  We have armor that deflects bullets.  We rule the sky, and so we rule the battlefield!  We have extremely intelligent minds, capable of reacting in times not recordable by science.  We are forces of nature, demigods by our own power!  War was invented as a hobby for us, and I'm starting to think that you lot need that drilled into your heads again, since it seems to have leaked out your horns since Uni."

Venus roared, and twisted her head till Agera's wrist let out a crack, and the female jumped back with a yelp, clutching it.

"No you are made for war, Agera.  I was trained as a diplomat." she said grabbing the wrist and pulling her friend, hissing with pain close, "I was trained to find a peaceful solution.  That's the role of any leader, military or otherwise.  Fuck you, that's the goal of a warrior.  And your problem is you're too aggressive to see that."

"And you're too complacent to see that diplomacy has already failed us.  There ISN'T a peaceful solution to this war." Venus let her go.

"There is always a peaceful solution."

"Bullshit, and you know it." Venus backed off, not meeting her friend’s eyes, "If there was always a peaceful solution, then you and I wouldn't be here, and we wouldn't have to survive at the edges of a crumbling society struggling against rampant racism from humans.  If there was always a peaceful solution, then I wouldn't be such a bitch, Kiesah would have her own daughter, and you would have had a much different lifestyle, you spoiled brat."

Agera spat the last words.  Venus now had her head hung in shame, Vienzo was wide eyed, and Janus had his mouth hanging slightly open.  The Grand Marshall watched warily from across the room.

"Damnit, Venus, I love you, but I've got to do this.  I just got to, and you know why.  You three are free to make your own choices.  But I've already made mine, and no amount of injury, pain, or separation from loved ones is going to change that."

And with that she spun around and limped back to the Grand Marshall.  Saluting again, she addressed him, "Sir!  Sorry you had to witness that, sir.  I would be honored to rejoin the armed forces."

"As would I, sir." amazingly it was Janus who had joined her.  Sudden new found respect for the o resized storm dragon welled up inside her, and she smiled at him.  He raised an eyebrow at her, but also smiled.

"Ancient, you two will never make it by yourselves.  Against my better judgment and morals, I also will rejoin, sir." Venus said, standing tall next to her best friend.

"V, you don't ha -"

"I do, and you know it.  We end this war, and then we never step on a battlefield when we win.  Got it?" Agera smiled at her, "Just.  Shut up."

"I'd never leave my friends, sir.  But I wasn't going to leave my Lifemate either.  Fortunately, I don't have to do either." Vienzo said, stepping up on the other side of Venus, and rubbing her on the side of the neck.

"Good."

"Not that I'm not happy about this, sir.  But how on earth are we able, with our disabilities, to help the UEAF?"

The Grand Marshall watched them in turn, and then finally answered, "Earth is losing.  Badly.  We finally find ourselves against a foe that’s far superior in numbers.  And though we have killed many, they simply just keep coming.  The high council is looking for any advantage it can get.  I told them of the ejected dragons.  To them each dragon is worth fifteen humans, even a disabled one.  So the answer is simple.  We need all the help we can get."

"Very good, sir.  Your orders?"

"Agera there is an open position in Theta squadron as Theta 5.  Janus you will proceed to the position of Delta 3.  Venus you wi - "

"With all due respect, sir." Agera cut him off abruptly, and he stopped with his mouth still open, like he couldn't believe what just happened, "But we are not just going to split up.  I don't trust anyone to watch my back but Venus.  And good luck controlling Janus when he doesn't have his friends around him.  And Vienzo I believe would rather kill himself than be separated from his Lifemate."

The Grand Marshall looked incredibly annoyed now, "That's not how this works, Krigsman.  This is ho - "

"I don't care, sir.  This is how we work.  May I suggest we make a new squadron then?"

The Grand Marshall opened and closed his mouth several times before he exploded at her, "You are in the military now, Krigsman.  That means you follow orders!  Do you want to be court marshaled?"

"You're not going to court martial any of us.  We wouldn't be here unless you needed us, and we had attracted your attention.  The very fact it's you and not a recruiter means something.  You need us, but if we're going to do this, then we do it my way, not the military way.  We're obviously good enough."

"You are HERE Ms. Krigsman, because Mrs. Avani and your lineage required it.  Had that not been the happy case, then you would have been conscripted, like the others of your kind."

Agera growled, "Others like us are being forced to fight?  So we must live in a dictatorship if you're using invalids as cannon fodder.  I have half a mind to walk out at that."

"But you won't, will you?  Because we might not win without you." the Grand Marshall said quietly.

"You think you know us that well?  My job to my friends, since I've pulled them into this, is to get them out again.  If I can't be allowed to do that, then I withdraw from this contract." and she turned and walked back towards the portal, "We can always fight the war without you, Grand Marshall."

She was about to walk through the pulsing disk of energy when the Grand Marshall shouted back to her, "You would turn your back on your race?!"

"I'll do anything for my friends.  They are my family.  I love them more than my own life.  And I'd die before I trusted their wellbeing to someone I've never met."

She took one more step, but the Grand Marshall shouted again, "Wait!"

The Grand Marshall looked venomously at Agera, "You'll get your goddamned squadron."

"Guin, what squadron designations are there?"

"The only one available is Omega, for obvious reasons."

"Then Omega squadron we are." and she stepped through the portal.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

"Always making friends, aren't you girl?" Guinevere teased her friend as they walked back through the Golgotha compound.

"Shaddup." Agera growled back at her.  Janus chuckled but she ignored him.  Vienzo growled at the rest.

"Not sure how I feel about being part of an 'Omega Squadron'. Honestly, Agera, we're already on the bottom rung of draken society.  Do we really want to drag ourselves lower?"

"Omega squad fits us.  Besides, we are what we want to be.  You're living proof of that.  Guin, we have a lot to do and little time to do it in.  How long do we have before we're deployed?"

"Three days, including today."

"Fine, so who's going to be squadron lead?" they all stared at her, "What?"

Venus sneered, "Oh come on Agera, after that scene?  You have the most combat experience, and you're the best warrior among us."

"That last part is a matter of debate." Guin said quietly.  Agera clipped her shoulder with a wing.

"Whatever.  The point is you were always going to lead us into battle.  You just naturally take charge anyways."

"Ok.  Then we need two things.  We need an intel officer."

"Check." Guin said smiling, "The GM's orders before I left was to reassign me to you.  I'll run intel for you guys, since that's what I'm good at anyways."

"Ok, I guess the only other thing we need then is a medic."

"Oddly enough, the GM also said he'd take care of that as well.  That's a full squadron right there."

"Right, that's personnel taken care of.  We need outfitting and supplies, which should be taken care of after we get our new member.  And finally we need a mission and a briefing."

"The GM already gave us orders.  We're classified as a spec-ops unit, designation squadron 732, 3rd battalion, first draken air wing.  We're to report directly to him."

"Good to know we're going to have such a close personal relationship."

"Hush, Janus.  After that debacle, I don't like him anymore than you do.  But we still have to respect him.  Just don't sacrifice your values in doing so.  Does he have orders for us Guin?"

"He does.  SAR operations.  It seems his interests align with ours.  We are to carry out rescue ops in the vicinity of northern Europe, hunting down any of the survivors from Berlin.  The battle has been reclassified as a sacking now."

"Bad.  I need to know more about the Voidwings before we head in there, because the place is going to be crawling with them."

"Well as your Intel officer, I can help with that.  Come with me." the group followed her into a small side tent, one well-worn and patched from use, but it looked sturdy enough, and despite the rain, it was warm and dry on the inside.  A large plush cushion lay in one corner, whilst the other had a neat stack of armor, and a small data pad.  Guin grabbed it first and then stood in front of them all.  The screen was larger than Agera was used to.

"Standard issue to draken units.  Bigger, chunkier, easier for us to use.  These are the Voidwings." she held up the screen, and there were five fuzzy images, each of the grey enemies they faced last night, but these were different.

"There's a two legged in those images." Venus said quietly, "And what in the universe is THAT." she point to a massive six winged thing.

"These are the best images I have been able to obtain of the five known variants in the Voidwing armies.  You've already met Joe Average." Guin pointed to the center of the image.  The draconic creature had four legs, two wings, and a single tail, "We call them 'Assaults'.  They are by far the most common types in the Void army.  They are faster and more maneuverable, but lighter than a normal dragon.  And they are very, VERY deadly."

"These," and she pointed to a smaller draken type in the upper right corner, one with four wings, two smaller than the other, and twin tails, plus no forward legs, "are what has been dubbed 'Scouts' which as you may have guessed are faster and lighter than their assault cousins.  A skilled flier can run circles, quite literally around a normal dragon, and their level flight speed approaches the sound barrier."

"Now this monster, Venus," and she now pointed to an image of a monstrously big grey dragon now, one with six massive wings, twin tails as large as tree trunks, and four legs, "Is a 'Heavy' and they can weigh up to one ton on a good day.  But don't be fooled, they are still incredibly agile for their size and weight.  They normally take several dragons to take down.  And watch the claws; they've been known to cut a dragon clean in half."

"The last two are more familiar to us." she pointed at one image which was of an upright standing creature with two legs, two arms, and no wings.  The other image was vaguely draconic, but it was difficult to see through all the shadow power bristling around it, "These are 'Spies' and 'Ghosts' the spies were really just a misnomer that stuck.  They form both the medical and espionage core if the Voids.  The Ghosts are the leadership of the group.  Krigsman has fought them before.  They are not to be underestimated, as their powers equal that of a shadow dragon, while combining the speed and agility of a normal assault.  They are also given advanced combat training."

"Now we believe all of these creatures, apart from the spies, relate to us in some way.  But we KNOW that they relate to each other.  The Void all share common traits, including the spies.  The first is that they avoid us like the plague.  They take great care for their blows to strike accurately, and strike hard, to the point where they will sacrifice themselves setting up a blow."

"Why?" Janus asked from the back, peering over everyone’s heads.

"No one knows.  That's the second thing about them.  They've taken great pains to never get captured.  Cold war tactics, each member of their military comes with a capsule of cyanide behind their molar.  They can commit suicide without the use of any of their limbs."

"That's what I call dedication." Vienzo said quietly.

"There's more.  As one last hammer blow to our effectiveness, Voidwings neutralize all elemental powers within a certain radius.  Now this power can be FELT if you are attuned to feeling it.  This limits our use to elements which have some combat effectiveness outside of their neutralizing ranges." Guin finished.

"What are the ranges they can neutralize powers at?" Venus asked.  Agera noticed that her squad had gone very, very pale.

"It varies.  Some can get their individual powers out to a range of five hundred feet.  They seem to have a natural control over it, much like we have control over our elements.  However, we do know that the ranges they can reach are exponentially higher when they're in groups."

"That explains my lack of power." Venus said quietly.

"No rock armor?" Vienzo asked nervously.

"Nothing means nothing stone head.  It's as if you never had armor.  Now Intel states that this is a power they control, so they likely don't use it outside of combat, to prevent enemies from knowing where they are.  So if you can get the drop on them, they likely won't be able to block the effects."

"Man this just got a whole lot harder." Janus said.

"You guys will get used to it." Agera chuckled quietly at their nervousness.  This might even give her a slight advantage against the Void.

"Agera, we have a visitor." Venus said quietly.  The leader turned around to find quite possibly the youngest dragonelle on the island in front of her.

"Sir, Private Jiza Ra, reports as ordered, sir!" the female said, not meeting Agera's gaze.  The female had brilliant white scales, and was covered in slicked back spikes.  Despite her age, her wings had grown in brilliantly, both wide and deep, she was already well into her first flight years.  She had a small pouch slung around a wing, with a medical cross emblazoned on it.

"Reports for what?" Agera asked, startled at first.  Surely this couldn't be...

"Sir, Omega squadrons new medic, sir!" she said, saluting quickly, "Uh, I-I -"

"Don't test my patience youngling; I am NOT to be trifled with.  Where's the real medic."

"I a-am the real medic, sir!" Jiza had issues getting the words out.  She wouldn't meet any of their gazes, and her cheeks were flushed a dark red.

"I think she's telling the truth, Agera.  She is from Kiesah's retinue." Venus said suddenly laughing, "Sister, you have got to stop making enemies."

"Is the GM TRYING to get us killed?  Sending us a hatchling still scrubbing egg shells off her back.  I'll have words with him!" Agera said, heading towards the entrance flap.  Venus headed her off before she could leave the tent.

"You will NOT go and shout at him about this.  Our situation is already bad as it is, don't make it worse." Venus hissed quietly, "Now give the youngling a chance."

Agera thought it over for a second, and then turned to Jiza, "A medic?"

"Yes, sir!"

"Enough with the 'sir'.  My name is Agera, not sir.  Understand?" Agera growled, "its bad enough that I gotta suffer through Janus and his antics, much less put up with all that 'Sir' and crap."

"Agera we were all new at some point." Venus said quietly.  Agera threw her a look that said 'Shut up'.

"Let's see you work the basics of your trade then.  My friend here had a bit of a...  competition."

"Is that what we're calling it now?" Venus said beneath her breath.  Agera clipped her over the head with a wing.

Jiza approached her cautiously, and then carefully held her sprained wrist.

"I can operate normally with it, but I'd rather not accidentally break it." Jiza cut her off by casting her ice powers over half the wrist, and while she was still casting, drew a plastic strip out, and cast it under the ice.  The casing was molded so perfectly over her bones that when she set her paw back down, it felt like it was part of her own body.

"The cast will draw its power from you until the bone is healed.  Try not to put too much weight on it, and if it starts aching again, then come and talk to Me." she said such in a quiet rush.  Venus was smiling.

"Impressive." Agera eyed the youngling intensely.  She suddenly seemed to have a massive interest in Guin's armor.

"How much combat experience do you have?"

That was what got her to look at Agera.  Despite her shyness, Jiza's eyes betrayed her real thoughts.  She wasn't shy, she was distressed.  Her eyes showed that she had indeed seen more than her fair share of the war.  She had seen too much.  Her eyes were mournful, chaotic.  They had a startling innocent beauty to them.

"I'm a doctor, Agera.  Not a soldier.  I'm not here to fight your battles for you." Agera's head arched back in surprise, as if she were trying to get a better view of the conundrum in front of her.

"You will still have to fight.  Can you kill another being?" Jiza dropped her gaze in shame.

"I've done it before ma'am.  I was at Moscow."

"Son of a bitch." Agera said, trading a startled glance with Venus, "GM didn't send us any green recruit did he?  I'm convinced Jiza.  You're flying with us.  Janus, I want you to get her up to speed, and watch her.  You'll be answering to him now, Jiza.  Venus, you need to go with your mate and talk to Kiesah, tell her we'll be joining her when she returns to Earth.  Guin, we need supplies, talk to the quartermaster.  I need to go to the mainland and take care of some things.  You all have until 2100 to take care of everything and get back to the armory, understood?"

No one raised any questions, so Agera stood, went to the entrance flap and raised it, holding it open, "Then you are dismissed, Omega."

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

“Is she always like that?” Jiza asked as her new commander took off, bound for the mainland, “I’m not sure I like her or dislike her.”

Janus chuckled, “I know what you mean.  She’s always ragging on me too.  Try not to let it get to you.  Agera says much, but she means very little.  Don’t become her enemy, and she’ll be your friend for a lifetime.  Two, if you don’t annoy her."

Jiza smirked, "You speak from experience?"

"Too much of it.  But I've always been a smart aleck.  At least that's what mother told me.  Apparently, I took after father.  I'm the youngest of five, the rest being sisters."

"Ouch." being so young, Jiza knew what it was like to look up to everyone you met.

"Yeah, tell me about it.  So I had to pretty much fight for everything.  I found early on that if I went on the offensive, I could lure them into tons of traps.  The best part was if the traps backfired, I could always pretend it was my sisters' fault, and mother would believe me.  And then -" he paused in mid-sentence and looked shocked at himself.

"What?  Is it on my nose?" Jiza crossed her eyes trying to hunt down the non-existent piece of debris on her face.  Her tongue kept snaking out trying to catch whatever it was that Janus was staring at.

Janus couldn't help himself.  He took one look at her expression and busted out laughing.

"What?!?  What is SO FUNNY?!" he kept laughing and finally Jiza got fed up, and just slugged him.  He still laughed on the ground, wheezing and trying to catch his breath.

"Y-you looked s-soooo funny!  No it's not you, it's me. I've never told anyone about my family before." he frowned at her, his sudden shift in his demeanor unsettling Jiza, "They died a while ago."

"I'm sorry." he looked kind of crestfallen, and Jiza wanted to cheer him up so badly, "My parents are dead as well.  I often find the best way to cope is to talk about them."

Janus took a big breath.  It did feel good to talk to someone who didn't tell him to shut up constantly, "It's terrifying, but I don't remember much, about any of them."

"There must be something."

He thought for a moment, then got a smile, a cocky grin on his face, "Well, there was one time.  We were all sitting around in a circle eating evening meal.  As much as I and my sisters loved teasing each other, we loved teasing mother even more.  She always had some new male after father died, but it didn't bug any of us.  She never stayed with any of them, no matter how good the companionship was.  We knew she just got lonely.  Nothing ever got physical either; she would always break it off before that.  Anyways, Iskara was teasing mother about her newest man.  Finally, she got fed up and started telling my sister off.  Finally, after she stopped, we all knew what was coming; she had pulled the expression a thousand times before.  A big old sigh, followed by drooping wings and rolling eyes.  We often imitated it to annoy her.  But that particular evening, the memo for whose turn to imitate it must have gotten lost, and all four of my sisters dittoed her actions at just the right time.  Five synchronized sighs, five sets of drooping wings, and five pairs of eyes rolled, all exactly at the same time.  And I just LOST it, I laughed so hard.  Really we were all holding cramping stomachs from laughing so hard.  Dinner was pretty much over by then."

He was smiling now as they walked out onto the islands beaches.  He kept running off at the mouth, but Jiza was content to just sit and listen.  Janus reminded her of her older brother, whom was also fighting in this accursed war.

"So what about you?"

"Hmm?" she realized belatedly that he was asking her about her past, "Oh!  Uh, nothing much really happened in my family.  Quiet parents, quiet life.  They died in the fighting at Moscow."

"Geez, I'm sorry Jiza."

"It's fine.  It's still hard to think about them, but I'm alright." her face told him she was very much not alright, "Ancient, I'm so emotional.  I tell you what Janus; I didn't expect to be fighting in an elite unit.  Between you and me, I never even really joined the military.  I survived Moscow only just, and sort of fell in line with a group of wounded dragons that was under Kiesah's care.  After that, everything just sort of came naturally.  I'm good at medicine.  Really good.  But I wasn't good enough for my parents.  If I knew then what I know now, then I could have saved them. But I was to slow, to ignorant. I -" she stopped, breathing hard, holding back tears, "I see them every fucking night.  My dad’s head caved in, my mother’s entrails spilling out, blood and brains mixed on my claws."

She wailed and clutched her head between her paws, squeezing hard as if to get the memory out of her skull, "I just want to forget so fucking much!"

Janus didn't have words but he knew what would help.  Ancient knew he needed it so much.  He just drew her in with a wing, stroking her spines back against her neck.  He felt suddenly fiercely protective, thinking of his sisters.

"Don't worry, I'm here for you." her tears ran down his chest and into the surf below, the waves drowning out her anguished sobs.
Between Two Worlds, Ch 3: Omega Squadron
Tada!  Birth of Omega squadron.  New faces, new enemies.

I'm working on getting images of both Venus and Jiza Ra, who I'm enjoying writing about.

Also, there are more references here, lets see if anybody spots these.
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I stand up tall
After every fall,
Get back on my feet
Whenever I’m beat.

I dare anyone to try
To make me kneel and cry.
Nothing can hold me down,
In the end I’ll bear the crown.

Punch me or kick,
Play a dirty trick,
Curse me, cross the line,
Try ‘em all, I’ll end up fine!

You can’t make me give in,
My strength radiates within;
Unshakable and firm,
With fortitude it burns. 

From threats of any size,
Before however many eyes,
With fists, speech, or pen,
I won’t crack, I cannot be broken.

-artsyambassadorart, 2015

Enjoying all this new writing.  It's just like the old days!  Next thing you know I'll be posting pictures from EVE again...

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