This notice is to inform you of your ejection from the United Earth Armed Forces, fourth draken wing. Section thirty-two, paragraph fourteen states that, under no circumstances should a dragon, wyvern, hydra, or any variants thereof will be allowed entrance into UEAF organizations, facilities or to operate any equipment belonging to the UEAF if sufficient evidence is found to render the individual as an invalid. Due to your lack of an offensive element, we have decided that you fall under these guidelines, and as such, Lord Marshall Lowe has decided to eject you from Universal training. Your pay has been forwarded to your account, and your personal effects delivered to your place of residence.
Grand Surgeon Barnes
The letter lay on the floor next to the mattress, beneath a heavy paw. A dim figure of a dragon could just be made out in the darkness that lay over the veiled room, female by the looks of its curving body. Its scales were a myriad of shifting colors, moving from hue to hue as she dreamed. A group of disheveled fins lay across her head, too flimsy to be anything more than decoration. They continued down her back and tail tapering into a large sharper point at the very tip. The wings were large, easily twice as wide as she was long, if spread to their full extent. Caught in her lazy slumber, Agera Krigsman simply continued to ignore the world around her, even when the door opened and another dragon entered, she only snorted and rolled over.
The newcomer snorted in disgust, and then summoned an arc of electricity between her claws.
"One and only warning sister, get up!" the slumbering gave off a massive snore, and flipped over again, mumbling incoherently.
There was a crack, as the lightning jumped to the sleeping figure. Agera awoke with a jump, snarling at the pain lancing through her shoulder.
"Dammit, Venus! You know there are nicer, less painful ways to wake me!" Agera shouted at her.
"Well based on the noise you were making I'd say I was lucky to get your ass out of bed. Come on sunshine, you've been rotting over that letter long enough. Come outside, get some light." her counterpart shouted back.
"Yeah, cause that always fixes everything." Agera grumbled. Her friend grabbed the message, and navigating the tricky landscape of the apartment turned garbage dump, deposited it in the overflowing trash can. Agera watched her while she carefully got to her feet to keep from jarring her aching head again.
Unlike Agera, who was built for fighting, Venus had a body most females would quite literally kill for. Her narrow, pointed head widened out into a sleek neck, framed by thin spines that waved at the slightest motion. Her full chest ran down into wide hips and ended in an extremely strong and graceful tail. As always no matter what time of the day cycle it was or how many drinks she had had the night before, every scale of her deep purple body was perfection. And it wasn't just her body. She moved with the grace of a goddess, always sensually swinging her hips from side to side. Agera had long ago stopped trying to match her friend. She was always successful in everything she did, always seeming to be perfect.
Agera knew better than that though. Her spark might be bright, but she struggled with males, who always wanted to get... physical. It grated and grinded her down till she was tempted to disfigure herself just to stop all their mating advances. Vienzo, her life mate, was the exception. He had never seen his mate, and so was more attracted to her bubbly personality than her body.
It was just as well since two months after she had met Vienzo, she lost her right wing to a botched landing. She flew now with a mechanical limb, which despite the scar never diminished her beauty.
"You need to clean girl. This place is really getting unhealthy for you." Venus said as she walked back to the dragon-sized door and opened it wide, admitting the salty wind inside. The smell invigorated Agera, and opened her senses. She sniffed harder.
"Cooking cod? What time is it?"
"Good morning dragondames and gentledrakens. The temperature in Cayman, as always, is a balmy seventy-five with a southwestern wind. With all this endless regulated weather it would be the perfect day to, I don’t know, stay inside, sleep some more? Never! Come on sister, there's adventure out there!" and Venus grabbed her by the wing and dragged her hissing into the brightness and noise.
It was a typical day in Cayman. The town was nestled into a cove along one of the many shorelines on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, which thanks to the dragons and their elemental powers, had recently been terraformed. Course necessity was the mother of invention. Such feats had never been attempted before. But now Earth had two colonies among the stars. The Draken race had pooled their power and resources, each using his or her natural element of power to bind the worlds into habitable pseudo-planets, smaller than earth, but with much denser atmospheres to trap heat. Ganymede, which orbited Jupiter, was turned into a hot and arid desert planet, with only subterranean water, used mostly for mining resources. Titan on the other hand, was beautiful, full of life and lush vegetation. It was tropical all throughout its surface, with dense underwater springs too cool its over-thick atmosphere.
Right now Titan was orbiting around the dark side of Saturn, but the rings of the nearby gas planet reflected so much light that it was still luminous enough for even the humans. Because of its reputation for being a luxury paradise, the planet thrived on quiet tourism. Most humans hadn’t wanted to travel here, but now, with the war going so badly, they were forced to move to one of the outposts.
And then there was the evidence, even on this paradise, of the war itself. The military loved Titan because of its deep crystal clear oceans, meaning that insanely expensive orbital construction yards weren’t needed. It meant that construction of warships wasn’t complicated, and could be completed quickly. The shipyards were shaped simply to cradle the massive vessels as they were made, and then they were propelled into space via solid rockets where they would stay. Most of Agera’s hometown, Cayman, was taken up by these ship yards, especially the ones for the two newest super capital ships, the America and Russia. Massive battleships with thirty inch main guns and five meter thick armor plating, they were the pride and joy of the stellar navy.
Despite all the firepower and industrial might of the UEAF, it still wasn’t enough to stop them from losing the war. People were starting to get desperate. Everyone was over cramped on the planetoids, and everyone was always aggravated and hungry. Diseases once thought dead were now running rampant through the population. Housing and paying for such out in a wilderness such as a new colony was not easy, and it wasn’t uncommon to find two or three families sharing the same small one or two bedroom apartment, and splitting rent.
Agera was only able to afford such simply because she was one of the few who was allowed to help build the massive ships of war sitting in the harbor now. It wasn’t going to last forever though.
Venus dragged her through the crowded loud streets next to the waters, along the boardwalk. With the street side absolutely packed with vendors, food stalls, newsstands, and everything else in between, it had been one long drawn out festival as people from all walks of life began finding ways to make a quick buck in the fast growing town. It was like a constant party, with street bands playing up and down the area, and red lanterns lighting their way, the dim light preserving their night vision. The noise and chaos in the semi-darkness thrilled Agera, and she pulled Venus closer, a slight smile on her face.
“Your right, I needed this.” She shouted over the sound. Venus yanked her closer by the horn and shouted over the noise.
“You look like crap girl!” Agera looked back over her body, twisting her neck around, and found her color-shifting tattoo which she had gotten after her first kill was all sorts of colors. Shifting her thoughts, the scales changed to a dark glittering red with black accents, something she commonly wore when out on the town. It wasn’t much, her colors, and they were never as vibrant as Venus’s dark purple, or her mother’s ice blue. At least not with the tattoo. Her friend ruffled her fins, trailing a long thin one over her eyes. Agera spotted herself in a nearby window and smiled. She liked the edgy punk look she had.
“Leave it Venus, that’s as good as it’s going to get.” She sighed, turning back to the street.
“You really need to polish your scales more often. They look unhealthy.” She said, walking alongside her friend. In contrast to Agera’s dull colors, Venus positively glowed in the dim light of the rings above.
The pair of females spotted their other half, two males, standing near a vendor shouting about his beer.
“Vienzo, Janus!” Venus yelled, and waved at them till they spotted the smaller females. The two trotted over to join them.
Vienzo was smaller for an earth dragon, but no less bulky or muscular. He rippled with sinew, and bulged with mass. His green stomach and wings were spider webbed with crack veins, and his tan skin varied in color from dark browns of oaken trees to the sands of warm beaches. His spines looked as if they were made from branches, though all were sharpened to lethal points. He and Venus crossed necks in welcome, and then he licked her nose with affection.
Janus was in contrast to all the others. He was the largest of the four, with the thickest wings. His back and sides were armored with a crusty shell, and that defended by dull spikes. His rough exterior was that of turquoise and sea green. His head was lined with corals and barnacles. Despite his abrasive exterior, his eyes shone like that of pearls.
"Well look who's finally out of her cave!" Vienzo laughed at her, "It's been a while. Did she hiss at you when you woke her?"
"Nearly bit my head off."
Janus gave his crazy grin to her, "Amazing she isn't a white dragonelle now, with all the lack of sunlight."
Agera grabbed one of Janus' many head horns and jerked his head down to her level, "Amazing I haven't gotten you to mind your manners yet! Over grown salamander."
"Owowow. Let go of me bitch!" Agera released him, shoving him off the side of the boardwalk into the cold water below. He came up coughing and shivering. Vienzo was holding his ribs laughing at him, and Venus was shaking with similar mirth.
"Keep your stupid mouth shut Janus, just shut up." he berated himself as he crawled back up onto the walkway. Despite his size he was the youngest of the four. Nobody knew his past, he always changed the subject so fast when you mentioned it to him. That was no surprise though, because Janus couldn't stay focused on any one thing for more than two seconds. His friends knew he was certifiably insane, which was why he had been rejected from the military. He was always doing stupid things to get himself in trouble, and was the first to laugh at a joke, or indeed to joke on others. His constant pranks, broad incessant smile, and ease at lightening the mood endeared him to everyone.
Vienzo came from an old line of ground dragons who lived in one of the deserts on earth. He was the eldest of twelve brothers, and so by tradition, was sent to serve in the armed forces in defense of his family. There was only one problem with that. He was born completely blind. His father though never gave up hope that he would be a great warrior. And so despite his disability he had been trained by his family and village in how to fight a blind battle. He was always cool, collected and sensible, but worried about things far more than he should, and when confronted by a hard choice, could be incredibly indecisive. As part of an agreement with their provinces leaders, he was presented to their lord and lady when he had come of age, and that was when he had met Venus, who had been raised in royalty in the capital of the province. The two became fast friends, perfect opposites, and after two years of long journeys to see her, the two announced their joining as Lifemates.
The quartet moved off to buy the first round of drinks. One such vendor next to an outdoor club claimed he specialized in draconic drinks, and so Agera volunteered to grab them all something, still burning off her money she had earned during training. The drinks, affectionately called "Blood and Guts" were specifically made for dragons, a mixture of pure vodka, watered down blood, and usually topped off with the heart of a rodent, it was disgusting to humans, but the draken race loved it.
"Cheers Agera." Venus said as she passed the massive steins around.
"You’re buying the next round." she lifted the glass into the sky for a toast, "To the blood and tears of our enemies."
All four of them had tried joining the armed forces at one point or another, and none had succeeded. The army had no use for dragons which in their mind couldn't fight. So all four had taken up civilian jobs, each finding their own way to help in the effort. Dragons were in high demand since most were off fighting in the war, and the only ones that came back were badly scarred, mentally and physically.
There was no doubt the war was taking its toll on the allies. They had been fighting them now for 25 years, ever since the portals had opened and their enemy the Voidwings had come through.
The Voidwings were like dragons. They certainly had the same body, but technologically, they were savages. They had come slowly at first in small highly organized strike teams, much like the draconic squadrons already serving in the armed forces. The small teams hit key figures, mostly from the draken race. The hardest strikes were against the golden dragons. Controllers of time and space as their element, they fought hard and vicious, and when it seemed as if victory was assured, she had appeared.
Gold in her own color and power, in high contrast to the gunmetal grey of the Voidwings she led, it was her who had truly started the invasion, she as a time dragon who had opened the portals and led an entire race against earth. Naming herself as Avila, and proclaiming that she was the dawn of a new age.
There had been no warning. The attack had come swiftly while the Guardians, leaders of the draconic races were gathered to discuss these new opponents. While they were arguing, the doors to the council chambers had been flung wide, whilst the Chronicler, the voice of the guardians had been speaking, and in stormed Avila flanked by a personal guard. She overwhelmed the assembly, killing several in the first few chaotic moments, and then the camera recording the entire event and broadcasting it worldwide had been knocked back to point uselessly at the ceiling. Several flashes had lanced across the picture, and then all was silent.
"Are you all right Agera? You've been awfully quiet over there."
Both of the golden dragons had been slain in that encounter, leaving the mysterious Avila the only time dragon alive in known existence. The advantage of having the only time dragon, along with the overwhelming numbers of Voidwings, allowed them to simply storm across earth.
No one knew very much about their foes. The Voidwings with their leader had no history, and the only people who might know anything were now dead. And now an entire generation was born without knowing anything except war.
And evidence was everywhere of the battles fought. From the scarred warships that Venus and Agera repaired, to the wounded personnel that Janus patched up, it could never be escaped. And the gateway to the frontlines was just off the coast of Cayman. The portal, created by a time dragon and sustained by human engineered machinery rested on an island called Golgotha. The battle that raged on its far side had been going for nearly a century. A strong defensive line had been placed protecting it, and the Voidwings had been throwing themselves against it to no avail.
And so, everyone waited. The soldiers waging war waited for their hell to end, the civilians waited for the end to come, and the doctors just waited for it all to be over with.
Dragons however were warriors. Not content to sit idly by while their comrades died, Agera and her friends fought in secret in the mountains, honing their skills. Secretly they yearned for the bloodlust that all dragons succumbed to in their battles, and to sink their teeth into an enemy.
But thoughts like that had no place in a haven such as Cayman, and so regrettably, Agera shook the violent thoughts from her mind and the four of them joined in the revelry that the inhabitants threw themselves into to try and wash their anxiousness worry and dread down with a liter of alcohol.
"Hey Agera, snap out of it!" there was a tug on the females horns, and she looked up at her friends who were all staring at her. Venus looked a little worried. That's when Agera realized her eyes were watery.
"Sorry. I'm alright. Was just thinking. You guys remember today is Sorrowsday?"
"Is today really Sorrowsday?! Crap, dear I'm sorry I never got you anything." Vienzo said to his mate. She waved a paw in dismissal still watching the dragonelle across from her.
"It's ok. Sorrowsday isn't a day of celebration. Agera, are you sure you're alright?"
"I'm fine! I'm alright." She turned away from them to wipe her eyes, but when she turned back they were still watching her.
"Do you guys think we're gonna make it out of this war alive?" Agera asked in an undertone.
They were silent for a while, each of them staring into their drinks while they considered her question. Vienzo was the first to break the silence.
"Normally I'd lie to you and tell you everything will be alright, but this time? I don't know anymore." he turned to his mate, "Have you heard from your parents?"
"Bits and pieces. The war goes badly. Very badly. Few know how bad it is right now. I'm only hearing half the story from Kiesah, but from what she says, they're outnumbered beyond counting. Only our technological achievements have kept us alive this long." Venus had been raised by two Guardians, masters of their powers, and two of the most respected leaders of their race. The ageing pair of dragons had fought in the Old Wars when dragons had first emerged from humanity tearing itself apart. Lord Pyrrus Jandro, and his Lifemate, Lady Kiesah Jandro, lead the areas around what had been central Europe. They were one of the few Draken leaders who lead anything more than a small tribe. Their region was nicknamed Ignus et Glacias, Italian for fire and ice, in reference to their elemental powers.
Agera glanced around her and was struck by the peaceful scene they were trapped in. Nearby couples swung around a dance floor while club music played. Several humans were playing a ball game nearby. A group of kids ran by playing tag. It all seemed so normal. And fragile.
'We shouldn't be here.' Agera thought to herself, 'We don't belong here.'
"We should be off fighting." she said aloud, more to herself than to her friends, but they understood. They all had the same thoughts, "How long before we're all fighting? How long before they come to kill us all?"
They were silent again for a while, but then Janus showed one of his rare moments of clarity. Turning to watch Golgotha he snarled violently.
"They won't get me without a fight."
"Hooah to that friend!" Vienzo cheered, and they toasted and drank deeply, Venus laughing at her mate as he tried to out drink the larger storm dragon. Their mood lightened, but throughout the rest of the night Agera couldn't help feel as if some weight pressed down on her. She shouldn't be here, she should be on the frontlines fighting it out with Avila's forces. She shouldn't be waiting for them to come to her.
By the end of the night their heads were pleasantly buzzing. Weekends were always like this for them, but still Agera's uneasiness continued to grow. She became antsy, and not being able to stand still, started pacing. The bar had long closed, so they were simply walking along the boardwalk, enjoying the view. Finally Venus got fed up with her friend’s anxiety.
"Agera you have got to stop pacing, you're making even me nervous." the dragonelle stopped, but she wasn't listening to her friend. Her head stretched towards the portal that sat in the distance offshore, swaying slightly in her drunkenness. All was quiet for a while before she spoke.
"What if we just went ourselves to fight?"
The silence that followed was profound. Nothing moved or spoke. It was as if the universe had paused mid motion at the audacity of her words.
"Well think about it. Were all anxious for some action, but according to the military we're not allowed to fight for them. So why not fight for ourselves?" she said, turning to the others.
"You're crazier than Janus!" Venus said laughing slightly, "Stow it Agera, that's just the booze talking, not you. You'd be as useless as a bunch of civilians on the battlefield."
Agera growled at her, "I'm better than that, and you know it." Venus glanced away nervously. She had to admit her friend was right.
"True. Even still."
"Even still what?"
"Agera, think about what you're saying! You are talking about flying into an active warzone with little to no backup, no squadron, and no equipment. I don't care how good you are, you're going to get yourself killed!" Venus cried.
"How do you know that?! Besides even if it were true, it beats sitting around here doing nothing but banging on steel day after day and getting fat and slow!" Agera shouted back.
Venus roared, thunder crackling around her paws, "Insolent hatchling! Your arrogance always did get you in trouble, but this time it's going to get you killed!"
"Hey can't you guys stop arguing? It's getting awkward for everyone." Janus interject, leaning on the rail of the boardwalk. Venus stomped the ground and an arc of lightning jumped to him. He barked a note of surprise and jumped back. Vienzo was edging away from his mate cautiously.
"Venus, dear, no need to get upset."
"There's plenty of reason to be upset! You are always ignoring caution and good advice, always making some stupid mistake that's getting you in trouble! Remember Luxembourg?" The lightning dragonelle shot the words at her friend as if they were her element. The air tasted of ozone.
"That was fourteen years ago! I was but a hatchling then! I had only taken my first flight!" Agera retorted, but she looked unsure.
"And not much has changed! Same old aggressive Agera, always leaping before she looked, always opening her big fat mouth to get herself in trouble before she thought about the words coming out of it. All the finesse of a sledgehammer!"
"Venus." Vienzo said, cautionary in tone.
"You bitch! How dare you state such things? And what of yourself? Around that time you were jumping between three males, always talking about lifemates and eggs and hatchlings, wondering who your first was!"
Venus looked like she might bite her friend, "And I've grown out of that now haven't I? Not you though, oh no Agera Krigsman is always right, she can do nothing wrong, certainly not in a fight, but when it comes to society your as inexperienced as a still wet drake,"
"I'm not done yet! You never did listen to experience! You always took your own council, did things your own way. When it came to males, you were always too aggressive. When it came to jobs, you always thought it was the military's fault for turning you away. And now when you’re about to make the biggest mistake of all, you STILL WON'T LISTEN TO ADVICE!"
"Not now you blockhead!"
"So what are you going to do about it glowstick!? Just try and stop me!"
"Oh I'll kill you myself if I have to!"
Vienzo jumped between them, "This is the alcohol talking and you both know it! When you two are sober, we will discuss this as grown draken. Until then, Venus dear I suggest you keep that element under control before you fry us all. You're making the lights flicker. Agera, you are in no fit condition to go into a warzone. And FINALLY, we have company."
He peered off into the horizon, where on the distant shore, the portal had sprung to life, and from it a figure walked out. As the portal died, they could see the newcomer emitted their own tiny beacon of luminescence.
"Who the hell is that?" Janus grumbled from the other side of the square. He approached the railing overlooking the dark water, keeping a generous distance between him and Venus.
The stranger took to the sky and raced towards them at an incredible velocity, streamers of light racing out behind them in dazzling ribbons.
"Only one type of being can move that fast in atmosphere." Agera said, raising her wings, "Light dragon."
The beacon grew brighter as it approached, lighting up the whole area. The streetlamps seemed to flicker and dim in the new arrivals presence. A female dissolved out of the brightness in front of them, flapping slowly to hover over the water.
"Agera Krigsman?" she said. Agera was trying to peer through the overwhelming light to see the new dragonelle.
"It can't be! Gwen? Lady Guinevere?!" Agera exclaimed, dropping her paw as the light dimmed, "I thought you were dead!"
"Officially, I am. But no more! Rise dragons!"
"Why, what's going on Guardian of Light?" Vienzo called up. She surveyed them all slowly, and then turned back the way she had come.
"They are coming."