I see you. I smell you—oil, fur and skin, old cloth, lightning in the sky. I see you and the ones who feed us.
Us—we are the dragons. The herd. We lie in the sun and climb the walls.
I see you. Bending to the piles of food, scoop it up in your arms. Graceful. I lift my thick mane of feathers. The world resonates around you. Step like the water flows. I'll follow you. I'll guide you. I stamp my feet. I want to run.
You're like me. Graceful. There is praise when you run. Yes! Pride.
You come. I snatch up the food, and look at your fur.
Eating is so familiar. You/me is not; the way we mesh is not familiar. Your thoughts dwell on outside—wide sky, sky to save, save your herd, return to your student—outside! I know what you want. Like the stable-hands you control me, but unlike them too—I know where you want to go.
"Good girl, Boga. Erm—she is a she, isn't she?"
The stable-hand speaks. "Warool noggaggllo?"
"Very well then. She you will have to be, Boga. Unless you care to tell me otherwise."
I look at you at the sound of my name.
We move out under
the sun. I cry out and rear with joy, with freedom. Me/you run down
the slope, clawed feet stumbling, my feet stumbling as your balance
wavers. You regain it. Thoughts carry on one another, cry out with
joy. Feel the sun!
We guide us to dark places. In stride, cool air, air smells like metal, metal all around and in your hand.
You dismount, pat my face, walk away. Don't leave—
Leave me in the cool dark, in the rafters.
I wait for you.
Lights flash, alluring, exciting, flashing, noisy. I peer over the edge. You look so tiny…so foolish. You jumped into the predator's nest! Its neon beak bites you. Its metal hatchlings circle.
I backtrack, make tracks to you. A roaring metal moving thing eclipses you as you come back to me, you want it.
You're in need. I was right.
Your cajoling voice means you see that it was your fault.
We/you/me run again, back into the sun. Sun's energy. Energy all around. People falling from the sky, swinging. Smells like firestorm. But I can endure. Calm. You can. Can you? You smell like more lightning. Like the thing we chase. See the warmth in infrared? He and his metal circle-shell look like hot.
The city falls apart. Still my feet find purchase. We run though an obstacle course—around outcroppings, things, dragons, herds of people who shoot neon spines at us/you. Smells whip by, hot. Crashing sounds, piercing sounds, screaming trickling windy sounds. The chase is good. We chase—he is the anti-us. We and he run up hills, up walls, walls shake.
Highway. We run through traffic. Smell the dragons. Brown males, blue-green girls, people riding things, him. Silver. I focus. I draw near. I catch up! Pride! You lean again, I lean against him. He churns and spins beside us. Lightning prods my side. I cry out. It reminds me of joy.
You jump onto his platform, almost onto his back. I know this movement. The monsters' mouths jump behind hatchlings' heads like that and drag them away. You are predatory? Ah yes! The ones who swung from the sky are your pack. I feel powerful.
Your weight leaves me/us. I skid to a stop. Others on the highway swerve. I worry.
I wait for you again. Do you have to keep doing that? I pant and wait. And wait.
You live! You smell, but you/I live. I shake the cloud of smoke out of my feathers. We move again.
You guide me/us through chaos and movements again. I bite, tear, stamp. We meet your pack-mates, white-armored, mammals in shells. Metal in your hand again, glinting in the white sun, smell overwhelmed. We jump again. Run along the walls, ocean below my shoulder, tangles in the sky, fray, thresh, muscles straining, tiny stinging metal monsters approach. We hang on!
I feel you twitch. Through the saddle, through my skin, through your thoughts on mine I know your pain. You flinch. Not from a strike. I know I'm not hit—yet. Momentary. Too quickly. Quick explosion, hurting, hurting because I am a wall, wall of life, life falling—
We/me/you falling, off the edge. I claw at the air. I cry out because I hurt, hurt stripes me, but you smell clean. Your pack circles on the rocks, white teeth bared--
My breath catches. Hurt. Overwhelming. Gravity, it means--Washing away--
I see you last.