April 2, 2008
"This is Fox News at 11, and I'm Clark Deboneau. Today, a scientist by the name of William Harper has made a discovery that will change the entire universe." The screen flipped from the newscaster to a small blue egg, nestled in a laboratory. "This egg was found in the Amazon a week ago and brought back to the states for testing. Preliminary tests cannot tell what is in the egg; it seems to block every test we attempt. Dr. Harper believes this might be a egg, laid by what he claims to be dinosaurs." The screen panned back to the newscaster. "More tests will be run, but for now, only time will tell what secrets this egg holds."
May 14, 2008
"We, America, have made the discovery of a lifetime! The egg has hatched, and we have birthed the first dragon into the world! William Harper has named it Draco, "a fitting name for my own specimen". Draco seems to grow rapidly, and Harper claims it to be quite intelligent. Harper also has plans to breed the dragons and study them in natural habitat, and the government agrees. A 40,000 acre land has been purchased in Georgia, a relatively humid climate for Draco and his upcoming companions. This is Clark Deboneau, reporting for Fox News."
August 20, 2008
"Word is just in. Moscow has been completely demolished by the dragons. Next was Great Britain, and lastly, was Beijing, China. Over four million alone were killed in this last attack, making it the most horrific attack in history. Wait...we have a live feed coming in..." The newscaster was replaced with the president of the united states, sitting at his desk, his face somber.
"My fellow Americans, today is a day that we must live with our mistakes. I am declaring the evacuation of every major city. Immigrants from these cities will be reimbursed, but to contain the amount of casualties, marshal law will be declared until everyone is clear. We must band together in this time of war, and-" The screen went black and quickly the news station flipped back to the newscaster. He looked around at the people in the studio, trying to figure out why the news feed had gone dark. His face suddenly paled as he began to read the teleprompter, and his hands visibly shook.
"My god...they...killed...what have we done?" He buried his face in his hands and with a sharp reprimand from the crew in front of him, Clark Deboneau lifted his head as tears shimmered in his eyes. "It is with great sorrow that I announce the attack on Washington. The President and Vice President have been killed. I repeat, the dragons have attacked Washington D.C. Similar reports say that Toronto, Chicago, and New York are also under attack. If you're still here, run. Run and hide, because they'll come for you. Run-" With that, the screen flickered, then went dark
22 Years later
I held a pen in my mouth, writing down what came to me. My studies of the dragons had kept me alive all of these years, and the lives of my band continued on my understanding of the dragons around us.
"The half-breeds are fascinating creatures. I have seen with my own eyes the proof that they can transform into humans. Even the purebloods have this capability, although I have not proven it yet. In the tales I hear, they take on perfect humans except for their eyes. Apparently, they shine a beautiful golden hue that is a distinct trait to purebloods. Half-breeds, on the other hand, have red eyes.'
'A few days ago I made contact with a half-breed. He was sympathetic towards humans and let me ask him many questions. Firstly, half-breeds are born and live as humans. If they are not told otherwise, they live as normal humans until their eighteenth birthday. On the very second, they are forced to transform into a dragon. After an uncertain amount of time-the time varies with each dragon-they can turn back into humans.'
'I have also noticed that the dragons have formed groups and even have a pecking order according to fighting ability, much like the old Spartan ways. Their bands seem to be close knit with fewer than twenty half-breeds. Of course, I have seen oddities such as a full-blood with a half-breed.'
'The dragons have also realized human potential, even the pure dragons. The pure dragons have enslaved most of the intelligent of every nation to do their bidding, whether it is by running power plants or living as servants to dragons who have settled down in one area. Most children are left alone, but once humans reach a certain age, the dragons will take them away."
I ended my journal entry on that note and closed my book. I'd kept sporadic entries since the dragons had annihilated the U.S., but I was always on the lookout for more information. I may be seventeen, but I was no fool. I knew the power of information. I stretched and looked around the human compound. Many were sitting by the fire cooking the food we'd caught earlier today while some were cleaning their weapons. We had exactly eleven people in our group, or unit, as I liked to call us.
"Hey, Jessie! We found some ammo from the last village we passed. Come give this stuff out, will you?" I turned back to see my sister Julie sauntering over to me. Her short brown hair was pulled back by some sort of hair contraption, which I quirked an eyebrow at. When did she have time to pick that up? I hadn't seen it before. She tossed a bag of gun munitions in my lap and rolled her eyes at my journal. "I swear, that thing does no good. Why do you even write in it?"
"Oh shut up, Julie," I sighed out, putting my journal away and ignoring the long standing argument. I sifted through the ammunition and began the tedious job of sorting the stuff and then giving it away to the people who wielded the weapons. "Oh, 50 cal bullets…Hernando's going to be pleased."
I saw the sniper sleeping near the fire and I tossed the bullet pack at him. It hit him and he swatted his hand in front of him, clearly wanting to go back to sleep. Of course, being the asshole I was, I threw more bullet packs at him and he finally opened his eyes. His dark eyes brightened once he saw his present and I winked at him as I went back to work.
"I have your ammo in there too. I think it's near the bottom," Julie continued, sitting on the ground beside of me. She stretched, as if she didn't have a care in the world and then leaned back against a protruding tree trunk. "Wake me up when you're done." I grunted in response and she closed her eyes, ready to go back to sleep.
Once I was finished dishing out the ammo, I checked the maps we collected of North Carolina and double checked them against the other maps, triple checking the known dragon nest locations and where we were headed. However, I realized we were closer to the next town than I anticipated. I kicked Julie's leg and she lazily opened her brown eyes, which flashed annoyance to be woken so early into her nap.
"I checked the maps and we're nearer to Andrews than anything else. It seems a fairly decent size and we might be able to pick up some dried goods there, if it hasn't been looted already."
"It probably hasn't. We're in the middle of nowhere smack dab in the middle of the Smokey Mountains. Who would even consider coming out here to hide?" I rolled my eyes at the splitting image of myself in annoyance.
"We did, idiot." In response, she closed her eyes and smirked.
"Well, we're just using backwards logic. It gets them every time. We're just smart like that." I sighed. Sometimes I wished she were the smart one and I was the lazy one, but then again, I couldn't stand to be as idiotic as she acted.
"Regardless, we should stop and see if we can find food supplies."
"Didn't we just do that?" she asked, opening one eye.
"We barely had enough ammo to get us by last time. I'd rather have more than none at all. What if another dragon attacks?"
"We'll kick its-."
"Language. And please don't tell me you're serious." I muttered, putting in my hand on my forehead in exasperation. "Seriously Julie, you scare me sometimes. Let's just get the stupid ammo and heat some food up for once in a microwave."
"You're so addicted to technology," Julie muttered. I hit her and shook my head, my eyes smirking over at her.
"Oh shut up. I've seen you use a straightener last week when we stopped." She closed her eye as a light blush stained her cheeks. As much of a tomboy as she was, she really did care how she looked.
"Fine. We'll call it even." I shuffled over to a nearby tree and fluffed up a coat into a makeshift pillow. Dusk had already fallen, but we were mostly safe. We hadn't seen a dragon in quite some time since we arrived at the mountains. However, we posted a light guard around our camp, just in case.
I woke up to my sister's incessant poking. I swatted at her sleepily, deathly irritated on being awoken at the brink of dawn, but she was insistent and kept poking me until I finally opened my eyes. I swore at her under my breath and took a look around at the campsite. The others were slowly walking around, almost relishing in the fact that we could wake up slowly without any dragon attacks. It was certainly a change from the lowlands. There we had lived in constant fear as our group began to steadily dwindle from the dragon raids.
Shaking off the sobering thoughts of the past, I stretched, my muscles flexing fluidly under my skin, causing Julie to smirk.
"And you say that you're not ripped," she muttered. I glared at her.
"I'm not ripped, I'm toned." Julie rolled her eyes and began to sheath her weapons, and holstering the rest of the guns. I followed suit, strapping my belt to my waist and placing my knives in various places on my body. One of the new girls, Elizabeth - though we all called her Liz - watched us with fascination. Julie, who always tended to be bothered by this, snapped first.
"You seem very familiar with your weapons," Liz replied, totally unfazed by Julie's barking question. She was the newest girl we had picked up, and she was damn lucky she had survived until she met us.
"Of course," Julie retorted.
"We actually didn't know how to use these before," I told the woman. She was used to being pampered and spoiled, living in a house with her father before he had been taken. Now she was thrust into the outdoors, which she was learning to like, with virtually no wilderness awareness. I mean, she had about to eat poisonous berries when we met her! "When the dragons first attacked, my dad bought us weapons and began a lesson with our family on how to use them." And these skills I would pass to the new girl, and she to others. It was the way humanity survived and thrived now. A pity.
"Really? Where is your dad now?" Julie's eyes narrowed at the woman and Liz winced, sensing she'd struck a nerve. Julie, however, whirled around and began helping the others get ready for the trek ahead, leaving me alone to explain in the wake of her anger.
"He was killed." I held up my hand as apology swamped her features. "Don't apologize. He was a good man and he died trying to protect his family. My mother was helping him and she died also. My brother…well…he was caught as the dragons torched our house."
"That's why you hate them? The dragons, I mean." I smiled at Liz.
"I don't hate them." Liz's eyes widened in disbelief. "I was a naturally born scientist. I don't really react to things like normal people would. I understand why my parents died and I respect them enough to move on. I know they would want me to be happy. Besides, look at Julie. She's got all the hatred I don't." I pointed backwards, knowing Julie was fuming. Liz halfway smiled. "Don't worry. She's all bark and no bite. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm going to kill the dragon that killed my family, but I don't hate the entire species just because of my parents. I actually find them fascinating." My face brightened.
"You're weird." I nearly fell to the ground at her statement but resisted the urge. The girl was definitely not the most diplomatic, but it was refreshing to have someone so innocent and blunt. I could respect that, even if I couldn't allow her to be innocent for long. Eventually she would have to kill to survive.
"Yeah, I hear that a lot," I sighed. "Regardless of my oddness, don't hesitate to ask if you don't understand or if you need something. That's what I'm here for!" I added with a slight smirk. I turned to see the rest of our group all packed and ready for the trip. I helped Liz up and placed her own pack on her back. Julie made a circle in the air with her finger, the army sign to move out. We responded in kind and followed Julie, as Liz and I brought up the rear like usual.
"Where are we headed?" Liz asked.
"There's a town not far from here called Andrews. We'll stop by and see what they have in town."
"What do we need to look for?"
"Whatever we deem essential. That's why you see varying pack sizes in the group. We carry what we want and deem appropriate. I guess it's a small measure of independence or individuality." Liz gave me a weird look and I smiled at her. "I told you, I'm an anthropologist at heart. Well, borderline psychologist. Or maybe a zoologist. I dunno." Liz just sighed and shook out her long blond hair.
"What should I look for in town?"
"Well, you need to choose a weapon to practice with. I would at least try to master a handgun, if nothing else."
"Don't the dragons have impenetrable scales?" I smiled at her immediate assumption. Most of the humans had thought that when the dragons first started their attacks, but it wasn't true.
"The first thing you need to realize is that you can't rely on our-of-proportion legends. Their scales aren't impenetrable, just difficult to get through. Though that isn't correct, the legends are true in the fact that the underbelly is the weakest part of the dragon. That's why Julie carries a katana. I do know how to wield a short sword, but I like my guns better. I can shoot for the eyes."
"But don't legends always start with a grain of truth?" I smiled brightly at the woman.
"Good observation. Yes, they do. Older civilizations probably encountered dragons once before and their tales spread through the world. They were formed differently and added on by different cultures, or even mixed together. This is why you see different types of dragons in the legends. However, the dragons now seem to be a mix of what seems like Welsh and maybe typical English style dragons."
"Why does it matter?" Liz asked.
"It probably doesn't." Liz sighed and hung her head, knowing she shouldn't have asked the obvious question. "Well, it's what I get for getting all of the brains in the family."
"If you're the smart one, and Julie's the athletic one, then what was your brother?" I laughed out loud.
"That dude could pick up the most girls out of any guy I'd ever seen." Liz laughed along with me, the mood lightened. She arranged her pack again before turning back to me.
"What about town?"
"Tell you what. You just stick with me when we reach Andrews. I'll show you what I believe are the basics of survival."
"Chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate." Liz laughed at my pitiful joke as she turned back to face our group again. "And then for Julie, the straightener. Ask her about that when we stop. She'll get a kick out of it. Oh, I do have to get the paper."
"What? Like newspaper? They're all outdated."
"All the more reason to torch them for our fire."
"You know, I'm starting to think that you're a pyromaniac."
"I've been called that too," I sighed. "Julie's the worst though. She's addicted to trying to make her own version of a flamethrower. Don't go near her when she goes for the hair spray."
"Why hair spray?"
"Because it causes Julie to go pyro-crazy. She's nearly blown her hand off more than a couple of times." Liz laughed.
"I think I made the right decision coming with this group."