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April 1811

General Arthur Wellesley surveyed the fortified town of Badajoz. It was strong and he wasn't sure if he could take it with the forces currently at his disposal. It was strong and the French had placed even more AD (anti-dragon) guns around the wall since the last scout report the previous autumn. This meant that a Longwing formation couldn't get close enough to do damage, and if they could have done they would have faced at least 7 top rank dragon formations. Also he had renegade Spanish partisans to worry about, and who were loyal only for a given value of loyal. He sighed. He wished that damned fire breather hadn't flown off to join the transport to Australia nearly three years ago. He had flown into a truly apoplectic rage and nearly broken all the promises he had made about dragon equality (which was gathering pace with a rumour of dragon representatives in Parliament!) until Admiral Jane Roland reminded him calmly, not batting an eyelid, that many men had done similar things and, that in all likelihood, the Corps would mutiny if he broke the promises. Her tone had indicated she would lead the mutineers in such a case of affairs.

He sighed and walked back into the staff tent and asked one of his aides for information on all the dragons in service in other countries that were not desperately needed militarily. He had a feeling he would need every dragon he could get.

May 10th 1811

"Well?"

The aide swallowed and looked at the bottom two files. They were both extraodinarily touchy issues around the general due to the mysterious event surrounding Napoleons invasion. He put the files on Wellesley's desk and stepped back, positioning himeslf next to the entrance. Wellesly glanced up at the files while drafting a letter to whitehal. "Thank you very much, you may go now. The aide stepped out of the tent then waited. He winced as suddenly the litany of things like 'yes', 'no', 'hmm' and other such things was replaced by an arctic silence. The aide who knew Wellesley well, waited ten seconds, then stepped out the tent and counted to three. On three, the remnants of Wellesley's dinner (mutton, again) came flying out after him.

May 12th 1811

The aide (Sir Andrew of Cornwall from now on) poked his head round the entrance to the tent slowly. Wellesley was looking at those two files. "Send for both of them."

"Sir?"

"Send for them now, Sir Andrew." The harmonics of command in Wellesleys voice were unmistakeable.

"Yes sir." Answered Sir Andrew backing out quickly.

"Also, pray do look into the file on their offspring, Artemis*. The file is remarkably lacking in information on her capabilities."

Sir Andrew hurried out of the tent, unnerved by the frighteningly composed and calm Wellesley. He, like everyone else, had heard the rumours concerning the invasion by Napoleon. They had detailed little, except that Wellesley had ordered the slaughter of the French scavenging parties which was carried out by the exiled William Laurence, and his dragon Temeraire. Apparently, Captain Laurence had sent a fairly innocuous field report which was considered by the peer (Wellesley's nickname) to be blackmail. He also let his wonder about the talents of the offspring of a Celestial and a Kazilik. Unusual, most likely, destructive, certainly.

*Artemis is mainly a female name of the Greek goddess of hunting.