Caption Moreau Contemplated the state of things as he and his beloved dragon Etoilei flew out across the channel to once again test the English defenses. He absently stroked the Papillon Noirs' beautiful dark hide, contemplating the feral Dragonet that had escaped into Brittan a few months back. Napoleon had been rightfully furious at Captain D'Aubigne for the foolish action that had lost them the Dragonet, and it was rumored that Madame Lien, Napoleon's dragon had been less then pleased as well.
Moreau shook his head at the thought of D'Aubigne's idiocy.
The presumably feral dragon's captain had been but a scrawny, half starved boy, and quite young from what he had seen at their fight over the channel, and the Dragonet had not seemed to embrace the advancing English patrol until they had saved his companion. He and the other captains had agreed, the child was likely feral himself, and without D'Aubine stupidly drawing his pistol on the boy, France would have had that dragon in their corps, and both Dragon and boy would have owed their loyalty to France for saving their lives.
Instead D'Aubigne was lucky he had died along with his father's dragon, in the fight over the channel . The fool would surely have been in serious trouble had he returned to France.
His stupidity having cost them a male dragon who's special abilities would have made him very valuable to their great nation, even as nothing more than breeding stock. Additionally the Damage done to their forces because of D'Aubigne's supreme stupidity was unacceptable. They'd lost five fighting dragons, and a lot of men. Three dragons – one of them a heavy weight had died, over the channel. He closed his eyes remembering the horror of seeing the dragonet slice through the wing of another dragon, sending the dragon and his crew tumbling to its death in the waters below. The sight of D'Aubigne's own dragon Ambroise dying in a ball of fire would haunt his dreams for a very long time. Then there was the Pecheur-Raye, Victoire who had been blinded when the young dragon had first escaped from Captain D'Aubigne.
His orders were clear; capture the dragonet and his captain. They would either secure the boy's loyalty to France, or at least ensure they would not be fighting. He rolled his shoulders and glanced back at his crew. Trepidation at the idea of confronting that dragon in combat rose up in his soul as they flew. He couldn't stand the idea of losing his beloved dragon, but they had their orders and there was nothing they could do about them.
They were just about to end their patrol and head for home when they caught sight of the English Patrol. England's only two fire-breathers flew at the center of a large ragged formation with nothing bigger than an Anglewing to protect them. With the notable exception of the Fire-spitting dragon and the Anglewing the rest of the formation's undisciplined flight showed their inexperience. This was likely their best chance to bring down the fire-spitter, and if they could possibly ground or kill the Kazilik in the process, all the better.
As one the formation wheeled, signal flags' flashed out from the lead dragon.
Evan swore colorfully as the Feral dragons that made up their formation scattered and began to lash out at the smaller members of the French formation. Wishing Iskierka, who was making a grand show of breathing fire in all directions, would perhaps show enough discipline to actually take aim first. The thundering cries of the antique guns, with their suffocating clouds of thick white smoke, where deafening; and perhaps somewhat irrationally Evan found himself longing for the familiarities of spell fire. Sirius slashed at an attacking French beast with his long claws as the dragon shot past, twisting away slightly to avoid the enemy beasts great claws; even as gun fire rang out from its back, and their own crew answered in kind.
Sirius bellowed in pain, and flicked his wing sharply as Iskierka's badly aimed flame engulfed the delicate edges of his wing membrane.
"Enemy above! Enemy above!" his signal ensign screamed, his shrill unbroken voice carrying above the crack of gunfire. Evan jerked his head up in alarm searching the sky for the enemy. The French Defendeur-Brave came barreling out of the sky at them with an ear splitting roar, and Evan only just had a second to wonder how the hell the enormous Green and Gold beast had managed to stay hidden within the colds. To their left Crescendium's wings gave a startled jerk but the Anglewing held his position within the formation. Iskierka wheeled about spitting flames in all directions as she turned to face the new threat. Arkedy and his band of ferals scattered, as the French beast barreled towards them.
The formation's inexperience was showing, and the damned French beast had his pick of targets. It chose Sirius, it's trajectory putting him on a collision course with Sirius's back. The great green and gold Dragon was almost upon them when Sirius peeled away from Iskierka and Cresendium, rolling to the side as if to let the other dragon's momentum carry him past.
His talons locked with the Defendeur-Brave's at the last possible second and he folded his wings so that they fell like stones towards the ocean bellow. The Defendeur-Brave bellowed in alarm, her crew firing off shot after shot as they plummeted out of the sky. The other larger dragon opened her wing but far from arresting their fall she only succeeded in throwing them all into a wild, tumbling, spin. Abruptly Sirius let go and all but doubled up on himself, his wings snapping open with a deceptive ease, his entire body jerking upwards as air filled his wings with a wrenching movement, his momentum catapulting them back into the air like a demented amusement park ride. Bellow them the Defendeur-Brave had managed to pull herself out of the deadly dive, wings quivering from the excursion.
She wasn't flying well however, as she turned towards France and even with his admittedly minimal education on dragon physiology he could see the dragon was favoring her left wing.
Slowly Sirius beat his way back into the sky, gaining altitude with each labored stroke of his wings. Evan looked around frantically as the battle played out above them, while Sirius's modified mating display had succeeded in taking the largest of the French Dragons out of the fight, it had left them hopelessly vulnerable to attack from above. Unlike Longwings Sirius did not have to have his neck straight and level in order to attack an enemy and in fact could spit fire and venom in just about any direction – any direction except up.
Gravity was a bitch after all
An earlier training accident with Iskierka had taught them that Sirius's hide was just as vulnerable to flame as any other dragons. From there it was rather easy to conclude that if Sirius was foolish enough to fire directly upwards, gravity would pretty much ensure that he and his crew would be at risk of becoming a casualty. So until they could climb their slow laborious way back up to the fighting they were vulnerable and wholly dependent upon Sirius's maneuverability and the skill of the riffle men to keep them safe.
At least one member of the French formation noticed their vulnerability, and riffle fire strafed Sirius's back cruelly. The dragon billowed in pain and turned his attention to the enemy dragon. The cry of gunfire was deafening, and Evan felt sick watching the results from the relative safety of Sirius's neck. He'd seen the damage done by spellfire, had participated in stupid schoolyard duels with Malfoy, and had experienced the horror of the Graveyard at the end of his fourth year. Somehow none of that really prepared him for the truth of all out muggle warfair.
" 'Ware boarders," The shout rang out across Sirius's back.
"Sirius, shake them off!" Evan snapped as the members of the enemy crew made the terrible unharnessed leap to Sirius's back. He hated to give that order, but too many of his men had already been downed by gunfire. With his first lieutenant among them, he could not risk engaging the enemy at such close quarters.
Evan could only hope it got them all or risk his crew's safety due to their unavoidable disorientation.
Sirius twisted around like a ferret in midair and flung himself into a fast sideways spiral, which had even Evan's quidditch hardened stomach turning. He hunkered down, and clutched at Sirius's harness for dear life despite knowing his personal harness could stand the strain of the maneuver from practicing it - in secret every night since they'd decided to work with the Arial corps rather than go to the breeding grounds.
Sirius leveled out and flew straight, a few hundred Yards away and to the left of his starting point; before flying in slow circles away from the rest of their patrol, as was proper when boarded. Evan could feel the Nervous tension radiating through the permanent bond of their family magic. He unclipped his carbeners and rose to his feet, ignoring the straps that kept him tied safely to Sirius's back. All around him his men where in a nauseated state of disarray, the same could be said of the few Frenchmen who had actually managed to lock on to Sirius's harness before the dragon had flung himself into a deadly spiral.
He walked out along Sirius's neck calmly, ignoring the stupid rules that were there to protect captains, trying to decide if he should kill the three French Men who where to busy being sick from Sirius's aerobatics to be a threat right this second, or if he should have them bound and take them in to the convert to be imprisoned. He looked around at his crew taking note of who was dead and who was injured. The small body of one of his runners enraged him, to the point that he wanted to cast an unforgivable before he realized the small chest was rising and falling slowly.
Lieutenant Rankin was at his side before any of his other officers or crewmen recovered. "Bind those men Lieutenant." He said in what he hoped was a commanding tone, before turning his attention to his wounded crew.
All around him, what was left of his crew started to gather their wits and rise to their feet, Rankin's voice rose above the general confusion as she began shouting orders at the men. Evan ignored them all, and knelt beside the small form of cadet Timothy Dale, tearing a strip off of his shirt he applied pressure to the bullet wound in the child's chest, channeling the small amount of his life magic that he could in a magic less world into to keep the boy alive.
It was exhausting work but he was not about to let Timothy go without a fight. The boy wasn't even old enough to go to Hogwarts yet, and Evan would be damned if he let him die.
Sirius turned his head and took in the state of his crew. Across his back his men were scrambling to get the situation under control. Sirius snorted in dismay at his pup's somewhat foolish decision to spear the lives of the French men. He'd have to speak with the boy about the possible dangers and ensure that he had actually thought out his choice.
"All's well." Lieutenant Rankin called as the last of the French men were apprehended. Sirius altered his course at once, spreading his wing to their fullest and cupping the warm air with their scallop shelled leading edge in order to take the most advantage of any thermals.
It didn't take him long to reach the rest of their scattered formation. Two of the larger enemy dragons, a Flamme-de-Gloire and a rather large Papillon Noirs were attacking Crescendium. The Anglewing was doing his best to keep in the fight despite the blood streaming from his flank; his crew, already scrambling to pack the gash. A third smaller dragon, a Garde-de-Lyon by its coloring, wheeled and came at him from another direction.
Merlin's balls! they'd correctly signaled him out as the only experienced Dragon in their Formation.
Not that far away the feral dragons were working together to mob a single French Garde-de-Lyon. The scarlet and blue beast was having a difficult time, but her Military training was showing in the fact that she remained largely untouched. Two more French dragons, one a surprisingly small Chanson-de-Guerre, and another Papillon Noirs, worked together to make Iskierka's life interesting; particularly as both Dragon's seemed quite adept at avoiding her billowing tongues of flame.
Sirius considered his options briefly, Crescendium was the only one with the experience required to get them out of this mess. Still he was worried about flying into battle with Harry unharnessed on his back. If anything was to happen to his now renamed godson, he'd never forgive himself. He turned his head and took in the scene playing out across his back. His dead crewmen had been cut away and Evan was kneeling beside a small downed form, his hands red with blood as he tried vainly to stem the bleeding long enough for the surgeon to reach them.
"Evan?" he called in alarm.
The boy turned his head briefly and took in the battle that raged around them. Carefully keeping pressure on the young runner's wound with one hand, he used the other to lock himself on to the harness. "Pick your Target Sirius."
With that Sirius climbed higher in the air, drawing himself up above the fighting, and flung himself into the battle, taking careful aim and spitting his venom into the face of the Garde-de-Lyon currently taking advantage of Crescendium preoccupation with the other two enemy dragons. In the short time they had been training Sirius had taken an almost instinctive skill and turned it into a brutally accurate weapon. The smaller dragon shrieked as the spray hit him directly in the face, his left eye taking the brunt of the attack, and wheeled away angling towards France with a piteous moan. Sirius turned away from the sight of the men scrambling out onto the Garde-de-Lyon's neck laden with canteens in a desperate attempt to wash the viscous venom out of his eye.
Angling his wings sharply he barreled into the large yellow beast attacking Cresendium, roaring loudly. The Flamme-de-Gloire billowed in surprise at the sudden impact then rounded on Sirius, huge claws slashing. Sirius reversed sharply, managing to mostly avoid the other dragon's claws. Sirius snarled at the other dragon, doing his level best to keep the enemy fire-breather's attention away from Cresendium. He was larger than the Female Flamme-de-Gloire, but not by much, and the enemy beast was broader in the shoulders but that breath cost her in terms of maneuverability. Sirius trimmed one wing slightly, maneuvering for a better angle with his claws. The Flamme-de-Gloire however was no hatchling, and dodged easily out of the range of his claws.
Having gotten the other dragon's measure he darted in before darting back out of range of her claws trying to bait the other dragon into a moment of stupidity. It didn't work, not that he had really expected it to with her years and experience. But one could hope. She rounded on him, flame billowing from her gaping jaws. Cursing Sirius flung himself to the side avoiding her plume of flame, but giving up his scant advantage of altitude in the process. She came at him talons poised to rake at his sides. He snarled and darted sideways out of her reach. She closed with him again tearing at him with her claws and harrying him with her flame with a vicious abandon that reminded him of his insane cousin Bellatrix. He dodged down and left, coming at her from a different angle, neatly avoiding her flame. He rolled over in mid pass sliding under her belly. Keeping enough distance between them to render both of their talons useless for combat. Twisting his angle at the last possible second he plummeted out of the sky, the sharp tip of his scythe-like tail blade raking her from breast to vent.
She billowed in pain, though it was by no means a fatal blow. Her belly-rigging had absorbed most of the blow, now it fell open cleaved in half by his tail blade, spilling her supplies into the channel below. A few men, unlucky enough to have been caught by his tail or whose personal harnesses had been cut in the engagement fell into their watery graves along with everything else. The rest dangled along with her severed netting. It would take them some time to make the journey up to her main harness and until then the cumbersome remains of the belly net would fowl her claws in an engagement and given its weight possibly her flight.
He wheiled around and came at her again, the muscles in his neck coiling and tensing as he drew his neck back into a vaguely snakelike arch. Parting his jaws, he let the first of his folding fangs drop down into position and spat.
Evan knelt on Sirius's back, leaning over the body of his young runner. Hands covered in blood as he applied pressure to the still bleeding wound. He was desperate absolutely desperate to save the child's life. The boy should not have been their he was entirely to young. Around them the battle raged on, but years of Quiddich had left him mostly immune to the shock of aerobatics in all of their many forms. The boy's breathing was ragged and his world had narrowed to himself the boy, the sound of his breathing and the steady, if sluggish pulse of his desperate magic.
He was tiring and he knew it.
But he couldn't rest
Couldn't give his bloody task over to someone else
Not until they got back to the convert and Timothy was safely in the hands of the surgeons. His magic, inhibited as it was by Sirius's attempt at appearing months ago, and by the general lack of ambient magic in the air, was still the only thing giving this child a fighting chance and he was not about to let him go.
He was so absorbed in his task that he didn't even realize it when they turned and headed for home. He was oblivious to everything until Rankin caught him under the arms and hauled him bodily away from young Mr. Dale, as the surgeons swarmed.
Somehow she managed to get him down from Sirius's back, he stood their on the ground for a moment stunned into utter silence. His gaze landed on his blood soaked hands and he whimpered as the world spun. Abruptly he vomited, tears streaming down his cheeks. He drew in one sharp short breath, another, and another.
He started to hyperventilate.
He was shaking with shock and reaction, gazing round him in horror at the sight laid out before him. All around him people and dragon's where injured. A long gash ran across Sirius's shoulders, laying bone bare in some places. His tail blade and jaws where stained with the near black of Dragon blood. A dragon Surgeon and his assistance swarmed Sirius's back and side running sutures through the gash and padding it with gauze.
Horrified he wrenched again, and was left leaning heavily against Lieutenant a shuddering dry heaving mess.
This was all his fault neither Timothy or Sirius Should have been in that fight.
They wouldn't have been if it weren't for him.
Sirius was only here because of him, Only a dragon because of him, and Timothy would not have been in harm's way if he hadn't chosen the happy go lucky child as one of his runners.
If that Child died, it was his fault, just like Cedric's death was his fault.
His knees buckled, but he didn't fall, Lieutenant Rankin held him up. Lowering his head he sobbed brokenly at the thought of the young life that may have been erased because of him.
"Everything will be alright Harry." Sirius hissed in parsletounge, nuzzling Evan's back, gently, with his blood stained muzzle, his breath warm even through the thick fabric of his flight coat.
AN. Sorry this took so long I have no internet until mid August. please review.
i Étoile – French for star