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As I slowly came back to consciousness, the damp, hard and ice cold floor told me all I needed to know. When I opened my eyes, my thoughts were confirmed.

“Well crap, I’m in a cave.” I said to myself.

This statement got the attention of my captors. A pair of anthro dragons, one red and the other one was blue, both with silver plates protecting their chests, necks and undersides. They didn’t say a word; they just walked over to me, grabbed my arms and drug me out of the small indent in the side of the cave wall. I was too weak to fight them so I just let them drag me across the rocky floor. It was a bit cold, but I still had my clothes on so that kept me a bit warm. My two ‘escorts’ weren’t wearing anything so it must have been chilly for them or they were so used to it that the cold didn’t matter to them. My hat was gone; probably fell off in the attack. At that point I had bigger concerns to deal with. As I was dragged through the maze of tunnels, I saw dragons all over the place. They were going in and out of tunnels that must have led to other chambers. Where ever I was, these dragons had a lot of time to get cozy. Some of them looked at me like I was dangerous as I was drug past, just glaring at me with hate in their eyes.

‘Well I guess I upset the apple cart when I exposed dragons to the world.’ I thought, ‘No wonder these dragons don’t like me, I stripped away their cover.’

While being drug through one particular tunnel, I saw something I had never seen before, a dragon hatchling. Just a little tiny guy, couldn’t have been very old, probably one a year or two. It’s little pudgy grey scaled body and little wings were just so cute. Its parents, I assume, pushed it off into the small chamber when they spotted me being drug by. They gave me that same glare of hate as they too hurried into the chamber. I was in for an even bigger surprise when I passed a large chamber. My lower law dropped open when I saw what was in the next chamber that was under heavy guard.

“Eggs.” I breathed, “has to be over a hundred dragon eggs in there.”

I’d been curious of whether dragons gave live birth or lay eggs; my question was answered when I saw that scene. Fires were lit along the outer rim of the chamber, providing heat to incubate the eggs in the middle. It had four quadruped dragons guarding that chamber, all of them looked like one false step and they’d rip an intruder to pieces. Facts started to fall into place.

‘These dragons are building an army of dragons.’ I thought as the gears turned in my brain, ‘I thought they were using the stones to build their army, but I think they’re using them as breeders. That way they have a dragon that was born a dragon and raised on their rules.”

A shiver ran down my spine and it wasn’t because of the cold floor; it was the sudden realization of what that meant.

‘If they believe that dragons that were once human might choke when they’re put up against their former species, then they’ll start fresh with ones that don’t have that problem.’ I thought as my stomach felt queasy.

I didn’t get a chance to really see much more because as I was still running facts through my head, I was tossed into in the middle of a large room by the two dragons that were dragging me.

“Well, well, well.” said a very deep and raspy reptilian voice, “You have finally been captured and brought to usss. Quagnog will be given hisss wisssh of breeding with asss many femalesss asss he desssiresss for thisss.”

I stood up and dusted myself off; the back of my pants was all damp from the wet cave floor.

“You know, I really don’t know or care what you guys do with your lives, just as long as you leave me and everyone else alone.” I said, looking into the darkness.

There was a beam of sunlight shining in from overhead and into the center of the room; it was throwing off my night vision so I couldn’t see into the shadows.

“SSSILENCE!” he roared, so much air came at me that my hair blew back, “You have broken one of our mossst important rulessss. You have exposssed usss to humanity and caussse usss to hasssten our plansss for total dragon domination of thisss planet, asss it was alwaysss meant to be. We are ssstronger, sssmarter, and far sssuperior to humansss in every conceivable way. We dessserve thisss planet, not them!”

“Hate to burst your bubble there, but humans got you out matched.” I said with a smirk, “You set one clawed paw out there and they’ll blow you apart.”

I heard a series of dull thumps that could only be footsteps of something huge. Out of the darkness came a massive black quadruped dragon, had to be thirty five feet long and built like a tank. Gold stripes ran down his neck, back and tail along with black spikes connected by a red membrane that ran along his spine. His underside had gold plates that looked incredibly thick and his scales were no joke either. He had a large blocky head with four white horns and multiple spikes framing its reptilian face. Frills came off his jaw and his ears to give a terrifying face that would have caused many to have become frozen in fear. White claws on his paws looked like they were dull and had been used for many years. A large white spike on the tip of his tail was the topper for this very imposing dragon.

“Well, you sure are a big scary dude.” I replied, “But that just means they’ll be able to hit you easier.”

“Oh you don’t need to worry about that,” he snarled, looking at me with an evil looking grin, “In fact, from what I’ve been told you value that brain of yoursss very highly. You like to be sssmart and clever, which isss why you were ssso hard to catch. I want you to ussse that brain to figure out the punissshment for you crimesss againssst usss. Call it a lassst run for old timesss’ sssake.”

I didn’t like what he said, but I could only think of one thing, so I replied,

“Death.”

“No,” he said, almost sounding giddy for what he was about to say, “I was hoping you would sssay that. It would be a wassste of a dragon to jussst kill you, although sssome have sssaid that it would be the mossst fitting for your crimesss. What I have in mind for you isss far worssse then you could posssssibly imagine. Ssseize him.”

When the same two dragons that dragged me there grabbed my arms, I just knew I wasn’t going to like this. That was obvious, but still, it didn’t help any. They hauled me to a room as we followed the huge black dragon down a hall way onto what I guess was an observation platform. We were up above a lowered floor and again there was a beam of light from outside shining down onto a large rock table. It looked like a stone operating room and we were in the observation theater. The black dragon turned to me with his dark blue eyes just fixed on me and said,

“When we firssst discovered the ssstones usssed to turn a lowly human into a powerful dragon, we were excited. I’m sssorry to sssay that I wasss once counted among their numbersss, a mere farm boy, but that was two centuriesss ago and I’ve never looked back. I rossse through the ranksss to my current posssition in thisss grand endeavor to ressstore peace and order to a world lost in chaosss. Humansss aren’t fit to rule thisss planet, we are and we will take out rightful place as the dominate ssspeciesss of thisss world.”

“You’ll never succeed.” I spat back at him, “Humanity has a way of coming together in a time of crisis and this time they have support of other, good dragons. You will lose.”

“Due to your interference, you have ruined our element of sssurprissse.” he snarled at me, bearing his teeth, “But no matter, you will be dealt with sssoon enough and finally put to good ussse.”

I feared what he meant by that last part, but I didn’t have to what long for my answer. Four dragons dragged in a fifth to the stone block table on the lower floor. The light blue dragon was screaming and thrashing around like mad trying to get free, but the other dragons held onto him by his arms and legs. They ignored the blue dragon’s tail as it hit a few of them. Those were some tough dragons.

“Yatger,” the black dragon said down to the dragon on the table, “You have broken your oath to ssserve and obey usss as your massstersss by trying to essscape to the human’sss sssociety. For this offenssse, you will be transformed into a battle dragon and your mind will be reduced to that of a dragon of old. My judgment ssstands, carry out the procedure.”

“MY NAME IS HENRY, HENRY WILSON!” the light blue dragon screamed back at him, “ALL I WANTED TO DO WAS GO HOME! GO BACK TO MY FAMILY!”

“You can’t be serious?!” I said in shock, “All he wants is to go home. Why don’t you just let him?”

“He betrayed hisss oath, he mussst now sssuffer the consssequencesss.” The black dragon said, completely at ease with the horror of this.

A small silver dragon walked out of the entrance to floor below and it was carrying a small box, much like the one I had found at LC. This one was gold though. I struggled against my captures, but it wasn’t any use, they had a firm grip on me. The small dragon opened the lid and inside was a bunch of jewels of different colors.

“Okay,” said the small silver dragon, “This isss going to hurt a lot, but I take great pride in my work. You will be a magnificent battle dragon, a pity you won’t be able to appreciate it.”

The light blue dragon thrashed around even more, but it was no use. The silver dragon carefully picked up a blue jewel with a pair of metal tongs and placed it on the light blue dragon’s chest. It acted like it was pure acid and ate into the chest plates in moments.

“NOOOO!” the light blue dragon roared, then he just started screaming.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; I was infuriated and terrified at the same time.

“When we firssst discovered the sssecretsss of the ssstonesss, we found that we could alter a few thingsss to make better dragonsss.” the black dragon said as he watched the whole scene in mild amusement, “We accidently created a variation of the ssstonesss, thossse were the jewelsss you sssee in that box. Insssstead of turning and human into a dragon, it turnsss a dragon into a variation of itself, but far more beassstly in nature. They behave more like the dragonssss of ancient timessss, before they were intelligent enough to create the ssstonesss. Thessse battle dragons are not very good for much elssse than their namessss impliesss, but they do their job extremely well. The one we sssent for you was a little to ferociousss for hisss one good, but he wasssn’t that good of a dragon to ssstart with anyway.”

“You mean that dragon just tried to leave and you did that to him?” I asked, stunned at that the thought.

“Indeed.” The black dragon nodded, “If he failed to kill you, Quagnog wasss cleared to attempt to capture you. It worked and I for one look forward to adding you to our growing sssupply of battle dragonssss.”

I was revolted by every aspect of what he was doing. Stripping them of their lives at first and if they didn’t do what he said, he’d take away their minds and free will as well. I turned back to see the light blue dragon had fallen off the stone table and was now doubled over in pain. Bones were popping and he was gaining in size. His body warped into a quadruped form with every snap and more spikes grew out of the side of his face. With each passing moment, he looked less like the dragon that was drug in and more like the dragon that attacked Mom and me last night. His features all looked sharper and boxier and spikes grew out of him in various places at along his joints. After about ten or fifteen minutes of horror, there was a light blue battle dragon laying on the floor and not a light blue anthro dragon.

“Magnificent! Sssimply magnificent!” the silver dragon said, “Oh I’m ssso proud of thisss one, hurry up and get him to the holding pensss to be trained to follow basssic commandssss, we might have sssomething for him to do very sssoon.”

“Your turn.” the black dragon said with a snarl in his voice, “Take him down there and ssstart the procedure.”

“You may take me out, but you still won’t win.” I growled back at him, “There’s no way you can win in a fight against humanity and all the good dragons that will back them up.”

“I want you to know thisss before you are too sssimple to underssstand anything but basssic commandsss,” he hiss at me as I was drug down the hall, “When you are ready to be sssent out to do our work, the firssst job you’ll have isss to kill your entire family.”

My claws clenched into fists and my blood pressure went through the roof.

“You low down, dirty son of a b*tch.” I snarled, “You are a sick mother f*cker and you will pay for all the damage you’ve ever done. I’ll make sure of that.”

“You won’t be able to do anything of the kind.” he laughed, “In fact; you’ll just carry out the order without a sssecond thought becaussse you won’t have the brain power to have a sssecond thought.”

I growled, thrashed and tried to bite at the dragons that had a hold of me, but they were very good at holding thrashing dragons. Two more grabbed my legs as I was forcibly taken into the same room were the light blue dragon was changed. There was that silver dragon with that same box. I was put on the table and held down by all four of the other dragons while the silver one got right next to my head and told me in a gleeful voice,

“Oh my, the red dragon exposssed usss to humanity. How I have alwaysss wanted that chance to turn you into a gloriousss battle dragon and finally be of ussse to our caussse. Oh how lovely that will be don’t you think? You are very plain looking, but I can fix that. Let me sssee here, oh yesss, thisss one ssshould do just fine. You will look ssso ssspectacular on the battle field, ripping humansss to ssshredsss with your clawsss and teeth. Oh I do love my work.”

“You are one twisted person.” I growled at him, “One day, all the harm you have done will came back to bite you on the a** and I hope it’s a hundred times worse.”

He ignored me, picked up a deep red jewel and started to get it right over my chest. I started to panic. I didn’t want to be a battle dragon, much less one that is as dumb as a cow and sent to kill my family. The jewel was just over the large rip in my shirt and I tried to think of anything to save myself, but I couldn’t. I feared this was the end of me, that I would live the rest of my life mindlessly doing the biding of a bunch of evil dragons. I shut my eyes, not wanting to see it happen, but then something happened. A shot rang out and I hear all the other dragons gasp. I opened my eyes to find the jewel had been shot out of the tongs and was now somewhere in the room. I looked up to the hole in the ceiling to see a rifle barrel aimed down at me, a familiar one at that.

“Surprise a**holes!” Sam shouted as she dropped two cans down the hole.

She had shot the jewel out of the tongs and dropped two smoke grenades. With a loud hiss, the smoke grenades let out a green smoke half way down to the floor. One bounced off me and hit the floor while the other just hit the floor straight from the get go. Within seconds, the room was totally full of smoke. I felt something heavy hit the table and then a slash sound followed by gushing and gurgling noises, my left arm was free. A shot of fire breath from one of the dragons brightened up the room and I caught a glimpse of Sam’s silhouette as she darted through the smoke. There was another slash sound followed by a dull thump, my left leg was no longer restrained.

“WHAT IS GOING ON!” bellowed the black dragon just as I heard the dragon that was holding my right arm get hit.

I just saw Sam’s combat boot land right next to my head as she jumped on the table, slashed the dragons throat open and disappear into the smoke again. Blood poured onto my face as the dragon slumped over me, pinning me to the table. The last dragon let go of my right leg and backed into the smoke. I heard a metal ‘ping’ and followed seconds later by the wet sound of a sword being plunged into something. The smoke cleared and there was Sam, standing with her ninja sword shoved all the way into the last dragon’s head, right at the place where the plates end and the softer area of the lower jaw begin. She had struck so hard that the tip of the sword was out the top of the dragon’s head. A look of fear was frozen of the dragon’s face as Sam pulled the sword out with a quick motion and let the dead dragon fall to the ground with a thud. She looked up and snatched something shiny as it glinted in the sun beam out of the air with her left hand. She turned to look at me and began to roll her silver dollar coin through her fingers.

“A human made it through our defenses!” roared the black dragon, “How?”

Sam just gave her blade a flick to get some of the blood off and said with a demented smile,

“You might want to do a head count, you’re a few patrols shy.”

I pushed off the corpse of the dragon that was pinning me down so I could get a better view. The silver dragon cowered along the wall, my guess he didn’t know what to expect from Sam.

“How did you find me?” I asked, shocked that she had found me so quickly.

“Mom chased after the dragon that took you in the Ford and called us at home.” Sam replied, “We bailed in the GMC and tore a** all the way to where she said she was and finally caught up with her and the Siloam Springs State Park and then I just felt for you.”

“You mean that weird mental link we have because we’ve lived together for so long?” I replied.

“Yep.” she said with a smile, “I could just tell which direction you were in.”

Sam and I tend to be aware of the other even without seeing each other. In airsoft games we don’t use radios that much, but we tend to back each other up without ever needing any words being said. I know where Sam is and she knows where I am and we base a lot of tactics off that. It didn’t surprise me that she could track me down; I’ve done the same to her on more than a few occasions.

“So, this is a member of your family.” The black dragon snarled, “I would have expected that you would be glad to be rid of a dragon in your midst, you humans hate and fear us so much that I thought you would be happy to get him away from you.”

“I don’t fear you!” she shouted at him in anger, “But I do hate you for what you tried to do to my brother. I’ll make sure you’re in tiny pieces for what you’ve done.”

“I’ll eat you for breakfast human!” he growled back at her.

“Ethan! Catch!” Mom yelled down the hole.

I looked up to see Mom and Dad looking down the hole. Mom dropped my revolver down to me and I caught it without any trouble, swiftly aiming it at the black dragon.

“Go on, fire your puny human weapon. See what good it does.” he laughed, his jaws split wide in a huge draconic smile, “My scales will protect me.”

I pulled the trigger, aiming square at his big fat head. The loud bang and huge flash from the revolver lit up the room for a split second. The black dragons head snapped back from the impact and when his head came back down, the smile was gone. A hole was right in the middle of his forehead and it trickled blood. The cave shook as he collapsed over the edge of the wall. There was a huge exit wound out the back of his skull, his brains had been blown out the back of his head as it hung limply down towards the floor. I just blew the smoke from the end of my revolver’s barrel with a smile on my muzzle and said,

“.500 Smith & Wesson, not much they don’t go through.”

“Come on, let’s get out of here!” Sam shouted.

We turned around to see Mom and Dad coming down the rope.

“They’re coming, we saw them coming right for us.” Dad said, “We gotta find another way out.”

“How much ammo you got?” I asked.

“Three hundred rounds of .22 long rifle, sixty 20 gauge slug rounds, forty 12 gauge 00 buckshot rounds and one hundred and fifty musket rounds with enough black powder and paper.” he replied, “Here, four boxes of .500 S&W, eighty rounds.”

He handed me the boxes and I put them in my camo jacket’s front pockets.

“Oh and you dropped this.” Mom said as he handed me my hat.

“Thanks Ma.” I replied with a smile as I took it from her and slipped it on.

I opened the first box and replaced the spent down with a fresh one. Once I flicked the cylinder back in, I was ready to find the way out of that place.

“Let’s go.” I said with a mild growl.

The silver dragon that had been cowering up against the wall took that time to run for it. Sam saw the motion, turned, aimed and fired her .22 target rifle. It wouldn’t penetrate his scales, but she knew that and aimed for the back of his knee. He shouted as he tripped and fell to the ground. He started to scream a lot and I thought,

'I know he’s a sniveling little wimp, but this is just sad.'

I walked over to him and kicked him over. He was clutching at a nice, neat hole in his chest; it looked like acid had burned into him. I just gave him a smirk and told him,

“Well, it looks like you get to be the one that becomes magnificent. Enjoy.”

Mom and Dad both looked at each other in confusion.

“I’ll explain later, let’s move.”

They all just followed me out of the room and into the tunnels. Sam and I took the lead with Mom and Dad covering the rear as we moved deeper into the network of tunnels. I could see just fine due to my draconic eyesight, but everyone one else had to rely on flashlights. Every so often I’d see a shadow slink into a tunnel or disappear deeper into the tunnel ahead.

“I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I think we’re being herded.” I whispered.

“What do we do?” Mom asked.

Sam and I had our airsoft skills which were being severely tested and Dad was military trained, that left Mom the only one that wasn’t used to this as much as the rest of us. She was a good shot and knows her weapons, but when it came to tactical maneuvers she came up short. I sniffed the air to smell our way out.

“Air is coming in from down there.” I said, “Stay close and weapons drawn, shoot at anything that comes at you.”

We would leap frog from one room to the other. Sam and I would move up and secure an entrance, Mom and Dad would move to cover us as we secured the chamber and rinse repeat. Tactical leap frogging, that’s what we call it. I’m sure there’s a real military name for it, but it fits. Not sure why, but they didn’t attack us. The dragons would just fall back when we’d enter a room. I had a sinking feeling they were just setting a trap up ahead and we were walking right for it. A sudden breeze blew through the tunnel from my left. It was a cold breeze so it wasn’t anything breathing, but it felt like a really strong wind blowing. I thought it might be the exit, but the air had a stale, rocky taste to it. It was a breeze that had blown in from a long ways off. I searched the walls and found a large power switch.

“Hey guys,” I said as I looked it over, “I think I’m on to something.”

I flipped the switch and the lights popped on. What I saw was incredible, lights kept popping on down a huge tunnel, miles and miles long till it vanished out of sight. The lights were still going when Sam whistled and said,

“Now that’s a hole.”

“So that’s how they do it.” I breathed

“Do what?” Mom asked.

“How they get around without showing how many of them there are.” I replied, in awe of the shear amount of time and effort it must have taken to construct such a massive tunnel, “They couldn’t just fly around or they’d be spotted. Can’t go up, you go down. They could have massive underground cities down there. Caves below the surface can be huge. Run some tunnels and boom, you got a grade A secret civilization.”

“But wouldn’t they need room to fly and sunlight.” Dad asked, “Living things need sunlight.”

“They probably have a system for that.” said Sam, “Like a time share plan or something.”

“Looks like they modernized, there’s a rail system here.” Mom said, “That flat bed car probably is how they move through these tunnels.”

“All this is just so much.” I said, looking over the tunnel and the transport system, “These guys have been planning this for a very long time to put all this together. I wonder what else these guys have around here.”

“GET THEM!” roared a bronze dragon as he charged into the room.

“FIRE!” Dad bellowed and we all did.

Gun fire and roars mixing into a deafening chaos as the dragons kept pouring into the huge room from the three entrances on the opposite wall of the huge tunnel at our backs. The 12 gauge, the musket and my revolver were the heavy hitting weapons and were doing the maximum damage to them. I’d drop one or wound it and Mom would finish the job with the 12 gauge while Dad reloaded the musket as fast as he could. The musket did a surprising amount of damage, but it was a huge lead slug that slammed into them. There was a slight pause in the fight and we took that to fall back the left tunnel that had stopped producing dragons. It was a running gun battle after that through the dark and dank tunnels with dragons popping out at us. I’d reload and shoot anything that would pop out in front of me while Sam helped Mom and Dad keep the tidal wave of p*ssed off scales at our rear at bay.

“In here!” I shouted as I ducked into a chamber to see if we could by some time.

Sam fired a few shots as I sealed the room closed with a large boulder that was rounded to act as a door. I jammed a few smaller rocks in the trench guide to lock it up.

“That’ll buy us some time.” I said, that being followed by a loud series of thumps against the rock door, “I hope.”

“Hey Eth.” Sam said, “Take a look at this.”

I walked over to find a series of computers. It was some kind of computer control center. I powered one on and began to browse through the files.

“Man, I bet there’s a bunch of information about these dragons on here.” I said as I looked over a few of the text documents, “I’ll grab a copy of this folder here, it looks important.”

The folder in question was in there main folder, but it didn’t look like shipping records, though I grabbed a few of those too, along with a number of other records that might piece together the bigger picture with. I found a blank CD on a shelf and stuck it in the CD drive, quickly starting the copy of the files I wanted.

“Fifteen minutes till the files are copied.” I said the second the estimated time came up.

“Might as well be fifteen years.” Dad said, “That door isn’t going to hold for that long.”

“The drive is doing the best it can.” I said as I began to look around for things to hold the door closed with, “We just need to give it the time.”

We ended up grabbing a few tables and other rocks, Dad and I were pushing a large stone block up against the second door when a green dragon stormed in before we could close it in time. He roared and attacked, fangs bared and ready. I didn’t have time to fire; I just tackled him to the ground and began to beat his muzzle flat. He got a good rake on my left thigh, but I drove my fist hard into his face after I knock the wind out of him with a gut punch. He fell over on the ground on his belly, so I kicked him over and used my heel to crush his draconic face flat.

“Curb stomp.” Sam said, “Nice move, but you’ve played Gears of War too much.”

“It worked, that’s what matters.” I said, getting back to pushing the block into place.

The progress bar ticked by so slowly. I just hoped the copy would be successful and the data was worth the effort and the risk. A few more close calls, but it wasn’t too bad till the first door started to give way.

“The top is getting ready to fall off!” Mom shouted.

I ran over and held it in place with all the strength I could. I gritted my teeth and held on for all I was worth, I could feel the other dragons clawing at the other side. They were just pushing hard to get the stone barrier out of the way as I was trying hard to keep it in place.

“95% complete.” Sam shouted from the computer.

“Just a little longer.” I growled, my claws sinking into the stone.

“There’s an airshaft over here! It’s on the wall at the floor.” Mom said, “It might lead out!”

“Go, I’ll catch up!” I shouted.

“We’re not leaving you here!” Dad bellowed, “Not after all this!”

“This isn’t open for discussion!” I roared back at him, “GO!”

He looked at me in shock, I had never roared at him before. But he could see that I was only trying to make sure they all made it out alive. He joined Mom at the airshaft and they crawled into it. Sam was still at the computer and said,

“Done, I got it.”

“Let’s go!” I shouted and let go of the top of the boulder.

It slid off and crashed to the ground, the cave echoed with sound and made it seem like a crack of thunder only to be drowned out by draconic roars and snarls as they forced their way through the gap and into the room. Sam was already in the airshaft and deep into it and I was almost there. The other dragons were right on my tail as I dove for it and slid into it. It was a good sized vent, but I was just big enough to fit. My wings were scraping over the rocky surface of the vents.

“Thank God I’m a skinny guy.” I said as I crawled.

I caught up to them in the vent. They were going slower up the shaft then I was, but I had claws to dig into the rock, so that helped me out.

“One’s coming up behind us!” Sam shouted, “Oh, thank god. It’s Ethan.”

“Yeah, you should have known I would make it.” I said with a smirk.

“There shaft ends up ahead.” Mom shouted, “It empties into a large hallway.”

“Probably a main air duct.” Dad said, “It will lead to the surface at some point.”

We climbed out of the vent and into the larger air duct.

“This is a very complicated system.” Dad said as he looked it over, “Airshafts, ducts and other such systems all to make this place as habitable as possible.”

“Yeah, these guys sure are nice and cozy.” I replied, “Let’s find a way out before they catch on to where we are.”

The wind blew in from the east, so that’s the way we went. We’d walk by other airshafts and hear the other dragons talking.

“Where are they?” one growled.

“We are sssearching the entire complex massster.” another one hissed.

“The human that ssshot our leader will pay for itsss crime.” snarled the first one.

‘Huh, they think a human shot their leader.’ I thought, ‘They must not know I use a revolver.’

After a while, we rounded a corner and ran straight into a patrol that was sweeping the main air ducts.

“There they are!” one of them growled.

“RUN!” Dad shouted as we turned around and headed back the way we came.

We ran a little ways till I spotted a grating in the floor that lead to another tunnel below us.

“There!” I said as I ran to the vent and ripped it up, “One level down.”

I jumped down first and caught Mom, Dad and Sam as they jumped down after me. Then with a quick sniff, I had the direction of the exit again. It was a fight to get to the end. As we would plow our way down each stretch of tunnel, more dragons would pop out at us and try to kill us. I just kept my revolver loaded and would fire at any hostile dragon I could see. Sam would draw her blade and would slice open a dragon’s neck in one move. She would ram the blade under one of the neck plates and rake it over and out, slashing the neck open and severing the windpipe, major arteries and veins in the process. Quick and not very clean, but the dragon was dead no matter what.

Mom and Dad fought as a team, each covering the other. Mom would slam in 12 gauge rounds and hold the dragons back as Dad would reload the musket and take one of them out. The pump action with slug rounds eventually proved to be effective when dad had to pull that. A silver dragon came at him right in the middle of him reloading his musket, so he pulled the pump action and put three rounds in the charging creature. If fell over dead at his feet and Dad just put more rounds into the shotgun. Mom was no slouch either. The over-and-under and the single shot 12 gauge where firing as fast as she could make them and she aimed for the head. Open jaws, nostrils and eyes were prime targets to drop a dragon fast and she could hit them with pretty regular accuracy.   

Adrenaline made my blood burn in my veins as I quickly put in more rounds. A blue dragon was running right at me, teeth bared and claws ready. I didn’t have time to finish my reload so I flicked it closed and fired my two shots that I had. One hit his right shoulder, the other missed by a foot, but that didn’t matter because when he jumped at me, all I could do was jump right back at him. I crammed my revolver into my jeans pocket and just seconds before we collided, I lowered my shoulder for a heavy blow. My full weight impacted him dead on and we fell to the ground. He racked his claws across my right upper arm and I drove my right claw under one of his upper chest plates. I just ripped the thing off and shoved my claw into the exposed flesh. He howled in pain, but that didn’t last long because I chomped down on his neck with my jaws, crushing his wind pipe and slicing open his jugular vein. Hot blood ran into my mouth and flowed out around my teeth. I just turned him loose just as soon as my claw found his heart and ripped it out. As I stood up and watched him die in agony as he both suffocated and bleed out, both racing to see which one would kill him first, I realized what I had done. I just let out a long growl and tossed the heart away, hearing it splat against the cold rock.

“He brought it on himself.” I growled as I pulled my revolver and reloaded it with bloody claws.

The smell of the blood on me must have warded a few of the more squeamish dragons off. The ones that did attack met a grizzly end by either my revolver or my claws. A gold dragon tried to attack Sam from the side, but I grabbed his neck.

“That’s not very nice.” I snarled as I put my gun barrel right between his yellow eyes.

I just pulled the trigger and tossed his corpse away.

“Eth? You alright?” asked Sam, “You look a bit off.”

“We’re in an underground cave surrounded by dragons that want to kill us.” I said, firing at few more unlucky dragons, “I’ll do what it takes to get all of us out.”

She just warily went back to helping secure our rear flank. I was tired, scared and p*ssed off all at the same time. I had my family to be concerned about and that was motivating me to do anything to prevent any dragon getting past me. I had to be ruthless, there was no other option. It was kill them quickly or we’d all die. It was hell as we slugged our way towards fresh air. When we got to a corner, I noticed it was weak.

“Hold up!” I shouted, “I’m gonna smash this corner down to block them off!”

They all nodded and secured the perimeter. I pounded and kicked the bare rock as hard as I could and it didn’t take long till I heard the rock start to give way. Cracks started forming in the stone and grew up along the wall and over my head on the ceiling.

“RUN!” I roared.

We all bolted down the tunnel and I fired a shot back towards the cracked rock. The tunnel corner collapsed and blocked off the dragons that had been chasing us. The sound of roars and snarls echoed down the tunnel along with the sounds of falling rocks as we rounded another corner and saw daylight. We just ran for it and as soon as we made it out into the glorious sunlight, I felt happier then I had been for a long time. We fell back into the woods and found a nice place to sit and rest.

“That was intense.” Sam said, exhausted.

“I’ve never been more scared in my entire life,” wheezed Mom, “I don’t know about you guys, but I never want to do that again.”

“I’m just glad we all made it.” Dad said, he was tired, but held up better than the rest of us.

I just laid on the ground and looked myself over. My jacket, shirt and pants were ripped and covered in blood, both mine and not mine. My teeth, muzzle and claws were soaked in blood and my knuckles were all cracked and bleeding from punching the rock wall. I couldn’t help it, my breathing was so fast and my chest hurt so badly that I felt sick. Some blood must have gotten down my throat because my stomach felt queasy. I just got up to clear my head and get my bearings, but that made it worse. I stumbled to a tree and propped myself up against it. I felt it coming and there was no stopping it. I threw up right then and there, right on the ground. I felt better till I saw how acidic my stomach acid was. It just ate all the plant life right down to the dirt and even that it burned.

“I’m just dangerous no matter what I do.” I mumbled.

“Ethan, you did what you had to do.” Dad said, “You probably saved us back there. We wouldn’t have stood a chance without you.”

I spun around to face them and shouted,

“Look at me! I’m a monster! I shot and ripped them apart without as much as a hint of regret. I’m battered, beaten and blood soaked. Does that sound like a normal healthy person to you?”

“Yes.” Mom said, “Yes it does. You were put into an extreme situation and that required you to act accordingly. You did all you did to protect your loved ones, to protect us, and that’s not what a monster does. I don’t want to hear you ever call yourself that again. You are not a monster, you are my son and I love you, we all do. No matter what, this family sticks together and you have shown you care by what you did back there. You have a heart, they don’t.”

“She’s right Eth.” said Sam, “No monster would do all you have done and that includes our escape. You protected us. We came there to save you and you ended up saving us. Those creatures back there may be of the same species as you, but they’re the monsters, not you. Sometimes in life we have to walk in the shadow to save the light.”

I just stood there, on the verge of tears. After all I did, all the acts of ruthlessness I committed, they still stood by my side.

“I couldn’t let anything happen to you guys.” I sobbed, “I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. I’m lost without my family.”

They all came over and wrapped their arms around me. I just hugged them back as best I could, using my wings to fill in the gaps.

“You did what was necessary to protect us.” Dad said, “That’s all you did.”

I was so thankful to still have my families support, I was afraid that seeing me like that would cause them to reject me.

“I can tell you I don’t regret my actions back there.” I said as they let go and I wiped my snout with my shirt sleeve, “The reason is because if I didn’t do them, we’d all be dead.”

“We understand.” Mom said, “I know you didn’t like to be put in that situation, nobody would. From something like that, there’s always trauma. When we get out of here and back to safety, don’t bottle this up like you normally do. I want you to go talk to a psychiatrist and don’t tell me you’ll be fine because you won’t. You’ll let it eat away at you till you explode with anger at something tiny that’ll finish the job.”

“If it’ll make you feel better Ma, then okay. I’ll do it for you.” I replied.

She just nodded and we sent out to find the trucks. Dad had a map and a compass so he led us through the woods. I just thought about what it was going to be like from then on. I had never been pushed so far before and I had defaulted to my teeth and claws for the first time. What really got me was the fact I had tasted blood for the first time. I was worried I would get a taste for it, but all I felt was disgusted by it. It was a nice relief to know that. I still had my limits, but if the situation called for it, I was not a pushover.

Before long, we found a trail. By the looks of it, it was a well worn park trail. We followed it to a camp ground and Dad used that to guild us back to where the trucks were parked. A park ranger stopped us when he saw me and how bloody I was.

“What happened and why do you have all those firearms?” he said loudly, he looked like he wasn’t too worried about my health, but more like what happened to his precious park.

“You have a dragon infestation up in those hills.” Dad told him, “You might want to call that in.”

“What, you brought one down to prove it?” he shot back.

“No, he’s our son and he nearly got killed back there, as is the case for the rest of us.” Mom fired back at him, “Now you do something constructive and stop being stupid. People could be hurt so tell your superiors that you have found a collection of hostile dragons. You might just get your sorry butt promoted for this.”

He just walked off in a huff, my guess he didn’t like being talked to like that. We were all too tired to care; we just walked to the parking lot where the GMC and the Ford were. When I saw that red truck, I was overjoyed.

“You never really appreciate something to you come so close to losing it.” I said as I walked up to her and put a claw on her hood.

“Let’s go home.” Mom said as Dad unlocked the GMC.

My keys were still in my pocket, so I just unlocked her doors and climbed in. It just felt nice to sit in a place I felt comfortable in after what I had just gone through. I shut my eyes and just went off of memory of where the ignition was; my claw found it without needed my eyes to guide it. Just the sound of her engine took a lot of my stress away. Sam climbed into the passenger seat just after I starter the Ford up. After opening my eyes, I put her in reverse and back out of the parking space.

“You know Eth,” said Sam, “You really showed off some serious draconic muscle back there.”

I just nodded, shifted the Ford into drive and followed the GMC towards home.

“I’m just so used to the laid back guy you normally are that when I see you angry and going full bore at someone; it’s a bit of a shock.”

“You know that it’s a rare thing.” I replied solemnly, “It takes a lot to push me.”

“I noticed.” she said, “It took being threatened with losing you mind and being sent to kill your family to push you over the edge.”

My heart sank and I replied,

“You heard that?”

“I was in position just about half way into the blue dragon’s transformation.” she said sadly, “When I saw that I just knew there was no room for error. When I heard that prick was going to send you to kill us, I got so mad that I really wanted to just kill him, but I couldn’t let them turn you into one of those battle dragons. I’m glad that b*st*rd brought it.”

“I have a feeling it’s not over.” I said, still feeling a bit on edge, “We may have just riled up the hornets’ nest.”

“If that’s true, then we’ve made them show their hand.” said Sam, “If they call now and they don’t have the cards to beat us, then we’ve done a good thing.”

“And what if we don’t have the trump cards?” I asked, still looking at the road ahead.

“Then we get to see what we really are made of.” she replied, “Nothing worth fighting for is ever easy to obtain. It takes sweat, blood and determination to get anything worth the effort. As far as I know, we got these scaly a**holes in the bag, no offence.”

“None taken,” I replied with a smirk, “I’m not one of them. I may be a dragon, but I consider myself a new breed of dragon. A modern dragon and that means I deal with life as it is today. They’re old dragons that are desperately trying to turn back the clock. They call me clingy for holding onto my life; they’re clinging to a way of life that’s centuries or even millennia old.”

“It’s never going to happen.” said Sam, “The cat’s out of the bag with the modern age and so is the existence of dragons. We all have things to sort out and they’re just going to have to deal with it. We all live on this big spinning ball of dirt so we might as well all learn to at least tolerate each other.”

“Well, I sure hope that one day the dragons under these guys will wake up and realize that their leaders are morons.” I said.

“One can only hope.” she replied, “Maybe the a** whooping we handed them today will show them that they can’t win in a show of force, that they might just have to swallow their pride and come off their high horse. Humans got them beat and with more and more dragons coming back home to their family and friends, an assault on us will no longer work.”

“Indeed. You still have that CD?” I asked her.

“Right here.” She replied with a smile, pulling out the CD case from her SWAT jacket pocket.

“Good. That disk may just give us some answers we need to tell what they are up too.” I said.

“Well here’s hoping that it’s good news on this disk.” she said, putting it away again.

“I’m glad that I still have my life.” I told her, “Even if it’s been a roller coaster since I found that stone. It’s still my life and I’ll live it as best I can and do what I want to do with it.”

“Life is a roller coaster Eth.” she said with a smile, “Enjoy the ride.”

I just smiled and shook my head. It was a long ways back home, but we made it. Sam and Dad helped me treat my wounds. The hydrogen peroxide in the deep cuts and gashes stung, I ended up having to hold a two by four on my claws to squeeze when Dad would put it in there with a Q-tip.

“You ready.” he asked as he loaded up Q-tip number fourteen.

“Yeah, just do it quick okay?” I replied.

He just stuck it in the wound and raked it over the damaged flesh. I could feel the burn and hear the bubbling. I hissed and snarled, wringing that two by four so much it started to fray and splinter. It was the sheer number of wounds that made it hard. All across my arms and legs, some on my neck and face, quite a few on my wings, some on my tail and the worst ones were on my hands. They weren’t deeper, just hand more nerves in them and my knuckles had seen better days. Rock doesn’t have much give in it. Once the bandages were on and I was all patched up, looking like a dragon mummy in the process, I finally laid down for a rest.
Here's Part 32, the first half of the two part series finale. I hope you guys enjoy it.

Story is (C) to me.
Characters are (C) to me
Setting is (C) to me.

Next-------->[link]

Previous------>[link]

Edit* The "mind link" isn't a new power, but a running inside joke with a group of my friends and Sam's never ending desire to mess with my head. The rest of that will be explained in the next part, but to just ease the confusion I'll tell you this much. Sam is evil and likes to screw with peoples minds, especially mine.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconmythical-legend:
we're going to need a few more M134 fully loaded with a small loan of a few million dollars worth of NATO rounds

with a side of swarm missiles

I just love the smell of american weapons in the morning.
Reply
:icongainerguy123:
Gainerguy123 Featured By Owner Edited Jul 7, 2016
Sweat, blood, and determination...

*THE HIERARCHY IS PREPARING THEIR ATTACK

*YOU ARE FILLED WITH DETERMINATION

*(HP FULLY RESTORED, YOU HOPE)
Reply
:iconboomboss11:
boomboss11 Featured By Owner May 8, 2017
no... just no....
Reply
:iconglitchmaster88:
glitchmaster88 Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2016  Student
WAIT. I SEE A LINK TO CONTINUE THE STORY!!!!!!!! OMG I LOVE YOU!!!! *Hugs Farm*
Reply
:iconanthrolover5000:
Anthrolover5000 Featured By Owner May 4, 2016
I can't stand censoring words and the lack of quotation marks. Sorry, I had to say it.
Reply
:iconfecyrineu:
FeCyrineu Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2016
"Sometimes in life we have to walk in the shadow to save the light"
I heard something similar. "We work in the dark to serve the light". Where is it from?
Reply
:iconfecyrineu:
FeCyrineu Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2016
I remembered, it's from Assasin's Creed.
Reply
:iconglitchmaster88:
glitchmaster88 Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2016  Student
It is also like the wings of fire prophecy: Darkness will rise to bring the light
Reply
:iconfecyrineu:
FeCyrineu Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2016
Sam Ex Machina
Reply
:icondarkhogdarkhogini:
DarkhogDarkhogini Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
You might want to give up on hydrogen peroxide. Studies showed that wounds treated with it heals longer.
Reply
:iconboomboss11:
boomboss11 Featured By Owner May 8, 2017
yeah get the real stuff, bleach. just pour it all in there
Reply
:icondarkhogdarkhogini:
DarkhogDarkhogini Featured By Owner May 9, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
No, the correct way is to not pour anything at all.
Reply
:iconboomboss11:
boomboss11 Featured By Owner May 9, 2017
oh i get it, oxidize the bleach and inhale the fumes, no pouring required
Reply
:iconlink-evils-bane:
link-evils-bane Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2014
The"mind link" can work just not to that extent just being able to predict what's going to happen next say between your parents from what I've experienced
Reply
:iconlink-evils-bane:
link-evils-bane Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2014
Grub not curb
Reply
:iconguybronson:
GuyBronson Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Gorn
Reply
:iconprimusomega:
PrimusOmega Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
TOTAL DOMINATION!!!!
Reply
:iconunnamedwolf15:
unnamedwolf15 Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2011
Dude your sister is epic man that's all I can say.
Reply
:iconreaperion:
reaperion Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2015
agreed
Reply
:iconhologuardian:
Hologuardian Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2011
That was an amazing ending. Also... Listening to the indian jones theme song while your escaping jsut made it a lot more epic! ^.=.^

Probably my favorite line fo the entire series, "“Life is a roller coaster Eth.” she said with a smile, “Enjoy the ride.”"
Reply
:iconhologuardian:
Hologuardian Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2011
>.=.> I totally thought this was the end.. I noticed the link that it keeps going... heh.
Reply
:iconsuper-mutant-dragon:
Super-Mutant-Dragon Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2010
Sam is an Uber ninja!
Reply
:iconfarm-fresh:
Farm-Fresh Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Indeed. ^.=.^
Reply
:icondijin777:
dijin777 Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
awssssssssssome dude i kept sssssssssscreaming go sssssssam go... can u sssssssend me a link to the next part... ssssssssomeone needsssssssss to make a movie out of thisssss
Reply
:iconfarm-fresh:
Farm-Fresh Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Here you go. [link]

I must have forgotten to post it in the comments. What's with the hiss?
Reply
:icondijin777:
dijin777 Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
why not with the hissssssssssssss. itssssssss kinda fun
Reply
:iconfarm-fresh:
Farm-Fresh Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Its also a little unsettling, but its your call.
Reply
:icondijin777:
dijin777 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
now dont juge me here but is there a chance that yr story might b tru
Reply
:iconfarm-fresh:
Farm-Fresh Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
How so?
Reply
:iconboomboss11:
boomboss11 Featured By Owner May 8, 2017
if it were true, i may start a "rock" collection
Reply
:icontalonair:
Talonair Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2010
I agree with dijin, all legends come from somewhere, as I am sure I have already said
Reply
:iconfarm-fresh:
Farm-Fresh Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Well I don't know about that. I'm just telling my story. ^.=.^
Reply
(1 Reply)
:icondijin777:
dijin777 Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
i jussssssst thought you might like a bit of that if it realy bothersssssss you jusssssst tell me and i will ssssssssstop. but i perssssssssssonaly feel like hisssssssssssssing.
Reply
:iconfarm-fresh:
Farm-Fresh Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Its your call man, I just like to speak plainly.
Reply
:iconplayerarc:
PlayerArc Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
Well if I ever get transformed into a dragon, I'll speak without the @#$%ing hissing!
Reply
:icondijin777:
dijin777 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
ah................ hey u ever play world of warcraft reign of chaos
Reply
:iconfarm-fresh:
Farm-Fresh Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
No, I have not.
Reply
:iconcooltime17:
cooltime17 Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
evil sisters, not nice, but they make good alies if the arn't... i don't know bad dosen't make scences, full on is probly better, just for get this.

I guess you showed them what they where getting
Reply
:iconfarm-fresh:
Farm-Fresh Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Indeed. Sam is a lot to deal with, but has pluses too.

Yes I did.
Reply
:iconcooltime17:
cooltime17 Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
:)
Reply
:iconfarm-fresh:
Farm-Fresh Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
^.=.^
Reply
:icontalonair:
Talonair Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2010
Well, all I have to say about Sam: Badass. Seriously, killing entire patrols of dragons? :P
Reply
:iconfarm-fresh:
Farm-Fresh Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks, she can do it too. ^.=.^
Reply
:icontalonair:
Talonair Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2010
right, remind me to go on her team
Reply
:iconfarm-fresh:
Farm-Fresh Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Indeed.
Reply
:iconritoku:
Ritoku Featured By Owner May 27, 2010
This was an intense chapter! Glad you made it out of there.
Reply
:iconfarm-fresh:
Farm-Fresh Featured By Owner May 27, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks man. I am too. ^.=.^
Reply
:icontatharnuar:
TatharNuar Featured By Owner May 26, 2010
I had to stop several times in the first part of this one. I managed to get myself scared out of my mind that the battle dragon thing was going to happen to me and scream at the back of my mind for some way to stop it from happening.

My guess is that it thought I was being stupid because nothing came up. And then nothing had to.
Reply
:iconfarm-fresh:
Farm-Fresh Featured By Owner May 27, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
You really have been sucked into this story haven't you? You started to try and think of ways to save yourself. ^.=.^
Reply
:icontatharnuar:
TatharNuar Featured By Owner May 27, 2010
I tend to when there's a dragon involved. It's silly most of the time, but sometimes it helps me refine my plan.
Reply
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