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BLACKEST BLOODLUST

The small group of dragons flew loosely together. All the others had gone in separate directions in search of opportunity to satisfy their hunger. Fueled bloodlust and hate they didn’t fully understand, they searched for their destiny. It seemed an eternity in the blackness, never having known the surface of the planet where their ancestors had lived.

They had accumulated great speed but they didn’t realize it was a different type of flight from those their ancestors had experienced back on the surface of the planet where their race was born many generations before. Having not thought about it they didn’t even realize there was another kind of flight. They didn’t know it would be different within an atmosphere or with gravity.

Looking for a place to rest their wings and sleep some they take rest on a small rock floating through the blackness. Faint memory of previous generations told them that this was called an ‘asteroid’ in the language of their creators. It was small, barely large enough for the three of them. Not understanding that their roars weren’t supposed to be silent they settled in to rest. The edge of anxiousness made their sleep fitful and short before something jerked them awake.

They stood and looked around instantly when their senses suddenly sprang to life with the realization that they were no longer alone in the blackness. Then they saw it, leaping into flight without hesitation they headed for the metal rock. Something was different about this rock. Somehow they knew it was their purpose to find out what it was. Somehow they knew they had to investigate and satisfy their curiosity.

*****

The alarms sounded. Antrel leaped from the game of Glosrah he was engrossed in and raced to the nearest interface room. The flurry of activity distracted him only momentarily but he soon found a seat and slipped his fingers into the thick foamy solution used to interface with the ship. Instantly a virtual screen appeared in front of his face as he gave the ship commands via the visual receptors implanted at birth. The ship reported that they had been boarded externally but the integrity of the ship was still intact. He fired a probe to get a visual feed of what was on the outside of the ship.

Panic ensued all around him as he worked to determine the cause of the alarms. Then he saw it. The creature was unlike anything he’d ever seen but was obviously a formidable opponent should it prove to be aggressive. As he sat studying the creature, making note of the physical attributes, he felt both excitement and fear at this contact. The others had made their own discoveries. He switched over to the other probes that had been launched to see more of what they were facing and simultaneously turned off the screeching alarm. Then his stomach sank at what he saw and fear overtook him, but only for a moment.

He watched frozen in place for only a moment as one of the creatures literally RIPPED the outter shell of the ship open with his claws. Their shields were designed to protect the ship from asteroids, floating debris and both projectile and energy weapons. They hadn’t been designed to repel a biological intruder. Too late Antrel had the brief realization that this was a major flaw in their defenses. He was both awestruck and dismayed at the ease at which the creature shredded the metal shell of the ship. As he flipped back through the other probes it occurred to him that this was a coordinated attack. “Halshnirk! We’re under attack!!”, he cried before sounding the alert to arms, knowing these creatures would be difficult to combat.

Antrel joined his shipmates and friends to stop this intrusion. Grabbing up his Vlantoi he ran towards the nearest intrusion point. The shouts of anger and haste followed him down the corridor while the screams of pain and fear awaited him somewhere up ahead. The corridor was full, from side to side, with his comrades eager to join in the defense of their ship. Then they heard it and all stopped dead in their tracks. They heard it again and again, coming from around the next bend in the corridor.

The loud, crashing footsteps of massive armored feet and deafening roars of a hate filled bloodlust echoed through the ship. Antrel began to inch forward again, followed closely by the others, but quickly stopped and began to search the faces of those around him when he caught scent of the death ahead. The fear grew in their eyes as they paused in growing hesitation to move forward. Rallying the others with a war cry as loud as he could muster he turned towards the noises and scent of death, readied his weapon as he had been trained from birth and charged into battle. He took one last glimpse back, seeing those following him and realizing he was leading many of them to their deaths.

*****

The dragons regarded each other’s reactions as they landed on and examined this object. They noted the slight vibrations and the smooth surface. Testing the new object they stomped on it, pawed at it, scratched it, but no reaction. “So whatever it is, it not alive” thought one of the dragons.

They continued to eye the various surface features which resembled what they somehow knew to be types of antennae and communications dishes and determined that this must have been built by those who had created them. The three of them, almost simultaneously, became angry at the thought that they had found more of those who had imprisoned their ancestors. And then they attacked, furiously.

The object seemed to have no defenses. Their claws pierced right through the metal skin of the object. They barely noticed the small orbs floating around them as if watching them. They did however notice the scent of biological, living creatures from within the object as they ripped small pieces from it and flung them into space. That smell was the smell of meat! That smell was the smell of food!

Further fueled by their hunger they shredded large areas of the objects surface in their attempt to gain access to the interior. The atmosphere of the interior of the object had a faint greyish tinge to it as it vented itself to space through the small openings they had created. Slowly they managed to make those small openings larger and larger.

Screams and the sounds of panic could be heard from inside the object by the dragons. Their drive to gain entry peaked thinking it was those they hated so much. With one final mighty yank a portion of the metallic skin large enough for them to enter was wrenched free from the surface and the first dragon dove through into a long wide hallway.

The other two dragons soon gained entry in the same fashion. Ripping and tearing at the surface until they could fit through the openings. The venting atmosphere felt strangely odd when it was felt against their eyes and nostrils but didn’t hurt at all. It was thicker than outside somehow and had a faint taste they weren’t familiar with. Each paused for a moment taking in the layout and the sights around them before suddenly being attacked.

They fought back somewhat confused about what was attacking them. They had a vague resemblance to those they remembered from their ancestry, those who had imprisoned them and murdered their kin. They were different however and briefly it occurred to each that this was not the same race that oppressed them. By the time they realized they had mistakenly attacked the wrong creatures it was too late, they had already done the damage and had to fight back to save their own lives at the very least.

The dragons struggled to understand how these creatures could be so similar to the others and yet so different. “Were they the same race?” they wondered. Quietly taking notice of the physical differences they decided they must be. They were shorter and thinner. The arms and legs were longer. The facial features were different. The beings were obviously well muscled but the smaller size made them seem to be more vulnerable than the others. “They must be the same race. Or at least from the same lineage.” They thought. “They ARE related to the others, they must be! We must kill them! Dragons will not be prisoners again. We must kill them all!”

Expecting it to be silent, one dragon let out a mighty roar. Shocked at his own dominating voice he roared again and again and then heard his kin elsewhere in the ship. Hearing their voices for the first time he felt the pride of his entire race well up inside him. Setting aside the confusion and contemplation he attacked.

Silently amused by the weapons of these creatures bouncing off his armored skin he snatched any who ventured too closely in his claws or teeth and ripped them to shreds. Devouring pieces of torn flesh when the chance to do so presented itself, he continued his leisurely assault on these beings. He was only slightly aware of the mild discomfort and momentary loss of physical prowess each time one of their blades contacted his body. Not giving it much thought or even understanding the implications of those sensations he would have no way of knowing that those weapons would be the basis for a weapon much more effective than that the others had used on his ancestors.

*****

Rounding the corner in the hallway, Antrel was nearly knocked from his feet by the torso of one of his comrades flying through the air. He sidestepped just far enough that the dismembered corpse glanced off his shoulder as he twisted his body to the side. Faintly aware of the warriors behind him scattering to avoid the gruesome projectile as well he crouched in a stance of attack, readied his weapon and prepared himself to join in the melee.

The shock of the gory scene he was seeing was nothing compared to that creature that was causing the carnage. The destruction was unbelievable but as his eyes fell on the creature he felt the fear reaffirm its grip on his heart and mind. Almost losing his footing in the blood stained floor in his momentary pause he steadied himself and ran toward the creature, weapon raised, yelling a war cry that seemed to him to sound more like a shriek of terror.

He pulled an old friend, his private teacher in fact, back just before the creature’s claws could tear him in two. Looking into the other’s eyes he could see the same fear he felt deep within himself. Standing he pushed the old teacher to the back, towards a somewhat safer position, and took his place. Eyeing the creature carefully, he scanned for a weak spot. He saw none.

As he dodged flying body parts, gore and pieces of shrapnel from the ship around him he saw blow after blow after blow of the other’s weapons’ failing to even scratch the creature. In fact, they seemed to fail to do anything except make it angrier. The sheer intensity of the creature’s rage and hatred was overwhelmingly awesome. Then, in the blink of an eye, the creature was in front of him. The massiveness of this creature nearly caused his legs to buckle under him. His hand shook as he drew his weapon between himself and the creature as menacingly as possible.

The skin looked more like thick scaly armor plates. The body was solid and extremely muscled. He couldn’t tell the span of the wings with them folded neatly on the creature’s back but it didn’t matter. The dangerous parts were the six inch long, obviously finely honed claws and rows of teeth glistening with the blood of the dead all around him.

It occurred to him that this creature was designed specifically for this, specifically to kill. The teeth alone seemed to be engineered for the act of ripping things to shreds. As he desperately searched for some weakness, some place not as heavily armored as the rest, the creature opened its massive jaw, bellowed a mighty roar that shook the walls, and lunged forward. Without thinking, Antrel thrust his weapon. He struck. To his surprise the blade felt as if it penetrated. He thrust harder, pushing the blade home, until he felt something on his arm.

When he opened his eyes he realized it was the creature’s teeth. He had plunged his weapon through the roof of the creature’s mouth and presumably into its brain. There was a look of disbelief in the creature’s eyes. The electrical discharge from his weapon popped and sizzled in the soft flash of the creatures mouth as he watched its body contort and convulse. Antrel found himself momentarily feeling sorry for the creature as it came to the shaky realization of what had happened but the guilt at having taken a life quickly subsided as the cheer went up around him. In that moment the creature’s life gave out and it collapsed.

His arm was cut by the teeth as the creature fell but Antrel gladly took this minor injury instead of the alternative. He looked around at the survivors of the battle. He saw sadness, triumph, fear and grief but mostly, mostly he saw disbelief. They all took a collective breath of relief at the sight of the creature lying dead on the floor. And then they heard it. From somewhere in a distant corridor another of the creatures roared. Antrel drew a fearful gasp as yet another from another direction answered with a roar of his own. Again he broke into a run, some of the others following him, the rest presumably heading for the other roars. The sounds of the roars, the alarms, the atmosphere being sucked past them to the breaches in the ship’s skin all made the moment deafening. “Why”, he thought? “Why are they attacking us? What have we done?”

*****

As the door opened into the long room Antrel and the others were hit with dismay at the destruction and death toll. This battle had been much worse than theirs. The bodies of his friends and companions were piled high all around them. Body parts and dismembered body parts lay everywhere. Blood and internal organs were splattered over every surface in the room.

The creature was perched atop a pile of torn and broken bodies looking directly at them as they entered. It seemed unimpressed and uninterested as it gulped down bite after bite of fresh meat. The sight of the creature’s meal was enough to cause many of the warriors to double over in uncontrollable vomiting. Frozen in place, unable to process the severity of loss within this room, they stood and stared. After what seemed to them to be an eternity the creature raised its head and looked them over with renewed interest. They could see the gleam in its eye that could only be described as psychotic and murderous.

In that instant the creature stood on its hind legs, spread his wings and flexed his claws towards them. Showing his teeth, dripping with the blood of its victims, it roared. Loud enough to hurt their ears the all instinctively took a step back, bracing themselves for the attack and ensuing battle. Each fearing they didn’t have enough left in them after the last battle to put down another of these creatures.

As Antrel raised his weapon and began looking for a way to bury it into the creature’s mouth as he had done to its companion, a kerl flew past his head close enough that he felt the breeze of its flight. Looking back over his shoulder he saw Sorn already preparing another to be loosed.

The screeching roar of pain from the creature snapped his attention back forward in time to see it fall lifeless to the floor, the kerl protruding through the teeth at an odd angle. “Nice shot Sorn!” he said. “Lucky shot, just like yours Antrel”, was the reply.

With that they broke into an exhausted jog, side by side, heading for where they presumed yet another creature would be. They were cautious but both knew the urgency required at this particular moment. They had to find what they hoped would be the last of these creatures.

Then the ship suddenly shuddered. They both almost fell, slamming into walls, as the whole ship seemed to list to the side. “What the Halshnirk was that”, screamed Antrel. They didn’t know that the wounds they had inflicted on the creatures had in fact pierced the organ within their throats and mouths that produced the acidic compound that caused the burned and melted damage they had seen. They didn’t know that this acid had been oozing out of the bodies, slowing eating its way through the ship. They didn’t know that it had found its way to the outer walls of the ship having burned through both a series of control systems AND at least one major propulsion component. They didn’t know that this damage had released a toxic gas into the ship and that many of the survivors were already dead.

They forced themselves back to their feet and moved forward down the hall sure that there was yet another battle just beyond the next hatch. As the door slid open they caught only a glimpse of the creature leaping out through a huge hole in the ceiling. They barely got the door closed again before they were sucked out with it as the atmosphere was pulled into space.

The ship shuddered again. They raced to the main control room knowing they had to determine for sure if all the creatures were gone. The leapt through the door to the control room and stood silently in dismay yet again. Not believing what they were seeing Sorn collapsed. Thinking it was the exhaustion from the battle Antrel continued, noticing that the bodies here weren’t dismembered or crushed. There was no damage to the room. There was no destruction. There was no carnage. There was nothing to explain why everyone in the room was dead.

Antrel put it out of his head momentarily, thinking he could figure it out later. He busied himself sealing off the damaged areas and then felt his heart sink once again with the discovery of why everyone here was dead. He tried his best to vent the poisonous gas but it was all over the ship.

He didn’t know the ships automatic recall had been tripped with the hull integrity alarms. He didn’t know the ships course had changed and was now heading for his own world. He didn’t know that the creature that had escaped had laid eggs on board. He didn’t know what was in store for his race. His last thought as he collapsed to the floor, taking his dying breath, was that his friend hadn’t collapsed from exhaustion, he was dead.

Here is an excert from my new book, “What Have We Done?  The Dragon Chronicles”… For more about my book check out the official website for it at http://www.wix.com/baileyconsortium/whwd

*****

KILL

Draco flew into the air, high above the surface of the water. Swooping down again, rolling, turning as sharp as he could, he reveled in the new found joy of free flight, not contained by the walls of the wind tunnel where he had learned this skill. For several minutes he tested the true boundaries of his capabilities, immensely enjoying the freedom of being in open air. Then he turned and headed inland.

Below he could hear the screams of someone caught unaware and unprepared. With a satisfaction he had only recently learned he knew that one of his kin had found an adversary. “Too bad humans don’t put up more of a fight.” he thought to himself, humored by the thought and the anticipation of his first kill in this new world.

As he flew he saw his brothers landing on and attacking small buildings. The buildings didn’t look big enough to contain many people so he passed them by, even the ones that had not yet been attacked. Occasionally he circled overhead watching one of his kin tear its way into one of these secluded buildings, relishing the sounds of their victims dying in terror.

After only a few minutes he came to a collection of many small buildings. He saw several vehicles that looked similar in size to the one he had seen in the tunnel but these had round object under them enabling them to move about. Draco didn’t consider these vehicles long enough to figure out how they moved or how the humans controlled them, he was too intent on destroying this place.

The humans didn’t even see him in the dim light of the new day until he had swooped down to just above their heads. Once or twice he picked up victims that were stupid enough to stand and stare at him, rose to a height that made the buildings look like small blocks and dropped his victims to their death.

He made a game out of swooping in front of the vehicles, sometimes slashing at their metal bodies with his claws, causing them to swerve and crash into buildings and other vehicles. After he ‘played’ for a few minutes he came to rest on the surface where the vehicles moved, between two large buildings.

Only a few small lights illuminated the building on one side of him. The other had large picture windows fully lit with bright lights from inside. Draco looked at the many occupants of this building for a moment before crashing through the window and grabbing everyone within reach. As he tore, slashed, crushed and dismembered the people cowering with fear around him he heard other dragons attacking the other buildings outside.

Draco ripped his way through the walls into the kitchen area in search of more victims. The few he found attempting to hide there he quickly dispatched with fast, intentional efforts. Less than ten minutes later Draco returned to the front of the building. Looking around he found that most of the buildings had been destroyed, dead human bodies were everywhere and the others were rejoicing with loud bellowing roars and dances that consisted of jumping and flapping their wings.

Then something caught his eye. Draco saw a person crouching low behind a small wall trying to get to the door of the building opposite him. He launched into a low flight, reaching the person with such speed that he slammed into the front wall of the building hard enough to knock a large hole in the wall and collapse the overhanging portion of the building above him.

Standing upright under the weight of the collapsed structure Draco reached out and grabbed the fleeing man as he turned to run. He stepped forward clear of the debris and jumped into the air, flying to the peak of another building where he came to rest.

He turned the man in his claws to face him, terrorizing the human by snapping his teeth just inches from his face. Draco smelled the scent of fear and defecation as the man lost control of his bodily functions. His victim tried to strike back at Draco by wildly swinging his fists and kicking his feet, flailing at the creatures face whenever he was near enough. Each time Draco pulled his face back out of range of the human’s pitiful attempts at defending himself before he could make contact. The human in his claws didn’t have the presence of mind to realize that his attempts to beat the creature into releasing him would have had no affect anyway.

He held the man over his head and with the speed of a cheetah caught the lower portion of a dangling leg in his teeth. The man let out a shriek, which quickly turned to a screech of pain when he wrenched it free from the rest of his body. One by one Draco bit off small pieces of the man’s appendages, spitting each to the ground below where the man could see them, until the human passed out from the pain and blood loss. Satisfied that he had tortured his capture as much as he could he let out a mighty roar and threw the remainder of the body to the street with sufficient force to crush the skull on impact, as well as most other major bones.

Draco had become still, quiet, watching his surroundings as the daylight became brighter and his companions took to flight in search of more victims. Minutes later he still watched quietly, waiting to see if anyone else came into view. No one did, they were all dead. After a full half hour Draco was satisfied that no one survived. He was unaware that a large group of humans hid in the building he had slammed into and partially collapsed. He didn’t realize he had been only a few feet from several more cowering, terrified humans when he had grabbed that man who he had mercilessly tortured. Thinking that he wanted only to continue his revenge he jumped from the road, swooped down and flew a few hundred feet just above the surface of the ground and then gain altitude until he was flying high overhead once again. He headed inland, away from the water that burned his eyes and throat, away from the place that had been his prison and towards the many unsuspecting victims that awaited their deaths by his vengeance.