The Dragon Star (Short Story)

The following story was written as part of an exercise to mash up two story motifs, one being “Star Wars” and the other, the Dreamwork’s franchise , “How to Train Your Dragon” . I wrote this story as an exercise for Chuck Wendig’s blog website. I hope you enjoy, please feel free to critique/etc via comments.

The Dragon Star

by Rand Dyke

Captain Vic Vincer looked out to the stretch of ocean in front of him. For now, the clouds were dead and the cold wind was only a memory of yesterday. Across the inland ocean, the clear blue water sat in glass sheets of stillness as far as he could see. Good flying weather, he thought as he stood on the constructed metal landing pad complex.

Between the pad and the distant mountains was nearly a thousand parsocs of open sea.  As late afternoon blossomed, a lone sun sparkled over his head. Next to the blinding light, the white moon Doron and misshapen Flagon dwarfed below. For a moment, the view reminded him of Jabusco, his home planet, hundreds of light years away.Yet, Vic knew the planet Vrykos was certainly something special, something worth fighting for.

Truthfully, the star over his head was even more special. Murkos, they called her. As the war shaped out, she was a pivotal system in the Alliance’s war against an evil machine. In fact, the creeping advances of the Black Empire wanted the celestial devil like nothing else.

As Vic turned his view to the makeshift landing pads set in the sea, fifteen squadrons of Talon class fighters were lined up ready for the launch. Next to them, huge canon mounts and shielding units protected the distant city in the Mountain beyond. For what Vic knew was coming,Talons, cannons, and the Alliance presence was hardly anything more than a bunch of fleas for a dog to scratch, and Vic didn’t like being a flea.

“Tell me the locals are going to come through,” Vic asked the white armored trooper standing next to him.

A stout and square shouldered trooper, Pad Commander Plo-Frawn looked long and hard at Vic between checks of his data pad. Frawn lifted off the top of his white helmet and revealed a chiseled face that spoke bluntly of war. As he took a sniff of the fresh air, he gave his usual scowl and smirk to Vic. To be blunt, Frawn was not pretty to look at. He was scarred now beyond words with a head of patchwork nicks and scrapes capped off with a short red Mohawk. Really, he had been fighting the Black Empire for a long time now and had earned every one of his scars.

“Just keep your fighters in the air and make sure the Jackstars stay occupied,” he said with his thick scratchy accent. Without much couth, Frawn spit a wad of gross lougie down to the water below.

“Vincer, I know you ran spice before all of this war business went down. Made a nice living running from guys like me. You probably ripped past places like Vrykos running rum half cocked on Krug juice. But this is for real now. This is somebody’s home. You see those blokes down there?” Frawn asked as he pointed to the loading docks.

Down below, several of the raggedy local folks were loading rockets and fueling the fighters as the Talon ships idled on the deck. One woman, a pretty girl with flaming red locks, turned to look at Vic when Frawn pointed her way. Frawn is right, Vic thought. He could tell, the look in her eyes was one of desperation and loss.

“This is their home, mate. They’re counting on us. Which means they got everything to lose. Now, tell me, do these folks look like they’re going to let us down?” Frawn asked as he put his helmet back on.

##

Vraetela set the tube inside the fighter’s access spicket and flipped the toggle to flood the tank. Carefully, she could hear the rush of kyrlon flow as the activation sequence began. As she wiped a bead of sweat from her red hair, the girl covered her nose as she caught a hard whiff of the concentrated fuel. She always hated to get stuck with fuel duty.

Oddly, she saw the two soldiers above point at her. One was a handsome pilot she had seen before, he often smiled and winked at her. Truthfully, she liked him a little.  Next to him, the other was an armored trooper. His armor was marked with several colored chevrons of the Alliance infantry. “The Commander” they called him. She knew him as well, but he usually kept his helmet on and ordered folks around. She was new to this pad, but Vraetela guessed he was some sort of leader.

“Pay attention to those ‘fightas and mind your tube’s, girl!” Haggler said as he stepped through with a battery for the blaster pods. The old man was the crew chief for Vraetela’s repair team.

“When are the Murks set to arrive, Haggler?” Vraetela asked.

“Hah, the Murks?”  Haggler replied, somewhat caught off guard. Carefully, he set the box in its corresponding slot. “You’re a good lass, now. I sure needed a laugh. I don’t know, hopefully sooner than later, I can smell those empire hyper drives popping in, this place will be crawlin’ with Jackstars like lettuce gnats before we bed down tonight,”

“That doesn’t sound good,” She answered as she undid the attachment clamps on the tube and moved to the next fighter.

“Just let the Commander worry about ‘dem Murks, they’ll be here. But ‘fer now, we’ll use these fighters. Maybe they’ll buy us some time,”

“I like the Murk idea better. Do you think I can fly one someday?”

“You? Don’t see why not Lass, but you gotta live through today ta’ do it… and dream up one as well. Besides, Murks have a mind of their own these days, no bodies seen a one in a hundred years,”

“Well, I think that may change today,” Vraetela replied.

Haggler stopped what he was doing and gave the girl a loving look.

“I hope your right lass, I hope your right,”

##

The hyper drives popped in the upper atmosphere like clockwork. Up in the low orbit, a brilliant kaleidoscope of fireworks reacted with inert gasses as a dread cosmic class destroyer materialized just under the horizon.

Around her black form, scores of Jackstars blinked into view around her like a hive of insects protecting their queen. Even for the smaller cosmic class ships, the destroyer was nearly the size of a mountain.

“Oh, no, Haggler,” Vraetlea said to the old man with desperation. “Look at the size of it,”

“It’s showtime!” Vic shouted as the canopy lowered. With the charging sound of his sub-stellar engines, the ship behind him whirred to life as the glass clamped down shut.

“Just give me time,” Frawn said as he set up in the pad’s command tower. “Let those cannons do the work for you,” Behind him, Frawn gave a quick look to the city in the mountain. From the tower, he could see the gentle lights from the town blink on the hillside.

“Remember; protect the mountain at all cost,” he added on the feed. Next to Vincer’s craft, fourteen other Talon Fighters charged for the assault.

“Let’s keep them honest, wing, fifteen of us isn’t enough to give her a bug bite, but we’ll damn well try,” Vic said over the link.

“Remember, hit your burners and go right for the destroyer,” Vic said in his feed. “Spread out wide, then we come together as we hit the edge,”

“Yes, sir,” Several voices replied on the comm link.

“You need to ignore the fighters for now, when those Jackstars rush, just cruise right past them and take it to the big boy, that should bring the Jacks on us,”

Again, voices replied with acknowledgement as the formation rocketed ahead to the swarming mass of enemy ships.

“By gosh, if this old dog wants some fleas, we’ll fight right on the skin of that ship, let the Jackstars hit their own destroyer as they make runs for us, they’ll be in for a rude surprise when they scratch at us!”

Quickly, the swarm of Jackstars neared and the small targets began to pop up on the squadron’s arrays. Beyond them, the cosmic class destroy loomed.

“Good luck everybody,” Vic said as he flipped the link around and brought up his weapons array.

No sooner could Vic finish his sentence than the Black Destroyer’s and Jackstars’ lasers lit up the sky with the red streaks of florescent doom. Worse, a morass of explosive flak erupted around the spreading wing of Alliance fighters.

“Spread out wide!” Vic shouted, as his own fighters erupted with defensive laser fire as they kept on course.

On the ground, the cannon batteries erupted with jolts of thick light. The heavy blasts screamed past the green glow of the shield units on their way to the giant ship.

As the beam tore through the air, the thick laser vaporized a few errant Jackstars as it ripped into the hull of the destroyer. A fireball erupted from the ship as the sparks faded away.

##

Admiral Amal looked down at the explosive scene with a snide confidence. The Alliance compliment on Vrykos was dissappointly small, he thought. He had hoped for a larger force, more of a worthy challenge.

“Ready the troop carriers at once, ”The Admiral said to his Commander, Lu-kal. “Concentrate fire on the Cannons and Shield units. Keep up a nice cushion of flak, but let the Jackstars take the fighters. I expect this to go very quick,”

“Yes, sir,” Lu-Kal replied as he motioned to a subordinate officer.

In turn, large volleys of beams from the black gargantuan pounded the shielding units on the beach as the destroyer unloaded a barrage of flak and laser. The green flashes lit up the sky near the pad, but for now the Shields held.

##

“The shields are holding, just get in tight to that destroyer and bring the Jackstars off us,” Frawn said in his comm unit to Vic.

Just as he spoke, a giant explosion rocked the battery, Frawn was tossed to the ground cursing as other troopers sailed in burning pieces for the water.

As he got up,Frawn saw the Vryking’s hand as it lowered to help him up. It was the red haired girl with a blaster in her other hand.

“Behind you, look out!” Frawn shouted as he switched roles and pulled her down.

If the Black Empire’s fleet had arrived with a kaleidoscope of color and wonder, the arrivals Frawn saw now came with the red flame of destruction and burning lava.

“What is it!?” The Vryking workers gasped.

“Rag-nar-ok,” Haggler whispered as he cowered for cover.

Strange orange and red pockets formed in the sky like sparking rings. Spitting fire, the magma ringed portals parted with twisted wormholes. Through these gulfs, instead of an apocalypse, large winged creatures came forth by the hundreds, then, by the thousands.

“No, it’s them…” Vraetela said.

With a hiss, the thick arrow of scale and talon rushed over Vraela’s head like a torpedo of fire and ash. Suddenly, the smell of brimstone and flame sparked over the fishy odor of sea salt and kelpoid.

“Murks!” Haggler shouted as he pointed to the sky. ”By god, Murks!”

On her knees with the Commander, Vraetela looked to the sky. Haggler was right; the rugged horizon burned now with the legendary creatures. The Murks had come home!

##

“Just what are those..things?” Admiral Amal asked Lu-Kal as he stood still at parade rest. Behind him, pasty skinned naval officers scrambled.

“I don’t know sir, but I’d say they was something like… dragons!” He replied.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Amal snidely replied.

Amal swallowed hard as a bead of sweat ran down his forehead. Dragons? He wondered.

“Adjust the internal ship temperature, now!” it’s dreadful hot in here.” He shouted as he struggled to wipe away the sweat.

##

Murks! Vraela thought. And on their scaled backs, mysterious riders filled the clouds like locusts above the fields!

“They’re real,” Frawn said to himself as he took off his helm and gasped at the sheer number of what he saw. Red. Yellow. Blue. Charcoal black. The “Murks” were everywhere.

“Look Commander, Murks,” Vraela said. “This was always their home,”

“By God, your Murks.. they’re Dragons…!”  Frawn said as he spit again on the burning deck of the pad. Over his head, a hundred sets of flapping wings passed by as the onslaught flowed toward the destroyer. On their huge spined backs, cloaked men with horsehair helms and sharp laser pikes gripped thick reigns on the wyrms’ necks.

Like a tossed chunk of errant lava, a massive fireball scorched on the pad and erupted with smoke and steam on the metal deck. As the fires cleared, a massive Red Dragon with no rider flapped its mighty wings before Vraetela and snarled to the sky. He looked right at the red haired woman with eyes of fury.

The huge smoking wyrm lowered itself before the red-haired woman, dipping its head for her in acknowledgement of some unknown respect.

“What are you doing?” She asked the beast.

“He has chosen you, Vraetela of Vrykos! He has picked you above any other!” The voice boomed behind her like a broken thunder cloud.

Vraetela wheeled around to see another dragon. An epic black monster gilded with diamond spikes and etched scales. On its back, there sat a mountain of a man holding a mighty laser pike high. The Dragon Lord, master of them all, Vraetela guessed.

The lord’s eyes glowed aflame like ovens as he looked at the girl. His black armor was half hidden under a scaled cloak made from the molted slivers of his own steed. On his head was an ancient helm, topped with a horrifying set of alien antlers. The man looked older than the universe itself, she thought.

“What do you mean chosen me?” Vraetela asked the man defiant.

“You have a gift, Vraetela. There is a force that bonds a dragon rider with his Dragon, and you have this gift, it is something very special,”

“But I’ve never even seen a Murk before, how can this be?”

“These things have no explanation Vraetela, they just are. The dragon has chosen you. There is no going back once a steed has selected its rider,”

“Why does this dragon have no rider?”

“He is dead, lass, died in battle doing what Dragon Riders do. This dragon came to fight here alone, he came to be by our side, as all friends would do. But he was sad to fight alone, he was sad that his loved rider was gone, until he saw you.”

Vraetela looked at the crimson beast as it nodded to her. Strangely, she could feel odd whispers of welcome in her head.

“What is his name then?”

“His name? Ha!” The Lord laughed a booming chortle. “To know a Dragon’s name is something special, girl, something earned. He is The Fire That Sweeps over the Mountain. If you ride him long enough, if you dream with him beyond the magic mountains, he may whisper you his true name someday. And if he does…know he will tell you the lost tongue of Dragons,”

“I just don’t understand,”

“No, but you do not need to, young Lady, not for now, at least. Now, only battle is here for both of us. This day, all we shall do is ride and rage against the dark. See now, affixed to his harness still his old master’s laser pike. Take the weapon, hold it and let it guide you both, now, for we ride. Today, we have returned for this Dark Empire. Today, with oaths sworn upon the mountain, those evil rakes shall know dragons!”

Carefully, Vraetela took the spear device as she mounted the saddle and fastened her restraints. With the sound of thunder around her, The Fire That Sweeps over the Mountain flapped massive wings and took to the air.

As she rose, Commander Frawn stood amazed as both riders took to the sky.

For a moment, Vraetela felt like a weightless bird as she soared above the water. She could feel the dragon’s thoughts inside her head as the wind passed through her red hair. The Dragon Lord was right, the force between her and this Murk was strong. As his words rushed through her head, she gripped the reins and sailed forward. For the first time, the young woman felt truly alive.

All around her, dragon riders lowered their lances and shouted with pride. Next to them, Vic Vincer brought up his patch work crew of fighters in formation.Now, together both dragon and fighter soared through the sky against the Black Empire.

“Let’s do this!” Vic said as his fighters and a thousand sets of leathern wings flapped behind him.

##

Admiral Amal still stared at the observation portal before him. His commander, Lu-Kal grimaced as the Jackstars split apart in flames in front of him. Beyond the destruction, several Alliance fighters screamed through the burning debris.

As the ship was rocked by the relentless salvo of the Mountain’s laser batteries’. The Admiral stood silent as he gnashed his teeth with a closed mouth. Like a beaten child, he whimpered as he stared at the fray.

Beyond the reality of his defeat, a sea of riders and their dragons stretched as far as he could see.

##

Vrykos’ sun, the medium sized star called Murkos, was named something else after that day. In the depths of the galaxy, in the most desperate of lost holes, wherever the Alliance raged against the Black Empire, the new name was whispered with a tone of hope and promise.

The Dragon Star they called it. When nothing else is left, remember the Dragon Star!

From that day, no matter how lost the battle was… everyone who took up the fight knew, with hope and wild dreams… no matter how bad things got…dragons were on their way!

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