Chapter 50: Saga
I woke to find myself slumped over the table, and the piece of paper not only covered in my drool, but also had a long line ending at where my right hand rested, still holding the pen. Must have fallen asleep halfway through writing up a lesson plan.
In front of me stood a very annoyed looking Fenek. "You're scheduled to be briefed now! Why have you not woken up? We must make haste!"
With that, I was unceremoniously hauled to my feet, and being still half asleep, I had one wing dragging on the floor together with my tail, while the other drooped off to one side, while I shook the sleep from my mind. "It that late already?"
"Obviously! Just because I slept early doesn't mean that you can work through the night!” Fenek glared at me in what was obviously not anger. “Just because I'm your Companion doesn't mean you can act as if you don't need to take care of yourself! It's hardly fair to me!"
I sighed and went to the toilet to wash up. "I get your point mum. Calm down. I must have lost track of time."
I noted that the children at the table were snickering as I made my way to the loo. I flashed them a half smile before going in and freshening up.
Grabbing a piece of bread, I rushed past the table and out the door, with Fenek in tow, telling me to go with him to the guardhouse.
I barged into the modest guardhouse to find Victor sipping a cup of tea at the table. Save for him, the building was empty. He gestured at the seat next to him, in front of which a cup of tea sat, apparently for me. I sat and sipped the tea, apologising for being late.
Victor brushed it off, remarking that I was only five minutes late or so. He seemed to be more preoccupied to actually say more, and actually looked to be anxious to get the whole thing done and over with. Although sleepy, I shared his sentiments.
Basically, since I was the Duty Commander (DC), all I really had to do was my job. Up until they triggered the alarm (the specific time was not told to me) I was to carry on with my duties. When it went off, I was to respond accordingly. Nothing much, actually. Of course, there would have to be a crowd, and this had to be good…
At the end of the briefing, which probably took less than ten minutes, I couldn’t help but comment. “That’s it?”
Victor smirked. “More or less. Once they leave the gates, the issue will be handed to the exterior protection battalion.”
“…So you woke me up super early to tell me that I’m supposed to carry on?” I grumbled, making a face.
A chuckle was the response. “Yes, because we can’t have you waking up in the afternoon all the time, you lazy bum!”
I rolled my eyes. “Point taken. See you later, when my shift starts.”
With that, we went our separate ways. I would only be taking over around noon, which left me with quite a bit of time to have breakfast and such. Hence, I strolled back to the house, with Fenek still going on and on about how I should take better care of myself the entire way.
When we finally got to the door, I reached over and held his mouth shut, telling him that I well and truly got the point. He really worried way too much about these things. What was worse was that I couldn’t play the age card, despite the fact that I was supposedly more mature mentally. Hell, he could be over a hundred for all I knew.
Fenek glared at me. <I am not that old. I’ll have you know that I’m only thirty.>
I gave him a very pointed look as I opened the door, “But five mentally.”
Laughing to myself as Fenek fumed at my jibe, I went and fried myself an omelette. Meanwhile, the other occupants of the house went about their own business, with the children studying, Silvera and Agenor cleaning the house together, while Hector and the rest of his group attempted to clean their rifles. The latter was actually quite funny to watch. Even as a biped, Hector was still huge, and him fiddling around with the tiny brushes from the rifle cleaning kit looked almost comical, especially when he had to squint at things.
I joined the children at the table and had my breakfast, only stopping at one point to show the rifle cleaning bunch how to do it properly. The way they went about it would damage the gun.
Of course, that got oil all over my hands, and I had to wash up again. When I came back, Fenek and Atheros had joined the table, the latter simply moving to sit next to my seat. I sat with them and finished my food, only to find myself still hungry.
“…Is something happening later, Father?” Atheros asked, seeming to ponder even asking the question for a while.
I shrugged as I went and started frying some sausages and bacon. “Dunno.” As much as I wanted to tell him about the exciting thing about to happen, it was classified.
“Come now, I’m sure you know, Father! I’ve seen the guards talking in hushed tones all day, and no one wants to tell me anything!” He protested, his curiosity evident.
I shrugged again, as I took my plate and refilled it with the meat. “I’m cannot discuss this kind of thing. You know that.”
As I sat, he looked me in the eye, “You don’t trust your own son?”
“That’s not the issue. It’s the clearance level. I’m not allowed to tell anyone without approval from the committee, and that applies to everyone involved.” I replied, chewing on a sausage. “I trust you, believe me, but this is really out of my hands.” I made a mental note to let the butcher know that this batch was a bit saltier than usual.
On top of that, I had this nagging feeling that I was being watched. However, I found nothing. I asked Fenek through the bond to sweep the place with magic. His reply stated that there was nothing his ‘five year old mind can find’. He must have still been sour about my little joke.
I brushed the feeling off and continued eating. Atheros, meanwhile, must have noticed that I was preoccupied for a moment, and had waited for me to finish whatever I was doing first before nodding. “I understand. If everyone knows, then a secret is no longer a secret.”
“Precisely.” I replied, glancing out the window, guessing that I still had time to burn. “So, have you gone and reported for your training yet?”
Atheros huffed. “They turned me away, saying that the course isn’t starting till next week.”
“Which is what, tomorrow?” I replied, chuckling.
“I believe so.” Atheros replied, “You’ll be going off for lessons of some sort then, yes?”
I chuckled again. “Yup. Try not to blow the house up while I’m gone.”
Instead of shooting me a confused look, Atheros actually got the joke, much to my surprise. We laughed about it for a while as I polished off my food. As I began washing the dishes, I told Atheros a few stories about my time in the army, along with how life was generally like before the war. I even told him about the time when Fenek first turned up at the door. “You know, Atheros, you never really realise how tiny your house is, till a bloody dragon turns up, sits down and blocks the entire thing, including my vegetable patch, off from view.” I remarked with a laugh. At that point, more or less everyone was sitting around and getting entertained by my anecdotes. Ranging from the office politics in the army, to the ridiculous things we did when we were bored…
Sadly, I had to go off after a while, as I had to take over the duty till noon the next day. Fenek said that he would join me later on.
I went to the guardhouse, saluted Sythes who had been in charge the previous day, and took over the post, which was in a small room attached to the guardhouse. As he walked out, Sythes wished me an uneventful day and good luck. He also informed me that the walkie talkies were already in use. I thanked him with a smirk.
I hadn’t so much as sat down when the siren went off. They kept one of the siren equipped rovers outside permanently, to serve as an alarm. I couldn’t help but curse under my breath as I ran out. The runner on duty had just come in, all covered in sweat. Whoever was on duty in the guardroom was probably sounding the alarm. I grabbed the walkie talkie off the table as I approached the runner. “Report.”
The man nodded, while glancing out the door. “Two dragons, unmarked attempting to exit the city via the South Gate. When confronted, they ran to the Southeast quarter. Suspected espionage. Alarm sounded by the South Guard Post. Code 76, sir.”
I nodded and saluted as I rushed out the door, snatching my keys off the table as I went. It was the operation. “Understood. Dismissed.”
I bolted out the door and vaulted into my rover. I actually had the option of flying, but I still preferred to drive. I started the engine, noting the sound of sirens and engines in the distance. As I rolled out of the compound, I activated the walkie talkie. “Response force, what’s your status? Over.”
I heard a few bursts of static as the other end presumably fumbled with the device. I placed mine on the seat as I reached over to change the gear. “Identify please, over.”
I snatched up the thing again. “This is the DC, over.”
“Unable to locate both fugitives, sir.” Came the quick reply, “Search is spreading to other quadrants. Suspect destination to be East Gate.”
“Roger. I’ll head straight to the gate. Godspeed. Over and out.” I replied, as I gunned the engine, hitting the horn every few moments to get people to move out of the way. As the vehicle raced past the embassy, I noted that Drak’rrth was standing in front, watching the proceedings. I was sure enough that he didn’t realise that I was the one driving like a maniac.
As I screeched to a stop at the gate, I looked around, to find the guards already at the ready. My walkie talkie beeped, and as I clambered out of the vehicle, I picked it up.
Again, I received a burst of static before the message. The thing was probably faulty. “QRF to DC, message, over.”
As I walked to the guard post, already holding my pistol in the other hand, I replied, “Send.”
“Confirmed, targets moving towards the East Gate. What is your position?” The person on the other end seemed to be running, with footfalls combined with the clicking of claws on stone. Apparently, there were dragons on the chase too. In the background I heard shouting.
“I am at East Gate. Will update guards. Over and out.” I replied as I walked up to one of the dragons, Drake, the one I had run over some time back, “Where’s the commander?”
He nodded to me as I approached, then pointed to Victor, no less, who had just walked out of the small guardhouse. Victor nodded to me. “Sir. I hear that they’re headed here?”
I nodded. “Correct. Deploy your men accordingly.”
The walkie talkie buzzed again. “DC, message, over.”
More shouting in the background as the message came over. “Targets are taking flight. Request dragon pursuit clearance. Over.”
“Carry on.” I replied, then paused before activating the device again. “DC interior to DC exterior, message, over.”
A familiar voice came over. It was Ren Jie. “DCE to DCI, send, over.”
“Two targets, possibly airborne exiting city. Request support, over.”
A pause. “Weapons free?”
The two of us had to agree on this, but it was pretty obvious what had to be done. “Weapons free. Code 76. Godspeed. Over and out.”
As I put the walkie talkie town, I saw two shadows race past on the floor. I shouted to the guards, “Contact, above, fire. Code 76!”
True to the briefing, everyone began firing, me included, though the shots missed deliberately. As the two dragons left the city compound, I grabbed the walkie talkie again, “DCI to DCE, message, over.”
“Targets left city. Handoff. Code 76.” I snapped, putting my smoking pistol on the bonnet of the vehicle
“Have eyes on. Confirm code 76?”
“Confirm code 76, I repeat, code 76. Over and out.” I replied, before getting back into the rover. I paused, remembering that I had to tell everyone to stand down. “DC to all internal units, stand down and return to post. Over and out.”
With that, I slowly cruised back to my own post, only to find Drak’rrth standing outside my office with Fenek, the former looking considerably impatient. I brought them into the small office and put my keys along with the walkie talkie away. “Yes?”
Fenek seemed to be very flustered as he spoke, seeming to be somewhat irritated too. “He came stomping into the house demanding to see you.”
Subsequently, Drak’rrth cut in. “This is an outrage! Why do you hunt other dragons?!”
“They were caught trying to sneak out, and fled when confronted about their intent. We weren’t hunting anyone. We were chasing a pair of suspicious characters, and for this case, it is well within our rights to do so.” I replied, as I unloaded and started cleaning my pistol with a kit that was conveniently on the table.
Drak’rrth seemed speechless at that, and stormed out. He only stopped to remind me that I was to report at their academy by sunset the next day, and that I was to go alone. Fenek would only need to go the next week.
Fenek himself brightened up once the other dragon left the room. I once again got the strange feeling that someone was watching me, but a glance out the window showed no one, and again, Fenek found nothing… I probably needed to get more sleep.
At least the whole saga was a success.