Chapter 39: Assault
The planning took up a good chunk of the night, and the orders were dispatched before dawn. We would go for a frontal assault. However, a good chunk of the forces would remain at home to hold the fort. At some point, I remembered to get Fenek to make my pistol visible again.
Eventually, the end result of the night's work came in the form of a convoy of fifteen tonners, all full of men, all toting rifles. Escorting would be several rovers, mine included. I stopped to repaint the markings, and to grab my hat. Most of the men were chattering amongst themselves, while we briefed the commanders one last time. After a few minutes, the men were briefed, and all reported ready.
Clambering into my rover with Fenek, Hector and Flayme, I gave the signal to follow me as I stared the engine. Flayme gave me a mad grin. "So, this is the roar of the human war machines!"
"Hah! you haven't seen the tank!" I replied, chuckling. We were given one tank, which was waiting outside the wall.
Behind, the truck engines roared to life one by one. The first truck held Sythes and his dragons, all looking excited, while the humans mostly looked anxious.
With that, I gave the engine a rev, and set out, with the trucks following behind, with the tank falling in behind as the rear guard. Fenek was manning my MG, though he looked to be none too happy about sitting in the rover.
The ride was bumpy and noisy, but we were making good time. By breakfast time, we were in view of the city of Kuala Lumpur.
Of course, the loud convoy coupled with the enormous dust cloud was noticed almost at once, though the dragon sent to make contact with us looked to be in rather bad shape. On top of everything, I recognised him as the guard from the day before. He didn't quite have the same arrogant air this time, however, and instead looked to be having a bad headache.
The trucks had stopped some distance behind with the tank, out of the view of the dragon. I, being the front scout had seen him and got clearance to see what he wanted.
Not bothering to get off the vehicle, I simply stopped in front of him, while Fenek stood up and pointed the MG at him. I stood up and leaned onto the windshield. "Oh, look what we have here; the guy who said that I'd bring trouble!"
The guard glared at me, trying to draw the link. I took my cap off. "Ring any bells, asshole?"
The shock registered on his snout first, then travelled to his eyes which widened. "You!"
I drew my pistol, and gave him a very pointed look. "Yes, me. Now, here's the deal. You lot come quietly, and we'll talk about not blowing you to pieces."
The dragon growled. "You're no traveller!" his voice seemed slightly slurred too.
"Took you long enough. Now, surrender before I decide to blow your brains out." I snapped, annoyed. In the background, I could already hear the main body of the force making its way in my direction.
Another growl. "No. We will not yield. The Council will hear of this!"
The first group must have come into view, since the dragon started staring behind me. I laughed. "Oh, I'm sure they will. Changed your mind?"
The guard's eyes bulged, as he watched the men make their way towards the city. He must have noticed that the force was mixed, having both dragons and humans.... "I...I know who you are!"
Rolling my eyes, I sat back down and put the rover back into gear. "Now, you have two seconds before the gears engage and I run you over. Any last words?"
With a loud roar, the dragon got onto all fours and charged at me. "Your head is mine!"
Chuckling, I gave the engine a rev and let the clutch engage, I even had time to shift to second gear. "This is going to be good..."
The guard himself didn't even get to pounce. The rover slammed into him head first, sending him careening a few metres forward, before he landed in a heap of armour and scales, moaning.
I stopped the rover beside him, remarking in the flattest tone I could muster, "Congratulations. You just did something incredibly stupid."
The bleeding heap of red scales and steel moaned again... "I..yield...Please, let me live...I have a clan..."
Glancing to Flayme, I nodded. "heal him and pull him in."
He gave me a strange look. "They said that you were ruthless."
I shrugged as we helped the dragon into the back seat. "They were wrong. dragons are people too."
With that, Flayme began chanting, his body encased in a warm glow as he healed the guard, who kept moaning as I drove over to join the main force. The tank roared up in front of me and with one blast, reduced the gates to splinters. The guards' responses were slow, and sluggish was an understatement. Some of them couldn't even walk straight. The innkeeper had done his job alright.
My prisoner went by the name of Drake. With a great deal of bowing, he thanked me for sparing his life. He even pledged his allegiance to me, and asking if he could go and get his mate. I slathered one of his arms with a generous amount of paint before letting him go.
One really had to appreciate the deadly efficiency of the human weapons and tactics. In order to breech the gates, they simply blasted the entire gateway apart with that tank of theirs. The guards didn't even stand a chance, and those standing by the gate were blown to pieces and smeared onto the ground.
I fought alongside Sythes and Fyre. Suffice to say that they gave no quarter. Once the gates fell, we were the first to charge in, while the humans came in behind as the the main force, while the rear guard secured the walls. Any resistance was quickly gunned down, many prisoners were taken and herded to one corner where they were held under guard.
There, however wasn't much resistance, despite the large garrison. Most of the dragons around seemed to be under the influence of some strong drink, or having bad headaches. That must have been the 'nasty surprise' Sythes had talked about before we moved out.
The humans made quick work of the guards along the walls, while we were sent to deal with those still asleep in the guardhouse. That too, wasn't too big a fight. Instead, we flung open the door to the overwhelming smell of vomit. Most of the guards lay on their beds in various states of undress, and in some really interesting positions. I hadn't realised that our bodies were that...flexible.
most of them were completely dead to the world, and we secured the building very quickly. In fact, all we had to do was to post guards around the building and move on.
The areas inhabited by humans was secured quickly, with some even cheering us on and giving the troops water and snacks. Once they realised that the dragons marked with yellow were on their side, they stopped throwing rubbish at us and albeit sheepishly offered us the same refreshments too.
The inner areas were quiet, and most of the buildings looked to be abandoned in a hurry... We met up with Keane and his advance party at the entrance to the square, where a lone green dragon stood, in his full quadruped form, as large as a house. His underside was a slightly dirty white colour, and a pair of white horns sprouted from the back of his head. He looked around, pausing every now and then to glare down some random street...
In the background, I could see many dragons fleeing the city, of all shapes and sizes. They must have been the clans of the soldiers, along with any that cared to settle in this small town.
We drove down the streets to be greeted with cheers from the general populace. The rover must have been a dead giveaway, though I spotted the innkeeper at some point, who waved at me with a knowing smile. I nodded to him and tipped my hat as we drove past.
Drake returned at some point with his wife, who was of the same colouration. Red with a white underside. They even had a child who looked to be older than Agenor. However, they didn't seem to bear us any ill will. In fact, they thanked me, saying that most of the guards had not been spared, while their clans had fled.
As we approached the town centre, I noticed a wall of green scales in the middle of the square. I stopped off at one of the alleyways, and sent Hector off together with the family. This was no place for civilians...
I stopped just short of the square, and parked the rover in an alleyway. Flayme turned to me, seeming somewhat disappointed that he didn't see any action. "What happens now?"
I shrugged. "Wait for the main force first."
"Your planning is most...unconventional, to put it in your terms." He replied, settling into his seat. "Most dragons would charge in for honourable battle. You...cheated..."
"Perhaps, but it's better than losing men on either side. This way, most were captured. Less death and destruction, minus the gate, mind you, and I prefer it that way." I replied, while topping up my magazine with a few rounds.
Eventually, Agenor walked up with Sythes. Sythes looked the rover up and down, his eyes pausing at the blood splattered on the bonnet. "I see you've been busy, brother."
"Oh, someone charged at me. He's on our side now. Even swore a binding oath." I replied with a shrug, while we got off the vehicle. "What's with the green guy in the square? he's been there for an awfully long time."
Sythes cast a sideways glance out to the square. "It is hard to say. Perhaps he is the commander of the garrison?"
"Nah. I got the whole garrison drunk, remember?" I replied with a shrug.
As if on cue, I heard an extremely loud voice bellow from the square, "I am of the Council! Yield, and you will all be pardoned to slavery!"
"Well, that answers our little question, doesn't it?" I remarked, "Anything I should take note of?"
Flayme surged to his feet, shaking his head. "Yes. This is not your fight. He is a mage, and I can smell the spells that he weaves. My brother and I will offer him battle."
As if on cue, Fyre walked up and nodded. "Allow us to prove that we are beyond a doubt loyal to you and you only."
There wasn't much of a choice, really, since I didn't want a repeat of what happened the last time we fought a mage. Hence, I stepped aside and let the duo past. "Good hunting."
Fyre and Flayme walked up to the mage and roared, getting his attention. "We oppose the council! You are corrupt! Balance must be restored!"
The green chuckled, but with no humour in his tone. From my spot, I watched as he turned to face the duo. Down the alleys, I could see the rest of the force watching with bated breath.
The green sneered, still laughing. "So, you all choose death. So be it. Hurl your paltry spells at me, then, o casters, before I rend your minds and souls!"
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, I ran from group to group, getting them to garrison the buildings around the square quietly, pausing here and there to help to break the doors down. Thankfully, however, the buildings were mostly empty, most showing signs of their occupants having left in a hurry. Half eaten meals sat on tables with some of the meat still moist. Most of the doors weren't even locked, and hung open forlornly. Occasionally, I would see a stray scale, indicating the nature of the former occupants of the homes.
All the while, the dragons in the square growled and roared, trading insults. Occasionally, there would be a bright flash of light, or a blast of heat. I looked now and then to see Fyre and Flayme hurling fireballs and bolts of lightning at the green, whose shield would flare blue where the lightning and fire would impact and dissipate, eliciting sometimes blinding flashes of light. Anything flammable in the square had long since caught fire, and I took care to direct the men to buildings made of stone.
Thick, black smoke billowed, from the many fires, blocking my view at times. Both Fyre and Flayme were encased in some sort of blue glow, while their eyes were patches of pure while light. They stood their ground, chanting. I noted that they hadn't changed form. However, that was explained soon enough when the green unleashed a torrent of fire in their direction. The two simply split and dived out of the way nimbly.
Flayme laughed, his voice blown out of proportion. I was quite sure he could be heard outside. "Pathetic! A hatchling could best you! Your puny shield is no match for us!"
Once the men were in place and told only to act on my command, I found myself back at my alley. However, as usual, things didn't go well for me...
Before I could react, a green-scaled foreclaw burst through the wall beside me, sending my rover careening down the alley. I must have forgotten to put the parking brake on. That, however, was the least of my worries as the dragon equavelent of adrenelin flooded my veins, and my brain screamed at my limbs to move... I had barely enough time to draw my pistol when I was grabbed and dragged out to the square.
Both Fyre and Flayme froze. The green cackled. "Ah, see! I have your pathetic little commander! See if you dare to attack now!"
I was about to retort when I heard Flayme's voice in my mind. <His shield is gone, but if we act now, you will be killed with him. You must free yourself!>
Oblivious to what was being said to me, the green filled my vision with his snout. I noted that he seemed to be rather tired, and was panting a little "So, you are the troublemaker! Once I'm done with that little army of yours, I'll bring you back to face judgement!"
He musn't have noticed that I was holding my pistol. I glanced down at the huge scales on his wrist and had an idea. Silently working my pistol under a scale that looked to be slightly loose, I made a show of squirming and scowling till I was done. The dragon himself didn't seem to notice my antics. I did, however, receive a sadistic smile as the creature sneered, "Scared? Why don't you yield, and I'll think about letting your men go, hmm?"
Pressing the pistol against the bit of exposed skin, I gave him my best smile. "Go fuck yourself."
Enraged, the green roared, and I pulled the trigger, bringing forth a second roar of pain as he refexisively let go. The warm blood from the wound splurted out, covering my gun and arm as I fell.
The green was large, and I was quite a ways off the ground. Groaning, I allowed my instincts to direct me as I flared my wings and gave them a few flaps, bringing me over the rooftops. Flayme nodded, smiling. I felt his mind still connected to mine, and replied, <I'll take it from here. Take cover, both of you.>
The two of them nodded and ducked back into an alleyway, while the green glared up at me and roared. "So you choose to flee! Cowards!"
I snorted. "No. Far from it," Subsequently I raised my voice to a roar as I landed stiffly on a roof, "Now, descend upon him!"
I heard windows being broken, and guns cocking. The first rifle discharged, followed by the rest The green writhed in pain as he was peppered with lead. I spent the time cleaning off some on the blood by wiping my hand on the roof. I noted that the blood had gotten into the pistol. Meanwhile, Fyre and Flayme landed beside me, watching in interest. Flayme glanced down at the green. "He knows not who we are."
"Who exactly are you two anyway?" I replied, as the gunfire peppered out, while the green laid in the square in a pool of blood, in his death throes.
Flayme gave me a toothy smile. "We are the agents of balance. We trained since we were hatchlings for this purpose."
Fyre nodded, "We are the best at our art."
"Then, it's an honor to serve with you two." I replied, returning the smile, "I'm not the best, but I strive to be."
With that, and a little guidance, I followed them as they glided down. I landed clumsily in front of the green's head, as he coughed up a mouthful of blood. I gave him a sideways look. "Bloody arrogant bastard. Any last words?"
The green coughed up another mouthful worth of blood, almost choking as he hissed. However, he said nothing, and ended up choking up a second mouthful of blood. I scoffed. "Thought so."
Without further ado, I got ready to put a bullet into his eye, only have him shift his head out of the way at the last moment, causing me to miss. I raised an eyeridge. Meanwhile, the pistol's slider had locked back, with two rounds stuck in the chamber. The gun was jammed.
"I...have a message." The dragon croaked with a gurgle as he spat out yet more blood. I motioned to Fenek, who had just turned up next to me, to cover me while I remedied the problem.
Flicking out the jammed rounds with a claw, I subsequently jammed the magazine back in and cocked the pistol again while squatting next to the dragon. "I'm listening."
"The Council is not unreasonable." Came the reply, "Negotiate."
The dragon coughed up another mouthful of blood, then went silent. Flayme walked over and checked his pulse. "He still lives. What do you want to do with him?"
I shrugged. "Can we handle him if we take him prisoner?"
Flayme nodded. "It is a simple matter. I can lock his talents away. However, do you think it is wise?"
"I've had more than enough death and destruction for one day. Heal him and then tie him down, then we'll see to the troops." Glancing around, my eyes fell on Sythes. "Get the rest of the prisoners brought here, put them to one side under guard. We'll handle the mage."
I received a quick affirmitive before Sythes himself ran off to get it done. Victor walked up and tapped me on the shoulder. "Ey, meeting in a bit, join us when you're done? Prisoners are yours since they're dragons. Shout if you need help."
Nodding, I glanced down the alleyway and had a sudden realisation. Hastily putting Fenek in charge for the moment, I bolted down the alley where I had been grabbed, and finally came across my rover which had rolled two blocks down.
Shaking my head, I clambered in, muttering to myself about forgetting to pull the handbrake. Relieved to find that the vehicle could start, I put it into gear and drove back to the square.
As I rolled back to the corner which had evidently been designated as the prisoner holding area, I watches as Sythe's dragons brought the prisoners, mostly the city guards, to the area and told them where to sit. I stopped beside one of SYthe’s men, and waited till he had finished giving his instructions. "Anywhere to park?"
The lanky orange drake shrugged. "Park? I don’t think there are any parks here, commander."
It took me a while to process his reply, "Err...I mean anywhere for me to stop the vehicle?"
The dragon pointed in the general direction away from the prisoners who were still streaming in. "As long as you don't obstruct anything, you can stop anywhere."
Nodding, I drove a very short distance away and shut the engine off, remembering to pull the handbrake this time.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Flayme and Fyre both bringing the green mage from earlier over, already in biped form. The green looked to be very confused and equally as disoriented. They placed him in the back seat.
"I've locked his powers." Flayme added as he slided alongside me, while Fyre stood behind the green, "He is now at your mercy."
Nodding, I looked the green over. "What's your name?"
The dragon shot me a glare that could dissolve metal. It took quite a bit of effort not to flinch. "It means nothing to you. Why do you keep me alive?"
I shot Flayme a glance, "Looks like you did too good a job at healing. He's become an asshole already," subsequently, I matched the green's stare, "Are you deaf? I did say that I had enough of killing people."
Flayme shot me an amused look, though I got the general sensing that he had no idea what an asshole was. However, I had no time to explain as I diverted my attention to the green once again. "Now, answer my question. Like it or not, your sorry ass in mine now. You'd best behave."
At some point, we had exited the vehicle…
The green shot me another caustic look. "Your facade fools no one. All of us are aware that you never give any quarter. What do you desire? Information? Or do you just wish to torture me to your hearts content?"
I drew my pistol, gaining an expectant look from all, including the prisoner, while Fenek quietly appeared at my side. He gave me a curious look and I shook my head while flicking the decocking lever and tossing the pistol to the floor, out of reach of both the green dragon and I. "Does this convince you? Hearsay is far from an accurate source, and I'm no murderer. So, tell me, what's your name? I don't want to go around calling you 'dragon' since more or less everyone in this sad little corner is a dragon."
Of course, my actions received a snort from Fenek, while the two mages stared at me, stunned.
The green stared for a moment at the weapon on the ground. Before I knew it, he had it in his claws, and was pointing it at me. The two mages looked ready to take action, but a slight shaking of my head prompted them to hold back for the moment.
Fenek almost barged into my thoughts at once. <Why did you stop them?! He's going to kill you!>
Of all the times to laugh, he had to laugh now, when a prisoner, a mage no less, held his pistol and was pointing it at him, demanding to be released.
Keane took a few heartbeats to calm himself before pointing at the weapon, still snickering. "Threaten all you want, stupid. Firstly, it's not loaded. Secondly, you're holding it the wrong way."
It took a moment for me to realise that the mage was indeed holding the gun the wrong way, and was instead pointing the barrel at his own chest. Not bothering about his safety, Keane subsequently walked forward and pulled the sliding top of the pistol back, to show the barrel and magazine, which were both empty. There was a soft 'click' as the top part hit a latch and stayed open, as it tended to do when the pistol was empty.
The mage, however was not amused. However, there was a sort of resignation in his eyes as he handed the gun back to Keane. "I'm Alys. Mage of the fourth wing, second detatchment. I acknowledge you as my captor and will make no attempt at escape or subterfuge. Thus is my prisoner's oath. Do you accept?"
Keane nodded, and to my surprise, offered his hand to the dragon in the human gesture known as a 'handshake'. Alys seemed confused for a moment before bowing. Keane let his hand return to his side. "I'm Second Sergeant Keane Tan, commander, Dragon Company. I accept your oath. Behave, and you'll be treated very well, but make trouble and I'll shake your world. Understood? If you have any questions, just ask."
Alys nodded quietly and was directed to sit in one corner, away from the other prisoners, who didn't seem to like him too much anyway...
Keane and I walked to where the other leaders were gathered, evidently waiting for us.
"How the blazes did he get that pistol so fast?" He remarked, while loading a fresh magazine into his gun.
I snorted. "You forgot about his tail."
He gave me a half-smile. "So, I humiliated myself."