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Tessa stepped onto the stage. Her whole body shook as she walked across it to the podium. She had to hold onto the hard mahogany structure to keep herself from falling. Her hands were slick with sweat. She looked over at the president, “I’m not sure that I can do this Mr. President.” She managed, her voice meek and catching in the back of her throat. He gave her a reassuring smile but she knew his stomach was doing the same jerky somersaults as her own.
“Mrs. Donbahlt, you’re going on air in 5.” Her boss informed her. She smoothed her military uniform and took a deep breath.
The broadcast was going out over the entire world and as such, the translators who would be talking as she did lined up in front of her. At least their presence made her feel slightly less alone. As the room fell into silence she adjusted her cat-eye glasses and took a swig of water before the red light above the camera flicked on. The cameraman gestured for her to begin.
She opened her mouth to speak but for a full minute, despite the report between her perfectly manicured hands, she couldn’t find her voice. The thought of the billions of eyes in the world that were watching her about to announce the atrocity that her and her team had unleashed consumed her. The guilt made her shake more than the fear. It threatened to collapse her knees. One of the translators cleared his throat snapping her attention back to the matter at hand. The president gave her another fake smile and signaled with his hands for her to start.
Finally, she spoke. Her voice seemed to shatter the silence of the room like a hammer, “Please forgive the interruption. This is a public service announcement, please be sure you stay tuned. My name is Tessa Donbhalt.” She stopped to glance at the words written for her and decided to ignore them. The world deserved the truth.
“Before I explain what has happened, I have to tell you all: I am so very sorry for what is about to befall us all. My team and I, truly thought what we were doing would be for the benefit of our country. We thought we could control it.”
She noted the Presidents disapproving glare and continued despite him, “Five years ago a research party returned from the northern most part of Norway. With them, they brought an amazing discovery. A mummified reptile. One that they thought may still carry DNA. The moment they discovered that they were right, I received a call from the Secretary of Defense. After he saw it and was convinced it was real, he hoped we could use it. It was unbelievable. A reptile that we have all been told was a fairy tale and yet, there it was in my lab. The mummified remains of a young dragon. Not only did these remains prove the existence of these creatures but the gold collar around its neck implied that it was tamed. After running more tests, I confirmed what Mr. Hagel hoped to be true. This seemingly tamed creature could, in fact, breath fire. It took several trials and more failures than I can count but eventually we were able to grow a stable, living dragon. As I was doing so, the research team had been excavating the area near the dragons remains for any more information. They eventually found scripture that they believed would help our personnel train and tame our monster. The best scholars in the world were commissioned to translate these scriptures and as my team was bringing this horror to life, the military was training solders to tame it.”
“We called the dragon Nyx and she grew in leaps and bounds. Of all the solders trained, in the end the dragon would only allow one handler to be anywhere near her. That man was my husband, Guy. The countless men and women who died in attempts to train it should have stopped us, it should have been a sign, but we were too fascinated. In too deep I guess you could say. Things were going so well with Nyx and Guy that I was commanded to grow more dragons. In less than a year we had a small army of dragons. We had even developed a strategy to more safely match up handlers and dragons. The mission was a dream becoming a wonderful reality. Or so we thought. It became increasingly obvious that the legends are real, the dragons were indestructible. Unfortunately, the only thing we could focus on, the only outcome we could imagine is how our country would rise with these magnificent beasts backing our every move. It was too late before we realized how wrong we were.”
“The stronger Nyx grew, the more distant Guy became. He spent more and more time with her until they both occupied the same habitat. They slept together and ate together. Eventually he even stopped cooking his portions of meat. We would put a bear in with Nyx for dinner and she would kill it and the two of them ate from the same raw carcass.” Her voice had reached a fever pitch. As she recalled the instances from memory, she could still scarcely believe them. She closed her eyes and shook her head.
“Before we lost him entirely, he told us he could hear her thoughts, feel her fire in the pit of his own stomach. Few believed him. We ignored it as a joke, and those that took it seriously foolishly thought it was a good sign. That they were becoming one. Before we knew it, all the handlers were withdrawing from us, claiming they could hear their dragon’s thoughts. The matter was becoming widely recognized as progress. I was one of the idiots who thought it was a splendid progress for them to connect so deeply. They were able to fly their dragons, with ease, through the most difficult agility courses we could imagine. They could command their dragons to use their fire with pinpoint accuracy. It was so overwhelming to watch the power that flowed between handlers and dragons and, yet, so intimate.” She realized she was getting off topic but allowed her mind to briefly remember her husband, sleeping against Nyx’s beautiful iridescent wings. Tears welled up in her eyes and she struggled to choke out the next part.
“Three days ago, they all went out for their daily fly and never returned. I can not express to you the confusion we felt. The agonizing worry. It shouldn’t have been the first inkling that something was wrong- but to us it was. Hind sight is 20/20 as they say. Two days after their disappearance, the base we were working from was attacked. I was the only member of my team, to make it out alive. In all, only 10 people in the entire base survived the attack. Hours after the attack a message was left for the President and Secretary of Defense. It was then that we realized the dragons weren’t becoming one with the handlers but that the handlers were becoming pawns of the dragons. The message- the warning- was to lay down and allow them to reign over us as they rightfully should have centuries ago. I was put before you all today to ask for a world wide call to arms. They don’t just plan to take over this country, no. They have plans for the entire world. We can not let this happen. I know I have said that they are indestructible but there must be a way. Humans beat them before and as a species we must work together to take them down again.”
As the last words fell from her mouth an ear-shattering screech shot through the building. The walls shook and windows splintered before clattering against the linoleum floor in trillions of pieces. An enormous eye peered through one of the windows. Tessa knew in the pit of her stomach that it was Nyx.
“Open fire!” The President cried to the Secret Service officers that surrounded them. Before the bullets left their guns the eye was gone. Teeth, each the size of a grown man, came into view. Bullets ricocheted off of them, hitting officers, translators and politicians a like. Tessa ducked behind the podium. When the sounds of gunfire and ricocheting bullets subsided, she peeked out. No one was unhurt, save herself. Everyone in the room lay in their own pools of blood. Those that weren’t dead, moaned in pain. When one person tried to move, she realized it was the President.
“Don’t move Mr. President!” Tessa’s voice came out like a hiss. The President froze as Tessa pulled out her phone and dialed 911.
When the operator answered she whispered their location and told her, “The President is down, you need to get the paramedics here now.”
Getting down on her stomach she belly crawled to the edge of the stage. She could still hear Nyx’s heavy breathing just outside the window. She knew it was her responsibility to lure the beast away. The emergency exit was just to the left right of the stage. She quietly slid off the stage and shimmied to the floor. When she opened the door she was driven by pure adrenaline. Nyx was nearly as tall as the building and even more breathtaking than Tessa remembered her. Her head was low enough that, between the beasts shoulders, her husband was visible.
Their eyes met for a moment and Tessa could see no evidence in his face that he recognized her. He notified Nyx of her presence. Had she not needed to run, she would have started crying. She used her grief to push her as he ran. She ran not only from the dragon, but from the mistakes she made. From her own stupidity. From the fact that she alone could be blamed for the monstrosity bounding behind her. The end of the world, it was her doing. She felt fire licking at her heels, it was enough of a distraction to cause her to trip. As she felt the molten flames devouring her, she could her Guy’s hearty laugh. The laugh that had always comforted her now rang out with the triumph of watching her demise.
Credit To – Mrs. Amaya