Daily #17: Don’t get attached

I’m still away, so I have limited time to post. Therefore, here’s my first creative piece for this blog: my response to a writing prompt which described a world where dragons were used as weapons. I wondered what this would be like in an army setting. Enjoy!

Don’t Get Attached

As Hamza entered the chamber, he hugged his arm, draped with his dragon, tight to his chest.

“Do NOT call them your dragon. They do not belong to you; they belong to the Government,” his sergeant’s voice rang through his head. “You are an operator. They’re not your puppies, they’re your weapon. You don’t feed them, the trough does that. You don’t pet ‘em unless you want to lose a couple of fingers,” the hardened man’s words echoed through his memories. Those first weeks of basic training had been tough, with the early-up, endless drills and routines. They’d all been worth it though, when he got to hold his dragon for the first time. A small thing, not much heavier than half a bag of sugar, and covered in gorgeous green scaling. The dragon. Not his dragon. See, they’d said that, but they’d given them to him and his comrades. They’d spent the remainder of training in each other’s company, the small lizard curled around his arm for the majority of the day.

Hamza’s had not had wings; none of them had. Those were saved for those higher up the ranks, or specialist teams that needed those that flew. Privates like him got the small ones, whose small, rapid breaths could quickly take out an enemy without being too pricey. Expendable.

And now they were almost done with basic training. He hadn’t named his— the dragon, unlike some others in his squad, but he found it endearing, and its little quirks made him laugh. He remembered it making a small puff of smoke when it had nightmares, and—

“Well, privates,” the sergeant’s booming voice snapped Hamza out of his reminiscing. The small dragon was sleepily curled around his arm, as usual, “you’ve come a long way, some of you more than we thought possible. You’re ready to be fine soldiers, some of you heading out to the front soon,” there was a murmur of assent among the gathered soldiers in the chamber.

“We do, however, have one more lesson to teach you,” the sergeant added, surveying the group. “it’s not an easy lesson, but we’ve found it’s best to teach it here rather than out there.” The group of privates looked around quizzically. The sergeant cleared his throat as a hissing sound began.

“Don’t get attached.”

Screams arose from one end of the chamber; not human screams, but a sound far more jarring and sinister. An anguished hissing sound had erupted. Hamza could see the gas entering the room from all sides, and with it, the hissing sound got louder, and was joined by the confused and panicked yelling of men.

“Don’t panic, the gas is not harmful to any of you,” the sergeant continued, “only to them. The final lesson is to be able to deal with this.” he finished. He stepped down from the raised platform, and disappeared through a door behind it.

Screams of horror joined the shrill shrieking sound as the dragons slipped, limp, from their handlers’ arms. They let out a final cry as they fell to the ground, reacting to the aggressive gas. He saw one of his comrades, who he had known to be particularly close to his dragon, wailing on the floor, the flaccid corpse draped over his knees. Being in the centre of the room, the gas had not reached Hamza’s own dragon yet, who was now alert and looking around wide-eyed as the chaos erupted around him.

He could hear the suffering of the other dragons as the gas burned their lungs, causing a deafening expulsion of air. They had learned of this gas, of course, in training – its chemical compounds caused a reaction with the sulphur in the dragons’ lungs, and burned them from the inside out. Looking at his own dragon, already puffing out snorts of smoke itself, obviously beginning to feel its effects, he knew what he had to do.

He pulled out his combat knife, and after one brief moment of hesitation, he brought the blade cleanly across the small creature’s scaled throat. It fell limp almost immediately as its dark, sticky blood left its body through the wound. It was a quick death. Tears sprung to his eyes as they took in the corpse, but he maintained his own dignity and carefully curled the dragon into a coil on the floor of the chamber. He stood up, ignoring the grief-stricken cries of his comrades, and went to the door behind the platform. To his surprise, it opened almost immediately, unlike the large set of doors across the chamber which refused to open to his squad-mates’ pounding fists.

Stepping through the doorway, Hamza met the sergeant and officer squarely. He saluted them, aware of his light arm as he lifted it to his brow. The familiar weight of the drake was gone, and he almost pulled his arm comically high.

“Well done, private. Please head down the corridor to receive your first orders as a graduate of basic training,” the sergeant said, a pained smile dancing over his face.

“Yes sir,” Hamza replied, and strode off down the hallway.

Reaching a door marked “D.V.C.”, he knocked once, then entered. A woman met him as he opened the door, a smile on her face.

“Ah, you must be our newest addition!” she said, an excited tone creeping into her voice.

“I’m not sure, ma’am. I’ve just been sent from basic training,” he replied, a little confused.

“You’re the first out? Then you’re definitely one of ours!” she exclaimed. She gestured around the room, a small scattering of seemingly random soldiers dotted throughout it.

“Welcome to the Dragon Veterinary Corps! We’re glad to have you!”

I did start continuing this story, but it dropped off. I might pick it back up again though; it intrigued me.

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