By LaPierreVonTigger & AnaraC

-Chapter 1-

Huddled and pathetic, the group of rebels clutch their meager rations of coffee and stare solemnly into the crackling flames of a dwindling fire. Their eyes glazed over and sad as the grief of the war began to push down on them, for the first time aware of the severity and loss, the realness of the never ending fight between life and death; good and evil. They have all aged, no longer were they the happy children that had once entered the camp. They now knew suffering.

A boy no older than three sat, curled to what was once a stuffed animal. His cheeks hollow, his clothes no longer fitting, watching the other children with a wild curiosity. What has brought us here? He wonders to himself. With a voice unlike his own, he attempts to speak, "What is this world we are in?" Only to be hushed quickly by the older children, their eyes searching the skies and surroundings for the danger that may follow the boys voice.

Though he didn't fully understand, he knew something was very wrong. The strain in the older children's eyes, their tear-stained cheeks, their empty stomachs, all things that should not be yet are. The boy clutches the rags of his stuffed animal and stares at the grown-ups. There isn't a happy face to be seen. Where are his mother and father? Why aren't they beside him telling him everything would be okay? Why is he so alone?

This so called war, this thing that should never have happened, was the destruction of life; the destruction of peace. A child no more, this particular three year old stood up, a gun in one hand and the remains of his teddy bear in the other. The other kids look at him, scared of the look in his eyes, they scurry away from him.

Madness was never far from the minds of anyone who had seen as much as this small child. His frail, tiny body and been put through so much these past few months, his mind was almost incapable of coping. His gun feels wrong, it's too heavy, too real and the people around him are too sad, too close. His eyes close and he is back in his home, his mother in the kitchen chopping broccoli he would never eat, his father sitting on the floor a plastic gun in his hand and a huge smile lighting up his face. Come on buddy! I'm gonna get you! And he aimed the fake gun at the child. The boy squealed with laughter, shooting toy darts into his father's chest. He opened his eyes and his father was gone, a body of one of the other children lay before him, shot in the chest, dead.

The children stood quickly, a few trying to wrestle the gun from the boy. In confusion the boy relinquished the gun quickly repeating "What happened?" over and over. Trying to get the child to quiet, the boy who took the gun from him hits him over the head, knocking him out. What else was he to do? With the child now sprawled on the floor, the others huddled back around the fire. Slowly a girl around ten years old scoots over to the dead body. Eyes crazed with hunger, she pulls a knife out and starts to hack away at the corpse, getting whatever food she can out of what is left of the scrawny remains.

"Ye can't even bury him?" An old wizened man asks, hobbling over to the young cannibal, his eyes sad and full of pity. "We may be starvin' but we ain't animals." He slaps the child hard across the face. "Pull yerself together!"

With tear filled eyes, she just stares up at the old man. Crawling away from the remains, she stands quickly. "What else we do? What else be done? If we leave here, we'll be killed trying to bury him." She gestures to the body.

"Do ye want to be like them?!" He shouts silencing the whole rebellion. All eyes turn and stare at him, the young girl hangs her head, not needing to ask who they were. "We are better than them, we are humans! Do not forget it!" He walks over to the body, kneeling beside it. "This poor son of a bitch deserves to be buried, as do we all. And nothin' any of you bastards can say will change me mind!"

Watching silently, curled up in the corner of their dugout, a girl of seventeen slowly stands. She walks numbly over to the poor soul in front of her and kneels, her silvery blonde hair billowing around her and the body, she reaches out and gently closes his eyes. "Rest in peace."

The old man pats her affectionately on the back; she had done what the others would not. "We shall bury him," she murmurs glancing up at the man, her eyes as black as the night, searching for his approval. He nods and stands, his old creaking knees shaking from the effort, and hobbles over to the pile of equipment at the center of the camp. He fishes out two shovels and hands one to the girl. Everyone watches silently as this transpires, none daring to move.

"A bunch o' cowards." The old man mumbles as he and the girl depart, carrying the dead boy as they go.

Walking with difficulties, the girl attempts to carry the boy over the uneven terrain, her eyes staring down wanting to be oblivious to any danger that may be present around them. After carrying the boy a ways away from the dugout bunker they slowly lay him on the ground and begin digging.

The work is grueling and the girl is amazed the old man can even keep up. The shovels full of dirt began piling up next to the hole, but still the man insists it isn't yet deep enough. Just as she feels she can't go on anymore the man throws down his shovel picks up the boys body and gently lays him in the makeshift grave, placing his arms crossed over his chest, his legs straight out in front of him. The girl rises from the hole and searches quickly for a few wild flowers, pressing them in the boys stiff, lifeless hands.

Nodding at the work done, the old man looks at the girl, "Dai, say a prayer for the lad." Taking a knee, she mumbles a soft heartwarming prayer. "May the lord bless your soul, and may you have ever lasting peace with no more war, and no more fighting. Goodbye my friend, please find solace in an existence purged of evil."

Together the man and girl stand and give a moment to grieve their fallen comrade, but only a moment. The woods are dangerous at this time of night and it is unwise to linger any longer than necessary. The girl picks up her shovel and begins the unfortunate task of filling the hole.

As they work, a long shrieking moan begins to rumble through the woods. In fear Dai drops her shovel, reaching for the gun on her hip, staring into the woods. "Sir, I think it be time to go back."

The man nods his hand ready at his gun as he slowly backs up, facing the horrible noises emanating from the trees so as not to be taken by surprise. "Is it them?" Dai whispers frantically, but the man shakes his head. "It don't sound like it."

"Then what on earth is making that noise?!" Freaking out, Dai backs up quickly, tripping over the shovel and falling into the half-filled hole. She holds her breath as a creature with giant wings swoops down, barely missing the old man. Screaming she jumps from the hole and huddles against the old man. "What is that?!"

The old man looks at the beast, eyes solemn, almost dead. "Draco Draco." he mumbles; his voice nearly inaudible against rushing wind as the creature circles above their heads. Dai stares at him in horror, disbelief evident in her expression. "Impossible."

"Aye. I'd recognize that beast anywhere. We'd best run girlie."

Paling, Dai just looks at him. "Dragon." The word plays a soft melody over her lips. The Draco, the dragon, turns in the air and dives at them. Screaming, dai puts her arms out in front of her in a sad attempt to protect herself.

But still the creature lunges, scooping up the small humans into his large talons and
flying away towards the mountains, their screams trailing behind them, the only
sound in the otherwise silent night.

The dragon nearing a cave entrance releases them from his talons. Landing with a thud, Dai watches as the old man misses the landing. Jumping and running as fast as she can, she slides to the edge and grabs for his hand screaming "No!" while scrambling to catch him from falling to his doom.

Her hand grazes his for a second before he plummets towards the rocks below, his body shattering on impact, blood, his life, splattering on the hard unforgiving ground. She sees him writhe in pain before his body gives a final shudder and is motionless spare a few horrifying twitches. Through her tears she snarls at the beast "Why have you done this?! What do you want?!" The dragon just rolls its eyes and stands aside.

"It is not what he wants, dear child," A voice laughs. "it is what I want."

Tears streaming she kneels on the edge just staring at the gnarled body of her dead
friend. "Rest in peace." Is all she's able to mutter. Turning to the dragon, her tears will not cease.

"There is no peace for one such as him." The man, the owner of the voice, says stepping out from behind the dragon. "Those who fight against my people deserve to perish"

Too hurt to respond she could only ask, "What do you want?"

"You, my child. You do not belong with those incompetent rebels, you belong with us. Our blood runs through your veins."

In shock, she just stares at him. "That's not possible. That can't be possible! My parents were human! You monsters killed them!" She reaches for her gun as he approaches her. "Stay back."

"I mean you no harm"

"Yeah? Tell that to my friend!" she yells savagely

"An unfortunate accident. Completely unintentional."

She points the gun at him, aiming the barrel straight at his head, an inhuman frown plasters itself on her face.

"Your parents were most certainly not humans. Those were merely there to ensure your survival. The rebels are the real murderers. They destroyed your family, your home and left you for dead. You should be spending our power and your talent killing them! Not your own people."

"You're lying!"

"No my dear, I am not. And I can see in your eyes that you know what I say holds truth."

Slowly she lowers her hand, her fists shaking too badly to hold the gun up any longer.

"No, that cannot be!"

"But it is. You are one of ours with powers beyond compare. We need you on our side"

Her breathing is shaky and uncontrollable. She hangs her head in defeat. "What do you mean 'my powers'?"

"You are like us. You cannot be killed the way an ordinary human can. You will never get sick, you will never die. And many more talents locked deep within you, ready to come out." The man offers the information freely, happy that she is responding so well.

"I can't die as a normal human would?" She repeats slowly, holding his gaze.

"That is correct." He chirps up happily.

A smile creeps onto her face. "Good." She spits and jumps backwards, plummeting off the rocky cliff.

A sharp stalagmite pierces through her stomach, sending a scream of pain through her, her blood splattering everywhere. Trying to pull herself free she realizes she's stuck. Biting her lip, she quickly rips herself free, the stalagmite cutting through her easily. Staggered by what just occurred, she looks down at the gaping hole in her side, watching as string like fibers re-attach the top part of her body to the bottom half. Shirt ripped, and covered in blood, she waves to the man on the ledge, a smirk on her face as she turns and runs.

What she failed to consider prior to her plummet was the massive dragon the psychotic man had at his disposal. Dai quickly dashes into the forest, trying to lose him in the leafy foliage. She hears his thunderous roars above her, but manages to remain undetected.

Crouching down in a bush, she waits, barely breathing for fear of being caught. Wincing she realizes her side is still healing, and that she has left a trail of blood leading to where she is. Too weak to continue running she just sits there, waiting to see what happens.

She must have dozed off for a large shriek from the dragon startles her awake. Stretching quickly, she stands and dashes away from the blood trail, her wound now healed. She keeps low, running through the leaves and mud so they plaster themselves to her body, hoping they provide adequate camouflage.

Where should I go? She wonders. She just found out she was one of them; the humans would never welcome her back now. She defied the monster, so there's no going back to that life either. Where do I belong? She ponders. Slipping out of the trees, she looks out over the horizon. What had the world become? Where there was once sun and green grass there's now fire scorching the countryside and ash floating from the skies making breathing not only hard to do but extremely dangerous. With nowhere to go and no hope of survival she collapses on the ground and lets all her emotion flow out of her eyes in the form of liquid sorrow. For now she can allow herself a moment of pity, convinced she is going to die anyway. One moment, then back to the unbearable horrors of reality.