Fiction Friday; Fighter Pilots

My brain has been asking only one question ever since I finished reading Skyward by Brandon Sanderson. That question is this: What if sci-fi fighter pilots, but on dragons?

***


Phoebe Atkinson fell into line behind a tall youth with messy blond hair. His clothes were too big, his boots were falling apart on his feet, and it looked like he hadn't had a proper bath in a week or more, but he was staring skyward with the rest of them, watching with mouth agape as the huge wings of a full flight of dragons passed overhead. There must have been a dozen of them (Phoebe counted 14, but wasn't sure she'd gotten it right) with the sun shining redly through the thin membrane of their wings, outlining each bone in stark contrast.


"And if we make it in, we'll fly on those," whispered the boy. Phoebe frowned at his back, but didn't have time to comment before the adults at the head of the line started to strike a big drum, calling the attention of their hopeful applicants and the dragons above. The dragons wheeled in formation, gliding down in a layered landing pattern as they swooped in on the field.


THUD


A big bronze male.


THUD


A smaller grey male.


THUD


A large black and tan female.


THUD


The whole flight descended one at a time, sending hot gusts of wind over the applicants and sending up dust and grass clippings in little whirlwinds. As quickly as they landed, it still took a while for them all to land and line up. Of the 13 (Phoebe had counted the grey one twice, she thought) dragons that landed in the field, 12 lined up down the center, sitting side by side with their wings tucked in neatly at their sides. The last to land, a green-grey female with white markings on her face and aft paws, stood beside the adults and their drum.


And the dragon

looked

at her.


Phoebe felt like her feet were nailed to the ground. The line of applicants wavered, trembled, then dissolved as the female and her white markings stepped forward. She would have plowed through them if they hadn't moved.


In a moment, she stood in front of Phoebe, looking down into her face.


"This one," she rumbled, and Phoebe might have sworn there was almost a smile in those huge gold eyes.

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©2020 by Eleanor Taylor.

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