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  • The second sun was sitting on the horizon and it would be dark in another three minutes. He could feel the presence of his four teams along the edge of this canyon rim. Each of the warriors was teamed with a heavily armed soldier. Working as teams they each could feel where the others were and cover each other’s backs. The soldiers were solely dependent upon the warrior’s abilities to read each other’s thoughts. They had been slowly moving forward since dawn and if the smells emanating from the canyon below were any indication, they had found the lair of the dragons.

    The attack had occurred on the second day after the initial conflict. It was toward evening when the heavy artillery sounded from the mesa top. They ran to the battle and there were a half dozen of the dragon creatures circling the mesa from a great height. During the previous day they set up three batteries of artillery and built rude fortifications around them. There was no longer a single watch but two soldiers per battery at all times. Each of the warriors and soldiers was equipped with a crude shield to protect them from the flames and claws.

    The dragons quickened the attacks and came from all sides at once. It was a bloody battle with casualties on both sides. Twenty minutes into the fight two of the dragons were wounded badly and broke off from the attacks. As they headed toward their home, the soldiers stepped up their fire on the remaining four attackers. One died in midair and spun to the canyon floor.

    The three made a final pass, wingtip to wingtip, spewing flames like the fires of hell. Without their wooden shields, they would have been fried alive. As it was the hair on his body was singed and they had to beat the flames out as their shields smoldered. The dragons disappeared into the eastern sky and the wounded were carried below to be attended to. Angel and her staff were busy for half the night. The final count of dead was seven. Two warriors and five soldiers lost in one attack. They had to carry the battle to the dragon’s home ground. Fighting a war of attrition would leave them decimated within a few weeks.

    Two of his warriors and he climbed down to the canyon floor to have a closer look at the dead dragon. It looked like a huge lizard with wings until you got to the head. The mouth was large and pointy with razor sharp, needle like teeth. The skin was covered in hard scales except on the underbelly. His sword didn’t make a mark on the top, but sank in to the hilt underneath. But the smell of the beast was the worst. Not just the smell of death, but like a burnt match the sulfur odor made his nostrils itch.

    They buried him where he lay and climbed back up to the caves. After consulting with Angel, they held their first council of war. He would lead four teams consisting of a warrior and soldier on each team into the canyon lands to locate the dragon’s lair. Once located, they would decide how to best slay the dragons. They didn’t even know how many they were dealing with. They loaded backpacks with explosives and brought some of the camouflage netting to use for setting a trap or snare.

    That was yesterday morning and they had just pulled the netting tight across the top of the opening of the canyon the dragons were thought to call home. Each of the teams was slowly rappelling down the canyon walls beneath the netting. The plan was to stop halfway down and have the soldiers set up to open fire from below as the dragons flew into the netting. Their soft underbellies would be exposed and easy targets at that time. That was part B of the plan. Part A consisted of him lowering himself all the way down and setting off explosives to drive the dragons skyward.

    It had sounded good on paper, but he hadn’t figured on the half light from the moons casting eerie shadows as he finally reached the bottom. The smell was enough to gag him and he pulled his shield close and waited for his warriors to send him the ready signal. Three were ready and he was just waiting on the fourth when he felt the air in front of him move. One of the beasts was only a few feet from him and appeared to be sniffing the air. He felt his shield vibrate in his hands from a snort of air, and the dragon bumped it several times with his snout. He was fighting his panic when the dragon turned and took several paces and did the same thing to a rock outcropping. He finally circled several times like a dog and lay down to sleep.

    He thought to himself that he would probably have to clean out his shorts after that and heard the soft laughter in his head from his four warriors. Finally the fourth team was in place and it was time for him to perform. The soldiers had shown him how the explosives worked. It was like a hand grenade only smaller and easier to throw. Like the hand grenade there was a built in timer to allow for a safe throwing distance before they exploded. He had six to throw and made himself ready to hit all parts of the small canyon bottom. As soon as the last left his hand he pulled the shield against him behind a small rock formation.

    There was a delay; too long of a delay. He was just about to stick his head out when the first explosion ripped the air with an echo that added to the next explosion and so on. The air was moving as the dragons took flight. He couldn’t hear, but he could see nine of them silhouetted against the night sky as they flew up and into the netting. The netting only held them for a brief moment, but it was enough for the soldiers to wreak havoc on them. They fell back onto the canyon floor as one large mass.

    He felt his warriors and soldiers as they appeared at his side. His soldiers were talking to him, but he couldn’t hear a thing except the constant ringing in his ears. Finally one of his warriors grabbed him by the shoulders and thought while looking into his eyes “Are you hurt?” He shook his head and thought back, “No, why do you ask?” She wiped her hand across his forehead and showed him the blood that came away. He stared at it for a moment before “It’s not mine.” He was covered in the blood of dragons.

    Suddenly there was a high pitched squealing coming from deep in one of the caves. The soldiers readied their weapons and they moved as one to meet the new threat…
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