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Dragon Corp.

by Christine St. Martin 2 months ago in Sci Fi
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Fresh Meat

There weren't always dragons in the Valley. Hell as far as I know there were never any dragons and from what I hear life was just fine without them. Before the dragons came. No one ever had to deal with this...

Order to Report For Training

The Greater Good,

To Cory Joseph Aldren.

Order No. 3308

GREETING:

Having been submitted to a local board composed of Overseers to determine your eligibility for training and service in the Armed Forces of the United States, you are hereby notified that you have now been selected for training and service in the Dragon Corps.

You will therefore report to the Dragon Corp. Training Academy at 3:45 p.m. on the 26th day of March 2145.

The Local Board of Overseers will furnish transportation to an induction station of the academy. There you and your dragon will be examined for training and service and be inducted into the proper branch of service.

Willful failure to report to the academy within 72 hours of this notice is a violation of the Selective Training and Service Act of 2020 as amended and subjects the violator to imprisonment and termination.

We look forward to your compliance.

The Greater Good

Cory reread the letter repeatedly, each word sinking in deeper and deeper like a fishing lure hitting the water. What was he going to do? He never wanted to go join the Dragon Corps let alone join the academy. Everyone knew the Greater Good had secret police, every government throughout history has had hidden surveillance but it was very unnerving that they would already know about him finding an egg in less than twelve hours of its discovery. His friends didn’t even know let alone his mother. How could they?

Cory’s thoughts were all over the place but one thing that was foremost in his mind was his mother. his dad disappeared from them before he was born and even though his mom never said a word against his father, Cory felt in his heart that his dad was a no-good deadbeat who just couldn’t handle the responsibility of having a family. He had vowed to never be like his dad and to never abandon his mom and yet here he was being put in the position of breaking that vow. It wasn’t fair, why him? Cory turned his gaze toward his closet where hidden in the pile of dirty laundry was the egg he had found on his chair as if someone had just placed it there like a foreboding Easter gift. He knew that the egg wasn’t directly to blame, but he couldn’t help the resentment rising in his throat like a thick black poison. Cory tried taking deep breaths but it felt like all he was doing was fanning the flames; unable to stop himself he flung open the closet door and ripped through the pile of laundry until he uncovered the egg. As he held it in his hands examining the smooth ridge-like texture of the shell he felt a throbbing warmth from the egg which only served as a reminder of the creature inside responsible for disrupting his life. Cory couldn’t help the searing hatred he had for it. Why did it have to come to him? He was fine he was happy. He and his mom had a normal life; sure they didn’t have much but it was theirs. Now because of some prehistoric reptile, he would never see her or his friends ever again. The egg began to throb faster and faster as if it was afraid. The rhythm made him realize he had been squeezing the egg. Snapping out of his rage Cory sat on his bed with a sigh. He couldn’t do it, even though it was because of this thing he was being drafted he couldn’t take it out on the creature. Studying the swirling deep greens and purples in the onyx black shell he continued to think. His mom always said that losing your head never did anyone a bit of good. As if summoned he heard the car door signaling that she was home. Sighing he stood up and grabbed the blanket from his bed and made a makeshift nest on his desk repositioning his desk lamp so that it was directly over the egg. “I’m hoping that biology experiment in fifth grade pays off even though you’re not a chicken.” Cory sighed and grabbed the letter along with the rest of the mail. It was their nightly ritual; at the end of the day when she got home she would have a cup of tea and they would sit and talk about their day at the kitchen table sometimes for hours. That table was the cornerstone of how his mom navigated through all the potholes of parenting, especially during puberty. Now he was going to have to rip that away. As he entered the kitchen he saw his mom already sitting at the kitchen table taking off her shoes.

“Hey Honey, how was school today?” she asked. Forcing a smile he put the kettle on the stove and set it on high.

“Good,” he replied he filled her in on the day he had in school. Hanging out with his best friend during lunch, acing his calculus test, and feeling confident about his history test. He let her know that it was a strong possibility that he failed his chemistry test and consequently more than likely be failing the entire class. As he filled her in on the events he didn’t turn around to face her, just continued to face the stove pretending to be engrossed in waiting for the pot to whistle. He could feel her eyes boring into the back of his neck. He could tell he wasn’t doing a good job of hiding the fact he was troubled. Luckily his mom always told him that she never believed in ever asking people questions “just give them time, when they’re ready they’ll give their answers.”

“Well, that’s unfortunate especially since you’ve been studying so hard for that test. Maybe we need to get you a tutor?” Her tone of voice let him know she didn’t believe that his grade was troubling him he could tell she was using it to feel around for what he was thinking. The kettle began to whistle and boil over, taking out a mug he put in the leaves and poured the hot water knowing that his time for stalling had run out yet as he set down the tea in front of her and sat down he still couldn’t talk around the boulder lodged in his throat.

“Have you checked the mail today?”

Balls. He handed her the pile of mail and watched as she carefully scanned through each envelope until she came across the open parchment envelope with its metallic red lettering. She didn’t even pull out the letter before Cory saw her eyes begin to mist and tear. She grabbed his hand while still staring at the envelope and wiped away her tears, sniffing; she said “Oh look at me; crying has never done anybody any good. I was hoping I’d never have to see one of these letters ever again.”

“You’ve seen this letter before?” His mother never spoke of anyone she knew getting drafted into the Corps. She didn’t answer, but took out his letter and scanned through each word carefully. It felt like an eternity had passed though she had to have reread the letter twenty times. Finally, she sighed and put down the letter pinching the bridge of her nose. He knew she was thinking, he waited to hear a plan or some words of hope but he knew that wasn’t his mom’s style. She knew as well as he did that there was no getting out of this and his mom was never one to give anyone false hopes or delusions.

“Okay so how are you doing?”

It took him a minute, here she was being faced with the reality that not only was he being shipped off to parts unknown and would never see each other again and she was still worried about how he was.

“What do you mean how am I doing? Mom, I’m being drafted I’ve never even wanted to join the Dragon Corps let alone think I’d ever qualify for it.” He got up and stormed to his room; his mom called after him but he wasn’t leaving he just had to show her. He grabbed the egg from its makeshift nest and gently placed it in front of her. She stared at the egg and sighed.

“Cory I know you’re scared and it’s okay. But you have to stop looking at this like it’s the end of the world.”

“How can it not be? You know as well as I do anyone who goes into the corps is never heard from again.”

“Baby, you need to breathe and relax. Focus on the facts and differentiate what you do and do not have control over.”

“Mama, I know the facts and I feel like there is nothing I can do I need your advice. Should I dodge this and you and I run? I can ask Jake and Roberta if they want to come an-“

“Cory Joseph Aldren now why would you go and do a fool thing like that for? Now hush up and listen to me. Yes, you are being drafted for whatever reason you were chosen. Now no use getting all in a tizzy over it, it's over it’s done, but you still have a choice about what you will and will not do along this path. I have always told you if there is a will there is a way if you will that you and I will see each other again then so it shall be. It may not be right after you report or while you’re in the academy but it will happen. Just because you don’t have control over where your path is you can control the direction you go in and the twists and turns you take and how you walk it. If you go on this journey with a clear and open mind and always look at the facts and trust your instincts you could be in store for a wonderful destiny, but only if you can maintain your cool calm, and collected mind otherwise you are going to get yourself into a world of trouble that you may not be able to dig yourself out of.” His mother’s words, though stern and grave seemed like a soothing balm on his nerves; the tightness in his chest began to ease as his emotions became easier to reign in.

“Keep in mind honey just because we are not together doesn’t mean our bond will snap. Someone once told me that love exceeds every boundary. So this is no excuse why you cannot still have a normal life to grow into an amazing man meet a good woman and have a family and no reason why we will not see each other again.” She gestured towards the egg her face softening as if looking at a baby.

“And sweetheart I implore you not to harbor any hatred for this creature. Hate gives birth to hate and you are now going to be in charge of one of the most beautiful, powerful, and dangerous creatures unknown to man. Whether this was part of your plan or not is irrelevant you two are going to be a unit and for you two to be in harmony you need to be disciplined in not just your body but your mind as well. A perfect balance of logic and instinct.”

“Geez, Ma you make it sound like the damn thing is either my baby or my girlfriend I’m not quite sure. And I know you’re not Roberta’s biggest fan but she isn’t a scaly fire-breathing lizard.”

“I know… That’d be an insult to dragons everywhere.” She snickered into her tea, Cory couldn’t help but smile. He may not have felt a hundred percent better at least he didn’t feel like he was drowning in a lake.

“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy or that everything is going to be Happily Ever After, but I will say that I feel based on the facts and the evidence I have before me that everything is going to be all right.”

“I know Ma, it’s just that I am worried that they are going to try to turn me into something that I’m not. I mean can you blame me? No one knows anything about what goes on at the academy and let’s face it The Greater Good can say they are bringing peace to the world but isn’t that what all of history oppressing governments and dictators have said? I mean for peace there sure are a lot of countries and people being ‘persuaded’ at the exact moment they are looking at an army of indestructible fire breathing monsters that up until two hundred years ago didn’t even exist and surpasses all science which is now the new magic and-“

“Cory, Cory you’re rambling again and while I do agree with your train of thought the question is what are you going to do about it? You can either ramble about it or look at what’s going on to develop a deeper understanding and then use it to change everything for the better. You both can, now you go put this baby someplace warm and go on off to bed you still have school tomorrow.”

“Still? I’m leaving Ma does it matter?”

“Yes, it still matters now go on,”

“All right Mama, see you tomorrow.”

“See you, tomorrow baby.”

Despite the weight of what was to come hanging over his head Cory still managed to fall into a deep albite troubled sleep; his dreams prevented him from finding complete peace. All he remembered was being in a dark place, where he felt a multitude of different sensations. The ground felt soft and moist like it was covered in moss yet the air was still and hot. His throat burned from the sulfur and smoke in the air; everything had the makings of a nightmare yet there was no fear just a sense of calm as if he knew that whatever lurked in the shadows meant him no harm and there was indeed something lurking for he heard a voice beckoning “Come find me.” The disembodied voice commanded him faintly three times and yet Cory could not force himself to move. He didn’t feel physically restrained, but it was as if his mind and his muscles were not speaking to each other. Vaguely a new sensation crept upon him and he felt something slithering around his legs; winding itself up his body yet it was too dark to see what it was. He felt it level with his face and yet still could not make out its features as it rubbed against his face like a cat then in a swift turn he felt a stabbing pain in his neck and whatever it was that had at first cozied up to him was now feasting on him. The dream switched off in a flick to the blinding light of the sun streaming between the blinds and the sound of his alarm clock and his mother bursting into his room.

“Cory you’re running late; get dressed and I’ll drop you off at school.”

He groaned as he leaped out of bed. Well, that was one way he could dodge the draft. He can’t be labeled a coward if he died in a car collision caused by a woman that drove her car as if she stole it. Sure enough, when he got in the car Cory made peace with whatever god he felt would listen as his mom weaved through traffic narrowly missing other vehicles; practically being so far up their bumpers he could tell what they had for breakfast as his mom blurted out obscenities about how other drivers may or may not have acquired their driving certifications from inside a Cracker Jack box.

“Mom you can’t yell at other drivers for going the speed limit.” He gritted out as he held onto the seat for dear life.

“Oh come on the speed limit is a suggestion it’s not going to kill them to go a little faster.”

“Studies would disagree with you.” He mumbled. Finally, they reached the school with fifteen minutes to spare and even more amazingly enough in one piece.

“Have a great day honey, I’ll see you after school, and good luck.”

“Thanks, mom.” He smiled and grabbed his backpack. Almost immediately Roberta grabbed his arm swinging to his side.

“Hey baby, Gawd when are you going to get your own car? It’s embarrassing that your mom drops you off everywhere and I’m sorry but I am NOT showing up to homecoming being dropped off by your mom can you say “Loser”?”

Cory listened as Roberta droned on; after a year together he learned that all that was expected of him was to be present. She didn’t need him to carry on a conversation heck he’s been able to put down the phone to play his game or finish his homework for hours without her even taking a breath, but today needed to be different.

“Look Roberta I need to talk to you about something.”

“Umm hello, I was talking. Rude much?”

He spun her around so that she was facing and looked her straight in the eye so that she could see the grave look on his face. “Look Babe any other day I’d gladly listen to blather on about god knows what, but right now I need you to listen to me.”

“Okay scale back on the drama and tell me what’s got your panties in a bunch.” She rolled her eyes but at least she was quiet. Taking a deep breath he told her everything.

“Roberta I got drafted, I’m leaving the day after tomorrow.”

“What? Okay, not funny Cory.”

“Berta I’m serious.”

“Come on babe no offense but why would the Corps want you? Don’t take this the wrong way but you’re not exactly… built for the military let alone the most elite military branch our government has.”

“Wow, thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“Hey don’t take it out on me you’re not as tall or built as other guys. I mean take Jake, for example, he’s captain of the football team, he’s tall and built I mean when you think of Dragon Corps he would be the poster boy. I’m sorry you wouldn’t make it out of the Academy let alone the corps.”

“Well even though you think I am not “built” for the job, I’ve been drafted here take a look.” He pulled out the letter from his back pocket. Rolling her eyes she snatched the letter from him and began to read it; as she got further down her eyes began to widen,

“No this can’t be happening; you can’t do this to me. You cannot flake on me a month before homecoming. I already picked out the dress and the matching corsage and your tux. I mean do you know how hard it was to find a color scheme that was going to compliment both our skin tones and not wash you out for the photos?”

“Okay please don’t take this as that I am being insensitive to your hard work of making sure we match for homecoming, but how are you the victim here?”

“Excuse me?”

“What I mean is; I’m the one getting shipped off and you’re here worried about a dance.”

“Well excuse me for the world not revolving around you for five seconds.”

“Revolving around me? It’s never about me I mean Hell we’ve had four-hour phone conversations where you’re talking and you can’t even pause enough to breathe let alone notice that I’m not even on the phone. So please tell me what it is you’d like me to do to make YOU feel better?”

Even though he was being facetious she stopped and thought then smiled and twirled her hair as she said “Well you could dodge it.”

“Come again? You wanna run that by me one mo’ ‘gain?”

“Oh come on this is the perfect way for you to make it up to me. I’m not saying dodge it forever just until after then you can go. I’m sure as long as you show up and explain the situation they’ll understand.”

“Make it up to you? I have nothing I have to make up and no they are not going to understand that I dodged a summons because my girlfriend has an unhealthy obsession for a dance that in ten years won't mean shit?”

“Gawd you are so selfish.” She yelled back at him. By this time people had gathered around them to watch the spectacle.

“I’m selfish?” He asked in disbelief “You’re asking me to commit treason punishable by death. My mother will be arrested and “interrogated” for my whereabouts whether she knows them or not until I am found. You know what forget it I’m done.” He pushed through the crowd that had gathered around them and ran inside; he had never been so happy to hear the bell it was like the beckoning of a church bell and he was Quasimodo shouting for sanctuary.

Roberta was his dream girl he had had a crush on her since they were in fifth grade; she was beautiful with long straight black hair, and her makeup made her look naturally gorgeous, with long legs and a perfectly… “proportioned” body. He pined for her to the point of obsession and even though everyone saw her as a cold, shallow, and self-absorbed airhead he always came to her defense. He believed that was just the persona she showed everyone and that deep down she was as beautiful inside as she was outside and when she finally noticed him a year ago he thought it was a dream come true. Now that vision was shattered and it pained him to admit that everyone was right; she was beautiful on the outside and it was just as fake as her perfectly made-up face.

School passed by in a blur for Cory, he drifted from class to class, and thankfully none of the teachers bothered him. He was relieved when his final period came because not only did it signal that school was almost over but it was his favorite class. Cory walked in and headed towards the broken-down ’67 Chevy in the middle of the garage that served as their classroom until he felt a hand forcibly spin him around.

“What the hell was that all about today?” His friend Jake spat out.

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about that stunt you pulled in the quad this morning. Why would you embarrass Roberta like that?”

“You know I find it funny how you're so concerned about MY girlfriend."

“Please you know that if I wanted her I could have had her a long time ago."

“Oh yes because you are such a stud. I’m getting shipped off to the Academy and you’re upset that I embarrassed the two of you? Get your hand off of me.

“I’d watch how you talk to me keep in mind you’re only on the map because you’re dating her and our friendship.”

“No I’m “on the map” because I’m a straight-A student, I play hockey, and oh yeah I don’t participate in high school drama BS. So back the hell off.”

Cory saw the anger and jealousy in Jake's face, he knew that if he heard about the argument with Roberta then he had to know that he had been drafted. Jake was the one that always dreamed of being chosen for the Academy and worked hard to become fit for it; as if sports and working out were a deciding factor to being chosen by an egg.

“I don’t get why they would pick you. A fish stick like you wouldn’t make it five minutes in basic let alone the Corps.” Jake spat.

“Oh yeah because being a muscle-headed ignoramus would make you the prime candidate or is it that you are automatically entitled to get what you want? God, you are a cliché.” Cory turned to leave but Jake hit him square in the jaw. Cory was about to tackle Jake when he heard a booming voice from the door.

“Does someone want to explain to me what the bloody hell is going on or do I just start slapping heads?” Still on the floor, Cory saw the tall burly form of his teacher Mr. Blough standing behind Jake.

“Nothing was just helping Cory off the floor. Guys a complete klutz.” Jake was used to having all the teachers in the palm of his hand, unfortunately, Mr. Blough was not one of those teachers that bought into the golden boy all-American act.

“Uh-huh, funny it looked like he had it under control, or maybe sailing through all those classes has failed to teach you that people don’t need help off the floor if you don’t push them down with your fist.” Mr. Blough’s face was unreadable as the class erupted into laughter and oohs.

“Now if you’re done making a bigger ass out of yourself than usual I’d suggest you go pretend to work on the car. You know it’s that big honking metal thing right there in the middle of the room.” Jake rolled his eyes as he did what he was told.

“Now can you get up or is the floor that interesting?”

“I don’t know the fact this is the one classroom I've seen with a concrete floor rather than linoleum is pretty cool.” Cory fired back as he got to his feet.

“Well since you’re done studying it, head on over and start dropping down the subframe.”

“Yes sir.” Cory walked towards the car and started jacking it up.

Thankfully class continued peacefully but ended too soon. Cory put back his tools and was about to grab his things when Jake “Accidently” knocked his stuff to the floor spilling the contents.

“Oops, shouldn’t have left your backpack open.” He mocked. As Cory knelt to pick up his belongings.

“You know he’s right; you know about your backpack being unzipped.”

“Gee thanks you know it wouldn’t have stopped him from knocking it down right?”

“Oh, I know it just would have stopped it from spilling all over my floor. Once you’re done there come over here for a spit would ya?”

After Cory got all his gear; making sure to zip it up he sat in the chair across from Mr. Blough’s desk. “What’s up?”

Mr. Blough went from relaxed to stern as he lowered his legs leaning forward across the desk without speaking; his gaze drilling into Cory as if he was boring all the answers he wanted out of him. The students usually avoided Mr. Blough like the plague because many found him intimidating. Right now, Cory agreed that yes Mr. Blough was very intimidating. Not because he looked like a biker with clothing, tattoos, physique, and beard; but because of how he walked and how he looked at you like he’d seen and been around long enough to strip away a person and leave behind their essence.

“I can tell you have some questions so nut up and ask.”

Before he could think Cory blurted out “Have you ever been to jail?” Cory couldn’t believe he had just asked that of his teacher, it was as if the words just spewed out like word vomit and were now sitting on his desk in a slimy heap. Without missing a step Mr. Blough replied in a matter-of-fact tone “yes.”

“What did you do?”

Cory could see the regret clouding his mentor’s eyes. “I got mixed up with a lot of bad people doing worse things. I hurt a lot of people whether they be good, bad, or worse what I did wasn’t right by a long shot.”

“H-how long were you in there?”

“Fifteen years; I got out right before they commissioned prisoners into mandatory military service. SO if you’ve satisfied your curiosity tell me; how are you?”

“I’m doing okay.”

“Don’t you dare lie to me boy. You telling me that you’ve had all this placed on your shoulders and you’re just A-Okay?”

“What do you want me to say? ‘No, I’m not okay? I am scared and angry and I can’t do a damn thing?’ It’s not going to change a damn thing. They are going to take me and twist me into something I don’t want to be and not give one piss about it and as soon as they are done with me they’ll throw me aside.”

“And what is it you don’t want to be that you are so afraid of?”

“ A killer; They are going to force me to use that- that thing to slaughter people who say no to them and there is nothing I can do to stop it.” The words exploded out of his mouth and with them a bittersweet relief.”

Mr. Blough leaned back in his chair his hands behind his head and a wide smile playing across his face. “Now was that so hard? Now that we got that out of the way let's talk Boyo”

END OF CHAPTER ONE

Sci Fi

About the author

Christine St. Martin

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