Flames of Bedlam

Ch3.2 .. Transfer

“Tell us what you know about the Dragons,” Levi half instructed, half requested of our Invader prisoner. Figures he’d start going soft on her.

It didn’t matter to me that she was a she — all Invaders were equally evil and terrible in my mind. Only, she didn’t struggle when I lashed her hands together behind her body, tying her to a tree. She sat quietly, just regulating her breathing after the incident with the mask.

Either she knew that she was good as dead, or she was confident that someone was going to come looking for her. That’s why we put a few hours of distance between us and the pillar of smoke before making our own, fireless camp. I knew that walking distance was easily cleared by machines, but it was better than nothing.

The prisoner lifted her head slowly, the strange orange-gem eyes focusing through the oversized goggles at Levi. I surmised that if the natural make-up of our air wasn’t breathable, it was likely irritating to her eyes as well. The mask and goggles were connected to a partial helm, which hooked over the top of her head.

I couldn’t describe her skin as scaly, but it had a different, more pronounced texture from our own. Depending on the light and her environment, she almost seemed to change colors — anywhere from a lime green to a yellow-orange. I could almost make out what looked to be a striped pattern under the mask.

The mask itself was transparent. Through it, I saw her nose was a pronounced slope, with two slitted nostrils that were almost invisible. Her mouth and chin were also not prominent. Though, again, it was difficult to tell with the suit’s high collar and the mask’s apparatus in the way.

She had something that passed for hair, which peaked out from under the helm and streamed down past her shoulders. Imagine a bunch of vines, but put feathers along the stem rather than leaves. There’s the best description of her hair I can give. Only thing is, sometimes it seemed alive. Or, at least, a part of her body she could move.

Really weird.

“Do you understand what I asked?” Levi followed up when she didn’t speak. Then he looked at me, “You didn’t break whatever was translating for us in that mask, did you?”

“I don’t know,” I shrugged. I wanted to retort that I would have broken a lot more than just the mask if he hadn’t stopped me.

“I hear you,” she finally answered, hanging her head a bit. She looked tired. But that wasn’t my concern. “I’m just not sure what you mean by Dragon.”

Even through the translation device, it was poorly pronounced, as if she was trying to speak a word in sounds that her mouth was never meant to make. I suppose I can’t blame her for not knowing what a Dragon was. I didn’t, either, until a little while ago.

“The flying creatures that destroyed the cities,” Levi explained.

She made a garbled sound of displeasure in her throat. Eyes slitted, she almost sneered, “Why do you need information on the beasts you sent to kill us?”

“It’s… kinda complicated.”

I chided Levi, reminding him of our purpose. “Don’t make conversation with it.”

Levi just looked at me and sighed.

“Did you just call me an it?” The Invader said, sounding on the edge of outrage.

“And what if I did?” I smirked, bringing my own face only inches from hers.

She tried to enter a glaring contest with me — she had guts, I admit — but lost quickly. Trying to pull the the brave card. Obviously absolutely terrified about her position. I could even smell the fear around her.

Or… well, maybe it was some other sort of Invader smell. You know, I don’t think I want to pursue that line of thought.

“All I know are that your Dragons destroy our cities,” she told us. “They take down the domes, and kill anyone who survives.”

“The domes,” I echoed. I remembered that. The city I attacked also had a dome. Likely, it was to provide a proper environment for these creatures to live in. I mused to myself, though I made sure she could hear me, “So taking out your domes is the most effective way of taking out your population.”

Her eyes widened as she realized her mistake, and began to sputter in frustration, “No! I mean…”

Levi held up a hand to her, trying to calm her with a motion. “It’s okay. We’re not here to attack your people.”

I snorted. “Speak for yourself.”

“Fine,” he turned to the Invader. “I’m not here to attack your people. He’s just being a hard nose.”

“And you’re a bleeding heart,” I accused. “She’s sitting there acting all innocent when the next moment, she could kill us both with… I don’t know… laser eyes or something.”

The Invader rolled her head around with a sound of disdain, “I don’t have laser eyes.”

“Would you admit it if you really did?”

She gepped a sound which translated roughly to, “Give me a break.”

“Alright. Both of you,” Levi stepped into our banter. Then he looked at me. “Don’t forget we’re here to do a job.”

I just crossed my arms.

“You said you wouldn’t attack my people,” the Invader’s voice quavered. She knew she’d given too much away.

“Our job isn’t to attack you. It’s to find and stop the Dragons,” Levi answered.

I wanted to throw my hands in the air and make a big show about how Levi may as well have just handed all of our intel to this weird Invader girl. I decided to see how the conversation turned out, instead. I took a step back and let Levi deal with the mess he made.

“Say that again?” She asked. She shook her head, rattling something in her helmet as if she thought it was broken.

“I said, we’re trying to stop the Dragons,” Levi repeated.

“Stop them from attacking us?”


“Why?” She puzzled. “Didn’t you send them?”

I did,” I spoke up with a stern frown.

“Then why stop them?”

“Because they’re out of control. The power they’re drawing on to destroy your cities could grow so dangerous as to destroy us all,” Levi picked his words carefully.

The Invader let out a long groan, dropping her head back against the tree she was tied to. “Why did I ever ask for a transfer to the Far Sector?”

I wanted to demand to know what that meant. Levi was talking again, instead.

“So if you can tell us anything about where the Dragons are, or where they came from, we need to know.”

She didn’t say anything for a while. Then she pulled herself together and told him, “If I did know, I’d tell you. We’ve been without communication for weeks. Our group is all that’s left of the northern outpost. All the rest fell when the Dragons attacked.”

So that’s why she was without a fighting machine.

“Then you’re a fighter-type?” I assumed. If she was stationed at an outpost, she must have had some sort of importance.

“Me?” The translated laugh was a little weird, but I knew what it was. “No. I’m just a Junior Tech. I transferred out here to earn some credits. I didn’t know there was an uprising. They said the cities were safe…”

“What’s a Junior Tech?” Levi echoed her words. They were roughly translated and sounded weird coming from his mouth.

“I’m studying to upgrade and fix machinery.”

“Studying? Like a student?” His tone turned surprised.

“You’re getting in too deep,” I reminded him. “She’s our enemy.”

Her eyes widened through the goggles. Her voice squeaked, “Am I?”

“Of course you are,” I was getting impatient with this little game. I spread my hands and began to pace up and down our camp, making my voice heard. “Your people come to our home, take it from us and enslave us to fight your wars for you. We suffer and suffer… you treat my people like animals!”

“I… I don’t understand…” She was shaken by this. It was almost a convincing act.

“You throw us like fodder at the Adversary, who won’t just roll over and die, while you continue to claim our land for your own,” I snarled. “What’s there to understand?”

“That’s not at all… what my transfer flier said about this place…” She let out a frightened breath.

“Well, someone told you wrong, then.”