Flames of Bedlam

Ch4.4 .. Transport

I’d never seen Horizon as dedicated and desperate to work on something as she was that transport. The machine that’d acted as a refuge to us for days on end, was in fact, a large Invader vehicle that had been thrown over on its side. At first, I thought it was busted beyond repair, but Horizon had a way of fixing things that seem beyond hope.

Dragons included.

The idea was to fix the transport, take it to the nest, load the eggs, then get them out of the Crater’s influence. From there, we hadn’t decided exactly where to go. But the most logical place to take them was the Grove.

She did what she could for it while it was tipped on one side. In the meantime, Levi and I alternated keeping watch over the nest and keeping the eggs alive. They didn’t need heat incubation — it was warm enough around here — as much as they needed energy and contact.

Knowing my own previous craving for crystal energies, I recognized this instantly. This made sense to me.

Though it was painful, I’d made a few rounds outside of the Crater’s area, gathering what small natural crystals I could sense. They weren’t as dense as they were near the Grove, but wild Crystals were scattered around if you knew how to find them.

I brought them back, explained my idea, and the others allowed me to carry it out. Turns out, setting up a small ring of crystals around the surviving eggs was enough. They drew in the energies instantly. A day later, few of them began to take color, turning from the dim, grey stone-color to a living multi-hued shell.

They didn’t turn red as I feared they might, though. In fact, the Chaos that I’d sensed within them seem to be struggling to keep control when faced with stronger natural energies.

Maybe it was harder for Chaos to take control of something too innocent to tempt.

Watching this slow transformation felt good. Even if these eggs had little to do with me, though very distant and in direct. Even though they weren’t living Dragons I could see yet.

Levi praised my idea. Even Horizon seemed approving.

For once, I did something to be proud of… something that had nothing to do with destroying a city or making someone else miserable. I began to wonder if maybe, we actually had a chance in saving these eggs, after all.

“Bahamut,” Horizon called to me.

I think it was the first time I’d heard her speak my name. I’m sure for her, it was difficult. Assigning the name of a hated enemy to someone she’d traveled with and considered a friend.

I was feeling particularly energized that day. Part of it was probably due to the fact I’d kept a few of the crystals for myself. I was careful — I didn’t want to become too reliant on them for sustenance. But, the planet’s energy helped supplement Horizon’s methods and expedite the healing.

“Yes,” I responded, coming to see what she was working on.

The transport, as usual.

Her suit was getting worn out due to travel, exploration and now fixing this machine. It was caked with grime, ash and thick liquids that came from within the belly of the vehicle. From time to time, she had to wipe the ash that fogged up her goggles and mask.

Though we weren’t near the center of the Crater, prolonged contact with the burnt lands had given her face a nearly permanent ring of grey around her eyes, nose and mouth. I couldn’t help but worry at how much time we had before she also grew ill.

“I need your help,” Horizon said, completely unaware of my observations.

“My help?” I almost laughed, trying to keep the conversation light. It was awkward for both of us. “With this thing? You’re the mechanic.”

She dusted off the front of her suit. The motion was all for show. It did no good.

I could tell she was mustering up the courage for something. I didn’t know where this was leading, though.

“I need your help to turn the transport right side up,” she finally told me.

The immensity of this request struck me instantly. It seemed a simple thing. It should have been a simple thing. But it meant many things.

First, it meant the shelter we’d been relying on for so long was going to be no more. It was time to move again. Time to leave.

I suppose we could take shelter within the transport if we needed. The machine was big enough. But this didn’t cross my mind at the moment.

Second, this meant that I needed to muster the massive strength to turn the transport over. As I said before, it was big enough to house many people. It was no small vehicle. That’s why we needed it.

What she was asking me to do… was take my Dragon form.

I think physically, I was ready. Mentally… emotionally… that was another question.

“Are you sure?” I asked, trying to keep my voice level.

Horizon looked down. She knew what I was inquiring about. She, too, would have to face the Dragon-Bahamut should I transform.

“It must be done,” she finally responded.

I swallowed down my uncertainty. “I won’t…”

Awkward city. Do you know how crazy it is to try to tell someone: “I won’t hurt you when I turn into a Dragon.” “Don’t worry, I’m not hungry. I won’t eat you.” “Relax, I’ll be a nice Dragon.”

Nah. You’ve probably never needed to say these things. But I felt like I should.

Horizon gave me a frown that told me I was weirding her out. She could sense my unspoken words, my desire to tell her that she would be safe. Seeing that we were both floundering, she motioned back to the transport.

“Help me?”

It was now or never. I took a deep breath and released the energies of the Dragon.

My form ached and shuddered, rebelling as my body shifted and grew, taking on Dragon form for the first time since my fight with Bristle. My scales were still notched and scarred in many places. The flesh beneath them was still tender, threatening to bleed as everything expanded.

My wings were torn and burnt. One looked ripped to the point of flightlessness.

If my person form was in bad shape, my Dragon form was really messed up.

My breath wheezed between fangs as I hunched over in pain. My limbs trembled, threatening to give way. One leg buckled as I struggled to stay upright.

So much for the king of the Dragons. The once-mighty Bahamut.

Horizon watched my struggling transformation, backing away. I could smell her fear. But she didn’t run. She never took her eyes off me.

When I finally was able to hold myself upright, I carefully reached around the transport. I lifted it with ease. Even in my bad condition, I was many, many times larger than the machine. It weighed so little to me.

I placed it back down on the ground in an upright position. Then, with blurry eyes, I blew on it, blasting the ash and dust that had accumulated, especially on the side that was buried for so long.

I turned back to Horizon, offering her my handiwork. I tried to look proud and strong, despite my obviously battered body.

Then, to my dismay, Horizon began to cry.

“What’s wrong? Did I break it?” I immediately wondered what I’d done to cause her so much grief.

She couldn’t say anything. She just stood there, half shaking in fear, half sobbing. So tiny and fragile in the massive darkness of my shadow.

I didn’t know what to do. I wished Levi was there. He’d know the right thing to say.

But, he wasn’t. I was completely on my own. Completely lost.

And then, if all this wasn’t bad enough, my weak limbs gave way under my weight. I unceremoniously flumped in the ash, sending a great dust swirling everywhere. Giving up, I just dropped my head on the ground, finned ears drooping further and further at the pitiful sound of Horizon’s sobs.

I lay there for a little while. Then, I felt it.

A tiny, light weight on my foreleg. Cracking an eye open, I watched Horizon as she balanced over my scales, climbing up to look closer at the great slices and chips Bristle left on my flank. She continued to sniffle as she inspected my tattered wing.

Then, she laid her head against my side, as if listening to my breathing. Or maybe it was a gesture of concerned affection. I really couldn’t tell.

No one had ever really approached me as a Dragon before. No one had ever climbed on me. Come in contact with me.

I didn’t know what to do. So I held very still.

“Why do you cry?” I rumbled, though I tried to keep my voice down. It’s a hard thing to do when you’re a Dragon, let me tell you.

Horizon finally mustered the courage to look into my eye. Just one eye. That’s really all she could focus on with my head so near.

I wondered what she saw when she looked within.

“I didn’t know…” She couldn’t find the right words. This could have meant so many things at once.

“I should have told you,” I heard myself admitting. “But I couldn’t. I’m not as brave as you are.”

“Brave?” Horizon gave an odd laugh, lifting her goggles a bit to wipe her eyes. Then she sat on my claw, knees to her chest, wrapping her slender arms around them. For a moment, she looked like any other girl her age.

“You are sitting on a Dragon,” I pointed out.

“Only because you allow it,” she muttered into her knees.

I tried to think of how to reply to this. She was admitting how small she felt, when she was anything but.

“I’ve never allowed it for anyone before.”

Horizon looked up, recomposing herself. “No one?”

“I’m not a very… friendly… Dragon,” I told her. “If you couldn’t tell.”

She didn’t say anything for a while. Then, she touched a broken scale and murmured, “I didn’t realize Bristle had…”

“Beat the mess out of me?” I supplied.

She winced. Then she shook her head.

“I deserved it.”

“No,” Horizon grimaced.

“I deserve a lot worse,” I told her. I tried to let her know how much I appreciated everything she’d done. “Instead, I get a guardian Invader.”

“Yyth,” she said. The sound didn’t translate. I wasn’t sure what she meant.


“My people. They are called Yyth.”

Then, I understood. If she was able to accept my Dragon identity, she was asking me to at least respect her people by not calling them “Invaders” anymore. I suppose, somewhere along the way, it had become harder to consider them as such.

“Yyth,” I repeated, mangling the pronunciation terribly.

Through unshed tears, Horizon smiled and gave a soft laugh.