Author : Jae Miles, Staff Writer

From orbit, this island must look like charred toast floating in a soup of boiled seafood. They’ve rained fire upon us for hours. Not sure what we did, but, as Lailoken always said “It isn’t about what you’ve done, it’s what they think you’ve done, or what they think you’re going to do.”

Another wave of fury crashes across my back. I don’t know why they bother. The rocks won’t burn unless they turn up the heat a lot.

There’s nothing visible left to burn –

Except me.

Ah-ha.

Well, that took an embarrassingly long time to realise. So, Lailoken and just about everything else I’ve ever known have been incinerated during an attempt to annihilate me. An entire civilisation and the land it inhabited laid waste because folk always judge by what they would do. And, given sway over me, them up there would rampage. Therefore, they thought themselves to be in danger, because they didn’t believe that anyone could possibly mean what was said about peace with something like me available.

Callow men and distrust; petty minds never breed noble motives. The goad for the recent unrest becomes clear. Finally, I understand what you said about true prescience being like ‘hindsight in advance’, Lailoken.

But, we are as our natures dictate. In the end, our veneers fall away. For them, cowardice, greed, and tyranny are natural states. I am left with a choice. Do I do as I am capable, as my ‘nature’ should mandate, or as I prefer?

Mgixyn shouts up at me, her voice filled with fear: “Dynas, how will we escape? You can’t carry us all and the fires they throw will slay us even if they don’t hit us.”

She makes a point that contains my answer: I cannot save the children while the bombardment continues. Therefore, the bombardment must end. To stop the bombardment, I will have to break a few things. Thus, preference and capability will meet.

So be it. As the fiery hail abates once again, I twist my neck, bringing my head level with the cave entrance, so all can see me. Although those amidst the clutter at the back will only see a silhouette.

“Stay here. I’m going to ask them to stop.”

They nod and hunker down.

I leap. With a crack that echoes off the far mountains, my wings expand and I rise, shedding debris as I go. By the time I blast through the LEO debris layer, my hide is scoured clean. Levelling out as I clip MEO, I ‘breathe fire’- using a focussed in-system portal between my open maw and a solar flare event. That lets me spray a lot of blazing coronal cloud about. Things get bright as stuff either blows up, melts down or gets blasted to ashes. I can hear their distress calls, but, really, they started this slinging-hot-stuff-around lark. Hardly my fault if I’m better at it than they are. That’s just evolution. Works for hypernatural war machines as well as monkeys.

After re-entry, I descend in a leisurely glide, letting the extremes of my foray dissipate while picking out landmarks for our trip to the coast.

I land in a gust of ash, my claws settling back into the ruts they left.

Wide eyes look up at me. Clamouring voices rise.

“Have they stopped?”

“Is it safe?”

I nod. Their eager preparations are a joy. Sheltered here, they missed seeing the horrors. They will survive.

Under my scorched wings, they will thrive.

And that’s as good an oath as any.

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