By Jacob H.
The solitary figure stood, staring at the empty world below. The pink, flat, rusty surface howled as the dust storm blew over the plain, lifting rocks and dust into the atmosphere. Echoes of the gigantic, skyscraper-filled city and all the people that had once existed only a few days previously resonated through the plain. As she glanced to the sky, the mid-afternoon sun shone through 141 million miles of space, piercing her multi-lensed green eyes and gilding her gold, scaly, human-like face. She was over seven feet tall, her thin, long, golden body draped in a bright-purple-and-gold cloth lace dress, which reached all the way down to her purple-and-gold-lace metal slippers. The dress wrapped tightly around her two spindly legs, her stick-like arms swathed in purple and gold cloth, her neck protected by an Elizabethan collar that stood high at the back and was much shorter at the front. She grasped a purple-and-gold scepter that was almost as tall as she was with her two gloved, claw-like hands, her four three-foot-long translucent-silver keratin wings arranged in an X pattern on her back, her head crowned with a golden tiara jeweled with green, red, and blue.
As she towered over her former dominion, she suddenly jerked her head up and to the right to see two green-and-red dots low on the horizon, flying towards her urgently emitting a faint whirring sound. The golden queen smiled, watching the dots quickly become two members of her fellow species, one male and one female, their wings buzzing away at full throttle as they pelted down to the surface. They gracefully landed roughly 20 feet away from their ruler, their blue eyes flashing in the chilly afternoon as they fixed their attention on her, their bright-red plastic suits of armor shimmering brightly against the sun’s rays. The green female was almost six feet tall with a thinner suit of armor, clutching closely to her side a bright-red metal laser pistol in her right hand as she stood erect in front of her queen. Her male subordinate was almost seven feet tall with a much thicker armor suit, holding a bright-red metal laser rifle across his chest. He towered over his female master and stood erect with her under military pressure. Their queen, staring questioningly at her general and lieutenant, smirked as she beckoned them towards her with her cane. They walked closer to her until they were 5 feet away from her, and then…
“So…they cleared the entire city, did they not?” the queen boomed, glancing inquisitively at the empty plains behind her. “Not one speck of my kingdom left out here. Not one bit remaining, and…”
“Sister, you really should be heading with us to the Lawrussian base,” her female general moaned shrilly. “We do not have much time left before they leave, and they know how to perform this ‘procedure’ much better than we do, and much safer.”
“Verna, I…I just…I just wanted to see what had become of Dragold City,” the golden figure replied sadly, gradually losing her royal bass tone as she drooped her head to the ground. “Even if it is just a plain now, I wished to see what had become of my former home.”
“She’s right, Your Majesty,” the male lieutenant remarked roughly. “We can’t wait here all day. The Lawrussians have little patience among themselves and even less patience with other species. Those little, furry, wolf-like—”
“That is quite enough, Grenthor,” the queen calmly interrupted her soldier with, glaring defiantly at him as he nearly dropped his rifle in shock, her voice booming once again. “I am sure that they mean the best for us, and your baseless accusations only arise from your incompetence at accepting and communicating with foreign species. I thought that you would have learned well enough from my sister to not jump to conclusions as quickly as you do, but it appears that you have not learned nearly as well as you should have.”
“I’m…sorry, Your Majesty,” Grenthor quaked, gently bowing before his queen.
“I do not sympathize with flatterers who have behaved wrongly to visitors, Lieutenant,” she retorted, her scepter diagonally to land its point nine inches away from the soldier’s left foot. “Your bowing and apologies will not have any effect on my view of you.”
“Aura, we do not have any time for this bickering! We only have three hours left before they fly back home!” Verna squealed, her face contorted into a look of terror as she moved closer to her noble sibling, craning her head up to directly face the queen. “At this rate, there will not be anyone there at all! The base is located about three hours away from here if we were to cruise at maximum speed, which I am sure you would not want to be traveling at, sister.”
“Alright, alright, Verna, I shall get ready,” Aura said, desperately trying to keep herself from throwing her full frustration at her little sister as she towered over Verna.
Aura pressed a silver button on the middle of her scepter, contracted from its usual seven-foot length to a six-inch-long stick resembling a purple-and-gold-lace hexagonal prism, and placed it into a waist pocket on the left side of her dress. She then lifted her tiara off her head, folded it in half, and placed it in her other waist pocket on the right side of her dress, which tightened in movement as an inner steel cage gradually moved down and locked the dress into place, reducing the amount of drag that the dress would cause while in flight. After she had buttoned up both pockets, she turned to face the base to the right of her, glowering defiantly as she stared between the two tall, pink, snow-less mountains that blocked the base to the south, a silver bullet-shaped ship lifting between the two peaks.
“Shall we go now, sister?” Verna asked, looking slightly worried at the thought of losing time.
The queen, still scowling away, slowly glanced back to look at her sister and lieutenant, both standing curiously at her. The afternoon sun glazed her shimmering back, leaving her smiling face pitch-black, her bright-green eyes glowing eerily as she suddenly turned her head forwards, and then…
“Sister, come back!!” Verna screamed, as a small dust cloud accumulated where Aura had been only three seconds before.
The two green Dragonians took off in hot pursuit, their queen bolting off at over 100 miles per hour towards the base. Through the mountain valleys the three of them flew, each keeping to their regular cruising speed of 115 miles per hour, flying in a tightly-knit triangle of green, red, gold, and purple. As they flew closer and closer to the base, the pink, rusty, rocky surface of the planet gave way to the edge of the southern arctic circle, a rough, white, flat mass of snow and ice which was covered with millions of tiny pockmarks. About five miles after arriving at the edge of the arctic circle, the triangle whizzed near a white, circular arctic base. This was located next to a medium-sized, sleek, black cargo ship, each surrounded by a dozen five-foot-tall, black-spacesuit-wearing beings.
Verna, Aura, and Grenthor all landed gracefully 20 feet away from the base’s ten-foot-tall steel front doors and proceeded to walk closer, their wings retracted into their backs and their walking formation in the traditional triangle with Aura in front and her sister on her right. All the spacesuit-donned wolf-human, two-legged beings of both sexes, bedazzled in white, light-grey, brown, rusty, dark-red, and several other colors of fur, turned their heads in several ways to look at the Dragonians. Some took quick glances as they proceeded with their work of packing spotlights, portable lavatories, scientific instruments, and other equipment into their cargo ship. Others paused their work for several seconds, staring wonderingly at these shiny, scaly creatures that were so foreign and unbelievably extant to them that they might as well have come from a fantasy novel. The queen extended her scepter to its full length and gripped it in her left hand, its three-pronged top glistening in the early sunset, and held it a few inches off the ground, the best to not damage the Swiss-cheese surface of the ice.
The threesome diligently approached the captain of the Lawrussian expedition party in his dark-green suit, whose thick, gloved right hand extended to shake Aura’s thin counterpart respectfully. He began to crane his neck up to come face-to-face with the queen, but she kneeled to reduce his straining, smiling cheerfully at him all the while. His thick, dark-grey fur, smattered with thin, white streaks, sucked the light out of his surrounding atmosphere so much that Verna and Grenthor both shivered a little as they stared wonderingly at him. Neither the captain nor Aura spoke a word to each other, his right hand pointing towards three eight-foot-tall, clear, cylindrical vessels slotted into holes that were placed six feet lower than the rest of the ground, glowing a brilliant blue against the dark background. These were located about 50 feet away from the base.
The four of them trotted towards the vessels, the captain in his head-forward command walk, Aura smirking casually as she scanned the rest of the base inquisitively, and Verna and Grenthor both with terrified looks on their faces as the last bit of sunlight peeked over the horizon to the west. When they arrived at the operation center, four more Lawrussians in white spacesuits encircled the vessels, all glaring and growling angrily at the three Dragonians, their sharp, white teeth exposed menacingly as they tried to stare directly at their much taller captives. Verna backed away a little, shrinking herself from the clutches of a four-foot-six-inch-tall, light-brown-haired apprentice who had bounded three feet closer to her. The captain growled furiously at the youngster, who walked back to his original location and sulked next to his masters near the five-foot-wide, white, arc-shaped control board that was lifted by four two-foot-tall stands at each end of the board.
“Are you sure these people can be trusted, sister?” Verna whispered frightfully to Aura, as the former fixed her eyes on the apprentice who had almost attacked her, then glanced rapidly from scientist to scientist as they all were growling calmly between themselves.
“I am sure that we will be alright, Verna. Are we all ready?” Aura responded in her typical booming voice, turning her head gently towards the three scientists.
The most senior of the three, a dark-brown-haired specimen who had shrunk to four feet and ten inches in height and was speckled with a few white hairs, pointed at the queen, then to the center vessel behind him, which had been marked with a small gold and purple checker pattern on its base. He then did the same to Verna, whom he directed to the vessel on his right with a red and green marking on its base, and finally to Grenthor, whom he placed in the vessel to his left with a plain black base. As each of the Dragonians came closer to their separate vessels, which had two sealed clear doors that automatically hissed to the side, they all looked behind them at the jagged mountain ranges, the expansive, rusty surface, and the two small moons in the atmosphere, their faces contorted into a mix of joy and depression, shadowed by the brilliant blue of the vessels and the last peep of sunlight on the horizon, and alight with the red glow of the moons and the white shimmer of the stars. Sadly, they walked into the centers of their tubes, turning around to face the scientists and the captain, who all were scowling in anxiety.
Inside the vessels, Aura, Verna, and Grenthor all put on transparent plastic goggles to protect their eyes, along with rubber nose and ear plugs, and watched as they descended 10 feet into the ice, the plastic shells frosting rapidly. Each of the Dragonians stood erect and inactive as they awaited the “operation” calmly. Suddenly, a low rumble resonated through the ice and the vessels, shaking them ever so slightly. Then, as 16 small, rectangular slots at the top and bottom of each container opened quickly all at once….