Rockfall hadn’t seen a storm quite like this one in over 20 years.
Him and 7 friends, Sidewinder, Bobcat, Kurenai, Cheetah, Hurricane, Jaguar, and Canyon, had been out having fun and romping around the forests in the eastern foothills of the Claws of the Clouds Mountains, near the town founded by Winter the Icewing 50 years ago.
However, just after midday, a storm had blown in off the sea, slammed into the mountains, and stayed put, forcing the 8 dragons, 3 sandwings, 2 skywings, an icewing, a seawing, and a rainwing, to hightail it home.
As they were being knocked around by random gusts of wind, lightning flashing around them, and rain falling sideways, Rockfall spotted something out of the corner of his eye.
Abruptly checking himself midair, his girlfriend Kurenai slamming into him, Cheetah slamming into her, and Bobcat just avoiding Cheetah’s barbed tail. Before Kurenai could yell, however, a thick, needle-less 60-foot pine tree flew by inches from Rockfall’s snout.
Everyone looked to the left, to see a large tornado ripping up the forest about 3/4-mile away.
Resuming their risky flight back home, and climbing into the clouds to avoid the tornado, they flew in a tightly-packed group to avoid losing one another. Yelling to one another over the storm they discussed storms from days past, and how strangely intense this one was.
After about an hour of being beaten around by the wind and rain, Rockfall was sick of it, and just wanted to be home. Rain kept smacking into his eyes and pooling on his wings, and it was annoying.
then, up ahead, he noticed a glow, like form a lightning strike, but it was consistent and lasted longer than half a second. In fact, as he got closer, it looked more like a ball.
then, as he broke through a wall of clouds, he saw that it was a ball of electricity, sizzling and crackling, about half the size of his house. However, before he could react and pull back, a strong tailwind knocked him toward it. Throwing his wings out in a desperate attempt to stop, he only made it worse, and he helplessly tumbled straight into the ball.
For a split second, he surprisingly felt no pain, only numbness, and turned around to see his friends had the same problem as him, before his world went black.
On another planet…
Jeremy rittenberry was at the controls of a 4-6-6-4 Omega-class Steam locomotive, pulling a string of 100 grain cars from Tobaxo to Grand Junction and then on to Elbert City at 55 mph on the Tobaxo Southern Railroad. Nick ornby was the conductor, who had his head out the window, looking for the next signal.
“CLEAR!” Nick yelled, announcing they had the highball (green).
“Clear!” Jeremy acknowledged, then added, “what, the signal or the sky?”
Nick chuckled, knowing it was true. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, apart from the smoke and cinders their engine, number 3149, was throwing up, and another column of smoke off in the distance, approaching fast. That was the Emerald Dragon, led by another Omega-class, number 28, and made up of 27 cars; 3 baggage, 9 coaches, 2 dining cars, 2 dome cars, 5 more coaches, 5 sleepers, and an observation car, in that order. The cars are a dark green, similar to emerald, of course, with a thin black stripe at the bottom, and a yellow stripe just above. These also continue onto the tender, and side panels on the engine, while the yellow expands to several stripes on the cowcatcher, alternating with the emerald.
The Emerald Dragon races by 3149 at 110 mph, a green, yellow, and black streak on the middle track.
Looking out the window at the picturesque Greman countryside racing by, large fields of young green corn and leafy soybeans, some fields having small tractors in them, and distant farms silhouetted against the horizon, Jeremy smiled. He loved the view he got from these trains; that, along with the speed and feel of controlling that much power helped soften the blow of low pay and long days. His family in Aldosta, a wife and 3 kids, didn’t really like it, specifically his wife, but there weren’t many other jobs available, and they were surviving, right?
At that moment, a flash of light to his left interrupted his thoughts. Looking in that direction, he saw nothing, and discouraged it as an illusion.
1,500 miles away…
Nula awoke with a start from her nap. Raising her dark-scaled head, she sensed what had woken her up; a huge burst of magic, off to the west, it’s effects still lingering, and affecting her even at this distance.
Walking to the end of her cave and looking out over the vast farmland at the foothills of the Continental mountains, she spread her yellow-orange wings, and took off.
Time to see what these idiot humans are up to now.
When Rockfall woke up, he knew he was falling, and it was sunny.
That was about it.
He opened his eyes to see a clear, sunny, cloudless sky, and his 7 friends falling with him.
Well, at least I’m not alone.
Flipping over, he flung his wings out, and once he had regained control, he started to glide, and survey the land.
It looked nothing like his home.
Plains stretched as far as the eye could see, dotted with fields and strange structures, which, even from several hundred dragon-lengths in the air, he could see were too small for dragons. Some of these fields had little shapes moving across them, shown by plumes of dust. Criss-crossing these fields were road networks, and, not far from where he was, a set of 6 shiny strips of metal, with large snake-like things running on them, also metal. He could see two, one being an emerald green, the other having a black head and a dark orange body and tail, which was partially hidden by a hill.
“what in Pyrrhia…?”
then, a low, hoarse, strange cry came from below, specifically from one of those metal snakes. Intrigued, and worried something was in trouble, he called to his friends, and, before they could argue, dived towards the ground.
Jeremy blew the whistle as 3149 rounded a slight curve, crossing a little dirt road, with a single truck full of wheat waiting. One hand on the whistle, the other waving to the truck driver, who waved back, and gave an acknowledging double blast of his own air horn, which Jeremy copied.
As the rails swept to the left and through a hill, Jeremy lowered the throttle a bit; the corner was notorious for being sharper than it looked.
Thundering through the gulley at 50 mph, a thick column of black smoke rising into the sky, and a shroud of grain dust, ash, and dirt surrounding the grain cars, 3149 and her train seemed almost living, a giant workhorse made of steam, steel, and iron.
then, as they exited the curve, still in the gulley, Jeremy saw something up ahead that took a second for him to process; a dragon, no, one, two, four, seven, eight dragons on the tracks, looking straight at him.
After a second of staring at each other, he snapped back to reality. scrambling, he yanked the whistle, threw the throttle all the way forward, and slammed the emergency brake. Immediately, the sharp bark of 3149’s pistons stopped, the whistle pierced the air, and the screech of brakes sounded from below.
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the last corn has been cut,
the last tracks torn up,
but beyond the peaks standing tall
lies fields extending to the shore
and soon we will push through the rainfall
and fill our new home with the dragon's roar