The sun was shining brightly in the cloudless blue sky, and the trees were dancing in the gentle breeze. A sweet smell of flowers lingered in the air, as crystal clear water gracefully flowed down a shallow stream. This was the perfect dream, a dream of home and a dream of hope. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long.
A loud siren and the flashing of red lights snapped me back into reality. It did so, so violently that I found myself sitting up right away. As the others in my team jumped off their bunk beds and got dressed, I slipped out from under my warm blanket and reached for my communicator. Once in my ear, I immediately knew what was going on.
“Kindly report to your stations immediately. We are under attack,” the robotic female voice repeated, too calm for a distress wake up call.
Following her orders, I quickly put on my suit and made my way to the door. As the other men in my team joined the stream of rushing fighters, cadets, and everyone else that were far more important than me, in the main hallway, I began to wonder if this was the last day of my life. Was I going to explode together with this massive vessel when it takes a deadly hit from the alien force outside? The chances are… I might.
Pushing those thoughts out of my head, I found myself standing at the entrance of the white walled dormitory. But just as I was about to join the stream of people, a sudden and forceful tremor sent me sprawling on all fours. I heard questions being raised all around me immediately, but I got the answer first.
“Dex, Red Dragon has jammed! Fix it now!” the chief engineer of the starship shouted in my ears.
Hearing those words, I responded with a quick ‘O.K’ and jumped to my feet. The Red Dragon was the mother of weapons on our ship. She was the wall breaker in battles, shooting a glaring ray that broke through force fields with ease. With the Red Dragon down, we were sure to lose.
Suddenly, I felt important. The minute engineer in this giant vessel now had a role to play, and I was determined to save the day. Picking up pace, I dashed through the panicky crowd and scrambled down flights of stairs to the base of the ship. Once I was in the engine room, I headed to a metal trapdoor on the floor, engraved with the warning, ‘Do not enter during battle’. Whoever decided the warning probably never envisioned a real battle.
Without wasting anymore time, I swept my identification wrist tag across the door and it slid open. Once I saw the ladder leading downwards, I jumped into it and hurried down. When I reached the bottom, I was standing in a triangular room with the Red Dragon positioned at the front. It was a huge, cylindrical weapon with tubes connected to it. It also occupied the entire room, giving me barely any space to move about. Hence, it was not hard to find the reason of the weapon being jammed.
“Dex, what’s the hold up?!” the chief engineer demanded through my communicator.
“There’s a dent in the wall pushing up against the Red Dragon,” I said.
“Fix it!” the chief engineer ordered.
I had no idea what he wanted me to do, as the dent was not something I could kick back in place. As I took a closer look at the Red Dragon, I noticed that a couple of its tubes were disconnected from the weapon, and the dent was making it impossible for me to reconnect them. Cracking my head for a solution, I attempted to kick the wall.
Leaning against the ladder, I gave the hardest kick I could give. There was a loud thump but the dent remained. Just as I was about to give it another go, another sudden tremor sent me stumbling forward. My chest landed heavily onto the back of the weapon, forcing the air in my lungs out. Quickly drawing in a deep breath, I returned to my position at the ladder and gave another kick.
“We need the Red Dragon now!” the chief engineer’s voice screamed in my ear.
I know! I thought to myself. When the chief engineer began demanding a miracle, I pulled my communicator off and threw it to the ground. Then, without having any other option, I kicked continuously at the dent in the wall.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve! I stopped to catch my breath. My brief resting period was accompanied by another tremor that propelled me towards the dent. It was then that I noticed the little difference I made through my kicks.
Picking up the tubes on the ground, I began locking them into their positions through the gap I had made. The moment the last tube was secured, the Red Dragon began glowing red. That was when a new wave of panic hit me. The Red Dragon was charging and the control center did not even care that I was with it. Dashing back to the ladder, I shuffled up the steps quickly and when I hit the metal door, I frantically waved my wrist tag across it.
At that very moment, seconds felt like hours. As the rumbling sound of the Red Dragon reached my ears, I pushed my palm violently on the metal door. If I did not leave now, I would be toast! Just as the rumbling hit an inaudible pitch the door finally slid open. Pushing my way out, I was safely outside of the Red Dragon’s lair a second before the floor beneath me heated up; a sign that the Red Dragon was just fired.
It did not take me long to feel insignificant again. I was nearly collateral damage and I did not feel any better about it even after we won the war. The Red Dragon successfully took down the enemy’s defences, making their mother ship vulnerable to our attacks. Once the mother ship was down, they fled. Hurray.
As I stood with the crowd outside the command center, I found myself lacking a cheer for the captain and his team. I was going to let them pass me by, but to my surprise, someone decided not to. The captain, a man I knew but never spoke to, stopped in his tracks when he was in front of me and said, “Thank you.”
At first, I thought I was imagining the whole scene. But after hearing him repeat the words and giving my shoulder a squeeze, I found myself nodding my head with a small smile. Suddenly, I felt valued. It may seem as though my feelings are prone to flipping sides, but I can assure you it would not any longer. The captain thanked me because he knew I was important to the win. And no matter how small or low I ranked in this giant vessel, I was needed.
For once in my life, I knew I was right where I belonged. Not home on earth, but in space as an engineer that made a difference.
Do you feel small and insignificant? Like a spec of dust that makes no difference in this world? Let me just tell you that you’re quite the opposite. Not all of us were meant to make headlines and be a star, but all of us were meant to make a difference. Wherever we are in life, we are inspiring, changing, and influencing lives. We are right where we are supposed to be, and we should never ever doubt ourselves. I know a lot of us feel like we don’t matter, but I just want to tell you that you do. You matter to me too, as a reader of my story! So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise 🙂
Anyway, this is actually my first try on pure science fiction. I’m planning my third novel to be set in that genre, hence I decided to test it out through a short story. So let me know what you think of it in the comments below! Your comment is important to me 🙂
© 2014 Jeyna Grace
(For more short stories, click HERE)
10 thoughts on “Red Dragon”
Wow, I’m on board with the others. This story has a remarkable way of pulling you in, as it is very intriguing. I love the way the story climaxes at a point where the reader has no idea whether to applaud the behind-the-scenes heroism, or to tremble at the seemingly imminent disaster. Once it settles we see that the main character has a change of heart and it actually speaks to the reader, even without the subsequent commentary. I really enjoyed it!
Thank you! I am really happy you think so! You have no idea how much I wanted to read comments on this story because it’s my first time doing sci-fi 🙂 Thank you for the boost of confidence!
Loved it! Specifically, I loved your style of writing (I particularly liked “Dashing back to the ladder, I shuffled up the steps quickly and when I hit the metal door, I frantically waved my wrist tag across it.”), the pacing (started off quietly, picked up, reached a crescendo and wound down again) and the premise itself. Nice!
Thank you so much for your comment! It made my day 🙂
I was doubting if I could even tackle science fiction, being that it can be technical yet smooth at the same time. I really appreciate your feedback!
Cool stuff! I especially like that while it has an important moral message, that message isn’t thrust in the reader’s face, you know? You introduce it well through the conflict and action so that it really doesn’t sound cliched 😀
Thank you! That’s great to hear 🙂 Thanks for telling me!
Wow. Nice tale. We all Deserve to be appreciated. It truly relates to my life today. This very day. We had trouble at school with the teachers. If we appreciated each other as we should, things would be much better.
Thanks! I agree 🙂 Never take someone forgranted just because they had a smaller role to play.