There was an adage that went, "War never changes." It used to be true. Humanity found any reason to fight; food, land, precious metals, religion. And they were good at it. Even thought they were the best at making war, that their ingeniousness and brutality knew no bounds.
Then the dragons came.
When the universe shifted and the new age began, none of us quite knew what to expect. Cries of apocalypse went up, and they were mostly right. The original meaning of apocalypse is akin to unveiling. And the universe unveiled a glut of surprises in those early days.
Mankind dealt readily with the new races of people, along with the monsters and magic. They holed up in their cities, waging wars on the new way of things. The new age was fragile, and easily defeated.
Lands shifted. Mythical races reclaimed their ancient homes. Powers sprang up amongst the human population, and immortals came out of hiding. Wars raged with untold fury as mankind struggled to keep to the old ways.
Dragons have no concern for mortal weapons. When they were called to Earth, all they saw were dense feeding grounds. All those crunchy morsels, gathered into glass and concrete serving trays. Leather wings blocked the sun as the frenzy began.
Humans thought themselves prepared. They'd warped the myths so they came out the winners. Their stories and movies painted dragons as mindless beasts that could be shot from the sky.
San Diego was the first to fall.
Their massive size made people think dragons were unwieldy and cumbersome, and they were underestimated. A few fighter jets were scrambled, but the humans relied on anti-aircraft artillery to fend off the scaled beasts.
Shells filled the air, arcing up at the assailants. Had they been mindless killing machines, many dragons would have fallen.
But dragons are ancient, highly intelligent, and trained for war. Bullets and planes were nothing compared to what they'd faced in previous ages. Diving and dodging, they avoided the defensive barrages. Fighter pilots screamed as they were ripped from the sky.
Human commanders tried to mount a proper defense, but their bases had been found. Planes were destroyed and people slaughtered as strafing runs began. Trails of fire poured from the dragons, igniting everything touched by flames.
The puny defenses broken, the dragons settled in to feed. Three million humans, devoured before sundown.
Mankind no longer underestimated their new foe. They couldn't let the dragons exist, had to stop the creatures from laying waste to another city. Launch codes were brought up for their nuclear arsenals.
But the immortals wouldn't allow that to happen. The power of the atom was denied to the mortals.
Those same immortals kept the dragons in check, as they had in previous ages. Humans were on the menu, but wholesale slaughter was denied.
Enslaved, humanity kept a wary eye on their masters. Dragonriders like me are always on hand to keep the slaves in line, reminding them of their place in the univers.
Dragonfire changes everything, especially war.