• Jabe Stafford

One Page Worlds - Fireman's Siege

A whole world on a single page!

The short story morsels of One Page Worlds are flash fiction adventures of all flavors. Every Wednesday will feature a complete story in one page, or the first page of what could be a novel or novelette.

Sharing the fun and geekery is the best part of writing! Please tweet or comment with your guesses on what genre, character, and job is central to each tale. Enjoy touring new universes each week with One Page Worlds!

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“Not one dragon has been shot down in twenty years,” I say to the ambulatory armor. “Now help me get this suit on.”

The armor crosses its arms, clanking. “Kurrin, where I’m from, firefighters had manners. And why can’t your ballistae shoot them down?”

I step into one leg of a bright green ensorcelled buckskin suit. “Well I’m from here. In Galar. Where armor is worn, not alive. Manners only work when diplomacy is still on the table. And it’s because the dragons aren’t stupid enough to fly close to our cities. Our ballistae are fitted with heat-seeking metals thanks to our sorcerers. If a nearby dragon breathes fire, we fire down its throat. Every time. Dragon riders must lay siege to us by surrounding our cities with wildfires instead. Keeps them out of range.”

“High magic,” it says. Lifting its helmet—no, the mechanism that is its head—from its shoulders, it looks out through the bars of the high windows in firefighters’ barracks. Greasy red sky cakes the space beyond, where dragon flame has advanced through the Galaras Wood as fast as any army. The woodsmoke and charred leaves on the air would be pleasant if there wasn’t so much of it. Men in viridian skins like the one I’m dressing in rush past me out the door to the right of the window. Ever am I the last to leave now that I am saddled with this armor I am expected to educate.

The armor replaces its head and speaks. “Where I’m from there were no sorcerers and no dragons either, only clumsy, careless humans who started forest fires themselves.”

“They must be sorcerers then, to be capable of that without dragons. Why do you not have a name?”

Reaching out with a metallic arm, the armor lifts one of my suit sleeves and I slide my arm into it. “Only because growing a learning algorithm based on observation and experience was not deemed ‘thought’ by my makers.”

“Alga—er, rhythm?” I ask. “Is your name Rhythm?”

It swivels its head toward the ceiling a little, then back down again as though rolling eyes. “Yes, and I forgot my counterpart Blues back in Boston. Sorry Kurrin, you wouldn’t understand that. How is it dragons came to be in Galar?”

I shove my other arm into the green suit and clasp it up. “Must be the same way you came to be here. Magic. Ever fought a fire before?”

“I suppose punching it is out of the question?”

Crossing the barracks and stopping at the door, I point into the inferno washing toward us like a slow tide. “I would not try that. Now stay out of the flames. And thanks.”

The armor stops next to me. “For what?”

“Getting to know you will be something to look forward to. It makes the dragon flame twice as worth it to fight through.” With that, I leap into the dry grass outside the barracks. “For Rhythm and Galar!”

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