The 1st Battalion, Heavy Hop Brigade, known as the Carrot-tops in most circles and Dragontamers in certain circles, stirred restlessly in their ranks. Colonel Brun Auribus rested impassively on his lance, the twitching of his brown ears the only indication of his impatience. Corporal Terti “Dragongirl” Daucus waved the carrot under Hexematia’s nose.
“Come on, you big lunk, it’s time to earn your carrots.” The corporal’s tone was conciliatory with an edge of exasperation.
The dragon Hexematia crouched, shuffling her wings and shaking her head, refusing to accept her handler’s proffered treat. Her scales rustled, the only sound among the massed ranks of the army. She reared up suddenly to her full height, bugling her deafening call over their heads. A few of the younger hoppers clapped paws over their long ears.
Terti sighed. She hated this part, but with dragons sometimes you had to be firm, especially the big ones bred for battle. A tiny spark flew from her empty paw and stung Hexematia’s flattened nose. The dragon snorted, shook her head and settled back into her former crouch.
“Come on, flutterbrain, you know you love the carrots. They make you strong, powerful, immune to hurts. The carrot is your friend, just onnnne” Terti crooned, coaxingly. The dragon shuffled her legs, shifted her wings, sniffed the carrot, and finally took a delicate bite of the tip. She munched for a moment, then eagerly snuffled for the rest of it, crunching it down enthusiastically.
Terti heaved a sigh of relief and turned to the Colonel.
“Sir we are now go for aerial attack.”
Colonel Auribus straightened and nodded. “Thank you Corporal.” He turned to his troops and raised his voice. “Right you lot, look smart, quick hop, best paw forward aaaand MARCH!”
With a certain clattering of weapons and armor and shouts of lieutenants heckling them into battle formation, the troops formed up and began a brisk march toward the series of low, regular hills ahead. There were 5 or 6, each with a certain “finished” look that suggested they weren’t natural formations despite the grass and wildflowers growing along them. A cloud of dust partially obscured the base of the hills, and a faint roar floated on the air. Hexematia soared ahead of the marching Carrot-tops, her wings scooping at the air as she stretched her neck toward the sounds of battle.
Terti settled into a ground-eating lope to keep her charge in sight. They pulled ahead of the others, the battle ahead growing clearer with every step. The dragon reached the edge, and roared her earth-shaking, ear-splitting battle-cry. Terti grinned to herself as the opposing Badger infantry ducked almost in unison at the deafening passage of her dragon. Behind her, the Carrot-tops cheered and broke into a trot, still in formation. The company of Hop-Lights already engaged with the enemy set up a chant of ‘Dragon’ and redoubled their efforts to drive forward into the Badger Hills.
Hexematia swooped low, sparkling green flames splashing against the hills and blackening the flowers. Terti took a deep breath and dug deep into the earth with her paws to steady herself as a sparkling rope stretched from her paw to the Dragon, splitting into a net that slid over the great beasts scales like water. The Corporal concentrated. A push here, a tug there, urging Hexematia into shallow diving strafes to unleash her firepower on the Badger infantry, the fortifications, and the settlement itself.
The Carrot-top Brigade flowed around her position and crashed into the ongoing skirmish with a roar that nearly matched their mascot’s for volume. The Battle raged on, sweeping toward the inevitable victory of the Royal Rabbit Army.