This is a New Years' Gift to Wonder from Matau. It centers around Atomsplitter and Soulbreaker, and also features Darkmoon, Nightmare, and Constellation. All characters belong to their creators, used with permission.

Chapter Only

A vial was drawn out of a vat by a lead-shielded claw. The claw’s owner wore a full suit to protect himself from what he held. Glowing from the energy of the tiny particles within, the vial contained within it one of the deadliest substances known to science. It was so tightly regulated not even assassins could use it. It was just too dangerous and just too rare.

Atomsplitter lowered his claw slowly down. If he did this too quickly, it would ruin the experiment. He held the test tube over another vat, this one a different brew of chemicals. He poured out a few drops, watching the vat change colors as the contaminant was added.

Atomsplitter stepped back, watching the reaction occur. A froth, a shimmer in the air, a wave of heat he could feel through his suit, and a loud explosion later, and the reaction was complete. He smiled at the sight. Science is so fun, he thought to himself. He shook off the sludge it had splashed on him, and grinned. He mentally said to another scientist, Now let’s do it again! But this time, let’s make the explosion BIGGER!

Atomsplitter checked for more supplies. To his horror, there were none. He cried out, “Nooooooo! Why? Why? WHY?!” He shook his fists up at the soundproof and lead-lined ceiling. No one even noticed. He sighed, and walked out of Lab R4. In the airlock, he turned on the decon shower. A mixture of cleaning compounds washed over his positive-pressure outfit, eliminating the stuff he had been in.

Once reasonably safe, Atomsplitter took off his suit. Had he not worn it, he would have died very painfully. He then walked out of the airlock, and into the Science Nexus. He walked to his personal lab, where he held his various collected samples. It incidentally doubled as his sleeping quarters.

He sat down, and picked up a scroll titled The Unabridged Compendium of Models of Atomic Structure. He curled up on his bed, hugging his stuffed model of an atom. Not that he would ever admit to hugging it, of course. He began to read. It was amazing how many different theories there were. The most exotic had to be the “Cloud Model.” It was outright ludicrous, but it was very powerful on a conceptual and mathematical level. The proponent, Wavefunction, was a dubious but brilliant scholar. Atomsplitter was very intrigued.

Someone knocked on his door. He immediately hid his stuffed atom, and mentally said, Enter! Another NightWing—what else could it even be?—walked in. He looked up, and recognized her. It was Nightmare. She was another scientist. “Hello, Nightmare!” he exclaimed.

She grinned. “Hi, Atom! How did the experiment go?”

Atomsplitter giggled like a little dragonet on their hatching day. “It blew up! It was awesome!”

Nightmare asked, “Which radioactive substance did you use this time? Polonium? I know that is your signature in combat.”

Atomsplitter shook his head, and answered, “No. I used noctinium. It was awesome. Everything around it became radioactive too.”

Nightmare extended her talon in a high five, which he returned. She said, “Well, that was all I had to ask. See you later, Atom!” She left, closing the door behind her.

He thought, concerned, about another dragoness he knew. Soulbreaker, he mentally said to himself. He’d met her in NightWing tunnels, and the first thing she had done was almost stab him. She was smart, scientifically-minded, cunning, analytical, a good fighter, loyal, and just about every compliment he could think of.

However, Atomsplitter was pretty sure she had romantic feelings for him, which he didn’t think he shared. After all, since he had been a dragonet he’d decided he never would fall in love. He bemoaned to himself, “I have one of the most chaotic love lives of anyone I know. No less than three dragonesses, all of whom are assassins, have feelings for me. One of them is my good friend and fellow scholar, another is my bodyguard, and the third tried to kill me and was executed. I really need to see the Neurology department.”

Despite his dislike of the romantic situation, he still felt kind of… uncertain about Soulbreaker. She was one of his closest friends, but he didn’t think he wanted to increase their relationship’s frequency to the level at which it would become romantic. He would have to think, hard. He could be passing up a wonderful romantic future, but he could also be turning his back on his past self’s envisioned future.

He thought, hard.

A dagger buried itself in the base of the target’s neck. Only the hilt was visible. Its owner leapt, twirled around, and threw another under her tail without looking. She somersaulted in the air, hurling three more in quick succession. With a devious grin, she breathed fire on her daggers, and cut inward, slicing three more enemies. Their bodies caught on fire, their necks ripped out by her daggers.

Soulbreaker stopped, panting. She grinned. Her triple-throw was a new move she’d been practicing. The combat dummies around her were almost completely destroyed from the heat. Had they been real dragons, they all would have been dead. She loved training. It helped her get her mind off things. She had needed to since the last time she had talked with him.

Atomsplitter, she thought to herself. The eccentric scientist was odd in many ways, some which were more… painful than others. Her first memory of him was him cowering at her feet as she pointed a dagger at him. Despite how problematic that whole fiasco had been, what with the IceWing and her almost getting executed, it was still a happy memory.

Soulbreaker slapped herself. Do. Not. Think. About. Atomsplitter. She got back to training, immersing herself in the world of complex rotations and delicate maneuvers. She lost track of time, and when she finally had to stop, she was completely breathless. A few other assassins gave her odd looks. “What time is it?” she asked.

One of them said, “About five o’clock.” She stared at him. She’d entered the training room just after lunch. Had she really been training for so long? She walked out of the training area. Dragons gave her odd looks all the way back to her room. She walked into her room, closing it quickly. She really didn’t want to talk to anyone.

Soulbreaker curled up on her sleeping ledge. She covered her eyes. Why am I like this? I’m a pureblood NightWing, I’m not supposed to be so weak! Sure, I can fight with an estimated 100-1 K/D ratio and I can hit a target the size of an eye blindfolded from ten lengths away, but I still can’t figure out my relationship with Atom.

She pondered the problem. In a futile attempt to cheer herself up, she sadly joked, Well, it’s tradition for assassins to fall in love many times. It’ll happen again. But some part of her wasn’t so sure. Regardless, as long as she still had a shot at Atom, she was going to take it.

Speaking of Atom, some would be confused as to why someone like her would even be interested in him. There were many reasons. For one, he was high-ranking, more so than her, and he had a great deal of influence on scientific research. For another, he was exceedingly smart, and had a very sharp mind. He was somewhat cute, she supposed, but the real reason she liked him so much was his personality.

When she’d met him, he hadn’t exclaimed his superiority or how much more important he was. He’d cowered at her feet and begged her not to kill him. He had begged Morrowseer not to kill her when she had… well… made a bad decision, and it had worked. He was really nice, and he shared a lot of her interests, including science.

He was also, despite his ineptness at combat, a very, very good ally. His dart gun had come in handy more times than she could count. If there was one dragon she’d want on her side in a fight, it would be Atom. He could quickly figure out tactical solutions to difficult battles, and his dart gun was extremely lethal. He was also completely trustable, as he was another pureblood NightWing. He was, in short, her closest friend.

Someone knocked. A quick mental scan revealed it was his bodyguard, Constellation. She wasn’t in the mood to have her misery rubbed in her face, so she didn’t bother to open the door. A click later, and the unwanted visitor was in. Soulbreaker casually threw a dagger about a head above her, and muttered, “Go away.”

Constellation said, “I’m not here to upset you. I have some advice. If you don’t want to hear it-“

“I don’t.”

“Then I won’t make you. But I think it would help.”

Soulbreaker sighed. “Fine. What do you have to say?”

Constellation hesitated, gauged the distance to the door, and said, “It’s about Atom.”

Soulbreaker immediately looked straight at Constellation. She asked, suspiciously, “What do you have to say about him?”

Constellation sighed, clearly sad. “I think you know that I used to like him that way.” She kept talking despite Soulbreaker’s glare. “I told him. He said that he wasn’t interested. He said it was nothing personal, but he just wasn’t interested in romance.” Soulbreaker was staring daggers at her, and looked like she might soon throw them.

Constellation watched her nervously, but she pressed on, “But I’ve heard some of his recent thoughts. Even taking into account that one rogue Darkmoon, he thinks about you in a completely different way. I don’t know if he is in love with you… but I think you’ve got a better shot than I did.”

Soulbreaker struggled to contain her excitement. Maybe… maybe I should talk to him. She said, “Thank you, Const. That was very kind.” Soulbreaker walked out of her room, leaving behind an uncertain NightWing assassin.

Soulbreaker flew to Atom’s lab/cave and knocked. He opened the door. “Soul! I haven’t seen you for so long! What happened?”

She felt her heart cracking. Oh, Atom… “I… I was dealing with some issues. I might still be, but I have something I have to tell you.” He gave her a quizzical look, but let her continue. “I… I love you, Atom.”

He stepped back, clearly surprised. He opened his mouth to answer, closed it, and opened it again. She could feel all her emotions tearing her apart. She felt a few tears cloud her vision. He doesn’t like me.

Atom said, choked up, “I… I don’t know. I think you’re really nice and smart and brave, but I don’t know. I decided I was never going to fall in love as a dragonet. But you’re really pretty, and you’ve saved me more times than I can count, and you are such a good fighter. I guess… I guess I might love you.”

Soulbreaker was still crying, but now they were tears of joy. She swept forward, and wrapped her wings around him. She took the chance to kiss him on the snout. She could feel his heart rate accelerating, but he didn’t pull away. She only held him for a few seconds, but each second seemed like an entire day. He… he does like me.