Tin Man: Dragons and Ninjas

Chapter Nineteen

Raw was surprised at what Zack had in his magic bag that could be used as toys to entertain a two-year-old. The abacus had proved to be a great distraction between baths. Now the pair of metal balls entertained Hal and Glitch. Hal sat in front of the boy and rolled the ball to Zack, laughing at the pleasant chime it made.

Glitch rolled the second one over his knuckles and down his forearm. "It feels like a solid metal ball. How does it make that noise?" At least, wondering what else Zack kept in the bag helped Raw ignore the unease rolling off everyone.

The other bedroom door opened, and DG and Cain emerged. As far as he understood human fashion, pink flattered her, but not with the waves peevishness rolling off her. Cain just looked odd without his duster and hat.

Glitch put the ball back in the box and rolled down his shirt sleeves. "And the plan is?"

"Politics is not in my job description, Zipperhead."

"But keeping us alive in enemy territory is." Glitch smirked as he shrugged on his orange long-tailed coat.

Cain turned to DG with a sigh. "You think you can come up with food? Body guarding on an empty stomach qualifies as punishment." DG smiled with a nod and headed to the table. "Zack, you need to come with us. In case there's more Japanese stuff."

Zack blinked. "Okay, I think the Royal Army maybe a good career choice and trying to help the nice Princess. But what do I do? I've never body guarded before."

Cain took a sandwich from the tray DG conjured on the table. "Quelala shouldn't try anything at dinner, so you just stand there and try to look intimidating. If something does happen, get DG out of there." His blue eyes bored into Zack's. "Can you do that?"

"I can do that." Zack was serious in that statement, but at the same time Cain's stare brought up amused memories of his sister. Apparently, she had a very Tin Man like stare too.

DG put her hands on her hips and intercepted Cain's glare at Zack. "Don't do anything stupid."

Cain grimaced and dropped his free hand on her shoulder. "I'm not planning on it. But I need you to promise you'll run, and stick with Zack no matter what."

She frowned as she dropped her eyes. "I'll run, but please don't do anything stupid." She was afraid of what could happen to him if she wasn't there to protect him.

And Cain was equally afraid of what could happen to her here. "I'll try, Darlin'." He lifted her chin and smirked at her.

Raw nudged Zack away and took over rolling the ball to Hal. The human cub didn't care as long as the game continued. Zack grabbed a meat sandwich off the tray and munched on it as he started digging in his magic bag. He found the supplies he was looking for and started transferring them into the Zone clothes DG had made for him. He was slightly confused by Cain's insistence, but was too accustomed to going along with things he didn't understand to start fighting about it. The human boy had sensed that Cain didn't trust him. Not that Cain had made that a difficult emotion to pick up on.

But knowing DG was his eased the jealousy in Cain's heart. And trust was relative for the Tin Man. He trusted Zack less than he trusted DG, Glitch, and Raw but more than others. The Viewer hoped it would be enough to keep them alive.

"Excuse me," Chelsea shuffled her foot as Cain's attention turned to her. "What are we supposed to do against Longcoats? You took my guns." The human girl did not like that had happened to her.

"You can have the shotgun and Raw will be here." Glitch pulled the shotgun free from a pack after a nod from Cain. "Zack will need the handgun," the Tin Man continued.

Chelsea frowned as her eyes flicked from him back to Cain. He didn't know what the human girl had been told about Viewers, but evidently fighting skills had not been part of it. "I'll leave the shield up," DG added. "They won't be able to get through that." Raw felt relief. Neither would the pain that radiated off the stone this fortress was built out of. Chelsea wasn't convinced.

Zack pulled a leather belt out of his magic bag. "I found this gun at the Longcoat camp."

Chelsea's slim hand plucked it from the holster and Zack swallowed his surprise. He had expected Cain to do that. "This is Longcoat design; you can't be seen with it. But I can use it." She cracked open the long barrel surrounded by a mass of wires and smaller cylinders and checked the bullets, the closed it and checked the sight, carefully pointing it away from the rest of the group. She set it on the table next to the shotgun, feeling satisfied about the weapon situation. Cain let his face show how impressed he was with her.

DG walked up to Zack carrying his iron knife in its sheath. "I can't wear it with this outfit, so you better hold onto it." He took it back with a nod. Finishing the sandwich, he figured out how to wear the belts without them becoming cumbersome. The knife ended up hanging behind his back.

Cain handed the boy a handgun almost as long as his forearm. Zack raised his eyebrows. "Other Side guns are more like yours."

"Wear it for looks. We don't have time for target practice and I don't want you shooting anything without it." Zack sighed at the lack of faith but paid attention as Cain pointed out the safety and holstered the mostly wooden gun.

"Are we ready to go now?" Glitch pulled on the hem of his fastened orange coat, tugging it down smooth over his chest to hide his unease. He didn't want DG near Ichiro any more than the rest of them did. Cain nodded in response and pushed Zack in front of him. Glitch took DG's arm and they led the way out of the rooms. The opening in the shield let in a wave of pain before DG shut it around their rooms. Raw whimpered.

Hal stopped rolling the ball. The human cub stood up and suddenly hugged Raw around the neck. He hugged him back gently before the child let go and went to the abacus.

Chelsea tapped her foot, impatience and worry rolling off her. She finally sighed and sat down in a chair where she could watch the door. "You think being here is bad too, right Mr. Raw?"

The unease was still hanging in the air. It should have dissipated as the others left. "Yes," he finally said. "Something bad is coming. We must be strong for DG."

She heaved a sigh. "And Mom thought the Resistance was too dangerous for me."