Tin Man: Dragons and Ninjas

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Of all the ways to travel through the O.Z., DG just decided that being teleported by someone using blood magic was her new least favorite. She landed on the stone floor on her hands and knees and retched. Someone grabbed her arms and jerked her to her feet. Ichiro was in front of her, looking ready to explode.

She twisted her head, yeap, Zero had her again. "Let me go, you're bleeding on me. I'll probably catch something!" His only response was to growl and squeeze her upper arms tighter. They were on the south battlements of the dragon's enclosure.

Ichiro had moved closer. His hand struck her face, hitting her right cheekbone and knocking her head back. "You married that gaijin!"

"If by that you are referring to Wyatt Cain, 'fraid so, asshole."

He went a little incoherent with rage at that, the purple and red mix of magic he had pulsing like crazy. DG fought to keep her nausea down again as the smell of death assaulted her. The dragon chained down in the courtyard below roared. "My family has existed since the times of the Ancients! It's older than your House. I have a Slipper in my lineage. I am the only one in the Outer Zone who is your equal, your perfect match, and you chose a common Tin Man of no importance!"

DG slid up a skin-suit shield for herself, making sure it didn't glow as she settled it over her skin. "I do not have to discuss the reasons for my choice with you. Even if you weren't a traitor to the Crown."

He spluttered again. His black hair had come out of its hair tie and whipped around his face. She could hear the gun battle going on the other side of the battlements. Jeb was inside, and she couldn't help but grin. Ichiro grabbed her jaw. "You will answer me, Gale witch!"

She shook her head out of his purple and red tinged grip. "Oh grow up! My answer won't make you happy, won't placate your ego, and you won't understand it. So let it go already!" For some reason, this made Zero start chuckling behind her. Okay, maybe blood loss was getting to him.

He hit across her left cheek this time. "Why the Tin Man?" got past his clenched teeth.

"And why not you?" She stared into his hazel eyes. "Because he wants DG, not the crown." Ichiro blinked uncomprehendingly at her. "See I told you so, but you didn't listen. Now it's time to end the spell you have over the dragon and surrender."

"Why would we surrender when we have you?" Zero asked almost directly into her right ear. Her hand twitched to reach her staff waiting in the pocket over her thigh in the cargo pants.

"Because it will stop me from being more pissed off," she answered testily. "There's no iron suit around this time, Zero."

Zero squeezed her arms tighter. "If Wyatt Cain survives the dragon, I'm going to hara-kiri him myself."

He was looking up from her when he promised that. She followed his gaze. Zack was standing in the hole they had made in the Tower earlier. Cain and the others were right behind him.

Ichiro's grin was maniac as he pivoted with a raised fist. The purple and red aura around his hand pulsed and the dragon reared his head back with his throat undulating.

"No!" DG screamed, trying to raise her own hand to block the stream of dragon's fire. Zero jerked her roughly and the blue energy flew into the night sky.

Zack had a sword shield out, looking ridiculously puny against the stream of purple fire. But magical energy pulsed from it, stretching into a huge triangle made of three smaller ones colored red, green, and gold. It covered the entire hole. The dragon's fire ran out and Zack yelled at him. The dragon drew back and roared.

"You will do as I say!" Ichiro snarled as the purple and red aura grew brighter. The collar and manacles on the dragon turned red. The white scales looked pink as he roared again.

"Stop it!" DG screamed as she tried to break out of Zero's hold. He kept moving his feet, damn him. "You're hurting him!" A purple light from the dragon flared, but was quickly smothered by the red from the chains. She could feel the dragon's heartbeat increase with the pain. "You're killing him!"

"You can't kill a dragon," Ichiro mocked her. "And your magic can't withstand a dragon's power!"

The dragon's tail thrashed and came down like a wrecking ball on the fortress wall. It crumpled behind them, sending tremors through the battlements. The stonework held under their feet.

DG's anger spiked. Fear for her loved ones-who looked like they were going to jump out of the hole now-fear for the dragon's life--who thrashed even harder now--and fear for her own hide all gave her a single purpose. "You won't listen to reason? Then I'm going Samuel L. Jackson on your asses." Lightening from her left hand hit Ichiro in the back. The lightening from her right hit Zero's leg. And both of them screamed like girls. "Feel the Force, motherfuckers!"

She twisted out of Zero's grasp and kicked him in the nuts for good measure. Then she ran. The battlements dead-ended against the Tower, but there had to be stairs off if it somewhere. Or she could take the rope swing Zack and Cain just did to get on the battlements.

The wave of blood magic, smelling of rot, crashed into her back. She hit the stones and skidded across them.