They had spent most of the night and early morning fighting Longcoats. No Zero among them and none of them wanted to say where they were headed to or from. Jeb Cain rolled over on his cot. Let the unspeaking bastards sweat while he got some sleep. They could start chatting again in a few hours. He pulled the sheet up to his neck.
Then the thunderclap boomed right inside his tent.
Jeb grabbed his gun out from under the pillow and rolled to his feet. DG squawked and dropped to the ground. "Don't shoot us!"
Zack looked down at her. "That takes practice. How often have you had a gun pulled on you?"
Jeb sighed, and uncocked the gun. "Okay, no shooting. Now, why are you two in my tent?"
"Lord Quelala is the one controlling the Longcoats and the dragon." DG climbed to her feet and sat down on the end of his cot. The Emerald of the Eclipse pendent swung freely around her neck. "And we had complications."
Nothing good ever came up with the word complications. And DG had come with Zack, and not his father. "What happened?"
"Wyatt and Glitch were captured. The rest of us got away." She looked up at Jeb with blue eyes glimmering with unshed tears and then she looked down at the ground.
"He wants DG to marry him and get the throne," Zack added. "If she doesn't, they're dead. If she still doesn't, he going to start a war. He already destroyed Lord Gillikin's fortress."
Jeb looked at the pair of them. Zack was dressed in slightly loose black shirt and pants, with a belt wrapped around his waist holding his funny-looking daggers and a sword. DG was also dressed in a pair of black pants with pockets sewed down the legs and a tight long-sleeved blouse. He blinked his eyes a couple of times, hoping their attire would change. It didn't. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck raise up and a heavy weight drop into his stomach, just like when he was six and his playmate Arthur tried to convince him to do something his parents had forbidden. "Princess, this better be a request to get your Royal personage to the Second Division of the Royal Army at least, if not an escort all the way to Central City."
She looked up at him again, but the tears were gone and the set of her jaw--Jeb thought there was only one person in the whole Zone who could hold his jaw like granite and still be able to speak but he was wrong. "They hurt Wyatt because of me. They killed just about everyone at Gillikin fortress, including defenseless women and children. They're killing the Fae to keep control over the dragon, which isn't even a dragon. They threatened my realm and my husband and like hell are they going to get away with it!" She surged to her feet. "I don't want to make this an order, Captain. It's your father they're torturing!"
"And he's going to kill you and then me, if you waltz in there!"
"The bulk of Ichiro's forces are in the fortress. It's too good an opportunity to wipe them out," Zack pointed out. "The plan is sound, if we have your men in on it."
"You actually have a plan?" That didn't really help calm the Princess down any, but he couldn't help it. Not after all the stories. "I was never given the impression that you plan anything."
DG planted her hands on her hips. "Zack, Raw, and I are sneaking into the fortress and freeing the prisoners." Zack had a sketch pad out and passed it to Jeb. The drawings of the fortress weren't completely detailed, but detailed enough. "Then we're going to open the gates for your men. And then we fight while Zack takes care of the dragon."
"What did you do to get that detail?" Jeb jerked his eyes up from the drawings.
The younger man's face was pained. "He isn't really a dragon. He's my friend, the one I was sent here to find." Zack shook it off. "Can you get your men to Quelala Fortress between sunset and before moon rise?"
Jeb's shoulders slumped. "Yeah, we'll be there. But DG, if Dad goes crazy on me for agreeing to this, I'm telling him you did order me!"
"That's fine. I've got better defusing techniques for when the Tin Man goes ape shit." She smirked, "I'm pretty sure he'll forget all about being angry when I touch…."
"Stop!" Jeb held out his hands for mercy. "By Ozma's magic belt, I don't want to know. I'm not completely ignorant, but that's my father you're talking about!" DG's face turned brick red, and Zack snickered.
"Sorry, Jeb," she finally muttered. "We'll see you at the fortress." Zack grabbed her shoulder and she clapped her hands together. They vanished.
Jeb shook his head as he pulled himself together to leave his tent. So much for the shut-eye.