Draekon Abduction(4)

By: Lili Zander & Lee Savino


I make these connections as Liorax and I open the stasis pods and free their inhabitants. The ship has obviously crashed. Brunox’s daughter is bleeding, and one of the human women is cradling her right hand in her left, her face etched with pain.

Then we pull another woman out, one whose hair is the color of a warm fire on a cold winter night. One who collapses on the floor as soon as her feet touch the ground, red blood soaking through her clothing.

When I see her, the noise of the jungle mutes to a hush. The air becomes thick and heavy with possibility. A golden thread appears to connect her to me, and to Liorax, and the dragon inside me, long dormant, roars to life.

Our mate.

So the records are true. When a pair of Draekons sights their mate, they transform for the first time.

“Outside!” I barely have time to grab Liorax and clamber out of the spaceship before the transformation takes over. The dragon trapped inside me breaks the bindings that keep him leashed with a roar of joy.

My body changes. Green-gold scales cover my skin. Spikes erupt from my back, as do two graceful, close-set wings. My tail swishes around my body, uprooting small bushes as it lashes to and fro.

Our mate is hurt. Badly.

But you don’t rise to be one of Surax’s hand-picked assistants by taking anything at face value. Everyone I meet is a potential enemy. I trust nobody. Especially not this ship of human women.

Take her to safety, my dragon roars, its anger blanketing my suspicions.

Back at camp, Dariux has a med-kit. Its use will come at a cost—Dariux never does anything without extracting a price—but it’s one I have to pay.

I reach inside the ship, marveling at the agility of my dragon’s paw, and pluck out one woman after another. Brunox’s daughter fights my attempt to rescue her, as I knew she would.

Liorax, also in dragon-form, bellows in irritation. Leave her. Dariux can come back for her.

I look at the small company of human women, huddled together, fear etched into their faces. My mate is on the ground again, her hands curled into fists, her knuckles white. I feel her agony as if it were mine, and it forces me to act.

At any moment, the transformation will snap back. We will become men again, and we will remain in that form until the mating bond is complete. I can’t risk that happening. It will take us many days of hard walking to reach our camp, and the woman is in no condition to walk.

Lio is right. Dariux has a skimmer. He can rescue the two scientists.

I pick one of the women up and place her on Liorax’s back. The woman immediately settles herself between two spikes, calling out something to her companions. They’re taking this very well, I think approvingly. Only a few screams and a little panic. Maybe they’re in shock.

Once the women are loaded—the three uninjured women on Liorax’s back, my mate and the human with a broken arm on mine—we take flight.

We’re headed to the treacherous lorithian-pit that is our camp. And when we get there, the exiles of our batch will fall on the women like rabid animals.

I am not looking forward to it.





Liorax:


I do not want a mate.

As my midnight-blue wings flap steadily over the mountain range that separates the Lowlands from the desert on the other side, my thoughts return to her.

Kat’vi. My once-bondmate from the homeworld. The woman who betrayed me by bedding my father instead, who made a laughing stock of me when she dissolved our union      , too impatient to be the ruling Lady of Laris to wait for my father’s death.

For months, I was the subject of mockery and derision among the Highborn of the Empire. I endured sly jabs at my manhood, scornful questions about my failure to keep my bondmate satisfied, laughing taunts about my inability to sire the next Laris heir.

After sixty-five years in exile, the memories have faded, but the woman’s appearance dregs it back to the surface, and it is as if I feel that pain, that humiliation, that shame all over again.

No matter how insistent my dragon is that this red-haired woman slumped between Zunix’s spikes is our mate, I will not yield.

I’ve experienced the fickleness of women once. Never again.





3





Olivia:


I fade in and out of consciousness. I’m vaguely aware that I’m flying on the back of a fearsome dragon with scales the color of antique brass. The thought should fill me with alarm, but though I wait for panic to lance through me, it doesn’t come.

May’s sitting in front of me. Her right arm is broken, but she’s gripping the spikes of the dragon with her left hand, her knuckles white. There’s no need to be afraid, I want to assure her. The dragon’s flight is smooth. There are no sudden turns, no stomach-churning drops. The green-gold wings flap through the sky, and we ride the air currents with effortless ease.