Draekon Abduction(8)

By: Lili Zander & Lee Savino


I’m not quite sure what’s going on, but something tells me I’m not going to like the answer when I find out.





Liorax:


On the homeworld, Dariux and Zunix were assistants to the Spymaster. Despite that, I trust Zunix.

Dariux, on the other hand? Not so much.

For sixty-five years, Dariux has brooded. In the High Empire, he had power and prestige. Exile stripped all that away from him.

The true worth of a man isn’t measured by how he reacts during times of plenty. It is measured by how he reacts during times of adversity.

Dariux has turned bitter. He’s sown discord among us. Like Zunix, he managed to use his network of contacts to arrange a tech drop on the prison planet, but he’s hoarded his tools jealously.

And now, things are about to get worse. Dariux considers Zunix his rival. I saw the envy in his eyes when eight Draekons transformed. When he finds out Zunix shifted as well…

We have a claim to Olivia, but so do Belfox and Herrix. Dariux is going to be called on to resolve this dispute, and I don’t trust him to be fair.

The dragons howl and growl and roar, but the first transformation doesn’t hold for long. In a matter of minutes, every one of them has shifted back, and they all crowd around us, jostling for access to the humans.

The women shrink back in fear, and Dariux notices their reaction. “Enough,” he shouts, his voice carrying through the clearing. “You are frightening our guests. We are not savages. Step back.”

Then again, maybe I’ve judged Dariux too harshly.

I took everything I could find from the ship on the principle that any technology would make our life on this harsh planet easier. Rummaging through the pack I’m carrying, I hand Dariux a translator. When he sees it, his eyes snap to me. “How much?”

“Consider it a gift.” Not everything needs to be bartered for. There were many spare translators on the wreck, and I’m happy to share. It will ease the women’s transition.

Belfox and Herrix push their way through the other Draekons. “She’s our mate,” Belfox roars, his hands clenched into fists. “Put her down, Zunix.”

“Make me,” he replies calmly.

“Enough,” Dariux snaps again. He bows to the women. “My apologies,” he says smoothly. “This must all seem very confusing to you.”

“Why did he call Olivia his mate?” This is one of the human women, the one with the broken hand. Her voice has a definite quaver in it. “What’s going on? He said,” she points to Zunix, “that we’d be safe.”

Actually, what he’d said was that they wouldn’t be taken by force, which is a very different thing.

Dariux gives Zunix an amused look. “Did he?” he asks wryly. “How very gallant of him.” His eyes soften somewhat when they rest on the clearly terrified women. “Allow me to explain. We are Draekons, men with the ability to become dragons.”

Zunix rolls his eyes. “I told them that already,” he says impatiently.

“But you didn’t mention the mating bond,” Dariux guesses, his eyes taking in the protective way he’s cradling Olivia. “You didn’t want to frighten her? That’s rather considerate of you, Zunix.”

My hands clench into fists. Dariux is deliberately provoking us, but I need him alive. The med-kit is keyed to him, and he’s the only one who can operate it. The effects of the rubra leaves are wearing off, and Olivia is pale again, her face pinched with pain.

She is our mate, my dragon growls. Help her.

She taps my shoulder. “Liorax,” she murmurs, “the effects of the magic juice you gave me are wearing off. You wouldn’t happen to have any more, would you?”

A sudden surge of sympathy runs through me. She’s badly hurt, but she hasn’t voiced a single complaint as we trekked through the woods. I fish another bottle of the rubra and hold it to her berry-red lips.

Belfox and Herrix see the intimate gesture, and both men step forward aggressively. “She’s ours,” Herrix insists. “We turned into dragons when we saw her. Isn’t that what the legends say? When a pair of draekons first sees their mate, it brings forth the transformation.”

The others nod. “We did too,” Rezzix says. “When we saw that woman.” He points to a different human. “We demand a chance to claim our mates.”

“Are you animals?” I snarl, rage coursing through my blood. “You stupid fools. Their ship has crashed on this planet, and they’ve just learned that they’re stuck on the prison planet for the rest of their lives. They’ve lost their homes. Their families. Do you remember what that feels like?” I glare at them in turn—Belfox, Herrix, Rezzix, Magnux, Luddux, Yasix, Thesix, and Xanthox—and they have the grace to look ashamed. “Give them some room to breathe.”