Draekon Abduction(8)By: Lili Zander & Lee Savino
He’s right. The moment we’re spotted, the Draekons move so fast that they’re a blur. In seconds, we’re surrounded by them, their gazes avid and greedy. I feel their desire in the air, and I’m grateful Zunix warned us about what to expect.
A bare-chested man with long blonde hair, his face covered with stubble, steps forward. “Zunix, you have many talents, but this time, you’ve outdone yourself.” He bows deeply to us. “It is an honor to receive visitors,” he says. “My name is Dariux. Welcome to our humble home.”
His words are polite enough, but his eyes tell a different story. For a brief second, his expression is covetous, so covetous that it makes me uncomfortable. Then his face settles into bitter lines.
Zunix opens his mouth to say something, but before he can form words, the air stills. Shudders run through several of the Draekons that surround us, a shudder I remember from earlier today.
They’re about to change into dragons.
Zunix and Blondie both clue in at the same time. “To the trees,” Zunix cries out. Blondie—Dariux—grabs May and Paige by the shoulders and pushes them to the safety of the forest. Liorax does the same to Felicity. Bryce, a half-step ahead of the other women, has already come to the same conclusion Zunix and Dariux have, and she runs full-tilt toward the nearest treehouse.
Zunix hasn’t put me down. Shock waves of pain radiate from my leg as he speeds toward cover. “There are too many of them,” he says as he runs, not sounding the slightest bit winded, even though he’s been carrying me for more than the last thirty minutes, and I’ve got more than my fair share of curves. “I thought another pair might shift when they saw you, but I hadn’t planned for eight.”
I’m missing something. What do we have to do with the shift?
We watch from the safety of the forest as eight of the Draekons crouch to the ground. I barely know where to look. Bones shatter. Skin tears. Vertebrae become spikes, and wings emerge from their backs. The Draekons who haven’t shifted take shelter along with us, their gazes openly envious as they watch their companions transform.
When the dust settles, eight massive dragons stand in the clearing.
Liorax moves next to us. “Belfox and Herrix transformed when they saw Olivia,” he says to Zunix, his voice pitched low.
“I know.” Zunix sounds grim.
“Do they mean to lay claim to our mate?”
Hold on one second. What the everlasting fuck is this ‘our mate’ bullshit? I’m tempted to ask, but for the moment, both men seem to have forgotten I exist, even though I’m still in Zunix’s arms. In fact, I might as well be furniture, for all the attention they’re paying me.
“I don’t know,” Zunix replies. “We can’t take on the entire camp. Not yet. Not until the bond is complete.” He takes a deep breath. “For the moment, we’re going to have to play along.”
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.
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.”