Etherno

Chapter 34: Go Big, or Go Home

Purona stepped through the portal and found herself back in the living area of the penthouse suite at the Imperial hotel.

She blinked a few times. That’s a super convenient way to travel. Are all the Natas and Gesarans this crazy-strong?

Purona collapsed onto the couch and drew in a shaky breath. This whole day was insane. Possessed crazy hordes, aliens with what might as well be called magic. What’s a kid like me who’s just out of secondary school doing here? Shouldn’t this be a job for the military?

Onin, Tannin, Saija, Cerina, and Aiden dropped into the chairs around Purona.

Tannin flopped his head against the back of the couch and closed his eyes. “Man, I hate zombies.”

“What?” Cerina leaned forward in her chair. “They weren’t zombies you idiot, they were just being controlled!”

Tannin shrugged, eyes still closed. “Pale skin, dead eyes, chases you in hordes. To-may-toe, to-mah-to.”

“Anyway.” Onin glared at both of them. “The important thing is that it looks like Amaryllis found a way to neutralize them. I don’t really want to kill a bunch of people to stop the Natas. That’d probably end badly for us, not to mention them.”

Purona gasped. “Yeah. That’d be bad. Right now, everyone on my planet is mostly just super curious about you. The Natas have killed or taken a lot of us over the years, though.” Purona flicked an ear. “Come to think of it, the kinsets didn’t start working together until the Natas started raiding Nekotia.”

“The Kagoshi are wary, too,” Aiden said.

Purona craned her neck to see Aiden. She was behind them, leaning up against the wall, almost out of the room. Purona hadn’t met a Matari before this assignment, but she’d read about them in history class. Aiden seems to super fit the stereotype, though. Quiet and mysterious!

Aiden rounded the corner of the couch and sat on the floor where everyone could see her. “Kl’cha’i is the captain of the ship that first intercepted you. That little misunderstanding, plus the typical Kagoshi distrust of other species in general doesn’t help the situation.”

Onin scrunched up his brow. “The Kagoshi don’t like other species?”

“Well, I wouldn’t say that.” Aiden tilted her head and pursed her lips. “It’s just that the first species the Kagoshi found were the Natas, then the next alien they found was a Nekotian, that had been possessed by a Natas, so they tend to be extremely, ah, cautious.”

“Yeah!” Purona nodded. “Kagoshi tend to be super cranky. It’s still super rare for Nekotians to travel off-world.”

Cerina frowned. “You say ‘super’ a lot, don’t ya, kid?”

Tannin poked her in the ribs. “Yeah, and you’re cranky all the time. So what?”

Saija’s phone rang. She held her index finger to her lips and pressed the answer button. “Yo!” There was a brief pause. “Yup, be right there.”

Purona jumped up. “Did they win? Is anyone dead?”

Saija shrugged. “I dunno. Amaryllis just said she and Kasai need a lift back here. She sounded exhausted.” Saija pointed off to the side. “So, uh, I’ll be right back.”

A portal swirled open underneath Saija. She dropped through it, and it swirled closed.

“Oh!” Purona gasped and sat straight up.

“Forget something?” Tannin asked.

“Yes.” Purona pulled out her phone. “I need to message Rala to pick up all those, uh, victims or whatever that are frozen.”

“Yes, please do.” Onin rubbed his forehead. “What a mess. In the meantime, I’ve sent out a few infrared servitors to look for the Natas. I’ll send out a few more tomorrow.”

Purona typed in a quick message to Rala explaining the situation. “Yeah. Hopefully Alayis can, like, find a way to help them.”

Cerina snorted. “Why didn’t you do that sooner?”

“Because I wanted to work with the Nekotians,” Onin said.

A portal swirled open. Saija and Kasai stepped through.

Onin jumped up and grabbed Kasai’s hand. “How’d it go?”

“Great.” Kasai yawned. “Excuse me. Amaryllis was able to freeze the rest of them. Saija dropped her off at the Potato.”

“Ooo!” Purona waved her hand in the air. “I got a message back from Rala. Xironi’s leading a task force to round up the victims. Super!”

“Good.” Onin yawned.

“See what you started!” Tannin pointed at Kasai. “Now everyone’s gonna start yawning.”

“Anyway, I’m going to bed.” Onin yawned again, glared at Tannin, and headed for his room.

“Me too.” Kasai waved and also left the living room.

Purona’s stomach growled. She looked down at it. “Apparently, I’m super hungry. Anyone wanna go out to grab some food?”

“Food?” Tannin jumped up and ran for the door. “Well, what’s everyone waiting for?”

Purona stood, but looked around to see if anyone else wanted to go, too.

Saija stood up and shrugged. “Sure, why not? Sounds like fun.”

“Fine.” Cerina stood and trudged along behind Tannin.

“Super!” Purona bounced on the balls of her feet. “Coming, Aiden?”

“No thanks.” Aiden shook her head. “I’ve got to check in with the Matari, then I think I’ll go to bed.”

dragon

Everything was blurry. Ailah blinked, and the world started to come into focus. She was lying on her back on a cold metal bench wearing nothing but her bra and panties. Medical instruments hung above her. The rest of the room was dark and smelled of antiseptic. Ailah tried to move, but her wrists, ankles, hips, and neck were strapped to the table.

There was a pop, and terrifyingly familiar voice spoke. “Well, those brats are stronger than I’d hoped.”

A deeper male voice responded. “I told you they were trouble.”

The woman snarled. “Whatever. How’s the project here going?”

“We’re about ready to begin.” The third voice was high and nasally. Ailah wasn’t sure of the gender.

Footsteps sounded across the room, and drew closer. A bright light flashed in Ailah’s face. She winced and tried to look away.

“Ah, she’s awake.” The owner of the nasally voice was a thin man with thin graying hair. He wore a white lab coat. “Good. She should be ready for the procedure.”

“Are you sure this will work?” The man with the deeper voice wore a dark suit. He leaned over her and frowned. “We’ve already tried two hybrids before. Both were failures.”

“Bah.” Nasal-head waved his hand. “My procedures didn’t fail. You were careless and lost the subjects.”

Suit-man growled. “The first one wasn’t compatible anyway.”

Nasal-head snorted. “Dragon DNA isn’t compatible. We knew it might not work when we started. The hybridization was successful, though.”

“Hmm.” Suit-man tapped his chin with an index finger. “If this doesn’t work I’m going to have you focus on the bio-synthetic host project.”

“That’ll take forever!” Ailah didn’t think Nasal-head could sound any whinier than he normally did, but somehow he managed. “We’ve got to grow a host from scratch. With this process, we just steal one.”

“Yeah, whatever.” The woman waved her hand. “Are we going to get started anytime soon, or not?”

“Yes.” Suit-man nodded to Nasal-head. “We’re going to need reinforcements if we’re going to take on those brats, and our ally should be sending us some help soon. I want this project ready for possession as soon as possible.”

Something clicked, and cold metal panels swung up against her body. There was a loud hum, and pain lanced through Ailah’s body. It felt like every nerve was being ripped out of her. She screamed, then blacked out.

dragon

Purona leaned back in the booth. The steak tips here were divine. And on the government’s bill tonight!

Tannin and Saija were on the other side of the booth and had their heads together looking over a menu. Cerina sat next to Purona. She frowned down at the menu and humphed occasionally.

“So what’s good here, anyway?” Tannin asked.

“Just about everything is super!” Purona leaned forward. “I especially super like the steak and the fried fish!”

“Hmm. Both sound good.” Saija pursed her lips. “I can’t decide. Though, after a battle like that, I could probably eat anything.”

“Ooo! Let’s get both, and we can share so we both get some of each!” Tannin said.

Cerina snorted. “Dude, you’re drooling. Get it together.”

Tannin stuck his tongue out at her. “Am not!”

Cerina rolled her eyes in response.

Purona grinned. “You guys are super great. All that scary fighting, and you were all super calm through it all. I wish I was that brave.”

“You’re brave.” Saija said.

“Nooo!” Purona shook her head. “Not at all. I was so scared, and, uh—” She looked around, leaned forward, and lowered her voice. “The real reason I wanted to come out tonight is I’m still too scared to be in a room by myself, let alone sleep.”

Saija reached out and took her hand. “I was scared too. And if you want, you can stay in my room with me tonight.”

“Thanks.” Purona smiled and squeezed her hand. “I might just take you up on that. And you totally didn’t look scared!”

Tannin leaned in and lowered his voice. “Of course we were scared. We had hordes of half-dead looking people attacking us. Only an idiot wouldn’t be scared.”

“Oh, so you weren’t scared, after all?” Cerina smirked at Tannin.

Tannin rolled his eyes. “Listen, Purona, courage isn’t not being scared. Courage is being so scared that you wet yourself, and still doing the right thing anyway.”

Cerina opened her mouth, but before she could say anything Tannin pointed at her. “Don’t say it! You know what I meant!”

Cerina put her hand to her mouth and stifled a giggle.

dragon

Aiden flopped into the chair next to the bed in her room. She’d hoped that with the Gesaran’s help, she’d be able to quickly find the Natas on Nekotia and kill it. She sighed. Sadly, this Natas seemed to be up to the usual tricks. The darn things were evil, and devious.

Aiden pulled out her comm unit and punched in the sector governor’s code.

“Aiden!” The governor grinned when he saw her. “Did you stop that Natas yet?”

“No.” Aiden grimaced. “It’s up to their usual tricks. Hiding and striking from the shadows. Seems it’s not on Nekotia just to nab a few hosts. The Gesarans and I are working on it. The Nekotians are polite and helpful, but Kl’cha’i…”

Aiden sighed and rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Well, that’s what I’m calling about. He’s hostile. Frankly, I think he’s after the Gesarans more than the Natas.”

The governor rolled his eyes. “I’m sorry he’s the one who’s assigned as the Kagoshi representative for this incident. I know he’s… difficult to work with, but it was his ship that the Gesarans had first contact with, and he really is a good military leader who has the best interests of the Kagoshi in mind.”

Aiden snorted. “True, but does he also have the best interests of the Nekotians and Gesarans in mind? He seems to think that all Gesarans are working with the Natas.”

“Well, bear in mind that up until a week or so ago, the only contact we had with Gesarans was with ones that were possessed by Natas.”

“Oh not that again!” Aiden smacked her hand on the arm of her chair. “Didn’t we go through this crap when we first met the Nekotians? We know the Natas are a non-corporeal species, and—”

The governor held up a hand. “I know, I know. I’ve already sent a diplomatic ambassador to Gesara. If we can open formal negotiations with them, that will resolve that issue in the long term. For now, I need you to placate Kl’cha’i, and keep him on Nekotia.”

Aiden grinned. “Oh, so that’s how you’re playing this.”

The governor shrugged. “He’s playing an important role. That keeps him happy. He’s also too busy to bungle a potentially delicate diplomatic situation. That keeps the rest of the galaxy happy. You have military backup in case you need it. Everybody wins.”

Aiden snorted again. “We just have to put up with his winsome personality, eh?”

The governor leaned forward. “Basically, yes. Seriously, though, if you can convince him to see the Gesarans as allies, that’d help a lot.”

“That’s a tall order.” Aiden slumped in her chair. “I’ll do my best.”

dragon

Ailah blinked. She was still strapped to the table. Everything was sore.

“There!” Nasal-head clapped his hands. He was bent over a computer console to Ailah’s left. “All done! Everything looks good.”

“You were able to implant the Gesaran DNA, then?” Suit-man peered over his shoulder. “What about the enhanced sections?”

“Yes, they’re there.” Nasal-head poked something. “She’s got abilities now. No telling what they are until possession, though.”

“Is she ready, then? Our comrade is waiting for its new body.”

“Hmm.” Nasal-head frowned and rubbed his chin. “I’d like to let the host rest and receive fluids for about another half-hour for best odds of survival. The possession process can be taxing on the host body.”

Possession? Ailah shuddered. That didn’t sound good. I gotta get out of here!

Ailah threw herself to the right with all her strength. The bonds holding her to the table snapped.

Did they replace them with paper?

“She’s up, grab her!” Suit-man yelled.

Ailah sprinted away from Suit-man. And skidded to a stop as the woman stepped out from the shadows at the edge of the room.

“Ya got spirit, kid.” She smirked. “But it’s not gonna help you. You’re still gonna be a host. Now get back on the table.”

Ailah fought back panic, closed her eyes, and swung her fist. Something filled her hand, and the woman screamed.

Ailah opened her eyes. A ginormous sword was in her hand. The thing was bigger than she was.

How’d that get there?

The woman screamed again. Ailah blinked. The fiend was now missing her right arm. “Heh, serves you right, ya witch.”

Suit-man bellowed and charged across the room. A spear of ice shot out of his hand.

Ailah swung her sword. It impacted with the ice and shattered the spear.

Right. I was leaving this horror house.

Ailah charged off into the darkness. And skidded to a stop in front of a large metal door. She looked over her shoulder. Suit-man and Nasal-head were getting closer. Ailah shrugged and swung her sword at the door. It cut through with a horrible screeching sound. Ailah spun around and kicked at the door. The kick flung the door off its hinges and sent it skidding down the hallway. Ailah sprinted after it.

dragon

Amaryllis purred as Ryogin’s strong arms wrapped around her. She nuzzled further into his chest.

“Come on, love, time to wake up.” Ryogin shook her shoulder.

“Mmph.” Amaryllis wrapped her arms around him and pressed herself fully against her husband, and felt his body respond to hers.

“That’s not playing fair. You’re the one who told me to wake you early.”

Amaryllis sighed. “Yeah. With the amplify gift, I think I can safely help Kasai transform to her ultimate form.” She smiled up at her husband and ran her hand down his body. “I can be a little late, though…”

dragon

Kasai yawned and cracked an eye open at the knock on her door. She sighed and closed her eyes again. Whoever it was knocked on the door again. Kasai growled and clamped the pillow over her head.

“Kasai, wake up!” Amaryllis’ voice came from the other side of the door.

“Fine.” Kasai yawned again and swung her legs out of bed.

She pulled on a pair of jeans and changed into a clean tank-top. She only snagged it on her wings once this time. Better, but she still wasn’t completely used to them. Kasai ran a brush through her hair—she wasn’t used to the red yet, either. She squared her shoulders and opened the door.

Amaryllis smiled. “Good morning.”

“Yeah.” Kasai shrugged. “Why are you up so early?”

Amaryllis’ left ear flicked backward. “It’s eight in the morning. That’s not that early. I wanted to get up earlier, but it took me a while to get ready.”

Kasai frowned. Amaryllis was blushing, why— Kasai felt her own face heat. “So, uh, what’s up?”

“Oh, right!” Amaryllis smiled again. “We’re going to go train.”

“Huh?”

Amaryllis’ ear flicked again. “You said you can’t transform into a dragon at will, right?”

Kasai sighed. “Yeah. I’ve only done it the once.”

“Well, we’re gonna work on that.”

Amaryllis went and knocked on Purona’s door. After a few more knocks, the door opened. Purona wore an oversized t-shirt that was slipping off one shoulder, and a pair of shorts. Her ears drooped to the sides, and she blinked sleep from her eyes.

Amaryllis smiled. “Good morning! We need to go train while we’re waiting for news of the Natas. Is there a bomb range or something nearby where we can go all-out without worrying about destroying anything?”

Purona blinked. “I dunno. I’ll—” Purona yawned. “I’ll check with Rala.” Purona closed the door.

“I don’t think she’s a morning person.” Amaryllis said.

Kasai giggled. “Well, Tannin and Saija did keep her up late last night.”

A few moments later Purona’s door opened, and she emerged dressed in her Nekotian uniform.

“Okay, there’s a military testing range that’ll be super good for training about sixty miles west of here. It’s in a big crater. I’ve called to get us a ride over there.”

“Thanks!” Amaryllis headed to the door. “Kasai and I will head over there. Please bring the others,” she called over her shoulder.

Kasai turned to Purona, shrugged, and hurried after Amaryllis. They took the elevator down to street level, and exited the hotel.

Amaryllis rose up a few feet into the air. “First, let’s race over there.”

Kasai frowned. Amaryllis didn’t have her staff. Normally, she sat on it to fly. Would she be slower without it? Kasai shrugged. She jumped into the air and flapped her wings. She followed Amaryllis in a lazy spiral up above the tops of the buildings.

“Okay.” Amaryllis waved to her. “Catch me if you can! Multi-class: super-cruise!”

Amaryllis circled around once more, then blasted off with a boom loud enough to rattle the windows on the surrounding buildings.

“Oh, so that’s how this is going to be.” Kasai sighed, locked her wing-joints, and pushed dragonfire out through her feet.

The world rushed past with a deafening roar. In a few minutes, she caught up with Amaryllis. Amaryllis laughed and waved to Kasai, though between the wind and the super-sonic velocity, Kasai couldn’t make out what she said.

Amaryllis stretched out her hand, and green dragonfire shot out toward Kasai.

Kasai spun in mid-air to catch the fire on her wing. The onicranium scales soaked up the energy and gave Kasai an extra boost of energy. Kasai punched out with her own dragonfire, and shot a blast at Amaryllis. Amaryllis mouthed something, and a glowing golden shield formed in front of her. The fire splashed harmlessly off the shield.

This wasn’t working. Kasai circled around Amaryllis, firing pot-shots at her while she tried to come up with a better plan of attack. Kasai generated a ball of dragonfire in her fist, imagined a telekinetic rope, and spun the dragonfire around it to make a flaming whip.

Kasai lashed out with the whip. It wrapped around the edge of the shield. Kasai grinned. Amaryllis darted backward and generated a servitor that took the impact from the whip. Kasai groaned.

dragon

Amaryllis squeaked as a whip made of fire wrapped around her shield. She managed to generate a servitor in time to block it.

That was close! Is the new staff ready yet?

Almost. Ryogin sounded distracted. He was probably working on the staff now.

Amaryllis dropped down a few hundred yards to avoid another energy whip. She generated another shield just in time to stop a blast of dragonfire from roasting her legs. Amaryllis shot a few more blasts at Kasai, who just soaked up most of them, but did dodge a few.

Amaryllis grinned. Kasai might not be making progress on accessing her full dragon form, but her mobility in the air was getting a lot better.

It’s ready now. Amaryllis sighed in relief at the sound of Ryogin’s mental voice.

She stopped in mid-air and generated a double-thick shield in front of her. “Artifice: full up-link, to the third!”

“Like I’m going to give you time to do that!” Kasai let loose an over-sized blast of dragonfire.

A blue-white artifice portal swirled open above Amaryllis’ head. She reached into it and yanked out a shakujo.

Kasai jerked to a stop and gasped in surprise. “Um, that was faster than normal. And it looks different.”

Amaryllis grinned. The top of this shakujo was silver-white. “Yup. We got a little more onicranium when we were salvaging ships back on that moon.”

“Uh-oh.”

“Now.” Amaryllis twirled the staff around and pointed it at Kasai. “Let’s work on drawing out the dragon in you.”

“Wait!” Kasai held up a hand. “It’s too dangerous! What if I kill somebody?”

“Hmm.” Amaryllis lowered her shakujo, drifted over next to Kasai, and put an arm around her friend’s shoulder. “Still worried about being called a monster when you were younger?”

“Yeah.” Kasai sniffed and wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand. “Meeting you all has helped. But sometimes I can kinda still hear Onryo in the back of my mind. Talking with my therapist back on Gesara helped, and the genetic adjustments that Ryogin did helped a lot. I don’t hear her out loud anymore, and I’m not transforming, burning down villages, and then not remembering any of it, but…”

“But you’re afraid that might happen if you go full dragon?”

Kasai twirled her hair around her index finger and nodded.

Amaryllis squeezed Kasai’s shoulders. “Your dragon nature is a part of you, like my Nekotian nature is a part of me. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magical way to fix everything. You’re going to have worries, and from the little bit of research I did, Onryo isn’t going to just go away. She’s a part of you. You’ve accepted that. Now you have to accept the rest of who you are. I don’t believe you’re evil. Onin doesn’t believe you’re evil.

“You were raised by the monks of Ard, correct?”

Kasai nodded.

“Do you, personally, believe their teachings?”

Kasai shrugged. “Well, kind of. I don’t agree with everything, or I’d have stayed in the monastery. But I believe in Ard.”

“Good. Me too.” Amaryllis smiled and nudged Kasai in the ribs. “There aren’t many that do, these days. But that’s beside the point. If you believe in Ard, then you believe you’re here for a purpose, right?”

Kasai nodded again. “Now you’re starting to sound like one of the monks.”

Amaryllis shuddered. “Ugh. Way too celibate for me. Anyway, if you have a purpose, and you can transform into a dragon, that must be for a reason, right?”

Kasai sighed. “Fine, fine. If my friends believe in me, I can believe in myself too. Do you have a plan for bringing out the dragon?”

“Yup.” Amaryllis smiled and twirled her shakujo around to point the tip at Kasai. “We’re gonna beat it out of you.”

“What!” Kasai back-winged away from Amaryllis. “That sounds neither scientific nor safe.”

“Oh, it’s scientific. On the previous occasion, you were under extreme duress. The idea is to replicate those conditions.”

“By fighting with me?”

“I’d prefer ‘extreme sparring’, but yes.” Amaryllis winked. “Get ready. I’m also going to fully test out this multiplier gift before having to use it extensively in combat.”

Kasai rolled her eyes. “Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Amaryllis grinned. “I’ve been working on my scripts.”

“Scripts?”

“Yeah. That’s how I visualize my gifts and use them together. Demonstration?”

“Sure.” Kasai braced herself.

Amaryllis gripped her staff. “Multi-class: pew-pew gun!”

Kasai giggled. “What?”

Kasai’s eyes grow wide as a bus-sized blaster bolt formed at the end of the shakujo. More followed in rapid succession. The blasts flew in so fast they were a blur, and the air screeched as though it was being ripped apart. Kasai managed to dodge a few blasts, but soon the air was filled with them. One nicked Kasai on the wingtip. It didn’t appear to cause an injury, but it did send her spinning away.

“Ice!” Amaryllis yelled.

A wave of ice flowed out of Amaryllis shakujo. She wove it around, effectively boxing Kasai in with ice, then Amaryllis switched back to amplified energy blasts. Kasai was battered by the blasts and forced down and backward. Kasai’s wings were wrapped around her. They were absorbing the energy blasts, but the barrage still kept her pinned down.

Perhaps this will be easier than we thought?

I wouldn’t count on it. Ryogin’s mental voice sounded wary. Calculations show it’s going to take more.

Amaryllis sighed. I was hoping we wouldn’t have to resort to that.

Something glowed from underneath Kasai’s wings.

“Uh-oh.” Amaryllis ceased her onslaught and gained some altitude.

Amaryllis generated a fresh shield. There was a flash of blinding white light, and her shield was ripped to shreds. She clung to her staff as she tumbled through the air. After several minutes, she was able to right herself. Just in time to see a blast of dragonfire headed straight at her.

“Reinforce!” Amaryllis swung her staff at the column of fire.

The onicranium in the shakujo absorbed most of it, and she groaned with the effort of deflecting the rest of it. She shoved with all her might. Her arms ached. Finally, she was able to shove the blast to the side. It slid off the edge of her shakujo and disappeared off into the sky.

Amaryllis took a deep breath. Her arms shook and she sucked in air trying to catch her breath. “Okay, that was big.”

A few seconds later Amaryllis straightened up. “All right. If you want to play that way…”

Amaryllis pointed her staff at Kasai and loosed a barrage of blasts. Under cover of the blasts, Amaryllis shot upward. She stopped when she could just start to make out the curve of the planet on the horizon.

Amaryllis pointed her staff straight up. “Multi-class: orbital strike.”

Mist gathered around the top of her staff. Ice formed, and the chunk grew rapidly. Amaryllis glanced down. Kasai was coming up at her fast. Amaryllis looked up at the ice chunk, now the size of a small house. It wasn’t going to be ready in time. She generated a few servitors with her left hand and sent them down to delay Kasai.

The servitors zipped down and circled around Kasai. Lightning shot out from them, and was absorbed by the scales on Kasai’s wings.

Hmm. Amaryllis pursed her lips. This isn’t going to work.

She sent a mental command to the servitors. They condensed and attached to Kasai’s legs. Kasai batted at them with fire-covered hands, but they stayed connected. She was slowly being dragged down.

Amaryllis looked up at the chunk of ice. It was now several stories tall. That should work. She generated four more servitors. They floated up, attached to the ice chunk, and spread out to cover the bottom.

Amaryllis swung her staff around and pointed it down at Kasai. “Multi-class: mega-beam!”

A spot of light formed at the tip of Amaryllis’ staff. It grew to twenty yards in diameter, and a solid beam shot out and down at Kasai.

It was an energy-based attack, so it shouldn’t hurt Kasai, but hopefully it would shove her down closer to the ground. Amaryllis kept up the attack for a second, then stopped. She took a breath and wiped her forehead.

“Man, that takes a lot of energy!”

She took another breath, floated to the side, and waved her staff down to the ground. The ice chunk dropped, well, like a rock.

dragon

Kasai shoved against the energy beam and growled in frustration. It wasn’t hurting her, but it was shoving her away. Between telekinesis and dragonfire, Kasai could fight from a distance, but if Amaryllis was trying to make some distance between the two of them, she probably had a reason.

The beam stopped the moment Kasai’s feet touched the ground. That couldn’t be a coincidence. She shaded her eyes and looked around. That speck wasn’t Amaryllis, was it? Wait. The speck was getting bigger.

Kasai blinked. “Is she trying to Oz me to death?”

Kasai tried to take off, but was jerked back to the ground. She bent over to examine her feet. A small yellow servitor was still stuck to each of her feet.

The speck kept growing bigger. Kasai yanked with her feet, but they still wouldn’t move. She winced and held her hand out above her head.

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