I WOKE THE instant I felt Loi's silent scream.

'LAURA!' Kassie screamed.

'Cat, light!' roared Sian.

Something was seriously wrong and we all felt it. The terror and an awful sensation of Loi weakening.

I flared my energy out. 'HOLY HELL WHAT IS IT?'

SIAN GAPED AT the creature that had Loi by the throat against the wall and then blasted it with her energy.

'Shit!' Her energy pinged off. 'It's shielding!' Noticing Nnelg cowering beside Audi, she yelled at him. 'Get Elena. Get everyone!'

The dragon vanished.

'Loi, get your shield up.' Kassie circled the creature warily, an expression of revulsion and fury on her face.

LOI FOCUSED HARD while her vision began to blacken, visualizing her energy expanding out, under the clawed grip. Relief washed through her when she managed to take a breath. The strange reptilian creature hissed in anger and slammed her, again and again, against the wall while she struggled to keep her shield in place. The girls hurled bolt after bolt at the monster. Loi sensed its shield begin to weaken. It turned and threw her to the floor.

I GRABBED LOI by the arm and pulled her behind me then Sian, Kassie and I moved toward it. The freakiest looking thing I'd seen yet. Its head looked similar to a crocodile, with a long snout and jagged teeth, but its body was human-like in form. Covered in scaly skin, its hands were strange curled claws. It hissed at us then opened its mouth and spat. We jerked our shields up and the nasty brackish scum that splattered over them dissolved away. I could feel the acidic properties in it and shuddered. Kassie gave me a hard look then began to concentrate an intense wind tunnel, directly onto the creature. I knew what she wanted and focused my energy.

FEAR STREAKED THROUGH Sabyn as he sprinted for the girls' room with the other men. Nnelg had burst into their quarters, screaming that a koratil attacked Loi and the girls couldn't stop it. They'd bolted from their quarters and met Elena and Yakov racing down the turret stairs. When they reached the suite Elena extended a hand and the doors wrenched open, exposing the chaos within.

Kassie had it pinned against the wall and Cat shot it with a bolt of fire. It shrieked when its shield dissipated, exploding with a loud thud, remnants splattering everywhere.

I STOOD PANTING, while staring in shock at the bloody remains strewn about. My brain wasn't up to making sense of this. Being wrenched from a deep and much needed sleep to been thrown into a sudden intense fight, bewildered me. I didn't know what to do. Sabyn pushed past Kassie, Sian and me and scooped Loi into his arms. I then realized her throat bled from several nasty gashes. Elena hurried forward to attend to her and we were led away.

'WHERE ARE WE going?'

Yakov looked at Cat. 'You are being moved to your official quarters. It's earlier than intended but this suite is in no state to be used now.'

He expected more questions but she just nodded and allowed Alek to lead her onward. After he saw the girls settled in, he headed to Elena's suite. 'Are they okay?' she demanded when he entered.

'Yes, just in shock. Will Loi be okay?'

'Yes, all healed. She's fine now.' She sunk onto the seat at her dressing table, her beautiful face creased with stress. 'How did this happen? It shouldn't have been possible.'

He stood behind her, gently massaging her neck. 'I don't know.'

Elena put a hand to her head and leaned back to look up at him her eyes troubled. 'Thank goodness we began training them immediately. If we had lost our Earth Elemental.'

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