Chapter 12: Dragons

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Down in the stadium, the battle wasn't looking good for the military vampires. The Huli Jing were good at their job. My razor-sharp dragon eyesight let me see the way the foxes turned ghostly, ran for the vampires' faces, and ghosted through, tearing out the vampire's soul or life essence or something. The vampire dropped like a stone and the fox stood there and munched whatever they'd torn out.

Quite a few foxes lay scattered around the field, but their bodies were slowly dissolving into red mist.

The fight raged all along the stadium's perimeter, where the foxes had chased the vampires down into the concourse with the shops. And Li and Qiao.

There was no sign of Jia-Li.

You know, screw it. I cared more about Lu than my dominating dragoness blood-host. I walked down the stairs cautiously, trying to coordinate my front feet and my back feet. I really didn't want to pick up a bullet, so I kept my head down and my wings pressed to my sides. I also sucked my scales in tight. With any luck, it made them into armor. Maybe even bulletproof armor, who knows?

Anyway, I made it off the stands without falling over my feet. On flat ground, walking was a lot easier. When you were a kid, did you ever run around on all fours, pretending to be an animal? It was like that, except my hind legs weren't excessively longer than my front legs.

The doorway nearest Lu and Qiao was crowded with foxes and vampires fighting hand to hand. The vampires had out their knives and were beating off foxes with rifle butts and fists. There wasn't a lot of blood, but vampire bodies and smoky Huli Jing corpses littered the ground.

"Clear the way!" My dragon voice was satisfyingly loud. It was like I'd had a four thousand watt amplifier installed in my throat. We're talking Metallica concert, here.

The soldiers and foxes whirled and stared at me, the soldiers fumbling for their guns.

I didn't want to kill my own guys with fire, so I just roared and charged straight at them. Foxes and vampires scrambled out of my way, and something crunched underfoot as I ducked into the concourse. Hopefully it was foxes.

A handful of vampire soldiers clustered around Lu and Qiao, who were still wrapped in the green aurora. The soldiers spun and covered me. "Dude, don't shoot!" My voice echoed down the concrete hallway like a bullhorn. "I'm on your side!"

"Stand down, dragon!" one of them barked.

"I can't! I have to rescue my friends! Out of the way!" I swept the soldiers aside with one clawed hand.

How did the aurora work, anyway? I hooked a claw into it, and it swirled like a lit candle. I tore into it with both forepaws, breaking its imprisoning curl.

Lu grabbed Qiao's arm. As I opened a gap in the aurora, they struggled forward and escaped their prison.

"Dalton!" exclaimed Lu, laying a hand on my leg and looking up at me. "Thank you!"

I opened my mouth to say something stupid. And then the soldiers opened fire.

Bullets tore into my left wing, my left side and my neck. I whipped my head away and missed taking lead in the face.

Qiao and Lu leaped up and waved their arms, and the soldiers stopped shooting. But pain tore through my body and blood filled my throat.

Then I saw the other dragon. It ran down the hall toward us, the spikes on its back scraping the ceiling. It was red with a gold beard under its chin and neck, and gold horns.

And a strong look of Jia-Li's haughty expression around its face.

Qiao and Lu looked, and Lu screamed.

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