Fire and Blade

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The holder of the shotgun, a dark man of possible Hispanic origins, prodded Kai to turn around, where another armed man stood at the ready to zip-tie Kai's wrists behind him. Once three thick plastic bands had been tightened till he could feel the circulation cutting off from his fingers, a heavy boot to the back sent him to his knees.

"Where is she?"

"Going to have to be more specific," said Kai, cool as winter.

"The only girl on this ship, smart ass."

"I recall two of the crew members being--" The heavy boot pounded his back again, or rather his poor hidden wings, knocking the wind out of him as he was thrown to the dirty metal plating of the deck.

"Young girl. She's white. All white."

He could taste blood in his mouth. How did they know? Why would these men want...

Dread realization settled over him like a blanket made of needles. Not that the shotgun barrel in the chest had warned him of anything.

"Check behind him." Growled the voice above him. "Don't bother being quiet. Freak ship's like a giant drum."

The other man, a huge beast of a man with flaming ginger hair, stuffed something into his right ear and more or less squeezed himself into a door that housed normal-sized men easily. Seeing the full size of him for the first time, the fear inside Kai percolated near to panic. What scared him most was that Kai didn't even question whether this was real or not. It had been all too real for him on too many occasions.

Damn it! He should have expected this!

Within seconds the ginger monster returned with Ayah, wings and all, tucked beneath his one arm like a sleeping back. She squirmed and squawked, but something like a thick muzzle had been put over her mouth, muffling her almost completely. Gray metal bands not unlike what the muzzle was made out of bound her shoulder to knees like the limbs of a giant spider.

The man with his heel to Kai's back gave a low whistle. "Lookie there, she's all grown up!" A faint plastic click, like a button, sounded. "We got her. Starboard side."

Unbeknownst to his captor, Kai's belly had begun to burn and his blood warmed with growing fire. But he couldn't just start flaming. He'd only get one shot before they caught on that Ayah wasn't the only inhuman one on this boat. Maybe if he could just twist around to get some fire over his back--that was impossible. Maybe if he could find Tyson...breathe at just the right time...

"So you've found what you want," he pushed out, spraying spittle across the metal deck his cheek was mashed against. His spit turned to steam instantly, and he prayed they didn't notice. "What have you done with the rest of the crew?"

"Tied 'em up. Duh."

Ugh. A realistic bad guy. What happened to the talkers? "Was a kid among them? Not one of the crew. Crazy guy."

In answer Kai got a kick to the side. If it weren't for his wings absorbing the brunt, he swore his ribs would have cracked. Instead he got a seriously bruised wing and the wind knocked half from him.

"Shut up," said the man above Kai's wheezes.

"OY!"

A grind of gears--a whistling whirr--and the steel toe boots besides Kai stumbled back, cursing. The shotgun barked out a blast. The ginger whirled about and let loose his shotgun as well, though it looked like a toy in his large arms.

Kai's eyes were to Dragoon, which mooved, unheeded by the gunshots, to the Hispanic's ankles. A horrible grind, like a table saw, and the man dropped to his knees with a scream. The ginger giant jerked around, startled.

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