Copyright ©2004 Lance Shawn McGill. All rights and characters reserved.
Chapter Three: Dragons
Jason took six days before he finally came to the Shadowhawk, though Ruby had been tracking his activities and knew he'd been busy setting up Lombardi Enterprises to shift to terraforming as well as modifying his designs for icerunners to more normal watercraft. The intense magnetic field still kept anything other than sail power impractical, but Jason's conversion of the skates to hydrofoils ensured that they wouldn't be too much slower than the icerunners in good seas, and allowed the majority of current shipping to simply be retrofitted. Ruby had tossed Stravis a few extra suggestions, since it looked like Jason was keeping him as factor, and had told him to put off the expedition to the Dragon's Head until the terraforming was underway. Stravis had agreed, not wanting to make an attempt on the vast island, which was on the northern ice cap and still frozen, until the new weather patterns had been fully established.
Ruby was in her tub when Jason finally arrived. She watched him approach the ship through the one-way dome over the tub, opening the main hatch for him as he reached for the panel. She waited for him to come up the lift before calling to him.
Jason looked around the relatively spacious interior of Ruby's ship, taking in the cockpit merged into the main sitting area, a large sunken oval surrounded by couches that filled the first half of the ship, then looked back at the curved divider that sectioned off the rear half, noting the lift to the upper lock and gun turret. He poked his head around the divider to find a gigantic round bed, the curved divider serving as a headboard, and a large oval pool filling the rear under a transparent dome. Doors off to either side were marked with the warnings for the reactor room, and Jason noted the booms to either side of the domed enclosure that stretched back to the oversized reactor core and hyperspace engines. He'd noted from the outside that Ruby's ship resembled its namesake, and despite the fact it was more than three times as large as his ship, he didn't think it would have any problem matching it move for move. And it was far less luxurious than he would have suspected, beyond the huge bed and pool, the ship was comfortable, but not garish.
"No, I'm not selling her," Ruby said from the pool. Jason smiled.
"Reading my mind? I didn't think the Guild allowed that normally."
"Don't need to read your mind when your expression says so much. I'm surprised you came alone."
"Shouldn't be. Arika is aboard my ship. She's been tinkering with everything the last week. It seems you were correct that whatever that thing was, it was limiting her in some ways. She's turned into a techie, and has been a lot more curious about everything. She's got a direct link to the ship's computer and has been downloading enormous amounts of data, whatever strikes her fancy. It's like I all of a sudden have a kid on my hands."
Ruby laughed. "I should have warned you. Mirriam was the same way at first."
"My current second in command of covert ops. She's one of the Draconians that nearly killed me. How do you think I knew about that device? It was destroyed during the fighting, and she survived my last-ditch defense, so she was captured and put on ice until I finally woke up and took her out of stasis. Without the Master AI, they can be re-imprinted if you're very careful, and over time, they will gradually grow more independent; but I haven't yet found the key to reversing the process that makes them so… servile." Ruby rose up in the tub, stepping out and picking up a towel. "Still, I doubt you came here just to discuss Arika."
Jason gave Ruby a long glance. "No. I came to ask you to answer a few questions for me."
Ruby finished wiping the water off her body and tossed the towel into a dryer. "Okay. Shoot."
"What exactly happened to you? During the assassination attempt? I've scoured the net, and while I do have some news articles on an 'accident' aboard your previous yacht that resulted in the destruction of a spaceport in a small nuclear blast, nothing concrete that even mentions you being injured."
Ruby nodded. "I was aboard. Akara had just started making Draconians a few years previous, and I had yet to encounter them, or know what they were. Mirriam tells me they approached me at a resort where I was relaxing incognito, and the three of them let me know they wanted to play." Ruby shrugged. "What can I say, Jason? I'm more interested in females than males, and I have a hellacious sex drive. I fell for it, and when I had my guard down, they attacked. All I know about it is waking up six months later with no memories other than those I had from Angel's bringing me out of a coma."
"Angel… Angelica Sarel? Your Chief of Medical Operations?" Jason nodded. "She's your lover? I had wondered what would prompt an Alpha Class Empath, and one of the more prominent Hetaera, to accept a simple medical officer’s job."
"I think she feels more than compensated for the change. Angel's also the best healer in the Empire. That's why D.I. hired her to repair me after the 'accident'."
"Was quite a job, too," Angel's voice came from the lift. "She was pretty much just a head and most of a ribcage. Took six months to stabilize her enough to take out of stasis, then she fairly well rebuilt herself. My Ruby has an almost unbelievable regenerative capacity."
Ruby smiled. "Jason, meet Angel."
Jason looked at the strawberry blonde, noting her extremely generous curves and the streak of black that ran down the center of her hair. She was wearing a transparent green top that had long, wide cuffed sleeves, and hung off her shoulders, depending from her nipple rings. The front was open as well, cutting in an upside-down v to a pair of small rings on her hips, then draping down her thighs before coming up to a point where it connected to her clit ring.
"I'll lay odds you drew a lot of looks with that outfit. The locals really aren't used to imperial fashion."
Angel shrugged. "It's a nice day out. I'm certainly not going to wear thermals."
Jason laughed. "No. Nice outfit. Not one I'd wear, but that's mainly because I always found clit rings to be far too distracting when I walked."
Ruby smiled. "Me too, though I do still wear them on occasion. Anyway, any other questions?"
Jason laughed ruefully. "Okay… need to remember I'm back to being male again. All right, so you were definitely seriously injured, and Angel here rebuilt you and brought you out of a coma with amnesia. I'll take that as a given. What I really want to know is what you intend to do once I've helped you with the Legion."
Ruby looked at Angel, then sighed and crossed to sit on the bed. "I'm going to have to force Akara's hand. She's slowly building her army of Draconians, and I have to stop her. I've given her too much time already, but I had to recover, and restructure D.I into something I could actually trust. Same with the Legion. I may have once felt I could handle the pack of ravening wolves the Legion used to be, but I wasn't too trusting of them once I woke up. I've almost gotten them to where they need to be, but can't quite get them as cohesive as I'd like… which I'm hoping you can help fix. Once I am sure I can depend on the Legion to do its job, I can move against Akara before she's made herself untouchable."
Jason nodded. "Okay, last question then. Has either one of you thought about how suspicious it is that Akara hired me, gave me a Draconian, and sent me here? Does anyone else smell 'trap'?"
Ruby nodded. "The Legion's been on high alert since the contract came through. So far, we haven't been able to figure out what Akara's game is. That's one of the reasons Rylar was so thorough on Arika, to make sure she wasn't carrying anything. But she came up clean. I figured the best way to deal with a potential trap was to come loaded for anything. I have my command carrier in orbit, and there's not a single vessel of any class that can match her one on one, and any fleet large enough to do some damage can't be hidden."
Jason nodded. "Good. I'd hate to work for someone who can't see the obvious."
Ruby raised her eyebrow. "Does that mean you're taking the job?"
Jason nodded. "I'll file the notice of 'contract unfulfillable' when I get back to my ship. It's going to cost you, though."
Ruby laughed. "How does an unlimited expense account and three hundred million credits sound?"
Jason blinked. "Um. Not too bad, I suppose. For a start."
Ruby laughed again as she stuck out her hand. "Contract accepted?"
Jason shook her hand as he nodded. "Fine. Just remember, I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt, but I want to be free to leave if I ever think you're screwing me over again."
Ruby nodded rubbing the hand Jason had shook absently. "It wasn't the same me who did that to you, Jason. And I promise it won't happen again."
Jason didn't commit further, but headed back to his ship to prepare for takeoff. As Ruby lay back on the bed, Angel brought over drinks.
"Well, he's reserved, but at least willing to give it a shot," Angel said as she sat on the edge of the bed.
Ruby nodded. "I'm glad of that, but he's right. Akara had to have set up a trap of some sort. I just can't figure out how." She went to set up and take the drink, a faint wince on her face.
"What's wrong?" Angel asked.
"Sudden headache. It's nothing. The magnetic field here plays havoc with my shields."
Angel nodded. "I've noticed it makes almost any type of psionics more difficult. I doubt many apprentices would even be able to work here."
"I'll likely be fine once we're in space," Ruby said, tossing her glass back and draining it before handing it back to Angel.
Angel set both glasses on the side board as she snuggled up next to Ruby, sighing happily as the redhead's arm encircled her and Ruby's thumb hooked into one of her rings. "And then back to civilization."
Ruby laughed. "It's not really that backwards here, dear."
"Really? I would have never guessed. It's like they didn't even recognize that I was a Hetaera."
"They probably didn't. Most Hetaera don't leave the Empire. I have no doubt many of them thought you were an extremely high-priced prostitute."
Angel sighed. "While sex may be a prime part of what a Hetaera does, we're not whores. We're healers."
"I know, dear. And believe me, I for one would never mistake the two."
Angel smiled, rolling over so she could face Ruby. "No, I suspect I've taught you much better than that. So is the real reason you don't wear your rings because you find them too distracting?"
Ruby laughed. "I suppose whatever I say, I'm going to be wearing them for awhile, hmm?" She tugged on one of Angel's nipple rings. "Especially since I know the main reason you wear them so often is because you know I like them on you?"
Angel gave her a grin. "Of course. After all, if they really do distract you, then you need to learn to deal with it."
"And give you plenty of excuses to play with them."
Ruby rolled her over and straddled her. "Fine. When we get back to the Nova, you can put them in for me and play with them all you want, but until then, I'm going to play with yours mercilessly."
Angel giggled. "Oh… torture indeed."
The attack came without warning in the middle of the night. Jason was still finishing his preparations with Lombardi Enterprises, so Ruby and Angel had eventually fallen asleep, but Ruby's subconscious woke her just seconds before the dragon crashed down on the right wing. In a squeal of tortured metal, the wing and the landing gear gave way, throwing Ruby and Angel off the bed. Instinctively, Ruby teleported Angel to the first place she could visualize, the Sasha’s bridge, but found herself nearly blinded by the headache it immediately produced. She crashed into the wall, disoriented by the difficulty of what was normally such a simple task, and she barely rolled away in time as a set of massive claws ripped through the hull. She rolled up to one knee and raised her hand, a beam of energy almost six feet in diameter springing forth and sending the dragon flying.
Barely even taking the time to reflect that the bolt had been far larger than intended, and almost effortless compared to teleporting Angel, Ruby dove out the breach in the hull after the dragon, rolling and jumping upwards just as a wave of plasma washed over the wing from a second dragon. A smaller body threw itself off the dragon and she found herself dragged back down by one of the Draconians, the lithe girl attempting to use her cybernetic strength to crush her.
Ruby braced herself as she landed, her feet slamming into the synstone paving of the landing field as she twisted, throwing the girl off of her. The pink-haired Draconian flipped in midair, her pistols appearing in her hands as she landed and launched a volley of grazer beams at Ruby. Ruby's hand lifted, the air shimmering as she absorbed the high powered gamma ray laser blast with a psi shield.
A massive clawed foot slammed down towards her, forcing her to cartwheel to the side, landing on her back as she brought her hands forward to fire another of those massive bolts at the heavily armored dragon, staggering her even as the massive sword she was swinging crashed into the ground, causing a spray of stone shards to fly. Ruby's shields fluttered from the impacts as she rolled, right into the grasp of another Draconian. She felt the girls arms wrap around into a full nelson as she felt her skin flush and realized the cyborg had her pheromones on full. She fought to focus over a wave of desire, feeling her body respond to the excitement of the fight and the pheromones.
The other warrior took advantage of her struggle to leap towards her, her nails having sprouted long glowing talons. Ruby screamed as the thin lasblades ripped into her abdomen. Rage burned across her mind as the warrior twisted, drawing the blades up towards her heart.
In a flash of pure fury, Ruby ripped her arms down, tearing free of the grip of the Draconian pinning her. She brought her hand forward, long purple claws having sprouted from her fingertips. Her hand ripped into the Draconian's belly, tearing through her dermal armor as she wrapped her hand around the master control module and ripped it free. The draconian screamed in unison with her dragon as both collapsed. Ruby grinned viciously, the cuts in her stomach already sealed and healing.
She whirled on the other girl, blood flying from her hand as she started to advance, but was caught across the midsection by a massive tail. She went flying into the hull of the Nova, pain flaring as her spine tore through the heavy armor. A third dragon drove her through the hull with the flat of her sword.
There was a growl from the interior of the ship as Ruby re-emerged. The third draconian unleashed a round of fire from the heavy cannon she carried, while the dragon opened up with her railgun. Ruby shrugged off the energy weapon as she stalked after the draconian on the ground, but she couldn't ignore the half-ton slug from the dragon's cannon. It caught her in the side and hurled her halfway across the field before driving her into the synstone and burying her beneath the surface.
The entire field shook as two more dragons landed, the forty-foot-tall bipeds stalking towards the impact site. There was a rising howl of rage from the ground which ended in an explosion as a transformed Ruby emerged, blowing a crater nearly a hundred feet wide in the field as she rose above it in a ball of white plasma.
In overall size and form, she was unchanged, but a pair of dragon-like wings and a spaded tail had sprouted from her back, and hooves had appeared on her feet. A pair of short horns poked up through the silver headpiece that had appeared on her head, contrasting to the large, slim ram's horns that spiraled on either side of the helm. Her hair was pulled back into a high crest through a black cone on the helmet, long spikes projecting from the dead-black riser. The helmet turned into a liquid-appearing drape that hung down her neck to a wide pair of shoulder plates, flared into a series of curved blades that almost seemed to jeopardize her wings. A pair of silver gauntlets covered her lower arms, the jet-black elbow guards sporting a ring of spikes, and a double belt, made of the same black metal and also bearing spikes, curved around her hips and connected to a loose loincloth like affair made of chainmail, also of the black metal, that hung almost to her feet, though the top began more than halfway down her thighs. Added to this already vicious-looking outfit was a pair of large nipple rings, the golden hoops spiked in the same manner as her belt, and matching a set of smaller ear rings. From a smaller loop inside the larger ones, long chains supported large ruby spheres almost an inch in diameter, matching an only slightly smaller one that hung from between her legs. Her lower legs also were covered, like her arms, in the liquid silver with jet-black knee guards topped with long curved horns.
The Draconians paused for a moment at the appearance of their transformed foe, hesitating for a second at the similarities she bore to a dragon, and the strange armor she wore, but could not identify the race from their database.
Ruby smiled. "All right, now you girls have really PISSED ME OFF!!!"
With a howl of anger, she stuck out her hand and purple lightning crawled down her arm to form into viciously barbed sword that was similar to the armor, as she flew at the nearest dragon. The sword sparked as the dragon tried to fend her off, her massive blade proving no defense as the barbed blade sliced through it and into the dragons arm. The dragon screamed as purple lightning arced over her body. Down on the ground, one of the Draconian's joined the dragon in howling, trying to swing her heavy weapon around. A purple bolt lanced from the largest central muzzle and shattered into a spray of thin beams as it was deflected in all directions.
In fractions of a second, the Draconians blinked out of sight as the beams impacted the field and the night was shattered by the brilliant glare of an atomic reaction as the antiparticle beam annihilated with the ground. The atomic fireball reached nearly to the edge of the field, but the shockwave was contained and channeled upwards by an invisible wall. Sirens roared all over the city as the roar of the blast shattered the night, but the destructive force and heat followed a ball of white plasma that rose to orbit, dragging the column of fire behind it. Outside the atmosphere, the electromagnetic spectrum howled briefly as the fireball burned out.
<<RUBY!!!!>> Angel's mental scream reached through the haze of rage.
<<I'm fine! The bitches used the antiparticle cannon in atmosphere!>>
<<You blocked me out for a few moments there! Are you all right?>>
Ruby shook her head, the pain in it still intense. <<I don't know. It's hard to think.>>
<<Nova to Commander,>> Kyren's mental voice joined in.
<<How the hell did they sneak up on me, Kyren?>>
<<I believe they must have already been on the planet,>> her mental voice said calmly. <<The magnetic field interferes with any sensors. Outside of the narrow band around the equator, we're virtually blind to the rest of the planet on anything but visual. Shall I launch fighters?>>
<<No. They've got antiparticle cannons. The fighter's shields can't take those. Let me deal with them.>>
<<Monitoring five targets rising from the planet. Four with riders.>>
<<Damn! I thought I took out at least one.>>
<<Confirmed. There is still one attacker near the Shadowhawk. Dispatching a crew to restrain.>>
<<Wonder why the dragon is missing a rider, then? Send a unit to check on Lombardi. Arika can defend him against one of her own, but only if she's not surprised.>>
<<Confirmed. Teleportation signatures!>>
Ruby dodged as the first dragon teleported in nearly on top of her, the dragon’s massive claws nearly catching her wings. She turned and pointed her sword, channeling a wave of plasma through it that sent the dragon spinning.
A second flicker was the only warning she had as another dragon teleported in behind her. She didn't have time to turn as the glowing blade caught her across the waist. Her armor glowed red as she was tossed out of control towards Jamsona's moon, somehow managing to absorb the strange energy the blade had possessed, but unable to resist the kinetic impact that had stunned Ruby. She crashed into the surface in a ball of fire, the impact blasting a new crater.
Momentarily staggered, Ruby found herself beset by the Draconians once more, two of them charging with the detached blades of their large guns. Ruby barely managed to block the hypersonic vibroblades, but the energy backlash from her sword sent them flying across the low gravity moon.
Then the dragon with the glowing sword set down in front of her, and Ruby got a good look at the solo operative. The female was large even for her species, standing nearly sixty feet tall, and unlike the other dragons she had fought, this one wore little more than the Draconians. Her nearly naked body was tattooed, the glowing purple patterns almost hypnotic against her jet-black skin, and the sword she carried burned with a violet fire. The long crest of hair was braided into two long tassels that hung beside her breasts, and her eyes focused on Ruby with a gleam of anticipation.
<<You are a stronger opponent than I was lead to believe, little mage.>> The mental voice of the dragon sounded amused. <<Good.>>
<<You pack a hell of a punch yourself, bitch. I don't like people who attack from behind.>>
<<I was simply testing your reflexes. I did not wish the kill to be too easy. No sport.>>
Ruby's eyes narrowed, realizing the dragon seemed to be uncontrolled. She couldn't sense a link between her and a Draconian at all.
<<No, I am not a slave, Little Mage. I am Crios, commander of this wing. You have done well against my troops, but I will slay you regardless.>>
Ruby spat, the liquid freezing almost instantly in the airless void once it had left the thin shell of her atmospheric shield. <<I have survived far more formidable foes than you.>>
<<With your full powers, possibly. But you are weak, little mage. I can feel your pain from here.>> Crios raised her sword. <<Let's see how much I can add to it!>>
Ruby's blade flared with a swirl of plasma as she lifted it to parry the gigantic sword of the dragon, and the ground shuddered as she dispersed the impact over the crater. She smiled at the dragon as she lifted slabs of rock on either side and brought them crashing together into her foe.
The rock shattered as it impacted the dragon's shields, though it did stagger her, buying Ruby enough time to leap back, increasing her size to match the dragon's. It was a strain, and she wasn't sure how long she could hold it, but it allowed her to catch the dragon's next thrust and parry it before reposting with a cut of her own.
Able to focus just on the cut and thrust, she studied her opponent, a difficult proposition through the dragon's shields — not to mention the growing headache — but she had to figure out what she was up against.
Finally managing to pierce the shields, she nearly missed a thrust in surprise. The dragon had been rebuilt as extensively as the Draconian riders were, something that she had not seen before. The dragons paired to the previous Draconians had been implanted with some enhancements, but mainly to keep them under control of their riders. This one was solo, and her systems were linked to the other four currently hovering at the fringes of the fight. She grinned. If she could destroy this one's link, she could cripple their coordination.
She continued the sword fight for a few more moments, buying time to pinpoint the cybernetics in question. Then she deliberately misstepped, stumbling to her knee as the dragon howled in triumph, bringing her sword down in an attempt to slice Ruby in half. But Ruby caught her wrists with her wings and slammed her hand forward, energy crackling around it as she tore through the dragon's shields with brute power, and into the dragon's stomach, straight through to the spine. She grabbed the much smaller main control unit, and ripped it back out, hoping Akara was using a standardized layout.
Crios screamed, her head tilting back as she loosed a jet of plasma. She collapsed, coughing as blood poured from the wound, her systems already resealing the breach even as she passed out.
The effects on the Draconians were not what she expected. Even as she was shifting back to her normal size, her head threatening to explode from the pain, they went berserk. She forced herself into space just as the ground under her turned to molten rock from the combined grazer fire.
Then she found herself surrounded as they all teleported in right on top of her. Giant claws closed around her as one tried to crush her, another howled in frustration as her claws failed to pierce the armor's shield. As Ruby tried to free herself, her rage growing as she felt the dragon strain to hold her psionicly-enhanced strength, she felt her control slipping away, the pain growing in proportion to the power she tried to pour into her strength.
Then she noticed the two Draconians aiming their antiparticle cannons. Screaming in pain, she poured everything into her shields as the violet beams slammed into her. Her world flared purple as the pain howled through her head, then the world started going black, and she fell into the darkness….
From the Nova's bridge, where she'd teleported after Ruby had gotten her out of the way, Angel screamed Ruby's name as the antimatter beams slammed into Ruby's shields and shattered into a million fragments again. The screens darkened to filter out the flare as the antiparticles ripped into the dragons holding Ruby and another nuclear fireball hid her from sight.
The silver-haired woman beside her put her hand on Angel's arm. "She's fine, Angel. We're still reading her signal clearly. Vital signs are okay; looks like she's just passed out. Have one signal other than her, the unconscious dragon on the moon. I've got a crew out to restrain her, and cleaning up the pair on the planet. Unfortunately, it looks like they didn't survive the EMP blast. As for the rest, it seems that suicide attack claimed all of them."
Angel looked up to the naval commander, and nodded. "Okay. I know she's far tougher to kill than my fears suggest. It's just… something's not right. She was ready for them. That fight shouldn't have been that difficult."
"She'll be onboard in about ten minutes, Angel. You can check her out then."
The busty blonde nodded. "How's Jason?"
"Lombardi's ship is operational, though it did suffer some EMP damage. The planet's field had some rather strange effects in conjunction to the pulse, amplifying it beyond normal levels close in, but dampening it the farther out it was. The city of Sharon's Bay took almost no EMP or radiation effects, and ships on the far side of the field from the explosion took only minor damage, while those nearer that were active are now dead. Lombardi's companion is reportedly unconscious as well, but appears to be undamaged."
Angel nodded. Her eyes focused on the fading glare of the blast, still sensing Ruby, but worried nonetheless. She had felt something strange on the telepathic bands, almost like an echo. It hadn't been there this morning, so something had changed, and she meant to find what.
Ruby was brought to her in sickbay as soon as Kyren's rescue and recovery team had her back aboard the Nova, and Angel sighed at the sight of the armor, though she'd expected the changed form. There were many mysteries about her lover she'd not yet found the answers to, and that armor was one of them. It was nearly impervious to anything, the force field it projected absorbing any energy — including a large part of kinetic — or reflecting it. It also had a disconcerting tendency to show up whenever Ruby was consumed with near murderous rage. Not that surprising given the circumstances, but Angel hated the aura of pain and anger that seemed to cling to it, and that she could not entirely block out. It was somehow linked to Ruby's past, but Angel shuddered to think of the environment that could have imprinted that strong an aura to the strange metal.
It was strange that it hadn't faded with Ruby's lapse into unconsciousness, but Angel was more concerned with her lover. A quick scan showed Ruby had already healed from the battle, not even scars remaining to mark her wounds, and her shields were as strong as ever. Angel marveled at how Ruby had somehow learned to shield herself even in a state of unconsciousness, and was glad she had her own means to bypass them.
"What the hell?"
She turned to look as Jason came into the sickbay, escorted by an ensign and Arika. He was looking at Ruby with wide eyes.
Angel turned back to her patient. "Her natural form, Jason. Whenever she's unconscious, her shapeshift lapses. She has no idea how she came to be like this, but she remembers what the species was once named."
"My database finds no matches to any known species in the local group," Arika said, her eyes glowing green briefly as she scanned.
"No. I spent a month scouring the nets when I was first hired to heal her. And several more when she gave me their name. All I found were legends."
Jason gave her a raised eyebrow. "You're dancing around the name, Miss Sarel."
"Ruby claims she was born human, but at sometime over her long life, someone restructured her far past the genetic level to the point that no resculpt or shapeshift can revert her to anything else. Someone rebuilt her into this… demon."
"Demon?" Jason said, then shook his head. "Demons are a myth, not even an all that common one. Primitive peoples use them to frighten children."
Jason looked over at Arika. "Huh?"
Arika nodded. "Species records not in visual database. Tactical database contains references, as does historical databases recently obtained. Demons are a species believed extinct. Historical data from Terran archives contains theory that the universal nature and consistent descriptions of the demon mythos indicates a high probability of a 'demon' species that was rendered extinct before current historical era. Tactical database contains information on demons that is anomalous." She blinked again as her eyes glowed again. "Curious. Tactical data confirmed by sensor scans." She looked at Jason. "I cannot explain the anomaly. I can only assume that my visual records are incomplete."
Jason blinked. "What are you talking about?"
Arika projected a hologram. "Tactical database: Demon. Bone structure: reinforced diamondoid structure. Carbon lattice similar to dragons and the drago subspecies. Muscle structure also based on carbon structures, specifically a carbon nanotube structure also similar to dragons. Suggested tactics for single target: Identical to dragon including psionic abilities. Additional warnings. Pheromone output, venom injectors in canines, spine on tip of tail with venom injector, and claws, horns, and nails composed of monomolecular diamond lattice." She matched each statement with a highlight on each part.
Angel blinked. "Okay, that matches to a tee."
Jason shrugged. "Guess they didn't wipe everything from your databases then, Arika."
"Actually, I suspect the data was retained specifically for anticipation of my attacking Ruby, master. You did state a component was removed that would have overridden my conscious programming."
Angel looked down at her still unconscious lover. "That would indicate Akara knows about Ruby's true form. And that worries me. How much else does she know we aren't aware she knows?"
Jason nodded, but had no answers.
To be continued.
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