Spotlight on Book Seven, Out Like a Dragon, the last book in the Chimera Chronicles
“Its awake. Get it secured.”
Light stung his eyes. He squeezed them tight against the pain. The surface beneath him was hard. Too hard. Before he could wonder why he wasn’t in his bed, hands gripped his wrists and ankles.
Confusion surrendered to panic and rage. He kicked out. His foot hit a person. A man swore. One pair of hands loosened and he almost ripped away, but more hands appeared. Even with his superhuman strength he couldn’t break free.
They carried him somewhere. He thrashed in the air, chanced a peek at his surroundings, and stared at the sight that greeted him.
What the hell? He seemed to be in a cave.
A caged light in the ceiling had been the source of his pain. The hands controlling his body were several large men of varying ethnicities. Beneath another light, a short, muscular white woman with buzzed steel-gray hair stood in front of a chair.
A padded chair with restraints.
They didn’t look like the restraints he’d seen in movies, either. They were more like metal bracelets, if bracelets were six inches wide and three inches thick with hinges that could have come from an industrial freezer.
Terror seized his muscles. Whoever these people were, they had kidnapped him. He couldn’t let them put him in that chair. He writhed harder, throwing his considerable weight into every twist and jerk, but he might as well have manacles on his limbs.
Where was his dragon?
This level of fear and fury should have his wild side bursting loose, but he was still human. Couldn’t hear more than a whisper from his other sides. He reached deeper, clawing for the shift, dragon or lion, either would do, but it was if they were locked away.
He should have felt relief. He’d been fighting his dragon for more than a year. His mother had warned him and Ky all those years ago, that his dragon or lion could take over. He’d only been five when she and Ky had left him, but he would never forget her face or her words. “Find your mate before you turn thirty or your dragon or lion will take over.” Feral, she’d called it.
He’d be thirty in a few months. It had seemed his dragon didn’t plan to wait that long.
And now it was gone.
While he reeled from the loss of his dragon, his captors manhandled him into the chair. He tried to shove free, but a jolt of electricity sizzled through his joints, searing his muscles. His spine spasmed and the cuffs clicked shut.
The woman grinned, the black tactical clothing she wore making her look like a floating skull in the chiaroscuro from the harsh light above her. “Welcome to Scorpius. You’re code name will be Typhon. I’m Eris. Your handler.”
“My handler?” He tugged against the restraints. None of this made any sense. “Handler? For what? What did you do to me?”
She hooked a folding chair from the corner, set it front of him, and sat down, leaning forward and intertwining her fingers like a guidance counselor about to lay out the consequences for a failing Freshman. “So many questions, but I’ll cut to the chase. You’re feral, Typhon.”
Cal shook his head. That couldn’t be right. “No, I still — “
“Do you still?” She cut him off. “What’s the last thing you remember?”
They’d fucking abducted him. He seethed against the need to engage with her, but he had to have answers.“I was coming out of a bar.” He’d been trying to soothe the ache from being drummed out of the Coast Guard. A shifter had to down a lot of alcohol to be drunk and he had been taking his best shot at it.
“That was months ago.”
“No — “
She took out a physical newspaper and tapped her square-nailed finger on the date under the header, a date three months later than he remembered. “We took you that night, but as soon as you woke here, you shifted into your dragon. We could hardly contain you. You’ve been a dragon ever since.”
That couldn’t be true. She had to be lying, but not a hint of a sour scent colored the air and the ink from the newspaper didn’t smell like printer ink. It smelled real.
Maybe she had some way of blocking her scent? And maybe they had access to a newspaper press. That last one seemed like reaching, but he had no idea what these people were capable of.“That could be fake. I would remember if I’ve been here for months. I’m still me in my dragon.”
She tutted, as if she were sorry to share the news, but her eyes said she was enjoying this. “Not anymore, I’m afraid. You’re feral, Typhon, but we can help you. We have a drug called proteus that can subdue your beasts and keep you human, for a while.” She shrugged a blocky shoulder. “It wears off, but that’s more a feature than a bug — for us anyway.”
“Why do you even need me?”
“We have a few enemies. They’re well-guarded. They’ve proven elusive. In human form you’re faster, stronger, can see in the dark and from long distances. Your dragon is an animal. It can be controlled with pain.”
Well-guarded enemies. The flat intense expression in her eyes made it clear they didn’t plan to capture these enemies.
“You want me to kill people?”
“Only bad people. You were a Marine Law Enforcement Specialist before you were a rescue swimmer.” She spread her fingers out, palms up, as if this was a connection he should have made himself.
Yes, he’d carried a weapon and been prepared to use it, but… “I protected myself and others. I didn’t assassinate people.”
“Assassination is for heads of state. These targets are weapons dealers and traffickers. Believe me, they have plenty of blood on their hands.”
“Am I supposed to believe you’re some kind of vigilantes?”
Eris snorted. “Nothing so noble. They’re competitors.”
“Look, Eris. You can keep me prisoner. But there’s nothing on this Earth you can do to make me pull the trigger. Maybe you can control my dragon, but shifters are supposed to be secret. If a massive dragon kills one of your targets, I think someone will notice.”
“That’s true. We want your other sides to get entry to hard to access places, but we need your human side more.”
Cal turned his head to stare at the rough wall. He didn’t want to die, but he couldn’t do what they demanded.“I won’t do it. You might as well kill me now.”
“Your death would be a waste of our investment, but if its necessary…” She leaned close. “I’ll let you return to dragon form and starve until all you can think about is your next meal. Then, I’ll sedate you
and drop you somewhere populated.” She shrugged. “Times Square maybe or the Las Vegas strip, whatever is busier at the time. The Ethereal Council will send enforcers, but they won’t get there soon enough. You’ll kill hundreds before they can arrive and destroy you.”