And Walker and I were off to the Dragon’s office. We were off to fight a dragon, an honest to god real life dragon who claimed to be THE dragon. As in the one who ruled them all. But he wasn’t, there was no such all-powerful dragon. It was just a myth they liked to perpetrate to scare the masses.
Ye Pan had an office at the Empire State building, but he lived in an apartment a short distance away. Both were not places we wanted to have a knock down drag out fight, but right now we were just scouting out the area. Neither Walker nor I looked the part to just waltz into Mr. Pan’s office and we looked like a high end thug if we waited for him outside his high rise apartment building.
Strike one for poor planning. I stayed outside the Empire State building behind a veil with my phone silenced. I wasn’t daft. No one saw me while Walker went back home to become more presentable.
The street was crowded but everyone avoided me. The world passed me by without noticing I existed. The thought might have bothered me if I wasn’t used to it already. While I waited, I saw Ye Pan leaving the building and walking towards the train station. I called Walker while I followed him down. “He’s on the move. Track me.”
I hung up after I said what I needed. Pan got on the next train and I followed. Still hidden by my veil, I had to be careful. Dragon’s could sense my magic because it was born of the same thing. He got off the train and I let myself get lost in the crowd before I followed him up and about.
Trailing someone was never easy but in the city it was easier on foot. Mr. Pan walked for several blocks before turning down an alleyway. I opened myself to the surrounding magic. I could feel dragons all around. At least my magic would now blend in. But I saw the shadow of The Dragon. It was much larger than any I had seen before. I could almost make out the green and bronze scales of his Chinese dragon form.
The funny thing about the shadows though, they were always smaller than their true forms. Which meant if Ye Pan shifted I would face a rather large reptile that could breathe fire and swallow me whole while barely batting an eye. No pressure!
I didn’t bother checking in with Walker. He’d come eventually. I followed at a safe distance behind my veil but even then I felt exposed, but the man never looked back, not even once.
He went into a creepy looking building. The garage door opened as he approached and I knew this would be rough. I had to run to catch up before the door closed on me. I rolled underneath the closing metal door and skinned elbow against the ground pulling myself inside.
The air was cooler inside and I had to move quickly or get walked on. The place was full of people, mostly dragons. But I felt a few other species running around, wolf and vampire, but sometimes the magic was hard to determine with this many so close together.
I followed Ye Pan through the crowd of people. He found the stair case up and went to the second level of the two story warehouse. Following him would be difficult. At least if I were a human, but I used the same trick I did when I crept downstairs to catch Trix. The air made my way up soundless and far more stable than using the actual stairs.
I followed him on the second floor scaffolding. It was never meant to be permanent but like many things it was convenient enough and was left intact.
Ye Pan went into a locked room by punching a code in the keypad. I watched him hitting the numbers on the pad. Unlike Dorian I didn’t remember everything I saw, but I absorbed patterns and the code for entry was just that a pattern. I smiled to myself as he walked through the closed door. I wouldn’t make it to the door before it closed, but I didn’t have to. I wove a thin strip of air to keep the door from shutting and walked to it without making a sound. It wasn’t nearly as easy as it sounded as the scaffolding creaked and sputtered under any weight.
I widened my veil to hide the door before I opened it. Everyone saw what they expected to see, nothing, but the door closed.
I walked through and dropped the veil outside and retained my personal one. The hallway lead into the depths of the warehouse. There was a slight hum of machinery below my feet that vibrated through the floor. I could feel the hum in my bones. I didn’t know what was going on here, I didn’t care. But I had to find out what Ye Pan was doing and take him down. I’d prefer to take him in but I didn’t think he’d come quietly, the big bads never did.
I followed him through into wide open room where Ye Pan sat on a throne, an honest to fucking god throne. It was gilded in gold and bore red velvet cushions with red rubies I could guarantee weren’t fake. He sat looking at me through the veil. “I can see you, Venatori.”
I let the veil drop. He laughed. “A little more colorful than I expected.” He waved a hand and a small breeze combed through my dyed tips of my hair and brushed against my skin. “But as the rumor tree goes, I’m glad it’s you and not another with your dragon armor bullets. You rely on your our magic too much young one.”
Ye Pan’s accent was thick with his native tongue. It almost felt exaggerated, like he was mocking his own kind. Maybe he was. Many of the older beings lost their accents to blend into whatever society they felt was necessary of the time. I knew Cari and Ant both had whereas Tony and Francesco still held their native accent when speaking English.
“I am what I am. I don’t assume you will come with me without a fight.” I said.
Pan laughed again. “I do believe you are correct, my dear boy.” Ye Pan stood up, and I felt more than saw the dragon claws form on his hand. The pull of the beast beckoning me forth with one crock of his clawed talon. I’d never seen a dragon powerful enough to shift a single body part.
The smile on Pan’s face faded when I didn’t come closer. His eyes shifted to their green reptile color, and he bled more power into the room. It felt like I was drowning in the room. “Come.” He said. I felt the pull and as much as I tried to stay in place I could not. It was like I was on puppet strings. One foot forced itself forward, then the second, each one a fight before I fell to my knees to impede my movement.
Ye Pan laughed. “You are too willful.” The power from The Dragon bled from every pore in his body, green and bronze scales covered his skin as he let loose the power of the dragon and he lowered his hand and my body bowed beneath the implied crushing movement. I was helpless to the power. Dragon blood ran through my veins. It was not an untruth but he shouldn’t have power over me. I knew this, and I fought with this power. I would not be cowed by anyone. Well, that wasn’t the truth. I knew one person I would bend for each time he asked, every time he asked.
I relaxed under the knowledge that this meant nothing. I let The Dragon’s power flow around me – through me and I thought of the strength I had on my own.
The power poured through me as a gun shot rang in the surrounding emptiness. I looked up and saw a single bullet floating in front of Ye Pan. His face turned towards the window. Walker stood with a small team of other Venatori. My father was among them. I could feel their power among the others around me.
Ye Pan laughed, and he turned to me. “Take care of your friends.” With a further crushing weight he pressed his power into me. I stood not of my free will. The Dragon’s power wielded my body like a weapon, a puppet to be aimed at the others.
The others gasped and I saw the look of horror on my father’s face. I cringed inside as I formed a fireball that I had no control over. The patterns bent and shaped while I fought against each thread of fire and air. I closed my eyes and focused on the blue eyes I’d fallen so deeply in love with so quickly.
I opened my eyes and watched as the fireball flew towards my father and my partner. They were jumping to the sides and over the railing to avoid the collision with the flames. It splattered against a wall of air. The Dragon controlled me but I had enough will to do more than his bidding.
I felt my power rip away, and the wall fell seconds after the fireball hit. I smiled at Ye Pan. He bent me in half, crushing me against the ground again. “If you will not obey.”
I couldn’t see anything with my face pressed to the cold concrete, but I didn’t need to see. I let my sense go. I felt everything, saw everything with the patterns of energy. I could feel my father through the floor he stood on. I could see the air that Walker breathed. Dorian’s father was still on the scaffolding a distance from where he’d started, I knew from the connection to the floor that his gun was aimed at me. Dragon piercing bullets would kill me the same as The Dragon.
I felt Ye Pan’s wrath being wielded against my partner and father and the fourth Venatori who’d joined them. A woman I didn’t know. A woman I wouldn’t ever know as the fire that encased her was burning her alive before I could react.
I pressed my fingers into the concrete below and pushed earth and air and fire into the ground in front of me. The floor jutted up, and the room shook under the strain of earth erupting through the beams. Fire sprung from beneath and the air pushed it towards The Dragon.
He turned as the first wave encompassed him. The first wave removed his hold over me. I stood up feeling his power trying to take my head again. I smiled at him. “I’m not a dragon, Ye Pan. I. Am. Venatori.”
He looked at me with wide eyes as his cage of earth formed around him pinning him to the ground. I stood over him while he tried to weave pattern after pattern at me. I silenced them with ease. Seeing the pattern was only the start of it, knowing how to undo it was always the fun part. I smiled at him. Fireball countered by air and water as it formed. Bonds of air sliced by earth as they tried to wrap around my body. I drew Damnation from her home at my waist and I pointed it at Ye Pan. “One last chance, will you come peacefully?”
The Dragon spat at my shoes in front of him. “That’s what I thought.” I removed the safety and squeezed the trigger and put a single dragon piercing round into his forehead.
I pulled the fire alarm with a weave of air as I set Ye Pan’s body on fire with a weave. It would burn until it and everything in the building was cinder. And then and only then would the magic fade and let the flames die. There would be nothing left of this operation. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t care. The Venatori evacuated everyone as I sat on the end of the docking bay while the building burned around them. I controlled the flames until every last soul, supernatural or otherwise, was clear.
Walker came up and put his hand on my shoulder. “Everyone’s out.”
I jumped off the platform with a kick of my legs and landed with a soft jar to my knees before I turned around and let the flames go, setting the magical barrier that would let it all burn to the ground damaging no other property.