Weekend Wind Down – Follow That Dragon (1)

In Dragonheart, there is no such word as impossible

“And keep your eyes open for a dragon on a Harley Davidson.”
Constable Willet stopped in his tracks.
“A what?”
The desk sergeant looked up from his computer.
“You heard me.”

Outside the station, the young policeman looked down at his partner. Badger cocked an ear.
“What’s your problem?”
“Dragons can’t ride motorcycles.”
The canine cop stopped in his tracks.
“You may have a point.”
Willet grinned.
“See, I’m not completely stupid.”

He wasn’t to know what Badger thought of that because the distinctive note of a Harley Davidson engine split the air. The motorcycle careered around the corner, rearing up onto one wheel and mounting the pavement before hurtling down the road bouncing off street furniture as it went.

Badger sat back on his haunches.
“That proves your point. Dragons really can’t ride motorbikes.”

Willet grasped Badger’s harness in one hand as he unfurled his wings.
“Operation intercept,” he said happily as they took to the air.

It didn’t take long to overhaul the motorcycle, as the riding became more and more eccentric with the Harley yawing from side to side and scraping its footrests at every movement. When they caught up, it had just made a sharp left onto a mercifully deserted football pitch. Willet made a long arm and pulled out the kill switch. The engine died and the bike slewed to a halt before slowly toppling over onto its side. The stubby golden dragon just managed to slip from the saddle in time to avoid being trapped by the fallen machine.

Badger gave the rider a very stern look.
“What’s on here, my laddo,” he said firmly.
“Steady down Badger. It’s only a hatchling. And I don’t think it’s a laddo.”

And then the sky was full of panicky dragons bugling their alarm and distress. A good dozen circled Willet, Badger and the hatchling making agitated noises.

“Thief, thief,” the biggest one cried in a strangely high-pitched voice. “Thieves and kidnappers. Where are the rest of our little ones?”
Willet knew that dragons broadcasting distress could easily spark a riot, so he stepped forward.
“Calm down and stop being silly. Nobody kidnapped anybody, although it does seem that those charged with the care of your hatchlings have failed in their duties.”
The lead dragon turned an unfriendly eye on him.
“How does a human dare to so address a dragon?”

Badger laughed sardonically.
“Hush now,” Willet admonished, “and stand back, I’m going to have to make the change before this lot get right out of hand.”
Badger backed off and Willet flowed into his true form.

The dragons quieted appreciably as a huge winged centaur stood facing them with condemnation writ large on his classically handsome features.
“Are dragons too proud to converse with a centaur?” he asked coolly.
The big blue female dipped her head.
“We are not.”

The dragonet meanwhile was watching the happenings with multi-faceted jewel-bright eyes.
“Mama. Where Mama?” The voice was hesitant but definitely female.
“Mama will be here soon,” Willet assured her. “Now tell me where your friends are.”
The dragonet shook her head.
“Mustn’t tell,” she whispered.
Willet concentrated briefly then smiled.
“N’a’mma tell Willet,” he cajoled.
“What Willet?”
“Willet name.”
The centaur laughed, then turned to the hovering dragons above.
“I have seen this little one’s thoughts. The hatchlings found a portal, and while their nursemaid slept they all sneaked through.”
There was a rustle of agitated leathery wings and voices were raised in condemnation of a nursemaid who slept on duty.

“Quiet,” Willet commanded. “Instead of flapping about like chickens, you should be asking yourselves some searching questions.”
One of the smaller blue dragons seemed a bit quicker on the uptake than her sisters.
“Questions like why was there only one nursemaid. Questions like who opened the portal in the first place. Questions like who knew enough to send us here.”
“Yes. Questions like those. But the first question is where are the other dragonets?”
The blue dragon changed her wing shape and landed neatly beside the bemused N’a’mma.
“Where friends? Must tell…”
The dragonet wrinkled her brow.
“Auntie say must not tell.”
N’a’mma closed her mouth and looked mulish.
“Where’s her Mama?”
“We need her. Can any of you bespeak A’a’shanto?”
The little blue pointed to the big female with the squeaky voice.
“She can. But she probably won’t do it.”
Willet laughed.
“She will.” Then he raised his voice. “Dragon. Will you bespeak my friend A’a’shanto, or would you have me do it?”
The big female looked about as offended as a dragon can.
“I will bespeak our master.” Then she looked at the centaur in some puzzlement. “What must I say?”
“Tell your master that there is an unregistered portal that the hatchlings found and escaped through. That we need this little one’s Mama in order that we can find out what she knows…”
“Oh. Very well.”

Badger flattened his ears and Willet looked at him with some sympathy.
“Bloody loud isn’t she?”
“She is.”

The subliminal buzzing stopped, to be followed by the snap of leathery wings. Two more dragons appeared and landed with minimal fuss. One was the black-skinned master, the other a truly spectacular golden queen. As soon as they set claw to the ground, the atmosphere seemed to thicken, and the mating instinct hit Willet like a mailed fist. He only just managed not to swear. The queen was in season, and they would be lucky if they managed to prevent a city-wide orgy. He ruthlessly squashed the heaviness in the pit of his own stomach and looked briefly at Badger who was already communicating with headquarters.

Willet pulled himself together and faced the dragons, at least one of whom was hugely amused by the situation. Willet bowed respectfully.
“Master dragon.”
A’a’shanto stopped smirking and inclined his head.

Before anyone else could speak or react the dragonet waddled over to the queen as fast as she could go.
“Mama. Mama.”
Her mother looked down a long draconic snout at the rotund form of her hatchling. She smiled a maternal smile.
“N’a’mma. What have you been up to now?”
The dragonet shuffled her feet.
“Noffink Mama.”
“Tell Mama, and stop fibbing.”
“We finds portal. Auntie shows us. And we comes through.”
“Where are your friends?”
“Me don’t know. Me plays with hrrrdudu…”
“And where did you get the hrrdudu?”
“Man talking to Auntie has. N’a’mma borrows.”

Willet looked at Badger.
“Can you backtrack it?”
“Can try.”

Willet called up two beat rats to guard the motorcycle, before Badger sniffed the tyres of the Harley, then the now giggling dragonet. He scented the air for a moment, then he put his nose to the ground and headed off in the direction from which the motorbike had come.

“Got you, you bastards,” Willet murmured and followed the upraised tail.

A procession of dragons followed Willet and Badger as they zigzagged across the city. People looked skywards, following the iridescent bodies with their eyes, even as they felt the draconic sexual pull in other parts of themselves.

Eventually, Badger stopped at the entrance to an insalubrious alleyway.
“Down there.”
He pointed with his nose.
“What’s down there?”
“Sorry. Baby dragons. Lots of. I think they are being held against their will.”
“Why’d you think that?”
“Because they smell afraid.”
“Fair enough. Now we have to figure a way of getting them out unhurt.”
Badger squinted at the circling dragons.
“We have. I really don’t fancy explaining injured dragonets to that lot.”

The master dragon spoke in Willet’s head.
“You need a decoy. My sister is willing for N’a’mma to be that decoy if you will answer for her safety.”
Badger obviously heard too, because he bumped his head urgently against Willet’s hocks.
“Don’t do it matey. They are asking you to put your life on the line.”
“I know they are. But what alternative do we have?”
Badger looked as if he was eating something that tasted bad.
“None. I suppose. But I don’t like it.”

Willet bowed. “You have my word. My life for the safety of the little queen.”

Badger sighed. Then brightened slightly.
“I think I may have a plan.”
“Tell me.”
“First thing is the Harley man. I can smell him down there, and his gun. I’m thinking if somebody brought his motorcycle to where he could hear it…”
“Yes. Good. And?”
“If a couple, with a dog, was to find a lost dragonet and be walking around this area with it in tow. Auntie more or less has to come get it. I dunno why that particular hatchling is so important but my nose tells me that she is.”
“She’s important for two reasons. One: her mother is the hatch sister of the master dragon. Two: she’s a golden queen.”
“Which means?”
“Means she is a fertile female. They are rare. Aside from the master dragon’s mate, who is a shifter so not the same thing at all, there are only two adult queens that we know of.”
“Oh. So. Whoever went to all the trouble and expense of getting an unlicensed portal probably wants to breed dragons.”
“That would seem to be about the size of it,” Willet said wryly. “Now I need my wife.”

He sent his thoughts spiralling outward, to find Wenda none too pleased to be interrupted by the husband she barely tolerated. But once she understood the situation she was much more amenable.
“Be there in five.”
Willet looked down at his partner with an unspoken plea in his eyes. Badger flattened his ears, but managed the canine equivalent of a shrug.
“I’ll behave. Not my business.”
“Thanks. I’ll have the Harley fetched.”

By the time the female centaur arrived the plan was ready to put into action. A’a’shanto himself had taken human form and was standing beside the bike; the alley was ringed with angry fighting dragons; N’a’mma had been persuaded to cooperate; and Willet was in human form dressed in jeans and sneakers.

Wenda caught on quickly and shifted, becoming a slight brown-haired woman in a floaty summer dress. She rubbed N’a’mma’s head knobs reassuringly.
“You will be all right with us little one.”
“Me know. Wil-let gives blood oaf.”
For a moment the centaur swayed on her feet, then she got herself together and managed a strained smile.

A’a’shanto grinned dragonishly and fired up the Harley. He rode to the open end of the alley and sat astride the machine revving it idly.
“I bloody hope this works,” Badger muttered. “Come on you evil carrion, come and get your hrrdudu.”

They didn’t have long to wait. A bulky shaven-headed gent all but flew out of a green-painted door about halfway down the cul de sac and ran towards the motorcycle. A’a’shanto dropped it into gear and moved away slowly, followed by the frantically cursing man. Once the motorcycle had rounded the corner into the square the rider stopped the engine and manhandled the Fat Boy onto its stand.

The man rushed up to him.
“Oy. That’s my bike.”
“Is it now? So what was it doing on its side in the road halfway across town?”
The heavy grunted, then decided he had talked enough and groped for the gun at his hip. That wasn’t the smartest move anyone has ever made as the master dragon shifted himself two sets of razor-sharp talons with which he gripped the man’s wrists. A’a’shanto forced his adversary to his knees and then smiled down on him.
“Talk to me human,” he growled.
The thug whimpered.
“You can have the Harley.”
A’a’shanto’s laugh sounded like the tolling of a cracked bell.
“I can have whatever pleases me,” he whispered, “right now what I will have of you is information. Who is behind that door?”
“What door?”
Badger ghosted up behind the kneeling man and snapped his long white teeth together just beside the thug’s ear. The man jumped and squeaked, then visibly gave up.
“There are loads of baby dragons who are hungry, thirsty and a bit afraid. And there’s two adult dragons, a fat old female and a proddy young red. He’s dangerous on the surface. She’s dangerous underneath. They are angry because they have lost the baby dragon they want. It ran away with my bike. They’ve about worked their way around to blaming me. But the gun keeps them quiet.”
“And who is behind them?”
“I dunno. All I know is that they pay in gold.”
A’a’shanto looked at Badger who lifted his lip. The dragon smiled and let go of his captive’s left wrist. The man looked down at his lacerated arm so he didn’t see the draconic fist that caved in his skull.

Willet winced and offered his wife his arm.
“Come N’a’mma let’s go rescue your hatch mates.”
The dragonet leaned confidingly against his shoulder, all but pushing him over as the quartet casually wandered down the alley and past the green door. They hadn’t gotten far when a female voice accosted them.
“There she is,” it said with saccharine sweetness, “there is my little girl.”
Two humans and a German Shepherd turned to look at a fat elderly dragon with calculating red eyes, while N’a’mma carried on walking. The dragon glared at her fat rump.
“Where are you going you naughty girl? Grandmama has been worried.”
The dragonet kept going.

Willet kept his voice neutral.
“That’s funny,” he remarked “that hatchling was crying for her Mama when we found her. You’d have thought she would be thrilled to see her grandmother.”
“You would indeed,” Wenda picked up the conversational ball. “Why doesn’t she want to speak to you?”
The old dragon made a feeble attempt at a smile.
“She’s been a very naughty girl. Probably afraid I will punish her. I’ll just go and get her.”
“Oh. I think not.” Willet allowed his anger to show and, as the dragon reared up to confront him, he plunged a syringe into the place under her arm where the skin was thin enough to make an injection a possibility. The drug was quick acting and the dragon slumped on her side snoring stertorously.

A small blue dragon landed on the side of the unconscious figure that would be invisible from the green door.
“Help, help!” the blue called in a pretty good approximation of the old female’s voice. “The gold is getting away.”

The door flew open and a red dragon erupted out onto the cobbles. His whirling eyes darted between the slumped body of his confederate and the waddling figure of N’a’mma. He was a quick enough thinker to recognise that the dragonet was heading for a dead end so he turned his attention to the old one.
“What happened, human?” he snapped.
“How should I know?” Willet was deliberately insolent. “We was just on our way home.”
At first the dragon didn’t know how to react, but then he glared at Wenda.
“Perhaps I’ll just have a bite of your mate to teach you manners,” he snarled.
“Piss off lizard. You just sort your mother out and leave those of us who live hereabouts to get on with our business without your interference.”
The red dragon rumbled dangerously and Willet laughed.
“Come on pinky. Let’s see what you got.”
The dragon lifted himself onto his hind legs and Wenda put a dart in the soft flesh around his penis. He dropped across his partner in an obscene parody of the sexual act.

Willet mopped his brow. To his intense surprise Wenda came and burrowed her way into his arms.
“Blood oaths,”’she muttered, “deliberately angering dragons. You nearly stopped my heart.”
He looked down at her bent head and felt something soften inside him. He hugged her and she looked up with a wry smile.
“We have to talk.”
“We do, but right now. Dragons.”

Willet whistled shrilly and dragons appeared from every direction. Some rushed to the aid of the bleating hatchlings, others gathered around the unconscious conspirators. N’a’mma waddled back to where the two centaurs stood handfast. She looked at them with whirling dragon eyes then chuckled.
“Thank you Wil-let and…”
The dragonet shook her head then dutifully repeated Wenda’s name.

“I think we maybe should get out of this alleyway. There’s too much dragon flesh here.” Wenda shivered then licked suddenly dry lips, and Willet led her out into the square. The populace was being held back by a cordon of watchmen.
“You gonna be much longer?” The sergeant spoke over his shoulder. “This many dragons about is already causing trouble. And there must be a queen in season among them. We’ve had to arrest several for public decency offences already.”
“I’ll go ask.”

Wenda sat down on a convenient low wall with Badger at her side.
“Go on, say it,” her voice was weary.
Badger wagged his tail and cocked his handsome head to one side.
“Can’t. Willet made me promise to play nicely.”
“Good. But. Why aren’t you all hot and bothered?”
“The dragon/sex thing don’t work on dogs. Just as well. Our females don’t tolerate us sniffing around if they aren’t in the mood.”
The centaur shivered.
“Is it the dragons making me feel so impressed by Willet?”
“I wouldn’t know.” Then he relented. “Probably not. I think that’s down to you seeing him working, instead of being humble and trying to keep out of your hair.”
“And why does he do that?”
“Because he knows you didn’t want to marry him.”
“I didn’t. But.”
“What did you expect him to do? He’s a centaur not a dragon.”
She thought that one through then nodded briefly.
Badger gave her a shrewd look.
“How would you feel about a piece of advice?”
“I’ll listen.”
“Don’t let the dragons know about the problems you two have. Your average dragon is likely to take it as a challenge. And I don’t think you want that…”

Willet strode out of the alleyway followed by the master dragon, still in his human form. Wenda drew a tremulous breath.
“Thanks Badger,” she whispered.

A’a’shanto smiled a dragonish smile and Wenda fought down a taut feeling in the pit of her stomach. Willet gave her a sympathetic look. While the master dragon went and spoke to the sergeant of the watch the centaur came and sat beside his wife. She grasped his hands strongly and he smiled a sad sort of smile.
“I’m going to have to go to Dragonheart. You don’t have to come if you don’t want to.”
“I don’t want to. But I’m coming anyway. Somebody needs to watch your back.”
He looked down at their joined hands.
“I have to ask. Is this just….”
“Dragon sex? No. Though I must admit to an unfamiliar itch.”
Willet looked into her face, and whatever he saw there seemed to give him ease because he smiled much more naturally and gave her hands a little squeeze.
“We have to talk.”
“We do but not in front of the dragons. I don’t like the way that big black one looks at me already…”
“Me neither. But as long as he thinks you are mine he will at least keep his hands off.”
“I am yours,” Wenda said firmly, “we just need to talk about terms and conditions.”

A’a’shanto strolled back towards them, moving with purposeful grace.
“We will leave now.” He looked searchingly at Willet. “You must come as a witness, but even I cannot stand surety for the safety of your partner at Dragonheart.”
Badger bared his teeth and the dragon laughed at his discomfiture.
Wenda spoke up.
“It ill behoves the master dragon to bait one whose assistance was freely given.”
A’a’shanto had the grace to blush, but Wenda wasn’t letting him off the hook.
“I will accompany my husband to Dragonheart. I mislike the gratitude of dragons.”
The master dragon and the young female centaur looked each other in the eyes for a long moment and it was the dragon who dropped his eyes first. He lifted his hands in a gesture of defeat.
Wenda nodded just once.

A flight of dragons appeared in the sky overhead, many of whom carried chattering hatchlings on their backs. N’a’mma rode in stately solitude between her mother’s glistening wings and she raised a pudgy paw before the whole flight winked out through the portal they had brought with them leaving an empty blue sky.

The sergeant of the watch heaved a sigh of relief.
“You going to Dragonheart Willet?”
“I am. With my wife for company. Can you leave a handful here to guard an unregistered portal down that alley. Badger will show them where.”
“I will. Badger can take command.”
With that he turned back to crowd control, which was becoming easier by the minute as the dragon-induced pheromones dissipated leaving people unsure of why they were standing in an insalubrious part of the city looking at the mouth of a scabby alley. The few enterprising whores who had been taking advantage of the upsurge in interest in their wares were the first to slink off, being unwilling to catch the eye if the watch. The rest of the crowd soon followed with not a few left wondering just exactly why they were in a truly immodest state of undress and scrambling to cover themselves as best they could.

A’a’shanto laughed sardonically.
“Humans,” he snorted, before changing into his draconic self.
Willet and Wenda flowed seamlessly into their true forms and Badger looked up at them.
“Take care, you pair.”
Then he was gone, trotting down the alley to where his detachment of bored watchmen awaited him.

To be continued…

'Follow That Dragon' is one of the stories in The Dragonheart Stories: Fairytales for Grownups by Jane Jago



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