Fun Fictional Distractions
Argus wasn't replying to Kailian’s messages for some reason, but she had figured it out anyway. Despite all the advances in vehicle security measures, there were always workarounds, and that's how she had gotten the bike working. Now she was riding it down an old road in the Arizona desert sun. Kailian had often cursed that almost no cars were built to fit a creature of her size. There were several she would have loved to drive. Oversized motorcycles were a little easier to find. She had lucked out on this one. It even had oversized custom controls. Had she wanted to, she could have told the computer to take over, and the bike's stabilizers would keep it upright. It had a self-driving feature to match. Kai wasn't interested. Riding like this, leaned over the bike with the wind roaring through her mane was a way she could get close to the feeling of flying with her own wings again, and being in control of the experience was part of that. It had been so long. Besides, she was almost there.
There was a campsite in the middle of nowhere. Mr Oracle dragon was supposed to be there. The forum denizens had speculated it had something to do with energy vortices or ley lines in this location, not that it mattered to Kailian. A photo had been posted of the camp, and somebody had forgotten to turn off geotagging. The hunt was on.
She had to slow down for a curve or two that took her over a hill. This brought her to the remains of a town that had been abandoned sometime in the mid 2000's. Nothing much had happened there in a while. A lot of towns like this had turned into ghost towns, with some moving to cities for jobs and the rest heading out into the wilderness to go off grid. Kailian passed through this one in less than two kilometers, and rode out past a small river.
Almost there. She looked left and right through the HUD glasses she was wearing. Through the data from the bike, she caught a glimpse of a path leading off to an unusually green area. That was it. She turned off here and rode into the field. A voice came into get earbud saying,
"You have arrived at your destination."
Kailian looked around. There were plenty of places where the grass has been disturbed. She saw several black and gray piles of ashes. The location matched the one in the photo, but no one was here.
"Damnit," Kai growled.
She had come all this way, too. She sighed. She might as well look around. She turned off the bike, and the whine of the reactor died away. She dismounted and walked towards one of the campfire pits. She could smell burnt mesquite wood. She counted at least three tents around this one. A big group had been here. They had cleaned up after themselves pretty well. She turned and walked over to another campfire.
"Hey you!" A gruff voice shouted, "Burning Man is over. This is private property!"
Kailian looked up to see the men, shabbily dressed in t-shirts and faded jeans. One of them, who was shouting, had a cowboy hat. They seemed to be walking in from the entrance to these grounds where she had come in. She grinned deviously. This could be fun. One of them had an old-fashioned shotgun. The ancient kind that used gunpowder. How cute.
"I'm here to get answers and cause pain," she bellowed back,
"And I don't have any answers."
The men looked surprised. One of them even too a step back. This would be easy.
"And did you run the campers away, too?" She said, taking a few steps towards them.
"They cleared it with the boss to be here," the spokesman for the group said. "That rabbit with 'em goes way back with Sarge, and he worked it out."
Sounded like these guys probably weren't alone. Kailian rested her hand on her gun.
"You need to leave."
Mr. cowboy hat sounded a little less sure now.
"This is private property..."
"Do I look like I care?" Kailian growled as she kept stepping closer.
"I said I'm here for answers. I like causing pain if I don’t get them," she said. "Don't get in my way."
The three men stood there for a moment like they were unsure of what to do. Kai was close enough now that they could get a much better idea how big she was. Now that they had to look up to make eye contact, they seemed to be getting nervous.
Kailian roared and leapt forward. The three men jumped, turned and ran in different directions.
Kailian looked around the vacant grounds and laughed darkly.
"Easy fools," she said, and turned to walk towards the campsite again.
The next campfire site was pretty clean, too. There were signs of food trash in the ashes, and maybe even the smell of burned paper somewhere. This one was still smoking a little, too. Somebody had left some napkins lying around. How naughty. That’s when she noticed a shape in the dirty on the other side of the firepit. She reached for it, and turned it over. It was a metal cutout of weird figure leaning over and playing...a musical instrument, maybe? It had things poking out of its head and back. It was ornate to have some cutouts in at portions. The edges were ground smooth. The sunlight showed some dark writing in marker on the other side that said,
“For the seeker”
Kailians’s eyes narrowed. She was going to keep this thing.
That’s when she noticed a sound that was like thunder, but constant. It was getting louder, too. It was a familiar sound, but she hadn’t heard it in many years. Her ears flickered attentively. It sounded like…. Fossil fuel motors? It sounded like more than one, too.
“Not fair,” she muttered looking at the bike she had.
The reactor on her bike only make a whiny whoosh noise. Whatever they had made the old-fashioned vrooming noises she remembered from when she was younger. Kailian ran over to her bike, opened a saddle compartment, and dropped the metal figure in. She opened the one on the other side, pulled a handful of grenades out, and filled her coat pockets with them. She jumped onto the bike, powered it up, and turned it towards the entrance to the field.
https://youtu.be/tcI-IX-OcVA <- musical accompaniment
She got to the road and looked to her right. There they were, coming at her. There were at least ten motorcycles, all ancient gasoline types. Where did these guys get fossil fuels these days? All questions Kailian could think about after she had messed these idiots up.
“You gonna play chase?” she said in a high pitched, talking-to-the-dog voice, even though she knew they couldn’t hear. “C’mon… c’mon.”
She grinned as she turned the bike and sped left towards the old town.
“Autopilot, on,” she said loudly into her headset.
“Autopilot engaging,” said an automated female voice in her ear. “Please state your destination.”
Why did these things have to be so annoying?
“Pheonix, Arizona,” Kailian shouted. It was in the right direction to take her through this town, and she could change it later.
“Autopilot engaged,” the voice said. “You may let go of the handlebars.”
Kailian grinned over her shoulder. They were two to a bike. The ones in the back had more primitive shotguns. They were taking potshots at her. Kailian pulled a grenade out of her jacket. She grinned back at the motorcycle posse.
"Wanna play?" She crooned. "Wanna fetch?"
She pulled the pin and tossed the grenade behind her. She heard the clink on the pavement, and three seconds later,
She turned her head to look. That took out several bikes. There were several still in pursuit. Kailian swung her right leg over the bike and drew both her guns, firing wildly behind her, her face covered in spooky calm.
"Wait," she said, glancing alarmed at the controls. "Why are we slowing down!"
"30 mile per hour speed limit within city limits," the dry computer voice replied.
Kailian snarled and shouted "Fuuuuuu….!"
She looked up to see the remaining motorcycles bearing down on her. She sent a stream of energy bolts flying at them with her left hand and pulled out another grenade with her right.
Kai spun around on the bike. One of the motorcycles was almost on her. She lit it up with energy blasts, causing a fireball to erupt from where the bike had been.
A shotgun went off close by. Pellets glanced off of the left side body of Kai's bike. Kai twisted her torso to look. Her eye locked onto the front wheel of an old Harley less than twenty feet away. She reflexively fired, and the front wheel caught on fire, sending the bike tumbling end over end with a scream. The last bike was behind it. It swerved, and the panicked look on the driver's face was deliciously priceless. It crashed through a garage door in a building. There was a crash, and a fireball blew out all the windows there.
Kailian raised her arm to shield her face. She didn't know what that was, but she laughed loudly. It was perfect.
"She got the still!" Somebody shouted in the distance. "This means war! War!"
"I'm sorry," Kailian said sweetly to herself, "I just don't care."
She pressed a switch to turn off autopilot.
"Good luck finding me, you backward weaklings."
She had the controls. She gunned it. The bike came to life, and with a screech, she was off like a shot, daydreaming of flying again.
It was about 2pm, really early for anyone who bartends, and really quiet, too. That's what Charlene loved about this time of day. Everything was clean from the night before, and no one was here yet. It would be another hour or so before the regulars would start wandering in, or so she thought.
The doors were still locked, and her ears perked when she heard a knock. Who would be looking for cheap beer this early? Through the glass, she saw a human man standing between two wolves, all three of them in black suits.
"What the hell?" She muttered.
She had a bad feeling about this, but this guy was looking her in the eyes with stolid don't-try-me face. She used the key to unlock the door.
"Agent Sanders, Department of Homeland Security," the man said, slowly barging his way into the partial opened door.
"What's your name, please?" He said, turning to look at the bobcat lady, who was scowling at him nervously.
"Charlene," she said softly. "What do you want?"
"We're looking for a reptile, Argus Dale. Do you know him?"
"I don't know everybody who comes in here," Charlene said stiffly.
The man shot a sideways glance at one of the wolves, who nodded back.
"Well if you do run across Argus," Sanders said, "We need to ask him some questions."
Charlene startled a little as Sanders reached into his inner jacket pocket. To her relief, he pulled out a business card.
"Call this number if you have any information, please."
Charlene nodded as she took the card, looking down at it. She looked up at Sanders.
"Why? What's going on?"
"It's part of an ongoing investigation," Sanders said, standing a little taller and stiffer.
Charlene nodded. She hoped he couldn't see that she was shaking a little.
"Okay," she said, "I gotta get ready to open."
She was being very careful to keep eye-contact.
Sanders nodded to the wolves, who turned and walked away from the door. He followed them, and Charlene for her best to close the door slowly behind them before locking it.
She took a long, deep breath and leaned against the door a moment. The three agents got into a black ground vehicle in the parking lot. Charlene watched, hoping they would leave, but they didn't. Unconsciously, Charlene put a hand to her chest. She turned and went back behind the bar, to the register where her phone was stashed. She opened a messaging app, activated voice capture and said,
"There's feds here looking for you. I don't know what you're up to, you sonova bitch."
She hung her head and sighed.
"Be careful out there, okay?"
She hit send.
She stalked to a window, ears down, and peaked over the ledge. Still there. She sighed loudly.
"Why, Argus," she said sadly, angrily, "why....."
The VTOL plane that Kailian had borrowed for this mission had an autopilot, but she hated those. With both hands on the stick, she guided the craft over the Peruvian rainforest, checking for places she could drop in. For anyone else there would be paperwork to be submitted and visas to be obtained before taking a trip like this. Kailian had traveled under the radar for years, and some habits were hard to break.
There was the village she was looking for. She guided the craft in a circle, slowing it down. There was a soccer field just outside of town. Of course. There always was. That would do. She brought the craft down to land with a bump.
"Eh," she muttered. "It's a rental."
She noted the time on the instrument panel.
She knew her unauthorized craft in Peruvian airspace had not gone unnoticed. She also knew that countries like these had been hit the hardest by the off-grid movement, and that it would take time for them to deploy some under-maintained piece of junk to fly out and confront her. They probably still used living pilots, even. She had an hour, at tops, maybe two.
Kailian slid open the cockpit with a hiss, and warm, humid air washed over her, covering everything in condensation. Kai wrinkled her snout and muttered an "Ugh..."
She got out and landed on her feet, staring down several kids who were looking on, wide-eyed, from the edge of the field.
"Don't touch," she said in a low, threatening tone, and pulled the cockpit hatch closed. Most of them had sticks, and were holding them like staffs. Even the younger ones. Weird.
She walked towards the town along a dirt path.
"What a shit-hole," she muttered.
In a world with so many amazing advancements, why did people still live like this?
The buildings were dirty stucco and plywood. Rusty tin roofs were the majority here, and Kai could smell a lack of running water from here. Eww.
This had better get her some good Intel, or she would be really pissed about going to all this trouble. The forums she was reading said a ceremony should be happening here at some archeological site. There were concerns that the authorities would try to shut the thing down. Mystical voodoo crap aside, that sounded like something a younger Kailian would have done.
Kai walked the one street of the town from one end to the other. There was no sign of a yellow dragon or a Valkyrie anywhere.
"Damnit," she muttered as she walked back through town towards the soccer field where she had landed.
There was an old man sitting in front of a house across the street. He was staring at her. He was both smiling, and looked nervous. Kailian grinned a little at that. Maybe he would be useful. She walked closer.
"You speak English?" She growled, knuckles on her hips, staring him down.
"Um Poco," he said, holding up a shaky hand with two fingers close together.
"Right," Kailian said with a sigh. "Where is he?" She said, holding out a printed image of the yellow dragon.
"Gone," the old man said.
"What?" Kai said. "Isn't there a ceremony today, or something?"
The old man kept eye contact as he shook his head. "Yesterday"
"Damnit," Kai growled, stomping and looking around. "How does a guy with a following like that get out of town so fast?"
"He just," the old man said, gesturing upwards with his hands, "Fwoooosh!"
Kai crossed her arms and scowled.
"How many were with him?" She asked.
"Uuh," the old man said, "maybe..."
He held up one finger, then five. Kai was confused, but then she said, "fifteen? Fifteen others?"
The old man nodded.
"Did he have a plane or something?" Kai asked, squinting.
"No," the old man said, also shaking his head.
Kailian remembered the video, how this Oracle dragon had taken the purple Valkyrie's hand and vanished.
"Was there a purple striped dragon with him?" Kailian asked. "With ears like this?"
She used a palm to frame her own ear, flickering it out a little.
The old man squinted, staring for a moment before giving a slow nod.
"Maybe" he said.
Excellent. She was on the right track. Kai smiled a little.
"Where did they go?" She asked.
"To see the desert bloom he said." The old man shrugged. Kailian too a deep breath and let out a growly sigh.
"That's vague as heck" she muttered.
"What kind of ceremony was this, anyway?" She asked.
"Open uh...." The man made a face and waved a hand in the air a few times "biblioteca?"
He gestured towards a brick building that looked newer than the rest. Kailian saw a large antenna on the top, and a satellite dish.
"You guys have electricity here?" She said disdainfully.
"Sometime," the old man nodded. "It give free internet."
He smiled nervously.
Kai looked at the building.
Why would an off-grid advocate be opening up the internet to a place like this?
Kailian rubbed her chin.
"Niños all carry the stick like him," the old man said. "Call him.. Uh… guerrero llantro."
He gestured with his hand as if he was holding a staff.
"Oh I see now." Kailian said, remembering the kids at the soccer field where she had landed.
Kailian turned and walked towards the new library. She stopped briefly and looked over her shoulder.
"Thank you," she said quietly to the old man.
He nodded and waved.
The inside of the library looked pretty clean compared to the rest of this town. There were five workstations at the center on tables. Most free internet packages for the developing world were installed by social companies, and usually were designed to steer uses towards more use of their platform, or to influence local politics.
Kai looked down at a kid who was playing some online game she didn't recognize.
"My turn," she said with a glare.
The kid got up and ran out of the library.
Kai sat down at the workstation. She opened the browser. She searched for some of the usual things platforms blocked at supposedly free internet stations like this.
"Well, all those went through," she said after a few minutes.
It didn't make sense. What was this guy playing at?
That's when a device beeped on Kai's belt.
"Damnit," she whispered.
It was an airspace proximity alert from the plane. Her time was up. She jumped out of the seat, booked it through the door and into the street. She didn't have much time before this place would be swarming with whatever local enforcement agency enforced visas and flight planning.
She made it to the cockpit and jumped in. No pre-flight checklist this time. The enforcement craft were within sight as she got enough altitude to give the throttle a push, and get out of there. She laughed a lot as she did.
Musical Inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y633472KofU
There was fire all around Kailian. She bellowed in pain, holding her side, lying on the ground. She had been betrayed again, and she was shaking with rage, left for dead.
The other hunters she had been working with were walking away. She could see them.
Why was this happening again?
The ground near her was cracking. Steam was billowing out, covering her red scales in moisture, heating her up.
Everyone had let her down. She had given them an ounce of trust, and they dropped her the first chance they got. The rage filled her. She felt a fire stronger than any that burned around her rising inside. Slowly, she pushed herself up with a grunt.
"Fuck those backstabbing bastards," she said, getting a foot underneath her as the fires closed in on her. She stumbled to her feet, swishing her tail as flames licked it.
The fire inside was like a furnace, blazing brighter than any flame without. Kailian smiled wickedly and walked forward.
She went slowly at first, picking up her pace until she was running.
I'll teach you fools the meaning of pain! She thought as she leapt from one burning boulder to the next.
"There you are," she said to herself, panting.
They were walking, weapons put away. She even heard laughter.
"You won't laugh for long," she growled, voice trembling.
Kai leapt down with a roar. By the time they were looking up, Kai had already run her claws through the back of one, and bashed another on the head with her tail.
Even as weapons were drawn, Kai grinned and rushed ahead, going for the throat of their leader with both clawed hands.
That's when she woke up. It was still dark. Her back ached. The metal implants back there didn't play well with the blanket she used, either. She groaned and rolled over. Maybe she could sleep more.
As she tried to drift off, the image of that Valkyrie she had seen came to her mind. He looked so lost, out of place. Why did he have to run from her on sight?
Kai rolled over and picked up a tablet from the floor beside the mattress she was lying on. It said she had a message from Argus.
Argus: "Nothing from my searching. Your sister is the only one recorded"
"That asshole," Kai muttered.
Kailian: "You're not helping me, here"
Argus: "Well look who's awake before 10 lol"
Argus: "look wut I did find (link1)(link2)(link3)"
Argus: "u don't look half bad on candid camera"
Kai snarled at the screen.
Kailian: "What are you doing up, anyway?"
Argus: "I'm already at work. First shift"
Kai clicked. The first link took her to a video. There she was on screen, leaping over the car, and there was the Valkyrie, dashing towards the gate in the distance.
Kailian: "You hacked the security cameras? Did you learn nothing from last time???"
Argus: "it's all good. And ur welcome :P"
Kai clicked the second link. There was the fountain in the park. Who was that dragon standing in front of it, a hand outstretched? He was wearing gray robes that looked like something from a samurai film.
"Yellow scales," Kai muttered, squinting into her screen. "Weird."
She watched as the the Valkyrie ran up to him and took his hand. That done, they both vanished.
"Wait... What?" Kai said.
Kailian: "What's up with this video? It looks spliced"
Argus: "don't know. The other ones like that, too."
Kai watched that next. It was a different angle, same thing.
Argus: "look at this next (link)"
The link preview had the headline, "Mystic wanted for questioning in Peru for trespassing ruins."
She opened the article. Same yellow dragon, different robes, seated cross-legged, doing a weird pose with his hands.
Kailian: "So what. How is this supposed to help?"
Argus: "Find that guy, you might find your brother"
"He's not my brother," Kai said out-loud.
So, it was time to track down this mystic whatever he was. Kai sighed. She wasn't sleepy anymore. Might as well get started with that. It was going to be an extra coffee day. She could already tell.
The days searching yielded a few leads. This mystic went by the Oracle most places. He usually stayed in rural areas, and seemed to be part of the off-grid movement. That was a start. Kai set up some alerts to track any new information about the Oracle. It would be some time, but the hunt was on.
It was the end of a long work day, and payday to boot. That meant one thing: lottery tickets. Daryl had a pile of them in front of him, and was going through them with wild, religious fervor.
"Well I didn't win nothin'. Just like I thought I would," he said, throwing one to the side.
"Well, why do you play, then?" Argus said with a deriding undertone.
Daryl looked up at him slowly.
"Hey, wildcat!" Argus shouted to the bartender. "You got that drink coming?"
The caracal girl gave him a smirk as she turned to go towards the cooler, letting her eyes linger on him as she went.
"You know Charlene's got a boyfriend," Daryl said, a little apprehensively.
"Never stopped me before," Argus said with a crooked grin.
They were at the Damn Bar (yes, that was its name). Argus had thought of some sizzling one liners he wanted to try out on Charlene this time around, but something was off. He could feel it. Argus turned to look over his shoulder, and that's when he saw Kailian, rising from her seat at a far table, towering over the other nervous patrons, making her way towards him.
"What," Daryl said turning. "Oh lordy."
Argus used a low, direct voice that Daryl had never heard from him before to say, "You let me do the talking."
"Hi guys," Kailian said in a sultry voice.
She was grinning devilishly.
"How are ya," Argus said. "Why didn't you say you was in town?"
"Because you never replied to my messages," Kai said darkly.
There was a pause.
"So this is where you hang out now?" Kai said, looking at Argus, crossing her arms.
"Charming ain't it," Argus said, grinning again.
"It's a dump," Kai said with disgust. "There's nothing interesting around here for miles. Why is there a space port here, anyway?"
"Holdover from the NASA days."
He snuck a glance at Daryl, who was staring dumbfounded at Kailian.
"What are you up to, visiting these parts?" Argus said.
"I want your help with something," Kai said coldly. "There's someone I’m trying to find."
"You know I don't do that no more," Argus said, some annoyance showing.
"What do you do now? Other than drink cheap beer with fat gators." Kai said, gesturing vaguely towards Daryl.
"I'm the QA man at Galico Engines," Argus said, leaning back a little. "Means the shop guys don't like me, 'cause I'm telling them what's gotta be fixed, and the office people don't like me 'cause I don't sign off on stuff that ain't right so they can ship it anyway."
"Right," Kailian said.
"I thought you got out o' this sorta thing, too," Argus said, giving Kai a look.
"I did," Kailian said. "This is personal."
"Who pissed you off now?" Argus said with an attempt at a laugh.
"It's another Valkrie," Kailian said flatly, "like me."
"What?" Argus said. "I thought you were the only one. Well, you and your sister."
"She's not my sister," Kailian growled, rolling her eyes.
"This one's a he. Purple with a grey belly. Dark stripes."
Argus sighed. He saw Daryl scratching his own neck in the corner of his vision.
"I'll try," Argus said, "'cuase it's you. But it ain't easy to track no more. Not since all them people started into that off-grid thing a few years back."
"I'm leaving tonight," she added. "Message me if you find something."
"I'm redoing the headers on my old Chevy," Daryl said, quietly, nervously. "All I need to finish it up is..."
"Nobody cares," Kailian said, staring him down.
Daryl looked down and was quiet.
Kailian looked at Argus again.
"Message me, okay?"
She sighed and turned to leave.
Daryl stared at Kai as she made her way to the door. Finally, he looked at Argus.
"What was all that?" He asked slowly.
"Never how who's gonna show up here. That's why we like the Damn Bar so much" Argus said, attempting a disarming smile.
They were both quiet a while as the sounds of billiards and country music slowly started up again.
"You know her from the Marine core?" Daryl asked.
"Yeah," Argus said.
Saying he had served was easier than telling people what he actually did all those years.
"You gonna finish your scratch tickets?" Argus asked.
Daryl looked down at the pile as if he had forgotten about them.
"Well, yeah. I guess..."
Kailian crossed her arms, looking over the broad side of a building. What a bland facade. It was a shame she wouldn't get to storm it. It would have been so easy. What was she doing instead?
"Right," said one of a couple of suited figures standing nearby in a slow, nasal voice. "So, I'm gonna take these recommendations you've made and run them by our operations manager. You should see payment within 30 days of sending an invoice."
Kai nodded, her hands on her hips.
As the suited figure droned on, she felt that feeling coming up again. It was an antsiness, combined with a weary, 'what's the point' feeling. This last two months had been much slower than gun-for-hire work or chasing bounties, but dealing with dull suited domestic types all the time left her teeth and claws itching with disuse. Where was the thrill of the hunt?
"Mrs. Kailian? Hey, where are you going?"
"We're done, right?" Kai said, giving the pencil-necked clipboard holder a glare.
"Yes ma'am," he said finally, "we're done."
"Good," Kai said darkly. If you had any idea how dangerous my boredom is, you would learn to keep your mouth shut, she thought.
Kai felt the need to find a drink, and fast. There was a bar across the block from this office complex. It looked proper and stuffy from the lack of color and modernity in the sign, but it would have to do. The need for beer was winning for now.
Kailian glanced around the crowd as she crossed the street with them. She was almost twice as tall as anyone here, and the little signs of jumpiness from some, the uncomfortable nervous glances of others, made smiling back deviously so much fun. That's when he caught her eye, and she stopped, wide-eyed in her tracks.
He was down the sidewalk a ways. He was tall in the crowd, too. Well antlered, striped. Among all the business casualties of fashion, he was wearing something like a kilt or a loin cloth of all things. That's when she realized, he was a Valkyrie dragon. She hadn't seen another in years, decades maybe. That's when he looked up and saw her. Just as their eyes met, he turned and ran.
"Oh no, you don't," Kai said, bolting down the sidewalk after him. She barely felt it as she knocked several pedestrians over, sprinting hard. She rounded a corner and roared down an alley, catching another glimpse of the Valkyrie stranger leaping to the left at the other end.
Kai rounded the corner and leapt over a car that was screeching to avoid her, leaving a handprint shaped indentation on the hood. She saw the Valkyrie crossing the street and going into a wrought iron gate. She knocked several more pedestrians over and leapt through traffic to follow. She stopped inside the gate, taking in her surroundings, crouched, ready to leap.
There was a lawn, and trees here and there. She was on a path towards a fountain surrounded by rose beds that gave of a soft aroma. It was a small park, and there were no other gates. Where could he have gone? Her world was notoriously hard to leave. Words couldn't express how much she wanted to chase this guy down right now.
Kai swept the park with her eyes as she crept forward. Those walls were too tall for her to jump, much less that scrappy male.
"Where'd you go," she growled as she walked up to the fountain.
There was no sign of him anywhere. Kailian roared softly, scanned the park one last time, and turned to go.