Three days later I watched the first long range transport bank as it slowed and came in over the bay. We had managed to cut and put almost twelve hundred meters of platform in. We also had another six parking pads and six more pods. It moved onto and down the landing platform smoothly before slowing.

A minute later it turned and started back before stopping. As it shut down the rear hatch opened and several men started down the ramp. Everyone had been waiting for this moment and we all walked towards the vehicle. Mr Davis grinned as he strode ahead of the other men, “you did it!”

I grinned and he glanced at George and Momma, “is this one of the... people I have been hearing about?”

I turned, “This is George. George this is Mr Davis.”

George chuffed and I glanced at the other men as they stopped, “who did you bring?”

He glanced at them, “councilor Simmons you know. The other two are professor Howard and Benson.”

I nodded, “we have an empty pod you can use.”

I looked at Mr Davis, “did you bring the vet pod and lights?”

He nodded and turned, “Tara said you were going to set it on one of the parking pads?”

I nodded as Dr James pulled away from Tara, “the female tiger went into heat as soon as she saw the male.”

I grinned, “that sounds good but they need to be separated after she conceives.”

I turned and started for the pod cage, “the griffin eggs should hatch today or tomorrow.”

Edward grinned, “My Helen wanted one as well as a giant bird bat.”

The councilor cleared his throat and I glanced back, “yes?”

He gestured to George, “we will need to examine...”

I shook my head, “you start poking at me and I will punch you, you poke George and he will probable rip you open. If you want to talk or question them answer this, how can they understand what we say?”

I started towards the pod again as Tara laughed, “or you could challenge George’s mother to a game of three dee chest.”

I smiled and looked at Mr Davis, “she likes to play Go but no one is even close beating her.”

He grinned, “I heard your griffins changed things when Hunter laid her eggs.”

I nodded and stopped to let him enter the cage, “I will see you later, I need to help off load.”

I looked at the councilor and the two professors, “be polite.”

The vet pod had a sliding side that opened so the middle and end section were much larger. We let Leo and Peter climb up and start installing the lights as we put together several small reactors. When I returned to the vet pod it was to see the older dragon on a table with Sweetie and George watching.

Alex was back in our pod cage with all the companions as mom, Tara, Jade and Dr James moved around the dragon and set everything up. The two professors were watching and taking notes. They spoke to George or Sweetie who nodded or shook their heads. I touched George on the shoulder, “they will help her.”

He chuffed and mom looked up, “no talking now.”

I had seen mom operate many times, Tara may have more animals to care for but mom had been doing this a long time. She started as soon as the dragon sighed and went to sleep. I could see George and Sweetie tense up when they cut into the dragon but they remained still. It took almost six hours before they finished and stood back.

I moved forward after washing my hands and pushed them towards the front, “sit.”

I started cleaning the dragon and George moved to her and nudged her head. I glanced at him, “it will be a few minutes before she wakes. You can feel her breathing though.”

He nodded as I went back to what I was doing. Ten minutes later I moved to touch the dragon’s neck as she shifted, “slowly and don’t try to stand.”

Tara walked to her as the dragon opened her eyes and knelt, “thinking clearly?”

The dragon hesitated before nodding and Tara smiled, “okay. We reset the bone and used a quick heal but it is going to take a few days. The muscle and tendons we had to replace and it is going take time to get them back into shape. Give it a week and you will be walking, a month and you will be as good as new.”

The dragon chuffed and Tara glanced at me, “we are going to need to move her into the cage.”

I headed out, “let George and Sweetie talk to her.”

Of course George wanted to go hunting for her but we had plenty of meat in large stasis boxes. I used a hover bed to move the dragon and as soon as she was parked in the pod cage all the animals crowded around. That night our pod cage was crowded with people as we talked about the next step.

We still had parking pads to make and pods to put in but the hard part was done...

I walked out and off the large cage pad that was the small settlement marketplace. In the two years since we had started it, things had grown. We had over two hundred people here now, including a federation rep to the dragons. Jade and Tara had a clinic attached between our houses and Alex had her clinic on the other side.

I used the walkway that was patrolled by dragons and walked into the house. I glanced up at the wide ledge around the room where the second floor was. George and Sweetie chuffed from their shared nest with another female dragon that was visiting. I smiled as I shifted my daughter, “where is everyone?”

George nodded towards the back and I sighed, “is Duchess laying or still waiting?”

He shook his head as Sweetie chirped and I smiled, “waiting it is.”

I headed to the kitchen and set the net of fruit on the counter before putting my daughter in one of the jumpers. She yawned and put her fist in her mouth as I started making her lunch. Jade was busy in her clinic today and Alex had our son while she went out for a house call with Momma and her companions.

I looked out the kitchen window at the crowd of companions around Duchess and Duke. The large room was where we relaxed and had nests everywhere. I turned and saw my daughter sleeping and sighed before glancing at the front door as a chime went off. I crossed the room and opened the door to see Peter looking worried.

I frowned as I opened the door wider, “what is it?”

He glanced up at George, “another shuttle crashed. This time we have survivors talking on the emergency radio.”

I turned as I closed the door, “where?”

He sighed, “almost three thousand kilometers to the east. The shuttle hit the water and slid under the trees.”

I headed towards the sat table, “is the shuttle intact?”

I brought up the sat look down and he touched a spot, “the shuttle is intact. But they landed on a narrow peninsula which means they would have an extra thousand kilometers if they walked out.”

I kept looking as Alex and Jade walked in. I touched a spot a hundred kilometers north of the crash site and looked at Peter, “The longbows can reach here and get back.”

He nodded, “that’s still a long way for...”

I looked at Alex and Jade, “a few of us could be dropped at the crash site and we could lead and protect them.”

George dropped down and moved to the table and bumped me as he looked at the sat map. He chuffed and I rubbed his ear, “Sweetie isn’t going, she has eggs.”

He shook his head and looked at me and I looked at Alex and Jade. Alex finally nodded, “I’m coming.”

Jade nodded, “Me too.”

I shook my head, “the...”

Alex smiled, “your mother is here and can look after the children.”

Jade nodded, “George and Momma and our other companions will come.”

I shook my head, “not the griffins and not Princess or Gloria or the bird bats.”

They nodded and I looked at Peter, “see if Leo or Tiger is back. I think four or us will be enough.”

He looked at the map, “moving that many people...”

Jade grinned, “what about using all those anti grav harnesses you made for tourists?”

I looked at Peter, “one cargo bag for the harness?”

He spun and ran for the door, “I’ll call flight ops.”

I glanced at our daughter and then looked at Alex and Jade, “call mom and come pack.”

Alex lifted our daughter out of the chair as I walked out. In our room I loaded a pack before heading out into the large nest room and looked around, “Alexander and Cynthia come.”

I glanced at my mini dragons, “Dawn and Simon come.”

I sighed as I looked at the six tiger monkey adolescents Momma and George had saved, “David, Chris Mike, Ann, Renee, Abby come.”

I looked at the dwarf dragons, “Junior, Hunter come.”

I looked at the others, “protect Duchess.”

I turned as my companions followed me out and found Momma waiting by the door. I rubbed her face and waited for Alex and Jade. Mom hurried in with my son, “Leo and Tiger will meet you at the longbow.”

I nodded, “you might want to call dad.”

She nodded as I thought, “get with the council. We need the other longbow to do a drop just before it gets dark there. Tell Dr James we need thirty net bags with the new collapsing carbon fiber poles as well as rations for... two hundred and fifty people. We also need someone to monitors us on the thermal sat scan, especially during the night.”

She nodded as she headed towards the bedroom. It was five minutes before Alex and Jade joined me and we left. I grinned when we got to the longbow and saw George with five other dragons. I nodded to Leo and tossed my pack in before taking Alex’s and then Jade’s. Tiger appeared with Peter and we went to help pull the cargo bag into the longbow.

I went to talk to the pilot, copilot and load master. It was a few minutes before everyone was in and we were moving. It is strange, dragons fly but didn’t like flying inside a transport. We sat together with the dragons and I went over what I wanted to do. It was almost three hours before the load master gave us a warning.

Unlike the flying transports the longbow couldn’t hover and would only slow. We would be jumping a lot higher then the other times. I had explained to the dragons about how to jump so they didn’t injury a wing and went over it several time with all the dwarf dragons and then harnessed Momma and the other leaf leopards and then the smaller leopards.

My two mini dragons I put in a pouch they would be able to climb out of and added the large bag and the six tiger monkeys climbed in. I moved to grab one corner of the cargo bag and looked at Alex and Jade, “don’t hesitate to jump and stay close.”

Leo, Tiger and Peter each grabbed a corner of the bag and we stood waiting. It was several minutes before the load master opened the hatch and wind buffeted us. A couple of minutes and he yelled and I ran and leaped out. I dialed up the anti grav and looked back at everyone and then started looking around.

We had jumped from five thousand feet so we had room to glide. I smiled at the dragons when they roared to let anything and everything below know they were coming. Momma and the other leaf leopards echoed their roar and then it was the dwarf dragons. I heard my brothers and Peter laugh as Alex and Jade giggled.

I turned and headed towards the ocean before turning again when I saw the wreckage below. We drifted down and into the tree above the wreckage and at the ocean edge. We landed a hundred meters up on a huge branch and I let the cargo bag go as I knelt to let the mini dragons and monkeys out.

Everyone else was doing the same thing as well as readying rifles. I looked below us and nodded to Peter, “I’ll move the cargo bag.”

He nodded and grinned as he jumped off the branch and floated towards another below. I gestured Alex and Jade to follow and then grabbed the bag and yanked as I jumped. Our companions flew around us as we moved down and in. The dragons stayed a little above to watch over us as I finally dropped onto the huge shuttle.

I glanced at the ground below and the few elephant wolves gathered into a defensive circle. I turned to bang on the door and a moment later a face looked out through the armored glass. The door opened and I looked up, “to the wreck Alex and be careful.”

I gestured for the people to move back and waited until she landed. She pushed in and started talking and then she vanished. I looked up at Leo’s call and he pointed, “Tiger.”

I grinned when I looked and saw four dragons chasing it down a branch. I secured the cargo net and stepped into the shuttle, “quiet!”

A uniformed woman pushed her way through, “when is the rescue flight getting here?”

I looked at her and then at the people, “are you going to build the thousand foot landing platform?”

She frowned and I shook my head, “we are here to help. Each of you will wear a anti grav harness and we will guide you north about a hundred kilometer where there might be someplace a longbow can land.”

They groaned and the woman shook her head, “we can’t...”

I growled, “me and two girls walked two thousand kilometers after our shuttle crashed. We had nothing and no one to help. The men and dragons with me will guide and protect you but you will walk and those that can’t will be helped by others.”

I looked around at the quiet people, “this is the only way.”

The woman finally nodded and I moved to the door, “help me hand out the anti grav harnesses.”

Alex appeared when we were halfway done, “four with broken legs and two with broken arms. A dozen others with bad bruises.”

I nodded, “did you bring the quick casts?”

She smiled, “I’m the doctor remember?”

I smiled, “assign two men to each of the ones with a broken leg and one to the ones with a broken arm.”

She nodded and left as I went back to handing harnesses out. When I was done I caught a rope Tiger dropped and gestured to the closest woman, “time to go.”

I showed each how to turn the anti grav on and let my brothers pulled them up. They were moving them on the branch above so we had room. I helped the last few including the injured before looking around and following Alex up. I opened our comm link, “go Peter.”

He was ready and started north and climbed another branch level. I pointed out the few children as I moved around the sides, “Dawn and Simon watch these children.”

I touched a small boy, “Alexander?”

I called each of the tiger monkeys as I found other children. I climbed up and moved to take a man’s place as he helped pull people up. Momma appeared and a woman gasped and I looked at Momma, “watch below us.”

She chuffed and sat while the woman looked at me and I turned to pull someone else up, “move down the branch.”

It wasn’t easy moving that many people but we managed twenty kilometers before gathering them under thick branches. I opened the sat comm, “mom?”

“She is busy.”

I smiled, “Any idea how long before the longbow drop?”

“It should be there in thirty minutes.”

I took my pack off and dug into it for the long cord, “was everything we needed loaded?”

“Thirty net bags with the collapsing carbon fiber poles and rations for two hundred and fifty people.”

I nodded and turned, “I’ll call later.”

“Good luck.”

I gestured to Jade, “watch for me?”

She nodded and I tied one end of the cord before using a vine to climb up. I tried to climb straight as Hunter and Junior flew up and watched. I was at the tree top when the longbow called, “this is longbow flight one calling rescue party.”

I glanced around, “this is Firehawk. Guide on my comm signal and make sure the bag anti gravs are on when you drop them.”


I glanced at a dragon as it appeared and hovered while watching me. I frowned, “do I know you?”

George flew out of another tree and the dragon turned as he roared. The dragon shifted before moving down to a wider branch and I looked up as the comm opened, “dropping in five... four... three... two... one... dropping.”

The longbow went by slowly and thirty two bags fell out and started floating, “Hunter, Junior.”

They leaped and flew towards the bags above us as they spread out. Several other dragons and dwarf dragon appeared to join them and the strange dragon below went too. They caught and pulled the bags towards me and I caught the first and threaded the cord through a side handle.

I dropped it and caught another to repeat it before quickly opening our team comm, “net bags coming down Jade. Have them sent to Peter, Leo and Tiger. Seven for each branch.”

I went back to threading bags onto the cord and dropping them. The last two were the bags filled with rations. I waited before starting to climb down and coiled the cord as I went. I dropped onto the branch next to Jade and the others were already putting the slim carbon fiber poles together and spreading the nets over them and fastening them together.

The poles were new and had tiny static generators that created a shield to keep the rain out. They weren’t really strong enough to support a large predator but they would work for what we wanted. Inside each bag was a dozen anti grav hammocks, the second ration bag held fiber blankets.

It was dark when we finished and I waited to close the end of the net until all the dragons were in. I sat on a hammock as my companions returned and ate a meal. Alex and Jade sat together on another as I made another sat call, “mom?”

Alex looked at me as she answered, “Firehawk. Are the girls okay?”

I smiled at them, “we are fine. We made it about twenty kilometers. Let the council know we need the ration drop a couple of kilometers north of our position in the morning.”

“Okay. They are going to drop more fiber blankets too.”

I handed the comm to Jade, “now you can talk to her about the children.”

She bumped my shoulder and turned to Alex as I knelt to caress Hunter and Junior, “did you two catch dinner?”

Momma chuffed from behind us where three two children were curled up against her. I smiled and scratched Hunter before gesturing to Junior, “go lay with Momma.”

He rubbed against me before going to curl up by her shoulder. I sat with Alex and Jade right behind me and relaxed as George walked under and over hammocks and settled with his head in my lap. I rubbed his ear, “today wasn’t bad. How many of your people have come?”

He chuffed and tapped my leg three times. I nodded and glanced at all the people in hammocks down the branch. I woke to the monkeys and mini leopards climbing onto the hammock with me and caressed each as I looked through the net. I woke again to the rain sliding off the static shield and turned to look at Momma with George’s wing wrapped around her.

I smiled and Jade hissed, “look through the net on the branch.”

I turned before shifting and slipping the thermal glasses on. It looked like a leopard but larger then a mini and smaller then a big one. I shifted around and slowly worked my way off the hammock. I left the rifle but lifted the small capture net. I moved to the side and then slowly opening the net. I squeezed out as the strange leopard crouched while watching me.

I knelt and moved closer until it started to turn away and then I threw the net. It spread out as the leopard crouched again and then the capture net was dropping over it. It screamed and fought as I moved to pull the ends closed. I looked around as Alex and Jade turn on a light through the net and I saw the animal clearly.

I pulled my glasses off and knelt before my hand snatched out and it stiffened as I grasped the back of it’s neck. I glanced at Jade, “get me the fire and spice leaves.”

I looked around and smiled, “send Hunter out too.”

Jade was beside me a couple of minutes later with Hunter and I pointed to one side, “Hunt.”

Hunter turned to follow my hand before leaping and flying straight at a large peacock on a small branch. I turned back as Jade lit the leaves, “it’s a cub.”

She grinned, “and pure black.”

I nodded as I held the stiff cub in the smoke and slowly relaxed my hold. It whined and when I set it down it dropped to its belly as it swayed. Jade took the heavy peacock from Hunter as I put the fire out. I took the bird and cleaned it before cutting it up. I pet and caressed the cub as I started feeding it, it ate as if starved and as thin as it was I thought it might have been.

When it slowed finally and laid down I tossed the remains off the branch and lifted the cub. I handed it to Jade and she grinned, “Can I name it?”

I pushed her back to the net and held it for Hunter, “sure.”

I was a little wet as I went to kneel beside George, “have you seen his kind before?”

George chuffed as he nodded and Momma leaned against him. I smiled and turned to watch as Alex and Jade examined the cub while our companions tried to get their own look. When it stopped raining I started taking the nets down and packing the bags. People grumbled about carrying the bags but I ignored it as I got with Peter and my brothers.

Tiger led today and then Leo, me and then Peter. Two hours later the longbow called and Peter climbed up while we waited and watched. Jade had fashioned a spare harness to fit the cub she called a Nightshade and gave her that name. Her Drake led it and kept an eye on it while we walked.

While we waited for Peter I knelt and caressed it and Momma came to lay next to it. Dawn and Simon returned from a side trip and dropped two blood fruit. Momma nudged them to the cub and licked her face before turning to watch the forest. Nightshade smelled and then ate both quickly before letting out a rumbling purr.

I glanced back as Alex began helping Peter hand out rations. He tossed one to me, “we have another drop before dark.”

I nodded and ate before standing as a few women started looking around, “Alex?”

She turned and I gestured to the women. She nodded and moved through the people talking to them about how to go to the bathroom. She even handed out clothe maker leaves she had collected. We went almost forty kilometers, stopping each hour to rest. I had the monkeys bring fruit back several times and the dragons were doing a great job of chasing the larger predators away.

We spent the night like before, in nets on four branches of a tree. The next day we reached the edge of the forest before it got dark. I looked down at the wide glassy rock that stretched several kilometers across and all the way across the peninsula. I looked at the people before shaking my head, “we will go down and check in the morning.”

The ration drop was an hour away and by then we had the nets up. Everyone was tired and rested as the companions moved through them or let the children pet them. Leo brought the rations down and started handing them out before bringing Peter and Tiger to me, “we need to check the landing site as soon as it is light. The longbow said if it is good enough they will land to pick us up.”

I nodded and looked at Peter, “jump them in groups?”

He grinned and nodded and Tiger snorted, “except the injured.”

I nodded, “use the spare harnesses to double up?”

They laughed and I smiled as I sat back, “we need to really check that clearing. It almost looked like glass which means heat.”

Tiger frowned, “as far as we know there isn’t anything here to burn that hot.”

I nodded, “which is why we check and mark the landing area really good.”

I slept on the branch holding Jade and Alex with George and Momma next to the net. Once in awhile it doesn’t rain, I woke to fog that was so thick I could barely see Momma and George. I glanced at Nightshade with her head on Jade’s tummy and moved the mini leopards and monkeys off me. I moved over Alex and went to the net to peer out.

George growled and I glanced at him before stepping back. I moved back to the bed and picked up my rifle and smiled to see Hunter and Junior in my place. I turned to watch the branch and blinked when I realized something was staring back. I took a step as George came to his feet and I lifted the rifle.

The eyes shifted and suddenly I was looking at a rainbow of colors as a giant griffin stepped closer. I touched George and Momma as I moved between them to look at the animal closer. I smiled, “so there are two large species that fly and have four legs.”

It tilted its head but when it turned I saw the damaged wing. I moved to the side and set the rifle down before opening the net. I pulled the capture net as I moved down the branch after the animal. It spun and hissed as it reared back and raised its front feet with claws extended. I whipped the capture net around and threw.

It screamed as it tried to spread its wings and fight the net. George pushed past me and spread his wings before leaping. I leaped to catch him but it was to late. I should have known better, he pounced on and pinned the other. I looked at Jade and Alex, “did you bring a light tranq Jade?”

She spun, “Yes!”

I moved around George and the now whimpering giant. I carefully looked at the mouth and the small narrow skull before looking at the wing. Jade rubbed my shoulder as she leaned over and slipped the needle into the animal’s neck. It took a minute before it relax and George moved off it.

I looked at him, “it isn’t a predator. Is it smart like you or us?”

He shook his head and bent to look at it. I looked at the feet and claws and saw they weren’t that large. I frowned and thought of mutation and opened the sat comm, “mom?”

It was answered, “night watch.”

I smiled, “do you have us on scan?”


I nodded, “you see the large animal we caught?”

“A dragon?”

I sighed as I thought of the melted rock and the new animal, “switch to view for radiologicals.”

It was several moments before he answered, “the area next to you is hot.”

I growled, “levels?”

“The edge is safe but you go a kilometer and it won’t be.”

I looked at Alex, “if the longbow lands on this edge would it be safe?”

“I think so. I need to wake someone up.”

I stood, “did you bring anything to monitor radiation Alex?”

She shook her head and Jade growled, “If someone dumped...”

I touched her shoulder, “I think this is natural and I think it may also be what has created mutations.”

She blinked and looked at the giant griffin, “the size of the skull suggests less intelligence.”

I nodded and gestured to the net, “inside and bring my pack.”

I looked at George, “are there others like this?”

He chuffed and nodded and I started pulling the capture net off, “make sure your people know to stay away from the glassy area on the ground.”

I accepted my pack and glanced around at the fog before gesturing George and Momma back, “Send Hunter and Junior for Leo, Tiger and Peter.”

I pulled out all the fruit I had slipped into my pack and then the fire and spice leaves. I looked at Alex and frowned, “I never thought about it but the leaves are larger here too.”

She nodded and took one, “when we get back I’ll run a few tests.”


I answered the sat comm, “here.”

“We have a specialist reading the radiation scans. Right now it looks like the edge is safe. There is a hot zone running almost straight across and down into the ocean with a large area thirty kilometers to the east that looks like a sink hole.”

I rolled the leaves together as I looked at the sleepy animal, “we need to be sure before the longbow gets here. We can move in a kilometer and drop down when it lands so it isn’t on the ground to long but only if we are positive it is safe. Our second option would be more drops with sonic cutters and then a few pods with beams and grating but that would be risky.”

“We are looking at that now.”

I started burning the leaves and glanced at Peter and Tiger as they walked out of the net, “we need to move inland a kilometer but stay back from the edge. The ground is radioactive, especially in the center.”

Peter frowned, “that isn’t good, we won’t even be able to go around to walk out.”

I nodded, “they have specialists looking at the sat scans now. They say the edge may be safe.”

I made sure the large animal breathed in the smoke before tossing the leaves off the branch. I looked at Leo as he came out, “our second option is to build a landing platform right here.”

They shook their heads but I shrugged, “if that is what we have to do I’ll see if we can get a couple of dozen men to jump in.”

I rubbed the cheeks of the animal as it whimpered and turned to cut a melon. I pushed a piece in its mouth and it chewed slowly, “Firehawk?”

It was dad, I pushed another piece of fruit into the animal’s mouth, “we’re here.”

“Okay, I finally got a straight answer. The very edge is safe enough to land for a short time. You need to check the surface quickly and then get off. If it is suitable then they will land.”

I glanced at my brothers and Peter as I slipped another slice of melon to the animal, “what is the exposure risk while I check the ground?”

“They say you can stay several hours but I say maybe two.”

I nodded and looked at Peter, “you lead everyone a kilometer in.”

He nodded and I looked at the animal, “Jade.”

She wiggled through as I stood, “bind his wing for now and you can work on it at home.”

I looked at everyone, “I’ll see you one kilometer inland.”

I stopped to kiss Alex and grab my rifle, “watch my companions so they don’t follow.”

I hesitated before using a vine and swinging off and dropping down. I moved to the trunk and then around before glancing down into the fog. I worked my way down quickly and stayed close to the ocean. By the time I dropped to the ground, the fog was starting to lift. I pulled a marker beacon from an outside pocket on my pack.

I took a breath before walking out onto the glassy surface of melted rock. I went a hundred meters before coming back a little and setting the beacon after switching it on. I turned east and began walking as I looked left and right checking the ground. It was slightly slanted and rose up but remained smooth.

I was counting paces and when I reached twelve hundred I dropped a second beacon and turned for the trees. I was watching carefully as I approached and started climbing a five foot thick vine. I rested every few branch levels and finally climbed onto a branch with a dragon waiting for me.

I grinned before it chuffed and started leading me to the right. Peter grinned when I walked up, “cutting it close.”

I nodded, “move them out on the other branch and when the longbow calls start down.”

I moved through the lines of people and found Alex. She and Jade were watching the rear with Momma who had a leash in her mouth and pulled the huge griffin. Jade grinned, “we named him Dizzy.”

I reached out to rub his face as he whined, “I see you found more harnesses.”

She grinned, “wait until we start down.”

I looked around, “where is the cub?”

Jade snorted, “following a little boy who keeps playing with a small branch.”

It wasn’t to long before the longbow called and Peter started dropping onto lower branches with the people following. I kept watch as we split up to watch different levels all the way to the ground. As the last of the people jumped I moved after them and caught Alexander and Cynthia when they climbed onto me and let them cling to my shoulders.

I sent Junior after Momma as she pulled the huge griffin off the last branch and Hunter after the cub Nightshade. I kept watching back into the forest as people hurried across and climbed into the flying transport. I was getting ready to turn and jump when I saw the huge king lizard. It was moving quickly but what drew my eye was the vestal wings.

The dragons roared but it continued to charge so I lifted my rifle and fired three times. It crashed into the branch before thrashing around and falling off. I spun and jumped as Dawn and Simon appeared and flew around me. As I dropped, the six tiger monkeys leaped from nearby vines to cling to me and add their weight.

I glanced back as dragons dropped out of the forest and flew towards the transport in front of me. Several strange looking elephant wolves were tearing at the king lizard as I walked backwards and kept watch. Peter finally grabbed my shoulder, “get in.”

I spun to follow him in as I looked for all my companions and Alex and Jade. I nodded when I saw them beside Momma and the dragons. The rear hatch closed as I knelt and moved those clinging to me and reached out to pull Dizzy’s head down and look into his eyes. I rubbed his cheek and behind his ears as the transport lifted and started moving.

He shifted and whined as we rose into the air and headed higher. Alex knelt beside him a moment later and put an arm over him as she looked at me, “I think we need a platform here to look at and watch the animals that have been changed.”

I smiled, “This time we saved the whole shuttle so I am celebrating.”

Jade wasn’t that far away and laughed when she heard, “We are celebrating at home.”
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