Danny's Story

37. in which danny fights fire with plasma

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The charging horse and rider were at least a hundred feet away. Danny stood her ground and raised the cannon. She felt she had run enough for one day. She sighted the horse and released an air-splitting round of plasma fire.

The air in front of her exploded in a fury of heat. As the explosion spread and dissipated, she had but a moment to note that the horse and rider were gone, but there was the dragon’s head, pinning her with its gaze. Through a frame of spreading plasma, she watched its jaws part. Blue flame erupted in the darkness of its throat. For a heartbeat, everything seemed to stop as she stared, agape, at the vivid display of fire and plasma. Then, she gasped and raised her arms to her face just as a white-blue jet of dragonfire blasted her. She dropped to the ground, was knocked violently backwards, and tumbled like debris until she slammed into a tree.

Another heartbeat passed, in which the heat and vertigo and shock swept Danny up in a swirl of confusion and disorientation. When the inferno faded, she was still alive and whole, sprawled against the base of a tree. Underneath the Suit, her body was steaming with sweat. As the shock cleared, she became aware again of her optical input. She realized that it had not turned off at all through the dragonfire. She found herself staring into a haze of grey smoke.

Two red lights glowed spectrally in the smoke. As they drew closer to Danny, they resolved themselves into two enraged dragon’s eyes. Suddenly, the two eyes became a face that split into a wide, toothy maw. Danny started and flopped like a fish in an effort to leap to her feet. But she was too late. The jaws snapped shut around her chest and shoulders with a crunch.

Danny knew brief, crushing pain and a loud screeching sound like metal rending. The dragon chomped on her, then recoiled like it had been stung. It wailed and shook its head wildly. On the ground, Danny grabbed at the earth and wheezed for breath. She had a brief brush with the black unknowing of unconsciousness, but her mind swirled back into reality. The initial impact of the dragon’s teeth turned immediately into burning pain that began in her lungs and spread outward. While protecting her from the piercing damage of the teeth, the Suit could not fully protect her from the blunt force – which, if not for the Suit, would have killed her on its own.

Danny forced herself to sit up. Every breath brought pain. The dragon still shook its head with pain and shock. Biting into the Suit had apparently not been a pleasant feeling for it. She hoped it would learn from the experience. The crushing pressure of its jaws may have been just enough to squeeze the life out of her if it tried biting her again.

Danny wheezed out words to heal herself. The pain disappeared, and a pressure was lifted from her lungs. She stood. The dragon gave its head one last violent shake, then looked down at her and hissed. The sound unnerved Danny.

Another blast of dragonfire roared toward Danny. Though she was on her guard, she still narrowly leaped from its path. The forest once again was filled with hot, grey smoke. She stood on a stout lower branch of a tree and trained her cannon into the haze.

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Christie “Iamba” Bailey

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