Asher Lindwurm has a duty to perform for his family, and even though he’s indifferent toward it, he flies off to a tropical island as instructed by his father. When he’s attacked by a war party of tiger shifter ninjas, he does his best but is gravely injured.
David Wong was raised to fight dragons. He’s part of an elite ninja band dispatched to kill two dragons meeting on an island in the south Pacific. He’s tired of the conflict between the tigers and the dragons. He wants nothing more than to do his job and find a way to escape to a nice quiet mountain.
These two enemies must come together to survive their injuries and in turn, discover who is working against both their clans. Can they heal their wounds, both physical and emotional, and do what they must to survive?
The wind buffeted Asher Lindwurm as he flew across the Pacific Ocean. He was low enough over the water that the waves splashed up and coated the leading edge of his wings with salt. The fresh air was a wonderful change from the exhaust-filled air of Denver, but he wished he’d had an option in taking the trip. Thing was, when his father insisted he fly out to the tiny island in the middle of nowhere, he couldn’t object. With two of his brothers forming mate bonds in less than a year and no sign of a next generation on the horizon, it was declared that Asher would be the one to start fathering new dragons. It wasn’t like he really cared one way or the other about who he mated with. In this case, he was just going to do his family duty. A mating would occur, either eggs would be laid or babies born, the future would be secured, and he could go back to his contented life of manipulating the world’s powerful humans into doing what the dragons wanted them to. The system had been in place for thousands of years, and there was no point in making changes to it.
He passed over a long floating patch of garbage. It made his blood boil. The humans were constantly finding ways to continue to pollute and destroy, even as the dragons were pushing them toward cleaner resources that would save the planet rather than leave it a wasteland.
On the edge of the floating pile of garbage, something splashed. Asher swung around and get a better look. A green sea turtle looked up at him. There wasn’t any fear in its gaze, just a silent plea for help. The plea tore at Asher. He flapped his wings rapidly so he could hover. Reaching out with his elemental magic, he made the water lift the turtle up toward him. With his long wings, he couldn’t get too close to the water without splashing more water around than he already was, and wet leather wings were hard to fly with, even if he didn’t already have a layer of salt coating the leading edge of both wings.
As the turtle emerged from the ocean, a series of long lines with weights dangled from its shell. They seemed to be caught on the lip of the shell, and a couple were wrapped around its flippers.
“Hold still,” Asher said, then projected the image of a still, calm turtle into the reptile’s mind. He was thankful his mental powers were stronger than his brothers’, particularly when it came to oneforms like the turtle. Although he couldn’t imagine a turtle shifter getting caught up in the mess the one he was talking to was.
The turtle went still, and Asher set to work pulling off the cords and removing the sharp nasty hooks that held several of the cords to it. His claws were as dexterous as his human hands would’ve been, and a lot sharper. It was easier to cut the cords first so the weights weren’t constantly pulling at the turtle, trying to yank it back into the waves. He was amazed the turtle had the strength to make it to the surface with so much dragging it down. He was confident that once he had it free of all encumbrances, it would be able to survive in its ocean home without a problem.
It took Asher several minutes, but he was able to get the turtle free of any evidence of its encounter with man’s garbage. There was a long scar across the crest of its shell, evidence of an encounter with a boat propeller. It was old, and there wasn’t anything Asher could do about that.
He willed the water to lower the turtle back into the waves. “Stay out of the garbage and you’ll have a better life.” Asher projected the image of the turtle turning away from the floating trash island.
He saw a quick flash of something—it could’ve been a jellyfish, or it might’ve been a plastic garbage bag floating on the current. It was obvious from the intensity of it, the turtle liked to eat jellies.
“Be careful with what you choose.” Asher projected a scene of the turtle taking a good look before eating something.
Without another thought, the turtle disappeared into the waves, swimming away from the garbage.
Asher gained a little altitude, not enough that he’d be spotted by radar, but enough that he wasn’t constantly getting soaked by the waves he kicked up with each wing flap. It seemed like he was constantly finding critters in need of rescue. Every time he went out into the forest near Denver, he’d find a bear in a trap or a deer with holiday lights trapped in its antlers. He didn’t mind the saves, but he wished the humans would clean up their act so he didn’t have to spend so much of his rare free time picking up after them.
Closing his eyes, Asher thought about the coordinates of the island he was flying toward. Finding the island in his mind’s eye, he steered himself more toward the south, thankful to put the floating island of garbage far behind him. As he flew onward, he made a mental note to talk with his father and brothers to see what they could do to push through some new laws to help stop the polluting of the oceans. Maybe they could also find some scientists to come up with something to fix the problem so the turtles and the rest of the creatures who relied on the sea didn’t have to fear becoming entrapped by human carelessness.