The weekend passed rather uneventfully; the only complicated thing I had to do was tell my parents another carefully prepared lie so I could get extra lessons from Teresa on Mondays. This time I’d thought hard about it, practiced, and come up with a difficult to refute alibi. I told them I was going to be getting tutored in PreCal. Not only were they satisfied with this but my mother actually commended me for not being afraid to get help when I needed it. I wondered what I would say when my PreCal grade inevitably failed to improve.
Because of the block scheduling, I didn’t have any classes with Fay on Monday. She tried to catch me in the hallway to talk to me about something but then the bell rang and we had to go to our respective classes. So it didn’t seem like long at all before my first Monday lesson with Teresa rolled around.
"We’re doing things a little differently today," she said as we walked into her apartment. She sat down at the kitchen table. There was a shoe box sitting in front of her.
"Pull up a chair," she said. "Banana?"
I sat down and took the banana. It was good.
"Okay, we’re gonna start with some conceptual stuff today," she said, "It might get a little boring, but bare with me; its important for you to know this stuff. OK?"
"Okay," she continued. "As far as we know, the draconics of the world represent seven species’ of dragons – there were probably many more, but only eight capable of morphing into humans and thus, of becoming draconics. These eight species have become what we call the classes of draconics, which are named based on their predominant color. You know about those?"
"Wait a minute," I asked, "I’m confused. You said seven, then you said eight,"
"Everybody’s pretty sure the Copper draconics are all dead," she answered, "Demetrius Kane was supposedly the last one. There’s no way to be certain though,"
"Gotcha," I answered, "Eight species, one probably extinct,"
"Good," said Teresa, "Now, the eight classes are, supposedly from weakest to strongest, Black, Blue, Green, Red, Copper, Bronze, Silver (that’s you), and Gold (that’s me). Got that?"
"If the coppers are supposed to be extinct, why keep mentioning them?" I asked.
"Cause we’re not sure," she answered, "There have been rumors. We won’t go into detail, but if you see one you should recognize him… or her. Now.."
She opened the shoe box and pulled out a small figurine about two inches high. It was a draconic, kind of like Teresa and me, but wingless, with an unusually long tail, two L-shaped horns that curved forward, and little spikes all over its body. It was jet black with a maroon stripe on its back.
"This is a black," said Teresa. "They’re considered the weakest because they can’t fly or breathe fire or anything. They do, however, have a pretty much instantly deadly poison in their stingers. They can fight pretty fiercely, too. And, like you, they can hold their breath indefinitely under water,"
She pulled out a second figure from the box. This one was much larger, still wingless, but bulky and muscular. It had a huge horn coming out of its snout and a tail like a spiked mace. It was colored electric blue.
"This is a blue," she said, turning it around in her fingers. She was eyeing it almost reverently, as if it were some sort of holy relic. "According to the government classification system, they’re the second weakest, but anyone whose seen one fight will tell you otherwise. They’re very strong, and that horn on the top of the head can shoot an electric charge a short distance. And although they can’t fly, they’re still quite a bit faster than they look,"
She stared fondly at it a moment before she put it down. It reminded me of the look on Jason’s face whenever he gazed at Marissa. She pulled out a third figure. This one was in flight. It was green, with large wings like mine, and a tail ending in a stinger similar to the one on the black. It looked very much like the dragon you always see in old illustrations for fantasy books. Then she pulled out a another figure, this one red. Though it’s wings were smaller, and it was slightly larger, it looked a lot like the green one.
"Reds and Greens." she said, "The two most common classes on the planet. Greens are the best long distance flyers aside from silvers, and they breathe this acidic gas that can eat through just about anything. They can also paralyze someone with their stingers. Reds don’t have the sting, nor do they fly quite as well, but they breathe fire in a wide spread and they don’t go down easily,"
She pulled out a copper colored figure with a huge head, set it down and then reached back in and withdrew easily the largest figure I’d seen yet. It looked like a huge man in bronze plate armor, with the head of an enormous alligator and a very short tail which barely touched the ground.
"Ok, I said I wouldn’t go into detail on coppers, so I won’t. That’s what one looked like though," –she indicated the copper figure – "just so you know,"
She picked up the larger one. "The bronze draconic is built like a tank. Just about everything bounces off that armor – bullets, fire, rocket-propelled grenades. They can also spit fire balls amazing distances. Unfortunately, they’re so weighed down they’re nearly incapable of walking, much less flying. Which brings us," she pulled out a familiar looking figure, "To you,"
"Any questions on what I’ve said so far before we go on?" she asked, standing up.
I couldn’t think of any, so I shrugged my shoulders.
"Okay then," said Teresa, "Let’s change,"
She pulled off her shirt, turned around and grabbed her battle garment. A few minutes later we were back in dragon form.
"I thought it kind of silly to use the models for this part," she growled, as I followed her to the bathroom, "Seeing as we have life-sized versions at our disposal. Okay, here we go,"
I found myself standing in front of the full length mirror. I took a moment to take in my reflection.
"You and I are pretty lucky, Skyler," roared Teresa, "Between us, we’re the two most powerful, dangerous classes of draconic out there. Those huge wings make you the fastest long-distance flyer in the MLF, as soon as you learn how to use ‘em. You’re also capable of breathing a steady stream of compressed cold air which if used properly can freeze a person alive. And the stinger on the end of your tail will put anyone into a deep dreamless sleep for hours. You’re definitely the most versatile type of draconic,"
"Does the stinger stay in someone after I sting them?" I asked.
"Like a bee?" said Teresa, "No. Actually your stinger is something we’re gonna touch on today. I need my moment of narcissism first. So enough about you, lets talk about me,"
"Okay," I said, "What can you do?"
"Shapable fire," she answered, "Watch this,"
A line of fire came out of her mouth, stopping when it hit the wall. where it stopped, it expanded into a large circle, about four feet in diameter, hanging in the air just in front of the wall. Then she turned it into a square, then a trapezoid, then it spread apart and disappeared.
‘Very useful, that," she said. "I’m not a bad flyer, either, although I’m afraid your always gonna beat me at that. Now just a moment and we’ll head to the exercise room for some stinger training,"
She headed to the entrance way and flipped a switch on her intercom.
"You’re all clear," said Pat’s voice on the other end. Teresa growled a ‘thank you’.
We headed down the hallway to the gym. When we got their, I was a bit startled to see it already occupied – by another draconic.
It was a black – only a little over five feet tall and covered in spikes, with a long tail that ended above his head. He was standing in front of a punching bag, thrusting his tail into it.
"Kevin?" said Teresa.
"Oh hey," he answered. His voice sounded higher pitched than any of the draconics I’d heard, almost like a small dog, "I was wondering when you’d get here. This the new recruit?"
It was actually refreshing to be referred to as ‘the new recruit,’ rather than "The great Skyler Woods Brimmer.
"Kevin has a stinger," said Teresa, "I don’t. So I thought I’d let him show you a few things,"
"Glad to help," said the small black, "I mean, say what you will about the Brimmers, a Silver is a Silver - Lord knows we could use the firepower,"
"So there aren’t any other silvers in the NA?" I asked.
"Aside from your sister," said Teresa, "And your mother if she’s still alive, there aren’t any other silvers in the whole MLF,"
"Like I said," said Kevin, "We could use the firepower. Let’s get started, shall we? Now, it’s a simple matter of thrusting your tail into the victim. That much you could figure out on your own, of course, but try it for me, will ya?"
I clumsily poked my tail into the punching bag in front of me.
"That’s a poke," chirped the small draconic. "If you want to poison someone, you gotta put some power into it. Thrust,"
After five or six more tries, I got it. Next, Kevin showed me how to feint with my claws, and strike with the tail unexpectedly. About half an hour later Teresa stopped us.
"You probably need to get home now," said Teresa, "We don’t want your parents thinking you’re too enthusiastic about PreCalculus,"
"I’ve taught him the basics," said Kevin, "It’s really just a matter of practice now. I’ll see you around, Skyler," He walked out of the gym.
"Does he live here?" I asked, as we headed back to Teresa’s apartment.
"Yeah, he just moved in about a week ago. He used to be one of the Knights of Ontario,"
"Knights of Ontario?" I asked.
"A Canadian sect of the MLF," answered Teresa. "He agreed to join the NA, but he wants as few people as possible to know it. He thinks are security is far too lax. Apparently the Knights never see each other in human form or use their real names so that if one was captured he wouldn’t be able to betray any others,"
We got to the door. Teresa immediately morphed back into a woman and began to get dressed. I followed suit. Once she was dressed, she put the figures back in the box and closed it. Then she took her car keys off the hook.
"Let’s get you home," she said. I followed her out the door.