Zeke swore and yanked the steering wheel to the left, narrowly missing a tower over Cavaheim's wall. The blue convertible soared around it, cutting angles that would have been impossible in an airplane. Arrows from the soldiers below shot past them.
"Please don't do that again," Professor Gordon muttered.
Zeke glanced at the man beside him. Gordon's face was in shadow, but his eyes were wide and horrified. In the rearview mirror, Zeke could see the two Vayna warriors were equally distressed.
"Relax, everyone. We're coming up on the rendezvous point."
They glided over the city, gaslights lining the streets below and glowing dim in the windows of the boxy homes.
" Gordon, I see you ," said Colonel Martin's voice over the radio. "We're hiding in a grove of trees at your two o'clock."
"Two, what?" Gordon said, staring down at the radio.
"I see it," Zeke said, turning the wheel. The car veered over a row of low houses. "Tell him we'll be there in thirty seconds."
They found the colonel with two others crouched in the shadows. As Zeke descended, the car's headlights illuminated them all.
"Good God," Gordon exclaimed.
The colonel jogged towards the car with a teen-age girl and...
Zeke blinked. One of the colonel's companions wasn't human. The creature was shorter than a man but stood on two legs. Its head was toad-like, and its wide mouth bisected its head. As the others ran, it took short leaps towards the car.
The colonel leaned over the driver's-side door. "The Ord surveillance is down. Marty and Bethany here saw to that."
"Who?" Zeke stared up at him. "Colonel who are these... uh... people."
Marty the toad whistled. "Flying car. Now that's just crazy. We could do a lot of damage with this."
The colonel nodded. "That's what I'm counting on. Marty, you said you have a cache of weapons outside the city?"
The toad nodded. "We found an old gas station up on the ridge a couple days back. Lots of gasoline, used oil and old bottles."
The colonel smiled. "Molotov cocktails."
The toad grinned back. "That's the idea."
"So we're going to fire bomb the prison from above?" Zeke asked.
The colonel shook his head. "The Ord are stronger than us in the air," he said. "They've got dragons. I'm surprised they haven't come for you already."
"So what do we do?"
"I will rendezvous with Marty and Bethany's friends." He turned to the girl. "Do you know how to find them?"
A distant explosion sent birds flying from the trees.
"Follow the noise," Bethany said.
"Marty, you can show Zeke here where your bomb cache is. I'll go meet the troll with Bethany and..." he pointed at the Vayna warriors and waved them over. "Ruku and Eski, you're with me."
"Troll?" Gordon asked.
"Zeke and Gordon, your job is to lure soldiers and dragons away from the prison. Make as much noise and fire as you can. Keep in mind that the soldiers aren't entirely at fault here. But the Ord..." The colonel pointed at Zeke's rifle slung next to his seat. "No mercy, got it?"
"Did you say you were meeting a troll," Professor Gordon repeated.
* * *
They dumped the sodas in the trunk and filled the cooler with bottles of gasoline and oil, each one stuffed with a strip of old rag. Gordon and Marty sat in the back seat, the cooler between them.
Zeke radioed the colonel as he flew back towards the city walls. "We've got the payload. When do you want us to start the distraction?"
The radio was silent.
"So, you got one arm," Marty said, grinning in the dark at Gordon. "Not much good in a fight."
Gordon stammered, uneasy with his new comrade. "I suspect that's why the colonel left me in the car."
"You got a lighter?"
Gordon raised his Zippo and flipped it open. The low flame sputtered and blew out.
"Hold it low behind the seat. You can light me up, and I'll do the throwing."
The radio crackled. Zeke held it up. "Colonel, you there?"
" Now, Zeke ," the colonel shouted. "Light 'em up!"
The car passed twenty feet over the city wall. "You heard the man!"
Marty pulled a bottle out, held it low, and Gordon lit it.
"Banzai!" Marty shouted as he tossed it at a guardhouse at the top of the wall. The roof burst into a shower of flames. Soldiers leapt out of the structure, wailing with surprise.
They followed the city wall, leaving a trail of flame that lit the night sky. Soldiers ran from their posts, and only a few of them shot arrows at the intruders.
"Go easy on those, Prof," Zeke called back. "Make them count. How many do we have left?"
Gordon felt around in the dark cooler. "There's plenty more."
"Huh, well, keep going."
The first dragon attacked from above, and none of the car's occupants saw it coming until it was almost too late. A pair of taloned feet swung down, stabbing forward to tear out the car's occupants. It nearly grazed Marty's head. "Shit," he cried. But instead of retreating, he leapt up and wrapped his arms around the creature's leg.
The dragon reared back, its claw missing its mark and catching the seat behind Zeke's head, tearing back on the leather. Zeke didn't know what was happening until he heard the dragon's roar. He spun the wheel, the car jerked to the left, and the headlights caught three more dragons with their riders approaching fast.
"Toady," Zeke cried. "Take my rifle and get ready to shoot those bastards."
"Uh, the toad man is gone," Gordon said.
Just then, the Ord priest from the first dragon plummeted inches from Zeke's door, wailing. In instant later, Marty landed in the front passenger seat. He picked up the rifle and aimed in one fluid moment. The dragons were closing fast as he fired. One rider cried out.
"Now drive!" Marty shouted.
Zeke hit the gas. The car exploded forward, nearly causing Marty to topple. He steadied himself, his bare foot gripping on the door's handle, and took three more shots.
"Are they keeping up with us?" Zeke asked.
"Not quite," Gordon said.
"Chuck a fireball at them."
"Very well." Gordon held the lighter with his slung arm. He lit a rag and tossed the bottle. It fell far short of its mark, arcing down and exploding into the trees outside the city wall.
"Oh, dear," Gordon said.
"There should be more dragons," Zeke said. "According to Chandra, they've got three dozen all together, and—"
Zeke faced forward in time to find three more dragons in front of them, each one flapping in place. A flash of green light pulsed out from a rider. The bolt hit Zeke square in the chest. Zeke slumped, pushing the wheel forward. The car lurched into a dive.
"Whoa," Marty shouted. He dropped the rifle in the back seat and tugged Zeke back. "Hey, one-arm, give me a hand."
More blasts of green and blue energy followed them as Marty yanked the wheel and banked them out of their dive. With his other hand, he pushed at Zeke while Gordon pulled the unconscious man towards the back seat. A dragon descended, its two clawed forefeet catching the back of both front seats and pulling them back. The car bucked.
Marty slipped into the driver's seat and gunned the engine. The dragon flapped above, keeping pace.
"Yeah, well try this," Marty shouted. He punched the brakes. The car stopped mid-air, and the dragon rolled forward, launching its rider into the air alone. The dragon spun down, righted itself mid-air and flew away.
"You can fly this?" Gordon said, as another dragon swooped overhead and a green flash hit the seat beside him.
Marty cranked the wheel and gunned the engine. "Looks like," he said as they shot away. "This thing is faster than the dragons, and we're more maneuverable. We'll have them all crying mercy before this night is over."
The car shot over the city, the remaining five dragons now joined by two more.
"What do we do now?" Gordon asked.
"I don't know. Throw more bombs."