A lot of guys claim to have hot girlfriends. David Fraser has one who actually breathes fire.
Rose Drake is a Dragoness in Human form, come to Earth for three years to soak up the local energy and increase her chances of having happy, healthy, baby hatchlings when she goes home. In exchange for his time and energy, David’s body and love life both undergo extreme makeovers. It sounds like the deal of a lifetime.
Fate doesn’t let David and Rose off so easily. A friend of theirs is murdered, their homeowner’s association starts harassing them, and they have to complete a quest for an Elven sage in order to stop a genocidal Unicorn from turning Earth into a radioactive wasteland.
After all, when you’re dating a Dragon, you’re already a hero. It says so in the fine print.
This time the spiders didn’t wait for us to open the door. The wood shattered and giant, hairy bodies launched themselves at us. I cut two down with one stroke, then stabbed a third through one of its eye sockets.
Ember fell back, outside my range of vision. I heard her kiai and a loud, wet splat. No screams, so I advanced.
Jake pulled his Room Broom, a pistol-grip pump action shotgun, and emptied shell after shell into the mass of spiders filling the work room. Miranda was keeping an eye on the ceiling, blasting any creepy-crawlies trying to flank us.
The mass of bodies parted enough for me to glimpse two large boxes on the floor, almost the size of shipping crates. “Fall back! Don’t fire into the storeroom! Choke them at the door!”
Ember skipped outside, turning to scan the area while she kept her meteor hammer swinging. A Rottweiler-sized spider jumped at her from the underbrush. She caught it across the mandibles, knocking it to the side. It sprang back to its feet and charged right into the point of my sword.
Miranda ran out of shotgun shells and drew her Glock. She slung the shotgun over her shoulder and started pumping rounds into spider heads, two shots at a time. Double tap works for spiders as well as zombies.
Outside the shop, I stabbed my sword into the ground and drew my bow. “Jake! Fall back, now!” Even with an extended magazine, his shotgun was empty as well. He tossed a flash-bang and ducked outside. The concussion stopped the mob for a few seconds, but it was enough for Jake to get his AR-15 unslung.
As the spiders reached the shop’s doorway, I aimed and fired as fast as I could, trying to block the exit with their corpses. It was a good plan, but I didn’t have enough arrows. I drew my sword again and looked around, trying to spot our air cover.
Rose and Harmony were laying down a wall of fire partway up the mountain side. The slope seemed to be a solid mass of spider bodies, but for now the Dragon-fire was holding them at bay.
The wall of spider bodies blocking the doorway heaved and the bodies spilled out onto the ground. Jake fired three quick bursts into the shop, but there was no response. Miranda loaded the last of her loose shotgun shells into her magazine and moved to the side to cover the door.
“I think we should look somewhere else,” Jake called out. “They really like this place.”
“Negative,” I replied. “I saw two big crates in there. If they’re the ones we need, we can wrap it up here.”
Ember screamed, grabbing at her back. Miranda knocked the spider away and shot it as it landed. She got Ember’s arm around her shoulder and shouted, “Ember’s bit! Find out what’s in there, fast!”
Jake tossed me a big can of pepper spray and pulled his gas mask down over his face. I put mine on as well and we charged the door, spraying everything in front of us. I checked the corners and didn’t see anything moving; by the time I looked up it was almost too late. A kick from two hairy legs knocked Jake into the storeroom while a stinger the size of my forearm stabbed me in the chest. It knocked the wind out of me but my armor held. I staggered back as the spider shifted to try again. I flooded the base of the abdomen with pepper spray, hoping to hit the lungs. I must have succeeded, as the thing dropped to the ground. I took its head off with one stroke.
I heard Jake swearing and I headed to the storage room. He was face down with a spider on top of him, chomping down on his helmet. I gave it a shot of pepper spray and chopped down on it once it moved off Jake. I helped Jake up and we kicked spider corpses aside until we could get to the crates.
Jackpot. Both wooden crates had the bamboo-looking rune painted on them. I grabbed a hammer and pried the lid off one. Every box in it bore the seal we needed. I hammered the lid back on and jerked my thumb at the door. “We’re good! Clear the road!” I stacked one crate on the other and hoisted both in my arms. Jake covered the corners and kicked a few spider bodies out of the way as we charged outside. I set the crates down and grabbed the radio. “Marines! We are leaving!”
Jake and I wrestled the crates into the last two storage bags and lashed them closed. Rose kept up the air patrol while Harmony hunkered down so we could load the bags into the travel trunk on her back. The opening was almost too small, but the trunk itself was another dimensional storage space, so there was plenty of room once the shipping crates were actually inside it. We weren’t quite finished when the ground started heaving. I shoved the second crate in and latched the trunk.
A quarter of a mile away, midway up the mountain slope, all manner of spiders spilled out of a long-disused mineshaft. Rose swooped down to lay down a stream of fire, but the flood of arachnid bodies overwhelmed and smothered the wall of flame. She pulled up and started climbing, setting up for another pass, when the side of the mountain collapsed. I don’t have arachnophobia, but I still damn near shit my pants.
The thing’s body was as large as my house. Hairy, spiked joints and the familiar red and orange carapace. Mandibles big enough to crush a car. It screeched and started down the mountain toward us.