At length we passed through a metal door marked "Break Room". Beyond it was a round chamber of ruined wonders. A couch upholstered in the insanely-smooth lavender hide of some peculiar beast — a monstrously huge beast, for there were no seams — but the beast's thin hide had ripped in several spots, which were patched with crude nonmatching sticky things. A buzzing globe of light that appeared at Trocky's touch, white rather than the orange-green of Pugnard's brazier, so dangerous that they had to be trapped in glass and shielded by cloth. A miraculously-printed box of oat-cakes, proclaimed delicious by the images of distorted gods or heroes on the package, and also by the devourings of small insects which scattered at Trocky's light-blade. («Cuisine», which I neo-reflexively asked, was less impressed with it.)
Hditr tugged at Trocky's belt. "Ach, you'll need this leathery ligature lightened!"
Trocky giggled. "You talk funny!" Her belt crashed to the floor in a clangor of jilted tools.
"Not just do I talk funny! I play funny too!" said Hditr proudly. She insinuated her hand into Trocky's waistband, and Trocky kissed her on the nose.
"Um ... are you two ... about to ... well ... bodily ... enjoyment ... things?" asked Eric, who had turned a quite amazing reddish-orange.
"Yes!" said both badgers.
Eric tried to grab me by the tail. It would have worked if he had been material. "Tllith! We have to get out of here!"
I blinked at him. "Why?"
"They're doing something that only adults should see! You're still a young girl!"
"I'm not! I mean, I'm young, but I haven't picked girl or boy yet," I explained. "And they're just having sex, I think. We intruded on Trocky's territory."
Eric waved his hands frantically. "No! I mean yes! They're about to have sex! We have to leave!"
I rubbed my cheeks together. "OK, I am a bit confused. I thought Hditr was female..."
"I am!" said Hditr, who was by this time showing a great deal of grizzled fur.
"... and that Trocky was too ..."
"She is! I am checking the matter right now!" said Hditr, with her hands in Trocky's pants.
Eric glared at me. "That. Has. Nothing. To. Do. With. It."
I crouched defensively. "Well, if they were dragons — of Yirien, not the huge extortionate person we are fleeing from — they'd fight if they were the same sex, and mate if they were the opposite. And they'd be done already."
"We," said Trocky, "are barely even started!"
"We," said Eric, "are getting the fuck out of here."
"Aren't we actually going to leave the fuck in here?" I asked.
"Right. We're leaving the fuck in here. Hditr, Trocky, we're going to be in the corridor outside. Come get us when you are done," said Eric. He tried to tug me outside. He couldn't, of course, but I followed him.
"Don't touch any of the generators, or melt the wiring!" cried Trocky. Then, a very happy "Oh!"
So we waited in a huge room full of growling generators and wailing wiring for about forever or so.
"Why are they taking so long? It's been at least five minutes" I complained. Then six, seven, eight, and so on.
When I was up to twenty, Eric answered, "When two grown-ups are trying to enjoy each others' bodies, they usually take a long time. They might go all night."
"I don't want to stay here all night!" I whined.
"I don't either. It's uncomfortable and brutal, and I can't even feel," said the ghost.
Eric strode back and forth. He tried to stomp. Maybe he did, but it didn't work.
"Eric? Why are you so upset? I stopped counting eleven minutes ago," I said.
"Just my bad luck. I get to a place where, I mean, um, girls can pick up girls on the drop of a ... tool-belt," he said. He got even brighter reddish-orange.
"You're not a girl, though, right?" I asked.
"Heh. No," he said.
"Why should that matter to you then?"
"Enough, Tllith," he said, and refused to say anything more about it.
I took a nap. Maybe two.
The Break Room door opened, and a pair of mostly-dressed badger women tumbled out, laughing. "Would you believe it, Eric?" said Hditr. "She asks me for a 'standard', and I give her a 'standard', and then she complains that I didn't give her a 'standard'."
"That's because it wasn't a 'standard'! It was a 'regular'!" said Trocky.
"Then I say 'What's a 'standard' to you then?', and she tells me things. And boil my boobies if she doesn't call a 'normal' a 'standard'!" crows Hditr.
"It's you that have it wrong! That's not a 'normal'! A 'normal' is what you call an 'ordinary'!"
The badgers hugged, and giggled.
"Are badgers always like that after sex?" I asked Eric. "Dragons aren't. Of Yirien I mean. They're usually rather cross. The females at least. The males get away, fast."
"... You know badgers better than I do. I never saw one before I met Hditr and you at Drullguur," said Eric.
"Speaking of sex!" said Trocky.
"Which we weren't! We were just sharing a spot of satisfaction!" proclaimed Hditr.
"No, but your human friend was," said Trocky. "Are you pregnant, Hditr? You don't seem like it very much."
Hditr shook her head sadly. "No. I got into some politics about that at home on Nurki — a bit of indescretion with the wrong bishop's wife at the wrong time, you see —
"You said husband, Hditr," noted Eric.
"OK, OK, a lot of indescretions with a lot of bishop's spouses. Nearly turned the caste system on its head, I did. Anyhow, thirteen year vow of chastity going on here. Curse it," said Hditr.
"So how pregnant are you?" asked Trocky in a very sympathetic voice.
"Two, I think," said Hditr.
"That's gruesome," said Trocky. "Come home with me. I'll have my husband knock you up. Unless you're worried by that vow of course."
"Vow, vow, vow-wow-wow, viddle-ve-vee. Hythace doesn't care a bit about that stuff, and I don't care what the hierarchy says when they can't see it," said Hditr. "And not much when they cnibbly can see it, even."
Eric whined, "What is going on?"
I attempted to explain, but, as I didn't know either, he was not enlightened.