“Why are we flying away?” asked Tarcuna calmly. “I only caught a word here and there.”
“And that word was probably vulgar,” I said, “That’s all that Llredh said in Hoven languages.”
“Your friend got freed, right? That’s why he ripped his chest up?”
“Llredh got freed. I don’t know that he’s my friend, or Ythac,” I said.
“He did the surgery on himself? That’s a bit tough.”
“Yes. I don’t think anything could have stood between Llredh and his revenge. Certainly not Llredh’s own scales and bones.”
“But he’s all right now?”
“Yes, I think so. Our healing spells work better on us than on you, and he wasn’t nearly as badly hurt as you were,” I answered. “I don’t know for sure. My horrible ex-fiancé and my rival are taking care of him. I can’t imagine that he could be in much trouble with that much help.”
“Ythac,” I said.
“Last I heard, he was your best friend and likely husband…?”
I turned my head back to glare at her briefly. It’s a good thing I broke her ability to experience fear. “He loves another male dragon. I can’t marry someone like that. I can’t imagine how to even tolerate someone like that.”
She shrugged. “You and my mother.”
“I’ve mostly loved other girl hovens. Or doesn’t it count when non-dragons do that?” said Tarcuna. “It sure counted for my mother; she disinherited me. Better dump my perverted ass off your back right now.”
“I am not going to kill you, Tarcuna. It is such bad form to save someone’s life and have them help out and then to kill them,” I said.
“And it’s good form to abandon a friend on one of the most important days of his life?”
“I can’t think what might be good form under the circumstances,” I said.
“What are they doing back there?” said Tarcuna.
“I don’t want to think about that. They didn’t even have the clawtip of a decency for one of them to turn into a girl,” I snapped.
“I mean with the explosions… is that part of dragons making love?”
“Not generally,” I said, and looked back. Hovens were assaulting the other dragons from the ground with artillery and purple rays, and from the air from many planes. A moderate amount of Port-of-Zom was ablaze.
«Are you all right?» I wrote frantically to Ythac.
«We’re fine! We got interrupted by some soldiers though. Want to help us? I’d really appreciate some lightning now,» he answered.
«Yes. Don’t think you’re forgiven though,» I scribbled to him. “I’m going back to help. I’ll put you down, it’s safer.”
“Oh, don’t! I want to stay with you! This should be exciting to see from your back!” chirped Tarcuna.
“You are very mind-broken,” I said.
“So true! But I might as well enjoy it,” she said.
The Battle of Port-of-Zom
So I turned and flew back with my hoven on my back. The others were having trouble with the warplanes. Fire breath can go reasonably far, but it cannot go reasonably far very fast, and the planes were dodging around too much to be convenient targets for fire breath. They had some sort of technologically magical torpedoes, too, which curved and twisted in the air, and if they missed the first time, would try twice or thrice more. And of course my friends had to pay attention to any number of assaults from the ground too, artillery and twistor rays and such.
So I touched this plane and that with lightning. Sometimes they exploded. Sometimes they stopped dodging and zipping around, and their momentum carried them off away from the fight. Sometimes they simply sprouted big burny holes in the side, and fled under their own power. Lightning is happy to be both far and fast, though you can’t melt mountains with it when you’re upset.
The airplanes were mostly gone by the time I got back to Port-of-Zom. Llredh wriggled happily at me — I’ve never seen him so happy. “Thanks so much, Jyothky!” he cried out in Trestean.
“Well, sure… what are you doing?”
“The city of my humiliation, I am destroying her! The armies of defenders, my husband and my lovers are holding them back.”
“The whole city?” shouted Tarcuna. “They’d hate the wormridden as much as you do!”
“Come not between the dragon and his vengeance!” cried Llredh.
“I’m not, but if you get vengeance on the wrong thing, it’s pretty stupid vengeance!” shouted Tarcuna.
“The girl who rides you, she is very chatty!” remarked Llredh. “If she were off your back, I would slay her.” A heavy shell exploded under his belly, and he grunted and put the Rose Rescaler into himself.
“The girl who rides me, she saved you nearly as much as Ythac, and without half the reward.” (And without half the indecency, either, but I didn’t say that.) “And she knows more about hovens and cyoziworms than you do.”
Llredh flew down a bit, to where his breath was hot enough to melt the gun which had shot him. “My revenge, my vast and terrible revenge, what does your expert recommend I do for her?” he called up to us, as he dodged and blasted an assortment of other missiles.
“Let’s go somewhere quiet and discuss it. It looks to me like all of your actual enemies here are dead, and lots of the hovens who should be your allies against them too,” said Tarcuna. “And you’re killing your allies by the tens and hundreds.”
“Besides, we’ve got about five hemipenises more to go,” said Ythac. “I am not letting you get out of that!”
“This battle, it looks like we have won her?” We looked around. Fourteen of the twenty planes were destroyed, the rest were fled, and two dozen tanks and cannons. Which was a third or five-twelfths of the big weapons that had come against us. We hadn’t particularly been bothering with the less well-armed soldiers, who hadn’t done much more than scramble around and try to look fierce and/or effective. A half-mile square and more was ablaze, in a big wobbly circle around the former wormhouse. “My revenge, my fury, Port-of-Zom will not soon forget him!” cried Llredh.
The rest of us agreed that honor and violence were satisfied for the moment. Arilash darted around and touched put the Melismatic Tempest into us. We flew away tremendously fast, leaving trails of spiky music behind us. Within the hour, the Vlechinse army congratulated themselves on the radio on their victory over four dragons.