Mating Flight, per se.
We came in over a desert. A nice healthy nonviolent nonindigo desert of inanimate orange-red sand with scrubby plants growing in it and obnoxious animals eating them and vicious animals eating them and gangly rude birds flying overhead to eat everything else after it dies.
So it’s nothing like home. I miss my raspy stormy purple sands. And I’m going to have to bathe in the river like everyone else.
Can I go home yet?
(Answer: No. I’ve got to be a good little dragoness and take up to twelve years and get married first.)
So we set off to find some good caves. Which means that the larger drakes flew around staring at things and not doing much good. Arilash and I tried to do that too, but Csirnis pointed out that this was the first real competition between the drakes and it wouldn’t help if one of us won it. Osoth landed and started dripping heavy quicksilver words on the ghosts of dead hovens, though it turned out to mostly be dead hoven bovines which weren’t much help. Nrararn conjured the airy spirits of Hove, and got into some sort of perplexing spat with them about the precise amount of service he can get from them for one hyargique-qua, whatever that is.
And Ythac cast some grownup spell, the Draft of Direction I think, and took us right to a nice pair of big dry sandy warm caves at the base of the Khamrou Voresc mountains.
“We’ve got two good caves. One for Arilash, one for Jyothky, and the rest of us stay with whichever one we’re coupling with?” said Nrararn, practically.
“Thats’ no good. I’ll be coupling with both of them most of the time,” said Llredh.
“Will you, now? Seems to me you’ll be waiting in line ‘til I’m satisfied,” said Greshthanu.
“Until we’re satisfied,” I hooted. I’m trying to get in the right spirit, really I am.
“Which for you is, well, probably never,” said Arilash. “I’m going to have to come rescue our poor helpless drakes from your clutches.” She is definitely in the right spirit.
“I do believe that Arilash has an Extremely Perspicuous Point,” said Tultamaan. “If the dragonesses and their current consorts get the Homelike and Cozy Caves, what homes do the other ones have? Will they Sleep Upon the Sands and Enjoy the Starry Skies, which upon this sort of world actually are Lacking In Stars? And where will they keep the Loot with which they will Inspire the Dragonesses to Further Amatory Activities?”
“That’s your problem. Won’t be mine,” said Greshthanu.
“What loot, anyways? We’re in an empty desert.” said Nrararn. “Lucky to find enough food.”
“There’s a big hoven city under an hour’s flight that way,” said Ythac, beaming a huge smile at Llredh. He cast the Word-Fox. “Called Ghemel. And there are smaller ones closer. Plenty to loot I think!”
Llredh chuffed. “The giant robots, I shall rend them apart! The swoon and the awe, they shall fall upon the girls!”
“Who can destroy them perfectly well themselves,” said Arilash.
“I will do it with such elegance and grace that you will instantly wish to couple with me!” said Llredh.
“Unpersuasive! I need no extra stimulation to wish to instantly wish to couple with you!” said Arilash, and flew in front of Llredh and spread her claspers lewdly. (Is it really lewd if you’re showing yourself to a fiancé? Maybe it’s just polite. Can it be both?) He responded in the drakish version of the same.
They circled each other twice, then came together with a loud crash, belly-scutes grinding against each other, eight wings pumping awkwardly to keep them more or less stationary in the air.
“Levitate, levitate! You’re falling!” hooted Greshthanu.
“We both know what we’re doing!” shouted Llredh back. “Unlike you!”
“Hey, I am not such a novice! I know how to mate with a dragoness,” yelled Greshthanu. “You have been mounting them for duodecades, yet, somehow, you still have no clue how to do it well!”
“I wouldn’t exactly say ‘no clue’,” warbled Arilash. “Speaking as an experienced dragoness who is well on her way to satisfaction from his efforts.”
«I don’t want to watch this,» Ythac wrote to me. «Perhaps you and I can go inspect the caves?»
«I don’t want to watch either,» I wrote back. «Let’s go.» I thought a bit and added, «Are you going to mate with me down there?» Most of the drakes seemed to be finding Llredh and Arilash’s performance a bit inspiring. Csirnis and Greshthanu were preparing to fight who would be next. I guessed that Ythac was trying to be kind to me. I’d rather not have my apparantly highly nonvirginal rival critiquing my first attempt at mating.
«Forgive me, but I’m feeling a bit unsettled. I’ve never seen my father so angry,» he wrote back. Which must be saying something. Rankotherium was always kind to me. But one day he ripped Ythac’s right forewing to ribbons for some minor bit of cowardice — choosing a “Caramelle” instead of a “Dominance” to fight Chevethna, and then healing her twice. Which was unfair I thought — there’s nothing cowardly about a “Caramelle” except the name, and that’s the fashionable way to fight duels these days anyways.
«I’m not in quite the hurry that Arilash is either,» I wrote back. «Let’s just look at the caves.»