Ythac and I flew for Trest. More accurately, Ythac and I and eleven sylphs (courtesy of Nrararn) and thirty vengeful ghosts of recently-dead Zeanese (courtesy of Osoth) and an assortment of spells (courtesy of almost everyone) flew for Trest. Not Greshthanu’s ghost — that would be disrespectful. The Melismatic Tempest was certainly going to be useful, and the Horizonal Quill if Ythac and I got separated. The rest we thought of as mainly well-wishes by our friends.
“I’m still waiting for you to break my wings,” said Ythac.
“Not today. We’re busy, today,” I told him.
“I suppose … we can take a few minutes out and take care of it,” he said. “Revenge will keep.”
“I don’t want to do a rush job of it,” I said. “I want it to count.”
“Well, of course. I don’t think you’re going to forgive me ‘til you do it.”
“I don’t think I’m going to do it ‘til I forgive you!” I said. “And that won’t be today.”
“If you and the Tresteans kill me today, I’ll be upset, forgiven or not,” said Ythac.
“That’s not even a good joke. I’m not going to kill you. I’m trying to figure out whether we can be friends or not, is all. I can’t even trust you. You said that you loved me. Not something reasonable like you thought you could learn to love me after being married together for a few duodecades. That you actually loved me right then.”
He looked miserable a bit. “Well, you’re my best friend. That’s a kind of love, isn’t it?”
“A better kind than the one you actually use the word ‘love’ for these days! And pretty much a lie.”
Ythac said darkly, “I was hoping to bind myself by my words. I don’t much like being what I am. I ought to love you, I do love you by some meaning of the word. I was hoping that, if I told you, if I promised, I would do it.”
I snorted sparks of lightning. “Didn’t work, did it? The first chance you had to love another drake, you took.”
Ythac hissed at me. “I had to save Llredh! I could hardly leave him as the slave of a worm!”
“I think that two or three of us could have knocked him down and given him surgery. Or maybe he’d have shifted back to protect himself and the worm, and that would have freed him too. You didn’t have to do what you did!” I was roaring by that point.
“Maybe be a bit quieter, Jyothky? There are planes over there; they can maybe hear you. Shall we kill them?” I looked over to the left, where Ythac was looking. Half a dozen jets were flying more or less towards us. Zooming much faster than I can fly naturally, but rather dawdling compared to flying with the Melismatic Tempest.
“They did kill my fiancé, so killing them would be a good idea. Except not them, just their comrades-in-arms. Let’s not get distracted today. Especially let’s not get distracted and have an aerial duel with some stupid fighter jets and get twisted to bits by the Peace Everywhere Array,” I said. “Besides, they don’t seem to see us.” Someday they’ll figure out how to see through the Esrret-Sky-Painted, I’m sure.
“OK! I just don’t want you to think that I’m not brave enough. ‘cause of who I love, I mean.”
I had to think about that, as we crossed the official border into Trest. “You haven’t been such a Tultamaan the last few days. The way you rescued Llredh was brave. Disgusting, but brave. And if you’re going to act married with him and bring him to Mhel, that’s awfully brave.”
“Good … My father was always after me to be a better drake. Braver, prettier, stronger, tougher. Fightier toward other drakes.”
“He knew about you and other drakes?”
“Oh, yes. For years before you and I met. And here we are, at the Magistrate Beanfeld Array Site.” We circled twice to look at it. It wasn’t a very impressive place: an octagon of big tents, and some paved roads connecting them, spread out over a quarter of a mile, surrounded by coils of sharp wire and a few sheds with a few soldiers as guards. Ythac poked with a finding spell. “The actual twistor projectors are in the first and fourth tents.”
“Destroy all the tents anyways?” I asked. “Impress them with the thoroughness of our power?”
“Maybe just the ones with twistors,” he said. “Impress them with the precision of our power. Thoroughness means we should go back and blast those jets.”
So we burnt just the two tents. Each one had a heavy apparatus the size of a small house. The chimney — a heavy tube of metal, painted purple, with a few pipes or cables around it — was mounted on gimbals, with motors, so that it could point at any part of the sky. A heavier cable, thicker than my tail, connected the base of the tube to the rest of the house: one moderate-sized engine which produced the twistor beam proper, and some huge lifter machines for changing the batteries quickly. The batteries were huge tubs of orange metal. If one were knocked flat, I could have sprawled on it, head and body. I don’t think I’m strong enough to knock one flat just by force though. I’d need a lever, or some burrowing, or some such.
“Precision is all very well, but let’s ruin it completely at least,” I said. I melted the engines and the gimbals with fire breath, and they ran and stank and puffed out noxious smoke. Ythac breathed fire on a battery, which just melted a bit. Then he grinned at me, and we conspired, and he breathed darkness on while I breathed deep metal-shrinking cold. Its casing failed, and it started to unwind. A battery that big can store a great deal of torque, and when it unwinds, it can throw many things around rather quickly. Ythac and I flew half a mile up, and we still had to dodge lumps of stone and metal.
“I don’t think that counts as ‘precision’ exactly, Ythac,” I said, when the whirling violence had stopped.
“No, nor ‘our power’ either, exactly, since we mostly let their power out. Nice and destructive though. Shall we do another one, or should we go on to the other eighty-one installations?”
“Another one. We might as well have fun with this chore,” I said. We flew as high as we could and still reach the battery with cold and darkness. The second battery’s casing shattered beneath our combined breaths, and we flew away giggling as the hovens’ hoarded power wrecked their own weapon camp.
Our attendant ghosts cheered. I suppose that was useful of them.
Ythac and I grinned at each other, too. There’s no remedy for a spat between friends like visiting flaming, whirling death upon your enemies.