The general didn’t answer me. “Darrir, do your best to keep the monster under control. See if you can get him out of the middle of the room.”
Darrir sat by my head. “You realize that you’re making everything more awkward here?”
We debated the etiquette of slithering into the enemy’s command center and sitting in the middle of the room for a while. I had to concede that it was impolite to take up the whole aisle, forcing the officers to either step on me or take the long way. I didn’t move, though. I didn’t see any reason to be polite. The officers were all very nervous during this discussion, and getting more nervous as it went on.
Then the general shouted “Catastrophe Agenda!” at me, half in Ghemelian, half in Damman.
“What? Oh, right!” I said, and did my best to go limp.
The officers looked greatly relieved. “Such big monsters, and all it takes is a magic word to destroy them.” Several military guards came into the theatre carrying a few big rocket guns of the sort they use to explode tanks. The guns muttered a moderate degree of danger.
“I wasn’t expecting that to work,” Crane said. “Implement plan seven. This one’s a hostage ‘til the situation’s resolved in the field.”
“Sure, but I’m not leaving the theatre,” I said.
General Crane smiled. “I don’t believe you have a choice in the matter, do you?”
I flapped my wings. “I’m not leaving! The fight’s started!” We all looked at the big screen. Csirnis and Nrararn were levitating in the middle air, side by side, as dozens of war planes flew towards them. Csirnis breathed lightning, a thin delicate bolt that could barely have used half his whefô, and exploded one plane. Nrararn curled his thezô (not visible on the material-only movie screen, but I knew how it had to look), and caused a wild horizontal tornado sort of thing, lashing around among the planes. Half a dozen more died.
The warplanes fled. The dragons followed, flying lazily in their thorny music, striking with lightning breath when they could, each breath taking a single plane.
Then the warplanes stopped and circled. The dragons stopped too — Ythac and Osoth had joined them. “Implement Plan Seven!” called out General Crane.
Large loudspeakers on the ground boomed forth, “Crompies King! Ferret Sleuth! Dung of the Harpy Eagle! Later, later, later!” Or, if you prefer, ” Give me fermented ham! I’m so doomed! Narcotic Miasma! Neither surprised!”
The screen didn’t transmit sound, but the body language was clear enough. Ythac wriggled in the sky, laughing. Csirnis and Nrararn, not in on the joke, stared at him and roared and surely interrogated him. Osoth shrugged, and flew closer to the ground to breathe a huge cloud of flame downwards. So much for the speakers.
“Sorry, we don’t have True Names, those words don’t do anything. That was just a joke between me and Ythac,” I told the general. “We didn’t tell Osoth about it though.”
The general shrugged. “Not really surprised. It sounded too good to be true.”
Darrir asked me, “Is war a joke to you?”
“No. But if you’re going to make us have a war, we might as well have some fun with it.”
“Killing people is fun to you?” he asked.
“Sometimes it is, but it isn’t usually even as much fun as mediocre wordplay with Ythac.” I peered at him. “Have you been talking to Tarcuna?”
“I got to read one of her reports, is all. If you don’t like killing people, why don’t you …”
I waved a wing to shush him. “I haven’t killed anyone today, and if those gentlemen in the back leave the bazookas in their cases, I might actually get through the whole day without killing anyone. I would be content with that. I daresay some next of kin would be content with that too.”
Osoth had gotten rather close to the ground to destroy the speakers, though. A dozen quick little howitzers blasted him with a barrage of annoyances: shells that exploded in clouds of caustic smoke, shells that exploded with huge harsh bangs, out-and-out fireworks. Nothing particularly harmful, but a plentiful supply of inconvenience. Osoth writhed and struggled in the messy air.
Two wings of fighter planes closed on him while he was clouded, firing bullets and small missiles. Osoth surely growled; I know he blasted one with flame (boom!) and another with graveyard dust (no boom). The other drakes circled overhead, presumably making bons mots at Osoth’s expense. The planes danced around.
Except for one plane, the one that Osoth had breathed death dust on. Surely that pilot felt his own death close upon him — I’ve gotten a faceful of Osoth’s dust, and it’s quite vicious. So, that pilot aimed his jet squarely at Osoth, as quickly as he could fly. Osoth, who was still in a cloud of smoke and fireworks.
Osoth tried to dodge, of course.
Osoth is the clumsiest of all dragons.