Llredh put Shuvanne down, and smiled a huge fangy smile at the camera. “The huge present, she is what Ythac gives to me, and that on the night before we become mates. The just-as-huge present that I can give back, she does not exist! The medium-sized present for my new mate, she is Trest. Lucky Trest! No better queen could any country have!”
The hovens in the command center were an assortment of studies in stunnedness and fury. Darrir waved his hands in front of my face. “Dragon! Do you have any sense of honor or decency?”
I peered at him. “I think so. Why?”
“What your friend has done violates both! What he has done is wicked, wicked! If you have any of either, you must fly to Perstra and force him to back down!”
I thought about that a bit, somewhat distracted by a tumult of all the other officers trying to figure out what to do next. “I don’t think it was at all the right way to do things. But there’s nothing wrong with conquering you. Except that we’d said that we weren’t doing any conquering when we came here.” But that wasn’t right. We’d decided not to conquer because it would be a distraction from the mating flight, but (1) Llredh has gotten mated, sort of, and (2) the mating flight is in a shambles anyhow.
“You made a war treaty! How can you not honor it?”
“Llredh wasn’t in the war treaty. Neither am I, for that matter,” I pointed out.
Bicker, bicker, bicker. Darrir and a couple other officers tried to harangue me. None of it made any sense. So I wound up saying lots of sensible things several times in various ways. Like…
- “No, I won’t go depose him. It would be rude, he’s my best friend’s mate, and your country is a gift to my best friend. Also he’s about twice my size, and an excellent fighter, and Ythac’s not much weaker, so I don’t think I could do it if I tried.” (This one is true.)
- “Yes, you should get your soldiers to stop fighting. That’s just basic manners. You’re the property of one dragon now, you shouldn’t go attacking other dragons. Even if the others don’t kill you, your master will probably be upset with you. … Um, actually, your soldiers now belong to Ythac I think, so you really shouldn’t be fighting him.” (This one is confusing, and they got very offended when I reminded them who owned them. Just like Tarcuna would have. Or Murghal, for that matter. I guess the mhelvul were used to being slaves to their gods, but hovens aren’t.)
- “Why on Hove do you think it’s a bad thing to be conquered by dragons? Llredh’s actually a pretty nice master, and Ythac’s wonderful. You’ll be much better off than you were before.” (This one sounded wrong and fatuous as I said it, to the point of a touch of veriception nastiness, but I had to defend my species’ honor, and try to comfort the unhappy hovens. I don’t think either half worked very well.)
In the other side of the room, General Crane was starting a discussion of how the army would resist Llredh. It was pretty technical really — starting with the distraction plus fighter crash that had hurt Osoth, and trying to add destructiveness to the point where it might, with supreme luck, be able to kill a dragon. But by “a dragon” they meant Osoth or me — once in a while one of them would point at me and say that, oh, my wings looked fragile. (They aren’t.) Llredh is much tougher, as anyone who saw us side by side could clearly see.
Which is all perfectly reasonable of them, having just been nominally conquered without having a chance to get killed when they fought back. But it was rude. After, oh, a third or five-twelfths of an hour of this, I was thoroughly annoyed with all the officers. Under other circumstances, I might have injured one or two of them. Now, of course, they belonged to Llredh, and I didn’t want to challenge him on his own new territory. (Was I even allowed to be there? I was here before it was his territory!)
So I shouted, “This isn’t proper! I will leave you to your sedition alone!”
They didn’t seem very happy about the word ‘sedition’. But they did seem happy about me leaving.
I was happy to leave too. I hate being ashamed of my species in front of small people.