The War for the Heart of Hove
After we spent another quarter-hour chattering with Chevethna, the dragons from Hasqueth and Chiriact were getting a bit impatient. Hyxy, who is a quick little reddish-brown monster, spat corrosive venom at Arthane. “It’s time for the war, already! You can catch up on the gossips and secrets after we rule the place!”
“I suppose you’re right. Chevethna-so-sweet, could you please come back so we can start the war?” Arthane called up to his wife.
“Oh, I should at that! Coming, coming, Arthane!” she called back down.
So we laid the trap for them. Osoth, Nrararn, and I picked a spot high in the air — as if by pure chance why that spot instead of half a mile to the right or left. Nrararn wrapped it in winds and coils of lighting, giving us a bit of a fortification. Llredh, Csirnis, Arilash, and Ythac flew low, darting in close formation around the mountains. So it looked rather as if we were expecting the invaders to attack the stronger four, and then the weaker three of us would swoop down on them from above, getting some advantage of position and the sky-mage’s spells at our backs.
Well, weren’t we surprised when twelve of the fifteen of them split up into four trios and came flying up towards us from four different directions. We had been hoping to get more than twelve, but of course Ignissa wasn’t going to be flying that high, and two others stayed near her.
So we sort of hovered there looking bewildered and lost as a dozen dragons charged up at us, and most of them bigger and stronger than us. The first triad to get there (Arthane, Ressal, and Kuro) took just a moment battering the lightning storm down with their vôs. Which was just enough time for the rest to get there.
We were so doomed, so outnumbered. They smiled and circled once, and flew carefully towards us from all directions.
I mashed a button on a jerry-rigged metal box strapped to my foreleg. This sent some very scientific signals to some equally jerry-rigged receivers on three towers in Ghemel.
And when the towers of Ghemel roared their dragon-wounding danger at us, Osoth and Nrararn and I knew what to expect. The invaders didn’t. They did what we had done when the Peace Everywhere Array struck us over Ze Cheya, viz. they ignored the distant roaring danger (which didn’t sound so intense as the Peace Everywhere Array) and went in for the convenient kills. Nrararn and I were out of the war almost immediately. I think Nrararn got one or two hits on them before he was out. I tried, but I didn’t get any.
And then the three twistor bolts fell upon them, and upon us as well.
Tarcuna and the Ghemelian artillery specialists had done their important job well. The twistors were heavy enough to injure, to tear scales from flesh, to rip wings and frills. They weren’t heavy enough to do too much more, at least not to a dragon with a nice fresh the Hoplonton.
“What was that?” Chevethna yowled.
I flipped my tail against her flank and put the Rose Rescaler into her, which didn’t count as a hit since I was hors de combat. “It was my Hoven technology attack! Called twistor beams. A lighter version of the thing that killed Greshthanu.”
Tultamaan hissed. “And you turned them on your Conspecifics to score a few Points in a Friendly Sort of War? Your recklessness with our lives is Distinctly Notable!”
Polychromatic Ngassith laughed. “They turned them on themselves too! That’s a “Xhê tśiīaő šsyẵiąỳśś Ếsrŕyů…” sort of moment, if you ask me!”
I blushed to the periphery of my thezô. “Thank you!”
“Well, who’s in what state now?” called Arthane. All of us, from both sides, flew in a tight circle, healing ourselves and each other. Irssaan had gotten the worse of it; Mshai’s wingclaw had gotten knocked into his face and ripped up his eye. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed quickly enough.
“So who’s got how many hits left? I’ve quite lost track!” he roared.
Well, the three twistors weren’t perfectly arranged, so Mshai, Arthane, and Chevethna had only been hit twice, and had one hit each left. Osoth, with two hits left from his initial five, barely had time to squeak before they were on him. He did puff graveyard dust into Mshai’s face and take her out of the war, but Arthane and Chevethna caught him in an elegant pincer attack and removed those last two hits.
We healed Mshai and everyone, and let Arthane and Chevethna dive for the four stronger drakes. “Three of us untouched is nine hits, plus those two have one each, total is eleven. Four of you untouched is twenty. You have quite thoroughly foxed us!” said Gwixion.
“And our four best fighters, too,” said Nrararn with a grin.
So we watched. Hyxy and Psilia lured Arilash and Llredh and Ythac into a race. Ignissa, who wasn’t even flying, was a quite excellent lightning cannon perched on a hilltop, and badly scored Llredh’s scales, and Ythac’s, before Csirnis swooped down and elegantly removed her from the battle. Gallantly removed her, too, which took long enough for Arthane and Chevethna to dive and breathe and claw and bite.
In the end, Csirnis had two hits left, and Llredh had one, and Arilash and Ythac were out too.
But we won.