Nrararn made the decision for me. He rather elegantly breathed a bolt of lightning that forked in three and ruined all the twistor bazookas. The room became much safer.
«Nice! Can I marry you?» I asked him.
Branner evidently had a different opinion. “Monster!” he shouted, and dived at Nrararn as fast as an augmented agent could, reaching to strangle the cat or break his neck. Nrararn turned back into his usual pretty self, but sized to fit in the apartment. Branner wrapped his arms around Nrararn’s azure neck. Then he howled as Nrararn’s lightning-braided mane destroyed his hands.
“A dragon! The cat was a dragon somehow!” wailed Quarri, and turned to flee. I was rather annoyed at him, and put the Lure of Dreams into him. The superintendant and one of the soldiers started tending to Branner.
Sporthen stared, shaking. “I was more correct than I ever imagined.”
I glared at him, and yelled, “You are more wrong than you ever imagined!”
He glared at me, and said in a cold dignified tone, “How much more of a spy could you be, than to bring a dragon to our meetings in person?”
So I turned back into myself too, sized to fit the apartment. “I actually brought two dragons.”
“The Black Curse!” wailed one of the magistrates, and also turned to flee. I don’t much like that nickname, so I put the Lure of Dreams into him as well. Bad dreams, too.
I smiled the wicked draconic smile. “Since you have been so kind as to come a-calling, you simply must stay and enjoy our hospitality.”
“Rather rude guests,” said Nrararn, in much the same tone. He stank of rage, though less than me. “One should never hug a cat without asking his permission. One never knows just how dangerous the cat might be.”
The two unhurt soldiers started smelling brave and growling more dangerous, preparing to jump on one of us. «I get the one near me,» I wrote, and tried to knock him down with my tail. He dodged that, being augmented, so I feinted a bite at him and drove him a step sideways while he shot at me with a handgun, to a very convenient spot for my forepaw. His ribs crunched in a very interesting way, since they were part metal. A loud report shook the room; Nrararn had destroyed the other soldier’s leg with lightning.
The remaining hovens stared at their ruined augmented soldiers. “Anyone fancy a spot of healing?” I asked. “Branner, I do believe I saved your life before, more or less. Shall I do it again?”
“Actually, I could use a bit myself,” said Nrararn. His soldier had stabbed his flank three times with a knife, hard enough to draw a bit of blood. “So could you; you’ve got three bullet wounds.” Nothing terribly serious, but I healed both of us. The soldiers were bleeding and demolished. I didn’t want them to escape their punishment so easily, so I put healing spells into them too, and then made them sleep.
The other hovens had made some attempt to run away. Nrararn blocked the door. “Jyothky, will you be wanting these hovens too?”
“Well, yes, thank you very much. I should be glad to uphold Trest’s laws onto them. The drachiarchic laws.”
Sporthen explained, “We did not know you were dragons! We thought you were an augmented agent! We didn’t know that you even could turn into a person!” Which was irrelevant and insultingly phrased, so we ignored him.
Nrararn gave me a concerned look. “You usually like to find a reason to spare them.”
“Not this time. These hovens have rather annoyed me.” I had worked very hard to be a perfect hoven myself, and they hadn’t let me. “Besides, if we let them get away, all the revolutionaries will know that we’re spying on them in hoven form, and it’ll be twelve times as troublesome next time.”
Quarri tried to beg, which was boring, so I made him sleep too. One of the magistrates tried to sneak into the kitchen and call someone, so I made all the hovens except Sporthen sleep. I wanted to argue with someone, and poor Nrararn didn’t deserve it.
“So, let us continue our conversation, Sporthen,” I said in a silky voice. “It is what you came here for, after all, is it not? And be assured that you shall have the truth. I’ve never lied to you in any case.” He looked briefly hopeful, as though I were giving him a chance to talk his way out of his doom. So I told him, “But don’t worry. You won’t be getting back to RARU with it.”
«Going to kill him, Jyothky?» asked Nrararn.
«I’d like to, I’ve never been so furious at a small person. But he didn’t actually quite attack me. Only the soldiers did that.»
«Well, ask Ythac and Llredh. I’m sure they can spare a few traitorous magistrates, and they certainly owe you,» said Nrararn, who is as sweet as he is pretty.
When you corner them, hovens get brave and defiant sometimes. “You’ll get no more secrets out of me, monster!”
“I don’t want any secrets out of you. You can’t imagine that you have any secrets from us anyways. Do you know how I found your organization in the first place? I asked Ythac to pick a secret subversive society for me to infiltrate. He knows all about RARU. He knows all about Branner’s super-secret Barracks, too, which my fiancé and I seem to have 3/8 defeated without even 1/8 trying or even meaning to.”
“Liar! Why come spying on us if you knew everything?”
“Oh, you want to know the ever-so-horribly-wicked thing that we are planning and you are working so hard and risking your lives to try to prevent? Do you want to know what massive evil Ythac is preparing for your country and your people?” I let him fret for a moment.
«Jyothky, I have never smelled you so angry.»
«You have, when Roroku humilated us in public. You might not have noticed, there was a lot going on that day. These hovens … We absolutely do not deserve to be killed for this! And how dare they be willing to kill each other, like they thought we were! And breaking into our apartment in the middle of the night, and trying to break your neck! I am furious, and rightly so!»
Out loud, I hissed, “Ythac sent us to try to find some way in which he can rule Trest better. Better for hovens. Do you know that everything he’s done as your master is for your good? Everything!”
“And you say that you are truthful!” Sporthen shouted back. It’s easy to draw an important hoven into an argument.
“Yes, indeed. Do you have any counterexamples?”
“There’s the stone of Merraro! The destruction of our laws and our government! The punishment camps!”
“The first two are simply your misconceptions. Of course you’re better off under under our laws. For yourself you make some terrible laws! It is a crime to worship your made-up gods the wrong way! But the camps are not for punishment. They would be nice camps, if hovens like you didn’t build them so badly and slowly. They are quarantine camps, to keep a truly horrible parasite away from you.”
“I didn’t believe you when you were pretending to be a person and said that. I don’t believe it now.”
“Then I will make you believe,” I proclaimed.
“Your lies will never trick me! And what does it matter what I believe, if you’re going to imprison me or kill me anyways?”
“I’m not going to be in a hurry about it,” I hissed at him. “It will be part of my entertainment to watch you languish or die knowing that you wasted your life fighting the absolutely wrong side of the fight.” Which seemed a bit of a filthy thing to say, but it really wasn’t convenient to go melt a mountain at this point.
«If you get him colonized, Llredh will be upset with you,» Nrararn pointed out.
«That is a problem. Even if I kill him right afterwards. Well, there’s another way to do it too,» I answered. And, out loud, “Where does Dulac live?”
“I wouldn’t tell you even if I knew,” shouted Sporthen.
Nrararn poked around the kitchen a bit. “It’s in the phone book, though.”
“We’ll collect him. Versley too, and some of the chiefs of RARU. Let’s see what happens to their movement when they know what they’re fighting for.”
Yes, I am the villain of my own diary. Why did you expect anything better from a dragon?