Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Day Nine-Hundred-Seven: Maybe it's not so bad

“This is what we’ve been waitin’ for.”

Logan cocked an eyebrow. “I’m not sure I follow.”

Dragomir pointed out the window of his home. Blue was sitting outside, covered in bandages and surrounded by a retinue of ten of Pubton’s guards. Despite the obvious hostility she seemed more or less at ease, quite content to be in enemy territory, and she appeared to be trying to chat - unsuccessfully - with one of her captors. “Her. Her. She’s what’s gonna end this war. Or what she told me is gonna end it.”

Logan peered through the window at the Non for a second. His brow furrowed. It was obvious that he didn’t like the idea of a twenty-foot-tall Non within the walls of the city. “Okay. Obviously I’m missing something. What did she tell you?”

“That Kierkegaard and Doc have turned on the Non. Or it looks that way, anyway.”

Dragomir quickly ran through the story Blue had provided earlier that day, once she was conscious again. The Non were being driven hard to ravage the Imperium, almost to the point of insurrection, and only fear was keeping them under Kierkegaard’s thumb. What’s more, one of their commanders - one answerable only to Kierkegaard - was attempting to test a new weapon on the Non, one that apparently needed testing on the Non themselves. Given what Blue had seen of Doc’s other test subjects…

“Okay,” Logan eventually said, when Dragomir fell quiet. “That jives with what Fynn saw a week ago. And with what happened with our werewolves. How does that turn into dead Non? If anything it means we’ll have worse problems.”

Dragomir cringed. He hadn’t spoken to his youngest son in what felt like months. The situation with the werewolves wasn’t good, either - the abrupt abandonment of their entire frontal assault force really hurt. Bad times. “You’re lookin’ at it wrong. We need to make the Non into allies. This is the way to do it.”

Logan’s expression changed from mild puzzlement to hostile skepticism. “You’re right. I am lookin’ at it wrong. You probably are, too. They’re not our buddies, Dragomir. They’re the enemy. Don’t forget what they’ve done.”

“I haven’t.” Dragomir took another look at Blue. She’d managed to engage one of the guards, a stout goblin, in conversation. The goblin was laughing merrily. Given goblin attitudes toward other races, this surprised Dragomir - he would’ve expected the guard to treat her like a troll, given her size and appearance. “But anyone can turn into a friend, with the right coaxing. And if we can persuade the Non that Kierkegaard’s not got their best interests in heart, maybe they’ll kick him out and put someone more reasonable in charge. I’d say it’s worth a short, if it means less bloodshed.”

“I… suppose,” Logan admitted. He frowned. He looked almost identical to his father. “How do you propose we pull somethin’ like this off? Spread a rumour, maybe…?”

“Nuts to that.” Dragomir slammed a fist onto the kitchen table for emphasis, wincing as one of Libby’s cups bounced off the table and tumbled onto the floor. He’d catch hell if it was broken. “We take ‘em head on. Get into a full battle, then bring out Blue and have her expose Kierkegaard to all of his troops. If we’re lucky we can bring a shotload of ‘em over to our side, and…”

“And…?”

Dragomir paused. ‘And’. That was a good question. And what? They would turn on him? Tear the penguin apart? Or perhaps simply flat-out not believe Blue, as she was no doubt branded a traitor in the Non ranks by now? ‘And’ needed to be more specific than it already was. If nothing else they could be exposing Blue to the risk of an attack by her kindred, something she’d obviously been fleeing by running to Pubton.

“And… well, we can talk about that.” Dragomir swallowed. “We’ll figure it out. Hell, if it’ll help our case, I… I suppose I could… y’know…”

“What?” Logan’s eyes narrowed. “Change? Show ‘em they’ve got somebody on our side? Do you really want to out yourself as one of the fuckin’ enemy, Dragomir? You really think that’s smart?”

It was, of course, exactly what Dragomir had been thinking, and it was perceptive of Logan to pick up on the hint. Yet in his shrewdness Logan had immediately betrayed something Dragomir hadn’t fully noticed before: bias. Suspicion. Generalized hate. He didn’t even want to consider the possibility of making the Non into friends, because they were, now, Logan’s enemies. It struck Dragomir as a very immature way to view the world, and reminded him that Logan was still a young man, despite his thickening beard and gaunt expression. How Logan reconciled his dislike of the Non with his friendship with Fynn, Dragomir had no idea. Perhaps being either one-half or one-quarter Non somehow made a difference.

Suddenly, Dragomir wasn’t ashamed of his race. He wanted very much to defend them. And that, despite the widening gap between himself and the man sitting at his table, was an odd source of pride. It lightened his mood.


“Maybe it is,” Dragomir said, tone almost defiant. “If we want to end everything, maybe it is.”