Kitty grabbed the lone leather coat hanging on a row of wooden hooks attached to the carved stone wall. It was her favorite coat, patched and worn, but it still had fur lining around the hood and wrists. A decade old already, it would probably only survive another year or two. She made her way up the steps, through a tunnel carved into the living rock of Mount Musai, to an ancient wooden door held together with bands of iron. The door creaked as it opened. She found the door an amusing piece of history because to her eyes it looked so ancient. Yet she was older than it. Somehow, time and fate and biology had played a trick on her; she still felt young at times, giddy as the teenager who first came to Backwater nine centuries ago, gleeful for her everyday opportunity to be with Dragons. She was the first Dragonfriend, the one everyone looked to for advice and leadership and understanding. It was all accidental and she knew that, but somehow she could not escape the privileges and responsibilities of being First among Friends. Sometimes, though, those responsibilities were more a nuisance than anything else.
Today, for example, those responsibilities consisted primarily of preening and primping a Dragon who could barely be thought of as anything but a spoiled teenager even if this dragon was in her mid-20's. She crossed the large landing room, a domed construct that could hold four or five dragons at once. The ceiling vaulted away from her, the illusion of incredible distance enhanced by the perfectly smoothed texture of the granite. She came to the landing, an opening large enough to allow for the largest Dragon, and looked down into the valley. Despite how far high up the mountain her lair lay hidden, the wind whipping past felt surprisingly warm. Summer was in hot bloom in the valley and it showed. Amongst the trees, riots of color other than green glittered and asked to be enjoyed-- bright, hot yellows and blues of flowers, and the metallic, glinting blues and yellows of several Dragons lolling quietly in the sun. She could see the low in the valley where the river ran through, although the water was obscured by the dense forest that covered most of the valley.
Like most Pendorians, she was in the habit of addressing the ceiling when addressing the AI. "Sheba, where's Christine?"
"Flying." The AI responded with the voice of a little girl, something Kitty had long ago come to accept as just another AI idiosyncrasy. "She's having fun."
"She's supposed to be here now," Kitty replied. "Nevermind." She took her oil-lens binoculars out of their case and turned them on. Small gravitics fields within the small plastic case aligned a normally free stream of oil into perfectly formed lenses; a thin optic filter interpolated collected data and projected information onto the oil for the user to read. Oil-lens binoculars were prized throughout the galaxy for their precision and perfection.
Kitty scanned the horizon, watching as small squares appeared before her eyes, indicating Dragons in flight. She found one, a yellow and green jewel flying lazily through the afternoon haze. Between the hot sun powering her flight and the rising thermals giving her lift, Christine could probably stay up all day and then some. "But you have responsibilities, young lady," Kitty muttered.
She stared through the lens. In the back of her mind, a thought formed. She held onto that thought, rolled it around, spun it up and made it loud, and then forced it in the direction of the dragon. CHRISTINE!
The dragon in her lenses startled, then turned. Kitty?
You won the right to be in the contest! Do you want to be in it or not?
Yes, Yes! Christine replied, turning to fly in the direction of Kitty's Landing. I'm coming!
Satisfied that the Dragonette would be here soon enough, Kitty turned back to the landing and started hauling out her equipment.
Christine didn't need to announce her arrival. With a loud whoosh of wind over her wings she made her presence very clear. "That was clumsy," Kitty said softly. "If you ever want to be taken as a Lady of the Court, Christine, you'll have to learn how to land without making a sound."
Does everything you say today have to be critical? Christine asked.
"It does when you want to win a beauty contest," Kitty said, walking back with a bucket. She reached in and what looked like an oversized pistol. "Now hold still." She dialed the back of the pistol and aimed it at Christine. Instantly a steady stream of soapy water hit the dragon in the side. Kitty walked around her nine-meters of length (not counting her coiled tail) and showered Christine down from head to foot.
Nice, Christine thought. It was such a hot day.
"Yeah, well, don't get too comfortable. This is just the preliminary. After we wash the dust and grime off of you, I have to rinse, dry, wax, and buff you, and that's before we do your teeth and nails."
Thank you for doing this. I know you really didn't want to. You wouldn't have done it if Daddy hadn't asked.
"I love your father, Christine, and you're his first-born after nine centuries of trying. It seems so unfair that he turned out so infertile, like many Dragons. And I don't mind that much. It's better than doing the paperwork."
But not as much fun as riding.
"I'll ride tomorrow," Kitty said, sighing to herself that she'd used that exact phrase far too often in her long and happy life. Still, she reflected, the fact that most of it had been so joyful definitely tipped the balance sheet in her favor.
She proceeded with a long-handled chamois mop, starting at Christine's back and working her way forward. She gave extra attention to the delicate folds underneath the wings and under the forward legs, then toward Christine's neck. "Close your eyes," she said. "Don't want to get soap in them." Christine closed her eyes obediently and Kitty got down with a cloth to do Christine's face with extra care.
Then, the pistol-gripped SDisk dialed to plain water, she rinsed the Dragon off from head to tail. "Turn over."
When she was done, Christine's white underbelly glistened like marble. "And we're not even halfway done."
Kitty, can I ask you a personal question?
"That depend on the question," she muttered.
Am I a shallow person?
Kitty went back to the drying rack and picked up her third towel before returning to Christine's flank and paying extra attention to her wings. "We'll have to hope your wings shine without wax. I don't want to weigh you down as it is. Are you a shallow person, Christine? That depends."
"You're only twenty years old. It's not like you've had time to develop what some people call 'depth.'"
I was reading your Journal Entries, the ones where you and Aaden figured out that the Backwater AI was faulty and had started to violate the rules. You were so mature then. You had it all figured out. You were my age and you had 'depth.' I look at myself and figure that I'll never be the kind of woman you were.
"You should probably be grateful," she said. "On your belly now. Thanks." She took a large handful of green-tinted wax and streaked it across Christine's back. "You weren't rejected by your parents for rejecting their religion, having abilities they couldn't understand, abandoning your home planet... and then I find myself in the middle of a war!"
We don't have wars anymore.
"Don't tell me you wish we did!" Kitty said, reacting to the almost plaintive tone of voice coming from the dragon. "You saw what happened to the llerkindi!"
Of course they're horrible, Christine replied, turning her head to look at Kitty. But they're also so romantic. So much of our great literature is about people overcoming the obstacles that warfare puts in front of them. It defines people the way nothing else does.
"You'd probably be dead in the first ten minutes, Christine. War these days is total, ugly, and fatal. It's something we needed to outgrow, not look back on. Calling it romantic is fine, I guess." Kitty's voice took on a tone of urgency. She would have to talk to Pendor about his daughter's "romantic" notions. He could tell her a thing or two about combat wounds!
I guess someday I'll join the off-world security forces. I hear that there's an initiative to create an all-Dragons starship. That would be fun to work in.
"And a lot less dangerous than war," Kitty agreed. She found the claim ironic; she had rarely been off-planet in the nine centuries since she had moved here. She loved Dragonvale and Backwater; there was no reason for her to go anywhere else. She imagined she would be here so long people would begin to think of her as a force of nature, a geologic fixture on the landscape. She liked the idea that she would watch Dragons come-- and sometimes, sadly, go. She loved them, each and every one of them, and she could identify many of them by name. That there were only a few thousand bothered her greatly; the population of Dragon's wasn't growing in the same curves as the other species. She didn't know why, and she had asked the AIs for an explanation. The answer had been unsatisfactory-- they said they didn't know either. She had trouble believing that.
She was likewise disturbed that Dragons, more than any other species, romanticized the tribulations that the Terrans and llerkin had gone through as naturally evolved species. It was as if the Pendorian instinct for avoiding internecine trouble had been missed in the Dragons.
She wandered around Christine, polishing carefully. "Okay, now for the fun part. On your back."
She pulled out a random orbital buffer, a two-handed machine tool with a sheepskin cover that would let her shine Christine's hide to a full gloss in no time. She began at Christine's chest, climbing up the great beast's body and working her way down, sitting on Christine as she did so. She liked Christine, even if she did need a chance to grow up. She worked her way down until she was sitting on Christine's belly, enjoying the deep meditative breathing the Dragon seemed to have entered as the massaging, vibrating tool in her hand did its work. There were places where she could see her reflection in some of the individual scales of Christine's hide. On the other hand, she had to stop from time to time; the buffer made her arms go numb.
She did the outsides of each of Christine's legs before working on the base of the tail. As she moved up, she eased around Christine's sex, afraid the powerful vibrations might upset her young Dragon. But as she moved the buffer away, Christine said, I hate to ask this of you, but could you leave that there for a few minutes?
"Christine?" she cried.
Maybe I should get someone else to do it. I've never felt anything like that before. It's amazing.
Kitty wasn't at all sure that she wanted to participate in Christine's first orgasm. She done it before, yes, with male dragons, mostly Pendor, but she'd never imagined doing it with a fem dragon. More to the point, she thought of Christine as her charge, someone she was here to take care of, not have sex with.
"You have got to be kidding me," Kitty muttered. "Do you promise to be a good girl if I do?" Kitty slowly moved the buffer back where Christine had first reacted.
"Well, then." With a mischievous grin plastering itself on her face, Kitty eased the buffer back to between Christine's thighs, down onto the slit that hid Christine's sex. She squirted an unruly amount of the wax onto the area. "You're going to have a glowing vulva by the time I'm done." She rotated the buffer around Christine's sex, little more than a slit, although it had now parted open a little, looking alarmingly like a mouth without teeth. Kitty took the opportunity to peek in; the view she got was of an organ much larger and quite different from a human vulva, a fascinating look all the same.
She pressed down a little harder now, deep into the flesh around Christine's cunt. The dragon whimpered, clearly on edge, her gasps filling the chamber. Her body was completely tensed, ready to unwind in a moment. Kitty wondered if this was also going to be like in those old movies where one lights the fuse and the dives for cover.
Christine raised her head, her eyes closed, her mouth opened, a Dragon pose of absolute rapture. Her breath caught in her lungs and then, with a moan, she came loud and hard, her body stretching out to its full length, her wings fluttering. Oh, Kitty.
"Did you enjoy that?"
I did. Better than anything you could have imagined. Christine sighed softly, both aloud and in Kitty's mind. And I'll behave for you now.
"You were doing a fine job without that, really," Kitty said with a grin. Some of the telepathic excesses of Christine's climax had slopped into her, exciting her in ways that she hadn't anticipated. She would have to take care of that soon, too. Maybe Christine would give her a "ride." The Dragons knew of her ability to climax from flying alone. Maybe, she thought, it was time to return the favor consistently.
She examined Christine closely from head to toe. "Hmm."
What? Christine asked.
"You are glowing," she said with a grin. "Let's see if we can keep you glowing." She picked up the hose. "Okay, Christine, time for the cold shower."
The Dragon stretched herself out along the floor. Kitty applied the hose. You still think I'm shallow.
"No, I think you're young. Whether or not you stay shallow is up to you. Now hush. The competition is tonight. I have to get you ready." She reached down and picked up a large brush. "Time for your teeth."