Hvs.tCF 5:1/Text

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There was a special pleasure and a special pain than Queen Jillian reserved for the late evenings. After the tents were pitched, after the troops and prisoners had dined, after the mounts were fed and groomed, after all of the battle equipment had been given proper care, and after she had exhaustively dissected the day's battle and plotted tomorrow's plans with her commanders, only then did Jillian allow herself the forehead-smashing joy of talking to Ansom.

"Orgchart will be your next target, clearly," speculated her once-and-future Prince,[1] from his sealed cavity within her megalo's armor scales. "And you cannot help but attack Warchalking, given its position. But I wonder if Greenwashing is going to tempt you into a slight detour?"

It was hard to get him to talk about anything but her plans. That was his game: trying to tease out tactical information that he might use if he ever escaped. Hers was to get him to remember the way he once had been.

"Ha! You're trying to goad me into overreaching, right? You're so transparent." She coughed into her hand, trying to keep it gentle. She was still dealing with the effects of green dwagon gas from the afternoon battle. Her chest felt tight, and her breathing came with extra gurgles and squeaks this evening, but it could have been a lot worse.

"Not at all," said Ansom. His armor made a rubbery sound as he shifted slightly. "You've show your capabilities. Greenwashing could easily fall to you."

"I see." she nodded. "So it's more like you've finally seen what we can do with a force like this, and now you think we can hit anything we want, any time? Well, we've been very lucky so far, okay, pretty prisoner? Bohica went better than it had any right to."

Ansom grunted noncommittally.

She leaned forward a bit and grinned at him as she sat cross-legged on the megalo's back-plating. "But I'm glad you see it. Imagine what we could have done to Stanley if your father had sprung for a decent air force like this. If Prince Ansom of Jetstone had known I was this good, how do you suppose he would have used me?"

Ansom made a sour face, but she could tell he thought the question had merit. Either now or later, he'd be forced to think about it. Point scored. "I can't imagine the outcome would have changed," he said. "The Titans' will was done."

"Your will was done," said Jillian, pointing at him. She turned away and coughed again. "Remember, you were out to make a queen out of me. And then it happened. You might not be happy about it now, but it happened. So that was the Titans' will, too. Right?"

He frowned. She expected another haughty comeback with overtones of religion, but he didn't seem to have one. Another point scored.

She reached forward and touched his blocky chin affectionately. "One of us has to be wrong. So you're coming home with me, love. And we're going to find out who it is."