She looked up at her creator and blinked, softly purring. It was a sound that dragons didn't make, so it had to have come from the ferilon genes perhaps... Or...
Her name was Banyak Sikali, something which loosely translated in the Zekiran tongue meant 'plenty of this and plenty of that'. It was how W'tai had created her anyway, with plenty of genes thrown in from various sources. Not all of them were ... legal. Not all of them were animals nor dragons. Some of the genes she had, in fact, were his.
He dared not speak of this, of course, and now he was at a loss. W'tai was supposedly a reputable man, a good Animal Master. But apparently several months ago he'd lost his mind and used cells of his own to add to the mix of what had become Banyak Sikali. Perhaps it was that he knew his chances of finding a fertile woman who would allow a centauroid to even have sex with her let alone one who could bear a child with him were very slim. Sure he could charm his way through a crowded room, have half a dozen beautiful ladies looking at him and buying him drinks. Then they saw his legs - all four of them - and his tail, which was nearly four spans long itself... And balked. He wasn't very tall, nor very hefty. He was dashingly attractive, though... But what he did wasn't because of any of that, was it?
He wasn't trying to become a Breeder. He didn't have nearly enough money to do that. However, he knew his way around the machinery that all high-Degree Breeders used. The stipulation of course was that he, as an Animal Master, was meant to only use the machinery on animals.
But Banyak was something else, really. She was nowhere near mature, still just a hatchling really, and already she was nearly eight spans long. She'd probably resemble the size of her Forest dragon donor parent, while she had the beautiful coloration of the Sea dragon he'd snagged from his friend Numlar during that rash of racing bets they were doing. Her slinky shape and head with its long ears clearly came from the Ferilons.
It was her intelligence, her powerful psionics that would give him away. To be fair she wasn't of a human intelligence, really. She was only a hatchling. The knot in W'tai's gut told him that yes, she'd be at least as smart as he was. Maybe smarter. Those Sea dragons actually had a knack for that. She could heal, and even when she was barely able to open her eyes, he'd seen her stifle the psionics of one of the Slaves helping out.
W'tai couldn't sell that Slave now, he wasn't at all sure what to do with him. He wasn't that smart, but that was a two edged sword as well... If he Raised and Freed the boy, he would hopefully feel compelled to keep the secret. Too much of a long shot, really, because money and freedom and time wear away at such things as respect and confidence.
Someone else would simply get the information, get this terrible secret, and W'tai's career could be ruined. At his young age that would bode very poorly indeed.
W'tai sat on this information, his secret, and Banyak Sikali, for another year lived all but in seclusion. He concentrated hard on breeding projects that others comissioned him to do - they kept his mind off Banyak. But every evening he came back to the private chambers he called his homestead at the other end of the beast housing facility he Held, and there she was.
In the year that had passed, she concentrated too. On what he was doing. For after all, she could certainly do some of those things too. He wondered... Had he really gone too far?
Banyak looked at him with her soft oval eyes and purred again. She was nearly fifty spans long by now, true to her various draconic genetics. But she seemed almost lighter than air, she could fly - though W'tai asserted desperately at times that she only do so when they were completely alone and unwatched by any neighbors. His Holding was hardly in the center of town, and Umtl, while a very very old city, was never a very big one.
She asserted quietly, with a twittering laugh and a mental nudge, that there was never anyone around. At twilight she soared into the sky, seemingly wrapping herself around each of the three moons as they rose through the sky.
And though W'tai was insensed with himself for having done such an appalling thing... He cried out as though in pain if she was gone for too long.
W'tai was a bit surprised to see more than one dragon in his courtyard. What surprised him more was that they were not remotely like any dragon he'd seen before, even his own creation. One was a huge golden-yellow creature with horns and odd fins on his neck. Another four of them were so colorful - and had multiple wings. They had fur. The last of the group was pure white as snow, and small like one of the multiple-winged group. Among them walked three people, two men and a woman - all obviously Zekiran. But these dragons. They were hardly Zekiran dragons at all!
"What are ... excuse me?" W'tai said, "I would like to know who you are and ... where these," he waved his hand absently at the dragons, "came from."
Though the other man was more imposing by far, it was the small, heart-faced young man that approached. He had a look on him that W'tai didn't dare trust. He...
Though his face was young looking, Ten's eyes were filled with both wisdom and spite. He was a dreadfully handsome man, and coming from W'tai that was considerable. He had pale periwinkle colored skin, silver-graphite hair tied back in a long tail, and ... a long tail? Yes, he had a four or five span long tail himself. But one wouldn't dare stare at it - when his eyes bore into a person like they were doing. It was with a guarded tone that he said, "I am High DragonMaster Ten, this is DragonMistress Threen, and DragonMaster Simon. Your dragoness has come to us with an unusual dilemma."
W'tai didn't quite know what to make of this. Banyak had gone to these people?
"When?" He said, abruptly. "Where are you possibly from with dragons like these?"
"Ryslen, Dun Keiba, Vella Crean, Talor Cliff..." The woman, who had four arms and orangey-brown skin, said. "And these are draks, by the way. We're not quite sure what to make of yours, actually."
The other man, nearly twice as tall as W'tai (though in all fairness W'tai was shorter than normal people by a head and shoulders because he was long and slinky like a Ferilon) and with rich brown skin tinted the very slightest with dark green, long vibrant black-green hair, and stunning blue eyes, looked uncomfortable and was silent. W'tai got a strange sensation when looking at him, of old wounds and painful returns.
But though W'tai was still stunned and surprised by all this, he was still skilled enough at Zekiran life and conversation to be able to rebound quikckly. "And that is easily answered, she is my creation, I'm an Animal Master. But you have to know that, High DragonMaster." That his Status pin was displayed on his collar was obvious, but it was more obvious that Ten and the others knew because Banyak had told them. "She is a hybrid dragon ferilon."
"Zekiran," added Ten quietly. He didn't blink, it appeared for all the world like he'd never blinked once in the time they were standing near one another.
W'tai broke that gaze, looking away and casting his own green eyes toward Banyak. "Yes. She's part of me, I cannot deny that."
"No one of us is asking you to," Threen said, happily. She seemed entirely too nice to be near these two odd men. W'tai didn't know that she and Simon were related by varying degrees of blood and dimensional travel, and that Ten used to be Owned - and created - by their sire. "We actually have a place that Banyak would likely find fascinating. You might too."
"This is the part where I get to volunteer to take you," Simon said, his voice adopting a bit of a chuckle. "Though ... you didn't tell us he had four legs," he addressed the blue shimmering dragoness, who shrugged - sending a ripple down half her body in doing. "It is actually a breeding project, you would probably be able to help out. And I know she would," he indicated Banyak.
"I still do not understand, I have never seen anything on the worldvid about--"
"This isn't on our planet," Ten said slyly. "It is on another world. Would you like to come back to Ablan with us for a bit of wine and cherry bread? It's all the rage."
"It's all the rage," Simon muttered, "because all they grow there are grains, grapes and cherries..."
W'tai gathered his wits and looked at the images that they had brought. The Saa were smallish, pretty creatures with features that he was quite familiar with. They supposedly used 'magic' which anyone on Zekira would call psionics. They had a society, a whole history apparently. And they were almost completely extinct.
In order to stop what would be called 'visual dilution' of their species, this breeding program had come about. Other worldly dragons of all manner and description were participating. The goal: to look like the Saa. W'tai glanced at the smug muzzle on Banyak and scratched her side gently.
"Well you were right to find them, weren't you. Where in the world did you find out about this?"
Dragons always gossip was her emotive response.
Then Simon made good on his promise, over a slice of delicious cherry pie and yet another glass of cherry wine, to plot out how to get to the world where this was all happening. He explained how they would get there, and W'tai wondered: how would Banyak exactly travel with them? Wrapping herself around the white dragon? Perhaps... More likely, since they were adept Nexus teleporters by now, Simon and his dragon Kemroth would be able to extend the teleportation reasonably far out around themselves. Still, Banyak would cling close by, so they didn't get lost.
W'tai was thrilled to be doing any of this. Banyak had allowed herself to be strapped up with two or three small packages of equipment. They intended to remain on this world, at least the part worth mentioning, the Valley of the Sky. But this was also hush-hush.
If there was one thing that W'tai was quite good at, however, was keeping secrets...
Dragonflight made Banyak in the Nexus monthly Dragon Exchange!