The Blessed Lord and the Lady of Holy Fire kept close together, still musing over what to do with their unexpected guest, hoping that the potent drugs would keep him unaware and impotent. They remained unaware that Homsar was awake and alert, able to perceive all about him and beyond, and this meant that they did not--could not--know just how it was that they condemned themselves. They remained obvious to the doom racing now through the ether, a mighty warship of the Patrol and the unit of marines that it had aboard, a doom that could--and would--destroy the lives that they crafted here after their old ones betrayed them.
This was not the case, however, for their patron. Deep within that very mountain, the entity that took in and made students of those most unfortunate fools now awoke from a fitful slumber. At once, both it and Homsar recognized the other's presence and put forth frightfully-potent screens of massive mental power. Each immediately dropped into a full war stance, like two ships of the line sighting each other as they came out of a deep fog, and they immediately called out to their allies as the captains of those ships would do.
"Admiral!" Homsar said, "I've found the boss, and he's as big a player as I figured!"
The other, however, scanned its surroundings with its own sense of perception- and in it found its two regents standing next to the body of the very entity it now guarded against. In illusory form, it appeared to them, and its massive draconic head surprised and cowed them.
"ATTEND!" it said, bellowing, and both the Lord and the Lady turned to it. Dropping to their knees, they prostrated themselves.
"Master!" they said, in unison, "We attend!"
It noticed Homsar's body behind them, still torporous. "You shall report upon that man behind you. Be complete and conclusive."
"He is Homsar Delgana." the Lord said, "Agent-At-Large of the Galactic Republic."
"He arrived a few hours ago, alone, seeking the remains of the Republic's Sixth Hospital as well as all survivors. He intends to repatriate them to Republic space."
Meanwhile, peeking from behind his screens, Homsar listened as he kept his line open to the Admiral.
"I knew it!" Homsar said, "Admiral, the locals are a hostile cult led by a dangerous mind housed in a massive reptilian body- for all intents and purposes, a dragon. It seems to've been asleep until just now, which is why I didn't detect it. It's quite awake now, and it's already noticed my presence. How long until you get here?"
"We're going full blast, Homsar. About a day or so. Can you hold out?"
"That depends upon a few variables outside of my control, but I'm far from out of tricks. I can manage."
Just then, another illusory image appeared- that of the Brilliant Shield.
"Blessed Lord, the Legion and I secured the outlander's boat as you commanded. We are not able to take it as a prize, however, so we remain here until ordered."
The Blessed Lord glanced to the illusory dragon head. It nodded.
"Delegate watch duty to a subordinate and let him remain with the boat. Take the rest and return immediately. We have a situation. You shall be briefed upon return."
"By your command, my Lord." Brilliant Shield said, and the illusion winked out.
Again, the illusory dragon head nodded. The Lord produced a glowing orb from a pocket and held it before him.
"Attend!" he said to a functionary lizardman on the other end, "Sound the alert and prepare for battle."
The functionary, wordlessly, obeyed and soon a klaxon sounded- and the skittering of scaly soldiers suffused the halls.
"Master," the Lady said, "must we be so dire? This one knows nothing. Let him take the cast-off forms and be gone, for he has no intention to intervene into our affairs despite his ability to do so. If he is ignorant, feign so in turn and watch him as he departs from us."
"No, child." the dragon head said, "You and your husband, and most of the others, do not know what significance this man's attire possesses. You could not know, as few of his ilk survived your war with the Algolians, but I do know and I tell you truly that this man is no simple officer or operative. Let me show you what I see."
Homsar too saw what the dragon showed to his pupils, and for the first time in years Homsar knew fear: the dragon clearly perceived the very symbol of Homsar's position- the instrumentality that marked him as one of the best to emerge out of the Republic and merited his rating as an Agent. He kept this concealed, normally, when he worked far from friendly space- his earlier experiences showed him clearly that this was as much a liability in unfriendly space as it aided him closer to home.
"HIM?" the Lord said, disbelieving.
"A such a brash, boorish brute?" the Lady said, astonished.
"Yes, children, him. Unlike most, he conceals only the badge and not the qualities that won it. Force, focus, drive, power, scope- and that last quality which ensures that he shan't ever join us, his loyalty to the Republic."
Homsar's fear faded at that comment, as his perspective restored itself through the exposure of his opponent's blindness.
"It's called 'integrity', you scaled simpleton!"
Just then, the orb again flashed into illusory life and the face of a young human man appeared.
"Father!" he said, "The alert's sounded. Are we in danger?"
"Yes, son." the Lord said, "Our enemy has found us. Go now, ready your escape. We shall follow."
"But father, I can fight them now! You've taught me very well, as have so many of the others."
Just then, the dragon's keen perception noticed Homsar's eavesdropping.
"Kill him! HE KNOWS!"
"They've finally caught on, Admiral. The flag's coming up now, so I'll talk to you later."
"Good luck, Homsar. Save some for us!"
The Blessed Lord pulled a knife from his belt and moved swiftly to Homsar's body and just as he rose to strike down in a most murderous blow he saw Homsar's eyes open- in that blink of an eye, Homsar kicked the Lord in the face and knocked him to the floor.
"That's right, folks, I'm one of them."
The Lady snatched up a blaster from her husband's belt, but before she could fire it Homsar closed the distance and sent her sprawling to the floor with a full-strength punch to the jaw.
"And I didn't earn the right to this uniform by placing nice with traitors to the Republic, no matter how sweet the honeypots may be."
Homsar moved to his armor and swiftly donned it. To his mortal foes, this seemed to be an act of nonchalant disdain. In reality, it was an act of ruthless pragmatism; through the illusion, the dragon unleashed a ferocious telepathic assault that beat so severely upon his inherent thought screens that if he could not break contact he could've been either overwhelmed or slowed enough through a shift in concentration that either the Lord of the Lady could kill him. He could fight either battle, but not both; one knock of the skull against his helm and the armor's screens put that dragon safely at a distance.
By the time that the Lord and Lady recovered, they found Agent Homsar armed and armored before them.
"So." Homsar said, "You two must be the Chief Nurse and her pilot husband then. I charge you both with high treason against the Republic, and I will take you both in- dead or alive."
To emphasize his point, Homsar brandished his marine axe and his own blaster.
"You're alone and outnumbered." the Lord said.
"You're also surrounded." the Lady said, "You could've just left us in peace with our former lives, and bodies, in hand. But no, you got nosy."
"Blah, blah, blah. Same ol' song and dance. 'I didn't get to do what I wanted, so now I'm going to take it out on all of those folks that made my life suck!' Idiots; you can explain to the court before I throw you two into the lethal chambers."
Just then, the lizardmen bodyguards arrived and drew their weapons.
"We don't think so." the Lord and Lady said.
Homsar smiled. This was the sort of moment he lived for.