Andrew shot him a look, seemingly pleading Blackout to take matters seriously. "The guy off Battlestar Galactica? A completely fictional character?"
"The Dragon worked on Bespin," Blackout retorted. "As in Cloud frakking City. From. Star. Wars. Fictional enough for you?"
Andrew looked over at the red dragon working behind the coffee bar, then looked at Lara for confirmation. She shrugged and nodded apologetically. "That's what it says on her resume," she said. "And it's just Dragon. That's what she goes by."
"Doesn't that get confusing?" Blackout asked.
"Apparently Draconian is a telepathic language, and humans generally suck at telepathy, so she thought Dragon would be simpler than her proper name, which translates into a word which means 'the light which pushes through the vale of tears'."
"Sounds like the title of an emo song," Andrew said.
"But happier," Blackout added, Andrew nodding assent.
"Telepathy? So can they read human thoughts?" Andrew asked.
Laura smiled and nodded, "Sort of. They read our desires. And because they're shapeshifters, they can respond to that in the shape of said desire."
"So she could turn into a cappucino?" Andrew said.
"No, she'd turn into a woman holding a cappucino. Or a man. Or whatever you were desiring," Lara said.
"How very disturbing," Andrew said. "I can't say I'm exactly thrilled to have a shape-shifter working for us, given my experiences with...you know. Is this transformation going to happen arbitrarily, or is it controllable?"
"Controllable," Lara said.
"What's controllable?" asked Dragon, coming over with coffee for the three humans seated at the table.
"Your ability to shape-shift," Lara replied.
While she was small for her race, Dragon was easily ten feet tall, sitting back on her haunches, to say nothing of the length of her long tail, or the span of her wings, currently folded behind her. Her red scales gleamed beneath the glow of the halogen lights. Andrew looked back at the tables and chairs Dragon had absently shoved aside making her way to serve them.
"Is it an illusion," Andrew asked, "Or do you actually change shape?"
"I actually change shape," Dragon replied.
"And you can become anything?"
"Anyone," Dragon said. "We can't become a plant, or a rock, or a television set. And our transformations are based upon a person's desires. We can't imagine someone and become them. We have to draw upon a person's desire, and become that."
"Seems rather limiting," Andrew observed.
"It's actually rather handy," Dragon replied. "Especially when you're at the mercy of some sword-wielding hero. Nothing better than being able to run behind a tree and become the maiden he thinks he's rescuing."
"Until he discovers the actual maiden, I suppose," Lara suggested.
"She's usually quite eaten by the time the hero shows up," Dragon said in a matter-of-fact way. "Not to my tastes--I'm strictly a domestic diner--none of that haute cuisine for me. I prefer my food to not approach my level of intelligence."
"Well," said Lara, in a flushed voice, "that's a relief to know."
"I want a demonstration," Andrew said. "Read one of us and change shape."
"Who should I read?" Dragon asked.
"Read Blackout," Andrew suggested.
"Where's the fun in that?" Blackout said. "I guarantee, you're going to get a copy of Lara. No surprise there."
"I'm not interested in surprises," Andrew said. "I just want to see it happen. If Dragon's going to work here, it would help if she weren't so big--bull in a china shop, that sort of thing."
"Very well," Dragon said, then fixed her gaze firmly upon Blackout. One moment, she was a huge, red-scaled creature of myth. The next, she was a perfect replica of Lara.
"That was unexpected," said Andrew.
"Ohmigod!" Lara squealed.
"Whoops," was all Blackout could say.