HalfDragons are curious beasts, or so Rada Ni Drako would tell you, as long as Joschka is not around, that is. A hybrid of True-dragons and humans, HalfDragons are fascinating in that they are not sterile. Joschka could have offspring with Zabet, for example, as well as with Magda. Had Magda been a HalfDragon, their children might well have included a True-dragon as well as humans. Some people aver that HalfDragons capture the best of both species. Depending on her mood, Rada would agree, or grouse about having to deal with the stubbornness of the True-Dragon, and their lack of regard for the past, as well as the frenetic energy of humans and their insatiable urge to fiddle with things. Rada came by her opinion honestly, because HalfDragons are the backbone of the Houses on Earth, and Rada ends up crossing paths with a fair number of them will she or nil she.
In general HalfDragons are stronger than pure humans. This is both physically, with greater strength per unit of muscle mass, and with better immune systems and repair mechanisms. The average HalfDragon can live well into her 140s or 150s, longer in some cases, and stays mentally sharp. This is a good thing, because HalfDragons are far more likely than pure humans to have psionic abilities of some kind, beyond the hypnotic gift that all HalfDragons share. For example, Joschka and his great-grandson Johann (Hannes) are very strong telepaths, both active and receptive. They also possess the twist of mind that allows them to work with the Powers as Guardians. Joschka is so strong that, when he puts all his concentration and focus into the effort, he can reach Rada across several kilometers distance. He just rarely exerts himself to that extent. Rada suspects that if he or Hannes needed to, for the good of the Drachental, they could do serious damage to an attacking force using telepathy alone. But the price would be very high. István Eszterházy was not quite as strong of a telepath, but his links with the Powers were far stronger, strong enough that, well, no spoilers. But he was also a Healer, although how that particular ability emerged was a rather interesting story. Rudolph Habsburg was a stronger telepath, far stronger, but it was as Guardian that he came into his own.
How can a human spot a HalfDragon? Not easily. Even Rada has trouble if the individual in question is shielding and careful. Physical examination would reveal the presence of small scaly patches of skin, fingernails that tend to elongate and curve slightly more than a human, and subtle differences in the internal genitalia. Now, a genetic test would reveal the difference instantly, and if the HalfDragon is not being careful, the eyes (and teeth and talon-like nails) reveal everything.
A HalfDragon’s eyes are the key. They are often an unusual color (for a human), such as turquoise, or gold with darker flecks, or even the color of dried blood, or purple. The pupil is vertical much like a cat’s eye, which leads to one of the rumors that Rada and Joschka are siblings or cousins. When they are masking the color, HalfDragons generally have more common colored eyes (although there are a few exceptions, like Archduke Rudolph Habsburg, although his shading may be deliberate, another way to keep people off balance). When exerting the hypnotic-control aspect of their psionic abilities, the eye appears to shimmer and swirl, drawing the subject/victim’s attention in. A loss of emotional control often leads to an apparent color change as well, causing people to see the HalfDragon’s eyes as brilliant red. Not blood-shot red, but a flaming crimson that serves as the last warning before all control breaks and mayhem ensues.
Despite what Rada encounters, the vast majority of HalfDragons are not warriors. They lead ordinary normal lives, for whatever culture’s setting of normal happens to be. Hannes’s wife Elke is a councilor and works with refugees, or she did before she marries and becomes Gräfin von Hohen-Drachenburg. Some of Joschka’s distant cousins run a luxury resort, while others are in government or manage an import-export business.
As mentioned before, HalfDragons can reproduce with both humans and True-dragons. This is not generally a major concern, at least not before the days (on Earth) of “modern” pre-natal and obstetric care. Hannes and his wife have a bit of a surprise, because their fourth child is a True-dragon. Luckily, “Aunt Rachel” looks at the initial ultrasound and realizes the “problem.” Officially Gräfin Elke loses the child in the first trimester. In reality she carries to term and Clotilda Maria Ursula grows up to be a happy, healthy True-Dragon healer and archivist.
Not al HalfDragons belong to Houses, although the vast majority of those on Earth do. The Houses provide some protection for unusual individuals, and tend to be rather durable as long as the leadership is good. Rada and Joschka firmly support the Houses and see them as a great good. Archduke Rudolph would disagree, but he was never given the option of choosing.
Rada likes being around HalfDragons. They tend to be less prejudice about people like her, and they also have better shielding and emotional control. They don’t rub her quite as raw as pure humans can, and do. There are as many sinners as saints among HalfDragons, just like humans and True-dragons, but that’s how the Universe works. As Rada will be the first to tell anyone, fair is a place where you go to buy and sell, not a description of life.