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    Mawgrim
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction that combine worlds created by the original content owner with names, places, characters, events, and incidents that are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, organizations, companies, events or locales are entirely coincidental. Authors are responsible for properly crediting Original Content creator for their creative works.
Recognized characters/events/plots from Dragonriders of Pern belong to Ann McCaffrey

Canon-typical violence, character deaths

Threadfall - 1. Delivery Duties

The weyrlings have progressed to delivering firestone to the Wings during Threadfall.

Thread fell from the cloudless sky like a deadly rain. D’gar had been close to it many times now, but the sight of the stuff still made his skin crawl. It was vile, alien; an organism that devoured mindlessly and would devastate the surface of Pern if not for dragons and their riders.

He checked the sacks fastened to either side of Herebeth’s fighting straps. Today, he was delivering to ‘C’ Wing. The heaviest, largest sacks were for the bronzes; Tiriorth and Piroth. Just a few sevendays ago, he’d been one of those who graded the stone and filled the sacks. Now he’d moved on to the task of delivering it. This would be his fourth Fall in the new role and he felt as if he was starting to get the measure of it.

Both he and Herebeth scanned all around them as they flew up toward the Wing. ‘C’ Wing were fighting the top level today; the most dangerous of all. They were the first to encounter Thread as it fell and inevitably used more firestone. He was close enough now to see the bright colours of the dragons’ hide and the brighter flare of hot flame. Bits of charred Thread drifted down, sticking to Herebeth’s hide and to his clothes and face.

Delivering replacement firestone was a vital job and the accepted way for young dragons and their riders to become used to the conditions of Fall. It carried its own risks. Not all of the weyrlings who advanced to this stage lived long enough to graduate to a fighting Wing.

D’gar had listened well to the cautionary tales of weyrling pairs who’d inadvertently ridden under the path of falling Thread through a variety of simple - but deadly - mistakes. N’teren had drilled them many times on what they needed to watch out for until they could recite it in their sleep. ‘However,’ he’d added at the end of each lesson, ‘Theory is essential to your understanding but you can’t beat practical experience.’

The Weyrlingmaster’s words rang in his head as Herebeth’s powerful wingbeats drove them up toward the Wingleader’s bronze. There was an art to a successful delivery, D’gar had learned. You tried to gauge the fall of Thread as you ascended, so that you reached the recipient in a clear patch. Your dragon spoke to his dragon, warning that you were on the way. Getting flamed by accident could be just as lethal as being hit by Thread.

Piroth is ready for us, Herebeth said. In the final approach, D’gar unhooked the first sack. He was glad now of all the lifting and throwing S’brin and he had practised. He could handle the heaviest sacks without too much effort. Close enough now, Herebeth matched his wingbeats to Piroth’s while D’gar signalled to R’feem before throwing the first sack across. The Wingleader caught it deftly and secured it to the right side of Piroth’s straps, then beckoned for the second one. His delivery finished he gave a brief wave before heading out toward Tiriorth.

Thread! Herebeth’s warning came almost at the same time as he dived, then blinked between to avoid a twisting clump that had been sent their way from the downdraught of the nearby dragon wings. They emerged a few seconds later into clear air then resumed their approach. D’gar took a deep breath of the foul, char-filled air and willed his heart to stop hammering. That had been close. Still, every Fall there were moments like that, when a second or so one way or another would have resulted in injury or worse. You had to try and be like a dragon; live in the moment and forget the might-have-beens.

Well done, he told Herebeth. Saved us again. He wondered if it was due to his dragon’s superior field of vision or something instinctive. He’d tried asking, but Herebeth had replied I just know, yet was was unable to say why. Instinct then; similar to how dragons always emerged from between in the same orientation as when they’d entered it. Or, indeed, how they knew to navigate between at all.

I look after us both, Herebeth responded. I tell Tiriorth we are on the way. He asks me to hold back while he deals with some Thread. D’gar watched as the bronze seared a massive clump in one single fiery blast. I’grast glanced across and beckoned him closer, while Belloth, to his right, took up the slack and dealt with a couple of smaller tangles. The blue dragon made tight turns that no bronze or brown could hope to match, proving that every colour had their own skills and advantages.

He threw the two sacks across, then they banked away and went between to the other leg of the inverted V formation, where they delivered another two, smaller bags to green Lilith. Her rider, V’chal, flashed him a smile before tossing back the empty sacks.

Back to the dump, he said, giving a clear visual of the firestone bunker, where they would pick up their next order. What do we need next?

Herebeth came back with the answer almost immediately. Two for Jalolth, one for Belloth and one for Famenth.

He liked the way Herebeth always put them in colour order. It helped him remember the names of the dragons and their positions in the formation. The cold nothingness of between enveloped them, then they were back in warm daylight, spiralling down toward the dump where the newest crop of weyrlings toiled.

‘Two brown, one blue, one green,’ he called out, throwing down the empty sacks as Herebeth backwinged to a neat landing. He watched the crew working, noticing that they hadn’t got it down to as fine an art as his own clutch had perfected. They’d learn, though, just as he was mastering the new tasks he’d been set. He fastened the sacks, making sure they were properly secured. It took a few seconds more, but was worth it to prevent the embarrassment - or injury - that might result if one dropped off and plummeted to earth.

Zemianth returns, Herebeth informed him just moments before the blast of cold air and the smell of burned Thread heralded her descent.

‘Three bronze, two blue, two green,’ S’brin called out. ‘How’s it going?’ he shouted across to D’gar.

‘Not bad. You?’

‘Fine. Guess what. That idiot T’mudra got the sacks mixed up. Really pissed off Z’los, apparently.’

‘F’ Wing’s leader was notoriously short-tempered. ‘At least he hasn’t dropped any.’

‘Yet,’ he snorted. ‘These weyrlings are a bit slow.’

‘They’ll pick up after a few more Falls. Anyway. Better get these delivered. See you later.’

‘Yeah.’

Herebeth sprang into the air, then took them back between to the fighting zone above Ruatha Hold. First delivery was to N’rir, the other Wingsecond. Jalolth was a lighter shade of brown than Herebeth, his hide scarred from the scores he’d acquired over thirty Turns of fighting Thread. Both sacks safely away, he banked sharply to a lower level, well out of the way of any flame, before heading towards Famenth, the second drop.

All of a sudden, an intense feeling of sadness surged through D’gar’s mind. He knew what it meant; a dragon and rider had died. Back at the Weyr, dragons would keen; here in the thick of Threadfall, this was how their sorrow was expressed. It was one of those things that he’d been told about, but not fully understood until now. Practical experience, he thought, wiping away the tears that had sprung to his eyes from the emotional impact. As it faded, he realised that S’brin and Zemianth were up here today and it might be them who had ridden into a clump of Thread, or made a bad jump between due to pain, or shock. They might already be gone and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it.

Herebeth still flew straight and steady. Famenth knows we approach, he said, reminding D’gar that he had a job to do, whatever might have happened. He concentrated on getting the deliveries done, then, with everyone re-supplied for the time being, made his way back to the landing ground near the dump. Three other dragons had already returned. He recognised Toth and Ganath from Loranth’s clutch, Zurinth from their own. Herebeth landed neatly beside them. ‘Anyone seen S'brin?’ he asked, almost fearing the answer.

‘He’s taken another delivery up,’ K’torl said. ‘Right before you landed.’

D’gar felt a sense of relief. If S’brin had only just left the firestone bunker, then it wouldn’t have been him and Zemianth who died. Relief turned quickly to guilt; someone was still dead after all.

Zemianth is well, Herebeth informed him.

You could have told me that before.

You did not ask.

D’gar noticed a grey look to Zurinth’s colour. ‘You all right?’ he asked J’rud.

He gave a brief shake of his head. ‘I saw it happen. That pair who died. It was only two dragons away from my delivery. They’d gone after some Thread and didn’t see another lot coming down on top of them.’ He slapped a fist into his other palm. ‘Just like that. All over. They were hit, went between and never came back.’

Death was a fact of life during a Pass. He’d been aware of it before, but in an abstract way; the Weyrleader reading out lists of names at Turn’s End, drinks passed around in the dining hall after a bad Fall. Now they were seeing the price of fighting Thread first hand. J’rud had probably been lucky it hadn’t been any more gruesome or bloody.

‘You’ll see a few sights like that now you’re on deliveries,’ M’rell said. ‘It’s tough, but you can’t do anything about it. Just watch yourselves so you don’t end up joining them.’

A shadow suddenly crossed the sun and a wash of freezing air chilled them briefly. D’gar looked up to see Zemianth’s familiar silver-green hide as she descended. Even though Herebeth had already said she was all right, he was still glad to see them alive and well.

They got an earlier turn in the baths than those stationed in the dump. Once their straps were removed, Herebeth and Zemianth raced each other toward the lake, eager to wash the char and the smell of firestone from their hide. D’gar and S’brin made their own way into the bathing cavern, together with J’rud, who was still obviously shaken, although trying to pretend that he wasn’t. The riders already splashing around seemed as exuberant as ever after a Fall.

J’rud shook his head. ‘How can they act like nothing’s happened?’

‘If everyone got miserable whenever someone died, the Weyr would be a pretty gloomy place.’ S’brin pulled his shirt off over his head. ‘It’s just how things are.’

D’gar thought he understood. For J’rud, death had suddenly become tangible; close-up and very real. It was another stage they all had to get through before joining a Wing. Once you were fighting, you couldn’t afford to be distracted every time someone died.

‘They’ll give him a good send off later,’ S’brin added, still trying to cheer J’rud up. ‘We’ve seen it happen loads of times.’

Everyone in the Wing would get drunk and remember the rider and his dragon, swapping stories of their life and exploits. If he had a weyrmate who wasn’t in the same Wing, or might not even be a dragonrider, they’d include him or her in the commemoration. Then tomorrow, everyone would nurse their hangovers and the Wingleader would re-shuffle the formations or find a replacement before the next Fall. Life went on.

‘I know how it works,’ J’rud said. ‘Still a bit of a shock, though. This morning, he was alive, just like we are. Now he’s not.’

‘Well, while we’re here, shall we get in the baths before anyone else arrives. There’s a space over there.’ S’brin led the way and they joined some of the riders from ‘C’ Wing in one of the smaller pools.

‘Budge up,’ someone said. ‘Make room for the weyrlings.’

It was V’chal, D’gar noted. After Fall, he always flirted relentlessly. D’gar and S’brin had often watched him make his moves, picking out whoever he was aiming to spend the post-Threadfall evening with.

‘Had a good Fall?’ he asked, getting just a bit too close to D’gar.

‘Not too bad,’ he said; the standard reply. S’brin had gone on ahead, into a deeper part of the pool and he wanted to follow, but V’chal was blocking the way.

‘We were talking about you at the last green meeting.’ A slight smile curled his lips. ‘Saying how well you were coming along.’

‘Me, or my dragon?’

‘Well, both really. Wonder how long it’ll be before he wants to chase greens?’

D’gar shrugged. ‘Not for a while, probably.’

‘Well, if you feel like getting a bit of practise in, I don’t mind showing you a few tricks. You know where my weyr is, if you fancy it.’

‘I’m fine, thanks.’ You were supposed to be polite to wingriders when you were still only a weyrling. ’S’brin and I get plenty of practise,’ he added, just to make sure V’chal understood he already had a partner.

‘Well, you know what they say. Everyone needs a bit of variety in their life.’

S’brin had evidently realised what was happening and swam back. ‘Are you chatting up my weyrmate?’ He stood to tower over V’chal in an intimidating manner.

‘He’s not your weyrmate. You don’t have a weyr yet.’

That was technically correct, but V’chal was just saying it to irritate S’brin. D’gar thought it was also fairly brave of him, as S’brin looked like he could snap him in half if he wanted to.

It worked. ’Not the point, is it,’ S’brin snapped. ‘He doesn’t want you slobbering all over him.’

‘No harm in asking, is there?’ V’chal waded away. ‘If you get tired of him telling you what to do, I’m always available,’ he called back to D’gar.

‘He’s a nuisance,’ S’brin said. ‘It’s folk like him who give green riders a bad name.’

‘Every stereotype is based on some truth.’ V’chal had already moved on to his next choice. Even though he hadn’t been seriously tempted to take up the offer, D’gar felt flattered that V’chal had tried it on with him. It meant he was now seen as fair game, like a proper dragonrider. ‘And I was dealing with it. You didn’t need to save me from him.’

S’brin gave him an odd look. ‘Do you fancy him?’

‘Don’t be daft. You’re much more my type.’ That served to defuse the tension and they went over to join J’rud at the deep end of the pool. Telling him what had happened brought a smile to his face for the first time since Fall ended.

Weyr life continued as normal. The barracks had acquired another twenty-three inhabitants, to replace those who’d graduated to the Wings and now had their own weyrs. Suderoth’s latest hatchlings spent a lot of time sleeping, eating and stumbling over things. One of the bronzes seemed particularly clumsy; he’d knocked over the dung bucket several times and done some serious damage to a fortunately unoccupied bed. The new riders seemed younger and far less mature than he and S’brin had been just over a Turn ago. To get away from all the noise, they’d taken their dragons to the flat piece of ground over by the lake. It was pleasant in the spring sunshine.

‘I can’t believe our dragons were ever that small.’ S’brin oiled a dry patch on Zemianth’s flank. ‘Or that awkward.’

‘Oh, they were.’ D’gar sat with his back against Herebeth’s shoulder. Both of them were enjoying the warmth of the sun and the luxury of a free day with nothing much to do. Along the shore, several other dragons and their riders were also relaxing or bathing, although some of the wing riders had left earlier for a trip to a beach in Southern Boll. ‘Be nice when we’re allowed to leave the Weyr unaccompanied,’ he sighed, changing the subject.

‘That’ll be a while yet.’

Fort’s newest gold dragon, Gemalth, paddled around in the shallows. Her rider, Zalna, seemed reluctant to join her, perching on a smooth rock half way up the shore, her hands clasped around her knees. On Hatching Day, she’d seemed as surprised as anyone when the little gold hatchling had cracked her shell and stumbled towards her.

‘You’d have thought she’d have got used to it by now,’ S’brin said. ’It’s been almost two months.’

‘She’s Holdbred.’ The Weyr came as a shock to many of those who were Searched, although once they became used to the way of life, few left, even if they failed to Impress a dragon. ‘She might be missing her family.’

‘Gemalth’s her family now. Along with the rest of her clutchmates, annoying though they are.’ S’brin ducked under Zemianth’s wing and applied some more of the oil.

Over on the feeding grounds, a green dragon shrieked, taunting her suitors. The sun always triggered a few into rising. Herebeth looked up at the noise, but then he yawned and put his head back down on his front legs.

Not interested? D’gar asked him.

Why? Should I be?

He’d been told time and time again that brown and bronze dragons often didn’t mature enough to want to mate until well into their second Turn. Still, there was no harm in asking.

S’brin had evidently seen Herebeth’s reaction to the green. ‘Looks as if he’s unlikely to be chasing Zemianth next time she rises.’

‘How long do you reckon that will be?’ Some greens rose more frequently than others; their cycle could be anywhere between three and five months.

‘Another month, maybe longer. I hope she gives me a bit more warning than before. All this attention I pay her and she doesn’t even give me time to get myself ready.’ Zemianth turned her head around, her eyes whirling contentedly and nudged him gently. ‘She says I’ve missed a bit. Which part of your wing is it?’ He slathered some more oil on as she held her wing low so he could reach it. ‘So, when Herebeth finally does take an interest, do you think he’ll chase Lilith?’

‘I imagine he’ll chase whoever it is who’s first to rise.’ Neither of them could guarantee that would be Zemianth. Besides, male dragons didn’t usually succeed in catching a female for their first few tries. ‘Why Lilith?’

‘The way V’chal was going after you the other day.’

Ah, so that was it. ‘Are you jealous?’ he teased.

‘Course not.’

Except it sounded as if he was. ‘Before Zemianth rose the first time, I really worried you might hit it off with whoever’s dragon caught her.’

‘Don’t be daft.’

‘Well, then. Why should it be any different for me?’

Before S’brin had a chance to answer, M’rell stepped over Herebeth’s outstretched tail to join them. ‘Hey there.’ he said. ‘I thought that was Herebeth and Zemianth, so I knew you two wouldn’t be far away. Mind if I join you?’

‘What is it?’ S’brin sounded slightly abrupt. ‘We were in the middle of something.’

D’gar compensated for him. ‘We were only talking about mating flights.’

‘Ah.’ M’rell looked slightly embarrassed. ‘That’s what I wanted to ask you about.’

‘Oh, yes?’

‘Well, Toth’s starting to show an interest in greens. I reckon he’ll want to chase one soon.’

Toth was almost six months older than Herebeth. It would figure.

‘Lucky you,’ S’brin said. ‘And…?’

‘I… er, don’t have much experience in that side of things…’ he trailed off.

‘I thought you and that girl - Rina - were a bit more than just good friends,’ D’gar said.

M’rell smiled. ‘Yes, we are. But… she’s a girl. I’ve never done it with a man.’

‘I shouldn’t worry about that too much. Once your dragon’s got the urge, you won’t have much choice in the matter.’

‘That’s sort of what I’m worried about. I don’t want to be half way out of my head and hurt someone because I don’t know what I’m doing.’

D’gar could see his point there. It was what concerned him about mating flights, too.

‘And I thought that as Toth’s probably going to end up chasing one of our clutch or one of yours, you’d be the best ones to ask. Plus, you two are, well, experienced.’

‘Admit it,’ S’brin grinned. ‘You find me irresistible.’

M’rell rolled his eyes. ‘I might do if you had smaller muscles and bigger breasts.’

‘I’m wounded.’ S’brin pretended to wipe away a tear. ‘Well then, you think D’gar is cute. I know I do.’

‘No offence or anything, but I don’t really fancy either of you. Just thought you might be able to give me some tips. But if you can’t, then I’ll not bother you.’ He started to walk away.

‘No, wait.’ D’gar stopped him. If more bronze and brown riders were that thoughtful, there’d be less green riders suffering the consequences of rough mating flights. ‘I’m sure we can help out.’

S’brin feigned shock. ‘Oh no! You have a secret crush on M’rell.’

D’gar gave him a wicked look. ‘From what I’ve seen of him in the baths, I’d give him seven and a half, maybe eight out of ten.’

‘What?’ M’rell seemed slightly alarmed.

‘It’s just a game we play, nothing to worry about,’ S’brin assured him. ‘It’s a compliment.’ He turned to D’gar. ‘You are such a green, sometimes. I do wonder why Herebeth chose you.’

‘I know exactly why Zemianth picked you.’

The next moment S’brin had him pinned on the ground, sitting astride him. He wriggled a bit, then turned to M’rell. ‘Right then. You’ve got your green. Shall I show you what happens next?’ He started to unfasten D’gar’s trousers.

M’rell looked even more alarmed.’Not here,’ he said. He glanced around. ‘People can see.’

‘There’s something digging into my back,’ D’gar said.

‘Hmm. There’s something digging in to me, too.’ S’brin deliberately ground against him a second time.

While he was distracted, D’gar saw his chance and tried a wrestling move he’d seen some of the older riders do. It worked. He managed to dislodge S’brin and ended up on top of him. Well, for a few seconds anyway, before S’brin used his extra weight to turn it around again. ‘You’re right. This ground isn’t very comfortable. Shall we take this somewhere else.’

‘It’s fine.’ M’rell said. ‘I wasn’t asking for a demonstration, just some advice.’

‘Didn’t you ever listen to N’teren’s lectures?’ S’brin shook his head at M’rell, then carried on in a passable imitation of the Weyrlingmaster’s voice. ‘“It’s essential to understand the theory, but you can’t beat…”’

‘Practical experience,’ both D’gar and M’rell said at the same time.

Copyright © 2020 Mawgrim; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction that combine worlds created by the original content owner with names, places, characters, events, and incidents that are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, organizations, companies, events or locales are entirely coincidental. Authors are responsible for properly crediting Original Content creator for their creative works.
Recognized characters/events/plots from Dragonriders of Pern belong to Ann McCaffrey
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I don't read fan fiction, but when this came up in the queue, I had to check because I've loved the series since 10th grade way back in the early 70s.  I saw the list, then read through this Pass, and then went on to Ninth Pass, not realizing it would have the same cast...well, though I'm now current on all of it, I want to see more of this story to fill in the gaps.
I'm enjoying this a lot, especially now that I can't revisit my original paper copies due to vision problems, I can enjoy a new visit with your tales.
I do have to say that I began losing interest in the series a few books into Todd's books once they made the settlements on Southern and found the ancient city of Landing and solved the mystery of the Three Dawn Sisters.  He seemed to have lost the spirit of adventure in favor of involved  'explanations' for why things came about, and his characters became more generic figures than real people.

More please, Mawgrim!

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2 hours ago, ColumbusGuy said:

I do have to say that I began losing interest in the series a few books into Todd's books once they made the settlements on Southern and found the ancient city of Landing and solved the mystery of the Three Dawn Sisters.  He seemed to have lost the spirit of adventure in favor of involved  'explanations' for why things came about, and his characters became more generic figures than real people.

It’s not just you. Quite a few people I know who enjoyed the original books lost interest at that point. Todd just doesn’t have the same flair for creating interesting characters as his mother did. 
The brilliant thing about Pern from any writer's point of view is that there are so many gaps to fill in. Like you, I started reading the series back in the 1970's with a copy of 'Dragonflight' from my local library and waited for each new book eagerly.

Thanks for reading and for leaving comments.

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I'll mention a little story from my 10th grade art class to show the impact the series had on me then: one of my projects was to paint a green dragon on one of the room's windows based on AM's descriptions, and it was still there two years later when I graduated.  I then drew a picture of an interior Hold hall during Fall and gave it to a friend, who still has it forty five years later....

That window is mentioned in my story Jay & Miles which is a retelling of those years as they should have been if I'd had the courage to follow up an invitation to meet another boy one night to 'talk'.  Small towns weren't a place to be open back in those days. 

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Excellent start to this story, but still hard for me since we know the future, just a feeling of melancholy even when there really should not be one.

Well written and flowed beautifully.

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Yes, it's interesting that green riders get special lessons on what to expect, but why don't the other colors get lessons on how not to hurt their partner.

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The continuity and pacing of this story was fantastic.  Now the boys are growing and maturing they face much greater danger.  Although no fighting thread themselves, the reality is striking.  I am delighted that Herebeth has a very good instinctive awareness of thread and saved D'gar from danger.  S'bin's possessive attitude toward D'gar might be cute, but also a danger to S'bin if he is distracted by it during threadfall.  The last scene with M'rell was humorous and I wonder how he will react when his green rises.

I do agree about Todd's books.  He made and effort, but being a writer and being a great writer like his mother are two very different skills.  

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1 hour ago, raven1 said:

I do agree about Todd's books.  He made and effort, but being a writer and being a great writer like his mother are two very different skills. 

Todd sometimes seemed to have totally disregarded some of his mother's canon, which I found odd, considering he would have had access to all of Anne's notes. Plus he can't write characters as well as she did.

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