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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. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
Dragonriders of Pern series was created by Ann McCaffrey in 1967 and spans 24+ books published by Ballantine Books, Atheneum Books, Bantam Books, and Del Rey Books.  Any recognizable content in this story is from Ann McCaffrey, Todd McCaffrey, Gigi McCaffrey or their representatives or inheritors.  Original content provided by author of this FanFiction story without monetary compensation.

Canon-typical violence, character deaths

Threadfall - 30. Just Rewards

The seconded riders have a day at the beach. What could possibly go wrong?

Emerging from between into the strong southern sunlight made D’gar realise how much he’d missed it. Below them, Big Bay sparkled and a long beach of reddish sand curved away into a hazy distance. Z’ma didn’t take them down there, though, but across some cliffs to drop down into a smaller, more sheltered cove. The sand was almost the same colour, but the waves smaller. Most of the dragons splashed straight into the sea as soon as their straps were removed. It was a delight to watch them play, diving through the water, or propelling themselves upward to spout like ship fish.

‘This is ideal,’ D’gar said, finding Z’ma. ‘Good choice.’ The air felt pleasantly warm, but without the humidity of Southern Boll. It reminded him of some of the beaches close to Fort Sea Hold, only with finer sand.

‘Thought you’d like it. Most of the weyrfolk go to places closer to the Weyr. And Red Sands, just over the way.’ He gestured over his left shoulder.

‘Was that the one I could see when we were descending?’

‘That’s it. The waves are choppier that side of the island, which some prefer. This is my favourite, though.’

Riders were already unpacking blankets, food and drink, getting ready for a long day in the sun. Some chose to sit in large groups, others in pairs. It was good to see that, in general, Weyr affiliations had been put aside. To one side, a group of green riders had gathered, stripping off and slathering each other’s backs with oil. T’mudra sat with the other riders in Far Cry Wing. Many of the northerners from Benden and High Reaches had deliberately chosen to stay closer to the cliffs, where there was some shade available.

J’rud beckoned him over. He’d chosen a spot near some smooth rocks. Most of the Greenfields riders were there, even A’myrrin.

‘Mind you don’t get burned,’ D’gar advised, as the Benden rider stripped off his shirt. Whatever the natural skin colour of the northerners, all of them looked as if they weren’t used to sun.

‘He’ll be fine,’ J’rud chided. ‘What are you, his mum?’

‘No. Just don’t want him suffering through Fall tomorrow. Wherhide can be uncomfortable enough, let alone on tender skin.’

‘Think I’m going for a dip with Zurinth. How about you?’

‘Definitely.’ He’d not had a swim since leaving Fort and he didn’t count floating around in the baths. Telgar’s lake was too chilly for his liking.

They raced each other to the sea. It wasn’t as warm as in Southern Boll, but perfect for swimming. Later on, when the sun rose higher, they’d be glad to cool off in it. D’gar swam easily out towards Herebeth. He was sticking close to Zurinth, as usual. She didn’t look any brighter than normal, so she’d probably not rise today, unlike Kezath, who’d already taken on a slight glow. Several of the male dragons clustered around her, while H’xet floated contentedly in S’naull’s arms.

D’gar nudged J’rud. ‘Think we might have a mating flight later.’

J’rud smiled, as he trod water. ‘Maybe more than one.’

‘Zurinth’s not that close, surely.’

‘You never know once she gets a bit of sun. She was soaking it up all day yesterday as well.’

D’gar hoped not. There didn’t seem to be anywhere very private on the beach. Not that he’d care at the time, if it happened, but he’d have to face all these people afterwards. ‘I thought she always gave you plenty of warning?’

‘Normally, yes. But with the move to Telgar and then not getting much food for a few days, it’s unsettled her. Plus, if Kezath goes up, it might set her off, too.’

‘I don’t think there’s any “if” about Kezath. More like how long before she does.’

‘At least S’naull can stop him drowning. Quite romantic really. Would you save me?’ J’rud floated closer and put his arms around D’gar’s neck.

‘You know I would.’ He was getting contented, happy thoughts from Herebeth. Zurinth is such a pretty dragon. J’rud couldn’t be called unattractive either.

‘Zurinth thinks Herebeth is sexy,’ J’rud said.

‘Dragons don’t say things like that.’

‘Well, she said he was strong, but the feeling she threw at me was definitely sexy. She wants him to catch her and for them to glide through this cloudless sky for a long, long time.’

D’gar couldn’t deny he felt good, here with J’rud. And if Zurinth did rise today, it would be safer than at Telgar. ‘We’d best stay close, then.’

‘The closer the better.’

J’rud was definitely being affected by Zurinth’s mood. Shells! Maybe she would rise today? And if she did, there was nothing he could do about it, so he might as well enjoy the situation.

J’rud showed off a few of his fancy dives from Zurinth’s back. D’gar swam under the dragon to surprise him. Play fighting turned to something more intimate a couple of times. Herebeth approved, so he didn’t even feel guilty about it.

After a while, they went back to the beach to dry off and get some sun, sharing the same blanket. They’d not been out of the water very long when Kezath bugled a loud call, then flapped her wings frantically, sending up a veritable waterfall before setting off.

Dugolth, being large and heavy, wasn’t the quickest away by a long shot. A couple of blues stayed closest to her, but Kezath kept them off her tail until the bronze was able to catch up.

‘This is going to be a quick flight,’ J’rud commented, shielding his eyes as he stared up into the sky. ‘And she’s definitely favouring Dugolth.’

The dragons climbed higher, turning to tiny specks that danced and wheeled before Kezath finally succeeded in placing herself where Dugolth could reach out and catch her. The losing dragons quickly lost interest, descending rapidly back towards the cove, while their riders took themselves off behind the rocks. A couple of green riders eagerly joined them. S’naull and H’xet had found a small overhang; not quite a cave, but sheltered from the sun just under the cliffs. Everyone stayed well away to give them a bit of privacy.

’T’garrin wouldn’t have won himself any marks predicting the outcome of that one,’ D’gar commented, feeling the familiar pang of homesickness as he pictured Fort Weyr. It seemed like far longer than a just couple of sevendays since they’d left.

‘Look at Zurinth,’ J’rud said. She reared up in the water, drawing attention to herself. There was a gleam to her flanks that wasn’t just sun reflecting on wet hide. A couple of dragons seemed to be showing an interest, although Herebeth was doing his best to be protective and using his wings to block their view.

J’rud had obviously been right about the other green flight setting her off. He knew her well by now, so it wasn’t surprising. ‘Maybe we should find somewhere a bit more… secluded. And in the shade.’

J’rud glanced around the place. ‘There’ll be somewhere under the cliffs.’

‘Hey,’ someone called to him. ‘Is your green going to go off, too?’

‘Looks like it,’ J’rud replied, almost unconsciously preening in the same manner as his dragon.

Some of the other riders were watching him intently. D’gar wanted to shove them away, feeling as jealous as Herebeth. ‘Let’s find somewhere, then,’ he agreed, pulling J’rud to his feet, then picking up the blanket and the skin of water he’d brought.

As they walked up the beach, he heard the commotion in the sea increasing. He didn’t need to turn to see it as he was already getting images through being partially linked to Herebeth. It felt strange to be walking on hot sand, while simultaneously feeling cool water lapping over wings. J’rud was rapidly becoming lost in Zurinth’s mind and D’gar had to guide him so he didn’t stumble over obstacles or stub his toes on the larger rocks. He did glance back once or twice to see who was following, as they tried to find their own equivalent of a flight cave. He recognised K’dis and A’myrrin, both blue riders, plus a couple of others he wasn’t so familiar with. Judging by the dragons drawing closer to Zurinth down in the ocean, they were probably browns. Herebeth hissed at one of them, warning him not to get too close, as Zurinth continued to taunt her suitors. Not that he wasn’t glad of the extra time it was giving him to find the perfect spot, but he wished she’d just get on with it.

There were no actual caves in the cliff, but he spotted another overhang and changed direction to steer J’rud that way. Just as they reached it, Zurinth finally launched herself in a blinding shower of sea spray which the sun transformed into rainbows. Herebeth lurched after her, while the blues, just as when Kezath took flight, were quicker away.

D’gar shook loose sand from the blanket and spread it out, glaring at the others who now surrounded them, while letting his mind soar up into the sky with Herebeth. J’rud stayed on his feet, swaying slightly as he flew with Zurinth. Herebeth’s powerful wings allowed him to make up the ground he’d lost initially, buffeting one of the blues aside as he ascended in pursuit of the shining green dragon. D’gar kept just in front of J’rud, shielding him from those others. They weren’t going to get their hands on his mate, whatever they thought. When one of the blue riders took a step closer, he shoved the man away.

J’rud’s expression suddenly turned cunning, as Zurinth glanced back briefly before throwing in a couple of unpredictable twists and turns to confound the other blue, while still gaining height. Herebeth continued to close on her, but one of the browns was keeping up with him, while the other was just a couple of dragon lengths behind.

Move to my left, she said quite clearly. I will deal with these others.

Herebeth trusted her. He moved aside as she threw in some more moves designed to confuse the other dragons. She wanted him as her mate.

Another rider reached out towards J’rud as he contorted his body, mimicking Zurinth’s moves. J’rud pushed him away as Zurinth did much the same, bringing herself out of the manoeuvre so that she drew closer to Herebeth, yet further from those she’d successfully tricked. Still she climbed. Not yet. We need more height.

Herebeth didn’t need her to tell him which direction she was heading any more. He was totally attuned to her moves; in perfect synchronisation. As the other dragons endeavoured to catch them, they soared through the sky, the beach so far below people became invisible and the waves mere white lines against a bright blue sea. How perfectly she flew!

J’rud smiled, although his eyes were still unfocussed. He held out his arms to D’gar at the precise moment when Zurinth finally placed herself in reach of Herebeth. As the dragons twined tails, Herebeth spreading his wings to support them, D’gar gently eased J’rud down onto the blanket. As always, when his dragon mated, he was only half-aware of what his actual body was doing, confused by the feeling of human flesh against his when in his mind, he was still gliding far above.

Zurinth had been right in her prediction of a long flight. Maybe it was because they were over the sea rather than mountains, in fairly still air. Whatever the reason, it went on for enough time that although he was still fully mind-linked with Herebeth, as one should be during a flight, he simultaneously became more aware of his own and J’rud’s bodies, thus able to bring his own lovemaking skills into play. They reached completion at almost the same moment as the dragons found their own state of bliss, before finally separating to fly, side by side and land smoothly onto the calm ocean.

J’rud was himself again; flushed and out of breath, but smiling as he held D’gar close. ‘That was amazing,’ he said. ‘I’ve never had a flight quite like that.’

‘Me neither.’ The usual post-mating flight contentment, fed back through his dragon, made him feel as if everything was right with the world and that he’d like to stay here, close to J’rud for the rest of the day. As minutes passed, punctuated by kisses and endearments, the dragonlust slowly faded and his thoughts became his own once more.

J’rud was looking at him with genuine, human love. While it was beautiful in the context of the moment, D’gar knew that it was wrong to lead him into thinking there might ever be anything more than the occasional mating flight between them. Yet he didn’t want to shatter J’rud’s illusions either. Green riders were much more connected to their dragons’ feelings and to simply cast him aside while Zurinth and Herebeth were so clearly enjoying each other’s company would be both cruel and wrong. Besides, since they’d been at Telgar, J’rud had been his closest friend. They’d been there for each other.

‘You know how much this means to me,’ J’rud said.

‘I know.’

‘You know I lo…’

D’gar silenced him with a kiss. And if that kiss led on to something more, who could blame them? It was a mating flight, after all.

They returned to Telgar Weyr in the evening, just before the dinner gong rang. Herebeth invited Zurinth to share his couch as it was slightly larger than the one in her own weyr. J’rud sat next to D’gar at dinner, although that wasn’t particularly remarkable as they usually did. He joked happily with some of the other riders about getting sand in all sorts of places you didn’t really want it. When they’d eaten and finished up the meal with klah and fruit, D’gar realised he was very tired and that it was an early Fall the following morning.

‘Think I’m going to turn in now,’ he said to J’rud. ‘Want a lift up?’

‘Are you inviting me to your weyr?’

‘Well…’ What was the harm in it? The dragons wanted to stay together. ‘Yes.’

‘Pity it’s so dismal inside.’

‘Then don’t look at the walls.’

Herebeth flew down and waited for them both to climb up. This is better, he said to D’gar. I am happy. You are happy. We both have mates.

Oh, that it could be so simple.

The best thing about having J’rud staying with him was sharing a bed again. Not just in a sexual way, although he couldn’t complain about that, but for the comfort of having someone else snuggle close to him. Even though he’d felt tired earlier, J’rud fell asleep first. D’gar listened to his even breathing, tried not to think too much and eventually dropped off.

The worst thing about having J’rud staying with him was that he was there to witness the state of D’gar on a Threadfall morning, shaky and puking into the piss bucket. J’rud wasn’t even repulsed by it, just held the bucket for him, then emptied it down the hole at the back of the weyr.

‘Is that better now?’ he asked sympathetically.

‘For a while. I’m really sorry…’

‘Don’t be. You can’t help it.’ He sat on the edge of the bed, next to D’gar and put an arm around him. ‘You didn’t used to be like this in the barracks.’

‘We were on deliveries then. I hadn’t seen a lot of the things I’ve seen now. Sometimes it’s better than this, sometimes worse.’

‘Does anything help?’ J’rud ran his hand in circles on D’gar’s back.

‘That does, a bit. Porridge and plenty of klah too. Although I can’t drink as much as I do back home, because of the long Falls here. Herebeth’s already had me puke on him. I really don’t want to piss all over him up there.’ He felt another wave of sickness. ‘Think I might need that bucket again.’

Eventually there was nothing left to throw up. He felt marginally better, glad there wouldn’t be much of a wait this morning. J’rud went back to his own weyr to get his wherhide and Zurinth’s fighting straps. D’gar got dressed, checked the straps a final time and put them on Herebeth. Breakfast first, then we’ll be off.

Will we be fighting with Zurinth?

Probably. Zurinth often got put on the second shift. S’gra had the sense not to break up a pair who fought well together. Now that Herebeth and Zurinth had mated, they would be even more attuned.

A mug of well-sweetened klah did the usual trick and he forced down the watery porridge more from habit than because he enjoyed it. The sight of other riders tucking into eggs and smoked meat; even the smell of it, didn’t do him any favours. He coped, though. He had to.

They started off over the eastern mountains, where Benden riders who had fought Thread across Lemos handed over to them. Before coming to Telgar, he’d never done a handover. Fort always fought alone, over their own narrow area, longer from north to south. But Telgar’s area was so broad, it was common to take over from Benden, or pass on to High Reaches in the west. As always, once they were fighting, his stomach settled. Or most likely, his brain was fully occupied with all the things he had to concentrate on in the air, which didn’t leave anything for feeling sick.

They’d got the extra firestone routine off well now. He took an extra two bags up with him and once away from the Weyr threw them across to Z’nol. He’d order more than he needed when it was time and pass those to Sassalth, another brown, meaning that he was in no danger of running short either.

When they finally went between back to the Weyr, he was exhausted - although he seemed to be getting accustomed to the longer Falls now - and glad to get in the baths. At lunch, he refilled his stomach, drank as much klah as he wanted, then sat back on the bench, feeling wholly satisfied, J’rud leaning against him.

S’gra was pleased with the way the Wing had fought. It was obvious that the Greenfields riders felt slightly less annoyed by those seconded now that they were reaping some of the benefits and not having to wait so long for food.

Before everyone began to disperse, R’mart stood and banged his little gong a couple of times. Everyone swivelled his way. It wasn’t usual for the Weyrleader to make an announcement after lunch. D’gar noticed Bedella looked very tight-lipped. Displeased, even.

‘When I met with my Wingleaders earlier, one of the things we discussed was alterations to the system. It’s been noticed how performance in general has improved since the seconded riders joined us here. Now some,’ he glanced briefly at Bedella, ‘Might say that’s because the Wings are back to full strength, but others of us wondered if it might be something…else.’

He was being very tactful, D’gar thought. J’rud leaned closer, so D’gar could feel his breath on his neck. It was definitely pleasant, although distracting.

‘To prove our theories, we’ve decided to conduct an experiment. As from the next Fall, two of the Wings will be exempt from the points system, just as the seconded pairs are right now. We will monitor their performance over the next four Falls and if the results prove favourable, the current system will be scrapped for everyone.’

Most of the riders cheered at that, proving how unpopular it was, although some - mostly older - muttered and shook heads. Some folk just didn’t like change.

‘How are they going to pick which Wings?’ J’rud asked.

‘Not sure.’ The next moment, he had his answer.

R’mart produced a leather bag from under the table. ‘I’ll ask the Weyrwoman to draw two pieces of hide from this bag to give us the names of the trial Wings, just so that it’s fair.’

Bedella still didn’t look happy, but even she must have realised the tide was against her. She pulled out the first scrap, which R’mart carefully unrolled before pronouncing, ‘Balan Wing.’

An even louder cheer went up from their table.

D’gar saw that S’gra’s fingers were almost white as he gripped his klah mug. Clearly, he wanted Greenfields to be the other Wing chosen, just so he could prove what they were able to do, given the tools.

R’mart fished out the second piece. ‘Campbell’s Wing.’

Another cheer from them and an audible sigh of disappointment around the Greenfields table. Still, they shouldn’t really feel down. It was obvious that once the men and dragons of those two Wings were well fed and didn’t have to ration their consumption of firestone in the air, it would show up the folly of the old system. D’gar could see why R’mart had done it this way. It would quieten any opposition and give him a valid reason for making changes.

The other good thing about Balan and Campbell’s Wing being chosen for the trial was that S’naull was in the former and T’san in the latter. They’d be able to report back with inside information. D’gar also knew that those two Wings had already been exploiting the loopholes and using their seconded pairs in much the same way as S’gra, so their Wingleaders were definitely keen to change. He wondered, slightly cynically, if the draw might have been fixed to ensure that pro-change Wings took part, rather than those who might be less keen to abandon P’kel’s system.

‘Not bad,’ J’rud said. ‘You’ve managed to overturn the Telgar Way in less than three sevendays.’

‘It wasn’t just me. One man can’t do all that alone.’ It was clear from his expression that J’rud didn’t believe him.

They went back up to D’gar’s weyr to relax. D’gar usually felt like sleeping after an early Fall, but it was nice to cuddle up with J’rud, while being aware, in the back of his mind, of their dragons doing the same.

He woke to find J’rud leaning on one elbow and watching him. ‘I thought you were asleep, too.’

‘I was, for a while. Then I was thinking.’

‘Picking up my bad habits, eh?’

J’rud made a face. ‘They aren’t bad. But anyway, what I was thinking was this. We’re on secondment, right?’

‘Well, yes?’

‘Sh’frun and I got together while he was over from Benden. We both knew we weren’t going to leave our own Weyrs, not really. We knew it would have to end when he went home.’

D’gar wondered what he was getting at. ‘So?’

‘Well, while we’re seconded, maybe we could do the same. Just while we’re here.’

‘But we’re both from Fort. We’d have to go back and face the consequences.’

‘I suppose,’ he admitted.

‘I mean, everything we’ve done so far can be excused by Herebeth flying Zurinth.’ But D’gar couldn’t deny he’d enjoyed the company. He really didn’t want to go back to sleeping alone again. And Herebeth would sulk.

‘You’re right,’ J’rud sounded sad. ‘It was a silly idea.’

D’gar hated to see him despondent. ‘Well, maybe for another few days, eh? Till those two get over their flight.’

‘Great. I can brighten this place up a bit…’

‘What, just for a few days?’

‘A few hours would be too long to stare at those walls.’

D’gar smiled. J’rud was funny. ‘I told you before, don’t look at the walls. There are far better things to do in a weyr after all.’

‘Oh, yes? Want to show me?’

Two days passed. Another Fall went by; the first in which Campbell’s and Balan Wing were exempt from the points system. Two pairs didn’t make it back from that one, although neither were in the trial Wings. Herebeth was still happily snuggling with Zurinth, so D’gar brought up the subject with him.

Maybe it’s time for Zurinth to go back to her own weyr?

Why? There is room for us both here.

Well, yes. He had to agree with his dragon’s assessment there. He also couldn’t deny that he was enjoying sharing the weyr with J’rud. D’gar didn’t consider himself to be particularly untidy - back at Fort it was always him who picked up S’brin’s stuff when he left it strewn about the place - but J’rud kept the weyr as tidy as the barracks, as if a Weyrlingmaster was about to inspect it at any moment. He also made sure there were always tasty snacks available and the skin of fresh water was topped up. He was easy to get along with and D’gar found himself smiling or even laughing quite often; something he’d not done much of at Telgar previously.

You like Zurinth’s rider, Herebeth stated.

That was also true. But he’s not my weyrmate. S’brin wouldn’t be happy about this.

Zemianth’s rider is not here, Herebeth pointed out. And you are happy.

For a dragon, that was all that counted. But D’gar’s human reasoning told him that none of those things were sufficient excuse to do something he knew in his heart to be wrong.

Ask Zurinth where her rider is right now. He had to do this while he was in the right frame of mind, even though he wasn’t looking forward to it.

He is sitting with some of his friends, drinking klah.

Take me down there, please.

Herebeth uncurled himself from Zurinth reluctantly. The green dragon gave him a quizzical look, as if she had already fathomed what he was about to do. He determinedly shut off his mind so that Herebeth didn’t come to his own conclusions. He climbed aboard, feeling an odd weight in his chest, as if something dark and heavy had settled somewhere around the region of his heart. You have to do this, he told himself. Before it goes too far. Or any further than it has already.

Herebeth touched down lightly. He spotted the group of green riders sitting around one of the outdoor tables, in the sunshine. J’rud was laughing at something. He looked happy and when he saw D’gar, beckoned him over with a smile. ‘Come and sit down.’

‘Sure this isn’t one of these “greens only” meetings?’ He forced a smile himself.

‘No secrets here. Want a klah?’ N’shorg asked.

‘Please.’

‘Put plenty of sweetener in it,’ J’rud added. ‘He’s always telling me I’m going to lose my teeth from eating too many cakes, but the amount of sweetener he has in his klah is almost obscene.’

‘So, what new plans have you been conjuring up lately?’ P’rin swivelled around to ask.

‘Oh, nothing much today. Thought I’d let things work themselves out for a while.’ He remembered P’rin was in Campbell’s Wing. ‘How did last Fall go?’

‘Pretty well, I reckon. Trouble is, they’ve been used to skimping and scraping with firestone for so long, it’s hard to break the habit.’

‘But they managed?’

‘It was certainly better. Well, I thought so, anyway.’

N’shorg returned with D’gar’s klah. He sipped it cautiously. ‘That’s perfect.’

J’rud moved closer to him and linked arms. It felt comfortable. It also reminded him why he was here.

‘You two look happy together,’ N’shorg said. ‘Looks like it’s turning into a bit more than a mating flight fling.’

He hadn’t really wanted to say anything in front of others, but this was the opportunity he needed. ‘Not really,’ he said. ‘I mean, if I didn’t already have a weyrmate, then yes, it would be. But…’

P’rin grinned. ‘Yeah. No one wants to mess with D’gar’s weyrmate.’

‘Oh, he’s jealous, is he?’ N’shorg had obviously got the wrong idea.

‘No. S’brin’s fine. We’ve been together since before we Impressed.’

‘So, where does J’rud come into this?’

Greens always loved a good story. ‘We’re clutchmates,’ D’gar said. ‘Herebeth and Zurinth like each other.’

‘A lot, J’rud added. ‘Whereas he can’t stand Zemianth. That’s S’brin’s dragon.’

‘I wouldn’t put it that strongly,’ D’gar protested.

‘Well, I would,’ J’rud said. ‘And Herebeth certainly does, if what he’s told Zurinth is anything to go by.’

‘J’rud!’ D’gar gave him a warning glance. This was getting into uncomfortable territory.

‘What?’ he asked. ‘It’s all true.’

D’gar couldn’t deny that. He sipped his klah and kept quiet.

‘So, you two decided that as you’re away from home, then why not have a fling?’ N’shorg had obviously made up his mind about what was going on. ‘Well, it happens on secondments, doesn’t it?’ he went on, blithely. ’S’naull and H’xet are still seeing each other. One of the Benden green riders has taken up with G’vyk from High Reaches.’

‘That’s what I told him, too,’ J’rud said. ‘Lots of relationships start up while folk are away from home. No harm in it.’

D’gar felt like he had to say something. ‘Except when they go back and have to face the consequences.’ He turned to J’rud. ‘I don’t want to hurt you. But I don’t want to hurt S’brin either. And when we go home, I’ll have to tell him, before someone else does. What’s that going to do to our relationship?’

‘Make him appreciate you more, maybe,’ J’rud muttered. ‘After all that shit he put you through last Turn, when you’d not even done anything wrong.’

‘We sorted that out.’

All of the other greens were listening now, eager for the gossip. ‘What did he do?’ One of the Ista riders leaned forward eagerly.

‘Only chucked D’gar out of their weyr,’ J’rud said. ‘Wouldn’t speak to him for days. And that was just because he saw us talking when he was feeling a bit proddy.’

P’rin nodded. ‘Yeah. S’brin gets it bad some cycles.’

‘He can’t help it,’ D’gar said, springing to his defence, as he wasn’t here to do it himself.

‘We know that,’ P’rin pointed out. ‘We’re all greens on this table, apart from you. But some of us manage not to take it out on other people. Me, I just take Midoroth up and fly it out of our systems.’

N’shorg nodded. ‘Letting Kosith rip a few wherries apart always works for us.’

‘Well, like I said, we sorted it out. I just don’t want to have to go through that again.’

‘So, what are you saying?’ J’rud’s tone was sharp. ‘You want me to go back to my own weyr?’

‘Well…’ The weight suddenly became heavier. If he was in the water now, he’d definitely sink.

‘You could have said something before.’

‘I should have done. I’m sorry.’ He felt awful.

‘Fine, then. The last thing I want to do is make life difficult for you.’ J’rud moved away from him and stood. ‘I’ll get Zurinth now and move my stuff out.’

‘J’rud!’ D’gar watched him walk away, his shoulders squared. He put an elbow on the table, a hand to his forehead and sighed.

P’rin leaned over. ‘Good job you’re better at negotiating with Weyrleaders than talking to someone who’s crazy about you.’

‘I know how he feels about me. That’s what makes this whole thing worse.’

‘You do realise Zemianth is going to rise while you’re away.’ P’rin continued. ‘Think S’brin’s going to care about your feelings while his blood’s running hot?’

‘That doesn’t matter. It’s just a flight. Like this should have been.’

P’rin shook his head. ‘You’re a fool. A clever one, mind, but still a fool.’

‘I had to do something.’ D’gar waited until he saw Zurinth fly out from his weyr and double back into her own, then finished his klah and called Herebeth.

P’rin shook his head sadly. ‘You’ll end up regretting this.’ A couple of the other greens nodded sagely.

‘I already know that.’ D’gar trudged back to his dragon. Take me back, please. He climbed aboard.

You do not make life easy for yourself, Herebeth offered. Zurinth’s rider is upset.

He’d have been upset sooner or later anyway. Best to do it now.

His weyr felt empty in a way it hadn’t for the past few days. The blank walls stared accusingly at him. He sat on the bed, head in hands. It was for the best, he told himself. If he said that often enough, it might sound more convincing.

At dinner, J’rud made a point of sitting well away from him.

‘Everything all right with you two?’ T’san asked.

T’san noticed too much. ’No. I asked him to leave my weyr.’

‘Ah. Had a row?’

‘No, it’s not like that. I have a weyrmate back at Fort.’

‘You’re not the only one. There’s a few from Benden who’ve left folk behind, but taken up with another while they’re away. It happens on secondment.’

‘Someone else said that earlier. Doesn’t make it right.’

‘Makes it easier to cope with the homesickness, though. We all get lonely, even when we have a dragon.’

‘I suppose so.’ D’gar still felt miserable. He stayed much the same for the rest of the evening. Without J’rud’s easy jokes and light conversation, time dragged. What made it worse was that he could hear J’rud’s voice further down the table, telling an entertaining story. Although it hurt not to be sitting there next to him, he was glad J’rud still seemed to be able to enjoy himself.

‘Hey, D’gar,’ A’myrrin called out. ‘We’re about to start a game.’ He held up a pack of dragon poker cards. ‘Want in on it?’

That was all he needed. ‘No thanks. I’m having an early night. Fall tomorrow.’

A’myrrin shrugged and turned back to his group of friends.

D’gar went back to his weyr. Herebeth was alone. He was alone. He’d thought once he’d done the right thing, he’d feel better. Ha! How wrong could he have been?

The next Fall was a relatively short one, for Telgar, with a handover to High Reaches towards the end. Herebeth and Zurinth fought as well as ever in their section, but afterwards, J’rud went off with some of the other green riders. D’gar felt that Herebeth was disapproving, although he didn’t say anything. While he and Zurinth had shared the weyr, there’d been a lightness to his tone, a sense of draconic enjoyment of life. Now, even when he’d washed off the char and firestone dust, his hide looked a little dull.

The following day, he called a meeting of the other four. Two Falls had now passed with the experiment underway and he wanted to find out if their perceptions matched his own. He waited until everyone settled.‘So, how’s everything going so far,’

‘Very well, in Campbell’s Wing,’ T’san reported. ‘Improved efficiency. Better morale. Less Thread getting through.’

‘It’s the same in Balan,’ S’naull confirmed. ‘Our Wingleader’s worked out that if we were still on the points system, we’d be near the top, apart from using more than our quota of firestone.’

‘So, we’re half way through the trial and it’s looking good?’

‘Definitely. In fact,’ S’naull continued. ‘A few of the wingriders have said if they have to go back to the old ways, they’ll complain to the Weyrleader. And if nothing changes, they’ll ask for transfers.’

‘It’s not so great in Dunto Wing,’ Z’ma said. ‘Our Wingleader’s not in favour of change, so we haven’t even been helping them out with extra firestone like the rest of you do. The wingriders are becoming increasingly unhappy.’

‘So they’d prefer to drop the points system?’ D’gar asked.

‘All except one or two. I reckon the Wingseconds would, too, but they won’t say anything against their boss.’

That was interesting. Dunto’s Wingleader had been one of those he suspected of supporting Bedella; possibly a candidate to run for the leadership next time Solth rose to mate.

‘Wonder what Bedella’s going to do?’ T’san mused, his thoughts evidently running in the same direction.

‘Not much she can do,’ M’lir said. ‘R’mart’s making himself very popular. If he stays that way, then the weyrfolk will want him to carry on. Even a Weyrwoman’s preferences can sometimes be overridden by the general feeling throughout the Weyr over who’d be the best leader. If another bronze does fly Solth, is that rider going to make himself hated by restoring a system everyone thinks is outdated and unfair?’

‘And we’ll all be back home by then, so it won’t matter to us anyway,’ S’naull added.

‘It might matter to anyone else who’s seconded here in future. It’ll definitely matter to the Telgar riders,’ T’san pointed out. ‘Even if we don’t have to suffer ourselves, we should still think about others.’

That was true. ‘Anything else to report?’ D’gar asked.

‘There’s quite a lot of food sharing arrangements going on between our own and the Telgar dragons,’ Z’ma said. ‘In fact, on my way here I saw a green sharing a herdbeast she’d killed with one of the Telgar dragons.’

‘And we’ve been giving some of our extra snacks to hungry Telgar riders after every Fall,’ M’lir said. ‘There’s definitely a reduction in tension and far less resentment towards us this last sevenday.’

‘That was what I thought, too.’ Everything was going well. ‘But we’ll carry on keeping an eye on any green flights in case there are still some with a grudge. Not everyone is happy about changes.’

They all agreed on that.

‘Well, I think that’s all as far as the meeting goes,’ D’gar said.

‘Does anyone fancy a drink?’ T’san had brought a skin of Benden white, which made him very popular.

‘You know, I’m going to miss this, when it’s all over.’ M’lir said. ‘It’s good to feel as if you’re making a difference.’

T’san filled their cups. ‘Good practice for the day when we eventually get promoted.’

‘Yes, like that’s going to happen any time soon.’ S’naull grimaced. ‘We’ve got maybe two or three Turns until the Pass ends. After that, promotions are going to be a waiting game.’

‘Plenty of chances beforehand,’ T’san said. ‘Don’t want to be morbid or anything, but I’ve been helping in the Benden archives recently. The last couple of Turns of a Pass tend to show almost as high casualty rates as the beginning.’

‘Why’s that?’ Z’ma asked. ‘Everyone knows what they’re doing by now.’

‘Yes, but clutch numbers are falling, meaning fewer weyrlings to replace injured, retired or deceased pairs. I know Telgar’s a bit of an exception right now, but every Weyr will end up having to consolidate Wings as numbers fall. That’ll mean working alongside dragons you aren’t so familiar with, getting used to new wingmates. Also, Fall patterns become more erratic and thus more dangerous.’

D’gar listened carefully. ‘You have the figures to prove this?’

T’san nodded. ‘The Benden Weyrwoman at the end of the Seventh Pass was very meticulous in recording everything. If you get the chance to look in your own archives, I’ll bet you’ll find similar.’

‘Let’s hope Thread gets my Wingsecond at High Reaches, then,’ M’lir said. ‘He’s a real nasty piece of work. It’s lucky our Wingleader doesn’t let him get away with too much, but if he ended up in charge, it’d be a disaster.’ He must have noticed the horrified glances from some of the others. ‘Don’t look at me like that. If you knew the man, you’d agree.’

D’gar thought that was going too far. He hadn’t liked G’dol very much, but he still wouldn’t wish him Threadscored. ‘I definitely won’t get promoted before the end of the Pass,’ he said, changing the subject. ’There was an incident at Fort where a Wingleader promoted a young rider who hadn’t been in the Wing very long. He died shortly afterwards. So T’ron, our Weyrleader, made a ruling that no one with less than five Turns fighting experience was allowed to become a Wingsecond. I won’t reach that until after this Pass is over.’

‘There used to be rules here, too,’ T’san said. ‘You got those changed. Besides, from what I’ve heard, your Weyrleader is a sensible man. I can see the reason he made that rule, but if there’s a shortage of capable riders, it’ll be discarded. You wait and see.’

D’gar wasn’t convinced. ‘Maybe.’ He thought it very likely T’san would end up a Wingleader one day.

‘What happened to your green rider friend?’ S’naull asked, looking around. ‘Thought he was sharing a weyr with you.’

‘He was. Now he isn’t.’ D’gar didn’t want to talk about that.

‘Pity. You seemed a well-matched pair.’ S’naull took a drink. ‘Things are going great with me and H’xet. Reckon I might be taking a few trips over to Ista once this secondment’s over.’

It was lucky for some. D’gar held out his own cup for a refill. He knew how empty the weyr would feel after they’d all gone. Alcohol would help, for a while. Except once he was sober again, he’d still be lonely.

©1967-2022 Ann McCaffrey, Todd McCaffrey, Gigi McCaffrey; All Rights Reserved; 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. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
Dragonriders of Pern series was created by Ann McCaffrey in 1967 and spans 24+ books published by Ballantine Books, Atheneum Books, Bantam Books, and Del Rey Books.  Any recognizable content in this story is from Ann McCaffrey, Todd McCaffrey, Gigi McCaffrey or their representatives or inheritors.  Original content provided by author of this FanFiction story without monetary compensation.

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It is with great sadness I must announce the death of Mawgrim, Promising Author on GA. He had been in declining health for some time and passed away on Christmas Day. Mawgrim worked for decades as a cinema projectionist before his retirement and was able to use this breadth of knowledge to his stories set in cinemas. He also gave us stories with his take on the World of Pern with its dragon riders. He will be greatly missed and our condolences go out to his friends, family, and his husband.
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Chapter Comments

A bit of foreshadowing I suspect!

T’san filled their cups. ‘Good practice for the day when we eventually get promoted.’

‘Yes, like that’s going to happen any time soon.’ S’naull grimaced. ‘We’ve got maybe two or three Turns until the Pass ends. After that, promotions are going to be a waiting game.’

‘Plenty of chances beforehand,’ T’san said. ‘Don’t want to be morbid or anything, but I’ve been helping in the Benden archives recently. The last couple of Turns of a Pass tend to show almost as high casualty rates as the beginning.’

 

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Absolutely. And you might like to take a guess as to who is the nasty Wingsecond at High Reaches M'lir mentioned.

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We all understand D'gar's decision; but it doesn't make it any less hard.  

I will bet that the results will show that the old ways of doing things were causing more issues than they were fixing.  

Talking about he loses that occur toward the end of a fall makes me sad for what is coming.

So well written...

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3 hours ago, centexhairysub said:

I will bet that the results will show that the old ways of doing things were causing more issues than they were fixing.  

Talking about he loses that occur toward the end of a fall makes me sad for what is coming.

I think everyone expects that result from the trials. Yes, we're getting towards the end now, although there are a few twists and turns on the way.

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I was reading this chapter and trying to figure out how close they are to the Interval. In the previous books, you never really indicated exactly when S’brin had his accident, so we don’t know where we are in relation to that incident. We just know/assume it was before the end of the Pass.

I don’t remember from the original books how long they were into the Interval when Lessa made her famous journey (it’s been a loooooooong time since I read those! :gikkle:).  It seems to me that it was at least a year or two—long enough for the enui to set in for the formerly highly active Weyrfolk. 
 

I’m beginning to get uptight reading these chapter because I know what’s coming.  How far will you go toward Lessa’s visit?

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5 hours ago, Clancy59 said:

I was reading this chapter and trying to figure out how close they are to the Interval. In the previous books, you never really indicated exactly when S’brin had his accident, so we don’t know where we are in relation to that incident. We just know/assume it was before the end of the Pass.

I don’t remember from the original books how long they were into the Interval when Lessa made her famous journey (it’s been a loooooooong time since I read those! :gikkle:).  It seems to me that it was at least a year or two—long enough for the enui to set in for the formerly highly active Weyrfolk. 

In the timeline I sketched out, they are currently three Turns before the end of the Pass. S'brin died just a few Falls before the last one, which we know from canon (the tapestry Lessa used to go back) was over Ruatha in autumn. There is a clue in 'Dragonflight' when Lessa wakes up at Fort Weyr and has been babbling about Thread and the Red Star. Mardra tells her, '...my dear, don't you realise the Red Star has been past Pern these two months.' It's later referred that she has been ill and delirious for 'some weeks'. There’s also another reference to riders becoming bored having had, 'close to four months of unexciting routine patrols'. Based on that, I've worked out that the last Fall must have been around Tenth month (our October) and that Lessa arrived in the second month of the first Turn of the Interval, so actually not very long after Thread stopped at all. Whew!

I'm going to finish this when Lessa arrives, but before T'ron announces that they will all be going ahead, so just before the point where 'Gone Away, Gone Ahead' begins.

 

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Got it.  I had the timing a bit off.  I said it had been a long time since I had read the books, so I didn’t remember how short a time it was that the Old-Timers were getting bored (I use the term simply as a reference from Anne’s stories). That’s a good place to end, as  the rest is all described in Dragonflight. I just wasn’t sure about S’brin.  I did know it was still a very raw event for D’gan as he went forward in time.  That was part of the reason he was reluctant to get involved with someone new, especially so quickly.

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D'gar is too honorable for his own good. S'brin will probably either don't care or he'll be just as angry over a few nights as over the whole period. Poor J'rud, it's not easy to love someone, who is in another relationship, and here he had a taste of what he's missing.

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2 hours ago, Timothy M. said:

S'brin will probably either don't care or he'll be just as angry over a few nights as over the whole period. Poor J'rud, it's not easy to love someone, who is in another relationship, and here he had a taste of what he's missing.

D'gar and S'brin have very different attitudes to the relationship. Also, D'gar is more forgiving - he can put himself in the other man's shoes. S'brin is, in many ways a typical green rider, impulsive and influenced by his dragon's moods. J'rud is more thoughtful and is actually a better match for D'gar, temperamentally. I do feel sorry for him, though. 

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Thanks Mawgrim for the reminder of the timeline; as said above, for some of us it's been a long time since we read Dragonflight...for me, it was 10th grade in 74/75, and I read them all religiously in order as the later ones came out.  It's amazing what your tales bring back to mind after almost 50 years!

I'm not sure how many books Todd wrote as I gave up after he seemed to be deviating too far from the feel and plotting of the series, so I may have missed two or three final ones without seeing a list.  Got through the Landing colony, visiting the ships and F'nor's trip to the Red Star, and some stories on the Southern Continent. and even reading how the dragons were developed....

I will miss S'brin when the end of his flight nears, but perhaps he might later settle in with J'rud?  Not sure if we had a hint of that possibility or not--I know when I lost my partner back in '07, I decided not to seek another since my age would have made it difficult to find another even without the limitations of transport my vision made necessary.

Hoping for more great adventures to come! 

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On a nice note, the experiment is going well so far.  I vote that D'gar sticks with J'rud, at least until they have to leave.  Knowing S'brin, he is probably not limiting his sex life while D'gar is at Telgar.

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37 minutes ago, raven1 said:

Knowing S'brin, he is probably not limiting his sex life while D'gar is at Telgar.

Absolutely.

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Not having read 'Gone Away' yet (yes, I'm late to the party and reading the story in a chronological order), I can only speculate that when ever D'gar returns to Fort Weyr, he finds another Drogonrider ensconced in 'his' Weyr. Not knowing when, exactly, D'gar would return, I actually think S'brin would be that foolhardy (as opposed to just plain being bold).

Regardless, S'brin would not even think that D'gar would go without sex, 'cause he sure wouldn't. Especially when S'brin wouldn't know how long D'gar would be at Telgar or if D'gar would even make it back! That would be S'brin's reasoning.

In some ways it is a shame that D'gar is such an honorable man. He simply can't believe others can be less. Much less.

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21 minutes ago, Ordu378 said:

Regardless, S'brin would not even think that D'gar would go without sex, 'cause he sure wouldn't. Especially when S'brin wouldn't know how long D'gar would be at Telgar or if D'gar would even make it back! That would be S'brin's reasoning.

Totally right. D'gar tries to reason it's down to S'brin being impulsive or under the influence of a proddy dragon, because he wouldn't behave like that, so can't believe someone else would.

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