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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 - 37. Gains and Losses

Herebeth continues to recover from his injuries and J'rud comes up with a plan.

It was near the end of eighth month and the weather had a feel of the seasons beginning to turn. The sunlight seemed softer, the clouds covering more of the sky. For the past few days, the wind had been too high, but today it was perfect.

D’gar examined Herebeth’s wing yet again. The new hide had grown back a couple of shades lighter than the surrounding area, but all of the oiling and massaging looked to have paid off. There were certainly no cracks or other defects. Sure it feels all right?

As good as ever, Herebeth replied confidently. I want to fly again.

Two circuits only, nice and steady, then land back here.

You have told me that at least twice before.

Sorry. I think I’m nervous. It was true. He wanted Herebeth to succeed. He didn’t want him to hurt himself.

‘Are you going to get on with it?’ S’brin asked.

‘In our own time.’

He shook his head slowly. ‘Both of you think far too much before doing anything.’

Remember, take a running start.

I will. Stand clear. I go.

With a couple of strides from his powerful hind legs - seemingly more muscular since he’d been forced to walk to and from the lake for his daily exercise - Herebeth drew his wings through the air and left the ground. In a couple of wingbeats he had already reached the height of the third level weyrs. Herebeth’s glee made D’gar cheer.

Some dragons might have shown off, but Herebeth took it steady, going no higher than the fourth level and making his turns wide and easy. The brief flight was over all too soon and he landed reluctantly. Even that looked just as precise and controlled as it had ever been. D’gar threw his arms around Herebeth’s neck. Well done, you.

I want to fly some more.

Maybe later. You mustn’t overdo it at first. How does it feel?

As if I could fly forever.

That looked fine to me,’ S’brin said, coming over. ‘Slow and steady like he’s always been.’

‘Thanks,’

‘Well, you know what I mean.’

J’rud flew in on Zurinth. He’d been tracking the progress from the air. ‘If I didn’t know what he’d been through, I’d say that was a perfectly normal flight.’

It was encouraging to hear, even though D’gar knew Herebeth had been deliberately careful. It was a long way from these first steps to the tight turns, dodges and weaves he’d need while fighting.

‘He’ll be able to get back up to our weyr soon.’ S’brin definitely sounded happy about that. Although D’gar could always hitch a lift with Zurinth or Zemianth, he didn’t like staying the night away from Herebeth. It never felt right. Since they’d hatched, he’d always slept close to his dragon.

N’rir will be nagging you as to when you’ll be fighting fit again.’ J’rud said. ‘After P’ton’s Charinth had that score he was at him everyday.’

‘He can have his admin back, in that case.’ It was up to date now and far more legible than when he’d started it. ‘After all, he’s got the Wingsecond job, not me.’

‘Won’t be long before you get a chance, I’ll bet.’ J’rud sounded confident about that.

‘Don’t be daft. Both N’rir and I’grast have lots more experience. Plus there’s the five Turn rule T’ron came up with after K’torl died. I’ll only reach five Turns at around the time the Pass ends. So if I ever do become a Wingsecond, it’ll be when I’m about fifty.’

‘Pity,’ S’brin said. ‘Always fancied a bigger weyr.’

Each day, Herebeth flew a little further, then once he was confident his wing would take it, both Zurinth and Zemianth took to the air with him. No brown, even without wing damage, could ever turn as tightly as a nimble green, but trying to keep up with them provided a challenge.

J’rud had screwed up his eyes and used his hand as a shield. ‘You know, seeing Herebeth flying with those two has given me an idea.’

S’rin groaned. ‘You’re getting as bad as him. So, what is it?’

‘Look how well he’s following them. Maybe we could practise enough to give him an advantage in mating flights.’

D’gar watched the dragons as they wheeled and turned high above the Bowl. He knew his dragon better than any and it was clear to him Herebeth lacked a certain degree of precision when turning to the left. It wasn’t much, but enough to let another, more nimble dragon through. ‘How do you mean?’

‘Well, there’s one thing both you and Herebeth do better than almost any other pair in the Weyr and that’s thinking your way through a problem. If you can find a tactic and apply it, then maybe with a bit of co-operation from the green in question, he could win.’

‘We’re talking about a mating flight here, J’rud. No one thinks very logically under those circumstances.’ D’gar reckoned he needed to point that out.

‘Not usually in green flights. But bronze and gold is all about tactics. That’s partly why they go on so long. There’s no reason a green and a brown couldn’t plan in the same way. When it’s a normal flight with just one green, she’ll choose her mate, just like a gold does. Of course, sometimes it goes wrong…’

‘Like when someone gets barged out of the way, you mean.’

‘Exactly. You can’t predict for every eventuality.’

‘So, what do you suggest?’ S’brin leaned closer.

‘Those three know exactly how each other fly. Zurinth’s due to rise in another month and a half. We can get them to practise beforehand to give him an advantage.’

‘Isn’t it sort of… cheating?’ D’gar felt a little uncomfortable.

‘No more than when a green feints one way to get rid of a few of her pursuers. Or a male dragon takes a shortcut over familiar terrain and catches her by surprise. Or when all of the Weyr want a certain bronze to win and the weight of their emotions makes it happen.’

‘You’re right,’ S’brin said. ‘There are some dragons who win flights more often than not. I bet it’s not random. They’ve figured out some trick to give them an advantage.’

‘I think we should ask the dragons,’ D’gar said. ‘If they reckon it’s all right, then I’m happy to go along. It’s their mating flight, after all. We’re only incidental.’

‘You wouldn’t say that if you’d Impressed green,’ J’rud said. ‘It’s a bit different from our end.’

S’brin nodded agreement. ‘Z’los had to be my worst one so far. Still, got my own back, afterwards.’

‘Well, I’m going to ask Herebeth, if you two ask yours, too.’

‘Fine, then. Let’s do it.’

Herebeth didn’t understand what he was getting at the first time. Practice for a mating flight? Mating flights happen when they will.

Yes, but I’m talking about tactics here. You like Zurinth, don’t you?

Yes?

But sometimes you aren’t in the right place to catch her. Or another dragon barges you out of the way before you can.

It happens. He sounded resigned.

So what if you and she practiced some moves to help you both get what you want? After all, we practice Threadfighting moves, don’t we?

Herebeth thought for a while. Flights will always be unpredictable. But so is Thread and still we practice for it. I do not see why we should not.

He thought Herebeth seemed to be warming to the idea. J’rud seemed to still be in the midst of a discussion with Zurinth, but S’brin was smiling.

‘Zemianth’s funny. She said she likes the biggest, strongest dragon to catch her because she’ll lay more eggs. I had to remind her she doesn’t lay eggs at all, so she should just mate with whoever takes her fancy. She said she’d not thought of that.’

‘Well, that was interesting,’ J’rud said at last. ‘Zurinth agrees in principle, but isn’t sure she’ll be able to remember it all when she gets the mating urge. It does sort of overpower her. And she asked how is she going to practice mating when she doesn’t feel like it.’

‘So, what did Herebeth say?’ S’brin asked.

‘More or less that we practice for Threadfall so why not practice for other things. So, I suggest once we can get away from the Weyr, let’s give it a go.’

Meanwhile, life continued as normal. D’gar had become a regular on support duty now. He’d noticed there seemed to be more injured men and dragons than he remembered from the past. Talking with others in the Wing confirmed it.

‘We’re a Wing down and the Falls aren’t as predictable as they were,’ N’rir told him. ‘More variations, less dragons in the sky. It’s not surprising more are getting hurt.’

‘I’d not really thought about it much,’ S’brin said. ‘Thread’s Thread. We just sear it. But I’d say it’s been more difficult recently.’

M’rell leaned over. ‘Yeah. We don’t get Falls where it’s the same all the way through much any more.’

J’rud nodded agreement. ‘It’ll be say, big clumps at the beginning, then taper off to nothing, then start back up abruptly in totally different pattern.’

‘Like those stupid little bits which blow around a lot,’ M’rell put in. ‘We had those last time.’

N’rir nodded. ‘R’feem’s having to swap the formations around two, even three times during each Fall. It’s harder work.’

‘That’s where a good Wingleader can make all the difference.’ I’grast spoke up. ‘We’ve had a few losses, but not so many as some of the other Wings.’

‘Still lost P’llesh and Gr’thol,’ N’rir said. ‘Taken by T’ron for “A” Wing.’

R’feem sighed. ‘That’s his privilege. They’re good fighting pairs, both of them.’

It was the usual practice. Every Weyrleader wanted his own Wing to be the best and transferred in experienced pairs to keep it that way. R’feem had recently taken on a couple of weyrlings, one of whom had been lost after only two Falls. The recent irregularity of Thread must make it even harder for new pairs to become accustomed to the organised chaos of Threadfighting. D’gar wondered how easily he and Herebeth would get back into it after so long off.

Herebeth continued to build up his muscles with gentle flights around the Bowl, increasing in distance as he grew in confidence. Zemianth and Zurinth usually accompanied him. After he stated he could do more and the dragon healers approved, they flew harder and further away. It was well into the second sevenday when he was told it should be all right for Herebeth to carry him in flight once more.

D’gar had long since repaired the strap which had been cut during his rescue. Putting the straps back on Herebeth served as a reminder of that day; the plummeting fall toward the ground, the feeling of helplessness. But it was good to be back between the neck ridges, better still to feel Herebeth’s muscles bunch as he sprang into the air and they flew together once more.

I cannot even feel your weight, Herebeth said. Why are humans so cautious when dragons know what we can do?

That was true. Of course there needed to be caution with a weyrling pair, who hadn’t fully tested their capabilities and might not know their own limits. But with older dragons and riders, who trusted each other, where was the necessity? He asked the healer, wondering if it would seem as if he was questioning the wisdom of ages. He’d got into trouble enough times for being curious back when he was a weyrling.

‘It’s because dragons want to be fighting again and their riders go along with them. Plus the riders are sometimes under pressure from their Wingleaders. We want you to get better, but we don’t want to see you back with us because you overdid it, trying to prove something.’

It was a fair enough answer. D’gar thanked him.

‘Now, I know you want to go off flying with your friends, and there’s no reason either of you shouldn’t go between now the wounds have healed, but don’t go too mad, eh? I know what those greens can be like.’

‘They’re both very sensible,’ he protested. He didn’t like the assumption that all greens were thoughtless and foolhardy.

‘Hmm, well… anyway, be careful.’

They picked a fine day for an expedition further afield. The ice lake was the perfect place as it was less popular than the beaches and mountain meadows. It would be D’gar’s first jump between since the accident and he had the similar feeling of trepidation as before their first flight. Images filled his mind of emerging from between and falling.

That is past, Herebeth reminded him. Both my wings work now.

He visualised the co-ordinates and blackness enfolded them. They burst out, in formation, over the crystal blue water and the mountains. Only the very highest were still capped with snow at this end of the summer, although it would probably only be a month or so before they began to turn white again. Summers were brief this high up

‘Fancy a swim with the dragons?’ S’brin asked after they’d landed on the pebbly beach.

‘I’m not too sure about that.’ The water must be at its warmest right now, which was probably a similar temperature to the Weyr lake in the middle of winter.

‘Oh, go on. I am, once J’rud has the fire going and some klah brewing. That cold water will be brilliant for Herebeth’s wing.’

He’d never let it go. It wouldn’t hurt. Well, not much. ‘All right, then.’ He remembered telling the dragon healer how sensible J’rud and S’brin were and smiled.

‘Are you mad?’ were J’rud’s first words. ‘You wouldn’t get me in there unless Thread was falling and I was dragonless.’

The three dragons were already paddling around, sending up spray and causing small waves to break against the shore. ‘Take it slow,’ S’brin advised. ‘Give your body time to get accustomed to it. You’ll feel great afterwards.’

You are going to swim with us? Herebeth asked, sounding excited. There is much more room here than in the Weyr lake and the water is so clear.

It gave him the necessary impetus. S’brin waited for him to finish undressing, then they walked into the water steadily, together. It was definitely colder than when they’d first started practising at the Weyr, although he’d learned the trick of it there. Keep your breathing even. Don’t immerse yourself too quickly.

‘You all right?’ S’brin asked, when they’d stood for a while with the water up to their waists.

‘Think so.’

‘Then let’s get our shoulders under and try swimming. I’ll stay close to you.’

He seemed a lot less bothered by it than D’gar. Maybe it was because he always felt warmer? D’gar moved his arms a few times experimentally. S’brin leaned forwards and set off with an easy, slow stroke toward the dragons. D’gar followed. Sure, it was cold, but moving his body helped. The only thing different to normal swimming was that it felt harder to breathe deeply, although even that seemed to ease off the further he went.

S’brin had reached Zemianth, perching on one of her forelegs. ‘Come on. Only a little bit further,’ he encouraged.

Herebeth’s brown hide beckoned. At last he reached it, gasping slightly as he got out of the water, supported by his dragon. Herebeth’s hide and the heat of the sun began to warm him almost immediately. He also felt like laughing, which was a little strange, until he looked over at S’brin and saw the same expression on his face.

‘See, it makes you feel good,’ S’brin called across.

D’gar waved at J’rud, who was still crouched by the fire. ‘You should try it,’ he shouted.

J’rud shook his head. ‘No thanks. Klah’s nearly ready.’

Are you going to swim with me? Herebeth asked.

Go on, then. They did the same sort of stunts they always did when playing in the sea. D’gar climbed up to his usual place between Herebeth’s neck ridges, then Herebeth set off swimming and flapping his wings, before plunging under the water. The shock of the cold gave it an extra dimension. Zemianth was doing much the same with S’brin. Both dragons then had their own version of a water fight, flicking it from their wings at each other. D’gar soon ended up drenched again and felt as if he’d had enough. He persuaded Herebeth to take him close to the shore. The water was only knee high and he waded back to dry land, where J’rud threw him a drying sheet.

‘Did you enjoy that?’

‘It certainly was invigorating. It’s horrible when you first get in, but it gets better.’

‘Still haven’t convinced me to try it.’ J’rud poured out a mug of klah. ‘That should help you warm up.’

‘Thanks.’ They sat together on the shore, watching the antics of the dragons and S’brin diving off Zemianth.

‘Does he really not feel the cold?’

‘I don’t reckon so. Either that, or he’s trying to impress us with his bravado.’

Eventually, S’brin swam back and once he’d dried off, they all sunbathed for a while. The dragons tired of their play and floated just offshore.

‘Right, then. Part two of our day out is to try and get them to practice.’ D’gar sat up. He’d thought about what they needed to do. ‘Lets just start them off with a game of tag. Herebeth has to chase one of them, they have to try and dodge him. It’ll be good for his stamina and to strengthen his wing. I want to see what he’s able to do and what he finds difficult.’

‘Best give ‘em a target then. Say that pointy rock over there.’ S’brin pointed towards a sharp peak at the distant end of the lake. There and back to us. If he doesn’t catch them, the green wins that round.’

‘Sounds good. Who wants to go first?’

‘Zurinth would like to,’ J’rud said.

D’gar told Herebeth what he had to do. He seemed quite enthusiastic about it. It is a good game, he said.

They went to either end of the beach and both riders told them when to fly. As expected, Zurinth got away faster, but Herebeth’s power meant he was soon close to her, trying to tap her tail with his foreleg as she dipped and dived. It was very noticeable to D’gar how he was still at a disadvantage when the damaged wing was put under more strain. His turns were noticeably wider on that side. Zurinth soon realised this too and was able to use her knowledge to extend her lead. Herebeth was clever, though. He gained some ground by going into a banking dive on the turn, picking up speed. His tactic worked until Zurinth performed a classic green move, almost stalling in mid air, so Herebeth ended up ahead of her rather than behind her.

S’brin gave a whistle. ‘Good move. I always thought Zurinth was too cl… er, big for that kind of stuff.’

‘Hey, her talents go beyond just carrying furniture, you know.’

Herebeth had some tricks, too. He abruptly slowed down and as Zurinth went on past, just a little too close, he dived and grabbed at her tail. D’gar felt proud of him. He’d made up for any deficiencies by thinking it through.

I won, he said happily, as Zurinth flicked her tail out of his grasp.

‘She wants another go,’ J’rud said. ‘But this time she’d like to try and catch Herebeth.’

‘That’s not how it works in real life.’ S’brin laughed. ‘Imagine a load of randy greens chasing a brown.’

‘They’re thinking of this as a game, not a practice mating flight. Let her have a go. It should be fun to watch.’

‘Zemianth just told me she wants to chase Zurinth too. She reckons she could catch her before half way.’

The dragons got ready to go. Zurinth veered toward Herebeth right away, assuming rightly her speed off the mark would get her close. Herebeth had anticipated this and dodged her attempts to grab his tail several times before he began to pull ahead. ‘Good job T’garrin’s not here. He’d be taking bets on the winner of each round.’ It was a marvel no one had thought of this as a sport before.

D’gar admired Herebeth’s prowess in the air. Several times Zurinth tried out her sharp turns, but he still managed to avoid her. Until it came to the turn at the opposite end of the lake. That was where the green advantage showed up and she used a spiralling move to come in from an unexpected angle and tap his tail. Herebeth didn’t seem to mind as the two of them barrel rolled together, wingtips throwing up spray from the lake surface as they returned. Both dragons landed on the stones.

That was fun, Herebeth said. Zurinth is fast.

How’s your wing feeling?

He flapped it a few times. It feels fine. I like this exercise.

Zemianth moved into the starting position. ‘Right,’ S’brin said. ‘Zurinth versus Zemianth.’

D’gar looked at the two greens. Zemianth was sleek, like a runner bred for racing, while Zurinth was much chunkier. Who do you think will win? he asked Herebeth.

Zemianth is quicker, but Zurinth is trickier.

J’rud and S’brin glanced at each other, counting down with their fingers before they both told their dragons to fly. Zurinth went high, obviously anticipating Zemianth would try something similar to what she’d done with Herebeth. This was a very different sort of race than between brown and green. The dragons were much closer all the time, spinning this way and that. It made D’gar feel dizzy just watching.

Then Zurinth pulled off an incredible move, doubling back on Zemianth to change direction, and grabbed her tail quickly between her teeth, dropping it before she did any damage.

Zemianth seemed surprised; shocked even and her emotions were reflected on S’brin’s face. ‘How did she do that?’ he asked.

J’rud shrugged. ‘Never underestimate Zurinth. She may not be pretty, but she can hold her own in the air.’

I think Zurinth is pretty, Herebeth commented, having caught the gist of the conversation from D’gar’s mind.

So what makes her more appealing than Zemianth to you?

She is cuddly and fun. She likes me.

‘You know, I don’t reckon Herebeth is going to have any problems at all. He’s holding his own even now.’ J’rud shuffled the smooth stones with his feet.

‘Yeah,’ S’brin added. ‘He’s not going to be fighting fit for another few sevendays. By the time it comes to a mating flight, he’ll have had even more time to recover. I reckon you’re just worrying about nothing.’

D’gar threw a stone into the water, watching the ripples expand outwards. ‘I’m worried about him getting involved in one of those tussles, where they’re trying to barge each other off course. Maybe he’ll get hurt again? And he definitely can’t turn so tightly that side. Zurinth figured that out pretty fast.’

‘Except in a real flight, she’d be wanting him to win,’ J’rud said. ‘Anyway, maybe you can persuade him to just change his tactics. He usually prefers keeping away from the main pack, doesn’t he?’

It was true. Not every time, of course and definitely not in that mass flight. D’gar nodded to J’rud.

‘I’ve noticed - and I bet S’brin has too - that some dragons, particularly the older ones, tend to fly high. They’re out of all the jostling and they can see what’s happening below. They wait for their rivals to get tired doing all the chasing and barging, then when it’s time, they swoop down.’ J’rud brought his hands together in a demonstration. ‘Get Herebeth to try that next time.’

D’gar thought about it. ‘It sounds possible. So long as he can keep it in mind when he’s in chasing mood.’

‘We’ll just have to see about that.’ S’brin’s eyes unfocussed. ‘Zemianth says she’d like Herebeth to chase her now.’

D’gar wasn’t sure if it was intentional or whether Zemianth was becoming slightly tired from all her aerobatics, but Herebeth managed to tap her tail on the return. It left him - and his dragon - feeling a great deal more confident that his recovery was going to be better than the healer had surmised.

As always, Fall came around again. Herebeth was frustrated he could do nothing to help. I want to fight Thread again. How soon can we fight again?

The healer said another two or three sevendays. They had been out of it for so long this time, D’gar had lost a certain amount of his own confidence, particularly with the reports he’d been hearing about the way Thread was behaving these days.

He watched ‘C’ Wing leave the bowl, spotting Zurinth as she flew past. There were quite a few unfamiliar dragons in the formation; replacements and transfers. S’brin was on second shift, so he was still on the ground, feeding firestone to Zemianth. Agarra was out of the kitchen today, standing by at the table piled high with clean bandages, pots of numbweed and redwort.

The infirmary doors were open and the healers stood together just outside, knowing they’d not be busy for a while yet. D’gar admired them for doing the job they did unflinchingly. He could understand the satisfaction they must gain from seeing a patient return to health, but how must it feel when they lost someone? Hebiri’s tall stature made her stand out among the women. He wondered how she managed not to worry about R’feem while he was up there. Just got on with her job, he supposed, the same way they did when they were fighting.

‘Hey, D’gar!’ Z’tul, a bronze rider who had been on long term support, beckoned him over. He’d be back in the air again soon, he’d told them, now his own injuries were catching up with the healing of his dragon.

‘What is it?’

‘Fancy joining us in a game?’ He held up the cards in his good hand.

Dragon poker held too many bad memories for D’gar. He wasn’t generally superstitious, but drawing those elevens before two very different deaths meant he no longer really enjoyed the game. ‘No thanks. I don’t have much luck with cards.’

He went over to wait next to his mother, as one by one, the Fort Wings took off and disappeared between. It would be a while before leading edge was sighted and they began to fight. This was the calm before the storm.

‘How long before you two are back up there?’ Agarra asked.

‘Two or three sevendays.’ He saw the worried look come over her face. ‘I’ll be fine. Herebeth’s itching to be fighting again and we’ve both learned a few more new tricks.’

‘I don’t like it. So many are being injured these days. Or worse.’

‘You think I don’t worry about S’brin or J’rud every time they ride Fall, while I’m safe on the ground? Everyone’s saying we’ve only a Turn or two to go. We’ll get through it.’

She bit her lip. ‘Some of those who are no longer with us believed the same.’

D’gar hugged her. ‘I know. Worrying doesn’t help, though.’

‘Grarren’s going to be old enough to become a candidate in another two months.’

Ah, so that was why she was worrying more than usual. ‘He’ll be all right. No one reckons there’ll be another mating flight until next Turn, if then. By the time he and his dragon are ready to join a Wing, it’ll all be over.’ If he even Impressed at all. It was never a certainty. Quite a few of the boys with whom he’d grown up had failed to Impress and were now working in various support roles around the Weyr.

Suderoth lounged next to Tirelle, who was engrossed, as usual, in her knitting. It looked as if she was making V’dul a new winter jumper as she did each Turn.

The Weyr was ready. D’gar envisioned the skies over Ruatha, the dragons in formation and everyone craning their necks to catch the first glimpse of Thread. If he was there now, he’d have stopped feeling sick as Herebeth’s eagerness overcame his own human doubts and fears.

They begin to fight, Herebeth announced. Zurinth often sent him brief flashes of what she was seeing. He said he liked it. It helped him to feel involved. Occasionally he’d translate the images to commentary, although, as was normal for any dragon, he only named the dragons and not their riders. Thread falls like thin rain through the cloud.

Little thin strands. He hated that kind the most, especially when visibility was poor. That was how Zurinth and J’rud had been injured before.

Zurinth weaves her way through, searing Thread.

Smaller dragons coped better with that kind of Fall. Less surface area and quicker to dodge. if it carried on the same all the way through, you’d expect to see more bronze and brown casualties. Nothing much happened for a while. Dragons and riders were still fresh and fuelled up. Mistakes tended to come later. D’gar had gone back over to chat to Agarra when the first injured began to return. A blue rider with blood running down his face, his dragon’s eyes whirling yellow with worry. He was hustled inside the infirmary. Herebeth and some of the other dragons clustered round, reassuring their fellow. Next a brown dragon, his rider slumped over and hanging on to the straps as he made a heavy landing.

Herebeth recognised his clutchmate before D’gar, who was looking instead at the multiple scores over both dragon and rider, green ichor mingling with red blood. It is Kailarth, he said.

D’gar rushed across to help. He couldn’t be certain if G’tash was conscious or not. His wherhide jacket had been eaten away across the shoulders and down his right arm. With so much blood it was hard to see exactly where he’d been scored.

Several other riders had arrived too. ‘Who’s going to get him?’ one asked, looking nervous. There was good reason for that. An unconscious rider might have serious injuries. If he died while still on his dragon, the dragon would go between. Anyone else still up there would be taken between as well.

If anyone was going to brave it, the quicker they did, the better. ‘It’s all right. I’ll get him down.’

Talk to Kailarth, Herebeth. I’m going up to rescue his rider.

Because he wasn’t the tallest of folk, people often underestimated his strength, but as well as receiving the usual weyrling training in how to rescue and carry an injured person, he’d practiced with S’brin many a time. He swiftly climbed up Kailarth’s shoulder, grabbing at the straps to aid him and trying not to put his booted feet on any of the scores criss crossing the dragon’s hide.

Kailarth is concerned. He says he cannot hear his rider.

This had to be done fast. Tell him I’m helping his rider. Tell him to keep calm.

‘Keep your distance,’ D’gar warned the others waiting alongside, being careful not to touch the dragon. ‘I’m going to cut the straps then I’ll pass him down. Get him away quick as you can.’

Suderoth helps now. She is forcing him to stay calm. But do not take too long. Herebeth sounded concerned.

D’gar sliced through the leather, braced himself against the dragon’s neck strap and got G’tash’s other leg over the neck. Grabbed him beneath the armpits, feeling the slickness of blood on his hands. Unsurprisingly, G’tash weighed a lot less than S’brin. D’gar let him down as gently as he could, waited until the riders below had moved him away, then jumped down.

Get clear, Herebeth said urgently. Now!’

He wasn’t quite far away enough to avoid being struck by Kailarth’s left wing as he launched himself from the ground with a terrible shriek. D’gar rolled out of the way as the great brown bulk rose above him, then, abruptly, vanished. All of the dragons began to keen.

It was only as he rose to his feet, he realised how close it had been. The riders had laid G’tash’s body down on the ground outside the infirmary. It didn’t need a healer to confirm he was dead. Dragons always knew first.

Herebeth came over to nuzzle him, then Agarra arrived.

She hugged him, uncaring they were both getting covered in G’tash’s blood. ‘If that’s how you behave in Fall, I’m glad I can’t see it.’

‘I had to, mum.’

Hebiri reached them next. ‘You’ll both need a good, hot mug of klah after that. It’s the best thing for shock. Now, come on inside and sit down.’

©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.

Story Discussion Topic

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

All the little moments of fun, joy, and just normalcy belies what is it coming.  So enjoyed the visit to the mountain lake, the three of them seem to have finally make peace with each other.  Makes it just that much harder...

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Loved this chapter, the level of detail of life in the weir is truly amazing, it isn't getting any easier tho. That was a close call, thank goodness for Herebeth's warning!

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45 minutes ago, centexhairysub said:

All the little moments of fun, joy, and just normalcy belies what is it coming.  So enjoyed the visit to the mountain lake, the three of them seem to have finally make peace with each other.  Makes it just that much harder...

I know. I wanted to show all the normal details of day to day life and then how something horrible just happens out of the blue.

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34 minutes ago, drsawzall said:

Loved this chapter, the level of detail of life in the weir is truly amazing, it isn't getting any easier tho. That was a close call, thank goodness for Herebeth's warning!

No, it's getting worse as the Pass draws to its close. Most of the Wings are under-manned, there are fewer weyrlings to fill the gaps and Threadfall is becoming unpredictable. Getting a wounded rider down from his dragon has to be one of the most dangerous things that needs to be done.

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