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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 - 38. A Deadly Tithe

Herebeth and D'gar return to their duties. Thread continues to exact its deadly tithe.

Hebiri took them to a side room, away from the chaos of the main infirmary. ‘You’ll have some peace and quiet here.’ She poured out klah from a kettle atop a small stove. ‘Give yourself a break. I’d best get back.’

‘Thanks,’ D’gar said.

Agarra had already composed herself. She cupped her hands around the mug and sipped slowly. ‘I couldn’t believe how quickly that all happened.’

D’gar had heard of similar situations, but he’d never seen - or been involved - in one before. ‘Me neither. Herebeth told me Kailarth was worried, then Suderoth stepped in to keep him calm, then…’ He shook his head sadly. ‘He was in our clutch.’ That was three gone, now, plus Neyrenth disabled.

‘It’s been a bad Turn.’

D’gar couldn’t disagree. He wondered if moving G’tash had been what finally killed him. Yet, he’d had to be moved. When someone was bleeding so badly, their only chance was to get rapid treatment to stop it. It was the healers’ first priority with any injured rider. After that, they’d have more time to assess what else needed to be done.

We are wanted, Herebeth said. It is becoming busy.

D’gar took a few cautious sips of the hot klah, then put it down. ‘Got to get back to work.’

Agarra stood too. ‘I suppose I should as well. There’ll be time enough to sit around after Fall.’ She plucked at D’gar’s bloody sleeve as he went to leave. ‘Be careful.’

Back outside, in the main infirmary, healers worked non-stop as more casualties were brought inside. Once D’gar was in the open air, he saw several dragons also being treated. As always, he quickly checked to see if any were from their Wing. Thankfully not, so far, but then they weren’t flying the dangerous top level today.

‘Fetch us some numbweed,’ One of the dragon healers called. ‘To the bronze there.’ He hurried over himself.

While not as badly injured as Herebeth had been, the bronze and his rider had caught several deep scores. It would keep them from fighting for a couple of sevendays, until the wounds had healed sufficiently to allow them to fly between again.

D’gar was kept busy. As he worked, he reflected on G’tash’s death. He’d always been a bit stuffy and they’d never been the best of friends, but they’d been the only other brown pair in Kadoth’s last clutch. It was often said in the Weyr by the time a clutch had been fighting ten Turns, at least a third would be dead. They’d got to that figure already, having been a smaller number to begin with.

When the greens from the first shift began coming back, streaked with char, he was glad to spot Zurinth among them, although that meant Zemianth would have gone up as replacement. There was always more time to worry when you were on the ground.

A blanket had been thrown over G’tash’s body while Fall continued. Someone would take his body between to join his dragon later. Sometimes the Wingleader performed this duty, although often a rider’s friend or weyrmate volunteered. D’gar wondered who would take G’tash. He must have had some friends in ‘F’ Wing. Probably browns or bronzes. He didn’t think G’tash would have bothered to make friends with any blues or greens.

Hebiri spotted him staring at the body. ‘Did you know him well?’

‘Clutchmates. We never really got on, though.’

‘It’s a pity we didn’t get a chance with him. Sometimes that happens when someone’s been badly scored. It’s not always loss of blood that kills. Their heart just can’t take the shock. Not a bad way to go, though, compared with some.’ She wiped her hands. ‘Think we’re keeping ahead of it now. As long as we don’t get too many in the second half, that is.’

It certainly seemed to tail off. Maybe conditions had improved, or the quantity of Thread had diminished? Suderoth only had to assist a dragon to land once. Having experienced it for himself, D’gar felt for the rider of the green, who had scores on both wings and was clearly in some pain. The rider had caught Thread across his shoulder and chest, yet refused treatment until his dragon had been numbed and the dragon healers begun the cleaning and reconstruction work.

As the Wings began to return, the work increased for those on support duty. Dragons and riders kept fighting if the scores they had received weren’t too painful or incapacitating. Sometimes, in the heat of the fight you didn’t even realise you’d been hit. Once it was all over, those wounds began to nag and the instant relief of numbweed was a blessing.

By the time D’gar and Herebeth were sent off duty, most of the riders had already bathed, put on clean clothes and were on their way to the dining hall. D’gar gave his mother a leg up to get on board Herebeth and flew up to the weyr to collect some clean clothes for himself. G’tash’s blood had mostly dried and he knew he didn’t smell too good. ‘Wait there,’ he told Agarra, sliding down. Although the dragons weren’t around, it was possible J’rud and S’brin were inside and who knows what they might be up to. The release of tension following Threadfall often led to other activities.

No one was there, although S’brin had, as usual, left his wherhide and Zemianth’s fighting straps strewn across the floor. D’gar grabbed some clothes, then went back out.

‘Right. Let’s hit those baths.’

‘And after that, the laundry.’ Agarra rubbed at the stains on her sleeve. ‘I know they work miracles getting stains out, but I wonder if they’ll manage with these? I like this top.’

D’gar didn’t really care much if the shirt he wore was ruined. Everyday working clothes could be picked up easily. When a rider died, his possessions were usually shared out among his friends and anything no one wanted went to the stores. He’d got an almost new pair of boots that way a Turn ago. S’brin was so tall, very few of the donated clothes fitted him.

Only a few riders were left in the baths, so it was easy to find a relatively private pool. Not that Agarra minded. She’d long since become used to the Weyr habits of nude bathing, both indoors and out. While she unbraided her hair and worked sweetsand through it, D’gar floated on his back. looking at the cavern ceiling. It was how he always relaxed after Fall, made much easier by the pool being more empty than usual. With the water lapping around his ears, it was difficult to hear much, but he realised Agarra was speaking.

‘Sorry,’ he said, sitting up. ‘What was that?’

‘I said, did you even think about the danger before you went and rescued that rider?’

‘Not really. I mean, I knew what could happen, but there was no time to waste.’ He swam over to the bowl of sweetsand and applied it to his own hair.

‘Is it like that during Fall, too?’

‘Sometimes.’ He wondered how honest he should be. ‘There isn’t a lot of time to think when you’re up there. You spot the clumps and work out roughly what order you’ll deal with them. You have to trust your dragon to make decisions as well. They can see better than we can, especially in cloud or rain. Herebeth’s saved me a few times.’

Agarra rinsed her hair, then squeezed out the excess water, examining its glossy length. ‘Ha! I’ve a few more grey hairs each time I look. Wonder how many of them are down to you?’

‘Sorry,’ he mumbled.

‘You can’t help it, love. It’s who you are. I’ve tried to bring up all of my children to be helpful to others. I’m pleased you tried to save that rider. It’s just seeing it with my own eyes brings it home to me the dangers you all face. I’m just glad I didn’t see you and Herebeth getting brought in by Luduth that time.’

D’gar was glad about that, too. He ducked under to rinse his hair, then cleaned the remaining blood off his arms and body. ‘Since I’ve been on support duty, I’ve been worrying a lot more about everyone who’s fighting. It’s silly really. Even if we were up there with them, there wouldn’t be anything I could do to help. Even if a friend gets hit, you can’t stop fighting. You have to put it to the back of your mind and live in the moment, like the dragons.’

‘M’ta’s said much the same, when I’ve asked. He doesn’t like talking about it much, though.’

D’gar understood. Most riders didn’t, except for the boastful ones like G’dol. The longer anyone had been fighting Thread, the less they tended to say about it. ‘It is how it is.’

‘Ah, well.’ Agarra patted him fondly on the shoulder, the one which still bore the pale scar of his first ever Threadscore. ‘Enough of all that. I’d best get dried and dressed again. You’ll all want your dinner later, won’t you?’

‘Certainly will. And I’d better go and tell S’brin and J’rud if they don’t already know. He was their clutchmate too.’

By the time he got to the dining hall, it was busy. Riders were drinking klah and munching on snacks. Some had already moved on to ale or wine. On ’F’ Wing’s table, the Wingseconds were handing out the customary cups of sprits.

S’brin had saved a space for him. ‘See they lost another one today. So did “B” Wing.’

‘What kept you?’ J’rud asked, passing a klah over.

‘Had to clean up. I was a bit bloody.’

‘You all right?’ S’brin gave him a look of sympathy.’

‘Better than the poor bastard I rescued. He died outside the infirmary. G’tash, in case you hadn’t heard.’

‘Shards!’ J’rud swore. ‘Another one down.’

‘That’s what I’ve been thinking, too. Anyone we know from “B” Wing?’

‘R’grys, I heard. Sorath’s rider.’ J’rud grimaced. ‘He was a decent sort.’

D’gar tried to recall him. He thought he’d been in the barracks with them, but couldn’t remember if he’d been one of Loranth’s or Suderoth’s clutch. Herebeth supplied the information. Bronze Sorath came after us. He was one of Suderoth’s.

A clutch mate of Zalna’s then and with a similar number of Turns experience as they had.

R’feem leaned over. ‘Sorry to hear you’ve lost another clutchmate. If you want to go over and have a few drinks with his wingmates, then go ahead.’

‘Thanks,’ D’gar said. ‘Might do that.’ G’tash had been stuffy; always chiding him to behave responsibly as a brown rider should, but he’d had his kind moments, too. He’d stopped some of the other riders teasing S’brin before Zemianth first rose. The comments he’d made at Telgar still rankled, but that was just G’tash. Now, he wouldn’t be making any more comments about anything. Another pair gone to cold between.

It was a rowdy evening in the dining hall. J’rud and D’gar, although fairly drunk themselves, had to help S’brin up to the weyr. It was easiest to get him on Zemianth, being the smallest of the three dragons. D’gar got up behind him to make sure he didn’t fall, then once there, they undressed him and climbed into bed together. Being drunk always led to disturbed sleep, which meant D’gar had more time to think about the day’s events. If G’tash had died just a few seconds earlier, he’d not be here either. Nor would Herebeth. J’rud and S’brin would have been drinking to his memory…

We are here, Herebeth said. You are not helping yourself. It is past.

I can’t stop thinking about it.

Yes, you can. Think of pleasant things instead. Zemianth said we will go to the beach tomorrow and have fun.

He didn’t want to keep Herebeth awake, so he tried to still his mind, thinking of the waves and warm sunshine. Eventually, it worked.

After the rest day, I’grast asked him to present himself for an assessment the following morning. He’d known this moment would come. Herebeth was fully healed and the games the dragons had played had brought him back to fighting fitness. D’gar had been exercising regularly with S’brin, so he was in good shape as well.

H’kail was waiting in the Bowl, too. Hollath and he had been scored recently, and had been recovering for three sevendays. ‘Looking forward to getting back to work?’ he asked.

‘Herebeth definitely is. I’m wondering if I’ve forgotten what to do.’

H’kail laughed. ‘No more than you forget how to ride your dragon. I’ve never been out for as long as you, but we’ve both been injured a few times. What I hate most about it is the way it throws her mating patterns off.’

H’kail always got stressed about flights. ‘At least I don’t have that to worry about. Although I’m concerned whether his wing will let him down next time he chases a green.'

‘It looks pretty good. I’ve watched him flying with Zemianth and Zurinth over the Weyr. Once he’s got the urge, he won’t even think about it.’

That was kind of him. As D’gar was about to thank him, Tiriorth landed beside them, his bronze hide gleaming in the morning sunshine. ‘Right-ho, you two,’ I’grast called. ‘Get on board and ascend on my signal. It’s a fine morning for flying, so let’s make the most of it.’

They flew straight for a while to get the dragons warmed up, down the valley towards the Hold. Some of the trees were beginning to turn colour and in the the orchards, workers harvested fruit. A few looked up and waved, seeing dragons in the sky. D’gar thought about the destruction if Thread had burrowed among the trees. It was their job to protect the land, just as it was those workers duty to tend it.

Tiriorth gives me co ordinates,’ Herebeth said, showing him the image. He watched for the Wingsecond’s signal and they went between together.

I’grast had taken them to a secluded valley. He had the two of them fly to and from a set point, then dodge in and out of low valleys and trees to test their manoeuvrability. Then he had them climb and dive, being sure to test Hollath more on the type of moves she’d need while fighting. Herebeth had to follow Tiriorth as they were more evenly matched. D’gar was almost as out of breath as Herebeth when they’d finished.

Tiriorth tells me we flew well. Herebeth sounded happy. He says we will be back with the Wing soon.

Once they returned, I’grast dismounted and addressed them. ‘It’s my opinion you’ll both be fit to fly next Fall. D’gar, you’re to tell me at once if Herebeth feels tired and we’ll get you swapped out. He’ll want to keep going, as all dragons do, but Tiriorth will make him see sense if he has to. Same goes for you, H’kail, although Hollath won’t be up for so long anyway.’

‘Fine,’ H’kail said.

‘How long before she rises again?’ he asked.

H’kail shrugged. ‘Not sure. Normally, she’d have been due a sevenday or so ago. Soon, I suppose.’

‘Try not to get too stressed about it. We’ll see if we can keep it within the Wing, eh?’

‘Thanks.’ H’kail seemed slightly reassured by that.

‘Right. Off you go.’

J’rud and S’brin were waiting for him in the dining hall. ‘We’re clear to fly again,’ D’gar told them.

‘Knew you would be,’ J’rud said.

‘Be good to have you back there with us again. Toth isn’t quite so steady as Herebeth.’ S’brin gestured with his head towards the side of the dining hall. ‘Talking of M’rell, look at that.’

A female maintenance worker perched on a ladder taking some ductwork apart. M’rell was handing her various tools on demand. ‘Think she’ll fall for his charms?’

‘Who knows? They’re always being pestered by riders so they can afford to be fussy.’

‘Good to see him taking an interest again,’ J’rud said. ‘It’s been a long while since Rina died.’

‘Everyone takes their own time.’ S’brin stretched, his bones popping. ‘I’ve seen some folk get together with someone else almost right away.’

‘Not relationships though. Mostly it’s just about sex and comfort.’ J’rud glanced towards M’rell again, then to S’brin. ‘Like some I could mention.’

‘Hey, I helped him though a bad time. We both knew it wouldn’t last.’

D’gar thought it best to guide them away from the subject. ‘And a good thing too. Otherwise, we three mightn’t have found out how well we all fit together. I’d like to see M’rell settle down with someone again. “A happy Wing is an efficient Wing,”’ he quoted.

‘You’re getting to sound more like R’feem as the days go by. Sure he’s not your dad? S’brin smirked.

D’gar did some quick calculations. ‘Too young. He’d have only been a weyrling when I was born and my mum’s always tended to prefer older men.’

’N’rir, then?’

It was a game they’d used to play when they were younger. Agarra had always insisted she’d fallen pregnant with him after a gold flight and that she’d had two or three partners around that time. A bronze, a blue and one of the beast herders, she’d said. It had never bothered D’gar much. Fathers generally didn’t generally play much part raising their children in the Weyr, M’ta and P’llesh being something of an exception. ‘Could be anyone, really.’ There was a high likelihood that if he had been a rider, he might no longer be alive.

‘My mum didn’t even want me,’ S’brin said.

D’gar had heard it before, but J’rud probably hadn’t, so he let S’brin continue with the tale.

‘She was thirty-two and she’d never fallen pregnant, so she’d assumed she couldn’t. Anyway, she had a fling with a bronze rider and this time it took. But because she had nothing to compare with she just thought she was feeling ill for other reasons. It was someone she worked with who pointed out she might be pregnant. Anyway, she was horrified. She wanted my dad to take her for a short ride dragonback, but the healers said it was too far along and she might damage herself in the process. So here I am.’

‘Lucky you.’ J’rud said.

‘Yup. Or you two might never have had the chance to know me.’ He smiled. ‘At least my foster mother appreciated me. She said from the time I was little I was always taking stuff apart and wanting to know how it worked. She was convinced I was destined for a career in maintenance. Then Zemianth picked me and everything changed.’

‘I remember you back when you were a kid. Leader of the weyrbrats. You’d scrap with anyone and usually win.’ J’rud sipped his klah. ‘I have to say I admired you from afar. I wouldn’t have dared to speak to you then.’

‘No, you were one of the good kids who didn’t play around during the Harper’s lessons. Like D’gar, before I corrupted him.’

D’gar let S’brin pull him closer. They’d been around thirteen and a half when they shared their first kiss, but it felt like an age ago. ‘You almost seduced me in the kitchen, remember?’

J’rud pretended to be shocked. ‘Good job Agarra didn’t catch you.’

S’brin squeezed D’gar a little tighter. ‘Then succeeded in one of the unused infirmary weyrs.’

D’gar definitely remembered that night. ‘I spent the whole of the next day smiling. Agarra must have realised, but she didn’t say anything.’

‘Except she started feeding me cakes regularly,’ S’brin said. ‘And one time when you weren’t around she told me to look after you and not break your heart. She was scary. I thought she’d poison my food or something.'

Even hearing about it now made D’gar embarrassed.

‘While I had no one,’ J’rud pretended to make a sobbing noise. ‘Mind you, I was spotty and short. I didn’t start growing much until I was almost fifteen. Remember when we were candidates and that boy Jastan kept pushing me around?’

‘He was an idiot,’ S’brin said. ‘And a bully.’

‘D’gar stopped him and his friends trying to stick my head down a necessary. He knocked him over and the others didn’t even dare take him on. That was when I fell for him, I reckon.’

D’gar vaguely remembered the incident. It was after S’brin had started to teach him some techniques for fighting people larger than himself and the first time he’d put them to use. ‘At least he didn’t Impress.’

‘The dragons always know,’ S’brin repeated an old saying.

‘Some of them might, but remember G’dol Impressed a bronze.’

‘He was probably the last to Hatch. Not much choice left.’ S’brin let D’gar go. ‘Fancy going back up to the weyr for a while? That’s both of you, naturally. Then we can fly off somewhere and spend the afternoon sunbathing.’

‘Sounds good.’ D’gar called Herebeth to pick them up. One of the advantages in having a brown, he supposed. More room for all your friends.

Fall day came around. It was a late one, not due until mid afternoon, so D’gar suffered a morning of anxiety, repeatedly checking over his riding gear and Herebeth’s straps to try to keep his mind off it. Herebeth reassured him plenty of times. D’gar worried his concerns might be interpreted as not having confidence in his dragon’s abilities. It’s not you, it’s me, he said. I’ve been out of this for too long.

Do not worry. I remember how to flame and sear Thread. My wings are as sound as they ever were. We will both be fine.

It wasn’t so bad once they were assembled in the Bowl, Herebeth crunching enthusiastically through his first bag of firestone. R’feem came over to have a quick word. ‘Remember to tell I’grast if either of you are feeling tired. You’ve nothing to prove to anyone.’

Zemianth and Zurinth were both on the first shift today. D’gar was glad he’d been put with S’brin and T’garrin. They’d both be forgiving if he made any mistakes. After they’d mounted up, he glanced over to the infirmary; to all those still on support duty, plus the healers and support staff who’d been rostered to help today. Weyrbrats played on the flat piece of ground next to the lake, well away from the action.

‘Form up,’ I’grast shouted. ‘We’ll be taking off next.’

Herebeth readied himself to spring into the air on command. Riders watched for R’feem’s signal, just as their dragons listened for Piroth. Then they were aloft, ascending rapidly as the Weyr Bowl diminished in size beneath their wings.

Ruatha today; the northern part of the Hold. The change of season was further advanced here. A few of the higher mountains were already snow-capped. Horned herdbeasts browsed on the sparse grazing where rock gave way to soil. Their shepherds took shelter in the small stone huts provided. Unlike the lowland beasts, these couldn’t be penned easily, but they seemed to have their own innate sense Thread was on the way. D’gar noticed lines of them making for caves or rocky overhangs. Even at such a height, he fancied he heard their bells tinkling.

They were flying the top level today. At least the cloud base was high, so visibility was good. There was a bite to the air, showing summer had moved on from this part of Pern. D’gar convinced himself it was the cold making him shiver, although he knew it really wasn’t. He was nervous. Flashbacks of his plunge toward the Bowl kept going through his mind, together with the first glimpse he’d had of Herebeth’s shredded wing. He had to keep forcing himself back to the here and now, to the task at hand. Just because something happened once, didn’t mean it would happen again.

They flew the usual pattern as they waited for leading edge to come over the mountains. D’gar tightened his straps and checked his firestone bags. Need any more? he asked Herebeth, trying to stay practical.

Not at present.

He wondered how Thread would fall today? Thick and even, maybe, or broken up into patches. Writhing strands; the kind some called Medusa’s hair. He wondered absently who Medusa had been to have such famously unruly hair as that.

Leading edge is in sight. Herebeth sounded gleeful and ready. We ascend to meet it.

It was a sight to see; two Wings spreading out, the ones ahead flaming already. D’gar smelled burned Thread in the air. This was it! Then Herebeth attacked the first clump and all his efforts were concentrated on the fight.

Two hours later and the pattern had changed to larger clumps; too large for a green to burn on her own. Belloth and Zemianth tackled them together, while Herebeth took up the slack. It was physically impossible to reach all of it, so some fell to be seared by the levels below. D’gar’s shoulders ached and the taste of char fouled his mouth, no matter how much water he sipped whenever there was time. Herebeth still felt strong and he’d assured D’gar several times he wasn’t tired.

They’d had two replacement bags when S’brin waved goodbye and winked between back to the Weyr. T’ned came in to replace them. His Pimanth was almost as manoeuvrable as Zemianth and T’ned had over thirty Turns of experience. It was an almost seamless changeover.

As was usual over this part of Ruatha, there were breaks now and again, when they crossed rocky ground where Thread could safely fall. You still had to dodge it, of course, but it provided time in which to resupply your dragon with firestone and swill some more water. Beneath the heavy wherhide, D’gar’s shirt was soaked in sweat from the physical effort and Herebeth’s hide had darkened almost to black.

He looked down. Some of the older weyrlings had been brought along to practice their fighting techniques with real Thread. If they missed a few strands, it didn’t matter as there was nothing for it to devour on the rocky ground. It was good training for when they moved up to the Wings. The dragons loved proper flaming too. They were tiny specks from this height, but D’gar saw the bursts of flame far below.

He and S’brin had done the same a few times. N’teren had guided them towards the safest patches and kept his eyes open for any stray Thread that might be coming towards them, letting Chareth take care of those. It wasn’t entirely safe; nothing involving Thread ever was, but with an experienced Weyrlingmaster, accidents didn’t happen very often.

He didn’t see exactly what went wrong. It all happened so fast and too far away. Herebeth’s mental flinch hit him first. Megelth flames Bresonth. Bresonth goes between.

The wave of sadness came next as Bresonth was lost between.

D’gar glanced down again. The weyrlings had broken their tidy formation. M’nan should get them all to transfer back to the Weyr immediately. Whatever he intended, it wasn’t soon enough.

Megelth is hit by Thread. He goes between too. Herebeth sounded solemn.

Two weyrlings lost in one day! That was terrible. D’gar didn’t have much time to reflect as they started to overfly pasture again and it was back to work. The sadness seemed to remain, though, as was often the case when very young pairs died.

He was pleased he and Herebeth managed to fight all the way through. Tiriorth asked Herebeth several times if he was fit to continue.

Why does he keep asking me that? I know how I feel.

He is concerned for you. He doesn’t want us to overstrain ourselves on our first day back at work.

Even as trailing edge dissipated over another mountain range, D’gar didn’t feel any more tired than he ever did after Fall and Herebeth still flew strongly. They returned to the Weyr, where J’rud and S’brin rushed over to hug him once they were all off their dragons.

In the baths, everyone was taking about the weyrling incident.

‘M’nan’s fault,’ said F’gil. ‘He doesn’t pay enough attention. Not the first time he’s made a mistake but at least no one died before.’

‘Yeah,’ another rider from ‘D’ Wing agreed. ‘Even before it happened I could see they were too close. And when you’ve got weyrling pairs who aren’t used to flaming, that’s a recipe for disaster.’

‘I saw him going up to T’ron’s weyr straight after Fall,’ B’naj put in. ‘Bet he’s in for a roasting himself.’

In the dining hall, the speculation grew. In addition to M’nan’s possible fate, another experienced pair had been lost from ‘G’ Wing. As that put them down to only twenty-four fighting pairs, riders wondered if they might be the next to be disbanded.

R’feem returned to the table after the Wingleader’s meeting, looking serious. ‘Bad day for the Weyr,’ D’gar heard him say to N’rir.

‘What’s happening with M’nan?’ I’grast asked.

‘Still with T’ron. We’ll just have to wait and see.’

Later still, when Mardra and T’ron arrived, he announced very shortly that M’nan had decided to step down as Weyrlingmaster. N’teren had kindly offered to resume his former position temporarily. Anyone interested in the post should speak to their Wingleader.

The weyrlings table was subdued, as might be expected. Some of the lads were crying. T’ron himself went across to speak with them. Tirelle did too, as the lost pairs were from Suderoth’s clutch. They had only been a Turn and a half old.

‘Did you see it?’ M’rell asked.

‘Not really. Herebeth told me. Why, did you?’

‘No. Sh’bul did, though. “B” Wing was on the lower level today. He said there were a couple of close calls even before the accident. M’nan should have made them fly further apart, he said. You know what it’s like when you’re a weyrling, getting carried away with riding a flaming dragon. You don’t always pay attention to what’s around you. It was M’nan’s job to make sure they were safe and he failed.’

Somehow, the thought of the obnoxious M’nan getting his comeuppance paled before the loss of young lives. D’gar was just grateful that if his younger foster brother did manage to Impress, he might have a better Weyrlingmaster to train him. N’teren hadn’t always been sympathetic, but at least he’d made a decent job of getting them prepared to join the Wings.

It wasn’t totally surprising when R’feem announced that Y’min had applied for the position. He was one of the older blue riders in the Wing with thirty-six Turns of fighting experience. He’d be joining N’teren for training and would hopefully be ready to take over after Turn’s End. Everyone joined in the celebrations. Y’min would have a fairly easy time of it. There would only be a few more clutches before the end of the Pass and those would be small in numbers.

‘Another one down for us, though,’ J’rud pointed out. ‘We may not have as few pairs as “G” Wing, but just a couple more out of action and we’ll be getting dangerously low as well.’

D’gar and Herebeth settled back into the routine of Fall. Just as when he’d been scored before, he found himself a little more nervous when they were flying in conditions with limited visibility, but nothing could ever be as bad as that thunderstorm. Thread continued to take its tithe. Barely a month after they’d returned to duty, M’ta was badly scored and came very close to losing an eye. When someone with so many Turns of experience was injured, it really hit home. Then, just before Turn’s End, T’ned and Pimanth were lost during a wet Fall. D’gar hadn’t been paired with him that day, but M’rell told him the gruesome details.

‘Thread hit him right in the face.’ he put his palm up to his own face to demonstrate. ‘Reckon he died in seconds. Pimanth gave a shriek and went straight between.’

D’gar shuddered. If Herebeth hadn’t got his wing up in time that day, the same might have happened to him. Although you probably wouldn’t have time to feel much pain, the thought of Thread eating your face was a particularly nasty one.

The list of familiar names after the Turn’s End feast, brought back all the memories of lost friends, wingmates and clutchmates. S’brin squeezed his hand. ‘We’ve got through another Turn. All of us.’

‘I know.’ This Turn had brought some close calls. D’gar couldn’t help but wonder if their good luck would continue.

©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

Loved this chapter, tho in all honesty I should say I loved/hated it for the anticipation the title had me in...

Knowing what happens to S'brin makes each chapter leading up to the penultimate event seem like cliffhangers, yet they aren't. The conundrum is...when is a cliffhanger not a cliffhanger but is a sort of cliffhanger...oy...my head hurts just thinking about it!!😬

Edited by drsawzall
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20 minutes ago, drsawzall said:

The conundrum is...when is a cliffhanger not a cliffhanger but is a sort of cliffhanger...oy...my head hurts just thinking about it!!😬

It's like waiting for something to happen which you know is going to be unpleasant and having it rescheduled all the time.

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Oh, losing the youngsters was truly a hard and bitter pill to swallow.  You knew that the incompetence of that idiot would get someone killed; and since he dealt with the young ones that is who you worried about.  M'nan should have never been given the responsibility of that job; it should have been more than obvious that he was not up for it.

Glad that D'gar and Herebeth got back into action and preformed well.  

Each chapter seems to be like a death knell that we know is closing in; sometimes knowing the future makes it harder to live in the present...

Truly well written...

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2 hours ago, centexhairysub said:

Oh, losing the youngsters was truly a hard and bitter pill to swallow.  You knew that the incompetence of that idiot would get someone killed; and since he dealt with the young ones that is who you worried about.

There must have been many occasions when there were close calls. One might have hoped M'nan would have grown into the job, but sadly that didn't happen.

He won't have an easy time of it now he's back in the Wings.

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It makes my heart ache to know what's coming, and yet not knowing when, and it's no consolation when someone else meets their Fate instead.

It galls to think of those lost due to chance, but more so when we lose promising riders due to sheer incompetence....

I guess it would be too much trouble to have S'brin magically survive at this point?

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3 hours ago, ColumbusGuy said:

 

I guess it would be too much trouble to have S'brin magically survive at this point?

 

It would certainly make 'Gone Away, Gone Ahead' a very different story! I know what you mean, though. Having written the second story first, I hadn't really explored S'brin's character fully save as 'dead love interest' and having written so much about him since, I'm not looking forward to his demise. And Zemianth, of course.

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Some interesting details about life in the weyr and how they are different in handling love and death.  Herebeth seems to have healed very well and has no problems in fighting thread.  M'nan's resignation was great, but I didn't like the fact two weyrling pairs were lost because of his incompetence.  Well written chapter.

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