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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 - 48. A Long Journey

Lessa addresses the Weyr and preparations begin for a long journey.

D’gar sat on the edge of his bed, thinking over the evening’s revelations. It was almost too much to take in. After T’ron’s introduction, Lessa had told the story of the Long Interval that would follow the recently ended Pass. Of the Weyr’s fall into disfavour and the reluctance of Holders to believe, after so long, that Thread would return to menace Pern once more. She told them how, in her time, only Benden Weyr was inhabited and that it had been so since the end of the previous Pass, when all the other Weyrs had mysteriously disappeared, leaving nothing behind to explain where they had gone, or why. Having already discovered that dragons could jump between times as well as places - and yes, he’d been right there - Lessa had said how she’d also figured out the reason for the other five Weyrs’ mysterious vanishing. They must have jumped forward through time to help Pern at its darkest hour. And if they had, then someone needed to go back and guide them. She had taken that risk.

Emotions, at fever pitch anyway, had been stirred further as she asked them to come forward with her to fight Thread in another age. With only one hundred and forty-four dragons, Benden couldn’t hope to keep the whole of Pern Thread free. They were desperate.

Lessa had explained the reason she and Ramoth had suffered so greatly was because she hadn’t realised how long a jump of four hundred Turns would take. She had almost suffocated from lack of air and the disorientation caused by being between for an extended period had made her ill. But, during the meetings, they had come up with a solution. By taking it in small steps - jumps of only twenty-five Turns at a time - then all should arrive safely and in a fit state to fight.

As her story reached its end, D’gar had found himself cheering along with everyone else. Looking forward to a grand adventure. Now, alone in his weyr, he wondered how he could have been so mindlessly enthusiastic. It wasn’t as if he had any choice in the matter. T’ron and his fellow Weyrleaders had already committed them to go along. But to cheer, as if he was looking forward to it…

Lessa’s story had been a stirring one. He had no doubt she truly believed in it; that she would return with the five Weyrs to save the day. Yet how could she be so certain it would go as smoothly as she supposed? They might all be lost between. And if they weren’t, they’d be arriving at the beginning of the Ninth Pass, with fifty or so Turns of fighting Thread ahead of them. For all M’rell had complained of boredom, D’gar was fairly sure there were more riders like himself, who’d been glad to see the end of Thread. Yes, it was their duty as dragonriders to protect Pern, but hadn’t they already done enough?

It was no good. He wasn’t going to get much sleep tonight. He didn’t even have Herebeth for company. His dragon was sleeping deeply. D’gar wondered if he and the other dragons realised the implications of what had been decided. Of course, they’d be eager. Dragons always wanted to fight Thread. Thankfully, they also had a short memory, so as not to be disturbed by gruesome images of death and injury.

The thought of fighting Thread again brought memories he’d hoped would recede into the past come to the fore again. Once again, he relived the dreadful day S’brin died. Freshly stirred grief made his eyes well up. How many others would be going through the same tonight? He was glad now he’d not re-started a relationship with J’rud. It was best to stay alone. Then he’d not be leaving anyone behind to grieve for him, if the worst happened. When the worst happened, more like. He’d pushed his luck too far over the past few Turns and had escaped more or less unscathed. It probably wouldn’t hold out for much longer.

The following morning while he was fetching his breakfast, he heard many of the same doubts expressed.

‘All because we leave here doesn’t mean we’ll arrive there,’ M’rell pointed out. Others around them agreed; they were all aware of how badly visualised jumps could end in disaster.

‘Well, I’m all for taking the chance,’ said Z’tul. ‘The last four months have been boring enough. Imagine how it’ll be after four Turns, or forty.’

‘Typical bronze rider,’ M’rell muttered. ‘All death and glory.’ He glanced at D’gar, realising what he’d said. ‘Sorry. I didn’t mean…’

‘It’s fine.’ D’gar took a drink of klah. He appreciated M’rell’s sensitivity, but he didn’t need reminding yet again of all he’d lost.

‘We’ll be hailed as heroes,’ Z’tul continued. ‘Think of all those grateful Holders. They’ll be falling over themselves to thank us. Anyone else noticed how there’s not the same respect from them now the skies are clear again.’

There were nods of agreement. ‘Doesn’t take long for people to forget how much they owe us,’ B’naj muttered.

‘Anyway, that Weyrwoman seems to know what she’s talking about. And she’s already made the jump one way, so of course it’s possible. We’re going to become legends. Like Moreta. There’ll be ballads written about this.’ Z’tul waved his spoon in the air as if he was conducting a ballad himself.

‘What do you think?’ M’rell asked, as they carried their plates back to ‘C’ Wing’s table.

‘He’s either right, or he’s not. Not a lot we can do about it either way. The powers-that-be have already decided we’re going.’

‘I’d like to see you both later this morning,’ R’feem said, as they took their usual seats. ‘We’ve a lot of work to be done.’

D’gar was pleased about that. At least if he was busy, he wouldn’t have too much time to dwell on what lay ahead. As he ate, the idea of food must have woken Herebeth and reminded him his own stomach needed filling. D’gar spent some time with him at the feeding grounds, watching him devour a herdbeast, before making his way to R’feem’s weyr. M’rell was already there.

‘Sorry if I’m late. Herebeth needed to eat.’

‘When doesn’t he?’ M’rell commented.

‘Best that all the dragons are well fed before we leave.’ R’feem brought them back to the matter in hand. He turned to D’gar. ‘So, what are your feelings about all this?'

D’gar wasn’t sure how to answer, but he’d always been honest with R’feem and never suffered for it, so decided to speak his mind. ’Well, we didn’t have any choice, so I suppose we have to make the best of it. Besides, however I, or any individual rider feels, no one can deny Lessa’s Weyr needs our help. We have to go.’

R’feem nodded. ‘And you, M’rell?’

‘I think it’s exciting. We’re going to see the future. And as I said earlier, some of us have been feeling bored without much to do.’

D’gar wondered if he should ask how R’feem felt, then didn’t need to as R’feem answered before he spoke. ‘It’s our duty to Pern,’ he said. ‘That’s the official line, anyway. And, deep down, I believe it. But I also have a sense of regret. We thought we’d be living our lives out in peace and now we aren’t.’

He’d summed it up well. D’gar agreed with his sentiment.

‘Anyway, there’s plenty to be done. Everything portable has to be taken with us. Remember, we’ll be arriving here, but four hundred Turns hence. This Weyr will have been abandoned and empty for a long time. Anything small enough to move would probably be stolen, so we may as well forestall that happening. We’re assigned to help pack up the kitchen area.’

D’gar knew the kitchens well and appreciated how much there would be to take. ‘A lot of it’s breakable,’ he said, recalling the store rooms filled with preserved foodstuffs in glass and ceramic pots.

‘I know,’ R’feem sighed. ‘And much of that will have to be left, unfortunately. But bagged goods, such as grain, roots and tubers can be taken. Today, I’d like you two to begin preparing lists. D’gar, it’s lucky your mother works in that department. I’m sure she’ll be happy to advise.’

D’gar nodded. It would be a massive task. ‘How long do we have?’

‘A sevenday, maximum. Two days to inventory and decide what has to be left behind, the rest for packing up.’

‘That’s not long.’

‘I know, but it has to be done. You see, no one in Lessa’s time had any inkling of why the other five Weyrs had disappeared, or where. She had to figure it out from a teaching ballad. The longer we take to prepare, the more likely it is word will get out. Hence not allowing anyone to leave the Weyr. However, we will be flying as a Wing tomorrow, for practice jumping between times.’

‘That sounds fun,’ M’rell said.

D’gar was more cautious. ‘Can every dragon do it?’

‘According to Lessa, yes. When she and the Benden Weyrleader realised Thread would be returning, they sent several clutches of weyrlings back into their own recent past, so they would have time to mature and supply them with more fighting dragons. All colours have the ability, but they need to learn how to do it.’

D’gar had to ask him. ‘Did you know about this already? A couple of times, when I suggested Lessa and Ramoth might have travelled through time, I thought you were holding something back.’

‘Yes, I was,’ he admitted. ‘Gold and bronze riders are taught the theory, but we’re discouraged from trying it.’

‘Have you ever done it?’ M’rell asked.

‘Twice, under supervision from my old Wingleader. It’s not much different than going between places, but the coordinates have to be precise. We’ll be using the Red Star as a guide when we go forward. The position of the sun, or stars are also useful.’

‘So why did Herebeth refuse when I tried it?’ From the look M’rell gave him, D’gar could see he was impressed.

‘He’d never done it before, that’s why. If I have Piroth give him coordinates, he’ll do it without thinking and that seems to break the inhibition. A few practice runs and he’ll be fine with it. That’s the way we learned.’ He paused for a moment. ‘Right. Let’s get going. If you divide up the Wing between you, they can move anything we should take. It’s important we have enough to feed the Weyr for a few sevendays, until T’ron can meet with the Lord Holders of the future and ask for tithes. Mind you, they should be willing enough now Thread’s begun to fall over their lands.’

D’gar and M’rell set off for the kitchens armed with slates. ‘You never said you tried going between times,’ M’rell said.

‘You never asked.’

‘I didn’t know, that’s why. I mean, who’d even think it was possible?’

‘I reckoned that Lessa must have done it, although I thought back then it might have been by accident rather than deliberately. So I had to try.’

‘You’re mad,’ M’rell said.

‘You’re looking forward to fighting Thread again. That’s mad. Anyway, let’s get on with this. I’ll ask Herebeth to call the wingriders, shall I?’

Agarra was pleased to see him. She pulled him to one side. ‘What’s all this about packing up the kitchens?’

‘You heard Lessa last night. We’re all travelling forward and we need to take as much as we can carry, along with supplies.’

She looked dubious. ‘That’s all very well for you folk with dragons. What about the rest of us?’

‘We’ll have to carry passengers as well as goods.’ Herebeth had carried four people before, although two were children. It wasn’t so much the weight, as fitting them on where they wouldn’t interfere with the dragon’s ability to fly. There were only so many neck ridges, after all.

‘Can I have a lift with you?’

‘I’m sure you can.’ At least then, he’d be certain she was safe. Agarra was a reluctant passenger, at the best of times.

‘Where do you want to start?’ M’rell asked. ‘You know this area better than I do.’

‘Storerooms first, so we don’t get in everyone’s way while they’re preparing lunch.’ Most of the Wing had turned up by then. D’gar divided them roughly in half, then he and M’rell set to with the inventory.

The day passed quickly. D’gar was surprised at how easily he was able to sort through the vast storerooms with the aid of helpers. Two of the kitchen supervisors turned up in the afternoon. Their aim was to plan meals for the next few days to use up the perishable foodstuffs. They also had the idea of baking plenty of bread the day before leaving.

‘Who knows what sort of state the ovens will be in,’ one said. ‘At least we can knock up stews or soups to feed everyone for a couple of days over a fire, if needs be. Give the maintenance crew a chance to get things working again.’

Everyone seemed resigned to the move. Well, he supposed they would. The Lower Caverns staff were mostly weyrbred. Those who had come to the Weyr voluntarily, like Agarra, had often been disowned by their families for one reason or another. They’d prefer to chance their luck and stay with the people they knew in the place they knew.

There were lots of tired riders in the dining hall, after the unaccustomed hard work. Many went up to their weyrs early. Some had already begun their own packing. D’gar ended up in J’rud’s weyr, helping him wrap his precious ornaments in old rags so as not to get damaged.

‘You can’t take everything in here,’ he pointed out. ‘I mean, the rugs and tapestries should roll up fairly small, but the furniture…’

‘Zurinth can carry a couple of tables. Maybe that chair, too.’

‘Remember she’ll be lifting some of the kitchen goods as well.’ Greens wouldn’t be loaded with so much as the larger dragons, but they’d still have to do their bit.

‘Seems a waste to leave it all. It’s taken me a while to get this weyr how I like it.’

D’gar wasn’t sure what four hundred Turns of neglect would do to furniture. True, many of the larger items were said to have been made in ancient times and seemed to have survived well enough, but that was with a certain amount of care. ‘It’ll be fine,’ he said, trying to sound reassuring.

‘What if things are stolen?’

‘We’re on a high level here. Even if thieves managed to scale the sheer rock face, how are they going to get it down? Or transport it?’

‘I suppose so.’ He didn’t seem convinced. ‘It’s not just furniture, though. How do you really feel about all this?’

They hadn’t had a chance to talk since the announcement the previous evening. ‘It’s all happened so fast, I haven’t had much time to think about it.’

‘Do you think that’s why this is being hurried along so much? So no one has time to consider. Or to change their minds?

‘Maybe,’ D’gar acknowledged. ‘R’feem said it was to do with keeping it all secret. Apparently, in the future, no one knew what had happened to the five Weyrs and Lessa had to figure it out from clues.’

‘Hmm.’ J’rud wrapped a painted vase. It looked far too delicate to survive the journey. ‘And how do you feel about fighting Thread again?’

D’gar gave him an honest answer. ‘Scared, obviously. But it’s our duty.’

J’rud slumped down into his comfy chair. ‘I thought we were both safe. Now it’s all changed.’ He sounded despondent.

D’gar sat opposite him. ‘I know. But we can’t alter what’s already happened. We must have gone because the Weyrs were empty in Lessa’s time.’

‘How many of us will even get there? I talked to Zurinth about jumping between times and she couldn’t comprehend it at all.’

D’gar wondered if he should tell J’rud about the planned practice. R’feem hadn’t said he shouldn’t. Still, he remembered how N’teren hadn’t told them until the morning they were due to learn to fly between, to stop people worrying all night. ‘We’ll be fine,’ he said. ‘From what I’m told, it’s no more difficult than going between places, once your dragon has the knack.’

J’rud sighed. ‘Some of the riders have been talking about it this move like it’s a big adventure. I’m stuck somewhere between worry and outright fear.’

‘You’re sensible, that’s why. We’re uprooting ourselves from all we’ve known and going off on a journey that might end in disaster. Then, when we get there, it’s back to the old routine.’

‘A journey…’ J’rud mused. ‘That’s what the fortune teller said, remember?’

‘Eh?’

‘At the Gather. She told us we were going on a long journey.’

D’gar cast his mind back. She’d also said S’brin wouldn’t be with them. Well, that was certainly true. What else had there been? Something about being brave? ‘I can’t recall much of it.’

‘She said there’d be good fortune at the end of it. So maybe we will be all right.’

‘Let’s hope so.’

‘Do you think…’ J’rud looked him straight in the eyes, with a hopeful expression. ‘Do you think we’ll get together again, in the future?’

‘Well…’ He had to be honest. ‘It’s probably not a good idea. I mean, if we’re going to be fighting Thread, either of us could be killed at any time. I don’t want to feel the way I have over the past few months again and I wouldn’t want you to feel like that over me.’

‘I’d feel like that anyway. You know I love you. That’s not going to change.’

‘Well, let’s wait and see, eh? There are too many uncertainties right now.’ D’gar wished he could reassure J’rud, but it wouldn’t be fair to give him false hope.

Someone must have mentioned the practice, because at breakfast the next morning, D’gar found himself asked by several different riders if it was true they’d be learning to fly between times today. He still wasn’t sure if he should confirm the fact, but luckily R’feem avoided that necessity by telling the Wing himself.

‘This morning, I’d like you to assemble in the Bowl an hour after breakfast. Fighting straps, please. Don’t want anyone falling off when they learn how to fly between times.’

Questions came thick and fast; many of them the same as D’gar had wondered himself. Could any dragon learn the technique? Was it dangerous? What did it feel like?

R’feem answered patiently. ‘It feels much the same as going between places. A small jump, just a couple of Turns, you’d not notice much difference. The longer the distance in Turns, the longer you’ll be between.

‘How far will we be going today?’ M’ta asked.

R’feem thought for a moment. ‘Around twenty-two Turns; a similar distance to the steps we’ll take when we make the big move.’

‘What if we come out in the middle of a Fall?’ N’dru sounded concerned.

‘We won’t. Piroth will give your dragons a very specific coordinate and I can assure you it’s not on a day Thread was falling. Once we emerge, we’ll circle briefly, then I’ll give you the coordinates to come back home. I’ll warn you that although your dragons will be unaffected, some riders may feel a little disorientated. You’ll probably all be tired when we return, so I’d recommend a mug of strong klah before we get back to the jobs we were doing yesterday.’

‘Well, that sounds straightforward enough,’ M’rell said as they left the dining hall.

R’feem had made it seem that way, but then he’d needed to. So long as his Wing had confidence in his instructions, they were more likely to succeed. As Herebeth had said, it wasn’t a good idea to jump between with uncertainty. ‘R’feem won’t let us do anything dangerous,’ he replied.

Back in his weyr, he felt the familiar churning in his stomach nerves always brought on. He wasn’t so much afraid of disappearing between as failing. What if some dragons just couldn’t grasp the technique? Would they be left behind?

Why are you worrying? Herebeth asked.

We are learning something new this morning. He didn’t want to say any more. Herebeth might pick up on his feelings and turn them into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Anyway, there was no reason to think his dragon couldn’t learn a new skill. If he hadn’t already tried on his own, he’d have no reason to doubt. How had Lessa discovered the trick, with no one to teach her? Maybe she was just very strong willed and had been able to overcome Ramoth’s reluctance? Or perhaps Ramoth had simply been too inexperienced to hesitate, the same as that weyrling pair must have been.

By the time they flew down to the Bowl, a couple of the other Wings were also assembling. D’gar hoped they weren’t all intending to go to the same when. But he supposed the Wingleaders would have spoken with each other to ensure that didn’t happen.

They waited while I’grast took ‘F’ Wing aloft. D’gar watched in fascination as they blinked between, wondering if he’d hear the awful sound of dragons keening again. Although, would they keen if something went wrong so far away in the past?

Before he had time to think about that too much, R’feem signalled for them to take off. Once they were at a good height and he’d checked everyone had their fighting straps tightened, Piroth gave the dragons his coordinates. D’gar saw the image as Herebeth shared it with him. Fort Weyr, only in summer. Small fluffy clouds in the sky and a lot of activity below. Before he had time to question, or Herebeth to wonder why the seasons had changed, R’feem gave the signal and the next moment he was enveloped in the cold nothingness of between. He kept that image strong in his mind, even though he was aware of far more time passing than he was used to. When at last they emerged into warm skies, it was a huge relief.

He looked down. They were above Fort Weyr and yes, it was definitely summer, so they had to have travelled through time. Down in the Bowl, dragons were making for the Hatching Grounds and even from this height, D’gar heard the hum of expectant dragons.

I do not understand, Herebeth said, sounding puzzled. Whose eggs are hatching? And why is it summer?

Don’t worry, he said. Trust Piroth.

They circled slowly. D’gar realised R’feem had brought them into a position where they wouldn’t be easily seen from the Weyr Bowl, unless someone specifically knew they were there. With an imminent Hatching, it was even less likely anyone would be looking up. All attention would be on the Hatching Grounds. As he watched, candidates trooped out, to be picked up by blue dragons. He felt that familiar recollection of the Hatching when he had Impressed Herebeth.

Piroth gives me coordinates again. Herebeth sent him another picture that was undoubtedly Fort Weyr on a winter morning, with someone standing on the heights waving a red blanket. They went between a second time. For some reason - maybe familiarity - it didn’t seem to take so long this time before they emerged from the ultra cold into normal, winter chill. The rider on the heights immediately folded his red blanket as R’feem signalled to him, picking up a blue one instead.

They glided down to the Bowl in formation, then dismounted. Everyone had made it and all seemed fine. D’gar didn’t feel particularly tired, although he noticed M’ta and P’goll staggered slightly as they dismounted.

Is that it? Herebeth asked. That was a short drill. Has the Hatching finished?

That Hatching was a long time ago. We just went between times. You see, we can do it! He hadn’t felt so triumphant since the day they first flew together.

‘I’ll meet you all in the dining hall for klah and questions,’ R’feem called out.

Just before he went inside, he saw ‘F’ Wing reappear as the man on the heights waved a blue blanket. Ah, that’s what it was about. The colour must be specific to each Wing, so they wouldn’t return before they’d gone, or all at the same time.

M’ta looked pale and ill. As D’gar checked the other riders he saw a few in similar state. P’goll looked as if he might faint, while R’nix had slumped forward, head pillowed on his arms. All older men, he realised.

‘Well done, everyone,’ Even R’feem’s hands shook slightly as he cradled his mug. ‘Now, I might as well tell you when we went to. It was the day Piroth hatched. I remember feeling very scared and uncertain, then I looked up and saw a Wing of dragons above, with a fine-looking bronze in the lead position and I just knew it would be all right.’

D’gar reckoned back. He’d have been less than a Turn old. It was strange to think that as he’d circled above that long ago Weyr aboard Herebeth, he would also have been somewhere down below, probably crawling around the Lower Caverns. ‘Why are some people affected so badly?’ he asked, although he already had an idea what the reason might be.

‘It’s hard on people being in the same time twice. The older you were, the worse it gets you. Dragons don’t seem to mind.’

‘So, how’s it going to affect us when it’s time for the big move?’ M’ta said, in a weary voice unlike his usual. ‘We’ll not be much use if we get there feeling like I do right now.’

R’feem smiled. ‘We should all be fine. After all, we’ve never existed in the time we’re going to. Now, for those of you who don’t feel too good, I suggest you go and lie down for a while before joining up with your work party. I’m certainly having a rest before I do anything else.’

Work continued for the rest of the day. D’gar felt a sense of satisfaction at having a storeroom full of all the transportable foodstuffs. It still looked like too much, though, bearing in mind everything else that had to be taken along.

No one was lost from the Wings during the drills. The weyrlings received their training the next day and all succeeded too. It wasn’t such good news with the older, retired riders. Out of twenty, three didn’t return. Presumably their minds or those of their dragons were too inflexible to learn something new? Or maybe they hadn’t wanted to come back. If D’gar and others of his age were worried about the Big Move - everyone was calling it that now - then how might it feel to someone fifty or sixty Turns their senior?

Next day, the packing began. D’gar and M’rell had both realised a great deal of the kitchen implements couldn’t be packed until the day they were due to leave, so they began on the least essential items.

‘You don’t realise how much stuff there is until you need to move it.’ Agarra shoved a motley collection of stacked bowls into his arms. From the dust on them, they’d not been used for many a Turn.

‘Are you sure these are necessary?’ They must be spares, from a time when the Weyr had more occupants. He was sure he’d put them on the ‘do not take’ list.

‘Well, we can’t just leave them. What a waste that would be.’ Agarra sounded snappy. ‘Anyway, how would you know about what’s needed in a kitchen?’

She was definitely irritable. Just showed it must be getting to her, as well. ‘All right. I’ll see if we can fit them in.’

It was an amusing thought that when they finally arrived in that distant future they would look more akin to travelling pedlars than a lean, mean fighting force. D’gar knew the Wingleaders were in charge of allocating a fair weight to each dragon. He had the feeling that when it came to the day, there might be some disgruntled riders forced to leave belongings behind in favour of what the Weyr considered to be essentials. He dreaded having to tell J’rud he couldn’t take his mirror, ornaments, or the nest of small tables he’d already wrapped for transit.

Just after lunch, work stopped when Lessa and Ramoth took to the skies for some exercise. The slight weyrwoman seemed even tinier perched astride that huge, gleaming neck. Were all the dragons in the future so massive? Well, he’d soon be finding out for himself. They circled around the Weyr a few times to warm up before Ramoth really stretched her wings in some aerobatic moves. All the bronzes watched her intently. It made D’gar wonder just how close she might be to mating. Whatever, she was an awesome sight.

Two more days went by. The Weyr began to look spartan, stripped of all but essentials. Even the boards on the dining hall walls, used to chalk up Wing notices, had been taken down. Carry nets full of goods were arranged outside, covered by oiled fabric in case of rain, although the weather had stayed in the cold, dry pattern that often lingered during first month. The winter sun had its usual effect on some of the greens. As he watched, a green dragon, her hide glowing vividly, rose to mate, pursued by a cluster of blues and browns.

D’gar checked Herebeth to see if he was interested, but he was sleeping in the afternoon sunshine and showed no inclination to follow. Given the state of things right now, he was glad about that, although he couldn’t help but wonder if his own lack of interest was inhibiting his dragon. The riders were already scrambling to be first into the flight weyr.

‘Look at that lot.’ Agarra appeared at his side with yet more pans. She shook her head sadly. ‘Getting out of work just to enjoy themselves. It shouldn’t be allowed.’

‘You can’t stop dragons rising, mum.’ Obviously, she was still upset. He couldn’t blame her for that.

‘That’s as may be,’ she sniffed. ‘Anyway, can you find some room for these?’

He sorted through the carry nets, finding spaces to fit them in. Surely nearly everything must be packed by now?

Later on, T’ron and Mardra flew out. ‘Off for another Weyrleaders’ meeting,’ R’feem said. ‘It’s close, now. A day or two, I should think. Make sure all of your section’s dragons have fed well. Pickings will be short when we arrive, until we get more herdbeasts brought in.’

There was so much to think of. Although the Weyr was tithed a quantity of both large and small herdbeasts each Turn, together with domesticated wherries, many of the beasts in the feeding pens had been bred at the Weyr. All of that stock would be lost when they moved, set free to wander, so they didn’t starve. At least they wouldn’t be eaten by Thread.

That evening, T’ron announced the move would take place the following night. ‘We’ve decided it’s best to travel during the hours of darkness. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, folk at the Hold and the valley farms will be indoors, so less likely we’ll be spotted. Secondly, we’re using the stars, specifically the Red Star, as our coordinates.’

He went on to describe how each of the five Weyrs would be travelling above their home Weyrs, for safety’s sake. Each Wing would be given coordinates by their Wingleader. There would be short breaks between each jump, to give time for the next set of coordinates to be reviewed and checked. ‘We want to ensure this move - the “Big Move” as I’ve heard it called - is undertaken as safely as possible. Tomorrow you’ll be given allocations of cargo and passengers for your dragon. If you would like to carry relatives or weyrmates, then let your Wingleader know. That’s all for now. Thank you.’

People stayed in the dining hall late, talking and drinking klah. No alcohol; it had apparently already been packed. D’gar suspected that was to prevent any drunken rowdiness and hangovers on what would be the busiest day. The last day at Fort Weyr, in this time.

‘Wonder what it’s going to look like after four hundred Turns?’ J’rud’s gaze swept around the dining hall.

They’d all seen ruined farm holds during their patrol flights. Some had only been abandoned at the start of the Eighth Pass, yet wind and weather had done its work fairly swiftly. A Weyr would be more resistant to decay, although some of the buildings within the Bowl might begin to crumble. ‘I don’t reckon the main structure will be much affected,’ he replied. ‘But look at how dusty my weyr got in just a few months. After four hundred Turns…’

‘I know. It’ll be the big clean up after the big move.’ He gave a slight smile at his wordplay.

‘It’ll be a mess. And we’ll be fighting again, so it’s not as if we’ll have loads of spare time. Best not to think about it too much.’

‘I can’t help it. I bet you are, too.’

He couldn’t deny that. ‘I try not to.’

‘Don’t think I’m going to sleep much tonight,’ J’rud continued.

‘Don’t think anyone will.’

‘Then maybe we could spend the night together.’

It was a tempting thought. Yet however innocently it started out, D’gar had no doubts about where it would end up. Too risky, given where they were heading. ‘Sorry, but I don’t reckon that’s a good idea.’ They could both be dead in a sevenday. Or sooner, if this plan went horribly wrong.

J’rud sighed. ‘I didn’t think you’d say yes. Just hoped you might be swayed.’

D’gar took his hand. ‘Listen, J’rud. Once we’re settled again, it’ll be different. I just need more time.’ Fact was, he was never going to love J’rud with the same intensity he’d loved S’brin. Or even enough to match the way J’rud obviously felt about him. At some point, he’d have to say all that, but not right now. There was too much else on his mind and he didn’t need complications.

He went back to his weyr alone. He’d pack his clothes in the morning, roll up his bed furs and the curtain dividing Herebeth’s sleeping couch from his own quarters. As for the rest…

He looked at the tapestries; flaming dragons protecting fishing boats as Thread fell over the sea. Moreta, riding bravely into the unknown, as they’d all be doing this time tomorrow. They reminded him of all the happy times he’d spent in this weyr. They were part of the irretrievable past and, as such, he didn’t want them as reminders. When - if - they arrived in the distant future, he wanted a clean break; a new start.

Having made the decision, he slept tolerably well, waking early. Herebeth and he watched the sky lighten. It was strange to think the next dawn they would see was four hundred Turns in the future. It made him dizzy to think of all those Turns between; all the folk and dragons who would live and die, while they skipped through time. What would S’brin have thought about it all? Right at that moment, his sense of loss was acute. He’d have loved to share this with S’brin. Together, it would have felt like the big adventure some of the other riders were talking about. He might even have felt excited rather than just resigned.

Herebeth nudged him. I think it is exciting, he said.

What do you know of it? Were dragons speculating as much as their riders?

We follow Ramoth to her Weyr. We go to save Pern.

It will be a long journey. You will have to carry a lot.

I know. But I am a strong dragon and do not mind. And then…Herebeth sent him a sharp image of himself flaming Thread, D’gar strapped between his neck ridges with a smile on his face.

Yes, I know. At least he seemed to be fully aware of what he would be doing at the other end of time. D’gar was glad about that.

The last day was busier than ever. Most of the other departments were fully packed up. D’gar had a couple more empty nets set aside to pack the final items from the kitchen after the last meal was served. Agarra had already told him it would be soup together with any cold meats and cheeses that needed eating up. Today, the smell of fresh bread issued from the kitchens as the plan to bake loaves got underway. D’gar snatched a warm roll and a slice of cheese to eat with his mid-morning klah, then went outside. Nets were being graded according to their weight; some were bulky, but light, whereas others were smaller, but heavier. A green dragon launched herself into the air, two large nets slung to either side of her belly. They were obviously heavy, but didn’t seem to bother her. R’feem and Sh’viel made notes. A blue waited patiently as riders and Lower Cavern workers fastened another load to his carrying straps.

D’gar stood in the sun, trying to work out how many hours their journey would take. While travelling between didn’t take very long, the stops would. He imagined fractious children needing to be comforted, the time it would take to brew klah and serve it to anyone who wanted it - they couldn’t do that on each stop, surely - how long it would take to get passengers back on board dragons and to check the cargo was still secure. Several hours, then. Small wonder T’ron had suggested everyone should try to get a nap in late afternoon, before the evening meal was served. After that, it would become hectic. It was a good job they were leaving in winter, when dusk fell early and the hours of darkness were long. He reckoned they’d arrive sometime in the early hours. If they arrived, that was.

He and M’rell were kept occupied, liaising with R’feem as they assigned loads to each dragon in the Wing, leaving slates with each name inscribed so there were no mix ups. Passenger names were also checked off. Herebeth would be carrying Agarra and Matagar, in addition to her partner, Jumor, one of the bakers. Before going for the suggested nap, he fixed additional passenger straps to the set he would be using. Herebeth’s fighting straps and lightweight riding straps, he dismantled and folded into a carry sack. Piled together, his belongings seemed very sparse. Still that was the way he wanted it. Simple, as his life would be from now on. If he needed company, he’d do what I’grast and M’rell did; there were plenty of willing partners in the Weyr. Relationships belonged to his past and would be left behind, like all other inessentials.

Everyone met up in the dining hall for their final meal before the journey. D’gar and M’rell had to wait for pots and utensils to be washed before packing the last few nets. Then it was time to fetch dragons and begin loading in the last of the daylight and then by glows. Herebeth shrugged a few times to make sure his nets were secure. In addition, baskets and sacks hung from the carrying hooks on his straps. D’gar felt a shiver of anticipation, not just his own, but the reflected emotions from all the dragons in the Weyr.

He glanced over to Ramoth, whose hide gleamed dully in the soft light of glow baskets. She too was laden with goods. Everyone would be helping tonight. Lessa looked determined as she stood, viewing the scene. She must be looking forward to getting home at last.

Eventually, it was time. Each Wing got their passengers aboard, then riders mounted up as Wingleaders gave to signal to ascend. The first off circled above the Weyr, waiting for all to get aloft.

Piroth tells us to go, Herebeth said. He sprang into the air, metal pots clanking as they settled in the nets. Agarra gave a gasp and hung on to D’gar’s belt. Matagar whooped in delight as the ground fell away from them. A few glow baskets below gave out a faint, diminishing light.

They rose toward cold and starry skies, Herebeth keeping his place in the formation as they circled, waiting. Piroth sends me the coordinates, he said calmly. Then, on R’feem’s signal, they went between, commencing the journey into an unknown future.

Thank you for following this story to the end. I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I have writing. Please leave a review and/or recommendation. It means a lot to us writers!

My next story in the Dragonriders of Pern series - 'Empty, Open, Dusty, Dead' - will start posting next Thursday, November 25th.

©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

Well, they are all looking forward the unknown, not just the future; but something they never envisaged.  D'gar is of course sad about S'brin, and understandably so; bit he no more than the rest truly knows what this trip will bring.  We can hope that he is able to overcome his hesitation and decide that he can be in another relationship.  I would think that being alone and just indulging in the occasional encounters would prove unfulfilling.

Can't wait to see what you do next with this series, so excited for the next book in the saga...

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1 hour ago, ColumbusGuy said:

An intriguing title, Mawgrim--images are already forming in my head, no doubt mostly wrong going on your talent and craftiness.  Ever thought of trying for a post in the Harper Hall?

It's a line from the 'Question Song' which gives Lessa the clue as to what might have happened to the other five Weyrs:

Gone away, gone ahead,

Echoes roll unanswered,

Empty, open, dusty, dead,

Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

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2 minutes ago, centexhairysub said:

I would think that being alone and just indulging in the occasional encounters would prove unfulfilling.

Can't wait to see what you do next with this series, so excited for the next book in the saga...

Yes, that suits some folk, but D'gar needs the emotional connection of a relationship.

There are a few shorter stories to bridge the gap between the end of 'Threadfall' and the start of D'gar's adventures as Weyrlingmaster at Benden.

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Well, they’re off to the future and new adventures, new friends new dangers and new enemies!

I really appreciate your imaginative story (as well as the rest of your stories) of what happened in the Weyrs during and after the end of the Eighth Pass as they are presented with the chance for a new life 400 Turns in the future. Anne and Tom dealt with the hierarchy of the Weyrs and their issues, which had enough drama to fill all those books, but the Lower Cavern people deserved having their stories told also, and you did this beautifully. :thankyou::glomp::2thumbs:

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(BTW, I was able to find Dragonflight and Dragonquest at my local public library for my Kindle!  I’m just waiting for it to come in.Someone else is reading it now!)

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I don't have a Kindle device, just a download thing from Amazon that was free, and with that I can read ebooks from various sites via my pc.  One site I found was the Internet Archive which has music, books and some episodes of tv shows like Sagwas The Chinese Siamese Cat which I love...I've found a few books there and you can choose the format to download them in, and they're all free.

I don't know if there are any limitations on searching because I've not had much experience with the site, but I was pointed to it by one of my eye doctors as a source of reading material and she gave me a form to send in which I have yet to do.  I may have unlimited access if I sent it, but perhaps others can check it out and let us know?

I did find a favorite book by Norman Spinrad called 'Song of The Stars' that I'd had in paperback but could no longer reread. 

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10 hours ago, Clancy59 said:

Well, they’re off to the future and new adventures, new friends new dangers and new enemies!

I really appreciate your imaginative story (as well as the rest of your stories) of what happened in the Weyrs during and after the end of the Eighth Pass as they are presented with the chance for a new life 400 Turns in the future. Anne and Tom dealt with the hierarchy of the Weyrs and their issues, which had enough drama to fill all those books, but the Lower Cavern people deserved having their stories told also, and you did this beautifully. 

Thank you. I’ve really become immersed in this world, although at some point I'd like to take a break to write some original fiction as well.

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Late to the party having been out of town, just a quick note of thanks in appreciation for your work on this truly wonderful series. I've laughed, cried, shouted at the computer and monitor, and kept looking forward to every Thursday afternoon. One of my all time favorites and to think, before starting with this, I wouldn't cross the street or hit enter on the keyboard on a story with dragons!!!

Thanks again and so look forward to whatever you give us next!!

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28 minutes ago, drsawzall said:

One of my all time favorites and to think, before starting with this, I wouldn't cross the street or hit enter on the keyboard on a story with dragons!!!

Yay! A convert. Just think, if you'd skipped it I'd never have had the volcano idea!

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I have always enjoyed the original books and am glad you're expanding the series.  Your writing is exceptional and you do a great job pf capturing the characters emotional states.  Keep up the good work! ugs

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Mawgrim, Thank you for these wonderful Pern stories.  I have missed them for a long time.  Your writing captures Pern and its people so very well. You have a very skilful talent to recreate this world authentically.  You capture our imaginations with your compelling plots and emotional involvement with your characters.  Very well done. 

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4 minutes ago, raven1 said:

Mawgrim, Thank you for these wonderful Pern stories.  I have missed them for a long time.  Your writing captures Pern and its people so very well. You have a very skilful talent to recreate this world authentically.  You capture our imaginations with your compelling plots and emotional involvement with your characters.  Very well done. 

Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it.

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