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by Soo Novi on August 16, 2008, 06:02:00 PM
Updated on 8-19-08 to include Buckaroo Mu's particulars

It is a mere 3 turns before the dawn of the 9th pass now.  It's been a long interval, 400 turns since thread last fell on Pern.  Gianfar has remained predominantly isolated for nearly 2500 turns.  The dragons of the mainland have always known that the Gianfar dragons exist, but dragons keep things to themselves if they know it's wished.  Gianfar has a rich history, some forgotten, some yet to be rediscovered, and most quite varied.  They have their own secrets, they kept much (although not all) that the mainland forgot, and they have made discoveries of dragon abilities not yet known on the mainland.  They come and go on the mainland and the southern continent as need requires but as inconspicuously as possible.  They have friends on the mainland who have kept their secret for many generations.  They also travel to other places and are visited by others of which the general population of Pern could not conceive.  They have contributed to all of Pern in ways unknown and unnoticed.  They saw the not-yet-impressed Lessa nor hatched Ramoth when they went back, and they chose to remain behind to guard the rift.  They prepare, watch the skies, and wait...

The aged weyrleaders, Myth and D'rren, had served long and well during this interval, perhaps too long.  It was apprehensively thought that the queen would not rise again and whispering about the fate of the Weyr was rampant; all of which was quite under the table, as no one wished to openly suggest that the current leadership was passed its time.  The weyrwoman's daughter, Soo Novi, was widely considered the most likely candidate to not only impress a queen, but also run the Weyr.  She'd taken to the training like a dolphin takes to water.  But the weyrwoman had shielded Soo from search and hatchings trying to give the girl as much freedom from responsibility as possible.  Many thought she'd been protected for too long, and now the fate of the Weyr was in jeopardy with no bonded pairs clearly suitable to the task.  The weyrfolk were feeling the pressure and angst of not knowing where the leadership would go, and the dragons were responding to that ongoing tension in erratic ways.  Tempers were short in the Weyr in those days.

Without warning, though, the aging gold did rise for one last flight.  She'd been sunning on the weyrleader's ledge, close to the bowl rim, and she didn't even bother to blood first.  She rose, trumpeted her challenge and was off.  Later everyone would be stunned that even the dragons had not seen it coming.  The old gold's hide never even glistened.  Taken by surprise, and responding to all the bronze and brown rider's angst over the current state of affairs in the Weyr, every bronze and brown male in the Weyr rose to the challenge; many were already in the air and had a head start.   The riders circled the overwhelmed weyrwoman, now standing on the weyrleader's ledge in bewilderment, with a madness of determination in their eyes that had not been seen before in Shaula.  D'rren, though, was on the other side of the Weyr by the seaside when his bronze Eldath hoisted his massive hulk from the bowl floor to try to match his weyrmate.  D'rren was not a young man and although he too was beginning to lose himself in his dragon's passions, he was severely winded by the time he made the ledge.  Not too winded to know that one was standing out and coming forward.  As the aerial dance played out in his mind he knew that the largest of the young bronzes, Barath, was easily matching wing tips with the gold queen.  Had it been just a matter of speed he would have over taken her easily, but the gold was agile and able to move out of reach at the last moment.  Barath rumbled arrogantly to him self and his rider, impatiently waiting for her to tire.  Barath's rider, N'don, was impatient too.  As D'rren made the ledge N'don was already greedily reaching for Myth.  Far above them Eldath was just catching up.  Seeing Eldath's approach Barath grabbed the gold without any prelude and joined with her savagely.  Eldath's indignant rage filled him and overflowed into D'rren, "how dare he touch what is mine?" was the only thought that filled both their minds.  Eldath gave one final push with his enormous wings and slammed his massive bulk into the already entwined and copulating dragons, and with a spine chilling screech the bronze went for Barath's throat.  On the ledge D'rren did the same, grabbing N'don by the neck he began to throttle the rider. The Bronzes, lost in their rage, tangled with the bronze and fell as one, unable to fly. N'don was lost in his dragon's pain, and fear for his dragon's health, but not too lost to know that D'rren was an equal threat here and now.  Pulling his belt knife in one easy motion he thrust it to its hilt into D'rren's lower abdomen, and barely noticed when the warm arterial blood began to drench them both.  D'rren fell back, but did not let go, and without warning both riders went over the ledge; D'rren landed on top of N'don, N'don was not so fortunate and died immediately.  Almost at the same moment, the tangle of dragons hit the ground - the aging Eldath on the bottom of the pile, crushed to death in an instant;  the young Barath next, then the gold, gravely injured but alive, cushioned by the pair. Later folk would wonder if N'don died first and Barath followed him between, or if Barath went between knowing his death was imminent from the mortal wounds from the flight and fall.  Either way, N'don took the brunt of the fall with a sickening sound that would not leave the minds of those within earshot for a very long time.  D'rren lay atop N'don's loose body.  His knife wound alone would have been difficult to survive even were the healers able to get to him quickly enough, but D'rren had sustain significant injury in the fall too.  It was just a matter of time.  Myth, hysterical at the turn of events, rushed to D'rren and cradled him for the few brief moments it took him to bleed out. As one all the dragons began to keen....

The mating was successful, if you could call it that.  The queen, mortally injured but surviving, was carried back to the Weyr by a team of remaining bronzes, and placed on the hatching ground - although she will be 3 months from laying, no-one doubted that she would never fly again. Both Myth and her dragon knew that the Weyr would not survive without this clutch and so they stayed.  Myth tried to resume her duties and get on with it, but many wondered if she'd ever recover the will to live.  For her dragon's sake she tried, but every day it became harder for her to think clearly.  Soo noticed her mother seemed to age 20 turns over night, and every day it seemed a little bit worse.  The Weyrwoman, after recovering from a necessary sedation, vowed to represent the Weyr at the upcoming Gather - the better to show the Lord & Lady Holders and CraftMasters that discipline is still known at the Weyr. At the Gather, her fierceness and the fire in her eyes recalls to many attendees the Weyrwoman as she was decades before, but the underlying sorrow was palpable.  The day to day running of the Weyr has fallen to Soo.  

There on the hot sands the Queen lays, three months and more, until the eggs are expelled from her ruined body - and the very act condemns her, as the effort and further injury leave her unable to move, to eat. Tended only by Myth and Soo, the only people she still recognizes and trusts, she lays - listenening to her eggs, awaiting the sounds that will let her know they will mature.

Thus the Weyr: without a true WeyrLeader, short its most senior two Bronzes and their Riders, and without a formally recognized Weyrwoman. Only the centuries of tradition keep it from collapsing into chaos - but still, there is the feeling, the restlessness in the Dragons. They, indeed, are the ones who seem to draw the riders back to the Discipline of the Weyr - knowing, yet not knowing, that the disorder must end, and the Weyr must be prepared.
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