Fort's Forests - Fort Weyr - Forest Ruins
Little more than foundations are left of this ancient building, the stones long-since fallen and scattered, and so overgrown as to make them nearly blend into the forest from a distance. Small as it is, the moss-covered walls and tumbled-down roof form a sort of maze that twists and winds around trees and shrubbery, some of which growing right out of cracks in the rock. Here and there, bits of metal are visible, peeking out of the ground between pine needles and other debris, a testament to just how old this structure is. An overhanging bit of what may have been the roof, with slate tiles set precariously over it, reveals a shadowed nook, and a stone staircase that descends into darkness. Possibly, there may have been an old mine shaft here, though now the dense foliage makes exploration difficult at best. There is, a little ways beyond the outskirts of the building, a clearer area, with the stone floor still somewhat intact.


News travels fast but despite the swiftness it has still taken most of the day to prepare. Now another clear summer day is dwindling away to dusk, that odd hour when everything is cast in an ethereal light as the sun edges ever further towards the horizon. When reports came in to the Weyrleaders that some suspicious youths had been caught in the act — with evidence! — but fled, it set in motion several things. To start Thunderbird Wing sent out some of its best trackers and sweepriders to scour the forests for traces of these youths and traces were found when the riders returned to share the findings. These went on to the Guard Captain, the Weyrleader and the Weyr Staff, all hastily convened in a hurried meeting at the Council Chambers. What details are discovered are crossed checked with what was seen and witnessed by others, all of whom were called to those very chambers and then given new orders…

… As it would seem the decision came to confront these wild youths but with as minimal struggle or force. So while the Weyrleader assembled a few trusted riders to aid him, the Guard Captain went out to search for a few likely youths willing to volunteer, no matter rank. Their task will be to try and persuade the wild youths to come back peacefully and those that agree to help are sent along to join the riders already suiting up and preparing to leave. Once all is in order, with passengers paired to riders, they take wing and disappear Between to reappear over a clearing some distance away from their target. Th'ero is among this group, having Velokraeth land well enough out of the way so that others can touch down. The Weyrleader dismounts, hurriedly going through the last of the instructions with a grim seriousness to his tone. It may be kids they're going to confront but apparently these ones are willing to put up a bit of a fight! The instructions are simple (ha!): volunteers first, riders providing backup. Time to do a bit of sneaking through the forests but luckily their path is more or less direct. They know where they must go…

… Meanwhile, in "Camp Redfruit" and completely oblivious to the noose tightening around them, one of those youths is now pacing restlessly around a meagre little fire. She's no more than fourteen Turns at most, lanky and skinny in build and her dark hair hidden beneath a scarf she's wrapped around her head. Her clothes are rough but not nearly as much as some of the others. "Can't believe you three bungled that last run so BAD!" she can be heard muttering in a frustrated and angry voice. Two other youths, both boys, lounge nearby, one looking down at his hands and feet miserably and guiltily while the other just looks plain bored out of his skull.
Kimmila is included in those meetings and she rides out with the sweepriders, and then she rides into the clearing, her blue touching down beside Velokraeth and scooting over to make room for the others. Dismounting, Kimm checks her dagger (just in case!) and moves forward with Th'ero, murmuring something quietly to him.

And in the camp, the girl called Needle looks up sharply, frowning at Turncloak. "Well then maybe you should've gone instead of staying here all the time," she snaps back, lifting her chin. "We've done /good/ so far."

Having circled around to the far side of the camp, K'drozen waits quietly for the signal to move in, kneeling in the brush for concealment, The S&R rider while armed doesn't seem inclinded towards those weapons at this time..

Jastre is one of the volunteers, because who wouldn't enjoy a little excitement now and then? Apprehending some kids isn't dangerous, hopefully, and it'd benefit both them and the Weyr…. in the long run, perhaps on their part. And it involves a ride on a dragon, something he hasn't experienced very often. He dismounts and moves closer to the camp. Hopefully it helps that he's only a few turns older than them. He'd rather not get in any kinds of fights, but if there needs to be one, so be it.

Niumdreoth lands not all that far from the other dragons, as quietly as he possible can at that. Abigail is quick to dismount and check the few things she brought, one being a rather furry silvery gray colored canine which is in a harness (how it was able to be strapped in on the flight). The canine is quiet, trained for such things and once out from the straps is follows at Abbey's heels as the brownrider moves on towards the others that have gathered. Once the order is given to move out quietly she follows along, the canine still behind her and it never makes a peep. In case of tracking the best thing is a trained canine after all, so who knows this one may come in handy if the need is there.

Zaala came because she was one of those witnesses, but more because she feared that they were indeed going to lock up the kids no matter what was discussed, against all of her well-wishings and how could yous. She's a sympathizer, yet, she's the one that had direct contact with the kids last… maybe she can say or do something. She caught a ride with a brownrider, settling for a place in the back. Tracking is not her thing, she just wants to ensure the kids aren't hurt in this process.

"It wasn't THAT bad!" Another skinny teen — this one male, and with a completely bruised up face — mutters at Turncloak, shaking his head. "It could've been way worse. Not my fault this time anyhow."

In the camp, the one named Turncloak continues to pace back and forth around that fire while behind her their camp lays in the gathering shadows. For a bunch of kids, they've done well with what little they have. Using much of the natural landscape to their benefit, it certainly is no top-rated camp but comfortable enough — for the summer months. "You KNOW why I have to stay here, Needle!" the girl snaps back irritably at the other. "Good until now! Until you went and scrapped with one of 'em! We should move out. Tonight!" Paranoid, much? She turns on the one they called Deadglow and she glares at the poor boy. "You fell on your face runnin'! How's that not your flubbing it? And not THAT bad? We lost all those supplies and that girl is going to tattle!" she says, tossing her hands up in exasperation. The one other youth, Needle's brother Trundlebug just continues to huddle miserable-like at the fire and VTol just rolls his eyes and mutters something under his breath.

Th'ero turns his head to Kimmila, murmuring something back to the bluerider while giving her a mixed look before staring off ahead. Straightening their shoulders, he takes a steadying breath and then signals for the volunteers to move ahead of them. Guards will flank, offering direction but are otherwise silent. The Weyrleader, along with Kimmila, will keep Jastre and Zaala in front of them, joined by Abigail and K'drozen as back up. "Slow and steady," he cautions in a voice that will carry to them in a hushed whisper. "Lets try not to spook them any worse than they're about to be." No one is looking for a struggle here and the children will not face the brig or any harm. At most they'll be escorted back to the Weyr, fed and clothed and given (guarded) quarters until a talk with the Weyrwoman and other Weyr administration can be arranged.

Needle bristles, shaking her head firmly. "You could wear a disguise. DUH. And move? Moooove?" Whine. "Tonight? But…I just got comfortable! This sucks." Pout.

Kimmila moves forward silently, with a hunter's poise, watching the areas around them. She's not expecting an ambush, is she? Well…maybe she's fearing one just a tad. Doesn't hurt to be cautious, right?

Clumsy, surly (bruised) Deadglow shows no interest in moving. He shows no interest in much, except coming off put-out and annoyed. "Isn't like everyone knows y'face, and I did not create the hole in the ground that made me fall! I wasn't expecting t'get ambushed either —" See, everything, including his smashed up face, is really Zaala's fault. "You gonna help pack up or just tell us we have to move?"

Jastre nods over to the others, and he hears talking. He's definitely learned how to creep quietly, having often needed to keep a low profile while hunting for his next meal. He holds back though, looking to Zaala since she's more the one who has experience here. He'll follow her lead.

Abigail isn't planning on getting into a fight with one of the kids, though she also not going to let one of them throttle her either. Her canine knows to follow commands so she isn't worried that could turn into a problem. At the whisper there is a nod send back, it is understood. She looks back to Zaala and points slightly to try and get the point across that she may need to hang back seeing how the kids did see her before, and it may not be good if the kids see her again. Well one did bite her after all.

Zaala casts a quick look over her shoulder, disapproving that she's being stalked by the more experienced ones, like the Weyrleader. Didn't they see the bite mark that she's sporting! They have the search and rescue training, she doesn't. And masking her movements? Do they think she's a ninja? She does try to be quiet while she steps over the forested ground, but every now and then a dead stick snaps under her foot. After the third twig gives a dry snap, she finally she just gets irritated, gives a huff and scowls back over at the riders following the volunteers, hands clenched at her sides, giving them quite the saucy look. Shoulders snap up and she seems abruptly determined to march right toward the kids… despite the warning gesture from Abigail. Hey, Zaala has a score to settle after all!

Turncloak looks ready to tear into Needlethorn and Deadglow both to judge how flushed her cheeks have become and just the rigid tension in her posture. Before she can open her mouth and begin her furious tirade, VTol is suddenly sitting up and interupting her. "Wanna cram it for a bit, Turncloak?" he snipes at her with a sharp look, which only has the girl huffing and rounding on him with a glare. "Heard something. AND it's gone quiet! Listen." Sure enough, the woods around them are rather quiet. Too quiet. Trundlebug whines low in his throat and begins to scrabble towards his sister. "Wherry?" he says, casting a glance to the others for reassurance. Just a wherry, right? Turncloak has gone silent and still, anger forgotten for a more wary and alert stance. "You're just makin' it up to distract us all 'n scare us." she then says with a dismissive sniff to VTol. "And yeah, I mean move tonight! You probably lead 'em right here with your bleedin' nose, Deadglow!" Annnnnd, back to the argument!

Th'ero is hoping for one outcome but expecting the worst and though he has not brought his sword, he does have his dagger at his hip though it remains locked into its scabbard. Caution never hurts, but time does work against them here too. The volunteers are going first as it will be less a threat than if Guards and dragonriders came bursting forth. Might not work in the end, but it is worth the shot… At the snapping twigs, the Weyrleader grimaces and winces for each one and it's no doubt that poor Zaala gets a warning look from a few of the Guards but nothing can be done about it. Then, at last, the camp is in view and visible by the fire through the trees. From their angle, they can discern the shapes of most of the youths, but a few remain partially hidden. Signalling a brief halt, Th'ero then beckons everyone into a loose huddle. "You two," he says in a hushed voice, nodding to Jastre and Zaala. "Will go ahead of us. Announce yourselves and then try to get them to surrender. We'll move in behind you but stay on the edges. No sense having them panic… but if any of them become too agitated just back down. Understood?"

Needle stands swiftly, slipping her arm around Trundlebug and pulling him tight against her side. Protectively, as she stares at the woods. "Shut up, Turncloak! It is too quiet. We should go…" she whispers. "Go hide…" They have hiding spots, right?

Kimmila continues to scan the area around them, particularly up into the trees as they move forward. "Be careful," she adds to Th'ero's brief briefing of Jastre and Zaala. "Make sure they know you're unarmed."

Zaala gives Jastre a quick look, as if with that one hard look, she's taking charge of the situation when they're given instructions to go in and get a surrender. There's a moment where she drags her hair over her shoulder, braided today, and gives it a stern tug, agitated by the situation and wanting it over with. Finally, maybe with the consent to go stalking forward into the kid's camp, she flips her braid over her shoulder and nods, "Sure. It'll be easy…" she rolls her eyes and ends up peering at her arm, bandaged with the bite mark covered. "Come on cowboy," she notes to Jastre, grabbing his arm and half tugging him along if he doesn't slip away from her before that!

Jastre turns his head slightly to listen to the instructions, then glances at Zaala. Yeah, he's unarmed beyond a small knife he uses for eating with, and its purpose is not to cut any humans. And then she's grabbing him and dragging him forward and he stumbles a few feet in surprise before he regains himself, allowing her to drag him forward. Well guess they'll be found out now, and he squares his shoulders, striding forward. Still making less noise than her, does she even know how to be quiet? Oh well, whatever. He then turns his full attention to the camp and the ones in it. Discovery in 3….2….1….

Deadglow, at least, has hiding spots. About a thousand of then. Just in case. "Hey, I stopped that bleeding just fine," he half-grumbles, half-sighs. It's not really hostility, so much as tension; if they actually hated one another they'd have long since stopped being attacked. "Weyrs've got good trackers anyhow. Nothing we can do about it —"

Abigail glances to Th'ero as he says Zaala is to go in and speak with the children first. Because that worked so well last time. She ponders this thought and peers at Zaala hearing her comment, it makes her smirk and a slight shake of her head is seen. "I'm going to move off to the side in case one of 'em makes a run for it." This is murmured with a soft tone to the ones left in the little huddle once the information is passed along. Unless stopped she moves off and reaches a point where she crouches down. She can still see what is going on and can jump in if needs be. The canine with her moves along a few more steps before settling down waiting for any commands.

At this point it's unlikely that Zaala cares to be quiet. She's announcing her presence as soon as they're breaking through the undergrowth and appearing at the kid's doorstep, sort to speak. "This -time- you're all going to stay put and not -run-…" a scowl on her face as she lets her arm slide out of Jastre's, having linked them together as if they were going for a dance once he started to walk with her. Zaala puts her hands on her hips, "You kids shouldn't be out here, you know that? You should be warm and snug in the Weyr. And not biting people," a directed eye on Needlethorn, oh yes, she knows which girl chewed on her.

Jastre sighs faintly, pulling away from her and holding his arms loose at his side. "Come on, now, I promise none of you will be hurt if you come quietly. The Weyr is a safe place for everyone, there's no need to worry." he smiles in what he hopes is a disarming manner. Zaala's words draw a slight raised eyebrow as he glances quickly towards her, but keeps most of his attention on the kids. And poised to run in case they mousehole.

Th'ero nods his head in agreement to Kimmila's addition to his briefing to the volunteers and smirks. "Do be careful, yes." he murmurs, though he suspects they all know better than to pull any heroics. Who knows what the Weyrleader is thinking or why THIS, of all plans, was the one chosen. Too late to turn back now and taking another slow breath, he turns to glance sidelong to his blueriding weyrmate. "Ready?" he murmurs, only to peer over to Abigail and gesture for her to go on. "Sound idea." he agrees. "You take the one side, K'drozen can cover the other. Kimmila and I will spread out here and I will send the Guards around to complete the circle. If any escape, those of us with firelizards will send them to chase and mark." Satisfied that all has been covered, Th'ero then signals for everyone to move forwards and into place. Time for this to end…

… And way to foreshadow their doom! Thank you, Deadglow. "They don't know our hiding spots though!" Trundlebug goes on to mutter, his voice now flat and monotone again as he stares at Deadglow from around his sister's side. VTol has pushed to his feet, the stick he was using earlier to idly jab at the fire now held in his hand and brandished in sharp, irritated points towards Turncloak. "Scrap the stupid idea about moving. I'm with Needle here! We need to bolt and do it now. Something ain't right!" he insists and then sure enough, as if SUMMONED, there is Zaala just breaking through the undergrowth with her announcement. So startled is the boy that he can only stare at her, mouth dropped open while Trundlebug begins to sputter and wriggle against Needle's side. Turncloak however steps forwards, chin up and defiant but wary, almost fearful. Her eyes lock on to Zaala, studying her before glancing beyond to the trees, suspicious. "Who in Faranth's name are you? What ARE you doing here? And we go where we please!" Now Jastre is joining and Turncloak turns her glare to him next, while VTol steps forwards now to join her though HE looks ready to run at the first chance he gets. Neither of them look sold at all on the assurances given them. So much for easy?

Kimmila crouches down a bit, a hand on her dagger as she finds a spot to watch and listen.

Needle rolls her eyes and stiffens, about to argue…and then her chew toy is back! With another one. Rawr. The girl shoves her brother behind her, pushing him back in a silent 'run, now' motion. She stays where she is for the moment, rooted to the spot.

Abigail lifts her head as she watches the group, she glances towards the canine, a soft whistle escaping her before another. The canine is up and moving in a low crouch towards another position. If one of the children runs the canine will be there to greet them it seems, and perhaps startle them enough to leave them backing up instead of actually running. With that done Abbey looks back towards what is going on with Zaala, Jastre and the kids. That movement from the girl does catch her attention, and she waits to see if the boy is going to run or not.

Deadglow, too, stands up — and, first, of course, looks annoyed. He's just as PISSED as Turncloak, though. "I don't think you own us," he says coldly, moving toward the others in a slow motion; couple of steps at a time, looking sort of like a cat trapped in a corner. He's not bolting alone, but he's not going to put up a fight by himself, either.

Zaala's first attempt wasn't really bent on reassurances, her tone was biting and irritable. She sees the reaction she's caused by waltzing into their camp like it was such an easy task, suddenly prompted to roll her eyes at the defiant Turncloak. "I'm Zaala, the girl that your Needle bit," her eyes pivoting again over toward the said girl, only to revert back to the girl who was boasting her leadership of the group loud and clear by standing up for them. "If your trio of kids just heard me out, you'd have that trunk full of supplies instead of being out here whimpering about it. I would've given it to you and helped you all out." Her tone is settling, not so heated, but more compassionate, with the help of Jastre offering his more warm approach, "I don't appreciate being biten, it's like, you give a dog a bone and he bites you, that's what I felt like. So I took the bone back. We're here to find you of cousre." Even though it wasn't hers to give. She tilts out her hip, hand upon it, "It sure seems like you go where you please, being all sneaky like, a lot of good that'll do you. The big knots, the adults, they don't like that, you know. They're here too, by the way," she tosses her head over her shoulder, toward the shadows of the trees, "But I told them we'd talk to you first, because old people just don't get it sometimes." A sudden snap toward Needle, "I wouldn't run if I were you. It's better if you come with us. They'll sack you and tie you up by your ankles if you run. At least if you came out with us, they promised to let me help you out, get warm food into your bellies, give you a bed and pillow to sleep on, take you somewhere warm and not so…dirty." She looks toward Deadglow, maybe to stop him in his tracks, "I'm sorry about your nose, you had me worried… Does it hurt?"

"I'm new to the Weyr myself, and have nothing to complain about the way I've been treated." Jastre continues coaxingly. "There's no need to steal from the Weyr, they're all friendly, decent folk." another glance at Zaala, and he mentally adds 'mostly' since she seemed to not have had the best encounter with them already. Needle is the one he's addressing mostly, though he glances towards the other kids to make sure they know he's addressing all of them. "And I'm Jastre, by the way." he adds. "Come with us, and you can get some warm food and a place to sleep that's most definitely more comfortable than roughing it out in the woods, I know this firsthand. I've had to sleep in worse places than this. You did a good job with your camp so far, but what do you plan to do when it gets colder? But at any rate, a bed is loads more comfortable than anything you can make out here. I promise, you won't be hurt at all if you come with us. The worst you'd get is a talking to, and that never hurt anyone." he holds his hands out to them, empty. See? Not armed at all.

It's quite the stand off now in the little camp, with Turncloak acting EXACTLY like she owns the group or leads them (when that never was the case) by stepping up in front of them like some sort of shield. At least that part is somewhat noble of her? Or at least shows she cares… somewhat. She only scowls at Zaala, brows kitting as she tries to sort out this strange girl. "So you sayin' you're on our side? Wantin' to join us?" Wait… what? Did something get misunderstood there? Probably, but she'll realize her mistake next and huff, smirking and tossing her head haughtily as her eyes roll to Jastre. "I already LIVED in the Weyr and found nothing agreeable about it and they did not find ME agreeable and so I was shipped off to the nearest Hold that'd take me. Weyr didn't care about this lot either, so what's changed their tune now? Eh?" A sharp look is given to Needle then, as well as the rest of the group. "Don't listen to her!" Turncloak hisses angrily and VTol starts a bit, shifting uneasily on his feet with that stick still brandished in one hand. His eyes dart from Turncloak to the others and then to Zaala and Jastre and despite the girl acting like she owns them all, he calls out. "So who else is there and why the hidin'? Layin' traps?" Trundlebug whines from behind Needlethorn, clutching at her tunic as he peers out at the two strangers. HE looks ready to just amble right over. Food? Warmth? Comfort? SOLD. But he won't go alone. "He's got a point. Gonna get cold… And I don't wanna be sacked." That just doesn't sound pleasant, AT ALL.

Th'ero hasn't crouched, though he holds himself at a ready stance to either move forwards or lunge after an escapee. The Weyrleader is by the trunk of a tree, mostly obscured by shadow and his eyes watching the situation with rapt attention, wavering only to check on the position of Abigail and the others. Close enough to hear the exchange, it's one voice in particular that suddenly has him blinking in disbelief and looking down at Kimmila to whisper sharply. "I recognize that one girl's voice but… It can't be?"

Needle shakes her head firmly. "Wasn't listening!" she snaps back at Turncloak, before glaring at Zaala. The enemy of my enemy is my friend? Temporary truce, then, with Turncloak. "You're not gonna be sacked," she whispers to her brother behind her, voice actually gentle and reassuring. "And you know what we're going to do when it gets cold. We'll be fine, I promise. I won't let them hurt you." And she's back to glaring at Zaala and Jastre. "Why should we trust anyone?" she demands.

Kimmila shifts over to Th'ero after making sure a suspicious looking outcrop is clear, and she rises to stand beside him with a frown. "Who?" she whispers, not quite placing the voice yet.

Abigail watches as the scene unfolds, so far so good, and the only weapon that she has caught sight of is that well-made stick in one of the kids hands. She'll wait still, listening in on the conversation that is going on, along with watching the area from time to time. Always possible there is more than just kids out here right? Her canine stays put, ears perking forward though he won't move until the right command is given. Whatever is to be done if the kids give up, or if one does run off Abbey will be there to lend a hand, though right now back to listening to this good guard bad guard routine that Zaala and Jastre seem to doing.

Deadglow continues his silent streak, for the most part; irritable, but putting on a face as if he's listening. It's actually the canine that has more of his attention than anything else; he is waiting, anyway, for an answer to Needlethorn's question.

Zaala looks plainly at Needle, "Why shouldn't you? What happened to chase you away from the Weyr? Did someone hurt you, cause I'll knick them good," her tone is still edgy, but not in the way that it's directed at the group anymore. Still, she does seem perplexed by the idea of them not liking the Weyr, "I know the work can suck sometimes, it's… not glamourous to wash tables or scrub floors, but you don't have to shiver out here, plotting how you're going to get your next meal. You can't have much to last you beyond the next couple days, otherwise you wouldn't have risked going into the tunnels to find supplies…" She huffs, generally frustrated with the situation, "Look, a dragonrider's job is to protect people. YOU are people. They want to protect you, I want to protect you. That's how it is in the Weyr, we're all one big family and if someone gave you guys a bit of trouble, it's easy enough to fix." She slides her eyes back to Turncloak, "I don't know why it didn't work for you in the Weyr. It's not easy sometimes to not know where your life is headed and whose going to be there at your side. But everyone in the Weyrs tend to care about one another. Sure, there's the jerks, but you'll get that anywhere and you just need to know where to kick them generally." She smirks, finally, shaking her head, "There is no reason to trust us," she admits with hands splayed out before her, "However, I believe in having a chance to choose… choose something better than this, out here… It's so lonely out here." She looks around, "You have all the opportunity in the world, because you're all young. If you go on like this, you won't have that chance to choose a better life and you'll be stuck running all the time… Is that what you want?"

"If dragonriders weren't trustworthy, they could've just flamed the forest here where you are. But dragonriders would never do such a thing, everyone knows that. Riders aren't murderers, no dragon would choose someone who was less than scrupulous." Jastre nods at that firmly to back up his words. "Instead, they sent us to try and resolve this nonviolently, to show they mean you no harm. If anything, you can trust dragons, yes? Protectors of Pern." he smiles at them. Dragons are cool, right? "Always running is no fun at all. On the subject of trust, no one would trust you if you're always hiding and stealing, and there would be people who WOULD hunt you down if you stay at this for very long. I'm a traveler by choice, and people even sometimes regard me suspiciously simply because I don't like to stay in one place for too long. But if you have somewhere you can call home, there would be no need for that. As for earning your keep in the Weyr, or wherever you end up staying, all you need to do is find something you like. No one's limited to one thing, you can choose what you want to do and learn how to do it properly, with training. No one's forced to do what others want them to do." Jastre is trying to wear them down with a wall of words too it seems.

The Guard Captain certainly lucked out with his choice of volunteers! Both Zaala's and Jastre's words are sinking in, even if most of the looks being directed their way remain suspicious. Trundlebug, the youngest, is convinced but he remains fixed to his sister's side. He'd abandon the others without question but so long as his sibling remains on THIS side, he will not cross. But he does tug on her tunic again. "Sis… I dunno. Are we going to be safe with the cold coming? He's got a point." Cue a jerk of his head towards Jastre as he mumbles flatly to Needlethorn. "If they'd want to hurt us, they'd've done it. We'd all be toast by now. It'd be… nice to be protected." Not to mention have a family either. Poor kid certainly seemed to brighten a bit at that. VTol is even reluctantly backing down, the tension easing from his posture and that stick of his lowering as he peers between the two and then scowls, looking troubled. "And what if we want to leave?" he calls to them, which earns a heated glare from Turncloak, who now looks flighty and her expression twisted and conflicted. Zaala once again becomes a target of her focus and the girl snaps angrily, "They're the reason I have no family! They want to protect us now? I don't believe that for a second. At all!" Yet is she the only one who believes it? Two of her "companions" are already on the verge of surrendering, after all. Only two more remain…

Th'ero frowns heavily as he continues to hold watch and listen, glancing briefly to Kimmila when she steps over to join him. Then it dawns on him and the Weyrleader swears under his breath. "Laurali. Shard it all, the one girl is Laurali!" he tells her in a low whisper. "But… how?"

And Deadglow? He's just being challenging, as usual — what comes out of his mouth is a quiet, "How d'you know? Dragons choose all kinds've people. I mean, I've seen dragonriders be awful stupid mean people! And criminals. It takes all kinds." He sounds really wise but probably has no idea the depth of 'it takes all kinds.' He heard someone say it. "Can't say all dragonriders are good. There are dragonriders who aren't good."

K'drozen remains hidden just to the far side of the encampment, his eyes fixed on the youngsters and thoses that have gone in to negotiate with them, remaining silent as he watches.

"Can you promise we'll be safe?" Needle suddenly asks, glancing back at her brother and then to the others. "You swear." Then she frowns at Turncloak. "There's a reason you're called Turncloak, Turncloak," she snaps. "And I'm tired of you bossing us around. I remember what I saw in those stores. Clothes…nice ones..and food.

Kimmila blinks, eyes widening in alarm. "Are you sure? But…wasn't she…where was she sent?" She lost track of the kid. Whoops?

Zaala regards Turncloak more squarely than before, "What do you mean?…." and slowly it starts to sink in for the blonde, "Your… were you a part of the…those who were kept in the camp?" She looks down, ashamed, "Adults can be stupid sometimes," is her retort as she levels her gaze on Turncloak, "If your parents were involved in all that … they were stupid too. But you don't have to make the same choice as they did. You can make a different one. It -doesn't- have to be here either… If you want to leave, they'll help you. They'll make sure you have what you need and even -take- you where you want to go. But they won't abandon you in the wild. I can promise you that." There's a look over at Needle, Zaala's face softening, "I promise you… Look, I want you kids to have a chance at something, before it's too late. Before you become an adult and things get serious and choices you make become… fatal." Her attention swings to Turncloak, "I'm sorry for what happened, for whatever loss you had… for what happened to your family, but it wasn't your fault. You had no choice, you were just brought along, because you're a kid, like me. But you don't have to do what they did to live and be happy." Now this is making Zaala upset, "I wish your family and my family would've realized before anything bad happened… that we're all the same. We all bleed, we all feel, we all cry and hurt, but we all laugh too, we all smile and hope and dream." A general question to all of them, "Do you dream of this?" her arms wide to extend to the forest, "Do you dream of just… surviving, or do you want to eat sweet things and wear pretty clothes and make more friends?"

Jastre shrugs at the question. "I see no reason why they would force you to stay, though it'd be in your best interests to do so until you're able to travel on your own. Learn some things, like how to REALLY take care of yourselves. And if you need a promise…." Jastre glances slightly to the side, and takes a deep breath. "I can personally promise you'll be safe. I swear on the golden egg of Faranth." he has faith that they wouldn't be hurt, so he has no qualms in making such a promise. "Come on, now. Let's all go to the Weyr together." he holds his hand out to them. He has no idea what happened, but he's sure it'd all work out okay…. right?

Deadglow — looks anxious. Conflicted. He does take a single step toward Jastre, after exchanging glances with Needlethorn; but he doesn't want to leave Turncloak. Laurali. Her. "It's not cold," he tries to encourage.

Some of those speeches may be laid on a little too sweetly, as VTol is scoffing and rolling his eyes to Zaala's choice of words, though none are truly directed to him. Not entirely anyways. His past his a mystery, but he's no doubt bound in a similar fashion that Turncloak is. Something has the young boy lingering though and not storming off through the woods (and then caught by those waiting there) and it's Jastre who convinces him, once Turncloak's continued behavior almost appears to disgust him. "Don't think I trust you guys with your fancy words and all. Still could be empty promises and I'm not shardin' being played a fool again." he mutters, dropping the stick and without hardly a glance back he steps forwards to join Zaala and Jastre, though keeps considerable distance between them. No hand is taken, only eyed suspiciously before he's turning to see who else from the group joins him. Trundlebug is pulling impatiently at his sister now, but he has gone silent in trying to convince her and distracted further by Deadglow's challenging remarks, eyes widening for the other boy's claims. Woah! Turncloak laughs, mocking and sarcastic as she narrows her eyes at Zaala, lips curved into a grim smirk. "No, I was before that and it's none of your business WHAT happened. Say all you want, it ain't going to change nothing! And my da wasn't STUPID! He just did what he had to do to keep us alive and he chose wrong! But he tried to make it right and it wasn't enough!" she exclaims, only to round on Needle again. "So go then!" Turncloak all but yells at her, even gesturing threateningly as her temper gets the best of her. Could be to she is actually truly stung that they're all crossing over. "Go on and run to them! See how long their sweet words and promises last!" Now only Deadglow remains and she is instantly shuffling closer to his side despite having chewed him out earlier for his clumsiness.

Th'ero mutters more under his breath, shifting uneasily where he stands by the tree and signals to the other Wingriders and Guards to remain in position. Now that it seems their tactic is working, he doesn't want it all going to waste by some hasty action. Even if all this waiting is wearing down on his patience. "Some cothold east of here. We hadn't heard anything…" he tells Kimmila. Looks like several people dropped the ball on that case. Go them?

Needle frowns at the teens, shaking her head a bit. "I don't need some…inspirational talk," she says with a snort. "But I want my brother safe. He deserves better than this. It's not for me, it's for him." But if she gets nice things in the process, well. Why not? She glances at Turncloak and flinches a bit. "Turny…" Nickname of a nickname? "Come on. At least we'd still be together…" Even as she's letting her brother pull her over to the others.

"Should we say something?" Kimmila hisses at Th'ero. "I wonder what happened to her. Shards, we tried to find the best place for her…"

Zaala seems pretty well spent of words, "It your lives. Your choice. Spit fire all you want or do something with the fire in you." She shrugs, seemingly bowing down to Jastre, who seems to have reached the kids in a way she couldn't. Her eyes look back over toward the trees, then back to the kids, arms folding across her chest, looking like an impatient mother or something, "Look, if you don't like it, you can leave, like, what Jastre said, once you learn how to make it on your own and after you learned to make better choices." Her eyes fall back toward Turncloak, shrugging pointedly, "Then if it's not my business, you can't use what happened to blame anyone of anything."

"There's no way you two would be split up either." Jastre adds firmly to Needle. "I promise that too. Now how about you come with us, then? Get a nice, warm meal, maybe a change of clothes…. a bath." they mostly look old enough to not object to that last thing. He keeps his hand out to them, though not quite expecting any to actually take it.

K'drozen eyes flick up and around to the other ridres about and nods at Th'eros signal to hold, remaining still and quiet as he watches the youngster queitly, keeping a close tabs on there actions towards Zaala and Jastre.

"Keep us all together?" Deadglow presses, though he takes a careful — non-falling — step slowly toward Jastre and Zaala. "That's important. Warm and food and staying together. And nobody's gonna expect us to clean latrines all the time or hurt our families or anything." Boy has a strange sense of priorities, but, fair.

Trundlebug scrunches up his face a bit when Needlethorn goes on about protecting him and he mutters flatly. "I can take care of myself!" No he can't. Which is why he's tugging his sister along to join VTol on the 'other side', casting an untrusting look towards both Zaala and Jastre but liking what options lay with THEM more than what could have been if they remained here. Turncloak only looks away, arms folding stubbornly over her chest as she seems bound and determined to remain where she is no matter what either of the volunteers have to say. Not that she isn't tempted. She HAS had a taste of what that life is and could be hers again. Something has her determined to fight it out, but her resolve wavers when more of her companions turn over. She only looks at Needle with eyes that seem to plead and then she turns to Deadglow. He'll stay with her, won't he? Apparently not, as he's stepping over too.

Th'ero shakes his head, grimacing. "I'm not sure." he replies, though it's hard to say which of Kimmila's questions he is answering. "But it needs to end…" Reaching out, he gently touches the arm to warn her that he's about to set things in motion again. Straightening, he gestures for the others to step out of the cloak of the forests but only so that they are visible and no further. The Weyrleader stands now on the edge of the clearing, trying not to look all that intimidating and… failing. Maybe HE should have stayed back. "Laurali!" he calls out in a firm but gentle tone and Turncloak is turning to look at him, startled to hear her name. "Let it end. Come back with them and we'll talk. Nothing more."

"Come on, Turncloak," Needle says, her voice shifting into more childish, more pleading. More normal, for a girl her age. Arm around Trundlebug, she hugs him tightly to her side. "Let's go…"

Kimmila rises when Th'ero does, but the bluerider says nothing. She just looks at the girl with confusion and concern in her gaze.

Jastre nods at Deadglow. "I don't see any reason why they should split you up aside from boys and girls in different rooms for sleeping. But even then I don't think it'd be far away from each other." he looks relieved as most of them come over, taking a deep breath, then looks at the last one. "It'll be ok. No one's going to hurt you."

Needle stiffens at that. "I'm staying with my brother."

Seeing Th'ero stand K'drozen stands at the far side of the camp, revealing his presence as well. The large brown rider does not speak, he just watches and waits.

"You want to sleep together?" Jastre sounds surprised. "Well ok, if you want."

Trundlebug clings all the more fiercely to his sister. "And I don't go anywhere without her. Or them." He juts his head to Deadglow and VTol. Turncloak he doesn't seem to care at all whether she stays or go. "They'll make exceptions." he states flatly in his usual monotone way but his eyes flash with a rebellious confidence. Maybe he's beginning to see a certain upside to this?

As for Turncloak — or Laurali as she's been ratted out — she only looks furious and at a complete loss. Her eyes widen when she realizes it's the Weyrleader there, her gaze darting to Kimmila next, then K'drozen and the other riders and Guards present. And though her chin remains held up, her shoulders drop and it's as much of her signal of defeat that they'll ever get. "I'm only going cause you give me no choice!" she tells them all defiantly, though weak at best. Truthfully she's a smart girl and knows when the battle is lost. None of these kids are bad, just very confused and lost and in need of some guidance. Not to say that that will keep them from stirring up trouble again, but time will tell! For now though, Jastre and Zaala have managed to convince all five to surrender and Th'ero only sighs in relief. "Lets head home, back to the Weyr. Before it gets any darker…" he says, lifting his voice up so all can hear. Signalling to the riders and Guards still on the outskirts, he'll have them form a loose circle around the group as they all begin to trudge back towards the ruins, with Th'ero and Kimmila taking up the rear. When he is not focused on the group of children ahead of them, he's whispering to the bluerider even as they step back into the tunnels leading into the Weyr. There they will all split ways, with the children being given over to the Headwoman and her staff to be fed, clothed and bathed, then given appropriate co-ed quarters, even if it means they all bunk in one room. Easier to keep under guard, in any case!


'The World of Pern(tm)' and 'The Dragonriders of Pern(r)' are copyright to Anne McCaffrey (c) l967, 2000. This is a recorded online session, by permission of the author but generated on PernWorld MUSH for the benefit of people unable to attend.