Fort Weyr - Living Caverns
This cavern, having been created by bubbles in the volcanic flow of this extinct volcano, has a breathtaking ceiling — a vast dome that arches high above the heads of the weyrfolk that scurry around beneath it. A hollow echo can be heard from loud enough noises, and the chatterings of various firelizards are consequently multiplied into a chaotic babble. All in all, the living cavern is a loud place.
Tables are scattered around the room, apparently in no particular order. Over to one side near the kitchens, two medium sized serving tables are constantly spread with snacks, klah, and other goodies. The tables look worn, yet perfectly fitted to the atmosphere of the caverns. In the 'corners' of the cavern, smaller two and four place tables are set up for more private talks or just a less chaotic atmosphere in which to eat.

It's still morning, nearing on noontime, and the weather outside is kind of unpleasant. Not as unpleasant as it's *going* to be in a few hours, when the hail begins, but… muggy and promising of thunderstorms. It's nasty enough that Polsie, coming in on break from the gardens, is sweaty and disheveled, and none too happy about it, either. The reason for her break is evident: there's a tiny brown clinging to one arm, giving languid (but high pitched and loud) creels. "Yeah, yeah, hold your runners, lemme just see what meat's available…"

Xandis doesn't look all that much better off than Polsie - though his dampness has nothing to do with the weather, and everything has to do with the fact that he's been in the lake, helping wash dragons as needed. Fingers wrinkly, hair hangs damply, he trudges across the caverns, making a wide berth around the screeching brown and his person, looking for something to eat before the rush.

Alzanbri can't seem…to stop jogging. Floppy-haired and sweating profusely, the lad comes clomping into the living caverns and heads /straight/ for the refreshments table. People part before him (likely not wanting the icky Candidate to touch them) and Zan kind of /zooms/ to the front of the line and grabs a mug of iced fruit juice. Then another. Then another. Finally, he grabs a massive-sized mug of Klah and stumbles away from the line, blinking blearily towards his fellow Candidates and lifting a hand in mute greeting.

Alas for Xandis, the screeching brown and his person don't seem to be interested in giving *him* a wide berth. Polsie edges closer, smiling apologetically at the other Candidate. "Hey, sorry - kinda gotta get at that platter over there…" The platter in question, just barely out of arms length where she standing, is covered with the remains of a roast, tasty scraps just perfect for a small lizard. While she waits for him to move, she nods amiably at Alzanbri, unperturbed by his grossness. She's gross, too. They are all gross… together.

Xandis allows the hurried candidate to slip infront of him, his own attempt to grab lunch halted as he stares at the younger boy in bewilderment. "Shards, kid, you're going to make yourself sick." He mutters, shaking his head a little, his own food gathering interrupted by Polsie needing to be exactly where he is, glancing over at the platter, then at the tiny lizard, and then at the platter again before inclining his head and stepping back with a slight flourish of his hand. "Anything to get him to be quiet." Of course, that leaves him to reach around people to get his own meal - but that'll do.

"Not gonna get sick," Zan pants towards Xandis and grins Polsie-wards, then goes about chugging his Klah down like it's going to save him from some immediate doom. "Shardin' laps around the bowl aren't doin' sharding nothin' for my fitness. Don't know what them idiots are thinkin'." Apparently, irritation brings back out the ol' country boy in usually well-spoken Alzanbri, who scowls and shakes his head absently. Finishing the Klah, he slams the mug down in its' proper bin and waves briefly. "Try th'hearts for the little guy. Nobody else eats 'em and they love them." The boy shouts over his shoulder as he jogs back outside, apparently to resume his laps.

"I'm surprised he's still hungry," Polsie tells Xandis, smiling gratefully as she darts forward to scoop up a handful of meat. "He's been grubbing for crawlies in the garden all morning, you'd think he'd be stuffed already." And yet, red, whirling eyes and a slow, steady screech. Mercifully, it cuts off the moment a scrap is offered; the little brown ambles lazily up her arm to grab it, then calmly lets himself swing upside down on her sleeve, naught but a slight tightening of his claws to indicate he's even noticed. Polsie rolls her eyes, then smiles brightly at the older boy. "Sorry for the interruption! All yours." She gestures with her free hand to the table, in a mimicry of his flourish.

"Who? Zan, or.." And Xandis jabs a finger at the little, now upside down, grinning a bit. "Him?" As the table is freed, Xandis wastes no more time in putting together a plate of his own, sandwiches made from platters than still bear more than the one being picked at by Polsie and her pet. Turning back, he watches Alzanbri leave, before glancing at the younger girl, belatedly remembering his manners. "I… Do you want anything?" He asks.

"Hah, no, if there's anyone in our candidate group who would be grubbing for crawlies for breakfast, it'd be Aamanz, don't you think?" Polsie smirks ever-so-slightly. A lazy chirp on the underside of her sleeve indicates the firelizard has finished his nibble and wants more, and his owner dutifully supplies. "No, but thanks. Don't want to blow my chance to get another break later on, assuming the gardener's so kind." Her head tilts slightly to the side as she examines him. "I don't think I know your name, do I? I'm Polsie. Smithcraft by way of Bitra."

"Well, it certainly wouldn't be -me-. There are far better things to go digging for than crawlies." Xandis snorts dismissively, shaking his head and shrugging as she declines his offer of food, letting no more time pass before he's taking a bite of his sandwich as she talks. Once his mouth is clear enough to allow him, he smirks and nods his head. "I know." He straightens a little then, lifting his chin. "Xandis, cousin to the Lord Holder of Crom.." Of course, there's no need to mention the removes and the twice and thrices of that relationship.

Another candidate has quietly been creeping to the two at the table. Spying her chance, the woman plops her plate down, one filled with naught but bubblies and smiles. "Miki! Nanny. Caretaker of the monsters down below. And tunnelsnake attacker." Yeah, this one was certainly impudent. But she does have manners, however belated, "Mind if I join you two?" She's lucky enough to catch the tail end of their conversation, "Eww, crawlies. I'll send Baru to smoosh them."

"Oh!" Polsie is gratifyingly impressed, dark eyes widening and smile broadening. "Didn't know we had someone Blooded here! That's exciting." The little brown lets off another languid chirp, and another scrap is offered, without Polsie looking away from Xandis. "Were you Searched from Crom? 'Cause that's bound to Telgar, isn't it?" Polsie: skilled at geography. Miki's arrival merits a warm smile. "Join away. How're you?"

"Tunnelsnake attacker?" Xandis asks with a long, curious look at Miki, various thoughts running through his head as he considers the older of the two young women there. Then, however, Polsie's impressed reaction is dragging his attention back, and he's straightening up a little, shaking his head. Clearing his throat, he shakes his head after a moment. "From here.. I'm, uh… Broadening my horizons." He finally manages, taking another bite of his sandwich as if it may forestall any more questions.

"Oh-ho, Blooded eh? You're much nicer than the other Blooded I've known. Usually they just dump their kids on me and leave." Which does not maker Miki happy in the least. "Telgar..Crom. I was at Telgar for a turn or so, but I honestly don't know the first thing about the land layouts." She'll let Polsie be the geography expert. "But yeah, I'm good. Optional chores today so I've just been in the nursery." At Xandis' reaction she giggles. Maybe she should make that her official position. "Aamanz, Polsie and I had a run in with a tunnelsnake the other night. I ran at it with my knife!" The nanny seems really proud for this, any person that's as short as she is probably would be.

"Huh." Polsie gives Xandis a slightly puzzled look, then shakes it off and smiles broadly. "Well, good for you, then! I'm sure Lord Zolaek must be real proud of you, being Searched and all." She gives the older boy a long, inscrutable look, then abruptly turns her attention to Miki, wincing as the talk turns to tunnelsnakes. "I still can't believe I had that thing in my *hands* and I didn't even know." An exaggerated shudder. "I *hate* those things."

"Well, I.." And Xandis clears this throat a little, murmuring something along the lines of 'I'm sure he is.' Thankfully, the scrutiny has shifted away from him and on to Miki and her tunnelsnake tale, the young man clearing his throat again. "I bet it was more scared of you than you were of it.." He tries the age-old line, lips curling into a smirk as Polsie shudders.

Miki smiles and pats the girls shoulder. "Don't worry, Fort seems pretty much free of such things. And I don't think they'll make us go back down there again. Sides, I got Baru to protect us. I can make him patrol the barracks if you want." As if on cue, a brown firelizard pops out into the air above them, making a menacing hiss and swinging his head around. Dangerous objects? Where? Where? Where? The nanny frowns up at the lizard, pulling him down to the table by his tail. "Not now Baru. Later."

Tiny Torpor, clinging upside-down to Polsie's sleeve, gives a slow chirp of welcome to the incoming Baru - or is it a request for more food? Polsie plays it safe and offers, the little brown lazily accepting. "Doesn't mean I gotta like 'em. They just… creep me out. With the legs and the eyes and," Polsie raises her hand and imitates tunnelsnake fangs with two fingers over her open mouth, "*fangs*." She glances back at Xandis, that inscrutable look crossing over her face for a moment, soon replaced by a certain skepticism. "*I'm* not the one with fangs. Though I was the one who brained it against a box," she concedes.

An instinctual duck as something blinks into being over their heads, and Xandis sheepishly straightens up, the hand on his head nonchalantly running through his still damp hair as he looks oh so calmly at the girls. Polsie's imitation, however, breaks his mask and he dissolves into laughter, shaking his head. "Are you sure?"

Miki laughs and takes a bite of one of the bubblies, leaning back in her chair. "Oh yeah, that girl has one heck of an arm. The thing was practically seeing stars. Kind of have to feel sorry for it." Well, at least Miki would since no one else was. Baru gives a final red eyed glare to Miki before sniffing curiously at the tiny brown. Why hello little brother. You're the same color as me! "Maybe /you/ should be the tunnelsnake hunter Polsie. You're really effective at such things it seems."

"No fangs here," Polsie tells Xandis, authoritatively. "Just a good throwing arm. Strong Smith muscles, ya know?" (Demonstrated with a flex - she does have a pretty respectable amount of muscle under that chub, apparently.) "… Annnnd since I scream like a little girl and hurl them as far away from me as possible, Miki, I'm *not sure* that's such a swell notion." The girl rolls her eyes, and adds, "Probably would've just brained it a few times against the floor if I'd been thinking about it."

"I… I think I'll leave the two of you to that." Xandis says with a shake of his head, the last bite of his sandwich disappearing into his mouth. "Seems the two of you have it down to a fine art… you make a good team." And, well, better them than him. "But, I need lighter clothes, so, I'll see you girls later.. Hopefully without tunnelsnake brains." He adds on at the end, sparing them both a long look as he escapes towards the barracks before his inevitable return to chores.

Miki waves after the departing Xandis before turning her attention back to the table…and the bubblies. "Man, I was planning on giving /all/ the boy candidates tunnelsnake guts!" She snickers and turns a hasty glance to Polsie. "That was a joke." No need to freak her out. Taking another bite, she waves her fork around in the air, pointing it at the girl. "/You/ take care of the braining," the fork is turned around so that Miki's pointing at herself. "Me and Baru will take care of the gutting." And then her real intentions come to light. "Which means I get to carry my knife around!" Why was it seeming more and more like Miki being a nanny wasn't exactly such a good idea.

"See ya 'round!" Polsie calls after Xandis, before grinning at Miki, eyebrows raised. "I think we were kinda scaring him a little, with all this talk about braining! … And, no, see, I'm not *reliable* at tunnelsnake braining. It was only 'cause the sharding thing was in my hands that I even thought about doing anything!" Shudder. "I think you and Baru'll have to handle this particular task all by your lonesomes." Another lazy chirp from Torpor, but this one is met with Polsie shaking her head and nudging his bloated belly. "Oh no you don't. You're full, sweetie."

Miki sighs dramatically. "A hunter's job, oh so lonesome! At least I've got you Baru." She reaches down to pet the lizard, and he croons a bit. And then suddenly he's shrilling and flapping his wings madly. "Wh-what? What're you talking about, calm down already!" Suddenly Miki's eyes widen and she frowns, jumping up. "Apparently one of the littles just fell, and he's howling up a storm calling for me. The lizards think it might be broken!" The nanny turns around (even leaving the bubblies, GASP!), and waves a hasty goodbye over her shoulder. "See ya later Polsie! Sorry bout all this!"

"Er - goodbye!" Polsie is left blinking in Miki's dust, waving. As the nanny retreats, the girl glances down at Torpor. "S'pose we'd better be heading back to the garden, anyway, huh? If you're really still hungry, you can catch another truddlebug, you little weirdo." Torpor croons amiably, digging his claws harder into her sleeve and letting his eyelids fall closed in sleep. Off the candidate goes - pausing only to snatch up Miki's abandoned bubblies.

'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.