'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.

Fort Weyr - Lower Caverns
This volcanic bubble is smaller than the Living Cavern, but no less well crafted. The walls are smooth, with electric lights placed into niches that used to hold glowbaskets. Another hearth burns here, with a pot on always keeping water hot for making tea or cider. Worn but comfortable couches and chairs are arranged by the hearth around a few tables where game boards and a few packages of dragon poker cards are laying.
From this cavern you can get to many other places - the tunnels of Fort Weyr having been dug far back into the caldera where the Dragons make their home.

Xandis has ridden the wave of exuberance and disappointment already today, and the hour is not much past breakfast - what can that bode for the rest of the day? Pulled from chores by none other than the brownrider who made him a candidate in the first place, Xandis's initial thrill at freedom quickly fizzled as soon as he found out the other half of the deal - he had to share his freedom with none other than the little, red-headed child of said brownrider: Daniela. With the day still young, Xandis is already looking slightly frazzled where he's settled at a table in the lower caverns, the five turn old in a chair next to him, staring at him intently, while he's stammering and blushing, and around for some sort of escape.

Some sadistic sod thought that it would be a fantastic idea to introduce those candidates assigned to 'training' to that most treasured of tortures: the dawn run. So it is that even early as it is, Shakoi is emerging from the bathing caverns, barefoot and shirt unbuttoned, with a towel draped over his shoulders to soak up the water that only grudgingly seeps out of his long dreadlocks. Glancing around the caverns as he passes through, dark eyes land on Xandis and his small companion. The sight of the other young man in such a predicament brings a smile — well, more like a smirk — to the Neratian's face, the expression holding far more cheer than any seen since they all got busted on the platform. "Hey Xan," he just can't resist calling over, "Cute date."

"Least I can get a date.." Xandis replies grumpily at Koi, giving his fellow candidate quite the dirty look, a look that is spotted by Daniela, and after a moment, mirrored by the young girl. However, while the candidate continues to sulk, the girl wastes no time in piping up with a quick question. "Do -you- have a girlfriend? Xandis does!" And of course, that's enough for Dani to earn a long look from said young man, sighing as he sinks down into his seat, reaching into a basket next to him to pull out a stuffed, plushie dolphin which is waved towards his charge - distract, distract, distract…. to no avail.

"Who says I can't?" Shakoi asks, smirk turning into a wide grin under the brunt of those dual scowls. After a moment of consideration, he turns his steps to amble over to the table occupied by fellow candidate and curious child. "Me? Nah," he answers easily, even as he cocks a /look/ at Xandis. Deliberately, he adds, "At least, not just one." Depending on which definition of 'girlfriend' one chooses to use, that is, but he fails to clarify. "Did he happen to tell you his girlfriend's name? Because he's kept it a secret from all of us…." Koi pouts, oh-so-disappointed at not being included in the sharing. Ham.

"Some girls don't count, you know. Like greenriders." Xandis quips quickly, before he's glancing nervously at the girl, should she repeat his words to her own greenrider mother. The girl, however, is momentarily distracted by the appearance of the dolphin, the stuffed firelizard in her hands being settled upon Xandis's shoulder in exchange, looking over her toy to Shakoi. "Melze! He gave her a pretty stone and -everything-." She says with a little bounce, and a gleam in her eyes. "We even helped him look for her!"

Shakoi barks out a sudden, sharp laugh, the 'ha ha's just a little too regular to be genuine. Ignoring Xandis for the moment, he turns all his focus on Daniela, lowering himself into a balanced crouch as he watches the toy-exchange. Awww, so sweet! "Melze?" he asks, brows lifted and eyes widened in false shock. "Really?" Only then does he bother to look the other young man in the eye, clicking his tongue disapprovingly. "Whatever will poor Kiteena think? And after you danced so nicely with her, too," he ribs. Leaning forward a little, he drops his voice as if sharing a great huge secret with the girl-child: "Kit's got a /huge/ crush on Xan here. Turns pink as a spring flower just to look at him."

A frown takes over Xandis's face, brow furrowed, lips curved, looking all together as if he's ready to hit something. Thankfully for him, at least, Daniela's attention is on Shakoi and Shakoi alone. "Uh-huh, Melze." She agrees with a smirk, the dolphin toy held out to the candidate who is now paying attention to her. "Who's Kit?" And she thinks for a moment, before shaking her head with a giggle. "Why don't you like her, then?" Out of the mouths of babes…

Shakoi's jaw is probably looking like a nice target, huh? "Melze is a real sweetheart," he tells Daniela. "A good friend of mine, too. I'm surprised /she/ hasn't said anything about bein' Xan's girl." He gives the other candidate another pointed look, before pretending to be quite impressed by the girl's toy. "Well now, that's a handsome fellow," he risks giving it a gender. "Has he got a name?" As for Kit, "She's a candidate, like us. Came in from Fort Sea. Sweet girl." Brightly, "Yeah Xan, why /don't/ you like her?"

"Not Xandis.. -you-! Why don't you like her?" Dani asks oh so sweetly, leaving Xandis to mutter. "Maybe she doesn't want to get in trouble, being a -candidate-." Xandis's fingers curl around the leg of the toy firelizard on his shoulder pulling the green critter down to regard it carefully, thinking as Dani does the talking. "And -her- name is Bubbles." The girl reaches for the dolphin again, with a frown. "We could play dress up, and then you could be pretty for Kit."

Brows furrow into a puzzled frown, "I never said I didn't like Kit." Trying to figure out where that idea came from would probably take Shakoi all day and then some, so he gives it up as a bad job. "I like her just fine." He rests his elbows on his knees, tilting his head a little as he tries to catch Xandis' mutter, but Daniela's piping voice makes him miss most of it. "Ah, my mistake. I'm quite sorry Bubbles," he apologises to the toy somberly as he relinquishes it back to the girl's possession. He laughs then, a real one this time. "Ah but Kit doesn't care if I'm pretty or not. Xandis now, I'm sure she'd love it if you made him look less like something a litter of canine pups have played with." Serene smile directed at McSulky.

"Then you can have her and you can stay away from Bl-uh.. Mel. Its bad enough that ri-" And then Xandis is shutting up hurriedly, lest he give too much away information. Daniela seems to only hear about the 'I like her just fine' portion of the conversation at that, for she's latching on, hurriedly pulling her feet underneath her to kneel precariously in the chair, bouncing just a little. "We can *all* play dress up." She says excitedly, turning large eyes to the pair of male candidates hopefully.

Shakoi looks up at Xandis again, his expression going unreadable for the outburst. Blandly, "I'd say it's the lady's choice on if I stay away or not." The gauntlet, it hath been thrown. His eyes narrow for the bit that got cut off; he'd dearly love to hear the rest of that, oh yes. But Daniela's antics are capturing his attention again, this time with a swiftly outstretched arm as no doubt he envisions her bouncing right off the edge of the chair and doing herself an injury. "Xandis should get dressed first," he suggests, apparently willing to risk sacrificing his own dignity just to watch the other boy squirm. "I could braid your hair while you pick out what he should wear." Wait, what? He braids hair? How… not butch.

"It doesn't really matter, we're both going to lose to that stupid rider." Xandis comments under his breath in response to Koi, sighing softly and shaking his head. He's moving just as quickly to corral Dani, just in case she looses her balance, a hand moving to her shoulder to brace her. "How about.. How about we make sure *you're* all dressed up, Dani, so you can show off to your parents."

Muttering again! Shakoi risks a squinty-eyed glance at Xandis, looking like he's contemplating shaking him. Or possibly kissing him, it's hard to tell. "What was that?" he asks. The quick counter suggestion has him trying unsuccessfully to hide a smirk, ducking his head down to let his hair fall forward to veil his face. The apples of his cheeks are emphasised with the effort, and he peeks up to see what Daniela's reaction to the new idea will be.

"I don't know…" Daniella consider the options, before hurriedly flouncing around and turning her back to Koi, giving a shake of her head to free her hair. "Braids first.." She decides as she thinks, reaching out for the firelizard - ready to enjoy a game of firelizard and dolphin chase, while she waits. Xandis glances at Shakoi, shaking his head, with a shrug. "There's a guy. And.. That rider." Problems for both of them. "See, isn't this a better idea, Dani?"

Shakoi chuckles, pushing up to stand behind Daniela and reaching for her head. To give himself time to think he smooths his hands over her hair, gently 'brushing' it back. "A lot finer than I'm used too," he says quietly. Raising his voice a little, he compliments to the child, "You have very pretty hair, you know that?" Turning his head a little, he notes dryly to Xandis as he starts to segment red locks, "Lot of guys here, mate. Lot of riders too."

"Lots of guys…" He agrees with a little sigh, wrinkling his nose as he looks over his shoulder at the others gathered in the lower caverns. "I know!" Dani replies perkily to Shakoi, before she's turning to follow Xandis's gaze, a little squeal given as the toys are abandoned and she goes flying off the chair and across the room after a form disappearing down the hallway. "I, uh.." And Xandis glances after her, and without a word of apology, is grabbing the toys and taking off after her.

"Woah!" Shakoi snatches his hands back to avoid yanking Dani's hair as she goes rocketing off, looking startled. "Kids," he says with a shrug, grinning toothily at Xandis as he steps back. Not his charge, not his problem. And while he may have lost out on the opportunity to see his rival forced into pink frills, or something else equally unmasculine, at least he's managed to escape joining him in that fate! Whistling a jaunty tune, he pulls his towel off his shoulders and heads off to go on about his day.