Fort Weyr - Training Complex
The remnants of a historic collapse are apparent here, as the slope face of the bowl has a predominant downward curvature. It's likely long ago, that a cavern larger than any Fort currently has was where the training complex currently is. A probable cave in triggered a fissure on the bowl wall which lead to a great chunk of it dislodging, thus creating the rounded slope.
Yet, many centuries later, all that remains to give evidence is the pocket made into the bowl wall. It seems that the inhabitants of Fort Weyr have made best of the created space. Rock on the ground proper has long since cleared, but pebbles and loose shale are constantly underfoot. Still, the sprig of some green leafed vegetation isn't too out of the ordinary in these parts, as long as it doesn't get trampled by the comings and goings.
It's clear that this area has been designated for the training of young minds, whether human or dragon. Surrounded by rock on all side, it's like a personal weyr bowl for the youngsters to minimize distraction and danger. The candidate barracks have been built across from the Weyrling barracks, so that one group can educate the next. Finally, placed in the center of the two entrances of the opposing barracks, near the rock face, is a statue with a memorial plaque.

The day has started with a bang — literally. Thunderstorms rolled in with the dawn, rather that the sun and for most of the first few hours the Weyr was under seige of rain and lightning. But like any storm it passes and leaves the skies clear though the ground is a deluge of mud and water. What better time than to call the Weyrlings out? M'icha has all but kicked everyone out of the barracks now, assigning them random duties as he sees fit. Likely the Weyrlingmaster's mood has soured with the wet weather and seeking some peace, foists his charges on others. Those not stuck with patrols get a special treat assigned though: Between! But it won't be the Weyrlingmaster Staff waiting or some random Wingleader or Wingsecond out in the training fields. Nope — the "lucky" ones selected get none other than the Weyrleader himself. Th'ero is dressed in his riding gear, helmet, goggles and gloves all held in one hand at his side as he stands next to Velokraeth's sides. The pale, misshapen bronze has already been donned in his straps and he shifts a little from foot to foot, rumbling in an almost impatient matter. "Be still." Th'ero murmurs to his lifemate, though his mood seems no better. Oh, poor, poor Weyrlings.

Over time, Harmony and Crosenturath have worked out a system whereby the straps don't get pulled off and the blue minds a little better than he did when first hatched. It usually involves lots of little treats to be found, but while it may yet be weird, it's a system that works for the pair. "No, no. Yes, forward. March." The girl's voice is firm, her will strong against her dragon's flightier desires, so that the pair come up in (mostly) serviceable formation. Chin lifts while Crosenturath settles carefully on his jelly haunches, the tremble of massively restrained energy is evident in the quiver of his thick tail, and the little whimpers that escape out with each, sniffling breath. Where Harmony minces steps over puddles and mud, the blue is unafraid of them, plopping his buns right in the middle of a puddle. Cue: groan. "Sir."

Whatever works, right? And threats may not be so unusual… if some would know just /part/ of the conversations, bickering and threats between Th'ero and Velokraeth, well. There'd be much shock. And scandal! Oh yes. The Weyrleader looks up as Harmony's firm voiced commands to Crosenturath are overheard, having turned briefly to check the straps for the umpteenth millionth time in such a short span of minutes, which has Velokraeth snorting. Be still. "Morning, Harmony. Crosenturath." he says, greeting them both in a firm but reserved tone. His gaze will linger on both Weyrling and blue dragon, criticizing every little detail no doubt. Everything must be satisfactory, as Th'ero gives a subtle nod of his head — despite Crosenturath taking his seat in a puddle and ignoring Harmony's groan. "You both look well this morning. Straps are in order. Stretches done?" No pause from him it seems. Just dry and straight cut to business.

"Stretches are done," Harmony states, not adding that stretches come with playtime comes with more stretches that come with even more *movement*. Crosenturath is not a dragon to suffer stiff and untrained muscles, that's for sure. The jelly haunch is misleading, for the dragon's energetic enough to give the energizer bunny a run for it's money! "Good morning," greetings come after the answering of questions, with the faintest flicker of a congenial smile. Hey, it's rainy, her dragon is muddy, and there's probably already been a lot of work just keeping him *occupied*! At least, the sharpness of her tongue is blunted to a rather generic politeness. Which is better for her hide, since it's the Weyrleader teaching her today. "Between lessons today?" Queried for confirmation, if not also adding a bit of sparkle to her eye in anticipation. A sidelong glance to her blue. A fly on the wall of the conversation between /these/ two proooobably would not incite scandal, anyway!

Something Th'ero does not quite know, not fully at least. But the answer Harmony gives is plenty enough and the Weyrleader will trust her not to have lied. Surely she knows better than to lie to him, right? The complete opposite of his offspring, Velokraeth is calm and almost stoic in the way he sits back on his haunches, odd-sized and mismatched eyes regarding the jelly haunched Crostenturath with amused interest and curiosity, enough that the pale bronze chuffs softly. Th'ero only gives Harmony a slightly narrowed look, a slight deeper frown for her question, but it ebbs away to a neutral and more welcoming look. If a cold stone wall is welcoming… "Perhaps. It will depend if you and Crosenturath can concentrate enough to focus on a visualization. If Velokraeth and I feel that you cannot, then at most you will have a pleasant morning of flying." And bitter defeat and failure upon landing. Awkward. "Best get started. Mount up please and buckle in. You'll be flying point, with us at your right side. We will steer towards the forests and the mountains to the south. Velokraeth will bespeak Crosenturath with further instructions once we're in the air. Understood?" Isn't he so /fun/?

To be honest, Harmony gets enough of 'fun' — /you/ try chasing around a rambunctious dragon always digging and searching and then suddenly finding it necessary to hug-squeeze-and-call-her-his! - that something other than bouncy playtime is much welcomed! Brows lift slightly, though she gives a quick nod while Crosenturath tries /not/ to tremble where he squats. There is, added to Harmony's straps, a strangely bag-shaped apparatus that's lined in well oiled, waterproof sheepskin. Two guesses on what /that/ is. It closes /very/ securely though! "We shall try our best," the girl - after her epic fail at the Hold - at least is working at /trying/ (or pretending very well) to keep herself in line. Any occurrence of flight always has a chance to end in bitter defeat after getting sick up in the air if Crosenturath is feeling particularly playful. He is not the *smoothest* of flyers SNIFF SNIFF SNIFF. His ADD's kicking in!

No thanks, he'll pass on that. Th'ero has enough headaches with Velokraeth's quirks. At least Crosenturath chooses to hug Harmony and call her his and not go cruising for every glowing (and even non-glowy green or gold) hide he can possibly find? Or purposely eavesdrop on conversations or creepily observe from on high… Oh, isn't it grand having unique and quirky lifemates? And he is horrible with guessing, though the Weyrleader is not beyond giving the strange bag-shaped apparatus a good long look when it does catch his attention. "What is that, if I may ask?" Is it dangerous? No guessing games for him (fun, remember?) it seems. "Good. That is what I want to hear." he assures her, before signalling to mount up while he too turns to prepare to do the same. He won't forget that epic fail at Gold Hill — but it's obvious that he has had his talks with those directly involved and true to his word… if he sees improvement, they get to move on. So far, Harmony has not given him reason to doubt the girl isn't trying. Smooth flight or not, the real crucial part is just making sure Crosenturath's ADD doesn't get them embedded in stone or lost forever. But best not to dwell on that… Th'ero certainly is trying NOT to think those things as he buckles himself in and dons helmet, gloves and goggles. Velokraeth will spread his wings then, shifting into a flight-ready crouch and rumbling to the blue. After you?

Does Harmony shift her feet a little as if Th'ero were getting a glance at her unmentionables? "That is," chin lifts, pride glinting in shaded green eyes, "an apparatus for rough rides." While not always the brightest crayon in the box, the look she gives the Weyrleader says he can draw his own conclusion from that statement as gorier details are not forthcoming! Once buckled in, Crosenturath (unaware of any undercurrent of embarrassment in Harmony) gives a chitter-chatter of excitement before icy wings spread and he's UP. ZOOMING straight up with a white-knuckled Harmony (okay, her straps are far more intricate than most - think /safety/ harness) clings to dear life. Crosenturath's FLYING. OH SO FLYING. HE'S FLYYYYYYIIIIIIIIIIINGGGGGGGG. Icy tendrils of wind-swept tundra fade out around him, a halo of snow, ice, and wind that's woven into a universal thought of pure, unadulterated adrenaline-junkie'd excitement.

Did he point out an unmentionable? Th'ero looks a touch awkward as she shifts her feet a little. What? "Rough rides." he echoes and — wait for it, it'll click in his head. Rough rides. Oh. OH. He clears his throat slightly and does draw his conclusion. "I see. Hopefully it won't be needed." Trying to be reassuring, but it falls rather flat. But that is all past then, as there is flying to be had and hopefully Between. First though, the teacher needs to catch his pupile. Velokraeth gives a strangled sort of grunt when Crosenturath is suddenly GONE and up. With a gusty sigh, the pale bronze lurches after him, but there's no doubt who may have the speed here. « Slow down! » Comes the simple command and request, followed by a wash of honeyed golds and crystal clear whites, crisp and cool but sweet like any summer wine. Mellowing. « Level out and smooth pace! We're not flying distance here, just to gain our bearings. » Comfortable in his straps, Th'ero may be wincing for poor Harmony's fate or maybe he's smirking and waiting to see if she can pull the blue in under control. Has the countdown begun?

One thing Harmony's good at is burying her head in the sand and no further mention is made of her fancy barf bag. Instead, she's in the air, grimacing, and clinging with all she's worth to the straps that have her locked in. It's a battle - even Velokraeth's command must penetrate the fog of OMGEXCITEMENTGONOWOMGWE'REGOINGFLYINGGOINGOMG!! In short order, Crosenturath comes to a complete stop - "SCRAT!" no mistaking that enraged, high pitched scream — free-falls ten feet before he realizes that 'slow down' does not equal 'stop', and once more icy-wings catch skeins of air. Slower this time. But slower means bumpier as the junk in his trunk has him awkwardly swimming in the sky, but this folks, is as good as 'slow-flying' as he's gonna get. He is IN the moment, however, for whatever internal command Harmony has leveraged (okay bribed), has captured his attention. « Fly! Fly! Poof! Cold! Between! Go-Now! » Words are flung out like seed pearls across an icy swath of land. Blue-blue sky clashes against blinding white, as freezing cold brushes away the layer of powder to reveal the turquoise glitter of glacier ice. Trapped within is a squirrel-rat-dragon with little arms outstretched, in reach of his goal.

No further mention works just fine for Th'ero. He'll probably never question anything odd of Harmony's again. His fault for asking though! Velokraeth overshoots Crosenturath when the blue goes from GO to STOP and once again the pale bronze can only make a disgruntled sound before veering sharply (or as sharply one his size can do) to twist back around and swoop down to rejoin the blue. No doubt watching him warily now, tensed and waiting for the next abrupt twist that never comes. The Weyrleader is not clinging to his straps, though he's certainly clinging to his temper, mouth pressed into a thin line and near grimace. Not that it's really either of their fault, but even so he is beginning to wonder if this is a good idea. « Not-now! » Velokraeth exclaims rather firmly (panicked? or is that Th'ero coming through the link?), white wine replaced with a rose color now, sweet but tangy. Sharper. It balances the cold and ice of the blue's mind, though unlike ice it starts cold but gradually warms like a mellowing intoxicated state. Calm, calm. Please, Faranth, some calm and sanity. « You need to know where to go. I will share, but you /follow/ me and wait to follow. Understand? »

Some internal wrestling occurs, a struggle that wafts white wine and rose through the icy skeins of mental air drifts. Crosenturath maintains as even-keel as physically possible for the oddly shaped blue, but finally, control is taken away from the GO-GO-GO-GO-GO blue. Words dance on motes of snow, jangled up and turned around, but the feeling is clear: Amidst the rampant energy, acquiescence occurs. Harmony - white-faced and with her own thin-lipped expression - does have a hold on the blue, his attention /focused/ on Velokraeth. Focused. Eyeballing. He jerks forward suddenly, STOPS, then once more awkwardly undulates in the sky. Velo-nut, maybe. « Follow follow follow follow follow follow. » The word, echoed down a long corridor of glacier ice, does not mask the inherent /intelligence/ behind the oh-so-strange dragon's mind - but does highlight the difference. Oh yeah. This would totally be Crosenturath's waiting face; s'as good as it's gonna /get/!

Velokraeth just /sighs/. A great big, gusty sigh. If he could roll his eyes or facepalm, he would have then. But if it will have Crosenturath focused and not wheeling off somewhere or, Faranth-forbid, lost forever along with Harmony… he'll submit and be eyeballed and become Velo-nut for now. So long as no green or gold gets wind of this. Velo-nut, indeed. Surprisingly his flight seems rather steady, despite a boxy behind and stunted limbs and ugly, oversized head, but steady or not, he once again shoots forwards when the blue just STOPS. Rumbling in annoyance, Velokraeth wheels back again and snorts. Good, now? Now he takes his time to eyeball Crosenturath a little, first with the smaller eye and then the larger. Good. Echoed words or not, it sooths the bronze (and his rider) enough that they aren't ordering the young blue down to land and face the shame of failing a Between lesson barely begun. Sensing it's as best as it will be, Th'ero allows the next step to proceed and Velokraeth strengthens the bond between himself and the young blue. « See this place? » he intones simply. « We are to go there. Both of you picture it, HOLD it and when I say so, you follow. » Overriding glacier ice comes the iconic image of the red butte of Keroon and it envelops everything over the link as the image becomes the focus. Nothing else. Each detail is in place, from the shape of the butte itself, to it's reddish brown coloring, the lay of the land around it, the clear, blue-green sky and the position of the sun. Nothing is missed. « Understand? » And he waits for whatever response comes as a "yes" from Crosenturath. Is Harmony ready? Th'ero will grip his straps a little more, sitting a little straighter. One heartbeat, two heart beat, three — « Follow. Go there! » Velokraeth commands and it's done.

Velo-nut. Crosenturath's icy tundra sweeps in layers, fading away to the image of Red Butte, the starkness of the picture at odds with his own icy flare. Long, thin muzzle quivers as lips peel back to reveal his tiny, little fangs. Bug eyes widen (if that's even possible) to give him an even more startled look, comical against the strange bobbing motion of having a much heavier back end than front end. It's like swimming and trying to keep your butt from sinking. Sometimes, it's just not possible. Sounds weave through the image, threading in a subtle sound through the weft of the essential tapestry of where to go. Warp threads are overlaid with the chill of the tundra, of the cavitation of glaciers. « chirp-chirp-heh-heh-chirp-heh-heh-squawk-chirp-cheep-heh-ah-heh-heh-heh-chirp- Mrikkarrikarek-Understand! » Such a simple response as 'yes' is nigh on impossible for the blue, especially with so much control exercised against the building tension of excited movement. It /is/ a yes, a desire of readiness as well as understanding. Then, suddenly, Crosenturath's an explosion of energy, released from his bonds to bound forward after his Velo-nut. One-breath, two-breaths, three-breaths; time stops. The moment freezes, the bone chill of between envelopes the two of them. It is not Harmony who's startled upon emergence - she's a rider's daughter after all! - but it is the blue. The sudden appearance into a sea of dusty red, of bright skies, and NOT-FORT has the blue suddenly stopping and falling in a tailspin. That's win the high-pitched girl wailing sounds occur, the sound spiraling outward behind them. At the last second, innately - and showing /some/ skill - Crosenturath catches ahold of himself. But not before that special little bag is getting it's use. Maybe, someone has to work on their BETWEEN exit strategies. HEY. At least the blue can execute a safe return from between! Oh yeah - VELO-NUT! "Scrat!" Look who's getting chased again.

They should have known it would not be so simple! That nigh on impossible "simple" yes should have been key right there. The command was given though, the point of no-return reached and even if Velokraeth had balked or Th'ero change his mind then, that explosion of energy from Crosenturath could not be stopped and wouldn't that be a whole kettle of BAD if one arrived in Keroon and one lingered back in Fort. Pandemonium. Not that things do not take a chaotic twist. Velokraeth had just begun to rumble a warm welcome, echoing satisfaction and relief that is his and his rider's combined and wrapped up with a healthy dose of being pleased and reassured that not all is lost with this pair. That is dashed however as Crosenturath simply DROPS in a tailspin. Poor Harmony. Poor Th'ero — to a degree. His reaction is purely instinctual and down goes Velokraeth after the falling blue. Fly, FLY! Just before the pale bronze resorts to yelling the actual mental words, the blue pulls out (and hey, that IS some skill!). Rather ungracefully in comparison, Velokraeth does the same, eating into much of his stamina and strength to do so. Not that he has to go far before he's Velo-nut again. « You need to keep /flying/. » he chides in a double-tone, part his and most of the Weyrleader's echoed. « Shards and shells. Now that we're done with /that/ stunt, all is well? » Harmony included in that request. « No strain? Not tired? » Cause round two is around the corner! Oh joy. Th'ero is sitting rather rigid in his straps, gloved hands gripping the front and though he wears a helmet and goggles, it's not hard to imagine the hard, narrowed stare he is likely shooting the blue weyrling pair right now. Don't. Do. That. Again. Or they'll fly back to Fort. Alllll the way back.

« FLYING FLYING FLYING FLYING. » Crosenturath, being the in-the-moment dragon that he is, has already recovered from his harrowing experience, chasing after the Velo-nut with /gusto/, chanting his flying mantra as if it were a game. Harmony does not recover so quickly, looking quite sickly. She manages to unclaw her fingers around the straps where she held on for dear life and offer what's got to be the world's weakest thumbs-up sign ever. « Done, done, done, done, well! » Huff, chitter, chatter, chitter, squeak, click, huff! Vocalization abounds! Sounds drift on the air, happy sounds, the sounds of a dragon-not-hurt. Forced into reassurance, the crashing glaciers melt beneath an austere sun, blinding white — a visual representation of his deep, /deep/ well of energy. « Well! All is well! » Answer for the both of them, before the blue subsides into random chattering. Harmony has once again gathered the reigns of Crosenturath, the little blue struggling to stay as still as possible while waiting the command to go again. Jelly haunches quiver, but not because of flight, nay, because of the sheer power of anticipated excitement. Harmony? Just looks sick.

Velokraeth will not groan. Do not groan. Do not be snarky with the little blue. So Velo-nut remains and weaves a rather lazy path across the sky. Would Crosenturath notice they're doing circles? The poor pale bronze weathers that in-the-moment nature of the blue as best he can, along with the chanting, vocalizations and all the quirky strangeness that makes him so unlike any other. Th'ero will frown in concern, hidden of course, at Harmony's weak thumbs up and where the Weyrleader has doubts, his lifemate does not. Velokraeth might just want to be HOME at this point, but the message of reassurance — for what it is — from Crosenturath is passed along and the bronzerider cannot deny it. Not completely. « Good. Because we are going back now. Same as before and ONLY when I say so. » Grumble. But true to his word, he overrides the bond again, drowning out ice and snow and chittering and chanting for the image of HOME: Fort's northern bowl, with water and mud a plenty and all the details in between. Nothing missed! Th'ero will grip the straps again, likely settling into a tense and ready position should Crosenturath pull another exit-stunt. « Hold it again. Concentrate. And… follow! » Round Two commence! At least the end of this lesson is nigh for a flight-sick rider?

The image of Fort is grabbed onto with a single-minded determination. Home is where Crosenturath wants to be. Home-home-home-home-well, the picture is clear. In an explosion of crumbling glaciers, windswept icy tundras, and energy the blue is off, chasing after his Velo-nut. Quivering as he was, that just skims the surface of the amount of energy the blue has. Especially when he desires something. One-two-three, the time it takes to make three quick breaths and the pair are not yet seen, not yet emerged. It's on that fourth breath, only somewhat slower than when they /went/ to Red Butte, that the blue appears. At least this time, there's no free fall, yay! Still, the transition from in between moments to the real world is still jarring to the young dragon. His wings hold him aloft, but he careens around like a kite out of control. It is only the desire for Velo-nut, and whatever else Harmony is screaming at him that finally has him landing back where he started. It's a bumpy landing - hit! Bounce! Hit! Bounce! Skid! - that has Harmony reaching for her special bag. Wide, wide eyes just look around, his long snout sniffing. SNIFF SNIFF. Next?

Home is where Velokraeth wants to be too. Even the bronze has limits and somehow Crosenturath has pushed him to every last one in a span of a handful of minutes. Not even an hour! That has to be a record right there. Velo-nut is chased and he does not protest, leading the young blue back through. Winking back into existance, the pale bronze swivels his grotesque head around to scan the skies. One, two, three… Th'ero has just begun to fight back that sharp, gut-wrenching drop of the heart to the stomach when time elapses (and seems oh-so much longer than it really is) and then … four … and Velokraeth exhales as well in relief when Crosenturath appears, sans the free fall! The blue may still be greeted though with a faint echo of « where are you? » that drifts across the frozen landscapes of his mind. Velo-nut will hone in on the blue, chaser becoming the chased as the bronze is spurred on by a Weyrleader's concern for the weyrling pair as the careening begins. Both will wince at the bouncy landing, though Velokraeth's is no less smooth and rather jarring. Stunted limbs unite! Snorting, he folds his wings with a prompt snap to his sides, a clear sign that there is no 'next' it seems. Not in the air and not with Between. « Enough for today. Mine says you are both to rest. Eat if you are hungry, but rest. You both did well, but you are not to go alone in this. Always follow. Understood? » Or else. Surely Harmony at least understands the consequences. Th'ero is already peeling off most of his riding gear and unbuckling his straps. He needs a drink, by the stony look his features have settled in. But there is a sidelong glance given to the blue weyrling. A quick check-in and… perhaps a touch, just a teeny bit of sympathy?

Crosenturath, for all his boundless energy, is sharper than one might take him for. So Velokraeth's admonishment of waiting is captured with unexpected ease. Harmony, for her part, looks at Th'ero with an expression that (minus the green) would be something like grateful. She's quick to slide off her dragon, the blue's attention drifting away to the Next Big Thing: Eat! Off like a shot, the blue bounces and jiggles and bounds and snorts, sniffing his way to the pens. Short, squatty legs unite indeed! "I" Harmony puts a hand over her mouth, barely manages to say, "Thank you sir - I-need - I—!" Then she's running back into the barracks. This time, it's not out of a lack of polite social skills that she flees, but instead, it's to save Th'ero's boots. They're too shiny for their own good!

Velokraeth only sags with relief (and exhaustion) when Crosenturath bounds and jiggles off to the pens, leaving the bronze to be simply himself and no longer the much required Velo-nut. Flaring his wings one last time, he launches into the air but only so he can seek some solace and peace on his ledge. Time to recover before the next unfor- lucky! - weyrling gets the short straw drawn and has the Weyrleader as their teacher. Th'ero for the most part is wanting to follow his bronze's example and take a few moments of peace and quiet. So Harmony's hurried thanks is waved off. Literally. He's not entirely daff and the moment her hand is up over her mouth, he's /backing/ away. Not the boots! "Take it easy," he says lamely, grimacing even as the words leave his lips and likely inwardly cursing his awkwardness. Nice one. But she's running then and he can make his escape with no further fumbling. And escape he does and very much in the opposite direction — though he does not run, his stride is brisk enough. Oh Faranth, he /needs/ that drink.

'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.