A Gift of Stars

Xanadu Weyr - Feeding Grounds

A large portion of the eastern edge of the meadow has been fenced off, the corralling on three sides is located on the rolling meadow, while the fourth is located a short way up on the eastern hills. Within the large corral are a variety of beasts - ovines, bovines, and wherries - milling around, though the appearance of a dragon may send them one way or the other to try and escape. A small pond is set near one corner of the enclosure, and at times it reflects the low, bordering mountains.

Technically spring has sprung, but just one hour before the night's zenith it's hard to tell. The fact that the stars are obscured by heavy clouds and a whipping wind turns frigid raindrops into pelting weapons certainly isn't helping anything. Supposedly this is the sort of thing that brings flowers in later months, but at the moment all it does is turn the night into a dark, wet, windy warzone. So it makes perfect sense that someone would be in the feeding grounds, watching the miserable herdbeasts mill together beneath the shelter, lowing into the whistle of the wind. Enkavir's long overcoat is oiled well enough to shed the water, and the hood is pulled up, but the hem drips steadily and there's a trickle that falls from the front of his bowed head. It'd be nearly impossible to identify him even with the glowbasket at his feet, unless the way he lounges with one hip against the fence is enough for certain people who know him well.

There's the flutter of tiny wings wetly flapping in the night, nearer to Enkavir and the feeding pens they come and a brown Shep circles to dip low enough for his squeak of recognition to be heard above the wind and rain. He pops *Between* almost immediately after and not too many minutes later, Thea is there at the edge of the dripping trees, partially protected from the rain by them. Her flight leathers and a loose-fitting wide-brimmed leather hat do the rest. For a time she stands just watching the man then she moves to stand beside him. "On a night so miserable I had to coax Shep out, I cannot imagine what would draw you out here, Kav." She pauses, "Everything ok?"

Enkavir lifts his eyes to the damp firelizard, shaking his head as recognition dawns. He doesn't move but he doesn't seem surprised when Thea joins him either. "It's bad enough Spark's huddling," he notes. There's a little firelizard sized rumble and the bronze pokes his head out beneath Enkavir's chin. Still nasty out. He disappears again. "I just couldn't sleep and didn't want to wake you by tossing and turning or prowling around the cottage," he answers after a moment. He finally turns to look at her, his face hidden by the cowl's shadows and rain dripping off of it. "I wanted to see the stars but obviously you can't tonight. So I'm watching herdbeasts. It's dull enough to put anyone but me to sleep."

Thea reaches a hand towards Enkavir, offering it to him. "I awoke when you got up. When you didn't return for awhile, I…" She coughs slightly, then finishes a little sheepishly, "Was worried it might be another headache. " She leans closer, trying to peer through the shadows that hide his face, however it's an impossible task tonight. "Both Spark and Shep are wiser than we are. He's gone back to the warmth of the hearth." Said dryly sparing no glance at the sky. There's no need with the low-hung clouds and rain, "It is a pretty rotten night for viewing the stars." She has to agree with him there. "If you're feeling alright, I should let you have some time to yourself." She takes a half-step away.

Enkavir lets out a rough sigh, dipping his head farther yet, not that she could pierce the gloom there anyhow. "I didn't mean to wake you. The worst bit of this sharding head injury is how much you listen to the way I breathe, even when you're asleep." He takes the hand she offers and lets out a low laugh that's nearly devoid of mirth. "You're not the one who isn't wise. I'm sure you'd rather be at the hearth yourself." When she goes to leave his grip on her hand tightens, tethering her to him so she can't get away. "Wait. Don't go." His hand is bare, and is already wet by the time he speaks, slick in hers. "I should let you get back inside but… I don't really want to be alone. We should go somewhere that it isn't raining." His eyes flick to the sky, then back to where Seryth rests. "Can we go somewhere?"

"I know. I don't mind." Thea says it simply, then as if to reassure him, "Perhaps with time I will not always be so aware?" His head tips, evasive maneuvering noted and she doesn't press. But her retreat is brought short by that tightening grip on her hand so she pauses, "You don't." Her lips twitch just a bit at that. Because, well. He's out here, after all. Easily then, "Alright. I'll stay." She moves close to his side, tilts her head at his question and eyes Seryth, "Good thing she loves the rain. I suppose we could, sure. You have someplace in mind?"

"I mind. I feel bad. I hate feeling bad." Enkavir's words are a grumble but he squeezes that hand again to take the edge off the words. "I didn't want to /wake/ you. That doesn't mean I want to be alone." He tips his head up and the glows at his feet just highlight a faint grin, crooked with only one side tipped up. Her question has him eyeing Seryth again and he shrugs. "No. Somewhere we can see the sta- hmm." A brow arches and he tips his head back just long enough to get a splash of rain, looking up at the cloud-hidden sky. When he looks back down that grin is far more pronounced. "Actually yeah, I do have an idea."

"I wish you wouldn't." It comes out wistfully, "I've never been a heavy sleeper anyway. And you've enough to feel bad about, I'm thinking." That half-lit wry grin of his doesn't reassure, Thea's lips form a sober line and she offers quietly, "I'll be glad to keep you company and I promise not to talk your ear off if you'd like." She turns her head and gazes out over the soaked feeding pens and the sodden herdbeasts. His movement has her head swiveling back his way in time to catch that second grin and she is thrown by the sudden change. She manages a half-smile and a rather breathless, "What might that be?"

Enkavir takes on the slightest of frowns, brows drawing downward but only for a beat. "What else to I have to feel bad about? What a rotten scoundrel I am?" Now that he's had his idea he's nearly jovial, and with his hand still laced through hers he gestures toward the sky. "How about up above the cloud cover? Way up?" Dark brows lift almost challengingly. "You up for it? A little trip up with the stars?"

Thea merely shakes her head, a tiny grin of her own forms on her lips, "I'm sure not that." She shrugs, "Just stuff." She holds her free hand palm up. She really doesn't know. She's bemused by the mood change, not unpleased at all, offering a casual, "Sure, always up for a flight above the clouds under a starry sky. Seryth wouldn't mind taking us for a ride." Seryth is rising as Thea speaks, padding to stand nearby, rain streaming down her flanks . Her wings open, a misty canopy above them, the rattle of rain hitting the membranes almost loud in the silent darkness.

Enkavir chuckles, a low rumble of sound as he grabs that free hand playfully before releasing it. "You have to say that though, I think. Otherwise it's commentary on your taste in men." He's quick to head for Seryth, giving Thea little tug to encourage quick steps. Now that the decision's made he's
not about to dawdle in the rain. "Evening, gorgeous. Sorry to wake up all the ladies in my life at once," this to the dragon of course, as he gives her flank a pat. He waits for her actual rider to precede him up to her neck, offering Thea a hand up though she scarcely needs it.

"We-ell, you are a scoundrel, just not a rotten one. You are, after all, not with the Renegades." Thea counters smugly. She is tugged to the queen's side, following with little hesitation, rather enchanted by his elation. Seryth's head swings 'round to follow Enkavir as he walks past, she whuffs warmly at him and smugly croons at Thea. This provokes a snort of laughter, and a peek back over her shoulder at the man. Her pale eyes are dancing in the faint light of the glow. Her lips press together, not going to say it, nope. And she scrambles up to wait for him, snapping herself into the harness while he climbs up.

Enkavir arches a brow at all the smugness coming from both gold and rider. "You two are almost too much for one of me to handle, you know that? Going to have to recruit some help." He follows Thea upward with something approximating grace, borne of more and more practice. As he buckles himself in with a similar amount of ease, he leans forward, around Thea, toward the distant shape of Seryth's head. "So, goldie, you know how to get to the Yokohama? I've been there but I'm not sure dragons can snag a visualization out of some random guy's head." It's all so very casual, this revelation of his proposed destination, ruined only by the quick flick of his eyes, the twist of his head to catch Thea's reaction.


You are mounted upon Seryth's shoulders, feeling the powerful muscles across her back rippling beneath your legs. Under your hands her soft, warm hide shimmers - a pale sunrise curtained in golden mist; rain suspended in time and caught by Rukbat's dawnlight. A faint scent of jasmine reaches you from her oiled hide as wide wings lift, enclosing you in cloudy aureate light and trembling in anticipation of that first mighty downsweep that will carry you aloft.

"Seryth said she'd overlook you for being a rotten renegade, if that came to light. Renegade." Thea is mid-snicker after sharing that when Enkavir speaks. "Yoko- WHAT?" Her mouth hangs open, "You, mean it? Butbut…" She's watching him with the expression one might have when he's just claimed to be able to fly without a dragon. Seryth's neck curves around until the end of her snout is inches from the pair of them and there's another smug trill. Thea laughs helplessly at the queen, "She- she just said you're not some random guy and it shouldn't be at all hard to do." This isn't what has her stunned, though. She turns her head slowly to him, "You… wouldn't mind her-" she pauses eyeing him in near disbelief, her eyes narrowed, "-in your head like thaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAaat?" Seryth launches without warning, and Thea is thrown back against Enkavir, clutching at his coat to steady herself.

Enkavir arches a brow, and though it might not be seen, the incredulity is certainly thick in his voice. "Renegade? How many times do I have to tell you guys I'm no Renegade." She reacts just as he hoped and it brings a wide grin to his face. His arms slide around her waist and he gives her a quick squeeze. "I mean it. There might be people up there since it's the StarCraft's 'day' time, but they shouldn't mind." He blinks at Seryth's sudden nearness, then gives her jaw a little scritch. "I am sure I don't mind-" but then she's launching herself upward and he grabs a hold of Thea with a chuckle. "Has she always been such a handful?"


Xanadu Weyr - High Sky

It is easy to see why the settlers of Xanadu chose this exact spot to live out their lives. Here high above the Weyr one gets a good perspective on the landscape that drew the eye of that rider long ago that sought out the home for a new Weyr. Mountains loom protectively above this pristine little valley, while an energetic river races headlong down the northern side, in a hurry to reach the lake that rests peacefully to the east. Grove after grove of trees dot the land, creating endless shade for the human or dragon.
As well-placed as the natural aspects of the Weyr are, the founders worked hard to keep with the uncontrived rhythms of the valley while destroying as little of it as possible. All of Xanadu opens up below you, welcoming the odd visitor into its friendly arms, or calling a cheerful 'Welcome Home' to the rider and dragon after a visit away.

Seryth wings upwards with sure strokes, perhaps the fastest ascent she's made in her life. She's caught the taste of adventure from the two upon her back. Thea can only shake her head, "Not a Renegade. Check. But for the record? I don't think we'd care if you were." His arms are around her and she leans back, relaxing in his embrace. For a short time winds buffet, throwing them about as they rise, the rain pelts, needle-like until Seryth emerges from the clouds into the clear, still night air under a star-strewn sky. Thea twists her head back to see Enkavir's face, "It's the oddest feeling to be just along for the ride on one's own dragon." A brief pause, "You're sure about this."

Enkavir snorts, a mirthless little exhalation of laughter through his nose. "You seemed to care about it an awful lot at one point. Making me taste my own delicious frozen treat." The grumble is halfhearted at best and he gives her a little squeeze before settling his chin on her shoulder. Once they are past the rain he tosses his hood back and wipes at his eyes. "It's how I always feel up here. I guess Seryth's truly in control now though, with neither of us at the reins so to speak. I'm very certain I have a clear image of the bay where we should *between* to. And I'm sure I want to take you there, yes."

Thea's lips part as she beholds Enkavir's face with a bit of wonder. She cannot stop herself from saying, "I've never… seen you look like this. So… certain. You're almost…" She's at a loss for words, "free." Seryth croons impatiently, gliding steadily on the soft winds. Thea keeps her eyes on his. If you are sure and I will help Seryth if I can…” She mutters, “Never done it like this…" Then more distinctly, "Picture it as clearly as you can and think of nothing else, ok?" She turns forward and leans back, snuggling into him. "Ready when you are."

Seryth suddenly disappears -=* BETWEEN *=-

Darkness and cold like you can't imagine. Nothing to see, feel or hear, except the beating of your heart.
Then, as suddenly as you entered the emptiness…

Yokohama - Cargo Bay
Since the gravity units were restored and now are maintained in working order, the cargo deck of the Yokohama is constantly buzzing with activity. With research needing to be done, equipment to be moved, or a plethora of other tasks taking place people are always coming and going, either from the planet 'below' by dragon back, or meandering in and out from other places aboard the ship.
This area is well lit, the floors themselves have had space set aside specifically for 'betweening'. Three large marked off areas remain clutter-free of people, dragons and equipment. With these 'landing pads' clear, dragons avoid the danger of teleporting into an area of space already occupied and causing a tragedy. Several massive sun lamps have been set up over off to the left, in an effort to make the stay of dragon-kind more comfortable.

Seryth suddenly reappears from -=* BETWEEN *=-

Thea's open astonishment on his ability to /not/ brood makes Enkavir… well, brood. His brows come down and he looks up at her through them, quizzical. "Because I'm ordinarily so- trapped?" A brow arches dubiously, but then there's *betweening* to do so he holds up one finger - we'll be coming back to this - settles her against him and closes his eyes to think, hard, about the Yokohama cargo bay. His hands tighten around her just before the black closes in. And then, in three beats, they are up amongst the stars. He lets out a breath he didn't even know he was holding, going limp against her for just a moment. "We made it." He tries to sound matter of fact but there's a bit too much relief there.

Thea is busy bracing for a very different jump, so the brows that lower will have to wait. Then moments later, she is grabbing for his arms rather than the flight straps. They loop up and hook over his, her head moving all over the place, trying to get her bearings. “What- is- that- feeling?” Seryth floats unmoving, turning in a slow-motion free-wheeling tumble. While she is calm, her rider is not. Thea's hair has become an aureole about her head, as she turns to look at Enkavir. She's not afraid, but her eyes are wide open with surprise.

Enkavir is coping much better with the weightless sensation, though it has his coat floating around him and his hood threatening to go right back on his head. Rain water becomes little balls of fluid, surrounding them with what looks like tiny marbles, but ones that splish into liquid at a touch. "Huh." He tries to tame his already wild locks, made into a mane by the lack of gravity, but as usual it only makes it worse. "They must have the gravity units turned off. Maintenance or testing or training of some sort." He lightly grabs her arms, gives them a little squeeze. "Sorry I didn't think to warn you. Just make sure you only use slow, careful movements." He unbuckles, pushes gently and just sort of hovers there. "How's Seryth taking it? She could leave and come back if it's bugging her."

Thea is rather stunned-looking, but she relaxes as he doesn't go spinning off somewhere once unbuckled. She unclips herself, keeping one white-knuckled hand on the harness crossbar. "Seryth says she is…fine?" She shrugs, turning to look at Enkavir, and sort of blinks at the droplets floating in the air between them before her glance flickers up and she bites her lips, but cannot stifle the soft laughter. It takes a few moments to get it under control, perhaps partly because she is so out of her element. "What now?"

Enkavir reaches for a floating strap and uses it to gain enough momentum to pat Seryth. "You won't fit where we're going but you should be fine here. No sudden movements and try… not to get tangled in anything I guess." There aren't any other dragons here at the moment so she has plenty of space anyhow. Enkavir has an almost mischievous smirk on his face and he reaches a hand toward Thea. It explodes little rain-balls, making a bunch of tinier ones in his hand's path. "To the lift, so we can see the stars. I'll give you a push?" His brows go up at her laughter and he slowly shakes his head. "What? It's my hair isn't it? It always gives me fits in zero G."

Thea's lips soundlessly repeat the word 'always' with a tiny shake of her head. One hand reaches out, her palm against his cheek, "Are you real? Is this a dream? It feels like one." That look of wonder is all over her face. "A… push." She repeats it, then looks down at her hand as if she must will it to let go of that bar. Reluctantly she does so and then wordlessly nods. "The lift then." Her hair is all over the place too, but for the moment she could be bald for all the attention she is giving it.

Enkavir gives her a tap under the chin with a knuckle, his smirk lingering. "I've been up here a few times, that's all. And yes, real." He anchors himself with an elbow through Seryth's straps and gives Thea a tug toward him. She keeps moving with the momentum until the length of his body stops her, and he smiles down at her, the curve of his lips slight and heat in his eyes. "Very real." He drops the smallest, lightest of kisses on her lips, and though it makes his breath catch in his throat, he gives her a gentle push toward the lift. Clearing his throat, tugging a chunk of hair out of his eyes, he nods to her destination. "Grab one of those handholds and push the up button. I'm right behind you." So saying he uses Seryth and pushes off, floating with at least a bit of grace after Thea.

Thea moves only to be stopped in the sweetest way, though it is all too brief. Then she is floating in the direction she has been launched, her arms outstretched to grab the handholds Enkavir has pointed out. "Ahhhh!" So eloquent. Her fingers curl round the bar and she pulls herself, or tries to. Her body cants in the opposite direction that she's trying for, "Kav, I don't work up here." It's a half-laugh half- growl as she turns her head to catch his eye, almost upside down now, but still hanging onto that grip.

Hot on her heels - almost literally with that interesting angle - Enkavir snags a handhold on the opposite side of the lift and bumps to an easy halt. "Um, push lightly and swing your feet down…" he's trying his very best to keep a straight face, but now her hair is floating up around her face and that growl makes him cough to squelch a laugh. He holds up a stalling finger, then pushes the button to call the lift before nudging himself toward her. "Stay still, but not stiff," he advises as he helps get her right side up. "I love you," he murmurs, smirk lingering as he pushes her into the now open lift. "Hands out so you don't just run into the back wall," he offers as he joins her.

Yokohama - Main Lift
Manufactured from a lightweight composite of Terran materials this lift supports a "microfoamed" cylindrical cab to house personnel as they travel from one part of the Yokohama to another. Three linear induction motors, mounted longitudinally on the cab's exterior, provide the force to move the cab. Electromagnetic conduits lining the shaft power the motors. The lift reaches an approximate maximum speed of ten meters per second under this system. Inertial dampeners mounted on the cab's base counteracts the acceleration effects. The interior display shows the ship's directory to assist in achieving the correct destination.
The lift is lined with brilliant tubes shining brighter than a hundred glows each, at least. The floor is thinly carpeted in a depressing industrial gray, and the walls are painted an unassuming tan. The doors are quite thick, and bear a small silver plate with the title 'Emergency procedures in case of Hull Breach…' but the rest makes little sense.

Thea relaxes and is maneuvered into the lift, that look of wonder still in her eyes as they meet his, a bemused smile hovers on her lips. She hasn't seen the stars yet, but they are in her eyes. Her arms are obedient and she comes to rest towards the back of the lift. Remembering to relax, she pushes gently with one finger to turn in a slow twirl to face Enkavir with a little grin as he enters the lift. The doors shut and for a moment she frowns. "What is a 'hull breach'?"

As the doors shut gravity reasserts itself, luckily gradually. Enkavir's feet hit first and he reaches out to lend a steadying hand should she need it. "Ooh, that's very nice," he says with a grin as she spins. "You'll get the hang of it yet. Although it looks like there's gravity again in here and probably where we're going." He arches a brow at her question then looks around until he spots the words. "Oh. Um, that's when the hull - the outside shell of the ship? Gets a hole in it. It would not be a particularly good thing. But we're stationary now so it's extremely unlikely. As in, virtually impossible." One hand still out to her, he pushes the button for the 17th floor.

Enkavir presses the button for Floor: 17. There is a momentary pause as the lights flash at the entryway.

The doors to the lift come closed and after a momentary pause, waiting for everyone to take hold of the hand rails, the capsule bobs and then rockets to its next destination.

The lift comes to a halt at Floor: 17 and the doors open.


Yokohama - Bridge of Operations

From the lift, the main viewscreen dominates the wall seen directly across the way from it. Set above is an enormous observation window, which affords an amazing view of space and the planet below. There are many control consoles and chairs on the deck set before them, as well as a large open area just in front of the viewscreen. Centrally located in this expansive area is the Commanding Officer's chair. Three sets of steps ascend to the platform, which is set several meters above the deck. Other important stations line the upper platform, which extends both the port and starboard, each side ending a few meters short of the viewscreen.

Thea reaches for Enkavir's hand, uncertain what's coming next, but as she simply sinks to the floor, she smiles. "That was easy." His explanation about the hull is received with a little 'huh' and a bit of a blank look. As the lifts moves, her hand tightens on his and she grabs a nearby rail until the thing stops. Again with the wide-eyed, "This is all rather…amazing." Then the doors are opening and she follows him out, "Whoaaa…" She is reduced to speaking in syllables up in space, who knew? Her eyes scan the room, but it is the observation window that draws her attention and she is simply speechless.

Enkavir isn't even looking out at the bridge as the doors open. They could be on the wrong floor, or the floor they're on could be /exploding/ and he wouldn't notice. He only has eyes for Thea, his lips slightly parted and eyes intensely sharp on every nuance of her face as the doors slide open. As if the Yokohama is his somehow, a gift he gives her, he asks, "Do you like it?" Normal gravity makes it easier to maneuver, and he moves to her side, sliding an arm around her waist. "Come see." His voice is hushed, but it still echoes a bit in the empty room. With slow steps he leads her over to the huge observation window, and his eyes finally leave her in favor of the view.

It's a good thing Enkavir leads Thea to that window, for she likely would simply remain immobile where she stands by the lift. The look on her face is one of pure amazement; absolute stunned wonder is in the pale green of her eyes. It isn't for the mechanisms, or consoles or flashing lights. It is that amazing sight from the window and for all the pull Enkavir has for her, she cannot make herself look away. "It's… beautiful." Breathed in an awed whisper. As she nears it, her free hand reaches out to touch the transparent glass. "Is that… Pern? I feel like I could just float down there and loose myself." Her voice sounds faraway, faint. When she finally manages to force her eyes away from it to look at his, her's are rapt, awed. "Kav." There is a wealth of understanding in her voice. She cannot speak, totally captivated is she.

The vision offered by the wide expanse of the window - Pern laid out below them and stars flung out before them, is enough to captivate Enkavir's attention for the span of a few long moments. It's not the sort of thing that gets old ever, and certainly not after only a handful of visits several turns ago. Eventually he lets his gaze fall back to Thea's wide pale eyes and he slowly nods, her awe tugging the corners of his lips upward. "It is beautiful," he agrees, though he's not looking at the same thing as she is anymore. Her question lifts near-amber eyes again and he nods. "It is. I'm sure you recognize the southern continent." He suits gestures to words, outlining the coast. "There's the Sea of Azov and somewhere in there Xanadu." Rukbat is just cresting, washing the sphere of the planet below them in a hint of pale light so he can point out landmarks. He doesn't respond verbally to all that her tone offers, he just gives her waist a little squeeze.

When Thea looks to Enkavir and finds herself in his regard she is flustered for a moment, but then he is pointing out her home. She turns back to the window, leaning in like a child at a confectioner's Gather stall, her nose almost touching the plate. "I've seen maps, but this… this is better." Still profoundly taken in by the sight, her eyes trace the edge of her world where Rukbat gilds it. For a long moment she is silent just taking in the planet below. Then moistening lips gone dry, her eyes cast out further into the black reaches where stars live more vibrantly than she ever imagined they could. "I can see them," she whispers it, her throat too thick for her normal voice, "They are exquisite! If only my father could see…" When she turns to him once more, hers glitter with tears, "How could you bear to give this up?"

There is a moment while she looks down at her home, and Enkavir is utterly unmasked, unguarded. He lets his fingers trail through her hair and as she shares a love he has always had, his face softens. When she looks up he hastily scrubs a hand across his eyes, but surely it's just an effort to refocus after peering out at distant points of light. "You could bring your father up here some time you know. I don't think you need particular permission, and as a gold rider I'm sure you could get it." He clears his throat at her question, shrugs roughly. "It wasn't entirely my choice, it was strongly suggested I might find a better fit elsewhere." He says it blandly, flatly, then nods back toward the lift. "We should probably go soon. It's nearing daytime down at Landing and the researchers might be heading up here soon."

"My father would never come." Thea gives a little shake of her head to that. She is mute as she listens to Enkavir's words about leaving Starcraft but the stars in Thea's eyes dim before them when his shoulders jerk upwards. Her breath is sharply indrawn and she watches the shutter come down across Enkavir’s face. "Right. We should." Her voice is wooden as she pivots on one foot, turns numbly from the window and starts towards the lift.

Enkavir sees it happen, sees the wall go up. And he probably knew it was coming because his expression is regretful but not surprised. He reaches toward her, his mouth even opens to say something, but then it just closes again. Eyes downcast, chin tipped down, he follows in her footsteps. "We don't want to be in they way," he offers lamely. Unwilling or unable to meet her flat eyes, shaking his head, he punches the down button for the lift.

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