Learning Nova Wing (Weyrling Lesson)

Xanadu Weyr - Administration Hallway

Neatly curved, this rough hewn tunnel that continues well beyond this section holds a rustic look oddly incongruous with the handful of doors that open onto it. Several, all on the north side, are single doors of polished fellis wood and carved with stylistic representations of knots, knots which give a clue to who occupies the office beyond. A more easily understood identification would be the delicately painted stone plaques fastened to the wall at about chest height beside each door, the lettering done in the Weyr colors of orange and blue.
On the south side of the tunnel, a slightly wider section is the home of an impressive set of double doors. Of highly polished fellis to match the others, these doors are each carved with a skillfully rendered depiction of the Xanadu Weyr badge and the big, fluted handles are brass. Those doors lead to the Council Chambers, a meeting room for all the Weyr's staff.

With the halfway point in the Weyrlings training past, it is now time to begin more specialized training with different weyrlings pointed to mentors in the wings they may potentially wind up being tapped into. For goldriders, there is unfortunately no choice. Nova Wing, consisting of Hold and Hall diplomacy, Weyr management and Dragonhealer Annex support is where they are pointed. And so while the other Weyrlings have been sent off with wingseconds from the Search and Rescue, Transport and Delivery or Tech Support wings, Soriana (perhaps unsurprisingly) gets directed to the administration wing. Sitting in the chair tucked into the radio alcove awaiting her is Thea, idly tuning in to different channels while the crackle of voices alternates with static.

Oh, yes, there are lots of wings! Search and Rescue, with training on adverse conditions, daring insertions and hazardous takeoffs! Transport and Delivery, with fascinating locales and people who are guaranteed to be happy to see you (or at least what you're carrying)! Tech Support, with strange gizmos and contraptions and a charter to keep the lights on! … or, well, Nova. The Queens' Wing. The wing for which riders don't volunteer. The wing of fate. Soriana cast eyes at the other weyrlings as they went off to try wings before they commit. To test the waters, knowing that they can always change their minds - even after making that choice! They can always transfer. Sure, it'll mean they're more junior in their new wing, but… they can. Soriana watched them go off with their dragons, and then she walked to the beach with Luraoth and left her dragon there to bask in the wintry sunlight. Soriana walked up the steps and crossed clearing and caverns, and now she walks into the administration hallway. A place she's been before, plenty of times. A weyrbrat, running back to see her mother in the Junior Weyrwomen's Office… the place where much of Nova spends much of their time. Now she's walking in again, a weyrling with an expression kind of like she's eaten something bad but is nevertheless trying to smile. It's not actually working so great.

Ah yes, Nova. Where most of the uhhh stuff (let's call it that) hits the fan. Where the buck stops (at least for the one lasting the longest in the job). It is sometimes boring, can be fascinating, is often exhausting, always a challenge. The Weyrwoman doesn't look particularly enthralled with the monitoring of various and sundry random channels and though there's a technical manual there on the desk, it's closed and she doesn't look like she'll be picking it up anytime soon either. It's probably the sounds from the living cavern as the door opens that alerts her to Soriana's arrival. She swivels around in that chair, tilts her head upon noting the sickly smile upon the young woman's face and rises, offering her the chair with a gesture to be seated. Instead of plunging right into it however she, having been in the same sort of place eighteen turns prior, asks, "That bad is it?"

Of course, as Thea moves, Soriana notices her, and that makes her try a little harder for a genuine(-looking) smile. It does look closer, as she crosses the hall. The presence of another person is useful like that; someone to wear the smiling face for. If she'd realized she was going to encounter someone upon opening the door, maybe she'd have had the smile more firmly placed in the first place. Then again, maybe the sickly part is deeply enough seated that she still wouldn't manage to get rid of it. She seats herself in the chair as indicated, then lifts her gaze to Thea with an expression of surprise. "It's…" She lowers her gaze again, and sighs. "It's not bad." A brief pause, and then honesty compels her. "…exactly." That's an honest frown on her face now. "It's just… I never wanted… this." Her hand lifts, vaguely gesturing back to the radio of many voices, most of them dull, and the rest of the hallway that she saw as a weyrbrat while dragging her mother away to actually have a meal together for once.

There's another chair, a smaller, ratty, tattered upholstered one without shiny roller-feet to glide on the polished stone floors in here. It's the one Thea pulls closer now with a skitter of newly-shod rubber feet that won't scratch the floors and sits in. She doesn't look surprised by the confession, merely nods. "I know," she says quietly, for she saw the prodding, heard the pleading, watched the wistful eyes over shoulders as they departed sans busy mothers. From both young Soriana and her own two little ones. To tell her she has it anyway would be pointless. To try and sell the merits of Nova wing equally so. "Neither did I," she admits, adding a gesture to the closed Weyrleaders office door to include that aspect of being in Nova Wing. A short laugh accompanied by a wry headshake dismisses her own feelings on the subject. "What did you want?"

Soriana glances up again at that 'I know'. There's the surprise again, but it doesn't last for long, because… well. She can bring to mind Thea atop Seryth's back for expeditions that, properly speaking, were matters entirely for Galaxy - at least when it came to execution. So Soriana nods to Thea's admission, and her gaze stays lifted. There's even the start of a rueful smile… and then she sighs again. "To be a dragonhealer." Make it more rueful and less smile. "And I know queens, that goldriders help in the Annex, but…" A moment's hesitation, and then she comes out with it. "I went back into the archives. I looked at records, for how much time - how many shifts, how often. It's… not much." Not compared to what she wants, the hours of study… shards, it's not like a goldrider even needs most of that education. The queen has the instincts, to be honed by practice. What does her rider need to know about stitching a gash? It'd be a better use of her time to do storeroom-requisition paperwork in between patients.

Thea nods thoughtfully at the answer, understanding in her expression. "I wanted adventure," she says, her mouth twitching into another smile, this one secretive. She has managed to have a few of those. She reaches a hand for the radio taps the dial with her forefinger. "When I started my training I was told that during crises the most junior of the goldriders remains by the radio to monitor and coordinate non riders with riders. To be out there would endanger our queens - and thus the future generations of the Weyr so we were kept to… safer tasks while others took the risks." She looks at the radio with a nose-wrinkle. "I chafed. Anyone could do it." She lifts glass green eyes to Soriana. "Anyone can learn the paperwork, do the filing, help the headwoman run the weyr. And so, when I became Senior I thought I would change that." She shakes her head ruefully. It… hasn't exactly worked out that way.

Adventure. Soriana can understand that, and she nods. Reach far enough back, and she wanted it too… but then she figured out that she liked the fixing things part better than the rushing into danger. Not that she didn't still think of being a first-responder, sometimes - a sub-specialty of Galaxy. Of course, that would require a dragon. A wing-riding dragon. The dial draws her gaze, and she frowns. "This isn't… there's more than one queen." It's a stubborn frown. She doesn't need to be kept safe. She's replaceable, and when Thea says the same, it draws her gaze back to the Senior… who still does the paperwork, who's sitting with her by the radio used to monitor and coordinate. "Why didn't you?"

Thea's shoulders lift and drop, mimicking her long-ago defeat. "I told myself I got tired of fighting everyone who opposed the idea, but in retrospect it was a choice to preserve the security of others, perhaps even my own. Not an altogether bad choice for some of them," she says. Perhaps she's speaking of her former weyrmate, possibly of her children. It could be any number of people from the top on down or even those who don't reside in the Weyr. "I got busy and the idea got buried under the immediate needs and pressures of each day." She eyes the radio, "However, I think it's time to review the concept." She tilts a look brimming with curiosity at the younger girl. "Why shouldn't each junior follow her skills and work the area of the Weyr that would most benefit from it?"

Soriana gives a slow nod to the first answer. Fighting is tiring. The second answer makes her think; some of the frown dissipates, replaced by a different sort of furrow. Security. It's… not something she's thought of, much; not as a child, not as a candidate or weyrling hemmed by rules and guardians. She tries to make sense of it now, but she doesn't really get there before reason number three. That one, she understands all too well, and her mouth twists in empathy. How many times lately has she gone running from someone she hasn't seen in sevens to get to a lesson? Or stayed up hours with an electric torch because she had to finish studying something. There's always something. Sometimes there's more than one something. So that's how it is. So… Wait. Maybe that's not how it is. Hope lights her eyes, and her mouth transforms to a grin for a moment - but then she stops. There's still hope in her eyes, but it's a more guarded expression now. "Because… if she doesn't know about the other areas… she won't know how to guide someone else. Because… everyone's different, and a senior will have to know about what all her juniors do." She glances away, to the door to the Weyrleaders' office. A junior can turn senior unexpectedly, under circumstances that don't permit a slow and orderly transition of knowledge. The history she's studied as a weyrling includes plenty of examples of that. Soriana bites the inside of her lip. Why is she arguing against the thing she wants to hear? "Because anyone could do it, but people listen to goldriders."

No, security isn't something a person thinks much about until they suffer the loss of something precious. It certainly isn't something a resilient teenager will spend much time thinking about especially when they've had it most of his or her life. She certainly didn't, but someone she cared about did. She watches Soriana work through it, nodding her approval for each answer. "Exactly. But," and perhaps this will rekindle the hope, "Learning those things doesn't take the rest of one's life. Paperwork is standard, routine, once you've learned it. Diplomacy most often takes balancing tact and truth and the protocol for running the Weyr is… unchanging. Once that's learned, a rotation through the areas to keep fresh might suffice with some time for… other things." It's true the departed Briana reveled in the office and rarely left it, Esiae has a reputation for some unorthodox approaches to, well… everything (some will use the word 'escapades'), while Sorrin… "Does your mother still research and oversee the breeding of our runners?" Perhaps a rhetorical question, for Thea knows well what her juniors do. But she expects the answer, for she is looking steadily at Soriana.

Seldom has Soriana been so unhappy about having the right answer. The 'but' draws her gaze once again, and the hope… well, it's not the bright beacon it was at first, but there's a flicker. Almost despite herself, really. She doesn't want to be disappointed, but she wants even more to hope… so she does. She believes Thea when the senior says that learning these things won't take the rest of her life. She hopes that the lessons she's put off for weyrlinghood… won't have to be put off forever. Her mouth twitches at the question. "Sometimes." There's the guardedness, and then she frowns at herself and shakes her head, then corrects her answer. "Yes." …sometimes. There can be Some Time for those other things.

Thea smiles and this is not the scary one right before an unpleasant edict is issued. It's not the giddy grin she might employ when Seryth is glowing. It's a serene one. "There are always choices," she says firmly, believing it. She made hers. "I'll leave you the freedom to make yours when you have more time to spare. For now though, we'll begin the learning process of the things we all share, shall we?" After all, the office is only open for eight hours a day and restdays are mandatory - at least as far as the office is concerned. Her calendar still bears the Steward's handwriting to back that up. What Soriana does in her off time is her decision.

The flicker of hope remains. A small flame, one that can burn for a long time, banked low and waiting. A hearth fire, perhaps. Soriana nods, and slowly an answering smile emerges. It's not much of one. Less than the one she had when she walked in here… but far more honest. She's not trying to smile, she just is. It's a smile that's far from untroubled, but it's there. "Yeah," she agrees, and glances to the radio briefly before returning her gaze to Thea. "I've got a lot to learn." And learn it she will. After all, the harder she applies herself and the faster she learns it, the sooner she'll get to make that choice. Soriana draws in a breath and sits up straight. "Let's get started." She's ready. Or maybe she isn't, but she's going to try.

And so on to the radio for Lesson Number One. Thea turns to the radio, a squat black unit with one large dial, several smaller dials, yet several more switches, buttons and jacks. Two screens, one has a gage with a needle that jerks and sweeps back and forth over green, yellow and red pie-shaped sectors. The other screen is larger with several lines of green numbers above a scrolling graph that dances in unison with the faint crackle of voices that emits from it. "We keep this on 'round the clock, though for the overnight hours someone from Galaxy Wing monitors it. This is how we keep in touch with the holds in our coverage and it's often faster than going through a posted watchrider, though we use those in conjunction with the radio." Her fingers reach for the gage and she idly taps it. "Xanadu's call sign is XW000, so when we hear that, they are calling us and we need to answer." She adds helpfully, "The gage needle will jump into the red zone when they're calling us." Her finger moves to the larger dial and as she turns it to the various points marked, the faint voices change with each click, "These are the holds beholden to Xanadu Weyr. Hanista Hold's call sign is HH100, Black Rock Hold's BR200, Ressac Sea Hold's RS300, Rubicon River's RR400, Dolphincraft Hall's is DH500." There's likely far more detail to all this, but Xanadu's Weyrwoman isn't known for being highly technical. In fact, there are certainly more appropriate people to teach this subject.

Soriana turns her attention to the radio. It's very… technical looking, yes. She's not entirely sure that someone from Nebula couldn't do the job better, given how technical it looks. Not that Soriana hasn't spent her share of time watching funny videos from the AIVAS files on one of the shared terminals, but she's no technician. At least she's not being given a list of every single switch and what it does. High level overview. She's okay with with. She nods to the monitoring schedule, then looks to the needle with its red zone. "Do we listen to other things? When they aren't calling us?" Because, she presumes, they also talk in between themselves, with their BR200s and RR400s and… these are all written down somewhere, right? Maybe in that big book on the table. Of course, the book is bound to be highly technical, but her gaze nevertheless drops to it. It's very thick. Maybe she'd better hope she doesn't have to read and understand it all.

That's precisely why the booklet remains on the table. It's quite possible the Weyrwoman has never looked inside of it. "We can listen in to all of it - or I should say any of it - if we want to, depending on which frequency we have the receiver set to." She turns the dial randomly to points marked 000, then 100, then 200, pausing only briefly on each. "When Hanista Hold talks to their own people, their call signs will all start with HH and the numerical range will be in the 100s and so forth. Xanadu's radios start with 001 and range to 099. All will begin with XW." She returns the dial to the | position and her fingers leave the dial. "Unless there is an emergency we're monitoring in a specific area, say a storm on the coast of the Southern sea near the mouth of the Rubicon river and the fishing fleets are out there, usually we keep the receiver set to 'open' so incoming calls to Xanadu have priority." The information is probably randomly-given as things occur to Thea (really they ought to get someone from Nebula to teach this). "We do a radio check at the beginning of each shift to make sure the radio is in working order. We call M'iri if it breaks." Yanno, because radios do that - break themselves and none of them know how to fix it, (except maybe Jethaniel?).

Okay, so that… more or less makes sense. It's like there's… firelizards, running messages. Each firelizard is painted with a number, and the radio can watch for a certain number firelizard… or just pay attention for firelizards coming toward it. "So… there's more than one radio, but we know where it's from because of how the number… the call sign… starts." Okay. So there's multiple firelizards for each place, but they've got the bands for their place as well as their numbers. Soriana nods. Given that, sure, sometimes you're going to pay more attention to the firelizards from the place where you're expecting trouble. "How do you know if it's working?" Because, well, as far as she can tell, either it's got indicator lights, or it doesn't. "Just see if there's messages?" But what if nobody's talking? For that matter… "Is there always someone watching it at the holds? Like, if we had to send a message out to them?" For… some reason. She doesn't know, but they've got all these metaphorical firelizards - might as well put them to work!

And somehow those firelizards zipping hither and yon never crash into one another, the radio operator or get sidetracked in a snarl of firelizard convention traffic. "Each hold has a station like this," Thea explains, "with a tower for transmitting and receiving. Ours is atop the rock we're sitting inside of," and she points to a cable that snakes up the wall behind the desk, disappears through a small plate in the ceiling, then with a tilt of her head indicates the door at the end of the hallway, "There's a stairway in the archives for the technicians to access it, Jethaniel keeps the key to that one. Anyway, yes, there are multiple hand held units. Those have a smaller range and are preset to their own local frequencies. Since the number of units are limited they're issued to only to the non-riding crafters and guards ranking sergeant or journeymen and up." The questions asked are good ones and Thea smiles as she points to a rank of green lights. "Each one of these is affixed to, ahhhh, one of the radio's operations." Don't ask her which! "If any one of them turns red or is not lit, we call M'iri because it means something's probably fried. Or a storm blew the tower down. And we do an audio check with each hold because their units are also monitored 'round the clock." She pulls the mike stand closer with one hand while turning the dial to 100 , places her finger on the button, depresses it and speaks, "HH one hundered this is XW zero zero zero for a radio check, over." She lifts her finger and waits. A few beats later, loud in the quiet hall, a bored voice responds with, "XW zero zero zero we copy, HH one hundred, over."

Just imagine that the static is firelizards yelling at each other to get out of the way. Soriana glances up to the ceiling and down the hall as each is indicated, and nods. Green lights good. Red lights bad. No lights bad. Soriana can handle this, mostly because the solution to anything she can't handle seems to be 'Call M'iri, or possibly Jethaniel'. Nice and simple. (For her.) Her breath is held (so as to not produce extra static) as Thea does the radio check, and then she nods after the voice doing the other half of Dullest Job Ever answers. "So… what if something does happen?" And the dullest job ever suddenly turns to listening to a report of bandits attacking or a gigantic tidal wave. "Like, a disaster or something."

Nice and simple is as far as Thea has grasped operating the radio. Not that she couldn't learn more, buuuuuut… she lacks the proper motivation. Or maybe the time. The job is Dullsville indeed! Which is primarily why Thea hated the radio in the first place. Well, that and, as a junior, it kept her out of the action when Interesting Stuff (tm) was happening. "It depends on the scope of the disaster," she says with a smirk. "We have a protocol for that which we'll go into more depth in future lessons, but basically so as to keep the channel clear of unnecessary chatter, we don't involve the holds if it is a Xanadu crisis. We don't involve other crafts if they don't need to be That only complicates things and prompts a million questions we don't have time to answer. So things are on a need-to-know basis. Once the basic alert goes to the Weyrleaders and wings and your task will be to coordinate the efforts between responding riders and nonriders." Which isn't as simple as it sounds, but isn't too hard, either.

Maybe Soriana should plan to bring a book. It's that, or she might be forced to read through that manual just as an alternative to staring at the flickering needle for hours on end. It'd be good for her education! Buuut somehow, she suspects the tome is dry, technical, and nearly as dull as staring at the needle. It might put her to sleep, and sleeping on the job (the very very dull job)… is not a good idea. That'd probably be just the moment when it stops being dull. Somehow she's not surprised that the answer to what to do then depends - or that there's a protocol to be followed. Soriana nods, and listens to the rest of the explanation. "So… it's sort of a matter of knowing what's important. What each person needs to know." She glances to the radio, and then huhs and turns back to Thea with a look that's kind of hopeful and kind of the one kids get when trying to argue themselves into a cookie before dinner. "Seems like it'd be useful to do some drills with Galaxy, to know what's important to them during disasters."

Or there's the never-ending paperwork to keep her busy. Yay multi-tasking! "For non-emergencies, we let the crafters handle their own minor crisis, unless they require intervention from Weyr leadership. They know when to alert this station. You'd first bespeak Seryth and Taozyuth, then the queens of the other juniors, then the wingleaders of the appropriate wings in that order." She opens a drawer in the desk and removes two thin notebooks. The first she flips though while continuing. It appears to be a checklist with names. "This is the most current list of Xanadu's leaders and journeymen, the holders and headwomen of the holds in our area and finally all of Pern's leaders. You should memorize them if you haven't already." Next is a flowchart with questions or comments and arrows guiding to various boxes depending on the answer given by the radio operator. "Keep this handy and refer to it until you're comfortable with how to respond." She draws a breath, probably trying to think whether there's more (she ought to have a training step by step manual, but would she look at that?). In this pause Soriana speaks and the Weyrwoman nods. "We take part in Galaxy's drills and we'll also be doing simulated drills between the holds." Overwhelmed yet? Thea was in the beginning. "For now though, I'm going to have you monitor with me for the next four hours." Yay, on-the-job training? It's really too bad Esiae isn't doing this. She's fun and would most likely enliven radio checks and weather reports with unusual questions posed to the other stations, probably add-lib witty remarks off the air in between. Sadly, the Improv Radio course has yet to be standard M.O. Perhaps it should be?

Oh. Right. Paperwork. Joy. Emergencies! Non-emergencies. Procedures. Soriana nods to the order of alertage, then glances down the notebooks. "I'll… look them over." Has she studied such things? Yes. Is she sure she's got the full list memorized? …no, no she is not. So that'll be something else for her to do during the Dullest Job Ever, because nothing livens up the day like studying over a list of names and positions! It's like this job could be done by an automata. Oh look, there's even the boxes and lines for what program it should follow. Just hand it over to a computercrafter, and they can code something right up! Thus freeing Soriana for… oh. So the drills are part of the plan, and she's not getting away with anything by suggesting doing that. Nor will it be instead of… sitting here and monitoring. "That… makes sense," she says. And she's going to start with four hours of this? Her nod is maybe lacking a little in enthusiasm. It doesn't help that curious, sociable Luraoth is checking in with her clutchmates. What are they doing? What exciting and interesting things are they getting up to, while Soriana sits and listens to the crackle of the radio. XW000 checking in. Everything dull here. How's it by you? Also dull? Good. Talk to you again in an hour. If it were just Soriana here, she might discover Improv Radio on her own out of sheer boredom. Maybe she'll get lucky and the next shift she shadows will be with Esiae. For this one, well… she'll survive. Maybe she'll even think of a few more questions over those four hours. Then again, maybe she'll just stare at the happy green lights and the flickering needle.

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