Assumptions and Evasions

Xanadu Weyr - Weyrleaders' Office

Office and retreat, this is the domain of Xanadu's Weyrleaders. The door is in the eastern wall, quite close to the southern end while the northern wall is dominated by big, expansive windows, framed by sumptuous deep blue drapes edged with a brilliant gold braid and tied back with a thick rope of braided gold and blue cord. In between, the eastern wall is covered floor to ceiling with shelves that house all sorts of records, manuals and supplies that are used on a day-to-day basis. The southern wall has the Weyrleader's desk — plain fellis wood, well polished and masculine. From behind his desk, the Weyrleader can look straight through the windows and out onto the main airspace of Xanadu. The western wall is where the Weyrwoman's desk resides: a lovely piece of furniture made of warm cherry wood. From her seat, a glance sideways gives her an equally good prospect out the window. There are a few other seats, some comfortably arranged around a low round table for small, informal meetings while there also some that can be drawn up to one of the desks.

On the south side of the door, the space is occupied by a low oblong table where refreshments can be set without someone needing to intrude. There is also an 'incoming' tray where incoming correspondence or similar items can be left.

Xanadu's morning, as many of them have been since the earth shook to awake the Weyr a few sevens ago dawns clear and bright. It's early enough in spring that the nights are still chilly and the trees have yet to show any buds. But the rains that have plagued the area seem to be at an end and the weyrfolk, while pessimistic the skies will remain clear, are at least hopeful they will do so. The caverns are a-bustle with the post-breakfast traffic and clean-up, people making their way to various crafts and duties, the sounds echoing down the administration hallway, the scent of hot klah and fresh pastry following in the Weyrwoman's wake as she heads for the office she shares with Xanadu's new Weyrleader. She's been in earlier, unlocked and left the door ajar, so now, with neither hand free since they're occupied with pot and platter, she bumps it with a hip to further open it.

You know, you left that room open and empty…so the sight of the young Weyrleader, at his desk, nimbling flipping his fingers through paperwork while he dips his quill and then signs off on the proper spot might be something of a surprise…because he's got a mug of klah and looks like he's been there for HOURS, not a few moments! For a split second, there's a small, sea-glass green flit is there beside him, but she lets out a startled SHRIEK and is gone *between* in a flash. Xe'ter doesn't even blink; he must be used to the insane thing by now…of course, it's about then that Romth appears nearby to Seryth, looking for the morning cuddle.

Seryth is out in the clearing serenely soaking up the morning sunshine, all harnessed and ready should her rider have need of her. She's amenable to cuddling and thus greets her mate with a welcoming purr, shifting so he can curl up with her, lifting her sinuous neck to rub her head along the bronze's shoulder affectionately. As for Thea, she’s sharing the warm golden haze in her brainfrom Seryth and tummy-full from breakfast as she heads for the office. As she hip-bumps that door, her humming is cut off mid-note by the shriek and she nearly drops the klah pot. She doesn't scream though her sea green are wide when she lifts them to that desk. "And good morning to you too," is her dry-toned greeting to the empty space the thing occupied a breath ago. Platter and pot are set on that low table by the door, which is left open for the myriad problems that will soon march through it. "Morning Weyrleader," is the simple greeting as she moves with an easy pace to her own desk.

Xe'ter glances up, and then smiles a little, "Good morning, Thea." He almost singsongs it…why is the silly boy in his element in here? "Sorry about Bitsy…she's a bit wild. Probably won't see her for a sevenday now. Don't know why she stays around." He offers a slightly more charming smile, "Got a report in at dawn from the miners…they think the slopes down by Hannista are stabilizing. And we seem to be drying out…" That'll jinx it for sure.

"So I see," is Thea's mild answer regarding Bitsy, though she doesn't seem at all bothered by the thing. As she lowers herself gracefully into her chair there's a quick scan of her in tray and a brief nose-wrinkle to the overflowing documents awaiting there before her eyes lift wistfully to those large windows where blue sky beckons between pulled back drapes. "That'll please the Hannistans," she notes with a tinge of relief in the tone. It seems she's reluctant to get started for she makes no move to select anything just yet from her pile awaiting her. She's dressed for the office in blouse and skirts of midnight blue, hair twisted up, knot in place, but remarks, "Do you know if the ground out by the mines has stopped falling into that hole yet?"

Xe'ter glances up, and then pulls out a folio from the neatly organized folders on his desk, "Had a discussion with one of the wherhandlers at dawn, before they headed to bed. It's much better. They've had a couple of whers down again, and so far it doesn't seem to be shifting or have any bad air at all. But they haven't gone very deep yet. I'd give them at least another day…I trust them to know ground better than I would anyway. Let the sailors know the state of the sea and the diggers to know the state of the earth." He notes, "Unfortunately, there've been some rockslides again…the ground's so saturated up towards the mountain holds…and now the snow's melting, and the runoff is making it worse. I wouldn't be surprised if it started taking habititable areas at this rate…the cliffs are going towards the holds themselves."

Thea absorbs this news with a mixture of hope, disappointment and then foreboding for the last bit of report. "That's all we need. They're keeping those areas roped off I hope. The lower caverns here checked out fine with no cracks or rockfalls." Her lips purse, a distant expression hazes her eyes as she considers and then, "We should keep the meadow evacuated until the spring runoff dies down I guess." While he works, she props her chin in her hands, elbows on her desk and watches him idly for a few moments before asking seemingly out of nowhere, "Can you use a computer?" Note, her desk is free of one and the way she asks isn't indicative that she needs help using one either.

Xe'ter looks up like he's been asked if he'd like to slowdance with one of the feral felines! "Ah…I can probably turn one on. Why?"

Thea's lips quirk in amusement at Xe'ter's expression, but she manages not to laugh. Dropping her eyes to hide the glimmer of silent laughter therein, she reaches for the inbox, scooping up the whole stack and placing it in front of her with a visible reluctance. "Well D'son used it to keep all his wing reports, notes about the holders, the Weyr and leadership quirks, recent history and the like. It might be a useful archive for you." Her hand flicks to a large box, set over by the wall, "It's still here if you want to… have Eledri come up to show you the basics of finding files." Or he can just ask her, but then, he'd have to know the right questions to ask! She maintains a steady enough breath as she adds, "He tried to get me to use one, but that didn't turn out so well."

Xe'ter eyes the thing like it might jump up and bite him, and then he admits, "Didn't really ever get to know how to use one. My parents didn't cotton on to the idea of technology…or it's trappings. No point in having it where we were…too far out to have electricity anyway. I'll see if someone knows how to print his records out for the archives…."

Thea lifts her eyes briefly at this, her expression one of guarded interest. "Yours too? My da didn't either. Cold Stone Hold never had electricity. Still doesn't." Both tone and expression are remote at the mention of her sire but other than that there is nothing to indicate whether she approves or disapproves of this. Her eyes return to that sheet before her; she scans it, her pen marking a few changes before it's placed in the headwoman's box. Curiously, "Before Ista… where were you from?"

Xe'ter ahs a bit, "I was raised at Wroker's Seahold…it's out on the Western Ring Island…about two hundred of us, all told." Yeah, he doubts you've even heard of it. But it would explain the lingering trace of 'back of between' accent he still carries with him! "I great grandfather…he set out after the Last Fall…thought it'd come back, and he wanted to be away from the technology that was making Pern soft…took an old site that'd only been half built. Good fishing out there…and herbs. Most of our trade was herbs."

Thea hasn't, by the look on her face. "I've only been to Western a few times for hatchings and on business. Though there was this lovely waterfall on a path…" While her eyes drift back to the windows and grow soft, her mouth curves in a smile of reminiscence. A quiet chirr announces the arrival of a brown firelizard, who wings in through the door to take up a spot on the corner of her desk, breaking her reverie. With a brisk throat-clearing, she gives the next paper some scrutiny, squinting at it for several long seconds, a frown deepening as she reads. "You should see this." She rises, lifting the document and strides to his desk. "One of the surviving crewmen of the windy Waters wreck wants compensation from the Weyr for the pain and suffering and loss of work, citing us as at fault in several capabilities."

Xe'ter frowns a little at that, and then rises to come over and look, "That was the ship that went down a turn or so ago, wasn't it? Why on sharding Pern are we to be at blame?"

Thea is up and walking his way, so he intercepts her halfway there. Lifting the document, which is on official Harper Hall letterhead and signed by a journeyman from the same hall, she offers it for his perusal. "See here, it lists them." Her finger traces down the list, "Faulty workmanship by Xanadu Craftsmen on the mast repair which contributed to the ship foundering in a storm leading to the wreck…" She interrupts herself with a snort, "Much as I liked the captain, he chose to sail regardless of the impending bad weather. And it was not looking promising." Her attention returns to the list, "Rescue by Xanadu riders accomplished with carelessness and inexperience resulted in permanent injury." This last bit seems to trouble her the most.

Xe'ter scowls a little more, though it's thoughtful. His mind is like a smith's toy…takes it a bit to wind up, but once it's going…it whirrs rather smoothly, "And the Harpers have agreed to hear the case then?" He looks to see if they've indicated that or not! "Final decision to sail is always /squarely/ on the shoulders of the ship's captain." Hey, maybe it'll be a boon to have a former sailor in the Weyrleader's chair. "And he had to approve the repairs before they were signed off on, so that was also his responsibility. Now…I canna speak for the quality of the search and rescue…but I can look into it. Generally, it's bad manners to blame yer rescuers." And his sailor's accent leaks out, too. "The laws of the sea are pretty plain on that."

"Exactly!" Thea's reply is emphatic. She points to the fine print near the bottom. "They've heard the preliminary case and ruled on the mast part. Final fault lies with the Captain as he inspected and signed off on it. He oversaw the… stepping? of the mast as well. So they've cleared Xanadu on that part." Her lips form a flat, unhappy line as she scans further down the page, rereading the inquiry request about the rescue. "I was there," she admits slowly, clearly not happy with something about the way the rescue was conducted. She hurries on with a rush of almost self-defense for her attendance in a rescue, "D'son needed the larger dragons and there weren't enough bronzes in Xanadu at the time. We couldn't *Between* soaking wet folks yet the blues and greens couldn't straight fly the distance back."

Xe'ter quirks a brow, "Aye, I can imagine that was true if you had to scoop them out in a storm." He shrugs, "Generally…at least in my father's hold, if the rescuers did the best they could with what they had…then they're blameless. I wouldn't worry too much about it, Thea. Worst you're going to get is a bunch of angry sailors…and the seas of Pern are full of those."

With a handflick at the paper, relegating it to almost non-importance, the Weyrwoman shakes her head, "We did a sloppy job, Xe'ter. True, we did our best, but some of us had no idea how to do the maneuvers. D'son didn't want dragons landing in the water, so that flotsam carrying survivors didn't capsize. Several splashed down anyway. But we hadn't the techniques to get them otherwise." Her jaw is taking on a stubborn angle as she lifts her eyes to the Weyrleader. "I wanted all bronze and goldriders to have some Search and Rescue training along with the firestone and flamethrower practice we'd started, but…" She stops abruptly, frustrated.

Xe'ter holds up a hand, "But…what?" There's actually…something in his gesture, but. "If you think the Weyr was responsible, then pay out the settlement and put it behind you. If you think the Weyr was blameless, let the harpers sort it out. If we can do better next time…and you know there will be a next time…then we fix /that/ now. You can't *time* it back and fix it, or it'd already be fixed."

"Wha-?" Thea blinks up at him in some confusion, taking a few moments for the turmoil in her eyes to clear and sort out the direction Xe'ter is taking. "We were at fault, though the Weyr shouldn't have to pay much. I'm not worried about that. We housed the survivors, paid their healer care and saw them home, gave others positions on our fishing fleet." With a short, mirthless laugh she assures him, "I'm not even considering Timing it. Once doing that in my lifetime was enough! I nearly got lost." She leaves the paper with him, steps away two paces only to turn back and answer his first question. "I… didn't suggest it," she admits quietly, chin lifting in an almost defiant gesture.

Xe'ter lets his hand fall, "Exactly. So. Let's just let the Harpers sort it out…then. Sounds like ammends have already been made as best they can. The Harpers know Xanadu's situation. It's not like we have marks coming out of our ears to pay this accusation off anyway." He takes a breath, "And I think it's a good idea…a very good idea…if we all had /some/ search and rescue training. Especially the big dragons."

"It would," Thea agrees readily enough although there's no enthusiasm in the words. Her eyes remain clouded, troubled. "We can add the basic training to drills and the goldriders' flamerthrower drills so that when something comes up, they can join a rescue effort if needed." They. Not we.

Xe'ter cocks his head, a little…as if he caught it, "You're a goldrider too, Thea…" As if she needed the reminder! "You wouldn't exempt yourself from what you made the others do?"

One might think she'd give him an odd look for that reminder at the very least, or an 'I know!' at the most. But she does neither. "I would train," Thea responds without any hesitation but also without any energy or enthusiasm, taking a step towards her desk and reaching for a blank sheet of paper. This is the woman who couldn't wait to see what was in that hole and wanted to go in during the pitch-black night.

From Xe'ter there is another long, quiet silence. He's…examining the Weyrwoman, as if he might bore into her head and SEE what's going on in there. But then…he lets it go, going back to his paperwork…it's several moments of silence, before he notes, "Been a fair amount of just…odd activity going around all over Pern. I thought I got all the juicy news as a delivery rider."

Thea, meanwhile has gone 'round her desk, seated herself and taken up a pen only to stare at the blank sheet before her in sightless fashion. The order remains hanging in the air between them rather than being printed out on paper and it's with difficulty that she pulls her mind away from where it's gone to attend what her Weyrleader is saying. The look she gives him is perplexed, "Juicy news?" She's not following.

Xe'ter holds up a stack of smaller, less important bits of paper. "Scandals with ovines. Troves of Marks found, belonged to dead Renegades. Naked people plaguing Balen Hold. Crop failures near Ierne."

Thea blinks at Xe'ter in disbelief for all of two seconds before her mouth curves in a grin. With a snort, "Please tell me the ovines are all scandalizing Ista because Xanadu has had enough ovine plague to last a lifetime!" If he's been to Xanadu’s Wandering Wherry Tavern, he's seen the tapestry hanging above the bar, disturbingly memorable because there is a sheep in flames running across it. She eyes his papers and chuckles before adding, "Can't believe they bother you by sending those reports, though I'm sure Ocelara can find something useful from them."

Xe'ter laughs a little, "I hope so…and nay, I think Ista's had enough ovine plagues themselves. There was a monster ram running loose a turn or so ago…knocked Ryni over and broke her thigh while she was heavily pregnant." He snorts, looking to see the location of the sheep, "Ne'er even heard of the place. I don't think it's part of our coverage area. Must have been sent to me by mistake."

Thea almost growls, "Sharding Ovines! Now see, this is why I advise fellis-soaked grain in a bucket for times like that. Was the babe alright?" Obviously there's some long-held ire held towards rampaging sheep. Her attention drops to her paper and for several minutes she remains in deep thought. A quiet murmur caps the end of what is probably an internal debate, "I have to think of the Weyr first." Her pen begins to scratch across that page, until it stops and silence once again settles on the room. Finally, without looking up, she says quietly, "He's your Weyrsecond and you'll find out all too soon - he'll comply, but he's not going to like this order."

Xe'ter glances up, and then chuckles a little, "He's a good weyrsecond. You said that much. But the fact is…he has to think of the Weyr too." He pauses a moment, and then just flat out asks, "Did you handfast to him, Thea?" That forbidden thing…he knows it happens, sometimes, in secret.

Thea nods a wholehearted agreement, "He's no more fond of the paperwork than I am, and might drag his feet getting it in to you, but." She has no problem with the man's work ethic. She's in the process of signing her name to the document as the Weyrleader speaks of handfasting, her pen goes awry when she lifts her head to stare at him. There's no subterfuge in the ice green glints of her eyes, but there is a hint of a warning when she asks evenly, "What kind of question is that?"

Xe'ter cocks his head back, and then politely apologizes. At least it's genuine, "I meant no insult, Weyrlady. He does have a certain…air." He notes, "And sometimes, it seems as if you're afraid of him. Or…something. If my father'd treated my mother that way, she'd've had his ears tied to a mainsail in a gale…and they were married."

Dangerously quiet now, "What sort of air?" Thea glances down at her paper, frowns at the mess she made of her signature then lifts her gaze to pierce him with. Before he can respond, she adds with the same even-toned quiet, "I am not your mother, nor am I afraid of him." But of course Weyr rumors are the last to reach the ears of the one they're about - especially if that one is the Weyrwoman. She's listening, with a stillness he's probably not seen in her yet.

Xe'ter glances up again…thoughtfully, and then apparently takes his life in his hands. What's the worst she can do, really? Throw him in a cell? "Do you think it's proper…that a weyrwoman is obeying the desires of a weyrsecond?" He puts his pen down, "I'm a stranger here still, I know. But I do sit and listen…and shells, Thea, the rumors run even at Ista. I suggested you train with the rest of the goldriders…and bronzeriders…so we wouldn't have another incident like the ship…and you shut up like I'd accused a holder's wife of flirting with the staff." Suddenly, his blue-grey eyes are seeking, unflinching. He's young, and apparently Ista didn't beat all of his life out of him. "You were the one wanting to explore the caves before 'he' found out…you think I'm not going to notice?"

She could crossbow shoot him dump his body down an abandoned mineshaft? There's no attempt interrupt Xe'ter. Thea hears him out with the same statue-like immobility, allowing the silence to stretch. It could be she simply needs time to respond, it could be the calm before the storm, although if he's listened to folks talk much, he'll already know she isn't one to throw things and scream. With a carefully neutral tone, "What rumors exactly?" No, she doesn't bother to answer his question about obedience, though she does say, "Training will not be the larger problem."

Xe'ter is either blissfully unaware that he's treading on troubled ground…or he's doing this towards some purpose. "If the training will not be, then what will?"

Thea doesn't move, "What rumors?" She repeats, waiting perhaps for him to hang himself so she won't have to explain.

Xe'ter folds his hands very purposefully, "That D'had, in the end, wears the weyrwoman's knot at Xanadu now that you're Senior." And he doesn't mean the same way Cenlia wears S'gam's knot every time she steals it. "It's…troubling. Because I like you a great deal…and think you're probably a stronger woman than that…but the very fact that you equivocate, or refuse, or balk when it's brought up…or give me the tunnelsnake on a nest of eggs stink eye…th harpers have a saying…the lady protests too much."

"Excuse me? There's been no protesting, but Xe'ter I'd hope you are more intelligent than to believe rumors!" Said oh-so-quietly but emphatically nonetheless. One hand makes a sweeping motion that consigns the rumor-mongers to non-importance. At last some irritation shows on her face, "You've never seen me running to him for decisions on running the Weyr, nor have I ever asked you to seek his permission to decide anything regarding the Wings." She draws a deep breath, finishing with, "I listen to his input on wings just as he listens to mine on dealing with the holders diplomatically. I am not a dictator!" Snort.

Xe'ter quirks a brow up. "No. You're a Weyrwoman." And then he shrugs…cool as the touch of Romth's silken black mindtouch. If that dragon of his put him up to it. He shrugs…fine. It's out in the open…and he seems strangely willing to leave it at that, too. He glances at his papers again, and then folds the folders shut. "I think I need some fresh air." Oddly, it almost sounds like an invitation. Walks can do wonders. "And maybe to go look at that hole myself before Ers'lan or anyone else falls in it again."

"Xe'ter." Thea makes no move to rise, but seeks to delay the departure if she can. Her tone carries the weariness of a decision long-past and accepted. "It's a personal thing I'm not sure you'll understand. He's old-school. Niva ran the Weyr old-school. I'm hold-bred to a sire who ran his hold with an iron fist and demanded compliance." She laughs shortly, "Oh I know I'm Weyrwoman. The… step up has thrown a twist into my relationship with D'had that we're still working through." She eyes the door in a way that clearly says she wishes it was closed rather than open. "We didn't even train the Weyrlings with firestone until six turns ago. When D'son wanted to train the junior weyrwomen to use flamethrowers… it didn't go down well."

Xe'ter frowns for just a moment, and then notes, "That's sharding stupid in so many ways." Well, how do you really feel about that, Xe? "I know Ryni doesn't think well of this place, and I sharding well know my fostermother hated it here…but I also know how you feel about a place has a lot to do with what…you learn there." He pauses a moment, "Aye, and your sire and my sire might well like each other. They had me betrothed to some fat girl that sat around and simpered and batted her lashes and not much else…and she thought grey was a 'racy' color. No, I know about hidebound fools for relations. Hold-bred's not an excuse at a Weyr. Craft-bred's not an excuse. A Weyr's a weyr…an' like it or not, you cotton on to the way Weyrs do things! Golds lead and bronzes follow…if Niva ran the weyr old school, she'd've had the golds up learning flamethrowers as soon as it was safe…even /we/ learned to use flamethrowers!" He taps his chest, in disbelief! "So we'd know how to teach the next generation of them. We learned to chew 'stone, even if there's no Thread…that's old-fashioned! And we learned to salute, and say yes and no ma'am…and sir. And to respect the rank as well as the rider…that's old fashioned. What we didn't learn was how to cripple a gold…otherwise she might as well be a wher!" Ooh…is he ranting a little? Maybe just a little.

Firmly, "Whether I agree with the past Weyrwoman's decisions are not up for discussion, Xe'ter! We weren't using firestone and that was Niva's decision. D'son reasoned other uses for it and she agreed. She agreed the queens were to train on flamethrowers." The word train heavily emphasized. She gives him a patient look for his outburst, but towards the end of it rises from her chair, "You think I don't know about excuses?" Not heated by any means but emphatic, maybe a touch bitter when she says, "Old school is that golds have their place in continuing dragonkind and to risk their safety chasing renegades or fighting forest fires is negligent." His words 'cripple a gold' bring sudden bright tears and she turns away to the window, leaning her forehead against the cool pane. "I think it's stupid to hate a place because of one person, but I'm well aware people hated Niva. She… had her faults, I'll agree. But running a Weyr is NOT an easy thing."

Xe'ter glances at the paperwork on the desk, and for a moment, his youth really…really shows, "I'm learning that, Thea. Fast as I can, I'm learning THAT." He takes a breath, and then notes, "I'm still in need of a walk…and I am going down to have a look at the hole. No, I will not go to the edge and look in if I'm by myself. Unless, of course, you'd prefer if I just tossed myself in and saved you the trouble." There's a sardonic chuckle…"

"That won't be necessary." When Thea turns away from the window, her eyes glitter but she remains composed. A half-smile tugs at her lips but doesn't reach her eyes. She's sensitive enough to note Xe'ter's expression, understanding his frustration. Gently, "Go have your walk then. I'll hold down the fort here. We'll talk later. There's- you have the right to know some things." As for her, she turns back to the window to resume her Weyr viewing, eyes seeing little of the lovely day, a sadness playing about her mouth and eyes. Out in the clearing, Seryth is enjoying her sunshine-snuggle as much as she ever has been since Romth joined her, flopped over one her side, neck twined with his, her tailtip twitching to tickle his now and then. Blissfully unaware. Or simply not worried.

Continues in Worse Case Scenario

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