Worse Case Scenario

Continued from Assumptions and Evasions

Xanadu Weyr - Old Forest Sinkhole


A wide maw has opened in the forest here, sending earth and trees tumbling into the abyss. Vines and shrubs cling to the sides of the dark hole, the bottom of which is far below. The pungent scent of earth and splintered wood rises moistly out of the cavernous pit. At night there's really nothing to see. Should one have a light, or a wher with them, or be here in the daytime they'd know that huge, squared boulders that once both lined walls and formed arch supports lie tumbled upon a stone floor and there seems to be a tunnel entering and exiting either side. Even in daylight though, these can be barely discerned due to the dimness

The entire area has been cordoned off with ropes and warning signs not to get too close to the unstable edges. Constructed of wood with railing on either side is a temporary stairway, more resembling a ladder than staircase, affixed to the side and floor below providing the way down to the bottom.

It hasn't been more than an hour since the 'discussion' in the office, but Thea apparently cannot get her mind into paperwork, for she has chosen not to wait until the Weyrleader returns but has come seeking him. She's changed from her skirt and blouse, slipping into the leathers she keeps in the office, foregoing her jacket as the spring day is mild enough for her sleeveless shirt. It's still damp enough to be muddy in some spots and she's not really trying to sneak up on him (with a hole there, that's probably wise), so the sound of boots squelching and sticks snapping might give warning to her approach. Though it wouldn't be far-fetched for Seryth to have tattled to Romth as to where hers is going. It's a thoughtful-looking expression on the Weyrwoman's face as she nears the sinkhole. "Xe'ter?" And an attempt at levity, "Don't jump!"

Xe'ter peers down into the edge of the hole…the edge has finally stablized a bit…but not much. "Well…if we keep up the dry weather, I think this will be safe enough to send people down in there soon, Thea…but I don't know. I think we should send the miners first…with the whers." He grins as he rises up from where he was crouching, his hand on a rope, "I wondered what took you so long." He's smiling again, a bit…

Thea manages a half-smile in return, stepping closer to peer down over the edge. "Probably wise to do that, yes." She gives him an unreadable look for that last comment as she glances around, spotting that downed tree that may have unknowlingly spared Pern from Ers'lan's future progeny. Settling with ease upon the trunk, drawing one leg up to prop her chin on it, she stares into the abyss. "I'm not sure where to start," she says finally, very softly, looking pained. She's silent for a few breaths, then drawing a long one she says, "I didn't always agree with Niva's ways but I respected her. I still do. It goes against the grain for me to criticize her. But you should know that she had a temper and things have not always been easy between our beholden areas and the other Weyrs because of it. You'll hear some grouching from some of the Lords while out on holder visitation if you haven't already."

Xe'ter glances up, as if he's surprised the topic's been opened again. But then he shrugs, "I heard about Niva. I mean…I was introduced to her a couple of times when I was making deliveries…but I'd heard about her. I guess she and my fostermother had it out when Casiella was a Weyrwoman here."

Thea stifles the apology that rises to her lips for that surprise, a slight headshake aimed at herself, but she says firmly, "No, this needs to be said, Xe'ter. I shut down on you back there and it isn't right. You should know this." She makes a helpless gesture about Casiella, murmuring, "I never knew her. She'd gone by the time I arrived." Trying not to look miserable about what she's about to say, she continues, "After I impressed, I used to wonder what the point was for all-" a hand gesture takes in the entire Weyr in general, "-they seemed to want to do was party, get drunk and fight. No one seemed to have any real purpose. The one person who-" her breath catches and she makes herself finish, "-felt the same way I did… disappeared."

Xe'ter glances up, and then nods a little; perhaps he's heard that story more than once….in different ways from different people. But he doesn't intrude, settling to listen, instead of just standing there, staring a little off into space, pretending to listen like so many typically do.

He might have heard rumors but Thea isn't one to talk about this one, not even to friends. So there's likely little truth and perhaps a lot of speculation in what he has overheard. "It wasn't easy," she adds, flicking him a quick look, frowning just a bit before continuing, Perhaps unaware that she is even doing it. "I threw myself into my work, Ista had that horrible earthshake and I was arrested with D'son and S'gam - he was Sigam then - for trespassing because Ysa and Niva were feuding. We spent a month in Ista's prison. When I got back, I wasn't the same. D'had noticed I wasn't laughing or smiling anymore."

There isn't a scowl, exactly, but a shadow crosses over his features. For just that moment.
He is quite genuine, though, in the pause, when he slips in a very soft, "I am so very sorry that happened to you…Ysa was my Weyrwoman when I Impressed." And she was apparently none too easy for him, either.

Of Ysa, "She was…my friend once." This stark comment seems to pull Thea into a place she'd rather not go; regret, futility, betrayal and it is with difficulty she steers clear. With a swift, strained smile, she nods, grateful for his sentiment, "We finally were able to meet last turn and make our peace with one another, after I became Weyrwoman." There is a genuine relief for that in her voice, but the keen look she gives Xe'ter says she hasn't gotten to the heart of it yet. "I know you're new and you've had a lot to learn and adjust to, but you're mistaken if you think I take orders from D'had in leading this Weyr. I'm sorry the rumors have mislead or otherwise muddied things; you should have come to me for clarification sooner." She softens that with a self-depreciating laugh. "I /might/ have told you what's the deal." Though she hasn't actually gotten to it yet!

Again, the slight nod from him, though now he's LISTENING…as if he were riveted by a tale told by a verbose and talented Harper. Go on! He is listening to you.

Thea could be a harper for the matter-of-fact way she relates the next bit of information. There's no censure in her tone, simply a sharing of fact the way she knows it, how she's learned it is supposed to go: "When I am training with the flamethrower I am under the direction of the Wingleader for the Search and Rescue Wing because I haven't HAD any S&R training. Where's the sense in having me lead the wing? The few times I've flown with S&R I've led nothing. I followed D'son's leadership, who also led S&R for turns." She takes a deep breath, glass-green eyes seeking his as she finishes earnestly, "But you need to know something: D'had is WeyrSECOND. He was out there with the wings training with them daily before I was barely a five turn old. He was Wingleader for S&R for five turns before being tapped for Weyrsecond and has continued to maintain that wing without a problem since. He's flown with it for more turns than I care to say prior to coming to Xanadu. He is, in all capabilities WeyrLEADER when the Weyrleader isn't able to function. That's what he's been trained to do. He acknowledges and respects my rank but I also trust his jugement. I would be a fool not to. In the end though, in the majority of cases after weighing and considering the options, it is a joint decsion between the Weyrleader and I as to what course of action we take. He knows and accepts that." She coughs, adding quietly, "Save for but one area."

Xe'ter quirks his brow up just a bit, but doesn't comment. Perhaps he has no reason to…or he's heard the somewhat…rehearsed tone to her voice. But his eyes are still more soft than not.

It's a long time before Thea speaks again. Her gaze is affixed to that hole and when she resumes her tale, her voice is barely audible, "D'had didn't want to love again. Ever. When he was about your age, his young lady drowned and he couldn't save her. He felt responsible and blamed himself. He went into a spiral of drinking to forget." Her mouth forms a flat, unhappy line remembering, "He was the Weyr drunk. The flirt, the one who couldn't let anyone close ever and so one night stands was all he-" She swallows hard, continuing, "That all changed when he decided to let the past go. Only," she lifts troubled eyes to his and finishes, "The past won't let him go."

There is that long quiet again, before Xe'ter does speak, "Does he see her in you? Or does he whisper to you that if you go, he will fall back into that same spiral?"

"He's never burdened me with that!" Thea is emphatic as she denies it, clearly she means it, "You love someone, you see them broken, you don't ever want to see it again!" She draws a steadying breath, calms enough to say the next with a quiet-toned, "You assume much, Xe'ter. I saw how he was when our sailboat capsized and he pulled me out of the sea. When I slipped and fell down the icy ravine and took months to recover from the head injury I got." She shifts on that ill-fated log to face him more squarely, "He just… doesn't want me in harm's way if I don't -have- to be there. And I try…" She's wry as she admits, "He says I get into enough trouble on my own." Which. If Xe'ter sticks around, he'll likely see for himself.

Xe'ter nods a little, and considers for a few moments, "You're a hard read. Though…it seems you've managed to survive despite your troubles." He chuckles, but perhaps there is a bit of trouble behind his eyes. "So," he waits only a moment or two, "Do you want to have a look down there before I do the responsible thing and send in the whers and miners first?" He cannot be serious, can he?

Thea doesn't slap her forehead and eye the young Weyrleader in amazement, but you KNOW it's there in her eyes, that want-to-slap forehead and facepalm look that says, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? For a moment she just stares at him, then ever so longingly peeks at that ladder-stair. She just finished telling him she wouldn't put the Weyrsecond through the stress of her endangerment and yet she's wrestling with the temptation to do just that. "I had an excuse the other night when I fell in…" she muses. Her eyes dance as she looks back to him and wonders aloud, "We could trip at the edge. Or… you could… tell him I annoyed you enough that you threw me in?" She smirks, as she adds, "He'd believe you!"

Xe'ter shrugs, just a bit, "You seem to have gotten in trouble when you were mostly alone, yes? Or when it was just you and he? I'm right here…what's the worst that could happen? If we fall down the ladder, the dragons call for help. If we get lost, the dragons will call for help. If you want to blame me…that you followed to try and talk me out of something bullheaded? I'm sure he'd believe you."

With a bit of a sheepish grin, Thea admits, "D - all of the above?" Alone, with him, without him… yeah she's managed to find trouble if it didn't find her first. And don't ever ask her what's the worst that can happen!!! Becauuuuuse worst-case scenarios happen all too frequently to her for some reason. "Oh he'd believe you all right. Then he'd growl at BOTH of us for going in there. Do you think he /wants/ to lead the Weyr while you lie in the infirmary?!" Okay, she's thinking cave-in, but maybe perhaps a wee bit about the drinking D'had is sure to go back to if he does have to step up should his squeaky-new Weyrleader get incapacitated.

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