Looking Towards The Stars

Xanadu Weyr - Observatory

At some distance through the fields and hills, up atop a steep ridge there's a rather distinctive looking building - nearing three stories tall, circular grey walls have carefully been erected, and a large dome is settled upon this solid foundation. Sitting adjacent to the tower is a long, low building, meant to serve as offices, record rooms and dorms for those who man the observatory. The flat roof also provides a handy platform for those who seek to use smaller, hand-held 'scopes. The view of Xanadu Weyr is a good one; the view of the night sky is an amazing, a view that reaches from horizon to horizon,unaffected by the light pollution of the more heavily traveled regions.

At dusk, the dome over the central telescope parts and scrolls back to allow the scope to extend towards the heavens. The computer console with all the knobs and buttons controls focus and position as well as projecting onto the extra large screen placed high enough for all to clearly see it. Around the perimeter are seats for onlookers to join the nightly sessions.

Off to one side is a short corridor leading to several offices for the masters and journeymen Starsmiths and one main workroom for scribes, full of star charts and tomes of astronomical knowledge and orbital physics.

The sun has set over Xanadu Weyr, for real, and the moons and stars are bright in the darkened sky. The starcrafters of Xanadu putter about the observatory on their nightly tasks, checking the controls, polishing lenses, and pouring over the star charts. N'kon is with the journeyman manning the telescope controls this evening, one hand laid casually on the back of the young woman's chair as he watches the video screen where the telescope's output is being cast. "There," he says suddenly, and she stops the scope, glancing at a screen and making note of the readings. "There," he repeats, tracing a hand in the air as if drawing lines between the stars featured prominently for observation.

It's night, but not quite late enough to be expected in the candidate barracks, meaning that there is a young woodcrafter who slips in through the doors and skirts the room, hazel eyes wide as he tries to take in everything…all at once…that the main room of the observatory has to offer. Given the look of wonder, fascination, and curiosity on his face, it's safe to say that Mathis had never been here before. Quietly he tucks himself somewhere out of the way, hands placed on the back of a bench near the entrance, watching the people go about their business, attention drawn towards the sudden voice that cuts through the ambient sounds already present. Spotting the techcrafter, he glances between him and the seated woman before his gaze lifts towards the screen displaying what they were monitoring. Stars. A clump of stars. Tilting his head slightly to one side, he peers long and hard as if trying to figure out what could be so exiting.

"I dunno, Niko, doesn't this one suit better?" The journeyman scans the telescope across the sky, showing off a different starfield. The photographer purses his lips, stepping back to study it. "That's the Wain, though," he states finally, tracing the imaginary lines that make up the constellation. "The other one is the Dragon's Eye. I mean, I'm as fond of wagons as the next hoarder, but don't you think a constellation of a… well, dragon's eye is a more appropriate subject? Tcha," he hisses, planting his fists on his bony hips as he surveys the screen with disatisfaction. "Honestly, neither suits. I'm not feeling monochromatic these days. Space needs more color." He glances towards the scant audience enjoying the nightly view of the Xanaduvian sky and his eye alights on a white knot. "You. Candidate. Which one do you like better?"

Honestly, Mathis had no idea what they were talking about up there, but that didn't mean he didn't look absolutely enraptured. Eyes darting from woman to man and back again, following the conversation with the occasional glance back towards the display screen. So busy is he in trying to figure out what he was supposed to be seeing, that he startles entirely at the N'kon's 'You' which comes much more abruptly than the previous flow of language. Immediately he is frozen in place, staring, and then rather robotically he angles an arm so that he can point at himself. "Me?" What on Pern? A quick glance around reveals that the rider couldn't possibly mean anyone else (he was looking RIGHT at him and so was pretty much everyone else now that they were alerted to his position) and might even pale because of it. This was a lot more attention than he'd ever bargained for. Swallowing thickly, he exhales a breath and starts to slink out of his hiding place, giving soft apologies as he makes his way forward to get a closer look. Giving the Wain a long and hard stare down, he gestures a little awkwardly in a rewind fashion, "Can you go back to the other one?"

Looking amused, the journeyman starcrafter obligingly swings the telescope around, returning it to the previous position. "See?" Niko circles his arm, pointing out the grouping of stars that make up what might loosely be considered a dragon's whirling eye. A trick of the atmosphere combined with the distinctive blue hue of several of the stars make it seem as if the entire grouping is lazily twinkling much like a contented dragon's eye might. "The Dragon's Eye. It's… more apropos than the Wain, but still…" He trails off, huffing. "You know, what we need is a good hurricane." Ignoring the incredulous grunt from his companion, he begins pacing. "Well?" One storm-blue eye drops to Mathis, russet eyebrow arching expectantly.

Mathis is patient, waiting for the first collection of stars to reappear, but he only gets a few seconds to appreciate and weigh his options before N'kon gets in there with his arm in there and starts making shapes. Again, he tilllllllllts his head to one side and even squints before slowly nodding his head in apparent very deep consideration. "I see it," comes, applying his teeth to the flesh of his bottom lip and nibbling it for a time. His gaze cuts off suddenly towards the rider as he starts using words that make no sense to him at all, and his eyes follow that pacing back and forth for several moments. "Yeah, I don't know what that means…" Brows lift at mention of needing inclement weather, blinking several times. What? Why? But he doesn't ask, instead, "…I like the dragon eye one better…the other is sort of boring." Shoulders are lifted and dropped, offering up a crooked grin of helplessness, because what could N'kon expect from a woodcrafter who looked like he was barely into his teens.

Exhaling deeply, Niko affords Mathis with an expression that seems caught between fondness and exasperation. "They're both interesting in their own way, it's a matter of appropriateness. A wain is… common. And while I deeply appreciate the usefulness of a cart to a trader or a farmer, it's not really an… inspirational sight. The Dragon's Eye. The Weyrwoman. The Lord Holder. The Spire." He waves a hand across the air, indicating with its sweep the vast night sky outside. Behind him, the starcrafter laughs into her hand, then reaches out to swat Niko's hip. "The boy has no idea what you're doing," she points out helpfully. Blinking, the techcrafter stares at her, then turns to study the Candidate anew. "Oh. I'm going to experiment with double exposure, combining real-life scenes with constellations to show how the Ancients found the pictures in the stars." Because that's a terribly helpful explanation when Pern's experience with cameras and photography is limited to a scant handful of techcrafters and some experimental technology.

Uh oh. Not quite sure what to make of that deep sigh or that mixed expression, Mathis stares openly at N'kon as if the rider had lost his mind, a bit of nervousness seeping into his features as he exchanges looks with the Journeyman Starcrafter. That wide sweeping gesture draws his attention back to him, looking as if he was trying very hard to remain absolutely still and not make any sudden movements, as if he'd heard that's what incites lunatics to attack. Painting a polite smile onto his face, he tries to hide the fact that yes, the woman was right. Partially. "Um…hi…sorry…I'm not a boy actually, I'm almost fourteen," is interjected as gently as he could manage, waving a hand apologetically and dismissive along with a matching expression to indicate that the madness could continue now if they so wished. Hip slaps and a translation later, Mathis ahhh's and nods, "You're talking about those techcraft things that capture still images right?"

Another sigh. "Ever so ancient," Niko murmurs, biting back his smile. "I'm talking about - yes," the bluerider decides, "I'm talking about those things that make pictures. Precisely, I'm talking about a specific technique when making those pictures. Basically - or as basically as I can manage - I take a picture - or, rather, series, until I've used up the film. Then I reuse the film, so that the next series of pictures I take are superimposed on the first." He gestures towards the screen, with its twinkling stars. "First, the woman. Then, The Weyrwoman." He eyes Mathis thoughtfully, perhaps hoping to see a glimmer of comprehension in the boy's eye.

There is no indication that Mathis heard that murmur other than the way that his brows twitch slightly upwards, soon back to smiling politely and listening intently. As N'kon goes on, he nods and seems to be giving what he says thought, eyes sliding off towards the screen as its gestured to and then back to the man presenting. "Would it matter if you took a picture of the star formation first and then woman? Would that make a difference to the final result?" If the bluerider was looking for comprehension, he'd found it, in spades. Not only did he get it, he looked fascinated by the process. He might not fully understand the entire process or how this picture taking worked on a technical level, but the rest he appears to have an inkling. Imagination, it was power.

"It would change the composition," Niko replies, eyebrows climbing upwards as Mathis seems to grasp the general concept. Thoughtful, the bluerider tucks his hip against the console, crossing his arms as he regards the Candidate. "We're still learning the intricacies of the concept, but in general, the picture you take first is the background - the color, as it were. The second shot defines the shape of the shot." There's a reason that the Hall didn't particularly complain when the bluerider took on his own weyrmate as an apprentice; clearly, he enjoys a bit of teaching. "There's a bit more technicality to it - lighting and metering and exposure and what not - but in general… yes. If I want to show the picture in the stars, I need to photograph the model first, then the stars - the model gives the color, the stars give the shape. If I want to show the correlation between fantasy and reality, I'd reverse it."

The woodcrafter nods once for the answer to his question, "That makes sense," he agrees even as he's shifting his weight from one foot to the other at first, but following a twitch and general look of unease he propels himself forward as to align himself onto the same level as both bluerider and Journeyman starcrafter, finding himself a seat and plunking himself down into it. Ahh, so much better, "Okay." Another nod, and after he's pressed his lips together for a time, hazel eyes shift back to the screen of stars and atmosphere, "I guess there would have to be adjustments, because if you're taking a picture of something with lighter tones and then something with darker tones…the darker tones would cover it up wouldn't it?" Back to N'kon his gaze goes, inquisition unmatched in his features. "How do you line everything up the way you want it? I mean, it's great to take two pictures on top of one another but I get this sense that you've got something specific in mind and that would sorta require the composition to be just right."

"Planning. Planning, planning, and more planning. And a whole lot of test shots, some careful calculations, and the help of my dear friend here," Niko drawls, nudging the other journeyman with the toe of his boot. She swats companionably at his leg, then smiles towards the Candidate. "What he means is, we have records upon records that help us calculate the exact location, pitch, and orientation of any star - or group of stars - on a given night. We can use that information to help him plan out how the model should be shot." The bluerider continues to watch Mathis thoughtfully. "It's a whole lot of work for something that may or may not ever turn out right. But that's how you learn new techniques, and this one happens to be my pet project at the moment."

From the looks of it, as N'kon begins to explain the process, Mathis had a lot to say but his mouth just opens and closes along the way without actually interjecting anything. His eyes do move from techcrafter to starcrafter and back again throughout all that playful banter, at which point a crooked smile appears upon his face, but he doesn't actually comment on this either. A nod is given to them, each in turn as he sits there with no fading of interest, his legs spread and hands curled into the space this provides between on the chair beneath him. At the very end, he chuckles, "I was going to say, that does seem like a lot of work, but…it also sounds like you're really excited about it too. I think, as long as you're learning something and having fun along the way, there's no such thing as failure." Suddenly something akin to realization strikes and he brightens, if only to dim back to sheepishness as he extends a rigid arm forward towards them both, "Uh, Mathis, apprentice woodcrafter and candidate. It's nice to meet you!" Cue the blinding show of too many teeth in a broad face splitting grin.

N'kon refrains from saying 'I know' - but only barely. After all, Mathis would hardly be aware of just how much knowledge the photographer has about the Candidate class. Instead, he merely flashes a grin towards the apprentice and inclines his head. "N'kon - Niko - journeyman techcrafter, photographer, and Tsazriath's sounding post when Iczobyth gets too witty for her own good, and the feeling is quite mutual." At his side, the starcrafter snorts, then offers her own introduction as simply, "Karliee, journeyman. And," she adds, nudging Niko off of her console, "needing to get to work. If you want to keep stargazing, you'll need to take one of the smaller scopes up on the roof. We need to start doing some weather charting." Laughing, the bluerider allows himself to be shooed off, although he doesn't indicate any desire to head upstairs. Instead, he takes a seat near Mathis. "What kind of woodwork are you most interested in?"

Who knows what sort of turn would have been taken away from otherwise perfectly lovely first meeting by using the words 'I know' in response to an introduction. Mathis knew only as much about the bluerider as he's learned in the short time since he'd entered the observatory and was plucked from the meager offerings to help him decide which image to use for the next step in his project. His extended hand remains thus until its clear it wasn't going to be taken by either of the Journeyman, fingers curling back in against his palm and dropped back down beside the other against his seat. There was no way that the woodcrafter knew every dragon pairing in the weyr or to whom they might associate, even if he had the time to pay attention, but files away the names as he goes. A smile and nod to both N'kon and Karliee in turn as they introduce themselves, quiet as the woman seeks to return to work and so gives all his attention to the man as he comes over and asks him about his craft, not wanting to bother her while she did hers. "Carving, I kinda do what you do, but with wood. I'm told my stuff has it's own style, but…" Shoulders are lifted and dropped in a light shrug. "I try to get as close to real life as I can."

If Mathis only knew Niko as well as some people in this Weyr, what comes next would be of no surprise to him. "Carving? Huh. I will keep that in mind," the bluerider replies thoughtfully, storm-blue eyes alight with pleasure. "I'm always looking for someone who can work wood." Despite her claims of work, it seems Karliee is overcome with a spate of coughing that triggers an answering one of Niko's own. "Minx," he growls at her, then abruptly stands. "Sha - ah, Mathis, please don't let this be a reflection on our conversation. I've quite enjoyed it." At least he doesn't favor the Candidate with the same goodbye as Risali and Ricki - and D'lei! - often suffer. Rather, he winks and finger-guns at the apprentice, then abruptly bounds out of the observatory. Without even looking up, the starcrafter murmurs, "I wonder if he does that to his weyrmate when he's done pleasing her." Nearby, one of the other starcrafters begins to choke on his laughter.

Perhaps it's best that Mathis does not know N'kon as well as other people in the weyr did, or possessed the knowledge base to understand the meaning behind all the metaphor. Ignorant, the woodcrafter sits there, smiling and nodding like an idiot with just the tiniest edge of confusion beyond the bluerider's mention of keeping his interests in mind. Yep, right over his golden brown haired head. Eyes move to and affix to the abruptness of that standing position, "Oh, don't worry about it. I was the one who interrupted you." By showing up in the first place. As for the winking and the odd L-shape the man makes with his fingers at him, the teen's eyebrows shoot upwards in unison, leaving him blinking and utterly perplexed. What the ships and sails did that mean? What did any of it mean? He'd probably understood maybe half of all that, the starcrafter's murmured comment doesn't shed light on that either, but something tells him that maybe staying in the dark wasn't necessarily a bad thing. "Excuse me," he mutters, abandoning his chair and scooting towards the door himself, requiring some distance between himself and all that weirdness. Maybe, just maybe, he was second guessing this whole growing up thing. Adults were strange.

Add a New Comment
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License