Chap. 205 Unusual partner
“Hello, the weyr, K’ndar, are you home?” Glyena, his sister’s voice echoed in the interior tunnel.
“Come on in, sis!”
Entering his weyr, she passed him at his desk and made her way to Raventh’s couch. Siskin, perched atop the brown dragon, chirped a welcome.
“Good day, Raventh, and you, Siskin,” she said.
Raventh rumbled, gently.
“My,” K’ndar said, “someone’s been learning protocol,” he said. He hugged the girl.
She smirked. “Shirae says the customs are changing but it’s always good manners to be polite.”
“She’s right. Civility costs nothing,” he said, pulling out the chair to his desk. She stood, instead, looking over his shelf of books. He felt a very odd feeling of possessiveness. A hangover from the days of the evil Jenmay, who’d have burnt the books in a moment? It’s my sister, he thought, knock it off.
She took several down.
“Wow, K’ndar, so many books! Geology. Biology. Animals!!” she said, ruffling the pages of the top one.
“You’re welcome to come and read them,” he said. It was an effort. His books were the most valuable thing he owned. Where did this selfishness come from? he wondered. She’d never hurt them.
“It’s okay, K’ndar, I can go to the library, it has the very same books. You brought ’em, remember?”
“I know. Want to sit down?”
“No, I wanted to show you something,” she said. She carefully replaced the books. “You need to dust that shelf”, she said, absently, as she rummaged around in her pouch.
“Don’t start on my housekeeping,” he said, but she ignored him. She pulled out a data link.
“Is that the library’s datalink?” he asked.
“No! I bought it. It’s mine.”
“You BOUGHT it?”
Wow, he thought, it’s actually happening. The artifacts he’d found and insisted be copied and distributed to anyone who wanted one was actually happening.
Glyena smiled, hugging it tightly to her chest for a moment, then handing it to K’ndar.
“I did. I’ve been saving my money, from when I rode the racehorses at Ruatha? And I made bridles for Swiftsure? They paid me. Remember Lizard selling my leather work? Well, I’ve been saving it, I didn’t know what for, because I have everything I need, but then Harper Rendel mentioned that he had this datalink, it had been re-fur-bished at Landing, it’s one of the original copies, and that he now had several here in the library and did I know anyone who wanted to buy a used one? And I thought about it for like two seconds and said me me! and he said he didn’t think I could afford it and I said, how much does it cost and he told me and I said I think I have that and so I ran back home and….”
“Glyena, stop!!” he said, knowing that once his sister got rolling she would talk the hind legs off a horse.
She stopped, giggling. “You’re just like Shirae, she says I talk too much.”
He tickled her ear. “Aye, you do, but it’s okay. You’re my little sis and I know how you are. So what is it you have to show me?”
“Turn on the datalink,” she said. He was embarrassed to realize that, as often he’d seen others use one, he still wasn’t sure how to work one. All those depressions to push!
“You’ll have to show me how,” he said.
She took it back. “See, you push here and hold it, and then, see, it wakes up and, oh, no signal? Oh, here it is. Now it’s hooking up with the database at Landing, but that’s not what I want to show you.”
The screen lit up, showing a picture of Shirae, her foster mother, two girls, and a man in the background. “No, not yet, ” she muttered. He wasn’t surprised to see Jordan, their grey gelding.
“That’s from other day, it’s not what I want to show you. Here,” and she flicked her fingers rapidly, the pictures passing under them too quickly to appreciate. “No, no, no, here, this is from Mum’s wedding. There’s Raventh, and then us and Natana, and Uncle Fland, and the horses,” she was saying, “and Raventh, and…”
There was Raventh with five fire lizards swirling over his head; then his mother and uncle standing, looking deeply pleased Singing Waters Hold Harper read the rites of marriage. Then the pictures showed him in conversation with his brother Sandriss and Lizard. What were they discussing so deeply? He couldn’t remember.
“Sheesh, look at my ears, they stick out sideways,” he said, unable to bear seeing a picture of himself, “I look goofy.”
“Oh, shut up. They’re fine,” she said.
“When did you take these? I don’t remember seeing you taking pictures,” he said.
“I borrowed the library’s camera, I still can’t afford one of my own, yet! And I took bunches of pictures and uploaded them to Landing and the Yokohama, that night,” she said, still searching. “I’m still learning how to use this once I put pictures on it, right now I have to go through all of them,” she said, more to herself than to him. “Got it.” She handed the data link to him. On the screen was a picture of the burnt wagon.
“I heard you men talking about the wheels and the axle after you got back. So I rode out to where the wagon had burned,after Lord Dorn had left and you had come back. I took pictures of the wagon and the wheels, but not the people in the wagon and not the animals. I feel so sorry for those poor beasts, the oxen, they hadn’t a chance. And the horses…”. Her face was troubled. She shook her head to dispel the images.
“Anyway, I took pictures of the wheels, because I heard Lizard say they were ‘specially made but he didn’t know where. And this is what I learned,” she said. “I sent these pictures to the computers at Landing. “See what it says?”
The datalink’s screen filled with a shot of the remnants of the burnt wheel. Below it was text that said,
Year of manufacture, unknown.
85% chance of wood being that of sky-broom.
Place of manufacture: 90% likelihood Keroon Hold
He was dumbstruck at her cleverness. None of the grownups had thought to document the wheels.
“Wow. Lizard said the wheel was sky-broom and made up north. Glyena, you are one smart girl, you know that?”
She smiled. “I know.”
“So, why…are you bringing this to me?”
“Because you’re going to take the axle and the wheels and the branding iron to Lord Dorn’s hold, right? And you’ll tell him what Landing said,” she said. “You can take this datalink if you want,” she said.
Now he felt ashamed that he’d even considered his books too valuable for her to handle.
“No, that’s okay, I don’t know too much about making it work. Lord Dorn will believe me,” he said. “And oh by the way, HOW do you learn these things? I didn’t go around telling people about the burnt wagon and my going to Singing Waters. Are you reading the duty roster in Pattis’s office?” he said.
The Flight Ops woman was notoriously cantankerous, especially when it came to non- dragonriders entering her flight ops domain, never mind reading “her” flight status boards.
“No way, she’s mean, when she’s in Flight Ops she runs us kids off, but that only makes some of them more eager to sneak in. They make it a game and it drives her crazy. If she’d just let them in and tell them what she does, they’d get bored and forget about it.
No, this time, it’s…well, adults don’t think us kids listen, but we do. Well, I do. So they talk about things that maybe sometimes kids shouldn’t hear but like Shirae says, eventually, ‘all secrets will out’, especially in a Weyr as small as ours. But this wasn’t a secret, not really, just..um, people wondering out loud. Lord Dorn said that he thought the wagon was from one of his cotholders ‘cuz one’s been reported as missing, ‘long with a team,” she said, then continued.
“Harlan is Nyala’s weyrmate and she’s Herdmaster and I am in the barn all the time with Jordan, and helping out with the horses. Harlan looked at the axles and said he agrees with them going to Lord Dorn, he knows you’re already tasked to take the branding iron, but he ‘seriously doubts’ they were made here in Southern. Something about the concentration of iron makes him think they were made up north. Too. And Lizard said the same thing about the wheels so it makes me think that the wagon wasn’t stolen from Lord Dorn, it was from somewhere up north, and so maybe there are more thieves out there than just the two in the wagon,” she said.
He shook his head in amazement. He WAS scheduled to take the metal items to Lord Dorn later on in the day. What Glyena said was almost word for word what he’d heard Harlan say.
He looked at her with new respect.
“You’re too clever, sis. I think you are right. Can you do this same thing with dragons?”
“What ‘thing’?” she asked, puzzled.
“Reading people’s thoughts,” he said, laughing.
“Change of plans, boyo,” Pattis, the Flight Ops chief, said. She had a strange smile on her face, one that said she was enjoying messing with his schedule.
K’ndar had gone in to sign out prior to flying to Singing Waters hold.
“Oh?” He bridled at her calling him ‘boyo’ but he knew her too well. She was always derisive and antagonistic. Pattis was not known for courtesy or respect. Few people liked her, but she was an excellent flight ops tech, and knew it.
“Yes, you’ll be stopping at Singing Waters to meet with Lord Dorn, but then you’ll be doing a sweep over his holdings,” she said.
He really didn’t mind, and even if he did, he wasn’t about to let her know she was annoying.
He looked at her chalkboard, with the day’s duty roster. His name and Raventh’s said “Singing Waters Hold” and nothing else.
He shrugged. “No matter. Did you make the changes to the board? I don’t see it.”
Pattis snapped, “I was in the process of doing so when you barged in, interrupting me.”
“I thought signing out was standard operating procedure. You’ve changed policy without authorization?” he snapped right back.
“It IS. No I haven’t. Don’t be snippy with me, boyo,” she hissed.
“Snippy, eh? I see. I’ll remember that, next time,” he said.
“He wasn’t being snippy, Pattis, and kindly remember that dragonriders have a right to check the duty roster at ANY TIME,” a voice behind him said.
He turned to see Siena, his Weyrwoman.
Grinning, he said, “Good morning, ma’am,” nodding his head in respect.
“I was just in the process, ma’am, this boy was disputing the duty change,” Pattis said.
The bold lie astonished him.
“That’s not true, Pattis,” he said, angered, “I’ve never disputed ANY duty assignment.”
Siena looked hard at Pattis.
“Pattis, I heard your entire conversation, such as it was. Your tone is unbecoming of a member of my Weyr. I would appreciate it if you were to treat K’ndar, who is not a boy but a full fledged dragonrider, with the same respect you treat me or M’rvin, yours and my Weyrleader. Do you understand?”
Pattis bristled but backed down. She couldn’t bring herself to submit.
Siena looked coldly at the woman. “I asked you, do you understand? Or should I say, will you comply?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Pattis said, sullenly.
There were several uncomfortable moments, most on Pattis’s part. K’ndar relished her discomfort. He could not understand why she was so ill tempered. She had a comfortable job, seldom being tasked for anything other than Ops.
“Now then, Pattis, I’m to sweep after meeting with Lord Dorn. Who am I sweeping with?” he said.
“I’m writing it in, now,” Pattis said. This was evasion of a subtle sort, unable to treat him with respect even under the Weyrwoman’s gaze. She erased his name with one hand and began to write with the other. Her chalk made a screeching noise on the board.
Should I press it? Push her a little harder, because his Weyrwoman was his ally? K’ndar thought. Why are you allowed to stay here, he wondered. It wouldn’t be too hard to have a datalink to Landing create the duty roster. Then you’d be without a job.
Siena was uncharacteristically silent. If he’d looked at her face, he’d see she was anticipating something with what could be called amusement.
“Who, Pattis?” he repeated.
She continued to ignore him, pretending to concentrate on her writing.
When she finished, she put down her chalk, and turning, dusted off her hands.
The board said, “Siena, Weyrwoman, gold Mirth: K’ndar, brown Raventh, Singing Waters and sweep duty.”
“Uh…uh…”K’ndar stammered, shocked.
This time it was Pattis’s face that showed amusement, but of a mean sort.
He turned to face Siena.
“What? Don’t want to ride with me at your side?” Siena teased.
“Uh, of course not, ma’am, uh, I”m mean, I’d be honored, ma’am, it’s just ..”
Siena laughed in her cultured voice. “I know. Weyrwomen riding sweeps? Doing a mundane task? Unbecoming of my rank, what?”
“No, ma’am, I just um just…” he stammered. He’d never heard of a weyrwoman riding sweeps. It just wasn’t done, a gold…especially the weyr’s queen, was more important than doing tasks even a weyrling could do.
Pattis emitted an ugly cackle, enjoying his distress. Later on, when he had time to reflect, he’d realized it was her way of laughing, something no one had ever heard the haughty woman do.
Siena took the signout chalk board and dashed off her name. Handing it to K’ndar, she said,
“M’rvin is busy with weyr business and one of us needs to get with Lord Dorn. It’s in regard to your cargo, but I’m going stir crazy. It’s a beautiful day. Golds can’t be treated like they’re fragile, remember, we flew against thread just like any other dragonrider. Mirth loves to work and needs the flight. Sign, K’ndar, and let’s go,” she said.