Not Fair


Max.jpg Randi.jpg Ciara.jpg

Date: 2011.05.19
Location: EW - Beast Manager's Quarters
Synopsis: Max finds himself square in the middle of two goldriders battling it out when tensions rise, tempers flare, hard truths are spoken and leniency is fought for.
Rating: PG13 - Language
Logger: Max

With the rain misting down in a light drizzle this warm morning, most of the work about the Weyr goes on. Lounging near the beast pens - stomach distended after having returned from a hunt in the jungles - is the smallest of Eastern's gold dragons, her eyes half-lidded with satiated contentment. It is a new place to see her enjoying the morning's warm mist, but not an overly strange one. Her rider is nowhere to be seen - but that's not wholly unusual these days either. She is, in fact, concealed in the last place most would ever think to look. The desk has been carefully cleared of Max's things, leaving them in a neat stack on his bed. Instead it is covered with layer upon layer of Thread patterns, wing formations and drill orders, several sheets of scrap 'paper', sticks of graphite, a mug of now-cold klah, and - which would explain how she got here in the first place - a strange set of thin metal rods left haphazardly on one corner. Dressed in her customary red leathers - though the jacket is thrown over the back of the seat to reveal a tight, black, sleeveless undershirt - her hair is nevertheless a mess. Probably because she keeps running her hands through it in sheer frustration.

Suosith does not seem happy at all about flying around in the rain, but the gold is out nonetheless, apparently thanks to Ciara. The pair are flying slow overheard, but upon spotting Kaseth, Suosith swoops down to land nearby, depositing Ciara. The dragon grumpily takes off again, going between straight away - no doubt back to the dry warmth of her weyr. Ci, on the other hand, walks calmly through the drizzle into the stables, going slowly down the stalls until she finds the one with the proper door. She knocks twice, rocking on her heels as she waits for a response.

Very little gets passed Waine, especially with regards to the goings on in the beast caverns, and so it is that as Max returns from a meeting with a feed supplier, that had had him very close to shoving his boot up the weaseley man’s arse, that he’s apprised of the situation. “Got yourself visitors, boss,” chin jerking towards the beast manager’s office. Dark eyes warily track to his quarters and light on Ciara standing outside the closed door, and he snorts, “Your Ma never teach you to count?” For he sees a visitor, singular, not plural. The clipboard he has with him is shoved toward Waine, “Take Ranlo and Jesson and meet Fraleer out on the road, he’s got our new supplies. And don’t….bring any of his daughters back with you.” That taken care of he turns and heads over to Ciara, stopping just behind her, “Lookin’ for someone?” amused.

The first set of knocks have Randi looking up, startled. She remembered to lock the door behind her, surely! Or did she? Waving it off as unimportant, she lowers her head to her work again, biting her lip with frustration as she can feel herself just on the knife's edge of comprehension, of all these pieces falling into place, but can't quite seem to push herself over it. A voice, however, makes her frown. Why would Max knock on the door to his own office? Oh well. "Half a candlemark before I'd expected him," she mutters to herself. In actuality, it's far past that, but with no candle here to mark the time, she loses track of it. She is not her Kaseth.

Ciara glances over at the sound of voices, and does a double-take when she sees it's Max. Okay, so he's not in the office. She offers up a smile when the beast manager steps over, turning so she's half facing him, half facing the door. "Actually, I am." The smile flashes wider, before fading away as she adds, more serious now, "Kaseth was outside, and Randi's not in her weyr…you wouldn't happened to have seen her around here, would you? I know, it's a weird place to come looking for her, but what with Kaseth around I figured…." She trails off, shrugging broad shoulders and looking up at Max with an appeal for assistance in her eyes.

Having arrived from the beast tunnel side of things, he'd not seen the gold when he'd arrived. With water dripping off the brim of his hat, Max casts a look up the aisle the way of the feeding pens and then back down onto Ciara a light frown in place. "Could be she's down with Ma in the storage caverns. Just need to put this down," the carrysack slung over one shoulder, "and then we can go look for her, aye?" For considering the goings on of late, he'd rather like to be sure he knows where the other goldrider has gotten to. There are only two that have keys for his office, Max…and Waine and Max has his set with him, so guess whose in for an ass kicking in the not too distant future. But that's neither here nor there right now as the beast manager digs in his pocket, extracts his key and sets it to the lock only to find something jamming it from the other side. The handle is jiggled several times as he tries to insert the key, still nothing. "Waine!" he bellows temporarily forgetting he'd set the man off on an errand. Silence. A low curse and then he turns to Ciara, "Here you try gettin' it in and I'll shove." And he takes a step back to ram the door with his shoulder.

Hearing the commotion and the fruitless jiggling of the lock, Randi looks up sharply and resists the very real urge to smack herself in the forehead. Amateur mistake, leaving one of the picks in this side of the lock. Pushing the chair back, she stands and moves the few paces it takes to reach the door around the desk, removing the pin from her side of the lock, flipping the latch and pulling the door open … right as Max goes to put his shoulder in it. Aaaaaaand suddenly Max! Knocking into her! Falling on top of her as they both tumble to the floor! In a tangle of limbs!

All super-strength aside, Randi does not look pleased, rubbing her elbow and cussing like a Tillek fisherwoman when a stray feline's run off with dinner's trout. "Would you be so kind," she grumbles, shoving at his shoulder ineffectually, "as to get off? It's a bit hard to breathe down here."

Ciara manages not to join the tangle by sheer luck, instead clinging to the door handle she's been wriggling while trying to work the key and nearly tripping over her own feet as the door flies open with unexpected force. Was that all Max?! But no, there's someone on the other side, and as she regains her balance, clutching at the door to pull herself upright, Ci gasps out, "Randi!" Of all the people to be in the (locked) beast manager's office! And…oh, hey, she's underneath Max. "Uhh." Letting go of the door now, Ci moves to offer assistance to the pair if anyone needs it to get up off the floor. "Uh, why're you in here, Randi?" She can never help herself when there's a question to be asked.

That…was not what he'd expected. One minute he's putting the full weight of his body against the door and the next…said body weight is somehow pinning Randi to the floor, an elbow caught in his diaphragm knocking some of the wind out of him. Wheezing as he tries to suck air back into his lungs, "Faranth's arse, woman!?" And then he jerks his head up to Ciara as if perhaps this were some kind of goldrider-sisterhood prank being pulled on him. Of course, there's going to be a quip, Randi should know that by now. "Told you, all you have to do is ask, darlin'." smirk. Rolling to one side so that the goldrider can get free from underneath of him, Max glances up at the younger of the pair and nods, "What she said." And then he too is getting to his feet, eyes landing on his desk and a brow going up.

"I knew you liked it rough, but shells, Max. Knocking the wind out of a girl's not exactly the best way to go about it." Rolling to the opposite side as he does, Randi sits up and rests her arm on one knee, catching her breath. The elbow was accidental, but her back hit hard floor, so she doesn't look too sorry about it. Ciara's question does earn the younger girl a raised brow. "And since when am I answerin' to you, your ladyship?" There's frustration in those words, and a bit of the ruffled feather syndrome, too. Still, they're only a moment out of her mouth when Randi realizes the unfairness of them and sighs, her shoulders slumping forward as she runs a hand over her face. "Sorry, Ci. That's why I'm in here, actually." As if that should explain the whole thing. She stands and stretches, arching her back. "Ouch, I've got to go see one of those damn Healers about putting my spine back where it's meant to be." She gestures to the hides and papers on the desk. "I spent the night getting through most of these, but after about the pre-dawn hour, there wasn't a place I could go in the Weyr without someone hounding me about - well, about anything and everything you could possibly think of, actually." She offers Max her hand to stand. "Came down to take a break and pester Max, only he was out and either Waine didn't know where, or he wasn't sayin' and actin' like he knew." The tone is exasperated, but she can't help a little smile. Waine's a personal favorite, even if he has a bit too much sass for his britches. "So I figured I'd requisition his office for a few hours. Lock was a pain in the arse to pick, by the way. What did you do to get that one, blow a Smith?"

Ciara averts her eyes as the banter ensues, the young rider taking a moment to look around the stall-come-office. Her attention is brought back to Randi sharpish when her friend answers in a surprisingly snarky manner. Ci's gobsmacked, but fortunately forgiving, too. Randi's swift apology gets a smile, a sympathetic one more than anything else as she notes the slumped shoulders and the hand that runs over Randi's face. She understands how stressful times are for them right now. "Don't worry about it." With the two on the floor no longer tangled, Ci steps back and away to the desk to lean on it as she waits for them to get up, nodding at the explanation the older Weyrwoman gives. "You picked the lock?" She looks impressed. Very impressed. "Y'can always hand some work to me if you want, Randi, you know that…." Speaking of work…Ci takes the opportunity now to look at what's on the desk. "Although speaking of, I did have something I wanted to show you. It can wait, though." She looks shocked at just how much work covers Max's desk, looking away from it and over at the beast manager and Randi.

Is it possible? Is that a faint touch of tanned skin deepening under the shadow of dark stubble in light of Randi’s comment? Maybe. Maybe he’s just a bit flushed from having gotten the wind knocked out of him. Already on his feet Max utters a snort, “You’ll know all about it if I plan to take your breath away.” As the older goldrider collects herself, the beast manager wanders over to his desk and unapologetically starts lifting first one and then another of the charts laid out on it. They are on his desk after all. What he does seem apologetic about is having potentially hurt Randi by crashing into her, dark eyes tracing back to her conveying as much. Turning and leaning his butt against his desk near to where Ciara has situated herself, arms fold across his chest and a brow lifts upward, “How the shards did you even get in…Oh.” She solves that one by admitting to having picked the lock. Blow a locksmith…that earns the goldrider a withering look and then smirking faintly for Waine not having given out his whereabouts. Amused, “I’ll send you the bill,” for the use of his office. “May as well get her input too, darlin’,” on the work spread out on his desk, and then he touches on Randi’s obvious frustration, “What’s got you snappin’ like I just drowned your puppy?” Because he’s the big bad man that does such things, right?

Randi shakes her head. "Thanks, Ci, but I've left you and Rio the brunt of the 'weyrwomen' type hidework, anyway." She sighs. "No, this is just me trying to get my head around all of these drill formations." Her hand wipes down her face again as she moves to sit in the chair behind the desk again, leafing through several of the patterns and then dropping them back on the desk. "I've flown all of these before, as has Kass." She glances up to Ciara. "We drilled with the brown and bronze wings when my Senior had had enough of us." An explanation for the other goldrider, whose Weyrlinghood likely did not contain those sorts of drills. "I even sweet-talked a Smith into modifying my flamethrower - less spread, more distance. It was fun." But then she sobers again, brought out of the past by the troubles of now. "I assume you've heard by now that J'cobi's up and left us, yeah? Well, just because our Weyrleader up and leaves doesn't mean Thread stops falling, more's the pity. And I know these drills inside and out, but I just can't make myself see how it all falls together. I can't make it 'click'." Max's comment about drowning puppies does earn him a wry grin - which is remarkable, even if it is accompanied by an eyeroll. "I don't like having to explain myself at the best of times, Max. But it seems like every busybody from here to Southern feels entitled to know every detail of my whereabouts and doings over the last turn." She looks a bit helpless at that. Obviously she hadn't thought far enough ahead to come up with a decent cover story.

Ciara glances at Max as he joins her in leaning against the desk, the situation now feeling more like the two are confronting Randi. She lifts her shoulders when Randi turns down her offer of help, not looking put off at all by the rejection. She's more concerned for her friend, lines appearing on her forehead as she watches the woman explain. "Yeah…I know about J'cobi." Ci bites on her lower lip, gaze drifting down to the numerous hides and their complicated contents. "Can't we get a bronze rider to help out? Or has he gotta be the Weyrleader to do that?" She knows more of Weyr life now than she did two Turns ago, but this goes beyond what one learns as a weyrling. Far beyond. She looks back up at Randi, with a small glance to Max as the other gold rider addresses him, now.

Quiet as Randi explains her frustration about the putting formations together to meet a Fall, he notes only, “Fly the Fall not the drill, darlin’. It comes in wide, you throw the wings out wide. It comes in high, you stack ‘em. Bad weather, put your greens and blues to the top and sides with the bronzes and browns below and to the middle. And don’t overthink it. You and Kaseth know the drills, let your gut tell you what to do.” Spoken in almost mantra form as if he’s been made to recite what he’s just said over and over again somewhere along the line. A careful look is sent sidelong to Ciara when the subject of J’cobi is brought up and then he can’t help but utter a snort, “Bronze don’t mean ready to lead, Ciara.” A twin poke at both the bronzerider that had turned tail and run at the first signs of trouble and well…bronzeriders in general. Attention back to Randi a small smile appears, “Ain’t none of their business that you’ve been scourin’ Pern to bring us new ridin’ pairs to fight in the wings, darlin’.” Offering her a cover story to latch onto that will hopefully explain the imminent arrival of twelve full fighting pairs. “Takes time to get folk to up and move, not to mention all that red tape, hmm?”

Shuddering - rather realistically, as she loathes beaurocracy in all its forms - at the mention of 'red tape', Randi grins silent thanks over at Max. "It'll help, sure, but even if I brought twelve bronzes, it wouldn't make things any easier." Max's adage is familiar to the weyrbrat-turned-weyrwoman, but it doesn't ansswer her dilemma. "That's the general gist, yeah, but what I didn't know is that it's the Weyrleader's job not only to fight, but to watch the wings do their fighting and tell each of the Wingleaders when to switch drill patterns, when to pull out, when the reserves should come in… And all that without getting scored…" She rests elbows on the desk and she rests her head in her hands. "How am I going to do that without sending half our flight to the Infirmary Weyr from crashing into each other?" Apparently, this is a theme that's been going on for quite some time, now. Knowing Randi, the entire night before, at least. There's a rumble outside the beast pens as Kaseth decides that enough is most definitively enough.

Lowering her mind from its quiet contemplation of the news and gossip from around Pern and the re-shaping of her worldview as it changes facts like water running through fine gravel, Kaseth literally fills the room. Her own bonded's mind is easy enough to slide into - even Ciara's is vaguely familiar - but the beast master's mind is completely sealed over to her and so she leans on it a little more than is strictly necessary before drawing back with a silent sense of apology. Borrowing the nerves that feed their eyes' images back into the brain, she flashes images of those same charts before the eyes of all three, pulling them from where they've been - doubtless - burned into the mind of her rider. This time, however, the images are moving. Patterns of wings and dragons slide in and around, over and under each other like the steps of a massive, intricate dance. Each piece is taken and moved and twisted and slotted into place until those drawings of tiny dragons take on lives of their own, charring the ever-present menace as it falls towards their homes, directed by a single great mind that pulls on each string with just exactly the kind of tug it needs - no more, no less. « You will merge your mind with mine, Little One. Fear not. We will make them dance. » That voice is both youthful and ancient, innocent and wise; a lonely soprano that sings for a world and a beauty that no longer exists. It is poignant and beautiful, but above all else it is powerful in ways that cannot be understood - let alone explained.

This is why Kaseth so rarely - if ever - speaks. Neither light, nor an easy experience is she.

Now it's Max who gets the impressed look as he gives his advice on Thread fighting. Ci looks back to Randi to see her reacton, before she lowers her eyes as Max snorts about bronze riders. "Ah…." She scuffs her foot, if only for something to look at down on the floor, before her head whips up as Max goes on. Now that's something Ci didn't know, and she looks pretty darn surprised about it. Randi gets the full shocked-Ci stare. "You were bringing riders to Eastern Weyr?" She sounds a little affronted that she didn't know about this. Never mind the issue of the lack of Weyrleader! Her affront fades as Kaseth's presence enters the room. Having such contact with one's own dragon is one thing, but the full-on mental presence of another's dragon, and one with such a distinct presence, is another entirely. Ci's eyes glaze as the shifting, moving images dance around her mind, watching the ancient combat of dragon versus Thread as portrayed by the gold. Suosith, sensing the intrusion into Ciara's mind, makes her own appearance to Kaseth and Ci both, shielding her rider's mind from the older gold's with a hint of warning. For all that Kaseth is her superior, she dislikes such an intrusion into her rider's mind. Once the images clear from her vision, Ci is left blinking, reaching out to Suosith to soothe the ruffled gold. "Uh." She looks at Max to see his reaction, and then at Randi, lost for words.

Catching that look coming from Ciara, the beast manager turns out a small smile edged with an odd melancholy but doesn’t explain how he’d know such things and then he’s answering Randi. “Aye,” Max agrees on the job of the Weyrleader, and then with a faint smile, “You’re gonna make use of your wingseconds,” those that fly in the Weyrleader’s wing, “that’s what they’re there for, darlin’.” And then his expression schools to perfect neutrality in light of the younger goldrider’s shock and affront, leaving that to Randi to address. He’d looked about to say something and then Kaseth presses in, leaning into his mind, making him open it up to her. Lips purse, nostrils flare and his jaw sets to form an expression that might look to be outright fury for such an intrusion but he watches in silence as the gold arranges all the pieces of the puzzle. Once her presence drifts back out again, the young crimelord sets an unreadable look to each of the goldriders, inhales sharply and without a word turns on his heel and leaves.

Not quite as taken aback as the others - for she's used to such things - Randi rides out the intrusion in silence. Relieved silence, but still. She doesn't seem to realize at first that Kaseth has 'shared with the class', so to speak, and so Max's abrupt departure is momentarily confusing. In the instant it takes to ask, answer and confirm, Randi knows what her gold did and - shooting Ciara an apologetic look and a quick. "Don't move!" - dashes after the retreating Max. "Hey, hang on a sec!" She catches up and reaches for his shoulder, meaning to tug him around to face her. "Fully grown and she still doesn't listen when I tell her that's rude. She didn't hurt you, did she?" Apparently that's been a problem in the past. "Max?"

Ciara can only stare as Max turns to leave, the gold rider still somewhat overwhelmed by Kaseth's strong and unusual presence in her head. Suosith is in the back of her rider's mind, fussing and needy, and now Ci's trying to deal with that and the beast manager's sudden departure. Her expression turns to one of worry when Randi asks if Kaseth hurt Max - can that happen?

Well, he tries to leave but finds a goldrider latched onto him just as he reaches the doorway. Expression a hard an impenetrable mask, Max slowly turns to face her. After remaining silent for another moment or two, his reply is short and to the point on whether or not Kaseth had hurt him, “No.” After the mind-blasting he’d gotten from Jhath a few months back, Kaseth’s presence whilst almost overwhelmingly strong, hadn’t hurt him. “She’s got it figured, trust in her.” Tone flat as he acknowledges what he’d been shown and then he brushes passed Randi chances a glance to Ciara, catches that worried look and lowers his gaze, apparently emptying the carrysack he’d dropped to the floor when he bowled Randi over, now has his full attention.

Letting her hand fall from the beast manager's shoulder, Randi watches him unload that carrysack for a long moment, gaze narrowed and inscrutable. Wisely, however, she keeps her mouth shut. She won't get anything out of him like this, anyway. Instead, her attention turns to Ciara. "Pass on my apologies to Suosith, would you? She never listens once she gets it in her head that people ought to be told things." If it hasn't changed this far, it probably won't ever change. "Thankfully it doesn't happen too often. Otherwise I think half the Weyr'd be bleeding out their ears." Turning to the desk, she sits again, staring down Max's working back as if she could pull all of the answers out of the rough fabric. "You mentioned that you had something to show me, Ci. What is it?" Subject change whiplash, ahoy!

Ciara continues to stare at Max, even as he gets to emptying that carrysack so carefully. That appears to be the end of his involvement in the conversation, and Ci's lost. Then Randi's speaking to her, and the young rider tunes back in. "Oh, yes, I will." There's a pause as said apology is appropriately conveyed to the ruffled young gold, and then some nodding as Randi talks about Kaseth, and a slight laugh, lacking strength as she glances at Max to check up on him again. Still doing his own thing, apparently. Okay. And so the subject changes, in a manner Ci is familiar enough with to go along with it fairly easily. "Oh…well, I was looking at the watchrider rota at Landing and, uh, well, I came up with a new one. I thought it might be good for the riders and for Landing to rotate some more. The graduated weyrlings are on there too, I thought the experience might be good." As she speaks, she pulls said rota out of her pocket, unfolding the rain-damp square of paper and turning to face Randi and offer the thing over. "But um, it's just a draft, I thought you should see it first." Said rota most notably changes things from L'han doing all the work to a number of riders sharing the duty, each working a sevenday at a time.

The contents of that carrysack might seem like an odd assortment of things: bandages, an oddly shaped flight helmet, a ‘skin of something or another, a long length of rope knotted at both ends and a change of clothes that include a sleeveless vest, shorts and the Pernese equivalent of track shoes. Moving to the cupboard in the sleeping area of his office, he packs them away, all the while keeping a careful ear on the conversation going on between the goldriders without appearing to do so, although he’s likely not fooling Randi any. When Landing is mentioned there’s a subtle flicker of attention over to Ciara, interest peaked enough that you can bet he’ll try to get his hands on a copy of that.

Randi may not be the most booksmart of women, but she's not half clever when it comes down to people. Giving Ciara a wry look, Randi takes the new roster and looks it over. "L'han put you up to this, didn't he?" She sounds exasperated, mildly irritated and even a touch amused. One thing she does not sound, however, is surprised. "He was assigned to Landing to keep him out of our hair, not because it was meant to be fun." But she reads the list anyway - no harm in at least reading the damn thing, especially when Ci's already gone through the work of making it. As she reads down, however, the frown between her brows deepens and deepens. Finally she lays the hide on the desk with a sigh, sitting back in her chair to rub at her temples. "It's a good roster, Ci. Even spread of a not-so-glamorous duty." She pauses, then, the kind of pause where it's blatantly obvious that a 'but' is coming. "But," she follows through nicely. "But the problem is that we can't afford to take these riders out of their wings. If it's only one green and her rider down at Landing, the wingriders merely write that pair out and re-organize their drills." She points at a particular wing pattern hide to illustrate her point. "But if we've got different pairs that get cycled out, the wingleaders will have to have different wing patterns to make up for each different hole that's left by the changing pairs." She covers different 'dragons' on the sheet to show how the pattern would be weakened and need to be altered. "It's dangerous enough fighting Fall when you're doing so in a pattern you've rehearsed over and over and over. Having to learn five different patterns to compensate for whichever one of five riders who may be missing from your wing during Fall is asking for trouble, especially with the short memories most of the dragons tend to have." She sighs. "In a bigger Weyr with normal Thread cycles, it's not a thing to spare half a dozen dragons to just be Watchriders, but we simply cannot afford to do so right now. Do you see?"

Ah…Randi's seen right through her. No point lying. "He did, yeah." Ci manages not to look too ashamed about hiding up that fact. As Randi's expression changes and her thoughts come, with the explanation for why it's not possible, Ci's face falls. "But…it's not fair for Escaeth and L'han to be there all the time." She's sounding like a petulant child, and tries to get a grip on herself. This is worse in front of Max, even if he's apparently busy with his own things. "What if it was two riders from different Wings? Just, they're so isolated from the Weyr, I thought it'd be better if they didn't have to spend all their time at Landing…." Her argument's feeble in the face of Randi's logical explanation and Ci falters.

Randi sits quietly and listens to all that Ciara has to say. She even does it without bias, but the 'not fair' seems to rub her fur the wrong way. "Not fair?" She pauses, her fingers freezing in their circling motions on her temples. "Not … fair?" Her hands fall to the desk and she looks up and Ciara with the first stirrings of her temple riled up behind her usually sweet brown eyes. "Child, you have no idea just how not fair life really is." Nevermind the fact that Ciara's only a turn or two her junior. "If you had the slightest inkling of all the things that I've had to do - that Max has had to do - that so many, many of us have had to do just to keep food in the larders and clothes on your backs? Things that are so 'not fair' it would make your Holder's stomach turn? You wouldn't even think those words because what's 'fair' and what's not would take on entirely new meanings." Her voice stays quiet, but there's something coiled and angry boiling just under the surface. This isn't the bouncy, carefree woman who bought fruit off of Ci. It's not even the pale, shaken, nightmare tormented one she knew as a Weyrling. "There are dragons who spend their entire lives in less comfortable quarters and doing worse jobs than L'han and his Escaeth, so while in a nice world it may indeed be 'not fair' to leave them at Landing, believe me, with his level of incompetence, in this world, it's about as fair as it gets nowadays."

Ciara manages, to her credit, to stand there without flinching as Randi's voice drops to delver her pointed words. The only outward sign of the rider's discomfort is her pale face. "What did he do to you?" She probably hoped the question would come out cool and controlled, but it's snapped out in a surprising fashion for Ci, and even seems to catch her by surprise given the way her eyes briefly widen. Made bolder by saying it though, she goes on, quickly. "It's not L'han's fault we're struggling - or Escaeth's. Surely the other Weyrs should be helping us out? I want to treat my riders well, and dumping them over at Landing permanently isn't doing that." She runs out of steam pretty quickly, snapping her mouth shut and going even paler as she realises what she's just said. To Randi. Ah.

Where he’d been listening quietly from the position he’d taken up on his mattress with his back to the stall siding and knees drawn up, without interjection, Randi’s flare of temper and ensuing words that touch dangerously close to things better left unsaid have Max standing and crossing over to his desk. Moving in behind the tired and stressed goldrider, he sets a hand to her shoulder, giving it a light squeeze along with a look of silent warning sent down to her. “She don’t mean no harm by it, darlin’,” the ‘not fair’ bit, “She’s tryin’ to help, aye?” that to Randi as he sends a reassuring smile to Ciara. And then the younger goldrider’s snapping back in turn. Max palms a hand over his face and then lifts them both in a warding gesture, “Fightin’ amongst ourselves ain’t gonna solve nothin’ either. You wanna duke it out, I’ll set up the ring. Otherwise, take a break. The both of you,” pointed look flicking between both women, “think it over and then sit down and talk about it.” Yeah, putting himself between two goldriders likely isn’t the wisest of moves.

Ciara's next words have Randi half rising out of her chair, settled and seated again only by the weight and pressure of Max's hand on her shoulder. Closing her eyes, Randi clenches her fists until the knuckles turn white, releases them and then clenches again - all the while taking deep breaths. "It's no more my fault than it is his, Ciara." Her words are still quiet, but all the fire seems to have been drained out by Max's hand. When it's lifted, she rubs the spot where it had rested, feeling oddly sad for its loss. "But L'han and his Escaeth have shelter, warmth, plenty of hot food, other people to speak with - the Weyr's not far enough away that Escaeth can't bespeak what friends she's made here. They're both healthy and mostly sane. Those are things that I've had to go without this past turn to try and keep us going. There were days I hated it and wanted to scream and cry and shout that it wasn't fair. But whether or not it is my fault, I am a dragonrider and so I have a responsibility to see to it that my Weyr and its protected areas are safe and cared for. It's the same responsibility that L'han has - that you have. The way he can help most right now is to stay where he is and to do his job." She tugs at the end of a piece of hair hanging by her chin. "He probably doesn't like it anymore than I liked doing my work around the northern continent." That still fits into the rider story, right? Right. "Or anymore than J'cobi liked having to take wings from scratch and build them into a fighting force." Her hand falls to the desk again. "So what makes him better than me or J'cobi? Why should we put lives at risk just because he doesn't like what he has to do?" Her dark eyes - so much older than they once were - rise to meet Ciara's. "If you can answer me that, then he can come back."

Ciara gives Max an appreciative look when he steps in to the fray, but she's still pale and tense, caught up in the moment of the argument. At least when Randi speaks again, the tone of her voice has changed, and that seems to calm Ci too, now that she doesn't have to be so defensive. It takes her time to formulate a reply to Randi as she tries to get over the way that she spoke before, and also how she can best approach the challenge in Randi's words. Can she answer 'correctly'? "But Escaeth is missing what dragons are born to do - to fight Thread. She's suffering because she's away from the Wings and away from doing what comes naturally to a dragon. That's their job as well." She can't argue with the rest of the logic, at least, not knowing and thus not being able to understand all that Randi's gone through in the last Turn. "It's very well that they have food and shelter there, but it's not the same to a dragon as a Weyr, and a Wing. I never said he was better than you or J'cobi, but he's a dragon rider too, and he has a duty to Eastern and to Pern to fight Thread." Again, she trails off, before she gets too rambly and incoherent in her argument. Her body is still tense, but now there's a pleading look in her eyes to match the darkness of Randi's.

Max’s expression folds about a frown as Randi speaks of what it was she’d gone through in the past turn, it tearing him up that she’d had to do so but he says nothing, lips merely pressing together as he keeps his counsel for the time being. Counsel that will likely to be given voice at some point when it’s just the two of them for now its regret that shows itself and he adds on the heels of Randi’s words, though without same the heat, just a world-weariness set into his tone, “We’re all bein’ called on to make sacrifices, Ciara. It ain’t easy and no, it ain’t fair but it’s the way of life and we can either fight for our survival or we can give up because it’s too hard, not fair or…lonely.” That last word carrying on odd taint to it but meant in reference to the greenrider under discussion. Dark eyes turn to Randi, “Reckon it would help any if I had a word with L’han?” Not that a dragonrider is likely to listen to anything said by a mere ‘beast manager’ but hey, he’s willing to give it a shot at least.

Slamming her fist down on the desk, Randi pushes the chair back and stands in a spike of temper. "Damnit, Ciara!" Flattening the fist to press her palm against the charts-covered desk, she tenses her muscles to stop the limb from visibly shaking. "Watchdragons are not a new concept! Dragons and their riders have served in that capacity as far as the records go back." She flings her arm out to one side as if to emphasize just how far they go. "L'han is a half-wit at best or a tunnelsnake at less-than-best. He flouts the chain-of-command, disobeys orders and acts like he hasn't the sense a wher is born with! He hit Alara's weyrmate because T'ryn told him that stranding a healer at the top of the weyr was dumb as fuck." Her eyes flick to Max, then. It was his mum that asked, after all. "There is a chain of command for a reason, Ciara, and L'han flaunts it whenever he feels like it because in his addled little brain, he thinks he knows better than whoever tells him no. Believe me, lass. I was doing everyone a favor - including him and his Escaeth - when I recommended him as Landing's watchrider. It's not a hard job, it's not even a bad job, but if he's such a whiny little bitch that he can't even handle that - and on top of which sent you to fight his battles for him - I'll find someone else who can." Grabbing the pick set off the corner of the desk, she moves to step around the desk and out the door. Outside, Kaseth stirs from her rest, opening one eye to watch her rider exit. The usually placid blue and green is streaked through with red, now, but as Randi is hale and whole - for the most part - the 'zen' queen simply returns to her nap.

Ciara starts when Randi slams down that fist, takes a step back from the desk as the other Weyrwoman stands, as if Ci's expecting for her to lash out. Randi's attack is all verbal though, but Ci looks pale and a little frightened as she lets the older rider berate her and L'han. What should she say? What can she say? It is a success when Randi goes to leave? Or something much worse? "Randi - I'm - I'm sorry - " Now the young gold rider is really regretting her words, as she turns to follow the other woman's exit. Max's words to her have not gone unheeded, and now Ci turns a helpless look onto him, unable to find the words to express herself. Finally she speaks, quiet. "Is the Weyr's state worse than I'm aware?" Because apparently he seems to know more than she does.

“Randi,” her name spoken in low warning as the goldrider loses it but Max at least lets her get out what she obviously needs to say, palming a hand over his face and exhaling a heavy sigh. Yeah, he’s not going to get into the middle of it save for sending her a wry twist of lips for his mother having been the inadvertent cause of it all but doesn’t go into her having done so on finding out that the squat little man had been stealing supplies to appease his mistress with pretty baubles. “Shit,” the expletive falls flat from his lips when Randi storms out his dark regard swinging after the bristling weyrwoman and then briefly settling onto Ciara with a faintly apologetic look, “She’s uh…shit…don’t take it to heart, darlin’. “ And then he’s round the desk and after the disgruntled goldrider pausing only to send the younger goldrider a long look before stating, “It ain’t pretty, darlin’.” And then he’s gone.

Theme Music: Collective Soul - The World I Know

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