Snakes And Fire


Randi.jpg Alara.jpg Rocio.jpg Kestian.jpg Atsya.jpg

Date: June 29, 2010
Location: Some caverns in the Weyr
Synopsis: Tunnelsnake Huntin' and pyromaniac discussions.
Rating: PG-13 for strong language.
Logger: Alara

Night is falling over Eastern Weyr. The temperatures are just now starting to cool from their daytime high and a large-ish group of riders and residents are gathering near the eastern wall of the upper bowl. Standing on a crate in front of everyone is the shorter, blonder of the two weyrwomen wearing a set of plain brown work clothes and carrying a long, wicked-looking knife. Her bright brown eyes scan over the approaching folk, waiting for them to gather together before giving her instructions. Lying on the ground next to her crate-cum-soapbox is a rather scruffy, whippet-like canine, licking its paws and wagging its tail every time someone walks by.

Alara stands back from all the rest, watching the massaes gather. She frowns and waits for her friend's instructions. Worry lines crease her face for a moment, and then she sees the small canine. The canine makes her smile. "I think we're probably about ready, don't you?" She asks her question in a soft voice, but it carries fairly well.

Atsya steps up tot he back of the crowd, curious what the gathering is about. She realizes fairly quickly that there's no way she'll see over the top of the bodies in front of her and so begins making her way around to the front side of the mass, politely moving in front of some of the taller weyrfolk.

"All right, you lot! We found a nest of tunnelsnakes in the kitchen cabinets this morning." Randi's voice carries easily over the crowd and though she is shouting, it doesn't seem to be relieving her apparently foul mood. "I will not have any rider or crafter or worker or candidate poisoned by those beasts in this Weyr." Oooh, someone is testy. "So we are going to roust the sharding beasties and drop their sorry carcasses Between!" Pointing to the dog next to her crate, she continues. "Anyone with a dog like Sophie, here, you'll be coming with me. Anyone with a flying shit-dropper will lead the way and the rest of you will bring up the rear with Alara. Come up here and grab a knife if you haven't got one, but don't waste my time, c'mon!"

Alara frowns at the other weyrwoman's wording, and then allows her face to form up into her public smile. She waves her hand in the air. "Right here." Everyone knows the Weyrwomen, of course, but she wants to make sure they know where to go. She shudders at the thought of finding a tunnelsnake in the cupboards, but this is something that Must Be Done, so she buckles down to do it. "We'll take some containers and collect the things, and any willing riders can dump them between when we finish."

Such lovely imagery, but at least the sentiment is pure… Astya lifts her hand to politely cover the smile that threatens to turn into a laugh, giving a soft cough as she steps back and out of the way of those shifting around her, especially those with animals, flying shit-droppers or otherwise. Once the crowd starts to separate she makes her way back towards the other junior weyrwoman.

Leading the charge - so to speak - Randi lines up behind the few Crafters who have firelizards and whistles for that whippet canine to come along. There's a small side-tunnel that the Smiths had been using for transport and storage while building the various rooms and halls of the Weyr that leads down into the dark bowels of the ancient cauldron. It is towards this passage they go and it is at the first fork that Randi signals their little mob to stop while she watches the canines sniff about and listens for any hints from the crafters with 'lizards.

Alara follows the main group with a little bit of trepidation. She doesn't mind the dark, but those tunnelsnakes… She shudders, and squares her shoulders, grabbing one of the containers. "Are you coming with me?" This is directed at Atsya. "I could use a little help carrying the containers.

Atsya pauses, a whole world and whirl of visuals going through her head concerning "dropping carcasses", but a job is a job, and it's definitely too early to get on the wrong side of the goldriders. "I'd be… glad to help." she says with a somewhat forced smile, picking up a small container as well.

As the group presses further into the tunnel, the entrance is blocked by the muzzle of a small gold dragon. A low rumble echoes down the passage and the sound seems to relax Randi a great deal. Even so, the blockage means even less light and so she reaches over to steal a large torch from the burly drudge behind her. If he happens to notice her hand shaking, he doesn't say a word. After a moment's whispered consultation with one of the crafters, she turns back to the group at large. "The dogs want to go left, but the 'lizards think right. So we split. You lot come with me and the dogs, and you - " she gestures towards the group containing Alara and Atsya, " - go with the pest wranglers."

This is Randi's show, so Alara nods, and turns to the young bluerider. "I guess we head this way, then." She gives a small chuckle. "Dark doesn't bother you, does it?" Her question is voiced softly. "I have trouble with the wiggly stuff, myself." Which is why the woman is carrying a container to hold them, instead of reaching down or stabbing the things herself. "Come, on, then."

Atsya follows along obediently behind the older woman, basket in arms. "The dark? No, I have no problem with the dark, per se. It's the… well… animal bits are usually supposed to stay inside of them. It's quite enough during feeding, but…" She shakes her head to try and clear it of the image of oozing vermin innards being savaged by canines and fire lizards.

Something slippery this way comes.

Suddenly there's a heavy, cold, smooth something sliding over Alara's feet. But no sooner is it there than it's gone again.

Alara shrieks, and jumps, nearly dropping her box. "Th-there's something on my foot!" She gestures toward where the animal has crossed her feet. "Getit!" She shudders and grabs ahold of her container tightly.

Atsya stands towards the rear of a mob armed with a menagerie of fire lizards, holding a basket. Next to her Alara is in the midst of freaking out. The younger woman bends down, looking in the darkness at Alara's feet while shuffling her own back a few feet. "I don't see anything…"

One of the men in the girls' group holds a glow-lantern up above their heads to better see the floor. No sign of anything untoward, but there's this awful feeling that something's brushing against the back of Atsya's heel…

"There was something! I swear…" Alara is ashamed of herself, and takes a moment to compose herself. "I'm sorry." If there was more light, Alara's cheeks would be flush with embarrassment. "Well, we're doing the right thing, I think." She chuckles self-deprecatingly, and steps forward.

Atsya nods her head, but suddenly goes very still, her arms gripping her basket tightly enough that her knuckles turn white. "If someone would be so kind as to look behind me on the ground," she says in her whispery soft voice. "It's entirely likely there's something there near or against my boots…"

Armed with nothing more than a glowbasket and a tunnelsnake hoop, Kestian is kind of … hanging on the edge of things, expression more stoic than anything else. This was probably not how he wanted to spend this part of his day. The freaking out though, earns a brief sympathetic grin, even if it goes unnoticed. Atsya's request though sees the harper lifting his glowbasket to peek at the ground by the rider'ss boots.

Sure enough, there's a tunnelsnake just behind Atsya's boots. It's a big one, too; a large male that looks incredibly confused at the sudden influx of light as not just Kestian's, but three other glowbaskets as well focus down on his world. Rather than fight or bite - as the more aggressive females are wont to do - he slithers as quickly as he can for a small hole in the wall.

With the influx of more light, Alara sees the tunnelsnake. "Use that hoop and get it, please, Harper." Her voice is tight with fear, but she stands stone still, refusing to run from it. "Or someone." She has never wished for Rauzath to be small, or for a firelizard, but at this moment, she wishes for one of those things. When it heads to the wall, she shudders again. "Can we catch it before it goes — ?"

To her credit Atsya doesn't scream, but she is very, very still with her eyes very, very closed as the chaos and shouting begin to unfold around her. It's only after it seems to have moved away from her several feet that she turns around to watch what's happening. A few quick breaths begin to return some color back into her cheeks.

"I'll try, Weyrwoman," Kestian answers politely, shifts the glowbasket a little and makes an attempt at hooking the snake that is a bit on the awkward side, but not hopelessly incompetent. He might've been better off with a more direct approach, like smashing the thing with a rock or a well-booted foot.

Ensnared, the creature who moments before had been passively trying to escape starts hissing and flailing with all the strength his massive muscles will allow. Fangs the color of spoilt milk are displayed, a drop of creamy venom just hanging onto one tip. Survival is of the utmost importance, after all. If running fails; fight!

Alara breathes a sigh of relief as the critter is grabbed. She holds out her box, waiting for the critter to be dropped in it, lid wide open. "Good catch." Her toothy smile reappears. They'll get through this. "Come along, bluerider…" She tries to remember the woman's name. "Can you remind me of your name, please?" There's a subtle glance toward the Harper as well. She'll get the hang of this soon, she hopes.

It's another breath or two before the younger woman is sure enough of herself to speak. "Atsya," she replies in a soft alto. "Zhiyth's rider." She watches Alara move forward to take the creature, letting her have this one, keeping her own basket for security purposes. "Has anyone asked the miners how they handle these things… in bulk I would hope…?"

Great, just great. Angry tunnelsnake on the end of a stick in a hoop. Kestian gives a sharp yank to tighten the noose and then gives the stick the hoop is attached to a snap in an attempt to kill the beast. Distracted he doesn't notice much of anything else until the snake gives up the ghost, then he looks up, sweeps a hand through his hair. "I don't suppose some form of poison would work? If they'd take the bait."

Kestian may be calm, but one of the lower caverns women behind him isn't. When the snake starts to flail, she screams loudly. The sound echoes down the narrow caverns and even as the dead 'snake is put in the basket, one of the crafters' big blue 'lizards swoops down and kills a smaller one the dared to poke her head out from the hole the male had been heading for.

Drawn by the noise, the second group approaches, lead by the small pack of loping whippet canines. Sophie and another, larger canine seem particularly interested by that dead female and the hole she's half into. Soon all of the canines are whining, barking and growling and doing their best to scrabble into the hole with paws and claws.

Alara jumps slightly at the return of the dogs, but holds the box steady enough to accept the 'snake. "C'mon, then, put it in there." Atsya's reminder gets a sheepish smile. "That's right. You're one of the riders from Southern." She does remember the names, it's keeping them attached to faces that's the problem. Especially when there's this much adrenaline running through her. "Randi… Randi…" There's creepy crawlies here. She notices the one peeking out. "There's another one…" When the blue gets it, she gives another relieved sigh.

Atsya wishes she could cover her ears against the cacophony, but the basket in her short arms prevents her from having any free hands. Her face scrunches against the audible pain as she gives Alara a look that says, "Please. Please make this go away." Doing so keeps her eyes off the lizard savaging the tunnelsnake corpse. "I think we've found a nest," she tries to say over the noise.

Thud goes the dead snake the harper caught into the basket and he blows out a breath, shakes his wrist to let the glowbasket's handle slide back to his palm. "It does seem that way," he agrees with Atsya and makes a slight face. "Almost wish it was feasible to flame them out," he notes dryly.

Her second day here, and unable to spend any more time examining the hides that dictate the ins and outs of her new career, Rocio had instead gone wandering in the caverns. It's the sound of a woman's scream that has her reaching inside of her belt, and reaching up to pull the filmy scarf that covers her features up, so that only her eyes can be seen. Rocio, all hundred pounds of her, darts forward toward the noise, only to slow again when the voices of hound and lizard add to the previous scream. Very slowly indeed, will she finally enter into the scene.

Bringing up the rear of her group - as she had been the furthest down - bounding blonde Randi sidles her way up to where the hounds are making an enormous fuss. Just behind her is their handler, who reaches into his pouch for bits of long ear meat to distract them with for the time being. The sound dies off then just enough for Randi to hear the Harper's suggestion. Swinging her hand down to clap him on the shoulder, she grins a bit wildly in his direction. "Excellent idea, man. Especially with such small entrance holes." This far down, it's not like they'll catch fire to anything important on the other side. Rock doesn't burn that easily. Turning to Alara, then, she arches one brow in an almost playful dare - meant to distract her friend from the 'crawlie' factor of their current task. "How many 'throwers we have working, 'La?"

"If it is a nest, it's a good thing." Alara is now back in her role. "There are so many of them, and we can get them out in one bunch." She hears her friend's voice, and relaxes even further. "Well, there are three working, and one was supposed to be finished by this Seven, so I suppose four total?" Yes, Alara has a head for this sort of thing. "Should we have someone fetch them?" She wrinkles her nose a bit at a pungent smell, but figures there's all sorts of things down here that have strong odors. "That might do, if we could… Work for a ground crew drill, too." They could treat it like one, anyway.

Kestian blinks as that hand drops to his shoulder and it takes him a moment to focus on Randi as she goes by. "Ah no, rock tends not to burn unless it's heated enough. So unless any of those cracks lead up to where there's anything flammable, should be fine, come to think of it," the harper agrees and smiles a little. "Practice and clean up all in one?"

Atsya looks from the harper to the weyrwoman to the older woman, considering the idea of crispy tunnelsnake. They would probably burn… if thread will burn then the vermin wold probably just pop… other things pop too… not o much pop as… "Excuse me," she says, trying to be heard over the harper. "Ahem? This is all new digging right? This whole Weyr?"

"Exactly." Randi turns another - slightly manic - grin on Kestian and nods to Alara. "Send someone who knows right where they are, though. I want to catch this nest now before they start eeking out their crawlie-holes." Another voice catches her ear, but even with their several glows, the shadows prevent her from being able to pinpoint its source. Frowning slightly, she tilts her head to one side. "Fairly new, yeah. I think the early work started two, maybe two and a half turns back, now. Why?"

Rocio remains where she is, back out of the strength of whatever light illuminates this expedition. First, Rocio glances behind her, then her shoulder finds friction on the height of the wall to her left. Her right arm curls in front of her, to be supported by the left.

Alara nods, and looks among the group. "You." She points out a grinning young man with a firelizard. "Can you leave her here and go get the flamethrowers?" She nods to another young man who is nearby who appears to be strong enough to carry two of the things. "Bring the three good ones, and that ought to be enough with the canines and firelizards. And be quick!" The pair of young men step quickly toward the exit, heading straight to where they're stored. "Are you worried about the effects of fire in here, Atsya?" She carefully pronounces the name, making sure she's got it right.

Atsya chews her lower lip a moment as she nods, a rare girlish gesture for the bluerider as she continues to clutch a basket. "It's just that my parents has a friend who was minecraft, and he had a son who had this thing for me… he used to come by and talk for hours, it was kind of embarrassing really," she muses briefly, "he was quite sweet, but…" She quietly clears her throat as she realizes she has gotten off track. "Are we sure there are no gas pockets? Really sure?"

"Poppin' fresh tunnelsnakes," Kestian mutters in an undertone, then musters an answering grin for Randi, head inclining politely. "Construction began on …" and hey the harper provides an exact date, then pipes down as orders are issued about flamethrowers and he looks over at Atsya thoughtfully, lifts his shoulders in a slight shrug: not his area of expertise.

"That's a very good question." One that Alara does not have the answer to. "Do you know the answer, Iardani?

"That's a very good question." One that Alara does not have the answer to. "Do you know the answer, Iardani?" She gazes over at the younger goldrider. "Because I'd hate to have crispy weyrfolk…" She gives a quiet snort to the thought. She turns back to the bluerider beside her. "Do you know how the miners test for that?" Surely the young suitor explained a little? She gazes around and catches sight of Rocio. "Do any of the hides you were given mention anything about that?"

Atsya shakes her head, looking a touch sheepish. "To be honest I wasn't really listening. He said it was usually younger apprentices that were sent in testing, but he did not say how. Surely there are some miners here as part of the building?" …so the youngest rider doesn't have to guess a way to test for deadly and explosive gasses.

"Exploding the Weyr, would definitely not be my favorite way to start out this posting," Kestian admits with a slight grin. "So a miner check does seem like a good idea. The glowbasket in his hand is hooked over his wrist again, enough to let him swipe the back of his hand across his forehead and push too-long hair out of hi eyes.

"Whers." Randi's answer is clipped short. "One of the main reasons they use the beasts." Unfortunately they don't usually keep whers at a Weyr. "Don't suppose the flying shit traps or the dragons would be able to smell it? Or the dogs?" She turns back to Alara with a question in her gaze, though she pauses a moment on the covered Rocio. In the shadows, she confuses the wrap for a miner's helm. "You there. Know a way besides the whers to check for gas?"

"No ma'am." To both ma'ams Low-toned voice issues from the scarf-covered woman, though the shift in the whites of her eyes suggest that she is looking at Alara first, then Randi. "Or, if the hides do, I haven't run across that yet." More information, deemed extraneous, is not given. Rocio does straighten slightly from her rock support, and Kestion's words get a concurring nod, "The creatures you're after probably aren't going anywhere so fast that you cannot afford to pull down an expert, ma'am." Either ma'am.

Atsya watches the senior women as they try to figure out a plan, turning to peer into the darkness at the mysterious figure of the newest arrival. Her head tilts as she studies the veiled figure before she turns back to the matter at hand.

Alara frowns. "That's right." She does remember something like that. "Is it worth the risk?" This is directed to Randi. "We could kill them this way this time…" She shudders, seeing the leftovers from the second tunnelsnake "We do have to do something." Maybe it's external pressures, but between that and feeling the thing crawl over her foot, Alara wants some of this taken care of tonight.

"It'd be quick at least, the flaming, so long as there's no gas pockets or other things that might make a bigger mess than popping lizards," Kestian offers his opinion and looks over into the shadows toward Rocio, curious, then back to the heart of the crowd where the goldriders discuss.

Randi considers this. "No, I don't suppose it would hurt…" Then again, she's got the agitation of a proddy gold behind her. She wants some action taken now. Looking towards Alara, she nods; they're on the same page here. Compromise, then. "We'll mark this spot. Start stuffing meat, scraps anything appetizing through that hole. Make that nest the most appetizing place for a tunnelsnake to be. That way when we get a wher down here, we can get them all in one blow." Again that brow goes up; sending a look between Alara and the others in turn.

Atsya coughs softly one more time. "Maybe there's another way… Does anyone know of agenothree reacts with gasses? If we were to flood the hole it would probably carry down into the side tunnels. If we just made sure anything on a lower level was clear…" she offers.

Alara vetoes that right off. "We need the Agenothree, unfortunately. We were lucky enough to get this batch." She does not really want to deal with a gold dragon when she can't fight the thread for lack of flamer. "Everyone's hoarding…" The situation is getting worrisome all over. "But I like the idea of luring them all here. I bet we could get some of the weyrbrats to stuff things into these holes…" She smiles brightly. "S' the kind of stuff they do anyway." That merits a small chuckle.

"Meat-stuffed holes," Kestian murmurs with a little shake of his head and then looks back up the corridor. "I'll go check on those that went after the flame throwers. See if any of the minecrafters are about." He nods politely in Randi and Alara's directions then turns to head back out.

"Excellent! Now, that's settled…" Crouching down on all fours an arm's length from the opening., Randi pushes her round glow towards the hole. Too big. "Smaller glows, smaller glows… My whole Weyr for some miniature glows." Glancing up to Alara, she squints against the now-heavier shadows. "Do glows come any smaller?"

Atsya steps back again, mulling over the problem quietly, continuing to clutch the basket absently as she does so. "Flooding with water?" she offers as an additional suggestion.

Alara looks into the nearest glowbasket. "Here's one." She holds up the phosphorescent ball, which is roughly half the size of the big one Randi has. "This one ought to work, right?" Get those creepy little things. "That'd take so much work…" Alara can't even begin to think about how many bucketsfull of water it would take. "You want to jam this in there?" She's not understanding what Randi is up to. But she hands over the little thing nonetheless.

Taking the smaller glow gratefully, Randi rolls it into the hole and pokes it further in with a stick, wincing at the sounds of disturbed tunnelsnakes moving away from the sudden light source. "They'll get used to the light, especially if we keep shoving food in here, too. And when they slither, they'll move it around and it's bound to pick up some shit to eat that way." She glances towards Rocio for confirmation. "They do eat shit, right? So if it has to eat, maybe it's like a plant and it'll stop glowing if there's only gas." Which then makes her pause, nose wrinkling in confusion. "If there's gas in there, would the 'snakes be able to live?"

"Yes ma'am. Shit eaters, those glows." Confirmed, with perhaps a hint of amusement in her low voice. The biology of the tunnelsnakes, however, Rocio has no clue about. She will watch the process with the same intense interest as the other spectators.

Atsya frowns a bit at the coarse language being used by the woman kneeling on the ground, but holds her own tongue. She's beginning to get the feeling that now that the tunnelsnake lynching is disipating into a longer plan that perhaps there are more important things she could be doing than freezing in a thin dress in an unworked tunnel and holding an empty basket. She steps back out of the way to let more interested parties move in closer.

"It sounds like a natural symbosis." Alara has lived at the Harper Hall too long, it seems. "Go on, then, Iardani." She frowns, thinking about the tunnelsnakes and the gas. "I'm not sure if they would be affected." She doesn't know enough about it to even make an educated guess. "Talk to a miner in the next day or two and come back within the Seven?" She is big on getting things planned out and done right. Atsya gets a curious tilt of the head as she backs off.

"Huh. Well, we'll tell the kids bringing scraps to keep a dog or a 'lizard with 'em. Both if they're able. And tell 'em about the light. See if they can still see it tomorrow or the next day." Standing once again, Randi brushes herself off and turns to Alara. "Good plan. Now," she eyes the retreating Atsya with a mildly confused expression. "If you'll excuse me, I'm taking some glows and my knife and Sophie and I - " she gestures towards the scruffy whippet dog that's wormed its way back to her feet, " - are going to go get us a few stragglers. Anyone that still feels like some hunting can come with me. Everyone else is free to scatter."

Atsya stops by the wall, turning to watch as the plan are finalized, giving both women brief, polite, tight-lipped smiles when they look at her but otherwise remaining silent. As those less hunt-oriented are given their dismissal she gives a silent sigh of relief and hands her basket off to one of the denizens of the lower caverns with a warmer smile and a nod.

Rocio eyes the hole, and the weyrwoman, with the same dubious expression, though the bulk of it is hidden behind that filmy scarf. Rocio does not immediately volunteer, but neither does she immediately leave.

"I think I"ll just take this one back, Randi." She gives her friend a smile. "I'll go talk to the Miner myself, and then the nanny." Alara has a good rapport with the Nanny. They understand each other. "Have Kaseth tell Rauzath when you're done, would you?" The older woman is a worrier. "Thank you, Tender." Alara offers Rocio her title, keeping the formality between them for a moment. She nods in reply to the bluerider, wondering what is worrying her. "Any coming out may follow me, if they like." And she steps toward the opening.

Nodding once to Alara, Randi grabs one of the brighter glow-lanterns and whistles once for Sophie. In the process of turning around to move deeper into the tunnel - and in the process hopefully work off some of this cursed dragon-born aggression - Rocio catches her eye and as the woman isn't moving, Randi waves her closer. "You coming with me, then?"

Atsya finishes sending off her basket before turning back to follow the weyrwoman out. Now unencumbered her hands fold lightly at her abdomen just above her belt. With a soft whisking of her dress she starts up the tunnel.

There's a flicker of indecision, but a grave nod to the older weyrwoman. "Weyrwoman." Soft-spoken, those syllables, with an indrawn breath and exhalation. But her attention is hooked by the more vital of the pair; perhaps Rocio can feel the energy rolling off of the younger Weyrwoman. "I've not killed them before. Never hunted them." An unseen twitch of her lips. "Heard my brothers talk about it."

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