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Black, Blacker, Blackest...

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Black, blacker, blackest...

Wait, why were they not above the starstones of home? Usually by now they had burst from between into warm skies..

And cold beyond frozen things.

Cold, so cold... burning cold settling inexorably into bones. Too long, this was too long between. Faranth, no..

Where is between when there is naught...

Where were the thoughts of Holth, the feeling of anything except the cold nothingness?
To Life but fragile dragon wings?

Had she visualised before they went between? the cold was leaching her thoughts. Why could she not be one who could speak to other dragons directly? Holth! Holth, listen to me, Holth... Orlith! Orlith…

Black, blacker, Blackest...

((You are still sad)) Nabeth said, as B'lerion tried to shake off the rather unfortunate hangover resulting from the bitter sweet Hatching Feast. Half the toasts had been to the new queenrider Oklina, and the other half to the memory of Moreta and Leri. The bronze rider grimaced, shying away from the memories.

((It's the wine)) he replied, dashing cold water in his face. ((We should have returned to High Reaches last night.))

((And you also said Moreta would have fed you to the watchwhers if you did a stupid thing like that)) Nabeth reminded him.

"Shards, yes," B'lerion said aloud and huffed a faint laugh that choked off as his throat tightened. "She was the best of us."

((As were Orlith, and Holth,)) his bronze reminded him. ((Now drink your klah, or we will not be able to have a conversation with our weyrleader about transferring. You did promise.))

"Transferring?" B'lerion's maudlin thoughts abruptly shifted. "When did I say that?"

((Last night. It is possible you might have still been drunk,)) Nabeth said with humour in his mind voice. ((But still you will do it. Hannath's rider makes you happy, Hannath likes me already.))

Somehow his dragon sounded smug about that.

"Yes, but.."

((Yes but we have spent more time at Fort Weyr than at High Reaches aside from flying Fall. It is inevitable)) the bronze said with finality. ((I would like to come here.))

B'lerion had to admit that his attraction to Oklina was more than just the attractiveness of a potential new conquest. He did not lack for partners or offers of every kind. He could have his pick of women, and men for that matter, from crafter, holder or weyrfolk, but Oklina was different. Maybe he had spied the gold beneath the ordinary surface, maybe it was just his time, but he had never wanted to be with someone as much as he did with her. Maybe it was time to be decisive, and not waste a chance. He headed out towards the weyr ledge to where Nabeth was trying to catch the rays of the early morning sun. Still warmer than High Reaches, he had to admit which was a definite plus point. The mountains were beautiful and made for spectacular flying sometimes but dragons liked the sun. He could always make time to slip back there to fly, if he wanted to.

Sharding timing it. If it weren't for that they would not have lost Moreta and Holth and then Leri and Orlith. Fardling Telgar… There would be words to be said at the next Conclave that was for sure. If only they could change it. But it had happened, and could not be changed.

((How do you know?)) Nabeth interrupted his musing, turning his great bronze head to focus on his rider, his eyes whirling faster, shifting shades as he leaned in closer. his eyes were mesmirsing like that.

"It's happened," B'lerion said as he automatically reached to scratch Nabeth's eyeridges.

((But why can't we stop it?)) Nabeth asked calming down at his riders touch, his eye colour shifting to hues of blue and green. ((Has anyone ever tried?))

B'lerion opened his mouth to answer and then realized there had been no cautionary tales, no one mentioning anything, just the handed around knowledge by word of mouth that it could not be done.

"I don't know.." he said slowly. "I actually don't know."

((Then let us try!)) Nabeth said sounding determined. ((You know when it happened, so we can find them!)) His dragons' excitement spilled out onto him, and he wanted to do it, to try it, but…

"Moreta would feed me to the watch wher's if I risked you Nabeth," he said stroking the soft gleaming bronze dragonhide. "I'll look into it. I can probably charm my way into the archives at Healer hall, and no one will think I'm looking up anything in the archives here at Fort. But I want to know if it has been tried before I do anything."

((Fine. I won't forget)) Nabeth said as he shifted position to stretch.

"You're a dragon. You may not get a choice in the matter," B'lerion answered as he checked his riding straps. "You forget a lot of things."

((Not this,)) Nabeth insisted. ((No matter what))

"We'll see Nabeth, we'll see," B'lerion said patting his dragons neck. A day or so and he was sure it would be gone from the great bronze's head, replaced with thoughts of chasing greens and golds. There was plenty of other things to do, shorthanded as all the weyrs were. Thank Faranth the Falls were occurring with less frequency this late in the Pass otherwise even with the threat of plague gone, Pern would still face terrible danger.

Oklina paused, wiping her brow after oiling down Hannath's hide for what seemed like the umpteenth time. She was so large now she was hoping Kamiana would allow her to try riding soon as Hannath wasn't a Hatchling any more, and she was showing no strain from the way she was sitting on her to accomplish her mucky task. Abruptly her young queen raised up on her haunches and bugled a welcome, spilling her lifemate to the ground in an undignified mess.

"Hannath!" she protested, trying to stop the oil spilling over her clothes more than necessary.

((Nabeth comes! I must greet him,)) her gold replied, sounding excited to see her favourite bronze. It was almost amusing quite how much she favoured the other dragon. A lot of the other bronze looked more than a bit disgruntled when Nabeth came visiting.

"B'lerion?" Unaccountably she felt flustered. Look at the state of her! Her a gold rider and not behaving with appropriate dignity. Sh'gall would seething like a nest of newly hatched tunnelsnakes at her 'letting down the good name of the weyr and besmirching the memory of Moreta and Leri with her slovenly ways'. It was difficult to stay immaculate when you were working all the time and there was certainly little in the way of resting and idleness for a goldrider.

((Nabeth says his is going to the archives again,)) Hannath said as he caught sight of the glint of sun on a bronze hide swooping closer as the rider pair came into land.

"Again?" Oklina frowned. "He has been doing that for... well since you hatched and I could still lift you."

No chance of that now. Hannath was already bigger than an adult green. She was going to be a large queen. One of Orlith's finest, Kamiana was fond of saying, even if it was with that pervasive tone of sorry in her voice.

((Nabeth says his is excited about something. That he wants to check something and then will come and see you. It is a secret.)) Hannath seemed intrigued. ((I want to know the secret! He will tell me.))

"No, no...I want to change before he gets here," Oklina told her dragon rapidly. "I'm all over oil thanks to a certain dragon of mine."

((Oh…)) Hannath's golden head turned to inspect her. ((You are a bit dirty. You need someone to scrub your hide, too.))

Oklina found herself blushing a little. She knew who she wanted to do that, but the other riders kept repeating over and over how the dragon chose and sometimes it was not who you would prefer. She didn't want to get her hopes up, but if she had a day dream it was of the bronzerider that had spent so much time bringing her out of the shadow of the family name. "Changing... tell me when he gets here!" she said hurrying into her weyr.

She was barely presentable by the time Hannath alerted her that B'lerion came in, smiling that ridiculously handsome smile of his that made her feel she was a goldrider even before she had Impressed.

"My duties to you and your queen, goldrider Oklina," he said with mock formality and then reached and grabbed hold of her to swing her around in exuberant good humour.

"B'lerion!" Oklina tried to protest but started laughing. "Stop that! It's not dignified."

"To between with dignity..." her handsome bronzerider said, stopping never the less. "I cannot restrain myself around you."

"And here I thought our archives were more alluring," she retorted as half a question and a mild rebuke. He had been spending an inordinate amount of time in the archives, considering most people assumed he was as single-minded as a bronze chasing a green.

"Well, I had to prevent myself from getting carried away with you somehow before Hannath was ready," he murmured in her ear. She had missed this, his playful side. The side that had shown her, along with Moreta's example, that you could live and enjoy life, as well as fulfill your Duty.

"Now stop that. Hannath says you have a secret," she said, drawing him away to sit down where they could see Nabeth and Hannath getting close.

"Hannath is almost as much as a tattle tale and a nag as my own old auntie of a dragon," B'lerion said. "What happened to the short memory of the dragon mm? For some reason he had this idea and he's been on and on and on about it."

"Oh yes? And has this been the cause of your uncharacteristic obsession with dusty Records?" Oklina asked, sitting down with him close to her.

"It is." He fell uncharacteristically silent, his normal flirtatious grin, vanished suddenly in a manner that was almost shocking.

"B'lerion?" Oklina asked, pressing him for more of an answer. "What is it?"

"It's... we, that is Nabeth and I think we have worked out a way to try and save Moreta."

Oklina could barely take in what he had just said. Dragons were amazing creatures, but they could not bring back the dead. "That's impossible...isn't it?"

"Well. No one has discovered that it is definitely impossible," he answered her. "Timing it... there are some weyrfolk who have speculated upon what it means. Some of it is way above my head, but the theory is... how would we know if we had changed something? Things would change with it. So in that case it becomes a question of not 'could we save her' but 'should we save her'?"

"Of course we should save her!" Olklina answered , wondering how it could even be a dilemma. "If there is a way to save Moreta and Orlith, Leri and Holth...of course."

"Even if it meant this time you didn't Impress Hannath?" B'lerion answered in a low serious voice.

That struck her to the core and had her dragon charging over towards her to see what had alarmed her so. " that what would happen?" Go back to… not being whole? The mere thought filled her with anxiety and fear.

"I don't know. But the smallest thing could change everything. Or nothing." B'lerion said.

((Mine, what is wrong? Why do you think we would not be together?)) Hannath said nuzzling at her reassuringly. ((That would never happen.))

((I know love, I know,)) Oklina soothed the golden queen. ((But if things were different...))

((You are mine, you have always been mine, and will always be mine)) Hannath stated firmly. ((Nothing can change this))

((But if B'lerion and Nabeth go… and try and save Holth and Moreta, it could change what happens.)) she bespoke her dragon.

((Not that. We are together)) Hannath said firmly and with a dragons simple confidence. ((Do not fear))

"Hannath thinks I am being stupid," Oklina confessed. "Wouldn't it be dangerous though?"

"That we don't know, but... that is the risk," B'lerion said. "But I think I have to do this Oklina. Now I know we might, I don't know if I can avoid wondering my whole life 'what if' if i don't. It might not work at all, but at least I will have tried."

"I don't want you to do it if it risks you," Oklina said searching his face for signs that he might be concealing any risk from her. "Not when you are transferring here after Turn's End. I've waited long enough for you to 'train up your replacement'."

"True enough. I did want to tell you before I tried so someone would know," B'lerion said. "We are… going to try it shortly."

"Now? " Oklina clutched at his arm, feeling a surge of fear. "B'lerion, I've barely been able to see you as it is, what if.."

"I know how to time it, Nabeth is very good at it," B'lerion reassured her. "It may not work. But then we will have lost nothing."

She wanted to say something, anything. 'I love you' but that was the heart of a Holder girl singing romantic ballads into her mind. "Stay safe," she said and leaned over to kiss him, just one tender kiss to take with him. She didn't understand what he was trying to do, what it involved, for all that she had travelled in time with him before. It seemed impossible to her mind that a world would change as a result of his actions.

He looked startled for a moment and then nodded. "We will," he answered and got up. "Hopefully we will be seeing you soon."

"Fair skies B'lerion," she said again as she watched him go to Nabeth. There was nothing that she could do but hope that succeed or fail she would see him again and they he knew what he was doing.

((You were wise not to tell her everything,)) Nabeth said ((It would only have worried her))

((You're not helping,)) B'lerion replied concentrating on the visualisation.

((Our plan will work)) his dragon assured him as they rose into the skies. ((The fact that we went forward in time allows us to do this. We will speak to ourselves, or hand ourselves your message, then return. The Us of then will then become the Us now, who can change things. Therefore it will be what always happened. If we tried to do it, it would not work because it has happened for us but it won't have happened yet for them.))

((I'm not sure how it is you understand this better than I do)) B'lerion replied. He did understand though. It had been a dusty speculative passage from a Weyrleader long ago, describing ideas and dangers. It had been adamant that you could not change things you had experienced yourself, but had speculated that the you that hadn't yet experienced it could. He could picture that day among the needlethorns with crystal clarity, having practised it over and over. He had a message written in case getting close was impossible because records described physical effects from getting close could be severe. ((Are you ready?))

((Always)) And they were between.

The forests of Keroon were as hot as he remembered, after the slightly longer trip between. He felt a bit strange as they landed a little away from where he knew Moreta was finally consummating a love with Alessan and he was doing the same with Oklina. "Resting" of course. He remembered that Oklina had fallen asleep and he had wandered away a little to answer a call of nature for a few moments. That would be time enough.
He crept forward, carefully not to disturb the others as he did so, waiting for that moment. He felt dizzy which he knew was a sign of the proximity off his other self, and fought a growing nausea. He heard a rustle , and a wave of weakness swept over him.

"B'lerion," he said in a low whisper, trying to stand and step out but having to clutch onto a trunk to do so. Seeing himself was more disorientating than he believed possible. A tearing headache started and he knew he could not tolerate the proximity for long. "B'lerion, it's you...from the future...shardit, I miscalculated the effect off being close. Here…" He tried to throw the message, but his hands had started shaking badly.

"Who..?" his other self stood still, stunned as the message on the record hide rolled at his feet and he staggered as well, clearly similarly affected.

"Read it, do it.." His nose started bleeding; he could feel the warm blood dripping down his face. "We're too close, I must go.."

He staggered away, back towards Nabeth. No-one had ever said proximity would be more than just disorientating. He felt as if parts of him were wanting to tear apart.

((We must leave Nabeth, quickly)) he mindspoke even as he reached his dragon

((You have delivered the message?)) Nabeth asked helping him up the best he was able. The metallic taste of blood filled his mouth.

((Yes. Though what will happen I do not know?)) B'lerion said wiping his nose with a grimace as they went aloft.

((Either we will act and save Moreta and Holth, or we will not)) Nabeth said pragmatically.

((And if we fail?)) B'lerion asked though he knew the answer

((Then nothing changes and we arrive at Fort again and see Hannath and her rider)) his dragon answered.

((And if we succeed?))

((Then we will go into between and we will never have happened,)) his dragon answered in a softer voice.

In an odd way it felt right, a balance of sacrifice. One pair to save another pair. Their existence to never have been...was that why people said it was impossible? You could only do it if the pair doing it ceased to exist?

It would not stop them, no. He knew they would have protected Moreta and Holth, Leri and Orlith with their lives. They had lost two precious golds and when there were so few, everyone of them was the lifeblood of Pern.

He gave the visualization again and took a deep breath. ((Just in case Nabeth...)) he said letting all the feeling he had for his life mate, rise to the surface unfettered and as bright as that day of Impression when his life had changed in ways he could not have imagined.

((We are together)) his bronze dragon replied with a tenderness and pride and unconditional love that wrapped around them both.

And then they focused and disappeared between.

B'lerion picked himself up of the grassy area where dizziness had forced him to his knees, looking at the tied roll of Record hide with astonishment. What on earth had possessed him to double up and try and meet himself? That was... forbidden, incredibly dangerous.

((It must have been important)) Nabeth said.((I cannot sense them any more. It hurt my head.))

((Mine too,)) B'lerion answered. ((Is Oklina still sleeping?))

((Yes, I will tell you if she stirs)) his dragon supplied.

B'lerion hesitated. It could be a warning of some kind about the plague. He had to read it, there was no real choice. He opened it carefully, feeling the disorientating feeling of recognising his own writing but with no recollection of actually writing it.

In case you need proof I am really you, when you were a weyrbrat, you were the one that sneaked onto the Sands and moved the egg with the brown and silver blotches, that led to Ulenath banning any of that Clutchings Candidates onto the Sands until the very last moment. You never told anyone, and kept quiet. Now I have provided you with proof, you have to listen. We are trying to change a future. Nabeth thinks it can be done if *you* do it because it has not happened yet for you so you can change what you are yet to do, whereas we cannot change what we have already done. It gives me a sharding headache but this is the situation...

B'lerion read with an almost uncomprehending horror the tale he had written to himself about the betrayal of Telgar, the heroic efforts of Moreta and Holth to save Pern and their last final exhausted jump accidentally between. There were coordinates, descriptions of places, everything he would need to know and the admonition that it still might not work. The note finished with a hasty scribble to make sure Oklina was taken to the weyr for the queen egg before wishing himself luck and fair skies.

((I do not understand)) Nabeth said sounding confused.((It says Orlith and Holth are gone but they are not. How can we stop that? It has not happened.We cannot stop something that hasn't happened.))

"By stopping them before the make that last jump. They... I caution myself that we cannot stop her doing the now famous ride. She really was the only one who knew that area aside from the Telgar riders," B'lerion answered absently, going over it again, trying to make it sink in. Was it really real? He could have proof of that soon enough. Telgar behaving as described seemed impossible. If that happened, well he would have his proof and a cue to act. He would stop her making that last jump if it started happening as the letter described.

((Oklina is stirring,)) Nabeth warned him and he hastily tucked the record hide away.

"Not a word until we know this is real," he cautioned. "We will wait and see."

((We must go now to Keroon,)) Nabeth insisted, though they were exhausted themselves. Events had unravelled at a startling pace and even now, Orlith was on the Hatching grounds with Leri, Moreta was folding herself through time more times than he would have dreamed possible. Somehow all the proof was happening here and now and he could barely catch his breath to keep up.

"The letter says that it was noon in Keroon almost exactly when the dragons keened," B'lerion said. "I'm willing to bet a skin of Benden white she is holding the sun as a midpoint reference wherever she was, and whenever she was traveling. We'll try and go a little before."

It was hard to force that sort of image into your mind, just a fraction out of true. ((Let's go Nabeth!))

They jumped between to Keroon arriving just in time to see a flash of gold launching sluggishly into the area and vanish abruptly barely a couple of wingbeats into the air.

"No!" B'lerion yelled "MORETA!"

((I can still hear Holth!)) Nabeth said. ((We can find her between and give them where they need to go!))

Dragons never ceased to amaze him, but he had heard tell of dragons searching between for a lost dragon...there must be some critical point where it could be done.

((Go! I will hold the image of Fort in my mind to give to them!)) B'lerion said urgently as they dove into the blackness of between mere moments after Moreta and Holth.

Black, blacker, blackest...

Wait, why were they not above the starstones of home? Usually by now they had burst from between into warm skies..

And cold beyond frozen things.

Cold, so cold... burning cold settling inexorably into bones. Too long, this was too long between. Faranth, no..

Where is between when there is naught...

Where were the thoughts of Holth, the feeling of anything except the cold nothingness?
To Life but fragile dragon wings?

Had she visualised before they went between? the cold was leaching her thoughts. Why could she not be one who could speak to other dragons directly? Holth! Holth, listen to me, Holth... Orlith! Orlith…

Black, blacker, Blackest...

((I do not know where I am, where is my rider? Moreta? Where is my rider?))

Black, so cold and black, no air , everything so distant. She was a speck of dust in the abyss, smothered by it, dissolving into bitter nothingness...

((Holth! Moreta! It is Nabeth, where are you?))
Here, she wanted to say but there was no voice between save thoughts. The cold had frozen her voice in her head as well as on her lips.

((Answer! Or you will be lost, Holth, Moreta...we can find you if you answer!)) Nabeths voice pierced her disorientation. She could not loose Holth, she could not be parted from Orlith. No voice save that of the mind in between.

((Nabeth...)) a whisper but in the stillness, it was as loud as a shout.

((I have you! I have found you. Holth, this is where we must go)) Nabeth sounded exultant. ((Mine has the image.))

And ....light. Blazing, hot, burning like a furnace and they were barely above the ground and Holth folded up between one wing beat and the next. She was flung around in her straps like a child's rag doll as they skidded to rest in the dirt of the weyrbowl.

((Moreta! Mine! I could not hear you. You were going! ))bOrlith sounded panicked. ((You do not feel right, you are blue and Holth is grey!)) She trumpeted an alarm call to the weyr to bring help even as Moreta lay half dangling from her flying straps gasping like a landed fish gulping for oxygen. Everything hurt, and she felt dizzy, and sick and suddenly boiling hot as if she had been plunged into a furnace. Weakly she started clawing at her clothes, vaguely recognising the symptoms as extended hypothermia.

Orlith was charging across the Sands and she could barely keep her eyes open.
There were hands clutching at her somehow and voices that faded in and out;

"Get a healer!"

"No, no fellis you idiot, not with breathing difficulties.."

That was correct, you didn't fellis anyone in respiratory distress. Was that why her chest felt so heavy? Had someone given her fellis?

"B'lerion's collapsed as well!"

"Shards, thats makes three of them!"

((Mine, please don't leave me)) Orlith's voice sounded piteous in her mind and she cracked open an eye to see the blurry gold shape of her dragon's head looming in her vision.

((I won't Orlith,)) she managed ((I'm just… dizzy. Got too cold. Tell them that))

((Too cold? I shall tell them.)) she promised crooning worriedly at them. ((We will make you warm. You scared me so much. Never, ever, ever do that again!))

((I don't intend to,)) Moreta managed. She wanted to ask what was wrong with B'lerion and who the third was but everything was going fuzzy again. Probably shock. It was no good, she couldn't stay conscious any longer and she drifted into a gentler darkness eve as chaos reigned around her.

Moreta became dimly aware in increments. It was unusual for her, as it was her habit to wake and be up and fully functioning very rapidly. She had too much to do to start lazing around. Her head ached abominably and she was parched and her arms felt like lead. It was like she had relapsed to having had the plague because she felt completely enervated.

"I see you are finally awake," a female voice came from the right side of her.

"Oklina?" Moreta blinked herself awake. Was she at Ruatha then? She remembered coming to the weyrbowl and little else aside from Orlith's frantic voice in her head. "What are you doing here?" Her voice was dry and horrible and she had evidentially slept a long time.

"Impressing Hannath," Oklina said with a dry humour she remembered catching glimpses of in their brief interactions. "I'm sorry to say you slept through the Hatching. Orlith was not best pleased.Here, have some fruit juice."

"You've Impressed?" Moreta struggled to push herself up, hating the act she felt very weak. "But you should be with your dragon.

"Hannath is sleeping on your ledge - I'm afraid she eats, sleeps, demands oil, then more food and little else at the moment," Oklina said with a radiant smile that transformed her into startling beauty. Moreta had often considered that was why dragonriders were considered a breed apart. "So they thought I might be of some use in watching you, and giving you medicines. You've been ill, Weyrwoman Moreta."

"Just Moreta. We are both Queenriders now it seems. Help me sit up please, I feel as if I haven't moved for a sevenday." She desperately wanted to soak her aching joints and muscles in hot water and scrub down with some sweetsand.

"Of course… Moreta," Oklina said with a smile."And you are not far from the truth. It has been four days since you returned." She would make a good dragonhealer, Moreta decided as Oklina manhandled her upwards. She had no fear of the ill or awkwardness and that could be invaluable around panicking dragons. Once she was sat up, drink in hand terribly aware of her lank oily hair, Moreta tried to get her bearings.

"Tell me what happened," she asked taking a sip to wet her parched mouth. "I remember the ...last jump and...." Fear, paralysing fear made her throat tighten. Darkness, and more darkness going on forever. She had to cover the moment by taking a drink.

"We thought you lost between," Oklina said. "I was not here then, but I have heard the others say that you came out of between with Holth, both of you more than half dead at the same time as B'lerion and Nabeth. But they collapsed too, so no one knows for sure what happened before hand. "

She could see the concern and devotion practically glowing on Oklina's face when she spoke about the bronze rider.

"And Leri and Holth?" Moreta said.

"Leri collapsed too… There were three of you down at the same time," Oklina explained. "But Leri had fainted from shock and relief so she is well recovered, and very vocal."

She had nearly lost Leri her dragon. That was unforgivable! How could any one forgive such a thing? If it had been Orlith, what would she have thought?

"I should get up and get dressed," she said decisively, instantly thinking she would able to move like she did before. It was a failure in a rather shocking fashion as her knees buckled almost instantly. Fortunatly Oklina had been ready to catch her and ease her down from her ill advised movement.

"Mm, Leri warned me you would do that," Oklina said with a faint smile. "She said you are a terrible patient, as bad a patient as you are a good healer."

"I am no..." Moreta hesitated, as the shaking of her hands belied her efforts to protest she was fine. "Well maybe I'm a little out of sorts."

"Just a little," Oklina teased lightly.

"What happened to the shy Holders daughter, hmm?" Moreta asked tartly as she sat back again. That seemed Turns ago and it was barely any time at all since the Gather at Ruatha.

"There was the plague, and then I Impressed Hannath," Oklina said and a firm voice. Yes, Impressing a dragon could bring a transformation to a quiet personality, but equally Moreta could tell Oklina had been touched by hardship and grief as well. Quite simply she had grown up sooner than she should have been required to do.

"Tell me about her?" Moreta asked watching Oklina's face, rather than listening to her words as she lit up again extolling the virtues of her dragon.

((Both of them have been helping me,)) Orlith said to her sleepily as she woke in her mind. ((Your thoughts have been most strange. Full of darkness and fear. Like they were when you were ill. You must never fly anywhere without me ever again, I forbid it))

((I know Orlith, I am sorry.)) She had absolutely no intention of going anywhere without Orlith ever again.

Oklina was describing the Hatching in an animated fashion completely at odds with the shy girl who had apologised for everything that day at Ruatha and she found herself amused by the way arms were being waved enthusiastically as part of the discription..

((Yes well, I promised I would bring a fat wherry to Holth. She is regaining strength as well,)) Orlith commented.

((What happened Orlith? Do you know?)) Moreta asked, sipping her juice and feeling more human with each passing moment.

((I think Nabeth knows but he will not talk to anyone because his rider is not well either,)) Orlith answered. ((I think they found you between with Holth.))

Was that even possible?

"And she looked into my eyes and said My name is Hannath and you are mine!" Oklina said, interrupting her train of thought. "I nearly fell over my own feet getting up. It was the most incredible thing, I mean, everything, I never imagined..."

"I know," Moreta said smiling at the younger woman's evident joy. "I know.." It was hard not to think back to her own Impression, and echo the expression on the younger woman's face. It was no wonder dragonriders were considered different. "Orlith said something is wrong with B'lerion?"

"I think they also stayed between longer than normal searching for you both. He has a nasty fever and cough, but it is not the Plague fortunately," Oklina said. "He is up and around at least, trying to pretend there is nothing wrong."

"That's good to hear," Moreta said relieved and shifted uncomffortably. "I am absolutely dying to bathe. Is there any way you could help me to the bathing pool?"

"Of course, "Oklina said. "You realise my brother will want to see you? He has been sending messages all the time...not asking about his sister, the new goldrider but about you."

Alessan... was something interesting bright and wonderful, but he was a Lord Holder now, and as tied by duty as a dragonrider. Still, she could not deny their connection. "Perhaps we will visit when I can fly again." The thought of going between still filled her with a dread but it was something she would have to face, or never fly Thread, or fly anywhere.

Oklina had stood up, pulling at her furs. "Let's get you cleaned up and in fresh clothes, and a change of everything before your adoring weyrfolk line up for you."

"I do hope you're joking," Moreta said pushing herself up. She had to lean heavily on the new weyrling goldrider but was pleased to be able to stand on her own two feet.

"I only wish I was," Oklina said. "This way...and then afterwards, I think Leri said you could sit out for a short while in the sun with Orlith, and I can show you Hannath."

Moreta nodded determined that a little thing like a near death experience wouldn't stop her manners. She should be introduced to the newest gold on Pern after all.

((You fell asleep again)) Orlith commented and Moreta groaned. This was getting very annoying. She felt helpless as a babe and it did not sit well with her. She was used to being capable in a crisis and at the moment, it seemed even minor effort caused her to become exhausted and fall asleep.

"This is getting very irritating,"she said aloud as she got up again. At least she did not have a permanent escort any more though it was still close. Oklina had not been wrong about the people who had been queuing up to see her and it was exhausting having to smile and be pleasant all the time when she felt so crotchety.

((That is because you keep trying to do too much,)) Orlith said. (( It has not been long, and the Masterhealer said it was not just going between but all of the timing it you did before hand that was straining you. He had never heard of someone doing so much.))

"I don't intend to do it again, and I should be recovered by now. Oklina has Hannath to look after rather than nursing me," Moreta answered.

((Oklina likes nursing you. You are someone she knows and respects a great deal. You have been teaching her much!))

"When I'm conscious," Moreta said with a sigh.

"Feeling sorry for yourself?" Leri's voice interrupted her as the older goldrider entered the room. "You have always been a bad patient yourself. "

She walked stiffly over toward her and for the first time Moreta thought she could empathise with her friends inability to get around like she used to. She hadn't seen Leri since she was conscious and had started to wonder if she had been correct about not being forgiven.

She was at a loss for words, with someone she had known for Turns. Someone who had trusted her to ride her dragon, which in many ways was an ultimate expression of respect. And yet she had nearly lost her dragon and she knew that was tantamount to a death sentence. Moreta looked at her mentor in silence for a moment as her usual confidence failed her.

"You don't have to say anything," Leri said after that awkward pause. "I know you, Moreta. You are sitting there taking on the responsibility for everything and feeling guilty."

"I have a lot to feel guilty for," Moreta said in an even tone. If she wasn't so exhausted still she would not feel so vulnerable and emotional she was sure.
"Oh, so you are personally responsible for the Plague are you?" Leri queried. "Personally responsible for the reprehensible behaviour of Telgar and those there not fit to call themselves Dragonriders?"

"No," she answered. "But nearly being lost between... I'm too experienced to not take responsibility for that. I knew Holth was tired, I was tired. I knew we should stop, but...I didn't stop."

"You couldn't stop," Leri said easing herself onto a chair. "That is the long and short of it. Thank Faranth B'lerion and Nabeth came after you. You have taken the brunt of the harm from that misadventure."

"I never want to feel like this again," Moreta said in frustration and Leri laughed, a deep chuckle of amusement.

"I'm afraid you will at least once if you live to my age," the older goldrider pointed out gesturing to herself. "That's how I feel a lot of the time. Now stop being impatient with your body which you have been running ragged and tell me you have let go of any ridiculous guilt."

Moreta shifted a little. "I feel different," she confessed. "Less certain somehow."

"I would be surprised if you did not," Leri answered. "It will pass. We do have a tendency to believe ourselves invulnerable because we have our dragons by our sides, it always comes as a rude surprise when it seems we are human after all."

Moreta nodded slowly, "I suppose you are right about that. I'm used to being the healer not the healed, decisive rather than indecisive."

"And you look at Oklina as your replacement," Leri said astutely.

"I... well," Moreta hesitated. "You are far too canny for me. She is young and full of energy, I feel too old."

"Mmm so old that you still managed a toss dance barely a few months past,"Leri pointed out.

((She is right you know, ))Orlith chipped in. ((You are feeling sorry for yourself and you know it. Oklina and Hannath need us, as you need Leri and Holth. This is the way knowledge should be shared!))

((Oh, so now you decide to weigh in?)) Moreta replied a little tetchy with her dragon. ((Why not before?))

((Because you needed to hear it from someone else. And you respect Leri and value her opinion.))

"Orlith giving you a piece of her mind is she?" Leri smiled a little. "I've had that from Holth several times already.

"I'm being told that I'm being an idiot in not so many words," Moreta said dryly. "Fine, I can assure all of you I am being impatient with myself, and yes feel a little like I could be replaced and frankly some residual guilt... which I understand is not logical. But feelings rarely are. I will get over it, I am determined to do so."

"And you will. However, one issue you might want to think long and hard about is your...connection with Ruatha's Lord Holder."

"What do you mean?" Moreta asked. "Alessan? What is there to think about. He is good company, a welcoming host and ..."

"And Oklina tells me he is smitten and so are you and it's a Harper's Ballad writing itself," Leri pointed out.

"It is no ones business but our own," Moreta said blandly. She turned at the light clearing of a throat seeing Oklina in the doorway.

"I beg you pardon weyr… uh Moreta, but I'm afraid it is," she said quietly. "Things have changed... circumstances have changed. My brother is now the sole heir to the Hold... especially with me as a dragonrider now."

Moreta exhaled. Sole heir - somehow that had not been high on her list of things to consider with the crisis, but for all her recovery she could see the problem right away. "He will need heirs and a Lady Holder."

"And begging your pardon, but I don't think you are ready to give up being a rider to have children and look after a Hold," Oklina said.

((No, you have a weyr to look after, )) Orlith said thoughtfully. ((Perhaps he could come here?))

((I don't think so love, and I don't think if I truly care for him that I could ask him to do that. His is the blood of Ruatha.))

"I shall speak with him when the Masterhealer deems me ready to ride," she said trying not to sound anything other than calm. It seemed she was fooling no one.

"He would wait for you," Oklina said apologetically. "But then Ruatha would die. It is still somewhere I think of as home and I couldn't stay quiet and see it fade away. I hope you forgive me, because if anyone deserves that happiness it would be you. We were working ourselves to the bone to save it and alessan lives for the place. It kept him alive after ...well."

"And the runners? Is Squealer's line still intact?" Moreta asked desperately looking for a less emotive subject.

"All that said, you really are two of a kind," Leri said. "It is a choice of course, but no one said that all our choices had to be good ones."

She didn't want words of wisdom just then, she wanted someone to say she deserved to be happy and there was a way that Alessan and her could be together, but she also knew that wasn't to be, instinctively. There was a part of her that recognised on a very deep level that her liaison was something bright and brilliant but as short lived as a shooting star. What she wanted and what was needed were two very different things and she had already proven that personal was not the same as important.

"Ruatha must thrive," she said and forced a smile at Oklina. "After all, where would we get all of our best weyrwomen?"

Oklina blushed a little at that which amused Moreta and Leri.

"You're going to have to get used to more than that Oklina," Moreta said. "There will be plenty of bronzeriders trying to sweep you off of your feet with outrageous flattery."

"Oh, let me tell you a few things about bronzeriders I have known," Leri said beckoning Oklina to sit down, as her eyes took on a mischievous glint. "Now, no matter what they say… the dragon does not make the man, if you know what I mean!"

As the two of them started giggling, Moreta started to feel a little more like herself. If she couldn't have Alessan, she could have this at least. And Orlith. She always had Orlith.

Seeing Oklina come back in from her first flight on Hannath, with her face alight with the excitement and thrilling afterglow of the somewhat acrobatic experience had made Moreta feel as proud of the young goldrider as if she was her own kin. As her strange feelings of feeling disjointed and out of place started to fade, she started to get more like herself again, the odd irascible frustrated mood aside. Oklina and her spent a lot of time together, more so than she had spent with Leri and it was a change of pace, seeing the world afresh through the younger woman's eyes. Describing weyrlife to the Holdbred girl had caused her a lot of merriment and brought back memories of her own first year or so at the weyr coming from Keroon. Having the talk about weyr morals was by far the most challenging and amusing part of the process.

"It is a bit of a shock," Oklina said as she broached the subject. "Although B'lerion has told me a lot already."

"I'm sure he has," Moreta said as they had a klah break, brewing the spicy aromatic drink to warm their hands. there was the start of an autumnal nip in the air."But I'm also sure he edited out a lot of what he considered unnecessary details. So what do you know?"

"Well, when I was at the Hold, people used to talk about dragonriders having strange and unusual powers of attraction, that could lure anyone into the bedfurs with them," she said blushing a little.

"And I bet B'lerion did nothing to disabuse you of that particular notion," Moreta said, her mouth quirking into a smile. "I remember hearing those same rumours."

"I've been told that we don't always get to choose who we sleep with?" Oklina was rapidly turning red as she spoke. Being Holdbred, being so open about such subjects would be very uncomfortable for her and Moreta had to give her kudos for keeping a level voice and making eye contact.

"True enough," Moreta said. "Sh'gall is not my first pick of bed partners but Orlith seems to think Kadith makes a good sire for her clutches, so when she flies, that's the way it goes."

"But how? I mean.." Oklina looked a little frustrated. "Is the whole thing of faithfulness completely abandoned in the weyr? I was taught it was one of the worst things to betray a lover or a husband by sleeping with another? It seems..wrong."

"Mmm, I remember that too. With a dragon, things are different." Moreta said trying to figure out how to explain it. "Mating dragons affect people...not just riders, but every day folk as well. You imagine how often greens rise -there is that going on practically daily sometimes, and the queens, well when they rise, they can affect the whole weyr. You haven't experienced that yet. It's like a need, a burning itch of arousal that takes hold of you and won't let you go until it is satiated. When a flight is going on you could end up sleeping with...well, anyone."

"I'm not sure how I feel about sleeping with other men," Oklina said frowning.

"And women," Moreta pointed out, dropping that bombshell into consideration.

She wished she could have captured the younger goldriders expression as realisation slowly dawned on her. She couldn't help herself, she started laughing.

"You must be joking Moreta , aren't you?" Oklina said.

"No, no... you really could end up sleeping with women," Moreta answered still chuckling. "It happens."

Oklina paused with her eyes wide. "Have you.. you know, with women?"

"Oh yes," Moreta nodded and added, "Once or twice without draconic influence. It's not my main preference but it's best to be familiar with it or risk unnecessary upset. The Candidate Masters recommend their candidates try a little of everything before impression if they can. So women sleeping together, men sleeping tog.."

"Men too?" Oklina's eyes were ready to pop out of her head.

"Think about our green riders... and think of the blues browns and bronzes that chase them," Moreta pointed out, considering logic was the best way to explain it. "There might be a few women around but at the end of the day the odds are in favour of it being a man a rider ends up with."

"Even B'lerion? But he likes women!" Oklina's voice raised. Moreta heard the subtext of 'he likes me' loud and clear.

"But Nabeth is a strong, virile bronze and he is going to get his practice in on greens before he chases the golds. And that means having sex with men if there aren't enough females hanging around the flight rooms."

Oklina looked shocked. "But how does that even work?!" she said in tones that nearly made Moreta giggle despite her age. It really was like having a younger sister. It sounded like she thought the man sprouted a vagina magically through the process and the thought was enough to have Moreta choking back a laugh.

"Oh I think I should get B'lerion to demonstrate that one," Moreta said trying to keep a straight face and completely failing. "My point is, that this is completely normal in the Weyr. It is not bad, or wrong, or anything like that. It is just a fact of life when you have Impressed a dragon. Inhibiting your dragon, especially if you are a goldrider through fears of something so natural can be dangerous to the weyr."

"I don't understand? I thought we had no control..." Oklina queried, her klah gone cold as she hung on her every word.

"It's more like during the flight itself, after the initial blooding where you have to keep a iron grip on their appetite, the barriers between you fade away. " She considered. "It felt like I was Orlith, that we were one entity. So your deep feelings can have an impact. If you are timid and unused to sex, then some of that hesitation might hold Hannath back resulting in a short mating flight."

"And a short flight leads to less eggs," Oklina nodded and then sighed a little. "But it feel wrong to be unfaithful, sort of dishonourable."

"Faithfulness means something different in a weyr," Moreta said in a gentler tone. This was the serious point, the one that could make the difference from adapting to weyr life or struggling unnecessarily with something that a holder upbringing said was wrong. "It's who you choose to return to. It means after sex, you go back to a weyrmate of all the people you could be with - that is being faithful to them in emotions, rather than body. Honour means sacrifice -It means putting your dragon first, putting the safety of others above your own every time we fly Thread. It means being held to the highest standards and surpassing them. The Weyr has honour, and is faithful in different ways to the Hold, but it is no less powerful or meaningful. "

She watched as Oklina nodded thoughtfully and was pleased she seemed to be taking it on board."I don't want to lose B'lerion," she admitted. "He needs me. He is going to ask to transfer to Fort soon. He spends most of his time here for a start, not back at High Reaches."

"You'll have plenty of bronzers being interested," Moreta said cautiously. "You don't have to make choices so soon. "

"He loves me." She said with the certainty of the young. "And I worry about him. He doesn't seem to be quite recovered. He wakes up a lot at nights as if he is having nightmares, but he won't tell me what they are about."

"It is possible it is a side effect of the timing we did to fetch the needlethorn." Moreta frowned a little. "It can be stressful in strange ways, especially as we are not far from reaching that day. You might feel some effects yourself."

"Oh, do you actually think that might be it?" Oklina seemed relieved. "I have been concerned. He has a lot of headaches."

"I think maybe I should talk to him." Moreta said, contemplating the problem. She hadn't heard of persistent headaches being a side effect, though sometimes there were physical effects. She knew that all too well.

"Well then next time he is here I will send him to you," Oklina agreed. She smiled a little and then said, "Now tell me more about how the mechanics of two women having sex actually works."

Moreta chuckled, and thought that Oklina was probably going to adapt just fine to weyrlife.

There was a mental marker in her head that told her, somewhere in the rainforests of Keroon on this day she was deep among the needlethorn bushes. There was a strange, stretched feeling which she associated with timing like a dull ache in her bones as if they were being tugged slightly. It reminded her of her conversation with Oklina about B'lerion, who she realised she has somehow never been able to pin down to talk to since that day they had dragged her and Holth from the grasp of between. She had seen him in passing, but rarely for longer than a brief pleasantry and then he was mysteriously in a hurry to be away as if being around her was painful somehow. It had come as a surprise to her that they had gone that long without her managing to speak to him about what had happened;how had she been saved and what was wrong with him were topics she wanted to broach for a start. Oklina had been very worried in the last few days as he had not shown himself at the weyr very often and looked ill when he did so. Unusual enough or a Dragonrider for it to solidify her resolve to personally check him over. However, he was proving elusive - deliberately so in her opinion.

((Orlith, love, if he is not at Fort and not at High Reaches, where do you think he would be?)) Moreta said in exasperation having managed to exhaust her patience by hunting around the Weyr, and then having to deal with a rather strange visit to High Reaches where she was treated with a deference more akin to awe.

((I can think of one time and place)) Orlith pointed out. ((We are already there. Maybe something draws him there that troubles him.))

((You think he would willingly double up at Keroon?)) she asked thoughtfully, but sensing the instinctive rightness about the assumption.

((Yes, I think that is where and when he is.)) Orlith seemed certain of it.

((Then we shall go too)) she replied and fixed the day in her mind with sharp precision as they went between.

They emerged in the skies above Keroon, a safe distance from where she knew they were working. Orlith glided low, out of sight until Moreta caught a glimpse of bronze hide on an outcrop and knew it was the elusive Nabeth and B'lerion.

Without warning, she had Orlith silently approach and land next to them, mildly gratified to see them both startle.

"Moreta? What are you doing here?" B'lerion asked obviously trying to keep his voice down. He looked a far cry from the self assured handsome bronzerider she thought she knew. Oklina was right; there was something wrong with him and from the pale drawn look to his face it was something to do with timing it.

"I could ask you the same question," she replied. "You've been avoiding me B'lerion, Oklina is worried and I find you doing something explicitly not recommended when you have timed it. "

"I could say the same about you," B'lerion replied.

((Orlith, have a word with Nabeth will you?)) Moreta asked. ((What is wrong with them? I only want to help.))

"At the very least you could allow me to thank you properly for saving all of us," she continued as she was aware of Orlith quizzing the bronze. "Although you seem to disappear when I start asking how you did it."

"We arrived just as you were going between and Nabeth said he could still hear Holth," B'lerion said his eyes not watching where they were "resting" but somewhere else entirely. It seemed he was waiting for something. "That's all there was to it, we dipped between to find you..Nabeth was the one who somehow knew he could get hold of you."

A simple explanation that said nothing. Moreta moved closer to him. "B'lerion, you think I can't see something is truly bothering you. Oklina says you have been having nightmares and Nabeth looks off colour."

((Nabeth says it is to do with timing it. Something that happened, and a letter. His is troubled by thoughts not his own any time he sleeps)) Orlith explained.

"Thoughts not his own?" Moreta repeated.

"I should have known Nabeth wouldn't keep anything from Orlith," B'lerion said in a resigned tone. "I don't know how to explain it aside from...showing you this." He held out a record hide roll to her, dropping it into her hand.

Carefully she unravelled it, and started reading and within a few moments felt her knees go weak with shock. Orlith nudged her to lean against her leg for support but it was only just enough to keep her standing.
((What is wrong? What does it say?)) her dragon asked.

((I think B'lerion did the impossible. I think he has changed time)) Moreta said. ((This says that...we died. And he had to change it.))

((But we are here)) Orlith sounded puzzled. ((We are not gone))

"I think.. we changed time," B'lerion said. "I didn't think it was possible, but it's either that or I'm going mad. Every time I sleep I remember things that didn't happen. I remember you dead, Leri dead, all gone between. I remember watching Orlith in agony on the sands waiting for her eggs to hatch so she could leave between."

(( But this has not happened!)) Orlith protested. ((We were saved!))

"You were saved because it did happen," B'lerion said wearily. "I've thought of little else since that day... This day. This day when he came to me so either I am going mad, or another me did come back and...)) he stopped as Moreta put the pieces together.

"But that would mean they sacrificed themselves!" she exclaimed, strangely horrified that someone would sacrifice themselves for her. Not just themselves but their dragon. For Oklina, perhaps she could see B'lerion taking that risk, but for her?

"He said you were the best of us," B'lerion said. "I think you underestimate your importance to a great many people Moreta. Do you realise you have been immortalised in Harper song?"

"It'll pass I'm sure," she said.

"That is what I am hoping, " B'lerion replied. "That when this loop ends, so will the memories. We will be in a truly different future."

That made a certain amount of sense. Moreta nodded.

((Nabeth says that his feels like someone should witness and remember his others passing some how. He is finding it difficult because he is feeling the strength of emotions that led them to this point.)) Orlith commented as they watched the skies.

Almost before it happened, she saw B'lerion pale as a bronze dragon pair winked into existence above them and swoop directly into concealment.

"It's" The bronzers voice dropped into a hushed tone. "I almost thought that it wasn't real."

It being real meant a lot of things would change and had changed. Was that why she had felt so lost at the start of her recovery? She would have been lost between at that point in time, her other self. She didn't want to think about it. "It is real. You really did it, you really changed time."

Instantly she knew this needed to be a secret. Every distraught lover, every power hungry person would want to change time not comprehending the cost. She was standing here waiting for a rider pair to cease to exist and the tension was unbearable. B'erion's nose started bleeding slightly and he wiped at it. "This happened to them too, " he said. "It won't be long. I can feel it."

She could do little else except comfort him as she stood beside him, watching, waiting and bearing witness. As she saw the dragon pair go aloft again, the two dragons raised up as if they were going to keen but there was nothing but silence as the pair went between. A silent keen for a pair who would never be. It was strangely fitting in a way.

Instantly, the change in B'lerion was miraculous. The tension dropped from his face and a tentative smile appeared.

"Thank Faranth!" he exclaimed. "I can't remember what they felt or saw any more! Any more and I would have gone crazy."

"I think you already have," Moreta said, still amazed. "Lets get back to the Weyr, we need to have a private talk about this."

Private actually meant discussing it with the others who had been involved with the unusual occurrence and working out what they should do. Oklina was elated to see her lover and soon to be weyrmate if Moreta was any judge, back to his more normal charming optimistic self, but that soon turned to concern after she called her and Leri into a very select discussion. The older and younger goldriders sat through the explanations with intense concentration and worried looks until they were brought up to date.

"So B'lerion and Nabeth went between? And they wouldn't have come out?" Oklina asked reaching for the bronzeriders hands in the process.

"We can't say for sure, but that seems to have been what they thought," Moreta said. "Which means if this is all real as it appears to be, time has been changed. And we need to decide the implications of this and who should know about it if anyone. "

"It's dangerous, definitely," B'lerion put in. "We were very close to losing our sanity. It is different to a normal jump in time."

"You should have told me more," Oklina gently rebuked him. "I wanted to help you!"

"I wasn't sure I could be helped." B'lerion said. "But the fact it stopped when the loop closed seems to prove the point."

"So the question is, is anyone's life worth it?" Moreta put to them. "Because then it becomes a matter of degrees...of how do you know when to do it or not. What does it gain?"

"What does it gain?" Surprisingly it was Oklina who spoke up incredulously. "I thought you were just being modest Moreta, but now I'm starting to wonder if you are truly this oblivious. You are a worldwide heroine. You saved Pern. Between you, you saved Pern. There are Holds all over Pern who know that you personally saved them! Most of Keroon will be naming their daughters after you for generations for Faranths sake. You rode to save Pern until you were struck deathly ill by the effort and nearly died."

"She's right," Leri said from the corner. "The name of Moreta is on every Harpers lips and yes, even that of my own. "

"But what should we do?" Moreta asked. "It is dangerous to do, we've proven that. In effect you die to do it."

"And we should respect that cost," Leri agreed. She held up a hand to stop them commenting. "I am old enough to know that rarely are we the first to do anything, even if we think we are. How do we know this is the first time dragonriders have changed history? The only reason we know is that in this case, B'lerion's loop took him to a point in our future which then doubled back to the past, otherwise there would have been no visible loop. The change would have been made and done. How often have we all survived when we should not? We cannot know. Perhaps we rewrite our worlds over and over."

"To gain what?" Moreta asked again trying to comprehend a world constantly being rewritten and rewritten.

"What we always had; the future," Leri said.

"And more to the point a future that has the most powerful and influential dragonrider in history still alive," Oklina said, enthusiasm burning in her eyes. the shy Holder's daughter was a distant memory now. "Just think of what we could do Moreta, together! How we could draw the Weyrs together, change all those things you have said we had to put up with because of tradition, and hidebound ideals. They would follow you through fog, fire and Fall."

"That's what I'm afraid of," Moreta said dryly, but her interest was quickened. She was in a position to change the rules that everyone lived by, and it was indeed an opportunity she could seize if she was of a mind to do so. And in Oklina and Hannath, they had an angle to bring in the holders who were recouping losses. Support from the Weyrs now would have incalculable benefits in the long run in good will. Their work load would be dropping as the Pass continued and some of the recovering riders would be fit for short hops before they were cleared for Fall. That would work. Weyrlings always needed practice as well...yes, Oklina was right about that.

B'lerion chuckled. "Oh ho, I recognise that look," he said. "Is it too late for me to go back and stop my other self from telling my earlier self what to do?"

"Yes!" all of them answered forcefully including the dragons making him laugh at their fierce expressions.

"Pern is not going to know what hit it," he said holding his hands up in mock surrender.

Moreta nodded, deciding the knowledge would be kept secret, passed down through her line of weyrwomen only just in case there was a crisis that threatened Pern.

"In that case, I offer a toast," Moreta said taking the glass of Benden white she had poured earlier and raising it aloft. "To the future!"

And then nearly laughed aloud as Orlith added to everyone there ((Whichever one it might be!))