Author's Note:- I can't really claim this to be anything other than crack-fic - it was written after going through one too many persona sheets. Pretty much anything in this fic has been rejected from one sheet or another. Except the elephant.

Once upon a time, as all good stories must begin, there was a little girl named Emberella, and her big sister Twinkle. Emberella looked up to her older sister, and adored her – as did everyone who looked upon her – because Twinkle was the most perfect person in the whole world. It seemed impossible to look away from her bright silver eyes, and her golden hair trailed down to her ankles and was so shiny that bronze firelizards would occasionally chase it thinking they had found a mate. Perhaps some children would have been jealous of such a beautiful sibling, but Emberella was far too sweet-tempered to think of such a thing and instead simply loved Twinkle with all her heart.

The two girls grew together, and dreamed their dreams. Twinkle wanted to go to the Weyr, and no-one doubted that she would Impress gold. How could any dragon refuse such gloriousness? Emberellas dreams were different though. Despite the fact that for centuries Crafts had been mens professions, Emberella wanted to be a Harper. She knew she could do it, that she would succeed where others had failed and overcome the Halls prejudices to become a Master. Their mother had died of a sickness long ago, but their father more than made up for this by cosseting both his daughters, and the little family grew up happily.

At twelve Emberella believed her dreams had been realised. A Journeyman Harper approached the family, knowing of Emberella's dreams, and offered to train the girl to become an Appetice, the first rank of the Craft. Delighted by this good fortune, Emberella's father agreed to let her travel with the journeyman to the Hall to apply to the MasterHarper.

Alas, it was a cruel joke. There is no such rank as Appetice, and when Emberella boldly approached the MasterHarper to ask the whole Hall shared in the laughter about the ignorance of females when it came to Crafts. Afterall, if she didn't even know the names of the ranks, how could she know anything at all? Emberella was crushed, and with tears stinging her cheeks she left the Hall. Slowly, very slowly, accepting lifts from Traders and travellers she travelled home to her Hold. Twinkle would comfort her once she got there, just as she always had.

Alas, things had not been well in Emberella's absence. Her father had remarried, and her stepmother – a cruel and bitter woman – was jealous, and hated Twinkle's perfection. Knowing how much Twinkle wished to be a rider, she had hatched a plot. E'vili, a greenrider, was a brother of hers and owed her a favour. After only a few weeks, he visited her at the Hold and she explained then what form this favour would take.

Twinkle thought she had been Searched when Innocenth sniffed at her, although she did wonder then why the green dragon's eyes seemed to be full of tears. She supposed it had to be tears of happiness for her, and joyfully climbed onto her back.

With Twinkles gold firelizard, Sarymue (named after her dead, equally beautiful mother) flying beside them, they rose and spiralled high, high into the air before flicking between as Twinkle waved goodbye to the tearful folk of the Hold. They did not come out at the Weyr as she had expected though, but instead far far above Pern, out in space.

One good push from E'vili and Twinkle went tumbling from Innocenth's back. Believing the girl would fall to her doom, the greenrider returned to his Weyr. However, such actions cannot be committed without consequences. The pair were wracked by guilt at the taking of such a wonderful life, and died the very next Fall because of their resulting lack of concentration.

What of Twinkle though? Sarymue would not let her pet die without a fight. The determined little firelizard called flits from all round Pern to help her. Their tiny claws held onto Twinkle, trying to slow her descent and prevent the fall from killing her.

It is a pity firelizards do not have more brains. In the vacuum of space, Sarymue couldn't hear Twinkles screams, didn't understand that her pets internal organs were exploding in the atmosphere, or that Twinkle was slowly suffocating from lack of oxygen. Even left alone she would never have died of the fall, for Pern itself had pulled her into its orbit, and there she died, with no air even to try for a cry for help.

Still, faithful little Sarymue bid her friends to hold, long after Twinkle had ceased breathing. She refused to abandon her pet, believing still that Twinkle would live somehow if only they didn't let her go. And so, they all suffocated out there in space, and the firelizard population of Pern decreased substantially.

Emberella knew none of this though. She returned home to be greeted by the news that Twinkle had left for the Weyr. She missed her sister greatly, and eventually decided to follow her to the Weyr. After all, she had no hope of becoming a Harper anymore.

She was afraid of horses and so travelled on foot, planning to stay in disused Holds during Threadfall. Unknown to her, one of the first places she passed had once been the Tubbermann complex. When she emerged after Fall though, a huge grey creature, the likes of which she had never seen before, was lying dead outside. A slightly smaller creature stood next to it, making mournful trumpeting noises. Curious, Emberella went up to it, and the elephant took to her immediately, letting her climb on its back. She named it "Baby" and together the pair travelled across Pern.

Twinkle was not in the first Weyr they went to, nor the second, nor the third. It seemed no-one even remembered seeing the girl – but who could forget seeing such a person? Desperately Emberella turned her search from Weyrs, to Holds, to CraftHalls, and still.. nothing.

A few months into her travels, Emberella came across an abandoned green firelizard Clutch. She poked at it, believing all the eggs had been too chilled too Hatch for a long time. One trembled under the touch of her fingers though. She picked it up, warming it between her hands, and within a few minutes it cracked, a small blue head poking out. The little flit was weak and Emberella helped it emerge from the shell. Finally it sat on her hand, small and damp with egg-fluid. He was tiny, and yet had the largest eyes she had ever seen on a flit.

Too large, as she was soon to discover. The first time the baby got excited, those large eyes popped right out of their sockets, and had to be pushed back in. Searching for a name that would suit him, Emberella named him Poppy.

It was two years after she begun her search that Twinkles body finally fell out of space. Torn apart by passing Thread-spores, covered in dried blood and heated by the friction of falling through the atmosphere until she was cooked, she was barely recognizable but for her golden hair – still miraculously intact – and one silver eyeball. Less obvious to the casual observer was a scrap of hide hooked onto her, that had once been Sarymue.

They brought the body to Emberella, shattering the girls hopes of ever seeing her sister again. However, as she gazed at the body distraught, there was a chirp that only she could hear. Horrified, she watched as the ghost of Sarymue rose from Twinkles body, and hopped onto her shoulder. The firelizards failure to guard Twinkle from harm in life had made her determined to guard Emberella in death, and however hard the girl tried it refused to be shoo'ed away.

After such a traumatic event, and with a ghost firelizard insisting on following her around, it was almost inevitable that something should snap in Emberellas mind. The first incident happened one day, when she arrived at a Hold, to catch sight of long, long hair out of the corner of her eye. She turned, suddenly believing that it had all been untrue. Of course Twinkle wasn't dead – how could she ever die? People like that weren't ALLOWED to die.

It wasn't Twinkle.

Emberella blacked out. When she became conscious of her actions once more, the girl was lying in a heap at her feet, suffocated by her own long hair.

No-one had seen – somehow, even like that, she had had the sense to drag the girl out of the public view. Guilty, and horrified, she ran away from the body, moving quickly on to the next Hold. That hadn't happened – it couldn't have happened. And certainly, no-one would ever find out that it had been her, and things would be all right.

And they were. Until she saw another girl with long hair, which she used to strangle them. And the one after that, and the one after..

Again, and again she moved on. Each time she was sincerely upset and sorry. She hadn't meant that to happen – she would never kill anyone! And yet the deaths kept occurring and short hair suddenly became very fashionable.

Finally Emberella decided to fufil her sisters dream. She gathered her possessions onto Baby, and tagged by Poppy and Sarymue set off towards the nearest Weyr. After all, all traumatized psychopathic killers can be cured by Impressing gold…