Disclaimer: Pern and its dragonriders belong to Anne McCaffrey, who happens to be kind enough to allow us to play in her world.
S'man found Shaya fishing at the outskirts of Boulders Weyr, near the sea cave that Suteth had claimed as her own. A thick mist had rolled in from the west and the sea appeared olive green and slick as it sucked at the granite with little swell.
"Caught anything?" he asked, hunkering down next to her.
The rider of the black queen looked up, flipping one of her dark blonde locks form her face.
"She left about two days ago. She said she wanted to fly straight to some island she heard two of the green gossiping about."
"You don't seem unduly worried, or are you?" he noted, trying to suppress the alarm at the thought that Tarth may pull a similar stunt. Of late, the bronze had been behaving in a strange fashion whenever he'd been around the black-gold queen.
Shaya grimaced, betraying that S'man's sentiments proved correct.
"I'm just glad that she hasn't cut me off like… like… well, you know."
Shaya had matured much in the months of her exile from Benden. Althouh her presence at Boulders was not official, none of the small Weyr's riders cared enough to notify the bigger Weyrs. For this, S'man was grateful.
"You may just want Suteth to return quite soon. I've just come back from Benden. I've got some good news, some better news and some really wonderful news."
"As if," Shaya snorted. "Why should I care?"
"Because it means. No. Wait. I'll start from the beginning. Sulath has clutched. It would appear that she flew a lot higher than anticipated. Thirty-nine eggs."
"What?" Shaya almost dropped her fishing pole.
"I'm not joking. There is a queen's egg, and another that looks suspiciously almost as big. But that's not all. My transfer back has been finalised."
She had the grace to look disappointed, although she tried not to show it.
"What's the good news then?"
"M'rek wants you to come back."
"What if I don't want to?
"Don't be a fool."
She looked away and, by the set of her shoulders, he could see that she was angry.
"Why should I go back and face more prejudice?"
"It will be different, you'll see."
"How sure are you? You're not even Weyrleader anymore. What can you hope to do?"
"V'ton's dead, don't you understand?"
"You're right. I'm supposed to feel better about this but I'm still so angry."
"You need closure."
She sat still for a very long time, the wavelets smashing and sucking by her feet.
I needed to tie up with the departure for the next chapter. Now that I've introduced some of the main characters, I'll probably be writing from multiple characters' points of view from here on in. I'd like to give my readers a chance to have a say in which of my characters have more featured scenes, so if there's any character you particularly liked seeing developed further, PM me and I'll listen to what you have to say.
I'm taking a story-long break from Pern for now, however. For those interested, I'm starting a "The Crow" fanfic soon but will return to Pern once I get that out of my system. PM me if you'd like me to let you know once that first chapter is up or, alternatively, you can just "author alert" me… Cheers for now and thank you so much to everyone who has made so many helpful comments. I've found that the feedback that I've received here from you has helped in my writing of my "real" novels.