A/N: Here is the next chapter. I am most dreadfully sorry this took so long to get out. I have been fairly busy and my keyboard went out to boot. Finally got some free time and got the keyboard replaced as well. Reviews are appreciated and missed when absent.
Disclaimer: The Dragonriders of Pern is copyrighted to Anne McCaffrey and her son Todd. This is fan fiction which garners NO MONEY WHATSOEVER for the author of this work.
"Next up, J'nah and Ratath. What's your suggestion?" S'ven asked B'cord. The Weyrlingmaster and the Weyrleader always met before graduation to determine the assignments for new riders.
"I'm still not sure," B'cord replied, rubbing his jaw. "This is a tough one. They would be an asset to any division. Even Peaceforce, when J'nah's old enough. Maybe especially Peaceforce."
"Any of the wing leaders give any indication of how they would feel about J'nah and Ratath in their wings?"
B'cord chuckled. "They all want that pair. Except H'tan and S'kel. And the only reason they don't is because J'nah's too young. But I think they would be especially good on the dragon net. That would free up a green/blue pair as Ratath is most likely neuter."
S'ven shook his head. "No. I don't mean no to the dragon net," he clarified. "I mean no to them being the only dragon/rider pair on a planet. Ratath may be a white, but he needs the company of his own kind."
B'cord nodded. This was true. Dragons were a social lot.
"Well, they can't be assigned to the 'net until J'nah turns eighteen in any event, so that leaves Medical, Passenger and Cargo," B'cord mused. "Maybe even Peaceforce in a couple of turns."
S'ven looked over the lists he had made. J'nah and Ratath were the last pair. "Only way to decide," he said, "is to make sure the distribution of weyrlings to the wings is as even as possible. Looks like J'lash is up for a pair."
B'cord nodded and it was decided.
J'nah and Ratath had gathered with the other weyrlings for graduation.
"When I call your name, step forward to receive your assignment," B'cord called out.
Which division do want? Ratath asked his rider.
Doesn't matter, J'nah told his dragon. We're together. That's all that counts for me.
Ratath agreed. Anywhere they were assigned was alright with him as well. He had his rider and that was all that mattered.
"J'nah," B'cord called out. "Your turn, son."
J'nah stepped forward and B'cord handed him a folded sheet of paper with his and Ratath's name on it. "Congratulations on graduating Weyrling training, rider. You are now a full fledged dragonrider."
J'nah thanked him and stepped back to open and read his assignment.
Passenger division, fourth wing. Wingleader J'lash.
J'nah nodded and relayed the information to his dragon.
When all the assignments had been handed out, the weyrlinmaster called out. "Report to your new wingleaders at once. They will get you oriented to your new assignments."
Ratath, speak to Hortanth. Ask him where we should report to.
Ratath did as instructed and then said, He says his rider will meet you in common room three. You should report there.
Thank you, love. Go on up to the rim and get some sun. I'll call you when I need you.
Ratath nuzzled J'nah and then took wing to get a good spot on the rim.
J'nah walked into common room three. There were two other graduates there. One looked at him and said, "They actually gave you passenger? The runt and the offworlder?"
"I'm sorry," came an authoratative voice. "I didn't quite catch that. What did you say?"
All three riders looked and saw wingleader J'lash standing there. He was a stern looking man in his middle forties. He was known as a strict, but fair man who didn't ask anyone to do anything he wouldn't do himself. And the one thing he was famous for was he absolutely did not tolerate public strife among his wingriders..
"Nothing sir," the newly graduated rider said in a low voice.
"Good. That's the one thing that will get you disciplined or transferred quicker than anything," he informed all of them. "If you can't get along with your wingmates, then you don't belong in my wing." His expression softened and he actually gave a small smile. "Welcome to Fourth wing. As you should know, I'm J'lash, rider of bronze Hortanth. Fourth wing is a family. We stick together. You have a disagreement with one of your wingmates, fine. That's going to happen. But you settle it in private. You do not argue in public. Public in this case means in the presence of anyone else; including other members of Fourth. Is that understood."
"Sir, yes sir!" J'nah sang out, crisply.
"Well, at least one of you knows proper etiquette. But you don't need to be so formal. Sir does not need to be the first and last word you say. You aren't in weyrling training anymore."
He looked at the other two riders. "I haven't heard from you two yet. Do you understand about no strife in public?"
"Yes sir." They both replied in unison.
"Good. Now, let's get down to business. As you know, Fourth Wing is part of Passenger Division. We carry passengers from place to place for a fee. Often times you will carry someone on your dragon's back. But there are times when we use a carrier. The carriers we use are somewhat like the carriers that Medical Division uses except ours don't have to be air tight. Each carrier carries one mask and one air pack for each passenger it is rated to carry. That way they don't have to hold their breath. It is a procedural violation to carry more passengers that the carrier is rated for. You will also be issued two mask/air pack kits for passengers that ride on your dragon's back." J'lash now gave each of the new rider's a telling look. "These carriers are rated to hold a certain number of passengers. There are two, three, and four passenger models. If you embark with more passengers in a carrier than it is rated for, you had better have a sharding good reason. Peaceforce has no tolerance for unnecessary greed."
J'nah raised his hand.
"Sir, what if there is an emergency?"
"In such a case," J'lash explained, "it would be the rider's call. But I want to stress that a rider is totally responsible for whatever happens to their passengers while they are carrying them. I don't want to scare you," J'lash continued, "but if you violate procedures, Peaceforce may, at their discretion, investigate the violation. If one or more of your passengers is injured or killed during the violation, they will most certainly investigate. The good news is every member of Peaceforce has performed all the on planet duties of dragon/rider pairs so if it was a judgment call to save lives and things went bad through no fault of your own, you should be fine. But don't lie to them. Their dragons are exceptionally sensitive and can usually tell if someone is lying.
"Alright on to the next point," he continued. "You will collect the fee from your passengers before you disembark. You will be given a fee schedule. You are to follow it without deviation. You will give your receipts, that is, the money you take in from passenger runs, to the Weyr purser. You will receive two receipts. One you will give to me daily. The other is to be retained for your records. You are paid ten percent of your receipts for your services. This is money for you to spend at gathers and what not. All the materials you need to maintain and replace, if necessary, your riding gear and care for your dragon are provided by the Weyr."
The rider who had questioned J'nah's assignment spoke up. "Sir, what is the policy for giving rides to friends or family on our time off?"
"You may not use a carrier. You also cannot charge for it. You receive your assignments from myself or the Weyrleader. While on duty, if you have no instructions for the return trip, you may take passengers if they are at the destination of one of your trips and charge for that, but only in an official capacity and only in accordance with the fee schedule. You will be issued a passenger log. You normally have to pay a sixteenth mark for a book of ten pages, each of which hold twenty entries, but your first is complimentary, meaning you don't have to pay for it. It is a requirement for you to log all your official trips. If you turn in more marks than is due for your assignments, the purser may want to examine your log to find out why. He has to keep records too. Also any wingleader, weyrleader or peaceforcer may require you to produce your log at any time for examination and aren't required to give a reason why.
"As for the logs themselves, they are self explanatory. Any questions?"
There seemed to be none. "have your dragons meet you in the bowl. I'll show you how to use the carriers. Come on."
J'nah had just delivered three people to Landing when he heard, "J'nah! It's good to see you. How have you been, Son?"
J'nah turned around and saw his father. "Dad! I've been great. It's good to see you too."
"As it happens, I need to go to the Harper Hall for a meeting with the Masterharper. Are you free to take me, or do I need to talk to the receptionist?"
"No, I can take you. I do have to charge you the standard rate, though," J'nah looked apologetic but he was a stickler for the rules. He could just see someone asking to see his log and a trip not being on there that had been witnessed by others.
Keely was pleased that his son obeyed the rules. He had taught him that from an early age.
"Of course. Standard rate is four marks, is it not?"
J'nah shook his head. "No, two. Each way. Official business of the Ambassador, Lord Holder, or a Craftmaster is half price."
Keely nodded. "That's fine."
J'nah pulled his log out of the inside pocket of his riding jacket and began filling it out. He then handed it and the stylus to his father. "Please sign here," he said, indicating where, "to certify that all the information in this entry is correct."
Keely looked at the line in question and then scrawled his signature. He handed the book back to his son, who promptly stowed it in the inside pocket of his riding jacket.
"Would you like to use the carrier or ride on his neck with me?"
"Normally I would use the carrier, but since he is not that big, I'll ride with you."
J'nah nodded. He removed a mask/airpack set from the carisak slung across Ratath's neck and handed it to his father.
"I don't think I need a mask for such a short trip."
"Sorry, dad. It's the rules," J'nah informed him. "All paying passengers must wear masks."
Keely shrugged and fitted it over his face.
J'nah collected the fee and then got his father seated and secured. Ratath then lifted off carefully to keep the carrier from swinging. Even though there was no one aboard, a swinging carrier could be dangerous to those on the ground and could possibly disturb a dragon's balance while in flight.
They appeared over the Harper Hall and Ratath came in for a landing.
J'nah removed his log and indicating where, said, "Please sign here to certify that you were delivered to destination as specified."
Keely signed his name again and after handing back the book to his son, said, "Thanks for the ride, son. You're a credit to Telgar. I would have been very disappointed if you had given me special consideration."
That was one thing that J'nah remembered from his time before he impressed Ratath. His father had always stressed that rules need to be followed. There were exceptions, of course, but you'd better be able to explain why you made an exception and it had better have been necessary.
J'nah nodded. "I wanted to ..."
Keely waved that off. "You may have wanted to, but you followed the rules. I'm proud of you. Now, I must be getting to my meeting. Can you wait or do I need to have the watch dragon call for passenger pair when I'm done?"
"I'm expected back, but I can have Ratath tell the wing second's dragon that we will be detained to wait for the Ambassador. It will be one extra mark to wait. Sorry, but...", Keely waved it off.
"Five marks for a round trip is fine with me. See you in a little while."
The weyrleader wants to see you, Ratath informed his rider.
Ratath landed him on S'ven's ledge and took wing to go sun on the rim.
J'nah walked into the weyr Tapinth occupied and nodded to him. He proceeded to the weyrleader's office and pressed the button that would signal there was a visitor.
"Come," S'ven called.
J'nah walked in to see J'lash and M'bar waiting along with S'ven.
"Rider J'nah reporting as ordered sir."
"Relax rider," S'ven told him. "You are not in trouble. You have done very well."
"I wish all my riders were like you," J'lash said. "You follow orders and procedures to the letter. I heard about you giving the Ambassador a ride from Landing to the Harper Hall and back. You actually charged your own father."
"Of course I did, sir. I was on duty. I didn't want to but I wasn't willing to accept the consequences for showing favoritism. And he understood. I'm just glad I was able to give him the official discount."
"You would have charged him full price if he had not been on official business?" This from S'ven.
"Yes, sir," J'nah responded. "I will show no favoritism."
S'ven nodded. "That's good rider. That's very good. How would you like to serve in Peaceforce?"
"I would be willing to serve in any capacity you deem necessary, Weyrleader."
"That doesn't answer my question, rider. I know you will go where assigned. What I want to know is what are your feelings toward becoming a member of Peaceforce. No one is assigned that division who doesn't want it."
"I would like Peaceforce, sir," J'nah answered. "I've always liked solving puzzles. But I'm not quite sixteen. From what I understand, all Peaceforcers must be sixteen turns of age."
"You are correct. They also have to have experience in the three other divisions as well. If would like Peaceforce then you will have to have been assigned the other divisions as well. That's why M'bar is here. I need an answer. Do you want to serve in Peaceforce?"
"Yes sir. I do."
S'ven nodded. "Very well then. You are hearby transferred to fifth wing under the command of M'bar. Once you have six months in Medical, you will be transferred to Cargo. Assuming of course you get a good recommendation from M'bar."
M'bar spoke up. "If he performs as well my wing as he has in Fourth, that will be no problem at all."
"Will we have to change weyrs?" J'nah wanted to know.
"No. Not for a transfer to another wing," S'ven told him. "You will most likely be assigned to another Weyr upon transfer to Peaceforce, but for now you'll stay at Telgar in your same quarters."
A/N: Well, that's it for this chapter. Don't forget to review.