Great news: Todd McCaffrey's newest book, Sky Dragons, is coming out in June! The main character is Xhinna, so I'm very excited! I only recently started Dragonheart, but I love her already. The fact that she's a female blue-rider makes it even better. Hope you enjoy this chapter!

"And your dragons won't pose any danger to humans?" White's hands were folded and his pale face held an extremely skeptical expression.

L'ram took a deep breath, forcing himself to be patient with this man. 'How many times do I have to tell him?' "No dragon would ever harm a human. Ever." He folded his arms. "They are very tame by nature unless they have need to fight."

"How do I know that providing the resources necessary to keep these dragons will be profitable? We have agents who are fully capable of fighting and securing Evos."

I don't believe that! Indath muttered as L'ram relayed the conversation to him. I've seen those masked humans and their projectile weapons. They always miss.

'I know, Indath. Hush.' "Might I propose a trial period? We will be at your beck and call whenever these Evos surface. In return, I will only ask that you create a hot sand pit for the clutch that we will be transporting." After a survey of the planet, it had been decided that the recently-laid eggs of the queen Yarith would be safe. All that was needed was a hot, enclosed sand pit. "We will not bring over any new dragons until after you have decided. The wild animals here will be enough to feed the small number of dragons here and you will not need to provide anything."

Why don't you offer him a fire-lizard?

"And, if you are willing, you may have an egg from the next clutch of fire-lizards." L'ram held out his hands in a "How about it?" gesture. "Does that sound agreeable?"

White frowned quietly to himself, tapping the side of his neck thoughtfully with his finger. Finally, he spoke. "If I decide that this arrangement will not be profitable, you will not hold us to support your dragons?"

"If you ask, we'll go back to Pern once the hatchlings grow."

White nodded his head slowly. "Fine. I'll have a separate area built in the Zoo. We'll see what you dragonriders are capable of in the meantime."

"Thank you, sir." L'ram replied, bowing stiffly. "I hope you view our progress with satisfaction."

…...

Noah stared up at the large bronze dragon, his blue-gray eyes as wide as saucers. "You got to ride that?" He whispered, afraid to speak too loudly.

"Cool, right?" Rex grinned. "That's not even the best part! L'ram says that some of the Candidates to Impress on the next clutch of dragons will be chosen here!"

"Seriously?" Noah's face lit up. "You mean, we could get dragons?"

"Krya says that we don't 'get' dragons. They are more like partners, not pets." Rex looked at the sun glinting off of Indath's hide. "It would be cool to Impress a bronze. L'ram says that they have the highest rank besides the queens."

"I can see why. He's awesome!" Noah took a step toward Indath before hesitating. "Do you think he'll let me come closer?"

"He should." Rex looked at the bronze, who gazed back in an indulgent manner.

Tentatively, Noah approached the mighty creature. When Indath didn't protest, he rested a head on the warm, gleaming hide. A smile came to his face. "Hey." He muttered. His heart did a flip when the bronze let out a gentle hurr in response.

"Making a new friend, Indath?"

Noah and Rex looked up as L'ram walked over, his blue eyes gleaming. Noah quickly stepped back to let the bronze-rider stand by his dragon's brow.

"Don't worry. I won't bite." L'ram laughed as he walked over, giving Indath an affectionate pat. "Well Rex, you were right about White Knight. I haven't talked to such a stickler since I was a weyrling and was taking lessons from T'yat, probably the most boring teacher who ever lived."

"'L'ram', 'T'yat'..." Noah tilted his head. "Do all dragonriders have names like that?"

"You're intuitive, aren't you?" L'ram grinned. "Traditionally, male dragonriders shorten their names as a sign of their status. My name was originally Loram. However, I have a feeling that this tradition won't carry over here." He chuckled. "It would be hard to shorten a name like 'Rex' or 'Noah'."

Both Rex and Noah straightened up at the implication in L'ram's voice.

"Are you saying that we can try to Impress?" Rex asked hesitantly.

L'ram nodded his head. "I had an inkling the moment I saw you, Rex." He glanced at Noah. "I have only known you briefly, but Indath seems to approve of you. You both look like excellent Candidates and I've never been wrong before."

The boys' faces lit up like stars.

"When will the eggs hatch?"

"About a month, I'd say." L'ram then turned to Indath. "Indath, would you be so kind as to summon Nekoth?"

"Another dragon?" Noah was nearly bursting with excitement.

"Yes. White Knight wanted your head scientist, Doctor Salazar, to take a look at one of the dragons. Nekoth is one of the most docile dragons who made the crossing. He's perfect for a long examination, if C'ron is willing."

Rex exchanged a glance with Noah. "He'd better be. Once Caesar gets his hands on him, he'll be doing tests and talking science for the rest of eternity!"

…...

Breach let out a childish giggle as the swarm of tiny dragons swirled around her head. "Are my little favorites hungry?" She asked. Immediately, her mind was bombarded with excited bursts of red and gold.

Finding and taking those seven pretty stones by the Providence building was probably the luckiest split-second decision she had ever made. Soon after taking them, Breach's one place was filled with the sound of crackling shells. She had arrived just in time to see seven beautiful miniature dragons emerge from their eggs, all of them sending mental demands for food.

Immediately, she teleported a large hunk of meat to her one place. The little creatures, after ravenously devouring the meal, had attached themselves to her side and had been her companions since then. Soon after, Breach had realized that each of the little dragons had a mental attachment to her and could send colors, feelings, and pictures into her mind and visa versa.

Now, much to Van Kleiss's chagrin, she was never without the seven little hatchlings: gold-colored Honest, bronze Rex, brown Van and Kleiss, blue Still and Shine, and green Gleam.

As she knelt on the ground, a large amount of stolen meat from a random butcher's shop in hand, Van Kleiss quietly approached, an annoyed expression on his face.

"I hope that you intend to train these creatures, Breach. Otherwise, they'll be entirely useless."

"They listen to me." Breach insisted. "Also, they can go to different places quickly, like me."

This caused Van Kleiss to raise an eyebrow. "They can make portals?"

"No. They vanish and emerge from the Stillness." Breach fed a piece of meat to Honest. The gold creature cheeped happily.

"I see." The nearest little dragon, the green, looked up at him curiously. Frowning, he held out his hand. At a nod from Breach, Gleam flew over and perched on Van Kleiss's knuckle.

"They give me pictures. Pictures of bigger dragons." Breach continued, giving the squawking Van and Kleiss generous helpings of food. "The big dragons have people riding on them. They are very real."

"Bigger?" Now, this was interesting. He eyed the tiny green reptile's sharp little teeth and leathery wings. "How much bigger?"

Sky Dragons is likely the last book Anne McCaffrey was involved in... It'll hold a special place in my heart for sure. Peace out.