Alyx stared at the smoking ruin that was once her computer and she wailed in agony.
"No more Who who's," Bob muttered, then he smashed the computer again with the baseball bat. "No more attempts to have Draco and Snapie do the nasty. No more Snape calling Draco Master."
Bob pummeled the computer again and again. He had had it, all he wanted was a simple disclaimer and if Alyx couldn't be relied on to create one, he'd be damned if he'd allow any more episodes of the Who who epic!
Bob stepped back from the ruined machine and cackled madly. "I rule! I, Bob, have once and for all, destroyed the Who who epic!"
He turned to the tearful Alyx. "Now tell the people we don't own Harry Potter or the Dragon Riders of Pern."
"No," Alyx said defiantly. "You broke my computer, now I'll never be able to make a disclaimer."
Bob blinked and frowned. He hadn't thought of that. "Well damn," he muttered. He shook his head and sighed. "I can't win."
Bob trudged off the stage in defeat, lamenting the fact that in 19 effing chapters he still hadn't gotten a decent disclaimer out of Alyx.
Alyx watched him go, then she looked down at her ruined computer. Slowly her expression changed as she remembered vital! She reached into her pocket and pulled out her Google Nexus 7. A moment later she was happily tapping away at the on-screen keyboard.
"Chapter 1, Return of the Who who," she muttered happily to herself. The small keyboard might slow her down, but she could do the sequel on her tablet.
"Bob's gonna be pissed," Chekiath observed. "He thought he had ended the Who who epic."
"I know, here's to hoping she'll get it done before the next book starts mate," offered Harry. "Now hush, the chapter is starting."
For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.
- Leonardo da Vinci
Farts are funny.
- Chekiath, bonded dragon of The Weyrleader
The Weyr Theater and Harry's Office, Campbeltown Weyr, July 28th...
Sir Robert and Lord Mills watched as the room filled with people who were buzzing with excitement. It was just four days before the Weyr was officially announced to the world and these were the people that would be handling that assignment.
These were the necessary reporters, technicians and craftsmen that would be setting up for the big press conference in four days time. Some were part of a British Army Engineers regiment, but mostly these were television company technicians who would be establishing satellite connections to their networks and setting up camera platforms and makeshift studios.
Lord Mills stepped towards the edge of the stage and raised a hand. The lights dimmed in the theater and people scrambled for seating. Everyone was excited, no attempt had been made to hide the dragons when they arrived via charter buses. Everyone had caught sight of the dragons as they arrived and everyone knew that something of unprecedented proportions was in the works.
James waited a moment longer, then he switched on a microphone. "If everyone would please be seated we can begin. I'm sure you all have tons of questions and a great many of them will be answered in the next hour."
After a moment longer everyone was seated. They all wanted to know what was going on.
"Thank you," James said with a broad smile. "First off, I am Lord James Mills of Arran. I am officially attached to this facility as liaison between the British government and the Weyr. You are now in the independent and autonomous territory of Dragon-kind known as Campbeltown Weyr. The Weyr is staffed by a race of intelligent beings and their human companions, there is also a British Army regiment nearby to help guard the attached research facility and the Weyr but make no mistake, this is not considered part of Scotland. This land was ceded to the Weyr last year by the government and with the approval of Her Majesty.
"The nearby research facility and army base are considered to be part of the Weyr. We are merely leasing that space. The British army unit attached to the Weyr helps provide security to the Weyr and the attached research facility. I will state for the record that the research facility is not engaged in any military research. The regiment is here because it was felt that going public with the Weyr would required additional protection at least for the next few years."
James chuckled. "Since this is an independent territory, if you brought your passports along with you, you'll be allowed to get them stamped here. You'll be among the first to have such a privilege. At dinner tonight a table will be set up in the Kitchen Hall where you can get your passport stamped. I'm told that the Weyr stamp is rather striking compared to the usual passport stamps."
James shuffled slightly and he examined the sea of excited faces in front of him. "As you can probably guess this is a major story. In four days time there will be a press conference here which will announce the existence of dragons to the world. You people are here to help with that announcement by setting up your equipment or helping the Weyr with the final preparations.
"I will caution you, especially you people from the press. Her Majesty's government will take a very dim view of any early leaks and if we trace said leak back to you, you will go to prison and your press organization risks it's license to operate here in the UK. Each of your employers agreed to the security requirements before you arrived, and this is why you were made to turn over any mobile phones before you boarded the coaches to come to the Weyr. Until that day, no video may be sent from the Weyr using your communications equipment. Your companies were warned to make sure you had adequate film and editing equipment on hand here so that you could collect as much footage as needed.
"Your employers recognized the opportunity this presented and they expect you to follow our requirements. The secrecy only need be maintained for a few more days.
"For the next few days you will live here in the Weyr, and eat here. We have made space available, it's not luxurious, but it is comfortable. We have a large Kitchen hall, it's marked on your handout, meals are served three times a day. For the next week the Kitchen hall will be staffed twenty four hours a day so you'll be able to get a sandwich or a hot cuppa even at two in the morning. Our clinic is also open twenty four hours a day. Our physician lives here at the Weyr and can be at the clinic within minutes if need be.
"Finally you have all seen the creatures walking about the Weyr or flying overhead. Yes, they are dragons and they have been hiding from us on this planet for many thousands of years. Occasionally one would be seen by humans which explains why dragons exist in mythology.
"Dragons are not animals, they are a thinking, intelligent species. They are capable handling concepts as well as any human. They do speak, but not in the usual manner. While they are capable of a great many vocalizations, they are unable to speak like humans do. They can however speak telepathically.
"It would be best for you if you consider a dragon to be just another person. They can talk to you and each other telepathically but they cannot read your mind. That is an important distinction. They can project their voice into your mind, but what you are thinking is hidden from them. Talk to a dragon like you would talk to any other person. You will find they are curious and eager to help where they can."
Lord Mills paused and took a deep breath. "Now I would like to introduce you to Sir Robert March, Scientific Adviser to Her Majesty's government and lead scientist in charge of research here at the Weyr. He is going to show you a brief video describing dragons and what we are doing here, then he'll answer your questions. We understand that normally that for many of you, your jobs just require you to set up your equipment, but the leadership of the Weyr felt you would be more comfortable if you understood what was happening.
"For you reporters, you will be allowed time to talk to the dragons and some of their companions, but the real live interviews will be handled on the 31st. I suggest using the time between now and then to shoot file footage and just take the time to understand what is happening here. For the most part you will have free run of the Weyr. We do ask that you do not impede the workers erecting the camera platforms or bother the soldiers in the adjoining camp. The base housing is being used by the dragons and their companions and should be considered private property. So unless you have an invitation, please do not enter any of the housing units."
James glanced over to Sir Robert who nodded, he'd handle this group from here while Lord Mills had one particular VIP that he wanted to personally introduce to Harry and the dragons.
Sir Robert started up the video on the large screen projection TV while James left the building.
James quickly exited the building and spotted the limo that was patiently waiting in front of the building. He walked over to the car and opened the door. "Sir, I know you must have a million questions, if you'll follow me, I'll take you to someone that can help answer them."
A gray haired man climbed out of the limousine and James led him towards the Administration building.
A short walk later James led his guest to Harry's office. He knocked and opened the door with a big smile on his face. He had carefully kept the identity of his guest to himself for the past week. The Prime Minister's office had arranged for his help and James knew exactly what this would mean to the Weyr.
Harry was at his desk, typing furiously at his computer when the door opened.
"Harry! It's the nature smith!" exclaimed Chekiath excitedly. The large dragon stood and extended his head into the office to get a closer look.
Sir David Attenborough paused in mid-stride and stared.
"We know you! You're famous." The huge dragon was looking at the naturalist, his eyes spinning with almost solid green.
James chuckled and turned to Sir David. "Ah, I suppose I should have warned you, but the dragons are a huge fan of your Life series. The dragons have watched nearly every television show you've done by now."
"My word. I know the Prime Minister said they were telepathic, but... this is incredible," exclaimed Sir David.
"Sir David Attenborough, may I introduce you to The Weyrleader for all the dragons of Earth, Harry Potter, and his bonded dragon Chekiath."
Harry shook from his shock and shot a reproachful look at James before standing and offering a hand. "Welcome to Campbeltown Weyr sir, when the Prime Minister said he would find someone that would help introduce dragons to the world I never imagined..."
Harry trailed off and looked sheepishly. "The dragons aren't the only people to admire your work Sir David."
Attenborough smiled, "Please, just David is fine. As I understand it, we'll be here for the next week or more and I hope to be able to spend time learning more about your friends."
He paused and turned towards Chekiath and looked at him, his practiced eye cataloging a sight he never imagined to see.
"Then please call me Harry," Harry replied, then he glanced over at his dragon and smirked. His dragon was star struck but he wasn't the only one. Harry could hear the sound of wings as dragons from across the Weyr came to peek into his window.
"Chekiath? Do you want to welcome our guest?" Harry said with amusement. Sir David was a very popular television personality among the dragons and he could tell that Chekiath was somewhat shocked to meet him in person.
Chekiath blinked and looked at Harry, then he turned to Sir David. "The Weyr welcomes you honored smith," Chekiath said. "May you find peace and shelter under our wings."
Harry stepped closer to Chekiath and gently scratched behind his ear, knowing it would calm his very excited dragon. As he scratched he looked at Attenborough. "The dragons love your shows. They are fond of comedies and some action programs, but they insisted we buy tapes of all your shows. We even have some of your earlier works. But your segment in Fabulous Animals about dragons had them laughing for a week I'm afraid."
Attenborough winced slightly, Fabulous Animals had been very early in his career and it was one of those shows that no performer liked to be reminded of, especially one with his scientific background. Sir David stepped forward and lifted one hand hesitantly. "May I?"
Harry nodded. "Please, the dragons enjoy having their eye ridges scratched."
Chekiath stretched slightly, putting his head in easy reach. "I hope we have plenty of time to talk sir," he said. "We would love to hear more about your animal friends."
"And I am going to enjoy learning more about you my large friend," Sir David replied in a bemused tone as he scratched Cheki's eye ridges.
"I've been told that the Prime Minister personally briefed you a week ago?" Harry asked.
Sir David nodded. "Yes, although at the time I confess it sounded more like a cross between a science fiction novel and a bad fairy tale."
"Harry, if you don't need me any further, I'll return to help Sir Robert?" James said.
Harry nodded. "Thank you James. Lee Jordan and Wing four will be assembling in front of the theater in a bit so your crowd can mingle with the dragons."
James nodded and walked from the office.
"Did anyone mention how the dragons name people?" asked Harry.
"No, I don't think it was mentioned," Attenborough replied.
Harry grinned. "Dragons are surprisingly literal when it comes to language, so if you think for even a moment that you are misunderstanding a dragon, or the dragon is misunderstanding you, then that is likely the case. Such language usage like 'glued to the telly' caused one dragon to protest that his rider had been glued to the machine."
Harry smiled as he recalled Draco's Sinnath complaining that someone was abusing his rider.
"Additionally dragons seldom use a given name for someone that is not a rider. Chekiath will call me Harry, but he'll call the Prime Minister the lord holder and Sir Robert is a master smith. They are titles they remember from their time before they came to our planet. Other people, like Major Atkins, our security chief, gets a more descriptive name of Brown Runner, because of the color of her hair and the fact that she and I jog around the Weyr every morning.
"So don't be concerned or offended if the dragons refer to you using some invented name instead of your own. It is a cultural thing we think."
Attenborough nodded thoughtfully, he had been briefed on the dragons and knew they held racial memories going back thousands of generations. Prime Minister Major had privately briefed him on the economic potential of the dragons and told him that certain aspects of dragons, such as their incredible memories wouldn't be explained in detail to the general public.
It took him a moment to understand why Sir Robert earned the title of master smith, then he recalled the history of the profession in society. Many of the earliest inventors started out by being smiths of one form or another. A Master Smith was a fine title for the nation's chief scientific adviser.
"I don't think that will be a problem Harry," he replied slowly, then he glanced up at Chekiath in amazement again. "They could call me Fuzzy Wuzzy for all I care. Just the thought of meeting another intelligent life form that can communicate gives me shivers."
Chekiath turned to Harry and said privately. "Does he really want us to call him Fuzzy Wuzzy? It is a most unusual name. Most dragons call him the Nature Smith."
Harry chuckled and shook his head, then he turned to Attenborough. "This is what I meant. Chekiath thought you wanted him to be called Fuzzy Wuzzy. The dragons have been watching your shows and they have been calling you the Nature Smith for months now."
Attenborough's eyes widened for a moment then he started to laugh a deep belly laugh. "I suppose that would have been awkward indeed. Nature Smith is a wonderful title to be granted by such a magnificent being."
He bowed to Chekiath. "Thank you, I have been called many things in my day, some quite disagreeable, but I am honored to be a Nature Smith."
"Cheki, why don't we show Sir David around? I think he would like to see the Weyr," Harry said.
Chekiath stood and turned to face the outer door. With a practiced step he activated the door and it slowly lifted out of the way. Once it was clear the large dragon stepped out side.
Harry motioned towards the exit. "If you'll follow me, just stay on the walkway," he said, then Harry walked over to the narrow wooden walkway that kept him off of Chekiath's little bed unlike the dragon stall in his quarters this was designed to only fit one dragon and Chekiath was pretty cramped in the space. "This isn't Chekiath's main bed, but he does like to nap here. So I try not to walk on it. He can't fit into the office but he helps me plan our operations from his spot."
Sir David followed Harry outside and then turned back to look at the building and door. Chekiath stepped on a different pressure pad to close the door. Near the pressure switch was a more conventional human sized switch which Sir David assumed acted just like the pressure switch.
Harry pointed to the sandy area where Chekiath normally lay. "That is a typical dragon bed for our dragons. Under the layer of sand is a layer of gravel that has been heated. Thanks to their unique abilities the gravel continues to radiate a gentle heat making the bed very comfortable for them. Dig down about a foot to the gravel and you'll find a layer of softly glowing pebbles. I only wish that all of the dragons had such beds."
"Someday they will Harry, you will see to that," Chekiath offered.
Harry smiled and nodded. "I hope so mate, I sure intend to try."
Sir David turned back to Harry. "How many dragons are there worldwide?"
Harry smiled. "When we did our first census there were roughly eighty six hundred dragons. It's closer to nine thousand now. At the same time that we did that census we had less than forty riders in a single Weyr. Now we have three Weyrs in three countries and roughly two hundred and sixty riders. We believe the planet can comfortably support ten thousand bonded dragons, and that is our goal, to eventually have ten thousand riders. It will take decades to reach that point, as there are still many non-bonded dragons who have their own lives to live."
"The dragons have the ability to control their egg laying, so the Weyrs without riders have dropped their population growth to nearly zero. They are all eagerly awaiting their turn to become a manned Weyr like Campbeltown. As to the manned Weyrs, there are two egg laying times per year, in November and again in February.
"We've been restricting each manned Weyr to roughly forty eggs per laying. The dragons could provide much more, but training more riders is a problem. Right now we're training one hundred and twenty riders twice a year, and that number will increase with each Weyr we open. Training is going to be an issue in the future that's why we've set limits on the population growth."
Sir David nodded thoughtfully, ten thousand dragons wasn't an overly large amount, but he knew that the higher up the food chain one went, the rarer the predator. He shook his head in anger at himself. Dragons were predators without a doubt, but he chastised himself for trying to apply animal kingdom rules to intelligent beings. Humans were predators too, and there were nearly five billion of them on the planet!
Harry led Sir David and Chekiath towards Hangar seven first. There were a few dragons in the infirmary and it would give Attenborough a better understanding of some of the problems they faced. Harry desperately wanted the man to understand the issues they wrestled with. In short he wanted Sir David on their side as a friend to the dragons. Harry was grateful to the Prime Minister's office, they really came through for the Weyr by securing Sir David's help. Now Harry wanted to turn the man into an advocate for the Weyr if he could.
Harry paused in front of the door to the building. "This is our dragon infirmary. We currently have two official Weyrhealers and nine riders that are studying to be Weyrhealers. When not involved in healing a dragon all of them work together trying to improve their healing abilities and knowledge," he said, then he pulled the door open. His voice dropped as they entered. "Healing a dragon is a difficult task. For one thing they're armor plated, making surgery very difficult. Also we know so little about dragons and their illnesses. Right now we're limited mostly to some dentistry, and attempting to heal wounds or setting bones.
"Oh and we had one case of a bad cold that nearly burned the building down. Poor Heeth would blast the wall with fire every time she sneezed. We are just lucky that a dragon has to consciously want to make something everglow," Harry said with a grimace, then he opened the door letting them both enter.
"Everglow?" pressed Sir David.
Harry paused and turned to look at Sir David. "You know about the Hot Rocks, how the dragons can somehow make a rock that retains the heat?"
Sir David nodded.
Harry ran a hand through his hair. "Well the dragon needs to decide consciously whether she's burning down a building, or setting it to radiate heat like a hot rock. Our Public Affairs officer coined the phrase everglow for anything that has been set radiating heat like a hot rock. There are some limitations of course, they can't create an everglow person, or even an everglow tree, the temperatures are just too high for those sort of objects. But some forms of rock or metals can be made into everglows.
"We have some people looking at creating everglow steel rods to be embedded into roadways to melt snow and ice. Sir Robert claims we have only scratched the surface of what we can do."
"My god," muttered Sir David. "It's incredible." It was becoming apparent to him that the Weyr represented change on a massive scale.
"It's nice," Cheki added, "but we prefer to help people more directly like we did with the Orkney."
Harry grinned and affectionately thumped his dragon. "We'll get plenty of chances for that I'm sure. But in the meantime all these things help us grow Cheki."
Harry turned back to the door and stepped inside then he pressed a button on the wall that opened the huge sliding doors so Chekiath could enter. Sir David looked around while they waited for the doors to open. Nearby was a dragon who seemed to be connected to a metal frame. In front of the dragon was a cart with a projection television. It was projecting a large block of text against a wall. Every so often the dragon would nudge a large red paddle and the text would change.
Harry turned and spotted Sir David's interest. He led the man towards Lornth's stall. "This one of our few dragon readers. We have six in the Weyr, including this one. Each reader is connected to the Weyr network and can access a library of books we've purchased. The readers are all handmade and there are more on order, but this one is dedicated to the infirmary for the dragons here. There is a second more advanced model which allows the dragons the ability to write whatever they want. We have only have two of those so far. I'm sure you'll see it in action at Hangar two in the coming days.
He gestured and Sir David stepped closer looking curiously at the dragon hooked to the weird framework. "Lornth broke his wings rather badly in an... er incident. Shall I introduce you?"
Attenborough nodded eagerly. "Hello Lornth, how are you today?"
Lornth turned from his book and his eyes started to slowly spin with green streaks. "I am comfortable Weyrleader thank you for asking. May tells me that next week I will have some friends visiting."
Lornth turned to Attenborough. "Welcome to our Weyr Nature Smith. May you find peace and shelter under our wings."
The large dragon paused and looked at one of his wings before looking back. "Well the other dragon's wings. I don't think mine are ready for that yet. We all very much enjoy your shows."
Attenborough blinked in surprise, then he took in the complex network of wires, pulleys and steel tubing that held the large wings in place. "No I don't think you are," he agreed with a gentle smile. "How did you become injured Lornth?"
Harry coughed lightly and Attenborough looked at him. "David, the Weyr has been involved in some actions that are covered under the official secrets act. Lornth here was injured during one of those actions. Some terrorists were looking to attack a school full of children and he was part of the group of dragons that defended it. Lornth was the only one seriously injured. Regrettably we are unable to speak more about that. Our British friends have asked that we keep it secret and we've agreed. It would not do to give the terrorists any more notoriety than they already have.
"As for Lornth, each wing received multiple breaks, but I've been told none of the joints were damaged. So we have high hopes that he'll fly again."
Attenborough nodded, he had been briefed on the secret aspect of this job, with that understanding he turned back to the large dragon and asked Lornth another question about his treatment. A door opened and Harry noted Issac enter carrying his medical kit. Seeing that Attenborough and Lornth were conversing, he decided to see what brought Issac to the infirmary today.
He caught up with the Weyr doctor four stalls away with May who was bending over and pointing at Cetath's injury showing him something. May and Issac were having a hushed conversation that Harry couldn't make out, but he could see Cetath's injury looked red and swollen and a foul smelling liquid oozed between the stitches.
"Is there a problem?" a voice said quietly from behind him. He turned to see Attenborough standing nearby looking concerned.
"I'm not sure," he admitted. "Cetath here was involved in the rescue of a Royal Navy Helicopter and he received a deep injury from one of the blades. The aircraft had crashed in the channel and Cetath pulled it from the water. He didn't understand that the blades were dangerous until it was too late."
May knelt in the sand and began cutting the steel wire she had used to suture the wound. Issac held a large plastic tube in his hands. With several stitches removed the amount of liquid oozing from the wound increased. Issac pushed a bucket under the wound and let it drain into the bucket.
"Now push gently May. Don't be afraid to use some force, just go slow," he urged.
May nodded and pushed slowly on the swollen area, increasing the flow of liquid. "Are you sure about this Issac? I don't want to hurt Cetath."
"It works in people," he replied. "Just relieving the pressure will be a comfort to Cetath."
Finally May knelt back on her heels and Issac handed her the tube. "Now just like we practiced May. Insert one end of the tube into the abscess and add just a few stitches and a loop around the drain tube to hold it in place," Issac said softly. May carefully slid the tube into the open area in the wound and Issac passed her a needle with a silver wire attached.
A hand touched Harry's shoulder and he looked up from what May and Issac were doing. "Dan?"
Dan Granger motioned him away from where May was working. "Come over this way Harry, I don't think May needs you hovering right now," Dan said.
Harry nodded and motioned for Attenborough to follow him. "Dan, I'd like you to meet Sir David Attenborough, he's going to be providing commentary and background information for our press conference."
Dan smiled broadly. "It is a great pleasure, I have admired your work for years," he said, offering his hand.
"David, this is doctor Daniel Granger, Weyr dentist for both human and dragon-kind and part time tutor for our riders. Dan is also a member of the Weyr Council who help advise me in running the Weyr," Harry said.
Once they had greeted each other Harry glanced back towards Cetath's stall. "What is happening there Dan?"
Dan frowned and followed his gaze. "Cetath has developed an abscess, most likely because May stitched him up on the pitching deck of an aircraft carrier. It's not the most sterile of environments. Issac is helping by showing May how to drain it and treat it. I think they caught it early enough, but it has to be watched. Abscesses can be nasty infections to deal with."
Harry nodded worriedly and turned to Attenborough. "One of our problems is that we know so little about dragons. Healing the dragons is very difficult for us now, ten years from now, perhaps it will be easier. Doctor Sheppard, our Weyr doctor says that we're barely out of the herbal medicine phase when it comes to treating dragons."
"Is anything being done about that?" asked Attenborough.
Harry smiled broadly. "Our American Weyr is starting up an effort to understand dragon anatomy. With the help of NASA and the American National Institute of Health they hope to have a basic idea of the anatomy in two years. There's talk about retrofitting an several industrial machines so that they can get images. Right now however they do have the largest x-ray machine and are producing a detailed skeletal image. One of our healer trainees is working with them to provide names for every part."
"Is that all the Americans are doing?"
Dan snorted and tried to hold back his laughter. "Hardly," he said, then he glanced at Harry who nodded to him.
Attenborough turned his gaze on the dentist. "Asides from the biological tests, there's an effort to use hot rocks to power industrial kilns. Another group are looking at the concept of a small hot air furnace where hot rocks would provide the heat. The Americans are going crazy with ideas. As a member of the Weyr council I can tell you, barely a week goes by without receiving a proposal to research something pertaining to the hot rocks."
Dan turned back to Harry. "Speaking of that Harry, did you see the proposal to use dragon scales for heat shield material from NASA's Ames Research center?"
Harry frowned, he had seen an email from Dan along with the attached proposal from the California research center. "I did, but wouldn't that put too much of a demand on our supply of scales?" Harry had visions of someone trying to use the scales to shield the space shuttle and even he knew that was huge!
Dan shook his head. "Hardly, we're not talking a lot of scales and even if the idea is used, it wouldn't even put a dent in our supply. Mostly they are talking about testing it on a small scale. If the scales prove useful they may begin an effort to reproduce them artificially."
Harry shook his head and pulled his notebook from a large pocket and made a note to himself. "We'll talk about this later I think Dan, but do tell James to make sure it's on the council meeting list. There's just too much going on this week to worry about it now."
Dan clapped his hand on Harry's shoulder. "Good enough, but I think it's worth letting them try."
May and Issac approached them and Harry looked at May anxiously. "May?"
She glanced away from Issac and stopped in her tracks. David Attenborough was a very well known celebrity and unlike the dragons and the wizards, she had grown up watching his globe traveling nature shows.
"May?" Harry repeated.
She tore her eyes away from Attenborough to look at Harry dumbly.
"How is Cetath?" he pressed.
"Oh Issac taught me how to put in a drain. We've pumped him full of antibiotics and drained the abscess. Outside of that, now all we can do is watch it carefully. He's on a pain reliever and we've given him something to lower his fever."
Harry looked up with interest. "That's new."
Issac stepped forward. "It was my idea. When Cetath was injured I calculated a dosage of over the counter aspirin based on body weight. We halved that as a precaution and tried it. When he had no ill effects we gave him a full dose. Granted I had to empty fourteen bottles of tablets and grind them into a powder, but I think it will work. I mixed it with twenty pounds of hamburger meat."
Issac grinned, "I had James contact several local chemists and put in an order for several cases of aspirin. At fourteen bottles for a dose, we'll need a lot of the stuff just keep up with Cetath's needs. If we need to stock this for regular use we better make arrangements with a manufacturer for shipments in bulk powder form."
Harry nodded and scribbled another note in his book, then turned to Attenborough. "Its a learning process, every day we pick up something new. May is compiling a book on healing and rarely does a day go by when she isn't adding something to it. In fact quite a few of us are building books.
"One rider is interested in psychology and has started looking into dragon psychology. It's very different than our own," Harry added.
"That should come as no surprise Harry. The dragons DNA is so radically different," Issac offered.
Attenborough blinked and stared at Issac. "When the PM said they were of extra-terrestrial origin I was skeptical but you're saying the DNA is different?"
"Dragons have a higher concentration of heavy metals in their blood, and there is little in their DNA that resembles anything alive on this planet. When you consider that dragons have been here since the middle of the late Pleistocene epoch, the amount of adaptation to our environment has been just enough for them to survive. Everything about them screams of an extra-terrestrial origin.
"The dragons do have something very similar to DNA, but chemically it's not exactly the same stuff. We're not even sure our standard tests are working correctly because the DNA isn't the same. When we compensated for the Boron in their chemistry we did find something that looked like our DNA. If the tests are to believed the base pairs are all wrong and their seems to be some extra nucleotides that are completely new to us." Issac said firmly.
"And then there is the telepathy which is unique to dragons alone," Harry added.
Attenborough nodded, then he turned to Chekiath who had been following them. "I don't know if anyone has said this, but I for one am very glad you came to our world."
"Harry has often said that, but thank you. We are looking forward to working with people," Chekiath replied.
"That's one of the reasons why you were asked to come here early David," Harry said softly. He reached up and stroked Cheki's neck and the huge dragon craned his head to look at his rider fondly. "The Weyr needs to send several important messages to the world. Most importantly that we are not a threat, and the fact that the dragons truly want to help mankind."
Harry glanced up at his dragon and smiled.
"There is a terrible downside to the instant notoriety and fame we'll earn. The dragons and for a large part my riders, don't see it. We will have people wanting to use us to sell their products, or be on their television shows or just use us for their own gains. Some people will hate us outright, and some will fear us and call the dragons demons because they believe only humans can have souls. Some nations will look at the hot rocks we can produce with anger because it will erode their oil sales and others will clamor for access to the rocks. Some people will make up with minds and be against us simply because they don't understand us.
"It worries me. Dragons are incapable of lying and while they are good at reading people, I still worry that they will be taken advantage of," he said softly. "No matter how hard I try to prevent that, I know I can't prevent it all."
He turned back to Attenborough who seemed mesmerized by the site of Harry and Chekiath together. "Once upon a time intelligent dragons, had intelligent partners. The dragons tell us that they were made to be bonded with humanoids like us. Now they have partners again and all they want in return for our respect and friendship is a chance to earn their place in human society as equals. That's what we need your help with Sir David. Properly released information with no special bias, just the unvarnished truth. I admit I do not know your career as well as the others, but I am told that you have a reputation of integrity and honesty. We're hoping you would help us."
"We would really like your help Nature Smith. Even we can see your passion for explaining the world. Well we are a part of that world too," Chekiath said.
Harry smiled and nodded to his dragon. He couldn't have put it any better. The humans surrounding Attenborough held their breaths waiting and hoping for a positive reaction. Sir David didn't know it, but Harry was sure his help would be vital in promoting the dragons in the coming years.
Attenborough looked around at the dragons he could see. The hangar doors were still open from Chekiath's entrance and in the distance he could see a large group of dragons in formation and people clustered around them. He didn't know it at the time but he was watching one of the wings assembling for their weekly flight drills.
Finally he turned back to Harry and smiled. "How could I not help? I can think of no greater honor."
Chekiath and the other dragons nearby, even Cetath, thrummed with approval. They knew they could count on the Nature Smith.
Campbeltown Weyr, July 31st...
The day dawned sunny with a light cloud cover. From Harry's vantage point nearly one thousand feet above the Weyr that this day was not like any other. Every building now flew a dragon flag, and the Weyr seemed to sparkle. The buildings had been repainted, all the lawns trimmed, even the Weyr housing had been cleaned until they shone.
Below Harry could see a long line of buses queuing up at the entrance while the British army on loan from the new base next door checked invitations and handled external security. Inside the Weyr and at the gate proper the security was all low key. Each bus would be boarded and someone would check the invitations. No weapons were visible, although they were there, in the nearby security building.
The new SAS regiment that had moved in was currently patrolling all of the land surrounding the Weyr. If anyone came within three miles of the Weyr, they'd know about it.
The aurors on loan from the Ministry of Magic were disillusioned and under orders not to interfere unless lives were in danger or they caught someone using magic. Harry had issued very strict orders to his magical riders, they were to leave their wands in their quarters for the day.
That resulted in a bit of good-natured grumbling and some teasing from the normal riders about having to do things the normal way.
Young Frances Sheppard, Issac's little girl, and the only possible source of accidental magic, was off with her Mum on a Weyr paid holiday to Euro Disney for three days. Before that she had spent a few days with Issac's parents in the country. When she left, she very seriously promised Chekiath that she'd try and get Mickey Mouse's autograph for him.
The plan for the day was very simple. The guests would be shuttled through the Weyr theater for Lee's video and a second video created by Sir Robert's staff, then they would re-board the buses for the short trip to the science buildings and a guided tour of the working power plant as well as some of the ongoing experiments. From there they would be taken to Hangar Three where a picnic style buffet had been set up.
Even with the diplomats being shown the videos elsewhere it wouldn't be until early afternoon before everyone had cycled through the videos and tour and had a chance to eat.
Interviewing stations had been set up in front of Hangar two, and the dragon type writer had been moved into an area of Hangar two where a dragon could use the large pressure sensitive keyboard to answer questions put to them by the reporters.
People would be released from their tour of the science center to walk the distance back to the hangars. It was just a way of slowing and controlling the mob James had explained to Harry.
"You see, we need to pace things a bit. Between lunch and talking to the dragons we expect that most of the reporters won't be ready for anything else until one in the afternoon. The Prime Minister and the US President will fly in around around noon and Her Majesty will arrive by car a little later. I've planned for a private meeting and lunch with them before we go out to the stage for the press announcement."
Harry shook from his revery and he squeezed his knees slightly and leaned towards the left. "Let's make one more aerial sweep, then we'll go join up with the folks at Hangar three."
Chekiath rumbled with mirth. "You just want to delay meeting all those people as long as possible. Aren't you excited? All the dragons are!"
Harry smiled at his dragon. His excitement was clear in his voice. "I am Cheki, but today brings us new problems. I know everyone is excited because it means we'll be able to visit friends and family openly, but it also means other things, some of them aren't so good."
"Responsibility," Chekiath replied solemnly. "It is important Harry, but sometimes you have to laugh. You don't laugh enough. What you need to do is get the girls in your tub and let loose with a big fart. The bubbles tickle. Its very funny."
Harry shook his head. Somethings dragons will never understand. He agreed that farts could be very funny, but ripping one loose in the tub while the girls were with him? No that would funny to him, until the girls got over their shock, then it would become painful.
The buildup to this day had been hard on Harry. As the day approached he could feel his bond between Chekiath and the other dragons fluctuating wildly with their emotions. He had to really hold tight onto his emotions to keep himself from becoming overwhelmed by it all. The dragons around the world were seething with excitement. To many of them this was the true end of the time of the beasts, this was the day that mankind came to know about them and they could ascend to their rightful place as humanity's partner.
Harry gave the Weyr and surrounding countryside another glance but he could see nothing out of the ordinary. Harry directed Chekiath to land in front of Hangar three. The huge dragon banked sharply and lost altitude quickly. He leveled out just in time to come to a gentle landing next to Spath who was curled up in the summer sun, just basking.
"You look very comfortable Spath," Harry called from his perch on Cheki.
Spath raised his head and his eyes twirled with pleasure. "The sun is warm today. All over the world the dragons are thrilled about today. It is a good day to enjoy the warm sunshine. It is a good day to be a dragon."
Harry chuckled and slid lightly to the ground. He took a quick look and spotted Ronan not far away. He waved his second over.
Ronan turned and said something to Karen who smiled and reached up to lightly kiss his cheek before walking away with a bit of an exaggerated swish. Ronan watched, entranced for a moment, then he shook his head and joined Harry who smirked at him. "Looks like Karen is happy this morning," Harry said teasingly.
Ronan grinned. "She's not the only one. The dragon's mood has infected the entire Weyr. Even the elves are celebrating, sort of. I stopped in the lounge earlier. It's not part of the tour and the elves have decided to use it for their hideout today. Did you know that they are running a James Bond marathon or that they really love when he blows stuff up?"
Harry blinked in surprise. "So that's why Dobby asked if he could borrow some tapes from our video collection. Well that will keep them occupied for the day. And our other guests?"
Prince William and Prince Harry had arrived the same day as the others and the Weyr had kept them busy helping care for the dragons as well as learning to fly on a pair of the non-bonded dragons. Spath privately informed Harry that while neither boy was capable of impressing, they had made some close friends among the dragons and could eventually develop a relationship along the lines of what Sirius had with Norendrath.
Harry told Spath to keep that information private for now, but he would make it known to their father.
Ronan's grin broadened. "They know they shouldn't be seen until their father arrives, so they are watching the Bond movies with the elves."
The princes, being part of the royal family, had been briefed about magic a week before they arrived at the Weyr by their father. Both boys had been schooled long ago in the issue of security and secrets and understood why magic was secret for now.
Harry chuckled. "It figures." Prince Harry had turned out to be the more adventurous of the pair and Harry knew he would enjoy the movies. He had seen a few when they were played in the Kitchen hall, but personally never felt the need to bring them home to watch. May enjoyed a good romantic comedy and Hermione loved her historical dramas, but Harry never really developed much taste for television except for the occasional documentary or show that his ladies insisted he watch.
Harry blinked and looked around in surprise. "Trath? Is something wrong?"
"No. May just asked me to tell you she and the Master Healer have finished examining Cetath's injury again. They believe the sickness is going away."
Harry shot Ronan a grin. His second grinned back, everyone had been worried about Cetath's injury. "Excellent news Trath, thank May and remind her that we'll need her help today. Unless there is an emergency she can join us in front of Hangar three."
"I will remind her again Weyrleader. She is relieved now that she knows Cetath is getting better."
"We all are relieved Trath. Tell her I said 'well done'," Harry replied.
"Good news for a good day," Ronan offered. Cetath's infection had been stubborn and everyone had been worrying about it. There was a growing fear that it was going to get worse. Twice in the past few days Issac recommending changing the antibiotic medication. It had been the one cloud on the horizon building up to day, and it had been a very dark cloud.
Harry nodded. "True, now all we have to do is get through today."
Ronan glanced at his watch. "The first buses left the theater over an hour ago. I expect the tour of the power plant and laboratories to let out any moment."
All of the riders had a dry run yesterday in which they sat through the videos and were given their first look at the inside of the test power plant. Harry came away suitably impressed by the dazzling lights and shiny consoles, but more importantly he came away with a better understanding of the process. It finally dawned on him that in the muggle world hot rocks presented a major boon because heat equals energy. And muggle society needed sustainable, renewable energy.
The video created by the science group depicted just a small handful of possible uses that left Harry and most of the riders stunned. He had known about some of the uses and relied on people like Millicent and Wayne to inform him, which they had. What they hadn't told him about, was alternative ideas that were being generated by Sir Robert's people. This wasn't really an oversight on Millicent or Wayne's part, these ideas were not being worked on by anyone because they just lacked the manpower.
Sir Robert and his team of senior scientists and engineers had put together a wish list of things to research. There were dozens of potential hot rock applications from the serious to the downright silly. And many of them could earn significant funds for the Weyrs. Harry personally thought the hot tub heating unit might be very useful, in his mind it was no different than the hot springs at Disko.
Sir Robert and Lord Mills had a plan in place that would allow for the Weyr to hire people to research these ideas once the power plants started going into production. The new research group would be owned entirely by the Weyr and funded by the Weyr. It was an idea promoted by Lord Mills to make the Weyr self sufficient and one that Sir Robert agreed with wholeheartedly.
A noise caught Harry's attention and he looked over towards the sectioned off part of the Weyr to see people pouring through the gate.
"Show time people, look smart," he announced, then he brushed some imaginary dirt from his dress uniform and straightened this beret.
The dragons from the manned wings lined up in front of the hangar, inside, the non-bonded dragons waited anxiously. Signs were posted asking people to avoid stepping into any dragon stall and there were riders that would circulate in the hangar, but generally people would be allowed free access to the dragons.
Harry smiled when he saw the crowd had been grouped the way he had specified. The survivors from the HMS Orkney and their families were at the forefront of the crowd. The Orkney incident had been explained in the video produced by the science staff. Harry wanted the survivors and their families because their lives had been impacted by the assistance of the dragons. It also put a very human face on the image the dragons were hoping to convey to the world.
Harry watched as the families led the way, spurred on by the excitement of the children who wanted desperately to talk to a dragon. He sighed and Chekiath lifted his head and turned to look at him.
"What's wrong Harry, the children seem very excited to see us," the dragon asked.
Harry nodded to himself. "Yeah I know mate, but watching them now and suddenly I thought it is a shame that Albus couldn't be here for this. He would have enjoyed it."
Spath lifted his head and looked at Harry. "He would have and if Green Lady is right, then he is here now, watching over us. It's strange, we have so many memories from before the time of the beasts, but never in all of those memories did we think of what happens after. Green Lady says we all go to a pleasant place to be with all those that have gone on before us. I find that comforting."
Eddie Took was the 'Green Lady' Spath referred to, having earned her name because she always wore something green, even if it was just a hair ribbon. She had been to the Weyr on numerous occasions since Albus' passing and the dragons enjoyed talking to her. She hadn't exactly converted anyone yet, but she was rather close.
Her message of tolerance and gentle love found plenty of support among the riders and the dragons. Eddie's acceptance of the dragons as people put her and her faith in a prime position. Once they allowed other denominations in, they would have to do the same or find themselves being ignored.
Chekiath turned and crooned softly at the ancient dragon. Harry grimaced, he knew Spath's time was coming to an end also and he dreaded that day. "Hopefully that won't be for a long time," Harry said softly. "Your Weyr and your dragons need you still Spath."
Chekiath bobbed his head in agreement and the ancient dragon eyed both of them fondly. He wasn't a product of a human/dragon bond and he did wish things could have been different for his life but generally he was content. Chekiath was growing beyond what Spath was capable of. Under the influences of their riders all of the bonded dragons were growing to form relationships based on emotions instead of instincts. Spath was shocked to discover that the bonded dragons not only respected him, but loved him, it was their riders that were changing dragon-kind, just like the dragons were changing their riders.
Ronan nodded grimly at Harry then he pointed to where a young girl who was maybe ten stood, nose to nose with Mariah's Buth. The little girl said something and Harry felt his own spirits lift as she reached out to gently touch the dragon. Behind her stood a young woman with a toddler in her arms and her husband, wearing a Royal Navy uniform. One arm was in a sling and Harry wondered if he had suffered a lasting injury from his ordeal in the North Sea.
Several of Sir Robert's staff along with some of Major Atkins' people ushered the press party past the Orkney families, they were heading to Hangar two where the dragon writer was set up. Momnarth and Norendrath would be holding a press conference while Gordon Chapman's Kirteth would operate the writer.
The families would make their way over there in a bit, but for now, this was a chance to allow the survivors to meet their saviors. Harry had been very specific in regards to the Orkney people. He didn't want the press hounding them. It had been decided that a representative from the British Admiralty and the commanding officer of the Orkney would issue a joint statement to the press later today after the official announcement but no press would be allowed to pressure any of the families into giving interviews.
Harry turned when Chekiath started to rumble contentedly and nearly broke out in laughter. Three different children were scratching him and he was enjoying it immensely.
Seeing that Cheki was in good hands, he stepped over to where two sets of parents watched their children with a mixture of awe and a touch of anxiety. "You needn't worry, the dragons love children and wouldn't dream of doing anything that hurts them," he said softly.
One man, an officer from his uniform, turned to Harry and quickly noted the Order of St. Georges pinned to Harry's breast. "You're the Weyrleader they told us about?" he gasped, then just as quickly he snapped off a textbook salute.
Harry nodded to the man. "We don't stand much on formality here..." Harry looked at the man's uniform but he was unable to determine his rank.
"Lieutenant Cavanaugh, second engineering officer," offered Cavanaugh. He was a young man, in his late twenties.
Harry smiled. "Thank you, I'm afraid I'm not very knowledgeable about Royal Navy uniforms and ranks. Are you and your men well Mr. Cavanaugh?"
"It's been a bit rough," Cavanaugh said softly. A young blond woman stepped up and slipped her hand in his.
"We're fine thanks to you and your dragons," she said. "Mike here might have a nightmare now and then, but at least he's alive to have them. And Anna will get to grow up knowing her daddy." She glanced at a small girl who seemed to be holding a very serious conversation with Chekiath.
Harry looked a bit uncomfortable, but he tried to push that aside. "We're just glad we were able to help. After today we'll be able to openly help like we did with the Orkney. The dragons are very excited about that."
The sound of a trio of helicopters approaching distracted Harry. He quickly turned to Cavanaugh again. "Excuse me but I must go, please feel free to mingle with the riders and dragons. They can answer any of your questions. In a short while a catered lunch will be served here in front of Hangar three."
He bowed slightly and walked quickly towards the helipad. Overhead one large helicopter and two fast attack helicopters were circling around before beginning their approach.
"Wing four, assemble at the Helipad," he sent mentally. They had been waiting nearby for just that order. Harry had chosen Wing four to do most of the introductions mainly because Lee and Mariah were the most comfortable in dealing with people. When Harry assigned Lee to the Wing he allowed Mariah to transfer over as well. Wing four now had six others that were actively helping Lee in the newly formed Weyr Public Affairs office.
Harry was pleased to see Lee Jordan back in charge of his wing after his long recovery. His second, Abbey Rhodes was slated to get one of the new wings from the next hatching. She was busy training up a replacement to assume her slot in Wing four as wing second.
The large helicopter flared and gently touched down. Harry grabbed his beret, pressing it against his head to keep it from flying away. A security detail made of both US Secret Service and the Diplomatic protection group surrounded the helicopter, looking outward.
Harry smirked, the US security detail were heavily armed and looking very uncomfortable to be surrounded by so many dragons.
Harry glanced up and laughed, Wing One from Condron Weyr had arrived with Skip and Kat. He glanced at his watch, Wing One from Maziang was also due to arrive any moment, but he specifically asked for Skip and Kat to be here to greet their president. He watched with approval as the Condron dragons landed in nearly perfect formation right next to Lee's wing. The American's wore a uniform that was identical to the British except for the coloring.
Campbeltown had the dragon silhouette patch in black and white, just like the flag they flew. The Americans opted for a red dragon against a blue background with a white border. It was the only difference between the two uniforms. Each Weyr was allowed to choose their own signature colors.
Harry glanced towards the BBC television tower that had been set up to transmit signals to their main office. Currently several men occupied a platform just below the top of the tower. Harry knew they were a mix of technicians and security personnel.
Nearby in a mobile trailer Sir David Attenborough added commentary to the tape that would be broadcast after today's press conference. Attenborough had spent the last four days talking to people and shooting hundreds of minutes of footage while a team of video editors from the BBC worked around the clock to distill it down to a two hour special program that would be aired in two parts today.
And he wasn't the only reporter that would be uploading hours of video to their parent networks in a short while. Nearby nearly thirty additional large broadcast trucks owned by foreign networks were standing by, their satellite dishes already aimed and ready to begin transmitting. All in all it looked like something one would expect to see outside the stadium hosting the Soccer World Cup.
Harry had promised to Sir David that in the coming years he would open the Weyr to a more in-depth program, but he wanted to wait until they had more information to share with the world about the dragons. Harry was hoping the efforts to study and understand the dragons would pay off with enough information to make treating them easier and give more information to the public about dragons in general.
When Mildred O'Connor heard about the deal Harry had made she convinced him to offer a similar deal to an American network. Right now it was tenuous, but in principle the Weyr agreed to open their doors to a documentary crew from both the BBC and the American National Geographic Society. The deal had been brokered with the representatives on hand and still had to be approved by people higher up in their respective organizations, but everyone was confident it would be approved.
"Hello Skip, Kat, you both look well," Harry said to the pair. Kat blushed slightly and moved a little closer to Skip.
"Thank you Harry," Skip said with a broad smile. He looked down at his diminutive co-weyrleader and placed a hand on her shoulder. Clearly there had been some progress between the two of them on creating a working team and perhaps more. "We wouldn't have missed this for the world. Our dragons are practically dancing with excitement."
"Harry, the dignitaries are starting to arrive," Chekiath announced suddenly.
Harry nodded, he had expected them earlier, but they had been taken to a private screening of the videos elsewhere, then brought to the Weyr in a motorcade of limousines. This second group included nearly every Foreign Consul or Ambassador currently in the United Kingdom.
Harry saw the helicopter had finally stopped its blades. He muttered mostly to himself. "Shall we do this?" He stepped forward and one of the security detail slid open the door to the Helicopter. Skip and Kat fell into position just behind Harry. He stopped and waited while the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the President of the United States stepped from the machine. He knew that the families of both men were part of the motorcade now entering through the front gate.
John Major spotted Harry, then he saw the Condron Weyrleaders behind him. His smile broadened, he didn't know Condron would be showing up today, but in retrospect it made sense politically and diplomatically. By having them here Harry was honoring the Americans as one of their partners.
He suspected that Maziang would arrive in a bit, but knew their presence would be kept low key. The Weyrleader would announce the existence of a Weyr in Asia, but would not reveal in which country it resided.
Harry stepped forward and offered his hand to Major. As he did every dragon in Wing four and Condron dipped their heads. "Welcome to Campbeltown Weyr. We are honored you could join us today. As our dragons say, may you find peace and shelter under our wings."
Major smiled and shook Harry's hand, then Harry turned and offered the same greeting to President Clinton. Harry signaled to Skip and Kat and they approached. He quietly introduced them to Major and Clinton. The US President's face broke into a huge smile when he realized that Harry had invited the American Weyrleaders to today's event.
"I greatly hope to be able to visit the Weyr in the future," Clinton said.
"We would be honored Mr. President and the dragons would be thrilled to meet with you sir," Kat replied. Even though she was an American witch, the American magical society was more closely tied to the muggle society unlike what had existed for the British until recently.
Skip nodded mutely and Harry had to fight off a smile. Kat may be the more passive of the pair of Weyrleaders, but Skip was clearly shocked into silence by meeting the President.
"Her Majesty is expected to arrive in about thirty minutes," Harry said. "In the meantime with your permission I would like to introduce some of the riders from Condron and Campbeltown. Once the Queen arrives we'll have a private luncheon before making the press statement."
"Then by all means let us proceed," Major said.
Overhead another group of dragons appeared. Harry glanced up and then checked his watch. He smiled. Lobsang arrived with Maziang Wing one.
"From the look on your face I'd say that wing is probably from our Tibetan friends?" Major asked softly.
Harry glanced over to see Skip and Kat introducing Clinton to the Condron riders and their dragons. Satisfied that they would be fine, he turned back to Major. "Yes sir, this day isn't just about Campbeltown, it's about all of the dragons around the world. The Weyrs are here for them. We will admit that there is an Asian weyr, but never reveal it's location. Its possible that Maziang will remain a secret for years to come. It wouldn't be the only place that is highly protected and exists in secrecy in that country."
Major blinked and turned to stare at Harry. "You don't mean..."
"Shangri La is very real sir and so well protected not even the Chinese military can't find it. It and Maziang are probably the last little islands of freedom in Tibet," Harry replied.
"Harry, Ronan wants you to know that Maziang is joining the Wings at Hangar three," Chekiath announced.
"Thank you Cheki," he replied, then he led Major over to where Lee stood with Soranth. "Prime Minister Major, may I introduce you to Wing Leader Lee Jordan. He has made a lot of use of your office of public affairs. Lee now heads up our Public Affairs office."
Major nodded, he had been briefed on all of the riders and like most politicians, had a knack for remembering just enough detail to impress people. "Yes I recall seeing you in and out of the office on several occasions but we have never been formally introduced. I understand you were badly injured not too long ago, are you well now?"
Lee flashed a brilliant smile. "I'm much better now. Doctor Sheppard took really good care of me. Thank you for asking sir."
"Lee is our resident artist and the inventor of the Jordan wands that are now making their way into your auror corps. You've seen some of his artwork. In fact, the cover for the press kit is his design," Harry offered.
Major's eyes lit up and he smiled. "You have an excellent eye then. I saw the designs when my staff was picking out the artwork. If you did those, then you should know our office graphic designer was jealous of the work."
Lee smiled broadly, "Thank you sir."
Harry nodded to Lee and motioned for him to lead.
Yesterday he had taken Lee aside and told him that he expected Lee to introduce his Wing to the Prime Minister. Once Lee got over his shock he reluctantly agreed. Now Lee led the Prime Minister over to introduce Abbey while Harry trailed behind and carefully listened to the chatter on among the dragons. There were dragons watching the Weyr, on airborne patrol, others sitting on top of the hangars or keeping an eye on the main gate. All of the dragons knew he was listening in on their conversations even if he didn't join in.
"Weyrleader, Hermione wants to know how you're holding up," Comaloth said unexpectedly.
He smiled, May and Hermione had turned out to be the brightest spots in his life behind Chekiath. Hermione was more of a worrier than May was. She'd worry about him and occasionally nag him to make sure he was taking care of himself. May was diametrically opposite, she'd poke fun and tease him as a way of lightening his mood. They were opposites in other ways, but together they sometimes reminded him of the Patil twins from Hogwarts, similar and loving to each other as sisters, but very much different people.
He was deeply grateful that they had managed to develop a close relationship. He was certain that without it, their trio would have fallen apart.
May was more spontaneous and Hermione was more considered. Where May would deliberately tease him in their large tub even in front of Hermione. Hermione wouldn't dream of doing anything like that unless she was alone with Harry. May would flirt and Hermione would cuddle. If pressed Harry would not be able to say what he enjoyed more.
In short the two girls balanced each other in all ways except for their mutual devotion to Harry, which they shared equally.
"I'm holding up fine Comaloth. I don't think my nerves have really started to act up yet. I mean not to long from now I'm going to be asked to speak in front of the whole world," Harry said mentally.
"May says that if you do a good job you just might earn a special treat tonight," Trath added.
Harry blinked, that was so like her. May was in front of Hangar three with Wing One dealing with the Orkney families and the diplomats and she still found time to tease him.
"Hermione says I'm to remind May that tonight is her turn and every time its her turn it is a special treat," Comaloth said, then she paused for a moment. "I am unsure who the treat is for because right now she's turning very red and thinking very naughty thoughts."
Harry shook his head. "Thank you ladies, but right now I better catch up with Lee," Harry said as a way of escaping what could have been a very awkward conversation.
"May told me to tell you one word. Tomorrow," Trath said.
"What about tomorrow?" asked Chekiath.
"Yes yes I get the idea, now hush for a bit, I have to deal with the Lord Holder," Harry sent hurriedly.
"While Harry is helping the lord holder, what about tomorrow?" asked Chekiath.
Harry coughed and tried to cover up the blush that was slowly creeping up his neck. Lee glanced at him inquisitively then turned back to introducing Prime Minister Major to one of his riders.
By the time Lee and the Condron Weyrleaders were done, Chekiath informed Harry that the Queen's motorcade had just passed through the main gate. He told Chekiath to tell Ronan to gather up the princes and meet him at the Kitchen Hall. He also sent a request that Weyrleaders, the Grangers, Sirius, Remus, Lord Mills and Sir Robert meet there. As much as he wanted to include Hermione and May, he needed them attending to their visitors. He knew that they would be listening to every word said via Chekiath.
Harry and his group had arrived while the Queen and her party were disembarking in front of the Administration building. The two security groups merged seamlessly as Harry stepped forward and bowed. "Your Majesty, welcome to Campbeltown Weyr."
Chekiath stood just behind Harry. He dipped his head once and repeated his own welcome. "Welcome to Campbeltown Weyr, may you find peace and shelter under our wings."
The Queen smiled brightly. She had been looking forward to this day for a while. The Prime Minister's office had been sending her information about the events of the last month and she had the entire family briefed about dragons and magic only a few weeks ago.
"Thank you for your most gracious welcome Weyrleader. We are very happy to lend our support for this undertaking. You and your dragons have done much to earn the gratitude of our people," replied the Queen.
Harry blushed and her smile brightened even further. It warmed her to see that he was still somewhat uncomfortable in his role. One of the dangers that all leaders face was letting the job go to his head. She was pleased to see that someone was keeping him firmly planted.
The Queen glanced around the Weyr. From her vantage point she could see three distinct crowds of people, the press, the diplomats and the families of the Orkney crew. She turned back to Harry and Cheki. "It is good thing to have the Orkney families here Weyrleader. For the survivors we have been told that many remember only snippets of the events once they went into the water. Bringing them here allows many to fill in those gaps."
"We think that kind of help is something we can do often Lady Holder," Chekiath replied. "It is nice to know the hot rocks are important and will help people. But we were meant for more. The Pern humans created us to save their world. Now Harry and the riders give us a chance to save humans here."
Harry glanced up at Chekiath fondly, then he turned back to the Queen. "My Weyrhealer has been clamoring for us to contact someone in the Red Cross. We are certain that we can respond to a disaster quicker than anyone else."
The Queen looked surprised, then she nodded. "A very noble ideal indeed. My Prime Minister mentioned that our Coast Guard is interested in working with the Weyr and I know the Navy is most impressed. Our First Sea Lord sang your praises for your recent action. He also made a very strong case for awarding a Conspicuous Gallantry Medal to the dragon that saved the helicopter crew."
Harry nodded and looked a bit uncomfortable, "That might need to wait a bit Ma'am. Cetath was injured recovering the helicopter and has developed a serious infection. I am told by our Weyrhealer that they now believe he is fighting off the infection. For a while the whole Weyr was worried we might lose him. Cetath was the first dragon we have tried to apply modern surgical techniques to, his loss would have been a severe blow to the Weyr."
The Queen shot an aide a surprised look, apparently no one had explained Cetath's injuries to her. She turned back to Harry. "We will visit with your injured dragon then," she announced suddenly. Around her nearly a dozen security people grimaced with her announcement.
In very short order Harry found himself hustled into the Queen's car for the short trip to the Dragon Infirmary. As they rode he frantically sent a message to May to drop whatever she was doing and get to the infirmary double quick.
He wasn't surprised to find May, flushed and breathing heavily in the infirmary when they arrived. He held up a hand and she relaxed slightly, then the Queen entered the room and she understood what was happening. This was not part of the planned activities for the day, but the Queen had made a decision.
"Your Majesty," Harry said softly, "You remember Miss May McNulty, one of our Weyrhealers."
The Queen smiled reassuringly at May, then she glanced shrewdly at Harry. She might not have been briefed about Cetath, but she certainly knew about the Weyrleader's relationships. "Yes we remember and have heard only good things about her. Would you care to show us your patients Miss McNulty?"
May bobbed a quick curtsy, then turned and walked over to a nearby stall. "This is Krath from Weyr number thirty. Krath came to us with an eye infection that is responding well to daily eye washes to sooth his eye and a general antibiotic."
"Weyr thirty?" echoed the Prince consort.
Harry turned to the Duke of Edinburgh, "Cheeseman Island off the north east coast of New Zealand. Our healers handle cases from around the world. Hagrid, our other Weyrhealer, is right now out making his rounds. We try to heal what we can at the Weyrs, but some of the harder cases are brought here for extended treatment.
"I had to order Hagrid out on his rounds for today. Considering we cannot reveal the existence of magic it was felt that people might suspect something if they saw him. At nine feet tall he is hard to miss."
The Duke nodded with a grin. "Quite so."
The Queen nodded and smiled at the dragon who watched the little group pass by.
May stopped at the next stall and turned to the Queen. "Cetath is recovering from an injury and infection. When the helicopter crashed in the channel he grabbed it from the sea and brought it to the Illustrious. Unfortunately a large piece of helicopter blade sliced into his right front paw and I was forced to attempt to suture the wound on the deck of the ship. We had to remove a piece of metal nearly three feet long from the injury, then suture it up before he could be transported back to the Weyr. The injury developed a severe abscess which we cleaned and drained. It took a bit to find an antibiotic which he responded to.
"Today is the first time in days that his temperature is nearly normal. We are hopeful that it signifies the infection is finally going away," May said.
The Queen stepped closer to the dragon who was curled up in his sand bed. Harry could tell just by the yellow and black streaks in is eyes that the dragon was still in some distress. "Cetath, this is the Lady Holder," he said softly.
"Welcome to our Weyr Lady Holder, you honor us with your visit," Cetath replied. As he looked up, streaks of green could be seen in his eyes, replacing the yellow and black.
"How could we not visit Cetath, by your actions two of our pilots will live. You showed much bravery and we thank you deeply for your efforts," replied the Queen with a warm smile.
"Do the colors in the eyes mean anything?" the Duke asked quietly. The Queen continued to converse with Cetath and Harry turned his attention to the man next to him.
"A single color tends to indicate a single emotion. Green for example can indicate everything from extreme happiness to mild contentment based on the amount of green appearing," Harry replied softly. "Combinations of colors are harder to interpret. Cetath's eyes were lightly streaked with yellow and black when we first arrived, indicating the dragon was in some distress. Could he be in pain? Perhaps but May and her helpers usually are very good about that so I don't think he's in pain, another reason could be he was just unhappy because he couldn't participate in today's events. All of the dragons were excited about today and I know he wanted to be there. Whatever the exact reason, the Queen's visit has given him a boost."
The Queen reached out and gently pat Cetath on his neck, then she straightened out and turned around. Something caught her eye and she pointed to the large stall where Lornth lay with his wings connected to the framework.
May scurried behind the Queen who walked over to the stall. She paused and looked at the large display being projected against the wall. "Shakespeare," she whispered in delight, then she took a closer look at Lornth frowning at his braces.
"The dragon readers are connected to a steadily growing library that we keep on the Weyr file server," Harry offered. "We don't have many of them yet, but since we knew Lornth would have a protracted stay in the infirmary we set one up for him."
Harry stepped closer to Lornth who watched Harry with some amusement. "Ma'am, may I introduce Lornth. He was badly injured in the attack on the Hogsmeade school. The terrorists used a device normally meant to kill a Nundu, one of the most dangerous magical animals in existence. Lornth was caught by the weapon and he broke many bones in his wings. We are hopeful that he'll be able to fly again."
"Other than the itch, it is not too bad, it no longer hurts," Lornth said. "May and the other Weyrhealers have been a big help and they say that maybe next week they will be able to remove some of the metal. Welcome to our Weyr Lady Holder."
May stepped forward and smiled at the large dragon. "Lornth broke seven major bones in his left wing and six in his right. Initially we brought in a large x-ray machine and after taking over forty images per wing we were able to put together a good idea of the damage. With the help of my father, who designed the pulley system and the framework we immobilized the wings. Three times a day we remove the locks at the joints and carefully move the wings to exercise the joints. Since the joints were undamaged we don't want him to lose that mobility.
"Next week we're going to bring the x-ray machine back in to check his progress. We hope we'll be able to begin dismantling the traction frame soon. After that he'll require months of exercise but I'm confident he'll fly again."
"A delegation of teachers, parents and children from Hogsmeade are scheduled to come visit him on Saturday. The children are very eager to see their dragons," Harry offered.
The Queen smiled at the idea. She had seen the way the children from the families of the Orkney survivors were swarming over the dragons. It was a powerful image to see a fifty foot long dragon gently letting three small children sit on her back.
She looked up again at the metal framework. "So much hurt for us," the Queen mused softly. She glanced around and saw there was only one other filled stall and that dragon appeared to be sleeping.
"With respect Ma'am, but not all of it has been just for your subjects. Your nation has done so much for us. I prefer to think we've been helping each other," Harry said.
She glanced over at him and nodded, then she looked at her Duke. It was clear she was telling him something even if no words were being said. He nodded and she turned back to May. "My dear, the one thing I think I should learn by now is that there is nothing a dragon, or their riders can't do when they set their minds to it. I am very impressed with what you have managed to accomplish here."
She turned back to Harry. "And now Weyrleader, let us join my Prime Minister, we have a luncheon still before we introduce our friends to the world."
Harry bowed slightly and he shot May an approving look, then he followed the Queen from the building.
May sighed deeply and leaned against the wall. With a trembling hand she wiped at her brow.
"She likes you," Lornth said.
May looked over at Lornth. "I'm sorry?"
"The Lady Holder, she likes you. You surprised her and now she thinks you are a worthy consort to the Weyrleader. Chekiath thinks she was worried that the Weyrleader would chose mates that would not help him be a good leader. I don't know if Chekiath is right, but she was much relieved when she left here," Lornth said.
"Then the Lady Holder has good taste," Trath said suddenly.
"I liked May first," Chekiath added, "but maybe it was because Harry liked her so much. Between May and Hermione I never could tell which one he'd liked best in those bathing suits at Disko Island. Both were the same I think. I know he thought of them often."
"That will be enough from you guys," she muttered.
She recalled the time after Harry had been injured saving Michelle, and the witches of the group transfigured bikinis for the girls. It had been the skimpiest bikini that she had ever worn, but she didn't want to hurt Luna's feelings by complaining about it.
She smiled to herself and made a mental note to tell Hermione what Cheki had said. Hermione often transfigured their clothing so they could join Harry in the tub, but she used a much more modest style bikini. It might be amusing for them both to join Harry sometime wearing something a little more daring since Luna's bikinis obviously made such an impression.
In the Kitchen Hall the Queen sat down to a surprisingly well cooked lunch. The kitchen staff for the day were on loan from the Army base next door, but the cooks in the back were two house elves who had been trained to make exquisite meals.
Harry ate uneasily, he knew the clock was ticking down to a moment he was dreading. He tried to pay attention to the conversation between the Prime Minister and Lobsang. Major was grilling Lobsang about Shangri La and despite his discomfort at talking to such an important man he was answering the questions without hesitation. Like Harry, Lobsang had been altered by his impression. As he glanced around the table he suddenly understood, they all had been altered.
"I realize this will be your first time in front of a television camera, but you shouldn't let it worry you," the Duke said from across the table.
Harry looked up in surprise then he grinned ruefully. "Does it really show?"
"Oh heavens yes, but really we all had the jitters that first time," replied the Duke. "I understand you have an edge none of us have. You can call upon your dragon to help keep you calm."
Harry nodded thoughtfully, in truth his bond had been especially strong all day. Even with Cheki on the roof and Comaloth over at hangar two, he felt the dragons as if they were in the room.
A door opened and the Prince of Wales entered, having extracted his sons from the James Bond marathon that the Elves were watching. Both boys saw their grandmother and they instantly settled down and greeted her, then they joined everyone at the table.
The Queen lifted one elegant eyebrow at their flights suits.
"The Princes have been a huge help in the past few days. They've learned how to properly fly on a dragon and how to care for one. Prince William has reviewed some of the dragon memories from Britain and found some interesting discrepancies that will need to be looked at. Prince Harry spent several hours with some of the army technicians working on our network."
The Queen nodded approvingly and gave each grandson an austere smile. She was glad to see that the boys had enjoyed their stay and had learned about their new dragon friends. Such knowledge would do them well. It would be their generation that had to adjust to sharing the world with dragons.
Harry heard something and he turned to look at the TV that was mounted in the corner of the room. Right now it was playing the private BBC feed from Campbeltown down to London where the show would receive its final edit for broadcast. The screen showed Sir David Attenborough speaking with Remus and Sir Robert.
Harry swallowed nervously and stared.
"It's not all that hard to understand David," Remus said. "The dragons were locked within their own minds, unable to communicate with each other or even reason. Harry stumbled upon Chekiath's egg hatching at a critical time in the hatching process. His impression of Chekiath triggered... well for want of a better description, a telepathic shock wave that broke the dragons free from their prison."
Underneath Remus a sign flashed naming him and listing his title as Weyr Historian.
"Harry's connection to the dragons is unique among all the riders. He can speak to any dragon on the planet which is why they follow him. Other people have turned out to be sensitive enough to the dragons to impress one dragon, but thus far only Harry can speak to them all. Because of that ability, and because of their gratitude for releasing them from the confinement of their own minds, the dragons conferred on Harry the title of Weyrleader for all dragons. In a way he is like a king."
Harry groaned and buried his face in his hands. He looked up a moment later and pierced Remus with a glare. "Please tell me you didn't call me that!"
Remus smiled in reply. "I'm sorry Harry, but the analogy is appropriate. I know Condron and Maziang have their own leaders. But if you called for help every dragon in the world would respond, even the bonded dragons from the other Weyrs."
Kat placed her drink down and looked at Harry. "I know it makes you uncomfortable Harry, but it really is best this way. We run the Weyr and do the things you would do if you were there. The dragons listen to us, but the more I thought about it the more I understood that someone needed to set a policy for all Weyrs to follow or there would be chaos."
"It's not that bad Harry," Sirius offered.
Harry sighed and shook his head. It was too late to do anything about it. "I just don't want anyone thinking I want that kind of power," he said. "The press could blow that all out of proportion."
"They could and most likely will," replied the Queen, then she smiled to soften the sharpness of her tone. "But you have a press office that is supposed to work to mitigate the wild imaginings of the press. Weyrleader is an unfamiliar term to the world so the press might very well run with that analogy. How your press office deals with it will result in how history remembers you Weyrleader."
The Queen leaned a littler closer to the table and looked directly at Remus. "Let this be lesson then, most of you have never spoken to the press. They can take a small word misspoken and turn it into a major scandal. You must be very much aware of what you say when speaking to the press, as much as you might like to think so, they are not your friend."
The Queen looked at her consort and in a very uncharacteristic gesture, she laid her hand on top of his. "We know that the public sees the Royal family and myself sometimes as cold and aloof. But when there are no cameras around we are just people like everyone else. It is a defense mechanism because it is better to appear aloof and restrained than to say anything that might be used against us."
The Queen had been looking directly at Remus who nodded fervently. He recognized a rebuke, even if it was a gentle one.
The Queen recognized that Remus got the message loud and clear, so she leaned back a bit, satisfied. "We hear you have been participating in a medical experiment along with others with your condition Mr. Lupin, how fairs that research?"
"Very positive your Majesty," he said in surprise. "I have not undergone a change in almost a year. The Americans want me to continue using the suppression potion for at least two more years, and I'll need to be tested for the virus every six months, but I am pleased to say that my last test came back virus free."
"Harry is pushing for using the Weyr to bring in all of the Weres in Britain for treatment. Unfortunately the drugs are not available for general use yet. More clinical trials are still needed."
Harry smirked slightly and the Queen turned to him with an arched eyebrow. "My honorary uncles were confirmed bachelors until they came to the Weyr. In Remus' case he felt his illness prevented him from enjoying the fullness of life. Now that stumbling block is gone and he finds himself flying in unknown skies as an engaged man."
The Queen smiled broadly. "Then you have our heartfelt best wishes Mr. Lupin. We find it to be a great comfort."
The Queen turned to Sirius who was busy smirking at Remus. "And what of you Mr. Black? We hear you've been seeing the daughter of one of our brigadiers."
Sirius looked up with a hunted rabbit expression and both Remus and Harry started laughing. Katherine placed a hand on his and leaned forward so she could see the Queen. "He is taking his time your Majesty, but I have no doubt he'll come to his senses soon."
Sirius blinked rapidly and stared at Katherine for a moment, then he slowly nodded. He mumbled something only she could hear and she shook her head. "You know that isn't true Siri," she said softly, "but we'll talk of this later."
The Queen leaned back in her chair pleased with herself before turning back to Harry. He blinked under her gaze and knew what was coming.
"My Prime Minister has explained to me about your unusual situation Weyrleader. Normally such a thing would be unthinkable, but given the circumstances we can see how such a thing might happen. Frankly we were very unsure of the propriety of the situation."
Harry nodded. "Ma'am I have to admit to finding strange. It wasn't anything that was planned. It took many hours of conversations between all six of us to find our way."
"Six?" pressed the Queen.
Harry smiled. "Your Majesty even those riders who are in a more traditional human couple relationship are actually four people, two human and two dragon. So there are six of us and surprisingly it works. What we are coming to discover is that the dominant dragon in the relationship is one of the driving forces behind the end product. In a way I am relieved my dragon could have taken many consorts based on his size and status in the Weyr."
"That wouldn't have been fair to the other riders," Chekiath said, joining the conversation. "But I knew you liked Hermione and May equally."
Harry shook his head and smiled weakly, there was quite a lot of truth in Chekiath's words. He just wished that his dragon wouldn't jump into conversations at random.
The Queen nodded thoughtfully, she hadn't thought to count the dragons, but the dragon bonding would insure the dragons would participate at least on a social level with everyone in the relationship.
"We didn't realize the dragons had that much influence," she said softly.
Harry put down his fork and turned to her. "It is not a compulsion. None of us were forced against our will your Majesty. In the end it was the understanding that our dragons would not ask us to do something they knew we couldn't do. The dragons know their riders at a level that exceeds any form of human intimacy. Once we understood that, we were able to see how things could work with all of us."
The Queen nodded, she had been within inches of lecturing Harry on his relationship when he brought up the fact that the dragons were equal partners. That put a complete halt to her personal outrage, she realized that the dragons introduced new requirements and it wasn't fair to expect them to conform to human morality.
"Well if your Miss Granger is anything like Miss McNulty, she'll be a very valuable asset to you," the Queen replied. Down the table Dan Granger bristled and only Emma stomping on his foot kept him silent.
"Chekiath?" the Queen said in a loud tone.
"Lady Holder? Do you need something?"
"Tell me, did the Riders of Pern have such relationships?"
"No they didn't. In fact with few exceptions, the Pern riders rarely formed couples. We have changed since Pern. Over the years it became normal, even in the time of beast for larger dragons to have multiple consorts. I am The Weyrleader's dragon and the largest in the world. Spath knew I could have many consorts but he urged me to not overburden my rider. Comaloth and Trath are the best females with the best riders and will give me strong hatchlings."
The Queen nodded thoughtfully.
"As near as we can determine Ma'am," Remus offered. "The Pern Weyrs had large groups of men and women that intermingled at whim. We think that the rest of the colony had more traditional pairings, but the Weyrs had unique circumstances, dictated by the dragon's make up. What we have now is a hybrid of that. There are some couples, and some triples, and a few that can't seem to find someone suitable yet. I believe it is something that the Weyr will be experimenting with for years to come until they settle into something suitable for everyone."
Remus waved his hand, taking in the room and everyone around him. All of the conversations had stopped to listen to this particular conversation. "I know Harry, May and Hermione had many many conversations trying to understand what was happening, and even more once they realized what was going on. None of them expected to be in such a relationship and all of them were initially against the idea. I also know that all three were initially against the idea."
He smiled at Harry. "Once they accepted it, Harry even asked us if multiple marriages were acceptable in the wizarding world because he wanted that level of commitment to his ladies. It is a problem that the Weyr is struggling with. I imagine this issue won't go away soon or easily and could haunt the Weyr for years to come. The riders know not to discuss this with anyone outside the Weyr. And they know most governments won't recognize a multiple marriage. But it is an issue that no one is happy with. Harry, like the others want to publicly acknowledge what they have."
Harry nodded fervently. Now that he was committed to May and Hermione, he really wanted to express that commitment openly.
"I had an old engineering instructor once that told me when you're confronted with something that isn't in the book, it's time to write a new book," said Prince Charles, then he turned to his sons. "Boys, I know you admire the Weyrleader, but it isn't acceptable for you to have more than one girlfriend at a time."
William laughed nervously while Prince Harry blushed and looked down at the table. Most of the adults laughed at that and the meal started up again.
An hour later Harry followed the others as they climbed the steps onto a large stage that had been set up in front of hangar two. Facing the stage were hundreds of reporters and the entire diplomatic corp assigned to Britain. Harry felt more than a little intimidated and awed by the fact that he sat, next to the Queen on one side, and the Secretary General of the United Nations on the other side.
While a section had been reserved the riders, none of them were present as yet. They would arrive at the appropriate time.
"Relax Harry, it's not as bad as you might think. Just concentrate on what you need to say," the Queen advised in a low tone. A large screen showed the stage and Harry could see himself, watching himself on television. In his belly a cold lump of lead formed. Soon he would be asked to speak and knew that these cameras were sending his image around the world.
"Harry, May and Hermione both want you to know they love you and think you look great. I know you'll do well talking to the world. How can they not be impressed, after all, you're my rider," Chekiath said privately.
A man wearing headphones looked around carefully, then he turned towards the stage. "Thirty seconds Prime Minister," he said.
He moved to the side of the stage and a mobile teleprompter was moved into position in front of the podium. The Prime Minister stood behind the podium and watched the director silently count down the last five seconds on his fingers.
Prime Minister Major smiled broadly. "Good afternoon. I apologize for interrupting your normal afternoon television schedule, but I stand here today with Her Highness, the President of the United States and the Secretary General of the United Nations to reveal a secret that has been kept from the world for the past year, and kept from mankind far longer than that.
"I am reliably informed that our civilization owes its existence to certain key inventions that reshaped our world. The printing press signaled the end of the dark ages, the steam engine ushered in the industrial age, the telephone allowed news to circulate the globe in hours instead of weeks. The transistor brought about a revolution in miniature electronics and connected the world like never before. Today we are going to introduce you to something that will have the same profound impact, not just here in the United Kingdom, but world wide."
"Back at the end of March one of our Royal Navy ships suffered an accident at sea. Severe weather conditions made it impossible for us to rescue the crew and the ship was sinking. The next day we reported that most of the crew was safe and the ship appeared inexplicably in a farmer's field on Shetland Island as if by some miracle.
"At that time I was unable to tell you what I can tell you today. Today I intend to introduce you to the reason behind that miracle. The age old question of 'Are we alone in the universe' has been answered. And I am very pleased that they can call a small piece of Scotland home."
On cue from the director the cameras on the towers pointed skyward just as the entire Weyr appeared from Between. Counting Condron and Maziang, over six hundred dragons and more than one hundred and fifty riders. The crowd gasped, these dragons wanted to be seen and photographed.
Absolute silence descended on the crowd as the wings glided silently over head. The Weyr made a single pass, then peeled out of formation with a precision that would make a drill sergeant weep with envy. Chekiath stayed aloft with Spath. The two huge Horntails would be joining everyone on the stage. It had been built especially large for just that purpose.
Spath and Chekiath landed behind the stage and walked up the ramp until they were lined up with the other dignitaries
"Many thousands of years ago, an unknown race of intelligent beings created a race of intelligent dragons to help them fight a planet wide disaster. For many thousands of years these dragons lived to help their partners. Then in a fluke, an accident, one dragon who was heavy with eggs came to our world using her ability to teleport from one place to another.
"It was a mistake, a terrible error on her part and a symbiotic species suddenly found itself cut off, trying to survive without their partners. The dragons nearly died out before they learned to survive, but survive they did; and as they survived they changed, adapting to our world and it's different environment. They weren't meant to live without a partner species and they suffered terribly because of that. Slowly they lost their ability to communicate until they found themselves locked in their own minds, unable to talk to each other or even reason.
"We believe the dragons have arrived on Earth at a time when Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens both existed. They saw humans thriving around them but were unable to communicate their needs. And our primitive ancestors, terrified by their strange appearance forced the dragons into hiding from us. Dragons are a part of every mythology in every culture and have been so since the dawn of recorded history. Despite their abilities to hide from us, sometimes they were seen and sometimes people did interact with them. Without even understanding it, dragons became a part of our mythology and history.
"All that changed forever over a year ago when a very special young boy happened to stumble onto a dragon who had just hatched from his egg. In that moment of meeting, human and dragon, the old symbiotic link surged back to life and suddenly around the world, dragons remembered who they were and what they were meant to do.
"Something in humans had changed so that a tiny percentage of people can impress a dragon, that is, create a telepathic bond with a newly hatched dragon, forming a life long relationship. A tiny percentage of humans have this ability, but since there are so many people, it gives the dragons a real chance to regain their role as a partner race.
"Since that time more dragons have bonded with humans, helping to give back to a noble intelligent race something they had lost. Dragons are telepathic and cannot speak as we humans do, but they can easily communicate with each other and people."
Harry glanced down at the crowd and smiled at Hermione and May who were sitting in the front row. Normally the girls dress uniforms included slacks, but for today they had replaced the slacks with a knee length skirt that Harry found quite fetching.
Both girls gave each other a wry glance before smiling up at Harry. Content that his ladies were happy he glanced over at Chekiath. Chekiath turned and look at him, his eyes a twirling mix of green and blue. His bond suddenly widened and he could feel every dragon, every rider. For an instant, only a handful of seconds, his tight control on his bond slipped from his control. A vision flashed through his mind of the skies of Earth filled with dragons and riders being welcome everywhere. It only lasted a moment, then it was gone. He blinked and looked down, when he glanced up again, every rider was staring at him as if they had shared his vision. Harry frowned, the moment had lasted less than five seconds and had been so full of images he couldn't isolate them all.
"They did see it Weyrleader," Spath said privately.
"It was very powerful Harry every dragon and rider saw that vision," added Chekiath.
"What happened? Why did it do that?" he replied silently.
Chekiath rumbled softly. "For a week now our excitement has been building. We have looked forward to this day since you first promised to bring us riders and give us purpose in our lives again. You have been feeling that excitement all week and holding back your own excitement. Your control is exceptional my rider, but for a brief second it slipped and you shared your deepest wish with all of the riders and the dragons world wide. Look at May and Hermione who saw what you saw, and more."
He glanced over to Hermione and then May, both were sitting with stunned looks.
"They saw families Weyrleader, it was only a brief look of a few seconds, but even I saw the sun colored hair of a little girl and a brown haired little boy," added Spath. "Your mates saw your hopes for our future and saw it included them."
"I know you worry for the future my rider, but we are strong. You have made us so. Let us worry less about the future for today," Chekiath offered.
"Your dragon speaks well Weyrleader. It is good that you plan for the future, but do not forget to live the day," Spath said.
Harry smiled. "Thank you my friends. I will remember that," he replied and turned his attention back to Prime Minister Major.
Down in the audience May glanced over at a stunned Hermione. "My god," Hermione whispered, then she shivered slightly.
"No don't call him that, we don't want him to get a big head," May said with a slight chuckle. "How about, 'our Harry and ours alone'?"
Hermione smiled and glanced up at Harry on the stage. "Yes, that will do nicely."
"And so we come to late March and a severe storm in the North Sea and the Orkney. Ordinarily storms do not affect our naval vessels, but the Orkney had suffered an engine breakdown making her uncontrollable in the violent seas. I can't tell you how helpless I felt when the First Sea Lord told me that they couldn't send helicopters out to rescue the crew. Thirty five lives were on the line and we were powerless to do anything but wait and pray.
"In desperation I asked the Weyrleader if the dragons can help. They have many abilities which currently defy our science, and one of those is that a rider only feels a gentle breeze when on the back of his dragon. The high winds would not have affected them like they would our machines.
"The Weyr leapt at the chance to prove themselves. The Weyrleader had repeatedly pressed the idea home that the dragons truly want to be our partners, but I never really understood until that day. Once asked, they eagerly stepped forward. The Weyrleader sent out hundreds of dragons to search for the ship and once they found it, the riders went Between and rescued every person they could find.
"The Orkney itself was sinking when the dragons found her. The Weyrleader had instructed the dragons to put her someplace safe and frankly we didn't believe the dragons would be capable of moving the ship, so no provisions were made to deal with the damaged ship. As a result the ship was moved by the dragons to a place where it could never sink. That is how the Orkney arrived in that field, the Weyrleader told his dragons to move it somewhere safe and they did."
Major paused and smiled broadly. "In a way you could make a case that aliens moved the ship like some people have suggested, but I would not say that. A long long time ago the dragons might have been aliens, but today, now thousands of generations later, they are as native to this world as any of us."
He gestured towards the sectioned off area where the Orkney families sat. It was right next to the section with the riders. "There is the proof of their benevolence. The proof of their desire to work with us for a better world. These are the survivors and their families from that fateful ship, plucked from a sea intent on killing them and brought to safety. Since that night, the dragons have proven themselves again by saving another Royal Navy crew, this time a helicopter that had crashed while on maneuvers. The dragon that saved the crew was himself badly injured and is still recovering from his injury."
Somewhere in the back of the crowd of diplomats a surge of applause grew to a roar. That dragons can help save lives and property was a very welcome concept to them. The Riders picked up on the applause adding their own. The Orkney families looked a little bewildered by the response and Harry almost felt sorry for them. As far as they were concerned, they had been blessed because the dragons saved their loved ones, they didn't realize that people were responding to them as an example.
When the cheering died down Prime Minister Major turned slightly so he could look at Harry better. "Weyrleader, our lives changed forever when you brought dragons into our lives. I know I can speak for myself and Her Majesty when I say the United Kingdom is deeply grateful for the lives of our seamen and for HMS Orkney. We look forward to a future that includes dragons and their riders as partners to our society."
Harry stood and gave a bow to the Prime Minister. Nearby Chekiath bugled loudly and instantly the call was taken up by the other dragons. The cameras in the towers swung around as if the operators were unsure what they should film, but it was the section that contained the Orkney families that finally captured their attention. They were on their feet, clapping and shouting, they were cheering for the people who had saved their families.
The director signaled and the cameras switched off. This was a planned break in the press conference to allow the press organizations to present short pieces about the dragons that had been put together over the past three days by the local crews.
Harry stretched, the afternoon wasn't over, but he knew from talking to Sir David that there would be a thirty minute lull. People started to mill about while Harry walked over to Chekiath. A number of monitors placed around the stage showed various reporters interviewing people and dragons.
"It is going well isn't it?" asked Chekiath.
Harry smiled and reached out to caress his muzzle. "I think so Cheki."
A flashbulb flared and Harry looked around, then he spotted a photographer who shot him a thumbs up. The man backed away and went in search of another photo. Harry turned his attention back to Cheki not knowing that the photo of him and Chekiath would become Time's Cover Photograph of the Year.
Harry returned to his seat. The Queen glanced at him and smiled. She leaned closer to him. "Harry, if I may, I know this is uncomfortable for you, but in a few hours it will be all over and little more than a memory. Look out there, what do you see?"
He followed her finger, it pointed directly at his riders. "I see my riders Ma'am," he said questioningly.
"That's right, your riders and your dragons," she replied, emphasizing the 'your'. "Despite today being your birthday, today is about them. Today is the start of a promise you made when you first impressed. This is their day. As much as we might find it distasteful, sometimes we do things because we do them for our people."
She leaned a little closer and gave him a warm smile. "We will let you know a little secret. We hate war with a passion. We dislike visiting hospitals with our war wounded and hate attending funerals of those who died for us. But we do it anyway, for them because they have suffered for our nation. A little temporary discomfort on our part is the least we can do and that is what you need focus on. Today is their day."
Harry looked down at his riders, most had their attention glued to one of the many monitors showing some of the interviews. Behind them the diplomatic corps milled around talking to themselves. He spotted Albert Ford who was in deep conversation with several people at the same time. Ford suddenly looked up and nodded to Harry. He was in his element and enjoying every second of it.
Beyond the diplomats sat the assembled dragons of Campbeltown plus a wing from Maziang and Condron. Over six hundred dragons who watched everything intently, their eyes twirling with excitement. And through those dragons, all dragon-kind watched the events of today unfolding.
It had taken over fifty thousand years to reunite dragons and humans, and the dragons knew that they owed it all to one man, Harry Potter.
It is about them, Harry thought. Today opens up a whole new world for the dragons and it is up to us riders to insure that the dragons don't get overwhelmed. Pern was a simple place compared to our world. It falls to us riders to protect our dragons.
He turned back to the Queen who had been watching him intently as he looked about. He wasn't even aware that during that brief look he had straightened in his seat and squared his shoulders. "Ma'am, thank you," he said softly.
She reached over and pat one hand in a very grandmotherly gesture. "You would have realized it sooner or later. We just helped you see it now."
He smiled in gratitude and looked around, watching the ebb and flow of the crowd. The Orkney families for the most part stayed closely packed together and always when they were approached by some press, some riders would come closer to make sure they were being treated fairly.
May and Hermione were busy talking to their parents. Harry had snuck in May's family, listing them as attached Weyr personnel so that they could be here. Skip, Kat and Lobsang were in a group with Remus and Sirius. It had been quickly discovered that their white berets indicated a Weyrleader rank like Harry's and many people wanted to talk to them. Harry had warned Remus and Sirius to stay close to Lobsang and help if it looked like he was being hounded. So far however he was handling himself very well.
The monitors flipped images to show Sir David sitting in makeshift studio setting that was actually a mobile trailer. As he began to speak the audio was muted and the man directing the people on the stage rushed about signaling they were about to go live again.
Harry sat quietly while the President of the United States spoke. He revealed that the United States also had a Weyr, but didn't reveal it's location. His comments echoed that of Prime Minister Major with the exception that his comments were focused towards American interests.
The parade of dignitaries continued with the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Queen of England. It had been decided that she would introduce Harry and stand just behind him as he spoke.
When she finally beckoned him to the microphone he swallowed nervously and stood. Chekiath moved to follow Harry. As the pair reached the podium Harry's bond surged enormously and a serene calm descended upon him. It was as if all of the dragons were lending him the fortitude he need.
He smiled for the cameras and with one hand reached out. Chekiath moved his huge head closer and Harry gently stroked his dragon's eye ridges.
"Your Majesty," he started with a slight bow in her direction, "Mister Prime Minister, Mister President, honored guests and members of the press, may you find peace and shelter under our wings. We welcome you to Campbeltown Weyr."
Harry took a moment to pause and he smiled down at his riders who were watching him avidly.
"We are no longer alone," Harry said firmly. "Today I stand before you, speaking for a race of beings that have existed on this planet almost as long as we have. They learn, they love, they have humor and intelligence that is uniquely suited to their form. Perhaps they cannot operate machinery like we have, but until last year no one knew to design machines for a form such as theirs.
"In every regard they are people. People. That word has changed dramatically in the last year. It had to. The dragons were created by an intelligent race and are every bit as intelligent as any of us. My bonded dragon here is a gentle, loving being despite his ferocious appearance. His greatest wish is to be able to tell the world about himself in person. He can tell everyone here about himself, but he cannot speak to you though the medium of television and radio without the help of a special machine.
He frowned slightly and decided to bring up something that hadn't been planned in his original speech.
"Earlier today I overheard one reporter complaining that using our dragon writer was little more than proving dragons could be trained to perform tricks. It stopped me in my tracks and I asked the man if Steven Hawking was trained to perform tricks because the greatest mind this country has produced since Isaac Newton is limited to communicating by machine. Is he any less human because he cannot speak or write like we do?"
Harry paused as he let that little snippet sink in. He could see that among the diplomatic corps he had hit home rather hard with that comment. "Steven Hawking is a great person, and so is my dragon Chekiath. Both have a limitation that can be overcome with technology. Today the word 'person' changes to mean something beyond just human. It is a tiny change, but one that will echo down through the centuries. We now know we are not alone, and we have a partner race of people that want to help us stand tall and proud.
"Campbeltown Weyr has been granted limited autonomy by our great host nation and we are very grateful for that. Our American Weyr received similar status only a few months ago. Every Weyr with riders will receive the same status. An independent Weyr has many things to offer their host country. We are willing to speak with any country interested in hosting a Weyr and can explain the benefits we can offer as an independent Weyr.
"The dragons are eager to reach out to the people around them and it is our sincere belief that together, dragon and human, will be able to create a shining future for everyone."
He stopped and looked around, then the applause started, but it was quickly drowned out by the sound of the dragons themselves. The non-bonded dragons of Campbeltown leapt skyward, maintaining their formation all along. The humans in the audience fell silent as the dragons provided a dizzying aerial show of precision flying.
The director signaled that the cameras were no longer live and people started to mill about on the stage. Harry quickly left the stage, he had something more important to do.
Five minutes later and feeling only slightly better he stepped from the bathroom to find both Hermione and May waiting for him. May handed him a bottle of water. "What are you doing here?" he asked in surprise.
"The Queen told Chekiath that we should get you something to settle your stomach. She said you were probably throwing up. Her father was the same way after giving every speech," Hermione said softly.
Harry grimaced, but he gratefully accepted the water. He opened the bottle and drank deeply. "I hope I don't have to do that too often," he muttered.
Hermione smiled. "Count on it Harry, before the Queen sent for us, she was deep in conversation with the Secretary General about you and Chekiath addressing a special session of the general assembly."
Harry groaned and Hermione held out a potion bottle. "This will settle your stomach, I'm afraid you can only use it after your stomach gets upset."
May glanced at Hermione who nodded at her. "Harry," she said a bit hesitantly, then she continued. "You were wonderful out there. Both before and during your speech."
Hermione nodded in agreement, then she added, "We could feel all of the dragons listening to you intently. They listened to everyone, but when you spoke we could feel them. It was incredible, and we could feel their approval."
Harry nodded thoughtfully and he glanced out a window seeing the long line of limousines and buses waiting for their passengers. He knew people were starting to filter out of the Weyr and the work crews would be starting to dismantle the towers and pack up their equipment. The networks were already playing their canned specials.
May stepped up to stand next to him. "Harry, what's wrong?"
He sighed and gave her a weak smile. "We made a lot of promises today, I just hope we can do it all."
Hermione stepped up to his other side and wrapped an arm around him. "Of course we can. You'll lead, and we'll make sure you don't make any mistakes," she said with a light laugh.
"And I'll be the one everyone will admire," Chekiath announced. "We can't lose then!"
Harry, May and Hermione laughed and exited the building, they still had guests to say farewell to. Tomorrow would be a new day with new problems.
Author's Notes and Mockeries:
- And so we come to the end of Book II in the Dragon Rider/Harry Potter crossover. I do hope you've enjoyed it. We had some rough times while working on this book, but through it all, we kept plugging away at it.
- Book III, tentatively named Dragon Storm will cover roughly twenty years of time, from 1996 to around 2015 or so. Work has begun on the story, but you good folks will have to wait until I am ready before you'll start to see it. I'm going to be selfish here and tell you not to expect anything for at least three months. I want to be sufficiently far enough into the story that I can maintain a 2 week update schedule and still write ahead.
Some people have asked that I publish a 20th chapter to Wings to announce the publication of the third book. I'm not going to do that. For one thing it's a TOS violation, for another it's just as easy for you to put me on Author's alert while you're taking Wings off story alert. Your other option of course is to join our Yahoo group. It is the one place that I'll be publishing progress updates for Dragon Storm. The URL to the Yahoo group can be found in my profile.
- Maloran is bored with the who who disclaimers. Well fortunately for him/her this will be the last one. On the other hand, his/her opinion about the disclaimers is so moving I nearly burped. Nearly. You aren't the only one who had a who who issue Maloran. A fair number had penis problems, either too short, or too limp, but I refuse to discuss those issues.
- Zabyne is still waiting on his post-it note disclaimer. Unfortunately we spent so much money on printing those damn disclaimers we couldn't afford toilet paper. Which resulted in our using the disclaimers for... well you know. I have paper cuts in some very uncomfortable places right now. Zab, if you still want a post-it note, I'll peel one off and mail it to you.
- Joshua the evil guy complains that there aren't enough people trying to take advantage of dragons. Ummm perhaps he's slow, or he's just overlooked the fact that until this point, 99.99% of the world didn't know about dragons. Of course that will change with the next book. People will try here and there to take advantage of them, and occasionally Harry is going to stomp on some heads. But I won't go into that here.
- Red Jacobson wants to know if we'll see some of the world's reaction to dragons going public. Red, if you're reading this, then you already know the answer to your question. But rest assured you'll see more about it with Chapter 1 of Dragon Storm! Coming to a bat channel near you!
- A few people have commented on how dragon anatomy should already be known because wizards routinely took them apart for ingredients. Well if you recall back in Book 1, May complaining that all of the wizard books spoke in terms of what each organ could be used in potion so and so. The books never properly identified the organs, never mentioned what they do. They only talked about what potions they could be used in. So no, the wizards do not know the anatomy of dragons.
- Guest left a bunch of questions via unsigned reviews, but we don't remember them and have deleted them. Sorry guest but if you want an answer you have to log in.
- And finally if you haven't already done so, leave a review letting us know what you think. While we don't write for reviews, they do give us a warm fuzzy glow (except for the death threats and the weird sexual offers that include cooking utensils, crisco and a shetland pony).
I'll close with a simple parting comment. So long and thanks for all the fish!