Disclaimer: Pern belongs to, and is the intellectual property of, Anne McCaffrey; she created the sandbox. I'm making no money off of this and am simply playing with the action figures in the sandbox.
Title: First Flight
Characters: Sean Connell, Sorka Connell
Era: Set two years after the birth of the first Dragons on Pern
Summary: As the Dragons reach maturity, Sean and Sorka must plan for the inevitable events that will lead to the continuation of the species.
Author's note: I wrote this way back when fanfiction wasn't allowed for Pern. Revised, I'm now sharing it with you lovely people. Enjoy.
Sorka Connell awoke early, as was her habit and rolled out of bed. Her husband, Sean, rolled over in his sleep towards the space she'd just vacated, blindly reaching for her when he felt her absence. His eyes were closed, his voice holding an exhaustion she should have felt but didn't. "Sorka?"
Smiling down at him, she gently brushed his curly red hair from his brow. "Sleep," she told him softly. He was exhausted, as were the other Dragonriders, from the almost continual thread-fall.
Thread, a deadly organism that devoured all organic material, had started falling just over two and a half years ago on the unsuspecting colonists of Rukbat's third planet. They'd bio-engineered Dragons from a local inhabitant, and set in motion the long term thread-protection plan their leaders had outlined.
In the last two years, the Dragonriders had found themselves even more a breed apart that before. The Fort was quickly filling up with people as the settlers moved north, stretching back into the mountain side and through natural caverns down into the crust of the world. Pern herself had provided the means for her inhabitant's protection, but the colonists had taken it a step further with their Dragons. Housed in a series of large caves near the outside of Fort, the Dragons and their riders supplied themselves and had little to do with Fort's management.
Sean had been named the Dragonrider's leader unanimously. He alone, out of them all, seemed to know exactly what it was that needed to be done with their new species.
Sorka shook her head. He worked himself too hard, in her opinion, hammering out the best Thread fighting tactics with Paul Benden and Ezra Keroon. For the 26 Dragons, most of them the golden Queens, fighting thread took a terrible toll. Sean was desperate to find ways of minimizing injuries but increasing the range of their effectiveness. Thankfully, since the day Marco and Duluth had died, there had been no other deaths.
Unfortunately, that didn't mean there had been no injuries.
Sorka slipped into her riding gear, shivering in the cool room and sighed; moving north had come with some distinct disadvantages. She turned back at her husband and gently caressed his cheek before tucking the covers around his bare shoulders. Double bonded, as Pol and Bay had often said affectionately while watching Carenath and Faranth interact, her preference for Sean's company was certainly echoed by her Dragon's preference for Carenath's. Thinking of the two scientists who'd had such a monumental part in the creation and care of their Dragons always brought a smile to her face.
Pol and Bay were like surrogate parents and had been adopted by the Dragonriders into their circle.
Double bonded, she mused silently as she left the small apartment of two rooms she and Sean shared. Bonded first to her mate, and secondly to her Queen. Or vice-versa, depending on whom you asked. I wonder if that will have any bearing on when you rise to mate, Faranth.
She felt the distinct amusement of her Dragon's thoughts interlaced with hunger. I will be hard to catch, came the wry response, Carenath will have to fly far and long to catch me.
Laughing to herself as she exited into the main cavern where their Dragons were housed, Sorka sent a wave of affection Faranth's way. Each Dragonrider had their own section of cavern floor, though Sean's bronze, Carenath and her Faranth, were rarely separated. Pol had mentioned that the rider might influence the Dragon just as the Dragon did the rider; based on what they saw daily, no doubt, between her Queen and Sean's bronze.
Faranth reached out with her golden muzzle and gently butted her friend, her eyes whirling softly. I am hungry, do we hunt today?
Sorka reached up and scratched her sensitive eye ridges, feeling the unconditional acceptance of Faranth's love. "When Sean wakes, Faranth, and after we humans have eaten."
Carenath's voice was soft inside her head. The queens hunt alone.
Sorka hugged her queen's muzzle before turning to look at the gleaming eyes of the bronze. "Normally, I'd agree with you, but today it will just be us four, Carenath. It's a rest day, with no fall over Fort or anywhere nearby. The others will have the opportunity to do as they please."
Are we going south?
She scratched her friend's eye ridges again as Carenath lowered his head next to her. Grinning, she reached out to scratch the bronze as well. Few other riders were as ease with another beast as she was with Carenath. It helped that she could hear all of the Dragons, but being bonded to Sean, as she was to Faranth, helped put the bronze at ease in her company. Dragons, they had discovered, often took their cues from their riders. In this case, it often worked to their advantage.
"Sean mentioned the possibility, Carenath. He's your rider; has he said nothing to you?"
Firm arms wrapped around her from behind, a gentle kiss being dropped on her neck. "His rider, Sorka-love, is worried you may be prejudicing his bronze."
Sorka leaned into his embrace and smiled at his teasing tone as he took over scratching his friend's eye ridges. "Are we going south to hunt, Sean?"
He nodded. "Aye, lovely, we are."
"You should still be sleeping," she told him softly, turning away from Faranth and looking up at him. Sean wasn't amorous by nature but when he first woke he was more prone to display his affections; it was one of the reasons she was always reluctant to leave the bed before him. Sean's attentions weren't to be missed. Wrapping her arms around him, hugging him to her, she brushed her lips against the line of his jaw, concerned. "You're still worn out from the constant Thread fighting. Are you sure you don't want to rest today?"
Sean dropped his hand from his friend as the Dragons touched muzzles gently before curling up together, watching their riders. His attention now on his wife, he turned his head to meet her gaze. Weariness was etched in his visage, but so was contentment. "It's rare we get a day to ourselves, Sorka; like we had before the Threads began to fall."
"You mean before you took up the responsibility of 26 Dragons and their riders," she admonished softly. She put up her hand to forestall his arguments. "I know how dedicated you are to them and I'm not criticizing. I simply wish we had more of them to help."
"According to Pol and Bay, the Queens should be rising to mate soon and when they do we may have to implement measures I hesitate to suggest."
Sorka didn't take her eyes from him as she was led from their area towards the hearth and the line of tables near it. None of the others were up, and she couldn't blame them. A day without Thread was rare indeed and they would all make the most of it. Serving them both from the large kettle that hung over a banked fire, she then seated herself next to him. "What kinds of changes?"
Awake now, his natural reserve was starting to reassert itself. "All of the Queens, save Faranth, should be mated to as many of the browns and bronzes as possible. None of the other riders are permanently attached to another, and I know that Carenath will not share Faranth with another bronze or brown. He's made that plain to me."
Sorka laughed, wondering if Carenath was taking his cue from Sean for Sean would never share her with another. "He has, has he?" Cocking her head at him, she asked the question that had been bantered about, but never really answered. "Do you think the rider's preference will make a difference?"
Sean paused in eating his cereal, thoughtful. "I've been thinking about that myself. From the way the lizards-"
"Dragonets," she corrected with a grin. The name for their little friends had long been an issue of debate between them and it never failed to make her smile.
He rolled his eyes but continued. "-affect their owners when they rise to mate, would it not stand to reason that a Dragon would do the same? In a sense what I'm suggesting is not just a mating of multiple Dragons, but also their riders. Duke and Blaze are very attached to each other, as you and I are, Sorka-love, and Blaze has not allowed another bronze to fly her in all the time she's been around. I won't share you with another," he told her softly, watching her as she finished off her breakfast.
She met his gaze with a loving, reassuring smile. "And I refuse to share you with another woman. None of the other riders are married and most of them are young, but I don't think they'd ask the same of us as what we're suggesting for them. I think we'd be starting just another Dragonrider tradition in their minds."
Sean waited until she'd dropped their dishes into the sink and quickly scrubbed them clean. He stood as she came back, holding a mug of klah out to him. Taking a sip, he offered her his arm as they walked back towards their Dragons.
I'm hungry, when do we leave? Carenath asked plaintively. Faranth echoed the question.
Sorka laughed softly. "Faranth agrees. When do we leave?"
"Since when," Sean looked down at her, his eyes twinkling, "am I in charge of this?"
Sorka tossed back the last of her klah, trying not to laugh. "Well, you're in charge of everything else, why not this?"
Finishing his drink, he placed the mug next to hers on a stone shelf. "Grab your helmet and straps," he told her with a push, pulling his out of the locker set up near their Dragons for just that purpose. Sorka quickly grabbed hers and pulled them on before strapping the riding harness onto Faranth with practiced movements.
Carenath was similarly trussed up in quick order.
"Yes, love, I already checked the fall pattern in the south." Sean didn't look at her as he fastened his helmet and then rechecked Carenath's straps. "Relax, I planned this yesterday. How I thought I could keep anything from you is a mystery!"
Her laughter was soft, her smile brilliant as they lead their Dragons out of the stone hold and into the main landing of Fort's hills. They both inhaled the crisp, clear air of their beloved planet as the Dragons spread their wings and stretched in anticipation for the upcoming flight.
Can we go now?
Sorka grinned at Faranth's impatient plea. "Yes, Faranth. Drop your leg and help me up, would you?"
Faranth did as she asked and with measured strides, Sorka leapt to her back, sitting herself between the last two neck ridges. Sean, she saw, was already mounted on his bronze. "Are you sure you're as hungry as you say," she asked her Dragon, running her hand over the brighter than usual gold overtones. "Your color isn't at all off like it normally is when you're hungry."
Faranth snorted as Sean pumped his arm in the signal to rise, not deigning to answer Sorka's question; of course she was hungry. Sorka held on as the queen Dragon leapt into the air, her powerful wings propelling her upwards as her legs launched her from the ground. The wind slid over their riding clothes as they flew upwards into the sky.
Sean asks if you know where we are going. Carenath said to Sorka.
I know, she replied, visualizing the southern continent's lush growth of green near the grubbed area.
Carenath broke in with a different visual. Sean says we are to go here.
Sorka rolled her eyes but obligingly pictured the new area for Faranth, though Carenath could have just as easily given her the image directly. It was a measure of respect from Dragon to Dragon – and Dragon to another Dragon's rider. Do you know where we are going, Faranth?
I know. We go.
The next few moments were total sensory deprivation as the Dragons took them between. They emerged in the warm tropical air of the south over Drake's Lake, the vegetation along the banks drooping and brown. Sean motioned for them to head north, towards a small island area of green. They flew low over fields of drooping greenery, barren fields of dirt and green areas of grubbed land.
They finally alighted on a hilltop, too steep for any kind of wild feline in the south to climb, if they were in the area, and a view of a large heard of heard beasts grazing on a grubbed field. The Dragons dropped their riders off, quickly swooping down. Carenath held back as Faranth flew over the heard, striking quickly and flying away, a dead beast in her claws.
"She flies well," Sean commented, watching the golden queen settle on another hill not far from them.
"So does he," Sorka replied, watching Carenath quickly dispatch his own meal and fly off to land next to Faranth. Together the Dragons ate, quickly returning for a second. As Faranth launched herself for a third, Sorka called her firmly to task. Faranth, lovely, we have a long flight ahead of us. If you would please not gorge so; you won't be able to lift yourself off the ground!
Faranth's reply was plaintive. I am hungry still; I told you I was before we left. Three will not be too much.
Sorka rolled her eyes. "Fine, have a third, but don't complain if you can't fly well afterwards,"
"What's she complaining about now?"
Stretched out on a large sleeping fur next to her husband, watching their Dragons, she shot him a look of amused tolerance; a Dragonrider look. "Faranth dislikes the thought of not being allowed to gorge."
Sean waved one hand at her dismissively, not looking the Dragon's way. "Let her eat her fill, Sorka. We alone hunt here today." Reaching out, he tugged her to his side, gently stroking her hair as he stared down into her face with a faint smile. "It's the first time we've been alone in a while. With the Dragons and Michael, we've rarely a moment to ourselves."
Sorka laid her head on his shoulder as they stared at the clouds, knowing she couldn't hope to ever repay her parents for watching Michael - their young son - overnight and today. She knew Sean could find little to relax about these days with the care of their friends on his mind but she wanted so badly for him to forget about their responsibilities as leaders, if only for an afternoon.
"Something wrong, Sorka?"
Trust Sean to know something was wrong when she was trying to keep it hidden. "I'm worried about this whole venture, Sean."
He looked at her in surprise. Carenath and Faranth were curled up on a hill not far from them, lounging in the sun, leaving the two humans some time to themselves. Likely, she suspected, picking up on their desires as easily as they did their thoughts. "Don't tell me you don't think it's going to work?"
Sorka shook her head. "It's not that, I have no doubt that our Dragons will prove to be everything everyone expects them to be, but it would help - will help - when we have more of them. 26 of us is good, but..."
He pushed himself to his elbow, meeting her gaze squarely. Searching it, his expression softened fractionally in understanding. "You're worried about you and me."
She nodded, biting her lip. "I know I shouldn't be. We've been through so much together already-"
Sean cut her off with a quick kiss, his smile gentle. "We can handle this, Sorka-love. You know that as well as I do. I admit I'm very dedicated, to the point of being obsessed, to the Dragons, but I only want what's best for us!"
"I know that, Sean."
"But you're still worried."
"Only because you don't seem to realize exactly how hard you're pushing yourself." She sighed, lifting her hand to twine her fingers with his. "We're still young, and all of this responsibility is going to make us old before our time."
He rolled her onto her back, gently caressing her face as he planted a lingering kiss on the corner of her mouth. "Old?" His breath feathered tantalizingly across her skin. "Want me to show you just how old we are, red-headed gal?"
Despite his teasing, she found she couldn't smile, even as she responded to his touch. "Prove me wrong, Sean," she begged, running her fingers through his hair and down his body, urging him closer. "Please, prove me wrong."
With such an ardent plea, he could do nothing but oblige her.
Sean slid off Carenath's back and motioned for his friend to take his place among the other Dragons lounging on Fort's heights. Faranth landed Sorka before quickly joining the bronze. Sean wrapped his arm around Sorka's waist as they walked towards the hall, helping one another strip gloves and helmets as they went.
They looked up to see Admiral Paul Benden waving at them. He descended the stairs to join them as they continued towards their quarters, dropping into step beside the two young Dragonriders.
"Something the matter, Paul?" Inquired Sean as Sorka collected his riding clothes and disappeared into the hold. He scratched his head, running his hands through his sweat-soaked curls.
"Nothing's wrong, Sean, just a couple of questions. I was talking to Pol and Bay and according to the research the Queens should be rising to mate any time now, right?"
Sean nodded, motioning for the Admiral to take a seat at one of the more remote tables near the hearth. Some of the other Dragonriders were eating a late lunch and waved at their leader and the Admiral; most were not in attendance.
"I was talking to Sorka about that today." Sean's admission was matter of fact; it was nobody's business what else had happened during that discussion. "She brought it up, and what the consequences could be on the hold."
Sorka rejoined them, placing a mug of klah in front of them both, before taking a seat next to her husband, her eyes almost never leaving him. It wasn't rude, it was simply that Sorka never had eyes for anyone else when he was around. She never tired of looking at him, no matter how long she stared, especially when he was in Dragonrider mode; he was something else to behold.
Sean, used to such attention from her, didn't comment as he spoke to the admiral. "It would seem to me that most of us are aware of what kind of effect the lizards-" he held up one hand to forestall the inevitable argument, a half smile on his lips as Sorka grinned, "-have on their friends when they mate. Dragons are not only smarter and larger than them, but also, I would think, capable of broadcasting their emotions further. I don't want to alarm the hold, but I have to err on the side of caution."
Paul looked skeptical. "Do Pol and Bay agree with you?"
Sorka laughed, looking at him. "We just got back from the South, Paul, and we were up before anyone above. We haven't had a chance to talk to them yet!"
"I'm sorry, Sorka, I didn't realize..."
Sorka waved his apology away and held up her hand. Duke, one of her bronzes - the first of her bronzes, appeared in midair above her and, his eyes whirling gently, settled on her forearm. He chirped at the Admiral and Sean before cocking his head attentively at Sorka. She smiled as he rubbed his head against her cheek before chirping what was obviously a question. Sean had pulled a small piece of paper and a pencil from his pocket and was writing a quick message. He handed it to Sorka and she coaxed Duke to the table.
Paul watched, fascinated, as Sorka interacted with Duke, asking for and getting the little bronze's leg. She tied the message and then looked him straight in the eyes. "Find Pol and Bay, Duke." She pictured the two scientists in her mind. Duke cocked his head to the side, chirped once before launching himself into the air and winking out.
Admiral Benden shook his head with a faint smile. "Useful little things, aren't they?"
Sorka smiled. "Useful for some things."
Sean tapped his fingers on the table impatiently, glancing at his watch as he did, and Sorka knew he was counting the seconds since Duke had went between. Duke finally returned, broadcasting his smug self-approval at completing his task. Sorka caressed the little bronze and offered him a couple of sandwiches from her belt pouch as Sean and the Admiral talked about certain matters of day to day workings in the Fort above.
Footsteps sounded on the stone floors and the three looked up as Pol and Bay came quickly towards them. "You said you needed to speak with us, Sean?"
Sean motioned for them to sit and they seated themselves next to the Admiral. Sean didn't waste any time as Sorka got each of the scientist a cup of klah. "Pol, Bay, I need to know just how soon you're expecting our Dragons to take their first mating flights. We need to start thinking about what kind of serious repercussions we're looking at for Fort when it happens."
Bay twisted her hands on the table top until Sorka gave her the mug to wrap her hands around. Pol simply shrugged. "We don't honestly know, Sean."
"What do you mean you don't know? You two have been studying the mating habits of our little friends," he motioned to Sorka's bronze who was seated on her shoulder, "and you're telling me you haven't a clue as to what's going to happen?"
Bay had the grace to blush. "As you well know, the Dragons are an entirely new species. Yes; they're based on the little fire Dragonets, but that's where the similarities end. They are more intelligent, so we're not entirely sure what will happen when the Queen's rise to mate."
Sean sat back in his chair, Sorka's hand on his knee beneath the table. Sorka glanced at the two scientist. "We have a theory if you'd like to hear it."
"By all means Sorka; theory is all we have to go on right now."
She squeezed her mate's knee under the table. "Sean and I were discussing how the mating of Dragonets affects their riders. It's probably safe to assume that the Dragons will do the same since Kitty-Ping didn't tamper with them on a base level. I think it's also going to be safe to assume that the mating of the Dragons will probably affect more than just the riders involved. We know they share strong emotions and, in some cases, broadcast it."
Sean coughed, trying to hide a laugh as his wife blushed. Strong emotions indeed! Everyone knew when there were undercurrents of tension running through their group. The Dragons also seemed to realize when any of the riders engaged in physical pleasure.
The Connell's especially.
Carenath and Faranth were the acknowledged and undisputed leaders of the Dragon wings with the way they'd taken the group in hand from day one. The flip side was that they had very little privacy. Especially here.
Pol looked at the two young riders and nodded, but Sorka continued before he could interrupt. "I also believe that, with the gene pool we have, and the limited number of Queens and bronzes we've got, we should match as many bronzes to as many of the Queen's as possible."
"Except Faranth." Sean interjected, scowling.
Bay, Pol and Paul laughed. They were perfectly matched, these two, and married. Like anyone was going to argue with Sean on that account.
Sorka grinned, her tone saucy. "That also means Carenath doesn't participate in any other mating flight." The teasing demeanor turned suddenly serious. "However, the promiscuity may disturb some of the riders. I'm worried it will unbalance the Dragonriders."
Bay shrugged, glancing at Pol. "To be honest Sorka, some women, and most men, enjoy the option of having multiple partners. Put it to your group and see where they stand. We're working towards the future of the breed here, so they may be more receptive than you think. One thing I am concerned about, though; if you mate each Queen to each bronze, there's a chance of future bronzes mating their mothers and so on. You are going to keep records, very strict records, right? Just to make sure it doesn't happen?"
Sorka nodded. "Sean already has ideas on how to train young Dragons after everything we went through, and we've started putting those ideas to hide. Tradition, once we start the training, tied with trial and error," she winced, thinking of Marco and Duluth and Sean squeezed her hand where it lay against his thigh, "will refine those techniques. The breeding aspect is separate, so yes; I will need to keep very specific records. I hadn't thought that far ahead yet, mostly I was worried on how the group would react to the radical suggestion - especially since Sean and I are exempting ourselves."
Bay pressed her hand to Sorka's arm reassuringly. "You'll come up with some way to break it to them sensibly, Sorka; you've both done a marvelous job so far."
"Sure - no pressure."
They shared a laugh around the table at Sorka's dry tone before Sean took control once more. "The first thing we need to do is move out of these cramped quarters; they'll be fine for heard beasts, but Dragons need space to spread their wings and we were told they'll be getting bigger with each generation. That crater above Fort has already been sounded and Ozzy's started on making it livable. Last I checked, we should be able to move by tomorrow."
"So soon?" Paul frowned.
"The sooner we move the better," Sean insisted. "Not only do we remove the chance of the Dragons affecting the holders, who won't and shouldn't have the same standards as the Weyr, but we'll establish ourselves as a separate unit. It will be better for everyone and give us a chance to focus; not to mention free up these caves for the livestock."
There were no arguments about that; the grumbling about the lack of space available for sheltering the beasts during threadfall was a constant grumble, especially since the traders wanted to breed all of their stock, not just some.
Once the decision was made, the Dragonriders were assembled and flew off on recon to see just how far Ozzy had come in making their chosen space habitable.
It was none too soon.
For almost as soon as the decision to move had been made, at the end of that very week as the Dragonriders were putting finishing touches on their personal Weyrs and collecting stray herd beasts, that, Sorka observed some of the strangest behavior she'd yet seen from the Dragons and ran to find her husband...
He looked up from his writing as his wife ran into their Weyr, taking in the almost frantic look in her eyes. His pen dropped as he came halfway out of his chair. "Sorka? What's wrong?"
She stopped next to him, breathing hard. "The bronzes and their riders are behaving oddly and acting strange!"
Sean got to his feet and reached with his mind for Carenath's. The response was immediate except for a sudden surge of sexual urging that took him by complete surprise.
"Carenath!" he ran from the room, Sorka on his heels.
Outside, the bronzes were in the middle of the Weyr bowl amid the small heard of animals, sucking the blood of recently killed corpses. Carenath looked up, his muzzle bloodied, and let out a bugle that rang across the bowl towards his rider. It was a challenge and a triumph all in one.
Sorka suddenly stumbled into Sean as Faranth awoke from her afternoon nap, her thoughts whirling in chaos.
"Sean!" distantly, she felt his arms come around her as Faranth suddenly hissed at the bronzes in the heard and launched herself from the Weyr rim towards what remained. Her neck arched in a decidedly sensual move as she glided above. The brozes, their eyes whirling orange, settled on the Weyr rim she'd abandoned, their eyes locked on the Queen.
"Sorka, she can't eat the meat, do you understand me? Don't let her; make her blood her kill like the bronzes!"
She shook her head, feeling the chaos of emotions inside her head, the confusion and purpose, almost overwhelmed by the strength of Faranth's desires. Clinging to Sean, she struggled to make sense of what was happening.
"Just do it! Carenath says she mustn't eat the meat!"
She watched as Faranth landed on the first animal and tore it open with her claws. Blood it, Faranth! She snapped mentally at her mate, her firm tone leaving no room for argument. So strong was the bond between ride and Dragon that Faranth hissed at Sorka across the bowl but dipped her head and latched onto the neck of the carcass, sucking the blood from it.
Sorka was only peripherally aware of all of the other bronze and brown rides standing near her in a semi-circle, Sean's arms holding her close against his chest.
Faranth hopped onto another animal and bent her head to eat but screamed in protest as Sorka again enforced her will on the Queen Dragon.
Blood it, Faranth! Blood it only!
The Queen Dragon began to glow as she sucked the blood from the second corpse. She leapt to a third and sank her teeth into its neck immediately, blooding it without trying to eat. Finally she lifted her head and bugled a challenge directly at Carenath as she leapt from the ground into the air. Carenath answered her challenge as he sprang after her. The other bronzes and browns were in close pursuit, their wings propelling them after the gold.
Faranth's wings beat powerfully as she flew in front of her pursuers. The skies stretched out in front of her and she reveled in flight, passing through the clouds as she raced further into the heavens. She was aware of her body as if for the first time, the ichor pumping through her veins lending her incredible speed as she flew. She dipped, dove and spiraled, feeling the exhilaration of flight, the caress of the wind against her body.
Never before had a Dragon risen to mate and the thrill of that first flight encompassed her completely, controlling her pace as she raced out ahead of the browns and bronzes. In the thrill of it, she was aware of her pursuers, but only barely, the stamina of the young queen pushing her higher and further than she'd ever been before.
She became aware of her male pursuers again after a while, and craned her head down to see who remained.
Carenath, Polenth and Gilgath.
Bugling a challenge at them, Faranth folded her wings and plummeted, cutting them off, forcing them to alter course and drop behind her again. She darted around them, brushing in closer with each pass. Gilgath dropped back and away, exhausted. Faranth bugled her superiority, even as she knew she'd never have accepted him as a mate. Polenth was another fine bronze, but Carenath would catch her - when she let him.
Flirting closer, she cut the bronzes off again, ducking closer to Carenath with each pass.
Finally, she brushed too close and Carenath dropped down, fowling her wings with his own as he wrapped his neck about hers. Unable to maintain flight they dropped from the heights, suddenly spreading their wings in unison as they snapped out of the fall and -
Sorka lay naked in her husband's arms on their bed, their Dragon mounted passion transforming into more between them as they joined their draconic companions at the height of their coupling. Locked together as intimately as their Dragons, Sean lay across her, his breathing ragged, his arms wrapped tightly around her. Her legs encircled his hips, her fingers only now loosening where they'd rug into his shoulders - and left behind tiny, bloodied half-moons from the force of her grip.
Feeling returned slowly, the satisfaction of their Dragons on the peripherally, as she took a few deep breaths, gently stroking his back. Her world had been shattered and then reborn; nothing looked the same.
"Jays, Sorka." His voice was rough as he pushed himself to his elbows, looking down at her. His gaze searched hers. "Incredible."
"I didn't know-"
"Nobody did." Leaning in close, he kissed her gently, tenderly. "Nobody could."
Gently tracing a line of sweat sliding down his brow, she smiled. "Well, the Dragonets affect their owners, why would we think Dragons would be any different?"
"Nothing that powerful, Sorka-love." He brushed a short curl off her cheek, his tone tender.
She smiled, loving that look, loving him and tightened her grip even as she lifted her fingers to his gaze. "I've marked you."
Sean flexed his shoulders and smiled faintly, a smug satisfaction in his tone echoing Carenath's even with the Dragon miles away. "I didn't feel it."
Drawing him back down, she ran her fingers over the raised ridges, and kissed the side of his shoulder she could reach from that angle. A low growl in his chest made her laugh softly, his reaction having nothing to do with his Dragon as he took full advantage of the fact they'd not yet separated. Neither had wanted to move, to lose that intimacy; it now worked in his favor. Pinning her to the bed as he withdrew from her, he sent her a stern look as he made her arch under the caress, drawing him back to her.
"Next time Faranth rises… there will be no bronzes but Carenath in the sky."
"Faranth will never accept anyone else, Sean." She laughed softly, her breath catching on a moan. "And neither will I."
"Doesn't matter," his growl lacked heat, his defenses down in the face of the Dragon-fueled coupling, as he bent his head to nip her neck even as his pace remained slow, almost languid. A tender loving in the aftermath of such a storm, it was an affirmation that while they were tied to their beasts, they were not. Tilting her hips, she whispered a soft caress down his neck, grasping his shoulders as he leaned back, drawing her with him. His arms tightened about her, drawing her up until she was straddling his lip and they were eye to eye. "I'll not chance it again."
Sorka's breath hitched only to be lost as he kissed her, deeply, every ounce of his human passions behind it, and she clung to him, returning it just as fervently. Their breathing was ragged and uneven, matching the accelerated beat of their hearts as his strong arms lifted her, drawing her down. Unable to do more than match his possession, she felt her fingers digging into his shoulders once more, her nails slipping into the divots she'd created earlier.
He drew back with a primal gleam in his eye, and reached down between them. Sorka's cry had nothing to do with their Dragons and everything to do with the man holding her as she came apart in his arms. Sean was quick to follow, clutching her to his chest as she clung to him, shaking.
It was several long moments before he eased his hold, smiling as he took in her ravished countenance. It wasn't often he had his wife to himself like this and he wasn't about to spoil the opportunity the mating flight had dropped, literally, into his lap.
"I think I like you best this way," he teased.
"Which way? Straddling your lap?"
"Naked and without distractions."
Sorka laughed, her body contracting about his and making him gasp. He wasn't up for another round with her just yet, but, if his body was telling him anything, it wouldn't be long before he was. Still, the physical intimacy between them was a personification of their relationship. Only here, alone with her, could he let his guard down. Easing them back to the bed, he braced himself as he'd been before on his forearms above her. Chest to chest, they were almost nose to nose as he ran one hand lovingly over her hair.
"It's not very often we get a day to ourselves," she agreed. "If not for the flight, we'd not have had this."
"Hmm," he nuzzled her cheek, brushing it with his lips. "A lessons in taking it easy?"
If she'd been modest at all anymore, her cheeks would have matched the color of her hair. "Sean Connell, there is nothing easy about this!"
He laughed, the chuckle reverberating through his body into hers. "No; no there isn't. But if this means getting you to myself for a few hours without the necessity of a rest day..."
They shared a laugh before Sorka cupped his face in her hands and kissed him softly. "Do you think the other riders were affected?"
"If they were, none of 'em will be of any use."
"And you will be?"
"I'm not supposed to be love," he grinned, "our Dragons were the ones that mated."
She couldn't argue that.
His expression changed as a revelation struck him; the consequences of Faranth's flight. "Do you realize what today is, Sorka?"
"Mmm hmm," she almost purred the sound, running her fingers through his hair. "We've just proved that Dragons are capable of reproducing."
"Counting your eggs before they're hatched?"
He laughed softly against her lips, grounding her - as ever - by his practical view of things. "There is a very big difference between this," he flexed his hips against hers, "and a baby."
"Capable of mating, then?"
"Exactly; even if it must be done more than once to get it right."
She kissed him back, lingering, enjoying that thought. "We'd best tell Pol and Bay, aye?"
"Aye. But not just yet…"
It wasn't until much, much later that they would learn the full effects of the Dragon's mating flight, or of the size of clutch Faranth had conceived, but in those moments it didn't matter. With the brief reprieve, and still resonating with the effects of that very personal and intimate flight, Sean and Sorka didn't leave their Weyr for many, many hours.