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Old Nov 21 2017, 04:50 PM   #1
P'ter
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Default The Last Dragon Flight

The Last Dragon Flight


The inner room of the queen’s weyr at Benden was very crowded. The current Masterharper, the current Lord Holders of all the major Holds, and the Principal of the recently founded University of Pern, situated at Landing, were all gathered round the bed of Anne, the last Dragon-rider of Pern.

In the half-millennium since the last Threadfall, dragon numbers had dwindled. They and their rider-partners had been reduced from the worshipped fighting saviours of Pern, to transporting parcels hither and yon from Hold to Hold, and to flying the sick and injured to the major Healer Halls. The lack of instinctive drive to increase progeny in anticipation for thread pass, and the withering of the mating urge through the dragons’ aging, had seriously curtailed the arrival of weyrlings. Old age, accidents, and infections caught from the sick they transported had further reduced the muster of both dragons and riders. They had dwindled and retreated from filling seven weyrs to just the one, Benden, as, for different reasons, they had once before.

Now just Gold-rider Anne and her gold dragon McCath remained; and Anne was dying. At eighty-five turns of age her body had had enough, but her brain and personality were fighting a stout rear-guard action.

“Records,” she moaned, her arthritis handicapped fingers scrabbling at her bed-furs, “must . . . keep records . . . up to date.”

“Anne,” said the Masterharper, bending near her ear, “the vast majority of the records are already moved to, and catalogued in, our archives at the University. Those of Benden will join them I promise. Those records will be available for any and all students and historians who want to know what the magnificent Riders achieved over their three thousand turns; all the way from Kitti-Ping and the first dragon clutch, to the final flourish and you.”

A grimace of a smile crossed Anne’s face and her hands stilled. The watchers gazed as she breathed, breathing with her, willing her to breathe again; and again. Eventually her ribs moved no more. The Masterhealer felt for a pulse and failed to find one. From the outer room came the lonely voice of the last dragon keening for the passing of her rider.

After the usual washing and preparation, the watchers lifted her gently from her bed and carefully carried her to the outer room where McCath waited crouching by her bed shelf. They draped Anne across her erstwhile dragon, lodging her securely between the two neck-ridges where she had ridden so often. McCath walked carefully to the weyr entrance. There she lifted her head to vent one last keen, then spread her translucent gold wings and launched herself from her weyr ledge.

The last dragon of Pern went between for the last time.
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