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Old May 5 2008, 11:37 PM   #2
D. M. Domini
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Chicagoland
Gender: F
Fan of: Afra Lyon, and Robinton!
Now Reading: Sabriel by Garth Nix
Re: The Skyboom (An Alternate Universe Pern Fic)

Chapter Two

"I can't tell you." F'lon's eyes pleaded with Robinton to understand.

Robinton sat back on the leather couch, and propped his boots up on a nearby bench that had conveniently wandered away from the table it belonged to, probably for this very purpose. "So we got here, wherever here is, due to a mishap going between, but nobody's telling me anything because I am not a dragonrider?"

"Possibly," F'lon said.

"That's a lie," Robinton said. "Because the two Harpers I met I think had a bloody good idea of what has happened, judging from their actions."

"Have they told you?"

"No, they wanted to come and speak to the dragonriders first," Robinton said. Then he grimaced at the anger in his tone. "I'm sorry, their actions are not your fault, F'lon." He rubbed his brows. "Perhaps I'm becoming paranoid."

"How so?"

"We do--something--strange between. We come to our respective homes, or so we think. And when we discover we've not actually come home, we're both whisked to the highest-ranked people in the Hall and in the Weyr, not even allowed for a second to talk to anyone else...and we're told precisely nothing. What are they hiding from us?"

F'lon made a face. "Why are they hiding it from you?"

"You don't think it's because I'm not a dragonrider? Or have you been gallivanting around the Weyr, meeting people who've obviously been here for Turns, that you've somehow never met before?"

"I haven't thought it all through yet, Rob. I mean, they told me what happened, and told me not to let you know, and because of what they told me...they're right. I can't let you know. I'm sorry. Have you tried going outside? I don't think they're forcing us to stay in here. You. To stay here."

"I haven't tried," Robinton admitted. "I'll stay here. For now."

F'lon sighed. "Well if you're just going to stay in here anyway, why are you complaining?" He came over and sat on the bench next to Robinton's feet. "Are you going to write a song about me? About a stupid wherry-brained dragonrider who flew his dragon in a thunderstorm and came out of between who-knows-where?"

"Maybe," Robinton said, with a wicked smile. "I'm still studying my subject in order to wring the most embarrassment and humiliation out of this as I can."

F'lon laughed. "I will never live this down with you, will I?"

"Not as long as I draw breath, my friend."

"Ah, good. I'm still your friend," F'lon joked, although the worry in his eyes betrayed that perhaps he wasn't entirely joking all the way. "I'm glad to know that."

"The fact that I'm sitting so calmly in this room shows that I am still your friend. They seem like nice enough people, but their actions lead to mistrust." Robinton shot F'lon a half grin. "Keep my trust, F'lon, and we'll be fine." Then he yawned, and changed the subject. "What do you think of those little firelizards?"

"I don't know, I haven't really seen them up close too much. You?"

"They're quite intelligent! Not like a dragon, obviously, but they're smart enough. Smarter than a runner."

"Most things are smarter than runners," F'lon said.

"Very few things act intelligently, you know, when facing several tons of hungry fire-breathing dragon," Robinton said wryly. "Including humans."

The bronze rider gave an expressive shrug.

Robinton imitated him, then continued. "They make the most fascinating array of sounds. I wonder if you could get them to sing. Menolly has a little gold, her name is Beauty. She sat on her shoulder, with her tail around her neck like a torc. She would accentuate Menolly's words with sounds. They were very faint, but there. Pianissimo. And then she realized I was staring at her and stopped."

"Menolly, or the firelizard?" F'lon asked.

"The firelizard."

F'lon snorted and said nothing.

"She might have stared back at me; it was difficult to tell," Robinton said, as the door at the other side of the room opened, and five people came in: Harpers Sebell and Menolly (who was indeed a Master Craftswoman, to Robinton's delight), and dragonriders F'lar, Lessa, and F'nor, riders of bronze Mnemoth, gold Ramoth, and brown Canth respectively.

"Hello," F'lon said to the unexpected crowd.

"Greetings and salutations," Robinton said as sincerely and with as straight a face as he could manage. However, it was a bit intimidating to have everyone suddenly in the room. And dismaying. Particularly in the way that F'lar, who had an uncanny similarity to F'lon--if F'lon lost his almost ever-present smile and became far more serious and brooding--was staring at him as if he suspected Robinton was hiding something beneath his facetious choice of hellos. Robinton stared back, knowing he should back down, that a journeyman Harper had no call to challenge the Weyrleader on anything, but the fact that they kept on keeping him in the dark angered him in a deep and fundamental way.

Still, challenging a man with twice his years and one very large bronze dragon was not one of his more brilliant ideas, no matter how angry he felt, and if it came to belt knives and blows, he highly doubted the most deftly planned and executed of head butts would get him out of it in one piece. So he smiled winningly, bowed to the inevitable, as well as physically to these people who outranked him, and let these strange men and women from this strangely-different Pern talk to him about precisely nothing and prepare him and a surprised-looking F'lon to...apparently go between back where they came, just like that.

So...you can go between places, Robinton mused to himself, as they walked outdoors into the night. And you can also go between in a way that you end up in the right place...but without the right details. The people are wrong, the decor is wrong. He'd felt that sense of eeriness before, when visiting Boll as a Journeyman, when he remembered bits and pieces of it from his youth when his family had visited there. As if a whole slew of things had passed when he was away, changing the look of the place in slight, subtle ways. Which is what had happened, in those cases.

He had the same feeling here. Almost as if time had passed as quickly as the distance between two places.

It was a bit of a pity that nobody realized the affable smile plastered on his face was probably the best bit of acting he'd ever done, in light of the stunned revelation that flashed through him. Distance was one thing...but time? The dragonriders could go between through time? Red, bloody stars, the kind of power that gave the dragonriders!

And what if...what if they got lost? He supposed that being lost in a normal jump between had its own terrible risk, and, taking a chance and calculating that their first overly long jump between had been the moment when they'd gone through time, the only perceptible difference might be a change in how long they spent in the dark, featureless space of between.

Nonetheless, the consequences of jumping between time alarmed him more than jumping between places, although he was fairly sure he could end up dead either way, if something went wrong.

He almost opened up his mouth to question F'lon, to press close and speak in his ear, asking if they were going forward or backwards in time. But it wouldn't be particularly smart to alarm the bronze rider just as they were about to take off. He assumed they were fit to fly, despite the lightening bolt, but still. best not to tempt fate. And they had taken such pains to keep him in the dark, although he still had no idea why. Unless, perhaps, the fact that dragonriders could fly through time was not the actual secret they wished to keep from him.

But as Simanith's powerful body flexed below them, and sprung, lifting them all into the air, Robinton supposed the point was moot anyway, and tried to settle down, push his worries away. After a rather strange adventure, they were obviously going home.
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