Part 2

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Silel and G'dran made small talk with the cotholder.  G'dran restrained himself from tapping his foot.  Tranth said there was a Candidate here, but even her father had no idea where she was.  He looked around.  The man, Poli, had several acres of riverland, for food and for livestock.  The nicely sized house impressed G'dran the most.  It was a neat building tucked under ancient trees giving it shade in the summer and cover in the winter.  Reminded him of his own family's cothold.  That seemed ages ago.

"My apologies, dragonriders," Poli said, scratching his several day old scruff.  "Missa's usually a pretty reliable girl but she went out earlier and who knows where on Pern she could be."

"I'm sure we won't mind waiting a bit," Silel said graciously.  "I remember being a teenager and wanting my freedom too."

"Um, so you say you're on Search?" Poli said.

"That's right," G'dran said.  "There's a clutch hardened and ready in Southern Weyr."

"Well, there's something you ought to know about my daughter," Poli began.  "She's a little different."

"It's our dragons who do the picking and my Tranth has never been wrong before," G'dran said.

"But what I meant was -"

[[ She's sitting next to me ]] Tranth said to G'dran.

"Seems your girl has found our dragons," G'dran said.  "I guess we should go down to the river to meet her."

Poli lead the way to the riverbank.  He occasionally took a quick look behind him as if he wasn't sure they'd follow him.  From a distance, G'dran saw the girl sitting within an armlength of Tranth's eye.  It was only when he instructed the girl to scratch the eyeridge, did they notice she did not stand up in surprise, withered legs folded in front of her.

Silel and G'dran gave each other a quick look.

"Hello, Missa," Silel said kindly. "My name is Silel.  Rider of green Blith and this is my Search partner, G'dran, rider of brown Tranth."

G'dran scowled.  [[ Are you sure?  Like absolutely sure? ]] he said to his brown.

[[ Yes ]] Tranth said.

[[ What does Blith say? ]]

[[ She agrees with me.  This one is definitely a Candidate. ]]

[[ But she's a cripple! ]]

Tranth gave him the mental equivalent of a shrug.

"Nice to meet you both," the girl said.

"We're here on Search.  There's a clutch ready to hatch on the sands of Southern Weyr," Silel said.  "Both my Blith and G'dran's Tranth have picked you to be a Candidate."

The girl's hand flew to her throat, and for a second G'dran though she might pass out.  "Da?" she said turning to her father.

"Now we can't say we aren't honored, but its always been my understanding that dragons don't Search the physically and mentally deficient.  They need their riders to be whole bodied to handle all the duties that come with a dragon and for flying Fall,"Poli said.

G'dran spoke up this time.  "It's true, sir.  It's never happened before, that we know of.  But my Tranth has been on many Searches and he's almost never been wrong before."

Poli nodded.  "I don't know.  Your beasts are so big.  They had to go down to the river fields to land.  My daughter is strong.  She has to be but that's a whole lot of beast for one crippled girl to take care of."

"I'm not going to pretend to know any answers," G'dran said.  "I'm expecting the the weyrleader and the weyrlingleaders to have an apoplexy and then chew my hide off afterwards.  But Tranth is positive."

"It may honestly come to nothing, sir," Silel interjected.  "Not every person that stands as a candidate will Impress a dragon.

"Then what's to become of her should she not Impress?" Poli said, his face darkening.  "Is she going to be throw away to be a drudge in some dining hall?"

"No," G'dran said.  "If she does not Impress, I will personally return her to you."

The man relaxed and then sadness swept over his face.  It seemed he aged ten years in a matter of moments.

"It's up to you," he said, looking at Missa. "Far be it from me to take an opportunity like this from you."

The girl looked torn. "But what about you?"

"I'll be fine," the man said. "I was fine before your mother and you came along.  I'll be fine when you leave."

Tears fell from the girl's eyes.  She reached up towards her father and he knelt down and wrapped her up in a big hug.  "Thank you, Da."

She took a moment to take a few breaths and then turned to the dragonriders.  "I accept your invitation."

Poli nodded his head and retrieved Nosey.  He brought the little runnerbeast slowly over to the dragon.  Nosey did whinny and his eyes whirled a bit.  Ultimately, he did not bolt or rear up.  Poli lifted his daughter on the runnerbeast's back and he lead them back to the cothold.

"Now don't bring too many things with you," Silel said, walking alongside the girl.  "Like I said, not every youth Impresses a dragon.  But if you . . . uh, did, then we'd send someone back here to get your stuff.  Just pack a couple of changes of clothes and personal items."

G'dran watched as the girl's face aglow with anticipation made her way into the cot.  He ran his hand through his hair.  He looked at Silel.

"Blith is sure?" he asked.

"I'm not sure asking me over and over is going change the answer," Silel said, arms folded.

"Her father brings up a good point, though," G'dran said.  "If she does Impress, how could she even do the things she's expected to do to care for her dragon?"

"Don't you think you're getting ahead of yourself?" Silel said. "She hasn't stood yet.  We don't know what will happen."

"I'm so glad I'm the only one who seems to have a problem with all of this," G'dran said dryly.

"I'm just not going to worry about something until there's a reason to," Silel said.

"Imagine her trying to fly Fall," G'dran said, "Unimaginable."

Silel shook her head.  "I guess I should take her.  Blith is smaller than Tranth."

G'dran nodded.

Poli appeared in the doorway carrying his daughter who had a sack in her hand.  He tenderly set her down on Nosey's back.  "I think she's ready."

"Can I bring Nosey?" she asked.  "He'd really help me to get around."

"No, I think not," G'dran said. "Even though he's seems to do well in the presence of a dragon, I doubt he'd appreciate taking a trip through the air."

The girl nodded.  "I guess not."

"We'll figure something out when we get there," Silel said.  G'dran shot her a look.

He didn't like his partner making promises she couldn't keep, and knew very well she shouldn't make.



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