Part 9

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"Now that your muscles are used to throwing around a bunch of rocks, we're going start building them up to throw firestone sacks," J'gol said. "When your dragon is mature enough, one of your responsibilities, before you become a full member of a wing, is to fly in sacks of firestone to fighting dragons. These bags are heavy so we'll get you in top form in order to be an asset to our weyr."

"It's pretty simple - you pick up a bag, you swing it over to the person next to you and then pick up the sack in front of you and so on. In a circle, please. Back up and give yourself a bit of room."

Missa nervously pulled at her hair. There as no way she'd be able to do this as J'gol had said. She could everything but swing. She just didn't have the height. But she didn't want to say anything because she didn't want her clutchmates to make fun of her. Her hand had been healing nicely but it was still tender. What if they threw a bag at her and it snagged her finger, or worse yet, what if she went to try and swing and re-broke her own finger? She didn't know what to do.

J'gol handed out the bags of firestone, small ones, and then went back to stand in the circle.

"You know you're doing it right when it's a steady flow of new bags," J'gol said. "Do it wrong and you'll have a building pile of sacks at your feet."

Missa's heart felt like it was going to beat out of her chest. To make matters worse, she could see J'gol had been eyeing her in concern his entire speech. He didn't say anything to her but she knew what he was thinking because she was thinking the same thing - I'm not going to be able to do this. And if she couldn't do this, then they would never let her fly Fall.

"I call 'go', then pick up your sack and then we'll see how you do," J'gol said. "I don't expect perfection, and you shouldn't expect perfection from your clutchmates either. We'll learn together and then by the time you're ready to have your own weyrs, throwing firestone will be something you won't even have to think about."

"Ready? Go." She picked up the sack. She heaved it up almost above her head. Missa tried swinging the bag but the weight of the firestone put it above her center of gravity and she almost fell over onto her side. She tried recovering by steadying herself and handing the sack to the weyrling standing next to her but it was too late by then. The whole process had stalled and they all looked at her.

"It's fine," J'gol said. "Let's try it again. Ready? And go."

Again, she picked up the sack and hefted it up and went to swing it, but the bottom of the bag snagged on the ground and she didn't have the strength to compensate for the lack of momentum. The sack ended up on its side spilling some of the rock from the top. A general groan went up from the weyrlings.

J'gol stood in front of Missa. "Well, girl, we have a problem. Let's meet together after dinner. Give us both of us time to think about the problem, see if we can come up with a solution. For now, go find Wirrela and help out in the kitchens."

Missa nodded, trying to hold back the tears. She got up on Nosey and made her way to the kitchens. She wiped the moisture away from her eyes and tried to compose herself. The last thing she needed was Mirtha and her ilk taking jabs at her. Hopefully, they wouldn't find out why she was early for chores. She got on her wheeled board and went inside.

"Well, my dear, you're a little early today," Wirrela said. Missa winced. "We have some cups and other crockery that needs a good scrubbing before dinner."

Missa hoped her sigh of relief wasn't too audible. It was bad enough that she'd been sent to chores early, but she didn't relish the idea of spending more time with the kitchen girls than she had to. The hostility she'd experienced when she had first gotten to the weyr was a brook compared to the roaring river it became once she'd Impressed Apeth. She wheeled herself over to the dishwater and started scrubbing. She hummed to herself. Dawn flew in the room and landed on a chair nearby. The little gold added her own accompaniment to Missa's song.

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