Who

T'ral, Cha'el

What

T'ral and the Weyrleader get acquainted. T'ral's new orders STINK.

When

It is before dawn of the twenty-eighth day of the first month of the third turn of the 12th pass.

Where

Southern Weyr

OOC Date

 

t-ral_right.jpg Chael16.jpg

beach.jpg

Beach

An eerie mirror, the glass-quiet Sea of Azov: the clear waters stretch along the dark-pebbled shores, and along this narrow beach. Here the faintest lap of waves belies the calm beyond; here the rocks have been ground down into finest, softest sand - those observant would mark upon the similarity between it and the sands of the hatching grounds. The soft sand soaks up summer sunlight as a sponge; painfully hot during the warmer months, it is only truly pleasant at wintertime. Rocks rise to east and west, lichen-limned and green against the abyssal darkness of stone.

It is the eighty-eighth day of Summer and 95 degrees. The morning dawns clear and humid.


T’ral is punching above his weight class. It’s become a thing with him this past Turn, apparently. Toe-to-toe with K’ane… making time with Catryn (come on, she’s waaaay out of his league)… and now facing off against Esanth. Orders of MAGNITUDE above his weight class. Esanth, for his part, is crouched, wings held tight, high, tail lashing back and forth, head low. T’ral is bouncing on his toes, squared up studying his ‘opponent.’ It’s nearly impossible for either one of them to surprise the other… nothing like a mindlink to ‘telegraph’ attacks, but T’ral still has to actually dodge those paws when they come swiping at him and leap that tail when it lashes past. The latter is hardest in the sand. And T’ral’s failures are evident in the head to toe crusting of sand to sweat-slick skin, like some confection Ardstelle would make. But T’ral is, as ever, undaunted. The bluefighter leans back out of the slash of Esanth’s swat -popPOP- landing two sharp blows on the meaty foreleg as it passes. “Faster,” T’ral pants, even as Esanth’s tail comes sweeping in. Crap. The sneaky bastard had ‘hidden’ it, deliberately blending in with the sensory input of waves in periphery with the rush of his tail. T’ral’s leap is late, but enough that rather than plow him over the tail neatly clips the rider’s legs right out from under him. TIMBER! He goes down flat on his back. THUD. “Hhhhhhhhh,” T’ral wheezes. Esanth’s head tilts to the side, blinking at T’ral, eyes whirling a steady blue-green. The dragon seems rather unperturbed by T’ral’s state. Maybe even a little impatient, tip of that sweeping tail, taptaptapping.

In between the pound of the surf curling up along the shoreline, is interspersed the steady beat of bared feet hitting the damp with the occasional splash when a waves rolls in higher than the others. The breathing of the jogger is the steady and even pace of one for whom this is a daily routine that puts him at the peak physical condition. They are but a dark silhouette against the faint stain of light beginning to creep up along the horizon but clearly male and of brawny build wearing shorts with a sleeveless vest tucked into the waistband. It’s the thud that catches the jogger’s attention, the pace slowing and then halting altogether once he’s drawn close enough to ascertain the situation. Now there’s something you don’t see every day!! Man vs dragon. That the dragon wins, is expected. Hands to hips, chest damp with sweat and heaving, Cha’el cocks his head to one side and eyes the bluerider splayed on the sand before him. “You know, if its dancing lessons you’re looking for, I hear Bailey’s pretty light on her feet.”

False dawn. The twilit Southern sky is clear, though the stars T'ral sees might not be real. The scent of salt on the damp breeze, the vast expanse of blue, the rhythmic roar of the surf all fill the chest, the head, with a sense of quiet that lingers well beyond sight. Esanth relaxes from his crouch, rumbling a greeting at the Weyrleader, his tail's taptaptapping ceased as Sikorth's rider draws near. Just now the roar is T'ral's blood in his ears. The pounding in his head. The Weyrleader's approach is noted through the brief paralysis of stolen breath. While labored, it is not the Weyrwoman's halting gravel-edged rasp, "Morning…" a grunt, "Sir." Out of uniform, no knots… no salute, but laying prone to wheeze at the man's feet? That ain't happening. Gritted teeth on a hitched inhalation see T'ral's legs tucked up to his chest and, despite the traitorous shifting of the sands, rolling back over a shoulder the bluerider is on his feet in a trice. It is perhaps a testament to just how many times he's done this that he doesn't bother to dust off the sand. "She does…" he winces, straightening as hands lace behind his head, expanding the torso that still would still rather be sprawled out flat, wheezing, thankyouverymuch, "Like to… hit me." A grimace, breath deliberately caught, a spasming diaphragm breathed through, "Sir." A short breath, not wheezed, "Do you have a minute?" He tosses his head at the shoreline, "We can press on," with the running.

Sikorth, usually soaring the dawn thermals keeping an eye on his ‘recruit’ on the ground, is absent this day having taken a wild herdbeast he’d snared up to Dhiammarath at the Hold. Cha’el isn’t a total prick and had reaches out a hand to help the downed bluerider up. That is until he performs an acrobatic move that one built like the Weyrleader simply isn’t supple enough to pull off. Hauling his vest from where its tucked into the waistband of his short, he swipes it across his face and then his hair, causing dark semi-curls to stick upward in several directions a grunt of amusement muffled into the fabric. “Playground 101. Girls hit the ones they like.” Glancing skyward – perhaps checking that his ‘drill instructor’ hasn’t suddenly appeared, Cha’el shakes his head. “Here’s good. Something on your mind?”

T'ral's snort is eloquent, his tone wry as hands come unlinked, "She likes me right upside the head." The EAR. Bailey. Why the EAR? He does dust himself somewhat now. "A couple things. Um…" The bluerider's brows knit, eyes dropping to the sand, "I went to sit with the Weyrwoman," dusting hands still as the rider's dark eyes seek Cha'el's, he pauses, breath to underscore the hesitation he feels voicing what follows, "I'm not sure if it was the fellis, but the Weyrwoman, Sir, she insists that the convict we collared," his face scrunches, "Is innocent." He shrugs, "There's some logic to it, but pain and fellis and trauma…" He tips his head, scratching at his beard, brows canted in query to gauge what the Weyrleader is making of this. "Not exactly reliable."

Lopsided and faint, there is nonetheless a grin for T’ral’s remark about Bailey. She’s a firecracker that one!! Good luck to the man with balls big enough to brave getting close. Sharp the look Cha’el swings onto the bluerider from where his gaze had been roaming the dawning horizon. “She told you that?” He doesn’t look particularly surprised to hear it though. “Aye. So she says.” Neither does he look very convinced. With lips thinning attention drifts back to pinkening sliver of sky and a heavy pause of silence stretches out. “What I want to know is how this fucker is managing to move so freely around the Hold.” He could be meaning the convict under discussion.

"She did. Does." the bluerider's eyes are clear, solemn as he tracks the Weyrleader's dawnward gaze. "At some cost to her comfort. It seemed important to her, Sir." Under the bristles of the neat crop of his beard, jaw muscles bunch. T'ral's eyes narrow, considering what the Weyrleader's tossed out and how one might move about the Hold unseen. "Wait," he holds out a forestalling hand, "To which 'this fucker' do you refer?" Because he's made assumptions with Leadership already and while Cha'el isn't struggling to breathe, it's not a mistake he plans to repeat.

That this convict is important to Hannah for whatever reason goes undisputed though its evident the Weyrleader isn’t in the least bit happy about it. Any further thoughts on the matter are for the time being, kept to himself. “Either or.” Cha’el returns fitting T’ral with a tight smile and the prompting lift of a brow that encourages the bluerider to show his mettle and make an assumptive leap in logic.

T'ral, for his part, believes the Weyrwoman. "I've heard an awful lot of fellis-addled confessions and testimonials and this one… this one adds up." Though not really because of Hannah's word, more the attacks that followed. He shivers… the keening of dragons outside of Fall snapped every rider's attention Southward. Shrill, gutsick alarm until Dhiammarath's own voice had been sensed in the rising sorrow. No one had been able to make it to L'ri's side in time. T'ral's mouth thins, chin lifting. Esanth's croon is a multi-tonal utterance, a haunting lament. Lungs eased with time and rest fill, T'ral cocks his head at the Weyrleader. He himself had been thinking of the killer. "'Either or'…"' T'ral repeats. Confirmation of at least a duality in the Weyrleader's mind and that killer or convict could fit the bill. That revelation is a jolt and those stormcloud brows and eyes beg a different question, "Was the convict… moving about unaccounted for?" Pardon T'ral if his bright tenor is sharp with disbelief. Teeth bare and the bluerider's eyes slash away. What the hell is going on up there? Some of that may have been muttered.

“Aye. He must have been. How else could he have been found with her?” FINALLY, someone can see the problem he does. A glaring big red flag. “He may not have done it but if he found a way to get out of his cell, then it stands to reason that another could have done the same.” Another such as the Hold killer. “I need someone on the inside. Someone who can blend in and has an eye for detail and a means to report back without a paper trail.” Cha’el muses aloud gaze tracking a pod of dolphins playing just beyond the breakers.

"You tell me, Sir." T'ral shakes his head, eyes tight with disbelief, "He wasn't accounted for? The…" T'ral's standing, loose-limbed, blood still singing from his workout, "Guards didn't know?" Disbelief adds extra bonelessness to his posture. He's still digesting this. Give him a minute, folks. "Surely someone knew." T'ral puffs out a breath at Cha'el's last, "That's a…" T'ral dusts ineffectually at the sand on his chest and, giving up there, arms… yeah, that's no good either. He's gonna be gritty and chafing for DAYS, "…tall order, Sir. ‘t’d take sevens to cultivate a man inside." Dust, dust. Frown. Esanth settles onto the sand, wings spreading in anticipation of Rukbat's rays slipping up over the rim of the earth. Waiting for the light to dawn.

“That’s the thing. The guards tell me he was accounted for at last head count before curfew. But somehow, between then and when they found him with Hannah, he was able to get out.” There’s a pause of speech filled by a huff of frustration. “I’m not sure he’s the issue. Not sure what he is.” For the Weyrleader hasn’t quite figured this strangeness with his weyrwoman and the convict out yet beyond the stated title of informant. Sideways Cha’el’s gaze slides with T’ral put under a quick head to toe assessment. “Maybe not.” He replies of how long it would take to find the right man to position in the Hold. Then comes what perhaps might be a really odd order. “When you’re done here.” A glance goes over to Esanth. “Don’t bathe. In fact, I don’t want you bathing until you hear from me again.” Enigmatic? Or has the brownrider just lost his mind under the heavy weight of stress bearing down on broad shoulders?

T’ral listens, looking between his sandiness and the Weyrleader’s frustrated recollections, squinting at the sticking sand. One would think, in three turns, he’d know that there was no real recourse here except a plunge in the sea. Or a bath. Or… wait. What? T’ral, still swiping at sand, the grit biting as he swats, laughs, “Yes, Sir.” He’s clearly enjoying the older man’s turn of humor. He looks up and tracks Cha’el’s fathomless blue gaze to Esanth. He blinks and looks at Esanth. Back at Cha’el, a laugh again, uncertain, “And no flatware at Mess too, right?”

Look at Cha’el, T’ral does he look like he’s kidding? Actually, while features are set about a deadpan expression, there is a glint of humor in those eyes that so closely match the ocean in color. “Flatware’s fine.” Still not laughing. “And don’t shave either.” Hobo bluerider in the making. And after dropping that added little gem, the Weyrleader claps the other rider on the shoulder, offers him a mysterious twist of lips and then he’s turning himself about and jogging back the way he’d come.

Esanth is still waiting for light to dawn on the little sandy tableau as the Weyrleader trots away. The bluerider's head comes up at that meaty paw on his shoulder. "Don't…" T'ral blinks and can't make heads or tails of the Weyrleader's expression before the man has pivoted and jogged off. Still blinking, T'ral looks at Esanth, "Don't shave?" Esanth rumbles. The Weyrleader is batshit insane. T'ral had revisited his misgivings about the man, he was proving a competent leader, but this little encounter is just… strange. Time to revisit those opinions again. T'ral shakes his head and heads towards the surf… only one way to get rid of all this sand. Take a dunk. He trots towards the waves, shaking out first one leg then the other, no reason not to shake as much as possible loose before he hits that sweet, blessed surf.

Having turned to jog backwards, possibly because he’d anticipated that T’ral might attempt this BRB,very move, Cha’el bellows from down the beach. “I SAID NO BATHING!! NO SWIMMING. NO SHAVING. NO CLEANSING WHATSOEVER!!” Does that sound like order enough? Perhaps the parade ground stance the Weyrleader adopts with hands shoved to lean hips will add further weight. “I WANT YOU STINKING LIKE A PORCINE IN HEAT!!” Which probably just muddies the confused waters of T’ral’s poor brain. “AND THAT’S AN ORDER!!” No confusion on that one.

T'ral's foot comes down on the sturdier wet sand just shy of the sweet relief of onrushing waves. The Weyrleader's bellow echoes off the boulders, lifts Esanth's head, rings in T'ral's ears and turns of training draw him up short, skidding, heels trenching the sand, water swirling into the channels dug by his abrupt halt. His head comes up and he pivots smartly squaring up and snapping a salute, grim-faced. "Yes, Sir. Permission to ask a question, Sir." Ridiculous Orders, meet By-the-book.

Just as he’s about to turn back around again, T’ral snaps off that salute. From way down the beach, blue eyes narrow and lips thin slightly for the Weyrleader isn’t a man used to having his orders questioned. These are, however, unusual times and those are unusual orders that have been given. And so, exhaling a steadying sigh, hands drop from hips and Cha’el closes the distance between them, the shouting of earlier having been a necessity to bridge the distance and compete with the pound of an incoming tide. Coming to a halt close enough that this now won’t be necessary, the brownrider sets the bluerider with an unreadable look. “Permission to speak freely.” Which doesn’t mean that he’s likely to in return.

“Am I dismissed from Dragonhealing, Sir?" Really T'ral wants to know if he's being punished somehow, but there wasn't anything he would be being punished for. But hygeine… hygeine wasn't one of those negotiable things and given all the young man's been pouring into his training in the absence of weyrlings -travelling Pern to train with other healers, pulling more and longer shifts- it's a blow to a man feeling underutilized as it is.

In silence Cha’el considers this query broken by the humorless lift to a corner of his mouth. “No. You may simply be taking a leave of absence.” With the sky lightening quickly, other fitness fiends are beginning to spill out onto the beach, the window of private discussion fast closing. “Do you trust me, T’ral?”

T'ral's eyes tighten. Up the beach, Esanth heaves to his feet, shaking himself, nose to fork, wings rustling as they settle, folded along his sides. A leave of absence. Why? He knows better than to ask. Especially if the man IS batshit insane. And signs are pointing to 'yes.' Though that humorless look is … lucid. Piercing. He blinks at that question. It's an easy question to answer. No. They don't share the bond of having flown Thread. T'ral has mostly trained weyrlings for Cha'el and cleaned up the casualties of Cha'el's strange tenure. Beyond this encounter and courtesies… they've never spoken. He doesn't have any functional recollection to really compare Q'fex and Cha'el, but… No. is the simple answer. But there is a trust they share, a bond. The dragons. There is no sign of doubt in T'ral's eyes or his voice when he answers, "I trust your leadership, Sir." Trust the chain, trust the knot. Trust the dragons. It is not the same as trusting the man. But it suffices.

Cha’el had had no expectations of the type of answer the bluerider might give and if not for what he currently has in mind for him, he would probably find himself slapped with a wingrider’s knot and put back into service fighting thread. Every warm body very much needed at this point. It’s to this that he speaks after a long stretch of contemplative silence. “When you get back.” From where? “I want the pair of you back in a fighting wing. You can resume your duties as a dragonhealer but not exclusively so. We can no longer afford the absence of an able-bodied fighting pair.” Having said that, there is at least a faint smile though its cast in an enigmatic line. “I may have an assignment for you that requires a certain level of…” That smile turns toward a smirk. “Credibility.” Hence the lack of hygiene. “But I need to know that you’re prepared to follow orders without hesitation no matter whether they make sense to you or not. Hesitation kills.”

Say what you will about the man's 'teambuilding skills,' up close Cha'el has an undeniable presence. Solid. Powerful. Present. Though there's an edge that saws through all that solidity, a thrumming energy in the man… in the moment, it's hard to determine that's charisma or madness or if the two are really separate. The contemplative silence and the seriousness are tipping the scales towards the former. Questions. SO MANY QUESTIONS. T'ral blinks at 'credibility.' MORE QUESTIONS. What on Pern would measure credibility by smelling like livestock? He's already itching. ALL THE QUESTIONS. He gives voice to one, because there are things he can do to facilitate matters, "By what time should I should be stinking like a porcine, Sir?"

It's sorta like 'how high?'

Unaware of how he’s being silently assessed himself, Cha’el takes a step backward and hikes a brow, a sliver of dark amusement allowed to play out. “Coupla days should do it if you keep up the hijinx with Esanth over there. Maybe scrub a few latrines, haul some firestone.” Anything that will enhance the Eau-De-Cockroach. High enough for you, bluerider? “Get your house in order, T’ral. Might be a while before you’re able to sweep your ledge again.” Sound ominous? Does it add to the buuuuurn of questions playing ping-pong in the brain yet? With a twitch of lips that speaks to amusement being suppressed that doesn’t quite reach eyes shadowed by the necessity of such things, the Weyrleader swings about and jogs off, angling his path back toward the Weyr. No turning back.

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