Who

Majel, Zeyta

What

Wrapping up a loose end in the cantina, Majel runs into Zeyta. The two size one another up and discuss wing placement.

When

It is sunset of the tenth day of the tenth month of the first turn of the 12th pass.

Where

Dustbowl Cantina, Igen Weyr

OOC Date

 

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Dustbowl Cantina

To enter the Dustbowl Cantina is to descend: the heart of the ancient tavern lies half underground, at the foot of ancient steps, insulated from summer heat and winter cold by the volcanic rock surrounding it. A windowless place well-lit by glows, it is homey, even cozy, with a certain bijou charm - but for the deep gouges worn in wooden table and solid stone, some clearly lingering evidence of boisterous brawling. The wall behind the well-polished bar, though, remains free from scars or graffiti, as does the door into the small kitchen, and the stairwell up into the owner's quarters: the barkeep and his staff reign, and they guard their territory well. After all, only a fool angers the source of the booze.


Sunset and waning daylight hours signal the work weary to seek respite in a drink at the bar, explaining the evening crowd beginning to trickle into the Dustbowl Cantina. A previous fixture from late afternoon when the tavern was all but deserted: Zeyta, seated at the corner of the counter, self-barricaded by a stack of hides and a ledger open in front of her. A glass of water constantly replenished in a silent exchange when near empty and a basket of pub chips further crowd her personal space, little attention heeded to those around her. The only living things to distract her are the two fat golden queens who alternate claiming a perch on her shoulder, squawking until a hand ferries a morsel into a waiting mouth.

Majel hasn't often set foot in the cantina since the last of Neb's business meetings that she attended as one of his associates. Personal pastime preferences aside, neither candidacy nor early weyrlinghood came with the appropriate opportunities or means to re-enter a place once familiar for its people and sounds. Tonight, however, she enters with purpose: portly, graying Neb may still be shooting her dirty looks, but he seems somewhat mollified as she drops the cost of a beer into his hand and they part ways at the entrance. Some may have passed them talking in his stall; while it couldn't be accurate to say that all is water under the bridge between former employer and employee, there was at least conversation held at a reasonable volume without shouting from the merchant's end. The bluerider's expression remains indifferent as she slides into a free seat at the counter, which happens to be one down from Zeyta, ordering a water and a fried vegetable something-or-other.

The scratch of a stylus tip against vellum fades against the growing din of conversation around Zeyta. Back straight, posture stiff, she represents order among chaos, a private figure among socializing others with her head tilted down and focused on the page before her, slowly filled with her tidy script. Reaching some terminal point (marked by punctuation!), she breaks from her industrious mode to sip from her glass and appraise those around her. Harsh and unyielding, her scrutiny revolves around the room until it reaches the person closest to her. First thing first: she seeks out the knot on her shoulder, mentally filing it away for future reference. Then, and only then, she dips her chin forward in the barest of nods, her general demeanor dismissive but not altogether uninviting.

That almost-there nod is returned in kind, as the weyrling has been assessing the bar's other occupants in much the same manner. Similarly, hazel eyes flick to the other's shoulderknot, then sharply over the stiff posture, the equally distant demeanor before settling on the woman's face, then the stacks of hides. "I'd find the noise too much of an annoyance, " Majel says evenly in greeting, accompanied by a quick, terribly crisp salute. "Ma'am." Despite the recent lift in restrictions for her class, she seems content to nurse her ice-water, expression neutral.

Zeyta's stare has a hard luster, bright as precious stone and as unfeeling as the topaz from which it borrows its color. Blinking, she glances down at her work, lining up her writing instrument against the edge of the page and offering a roll of her shoulders. "Mm, half of a candlemark ago it was but empty. One can only endure the must of the archives or the formality of the council chambers for so long." Given her disposition, the brownrider possesses a greater professional stamina than most, too. Smirking at the weyrling's hastily added salute, she flicks a hand, dispelling the need for such decorum even if she herself observes it. "Zeyta, brown Kczsylawborth's own, and of Whirlwind."

Majel's own stare is neither hard nor unfeeling, but analytical, indifferently studying Zeyta's speech and mannerisms even as she herself adopts a slightly more relaxed, if still straight-backed posture. On the surface, at least, they certainly don't seem so very different. "Majel, blue Dyxath's, " she replies briskly. An eyebrow arches slightly. "If I'm fortunate, I may yet get to say I'm of the same at some distant point in the future." For now, however, there's little need to specify the one to which she belongs.

Zeyta picks up a pub chip, snapping it in half against the side of the basket, eating the salted remainder still in her grip. She chews, jaw grinding methodic, circular. "Ah. Wing tapping will be upon us all soon, hm." Not so different in appearance, no: but beneath the surface lurks a predator, peeking through her stoic facade in subtle measure, like the sharp smile she bares. "But why Whirlwind. As a chromatic female 'rider, your first choice might be Arroyo," says the pot to the kettle — but then, she looks very sure of herself.

"Might, " Majel repeats as she pulls her glass close for another, slow sip. Such a subjunctive little verb, that. "And it very well could be, I suppose - not that my preference will ultimately have any say in where I'm placed." Her fork is lifted from her basket to gesture briefly in Zeyta's direction. "You fly with the weyrleader's wing, however." It's pointed, but polite. "Why aren't you in Arroyo, if that's where a female rider of a fighting dragon might prefer to be?"

Zeyta dusts her fingers on a napkin, done with the crunching of her food as she chases the bite with a small draw of water through a straw. Pursing her lips, she shakes her head. "It counts. If it didn't, we wouldn't have such practices as wing transfers," she opines, nodding in affirmation of Majel's statement of fact. "I do." Clarion and monotone, she speaks with the dull weight of authority. "I work with the Weyrsecond and am unable to do so as closely by being in a different wing. So: why Whirlwind for you."

Majel deliberately chews through a bite or two of her appetizer while she listens, head tilting briefly in a brief nod. "Sensible enough, " she allows after swallowing, "but political atmospheres aside, who wouldn't want the opportunity to fly with Whirlwind? It's well-known to have a high standard of performance." Her tone is about as bland as one remarking on Igen's three-hundredth sandstorm, but her gaze is alert and watchful by contrast. "In the end, I'd rather be placed where Dyxath and I would work most efficiently in the weyrleader's bigger strategy, no matter which wing that ends up being." The needs of the many, and all that.

"That I am," Zeyta accepts, glass clinking as she replaces it on the counter. She bookmarks her place in her ledger, closing it and sliding it to her side. Engaged in the conversation, she maintains strict composure. "Competency comes at a cost. I suppose it depends on your personal viewpoints, but W'rin's traditional stance can be somewhat restricting. Granted, Whirlwind is not Hogback." Playing devil's advocate through wintry regard, she offers her contrarian's points, gauging for reaction. "Mm. I suppose serving where you are most needed is one approach."

Competency does come with different costs in the here and now; this, Majel knows all too well. "It's hard to argue with statistics, whatever the personal viewpoints of one's wingleader." Still, there's a side-glance that slants toward the other as she neatly pries another piece of fried onion from its fellows. "What would you suggest to be a more logical approach?" she queries evenly. "We haven't drilled with any of the wings yet, so we don't have much to work with other than hearsay, reputation and first-hand accounts from their members."

"Mm, opinion can be organized into data. The qualitative can be as informative as the quantitative," argues the seasoned archivist. Zeyta extracts a sheet of loose-leaf paper to scribble a quick note, folding it along a crease down the middle, lengthwise. "Logical. Mm, there's not real /logical/ way of going about it. Somewhere, you have to factor in your temperament and ambitions to see if you are a match with your wing in those respects." She nods at Majel. "You'll have plenty exposure in the coming sevendays. Then you can, mm, evaluate. But Whirlwind is a fine choice."

"I suppose one's feelings must be taken into consideration, " Majel grudgingly admits, pushing her nearly-empty basket and half-drained glass to the side. "It's something I have to be reminded of every now and then." Appraising, now, is the look she casts over Zeyta. "Thank you for sharing your time and your reason. It is, " and she pauses briefly before settling on a calm, "appreciated." Handing payment across the bar for her small tab, she hops smoothly from her seat, movements precise. "Ma'am." Salute. "Good evening. I'm pleased to have met you." It's a genuine sentiment that lacks artifice, however neutral its delivery. The corners of her mouth might twitch into an almost-flash of a polite smile.

"Eventually. You are more than a cog in the machine; we are more than just Thread fighters." To contribute more of her sage wisdom. Zeyta lifts both brows, forehead furrowing at her expression of gratitude, mouth thinning out into a firm-pressed line, parting to say, "You are welcome. You stood up well to the challenges posed you." A potential compliment, it loses all trace of flattery when processed through her colorless voice, devoid of revealing inflection. Well entrenched in her corner and her work, she seems content to try her concentration amidst the noise a while longer yet. "Clear skies, weyrling," she bids in farewell, watching Majel until she departs through the door. Then: more writing in solemn solitude, amicability spent.

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