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Yawning and stretching, Sallyn made her way down the hallway of her weyr to the couch where lovely Thalleth slept peacefully.  Absently the girl pulled on her riding jacket against the morning chill and scratched the eye ridges of her dragon.  The queen sighed in her sleep and turned her head slightly towards her rider's caress.  She was so very beautiful this morning!

It was then that it struck Sallyn just why she thought Thalleth's color was such an alluringly bright, clear gold – she was likely to rise today!  A thrill of excitement swept through her and she quickly made her way down the stone steps to the Bowl below.  She was going to have to tell the Weyrwoman to send the other queens away.

As she went, she realized it was later in the morning than she had first assumed.  Also from looking around, she found that none of the queens were lounging along the Rim, nor were they sitting at the lips of their weyrs.

Well then, it looked like someone had noticed Thalleth's condition and had already taken action.  How wonderful!  She was repeatedly amazed at the clockwork efficiency of the Weyr.  People here really knew their stuff!

Humming a merry Gather tune, Sallyn walked over to a young blue rider who had just finished oiling his dragon.

"Good morning," she said cheerfully.  "D'rand is it?  Could I trouble you to give me a lift up to H'lania's weyr?"

"H'lania?  Why?" the boy asked.  "She isn't here."

"Isn't-?" the bottom dropped out.  Keeping her voice calm she said, "What do you mean?  Where is she?"

"There was a shipwreck off the Tillek coast last night.  S'ligar sent her to rescue survivors and to pull the ship into port."

"Thank you," Sallyn replied as evenly as she could and then hastily walked away – no need to explode in front of a hapless weyrling.

As she stalked over to the Lower Caverns she fiercely hoped it had just been an honest mistake.  Maybe it wasn't apparent that Thalleth would fly today when they had sent H'lania out.  Maybe only Falga had noticed and not thought to tell the Weyrleader.  Surely it was known Sallyn had wanted H'lania present for Thalleth's mating flight!

The various options she ran through her head in an attempt to convince herself the Weyrleader wouldn't do something so pretentious only served to agitate her more so by the time she came up to S'ligar leaning back in a chair, chatting casually with his Wingleaders, she demanded hotly, "Why did you do it?!  Why did you send her away?!"

The Weyrleader settled his chair back onto all four legs and looked at her coolly.  "A ship ran aground off the…"

"I know that!" she shrieked.  "You could have sent a brown though.  You could have sent two blues.  You could have sent the whole bloody Weyr!  Why did you send her?!"

"It's for the best," he replied, but he couldn't look her in the eye now.

"For the best?" her voice dropped now to a dark whisper.  "Best for me or best for you?"

His eyes snapped to hers this time, flashing with anger.  He slowly reined in his emotions before answering.  "What you do on your own time is your business whether I agree with it or not, but when a queen rises to mate it's between a man and a woman.  Make sure you understand that Sallyn.  There's no place in a mating flight for a woman bronze rider."

"Call her back!" she demanded.

He leaned towards her and said solidly, "No."

"Call her back!" she screeched.

An answering cry echoed through the Weyr.  Thalleth was awake!

Sallyn dashed out of the Caverns followed closely by the bronze riders.  Thalleth was stretching luxuriously on the weyr ledge – her wings pulled out to their full spread, her neck arched in a deep curve.  She let out another high-pitched call and hopped lightly into the air as though she didn't weight several tons but was rather as buoyant as a leaf on the wind.

Sallyn was in a panic, trying desperately not to be overcome by her dragon's lusty emotions.  "Call her back please!" she sobbed, plucking futilely at S'ligar's sleeve.  He completely ignored her though; all the bronze and many of the brown riders had already started gathering around her, their full attention was on the glowing Thalleth.  

The queen drifted over to the herd pens and deftly plucked a terrified beast from the stampede.

"Blood!" Sallyn ordered when she realized her dragon intended to swallow the herdbeast whole.  Thalleth arched her neck in defiance but finally obeyed and took a firm hold of the fresh carcass' neck, sucking it dry.

She roared and struck again.  Sallyn's own blood was pounding in her ears.  What could she do?  She was perfectly trapped.

"Blood Thalleth!  Only blood!" Then, "Get away from me you filthy brutes!" she said, shoving away the riders who were getting uncomfortably close to her.

She hadn't pictured it'd be this way!  H'lania was supposed to be here.  It was supposed to be a fair flight.  

Then an idea struck her; Tillek eh?  Without a second thought Sallyn made a sudden dash for the beast pens.  The bronze and brown riders - caught up in the intensity of their dragons' attention on the still-feeding queen – were slow to realize their prize was no longer standing in their midst.

The delay was enough for her.  Sallyn sprinted across the Bowl fumbling to get her riding jacket closed as she ran and occasionally shouting, "Only blood Thalleth!"

The queen was on her third herdbeast now.  How much time did she have?  Would she make it to her queen before she rose?

She heard shouts from the behind her.  "What is she doing?" "She'll be killed!" "Someone stop her!"  But there was going to be no catching her – she was long-legged and running with a purpose, no one was going to a lay a hand on her.

She got to the pens just as Thalleth lighted on her fourth kill.  She hadn't bothered taking this one up to a ledge to feed – all the better.  The queen also didn't need to be reminded to only blood the kill – she felt now the strength the hot blood gave her, how she felt light and able to fly high and long.  Sallyn could feel it too and it took every fiber of her being not to be caught up in that glorious feeling of power.  She'd never before felt so incredibly invincible.

Carefully she crept along the side of her feeding dragon.  The smell of disemboweled herdbeasts was strong and terrifying.  There was real danger here for Thalleth could just as easily rake Sallyn's body along with the herdbeast's and not know it.  For the first time since Impressing, Sallyn feared her dragon.

Carefully, without the aid of riding straps, she climbed up the side of her hissing, feeding queen.  Once on her back, she flattened herself along the long, lean neck – hoping the increased physical contact would help her control her wild queen.

"Thalleth, Thalleth!  Listen!" the queen paused, but only briefly.  "Thalleth!  Can you find Praneth?"

Praneth? the queen snickered.  He won't catch me!

"He won't because he's not here.  Don't you want to race Praneth though?  Don't you want to prove to him how strong and uncatchable you are?"  The queen paused again.  "Don't you want to give these bronzes a chase they'll never forget?"  Thalleth blinked.  "Then find Praneth!  We've done it before – go to where he is now!"

Thalleth hesitated.  Going between will chill the blood in my belly.

Sallyn was desperate.  "Surely there's herdbeasts where Praneth is; big fat ones that will make you even stronger.  Find Praneth and make these bronzes really chase you!"

A deep rumbling dragon-laugh rose up in Thalleth's chest and she flung herself into the air, forcing Sallyn to hang on for dear life.  The bronzes waiting on the Rim sprang up too, ready to chase their queen.

Thalleth was above the Bowl in two mighty wing strokes and then – to the surprise of the bronzes and everyone else in the Weyr – she disappeared with her rider on her back.
This is a Dragonriders of Pern fanfic that takes place two Turns after the book "Moreta".
Please see the 1st Chapter write-up (link at bottom) for more details.

Epic climax cliffhanger!!!
Yes, I'm rather cruel dropping it off right there, but that just means there's next week to see how it ends!!!

These last two chapters were written ages ago and have changed little in the typed version. I love mating flights and this piece adds a fun little twist to things.

Hope you like! Please come back next week for the conclusion :)
(PS - Early upload as I'll be Trekking this weekend)

Updated every Friday (or somewhere there-abouts)

New to the story? Start from the beginning:
Chapter 1: [link]

Go back to the previous Chapter:
Chapter 17: [link]

Or continue to the last Chapter:
Chapter 19: [link]
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:iconcollon28:
Collon28 Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
That was even more exciting since I recently read about how a mating flight actually goes (as was the case with F'lar and Lessa, plus their respective dragons). Quite an interesting twist indeed.
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:iconkiuslady:
KiusLady Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Wootz! So happy you had some reference to go from!
Mating flights are indeed da bomb :)
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:iconeyotapern:
eyotapern Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2010
Cliffie, indeed. D: I've enjoyed reading this so far.
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:iconkiuslady:
KiusLady Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm so glad you're liking it!
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:iconeyotapern:
eyotapern Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2010
Thanks. 83
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:iconeyotapern:
eyotapern Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2010
Cliffie, indeed. D: I've enjoyed reading this so far.
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