[META] hybrid at the gates

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[META] hybrid at the gates

tuathade
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tuathade
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Joined: April 28th, 2011, 12:54 am

November 20th, 2011, 3:49 am #1

...R'ley?

It was very, very unusual for Normandith to bespeak anyone directly, with the exception of his rider. However, this situation more or less demanded it. Shepard was not currently in the weyr, and Nostromoth...

Well, it simply didn't seem appropriate to go to Nostromoth with this particular request.

I am sorry to bother you. But the hybrid - the prototype - is just outside. He is most insistent that he needs to see you immediately, and claims the matter is both urgent and private.

Alex hissed, teeth bared in a snarl, but merely paced in front of the ground weyr that R'ley and Sh'ard shared. For the moment, a massive silver bulk was settled across his path, preventing him from approaching any further. Normandith's posture was serene, sphinxlike; there was nothing overtly aggressive in the silver's demeanor, but Alex could see the deep red-orange of the big dragon's eyes, and knew it for the warning that it was. It would be... unwise... to attempt to approach within Normandith's striking distance.

The hybrid could only hope that R'ley would trust him enough to let him in, just this once.
[x] (969696) Weyrleader Sh'ard of silver Normandith
[x] (595A80) Jr. Queenrider C'ross of pearl Iassenth
[x] (0A116E) Sr. Weyrling L'ir of blue Dolosventh
[x] (00AAFF) Rover/AI "Sam"
[x] (AAB574) Journeyman Seacrafter Rodana of green Rodansk
[x] (C4A55A) Wherhandler Matthew Grayson of brown Graysk
[x] (4D0000) Prototype Hybrid Alex
[x] (oooooo) Candidate/Glasscrafter Miskael
[x] (oooooo) Apprentice Dragonhealer Thomas Sinclair %mh%-195%mh%
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giftwrapped
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Joined: April 8th, 2011, 5:44 pm

November 20th, 2011, 9:10 am #2

At her desk, actually doing work for once, R'ley paused and frowned. That voice...she had heard it a few times, when he was calling to the Weyr at large, or in words as relayed by Nostromoth - and there had been a few times where he had spoken to her (though she could count them on one hand), but they had always been rare. "Normandith?" she said, frowning slightly. Sh'ard was gone for the afternoon, but Norm had stayed while his rider wandered off to do whatever Weyrleadery thing she got up to. R'ley's dragon was there too, of course, but Mother was asleep, as far as she could tell.

And then the silver's request actually occurred to her, and she blinked. Alex was demanding entrance? Thin lips pulled thinner, then down in a scowl. If Alex was coming to bother her, it either meant something had gone terribly, terribly wrong, or he was going to kill her and leave her bleeding to death in the weyr. She doubted the latter, though. Queen compulsion had worked astonishingly well on the hybrid, from what she could tell. And if he killed her, Normandith would kill him. At least it made the latter unlikely. In the back of her mind, her own dragon stirred.

Let him in, Nostromoth suggested, opening one enormous eye and cocking her head down at the hybrid from her place on the ledge. Whatever he has to say must be important. She considered saying as much to Normandith, but if the silver had elected to bespeak her rider, she saw no point in interrupting the flow of things. For now. The eye closed again, gold rumbling complacently and shifting so she was no longer looking at her mate or the hybrid. It wasn't important, really.

"....Go ahead, Norm," R'ley called, frowning and standing up. She set her papers aside, shaking her head and standing up to receive the hybrid. She had left the door open, on the grounds that she wasn't naked and thus anyone who needed something could come visit her. Alex was no exception to this rule.
[x] (8B814C) Weyrwoman R'ley of gold Nostromoth
[x] (9C661F) Wingrider I'saac of brown Wylath
[x] (8B4513) Weyrling K'irk of brown Aesclepiuth
[x] (5E2612) Ex-Colonel Miles Quaritch of brown Milesk
[x] (4D0000) Offworlder Jax of hybrid Elizabeth
[x] (64A33D) Apprentice Healer Lanakirene of green Isonth
[x] (483D8B) Weyrling A'non of blue Costoth
[x] (333333) Candidatemaster Valana

[x] (333333) WIP | Dragon Candidate Alianyi
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tuathade
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November 20th, 2011, 9:58 pm #3

…As you like.

The silver’s voice was doubtful, but he would do nothing to countermand R’ley. Normandith rose to his feet, shook out his wings, then took to the skies in a smooth leap. He would remain close by, just in case… But Nostromoth was quite capable of seeing to her own rider, and gold compulsion would work just fine to deter any foul play from the hybrid.

Alex wasted no time, entering and moving to R’ley’s side swiftly. He pressed his muzzle to her shoulder; she would be able to feel the hybrid shaking, from mingled fear and suppressed rage. Frankly, all he wanted to do was stay like that, until all this went away and he could go on with normal everyday worries like ‘how do I keep Nyx and Nemesis from destroying the weyr?’ and ‘do whers like kittens?’ and ‘how do I get people to stop shrinking back in fear or looking at me like a sideshow animal?’ Those were all relatively simple concerns, especially in comparison to…

…well. What he’d found.

Ironically, perhaps it was for the best that people tended to assume he wasn’t quite so clever as he actually was. If they had taken further precautions, Alex might have never found out. But as it was… He had to go to R’ley. She was the only person he knew who had power, or any possible chance of countermanding this. Alex was still somewhat wary of Nostromoth; she had sided with Salvador against her rider once, and while it had been in Alex’s favor that time, if she did so again… It could spell a death sentence for the hybrid.

R’ley. I found out what Salvador’s working on. His mindvoice was low and frightened, devoid of its usual harshness in favor of the subdued tones of a creature entirely uncertain of his own future.
[x] (969696) Weyrleader Sh'ard of silver Normandith
[x] (595A80) Jr. Queenrider C'ross of pearl Iassenth
[x] (0A116E) Sr. Weyrling L'ir of blue Dolosventh
[x] (00AAFF) Rover/AI "Sam"
[x] (AAB574) Journeyman Seacrafter Rodana of green Rodansk
[x] (C4A55A) Wherhandler Matthew Grayson of brown Graysk
[x] (4D0000) Prototype Hybrid Alex
[x] (oooooo) Candidate/Glasscrafter Miskael
[x] (oooooo) Apprentice Dragonhealer Thomas Sinclair %mh%-195%mh%
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giftwrapped
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Joined: April 8th, 2011, 5:44 pm

November 21st, 2011, 6:06 am #4

She was barely thinking. She reacted almost as if the hybrid were another person, turning and looping an arm around his neck, pulling him close. Absently, she murmured a soft, "Shhhh..." to Alex, stroking his muzzle gently. Whatever he was afraid of, it wouldn't get them in here - couldn't get them in here. "Easy," she went on in those same quiet tones. Something was wrong. Something was terribly, terribly wrong, and it was obvious in the hybrid's bearing. Her own stomach twisted itself in a knot as she realized that the only thing that could bring a usually-fearless animal to such shaking horror was something awful. "Faranth, Alex, are you -"

And then his words sank into place in the silence, and R'ley's heart stopped for a moment. She didn't want to respond, initially. She had been hearing little things, but...other things had taken precedence. There had been the issue with the Candidatemaster, for one, the entire situation with W'ash, the Flights...a lot of things to think about. Now, though. Now there was no excuse. And native or no, R'ley was Weyrwoman and whatever happened would be her responsibility, at least in part. "What's happening, Alex?" she asked quietly, resting a hand behind the hybrid's headknobs and guiding him slightly so she could sit on the edge of her bed.

Seated, she reached up, cupping one hand under the hybrid's jaw. "Tell me what's going on."

And Nostromoth, from her place on the ledge, lifted her head, eyes whirling that impassive olive green - but this time tinged with orange.
[x] (8B814C) Weyrwoman R'ley of gold Nostromoth
[x] (9C661F) Wingrider I'saac of brown Wylath
[x] (8B4513) Weyrling K'irk of brown Aesclepiuth
[x] (5E2612) Ex-Colonel Miles Quaritch of brown Milesk
[x] (4D0000) Offworlder Jax of hybrid Elizabeth
[x] (64A33D) Apprentice Healer Lanakirene of green Isonth
[x] (483D8B) Weyrling A'non of blue Costoth
[x] (333333) Candidatemaster Valana

[x] (333333) WIP | Dragon Candidate Alianyi
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tuathade
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November 21st, 2011, 7:12 am #5

R’ley’s reaction told Alex immediately that he had made the right choice in coming to her. It was strange, putting all his trust in a woman who, when she’d met him initially, would have probably been delighted to roast him with a flamethrower. But… It wasn’t something he could articulate clearly. He just knew that he had faith in her. He shut his eyes as she looped an arm around his neck, pressing his muzzle into the hand that stroked it reassuringly. The shaking abated, his initial panic fading into a kind of dull horror. Here, at least for the moment, he was safe. R’ley would help.

The hybrid let himself be led over to the bed so that R’ley could sit down. For a weird moment, he was overcome by the urge to hop up there with her, to coil himself around the weyrwoman and keep that comforting contact. But – okay, Alex, get a hold of yourself. That would have been crossing a line. She was Nostromoth’s, not his. So he simply flopped himself down at her feet… although he didn’t stop himself from resting his head on her knee like a canine.

Salvador… the whole Intrepid team, really… They want to use the dragonkin ability to go between as a kind of – starship engine. Like the one the offworlders used to get to Pern, only faster. Infinitely faster, because you could theoretically go to any star in the sky, as long as you could visualize it. They think it’ll revolutionize technology, and help the crew who are stuck here because they bonded to dragons… And they want to use hybrids to do it. Because we don’t need to bond to humans. Because we’re smart enough to pilot a ship, with the memory to recall locations – and because… Alex’s mindvoice grew low and bitter. They don’t think anyone will care as much as if they were using dragons.
[x] (969696) Weyrleader Sh'ard of silver Normandith
[x] (595A80) Jr. Queenrider C'ross of pearl Iassenth
[x] (0A116E) Sr. Weyrling L'ir of blue Dolosventh
[x] (00AAFF) Rover/AI "Sam"
[x] (AAB574) Journeyman Seacrafter Rodana of green Rodansk
[x] (C4A55A) Wherhandler Matthew Grayson of brown Graysk
[x] (4D0000) Prototype Hybrid Alex
[x] (oooooo) Candidate/Glasscrafter Miskael
[x] (oooooo) Apprentice Dragonhealer Thomas Sinclair %mh%-195%mh%
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giftwrapped
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November 22nd, 2011, 12:28 am #6

So it was bad. R'ley had known from the beginning that whatever was going on couldn't have been good, and nothing Alex was doing dissuaded her from that belief. When he started his explanation, the knot in her stomach turned to ice. She kept petting him, running a hand along his muzzle, scratching his eyeridges lightly, expression difficult-to-read as the hybrid spoke. And by the end of it, her face was pale, expression drawn and entire body thrumming bowstring-tight as she considered a response. Her hands were still, one resting on the hybrid's muzzle, the other stopped with her fingertips just brushing his neck. She took a deep breath. When she spoke, her voice trembled.

"I was worried this would happen," she admitted, and with the voice some of the life came back into her. She rubbed one of Alex's ears, looking down at the hybrid with an expression that was equal parts anger and fear. somehow, this red-black monstrosity had managed to grow on her, becoming something that she considered a friend. Slowly, she shifted, sliding off the bed and sinking to the ground so she could wrap her arms around Alex's neck again. "I don't know what all those words mean," she said quietly. Science was not one of her strong suits, and it was one of the things she had always left to the offworlders. Their ships were fascinating, maybe, but R'ley was Pernese, and the physics of space travel, though truly not so different from that of dragons, had always been just far enough out of her reach not to try.

"But Alex...that's not going to happen." Though her voice was still soft, it was returning to that characteristic dark tone R'ley tended to pick up when she was angry. The steel was creeping back into her words, and the hug around the hybrid's neck was tighter, more ferocious. "I don't care what they think they can do with you. You're alive. You can think, you can feel, you're not their property. You're your property. They can't change that. Just because they made you doesn't mean you belong to them. They can't do that." She stopped, took a deep breath, drew back. "And - you're wrong to say that people won't care."

"I care."

Nostromoth didn't move. The orange in her eyes dimming, she sat still, a ghostly spectator in R'ley's mind, listening to the hybrid's words without any visible response.
[x] (8B814C) Weyrwoman R'ley of gold Nostromoth
[x] (9C661F) Wingrider I'saac of brown Wylath
[x] (8B4513) Weyrling K'irk of brown Aesclepiuth
[x] (5E2612) Ex-Colonel Miles Quaritch of brown Milesk
[x] (4D0000) Offworlder Jax of hybrid Elizabeth
[x] (64A33D) Apprentice Healer Lanakirene of green Isonth
[x] (483D8B) Weyrling A'non of blue Costoth
[x] (333333) Candidatemaster Valana

[x] (333333) WIP | Dragon Candidate Alianyi
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tuathade
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November 22nd, 2011, 3:57 am #7

The hands moving over his muzzle and eyeridges were entirely welcome; the gentle rhythmic petting helped break through the mire of his distress. R’ley slid off the bed and to the floor, hugging him around the neck, and Alex took the opportunity to rest his head on the woman’s shoulder. A quiet, contented thrumming built in his chest, even despite the grimness of the topic… She cared. That was all that mattered. She cared, and together they would look after all of the hybrids. With the protection of the Weyrwoman, at least, he had a chance. Even the genetics team would have to have second thoughts when it came to going up against the two of them together.

…Thank you. When R’ley pulled back, Alex met her eyes gravely, then leaned forward again to rub his cheek against hers. That – it means a lot. More than I can say. And they would have other allies, too… He hoped. The Doctor, Alex was certain he could trust. And Vityai and Taavi, although he hesitated to pull in the other hybridhandlers… Speaking of which.

I think the other hybrids are safe, he told R’ley frankly. At least for now. The technology, whatever they’re working on, isn’t ready yet. And I don’t think they’d be willing to risk the handlers’ minds. But they have something in mind, I just haven’t figured out what yet. Besides, they have - He cut himself off, the soft crooning turning into a sharp growl before dying away. They have a hybrid with no inconvenient partner, he wanted to say. But the words felt too grim to acknowledge.
[x] (969696) Weyrleader Sh'ard of silver Normandith
[x] (595A80) Jr. Queenrider C'ross of pearl Iassenth
[x] (0A116E) Sr. Weyrling L'ir of blue Dolosventh
[x] (00AAFF) Rover/AI "Sam"
[x] (AAB574) Journeyman Seacrafter Rodana of green Rodansk
[x] (C4A55A) Wherhandler Matthew Grayson of brown Graysk
[x] (4D0000) Prototype Hybrid Alex
[x] (oooooo) Candidate/Glasscrafter Miskael
[x] (oooooo) Apprentice Dragonhealer Thomas Sinclair %mh%-195%mh%
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giftwrapped
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Joined: April 8th, 2011, 5:44 pm

November 22nd, 2011, 4:25 am #8

"There's no reason to thank me, Alex. I'm not doing you a favor, I'm doing what's right. Apparently that's not something they teach the offworlders." R'ley's tone was sharp enough to cut glass, though it wasn't directed at the hybrid. Her animosity was obviously toward Salvador and his crew, the ones who were orchestrating this...whatever it was. "The second they start hurting innocents, it becomes my business, and if they touch any of you..." She didn't have to like the hybrids. She didn't have to like the offworlders who handled the hybrids. She wasn't required to expend any of her friendly energies on them, and frankly, she didn't want to. But whether or not she liked them didn't matter. What mattered was if what Alex was saying was true, then Salvador and his lackeys might easily go for the hybrids - leaving behind who knew what kind of mental damage.

And if they were considering it with the hybrids, how long before they turned to dragons? The hybrids, at least, could defend themselves. Dragons couldn't harm humans. When Alex shifted, R'ley's fingers grazed his collar, and she drew back, surprised.

...With that thing around his neck, Alex was just as vulnerable as the dragons were. And as Alex growled, she reached for her beltknife. "I want you to stay very still, Alex," she said quietly. "Stay still and trust me." The band was...she wasn't sure. It gave like leather, but didn't feel anything like the tanned hides she worked with as straps. At one point, it had probably been adjustable, but now...it almost looked like it had fused together. It didn't matter, though. It had give and flexibility, and R'ley had a very sharp knife. Carefully, she slid the flat of the blade against Alex's neck, slipping the edge under the collar and getting a better grip, adjusting her angle...there. She began a rhythmic sawing motion. "This should only take a second."

No, Nostromoth said, eyes whirling alarmed yellow, but R'ley ignored the dragon's sudden outburst, sawing resolutely at the band of the collar in one solid motion. It came apart in her hands, and she pulled it away from the hybrid, looking at the apparatus. It looked...cruel, was her first thought. Cruel, and unfair. Perhaps at one point it had been necessary, but now...it looked more like torture than a legitimate tool. She sheathed the belt-knife again, then turned the collar over in her hands.

"I think," she said quietly, "that this stopped being useful a long time ago." She dropped it, sliding it a way's away, and then bringing the heel of her boot down heavily on it. It didn't seem to give, but R'ley was determined. The second time, there was no response from the plastic and metal. The third time, it groaned. The fourth and fifth times were the same. And the sixth time, the mechanism gave with a crack and startling spark, leaving behind a vaguely-smoking, dented mess of what had once been the only thing that stood between Alex and bad choices. R'ley shifted, pulling her legs back under her and looking at it quietly.

Are you insane? Now it's loose! Nostromoth's voice showed rare emotion, near-frantic in R'ley's mind as she snarled. You've lost control over it now!

Mother, who are you going to trust? Me...or them?

There was a stony silence from the gold. R'ley chewed her lip.

Very well, came the eventual, reluctant reply. But it will be on your head if something goes wrong.

It's a risk I'm willing to take.
[x] (8B814C) Weyrwoman R'ley of gold Nostromoth
[x] (9C661F) Wingrider I'saac of brown Wylath
[x] (8B4513) Weyrling K'irk of brown Aesclepiuth
[x] (5E2612) Ex-Colonel Miles Quaritch of brown Milesk
[x] (4D0000) Offworlder Jax of hybrid Elizabeth
[x] (64A33D) Apprentice Healer Lanakirene of green Isonth
[x] (483D8B) Weyrling A'non of blue Costoth
[x] (333333) Candidatemaster Valana

[x] (333333) WIP | Dragon Candidate Alianyi
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tuathade
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November 23rd, 2011, 8:14 pm #9

Alex froze when she drew the knife – his hide was sturdy, but not that sturdy, and it was a very sharp blade she was holding at his neck. Still, he stayed perfectly still, even if the muscles of his back tensed as she began to saw at the collar. I always trust you, he said simply. Even if he was braced to get electrocuted at any moment.

But whatever features the collar was equipped with, it did not have any mechanisms to prevent someone from simply… cutting it off. It was strange, how easy it came free. Alex watched in silence as R’ley brought her heel down on the shock collar – again, and again, and again, until at last it gave with a sudden spark. Only scrap metal and plastic now. It had no more power over him than any other piece of junk.

He should have felt – joyful? Relieved? Liberated? He was free now. There was still the constraint of metallic compulsion, but… If he turned now, if he bolted and ran into the wilderness – he could live there, he knew how to hunt and forage for his own food – would Nostromoth stop him? Would Normandith? What if he turned on his creator and took revenge? Hunted Salvador down and killed him before his project could even get off the ground? That would be more difficult to accomplish without someone intervening… But within the realm of possibility. R’ley was giving him the choice.

It was frightening to discover that he seriously entertained both possibilities.

He lifted a paw and touched it gingerly to the place where the collar had been, then gave R’ley a grave and thoughtful look. I fucking hated that thing. Then he leaned into her comfortably. What are we going to do about the other hybrids?
[x] (969696) Weyrleader Sh'ard of silver Normandith
[x] (595A80) Jr. Queenrider C'ross of pearl Iassenth
[x] (0A116E) Sr. Weyrling L'ir of blue Dolosventh
[x] (00AAFF) Rover/AI "Sam"
[x] (AAB574) Journeyman Seacrafter Rodana of green Rodansk
[x] (C4A55A) Wherhandler Matthew Grayson of brown Graysk
[x] (4D0000) Prototype Hybrid Alex
[x] (oooooo) Candidate/Glasscrafter Miskael
[x] (oooooo) Apprentice Dragonhealer Thomas Sinclair %mh%-195%mh%
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giftwrapped
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November 24th, 2011, 5:13 am #10

The lean was met with a lean on R'ley's part, as well, one arm going around the hybrid's neck and shoulders while the goldrider scratched his neck where the collar had been with her other hand. The question brought a thoughtful frown to her face, and she was quiet as she considered the possibilities. This was something out of her league, so wildly different from what she was used to working with that she couldn't really wrap her head around it. Her fingers worked at the space the collar had been, scratching gently. "I don't know what to do, Alex," she said quietly. "This is way out of my league."

She sighed quietly, burying her face in Alex's shoulder and shaking her head mutely. It was rare that she felt so powerless, but for once in her life, she had none of the solutions to the problem. This was something for offworlders, or people who had real clout with their organization - for people like Sh'ard who could get their point across. R'ley had Pern on her side - probably - but Salvador had made it plain time and time again that he had no interest in listening to or understanding the problems or culture of the planet on which he had lived for turns. If he wanted to do something, then....she had no doubt he would do it. And the offworlders who weren't Impressed....

They would follow him. Not all of them, but some. And if it came to that, the weyr would be divided. "We need to find people we can work with," she said quietly. "Allies in this. Offworlders, ideally." There was a moment of thoughtfulness. "David and Jax, probably. I...don't think the other handlers should be told until we know who they are and where they stand. Sh'ard will help. Norm will...probably help." Her voice wavered for a moment, but then she nodded firmly. "We'll think of something. But we need to think, Alex. Take time to formulate a plan."
[x] (8B814C) Weyrwoman R'ley of gold Nostromoth
[x] (9C661F) Wingrider I'saac of brown Wylath
[x] (8B4513) Weyrling K'irk of brown Aesclepiuth
[x] (5E2612) Ex-Colonel Miles Quaritch of brown Milesk
[x] (4D0000) Offworlder Jax of hybrid Elizabeth
[x] (64A33D) Apprentice Healer Lanakirene of green Isonth
[x] (483D8B) Weyrling A'non of blue Costoth
[x] (333333) Candidatemaster Valana

[x] (333333) WIP | Dragon Candidate Alianyi
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