Our Future As It Fast Unfurls

Its occupant had shed the shell some time ago, yet there was not a hatchling to be seen. It had quietly snuck away and was merely waiting, lurking on the fringes of the hatching sands, hiding its body behind egg and sand mound both, until the time was right. It wouldn’t do to reveal itself too early or too late. Now that the sands had cleared a bit and things had settled into a nice window of opportunity, there was no time like the present.

((Dreadful.)) Its voice drolled on, a deep, almost baritone sort. ((It’s so hard to find good help these days, isn’t it?))

From what few shadows dotted the hatching sands emerged a dark brown dragonet, with a hide the color of wet mud, patches of darker brown along his head and back. At first glance it seemed that he was in desperate need of some food: his body, lean and whiplike, was especially bony, putting him on just the good side of malnourished.

((I hope you don’t mind that I was watching,)) he continued on, prowling languidly through the broken eggs, his whirling eyes cast about the hatching grounds. ((I couldn’t possibly have brought myself to interrupt you. Of course, had you needed help…)) He trailed off, his wings rolling in what could have very well been a shrug. His lip curled up into a small, but fleeting smirk, one that he craftily hid by turning his head away from Myriath.

((But now that the rabble is gone, I do believe that you and I could come to a rather amicable arrangement, hmm? How /awful/ it must have been to be kicked from your shell, /robbed/ of the luxury of a hatching on your own terms.)) Around he prowled, each step slow and steady. ((I truly /did/ want to intervene, but…I suppose to make an omelette, one /must/ break a few eggs.))

((How….pragmatic of you.)) Myriath observed the brown strolling towards her, her neck arching facetiously as she considered his words. This…this was now far more interesting, ((Your sympathies are noted and appreciated,)) she murmured, getting to her feet with a luxurious stretch, that showed off her pale hide, gleaming with health, ((How very kind of you to think of me in such a moment. Allow me to introduce myself, I am Myriath. And you are?)) She turned towards him, waiting expectantly.

((Oh, where /are/ my manners?)) The brown hatchling stilled and brought a hand to his chest. ((I am Raskhath. And what a pleasure it is to meet you, Myriath.)) Back to prowling he went, investigating those eggs that had yet to break their shell, rocking though they were. As he slipped by one, he let his foot sidestep just a bit too much, cracking the shell as he strolled by.

The Hay There egg, which had been rocking steadily but not wildly up until this point, stopped moving suddenly, as if startled by the crack that had appeared in it. After a pause, it gave a little shake as its occupant moved inside, tilting the egg towards the crack as the weight inside shifted… and then the crack grew, extending right up the side all the way to the top. Finally, it split — partially, anyway — revealing a slender, leggy green, still pushing her way out of the half-cracked egg.

((Um, excuse me?)) she said. ((I hope I’m not interrupting…))

((Not at all,)) Myriath replied smoothly, even if privately she sighed at the appearance of another green who might attempt to be competition for the attention of the larger male dragons. Unknowing why, she wanted their appreciation and eyes on her before any other green. But then the green could be a friend, so she should be friendly, ((Welcome sister. I am Myriath.))

((Interrupting? Of course not. How on Pern could you ever interrupt anything?)) Raskhath drolled on, settling onto the sands to lie like a contented feline, paws folded one over the other. ((And you are?))

The green pushed at the shell a bit more, finally breaking it apart enough to emerge without too much more difficulty — and without tripping over her feet doing so. ((I’m Nalmuth,)) she said, giving a slow, respectful nod — almost a bow — to first one, and then the other. ((Pleased to meet you both. My, it certainly is nicer out here, isn’t it? I didn’t realize how cramped I was until I got the chance to stretch myself!))

Myriath inclined her head back to the other green, pleased by her seeming good breeding and manners. Lulaboth had been alright, but she’d been rather…boyish. Not in a good way.

((The world does certainly open up.)) she agreed dryly, sauntering over to her sister, ((And I agree, you are quite correct, it is far nicer out here than inside those stuffy eggs. They were pleasant enough, but I would not wish to return there now. Would you Raskhath?)) she drew the brown into the conversation neatly, not wishing to leave him out.

((Oh, certainly. Who doesn’t enjoy confinement more than the open air? Small wonder we hatched at all.)) Raskhath murmured, tapping his baby claws on the sand. ((I’m sure nobody told her about the strange, gawping ones over there, either.)) Contrary to the candidates, it was toward the audience that he looked.

Nalmuth followed his gaze with her own and gasped softly, sitting up straight. ((Oh, they are watching us, aren’t they? I wish I had realized sooner… I hope I haven’t done anything to make us all look bad!)) She glanced back at her egg guiltily. ((I could probably have hatched more neatly than that… I’ll do better next time!)) She paused. ((Well… I suppose there won’t be a next time for that, but you know what I meant I’m sure. I promise I’ll do better from here on out!))

((I’m sure you shall,)) Myriath purred, glancing up at the many faces watching them as well, and preening slightly. The attention held no fear for her, in fact she rather enjoyed the eyes following her, ((Though I’m certain that no one blames you for not hatching in a certain way. If so then I too would be under scrutiny and I very much doubt that I am…))

((Well you know, second time’s the charm, or something to that effect.)) Raskhath commented. ((Why not run along and see if one of those dolts — er, those lovely people — will consider allowing you to apologize to them?)) Meanwhile, he had locked his eyes on a particular face, one that felt all too familiar, though he didn’t want to go and give it away. The last thing he needed was either one of these greens stealing what he’d set his sights on.

Nalmuth searched the faces of as many of the crowd as she could, but there were so many of them, and from this distance they all looked so similar! Other than different coloring peppered about, she couldn’t really distinguish them from one another. It seemed a daunting task to even consider speaking to one of them — something in her seemed dreadfully reluctant to do so — but she worried that she might need to speak to them all in order to be fair about it. She sensed that perhaps she could call to all of them at once, but that seemed so loud, and rude, and impersonal.

Well. She wasn’t going to be a coward about it.

She drew herself up, took a big breath, and started towards the Stands, hoping she would figure it out as she went. ((I’ll be back!)) she assured her new friends over her shoulder.

((Indeed…)) Myriath watched her sister going off, in the wrong direction, and if a dragon could have it’s eyebrow raised she would have. However she wasn’t going to correct the others mistake, learning was important and besides, Myriath wanted the best for herself. This just made it easier. Unknowing that her thoughts echoed Raskhath’s own the lovely green got to her feet and wound around the eggs, keeping an eye on the brown as she did, ((Anyone else thinking of joining us?)) she called to them softly.

((I’m considering it.)) A voice responded, the tone dry, ((It does sound rather enjoyable out there, but then again in here is pretty safe, decisions, decisions. Give me some reasons to come out will you? Good ones mind you…))

Raskhath eyed the rest of the eggs curiously. Well, it was certainly no business of his if some hatchling was too addle-brained to come from their shells, and nobody would ever catch him begging for them to come out. Trusting that it would distract Myriath enough, he turned to watch Nalmuth, sly smirk returning.

Nalmuth didn’t even notice the new voice. She was nearing the Stands by now, searching the faces, looking for… well, she wasn’t sure what exactly she was looking for, but she did feel she needed to make a good impression somehow, make sure they knew she wasn’t just some shameful example of her clutch. But somehow none of the faces that came into focus as she drew close seemed right, none of them seemed okay for her to speak to.

((Maybe I shouldn’t,)) she commented back to her fellows. ((Is it more respectful to only speak when spoken to? But I can’t just give up…))

Some of the young people in the Stands were rising from their seats hopefully, waiting to see if she was looking for one of them, hoping someone official would wave them down to the Sands, but Nalmuth, seeing them make a move in her direction, suddenly realized: no, this wasn’t right at all.

((I’ll have to prove myself some other way,)) she said, turning to rejoin her clutchmates.

Myriath meanwhile curled around the eggs, looking for the one that held the voice, ((Reasons? Well it is a wide open world here, full of interest.))

((Sounds rather tedious.)) the voice retorted wryly, ((Go on.))

Myriath’s gaze turned towards three eggs clustered together. One had hatched, but the other two…

((There are sights to see and people to meet.))

((No thank you.)) The Imperfect Mirror wiggled and Myriath smirked.

Gotcha.

((What a shame..)) she murmured and flicked the egg with her tail, sending it tipping to roll down the hill towards Nalmuth and Raskhath, ((Oops!))

Watching Nalmuth flounder was delightful. Raskhath sat contentedly and watched the green meander through the stands, doing his best not to grin — it was all he could do not to start cackling, really. But as the audience, particularly the younger folk, rose to meet her, suddenly the joy had been taken from him. Slowly he rose to his feet, eyes narrowed. Was there something up there that he — no, no — he had seen the face of what was to be his, that which was perfection.

Gawping as he was, he barely noticed the Imperfect Mirror egg rolling at him. He was fortunate that it hadn’t picked up enough speed to ram into him, leaving the oddly mirrored shell to rest at his feet, giving Raskhath a good look at himself in its strangely reflective shell. Was /that/ what he looked like?

((Hmph.)) He needed to recover before anyone noticed the look on his face. ((Did you /lose/ something, Myriath?)) With a scoff, he pushed the egg away.

It rolled towards Nalmuth, and she reached a foot up and stopped it — almost tripping but not quite — and looked down into the shell. ((Oh, it’s all warped! But it’s not broken…)) She looked it over, tapping at it gently. ((Hello? Are you alright in there?))

((I hate everything…)) the dragon inside the egg moaned, ((Everything is awful…)) the top of the egg wiggled, a tiny crack appearing at the top before it popped off and a long shiny bronze slid out in a whoosh. ((Ergh…. that was completely unpleasant.)) the bronze dragon picked himself up before looking around, and immediately spotting Nalmuth. Instantly his attitude perked up and he draped himself winningly against the curve of his egg, ((Hey…)) he said, wiggling his eyebrows lasciviously, ((How’re you doing…I’m Lephiroth…you’re pretty….))

Myriath narrowed her eyes at the sight of the bronze and his attentions towards Nalmuth. And just like that…she was done.

((Well this has been…enchanting…my dears.)) she informed her siblings, prowling her way over to the Candidates and eyeing them questioningly, ((But I have places to be…ah…yes…you…you are just what I need. Together…you and I shall do….wonderful things.)) and she curled around her chosen one, rather like a possessive cat.

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