As they continued to bicker and squabble with only New Fort seeming to show half an ounce of neutral common sense, Wygelle was growing increasingly more agitated. Time was sliding past them and they had achieved absolutely nothing thus far. More and more, she was finding it harder to focus on what was being said, what thoughts she might have and more toward the gravid gold she had left at High Reaches. Beneath the table, as though aware of his Weyrwoman’s restlessness, F’loran squeezed her knee gently and she took the hand gratefully.
“Maryl and J’lian have been about the first amongst us to offer anything remotely proactive to this table. The time for bickering and petty jibes is done. It’s quite clear that we all have our own thoughts, our own concerns about how this could have happened.” Wygelle’s voice was more tense than it had been before and her jaw was somewhat clenched as she forced her thoughts back to the moment in hand. “In all honesty, the discussion about Arolos’ competency to continue their current leadership isn’t even on the table. That is not the reason we came here and using it to stick needles into old scars is getting us nowhere.” She paused, casting her eyes about the Weyrleaders gathered about the table. “This is not about our political allegiances or personal opinions about Arolos, but whether we need to go home and consider whether there are potential enemies lurking at all of our doors.”
F’loran chimed in, for once seeming to be taking the whole thing seriously. “High Reaches has made its concerns known that this was a calculated attempt on a Weyr where the opportunity to obtain access was available. I shall emphasise again that we do not believe that this was a singular attack on Arolos but rather a seized opportunity to target a Weyr. Which makes us believe that potentially all of the Weyrs are under some form of observation and surveillance. So the question is, what do we want to do about it when we put our boots under our own tables and let our guard back down because we’re home safe and sound?”
“We’ll watch our own backs,” L’nyr said with a sniff and a glance at Arolos with clear meaning that Benden was far more superior in that regard. “No one will find Benden an easy target.”
Telsa gave him a look, so maybe they weren’t entirely lockstep. “We will, of course, relay if we hear any concerns that should be passed on to the rest of you.”
“We need to be honest about transfers.” That was J’lson rather than Andrette. The Istan Weyrleader had been relatively quiet for most of the meeting but he spoke up now.. “I know sometimes it’s tempting to let a rider go be someone else’s problem but right now.. We need to know that we know everything we need to about a new rider.”
“That is a sensible point,” Tedileen said. “We need to have communication between the weyrs that can alert in the event of an emergency as well in a manner that would not alarm others. A coded communication perhaps. A request for support, or a warning of issues or danger - I wouldn’t necessarily entrust that to a flit, or even a watchrider.”
“I am willing to work with this idea,” Kassia said. “Better communication would help us all.” She barely left out ‘and then maybe then you all wouldn’t decide to drop a Conclave on people’s heads’. Barely.
“Shoring up protections around our Weyrs wouldn’t hurt either,” she added, really just wishing they could get to the point.
"I'm sure we all have riders prone to visiting other Weyrs, whether for friends and family or just a change of scenery on an off-day," Cathern pointed out. "It wouldn't look terribly suspicious if we started having them check in more formally when they did so, and could use trusted ones to pass a message. Or at least no more suspicious than a Conclave," she added.
“F’loran and I have been discussing measures in relation to events where members outside of the Weyr often have access. We have discussed the increase of recruitment in our Weyrguard whose duty it will be to perform security sweeps, to restrict access to parts of the Weyr to limit free wandering and for there to be a documented register of who enters the Weyr and for what purpose. This will also likely extend to a form of generalised checking for weaponry. Crafters can be verified, Traders will be harder, as will common Holdfolk.” Wygelle paused, chewing her lip. “I think constant vigilance will be to all our benefits, no letting it slide one day and coming down the next. But to be alert, not alarmed.”
"I will keep you all informed by way of whatever clever communication we come up with any time I uncover a new lead," said N'shen. At this point, he was exhausted with the lot of them and might have agreed to anything that sounded even remotely reasonable.
“And now, I apologise for rushing you all, but I would remind you that our Weyrwoman is pregnant and this has already been a very long meeting,” R’tal said. “Unless anyone has anything more urgent that needs to be said, I would like to wrap up, please.” Which was as polite a way to be told to feck off as was likely to be said.
“No, I should think we’re done here,” Telsa said, pushing to her feet already. L’nyr was right there with her. Unable to resist herself, she added, “Please do kindly keep your trouble here and away from us and we’ll do the same.”
Cathern rolled her eyes at the other Weyrwoman. "If it's just their trouble, I'm sure it shan't bother you any, Telsa. Though I think we all suspect F'loran is correct in his thoughts that they were merely the first target of opportunity." She stood up as well, and R'orsh quickly followed. "Kassia, R'tal, N'shen, good luck in your investigation, and my apologies for our intrusion."
“Quite so,” Tedileen agreed. “We have come to an agreement on the main issue and your hospitality for unexpected guests has been very gracious in the circumstances.” She moved to stand as did her Weyrleader.
Finally, it seemed as though they were starting to get somewhere. “High Reaches will keep Arolos apprised of its own enquiries regarding the explosion and also liaise with the other Weyrs regarding relevant intelligence.” Wygelle was already on her feet, F’loran fumbling up to a stand beside her. It was impossible for a man as large to be remotely graceful. “Whilst I would have otherwise stayed, I do have a gold to return to. Weyrwoman Kassia, I have had a small congratulatory parcel sent to your office given your pending arrivals.” It wasn’t like Wygelle to be so overly formal, it was a clear testament of her own desire to leave as soon as possible. If anything, she looked worried.
“We will also keep the Weyrs apprised of any strategy we devise regarding Rider movements, in case it can be of any help.” F’loran added, placing a hand in the small of his Weyrwoman’s back. “We would also like to extend our gratitude to Arolos for hosting our most impromptu visit and extend the invitation in return to anyone who wishes to come to High Reaches to discuss these matters further or to consider shared ideas for future security options.”
“Fair skies,” Kassia said, moving as gracefully to her feet as someone with a broken arm and pregnant with twins could. “I hope that some of your concerns have been allayed and that we can all take actions to increase the security of all our Weyrs. Please feel free to send a messenger at any point.” And stay the feck home.
She gestured for everyone to head out.
And so, despite the initial finger pointing and bickering, the Weyrleaders of Pern had finally gathered themselves together, had finally begun to consider the bigger picture. The reality was, their work was only just beginning. If there was truth to the idea that there was an outside threat just waiting for the opportunity to strike… it was a truth that would bring many late and sleepless nights to the Weyrs. For now, all they could do was try to cooperate with one another, to put aside their differences and ways of working in order to try and unite. But no doubt, as each respective Weyrleader and Weyrwoman took to the sky, there was a question burning in each and every mind.
Which Weyr, if any, would be next?
= End =
Nutmeg on the Wizzy.
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