You Can't Do That Pt. 2 (JP Kassia/Mendl)
Kassia hated to leave the babies so soon, but some situations required it. As soon as possible, she headed down to the Weyrling Barracks with a guard in tow and sent for Mendl to come to a office to talk to her.
Mendl sort of knew what Nimoth had done. After all, she was linked to her dragon. But she hadn’t known the extent of the compulsion. She thought that Nimoth had asked a few dragons to help out Ponth in her flight.
It was something she’d been struggling with since Impression Day. There was a core piece of her that didn’t want to let her barriers down, didn’t want to let Nimoth fully into her mind. Not that she had any secrets to keep--she actually did not. Yet. But she was afraid to lose control of her ‘self’, so possibly wasn’t as attuned to Nimoth as she should be.
Therefore, the summons to see Kassia came as something of a surprise. She went to the office Kassia was in.
“You wanted to see me, Weyrwoman?” she asked.
Kassia nodded. She was sitting at the desk already. She gestured at the chair across. “Take a seat. We need to talk about what happened yesterday. Can you tell me in your words what you think happened? And how things have been going with Nimoth?” Because there was no way this was entirely out of the blue.
What? “Um, well, Ponth rose, and Nimoth told me. And I’d had to bandage up Ponth the last time she rose, because the dragon that caught her, Travath, had roughed her up quite a bit. And this was because Travath’s rider did a number on Dytha.” She was getting angry all over again about that. “I’d ended up sleeping at Dytha’s for a few days, just to make sure she wasn’t more injured than I could see.” She knew she was veering off the subject of yesterday, so she made a concerted effort to get back on the subject.
“Anyway, Nimoth knows that Dytha’s my best friend since we were allowed to finally see each other after the restrictions had been lifted. So, she told me she asked a few dragons to help Ponth by keeping Travath away.” That is what she’d said, right? “I was in class, so didn’t see most of what happened, until it started getting weird in the air.”
Kassia left off why no one had said anything about the first bad flight as it was over and done and focused on what had happened the previous night.
“You didn’t think it was weird that she asked other dragons to help like that? Has she been ‘asking’ other dragons to do other things for her before?”
Mendl nodded. “Yes, she has. She’s asked for pieces of meat she thought looked better, and she’s asked them to leave sunning on a rock so she could.” She frowned. “It’s only been the other weyrling dragons, and if she asks them for something, or to do something, wouldn’t they do it because she’s a gold? And if they didn’t want to, they could just say no.”
“First of all, have you allowed her to do these things? To get away with them?” Kassia asked patiently.
Mendl blinked. “Ye-es. Was I not supposed to?” She didn’t understand.
“If you were a parent would you allow your child to always get what they wanted?” Kassia asked. “It’s not an exact example, but you have to be in charge. Yes, she’ll get her way a lot as an adult, but right now she’s got to be treated more similar to her siblings.”
“But, no one complained. If they complained I would have told her she couldn’t do that.” What was she missing?
“You need to make sure that you’re in charge, Mendl,” Kassia said. “That means not letting her run roughshod over her siblings. She doesn’t get to be first all the time. You aren’t in control enough yet to let her take control of others. She’s still a Weyrling. She doesn’t get to be in control.”
“Yeah, I understand that. But, like, when they did the gliding, she didn’t go first. She went when she wanted to, but others had gone before her. And she asks nicely when she wants something, like a sunning spot or treat. So I didn’t think she was doing anything wrong.”
Kassia nodded. “My point is just to make sure that she’s not automatically pushing her way to get what she wanted,” she said. “Also, you need to be watching her to make sure they really are okay with agreeing. What she did with Ponth never should have happened today and if it happened today it’s most likely been happening subtly before this.”
“What did she do with Ponth?” Mendl felt like she’d just crawled out from under a rock. “Did she make Ponth rise?”
Kassia resisted the urge to sigh. She was getting a headache. How could Mendl be this dense?
“Of course not,” she said. “But she did make the males chase after her. Or rather go after her and protect her from the one male dragon she didn’t want to catch her. While her idea was admirable, she never should have been the one compelling other dragons like that.”
Mendl’s eyes went wide. So this is why Kassia wanted to talk to her. “She...compelled...dragons? She’s too young to compel dragons.”
What did you do?
I was helping our friend. And we did help--the horrible rider didn’t hurt Ponth’s now, did he? Nimoth’s voice was saturated with self-congratulation. I also kept Travath on the ground for a few minutes, but got a headache from it.
“Oh, Faranth. I had no idea. She says she also kept Travath grounded for a few minutes.” Mendl put her head in her hands. What had she gotten into?
“Foreth talked to her,” Kassia said. “But you can see why I’m concerned. Apparently she’s got a talent for it. You’re going to have to step up and make sure that she’s not taking advantage of her power.”
“Yes, that is concerning. I don’t know...how can I tell? How do I know if she’s compelling or just asking?”
“You need to open yourself up to her more,” Kassia said. “It can be subtle, but you’ll feel it. Watch for dragons around her doing things that are weird or that she wants and see if you can feel it. Make sure she knows that you don’t approve. It’ll make her try to hide it, but that’s why you need to make sure you’re in control.”
“I...then it is my fault,” Mendl said. “I’m having trouble opening up to her. I’m afraid I’ll lose myself in her head.” She knew it was irrational. She knew it was borderline stupid. And after four months, how could she just let go?
“It’s not your fault,” Kassia said. “I went through this problem, but to a much worse extent. The reason we’re talking now is because I know what can happen. Foreth started to take control and I lost control of myself as well. But you’re in a much better place than I am. I think you can do this. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s impossible to lose yourself in her head. What can happen is that she takes control and you’re unable to control her. That’s the danger.”
“Really? I--I know I have a firelizard, and I guess I thought a dragon would be like a firelizard except bigger.”
“But it’s not. It’s so much more, and it’s so big, and I just feel like I’m not going to be the same person, because I’m no longer Mendl, I’m Mendl-Nimoth. And at the same time it’s wonderful and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” She was silent for a moment, but before Kassia had time to answer, she murmured, “I wonder if it’s harder for us because a gold is so intense.”
“Gold riders do seem to have a harder time,” Kassia agreed. “There’s an enormity to being lifemated to golds that no other color has. We’re mated to the dragons that Pern depends on most. The ones that rule everything. The ones that have literal power over the others. It’s a lot. And it can be scary until you know what you’re doing. Faranth, there are still sometimes it can be scary. Being lifemated to Foreth is a constant battle, though I wouldn’t necessarily model a normal gold-goldrider relationship after mine and Foreth’s.”
“And after what happened, I think you and Foreth are more normal than you realize,” Mendl said. “You had a rocky beginning, but it seems to have set you up for a better understanding to being a goldrider than most. I mean, I watch Kashara, and Rennitz, and Leila with their dragons and think why am I not having it as easy as they are? When I was a dragonhealer, I’d see any number of riders come in, and think that it didn’t seem so different. When Dytha Impressed, she didn’t change much at all. But I feel like I’m changing. A lot. And it terrifies me.”
Kassia didn’t argue about her bond with Foreth being normal or not. She knew she’d worked hard to forge something that worked between her and her lifemate, but something had never solidified between the two of them. She hoped to avoid that with Mendl and Nimoth.
“They have very different dragons,” Kassia said. “You become more than you are when you become a goldrider. Other than a Weyrleader, goldriders are the only riders that have no choice than to lead. And even then Weyrleaders don’t lead for life. You are changing. We’re going to start more and more goldrider classes as time goes along. You’ll start to take on that responsibility. With dealing with Nimoth you’re already starting to feel that responsibility. There’s something weird about having to be a lifemate and yet in control of such a strong-minded being. You have to start accept that it’s coming and it’s not going to hurt you. It’s holding back that will hurt you.”
Mendl nodded. “I guess it’s better to realize I have work to do now, rather than in another Turn,” she said. “I didn’t know Nimoth was compelling anyone. I’m sorry.” And she was, but a little part of her was also proud of her golden rebel for being so advanced. However, Nimoth could not be allowed to interfere like this again.
“We weren’t expecting this so early,” Kassia admitted. “Andronda and I can work with you on making sure that you are controlling her ability to compel. I’ll speak to K’ossen and make sure he knows you’re to work harder on your mental bond with Nimoth. If you need help beyond that, I’m sure that Andronda can help you with that as well and I can some, too.”
“Thank you.” Mendl realized that Kassia couldn’t spend any of her precious time training the golds; she had a whole Weyr to run. And it wasn’t as if Mendl thought Kassia would be any better of a teacher than Andronda, or Ko’ssen. And it wasn’t as if Mendl particularly liked Kassia. So why did she feel like the Weyrwoman was just handing her off to others?
She had to get a hold of herself and stop taking everything so personally. “I’ll make sure I work on the mental bonds harder. And I’ll make sure that if I think something bad is going to happen to someone, I’ll have Nimoth contact Foreth, rather than try to take care of it ourselves.”
“Thank you,” Kassia said, offering her a smile. “I’ll check in and you can always ask for my help if you need something.” She pushed to her feet. “This won’t be easy, but I believe in you. Dismissed.”
Mendl blinked at the curt way Kassia dismissed her, then had to laugh at herself. She babbled a lot. If Kassia hadn’t told her the interview was over, she’d probably keep the Weyrwoman here all day.
And she believed in her. That was the take-away from this meeting. She smiled at the Weyrwoman and left to go find Nimoth. It was time to let the barriers down.