Target Practice

Who: Aerishani, Riel, Amorenth, Mikketh
When: Backdated
Where: Meadow, Honshu Territory
What: Aerishani and Riel play with the Smithcraft’s new toys.

It’s summer on the northern continent but at the Smithcraft Hall near the edge of the range, the temperature is comfortable as a gentle north wind cools the heat of the sun. Honshu’s Weyrlady and brownrider Riel have become familiar faces to the Hall, and today the Craftmaster provides them with wooden cases. “Consider these to be on loan, Weyrlady,” he insists with a smile. “And feel free to find somewhere /away/ from the Hall for target practice.” A not so subtle hint, perhaps. In the wooden cases lay firearms, rolled up cloth targets, and enough ammunition to entertain Aerishani and Riel for a few hours. Riel gleefully accepts hers and it’s only professional restraint that keeps her from hugging the Craftmaster on the spot, unable to keep the light from glowing in her face. Mikketh shares an image of a meadow on the edge of a tree line east of Plains Hold where targets can easily be fastened to the trees. << Shall we? >>

One of the more unsettling things about Amorenth is that what one sees in her gaze is not always what one would expect, her quiet glee at the possibility of what the weapons mean swirling in the oranges and reds of the facets of her eyes, not a shred of anger in the unnatural stillness of her sphinx-like posture. << Living targets would be more interesting, >> she opines, yet she rises, ready to employ the image Mikketh has shared with her. Aerishani manages to curtsey and cradle the box without losing her balance, unable to keep from smiling a tiny smile as she tells the Craftmaster, “As you wish,” with a hint of Amorenth’s predatory nature colouring her voice. As she turns to move out and back to gold and brown, she waits only for Riel to fall into step with her, trying to keep from running off in a less dignified manner than the long stride that she maintains. “…I hope the metal stands up to Between…” is her last thought before taking to the skies and vanishing, to reappear over that meadow.

The prospect of living targets isn’t one Mikketh had thought of. To him, killing living things happens with claws and teeth. To consider anything else makes the plinking melody of his mindvoice fall to flat, uncertain notes. Mikketh delivers Riel to the meadow floor not far from Amorenth before winging off to sunbathe in more peaceful surroundings, leaving his rider to excitedly uncase her revolver. She gasps with delight as she lifts it out of the case with reverent care. “Come to momma,” she croons with wonderment and strokes from barrel to action. “Aerishani, how much trouble will you be in if we don’t return them?” Her sentence punctuated with an innocent smile aimed over at the Weyrlady. “Have you thought about what they might be used for at the Weyrhold?”

Unable to resist the chance to observe something that might, one day, spill blood, Amorenth finds a spot at the edge of the meadow to lounge down into and resume that same stillness as before, her gaze now whirling through ambers and yellows as she observes her rider and Mikketh’s. “I don’t know, but I’m almost willing to get chased across the planet for them,” Aerishani has to admit with a wry smile from where she’s sunk down into the grass, skirts and the tails of her jacket pooled around her as she unclips her case and lifts her own revolver into the sunlight. “You’re happy to go on the run, right?” With one hand, she unbuttons her jacket, leaving it to slip from her shoulders as she stands. “Other than breaking up brawls?” She must be joking. “Cleaner kills for the meal table, I suppose, as long as no-one eats a bullet. Maybe the Beastcraft would be interested… I ought to tell O’rlen.” At least she has the decency to blush with that last confession. Retrieving some of the targets, she begins to head for the tree line.

Riel softly laughs, a burbling of amusement as she follows suit and takes her targets to set them up as best she can on thicker tree trunks. “I’d say we could do it if not for two minor snags: one, eventually Amorenth would go proddy, and two, we’ll run out of bullets before it’s dinnertime tonight — although I wonder how the world would react to a rogue gold rising out of hiding for her flight.” A target fitted to the tree, Riel walks to another tree to set up a second target a little higher. A look is cast over her shoulder to Aerishani, blonde hair tossed out of the way. “You haven’t told him yet? He doesn’t wonder where you go?”

“It’d be okay,” Aerishani chirps, just as she finishes attaching a target to a tree, stepping back from it to let her feet carry her over towards Riel. “Mikketh could catch her.” There’s very little indication of her intentions when she leans in and makes to deliver a peck of a kiss to the brownrider’s lips, smiling broadly as she draws back and heads past her to select another tree suitable for her remaining target. Blithely oblivious to what she’s done may or may not indicate, she gives a twitch of one shoulder and admits, “I love him, but I’m not obligated to tell him where I am at all times. And maybe it’s selfish, but I don’t want the Smithcraft meeting with him and deciding that he’s the one they should speak with now just because he’s a //man//.”

The unexpected kiss draws a sound of amusement from Riel as she resumes trying to set up targets. “It’s not quite the way I had hoped we’d inevitably catch a gold but you’ve managed to seduce me,” she offers in jest. With targets mounted, she heads back to her revolver. A glance is spared for Aerishani while the brownrider ties her hair back and away from her face. “I /definitely/ don’t want the Smiths deciding to speak with O’rlen now over you, so if it’s selfish, I am in full and unwavering support of it.” She begins going through the motions of preparing her revolver just as they have been taught in prior visits. It isn’t quite second-nature yet but she’s competent if not particularly fast yet. “Is he the type of man to take over things like this and put an end to our fun?”

“I thought most bronze and brownriders were looking for any way that they could catch a queen,” Aerishani utters dryly, retreating from the tree line to hunker back down in the grass with the case and all its accoutrements. “If he knew that it was important to me, I doubt O’rlen would interfere,” she murmurs thoughtfully, tipping the revolver into the light to get a better look at what she’s doing. “But that might be simply because it’s //me//. If he saw merit in taking over something and bringing it in a new direction, I think he’d do so. I wouldn’t go over his head and do something that would impact Honshu based solely on what I want; we’re meant to lead together. Other Weyrleaders might make a show of not being at each other’s throats… but I hope Honshu never has to. It’s not how it works.” Straightening, she brushes off her skirts and levels the revolver at nothing. “Would you stop me, in his position?”

Riel pauses while loading her revolver to look for the expression Aerishani gives along with that dry remark. For her part in the cause of the Weyrlady’s plight, Riel’s apologetic grimace is tainted with the warmth of friendly conversation. “Does it make me sound worse or better if I admit that half the fun is the competition against other males?” She feigns chipper sunshine: “So see? It’s not all about catching a gold /any/ old way. Some of us have skeezy, macho standards.” Riel takes a safe distance from Aerishani before she aims her loaded revolver for the target on one of the trees, blue gaze fixing on bulls-eye. “Stop you from stealing shiny toys from other factions and running away with a charming brownrider? Absolutely.” She pulls the trigger and for all the deafening sound it does little more than chip a small hole into the outer edge of the target. Riel pouts with disappointment and her gaze swings back over to Aerishani. “Pretend you didn’t see that.”

Aerishani closes one eye, then the other, trying to better judge exactly where she should be aiming when she levels her weapon towards one of her targets. “I guess it’s a bit like how Amorenth feels about other females. She doesn’t //want// male attention, but she still wants other golds and greens to understand that she’s the one they should be looking at.” Dutifully, she chooses a random fluffy cloud to stare at, feigning distraction as she claims, “I saw nothing,” of Riel’s shot, not that the one that follows is much better. She hasn’t quite got the hang of the recoil and sends her bullet too far north of her target as the firearm kicks back, ripping a low curse from her. “We’ll say I was distracted by a charming brownrider and call that a false start.”

Riel reluctantly lingers on the end of Aerishani’s comparison, gaze wandering away from the Weyrlady and along the edge of the tree line while her revolver is safely pointed at the ground with intention. “Yes… Maybe. It’s like earning something because we deserved it rather than getting something because we were the only option or because things were stacked in our favour.” She wrinkles her nose and glances back at her companion. “Talking about flights feels weird when I’m talking to the rider of a dragon Mikketh has chased and not talking about it to a bunch of weyrlings in a sterile classroom environment. Want to shoot some trees up and then go for a few drinks? We can plot our escape and pick our fake names.”

She can’t mean to laugh, but Aerishani does, warm though it is and touched with an edge of necessity’s hysteria. “Why?” sounds more rhetorical than anything. “A couple of years back, I was a crafter with no-one interested in who was occupying my bed. Now? I have to accept it’s different. We all do. If we wake up in bed together someday, then welcome to Honshu’s leadership, but I won’t expect you to stay there or think beyond whatever flight has happened.” She shrugs and takes aim again. “If you want into my bed anyway, that’s another matter, but, right now, you’re a shot behind.” Or Riel is once Aerishani fires once more and skims the outer edge of the target. Tilting her head, she remarks, “Getting better.” Then: “Come on. Let’s not leave until at least one of us has hit the centre. Then drinks. I’m thinking of a name with at least six syllables for you.” And maybe later there’ll be other shots to have and no chance of weaving together six syllables at all, but it’s worth it.

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