A Target

Who: M’tan and Arlet
When: Month 2, 205 AT
Where: Tavern, Unknown
What: M’tan has a request for Arlet. Except… Is it really what it sounds like?

It’s been some weeks since M’tan has sent J’kson – and subsequently, Arlet and Akanyth – out to gamble at whatever locations J’kson is able to suss out. That he takes the majority of J’kson’s winnings for the Court is never up for discussion. He has placed no other requests on Arlet until today when he calls her to his ‘office’. His office, unlike most Weyrleaders or Holders, is held at a tavern some distance from the Court’s main residence. He’s seated at his usual table, with his usual glass of whiskey, and is idly flipping a mark between his knuckles as he watches the room and those within it. He’s got the company of three of his firelizards tonight. One particularly fat green is draped over his shoulders while the rest have taken themselves to the rafters.

Arlet hasn’t outright asked for anything since her arrival at the Court, the clothes that she’s slimmed down into now a mixture of what second hand garments she’s secured from the stores and what she had brought from Honshu to Fort before the baby necessitated a change of apparel, and now it’s beginning to show, her jacket patched, but serviceable, and the rest of her starting to look a bit threadbare. At least she fits right in with the rest of those at the tavern when she walks through the door, Akanyth left just outside to eyes those who leave and enter. Her hands shoved in the pockets of her jacket, Arlet makes her way over to M’tan and stands at the edge of his table to enquire, “What can I do for you?”

“You can sit,” M’tan replies easily as he glances up at Arlet. He lifts a hand and makes a ‘come-hither’ gesture with his pointer finger. A younger girl saunters over to M’tan and Arlet, sass in every step, and the smile she offers them both. “What do you prefer to drink?” M’tan asks of Arlet as he looks to the girl. “I’ll have another whiskey. Make sure it’s good stuff, Yana. I’m not in the mood for a headache tomorrow and I’m tired of Usif trying to save what’s mine for himself.” Yana looks to Arlet and waits, brow lifted, for her order to be placed before she disappears back into the crowd and heads towards the kitchens. M’tan pushes a ledger towards Arlet. “I know you’re traveling with J’kson, so I’ll get to the point. Are you visiting any of the Weyrs?” he asks a question he must know an answer for.

“Water,” Arlet states, either to be contrary or for reasons of her own that she keeps to herself. She sits down, keeping her back straight and hands folded in her lap. “When we’re close enough to a Weyr that Akanyth wants to chase, I let him. I’ve never entertained cards or games of chance, so I’m of little use to you or J’kson there, and Akanyth might as well get to do something he enjoys while we’re waiting for him.” One shoulder twitches. “We don’t stay beyond the flight. I’ve no interest in spending more time than necessary in a place that adheres to a system that thought he and I were better dead than surpassing a bronzerider.”

“So I guess what you’re going to say when I ask you //too// linger at these Weyrs is a resounding no?” M’tan asks, leaning back in his chair as he takes a final sip of his whiskey. Yana returns with water for Arlet and another glass of whiskey for M’tan. She swipes his empty glass and departs without speaking. She’s used to waiting on the bronzerider when he conducts business and moves about her other duties at the tavern. “J’kson can’t spy,” he tells her flatly, “I’m amazed he’s remained coherent enough to do what he’s been doing.” He lifts a hand, “I don’t want to discuss it more than that. I don’t expect you to defend him. However,” he takes a breath and sighs, “I lost the one person I had hopes of going about Weyrs and telling me what’s going on behind the scenes. It’ll be some time before I get another on the Sands, or trust another dragonrider with it.” He considers Arlet, “I didn’t tell your mother I was asking you this.” He leaves that information up for her interpretation.

“You can not want to discuss it all you like, but the fact remains that you’re at least partly responsible for J’kson’s continued drinking, so you don’t get to condemn him for it,” Arlet retorts, choosing to ignore what’s been said of Weyrs in favour of making her point. “He’s still working for you and he’s bringing in decent money. After the way you’ve treated him, it’s more than I would be doing in his position. He doesn’t feel that he’s welcome at the Court, and, given that I can only assume you put him on the Sands, you ought to be doing more to make sure that he feels that he has a home to go back to. You may be disappointed that it hasn’t worked out as you planned, but it’s in your power to try and ensure he doesn’t //feel// like a disappointment.” She lifts her glass and takes a sip from it before placing it down again. “I’m too high profile to spy. Weyrs know Akanyth. They know me as the female Weyrleader. The only information I’m likely to be supplied with is from those against the system who hope I’ll do something about it, and then they’ll //know// who passed on their words.”

M’tan’s brows lift upwards as Arlet goes into the specifics of his own failure of J’kson. “I have not told him he is unwelcome and he does have a home. I will not coddle him. I do not coddle you,” he reminds Arlet, “and I have allowed you to heal in your own way and in your own time since you’ve come to us. Forgive me if I respect J’kson enough to offer him the same. I am not his keeper,” he reminds her, “nor am I yours. He does what is asked of him because he is //good// at what I ask him to do.” He shoves a hand through his hair and takes another sip of his whiskey. “Being known isn’t the problem,” he tells her, “I don’t want you to be a spy in the sense of getting information from those who would otherwise not give it to you. I would like to know those that approach you. Those who are bothered by what was done to you. You will not be the only female Weyrleader in all of Pernese history. From what I’ve gathered, Honshu isn’t going to bar a bluerider from a goldflight. It stands to reason you may once more find yourself in a position to lead a Weyr. If you wanted to.” He considers her, “Or are you not going to push back?”

“Honshu is one Weyrhold – and one that was quite happy to let me suffer the consequences of leading Fort on my own.” Arlet makes no effort to conceal her bitterness. “That blue and his rider are the reason the Council turned on me. Before them, they may not have liked my being in power, but they didn’t feel threatened by it. I’ve no interest in supporting Honshu in its endeavours to legitimise the woman who nearly got me, my dragon and my son killed, by championing her right to sleep with the woman who passed me over for her.” She props her elbows on the table, her gaze sharpening. “They tried to kill her too. Murder is this Council’s answer to anything that threatens the order that they would have. Even if I were to attempt to win a goldflight again, I wouldn’t expect to live until the next morning, let alone want to make a Weyr support their intolerance.” Sitting back again, she insists, “What you’re asking is for me to become a target again. I’d be dead before I had a chance to be a revolutionary.”

“That is your fear talking, Arlet. I am not telling you to be more of a target than you already are when Akanyth flies at these Northern Weyrs. It’s clear you do not trust me, so do not do it. The Council will learn that murder is not exclusive to their own uses. I have removed those I had thought were the instigators. I am giving the others a chance to show their hand. The Council will meet soon to discuss Forts new leaders. They aren’t expecting us,” M’tan’s smile is predatory, “and we will be there. All I am asking, Arlet, is those whose bed you share you listen to if they want to talk to you. They may be trapped and see no way out. Listen. And that’s it. If you feel like your life is in jeopardy with this request go to your mother. She most likely will agree. You’ve been training with her. Use your skills. Or not.” He sips his whiskey. “As in all things, it is your choice.”

Arlet’s gaze hardens, her hands curling into fists. Only that moment, with more than a hint of her mother’s fury about her, serves as any warning before she’s on her feet, her glass in her hand and its contents hurled in M’tan’s face, the glass itself left to shatter on the table, no matter how close to the both of them the shards fly. “I am //not// your whore,” she snarls, slamming her hands down at the table’s edge. “If //that// is why my mother has been training me, you can both go Between and stay there. You’re sick in the head, both of you.” The string of expletives that she mutters on her way from the tavern are her only company, Akanyth’s temper provoked and a roar of warning delivered before they both vanish Between.

Sugar squeals in defense as the water splashes her. Her claws rake across M’tan’s shoulders in her haste to be airborne and take to the skies before she retreats Between. M’tan let’s the water drip from his face. Yana is at his side in moments as she hands him a clean towel. “You’re fucked,” she tells him as she goes about cleaning up. “Super, super fucked.” M’tan stares at her — his whiskey downed in one giant gulp. “It was a poorly executed decision of mine. Should I spend the night here?” he wonders aloud as he stares after Arlet. “Jet’s going to kill me.” He doesn’t wait for Yana’s answer before he rises and heads out to face the repercussions of his meddling attempts.

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