Not Much of a Choice

Who: Jet, M’tan, Joy
Where: Court of Shadows, Honshu Territory
What: Jet and M’tan agree to meet with Fort.

She may not have anticipated it doing so, but, in the time since Joy’s birth, Jet’s world has narrowed significantly to spending time with the new and early arrival, being all too conscious of the weeks that span the day she arrived and what should have been her birthday, trusting none but M’tan and the Healers that attended her birth with her should she have to try and focus on other matters. Arlet has held her newest sibling and seemed to show more interest in her than she did or has in Aadi, while Safiye has been too busy with Vesoviath to spend much time elsewhere, leaving Khyrisan to boast of seeing his sister the most and Sihrajet to happily muddle along, too young to be particularly interested in Joy. Kyramith has been on military alert since Eosyth’s visit, making her, for once, the more unpredictable of she and her rider, and while the murmurings in the Hold claim that Jet’s quiet and softer attitude cannot and will not last, for now she seems a mother first and everything else second, especially while she sits at the hearth in her and M’tan’s bedroom with Joy in her arms.

With Jet’s focus rightfully resting on their youngest, M’tan has made his presence more available at the Court and not so much in the outskirts of their territory. Today has been the first time he has left the Court to go and check in on the various ventures he has going in the outside world, leaving Sirhyth, particularly on edge as they leave for some hours. When he returns, Sirhyth bugles a challenge to any who may be present – only to find himself greeted with happy trumpets from the youngest dragon’s as he lands within the courtyard. << No one has come? >> he asks of Kyramith before he vaults back into the skies to join her on the alert. M’tan makes his way through the various hallways until he enters their suite of rooms. He settles his things in their proper place before he goes to find Jet and Joy in their bedroom. “How was it?” he asks as he moves to kiss both mother and child’s foreheads. “No issues?”

<< I have sighted no-one, >> Kyramith tells her mate, coasting high above the Court. << That is not to say that there are not out there, however. >> Jet looks up from the baby to offer M’tan a tiny smile, weariness clinging to its edges. “Nothing that anyone saw fit to bother me with,” she confesses. “Though I’m not entirely sure that that means that absolutely everything is in perfect order. We visited the kitchen and everyone wanted to see Joy, so there was no talk of anything but her, and I don’t remember exactly why I went down there in the first place anymore.” She gives a gentle shrug of one shoulder. “It’ll come back to me, I’m sure.” Her smile turns wry for an instant before she sobers and asks, “What’s happening out there? Anything that Kyramith and Sirhyth have failed to notice?”

<< They had best stay away >> Sirhyth notes with a snarl as he tucks himself beside her. << Otherwise we will not be so short-sighted as to not knife them like we knifed the healer. >> He must be sharing more of M’tan’s sentiments as his rider shakes his head and settles his shoulder against a wall. His arms fold in front of him as he considers Jet and Joy. “The news I’m going to tell you likely will make you angry,” he drawls to his wife, noting her hiding the baby as a smile toys at his lips. “But with Joy in your arms it’s probably the safest time to bring it up.” He pushes away from the wall to close the distance between them. His hand rests on the small of her back as he tells her. “J’kson has told us Isolwyn’s offered Fort’s aid to train Safiye and Vesoviath. It was her queen who came here looking. Vesoviath is reaching and sending out signals to other golds, I guess. Or, if what J’kson says, Eosyth’s mind is far-reaching enough she may have been the only one called.”

Jet narrows her eyes a little but keeps her focus on Joy as she questions, “How can we trust Safiye to a Weyr run by that man? That treated Arlet in such a way as it’s taken her over a year to recover?” The thought agitates her to the extent that she eases the baby from her arms and into M’tan’s so that she can stand and pace before the hearth without running the risk of unsettling Joy too much. “I nearly killed the man for what he’s done to Faranth knows how many women. He could well be of a mind to exact revenge on her the minute we turn our backs. J’kson may trust Isolwyn, but she doesn’t demonstrate any understanding of the kind of man I can only assume she’s sharing a bed with. And if she doesn’t understand that, she has no idea what danger she’s suggesting we put Safiye and Vesoviath in.”

M’tan takes Joy into his arms and as Jet paces, he rocks the baby back and forth with a tiny bounce to keep her asleep. “I’m not disagreeing with you. It would be a huge risk to let Safiye go to another Weyr, out of our direct sight and the safety of our people. We could ask Isolwyn to come //here// to train her. But that risks the golds influence over our people. I’m not entirely sure Sirhyth will tolerate a golds presence after all these years. He may not remember what it feels like to be grounded and controlled by one — but I do.” He continues to bounce Joy as he glances down at her with a faint smile. “After the dragonhealer, I’m unwilling to have any temporary outsiders in our doors. If people come here they have to be bound to the Court.” He glances up at Jet. “So, do we trust Isolwyn? Is there anything we can use to blackmail C’aol into leaving our daughter alone? What other choices do we have? Honshu is out of any future negotiations. We have broken their leadership in teaching them a lesson.”

“I don’t think anyone here will accept a Weyrwoman and her queen visiting as a long-term arrangement,” Jet mutters, pausing to stare into the fire. “Most of them are escaping some sort of traditional leadership and some of them are from Weyrs; we can’t invite someone of that sort back into their lives.” Her hands find her hips and stay there. “Can we ever trust a woman who turns a blind eye to the sort of thing her Weyrleader has done? Lady Silverfield’s wife wanted him dead. All we have to hold over his head is the threat of my finishing the job or revealing to the Council that he contracted the death of a Weyrleader, which then brings us into the line of fire for having done it.” She tilts her head, her stare distant for a moment as she ponders, “Unless he’s afraid of me to the extent that knowing I could turn up at any moment to protect Safiye and end him would be enough to keep him in line. If Arlet wasn’t set on this venture with J’kson, I’d be tempted to send her with her and have her purge Fort from her system.”

M’tan doesn’t answer any of the valid points Jet makes to their situation. He continues to lightly rock and bounce Joy as he watches Jet. “Arlet’s salvation to that story has come in distance and new beginnings. J’kson showed me the location for this venture. It’s on the outskirts enough to give them space in Bitra, and yet still draw clientele who go to Bitra for certain things. They’ll be the only dragonriders, making the calls. I imagine she’ll become the leader in that equation. We ran away from our problems, I hope to give her space to do the same unless she wants to face them.” He shifts Joy in his arms and considers Jet again. “We can send Safiye and one of the other younger dragonriders. So she isn’t truly alone. Or send them all, to let them all learn. It would let J’kson and Arlet go faster than otherwise would be needed. We could feel more confident that they have each other at least?”

“Send them all, on the assumption that the adults will protect Safiye, being the youngest?” Jet pauses, only to shake her head and plant her hands down on the mantel above the hearth and brace herself there at arms length to look into the flames. “If she’d accept them all, it’s a better prospect than sending her alone. That, however, brings into question whether we’d get them all back at the end. Their loyalty now is one thing, but after months at Fort, with all sorts whispering things in their ears? It could be a bigger problem than that dragonhealer was.” She straightens and stares up at the ceiling for a moment instead. “Not that we have much of a choice. Eosyth’s reach is one thing, but it still means that Vesoviath is either just that loud or has the same sort of reach herself. If she’s going to stay here, she needs to learn to be quiet.” With a sigh, she sinks back down into the nearest chair. “I don’t want our daughter anywhere near that man. Not only that, but w could end up //owing// him? It makes me…” Too many things to articulate, apparently.

“I don’t see any other way around it. I already have the information on him contracting the killing of the Weyrleader in corroboration with O’rlen. I have no such ties to the other Weyrs. J’kson is of us, vouches for Isolwyn, and we have permitted her presence at Arlet’s wedding. I feel like we may have more to leverage at least with her than anyone else. How involved is C’aol in training weyrwoman as a rule? I honestly do not see himself bothering, and once he knows Vesoviath is of Jynth’s stock… it may limit his involvement further.” He shifts the baby once more. “No solution will be a good solution for us. We have to decide what works best for any of us. I would reason we send at least one or all of them with her. We can trust they will return if we promise them reasons to do so. Or threats. Threats work best.”

“I just… I don’t even like that Safiye would be in a place where people answer to him, let alone him paying any interest in her or not. Just the thought of her being somewhere where he could be near her is…” Jet’s fingers curls into fists and she closes her eyes, taking a deep breath before she can continue. “…I know we don’t have any other options,” she murmurs. “But sending her to live under the protection of a man who has every reason to want to hurt her or worse feels like the worst possibly thing I could ever do as a mother – and I left her at Kadross in the first place.” She bites down on the inside of her lip. “…You’ll have to tell J’kson. I can’t… Not in any way that can keep contained how I feel about it. Not now, anyway.”

M’tan moves closer to her, shifting Joy into one arm with the practice of a man who has had more than one baby in his care. He reaches for Jet’s shoulder to squeeze. “I am not for one moment placing my trust in that man,” he keeps his voice edged with steel. “This is not a trusted placement. It feels as if I am back in time and I’m letting Hassoun dictate where our family is to be placed and worked.” He takes a breath and lets it out. “I’m concerned for her in another way… in having a dragon who is strong. Who, we cannot help her train or understand. Golds are different. We //know// that and that is as you said a reason people live with us. We cannot let Vesoviath grow into an adult… to place demands on others… to drive Safiye. I have no faith in C’aol. We will be checking on her routinely. I’ll send more of our people to watch.”

Jet gives a shallow nod or two, silent in her acceptance of what must happen, and pushes back to her feet to regard M’tan with a steadiness her continued shifting from place to place belies. “Tell J’kson we’ll attend a meeting to discuss matters further. But the minute that man suggests that he won’t keep Safiye safe, he’s fair game.” She takes a breath and slowly exhales, then lifts a hand to sweep gentle fingers over Joy’s head as she presses a kiss to M’tan’s cheek. “I need to go punch something and make sure it’s not a person,” is the excuse she gives to get out of the room and her acquiescence to that she can’t bear, feet hurrying her away so she can’t look back.

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