Lunch and Evil Eggs

Day 8 of Month 5 of Turn 2720
Half Moon Bay Weyr - Living Cavern
Here is the center of Weyr life, the living caverns. These two main rooms were man-shaped from smaller caves, and are joined by a carved arch with depictions of dragons in flight and dolphins leaping in swirling waves. One room has many round stone and wooden tables and a stone fire-pit instead of a hearth. Over the round-walled, gas fired pit is a large conical hood made of polished bronze, with reliefs of dragons with their riders flying over ships guided by dolphins. This hood and chimney keeps the room smoke-free. Through the archway is an enormous hall, with long tables and benches, some carved from the rock floor, many crafted of wood. This room is a combination dining and meeting hall, and can seat over 300 comfortably. Above both rooms, angled shafts lined with polished metal bring in sunlight during the day. Electric lights also burn, day and night.

Lunchtime at Half Moon Bay is busy. Perhaps more so to Etinei because she's used to eating at weird times, when she's been told to take a break from reading whatever it is she's found, and actually get some food in her. Here, there's a routine to stick to - for candidates, at least - and thus she has to join the main throng. Having crept through the crowds, she'd managed to get a plate with a smattering of food - just a couple of bread rolls, some slices of meat and cheese - and has secured a seat at one of the long tables, near the end, where she can begin to - slowly - eat. As she does so, she looks about at the hubbub with unrestrained interest, attention more on that than the food.

Teinon would typically eat lunch early, since anyone who works with animals ends up getting started before the sun. But his habit of an early lunch has the bonus that he rarely has to deal with mealtime crowds. But today, he didn't really have much choice in the matter, so here he is, crowd-jostled and harried, trying to make his way through the lunch line. Somehow, he makes it through and out the other end with a plate full of odds and ends, and a glass of water. He takes the first seat that seems reasonably out of the way of the crowd, which just so happens to be next to Etinei. He even offers her a smile of greeting as he settles in to enjoy his meal.

Etinei is watching a couple who seem to be on the verge of an argument, eyes wide - and then there's someone next to her, and it's Teinon! Etinei gives the man a little smile back, swallowing her current mouthful before she speaks. "You're snatching some time for food, too? I've been sweeping and tidying the caverns all morning…I didn't realise it would be so tiring." She seems pretty chatty this afternoon. Picking at the next bit of her food, she asks: "what are you doing today?"

Teinon is happy to let Etinei be the chatty one. It gives him time to shove a bite of food into his mouth. It's a small bite, but he chews it enthusiastically. He produces a sheet of paper (at this point, much-erased), so he can answer while he chews. "Rider Intern," he scrawls. "They brought in a translator. He's breaking for lunch, too." He doesn't look particularly exhausted, but he's grown more solemn over the time since candidacy started. He adds a quick note, "Caverns isn't bad. Better than laundry." Then he pauses to have a drink of his water.

Etinei eats as she reads what Teinon's writing, leaning over towards him to get a better look. "Oh, I haven't done that yet. It must be interesting." She's nibbling on her meal, as interested now in talking as eating. "Laundry's hard work. My arms ached for days after - and then I had to help with gardening. I hope it does get easier, like some of the girls were saying, or I think they might well drop off." She sighs, but there's a glint in her eyes and a slight smile that implies she's joking.

Teinon grins a little, but he stops to have another bite before writing a response. When he does, it's with a glint of humor. "Dad used to say: Hard work makes hard muscle." He winks at her, and as an afterthought, he writes, "Have you touched the eggs?"

Etinei's patience is there again. In fact, she can use Teinon's pause to eat to finish the last of the meat'n'cheese roll. Not being distracted by having to put food in her means she can pay more attention to chatting! She reads his latest, and though she doesn't quite understand the humour in the wink, she does smile. "I expect I'll be hard muscle by the time they hatch, then." She nods when he asks about touching the eggs, expression becoming contemplative. "Just once, so far. I wonder if we're supposed to feel if one of them is right for us?"

Teinon shakes his head and writes a quick reply out. "I don't think so. No one seems to know before they Impress." He taps the tip of his pencil on the paper, staring at it for several long moments before writing another question. "Did any of them make you remember bad things?" He slides the note over, watching her with a wary curiosity as she reads it.

Etinei's eyes flick over the paper, reading. They linger for a long time on Teinon's question, and for a moment it seems like she isn't going to answer. Her eyes don't even blink, not even when they lift to look at Teinon's face. Her voice - always soft - is even quieter as she says. "Yes…there was one that did that. I don't have any bad things to remember but…it made me feel like I did." She's clearly unsettled by the experience.

Teinon watches Etinei, and almost looks like he regrets asking the question. He scribbles a quick note and passes it over with a little apologetic smile. "Sorry — But I'm glad someone else felt it, too." He goes back to his food, more contemplative than ever, and washes down the latest bite with a mouthful of water.

Etinei puts her fingers on the note to pull it closer, to look at it better. Her hand remains there, fingertips pressing it onto the table. Her gaze is distant as she thinks back to that experience. Then she slides the paper back to Teinon and straightens up in her seat. "Were there any you liked? There were a couple that were really interesting - if we touch them again, I'm going to go for them."

Teinon glances back and his expression softens into a little smile. He pulls the paper back to write, "I didn't _dislike_ any. They blunder around like babies because they are. The one with the little red spot is funny, though. It plays music." Then he's back to eating while she reads.

Talking about the nice eggs is much more comfortable for Etinei, and she seems more relaxed now the conversation has moved on. "I haven't touched that one," she admits, then adds: "I liked the iridescent one. It was like being weightless, and in the dark, but it wasn't scary at all." Not like some of the eggs!

Teinon tilts his head a little, one brow going up. He writes, "Sounds like Between. _Sounds_ scary." He taps his pencil on the paper, thoughtfully, and then writes, "Avoid the kind of bluish stripey one. It looks innocent, but it's really scary."

Etinei shakes her head. "No, no - it didn't feel scary to me. It was…" She stops herself and gives a small, apologetic smile. "Maybe it's just me that likes it." When she sees the description of that egg, her eyes take on that uncomfortable look again. "That was the one. That one and the bit that looked like a rose. I'm not touching those ones again." That's stated with absolute certainty!

Teinon nods a little, and chews on his lip again. He sets the pencil down to focus on his food for a bit. Eventually, his plate is nearing empty, and he ventures back to the page with the pencil. "Do you think we affect the eggs as much as they affect us?" He pushes the paper over to her, with a return of that solemn expression.

Etinei settles into the silence, allowing herself the time to let her gaze wander across the room. She's not really seeing the people, though; her thoughts are elsewhere. The scratching of pencil on paper draws her back to the present, and she looks at the paper Teinon pushes to her. Her brow wrinkles as she thinks about that. "I…I don't know for sure. But I'd like to think we do. It felt like they were interacting with me, and some of them were trying to learn about me?"

Teinon nods but he doesn't have the positive reaction that she voices. If anything, he just looks a bit grim about it. He sighs, but swallows the last of his water, then clears his throat. "I should get back. Thank you for talking to me." He leaves the paper long enough for her to read it while he tucks away his pencil and gathers up his tray. Then the paper gets folded up and tucked away with the rest.

"Any time," Etinei murmurs, thoughtful again as she watches Teinon gather up his things. Then it's as if she's forgotten he's there, as she turns her head, looking towards the fire-pit but not seeing it. There's a lot for her to think about, and seemingly not enough time to consider it all.

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