Not Quite Conspiracy Theories

Monaco Bay Weyr - Deep Jungle
Unlike the neatly kept path, the trees here crowd together into a darker, denser wood of arboreal trees swarming with natural plantlife and many species of animal from whersport to roosting wherries. Those firelizards that don't bury their clutches on the beach find the natural heat here a decent facsimile. Only those who wish for privacy well-away from the central clearings of the Weyr select the older structures here for their homes, but a few still do. In the distance to the south, Monaco's few low cliffs run right up against the forest.
Old-fashioned glowbaskets ring the small central clearing, making it a landmark in the otherwise dark wood. Though glows or small lights string out to some of the huts tucked away in the gloom, others are merely distant lights in windows that only their owners can find in the dark. Springtime has arrived on Monaco Bay Weyr, the flowers budding with wild abandon and all about new growth of the jungle seems to be the theme both in the animal and plant kingdoms.

What, exactly, has drawn Etinei this deep into the jungle? The spring morning is pleasantly warm, so that would explain why she's ventured out in shirt and shorts. Hunting fire-lizard clutches? Perhaps - but if she was, she's been distracted from that task. She's lying on her front on the ground at the edge of the little central clearing. There are a number of whersports of various colours resting in the clearing; a smaller one is near to where Etinei is, and the girl appears to be trying to coax it over with the offer of a biscuit held out in an open palm. Ice is sat on her back, claws dug in to her shirt, wary eyes fixed on the whersport as it sniffs curiously in the biscuit's direction.

Meanwhile, what has brought Wendyn this deep into the jungle? Based on the soft mutterings that surround the young woman, it seems to be something 'avoiding those creepy children'. The miner is at least quiet as she walks - picking her way carefully through the jungle rather than simply crashing - hopefully quiet enough to avoid scaring away the whersports. Whersports that, once she sees them, cause her to stop abruptly and look around, snorting as she spots an offered hand (and biscuit).

Wendyn's quiet approach manages not to disturb the whersports - but neither does Etinei notice her fellow crafter. At least, not at first. The snort is heard, and it's now that she oh-so-carefully turns her head to look in the direction of the noise. She peers up at Wendyn with a distracted smile, and then sloooowly looks back at the whersport that's so very interested in the biscuit. But also so very cautious. The hunger for food is overcoming its trepidation, and it's creeping closer to the outstretched hand….
A bob of her head, and Wendyn relaxes slightly, weight shifting to one foot as her hands go to her hips, and she watches the bait drawn in the creature. Biting her lip, she waits quietly, even as her eyes wander to the other whersports that are congregated around the clearing, and then back to that biscuit.

Nearly there…nearly. Etinei's eyes are widening as the whersport reaches in, extending its neck as far as it can to keep its body far away from her. In an instant it snatches up the biscuit and then flees back to the rest of the group - only the sudden approach startles the whole lot of them, and they go flying up in a flurry of beating wings and alarmed squawks. The fear is contagious, and the new owner of the biscuit goes flapping off in a fright, too - though with its tasty prize still clutched firmly in its mouth! Etinei stays there on the floor a moment longer, before pushing up to a kneeling position; Ice shifts to her shoulder, claiming his seat there. "I didn't think it would actually take it," she muses, looking to see if Wendyn is still there.

At the sudden rush of wings and noisy squawks, there is movement visible on Wendyn's neck, and a previously undefined lump lets out a rather 'dreadful' squeak of its own - or at least as dreadful as a sevenday old firelizard could possibly sound. Wendyn ducks instictively as the group flees, before straightening and moving towards Etinei with a sheepish face. "Well, I suppose you've solved a great unanswered question then… are children the only ones who like biscuits."

Ice stares up at the little fire-lizard - as does Etinei. "Oh - he's so small." Yes, young fire-lizards generally are, girl! She slowly gets to her feet, now that the whersport have all left, and brushes leafy detritus from her bare legs. "I like biscuits?" She says thoughtfully when Wendyn offers her observation. Then she pauses, frowning a little. "Was that a great unanswered question?"

Agate's tiny wings spread as he peers at Ice, trilling before settling down, and apparently deciding it is time to go right back to sleep, now that the excitement is over. "Do you? I mean, -I- like biscuits, but I used to be a child, so maybe that doesn't count." A soft laugh, and she shrugs. "Maybe. You can say it was, though, and no one will probably argue." Pausing, she tilts her head. "Do you have any more?"

There's no vocal response offered from Ice, a silent watcher from his perch, it seems. Once Agate settles down, the blue hunkers down, settling in. Etinei lifts a hand to touch the blue gently. She seems perplexed by Wendyn's laugh, but offers no answer to that. Instead, she puts her other hand into the pocket of her shorts, and brings out another biscuit. Never mind that it wasn't wrapped in anything while it was in there - she holds it out in offering to Wendyn. "Do you want one?"

"Thanks," Wendyn's response is cheerful and shameless as she takes the offered biscuit, breaking off a piece to pop it in her mouth, the action causing Agate to pop his head up in interest for another quick moment before he leans back into the miner's neck. "Did you come out here just for them?" The miner asks after a moment, even as she turns to peer in the direction the whersports vanished.

Etinei pats her pocket - nope, she only brought the two. Small pockets. Hands resting at her sides again, she smiles softly when Agate pops his head up. "Hm?" She takes her attention from the brown to Wendyn, then turns to look in the same direction as the miner. "Oh. Yeah. I frightened them off another time that I was up here…so I thought I'd see if I could try and…I don't know." She seems a tiny bit embarrassed now about the whole idea, and quickly comes up with a question of her own. "Did you out here for something? The cliffs are further along, aren't they?"

As Etinei pats her pockets in vain, Wendyn pauses, glancing at the remaining half of the cookie in her hand, offering it back to the other apprentice - its probably still fine, right? "At least you didn't scream, when they all took off. I don't know if I could have kept myself from laughing." A shake of her head and Wendyn's drawn out sigh seems just a touch overdramatic. "One of the youngest apprentices is.." A waved hand, "Infected? I guess that's the right word. But, they were looking for someone to keep an eye on him, and nope." No zombie kids for Wendyn, thanks.

A pause. But Etinei does take the offered half, a grateful smile given. "Thanks." Even though it's her biscuit come back to her/ Sort of? But Wendyn has chosen to give up half, so that's something to say thank you to. "I did scream when I disturbed them the other day," she admits, as she turns the biscuit over in her hands. "Oh?" Infection? In the craft barracks? That has her looking a bit more worried. "Do they know what he's got?" Concern is creeping in to her voice as it is to her face.

"I mean, if no one saw it, though, it doesn't really count." The screaming, that is. As Etinei looks a little worried, Wendyn waves a hand almost dismissively. "Everyone said it mostly is only kids. Like, little kids." Not their almost out of their teens-selves. "I don't know, something from Xanadu, everyone is saying. Like, it's their fault. And just that it's.. weird." A shrug. "I don't like watching healthy kids, much less sick ones that might be weird, when no one will even tell me what weird is."

If an apprentice screams in the forest…. Anyway, is Wendyn being reassuring? Etinei looks dubious. "Shouldn't they go to the infirmary, if they're sick? What if other people start catching it?" Like them, for one. She nibbles the biscuit, troubled thoughts still lingering in the form of a wrinkled brow. "Xanadu? I suppose it could be their fault, if someone from there came here and brought it with them…." She's playing devil's advocate - not pointing the finger of blame, but offering up a possibility.

"They were going to move him to some empty weyr, I guess, but they are afraid he is going to wander off. Like sick kids just.. wander off." Wendyn's eyeroll is clearly a reflection of how likely she things -that- is. "I mean, Faranth only knows.. Every time I turn around, someone has gone on Search or come back from somewhere, and.." How is she suppose to even keep track of that? "If I'm out here, I can't get it, right?" Is that a plan starting to form?

"Can't they…shut him in somewhere? Lock the door…." Etinei doesn't seem to be suggesting it cruelly. No, she's looking for a practical solution to the problem at hand. When Wendyn mentions people going off on Search, she does look guilty, and looks away as she eats some more of the biscuit. "Um…maybe." But is that a flaw in the plan she's seen? "But if it got from Xanadu to here…it could get to other places?" She turns a worried look back on Wendyn.

"You're welcome to tell them that, but the last thing I need is to be permanently assigned to watch them as a result of talking back." At the guilty expression that appears on Etinei's face, Wendyn blushes a little, shaking her head head. "I only meant it that people come and go, and a lot of them are young people, and if its kids that are getting it.." The miner stumbles through an explanation, trying to cover her earlier rash words. "I mean, I guess. Probably. Maybe it already is."

"They couldn't keep you there all the time?" Etinei asks, horror dawning. "You have to have time to study!" Literally the WORST thing she can think of, not being able to study properly. "Um- though, if people our age aren't catching it…maybe you would be okay, wherever you went?" The thought of this illness being elsewhere has hit home though, and her next is said quietly. "I hope it's not at Half Moon." Thoughts of the friends she made there in her head worrying her, even though none are little kids.

"Shards, I want your Masters." Wendyn mutters softly, as Etinei looks absolutely horrified at the thought of being stuck somewhere all the time. Shaking her head for a moment, she laughs softly. "Mine would tell me I am perfectly capable of studying wherever I happen to find myself." As the other teenager's mood turns somber, Wendyn tries to offer a reassuring smile. "My brother hasn't said anything, and he's a weyrling there. Even if I did get the -weirdest- sensation the other day.."

How much is the Masters, and how much is Etinei's particular (obsessive) brand of studying - well, that's another question entirely. "I suppose you could take a book to read," she concedes. But it's Wendyn's reassuring statement that she latches on to, all eagerness. Although…she does take a half step back when Wendyn mentions a weird sensation. "Have you heard from him? Is he doing well?" But - also important: "Wait - what sensation? Like feeling sick?" Back, ye demon!

"Probably take your little tinkering things too. Can't cut gems without the right equipment though, so I'd be stuck with my books." Wendyn shakes her head at all the questions. "No, I mean, I haven't. But I also haven't heard anything bad. I mean, I am sure he is just busy with everything." Biting her lip, Wendyn absently lifts a hand to brush the tiny brown on her shoulder's head. "Like.. someone was watching me. I.. don't know how to explain it."

Etinei inclines her head in agreement. "Yeah. But…books would be better than nothing?" So says the reading-obsessed nerd. She listens with plain curiosity as Wendyn tries to describe the feeling she had. Less unsettled, more bemused, she goes for practical consideration of what might have caused that. "Hm - um. That doesn't sound like being sick." She's no healer, though. "And nobody was around?" Finding a reason for it makes it less - well, scary.

"I suppose books would be better than nothing." Wendyn agrees, if only to satisfy Etinei, perhaps, though as they discuss the odd feeling further, the miner shakes her head. "No one was around.. It was just.." Weird? "Odd." She finishes, with a shrug, before out of the blue, her attention snaps back to Etinei. "You've had alcohol before, right?" The miner asks, eyes narrowing slightly, as if all the talk of books has her questionning the Techcrafter's exposure to the real world.

Etinei is deeeefinitely keeping a neat little space between them now as Wendyn tries again to explain, but…doesn't quite bring any more clarity to the whole situation. "Um - a little," she asks, puzzled. Is this related to the 'feeling odd' thing? "After the hatching at Half Moon. But not much, I started to feel a bit sort of - light-headed."

Related? Only if Wendyn has squirreled from one weird experience to another, without explanation, as she is apparently quite good at doing. At Etinei's mention of feelign a little light-headed, Wendyn giggles softly to herself, waving a hand. "That sounds about right." But then it seems, she will actually explain.. or at least start. "Just wondering.. I met the -weirdest girl- on the beach, the other day. But then I wasn't sure if.. maybe she wasn't the weird one."

Confusion is still evident there in Etinei's expression. Though Wendyn doesn't seem to be going totally insane, despite the giggling, for there's further explanation. Of a sort. "I - I met a girl swimming naked in the sea," she says, dropping her voice as if worried someone's going to overhear. (Out here this far in the jungle?). "Was…was yours doing that, too?" She's almost begging for reassurance that she's not the only one running across nude swimmers.

"Thankfully this one had clothes on, but she was just walking along, and nearly ran into me. In the -weirdest- dress, that definitely isn't what you wear to the beach." Wendyn's voice drops, even as she glances needlessly around the jungle. "She was more than a little weird. Like.. you know babies that get dropped, and aren't all there? Sort of like that." Pause. "I didn't realize anyone could be so.. dumb." Rude? Probably. Or perhaps just a short tolerance for stupid. "Was it a chubby little blonde?"

It's hard for Etinei to comment on the girl's fashion choices, given the circumstances under which she met her. But she does cast her mind back, blinking, and then brightening. "She was blonde! And - I guess she was maybe a bit chubby?" Hard to say when you were trying not to look too much at the general body area. "She nearly ran into you? What sort of dress was she wearing?" She's completely intrigued by this whole thing. "She was - Viora?" The name comes back to her, and she offers it eagerly.

"Like.. something you'd wear to a gather dance, at a big hold.. Like she'd run away from a gather and been wearing the same dress ever since." Wendyn bites her lip as she ponders the encounter, shaking her head. "She was just -so odd-. I wonder if renegades captured her and she just escaped or something." And now the miner's guesses are getting weirder by the moment themselves. As Etinei mentions a name, Wendyn's eye snap open and she nods. "That was her!"

Etinei lets herself be drawn into Wendyn's speculation, gaze going distant as she imagines a girl on the run. An escaped prisoner, fleeing the criminals trying to find you. Except… "She…didn't seem on the run when I met her," she bursts the bubble on that idea - for herself at least, shoulders sagging as she mentally discards the runaway story. "Or maybe that was before she escaped?" No, that sounds too flimsy even as she says it, and she sighs. "I don't know, but…she was swimming in the sea naked. And it was sunset, so it wasn't very warm, either." The way she says that implies she thinks that's rather crazy, looking at Wendyn for agreement.

"Oh… true." Wendyn's disappointment is evident on her face, shoulders sagging as she deflates some. "I thought it was going to be the greatest story I'd come across.. 'girl escapes from life of captivity'.." And then, the miner is wrinkling up her nose. "I mean, sure. We're at a Weyr, but she said she wasn't.. that she was from.. some little hold or something. Said its why she didn't know what alcohol tastes like, or even where to get any." Judging? Yep. "Its been a few days, since I saw her. Hopefully she…" Didn't die? Wendyn won't actually voice that concern.

The curiosities that one can find on the beach! "I didn't know she was still here," Etinei muses. The thought of the girl's survival doesn't seem to be on her mind, and she doesn't outwardly look concerned. More…quietly contemplative. Then a thought does occur, and she has to voice it. "You don't think…could she have been sick, and brought it here?" Mysterious girl turns up on beach; people start getting sick. Is there a link?

"Oh." Wendyn's single word in response is soft, eyes widening slightly as she plays it through. "Maybe.. maybe she did." Wendyn bites her lip, shaking her head a little shivering despite the warmth of the jungle. "Shards.." She adds again, before glancing back towards the Weyr proper. "Should we.. should we tell someone? To make sure they know, incase she is sick somewhere?"

Etinei doesn't seem to have quite the level of worry as Wendyn does, but she does look concerned. "I - I don't know. Could they even find her? I don't even know where she's living…." She's trying to think back to the conversation she had with the woman. "I think she said a rider had brought her here, but I can't remember where from." She sounds frustrated that she can't remember. "Maybe - maybe one of the healers?" That's her suggestion, eyes wider now as the full ramifications of what this could mean sink in.

"She just.. was really weird about it. Wouldn't really say where she came from.. or where she was living.. or.." Wendyn shakes her head a little, and then at the mention of the healers, the miner thinks for a second, before nodding. "That would be best.." Tiny Agate is shifted to be more secure on her shoulder, before she is turning towards the weyr. "Coming?" She asks, before she is on her way towards the Weyr without waiting to see if the other young woman is following.

At least Wendyn couldn't get any more information out of the mysterious woman than Etinei could (or can remember getting, at least). She does nod that she's coming, but the miner's already off, leaving Etinei to catch up with hasty steps to join her on the route back to the Weyr proper - and, hopefully, someone who can help with the situation.

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