Bjorn huddled in the captain's seat. Why had they taken this silly cruise? All they saw were stars and more stars and now and again a rock. How very boring. His sister Ernyl loved it of course. She loved all these high society things.
"Are you here again?" The Captain asked.
"Right where the action is!" Bjorn whooped. The captain loved it when he did that.
"As much as I like that, why won't you go to the dining room to eat with your family? You can't stay here all cruise."
"I can try."

The captain shrugged and left him be. He was ok. Bjorn fooled around a bit more, pretending he was the fleet commander of an interstellar fighting squadron. He loved to do this, ever since he had been 12. He was 18 now and still very boyish. He sighed. This was his last chance to dream about a career as space captain. His parents were sending him off to become a lawyer. Nothing he could think off could make them change their minds.
"Lawyers are needed as much now as 1000 years ago." he squeaked, impersonating his mother.
He felt the urge to gag when he thought about becoming a lawyer and went to the bathroom. The room was silverish grey with metallic blue accents, like the entire ship. Bjorn looked at his reflection and didn't saw a lawyer. He was still plain old Bjorn, with brown hair and eyes and a figure that would get jealous looks from any anorectic patient.
He was washing his hands and humming a tune when he felt the thud of a ship docking. He hadn't thought it was time for a supply ship for another day or two. How much could 20 people eat? 
He left the bathroom and went for the command room. But after a step or two he turned round. Better he didn't trouble the captain now. He sighed. Back to his cabin it was.

"There you are!" he heard the high pitched voice of Ernyl singing.
"Yes, here I am." He sighed and laid down on his bed.
The worst part of the cruise was most definitely sharing a room with his sister. Ernyl was 21 and an utter airhead. She agreed with all their parents did and said. She had even enrolled in Medschool to please them. Maybe she was convinced she wanted to become a doctor, even if she fainted when she saw a trickle of blood. 
"Aren't you going to get yourself ready for diner?" She asked.
"Nah, I'm not hungry."
She shrugged and was off, closing the door behind her. How had she ever become so shallow? He used to adore her. Back when they were children he had spent every waking moment around her. He turned on his back and fell asleep instantly, a gift he had often misused.

There it was again. Bjorn lay awake, listening to the strange sound. 
He didn't know what it could be.
Well, he wasn't going to get more sleep with the thumping still audible. He got up, put on a fresh shirt and went out. The halls were only dimly lit, meaning it was still night. He checked his watch and saw that it was 3am. Where could Ernyl be? She feel asleep standing when you kept her awake past midnight. Maybe it was her playing a joke on him. Thumping so he had to come for her and the others. He sighed. 
He followed the thumping into the dining hall as he had expected, but what he found there wasn't a joke at all. 
"Thank God you came!" Ernyl shouted.
"What happened here?"
"I managed the wounded as good as I could, but my leg's hurt too."

Bjorn looked around and almost lurched when he remembered the red tablecloths had been white. He struggled to keep straight and looked closer to all the people laying on the floor. Most were dead. He felt tears come in his eyes when he saw his mother and father lying, bulletholes still seeping a little blood.
"Who?" he asked.
"Pirates, they docked before supper, barged in here and started shooting. I lost conscious after they hit me."
"Where's the captain?" 
"We think he's most likely dead."
"Me, mister Higgins and his wife and Selie."

Bjorn doubted about what he should do. He looked around to find hope and found it in his sister's eyes. She looked at him to know what to do.
I'll check the command room first, for other survivors and then I'll get back."
"Be quick."

Bjorn ran, his feet thudding on the metal floors. He turned a corner and saw no-on on the bridge. He ran towards the docking area and again no-one was there. If they'd killed the captain and his crew, they would never take the dead with them. But the alternative was almost too shocking to think of. He had trusted the captain. He had sat in his chair and laughed with him. How could he be a pirate?
He ran back to the dining hall, head down and legs working, he didn't want to think of any of it right now. It was all around him, so that was hard. 
Ernyl still lay where he had left her.
"Are they dead?" she asked.
"Worse, they are gone."
Ernyl only shook her head as she understood it. She hadn't known the captain like he had.
"Then help me get me and the others to the med bay. I'll need all the help I can get."
Bjorn helped her up and only then noticed the blood-soaked cloth on her thigh. When she said her leg was hurt, he had assumed she had broken it falling or something like that, not that she had been shot.   

A week had passed and things got worse. Selie had a bad fever and Ernyl was very concerned about her wounds. At least they still had food. But that would run out long before they ever reached home again.
Bjorn turned around on the captains seat, hoping he'd see something on the radar. A ship, a planet, anything. They couldn't keep drifting like this forever.
He closed his eyes and rubbed his temples, he had a headache. He opened his eyes again and there it was. A little blip on the radar. He grabbed the microphone, opened a channel and tried to reach the other ship. He finally found a good frequency when the ship was in view, she was orange, with weird black spots, making her look like a sleeping jaguar.
"Please come in."  Bjorn said, hoping this time he'd have it right
"Hello, this is Captain Develin from the Oker Darling. Who am I speaking to?"  A metallic voice sounded. Particles of sound transferred over miles of space had never sounded this good.
"Thank God you are here! We've been drifting for a week now!" Bjorn shouted back.
"What happened?"
"We were attacked by pirates, the crew is gone and only a few of us survived."
"ok, I'm coming in to dock and help you."

Bjorn sat back and waited for the auto-docker to do it's work. He waited for the lights to go out and then waited for this Develin to come into the ship.
"Hi there!" Develin said as he entered the command room. He was long and tall with red hair and a beard. He looked to be almost 40. But he looked strong, something he wasn't.
"Hi."  he said.
"Where are the others?"
"They're in the Medbay."
"They are all wounded?"

"No, but Ernyl has them working for her." His sister had been great through all of this.
"how many people are still on the ship?"
Develin asked.
"4 besides me."  Bjorn said, glad it would all be over soon.
"My ship can take that, though not for long, there's an inhabited planet nearby though, I'll drop you off there."
"That would be great, we're so happy you are here to help us."
Bjorn said, smiling.
"Don't just sit there boy, we need to get moving. Where's the Medbay?"
"I'll show you."
Bjorn said, making his face look serious.
The Medbay wasn't far from the command room. In it his sister was busy with Selie, while Mr and Ms Higgins were preparing the food. He introduced all of them when he entered and saw how glad they were to be able to leave the ship. He felt good for the first time since they'd taken this cruise.
"I'll run through the ship and check the engines, maybe we can salvage the cruiser too." Develin said.
"Do I need to show you around?"
"No, I can find my way, all these ships are alike. I'll be back for supper."
Develin left. Ernyl took him by the arm and led him out. She looked around the corners and waited a while. Then she turned back to him and said:
"Can we trust him?"
"He's a captain..."
Bjorn started.
"That didn't save us the last time. I don't like him wondering around alone. You should go to his cruiser and see if there's something there that could tell us what he's like."
Bjorn sighed, but nodded, they should be careful, they were "sitting ducks" out here. He went for the docking area, while Ernyl returned to the Medbay.
Develin's ship was small. How 4 people could fit in here he didn't know, but Develin had said they could. Bjorn didn't really find anything in the little ship, there was a long metal pipe lingering against the wall, waiting to be prepared most likely, he saw patches everywhere.
He turned and went back to the Cruiser and hoped Develin wouldn't find out he had been here.

Back in the Medbay dinner was just being served as Develin entered. 
"I'm sorry to say, but we can't salvage the ship. It's a wonder she's still floating." He said as he sat down.
"How come?" Ernyl wanted to know.
"The pirates shot your engine room to pieces and left running for safety. Luckily for you it didn't explode."
All fell silent. The food didn't taste as good as it had before. Bjorn couldn't believe how close he had come to dead, he couldn't die, not now, not yet. 
After they'd eaten everyone agreed a good night of rest would do them good. But before Bjorn could leave, Ernyl pulled him apart again.
"I still don't trust him. What did he do in the engine room? For all we know he trashed it himself." she said.
"No, you heard him; he wanted to bring her back, he would get a reward too." he said.
"Ugh, why don't you believe me when I say he's bad news! Then go! Sleep!" she yelled and went to the Medbay.
Bjorn shrugged, wondering why his sister wanted Develin to be evil so badly. He hoped she wouldn't do anything stupid. 

The next morning Bjorn awoke early. There was tapping on his cabindoor. He jumped out of bed and went to the door. Today was the big day.
"Hi Bjorn. Ready to help me move you out of here?" Develin said, laughing in front of his door.
"Yes." He said, letting the 's' linger in his mouth.
"ok, then. Let's get ready." 
Develin turned and almost floated down the hall. Bjorn wished he could move like that.  He ran after Develin, his steps sounding hollow all through the ship.
Everyone, but Ernyl was in the Medbay. Selie still turned and tossed feverish on her stretcher. The Higgins were busy making breakfast and talking in a rhythm he had never expected from them. They were as excited as he was. 
Suddenly Mr Higgins fell over a lingering platter. When he got up, Bjorn could see his ankle was hurt bad. It started to swell and colour blue. 
Develin lifted him, like he was only a child, and looked at the ankle. 
"Nothing I can do, " he said, "but you'll live, it's only sprained."
Bjorn tried to calm Ms Higgins who was near crying and screaming both. 
"Bjorn! He'll be ok, we just need to find him something to lean on to, I need you to look for it and return so we can carry Selie to the ship."
Bjorn nodded and left, running towards Develin's ship. The pipe he'd seen there would be perfect. Only when he reached the 'Orange Darling' he couldn't find it anymore. He searched the entire ship and was just wondering if Develin might have fixed it, when he felt a soft tremor in the ship. 
He had felt this before, they were undocking. How could this be? He hurried to the command post and saw Develin sitting there, pushing buttons.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
Develin looked amazed when he saw Bjorn, his eyes grew large and for a moment he thought Develin looked mad.
"My God, Bjorn! I'm so glad to see you. I went after you, because I remembered something we could use to help Selie, but then I felt the ship tremble. I knew she was going to blow and was only fast enough to reach my own ship. We're still not safe. She can go every minute."
"But what about Ernyl and Selie and Mr and Ms Higgins?"
"Don't think about it, they are death, I couldn't go back without dieing myself. Without killing you. It's so good to see you safe."  

Bjorn shuddered and sat down on the ground. Ernyl was gone too? How could that be, she was so strong. At least he had been right about Develin. He felt the shockwave before he saw the blast. It was beautiful in some way, lighting space brighter than any sun could and then dieing down. He laid his head back up his knees and felt tears running down his cheeks when all hell broke loose.
Lights were flashing, bells and gongs were sounding and Develin cursed.
"We were hit." he said, "Hopefully that planet I see is liveable."
Bjorn knew he was dieing, he saw the faces of the people he loved flash by. The last was his sister's as she told him: 
"I told you so."
Then he felt the crash and was momentarily off the world.

"There he isssss." he heard a strange voice saying.
"A little help please, Tuonov."
A big dark face entered Bjorns view and he fainted again.

"He's awake again!" a woman said.
"Good, I almost feared he would give up." Develin said.
"He's young and strong, I had no doubts." the woman said.
"where..." he asked.
"Icarus, Sidra Castle to be exact, Bjorn. We've been found by a Knight and asked to stay for the hatching."
he said before he felt himself slipping away again.


Bjorn felt the air warming up. He had never felt anything like it. When the signal of the imminent hatching was given Bjorn raced to Develin and asked him what he was hoping for.
"Any will do if they get me of this planet and back home." he said.
Bjorn thought it was a bit weird for Develin to act so harsh, but maybe he was a bit nervous about the mind pairing too. Bjorn was too, but he just got chatty when he was nervous.
Finally the mother and father of the clutch came out, leading 7 draklings. It wasn't until the last two draklings remained that Bjorn noted there were three of the aspirants left. Who would not pair a drak? he wondered. He looked intensly at the Night, was he coming his way? No, Bjorn sighed, only one to go and that one would surely go to Develin, that man was so good at surviving, so strong it was weird he hadn't been paired yet.
The remaining fire was called Darstov and pushed toward the two remaining aspirants. Bjorn looked and sighed. But then the drak wrapped himself around him, pulling him somewhat away from Develin. Why was that?
“He’s bad, he is. I don’t like him. Keep away from him, mine.” Darstov said and started pushing Bjorn further away toward the other draklings.
“What…I don’t…he saved my life.” Bjorn said, how could Develin be bad for him?
“Not for anything of a good purpose.”
At this Develin started laughing. Bjorn was a bit confused about all this talk about death and danger. Bjorn hardly noticed Darstov standing in front of him, his tiny body in a pose of protection. Bjorn tried to find Develins eyes. Did he know what the drak was accusing him of?
“You two coming?” One of the other new Knights asked.
"Yes!" Darstov quickly said and pulled Bjorn, who wasn't resisting anymore toward the feast.
Develin remained.


"Rider mine?"
"Yes Darstov?" Bjorn asked.
"Are you happy?"
What an odd question for his drak. Darstov generally was happy when he got to be in the middle of the action. At first Bjorn had worried that his drak might get hurt. Now he just laughed in the face of danger. Well, sorta. He still was more careful than Darstov.
"Of course I'm happy. Why do you ask?"
"No reasszon." Darstov said and laid his head back on his paws.
Bjorn looked down and was worried. Ironically because his dragon showed no interest in flying or diving in the sky. What could be wrong with him? Maybe it was time to finally join one of the armadas, granted Darstov was still young, but maybe if they took a test or something... Bjorn knew his Darstov was as good as any full grown drak.
He wouldn't tell Darstov just yet. First he had to be sure they could. It would have to be Sidra. Bjorn was still lingering there after the pairing. Develin was still here and though they hadn't spoken much this past year, Bjorn still felt obliged to stay. That and where else would he go?

"High Prince Vance!" Bjorn called out the next day when he finally got a hold on the high Prince of the castle. Bjorn still felt a bit unsure around him, not to mention he still didn't know how to speak directly to the man.
"I've been worried about Darstovv..."
Vance sounded worried.
"No, he's just a bit... well... bored it seems and I wondered if we could help in the armada, carrying messages or something..."
"I don't see why not, we still have some room. Messengers are always needed."
Bjorn smiled broadly, his face still very juvenile.

"Darstov!!!!" Bjorn yelled very load.
Darstov, still laying on the same place looked up. "
What, Mine?" he asked.
"We can fly in the armadas."
A brief flair of interest lighted the drak's eyes, but then he placed his head on his paws again and said:
"What, oh? You'd die to fly for real..."
"Fly, yes... armada, not yet, not until I'm truly adult."
"You know you are." Bjorn interupted.
"Yes, but I want to prove it, I want to sire."
Bjorn stood silent for a moment. Sire a clutch... would his drak be ready for that? Well it wasn't as hard on the males at it was on the females. But was he ready for it? Ready to walk around with the idea of little draklings of Darstov running around?
"Pleassse..." Darstov said, looking sad.
"Ok, then... did you have anyone in mind?"
"Why yesss," Darstov said, the fire back in his eyes, "I want to prove myself by wooing a female."
"So be it." Bjorn said, "But don't be disappointed when she doesn't like you..."
"I'll just try again then." Darstov said, showing the biggest passion since his first flying-trip.

Bjorn paired at
Castle DesCas