Sawas grinned, if anything, wider. “I’ll be hurling, Minis and Eminaias will be catching. Sorry, we’re running a little late today. We’ve had such good, strong rising air we wanted to take advantage of them today.” I’d asked him to just use my name instead of any titles the night before. “Once we finish with our other student.” Other stu…oh. Yes.
“Of course. Please, don’t let me interrupt.” My stomach was somewhere around my bootsoles. I was going to have to sit and watch Ky do this. I pasted a pleasant smile on my face and my backside to a chair offered me by one of the school apprentices.
Ky’s attendants finished wringing out her hair and braided it up tight once more… apparently for the second time that day. My… friend… my female best friend…was nothing if not persistent. Eminaias did his checks and launched to gain height. She strapped herself into the special relay harness, checking each buckle and every clip. She tested the ratchet that would lower her till it settled her on the ground and then using both hands cranked herself up right under where Sawas waited, patiently, after his enshachik… where others checked his harness while he hung from it.
“All good. All clear,” she said clearly. “All clear,” she repeated. My heart was in my throat. I really cared that they had a good launch.
I could hear Sawas as well as I could hear her. “You nearly had it last time. This time if you don’t hear that heavy click… and if the locking mechanism does not spin shut… don’t trust it.”
“I understand. I was too eager,” she answered him. I couldn’t see any more of her face than her cheek behind the heavy goggles and under the edge of the leather helmet over her damp hair.
“Exactly. Calm… and remember your timing.”
She nodded and off the edge of the Rim they went. I made a conscious effort to unclench my jaw and hands both. Joras, behind me, leaned forward and whispered in my ear. “She’s in excellent hands.” My answering nod was jerky as I watched them spiral up and up and up, chasing Eminaias who was already a dot against the blue metal sky.
They hit the height they wanted and began the swoop over the river, Kyriala in her harness separating from Sawas’s wing and seeming to float downwards as she cranked. It was necessary to give the two wings room to pass her between them, swinging like a spider on the end of a line, to keep the swept and rigid wings from fouling each other.
She signaled that she was ready and Eminaias dropped his weighted line, from above and ahead of Sawas. It fluttered down, the weight barely able to keep it steady in the winds. The open guide loop on the front of Sawa’s wing caught it, kept it slightly steadier until it dropped to where she waited for it. I couldn’t see the special glove that made it easier to snag the cable but I knew she had to be wearing it. I hadn’t looked for it before.
A loop of cable grew as Eminaias continued his forward swoop, both wings losing air steadily. She was clipping herself in. I could see the jerk she gave the second cable, testing its security. I held my breath. If it wasn’t correct she’d fall into the river for the third time today. And even if it was a lot less dangerous than doing this over land… if she hit wrongly she could be injured. Even killed. One cable is loose… the slack is being taken up…Sawas’s wing is dropping back. She’s attached to the other wing now…
I found myself dizzy, slightly, and took a breath as she began rising slowly up the correct cable as Eminaias began to circle to gain height once more. She did it! Oh, wonderful. That was really smoothly done. She did it. Before I did. Oh, fik.