::Tiny trumpets blare as Queen Honey Regina III buzzes into view, escorted by Aliwicious and her attendants. A couple of drones precede her to the podium, bringing an amber throne for her to sit upon. The camera goes into extra close-up mode on Honey as she sits down and the audience watches the big screen as she’s too small to see otherwise::


Honey: Thank you, one and all. You know, being royalty, it is not a simple thing to leave the pressures of my duties to be here, but for sure an auspicious occasion I made numerous sacrifices. Fluff my back pillow, would you, dear?


::Aliwicious obeys, bowing to his sovereign. Another drone hands her a list to read as another hands her a pair of golden spectacles attached to a golden rod::


Honey: Now, I am here to award the Best Short Story of the year. Of course, I am not short at all. For a bee, I’m quite tall.


::All of her drones hastily agree::


Honey: Now, let us see the list of nominees:


- "Small Stories", Ronnie Rabbit

- "The Clash of Two Cousins", Nicholas

- "I'm With You", Ronnie Rabbit


Honey: A very nice group to choose from. And now, let us see who the fortunate person will be to receive the award from me…


::Aliwicious receives the envelope and opens it, and two more drones hold the card up for Honey to read::


Honey: Well, it is “The Clash of Two Cousins” by Nicholas!


::The audience claps but nobody comes. The stage remains empty. The announcer smiles with a certain calm tenseness. It is an anxious five seconds::


::Then suddenly a cold wind blows through the audience and out of the nothingness of /between/ a dragon appears! Her 20 metre body fills the auditorium to breaking point. The gold dragon finds herself sliding towards the audience from momentum carried over during her jump through the hyperspatial dimension called /between/. She attempts to back wings, pushing wind into the audience. There is little space to manoeuvre but somehow she lands. Surprisingly, the stage floor take her weight, sagging only slightly. The dragon snaps her long wings together with an audible ruffle of wing membranes::


::Just behind the dragon's long neck, a lady in her mid twenties sits upon her riding harness. She pushes back her flight goggles, her dark ebony eyes glancing around the auditorium. It is a strange sight for the dragonrider. There was electricity at River Bluff Weyr but never had she seen so many light bulbs in one place::


Yarneya: Is this the 'Golden Acorn Awards' ceremony?


::Nervous nods answer from the audience. The junior goldrider takes it she has arrived in the right place-time. She elbows the guy riding behind her and he moves a little. He seems a little stiff from either shock or cold, though it was probably both. His black evening jacket wasn't quite as protective as he thought::


Yarneya: We are here Nicholas.


Nicholas: Umm.. yes. Ne..never knew /between/ was so cold.


Yarneya: Well writing about it like a Harper is one thing but flying it is another. Now get out of the riding straps and down to the ceremony.


::Gingerly, Nicholas climbs down Hydripheth’s forearm. The gold dragon snorts at his amateur and inelegant dismount. Nicholas nevertheless get to the floor and steps up to the podium, looking down at the award.


Nicholas: To borrow a phrase from Dragonrider's of Pern, 'By Farenth’s First Egg! This is indeed a night of Thread free sky!'


::Nicholas pauses, looks forward, and finds the audience staring blankly at him. Or perhaps they are staring at Hydripheth in the background. Hydripheth snorts again. Her multifaceted eyes shift from green to yellowed leaf green. The young golden dragon is getting impatient::


Nicholas: I take it that there aren't many authors for Pern dragonriders among you. Sufficient to say, I am indeed surprised at receiving this award. I wasn't even aware that I was in the running for the short story category! Thus I would like to thank the RR community for its nomination and votes. Specifically I would like to thank John Nowak for allowing me to include Widget in my RR fanfic. I would also like to thank Chris Fisher for his picture of Digit. The works of these two people are the basis of my own Ranger fiction and certainly the cause of me putting ink to paper...umm...keyboard to screen. Thank you.


::Nicholas walks up to Hydripheth, looking into her large eyes. The dragon glances back at him with whirling facets::


Nicholas: A ride home? Please?


Hydripheth: Hmf…what do you think I am? A beast of burden?::


Yarneya: Now girl, give the man—


::Her sentence goes unfinished as Hydripheth, impatient as was her nature, vanishes into /between/. Nicholas stares blankly at the empty spot. There's nothing much he can do. He throws his hands up and walks to his reserved seat, pondering how to get home. Queen Honey, her hair mussed again from Hydripheth’s entrance and exit, orders her drones to carry her offstage—while sitting on her throne. The do so, and Honey covers her hair with her cape while embarrassedly waving to the audience::