Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern: Prevent the Panic

Last chapter, the full plot of the book was revealed: Plague! The Black Death equivalent of Pern may have arrived on an unknown creature from the sea, and many are already infected, with several deaths recorded.

Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern: Chapter V: Content Notes:

(3.11.43)

Chapter V opens with Moreta being roused from sleep by Orlith and Sh’gall. The Weyrleader believes one of the riders may have brought the infection to Fort Weyr, and he’s having a panic. Moreta tries to calm him down and get useful information out of him, since he’s already gone into hyperspace and bathed in a very cold lake, thinking it will kill the infection. Moreta does actually get useful information from him about symptoms, incubation periods, and methods of suggested treatment before he stumbles off, still fully in panic and with some wine in him. Moreta goes looking for Berchar, a blue rider, somewhat incensed that the Gather was allowed to continue with the knowledge that infectious things might have happened, although Sh’gall seems convinced that nobody knew while they were going on.

There’s a stop at the recordkeeper for the Weyr, the previous Weyrwoman, Leri. Leri is getting on in years and has less joint function in the body, but it appears that her mind works perfectly fine. She has no gossip or information from the Records about any previous epidemics, but between Moreta and Leri, they quickly come to the realization of how bad everything could be and how far things may have already spread. Leri asks Moreta to send up the oldest Records she can find to see if there’s anything in them about a disease like what the planet is suffering from.

Heading back toward task, Moreta finds the Weyrlingmaster and explains the situation to him, including the need for records, which he takes on and will task his weyrlings to do once they’ve finished loading the firestone sacks and washed their hands. Still trying to figure out how not to panic everyone, Moreta stops for breakfast and tells the Weyr herdsman what’s going on, and he’ll go check the herds for sickness.

Finally, Moreta realizes she should tell her headwoman, Nesso, about this, and to phrase it as a request for a diet change, since “One of her most important duties as Weyrwoman was altering that diet from season to season.” The more I hear what the duties of a Senior Weyrwoman are, the more I’m surprised they get out at all, with all the micromanagement that they are responsible for.

Nesso already knows, having stayed up the night before and heard Sh’gall banging about in the beginnings of his panic. Of course, even in the middle of epidemic possibilities, there’s still time for snark:

Moreta knew very well why Nesso imposed on herself the night-hearth duty on a Gather night. The prying woman loved to catch people sneaking in or out; that knowledge gave her a feeling of power.
“Who else in the Weyr knows?”
“Whoever you’ve been telling before you came to me.” And she cast a dark look over her shoulder at Peterpar, who was trudging out of the Cavern.
“What did you actually hear Sh’gall saying?” Moreta knew Nesso’s penchant for gossip and also her fallibility in repeating it correctly.
“That there’s an epidemic on Pern and everyone will die,” Nesso gave Moreta a look of pure indignation. “Which is downright foolish.”

Nesso is soon convinced of the seriousness of the epidemic, but believes that Weyr people are hardy and not likely to fall ill to the sickness. Nesso seems quite sensible in this exchange and not likely to contribute to the panic. I still don’t see what justification Moreta has for being so snarky about her.

Having informed everyone but Berchar, Moreta asks for a lift from his dragon to the right place. Where she finds out from S’gor that Berchar has the infection and has been trying to medicate himself back to health, using things that Moreta knows and one thing she doesn’t. Having convinced herself of the reality of Berchar’s sickness by peering in at him, Moreta leaves instructions to talk with him once his fever breaks.

She heads to the storehouses to check on her supplies of medicine, then back to her Cavern to sleep, with Orlith encouraging her to not fret and to get rest. And, as the last chapter ended, this one also ends with the viewpoint character getting sleep and without much action.

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11 thoughts on “Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern: Prevent the Panic

  1. emmy January 15, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    bonus points: Multiple conversations between women!

    Also a minor note, I don’t think Berchar is a rider at all. His name has no apostrophe in it, and I THINK i remember him being a healer assigned to the weyr or something. Which is also interesting because it’s basically stated that Berchar is the lover of at least one male dragonrider. Is that our first character clearly gay by choice, without the possibility of being ‘forced’ into it by draconic needs?

    On the downside, the text is also a little snippy about that, referring to the bronze rider as “fully male” and not very comfortable with the relationships that the greens and blues have.

  2. boutet January 16, 2016 at 1:26 am

    Are there any illnesses/diseases/infections that can be killed by temperatures that don’t also kill humans? It seems odd to me for that to be such a thing. Especially if the illness is -inside- the body. You can’t hyperspace cool all your organs and such without, you know, dying. They are kind of inside the body and need to stay that way.

    Moreta’s job seems like information management more than anything. What seems strange to me is that she doesn’t have messengers stationed near her to relay the information. That’s a great job for the rider-hopefuls! Follow the weyrwoman around on her duties, learn about the various parts of the weyr, learn about running the weyr in case you end up riding a bronze, learn about politics and such, learn discretion. Don’t get eaten by tunnel snakes. Or search for queen potentials 6 months prior to the hatching and have those women be the message runners. Gets them used to the weyr, familiar to the people, familiar with the job. Give them some idea of what they’re getting into while they still have time to refuse to go out on the sands…

    With a good message system in place her job would be significantly less bother.

  3. Firedrake January 16, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    boutet: yes, that’s why we have fever. πŸ™‚

    To be fair, I think it’s presented as a panicky reaction rather than a serious attempt at a cure.

  4. boutet January 17, 2016 at 2:23 am

    @firedrake: I meant a cold temperature. The rider was using external cold, not internal heat.

  5. Firedrake January 17, 2016 at 4:01 am

    Indeed – but I couldn’t think of any example of that.

    There are various medical treatments involving extreme cold, such as cryosurgery for the skin, and apparently a brief chill can do good things for MS and arthritis, but I’m not aware of any use against disease.

  6. genesistrine January 17, 2016 at 6:20 am

    @boutet: or weyrlings. Messenger boy would be an ideal job for weyrlings; they’d learn Weyr administration by observation, and carrying messages to other locations would give them practice and increase the number of places they can visualise well enough to teleport to without getting co-ordinates from another dragon.

  7. Silver Adept January 18, 2016 at 9:16 am

    Oh, I must have left out a rider that’s present in the sequence, then. I do believe this is our first canonically gay relationship, and presumably one that is this way by choice, since there aren’t any indicators in the text otherwise. Thanks for the mention, author?

    I agree that message runner would be a perfect position for weyrlings in general. We’re already in a pseudo-feudal setting – pages and squires get collapsed into the weyrling role, but pages keep information going and learn the places they need to go, while reporting to the knights for their combat training. The drums are good for messages that don’t have to be there yesterday and are okay with being heard by everyone, but now that I think about it, it’s weird that there isn’t an already-established network of couriers for private information.

    As the things that die by cold applied to the surface, the only thing I can think of are warts.

  8. Brenda Appleby January 19, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    Sh’gall’s panicked logic was that since the cold of Between kills Thread, cold would be an effective treatment for the disease, too.

  9. Funaria January 21, 2016 at 12:18 am

    This conversation makes me think of Kylara’s abortion technique (jumping between). Between must be a magical cold of some sort, because being cold isn’t a problem for pregnancy unless you get hypothermia.

  10. Firedrake January 21, 2016 at 7:12 am

    Lessa’s megajump in Dragonflight didn’t freeze her to death. The effects seemed to be more mental trauma than anything else.

  11. Silver Adept January 23, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Yes, it seems like the real problem with the time jump was that prolonged exposure to the void was unhealthy for the mental state of the rider. If that holds true, then Kylara’s abortion technique and the grounding that pregnant queen dragons are forced to deal with suggests that once a entity has developed some form of proto-mind, exposing it to hyperspace is too much, and it fails. Which makes me wonder what the minimum age / maturity requirement is for surviving. If boys of fourteen and girls of ten are able to handle between, the threshold must be fairly low.

    Which doesn’t make all that much sense, either, knowing what we know now (and probably then) about mental development. Perhaps weyrlings and Craft apprentices and journeymen suffer an undetected mental damage with their early trips through, possibly arresting development of those who would be geniuses and inventors.

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