The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall: The Second Weyr: All Ahead Full

Last time, rumors abounded about the placement of another Weyr, a necessity for the burgeoning dragon population. We also learned a lot about how Weyr customs were established (they happen mostly by Sean or by accident), and that Sean should, by rights, have a queen mutiny on his hands based on his administrative practices with them.

And that Sorka’s a bit jealous of another queen rider, and ready for her son to settle down into a relationship by becoming a Weyrleader.

It’s a whole barrel of fun.

The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall: The Second Weyr: Content Notes: Dragon sex, dubious consent

We last left the plot with the announcement of four new Weyr sites to be founded. Sean, rather than assigning riders to the new locations, has decided to let the Wingleaders and queen riders draw lots to see which of the five Weyrs they will be assigned to, exempting himself and Sorka from the draw, naturally. Torene is the last to draw before the absentees, and she pulls the Weyr she wants to go to, the one that she’s been scouting for a good long while. In addition, Sean says that the first queen to rise to mate at each of the new Weyrs will be the one that has a Weyrwoman in charge, and whatever dragon flies them creates the Weyrleader for that location.

This changes Torene’s delight to suspicion. She knows her queen is going to be the next to mate, and this makes her wonder whether the whole thing has been arranged for her benefit. Faranth is no real help, just saying that Sorka and the dragons think she’ll be a good Weyrwoman. The other queens selected also seem to think that Torene’s been picked specifically to lead a Weyr when everyone gathers to get to know each other. Dagmath’s rider finally gets a name – Martin, David Caterel reveals the Hold tithe plan that everyone is agreed to, and they talk about grubs for a bit:

Everyone knew that it would take several hundred years for grubs – the anti-Thread organism that Ted Tubberman had bioengineered – to spread across the Southern Continent in sufficient density to make ordinary vegetation less vulnerable to destruction by those deadly spores. And only once the new life-form was well-enough established in the south could colonies of it be transferred north.

Nobody mentally or physically spits at the mention of Tubberman’s name, which suggests that he’s been dead long enough for hagiography to replace history.

The meeting also gives us the name of Torene’s Weyr – Benden, suggested by one of the other queen riders, and then agreed on by everyone in memory of the admiral they all loved. The rest of the meeting is the group poring over probe documents and designing the Weyr they will be living in, to the point where they eventually push Torene out. She has a short and very awkward encounter with Mihall about the new Weyr, Alaranth’s upcoming flight, and the fact that Torene really has no reference of what to think about Mihall, along with revealing again that she can hear all the dragons.

The next morning, Torene goes to Telgar Hold to see her mother and father about more copies of the probe data for her new Weyr. They anticipate her arrival, since the news has already spread, and by the time breakfast is finished, she has four copies of everything. Right afterward, she heads on to what will be Benden, meeting Mihall there, who had been informed of their errand. The narrative tells us that Torene is falling for Mihall in the way that one might in a sitcom – by basically having all the confused feels about him and not recognizing it for what it is. While Mihall plays his own emotional state extremely cool and businesslike – if he were a woman, he’d probably be cast in the tsundere role.

The arrival of the other riders cuts the together time short, and the group does a full tour of the space on foot to see how it all works. Once the cutters and diggers arrive, the dragons pitch in with the excavation, over the objections of some of the riders. After a full day of work, everyone settles down to agonize about sore muscles, and eventually gather the numbweed to help the aches and pains go away. Mihall ends up massaging Torene’s shoulders and a few others that night. After that, construction works in two shifts, along with the riders starting to fly against their own Weyr’s Threadfall sequences. Once the Weyr is mostly well constructed, they go help the nearby Hold get constructed and time passes, while Torene gets to know everyone a little better.

Until it’s time for Alaranth to go on the mating flight. Mihall notices the coloration change and calls out for the other queens to clear out, which they do. Then comes Torene’s experience.

Mihall swiveled Torene about again so that she could see the male dragons beginning to gather on the Rim, their eyes taking on the avid orange is arousal. Their riders were converging on Mihall and Torene, and suddenly she was the focus of their awakened sensuality. Despite herself, she recoiled, tearing her hand free of Mihall’s grip. His eyes had turned an intense blue. “Remember,” Mihall said then, “don’t let her-”
“I know, I know, I know!” she cried, resenting each and every one is them for the way they were looking at her. No one had told her about this part of a queen’s mating – especially this flight, when the reward of Weyrleadership went to the winner. She backed up until she was leaning against the stone of the Weyr, her mouth gone dry, even as sweat began to ooze from her pores and a strange sensation enveloped her guts.

Ah, yes, this is a rather candid reminder of what the experience is like from the perspective of someone who’s never done it before. The last time we saw this was all the way back in Dragonflight, so it’s been a while. Alien Sex Pollen is an established trope, but I think this page is finally getting toward how the experience must be fucking terrifying for a queen rider, to be surrounded by all those very horny dragonriders, with everyone feeling the intense emotions of their dragons. It would be very easy for this to be the setup for a traumatic scene – and without the narrative’s reassurance that everything turns out fine, it would be.

Back to Torene.

Not even the calm explicit recital Sorka had given her covered the depth or intensity of the emotions the dragon was feeling, much less Torene’s reluctant but inexorable response to the lust. A blood lust, first, with Alaranth aware of an insatiable hunger.

So there is still at least some information being passed from one queen rider to another, although I wonder what they mean by “explicit”, since it seems like there’s still a lot to experience.

Anyway, Torene keeps control of Alaranth to blood her kills and then the two of them take off for the flight, with the male dragons just an afterthought in the gestalt consciousness. Until, much like Lessa’s experience, Alaranth is grabbed by a flying bronze and the mating experience begins for the dragons.

“Now! Torene, now!”
Torene was no longer aloft with Alaranth in the throes of the dragons’ mating passions; she was naked in the arms of the bronze’s rider – naked, and her body demanding the same glorious orgasm that her dragon had just experienced.
“Damn it, Torene,” the rider was saying as he attempted to penetrate her body, “did you have to wait until now?
She gripped him to her, her nails digging into the muscular flesh of his back. The hurt was a mere moment’s discomfort, immediately forgotten in the powerful surging of lust that rose from some unexpected, limitless depth within her.
Toreeeeeeene!

As I was saying about narrative reassurance, this is the first time for Torene, which would normally involve a lot more awkward and painful and start and stop situations and, hopefully, communication between partners, but instead, of course, the residual effects from the dragon sex allow everyone to just power through without having to worry about this.

It also suggests to me that it might be possible to have a dragon mating flight that doesn’t actually involve human sex, although it might mean having an ample supply of sex toys on hand to help, and a couple of padded rooms to put all the riders in. So, y’know, that the Weyr leadership could be achieved without the monogamous partnership coupling that seems to be the assumption.

If there was any doubt about who the bronze’s rider is, it’s Mihall, but he gets described in a way that suggests Torene is pretty pissed off about it, as she describes the virtues he supposedly has.

“Deft?” Well, he had certainly been that, both with his bronze’s tactics and with herself. “Controlled?” Oh, no, not a bit controlled. Not polite, and more angry with her virginity than considerate. But then, had she been all that wise, leaving her first experience until her queen’s first flight? Well, it had been her option, and she was glad she had. That way she had been sure that it was her dragon who would choose, not some silly preference of hers.

In the aftermath, Mihall confesses to Torene that he’s been in love with her for a very long time, and that this was the only way that he could have her, since Sean basically told his son to stay very far away from queen riders. And that’s the end of the story, with both sets of riders and dragons apparently satisfied with what has happened. Yes, Mihall and Torene stay together as Weyrleaders for a good long while.

I’d love to see a story at some point where it doesn’t turn out to be a perfect match for the Weyrleadership, and things still go fine. Just once, please.

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10 thoughts on “The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall: The Second Weyr: All Ahead Full

  1. WanderingUndine October 13, 2016 at 11:30 am

    No cocowhats? I’m surprised. The last scene was always a WHUT for me, with its assertion that bonding for life with whoever has the dragon that first flies yours is not only fine and good, but better than choosing based on “some silly preference.” I didn’t always understand the rapey nature of magically-facilitated sex, but demeaning a person’s own desires and ability to make intelligent choices seemed really weird. Especially since he’s yelling at her for *not* having had sex before, of her own volition. Way to make a virgin fear their first time.

    Yes, I would also like it if a dragon mating was shown to turn out poorly for the humans. I shouldn’t wish harm on characters, but it would demonstrate that the system is far more problematic than perfect.

    Hagiography? *looks it up* I just learned a word.

  2. alexeigynaix October 13, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    WanderingUndine, spoilers with TW for rape (which frankly probably says it all): Gur Fxvrf bs Crea. V qb abg erpnyy nf gur qentbaevqref encvat Gnv (hu, gung vf ure anzr? V unir abg npghnyyl ernq ZpPnsserl va ntrf) vf bafperra, ohg vgf nsgrezngu pregnvayl vf.

  3. emmy October 14, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    We do have Moreta as an example where the match isn’t a perfect romance and no one expects that he’ll necessarily always win the flight just because he has in the past.

  4. Silver Adept October 14, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    @ WanderingUndine –

    I might be reading it charitably, in the sense of “Torene believes that the Weyrleadership should go to the dragon with the best skills at the mating game, rather than trying to influence the selection.” And, even though it rarely actually happens that way, there’s the potential that the next flight for leadership could be with someone other than Mihall. It doesn’t seem to be like there’s an innate desire to mate for life, it just happens to be that way because something something Kitti Ping.

    Mihall yelling at Torene about being a virgin, though, you’re right, that’s not okay.

    @ emmy –

    True, Moreta and Sh’gall are not madly in love with each other, but they still have several mating flights together, which suggests compatibility to some degree, which the story bears out.

  5. genesistrine October 15, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    So everyone knows about the grubs and what they do. How is this supposed to change to only-the-Masterfarmer and root-out-and-destroy?

    And how come they can’t try moving grubs north until they’re well-established in the South? Other than “in order to set up the situation in the first books” of course….

    And the sexual mores and attitudes just get ickier and ickier. Ew ew ew. Quite apart from the monogamy, we also have the ideal-queenriders-have-no-sexual experience thing, justified in-text by the insanely creepy “only the dragon pairing matters; if you don’t like the rider just suck it up and deal” and the ridiculous “I couldn’t tell you that I luuurrrved you because my dad warned me off queenriders” when we’ve been explicitly told earlier that his dad warned him off mating flights simply because no other bronzes were getting a look in and they wanted as much genetic variation as possible.

    But every time I think AMC must have reached peak ickiness she amazes me again, so I dread to think what must be coming up, especially given alexseanchai’s spoiler….

  6. WanderingUndine October 15, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    @Silver Adept: True, there’s more at stake in this case than personal happiness. And we don’t know from this story how they’ll do in the long run as new-Weyr-leaders, partners, or parents. Only that they’re contented with being paired by their dragons at first flight.

    And that she has no problem with a partner who had previously slept around a lot. Double standard, ahoy! Though Moreta is again an exception, as she has openly been with men (e.g. B’lerion) aside from her Weyrmate, and is still a non-villain to her people and to readers even before her ‘noble sacrifice.’

  7. genesistrine October 15, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    @WanderingUndine: I have a nasty suspicion that Moreta only got an authorial pass on not being monogamous-for-life because she dies dramatically at the end. After her the narratives seem to go right back to female protagonists being virgins until sex with the man they’ll be monogamous-for-life with.

    Torene is one of the Super-Famous Legendary Ruathan Weyrwomen along with Moreta, though I can’t remember if we every found out what she was legendary for. And she doesn’t seem to have anything much to do with Ruatha either, but eh….

  8. Lodrelhai (@Lodrelhai) October 21, 2016 at 3:37 am

    The more I think about it, the less the behavior of humans in a mating flight makes sense. They’ve been entirely absorbed in their dragons, unaware of their own circumstances, but once the dragons copulate the winning riders find themselves naked and in bed and alone and ready to go; everything done short of inserting tab a into slot b.

    Shouldn’t they be disoriented as hell? How did they get undressed? How did they get to the bed? I can see the riders of dragons that drop out early coming back to themselves and quietly leaving, but what about the ones who were there at the end and just missed the last grab? Is there a team of surrogates who are willing to console the rejected suitors on hand to guide everyone to the right weyr, strip them down, and then lead off the disappointed ones?

    Also not sure why the humans have to have sex with each other. I get uncontrollable lust is going on, but the need seems to be to get done ASAP, without much concern about who or how. As you said, a selection of sex toys might be preferable to some riders, or a partner of their own choice – especially if the riders are in a committed, monogamous relationship.

    The mating determining the leadership, as spelled out here, makes NO sense. Is Sorka going to get demoted if she survives long enough for Faranth to stop laying? Will Sean quietly step aside at that time, or will he set Carenath in the flight of the next queen to rise? For that matter, does he currently participate in mating flights other than Faranth’s? Sorka seems to think a monogamous pair in leadership is mandatory, but I swear I remember that Mnementh enjoyed showing his prowess (and that Ramoth didn’t want more than a few queens in the weyr because of it).

    You know how the mating flights determining leadership would make sense? If it came from the dragons. We know the dragons will not disobey a queen – it would make sense for the queens to have a pecking order among themselves. We even have some evidence of it in firelizards, when Menolly’s Beauty would scold and fuss the lower-ranking firelizards, but quietly accept the same treatment from the wild queen who laid her. So the strongest queenrider is the Weyrwoman because her queen is supreme and every other dragon in the weyr takes their cues from her. And the Weyrleader is picked by mating flight because the dragon that flies her is her partner – or her enforcer. The dragonriders can either work within their dragons’ hierarchy, or strain the bond by constantly fighting their dragons to accept directions and orders from dragons who are lower ranked than them.

  9. Firedrake October 21, 2016 at 5:24 am

    Ah, but Nice Men don’t use sex toys.

  10. Silver Adept October 22, 2016 at 9:46 am

    @ Lodrelhai –

    There seems to be a system like that in place, although there’s nothing that explicitly says so. Leri and Holth as retired Senior Weyrwoman suggests that when a dragon is old enough to no longer rise to mate, they and their Weyrwoman step aside and someone else takes over. Presumably, that would also happen with Weyrleaders, but it seems like the possibility of surviving a full fifty revolutions of Threadfall without dying or being seriously injured is a rare thing (or should be). And the existence of a Senior and Junior Weyrwoman also suggests that the Senior dragon is the oldest one of their troupe and the one accorded the power to control the other dragons.

    As for partaking in other mating flights, I think the Weyrleaders feel encouraged to do so, assuming the flight is deemed an open one. (Which, I’m guessing, is always the case on a Junior Weyrwoman’s gold.)

    As for why the humans always find themselves naked and horny, I think that we saw a little of that when Jaxom observed a mating flight of a green take off, and the riders of those involved needing to be led off to the special places. Maybe they end up naked because during some part of the flight, they try to tear off their own clothes in a Bacchic frenzy and someone has to get them off before too long. I, personally, would assume that the riders return to their senses after having had sex with whichever rider was the green or gold, and everyone else comes back with an intense case of “almost”, which they could use in whatever way they wanted, whether partnered or alone.

    Because, unless what Firedrake says is true and there’s a totally-doesn’t-work ban on the use of sex toys, there really should be multiple ways of satisfying that lust during the flight.

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