The Skies of Pern: Ripple Effects

Last time, a comet dropped down and said hello to Pern, generating sufficient panic among everyone present that the Weyrleaders present agreed to allow every rider that already knows dragons can time travel to do just that so that the coastal areas that are going to be affected can be evacuated in time, while everyone who is on the ground will be staring at the interesting thing in the sky, not knowing if it is going to be a problem or not. We pick up after a first amount of effort has been made to move everyone to safety.

The Skies of Pern: Part 2: Segments VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV: Content Notes:

The action has returned to the conference room, local time 1:10, so after everyone has theoretically gone back and done their evacuations, although no reports have yet come in about their successes. Lessa is currently alone in the conference room, everyone else having gone somewhere to muster people or oversee their evacuations, which leaves her as the only person present for Erragon to explain that the tsunami wave is going to impact places like Monaco in multiple waves, based on how the water flow is going. Some places may have breakers, natural or built, to help disperse the waves before they crash in, but there’s still going to be a lot of wave action and flooding all across the coastlines of the South. Erragon thinks the Dolphin Hall will be mostly spared by having land in the way of the waves. Lessa reflects bitterly on the hurricane that apparently caught everyone by surprise in comparison to having time to evacuate from this impact, which doesn’t make any sense to me, because presumably time travel is time travel and once you know the pathway the hurricane is planning on traveling, you can get out of its way. Hurricanes do not, to my knowledge, simply spring up and make landfall. If the Yoko has telemetry on cosmic objects, it should be able to spot a big storm forming. If we knew more about the rules regarding time travel, this wouldn’t seem like such an issue.

Erragon continues to describe the extent to which the wave will travel, including the places in the southern parts of the North that will be affected and to what extent. Lots of the arrival times being talked about are in a four o’clock hours, which seems appropriate, given folklore that the pronunciation for the number four and the one for death are fairly close to each other in many languages that have Chinese as an origin, including Japanese, where “tsunami” comes from.

Having seen what will likely happen, the Benden Weyrleaders convene a meeting to inform the appropriate people about what is going to happen to them and the need for them to get their people to safety. In attendance is Janissian, the granddaughter of Sangel that wants to stand for that Hold’s lordship. During the briefing, a loud boom interrupts and sends Erragon shouting into the hall that it was “the ground shock wave” from the comet’s impact arriving on schedule.

Having never been in an earthquake, I have no idea whether they make a large amount of sound when the seismic wave arrives. I’m more inclined to believe the loud boom is a sonic boom due to the comet strike, rather than loud ground, and if that’s the case, I think seismic waves travel faster through ground than sound through air.

As it is, the narrative spins back to a coastal hold where F’lessan and two other dragons are tasked with getting the gawking holders to get out of the way of a wave they don’t know is going to hit yet. F’lessan notices the dolphins are doing their best to sound an alarm, and so he piggybacks on their warning to give credence to his own. It doesn’t convince them at all until F’lessan manages to get someone with a telescope to look in the right direction just as the comet splashes down and see the beginning of the tsunami, which starts to convince a few, but it’s not until the sonic boom and the seismic wave arrive a few minutes later that the Seaholder is convinced of the wisdom of evacuation.

In this particular case, the matriarch of the hold, Lady Medda, engages in the same bossy behavior F’lessan was faulting Mirrim for, giving orders and directing traffic efficiently. F’lessan doesn’t complain a bit about her. The fact that she looks like she’s had “nine or ten decades of living” probably has a lot to do with it. The evacuation is successful, even with enough time to rig up three boats full of things to carry to the high ground. And one very emergency rescue of the Seaholder, who couldn’t make it to the heights before the wave would. Thankfully, Golanth grabs the Seaholder and they all warp through hyperspace before the wave crushes everyone, Golanth even giving a little extra time back for the rescue, so that the schedule isn’t off, despite the extra rescue. Which flattens F’lessan all the more, in addition to the exhaustion of the scramble. The Hold gives their thanks in unison, and then Lady Medda continues to organize the effort to get everyone under shelter to wait out the effects of the wave and the storm that comes with it. The other riders give F’lessan their thanks after helping him into his riding gear so that they can all pop back to Landing.

Local time 2:12 and the party being sent to inform Toric is apparently the Brown Rider Rapist and K’van, neither of whom relishes the idea. They agree to take Sintary as well. We get a quick dip into what Idarolan thinks of Janissian:

He’d heard good things about her, taking hold with her grandmother ever since old Sangel became so erratic. This night be an excellent time for the girl to show her leadership qualities. She was the best of Sangel’s blood.

And, apparently, two women took over while the Lord is not necessarily fully able to work with his faculties. And not enough people put up a fuss about how it wasn’t right to have women in charge? A lot has changed since Thella tried to take her birthright. This meeting breaks up to inform various people at Southern, Nerat, and Southern Boll of the impending disaster and to get them to safety, before moving forward about 90 minutes to local time 3:40 and the return of F’lessan, along with a cavalcade of dragons already there, back from their own missions. The queens are directing traffic, and the orders for everyone, essentially, are rest.

Next section is at the Harper Hall, where Sebell is trying to direct the drum system to provide accurate communication to all the panic messages coming in asking for more information. There’s a chuckle between him and the Brown Rider Rapist delivering the maps about how Toric is going to regret having “undisclosed” coastal holds, and a little conversation (that seemed like a throwaway when it appeared in the last section) about keeping tabs on how the Luddites will spin this disaster and try to explain away how having a ship in the sky that could track and predict these things is a terrible idea.

Without a section break, Canth and his rider had to Southern, with Canth making a very smug remark:

Ruth is not the only dragon who knows when he is

Which flatly contradicts the earlier books that said most dragons don’t have a good grasp of time and that was what made timing things with precision difficult and dangerous. If the trait is much more widespread, is there any way that someone could try to breed for it in the dragon population?

Canth’s rider reflects on one reason why the hurricane had been a disaster upon arrival: Toric had warning from the dolphins, but didn’t move quickly enough to shelter.

The news is delivered to a roused-from-bed Toric, who is aggravated enough at the news and who is delivering it that he tries to take a swing at Canth’s rider, only to be solidly punched in the shoulder by Idarolan to stop him and then roared at by Idarolan to get his ass in gear and start evacuating. Canth’s rider then heads on to see the devastation at Monaco and to watch the tsunami pound at and try to overwhelm other places and eventually run out its energy without flooding a space.

Then it’s back to Landing, where Tai is waking F’lessan and getting him to drink and eat something after his nap. And in his first few thoughts is him being the…dragonrider he is.

Then he realized that it was cloudy. Landing’s usually bright sun was visible as a hazy yellow orb in the forbidding sky.
“Dust in the air, someone told me,” Tai said with no expression in her voice. She wasn’t a volatile personality, like Mirrim or Lessa, F’lessan thought. More like Brekke, quiet, self-contained: definitely reserved.

…so, that’s terrible, given what happened to Brekke because a rider took a liking to her, but also Mirrim and Lessa are being insulted again for being women with active voices and personalities. So Tai’s options appear to be to get pressured until she gives in or F’lessan stops waiting, or to assert herself and catch the backlash for being uppity.

You’re a terrible person, F’lessan.

Plot-wise, Tai runs down the damage report so far – Monaco is destroyed utterly, most of the rest of the places have flooding, but neither dolphin nor human seems to have suffered casualties, barring those humans who ignored the warnings or tried to go back and get something left behind. Those humans distress Tai the most, and F’lessan tries to reassure her that everyone did everything they could do to get all the people to safety. Tai points out that the comet still dropped and the waves flooded, to which F’lessan retorts that dragons couldn’t have stopped either of those events. (Time travel is time travel, says I. Until you can point out the rules that stop you from doing it, Tai has a point.) And, of course, the secret of time travel isn’t supposed to be spoken of to outsiders, even now, which annoys F’lessan a lot.

When Tai discovers that the feline pelts she’s been sleeping in were not rescued by F’lessan, but by Zaranth, there will be explaining to do…

…but not on camera, because we are back to the Printer Hall at Keroon, local time 11:15 (same time as the last segment), where Master Tagetarl has been keeping tabs on the drum messages and the scramble in the bay to make sure there’s nothing in the path of the great wave that will be arriving soon enough. There’s a messenger here with a priority printing request from the Benden Weyrleader, with strict orders to make sure she doesn’t leave until Tagetarl has done it. Tagetarl seems bemused until he reads the message, and then he springs the Hall into immediate action to print big broadsheets for immediate distribution before sending the rider, Danegga, who has borrowed Path, to the kitchens to eat and drink while the Hall prints the requested material. It’s an opportunity to “try that 26-point they’d just added.” (And nary a mention of the word “font”, only “boldest print face.”) Danegga gets, as requested, the first batch of hundred to distribute by dragon, and then Tagetarl drops another hundred at the Runner Station for immediate distribution, managing not to give away his recognition of Pinch in the process. He distributes the facts he knows, and hears that the Luddite faction is claiming that the comet is the fault of AIVAS and that the dragonriders let it strike rather than stop it.

I note that both of those accusations could be true, because we don’t know the extent of how much AIVAS calculated other orbital bodies in relation to pushing the Red Star out, and we don’t know the rules regarding dragons and time travel enough to be able to disprove either contention. It is…unlikely, given the narrative’s position, that either of those are true, but the comments section had reasonable speculation about the true motives of the AI while it was operational, and there hasn’t been anything, aside from our knowledge that the AI was correct because Jaxom jumped in time to confirm it, that definitively says the AI was both correct and benevolent.

As it is, the narrative shifts back to F’lessan, and he invites several dragonriders displaced by the flood to stay at Honshu while everyone recovers. Then he pops back to the displaced population that Lady Medda and Binness are running with extra supplies to help them reset, while trading a little light banner with Medda, who has suggested to F’lessan that in her younger years, she might have had a dragonrider or two in her bed. After reporting their safety back at Landing, F’lessan heads to Honshu to prepare for guests.

To F’lessan’s dismay, Mirrim was already there, and had organized the couples who were holding a little north of the Weyrhold. He had thought her safely stuck at Landing. He should have known better. He should also be grateful to her–or try to act if he were–though she still tended to give orders to him. Very soon after his arrival, he was genuinely glad she had come. She was the one who had organized food and there was succulent meat grilling on the main terrace for the many Monaco Weyr riders who had taken up his invitation. Tai was one of them.

So, why wouldn’t Mirrim give orders to F’lessan? She’s a Weyrwoman, after all. Or at least the weyrmate of a Weyrleader. Unless F’lessan is still far too hung up on the kitchen girl who Impressed a green to recognize her status, which would very much be in line with the thinking of plenty of bronze riders. But, of course, if she’s useful, then she’s okay.

F’lessan would love to show Tai the observatory and it’s massive telescope, but they’re both too tired to make the climb (and they don’t have the technology to boot the telescope back up again, anyway). Instead, he startles her accidentally, and then probes her knowledge of the starry sky, and then they all go off to bed, after F’lessan dangles the promise of Tai being able to see through his binoculars some other night. These subtle tests and his irritation at Mirrim suggest to me that F’lessan has somewhat of a problem with competent women, unless they’re pretty and he’s interested in them.

As it is, that’s the end of Part 2. Part 3 is aftermath, and it should be very interesting to see how the continent recovers from having been laid to waste by a tsunami.

9 thoughts on “The Skies of Pern: Ripple Effects

  1. genesistrine July 26, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    If the Yoko has telemetry on cosmic objects, it should be able to spot a big storm forming

    Hell, you’d think it’d be far more useful as a weather satellite than as an automated observatory….

    apparently, two women took over while the Lord is not necessarily fully able to work with his faculties. And not enough people put up a fuss about how it wasn’t right to have women in charge?

    May not be as progressive as it seems; given the usual Pernese reluctance to take action to remove a Lord who’s showing signs of age/mental instability/murderous incompetence it may be considered normal for female relatives to do some propping up without that being considered to fit them for actual Lordship in their own right.

    is there any way that someone could try to breed for it in the dragon population?

    Given that breeding is entirely based on which bronze catches the queen, no, unless the queens start timejumping and the bronzes have to follow them.

    Well, at least Mirrim got some respect for sorting out supplies and cooking and general organizing. Wonder how long it’ll be before everyone hates her for “being bossy” again?

  2. WanderingUndine July 26, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    Finally, the supposedly-utopian-but-really-dystopian Pern hosts some *actual* wish-fulfillment fantasy — disaster evacuation facilitated by time travel.

  3. Sontin July 27, 2018 at 2:23 am

    “Having never been in an earthquake, I have no idea whether they make a large amount of sound when the seismic wave arrives. I’m more inclined to believe the loud boom is a sonic boom due to the comet strike, rather than loud ground, and if that’s the case, I think seismic waves travel faster through ground than sound through air.”

    Having been in several earthquakes (they’re very common here in my country!) I think I can clear up this point a little 😉

    Earthquakes do sometimes make a low, rumbling sound. However, this usually occurs after the building begins to shake. Stronger earthquakes (2-3 Richter) might have it happen simultaneously (or close enough to seem that way) but the noise is very low and often inaudible. If I’m watching TV and there’s a small earthquake (1-2) I can barely hear the noise at all, and sometimes there really is no noise. In other words, the sound produced by an earthquake isn’t going to serve as some kind of early-warning system.

    The other thing is that all earthquakes start small. The nasty ones can get very big very fast, but one of the most common experiences of survivors is, “Well, I was at home/in class/at work when it began, but I thought it was just a normal earthquake, so I just went on with what I was doing.”

    Officially, you’re supposed to take shelter under the nearest table. Unofficially, we don’t bother with that unless a) the shaking is stronger than usual – and yes, we can usually tell the difference – or b) we get an official warning on the phone (all phones are equipped with an earthquake warning system that the government uses to contact us all when the earthquake’s looking dangerous. They can’t predict earthquakes, but they can be used to say, “Hey, a city nearby just got hit with a 5.1, so there might be some pretty big aftershocks heading your way.” I think it’s mainly used with Richter 4 and above. Here, anything less than that isn’t worth interrupting your daily life for 😉

  4. Brenda A July 27, 2018 at 6:49 am

    Mirrim is also several years older than F’lessan – he’s a year or two younger than Jaxom, who was eleven in DQ when Menolly was fifteen and Mirrim about the same age. They may have Impressed at the same time, but he acts like he’s older and more knowledgeable than her, and she’s been running things (or helping run things) for as long as he’s known her, as a kid. Maybe he reverts to a ten-year-old when he’s around her?

    As far as disaster relief goes, I highly recommend an amazing fanfic – a full length novel, first of a trilogy but it stands alone. “Dragonchoice” by Faye Upton – it’s set in the 7th Interval, but in this version the plague of Moreta’s ride never happened, and so the Southern continent was settled.
    It’s a lot of politics around an uprising in the Weyr to oust a bad Weyrleader, but the last part of the book involves a forest fire and it is very intense.
    https://www.dragonchoice.com/dragonchoice-dragonriders-of-pern-fanfiction/

  5. saidahgilbert July 28, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    Wait, so the comet landed on Pern? I thought the point of a comet is to pass by? So it wasn’t a comet but a meteorite?

    Also, if it landed in water, it wouldn’t make a big noise that could shake the ground. What people should’ve have heard was the comet(meteor) entering the atmosphere, right?

    I’m not knowledgeable about astronomy, though so I may be wrong.

  6. Brenda A July 28, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    Comets tend to have a fairly consistent orbit. If that orbit just happens to cross a planet’s orbit while the planet is there, it could hit it.

  7. genesistrine July 29, 2018 at 2:35 am

    Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter back in the 90s – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comet_Shoemaker%E2%80%93Levy_9 – and there have been suggestions that the Tunguska Event that flattened a huge section of Russian forest – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunguska_event – was an airburst from a comet fragment. Planets are small targets so it doesn’t happen often, but it happens.

    I’m a bit dubious about the groundshake too, but water’s incompressible so if you hit it hard enough and fast enough the impact is going to shake the bedrock, so I’m not going to argue with that.

    You may be thinking of the distinction between meteors (burn up in the atmosphere) and meteorites (a chunk lands). But both are (commonly) parts of a comet – we get meteor showers on particular dates when the Earth crosses the orbits of various comets because they’ve left a trail of dust and fragments which burn up in our atmosphere (and occasionally land).

  8. saidahgilbert July 29, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks for the clarifications, genesistrine and Brenda A.

  9. Sontin August 4, 2018 at 6:10 am

    @Brenda A I just want to say thanks for the recommendation! I’ve spent the last week reading the whole Dragonchoice trilogy and I can’t remember when I enjoyed a fanfic so much 😀

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