Dragonsblood: A Clue Would Be Nice Right About Now

Last time, our Second Pass team discovered a present left behind by the previous generation for them. They don’t have an actual clue how to use it, though, and Tullea’s increasingly paranoid behavior is getting in the way of making actual progress. This didn’t stop Lorana from attempting to cure her dragon with what was left behind. Unfortunately, all it appeared to do was accelerate the sickness, and Arith popped out of Lorana’s reach, leaving her devastated and unconscious.

The dragonriders of the Second Pass are running out of dragons.

Dragonsblood: Chapters 17, 18, and 19: Content Notes: Standing on triggers

(College, First Interval, AL 58)

Any Eridani Adept willing to change an ecosystem must commit her bloodline to maintaining that ecosystem eternally.
–Edicts of the Eridani, XXIVth Council

Cocowhat by depizan

Sorry, no, firm believer in individual choice here. Those descendants get the option as to whether or not to continue the family line and the family business. Which I think is what Wind Blossom is trying to engineer, given that Kitti Ping and Ted Tubberman and their first-generation descendants, save herself, are dead. It just doesn’t make much sense to get rid of everything that could monitor the dragons, as well as the knowledge of how they work, unless you believe that the genetic program that created dragons is basically flawless and won’t ever run into any issues down the line as evolution does its slow and steady movement toward finding vulnerabilities in your program. Or that those problems will be your descendants’ issues and you don’t have to care about that because you’ll be dead and gone by that point.

Wind Blossom is having trouble getting to sleep as the chapter opens, and the arrival of Arith from the future doesn’t help any. Instead, she’s up and directing everyone to dissolve the dragon’s corpse in acid to kill the infection still living on it. Tieran salvages some of the riding gear, so they can identify her, although he sinks the material and his hand into a vat of acid to make sure it’s purified.

While the sterilization is ongoing, Wind Blossom is trying to understand how she knew to go outside, and how she knew when the fire lizards were arriving, and this mysterious connection she seems to feel to someone else, but the situation on the ground moves her mind on from such extrasensory musings to wondering why seeing the dragon the way it was had significance to her mind, but she can’t quite put her hands on it.

Emorra calls her to breakfast, Tieran offers to stay behind and supervise the construction of Arith’s grave, and Wind Blossom goes on. It’s a short foreshadow chapter.

Thread scores
Dragons scream.
Thread burns
Freeze between.

That doesn’t scan right, to me. Too many syllables? Or perhaps the /i/ sounds are too close to each other in the last line?

(Benden Weyr, Third Pass, 12th Day, AL 508)

Losing her dragon has not been kind to Lorana. Kindan has been sitting vigil with her for a couple of days, but Lorana isn’t interested in anything. Salina evicts Kindan on the reality that he also needs sleep and rest and goes in with M’tal to keep watch on Lorana.

Turns out that Lorana can not just hear all dragons, she can block them all from talking to her as well. When K’tan arrives to check in on Lorana, he asks Salina what made her keep going after Breth died.

M’tal gripped Salina’s hand tightly. The ex-Weyrwoman’s eyes shimmered with tears, which she wiped away hastily before explaining, “I couldn’t go. I was needed.”
M’tal circled behind her and hugged her tightly against him. K’tan nodded, uneasy in the presence of their intense emotions.
“Then let’s hope Lorana feels as needed,” he said softly. He looked up at Salina, his lips showing the hint of a smile. “I’m glad you decided to stay–it d have been much harder without you.”
M’tal felt Salina stiffen in his arms and, through years of intimacy, correctly interpreted her gratitude at the healer’s words. The ex-Weyrleader eyed the healer, however, with the eyes of a leader of dragonmen.

K’tan, you’re standing on a big trigger of Salina’s. In the most charitable interpretation, you don’t know you’re doing it, but that discomfort at intense emotion is a warning sign.

Also, I am not having this “many years of intimacy means M’tal knows Salina freezing up is a sign of gratitude” bullshit. Like, if we knew already that everyone knows K’tan is all abut the gallows humor, this world read differently. Instead, it looks like K’tan stands on Salina’s trigger, then possibly hits on her (what’s with the slight smile?) with the idea that had she completed suicide, the boys would be much sadder if they didn’t have her as eye candy to look at. Salina freezing up makes sense, if she thinks she’s in danger and she’s already in a bad headspace, but as best I can tell, there’s no gratitude in any of her body language, and M’tal is behaving protectively toward her in this line of questioning. Like, K’tan getting thrown out on his ass and M’tal and Salina sharing a cry would be what I would expect. It’s like the author (or a beta reader) looked at the passage and said, “Dude, no, not cool.” and the response was “I’ll just put something in here about how she’s secretly pleased and grateful, and my Hero can intuit this, so it’s less creepy and wrong because I say so.”

Having been dismissed to get some rest himself, K’tan happens upon Kindan, singing the strange song he saw in the Archives. Kindan has a breakthrough and remembers the last of his verse, proving the whole song is essentially “There’s a password on the vault in Benden. Say it, and the way will open.”

Not that Kindan understands, and a drum message coming in distracts him.

Kindan smiled at him. “And the watch-whers fought the fall,” he said, taking delight in the way the healer’s eyes grew wide with astonishment.
“Nuella led them,” Kindan went on cheerfully. “Looks like Wind Blossom’s creatures have more of a purpose–“

Which unlocks the title of the song in Kindan’s memory: “Wind Blossom’s Song.” (Not exactly inventive or creative on the title part, even if the music part is definitely that way for it to have stuck around long enough to be rediscovered.)

I’m also still…marveling a a good word to use, about how the fact that watch-whers can fight Thread at night has been forgotten and needs rediscovery. If Thread is the end-all destroyer of lives and livelihoods, as we are about to find out, then it should be seared into the cultural memory who can fight Thread and when. Especially when they can fight in the time that’s not good for dragons because of visibility issues. We shouldn’t have to deal with an understaffed Fort Weyr and Hold reckoning with the consequences of burrows that includes setting fire to old-growth (forty year-old) forests and thinking about the fallout of the subsequent erosion and the unemployment of the loggers and developers of that forest. A good Hold would have a fleet of wherhandlers on standby to deploy for night Falls.

Then again, it’s been suggested plausibly that the Pern colony ship is more of a B ark than anything expected to succeed, and perhaps this is showing through for the convenience of the narrative to have other dragon-related plots.

Right before this serious talk, Tullea has a heart-to-heart with Lorana that strongly suggests she’s having strong emotions of her own in relation to Lorana and Arith. Of the “stages of guilt” variety.

“I said get out!” Tullea shouted for the third time at Tilara. “I’ll call you when you’re needed.”
With a worried look toward Lorana, Tilara retreated from Tullea’s anger.
“It’s not like she needs a whole guard,” Tullea muttered to herself as she heard Tilara’s feet hasten down the corridor. “Probably going to tell Mikkala. Well, let her. I’m the Weyrwoman. Not even Salina can criticize me.”
She looked down at Lorana, lying on her back, motionless, in her bed.
“I tried to keep you away,” Tullea said, almost apologetically. “But you had to do it your way. Wouldn’t tell anyone. The first we hear is you and your dragon shrieking in the middle of the night.”
Her voice rose as her anger grew. “You didn’t deserve that dragon, you know? You were so sure, so certain so willing to risk everything. You deserved to lose her, do you hear? You deserved it!” Tullea realized she was shouting at the top of her lungs into Lorana’s ear and pulled back, both appalled at her own behavior and amazed by Lorana’s unresponsiveness.
“You can’t die,” Tullea said. “Salina was with her Breth for ten times more Turns than you had months with your dragon and she didn’t die.
“You can’t die. You’re not allowed, do you hear me? It wouldn’t be right. You’re not allowed, you’re not…”
Tullea found herself on her knees at Lorana’s bedside, cradling the woman’s head in her arms, her tears falling onto Lorana’s hair like rain.
Please don’t die,” Tullea whispered, begging. “Please.

I mean, it’s nice to give the reader evidence that Tullea does care, but it’s happening out of sight of everyone else. If they observed this, maybe they might come more swiftly to the conclusion that Tullea is twin-timing and work to remedy it?

After this outburst is the Fall over Fort where burrows happen and forests have to be burnt to ash to kill the Thread and stop it from burrowing. K’lion is upset that they don’t have enough time to do anything, and then remembers that dragons can time-travel. So he hatches a plan to send the Weyrlings and the injured back in time so they can train and grow up and pop back ready to fight the next Fall with numbers.

Before we hear much more about the plan, we shift to K’tan seeking Salina’s advice about what it’s like to lose your dragon, because he knows he’s running on false hope. And he does cry at the impending loss of his dragon, because losing your minbonded friend is traumatic, no matter the toxic culture that demands he regain his control after he leaves Salina’s presence. After relieving Tullea and making sure she didn’t hurt Lorana, his dragon takes the one-way leap to hyperspace, which hurts K’tan entirely, but also brings Lorana back to consciousness. Between themselves, they swear to stop the illness. And there is Chapter 18.

Symbiont: A life-form that lives in harmony with its host, often performing valuable functions for the host, e.g.: E. coli in the human gut.

(College, First Interval, AL 58)

The College is in quarantine for dragons, so M’hall has to set his dragon down a ways away and approach on foot. Tieran explains to M’hall (skeptical that a dragon of that size was that young and also a queen) that Arith is about the right size for development at the thirtieth generation, confirming she’s also from a future where the illness got to the dragons. Additionally, the piece of harness Tieran preserved had Benden’s mark and the same animal healer mark Grenn had on his harness. At the hastily-called assembly of the Lords and Weyrleaders, Emorra tells them all it’s a dragon from the future, shocking the Lords that didn’t know time travel was possible and introducing the paradox that needs resolving: Since Arith shows signs of genetic manipulation, there has to be a way for that knowledge to persist into the future. Wind Blossom says she would likely die from the shock of being thrown into the future, and says there’s no other person that could probably successfully defeat the illness than her, which neither Tieran nor Emorra object to. It’s not likely the knowledge will pass down through the generations, given how few people know about it now, so to resolve the paradox, the College has to figure out how to get their knowledge and equipment to survive until the time it is needed. They resolve to do just that, and the chapter ends.

So now we are on track to likely cause a paradox in the future so as to resolve the problem of draconic illness. Of course, they could have also figured out a way to clearly communicate that Tubberman and Purman’s grubs were beneficial to the planet, so that they had time to spread everywhere in the Interval and all the people have to do is go inside during Fall, but then we don’t get dragons throwing flames in the sky.

I am again reminded of the message that states, simply, DO NOT MESS WITH TIME TRAVEL. But it’s a staple of Pern by now, and so we probably shouldn’t try to map out the continuity and figure out which of the many possible timeliness is the one that we are actually on.

More on constructing the methods of paradox next week.

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6 thoughts on “Dragonsblood: A Clue Would Be Nice Right About Now

  1. alexeigynaix August 29, 2019 at 1:40 am

    Thread scores
    Dragons scream.
    Thread burns
    Freeze between.

    Iamb, anapest, iamb, anapest. I think. Awkward as hell, though, it only sounds workable in my head if both instances of ‘Thread’ are followed by a pause, so it’s kind of four anapests and the odd lines have silent middle beats.

  2. Firedrake August 29, 2019 at 3:27 am

    I have only amateur knowledge of suicidality, but it seems to me that someone seriously considering it (whether as a positive act or simply letting themselves sink into nothing) has already decided that they don’t really care about other people’s wishes over their own. “We all need you” may be the problem, not the solution, and a better approach might be “if you’re dead, you can’t do (X positive thing)”. Does anyone here know more about this?

  3. genesistrine August 29, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Any Eridani Adept willing to change an ecosystem must commit her bloodline to maintaining that ecosystem eternally

    How does that even work? a) Ecosystems aren’t things that you can lock in place, they evolve. They have processes. And, as I pointed out, Thread is a part of Pern’s ecosystem anyway. b) What if your kids aren’t willing/aren’t talented that way/don’t exist?

    Which I think is what Wind Blossom is trying to engineer

    It looks to me a lot more like she’s trying to kill off the tradition. She hasn’t trained anyone up to her level and the “ohnoez not enough equipment” is rather spoiled by the “oh yeah, dolphins got battery-powered stuff stored underwater”. Is she rebelling against her mother? Is she an Eridani Heretic? Unfortunately, since we never hear anything about what the Eridani Adepts believe except Yoda-level New Age platitudes, we’ll probably never know.

    It’s like the author (or a beta reader) looked at the passage and said, “Dude, no, not cool.” and the response was “I’ll just put something in here about how she’s secretly pleased and grateful, and my Hero can intuit this, so it’s less creepy and wrong because I say so.”

    This.

    I’m also still…marveling a a good word to use, about how the fact that watch-whers can fight Thread at night has been forgotten and needs rediscovery.

    It wasn’t forgotten, it was deliberately never spread in the first place. I’m sorry to harp on about it, but in a series that’s been full of stupid and nonsensical decisions this is quite possibly the gold-standard 24-carat purestrain stupidest.

    Emorra tells them all it’s a dragon from the future, shocking the Lords that didn’t know time travel was possible

    OK, that’s pretty stupid too. None of them are going to pass this useful bit of info on to their heirs, gossip about it with their friends, lovers, advisors etc etc? Of course not. THIIIIS IIIIS PERRRRRN! If you’ve got a bit of knowledge you hang on to it like grim death and never ever share it.

  4. Silver Adept August 29, 2019 at 2:52 pm

    I defer to the expertise in the poetry, but I suspect none of it was ever spoken aloud to hear how it sounded.

    I definitely don’t know enough about ideation to make a coherent and factually-supported statement on the matter, @Firedrake.

    I was trying to say the same thing as you are, @genesistrine, but I didn’t get it right. I think Wind Blossom had been trying to break this infinite descendants cycle by destroying get knowledge and sinking the equipment, only for it to come back and bite her in the ass when the descendants need that knowledge.

    Knowledge never spreads. It never gets accidentally rediscovered, apparently, and it doesn’t spread when someone figures it out, because everyone has been trained since birth to hoard their knowledge and never share it (unless it ends up benefiting them?). Which is to say, Pern continues to be Rand’s Paradise, and the authors are faithfully replicating all the logical problems that come from that, except they don’t notice, or they don’t care, that they’re problems. And this is long after Rand has generally been denounced as a crackpot.

  5. WanderingUndine September 1, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    “Ecosystems aren’t things that you can lock in place, they evolve. They have processes.”

    Yeah, the idea thar it’s possible or desirable to keep a living landscape (or waterway) “preserved forever” in one state of being is a problem on Earth when people try/claim to do that or believe it’s been done to the places they visit. As I learned when working in a national park, even wildlands can be carefully sculpted and need rigorous maintenance to keep looking the same even in the short term. Mind you, I still preferred that to working at a national forest in a system that allows for activities like gas drilling which render their vicinities “permanently” inhospitable.

  6. genesistrine September 4, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    Yeah, I could get behind, say, “curation”, and/or keeping an eye out for unintended and knock-on consequences of whatever you changed, but “preservation” has all the wrong connotations.

    And ugh. Yes. Destruction for profit is worse.

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