Last time, Lorana and Fiona were reunited, after Fiona follows Tenniz’s cryptic prophecies in the same way that Lorana did, spots the same spot where dragons are, and eventually calibrates herself to arrive at the correct time. Before then having all of the weyrlings of all the Weyrs hop back in time to this place and time so all their weyrlings, and eventually, the injured, will grow to full strength before rejoining the fight. Possibly with some additional clutches to also help grow the fighting force along the way. But because this is a Pern book, this island isn’t without dangers, including what appear to be the descendants of Ted Tubberman’s cats.
Dragon’s Time, Chapter 9: Content Notes: Dubcon
After the cat attack, T’mar and Kindan decide to build a wall to keep the Mrreows out and go often to start that, and once they’re sure that Mayorth, the injured dragon, is in good hands, Lorana decides it’s time for Minith to go home. Bekka volunteers to rider Talenth forward in time so that Lorana has a return trip dragon as well. On their trip, however, they encounter something trying to hold them back from going forward.
They had not quite been between for three coughs when they heard a male voice cry toward them The Weyrs! The Weyrs must be warned! And another voice, female, cried, Can’t lose the babies, can’t lose the babies!
Lorana felt a tug on her heart as she tried to fathom the pain of the two voices, but she felt Bekka’s rising panic and, with a surge of will, they broke beyond the cries, forward to Telgar Weyr and back once more into the light.
Lorana jumped off Minith and raced over to Talenth where Bekka gave her a hand up. They were in the air and between before anyone noticed.
Well, there’s the mystery of the riderless Minith solved, at least, and it didn’t wait volumes to manage it.
Back at the new staging ground for dragons, Fiona takes Jassi, one of the gold riders from Ista, to meet Lorana again after learning that Jassi knew Lorana before she took the ill-fated voyage on the Wind Rider, which leads to Jassi offering her queen to Lorana to replace Arith, to which Lorana sensibly notes there are already plenty of dragons that have been offered to her already, and they’re kind of partial to the ones they’re bonded with. Jassi asks about whether it hurts to not have Arith, and Lorana agrees with that, that it hurts all the time, and confirms that being able to feel all of the dragons get hurt and die is pretty terrible, too, but it’s easier when that pain can be shared.
“How can you survive such pain?”
“It’s hard,” Lorana said. “But it would be much harder to abandon those who remain, to give in or give up simply because it hurts.”
Bekka moved toward her, raising a hand to rest on her shoulder. Lorana smiled down at the young woman.
“I think it’d be harder, not being able to share their pain,” Lorana said. “But I don’t know.”
“It’s hard,” Bekka said. “Sometimes I go into a corner and just cry and cry after a bad Fall.”
“You, too?” Jassi asked in wonder. “I thought I was the only one.”
“I think we all do,” Fiona said. “But mostly they get better, so it’s not too bad.”
Cocowhat by depizan
Bekka is now fourteen or so, based on her eventually turning fifteen later on in the chapter, so being a “young woman” is more of that “can work like an adult therefore is an adult therefore age of consent laws are BS and I should never have been convicted Y’r Honour” idea that genesistrine summarized so neatly as the running theme through these books.
Furthermore, this entire sequence of admitting to having bad feelings and letting them out, and then discovering it’s not only you who does these things is more evidence that dragonriders are assholes. We’ve known for a good long while that Weyrwomen and gold riders are being trained with the idea that their emotions are contagious and if they’re not at least faking happiness all the time, then everyone else suffers and is unhappy and it’s all the gold rider’s fault. But there’s no corresponding space where all the gold riders get together and have a talk about their feelings and get some of that stress out and get to know each other better? There’s not a standing date somewhere that’s all the Weyrwomen getting together to give each other information about how things are going in their Weyrs and to have time away from their responsibilities so they can build back up some of those reserves of happy? (No, of course not, that would require thinking cooperatively or collectively, and this is Objectivism’s Paradise, everyone for themselves and their own Weyrs first, and no cooperation ever.) This is structured a lot more like a bunch of dudes admitting to each other than they do occasionally have feelings other than anger and machismo, with the idea that, at least for that specific moment, they’ll be vulnerable before the mask descends again.
Then again, the way that the Weyrwomen have been written to this point, Tullea especially, we’re supposed to see them in a hierarchy or all grappling for social status and power to be the top of the pecking order, rather than as the cooperative group I would have expected, since it’s basically them against the world, including in their own Weyrs. Hell forbid there be any sort of solidarity that can’t easily be swept underneath the rug or forgotten when inconvenient.
As the plans get underway to figure out how to protect against the Mreeows attacking vulnerable dragonets, Fiona is explaining to Lorana and Jassi that the older weyrlings will be better-equipped to handle their muzzy-head, and the muzzy-head of the younger weyrlings, because now they know they’re in the same time as they were before. Which is fine, except there’s this gem:
“They all came?” Lorana asked surprised.
“All except F’jian,” Bekka said sadly.
“F’jian?” Lorana repeated, glancing around. “Where is he?”
“He was lost between,” Fiona told her. “He died saving T’mar.”
“But then why was he muzzy-headed?” Lorana wondered. Fiona shrugged and shook her head. “And Terin? How is she?”
“She seems in good spirits,” Bekka said.
“She claimed F’jian came back to her, told her it would be all right, that he’d always be there when she needed him most,” Bekka said, her face in a frown.
“You don’t think so?”
“He’s dead,” Bekka said frankly. “I don’t see how he could have come to her.”
This is with Lorana, the person who figured out how to jump forward in time successfully, standing right in front of her, alive and hale. At this point, the best conclusion to draw is “we haven’t done it yet in our own timelines, so we’ll try not to poke that hard about it.” But that would require logic and consistency of character. Because Bekka now has a reason to believe that Lorana did come visit Fiona, since, hey, Lorana’s still alive! And therefore, if Lorana’s still alive, and can do pinpoint time jumps, then it makes logical sense that a future-Lorana could have come back and assisted F’jian in time jumps that would be beyond his own fated death. Yet Bekka continues to cling to the belief that it couldn’t have happened, even though she’s in front of the people most likely to believe her if she’s had a change in logic.
Lorana gets brought up to speed on Jeriz heading off to Telgar (“he was driving Shaneese to distraction until she thought to make him my minder,” Fiona says) and is introduced to Jirana, who already knows who Lorana is, because they have met, even though it’s the first time Lorana and Jirana are meeting on Lorana’s timeline, and Jirana can’t say anything more, because that would be the sort of thing that breaks time. They also discuss the other plans that have to happen, such as mining out firestone for their earlier selves in Igen, and finding something to trade and people to trade with during this jaunt back in time, and otherwise making sure the timeline doesn’t get out of joint. Which reminds Lorana of the voices she heard traveling forward in time, one of which Kindan recognizes as D’gan’s [ASSHOLE] last words, and the other Lorana says is Fiona’s voice. Fiona, of course, intends to have her children here and not go bouncing about time if she doesn’t have to, so she’s pretty sure that won’t be an issue. There’s a certain wonder about why they didn’t encounter this problem on the earlier trip, and the explanation given is that they left before the Asshole took the Weyr back in time, although T’mar wonders why they didn’t hear it coming back. Doylistically, of course, it’s because this plot twist hadn’t been written yet, but Watsonianly, T’mar is right. If there’s something in hyperspace that wasn’t there before in the timestream, presumably it should be always there rather than appearing at some point. Unless some action somewhere has shifted the entire narrative onto a new timeline branch, because they avoided a disaster or did something different this time around without knowing it, and this part has always been present in the new timeline, and we wouldn’t know that because we’ve been on the older timeline until now. For using time as much as they do, and being supposedly careful about not disturbing it that much, and having dragons that presumably relate to time differently than the humans do, there’s a distinct lack of knowledge about whether we’re all on the same timeline, or whether we’re bouncing back and forth between timeline possibilities until we manage to chart the pathway forward into the complete success version. It makes me wonder how many different attempts have come before this one that ended in failure, whether on the human plague or the dragon one, and then how many timelines abort in death or in being in the wrong place at the wrong time and need correcting and guidance from someone else farther along their own timeline trying to preserve it. That would be a different set of books, and would probably take away from Pern even more to deal with the timeline problems, so it’ll never happen. All the same, I kind of want to read the spinoff series that develops from all of the failed attempts before we manage the official timeline success, something that would take otherwise seemingly-mundane or coincidental activities and turn them into deliberate events meant to keep the timeline on track.
After complaining about the climate, they turn to Jassi, who is from the place closest to this island, about how to properly dress for this climate, and for advice on what to watch out for in their attempts to clear out enough land to establish a habitable space. Kindan volunteers to help with exploration and clearing, and Fiona cleverly reassigns all of his Weyrlingmaster duties to all of the gold riders that have come back, so each group of weyrlings gets to learn under their specific gold rider that will be leading them later on. There’s a skip forward to having established a small settlement and turning to the idea of bigger accommodations for the dragons, but the first few ideas are no good (underground will flood, canvas tents weren’t ordered in the past). The non-pregnant leadership crew meets to try and figure out how to keep everyone supplied, since Fiona has started to have cravings and physical issues with the pregnancy, where they decide that they’re going to have to figure out how to trade discreetly to keep themselves in supplies. Fish is thought of as the right idea for this trade selection, and there’s a thought to explore the western half of the island and find something better.
That idea gets nixed because Fiona gets a memo from her future self warning them to stay east of the river, but once Fiona gets looped into the plan, she starts suggesting other things that are good possibilities, like the clay, or the gemstones (green sapphires) if they were finished jewelry pieces, before Fiona hits on the a solution that’s likely to make them the most profits – trading the fruit they have in abundance to markets that don’t have them or during the times of year when it would be unavailable. When combined with Jassi’s idea that everyone can live on ships, most of which don’t have to be seaworthy, the situation regarding keeping dragonets and humans safe from Mreeows comes to fruition. Some of the dragons have to sleep out in the elements, but many of them apparently think it’s kind of fun.
This also brings Lorana back to reunion with Colfet, the sailor who liked her and helped her get away when the Wind Rider wrecked, and Lorana taps Colfet to lead the effort to teach the younglings how to live aboard a ship and the necessary skills they’ll need to fish and sail.
His enthusiasm had faded somewhat when he’d discovered how poorly some of his students absorbed his teaching, but he was old enough to take the long view and shortly, even the worst of his “crew” were able to do their duties to his satisfaction.
And also, I suspect, there’s going to be a lot of frowning if someone who isn’t higher-ranked than them starts beating the weyrlings for not understanding, not that it does any good at all anyway. But it’s also nice to think of the possibility that perhaps Colfet has learned or always was the kind of person who realized that violence against the students doesn’t work, anyway. He could teach a thing or two to the Harper Hall if that’s the case.
Fiona keeps good on her promise to teach Jeriz how to read, borrowing Igen Weyr Records for that purpose, and when she says what they really need is material from miners or to talk to the Masterminer so they can mine silver ore (and know what to look for) and material from smiths on how to smelt and turn that ore into jewelry, Lorana suggests sending out Kindan and Jeriz on the mission, because Harpers can go anywhere, copy anything, and not be out of place, and Jeriz needs the practice with reading and lettering. Fiona has an opinion about that setup.
“You’d have to pry him away from Terin,” Fiona said. She’d only managed to teach the lad to read by arranging for the young weyrwoman to be with them. Fiona got the impression that, were the green-eyed boy older, he would have sought instruction from Terin directly.
As it was, Kindan managed to get Jeriz to agree to go along only if Terin could accompany them. So Lorana, Kindan, Jeriz, and Terin departed on Talenth, leaving Jurinth in Fiona’s care.
Gee, I wouldn’t have a clue why Jeriz might not want to be alone with Fiona, even if it is for something that he desperately wants to learn how to do. It’s not like Fiona has demonstrated a shattering lack of respect for Jeriz’s boundaries when they’re alone, has gotten upset with him for something that he thought was well in hand (and that people should be believing him and Terin about, especially now that Lorana’s back), and has otherwise demonstrated for all of her ability to charm adults, she doesn’t have a fucking clue how to raise children, or anything.
When they returned, it was all that Kindan could do to thank the younger pair and release them before he and Lorana burst into laughter. “You should have seen him,” Kindan told Fiona, “you would have thought that Verilan himself was watching his every stroke.”
“Did he do well?”
“Marvelously, if terrified for fear of not impressing Terin,” Lorana allowed with equal mirth. She shook her head and sobered, telling Fiona “I think you made an inspired choice with that pair.”
Fiona said, “Yes, I did, didn’t I? I can’t wait to see my own children at that age.”
Cocowhat by depizan
So Fiona will also be overconfident that whatever she’s doing is right, in addition to being terrible at parenting. That’s going to be all sorts of fun.
Also, I’m reading this is in the way of “Jeriz wants to impress Terin because he has a crush on her,” which, y’know, being nine, is entirely plausible, in a child-appropriate sort of way. Nothing will come of it because Terin’s still completely devoted to F’jian, of course, and also, because Jeriz is nine. Given how Shaneese and Fiona have been to him, though, there’s also the possibility that Jeriz is thinking that perhaps if he can impress Terin enough, he’ll be assigned to her, and that will allow him to get out from underneath Fiona’s direct supervision and possibly even begin to build competence and confidence in his own right without being treated like he’s Fiona’s son or kid brother or other overly-familiar relationship that he doesn’t want to have with her. There are a lot of possible motivations for Jeriz in this situation, and knowing which one he has would say a lot about how he views the situation with Fiona and Terin and everything else.
The next scene is Fiona giving birth to twins, and going through the stereotypical contraction pains, desire to absolutely not do this thing again, getting razzed by her midwife here and there as motivation to push harder and otherwise get the children out. Given Fiona’s somewhat unique situation of who the fathers might be of her twins, and Fiona’s worry that she might not survive the childbirth (we are again reminded that Fiona’s very young for pregnancies), we get a touch of insight into some of the ritual involved in naming and claiming children.
“Swear as foster-mothers,” Fiona said.
“Nothing’s going to happen to you,” Lorana assured her. “But I claim this child as kin of my heart, blood of my blood, life of my life, for all time.”
“This child is ours,” Shaneese said in agreement. “She shall grow strong with the care of her mothers. I shall call her my own, tend her wounds, cheer her triumphs. Blood of my blood, heart of my heart, life of my life.”
[…Fiona calls in the boys to do their part…]
“I claim this child my daughter,” Kindan said formally.
“As dragonrider of Zirenth and Weyrleader, I do claim this girl my own, heart of my heart, blood of my blood, life of my life,” T’mar said.
“I name her my own, heart of my heart, blood of my blood, life of my life,” Kindan concluded.
“I, Fiona, Weyrwoman of Telgar, do name you, heart of my heart, blood of my blood–oh!”
“Push!” Bekka ordered.
“As her mother, I name this child in a mother’s voice: Tiona,” Lorana said even as Fiona bellowed with her next contraction.
There’s a slight complication in getting her son out, but nothing Bekka can’t handle, and after he’s born, Fiona passes out.
Apparently, the formal requirement is “blood of my blood, heart of my heart, life of my life”, presumably in the presence of the right number and kind of witnesses, like anything else that’s contract law on Pern. And the naming conventions have stuck, to some degree, as Tiona’s sibling is named Kimar. So daughter named after one mother and one father, son named for both fathers. (If we were using Ninth Pass conventions Kimar would likely be Kionar, eventually shortened to K’nar when he got his inevitable bronze, but apparently we’re not using that style completely here.)
After Fiona gives birth, there’s a significant amount of time passing with Fiona raising her children, Shaneese giving birth soon after Fiona, and the whole thing apparently kicking off a craze about wanting to take care of the babies already present or to go get some of their own.
Between them, Shaneese, Fiona, and the three babies had all the help they could want and soon found themselves strictly rationing it.
Xhinna, Taria, all the queen riders, and the other three women who had Impressed were constantly stopping by, many to coo over the babies and some to look wistfully.
[…the one who isn’t made happy by this is Terin, who appears to be pining after the fact that F’jian didn’t give her a baby to remember himself by…]
“We should start planning the nursery,” Shaneese said, changing the subject.
“A nursery?” Fiona repeated, surprised. “That seems a bit grand for just our three.”
“They won’t be alone for much longer,” Shaneese reminded her with a grin. “Some of the green riders have been inspired by our example.”
“All of them except Taria,” Shaneese said. “Helena has been working on J’gerd for months now and, from her smug look, she’s succeeded.”
“And Vellany?” Fiona asked, referring to the sturdily built green rider who had surprised everyone when she’d Impressed Delanth, as she’d seemed least interested of all the Weyr’s young women. She’d been far more interested in spending time with J’gerd and other riders, so it was no surprise when Shaneese continued, “She finally managed to get J’keran to stay awake long enough.”
[…Fiona asks for confirmation, is told Bekka’s sure, and that the camp has become slightly afraid of Bekka’s sixth sense for pregnancy, to the point where some people deliberately avoid her for fear that she’s going to curse them with her knowledge…]
“And Seriya?” Seriya was a shy sort with large eyes set alluringly in a delicate face.
Shaneese laughed. “V’lex!”
“I have no idea,” Shaneese admitted. “And I’m not certain how she managed to keep V’lex from pining after J’gerd long enough to–” She stopped, shaking her head in amusement. “V’lex is beside himself with joy and J’gerd–”
“That could cause trouble,” Fiona said, peering off into the distance thoughtfully.
Wait, is that a canonical bisexual representation there I’m seeing? V’lex sleeping with Seriya and getting her pregnant and also pining after J’gerd? That would be nice, to have an acknowledgment of what we’ve kind of known all this time. The narrative doesn’t seem quite as interested in confirming this for us, though, only saying that “Seriya, for all her shyness, is a sweet person who gets what she wants,” continuing the undertone for all of this that the riders being sought after may or may not have been fully consenting to what has happened. Which would be a lot less of an issue if we had stuck with the idea we’d had at the beginning of the Fiona books, where all the kids go to caregivers to be raised and there’s very little of wanting to raise your own as your own, because then we wouldn’t have to consider whether or not the women who are getting pregnant are going to demand to be weyrmates with those who succeeded at it, or some other method of child support, since now it’s all “I’m going to raise my baby” as the norm, rather than the exception. And since these are all green riders that are trying to get themselves pregnant, we have the stereotypes about green riders being slutty and Kitti Ping’s insistence that green riders would be terrible mothers to contend with as well.
The way that it’s been set to us, it sounds a lot more like a pregnancy pact has been set up and the boys who are going to help with this don’t have a choice about their involvement. Which, y’know, consent. It’s still important and necessary and required, and there’s not a whole lot in literature or in life that acknowledges that boys as the recipient of sexual assault are traumatized as well. And, especially in dragonrider culture, where the boys and men are expected to be horndogs looking to put it in wherever they can be, there’s not exactly going to be a supportive network of people there. They’re likely going to be expected to joke about their own prowess and how manly they feel and never actually get the opportunity to talk it out with someone who understands and can help.
And perhaps they were willing participants in all of this. The narrative doesn’t tell us that, instead choosing to focus on the determined efforts of the women to get pregnant by their preferred partners, in spite of time and other things getting in the way, which further reinforces the idea that the partners they chose weren’t fully and enthusiastically consenting to this. We should probably keep an eye on all of these riders, to see if they start exhibiting signs of trauma.
Given how unconcerned T’mar is with this, there’s definitely not going to be support. The plot moves forward, all the same, with Fiona resisting calling the place “Eastern Weyr,” she gets surprised when Jirana calls out to Talenth to bring Fiona to wallop a tunnel snake that intended to bite the babies, because it makes her re-evaluate how old and responsible Jirana is. (And Fiona goes tunnel snake hunting, thinking the ones that have grown up here on the island are more vicious and aggressive than the ones she was killing as a child.)
And then we get to the part where Fiona and Bekka discuss Bekka’s likelihood of having children.
[…]Bekka who, now nearing her fifteenth Turn, had grown mature in her healing. She had been turning heads nearly since their arrival in the camp and now, Fiona noticed with amusement, the blond healer was turning her head from time to time.
“I’m not getting pregnant,” Bekka assured Fiona when they had a moment together privately. “We can’t afford it.”
Fiona raised an eyebrow at her challengingly, even as she bounced an oblivious Kimar on her knee.
“Oh, I’m going to have children,” Bekka told her airily. “And I’ll make you diaper them, too!” Then she shook her head firmly. “But not now. I’m not ready and there’s no other midwife.”
“Javissa,” Fiona suggested.
“When I have a baby, I’m going to have my mother midwife and my father standing beside her,” Bekka declared.
She’s still fifteen. But, of course, that means she’s three years past when she should have been married or partnered and two kids behind. And she should be used to being a looker at this point, apparently, with as much as Fiona seems to be ready to throw her at men and dragons like. But, we might note, all the other people who seem to have thought waiting was a good idea eventually get into it when they find their true love, so I suppose we should be watching out to see who turns Bekka’s head the most consistently and set them as The One for her. Or watch out for Fiona’s interference and meddling in this affair, because Fiona’s already said she’s not taking no for an answer from Bekka about having a dragon, either. So I guess we should be keeping an eye out for boys for Fiona to throw at Bekka.
Anyway, before we get to the stopping point, we also resolve the plot point of who went to grab the injured dragons and send them back in time to Igen in the first place – it’s this future Fiona, with the help of T’mar and a cadre of dragonriders who already know that Fiona was planning to sneak out and do things, because she telegraphed when she was going to try by getting everyone who might stop or notice her involved in something else or otherwise away from her. These resolutions are pretty anti-climactic – mostly it’s “character realizes they’ve got to do something in their past to make sure they can keep themselves on the timeline they’re in, so they go do it.” And they’re spaced out almost as breathers from the current action, so that there’s stuff going on in the present past and then a trip to the past to do something in the past-past to make sure things run smoothly. They don’t feel organic as much as they feel like someone making sure they’ve gotten all of their paradoxes resolved, even though Fiona of the future doing something to get Fiona of the past going is a big bootstrap paradox by itself, but whatever.
More child-rearing next week, as well as more of the issues that come when you have potentially more than one fertile or mating-interested dragon deciding now is the time at the same time.