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Peregrine Weyr > Pern > Dragons

Title: Dragons

giftwrapped - May 8, 2011 04:59 PM (GMT)

    Genetically engineered by Kitti Ping, dragons were originally created to fight Thread, the micorrhizoid spore dropped when Pern passed through the tail of the infamous Red Star planetoid. They are enormous, six-limbed animals with the ability to breathe fire and fly. Carnivorous and warm-blooded, dragons hatch from eggs.
    Dragons are the largest of what the Pernese refer to as 'dragonkin' - ranging in size from eighteen to forty-eight feet*, they're certainly impressive. Similar to their cousins, they have six limbs - a pair of powerful hindlegs with three-toed feet, a pair of short forelimbs with five-toed paws that function like hands, and two wings. Their necks and tails are long and somewhat serpentine - the tail ends in a fork (it is between the two prongs of this fork that the digestive tract of a dragon ends; they defecate between), and the neck ends in a wedge-shaped head. Dragons have an impressive set of carnivore teeth, with added molars for the chewing of firestone.

    Firestone digestion happens in a specialized second stomach; the rock is broken down by acids and produces a gas that ignites on contact with the air when a dragon belches it forth. Firestone cannot be entirely digested, though, and the residue must be regurgitated once a dragon has finished flaming.

    Dragon eyes are protected by three eyelids: a transparent inner membrane, a semi-transparent second membrane, and an opaque eyelid. The eyes themselves are faceted like an insect's and reflect light in a unique way, so that the colour of the reflected light indicates a dragon's mood. The colours are:

    Blue - Happiness, excitement
    Green - Contentment, neutrality
    Yellow - Fear
    Orange - Anger
    Red - Hunger, occasionally lust
    Purple - Mating urge
    Grey - Pain
    White - Danger
    Rainbow - Impression

    *A note on length: The feet-vs-meters controversy is often most problematic because nobody can entirely agree on what "length" entails. Dragon "length" at Peregrine is measured from the deepest point on the shoulder to the widest point on the hips, the same way one would measure a horse. Neck and tail lengths are disregarded. This means that even Ruth, eighteen feet in "length," would be approximately twice the body size of an average horse and thus entirely rideable using the feet system of measurement. This is not a debatable topic. If you must use meters or you won't be happy at a Pern site, then Peregrine Weyr is simply not a good fit for you.
    Impression is the formation of an empathic bond between rider and dragon, a sort of mind-meld that cements the two into a single identity. In the past, the qualities that would make one a viable Candidate were not well-understood, but in modern Pern it is generally accepted that only those with the mental capacity to form that empathic bond can stand and Impress. Originally, gender and sexuality played an extremely important role in the type of dragon that any given person could Impress, but with the destruction of Thread and the elimination of the primary threat that required Pern to have a high turnover breeding rate of the great beasts, Impression has changed. Dragons that would previously only Impress to men frequently Impress to women, and dragons that once selected only heterosexuals Impress to people of all sexualities.

    While an individual dragon might have a preference to a rider of a given sexuality, it is no longer a characteristic that all hatchlings instinctively seek out. The same goes for gender - with the exception of the "original" metallics. Golds still select exclusively women, and bronzes still select exclusively men.
    The first dragons came in five colours: green, blue, brown, bronze, and gold. Green and gold were female colours; blue, bronze, and brown were male. Greens were sterile and the smallest of dragons, making up nearly half a Weyr population, while golds were the largest of the colours and the breeders, usually mating with bronzes (but occasionally browns) and brooding great clutches of the same five colours.

    Then came whites, a petite, sexless mutation that seemed to incorporate all colours into one and needed assistance to break their shells. With the discovery of the white dragon, eggs that failed to hatch on their own were broken in the hopes of discovering more such extraordinary creatures. More whites were revealed, as well as a similar mutation: blacks. Where white dragons were sexless and identified male, black dragons were sexless and identified female.

    Fifty turns ago, by some strange fluke of genetics, after a laborious flight, a gold dragon laid an egg with a peculiar, silver sheen. From it hatched the first silver, a male just as large as a gold, with the same inherent ability to command other dragons that golds possessed. Where most male dragons capable of catching a gold seemed to (at least in theory) prefer men, silver dragons have always shown a strong preference for female riders, despite their ability to fly golds and sire clutches.

    The arrival of the Intrepid on Pern allowed biogeneticists to have contact with Pernese dragons for the first time since their creation. With access to the technology and memory banks stripped from AIVAS, as well as their own technology (advanced far beyond even what the colonists who created dragons possessed), the biogenetics team was able to create new dragon colours. These "engineered" colours included two females capable of clutching, as well as another sterile female and a small male. It has been ten years since the first of these atypical colours was hatched, and though they seem to breed true, it is not set in stone that they will not mutate further in the future.

giftwrapped - May 8, 2011 05:04 PM (GMT)
Natural Colours
    These colours are considered "traditional," and even the silvers tend to be given preference over the engineered colours by the more traditional Weyrs. At Peregrine Weyr, "traditional" colours are for the most part treated no differently from engineered colours, with the exception of golds and silvers, because of their ability to command other dragons.
    Length: 38 to 48 feet, with 40-45 being the most common.
    About: Golds, also known as queens, are the largest female dragons, and up until quite recently were the only fertile ones. Unique to golds and silvers is the ability of command; non-gold or silver dragons cannot disobey a direct order from one of these metallic beauties. (Note: gold compulsion does not work on other golds, regardless of "official" weyr hierarchies. As a rule, younger queens instinctively defer to the senior gold at a weyr.) Eggs containing a gold usually have a distinctive sheen and golden colour to them - though there have been a few 'tricky' golds in the past. While Impressing a gold was once seen as the most remarkable thing a woman could do, much of Pern now sees golds as reminders of bygone times when brood mothers were prized above all else. While the "Weyrwoman" rank is kept out of respect for tradition, Weyr hierarchy has become somewhat looser in recent decades. At this time, golds only clutch the natural colors and mutations, not the engineered colors.
    Impress to: Women - usually those with intense personalities and strong leadership potential.
    Length: 38 to 48 feet, with 40-45 being the most common.
    About: The largest of the male colours, it seems that silvers are a natural mutation that arose from golds. They are the same size as a gold, though their hide is grey-based instead of yellow-based, and possess the gold's same ability to compel other dragons to do their bidding - though usually a silver will defer to a gold when commanded. Silver eggs are almost universally silver in colour and typically share the metallic sheen common in gold eggs. In general, they are somewhat more even-tempered than bronzes, though no less intense, and it has become commonplace to see silvers out-competing bronzes in goldflights - which can spell trouble for some of the traditionalists at other Weyrs.
    Impress to: Men (rarely) and women (often) - usually those with intense personalities and strong leadership potential. There is no specific characteristic that draws a silver to a woman instead of a gold or to a man instead of a bronze; their tastes are eclectic and highly selective.
    Length: 32 to 42 feet, with 35-40 being the most common.
    About: Once the undisputed leaders of weyrs across Pern, with the end of Threadfall bronzes have gradually lost prominence. Nowadays bronzes are mostly valued for their impressive stamina and their tendency to catch golds in Flight. As a general rule of thumb, bronzes tend to be intelligent, with high competitive drives and a strong desire to get the job done. They have lost none of their fighting dragon spunk, despite the fact that Thread no longer falls. Some dragons still instinctively look to bronzes as leaders, and force of tradition dictates that many high-ranking positions are reserved for bronzeriders. However, the arrival of the new colors promises to shake up the hierarchy a little.
    Impress to: Men - usually those with intense personalities and strong leadership potential.
    Length: 28 to 38 feet, with 30-35 being the most common.
    About: Browns are the second largest male dragons. They are fairly evenly balanced between speed and stamina, and function as the "workhorses" of the Weyr. Browns will chase anything from green to gold, but the poor guys aren't really the favorites to win either extreme -- most greens are caught by blues or bismuths, and most golds are caught by bronzes or silvers. Browns have traditionally been Wingseconds, although they are considered for a much broader variety of positions now.
    Impress to: Men and women - most brown dragons prefer hardworking and reliable riders, though individuals may select riders who balance their own personalities.
    Length: 22 to 32 feet, with 25-30 being the most common.
    About: Blues are the jacks-of-all-trades. Being the smallest of the traditional males, but still larger than greens, blues are valued primarily for their versatility. Put them at just about any task, and while they may not excel, they will thrive well enough to get by. Blues will almost exclusively chase greens in Flights; while the occasional blue might get it into their head to try to go after a gold, they simply do not have a chance of catching her. However, in green Flights, the blues' agility gives them an advantage.
    Impress to: Men and women - often those of playful or easygoing demeanour who lack the "oomph" to become great leaders. Blues, however, enjoy a good joke - and more than once they have been known to steal bondmates right out from under the nose of bronzes.
    Length: 18 to 28 feet, with 20-25 being the most common.
    About: The smallest female color, greens make up the bulk of the Weyr's population. With the end of Threadfall, they are now considered one of the most valuable colors. Greens are adaptable, dependable, and quick, and their small size makes them easier to house and feed. While they lack stamina compared to the larger dragons, greens make excellent messengers and scouts. While greens are sterile, they still rise in mating Flights regularly, and can be chased by blue, brown, or bronze.
    Impress to: Men and women - often those of calmer or more mild demeanours.
    Length: 18 to 25 feet, with 18-22 being the most common.
    About: These asexual dragons identify as male. They are not true white, but rather a strange combination of all colours - in good light and when fully clean, a white dragon can be seen to have faint patches of everything on his hide. White dragons are known for their superior memory, incredibly astute intelligence, and uncanny ability to know precisely when they are oriented in time. Though Timing it is still considered taboo and only something to be undertaken with extreme care, when a task of that nature is called for, it almost always falls on a senior whiterider. Whites do not chase and lack more than a vague proprietary interest in female dragons.
    Impress to: Men (often) and women (rarely) - mentally unusual or psychically sensitive types.
    Length: 18 to 25 feet, with 18-22 being the most common.
    About: These asexual dragons identify as female. Similar to their white brothers, black dragons display faint glimmers of all other dragon colours on their hides and are known for their good memories and tendency to be blazingly fast intellectually. They are different from whites, however, in that their talent lies not in temporal orientation, but rather spatial orientation. Blacks are born knowing precisely how to between and use most of their brilliant memory power to store locations. A black dragon rarely needs to rely on her rider or another dragon for guidance. Blacks do not rise and have no interest in males.
    Impress to: Men (rarely) and women (often) - mentally unusual or psychically sensitive types.

giftwrapped - May 10, 2011 09:54 PM (GMT)
Engineered Colours
    Artifically-created mutations by Salvador, head geneticist of the Intrepid and chief science officer on the Pern Exploration Project, the first of the engineered colours hatched a decade ago, and they have been growing in number ever since. Salvador's experiments produced two fertile females, a sterile female, and a male that has not yet been involved in any attempts to breed. Though it seems that the engineered colours have leveled off at the four, there is always the possibility that they will change or mutate further in the future. At the moment, garnets and pearls clutch engineered colors, and golds only clutch the 'natural' colors... though this may not always be the case.
    Length: 32 to 42 feet, with 35-40 being the most common.
    About: The size of a bronze, and with hides ranging from pale rose to deep near-black red, garnets are hard to miss. While garnets are technically clutching females, any given Flight has only a 50% chance of producing a viable clutch, and they rarely lay more than a handful of eggs at a time. As a tradeoff, they can chew firestone without any signs of ill effects. Whereas pearls are capable (in a pinch) of becoming Senior Weyrwoman should the need arise, garnets are still considered fighting dragons - fighting dragons who occasionally happen to clutch. In terms of personality, they are often similar to bronze: driven, strong-willed, and task-oriented. When they rise, they are typically chased by brown, bronze, and silver.
    Impress to: Men (often) and women (rarely) - usually those with intense personalities and strong leadership potential. There is no specific characteristic that draws a garnet to a man instead of a bronze or to a woman instead of a gold; their tastes are eclectic and highly selective.
    Length: 28 to 38 feet, with 30-35 being the most common.
    About: Appearance-wise, pearls are highly diverse. They may have undertones of black, white, pink, blue, or even goldish cream. The single unifying factor is the unmistakable rainbow iridescent sheen on their hides, from which they get their names. Pearls are generally considered to be 'sub-queens' - fertile females incapable of chewing firestone, but without the command ability of golds and silvers. Their clutches tend to be slightly smaller than those produced by golds; they cannot produce gold or silver eggs, but they tend to hatch a much higher proportion of engineered colors. One odd little quirk: unlike golds and greens, pearls do not show classic signs of proddiness prior to a Flight, and will Rise entirely without warning when they come into season.
    Impress to: Men and women - generally people with the ability to lead in a pinch who would nonetheless be best-suited to second-in-command positions. Pearls tend to be extremely counterintuitive and unusual about their choice of bondmates.
    Length: 22 to 32 feet, with 25-30 being the most common.
    About: About the same size as a standard blue, tanzanites are the last of the female engineered colors. Many of them can actually be mistaken for blues upon first look: the most common color for them is bluish-violet, though lavender and even slightly pinkish tanzanites are not unheard of. Tanzanites are infertile, but like greens, they rise in regular mating Flights. However, unlike greens, tanzanite Flights are not overpowering to any riders involved. The sensations are still intense, and willing partners may still choose to follow their urges, but all parties involved will keep their full faculties for the duration of the Flight.
    Impress to: Men and women - frequently those who don't seem like they would be 'typical' dragonriders. Granted, tanzanites still demand a certain amount of empathy and mental compatibility - no, sociopaths CANNOT Impress - but they will occasionally select people with more... unusual minds.
    Length: 18 to 28 feet, with 20-25 being the most common.
    About: Bismuths are strange creatures. They almost don't look quite real - like the mineral for which they are named, they come in all the colors of the rainbow... frequently all at once. Bismuths are the only dragons known to have a wide multitude of colors on their hide, anywhere from yellow to purple and frequently everything in between, though they usually stay towards the cooler end of the color spectrum overall. Furthermore, the oily sheen of their hides makes these colors appear to ripple and move as the dragon moves. Bismuths, while male, are the size of greens, and no bismuth has ever caught a clutching female to date.
    Impress to: Men and women - frequently logical, inquisitive personality types. The very first bismuth went to a researcher, and they tend to be fond of thinkers, where their larger cousins prefer doers. Still, individual bismuths may be eclectic in their tastes.

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