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The source of the disappearance discovered, clean-up efforts are being undertaken to restore the coastal ecosystem. Seafood stocks are slowly recovering. A new clutch of 'dragons' has hatched, too--but they aren't as expected...

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 09. Current Plot, IC History
The Red Star
 Posted on: Nov 29 2017, 08:52 PM
243 posts | 2155 marks
written by crowfeet

Episode IV: A New Hope [07.09-??.??]

A Wherrible Wherror!
The second dragon clutch hatched successfully in Month 5 of Year 9...or, perhaps, unsuccessfully--depending on how you look at it. The 'dragons' were not dragons at all--hatching out strange, with squat bodies and shrunken wings, and Impressing without regard to gender as firelizards do. They chose names, but the names were derived from the chosen handler rather than something entirely new. These not-dragons have been dubbed whers for the noise they make.

Despite her failure, Wind Blossom continues on with her head held high. She has decided that these whers will be her latest research project. Having bonded to one herself, she's declared herself project lead and all the other wherhandlers her new 'researchers'. Or experimental units. Same difference. Right?

Finding Namazu
A submarine expedition embarked on by Dr. Caty Turnbull, Carey Mitchell, and Dr. Anderson Faulk, along with a team of other specialists, has determined the cause of the fish's disappearance: poisoning, and with a human origin. A fuel leak from a crashed sled released numerous toxins into the nearby reefs, killing corals and wildlife. Once again, human technology has proved to be the source of environmental disaster... Clean-up efforts are under way, but it will take time before the seas around Landing can be restored to their former state.

Probes put in place by the team have also revealed other interesting data. Pern is a tectonically active planet--and Landing is surrounded by volcanoes. Dormant ones. Supposedly. Landing might be in for some, ah, explosive changes. Follow the progress here.

Destiny is Waiting in the Wings...
At last, the wait seems to be over. The dragons have begun to stretch their wings with riders on their backs, with Eleanor Winters and gold Chioneth being the first dragonpair to try. Soon--soon, they'll be ready to fight Thread. The pressing question is how soon. Colonists and sled pilots alike are eager for help, but there is still much the dragons and riders have to do to prepare. Flaming and going between, as the firelizards do, is something the dragonriders will have to learn how to do.

A Tub of Problems
Ted Tubberman, the rogue botanist who sent out a homing probe without permission, has been quietly exiled with his family to a distant area near Landing.

Maybe too quietly. No one's heard from him, or any of his family members in weeks. There have been reports of thefts from the biology labs, too, of various materials. It appears that some of the biologists had brought previously unauthorized embryos--and finally, it has come to light which were stolen. Specifically, big cat embryos.

Could all these events be linked...!? Yes, obviously, given that they are in the same paragraph. But what's happened to Dr. Tubberman? Has he died alone and surrounded by his cats who've partially eaten him? Am I just describing my own future? There's only one way to find out. Someone's got to head over there...
The Red Star
 Posted on: Nov 29 2017, 08:59 PM
243 posts | 2155 marks
written by crowfeet

Part One: First Fall [08.01-08.11]

Only eight years after Landing, a new, unforeseen foe would endanger Pern’s very existence.

The people of Pern initially took no notice of the silvery strands when they began to fall. The firelizards knew, however, and they did their very best to alert and protect their bonded humans. People watched in horror as the innocent-looking ribbons burrowed into any organic thing they touched. Livestock, buildings, crops, fields, forests--all were soon marred by the engorged, silvery organisms that consumed them with inescapable speed. A full-grown cow could be devoured in mere minutes by the wriggling forms. Fire and water were the only things that could stop it: fire destroyed it, and it drowned in water. It could not eat through inorganic materials, either, such as silicon-based plastics and stone. Those in Landing were able to retreat to shelter quickly, with only minor injuries--but the people in the stakeholds suffered gruesomely. Not only that, but the awful thing gave the colony little respite: every three days it would fall on Pern. Much of the colony's leadership also perished in the initial attacks, leaving the people of Pern in chaos.

Named Thread for its string-like appearance, the organism was identified as a mycorrhizoid spore. Initially, it was suspected it might be a biological weapon engineered to either destroy the Pernese or attack intruders--but it came to be determined that it fell in an entirely random manner. While much is still unclear, it is understood that the falling of Thread is connected to the irregular orbit of another planet--later known as the Red Planet or the Red Star.

The colony's survival was dependent on quick, centralized action. The deaths of Admiral Paul Benden and Governor Emily Boll meant that they needed a new leader--and so, a new colony Governor was elected, along with a council of stakeholders and other administrative staff. Decision-making has temporarily been handed entirely over to the Governor and the leadership council, as a form of martial law in the face of an unprecented threat.

In an effort to combat the spores, the colonists drew inspiration from the dragonets. Sled pilots--thought to be allowed to retire--were called back to duty, and using their aircraft’s weapons systems, they tried their best to provide an aerial defense against Thread. To further protect the colonists as much as possible, all remaining stakeholders were all called back to Landing's relative protection. But Landing was never built to be a large settlement; it was never intended to sustain all of Pern's growing population for any lengthy period of time, especially not under the pressure of Thread. And Pern was never meant to be an industrial society. They did not have the resources to repair damaged sleds, nor the fuel to keep them running for long, and their limited defense would soon become unsustainable. It seemed the Pernese had met their final hour. Some efforts were made to send out a homing signal in hopes of receiving rescue.

It was a slim hope, though. It would take years for the probe to reach the FSP, and years to receive a response--if they received one. With no way to leave the planet, the colony leadership searched for a solution. The colonists had taken note of how the dragonets often flew alongside the sleds, and how they had formed an effective barrier against Threadfall. They were well-adapted to combatting it, able to breathe fire and teleport instantly away from danger. The only problem was that they were simply too small, and too weak.

The Dragon Project
This problem was fixable, however, with the help of genetic modification. And so, a plan was formed to create a renewable air force: dragons.

The dragon project, as it is called, was headed and worked on by the geneticist Kitti Ping, aided by her granddaughter Wind Blossom. Trained by the Eridani, an alien race friendly to the FSP, in the use of mentasynth--a substance that enhanced empathic and telepathic potential in organisms--Kitti Ping made use of their equations to produce a batch of embryos that would serve as the foundation for a new species, and Pern’s future.

Kitti Ping was not a young woman, however, and stress and hard work did not improve her health. She died just after completing the development of the last dragon embryo, leaving her granddaughter to oversee the growth and care of the eggs. With the help of a team of geneticists, biologists, and veterinarians, Wind Blossom has been carefully surveying the growth of and care of the first dragon eggs on Pern. Her grandmother, fortunately, left detailed notes that anticipated everything--with the exception of her own death. As their expected time of hatching grows nearer, Wind Blossom’s team has begun seeking out potential candidates for bonding to a dragon.

Many were skeptical of the project--yet many saw, too, that the eggs are Pern’s only chance at survival. Some disbelief was assuaged when, at last, eighteen healthy hatchlings broke shell in Month 9 of Year 8. For a moment, the colonists were filled with hope for the future. Kitti Ping's tinkering seemed to have worked. But only time would tell if the dragons could serve as effective replacements for the aircrews--and time was something in short supply.
 Posted on: Mar 9 2018, 12:10 PM
Corvuth | #485487
233 posts | 1730 marks
written by ---

Part Two: Mouths to Feed [12.08-07.09]

Draconian Greed
It has been three months since the engineered dragons hatched successfully. The dragons have developed as expected—but their appearance did not magically solve the problem of Thread.

Nor, indeed, the problem of feeding a colony of over six thousand. Despite the best efforts of the sled pilots and ground crews, the colony’s food stores have been difficult to replenish after repeated Threadfalls. Seafood—the one source that seems to be able withstand the voracious strands—has become a staple for the residents of Landing.

Until now. The rich schools that populated the shores and river Jordan have suddenly all but vanished—a puzzling question for biologists, and a disturbing dilemma for the colony leadership.

The dragons aren’t getting any smaller, either—but they’re still not big enough. Initial excitement has started to dissipate as it becomes evident the dragons aren’t a magic cure. It also has become evident that the dragons eat a lot--more than the colony can sustain, in the opinions of some.

Whispers laced with resentment have started to make the rounds. Agitators of the Pure Human Life vein have seized on the opportunity offered: The dragons don’t produce anything; we should’ve just waited for the distress beacon; those abominations will starve us before the FSP can help us...

Unity is critical for the colony's survival—but can it be maintained?

Roots of the Problem
Others have been working on solutions, too.

The successful excavation of an herbivore skeleton, thanks to Dr. Anderson Faulk and Jabry Kouri, has unveiled new data—and new opportunities. Using the remnant DNA that was collected and reconstructed, geneticists managed to make some modifications to cattle and other ruminant species—making them better able to digest Pernese flora.

Further research continues. A novel plan to create their own sort of creature to fight thread has emerged. But instead of targeting Thread as it falls, they’ve chosen to target it as it reaches the ground. Will this new-fangled idea pay off?

Underground Catfish
Others are investigating the disappearance of the fish. Recent reports suggest unusual geologic activity. Geologists are worried—but the colony leadership has been preoccupied with other concerns. Can they be convinced to listen before something terrible happens?

Ilya Kuznetsov, 22, rider of bronze Harth
Ariel Flanagan, 24, rider of gold Valath
Silvia Tolbert, 59, Governor
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