Sci Fi High Fliers: Komani Raiders and Dragonriders of Pern
Kinkajou interviews Okatar Kang,
Leader of the Anti-Terran Komani Rebel Forces on Shinar
(Ben Bova : Star Watchman).
Kinkajou: Tell our readers about the Wellington Point Incident?
Okatar: One of my regional commanders received reports that a Terran Mobile Force detachment had become isolated at Wellington Point. A single vehicle (one of the larger land dreadnought class armoured assault vehicles) was experiencing difficulties and five other vehicles including a command centre vehicle were drawn up around it to provide protection as well as to allow logistical support personnel and engineers to repair the broken down vehicle.
Lensor, my regional commander decided that a quick assault by Komani fliers could destroy the detachment before more help could arrive from the Terran main force. The plan was well considered, with the fliers using an offshore island to shield their approach across the bay. Our (Komani) air infantry force was streaming across the bay in a tight string formation, when the Terrans launched their counterattack.
Kinkajou: It seems to me that the attack strategy was flawed. I reckon that the Komani hadn’t been aware up to that point, that the Terrans used microlite surveillance sensor craft. The aerial fliers had probably been spotted on infrared as they were forming up preparatory to the attack. Just that minute of warning was enough time for further Terran reinforcements to be sent to the bluff overlooking the approaches to the island.
Okatar: Just so, Kinkajou. But I feel the Terrans were more cunning yet. The battle had the hallmarks of an ambush.
The first our aerial assault troops would have known of the Terran forces on their flank would have been when the Terrans used TDX explosives to rapidly clear the vegetation from the edge of the bluff, putting the new Terran mobile Force detachment into excellent firing positions covering our assault. We suspect that the Terrans had planned this counter ambush. There were infantry squads already dug in on the island directly covering our approach path. Since our fliers had been doing surveillance on the area that entire morning, they could only have been put into position early on the previous night. I think that would allow them enough time to get dug in, undetected.
Kinkajou: Sneaky, guys those Terrans.
Okatar: Would that I could say otherwise, Kinkajou. With our forces now in a cross fire, another Terran detachment appeared from nowhere and deployed into the bay, toadholing into the water across from the island, the water affording them considerable protection from our anti-vehicle plasma burst rockets. Still the brave Komani fliers broke through finally peppering the marooned detachment with plasma burst rockets.
To our horror, it became obvious that the broken down vehicles and their protecting detachment were all simple mock-ups. All those brave Komani fliers were lost for nothing. The sands ran red with the blood of our fiercest warriors that day.
Eternity will see the sacrifice of the Komani in the blood red sands of the bay. WE will not forget them.
Kinkajou: What lessons do you think should be learned from the engagement?
Okatar: Mobility is the key. Our fliers are fast and mobile, but the Terran Mobile Force vehicles had mass also on their side allowing them to bulldoze their way through the vegetation into a firing position on the bluff overlooking the bay.
The technical support afforded by larger mobile vehicles typical of the Terran force also allows for a much greater use of technology and countermeasures. TDX, surveillance drones and communications jamming had not been used much by our air infantry forces until that time. We were forced to reconsider the configuration of our forces after Wellington Point. It was a watershed moment for teaching we Komani new tactics, and in forcing us to rethink flier vehicle configurations and weapons delivery systems.
TDX explosives are not commonly used by the Komani due to their cost, difficulty of manufacture and their unsuitability to the tactics that the Komani typically employ. TDX was really the Ace in the hole for the Terran counterattack.
We were also unaware as to the extent that the Terran vehicles were able to deploy in a Toad-hole manoeuvre into the water. The water served as armour preventing our plasma burst rockets from damaging the vehicles.
Knowledge gained that day taught our fliers in future attacks to interdict communications between ground Mobile Forces and Terran surveillance drones. The superior mobility and speed of our fliers along with their combat capabilities prevented the Terrans in future engagements form using their surveillance drones so readily and over as great an area.
In future assaults near water, our fliers used armour piercing waterproof rounds. We also reloaded more surveillance equipment into our fliers and learned to increase scouting extent and duration to prevent another debacle like Wellington Point.
Finally, more importantly, we learned to respect the intelligence and cunning of the Terran commanders. They were worthy adversaries.
Kinkajou: Thank you Okatar for your words of wisdom for my people. We also seek to lift the yoke of Terran Imperialism. However, aerial infantry and aerial infantry combat tactics are a totally new concept for us. So your words have immense relevance to our fledgling attempts to gain our independence. See you on the other side.
Okatar: Yes Kinkajou. I’m glad I could help. However, the conflict is heating up and the natives are turning again to their Terran Masters. I fear that next I see you, we will be feasting in the halls of Vothan, the One eyed. Never underestimate the Terrans.
Now I’ve got to fight, and if I’m killed, will any of my plans be carried out? “
Quote from Okatar : “In a few days he would lead an army to war. Vothan One-eye would be loose in the land again. And how many soldiers have told themselves that what they do is right? All of them?
Kinkajou interviews :
Jaxom, white dragon rider and Lord of Ruatha Hold; and Ruth the white dragon
(Anne McCaffrey: The White Dragon: Dragon Riders Of Pern Series)
Ruth: I felt you nearby “between” and sensed you needed to talk.
Kinkajou: My thanks. I’m seeking information to educate my readers about the technology of your people. Could you tell me about your dragons?
Jaxom: Certainly. My people arrived on the planet Pern orbiting the sun Rukbat, in the Sagittarian sector as colonists from Earth. Initially, we thrived here but then discovered that at close conjunction with another planet in the Rukbat system, alien organisms (“Thread”) were able to cross over into our world.
Thread is a space travelling mycorrhizoid spore which with mindless voracity devours all organic matter. This accelerates once grounded as it burrows into the soil and proliferates with terrifying speed, destroying all organic materials. The only things immune to attack by “Thread” are constructions of metal or stone.
The first arrival of thread on our world was devastating to the colonists. Clinging on the edge of extinction they developed plans for survival. Men and women with high empathy ratings and some with innate telepathic ability were trained to use and preserve special unusual animals – bred from a highly specialised variety of a life form indigenous to the New World. The rootstock animal was the fire lizard. And these were bred to become dragons.
Dragons had two valuable characteristics. They can get instantaneously from one place to another. After chewing a phosphine bearing rock they could emit a flaming gas. Because the Dragons could fly, they were able to char the thread in mid-air with phosphine gas exhalations. The Dragons could then escape from the ravages of the thread.It took generations to develop to the fullest potential of these dragons. DNA Modification Fire Lizard > Dragon
There was a second part of the same plan. A grub like Symbiote of the mycorrhizoids was developed to counter the parasite. This grub was introduced into the soil of the northern continent, effectively limiting the depredations of the thread if it were able to bypass the activity of the Dragons.
It was the understanding of biological organisms in matrixes (of our ancestors) that led them to understand some of the actions of the “Thread”. By understanding the actions of these alien biofilms, they were able to engineer protective organisms which neutralised these effects.
Again a by-product I believe of the original knowledge of gene engineering possessed by our earliest colonists. Technologies which have been sadly lost to people of this era.The original plan was that the Dragons would be a visible protection, charring thread while it was still sky bound and protecting dwellings and the livestock of colonists. The grub Symbiote would protect vegetation by devouring any thread that managed to evade the Dragons fire.
Kinkajou: The plan obviously required considerable expertise in the areas of genetic design and of Sigma Psi senses. It is interesting how the colonists were so well able to identify the link between genetics and Sigma Psi capabilities. These are very specialised and technological skills. It tells the story of how desperately close death came to the colonists, in that they lost so many specialised skills in the desperate efforts to survive Threadfall.
Kinkajou: It would have taken extensive and comprehensive health records encompassing many genetic traits to map out which humans could be used in the genetics programs and to what extent. Similarly, comprehensive health records of the abilities and proclivities of the fire lizard rootstock would have been essential in planning and developing the capacities of the Dragons.
Jaxom: We deal with writing now and with copying records. It is sad to be told how much knowledge and how many abilities we “moderns” have lost. It has only been recently that we have been able to access computer information from the archives of the earliest colonists, and to try to rebuild these capacities within our civilisation.
Ruth: It is pleasant to bask here in the sunshine amidst good friends.
Kinkajou: My own people have much less experience with genetics, Sigma psi communication and Sigma Psi teleportation. We have only ourselves begun to grasp the possibilities which these technologies offer .So how have your people organised themselves to accommodate both human beings and dragons in the same landscape?
Jaxom: Many accommodations grew organically over the years. Dragons and people needed a place of safety to survive Threadfall. We carved the first holds using the giant stonecutters we had brought with us as colonists from Earth. We set up these holds/ weyrs in rocky isolated places where they were safe from thread. The Dragon Riders retreated to their Weyrs. In the more fertile lands, farmers and villagers clustered into social structures called “ Holds”.
During Threadfall, the local people could retreat to stone redoubts called holds to survive the attack of thread.Because the Weyrs were located in remote and barren lands, the dragons and Dragon Riders here were supported by a tithe from the farmers and villagers living within the “Holds”. Working with dragons creates a hierarchical power structure with the Dragon Queen firmly in command.
The human social structures were forced to accommodate these types of social interactions due to the extent of the telepathic Sigma psi communications between Dragons and their riders. The human female partners of the female dragon Queen and the male partners of the bronze (Dragon) who would ride the Queen were attributed the right to rule.
Jaxom: In the holds, those who took charge, took responsibility as well. It took a strongman to hold frantic terrified people in control during thread attacks, it took wise administration to protect victuals when nothing could be safely grown, and it took extraordinary measures to control populations and keep them productive and happy until such time as the menace had passed .
Consequently, you can see the basis of our social structures is very hierarchical and commanding. People could be born to their roles in our society. Alternatively, people could educate themselves to alternate roles with our society. Many humans in holds acquired training and became craftsmen supplying their villages and responsible to a crafts Guild Master, who worked to maintain standards and to distribute production of specialised items throughout the holds and weyrs.
Kinkajou: I would have thought that the Dragons capacity to travel “between” instantaneously would have created a long-term role in transport logistics on the planet. After all, why would one move goods for weeks across damaged roads when the same goods could be shipped by Dragon within seconds across a continent?
Jaxom: I think it is obvious to us here now, but the relationship between the leaders and their followers were somewhat different many years ago. Many people would do what they had to do and hide behind the responsibilities rather than volunteering to do what they could do. Consequently, Dragon Riders who fought thread would regard it as somewhat insulting to be asked to act merely as a transport service.
Kinkajou: I think it is obvious to me looking at colony worlds, that the trans-shipment of ideas and communications are just as important as the trans-shipment of physical goods. With communications, a group of villagers become a civilisation. Ideas and technology can spread and take hold rapidly. But people need to be able to look at new roles and new ways of doing things. That is always a challenge.
Ruth: Dragon Riders have to be a lot of people. They have to fight thread. They have to look after their Dragon. They have to look after the people of the Hold and weyr. They have to look after ideas. They have to look after goods. That is hard.
Kinkajou: In my Sigma Psi excursions in this world, I have always been told that Dragons had no ability to understand abstract concepts or complex relationships. Again you surprise me Ruth by making remarks that cast doubt on these theories.
Jaxom: Yes. Dragons, particularly Ruth in my biased opinion,have extraordinary understanding. Ruth and indeed many dragons are able to perceive far more than others credit to them.
Kinkajou: I have heard that Ruth is able to communicate with the fire lizards.
Jaxom: Yes the fire lizards do like Ruth: Whatever it is, the filers come from all over to visit him (Ruth). They tell him the most outrageous stories. That that seems to make him happy. This activity used to amuse me ( “Jaxom”) as well. The fire lizards would give Ruth the most incredible images of things they remembered and Ruth would pass the more interesting ones on to me. Sometimes however, Ruth would get annoyed. The fire lizards would often get carried away.
Ruth: How can they? They don’t have much imagination. They only report what they have seen or what they have experienced.
Kinkajou: It seems you have an excellent early warning system for many things. Information on disasters can be disseminated very quickly. Lost children can be watched and the carers notified they get themselves into trouble. And the fire lizards can even serve as unofficial guards, in the simple capacity of being a witness. All these basic activities are important in a civilisation to ensure the safety of people and animals.
Social engineering aspects of your culture seem to have evolved to serve the dragons , humans and their social structures. It is social engineering that enables these partners in civilisation to cope effectively with threats, with much less emphasis on the role of “police”. The same socially engineered political structures in your society ensure that everyone has a role and responsibility.
People can also seek to change these in many ways but ability is essential. If you are born with empathy and telepathy, you may be able to “impress” a dragon. I hear that your people have also accidentally rediscovered that fire lizards, previously dismissed as mere legends or fantasies, actually existed. Fire lizards could also be impressed at hatching, in much the same way that their genetic cousins the dragons were.
Jaxom: Over time, it becomes obvious that the proliferation of empathy and telepathy Sigma Psi genes has enabled many people to develop a relationship with the new lifeforms of this planet: namely dragons and fire lizards.
Kinkajou: With these aspects of social engineering , empathy and a complex civilisation based on multiple lifeforms, to me it would seem that every person has a capacity to choose a role within the society, not necessarily dictated completely by the circumstances of their birth. I would imagine there are very few hopeless within your culture. For in my experience, to be hopeless means that you have no role, no capabilities and no responsibilities. In your society, it is only those who would reject such things that could aspire to such a state.
Jaxom: I hear tell that some of the olden Dragon Riders who travelled forward in time to our time have undergone just such a rejection. I have heard the Master Harper say that they would even demand that local holders provide them with food, even if it were to be had merely by stepping a few metres from the door and picking it themselves.
Ruth: It is difficult to lose an old role and rediscover a new one. They deserve our sympathy. Why’d you let it upset you?
Jaxom: Empathy is a concern for others. Our ability to empathise with dragons spills over into an ability to empathise with others of our kind, no matter how badly we perceive their behaviour.Kinkajou: A new direction. Are dragons able to achieve orbit?
Jaxom: Dragons are capable of travelling instantaneously between one place and another. Dragons are even capable of travelling between one time and another.
Ruth: I always know “when” I am going. That’s something few other dragons can say. Jaxom: Some travels have been more extensive than others. I have heard stories of some of our Weyrleaders attempting to make the transition into the upper atmosphere of the “Thread” world. At this time while such things are possible they are incredibly dangerous with our existing technology. It is incredible to believe that we may have found here in organic technology that which enables escape to orbit
.Kinkajou: Yes, I believe only the mechanical teleportation systems I have seen in some possible futures, that are able to achieve the same result.
Kinkajou: So, I wonder if the concept of using teleportation to achieve climate control has occurred to you?
Jaxom: Speak further of this wonder you propose Kinkajou:
Kinkajou: If dragons are able to create an instantaneous connection between two places, are they capable of transporting a “packet” of the atmosphere from one place to another, in much the same way they transport goods from one place to another? For example, if a dragon leaves a very chilly freezing environment after an aerial launch, can this pocket of air be carried to a different environment?
Another question arises to what extent angular momentum is conserved in such transfers? If the pocket of cold air arises from near the poles of the planet and is inserted near the equator of the planet, there would be a substantial difference in the angular momentum of the two air pockets at the destination. It suggests to me that dragons acting in tandem could perhaps facilitate climate control through the movement of air masses of different temperatures and different angular momentum.
Jaxom: An interesting concept!
Ruth: You yearn. I sense your feelings, not your thoughts.
Kinkajou: (Between Jackson and Ruth there was an aura of innocence and vulnerability, independence and protection, of each for the other). I leave you to your future. Goodbye Dragon and Dragon Rider of Pern.
Dragonriders of Pern Series
Dragonriders of Pern Series
Kinkajou interviews famous disclaimer, “ President Bill Clinton”.
Bill: It is important to use the truth every day. I have never willingly told an untruth and have always endeavoured to present the facts in a way that reflects my personal beliefs. Language is an imperfect media for presenting the truth.
Kinkajou: Language seems to be at the root of the problem. So perhaps we should be promoting the development of a worldwide standard political language where there are no ambiguities and in which it is impossible to tell a lie. Gal Five or Gal Seven have both been proposed as possible contestants to this pedestal of purity and innocence.
Bill: I quite like my English language. It allows me to say so much and to mean something very different indeed to what most people may commonly accepts as an interpretation for my words.
Some of my famous quotes are in fact simply disclaimered truths
- But I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false.
- Later, based on the definition created by the Independent Counsel's Office, I (Bill Clinton) answered "I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky." I (Bill Clinton) later stated, "I thought the definition included any activity by [me], where [I] was the actor and came in contact with those parts of the bodies" which had been explicitly listed (and "with an intent to gratify or arouse the sexual desire of any person"). In other words, Clinton denied that he had ever contacted Lewinsky's "genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks", and effectively claimed that the agreed-upon definition of "sexual relations" included giving oral sex but excluded receiving oral sex.
I would argue that I told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Kinkajou: What about the inference that what you did was improper?
Bill: There’s nothing improper about good honest consenting sex between two adults as any European politician will tell you I think that I have been very hard done by, with people using definitions to convict me that they did not adequately disclaimer or define. I may be forced to admit fault on this world, but in the highest court or heaven, it will be known that I really did provide adequate and comprehensive disclaimers and definitions adequate to exonerate me.
Kinkajou: Who would have thought, that language can be used as a weapon of conflict. And it appears to be a very important one too.
Kinkajou: It seems that in English it may be impossible to convict you. Maybe if they use Gal Five or Gal Seven in heaven, there may be a different verdict. Thank you for your time and for obliging me, Mr. President.
Bill: You’re welcome Kinkajou. I wish all my constituents were as knowledgeable as you.
Kinkajou Tells It True:
Gal Five and Gal Seven are references to galaxy wide artificial languages created by many intelligent species inhabiting and controlling the galaxy in David Brin’s Book “Startide Rising”. The aliens were frequently horrified at the vagaries, intricacies, redundancies and duplicities of the human languages like English. It was possible to say one thing and to mean something completely different. This sort of thing just could not happen in the properly and scientifically constructed languages of the Galactics. The book ends with the humans singing “Na NA, na na naa” to the aliens as they escaped, while the aliens feverishly searched for a translation of the meaning of these words.
Tom Orley Gillian Baskin
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