Deadly spores threaten the human colony of Pern unless the colonists, with help from geneticist Kitti Ping, can develop fire-breathing dragons to combat the menace.
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December 31, 1987
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Excerpt from Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey
"Probe reports coming through, sir," Sallah Telgar announced without taking her eyes from the flickering lights on her terminal.
"On the screen, please, Mister Telgar," Admiral Paul Benden replied. Beside him, leaning against his command chair, Emily Boll kept her eyes steadily on the sunlit planet, scarcely aware of the activity around her.
The Pern Colonial Expedition had reached the most exciting moment of its fifteen-year voyage: the three colony ships, the Yokohama, the Bahrain, and the Buenos Aires were finally approaching their destination. In offices below the bridge deck, specialists eagerly awaited updates on the reports of the long-dead Exploration and Evaluation team that, 200 years earlier, had recommended Rukbat's third planet for colonization.
The long journey to the Sagittarian Sector had gone without a hitch, the only excitement being the surprise when the Oort cloud encircling the Rukbat system had been sighted. That phenomenon had continued to engross some of the space and scientific personnel, but Paul Benden had lost interest when Ezra Keroon, captain of the Bahrain and the expedition's astronomer, had assured him that the nebulous mass of deep-frozen meteorites was no more than an astronomical curiosity. They would keep an eye on it, Ezra had said, but although some comets might form and spin from its depths, he doubted that they would pose a serious threat to either the three colony ships or the planet the ships were fast approaching. After all, the Exploration and Evaluation team had not mentioned any unusual incidence of meteor strikes on the surface of Pern.
"Screening probe reports, sir," Sallah confirmed, "on two and five." Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Admiral Benden smile slightly.
"This is sort of anticlimactic, isn't it " Paul murmured to Emily Boll as the latest reports flashed onto the screens.
Arms folded across her chest, she hadn't moved since the probes had been launched, except for an occasional twiddling of fingers along her upper arms. She lifted her right eyebrow in a cynical twitch and kept her eyes on the screen.