Callamere Hold: Wher Information
Entered by: Lethe Loupe/Lynn
Date: 2013-01-21 Relevant to: Arolos
Summary: General history of how Whers came to be on Pern as well as a general information and care guide for the Callamere whers.
Before we go further, please note that there are some details about whers that are specific to Arolos Weyr and the rules of this game. Yes, Ms. McCaffrey recently wrote a book dealing with whers (Dragonkin), but we were weaving whers into our game long before her book came out. There are also internal continuity issues between Dragonkin and what she wrote of whers previously, so we decided to stick with Arolos custom rather than canon when the two conflicted.
Most important of the departures is the fact that Arolos whers are flightless. Their wings are small and incapable of lifting them from the ground, even as whelps. Arolos whers use their wings in wher-to-wher communication postures and also to aid balance and speed when running.
Whers are also incapable of flaming. Period. The BoD discussed that possibility quite some time ago and decided against it. It isn't a decision subject to alteration or further debate.
All whers speak telepathically, but Callameres are more fluent and more likely to engage someone besides their partner in conversation. Their speech is clipped and direct, almost phonetic with heavy emphasis on the most pronounced or simplest of the syllables within a word and the short, simple sentences often seem childish. Whers also seem unable to grasp the concept of personal pronouns. A wher will always refer to himself and others by name, and they often contract multi syllable names, though they don't elide their partner's name as dragons do.
'Gilded burst out of the swinging door set beside the human one of the main Cothold. ((Griz!)) she called out in delight, capering around the older brown like a whelp. ((Griz, 'Ris come make snakes go 'rar!))'
If you have any questions about whers, feel free to contact the BoD via the whizzy on the Arolos website, or ask on the OOC list.
* * *
What Are Whers?:
Watch-whers were created when Wind Blossom Ping attempted to continue her grandmother's (Kitti Ping) work with firelizard genetic material, using the Eridani Equations.
Wind Blossom Ping's grasp of genetic engineering was not the equal of that of Kitti Ping, however. The creatures that hatched from the eggs Wind Blossom engineered were not the same as the dragons that had hatched from the clutches manipulated earlier by Kitti Ping.
Considered to be ugly, malformed dragons, they were dubbed 'whers' and because of the Settlers' crushing disappointment in the clutch-- they needed dragons so desperately in those frantic days of the First Pass-- whers were looked upon with such severe scorn and disdain that the onus still has not faded.
Wind Blossom's design flaws didn't aid their acceptance as a useful branch of dragon-kind, either. Whers have wings which are functional as far as movement, but are too stunted to allow flight. They are smooth-skinned, like dragons, and carry the same set of sex-linked colorations.
Rather than retaining the tridactyl paw arrangement of the original firelizard configuration, or the pentadactyl arrangement of Kitti's dragons, Wind Blossom gave her creatures a two-clawed foot, with the entire body weight resting on a single pad. There is a vestigial third claw on the inside surface of the legs, rather like a Terran canine's dew claws. Despite this poor-appearing design for weight-bearing, whers can move very swiftly. In a sprint, they can over-take a runner, and at slower speeds, a well-conditioned wher can travel a considerable distance.
Wind Blossom's manipulation of the design of her creation's eyes was perhaps the maladaptation to have the most impact on the new species. Attempting to smooth out the facets of the eye, Ping inadvertently created a lens that focused light directly on the fovea of the creature's retina. This has an affect like that of a magnifying glass focusing light to a burning, intense point. Obviously, daylight is agonizing to such a creature. By design, whers became nocturnal. They do possess keen senses of smell, and hearing. And in darkness, their vision is eerily keen.
Full-grown whers of the original breed weigh between 900 and 1100 pounds, and stand as tall as five feet at the shoulder.
Impression and Intelligence
Whers are from the same genetic matrix that gave rise to the current form of firelizard, and to the dragon. As "cousins" to dragons, whers are intelligent. Not quite as intelligent as dragons, on the whole, but much more intelligent than firelizards. Close association with a life-mate enhances a wher's mental abilities, so that an Impressed, well-loved wher appears to be much more intelligent than his less fortunate, kenneled clutch-mate.
At hatching, whers will Impress on humans. Once again, this bond is stronger than that of a firelizard to its "pet," but not as all-consuming as the bond between dragon and life-mate. A wher will often exhibit a strong attraction to, or aversion to, a certain person at hatching, but in general, wher whelps Impress on whoever greets their arrival with food and strong thoughts of love and acceptance.
An unimpressed wher whelp does not die. However, whers that are Impressed tend to reach a higher level of intelligence and "civil" behavior than their less fortunate kin. If a clutch is hatched without human interference, the young will soon leave the queen and live solitary lives as feral, nocturnal predators.
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But Aren't They Vicious?:
Sad, but true-- whers have a reputation as untrustworthy, unreliable, vicious animals. Wild whers are, without a doubt, dangerous. To approach a feral wher is as foolhardy as approaching any wild predator of equal size. Unless one has a wish to be digested, one avoids such encounters.
Wild whers aside, the truth is that yes, domesticated whers do exhibit a strong, protective territorial instinct. After all, this is what makes them so valuable as "watch-whers." They have the ability to discern stranger from familiar, and will protect whatever is put under their charge to the death.
However, their reputation as living, hair-trigger weapons of mass destruction is somewhat undeserved. Consider the fact that most 'normal,' 'vicious' whers are unImpressed, and are from earliest whelphood, kept chained to a kennel. Allowed only a few body-lengths of distance to exercise, these keenly intelligent animals are ignored, fed starvation rations, most often neglected as far as grooming and cleaning of their kennels, and are tormented unmercifully by both cruel children and adults.
Small wonder that a wher living under those intolerable conditions will tend to strike out at all but a chosen, trusted few. Honestly, if a human were kept in similar conditions, the raving lunatic that would soon result would be considered just as dangerous as a wher, and rightly so.
When Impressed or bonded, properly cared-for and trained, and lovingly handled, whers have much to offer to a life-mate and to society as a whole.
In an ideal world, whers would be welcomed simply because they are intelligent creatures, as fully self-aware as dragons and dolphins. But, even if their worthiness for receiving respect and kindness had to be justified, whers would still prove themselves worthy members of the draconic species.
The devotion of whers to those they are charged with protecting cannot be more touchingly portrayed than by the selfless sacrifice of the nameless bronze wher who protected Lessa. The dragons themselves deemed this 'cousin' worthy to be keened in remembrance.
What is often forgotten is that the Ancients appreciated the unique abilities of these animals, far more than do present-Turn Pernese. The Ancients Impressed whers, and used their keen-sensed companions as the great Holds and Weyrs were cut from the native caverns, and in the mines. Whers could warn of unstable rock, of earthquake, or of pockets of poisonous or explosive gases in time to allow their humans to escape to safety.
Although few records have survived from those days, it is certain that many alive today owe their existence to the alert senses of the wher that kept their Ancestor safe.
Whers were also used as night-guardians of livestock, and of travelers. Some even set themselves the task of being "dream-catchers," lying in vigil by the bedside of a beloved human, to nudge them awake from nightmares.
To love a wher is to gain an intelligent companion for life, that will love you unconditionally, protect you to the last breath, and ask nothing in return for such utter devotion.
* * *
Unlike dragons, but like flits, whers do not Impress along gender lines. A man can Impress a gold, and a woman can Impress a bronze, though on the whole these are exceptions rather than the rule. Whers do not know their names at hatching, as dragons do and, with the rare exception of a choosy gold, a wher will Impress with anyone who greets its arrival with plenty of meat and accepting affection.
There is a very small window of opportunity for Impression, ending forever just scant minutes after hatching. By the time a wher whelp finishes its first meal, it'll be Impressed or not, for the rest of its life.
Unlike dragons, whers do not die if they are unImpressed at hatching, and they can form bonds-- often quite close ones-- later in life if they choose. An Impressed wher will look to their partner as closely as a dragon would and its life will end with its partner's.
Akin to Impression with a dragon, an Impressed wher is “in” its partner's mind at all times, though they are not “one” with their partner's mind, as a dragon would be.
Impressed whers tend to keep the focus of their love narrow, and treat everyone else more as duties to be guarded or guarded against, rather than as objects of affection,
though sometimes their emotions do eventually turn to true love, especially with children. That tendency is never predictable, and like humans, whers can't be forced to love-- or even like-- anyone if they don't choose to do so.
* * *
An unImpressed but bonded domesticated wher defaults to pack behavior-- it will show its greatest respect to whomever it decides is Alpha in its household, and the others will be ranked in its mind accordingly. Because of this tendency, bonded whers require careful training to ensure that the wher's ranking scale is the same as their partner's.
The major difference between Impression and bonding is the mental connection between wher and partner. While all whers communicates through mind speech, an unImpressed wher cannot be part of its partner's mind. It cannot “read minds.” Speech from all whers is mental, but a bonded wher is like a transmitter only-- it cannot receive. All human communication to it has to be verbal. The partner of a bonded wher will have show and tell it everything it must know, much as a child is taught and trained.
A bonded wher is more capable than an Impressed wher of accepting other individuals into a true affection. They are pack animals, and a pack is by nature expandable, the ties of affection within it strong. Some take comfort in the fact that even if a wher is bonded to them as its Alpha, it will survive its partner's death, rebonding with whomever it perceives as the most worthy survivor in its pack.
* * *
Though not canon, there is a 'kinder, gentler' breed of wher in Arolos. It is joked by their creator and others that regular whers are 'McCaffs,' and Callamere whers are 'decafs.' That sums up the differences in the breeds quite nicely.
Callameres are slightly smaller. Where canon whers are the size of a small horse, Callameres are shorter than the original strain-- but still well capable of taking down any lifeform on Pern (with the exception of dragons, of course!) They are bred to be more sociable, more intelligent and empathic, and to have slightly better diurnal vision by breeding intended to restore the faceting to their eyes. Basically, to come closer to their full potential as part of the draconic family of species.
While an original breed wher would tend to attack all strangers on first sight, with intent to kill, a Callamere would tend to first challenge the newcomer and only attack if the person seemed threatening. Otherwise, it would merely sound alarm that there was someone new on the premises and detain the trespasser.
They are NOT a separate species-- merely a breed. Original-type whers, and Callameres can interbreed, with the offspring showing characteristics of both parents.
The Callamere breeders have been known to expound on the virtues and subtleties of wher breeding and the Callameres themselves.
They work on the theory that the Wher's have only a pack structure during Hatching. The Hatchlings Impress to the Queen normally and don't turn on each other as a result by her instinctive command. They form partial bonds with their Wher-pack until they grow older. The partial bonds encourage them to look for differing territories as they grow large enough that the territory will not support more than the large whers. Either that or when the Queen comes into season, the new males will drive off the loose pack.
In a Human to Wher hatching Impression, the human assumes the authority of a Queen and the Wher remains in a pack mentality state for its life. This means it will often form partial Impressions with its human pack - partners, children etc.
It means the wher can be commanded to hunt or stop effectively, and that its territory is bound up with the 'queen' of it's pack rather than its own place - otherwise it would be VERY difficult to make a wher move weyrs!
Callamere whers can be trained to overcome their photosensitivity, or to tolerate wearing coloured glass wher goggles so they can go out in the day time. They still are naturally nocturnal but less so. They can also be trained to ride a-dragonback through the basic use of a Wher-saddle-mat (essentially a leather mat, sometimes with a slatted leather webbing on it for the whers talons to grip) and a basic flight belt.
All in all they are very versatile and large. A bronze Callamere is the size of a large St. Bernard and more muscular and bulky. A gold would be more like the size of a Shetland pony and it is worth bearing this in mind when they are played. They usually want some sort of niche, or kennel area that is their very own and it is worth bearing in mind that they will frequently regard cats, dogs and sometimes flits as handy snacks rather than pets!
* * *
On average, Callameres are smaller than original breed whers. While the original breed averages out to be about the size and weight of a small horse, Callameres top out at the size of a large pony. There have been some variation through the Turns, as out-crossing in the bloodlines increased their size for a few clutches.
Revai has always selected for temperament, intelligence and improved vision over size-- the miniaturization is more a side effect of her breeding efforts than an aim. However, she does like a lithe, graceful wher, which makes the weight of a Callamere deceptive. They appear much lighter on their feet than an original breed wher of the same size.
Colors: Gold, bronze, brown, blue, green
Size at maturity (approximately):
Gold: 600-650 lbs, 4.5 feet tall at the shoulders, on average.
Bronze: 550-600 lbs, 4 feet tall at the shoulders, on average.
Brown: 500-550 lbs, 3.7 feet tall at the shoulders, on average.
Blue: 450-500 lbs, 3.5 feet tall at the shoulders, on average.
Green: up to 425 lbs, and roughly 3 feet tall at the shoulders.
Note: There is more variation (downwardly) in the size of greens than in the other colors.
There are slight personality differences between the colors. Emphasis on the slight-- there are always exceptions, and individual whers have their own personalities that vary almost as much as humans do.
In general, greens tend to be more volatile, meaning that they are more likely to act first on instinct or emotion and think later. They are also more influenced by their drives, as they'll get proddy about three times a Turn.
Blues are a bit stolid and stodgy. If they were human they'd all be staunch traditionalists. They like routine and they like structure in their lives. Blues prefer doing rote tasks that would bore one of the other colors far more quickly. Their partners can do no wrong, and they are more likely than other colors to follow routine and rules than to react on instinct and emotion.
Browns are the thinkers of the colors. Most of them are quiet lads, but that doesn't mean there's not a lot going on beneath those head-wrinkles. Most browns are a bit reserved, but those who they love, they love without reservation or inhibition. A brown will stop and ask for clarification and explanation if he is asked to do something that seems to go against what's reasonable, where a blue would more likely simply obey his partner.
Bronzes-- well, a bronze is a bronze, it seems. Whether dragon, wher or flit, a bronze knows he's Faranth's gift to Pern in general and greens and golds in particular. But bronzes are smart, for all their self-importance, and generally astute and even tempered. They do tend to be a bit vain, though, and if a wher is going to take on an unrequited infatuation with a dragon, that wher will probably be a bronze.
Golds are all the best and worst of all the colors, rolled into one hide. A gold sees herself as your mental equal and demands to be treated as such, even though her nature demands she submit to your will. She is territorial, maternal and protective. She is also well aware of her station in life. No gold wher sees herself as anyone's inferior, not even in comparison to a dragon. Only rarely can a gold be ordered to do something against her will. To Impress a gold wher is to take on a bit of that regal bearing, just by osmosis. Only someone of strong character and will would be accepted by a golden whelp.
In many respects, it is easiest to think about what a wher can or cannot do in much as the same way as a dragon is. Like the dragons, the color often reflects on their general movement. A green for example will be more lithe and able to turn far quicker. However their stamina would be nothing compared to say, that of a bronze which, whilst being a powerhouse of muscle that seems to be able to run all day every day, would have far slower movement capabilities and may be considered slower or clumsier in their reactions.
While all other colors can be purchased at the Midsummer Gather, or by a visit to Callamere Hold, golds are granted only on BoD approval. Please note that Revai is very stingy about letting any queen out of the control of the Hold and her breeding program, so in all truth a player has about the same chance of being granted a Callamere gold wher as they do to Impress a gold dragon.
* * *
Wher Reproduction and General Care:
Being incapable of flight, whers mate after a terrestrial run, with the male exhibiting the most stamina and swiftness generally winning the 'lady fair.' As whers are highly territorial creatures, another proddy green or gold entering a run will ensure a fight to the death between the females.
Greens reach sexual maturity at around nine months, though some come into their first season as early as six months. Golds have their first run at twelve to fourteen months. Males tend to reach breeding age at six months, though most do not run until at least nine months, and do not reach full physical maturity until then. It is extremely rare for a young wher to win a mating run. Most go through several Turns of attempts before they catch their first green or gold.
The side-effects on the whers' handlers are between those of a firelizard flight and a green-flight. A wher run is a powerful aphrodisiac, but it isn't as all-consuming as a gold dragon's flight. There is no effect on persons unImpressed or unbonded to the whers involved in the run.
It is considered an extreme sport, however, to follow a run on horseback, with glow baskets tied to the stirrups for illumination. This is as risky and exhilarating as it sounds, especially when a run takes place on a night not lit up by the double moons.
Most handlers prefer to follow the tradition of Terran raccoon hunters, and sit by a fire with plenty of ale or quikal, following the progress of the run by ear. What happens in the shadows just past the fire's reach is up to the people involved.
When a male wher catches the female, he subdues her with a love bite to the nape of the neck as he mounts and she exposes her vent to him. Mating posture among whers is more akin to the mammalian quadruped style than the more 'reptilian' twining of dragons in a mating fall, and oddly, less violent. Other than the mating bite, and perhaps an incidental nip or a few scratches, most mating pairs come through the experience unscathed. Perhaps this is due to the more primal predatory instincts of whers. An injured predator is one who may not survive.
The mating bond generally lasts only through the laying of the clutch, though some whers develop a pair-bond that lasts through several mating cycles. If a pair is Impressed to a couple who share a monogamous relationship, however, those whers might also mate monogamously.
Internal gestation lasts about 2-3 weeks. The gravid wher will seek out the same sort of hot sand for her clutch that appeals to dragons. In Arolos Weyr, it isn't unknown for one of the rare wher queens on the premises to be allowed to share a corner of the Hatching sands. Most gold clutch between six to fifteen eggs, with the average number being around ten. The record for a domesticated wher was twenty, with dire physical complications to the dam that ensured that record clutch would be her last.
(Wild whers usually clutch between three and a dozen eggs, with only two to six whelps surviving to independence.)
Wher eggs are between the sizes of basketballs and small watermelons, according to the size of the wher to hatch from them. Like firelizards, it is possible to make an educated guess about what color will hatch from a particular egg, if one is experienced in such matters. The wher-staff at Callamere have the art almost down to a science, with a high rate of accuracy. They do, however, grade any questionable egg as the next color down, so as to surprise rather than disappoint their customers if they guess wrong. Buy an egg graded as a large brown, for instance, and one might find a small bronze hatching instead.
External incubation takes about 3 weeks. A wher hatching is heralded with humming, and firelizards often take part in the greeting song. Dragons sometime choose to do so as well, if the wher dam is a personal friend or family member.
Wher whelps weigh between eight and ten pounds at hatching, and of course, are born self-aware and ravenous. There is a very short window for Impression, lasting only until the whers are sated with their first meal. As stated earlier, whelps are not hatched knowing their own name, but they will Impress with any human who greets their arrival with love and food.
Unimpressed whelps stay with their dam, forming a pack of clutch-siblings. Usually, the male deserts the family at this point, but some stay on and help the dam hunt for the remaining brood. It all depends on the personalities of the adult whers, how they feel about each other, and the relationship (if any) between their human partners.
Young whelps grow quickly, seemingly exponentially, with appetites to match. If separated from their dams, young whelps from different clutches can be mingled if they are close in age.
Wher handlers tend to build strength as their charges grow, but since the beast in question will grow from ten pounds to several hundred in less than a Turn, it's inevitable that the wher's weight will outstrip its handler's strength in short order. A wher's adult height is set by the time of sexual maturity, though considerable increase in muscular development can take place for a short time after that, when full physical maturity is achieved.
Please Note: Whilst clutches and pictures are more than welcome for any played out clutch, please remember that the amount, color ratio and images all need to be BOD approved before a clutch is played out. For more information on picture information (which is also applicable to whers) please go to the link at the bottom of the page..
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Controlling the Breedline:
One of the major differences between Callamere whers and the original breed is the Callamere policy of neutering any green or blue whelped on the premises. Within days of hatching, all the whelps are tattooed with the Callamere crest inside their left thigh. Only whers whelped at Callamere bear the tattoo that guarantees their breeding, and a brown or bronze wher bearing that mark can command a premium price as a stud. This is a painless procedure, as the skin is deadened with numbweed and the infant wher distracted with petting and an especially delicious treat.
The tattoo is applied with a “printing block” type of device that has the design worked out in needle-points which are inked and pressed into the skin. (It has also become an unofficial rite of passage for wher-handlers trained at the Hold to tattoo themselves with the same block when they complete their studies.)
Neutering takes place at the same time, and is the only pain , though minor, to the whelp at that time. In addition to the numbweed, a small dose of alcohol puts the whelp into a happy “I don't care” state that keeps them calm.
Blues are not emasculated by gelding, but instead are sterilized by a procedure rather like a vasectomy. Greens are not spayed but “have their tubes tied.” Due to the unique anatomy of whers, the duct carrying sperm from the testes or unfertilized ova from the ovaries, can be easily reached and tied off through a small incision in the flank, much like caponizing a cockerel. It is not major surgery and the risk to the whelp is minimal.
Revai does this so she can better control the bloodlines and ensure that only the best mate with the best at Callamere. While only whers whelped at Callamere bear the Hold's tattoo, whers hatched away from the Hold can be returned for neutering at no charge. Neutering can be done at any age, although for many reasons, the younger the better.
Neutering of both sexes is a strongly recommended procedure for the purpose of holding down the wher population (as greens are fertile and better mothers than green flits). Since it doesn't harm the whers' sexual drive, however, it doesn't affect their personality nor cause the physical changes that the more widely used spaying or castration can bring about. A Callamere-neutered wher will still run and still go through the mating act-- but no clutch will result from it.
IMPORTANT NOTE: As part of the purchase agreement, all those buying green or blue eggs, must agree to return to the Hold in order to have the wher 'fixed' within the first month of the whelp's life, a procedure that is free for all Callamere whers. Whilst it is a trust issue that sees the buyer returning, it is usually assumed in gameplay by Callamere, whether played out or not, that the whelp was returned to the Hold in order for the procedure to be done. This is a part of Revai's efforts to control the Callamere breedline.
* * *
At the Gather:
OOC Things to remember:
- Gold whers are never for sale and are only distributed by BOD agreement
- Gold firelizards are only obtained through the Harper Open
- Any bronze, be it firelizard or wher cannot be ICly purchase by any persons who has been a part of the club for less than six months.
- Whers are NEVER sold to Candidates
- If there are eggs on the Hatching Sands or are likely to be soon after the Gather, no firelizard may be bought by a Candidate
- No draconic is sold to Weyrlings and whilst they are permitted to be owned by full riders, Revai will NOT sell a wher to a newly graduated Weyrling. Firelizards however, may be purchased once a weyrling has reached their 10th month and are therefore unlikely to be scared away by a posessive hatchling dragon.
- Revai will not sell a wher be it to Bond or Impress to any persons under at least 15 turns. Whers are difficult to train and control at the best of times. Similarly, Callamere will not sell firelizards to be impressed to children under 9 turns. A winner of the children's Harper Open is the only exception to this rule.
- Callamere Whites are expensive and time consuming, they will not be sold to children under 15 turns and are seldom sold to riders due to their first priority being their dragon.
- In recent Gathers, the BOD has established a 'first come, first served' policy on firelizards and whers on a feasible amount of stock. This is to keep a degree of realism in the game and also to ensure that the game is not suddenly overrun with Callameres.
- Because of the above rule, priority is given to those with no draconic pets to ensure fairness of distribution. Also, no flit or wher may be bought at the same time for the same character.
- If it is deemed unfeasible for a character to have access to the funds required for the necessary draconic, then sale can be refused. Similarly, the Callamere stall is permitted to refuse sale if it is decided that the character requesting to buy is an unsuitable party.
How much does a Callamere Wher cost?
Gold - Not available by purchase
Bronze - 18 marks
Brown - 14 marks
Blue - 11 marks
Green - 8 marks
I've just bought a Callamere, what now?!
ICly, if purchasing a firelizard or wher egg, you character will be informed about keeping the egg warm until it hatches. Upon hatching your character will need to be on hand with a meat based food in order to entice the new hatchling and ensure Impression. Unlike dragons which know their own name and lifemate, the new and ravenous hatchling is swayed to impress with whoever feeds it first, not dissimilar to the memory imprint of a duck who makes its mother the first person it sees. With wild firelizards and whers, impression will take place to the creature that feeds it first, often the mother of the clutch or another member of the fair. For humans to impress their new charge, this is a short window of opportunity that closes fast so it is advised that they be prepared in readiness for when their egg hatches.
How long until the egg will hatch?
Callamere will usually tell their customers to expect their egg to hatch within 3-5 days with the agreement that the rare egg that does not hatch can be replaced or refunded.
Obviously with a bonded wher, there's no need to wait for any hatching and impression but for all proud new owners, the basic care of regular feeding, bathing/oiling and beginning to train their new charge applies across the board. Because of the time and effort that has gone into the breeding of their livestock, Callamere informs all new owners that any new buyer is welcome back to the Hold be it for advice, training or even just to let the Hold know how their new draconic is doing.
You're the proud owner of a Callamere, a creature bred for distinction and quality. Congratulations!
All references to worlds and characters based on Anne McCaffrey's fiction are copyright© Anne McCaffrey 1967,2005, all rights reserved, and used by permission of the author.
The Dragonriders of Pern® is registered U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, by Anne McCaffrey, used here with permission. Use or reproduction without a license is strictly prohibited.