Disclaimer: Pern belongs to Anne McCaffrey. This is purely a work of speculation on an existing theme.

The first separation… I begin to know myself as an isolate intelligence. It is I… the constriction compresses from all sides. I fold myself deeper into my flesh, in the dark. It is time soon and my dam, my origin, Mother, croons and hums to us. Yes. I am not the only one. The great She sings, giving Impressions of blue heights, of stretching thin-membraned wings to carry us aloft and the glory of falling through air: flight.

Mother sings of the fierce hunger and joy at killing and rending flesh, tasting blood, still warm. She sings also of the humans, our riders, the weyrs and our kindred.

She sings of dragonkind and mankind's shared history. She hints at the Elder days, of great golden Ramoth and of white Ruth. She takes great pains to tell of the great man, the Master Harper of Pern. This is the world into which myself, and my brethren, will shortly hatch.

I feel the comforting warmth of the Hatching Grounds beneath. Mother, great golden Kiranth, turns our eggs, taking great care not to damage the shells with her claws as she croons. She pauses often above me. Concern, but she is content when our minds brush: affirmation. I gain the impression that I am somehow different, a cause for worry.

Fessli, Mother's rider… I pick her out… The sense of her. I hear, through my hardening shell, tones apprehension in her voice. Kiranth's impressions of this human woman tell me that she is old but still well-muscled and vital from an active life, well lived. I feel Fessli's cool hands play over the surface of my being, the shell that is all that separates me from physical sight and sound.

Will it hatch?

The question is voiced on many levels.

I dream of my ancestors. I know that I am an aberration even before my day of hatching and, yet, this does not bother me over much. I feel anticipation, yes, but no fear. I do fear the Hatching Grounds growing cold, stunting my growth. Yes, that perturbs me. Kiranth smashing me in error? No, I do not fear that. My dam would never flatten my egg-haven. She loves us all, her clutch, far too much. She cares too much, for me, her smallest, especially. She sings for me more often than the others. I fear that I may not break my shell and touch my nose to my mother's great cheeks. I fear that I will never draw air into my body.

I touch Mother with these thoughts. I reach out. This reassures her. We do not yet need the words that I know will come later… When I Impress… If I Impress.

Why should I Impress?

I reach beyond the Hatching Grounds and the comfort of my as-of-yet unhatched siblings. I touch, briefly, human minds. Short, scurrying thoughts slip beneath my tendrils. I gain ideas, feelings… of runner beasts… a feline, small and stalking something in long grass… a milch beast lowing, awaiting attention… the warm embrace and furtive kiss of a young pair of humans. All this is waiting. It will come. I am patient.

And, I do not have to wait long. It begins with Mother: a vibration, a humming that I can feel deep within my beating heart that strains… Compression… An overwhelming need to flex muscles… To stretch… I need to move. And yes… my siblings… My brothers and sisters, they stir as well. We are not many, but we bear the knowledge within us to not overpopulate the world with dragonkind encoded within our blood.

I sense the others stir. Our sire, great bronze Tarth adds his bass hum to Mother's. Excitement. Others rejoice and include their unique tones to the growing crescendo of sound that penetrates the very stones beneath us.

I push. I strain. Out! Out! I want out! I want more! I am done waiting! I hunger for those impressions of sense that I've only yet extracted from the recollections of others. My body wants to flex. My tail wants to coil. I have wings that want to spread.

The others begin to shift. Eggs bumping into mine send my prison tumbling to one side. I feel their vibrations concentrated to one side but my prison holds me fast. I refuse to die. I know the penalty of not breaking shell and I will not be something to be pitied, like generations of sports and freaks that have failed to hatch. I do not wish to be whispered of in hushed tones… Sad shakes of heads.

There are sudden flashes. My brethren, free! The Impressions that have been so long sung about! Indescribable joy. Explosions of emotion burst. Dragons bugle in exaltation. A roar of human voices add to the chorus. Not fair! I want mine! Can't breathe… Painpainpainpain pain! I need out and then, when I begin to fear and feel the constriction close around my burning lungs I strain one more time and then experience the release! The light! Ah! How it hurts. And yes, the fire of air forcing itself into unused lungs… I'm free!