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Two Turns (years) later, Lessa finds her new role as Weyrwoman of Benden Weyr to be less exciting than she was promised. Chafing at the restrictions imposed on her against flying Ramoth except to feed and bathe the young queen, Lessa attemts to run the Weyr as best she can with little general info given to her to work with. Learning that even the tithing trains from the three Holds still loyal to the Weyr plus one from recovering Ruatha will not substain them through the coming winter, Lessa attempts to foster dissent among the other Wingleaders to counter Weyrleader R'gul's isolationist policies, but finds herself blocked by F'lar. Lessa secretly has Wingleader K'net raid the herds of various Holds to supplement the Weyr's food supply, but inadverently causes the Lord Holders to march against the Weyr instead. Before the Holders reach the Weyr, Ramoth goes into heat and mates with the bronze dragon Mnementh, making his rider, F'lar, the new Weyrleader of Benden. F'lar deals with the Lord Holders by reminding them of the dragonic abilities the Holders had long forgotten, such as the dragons' ability to teleport between to the Lords' unguarded holds and kidnapping their wives as ransom, allowing F'lar to demand tithes from each of their Holds before they get their wives back. F'lar also warns the Lord Holders of the immenent coming of the extraterrestial parasite called Thread, which the dragonriders have always fought to keep it from infesting the planet and killing all its inhabitants, but which the Holders still consider a myth. While learning how to direct Ramoth when she teleports between places, Lessa accidently discovers that dragons can go between times as well, an ability F'lar uses when the first Threadfall of the 9th Pass happens. (A Pass is the 50-year period when Theads fall on Pern.) However, F'lar finds to his dismay that even timing it during a Fall is little help for one understrength Weyr trying to do a job that in times past took six full Weyrs to do. With injuries running high, and casualties starting to mount, F'lar and Lessa wonder how they'll survive the next Fall, let alone the whole Pass. . . . .

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