|"AtteennnnTION" Lieutenant Petar Tates snapped a mock salute, spinning his arm and smacking it against his head, turning his boot in the sand and marching six paces foreword, shifting briskly and turning again. "Foreword MARCH!"
Turning a full 180 degrees the lieutenant through a joking grin, his handsome features throwing the jest in the direction of Captain McGreggor who raised a brow skeptically. "What exactly are you doing?"
Tates snapped another salute, trying to look more serious this time and failing completely. "Scouting for the missing food reconnaissance party, SIR". McGreggor groaned and shook his head. "Can't you do something useful like unpack our supplies?"
"Oh sorry, sir, those got washed back out to sea. A giant sea monster came and ate 'em," with that he swung his cocked rifle toward the sea, letting loose with two rounds of fire and being reprimanded immediately by the shrill squeals of the dolphins playing in the foam.
"That's not funny-" The Captain began before he froze in mid-sentence. Tates turned with a crooked grin. "Well I know it was a pretty bad joke but... What are you looking at?" With a low bellow like that of a baleen whale, the pair turned with the trappers to gaze at what raised its neck 30 feet clean out of the water, a plesiosaur emerging from the depths of the ocean, unsettled by the shot and confirming the 'sea monster' theory.
Tates' eyes widened. "The sea is indeed a fickle mistress..." with that he raised his gun again, aiming straight at the small head that towered above them.
From the shadows of the ginkgo tree Mathaira watched the strangers. "Dolphinbacks for certain," she murmured. "They must have been washed ashore during the storm," she told herself.
She observed the group who seemed to have set up some sort of makeshift camp under a grove of palm trees just off of the beach area. There were a couple of tents, which surprised her as most dolphinbacks arrived onshore with only the clothes on their backs and if they were fortunate perhaps a few possessions. Glancing around she then spotted at the shoreline two floating devices that the outside world referred to as "lifeboats,” naturally battered and beaten from their battle to cross the reefs which surrounded the entire Island. "So that's how they got the tents ashore," she reasoned.
She observed the group a few moments longer, contemplating whether she should approach the unknown group of men by herself. It was obvious that they weren't in dire need of immediate assistance, their camp-like approach attesting to that fact. But certain tenants of the Code deeply rooted in her mind and within heart told her otherwise, "Survival of all or none. One raindrop raises the sea...Others first, self last..." The battle raged within her. In spite of years of ingrained Dinotopian hospitality to dolphinbacks which was a way of life for her, she recalled her unpleasant run-in with Lee Crabb a few seasons ago, he having also arrived on the Island as a dolphinback. That time her companion ShadowStriker had been there to back her up but now she was alone...
In the meantime high tide had encroached further on the shoreline. Before Mathaira realized what was happening and the event being unobserved by the group of dolphinbacks under the palm grove, she watched as the sea claimed the "lifeboats" as her own. "They won't be pleased by that!" she knew.
Before she had made her decision about whether to encounter these dolphinbacks alone or to trek back towards Chandara in search of assistance, she noticed that two of the group had separated from the others, leaving their camp and heading toward the beach. One was an older man with an air of authority about him, a no-nonsense expression on his obviously sea-weathered face. The other was younger, very tall and muscular; his carefree countenance a definite contrast to his more serious companion. Mathaira observed the pair as they conversed briefly on the sandy beach, squinting in an effort to determine what the strange object was which the younger man carried and watching as he pointed it toward the sea, wondering what he was doing.
BOOM! BOOM! Mathaira jumped at the deafening sounds which had come from the strange object, now realizing that the object was what the outside world referred to as a "gun,” unfamiliar with the nuances which categorized such as "rifle" or "pistol" but knowing that it contained the power to kill or injure. The shrill squeals of the dolphins cavorting in the foam as the waves crested and made their way to shore chastised the handsome young man who had fired the deadly weapon and drew Mathaira's attention to the ocean where the dolphinback again pointed his gun.
A long neck had emerged from the depths of the sea, grey-green flecked with amber, water droplets shimmering on the small elegant head whose ringed pattern of emerald green scales from which the plesiosaur derived her given name. "Tyara!" Mathaira emerged from the shadows of the ginkgo tree and shouted at the creature as loudly as she could.
At the same moment, acutely aware of the fragile egg still cocooned inside of her pack, Mathaira knew she must act quickly. Her decision about whether to reveal herself to the dolphinbacks was immediately made for her. Holding the pack close to her body she removed the water pouch which was slung over her shoulder, heavy with fullness as she had replenished it at the last freshwater spring which she had passed. As her warning carried to the plesiosaur, she threw the water pouch toward the weapon held by the young man, his muscular forearm steadying the gun. Her aim was true, hitting her mark fast and hard. Taken by surprise at the sight and sound of the shouting young woman along with the heavy object striking the end of his rifle, the shot fired by the man missed its target as the gun swiveled sideways.
Too experienced to have let the gun out of his grasp, the weapon was still firmly in his muscular hands as the diminutive young woman approached... As Lucas and Rico stared at Gareth a shot rang out over the flats. Gareth instantly spun in the direction of the noise, staff leveled and ready, before relaxing slightly.
"Quickly, we must get back to your base camp before your comrades cause anymore mischief."
At that precise moment a rustle in the grass heralded a new arrival a raptor stepped out from the grasses and saluted the shocked group in heavily accented English. Rico almost fainted.
The small dinosaur, polished talons glinting in the morning light, signaled to the group and dashed off towards the gunshots. Gareth in the lead, the remainder of the party, Lucas carrying the boy and Rico dragging the wounded dinosaurs ran towards the noise as they crested the final dune, Lucas took the lead and, holding the boy in one hand he swatted the rifle of another seaman, who had been busy firing it at a rather startled looking plesiosaur, out of his hands.
Gareth grinned wanly under his hood. This is where the fun begins, he thought to himself as he skidded to a halt in the soft sand, under the astonished glare of the seamen. Overhead fat droplets of rain began to fall, and thunder cracked on the horizon.
Rico's head shot up when he heard the first gun shot. which was quickly followed by a second. "Trouble, Señor?" He gripped the creatures "leash" tighter, not wanting it to be frightened away.
Lucas frowned at the strange man, then nodded. "Something’s up at my camp. You can come, or stay." He turned with Rico and they both ran, or hobbled more like it, as best they could. Rico refused to let go of the animals’ leash, and Lucas was encumbered by the still unconscious youths weight.
When they heard the third shot, they both picked up the pace and arrived just in time to see a Lt. Tates pointing a gun at a woman and a giant sea monster making a lot of noise.
Scowling, Lucas set the boy down on a sand dune and grabbed the gun from Petar. "What in hells name do you think you're doing!?"
For the time, the strange man they had encountered on the beach was forgotten; at least, until he decided to but in again.
"Dios mios," Rico muttered, looking back and forth between the sea monster and the scowling woman.
Captain McGreggor joined Lucas in reprimanding the Lt for his careless behavior, and Rico tied the beast to a tree while he addressed the woman.
"Hello," He said, waving. "Do you understand me?" Rico used his best English, hoping she would be able understand that instead of the usual mixture of English and Spanish he used.
Minstelae walks up at this moment and looks at Rico. She speaks in accented English. "Who are you? Nice creatures you have, there, but are you going to let them go anytime soon?" she says, flashing a killing-claw subtly.
Just then, a loud roar is heard in the distance. Min smiles to herself. Soon her friend would be here. And it looked like perhaps she would need a little help.
Mathaira hesitated briefly as the dark haired young man spoke to her, the inflection in his voice obviously a question. Before she had the chance to attempt to form a reply the reddish-brown Utahraptor addressed him accompanied by a subtle flash of her razor sharp talon, a gesture which Mathaira as a native Dinotopian picked up on immediately but which she assumed went unnoticed by the newly arrived dolphinbacks. The added moments of this brief interchange gave Mathaira the time to ponder the strange language spoken by the dolphinback, attempting to recollect similar phrases which she had heard previously...
Having been born and raised near the northwestern shore of the Island, throughout her life Mathaira had come into contact with dolphinbacks newly arrived on the Island, as many who reached its shores eventually found their way to the Romano Hatchery. A wide variety of humans, therefore, entered Hatchery doors, bringing with them a smattering of their cultures and languages. Though not proficient at any language but her native Dinotopian, and to a lesser extent certain saurian languages of the Island, Mathaira had nevertheless picked up an assorted array of various language phrases. It was these phrases that she was attempting to draw upon before replying to the young man...
Somewhat confused because the language spoken by the young man seemed to be that which the Outside World referred to as English yet heavily influenced by an accent which she believed to be that called Spanish, Mathaira was unsure which of her limited language reserves to draw upon when answering the dolphinback. Though his dark coloring indicated that he was from a line of Spanish mothers, she had heard the raptor address him in what sounded like saurian accented English and so likewise attempted to reply to him in that language, albeit somewhat stilted.
Accustomed to using gestures when communicating with her companion, ShadowStriker, Mathaira incorporated these flowing motions upon addressing the young man, "I understand that your friend," she indicated tall handsome man who had moments before bore the weapon in his muscular hands, "Tried to hurt my friend, Tyara," she pointed at the glittering plesiosaur who rode the foam crested waves close to shore. Rico's dark eyes widened at the young woman's reference to the sea monster as her 'friend' and he muttered incredulously under his breath, "Amigo?!,” then shook his head as if unwilling to believe the possibility.
Recognizing the Spanish word for 'friend' and seeing the young man shake his dark head, Mathaira thought he was refuting the fact that his companion had tried to shoot Tyara and impulsively blurted out in her native tongue combined with vague English phrases, "Don't you know that here on Dinotopia weapons are enemies even to their owners?!"
Picking up on only the heavily accented English words, both Rico and Lt. Tates heard what they thought was 'weapons are empty like their owners', thinking the animated young woman referred to their mental faculties.
The more serious Captian McGreggor, however, picked up what sounded like a place name and voiced the strange sounding name aloud, "Dinotopia?"...
"Yes, that's right, young man, Dinotopia. And I, for one, do not take kindly to your harming of its denizens. If you do not let these here go, and promise not to further harm them or anyone else without good reason to, then I would suggest you feel my wrath," Minstelae says, still accented, but she hopes that for the most part, they understand what her intentions are. She hopes to scare them into letting the captives go, and into not harming anyone further.
Minstelae hears a second roar; similar to the one she had heard before, but louder, much louder, this time. She can also feel the ground vibrate with the footsteps of what seems to be her approaching friend. In a matter of seconds, a huge tyrannosaur shows up, making her presence well-known. *What seems to be the problem here?* she asks in her tyrannosaurian tongue.
Minstelae turns to the tyrannosaur. "Blackridge, it is so nice to see you," she says, still in English, but the tyrannosaur knows the gist of what she is saying. Minstelae then head-bobs in the direction of the humans, indicating that they seemed to be the current problem.
Lucas Pradelli couldn’t help but overhear the exchange between Rico and the young woman. He finished his brief scolding at Lt. Tates before joining his other shipmates.
“Go see what you can do for the boy, Lieutenant,” he said before turning. “There should be medical supplies inside one of the crates.”
He then focused his attention on the events happening behind him. “You can understand us,” he told the young woman. “What did you call this place? Dinotopia?”
He would have asked more, but before the other human could reply, another strange creature appeared. Lucas narrowed his eyes for a moment. What was this, the get together of a local circus? Either way, he didn’t like the attitude their trainer had given these beasts. He took a step towards Captain McGreggor and gave him the firearm he had recently taken from Petar.
“Rico,” he called at the other youth. “Aléjate de esos animales, y ven con nosotros. Si llegamos a lo peor, quiero que te larges de aquí con Namir, entendido?” He risked a glance at Petar and saw that he had just succeeded in bringing the strange youth back to at least partial consciousness. They were a bit far away, and he’d have to move very fast to protect them as well. He’d manage, somehow.
Ricos eyes widened, but he did as told motioning for the woman to follow.
“What is this place?” Lucas asked her.
Mathaira listened as the reddish-brown Utahraptor strongly suggested that the dolphinbacks release the saurians which they held as captives. "Captives?” Mathaira looked at the raptor questioningly.
While she had seen the Parasaurolophus and the Corythosaur with the dolphinback humans, her attention had initially been directed toward the human with the weapon and his apparent intent to use it to harm Tyara, her plesiosaur friend. Accustomed to seeing saurians and humans together, she had not thought it strange that the hadrosaurs had accompanied the humans along the beach. But with the obvious menace with which the Utahraptor expressed her intent, Mathaira now noted the rope-like device which encircled the neck of the smaller captive, a Parasaurolophus.
While she was pondering the meaning of such treatment of a fellow Dinotopian, her thoughts were interrupted as she was questioned by another of the dolphinbacks, this one with brown hair and an athletic build calling himself Lucas, wanting to know something about Dinotopia. Before she could reply the dolphinback's attention as well as her own was drawn to a large creature as it approached the Utahraptor. Mathaira instantly recognized the new arrival as a female tyrannosaur and listened as the two conversed briefly in a mixture of human English and Basin tyrannosaurian.
Mathaira watched as Lucas narrowed his eyes, seemingly perplexed by the diversity of those converging upon the beach. After seeing him pass the weapon which the tall muscular man had aimed toward Tyara to another of his companions, the older seaman, Mathaira listened as he gave a series of rapid commands directed at the dark haired youth with which she had been conversing. She concentrated on following their strange language, understanding that they referred to their saurian captives.
The dark haired youth, whom she learned was called Rico, motioned for her to follow as the one called Lucas questioned her further about Dinotopia.
Concerned about the captives, Mathaira nevertheless followed the strange pair of Dolphinbacks in hopes that she could determine what their motives were regarding the pair of hadrosaurs.
Rico dropped the leash holding the one creature at Lucas' command and hurried over to his side.
"Namir!" he called out.
The large, striped cat came bounding out of the forest and quickly took up a place between his masters side and Rico.
When the huge, toothy monster emerged from the forest, Rico could hardly move. The youth leaned back, gaping at the sheer size of the beast, the dagger length teeth that showed every time it growled at the smaller creature that had come from the forest.
It took a moment, but Rico remembered the final part of Lucas' order. If worse comes to worst, take Namir and get out of here.
The human touched the cats shoulder, getting its attention, and ran. Namir bound after him, not questioning the order.
Rico and Namir quickly left the monsters and crew behind, heading inland to who knew what dangers.
Some ways into the grassy planes, Namir stopped and growled. Rico slid to a halt and followed the feline.
The crested a hill and saw another beast, this one a HUGE rhino type creature with three giant horns protruding from its face. It didn't seem to be looking at them, but instead studying something on its other side.
Rico crouched in the grass, hoping Namir wouldn't give them away. The tigers natural camouflage kept it well hidden, but he was hungry.
Tamith rested her head on her partner’s side and watched as the first stars began to appear on the late afternoon sky. Camp had been set, a fire had been built, and she had already finished taking preliminary notes and sketches on her surroundings to file in her log when she got back. Lazily, she reached across to her pack where she had stored some sweet berries before leaving the shelter of the forest. She nibbled on a mouthful savoring their juiciness when Triforce interrupted her meal with a complaint.
“You can eat grass, while I can’t stomach it,” she said laughing. “Let me enjoy the berries at least. Don’t be so selfish.”
Triforce’s answer didn’t inspire a different response. “So what if there’s no sweet grass here? I can’t get my favorite foods in the wilderness either. Since when did you get so picky?”
Tamith jumped to her feet and threw a few handfuls of the fruit into her partner’s mouth. “There you go, so you don’t go on saying I a sweets hog.”
Triforce chewed happily then questioned the thought that had been on both their minds for a while.
"Yeah," Tamith replied worriedly. "They are taking longer than I thought too, but its Dylan, remember? And Karua loves to drag things as well... I'm sure they're fine."
She resumed her spot leaning against her partner's side. "Still... he could have at least sent Featherlight to tell us he was taking longer."
She sighed. Dylan just loved to have her worry. It was silly of her, he was a trained professional and there was nothing to fear out here in the Blackwood Flats. But she couldn’t help it. If any thing happened to that lazy, no good, irresponsible idiot, she’d never forgive herself.
Her thoughts were interrupted when Triforce called out a warning. She sat up and listened for what the Triceratops had heard. She heard nothing at first, but then her ears picked up the light sound of small, flapping wings.
“Featherlight...” she cried out in relief. It wasn’t long before the little Dimorphodon came into view. The little winged reptile landed at her feet and immediately cleared some ground to write his message. Having quickly finished his self-imposed mission, he stood back and waited for the human girl’s response. Tamith read and re-read the message feeling something cold settle in the pit of her stomach. Triforce paced over to her, and having read the message for herself, waited for her counter part to respond.
“Hunters from the outside...?” she muttered softly. “Now he’s done it.”
She bit her bottom lip and paced around the small campsite for a few moments.
“Let’s be rational about this,” she thought out loud. “We can’t really speak their language... unless by some miracle it’s the one Dylan’s always rambling. We’re going to need help on this one.” She stopped and looked at the little messenger. “OK, here’s what we’ll do: Featherlight, go to Waterfall City and have them send a party of Ambassadors, make sure that there are humans among them and that there is a linguist. We don’t know what these dolphinback’s speak... better yet; do you know who Dylan’s brother is?”
The little Dimorphodon squawked a positive.
“He’s a linguist. Go to him and he’ll take care of the rest. You’ll find him at the Great Library.”
Featherlight then proceeded on explaining to the Habitat Partners via footprint alphabet the general location of where he had followed the strange new humans and found their camp. Tamith and Triforce thanked him and saw him off. After the winged reptile disappeared from view, the human half of the team packed some supplies and changed her bright outfit.
“OK Tri, we’re going into our Basin training now. Dylan’s hurt and things may be a little crazy over there so the last thing we want is to be discovered, agreed?”
The Ceratopsian bellowed a positive so energetically that Tamith smiled. “Yeah, lets go rescue our teammate from the mess he buried himself into, shall we?” Triforce laughed in her own saurian way. “I’m sure Karua will be glad to see us too,” Tamith responded. “Well, we should be there before sunrise, and until the Waterfall City team arrives...” she sighed. “Here we go... again...”
Rico and Lucas, along with the Dinotopian captives, were long gone by the time Cyrrus Swiftflight arrived. Behind her Januss Greenrunner appeared, along with Riss T’ill.
Cyrrus sniffed the air, although the former party was gone, they left their scent behind. No doubt this was the place where the commotion started. But what had happen? There was a strong smell of burnt earth. The sent was strong enough for Riss to pick up.
The Struthiomimus lowered her swan like head to the ground. Januss did the same. Together they circle the area picking up the sent and trying to guess what had happen. Riss not having the nose of a Struthiomimus or a leaellynasura began to walk further up examining the grounds for clues.
“I’m picking up the sent of two saurians,” Cyrrus said. “A young Parasaurolophus and a Corynthosaurus. Along with the smell of men three of them I think. Two of them have a strong smell of the sea.”
“Dolphinbacks, there's no mistaking it” Januss said to Cyrrus. She remembered when she first met Riss T’ill. She too had the strong smell of the sea, being a dolphinback.
“There’s also a smell that I don’t recognized. Cyrrus whispered to the leaellynasura It’s not human nor is it saurian have you ever smell anything like this before?” asked Januss.
“Not in my travels," Januss answered. “It could be an animal of some sort that these humans have brought with them.
“Whatever the creature it is,” Cyrrus replied, that smell gives me an uneasy feeling.”
Januss was about to answer her when a sudden cry from Riss got their attention. The two startled saurian rushed toward her. Riss was crouching over something. Her right hand touched the ground and then stood up when her two companions arrived. She extend her right hand, on her fingers there was a smear of red.
“Look! Blood!” Riss cried. “There must have been a fight of some sort. That probably explains the gunfire.”
“It isn’t human blood,” Cyrrus said with her eyes wide open. “Saurian.”
“From what I can guess,” Riss explain, “These two dolphinbacks where probably scouting the land or searching for food. They must have come across our Dinotopian friends and thinking that the saurian was a threat or something to eat, open fire. They managed to injure one of saurian with their guns. I believe the human Dinotopian must have tried stop them. Why didn’t they listen to him, I don’t know. From there on... I’m at a lost.
“Their tail leads off toward the sea, they must have taken the Dinotopians captive. There may be more of them at the beach. Tell me Riss what is a ‘gun’?” Januss asked Riss knowing that she was a dolphinback and had knowledge of the outside world.
Riss began to explain the concept of what a gun was, both Cyrrus and Januss listen intently.
“The thing is do now is whether we should follow these dolphinbacks or back and contact the authorities.” Cyrrus said.
“The best choice is to track them down. I will try to talk to these dolphinbacks for I can speck their language.
“No Riss T’ill! Absolutely not!” Januss shouted at Riss. “If these Dolphinbacks are capable of harming a human let alone a fellow saurian, what will stop them at using harming you.”
“You have a point,” Riss replied. “But I’m willing to take the risk.”
“Not with out me, If you are going to confront them I going with you. If the dolphinbacks try to do anything, they got Januss Greenrunner to deal with.” The leaellynasura said with a small hint of pride in voice. Despite her small size, like all of her kind, leaellynasuras were no cowards.
“And Cyrrus Swiftflight, Januss is right, you’re not going alone on this journey. I believe the best idea is to follow the dolphinbacks find them, and try to rescue our Dinotopians. It’s too far to get any help form the authorities.”
“Come on, they have gotten a head start. If we hurry we might catch up with them before they reach the shore,” Januss shouted and with the help of Cyrrus they began to pick up the trail.
Thus began the journey of the three searchers, Cyrrus Swiftflight the Struthiomimus and Januss Greenrunner the leaellynasura lead the way, followed by Riss T’ill the dolphinback, on the trail of the crew of the Navigator along with their Dinotopian captives.