|Miles away in Pooktook, Colonel David Wexler had been moving all his metal working utensils and supplies from his open aired blacksmith's workshop into his house; the sky was growing darker. A patrol of skybax had been dispatched to warn the western seashore that another storm was coming, though this one a little less hazardous than the first. They, of course, being on the ocean, would nevertheless be the first, as well as the hardest, hit.
The skybax unit had landed in Pooktook subsequent to traveling from Volcaneum, and after they had finished there they would warn the Romano Hatchery and surrounding area before returning home, David thought to himself as the riders dismounted temporarily to let their Quetzalcoatlus take a drink from a small freshwater pond near his workshop. He, although quite happy with his profession, did admire the majestic creatures and their elegant riders, so he quickly looked around to make sure everything was put away. Then, he climbed on top of a large rock at the edge of the pond to watch the skybax take off again.
The Colonel was right in assuming that they would travel almost straight north, but did not have time to praise himself, for the wingspan of the gargantuan creatures caused him to fall backwards off of the boulder and into he muddy shallows.
To his surprise, a young Rhamphorynhcus greeted him in the mud, and nudged her scaly nose against him. The creature was obviously starving, so David brought her into the house with him to give her something to eat, and to shelter her at least till the storm had passed over them. They went into the taupe colored doorway, and David set the young dinosaur, who was named Erythia, by the fire next to his saurian partner/business associate, a male Protoceratops named Atlas. He then went in search of something for the three of them to eat.
This young Rhamphorynhcus was quite obviously not full grown yet, and probably needed something soft to gum on. But what? David had a brain flash and rushed into one of the bedrooms and took a wooden box out from under it. From it he took a half bar of chocolate that had been in his pocket when he was shipwrecked four summers earlier. It was probably no good as far as humans were concerned, but it was just what the saurian wanted.
During the night the squall was blowing over the town, but when it finally did pass the little one still could not sleep. David decided to tell her an ancient myth he had learned in the outside world to help put her to sleep, and Atlas, who was to anxious for morning to come to sleep, gladly translated. Atlas was gifted with the ability to easily pick up many dialects, as are many of his kind.
"He was successful on his first 10 labors, and this upset the goddess Hera, who like the cousin, also hated Heracles. So she told the evil cousin to order the hero to bring him three golden apples of immortality from a tree that bore them in Hera's own secret garden of Hersperides (which was located far away near the very end of the earth). Heracles did not know that he, being mortal, could not pluck these apples from the tree without instantly dying, for only gods and goddesses were permitted to do so." By this time the Colonel was getting rather tired, but Erythia seemed very intrigued, so he continued.
"But luckily for him, on his way to the secret garden Heracles ran into a Titan named Prometheus. Prometheus was also serving out a punishment given to him by the god, Zeus. He was chained up on a mountain, and every hour a large eagle would swoop down and eat out his liver, and shortly after, because he was immortal, it would grow back. But then the next hour the poor giant had to suffer it all over again. Heracles felt sorry for him, and being as strong as he was, was able free him from his chains (and Zeus allowed this for he was proud of his son's great strength). Prometheus was very grateful. In exchange for his help, the Titan, who could look into the future, told him not to pick the apples himself, but rather to have another god pick them and then hand them to him so he could bring them back to Greece unharmed. Of course Heracles listened, and with the help of on of Prometheus' Titan siblings, was able to return to his cousin unharmed with his 11th labor complete."
David took a deep breath after finishing. He then looked down from his chair at Erythia, who was looking back at him. "The moral of the story..." He paused. "If you help a friend, or even a stranger, they will most gratefully help you back." As Atlas translated the last sentence, the Colonel fell asleep. Erythia followed him shortly after, but never did she forget the significance of that moral.
The next day was July 6th, the day of the Dinotopian Water Festival in Waterfall City, and David's workers, most of Scandinavian decent, had all gone on a retreat at his request. He had planned to just lounge around that day, but Erythia, whom he had grown much attached to, seemed very anxious to get going somewhere. Colonel Wexler was very adventurous, and he decided that after he had left instructions to a local resident of Pooktook to be given to his workers when they were to return and find him gone, he would go wherever Erythia led him. He packed a cart with food and water for himself and Atlas, who wanted to come along, and knew that on the way to their unknown destination the Rhamphorynhcus would find something she found suitable to eat.
Erythia, full of energy, was tied by a three yard long rope to the Muttaburrasaurus-pulled wagon so she could lead the way. Little did David know that she was leading them instinctively to her nest. Their path would soon cross directly with Mathaira, Tamith, Rico and the others who were attending her newly born sibling, Storm Rider.
Stormtracer waved goodbye, along with Greyskin and Myops.
"Bye guys! I have some other stuff to do in Bonabba!" shouted Stormtracer
"Myops has scrolls to decipher in Waterfall city. Bye!"
Greyskin rumbled and set off towards the Basin.
Azonthus had been in the training field with her young warriors helping teach them as BattleBlood had once taught her, when a huge skybax and rider dared to land in the middle of practice. Being a little miffed, Az ordered the pterosaur and human surrounded. The youngsters loved the chance to “threaten” one of the softer Dinotopians and snarled and growled quite convincingly.
With a dozen velociraptors crowding close, the terrified quetzalcoatlus couldn’t take to the skies again.
“I have a message for clan leader Azonthus!” the rider called out as he dismounted, much to the disapproval of his mount.
Grinning, which, not accidentally, showed off all of her razor sharp teeth, Az waved down the trainees. “And what do you need her for?” she demanded.
The rider nervously looked at all the claws and teeth surrounding him. “This is only for Azonthus to hear. My instructions were very clear about that.”
“Well, you’ll have to tell me.”
The rest of the raptors, unable to understand human, growled softly.
“Oh, go take the rest of the day off,” Az said. “I’ll deal with these two.”
The eleven other raptors slipped into the jungle, but stayed close enough to see what went on.
“Breath Deep. I am Azonthus. What’s you’re message?”
The rider visibly relaxed now that he wasn’t surrounded. “Seek Peace. The council of Round Table Hall sent me here to bring you back to Waterfall City.”
Az tensed. Why would they want her there? Surely they weren’t after her about the Allosaurs!
“Dolphinbacks have landed in Blackwood Flats and representatives from every part of the Island will be traveling there to greet them. You were chosen to represent the Rainy Basin.”
Az laughed. “And you expect me to just come with you and leave my clan without their leader?”
The look on his face told her enough.
“Right. It’s not like I have any responsibilities or anything. I can just play extinct and vanish.” Az shook her head. “No.”
“But…” The rider was at a loss for words. They had never considered that she might not be able to come!
“You come flying in here, interrupt my warriors practice, and expect me to just come with you? No; not going to happen.”
“Please? We need you to come because other carnosaurs haven’t left the Basin to join our society then returned! You’ll be able to represent the carnosaurs, but understand Dolphinbacks fear.”
Az grinned again. This was too much fun. “Ok!”
“Ok? You’re coming?”
“Yup! Give me half an hour.” The small raptor dashed off to notify the elders and grab her cape and bow and arrows. Soon, she was gripping the saddle of a second skybax with her claws and on her way back to the city.
By the swift flowing river a figure stirred. Groggy but safe from the venom's deadly embrace and feeling as if she got hit by runaway diplodocus, Allyshar slowly came to. Remembering the squid she was amazed that she was still alive. Her head feeling very light she took a deep breathe of air to clear her head. Sensing something in the air, Allyshar sniffed to test it; it was of salt. Allyshar had smelled the mass of seaweed strapped to her chest, shoulder and upper arm.
She didn't put that there.
Allyshar then realized that someone must've saved her! Searching around for whoever it was she saw a single pair of human tracks and a strong smell of seawater.
She then noticed the rope of vines that leashed her to the tree. At first she was confused, why would anyone want to tie her up? Straining her still murky thoughts she figured that whomever it was who had saved her had put it there for her protection. So that in her dazed state she wouldn't wander and fall into the river or something like that.
Still exhausted from the ordeal Allyshar begun to fall asleep. Glad to have lived and hoping the human had also found FireEyes, Allyshar slipped into a dreamless sleep.
FireEyes was anxious, the little Ornitholestes had been gone for quite a few hours now. "What if she hasn't found those humans, or can't find her way back, or....." dozens of terrible thoughts flooded his mind to as what could have happened but since his wing was broken there was nothing that he could do. Wait! There was something that he could do. A long clear note came forth as FireEyes called out; if she had gotten lost then at least this would help.
About a quarter of a mile away Allyshar groaned. She had finally woken up completely, and her shoulder burned fiercely. Wondering what it was that had roused her, another Pteranodon location call rang out. Oooh, she had forgotten all about him in the confusion and pain of the mollusks venomous bite. What was she going to do? She could barely move and her new pterosaur acquaintance was in need of help too. As she lay there completely sprawled out on cushion pine needles wondering how this was going to be pulled off, the human who saved her returned.
Ava thundered along through the plains of eastern Dinotopia as the riders of third wing grew smaller and smaller up ahead. The huge quetzocoalti slashed the air with leathery wings as they came to rest near the crest of the hill. Gareth could just see well enough to see the tiny figures of the riders slide from their mounts, the red, cream and blue uniforms contrasting with the green and gold of the grasses. Within a few minutes, Ava came to a halt alongside the party of Skybax riders. They had already packed and were standing, waiting, each with a roll of cloth under his or her arm and each with a large pack on their back. Raymond came to greet them, the cured fabric of his master's tunic gleaming in the sun like a blue breastplate of some forgotten, mythical war.
"Where are your companions? It’ll be good to see Mathaira again and welcome some newcomers to the island. It's good to see you too; why last time I saw you, you were a mere whipper-snapper, sweeping out the stables in Canyon City. You sure have grown."
"Yes, I noticed that; if I don't stop getting bigger I'm going to have to sleep in the sauropod barn! Come on, they're down in this gulley."
They ran down the steep path to see what was happening with the rest of the party.
Atlas grumbled. He was sick of the bugs, sick of the humidity, and sick of having to walk.
I bet cousin Chaz doesn't have to do this, he thought. What he would give for civilization...
A sudden cawing captured his attention.
Is that a skybax rider? No, it was to small-the rider and the skybax... It was a Pteranodon and a small Theropod... Strange.
The Pteranodon landed and gestured to the Theropod.
”Oh my!” He said in Protoceratops. “I'll get help!”
Bent over a desk full of maps, Kael O'Connor was trying to put together the quickest route to the Blackwood Flats from Waterfall City. Behind him, he could hear the chatter of Ressa, a scribe for the Library, but also his partner and one of his oldest friends. The five foot Ornithopod was checking down the list he had written earlier of things that had to be done before embarking on such mission.
"We've already gotten a supply of eels, just incase we meet any carnivores in the Basin... Oh, I do hope they're still waiting out the storm in caves or something."
Ressa was a scarlet and sienna colored Fabrosaur. Like most scribes, a journey into the Basin was his least favorite thing, but under the circumstances, he had been willing to make the sacrifice of abandoning his beloved library.
"Calm down, Ressa, I'm sure we'll have no problems with them. If Azonthus comes, everything should be just fine," Kael said momentarily looking up from his work. "Besides, don't you get bored of being cooped up in here everyday?"
"Not really, no," Ressa replied, checking out another item on his list. "My scrolls and translating are all the adventure I need. Besides, I travel down to Pooktook once a year to visit family, that's enough of an outing for me."
Kael smiled. "Sometimes I wonder why we get along so well. You can be worse than Enit at times!"
"That's why you're the ambassador, and I'm the scribe. You travel, I write. Simple enough and works just fine for me...Hmm... Nallab already confirmed Standtall was willing? Yes he did... Food! I better go down there and check our suppl-"
He would have continued, but was interrupted by Hikari Sakamoto who ran in past him making him loose his balance and knock over a pile of scrolls.
"Jones-san's back! O'Connor-san, Jones-san's back!!" Hikari squealed, oblivious to Ressa's grumbles.
"Allen?? He is?" Kael jumped out from behind his desk and ran towards the door, completely forgetting about poor Ressa. Hikari was beaming, but before running after Kael, she noticed to middle aged Fabrosaur and raised and eyebrow.
"Ressa, what are you doing there?" she inquired.
"What do you think!" Ressa exclaimed, "You tripped me-"
"That's nice, but I got to go. If Azonthus-san came, she'll need accommodations. Keep up the good work!" With that, she sprinted after Kael.
"But...ahh.. Humans..." Ressa complained picking himself and the scrolls around him up before going down to check on the food supplies.
Allen Jones was just dismounting golden Highwind, when Kael and Hikari tumbled into the rookery. They both looked slight out of breath and Allen grinned at his friend's attempt to gain his composure before meeting the Clan leader.
Azonthus jumped off her mount and took a moment to study the two humans before her. The female had long, complicatedly braided black hair and eyes and wore loose sapphire colored pants and matching tunic. The male looked slightly familiar, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. He was dressed in red robes and had shoulder length dark brown hair. He was the one that addressed her first.
"Breath Deep," he began in the typical Dinotopian fashion.
"Seek Peace," Azonthus finished the greeting and waited for an introduction.
"My name is Kael O'Connor, I shall be leading our team to the Blackwood Flats. It is an honor that you could join us Azonthus. This is Hikari Sakamoto, she will be joining us too, as will Allen Jones, whom you have already met."
"O'Connor!" Azonthus exclaimed suddenly, "That's why you look so familiar. Are you related to Dylan O'Connor?"
"Yes," Kael said, slightly taken aback by her quick connection. "He's my brother. You've met him?"
"Met him?!" Azonthus said laughing. "How could I forget him? He’s the biggest pain in the neck ever!"
Kael's puzzled look made her laugh even harder. "Oh don't worry, I meant that in the best possible way. Yes, I have met him before and he always seems to be getting himself, and Tamith, a good friend of mine, into trouble. If we happen to all be together then... You get the point."
"Yes," Kael said still slightly confused "Dylan can be a bit reckless..."
"It runs in the family," Allen muttered loud enough for everyone present to hear, then pretended to be attending his partner when Kael threw a hard glare in his direction. Hikari brought a hand to her mouth as to muffle her giggles. Allen stole a glance at her and winked, getting a thumb's up in response.
"Any ways," Kael continued ignoring both his friends. "I think it would be nice to introduce you to the rest of the team, also to fill you in on our plans. Since you are here, we can leave at dawn tomorrow."
"Sounds fair," Az said finding everything that was going on around her very amusing. "I could always visit a couple of friends before we leave and had a good look around of the city, for old time's sake."
Kael smiled and nodded while motioning for her to follow him down the steps towards the city.
"And you could tell us how you met Dylan!" Allen called as they left and he could have sworn he saw Kael pause for a fragment of a second.
"Well," he said once they were both gone and out of earshot, "That went well."
Hikari grinned. "You're evil, Allen-kun."
"Thanks," he said with a smirk, then turned to unsaddle and groom Highwind.
Gareth slid down steep embankment that surrounded the little dell, where a fire was now visible. Raymond and the rest of second flight slid down behind him, pin-point balance making easy work of the treacherous slope. Gareth ducked under a solid looking bough and found his companions seated in a circle around Mathaira, who was softly crooning to a young, electric blue pterosaur who lay panting in her arms. Dylan hid his face behind a plank of wood and used a puppet of an adult dinosaur to affectionately lick and tender the baby. His eyes sparkled with a joyous flame as he watched the little creature growl and nip tiny, passing insects.
Heads turned upwards as Gareth entered the clearing and several of the group rose as the skybax riders followed him down into the clearing. Raymond immediately dunked his head into the water and took a few long gulps before shaking it vigorously, soliciting an amused chuckle from Tates and a few purring giggles from the baby Rhamphorynhcus.
The riders stood and began talking to the travelers and Niya ran towards Mathaira grabbing her round the neck with obvious joy. The two were old friends. Gareth loped towards the pool of water and took a few deep draughts, filling his gourd at the edge of the pool before returning to where Raymond was whispering to Lucas. He knelt down next to where Niya and Mathaira where cooing and tickling the little dinosaur.
“Mathaira, do you think you’ll be able to travel with this little fellow?” he asked, stroking the tiny head, causing the baby to nip playfully at his fingertip and draw tiny rivulets of blood.
“Ooh, are you all right, or did poor Ickle babykins get bitten to badly?” Mathaira scolded playfully before continuing in a more serious tone.
“Yes, I think we can travel, at least on foot, I don’t think taking a skybax or riding would be the best of ideas for him at the moment. I say the trappers and I should go with you, Dylan and Ava while the rest of the group can go on ahead either on foot or get Raymond to fit a few traveling slings up and fly four of us in. what d’ya reckon?”
The idea seemed good and after a few minutes talk the group packed up and got ready to move out. Gareth, Tates, Rico, Ava and Mathaira all set out on foot while the Skybax wing, fitted with passenger slings, took off and soared overhead with a parting shriek.
Tamith was helping Mathaira pack what they had used to aid them during the hatching when she felt someone pat her in the back.
“Hey you!” she said beaming at Dylan. “I’d expected you to have stayed in Chandara, glad to see you’re feeling better.”
Dylan grinned. “And miss an opportunity to get myself into trouble again? Naw.”
“I’m happy to see you’re looking better Dylan,” Mathaira told him still cooing baby Storm Rider. “You had us worried.”
Dylan smiled. “I’ll be staying behind to help with the baby now. Tamith, you and Triforce can go ahead to Chandara with the rest of the group and reserve rooms at an inn or something, we’re gonna need them.”
“Sounds fair,” Tamith replied. “I’ll prepare a feast for you all for when you arrive, we’ll be needing that too, I think. I’ll see you there!”
She waved goodbye at her old friends and walked over to the skybax wing to talk with Raymond. She told him Triforce and her would set out on foot to Chandara and would meet up with them there. Raymond agreed to this and took the responsibility of finding enough rooms for the travelers when he arrived. He waved goodbye, and mounted his skybax waving goodbye at the rest of the group.
“On to Chandara,” Tamith whispered to Triforce. The Triceratops grunted a response and set ahead on a brisk trot.
Lucas Pradelli looked around what was left of their camp. It wasn’t much. While fleeing the storm on land, they had lost many of the supplies they had managed to salvage to the sea again. After the group of locals had left them, they had decided to remain where they were until the weather died down a bit before searching the shoreline for more survivors. It was now a day and a half since that had happened and the weather had cleared enough to allow for the search.
“Gentlemen,” Lucas said addressing his fellow castaways. “Gather everything we can salvage and carry, we’re heading out now.”
Both Captain McGreggor and Mr. Sorla aided him in putting together enough supplies that would allow them to hunt for food, camp, and give simple first aid to any of them if it were needed.
“What should we do with the rest of this stuff?” Jebar Sorla asked pointing at the other three crates they had salvaged.
“Let’s leave them here,” Lucas suggested, “but lets bury them. We really wouldn’t want them to fall into the wrong hands.” He signaled for his Siberian tiger, Namir, to come to him and after affectionately rubbing his ears told him to dig a deep hole on the moist earth. It wasn’t long before the great cat had done his job and the three men pushed in the remaining crates in and covered them. Satisfied with their work, the three remaining trappers set out back towards the shore.
“The remaining drizzle will cover our tracks, Mr. Pradelli,” Captain McGreggor said as they departed the camp.
“I’m aware of that, but I’m sure a good enough tracker would be able to pick up our trail. The boy whom Namir attacked told me there would be people coming for us. In any case, we could just circle back here after a few days, but not until we have scavenged every last corner of these shores. There just have to me more survivors.”
Captain McGreggor nodded. Lucas was now kneeling next to Namir again apparently telling him something. The orange cat’s ears perked up and within moments, he jumped ahead of the trio sniffing the earth in his path.
“I sent him to search for the trail of any human sent he finds familiar.” He said turning to his companions. “If there’s anyone out there, Namir is sure to find them.”