The Seven Hunters

Chapter 30 A Risky Plan

“Fortune sides with him who dares.”

― Virgil

Several weeks after the events of the previous chapter:

"Me no like this. Green food getting smaller means red food getting smaller!"

Petrie was flying back to the lowlands from Hanging Rock in one of his scouting runs. This was merely a journey of a few hours for him, whereas it would have taken the pack several days to make the journey. One of the advantages of being flyer. Petrie noted in his mind.

It had been decided soon after they arrived in the lowlands that Petrie would make periodic trips to see Ruby's parents. Not only would this reduce the homesickness of Ruby and allow the pack to have some contact with the only adults who knew of their fate, but it would also allow them to get advanced information on what was going on elsewhere in the Mysterious Beyond. Fast runners could speak both languages and as a result were quite knowledgeable on current affairs. A necessary advantage if one were to survive in the Mysterious Beyond.

They had filled him in on what they knew about the Land of Shallow Waters. The food there was not as plentiful as the lowlands in spring, but it had the advantage of being consistent. It would make sense for an adult sharptooth to stay in such a location, as the modest amount of food would easily be theirs. Ruby's father, however, had cautioned that the children should eat and drink well prior to the journey. It was a two day journey by walking through desolate barren land, but only a few hours by air. In the hot season, which was now arriving, there would be the danger of getting lost and possibly dying of thirst. But with Petrie as an aerial guide, they were confident that he could keep the pack on track. After the usual exchange of 'farewells' and 'good lucks' Petrie had departed back towards his new home, the lowlands.

Petrie had noticed on this particular scouting run that the vegetation was getting scarcer between the lowlands and Hanging Rock. A sign of the impending dry season. With its arrival, the lowlands will lose its plentiful moisture and vegetation. With that, the herbivores will migrate to more suitable lands. The signs were all there for him to see. They would have to begin their journey to the Land of Shallow Waters very soon. It was a treacherous journey, if what Taunt told them was accurate, but they had little choice now.

"What that?!" Petrie had his thought interrupted by a loud roar below him.

He glanced down at the ground and could see a threehorn in a defense posture, his horns facing his advancing adversary. Three children hid behind his leg, cowering in fear. The male triceratops gave another threatening roar and stomped on the ground, obviously trying to intimidate the adversary.

Petrie looked at the hulking form that was advancing on the hapless family. It was a tan creature, but the details were hard to see from the air. Wait a moment... Petrie told himself as he took a closer look. The dinosaur was bipedal, Petrie could tell based upon how it walked, and he had a noticeable red scar around...

"It Red Claw!" Petrie exclaimed. It seemed that he was also trying to follow the food. That did not bode well for the pack or their allies. Even if the food situation was not dire, and it was, the existence of Red Claw in the lowlands would be dangerous beyond words. There was no question now: they had to leave.

Petrie tried to ignore the sounds of painful screams, ripping flesh, and gurgling blood as the threehorn family was ripped apart. He silently redirected his wings and continued his flight back to the lowlands. The pack had to make a very important decision.

......

"Oh crap! Well we have to leave now!"

There were reluctant nods and affirmative grunts at Littlefoot's exclamation. There was still enough food to sustain them for several more weeks in the lowlands, but with the departure of the longneck herd, food was beginning to dwindle. But now with Red Claw approaching from Hanging Rock...

"My family!" Ruby exclaimed suddenly. "If Red Claw is coming from Hanging Rock then he must have been at Hanging Rock!"

Petrie waved his wing in a calming gesture. "Me talk to them. Them safe."

Ruby calmed down after a few moments. Petrie hadn't yet talked to the pack about what Ruby's parents had said. He started with the most pertinent information, that concerning Red Claw, and waited for the pack's reaction before continuing.

Seeing that Ruby was now assured of her family's safety from Red Claw, Cera looked at Littlefoot in a questioning manner.

"We need to tell Skytail and the others, don't we?" They are our allies after all."

Littlefoot nodded at this. "They knew that we were going eventually, but they probably aren't expecting us to leave yet!" He then pondered for a moment. "I wonder if they will want to go as well..."

Spike spoke up at this in a sarcastic tone. "Yeah... He isn't exactly a good neighbor!"

The rest of the pack laughed at Spike's antics. His sarcastic response provided some much needed humor to a rather dark report from their aerial scout. After a few moments, however, Ducky aired some of her thoughts to the group.

"But if we go see Chomper's mommy and daddy then we won't be seeing our mommies and daddies. Nope, nope, nope!" She paused for a moment as that truism set in. "Should we talk with them first?"

All eyes turned to Littlefoot as he reflected on the question for a while. They had relearned the leaf-eater language and were much better on their feet than they were when they first changed... But would their parents even believe them at this point? Or, for that matter, would they even give them a chance to speak? No. Littlefoot thought morosely. No, we can't risk it... He had made his decision.

"Guys... I don't think we can do that..." He paused for a moment to let those words sink in. "How would we make it to the valley if it is as bad out there as Petrie says it is?" The others pondered this, as Ducky looked down in sadness and Spike looked on. Ruby and Cera did not look surprised, however, each having accepted their fates in their own ways. Littlefoot continued. "We need to get out of here before Red Claw and his fastbiters decide that we are food!"

The others seemed to agree with this, when Petrie suddenly cleared his throat.

"Uh... Me not see Screech and Thud... Maybe they sick?"

Cera snorted at this. "If so, then maybe Red Claw ate them! He isn't exactly the friendliest dinosaur..."

Little did Cera know that she was right about one of them...

......

Damn it!

Red Claw was raging at the injury that he obtained at the horns of the threehorn. A large gash appeared at the side of his leg, a testament of the father's futile efforts to save the lives of his sons and daughters. Although the injury stung, he knew that it would heal in time. In either event, he had obtained enough food to sustain himself for several days until the injury mended itself. This would give some time to think about his current predicament.

As if he relished that opportunity...

"Those treasonous fastbiters! I should have never have trusted them!" He ripped into the father threehorn's flesh with his other clawed foot in his rage. "They only care for themselves!" Another stomp landed on the father's skull, crushing it and spewing its contents over the adjacent ground. "I was the leader! How dare those numbskulls think that they can leave me?! Who do they think I am?!" With a few final stomps, his anger was calmed for a few moments.

He looked at the retreating sun. Its steady departure behind the horizon caused a crimson sky to greet the world. Its blood red hue matched Red Claw's vengeful mood.

It had all started when he mentioned to his two minions that he would soon put a new plan in action in order to avenge his son.

It was a lingering ambition for him, as the death of Wrath still plagued his memories. He had been the sole remembrance of his lost mate, as the other children failed to survive to adulthood. They were too weak to survive the cold winters or the long periods of starvation that the desolate lands imposed upon their inhabitants. But Wrath... Wrath was different. He alone shared the cold sentiments of his parents. He alone could do whatever was necessary in order to survive or thrive. He was so alike Red Claw in many ways...

And now he was gone.

For many season he had tried to get his revenge on the valley that had robbed him of his progeny, but to no avail. The high walls and vigilant residents of the valley would repeal any attack. The most that he could muster was the occasional death of the valley resident who left the valley for one reason or another... A petty act of reciprocity. How could the death of one leaf-eater atone for the death of his son? Not even the death of the entire valley would assuage his guilt over his failure to be there... But it would be a start.

When he had told his two hapless minions that he was enlisting additional help from other packs, they had been displeased. They obviously knew that if they failed to perform then this 'additional help' would simply turn into the 'help'. Failures had no place in his pack. He had hoped that this would embolden the fastbiters into redoubling their efforts against the valley, but it had backfired spectacularly. After he discovered their departure, he enlisted one of the most promising upstarts that he could find in order to recover his lost minions. This was his chance. If he could prove his worth then he would be offered a place at Red Claw's side, a proposition that provided nothing in the way of respect, but everything in the way of power. This was a strong temptation for any sharptooth and he hoped that he would prove up to the task.

After several days he found the dead body of Screech and figured that his young protégée was proving to be a suitable replacement for his untrustworthy lackeys. However, after following the scent of the fastbiter for some time, he came across a scene which disappointed him to no end. He looked over a massive cliff that overlooked a large body of water. There he saw the bloated body of the fastbiter laying at its edge. It seemed that Thud had taken a final act of vengeance upon his old master before being consumed by the depths... Surely Thud could not have survived such a fall?

Red Claw grunted in anger. His rage at his current situation returning to him. He was not getting any younger and if he were going to secure the vengeance that he sought against the valley then he would need to act. There were plenty of young, upstart sharpteeth around who knew nothing about honor or discipline. Orphans and the children of neglect. The Mysterious Beyond created many of those. He could use them for a time for his dark purposes. If given a choice between death at his claws or rewards by serving his needs... most would choose the obvious right choice.

Yes... He would begin again. He would build up his forces with the promises of untold amounts of food if they could take the valley... He would get his vengeance against those who had deprived him of his son.

Soon Wrath... Soon the Mysterious Beyond will fear your name again...

......

"So... This is it, isn't it?"

Skytail was quite sad to see this day come. Yes, the packs had started out as rivals, but their alliance had lead to the formation of friendships between Skytail's pack and the former leaf-eaters. He had no doubt that fate had great things in store for them and he was quite happy to provide them with assistance. Now it seemed that his part in this saga was over.

"Don't say it like that!" Littlefoot laughed. "I am sure that we will see one another again... We both will be following the food, no doubt."

Skytail smiled and agreed. "No doubt... But I think we will be staying here for the time being. We can leave when Red Claw finally does show himself."

Taunt nodded at this. "Yeah... And I am not in a hurry to be eaten by your folks, Chomper!"

Chomper laughed. "I am sure that they won't eat our allies... I think."

Breeze snorted and then responded sarcastically. "Yep. That sounds reassuring."

Littlefoot decided to get involved in the conversation again. "Well anyway... Regardless of Chomper's dad's desire to eat Taunt... I do hope that we meet again." He then smiled. "We may be apart but we are still allies, are we not?"

Skytail nodded. "Always."

A poignant moment passed as the fastbiters said their goodbyes to one another, not being sure if they would meet again. The two packs had their ups and downs over the last several weeks, but despite the short span of time that they had actually known one another they seemed as close as old friends. Being comrades in life-or-death situations will do that to dinosaurs. Finally, however, Taunt decided to ruin the moment.

"Well, it looks like I will finally get Cera's sleeping spot after all!"

Both Skytail and Littlefoot sighed and rubbed their heads. Knowing Taunt's and Cera's personalities, they both knew where this conversation was going.

"You toothless sap-sucker!" She raged. "That is my sleeping spot! It took me four days to get your scent off of it!"

Taunt retorted. "Aww! You counted the days... I knew you cared about me!"

Cera growled at the orange fastbiter. This confrontation was on its way to escalating like most of Cera's and Taunt's interactions did. Usually one would provoke the other to the point of rage, one would chase the other, and then the process would begin anew with the roles reversed. It seemed that everyone saw the implications of their interactions, except for those two. Spike finally decided to call them out on the obvious.

"Why were you marking her sleeping spot anyway, Taunt?" Spike accused. "Everyone else seemed to mark the spots equally, but Cera's spot only had your scent..."

Taunt paled. Was he accusing him of what he thought he was? Cera, meanwhile, was now upset with Spike for his insinuation. She would not be interested in Taunt even if he were the last male on the planet.

"Why? Is she your girl?" Taunt retorted to Spike.

Spike did not take the bait, but instead dodged Taunt's insinuation with one of his own. "Most certainly not. She is yours for the taking."

Cera sputtered and seemed to be getting ready to charge at them both, when Littlefoot decided to intervene with a smile.

"Well you two can flirt later..." He said this while looking at Cera and Taunt, causing both to grunt in protest. "But we do need to get going... And I would prefer our parting to be a peaceful one."

Both of the dinosaurs huffed and looked away from the other, while the other dinosaurs laughed hysterically. It was nice to see the instigators of the two packs be put into their place for once.

Skytail smiled. Taunt and Cera were both acting displeased, but he knew that their anger wouldn't last. Although each would undoubtedly try to get even with the others in their own way... Oh well. He thought to himself. That's what I get for bringing a thief into my pack and that is what he gets for letting a former threehorn into his. Neither of them have the most agreeable personality!

Littlefoot then spoke.

"Well, guys... I think it is time for us to say our goodbyes. We will need to head out in the morning. We have a long journey ahead of us."

With that the members of the two packs, even the embarrassed duo of Cera and Taunt, said their goodbyes amicably to one another. The destiny of each pack would be in their own paws for a while, but all of the dinosaurs somehow felt that they would meet again someday. Neighbors may be temporary, but alliances were forever.

......

"Well it is certainly hot..." Chronos lamented. They had been traveling all day in the desolate barren landscape that existed between the Land of Shallow Waters and the outside world. The high wind drove blistering sand into their eyes and skin, while the sweltering heat only added to their misery.

Logos didn't answer for a time, instead focusing on her breathing. She had to maintain a steady pace if they were going to arrive in their destination in one piece. It was a two day journey for a land-walker and they needed to arrive before the heat and lack of water began to make them hallucinate or lose their sense of direction. Either of those outcomes would be fatal... Finally she answered her companion.

"Follow the setting bright circle. It will lead us to where we need to go..." She panted for several moments before responding again. "There will be plenty of water there... I hope."

The two rainbowfaces continued on their way, with only one of them truly knowing the real mission. Chronos still believed that they were seeking out the children to see their fate and to help them in their new lives. Logos, however, knew the true ramifications of what she had to do. She knew that he would interfere if he knew so she had kept the secret to herself. She only hoped that he would understand in time. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the desolate hellscape, seven hunters were also beginning their journey.

......

"Urgh! I can barely see my sniffer in front of my face!" Chomper yelled as he strode into the blistering sand. None of the members of the pack could see much of the world around them as they were stuck in a blinding sandstorm. The entire world around them was covered in a brown haze. Only the light from the bright circle was somewhat discernible, which gave them something to aim towards.

Petrie had tried to lead the pack earlier, but he was effectively grounded as the torrent of sand rained down upon the pack. Now he took the only refuge he could find, behind Littlefoot's neck, and closed his eyes from the raging sand. Many of the others were likewise closing their eyes and simply aiming their heads towards the glow of the bright circle, which could still be discerned through their closed eyelids. It was a miserable journey.

Suddenly, however, Littlefoot yelled at the group.

"Look! A rock!" The others reluctantly opened their eyes and could see the shadow of the large rock pillar in the distance. Perhaps this could provide them with some badly needed shelter. "Follow me!" He called excitedly.

The others hurried on as they struggled to keep up with their leader. They feared that if they lost track of one another they would never find their way back again. After several moments the roaring crash of the violent wind against their faces became less and less severe. The echo of the noise, however, lingered in their ears as that was what they had heard for the previous several hours. As each of them passed safely into the wind break and shade provided by the pillar, they began to collapse one by one. It was a welcome relief from the misery of the last several hours.

"Whew!" Ruby exclaimed. "I couldn't see anything because of the sand!"

"It was bad. It was! It was!" Ducky affirmed.

Littlefoot looked at the group for a few moments, before mentioning his plan. "I guess we can wait here for a while... See if the storm blows by..." He then looked at Petrie. "Petrie?"

Petrie was shaking some of the sand that had accumulated on him during his journey. "Huh?" The flyer replied when he realized that Littlefoot was talking to him. The sound of roaring wind was still echoing in his ears.

"The night circle is full tonight, so there will be plenty of light. Do you think that you could lead us?"

Petrie considered this for a moment. "Yes. Me can lead. But why at night? Petrie sleep at night."

Littlefoot nodded. "Yeah... But I think we need to do something different. Traveling by day is hard."

The others grunted their agreement at their leader's assessment. It would be a lot easier to travel at night when the bright circle was down and the ground and sand wasn't so hot. Not to mention, Petrie could see the landmarks from the air and thus could lead the group even if they couldn't see those landmarks very well themselves. It was a good plan.

"Me think that good idea." Petrie agreed. "So we sleep now?"

Littlefoot nodded. "Yeah... That sounds good. When the night circle rises we travel to the ragged bluffs... Taunt said that was the halfway point."

Cera yawned, but looked inquisitively at Littlefoot for a moment. "Do you think that we can make it that far in one night?"

Littlefoot shrugged. "We won't know if we don't try... Let's just hope that no one notices us while we are here. We would make a very tempting target."

Chomper chuckled at Littlefoot's concerns. "Look at the sand, Littlefoot." As he mentioned this, Littlefoot looked at the brown cloud covering everything outside of the windbreak provided by the rock. "I don't think anyone will find us here."

Littlefoot chuckled as well. "Heh... I guess you're right... Have a good rest, everyone." Each of the pack then began to dig scrapes into the cool, shaded sand and laid down to sleep.

Neither of them saw the flyer staring at them from high on the rocky pillar...

That is them! Vokal thought with surprise. They match the description perfectly! She scowled to herself. After hearing what these fiends had done to her cousin's son, she wanted to kill them right here. But she knew that she was unequal to the task.

As soon as the sandstorm clears, I will have to tell Volant about this!

Thus, as the children slept, the cause of their future torment waited for the chance to take flight. The anger of the Great Valley would soon be felt outside of its confines...

......

Several hours later:

Why would the Consortium Council order the entire planet's biosphere to be destroyed? Logos asked herself. Surely a more modest assault would be more than sufficient? The species hasn't even reached beyond the stone age yet, a modest boost from the Stone isn't going to turn them into new Others! Logos was lost in thought, as the events of the previous several days still haunted her. She lamented the orders she had received from Galek, but orders from the Council must be obeyed. There must be something that I am missing!

"So these are the Ragged Bluffs?" Chronos asked his silent companion. He didn't expect a response, nor did he receive one. Logos was mysteriously silent for much of the journey to the Land of Shallow Waters. A journey which was only halfway over. It was quite obvious that something was preoccupying her and he felt that he knew part of the answer.

It had to be something that the Commissar said during the mission briefing. He noted darkly to himself. That bastard is always looking for ways to complicate our lives. From their 'mission' on this planet which had become more of an exile than anything else, to all of the fallout from their first mission, he had been a thorn in their side. Chronos supposed that he couldn't really blame him, however, as he was a product of an older time. A time when the memories of the War were still fresh in the minds of all members of the Consortium. Ever since the allied races had united under one banner, the possibility of war had become an outlandish possibility. That was until they came...

The Others. That was what the Consortium had called them, as they had made no attempt to communicate or identify their intentions to any other race. And they were 'other' in every sense of the word. All of the other races of the Consortium had either come into existence independently by processes of evolution on their own planets, or were uplifted by other races. Each of them had risen above their petty drives of dominance and aggression in order to establish peaceful, stable societies on their home planets. The other possibility was annihilation, as any race capable of high technology would destroy themselves with that technology if they were incapable of abolishing war amongst themselves. This peaceful state of affairs was the main requirement for joining the Consortium, as well as being in a sector of the galaxy worth exploiting...

The Others, however, survived in a manner that the other races had not foreseen. They had apparently a stable one world government not through peace, but through war. Their hive-like minds suited them well in that once a ruler had achieved dominance it allowed them to avoid fracturing. The desire to expand and conquer remained, but no new fertile lands remained on their planet. Other worlds would have to be sought out. A possibility that had been discounted so long ago, the expansionist space empire, actually flourished in this species. The hopes of high technology requiring high social ideals were dashed when The Others launched their campaign. The Consortium lost its naiveté in the maelstrom of death that followed.

Finally, after the Consortium had finally launched the final assault on the homeworld of The Others, they found the answer to the question that had plagued them for so long. How could such a violent race rise to prominence fast enough to discover spaceflight but yet not destroy themselves due to their violent nature? After the planet was blanketed with projectiles and its surface left an inhospitable wreck, the soldiers had to flush out the remnants of the race from their subterranean hives. That's when they found it. In one of the catacombs they found what almost appeared to be a temple. A curious sight from a race that glorified practicality to the detriment of all artistic pursuits. In the 'temple' they had found the first of the Stones of Destiny.

The rest, as they say, is history.

More of the Stones of Destiny were found around other planets. Additionally, it was discovered that one of the sacred artifacts of a younger Consortium race was actually one of these stones. That species, the Vetre, had always claimed that the stone had given them enlightenment so long ago... And now the Consortium knew why.

The Stones of Destiny were artifacts from the Ancient Ones, a race that had existed and then mysteriously departed before the oldest homeworld of the Consortium had even evolved terrestrial life. Their artifacts could be found throughout the galaxy, but little else was known of them. The Stones, however, did give a hint about the nature of their creators. The Stones appeared to guide the evolution of the species that they encountered. They used the organic material on the planet in question and the needs of the discover of the Stone in order to uplift a few members of that species into a new form. A more advanced form. As the new members bred into their host species, the new genes would enter the gene pool and the entire species would benefit as a result. The Stones did not seem to discriminate. Whether it was a vile, violent race like The Outsiders or a peaceful race like the Vetre, the Stones seemed to only take into account the perceived needs of the species concerned. The revered matriarch of the Vetre sought harmony from the stone and thus it gave them more harmonious instincts to go along with the increase in intelligence. One of the hive queens of The Outsiders wanted success in war... and the stone delivered.

Artifacts with such power were thus deemed a major threat to the Consortium. As a result a general order went out that all of the Stones must be catalogued for destruction. They were simply too dangerous for any race to obtain. Even one of the races of the Consortium could not be trusted with such things. If the person who activated it had impure intentions...

The Consortium had gotten all of the Stones from this region of the galaxy, or so it believed. They couldn't tolerate the risk of another species suddenly being uplifted intellectually without being sufficiently advanced socially. However, upon hearing the stories that the locals told, Chronos became convinced that one of the remaining stones must be in this very system. The Commissar and his allies, favoring isolation from other species due to their unhappy experiences during the war, thought that the ideas of the young idealist were foolish. However, if they could send him away where he could no longer influence the others with interventionalist tendencies...

Chronos shook his head. He was getting so absorbed into worrying about Logos's inner thoughts that he was losing track of things himself. Time to quit beating around the bush! He affirmed. It is time to get to the bottom of this!

Uncharacteristically for him, he responded in a gruff, annoyed fashion.

"What is going on, Logos?!" He didn't even flinch when she looked up in surprise at his outburst. "You have been depressed and snappy since you talked to the old fossil on the communicator. Was it something that he said?"

Logos stared at Chronos with a pointed glare, as if she could shout hurt him with her gaze. After a few moments, however, she finally broke eye contact and sighed.

"Yeah... I guess that you have a right to know..." She began, but then paused. She pondered for a moment as if she were trying to articulate the words to describe their situation. "I am the commander... As if our titles mean anything anymore... They will never let us return, will they? We have been contaminated by this world, after all."

Chronos nodded sadly. She was probably correct. He had no doubt that the Commissar would use his authority to make their temporary exile on this planet a permanent one. The Commissar viewed their desire to explore for exploration sake to be a direct threat to the Consortium and its future. He would willingly remove such a threat, of that Chronos had no doubt.

"There is a special order that all of us commanders are instructed on... One that we are not to inform our subordinates about unless it is absolutely necessary..." She then looked at Chronos and smiled. "But then again we have never been one for following our orders, have we?"

Chronos nodded at this. He had been a rather bad influence on his commander or, from his perspective, a good influence.

Logos's face suddenly fell into a sad expression. This sudden change in demeanor stunned Chronos, but Logos began again before he could react. "Chronos... Here is what we are supposed to do if we encounter beings that have been 'contaminated' by the stone..."

......

As the first rays of sunlight rose across the horizon, Chronos yawned. His turn at keeping watch was about to end and soon it would be time for both of them to continue their journey to the Land of Shallow Waters. However, their mission to find the children certainly had a far different connotation now. The fate of this planet was at stake. He would do what he needed to do, but he resolved to regret his decision for the rest of his life.

That was when he saw it.

Nearing the Ragged Bluffs were seven distinct forms. A purple sharptooth which matched the description of Chomper from Mr. Thicknose, a sharptooth flyer, and five fastbiters. There was only one possible identity for this group. It had to be the children. Only the children could form a sharptooth pack that diverse. With a pang of regret, Chronos realized that his final mission as a Consortium member would end here. He realized that he should have awakened Logos, but he decided that he would not burden Logos with the hard action which was now needed. He was the one that had gotten them into this mess and he would end it. What harm was one more act of insubordination in a career that involved bending rules at every opportunity?

With as much speed as he could muster, he ran from boulder to boulder in order to get closer to where the children were nearing. They were obviously tiring and were probably preparing to rest for the day. A wise strategy in order to avoid the inhospitable conditions of the desert, but despite the wise strategy it had led them here.

Hiding behind a final boulder within a stone's throw away from the children, he could hear each of them wish one another a goodnight's sleep. Peeking about the stone, he could see them all curled into a massive pile of resting bodies. If he were going to complete his mission the now would be the most opportune time. It would only take a few seconds to carry out, but a lifetime to rationalize to himself.

With slow, purposeful steps, Chronos walked out from behind the boulder. His paw was gripped around what appeared to be a small, smooth stone. This was not any mere stone, however, as stones lacked the ability to level hills or incinerate forests. This was their only weapon. He had never used one in the line of duty and now he was about to use it on unarmed children...

He twisted his arm in a jerk-like fashion.

Reactor Active

There was no going back now, he realized. As the rock stated its status, the children began to stir from their sleep.

Beep! Beep!

The weapon was now armed, as the two beeps confirmed. All that he had to do was fire and it would all be over... To his trepidation and horror, however, the children began to rise from their slumber. The brown fastbiter, who he would have to deduce was Littlefoot, rose and looked straight at him. His eyes seemed to stare deep into his soul. The eyes communicated a conflicting set of emotions.

Loss. Hope. Recognition.

Chronos almost wanted to weep. It was obvious that the children must have suffered through a lot during their transformation and everything that followed. And now here he was about to... about to...

Taking a shuddering breath, he realized that he had no choice. He had to do this otherwise the entire planet would be forfeit. With a heavy heart, he raised the weapon in the direction of the children and softly said.

"I am sorry, children."

And then he fired.


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