The Eighth Hunter

Chapter 3: Revelations

Chapter 3: Revelations

"Revelations help us accept the things we need the most, expose the secrets we so desperately try to hide and illuminate the dangers all around us. But more than anything, revelations are windows into our true selves... of the good and the evil and those wavering somewhere in between. But they have the ultimate power to destroy all that we cherish most." - Emily Thorne

For anything other than a carnivore, or at the very least an omnivorous hunter, the scene would have been utter horror. The material nightmares were made of. But for the three fastbiters and the sharptooth flyer, it was a feast.

Littlefoot, Ruby and Petrie had only been eating their shares to give Specter some company while he was having his meal after his successful first hunt. They thought it would help him in overcoming the possible trepidations he might have in ripping apart his prey, gorging himself on its flesh, sinews and blood. They soon found out this was unnecessary.

Specter's first bite into the longneck's flesh had been slow and careful. Eating raw flesh from a corpse could've been potentially fatal, if he still were a human. But he wasn't. Although he was slowly making peace with what he was now and knew what would await him from the start, this new way of life his change had brought with it still confused him a little bit from time to time.

After trying to chew the big chunk of meat in his mouth a few times, which was obviously not possible because he simply wasn't able to chew anymore, and letting the taste of blood greet his senses, he found that he had never eaten something as delicious as this.

It was only at this time that he actually noticed how hungry he was. He had been so stressed over the last day that he almost completely dismissed his new longing for fresh meat and blood.

Piece by piece, he ripped the longneck apart, only leaving half of its flesh, the bones and some innards untouched. He even took a few bites out of the threehorn, although he picked the spots with great care as he didn't want to swallow the mud that was still on its body. After some time, he finally concluded his meal.

"Gee, you really were hungry, huh, big guy?" Came Littlefoot's comment from behind him.

"Yeah. Well I haven't eaten anything since I woke up in this place."

He had to admit, he really never felt any better in his life. It had been one thing stuffing his stomach whenever he wanted to, just by going to the fridge. But eating his prey after a fight to death was something else entirely. It was the first time in his life he had been truly sated by his meal, he deduced.

Despite this, however, he again felt a little bit of concern. As a healthy human, he could have easily survived for several weeks without food. Him being a massive Utahraptor now, on the other hand...

"Well I'm glad you enjoyed it. Let's head back to the rest now, shall we? You can finally tell us more about you. I'm looking forward to hearing more about you!" Ruby then said.

"So do I."

"Me too!"

Specter looked at everyone for a bit. The time to tell the pack about his complicated past life was almost there but with a full stomach and some time spent in his new life already, he was looking forward to it by now.

"You're in for a long night then, but don't you dare calling me crazy by the end of it!"

"Me don't think you will have to wait for end of night for that to happen."

Specter was taken aback slightly by Petrie's words.

"What do you mean?"

"What Spotter means is that anyone would call you crazy after what you did to end this fight. I'm sure I would if I had seen it. If I had seen it, even I would!"

He now gave Ruby an asking look. What were they talking about? He had done what he had to do to save the two fastbiters, even though he still couldn't quite understand how he was able to pull off a move like that. How did they even know about this? Both Ruby and Littlefoot had been unconscious after the threehorn's attack. He just wanted to ask the inevitable question when his eyes switched over to Petrie.

Ugh... Of course! His kind has eyes good enough to spot a single rat from a hundred meters up in the sky. He must have seen everything and told them about it.

But Ruby wanted to press the point a little bit further.

"It is not something you see every day, Specter. No normal fastbiter would do that! Closing your eyes when a threehorn charges at you! And the move you did afterwards? With your pointed stick? Spotter told us he had never seen anything like this. And neither did Seeker or me. Neither Seeker or me have ever seen anything like this!"

Now that he thought about it, it truly must have been strange seeing him in action like that on his very first hunt. Killing his very first living beings. And that counted for both his old and new life.

"But I'm no normal sharptooth, am I?" He responded with a slight smile.

That comment made everyone loosen up and laugh in unison, for several reasons.

"No, you're certainly not." Ruby concluded.

"Can we go then? I think we all need some rest after everything that's happened today. And besides, someone has to sing about his first successful hunt as well." Littlefoot then finished, smiling widely at Specter.

He looked at Littlefoot as if he had become a ghost.

Truth be told, he was what one would call a 'musician' in his past life, and that included some singing as well. Whenever his deep, slightly off and pretty raspy voice fitted the song, of course. But he admittedly wasn't a good singer. A terrible one, actually. Besides, singing required exposing himself willingly. Not a prospect he was particularly looking forward to, especially since he still heard the pack's children's laughter ringing inside his ears that had erupted after he had told everyone he didn't know how to hunt.

Bah, who cares? It's not like someone could post it on the internet anymore. This thought made him relax a little again.

"Alright, fine by me. But don't complain if I can't hit a tune. Where I come from, you don't exactly sing by roaring and screeching into the night."

"How did you do it then?" Littlefoot asked.

"That's kinda hard to explain when I can't even think of, or speak out, my own old name, don't you think?"

He received understanding nods in return.

Littlefoot had found it highly suspicious that he wouldn't get Specter's name out of him on the first night. His real name from before his change. Normally, this was only something someone would do when that someone had terrible intentions or a horrifying past to hide and didn't want to be recognized at any cost. But after hearing that Specter must have indeed used entirely different methods of communication in his former life, he began to understand why he was so straightforward about not knowing his own name.

"Alright, we've been here long enough. I think we should really head home now."

"I agree, dear. Let's go."

Upon Ruby's affirmation, the four hunters headed back to the rest of the pack, leaving the only evidence of their former presence in the dust of their sprint.

The cadavers of Alamo and Crusher, the last children of their respective herds.

The whole pack was in a state of nervousness and anxiety. They had expected the newcomer's hunt to be done with by nightfall but the Night Circle was already high up in the sky. Something must have gone terribly wrong. And there was really only one suspect. Nobody had fully trusted the tall black fastbiter just yet. He could have been just another Calin, for all they knew. Cera was already expecting Littlefoot's tendency in lending a helping claw to strangers to have finally killed him, together with Ruby. Her thoughts and concerns were mostly shared by the rest of the adults. But if that really had been the case, where was Petrie? Surely Specter wouldn't have been able to kill him, too. But what if he had sharptooth flyer minions? Red Claw had Sierra and Rinkus, and many more.

Only a light green fastbiter seemed unaffected by all this.

"Oh, I'm sure they are alright! I do! I do!"

"And what makes you so sure of that, Haven?" Cera's question had noticeable amounts of anger and concern alike. "How do you know that stranger hasn't betrayed us and killed them?"

Ducky didn't respond to that. She has always been the source of joy and hope. Ever since Littlefoot had found her after his mother died so many cold times ago, her positive words always lifted the mood of everyone. But even she knew that sometimes, you couldn't make a situation look better than it actually was. And it seemed like this was one of these times.

That was when she noticed movement in the distance.

At first she couldn't see exactly who, or what it was. But after a few more moments, and after the clouds moved aside and granted the moonlight to illuminate the four predators, she knew that she had been right after all.

"There they are! I see them! They're all alright! Yep! Yep! Yep!"

Shouts of excitement could be heard all around.

"What is going on down there?" Littlefoot asked in surprise after hearing the yells of his pack.

"I guess they had expected me to have killed all of you." Specter responded dryly, slightly in jest but still somewhat honestly.

"What? Don't be silly! They would never do that! Why would you think so?"

Littlefoot felt a bit insulted. He wouldn't just head out on a well-planned hunt and die, but he didn't quite get the point Specter was trying to make just yet.

Specter laughed slightly before elaborating.

"You're really asking me that? Let's see... If I were to be one of them and my leader had wandered off to a hunt, only his mate as direct support, together with a big 'sharptooth' nobody knows yet and..."

"Alright, alright... I get the message."

"Just... take it as a compliment, I guess. They care a lot about you, it seems."

"I know. Come on now, I'm sure they will be eager to hear about your accomplishments."

"I can't wait..." Specter paused shortly, turning his head around to look at the package he had been carrying on his back all the time. "...for you to finally move on your own again. Come on, Spotter! You've rested enough at my expenses. You're not a youngling anymore and it's not like you're a lightweight, either..."

He had allowed Petrie to perch on his back for the trip back. There was room enough even for an adult Ceradactylus, and the flyer had been in the air for the better part of the day and was pretty exhausted. But Specter knew he would eventually take advantage of his pity and let him carry him into his nest as well if he would not intervene soon.

"But it soooo comfy back here!"

The mock bite following that statement made the flyer quickly take to the air again.

Ruby and Littlefoot both laughed at this display. It felt like Specter was already an earnest member of their pack. And that for a long time. Littlefoot knew exactly what to do. He and Ruby nuzzled each other as they approached their friends.

The returning predators were almost buried under claws, wings and feathers of all colors and sizes. Chants of welcome and relief could be heard all around the place.

Only after everyone had settled down a bit, Specter could see all eyes staring at him again. The adults with surprised expressions, while the children's eyes were wide open in fear. Just like on the first night. Only now it had a different reason. Their scents were different as well, he noticed.

His muzzle and black feathers were still almost completely covered in blood. The moonlight and shading made him look like a monster straight out of a nightmare. Even Chomper, who had only just arrived on the scene, looked uneasy at his sight.

Ruby noted to herself that when she had her first sleep story about the 'Hidden Runner', before she had found out the hidden runners were actually very nice and looked completely different than what the stories had made her think, it looked a lot like this.

This didn't go unnoticed by Specter, of course. He had completely dismissed how ghastly he must have looked like until he saw, and smelled, the children's fear. He took a quick sniff of air before nodding at Littlefoot, who returned the gesture. After that, he sprinted off into the darkness to the nearest watering hole.

One pair of eyes, however, had been looking at him since his arrival with an expression of deep sorrow. Shortly afterwards, the light green fastbiter snuck away from the rest and followed his scent into the darkness.

It didn't take Specter long to find what he was looking for. He was standing in front of a wide strip of fresh water, its current ever so gently carrying some leaves with it. He wasted no time in wading into the cool liquid and submerging his whole body in it. As he was washing away the dried blood on his feathers, he allowed himself to float a little bit on the water. He noticed that it has become a lot easier for him to stay on the surface. Moving around in the water still felt awkward, but he found that it would be enough, should he ever be forced to swim.

"You love the water, too?"

He swung his head around. He had completely ignored his surroundings and was surprised to see the light green fastbiter standing there all of a sudden.

"Haven!" He exclaimed in his surprise before taking a small pause. "Well, I wouldn't say that I love it... But it's refreshing. So yeah, I definitely like it. The feeling of water around your body never changes, no matter who or whatever you are."

Ducky smiled at this. For her, water has always been a big part of her life. That didn't change when she became a fastbiter.

Specter looked around himself and decided that he would be clean enough so he quickly left the cool water, gave his body a few determined shakes and turned to face Ducky again.

"Why are you here?"

"You were looking so sad back there. You did! You did! So I decided to see if you're alright."

Specter smiled at that. He found that if this was how she always acted, then Ducky's warm words and unique form of speaking could even bring light into the darkest of situations.

"I guess nobody yet talked about what happened on the hunt, huh?"

Ducky shook her head.

"But everyone is looking forward to hearing you sing about this! They are! They are! But there must be something else, right?"

Specter nodded in return. It would take a lot of explaining and he would let his song do the main part of it, but he wanted Ducky to know.

"I'll give you the short version. The longneck had a threehorn friend with him."

Ducky looked at Specter in shock. Not because she wondered how that little detail could've possibly eluded Petrie on his two spotting flights but rather because she was putting the pieces together in her mind. Until recently, Specter had been covered in blood while Littlefoot, Ruby and Petrie only had slight stains around their mouths. Worse even, Littlefoot seemed to be injured a little bit while Ruby had this very unique scent radiating from her. It was the same scent back when everyone thought Littlefoot had died after Calin slashed his throat. But that must have meant...

Specter wasn't finished yet, however.

"We took down the longneck together... but then his friend showed up. He just... knocked Seeker and Ponder out with one attack. He was going to kill them! I had to do something! I... threatened his friend but that horn-faced asshole just wouldn't react! And then... he just stomped down where Seeker was. I couldn't see his body... I thought he had killed him so I just... I... snapped. I lost control... I killed the longneck and the threehorn as well. I can't even quite remember how I did it. It all happened so fast! I..."

He was cut off by Ducky's embrace.

It was a strange sight. The light green fastbiter, like all the other adult fastbiters of the pack, looked like an adolescent compared to Specter's tall form. She was only hugging a part of his flank but it still made him calm down noticeably. He had pushed all feelings aside after what he did. It was only now that he realized just how upset he really was about his first two kills, about having been forced to act like he had.

He had been forced to take two lives to prevent two other lives from being taken. But he felt no remorse. He knew that he had to do it. Or he would've lost his mentor and then probably died himself. There had been no other option.

And Ducky knew this. Not a day went by where she didn't remember her first killing blow. The mother flyer she had ripped to shreds. She had saved Petrie's life, no doubt, but there was a huge difference in being prepared to kill, taking another one's life willingly, and being forced to do so.

Both of the fastbiters standing here had been forced to do the latter. Specter even twice in the same confrontation.

He felt a lot better after opening himself up a little bit to her, but he still felt kinda awkward in Ducky's continuing embrace. She was mated to this blue raptor called Leap, after all. So he decided it would be best to just head back now.

He lowered his head and gave her a slight nuzzle, gently nudging her away from his side.

"Thanks. I really appreciate it. Come on, we should really go back now. I don't want the others to think I'm responsible for your absence as well."

Ducky nodded in return, and Specter noticed her scents of happiness and relief with a smile, right before they both sprinted off into the darkness again.

"Oh, and while we're on our way... maybe you could tell me a little bit about how you sing a song around here."

All eyes were firmly planted on him. He was shifting uneasily, feeling the pressure of their looks on him, thinking about what was expected of him to do right now. Even Chomper was eager to hear his song. Everyone was. He remembered Ducky's words on how to properly sing a song but he still couldn't fully understand the concept.

Doesn't matter, I should just go for it and see what happens. Here goes nothing... He thought to himself, as he raised his voice.

Never have I taken a life before, but my time had eventually come

Seeker told me what to do, he prepared me for what needed to be done

To take another one's life, leaving its flesh for me to eat

The longneck came closer, not knowing that to me, he would be nothing but a treat

We surprised our prey, I struck him down, expecting him to feed me swell

Nobody knew, however, that he still had a friend with him as well

The threehorn came charging in, twice had he eluded Spotter's careful eyes

He attacked my two friends to kill them, his gaze was cold as ice

I stood there in silence, not knowing what I could do

Then a voice from inside told me, that was when I knew

But it was too late, the threehorn had struck both biters down

And he went ahead, to kill the one colored in brown

I charged into the clearing, I let the shadows hide my black cloak

With horror in the longneck's eyes, I grasped onto his throat

He screamed for his life, which I was about to take away

But to my shock, it was not enough to keep the threehorn at bay

He moved closer to my leader, he raised his foot high

I was lost, seeing how this was Seeker's goodbye

So I ripped through his flesh, made him scream again into the night

And yet the threehorn stomped down, only then he turned around to the longneck's sight

We both made up our minds, one last breath I did swallow

I ripped apart the longneck's throat, and now the threehorn's heart should follow

I rose to my feet, the threehorn's charge left the trees in a sway

It was him and me now, only I was left standing in his way

I picked up my weapon, closed my eyes, and left the stick upright in his path

He had no time to react, my eyes open again, only the weapon a reminder of my wrath

He impaled his throat with it, and facing his dead friend he fell

Thus ends the story of the two friends, the longneck's, and the threehorn's as well

The silence was deafening. It was as if everyone had suddenly stopped breathing. Specter grew increasingly nervous at his surroundings. He sat back down on his haunches as he expected a reaction by now. But none came.

Did... I say something wrong? Sure, I... I didn't include this special chorus part Haven told me about but... but I mostly did what she told me to do. Describing the hunt.

In what felt like an eternity to him, nobody seemed to move a muscle.

Even Littlefoot and Ruby were staring at him in disbelief. Petrie had told them what he had observed from above, but to be hearing it from Specter himself was completely different. They had seen the story through his eyes now. His feelings. His pain and despair. But also a new side of him.

A killer. A cold, calculating Chooser of the Dead.

Finally, movement came back into the pack. Two little fuzzballs, a brown and reddish one, walked up to Specter. Biter and Swipe. They were immediately followed by all the other younglings and the adults as well. Within seconds, he was surrounded by a sea of claws, and feathers and scales of many different colors.

He gulped audibly. The silence really crept him out. This was already the second time in not even 24 hours that he truly feared for his life, the first time being when he had just met Littlefoot.

Biter and Swipe proceeded a few steps further before finally coming to a halt. They both looked at their parents first, who gave them affirmative nods, then they looked up at the massive predator in front of them and both spoke in unison.

"Th... Thank you!"

Their sign of gratitude was soon followed by the chants of all the other younglings.

"That was awesome!"

"Can we hear the part again where you killed that threehorn? Please!"

"Daddy always told us that there is no way in surviving an adult threehorn without help!"


"Is it true? That you even closed your eyes?"


"You saved Seeker and Ponder!"

"How did you do that?!"

Specter was overwhelmed with relief. But he didn't want all this praise. Admittedly, the whole fight sounded way better in his song than it had been in reality.

"Please, children! I was lucky. Nothing more. One mistake and your parents and I could all have died there. I just hope I will never have to fight an angry horn-face again."

He could've sworn seeing Cera flash a wide smirk of satisfaction for a few seconds. But she decided not to make a comment. Taunt on the other hand would not go easy on him just yet.

"For your own sake, I hope so as well. It can't have been anything other than luck when a few ankle-biter fuzzballs scare you this much."

Everyone had noticed the scent of fear from Specter, of course. His comment earned Taunt an especially angry look from Ruby, but Specter had just the reply for that.

He smirked at Taunt and gave him an imitation of that gesture humans knew as 'the middle finger' with his forelimb. Taunt was taken aback by this. He didn't know how to respond to that anymore. He had never seen this gesture but he just knew it was an insult. Just like...

He smirked back and gave Specter his own insulting signature gesture with the sickle claw on his foot.

Everyone had to laugh at their antics, but there was still another point on the agenda. It was Littlefoot who raised his voice next, after most of the laughter had calmed down.

"I would also like to announce that as of today, we have a new member in our pack."

Everyone looked at Specter again, but he didn't quite get the hint just yet.

"Really? Who is it? Isn't everyone here already a member of your pack?"

"That's right. Everyone except you." Littlefoot gave his smiling response.

"Me?" He needed a few more seconds to grasp the magnitude of that offer. Littlefoot had basically just offered him a place to stay, even though he knew him only for a day. "Are... you sure? I mean... I don't have any experience yet and... don't I need to bring you an offering first and ask for permission? And then pass a challenge or something? You would take me in just like that?"

"Under normal circumstances, yes. But I consider the threehorn you saved me and Ponder from both of that. Or are there any objections?" He carefully looked at every single one of the assembled packmembers. Nobody raised a voice, so he continued. "So yes, just like that. Do you accept?"

Specter hesitated for another moment, but finally made up his mind.

"I do. And thanks... for everything. I will never be able to repay this..."

"Don't mention it. I'm sure I'm speaking for everyone here when I say that it's the least we can do for you. Now that that's finished, I'm also sure the others would like to hear some more about you."

Specter looked around, seeing nods of excitement among the children. Even the adults were joining them in that gesture.

"It would be my pleasure. But as I've told you before, you will be in for a long night." He then concluded with a smile.

The pack was once again gathered around him, only this time a bit more organized. The children were all with their respective parents and everyone was sitting or lying in a relaxed manner. When he felt like he had everyone's attention, Specter began his question and answer session.

"So, I think it would be best if you guys would ask me some questions instead of me just telling you random stuff about me. That way I can better think about exactly what I can tell you and what not."

"Why would you tell us only some things and some other things not? We want to hear everything!" Ambush interrupted.

"Yeah! Why not?" Pouncer joined his sister with her exclamation, right before both of them received a light slap from Cera's tail.

Specter chuckled slightly at that display of discipline before he continued.

"Because there are some things which are very complicated. Things that are dangerous, even. Some things that are best not to be mentioned. Believe me, I would love to tell you everything. But I can't. Not yet... I'm just too uncertain about a lot of things... I'm sorry."

"It's ok, just tell us what you feel comfortable telling about." Ruby then said. "Maybe we should start with the simple things? Because it is always good to start with the simple things!"

Upon Specter's happy nod, Cera spoke up.

"Ok, here are some easy ones. What were you before? What did you look like? What did you eat?"

"Well, my former kind are called 'humans'. They walk on two legs, but not exactly how everyone here does. Uhm... Imagine a fastbiter, but with a very short neck. Now imagine he doesn't have a tail and his body is upright. And while he only walks on his hind legs, his arms are pretty long but they don't have claws and five fingers instead of three. Oh and also, no feathers of course."

The gathered sharpteeth all looked at one another for a few seconds, right before massive laughter broke out for a moment as they all imagined this bizarre creature.

Man... this is way harder than I thought it would be. If only I could draw them a picture... No! If anything, not yet.

Specter couldn't help but laugh himself. Now that he thought about drawing them a sketch of a human, imagining his former appearance, his description seemed even more unfitting.

In the midst of the laughter, one little voice spoke up.

"But... if humans don't have a tail, then how can they walk? And what are feathers?"

He waited patiently until everyone had calmed down before raising his voice again.

"Very good question, Aqua! Hmm... How about all of you grab onto your backs for a bit? What do you feel?"

The pack gave him an asking look first, but they did as Specter pleased. Only Chomper was utterly helpless. He just couldn't reach his own back with his short arms. Specter smiled and waved him off. He wouldn't need to break his limbs to get the point, eventually.

The little light blue fastbiter spoke up again.

"I can feel these things that are attached to me... and I can feel my bones. But what has that to do with how humans walk?"

"Yes... but you're not just feeling any bones. These 'things that are attached to you' are called feathers by the way. But that is not the important thing. What you're feeling, the bones that run along your back and into your tail, is called your 'spine'. Or 'backbone' in simpler terms. And that's the secret. The backbone in a human's body has a very special shape. It's... kinda curvy, so it can carry the human's weight and that of his head when he is standing upright. Here, take a look at this..." He made use of his claws and scratched three little geometrical shapes into the ground. He figured that this was as far as he could go, but it would serve him well in explaining. "A human's head is the upper circle, his body the middle part, and where his feet would be is represented by the lower circle."

The pack was amazed by this very simple form of imagery and geometry. They quickly understood where a human's head, body and feet would be, even without a tail.

"Now, when your body looks like this, when you are walking upright, then you don't need a tail anymore." He took a small pause to take a look at the pack. They were still very much interested in what he had to say. This made him feel happy inside. Explaining things has never been his strong suit, after all. After a while, he continued. "But that only works because humans are not very big or heavy. I was considered quite tall, much taller than most of my friends were, and that means about as tall as an adult fastbiter more or less. Adult fastbiters like you guys, of course. However, I was much lighter than all of you. I would have never been able to live inside my own house if I would've been as big and heavy as I am now."

Breeze laughed slightly.

"You explain one thing, only to mention two more things you will have to explain later on."

Spike supported his mate with an affirmative grunt, and so did some of the other fastbiters.

Specter rolled his eyes. He would probably never get used to speaking like everyone else does.

"I'm sorry... A 'house' is the place where humans live, eat and sleep. Imagine it as a nice, warm cave with some light."

The nods he received encouraged him to finally move on to the next question.

"Now to our food... Humans are omnivores. Uhm... half-teeth. They can pretty much eat anything."

Spike's and Breeze's children took particular interest in that revelation.

"Awesome! They can eat treestars and meat as well! But how do they kill the leaf-eaters then? You said humans are small and have no claws! How do they hunt?" Nibble exclaimed.

Specter sighed. This was one of the questions that he would have to answer with extreme care. Telling the pack outright that in his time there wouldn't be anymore 'leaf-eaters' or 'sharpteeth', that every single dinosaur was dead for millions of years, was not an option. But as he had already mentioned a cave, he figured it would be best to explain the human diet mostly based on humans who had actually lived in those. It would also spare him from overcomplicating things. For example, how would he explain the disgusting conditions of animals held in factory farming, or that modern hunters could've potentially used high-caliber rifles which could even blow a Tyrannosaurus' brains out, he asked himself.

"That's not... entirely correct. Humans can't eat 'treestars'. I mean... sure, they can eat them without vomiting, but they taste horrible and won't make their stomachs full. So they mostly rely on meat. At least I did. But still, I needed to eat a lot of green food, too. It's what you call 'balanced nutrition'. To be honest, if you take away the green food, humans are actually a lot like fastbiters. They hunt and live in packs, for a start. However, they only have a few 'sharp' teeth in their mouths, if you can even call them sharp, and their other teeth are all flat. So they would plan a hunt and the males would go out and kill stuff by using what you know as... uhm... 'pointed sticks'. Yes, and then the other members of the pack, sometimes the females and elders as well, would go out and get some berries and grapes... uhm... 'sweet bubbles', for example."

"Why would they not let their females hunt?" Came the slightly annoyed and actually highly aggressive question from Cera. The other females of the pack nodded noticeably.

"Well... it's not like the males wouldn't let the females hunt because they are females. But you have to understand that human females are weaker than males. Most of the time, a male human is bigger, faster, stronger and more intelligent than a female. It's just how it is. The males do the hunting, the dangerous stuff, while the females care for the children and maybe sometimes go out to collect some berries. Females are not made for anything else."

She reluctantly accepted that response, but not without letting out an audible "Hmpf!"

I'm sure glad feminism won't be a thing for the next 60 million years. Specter thought to himself.

"But that is so unfair! It is! It is! Females are not weaker than males! No, no, no!"

Ducky's sudden outcry shook him out of his thoughts. This came truly unexpected. He was shocked by the anger her voice carried. Her scents, too, were dominated by that emotion. But there was also curiosity and confusion in them. Specter knew that human society must've seemed everything but sophisticated to those primeval predators. The irony in this was ridiculous.

"The world is not fair, Haven." He then started again. "We all have our place on this earth. Have you ever thought about how some 'flyers' behave? I don't know how good you're on terms with 'leaf-eater flyers' but... If you know a flyer like that, am I right in assuming that he or she has never met his or her father?"

He received surprised nods in return, sad ones from the flyer family. Especially Petrie looked anything but happy after being confronted with that. And seeing how his mate gave him a comforting nuzzle and his children moved closer to their father, Specter could only draw the most logical conclusion.

Really? You? You've never met your father, Spotter? But you're a carnivore... Unless... So you're one of the changed ones as well, huh? He quickly noted to himself, feeling deep regret about having even brought this up. But he wanted to get his point across, so he continued.

"See? It's because that flyer's mother left her mate to care for her children alone, such as it is normal for their kind. Do you think that's fair? I think it isn't, but it is how it is. Same goes for humans. Nobody decides that females can't do the hunting. And yes, females are of course not weaker or less intelligent than males in absolutely everything. It's just that males and females have different roles, there are things only a female can do, while there are others only a male can do. Nobody wants to insult a female, but at the same time, nobody would want to unnecessarily risk a female's life in a hunt because she can't run as fast as a male, or has as much endurance or strength. Or would you send some of your children to their deaths, knowing that some of them are born weaker than the others of the opposite gender?"

His last sentence struck Ducky like a pointed stick to her heart. Of course she had always thought about Petrie's father and why he would leave his son and other children behind. But upon Specter mentioning her own children, she just looked down at the ground. She would need some time to digest all this. After a while, she looked up at him again and gave him an understanding nod.

"Alright, I think that is a pretty good description of my former kind. They are a lot like fastbiters but lack the claws, and of course look completely different. No feathers and all. That's the payoff for what's inside their heads."

Almost in unison, loud exclamations of "Huh?" echoed through the pack.

Specter tapped on his own head with one of his claws three times.

"Their minds. For his size, a human has the largest brain of any creature that ever lived. Humans are the smartest creatures ever."

Immediately after saying this, Cera was about to interrupt again, but he would have none of it. He definitely wanted to get this point across. Why exactly we wanted to do that, he didn't really know himself. Maybe it was just his slightly negative view on his very own past species, he figured.

"But they are also the most dangerous ones."

The pack was once again wrapped in complete silence.

"You see, humans lack a lot of the tools you sharpteeth have. They don't have eyes that can see in the dark, they're nowhere near as fast as a fastbiter, and their bodies are weak and fragile compared to everything else. They also can't smell feelings, or if somebody is telling the truth or a lie. Humans rely on the sound and structure of words and gestures and what they believe in. But that..." He looked Littlefoot directly in the eye now. "...can be twisted. It can be adjusted. It can be corrupted. A lie can be corrupted into the truth and the truth can be corrupted into a lie, to the point where there is no true or false anymore. That is the point at which you just have to listen to your own heart to find the truth. Seeker, you wanted an answer on what I did on this morning and how I did it. This is it. That's unfortunately all I can and will tell you. For your own good and safety. I don't know why I've even brought it up in the first place but yeah... Anyway, I've told you too much already."

Several moments of silence went by until Specter decided to finish what he had started.

"Do you understand now why my presence here is a problem? Why I would like to talk to those 'rainbowfaces'? They are probably the only ones that could possibly understand and explain all this to me. I should not be here. I've heard that some of you have been turned into what you are now, just like me, and maybe that should never have happened, either. But you had a chance to adapt. And that's because you still belong in this place. You always did. I, however, should not even be here right now, no matter if I was a 'sharptooth' or a 'flattooth' or whatever else. I shouldn't be a dinosaur. I can cause great trouble if I accidentally reveal secrets nobody should know about. And the longer I stay here, the more likely that will become."

The pack was stunned, but Littlefoot kept his composure. He had already guessed something like this, though it was hard for him to explain why. He just felt like those Stones were always connected with the rainbowfaces. After all, he knew them better than everyone else in his pack.

But that was something he wanted to avoid discussing openly.

"I understand. Alright everyone, I think we have burdened Specter quite enough for today. Let's all go to sleep for now. We can talk more tomorrow, if we really have to."

The two fastbiters eyed one another for a few moments before they almost simultaneously gave each other a friendly and understanding nod. The rest of the pack needed a bit more time to digest everything that had been said but in the end, they all agreed unanimously on their leader's word.

They gathered in their sleeping spaces and Specter rested himself among them. This was now his pack, too, after all. He didn't find sleep soon, however. Opening himself up like he had caused great relief on the one hand, but on the other hand it brought just as much concern and uncertainty with it.

Yes, the pack was now informed of everything. And yes, Littlefoot had accepted his rough explanation and his need to keep his secrets safe for now. But that still didn't make him feel comfortable. That was all he could've hoped for at this point, however. And that was at least a start.

With these thoughts he slowly drifted off into an uneasy sleep.

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