Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Dark side of the Drake 1.3

~~~Continued from~~~

232 AO, September 3rd

There is debate among palaeontologists about the function of the tall neural spines of the Spinosaurus. Some say that it was a sail used to regulate body temperature, others that it acted as a support structure for massive muscles along its side. Many of those who argued for the massive muscles pointed to the live specimens found in the wild and on Drako, but it had already been established that the living specimens were not related to the creatures which left behind fossils. Dragons had been observed laying eggs which later hatched into any number of living dinosaur, and though the origin of dragons was still hotly debated, it was clear from the fossil record that many if not all dinosaur species now living had been extinct for millions of years, therefore any resemblance to the extinct varieties was at best somehow reconstructed by the dragons and potentially a phenomenal coincidence. Therefore the muscular Spinosaurus below me didn't convince me that an ancient Spinosaurus actually had a thick musculature rather than a sail. However I really didn't have to concern myself with its authenticity, only with its reality.

I stopped ignoring the alert and allowed the tracker program to fill me in on what I might expect. This creature was more like a giant fish eating alligator. Spiney could violently swing his neck or tail from side to side fast enough to capture any creature that got close enough to his well camouflaged side. There was no way I would be able to sneak away without waking her, and then feeding her. I decided to simply wait until he woke up and left before I would even move. It would have worked, too, if I hadn't somehow attracted the attention of the flock of carnivorous pterosaurs circling above. It had until that moment been my belief that pterosaurs only ate fish.

I had to think quickly and come up with something. I couldn't. Mertabhai might have an idea. As if by cue, I heard the familiar comms static click and his voice, "Good morning, brother, how- uh oh."

"Yeah, 'uh oh'. Any ideas?" I whispered.

"How did you get into this deathtrap?" he asked. "Nevermind. Let me think."

He and I both remained in silent contemplation as the pterosaurs grew braver, circling lower, and I finished packing up the camp.

Mertabhai broke the silence, "I've got it..." He took a few moments and explained his plan to me.

"Merty, you're insane."

"Listen, kettle, you got any other bright ideas?"


I set to work as fast as I could. I took off my visor and adjusted the eyepiece to its widest setting, then seeing that it wasn't wide enough I removed a screw from between the lenses and created an oversize nose rest with a stick from the tree. I carefully lowered the makeshift dino-sized visor with 3 thin ropes like a marionette onto Spiney's sleeping face. Then I programmed my gun to shoot a numbing dart that would deaden the sense of touch without interfering with motor control, and fired into the muscles above its hind legs. Miraculously Spiney didn't wake. Finally I lowered myself onto the numbed section, and secured myself to his skin* with my gloves and thigh armour. gingerly tossed a stick onto Spiney's snout.

As the beast shifted its weight, I became exceedingly grateful that I didn't need to hold on by my own strength. The pterosaurs chose this time (to their misfortune), to dive at me. I don't know if they simply didn't notice Spiney, or if they hoped not to wake her. In either case, the first would-be attacker found itself snatched out of the air by the long toothy narrow jaws of my new pet.

It wasn't part of the plan for Spiney to get his meal this early, though, so the visor tricked her into snapping at a phantom pterosaur, thus dropping the bloodied attacker. The pterosaurs decided that my meager flesh wasn't worth the effort, and circled high above without diving, while their companion lay mutilated on the ground. Before Spiney could go back for the injured pterosaur, I caused the visor to hide it and also show her a limping Iguanadon just out of reach to the East. The easy prey was irresistible, and she started after it immediately. Of course, she didn't catch it.

Spinosaurs are not particularly graceful over land. Their gait is awkward. They move their opposing legs in synchronization, which was remarkably unimportant to me, until I was directly affected by the nauseating undulations of Spiney's back. Nevertheless they are remarkably fast even so. I found that I could push her to run for about 2 hours at a time, coaxing and prodding her with food and aggressive male Spinosaurs. Then she would have to rest for about half an hour. On average I was making about 16-20 km per hour. When I had woken up in that tree, I had over 360 km left to travel. I drove her farther than she would ever have naturally gone. When the images stopped being enough, I began injecting adrenaline into her system through my gloves. By the time Spiney passed out from exhaustion I had reached the foot of the mountain.

It was well into the morning, and I was starving and exhausted as well. I detached from her back and stretched my sore muscles. When I felt limber enough, I sauntered up to her throat, and lazily sliced it open. She was far too spent to fight. I was in the mood for meat, and as it happened, I had a great supply right there. I took a slice from her tail, cooked it and enjoyed it.

When my belly was full I wandered far from the carcass which had already been discovered by a few small scavengers, and I found another tree to sleep in. This time I was careful to check the tracker app to avoid wildlife. Tomorrow I would track a wizard.

*Exoarmour was equipped with an electrically programmable nano surface which could be altered to fulfil a variety of functions.