Thursday, 20 September 2018
The First Ones.
The First Ones.
The Mid Cretaceous.
Slat had set many traps in the past to help defend the commune from predatory visits of the large eaters. She had followed the trail right into the forest and well into the territory of the giant carnivores and their hunting grounds. The time had come again to try to dissuade the T Rex’s from invading their territory and picking off the iguanodon herd that they maintained. The huge carnivores were four times as large as a Deinonychus, but lacked their intelligence and also their other gift.
In the safety of the stronghold, others of her kind would wait anxiously for her return and had watched her disappearance into the forest, from the viewpoint behind the high stone wall. She was riding her personal iguanodon that she had raised from the egg. This always made them much easier to control and mentally dominated by the much smaller dinosaurs. They were the beasts of burden and source of meat when the herd got too numerous. The Deinonychus had domesticated these creatures thousands of years in the past and had bred out the desire to follow the migratory patterns that dominated the great herds that yearly followed the seasons down into Antarctica to enjoy the endless sunshine and growing season. These were in turn preyed upon by the T Rex’s family groups along with many other carnivores that either followed the herd or waited in ambush for the herds to pass.
The forest was densely populated by many different plants all striving to catch the sun and scattering their seeds and fruits from the new dying flowers. Many of them were new to the undergrowth and had recently evolved. Small creatures inhabited the higher reaches out of range of the great carnivores that lived on the ground. These huge beasts had trodden down the undergrowth and made trails from one hunting ground to another. Keeping these constantly flattened made for easy running at speeds that the plant eaters could not match when ambushed. Some way off a T-Rex family was on the hunt, making their way along the many game trails. They had caught the scent of the iguanodon and were making their way towards what they thought would be their next meal.
The scent that they were following was that of Slat and her thrall. To avoid the hunters taking in her scent, she had smeared her mount’s dung over her body. Should the carnivores catch her scent they would be uneasy and not so easily fooled. This was something that she had done many times before, as many a T Rex’s hunting group had learnt to give Slat’s people a wide berth. She needed the hunters to lock on to the scent of the iguanodon and think of nothing else.
In the vicinity of the trail, was a stand of bamboo that could be snapped off just above ground level. Making sure that the hunting party was still some way off, she entered the obedient mind of her much larger companion and directed her to the task before them. She then urged the iguanodon to dig a shallow pit while she gathered the ferns to cover it. It was not very deep, as the ground was too hard to dig down very far, but it was deep enough to do its main purpose and that was to hide the pointed stake from view. Some weeks before, she had found a good flint deposit and carried many of them back to the strong-hold. Before setting out on her mission she had worked many of the flints to a sharp pointed end. These she had placed into her carrying bag fitted to the harness of her mount, along with lengths of cured tendons and other tools. Her bag was made from a tanned skin, taken from a velociraptor, using the legs as straps without the clawed feet. These sharp claws she kept in a wrapped up piece of skin, tucked away in her toolbag.
She had a small, but good chance of killing at least one of the big predators, if it should step on the covering of ferns, the colossal weight of the beast would drive the stake deep into its foot, hopefully maiming it for life thus starving it to death. The stake was placed so that it would come away and remain in the foot of the killer. This was made from a short length of bamboo split at one end. This was where the sharp pointed flint was tapped into the upward-facing end and tied in place with the cured tendons. Should the beast manage to shed the stake, the flint would break off and remain inside the foot of the predator, causing the wound to fester. The ‘First Ones’ had learnt to soak the upper end of the weapon in old putrefying blood to assist the infection. There was enough of the stake buried in the ground to make sure that it was fixed upright.
The trail was well used and this had been Slat’s second pit that she had dug with the help of the iguanodon that she controlled. The Deinonychus raised her head and extended her legs, balancing back onto her tail and sniffed the air. The breeze had changed direction and she had smelt the odour of rotting flesh that flushed out the predator’s mouth with every breath it took. The hunters were closing in, but still out of sight.
As well as the pits, Slat had tied an ‘H’ frame just above her head to two stout trees and had mounted a sturdy spear lashed securely, making the centre of the ‘H’ project forwards with another of the flint spear heads, tied securely to the split end of the bamboo. Anything that came chasing along the trail would with luck, tread on the stake in the pit, pitch forwards and meet the spear just below its neck and just above the chest. There were other secondary stakes set in shallow pits further along the trail in case the first trap did not work.
Slat projected a feeling of calm to her almost mindless companion and took control of it before the T Rex family that had picked up their scent would come lumbering swiftly along the trail. She sent it back the way that they had come, making sure that the iguanodon did not tread on any of the other traps carefully set. It was time to go and she ducked underneath the ‘H’ frame and made her way behind her beast of burden. Pausing to urge the iguanodon to release a bladder full of urine she looked back along the trail.
“That should do the trick,” she thought and began to run and catch up her large companion.
The scent of the urine floated back to where the T Rex was casting her head from side to side, seeking the direction of the odour that flowed into her nostrils. She recognised the scent immediately and grunted to the male following close behind her, to pick up speed. He began to slaver as the scent of fresh urine filled the air and the closeness to the prey evoked his hunger pains. Confidant that there would be soon a fresh kill to gorge his teeth upon, he picked up speed completely unaware of the lethal traps laid in the game trail. Behind him came the three younglings that they had nurtured over several years following in the rear. They had grown to half his size and soon would be making their own way into the world. Until then they would hunt as a pack and share the kills. As they charged around the bend the scent of the iguanodon’s fresh urine filled their nostrils and spurred them to an even faster gait. Unaware of Slat’s traps they rushed towards the direction she had gone along the game trail.
Leaning forwards to keep her balance and building up for the charge she screamed in pain, as she dropped to one side. Her great left foot broke through the fronds layered over the hole. The stake drove deep into the T Rex’s foot in between the two claws and went upwards past the ankle. As she pulled the stake out of the ground and found that she unable to put any weight on the spike protruding from her foot, she toppled forwards putting all her weight on the one undamaged foot. The male cannoned into the back of his mate pushing her onwards and the three younglings crashed into him.
As Slat broke cover, they heard a scream of pain and rage as the T Rex ran into the trap. She wasted no time and hopped aboard the iguanodon and held firmly onto the harness. She then released the beast’s mind and allowed it to know what was following them. Terror almost gave her mount wings and it opened up a lengthy stride, heading up the hill towards the settlement.
There came a throaty bellow that abruptly cut off, when the T Rex began to drown on its own blood. In falling forwards, pushed from behind, the spear on the ‘H’ frame caused the beast to impale herself into her throat. There she hung for a few moments until her dying throes tore her off the structure, leaving the bloody spear still in place pointing back along the trail.
The other T Rex that was mated to the dying creature paused and watched the blood pouring from her wounds. He was unable to understand what had happened to his hunting companion, as there were no more predators in the vicinity to cause these wounds. Her three hungry young, circled around their father and stared down at their mother, unable to understand what had happened. The smell of so much blood proved to be too much and he began to feed on his still living mate, rapidly joined by his children.
Slat urged the iguanodon to an easier stride and resumed control, heading towards the settlement and proceeding to the pens where they were normally kept. The strong-holding had been built many centuries ago when the ‘First Ones’ had developed language and learned to co-operate with each other. Once the mutation had spread and their intelligence increased along with the mental skills of being able to command the vegetarian eaters, they had built a fortress on the hill. The iguanodons were the most useful of the many vegetarians due to their size and adaptability. They were easy to breed and made excellent meat. Using mind control the Deinonychus had coerced them to move large heavy stones into a circle making an area that the big meat eaters could not penetrate. Many large stones had been added to the original to make a high wall with small openings that the larger predators could not get through. There was running water that flowed down from the melt water from the mountain that gave the ‘First Ones’ all they needed to be safe from the T Rex’s and the other large predators that inhabited the lands.
Making sure that the beast had soon forgotten what it had been scared of, she gave it plenty of water and feed. Slat made her way towards the others of the community and was made welcome.
The other females clustered around her congratulating her on a useful kill.
“Well done, Slat, said the leader and added, “Soon the big eaters might just learn to leave us alone. After all we have killed enough of them over the years.”
“That’s true,” she replied, “but unfortunately although they are accomplished pack hunters, they lack the understanding to be scared off. At least behind these walls they cannot get at us, but the answer is constant vigilance and setting continual traps. That thins them out, but as I said, they learn nothing. Their size gives them arrogance and they do not know the meaning of fear.”
The First Ones.
Several weeks had gone buy and as always, predators filled the empty spaces left behind by Slat and her people’s persistent culling. A lone T’ Rex had taken to picking off and scattering the ‘broken’ iguanodons by breaking into the compound on the edge of the settlement and driving them out onto the slope leading up to the commune. This was an old one that could no longer attract a mate, so was forced to hunt alone. Not in keeping with his kind, this one was more intelligent than most and had worked out how to apply pressure to the outward facing spikes. He had realised that a sideways pressure on the stakes would weaken their settings and force them out of the ground. Once he was in, then it was an easy task to get between the herd and the commune and panic them into stampeding through the gap in the enclosure. Once a bottleneck had been achieved he could easily catch up and slaughter the nearest beast struggling to escape through the gap. He would then drag the carcass off into the forest and steadily feast on it over many days until all of the prey was digested.
This gave the members of the commune time to round up the scattered herd, repair the fence and go about their daily chores. It also gave Slat the time to plan of how to remove this costly nuisance that was thinning out their herd.
The T’ Rex had made himself a ‘den’ near the large river that flowed along making a natural barrier to the commune’s territory and hillside fort. The nest that he had made from the larger un-crunchable bones still made a soft bed to sleep on and the constant buzzing of the carrion flies never bothered him or the increasing piles of dung. Norch had spent his lifetime killing prey and the concept of fear never occurred to him except when fighting his own kind. Never-the-less he was aware that the group of his smaller relatives that he was stealing from, could cause him harm if they attacked in force with sufficient numbers. At a size of at least four times that of the velociraptors, he had little to fear from a small group attacking him, so he slept soundly on his nest of bones.
At the commune a killing council had been called after the last breach of the fence had taken place.
Slat perched at a higher level than the others as a position of rank and said, “The time has come for us to hunt down and remove this menace. I have been ‘linked’ to one of the Pterodactyls and have seen where our unwelcome visitor has settled in.”
She then transferred the location to the minds of the others in the hunting group. Each raptor now had a clear vision of the territory that the T’ Rex dominated and the surrounding countryside. Knowing the simplicity of the huge meat-eater’s mind, it made a little difference to the plan of attack that Slat had laid down. The huge predator’s means of attack was to rush its prey from ambush and bite down on the neck of whatever it was chasing taking a chunk out. This was what they were relying on to bring him down.
It still required a great deal of courage to bring down the killer and each one of them knew that if they followed the plan, then maybe all of them would come back to the commune. What they had to do was to edge the beast towards the bank of the river that swollen as it was with the seasonal rains, was flowing strongly enough to take the T’ Rex away and drown him.
To do this required the hunting party to make him mad with rage and uncertain where the next attack was coming from. This was where the stout bamboo lances tipped with heavy, pointed flint ends would come into play. The killer would not recognise the lances as weapons and that was the Deinonychus’s advantage. The much smaller dinosaurs had long ago discovered that with care, a very sharp edge could be worked on the weapon-stones. Of all the items gathered by the commune, these chunks of flint-bearing stones were the most valuable and prised above all else.
Those of the commune that had the ability to produce these spear-heads and other tools by knapping the flint were held in great respect and were highly ranked amongst the clan. Slat was one of these and bore her useful abilities to the commune with well-deserved pride. She was also gravid again, and was carrying an ovary full of eggs that would soon require a nest and a male to keep them turned, but this would take several more weeks before that stage was ready.
The hunting party each selected a lance with great care as the shaft of the lance had to be robust enough to drive the lance-head deep into the killer’s body. It would be very unlikely that they would get a second chance. Each of them also selected an axe and strapped it to their chest where it could be quickly taken out of its holster if needed. Without ceremony they all turned as one and began the long stride that would take them towards the killer’s den in the early dawn. It would take a full morning for them to reach the T’ Rex’s position and it would be sensible for them to rest for a while and survey the situation, before the attack.
By the time the sun had reached the high position over-head Slat and the rest of the hunting party had reached a position where they could scent the heap of bones that the T’ Rex was sleeping on. Once again Slat used her ability to ‘see’ through the eyes of a hovering pterodactyl that was passing over-head. She projected the picture to the other members of the hunt and pointed out the swollen river and the crumbling banks. Like all two legged upright dinosaurs, Norch could not swim, so once in that maelstrom he would definitely drown if they could only get him into the water.
Now the trap had to be set and four of the hunting party began the task of digging an angled hole so that the lances would point towards the sleeping T’ Rex with the heel of the lance resting at the back of the sloping hole. Brush was then pulled over the waiting hunters’ bodies to camouflage them. The other three would wake and torment the killer so that all that would dominate its mind would be to reach its persecutors and crunch their bones. Once they could initiate the chase they would lure him onto the lances that would rise up from the trail.
Slat led her two companions closer to the sleeping beast and took position directly in front of him with her back to the trail. The other two stationed one each side and waited for Slat’s signal.
Norch slept as all his kind did with his huge hind legs slightly splayed out with his tail pointing straight behind him with his head and chest flat along the ground. Slat was not much bigger than his head and pointed the lance towards the slobbering nose. There were few places that the T’ Rex was vulnerable as the hide was incredibly tough, but Slat knew them all. She leapt forwards, jammed the lance head into his nostril and pushed as hard as she could. She then danced out of the way of the abruptly wakened killer that pushed himself erect shaking his head to shake the lance loose. As he did so one of the other Raptors ducked under his tail and stabbed him into the tender area of his anus, pushing the lance head deep into that soft area. Norch bellowed in pain and swept his head round seeking his tormentors and caught the other assailant in his cavernous mouth and crunched once and spat him out. Slat buried her axe into the back foot and left it there. She and the survivor began to retreat back down the tail slow enough to keep the T’ Rex follow them, but not too slow! Now Norch began to pick up speed ignoring the pain from his injured foot and began to lean forwards for the killing bite as he chased them towards the waiting Deinonychus hidden under the brush. Slat and her companion ran through the gap between the hidden lances. Once past the ambush they both rolled over in the muddy trail to make their attacker think that they had stumbled. His mind full of nothing else but the killing lust that inflamed his thoughts, he did not and could not see the rising lances as a threat.
He ran full tilt into the middle upraised lance and with the weight of the T’ Rex behind it, the sharp flint lance head disappeared into his belly and Norch screamed in pain and staggered to the side, only to fall onto a second razor- tipped lance jammed securely against the angled hole. This went in under his ribs and the killer turned and lurched back along the trail leaving a trail of blood behind him. The lance holders that were still armed stabbed repeatedly at his back, driving him towards the river. It took two of the hunting party to carry the heavy lances, but it put a safe distance between the mortally wounded T’ Rex and them. His breath was now coming in ragged gasps and struggling to keep him going. Blinded with pain he did not see that he had become close to the river’s edge and his massive weight caused the bank to crumble.
Slat watched the killer sink out of sight with relief as he toppled into the swift current and was gone. Knowing that the area was now safe she sent a ‘calling’ to the trained iguanodons at the compound to come and pick them up. There was little reason to have to walk back to their settlement now that the way was predator free. She directed the hunting party to gather what weapons that they still had and wait for the carriers to reach them. Meanwhile there was still some of the T’ Rex’s latest kill covered in flies at his nest of bones. That would be something to keep hunger away for some time. It did not take them long to finish off whet the T’ Rex had left.
The body of the T’ Rex was carried downstream until it came to a lazy bend and was carried into the silt where after some time the bank collapsed and buried the dinosaur out of reach of hungry mouths. There it lay as the years flowed by until some eighty million years had passed and what was fertile plain became desert. The area was rich in fossils due to that ancient river burying many in that lazy bend in the river. Many teams of palaeontologists had dug there to find the fossilised prizes to be found. When the T’ Rex had been found it was obvious that a complete skeleton had been found. As they carefully uncovered him they found that something that took the world of palaeontology by storm. Norch had been buried along with two very heavy flint lance heads inside him. Even the bamboo had turned to stone, showing that they belonged with each other. Many declared that the finds were false and a fraud, but too many people had been at that dig when the artefacts were discovered inside the rib-cage of the T’ Rex. Each flint spear head needed two hands to lift them and it was obvious that they had not been knapped by human hands.
Human beings were forced to accept that some dinosaurs had developed intelligence long before humanity had ruled the Earth. They were indeed ‘The First Ones’ that had the gift of reason.