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DarkWolf91

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Life Went On
« on: February 16, 2018, 01:27:42 AM »
My response for January's prompt, to include the "he wanted to be the leader of a herd..." line. Kind of awkwardly paced and exposition-heavy, but ah well. I always thought it was weird how apathetic Bron seemed about everything in LBT 10, so I kind of wanted to delve into his mindset a little. There is a little bit of gore/violence in this, but not too much.

Fanfiction.net link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12838985/1/Life-Went-On


---------------

It was all wrong. Everything was wrong. His nest, his mate and her parents, the children that must have been born, all gone. Bron hadn't eaten in days, as he frantically tried to navigate the newly formed wasteland. His voice was hoarse from calling out for them, and asking every passerby he saw if they had seen them. A few confused sightings, nothing definite, but he just knew he was going the right way. He had to be.

It was a dusty orange sunset, the heat of a long day still baking thoroughly into the clay of the earth, when he spotted a small herd of clubtails, moving away from the bright circle across the wastes.

"Hey! Hello there!"

The herd started, each member eyeing him with wary apprehension.

"Please! I'm looking for my mate and children. They would have been traveling with two old ones..."

The clubtails shuffled away from him, throwing him suspicious backward glances as they went. An older female lagged behind the others, turned to face him. She glanced back at her retreating companions and, slowly, began to speak.

"The two old ones, they headed toward the bright circle. They believed that they could find the Great Valley. Your mate..." The clubtail lowered her eyes, and let a few moments pass.

"I'm sorry. She died fighting the Sharptooth the night of the great earthshake. There was a little one with her, a son, but... I do not know what happened to him."

He watched, numb, as she gave him a sad nod and continued on her way. His mind was a defensive jumble, refusing to aknowledge all but the most superficial information he had been given.
The Great Valley? Wasn't that just a hatchling's story?
And...
He had a son.

---------------

His mate stood atop a curved outcropping, serene and far more beautiful than he had even remembered. The rich, warm brown of her skin glowed in the gentle sunlight. He was walking toward her, a burst of joy expanding in his chest.

He ran, and ran, yet came no closer. His legs began to tire. She caught his eye from afar, a long, sad look, and turned away.

"Wait!"

He forced himself toward her with all his might, but every step that he took came slower than the last. He caught sight of a deep shadow behind her, small at first, but soon grown large enough to blot out the failing sunlight.

"Wait! Please-"

The shadow reared its head, split apart a gaping maw full of endless rows of flawless pointed teeth, endless rows of death. She saw it, whipped her tail, but the maw descended, snapping shut, teeth finding purchase. Her neck was his neck, and he could feel the crushing, tearing, unbearable pain-


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Bron woke screaming, his limbs scrabbling for purchase of their own accord, dust and bits of debris flying in a mad arc around his prone form. He planted his feet on the ground to steady himself, breath coming in ragged gasps, trying to make sense of the suffocating blackness around him. The reality of the situation came upon him gradually, his mind and memories returning piece by piece. It had been a dream, though all too real, and the bright circle was still gone from the sky. She was dead. He lowered his head roughly, feeling the cold dirt scratch at the underside of his neck, and sobbed helplessly for his mate, his son, and himself.

It was the first truly terrifying sleep-story he'd had since he was a hatchling. It was the first of many.

-------------------

Bron had spent the next few weeks wandering aimlessly, without hope or direction. The lands he crossed steadily became greener, but he ate little and slept less, the strain of long days and short nights beginning to tell in his bearing. His stooped form and swollen eyes hardly set him apart, though, as the signs of grief were all too common in these strange, altered lands. The few travelers he crossed along the way minded their own business as surely as he minded his.

He was still searching for his son, but his heart had left him. He trudged through each day mechanically, because he knew it was something he had to do. When he passed a tall rock outcropping and saw a group of young ones- young longnecks- wandering aimlessly by themselves, he half thought he had finally lost his mind. His heart skipped a beat as he approached them, but it quickly fell again. They looked like they were just barely out of the egg, far too young to be his. One was bigger, but it was a ridge-head, and a green one at that.

The closer he got, the heavier his heart became. As he leaned his head in to inspect them, the bigger one kept himself in front of the little ones, shielding them with his fragile body. It hardly mattered, as he quickly confirmed what he already knew; his son was not among them. He focused his gaze on the older child, intending to offer an explanation, but the young face so full of life and determination filled him with bitterness and hollow, longing thoughts of what his own child would have looked like. His stomach rolled, and he turned away. They would die soon on their own, he knew. Somehow, he found that he couldn’t care.

"Hey! Hey, where're you going?" The larger child yelled, his voiced tinged with fear and desperation.

Bron didn't answer.

-------------------------

The children had followed him for a time- he would look back occasionally to see them scurry under cover, or sneak glances at him from the underbrush. He did not slow his pace, though, and eventually they drifted farther and farther behind. He soon stopped seeing them entirely, and he could breathe a bit easier. The last thing he needed was a living reminder of his failures. Feeling securely alone, he had stopped to strip a few trees of their leaves when a mind-numbing roar split the sky, followed by the unmistakable sound of children shrieking.

Looking back years later, he would try to convince himself that he had turned back for the sake of the children. In truth, the sharptooth's call filled his mind with a raw bloodlust, and an undercurrent of something much deeper; the longing of a very real part of himself that wanted only to die, so that he could find his mate at last.

He thought of none of this as he crashed through the sparse vegetation, quickly catching sight of the hefty two-footer. It was distracted by the scurrying longneck children who promised to be an easy, if unsatisfying meal, and barely had time to get a straight look at the newcomer before the fully grown longneck barrelled into it, full-tilt. If the sharptooth had been prepared for him and not so woefully undernourished, he might have paid more dearly for his rashness. But, as it was, for every frenzied bite and scratch he took he delivered a crushing blow with deadly accuracy. He fought tirelessly with a strength born of madness, charging forward every time the beast sought to put distance between them, favoring offense to a fault. Finding itself backed up against a sheer rock wall, the sharptooth lunged one final time, its teeth finding purchase in the meat of Bron's shoulder. Without thinking, howling in rage and pain Bron smashed his body forward, crushing his foe against the wall. It thrashed and gurgled, jaws crushed against the wound it had made, then fell limp. Bron stepped away, legs shaking, and the creature tumbled to the ground in a sad heap.

As his breathing slowed, he could feel a dark rage boiling up again. The sharptooth's battered form before him wasn’t enough. He brought a massive foot down onto the monster’s rib cage and pressed down, slowly. The deliberate crunch of bones tore through his brain, and something inside him broke. One after another his forelegs lifted and slammed down on the lifeless form, cracking, crushing, tearing, as tears fell from his eyes in an endless stream.

”Why?” He whispered through clenched teeth, still thrashing the now unrecognizable form. Finally beginning to tire, he reared up on his hind legs to a titanic height, seeming to hang in the air for a moment that lasted a personal eternity.

”WHY HER?!” He bellowed, crashing down with all of his weight in one ultimate, empty act of destruction. He stood there for some time, a mocking picture of dark tranquility, blood and bits of bone embedded in his skin. Looking down at what he'd done, he felt... distant. As if he were dreaming again. He turned away, and was surprised to see the children there, watching. Stunned fear and awe shone on their open faces, but the green one had a peculiar look in his eyes. Admiration? Bron shuddered.

"Come on." He gestured with his head, and started walking toward the lowlands. He didn't have any idea where he would go next, but it seemed that it wasn't his day to die.

------

Somehow, life went on. They had stayed in the lowlands for a time, resting and eating what they could. The children had taken to telling every passer-by who would listen the story of their rescue, and Bron's savage fight with the sharptooth. Struck with awe, many of them had begun to follow him, too. They didn’t believe half of what they heard, but the half they did believe was enough. They knew the value of a leader who could defend them. These were hard times, and there was safety in numbers.

As the size of his new makeshift herd grew, Bron buried the memory of his mate and lost child deep down, where they couldn’t touch him. The dreams still came, but he felt like he was outside of them, watching a disjointed scene from a stranger's life. He could never forget, but he could still go on living.

There was a sad kind of irony to it. When he was young, he had always dreamed of becoming the leader of a herd. But not like this…
Not like this.


rhombus

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Life Went On
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2018, 02:06:51 AM »
Wow.  :wow This is one of those stories that communicates more in a few pages than some longer stories communicate in a few hundred.  In this equal part character analysis and explanation of Bron's unexplained time we see the full range of the dinosaur's emotions: initial hope for his lost family; undying despair at their loss; insatiable rage that can barely be contain; and then cold numbness even towards the most precious around him.  Reading through his emotional journey was a struggle in parts simply due to the shear realness of it all.  How in order to protect oneself from emotions and a reality that cannot be changed one might choose to suppress ones emotions and run from those that remind him of his loss.  Such repression is not sustainable, however, and eventually the mental anguish will show through, as Shorty and the others witnessed with Bron's assault on the sharptooth.  Though Shorty may admire the physical strength and mental toughness that Bron showed, Shorty has no idea that such actions were born out of wounds that could not heal.  That is, of course, until the events of the tenth movie can finally give Bron some measure of peace.

This is an amazing piece of writing, DarkWolf.  :yes Perhaps it is due to the rawness of the recent tragedy and the terrible images and sounds I have seen on television over the last few days being fresh in my mind, but this story really communicated a sense of loss and dealing with loss badly that I have seldom seen from writing in this fandom.  Thank you very much for sharing it with us.  :)


Go ahead and check out my fanfictions, The Seven Hunters, Songs of the Hunters, and Mender's Tale
Mender's Tale.

Sovereign

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Life Went On
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2018, 04:12:12 PM »
This was a nice little story that certainly deepened our understanding about Bron's feelings concerning the fate of his family. The simple focus on Bron's raging feelings certainly worked nicely in this ficlet and, as rhombus said, made it possible for this story to communicate more internal anxiety that could be asked from a story under 2000 words. The progression of the few scenes and the long periods of time were executed nicely and left room for imagination also. I like how you described Bron's initial coldness towards Shorty and the others and the accidental way he found a herd of his own. Even then, I felt like this story could have been a bit longer as it's difficult to communicate the long-term sense of loss and the many, twisted lines of thoughts swirling in one's mind after a tragedy of this scope in this short a story. It wasn't anything too serious but sub 2k word stories tend to miss some of their potential. Still, it's fair to say this is your best story thus far! I hope to see more prompt responses from you in the coming months! :)

Ducky123

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Life Went On
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2018, 11:53:24 AM »
This immediately gave me some nostalgic chills :D

Shorty's Dark Past, albeit much different and poorly written, started with a similar scene, Bron finding Shorty and the little longnecks.

I feel the way you portraited Bron matched my own imaginations quite well. Bron falls into a deep depression upon finding out about what happened to his family. Now there are many different ways people cope with such tragedies, often depending on what sort of character these people have. I just feel like becoming a robot-like figure is what Bron would turn into.

Bron's resignation rapidly changes upon meeting another Sharptooth - the kind that took his wife. He didn't seem to care for Shorty and the little Longnecks but about revenge. While gruesome and out of character, the killing of the Sharptooth is perfectly understandable considering his situation.

Overall, it was a short but very effective little story with a really good narrative. Well done! ^^spike
Note to self: finally create that signature lazy bum! :P

DarkWolf91

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Re: Life Went On
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2018, 12:11:09 AM »
Aaah, thank you all so much for the feedback! Though I am somewhat bad at replying, seeing that it's months later :oops I just wanted you all to know that I truly appreciate that you took the time to read and respond! Writing fiction is very draining for me, and it's always motivating to read these wonderful reviews! It was an engaging challenge to try to get into Bron's mindset at this point in his life, and I hope to explore his character more in the future :smile