The Gang of Five
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Future during Time (sequel to Future before Time)


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First part

 “Still, thank you for keeping him alive for me.” The strange creatures had left, leaving the Great Valley with the inhabitants it had before they had ever become involved and then some. Currently, Grandpa was sleeping, his long-time lack of sustenance having caught up to him.  Resting beside him were his wife and her cousin while his son-in-law was watching the reunion of his grandson with said grandson’s friends.
“It was my pleasure.” The Old one smiled gently at her family-member. “I am just happy it did not prove a hollow effort.”
“Nowhere near how happy I am.” Grandma returned the smile warmly. “I am going to be completely on his case on eating once he wakes up, though.” Her smile turned into a frown when looking over the starved form of her husband.
“I’ll be happy to help until my herd returns.” The scarred female chuckled softly. “I send them ahead, they’ll pick me up on their next visit. I felt it might get problematic to accommodate two entire herds of Longnecks for too long.”
“Seeing if you can retire soon?” Grandma chuckled, looking over the valley.
“Don’t tempt me.”
“Nono...” Pterano scooped one of his nieces away from him. “I am only going to tell stories when one of the others is around. You are not going to believe me otherwise.”
“They would, to be honest.” His sister pointed out, standing a bit away.
“True.” He chuckled. “Very well, let me rephrase that; I need backup so your mother does not get on my case about it.” That unleashed giggles from said sister’s menagerie of kids. He did flinch a bit at her flat glare. “I am just trying to preempt misunderstandings here.”
Saphira did snort after a bit, resting one hand on his shoulder. “I’ll trust you.”
“I still want someone really trusted as back-up.” He laughed softly. “Trust me on that, sister. Some of those things are going to make you contemplate giving me another five Cold-time time-out if I alone claim them.”
“And you’d rather not.” She shooed her children away, suggesting they get some food for their uncle.
“Should I be concerned you removed any and all witnesses?” He watched the small flock of children disappear out of sight. Only to find that if there was anything she didn’t want her children to see, it was her frantically hugging her sibling. “Saphira.”
“Don’t you dare pull something like this again.”
Turning in her embrace, he returned it gently. “To be fair, I didn’t want or plan this at all. But hey, look at the bright side; if this doesn’t get Threehorn to say I suffered enough, I don’t know what will.”
The glare she gave him pretty clearly told him he had ruined the emotional moment.
Evening brought something of a conundrum to the Swimmer-family whose mother and adopted brother had returned from wherever they had disappeared too; everyone wanted to sleep with them. What this translated to was that while Olophon was content to just be near his wife and returned child, the young swimmers all wanted to be able to touch both at once.
“It’s been a while since we had such a problem settling in.” Hadria looked over the proverbial traffic-jam between her and Spike. On her other side, Olophon was looking over her back at the same thing.
“To be fair, as far as I know none of our children usually have such specific demands to go to sleep.” One of his hands was resting on her neck as he spoke. “Usually they just form a pile with no regards to ‘want to touch mother, want to touch brother’.”
The elder female chuckled at that, looking briefly at him with sparkling eyes. “If they don’t solve this fast, there won’t be a night to sleep through.”
“Mhm...” He could certainly agree with that, the night circle already having crested the mountaintops to the east. Shifting, he leaned over his mate. “Kids, if you don’t figure this out soon, I’m taking your mom on a date this night already instead of waiting for a couple days.”
She laughed at that, her children looking beyond horrified at their father at that statement. The last time she and Olophon had had a date, it had taken the entire night, meaning there’d be no way they could sleep with her that night.
It did prompt them to finally figure something out, at least. Spike would sleep surrounded by his siblings, while Hadria would curl around them with Olophon just resting beside her.
“So… we are just living here now?” Tyra mused, looking at her mate. The Sharptooth-family had retreated to the corner of the valley the elder male had claimed as his own since having arrived here.
“At this point, I suppose we might as well.” He was circling her, drinking in all the changes that had happened to her body since he last saw her. Chomper was nearby, hunting some bugs for his dinner. “It keeps competition down.”
“From what I gathered, isn’t that something the Threehorn would vehemently oppose?” She rolled over briefly, stretching languidly.
“Grandpa Longneck convinced him.” Chomper spoke up, running up to his parents to settle down beside his mother with a filled stomach. “I think it helped dad was already inside.”
The older male grunted in agreement, settling down as well. She did notice that his eyes were still mapping out the shining lines that covered her body. She knew him well enough to know it would take him a while to calm down about those.
The Threehorns were already asleep at this point, Cera curled around her half-sister who was sleeping in the crook of their father’s body. Tria was resting a short distance away.
Unlike her family, she was not asleep, instead looking at them with a frown on her face.


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Chapter 2

The next day was filled with a calm serenity almost unheard of in the Valley. Well, if one ignored the Longneck and Threehorn-families, that is.
Grandma had spoken truly when she stated she’d be on her husband’s case regarding regaining his strength, meaning the elder longneck could hardly take a moment before another glower was aimed at him. He gladly took those though, nuzzling his returned wife lovingly whenever she did. The Old One would chuckle every time that happened, muttering something Littlefoot couldn’t hear.
“Try to contain yourself a bit, little one.” The old female warned him, a telling look being thrown just over his head. He knew that she was looking at the stone settled where head and neck met.
“I will, Grandma.” The youngster beamed up before rushing off with his adopted brother to meet with their friends, leaving the grown-ups behind.
“Are you sure that is safe?” Bron briefly looked at his mother-in-law. He had been too confounded by the mass-return the day before, but it was slowly sinking in that his son somehow had created a fake Sharptooth.
“Of course.” Grandma Longneck smiled gently. “Unless he overdoes it, but that is the case with everything one can do, Bron. Are you insinuating that I’d let my grandson do something dangerous?”
“He did conjure up a fake Sharptooth yesterday, love. And he didn’t look that good afterwards.” Her husband spoke up briefly before getting another bite of treestars.
“Because of which one he used...” She trailed off. “Mary told me he thought of… that one.” Shaking her head at the feeling of loss slowly filling her heart, she chuckled. “Let’s just leave it at ‘if he takes it easy, it’ll be fine’. And I’d like to trust he’ll stop before it becomes too much.”
“But I can understand his concern, cousin.” The Old One leaned over to the other female. “You lot disappear in what was described as a cluster of Sky Fire… and come back covered in strange webs while the boy can suddenly just… make images out of nothing.”
“Out of light.” The other automatically corrected her. “I wasn’t sure if we would be able to afford to leave one of us with the children at the end there, so I insisted on them having some ability to defend themselves.” Her eyes narrowed a touch at something in the distance, beyond the sight of the others. “It’ll be fine.”
“It could have been worse.” Another voice spoke up, Pterano gliding over to them. “He could be capable of some things that could actually hurt him instead of merely tiring him.” The flyer smiled lightly as he settled down on her back. “Just a short interruption, if you don’t mind...”
“Mmh?” All four Longnecks turned to look at him. He didn’t fail to miss the slight glare in the eyes of the mate of the one he was sitting on.
“I took a flight around the Valley. The humans have cleaned up after themselves.” The brown shape gestured in the general direction from where the returnees had entered the valley. “Also, Lewis was there. He stated that they want to visit in three days and asked if that were allowed. Yes? No?”
“Tell him to send Mary.” Grandma sighed softly. “If he enters the Valley, there won’t be a peaceful visit. Not right now.”
The brown form sketched something of a bow before taking off once again.
“Must they?” Grandpa asked, looking after the climbing form. For the first time during the day, his wife did not glower at him for not eating.
“Yes. It is in everyone’s best interest if we keep relations civil.” She took another deep breath, looking after Pterano. “I’m sure you don’t need to deal with them if you don’t want it.”
All three doubted those words, but did not want to mar this still so recent reunion with arguments. Grandpa returned his attention to the trees nearby, while the other three took up a simple conversation of safer subjects.
At least, they did until a bright flash of light in the distance caught their attention.
“What…?” The flash turned into a pulse and Grandma had a terrible feeling in her chest as if someone was pressing against her heart from the direction it was coming from. She suddenly remembered what Cian had told her before they had returned to the past the second time; I’ll let you have the ability to sense other webs in use. And she knew of only one dinosaur present that could make light-flashes. “Littlefoot!”
Almost in answer, a roar echoed in the Valley, bouncing from the walls themselves.
They came upon a scene that earlier might well have been in their nightmares; a furious Sharptooth was squaring up against Old Threehorn, growling and snarling threateningly at him, while he was unstably retreating.
“Grandma!” Unlike their nightmares however, Littlefoot was sheltering under and slightly behind the light-green Sharptooth. The pulses stopped almost immediately, though they seemed to have taken a sharp toll on the youngster. Sweat was beading on his entire body and he was trembling.
“What is happening here!?” The Longnecks had been far from the only ones to have noticed the spectacle and react accordingly. The parents of all children that had headed in the direction of the flashes were also arriving. Hadria rushed over to her adopted child, completely at ease with him being within touching-distance of a large Sharptooth, unlike her mate and other children. “Spike!” She only hesitated when taking in the position he was in, firmly pressed against his longneck-friend, a small pink form cowering underneath them. “Little ones?”
“He tried to remove her web!” Littlefoot informed her, looking between her to his grandmother and then – when she too arrived – Tria. “He wouldn’t stop when I told him not to. I had to!”


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Chapter 3

Tria gasped at that, rushing over to the children herself. Ducky’s mother quickly made way for the horned dinosaur, her face being a touch too close to stabbing-height of a mother who had different priorities to aiming now.
“Why would you do that?” Grandma Longneck demanded sharply as Chomper’s mother readjusted herself, clearly intending to stay in an attack-ready position.
“Give me one good reason why I ought to let her keep it!” The dark-grey male countered angrily, having shaken off the discomfort of Littlefoot near-blinding him. “You are back, there’s no need for it.”
“I thought you objected to causing death.” Pterano landed on the female Longneck. “These stones can’t just be removed like that.”
“Which is why I tried to stop you!” Littlefoot called out, even as his grandmother headed over to him more calmly than Tria had. The older Longneck reached down, pressing her head against her grandchild’s to calm him down.
The tall Sharptooth towered over them all, red eyes narrowed. “Perhaps we should have taken the offer to remove these for the children before resettling here...”
“Hindsight is usually annoying.” The male flyer looked down on the children in question. “We should do some explaining however, Grandma. What would have happened had Littlefoot not had his own abilities to slow him down?”
“It certainly seems so.”
“Dear?” Grandpa looked between the Sharptooth and his wife, feeling somewhat confused as to how exactly they understood each other. After all, they had not been alone together for that long.
“Let’s move this to the stone circle.” Mrs. Swimmer gently lifted Tricia on her mother’s snout. “This will be a long story, depending on how elaborate we’re going to make it.” She led her son away from the scene, her family following hesitantly.
Old Threehorn almost looked like he would refuse, but the fact that his family did follow her meant he had little choice.
“I wonder if we’d ever have a calm Cold Time?” Littlefoot couldn’t help asking when his grandmother lifted him onto her back as Pterano flew up to make space for the youngster.
“Never.” Grandpa chuckled softly, walking between the two elder females. “I only hope that this will all be worth the trouble.”
“We’ll see about that.” His mate muttered, eyes narrowed a touch as she looked at the dark-grey form ahead of them. “At least we’re all back again?”
The talking took the better part of the rest of the day, old Threehorn being as accepting and accommodating as usual. Tellingly, Tria was surprisingly quiet as that all went down.
“Out of curiosity, are things alright?” Tyra had semi-ambushed the pink female.
“He tried to tear out his daughter’s stone… of course they are not.” Tria looked up at the light-green female standing nearby.
“Threehorn, I might not be the most social dinosaur, simply because Sharpteeth are not social, but even I can tell it’s more than that.”
Chomper’s mother snarled. “Don’t make me get Hadria or the old Longneck.”
“Things are not that bad, I assure you.” The Threehorn settled down on the grassy hill. Confirming the other’s suspicions, the rest of the family was nowhere near. For the time-being, Tricia would stay away from her father until he calmed down about things. Cera had promptly declared she’d stay with her sister. Tria meanwhile had almost retreated to her mud-pools, staying with neither of them.
“Pull the other one, please.” Tyra’s eyes narrowed. “If there’s one thing I am good at, it’s catching fear and all those other emotions that would make for good prey-targets. You are afraid of your mate, Tria and I’m pretty certain it wasn’t just because he nearly killed your daughter. Why?”
“You are not going to leave until I talk to you, are you?” Blue eyes met blood-red.
“Of course. You lot do so appreciate talking. I was in the circle as well, even if I didn’t understand half of it myself.”
The Sharptooth settled down beside her, shifting a bit to get comfortable on the hilly bit of the grassy field. “Talk to me, Threehorn. I will get one of the others if you won’t. Or worse, my husband will come over demanding I get back to him.”
“He’s just being himself.” Tria mused. “Which everyone can tell you means he’s distrustful of anything strange and which he is simply unused to. Heavily traditionalist and stubborn.” She looked up into a nearby tree, where Pterano had been sitting ever since the Sharptooth had come upon her. It was a given that he’d probably inform the Longnecks the moment talks here ended. She had felt their gazes on her during the entire debacle at the Stone Circle… “Which means this entire thing is beyond what he knows how to deal with. He is distrustful of me… of all of us, I guess, but me in particular.”
“Which is why he wanted to bring your daughter back to her… original state?”
The other female supplied.
“Yes. He… doubts we are who we were before this entire mess.” Tria sighed in defeat. “It’s… painful to have him state that to my face. I’m just happy the girls had fallen asleep before that went down.”
“He has serious issues, I swear.” Pterano’s voice floated over, carried on a gentle breeze. Tria seemed not to hear, though he could tell that Tyra with her predatory hearing had caught it.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 02:17:13 AM by Sleeping-force's-inside »


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“That does sound like him.” Grandma looked into the tree she was resting beside. As Tria had feared-slash-suspected, Pterano had flown straight to the Longnecks to inform them of what she had revealed.
“Well, this is not something we can just talk to him about.” Grandpa mused darkly, turning to look at the general direction where the Threehorn-resting-place was. “There were changes, after all… in the strictest sense of the matter, you are no longer the ones you were before you were taken.”
“Changed to the point of completely rejecting us?” She threw her husband something of a glare, as if challenging him. “Your wives and-or children?”
“Of course not.” He joined her on the ground, managing to keep from flinching at the strange feel of her skin when he settled against her side. “But this is Threehorn. He is not the most rational among us when he is emotionally involved, by a fair margin. And having his wife and youngest child involved is very much emotionally involving.”
“Yet Olophon is taking this far better.” Pterano spoke up softly, wrapped up in one wing. “He and Hadria seem to have picked up right where they left off.”
“Olophon is not like Old Threehorn at all, not to mention he and Hadria regularly separate for periods of time.” The male Longneck took a deep breath. “I am not saying that he is right, but I can see why he might be… suspicious of things.”
“Add his normal character and it is a mess waiting to happen.” His wife conceded. “Not much we can do about that, can we?”
“Beyond waiting until he has at least calmed down somewhat?”
“It’s the same every Cold Time...” Grandma Longneck mused, torn between a strange kind of amusement as well as frustration about the matter. Granted, normally it was some variation of strangers having come into the Valley, but this time it was a matter of several residents simply returning and him labelling them as strangers. “And considering Tria is the problem...”
“We’ll have to be the ones to confront him.” Her husband finished, wondering if taking Bron and the Old One along for back-up would help or just make matters worse.
The female beside him chuckled weakly, probably considering something similar to that. They would be discussing that one for a while, no doubt about it. That time wouldn’t be now though, as the rest of their family was returning to the Longneck-restingplace. They couldn’t help but wonder if the children would be able to escape the politics this time around.
Sadly, precedents showed that there wouldn’t much hope for that around here.
“Hey guys.” Mary waved at the massive creature looming overhead. She had come with two guards, both heavily armed. Her grandfather had barely resisted the urge to send Lewis, but could not disagree with the assessment that sending the person who had lead those that took several members of the Valley might go poorly.
“Hey.” Littlefoot grinned at her from underneath his grandmother. Several dinosaurs were nearby, having gathered at the agreed-upon spot. “Been a while.”
“Sure has.” She approached, for now confident that her protectors outnumbered those that might want to harm her. “I look forward to actually being able to see your valley this time around.”
“The children will enjoy showing you around.” Grandma leaned down a touch. “Do try to stay away from a black threehorn.”
“Same story as the last time I was here?” The group headed towards the Valley slowly to allow to humans to keep up without having to run.
“Always.” Littlefoot smirked, an orange threehorn that was walking with them almost glowering at them. “Oh yeah, I probably should introduce you to everyone, shouldn’t I?”
“Maybe wait with that until we are in the Valley and they encounter them.” Hadria suggested, walking beside them. “I feel we are as hard to tell apart to them as they are to us.”
“Yes please.” Short of colours, Mary couldn’t really tell any differences between them. She felt that the age-old statement of ‘colour-coded for your convenience’ was very much at play here. They could tell her all about the others, but she probably would not be able to recognize them at all.


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Chapter 5

“Well, I am not looking forward to that.” Grandma took a deep breath. “Please tell me they are aware of how poorly it reflects on them to already ask for our return for things...”
“The President certainly does.” To the eternal worry of her guards, Mary had settled on the back of the resting Longneck. The group had arrived in the Valley quickly so they had immediately gone to business. “But he is being outvoted by the others. To his eternal frustration… Don’t tell anyone I said that.”
“Do we all have to go?” Pterano was sitting on Tria, looking up at the human. “Some of us can’t afford to leave already again...” The adults were pretty certain he was referring to the two Threehorns, but he gestured to Grandma Longneck for the sake of any children that might sneakily be listening in and who were currently still unaware of exactly how bad the situation in the Threehorn-family was. “Forgive me for assuming, but Grandpa Longneck does not look anywhere fully recovered yet. Will he be able to handle his wife leaving again already?”
“Oh, I am sure we can arrange something.” Mary looked down. “Besides, if you say you’ll come at some point, it doesn’t need to be like… right now.”
“This is really something we need to talk to our spouses about.” Hadria softly said, looking to where the children were with said spouses. It had taken the females all of five seconds to tell how tense the present guests were making their husbands, so they had compromised by ensuring that at least the children were not ‘under threat’. “Mary, we disappeared for changes of the Night Circle… they had had us back for mere days. Short of – no offence, Pterano – Pterano because he is single none of us will be able to leave for quite a while without risking the mental well-being of our mates.”
“You perhaps can’t tell, but they are tense as if they are expecting Red Claw to jump from behind the nearest tree.” Tyra confirmed. “Which is really weird for Rec, but that aside...”
“Perhaps the compromise would be to have them come here.” Tria suggested, despite knowing several of their mates would hardly react better to a large group of humans appearing. “Meet up outside the Valley for whatever they want from us. We don’t have to leave to the future and they can still meet.” She looked over at the two guards with something of a flat stare.
“I’ll suggest it.” The human carefully slid down the large grey back. “Can’t make any promises though. It’ll be a majority-thing.”
“We know the problems of that.” Hadria assured her with annoyance clearly audible. The rest knew she was thinking back to the first time Pterano had been at the Valley, where her daughter had been lost and all the grown-ups had been unable to assist because they were too busy arguing with the old Threehorn.
“See if you can arrange for it, though.” Grandma’s long neck turned to look at her own husband, who while somewhat stronger, was still disturbingly thin for an adult Longneck. In the end, it might well take him months to return to a healthy weight. It was far easier to lose weight than it was to regain it.
“Yes, ma’am.” The human nodded lightly. “My grandfather will certainly help me.”
“He better.” Tyra muttered, rising to her feet gracefully. “So how long can you stay here?”
“The portal is back online in three hours.” One of the soldiers answered.
“Which… means?” The Sharptooth dryly muttered. Even after all the time they had been there, the ways of telling time humans used were still strange and – most importantly – not feasible for dinosaurs.
“A good while, if the journey out is as quick as the journey in was.” Mary translated.
“The children will love that. Littlefoot has been eager to show off his home just about since he got home.”
“Spike as well… Mostly the food-parts, though.” The rising of their wives seemed to relax the small group of dinosaurs in the distance. “Try not to eat them just as such.”
Some early attempts had proven that what dinosaurs found edible did not exactly mesh with what humans thought was edible.


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Chapter 6

The compromise was accepted, though not easily. The knowledge that there would be a meeting was made more precarious when the Swimmer-family revealed that there’d soon be another nest from them.
Thankfully, Olophon was a calmer male than Old Threehorn, so he did not rampage or rant about it all, but Hadria was well aware he’d rather she stay far away from the humans when they arrived, now even more than he would have otherwise.
To a lesser extent, so did the other mates, but their wives made it very clear it was either them or the children… which was even more unthinkable. So in the end, all of them would go.
“Are you sure it’s wise to take the Threehorn?” Tyra looked over her shoulder at the dark-grey shape glowering up at her.
“Yes.” Grandma inclined her head lightly, looking at her own mate up ahead. Their route to the humans had them travel along a mountain-path the Longnecks did not fit on side by side. Tyra was in fact risking quite a bit while walking beside the old female, barely fitting without falling down the side. “Just keep an eye on him.”
“We’re almost there.” Pterano appeared above them, circling briefly. “The gate’s there, but they aren’t yet.”
“It is quite a bit, still.” Hadria looked up. Out of the simple fact that the dinosaurs did not have the human ways of telling them, the agreement of their meeting was when the Bright Circle was at its’ highest point in the sky. When they left the Valley, the circle had barely started cresting the mountains surrounding it.
“They honestly look so small and insignificant.” The Old One looked at the small forms she had been told were humans. Most of them barely reached her knee and yet they were considered more dangerous than most – if not all – Sharpteeth any of them knew.
“Indeed.” Bron beside her was tense, his sole biological child far too close to them for his liking. The youngster seemed to be excitedly talking to one of them that was mostly coloured white and was crouching to have its’ face near Littlefoot’s. He didn’t like it one bit, but could do little but trust his former mother-in-law’s assurances that all was well. If anything, he could trust her proximity to Littlefoot.
Looking around, he could see that there truly seemed to be several groups; at the front, closest to the humans were Littlefoot and Grandma Longneck, with a bit further behind them the others that had been taken – and the rest of the children – and behind those were he and those that had not been taken.
The younger grown-up looked to his left, where his father-in-law’s eyes were fixed on the two at the very front. The older male would remain tense and worried until the humans were gone, no doubt.
The light-green Sharptooth in front of him snarled, her muscles tightening. He noted in worry that her tail was flexing as if to accommodate a dash forward.
“Tyra.” The lone word was a sharp warning, the old female Longneck barely looking back. “Calm yourself.”
The reaction was snappish enough that Bron flinched away from her on sheer instinct.
“You are worse than Mr. Threehorn.” With little care for the power-differences, Hadria was looking up in amusement. The Sharptooth seemed to relax at the statement, her answer sounding almost purring. Below her, her young son snorted and had to repress some giggles.
“I must agree with her though, please do not insult those that cannot understand you.” Grandma returned her full attention to the humans. “Someone might translate it and what will you do then, I wonder?”
Well, that was an interesting statement. Bron looked out over the group of small forms, looking for whomever reacted to her. He found it easily, a yellow form becoming vocal in answer.
His mother-in-law shifted a bit, her face changing to one he had seen long ago when her daughter had introduced him as a her intended mate. Both of the elder Longnecks had been dubious about her choice and he recalled the faint feeling of judgement whenever he had been around them until they had accepted him.
“Shut it.” The words were angry, though the one speaking them still looked calm. “These are our families you are speaking about.” Tria’s sky-blue eyes narrowed.


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Chapter 7

One of the humans also said something and Bron could see the yellow human flinch at whatever it was. Beside him, the lighter Sharptooth purred something, which made her mate make a very interesting sound he couldn’t quite place.
In front of them, his mother-in-law was talking softly to one of the humans, this one mostly white. Littlefoot seemed intrigued, though his eyes kept moving back to the yellow form.
“You cannot be serious.” The elder female recoiled and Bron nearly shot forward to get his son out. Having sensed what he wanted to do however, the female Sharptooth was already in his path, shaking her head lightly.
“It is far too early for something like this, Cian.” Hadria pointed out, eyes fixed on the white human. “We barely came home.”
Oh, that did not sound good by any means. He didn’t even need to hear whatever it was the humans were saying to know that.
“You cannot ask this of me.” The elder female’s voice had dropped again and he noted with some horror that there was despair in there. “Cian, even you must be able to see how poor he looks. He will not survive this.” Below her, Bron saw his worst fears confirmed when Littlefoot’s attention turned to the back, eyes looking at the dangerously thin older male Longneck.
Grandpa Longneck flinched, almost recoiling. “Dear?” The neat separation fell apart when the grey male moved forward, bypassing even the other returnees to join his wife. “What are they asking?”
There was a tremble in the old body, though Bron was unable to tell if it was exhaustion from the trek here or something deeper.
She turned to him in answer, and with that profound abilty that one can only gain by being together for most of their lives, it seemed he knew everything just from that look. Their heads met gently, and though he could not hear it, he saw her mouth move.
He could tell that the Sharptooth did manage to hear her though, the light-green form shifting. Below them, Tria considered the scene, sky-blue eyes narrowing lightly. Even the humans were not making a sound, from what reached him, at least.
“I will go.” The tension had bled from the elder female at the touch of her mate.
“Wait, what?” Tria’s eyes snapped upward. “Longneck…?”
“I will not argue the point, Tria.” Grandpa backed away some and Bron was more than sure that this time the trembling was from apprehension at his wife’s statement.
“I am pretty certain we can all agree that there are better options.” Pterano spoke up. “Far better options.”
Even the Sharptooth seemed to think so, a deep growl filling the air around them. It was getting quite clear that it might well result in another of the Valley’s day-long arguments, when a human made itself heard again. It was not the yellow one, though from the reactions, it might well have been a worse one.
Bron could not stop his instinct to back away when the Sharptooth roared in anger, red eyes alight with rage.
“Tyra.” Despite her attention being on the female above him, Littlefoot almost scampered out of the way when Chomper’s mother wheeled on the one that had spoken, roaring something that was both accusation and challenge. “I am not deaf. Stand down.” She strained against the words, something having put her near a bloody rampage. “Tyra. I can and will stop you. Stand down.”
“Me thinkest we ought to let her.” Hadria countered sharply. “Someone has apparently forgotten exactly what led to these events.”
“If someone does something here, it will not be us, Hadria.” Grandma looked down. “Chomper.”
“Errr… yes?” The little Sharptooth was still standing between his father’s feet, where he had been translating what he himself had understood.
“Tell your father he can eat the human that last spoke.” Whatever the thought-process that led to that statement, it seemed to mollify the other grown-up Sharptooth, even if he didn’t like the thought himself.
“You are aware that a bunch of children are here, right?” He finally made himself heard, almost flinching at the look his mother-in-law gave him. It was as if he was a youngster again, feeling the full judgement of the elder female when first meeting her. “Mama Longneck...” He dearly hoped the endearment would help him reach her. “With all due respect, I don’t think they ought to see that.” Either the very act itself, or even the mere fact that Grandma Longneck of all creatures had ordered it. Luckily, from what he could tell, Chomper had not yet translated it to his father.
“Bron.” The voice was cold, colder than he had ever heard of her. “He just suggested getting it all over with, removing these webs from us. I do not need to remind you what happened when Threehorn tried.”
He did remember… how could he not remember when she had told everyone that the stones were a part of them now, as much as any other part? That removing them could – and most likely would – kill them, no matter how carefully done. The human had suggested killing them all… it certainly explained the fury, because who wouldn’t be when threatened with death?
He came to almost admire the white human when it spoke up once again, drawing the elder Longneck’s attention down again. The small form, barely twice the height of Littlefoot broke free from the group, closing the distance between dinosaurs and humans. The act had to be admired, since Grandpa Longneck was shifting his weight in threatening ways. His tail wouldn’t do much against to something that small and probably nimble, but crushing was very much a feasible option.
“Do that.”


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Chapter 8

“You are really just going… to leave me again.” The two elder Longnecks had broken off from the group returning into the valley.
“Only for a bit.” Grandma softly stated. “There are things that I need to look into.”
“But this soon?” Her husband demanded sharply, yet softly. “Two changes of the Night Circle does not nearly feel enough time,”
“It is not enough time, no where near enough.” She agreed, looking forward to where the rest was walking. “But they need to be reminded of us regularly, before they forget. You heard the translation earlier. They are already forgetting that we are worth more than their curiosity. The scars we bore back with us came precisely because some of them think us mindless, with as much intelligence as a rock. Much like what we used to think of Sharpteeth.”
Up ahead, Tyra looked back at that, having heard her.
“But you?” He could agree, perhaps, with her statement that there needed to be a reminder, if this was the case, but why her?
“Tyra is who will keep her husband in check if he ever tires of all the rules that have been put in place for their stay here.” Her tail whipped through the air. “Tria has yet to even regain Old Threehorn’s trust and Hadria will still be with egg...” She quirked an eyebrow at her husband. “And I feel most will not want Pterano be a diplomat… or trust him to.”
“Sometimes, I hate logic.” Grandpa took a deep breath. He could not yet offer the thing that would keep them from separation; him joining her. Neither did she.
“At least you’ll know where I went this time?” She instead offered softly. “And Littlefoot will still be around.”
He made to answer, but stopped himself. Taking a deep breath, he instead shook his head lightly.
“Dubious about which one you’d prefer?” Her body reverberated with a soft chuckle. “I know that feeling.”
He allowed himself a small chuckle along with her. “Something like that, yes.” He reached for her, resting his head against hers briefly.
They shared a brief glance, before looking ahead again. Littlefoot did seem to be in a deep discussion with Bron about something. Tria still walked a good distance from her husband, closer to the resident Sharpteeth where she didn’t even seem to consider the potential danger.
Said husband was almost as far back as the two elder Longnecks, glowering at the herd ahead.
“You can use the time when I am not here to deal with him.” She whispered lowly, gesturing at the Threehorn with a playful grin.
“You are cruel, my love.”
“You have frequently stated that, my dear.”
“When are you going to talk to dad?” Cera demanded softly, looking up at the older Threehorn resting in the mudpool.
“About what?” Tria opened her eyes to look at the two younger Threehorns that had sought her out.
“Everything?” The orange form settled into the ground, her younger sister sliding into the mud to clamber onto her mother.
“Is this about him… being reluctant about matters?” It was a very diplomatic way to describe the Threehorn-male’s state.
“It won’t help if I do, Cera. He needs to get to the point of acceptance by himself.” Tria pointed out. “If we try to force the matter, he’ll stubbornly refuse out of principle.”
“But this isn’t stubborness...” The little form countered. “Everyone is accepting everyone, except him you.”
“He is accepting of everyone, except you!”
“Sweetie.” Tria’s voice dropped to a murmur before sighing. “Can we have this talk later, when there’s less chance for someone to stumble across us in surprise? I need to get out and clean off anyway, so shall we meet at the water-hole?”