Time Travellers' ExtremeDisclaimer: None of the characters are mine, but belong to Impossible Pictures™.
The clearing in the Mesozoic forest stood quiet and serene, a place where the usually dense woods began to give place to a more open landscape, where plants bloomed freely and the air was hot and humid.
The time was the middle of the afternoon. The sun was high in the sky, and most of the native animals have either had their fill of food and were sleeping it off, or had failed to have anything, but were also waiting for the weather to cool down somewhat.
And yet, there were the others, other forces that had a different agenda: abruptly, in a flash of chromatically white colour, a time anomaly sprung into place, briefly released four people, and vanished abruptly, even for it.
"Well!" Helen Cutter exclaimed sharply, as she used her new walking stick to pull herself upwards and glare at still-prone Connor Temple, "nice directional skills, time pilot! You brought us backwards in time, it seems!"
For several moments there was silence, and then Connor began to get on his feet as well, helping Abby along the way – the shorter blonde had fallen face first, and was busy cleaning her face from the fallen and rotten foliage and earth. "How do you know that?" he turned towards Helen, a challenging look upon his face.
Instead of replying, Helen leaned sideways, away from Danny, and positioned herself back first against a tree. "Look there," she said simply, pointing with her walking stick behind the young couple. "There's your proof."
"Like we would fall for your trickery," Connor began angrily, but was interrupted by Danny Quinn:
"Actually, Connor, you and Abby really should look."
Slowly, very carefully, Connor and Abby did turn around – and stared. A relatively small dinosaur was grazing at some bushes, fortunately facing away from the four people.
"Connor?" Abby whispered excitedly, "what kind of a dinosaur is this?"
"An armoured one," Connor whispered back, equally excited. "Judging from the shoulder spikes that we can see, it's some sort of an early nodosaurid – a palaeoscincus, polacanthus, sauropelta, gastonia... the choices are truly many!"
"Is this nodosaurid dangerous?" Danny said, more carefully, than either Abby or Connor would. "And moreover, what do you mean by 'early'? When, in what time period exactly are we?"
"Good questions," Connor nodded sagely, even as the dinosaur continued to graze. "The nodosaurids were prominent in the early Cretaceous... yeah, Helen's right, we did go back in time, even more so when you got separated from us first and we had to deal with the raptors. And as for them being dangerous, well-"
Connor didn't have time to finish, for there was a cry of alarm: a small forest-dwelling pterosaur or a primitive bird had noticed them and wasted no time in notifying the rest of the woods of its discovery. The other pterosaurs or birds joined onto the signal as well...and that brought the plant-eating dinosaur out of its stupor.
"Be very quiet, people," Helen practically hissed, rather than spoke, "and move away from it – quickly!"
"Now listen," Connor snapped, his old anger rising once more, now that the excitement of seeing a dinosaur was over. "We had enough-"
The dinosaur struck. Its tail literally ripped through the bushes, as the bony plates that were located there sheared right through the vegetation – the only reason why Connor and Abby weren't hit as well was because they just dropped down, the tail missing them by inches. And moreover, as Connor watched in some helpless (and stupid) fascination, the dinosaur moved forwards and sideways, like some giant crab, and reared its tail for another strike.
"Wah!" Abby yelled shrilly, as she and Connor were jerked backwards by their collars, something that made them fall prone on their backs – just in time, as the tail struck once more, again missing only by inches.
"People!" Danny hurriedly exclaimed, "we must get out of here-"
The ground shook, (or so it seemed to Abby and Connor) and two or three more of the dinosaurs of the same species (whatever it was) emerged from the forest, their small, tortoise-like heads sniffing the air, and their dangerous tails swishing up-and-down in an aggravated manner.
"Run!" Danny howled, as the new dinosaurs also began to move sideways, into an attacking position, and the initial dinosaur prepared to strike once more. "Now!"
The initial dinosaur's tail thudded downwards, trying not only to cut, but also to smash Abby and Connor into ground. Fortunately, Danny's command reached them just in time, and so they fled, even as the powerful tail thudded into the same spot where they'd been lying just moments ago. Unfortunately, this action startled the other dinosaurs, and one of their tails tried to strike them instead; in fact, it would've, if a pair of powerful hands didn't grab them by the collars, again, and pull them behind a tree...which shuddered, from the dinosaur's slam into it.
Feeling very grateful, Abby and Connor turned around...only to face a definitely not-crippled Helen. For a few long moments the three stared at each other, and then Helen took off, followed closely by Abby and Connor. Behind the fleeing people, the tree shook again, as the dinosaurs struck it instead of them, but Abby and Connor, at least, didn't care, and followed Helen into the depths of the woods.
"That had been one of the worst situations I have ever been into, probably even worse than the stegosaurs in the Jurassic," Helen exclaimed some time later, when the sound of the dinosaurs' angry bellows died away. "Guess after all these times away from Nick, I forgot just how troublesome cabinet workers in the field can be."
"Speaking of Nick, where's Danny?" Connor asked, glaring dangerously at Helen, or at least he tried – the shortness of breath (he still wasn't as athletic as Abby) rather ruined it for him.
"Oh, he went running the other way, as soon as when he told us to," Helen said calmly, "what else did you think? Still, considering, that one of the other dinosaurs tried to swing at him, one shouldn't expect any clearance of thought from him, now would you?"
Connor opened his mouth to say something scathing, but Abby beat him to the punch, as usual.
"Helen," she said, frowning. "You look... better?"
"I feel better too," Helen said, smiling. "We went back in time – before my back got broken by that stupid raptor. Therefore, now it's just only somewhat stiff." She gave the others a look, as if inviting them to join her in her good fortune, but Abby and Connor weren't buying it.
"Helen," Abby said quietly, "it's good that you're feeling better, but does it mean that the truce is over?"
"Hmmm... good question," Helen nodded thoughtfully. "Let's find it out, shall we?" With those words she abruptly turned around and fled into the Cretaceous woods – Connor and Abby only had a brief moment of time to look at each other, and then they followed her.
Danny Quinn was lost. The bad part was that he had been separated from others; the good part was that the irritated dinosaurs had lost him as well.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid," Danny muttered crossly to himself. "Abby and Connor tend not to think straight, especially if exposed to dinosaurs and Helen-" Danny paused, remembering how Helen had survived her fall – her backpack managed to break it, along with her own back. Still, the anthropologist turned time traveller didn't give in, fully intending to crawl to the next time anomaly or wherever with her broken back no matter what. Danny could respect that, and so he "arrested" Helen in return for returning for Abby and Connor – which they did. Admittedly, it also involved a daring rescue of the young couple from several hungry giant prehistoric alligators, but now-
"I really, really hope that they will get along," Danny muttered softly to himself, "for otherwise, we're doomed. Well, I am probably doomed all the same, but-"
Danny stopped. Some distance away from him was another dinosaur and this one was shaped more... dinosaur-like: longer hind legs, shorter frontal ones, a head with a beak that vaguely looked like that of a parrot, and a tail that somehow resembled a wooden two-by-four in its shape. Oh, and it was also dead, very dead, for yet another dinosaur was feeding on it.
Danny gulped. The meat-eater wasn't a T-Rex, but it looked very dangerous all the same: long, blade-like teeth, long forelimbs that ended in massive claws, and... and it was looking at him with cold, malicious eyes.
"Oh boy," Danny gulped and began to edge back into the forest.
And then there was a squeak.
Instinctively, Danny turned around, away from the big carnivore, and faced... a raptor hatchling that was still partially covered in downy proto-feathers, and its eyes were wide... from fear. Considering that the probable source of that fear was standing a relatively short distance away, crouching over a dead dinosaur, Danny felt sympathy towards the youngster.
Abruptly, the flesh-eating giant snorted in irritation, bringing Danny's attention back to it – and Danny didn't like what he saw: the carnivore had shifted its stance, clearly intending to spring at them, which left only one thing possible-
"And to think that I never said good-bye-"
For a person with a sore back (well, a supposedly sore back) Helen could certainly run fast – but so could they. Well, Abby could at any rate, Connor mainly concentrated on following her instead of Helen. Not that that was particularly easy either: Abby – probably because she was following Helen – was taking the scenic route, and if it wasn't for her bright blonde hair, then Connor would've lost her a long time ago.
And then, abruptly, Helen stopped, for Abby did so; and running up to Abby, Connor did saw Helen, who had indeed stopped running (but looking no more winded than Abby did), and who was busy looking down a rather precipitous gorge. "That's unexpected," the older woman said thoughtfully, as she looked down from there. "And really troublesome too."
"What's troublesome?" Abby growled, as she looked as if she was ready to tackle her interlocutrix, but would not dare, because of the precipice.
"That," Helen said in irritation, pointing downwards. Instinctively, Abby, followed by Connor, looked down – and stared. Danny Quinn was already down there somehow, and he was facing off with a carnivorous dinosaur that was bigger than a hippopotamus.
"Connor, we have to do something!" she hurriedly said, as she noticed that Connor wasn't quite paying attention to her once again.
"I think that there is something down there with Danny and that dinosaur – I think it's some sort of a Cretaceous descendant of the allosaurus," he said. "Anyways, Abby, we have to do something-"
There was a whoop, or rather, a series of very loud ones. To the surprise of the young couple, they came from right next to them, from Helen. To an even greater surprise, it was answered by several series that came from behind her.
"Crud," Helen muttered unhappily and skidded downhill. Several bird-like shapes, but armed with wicked switchblade talons on their feet, followed her.
Connor and Abby exchanged looks. Just what had happened here?
The huge carnivore was approaching them slowly, almost deliberately, with reverberating growls. When they had been rescuing Connor and Abby, Danny had been able to see the teeth of a juvenile Tyrannosaurus-Rex, and so he could safely say that this dinosaur was nothing like the tyrannosaurus.
And then, as Danny was about to continue his comparative anatomy from the inside of the dinosaur, there came some sort of a whooping cry. To his surprise, the raptor juvenile, who was apparently cornered alongside him, perked up immediately and whooped back, several times.
The other carnivore too heard those sounds, which now continued unabated and were coming closer as well – it stopped its advanced and began to turn sideways – right when the first raptor hit it full on. Belatedly, Danny could only watch as the smaller raptor tore into its much-larger opponent hard, and then jumped away fast.
The bigger dinosaur began to turn, when another two raptors tore into him, this time from down below, the talons on their forelimbs gouging deeply into the giant's sides lower legs. The big carnivore bellowed, but this time from pain, rather than from rage – and was answered by a small, darting figure, that fire a tazer deep into its gut. That was the final straw. Abruptly, the giant carnivore broke its stance and fled into the woods. Mocking hoots followed its retreating backside.
And then Helen Cutter turned to Danny. "Care to introduce us to your new friend?" she asked.
By the time Abby and Connor got halfway down (admittedly, they were taking their time, 'cause they didn't want to break any limbs of their own), it was all over. The family of raptors were feeding on the spoils of the battle, and Danny and Helen were already halfway up.
"That was amazing," Connor said, impressed despite himself.
"That was experience," Helen exhaled hardly. "I've been stuck in the early Cretaceous several times, so I had opportunity to learn that the local raptors are some of the smartest pack hunters of this time and place. Now, if you would climb into the cavern over here," she finger-pointed to smallish-looking cavern that was located in the side of precipice, "we will finally have enough peace and quiet to go home. What do you say?"End of Time Travellers' Extreme