This story is dedicated to Markus who suggested the crossover and helped in the story's development. Enjoy!
"Madeline, let me give you some advice, not as just your teacher but as a friend and fellow artist. Don't think. Feel...Feel the music. Let the artist come out, dear. Allow the force that dwells within guide you."
"Yes, the energy that is all around us. It sustains us. Why, it is life itself. Now, let go of your fear, and you have far too much. Let go of the anger and apprehension. As long as you let fear and anger cloud your mind, the artist will never emerge. Do you understand?"
"I think so."
"Good! Now, once more, from the top. Let out the artist, Madeline..."
Inside the cave, Suri could swear she heard voices. But there was no one else there other than she and Ola. Who is that talking?
The kids, tiring of the adult chitchat, decided to explore the cave that served as Artmo Hox's home. What got to them was why Artmo would stay in here when the Nesting Grounds were just a few steps away. He could have made himself known much earlier. What did he do for food and water? What if he confronted a carnotaur?
"Well," said Ola, "he said he's a warrior. That means he's able to protect himself."
"I don't know," said Suri. "He seemed nice enough, but we still don't know much about him."
With a mischievous grin, Ola said, "Let's look around. He might have left something behind. You know, something he needs right now."
Never leaving each other's side, the children made their way through the darkened cave. At first just going inside gave Suri a terrific case of nervousness. After all, she had been here before, long ago, while en route to the Nesting Grounds. That was right after the Fireball, after Aladar and family encountered the Herd and Kron.
They hadn't gotten too far down darkened paths when Suri asked, "Ola, do you hear and see stuff like your mom?"
"Sometimes," replied Ola. "I hear the same stuff Mama hears, and I see faces in my dreams. You know, like those kids we saw in Artmo's pictures."
Suri shook her head then asked, "Do you hear stuff now? The reason I'm asking is I'm starting to hear stuff. Like someone's talking. I hear a girl telling an old man that she's not getting it right. And the man tells her to quit thinking and start feeling. I don't know what that means, Ola. Do you think it has anything to do with the stuff we're all hearing and seeing?"
Ola thought a bit, then said, "Hey, Suri, why don't we check out those crystals up ahead. My mom says you can see the future in them if you think really hard."
That said, the kids made their way through to the pool of water surrounded by numerous crystalline stalactites and stalagmites. As Ola said, in dinosauric folklore, the crystals serve as a divination tool. Whether they can really foretell future events is anyone's guess, but many of the Herd swear by these magical powers.
While the cave's interior was dark, the crystals and pool reflected what little light filtered in. In fact, it is said the pool generates its own light with little help from the outside sun. Within that pool was a power not even Ola could explain. Surely, the crystals had the power to generate images of future events, but the pool was more potent. This the kids did not know until now.
"Look, Ola," said Suri, pointing at a massive stalagmite swollen with minerals, "This one is really pretty. All pink and purple. I can almost see myself in it."
Ola nodded, saying, "Yes, Mama says the purple ones are the most powerful. Come on, let's look into it. Maybe we'll see ourselves all grown up."
Into the crystal they peered, each trying to concentrate on whatever images could be seen.
Suri shook her head, saying, "I don't see anything yet. You're sure this thing works?"
"It works," said Ola, "if you think hard enough. Try to think of something you want to see. Maybe yourself all grown up. Or your mom or grandpa after you have your first children."
Suri giggled, "I don't think I can imagine myself as a mom. Hey, I could see if Zini will find a steady girlfriend."
Both kids laughed so hard and loud that their voices reverberated throughout the cave.
"Oops," said Suri, "We don't want to make too much noise. Aladar says sometimes sudden sounds make the cave walls fall down."
So, in silence, both girls continued to peer into the crystals, hoping to catch a glimpse of their respective futures.
It happened again, those voices Suri swore she heard earlier. The lemur sprite tried to tune the voices out, but they grew louder and more pronounced. It was the same girl and old man talking.
"Ola," she said nervously, "I'm hearing those voices again. Hey!" She turned her attention to the pool then said, "I think they're coming from the water."
Indeed, when Suri peered into the pool of colorful water, images began to appear. A bit shadowy and blurry at first, the images became more clear once Ola joined her friend at water's edge. There they could see the phantom voices' owners. The young girl was pretty, sitting in a chair and holding something the kids could not identify. The older man sitting next to her instructed her to play it again, this time with more feeling. Play what? That's when the girls heard it, the same lovely music Sarama heard long ago, long before Ola was born. Why was the girl playing the piece over and over? What did the man mean by, "Trust your feelings. Free the artist within"?
Then the waters mysteriously rippled; the scene changed. Suri and Ola now could see something more familiar, at least to their prehistoric world. In that pond reflected a seemingly tranquil scene – a dense forest with many trees and undergrowth.
"That," whispered Suri, "looks almost like our island."
Yet the creatures in that forest in no way resemble lemurs or dinosaurs. To Suri these creatures looked like the little rodents the lemurs encountered many times on the island, only these guys stood on two legs like lemurs.
"They're all furry," said Ola, "but they have on stuff that humans wear."
"Yeah," said Suri, now wondering if the Herd will see anything like this. "They seem friendly...Wait! There are humans there! Look, a girl and bunch of men. What are they doing?"
"And look, Suri," exclaimed an excited Ola, "there's something that looks like Artmo's little friend. What's his name?"
"R4-A9," replied Suri. "Yeah, he does look like R4, but his friend calls him R2."
She giggled again, saying, "His friend looks like a human but he's all shiny. Hey, look at the big guy. He looks like Zini, that is if Zini grew up to be really big."
Ola shook her head, "No way! Zini doesn't look like him. This one looks like...You know, I don't know what he looks like. He seems friendly, too. Doesn't say much, though. Sort of grunts and howls. Hey, where are the humans going? They just went inside something..."
The images faded away, leaving nothing but a clear pool of water.
"Gee," said Suri, "I wonder what all that meant? I didn't see us all grown up, or even any of the Herd."
"Neither did I," said Ola, shaking her head. "Here, we should go back or else our folks will miss us."
As they prepared to return to the Nesting Grounds, a faint noise, more to a roar than a rustle could be heard from further within, as if something or someone had just entered the cave. Of course, Ola and Suri were too far inside for anything to get them. Besides, there was still that huge rock pile (knocked down by Bruton during that carnotaur attack); not even Aladar could get through without a tight squeeze.
Suri grew more nervous; so did Ola. They've heard that sound before.
"Suri," said Ola shaking slightly with fear, "did you hear that?"
"Yeah," said Suri, herself trembling uncomfortably. "Sounds like carnotaur, but they can't get through to us. It's too tight to get through all those rocks. Aladar and Eema made sure of that. Besides, Neera says carnotaurs are too stupid to figure out how to burst through–"
"Burst through?," said Ola, her voice quivering.
All right, now the kids knew they had to go back, but before they did, they decided to take a peek through the tiny opening in the rock pile. At least a carnotaur, even he did spot the children, couldn't burst his way through. As Neera said, carnotaurs don't have much by way of brains.
Suddenly, two tiny voices called out, "Hey, let us in! That nasty carnotaur's been chasing us all over the canyon!"
A pair of flying lizards wedged their way through the tiny crack in the rocks. Panting, worn out from their flight from certain death, the first said, "Thanks for letting us in. We didn't know where else to go."
The other rejoined, "Yeah, if we stopped, both of us would've been his snack."
The pair laughed, now that they caught their breath. The first introduced himself and his companion.
"My name is Kit. That's my brother Flit." Looking at Ola, Kit said, "Hey, I remember you! You were just a hatchling the last time I saw you. Is your mother still–"
Ola replied, "Yes, my mother is Sarama, and she's here. So is my father."
Then she asked, "Did you remember my older sister? Doli?"
Flit replied, "Yes, I do. She was just born when...Well, that was a long time ago, and we don't like to talk about that. You see..."
"Shush, Flit!," his sister admonished. "You know how just remembering what happened makes everyone sad."
Now Suri and Ola became quite curious. The former asked, "What happened that made everyone sad?"
Flit and Kit looked at each other, both explaining the sad event which took place almost two decades ago.
"Well," said Kit, "I was just a youngling myself; so was Flit. See, my mom was flying around the Nesting Grounds when a baby hadrosaur – not you or your sister, Ola – started chasing her. Mom landed on what she thought was a tree, but it was a carnotaur. The thing started chasing the baby, and everyone scattered. The moms had to leave their nests, and one got her eggs smashed, except one. Mom stayed behind long enough to see it happen, then she got us and we hightailed it out of there."
"But," said Flit, "not before we saw that egg thief snatch that one egg left in the nest. We followed it all over, and–"
"Suri! Ola! Where are you?"
Loud, shouting voices could be heard from the opposite end of the cave, from the entrance to the Nesting Grounds. At once both Suri and Ola recognized those voices.
"That's Aladar and my mom, Flit," said Suri.
"And," said Ola, "I hear my folks, too. Here, we better go back before we get into trouble."
Turning to the new friends, Suri asked, "Hey, why don't you guys join us. There's lots of room, plenty of good food and water–"
"And," chimed in Ola, "no carnotaurs!"
Flit and Kit gladly accepted their new friends' invitation but stopped short of the exit when they saw two highly unusual figures.
"Uh, Suri," asked Flit somewhat nervously, "Who is that? What is that?"
He obviously meant the presence of Artmo Hox and the astromech droid, to which Suri said with reassurance, "Don't worry about them. They're our visitors."
"Yes," rejoined Ola, "they came here from a faraway world. And you know what else? They've been to see the Longnecks and the Great Valley, just like in the stories Eema and Baylene tell us."
That said, the two flying reptiles followed Ola and Suri to the lake where the Herd gathered.
Once there, the adults asked where the children had been. Of course the kids told the truth, that they wanted to look at the crystals in the cave. Then they heard carnotaurs deep within the opposite end.
"They can't get in here, you know," said Ola, "and Flit and Kit flew in to escape them. Can they stay with us?"
"I don't see why not," replied Plio, giving her daughter a slightly disapproving look. To Suri she said, "Next time you decide to go off exploring, please let us know. Okay?"
No mention was made of Kamura's impending visit, that is until Eema made an offhand comment that the Herd be prepared to greet their long-lost friend.
To this, Kit said, "Oh, we saw them on the way here. They just passed the desert and should be at the lake by now. Hey, that reminds me. We saw something else in the desert. Two things that look like...Well, one looked like that thing."
She pointed to R4-A9 then looked at Artmo Hox, asking, "The other one looks like you, but it's all shiny. He did something to those nasty raptors. Something that shoots fire like the mountains that blow their tops."
Flit laughed, saying, "Oh yeah! That was funny. Those raptors didn't know what hit them. I just wish those things were with us in the cave, then that carnotaur wouldn't have messed with us."
Said carnotaur was still lurking in the canyon, near the cave. The visitors were less than two days away, and the odd things Flit and Kit spoke of had just crossed the desert. Odd that the flying lizards didn't see those other visitors who, at this very moment, sped their way towards the lake.
Copyright @2006 by P.R. Parker. All Rights Reserved.