This story is dedicated to Markus who suggested the crossover and helped in the story's development. Enjoy!
Where are you now? Now is the time to strike. The Tasous are heading for the cave, so are a few of those creatures. Take care as these animals are great in size and weight. They are – if provoked – able to crush you with one mighty step. Blast them if you must. Now, wait for my signal. I will need the time to convince the fugitive Jedi to exit the cave into the canyon...No, better yet, why not come to the Nesting Grounds yourself. Take them all by surprise...
I just entered the canyon. By my estimates I should be at cave's mouth before sunset. There are predators lurking nearby; I've tracked them since leaving the lake. Perhaps you should lure the Jedi outside or, I could allow the predators access to this Nesting Grounds...
HK nearly sent another reply but couldn't as someone came up from behind and snapped a restraining bolt to his neck.
"I knew you would prove traitorous to your master, HK," said Artmo. "I've sensed your betrayal ever since you arrived. The bolt will prevent any autonomous actions. Now, hand over the comlink."
The droid couldn't hedge now; the restraining bolt saw to that. Once that bolt is in place, a droid had to obey no matter what. No freely moving about or talking.
Handing the comlink to Master Hox, HK knew he'd been beat, but he bided his time. Before sunset Len Targ will be on the other side of that rock wall; before nightfall the Jedi will be dead and HK will be free. As for the dinosaurs, who cared if they lived or died. If any of those beasts gets in the way, he and Len will dispatch them with blasters.
"HK," said Hox, "You are to remain here for the duration. In the meantime, R2 will replay a recording of your misdeeds. Oh yes, thank Sarama and the lemur Zini for alerting me of your secret communications with the bounty hunter Len Targ. Not to worry, for we will intercept Targ before he does any damage."
As soon as Artmo Hox left, HK, now rooted to the very spot which served as his hiding place, cursed his luck. He couldn't even think on his own, so devising a way out of this mess was next to impossible.
"Problem, Artmo? We saw you with that HK thing, so we wondered if he's up to no good."
Mac the styracosaur and Xander sat under the trees, watching Master Hox deal with a wayward HK-47. Well, the droid was not exactly wayward; it was just in his programming not to have morals or a conscience. There was no qualms over his actions not matter how heinous. He was programmed to kill and nothing more...However, he was, recently, re-tooled to betray at any cost. This Artmo Hox sensed as he rejoined his friends.
"The others must not disturb HK in any way. I've placed a restraining bolt, so he shouldn't be a problem. The bad part is his treachery has already set things in motion."
"Restraining bolt?," asked Xander. "What is that?"
Artmo replied, "A device to restrain – literally – a droid. It renders him completely obedient. He will not do or say anything without his master's permission. I know Kirel may not be happy that I did this to HK, but it's for his own good, and Marbe's."
Then Artmo Hox thought of something: What if Len Targ does decide to invade the Nesting Grounds and bring a carnotaur with him? Hmm...Strange rumblings in the Force suggest a plan to keep the Herd and Tasous safe...
"Gentlemen," he said, "I have a special assignment for you. That is, if you're game. It may involve a certain amount of danger, but if you discard you fear, you just might be able to prevent certain disaster to your Herd."
"What kind of danger?," asked Mac with some concern.
Master Hox explained, "A bounty hunter named Len Targ, sent, no doubt, by Emperor Palpatine to kill the Tasous and me, is on his way here. The ongoing Jedi Purge is still very much with us but not for long, as I sense a great triumph over the dark side of the Force. Now, please keep this to yourselves as I don't want to start a widespread panic. Here is my plan..."
She watched the Holonet images emanating from R4-A9. She wanted to blink as if shaking the images displayed as sheer nonsense, a mere fantasy. No, this is, according to Eema, all too real. There, in stunning detail, as vivid as life, was the fabled Great Valley, home of another herd of legend.
"How...Why...How is this done? This is all so very new," said Kamura, her eyes never averting from the images.
"These humans from another world must be that advanced to have all this. Imagine, pictures that move, and from life! Is that really the Longneck family? And is that the one they called Thicknose? How incredible!"
"Yes," said Eema. "Marbe and Kirel's daddy came to this planet in the time of the Great Valley. All those stories passed down through the ages are not mere legend. They were as real as you and me."
The old ceratopsian turned to R4, saying, "Okay, little guy, we've seen enough. Now run along and find Plio. Tell her we need her here, pronto!"
R4-A9 beeped and nodded – or what looked as nodding – then wheeled around and sped off to find Plio.
Eema laughingly said, "That little guy is something else. I know he takes some getting used to, like the kid's little droid R2-T7, but they've been wonderful."
Turning back to face Kamura, Eema grew serious. Now was her chance to convince Kamura to reveal herself as Aladar's birth mother. He may or may not take the news well, but Eema was banking on the former reaction. Surely he would understand his mother's circumstances, and the case of mistaken outcomes that sent the lady iguanodon into a deep depression that lasted nearly two decades.
Trying to draw comparisons between the Tasous and Kamura's circumstances, Eema hoped to persuade Kamura to do the right thing. In the face of adversity there is always a way out, even if it means to swallow pride and forget about "saving face."
"Master Hox," began Eema, "told us much about his home world. How conflicting parties brought the entire galaxy to the brink of war. And that war happened, Kamura. Ricar Tasou, long after he visited our planet, the Great Valley, married and had his children. But things happened, such as a missing Artmo Hox. I suppose the kids filled you in on what happened to their father."
Kamura nodded, replying, "Yes, they did. So sad to lose a parent – or any family member. Go on, tell me more."
"Well," continued Eema, "their mother, Belma, kept a set of pictures almost like the ones you just saw. Only these were of Ricar's lessons for the children to train in ways of the Force. See, Kamura, there was evil all about, and the Emperor – the old devil – ordered every Jedi killed. Don't ask me why, but he did it. So Belma hid her children for many years, away from those who wanted them dead. Only when the kids grew up did Belma make things right by arranging their escape. She did what a mother could only do – Save her children. Didn't matter if she died in the end; at least her kids would be safe."
Kamura thought it over. So, Marbe and Kirel came here to escape a madman's clutches. Their mother died protecting them, and she kept their father's memoirs safe until the time was right...
Like when I tried to protect my nest that day. I should have let that carnotaur kill me. At least my unborn children would have had a fighting chance. No, the monster had to smash them...But what if he didn't? What if one did survive...
"Aladar," she muttered under her breath.
"What is that, Kamura?," asked Eema.
"Eema, when I returned to my nest that day, all the eggs were smashed. All this time I believed all my unhatched children died, but of late I've had these strange visions and dreams. A human named Ben told me one egg survived, but it was stolen from the nest, long before I returned. That child is alive, Eema, and lives here in the Nesting Grounds. Tell me the truth, Eema, is Aladar my son?"
Eema, not one to mince words, flatly replied, "Yes, Kamura. He is your son. But before you go off and tell him, there's something you should know. See, the lemurs are the only family Aladar has ever known. He regards Plio as his mother; he hatched in her arms. And they, despite the jarring differences, raised him as one of them. When he came along after the Fireball, when Kron kept at us so, we found his ways so unlike ours. No one ever stopped to help us misfits stuck in the back. No one ever showed the least concern over who got left behind or who should get that first drink of water. Aladar has breathed new life into the Herd. We're happier than we've been in years, and we get along better. So, as soon as Plio gets here, we'll try to find a way to break it to him gently. Should be quite a shock for him to learn the lady who gave him life is alive and well."
At first, Kamura didn't want to tell Aladar, not just yet. She had to get confirmation he was the one, and that came in the form of two flying lizards and a pternadon, the latter who nearly had that egg for dinner.
They stopped just short of the cave when Plio and R4 found them. Something highly important had just come up, and the Herd needed to gather.
"What's up, Plio?," asked Aladar. "What is so important?"
The lemur matriarch replied, "I don't know. Eema had R4 fetch me, then told me to gather the Herd. She says Kamura has something to say to you, and others need to be present. Delsie, Kit and Flit...They're needed as well."
Aladar sighed, saying, "But I was going to show Anakin where we buried Bruton. Can it wait?" Plio shook her head. "No, it can't. At least that is what Eema said."
Anakin understood, and he had a feeling Kamura was about to tell Aladar the truth. So, she's finally gathered the courage to tell her son she's his birth mother. After all these years she's coming clean. Wonder what made her change her mind?
"Aladar," he said, "we can do this some other time. After all, we're settling here permanently, so it's no big rush. I can see my brother's tomb later. Right now, the Herd comes first."
An alarm had to be sounded to call the Herd, but their official clarion, Sarama, was not present. Where was she? In the cave with Marbe, explained Suri and Ola.
"Mama said she wanted to show Marbe the crystals, and tell her something about her future. I think Mama's going to tell her about the music we've been hearing, too."
"Then," said Aladar, "we'll let them be. Right now...Hadron, could you do the honors?"
Sarama's mate gladly obliged with a resounding bellow that could be heard all over the valley. While not as loud or shrill as Sarama's, Hadron's call did the job, and every Herd member immediately responded. The only ones who did not hear it were deep in the cave. No matter, for most of the Herd was present.
At the lake they gathered, right where Eema and Kamura sat.
"Where's my sister?," asked Kirel who just arrived with Yar and Xander.
"In the cave with Mama," said Ola. "They're looking at the crystals. Come on, we got to find Kit and Flit."
"We're here, Ola," said a fluttering Kit, "and Delsie's on her way, too."
Aladar surveyed the Herd. Well, most were here, save two or three. It really didn't matter since whatever important announcement will be spread about via the Herd grapevine. He still had no idea what was so important, and all Plio could tell him was, "Ask Eema and Kamura. They called this meeting."
He turned to Eema, asking, "All right, Eema. What's up? Why did you call us here?"
Eema looked at Aladar then to Kamura and Anakin. She took a deep breath then nudged Kamura. It's now or never, no hedging, no fooling around. It's serious.
"Aladar," said the elderly styracosaur, "do you remember Sarama's recount of Baylene's family history? And do you remember Glennis telling us about an egg her mother fished out of the river? She brought it all the way to the island only to lose it. That egg landed in the forest, in the midst of the lemurs. It hatched in Plio's arms...You, honey. You were that egg. Now, before you say anything else, hear us out. We've got witnesses of an egg theft, and that happened long ago. So let Kamura and the others explain what happened. Once you piece it together–"
Kamura interrupted, "Eema, don't do this for me. I prefer to do it my way."
She looked at Aladar squarely in the eyes and, without flinching, said, "That stolen egg was mine, Aladar. I am your mother."
Copyright @2006 by P.R. Parker. All Rights Reserved.