"Honestly, I could throttle that stylist at Jenny's salon. Why he insisted on this 60's flip...I look like...Well, the last time I saw a hairdo like this it was getting Richie a cupcake."
Madeline Tasou paused long enough to glance at her reflection in a shallow
pond. There she got a good look at that stylist's handiwork. Her long dark hair
fashioned in a 1960-ish flip, the bangs combed to the side and the whole held in
place with pinkish headscarf.
"Since you'll most likely see some action," he said that day at the salon, "your hair can't get in your face and waving all about."
Okay, so she seemed to obsess too much about the hair which otherwise looked
rather good, even if she did resemble Laura Petrie as Jedi. The real reason she's
here at all is to make contact with those dinosaurs and convince them to relocate to
"And I only have three days to do it! That's what Ozma and Glinda said. I believe it can be done on my end, but what if the dinosaurs don't bite? What if they flatly refuse to come with me, let alone believe I am their long-lost child reborn?"
She sat on a low rock formation, surveying her surroundings. Just a few steps away, across the pass, lay the Great Valley. Said pass would be, according to Ozma, safe as the big predators cannot get through. The other way into the valley was blocked by the dinosaurs themselves for their own safety.
With a sigh, Maddie gathered what few belongings she was allowed to take, all
stuffed into a small satchel. Naturally, she had the lightsaber which was neatly
tucked into her belt loop. In the bag were several curious items given to her by
Glinda. One was a small Holoprojector onto which was stored images and sounds of Oz
and much more. Maddie would need this to help her dinosaur family understand all
things Oz, and to help break that initial ice with the children. There was a small
golden box which Glinda said could come in handy if Maddie should need a few
creature comforts during her three days in the Great Valley. What comforts this box
contained was never detailed; Maddie would simply wish for something and it would
appear. Also in that bag were the usual provisions: a canteen for water, protein
bars, and a handful of grooming items (toothbrush, comb, etc.).
For this mission, and since such was not needed, Maddie wore precious little jewelry. Just tiny golden stud earrings and a thin gold chain necklace from which suspended a single pink pearl. Glinda said the pearl was magical though its powers were never revealed. That pearl would protect Madeline at a most crucial moment.
Maddie secured the bag onto the shoulder strap then began walking down that
pass. Such a trek, according to Charlie and the Wizard, could be made quickly for a
large sauropod, long strides and all. For a human it would take an hour, give or
take a few minutes.
The walk wasn't all that strenuous, quite pleasant actually. Most of the way was downhill; it was navigating that last step that proved daunting. She paused to gauge the distance, then, with a terrific Force jump, she sailed through the air with ease, landing just a few feet from the bottom. From there it was easy to access the Valley.
"Whew, that was easier than I thought," she said in a relieved whisper. From where she stood the Great Valley was now in full view.
How gorgeous is this place! All vast and verdant. Plentiful water everywhere –
the lake, waterfalls, a generous river running the entire length of the valley. Deep
forests, expansive meadows bursting with colorful flowers, and of course, dozens of
dinosaur herds. What a joy to see these ancient creatures in the flesh, the very
animals Madeline had only seen either as pictures in her science textbooks or in the
She scanned the herds, trying to deduce which one was her family. Not an easy task because there were so many of varied types. Naturally, her Jurassic kin were apatosauruses, so she scanned again, her eyes settling on an elderly couple grazing by the lake. In her heart, she knew they had to be the ones.
"But will they remember me?"
Instead of barging in, Madeline decided to hang back, rest some, then devise
some way to make herself known. Somehow she would have to approach the young ones
first. That's what Pat advised before she left Oz.
"Go to the young'uns first, especially Spike and his sister Ducky," said the wise old Longneck who once lived in the Great Valley long ago, at the kids' invitation. He settled in quite nicely, even, by chance, meeting at last a long lost love. How sad to lose this lady so soon after the wedding, and that lady Longneck was Littlefoot's aunt, his mothers sister. So deep in grief, Pat left the valley, wandering here and there in the Mysterious Beyond until, by accident – or was it? – he found that tunnel which led him straight to Oz.
All right, so I'll seek out the children, make friends with them. Pat said they're very friendly, and quite resourceful. From Pat's stories, those kids must have strong Force abilities, and even Ricar Tasou's memoirs bear out that fact.
It was still quite early in the morning, just a couple hours past dawn. Maddie
knew she would have today, tomorrow and the day after to accomplish her mission.
Just how to approach those kids first weighed on her mind. Going with her
first instinct, she hung back, hidden within the shade and cover of the thicket. No
good to be detected right away. Sipping on water and nibbling one of those food
bars, Maddie wished for something special. She took out the magic box then the
Holoprojector. With a shrug, she took a chance then whispered, "I wish for a cup of
Miraculously, a dainty Coalport cup, all delicate white porcelain rimmed in silver, sprung from the box. Smiling, she said, "Well, how about that? I really shouldn't indulge myself, but it's just a cup of tea."
Then she activated the Holoprojector, touching those controls that produced recorded music. How delightful! Boccherini's famous minuet played while colorful lights danced about. Sitting back, Maddie enjoyed the music and tea, so enraptured that she almost didn't hear a faint rustling in the bushes.
Gulping the remains of tea, the cup vanishing as quickly as it materialized, Madeline glanced about, asking, "Who's there?"
Now it couldn't be predators, what the plant eaters here call Sharpteeth; they couldn't access the Valley anyway. The only other predators that could get in would be velicoraptors – Fastbiters – or oviraptors, the egg thieves. This was not the case as whatever made that noise finally showed his face.
"Hi," he said in a friendly tone, "my name's George. What's yours?"
Back in Oz, in Emerald City, Jenny Jump spent the early morning prepping the
Style Shop for another day's business. Seeing that she had a nice one-hour window
until opening, Jenny went upstairs to her private living quarters. There she could
relax, have breakfast, and maybe catch up on her email on OzNet. Unlike the Internet
of the Great Outside World, Oz's sole ISP was worm, spam, and virus-proof, lightning
fast, and totally free.
Upon approaching the living room door, she swore she heard an audible tapping, as if someone was typing on her laptop. She paused just outside the door and peered in. Sure enough, Jenny could see her desk and the open laptop. On the keyboard was a huge Cecropia moth merrily typing away, only as any insect could. Jumping around on the keyboard, pausing momentarily as if it gathered its thoughts or to check a misspelling. The great moth, its large gray, crescent-moon spotted wings gently flapping, typed away, totally oblivious to the fact it was spied upon.
Jenny, with her fairy eye, peered closely at this insect, wondering why it was there at all. Though it wasn't uncommon for Ozites to communicate with many Oz fauna. it was just too strange, suspicious even, for any creature in Oz not to make itself known, perhaps make conversation face to face. But this bug...
Jenny Jump almost jumped in surprise; she instantly clasped her hands over her
mouth to prevent the sudden gasp. This was no ordinary moth, totally out of its
nocturnal element; Jenny, through her magical fairy eye, knew who this moth
The insect completed its task then made a hasty exit out the open window. Immediately, Jenny went to the window and watched the moth flutter hurriedly out of sight. She then sat at her desk, opened the message left and began reading. Now Jenny Jump could let that gasp escape, and she wondered why she, above Ozma, the Wizard, or Glinda, was chosen to be trusted with such damaging, revealing information.
That message, in part, read:
At this moment, you are the only one I can trust with this. I can't tell Ozma, yet, so I'm telling you. Please keep this message in a safe place.
I knew you spied on me, and I know you now know my true identity. Please read very carefully as it has much to do with the invasion, Madeline Tasou, Kaliko, the Jedi, the dinosaurs, the whole bit. What Ozma suspected is true, and one of my misdeeds is coming your way, in a package. Please, please secure this item until it's time to bring it out. Another of my misdeeds is also coming to Oz. I can't tell but one of that group has pretty much figured it out.
I hate what I did, so let me back up, to when my family, out of desperation, had to split up. It wasn't long after the Ozlection, after those visitations from long dead Jedi began. Someone approached me, got me entangled with Kaliko, then the horror began...
Someone else is coming to Oz, a person connected to one of our recent arrivals. I went to her months ago while Maddie began Jedi training. I told her everything, and she's coming here to reclaim what's rightfully her family's...
Lastly, be on the lookout for someone who isn't quite who he or she seems. I got the lowdown from Varan who witnessed Kaliko do the unthinkable...I'll be around, but please make sure those dinosaurs get here at once. The whole future of Oz depends on it.
Jenny Jump wept as she read the confession. It was all there, and though Jenny
so wanted to share with Ozma, now was not the time. The entire situation was that
Closing the laptop, Jenny wailed out loud, the tears pouring down her cheeks, "My God, Sirenna, what have you done? How and why could someone use you so cruelly?"
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