Dinosaur Armageddon vol. 1: Vengeful Promise

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: House of Ghosts

Chapter 9 (v.1) - Chapter 9

Submitted: October 12, 2018

Reads: 187

Comments: 2

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Submitted: October 12, 2018

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Vincent lowered himself to the ground, placing his hand into the footprint. “What do you make of this, Walter?”

Walter squatted down next to him, his eyes behind his mask staring at the track. It was the middle of the day and the sun was blazing down. Vincent and Walter were deep in the forest some distance from the river. The two of them had been on the move after dawn. It wasn’t until now did they find something interesting: fresh trackways made by a whole herd of large animals.

“Hmm,” Walter said. “Let’s see. Four toes on each foot, quadruped stance, weighing about seven-maybe eight tons, obviously some kind of herbivore.” He stood up straight. “I think we’re looking at an example of a ceratopsian dinosaur.”

Vincent rose from the ground. “It must be a big one, too,” he said, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. He looked all around, seeing the numerous footprints. “How many do you think there are?”

Walter gazed at the tracks for a moment, calculating as if counting in his head. “I’d like to say six, maybe seven individuals,” he answered. “Adults and juveniles.”

Vincent’s eyes followed the tracks. They seemed to be heading to the east. Some of the low-lying vegetation was either snapped or crushed. It was exciting; trying to identify which species had made the tracks. This gave Vincent and Walter a thrill.

In the near distance, Vincent heard a series of bellows and roars. Some kind of commotion, as if some animals were dogging each other.

“What was that?” Walter said, the amber lenses on his mask reflecting from the sunlight.

Vincent smiled. “Only one way to find out for sure.” He lifted his backpack and shouldered it on to his back. He watched as a bird swiftly flew above him, chirping, it’s wings a bold blur. “Let’s follow this trackway and find the source.”

 

And so they followed the path made by the large animals. With each passing moment, Vincent could hear the roars and cries of the dinosaurs nearby. And in all that time, Vinny began to wonder once again if there was even a slight possibility that there might be other human survivors. It sounded crazy. He and Walt hadn’t seen any other human beings for over five years. It seemed that there was not even a chance that other humans had managed to live as long as Vinny and Walt.

He remembered talking to Walter about it a few days back late in the afternoon. They were sitting on the ground, resting from a long day of traveling.

“Do you honestly think that there are more survivors?” Vincent asked. “Other people?”

Walt lifted his chin thoughtfully, his face looked puzzled behind his mask, as if trying to think what he was going to say or solve a math problem. His gray eyes were narrowed behind the amber colored lenses.

After another moment, a brief one, Walt finally spoke. “Let’s think about this logically. Dinosaurs were the most successful animals to ever walk the planet. The lived on every continent, including Antarctica. They remained unchallenged for over one hundred sixty million years ago. If not for the cataclysmic events that rendered themselves to extinction, humans wouldn’t have even evolved.

“Now, somehow, the dinosaurs have returned to the planet, completely unchanged for millions of years, and in less than five years, they have conquered the world all over again. Civilizations were destroyed, people slaughtered, even our own military couldn’t stop them; there are just too many animals.

“So your point is…?” Vinny said.

“I think that the chances of there being other living people are slim to none,” Walt replied, his face grim. “Chances are, we are the last of our species. But humans are a hardy race. We face many obstacles in our lives, but none more so than the fact that our extinction is inevitable. All animals eventually die out, even we can’t stop our own fate. If there are other survivors, then it would have to be a hell of a miracle.”

They didn’t say another word for the rest of the day.

 

Vincent bit his lip thoughtfully, the question was still nagging at his brain. He heard the words, but he still didn’t quite want to believe it. There had to be more survivors. Maybe not in Georgia, or in the country, or even on the continent, but maybe there were a few survivors in other places of the world.

A hell of a miracle, huh? he thought to himself.

Suddenly, Vinny could hear loud roars and bellows. His head snapped to attention as he was yanked back into the present. Walter stretched his arm in front of Vinny’s chest. “Hold it,” he said, his voice firm, but Vinny heard the excitement in his voice. “Look, over there! to the right!”

Vinny looked around, following the source of the commotion. What he saw took his breath away.

A small herd of dinosaurs.

These animals must’ve been at least twenty-five feet or more, and weighing eight tons. They looked a lot like rhinos. Two long curved horns sprouted about their eyes, each on at least a meter long each. A smaller horn was mounted on it’s long snout. Its mouth was a beak that reminded Vinny of a parrot. On the back of the dinosaurs skull was a fan-shaped frill with small, squat looking spikes along the rim. They walked on all four, rhino-like legs. Their thick hides were blue. Gray stripes outlined in white stretched across their backs, frills, and around their eyes. Their underparts were golden yellow. The skin looked like the surface of a football. A single row of short, quill-like plumes ran along the animals’ tails.

Two of the dinosaurs were a few yards away from the rest of the group, which watched them intently and hardly moving or making a sound, circling and snorting at each other.

Triceratops horridus,” Vincent said, his voice wistful.

“Damn right,” Walt said.

Vinny looked at Walter; he saw his friend look around, then his face lit up and he pointed to a cluster of trees and shrubs. “Let’s head over there,” he said. “We can do some research while we hide in the brush.”

Vinny nodded and followed Walt as he briskly made his way to the undergrowth, never taking his eyes off of the herd. These animals were absolutely beautiful. Vinny had only seen Triceratops in books and museums, but up until today, he had never seen the live animal itself. These creatures seemed to radiate a certain feeling of pride and power.

Amazing, he thought. Simply amazing.

They approached the greenery and squatted down. As they watched the dinosaurs, Vinny’s mind started to race. Triceratops horridus. Three-horned face, large ceratopsian, herbivore, Late Cretaceous.

“Any observations?” Walt asked silently.

Vinny nodded, looking at each individual animal. “I see two adult males--the ones circling each other,, three adult females on the sidelines, a younger male, and four juveniles. A total of ten animals altogether.”

Vinny turned his attention back to the two large males, who were still circling. Vinny noticed that their frills had changed colors that were more vivid than what he saw before. They turned bright orange flaring green and black spots that looked like diamond-shaped eyes. The rim of the frill turned bright red. Vinny also noticed that they each of their frills had faint scratch scars. The two males snorted, grunted, and shook their heads aggressively.

Their flushing color into their frills, he thought. Aggressive behavior. They’re trying to intimidate one another. I think we’re about to see a fight.

The two Triceratops stopped circling, facing each other, still flaring their neck frills. Clouds of dust blew from the dinosaurs’ breath. They pawed at the ground, kicking up more dirt. One of the dinosaurs bellowed and charged, the other responded the same way. They quickly closed the gap, abruptly stopping a few feet from each other, starting to shake their heads again and huffing.

It must be a mock charge, Vinny thought. To see if one animal will back down.

Of course, neither of them backed away. The fight was on. The two animals bellowed and charged.

This time, however, they collided head on. The huge animals looked horns and began to push and shove. Their horns clacked as they clashed, Vinny could hear the Triceratops groan and growl with effort. They each tried to push each other back. Their powerful muscles rippled under their pebbled skin. The plumes on their tails flopped limply with each thrust. Their feet and tails left shallow drag marks on the ground. One of the  dinosaurs thrusted its head upwards, briefly breaking free from the other dinosaur’s horns. They quickly rammed into each other again, their horns leading away, clacking. Vinny noticed fresh, shallow scratches appeared on both of their frills.

So the shallow scratches on the fossilized frills were made by other members of their kind, Vinny thought. The dinosaurs roared in aggression. Vinny wondered how long this battle would last. This fight was quite a spectacle; it’s not everyday you get to witness interspecies combat between two male Triceratops. It was quite amazing and suspenseful.

Apparently not for very long. One of the bulls jerked it’s head to the side violently.

CRACK!

It was a sickening sound; loud and dry. One backed away from the other, barking and howling in agonizing pain. Vinny saw the source of the Triceratops’ sudden pain: the left horn above its eye was completely broken off, dangling from it’s spot before falling off to the ground. Vinny could see the bright red flesh that had once been attached to the dinosaur’s head.

“Aw, sick,” Walt said. “That’s just nasty.”

Vinny didn’t face him; he watched as the wounded bull lumbered away, shaking his head and still barking, the victor roaring and huffing in triumph. The champion snorted and then made his way back to the females and the juveniles, his frill slowly fading back to its original colors..

“We know that the horns of Triceratops are made of keratin, the same material our fingernails and hair are made of,” he said. “So a chipped or a slightly broken horn can grow back, but a horn that is completely broken clean off, it won’t grow back, kinda like an ingrown toenail.”

“This means that that bull won’t be competing for females or territory ever again,” Walter concluded.

Vinny glanced at his friend, who was looking back at him, grinning. “That was sight to behold, seeing two large herbivores clash on another.”

Vinny smiled. “Totally.”

Suddenly, Vinny heard the cry of one of the ceratopsians. He returned his gaze to the small group. The lead male was calling out loudly to the rest of the group. It slowly but purposefully away from the wounded bull, the females and the younger animals following him close together in a loose bunch. Vinny noticed the younger animals were surrounded by the adults on all sides, as if to form a barrier. The dinosaurs sniffed, their heads raised, alert.

What’s going on? Vinny thought.

He turned his gaze back to the injured Triceratops. Blood from the wound rolled down the side of its face and dripped onto the ground. It moaned weakly in obvious pain it’s head hanging low. Vinny felt sorry for the poor creature; a proud and beautiful animal brought down.

Then he heard it: the loud crack of a branch snapping. The ground vibrated slightly.

Vinny looked around, but he didn’t see anything. That was when the stench came. It started faint, but it rapidly grew more intense. Vinny covered his nose, trying to block the smell. It reeked of rotten flesh with a slight sweet-sour smell of blood.

What is that smell?! he thought.

A dark shape flashed in the corner of Vinny’s eye. He turned his head and saw a huge animal, hiding not far away from the injured Triceratops. Vinny could make out a body rippling with muscles, a huge head, and two powerful hind legs.

The dark shadow lunged, charging its way to the Triceratops. The animal itself was over forty feet long and fifteen feet tall. Its body was covered in a fine down, black and had a gray underbelly and stripes on it’s back and tail bands. Its neck feathers were deep red, like blood. Its huge skull was iridescent red. It had deep black eye spots around it’s blazing yellow eyes and a black patch on the sides of its snout. Its jaws were bristling with numerous sharp, thick, serrated teeth. Its arms were tiny and had only two short fingers on each hand.

There was no mistaking what this creature was.

Tyrannosaurus rex, Vinny thought, gazing at the terrifying monster.

The Triceratops turned it’s head, facing the massive theropod barreling towards it. Too slow. The carnivore opened it’s powerful jaws and bit down into the Triceratops’ back. Its teeth sank deep into the prey’s back, blood bursting from the wounds. The Triceratops howled in pain and struggled, attempting to break free from the predator’s jaws.

Finally, the Triceratops yanked itself out of the T. rex’s mouth. Blood rolled down it’s sides from the wound on its spine. It was in apparent agony, but it faced the attacker and flushed color into its frill, shaking its skull and showing off it’s tail plume.

But the Tyrannosaurus saw through the bluff, obviously not intimidated. It took a menacing step forward, snarling, blood dripping from its huge teeth. It pawed at the ground, its clawed toes leaving three shallow marks on the ground. It slammed its tail on the ground, shaking the ground. It roared a battle cry. It was a nightmarish cry, like a raging hellfire. A loud, monstrous sound that was not from this world that froze the blood and chilled the bones of all living things.

Vinny snuck a glance at Walt. His eyes were glued to the fight, watching intently and taking the scene, as if watching a teacher take notes. Vinny could see a bead of sweat roll down his face from his brow.

Vinny turned his head back to the battle. This has to be quite a spectacle to see, he thought. Seeing the most common dinosaur battling pair in combat right before your eyes.

Finally, the Triceratops lunged, roaring and sprinting full speed ahead. Vinny watched the muscles under its thick hide flex and pull as it ran.

But the Tyrannosaurus was ready. At the last minute, it dodged the attack. What happened next seemed to move in slow motion. The Triceratops rushed past the tyrannosaur. It tried to turn around, but the predator raised its head, turned it around, surged forward, and clamped it’s maw around the thick neck.

The Triceratops roared in pain. It tried to muscle it’s way out, but this time, the monster’s jaws held true, like a vice. The teeth sank deeper and deeper, more blood gushing out from the punchers. It’s resistance was futile.

Vinny heard a loud, sickening crack and crushing sound. The Triceratops suddenly went limp with a whimper. The predator paused for a brief moment before setting the Triceratops back down to the ground.

That thing just broke the Triceratops’ neck, Vinny thought, and possibly crushed the spinal cord.

The Tyrannosaurus sniffed the carcass, ropes of bloody drool dripping from its mouth. It was at that moment when Vinny noticed something about this animal: it was covered in scars. It’s face, snout, jaws, neck, sides, flank, and underbelly were covered with scars that were once lacerations, stabbing wounds, or bite marks that were different sizes. There were even a few tiny, fresh wounds on some parts of its body that had turned into scabs.

Vinny had read many articles about tyrannosaurs. Many fossilized remains of dinosaurs from the tyrannosaur family showed signs of injures made by other dinosaurs and even their own kind. This suggested that tyrannosaurs led dangerous lives, between tackling dangerous prey and often fighting each other for territory and were covered in battle scars as a result.

Although Vinny had never seen a living Tyrannosaurus until now, he believed that this one in particular had been in numerous competitions. This animal also seemed to radiate some kind of aura; an unquenchable thirst for violence and blood. A truly horrific predator with no natural enemies or fear.

“Holy shit,” Walt said in a hushed voice. “That was incredible.”

Vinny nodded. The battle may have been quick, but it was a sight to behold. Vinny realized that his heart was hammering in his chest. He wondered how long it had been doing that.

He watched as the dinosaur move to the front of the corpses head. The animal rumbled faintly, looking down at the body. It looked at the skull from all sides, turning its massive head left and right, as if to inspect it. Then it slowly made its way back to the side of the carcass, reared up, and placed a huge foot onto the body’s back. It bent down and bit down into the frill of the corpse and began to pull on it.

Vinny could hear gross crunching and tearing as the rex pulled the skull. The bones popped and the flesh ripped rapidly, like a tree falling down. The theropod pulled and pulled, powerful muscles bulging and flexing.

Then, with a loud, sickening sound, the T .rex ripped the Triceratops’ head right off.

Vinny nearly vomited as he watched blood dripped from the stump that once connected to the rest of the animal pool on the forest floor, ragged strings of red muscle and flesh hanging from it. The powerful stench Vinny smelled earlier had intensified. It was clearly emanating from the rex.

Vinny remembered reading other articles about how Tyrannosaurus ate Triceratops. Fossilized skulls of a few Triceratops showed puncture marks that dragged across. These were inflicted by a T. rex. These animals decapitated Triceratops in order to get the flesh behind the neck where that was hard to get to behind the frilled head.

It was gruesome and nightmarish, but it worked.

Vinny watched as the dinosaur ripped off a lump of flesh, its mouth soaked and painted with dark red blood. He could smell the stench of blood and the rotting breath of the theropod. It lifted its massive head and swallowed the meat whole, its skull bobbing and its jaws working.

 “We should leave,” Walter said quietly. “We’re downwind. He might be busy tearing the Triceratops carcass, but he could attack us as well if he picks up our scent.”

Vinny nodded, looking back at Vinny. “Okay. Let’s move, quickly. Be as quiet as possible.”

The two bent down low and moved away from the tyrannosaur as it continued to devour the body.

 

Vinny couldn’t wipe the smile off of his face. This was very exciting: he and Walt had found undeniable proof that Tyrannosaurus were both hunters and scavengers. Oh, what he wouldn’t give for a computer to publish his findings. A major debate about the most powerful predator on land had finally been solved.

Of course, they had only seen it the one time. He would have to see more examples of T. rex hunting their prey. It might take a while, though. Up until now, he had never seen a Tyrannosaurus. Chances are, the nearest rex was probably many kilometers away. Large predators need large territories and intense competition for hunting grounds were common place. Not to mention there are a lot more prey animals than predators.

Vinny and Walt made there way through the forest. All was calm and still. Vinny could tell that Walt was very excited about their find.

“I have to say, that was a sight to behold,” Walt said, his face masked with a grin. “A clash between a T. rex and a Triceratops. That is definitely something you don’t see everyday.”

“Indeed,” Vinny said, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “With this discovery, we could easily end the predator-scavenger debate. Sadly, we have no way to publish our findings, let alone have an audience.”

“It is quite depressing, but still, we now know the hunting habits of tyrannosaurs.” Walt brushed his green hair back. “Still, I feel bad for the Triceratops. It seemed like an unfair fight, seeing that it lost a horn.”

Vinny didn’t say it out loud, but he felt the same way. He then remembered the scars that were scattered across the carnivore’s thick skin. It seemed that, even if the Triceratops had all of its horns, it would still be the rex’s next meal.

Suddenly, Walt stopped. Vinny halted next to him and saw the stricken look on his face, like he just saw a cat with its claws aimed for his face. Five words escaped his throat:

“WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!


© Copyright 2020 Tyrannos Senpai. All rights reserved.

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