doing the right thing... (the visitor part 14) (the pack part 4)

a lot has happened, and even more has come to light, during my cousin larry's ambush visit to dunedin. my life hasn't been this turbulent or unpredictable since i was laid off from the tyrrell museum (which was apparently larry's fault!).

i currently face a HUGE problem created by larry for larry. if craig is right, and thus far all the evidence says he is, than larry's sole purpose for popping by has been to strong arm me into joining the so-called the pack of the primordial feather. a group of all the surviving coelurosaurs left in the modern world.

the problem lies in two parts. so far everyone i've talked to about this pack has built them all up to be almost as big a bunch of JERKs as larry himself. i don't really want to join a group made of such unnice or uncool dinosaurs. however on the other side larry has manipulated events (and in particular my nemesis the germ-man) so that i'm not really welcome in new zealand any more. even most of my new friends in new zealand want nothing more to do with me thanks to larry.

so where does that leave me... either i'm left with JERKs in my life or no one at all...

i needed to make a decision, and i needed to make it fast!

the reason i needed to make it fast is i had larry in tow on a walk up to a special spot i'd picked to make a point... the problem was i wasn't quite sure what that point was yet. i just knew the spot i'd picked was key... somehow... somehow it was important to solving this whole problem.

as we wandered up higher into the botanic garden i could tell larry was getting suspicious. this time yesterday he had me whipped up into a pro tyrannosaur/down with humans hysteria. so much so that when my legal guardian craig tried to help me with larry's visit i turned on him...

had craig not shown up when he did i was moments from happily joining the pack... and larry knew it. what larry couldn't figure out was my sudden distance and secrecy.

"where are you taking me cousin?" he finally grew impatient enough to break the thus far silent hike up the hill of the garden.

"to a place in the garden i know you'll like," i replied knowing it was hardly an answer, but i hadn't figured out what i was even going to do yet!

we grew close to my destination. a million thoughts were racing through my tiny brain... what if i did or didn't join the pack? what would craig think of me? what of my new promotion at the otago museum? could i make dinosaur friends in the pack? would i have to put up with larry a lot in the pack? would being in the pack help me in my quest to court lillian the albertosaur.

i could see benefits either way. the pack promised me a high profile museum job. at the same time i'd earned a slight promotion in my current job at the otago museum, and that seemed to me equally good. not because it was the most important position in the museum (in fact at moment i had no clue what my new job was...), but because i had earned it. ms. rhonwyn wasn't forced to make me her assistant. she trusted me to do... uh er... whatever is was going to get me to do...

drawing me out of the endless debate in my tiny brain as we walked by the road, a car passed by. i could see that clearly the two occupants of the car had noticed me and especially larry. they pointed and stared, and for a moment they appeared to be in wonder and awe at his majesty.

than suddenly the reality of what they were seeing hit them. i saw their faces go from excited to terror. they recalled all the bad things they'd been seeing and hearing on the news about us every night. the car swerved as far from us as it could as they passed by. clearly worried larry would repeat his attack on a car on their car...

was that what i'd be signing up for?

craig and even to an extent peter had painted a very bleak picture of pack members, but seeing the gap between larry and the modern world was the clincher!

i didn't want to wind up a lonely left over of a time gone 65 million years ago. i didn't want my existence to be soley based on the deeds and exploits of relatives who were now nothing more than permineralized bones buried in the ground or collecting dust in a museum. i wanted to live in the now, and to somehow redefine what it is to be a dinosaur. more important to be a tyrannosaur! not live with what other people think it should be, or was once upon a time...

that was something i couldn't do in larry's pack! there i'd just become one of them... a sterotypical tyrannosaur.

interrupting my fixation on this realization my "cell" phone rang... i stopped to answer it. larry didn't notice and kept walking... fortunate for me. as he'd have been really mad had he heard the brief conversation that was to come...

"traumador?" mike the librarian's voice came over the phone urgently. "you gotta hear this before you make up your mind on the pack of the primordial feather!"

i'd asked mike to look up any information he could "dig up" on the pack. i hadn't expected such a quick reply!

"the pack didn't pop up in any public records which in and of itself is weird, but when i went into section 241's (the top secret order of librarians mike is a part of... ah nuts! forget i told you that please!) archive of hidden knowledge i dredged up a whole case file!" mike urgently told me. "this is big traum. the section doesn't form case files on just anyone. especially in that archive!"

"remember how you were telling me that you thought the pack was meddling and manipulating things in the palaeontologic community. you're sources didn't even scratch the surface!" mike went on.

"what do you mean?" i whispered afraid of larry overhearing me.

"traum these guys are sorta like a dinosaur mafia. it's a tight knit family only run organization. it makes sure the family is on top in everything dinosaurian related. no matter what it takes to ensure this..."

"once your a member of the pack traum, you're not an individual anymore. you're a foot soldier for the cause. you work where they tell you to work, you hang out with who they tell you to hang out with, you mate with who they tell you to mate with, and you do the dirty work they give you," mike warned me. "and they've done a lot of dirty work in their time!"

"such as?" i asked looking all around me to make sure no one was listening in.

"well to be fair i haven't read much beyond the case file brief, but let's see...," he said as the sound of flipping paper came over the phone. "just going off some of the titles... they intervened in sue the tyrannosaur's auction somehow. uh the pack jointly forcing all tyrannosaurids to boycott starring in jurassic park 3. they've also been actively pushing for a more pro dinosaur stance in a number of circles. be they education systems, hollywood, or even some politicians!

"okay here we go..." mike said satisfied with his informational discovery. "now i'm into the more controversial stuff.

"they've forcible blackmailed or threatened several museums not to put up new dinosaur or other fossil remain displays, in favour of inferior or less popular coelurosaur exhibits. the pack has also been fighting some sort of media/cultural popularity 'cold war' with a group of south american meat eating dinosaurs. ah and this is a big recent folder..." mike groaned lifting what must have been a massive set of papers.

"the pack has systematically been undermining and sabotaging the efforts of a number of specific dinosaurs. wow there's alot of files!" mike's voice gave away just how big a folder he was looking at. "let's see if we can find out who some are... ah okay... here's some of the latest ones."

"lance lambeosaur... one grace carcharodontosaurus... wayne edmontonia... hmmm perstephanie the polacanthus... crichton kentrosaur... jade and sapphire the protoceratops... uh lillian the albertosaur... brutus brachiosaur... hogan the muttaburrasaurus... amy the amargasaurus... a sarge stegosaur... and the psittacosaur triplets... to name a just a few."

"why lillian?" i murmured to myself. the dinosaur venus, and pack was out to crush her at all costs...

"what?" mike had heard me mumble.

"why is the pack targeting all of them?" i clarified my concern at this new news. i knew why they'd targeted lillian. she hadn't joined the pack when they asked her. all these other dinosaurs, apart from the carcharodontosaur, weren't even theropods that alone coelurosaurs though! what could the pack have against them?

"well having not read any of these specifically i couldn't say exactly," mike admitted. "give me a sec."

i wasn't sure i had a "sec". up ahead of me unseen on the path i heard larry's growls of annoyance and confusion. he clearly had noticed my not being him anymore...

"okay just going off the each files brief, some of which aren't so good, i can tell you..." mike said as he speed read... when i say speed read i mean it. if mike were a superhero one of his powers is super reading!

"looks like a bunch of them tried to rat out or expose the pack. that's the edmontonia, protoceratops, and psittacosaurs in particular. the brachiosaur apparently has been a thorn in larry and the other actor pack members' sides by stressing dinosaur relations with film makers since jurassic park . they appear to doing some really covert stuff to the carcharodontosaurus it doesn't even know about, to get it to take sides on this "cold war". hmmmm interesting," mike was very puzzled by something. "the lambeosaur appears to be one of the pack's biggest adversaries, but the brief doesn't say why... other than he works for someone named paradigm."

paradigm... that name rang a bell! i just couldn't put my claw on why... i'd definitely heard it before, and i had a feeling i'd even met this person... but when? i had to be from my tyrrell days, but i wasn't sure how or why...

"i'll have to read this more in depth traum before i can tell you much more," mike confessed. "there is just one more thing i can tell you right now..."

"what?" i asked aware i was running out of time.

"well section 241 has only been able to uncover these motivations behind the packs activities, and in fact their very existence. they have a much more secret and pressing agenda than just coelurosaur domination of the museum world," mike stated.

"what is it?" i asked.

"that's the thing traum," mike replied. "no one outside the pack knows. whatever their up to, and whatever their about, beyond their methods is not known by any none coelurosaur."

though what mike told me painted an even darker picture of what i was about to do, i was very grateful to have such a good friend... especially now when i needed it most. "thank you micheal," i sincerely stated. "don't stress the details immediately. it has been a big help!"

"i appreciate the times you've help me find information when i've come at you out of the blue," i added. ahead of me i could hear larry stomping back towards me. dread tingled up and down my spine as i realized what i must do next... "if you don't hear from me after today i just want you to know how much you're help has meant to me."

"what are you talking about?" mike asked concerned. than he figured something out, and his voice grew desperate. "wait traum you're not going to accept his off..."

larry was upon me. "thanks for everything mike," i concluded. "i have to go now." i finished hanging up on what might be my last phone call from my own phone again.

"where were you?" larry demanded.

"sorry i had an important phone call. one that i had to take," i dryily answered. my whole body was null with fear at what i was about to do. "come on we're almost at my spot."

i lead larry back in the direction of where he'd come from.

we arrived in the clearing in front of the gardens aviary. how fitting that i should end up here to finish larry's visit. this was where i'd been when ben first called me to tell me of larry's arrival.

"i've been here already," larry grumbled. "what is so spectacular about it?" larry's contempt for me crept back into his voice. or maybe i just hadn't been noticing it lately out of hope that maybe he'd finally been respecting me.

"i thought be surrounded by our relatives would be a good setting for our discussion as to my future in the pack," i informed larry. out of all the thinking i'd been doing today that was all i was able to come up with even in my own mind for why i chose this spot...

larry took a menacing step closer. his 5 tonne bulk shuck the ground with a loud vibration. he glared in closer at the various birds kept in the aviary.

"their hardly worthy of being considered our relatives," larry dismissed the birds, who squawked and screamed in alarm to larry's close proximity. "their so small and pathetic. the disgusting noises of fear they make. their allowing humans to trap and enslave them. we we're made of hardier stuff than these embarrassing creatures."

for some reason hearing larry being as mean to another as he was normally to me eased my fears. in fact i suddenly felt a strange calm come about me... what was this? i was about to confront a full grown 15 metre long tyrannosaur bull... had i gone insane? or was it more than that? had larry actually awoke my dormant dinosaurian instincts?

whatever the cause my words were free of emotion or uneasiness. "is that what you think of them. small and pathetic?"

larry's head craned at me in bewilderment. i wasn't sure if he was confused as to the nature of my question or simply that i questioned him in the first place. "of course. look at them. most of them are no bigger than my toe claw."

"those words have been used to describe me before," i told him matter of fact. "when compared to other tyrannosaurs or dinosaurs in general. many have used those words to describe me, including you."

larry growled a little. i was unphased. "does that mean i'm unworthy of being considered your relative too? does that mean i'm not worthy of being considered a coelurosaur?"

"of course not cousin," larry's voice oozed of rage. "you're a tyrannosaur. one who might have a great deal of stature and wisdom to gain compared to the rest of us," he maliciously defended his past insults of me. "but we tyrannosaurs are the apex of coelurosaur evolution."

somehow my courage increased. "funny because the last time i checked larry, birds were the ultimate incarnation of the coelurosaur family, and we tyrannosaurs being the furthest from them evolutionarily are close to being unworthy of membership in the family."

"evolution is not a linear progression," larry countered his temper had gone down for some reason. i couldn't tell what it was yet. "just because birds emerged from our family line last doesn't make them superior. success does."

i bite my tongue on that last point. i wasn't here to get into an evolutionary or semantic argument with larry. birds had done far better geologically than us tyrannosaurs or any other coelurosaurs...

one thing i noted of importance. birds clearly weren't members or even eligible for membership within the pack...

larry sensed my holding back, and the hunter in him mistook this for weakness. he leaned towards me, and tried to take the initiative.

"enough," he ordered about the already ended debate. "we've delayed long enough, and i've allowed you to bring me here to this 'special place'. now i grow weary of the delays! the pack welcomes you in with open paws. go collect your things. we fly out of the country tonight to your new place."

"no," i stated defiantly.

"what do you mean no?" larry dryly replied.

"i mean no. no i'm not going to get my things. no we're not flying out of here tonight, and no i'm certainly not joining the pack," i refuted. larry's neck began to arch in anger. i added quickly. "not till you answer some very key questions."

"you and your questions," larry spat. "why can't you just do things without so many questions?!?"

"that's hardly fair larry. not all of us have an inside angle on each other like you do. i tried to ask peter bond about you, but he won't tell me anywhere near as much about you as he told you about me! if you want me to do something than i want answers," i replied straight laced.

a growl issued deep within larry's chest. just like the one he'd had when craig confronted him.
"very well," he sneered. "but only because we are family."
"why did you lie to me about your purpose of visiting?" i requested. "why did you lie and say you were filming with peter jackson?"
"how did you find out there was no movie?" larry's eye fixated on me as though he were trying to read my mind. "it was a convenient cover story to not raise your suspicions. i couldn't afford your turning me away."
"if it was so important i join the pack why not just ask me right away?" i challenged that logic.
"don't think i don't know of the friction between us cousin," he pointed out. "i knew that if i simply asked you, you'd have rejected it off claw, and i would have failed to bring into the pack."
"if you know about the friction than why do you think i'd want to join the pack if its run by you?" i asked.
larry laughed (well the tyrannosaur equivalent anyway). "you think i'm the leader of the pack? oh that's rich."
"you aren't?" i stated in shock... larry was the only dinosaur i could think of that could be that ruthless...
"no i'm not," larry replied. "so if that is your quam than let us get ready to leave. the pack is lead by my mate teresa."
teresa?!? of course! in theropods (like birds) females were the leaders, and of living coelurosaurs teresa was by far the scariest one of all!!!
i couldn't let the momentum go. larry was finally giving me real answers and information.
"if i go with you what is the 'tribute' i'd have to pay the pack?" i needed to know. craig had warned me of the pack demanding some sort of payment if i became a member. unfortunately i snapped at craig and he didn't tell me what it was. now larry was going to have to be up front with this hidden cost.
the growl returned as larry menaced over me. "who has been telling you these things?"
"no one you know," i answered truthfully. "it doesn't stop me from knowing some of the truth... what is the tribute?"
"nothing you'd miss to greatly after giving it up," larry tried to dodge answering.
i'd made a guess already based on the info mike had just given me what the 'tribute' was... but with a brain as small as mine i could have been grossly wrong in my guess. i'd already made larry angry with me again; i had nothing more to lose. "in which case consider you're tribute paid, and i'll be staying here in dunedin at the otago museum as a casual member."
"you can't do that," larry hissed.
"why not?" i naively questioned. "i wouldn't miss anything in that arrangement."
"to be a member of the pack you have to swear total loyalty to the coelurosaur cause," larry retorted.
wow i'd guessed right. "well than we have a problem," i stated.

if i thought i'd made larry angry thus far i was wrong! he leaned right in and his lips curled up further than they had when he menaced craig... his growl was more of an audible throat roar.

"what problem might that be?" larry intimidating asked.

my calm was gone. fear seeped back into my body. yet i couldn't give in. i had to make a stand. "i won't pay you that tribute."

"i beg to differ," larry growled.

"you can't," i countered with as confident a voice as i could muster. "no matter what you do to me here today you'll never get my loyalty, and you want to know why?"

larry's chest began to vibrate like a crocodile growling in water from his own current growl.

"because if there's one thing my life has taught me, it's that you have to be loyal to yourself," i quoted something i thought craig would have said. "and i am not one of you!"

i was still full of fear and dread, but something worked it's way into my voice. i wasn't sure what it was, but i grew more confident in what i said. "you came here destroying, manipulating, and discrediting my life all to try and make me like you. but you failed... and failed how!!! you know why? because that's not who i am inside!" my voice raised in volume.

"i don't destroy, manipulate, or discredit to get want i want. i try to do what's right. not even to get what i want, but because it is what i want. i want to do the right thing, period!" i stated. "you and your pack are totally the opposite of that, and i don't want anything to do with you."

"you ungrateful piece of..." larry cursed. "due you realize how patient we have been with you?!? how much we your family have been embarrassed and humiliated by your constant pathetic antics trying to "do the right thing" and exist among humans."

"you're a disgrace to us tyrannosaurs, and we're telling you it's over. your constant buffoonery and mockery of our reputation as a species makes us look weak in the eyes of our enemies... we give you the offer of a lifetime to redeem yourself, and instead you turn it down and insult us in one gesture! it ends here!" larry menaced.

"how's that?" i asked realizing where this was going to lead. i only hoped that somehow i'd redeemed myself. especially with craig...

larry's head moved closer, and he's eyes gave away his killer motivation.

"by killing me," i laughed. not out of bravery, but of sheer terror. yet i sounded very mocking and confident.

larry paused, and craned back. "what's so funny about that whelp?"

oh man! i thought i was dead. suddenly i might have a chance to live... if i could just think fast! oh brain the size of a peanut why weren't you working faster!!!

suddenly it hit me! "oh nothing," my voice unintentionally cracked. "i just wonder how your going to explain my death."

"to who?" came larry's natural response to my bluff... who indeed? i was working on it as fast as i could...

than i fixated on the one name that was still in my mind from talking to mike. when mike had said it, it conjured in my mind the memory of someone important. someone dinosaurs would know. someone larry should fear. i didn't know why. i couldn't even remember who this person was, but i was going to risk it all on simply name recognition. "paradigm."

larry's body thrust forward towards me... i expected my life to flash before my eyes like they say happens in movies as larry's great maw opened wide, and i could see straight down his bottomless insides of death...

instead of the 4000 pounds per square inch crushing down on me as i expected a deafening roar assaulted my ears... larry was death screaming at me in tyrannosaurese... just as he had craig. the message was clear. had i not just chosen to say paradigm i would have been dead as i anticipated.

"since when have you maintained contact with paradigm?" larry's voice revealed utter contempt for this paradigm person. his statement also proved that i had met paradigm. now i really wish i could remember.

"that's not your concern," i said mimicking what they'd say on TV... i just hoped larry the actor wouldn't see through my poor performance.

"had i known you were in league with paradigm and craig i would not have been so 'gentle' in my approach," larry threatened me.

"your mistake," i jeered back, but i worried i was overplaying my fake confidence.

he just stood there glaring at me. a understandable awkward silence enveloped us.

clearly this had never happened to larry before. he just stood there for minutes staring at me unsure of what to do in this case of a pack inductee refusing completely.

i decided i needed to break the stand off. partially cause i didn't know what to do in this circumstance either... kinda odd that i can sympathize with larry, but it's true. TV only shows the easy part of epic confrontations. what does one do when both sides tie?

"uh maybe you should just be going now, and catch that flight tonight," i offered.

larry reluctantly turned to do so. though i could see he was still contemplating the situation, and thinking of something. something i'm sure i wasn't going to like.

as he started to walk away he crooked his head back towards me. "this isn't over," he stated.

hmmm right when i thought that real life wasn't like TV. larry was pulling a "next time gadget!" on me?

"i'm happy that a reject little runt like you won't be part of our glorious enterprise, but the others won't see it that way. no coelurosaur has ever denied us, and their not going to let it end here," larry warned me as he walked off. "they'll do whatever it takes to get you into the pack. you'll wish you had taken my offer and joined willingly. the tribute we'll extract for this insult will be worse than anything you can imagine."

i could tell larry was telling the truth. mostly in that he was somewhat happy by these turnings of events. that i wasn't going to be part of their little coelursaur only club. that he wasn't going to have to put up with me. that i was going to be made to suffer if the pack had its way. that he was going to get to watch and savour their efforts to crush me...

this was the future i'd chosen i realized. it wasn't a happy one, but joining the pack would have been worse... far worse. i'd have been selling out.

with this new realization i taunted. "the pack couldn't do anything worse to me, than me forgetting what true coelurosaurs are supposed to be like," as i walked up to the closest bird cage and chirped at the finch within. my "tiny" "pathetic" relative, the offspring of all us saurian coelurosaurs, happily sang back at me.

larry unphased by the slight hope i flaunted in his face called back "say hello to paradigm for me. while you're at it tell the professor that he can't protect you and your adopter forever. we know his reach isn't as all encompassing like he wants us to think. when he lets his guard down for a second, you better watch your back cousin."

"in fact i'd start watching it regardless cousin. we'll be watching you like, well hawks," larry seemed to crack a joke for the first time his whole visit. "the instant we sense weakness we'll pounce."

"good day cousin," larry mockingly saluted as he disappeared behind the bush, and finally exited my life in dunedin... at least for now...

i let off a great sigh. somehow i'd survived my great gamble with larry, and the pack with my life...

yet had i?

there was so much i didn't know that i now really needed too!

i needed to find out everything i could about this pack of the primordial feather...

more to the point i needed to find out who this paradigm was, and more importantly contact him (i think him. that's how larry had addressed them anyway...)... it seemed that my well being was tied to this person, and at moment they didn't even know it.

one thing was for sure as of this point my life in new zealand was NOTHING like it had been before...

larry and the pack had set out to destroy and uproot my life so they could transplant me into themself. in that goal they'd partially succeeded. my life was in shambles. the damage may have been unsalvageable, but it was still my life!

more importantly they'd succeeded in one thing they hadn't counted on. i finally knew who i was as a tyrannosaur, and what i must do with myself in that role!

the end... i hope!

1 comment:

The Ridger, FCD said...

Oh, Traum. This is beautiful:try to do what's right. not even to get what i want, but because it is what i want.

And you're not alone! if no one else, Lilian also refused to join. now you have something in common with her!

Hang in there, Traumador!