I have difficulty finding a word to express what I am feeling at the current moment. There are too many options.
My hope had been to protect Crate 14 from the Pack[of the Primordial Feather]'s enemies. Instead I have now ended up with not one, but as many as three of these enemies all actively trying to interfere with the project!
Making this incredibly stressful situation all the more unbearable has been the never ceasing presence of Desdemona Deinonychus, my self-inflicted accomplice. She has clung to me the last week like a fresh hatchling, unable to fend for herself. I normally find her unbearable, but this new defeated Desdemona has me yearning for her "old" arrogant and insufferable self I'd some how lost.
I understand defeat is something a hunter [hunter=warrior or soldier in pack lingo] like Desdemona is unaccustomed too, but she has become truly pathetic at moment. The way she sulks about you won't guess she is the matriarch of the feared dromaeosaurid pride, that alone the captain of their dreaded Crimson Talons. Making this all the worse she is now beginning to shed some of her disgrace onto me and make me appear equally weak.
My bringing Desdemona had proven a grave mistake. She certainly was going to be of little use to me now other than perhaps directly guarding the crate. If the overall situation was to be salvaged it was going to be up to me, like usual.
I had formulated a new strategy to try and distract our enemies from the crate, and hopefully kill some of them along the way!
As it was just a distracting tactic, I was at the simultaneously have to maneuver the crate out of harms way. I briefed Desdemona on my plan for the crate, and the Crimson Talons' new role escorting it on its way.
"We are retreating!" Desdemona stated in disgust. The first hint that the arrogant raptor hadn't lost all her spark. To a hunter like Desdemona a repositioning and regrouping like I was about to stage was seen as cowardice. "Why?!?" she then demanded
"Do I really have to answer that?" I responded in annoyance, as I was hardly in the mood for her stubbornness. However rather then let the rhetorical question do, Desdemona defiantly stood waiting for me to acknowledge her question. Fine, if she wished for my 'opinion', then she was going to get it! "We need to retreat Desdemona, because you and your precious Crimson Talons utterly failed in eliminating the Runt like you were supposed to!"
"You dare imply that I and the Talons failed like incompetent fools?!? You speak so arrogantly for one who the Lambeosaur would have crushed in seconds!" Desdemona hissed defensively, I'd hit a nerve. Though I may have done too good a job. The raptor's tail was curving upwards to assume a pre-pounce stance. I'd seen Desdemona dispatch too many opponents (both of within the pack and out of it) to ignore this subtle threat.
"You are taking my statement too seriously," I pretended to assure Desdemona. I had meant for it to be a biting insult. However she was right. "I don't expect you or the Talons to be capable of defeating Lance. Especially when he is the one ambushing you."
My acknowledging Lance's prowess as a "hunter" disarmed Desdemona. We both stewed silently for a moment on the topic of the troublesome hadrosaur. Never before had any prey been as dangerous as Lance. He was such a capable warrior that he'd even bested some of the Royals in combat. [Royal= Tyrannosaurid in pack lingo]
"We should stand out ground! This is our museum. It is time we demonstrated it!" Desdemona boldly challenged as she returned to the conversation. "We simply need to bring in more hunters."
I openly laughed at this suggestion. "This is not our museum, Desdemona, you should know that. It is and always has been Professor Paradigm's favourite. He tolerates our presence here as it would cause a confrontation to get us out. That and I think he tries to use it to keep tabs on what we are doing. If he ever thought it would be to his advantage to oust us from here, Paradigm would do it in a moment. He is one of our most effective enemies," I cursed out loud.
The Professor has always been one of the greatest threats to the Pack of the Primordial Feather. Him and his Palaeo-Central organization have foiled many of our best laid plans, and now that Paradigm had finished forming and training this Task Force of his, he was all the more dangerous...
"Exactly, it will take a confrontation to remove us from this place!" Desdemona tried to convince me. "Paradigm has already gathered most of his strength here. Let us crush it! All we need to do is gather our hunters from North America, and he will be a problem of the past. Think of the glory that will be bestowed on both of us for such a feat?!?"
To think moments ago I'd wanted Desdemona back to her usual self! She was so busy imagining leading our troops to victory her eyes were visibly glazed over. "There will be no stand off with Paradigm," I dismissed her whole stupid idea. Desdemona was about to protest, but I cut her off. "Think you stupid predator! Paradigm would hear the instant we sent out a summons. Before our forces could properly gather he'd overpower us, and take the crate. More to the point even if we were to rally a proper war party, do you seriously want to risk the crate in the middle of a battle?"
Desdemona's only reply was a dumbfounded blink. I'd ejected her from her envisioned victory, and overwhelmed her with the reality of our situation. Rather then risk her recomposing herself, and starting another irrelevant argument I decided to tell her my entire plan.
"You are to mobilize the Talons to extract the crate in five hours. A truck will be showing up then," I instructed her. She was about point out the still outstanding point of Paradigm, his Runt and the Task Force. "Leave Palaeo-Central to me."
My last claim was too much for the raptor to handle, for once she openly laughed at me. Something she rarely would dare to do. "How do you plan on defeating them exactly?" I couldn't blame her for asking. If I had to combat even just the Runt, and his Royal predatory physiology, I won't fair well. That alone against Paradigm or his Ornithischian lackeys.
Luckily this couldn't have been further from my plan. "I'm not intending to take over your role as the prime hunter, so calm yourself Desdemona," I jokingly assured her. "I simply am going to use our enemies existing weaknesses against them."
Desdemona was intrigued but simply tilted her head in curiosity rather then ask a dumb question. So, I decided to reward her for staying silent. "Their attentions are already divided by supposed fossil poaching. Paradigm and the Task Force are busy scrabbling around the badlands, while the Runt has missed the crate altogether and gone to prepared collections for some reason."
We both chuckled over that mistake on the Runt's part. After my confrontation with him the other day, I was very concerned he was going to make a move for the crate. Despite posting the Crimson Talons to guard the crate, I wasn't confident we could keep it safe. The Runt had been demonstrating an annoying ability to beat the odds.
"How are you going to use this poaching distraction to our advantage?" Desdemona inquired.
"I am leaving you to prepare to crate for departure, while I go and make a deal with Spectre." I answered.
Hearing the name Spectre, Desdemona's tail went rigidly straight, a raptor's version of fear. "THE Spectre?" she nearly whispered out of disbelief. Despite not being a warrior of her caliber, I had just earned Desdemona's respect.
"Yes the one and the same Spectre," I reinforced. "Which is why I leave you in command of the crate and its retreat. If I do not return, I leave it to you to pass on news of my sacrifice to the rest of the pack." Desdemona bid me farewell with a solemn bow, as a show of respect.
I tried to keep my composure as I marched past her and her now onlooking Crimson Talons. Absolute anxiety and dread now raced through my body, as I realized I was beyond planning and imaging my battle plan. I now had to leave the safe confides of my imagination and enact these deeds in real life. In other words, I was actually going to have to meet with Dr. Spectre now!
"You say you have something of interest to me," he coldly stated through his large breathing apparatus, causing the words to be eerily distorted.
"I do," I tried to calmly reply, but I failed. My only hope was that his understanding of my Oviraptorian tongue was not strong enough to grasp my emotional expressions. As they are very different from human mammalian signals.
His eyebrows raised in predatory anticipation, as he clearly detected my stress. "You better be right, Primordial Feather. I've come a very long way to be here on your word, and me and this place don't have a shall we say agreeable past. I'd hate to have returned here because you are 'mistaken'."
I tried to calm myself by reminding myself he was just another mammal like the rest. However I was too sound of mind to be fooled by self rationalization like this.
Spectre was no mere human, though at first glance one could be deceived. He was a palaeontologist, the one group of mammals we Vivus-Dinosaurs deal with on a day to day basis. Unlike him though, the majority of them are weak pathetic things equipped with only knowledge about us Vivus survivors. Spectre was not only one of the most intelligent of them, but he was also armed with far more then his large brain. For despite his inferior frame, Spectre was hunter easily of Desdemona or even the Royals level.
Of all the players in the ongoing Vivus-War, Spectre was the most singularly deadly player in the fold. Yes, any of the factions could crush him with its entirety, but the effort of doing so and the damage he would inflict upon it would leave that faction defenseless against the rest.
I took an incredible risk approaching him. Especially as I was about to try and coerce him into acting on the Pack's behalf. Be it only as an aside. My hope was the gain he stood to make from my proposal would outweigh the fact I was making a gain as well.
If I failed to convince him, there was good reason I had told Desdemona to be prepared for my demise. Spectre was infamous for his brutality. Especially when trying to acquire palaeontological specimens. I did not want to think of what he might do to a Vivus-fossil such as myself to render me into the spectacular specimen I potential represented.
With this in mind I explained my reason for contacting Spectre, and my suspicions as to what the Runt might represent scientifically. I then waited for his reply in the most terrifying and drawn out seconds of my life. Keeping in mind I have faced down Carcharodontosaurids before on the front line of the Vivus-wars, and this fear now did not compare.
The answer I got was no cause of relief. He drew his fingers together and cackled. A most disturbing sound due to both the malice it betrayed and the alteration its sound underwent through his breather.
"If your hypothesis is correct, I am in your debt Primordial," he mused. "This is too perfect. Especially with Alvar in such close proximity!" Spectre referenced Paradigm by his first name.
As if I didn't need another reminder of this man's dangerous nature, he directly referenced the feud between himself and Paradigm. There were few the Professor feared, but Spectre was certainly was the chief amongst this list. Like all great enemies they had once been the best of allies, only to betray each other. Now they fittingly displayed their animosity to the world in the form of scars so great they needed breathing masks to survive them.Spectre reached for his trademark Katana, and I suddenly went numb expected to be dispatched by it. I misinterpreted his intentions, for a moment later Spectre pivoted and began walking away, clearly on the hunt.
"Just so we are clear, Primordial," he cautioned, slowing his pace for a moment. "I am well aware you are using me as a distraction against Paradigm. Though the discovery you have alerted me too is ample compensation. Just be warned, if 2003. 12. 7. [Traumador's official fossil catalogue number] is not what you claim he is, then I will be coming to claim something of equal value from your beloved pack." With that he marched off into the badlands.
I wasn't keen on sticking around. Especially with one of the most dangerous human predators now stalking these badlands.
As I reentered the museum and retook command of the crate's removal I suddenly was overjoyed. I had not only made a successful deal with the devil, but I had now sent him hunting my enemies. There was the slim possibility he would come looking to collect later, but that was only if I was wrong in my guess about the Runt. Something I was certain I was not!