in the tyrrell's geology collections there had been 20 samples from potential egg bearing sites throughout the horseshoe canyon formation. of those though only 12 were well mapped, meaning that the poachings were almost certainly at one of these!
i'd investigated as long as i could after finding out about these sites. they'd hit 2 out of the 12 sites when i started my investigation. i'd spent all of yesterday checking 5 of the other 10. the first 2 put me in a false sense of relief, they hadn't been hit yet. however the next 3 in a row had all been dug at!!! meaning 5 out of the 7 sites i'd been to had been stolen from... there was no knowing just how many eggs they'd gotten (though by my count of the dig holes, at least 14 "nests" had been excavated!).
i got up with the rising sun and checked 2 more sites already today. one was fine, but the other had been poached and recently too! if i was right the dig had been within a matter of days... that put it at 6 out of 9 sites stolen from so far. a very scary average i must say.
as i approached the 3rd site of today i realized with a chill, the poachers had been following roughly the route i had been for the remaining 10. starting close to the museum and then moving away. only unlike me, they had avoided sites that were harder to get to. the 3 sites that they'd left alone, would not have been pleasant to get in and out of carrying heavy equipment and field jackets full of fossils. even nice small ones like eggs (which can come in BIG batches!)
walking through the badlands my blood ran cold as just around the bend i thought i could hear a jackhammer grinding away. there was a lingering smell of dust and smoke as i grew closer. both things i'd experienced at fossil digs before...
i now sped up to a jog. i was so eagerly watching for signs of a dig i didn't look properly where i was stepping. my ankles (which are way higher on my legs then a human's) hit something solid, that nearly caused me to fall over. looking about my feet though, there was nothing visible... weird.
as i came around the bend i yelped out loud...the site had not only been poached, but it was in the process of BEING poached!!!
there were tools, field jackets, and even field notes around a number of excavations along a single mudstone layer. it could only have been paradigm's egg bearing layer!
why there were field notes confused me a bit... why would the pack need to keep those? only someone interested in the scientific information of the site would need to record anything...
after only 30 seconds i'd seen enough to know i needed to report this back at the museum. whoever (or whatever) was doing the digging was clearly taking a break or something, as they were no where to be seen. however they no doubt would return soon to resume work on the site. i intended to have the authorities swoop in and catch them in the act.
as i was about to turn and run as fast back to my car and my "cell" phone as i could, suddenly i felt very uneasy. from deep within my primal predatory instincts i didn't feel safe...
just as i was about to look around the wind shifted direction... my incredibly powerful t-rex sense of smell instantly picked up a strong scent. a human, one i'd met before, but not someone that popped to mind immediately... and they were RIGHT behind me!!!
before i could react to this presence the whole backside of my head was a blaze with intense pain, as i was karate kicked from behind. the only good news was it was so well placed a blow the pain lasted but a mere moment. i was out cold a second later...
when i started to wake up i was really disoriented. it felt like i was floating, and my limbs won't work. as i faded more into consciousness i realized i wasn't floating, but rather lying with my back propped against a hill. as for my useless limbs there was good reason they won't work. my arms and legs were all tied up.
my eyes were still a little hazy, but i could make out voices. "what do you mean he just showed up?" a woman's voice demanded of someone. i'd heard it before i thought
"i'm telling you, i was working on the last nest when suddenly he came wandering up from the highway," another woman, who wasn't as familiar as the first. "we're just lucky he triggered the trip wire or i'd have had no warning at all!"
"this is just great!" the first woman stated in pure frustration. "right when we hit the jackpot!""
"what are you so worried about?" the other asked her. "his just an extra item for sale. how many collectors do you know who would say no to their own vivus tyrannosaur? that alone annex co. they'd pay through the roof for him!"
"i guess you're right," the first woman replied, though she didn't sound completely convinced. "i'm just worried. the museum staff say he's connected to central somehow."
the second woman countered enthusiastically. "if that were so, you think they'd send a little more then just him," there was a pause, as the second woman waited for a reply from the first. which she must have got, a nod would be my guess, the second carried on. "they don't have too long to send in the cavalry. we just need to jacket up these last three nests, and we can get out of here."
"not too soon," the first woman impatiently stated. "i've been having trouble keeping up my cover. the tyrrell's administration suspects its someone on the inside, and they've been pulling surprise inspections. i've only got an hour before i'm supposed to check back in. they think i'm leading a tour right now."
tour? i thought, as my mind started to shake off the fuzz of unconsciousness. there was only one department in the museum that led hikes! the education department... i knew who the first woman was!
as my sight came back, i found i was right as she stood towering over me, the new "education" staff member megan."i'm giving you one chance to answer this, traumador. if i don't like the answer i get, you'll lose something precise too you," she instructed me. "does anyone else know you're here?"
"no... no one... no one else...else knows i'm here," i stuttered terrified. i realized what an idiot i'd been in trying to keep my investigation secret. no one knew i was out looking for these sites. in fact i hadn't checked in with anyone for days. for all anyone knew i'd gone back home to new zealand!
"see i told you, and he's not smart enough to lie to us," the other woman said from around the hill. i couldn't see her, but i had a sneaking suspicion who it was. "he is so stupid he thought it was a bunch of dinosaurs working this job when he told us about it!"
what? the pack of the primordial feather had nothing to do with the poaching?!? then why did they try to kill me??? what are they guarding back at the museum, and then what are these two women after dinosaur eggs for?????
megan snapped back. "it's not as dumb as you seem to think it is. i've seen dinosaurs excavating before!"
"really?" the other woman asked in disbelief. she then challenged. "where?"
"out of the two of us, who has worked at the american museum of natural history and the carnegie again?!?" megan harshly rebutted, as she clearly didn't like her colleague questioning her claim. i'd venture she more to the point didn't like having her authority being questioned at all. with a resume like that she must have known her stuff!. "i've seen vivus carcharodontosaurs and abelisaurs digging sites just like this one in brazil, patagonia, and argentina."
okay so i'd been wrong about the pack being behind this dig, but i was right about them being capable of it! carcharodontosaurs and abelisaurs may not be coelurosaurs and thus in the pack of the primordial feather, but they aren't that different in build from true coelurosaurs...
though as jo came into sight from around the corner (i had thought she was the other woman) my concerns came back the present...
"what you think than," jo asked megan. "we put him to work digging?" she coldly joked.
"no," replied megan.
"lighten up," jo smiled. "of course i was joking! i wouldn't risk an instant million bucks like him run off now would i. these young tyrannosaurs can run pretty fast when they want to..."
oh man this wasn't good! this was SO beyond not good! i dare say this was beyond terrible!!!
i was about to be sold as a illegal vivus-fossil... worse still no one out there even knew i was in trouble!!! why did i have to go play the hero?
"let's just finish up. i'd like to finish this dig in under an hour so i don't have to go back to the museum again," megan instructed. "besides the quicker we get these out, the faster we can go collect our money!"
what was i going to do people of the innerweb... i was in the clutches of fossil poachers, and helpless to escape!