i'd solved a major fossil poaching case, been captured by the poachers, witnessed not one but two major battles for stolen fossil eggs, in the end been rescued by my former roommate, and learned that not only he but also my legal guardian are both members of a top secret scientific organization!
as if that list weren't big enough, now i had the head honcho of said secret organization, palaeo-central, wanting to speak with me. this was, of course, the very intense professor paradigm. a man who last time i'd seen had promised for something terrible to happen to me if he caught me meddling in this poaching affair... so i wasn't exactly excited about the talk we were about to have.
i nearly jumped out of my skin when he asked me his first question. i was expecting him to scream at me. instead he calmly asked "you weren't harmed were you?" he seemed to ask it out of concern and almost sympathy (not something i'd expect from paradigm).
"no," i answered in a half lie. though my wrists were rope burned and i had a big bump on the back of my skull from the kick, but overall i'd been worse.
"good," paradigm actually sounded genuinely happy to hear. which was odd, i'd always gotten the impression he didn't like me. "now tell me traumador," he prompted. oh great i thought, here it comes! "how did you figure out this was where the poachers were digging?"
i was confused as he didn't sound mad or anything... that and as it was an opening to show off how clever i'd been (i so rarely pull off clever things due to the small brain and all) i proudly explained how i'd collected micro fossils from around all the poached quarrys, had gotten help studying them, and of my big geology break through in the museum's collections...
after i concluded my tale there was an awkward silence. i was ready for paradigm to explode at hearing the depth of my meddling. instead he finally just answered. "impressive," if i didn't know any better i'd guess he was, well, impressed.
the silence returned, and this time it wasn't going to end unless one of us started a new tangent. i figured i was safe from him getting mad now, as paradigm had had plenty of opportunity to yell at me by this point.
"what is palaeo-central exactly?" i asked... which was probably a little bold on my part, but hey what did i have to lose at this point?
paradigm shifted slightly, as though to assess whether i was worth of the answer or not. apparently i made the cut as he instructed. "walk with me."
paradigm started hiking away from the poaching site and back towards the highway, and as he'd asked me too follow i walked along side him. "before i tell you any of this, you must swear to complete secrecy everything i tell you."
"sure," i promised, though its not like palaeo-central is the best kept secret out there...
"we are everything, and yet nothing, that the rumours claim us to be," paradigm explained... or at least i think he was explaining? everything and nothing, he was losing me with the first sentence. oh well, at least it wasn't the first time this had ever happened to me.
paradigm seemed to pick up my confusion, yet he hadn't looked at me, he just seemed to know what he'd said went over my head. it was weirdly familiar somehow.
he started over talking at my level. "palaeo-central in a nutshell is the protective agency watching over all aspects of the science of palaeontology. this mostly centres around fossils," he paused to ensure i was keeping up. "this includes who can and should be collecting fossils, what are they being used for, and most important ensuring they are being used to increase and better humanities collective knowledge of the past." okay this i'd already heard. "our mandate extends beyond fossils though. we deal with the human side of fossils too, including scientists and researchers, traders, collectors, companies, religious groups, and even governments on occasion."
"so you guys are like the james bonds of science?" i asked, as i pictured paradigm pulling out rocket packs for us to ride back to the museum.
paradigm made a strange noise through his re-breather. had it not be so short i would have thought it was a chuckle, but if it was it lasted less then a second. "well, that is what our enemies are meant to think. despite our reputation, palaeo-central is not all seeing, or comprised of an army."
this was a bit of a surprise. after all the hoopla everyone had been making about palaeo-central i had envisioned it as being a huge operation like in the movies. "no, we are rather a loosely organized network of specialists and operatives scattered throughout the world's palaeontologic institutions, who while working a normal job in the field, carry out the secret mandate of safe guarding fossils from the 'dangers' of the greater world."
"huh?" i dumbly said out loud. it wasn't that i complete didn't understand the professor. what did he mean by specialists and operatives?
paradigm once again seemed to know what had confused me, which was getting eerie, and he clarified. "palaeo-central agents aren't really secret agents like james bond, traumador. i recruit people who are already in key positions in the palaeontologic community. scientists, students, technicians, administrators, collections managers, even tour guides!"
tour guides... that explained dan and craig. dan was a physicist, but had been tour guiding at the tyrrell on the side for years. craig, well he'd always been a tour guide until he'd suddenly taken off to new zealand (though he'd been acting weird just before i was fired from the tyrrell 3 years ago).
"why go to all that trouble?" i asked. "i mean, if fossils are in that much trouble, why not just organize the whole science against the 'threats' it faces."
"i always wondered the same thing when i started as a scientist," paradigm reflected. "sadly academics and scientists aren't the easiest to unify on anything. that alone on enemies that might or might effect them individually. getting the whole science to coordinate a united defense across the different personalities, ideals, politics, and countries we all are divided by is all but impossible. believe me i tried."
"so palaeo-central was the solution," i guessed.
"preciously!" paradigm seemed to approve of my keeping up. "for well over a year i campaigned the worldwide central authority of palaeontology, the international palaeontological committee, to recognize the potential threats facing the science. i fell on deaf ears until 1970, when several high scale incidents struck just as i'd predicted. as of that year my proposal finally had received approval, and i was put in charge of a special task force under the supervision and control of the committee to spearhead a defensive effort. you know it today as palaeo-central."
"wow," i said out loud to a key realization i'd had listening to that. it wasn't about palaeo-central or how it was a branch of palaeontology's focal organization (everyone in the science world knows the international palaeontological committee), but rather paradigm's age! if i followed him correctly, 1970 was an early point in his career... i'm no expert at maths, but paradigm sure looks good for a man his age!
paradigm stopped dead in his tracks and looked at my intensely. "what are you babbling about?"
i quickly explained how i'd gotten involved in the poaching case as i thought it was what the pack had been up to around the tyrrell. paradigm was baffled by this connection, but not by the pack being up to something fishy. before he could elaborate on his knowledge, my big day got a whole lot bigger!
the thing is had i checked my email earlier that day i'd have known better then to go outside!...
for i'd gotten a dire warning from my mysterious contact in the pack, ruffled feather, who had tried to alert me to the about to unfold situation.
You are in serious danger! Get out of Drumheller now!
Pull out of Drumheller to where ever. We'll regroup and reconsider our actions against the pack later, but you have to get out now! Your life depends on it!!!
for just as paradigm was about to reveal what he knew about the pack's drumheller activities, i could have sworn i smelt another human nearby (stupid wind direction!)... if only my hearing was as ubber keen as my sense of smell. i'd have heard the man who was literally stalking me and the professor.
just as i was about to state my concern over the smell, i suddenly was seized from behind by my chest. at the same moment the professor suddenly found himself being punched in the head. despite the complete surprise, paradigm instinctively dodged part of the blow...
this however threw him slightly off balance and our attacker seized the opportunity and slammed his elbow into paradigm's exposed back. before i could struggle i was suddenly overwhelmed by a painful hold applied to a pressure point on my abdomen i didn't even know i had... it really hurt! i couldn't move from my tummy up...
"it's been a while alvar," our assailant addressed paradigm by his first name.
"spectre!?!" the professor loudly proclaimed in surprised response. "what in extinction's name..."
"i've just come to study this specimen," this spectre guy replied, holding me up painfully by my throat. "i hope you don't mind too much that i borrow him from you."
to be continued...