19 Chapter 20 - Triassic IV

(POV Stygian) 

A month had passed since my battle with the former Skartarian King, and I'd been busy. Upon defeating the tyrannosaur, I'd fainted and when I re-awoke it appeared I'd shed my skin once more. Unlike the first time, the visual changes were negligent, however, my body's defenses, strength, and speed had all increased. Furthermore, the snakes that adorned my head seemed to come to life. Becoming much more animated, even showing signs of intelligence. Call me crazy, but I began to speak to them in an attempt to test my theory. While I didn't receive a human response, there definitely was a response of some kind. I could feel the intention behind their hisses. The surprises didn't end there, for during my next hunt they released a black-like mist from their mouths that advanced toward my enemy, completely disorienting the creatures in my surroundings. 

Following that discovery, my first order of business was to have the Skartarians Shamans tell me any and everything they could about the island and its creatures. Apparently, there were various regions/zones of the island that were controlled by an apex. It just so happened that the apex of their zone was the tyrannosaur I'd recently dispatched. According to them, there were only five other apexes, each of them with their own unique strengths and weaknesses. If my most recent brutalization by the tyrannosaur had taught me anything, it was that I was still weak. 

What followed this realization was a month of slaughter (and soaking in a king-sized bath). Just me in the forest bleeding and drawing blood. I couldn't even grant myself sleep due to the fact that the forest itself didn't sleep. I'd found my eyes to be the only thing capable of halting or causing the beasts to be wary of me. If they changed color, it would keep them at bay, however, the moment they changed back all hell broke loose. As such, I found myself using the ability more than ever. Being around beasts that seemed to shrug off fear in its entirety, made me all the more excited to strike terror into their hearts. 

Each one of their deaths served to make me all the more terrifying. Before long, I didn't even have to think before my eyes changed color and death followed. The moment a branch snapped, or the wind brushed across my face I instinctively entered a defensive state. Currently, I was surrounded by a group of Yellow Deaths, they screeched in rabid anger, and I returned a feral battle cry in turn. This marked the start of our life-or-death brawl, as they dashed forward in unison pincering me. Willing my snakes to release their poison in the direction of two of the indo-raptors, I turned my attention to the remaining two. Instead of awaiting their arrival, I darted forward meeting them head-on, and with a heavy swipe, ran my claws across the chest of one, whilst narrowly dodging the other. 

As the one I'd wounded stumbled and slid across the dirt, I sharply pivoted, springing off of one foot and latching onto the other's back. The moment I'd made contact it attempted to flail about in resistance, only for me to quickly and efficiently puncture its skull, causing its thrashing body to still. The moment it hit the ground; the other two semi-disoriented Yellow Death had closed in on me. With open maws, they bit nothing but air, as I ducked under one lifting an arm and connecting it with its chest. In one fell swoop, I had uplifted the beast taking it airborne as it fell to its back. Before it could recover, I delivered a finishing blow, fist connecting with the beast's neck putting it to rest. 

The Indo-raptor I'd dodged swiped its razor-like tail in my direction while the remaining one leaped from above, claws spread in an attempt to skewer me. With a battle-crazed smile I caught the beast's tail and with a heave slammed it into the incoming aerial attacker. Not yet done, I didn't release its tail instead pulling it back with its comrade still attached to the claw before slamming them both back down into the ground. What followed was a sickening crunch, spraying blood, and bones snapping as one beast was skewered and the other had its body crushed. 

Rolling my shoulders and massaging my neck I scratched the chins of some of my hair accessories, thanking them for their help. Receiving contended hisses in reply, I smiled. Images of a steaming bath appeared in my mind, where I could wash away the filth and stress of today. Suddenly I felt the wind kick up, and with it came horrified screams. Wait, screams? Glancing in the direction of the screams I spotted a massive beast high in the sky hovering and looking down at something. 

Imagining a steaming hot bath nearly caused me to change my mind, however, after a moment's hesitation I decided to observe the situation. Within a minute or two I'd arrived at the edge of the forest's tree line gazing into an open field. Within it lay a good hundred or so human soldiers along with some people in lab coats. Though armed to the teeth, they appeared a bit worse for wear. Each of them had their gazes fixated on the colossal creature hovering above them. Like a god descending from the heavens, it circled them twice before lowering itself. The winds it kicked up upon its slow descent sent dirt, flowers, and nearly the very people below it flying. Tilting its head in curiosity it observed the strange beings before opening its mouth and releasing a grotesque bellow of sorts. 

As its cry carried far across the field and into the forest, it hobbled with its wing tips and tiny feet toward the collection of humans. Its approach while resembling a baby learning to walk was considerably more terrifying. The humans barked some orders before opening fire at the beast, most of their bullets bounced harmlessly off its skin, though a few managed to chip at the inside of its wings. Much to their dismay that only served to evoke the dinosaur's wrath as it increased its pace, extended its neck, and scooped a human up before swallowing him whole. 

Pinching the bridge of my nose in thought, their screams seemed to pound at my ears. I was positioned behind the group of humans on one side of the field, whilst the Quetzalcoatl was straight in front of them on the other side of it. With a sigh, I emerged from the tree line eyes alight as I prepared myself for what was to come. Seemingly detecting the seriousness of the situation, the coils adorning my head bobbed up and down hissing in the direction of the beast. 

(POV June Moon) 

I'd thought this expedition would be a bust. The only information we had to go on was old legends and translated scripture, depicting an island frozen in time cut off from the outside world. Things had been going smoothly, though we were flying aimlessly the bright skies and bright blue waters brought a sense of comfort. We certainly hadn't expected for all of the surroundings to be covered in an impenetrable mist. Rushing to the flight crew they were screaming at the command center trying to understand what was happening and why. 

Instead of answers, all we received was silence. All communications were cut off, and before we could process the reality of our situation the aircraft shook. To be more precise something shook it. Stumbling, I was caught by one of the agents in charge of our protection. 

"Are you alright Ms. Moon?" He asked. 

Before I could respond all the lights in the aircraft began to flicker before my center of gravity was forcibly shifted. With no control, I was flung forward along with every other crewmate. The plane took a nosedive against the flight crew's wishes, try as they might they couldn't gain control over the situation. Screams of terror drowned out any and all other thoughts and before I knew it, I'd lost consciousness. 

Drearily I opened my eyes to the feel of someone shaking my body. It was one of the agents. 

"Ms. Moon I finally f....you. We need to.....of here, this …...nt safe, we're all.... outside." His voice was warped, just barely understandable. 

With a slow nod, I took his hand leaning on him for support as I attempted to gain my wits. Gradually my vision stopped swimming, and my ears stopped ringing. Leading me through the trashed aircraft, we soon exited and were greeted with a truly marvelous sight. Trees, vines, flowers, personifications of life more beautiful than any I'd laid my eyes on. Reaching insurmountable heights, showcasing never-before-seen vibrant colors it was like witnessing paradise. 

In utter awe, I lost myself in the wonders of this forest. Glancing about, I noticed Juniper, our resident supernatural being. A unique woman, a gateway to another side of the world we'd yet to truly understand. She had a unique connection to plant life, granting her the ability to manipulate and understand them. If I was in awe, I knew she must have been utterly dumbfounded. As we all gathered together, I made my way toward Johnny Peril. While I was an expert archeologist having helped A.R.G.U.S. discover and unearth many a strange artifact, Johnny here was an expert when it came to the use of the actual objects themselves. (IMAGE) 

This caused us to work hand in hand quite often. I couldn't help but approach him hoping he would have some sort of understanding of our strange situation. 

"Johnny, you wouldn't happen to have an idea of what happened or where we are...how plants...a place like this could exist?" I inquired. 

With a solemn shake of his head, he said, 

"Sadly, no I do not. I'm just as confused as the rest of you. Where did that mist go? What caused our aircraft to crash? Why does everything here feel familiar, and yet completely new." 

Chiming in from in front of us was Juniper. 

"The plants...I can hear them, but they won't speak to me. They won't listen to me." 

Her words sent waves of surprise through all those gathered. According to our understanding, she was somewhat blessed by 'The Green' which granted her the ability and the authority to manipulate and communicate with all plant life. Why and how could these things reject her? Unease spread as everyone became aware that we'd basically lost the use of our heavy hitter. If anything happened, we'd have to rely entirely on human weaponry. 

Biting her lips Juniper delivered our next course of action. 

"First things first, we need to find somewhere safe to stay the night. I'd prefer to be able to see our surroundings and this forest doesn't bode well. We'll travel together heading inland. From the whispers I've heard, if we go that way then we'll reach the ocean which is one option, but I say we should head toward the beach only as a last resort. If we find nothing after walking for a while we can turn back around. Hopefully, I'll catch some whispers of other water sources on the way." 

With no one refuting her words, various agents armed themselves to the teeth with what they could carry while I, Johnny, and our assistants gathered what supplies we could. Seeing everyone was ready Juniper led the excursion, trekking carefully through the thick forest with sweat filling her brow. Taking note of her apparent nervousness I picked up the pace until I was beside her. 

"Hey Juniper, is there something you're not telling us." Holding her hand, I whispered low enough that the others wouldn't hear me. 

Furrowing her brow, she clasped my hand tighter. 

"While the plants won't answer me, they also won't stop speaking. This whole island...it's alive. From the moment we landed, I've felt hundreds...thousands of things around us. I-we can't see them. But they're here. Watching. Waiting. I don't want to scare the others, but something is keeping them at bay, and I don't want to stay and find out what it is." 

My body tensed at her cryptic words, saying nothing more, we continued walking in silence warily eyeing the dense forest. Within an hour of walking in the dim forest, we spotted a bright light from ahead. As though seeing a ray of hope we picked up our pace, rushing forward, and soon found ourselves breaking out of a tree line. What greeted our eyes was a massive open field, covered in some of the brightest fragrant flowers you'd ever laid your eyes on. Colors from every ring of the rainbow dotted the ground, serving to soothe our once-stressed nerves. Exhaling sighs of relief, we entered the field with smiles on our faces. The sun was setting, but at least we'd managed to find someplace safe to spend the night. 

"This is perfect, we'll be setting up camp here. Unless absolutely necessary, let's not light any fires tonight. I don't want to draw any unnecessary attention until we know where we are and who else is here." Voice carrying a humble authority; Juniper began directing the agents. 

Hurriedly people got to work, those who were injured received what treatment we could offer, and tents were set up. Before we could begin to settle down the sound of thunder seemed to boom, and clouds began to gather at a worrying speed. Those who were in their tents exited, and those who were already outside looked at Juniper. The booms of thunder continued growing louder with everyone that struck. Moments later the wind picked up and a large shadow covered the entirety of the open field. 

Everyone froze, slowly raising their heads, and were greeted by the source of the thunder. Each time the shadow beat its wings, the sky boomed. It circled us twice before nosediving and hovering directly before us. Even though it was still dozens of meters off the ground, the force of its wings blew against us and the field, nearly uprooting both. Landing with the sun reflecting off its feathered and yet leathery body we could only stand frozen with bated breath. Towering at a height of at least 9 meters with a wingspan damn near 20 meters long. Th-this was something that should no longer exist. Yet here it was. As though...frozen in time. 

"W-what is that." 

"What do we do?" 

"It's huge!" 

"We should run!" 

Calming myself down I spoke up, 

"Th-that should be a Quetzalcoatl, a flying dinosaur. Not much is known about them, but they certainly weren't recorded to be this size...this thing is at least twice as large. I think we should refrain from antagon-" (IMAGE) 

My words were cut off as the behemoth released a gut-wrenching bellow. It resembled something from the depths of hell, striking fear into each and every one of our hearts. That was the last straw, and someone finally snapped, hysterically screaming one of the agents opened fire at the behemoth as it slowly hobbled toward us. Seeing the equally beautiful yet dangerous creature not only shrug off his bullets but grow agitated, I didn't give up hope. 

While it scooped up the gunman that had so rudely opened fire upon it, I turned to Juniper hoping to coordinate our next move with her. Only, she was frozen. Shouting at her I finally snapped her out of her trance, if even a little. Turning to me her words seemed to drown out all other sounds. 

"Since we arrived here, the plants have been speaking to one another, making fun of us, speaking about the other creatures in the forest. Incessantly, so loud that I could barely think. They. Have. Not. Shut. Up." Her voice began to tremble as her head hung low, hands clenched into fists. 

All the agents had various reactions. Johnny raised an eyebrow at her words. 

"While that does sound annoying, it matters why? We need to get out of thi-" 

Raising her head, her tears fell from her eyes as they trembled in fear. 

"Just now...they all stopped." 

No sooner had her words left her mouth did all other sounds in the surrounding die out. The sounds of the forest seemed to vanish, as did the howling wind. The beast that had just finished swallowing an agent, stopped mid-meal, turning its attention toward us. No, behind us. Its tiny feet began to shuffle as it backpedaled slowly. The entire time its gaze was fixated on something behind us, one by one we turned around following its line of sight. 

From the tree line, something had emerged. Standing about six feet tall the figure was pitch black, adorned with golden pauldrons and bracers, a crown of serpents extended from its head, each with blood-red eyes matching his own. The beings' steps were light, nearly non-existent. You'd doubt that he was there if you didn't see him with your own two eyes. From behind him, the sun was beginning to set, causing his illuminated figure to gradually become one with the shadows. As though proclaiming his presence, the sky had turned a mixture of blood-red combined with the dark grey clouds to paint a truly foreboding picture. (IMAGE) 

The being didn't even put us in his eyes, literally. Its full attention and those of its serpents were entirely on the Quetzalcoatl. Despite that, merely being within his line of sight left the collection of us weak in the knees. One by one we fell unable to handle the pressure...the terror. Gasps for breath soon escaped a few lips, and those who seemed to be weaker or unable to resist directly passed out, pretty soon it was only me, Juniper, Johnny, and a handful of other agents. Unable to do anything I could only follow the unique being with my eyes as he walked past me and straight toward the colossal beast. 

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