Free the Water
Up on top of the outcrop overlooking the Valley, the herd looked sadly on as the forest fire continued to burn away at the trees and bushes below. Their home no longer looked like the lush green land the Gang saw when the first saw it, it now looked as if it had a raw gash straight down the middle.
Aylene held her hands over her chest as she watched the fire spread across the once wondrous Valley. Knowing that Derek was out there made her uneasy. She had to force herself not to think of the possible outcomes if either he didn't find Cera and Topps in time, or worse, if he got caught in the fire, too. Considering how active her imagination was, that was nearly impossible to do. All she could do was wait and see, which was agonizing.
Littlefoot stood beside Aylene, worrying about his grandfather. He knew his grandfather would be extremely cautious, and has gotten out of dangerous situations before, but a natural disaster was different from an attack from predators. At least he would have a fighting chance against carnivores, but a fire was a different matter. Only other elements of nature like water and earth could defeat a fire if it hadn't gone too out of control.
But looking at the fire now, only a large tidal wave could extinguish it.
Suddenly, the ground began to shake with small steady, even intervals. Everyone turned sharply in the direction the tremors were coming and a smile streaked across many faces.
Coming up the slope, winded but unharmed, was Grandpa Longneck and Derek along with Mr. Threehorn and Cera.
"GRANDPA!" Littlefoot happily shouted and raced forward.
"DEREK!" Aylene cried and ran toward the survivors.
Grandpa Longneck lowered his head, allowing Derek to jump off and onto the ground. The two siblings rushed toward each other and before Derek had time to react, Aylene threw herself at him and wrapped her arms around him, burying her face in the crook of his neck. He smelled of ash and sweat, but the scent was dear to her.
Her brother was alive.
"Derek!" Aylene began to cry. "I'm so sorry! I don't hate you!"
Derek looked down at his sister and returned the embrace. He remembered what Aylene said to him during their last argument, but that didn't matter anymore.
His sister was safe.
"It's okay, Sis," the boy replied, "And I'm sorry, too."
Meanwhile, Grandpa and Grandma Longneck shared a fond, relieved nuzzle.
"I was so worried," the female Apatosaurus whispered.
"I'm fine, dear, really." Grandpa Longneck replied.
Seeing two families back together, Littlefoot couldn't help but smile and big smile. His grandfather was safe and Aylene had made amends with her brother. Not to mention, Cera and her dad were safe and sound and the Gang was back together.
For a moment, everything seemed to be exactly as it should be, better even.
"How is everybody else?" the male Apatosaurus asked.
"Our group got here safely," his wife replied. "Thanks to Littlefoot and Aylene."
"Oh yes!" Ducky happily said as Cera approached the group. "Thanks to Littlefoot and Aylene."
"We all did it." Littlefoot replied modestly.
After Aylene and Derek let each other go, the girl ran over, got down to her knees and hugged Cera. The Triceratops laughed a little and returned the gesture with a light nudge to the face.
"I'm just glad that you're okay." Aylene smiled. "I'm glad we're all okay."
" 'Okay'?" Topps questioned, sounding desolate. "How can you say we're okay when our valley burns?"
The elder Triceratops then sadly wandered over to the edge of the cliff and stared out over the desolate landscape below.
"We are without water and now we are without a home." Topps hung his head in despair. "All is lost."
Derek looked at the old dinosaur for a second before walking up and placing a hand on his foreleg.
"All is not lost, Topps," he said. "You still have Cera, and you are still here to take care of her."
Topps looked at the human boy and then at his daughter, who ran over and stood next to him. He let out a deep exhale as a wave of emotions suddenly crashed over him, although he didn't show it. Once again, because of his assertive nature and stubbornness, put his family in danger. Once again, he almost lost his daughter.
And once again, a human saved her.
Two humans of the same kin saved him and his daughter. One a young girl with a powerful spirit, and the other a boy with a strong will.
"Oh, you are right." Topps finally said, looking at his daughter for a moment. He then turned to Derek and Grandpa Longneck. "Thank you, Derek. And you, too, Longneck."
The said boy and Apatosaurus both nodded graciously. The gratitude was genuine and real.
However, the moment of reunion and quiet joy was washed away when an Ankylosaurus spoke up:
"But the threehorn speaks the truth: we're doomed! We'll never be able to go back to the Great Valley!"
The dinosaurs around them began to exchange worried and hopeless mumbles. However, Aylene's face suddenly lit up.
"Oh yes we will!" she happily stood.
"That's right!" Littlefoot smiled. "The water! Grandma, Grandpa, we found water!"
"Water?!" the male elder longneck exclaimed.
The moment the little Apatosaurus said those words, the herd gasped in unison and hopeful voices replaced the atmosphere of despair.
"Where, Littlefoot?!" Grandma Longneck asked.
"It's stuck behind Thundering Falls." Aylene replied.
"The meteor shower caused rock slides." Cera finished.
"Which means the water is trapped in the Mysterious Beyond," the female Apatosaurus stated.
With the mention of the area outside of the Great Valley, the herd began to talk among themselves in a nervous manner.
"The Mysterious Beyond?"
"We can't go there. It's dangerous."
"Of course it's dangerous." Topps replied. "But no place is safe now. We must go and free the water."
"But such a huge gathering place of water will attract other creatures besides ourselves." Grandpa Longneck pointed out. "In the Mysterious Beyond, there will be sharp-teeth."
At the mention of predators, the herd once again began to talk among themselves in a more agitated tone.
Meanwhile, the Gang all exchanged worried glances. They suddenly remembered the warning from the egg-stealers about carnivores looking for them. So not only were they dealing with a drought, they were dealing with going into an area to where predators would most likely show up. If they so much as saw them, they would be sitting ducks.
Then again, they didn't have to go. They could stay behind with the other adults and let the strongest members of the herd set the water free. Even fierce predators wouldn't attack a large herd.
"Still," Derek finally stepped forward, "we must do something. We must come up with a plan to free the water."
"I have a plan." Topps said.
"I hope it's better than your fire escape plan," a clubtail named Kosh mocked in an irritated voice.
The threehorn, angered by the comment, growled at the Ankylosaurus.
"Hey!" the human boy shouted. "This is no time to argue!"
However, Topps didn't seem to hear Derek, but he decided to make a comeback statement.
"At least I had a plan!"
Despite the taunt seemingly being weak, Kosh narrowed his eyes and snarled at Topps. Immediately, Grandma Longneck stepped forward and got between the two feuding dinosaurs.
"Stop!" she ordered. "You're acting like children!"
"Huh!" Petrie refuted. "We no act like that."
As the grown-ups began to bicker and argue over plans, Hyp, Nod, and Mutt watched them from behind a rock on a ledge above the herd.
"I'd sure like to get to that water first," Hyp said, "before the rest of those dummies go slobbering in it."
"But," Nod gulped, "you heard the grown-ups, Hyp. What about sharp-teeth?"
"What about 'em?" the Hypsilophidon asked, sounding annoyed.
"Uh…well…" Nod quickly turned to the Muttaburrasaurus, "you tell him, Mutt!"
Mutt paused for a moment, thinking of what to say.
"Well…uh…" he stuttered, "they're bad. Yeah…and scary, too."
Hyp, however, didn't seem to be paying attention to what his friend was saying. If anything, he looked disinterested.
"C'mon, you're just as afraid of them as we are!" Mutt finally said.
Upon hearing the comment, Hyp reached out and snatched a flab of skin on Mutt's neck.
"Me?!" he snapped. "I'm not afraid of anything!"
"Bet you are!" Nod replied harshly.
"Bet I'm not!" Hyp angrily head-butted the Nodosaurus.
"You were afraid of those big flying rocks!" Nod pointed out.
"I was not!" Hyp retorted. "I just ran 'cause you guys did. I…I didn't want you to feel stupid."
Mutt and Nod both exchanged highly offended expressions to each other. Although Hyp telling them off like wasn't unusual, they still didn't like how he was trying to make himself sound better than them. This behavior also seemed to have gotten worse when he heard about the six kids defeating Sharptooth. Aside from him taking his anger out on the Gang, he was now starting to take it out on them.
"Well, then prove it!" Nod finally dared.
"Alright, I will!" Hyp got up and began to walk up the path toward the edge of the Great Wall. "I'm getting me some tasty water, and you babies can stay here!"
As their leader began to walk away, the other two looked at each other with irritated expressions.
"I'm not a baby." Nod said.
"Me neither." Mutt replied.
With that, the two then set out after Hyp.
"Hyp, wait!" Nod shouted.
"Yeah, for us!" Mutt called.
"They are so dumb." Cera said harshly as she and the others watched three bullies begin to walk up toward the top of the wall. "Didn't they hear what the grown-ups said about sharp-teeth?"
"I guess not." Littlefoot replied.
"Well, if they get eaten it will just serve them right!"
"Cera!" Aylene scolded. "That's mean, even for you!"
"I don't care!" Cera snapped. "They deserve it!"
"Cera," Aylene put her hands on her hips, "even I wouldn't wish for anyone onto be eaten by a predator."
"You know guys," Littlefoot calmly said, "I think we should do something."
"Like what?" Aylene asked as the Gang began to walk past the feuding herd.
"Well, maybe tell their parents where they went?"
"All of our parents are too busy arguing." Cera pointed out.
"Then maybe we should stop them." Littlefoot suggested.
"Stop them?!" Cera's jaw dropped at the idea.
"They hate us." Ducky replied. "They will not listen."
"Maybe, maybe not." Aylene said pensively.
The five dinosaurs looked at the human girl with surprised expressions. Seeing how angry she got when those guys were around was all the more shocking when she actually made a notion of wanting to help them.
"Littlefoot," the girl turned to her longneck friend, "you're the one who told me that we make bad decisions when we're mad or scared. And right now, I'm starting to think that's what they're going through. I can't say that for sure, but I think that all they need is compassion and someone to trust."
Aylene then glanced over at her brother, who was starting to argue with Kosh.
"I know that's what I needed," she smiled softly.
Sensing the conviction and determination rising in his friend's spirit, Littlefoot stepped forward and turned his side toward the girl.
"If you feel that strongly about it," he said, "then I'm with you all the way."
Aylene gave a confident nod and mounted onto the Apatosaurus.
"Wait!" Petrie quickly spoke up. "What about sharp-teeth?! You know they are looking for us! What if they find you?!"
"Don't worry." Littlefoot replied. "If we move carefully and keep our senses on high alert, I think we can find those three and get back before the predators find us first."
"I still don't like it." Cera said. "It's just too dangerous."
"We know," Aylene calmly replied, "but we just have to try and stop them."
"You guys do what you want." Littlefoot said gently.
With that said, the longneck set off running with the human on his back. The other four looked at each other briefly before exchanging confident smiles.
"Last one after Littlefoot and Aylene is a scardy-egg!" Cera shouted as she raced after the leaders.
"Me no scardy-egg!" Petrie flew after them.
"Wait for us!" Ducky called after Spike threw her onto his back and set out running. "We're not scardy-eggs either."
Pretty soon, the Gang raced along the path and disappeared over the wall, completely aware of the potential dangers that awaited them in the Mysterious Beyond.