Dino Isle Chapter 7: Reconnaissance and Return

The next day the whole group slept in late – the excitement from the previous day had tired them all out but also kept them up late. Lily was the first one up, followed not too long after by Nick. The two set about organizing the supplies a bit more and preparing breakfast, occasionally stopping to take photos and notes of interesting dinosaur behavior below.

Charlie was up not too long after, and managed to get out quiet enough for John to sleep a little longer. Pretty soon all four adventurers were sitting around the revived campfire munching on toast and cereal.

“Thanks for the tea re-supply, I was just about out,” said Nick. “Earl Grey with a little lemon juice, my favorite.”

“You’re welcome!” said John and Lily.

They took it easy for the morning, with more work storing supplies, packing up samples for John and Lily to take home, and packing for the day. They prioritized cameras and equipment that would help them map out areas they either wouldn’t be able to reach on foot, or might want to visit later. They debated on the survey drones but decided to bring a couple in case they landed anywhere.

Once they were ready, they trekked back down to the beach where the helicopter was parked. It was just about lunch time, so they sat on the beach eating some sandwiches and talking some more about what had gone on over the last months. Afterwards, they got ready to go.

Lily was staying on the beach checking out the boat, so John was piloting the helicopter for this trip. “I have some extra presents for you!” he told Charlie. There in the back of the helicopter were two dirt bikes and a big tank of fuel.

“Those will be really helpful to get around!” said Charlie. “Can we drop them off in the camp?”

“Yeah, we should be able to do that by lowering them out the side of the chopper on a rope or something. Let’s do that later when we have someone on the ground there though,” suggested Nick.

The chopper had limited fuel, so they planned out their route carefully. They would circle the island once, going back and forth over the crater ridge to get good views of both sides, then cross it twice. Nick was interested in getting some good images of the far side of the island where he and Charlie hadn’t been yet and where Lily had seen different geology than the rest of the island as well.

The trip out got them plenty of opportunities to spot more dinosaurs. There were a couple herds of Hadrosaurs grazing, as well as small groups of predators nearby them looking for easy meals. At one point they spotted the group of three Baryonyxes that Charlie and Nick had seen shortly after arriving; John was excited, so Nick promised to take him to see them before he left the island.

When they got to the far side of the island, the sedimentary rock Lily had pointed out was clearly visible. The trees and plants nearby were similar, but the underlying rocks in that area were clearly different. Not too far away was a fairly flat clearing big enough to set the chopper down.

Once there the three set about setting the drones to start gathering pictures and data as well as taking some pictures of their own and rock samples.

“Look! Nick, John! Fossils!” cried Charlie.

Near the clearing was a sheer rock face where the sedimentary nature was obvious in the layer lines. Sure enough, there were actual fossils visible near the level they were standing at.

The others rushed over. Charlie was pointing out different layers and some of the fossils visible there. Charlie and John quickly set about taking notes and pictures, while Nick went back to the helicopter to get a tool kit for taking delicate samples.

The three spent some time documenting what they saw and even extracted a few smaller samples. After a while Charlie got up, frowned, and looked around, looking at the ground and the edges of the rock face quite closely.

“What’s up, buddy? Something wrong?” asked Nick.

“Nick… this area doesn’t seem entirely natural, does it?” asked Charlie. “I mean the clearing nearby, the… is that a path leading off that way? The exposed fossils, none of them are all that worn away. And those look like tool marks, but none of us were digging here. And the layer we’re standing on is roughly the early Triassic. Right where you’d stop digging if you were only interested in dinosaurs.And it’s pretty flat too.”

“Yeah, that is strange. But how could it be anything else? Did someone excavate it before us?” wondered Nick. “If so, where are they?”

“Maybe a Spinosaurus ate them!” exclaimed John.

“Maybe,” agreed Nick. “If that’s the case then we’d better be careful too – I don’t want it coming after us for another meal or three.”

John and Charlie returned to examining the fossils, many of which seemed very well preserved, but Nick was clearly puzzled by these signs of artificial alteration. “Do you mind if I repurpose one of the drones to signals for a bit?” he asked. “I think they’re almost done scanning the area anyway.”

“Sure, go ahead. We’re not in any rush,” replied Charlie.

Nick took out a tablet, recalled one of the drones, then sent it straight up with orders to record radio and IR spectra for a while. Then he started hiking around the perimeter of the area, peering off in different directions with binoculars.

After some time Charlie and John were satisfied with what they’d recorded and collected. Nick had made some notes and started looking at the signals data the drone had recorded, and they all piled back in the helicopter.

Once they were back in the air they flew back to the other side of the ridge. Off a few miles in the ocean they saw what looked like a medium sized boat heading straight away from the island. “Wait, who’s that? That’s not Lily leaving with our boat, is it?” Charlie asked, angrily.

Nick poked some buttons on his headset. “Chopper 1 to Dino Base, come in.”

“Hey Nick! What’s up?” Lily replied.

“Lily, where are you at right now?” inquired Nick.

“I’m back where you left me. Well I’m on the boat now, but it’s still near the beach. Why?”

“That’s odd… we just saw another boat leaving the island. But we’ve got no idea where it came from.” said Nick.

“Well it wasn’t over here, I would have seen it for sure,” LIly replied.

“Ok. Well hang tight, we’re about halfway done with our survey now – yeah I know it’s been longer than you thought, but we spent quite a bit of time on the ground in one place,” said Nick. “I don’t think I want to spoil the surprise on an open frequency but we’ll be back soon.”

The rest of the survey went much more according to plan. In addition to the clearing they had landed at, Nick and Charlie picked out a few good places to take day or overnight trips to for the remainder of their stay, and John got to see quite a few new dinosaurs.

After they landed back at the beach, John and Charlie started trekking back up the crater while Nick and Lily prepared the bikes and fuel tank to be lowered into the camp. They quickly dropped off the bikes, and then after landing the chopper again Nick and Lily scaled back up into the camp.

After they got there Lily started checking the bikes over mechanically while John, Nick, and Charlie headed towards where the Baryonyxes had last been seen. “A lot of dinosaurs gather by the watering hole near sunset, and those three are usually there,” said Charlie.

When they got close they stopped talking and moved forward as stealthily as they could. Sure enough, the three Baryonyxes were there drinking water.

“See, John?” Charlie whispered, “Three Baryonyxes!”

One of them was clearly no longer thirsty and was staring intently at the water. Then, suddenly, it lashed out – and it grabbed a fish. The other two moved to either side before staring into the water themselves while the first one ate its meal.

John was clearly excited by this development, turning to his brother with a huge smile, but did a great job staying quiet despite his obvious glee. Nick and Charlie couldn’t help but smile.

After they hiked back up to the camp site. John and Lily had brought the ingredients to make a couple pizzas, which Nick cooked in pans over the camp fire. They enjoyed their meal while the sun set behind the crater rim in the distance.

“This was a great day,” said John. “We have to leave tomorrow, but I’m really glad I got to see so much. And I really liked seeing the three Baryonyxes! Thanks for showing them to me!”

“You’re welcome buddy,” said Nick. “I hope we can count on you to come back if we need more supplies or a quick pick-up later.”

“You’ve got it!”