Sunday, December 20, 2009

Prehistory A Trip in Time Episode 2

Episode 2 Weird Bugs & Fish and the 1st Plants

Chrono came out of the portal with Serena & I piloting it. With the same dead landscape beneath us, Serena groused about me goofing up the controls again. With its typical green lettering, the chronometer stated with its green lettering: “Ordovician Period--- 450 MYA”. Oxy came into the cockpit and helped herself into a seat, limping with a bandaged foot as she went. She enquired about our place in the space-time continuum. The face of Mr Ng appeared itself on our monitor screen.

Mr Ng: “Hey, I heard of Oxy's foot, so I thought that i will send someone to help you guys out. Right in our cockpit, a bluish coloured portal appeared right inside of our cockpit. A dark-skinned girl appeared in front of us saying, “Hello nice to meet you, my name is Leena.” Mr Ng: “This is your new teammate for this mission. If there are no other issues to discuss, I am signing off.”

The monitor image disappeared to a click and the status screen chimed “Autopilot landing sequence” completed. After exchanging pleasantries with Leena we promptly decided Serena & I will go to explore the ocean while Oxy and Leena will stay in the ship as Oxy have not recovered sufficiently enough for the fieldwork. The air was 16% oxygen. As a result we had to take breathfuls of oxygen from our oxygen tanks. Without them, we will go into a coma. Also this time around, Serena and I decided to make the creatures come to us instead of us looking for them. Looking for a bait was easy-- nothing much have changed since the Cambrian and the shoreline was still littered with animal remains washed up from the sea. Trilobites and other bits and pieces of exoskeleton were jumbled in one smelly mess. We selected a small jawless fish. We put on our diving suits and waded into a shallow lagoon. Spearing the bait, I waved it in the shallow water, staining the water red. Serena monitored an underwater camera so that if something arrives, we will know about it.

Suddenly when I was holding a harpoon, I felt something tugging it. I quickly looked through my goggles and tried to investigate what could be causing the tugging. I looked down and saw a sea scorpion. Having just eaten the fish bait, waving its spines and claws, it was not too happy about being disturbed. It had a scorpion-like body and curled up its tail into a threat pose. I was forced to let go of it into the water and it cut my left leg with its claws. Reddish- blood stained the water. Serena got the action on camera

On the beach, the cut was still oozing blood. It was very deep. I applied antiseptic on the wound. Serena & I discussed what to do next. I suggested that we try look for something bigger. But the day passed by quicker than usual and evening fell quickly. The 21 hour days have disrupted our body clocks.

The next day after a hearty breakfast of kaya bread and eggs, Serena and I went to the beach again. We were very jovial and wondered with excitement at what we could find. But we had to find much bigger bait. We saw a large dead trilobite half buried in sand and we found it useful enough for the job. I removed the eyes and installed a miniature camera in place. It is connected to a monitor where we can see whether creature would like to take a free lunch. Wearing a chain mail suit to protect us against those pesky sea scorpions, we took our motor boat to a deeper portion of the lagoon. We laid our bait into the water and after that---- a long afternoon of waiting. We had a picnic, played our PSPs and chatted about the English Premier League.

Suddenly the rope became taut. I tried to pull the rope, but I seemed tuck to a much larger animal than a sea scorpion. Serena inspected the monitor footage. It showed an animal swimming through the water and using its tentacles it grasped the camera and bought it closer to its horny beak. The last image shown was one of the horny beaks before the footage ended. Serena remarked: “The creature is not going to stick around. Hurry we must dive!”Quickly we put on our breathing apparatus and dived into the water.

The rope formed a trail in the open sea. Serena pointed out that “If we follow the trail, it may lead us to the creature!” We followed the rope. The denizens of the Ordovician sea became apparent to us. Primitive jawless fish swam by us. Stalked trilobites peeked out of the sea bottom. Crinoids drifted in the water with their tentacles absorbing any food they can find. An army of sea scorpions were swimming in one direction. There was no apparent reason for this behaviour.

Suddenly, the rope ended. The bait seems to have been bitten off and the rope seemed to be frayed. We saw our target nearby. An Orthocone appeared. As long as 2 buses, it was big enough to be the creature that took the bait. Its shell was long and straight. Drifting in the water column, it grabbed an unsuspecting sea scorpion with its deadly tentacles. The sea scorpion struggled fully and the orthocone crushed its exoskeleton with an audible crunch.” I would hate to be caught by this creature”, Serena commented. No sooner she said that that the orthocone moved towards her, thinking that Serena would make a nice main course. I quckly shone a flashlight into its eyes hoping to distract it. It got deterred and retreated. Whew!!

Curious about the retreating orthocone, we wanted to see where it would go. Serena: “Hey let us grab the shell and swim with it!!!” Excitingly, we grabbed the tip of its shell and held onto it until the water got black. We realized that the orthocone was going into deeper water and we let go of it reluctantly. Swimming with the orthocone was an exhilarating experience. We are on our way back to shore with our boat when we saw the shoreline. The shoreline was full of sea scorpions mating --- that is where was the sea-scorpions was going. Disembarking from our boat, we quickly charged through the scorpion wall, clearing the way by handling the thrashing scorpions and throwing them aside. Night fell by the time we finished. Obviously, the Ordovician was no picnic--- you just cannot go anywhere without oxygen suits and you can't go into the water without a chain mail suit--- that doesn't sound like a very good place to take a time travel holiday.

Serena, Leena, Oxy & I discussed our findings over hot chocolate and marshmallows. We all agreed that have collected enough footage and we could all move on. Oxy’s foot was getting better. We went to Chrono's cockpit and after take-off procedures, and orange portal materialized and we continued our voyage in geological time.

Chrono appeared in the sky. The Earth has changed dramatically as we advanced forward 30 million years in time. As we noticed from our still airborne spaceship, the land has turned green in some spots. Our landing spot was chosen at a site not far from a shallow sea. Our chronometer read:” Silurian Period, 420 MYA”. We walked out of Chrono. Growing near the sea was clumps of Cooksonia, one of the first plants. Only a few centimetres tall and they had simple green stalks that kept branching in to two. These branches ended in black round spores. Occasionally though, we saw white pillar-like structures alongside the Cooksonia. Oxy went to touch one of the pillars and when she touched it, a cloud of spores was released. She sneezed in irritation.
After some discussion, we dived into the nearby shallow sea. Reefs made up of sponges dominated our view. A shoal of fish came to our view. The group of Climatius, sporting spines on their back and underbelly, ignored us. We were obviously not prey to them. However, suddenly a little fish was caught by a Brontoscorpio. Superficially, it looked like a scorpion, except it was a metre long and has bigger eyes. We watched it with caution as like its present day cousins, had a sting in its tail. However, the hunter was about to be hunted.

The Brontoscorpio was enjoying its lunch of fish when suddenly it disappeared into a cloud of dust. When the dust settled, a Pterygotus was holding the Brontoscorpio with its pincers. Brontoscorpio had no chance against its much larger rival. It got ripped apart into pieces without its bits or armour settling down the sea floor. We felt that we were lucky that we did not stand over the sport where the Brontoscorpio was as the Pterygotus could make a really big lunch from us

Another Pterygotus appeared. It swam with its paddles toward the first one. The former brandished its pincers to scare off the first animal. It seemed to want the fish that the first animal had. The two animals sized each other up and started the fight. I held the camera to film the fight. Using their pincers as weapons, they started to try to injure each other. They used their tails to manover themselves in the water. However, the turning point came when the 1st Pterygotus used its pincers to inflect a nasty looking gash in its rivals armour. The latter finally decided not to push the issue and quickly retreated, its greenish blood oozing into the water from its wound. The winner proceeded to tuck in its meal.
Night was falling and we decided to return to Chrono. We swam back towards the shore. On the shore, the sun was setting, turning the sky red. A Brontoscorpio was lying on the shoreline. It has just moulted and was not to willing to be disturbed. Its ghostly white old skin lay not too far from it. We did not think anything about it until we heard Oxy’s cries of distress.

Oxy was lying on the sand, clutching her left calf with her hands, crying out in pain, with the Brontoscorpio nearby walking away from her. As soon as possible, we rushed to her side. There was a reddish swelling on her left calf. Sobbing, she said: “It stung me here,”-pointing to her calf- “and it hurts very badly.” We carried her to Chrono. I got out the first-aid kit, took out the antivenin and injected into her arm using a syringe. Using the same syringe; I injected morphine into her arm well. She said,” Ouch, Sinwei, how much did you give me?” I replied.” 5ml, I am going to clean your wound and you are not going to like it when I do” I saw her still swollen leg and removed the stinger, still embedded inside her calf. Serean and Leena watched with interest my medical skills.
The next day, morning broke. We were in our cockpit to move 40 million years further to the future, with Serena, Leena and I operating Chrono. Oxy limped into the cockpit, wincing in pain as she goes. Leena asked her how she was and the latter replied:” Fine, Thank you very much” We activated the time portal and Chrono entered it....

Reported by: Immortal SSW

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