Sa was afraid-- very afraid. She wanted to run away, but fear of the tyrannosaur attacking her as she fled kept her rooted at High Bluff and with her guard up for another attack.
Grumpy growled and grunted at her for a few moments, while continuing to circle. As soon as Sa showed an ounce of reluctance, he pounced on her again. This time, however, she knew well enough to stay away from his biting mouth. He moved by her as she side stepped his attack.
Turning to his exposed back, Sa swung her fist over head as hard as she could and hit Grumpy on the back of the neck. He fell in a mass of writhing, reptilian flesh and struggled to stand again.
Suddenly Sa realized she had a weapon that could defeat the dinosaur. She had powerful arms with an extended reach, whereas its arms were simple, useless nubs. If she could avoid that vicious mouth of his, she could use her arms and fists against him as a superior force.
As the stunned Grumpy stood again, she moved in with her arms and fists pin wheeling at him. The dinosaur tried to chomp at her arms, but their speed and ferocity prevented him from getting in a solid bite. He backed away and hit the forest's edge.
And still Sa beat on him. Giving up, the tyrannosaurus king turned and ran away, willing to surrender this territory for today.
Pumped full of nervous energy, Sa pulled back into the center of the clearance and let out a scream that shook the air and sent the smaller jungle creatures running.
Finally she sat down in the clearing and relaxed, examining the wounds to her arm.
"I don't believe it," Will said, his tone incredulous. "Sa beat up Grumpy."
Holly stepped out to the cave's ledge and examined the injured giant Paku. "Daddy, I think she's hurt." Rick, Will and Cha-ka joined her to watch Sa. Holly cupped her hands around her mouth and called out. "Sa! No pulu? Wesa?"
The giant Sa looked over at them and waved her injured arm weakly. "Yo!" she thundered back at them. Apparently she was tired and bruised, but otherwise okay.
"C'mon," Rick said. "We've got to find Ta and see if he can change her back to normal size." He climbed down from the cave mouth to ground level, with the others close behind him.
"Where is Ta, Dad?" Will asked. "I saw him run off in the jungle when Grumpy showed up."
Rick looked around for Ta. "Which way did he go?" Will pointed. "He couldn't have gone far. Let's go see if we can find him." He turned to his daughter. "Holly, you and Cha-ka stay here with Sa."
"Okay, Daddy," she replied, but he was already running off with Will and she couldn't be sure if he'd heard her confirmation.
In the jungle, Rick and Will didn't have to go far to find Ta. He was running back toward High Bluff and they literally ran into each other, each nearly falling to the ground from the impact.
Rick was the first to regain his composure. The first thing he noticed was that Ta no longer had the miniature pylon with him. "Ta!" he shouted. He grabbed Ta by the shoulder and held him roughly while shouting in his face. "You can't leave Sa like this! You'll destroy this world if you don't return her to normal size and stop using that pylon!"
Ta struggled under Rick's hold, a touch of arrogance in his eye. He was now the king of the jungle and he wouldn't let the humans push him around. "No! Ta no sesu ye! No! No!"
"Where is the pylon?" Rick demanded. "Sa ego pylon? Sa ego?"
"No! No lupari!" Ta twisted under Rick's grasp and gave him a hateful look.
Will moved in behind Ta and repeated his father, "C'mon, Ta. Where'd you put the pylon?" Ta didn't answer and continued to squirm.
Angry, Rick let him go. "Forget it, Will. He's hidden the miniature pylon somewhere near here and we just need to find it."
"Ta no sesu ye!" the Paku shouted at him before running off to Sa and High Bluff again.
Ignoring him, Rick said, "Let's fan out and see if we can find where he's hidden it."
"It shouldn't be too hard to find," Will said sarcastically. "Just look for wherever all the plants, bugs and animals are real big."
Holly and Cha-ka stood next the gigantic Sa, not knowing what to say or do, when Ta returned.
"Na humani efi!" Ta commanded Sa, while pointing toward the cave entrance.
Holly didn't necessarily understand what Ta was saying, but she certainly understood his meaning. She planted herself between Ta and Sa. "Oh, no you don't!"
"Ku, humani!" Ta commanded. He shoved at her and she shoved back. He shoved harder and she lost her balance, falling on her hip. "Na humani efi!" he again shouted to Sa, ignoring the fallen Holly.
Cha-ka gave Ta a look of disgust, obviously not happy with Ta's actions, and helped Holly to her feet.
"Sa!" Ta continued. "Na humani efi! Na! Na! Bako Pakuni jimera!" He jumped up and down and repeatedly pointed to the cave entrance.
Sa looked down from the shouting Ta to Cha-ka and Holly. She didn't like what she was hearing from Ta. He had hurt Holly. He was being a bully. Holly had saved her from the giant beetle. Why did Ta want to hurt her and the humans?
Yet, now she was bigger and stronger than Ta. She was more powerful. Did that make her the dominant Paku? She decided to test her limits. "No," she told him flatly, thereby denying his commands.
Not believing what he was hearing, Ta looked at her stunned. Once he composed himself, he expressed extreme anger. "Sesu me! Na humani efi!"
"No. No na humani efi," she told him. She folded her arms in defiance and just sat there, refusing to move.
"You tell him, Sa!" Holly encouraged. "Don't let Ta push you around! He's just a dumb bully!"
Frustrated, Ta pushed with all his might on Sa's resting leg. "Ku! Ku!" But as much as he tried, she didn't budge.
Ta backed away and looked up into her defiant face. Realizing he couldn't dominate her physically, he decided to fall back on his usual intimidation techniques. "Sa," he said in a calm, reasonable voice. This caught her attention and she listened attentively. "Sheri! Na humani efi. Pakuni ra humani onam, tu, wesa hiroshi, wesa efi. Cha-ka, Ta, Sa ra wesa efi."
Sa's expression wavered, unsure if she should consider his words. "Don't listen to him, Sa!" Holly cried out. "He's just trying to use you! Stand up to him! You're bigger than him! Show him who's boss!"
Angry, Ta shoved at Holly. "Ye po, humani!" he demanded. Holly stumbled backwards into Sa's thigh.
That did it. Sa had come to like and respect the little human female because of her friendship with Cha-ka and the way she had saved them when the giant beetle attacked. She refused to hurt the humans and resented the way Ta was treating Holly. "Me no pulu humani," she stated plainly and turned away from Ta.
Obviously not happy, Ta shuffled around and contemplated what to do. Sa was asserting her dominance and that wasn't good. He didn't want her to realize that she could become the alpha Paku and take over. That would not be good for him. Finally, he decided to give up on the humans and try something different. He moved off toward the jungle. "Ba," he commanded, and waved his arms to indicate that she should follow.
Now that Ta was no longer pushing to take the human things, Sa's natural instinct to obey Ta took over. Slowly, she stood up and walked heavily after him and into the jungle.
"Oh, no," fretted Holly. She couldn't be sure what Ta's intentions were going to be now or what kind of trouble he was going to cause. "Sa! Don't listen to him! Don't follow him!"
Sa turned, gave Holly a sad look, and shrugged helplessly. Then she turned back and, shoving a tree easily out of the way, walked into the jungle after Ta.
Cha-ka also began to obediently follow, when Holly grabbed him by the arm. She wanted to keep him close and safe. She also wanted to help Sa and stop her before she got into more trouble-- like meeting up with Grumpy again.
"Daddy!" she called out, unsure if he could hear her. Regardless, she and Cha-ka ran into the jungle after Ta and Sa.
Rick and Will's search for the miniature pylon was turning up nothing. They had looked in every place they could think of, but couldn't find it. The search was proving futile. But they had to find it and try to save Sa, as well as prevent Ta from using it again.
Will stood from checking the nook of a tree and looked to his father. "Where could he have put it?" he asked sarcastically.
"We have no idea of knowing," Rick answered, continuing the search.
Just as he was parting some thick ferns and searching the ground around their roots, Rick heard Holly calling to him. He stood and looked toward the sound of her voice. "Will," he said to his son, "it's Holly. We can look for the pylon later and maybe get that dirty, little Ta to show us where he stashed it. Let's go see what Holly needs."
They took off after the sound of her voice.
Although they couldn't always see them, Sa wasn't too hard for Holly and Cha-ka to follow because of her thrashing and the debris field she left in her wake.
Suddenly, the thrashing sound stopped and was replaced by a deep, guttural roar. They increased their speed through the jungle. Within a few seconds, they broke through to another clearing and stopped short at what they saw.
At one end of the clearing was the triceratops, Spike, looking angry at the encroachment into his territory. At the other end was Sa, looking frightened, but ready for another confrontation.
Ta stood not too far away, looking smug with his newfound power. "Fliba!" he commanded Sa and started dancing around in a simulated fistfight to show his meaning.
Holly's father and brother entered the clearing and quickly joined her and Cha-ka to watch the melee in horror.
Spike roared once, then charged at full speed.
Sa held her ground, but the sight of the approaching triple horns caused her to balk and finally jump sideways to avoid them. The dinosaur skidded to a stop, turning its body to keep its dangerous horns aimed at the Paku. It bellowed at her and shook its crested head.
Crying out in a high moan of fear, Sa lost any confidence she had a moment ago. Again, Spike charged and she ran. Cornered at the edge of the clearing, she leapt into the trees and struggled against their bent and broken trunks to stay above the level of the deadly horns. They couldn't hold her weight and she started drooping to the ground where Spike threatened to charge again.
"We have to help her!" Holly cried out to her father.
Rick looked at her frantically. "I'd like to, but how do you stop a fifteen ton triceratops from charging?"
"You don't," answered Will under his breath.
"Maybe if we can distract Spike, it'll give Sa time enough to get away." He stepped out into the clearing and started shouting and waving his arms. The others, even Ta, joined him.
Spike turned at the noise, careful to keep an eye still on the frightened Sa. Rick picked up a fist size rock and threw it at the creature. Of course, it didn't reach across the clearing, but it was enough that the none-too-bright creature turned its full attention on the small band of humans and Pakuni yelling at it.
Now the creature snorted and grunted and prepared to charge at them! The group backed up and readied to run when--
Sa ran across the clearing and kicked Spike's exposed side as hard as she could. Spike's charge was halted by this unexpected turn of events. It slid sideways, growled its frustrations, then stomped off through the jungle, willing to leave this patch of jungle to the giant Paku for today.
But Sa wasn't finished yet. She turned on the small group and especially, the much smaller Ta who had been commanding her and had done all this to her. "TA!" she thundered in her fury. "ME KERA WESA SHU!" She slammed a fist into the ground beside Ta with such rage and power that the entire group was knocked to their feet.
On his knees, Rick demanded, "Where is the pylon, Ta? Sa ego?"
Ta backed away from Sa and the humans, belligerent fear playing across his face. "No! Ta no ma a lupari. Me lupari. Me lupari."
"TA!" Sa bellowed, "MA LUPARI!" She reached down and scooped up the frightened Ta in her giant hand. Lifting him up to her face, she realized that with just a close of her fist, she could crush him. She was so angry that she was tempted. Truly terrified, Ta backed up as far as he could from her face and cowered on the edge of her fingers.
Rick realized that if Sa hurt Ta, they might not be able to recover the missing pylon. "Sa! Put Ta down! Ku duchi! Ta duchi!"
But Sa couldn't hear. She was too engulfed in fear and rage to think of anything else but the little Paku that she held in her hand. She shook him, just to show what kind of power she had.
Despite his pleas, Rick couldn't make himself heard by Sa. Maybe... He bent to Cha-ka's level and through English, Paku and pantomimes, explained to him that he needed to make Sa understand that only Ta knew where the miniature pylon was located and she must put him down.
Meanwhile, Sa roared at Ta. "DE SI-SA!"
Ta backed away to her thumb, stumbling over the gaps between her fingers. "No. Ta bi-oganza." At this, Sa closed her fist just enough to stop Ta from getting away and shook him violently. Opening her fist again, she looked at him with a look that said that if he did not comply, she would do it again, only harder next time. Dejected and afraid, Ta finally conceded. "Wesa. Ta bu si-Sa."
It was then that Sa finally heard the tiny voice of Cha-ka calling to her from the ground. Relieved that Ta was willing to relent and things would soon be back to normal, Sa deposited Ta back on the ground beside Cha-ka. "De si-sa," she commanded.
"Yo," agreed Ta, rejection and disappointment in his voice and manner. He shuffled off into the jungle.
"Well, it's about time," declared Will.
Pushing aside the boulder, Ta looked around the area with confusion. The others, including Sa, had followed after him to be sure he did as he was told. They watched as he scratched his head and nudged several large rocks and boulders scattered about the jungle floor.
Holly sighed. "Don't tell me he lost it."
"Maybe so," said Will, looking around the area. "Look around. Many of the trees around here are damaged and the ferns are all broken and scattered. Sa must have disturbed the area when she came through."
"And in the process," offered Rick, "the miniature pylon was lost." He walked up to the befuddled Ta. "Ta? Where's the pylon? Sa ego?"
Ta looked at him with bemusement, then pointed to the large rocks scattered about. "Akika. Lupari akika."
"Okay, let's fan out and see if we can--"
"TA!" shouted Sa, shaking the entire area. "SA EGO LUPARI?"
"Akika," he called back to her, his voice laced with fear. "Lupari akika. Pa no akika."
Feeling deceived and angry, Sa once again slammed her fist into the ground beside Ta. She growled and began going on a rampage, crashing through the trees and destroying the jungle around her.
"We've got to find that pylon!" Rick shouted. Everyone scattered in a near futile attempt to find the missing pylon.
Meanwhile, Sa raged and terrorized the jungle.
It seemed almost like an eternity as they frantically searched while trying to stay out of the way of Sa as she tore up the jungle around them. But moments later, Cha-ka called to them. He was high up in an as yet undamaged tree, hugging its trunk and pointing to an area on the ground. "Wi-ra. Akika. Lupari. Cha-ka wu lupari. Akika."
The others heard him and followed to where he pointed. Rick got there first and sure enough, the shiny gold of the pylon glinted out from amongst some shredded and damaged ferns. He picked it up just as the others arrived and held it close to himself-- in particular, away from Ta. He got a closer look at it for the first time. It looked like an ordinary pylon like they would find in the jungle, except it was smaller. It even had a tiny, diamond shaped doorway/opening on one side. Rick looked inside--
Sa went running by them, nearly stomping Cha-ka. Her foot hit the ground so hard that all but Rick and Will fell to the ground. Will helped his sister to her feet and said, "You'd better hurry, Dad, before Sa destroys the entire Land of the Lost." Sa roared in frustration and uprooted a small tree. "Do you know how to make it work?" he asked.
Ta grabbed at the pylon, but Rick pulled it away from his grasp. "I don't think so, Ta. Just show me how to operate it." Ta pantomimed that he should put his fingers inside the pylon's miniature doorway. Rick looked inside and saw what looked like a tiny matrix table. There were only four tiny crystals on the table, each of a different color.
"What do you see, Daddy?" Holly asked, straining to see past her father's arms and into the pylon.
"It looks like controls of some sort." He held the pylon away from himself. "Stand back," he commanded and the others stepped away as Rick aimed the top end of the pylon at a nearby fern.
Reaching inside the pylon's hole, Rick touched two of the crystals. A beam of light, accompanied by a distinct buzz, shot out from the end of the pylon and struck the fern. Within a second, the fern had grown to ten times its original size, its newer, larger root system tearing up the soft ground around it and the leaves casting a cool shadow on all of them.
"We don't want to make things bigger, Dad," Will offered, "we want to make them smaller."
"I know son, but we don't even know if this thing can make things smaller and not just bigger. I have to experiment to see what it can do."
Again, he held the pylon before himself and aimed it at another of the nearby ferns. He touched two different crystals and again, the beam shot out. This time, though, the fern didn't grow-- it disintegrated! This thing was obviously much more dangerous than they had realized. "That's obviously not it," he told the group, "but I think I'm on the right track."
Aiming at yet another fern, he pressed another combination of the crystals. This time, the beam hit the fern and it had the desired effect; the plant shrank to ten times smaller than its original size. It now looked like a tiny weed in the ground.
The two children shouted with exuberance and called to the still rampaging Sa, but she was too busy destroying the jungle to hear or understand.
Once more, Rick experimented touching the shrinking combination of crystals and aimed it at the first fern which the pylon had blown up to gargantuan proportions. The beam of light shrank the fern to its original size and it slumped sideways, the broken ground no longer able to hold it's smaller roots.
"Now use it on Sa, Daddy," Holly said.
Rick turned to her, but he was unsure if he could shrink her if she continued her rampage. "We have to get close to her and get her to hold still."
They called and cajoled her with little success, but it was finally Holly and Cha-ka that got through to her infuriated senses. They convinced her to hold still long enough for Rick to use the pylon. Her expression was still angry and untrusting, but she conceded.
Holding the business end of the miniature pylon toward Sa, Rick put his fingers inside and was careful to touch just the right combination of crystals. If this didn't work...
The beam of light lance out and struck Sa in the leg. Within two seconds, she had returned to normal size.
The jungle was silent. Sa stood unmoving and the others merely watched and waited for something to happen. It was Holly who finally broke the silence. "Are you okay, Sa? Wesa?"
Gently touching herself all over, Sa finally conceded success. "Yo," was all she said. The others sighed in relief. They moved in to congratulate Sa, each giving words of elation, but she held up her hand and retained a serious expression. This seriousness gave them pause.
She shot a nasty look at Ta, then stepped up to Rick and extended her hand for the pylon. Silently, he gave it to her.
"Dad, what are you doing!?" cried Will.
"It's okay," replied Rick in a gentle voice. "After what she's been through, I think she deserves this."
Taking the pylon, Sa turned to Ta and held it toward him. For a moment, it looked like she might be using it to grow, shrink or destroy the other Paku, but she was merely presenting it to him to show that she now had it in her possession.
Wordlessly, she turned and walked away. Curious, the others followed.
Several minutes later, Sa led them toward the great crevasse that separated the Land of the Lost and kept the humans and Pakuni on one side and the Sleestak on the other. She walked toward the stone bridge that crossed the gap.
"Dad?" Will asked in a whisper as they followed behind her. "Do you think she's going to use that pylon against the Sleestak?"
"I don't know what she's going to do, but I have a pretty good idea."
But Rick didn't reply.
Sa stopped right in the middle of the rock bridge. Silently and unceremoniously, she tossed the miniature pylon into the crevasse. It fell without a sound. The bottom and the river were so far away that it was impossible to hear it ever land. When it did, it was surely broken into many useless pieces by now.
No one would ever use that pylon ever again.
Hours later, the Pakuni returned to their damaged compound and the Marshalls returned to High Bluff. The day was winding down and the Marshalls were gathered around the table in their cave enjoying dinner and reflecting on the day's events.
"So I guess that explains the gigantic fruits and vegetables around here," offered Will.
Rick slipped a slice of raw carrot-- normal sized carrot for today-- into his mouth and answered around his chewing. "I think so, Will. It might also explain Spot."
"Yes. I always did think he was too large for a ceolophysis. As far as I knew, they were a lot smaller back on Earth. That pylon could explain a lot of things around here."
"Yeah, I guess so," Will answered reflectively.
Rick turned to Holly, who had been silent most of the evening and was now just sitting there with a far away expression. "What's the matter, Honey?"
She looked at him with a sad, slightly regretful look. "I was just thinking about that miniature pylon."
"What about it?"
"Well... I just wished we could have kept it a little longer. I mean... we've got all sorts of fruits and vegetables here and most of them we can get in super jumbo sizes, but what I really miss from back home are cherries. Remember the wild cherries we used to get from Aunt Ruthie's place? I wish we could find some of those and use the pylon to make them really big so we could have lots and lots of them all the time."
"Oh, yeah," enthused Will. "That'd be great."
"But there are no cherry trees here," Rick told them.
Holly smiled. "I know, Daddy. I was just dreaming of home and wishing we could have a little of it here in the Land of the Lost."
The others laughed and continued reminiscing of home until bedtime.