Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #019: The Perilous Pet

Monday, March 30, 2020 at 9:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #019: The Perilous Pet

Turok: Son of Stone #13

Andar makes a four-legged, half-tonne friend!

It’s a dark and stormy night, and Turok and Andar haven’t a roof over their heads. The nearest cave is crowded with surly cavemen who fear them to be “night-stealers” and bar them from entering. A quick snipe of an incoming honker that would’ve gobbled them otherwise is enough to put their minds at ease, and the two are given a bed…

… but they’re met with spears in the morning. Three of the dwellers disappeared in the night! They believe Turok and Andar are in cahoots with kidnappers and let this happen, but the two offer to track down their missing buddies. The trail leads to the river, and there’s no other coastline in sight, so it’s unlikely they took a raft anywhere.

The pair remain captive in the cave for fear of the night-stealers return… and despite setting a trip-wire to alert him of any intruders, Andar is taken in the night. Turok’s arguments for his innocence fall on deaf ears, and he’s forced to fight his way out before they do him in.
If the images this entry look particularly grubby, it’s because I no longer have digital copies of Dark Horse’s Son of Stone Archives to rely upon; only the first two volumes saw release as e-books, and the rest as premium, pricey hardbacks. I’m forced to try my hand at cleaning up scans of the vintage comics myself. Some issues are in better condition than others; I’m learning as we go!

Exploring the river again, Turok notices an island that wasn’t there before… and when he passes past a tall rock, it’s gone again! He soon realises the island moves with the river’s current, and takes a raft out to investigate, where Andar calls out to him and manages to break away from his captors. He explains that the night stealers kidnap folks to be their slaves, counting on their inability to swim to prevent them from leaving.

There’s a few dozen slaves still on the island, and they can hardly leave them hanging. The two return to the cave and arm the men with torches, taking them out on a raft to the incriminating island, using their fire to scare a dipolodocus towards it…

… and once it’s in range, striking it with an arrow, causing it to lash out and stomp the island to a pulp. The tribe reclaim their lost men, and although the night stealers escape in the darkness, they’re safe in the knowledge their kidnapping raids will no longer occur.

Young Earth continues, and finally tells something other than an animals-in-peril story — The Story of a Cave! It begins as something almost educational, explaining how caves formed on flat plains when rainwater and soil combine to make carbonic acid… before simply going on to show various beasts throughout the age fighting each other for control of the cave, concluding with a modern schoolkid uncovering the long-lost remains and cave drawings still untouched. This is the start of Young Earth‘s evolution into more general topics, often covering in a grander scope across various ages of prehistoric history.

While enjoying a good bathe, Turok and Andar are set upon by an angry brontosaurus! The big brute bullies Andar before he can react, forcing Turok to put it down with a poison arrow.
You’ll have seen me use the term already for lack of a better word, but this is the first appearance of “honker” in Turok’s lexicon. Until now, the characters had referred to the Lost Valley’s wildlife either by individual nicknames — meat-eater, three-horn, hopper — or simply using the all-purpose moniker, “monster”.

It’s a silly name, one the various reboots would enjoy poking fun at, but it adds a certain flavour to the proceedings. There’s no reason for characters to run around referring to them by scientific names that wouldn’t be applied for centuries! If it honks, call it a honker. It’s simple, colourful, and most importantly, memorable — Xenozoic Tales (aka Cadillacs & Dinosaurs) nearly thirty years later would also employ characterful nicknames, but there’s so many they’re a lot harder to keep track of: Zekes, shivats, macks, cutters, sambucks…! Although flavoursome, sometimes “long-neck” or “three-horn” is all you need.

Only after felling the beast do they realise why it was so up in arms: they were right next to its nest of eggs. All of them are smashed, however… all except one. Andar takes the notion of keeping it and helping it hatch; it might not, in which case there’s nothing to worry about. Turok humours him, but word spreads and their cave-neighbours don’t take kindly to them harbouring a potential menace near their turf — Andar fends off a would-be egg-smasher.

At long last, the honker hatches! A first a totey little thing, it soon grows to be taller than them, though the big lug is still shaky on its feet until Andar gives it some training. The locals still aren’t thrilled at this dangerous creature traipsing around with minimal supervision…

… and set out to kill the baby honker. Hearing its cries, Turok and Andar wallop the lot of them and defend the creature’s right to live, claiming responsibility if it ever does cause harm… but at this rate, their little pet project will have severed any trust they’d built with the local tribes.

That’s not stopping Andar. Now that it’s nearly at full size, he’s determined to ride the beast like he would his old ponies! It takes some trying (and no shortage of bumps on the head), but at least he’s able to rein the thing into a full-on gallop, even if it is a rocky ride.

Unfortunately, the big brute leads him right into the path of a feisty allosaurus, and although the brontosaurus saves its skin, Andar is not so lucky, taking a tumble that twists his ankle. He’s forced to keep the beast at bay with a small fire, but his pet returns to Turok and leads him to the scene, saving him from the threat.

Andar thanks his pet with a feast of foliage, and rewards him by setting it free. The brontosaurus is too big a pet to be practical, and he doesn’t want it to potentially endanger anyone else, forcing them to put it down; he’s rather let the creature live its own life.
I am a sucker for any and all stories involving pets, especially in a world where the local fauna is so strange and exotic. Turok’s a bit harsh, but he’s the closest Andar has to a parent figure in the Lost Valley, and someone needs to tell him a brontosaurus is a huge step-up in responsibility from wrangling a wolf or a horse. It’s not the first time Andar’s sought out an impractical pet, and it most certainly won’t be the last.

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