MENTAL ESSENCE
PAGE 48
    "Tomorrow we'll look up a pack of leaf huggers." Ott said as he passed by.
    Semma started thumbing through the guide.
    "What's it say?" asked MB.
    "Sounds hungry." Trent injected.
    "Not in the index." Semma replied.
    "I would like to spend some time at Lake Uppel." stated Cree.
    "Did you get a look a Ventans friends?" asked Emmer.
    "You mean did they look like Physicists?  Look in the mirror lately?" laughed Semma.
    "They didn't look like they came with letters." Hiret said.
    "I have not forgotten the adventure getting this far." Cree inserted.
    They laughed for a while, then turned in for the night.
    By mid-day, they were in a blind on the fringe of a open area deep inside the jungle.
    "Look there!" Ott said pointing to the right.
    Out of the shrubbery came a green waving mass that resembled flowing liquid.
    "I see why you didn't want us to know in advance." Cree said.
    "It's much more interesting when you see it with no preconceptions." Ott said.
    As they watched, dozens of twelve inch tall dinos, holding a variety of leaves with their front arms, slowly moved toward a herd of small grazers.  As they march forward, they waved their leaves back and forth.  The grazers seemed not to notice the approaching hazard.  When they were within striking distance, they dropped their leaves, and ran toward the herd making barking like noises as they went.  Two of them managed to jump on one of the grazers, but were shaken off.
    "If I hadn't seen that, I would never have believed it." stated MB.
    "Nor I." said Hiret.
    "Leaves use as tools. Quite unique." Trent mused.
    The gang of small carnivores scurried back to sides of the clearing leaving their leaves behind.
    "Not every hunt is successful." Ott said.
    "Let's camp at that Lake Berrel we talked about." suggested Cree.
    "On our way." replied Ott.
    On the way to Lake Berrel they encountered an armored snake like dino called a crawler.  It was about 60 feet long and 10 feet wide.  It looked like the roof of a house with large shingles. A large carnivore gave it a wide birth as it passed.
    "Good thing that crawler had all that armor.  That big guy would find something that slow one huge dinner." said Emmer.
    "We'll hold up over there for a few minutes." said Ott.
    "Why?" asked Semma.
    "Another surprise." Ott said.
    About 10 minutes later, came some very loud thrashing sounds from the direction on the crawler.
    "Wow again." said MB.
    Before them, locked in a titanic battle, were the crawler and carnivore that had looked like it was letting it alone.
    "I thought it was leaving the crawler alone." said Cree.
    "Nope.  It was just seizing up dinner." said Ott.
    "Which one was doing the sizing?" quipped MB.
    "Both." Ott said.
    "The crawler seems to be able to move faster than it let on." said Hiret.
    "You never know.  Every critter has its own technique." said Ott.
    "Who wins?" asked Hiret.
    "Don't know.  They will be locked in that final embrace for hours.  We can come this way on the way back." Ott replied.
    As they left, there was sever different kinds of dions heading in that direction.
    "A good fight always draws a crowd." said MB.
    "Before long, there will be a lot of fights around here with all these contenders roaming around." Ott said.
They could hear roaring for quite a ways, and there was a large number of flying scavengers headed in that direction.
    "You've got to be kidding!" shouted Emmer.
    As they approached Lake Berrel, they forged a river crowded with the largest long necks on Sairree.  The long necks raised their heads from under the water where they were feeding, and gave the crew a real up close and personal look as they passed.
    "Don't worry.  These guys are strictly herbivores." said Ott, as he maneuvered between them.
    A few heart attacks later, they rolled onto the beach at Lake Berrel.
    "That white spot over by the cliff is the camp site." Ott said, lifting his head in that direction.
    On the way to the hide they came upon several 10-foot-long oval shaped mammals lounging on the beach.
    "I thought there were no advanced mammals here.  We have those kinda critters on our planet." said Hiret.
    "Those have hair and scales.  Their internal organs are closer to reptiles then mammals.  Research says they will eventually evolve into real mammals in about 50 million years, or so." said Ott.
    From the point at which they first approached the beach, flyers from the size of a finger up to 60-foot wing spans hummed and shrieked all around them.
    "They want to know if we're eatable." said Ott.
    "Really glad we have the shield on the transport." said Semma.
    "You don't like being covered in dung from the sky?" Cree asked.
     "No.  Emmer is enough irritation to fill that portion of life cycle." Semma answered.
    Emmer started to say "I heard that," but MB interrupted.
    "Oh, look at that." MB shouted, pointing to one of the larger flyers as it was making off with a small Dino who had yet another smaller Dino in its clutches.
    "Feeling the wind from their wings is probably the most memorable sensation I will ever have." exclaimed Cree.
    They just stood there as if in a trance, gazing at the multitude of flyers struggling upward, diving down, gliding along, and each with its own distinctive cry, whistle, or song.
    "This is one more encounter no one will ever believe." said Cree with a sigh.