The oviraptor was an egg thief, one of the best of the Mesozoic, but one of their number failed so spectacularly that history did more than record it. It became a story told across super-continents, across ages, and even between the planets of the Milky Way. The oviraptor, were she intelligent enough to speak, would not call her heist a failure.
The egg was special; she knew that the moment she snatched it. It had a shell of two components: half metal and half glass. The glass was full of a reddish-amber liquid, like the blood of ancient trees happily spilled. Within the liquid grew an embryo, unlike one that came out of Mesozoic eggs. The first thing they learned was that it couldn’t be eaten, at all. The strongest beaks and claws had no effect on its material. They dropped rocks on it. Not a scratch. Defeated and hungry, the oviraptors didn’t know what else to do with it. They threw it in with their own eggs and waited, occasionally mesmerized by its pulsing warmth.
Eventually it did hatch, along with the others, almost as if it sensed their emergence. What came out had never been seen by dinosaur eyes. It had no scales, a large floppy head, and it couldn’t move on its own. They thought perhaps they would try eating it again, to put it out of its misery, but its shell prevented that, zapping anything that came too close with tiny blasts of lightning.
The oviraptor who had stolen the egg, who had put in her nest, was recognizable by the scorched feathers on her arms she had earned while trying to care for the infant. When the various peoples of time retold her story they would simply call her Ember. The child was called Eggtooth.
Eggtooth was helpless at the beginning, but the shell took care of him. It emitted a dome of energy around him, so nothing could affect his temperature. It fed him floating globules of the amber fluid. It washed him with pulses of temporal energy, aging him in bursts. Only once he could hunt on his own did the dome disappear and the shell’s lights finally go out.
After that Eggtooth was part of the Dozen, which is what the stories called a group of oviraptors. He hunted with them, played with them, and confused them with his endless babbling. It took him five years to learn all the right chirps and clicks. At night he slept tucked under Ember’s wing, even as he outgrew its use as a blanket.
The raptors had no idea when he would stop growing, but they assumed the man that came out of the miniature sun heralded some sort of adulthood. He came twenty-five years after the egg, and brought with him many more mysteries.
“There you are,” the new man said as the miniature sun shrank and disappeared behind him. There was a coating of sorts all over his body, with the pieces separate but floppy. The clothing annoyed the dinosaurs, who thought of it as too like the buzzing wings of the flies that bit at their eyes. His hair was short, his face wrinklier than Eggtooth’s, and he carried a walking stick of metal topped with lights.
“We’ve been looking everywhere for you,” he said, waving his hand over his stick. The lights dashed over to Eggtooth and danced across his skin systematically. Eggtooth tried to brush them off. “What’s the matter? Why are you not speaking? Don’t tell me the language installation went wall-eyed…”
“I remember your words,” Eggtooth said, returning to the babbling that had so annoyed Ember and the others. The dinosaurs circled around the two of them, some of them clicking their claws menacingly at the new figure. Born of a sun or not, he wouldn’t hurt their little Eggtooth. “They came from my egg,” the young man said, a little more uncertain.
“Yes they came from your genesis pod,” he explained. “You were sent here as an embryo, with enough stored food and smarts to get you to adulthood, and then you were supposed to make an impact on the past. You were supposed to speed up our progress and make it so we could reach the stars faster than the first time. We sent hundreds of you to various eras. You invented you in fact. We had a hiccup in the device though. You were sent too far back.” Eggtooth eyed him warily, not following his jabber. He stood on his toes and craned his neck in a menacing dinosaur-like fashion.
“No worries,” the man explained, looking disgusted by his posture. “It’s all sorted now. Enough time has past. I’m just snagging the one loose end.Come back with me, to your own time.” Eggtooth chirped and gnashed his teeth. The oviraptors responded in kind. They closed in around the man. He grimaced and tapped the light at the end of his stick.
All of the dinosaurs and Eggtooth were pushed back. He shouted something about civilizing the young man, and then light turned into cloth. It flew out of his staff in strips and bound Eggtooth in clothing. Ember put herself in the way, blocking the jacket, and then ripped the woolen skin off of her young. Eggtooth stumbled backward and ran into the jungle.
“You’re my responsibility!” the man yelled after him. He pursued via his miniature sun, opening and closing it whenever Eggtooth got too far. He appeard in the tops of trees, and under rotten logs, grabbing at Eggtooth’s arms and trying to pull him into the future.
Eggtooth had made many friends in the primordial jungle, and all of them hated the sight of the miniature sun. The oviraptors nipped at the man’s arms whenever they emerged. The ceratopsians charged him from the undergrowth and allowed Eggtooth to flee on their backs. He called forth the tiny pterosaurs, the ones with gravy-boat mouths full of needle teeth and bright red wings, and ordered them to swarm the man.
“Oragaaaaa! Oragaaaaaaaa!” Eggtooth roared, mimicking the pterosaurs’ battle cry. They bit and bit, despite the man’s complaints. A much larger pterosaur, one Eggtooth had saved from a vicious theropod, swooped by. He jumped onto its back and soared towards the distracted man. He leapt from its leathery back and kicked the man in the chest. “Oragaaaaaaaa!” The enemy dropped his light-up stick and vanished inside the sun he was leaning out of. All of the dinosaurs roared at it at once, convinced their rage was closing it.
When it was gone for good they celebrated. Eggtooth carried the stick around as a trophy, hoisting it over his head and repeating his new battle cry. “Oragaaaa!” The oviraptors danced on their delicate sharp feet, nuzzling their beaks against his proudly bare chest. That night, he slept well under Ember’s wing, with long-necked lizards wound between his toes.
Over time his curiosity grew and he began fiddling with the lights on the stick. He learned how to bring in food from the future. His Dozen gorged on fish tacos, pineapple pizza, and Christmas hams from twenty different Christmases across human history.
He was trying to bring in an omelet when the light turned into something familiar in his hands. An egg. An egg in two parts, with a tiny person inside. Eggtooth smiled. He brought in more. The future would be man’s, and it would also be the dinosaurs’.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by SquishySnail during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!