Words in italics indicate character thoughts, introspective narration, or flashbacks.
Disclaimer: I don't own The Land Before Time.
So yeah, here's something new for me — a fanfiction prompt challenge!
Honestly, I never thought that I'd end up doing one of these, but well here we are. Guess it's time for me to throw my own two cents into the mix! The main factor that prompted me to join in this prompt challenge was namely in thanks to the encouragement of some of the kind members over at the Gang of Five forum, so I'll like to extend an extra special thanks to DiddyKF1, Sovereign and Rhombus. Thank you three so much, I really do appreciate all your words of support!
Anyway, here is the Gang of Five forum's fanfiction prompt challenge for the month of July 2018 (yes, the July prompt deadline is in August, don't ask why): "There comes a time in everyone's life where a choice must be made, one which may irreversibly alter the path ahead."
Just a bit of a warning: this story gets tragic. See that 'Tragedy' tag attached to the fic on FFN? Yeah, you might want to bring tissues.
"The price of greatness is responsibility." — Winston Churchill.
Ah, the burden of leadership! With great power comes great responsibility, especially when a leader is faced with the ever prominent issue of having to make a choice. While small choices might seem inconsequential, decisions made at the higher level for larger problems can have far-reaching consequences should an incorrect consensus be reached.
So what decision would you make as a leader when a tough choice presents itself? Would you go against the popular flow to make the right call? Or would you succumb to peer pressure and choose to take the easy way out?
In history, there have been many great decisions made under the wisest of leaders in the toughest of times, and just as many horrible choices made by the folly of short-sighted men and women who were unable to see that their decision would mark the beginning of a domino effect that even they themselves could not undo once they had pulled the trigger…
Today's tale will focus on one such choice as a leader faces the prospect of making a monumental decision… as well as having to deal with its everlasting repercussions after the fateful choice has been made.
The first thought that entered Littlefoot's mind as his friends all collectively ran away from the hatching egg was plain, simple, and primal.
Littlefoot took in a deep breath as he fought every instinct in his legs telling him to flee from the area to as far away as he could possibly run.
This couldn't be real. This had to be a bad sleep story, right?
In the Great Valley.
This was so not good.
Needless to say, the longneck was beginning to regret their earlier hastiness in not telling the adults about the eggstealer situation a whole lot more in hindsight.
"Bring back my brother! Um… or sister!"
And to think that it had all started out so simply, too. Just an adventure between them five to rescue a stolen egg from Ducky's family. It was only afterwards that they'd found out that the egg hadn't been from her family at all… not even close. And thus, they were stuck with an unclaimed egg from who knows where. The gang then assumed that since they had no idea which family the egg had come from, then perhaps they should at least wait for it to hatch before making any further decisions about what to do.
And now, with this dilemma now on him, Littlefoot came to the sobering realization that perhaps they really should be warier about the word "assume".
Thanks to their little assumption, they all were now in deep trouble. Instead of witnessing the hatching of a leafeater from the egg that they had managed to steal back from two eggstealers after the duo had seemingly taken it from one of the valley residents, what greeted the longneck instead was a tiny purple sharptooth hatchling.
Its innocent red eyes quietly looked around his surroundings, his relative silence a great contrast to the orchestra that was performed by screaming leafeaters running away from him. The sharptooth cocked his head, oblivious as to why these creatures were causing such a loud noise, not knowing that the reason that the group around it was panicking was actually because of him.
"We have to get rid of it!" Cera yelled to the group as she furrowed her frill once she got a significant distance away from it. "It's a freaking sharptooth!"
Littlefoot peered at the sharptooth hatchling to see it waving its stubby arms around in a curious manner. His heart softened at the sight when it struck him just how young the sharptooth was. "Come on, guys!" the friendly longneck tried to dissuade his friends away from Cera's suggestion. "Look, it's just a hatchling. It's practically harmless!"
"As if! Do you have rocks for brains? Hatchling or not, it's still a sharptooth, Littlefoot!"
"I agree with Cera. I do not think that it is harmless at all. No, no, no."
"Me think so too! All sharptooth bad creatures! Even if it cute, very small and teeny-tiny now, one day it be big and scary!"
Littlefoot sighed exasperatedly when even the silent Spike choose to murmur a grunt and consent his agreement to add his voice with the other few, resulting in his friends thus cornering him in a four-against-one argument. Despite the surmounting odds, the longneck still chose to remain optimistic, maintaining his stand as he pressed on with his point. Maybe, just maybe, he could be able to lead the young sharptooth down a different path…
"But guys, there's no need to take it away. We can raise it to eat green food! This way, he won't have to be a bad sharptooth!"
Cera's eyes bulged as her ears caught wind of Littlefoot's idea. The sight would have been comedic had it not been for the subject matter that they were discussing. "Look, I know that I disagree with you on a lot of things, flathead." She calmly took in a large breath to control her quaking voice before she carried on, "But this is by far, the most reckless, stupidest thing that I've heard from you in a long time, Littlefoot!"
"Uhh…" Littlefoot raised his neck to try and give an explanation, but Cera continued to ramble on, not letting him get a chance to speak.
"It's a sharptooth, Littlefoot! It will never be like us! Never!" Cera yelled, glaring at the small creature who was walking towards her, the hatchling ironically interested in the source of the howling voice which was dissing it. "Your idea is doomed from the get-go! Do you think the grownups will accept this plan? As if… you'd be the laughing stock of the entire valley if word gets out!"
"But Cera…" By now the remaining three had kept their mouths shut, knowing better than to interfere in one of Littlefoot and Cera's verbal spars.
"You know, I lost my mother and sisters to sharpteeth. As a result, my daddy almost had no one left to accompany him in the Great Valley. Nobody except for me, that is…" Cera said suddenly, causing Littlefoot to stiffen at her admission. The very fact that Cera was letting her insecurities show was noteworthy — she almost never did, and when she admitted them she had a very good reason for it. "If you can somehow convince my daddy that not all sharpteeth are bad, then maybe I'll listen to your grand proposal. Otherwise, you can forget about it-YOW!"
Hearing the sickening chomp as the sharptooth curiously bit down on the distracted Cera's tail, Littlefoot froze up, his mind replaying an event from a long time ago…
"It's going to eat us, mother!"
A loud chomp then rang through the air as the predator and his mother fought, with Littlefoot forced to flee as Sharptooth tore through her flank.
"No!" Littlefoot yelled with tears in his eyes as he ran away with Cera in tow. "Motherrrrr!"
"You stupid sharptooth hatchling! Get off my tail! Now!" Unaware of Littlefoot's inner demons crawling in his head, Cera whirled around with anger in her eyes as she vigorously shook the sharptooth off her bruised tail, causing the curious creature to lose his grip and land snout-first on the ground.
"That does it!" Cera's green eyes were brimming with fire as she bared her horn. "I don't care what you say now, flathead! You see this!?" she yelled as she turned around to show off her injured tail, "This is proof that it's dangerous! Ohhhh… this sharptooth is going down! Down!" the threehorn began to rant, her voice bordering on paranoia.
Littlefoot, however, was in a world of his own, unable to hear Cera's outcry of war. Both the good and cruel sides of Littlefoot's mind wrestled for control over his subsequent actions. Normally, the optimistic longneck would listen to his nicer side…
"Mother, please… get up…"
"I'm… not sure I can, Littlefoot."
"Yes, you can… you've got to!"
…but this time, Littlefoot narrowed his eyes, unable to personify the differences between the adult murderous sharptooth and the newborn sharptooth hatchling as his past memories of his mother being killed by Sharptooth forced his conscience aside. Any consideration of sparing it left his mind when Littlefoot found that he was beginning to associate the actions of Sharptooth with the newborn.
After all, they were the same species. They were all the same at heart. Someone like that hatchling had been the one who had cruelly taken his mother away from him far before her time.
His original retort to Cera's statement died in his throat at the sobering thought. "Hey, Cera…"
"What!?" Cera snapped, turning on Littlefoot before he could even continue beyond a single word. "Are you actually going to rebuke me on this again? Because if you are—"
"No, wait!" he shook his head. "I'm not going to fight you on this. I actually agree with you, Cera."
"Wait… what?" Cera gasped in surprise, before quickly turning her face neutral to hide her shock from Littlefoot, even though she wasn't fooling anyone with her act. "Humph!" she pridefully held her head up at her victory as Littlefoot shook his head at this same old spiel, "Glad to see that I've finally knocked some common sense into you for once!"
"So then, does this mean that we're all in agreement?" Littlefoot cautiously asked as he looked on over to his left and right. "Ducky? Spike? Petrie?"
With the remaining three being prompted to speak up and now certain that the argument between Littlefoot and Cera was over, they hence imparted their own opinions.
"Me no disagree! Baby sharptooth must go!"
"You are absolutely right there, Petrie, yes you are. Yep, yep, yep!"
Having received a unanimous consensus from all his friends, Littlefoot turned his head towards the purple hatching, who was mundanely swiping its claws in the air, blissfully unaware of his impending doom as the leafeaters were discussing his fate. "Okay then, so I guess it's agreed that it can't stay in the Great Valley," Littlefoot shook his head with just a tinge of sadness before whispering to the others, "So how about we head up to the Great Wall and throw this guy out to the Mysterious Beyond?"
"No…" Cera hissed dangerously, a sinister gleam from the Bright Circle reflected in her jade green eyes as she bared her horns. "If we throw it out to the Mysterious Beyond, we'll get rid of the sharptooth… for now, that is. But what if it comes back to the valley?" she asked, stomping a foot forward to glare at the hatchling. Her next words were so vicious that even the sharptooth hatchling dropped its happy smile even though it was unable to understand what she was saying.
"What we should do," Cera advised with a low voice, "is get rid of this thing while it's still helpless. My daddy says that no sharptooth deserves to live in this world! We have to eliminate it before it grows up to become a threat! One less sharptooth out there is perfectly fine game to me!" the threehorn declared with a cruel smirk.
Littlefoot backed away, surprised. "What!? You… you actually want to kill it, Cera?"
"Hmph! You have a problem with that, Littlefoot?" Cera raised her head, preparing herself for an argumentative reply. "Go ahead, then! If you have any objections, fire away!"
"Um…" Littlefoot's automatic retort died in his throat as Cera posed her armor-piercing question. Did he actually want it dead? Would the world be better off without one more sharptooth?
A world without any sharpteeth…
Littlefoot closed his eyes, finding himself transported away from the peaceful valley he was in. When he opened them, he was now in a rocky place, with sky water pattering on his back and sky fire lighting up the sky.
And in front of him was a huge longneck on her death throes, with her young son begging for her to stay with him as her life slowly ebbed away from a sharptooth's vicious attack.
"Mother? Mother…?! Please don't go! Mother!"
As he blinked away a flashback that usually only haunted his sleep stories in the darkness of night and not in the day, Littlefoot bit his lip before he curtly shook his head to Cera's question. "N-no…" the longneck finally admitted in a pained whisper once he realized that he found himself unwilling to stop the threehorn, "I don't."
Cera stared at the longneck in an unnerving manner, surprised by Littlefoot's meagre resistance this time, especially when he would sometimes argue more than a stubborn threehorn whenever he adamantly disagreed with someone's viewpoint. "Okay then…" she started, seemingly unsure about the whole thing herself, although Cera's usual confidence soon caught up once she proceeded to make use of Littlefoot's own words as her reprieve, "But just remember, you were the one who made the call in the end, Littlefoot!"
Satisfied that she now had full authority to carry on with her plan, Cera marched off, getting a bit of karmic revenge on the predator as she fearlessly (or was it recklessly?) bit down on the scruff of the sharptooth's neck to carry it with her. She then tilted her head—with the suspended sharptooth still humorously dangling from her mouth—towards the valley cliffs, implicitly signaling for the others to follow her.
As Littlefoot trudged along after Cera and the others, he began to feel just the tiniest bit of reluctance in allowing his dark thoughts of vengeance to take precedence over his usual compassion. Am… I really going along with this because he's a sharptooth?
He quickly quashed those thoughts at a speed that was faster than the time it took for Spike to greedily munch down on his food.
"Our parents are going to be so very angry when they find out that we have gone out to the Mysterious Beyond not just one time, but two times." While on Spike's back, Ducky held two fingers of her hand up at Cera to emphasize just how much of a scolding their current actions would lead to had the adults known what antics their children were up to. "They will, they will…"
"Ah, relax already, Ducky," Cera assured the nervous swimmer, cautiously eyeing the sharptooth hatchling that was next to her after she had placed it down on the uneven ground a few moments prior. "My daddy and the others won't ever find out about this. And if all goes well, this will be the last time that we'll ever have to leave the valley for the Mysterious Beyond."
Littlefoot ignored Cera's words, staring at the sharptooth that was lying down haplessly on the ground, the hatchling unaware that he already had one clawed foot in the grave. Cera had placed the hatchling by the cliffside, which led to its body looking out at the cliffs as the youngling gaped at the faint red rays of the Bright Circle as it began to fall, bringing on the onset of night.
Littlefoot had to admit that it was a beautiful sight himself — the gorgeous view of the dusk sky as stars began to grow visible and the Bright Circle slowly disappeared below the horizon. He smiled when he saw the youngling admiring the setting Bright Circle as well. It appeared that even despite the difference in their species, some things were universal.
Take for example, its wariness. Despite its young age, it had also cautiously remained some distance away from the edge of the cliff, since even he was able to tell that it was danger, there being literally nothing but a sharp drop and a body of water below.
Littlefoot was beginning to have second thoughts about the whole affair, but his mind forced such thoughts away, constantly reminding him of the harsh reality of the situation. He's a sharptooth, Littlefoot… he's a sharptooth…
With a sigh, he looked around at the surrounding area only to find that he recognized it. How could he not? The location that Cera had dropped the young sharptooth by was no coincidence in the slightest — this was where the gang had faced down the fearsome Sharptooth that had terrorized them and proceeded to finish him off once and for all. It appeared that the threehorn was going for poetic irony by selecting this very spot.
Or was she?
Wait a minute… Littlefoot's mind sprang into action as he glanced around to find the setup and positions that they were in oddly familiar. If Cera's putting the sharptooth hatchling over here, by the cliffside, then that means that she's gonna…!
Reality ended up beating Littlefoot's thought process to the finish line. His ears caught the sound of stamping footsteps, and Littlefoot abruptly turned his head left in horror to see Cera pacing backwards, the threehorn crouching down before she leaned her head forward, preparing for a charge.
"Wait, Cera! Stop! Don't charge at him!" Littlefoot's eyes darted between Cera and the sharptooth as he realized exactly what the threehorn was going to do. Ducky and Petrie had also caught on to Cera's plan as well, the two of them also quickly voicing their concerns.
"Oh, me think this very bad idea!" Petrie yelled from his vantage point — fittingly, with him being perched squarely on top of Littlefoot's head.
Ducky shook her head as she called out to her friend with an outstretched arm. "This does not seem like a good plan, Cera, no, no, no!" she cried as Spike slowly nodded from below the swimmer.
However, Cera had gone too far to just call it quits. Her eyes narrowed to slits as she let loose her fury by breaking into a run. "Hahahaha! Say bye-bye, sharptooth!" the threehorn announced with fanfare as she lunged forward, racing right up to her target and proceeding to ram straight into the hatchling with an impressive impact. The blow caused the sharptooth to wince with a pained cry as it was knocked back to the parapet of the cliff, quickly going over the side of the cliff after momentarily flailing its arms about in a pathetic bid to maintain its balance.
At the sound of water splattering all over in what Littlefoot assumed would be an impressive display had he actually been able to witness it, the longneck rushed to the side of the cliff. Littlefoot craned his neck forward from where he was standing on the cliff top, looking down with cold brown eyes at the ill-fated sharptooth youngling thrashing about as it struggled to keep its head above the water.
"Petrie can't watch! Oooohhhhh… me not liking this one bit!" Petrie shivered from his viewing point atop of Littlefoot's head as the baby sharptooth far below continued to splash about, trying and failing to tread the water that he was swimming in.
"Me neither. I feel sick to my tummy…" Ducky admitted as she rubbed her belly with one arm. "He is just a baby, he is, he is…"
"A baby sharptooth!" Cera was quick to remind the swimmer as the threehorn glared down at the body of water. "If we let this thing live, one day you might end up in its jaw! Do you want that?! Do you? Petrie, Ducky?" she asked with a firm voice.
The swimmer and flyer both vigorously shook their heads in unison, their combined denial leading to Cera shooting Littlefoot a victorious smirk. "You see? I had to do it," she said, using her own words and her friends' support to convince herself that what she'd just done was right. "I had to knock the sharptooth off the cliff since none of you were willing to. And now this problem is solved, once and for all!"
But still, Littlefoot couldn't help but feel that at the crux of it, what he'd witnessed was a cold-hearted murder. Cera hadn't consulted him about how she was going to get rid of the sharptooth hatchling, and now it was rather obvious why, since the method that she had decided on was pure brutal, so much so that even Littlefoot winced at the sight.
As for why the plan was so brutal, though… that much was also blatantly obvious to Littlefoot. Cera had basically pulled a redux of an old plan from what seemed like eons ago.
The plan that he himself had come up with to dispatch Sharptooth.
But could Littlefoot really blame her for it? Cera was literally following their original plan from back then, right down to her being the key to bringing the sharptooth down into the body of water down below by ramming into him. And since it had worked out perfectly fine before with the exception of one scare with Petrie, why bother fixing what wasn't broken?
In a sense, although the gang had gotten rid of the original Sharptooth in the exact same manner, Littlefoot couldn't help but feel that this time was different. Perhaps it was due to the difference in stakes? The last time, the five of them had been all but forced to their wits' end, banking on a last-ditch gambit to get rid of their pursuer lest he entered the Great Valley and staged a mass massacre of the leafeaters who were within.
But this time, the gang were simply acting upon their paranoia, collectively deciding to eliminate the sharptooth before it even had a chance to live. Would it grow up to be a fearsome sharptooth? Who knows… not that it would make a difference now anyway, since it would never ever have the chance to strive for that goal.
Littlefoot couldn't help it. To his own personal disgust, the longneck couldn't help but feel a sick, yet cathartic sense of pleasure at witnessing a member of the species who had taken his mother get its just desserts. And yet, even the longneck was able to feel just the slightest tinge of pity for the hatchling. Honestly, it just had the misfortune of being born the wrong species. And now, the hatchling was paying the price for it — the baby sharptooth literally about to pay the toll for it to enter the Great Beyond just mere moments after his hatching.
The longneck knew for a fact that the dying sharptooth was on him. The bloodshed was all on him. Him and him alone. Sure, Cera might have been the one who had pushed it off the cliff and to its doom, but Littlefoot knew that she never would have done it had he not granted his consensus earlier.
After all, Petrie and Ducky were never really the argumentative type to force their opinions in an argument, and Spike was literally unable to talk. As a result, he was literally Cera's only effective foil when it came to arguing against her. But this time, Littlefoot had chosen not to take action, stepping aside and letting the threehorn proceed. And now, because of his inaction, the sharptooth down below was running out of precious oxygen, its life ebbing away as it found itself slowly about to leave this mortal coil mere moments after it had been introduced to it.
Perhaps it was because of the cruelty of it all, but Littlefoot couldn't bear to watch the sharptooth's final moments, lifting his head up and turning away before he could see it go under.
He could still hear the gurgles, though. Littlefoot closed his eyes, having a feeling that the sound would soon be haunting his sleep stories.
"There you are, you annoying little brats!"
Ah, that sound would probably also haunt his sleep stories as well… hey, wait a moment!
Littlefoot's eyes jerked open at the formal voice, blinking to see that the other four had already beat him to turning around. He frowned as his vision cleared, only to show two unpleasant eggstealers blocking the route back into the Valley.
"You!" Petrie squawked as he pointed a trembling hand at them. "You two bad eggstealers from before!"
"We're not bad!" The meeker eggstealer at the back tried to justify in an unhappy voice. "It's just that we-ow!" He yelped as he clutched his nose, turning towards his attacker with a look of betrayal. "That hurt, Ozzy!"
"Enough small talk, Strut!" Ozzy slapped his brother aside as he rounded onto the five children. "I tire of waiting, you little sapsucker punks." The calm accented voice that had been the eggstealer's trademark up till now was all but gone as Ozzy proceeded to snap at the kids. "Where. Is. My. Egg!?"
Cera growled, not letting the fuming eggstealer deter her usual attitude. "Well, too bad! The egg already hatched!"
"The egg… hatched? It hatched!?" Ozzy clenched his fists as he received the news of what had happened to his precious egg. "You're telling me that my delicious dinner already hatched before I was able to eat it?!"
"That's right!" Ducky nodded, although the swimmer was oblivious that her affirmation only succeeded in making Ozzy even more furious. "The egg had hatched all right. It did, it did!"
Ducky suddenly gasped, holding firmly onto Spike as Ozzy stomped on the rocky ground in anger. "That was supposed to be my egg… MY EGG!" he yelled as he wrung his fingers in fury, no doubt imagining a round object in between his fingertips. "The stupid hatchling dared to have the nerve to hatch before I could slurp up its delicious yolky insides? How dare he!"
Most of the leafeaters felt sick at Ozzy's words, with only Cera managing to overcome the feeling of queasiness as her legs stayed firm, the threehorn letting out an ironic huff in response as she sent a glance down to the body of water behind them. "If only you did! You should've taken that egg and smashed it to pieces when you had the chance! But you just had to be too slow! Now look," she grumbled, "the thing hatched, and all of us are worse off compared to if you'd gotten your hands on it and actually kept it there!"
"Huh? Did I hear that wrong? You actually want it to be murdered?" Ozzy lost his confident composure for once, the eggstealer genuinely surprised by what he had heard. He then tilted his head in confusion, his orange eyes focusing on the threehorn. "How very cruel! Aren't you being really morbid today, kid…" he murmured, not knowing the reason as to why the threehorn hatchling was so adamantly dead-set on eliminating the newborn.
"That's right!" Strut lectured, a look of horror crossing his face as he gaped at the threehorn's sardonic comment. "Normally, only Ozzy's this morbid and murderous when it comes to the topic of gobbling up unborn newborns of the poor-yow!"
Ozzy casually dusted off his hands after he'd clocked his brother over the head. "Did I give you the permission to interrupt me, Strut?" he questioned in a nasty tone, before sending the five nuisances in front of him another glower. "But I don't care about the stupid hatchling now that it'd hatched out of its scrumptious prison! All I want for my next meal are big, juicy eggs… and you young'uns are once again in my way of achieving that goal!"
"Are they really, Ozzy?" Strut cocked his head as he looked at the five herbivores. "The valley's back the way we came from! No one's stopping us from returning back there—"
"Shut up, Strut! You always miss the bigger picture! As long as these kids know about us and our plan, they'll be able to warn everybody in the valley! And if they do, then my buffet in the Great Valley will have to come to an early close, which is absolutely unacceptable!" Ozzy snarled as he stepped forward with one foot, slithering his tongue as he did so. "I won't have that happen! All of the valley's eggs will be mine to devour!" he declared with a laugh.
"Oh, no," Ducky shook her head at Ozzy's threat, "You will not take my mama's egg again! Nope, nope, nope!"
"I don't think you have a choice in the matter, you persistent little pests." Ozzy's eyes focused on the five herbivore children, hiding a cruel grin when he saw that right behind them was a sharp drop, which meant that with the exception of the flyer, they were all effectively cornered. Taking care not to let his eyes show his glee, he slowly strutted forward. "And as long as you kids continue to get in the way of our heist, I think that I ought to deal with the problem at the source!"
"Uh-nuh!" Petrie shook his head as he felt Littlefoot step backward. "Me no agree! Petrie think that you should let us go!"
"I'll let you all go, alright… in your sleep stories, that is!" Ozzy sneered menacingly as the children continued to back away, smirking when he saw that soon they'd have no more room left as they were backed against the edge of the cliff.
The five continued to back away at Ozzy's and Strut's combined advances, until…
"Whoa!" Littlefoot yelled as he felt his hind legs slipping off the side of the cliff. The longneck avoided completely falling off by bracing himself, holding on to the top of the cliff by using his front legs, the sudden move causing Petrie to leave his comfort zone and start flapping his wings to fly. However, Cera and Spike weren't so lucky, the both of them caught off guard by the lack of ground behind their feet, and thus as a result the two were sent careening off the cliff.
"Ohhhh…" Petrie cringed as he heard the sound of the two large splashes below. "Me so glad me can fly right now…" he muttered as soared upwards, the flyer looking as though he was going to make it right back to the cliff side…
…until a falling Ducky, who had been flung off of Spike, grabbed onto his leg with a scream, causing the flyer to lose altitude as he struggled to flap his wings. The sudden increase in weight caused him miss his intended target, sending himself and Ducky crashing straight into the cliff face instead.
"T-that could have gone better…" That was all a dizzy Petrie managed to murmur before he and Ducky fell back and both landed in the water with a combined splash.
"We've got four down and one to go, Ozzy!" Strut said, keeping count of the number of them that had ended up in the body of water below.
"Hahaha!" Ozzy cackled as he made eye contact with Littlefoot. "By the time you sapsuckers climb all the way back up to this point, we'd have a headstart on you punks! Have a nice fall, kid!" he chuckled as he slashed at Littlefoot's feet, causing the longneck to lose his grip. Littlefoot let out a yell as he somersaulted backwards before landing in the water with a colossal splash.
"All five of them are down, Ozzy!" Strut announced as Ozzy laughed out loud.
Littlefoot surfaced, bringing his long neck out of the lake by standing upright, spitting water out of his mouth. He looked around to see his four friends submerged in various depths of the lake, as well as…
A face-down sharptooth hatchling, gently floating on the mild currents that the leafeaters were creating as they paddled around to tread water. From a single glance, Littlefoot was able to tell that he had passed on.
"Is everybody okay?" Littlefoot called out with concern.
"Me head dizzy, but Petrie fine!" Petrie said as he waded to the shore, the flyer not a big fan of the aquatic life.
"I am fine, and Spike is as well. We are, we are!" Ducky chirped.
"I'll live. I've survived worse," Cera said evasively, which Littlefoot knew meant that she was not doing all that well, but diverting the topic so as to make it less obvious. "I've got an idea to let those two jerks have a piece of my—"
There was a sharp intake of breath as the sudden roar, the five simultaneously whirling around to lay their eyes on the dark green sharptooth who had walked to the side of the pool and was glaring at the leafeaters with murderous intent.
A beat passed where there was dead silence between them both. It was just too bad that it wasn't to last…
"Sharptooth!" The five broke the silence as they ran out of the lake right before the sharptooth bit down at the area where they had just been swimming in.
Littlefoot ran for it, not daring to look back at the advancing sharptooth. Unfortunately for them all, this was only the beginning.
"Two damn sharpteeth? Are you freaking kidding me!? This day just keeps getting worse and worse!" Cera yelled out as she screeched to a stop, cursing the hand that fate had dealt them today as she and the rest saw another sharptooth with a slighter lighter shade of dark green coming from the direction they were running in, thus cornering them with a pincer attack from two fronts.
"Run! Ruunnnnn!" The panicky Petrie yelped as he rapidly flapped his wings to shake as much water off them as he possibly could. Still, the completely soaked flyer found that his wings were too heavy for him to take flight, and thus lamented the fact that he could not hide by soaring up into the air.
"Everybody, head over that way!" Littlefoot took charge, directing the group of them towards their side, the only way out for them since there were sharpteeth coming from both their front and back. "We've got to get back to the Great Valley!" he instructed. "It'll be safe once the grownups have our back!"
That said, he was dreading the climb back up to the part that they had fallen from. But they've got to make it back up the Great Wall and back into the safety of the valley! They've got to!
Meanwhile, hearing the frenzied screams of panic from the children he'd just gotten rid of down below, Ozzy found his curiosity piqued and proceeded to look, only to flinch back in shock at the sight far down below. "Sharptooth?" he scowled at the development, peering down at the sight from above as he stood at the spot where the five children had been standing prior. Normally, at the very sight of sharptooth he would be fleeing in a panic, but this time was different.
The predator—actually predators, now that he was looking at it closely—were not anywhere close to him, and furthermore was not even after him or his brother, but rather chasing those annoying pests instead. He placed his finger on his chin as he observed the sight, rubbing it as he lay deep in thought. If the sharptooth were chasing the children, and the children were running back up here and towards the direction of the valley, then perhaps…
With a new idea in mind, Ozzy had an evil grin plastered firmly on his face as he turned towards his brother.
Strut jerked his head up at Ozzy's order. "Y-Yes?" he stuttered, quickly recovering from his sloppy greeting.
For once, Ozzy ignored his clumsy oaf of a brother. He couldn't care less about Strut's habits at the moment, the eggstealer licking his lips as he prepared to head right back into the Great Valley. The plan was simple, yet brilliant. He would head back to the valley first and hide within, all but certain that the children would lure the sharpteeth into the sapsucker paradise. The adults would then be distracted by the incoming sharpteeth, and hence all of their eggs would be left unguarded and his for the taking as he made use of the opportunity as a distraction!
"We are going to have a feast tonight, dear Strut. Yes, a delightful five-course meal of eggs far greater than any haul we've ever had before!" Ozzy announced as he let out a cruel laugh. "And it's all courtesy and sponsored by those annoying little brats and the two dumb sharptooth that're after them! Yahahahah! That's going to be all they'll be good for once the sharpteeth finally get them and end those annoyances!"
"But Ozzy!" Strut raised his arm, running after his brother. "Won't the sharpteeth come after us once it's done with them?"
He dismissed his brother with a casual wave of his arm as he began to make the trek back across the Great Wall towards the valley. "By that time, it'll be too late for either those sharpteeth or the stupid valley grownups. We'll be long gone with the eggs by then, and the valley residents can be the sharpteeth's supper."
With a cruel smirk, Ozzy finished his sentence as he snapped his fingers. "Besides, those damn kids have got the luck of the devil on their side. I'm banking on them holding out and thus buying me and my precious eggs as much time as possible! Ohohohoho!"
It might seem like an obvious statement to make in retrospect, but Littlefoot now had to admit that having to dodge two sharptooth was so much worse than dealing with just a single sharptooth.
Frankly, it was a miracle that the five of them had managed to survive as long as they did, especially with the two sharptooth repeatedly trying to surround them by working as a team. But by a combination of their own teamwork and sheer luck, they'd managed to make it back to their destination. Night had fallen by the time they managed to crawl all the way back up to the Great Valley, although this time with two very aggressive sharptooth still on their back, relentlessly pursuing them into the valley.
"Yargh!" Cera yelped as she feigned running towards a river, before diverting her course and heading left instead, much to the outrage of the misled sharpteeth. "Come on! Why won't these damn sharpteeth get off our tail!?"
"I do not know myself, but I do not think that I want to find out the answer at all. Oh, no, no, no!" Ducky shuddered as she sprinted.
"Me agree with Ducky! These sharpteeth chase us into Great Valley!" Petrie noted. "No sharptooth ever enter valley before! Valley supposed to be safe haven! This is very bad! Me no like this!"
"Everyone, just calm down! Don't panic! We can still lose them!" Littlefoot tried to maintain order as the group began to get desperate at their perilous situation. "Even though they managed to follow us into the valley, all we need to do is find our families, and then we'll have enough strong grownups on our side to chase the sharpteeth away!"
Suddenly, the large stomping noises behind them that had been a constant throughout the entire chase suddenly ceased, the silence so jarring that the group of herbivores certainly took notice of their absence. With most of them realizing that the sharpteeth had taken a break in the chase, they immediately ran even faster than before as they relished in the brief reprieve that they had been given.
Most of them, that is…
Despite every instinct in his body telling him to continue running, Littlefoot curiously peered back as the others ran on, the longneck wondering why the sharpteeth had halted their pursuit.
He got his answer soon enough when he caught sight of the two sharptooth silently glaring at the broken pieces of eggshell in the area that he and his friends were at earlier in the day. As they continued to gaze upon the sight, Littlefoot saw their stern faces softening just for an instant.
Littlefoot dropped his jaw in dread as his eyes darted back and forth between the shattered pieces of eggshell and the two large mourning sharpteeth. It was then that the longneck understood. That brief flicker of sadness that he had managed to glimpse told Littlefoot all.
He and his friends had all made a gross miscalculation. In their single-minded goal and focus on the small fry that had hatched, not one of them had even considered about how Ozzy and Strut had managed to get their claws on a sharptooth egg so close to the valley. It had been so obvious in hindsight — the only possible way was if the sharptooth's parents themselves were also within a relatively close proximity to the Great Valley.
In other words, the two sharptooth were in actuality the parents of the sharptooth hatchling!
Yeah, this was not going to end well. It was all but certain. If they were here for their child… then there was a rather big problem. Namely, that of the fact that their child was no longer in this world.
"Come on, Littlefoot! What are you doing?" Littlefoot jerked his head back when he saw Cera yelling at him from a distance with abject fury. "Have you lost your mind!?" she screeched, beckoning him on. "Run away!"
Littlefoot thus tore his eyes away from the scene, preparing to run off again when he suddenly noticed something. One of the sharptooth had mysteriously vanished in the time he had been distracted. He craned his head to see where it had gone to, before a quick flash of blur to his side caused him to realize what they were up to. "Wait, guys!" Littlefoot threw his voice, hoping he wasn't too late, "Watch out! It's ahead of you!"
Cera, Ducky, Petrie and Spike had barely any time to react when the dark green sharptooth suddenly appeared to their front, the predator having taken a shortcut across the grassy meadow and cutting ahead of them using the detour. The four of them screamed at the ambush and instantly ran back in the direction they came.
Too bad that they found themselves running in a path that converged with Littlefoot and his own sharptooth chasing after him. Once again, they were trapped with sharpteeth headed from their front and back.
"Guys! To the side, like last time!" Littlefoot ordered, tilting his neck right and instructing them to run to the side to counter this attack as they had done before. It seemingly worked for a few moments, with them seemingly having evaded their predators once again.
But this time, things didn't go as planned.
"Oh no! We trapped! This way dead end!" Having a better eye than the others, Petrie was the first to yell in dismay, pointing forward as he flew to reveal the horrible truth to the gang.
With horror, Littlefoot realized that the two sharptooth were smarter than they had initially let on, finally catching on to their prey's strategy and thus switching it up by beginning with a pincer movement and flanking from both sides as before, although they immediately changed tactics and went for an arc formation by turning slightly diagonal to the leafeaters as they fled to the side… which was just what the sharpteeth had been anticipating. They had baited the gang, planning their assault so that the ones that they were chasing would instinctively run off to the side as they had done before, and within ten seconds they would hit the side of the Great Valley and thus corner themselves.
Nothing but the rock-solid outer wall of the valley was to the south of the gang. And with one sharptooth approaching from their northwest and the other from the northeast, the five of them were now completely surrounded.
"Dammit!" Cera cursed as she turned on Littlefoot. "You brought us the wrong way, Littlefoot!"
"I'm sorry, Cera!" Littlefoot yelled back with a harsh apology, gritting his teeth and glancing around nervously as the sharptooth headed closer and closer. Why weren't any of the grownups here to get them out of this predicament? Where were they!?
The longneck proceeded to vocalized his thought in worry. "Where is everyone? Why is the valley so quiet over here!?" Littlefoot nervously looked around for anyone—swimmer, flyer, longneck, threehorn… anybody—that could raise the alarm and save them.
Petrie swooped up high at Littlefoot's question, gasping back the answer as he pointed far away. "Me see grownups! They far away, all together in one spot!" he strained his eyes to see why, gasping as he managed to catch sight of a large herd running after two flashes of grey. "It those two eggstealers from before, Ozzy and Strut! Grownups all chasing them! They so focused on them that they no see us or big dangerous sharpteeth!" Petrie said gravely as he landed back down.
Dammit! Littlefoot groaned as he realized that the two persistent and crafty eggstealers, Ozzy and Strut, must be what was keeping all of the grownups occupied. By sheer bad luck due to the valley suffering from a two-pronged attack, the adults had ended up being distracted by the threat of the eggstealers and thus neglected to notice that two adult sharptooth had also managed to sneak their way in — by sole virtue that the sharpteeth had come to the valley to carry out only a single solitary mission and thus had no reason to draw attention to themselves.
It looked as though the dead sharptooth hatchling would have the last laugh, haunting them from beyond the grave. With his scent all over him and his friends even despite their little dive into the pool, the sharpteeth parents were thus able to perceive who they thought were responsible for their child's demise, and from the ferocious look in their eyes, Littlefoot could tell that they were out for blood.
"It is no use at all!" Ducky hiccupped as she fearfully stared at the instruments of death. "We are all going to die… we are, we are…" she said, echoing the unsaid thoughts of the others.
The hyperventilating Petrie darted his eyes nervously up to the night sky as Ducky informed the group of her chilling hypothesis. "Ohhhhh, me so sorry… but Petrie can't take it no more!" Petrie squeaked, beating his wings as he took off to the skies. "It every dinosaur for themselves!" he attempted to justify to the others with visible tears in his eyes as the flyer tried to make his getaway.
The male sharptooth narrowed his eyes dangerously when he saw the sapsucker flyer make a valiant attempt to try and flee from his demise. Quickly making up his mind that not a single one of the leaf eaters that had drowned his son would live as long as he drew breath, he proceeded to jump right into the flight path of the flyer.
"Eeekkk! S-S-Sharptooth!" Petrie squawked at the sudden obstacle ahead of him, opening his wings up so that he could lift himself higher and out of the sharptooth's reach.
But rather unfortunately for Petrie, he had made the wrong move. As Petrie focused on flapping his wings and struggled to gain height, he hadn't realized that he had made a critical error. He had committed himself to flying up and out of the sharptooth's range, but doing this instead of maintaining an evasive horizontal flight meant that the flyer was left vulnerable for just those few moments as he ascended up.
It was a fatal mistake, one that the predator immediately seized the opportunity to capitalize upon. As Petrie tried to move out of range, the flyer saw a shadow looming across his face. His eyes widened in terror when he saw the large sharptooth bringing his claws down.
The poor flyer had literally no time to dodge.
The sharptooth swiped diagonally at the shocked Petrie, slashing the flyer directly across his right wing. Petrie screamed in agony as the sharptooth's claws pierced straight through the wing, completely tearing it to shreds. With the loss of one wing, Petrie couldn't maintain his ascent and thus the flyer let out a screech. That single cry was filled with agony from the pain from his wing, as well as terror as Petrie quickly lost control of his flight and began to spiral around haphazardly.
The dark green sharptooth proceeded to smirk, the flyer's pained shrieks being music to his ears. He then raised his hand up high, bringing his palm down in a swift motion to slam it at the out-of-control Petrie, smacking him back to the remaining four leafeaters.
The four rushed at the fallen Petrie, only to find shredded tendons and red blood where the flyer's right wing used to be.
"P-Petrie…?" Ducky started, before Petrie howled in pain, curling the remains of his wing close to his body as he continued to screeched up to the skies.
"It hurt! Me wing hurt so much!" he wept bitterly as tried to prop himself into a sitting position. "Ohhhhhh, please help me! Make pain stop for Petrie…" he begged in a heart-wrenching tone. The sheer brutality of the injury that the sharptooth had inflicted on Petrie was an effective deterrence to any of the others trying to make an escape attempt. The message was clear — even try to flee and you'd wish that you never attempted such a foolish act of desperation.
"Petrie so sorry me didn't listen to you, momma! Me so sorry…" Petrie continued to wail as he realized that with his gaping wound, he himself was unlikely to survive even if his friends made it out of this alive. "Gyro… Pitch… Gryphon…" he called out to his brothers and sisters in a pitiful snivel, "…please help Petrie… make pain go away…"
His words shook up the other members of the gang, the flyer's somber speech also implying a second, much more grim realization to the cornered group… that there would be no escape for any of them. The very fact that there were two sharpteeth meant that even if their parents eventually realized that something was amiss and made it to them in time, the two predators could just split up, with one holding their families off while the other ended them.
Of course, the resident threehorn was unperturbed by this realization, letting loose a primal roar as Cera charged forward virtuously without any sense of direction, her intent clear to both leafeaters and sharpteeth alike — an all-or-nothing desperation charge towards safety.
Cera howled as she ran. All she needed to do was to get free, and she'd be damned which direction she took so long as she—
The threehorn screamed as the female sharptooth knelt down while snapping its jaws shut, only barely stopping in time to avoid ending up in its mouth and as its dinner. Her horn wasn't as lucky though, the tip of Cera's pride and joy having been chipped off from the bite.
"M-my horn… it's… gone…" she stuttered in shock before the sharptooth lunged forward, causing the screaming threehorn to scamper back to her friends with her tail between her legs. Littlefoot breathed heavily as a defeated Cera returned back to the group and promptly took her original place, blinking away hot tears as she continually shook her head in crazed panic. "My horn… my horn…" she continually mumbled as she stared in disbelief.
As Littlefoot forced his gaze away from Cera, he looked at the others only to find that the remainder of his friends weren't faring all that much better.
A sobbing Ducky was hugging a bawling Petrie in a futile effort to calm the injured flyer down. Spike was slumped down on the ground, using his front limbs to cover his eyes, the spiketail unable to look at his own demise. The injured Cera was heaving deeply, with the threehorn having a crazed look in her eyes that Littlefoot knew quite well. He knew that despite the blow to her pride, the yellow threehorn would remain defiant to the very end, even in the face of certain death. However, Littlefoot also knew from experience that Cera's tough exterior was just that… simply a facade. Deep down inside, the threehorn was trembling just as hard as the longneck's own heart was thumping.
Another rumble shook the ground as the two sharpteeth made their way closer and closer towards the five sobbing leafeaters. With every step of their approach came the devastating realization upon the five that there would be no escape this time round. They had no way out, no cunning plan, no last-minute rescue from the adults thanks to Ozzy and Strut… nothing. This truly was the end for them all. This would be how they died — not with a bang, but a terrified whimper.
There would be no solace for them. Not now, not ever.
As the two sharpteeth both let out a chorus of terrifying roars to signify their intent to send their prey to the Great Beyond in vengeance for their lost child, Littlefoot could only tearfully look up to the Night Circle, realizing that their time was now up.
Perhaps the worst part of it all to him, and what hit the longneck the hardest, was that he and his friends could have potentially avoided this sticky end had they chosen to not kill the sharptooth by drowning him and thus subsequently bringing down the wrath of its two parents upon them. With a feeling of dread, Littlefoot began to use his final moments to solemnly reflect on everything that had occurred.
"But just remember, you were the one who made the call in the end, Littlefoot!"
Cera's words from earlier continually reverberated around his mind in a mocking manner, just like an annoying buzzer that wouldn't leave him alone. The worst part about it was that Littlefoot knew in a most ironic fashion that the threehorn was right. She was absolutely right. It was ultimately his choice in stepping aside and allowing her to murder the sharptooth that had led to all of this.
Guilt welled up in Littlefoot as he thought about how he could have averted this disaster. But unfortunately, all of those missed opportunities were now gone forever with him choosing the path that he did.
If only he chose to listen to his grandparents' advice and hadn't went after Ozzy and Strut without calling for help from the grownups in the first place. If only he had just been a bit more forceful in arguing against Cera's callous suggestion. If only he had managed to convince the gang to follow his original recommendation of leaving the sharptooth hatchling out in the Mysterious Beyond instead of following through with the plan to kill the youngling in cold blood… then maybe, things would have never come to this.
But, alas. He'd instead let a single moment of weakness take control of his thoughts, allowing his thirst of revenge for what happened to his mother lead him to make a reckless decision, one that looked like it would cost them the entire Great Valley… as well as the lives of him and all of his friends.
Did they blame him for their own impending deaths? As Littlefoot's eyes swept around, the longneck pleadingly and silently asking the question, he was at least pleased to find out that the answer was no. Petrie and Ducky had understood his somber question by his look alone, and gently shook their heads. Spike had also peeped out to Littlefoot from his squinted eyes and shook his tail to deny that he held any grudges. Even Cera, despite having led them all into it, softened her hard green eyes as Littlefoot made eye contact with her, the threehorn communicating to him, 'it's not your fault' in a single glance.
It looked as though they had all accepted their fate. The injured Petrie had quietened his whimpering down, Ducky had walked towards Spike, nuzzling against her brother in one last display of familial bonding, and even Cera had calmed down significantly to the point when she softly laid on the grassy meadow and whimpered.
Littlefoot exhaled, shaking his head gently as he looked around to see his friends separated from each other. This was not going to end like this, with the group bemoaning their fates apart from one another. If they were about to go out like the Night Circle during the day, then they were going out together.
He slowly walked forward to Cera and leaned against the threehorn. With a soft smile that Cera would never show unless the threehorn was in mortal peril, she nodded her head and signaled the others to come forth as well.
Ducky supported the wounded Petrie as she walked forward, carrying him towards the center in an endearing sight, though it certainly would have been cuter had Petrie not been mortally wounded, the flyer gasping shuddering breaths as Ducky carried him.
Spike plodded towards the group, munching on one last treestar that he plucked from the ground, shoving it into his mouth and munching on it slowly… arguably the longest time that Littlefoot had ever seen a treestar remaining in the spiketail's mouth without it entering his gullet ever, and that was with him counting every occurrence from the time that Spike had hatched all the way up until now.
They ignored the two approaching sharpteeth. They ignored the pain. They ignored the thoughts of their own demise. It was all insignificant to them in these final blissful moments. Even the faint cries of the adults and the distant eggstealers faded away to nothingness as the five friends found peace with each other.
Right at that moment, all that was there was themselves. With all five of them huddling together, the Gang of Five proceeded to hug each other in one tight, final embrace.
As they cuddled together with tears and smiles, Littlefoot heaved a quivering sigh of relief when he realized that despite everything, his friends chose to forgive him for not preventing the incident due to his non-intervention, with their forged bonds of friendships remaining tight-knit right to the very end.
But although his friends had chosen not to blame him in the end, the more pressing query was whether Littlefoot blamed himself for his folly in making the wrong choice?
The answer to that question was clear and simple. The longneck knew it in his heart, even if he refused to admit it out loud due to a feeling of shame.
Yes… he absolutely did.
I don't envy Littlefoot's (and Ruby's) role as leader to the Gang of Seven… it's a position where the one who takes the mantle of it is practically just asking for a heap of trouble!
This is probably what would happen if The Great Valley Adventure was made in the vein of the original movie and reality ensues. Yeah, I would also like to extend my sincere apologies to all Chomper fans. But hey, after all of the "Chomper betrays everyone" stories, I think a little role reversal with the gang being the 'backstabbers' at his hatch scene instead is a little cathartic. Hah, only two mere stories into this fandom and I already end up writing a semi-dark fic that ends in tragedy. How very perfect, looks like I'm being influenced by all the LBT darkfics I've read. :)
So yeah, sorry for basically killing everyone off implicitly. Yes, I know, I'm terrible and should hide in a ditch until you all lower your pitchforks. Oh, just blame this franchise and its fandom's tendency to escalate things and atmosphere towards a grim outlook and perspective! *shakes fist*
To be frankly honest, I don't exactly enjoy stories where any of the gang die either, especially if it's just to escalate tensions or for shock factor. I'm willing to give it a pass if it's written well by the author and/or essential to the plot… pretty much like in this case. Just based on the whole premise of this fic, I can't see a single scenario where they don't get their comeuppance for what they did. After all, who's the antagonist here? Littlefoot for his inaction? Cera for instigating the whole crisis? Ozzy for snowballing the plan that led to everyone's demise? Chomper's parents for avenging their son? Is there even a villain, or is it all relative? Just some food for thought…
Anyway, funny story about this fic. Scrambled Eggs was admittedly a side project, since I originally wasn't going to write for the July prompt at all! As you might guess from what that entails, most of my focus was actually on the more interesting August prompt, which I'd actually started writing before this very story! Of course, this will still be going up first due to the earlier deadline (I was extremely busy and thus rushed this more than I'd liked — hope it doesn't show too much), but I hope you all enjoy this regardless. Do look forward to the entry that I have planned up for next month's prompt, which I'll hopefully have more time to polish up.