Words in italics indicate character thoughts or flashbacks.

Disclaimer: I don't own The Land Before Time or any of its many, many sequels.


Chapter 1: To Tempt a Flyer

Time.

Just what was time?

One could ask any dinosaur that question, and the individual would say that for them, time was something that constantly passed on by like flowing water — something that brought meaning to their life by introducing change with every passing day. After all, the only situation where the passage of time didn't make a difference to a dinosaur was when they had already been lost to the streams of time themselves, having passed on to the Great Beyond, a place where time was infinite and held no meaning.

But to the mortals who still roamed this earth, time was something which they cherished, for its constant motion guaranteed another day where they could live out their lives. In an unpredictable world where one could easily lose their life to predators, hunger, and other ailments, every rise of the Bright Circle was treasured, for it brought forth the promise of a new day… and new experiences.

Although the primitive dinosaurs were unable to measure time in absolute units, time itself was a concept that they were able to grasp. To them, it was something that simply continually passed on by for them like a flowing river. Unable to measure time precisely, however, led to it being relative to their experiences.

All one had to do was ask any poor leaf-eater who had managed to survive being chased by a sharptooth about their terrifying ordeal, and they would undoubtedly tell you that even the briefest of moments during the chase felt to them as though their sprint to escape the predator's pursuit had spanned the entire length of time that it took for the Bright Circle to cross across half the sky.

So if the relativity of time was debatable for even small periods, how would one then define a span of time which stretched over multiple cold times? Perhaps to an elderly dinosaur who was well past their prime, five Cold Times would pass on by in the blink of an eye.

But to someone who was in the prime of their life, like a certain flyer who had perched himself on the branch of a tree that had shriveled up, five Cold Times felt like an absolute eternity.


"Five Cold Times… oh, woe is me! Five entire Cold Times! It's a complete travesty, I say!"

Many of the nearby flyers ignored the habitual laments of the large brown flyer. They continued to grumble amidst themselves as their ears continued to hear the flyer complaining about his current status. Just about every single member in the flock considered him to be a nutcase — a flyer who had spent too much time flying with his head in the clouds.

"A banishment of five Cold Times, but alas, until now only a mere two and a half of those five has passed. To think that I still have an entire half of that punishment to fulfill… it's truly a depressing thought!" He let his head crest droop before glancing up towards the morning sky in resignation. Wait… was it really a feeling of resignation? Or perhaps, was it one of resentment?

There were certain days where the flyer woke up and found that he was unsure of the answer himself.

"Gragh! I simply cannot stand this torment any longer!" he snapped as he repeatedly stomping his foot against the branch he was standing on, rustling it so vigorously that if the tree hadn't been devoid of tree stars, they would have all fallen off from the shaking. "Even after I've been forced to accept that I would have to wait it out, the end of that banishment is so far away!" he bemoaned, either unable to notice or deliberately choosing to ignore the other flyers rolling their eyes in unison at his antics.

"I've seen the Bright Circle rise and fall so many times… oh, so many times! And yet, the end of this sentence taunts me by being so far out of my grasp!" He let out a wistful sigh, finally calming himself enough for the tree branch to stabilize and return to a state of stillness. "Please, Mr. Threehorn… can't you have just the tiniest shred of mercy on an old flyer like me and absolve me of my exile?"

Eventually though, the flyer brought his dramatic whining to a stop. Honestly, he'd already known deep down that his question was rhetorical — Topps couldn't hear him, and the threehorn wouldn't accede to his request even if he somehow did manage to hear those words.

But what could he do about that, really? Honestly… nothing. There was nary a thing that the flyer could do at the moment to change his current situation. His banishment from the Great Valley had been a unanimous decision made by the various dinosaurs who had gathered around the Rock Circle to discuss his punishment for his crimes two cold times ago.

"Oh now, please…" he had begged, clasping the fingers on the end of his wingtips together as he pleaded to the many angry adults all surrounding him. "None of the farwalkers want anything to do with me. I'll be alone and defenseless in the Mysterious Beyond!" He wrapped one of his wings around his chest, trying to garner as much sympathy as he possibly could from the dinosaurs around him after his ploy had backfired back on him in a spectacular fashion. "Is that really fair?"

"Yes!" the Great Valley residents surrounding the flyer cried out in unison, causing him to flinch back from their combined voices. After the resounding echoes from the combined yell had died down, Topps proceeded to spit an addendum in response as the threehorn stormed forward, closing in on the flyer who had just shakily recovered from falling to the ground at the combined yells.

"Mark my words. If I'd had it my way, this banishment would have been a lot longer for you, Pterano!"

The gray threehorn shot a nasty glower towards the two large longnecks by his side, making it clear to everyone who was paying attention just who had been the ones who'd forced the stubborn Topps to tone the flyer's punishment down. "It's either you take the five Cold Times, or I swear that you're going to be seeing my horns fill your entire vision!" he growled as he took a step forward, a serious expression donning the dinosaur's face. "So you better hurry and take your pick before I get impatient and make the decision on your behalf, flyer!"

And that was that. After Topps had lashed out at him, Pterano had left the Great Valley with his pride and dignity in shambles, but at least with all of his bones intact.

Not even his very own sister had been able to save him from the valley's retribution when news of his treachery hit the leaders after his coup fell apart. While Skylar had shot her brother a pity-filled glance from her vantage point, that was all the sapphire blue flyer had been able to give to him — mere visual support.

She wasn't going to stand up for his actions.

Although frankly, Pterano didn't blame her for it, the flyer quite certain that his sister would have been unable to overturn the verdict even if she had. And thus he'd haughtily flown away from the Great Valley, only sparing a final fleeting glance towards the family that he'd been forced to leave behind before he began his new life.

Ironically, he'd been wrong with his own prediction in the end. Despite his fears of having nobody to pay him company in the Mysterious Beyond when the valley had banished him, Pterano had been resourceful and actively scoped out others to be with. As a result, he'd managed to join flocks of migrating flyers from time to time, at least until they eventually split up.

Although, there would be one constant which would invariably remain no matter which herd Pterano found himself being a part of — his assertive personality tended to drive most of the herd members absolutely bonkers. This had consistently persisted until he eventually learnt to keep his beak shut the hard way, opting to remain quiet and choosing not to speak up as a defense mechanism so that he could still find himself being accepted by the flyer pack. After all, the alternative of flying alone through the Mysterious Beyond for five whole Cold Times without any company was something far worse to Pterano than being unable to fully utilize his leadership skills.

"Hmph! Why complain about a situation that you cannot avert? Instead of whining about it, why not actively take the initiative to change your fate for the better?"

Pterano perked up, glancing around the area curiously when he realized that one of the flatbeak flyers was actually speaking to him directly, instead of muttering complaints behind his back — something which was quite a rarity these days.

He soon caught his culprit when he saw the flyer in question tapping his talons in an impatient manner below him. The speaker was a flyer of an unusual coloration — a dirty, bleached yellow that made him look like the same coloration of the damp sand that tended to be situated near the Big Water. The flyer appeared relatively young, looking to be about three to four Cold Times older than his nephews and nieces, appearing as though he was on the cusp of adolescence.

Still, Pterano couldn't help but gulp as he caught sight of the smaller flyer's menacing golden irises gleaming under the Bright Circle. "Say, I don't think I know you…" he muttered as he put one of his wingtip fingers up to his chin, rubbing his beak as he looked down at the newcomer with suspicious eyes.

An amused smirk crossed the youngling's face. "Well, of courseeee…" he drawled sarcastically, "I mean, this is the first time we've met!"

Pterano didn't let his guard down at the flyer's attempt to lighten the mood, making sure to keep his vision locked firmly on the newcomer instead. "…and yet, somehow it appears that you knew of me beforehand," he rightfully pointed out.

"Hahaha! Of course I do!" The pterosaur's relatively high-pitched voice gave him an aura of childishness as compared to that of an adult flyer, causing Pterano to shake his head imperceptibly with a sigh. Having dismissed him as a threat and being thankful that this wasn't going to end up being another Rinkus and Sierra situation, Pterano was just about to shoo the little flyer away when the yellow youngling suddenly continued. His voice lowered by about two octaves, which had the effect of giving him a sinister tone as he spoke.

"It might have been a bit of a pain to dig up the details, but fortuitously I now know everything about the overzealous flyer who vowed to find the legendary Stone of Cold Fire…"

The larger flyer's eyes went wide, those words physically hurting him. He puffed up his chest, immediately letting out an angered yell at the smaller flyer. "How dare you! Just who exactly do you think you are? Don't even try to talk to me about that wretched stone!"

After exhaling an angered huff, Pterano wasted no time in his retaliation and flew down to the ground, waving his wings dangerously in the same motion as he whirled onto the smaller flyer. "Not only did that lousy excuse of a 'stone' take everything from me, but to add insult to injury, the whole venture had been all for naught from the very start! It's gotten me nothing! Nothing except for a worthless dud that wound up being blown to miniature pieces, and a banishment of five Cold Times at the end of everything! Oh, the tragedy!"

"Exactly. I completely agree with your sentiment there."

Pterano whirled his head around as the flyer said that. Of every retort that he had expected to hear in return, a concessionary statement hadn't been one of them. Yet, in spite of his concurring words, the sarcastic tone and hidden anger in the flyer's voice alone was enough to catch Pterano's attention.

"But enough of chasing down worthless legends, eh?" the flyer murmured, "How about a legend which I for one know isn't simply mere folktale told underneath the Great Night Circle for the sake of telling a story that only hatchlings would buy?"

He seethed with anger at the eccentric flyer's words. "How about you get away from my sight before I get really angry!" Pterano recognized the style of pragmatic speech that the young flyer was using — after all, he'd done the same to Rinkus and Sierra. Thus, he was very well aware on what the flyer was trying to do, and he wasn't going to have any of it.

"Oh, poor Pterano…" A lament that had a hint of mockery imbued in it accompanied a sigh as the flyer shook his head at the cold reception that he was getting from the larger Pterano. "You miss your nephew, don't you…?"

Pterano narrowed his eyes, glaring daggers at the mysterious flyer suspiciously. "How do you know about Petrie!?" He flexed his wings, questioning the flyer in a tone that practically demanded for an answer. "And why we're on the subject matter… just who are you, anyway?"

The small flyer remained unperturbed by Pterano's interrogation, instead choosing to shrug brazenly at his raised voice as he let out an amused cackle in response. "Who I am, as well as what my name is, doesn't really matter. It is an irrelevant piece of information, Pterano…" he replied in a dismissive manner before peering up and locking his golden eyes with those of the larger flyer's. "But as for your first question, I personally think the answer to that is rather rhetorical. I mean, who doesn't know the story of the five remarkable leaf-eaters who'd miraculously managed to overcome all the odds and take down Sharptooth himself?"

He carried on rattling straight from memory as the harsh light of the Great Circle high above the duo beat down unrelentingly upon the two flyers, "Who would have thought that a ragtag group of hatchlings consisting of a longneck, a threehorn, a swimmer, a flyer, and a spiketail would succeed in accomplishing the impossible? Truly, the unlikeliest of herds — one whose members managed to cross between different species…"

Pterano perked his head downwards when he noticed that the small flyer had hissed the last few words with pure venom in his voice. "Hey, be careful with that tone you've got there," he grumbled, "One of those dinosaurs is my nephew, in case you've already forgotten your own words!"

"Oh, Pterano… there's really no point in suppressing your anger and trying to act all nice, you know? I can feel the brunt of my insults getting to you." He shook his head with the trace of a hidden grin on his face when Pterano's momentary glare proved him right. "Or perhaps it's the anger of your unrighteous punishment that still seethes within you. Don't you want payback on the pesky ground dwellers who'd wronged you and your quest for your paradise?"

Pterano remained silent, causing the flyer to let out a brutal laugh before tilting his head up to Pterano with a gleam in his eyes. "There is a way for you to circumvent your banishment, you know?"

He perked up at the perky newcomer's bold statement. "What did you just say? D-Do you… really mean that?" Pterano asked hesitantly, a slight tinge of disbelief creeping into his normally bold voice, afraid that if he got his hopes up too high, it would only hurt more when they ended up being shattered into pieces once again.

"Heh! You doubt me? Well, to be fair, you wouldn't be the first one…" he shrugged before clarifying. "What I speak of is a legend spoken of only under the stars. Yes, a legendary stone—"

"Why, you little… are you trying to mess with me!?" Pterano hollered, forcing the smaller flyer to indignantly hold out his wings as a countermeasure.

"Wait, wait, wait!" The yellow flyer flailed his wings, gesturing towards a rather irate Pterano to calm him down. "Don't jump the sky puffy just yet! I'm not talking about the Stone of Cold Fire, so calm down, sit back on your perch and listen to what I have to say!" Coughing as his voice turned hoarse from the yell, the flyer proceeded to clear his throat before continuing his speech as he started to pace up and down. "As I was saying before being rudely interrupted, said artifact is a legendary stone, one much tinier than the Stone of Cold Fire. A relatively miniscule sparkling stone, one that can even be held in your very own hand."

Pterano had an eyebrow raised at the flyer's monologue. "Say, you seem to know an awful lot about this, considering it's just a legend…" he commented bluntly, unfurling his wings at the observation. "Hold on… it's more than that, isn't it?" Pterano questioned, his body growing slightly tense as he began to feel uneasy.

A coarse laugh with a hint of pride emanated from the youngling. "Hah! To think that you caught me out so quickly. I'm rather impressed, Pterano." His eyes glistened in the sunlight as he straightened up, his voice lowering further to add to the uneasy atmosphere.

"Yes, I do indeed know more than I'm letting on," he said nonchalantly as if it was no big deal. "I have seen it with my own two useless eyes… the Shiny Stone of Great Change!"

"The Shiny Stone of Great Change?" Pterano repeated after him, tilting his head and crest at an acute angle.

He nodded once in confirmation. "Yes, indeed. Don't you see the beauty of it, Pterano? That there exists something with the power to transform one into whatever species they so desire? Amazing, isn't it?" He leaned his head back, small bursts of laughter causing his body to shake. "There are multiple of these things, in fact, and I can spare one for you. To heck with your punishment, Pterano! You can forge an entirely new identity with the shiny stone! With it, you can waltz right into the valley and they'll never know that it's actually you!"

Pterano contemplatively strummed his fingers together. "Pardon me for the interruption, but this sounds too good to be true. What's the catch?" he asked with a cautious voice.

"Well, all you simply have to do is agree to my terms and conditions, and voilà! A stone will be yours to keep. Without the valley's watchful eye, you can finally be reunited with your darling nephew—"

Pterano snarled, interrupting the proposed offer before the flyer could get a single additional word out of his beak. "You've got some nerve to ask that of me! Pray tell, are you under the impression that I'm a fool who would get himself sweet-talked into doing exactly what you want as helplessly as a treestar that's at the mercy of the whims of the wind currents?"

The flyer youngling scratched his head. "Well, uh—"

"Because if you do believe that, then allow me to inform you that you're terribly mistaken," Pterano chastised, ensuring that he maintained his calm outer composure despite his rising anger within. "How dare you use my nephew's name to drag me into whatever scheme you want me involved in? Well, you can forget about it, young'un!"

"But…" the flyer tried to plead with him, but Pterano wasn't having any of it, stretching out his entire wingspan in an intimidating manner.

"Begone already! Shoo off!"

"Feh!" The flyer glared back, rather humiliated. "Just you wait! You'll regret this, Pterano…"

"Yeah, yeah." Pterano mumbled back as the young flyer took flight and left his perch. "Good riddance to you, young pest."

When the flyer was no longer in his sight, he let out a heaved sigh of relief. Pterano was remiss to admit that there had been a small part of him, deep down in his heart, that had been tempted by the flyer's offer to cut his punishment short.

"Petrie, your mother's right," Pterano had said, turning to his small nephew to stop the distraught flyer from objecting further to his punishment on his uncle's behalf. He refused to let Petrie get dragged into something that was his own fault. "We must all be accountable for our actions, much like how the valley is holding me accountable for mine right now."

Petrie's beak quivered as he heard those words. "Me will miss you, uncle…" he admitted softly, using a wing to wipe away stray tears.

"Do not fret, Petrie. I promise you that I'll be fine. And when five Cold Times have passed, I shall return to the herd and prove that I can truly be a trustworthy flyer who can lead other dinosaurs," he reassured his nephew with a jovial smile despite his impending punishment. "I just know that there is much that I can contribute to the valley herds if given the chance. But I'm afraid that that chance will have to wait." Pterano leaned down and wrapped his wings around Petrie, hugging his sniveling nephew to console him for one final time.

"U-Uncle Pterano…" Petrie looked up, blinking away stray tears from his eyes as he looked up at his uncle. "Me guess… this is goodbye…"

That simple gaze alone spoke volumes to Pterano. The longing in Petrie's brown eyes made it clear that the young flyer knew that this would be the last time that he would ever lay his eyes on his uncle for a long, long time. Pterano subsequently tightened his grip on Petrie, whispering one final, fond farewell to his nephew.

"Oh, dear Petrie… I will miss you too…"

As he recalled the loving embrace which he had shared with his young nephew two Cold Times ago, Pterano knew right there and then that he'd made the right choice in refusing the flyer. He knew that despite everything that the flyer offered, Petrie would be devastated if his uncle had resorted to his old ways just for a shot to reunite with him before his banishment was over. It would defeat the whole purpose of his punishment, and his well-mannered nephew almost certainly wouldn't accept a reunion in such a manner, despite how much he wanted to see his uncle. He imagined that Petrie would be distraught if he ever realized that his uncle had pulled a stunt like this out of pure selfishness.

Pterano was so wrapped up in his relief that he didn't see the flyer from earlier eyeing him from above with a rather nasty snarl, quite unhappy by the rejection that he'd been handed.


Look at that Pterano, looking so overjoyed at stomping over my kind proposal. Hmph! Who needs him, the flyer thought.

It was regrettable, but only a minor hindrance to his plans at worst. He would just amend his plans a little by tinkering around with a few minute details. Besides, Pterano would come crawling back to him sooner or later anyway.

But as of right now, he didn't require the services of a flyer like Pterano. He already had more than enough allies under his wing. In addition, he didn't actually need to recruit the flyer for a cause that he knew was basically nothing but a wild goose chase.

And why was that? The answer was elementary, of course — because he had been the one who had engineered said wild goose chase in the first place, rather much like the conversation which he had expertly engineered by redirecting the questions until they'd arrived at the question that he wanted.

Sure, redirecting the flow of a conversation sounded like it would be the specialty of a swimmer, given that the species could generate small currents and waves as they paddled about in the water. But who was to say that flyers, with their flapping wings causing mild eddies in the winds, couldn't redirect the flow of a conversation as well?

As a matter of fact, it was well known that flyers were the masters of spreading messages rapidly and widely. If there was any juicy rumor or gossip somewhere out there in the Mysterious Beyond, chances were that the various flyers were the reason that the news had ended up spreading like wildfire across migratory herds.

Yes, very much like the chain reaction that he'd most deliberately started up. He grinned as he glanced towards the ground to see the flyers down below still chatting engrossingly about his prior conversation with Pterano.

"Pssst…" A flyer hissed to another flyer next to him. "Did you hear those two fliers talking? From what I could hear, this random flyer said that there's actually a way to change between species!"

"Hah!" the second flyer laughed. "I'm calling spiketail dirt on that one! That sounds like hogwash that some yellowbelly made up!" he snorted.

"B-but…" The voice lowered to a whisper, one that forced him to crane his neck downwards to hear, "what if it's true?"

"Get real, ya nitwit! Only hatchlings would believe in dumb rubbish like this! This whole thing's utter nonsense, and you know it! The flyer that Pterano's talking to is even crazier than he is!"

"Hmhmhmhmhm!" The flyer chortled to himself, a harsh grating quality embedded into the cruel laugh. "I'm afraid that my plan will come to fruition… with or without you. Of course, I would prefer if you of all dinosaurs witness the end, but whatever. I have my ways of securing your help…" he mused as he shot a final passing glance toward Pterano before flying away and leaving him in the dust.

"But you will pay rather dearly for disrespecting me, and I'll be sure to return the favor… by using your precious little nephew."

He veered to the left, squinting his eyes as he tried to look out for the valley. Unlike most other flyers, he was unable to use the flash of vibrant green from the lush vegetation of the valley as a visual cue to the valley's location. Hence, he instead looked out for the telltale sharp peaks of the mountains that surrounded the Great Valley.

The same valley which housed those leaf-eater kids, that special herd of seven.

Those damned kids.

Truth be told, he himself hadn't believed the stories when the initial rumors of them had first spread across the Mysterious Beyond five cold times ago. It didn't help that the stories were mostly butchered retellings that had told him virtually nothing of use.

But then again, the same could be said of the species-changing stone… the very same one which he now possessed a multitude of.

"'It's only a myth, you fool,'… that was what all those naysayers had said right to my face. Ahahaha! Well, who's laughing now? Who's laughing now, you imbeciles!?"

Laughing at the absurdity of it all helped to pass the time. Before he even knew it, he was already at his destination.

The Great Valley.

Once he was within the vicinity of the valley, the flyer made haste in scoping out his targets. An easy task when all he had to do was look out for a group of children with varying species. He'd spotted them very quickly and proceeded to hide himself by perching on a branch poking out of the rock cliff, making himself comfortable as he eavesdropped from above.

A small issue did bother the flyer though. Although the tales that he'd heard spoke of seven children, he could only spot five of them at the moment. Nevertheless, he simply shrugged the discrepancy off for now… since the two which he did want to focus on were there.

"Petrie! It looks like you are going to be 'it' for our game of hide-and-seek today! You are, you are!"

The flyer had to admit that he cocked his head when that unusual style of speech was the first sentence that his ears was able to discern from the group. It was frankly amusing how quickly the tones of conversation had shifted. Even with young kids and their relative innocence, you'd be hard pressed to hear a carefree sentence like that in the Mysterious Beyond.

The whole tone of the sentence reeked of innocence. Perhaps it was fitting that it was the small swimmer who'd said those words.

"Wh-what? You want me be seeker!?"

The yellow flyer raised an eyebrow when he heard a second dissenting opinion from the group. "Really?" the longneck asked the swimmer, "You want Petrie to be the seeker? Um, I don't really know about that…"

From his vantage point, he was able to observe that the longneck's body language had changed ever so slightly from the swimmer's proposal, made even more obvious by his own apprehensive comments. The longneck's legs appeared more rigid, making the dinosaur appear rather tensed up. A smirk crossed the flyer. That longneck's nervous, he deduced.

And sure enough, he was right. The longneck proceeded to add on to his question with a worried remark. "You know, Petrie is very good at being 'it'," the longneck observed, shifting his neck towards a small flyer, "He's a flyer, he naturally has an advantage. Maybe we should have someone else be the seeker instead."

"Me already know me have advantage in hide-and-seek, but me certainly like that!" The flyer—Pterano's nephew—called out to the longneck with a voice that had a hint of mischievousness in it. "After all, it make game fun for me!"

"Fun for you, but what about us?"

The flyer watched in silence as the longneck and flyer bantered back-and-forth, subtly filing away the young Petrie's name. He hadn't actually believed Pterano when the flyer had unintentionally blurted out his nephew's name earlier, but to hear another dinosaur refer to him as Petrie pretty much confirmed that it was indeed the name of Pterano's nephew.

"Hah! Bring it on!" An arrogant taunt caused him to shift his gaze onto a snobby threehorn. "I bet you can't find my hiding place before time's up, Petrie!"

"But, Cera…" the swimmer whined in Petrie's defense, "Petrie is very good at being finding others when it comes to hide-and-seek. You should know that. You should, you should."

At those words, the threehorn promptly scowled down at the small swimmer from earlier. "Yarghhhhh! Come on, whose side are you on, Ducky!? I don't care if he's good, Petrie can't possibly beat me!" she boasted with a confident smirk.

The hidden flyer felt his beak rising in vicious glee upon hearing the threehorn's remark. With that, he now knew that the swimmer went by Ducky. Now this was certainly useful knowledge to have.

So… Ducky and Petrie, eh? Nice to know. Very nice to know indeed…

He held his head high as he let out a vicious cackle, armed with the knowledge that he now had. From what he could gather from their interactions, Ducky was the swimmer and Petrie was the flyer. Amazingly, with the exception of Petrie, that was the first time he'd managed to get a name of any of them — all the tales that he'd heard omitted the identities of the dinosaurs who were part of the fabled group.

Just as he was about to gloat inwardly at his victory, the flyer suddenly felt threatened, a sense of foreboding rising up within him out of instinct. The feeling felt almost as though someone was strangling him by the scruff of his neck.

Straining his neck as he leaned forward, the flyer roamed his eyes around before noticing why he felt that way. His beak fell open in surprise when he spotted that one of the five who he'd painstakingly scoped out had unfortunately also managed to spot the sinister flyer perched on the top of the rock wall above.

"Uummfhhh!"

A growl left his beak as the spiketail let out a warning bellow to warn the others of the uncanny flyer spying on them from above. That observant little pest was going to ruin everything!

But fortunately for him, the flyer quickly realized that it was the least problematic of the five who had managed to notice his presence. As a result, he simply watched from above as the spiketail on the ground kept on futilely gesturing his neck up towards him.

"Found you! Yep, yep, yep!"

There was an audible giggle from the tiny swimmer below as she struggled to hold in her laughter after tagging the spiketail. "Hee hee hee! You should not have given away your position like that, silly! Nope, nope, nope! And to think that I am not even the seeker!" she shook her head, amused by the whole affair. "You have got to be more careful than this, Spike. If I was Petrie, you would have been done for. You would, you would!"

Two narrowed golden eyes focused on the small swimmer below wagging her finger in a lecturing-like motion to tease the spiketail. It appeared that luck was on his side. "Stupid spiketail…" he muttered as the spiketail continually grunted up in his general direction, despite getting himself caught out from his hiding place by doing just that. It seemed that the game had escaped the spiketail's focus in his single-minded pursuit of revealing the mysterious flyer that he'd spotted.

That said, the flyer perceived that he was beginning to cut it close. He was very fortunate that the spiketail was unable to vocalize his thoughts, but to wish for a miracle twice was unfeasible.

He knew that more than anyone.

Yes, now was certainly the time for him to go. He definitely wasn't going to throw everything that he'd worked for away in one fell swoop by getting himself caught at this critical juncture. Not when the spoils for his grand scheme were finally beginning to bear tree sweets.

His glorious dream was so close to becoming a reality. So very tantalizingly close.

"You should be honored, dear Ducky and Petrie…" the flyer triumphantly said, his eyes never leaving his two targets even as he ceased his reconnaissance mission and soared back up into the sky.

"…for the both of you are the chosen harbingers of my new Mysterious Beyond! Heheheheheh!"

As he left the jutting peaks of the Great Valley behind him, the yellow flyer only gave one final ominous warning for things to come, his voice turning deep as his sinister words echoed faintly across the dry Warm Time wind.

"The specter of death looms upon us all…"


Author's Note:

First off, a happy early 30th anniversary to The Land Before Time! :D This would be going up exactly one month before the original film turns thirty years old!

Now I've certainly said this before, but I used to—and still do—lurk the Land Before Time fanfiction archive. A lot. From there, I'd observed that there are two fandom-specific plots that are quite popular and thus have been written quite a few times in various different stories.

First is the "lone human winds up in the LBT world" concept, made popular by The Land Before Time Retold series (it's at least the most famous/popular one anyway) — with the trope being extremely popular a few years ago, even though these stories seemed to have tapered off recently.

Next is the "Gang turn into Sharpteeth" dark fics, best exemplified by The Seven Hunters and its sequels. These have certainly become quite the popular trend to write, with quite a few stories following behind its footsteps (at least the darker undertones part) for these past couple of years.

Despite those two fan-favorite plots seemingly being very different, I'd noticed that they primarily share one thing in common — an unusual out-of-this-world, earth-shattering experience from someone's point of view. Which now leads me to my point — I don't think I've actually read a LBT transformation-based story that isn't about a human turning to a dinosaur, or a flattooth (*cough* usually our beloved Gang *cough*) turning into a sharptooth.

At least, that was until the Gang of Five forum recently started up a roleplay with this exact same concept. Um, oops? Well, I'd already drafted up this story when they chose to start it up, so I can't really throw all my work into the garbage, now can I? But with the exception of that, species transformation is quite a wealth of untapped potential, so I shall try my utmost best to make this story a success. :)

Anyway, I better address this at the start and quickly get it out of the way — this story will eventually be a Ducky/Petrie fic, as the swimmer and flyer duo is my personal pet LBT pairing (feel free to judge me :p), and there really aren't a lot of stories featuring said pairing. That being said, please don't let it turn you off the story if you aren't a fan, as I'll be going for something different instead of the usual fluff that this pairing would normally imply due to the nature of this story.

And yes, I know I did say that the fic will try to break the mold and be different from others… yet a magical artifact much like the Stone of Cold Fire appears to be the catalyst of the whole premise yet again. Yeah, bite me. I need a crutch for this to work, so allow me this one leeway, alright?

I'll be interested to hear your thoughts in the reviews, but until then, once again, here's wishing an early happy thirty years to The Land Before Time!