• Published 26th Apr 2017
  • 2,692 Views, 87 Comments

Equestria Girls: DinoSapien - Tarbtano

A retelling of the Discovery Kids' show "Dinosapien" set in the Equestria Girls universe at a summer camp, where the possibility of living dinosaurs ties into one girl's quest to discovery how one of them is connected to her missing father

  • ...

Chapter 3 - Monster in the Woods

In the early morning hours; Maia, locket dangling across her collar, hurried up the stairs and towards her father’s study. Fortune and events prior hurried her steps along.

-Sunny and mom are with the campers today until noon. Gives me at least three hours to scout around for Eno before cycling back to help out for the rest of the day.-

She rounded the stairs and started down the hall.

-Just need to skim through some of Dad’s notes, he might have more besides the notebook I already have!-

She glimpsed light behind the door, obviously coming from a desk lamp inside because the sun was just barely rising at this hour. For a split second, Maia felt elation from nostalgia. The nostalgia of numerous times she’d walk in on her father’s study when he was busy going through some notes or rereading some survey papers. It made some part of her mind think he might be behind the door when she opened it, making the observation of it being a young woman she didn’t immediately recognize more painful than confusing.

“Oh, hello there Maia! My my you’ve grown! Last time I remember seeing you, you were barely up to this desk’s height!”, Petunia Paleo quipped with a giggle as she motioned to the short desk.

Maia blinked a few times in confusion, shaking her head to both try and clear it and throw off the slight frown that had formed when some distant dream of her father miraculously returning was proven faulty.

“I’m… sorry,” she murmured, “I think my memory is a bit fuzzy. Having trouble remembering if we met, ma’am.”

Petunia Paleo chuckled and extended her hand to shake it, “Understandable. I’m Petunia Paleo, hopefully Doctor Petunia Paleo soon if this project pays off. I was a student working with your parents and some of their colleagues some years back.”

“Oh, um, welcome back! Sorry, I must have been pretty young when we met,” Maia noted as she shook the woman’s hand and forced a small laugh.

She awkwardly crossed her arms before herself, “What are you doing back on Lost Land Isle?”

“Oh, I’m back to get some research on my project in the badlands. Since I needed a place to stay, your mother was kind enough to rent me the space. I’ll also be helping out with the camp on my off time, I always did like bringing in some new blood to the field of Paleontology!”

The woman’s jovialness was infectious. She seemed so much like a younger, female version of how Maia remembered her father. Maia would have been smiling widely had she not noticed Petunia’s hands all over her father’s notes with some other books pushed aside to make room for several microscopes and computers.

No longer did the room look exactly how Paleo Search left it. Maia’s expression flattened as she eyed up all the changes, seeing her lost parent’s notes put away in boxes and his trinkets nudged aside on some shelves.

“... Aaaand you’re in my dad’s study becaaaaause?

The stand-off tone in her voice was evident. Petunia Paleo shrugged and was about to say something when a voice behind the both of them spoke for her in a stern tone.

“Because I let her when she asked.”

Several minutes later and the scene and tone had changed. From Paleo Search’s study and odd questions to Gentle Heart’s partially vacant bedroom and raised voices.

“That is my dad’s study!”, Maia snapped while practically gnashing her teeth at the offense.

Her mother, Gentle Heart, kept a stable voice despite clearly having some worn patience at her daughter’s rudeness towards a house guest.

“She’s an old friend and your father would be happy to help her, so I did. I’m surprised you don’t remember her more to be honest. She practically babysat you multiple times.”

“She’s got no right to do what she’s doing though. Did you see how it was in there? She was totally moving everything around!”, Maia barked while throwing her arm up to the side in an angered motion.

Gentle Heart narrowed her eyes slightly and pointed a finger at her daughter, “To make space! Your father never was tidy and no one has been in that room since he di-”

Maia, in a heat-of-the-moment passion, cut her off, “Disappeared!! …You were going to say “since he disappeared” right?... Or were you going to say something else that starts with “D”?”

Gentle Heart went silent with a frozen expression upon her face, “.....”

The teenager huffed in breath under her mother’s staring, tiny tears biting out of her eyes from stress and old pains. Gentle Heart said nothing, only reaching out and putting her hands on Maia’s shoulders and a stern, but not necessarily unkind expression on her face. She let Maia steep for awhile, waiting until her daughter’s huffs grew weaker and weaker, her grimace turning into a frown.

Maia slowly looked down and away in shame, “... Sorry, mom… I-”

The ringing of the camp’s wake-up bell and the surefire rousing of the campers cut her off. Gentle Heart sighed and put her hand up to cup the side of her daughter’s face as she waited for the bell to pass. Mrs. Heart slowly nodded to her child.

“We’ll talk about this later, okay sweetie?”

“...Okay mom.”


He was running, running for his life through the dark forest alone. Past the wide bills browsing on the opposite side of the clearing, past the flock of birds and one towering giant flier, through the scrub and over a hill. He kicked off the hill, sailing a good ten meters through the air before catching himself against a tree. His claws dug into the bark hard enough for him to feel the friction spurred by them digging trenches into the wood. But any relief was brief as he craned his head backward and shrieked in surprise. Prying himself off the tree, he just barely managed to dodge the dark blur's pounce. The dark form, similar in shape to himself but so different in other ways, hissed from missing its ambush. He dropped to the ground and grunted on the impact, managing to roll to the side just as his pursuer dropped down to the ground with sickle shaped talons stabbing down on the same spot he'd been no less than a few seconds prior.

Eno whirled himself up and faced the hostile, raising his feather crest and tail fan, holding his arm wings outwards, and bristling up all his body feathers to try and make himself look bigger. The avian saurian curled his lips back and raised his own inner foot born talons, straighter and more scythe-like than his enemy's curved sickle shapes, upwards. Even if he was fearsome in his own regard and barely any smaller than the rival species, Eno still found himself cautiously backing up as it stalked closer. Eno's shrill hisses were met by sharp barks, the former quickly pivoting on his feet with the help of his swaying tail to keep the enemy in front of him as it circled back and forth to get an opening. It was only due to the crack of a stick behind him that Eno realized the predator had been working him back towards a specific corner of dense foliage, and that it wasn't alone.

A second dark mass exploded out of the shrubs with outstretched jaws. Eno ducked, dodging by only such a slim margin that he could feel the hot breath on the top of his head as the exposed fangs sailed overhead. Everything moving in slow motion, he acted on the only thought he could; rising back up rapidly to ram his head into the second attacker's shoulder and knock the airborne attacker even more off balance. It gave him a horrible headache, but it did manage to knock the other dinosaur away and send it fumbling into its cohort. Shaking his wooziness off, Eno's legs tightened with tension that fed into the large muscle extending into his tail. Like a wound up spring, it helped him explode into motion and make a maddened sprint away.

They were both alongside him soon enough, snapping at his tail feathers with toothy chomps upon the whizzing air. He tried to lose them by kicking off a tree and rapidly changing direction, but they kept up. He tried jumping over a small gorge, but they did the same. He tried frantically, frightfully belting an alarm call to signal for help. But the only response was their distorted mimicry that burned fear into his mind. No sign of the group nor of any ally. The environment couldn't help him get away, family couldn't help him fight, Smells-Weird couldn't help him with his tricks, and they were going to get him. Out of any options, Eno could only sprint for the sudden burst of light and beg that whatever happened might save his life.

Eno startled awake, breathing heavily and rapidly kicking his legs up under him. The creature quickly jumped up, turning around to ensure his surroundings were of the human dwelling and not back in the forest; back with them. It took five minutes for him to finally calm down and even longer for his eyes to stop being dilated. Eno grumbled and shook his head as he let his muscles relax. Stupid sleep-story.

Eventually he breathed in relief, sighing if he were capable of such a thing, when he spotted the morning sun had risen. Dawn could still have its dangers and day time wasn't a cake walk back home either, but at least the rising light meant They weren't going to be out and about any longer. While he had some confidence this location, the abandoned human grounds, would keep them away due to the alien appearance of the not-caves and weird human-nests, assurance was a welcome thing where he came from and a creature comfort in this land.

Nudging aside the large shelf he'd pushed over the night prior to barricade the door so he could sleep a bit easier, Eno tapped his scythe shaped inner toe claws upon the ground and went about his agendas. Climbing up on the roof, he basked in the warm sun while setting himself to preening his coat. Some loose feather plucking and grooming, an ordeal made easier by a device he'd uncovered earlier when scavenging a human-nest. What it was he hadn't known the context for, but the odd half meter long prong was great for raking through his feathers and picking out pesky loose quills without having to do it himself with his teeth. Few things more irksome than feather strands stuck between the fangs.

Next came food. Standing ankle deep in the shallows of the river, still as a statue with his S-shaped neck cocked back at the ready. A slight movement betrayed the presence of a catfish whom was soon plucked out of the water in a manner akin to a heron fishing. Gripping the slippery prey with a hand, Eno chomped down on the head and twisted to the side; the resulting crack making it fall still. Content on the quick kill, he pinned the large fish down under his foot, stabbing his inner claws in and tore into it. The serrations on the backs of his teeth made them less suited for slicing in bites, but excellent at rending and pulling away food as more manageable chunks. To an outside observer, Eno would closely resemble a hawk when eating; using his talons to hold the food to the ground and pulling chunks out. After tearing off the flanks to get at the main cuts of meat, the dinosaur kicked the fish carcass aside and scarfed down some ferns as the more robust serrations on the front of his fangs helped in shredding the plants. The meal concluded, Eno turned his attention to the river rocks nearby. After milling through them for a moment or two, he gleamed his prize. Gripping a few smaller ones with the tip of his snout and snapping them up into his jaws; Eno swallowed the rocks and shook his neck and chest to guide them down to his gizzard.

The saurian cooed, scratching at his throat contently before shaking himself off and pacing into the woods.


Apple Crumble and Rumble peeked out from the corner of their cabin and out towards the back gate of the campground.

“Counselors sighted,” Rumble whispered as he put his toy binoculars to his eyes.

“Can you tell what they were saying?... And why are we watching them?”, Apple Crumble muttered as she glanced at her vitriolic cohort. To her, it was just Sandalwood and Mrs. Heart’s daughter talking to her cousin at the gate.

“Because Petunia Paleo said she could use us as an extra set of eyes and ears. The scout guide book said always be aware of everything and they’re acting funny.”

Apple Crumble rolled her eyes, “Yeah, and the Brownie guide book said sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong might result in losing it.”

Either ignoring the advice or too caught up in his own wild speculation, Rumble rubbed at his chin, “But what would two counselors be sneaking off alone together into the woods for?”

Apple Crumble was about to say something but the thought got caught in her mind. Soon enough they were both scratching their chins and humming. Thankfully they weren’t a few years older or they could have come to some very incorrect conclusions. By the time they finally looked back up, Sandalwood and Maia were already gone and Sunflower was pacing back towards the mess hall muttering something about-

“Flapjacks! Sandal and Maia made a ton of them-!”, Rumble was yanked back by Apple Crumble.

“Hey! Feet before stomach! Let’s go see where they were going first,” she whispered, her current investment showing quick persuasion to curiosity.

Rumble groaned a complaint, but soon followed along in the sprint to the gate as soon as Sunflower was out of sight. Stopping at the paths and game trails, they puzzled and surveyed the trees, shrubs, and riverside for any sign of the counselors.

“Hm… Where do you think they went?”

“Iiii think I saw Sandalwood mouth the words “bike”, so they probably went to go get them from the outdoors shack. We could probably find their footprints if we check the right trail.”

Rumble looked over to nod but his eyes widened. Mouth agape, he quickly pointed off to the side of the trail.

“Woah, they’re not the only footprints though; check it out!”, he yelped.

Apple Crumble followed the direction he pointed towards and soon had a similar expression as they scampered over to it. A few dozen feet from the trail, almost invisible against the brush and only seeable due to being in a light colored patch of sand, was a single, large two-toed footprint. Unknown to them, left by something far more wild looking than any teenager. Eno had stepped in the sand on his way back from delivering the locket.

“Is that a bird track?...”


Sandalwood and Maia, still smelling of pancake mix, pedalled down the bike path and towards the ghost town; a transport method Sandalwood insisted on and Maia wasn’t keen to argue with after the kayak debacle.

“Well, this is it,” Maia muttered as she leaned her bike against a tree and hopped off.

Sandalwood slowly whistled while surveying the abandoned worker village as he did the same and slung his backpack onto his shoulders. “Pheeeeeeeeeeeeeew, like, Sunny wasn’t kidding.”

He noticed the creaking, sunbleached old timbers groaning in the morning breeze, cracked or broken windows; and in one building’s case a partially caved in roof with half a small tree sticking out of it after evidently having been thrown through the ceiling during a storm. Run down didn’t even begin to describe some of the buildings.

“Soooo, which horror movie did they film here? The one with the chainsaw or the one with the hockey mask?”

Maia chuckled even as she groaned and elbowed him lightly in the ribs.

“Your pack sounds heavy, what all did you pack?”

“Usual wood-sy stuff,” Sandalwood quipped as he slung his bag out in front of him and opened up the zipper. “Flashlight, compass, water filter, plant guide book, pocket knife, striker, bear spray and stun light-... Yeah sorry, I know your bird isn’t dangerous but-”

Maia shook her head and tapped him on the arm, “No, it’s okay. Better safe than sorry right? Besides, plenty of non-avian stuff out here.”

Sandalwood sighed, knowing how serious this weird bird was to his friend and glad no offense was given, “-well besides that, I got this.”

He pulled out a large, double ziplocked bag of assorted dark mass in dry clumps that vaguely looked like meatballs mixed with trail mix. Maia raised an eyebrow and picked at the bag to test its weight; already knowing it had to be heavy given it took up about half the bag space in the pack.

“... About three kilos of trail mix?”

Sandalwood shook his head and indicated towards the food, “Pemmican, good stuff. My uncle’s recipe. Some lean meat, fats, cereals, berries.”

“And you got over five pounds of it in your bag becaaaause?”, Maia deadpanned, “We’re only a twenty minute bike ride to camp.”

Sandalwood shrugged, “Hey, sometimes I get the munchies. Really badly.... So, still got that feather?”

“Right here,” Maia noted as she pulled Eno’s shed feather that had landed in Sunflower’s hair from her vest, “Why?”

Sandalwood perked up and to the side slightly, eyeing a building behind Maia.

“Because I see another, look.” he pointed upwards at a small building, likely once a tool shed or storage shack. Clinging to the roof shingles were multiple loose downy fluff and shed quilled feathers, along with an odd object lodged between the shingles. Pacing over and puzzling, Sandalwood and Maia eyed up the oddity.

“Here, can you give me a boost?”

“Yeah, hop up,” Sandalwood said as he interlaced his fingers with his palms facing up to give her a platform. Maia carefully stepped up and reached up as Sandalwood straightened out and held her aloft. Just barely able to reach up, Maia managed to grip and pry the strange object out of the shingles. Hopping back down, her and Sandalwood’s befuddlement didn’t cease. It was a straight piece of metal with a wooden, screwed-in handle. One end was tipped in several blunt prongs like a fork, with the opposite end curving downward slightly before devouring rust had apparently snapped whatever was attached to it off.

Maia fiddled with it, rotating it around before finally realizing what it was from her last family cookout.

“Looks like half a set of grill tongs. The other end must have worn down and broke off from exposure. Why was it in a roof though?”

“Couldn’t have been so for too long, look,” Sandalwood pointed to the prongs while drawing back out Maia’s feather. Lodged between the prongs was the unmistakable piece of a feather nearly identical to the one Sandalwood was now holding up.

“Hmmm… Wait a tic though. If it was stuck in the shingles, how the heck did a feather get in it? The prongs were buried in the tar.”

Maia didn’t answer, too lost in thought. She slowly reached up and shifted the handle of the tongs outside her hand to get a better look at it, spotting the claw marks on the wood. Her eyes widened, memory matching the visage of clawed hands with the tong as she fidgeted it around and wrapped her fingers around where the marks were.

“... Eno had been handling it. He stuck it in the roof when he was done using it.”


Petunia Paleo walked through the mess hall as the campers toiled and played with the partially assembled chicken bones, looking over a completed skeleton on her tray.

"Now birds and dinosaurs share a great many traits many wouldn't anticipate in addition to the feathers. Dinosaurs for instance might have had a muscular crop or gizzard for holding stones called gastroliths, which they used to grind up food the same way this chicken would have swallowed pebbles to grind up feed."

Concluding her little presentation, she walked back towards the front door and put the skeleton down, "Now, I'll be walking around to help any of you out."

With a smile and nod she sat back next to Gentle Heart.

“You sure you don’t mind doing this?”, Gentle Heart muttered with a worried brow. She stood together with Petunia Paleo inside the mess hall as the campers went to work with their arts and crafts project.

“Oh not at all, I rather like keeping busy; helps my mind keep working rather than dawdling.”

Her eyes perked up as she noticed two particular kids toiling at a table.

“Ah, excuse me,” she muttered before making her way towards the table in question.

At said table, Apple Crumble and Rumble were fiddling with the chicken bones they’d been given for the craft project. Right now their attention was on the foot.

“Was it like this maybe?”, Apple Crumble mumbled as she assembled the half put-together toes onto the leg bones into a shape similar to what they’d seen in the track.

Rumble puzzled, but shook his head while holding up two more toe assemblages for the chicken foot, “No, close. But birds have four toes.”

“Not quite always the case there.”

The two children looked up and soon had smiles stretch across their faces as Petunia Paleo took a seat across from them.

“Some kinds of birds have fewer than the typical four toes,” she paused and tilted her head, “Why the sudden interest in bird feet?”

Sunflower huffed as she brisked past the tables. Most of her mind was focused on trying to make sure none of the kids were putting the “non-toxic” part of the craft glue or paste to the test, but she couldn’t help but overhear some of the conversation as she passed one particular table.

“Oh, we found a weird track outside of camp near the trail. Big one too.”

Petunia Paleo struck a bemused expression, “Really now? A maybe bird track I take it?”

“Well we think maybe, it didn’t look like a mammal paw or human foot. Or even a bird foot really, only had these two toes.”

Apple Crumble held her hands up and outwards to indicate a size of at least six inches, “And it was biiiig!”

Sunflower stopped mid step like she’d been shocked by a jolt of electricity. Her quickening pulse was contrasted by the unbeknownst jovialness of Petunia.

“Well now, that’s not unheard of in birds. Ostriches, the largest living birds, only have two per foot.”

“Yeah, but we didn’t think we had them up here.”

Rumble puzzled, thinking up ow birds feet look and his memory of the track for comparison, “Maybe it’s something else?”

Petunia Paleo smiled and nodded, “Good thinking Rumble, perhaps one of the toes just didn’t preserve. Tracks can deform if they’re in loose ground.”

“Like sand?”


“So maybe it looked different, are there such things as giant robins?”

“Hmm, not that I’m aware of. Tell you what, why don’t I get you some plaster so you can pour it into the print? Ever heard of making a mold? That way we can keep a record of the cast.”

Sunflower was breathing a bit heavier as the her little cousin and Rumble yelped in glee.

“Ah yeah! Like in cop shows! We’ll get right on it Doc!”

Petunia Paleo giggled, opting not to correct them that she wasn’t a doctor yet and just have some fun. At this point Sunflower couldn’t even hear them, having too much of a heart attack as she power-walked into the storeroom and kitchen, slamming the door shut behind her.

-Damn it!-

She hissed through gritted teeth, curling her whited fists upwards at the wrist while stomping her foot. Still grimacing, she bit at the back of her knuckle and paced back and forth.

-MaiMai was clear on one thing last night and this morning. She trusts us with it, but no adults. Could mess up Mrs. Heart’s camp and snatch away any chance she’d get to study that damn bird of hers! If the brats really did find a footprint of it and get it to the science-lady, she could start sniffing the feather-brain’s trail!-

She stopped and peeked out the crack of the door, biting her lip as her little cousin and Rumble kept talking to Petunia Paleo. Sunflower bit her tongue.

-Gotta find some way to disrupt them without it being obvious…-

She scanned the storeroom and kitchen, milling through a half dozen hairbrained schemes a second. She wasn’t a chemist so trying to whip up some spectacle with stuff thrown around the kitchen was a no-go. Fire was out of the question. Sunflower’s frustration built to a growl.

-Come on, come on! Gotta be something in here that could clear a room…!!!-

She paused upon glimpsing a bit of black fur going by a window, memories of a picnic gone horribly wrong at Brownie camp with Maia ten years back rushing back into her head. And she was dreading every second of it as she opened the window. Spraying several squirts of her orange perfume onto her hand, she waved it about to waft the scent out and draw the critter in closer. She backed up slowly as it came through the window, leaving a trail of fruity scent going along the floor and towards the door. No creature could resist the scent of Valencia Orange Family brand.

“Hope you’re hungry, come and get it you little trog,” she muttered while mentally swearing.

Biting her tongue as she eased back to the door and opened it slightly, Sunflower hosed down the floor just outside the door to create a strong scent at the end of the trail and promptly rammed the door open, sprinting back into the hall.

Gentle Heart looked up in confusion as Sunflower came sprinting out from the kitchen and towards her and the exit. Unknown to her was the fact Sunflower Orange’s blind panic was most certainly her not acting.

“MRS. HEART WE GOT SOMETHING!”, the Orange heiress shouted, getting both Gentle Heart and everyone else’s attention.

“...Um, is it more craft glue? We’re not low quite yet,” Gentle Heart mumbled as Sunflower bolted up to her and gripped her shoulders.

“Oh my dear, what’s wrong with you?”, Gentle Heart said as she tried to calm the shaking girl down.

“IT’S A-”, Sunflower was cut off by Rumble jumping up and pointing at the dark furry mass that had waddled in through the open kitchen door with half a flapjack in its mouth, saying exactly what the counselor was about to.


Soon the mess hall erupted in children screaming and rushing out the front door, followed close behind by a baffled Petunia Paleo and Gentle Heart, who in turn were followed by a Sunflower whom was just now discovering that relief and terror were not mutually exclusive emotional responses.

The confused skunk just ignored the humans, waddling over to the edge of the serving counter and helped itself to the flapjacks stacked upon it.


“See what you mean, does kinda look like a big bird nest. Just with bed stuffing instead of branches,” Sandalwood whispered as he observed what Maia referred to as this “Eno” bird's nest.

“Look like anything you seen before?”, Maia poised as she watched on from the window.

Sandalwood knew what kind of question she was really asking though. He rolled his eyes and waved in an offhand gesture, “Heeey heeeeey I believe you and Sunny saw something really weird, and you’re way too smart to see some escaped emu or ostrich and think up something this crazy.”

“Sunny never would let me,” Maia muttered.

Sandalwood shrugged his shoulders, “Just want to see it in full myself. Least give me a context and all besides your dad’s sketch.”

He leaned away from the doorway and stepped out of the general goods store and into the ghost town proper. He reached into his back and drew some pemmican out of his bag and took a bite, glancing around to take in his surroundings.

“So where do you think it is?”

Maia puzzled and tapped at her chin.

“Not sure, he was definitely here. A nest that big means this is permanent lodging.”

Sandalwood gulped down the dried mix, “Unless we accidentally spooked ‘em yesterday. You did say it was afraid of your stun light and ran off when I was biking up.”

Maia had a moment of worry that just might have been the case, but just as her frown was starting to form another memory of yesterday presented itself and counteracted it.

“Wait.. Waait wait wait! When Sunny and I were trying to walk back, he would follow at a distance. But when I called out the sound ‘Eno’...”

Sandalwood’s eyes widened and he started slowly nodding in recollection with a smile forming over his crumb coated lips, “It came out and got close!... It also got close when you were on the bike that first night after you called out when you thought you heard a human voice.”

“Think I should call out then? Usually that scares animals off, but you got a point.”

“It did approach after you replicated one of its calls. So either like, maybe it’ll get curious hearing its own species’ call or maybe it’s docile around you because it’s learned what your voice sounds like. Try calling ‘em out!”

“Worth a shot,” Maia quipped while shrugging her shoulders.

Sandalwood’s eyes lit up and he smirked, “Hey, think I got an idea to help!”


“Don’t pay attention to me, just get in the open and make the call,” Sandalwood piped as he jogged over to the edge of the town.

“Huh... Well okay then.”


A few kilometers away, Eno pitched his snout down and sniffed at a gruesome sight. The bones of what had once been a large deer had largely been picked clean, even the scavenging flies dimming in numbers as most of the flesh had been removed from the kill site. The dinosaur turned his head upwards to observe the trees above, scanning them from trunk to top until he could find what he was looking for. Using recurved claws and strong legs to half jump and half shimmy his way up, Eno soon found himself perched upon the base of a very wide branch. He clicked quietly to himself, observing and sniffing the scratch marks in the tree branch ahead of him.

Eno’s neck recoiled backwards slightly at the familiar scent that made his muscles lock up in momentary fear. Shifting attention downwards and reminding himself yet again what he was smelling didn’t come out in the day time, he could see a few broken bits of foliage leading up to where the carcass was. The scenario played through within the creature’s mind, the complex process of putting observation and past knowledge into the sophisticated process called assumption and deduction getting to work. The prey mammal had been grazing nearby, as indicated by the clipping on some of the shrubs. Then the first attacker came at it from the ground level, intentionally scaring and driving it towards the tree. By the time the prey realized its attacker wasn’t alone, its killer had already dropped down upon it from the vantage point.

Eno hopped down from the tree, the five meter drop not even phasing him due to his tail granting him superb balance and the dinosaur’s springy, digigrade legs absorbing the fall. He clicked again quietly, swinging his head around to observe the canopy of the forest.

He’d have to make a note to keep an eye on what was above him and never assume one of them was alone.

He sniffed at the skeleton again, catching a scent coming from the serrated teeth marks on several of the ribs. Yep, it had most certainly been them; probably on that first night either before or after he came across Smells-Familiar. If before, it made sense they’d go for more prey after failing one hunt when they tried to ambush Smells-Familiar and himself. If after, it meant either their appetite wasn’t sated or they were finding mammals quite to their liking in taste.

Strange however, he could pick up something else had come to the carcass to feed after the fact. Keeping his head low, Eno traced the trail as best he could, wading into a thick bank of brush. The trail was mammalian, but unfamiliar. Definitely not something like Smells-Like-Fruit or Smells-Familiar so it wasn’t a human. Curious, Eno followed it for a kilometer before the quiet of the forest was disrupted by a distant call.


Eno popped up from the brush and looked around, swinging his head about.


Eno chirped, hearing it again and now able to tell which way it was coming from. In the distance he could just barely make out the border of the ghost town through the trees. It sounded like Smells-Familiar again. Eno tilted his head and began to pace forward when another sound chased the first. A booming bellow. He could make out a shout of some sort by a deeper voice, followed by one that sounded like when Smells-Like-Fruit and Smells-Familiar got startled at his nest. Eno’s eyes dilated and he squawked, jumping several meters up and over the brush and up to a tree branch, soon bounding off of it to leap over the dense brush and get to a game trail.

“Eno?”, Maia called out again, being sure to stand in the middle of the ghost town to make herself as obvious as possible.

A short distance away, Sandalwood crouched down in some of the brush to hide, his backpack at his side and his camera phone out. Given how this ‘Eno’ bird ran away when he approached last time and seemed to key in on Maia’s voice, it had been his intention to try and hide so maybe it wouldn’t get spooked by an unfamiliar presence. And he was still close enough to act on defense should something go south for Maia of course.

Maia shrugged, cupping her hands over her mouth and turning around as she called out to throw her voice as much as she could.


She waited, hearing nothing but the distant crackling of the river and occasionally the wind blowing through the trees. It was Sandalwood whom first heard something different. He’d been so focused on the ghost town he didn’t hear the soft patter of paws on the ground until his backpack had been knocked over.

“Eh? What the huh?”, he jolted sideways and tried to grab the bag to set it up straight again, only realizing something was inside it when he took hold of it.

A dark brown form popped out of the bag with his bag of pemmican clutching in its paws and jaws. Sandalwood levitated off the ground and jumped back reactively, mentally swearing. A shrill, scared whine called out, one Sandalwood recognized in a way that nearly made his eyes pop out of his head. It was a brown bear cub. And that meant-

A booming roar called out from the brush and a fully grown bear reared up from the foliage. Sandalwood scrambled backwards, unable to stifle a shout as a surprised call behind him said Maia did the same. Maia ran up and grabbed her friend by the shoulders and pried him back, helping him out of a stumble and back onto his feet. Both humans backpedaled as the mother bear stomped out of the brush. The bear didn’t charge forward immediately, for it wasn’t a predatory attack, but it was a matter of food and her scared cub; so she put her over 200 kilograms of bulk between the humans and her offspring. Lips curling back, she roared a sharp snarl and began to advance to force them back more.

Maia and Sandalwood backpedalled, grasping for options. The bear-spray and stun-light where in Sandalwood’s bag with a ticked-off bear between them and the tools. Sandalwood glanced backwards.

“General store’s about a dozen paces behind us, door’s still open. Back up toward it!”

“O-Okay, just remember,” Maia cringed as the mother bear growled and took another step forward, “Don’t… turn.. around. If we do it charges. Move together.”

Sandalwood gulped, “Right…”

The bear was about to bellow again in a fierce display meant to intimidate something away, when a different sound overtook the call. Coming in from the east was a piercing, shrill screech; much like a hawk’s call but deeper and louder. It was the only thing to herald a green and rusty red blur charging in from that direction and jumping onto the bear. Springboarding off the brown bear’s back, Eno dug the back of his feet into the ground and swung his tail outwards to spin himself around. The bear quickly shook off the impact’s daze and scampered about to put this newcomer in front of her. Intimidation displays were cast, the bear rearing up to show off her height and bellowing as Eno outstretched the wing feathers on his arms while puffing up his head crest and tail fan to look bigger. Mammalian snarls were met by avian cackles. The bear stomped forward, Eno bobbing back and weaving to keep out of the bulkier mammal’s reach while jumping about to circle the bear. Jaws snapped and and arms swiped, missing either by inches as they circled each other.

It wasn't a fight, at least not a physical one. More a dialogue or contest on who was going to back off first. Gradually the both of them separated, stopping the circling and backing up; the mother bear towards her cub and Eno towards the humans. The bear’s hairs stopped bristling and Eno flattened his feathers back down, snarls and cackles dimming down to strong looks and tense muscle as the distance between them grew. The bear grunted, turning and walking off into the brush with her cub climbing down the tree it had shimmied up for safety and waddling alongside.

Eno hissed a sigh and loosened up, turning around and facing the still stunned Maia and Sandalwood. The nictitating membrane that protected his eyes, giving them a whitened appearance, retracted and his pupils contracted back down to normal; quickly changing his appearance from fearsome to docile.

Maia only now realized she'd been holding her breath, sighing a harsh exhale out after Eno curiously tilted his head.

“Eeeno eeno,” the avian grunted calmly.

Sandalwood caught his breath, “That.. was one of the coolest things... I've ever seen… in my life… Maybe second to the Spring Musical Showcase, hehe.”

Maia felt her heart rate slow and a small smile cross her face. She gently elbowed Sandalwood, “Sandal,-”

With a sigh she motioned towards the idly avian, “-meet Eno.”

“Um.. Hi, you are oooone,-” he let his eyes trail across to the creature’s taloned feet, toothy snout, and the clawed hands poking out from underneath the wing feathers, “-weeeiiird bird…

Eno tilted his head at the human in a universally curious motion, bobbing his head up and down in a comical manner as he surveyed the human. Weird, he could swear the male human smelled like meat, but not human meat. Still, he didn’t see any real offense and they weren’t acting out, so Eno grunted quietly. If Smells-Familiar trusted Smells-Like-Meat, Smells-Like-Meat wasn’t a threat then. He trusted who the young female human smelled like and it was the best thing he had to go off of. Tapping his scythe claws against the ground, Eno straightened back up and clicked contently towards Sandalwood.

Maia chuckled, “I don’t think he takes any offense.”

Sandalwood still chuckled a tad awkwardly, “Hehe, thanks.”

Eyeing the shrubs the bears had disappeared too, Sandalwood sidestepped Eno and went to go and get his bag. Maia, content she was safe, looked about and shook her head in the slight awe. He definitely was something else as far as birds go up close. Oddly familiar in some way too, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Following where Eno was now looking, she realized his attention was on the small shiny object slipped over her neck.

-Sandal thought you might have just picked it up because it was shiny.. Time to test that.-

Maia gulped and pulled the locket out somewhat and held it up, not removing it just in case but curious to see Eno’s reaction; to see if he’d peck or grab at it like most birds would at something with their interest. Instead she found her brow raising when Eno curiously leaned down to get eye level with the jewelry, but did nothing. No attempts to nudge, peck, or seize. In fact she could swear it looked like he was trying to analyze it, leaning closer like someone might do when trying to make out small print on a sign.

-Was he trying to see something on it?... Does he think I’m trying to show him something?-

Maia puzzled and was about to say something, when beeping on her watch caused both her and Eno to get snapped out of the trance. Maia’s watch sounded off for the noon alarm, indicating it was time to head back to camp; a meaning lost on her company. Eno hopped back and squawked in obvious distress, looking around for the source of the noise as Maia scrambled to turn her watch off.

“It’s okay it’s okay, see!? See? Just an alarm? Ah damn it, turn off you stupid!-”, Maia growled as she scrambled to hit the silence button for the alarm.

By the time she did, she realized the dead quiet in front of her and looked back up just in time to see a mass of feathers push into her face.

“Aghppppf! Eno stop!”

Her muffled cries sounded off as Eno grabbed and pulled her in close, practically nesting on top of her like a protective bird would as he kept looking around for the sudden burst of noise.


He clutched Smells-Familiar close to shield her, yanking her off her feet and rapidly turning to try and see where that ticking was coming from. It couldn’t be, it just couldn’t! They never came out in the middle of the day when it was so sunny out! But it was Them, he was sure of it! Had he been wrong all this time? Did they only just prefer to come out at night and could strike by day? Had they found him? Smells-Familiar and Smells-Like-Meat couldn’t run very fast, they’d surely get picked off!

He could try and distract them, yes. Yes, he could do that! Distract them and buy the humans time! He’d have to make a lot of noise though, draw as much attention to himself as possible. Maybe a wounded leg gambit? They’d come running if they thought him crippled. But then he’d have to find an escape as well, couldn’t count on a lucky break like that stunt he pulled with the river and he couldn’t fight even one of them one on one and best them; not yet.

He was scared, scared out of his mind. But the poor human, she must have been terrified! Making all those human sobs even as he tried to protect her. Even Smells-Like-Meat was crying out, no doubt also keyed into the danger!

Eno hissed, still frantically looking around to try and find where that ticking had come from; where the ambush lay bound from!

He tried to tell them to get ready to run, “Risssss paaaahwk! Ka-coo ka-coo!!”


“Risssss paaaahwk! Ka-coo ka-coo!!”

“Huh?- HEY! LET HER GO!”, Sandalwood shouted after retrieving his bag and turning around only to see his friend clutched close by Eno.

Maia thankfully had a jolt of memory at Eno’s latest call, remembering how he emitted a similar call with the stun light. She fumbled around to get her face out of Eno’s puffed-up feathers.

-He’s not hurting me and he’s shaking, that must be a distress call! Watch probably freaked him out!-

“N-No! Sandal wait!”, she shouted and threw a hand out to halt Sandal, who’d drawn the bear spray and was about to charge in.

“I’m okay! I’m okay! He got spooked by my watch alarm! Show him yours!”

“Wh-What?! Maia what are you?!”

“Just do it! Show him it’s just a watch! He can recognize a human device, did it with the stun light!”

Sandalwood really wanted to say no, really wanted to do a thousand other things to secure his friend’s safety than take his watch off and turn the alarm on. But he ended up doing the latter, even if he was tense the whole time.

The instant the pinging of the timer alarm went off, Eno’s eyes locked onto him and Sandalwood winced. While Eno’s normal eyes were big, expressive, almost friendly looking, it seemed stress caused the nictitating membrane to flick over his dilated eyes like it had when confronting the bear. It gave Eno the appearance of blank, almost gray-white eyes, a pretty unnerving sight to say the least.

Sandalwood held his breath as he dangled the watch outwards as the alarm continued to sound off, Eno’s head twitching with the swings as a dead give-away that he was looking at it and it alone. Slowly the bird seemed to calm down. His feathers flattened back down, muscles lost their tensity, the membrane flicked back to its sheath, and his pupils contracted back to normal. He let go of Maia and tilted his head like a perplexed puppy, slowly walking over towards Sandalwood and poking the watch with an outstretched, claw bearing finger.

Sandalwood slowly reached over with his free hand and turned the alarm off. Eno stood motionless, blinking in clear befuddlement before grunting and poking the watch again.

“Eehehe, thiiink I’m gonna keep it off for now,” Sandalwood muttered while putting his watch back on.

Maia, brushing herself off and more importantly, knocking off some shed feathers that had become attached to her; giggled awkwardly, “Yeeaah, I guess maybe it’s like a dog whistle to him.”

“Sorry if it freaked you out there, buddy.”

“Good thing Sunny didn’t come or she’d snark about us apologizing to a bird.”

“Hey, a bird who can kick a bear’s tail; I ain’t arguing!” Sandalwood grunted with an impressed pout, “Sorry about nearly mace-spraying Eno.”

Maia shrugged, “Had it been you or Sunny getting a face full of fuzz at random, I’d have freaked out too. Hey, pretty awesome I got friends rushing to help like that.”

Her fond smile turned to Eno as well, applying that last courtesy to him as well.

Sandalwood sighed, “Well note to self, from now on no watches. Or ‘least like, silent ones. Sadly noon bleeping means we gotta jet MaiMai… Aaand I don’t think we can bring Eno back with us.”

Maia pouted at the lost time, “Well, this is his home so he should stay here. Didn’t follow us back last time.”

Sandalwood slung his backpack across his back and stepped towards the bikes with something else in his hand other than a watch or bear spray.

“Well, folks say don’t feed the animals but he’s already eaten human food with the MREs,” he muttered as he reopened the pemmican bag with Eno stopping to sniff the air being a clear indicator it had gotten his attention.

Sandalwood chuckled and held out the bag, “Apologies for the spook and thanks for the save with the bear. You earned it.”

Eno blinked a few times, leaning in to inspect the bag. It did smell good, smelled really good actually. Much to Sandalwood and Maia’s surprise, he reached out and gripped the bag with his paws before fishing his snout down into it to draw up a clump of pemmican and snapping it down. Eno’s eyes dilated and his tail puffed out.

He thought Smells-Familiar was nice. Smells-Like-Fruit screamed a lot and hurt his ears once but she smelled good as a perk. Smells-Like-Meat he worried with at first, both with the shouting again and then the weird Them-Call-Maker on his and Smells-Familiar’s wrists, but Eno unknowingly discovered one fact about the trio of friends. Sandalwood was the best cook.

Smells-Familiar’s flock was wonderful!


Sunflower could hear herself breathing due to the paintball mask she was wearing. The Orange was barely recognizable due to having raided the sports gear cabinet. Half covered in a jumpsuit, umpire padding, and holding a net on a stick; she slowly crept into the mess hall with her eyes darting around to and fro trying to spot the skunk.

“Your cousin is pretty brave,” Rumble muttered as he crouched next to Apple Crumble at one of the picnic tables.

Apple Crumble shrugged as Sunflower Orange disappeared inside the mess hall, “Or stubborn. She is the only counselor here at the moment.”

Sunflower’s voice slipped out of the mess hall with a noticeable edge in her tone, “Okay Flower, just you and me. Had your lunch, now let’s get you back to Bambi.”

“Huh, she named the skunk Flower.”

“Weird, bummer we couldn’t get the plaster from Doc. With all the chaos and no counselors she’s having to help Mrs. Heart.”

Apple Crumble however, wasn’t frowning. Instead she was smirking as she lifted up one of the craft project paste cans, rattling it in her hands.

“Got us covered. Paste hardens up just like plaster. Might not be the best, but this should work. Ever made fingerprints in glue?”

“Oh yeaaaah, and with the counselors gone, it’s the best chance we got! But what if the paste messes up the footprint?”

Apple Crumble shrugged as she got up, “Well the print was in sand so it’s gonna go ‘way anywho. Might as well give it our best shot.”

The kids flinched as a yell sounded from the mess hall, along with the sound of banging furniture and creaking wood. Evidently Sunflower was having the fight of her life reenacting a Tom and Jerry skit. Gentle Heart and Petunia Paleo quickly ran for the mess hall as another crash sounded off.

“Quick quick quick!”, Apple Crumble beckoned as she and Rumble made a break for the gate while everyone older was distracted.

That night, counselor cabin

“Did you see how fast he was?!”

“I know!”

“And those claws, whoooa- like, switch blade size! And he didn’t hurt you with ‘em!”

“I knooow! I checked the books on birds and he was nesting on me! Nesting on me! He was trying to protect me from a watch! Ahahaaa!”

Sandalwood was as eager a kid bouncing on the bed, “And he went ta’ town on that pemmican! Emptied the bag in three bites without one bite outta us!”

Maia didn’t need to be infected by the enthusiasm, she was already over the moon ever since they had to leave the ghost town to get back to camp, “I know! See, I told you he’s no threat!”

Sandalwood burst out laughing, putting a hand on his face as he leaned back on the couch. Stifling his chuckles, he shook his head while letting a “Birds of North America” book flop onto the coffee table.

“Hehehehe...Well, that tears it. Thumbed through all the birdie pictures here twice now and this ‘Eno’ of your’s isn’t any known bird. Looks like your dad totally found a new species!”

Maia, who’d been going through some of her father’s notebooks, still had the main one open to the page showing the sketch that started all this. Now that all three of them had seen Eno close up and in good light twice now, not a doubt was in any of their minds that he was the same species as what her father had sketched. Even if one or two details seemed slightly off, such was easily chalked up to artistic error as Maia knew her mother was the artist of the family.

The shower in the bathroom cut off and a few moments later, Sunflower walked out with her bathrobe on and a towel coiled around her hair. The emptied can of tomato juice she was holding and slight red tinting on her skin preceded her perturbed expression.

“Glad to see you two’s wildlife encounter was just as… exciting…”, she grumbled and earned a grimace from her friends.

“Sorry about the skunk, Sunny.”

Sunflower Orange grumbled, at least just glad to have finally got the skunk spray’s stench off her. She plopped down and reclined on the recliner chair.

“Took one for the team, but you two owe me..biiiiig time.”

Maia sighed and put a hand on her best friend’s shoulder, “You really did great Sunny. We gotta keep Eno secret for now. We’ll have to keep a look out for Eno leaving prints if he comes close again.”

Sunflower groaned, “Aaaagh, don’t tell me Featherhead is going to drop by here again?”

Maia grimaced, “He… does know where we live, Sunny. And he really liked that pemmican.”

Sandalwood rubbed at the back of his head, “Well, silver lining? Does seem like it knows to keep out of sight by people. Only came by here at the dead of night like last time, otherwise he’d be knocking at the window now wanting another batch of my cooking. That footprint was probably from last night.”

Sunflower begrudgingly shrugged, “Speaking of which. Did you two catch that print? Tykes got away from me when I had to deal with the skunk so I don’t know if they managed to sneak off or anything.”

Maia shrugged and stood up, “That’s just it, we checked right before you got into the shower. Same spot they must have seen it and there wasn’t anything there.”

Sandalwood chimed in, “It was in sand, those kind of footprints can break down quick.”

“Could they have gotten the cast out and literally covered their tracks?”, Sunflower muttered.

Maia furrowed her brow and shook her head, “If they were wanting to show it off to… Petunia Paleo-”

Sandalwood and Sunflower noticed a slight edge in her tone when she said that name.

“-they would have maintained it. Besides, it’s not like they could have gotten the plaster from her with how busy she was until we got back. Plaster wouldn’t have hardened by the time we got back to check as well.”

“And Rumble and Crumble were with us the rest of the day soon as we got back from the Ghost Town. No time to run off and do it when one of us was distracted even if they did get the plaster from the Doc,” Sandalwood added.

Sunflower nodded slowly, biting her finger in thought before shrugging, “Guess your right.”

Maia smiled proudly at her friend, knowing the caliber of what Sunny had done.

“Hey, really cool how you stuck your neck out for Eno like that. Thanks, in your debt Sunny.”

“Was some fast thinking of your perfume like that skunk, you rock Sunny-girl!”, Sandalwood yelped with a pumped fist.

Sunflower sighed, rolling her eyes and letting it melt into a chuckle as she waved her hand casually, “Hey, don’t think I don’t intend to collect on that debt! Steam baths and foot rubs, starting tonight-”

Her face suddenly morphed into momentary confusion followed by broiling anger with her tone to match, “-THOSE LITTLE TWERPS!”

She roared and levitated off her chair, much to the confusion of her cohorts. Before anyone could ask, Sunflower scowled and pointed out the window. Maia and Sandalwood hopped up and looked where indicated, soon spying a flashlight and two short forms heading out the gate.


Apple Crumble and Rumble tip-toed towards the edge of camp.

“You sure it was this way? I can’t see a thing!”, Apple Crumble whispered while trying to bring up her turned-off flashlight.

Rumble pushed her hand back down, “Hey, keep that thing off! You could wake up the whole camp. Wait until we’re out the gate.”

Barely able to see said gate in the pitch black, new moon night, Apple Crumble tentatively followed along as they inched their way towards the camp exit. Out of sight, the flashlight was ignited and swept across the trail leading close to the bike path.

After a minute of searching in a familiar spot, Apple Crumble furrowed her brow as the sight of the sand bore no visage of the footprint or their jerry rigged paste cast.

Rumble murmured as he looked, “Should have dried by now, where is it?”


Rumble and Apple Crumble froze in place, spinning around to see the cross-armed figures of Maia Search and Sandalwood behind them.

“Yooou kids do know about bed times, right?”, Sandalwood muttered.

Maia raised her eyebrow and loomed over the campers, What are you doing out here?”

“Uuum uuuuh Ruuumble-”, Apple Crumble mumbled as she looked to the boy, “sleep walked! Aaand I ran out to get him!”

Rumble was about to say something but at the last moment, he caught the train Apple Crumble was trying to feed him.

“Oooh y-yeah! Sorry! The cabin door wasn’t locked! Glad you found us. A-Are we in trouble?”

Sandalwood rocked back onto his heels, “Only if you tykes don’t get back inside. Alright?”

“But-”, Rumble started and Apple Crumble finished, “-We dropped something! We were trying to find it. Can we?”

Maia’s eyes narrowed slightly, “... Did you know Sandal and I saw a bear today? A big one.”

“BEAR?!”, Rumble yelped.

Maia nodded while hiding a smirk, “Mmmhm! And they come out more at night too! Sooo how’s about Sandal and I help you look tomorrow morning? Okay? I’m sure we’ll find it.”

She didn’t need confirmation. At the words “bear” and “come out more at night”, Rumble and Apple Crumble tried to break the land speed record in diving behind Maia and Sandalwood. Neither counselor could resist chuckling.

“Hehe, Sandal can you take them back to the camper cabin? I’ll make sure things are locked up.”

“You got it MaiMai,” Sandalwood quipped while putting his hands on the kid’s shoulders to help guide them back to camp, “See you back at the lodge! Sunny’s gonna shove at least one chick flick down our throats tonight.”

“You do know I’m a girl right?”

“Naaaah, coulda fooled me!”

“Ah! Shut it!”

Rumble, burying his face into Sandalwood’s leg, cried out in a muffled voice, “Can we go back in now?!”

Maia snickered and shook her head, heading back after them. She did take one quick pause to look back. Flicking her flashlight back on, she swept it over the sandy strip the kids had been trying to search through.

-Hmm… That’s definitely where the print had to have been if they were looking there. Nothing though.-

She let the light guide to the fence and towards the still lit counselor cabin, mentally plotting out a trail.

-And it was definitely Eno’s, must have taken the route around the west side of the camp to get over the fence and to the cabin to give back the locket. I’ll have to try and make sure he doesn’t go over sand again or destroy any more of his prints.-

She sighed, deciding to close and lock up the front gate; unaware that a distant pair of eyes lay upon her.

-At least until I can find out more, find my dad…-


The eyes disappeared into the shrubs, trekking through several kilometers of forest with a hunk of hardened craft paste formed into a footprint clutched in their paws. Coming upon a rocky outcropping overlooking a short waterfall, its near pure black eyes met with a near identical pair. The creature cackled to its companion, who sat perched up on a low hanging branch like a reclined panther. The one on the ground, the slightly larger of the two, dropped the footprint cast at her feet. She walked up on two legs, covered in dark gray and pale feathers that let her kind blend in perfectly against the night to all but the sharpest of vision, similarly dark claws hidden behind short wings. The sickle-shaped inner claw upon either foot, larger and more curved than Eno’s, stabbed into the cast and pinned it as she leaned down and bit down. Serrated fangs ripped the cast in two with ease while shredding it beyond recognition. Tearing it to pieces and making it all but impossible to reassemble, she snorted and kicked the remains down the one story waterfall to be scattered by the river. Eno’s footprint cast was effectively destroyed.

She hissed, making a loud ticking sound. The Prey wouldn’t spoil this vendetta like one of them did last time.

Turning back to her mate, she clicked her jaw and called him down to rejoin her on a hunt. This forest was filled with good game beyond the major target.

Author's Note:

Proofed by Lance-Omikron and Faith-Wolff!
Artwork by Faith-Wolff!

Next time on Equestria Girls: Dinosapien!-
Extinct, no more!