Untold ages ago, John Hammond’s seemingly bottomless funding ran out.
Economies crashed, cities burned, nations consumed each other, the seas rose, the stars fell, the lights winked out permanently, and Hammond’s “improved” genetic creations… found a way. They thrived, for a time. With all the havoc that the Cataclysm wreaked across every continent, one small island remained hospitable to what turned out to be fiendishly intelligent life. The creations bided their time, plotting their eventual conquest of the world that by rights should have been theirs for the last 65 million years, the world that was stolen from them when that thrice-damned rock fell out of the sky, flattened the Yucatan, and sent their inheritance screaming up its own cloaca and handed it all to those soft-skinned hairy mammals.
Not this time.
This time it wasn’t a rock that came barreling out of the sky to darken their days and upend the balance of evolution.
This time, it had six strings and a whammy bar.
And then the darkness reigned supreme once again.
Many generations of time later, from the smoldering caldera of what had once been briefly called Isla Nublar, crawled the first of the Lizard-Men. They blinked in blind terror at the searing rays of the sun. Many retreated beneath the ground, rejecting the heat and light of the surface to find another evolutionary way forward, some never to be seen again, others to found new genetic branches that could claw out a hard-won niche in any given ecosystem.
And a few others learned to cope with the surface, gritting their rows of serrated teeth in determination to finally, once and for all, claw and slash their way to the top of some food pyramid on some world somewhere, even if it killed them.
And while the half-life of the scalding green substance at the very bottom of the caldera slowed its frenetic mutagenic frenzy, the Lizard-Men emerged astride their throwback half-tamed mounts, the Dino-Steeds.
And as intelligent life began to emerge elsewhere in the world in other, less-scaly and bad-tempered forms, the Lizard-Men set about designing a raft with which to reach the distant mainland shoreline they could barely make out to their east, if they squinted.
It took them a while. Smoldering caldera as Isla Nublar was, the Lizard-Men were obliged to wait until the glowing green crap could mutate some viable palm-tree DNA out of a miraculously unscorched coffee table that was the only surviving wooden artifact extant on the island.
But Lizard-Men are nothing if not patient.
By the time the Moose cities had established themselves well enough to send trading emissaries to the Human and Elven settlements (but before the Dwarves had mustered enough strength to make their power known), the Lizard-Men had carefully and painstakingly evacuated all their number (including several of their Dino-Steeds) from the island, which might have gone faster had the Lizards been imaginative enough to grow enough mutant palm trees to assemble more than that one single and somewhat leaky raft. Some younger Lizards grumbled that it was no wonder their ancestors hadn’t the imagination to survive their first extinction all those millions of years ago, but those dissidents were promptly devoured for their insolence, and the evolution of the species sat down and parked itself more-or-less permanently right there.
Long ago, the first encounter between Lizards and Moose triggered a short war, which the Moose handily won since the altercation took place in midwinter when the Lizards are sluggish and stupider than usual while the Moose are at the top of the game (and less likely to be distracted by their warmer-weather mating bugles). The Lizards retreated beneath the ground to lick the ichor from their wounds and plot their revenge (a dish best served warm and toasty, by Reptiloid standards). And so it was that a Lizard raiding party invaded the Moose capital on Midsummer’s Eve, causing high casualties among the busily-rutting ungulatoids, who were left to rue the day they abandoned their autumnal mating season in favor of stripping down and getting freaky during the warmer summer months now that global warming had melted off both their ancestral snows and most of their heavy pelts.
And so the war continued in a seasonal see-saw fashion, until the historic peace accords struck when the Dwarves were discovered and attacked by all other races combined… but that’s a story for another volume.
Peace has reigned for the past three humanoid-generations. And from the last clutch of eggs born to DeepDownDarla of the Ssssskipper-born clan, emerged a scrawny, sticky, blinder-than-usual runt that didn’t really warrant a name, but that D.D.Darla called SssubTerryNeon, out of nostalgia for the pet stegosaur she’d ridden to death as a child. Long story, you had to be there.
SssubTerry was sub-useful, sub-intelligent, and sub-loved as a hatchling, but mostly because his eyes were quite weak and he kept bumping into corridor walls on his way to the schoolroom cavern. He did end up being regarded as a possessor of inordinately high amounts of luck, in part due to the sheer number of rockfalls and plummets into bottomless pits that he just barely avoided in his young life. Eventually his mother sold all her material possessions (as well as her somewhat worn-out but apparently still desirable virtue) to a passing Mancer, who, in response to D.D.Darla’s dying request, installed upon her last son’s cranium a Dark-Seeing Helmet, comprising infra-red goggles and hat-lantern that, for the first time in his life, permitted young SssubTerry to see as well as any nude-headed Lizard-Man in daylight (albeit somewhat painfully), and very slightly better in total darkness.
SssubTerry thanked his Mancer benefactor, then reverently devoured his mother’s cooling corpse, saddled her secondhand Stego-Steed, and set out to make his fortune as a Raider.
He did okay for a few years. But now that he’s gotten the call from old comrades in Ridwhick, he’s certain his fortune’s about to change for the better.
Goddamned Dirtyfighting Raider (4)
- retractable dewclaws, modest collection of poisons, complete lack of hesitation
Dino-Steed Jockey (3)
- rides a somewhat runty and foul-smelling mutant stegosaur, prodigious payload capacity, slow and clumsy tail-swinging attack, surprising conversational skill, answers to “Stegma.”
Sensory Augmentation (2)
- Mancer-sourced and –installed Mining Helmet and Infra-red Goggles, sees slightly better in the dark than aboveground, contrast setting might make Precursor artifacts easier to spot, if only this thing worked at all. With its utterly flat battery, it’s basically nothing more useful than a pair of blue-blocker sunglasses… unless something happens to improve matters down the road…
GM’s Choice Cliché! (2) (since I wrote so much… bad habit of mine!)
Woo-hoooooo! I can’t wait!