Title Art: Master Kogane
Cast image: Babnol
WARNING: repeated mentions of Death By Creatures both known and unknown, and mentions/implications of slaughters.
Requested by: Curia Regis.
Prompt #1: I would love to see a Leek/Lester AU fic. I don't mind if it's slash, pre-slash or gen, so long as they're the main characters. I'd like to see something political, if at all possible. I don't mind smut, but it's by no means necessary! I love plot and mindfuck scenarios.
Prompt #3: I'd like to see something of where Helen has been in the past eight years (or however long it has been subjectively for her). Hence, fic about the future (I'm a huge sci-fi) fan would be great! Fic about other intelligent life forms going through the anomalies would also be wonderful. I don't want to see Helen portrayed as the stereotypical bad guy. I'd like to see reasons for her actions. She can do evil things, but I'd like to see good reasons for her doing it, even if these reasons are a bit warped by normal standards.
Characters: Lester, Helen, Ryan, Leek,
OCs: Meghan Mack, Taylor Crane v3, John Bull, M. Tremayne v2, D. Owen v2, Anne Button,
Cameos: DCI Tanner, Laura Tobin.
Created Species: Lithosapiens essexensis, Arbrobrachia postochiroptis “dave,” Silurvenator sp.
Cameo Species: Sinovenator sp.
Summary: Helen's efforts and travels, both before and after series 1, go a long way to shape not just series 2, but another world entirely.
Question: Is the “the Hound” of this story any relation to Brutus of “The Fid” and “Round about and watery”? Maybe yes, maybe no – I wrote this with the Hound as a vague figure lurking in the background; if you want to visualize Brutus as the Hound, go right ahead; if not, no worries.
Notes/Warnings: the version of Mary Nicol mentioned briefly in this story, is based on one line of one sentence in a science anthology, and has nothing in common with the RL Mary Nicol.
Note: The quotes at Part Two and the end, are to say that series 1 takes place between Part One and Two, while Part Two takes place after this story.
Note: The quotation from the Gospel of Judas was drawn from the book ‘The Gospel of Judas’ edited by Rodolphe Kasser, Marvin Meyer, and Gregor Wurst.
“It is impossible to sow seed on [rock] and harvest its fruit.”
-Jesus Christ; Gospel of Judas.
PART ONE: Endings and Beginnings
It was not the first time in her life that Helen Cutter was regretted the impetuousness of curiosity, though the burning in her lungs told her that it might just be the last. Eight feet of Permian seawater lay between her and the gorgonopsian waiting patiently on the shoreline, and the little voice in the back of Helen’s mind was insisting that it was looking down at her just as she was looking up at it.
The feel of the water changed abruptly, and it wasn’t simply due to the faint pink tendrils that were drifting through it – those were already there, part of the growing anoxia which marked this as the close of the Permian era. Helen rotated, eyes open for whatever was making the hairs stand up on her skin.
And there it was, just like in the Forest of Dean and causing the same reaction with her. An Anomaly.
Suspecting as much as fearing that a gorgonopsian could outlast any air-breathing prey that had gone to water, Helen swam towards the Anomaly, hoping it was related to the one she had passed through mere hours ago, which had brought her to another epoch for the first time in her life.
Once through, she raced for the surface, willing to chance anything lying in wait there, or ready to dive from the depths of the sky upon anything that surfaced. The water was crisp and cold. As her head breeched the surface and her mouth opened to suck in fresh clean air, Helen noted that the air didn’t taste like it did in England, that there was a taint to it. Ducking back down, Helen looked through the salt water and noted that it was only cloudy along the bottom several meters below even the Anomaly. Nothing in the water with her, and not a thing in the sky.
The shoreline here was not far off. She took her time swimming towards it, and didn’t lie on the tepid-tided mudflat of a coast, preferring to collapse onto her back once she had reached the dry wind-smoothed plant-free plain just beyond it.
Helen hadn’t even had her eyes closed for a full minute before a shadow fell across her face, forcing her to open her eyes to assess the danger. Whatever it was, it had a circular iris-like mouth and no eyes. Three tongues like surgical tools slowly emerged from its mouth and Helen had no doubt they were intended to be used on her.
The sound could be felt through the ground, and the Creature’s tongues retracted back into a mouth which promptly closed up. Next to it was a person – a woman Helen’s age. “Doctor Cutter,” she said, clearly recognizing Helen from – somewhere, Helen wasn’t sure where. “Long time, no see.”
“We know one another?” Helen asked.
“You don’t know m- Oh fik- That’s right, you met me after.” The woman placed special care and attention on that last word. “I’m Taylor Crane. And you’re welcome.”
“The tremors were from you?”
Taylor nodded. “That’s one of the few things I can say in their language.”
As she rose to her feet, Helen asked, “They’re intelligent?” It was an observation, not an affront.
“Yep. Like you used to tell me, doc – and I say this without fear of contradiction – intelligence’s variable isn’t that it exists, but what it’s used for. Sad thing is, there’s not much they can use their brains for ‘round here.”
“They can’t leave?”
“Not really – their food source is only here a few months of the year, and everything south of hereabouts is nasty.”
Remembering the gorgonopsids. “I can imagine,” Helen said.
Taylor looked amused – bemused? “If you’re coming from where I think you were, then no, you can’t. Not yet.”
‘Not yet.’ “How comforting,” Helen said dryly.
She nodded. “C’mon, lets sit by the fire. Dry off some. The Leeches won’t bother you any more.”
“What, you thought the resemblance was parallel evolution?” Taylor chuckled.
“Iterative, and it was a hope.” One not borne out by all the Leech-length burrows, and each of them was what Helen suspected was a tongue’s length from any neighbor. Like penguins and herons – just out of reach of one another, but relying upon the group for… and that train of thought braked hard. What did giant leeches need neighbors for?
“Hey, I’m glad they evolved from leeches – that means they didn’t evolve from humans.”
Now that Helen knew what to look for, she could see the differences. The pad that leeches used for gripping as they inchwormed forwards had in the Leeches become a cloven pad capable – as Helen saw – of holding stone tools. “Where are we?” Helen asked.
“Essex,” Taylor said. “Specifically, the North Pole.”
“The sheer amount of salt prevents the water from freezing.”
“Exactly. And it’s an inland sea anyway, so the salt just builds up more and more. And no I don’t know the when…my guess is I was born twenty to forty-five million years ago.” She brandished an evil smile, “Assuming, that is, that leeches aren’t just a conservative group and this is really a hundred fifty million years post-me.”
Helen’s expression was question enough.
“I’ve been here a few years, doc. Their prey’s big – broad as a pancaked elephant and tall as a normal one – and either it evolved from an anglerfish, or something from our time picked up the habit of clinging to its mate.”
“I can see how that would add uncertainty.”
“I like you,” Taylor grinned.
Morlocky. Morlockish. Morlockite. By any name the cooos sent chills down Helen’s spine and made her - irrationally, yes – afraid to look up. She kept where she was, sprawled out in the dust where she’d landed, whole; had the Hound followed her through, it would already have set to work on her vulnerable back.
The cooing came to an end, and Doctor Helen Cutter eventually felt safe enough to look around, but as she started to turn her head – more cooing.
Intellectually, she knew that Morlocks were not real.
Viscerally, her body reacted with terror to the sound she had dreaded all her childhood; it was one of the consequences of having grown up on the milk of English literature, weaned onto the hard sciences.
No such thing as Morlocks, Helen told herself as she raised her head in slow increments. They were created by H.G.Wells in – The coos were not from Morlocks.
They were from therapods. Carnosaurs. The Abelisaur-Carnosaur group, she estimated from their appearance. Helen suspected that saying anything would be about as productive as her addressing Queen Elizabeth II in Thai.
It would get their attention. And maybe that’s enough, she hoped. She really, really hoped it was as she slowly rose to her hands and knees, fully aware she no doubt looked like an herbivore, like a prey item. Can’t be helped.
Helen was surprised when there wasn’t even a coo in protest at her getting up on her own two feet. There was only the feel of the pack’s eyes on her. Fourteen pair of inquisitive, searching – scouring? – eyes, taking careful note of her every move. Have you seen my like before? Helen wondered. Like Taylor and her Leeches, are you acquainted with humans?
And she noticed something about these carnivores: their heads were capped with a little dome in that space between the forward-facing eyes. “You’re intelligent,” Helen said softly. Taylor had claimed her Leeches were smart. These dinosaurs were on the way to joining the ranks of Leeches and Humans.
But one nagging question remained, and was aired by the little voice in her head: where were the fossils? Theories filled her mind – that they were known only from partial remains, evidence that didn’t include the vital piece of skull; they lived in the wrong habitat; they died out too soon: the Cretaceous was longer than the Triassic and Jurassic combined, and the impact of 65 BC was not the only extinction the Cretaceous had experienced in that time.
Not knowing what else to do, Helen drew shapes in the soil. Begin at the beginning, she decided, that being as good a place to start as any other.
Two dots in one circle, two dots in the neighboring circle. The dinosaurian answer to dryopiths watched with patience. Carnivores have plenty of patience, Helen knew. Wrap a circle around the two circles.
Set four stones down in the greater circle, careful not to let the stones slip into either smaller circle. Slap the stone you’ve been using to denote Yes.
The ‘venators do the same on the ground before themselves.
Wipe the ground once more. Two dots in one circle, two dots in the neighboring circle, wrap them and place five stones in the greater circle. Slap the air beside that Yes stone – striking nothing, you signal No.
They do likewise.
They called themselves Ember Midnights, a name that had taken the fumblings at fire-making and long hours awake when sleep was so temptingly beckoning and even the quarry floor looked comfy. Their name was collective, addressing their entire kind – no personal names, at least not yet that Helen had come to learn…but then, you could say the same of much of their language, what passed for one.
Regardless, this was before Helen was driven from this epoch, the Ember Midnights loyally on her heels; and after that, she would be thrown back into time all alone (once more).
Curled up in cleaned then discarded skins, Helen was at this moment engaged in her fondest pastime – reading. On one page, Taylor had wondered –
‘1,002: What is it about intelligence? What drives the paranoia of one species and makes another incapable of developing conspiracies? Our ancestors needed to distinguish a camouflaged predator from its environment, as well as small moving morsels of meat from their environment; our ancestors’ ancestors needed to find fruits on the verge of ripening, and find them before anyone else did. In a race of carnivores, who don’t need that ability to distinguish that we did, would loyalty and trust flourish in the absence of any semblance of worry and paranoid fear? One day, I’ll find out.’
Helen closed the notebook and tucked it away, surrounded by those very beings. So far, Taylor was entirely correct. May it continue to be (so), she felt.
Previously, on Primeval:
“The future. Helen Cutter’s last frontier.”
to be continued