Dragon Dawn (Dinosaurian Time Travel Book 1)

By: Deborah O Neill Cordes

Book One of the Dinosaurian Time Travel Series




PROLOGUE





I knew they would come, thus I waited.

And watched.

~The Keeper





One million years B.C.E. in an alternate universe, on the red planet, Moozrab.



Shanash stood with her fellow astronauts. She felt her head feathers raise and push against her space helmet’s interior. The moment had arrived.

The volcano before her beckoned, overwhelmed, its slopes so enormous she could glimpse but a fraction of its bulk, one nameless, eroded butte. She opened her mouth to speak, knowing everyone awaited her words, but in her excitement she could not utter a sound.

She gathered herself and tried again. “Mission Control.” Her voice crackled in her headset. “We are standing on Moozrab.”

She took a breath in relief, now free to imagine her message winging through outer space to her home world, the blue-water planet called Shurrr. Once heard, it would elicit the triumphant trills of a billion saurians. This was the culmination of ten years of intense work, the result of an alien laser signal sent from red planet to blue. The signal had flashed for three consecutive days and then ended as abruptly as it started, leaving the saurians with a mystery. Despite repeated attempts to answer back, they had received no response, only brooding silence. And yet, the signal had been undeniable proof they were not alone in the universe. Even if the aliens were long gone from the Solar System – or long dead – Shanash knew, everyone knew, there had been Others.

A trembling rose inside her, an eagerness barely contained, and she set off toward the volcano’s great shadow. Bright chatter filled her headset, the other astronauts echoing her mood. Together, they moved past jumbled rocks of rust and gray, beyond the reach of the pale-pink sky. Shining their chemlights before them, they found the place where their digging drones had toiled, a lone stairwell of alien origin.

Down, down they went, their footfalls soft on dust-draped steps. They passed through a vast chamber of glittering amber walls and stumbled upon a door. A handprint had been carved on it, the figure in bas-relief, three-fingered with long claws. Incredibly, the alien print nearly matched their own trio of digits.

How is this possible? Shanash stood for a long moment. As a physician-scientist, she knew the enormous evolutionary odds against such a thing happening. Puzzled, she reached out and touched the handprint, but after barely grazing it with her gloved fingers, she pulled back. What lurked beyond the door?

Or who––?

The door shuddered and then swung wide, the space around it alive with whirling motes of dust. Mustering her courage, Shanash stepped into a vacant chamber and surmised it was an airlock. With a wave of her hand, she motioned for the others to follow. The door automatically closed, sealing the room tight for pressurization. Shanash heard a deep whoosh as air rushed in, yet she and her companions remained safe within their spacesuits, for the atmosphere here was surely alien and unbreathable.

On the far side of the airlock, another door opened, revealing a chamber with a large, rectangular structure of polished red stone. It resembled a queen’s sarcophagus from Erraz, an ancient Shurrrian civilization. Could this possibly be an alien tomb? And if so, who was buried inside?

Shanash stared at the tomb, transfixed, and then roused herself, beckoning everyone forward. Straining with the effort, they pushed and pulled on the heavy lid and forced it aside.

An alien rested within, copper-skinned and perfectly preserved.

Breathing deeply, Shanash willed herself to a semblance of calm, knowing she must examine the corpse with scientific detachment. The creature looked much like her species, the head containing sensory organs – eyes, nose, and mouth – the trunk broad and powerful, with paired appendages, two arms and two legs. Yet it retained a structure saurians no longer possessed, a long and well-muscled tail that she guessed the alien had once used to wield a mighty swipe.

Through her helmet’s headset, Shanash listened to her colleagues as they studied the creature: “It appears to be asleep – so well preserved.”

“Yes, like someone in a nesting bed.”

“Did you see that? Is it breathing?”

“By the Goddess, it’s alive!”

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