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Posted in Time Tourists
March 20, 2019

Time Tourists: Chapter 3 – Nemicolopterus

Rhoda sat in the passenger seat of the VW time machine. She was still sore that Hailey hadn’t told her what she had done to the toilet before they left, but she was getting over it. That was just the way Hailey was. If she thought she might hear a “no,” she just wouldn’t tell anyone what she did. It was the same with converting the VW camper to nuclear fuel and so many other things she had done in the past. Rhoda was sure there were at least a dozen other secrets floating around, waiting to surprise her, but that was life with Hailey. In a way, it was fun. It kept things interesting.

“What’s that there?” Hailey said as she hit the brakes.

Rhoda looked up where Hailey was pointing and saw small shapes in the trees, but it was hard to make them out from this distance. Using her binoculars, she could see that it was what they had come fore. It was her favorite pterosaur – the nemicolopterus.

“That’s it, Hailey. It’s a whole flock of nemies!”

She handed the binoculars to Hailey, who said, “Awww. They’re actually kind of cute. They’re so tiny.”

“Their wingspan is about ten inches – smallest pterosaur we know of.”

“We have to take some home!” Hailey said.

That struck Rhoda as suspicious. “Why would we do that?” she asked.

“It’s a cute little dinosaur you could fit in your purse. Think of the money we could make!”

Rhoda sighed in relief. For some reason, she never trusted Hailey if they had the same thought, but knowing that their motivations were different made her feel better.

“One problem,” Rhoda said. “How do we catch them?” Even though she had dreamed of having a nemicolopterus since she was a little girl, she hadn’t made any plans to catch one. It had seemed like a dumb idea until Hailey suggested it. It was weird how often that happened.

Hailey grinned and nodded towards the back of the vehicle.

“There’s a tranquilizer gun at the bottom of that crate you were sitting on. There are some nets too, but they might not be helpful. I had bigger things in mind, like velociraptors. I figured I’d bring that stuff in case we got crazy ideas while we were here.”

Another Hailey secret. If the need hadn’t arisen, Rhoda would never have known about the gun. That girl was ridiculous.

“You know, velociraptors aren’t big either. The movies are inaccurate.”

“And you know I don’t care. Let’s bag us some nemies!”

Neither Rhoda nor Hailey had much of an idea how to use a tranquilizer gun. The first obstacle was loading the darts with the sedative. They were complicated little tubes with two chambers and what looked like a pink pom-pom hanging off the back. After half an hour of trying to figure out how to do it, they resorted to the instruction manual. That took another half hour of interpretation, but the end product was a loaded dart.

The next step was to load it into the gun. It looked like a pistol, but neither of them had ever held a pistol, so that didn’t give them any clues. They knew enough to not try to load it directly into the barrel, so they messed around with the back until they managed to get it to open and flip off to the side. As Hailey was putting the gun back together, Rhoda heard a popping sound and felt something pass by her very quickly. When she looked up, Hailey’s eyes were wide with shock. She had nearly missed tranquilizing Rhoda and had hit an apple on the counter. Rhoda decided to leave it in so she would remember not to eat that one.

“Let’s figure out how to put the safety on,” Rhoda suggested.

That turned out to be simple. Soon, they loaded another dart, and got it into the gun without firing it again. They were finally ready for the hunt.

Rhoda tried first but missed by a mile. When they couldn’t find the dart, they decided to let a confused paleontologist find it in the future – they had more darts. They filled them all up this time so they wouldn’t have to stop and refill.

Hailey took the next shot and missed too, but not by so much. The nemies scattered, but quickly resumed their places in the trees. The next shot hit one. It squawked loudly as it flew up to a higher branch. It hopped around angrily for a few minutes while the dart flopped, but eventually began to sway dangerously.

“It’s gonna fall!” Hailey shouted.

Rhoda ran to catch it, and, by some miracle, she did. She pulled the dart out and checked the nemicolopterus over. Its skin was green and had a leafy pattern. Its long, pointed beak looked like it was used to dig for insects. It had small arms that extended halfway up its short wings. There was one extra-long finger that extended to the end of the wing. This allowed the nemi to control the shape of the wing and to fold it up when not in use. At the moment, the whole thing was limp.

Knowing she wasn’t likely to catch any more of them if they fell, Rhoda decided to try something else. They spread Hailey’s velociraptor nets out under the trees before they resumed the hunt. Hailey was able to hit five more nemies before they lost all their darts. That seemed like a good breeding stock.

They hadn’t planned ahead and weren’t sure where to put their catches, but decided to empty out the crate that the gun and nets were in. Hailey drilled a couple of holes in the top, then wrapped the nets around it to keep it secure.

“OK, I’m done with the Cretaceous,” Rhoda said happily. “I’ve got a phone full of pictures and some new pets. This has gone as well as I could imagine, all things considered.”

While the pair flew back to the location that was not yet Salem Massachusetts, the nemies woke up, but they refused to eat anything Rhoda offered them. Being a notoriously bad pet owner, Rhoda was worried that she would inadvertently kill them. The trip to 1692 would take hours and they probably needed nourishment to recover from being sedated, so Rhoda went outside to collect bugs before they left. She dug under rocks and logs, the way she used to when her dad would take her fishing, and deposited all the insects she could find into a cup. She had gathered a decent collection of prehistoric beetles and cockroaches when she heard Hailey yelling from inside the time machine. Naturally, she opened the door to see what was going on. Four of the nemies flew out the door. Two were left inside. Hailey had one pinned down while the other was flying around and harassing her. Rhoda stepped quickly inside, shutting the door behind her.

“The little turds pried the crate open and chewed through the net,” Hailey exclaimed.

“I got this,” Rhoda told her.

She grabbed bottle of tranquilizer from a cupboard near the door. She dripped some of it onto the bugs and sat the cup on the floor. She and Hailey then retreated into the cabin to wait. It only took a few minutes for the nemies to discover the insect a few minutes more to pass out on the floor of the time machine. This time, Hailey nailed the crate shut.

“This is the worst thing we’ve done yet,” Rhoda bemoaned. “Now we’ve introduced the nemicolopterus into North America and they’ll probably destroy the ecosystem!”

Hailey just shrugged her shoulders. “We should be fine though,” she said flippantly, “Humans didn’t evolve on this continent.”

That was strangely comforting.

“What’s that there?” Hailey said as she hit the brakes.

Rhoda looked up where Hailey was pointing and saw small shapes in the trees, but it was hard to make them out from this distance. Using her binoculars, she could see that it was what they had come fore. It was her favorite pterosaur – the nemicolopterus.

“That’s it, Hailey. It’s a whole flock of nemies!”

She handed the binoculars to Hailey, who said, “Awww. They’re actually kind of cute. They’re so tiny.”

“Their wingspan is about ten inches, – smallest pterosaur we know of.”

“We have to take some home!” Hailey said.

That struck Rhoda as suspicious. “Why would we do that?” she asked.

“It’s a cute little dinosaur you could fit in your purse. Think of the money we could make!”

Rhoda sighed in relief. For some reason, she never trusted Hailey if they had the same thought but knowing that their motivations were different made her feel better.

“One problem,” Rhoda said. “How do we catch them?” Even though she had dreamed of having a nemicolopterus since she was a little girl, she hadn’t made any plans to catch one. It had seemed like a dumb idea until Hailey suggested it. It was weird how often that happened.

Hailey grinned and nodded towards the back of the vehicle.

“There’s a tranquilizer gun at the bottom of that crate you were sitting on. There are some nets too, but they might not be helpful. I had bigger things in mind, like velociraptors. I figured I’d bring that stuff in case we got crazy ideas while we were here.”

Another Hailey secret. If the need hadn’t arisen, Rhoda would never have known about the gun. That girl was ridiculous.

“You know, velociraptors aren’t big either. The movies are inaccurate.”

“And you know I don’t care. Let’s bag us some nemies!”

Neither Rhoda nor Hailey had much of an idea how to use a tranquilizer gun. The first obstacle was loading the darts with the sedative. They were complicated little tubes with two chambers and what looked like a pink pom-pom hanging off the back. After half an hour of trying to figure out how to do it, they resorted to the instruction manual. That took another half hour of interpretation, but the end product was a loaded dart.

The next step was to load it into the gun. It looked like a pistol, but neither of them had ever held a pistol, so that didn’t give them any clues. They knew enough to not try to load it directly into the barrel, so they messed around with the back until they managed to get it to open and flip off to the side. As Hailey was putting the gun back together, Rhoda heard a popping sound and felt something pass by her very quickly. When she looked up, Hailey’s eyes were wide with shock. She had nearly missed tranquilizing Rhoda and had hit an apple on the counter. Rhoda decided to leave it in so she would remember not to eat that one.

“Let’s figure out how to put the safety on,” Rhoda suggested.

That turned out to be simple. Soon, they loaded another dart, and got it into the gun without firing it again. They were finally ready for the hunt.

Rhoda tried first but missed by a mile. When they couldn’t find the dart, they decided to let a confused paleontologist find it in the future – they had more darts. They filled them all up this time so they wouldn’t have to stop and refill.

Hailey took the next shot and missed too, but not by so much. The nemies scattered, but quickly resumed their places in the trees. The next shot hit one. It squawked loudly as it flew up to a higher branch. It hopped around angrily for a few minutes while the dart flopped, but eventually began to sway dangerously.

“It’s gonna fall!” Hailey shouted.

Rhoda ran to catch it, and, by some miracle, she did. She pulled the dart out and checked the nemicolopterus over. Its skin was green and had a leafy pattern. Its long, pointed beak looked like it was used to dig for insects. It had small arms that extended halfway up its short wings. There was one extra-long finger that extended to the end of the wing. This allowed the nemi to control the shape of the wing and to fold it up when not in use. At the moment, the whole thing was limp.

Knowing she wasn’t likely to catch any more of them if they fell, Rhoda decided to try something else. They spread Hailey’s velociraptor nets out under the trees before they resumed the hunt. Hailey was able to hit five more nemies before they lost all their darts.

They hadn’t planned ahead and weren’t sure where to put their catches, but decided to empty out the crate that the gun and nets were in. Hailey drilled a couple of holes in the top wrapped the nets around it to keep it secure.

“OK, I’m done with the Cretaceous,” Rhoda said happily. “I’ve got a phone full of pictures and some new pets. This has gone as well as I could imagine, all things considered.”

While the pair flew back to the location that was not yet Salem Massachusetts, the nemies woke up, but they refused to eat anything Rhoda offered them. Being a notoriously bad pet owner, Rhoda was worried that she would inadvertently kill them. The trip to 1692 would take hours and they probably needed nourishment to recover from being sedated, so Rhoda went outside to collect bugs before they left. She dug under rocks and logs, the way she used to when her dad would take her fishing and deposited all the insects she could find into a cup. She had gathered a decent collection of prehistoric beetles and cockroaches when she heard Hailey yelling from inside the time machine. Naturally, she opened the door to see what was going on. Four of the nemies flew out the door. Two were left inside. Hailey had one pinned down while the other was flying around and harassing her. Rhoda stepped quickly inside, shutting the door behind her.

“The little turds pried the crate open and chewed through the net,” Hailey exclaimed.

“I got this,” Rhoda told her.

She grabbed bottle of tranquilizer from a cupboard near the door. She dripped some of it onto the bugs and sat the cup on the floor. She and Hailey then retreated into the cabin to wait. It only took a few minutes for the nemies to discover the insect a few minutes more to passed out on the floor of the time machine. This time, Hailey nailed the crate shut.

“This is the worst thing we’ve done yet,” Rhoda bemoaned. “Now we’ve introduced the nemicolopterus into North America and they’ll probably destroy the ecosystem!”

Hailey just shrugged her shoulders. “We should be fine though,” she said flippantly, “Humans didn’t evolve on this continent.”

That was strangely comforting.

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