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Forward to a Better Future is the big banner behind the speaker’s platform. There is nothing subliminal about it, nothing hidden. The message is being driven home loud and no one is going to miss it. And, anyway, as they think, only a fool would contest it. We would, Heavy Tail and I, but, as I say, we keep our mouths shut. I mean, some places are getting hotter, okay I understand that, and some are getting dryer, and some are getting wetter, and some of the white lands are melting. But why any dino should want to hold on to the cold places, I don’t know. A simple look around and I can see that most of us are not designed for cold. Warm, wet, and green will suit us better. And I guess that maybe, just maybe, things have changed before, that we were made in other times, that we have come through other times. Our old croc tales tell of altered lands, of the great swamps and waterways drying and flooding again. And we have tales of land moving and being lost and of new land found. So maybe the weather comes and goes like the running four-legged creatures? I mean, that it isn’t spread out nice and even like dinos would prefer it. Maybe hot and cold comes in clumps and bumps and we just got to go with it. Who knows? But dinos want things the way they want them, like just so, like the way they were recently, like normal, like the way things are inside their heads, because that’s the way they know them, because that’s the pattern they live by. But maybe hotter and wetter is better? Who knows?
One early speaker to the gathering is the Great Spirospine from the Northern Shores, a king amongst dinos. “Our marshes and swamps are disappearing,” he says. “Our rivers are shrinking. We are drying up. And so we are forced to wander to the central territories and into the hunting grounds of the Great Sharp-Toothed Broad-Jaw. The only thing guaranteed is war.”
Like sudden rain, a cold silence falls on the gathering. No one can imagine a war between the two greats. And so the tone is set for the rest of the week. One dissenter does emerge on day four — a wide-flange dino who shouts the whole idea down. But it soon comes out that he is intoxicated, having over-indulged on yellow-leaf syrup, an unfortunate affliction common amongst the wide-flanged.
Such is the huge degree of consensus, that the second half of the week is spent on the wording of the agreement. And it is the titling of such that gives the only dispute of the symposium, with some wanting to call it an agreement, and others wanting to call it a protocol. When the Great Spirospine comes down on the side of the former, and the Great Sharp-Toothed Broad-Jaw wants the latter, unease drifts through the gathering. But it is quickly tempered, so keen are the multitude on the togetherness of it. A compromise is reached and the GDS100 Land Protection Accord is voted through unopposed. A new council is elected for immediate action. It is called The Ad Hoc Working Group For The Dino Platform For Enhanced Action On Land Protection, AHWGFTDPFEAOLP for short.
A press conference is called and we two crocs slip to the side again for another smoke. Heavy Tail leans against a tall rough-bark and lights one of his favourite longs. I sit over a fallen trunk, swishing my tail behind me, as I roll a short.
“What the...?” Heavy Tail says, suddenly rigid and staring into the sky. “Oh croc, what is that?”
I turn and see a fireball attack through the air. It expands and roars as it approaches, like the sound of some huge tree collapsing through the forest, like the sound of the biggest tallest angriest tree with the longest loudest collapse in the thickest forest.
“What is that?” Heavy Tail shouts, now panicked, as the fireball plunges down on us.
Louder and louder it roars. And it’s so close. Flash! White light! Bang! Moving ground! And hot! So hot!
“Oh croc,” I say. “We’re toast.”