For the Adherent of Pop Culture
Adventures of Jack Burton ] Battlestar Galactica ] Buckaroo Banzai ] Cliffhangers! ] Earth 2 ] The Expendables ] Firefly/Serenity ] Galaxy Quest ] Jurassic Park ] Land of the Lost ] Lost in Space ] The Mummy/The Scorpion King ] The Prisoner ] Snake Plissken Chronicles ] Star Trek ] Terminator ] The Thing ] Total Recall ] Tron ] Twin Peaks ] UFO ] V the series ] Valley of the Dinosaurs ] PopApostle Home ] Links ] Privacy ]

Land of the Lost links:
Pylon Express | The Portal | Library of Skulls | Fan Fiction | LOTL Movie News

 

Extraordinary Purposes

by

Robert Porter
sleestak2@juno.com
and
Marc C.
crambam@aol.com

 

Little did anyone realize what had really happened that night. The little ball of fur that was born in the tired, wooden compound deep in the jungle would go on to shape the history of the Pakuni. Thus was born Cha-ka, child of Ta and Sa.
   He was an ordinary Paku infant. Like his parents, his parents' parents, and generations before him, he had to be taught the basics of life: how to speak, eat, behave and keep clean hygiene. But as Cha-ka began to discover the universe around him, Ta realized that the tiny Paku was brighter than most. The child was naturally aware of how things functioned. He knew how to ask the right questions. He knew how to figure out things far past other Pakuni his age. In short, Ta realized that he was an extraordinary Paku.

Ta was irritated, ashamed and even a little frightened of Cha-ka. The other Pakuni in their clan began to realize his intelligence as well. They whispered behind his back about the furry toddler who could sometimes outsmart his own father. It was embarrassing to Ta. He was supposed to an Alpha Paku in their community and he held several positions of power, including medicine, wood cutting, and crystal knowledge. It wouldn't do to have his own child challenging his authority, especially in front of the others. So they moved away.

When Cha-ka was nearly three years old, Ta moved Cha-ka and Sa to an isolated compound he had built far into the jungle. It was nearer to the Sleestak caves than the Pakuni generally could tolerate, but most of the time they were left in peace. After that, Cha-ka rarely saw the other Pakuni because Ta kept him intentionally isolated from most of the community.

Life under Ta's rule was harsh. Some days Ta seemed incredibly proud of Cha-ka and encouraged him to pursue knowledge--especially if such knowledge could benefit Ta. But more often than not, Ta was a tyrant who lorded his superiority over Sa and Cha-ka by commanding them in every move they could make. Sometimes he would beat them for reasons that Cha-ka rarely understood. Ta's moods would change radically and instantaneously, like when he encouraged Cha-ka in drawing elaborate geometric shapes and designs in the ground with a stick, then took great pleasure in personally destroying those same drawings. Then, for good measure, Ta beat him with his own drawing stick. Cha-ka was afraid of Ta. But being a child, he was dependant on Ta for survival.

He knew no other way of life.

Soon, though, things changed. They were no longer alone in the jungle and Ta's superiority was challenged when the humani, or humans as they called themselves, came into their world. Marshall, Will and Holly dropped into Cha-ka's world from a far off place and quickly befriended him. In fact, the humans even saved Cha-ka's life in their first meeting.

There had been a few tense moments between his Pakuni parents and the humans, but eventually they reached an undeclared truce and learned to tentatively share their universe.

Ta saw an advantage in his association with the humans in that he was able to acquire many wondrous things from them. He also tolerated Cha-ka's relationship with them for reasons Cha-ka never understood. And with the arrival of the humans, the beatings from Ta inexplicably stopped. Cha-ka thought it might have to do with the adult human now being the Alpha male in the jungle, but he was unsure. Rick Marshall almost never displayed his dominance over the Pakuni, instead treating them as near equals. It all left Cha-ka very confused with how the world worked, but life was much nicer with this new arrangement.

They shared many adventures together. Cha-ka learned many skills, including painting, how to get baby brontosaurs out of black tar, and even how to properly model a dress. He was also one of the first Pakuni to enter the Sleestak caves and come back alive. In fact, through his association with the humans, Cha-ka learned much about the Sleestak that his people had never understood. He even met Enik, the intelligent Altrusian ancestor of the Sleestak, trapped in the Land of the Lost just like the Marshalls The Sleestak were dangerous, to be sure, but not nearly as mysterious as they had once been. He was grateful to the humans for the way they touched his life. They brought him knowledge. And with his growing knowledge, he craved more.

Then a life-altering event occurred. At the time he didn't realize its significance, but it was a frightening adventure and what seemed like a subtle change had actually changed him to the core.

Cha-ka was with the humans when they decided to explore part of the Sleestak's Lost City . There, they found a doorway that led into the interior, but it was unlike the usual Sleestak caves. This one had smooth walls and all sorts of strange artifacts and sculpture around. Cha-ka found particular fascination with a table of colored lights that made pretty tones when different sections of the table were touched.

He was unsure of his playing with the table of colored lights had caused the frightening events that followed. Holly Marshall found a ring there that made her ill. A red jewel began burning in the sky and a burning man skulked around the jungle, hunting out for something that no one knew what. When the burning man encountered the humani, he would tell them that it was not their time and they would fall unconscious. Ta and Sa fled the burning man, leaving Cha-ka to protect his fallen human friends. While watching the humans, the burning man confronted him.

Cha-ka expected the same fate as the others and cringed in fear. He was surprised when the man's distant voice instructed him to present the ring that had caused Holly to fall ill. When he did as he was told, and the ring was taken, the burning man told him "it was his time." The burning man transformed into a small humani child.

* * * *

Curious, Cha-ka stepped forward to examine the Builder child. He looked familiar, but Cha-ka did not know from where. He whimpered in fear, but his curiosity compelled him forward to stand face to face with the child.

The child reached up and put his hand on Cha-ka's hand and they held them there, palm to palm. "It is time for you, Cha-ka," the child stated with a slight grin. Pulling his hand down away, the familiar yet unfamiliar humani child turned and walked away into the jungle.

Cha-ka was unsure of what to do. What did the humani child mean by saying it was his time? Time for what? Was he supposed to follow the child into the jungle?

The ring mysteriously appeared on Cha-ka's finger. He looked at it in shock and tried to fathom the meaning of it. He stepped forward and navigated the trees for a few moments to follow, but the child had vanished.

There was a popping sound and the burning red jewel in the sky was gone as well. Other than the unconscious Marshalls , everything had returned to normal. Returning to the others, Cha-ka found a bare spot on the ground and sat down to mull over what had just happened.

He stared at the ring. The facets glistened at him in red, sparkly colors. He turned it over and over on his finger, trying to determine its purpose and why the child should want him to wear it. Then...

A wash of emotion poured over him, although it was unlike any sensation he had ever experienced before. It was fear and joy and anger and pride and awe all rolled into one big ball of intensity.

For a brief moment in time, the knowledge of the universe lay before him and he knew everything that there was to know. He knew the source of the Land of the Lost's power. He knew the operation of the time doorways. He knew the origins of the Pakuni in the Land of the Lost. He knew why the Marshalls were here. He knew who the human child was and why he had come. It all lay before him to drink in and engorge his eternal curiosity.

And then it was gone. The sensation only lasted a second or two, but its intensity knocked him onto his back, as if a physical force had struck him in the chest.

Frightened, Cha-ka stood. What had the ring done to him? He felt the urge to cast it off, for fear that it could hurt him further. As he reached to remove it, he was startled to see that it was gone already.

Thinking maybe that it had slipped off his hand when the unknown sensation had hit him, he searched around the ground for it, but could not find it. He didn't try too hard to find it, being more pleased that it was simply gone. He wanted no part of these mysterious happenings. He wanted to return with Ta and Sa to the Pakuni compound and the life he knew. There, he knew his place in the universe and as long as he followed Ta's rule, life was simple and acceptable.

* * * *

Eventually, the others woke up on their own and everyone affected went back to their homes in relative silence, shaken by the experience, but also simply grateful that the unusual experience was over. Cha-ka was particularly quiet, brooding over his experiences and choosing not to share it with the others.

Everything continued to run around in his mind. Something had happened to him and he didn't know what it was. He had strange, unusual thoughts and images that rattled about behind his eyes, as if he had knowledge that was bursting to get out. He had knowledge there, but he couldn't find the key to unlock it. It was there on the edge of his brain, but it refused to surface, only teasing him with answers that would not quite appear.

Frustrated with this, he stole away from the Pakuni compound that night with the little recorder that he had used earlier in the day to entertain himself and annoy the Marshalls . Finding a calm, quiet corner of the jungle, he set about to play the recorder. He was amazed to find he was inexplicably able to play beautiful music with complex arrangements. It was a key that unlocked his mind's knowledge...

It turned out that Cha-ka's encounter with the Builder was more than just music. It was an epiphany. For a while, everything made sense. But just as quickly, most of it faded. He was left with more than he'd had before, but far less than those few moments of pure knowledge he had been given. From this, he developed a greater understanding of his world. And oddly, he suddenly found that he could speak the human language much easier. He wasn't perfect at it, but he could carry on a meaningful conversation with them in their native language without stumbling over words that one or the other couldn't understand.

Cha-ka was a bit bemused by the gift of human language he'd been given, but it shortly all became clear to him. A great earthquake shook the Land of the Lost, causing great destruction. A chasm in the ground separated him from the Pakuni, including his parents Ta and Sa. He was forced to live with the humans, where his newfound language skills came in handy. Maybe the Builders had anticipated this would happen, he thought. But what could it mean? Why had they singled out Cha-ka and given him this gift? Cha-ka didn't consider himself an important enough individual to warrant such attention. Still, he couldn't deny what he'd been given and learned to accept it.

The great earthquake brought more changes than just a separation from the Pakuni. Something had changed in their universe. The human father, Rick Marshall, returned to his world, in exchange for Will and Holly's uncle, Jack Marshall. Also, the quake opened up their world to many other dimensions. For the first time, there came a two-headed beast that terrorized the swamp. And a sail-backed, fire-breathing dinosaur now roamed the jungle. And all manner of strange people began wandering through their world, including Medusa, a man in a hot air balloon, a Cro-Magnon man, a man on a boat that floated in air, Zorro, a snow creature, and many, many more. Something very strange had occurred, causing the edges of their universe to crack open, letting other universes bleed into theirs.

Still, for all the weirdness, life was enjoyable. Cha-ka learned all sorts of new and exciting things and grew into a healthy teenage Paku. It was the last truly innocent and happy moment in his life. It all changed in mere minutes when his world came crashing down.

The day started off with a human ritual known as a birthday party. The humans were marking the passing of another year in the life of Holly. And once again, a great earthquake ravaged the Land of the Lost. Neither the humans nor Cha-ka were hurt, but the group lost their food and water supply. Cha-ka accompanied Holly in a quest to replenish their food reserves while the others stayed behind to repair what they could.

When the two returned, they were shocked to find that Will and Jack were gone. The two human men had disappeared without a trace. Cha-ka and Holly searched for days for any sign of them, but to no avail. Finally, Holly accepted the inevitable-- her family was gone for good, and all the human woman and the Paku had were each other.

Cha-ka had known the sadness of losing a family, but he was fortunate to find the Marshalls to live with and alleviate the loss. But despite having a common experience, Cha-ka could do nothing to make Holly feel better.

About a month later, Holly Marshall inexplicably vanished as well. He and Holly had done what they could to survive on their own, but the two of them now had much more work between them so they often spent their days alone, each out on independent tasks. So it was that Holly simply did not return home one night and he never saw her again. It was as if the Land of the Lost was conspiring against him to take away all those that were close to him.

Despondent and willing to search every corner of his small universe for Holly, he set out for her. His quest took him high up one of the larger mountains where he hoped to get a good view of the valley and plan his search.

About halfway up the mountain, Cha-ka came to a halt. He had found a previously unknown pylon that had been hidden from view in the mountain's jagged rocks.

Getting inside the pylon was simple, as he used the key that was naturally available above the doorway. Tentatively, Cha-ka entered. Though he never understood how the pylons worked, he somehow hoped that whatever was going through his head would help him find Holly or someone he knew, and he hoped that he would not have to live his life alone.

This was no ordinary pylon. There was the standard matrix table in the middle, but what appeared to be a dead time doorway was framed in stone with ornate Altrusian writing on its surface. And set in the top of the doorway frame was an imprint of a hand--a Pakuni hand.

Remembering the initial encounter with the Builders in the Lost City , Cha-ka decided to place his hand in the Pakuni imprint. As hoped, it was a perfect fit. The action caused the matrix table to flare up in intensity. He moved to the matrix table and watched the crystals flash in an incredible light show.

But in Cha-ka's mind, something went wrong. The air cracked so hard that it hurt Cha-ka's ears and a blast of wind caused his grip to be torn from the matrix table and he was thrown backwards onto the hard floor of the pylon. When he stood, he saw that the matrix table was gone and only a smoking stub was left where it had been.

And then Cha-ka met the greatest earthquake he had ever known.

The turmoil was so violent that Cha-ka was bounced about like a child's toy. It was all he could do to grab onto the stub of the destroyed matrix table and hang on for his life. The world was breaking apart around him. He was startled when the pylon cracked open overhead and blue sky spilled through into the interior. It all happened quickly and he was soon buried under rubble and debris from the destroyed pylon and the destroyed mountain.

When the shaking finally stopped, he crawled out from the debris. He had suffered bruises and scrapes all over himself, but other than that, the worst physical damage was a wrenched left shoulder.

The physical damage, however, was nothing compared to the psychological damage. Within a month he had lost the only family he had remaining to him, and he needed their knowledge and guidance to survive in this universe. For the first time ever in his life, he was completely and utterly alone with no one to turn to for guidance. He feared he did not have the knowledge to survive in this universe alone. The despair tore at his heart and he cried out in pain.

It was several minutes before he could pull himself together enough to begin assessing what had actually happened. He dug through the pylon debris, but could find nothing but broken shards of the golden pylon. Looking out toward the swamp, things looked vastly different. Now there were plains. Towards the Lost City was a pile of rocks. The Mist Marsh was jungle. The swamp was a vast lake. It was like the Land of the Lost had rearranged itself, forming a new structure. Cha-ka thought for a moment that maybe he did transport to a new land, but there were enough similarity to see that it was his land, only different.

He returned home to see what he could salvage. There, he found that their home at the edge of the Lost City was not just destroyed, but missing. Everywhere lay rubble that was similar to the Lost City , but different. He wished he could seek out Enik, but he had disappeared several years earlier as well.

There were no Sleestak about at all, leading him to think either they had either left the area or had been destroyed. He even tried finding the Zarn, but he was missing too. He did, however, encounter yet another new dinosaur that walked on all fours, had a tiny head, large plates running along its spine, and a spiked tail. Very unusual.

With no one else to turn to and nothing left for him here, he figured his best bet would be to find the Pakuni tribes he had lost a few years ago. Maybe this rearranged land would allow him to cross over to them now and he could find a new life with them. So Cha-ka pulled together some portable supplies for living off the land and set off across the Land of the Lost alone.

He traveled for many days. He didn't find the Pakuni, but he did find that this world was much different than it used to be. Before, the universe was much smaller. Now, he had traveled for several days and encountered all sorts of new and interesting things, rather than the usual "bounds" of the way things used to be.

And he was most startled when he encountered the Great Sea...

* * * *

Cha-ka walked out of the jungle into a most wondrous site. Beneath his feet was a fine, light colored sand. And before him was a great big body of water that stretched out as far as the eye could see. It reminded him of something the humans had once described. They called it... an ocean.

"Oh-she-un," he said out loud, as if the very speaking of it would give it reality. "Ocean. Ocean." He repeated it several times.

Never had he imagined there could be so much water! It was never ending! Excited and curious, he dropped his supplies where he stood and walked slowly toward it where it lapped up on the sand in gentle sways. Every few seconds, the water would wash up, soak the sand with wetness, then fade back in upon itself and Cha-ka stood at a respectful distance watching this. Tentatively he crept ever closer to where the water washed up upon the shore, nervous that if he let the water touch him, it might somehow draw him out into its depths. He could smell it as it gave off a peculiar, pungent odor-- a strange mix of clean, fresh air and rotting fish.

At last, he had crept forward enough to let the surging waters tickle his toes. The sand was soft and moist beneath his feet. Each time the water washed over them, he was tickled as the sand swirled out and around his feet with the water's sway, causing the wet sand to squish between his toes.

Squatting, he watched the sand and observed the flotsam that gently moved with the water. He enjoyed several calm, curious moments just watching the delicate dance of material under the gentle control of the waves.

He stuck his fist into the water as it again touched his feet and brought it up with a scoop of clear water in his palm. He drank it.

"Blech!" He spit it out in disgust! It was salty! It was then that he remembered how the Marshalls had told him that ocean water wasn't good for drinking. How could have not remembered?

Disgusted by the salty taste in his mouth, he moved back onto the shore to his supplies to get a drink of fresh water and to wash the ugly taste out of his mouth. He tried to remember what else the Marshalls had told him about the ocean. They said that it was very, very big and seemed to go on forever. However, it was so big that there was actually land on the other side that was so far away it could not be seen. Humans used boats or planes to go from land to land.

Cha-ka also knew that his Land of the Lost had changed. It was different now. Perhaps, he surmised, he had been unable to find the other Pakuni because they were on the far land on the other side of the ocean! He just needed to reach them! Only he didn't know how to make or use a boat or a plane. That was knowledge he didn't possess.

Or maybe, he figured, he could make a balloon, like the one that Colonel Post had flown. On second thought, that wasn't much of a positive experience for him, so maybe it wasn't the best...

There was a popping sound coming from somewhere far away, followed by a quiet but insistent whine. Cha-ka immediately recognized it. It was a sound he knew. Looking about the sky, he finally located the burning red jewel that floated far out over the ocean.

The Builder had returned.

Cha-ka grabbed his supplies and slung them over his shoulder, getting read to bolt. But he was unsure what he could do. He couldn't decide if running away was even possible. Last time he had encountered the Builder, it had chased him down, so how could he hope to escape? And how could he be sure it was even after him. Was it his time? His time had already come, so...

As he stood there in indecision, something in the ocean began to glow a deep red. Within seconds, a burning red man came slowly walking out of the water toward him.

Cha-ka darted into the jungle at the beach's edge and watched behind the cover of a tree as the form came dripping out of the water, sloshing through the sand where Cha-ka had been standing only moments before. His mind screamed at him, torn between abject fear of what harm the mysterious and unknown being might do to him, and curiosity over what the creature was and if it might help him in some strange sort of way like last time.

The Builder stopped in the middle of the beach and simply stood, watching him. It stood there for several uncomfortable seconds, doing nothing, before Cha-ka finally made a decision to confront the creature. He dropped his supplies behind the tree and stepped out onto the sand. "Cha-ka's time?" he asked tentatively.

The Builder raised his arm and pointed at him. "It is your time, Cha-ka," it said it its deep, reverberating voice.

Cha-ka stepped closer, but did so haltingly and in a crouch, ready to run in case the Builder tried something unexpected.

Lowering its arm, the shape of the Builder changed, as it had done before. When its transformation was complete, an Altrusian acquaintance replaced the burning red form. "Enik?" Cha-ka asked. "Is that you?"

The Altrusian stepped forward, but Cha-ka did not run. This was someone he knew, or so he thought. "No," the Altrusian said. "I am an Altrusian, but I am not Enik." The closer Cha-ka looked, the more he could tell there were differences. The clothes, in particular, were not Enik's standard tunic. The subtleties of the face were different. And the stance, body language, and voice were different, being somehow smoother that Enik's. Still, this mysterious Altrusian instilled trust and Cha-ka felt he had nothing to fear.

"Who--"

"My identity is not important," the Altrusian interrupted, having already read Cha-ka's thoughts. He followed that up with the answer to the next question he had read from Cha-ka's mind. "I am here because it is your time, Cha-ka."

"My time?" Cha-ka asked, confused. "For what, Cha-ka's time?"

"Time for you to take the next step. Time for you to move forward in the process."

"Pro-cess?" Cha-ka rolled the word around on his tongue, unsure of its meaning. "What is pro-cess?"

The Altrusian reached out and grasped Cha-ka's shoulder. "It is your time, Cha-ka. You will know soon enough." His voice was powerful, but gentle with compassion.

Still confused by what it all meant, Cha-ka stood dumbfounded as the Altrusian let his shoulder go, then turned and walked away into the jungle. Cha-ka watched him vanish behind the dark trees, still trying to fathom what he meant. Time for what? Was he to get new knowledge, like had happened before? Suddenly aware that the person with the answer to what he could expect was gone, Cha-ka started and called out, "Wait!" But it was too late.

Gentler than before but just as powerful, he was filled with the knowledge of the universe. He knew what had happened to the Land of the Lost to cause such great changes. He knew what had happened to the Marshalls . He knew where to find the other Pakuni. And most important, he knew what his own purpose was. All too soon, though, the knowledge faded. The nagging feeling that the answers were there at the edge of his brain seized him, but try as he might, he could no longer grasp the answers.

The burning red jewel in the sky popped out of existence and the whine that indicated its presence vanished as well. Once again, Cha-ka was alone. And still he was without answers.

* * * *

Knowing there was little else to do but journey to his destiny and try to determine what it meant for it to be his time, Cha-ka continued his journey as before. Rather than take the drastic step of trying to cross to a land-- if any-- across the ocean, he felt it best to explore his own land for the Pakuni first.

Along his journey, Cha-ka thought long and hard about what had happened to him. He was alone in the world. Although he had a gut feeling that the Pakuni were still out there waiting to be found, he had no idea when or if it would ever happen. The fact that nearly half of his life had been spent without other Pakuni had robbed him of the social and spiritual upbringing that came with being raised in a Pakuni society. He had taken some of the steps to achieve manhood, but had been unable to traverse the standard Pakuni traditions to becoming a man.

Although Cha-ka had not done these things, he felt that he had done more than his fair share of growing these past few years. He had endured much more than the rigors of the usual manhood rites and felt justified in declaring himself now a man. As such, he decided to drop the child prefix, "Cha", from his name. He would no longer be Cha-ka. He would now be known as simply Ka.

So it was that Ka wandered the Land of the Lost in search of the Pakuni for several months. He struggled during this time to fathom the knowledge or powers that the Builder had given to him. He fashioned a new recorder from bamboo chutes he'd located in the jungle and played it for his own amusement while he traversed the land, but couldn't determine if his music skills had improved any. He didn't feel any different. So he didn't know what it was.

Until one day he encountered the tyrannosaurus, Grumpy. First of all, Ka noted that Grumpy had changed in this new Land of the Lost as well. No longer was he the smooth skinned, lumpy dinosaur. He had developed a rough, scaly hide. Gone were the peg-like teeth, replaced by a row of razor edge canines. And his movements were now less clunky and more supple and smooth. Ka only recognized the great beast from the scar on his face, which Grumpy had received right around the time Will and Jack disappeared. His appearance was much more horrific than it had been in the past.

However, Ka was not afraid. First of all, he had been playing his recorder when the dinosaur approached. And instead of approaching in a threatening manner, it was as if the dinosaur were being hypnotized by the music. It shook its head several times to try to shake off the effects, but it could not resist the siren-like call of Ka's music.

Second, a sense of calm and ease pervaded Ka as the tyrannosaur approached him. He simply did not feel fear, regardless of the creature's deadly abilities. He was in control.

Using the recorder's music, Ka directed the dinosaur away and he was not bothered any further. That was when it dawned on Ka what the Builder had given him. He not only had the ability to control the dinosaurs with his music, he had a newfound maturity. He was indeed no longer the child Cha-ka. He was the adult, Ka. He had matured.

In time, Ka found the Pakuni. Following the earthquake that had separated them long ago, the Pakuni had found a nice place near a fresh water spring and had set up a new community. Ta and Sa were there, and greeted Ka with both fear and joy. They appeared genuinely glad to see him, however, old Ta hadn't shaken his old resentment at Ka's apparent intelligence.

More so, the community seemed to idolize Ka. He was clearly more intelligent and brave than any other in the community. Ka was quickly given a position of power in the clan, a fact which bothered Ta tremendously. However, Ta was also attaching himself to Ka in order to leech off the rewards of his power and prestige. Ka tolerated Ta's presence, but made it very clear that he was there only at Ka's benevolence. It kept Ta in order.

Ka brought to the community many new skills and concepts. He taught them farming skills, such as irrigation and planting. He taught them engineering skills so that they could build better homes and equipment. And he taught them better ways to defend themselves against the dangers of the Land of the Lost's creatures, although all that seemed to be in evidence anymore were the dinosaurs. Gone were the Sleestak, the Zarn and all the other inhabitants of the land.

Having such a prestigious position, Ka easily had the pick of the Pakuni women in the clan. Everyone expected him to take Sha as his wife as she was clearly the prettiest Pakuni female of them all. But Ka was more discerning than that. He chose Ra as his wife. Although not as pretty as Sha, Ra was pleasing to look upon and more importantly, she had both intelligence and maturity-- features that Sha did not possess.

Ka and Ra soon married and started a family, with Ka running the community as a benevolent ruler. It was a good life for them. They suffered the normal rigors of life, but they always had plenty of food to eat and everyone was happy to contribute to the greater good of the community. They faced death, but usually by old age or disease and rarely by any violent means. They're biggest worries were controlling the population growth of a very prosperous society.

Many happy years later, Ka and Ra's second oldest son, Priya grew into adulthood and took his own wife, La. Soon they brought Ka his greatest joy in life, his grandson. Shortly after the birth, Ka and Ra were brought into the birthing room to see the newborn Paku.

Priya asked his father to name the child, much to Ka's surprise. It was then that he decided that it was best to move away from the old Pakuni traditions as they were from another time and another age. He wanted to move the Pakuni into another direction, no longer dependent upon the ancient rights of manhood and harsh existence. Life was much different now. Thus, he broke with ages of tradition and gave his new grandson a non-Pakuni name without using the child prefix of "Cha". He named his new grandson after a Human word. Thus was named his grandchild, Stink.

Many more grandchildren were to come and Ka delighted in all of them. Stink, Silly, Rick and Holly were constantly getting underfoot and causing mischief, but he never tired of them. He got great joy out of telling them stories of his adventures with the Marshalls, the Sleestak, Zarn, Enik, Malak and many more. The children loved to hear him speak of it and listened with wide-eyed wonderment to their Opah's tales of grand adventure.

Ka, however, didn't tell them the stories of his encounters with the Builders. They were so deeply personal and had had such an impact on his life that he decided it was best to keep that private. And it was so long ago that at times he wondered if it was real or imagined. Was it all some fantasy he had imagined in order to give himself inspiration when it was needed? Since finding the Pakuni many years ago, life had been exceptionally good, meaning that his need for the Builder inspirations was no longer necessary. He began to think of the experiences as his own mental way of dealing with stress during his youth.

* * * *

Ka was tending his small garden of smilax roots when La, Priya's wife and Ka's daughter-in-law, came running up to him with fear in her eyes. "Opah," she cried. "Come!" She grabbed at his arm, lifting him up from his squatting position.

"La? What is the matter?" Ka brushed the dirt from his hands and walked with La as she urgently led him out of the garden and toward the path to the Pakuni compound.

"Priya! And Stink! They are hurt!"

"Hurt?" Ka increased his pace as best he could, his concern for his family driving him. "What hurt them?"

"Burning man enter compound. Point at many Pakuni, speak to Pakuni, and they fell down. It--"

Alarmed at the sound of this, Ka stopped and grabbed at La's arm, stopping her. "A burning man, you say? He spoke to them before they fall?"

"Yes."

"What did burning man say?"

"It say: 'It is not your time.' Then they fall down."

Ka knew this. He looked into the sky and located the burning red jewel. He could also hear the whine that accompanied it. He had failed to hear it before because his declining hearing had muffled the sound. He knew now that the Builder had returned. The only question was, was the Builder here for him or someone else? "La," he told her, "stay here. Do not go into Pakuni compound."

"But--"

"No. I will confront the burning man. I know it. I have seen it before, long ago."

Comforted by his words, La conceded and nodded her acceptance. Ka ran as fast as his old body would allow him toward the compound and the Builder from long ago.

He didn't have far to go. The burning man met him in the jungle between the compound and La. It looked like indeed the Builder was after him this time. Both of them stopped and stood before each other. "What is it to be this time?" Ka asked calmly, but with a definite edge of challenge in his voice.

As before, the burning man's shape transformed into a real live flesh and blood being. He was an elder, portly human with a warm twinkle in his eye and a thick mustache. He wore a brown tweed suit and carried an umbrella and a small briefcase. "Ka know you," Ka told him.

"Ah, quite right," the man said. "Yes, it has been quite a while. I'm pleased to see that you remember me after all this time." He had a gentle and friendly accent in his words, not like the Marshalls . He proceeded to put his briefcase on the ground, popped open the latch, and pulled something out to present it to Ka. "I brought you a gift."

From out of nowhere, a disembodied child's voice from long ago could be heard saying, "Cha-ka like shake!"

Ka took the milkshake from the man, tasted it, and then looked up in wonder. "Blandings. Your name Blandings."

"Quite right, old chap." He paused and eyed Ka curiously. "And I do mean old, eh? You've grown quite a bit since last time we saw each other. Uh, no offense intended, of course."

Ka noted that Blandings didn't appear to have aged at all since his childhood, although that didn't particularly surprise him. The Builders certainly had control of the time doorways, and likely the space time continuum itself. Who knew if the Builders ever aged at all? Ignoring the milkshake, Ka asked, "Why are you here?"

Blandings' expression turned from joviality to seriousness. "Because it is your time, Ka."

Throwing down the milkshake in anger, the milk and ice cream poured out onto the forest floor. "What that mean? Ka's time?"

"It means that you are to move to the next stage."

"What happening to me? Why you not tell Ka about Ka's time! Ka demands that Blandings tell Ka. What is process?"

Blandings sighed. He seemed genuinely saddened by what he was doing. "I wish I could tell you. However, you'll just have to accept that there are some rather significant changes coming to your life and the lives of your people." He bent over and lifted the now empty milkshake glass from the ground. While continuing to talk, he put the glass back into his briefcase. "I am truly sorry, Ka. Please do be careful. There are some very dangerous times ahead. Proceed with caution."

Feeling helpless, Ka stood motionless as Blandings stepped forward and touched his shoulder. As before, a wave of knowledge washed over him and he was once again filled with the knowledge of the universe. He knew the inner workings of the Builders' scheme. He knew it all. And worst of all, he knew the horrors that were coming for himself and his people. The knowledge tore at his heart, causing him to squeeze shut his eyes and fight the tears that welled up in them.

When the wave of universal knowledge finally subsided, he simply stood where he was, numb at the emotions that had touched him and the feeling of impending doom that he felt. The knowledge of the horrors was already faded from memory, but the emotions that accompanied them remained as if a fading dream. It was several minutes before he realized that he was now alone in the jungle.

Turning around the jungle, Ka searched for Blandings, but he was already gone. He looked up at the sky and the burning red jewel was gone as well. Looking down, he saw that the scattered and melted ice cream was still there. It and his raw emotions were the only evidence remaining that he had had yet another Builder experience.

* * * *

Following the Builder visit, the Pakuni that had been rendered unconscious returned to normal. They all looked to Ka for information on what had happened to them, but he refused to tell. He was left in a dark mood for the experience and the brooding sense of dread that hung over the Pakuni community was affecting them all.

Ka wondered what it meant. He didn't feel any different for this experience. Had the Builder given him the gift of intelligence or power or something else had yet to discover? Or was it simply a warning about times to come. He strained his brain for an answer, but could not fathom what it could be. Meanwhile, he couldn't shake the feeling of doom.

Within a week, the danger he had been warned of manifested itself. The Sleestak returned and they returned with a fury and viciousness that they had not previously possessed. Long ago when the great earthquake occurred and Cha-ka first found himself alone, the Sleestak had not vanished along with all the others. They had been driven further underground after their caves had been destroyed.

Like the dinosaurs, the Sleestak had also changed. Rather than the bug eyed, single horned creatures of the past, they were now much more bony in structure, with a crest of horns along their faces and a wide, toothy mouth. Worst of all, they had increased in intelligence, learning how to use tools and manipulate the power of the crystals. They also re-discovered their long dormant Altrusian mind control abilities.

The Sleestak burst from their underground caverns and attacked the Pakuni compound. The idyllic life of Ka and the Pakuni was destroyed when this happened and it was clear that this is what Blandings the Builder had warned him about. The Sleestak killed many Pakuni, including Ka's wife, Ra, and his daughter-in-law, La, before they were subdued. They used threats, intimidation, beatings, and mind control to enslave the Pakuni and used them to mine for crystals around the Land of the Lost.

The Empire of the Sleestak was built upon the backs of the Pakuni.

Ka knew the destiny for which he was meant. He would lead the revolt that would defeat the Sleestak and destroy their empire. But it wasn't easy. The Pakuni had been scattered throughout the land and many had either died during the initial attack or were simply never seen again. Ka lost three of his own children during the enslavement, including Priya. He lost several of his grandchildren, including Silly and Holly. Stink and Rick had been taken away to work underground and for a long time he had feared they were lost as well.

Outwitting the Sleestak and escaping his own enslavement, Ka met up with other escaped Pakuni slaves. They became organized and led several raids against the Sleestak encampments and caves. The Sleestak knew how to use the crystals only as a source of power and to enhance their mental control abilities, but Ka knew that they were so much more. He was able to use them as bombs, forcefields, and best of all, to counteract the influence of the Sleestak's crystals.

The Sleestak and Pakuni battle raged for nearly a year and finally culminated when Ka used his recorder's music to entice the Land of the Lost's tyrannosaurus to lead an attack on the Sleestak headquarters. Many lives were lost, but the Sleestak were eventually defeated and driven back underground.

The Pakuni had won. But the price was high. The Pakuni community was scattered throughout the land. With time, though, they eventually came together again for protection. Ka was pleased to find that Stink and Rick had survived, although Rick had suffered a broken arm that never quite healed properly and left him crippled for life. Stink, thankfully, escaped unharmed.

Many were fearful of a return of the Sleestak and another invasion, so the community moved far, far away from their old homeland and settled elsewhere.

Ka, feeling saddened and put out by the experience, left the community and struck out in search of his identity. Young Stink traveled with him for a time as they explored the land, finding all sorts of interesting things. Stink was infinitely curious, which led to him getting in trouble too often.

Eventually, they discovered a human girl alone in the jungle, who was too young to properly care for herself. Her name was Christa, although she couldn't remember much else about her family. Thinking of his life with the Marshall family, Ka taught her the basic skills for survival, gave her his bow and arrow, and left her with Stink in the jungle, using a simple cave as their home. Stink and Christa would take care of one another, he knew. It would give them both a chance to learn to survive on their own. Ka still felt that his destiny was elsewhere, and he again struck out on his own.

On his own, he not only searched the jungle, but he searched himself. What was the purpose of the Builders? Why did they approach him over three key events in his life? What plans did they have for him? He struggled with these answers for many more years as his travels took him all over the Land of the Lost.

He retraced the steps that life had taken him. He revisited the Pakuni compound where he had ruled a benevolent society for most of his life. Little was left of what it used to be, much of it overgrown with vegetation or covered over by Sleestak monstrosities. He revisited the beach where he had encountered the Altrusian Builder, but there was nothing there to see except great expanses of sand and water.

Finally he ended up back near the Lost City and the old home he had shared with the Marshalls . Everything had changed so much that he almost didn't recognize it. He dug through the rubble for any scrap of his youth, but other than a few unrecognizable bits of pottery and Altrusian carvings, nothing was to be found.

He searched for and found the ancient pylon near the geysers, with the burned over door. It had significance for him, although he knew not why. He put his hand on its old, scarred surface and was reminded of an old, fleeting memory and adventure with the fire-breathing dinosaur they called Torchy. Could Torchy have been the one to burn the pylon? He didn't remember that happening before.

Then Ka sought out what he considered to be the end of his journey back through his past. He wandered back and forth across the jungle in search of the old Pakuni compound where he grew up with Ta and Sa. The memories were so fuzzy that at times he thought he'd found it, only to begin doubting himself and trying to prove it with various markers he could or could not find. At last, he located it. It was overgrown and vastly different. He was able to trace the patterned rocks in the ground that lined the edges of the compound. He had found his ancient home.

He set up camp and slept there for many nights, working over the memories of his past. He still questioned what purpose the Builders had had for him. He'd worked that question over and over in his mind, but had been unable to figure an answer. Instead, he considered the incredible journey through which life had taken him. Unlike any other Paku in history, he had conquered his fear of the Sleestak. He had befriended humans. He had learned to survive on his own. He had seen a beach. He had learned to control the dinosaurs. He had found his people and led them to a strong, prosperous society. And he had fought a war with the Sleestak and won. Now, he was ending life's journey.

Maybe all of the above was his purpose in life. He was placed here in the Land of the Lost to lead his people to greatness and to defeat the evils that lurked in the land. And along the way, through both great joy and great pain, he had succeeded. He had accomplished something meaningful and touched many lives.

He found solace in having had a purposeful journey in life.

Still, he couldn't figure where the Builders fit it. Where did they fit in the grand scheme that had been his life? He didn't know.

Remembering an old, faded memory from childhood, Ka wandered around the compound until he found his old bedding ground. He used to have a hiding place here among the rocks where he hid things of value that he wanted to keep from Ta. Finding the old stash, he pushed aside the stones until...

Nothing of value was left, only some old, dead crystals having long ago lost their power because he had improperly mixed them and some shaped rocks that he had fancied for reasons only his child mind comprehended. One tangible item remained, however. It was an old red and white cloth. It was tattered, thin, and faded, but it was the cloth that the Marshalls had used to splint his leg long ago when he had first met them. It was the only tangible link to his past that he would take with him on the rest of his journey, wherever that might lead him.

Ka only stayed there a few more days after that. Having revisited his past and exorcising any demons that may have haunted him from back then, he had made peace with his life. Carefully packing the cloth from the Marshalls into his supplies, he left.

He wasn't entirely sure where he should go, but first decided to locate Stink and Christa and see if they were getting along. Maybe he could give Stink something... a legacy of sorts. He felt the need to pass something physical on to his grandchildren, providing them a link to their past.

After a long journey, Ka did find Stink and Christa. They had fallen in with another human family, the Porters, who had come into the Land of the Lost from their human world. It reminded him much of himself and his journey with the Marshalls in the past. He decided to stay for a few days to ensure everything would be okay.

They had a bit of an adventure when Stink and Kevin Porter, in their youthful exuberance, had tried to play a practical joke on him that had nearly gone horribly wrong. They hid his recorder that he used to control the dinosaurs while he was sleeping, when the tyrannosaurus (whom they called Scarface because of the great scar across his eye) attacked them. It had nearly been their undoing until the recorder could be found and Scarface put back under control. It had been a valuable lesson not only for Stink, but for Kevin Porter as well.

Ka knew Stink would be okay with these humans. He had a long, life journey ahead of him and Ka wondered where it would lead him, but he felt confident it would be a good one. Stink, for all his silliness and curiosity, was a good Paku. He would do well for himself. He said his goodbyes and left Stink his recorder, not only as a reminder of himself, but also as a reminder to be careful when pulling practical jokes on others.

Setting out again, Ka was unsure where to go next. He knew he had limited time left in this world. Soon, though, he found that the adventure was not quite over yet...

* * * *

Ka spotted some crystals near a pteranodon's nest and thought to check them for power. For reasons unknown, the crystals in this part of the Land of the Lost were of weak or questionable value. Most of them were of the white or green variety and did nothing more than enhance power.

As he started his climb up the slope to where he had seen the crystals, out of the corner of his eye he spotted the burning red jewel in the sky. Immediately he listened and he could hear the jewel's whine.

The Builders had returned.

He couldn't be sure if they were coming for him this time, but he also knew there was no use fighting it if they were. Besides, he was curious about what they would want with him this late in his life when he was so near the end of it. What useful purpose could he possibly serve to them now? So he simply stopped his climb up the slope, put down his supplies, sat, and waited to see what would happen.

Very soon he saw the burning red man approaching him from out of the jungle. He stood and went to meet it. As they met, Ka croaked a 'hello', feeling neither fear nor anger nor joy. He was simply curious, with a sense of calmness mixed in as well.

The shape of the burning red man transformed as before. This time it became a beautiful, young human female, with long blonde hair and wearing a long, blue dress. She smiled at him. "Hello Cha-ka," she said.

Ka started. Cha-ka? That was his child name. Why would she call him that? "Do I know you?" Ka warily asked.

The woman smiled. "Yes. I'm sorry. I called you by your old name. Of course, you're known as Ka now. My name is Rani, but you used to know me as Holly Marshall."

Ka's eyes widened. "Holly?" A flutter of joy played through his heart. All this time he had wondered what had happened to the Marshalls, and especially Holly as he had always felt a special fondness for her. "Is that you?"

"Yes, Ka, it's me."

"How... I don't... Look at you!"

There was a brief pause before Rani responded. "I know. It's been a long time since we've seen each other. You're an old Paku now," she teased.

"Ah," Ka started. "You are being disrespectful to your elders. Shame on you Holly Marshall."

Rani smiled, a bit of a tear welling up in her eye. "It's good to see you again, Cha-ka... I mean, Ka."

"And it's good to see you too."

"May I hug you?" Rani asked tentatively.

"I don't know. You are so tall and strong now. You are no longer little girl Ka met so long ago. You might break me!"

"Oh, Cha-ka." Ignoring his kidding, she stooped over and hugged the smaller Paku tightly. When she finally pulled away, tears were freely pouring from her eyes.

"Aw, don't cry, Holly. This is a happy time."

"Oh, don't worry," she said as she wiped at the tears. "These are happy tears."

Ka momentarily sobered. "Is it... is it my time?"

Holly laughed. She was not at all so serious, as had been his encounters with the other Builders. "Yes, Ka, it is your time. But do not fear. This time you will not be faced with abandonment, loneliness, or Sleestak wars."

Confusion played across Ka's face as he tried to make out what she meant. "It is my time," he murmured. "What mean, my time? Time for what?"

The form of Rani shimmered. Ka feared that she was going to leave him again, as the others had done, and he would have to find the meaning of "his time" alone. But Rani did not leave him. She transformed. She became a young girl, with long, blond pigtails and a red and white checkered shirt. She smiled at Ka, with nothing but joy and love emanating from her toward him.

Tears welled up on Ka's eyes. "Holly!" he cried. He rubbed at the tears in his eyes and when he looked at her again, she was once again in the guise of Rani the adult. He wondered if his sighting of the child Holly had been real or imagined.

"Ka," she told him. "It is your time to know the truth." She placed her hand in his and pulled him into the jungle with her. At her touch, Ka was once again washed over with the knowledge of the universe. He understood it all for one brief, shining moment. It all made sense and it was brilliant, beautiful and with purpose.

It faded, as before, but not as much as before. He was still left with the knowledge, just not quite as overwhelming in its intensity. He didn't know when or how it happened, but he easily accepted that when he looked down at his body, he no longer had the old, tired body of the Paku Ka. Instead, he had the young, virile body of Cha-ka-- the same body he had had when he lived with the young Holly Marshall. But just as instantly, that body faded and he was the old Paku again. It was the same as had happened with Rani/Holly, but Ka had felt it not only in a visual sense, but a physical sense as well.

A whirling cloud of blue opened up before Rani and Ka, and in it they could see others waiting for them. There was a tall Altrusian male, Blandings, and many others, some recognizable and some not. Even Zarn was there, his arms crossed in his eternal disapproval.

With Rani pulling at Ka's hand, they entered the whirling cloud of blue. As they crossed the threshold, their bodies shimmered and they were both with the bodies of the older Rani and Ka and younger Holly and Cha-ka, as if time and space couldn't quite decide to which universe they belonged.

Ka entered the world of the Builders and joined with them for all of eternity. He at last understood his purpose.

THE END

Robert's Note: This story has been designed to conform to Marc C.'s Land of the Lost story entitled "Exodus". To learn the story of the disappearances of the Marshalls in the Land of the Lost, readers are encouraged to seek it out.

Marc's Note: Much as I would like to take more credit, Robert did the vast majority of the work here. I merely edited, threw in a few suggestions, and helped make the story work with Exodus. The goal is continuity with the two prior stories I wrote, and to keep within the continuity of the Land of the Lost universe.