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by Robert Porter

Part 1


Picking the small, ordinary-sized strawberry from the bush near the ground, Holly Marshall examined it closely. It looked like an ordinary strawberry. It smelled like an ordinary strawberry. But it was unlike any strawberry she had seen in a long time. It was... ordinary. Finally, she took a mouthful of the fruit and the sweet, tart flavor of an ordinary strawberry exploded in her mouth.

"Holly!" shouted her brother, Will Marshall, with a note of alarm in his voice.

Holly looked up at him. "Look, Will! Strawberries! And theyíre the normal sized ones!"

Will stood over her and examined the strawberry bush suspiciously.

"What did Dad say about eating strange foods?"

"Theyíre not strange, Will. They're just like regular strawberries from back home."

"Well, donít eat any more of them. We donít know if theyíre safe for us to eat. Just put some in the basket and weíll take them back home and see what Dad has to say."

Her face turning to disappointment, Holly conceded. "Oh, all right." She picked a few of them and slipped them into the basket, along with the onions-- ordinary sized ones-- that they had picked earlier. Now they just needed a few ordinary sized potatoes or one giant potato and they would be ready to head back to High Bluff.

When Holly was finished, she stood. The pair headed off to where they knew a small patch of potatoes grew regularly.

"Will?" Holly asked as they walked along. "I donít get it. Why are so many of the fruits and vegetables that grow around here so big?"

Not paying much attention, Willís answer sounded distracted. "Dad says itís the ground."

Holly accepted that. Since her father seemed to have so many answers, she figured it had to be right. However-- "Wait a minute! What about the ground? How can that make the plants bigger?"

Will paused and considered her question. She had a point. "I donít know. Thatís a good question. Weíll have to ask Dad about that when we get back."

"Maybe," offered Holly, "thereís super vitamins in the ground and it feeds the plants. Where thereís big strawberries, thereís super plant food in the ground. Where thereís normal sized strawberries, thereís no super plant food. And maybe the water--"

Holly stopped when she realized her brother wasnít paying attention.

He had his head cocked as if listening to something. "What is it?"

"Shhh!" he hushed. "Do you hear that?"

"Hear what?"

"It sounds like the Pakuni."

Holly strained and could barely hear a distant mumble, sounding vaguely like a Pakuni chant, over the normal din of dinosaurs in the jungle. "Boy, youíve got good ears," she told him.

"Címon." Will ran off toward the noise. "Letís go see if we can find them and see what theyíre up to."



Moments later, they found the Pakuni.

Keeping a respectful distance, they spied them in a clearing through some tall grasses. As they watched, they spotted the three local Pakuni, Ta, Sa and the younger Cha-ka. Ta sat motionless, holding something in his lap. The way he cradled the item, Will couldnít make out what it was. Sa and Cha-ka shuffled slowly around Ta, while gently chanting and occasionally offering what looked like flower petals to him.

"What do you suppose theyíre doing?" whispered Holly.

Will strained to see, but just couldnít make it out. "I donít know.

It looks like some kind of ritual."

"Whatís Ta doing in the middle? Itís like theyíre worshipping him or something."

"Yeah, it does. And heís holding something." In fact, it seemed that Sa and Cha-ka werenít worshipping Ta so much as whatever it was that he was holding, yet they were showing respect toward Ta for it.

"Po!" shouted Ta after a moment. The two other Pakuni stopped, looked at him a moment, then turned and walked away. Ta stood stiff and held the item before himself. Now that he wasnít cradling it so close to himself, Will and Holly could clearly see what he was holding. It was a miniature pylon, approximately one foot tall, complete with golden sheen and miniature diamond shaped doorway.

"Will!" Holly whispered a little too loudly. "Do you see that!"

He placed a restraining hand across his sisterís mouth. "Shh! We donít want them to hear us." Releasing her, he continued, "I see it, but Iím not sure what it is."

"Itís a tiny pylon," Holly told him, a tone of sarcasm in her voice.

"I know that, but what I donít get is--"

"Bako oganza Ta onam," Ta declared and beckoned for Sa and Cha-ka to return. They picked up something from the ground, then brought it to Ta and offered it stiffly, formally and with reverence.

"Hey!" Will whispered to his sister.

"It looks like fruit! Itís one of those small strawberries and... I think a pear." Will, looked and saw that his sister was right. They were offering Ta two pieces of fruit.

"Ma," Ta commanded. He stood, took the proffered fruits, and carefully laid them on the ground in front of himself. As they watched, Ta incanted something unintelligible for a moment. When he was done, he lowered the miniature pylon and held it slightly angled toward the fruits he had placed on the ground. He did something to the pylon that caused an electronic buzz and flashing white beam to fire upon the fruit.

An instant later, the strawberry and pear were ten times their original size.

"Oh, wow," Will said in dismay. Holly simply stared with wide, incredulous eyes. "I think that explains the giant fruits and vegetables weíve found in the jungle."

"No kidding..."

Ta stood proud over his accomplishment while the other Pakuni genuflected at his incredible prowess as a provider.

Will couldnít get over the power of the miniature pylon. From where did it come? What were its powers? And what kind of clues would it give them into the workings of the Land of the Lost? Unable to contain his curiosity, he stood and started walking toward them.

"Will!" his sister whisper-shouted at him.

"I just want to see it up close," he called back to her.

She stood and followed after him.

As they approached, the Pakuni heard the sound of them pushing through the grass and turned toward it. Ta immediately held the miniature pylon away from them and even tried to not-so-discreetly hide it behind his body.

"Hi, Cha-ka," Holly greeted warmly. "Ta. Sa."

"Tobi," answered Cha-ka. Ta and Sa simply stared, their expressions both frightened and guarded.

Will approached Ta directly and tried to look behind him at the pylon.

"Whatcha got there, Ta?" he asked. "Iíd like to take a look at it."

Squirming with discomfort, Ta struggled to hide the pylon from Willís curious eyes. "No!" he shouted at Will.

"Will," Holly pleaded, "Youíre scaring him."

"I just want to see it, thatís all." Will and Ta continued to dance in circles as Will tried to get a closer look at the pylon and Ta tried to keep it hidden.

"Ta, oganza," Cha-ka offered. He picked up the giant strawberry and presented it to Holly as an example of Taís incredible powers.

"Thank you, Cha-ka," she told him as she took the gift. She looked closely at it and it looked the same as all the other giant strawberries in this strange land. "Look, Will. I think Cha-ka is giving us this strawberry."

He turned to look at the strawberry. It looked the same as the others theyíd picked and Dopey had eaten-- nothing too out of the ordinary except that Ta had made it grow with his miniature pylon. He turned back--

Ta was gone.

Alarmed, he looked around for the missing Paku and caught a final glimpse of him as he vanished beyond the tall grasses. "He ran away!"

"Thatís because you wouldnít stop bugging him about his pylon," Holly chastised.

"Yeah, but--" Will sighed. "Well, I guess youíre right. He didnít seem very eager to show it to us, did he?"

"No, he didnít."

Sa silently picked up the now giant pear and ambled off toward the area where Ta had just run away. Cha-ka seemed torn between following after Sa and staying in the clearing with his human friends.

Stopping at the edge of the grass, Sa turned and commanded him, "Ba Cha-ka."

Holly sympathized and handed the giant strawberry back to the little Paku. "Here, Cha-ka. We donít need this. Weíve got plenty."

Cha-ka looked confused. "Ah-ree no fa?"

"No, thank you, Cha-ka. Now go with Sa," she commanded. "Cha-ka, ku ko Sa."

Turning reluctantly, Cha-ka followed after Sa as she walked away through the grass.

Will, grabbed Holly by the shoulder and directed her in the other direction. "Címon. We have to tell Dad about this." They walked away together.



After gathering the required potatoes, the kids had returned to their home on High Bluff and told their father, Rick Marshall, what they had witnessed. He insisted he see this miniature pylon for himself, so the three of them returned to the clearing, nearly an hour later, to search for the Pakuni.

"Ta was right here, Dad," Will said while indicating the middle of the clearing, "and he held the little pylon out like this."

"Yeah," chimed in Holly excitedly, "and this beam of light shot out at the strawberry and the pear and then suddenly they were real big!"

Rick looked around the clearing for clues as to what could have happened here, but could see nothing out of the ordinary besides the Pakuni prints that indicated they had been here. "Did either of you see what Ta did to the little pylon to make the beam of light come out of it?"

"No," Will answered, "we couldnít see too clearly what he was doing."

Rick pondered that a moment, then asked, "When they left, which direction did they go?"

Holly and Will both pointed. "I think thatís about where the Pakuni compound is," Will offered. "Do you suppose thatís where they went?"

"I think thatís very likely. Címon." He headed off toward the Pakuni compound with the two kids following close behind.

Minutes later, they approached the bamboo like fence that enclosed the Pakuni compound. Holly began calling out for her friend. "Cha-ka!" Rick began discreetly gathering stones from the ground, wiping off the dust, and putting them in his pockets.

From the tiny little doorway leading into the compound, the furry head of the child Paku poked through and spotted the trio. "Wi-ra. Ah-ree." he called them as he stepped all the way out.

"Hello, Cha-ka," greeted Rick. He squatted down to be at eye level with the little Paku as he approached. "Will says Ta makes great magic. Bi-oganza ko wocasa pylon?" He pantomimed the shape of a small pylon to help convey what he meant. "A little pylon. Ta makes great magic with little pylon. Makes big fruit with little pylon. Bi-onam, wocasa pylon."

Cha-kaís eyes grew wide with understanding and pride at Ta, the great magician. "Yo!" he said enthusiastically.

"Sa ego Ta? Sa ego pylon? Where is the pylon?"

"Ba!" Cha-ka commanded, and pulled Rick toward the entrance to the Pakuni compound to indicate that they should enter and see the magic that Ta had wrought.

As they entered, they immediately spotted a pile of giant strawberries, turnips, carrots, pears and other fruits and vegetables piled near a wall. Ta stood on the far side of the pile, examining his handiwork and cradling the miniature pylon in his arms.

Ta did not notice them until Sa ran up to intercept them and stop them from approaching Ta or their food stores. "No!" she shouted. She shooed at them to indicate they should leave. She grabbed at Cha-ka and roughly shoved him to the side and away from the humans.

Rick stopped, unsure what to do. He wanted to respect the Pakuni and their desire to be left alone. On the other hand, he needed to find out about the miniature pylon and what, if any, dangers it presented. The Pakuni had a very poor understanding of the crystals and pylons in the Land of the Lost, as a recent incident with the weather pylon had shown. He needed to make sure about this new, miniature pylon they had found.

Cha-ka came to their defense. "Sa!" he pleaded. "Kera a-wu lupari.

Kera a-wu Ta, bi-oganza. Humani no pulu. Humani wesa."

"No!" Sa shouted. "Ku! Fa tirisa!"

"Sa? Ta?" Rick asked. "Meni kera a-wu Ta bi-oganza. Meni kera a-wu wa oganza." He pulled out of his pockets, the stones he had collected earlier. "We have soup stones. We will trade soup stones to see Taís magic pylon."

"Soup-a?" called Ta from the far side of the food pile.

"Yes," Rick told him. "We will trade one soup stone," he held up the biggest of the stones, "to see your magic pylon."

Stepping from around the pile, Ta continued to hold the miniature pylon close to himself as he shuffled forward to the humans. Rick held the stone offering out to the Paku.

"Careful, Dad," Will warned. "Ta didnít seem too eager to show us the pylon earlier. I donít think he trusts us very much."

"Just be patient, Will," he responded.

Tentatively, Ta outstretched his arm and took the proffered stone from Rickís hand. Stepping back, and still protecting his prize pylon, he sniffed gingerly at the stone. Unsure, he licked it. Immediately, his face soured. "Ta no kera humani opima!" he said, and shoved the stone back on Rick. "Omachi ma wesa efi a Ta! Ta bi-oganza!"

"Oh, no!" Holly said, "if he wonít take the soup stones, we donít have anything else to trade. Now whatíre we gonna do?"

Rick put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "Weíll think of something, honey. Donít give up just yet."

"I know!" Will stated, then darted forward toward Ta and his pile of fruits and vegetables. Ta jumped at Willís sudden moves and stepped away, protective of the pylon.

Rick was horrified at his sonís actions. "Will! No!"

"But Dad--"

"Fa tirisa!" Ta shouted at them, as he slowly backed away. "Ta no kera she opima! Ku! Ku!"

"Will," Rick chastised, "now youíve just made him both angry and frightened. Now he has less reason to trust us."

Cha-ka seemed torn between his loyalties to the Pakuni and his friendship with the humans. Sa, however, moved to defend Ta and their territory. Imposing herself between them, she shoved hard at them toward the exit. "Ku! Humani ku!"

"What now, Daddy?" Holly asked, unsure and looking for guidance.

"We better go. We can find something better to trade and come back later." As they turned to leave, Rick turned and easily looked back at Ta over Saís much shorter height. Ta was crouched with the pylon in such a way as he couldnít quite see what he was doing. He seemed to be trying to manipulate it. Rick turned to duck toward the short doorway...

A crackling, buzzing sound emitted from Taís direction accompanied by a brilliant flash of white light. Ta screamed.

Everyone turned toward the sound. Ta was quickly backing away from a giant beetle, easily ten times itís normal size and just about the size of the Pakuni themselves. The beetle eyed Ta emotionlessly and snapped itís giant mandibles at him. It flexed its giant wings back and forth, as if about to take off in flight, but it stayed on the ground.

"Oh, no!" Holly cried.



Part 2