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intelligent life.

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It’s a thing of awful marvel, really, a time-traveling train.

Mr. (The) Conductor would know. He’s served as the Dinosaur Train’s Conductor practically since his egg-time, and he’s been to many – but not all, he’d bet his scales and feathers on that – of its stations, throughout the great geologic eras. Of course the most popular stations are in the Cretaceous period, where the Pteranodon family lives, and it’s nothing to him, now, to rattle off information about the different species who inhabit it. He’s eternally pleased to see how curious and excited the young dinosaurs are to learn about their world – so many dinosaurs have never even heard of the train, and of the many who do, even fewer care to board it.

Still, Mr. Conductor wonders how far that curiosity will take them. Will Buddy and Shiny show up at Pteranodon Terrace some day and ask him to take the train to the First Station?

Will it even occur to them to think that there might be an end of the line?

He wonders, and he worries.

Mr. Conductor’s been to the First Station, of course: the Troodon Town Station. Who else but his own species could have been clever enough to build the train? He’d even been to the station that existed the earliest in the linear timeline the rest of the world knew, and found it to be quite strange. The rails came to an abrupt end in the middle of nowhere, and were grown-over by plants he didn’t recognize. If he squinted he could see what appeared to be the remains of a station platform, but even that may have just been a happenstance of rock. He’d shivered unwillingly, and left the way he had come, unsettled in a way he couldn’t identify.

The next day, he’d taken the train in the opposite direction.

He doesn’t like to speak about what he saw. At least he now understands the reason that some of the stations – the ones that were visited infrequently, where no dinosaurs properly lived – he understands why they’ve gotten run down, why their tracks are rustier and their roundhouses fallen into disrepair. When he became The Conductor he’d been thrilled, to have nothing but time on his claws and a lifetime to play with it, to learn from it. The stations that looked touched by time’s passage had made him a little sad, for surely there was time, there was nothing but time, to keep them looking their best.

Now he knows better. There isn’t all the time in the world.

There are limits to how much track the troodons have been able to lay into the future.