Brief History

The first expedition to penetrate Storm Valley and return with some members alive was the Connors Expedition of 2187. Firmly in command was Union captain Jerrold H. Connors, one of the few truly adventurous souls in the Union military. In charge of a mixed party of military personnel, civilian adventurers (two-fis-ters), and scientists (machinists), he penetrated one of the mountain passes on the southern edge of Storm Valley, which has since been named Connors' Pass in his memory. It was the scientists in his party who confirmed that Storm Valley's dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures were not the same as those of the Main Valley - or of Earth, for that matter.

Connors himself did not survive the expedition; on the trip home, he was seized and torn apart by a specimen of what his scientists have christened Allosaurus temnonychus (described on page 13) while conducting a rear-guard action against the beast's attacking pack. His heroic sacrifice has been shamelessly utilized by the Union in general - and the Cabal in particular - to inspire more adventurous souls to come to Storm Valley and "beat the rebels to the punch in this one valley, at least." A large-scale program of mining, settlement, and dinosaur-training was intended, but most of these plans have been put on hold due to the problems at Fort Phil Kearny, which was founded in 2195 and completed two years later. The work parties suffered heavily from attacking dinosaurs and other animals, even when protected by armed soldiers, and the fort's bad luck continued from there.

Even though the Union has the honor of first exploration, the Confederacy and the Free Fleet were not far behind. The first low-level aerial survey of the valley came in 2190, with a plane piloted by the legendary Confederate pilot William "Wild Bill" Tucker, whose recklessness was as famous as his skill with a plane. He performed several more low-level passes until his ship crashed in 2192; this was apparently in the far northern part of the valley, where few have gone. The wreck was never discovered, and it is unknown whether Tucker is dead or alive, though his family of nouveau riche bankers is willing to pay a small mint to find out.

Another daring aerial penetration of Storm Valley's tempestuous cloud layer came in the same year, in the saucer-like craft (of alien design) flown by the flamboyant Gautier brothers from the Free Fleet. The pilot was Lothair Gautier, a man given to strong drink and loose women. Accompanying him was his scholarly, yet equally colorful, brother Bertrand. A lifelong fan of author Alexandre Dumas, he let his literary preferences get the better of him during his zoological studies, as will be seen below, and often dressed in Renaissance garb at home and in public. He it was who gave the human race its first detailed study of the various iguanodon species of Storm Valley, including their social system. The Gautier brothers conducted a half-dozen flights, all concentrating on the eastern portions of Storm Valley, and announced the sighting of a great stone city there in 2194, shortly before their tragic crash and death.

More adventurous flights followed: Teng Hai-ping of the Free Fleet was the first pilot to find and describe the petroleum deposits in the northern part of the valley, on his third flight in 2196. He only made one more flight that year before crashing, and is presumed lost, along with his ship (which, like that of the Gautier brothers, was of alien design). The island of Carsonia was discovered by Confederate pilot Tex Carson in 2196; his ship crashed there on a second expedition in the same year, and the island was named Carsonia in his memory. (Does anyone else notice a pattern here?) It was another "Reb" pilot, Cornelius Montgomery, who carried out a nonstop aerial survey of the Red Mountains for their entire length in 2197, then died in a crash the next year as he was attempting a similar survey of the mountains on the northern border of the valley. (Yes, a definite pattern is emerging.)

There have even been a half-dozen sightings of alien spacecraft of various designs entering the storm clouds above the valley at intervals in 2198. Both the Union and Confederate militaries kept a close watch, but none of them ever came out again. When the reports leaked out, this led to a flurry of flights into Storm Valley in an attempt to find the crashed alien craft and retrieve samples of their advanced technology. So far as is known, no one has brought anything back, and the only results have been a further spate of crashes and crash landings. The same "scavenger hunt" mentality has taken place whenever an advanced Union or Free Fleet ship has failed to return.

Despite the obvious hazards, brave fools keep attempting to penetrate Storm Valley by air, some of them even succeeding, however briefly. The process has now taken on a life of its own, beyond simple exploration, as every time a ship goes down, there is the motive for sending a salvage or rescue party after it or its crew. There are even dark rumors that every time the Confederates find a crashed ship of one of the more advanced powers, with both crew members alive and samples of advanced technology intact, that the technology is promptly stolen and the "inconvenient" witnesses done away with. Of course, the same rumors are told about the Free Fleet finding a Union or alien craft, and about the Union finding alien ships. Nothing has been confirmed, but it is generally accepted by all parties concerned that anyone who flies into Storm Valley takes his life in his hands when he does so.

The human intrusion into Storm Valley has brought changes to the dinosaurs and other creatures dwelling there. Many of these creatures are at least as intelligent as their kin in the Main Valley; many are smarter by far. As a result, among the beasts in the southern end of the valley, where lies the worst human incursion - Fort Phil Kearny - the various species have come to an understanding. With pterosaurs, small predatory dinosaurs, and other creatures as intermediaries, the various large predator and prey species have agreed to a series of temporary truces. Stated briefly, each herd or pack of dinosaurs in the region takes turns dwelling in the shadow of Fort Phil Kearny, with no predators attacking the prey species while they are there. While "on duty," the disparate species cooperate against the human interlopers with constant attacks.

This has led to such odd sights as armored dinosaurs (anky-losaurs, ceratopsians, titanosaurs, etc.) spearheading assaults on Fort Phil Kearny, with their erstwhile enemies the carnosaurs and raptors advancing behind them under cover of their armored bodies. Capture parties have chased hapless-looking prey species, such as the various duckbills, only to find themselves repeatedly drawn into ambushes launched by carnosaurs, ceratopsians, iguanodonts, and other species well-equipped for battle. There have been coordinated air-land battles, with dinosaurs and pterosaurs working together, typically with one side attacking first to draw the Union troops' attention to them, leaving them wide open to a surprise ground or aerial assault from behind. The fort's biggest nightmare is a massed assault on a cloudy day, when the men will be unable to see the pterosaurs attacking until it is too late. Launched in coordination with a massive ground assault by dinosaurs, it could conceivably take the fort. And yes, the carnosaurs and pterosaurs did work together on the operation to poison the fort's water supply.

Confederates and other independent parties look on the repeated Union disasters with a mixture of grimly-satisfied amusement and apprehension. On the one hand, they are glad their major enemy is doing so poorly, and at such a heavy cost. On the other, they realize that the dinosaurs of Storm Valley are gaining experience in fighting together against human outsiders, a practice that could just as easily one day be turned against them.

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