Sylum Advent 2015: January 1st

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(Original Concept Art from Jurassic Park)

Title: The Hatchling

Author: Timothy Quinn

Sylum Timeline: Yet to Come

***

He threw everyone out.

Literally.

And he really didn’t care how it looked.

He wasn’t being employed for his diplomatic skills, or for having overwhelming social ethics.

Not that he didn’t have a pretty decent reputation already, for being a giant pain the ass, but after the eggs were successfully fertilized, he’d go sit every afternoon, regardless of how the technicians snickered at him, talking to his babies and readying them for the world outside.

Not that he cared much about others laughing at his expense. He wasn’t exactly interested in human behavior.

It wasn’t his area of expertise.

Much to his father’s perpetual irritation.

But he knew what had gone wrong before, and he knew how to correct it.

That was all he gave a damn about as he tossed reluctant and argumentative stragglers out of the Hatchery by the collars of their starched white lab coats.

Henry Wu had already threatened him with Security, and then threatened him with being fired.

Firing him had been Hammond’s big mistake.

“Been there, done that,” he muttered, slamming the door in the doctor’s face, and locking it firmly. He remembered the Geneticist from 20 years before, and figured that little had changed the man but passing time. Without Hammond keeping him on a leash though, he clearly thought he owned the place.

In Owen’s personal opinion, John Hammond had been a ridiculously arrogant little martinet, who rightly deserved everything he got. He just hoped the Dilophosaurus who ate him, didn’t get food poisoning.

Hammond’s self-righteous nightmare had left no room for ever admitting his own mistakes, and it seemed only fitting that the creation he had unleashed had turned and destroyed him in the end.

Which was certainly poetic enough, but the body count hadn’t been limited to just one man.

Or one of his animals.

This time though, it would be different.

Owen knew it, simply because he knew more than he had 20 years ago.

Not that anyone paid attention to him back then.

Well, only long enough to fire his ass for yelling at Hammond in public.

His father had wanted to walk too, in protest, yet stayed on at Owen’s urging to at least try and defend the Dinosaurs from human insanity a while longer.

That his father had later returned home as one of only 6 survivors from the collapse of that first park – barely able to function for a while, and utterly unable to talk about what happened – had left him guilt ridden and even more angry at Hammond’s bullshit. But it had also made him more determined than ever to correct what he reasoned he had at least been partly responsible for.

His quest for answers had eventually led him to 24 months of solid research on Isla Sorna – another one of Hammond’s unmitigated fucking disasters.

Who builds in a hurricane area, then abandons the entire place for won’t of a storm? Without regard for the animals? Or their future?

Still, it had permitted him chance to observe without hindrance, to document and assess, and learn what needed doing.

No one really believed any of the rumors at first, let alone that some fool might try again one day to build a functional dinosaur park for paying guests.

It was probably a good thing then, that he didn’t think much like other people, or he might never have figured out what really came next. He wasn’t as insane as people liked to believe. He was just happier with his animals.

Predators mostly.

Those he understood.

Sitting on his favorite stool, he perched over the artificial nest with absolute concentration, not wanting the negativity of the past too much at the forefront of his mind while he should be more properly focused on the birth taking place before him.

He’d beaten the total crap out of anyone he ever heard since that first park failed, go mouthing off and blaming his father for it. Though he knew his dad well enough to grasp that the man never knew about what he did for him. They were, after all, far too much alike in certain matters, for either of them to readily accept.

Which rather drove poor Dilios a bit daft now and then.

The egg moved.

If he concentrated on it, he could hear the tiny, yet remarkably strong heartbeat of the creature coming from within, and it made him grin even as his own sense of impending, life-changing drama began to unfold. For no matter how much he was tempted to, he couldn’t alter or otherwise unduly influence what was happening. Bad enough there really ought to have been a pair of eggs hatching, until a careless technician knocked into the delicate heated table and upset the well balanced environment to such a degree that one egg toppled and was broken, he himself had no right to interfere despite the role he most fully and completely intended to play in his animals’ lives. He had literally gone batshit all over Wu and his minions when he’d gotten to the lab that fateful afternoon, just a little over a month ago, to find an egg missing. No one had thought to call and tell him about the disaster. They simply said they’d ‘make’ another embryo grouping later. And that was that.

It had taken Misrani to calm him the hell down before he killed someone, and while he’d ranted furiously at the terribly polite and very reasonable Indian Vampire who had bought John Hammond’s dream in an assets auction, Owen wasn’t entirely sure he’d made himself anywhere near clear enough.

The Dinosaurs were not assets.

They were numbered.

Barcoded.

Registered.

Tagged.

And treated like product sure enough.

Which was so many shades of just plain wrong, he had no idea how to begin explaining it better.

Misrani saw investment.

And while he understood that his investment was indeed effectively creating new life, he had yet to be fully exposed to the consequence of it. At least as far as Owen was concerned.

With the first crack, came tiny scratching sounds, and for a moment he fumbled with his phone to snap a picture, realizing that as he had documented his chosen subject on Isla Sorna for future reference, he should do the same of the new park on Isla Nublar.

It was almost set to open; the final touches being put on shops, facilities and hotels. Systems were being tested and retested for animal containment and control, even as he sat there, holding the breath he didn’t need. But he was ready. His paddock was built to his specifications, his operating systems in place, his team getting geared up and learning how to work together for the ultimate good of his animals. He knew what he wanted, and he knew how to achieve it.

Careless technicians not withstanding.

He knew his people looked like low-life, former mercenary type reprobates, not neatly uniformed park attendants, but appearances were not what he cared about.

The Raptors were.

And they were absolutely not going on display like they were circus freaks or pets to be cooed over.

One crack became two.

Then three.

Four.

Then a spider’s web of pressure marks as the Hatchling tested its strength in what would be just the first of many occasions it might doubtless face in its life.

“That’s it,” he murmured encouragingly. “C’mon, you can do it.”

Owen had witnessed the birth of many animals in his time, from Alpacas to Zebras, Wildebeests, Lions, Cheetahs, even Giraffes and Hippos. He’d also worked with Sarah Harding to document observations on the raising of Stegosaurus, T-Rex and Triceratops. He’d gotten close enough to see Pterodactyls hatch, and Spinosaurus Aegypticus feeding.

Yet time after time, he came back to the Raptors, drawn with rapt fascination to the most cunning and powerful of ancient predators, just as he had been to the big cats of Africa as a boy.

He was comfortable with them.

And they changed his life in return.

His eyes widened as pieces of the egg fell off and a tiny claw appeared, scrabbling around in the outside air, tugging at the broken edges and pulling more away.

It made him laugh in delight, despite the grief at knowing there ought to have been two new births that day in Jurassic World. The remaining Hatchling was strong. And getting stronger.

He paid attention to every sound, sight, and smell, noting them all.

He would be doing this again.

He knew it.

Hammond had deliberately imprinted on every Dinosaur born to that first park, even the ones who ate him.

As though somehow they would think of him in terms of God, when their creator was anything but holy.

Owen snorted, just as the Hatchling did, its head popping out into daylight – or rather the lights of the sterile room that held the nesting pads of each genetically manipulated species in the park.

He laughed again as he was blinked at, the miniature Raptor eyeing him with perfect curiosity, a piece of shell on its face like a half-tilted hat.

“Hi!” Own said cheerfully, knowing he sounded stupid but completely at a loss to know what else might seem appropriate.

He got a squeak in reply, that was followed by a lot more frantic scrabbling as the Raptor struggled to tear away the membranes that had encase it and kept it safe.

It took less time than he had seen with such births in the wild.

The new species that had been agreed upon for Jurassic World, were in fact not as genetically pure as those he’d first observed with his father, or those on Isla Sorna. The only way any insurance company would underwrite a second theme part, or investors would enable more research and study, was by ‘calming’ the de-extinct animals down with a great deal more DNA from other – allegedly better understood – creatures. Naturally, Owen had argued like mad that such a thing was pointless, as any and all related discovery would be instantly tainted by whatever genetic traits the foreign DNA would imbue. Naturally, he’d been completely ignored, and told not to create problems where none existed.

To which he had replied ‘yet’, for nothing was guaranteed, no matter how well the scientists claimed they could engineer controllable life.

Ian Malcolm had infamously said, ‘Life finds a way’, but he’d been ignored too.

Consequences being as they may, Owen would have his first new Raptors on Isla Nublar, infused with the DNA of the Black-Throated Monitor Lizard from Tanzania.

And he had no idea how that would affect their development.

As per protocols already established, all the Dinosaurs for the new park were to be female, and the predators would be sterile.

Which also pissed Owen off.

Given that his animals were not to be viewed by the guests, he had actually won the fight with Wu about not using accelerated growth rates to populate the Pack more rapidly. He would have at least something natural in his Raptors, if nothing else.

Free of shell and membrane, the new Raptor sat for a second in its nesting pad, still staring at him, expecting some response on his part, and it gave Owen better chance to inspect her still wet and sticky scales.

She was beautiful – a dark, silvery grey with a sharp, white dorsal line that framed a richly shimmering blue streak that ran from the rear orbit of each eye to the very tip of her tail.

Still she stared at him, blinking with nictitating eyelids, before she finally leapt straight at his neck.

Instinctively he caught her, his hands rising to protect himself, and her tiny razor sharp little needle pointed claws sank into his palm, cutting right through the skin between his thumb and forefinger on both hands.

The two of them stayed like that, poised as though in mid-battle, seeking dominance and looking for purpose.

Owen, realizing what that truly meant, did his utmost not to cry out in pain, and squeezed her more tightly, pushing her steadily but firmly away from his face, despite the blood that was pouring quite freely down his arms.

It was everything.

That single moment.

It defined them both.

Finally, after what felt to the both of them like an age of struggle, it was simply over, and chilled by no longer being in the warm light of the heat lamp over the nest, the baby Raptor sighed, and squirmed its way out of his hands, up his right sleeve, and into the breast pocket of his flannel shirt. Her claws were perfect for climbing the heavy material, and not once did she break his skin that time.

Owen laughed, awed by her speed and agility.

She was a touch larger than he anticipated, and he found himself hoping her colors wouldn’t darken too much as she grew.

She needed to feed though, which meant he had to get her out of that laboratory environment, and into the real world.

“You good in there?” he asked, rubbing a forefinger over her head between her orbital ridges.

She yipped at him, making some very familiar sounding chirps and baby growls.

“Yeah, hungry. I know. You want food now. I get it.”

She blinked at the sound of his voice.

“So let’s go home.”

He stood up, stretching his back right when the door burst open and two big, burly InGen Security guards charged in like proverbial bulls in the proverbial china shop.

Owen’s first instinct was protection of his Raptor.

And secondly for protection of the other eggs that comprised at last a dozen different species for the park.

The Hatchling growled, unafraid and utterly undaunted as her Alpha leapt with Vampire speed to save a clutch of Triceratops eggs from hitting the floor. Like a juggler, he caught each one in midair as it rolled, snagging all three and slipping them with remarkable tenderness back where they belonged.

Thankfully, his blood that had been spilled in achieving dominance over the infant Raptor, turned to dust during the distraction, leaving no one else present, any the wiser.

And then the yelling started, Wu loudly demanding that Owen be thrown not just out of the building, but off the island entirely, accusing him of theft, intimidation and bullying, damaging InGen property and interference with the running of both the labs and the park itself, harassment, criminal intent and trespass. In fact, he sounded so very much like John Hammond in his outrage, that someone should dare come and upset his self-righteous empire building, that Owen seriously wished he could spit venom at him like a Dilophosaurus.

It took Simon Masrani to defuse what rapidly became a weird kind of Mexican Stand Off, for the guards who most certainly felt it their duty to try and act on behalf of their employer and his precious Dinosaurs, were incredibly reluctant to go against the man with the Raptor in his pocket, especially when said Raptor hissed at them all nastily, and bared her teeth most fiercely.

“Velociraptors are lethal at 8 months old, but that doesn’t mean she can’t tear your eyes out, rip your face open and eat your tongue for breakfast.” Owen felt no need whatsoever to beat around the bush.

The guards backed off, valuing their tongues and eyeballs as much as the next man.

Wu only stopped yelling when Masrani came in, the considerable number of people thronging the Hatchery doorway, parting for him the Red Sea before Moses.

The baby Raptor snarled at him, warning him to back off too, whereupon he eyed the little scrap of dangerous life far more respectfully.

“Mister Grady, you know the procedures for all Hatchlings in this park,” the other Vampire began, every inch the forceful, powerful, yet softly spoken businessman of enormous reputation. “The Raptors are not your personal property.”

“It has to be weighed, measured, tested for defects…”

Wu’s protestations were silenced by a wave of Masrani’s left hand.

Owen never moved. “We talked about this. No chips. No trackers. No barcodes. No product listing. This is my project. I don’t care which branch of the US Military funds it. This is on my authority. Mine alone.” He spoke calmly, for the sake of the Raptor’s patience more than anyone else’s. Making eye contact also helped; with Hammond, it had been perceived as a threat, but with Masrani, it was two men being honest with each other.

An elegantly coiffed, immaculately dressed red-headed woman in a white outfit and three inch pumps, strode purposefully into the room like she’d come to fix the entire problem herself. Yet she utterly ignored it all, murmuring in Masrani’s ear that there was a meeting he was late for.

Simon smiled generously, despite lines of stress and worry creasing at his face. “Ah! Of course! Yes, yes! So be it!”

Wu snorted in disgust. “That animal belongs in this lab!” he cried. “It has to be…”

Masrani stalked out with the woman, whom Owen imagined to be his latest Personal Assistant. But the man’s comments had been rather a bit too ambiguous for the park’s Chief Geneticist, who was still angry and upset that his creations were being encroached on by those who knew nothing of his genius.

Trying not to look smug, Owen also walked away, Wu’s voice ringing in his ears, screeching something about blood tests and calories and growth factors and disease potential.

“Get back here, this instant!!” Henry almost stamped his feet in frustration. He was not a man of violence though. He was simply used to be being obeyed.

With his usual aplomb, Owen flipped him off, raising the middle finger of his left hand and taunting the other scientists without so much as a glance back over his shoulder.

To his delight, the baby Raptor copied him, flicking up a clawed toe at those who were staring, and pointing, and muttering darkly.

“I’m naming it Velociraptor 001!” Henry was about ready to start throwing things, wondering how the hell Owen could get away with such blatant disregard. “You hear me, Mister Grady?”

Owen stopped dead in his tracks at the end of the corridor that lead out to the nearly completed Visitor Discovery Center, where an 8 foot bronze of John Hammond and his amber topped cane, was being currently installed.

The baby Raptor chirped at him and blinked most politely.

“She already has a name!” he growled in reply, stroking her head softly. “Don’t you, Blue.”

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