Usual warnings apply.




Of the Song and the Silence




For all of Claire's worry that the world would react poorly to the Indominus' hybrid nature, there is little fuss raised in the media.

Oh, there are academics that discuss the morality of creating true hybrids, the typical creationist lectures vilifying Jurassic World and their animals, and the expected C-Grade conspiracy documentaries drawing parallels between Jane and the Indominus. But overall, their new asset is well received. Ticket sales have skyrocketed; the Hilton is almost completely booked out for four months straight, and a new ferry has been commissioned to handle the swollen crowds travelling from the mainland.

Profit margins are the highest they have been in two years. It's good news. The report puts a glowing light on the Indominus Rex.

(A droplet in the sea. A word in a novel. A butterfly's wingbeat.)

She cannot delay sending the report. She does not know who might be reading it. She does not know whose agenda it might be furthering.


The door edges open just far enough for Zara to poke her head in. "Yes?"

"Hold all but emergency calls, please."

"Got it."

To delay will do more harm than good. She sends the report off to corporate.

Then, Claire pulls her shoulders tall and opens the email she was reading before the report came in. Nerves rattle in the joints of her slim fingers. She squeezes her hands together until the shakes stop. She's traded favours for this inquest. Carefully found ways to edge around the push-back she's gotten, using the connections she's formed over the years. Deployed artful words to reopen every shut door.

(It's cost her more than she had expected.)

"Clever." She's reluctantly impressed with the sheer amount of superfluous text. "Very clever."

The report hedges around miscommunication and clearance issues without laying complete blame on any one thing. Or, tellingly, on any one person.

She has her suspicions about who that one person might be.

Dread and conviction make for heavy thoughts. Her suspicions are firm, intuition sharp in her mind, and Claire has little doubt that such thoughts are wrong.

There is something clinical and cold about Dr Wu, below the intelligence and passion for bleeding edge science, and it has never bothered Claire until now. That passion turned into profit for the park, in the past, and it has never unsettled her so until now – until Jane.

(She wonders, wonders, wonders.)

Printing the results gives her time to ponder her next move. She should go to Simon. However, she recalls that he's flown out for a meeting, and she finds herself somewhat relieved. It means that she can default to her own judgment about who to go to next. Decision made, she scoops her hard-worn findings up once the printer has spat them out, tucks them into a plain manila folder, and slips it all into her purse.

She's in her car before she's truly conscious of it.

The road she takes is not one she has driven before, yet she knows it by heart.

(There is only one functional road that leads to the Restricted Zone, and it was impossible not to commit it to memory once she learned that fact.)

Tamed jungle swiftly changes into a far less maintained wilderness, and the paved road becomes dirt and gravel. She drives on and on and on until the jungle becomes so dense that she cannot see the sky above or the Jurassic World behind.

Claire parks her car in the lean-to set up to protect vehicles from the rain. Her purse feels heavy as she slings it over her shoulder.

Soft earth swallows her heels. She finds her balance and strides up to the intercom. Dewdrops burst under her touch.

"Jane? It's Claire Dearing. Can we talk? In person, please."

After a handful of moments, Jane responds. "I'll be there shortly."

Even though Claire knows the cabin in which Jane lives is a mile away from the gate, Jane arrives before ten minutes are out. She appears alone. Claire has doubts that she is.

Jane opens the gate, beckoning Claire inside.

Blindsided, Claire balks. "Um."

There is a challenge in the curve of Jane's grin. "They won't hurt you."

"So long as you tell them not to."

The grin widens, sharp teeth gleaming and white. A smile full of knives. "So long as you don't show yourself as a threat."

Now her heels feel like anchors sunk into the ground. But, Claire has not come this far just to bow out from cowardice. She steadies herself and walks forth.

Claire enters the Restricted Zone.

The gates slide shut behind her, clicking in place with a loud snap, and she keeps a hand hooked over her purse.

"The report from the inquest arrived. I brought you a copy, but in essence…well, I think your concerns have merit."

With a rumble, Jane accepts the folder when Claire holds it out. "Pandora was deliberately hidden from me then. Are there others?"

"No other hybrid projects have been approved."

The weight of that stare makes it hard to think straight, sometimes. "That hasn't stopped people before."

"Fair point."

"What do we do now?"

Jane is deferring to Claire. That is unexpected. "We need to speak with Simon and Captain Thorne. Quietly. Clearly there is someone, or a group of people, working within InGen and MasraniCorp with motives ulterior to the park. They might even be on the island too. We can't risk tipping them off."

The implications make her nauseous. Jane's posture is stiff, tail motionless, as she rumbles, "You and I both know who is behind this."

"Wu." Claire dares to speak his name. She barely stops herself from triple checking that they are alone. "Yes. I suspect him too – strongly, but I do not think he is working alone."

"This worries me, Dearing." A thick tail snapping from side to side draws Claire away from thoughts of how deeply this infection might run, of how many unfriendly eyes they need to be watching for. "It's like when the others and I were created. The secrets. The closed doors. The lies."

"The others? Oh." The other human hybrids. Claire knows that most didn't have names. Only numbers. A trembling lump in her throat makes it hard to breathe evenly. She watched Jane's interview with Penelope and so much of what was said echoes inside her skull now. Christ, this morning is giving her a headache. "No one in the world would be foolish enough to attempt something like that again."

"How can you be so sure?"

There is a cluster of large rocks nearby. Claire sits on one, sets her purse down, and clasps her hands together. Inside, she quakes with uncertainty. "I suppose that I can't."

Jane's brows twist, and Claire can see how fear makes her hold herself differently, how it affects her voice. It's humbling to witness.

"I wish that you could," Jane rasps just as a low warbling comes from the bushes. Leaves hiss and scrape against something not bothering to hide itself.

From the jungle, a raptor emerges.

A crawling stillness overcomes her. Whatever Claire has felt in the past under Jane's yellow stare, it is nothing compared to what sitting under a raptor's attention makes her feel. That yellow disc, so bright and unearthly, swallows every scrap of Claire's focus. A wave of cold builds under her lungs, swirling inside her chest before sending a trembling wave over her skin. Goosebumps pimple over her arms.

And for all of her instant fear, the raptor dismisses her after a cursory sniff.

"It's alright."

"Are you talking to me or the raptor?"

"Both. This is Demon." Jane holds out a hand and the raptor pushes his snout into it. The inquest is dropped in favour of giving pets. Demon buffs his head against Jane like a cat seeking affection. Claire has seen pictures of raptors, and they have not done Demon any sort of justice. He is massive and muscular, lithe like a jungle cat, and covered in ripples of near-black hide. "It's alright, Dearing. Demon is only interested in making sure I am well."

"O-Oh." Every part of Claire's mind is scraping together the bits and pieces she knows about interacting with predators. She doesn't make eye contact or show her teeth. Her voice wants to tremble but she, somehow, keeps it even and low. "Why did you invite me in?"

Jane does not stop patting Demon. The noise he makes is almost like a purr, only deeper. "It's clear that you came to my zone because you didn't want someone to overhear our conversation. There are no cameras in here beyond those watching the gate."


"And," Jane repeats, "I wanted to see something."

Then, Jane holds out her hand.

"No." Claire moves before thinking, slapping her hands upon the stone and rooting herself in place. "No. Nope."

Jane trills a laugh. Crooks clawed fingers. "I will keep you safe."

She doesn't ask Claire to trust her. Not verbally, at least. Internally groaning, Claire stiffly stands and wobbles over. She places her hand in Jane's.

Demon blinks. He watches Claire, sniffing at her skin where Jane holds their joined hands out.

(She stopped wearing perfume after Thorne told her perfume bothers most of the animals. She still uses herbal soap though, and hopes it doesn't irritate the raptor.)

"Friend," Jane intones, softer than Claire has ever seen her, "Protect. Safe."

Demon picks at the hem of Claire's skirt, at the bracelet dangling from her wrist, and peers up at her calmly. Slowly, shaking all the while, Claire lifts her hand out of Jane's. Only the pads of her fingers actually make contact with Demon's muzzle, but it's enough to make Claire suck in a gasp. A golden eye peers up at her, liquid and keen, and he chitters.

"Hello there," she murmurs shakenly.

Demon pushes closer, hard enough to make Claire take a step back. Jane growls, "Gentle," and he settles again. A wet, crackling laugh skitters up Claire's throat and she lets her touch become firmer. She's petting a raptor. She's petting one of the most dangerous creatures in the world, in the history of the planet, like a dog. A soft, fluttering sensation fills her chest with light.

Claire keeps petting Demon, feeling the odd, leathery texture of his skin and the echidna-like quills along his spine, until he grows bored. He drifts away. Claire stands, unaware that she had crouched low to be closer to the raptor, and her knees pop.

"That was," Claire's palms tingle from petting such rough, armoured skin, "quite an experience."

"He likes you."

Demon squawks and starts chasing butterflies. He pauses long enough to chirp at the two of them before pouncing on a hapless patch of flowers. Claire cannot interpret how he dances through the butterflies startled into flight as anything less than an expression of joy.

Certainly not just a cold-eyed predator.

(Certainly more than a serial number on a page.)

Even if Demon were one of the park's assets, Claire does not think she could look at him so clinically anymore. Not easily, at least. Not without effort.

"I…like him, too." Claire flattens her skirt. "Thank you for sharing this with me."

"You are welcome."

"Why, though? In all the time you have lived here you've only let a handful of people inside the zone, or come anywhere near your raptors."

It's clear as day that Jane is carefully considering her answer. She scoops the report back up, riffling the pages.

"You always distance yourself from the animals. Call them assets. I had hoped you would see them as more if you had a chance to meet one like this." Earnest, Jane meets Claire's conflicted stare. "They are living beings. I know that…with what you must do it might be easier to think this way, but they do not deserve to be reduced to numbers and profits."

It hurts, a little. Claire is left bereft of words for a beat.

(Jane is reaching out, she recognises.)

(Claire chooses to reach back.)

"Can you show me more?"




There is a cliff that overlooks the valley. It juts out high above the grass plains below, providing an ideal vantage, and sports an old Ranger's shelter. Though bearing some scars, the building was built to withstand the elements and has survived well over the years.

Like Jane, Sarah and Nick love this spot. On the rare days when they can visit, they will often spend an afternoon hunkered down in the shelter while recording the state of the valley. It is a place of fond memories.

This is where Jane takes Claire.

It is too far for Claire to walk. The car is the better option, even though Claire drives at a snail's pace – too worried about running over a dinosaur. Demon follows them, flanking the left at a steady pace.

Before long, they arrive.

"Oh," Claire gasps, slipping from the car.

Softly, Jane agrees. At this time of day, many of the herds have gathered to drink at the lake. It makes for a picturesque scene.

Brachiosaur sing and wade into the waters to escape the heat. Parasaur mill along the shore, muzzles bent to the water with a placid serenity despite the Gallimimus honking at their flanks. Smaller dinosaurs flitter to and fro, nibbling on the destroyed foliage left in the wake of the ambling Stegosaur herd. For the dozen species living in the Restricted Zone, most are represented below, and even at a distance the differences between the old park's dinosaurs and Jurassic World's are visible.

(Jane sometimes wonders which generation is a truer representation of their original ancestors.)

This is Jane's home. Her sanctuary. Her place to protect.

"We can go closer, if you like."

Claire bites her lip. "It isn't too dangerous?"

Although she has already judged it as safe, Jane makes a point of passing her eye over the valley again. The only threat she sees are the Triceratops. Busy rubbing their horns against the sturdy trees along the far side of the lake, they will not be a bother.

"Stay by my side and you will be safe." A thought burns as the she thinks of the Pachycepholosaur, who won't hesitate to charge at Jane and a lone raptor. Numbers are the pack's greatest strength. "The pack will deter those that would pose a danger."

Fear is a reaction, an instinct, that few can control. It is obvious that Claire tries to quell this instinct, but she cannot hide the fear from Jane – the air becomes sharp and acidic and colour leaks from her face, leaving the powdered rise of her cheekbones looking flushed and sickly.

Demon slows. Stills. Watches Jane and Claire both.

(Predators can always smell fear, and adrenaline does strange things to humans.)

"They will come if I call," Jane offers, calm and firm, "and will stay away if I ask."

"No. No, it's alright. Your friends come in here all the time and they still have all their limbs attached, right?"

"Are you sure?"

"As I'll ever be."

After a moment, in which she waits for the words to be taken back, Jane calls the pack.




As always, the pack responds.

Raptors swarm to Jane's side, barking and chirping, supine bodies cutting through the air.

There was no distress in Jane's call. No warning. No beckon for a hunt. They are calm and curious as they approach. Always eager to make a new friend who can offer pets, Firefly dances in circles around Claire and warbles a greeting. The others hover, a steady stream of bom bom bom echoing in the air.

Head high and neck arched, Sickle picks a wide circle around them all.

(Sickle is the last of the first. Only she is wary of humans in white, as she is the only one to remember what that might mean.)

"Oh. Oh, hello there." Claire laughs breathily and settles a faintly trembling hand on Firefly's flank. "You and Demon are quite the ambassadors, aren't you?"




There is no road that the car can take to the valley. This time they must walk.

Jane offers to carry Claire and she is so surprised that she breaks into snorting laughter. The pack churrs at the new sound, so different from Eric's quiet chuckles and Sarah's belly laughs, and stomp their feet with a need to move. Claire is new and interesting, and they are always eager to explore such things.

Taking their lead from Jane, they are quick to accept Claire's presence and form a loose guard formation with her at the centre.

(Claire is not pack, but Jane has told them to protect her, and so they shall.)

Once they set foot on the soft grass of the valley, Claire surrenders her shoes and walks barefoot. Eventually, grass becomes riverstones worn smooth by time and the elements. The southern shore is vacant of all but the pack, so they settle down – barring the youngest of the pack, who screech with joy when they spot shoals of tiny fish in the shallows.

Firefly and Demon dash after the little creatures, splashing water everywhere and making a great ruckus of themselves.

There is a word Deveroux is fond of – gobsmacked. Jane thinks that Claire looks gobsmacked at the pack's behaviour.

"They act just like children."

"I suppose." Jane scratches at Sickle's neck. She rumbles, eyes growing half-lidded. "Grady will have his hands full when his pack arrives."

A strange noise catches in Claire's throat. "You two are getting along?"

"Yes. He is odd, even for a human. But, he is like the other handlers here - he will love his charges. Care for them. Treat them well."

"Odd is one way to describe him. He swings between being a serious professional and a class clown like that." She snaps her fingers.

Claire wouldn't know it, but it is traits such as this that make Owen the polar opposite of the Raptor Handlers who came before him. It bodes well. And Eric likes him too – although, Jane thinks, not in the same way.

"Do you think," Claire stops, licks her lips, gaze trained on the not-so-distant Brachiosaur, "Do you think that the raptor behaviour project is just a cover up for something else?"


A shrewd stare. "You're calm, considering."

"The world is watching. You've said it yourself: public opinion is one of the park's most powerful assets." Even in the warmth of the day, Jane finds herself shivering as if cold oil were coating her insides. "It would be idiotic to use dinosaurs as weapons. Foolish."

"Besides," Jane continues, jaw stiff around the words she has to force herself to believe, "Hammond made it law within his company – no animal they de-extinct can be used for military purposes."

Claire is too hesitant, or too kind, to mention that some humans simply don't care about laws or rules or ethics. Or that the Indominus is a hybrid, and thus not a de-extinct creature in the slightest. Humans are fond of finding loopholes. Of toeing the line between right and wrong. Of seeing how far they can push before someone, or something, bites back.

(In her worst moments, Jane still hates humans.)

After a silent few minutes, in which Claire takes in the valley and all the life it cradles, she whispers, "We truly did neglect the Indominus Rex. We weren't beating or starving her, but we didn't have to."


Making a noise like she is biting back a sob, Claire says in an even softer, frailer whisper, "We almost abused her to a point where she couldn't recover, didn't we?"

"Yes." For this, Jane cannot make herself gentle. She is hard and implacable, but not entirely unkind. Second chances, she remembers from so long ago. "Susan and Caterina have helped her heal, but this cannot happen again; no matter if the creature is a hybrid or not, no matter if they are born in the main lab or Wu's, I am to know about all the moment they hatch."

After taking a steadying gulp of air, Claire nods. "I agree. Completely."

Normally, such a simple thing. Agreement on a cruelty being dubbed as unacceptable. And yet-

And yet, Jane feels as if she has done something right in helping Claire understand.

(All someone had to do was give Claire a chance, challenge her to see the dinosaurs as more, and her perspective has changed in a matter of hours.)

"Good," Jane rumbles.

"Suppose that I understand why you're so passionate now." The admission rides upon a bitter trickle of a laugh. "Goodness, what you must think of us all. Of me."

Jane is not the best with words. She thinks upon what ones she wants to say, and what ones will not cause harm. "No one has my perspective. My experiences. I do not expect all to understand why I am the way I am – but I do expect the park's people to listen. Usually, they do. The ones that don't I have no patience for. Not when it comes to the dinosaurs."

"That certainly explains a fair number of the emails I get from HR."

In a very human gesture, Jane rolls her eyes. "Diplomacy has no place when the welfare of a creature is at stake. I will not suffer fools."

Claire looks like she wants to agree.

"Were it so easy to stop the ignorant in their tracks on my end." Reflexively, Claire smiles when the Brachiosaur sing to each other. Such is the reaction of many to the songs of giants. "Thank you for showing me all of this. For…helping me understand. I know that it was a test, but this was also a privilege."

Overhead, a flock of birds twist through the air. Demon twitches as if he wants to join in on their games. Drawn by his noise, the rest of the pack lift their eyes to the sky. The birds continue in their games, spiralling in graceful arches, heedless of the audience below.

Jane watches the birds. Their flight seems so careless, so oblivious to all of them below.

How easy it must be to be a bird. How simple.

"Not a test. A chance – for both of us."




A week passes after Jane and Claire form a tentative friendship, and at the end of this week the day Jane has been dreading occurs.

Dr Wu finally creates a batch of viable raptor embryos.

News spreads like the swell of a tropical storm. Suddenly and all at once. Those staff that don't tiptoe around Jane outright avoid her – ducking their gazes and skittering from her path like frightened Dryosaur. It does not take long for Jane to discover the reason for this behaviour. Whispers carry so easily, and their eyes stick to her back like glue with a timid yet immovable curiosity.

Jane is not calm when Grady confirms that his pack is on the way. She is cold. Empty. Void of feeling. Numb.

Grady's stare is keen. Sharper than he might think, and seeing more than she would like. "You good?"

"We'll see." No matter how her gut tangles with knots, how desperately she wants to run, Jane fights to remain still. He didn't tell her the news but nor did he promise to. "Are you?"

A genuine smile. Not a smirk, but a gentle pull of the lips and eyes. "Ecstatic," says he, and she does not smell a lie.

The tangles loosen. Jane cannot find it in herself to smile too, but the stiffness trailing up her spine relaxes. These past weeks have grown this thing, this faith, in her for Grady and Barry and their intentions for the raptors. Eric is fond of Owen, too, and Jane finds comfort in that.

Jane trusts Eric. Eric says that Owen is a good man. Against all odds, Jane likes Owen too. Believes in him.

(He didn't tell her. He didn't promise to.)

She still fears what will become of the raptors.

But at least they will be loved.




Jane has not spoken to Simon since he revoked her clearance to the laboratories. Those places of chemicals and white coats and bright lights are living nightmares, yet she still resents the banishment.

She thought Simon was a good man too. She knows he is, yet still she swims in anger. A feeling fed by hurt and betrayal, deep and dug down to her bones, that clings to every thought about the man.

(She hurts, and it seems to hurt all the more knowing why she feels as such.)

"Trust me," Claire says, low and intense, and she has never asked such a thing of Jane before. "I will get our concerns across, and I need you to stay calm for that."

"I will try," and Jane means it. She touches the necklaces, reminding herself how important promises are. "I promise to try."

Claire softens. Strengthens. "Good. See you soon."

Jane leaves. On Claire's advice and mindful of how delicately they must tread, Jane takes a meandering path to her true destination; she has lunch with Vivian; borrows a new book from the small library attached to the museum; joins Deveroux on her mid-afternoon educational tour.

All of this, Jane does to disguise the intent behind her meeting with Claire, and throw off suspicion about her final destination.

She is wary of unfriendly and suspicious eyes.

(Jane's instinct is to slip into shadow. Claire's is to do the opposite.)

(It feels wrong to be so out in the open. Jane does it anyway.)

Eventually, some hours after leaving Claire's office, Jane disappears into the jungle. She climbs, so high into the canopy that the security cameras cannot catch her image, and makes for the western side of the island. Skirts the edge of the gyrosphere valley and crosses the river that borders the Apatosaur and Stegosaur exhibit.

(She feels like a sleuth from the spy novels Eddie pretends he doesn't love.)

Jane arrives as the heavy thum thum thum of a helicopter comes from overhead.

She stills. Blends with the dark pockets of shadow. The pressure on her ears makes her wince, as it always does, and she waits as the machine lands. Claire and Simon disembark, shortly followed by Thorne. The pilot remains behind.

The three explore the clearing, gesticulating to various elements and making notes in Claire's notebook. Jane knows what brought them here; judging the suitability of the area as a new exhibit, a neat cover for Claire and Jane's ulterior motive.

Eventually, Claire hedges the two towards the trees. Simon follows easily enough. Thorne folds her arms, and Jane can see the suspicion in the set of her shoulders, the way she stays balanced on the balls of her feet. Ready to leap into action.

There is nothing wild about her, yet Thorne's instincts are fine as if she lived in the wilds like Jane.

(She once hunted poachers and has clearly never forgotten it.)

Claire herds them into the forest, on and on until they are all well out of the pilot's line of sight.

Jane makes herself known. Simon jumps. Thorne relaxes.

"Simon, Thorne," Jane says, and she will not be ignored this time. They will listen. "We need to talk."




It is not often that Jane speaks more than a few sentences at a time. She prefers to watch and listen, to speak with the flick of her tail and slant of her shoulders. This is not how humans speak though, so Jane speaks.

"This is no small thing to accuse Henry of," is what Simon says when Jane has talked herself hoarse and Claire has put her own statement forth.

Acid washes the back of her throat. Jane stiffens to stop herself from lashing out in anger.

(She is calm and collected and Simon should believe her.)

"We understand the gravity of the situation, Simon," Claire states. Jane marvels at how she can remain so level in spite of everything.

Thorne snorts. "Explains all the cloak and dagger bullshit you two have got going on. Is there even a new exhibit in development?"

"Yes. You'll receive the dossier on the Allosaurus later this afternoon." Claire squints against the wind or against the urge to frown, Jane isn't sure, but she is so calm that it doesn't matter. "Regardless of our purpose for being here today - we believe that there are people working against the park; their motives are unknown and they are using company assets for ulterior purposes. In itself this is a cause for concern, however…"

"Simon," Jane continues at Claire's subtle gesture, "they hid Pandora from me, from everyone outside of Dr Wu's team, and she was neglected – that cannot be allowed to stand."

"Damn right," Thorne mutters, pointedly. "Kiddo is making a fair call, Simon. You know my feelings about this."

Bruises hang below drooping eyes, and Jane's senses scream at her that Simon is utterly exhausted. She can see it. Smell it. The weakness. The frailty. A spine curves into a gentle stoop and shoulders bow in. He sighs and it rattles.

(He should believe her.)

"I know, my friend," says Simon, quietly. "I have heard you both, and I agree - what has happened cannot come to pass again."




Looming at his left, Azizi reads the report over Simon's shoulder. Every word is both a punch to the gut and a vicious vindication of her ill feelings towards the head of Asset Research.

(She's seen how poachers look at animals, how they reduce life to nothing more than products and trophies. Skin. Claws. Teeth. Bones. Meat.)

(Wu doesn't treat the dinosaurs like trophies, but there is always a gleam of triumph to his stare.)

"The balls on him to do this right under my nose," she grunts. "Wu's got a brass pair, that's for sure."

"Be careful with your accusations; as of yet there is no direct proof placing the blame upon his shoulders," Simon warns, and she has never been comfortable when confronted by the corporate side of him.

The Simon she loves is carefree and intelligent, curious about the world and how he can bring joy into the lives of many. This Simon, who weaves caution and reason together like a shield, is not the part of him she is fond of.

(She knows that he runs a Fortune 500 company, knows the kind of person it takes to do such a thing. It's the reason MasraniCorp is the goliath it is today.)

Rocking back onto her heels, Azizi gauges the mood. Dearing is calm, Simon is worn and weary, and Jane is vibrating like a desperate, half-starved lion on the hunt. It's a volatile mix. Unwilling to deal with the fallout of when Jane inevitably lashes out against Simon, Azizi jerks a thumb over her shoulder and says, "Pilot is expecting us in a few minutes. We need to start heading back."

No one moves. Azizi almost sighs, and she also almost laughs out of pure frustration. She knows these people too damn well. Water and oil, they all are. Jammed into a bottle together and shaken up like a protein drink. Clashing, bashing, and thrashing against each other. Months of tension are coming to a head.

Azizi isn't good at being a diplomat, or keeping the peace. She can make people laugh and shit themselves with fear in equal measure, not force opposites to get along, and never does she feel this weakness moreso than when Jane and Simon butt heads. It's happened a lot lately.

"We will look into this," she promises, the only way she can think to get ahead of the oncoming explosion.

Dearing is a professional to the core. She dips her chin with a quiet, "thank you," and subsides.

Jane is slower to be convinced.

Her stare is hard. Unwavering and uncompromising. Locked with Simon's in a showdown that won't end well if it's allowed to continue. Christ. Azizi would have traded her favourite rifle to have someone like Jane in her anti-poaching squad all those years ago.

"Enough, you two," she snaps, seeing the vein pulsing at Simon's temple and the telling, cat-like flick of Jane's tail. "Another screaming match won't do us any good."

"Indeed," Simon agrees on a murmur. "We shall review this inquest in depth, and if there is even a shred of proof to your claim I will get to the bottom of it."

"Even if it means losing Wu?"

It's only just noticeable, the hurt that flickers through Simon. Jane must notice too, for her hostile expression softens at the edges, but she doesn't take the words back.

(And if Azizi is honest with herself, she wants to know the answer too.)

Simon draws himself tall. "Even then. Henry might be the brilliant mind behind resurrecting the dinosaurs, but InGen owns his research – we will find another to head his division. The park will survive."

Finally, Jane subsides.

There are no parting words. Jane disappears into the jungle and Dearing leads the rest of them back towards the helicopter. The ride back is silent. Tense. It makes Azizi's skin crawl. Dearing leaves them the moment the pilot touches down on top of Control, and Azizi doesn't need to ask before Simon he takes the route to her office instead of his own.

Azizi waits until they're safe and secure behind a locked door before asking, "Does InGen own all of the research?"

"All the research we are aware of," he says, dark and pained. "Henry has always been given liberties, but if this is true," knuckles are rapped against the report, carefully hidden under a topographical map of the proposed area for the Allosaurus exhibit, "then he has gone too far."

"True or not, I'd say he already has." She folds her arms, leans back into her seat to relieve the ache of old wounds and their nattering complaints. Cracking her neck staves off the headache building at the back of her skull. "You and I both know the Indominus was a mistake. It could have fucked us royally – and I've never been comfortable with the fact that he has a private lab that even I don't have access codes to."

"It is fortunate that Pandora was discovered before things deteriorated further. Before the…trauma could continue to be inflicted."

Simon looks like he's aged a decade inside a month. Concern pricks at her gut.

"Christ, man, you're making me feel old and depressed." She scoffs when his hangdog expression curdles mulishly. After digging through a drawer, she sets a flask of spiced rum on the table. They each take a swig. "Slap that frown off of your face – you know how prickly the kid gets about welfare issues, and the Indominus is precisely what her role – and our morals – were supposed to prevent. It's fucked, but there's no use in moping."

"How aptly you capture the situation." Tiredly, he pinches the bridge of his nose, as if staving off a migraine. "Oh, Azizi, what have I let happen to John's legacy?"

Coddling people isn't something she's particularly good at either. Nor does she think legacies are the thing to be worrying about here. Still, it matters to Simon, so it matters to Azizi. "Look, you may have let the reins go a bit and shit's gone wrong, but you aren't the one that made the Indominus, you aren't the one that hid her from everyone, and you aren't the one that's causing problems."

"Perhaps not directly, but I allowed all of this to happen." Another swig of rum. "My meeting with the InGen board did not go well – they are fully aware of the inquest that Claire ordered done and have made their displeasure known."

Shit, Azizi thinks.




"Jesus," Billy mumbles behind a hand. "What were they thinking?"

A cruel, acidic response burns behind Jane's teeth. She holds it in with a clenched jaw.

Horror-stricken, Billy continues to stare at Pandora. It is the first time he is seeing her, witnessing her in all her disturbing glory. Pevensie is teaching Pandora a new exercise, one designed to test her problem solving abilities, and so Pandora pays little attention to whom is in the observation window at the moment.

"She's learning fast. Too fast." Billy fumbles for his notebook and begins writing in mad scribbles. "It took a day for chimps to learn what Pandora has done in an hour. This can't have been an accident."

Jane makes a deep sound in her throat, a throttled noise of terrible vindication. Savagely, she is pleased that it is so obvious to Billy what has taken so long to convince others of – that nothing about Pandora was a mistake.

(It has been a week and Simon has not spoken to Claire or Jane. Neither has Thorne.)

(She likes him. Trusts him. He should believe her.)

"Oh, Jane," Billy sighs, tucking the pen into the folds of his notebook. He palms the ball of her shoulder, pinkie brushing purls of scar tissue, and squeezes. "No wonder you've been in such a mood lately."

Jane barks a short, sharp laugh. Another squeeze and Billy's hand drops away. The movement catches Pandora's attention. A massive head swivels away from Pevensie, who is busy setting up a new round of exercises. Red eyes immediately track the newcomer. Jane knows that stare, knows that Pandora is deciding where to place Billy in her regard.

(People that Pandora does not like are quietly transferred to another enclosure team, as her dislike is shown through acts both aggressive and terrifying.)

(The glass is scarred from the last time Pandora made her displeasure known.)

"Impressive stare," Billy breathes, just loud enough for Jane to hear. She laughs, this time with humour, and agrees wholeheartedly. Flicking the backs of his calves with her tail, Jane goads the stiffness from him. It works, faintly. "Remind me how you do this on a daily basis with your pack?"

"Trust." And love. So much love. Jane doesn't know if the raptors feel such a thing, or if she has too much raptor in her to feel it herself, but she thinks that what it is – the immeasurable, untameable emotions she feels for the pack, and for a handful of humans. "Pandora is uniquely intimidating, I suppose."

"You suppose," the words creep from the corner of Billy's mouth. Pandora's stare has yet to waver. Jane sees no signs worth worrying over, so she remains relaxed. She leans in and faux-whispers by Billy's ear, "I'll keep you safe."

Tension breaks with an almost audible snap. Amusement warms Billy's eyes when he finally breaks his stare away from Pandora. Affectionately tapping a knuckle against her bicep, Billy hums, "You always do, kid."

Billy is, most definitely, one of the humans she loves.

"Fascinating," a new voice says, and the warmth in Jane's chest dissipates. "Aint it supposed to be the old making the young feel safe?"

Surprised, Jane twists, confronts this new person with a stoic stare. She was not listening for new footsteps, watching for new faces, waiting for new scents. Still, it is rare that anyone can sneak up on her in such a way.

"Old?" Billy's complains as Jane turns towards the new voice and quietly demands, "Who are you?"

(She cannot shake the feeling that this moment, like Pandora, was not a mistake.)

It's a man. Stocky and soft at the edges, with broad, rounded features sharpened by the square haircut many of the ACU and Security people favour. He smiles but it does not touch his squinted eyes.

"Victor Hoskins."




Victor Hoskins offers his name as if it should mean something to Jane. It doesn't. The thought that it should makes her spine tingle, her senses sharpen until the air sings with information. He smells like sea air and the sweat of too many people – fresh off the boat from the mainland.

He walks with his back straight, shoulders even and footsteps carelessly loud, as he approaches the window. The strut of an alpha. Confidence and carelessness. Jane pulls tall and still.

"Are you supposed to be back here?" Billy asks, darting a confused glance at Jane. She ignores it, him, in favour of Hoskins.

(Only once has Jane ever challenged another, with Eddie trapped in a car between two furious Tyrannosaur, and not until today has she felt the desire to make that terrible sound again.)

"Trust me, buddy, I've got clearance." Fists tucked against his hips, Hoskins laughs once, throaty. "Look at that damn thing! Pandora, right? The box that should never have been opened. Seems fitting, in a way."

Jane almost shows her teeth. She takes a silent step forward, just far enough that she is between Billy and Hoskins. "What division are you with?"

"InGen Security. I'll be relocating here for the foreseeable future."

"Thorne is head of Security."

"She is, and I've got a lot of respect for what she's done. Running this ship? Whew. That takes some discipline. Now, however, there are concerns further up the chain. Big boy in there," he hikes a thumb at Pandora, "was designed, grown, and raised for months right under her nose. Clearly, Captain Thorne has too much on her plate – I've been brought in to take over Security."

Jane reels. A hiss slides between her teeth. "What?"

"We're separating the divisions. ACU will fall under Throne. Security is mine." Hoskins' stare slicks with greasy light when Jane rumbles in bewilderment. "Don't worry. We're just doing what's best for the future and keeping everyone safe."

Jane is silent. A familiar touch settles against her spine, a reminder and a comfort all at once. Fingers press against muscles coiled tight in preparation for anything. Jane does not relax, but she also does not stop Billy from edging around her.

(His touch remains anchored. Firm. Grounding.)

Just slightly, she leans back into Billy's palm. Jane focuses on the contact and not on how hard her heart is thundering, how her head is spinning.

(What is happening? What, what, what is happening?)

"Is this changeover effective immediately? My research team on Isla Sorna is dependent on Thorne's people for supplies and in the event of an emergency."

"Don't you worry, Doc, we'll still be at your beck and call if those walls of yours fail. My boys are tough as they come." Features pinch into a smirk, smug and cool, and Hoskins turns that vile stare back towards Pandora. Only-

Only Pandora is gone.

No white is visible in the paddock. No trace of it through the trees, no glimmer from beneath the water. No tail or eyes or spines peek out from behind the low-hanging canopy. Pandora is completely hidden, even from Jane.

Outside, on the inner walkways, Pevensie is calling for Pandora with a stern befuddlement. At odds with her behaviour over the last three months, Pandora does not respond.

"Where did she go?" Billy scans the paddock, visibly perplexed. "Since when could she move that quietly?"

Since always, Jane answers in her head, she was simply smart enough not to reveal that she could.

(Clever girl.)

Gut twisting up like mangrove roots, Jane's lunch threatens to come up – as it always does when the truth of Pandora's creation makes itself known.

"Aint that interesting." Hoskins' teeth gleam, and Jane burns with the need to bare her own. "And I thought the reports were embellished like the daytime dramas my ex-wife used to watch. Tell me something, Jane, just how smart do you think the Indominus Rex is?"

"Too smart." The confession slithers from her tongue, rattling and hissing in her chest like a cornered snake. "Don't you agree?"

The silence, the slow smirk that creeps over Hoskins' jaw, is her answer.




"There's something about her that just…" Owen makes a fist, as if he were trying to capture smoke. "I dunno. It's like an old memory proddin' at my mind and I can't quite remember the details, no matter how hard I try."

Eric fluffs the dust out of his hair and joins Owen at the observation window. Below, Pandora splays herself in the late-afternoon sun like a great cat. White scales glow in the golden light. She watches them, sleepy and content, and stretches her bulk out over the grass. It's nice to see her so calm after days of restlessly stalking her territory for a threat no one but she could see.

(Susan has been worried. She's tried to hide it, but Eric has seen through her smiles.)

"Pandora unsettles you." Eric subtly sniffs at his shirt even though he wasn't on manure duty today. "She unsettles a lot of people."

"Hybrids will do that. Especially one with a face like that."

"Hey," Eric protests, because Pandora is his girl and he adores her. Even when she decides to play hide and seek, to the point where her carers are pulling their own hair out in frustration – which Susan has also been doing a lot of lately.

A low chuckle that tickles Eric's insides. "You ready? Booked us a table this time."

"That's a shame. Last time we went to a restaurant I rather enjoyed watching you try to slip the hostess a tip to get us a table faster."

"Yeah, well, maybe that was my goal. Impressing you and all with my smooth people skills." Their hips bump when Owen loops his arm over Eric's shoulders. It's heavy and warm, and Eric leans into Owen's side with relish after a long day. "Worked, didn't it?"

"Sure. You believe what you want."

Main Street is heavy with people as they leave the Indominus enclosure. They weave along the edges of the thoroughfare, dodging children and oblivious guests as they cross paths, and take their time ambling to the restaurant. On arrival, they are seated almost immediately.

Their table is tucked away in a quiet corner, which affords them a level of privacy that Eric takes advantage of. He hooks his ankle through Owen's and isn't shy about it either. Two months they have been seeing each other. It has been a wonderful, exhilarating time. Full of more sass and sweetness than Eric was expecting.

Whatever it is that has grown between them, Eric likes it.

(He thinks, too, that one day he might even love it.)

"Pandora is looking good. Got some proper fat deposits and muscle tone now that her growth is slowing."

"Susan's good at what she does." Their food arrives, and Eric thanks the waiter with a smile. He fiddles with the fork. "Spit out whatever it is that you want to ask about Pandora, Owen."

Unlike many people, Owen isn't one to fidget out of nerves. He is completely relaxed as he says, "You notice that whenever Jane is around Pandora tracks her, observes how she acts and reacts to people and things."

Setting the fork down, Eric lets the backrest take his weight. "No."

It's noticeable, the moment Owen chooses to not hold anything back. Dragging a thumb over a stubbled chin, he bows forward and leans his elbows on the table. An air of secrecy settles over them. Anticipation tingles up Eric's spine and he fights not to worry his lip.

"Pandora seems to take her queue from Jane, 'specially when it's someone new, or someone Pandora hasn't seen Jane interact with before. Kind of like a kid watching how their parents treat new people. She just…seems to base her own behaviour off of Jane's." Green swallows the low, warm light suffusing the restaurant. By Owen's eyes or the severity of what he speaks, Eric is transfixed. "That new guy on your team - the paddock tech. Pandora stalked him the other week. She came outta nowhere and rammed the glass hard enough for the damn wall to shake. For the glass to scar up."

Eric rubs the pads of his fingers against the silken tablecloth. He knows the man and incident Owen speaks of – and how it has rattled Susan. "He was fired on Wednesday."

"Yep. After Jane and I told Susan that he was harassing the female staff." Owen exhales slowly, like he is trying to keep his voice level. "Jane and I caught him in the act, and boy did she go off – kind of terrifying to witness, to be honest."

"She's protective."

"One way to put it. Burred up like an angry cat and did that snarly-growl thing. Had the fool cowering in a corner faster than you could blink – and I'm pretty sure he pissed himself a bit." An unkind twist of lips curls further, becoming a jarringly unfamiliar sneer. "Not that I mind scaring the piss outta perverts filming up skirts."

"And Pandora witnessed it all."

"That she did. I was escorting him out and she went for him with everything she had. Completely ignored me."

"Oh." Eric sucks in a quiet breath. "Is that why you've been coming by to pick me up lately? To monitor how Pandora behaves for everyone?"

"A little. Most of the time I just wanted to see you, darlin'." Tentatively, Owen bridges the distance between them and swallows Eric's limp hand with his own. Eric allows it. "I did notice, though, that Pandora always seems more willing to behave when it's you working with Susan. You two have a bond with her that no one else has."

"Because of how she's seen Jane treats us."

"In part." Owen traces the faded scar on the back of Eric's hand, a souvenir from his time on Isla Sorna and bold Compy. "You two adore Pandora, and she can sense it in every action you take, every word you speak. The tone of your voices. Even the way you hold yourselves when you're around her. That is what keeps your bond growing strong. In the start, though…"

"She started to trust us because she saw that Jane already did."

"Exactly." Concern feathers lines around those green, green eyes. "You alright?"

Pressing the knuckles of his free hand to his lips until it hurts, Eric shakes his head. The thought has always been there, in the back of his head, since the moment he heard about Pandora – there are so many similarities.

There are so very many similarities.

Years of frustration, of helpless anger, hit him at once, and Eric could cry right here in the restaurant.

Pandora and Jane. Their creations are so frightfully similar. Designed in secrecy for the vile curiosity of the uncaring and sympathy-barren. Made to be war beasts and deprived of the warmth of a gentle childhood.

Jane chose to trust Eric all those years ago. Chose to let herself be vulnerable. Chose to take a chance on people, humans, even though they had kept her collared and caged.

It seems that Pandora has made the same choice – after Jane showed her it was possible, that it might not lead to more hurt.

(He wonders, bleakly, if Pandora knows a kindred spirit by sight.)

"Not really." Words are mangled by the heavy lump in his throat. "How did any of this happen?"

If Owen is caught off-guard by the sharp turn of the conversation, or how quickly Eric is becoming distraught, he doesn't show it. If anything, he remains painstakingly calm as Eric tries to stem the tide of blubbering growing within him.

It helps when Owen, sweetly, begins smoothing his thumb back and forth over Eric's knuckles.

"Well, Sorna had that creepy off-the-grid facility, so there was no oversight there. As for Pandora, suppose the bigger the company is the more places there are to hide giant, multi-million dollar hybrids. Her old pen is well off-grid too. No wonder it took that long for someone below clearance to find her."

"Please," Eric snaps wetly, "you and I are both smarter than that. She was hidden. Deliberately kept from everyone because she was never meant to be an exhibit. There are a thousand other candidates for de-extinction, but they chose to make a hybrid. A hybrid with a genome so classified that no one bummff-"

Owen's finger to Eric's lips is all that keeps him from hissing Dr Wu's name. On the surface, Owen is genial, but the intensity of his stare is serious. "Might not wanna blurt that out too loud."

In a fit of childishness, Eric licks the finger.

"Really?" Owen sighs and wipes his hand on the table cloth. "Not that I mind your tongue on me, darlin', but there's a time and a place."

Heat blushes up Eric's neck and cheeks. At the sight of it, a slow grin slides across Owen's face. He winks – or tries to. Owen can't seem to wink. He always ends up blinking both eyes, one slower than the other.

"We're in public," Eric hiccups when he feels a booted foot slide up his calf. "Are you trying to knock the loose change out of my pocket?"

"Nah. I just enjoy seeing you blush."

"Oh, my God." Stuffing a mouthful of stew into his mouth prevents him from saying something embarrassing. He chews and swallows. Although the fresh from the pot heat has faded, the food still sits warm in his belly. "Does it worry you? About Pandora taking her lead from someone that isn't her primary handler."

Owen considers, thoughtfully swirling pasta around his fork. He still hasn't let go of Eric's hand. "While Susan's primary, no."

"What about your girls to be? Are you worried they won't take their lead from you?"

Here, there is a shift. A change. Owen stills, fork poised half way between mouth and plate. A heavy stare reluctantly meets his own.

Oh, Eric thinks, that's why he wanted to ask about Pandora.

What little the stew had done to calm Eric's stomach flees on swift wings. The measly bite he has managed threatens to come back up, churning in his gut like icy slush. His hold on Owen's hand becomes fiercely tight.

"Pretty sure that I'm not the only one that's noticed how Pandora behaves around Jane," Owen intones, low and hard, and it is a glimpse of who he was in the Navy. There is something to his eyes that Eric cannot, and will not, fathom. "Haven't outright been told to cut her out once my girls are born, but I've gotten the hints – they don't want her to contaminate the project."

"You can't. She's the Overseer. She has to be involved."

"My point exactly. She's restricted to Jurassic World's dinosaurs – and these people know it."

Eric almost drops his spoon. Static fills his ears. "You're saying that if you can't get her to keep her distance…they're threatening to what? Kick up a fuss and get the project moved to one of the other islands, the ones beyond her influence?"

"Got it in one." Bleakness dims everything that is soft and bright about Owen. "I'd rather have a chat with tall, scarred, and scary before my girls hatch. Think you could arrange something soon?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I can do that."




Eric calls Jane. Tells her that Grady and he need to speak with her, sooner rather than later. Nerves hide poorly in the forcefully even tenor of his voice.

Jane worries. She agrees to meet them tomorrow morning.




The next morning comes swiftly.

Grady is already there when she arrives. Eric is lagging behind.

Before Eric can arrive, before Jane can even ask Grady what this is about, his phone rings.

As it turns out, Jane is with Grady when he gets the call.

The call that his raptors are hatching.

(In the future, she will look back on this moment and know that she had experienced the true definition of irony.)




Silent as the riverside picnic area is, Jane hears the words as they are spoken over the phone.

"The eggs are hatching early. Get here now."

And suddenly, whatever it is that Grady wanted to speak to her about is forgotten.




Grady surges for his motorcycle and kicks it into motion. He is gone in seconds, whorls of dust left spiralling in his wake.

Frozen, Jane remains. The roar of the engine softens, not yet gone, by the time she melts. She stoops, delicately picks up the phone Grady dropped with slack fingers. Plastic and glass clacks against her claws. Still lit, the screen shows that the caller was Dr Wu himself.

One second. Two seconds. The screen goes dark.

Jane runs. Follows the roar of the machine through the trees. Leaps and bounds and swings on and on and on until her ribs ache where they were broken so long ago. The road below snakes and snarls through the landscape, like the roots of a tree winding around stone, and so Jane reaches the Hammond Creation Centre first.

Just as suddenly as she had begun to run, she stops. While she stalls, heavy with unnameable things, Grady arrives with a screech of tyres.

Barely pausing long enough to park, Grady disappears inside.

Once again, Jane follows.




Grady goes into the hatchery. Jane does not.

(Jane cannot.)

Glass walls, locked doors, and security guards keep her outside. This is not a public laboratory. It is a smaller, private one away from the eyes of guests, and not one Jane has access to. She watches from outside.

Nausea cloys in her gut. Witnessing Grady welcome his pack into the world fills her with flickering, heady emotions that scrape against old memories.

Calm and steady, he bows over the nest. The eggs are wobbling, cracks splintering the delicate shells, as the hatchlings struggle. It is a sight Jane has seen many times. She knows that they must be calling for him, for she sees him responding to the tiny cries with the sounds she taught him – that she made herself so that he could mimic them with his human throat.

At Grady's shoulder, Dr Wu looks on placidly. He spares her one glance, just one, with brows furrowed ever so slightly, and turns back to the hatchlings. He dismisses her. Every instinct in Jane bellows for her to strike this threat from her territory – her home. Him and his huddle.

(Jane hates.)

Slick and red, five little ones take turns tumbling into the light. They are thin, limbs sharp and ribs too visible. Needle-sharp teeth nip at patient, unflinching hands. Gentle touches cradle fragile bodies.

(There is love in his eyes.)

Over the years, Jane has seen many hatchlings born.

By sight alone, Jane can tell that Grady's hatchlings will not last the day.




A thin noise breaks in her throat when Grady, attention ensnared by his sickly little pack, doesn't even look her way.

She wants to tell him. She wants to warn him. Plastic creaks within the steel of her grip. She realises that she is still holding Grady's phone.

(Will he give them headstones with their names scratched in white?)

All it takes is a step in the direction of the door and the security guards block her path. They are hard and unflinching, hands casually resting at the tasers clipped to their belts, and she withdraws. These are Hoskins' people. Not Thorn's. They are cold and implacable like stone, and they do not care for the duties of the Overseer.

(They are always watching her.)

Jane shows her teeth. Returns to watching through the glass wall.

The hatchlings are transferred into the rearing room. Dr Wu and Grady disappear after them.




Jane waits.

An hour passes. Grady does not reappear.

Eventually, her duties call and she has no choice but to leave.




The bar is quiet on Wednesday nights. Jane is grateful of this fact as she slips through the employee only entryway, as it makes finding her target all the easier.

In the darkest corner, Grady sits. Of the few others in the bar, none have dared breach the invisible wall he projects with a drooping scowl and hunched shoulders. Pain leeches from him. Pushing any who dare to approach away.

Jane sits at his booth, uninvited. Silently, she sets his phone on the table.

"You knew, didn't you?"

"Yes." Jane admits this quietly, softly. "I warned you of the mortality rates."

"That you did." A long pull of his drink. "Woulda been nice to hear it from you and not the good doctor, though, that they weren't gonna make it."

She looks at her hands, loosely curled on the sticky table surface. Claws gleam from the oils Sarah gifted Jane years ago to keep them healthy and clean. They are hands that have dug many graves, buried many hatchlings. She can almost smell the churned soil, feel it on her skin. A quiet, desperate sensation grows behind her sternum. Words escape her, but a song trills in her soul.

"Are you really so fucking afraid of the labs that you couldn't come in to tell me?"

Bitterness and pain. Sourness on his breath. Jane recoils; the song wilts with hurt, and then anger.

How many clutches had been thrust into her hands? Given to her to tame and train for violent purposes. Silver and faded as they are, her skin still bears the scars from their teeth and claws – they had been left too long without the guidance of a parent or handler before being given to her, and had become vicious, feral creatures.

(She had not loved them, and they had deserved better. They had deserved kindness and patience.)

She can see anger in Grady's eyes. She accepts it, acknowledges her part in putting it there, but she will not apologise for the acts of others.

"This will happen," she growls, and it wobbles thickly in her throat, "again and again and again until the hatchlings survive. Prepare yourself for it, Grady, and do not withhold your affection from them – they do not deserve that."

A broad hand settles on the table, fingertips pressing to the surface so hard that they turn pale.

"Do not," Grady hisses, stare burning and hard, "use me as a tool for repairing your own guilt."

The words sear against her skin, bright and hideously brilliant in their truth. Jane growls. Grady wears an expression that says he would do the same if he physically could. What he speaks is true, yes, but-

She leans away. Grady stills, scowl firm and not hiding the pain within him as well as he would probably like. Words, so many words, so many excuses and explanations and reasons, are snarled up in her throat before they can be spoken. Words are worthless, sometimes.

(They have never been her strength either. She is too angry and sore to try making sense to humans tonight.)

Another sound boils from between her teeth, low and trembling. It is a meaningless noise to Grady, who could not possibly know the grief and regret that the call conveys. She stands, steps away from the table. Drunk and rowdy as they are, the few other people in the bar barely notice her stalking through their midst. The exception being the bartender, who sees where her path leads and groans.

"We have a door."

Jane strides out onto the balcony.

Voice rising, he continues, "The door, Jane, use the damn door. The balcony is not-oh, for fucks sake."

The rest of his grumbling is lost as Jane leaps from the railing and into the trees. She runs until the noise of the park fades into a dull roar, and then into nothing. Then she slows, climbs one of the oldest, tallest trees this side of the Restricted Zone's wall. Once she is level with where the Brachiosaur graze, she sits. Her legs and tail swing freely.

Grady is right. And wrong. What facts he has right, however, are far more important that what he has wrong.

Guilt twists inside her. So does fury. It leaves her feeling like oil coats her insides. She remains in the tree, tasting the free wind sweeping in from the west, and wallows in the mire of it all. To feel is to be human, she remembers reading once, and some days she is so tired of feeling.

(During these moments, she misses Isla Sorna and the life before those poachers butchered half of her pack.)

(She wonders how Alice is doing.)

Jane remains huddled against the trunk on a branch that barely holds her weight until the moon hovers high in the sky.

Just before midnight, her phone rings.

Jane doesn't want to answer. She does anyway.

"Soooo," comes Grady's voice, "I was kind of a dick earlier. No. Not kind of. A real dick. Massive."

"Keep going," she hears Eric murmur in the background.

"Eric explained, uh, everything."

Wind gathers the loose strands of her hair, pushing it in to her eyes, and Jane squints against it. The tree sways enough that her belly swoops.

"I am sorry that you lost your pack," she rasps, "I know it hurts."

"Aw, shit." A serrated inhale. "Yeah, it fuckin' sucks. Still doesn't make any of what I said okay though. I'm sorry."

"Me too."

"Ya'll aint got anything to apologise for. I guess that you coulda bullied your way past security, but those guys are all ex-special forces so it wouldn't have ended well. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that I was unfair – you both don't have clearance for the labs and are afraid of them, and it really weren't right for me to poke at that bear either."

A response fails to form. Emotions too vast to name swell in her chest and thicken her throat.

"You still there?"

"Yes," she chokes, "Yes, I am here."

"Good, cause the silence is mighty disconcerting considering the situation."

Jane laughs because the only other thing she can do in that moment is cry. It's a relief, in a way, to feel the sensations shake her chest. Something rattles loose within, and she cries a few silent tears anyway.

"Thank you, Grady." The words spill out like the overflow of a swollen river, messy and wet and unrestrained.

"Pretty sure we're at a stage where you can call me by my first name."

"Owen, then." Jane smiles and stands, free hand braced against the tree trunk, claws digging into the bark. "Thank you for the apology."

"You're welcome. Uh, I think Eric wants to, hey-" there is a scuffle over the line and muffled complaints from Owen. It is Eric that speaks next, and he says in a quiet, fretful tone, "You okay, Jane?"

"I will be."

"Uh huh. How high up are you right now?"

He knows her too well. "You might faint if I tell you."

"Jesus, Jane. Where are you? I'll come pick you up as I drop this drunken fool home."




"You smell terrible."

"Nice to see you too," Owen grumbles, slouching until he takes up the entire backseat of the car with his legs alone. "Get in. We're going on an adventure."

Jane does, because Eric pleads for her to with twisted brows. "What happened after I left?"

"Tequila and super spicy chicken wings." Once the low roar of the engine disrupts the quiet of the night, Eric adds, "He wanted to throw off the audience you guys had. Some of You Know Who's people were at the bar."

"Lord Voldemort was at Margaritaville?"

Without turning away from the road, Eric reaches out to flick Jane's ear. "You know who I mean."

"I do."

"He's what we wanted to talk to you about this morning." A curl of shoulders, a chin tilting down. Hands flex on the wheel, restless. "Then Owen got the call and you took off after him."

"How did you beat me to the hatchery, anyway? I was on my bike. You were on your - your legs."

"Roads rarely go in a straight line." A glance at the rearview mirror reveals that Owen is vastly different from the sullen, grief-stricken, and angry man he was a few hours ago. Now, he is tired and drunk. "Why did you drink more because of the Huddle?"

"The what?"

"It's what she calls the idiots that used to be Pandora's handlers. Wu's people."

"Oh. Ooooh. They're scared shitless of you, aint they?"

Jane's answering grin is feral.

"Nice." Somehow, Owen further splays himself over the seat. The evidence of his earlier pain is still there, lingering in his pinched eyes and the unhappy slant of his lips. For all his lackadaisical attitude, it's still blatantly obvious that he is hurting. "Drank more because they saw our spat and I was playing it up. Throwin' them off the scent. And I was hungry."

What scent, Jane thinks, and it clicks.

Whatever it is that Eric and Owen need to speak of has to do with his raptors to be, Pandora, or Dr Wu – or all three.

No one speaks further, and the silence becomes their companion. It allows the dread to curdle in her gut, an unpleasant weight pulling at her insides.

Moonlight slips through gaps in the trees, lighting the car's interior in dizzying flashes, until the road leads them out of the jungle. At the end of a road that is thin and long, like the tip of a Diplodocus' tail, is Owen's home.

Once, Owen told her that he likes the isolation, and this is why he lives alone by the lake. Jane can relate. She likes the lake and Owen's cabin more than Eric's sharehouse. The small building, too, reminds her of her cabin high in the trees – naught but ash now, but once a home full of beloved treasures.

As they arrive, Owen seems to sober up drastically. He sits upright and is out of the car before Eric can finish saying, "Don't do anything stupid."

Eric sighs. He looks frayed, worn thin, as he slumps from the car. Humming softly, Jane goes to him, embraces her friend and pulls him close. Wordlessly, Eric clings back.

"What is it you need to say? It's weighing on you," she says into his hair. Then, when she feels his frame tighten with tension, "Tell me, Eric."

"Oh, Jane," Eric goes, "I have a bad feeling about this."




There is a firepit outside Owen's cabin. The night is unusually cold, reflecting their plummeting moods, so Jane builds a fire to warm the air. In spite of the cedar-scented smoke that soon rises in graceful plumes, the air is sour with trepidation; Eric curls up in a camping chair while Owen stretches out on the grass. They both wear pensive expressions.

This day has been awful. Jane does not look forward to what they have to say.

She sits, folds her legs to the side, and lets her tail stretch out behind her.

"Speak," says she.

They do.

(Jane is right. She does not like what they have to say.)




No detail is left out. No concern forgotten.

Jane's companions hold nothing back, and had the words not made her sick with rage she would have been more grateful.

Nervous energy pulses in her blood, twisting like snakes beneath her ribs, and Jane snarls thunderously. Owen does not back down. He does not even flinch, and a deep, primal part of her is grimly pleased.

"I will not waive my duties as Overseer," Jane rumbles, low and furious, "but I will do as you ask – I will remain distant from your pack."

(She hates it. Hates it terribly, but she will grant him this if it means the raptors will be safe.)

(He can keep them safe in a way she will never be able to.)


She is placing an uncomfortable amount of trust in Owen. By the way Owen watches her, he knows it too. Good.

They have shared terrible things with her tonight. Willing or not, Jane must do the same, for Owen and his pack are at risk and Jane trusts Eric with all things. "You are not alone in your suspicions," she reveals, and tells them of Claire's inquest.




The truth causes Eric to descend into a rant the likes of which Jane has not seen before. He snaps and snarls, much like she did only minutes before, and wrestles words with cold fury until they are a little more than a growl.

Owen is silent. He seems unsurprised – not by the details, but by the events unfolding.

Slightly calmer, Eric snaps a stick in half and jabs at the fire, "After hearing that I am certain that Wu is at the head of all of this."

Owen asks, "You reckon Wu's got that much sway up the chain? To be able to throttle the park like this and keep so many high-ranking folk in the dark?"

"Yes. Do not underestimate him, or anyone he works with."

"Jane," Eric begins, raggedly and with a dawning horror pulling his eyes wide, "is he one of the people that-that…"

"Made me? No. That man is long dead." She watched him die, choking on red and with his guts on the ground beside him. "Wu was never interested in human DNA; the others enjoyed that fact, and that their project was happening without his knowledge."

Every part of Eric is taught, coiled and ready to pounce. She can sense it. The stick is further broken until it is little more than splinters and tossed into the fire. Owen stares at the flames. Jane's heart aches for so many things.

(Empathy. Another human emotion she has learned to suffer over the years, but these past few months have almost made it physically hurt. )

"You must act as normal," Jane warns, a bitter, snarling anger curdling between her ribs. "Do your jobs and do them as you have been. Proof must be found and the conspirators routed before we move on Wu."

(There has never been a greater desire within her to become The Ghost of Five Deaths again, to chase this threat from her home, but this is not Isla Sorna.)

(But she will still protect it.)




The pack is sleeping by the time Jane joins them. Sickle rouses, yawning and churring an inquiry.

"Oh my Sickle," Jane shudders and curls up against her. A heart beats against her cheek, steady and calm. Scents of home and pack settle the wild, thrashing emotions piling up beneath her breast. Jane settles. "Life seemed so much easier not so long ago."

Hunt. Eat. Play. Sleep. Fight. Learn. Explore. Repeat.

And then InGen came back.

Sickle nuzzles Jane's temple, singing a low song that makes Jane want to cry.

"I know they want to control the raptors. Use them. Make them weapons. No matter how they disguise it I know the truth."

Crooning, Sickle blows warm air through Jane's hair. The grooming wakens the others enough that they shuffle closer, sleepily draping themselves over Jane until she is buried beneath teeth and claws and leathery hides.

Small and safe this makes her feel, and Jane is grateful.




A day later, Simon leaves the island.

Jane thinks that he believes her. She wants to ask. She catches him just before he climbs into the helicopter, his message of "I have inquiries of my own to make, my dear," ringing in her skull.

He sees her, leaping up the fire escape, and stills. One hand grips the door handle, the other pinning his tie down from the winds whipped up by the machine. Jane winces against the noise.

Simon waits, guarded.

Jane knows that she has hurt him, just as he has hurt her.

"Stay safe," she says, because she knows what humans are capable of, what they will do to keep their secrets hidden. "Come back, Simon."

It's not forgiveness. It's not an apology.

But, for now, it might be enough.

A glimmer of the young man Hammond introduced her to so long ago reappears. A smile, a wink behind tinted glasses, then he is gone.




Amanda pretends not to notice the little girl staring at her. It doesn't happen that often, Amanda being recognised for her rare appearances in the gossip columns, but when it does she does her level best to ignore it.

(She doesn't know how Eric deals with this. How Jane does.)

Amanda sinks back into her research. Every now and then she remembers to take a sip of her tepid tea, mindful of the illusion she casts. Words spiral on her screen as she jumps down another rabbit hole of potential leads.

(The man, Dogson, never returned, but she has a gut feeling he's still out there.)

(Still watching.)

The café is noisy enough that Amanda doesn't hear anything beyond her table, the click of her laptop's keyboard, until a soft, "Excuse me," splinters her attention.

She blinks. It's the little girl. "Oh. Hello."

"Hi." A smile, small and shy. "You're Jane's friend, right? There was a picture of you two eating icecream in the news."

Ah. July last year, when Amanda visited and took Jane out for her first gelato. "I am."

"Is she better?"

"Better?" Amanda shuts her laptop. "What do you mean?"

The child, who looks all of eleven, chews on her lip. Averts her eyes to the floor. "Mama hurt her. Here," and she reaches around to touch her back, exactly where Jane was stabbed.

Amanda fights to keep a straight face as the realisation slams into her, almost knocking the wind from her. This is the child that Jane saved. Asha. It's been years since that terrible day.

"Jane is better. She healed up just fine." Amanda scans the café. "How are you? I know that whole day must have been quite scary."

Asha shrugs, twiddles with something in her pocket. "I'm okay."

"And your mother?"

"Better. Lots better." Asha pulls a letter from her pocket. It has been folded and refolded many times. "Could you give this to Jane for me? Please? I wanted to…thank her, for saving Mama and me. Again."

Guilt. Fear. Amanda recognises them both. Knows their flavour. One so young should not. Amanda takes the letter and slips it into her purse.

"I'll make sure that she gets it."

Relieved, Asha grins. She's missing two teeth. "Thank you!"

"You are very welcome." Amanda wonders if Asha is here alone. "Why not send your letter in though? Jane reads her fanmail." And keeps every drawing or photo children gift her. A whole wall in her cabin is smothered in them.

Those dreadful emotions return, dimming the splendour of Asha's joy. "Papa said it wasn't a good idea. But my friend said it was too important to not be a good idea."

"Your friend sounds smart."

"She is. Too smart, if you ask her nanny." Asha turns. Amanda follows her line of sight to an older woman, thin and stern-faced, with another young girl at her side. The latter waves, while the former makes a sharp, beckoning motion. "I have to go."

Amanda watches them leave. She wonders, absently, if Asha is expecting a reply to her letter.

"Friend of yours?"

"No. Not mine." She calmly tells the figure that slides into her booth. If he doesn't recognise Asha, she won't mention it – or the terrible memories it might remind him of. "How was your trip?"

Simon's disguise is casual, made to be forgettable and plain. The cold, windy weather permits him to hide his face behind a heavy scarf and sunglasses. There is not a sleek suit, silken pocket square, or pair of polished shoes in sight. Although it is the third time she has seen such a plain disguise, it still catches her by surprise.

"Fine." He slides a fresh mug of tea across the table. "Although there was a tailwind that made our descent a little bumpy."

Amanda relaxes. It is safe to talk. "I haven't found anything."

"I wouldn't have expected you to, not with how difficult it was for my people to find a lead."

"You found him?" Amanda leans forward, eager

"No. But, we found who he worked for in the 90s – Biosyn, an old competitor of Ingen that was fond of theft and corporate espionage. John spoke of them little. He did mention, though, that before they folded InGen had several breaches." Simon's brow purls, mouth pulling down. "Biosyn was never fully implicated, of course, but John was convinced."

"How does that help us now?"

"Biosyn died. Dogson moved on, or he was recruited for his skillset. Given his interest in Jane, I have reason to believe that whomever he works for now might have been involved with the remnants of the rebel InGen agents."

This is not the first time Amanda has received ill news. It's a familiar thing, the chill that emanates from her bones and crawls under her skin, how the words painfully scribe themselves into her soul, the way that her lungs and heart squeeze as if held in a tight fist.

Ill news has been a toxic friend.

(Your son and brother are missing.)

(Mum is dead.)

(The results came back positive.)

(Poachers have attacked Isla Sorna.)

Deliberately, she takes a sip of her tea. Swallows back the tears and rage. Stifles the urge to shake the information out of Simon.

"So," she begins, soft, "the people that made Jane – you've found them."




Two more clutches of raptor hatchlings die. The second clutch is so weak, she is told through whispers, that they die within an hour of hatching. The third last three days.

"Owen's not doing well," Eric confesses, and Jane hears, smells, sees the defeat in him. It burbles inside of him, thick and pungent until his whole demeanour is drenched.

As promised, Jane has kept her distance from IBRIS and all involved. It might be necessary, but she does not think it right. Not when she knows this pain, knows how it feels to have those little lives in her hands only for them to fall away. There is something about raptors that is slippery, that makes even Wu struggle to find the perfect mix of modern and ancient DNA, and the attempts in finding that balance hurt.

(Hatchlings know the voices of their parents and pack. Before they even hatch, they know the sound of their protectors.)

(When Owen's raptors hatch, Jane knows they look at him as mother, father, and protector. They will look at him as if he is everything.)

"Makes me glad that I never had to go through this with Pandora."

It's guilt-laden and honest. Whispered as a rasp. Jane curls an arm over Eric's shoulders and pulls him close, squeezes, and rumbles softly, "Do not feel bad that you did not have to suffer."

Eric clutches at her shirt. "I don't know how to help him."

Jane does. She shuts her eyes, ignores how old (old and hated) memories make her want to swallow back the words, the offer. "I do," she says, and hopes it is not a mistake.