Author's Note: The first chapter hath arriveth and business is picking up. Originally I had this split into two shorter pieces, but reading over it, it flowed better as a singular piece so I combined the two. There's a table near the middle that displays the dinosaur population, but it didn't exactly translate very well from Microsoft Word, so my apologies for that. Anywho, enjoy the chapter and stay tuned for the next one!
As the sun rose on Isla Nublar, the skyline turned a flaring orange. A Boeing 747 ripped through the clouds above, slowly descending toward an airstrip in the southwestern region of the island. The commercial plane had a unique red and black logo of a dinosaur skeleton on its fuselage. From the view of the plane, a long, winding track raised by thick pillars could be seen leading from the air field to a section of the island further north that was populated by many buildings, a giant man-made lagoon in the center.
"First plane of the day," said Jenna Bryce, leaning back in her chair and lowering her headset. She took a short swig of her Red Bull, setting it down next to two plastic models – Tyrannosaurus rex and Baryonyx.
"The first of many," Erik Gates said, bringing up a screen of numbers and charts on his computer. He sat at the console next to her. "JF1 is doing two more flights than usual today. It's completely booked for the entire weekend, and so is the cruise. Security's gonna have a hell of a time. We'll be at capacity by the evening."
On the other side of Gates, another man chimed into the conversation. "Who wouldn't want to spend 4th of July weekend at a dinosaur theme park?"
"True. Dude, look at this shirt I got." He pulled open his button-up to reveal a black shirt with a picture of Ronald Reagan riding a Velociraptor and firing a submachine gun with the United States flag waving in the background. "Pretty epic, right?"
Jenna giggled and shook her head at the absurdity of it.
Darren chuckled. "Yeah, I'd love to see someone try that with one of our raptors. God, those things are fucking vicious."
He swiped across his screen, bringing up a camera view labeled PADDOCK 7. The camera was high up in a tree, pointing at an angle downward. There was some kind of creature hidden behind a cluster of trees, only its slit pupil visible, staring back at the camera as if it was watching for something. It sent a chill down his spine, so he switched to a camera viewing the brachiosaurs grazing near their lagoon.
"Baryonyx would wreck 'em," Jenna said confidently.
Erik shrugged, being mostly indifferent to her favorite dinosaur. "I'm telling you, Sarcosuchus is where it's at. I mean, a 40-foot crocodile? That's gotta—"
The control room doors slid open and Jonathan Steele stepped in. A man in his late 50s, he was a savvy entrepreneur and businessman, slightly above average height with a slender build and a mildly thinning hairline.
"Good morning, sir," said Darren.
"How's my park doing?" Steele asked, putting his hands to his hips.
Jenna put her headset back on, typing on her interactive screen. "Live count is currently 22,538 and we're expecting to reach park capacity by JF1's final departure tonight."
Steele raised his eyebrows, slightly impressed. "Not bad. Any incidents while I was away?"
"Some system bugs here and there," Darren began listing the problems, which added up to about a dozen or so, some of which were continuous problems at the park. He paused as he arrived at the final issue, aware that it could anger his boss. "Oh, and, uh...a few days ago the Spinosaurus knocked a tree into the northern fence of its paddock. ACU took care of it before it could do serious damage, but it sure scared the shit out of the visitors on the Safari Tour at the time. "
Steele sighed softly. He knew the Spinosaurus was trouble the moment they moved it from Isla Sorna, but it was such a huge draw due to Dr. Grant's book that it would've been foolish to pass up the opportunity. The amount of revenue generated from the guests morbidly hoping to see a fight between the Spinosaurus and the Tyrannosaurus rex was enough in itself to justify having both species in the park. That's what he told himself and his investors. Speaking of which, his phone alarm went off, reminding him of a meeting with more investors in fifteen minutes.
"So we're good otherwise?"
"Yes," Darren confirmed. "For the most part, we're running smoothly."
"Alright. I've got another meeting to get to. You guys have a good 4th of July." Steele began to turn when he noticed Erik's shirt. "Nice shirt, Erik." He hurriedly left the room as Erik cracked a proud smile.
"Right up ahead we have the Hammond Creation Lab!"
Four men in business suits climbed the first flight of the Visitor Center's marble stairs, being guided toward the Hammond Creation Lab's second floor entrance. The four men ranged drastically in age. Henry Calloway, the youngest, looked no older than 30 with a full head of brown hair and plenty of motion in his step; the oldest man, Stanley McMahon, was well into his 60s, his head balding from the back and his walk aided by a cane. Behind Mr. McMahon in age was Brandon Graber at 47, his thinning black hair parted on the side and greased. The final man, Andrew Tanner, was barely 40 with a shaved head and gray stubble. They were all dressed in formal suits, and all but Mr. McMahon had a tablet that they used to jot down notes.
Kathryn Beckinsale led them. Despite her relatively short stature of just 5-foot-4-inches, you could easily pick her out of a crowd due to her bright bleached blonde hair and darkly tanned skin. She was outfitted in tight ankle-length khakis, curving wonderfully around her toned legs and butt, which Mr. Calloway was quick to notice. Her black T-shirt had the park's logo on the front and STAFF printed on the back. Around her neck was a blue fabric keychain that housed her staff pass.
"The lab was built in memory of the late John Hammond, the founder of the original park," she said, showing them through the automatic metal doors. When she smiled her cheeks rose up like a chipmunk's. "It's a big hit with the little ones. Feel free to take pictures or record video."
Inside was a long hallway with more marble flooring that curved near the end and down into the first level. Windows made of bullet-resistant glass covered the walls, allowing the five to view down directly into the high-tech lab, the four men seeing for the first time how dinosaurs were made. Suffice to say, they were in complete awe—even the oldest gentleman was trying not to push his face into the glass. Children and parents mingled in the area around them, snapping pictures and excitedly talking amongst themselves about watching dinosaurs being born.
"My word, I wish they had this when I was a lad," Mr. McMahon said, astonished at the mechanisms inside the lab.
"We have the top geneticists on the planet all under one roof," Kathryn proudly said, gleaming down into the lab. She had given the tour to many a guest, but the complexity of the lab still managed to impress her each time. She'd seen more than a handful of the dinosaurs being born right before her eyes, and she'd even grown fond of a few, often visiting them in the park when she could. "All of the dinosaurs you'll see out in the park—from Tyrannosaurus rex to Compsognathus—are because of them."
Mr. Graber asked, "All of them are bred here? It seems a bit small."
"Not in this lab specifically," she clarified. "This is what you could call our 'show lab.' Some of the animals are bred here, but the majority of them are bred in our second, larger facility near the mountain north of us. I'm sure Mr. Kent wouldn't mind if I showed you later."
"What about the ones bred in the park?" Mr. Calloway wondered, moving closer to Ms. Beckinsale. "Surely the animals get the urge to...you know...from time to time." He made a slight motion with his hips in reference to the activity. "That must result in babies at some point."
"They can't breed because they're all female, right?" Mr. Tanner followed up, facing his guide. "I remember reading something about that in Dr. Grant's book years ago. It didn't work out so well that time."
"Sort of," she answered the two. "Most of our animals are female. We do have a few males, but unlike the animals in the original park, none of ours are born with the necessary chromosomes to reproduce. It's a safety precaution that our lead geneticist Dr. Bernard Shaw put in place to help with population control. Trust me, our animals are one hundred percent unable to reproduce."
"And how many animals are on the island right now?" Mr. Tanner asked.
"We currently have twenty-seven different species for a total of 220 animals, and we plan to introduce more in the near future."
Mr. Tanner took note of the specific numbers on his tablet. Out of the group, it was his specific job to gather as much information about the park's ecosystem as he could: how many dinosaurs there were, the different species, how they interacted, their general behavior, what it took to care for them. He was more knowledgeable of the park than his partners, but he still knew little about it. What he did know he had learned from Dr. Grant's books published after the Isla Nublar incident in 1993, almost twenty-two years ago, and the second Isla Sorna incident in 2001, fourteen years ago. He had a moderate interest in dinosaurs, so when his media company was approached by the park, he volunteered to inspect it. He'd also promised his little girls souvenirs, intending to bring back whatever he could, which reminded him he needed to take pictures of the lab before they moved on.
He set up the camera mode on his tablet, positioning himself to get single and panoramic shots of the lab. He noticed his partners began doing the same thing.
"Are y'all ready for the Safari Tour?" she asked happily.
"Uh, if you don't mind, I'd love to see the control room before I venture out into the park itself," Mr. Graber replied. He faced his cohorts. "You guys go on ahead. I'll meet up with you later."
Kathryn nodded quickly. "I don't see why not. If you'd please follow me this way—"
"Gentlemen! Welcome! Welcome!"
Mr. Kent's hearty voice bellowed out as he enthusiastically greeted each of the four investors, hopeful in securing their backing for the park's future.
"I hope the day has gone well so far."
Henry said, "Better than expected, thanks to this gorgeous woman here."
Kathryn giggled nervously at the man's obvious attempt at flirting, then faced her boss. "Mr. Kent, I was just about to send them off on the Safari Tour. And Mr. Graber requested to see the control room if that's okay with you."
"Sure, I can take you there myself," her boss responded. "Kathryn, it's the 4th of July. After you've gotten them all settled, go enjoy the rest of your day!"
She nodded graciously and walked off, the three close behind, Henry following her backside with his eyes. Mr. Kent clasped his hands and led Brandon in another direction.
"I presume the plane ride here went well," Mr. Kent said, guiding his future investor through the hallway and around the main lobby. "No expense was spared when hiring the best pilots. Now, you arrived via Jurassic Force One, a top-of-the-line Boeing 747 custom-made just for the park. It is our primary method of transportation for guests, but we've found that the older demographic prefers our cruise ship, the S.S. Hammond." He shifted to absorb his guest's approving glance, and then continued on with his expository lesson. "The building we're in right now is the Visitor Center. It's the main activity hub of the park. It's here that guests get a chance to see how we make our dinosaurs in the Hammond Creation Lab, which you just witnessed. There are over 100 interactive exhibits, including guided tours and skeleton digging. The building itself is 20,000 square feet and fortified to withstand a hurricane like the one that hit the island in 1993."
Brandon prepared his tablet to take notes. "On the subject of hurricanes, what measures do you have in place for natural disasters such as those?"
"We have four emergency bunkers around the central part of the island that are fortified to survive an F5 tornado, stocked with enough food and water to last an entire month. Not to mention, as you'll see shortly, our control room is equipped with state-of-the-art forecasting, giving us advanced warning in case of hazardous weather."
Nodding approvingly, Brandon tapped away on his tablet. He figured a place like this would have only one bunker like most amusement parks, so for it to have four was beyond his expectations. Of course, having emergency bunkers was only one point on his long list of safety precautions that he needed addressed before he could give his approval. Safety was his number one concern going into this assignment, and after the last park failed miserably on that front, he wanted to make sure he covered everything.
"Mr. Graber, I understand you've got a particular interest in our ability to keep this island safe?"
"Yes, I do. I was a security advisor before transferring to the business side of things."
"Then you'll love our security station. It's five minutes northwest of this building. We'll be traveling in one of our armored vehicles."
Two polished Ford Explorers in jungle camouflage slowly rolled through the lush greenery, following a man-made trail in the ground. The vehicles had LED push bumper grill guards on them, as well as towing equipment. Each cabin was complete with park brochures, flashlights, flares, battery packs, and a center console that controlled the vehicle's systems (other than its predetermined driving program); the console also had a guide to the entire island, including dinosaur and attraction information.
"Ankylosaurus magniventris lived sixty-six to sixty-eight million years ago and was discovered in North America in 1908," the female voice recording explained.
"The ankylosaurs!" children anxiously squirmed in their seats, smushing their faces against the windows.
Near the riverbank was a cluster of the animals, nearly as large as the average school bus, all grayish-brown in color with dark gray armor. They lapped up the river's water similar to dogs, making some of the children giggle and make references to the family pet. The parents were mystified at the sight of such beasts, snapping pictures and recording video to show their friends and family at home.
"These dinosaurs can reach a height of ten feet and grow as long as thirty-six feet. They mostly feed on the bushes and trees low to the ground, and live in jungles such as this, preferring to be near water sources. Their bodies are heavily protected by thick, bony armor and spikes, and they have a tail with a heavy club at the end that they would use against predators. Even large predators such as the Suchomimus would seldom try its chances against these Cretaceous beasts."
One of the animals turned slightly, noticing the vehicles, but shifted back to its drinking source with an uninterested grunt. It seemed indifferent to the foreign objects passing through its territory.
"Mommy, what if it hits us with its tail?" whined one of the little boys to his parent, who tried to comfort him.
Almost as if on cue, the female recording said, "The animals know not to attack the cars. We're perfectly safe in here. If they get too close, a high-frequency beacon from the car will go off. But don't worry, folks, the beacon doesn't hurt the animal."
As the trucks traversed the land, three River Adventure kayaks passed along the stream, staying only a few feet from the drinking ankylosaurs. The passengers of the kayaks and trucks waved to each other in courteous fashion as the kayaks pulled further ahead. The trail curved, sending the Explorers in a different direction.
"Next we'll venture into Carnivore Country, where we'll see dinosaurs like the Velociraptor, Baryonyx, and the king itself, the Tyrannosaurus rex!"
A black Hummer H2 pulled into its designated parking space, joined in a row of three others. A man in a dark gray tactical uniform stepped over to the passenger side, escorting Mr. Kent out of the vehicle.
"Thank you, Spencer," Mr. Kent said, straightening out his suit and waiting for his guest. When he had exited, he gestured to the space they were in. "This is the garage of the security station. The control room is on the second floor, so if you'll please, follow me."
As they walked, Brandon couldn't help but survey the garage, noting its overwhelming militaristic feel. Along with the Hummers, there were rows of ATVs both in basic black and camouflage, a row of heavily armored convoys, two large Chevrolet Suburbans, and a Dodge Charger.
A group of six individuals in tactical uniforms left the elevator, headed toward the armory. Brandon was able to peer into the armory as he passed on his way to the elevator, getting a glimpse of the large stock of weaponry in neat, labeled rows. He was only able to make out a few rows of rifle-like weapons, but he figured there was more he had to see before leaving the building.
Leaving the elevator, the two came into a small lobby with a few desks against either wall where blue-shirted employees worked on reports. They headed through a hallway with grated floors and steel plated walls, then up a flight of stairs, coming to a room with a thick silver door marked CONTROL ROOM - AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY. Mr. Kent slid his key card into the locking pad, and with a short beep, the door unlocked and he pushed it open.
The men entered into a small room with the front completely covered in a gigantic LED screen. The screen was split into three sections with the center displaying a live map of the park, including stats on how many people were on the island. The left side of the screen was sectioned off into smaller screens that displayed different views of the island, from the dinosaur paddocks to the attractions to the infrastructure; the right side showed weather forecasting images and graphs. There were two rows of four consoles in front of the screen, an employee occupying each desk.
"Our control room," Mr. Kent declared, waving his arm around. "Personally, I think we've overdone it, but our head of security, Mr. Slater, insisted upon this setup."
Brandon's eyes darted around the room, trying to absorb every image he could. He couldn't believe some of the surveillance technology he was seeing. Only the biggest corporations in the world had technology up to par with the devices before him. He remembered the days when the best security around was a few armed guards and maybe one low-resolution camera at the most valuable point of the compound. Now it all seemed so automated, so much on "autopilot" in his mind.
The door behind them opened again and a blue-eyed man approached, standing beside Jenna. He wore a similar navy blue tactical uniform as the men from the garage, accented by two golden strips on top of each shoulder. He had a Heckler & Koch 9mm strapped to his right thigh.
"Ah, speak of the devil," said Mr. Kent. "Mr. Graber, this is Dean Slater."
"Pleasure to meet you," Dean said.
"This room is incredible," Brandon said, speaking like a kid meeting his favorite sports player for the first time.
"We can watch over the entire park from here," Dean said, his hands to his hips as he admired the room. "Jenna, would you please show our guest an example of what our system is capable of?"
She nodded and tapped some keys on her keyboard, the live map lighting up with red and yellow lines.
"What are those lines?" Brandon asked.
"The red lines are the electrified fences and the yellow lines are the invisible barriers."
"Where are the dinosaurs?"
"Go ahead," Dean said to her.
Jenna pressed more keys. Dozens of purple dots appeared on the map. "The dots you see are all 104 herbivores in the park." She entered another command. More dots appeared. Combined with the herbivores, the island was noticeably covered in purple.
"We have 116 carnivores," Erik said energetically.
Jonathan raised his hand to immediately quell the worries of the investor. "Keep in mind that number is bloated by the compys and gallimimus, not exactly the deadliest of predators."
The red-haired female dragged her index finger along her interactive screen at her desk, and seconds later there was a chart on the big screen, displaying every species and its population.
"We have fewer animals than the first park right now, but we have more species. More variety for the guests."
"Two T. rexes? Are you sure that's safe?" Brandon squeezed his tablet nervously.
Dean confidently said, "Of course."
"What if they got out?" asked Brandon, looking to Dean and Jonathan.
"They can't," Jonathan said firmly.
"Yes, but assuming one did somehow get out, how would you handle it?"
"Every animal has a GPS chip implanted near the base of its skull when it reaches maturity," Dean elaborated. "The chip is constantly relaying the dinosaur's location and vitals to our computers, letting us know exactly where it is at all times. It also functions as a fail-safe. If an animal were to get out, we could send a signal to the chip, which would then give the animal a mild shock. Most of the time that's enough to stop it from doing whatever it's not supposed to be doing. In the worst case scenario, the chip can be detonated like a small bomb, killing the animal."
"Thankfully we've never had to go that far," said Jonathan.
"Like I said, it's a last resort," Dean continued. "If an animal like a gallimimus were to escape, that's one of the reasons we have the Charger in the garage. It's fast enough to catch something that quick."
One of the console operators up front called for Jonathan's attention. "Excuse me for a moment, gentlemen." He stepped down to the next level, bending over the screen.
Brandon continued, "I noticed the number in the corner of the screen. You can keep track of how many guests you have?"
"We can keep track of all persons on the island, including employees. It's based on thermal technology, similar to one of the methods we use to keep track of the animals."
Brandon wrote that down in his tablet. He looked back up at the screen. "Amazing."
Dean looked over the screens in front of him, then tapped Jenna on the shoulder. "Bring up camera 0029 for me, will you?"
"Sure," Jenna replied, complying with his request.
On the left side of the map, one of the smaller screens blew up, giving a larger view of the designated area.
"They've gotten really good at hiding from the cameras in the past couple months," said Darren, fidgeting with one of his pens. "Even the ones in the trees."
Dean narrowed his eyes, trying intensely to spot one of the creatures. It was futile. They were too good at camouflaging themselves. He gave up, opting to get up close and personal instead of standing behind a computer screen.
"Pardon me for asking, but what are you looking for?" Brandon wondered, not sure what he was staring at.
"The raptors," Dean said flatly.
Darker clouds began gathering in the rosy-colored sky as Kathryn and the three investors made their way through Mesozoic Plaza, the main piece of road that encompassed many gift shops, restaurants, various kiosks, and the Visitor Center. It stretched for a couple of miles around the lagoon. On the other side of the lagoon was the hotel resort. Running high above the ground on a track was the monorail, which brought visitors from the docks and air field to the Visitor Center.
They approached a large building only a few yards from the center with a bright yellow sign on the side of it that read SAFARI TOUR LODGE. Several dozen people of all ages were lined up outside of the lodge. Kathryn presented her staff badge to the door operator, giving them instant access to the inside, where there were even more people waiting in line.
"Christ...must be a popular ride," Henry said, flabbergasted at the line.
"It's our most popular ride," Kathryn responded enthusiastically. "The first park had a something similar, but our version is more interactive and goes inside the enclosures to get you closer to the dinosaurs."
Andrew perked up, his excitement increasing as their vehicle closed in on them through a tunnel.
"I'm driving," Henry blurted out.
"Shotgun!" Stanley added in animated tone.
"Oh, you don't need to do any driving," explained Kathryn, deflating the men. "The trucks have the route programmed into their navigation settings and are automated to drive themselves."
Henry stood next to her as the vehicle stopped in front of them. "Say, after the tour, are you up for some ice cream? My treat."
Kathryn grinned, but shook her head as she opened the driver side door. "Thanks for the offer, but I'm already seeing someone."
Henry shrugged his shoulders. "Darn. He's a lucky guy. Thanks for being our guide anyway."
"You're welcome," she said, glad their conversation didn't go down an awkward slope. "Enjoy the Safari Tour, gentlemen!"
Stanley positioned himself in the driver seat, Henry taking up shotgun and Andrew sitting in the backseat behind Henry. Their truck shifted gears, inching out of the lodge. A second Explorer filled with a family of five followed three yards behind. Gone were the high-tech buildings and crowds of people, replaced by lush vegetation and trees.
"The vehicles are equipped with radios so that you can communicate with the other car as well as the control room," Jonathan's voice said over the intercom. "The vehicles you're in now are brand-new 2015 Ford Explorers with every available option. No expense was spared on the comfort of your ride. The tour itself is about an hour long. I'll meet you back at the lodge when it's finished."
Within moments the SUVs neared two enormous, primitive gates, torches blazing on either side. The gates slid open, almost so slow the first vehicle looked as if it would collide with them. Past the gates, the road turned from pavement to gravel and dirt, and the foliage grew more intense.
"I can't believe it," Stanley whispered, his focus stuck on a creature so tall he had to stick his head out the window to get a proper view of it.
The five-story-tall dinosaur was a dark beige, with each footstep sounding like a clap of thunder. There were five more of the gigantic sauropods grazing not too far away, their long necks preventing the viewers from seeing their small heads. Some meters beyond them was a gorgeous man-made lake, glistening in the sunlight above. Drinking from the water's edge was a herd of dinosaurs with unique blueish crests on their heads.
"Gentlemen, welcome to Jurassic Park."
Setting his radio down, Jonathan sighed heavily, a slight grin on his face, and observed the two Explorers as they passed through the first paddock.
"Sir, the storm is still on course for the island," Darren stated. "The National Weather Service is reporting that wind speeds have picked up by at least 20 miles per hour, too."
Jonathan's body tensed. He knew of the storm earlier in the day, but figured it would change course or at least slow down until the investors had finished the main tour of the park. Now it had grown even worse. Storms weren't a big issue; the location of the island led to multiple storms throughout the year. It was the high likelihood of the storm driving the dinosaurs into hiding, leaving the investors with an unsatisfied taste in their mouths and ruining his chances of gaining their support.
"They're about to enter the Dilophosaurus paddock now," noted Jenna as she tracked the Explorers' paths on her screen. With news of the storm, she hoped they would finish and return before it arrived. She had seen violent thunderstorms short out the circuitry in the vehicles before, stranding them in the park with the constant fear of the fences going down like in the Nublar Incident of '93.
"I'm going to check on the raptors," Dean said, heading for the door. "Keep me updated on that storm."