" O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in't!"
The Tempest Act 5, scene 1, 181-184 – William Shakespeare.
Percival von Grimm looked out of the window in his safehouse in Rio de Janerio – a last gesture from the board members who were once loyal to him. After Theodore had been informed of the smuggling operation, there had been a look into his history – all his schemes that he had ever conducted had been exposed. He was now a wanted man – this had been sent to Interpol, who'd sent it to police chiefs all over the world.
Frank. It had all been Frank. Percival had reiterated that it should be kept subtle – rather sadly, the idiot kept on resorting to extreme measures, as well as planning to throw him under the bus and take all the haul for himself. And this had gotten their operation destroyed, all of Percival's previous crimes revealed, and him a wanted man. His greed and incompetence had proven the reason for Percival's downfall.
The majority in the board that he had worked so hard to maintain had all turned on him. The board had all denied complicity in any of his schemes – they were innocent, they said. He'd lied to us, they said. Fairweather allies and spineless cowards, the lot of them – they were pretty much void of anything resembling proper loyalty.
At this, he paused, contemplating what he had just thought, before bursting out laughing at the irony of that statement – he was cursing the loyalty of the people who he'd convinced to turn on Theodore. In hindsight, he'd walked into that one.
Anyway, all of that was in the past (no pun intended) – prior failings didn't matter. Percival still had his portal – whilst it was less-than-reliable, it meant that he could set up shop somewhere else. Or maybe go freelance – he still needed some money to recruit a crew. Maybe cut out the middleman and sell directly to people who might want the animals and/or animal parts…
His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. A voice with a Brazillian accent said, "Senhor Grimm? You are under arrest for conspiracy, attempted theft, smuggling and embezzlement. Do not resist your arrest – come out with your hands behind your head." A British-accented female voice followed him, "You heard him, Percival. And hand over the gizmo on your way out."
Percival sighed and facepalmed – of all the ways he could have been rumbled, he'd never expected this. And, again, it was von Grimm.
At South American Savannah, Shira sniffed the two young female Smilodon from behind a wire fence. The two youngsters tried to make themselves look as submissive as possible in the face of this dominant individual. The two males – Diego and the adolescent, who'd been named Raul – lay down some distance away, watching it happen.
It was Leon who'd had the idea – once the two young females were back in condition, they needed a pride to be part of. Broken Fang's pride, with its careful female hierarchy, probably wouldn't tolerate them. However, with Diego's "pride" having only one female, maybe Shira would accept them, forming a second pride. So far things had been going well – soon, the boundaries could be lifted and the two adolescents would be part of a pride again. Leon turned and left, he had something to do – the other keepers
Meanwhile, at Theropod Kingdom, it was feeding time for the Tyrannosaurus. Three cow carcasses had been thrown into the enclosure. Zira, Claudandus, Terry, Gigas and Sue all ate at one, whilst Sharptooth ate separately – he remained an outsider by choice. Conversely, the young female who the Novum ops team had set loose in the park, who had been named Rhea, despite eating at another carcass some distance away, looked expectantly at the main T-rex family; she was not on good enough terms with the main tyrannosaur family to eat with them. However, it was likely that Zira would soon accept Rhea as part of the family – Gigas was beginning to make moves towards courting her; after all, all the young tyrannosaurs were all nearing adolescence, with Sue and Rhea being slightly older than the two males. Drew smiled, before moving on – he had something to do.
At Mesozoic Safaris, Jack was watching the orphaned baby Triceratops grazing with their new herd – there had been worries that the existing herd wouldn't accommodate them, but these had proven unfounded. The juveniles had integrated so well, only the most expert eye could tell that there was a time that they had been strangers. Jack smiled, before leaving.
Drew was in his office, removing some of the spy cameras Percival had had Duncan install secretly – every staff member had at least one. Cynthia had contacted him, saying that she'd tracked Percival to Brazil – they'd had a mutual parting of ways. Long-distance relationships were difficult to maintain – and, besides, it was what was best for the both of them. He shook his head and left his office.
As he walked down the office, he bumped into Jack, Leon and Nikolai, and Jack smiled at him, "Removing more of those bloody spy cameras? Jeez, he had them down every inch of the hall – talk about overkill. Still, we'd best do the washing up before we open to the public."
At this statement, the four paused; they hadn't discussed the opening in the week since they'd busted Percival. It was Leon who spoke next, "Anyone worried? I was at the start of this – our place full of people…" Nikolai sighed, "I was ambivalent, but… I do like the company you give me. I was looking for colleagues, but what I needed was companions – having lots of friends around me, that sense of togetherness. When this place is full of strangers, I'll miss what we had." Drew said, "You hate change, I sympathise." Nikolai shook his head and said, "I hate endings." Drew sighed, "Same thing, different name." Leon sighed and said, "You shouldn't resist change, you should…" Jack laughed, lifting one of the spy cameras, "If you say embrace it, Leon, I'll bop you with one of these. Besides, this isn't the end, not really. It's the middle in disguise." Drew, Leon and Nikolai thought for a minute, before Drew said, "I'll drink to that." Leon nodded, "Me too.", before Nikolai said, "Likewise, komandir."
At the entrance of Prehistoric Earth, Drew Luczynski and Theodore Richardson sat, standing to attention, as a mob of reporters surrounded them, asking a dozen questions. An American reporter said, "Ever since the facility was revealed, you've been enigmatic about its purpose. Why the secrecy? Is this, as people have said, a conservation centre?" Drew lifted his hand and shook it, "Of sorts. As for the secrecy, well, we had our reasons." The American reporter sat down, with a puzzled look, as a French reporter asked, "This is to Theodore; does this have any connection to the recent arrest of your former Head of Projects, Percival von Grimm?" Theodore and Drew looked at each other and smiled, before Theodore said, "I can neither confirm nor deny the veracity of that statement.
A British journalist raised his hands, "Mr. Luczynski and Mr. Richardson, we have been here for an hour and neither of you has explained satisfactorily the facility's purpose. Why the big mystery? What is going on?" Drew and Theodore looked at each other, each wearing a knowing smirk, before Drew said, enigmatically, "We promised you'd find out and you will – I'm a man of my word. In fact, might we show you?" The British journalist said, calmly, "Absolutely."
Suddenly, the journalists began to hear large footsteps, as if some large creature was moving towards them. Drew and Theodore looked at each other and smiled, as the American journalist turned to his British counterpart and mouthed, "What the hell?" The other reporters were looking equal mixtures of expectant and confused as the footsteps got closer and closer, before a loud, trumpeting bellow, like an elephant but much, much louder echoed through the air.
Eventually, the creature got close enough, and everyone could see it. From head to tail, it was some seventy feet long – most of this length was neck and tail, with the neck holding the small head over thirty feet in the air. There were four columnar limbs, with the front legs being slightly longer than the back ones. Its skin was a tannish green, with a lighter underbelly and stripes on its tail. A small row of iguana-like spikes ran down the middle of its back to the edge of its tail. The creature's neck moved from left to right, lazily, contemplating these new humans, before it turned, with a surprising grace for its large size and walked off, letting out a loud, trumpeting bellow.
Drew turned to the open-mouthed journalists, "That was Lightning. Don't worry, he's a herbivore." The American journalist was the first to speak, "Was that… was that… a dinosaur?" Drew and Theodore looked at each other and smiled, before Drew said, "Yes, yes, he is. He's an Argentinosaurus to be more precise. Would you believe he isn't fully grown yet?" The British reporter said, "What? You mean they get bigger?" "Yup", Drew said. It was the American reporter who spoke next, "I'm guessing you have more dinosaurs than that - how did you acquire them?" Drew and Theodore looked at each other, before Theodore said, "That is a tale you may not believe – but, at this rate, I think you'll believe anything." The journalists all nodded.
"Right, come on! Group shot! Chop chop, everyone! We've only got a couple of hours before we need to get everything ready for opening!"
Jack's voice echoed through the vet offices as everyone began to reluctantly follow Jack. It had been his idea – he had expressed a desire to "preserve the moment", before the park opened and their lives changed forever. Some of the animals were in the vet pens – having their pre-opening checkups; Zira, Sharptooth, Lightning, the allosaurs, Martha, Red, Baloo, Raksha, Keehar, Cirrus, Spiny the young Dimetrodon, now eight feet long with a half-sized sail and Rey the Gorgonops were all standing at the fences of the vet pens, as if awaiting the moment Jack would take photograph.
Jack got the camera ready, as he shepherded everyone towards the designated area; Leon and Yolanda stood together, whilst Drew stood between Leon and Adrian, putting his arms over his old friend's shoulders, whilst Alice and Will stood next to each other, with Alice looking at Will and smiling; after a few seconds, he smiled in return.
Jack, with all the energy of a wedding photographer, set a timer on the camera, "Come on, everyone! Chop, chop! I'm only taking one picture, so we've got to get this right! You too, Nikolai. Now I don't care where everyone stands", he pressed the button on the camera before running back to the group and standing next to Collete, "So long as we're all in it together. Smile, everyone!"